Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

Because child rearing takes so much thought, especially when home educating.

Easter is Almost Here . . . Countdown

Easter is Here Almost ~ Lifeofjoy.meWe never did anything very big for our children for Easter. I got them Easter outfits and gave them Easter baskets with minimal candy but that was about it. Then when Tiffany was young, I saw a cute book called Benjamin’s Box which told the Easter story. It had a ‘carton’ of eggs that went with it with a little reminder of a part of the story.

You can make your own Resurrection Eggs, as they were called. Several people have put together their own version. Here’s a link to one, or here’s one, and here’s another, all these are pretty similar. These can be done over the twelve days prior to Easter. If you are going to do that this year, you better get hopping because you’re already a day behind. But you could choose to do something like this one and tell the story all in one day. I don’t think it will leave as strong an impact for ALL the individual parts but more for the overall story.

Then there are links that I should have found before Lent. These would be really good to keep remembering and preparing properly for Easter/Resurrection Sunday. This one has free printables for several holidays. For Easter it has 30 names of Jesus, with scriptures which looks really cool and could be done beginning with Easter, instead of ending with Easter (since it is nearly Easter this year). When you click to download the Holidays printables, you will be prompted to give your email address where you will be sent the link to the download; you can always unsubscribe later.

Here are two other countdowns that begin with Lent. Print it now for next year. ;) The first one is some words of Jesus every day. This one is just a group of different readings and such each day.

And finally, this one has several ideas on activities and object lessons. Oh! I nearly forgot. I shared a couple of easy, last minute ideas on this post from last year.

I hope these links will give you some ideas to make this holiday special for you and your children.

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº


Listening Pages/Sermon Notes

Listening Pages ~{First I want to beg you to please excuse the formatting on this page. I have messed with it and messed with it to no avail! I wish it were nicely formatted and neatly aligned but alas, it is not. Now on to the mess post. ;) }

I wish I had heard about these when my kids were young. It is a neat idea for children in churches where the they stay in the service with the adults. It is so tempting to allow them to occupy themselves with electronics or books or some such activity. But, although they may pick up a few things here and there, they will not be gleaning the information they could if they were actively engaged.

Well, these pages help do just that. There are even versions for young ones before they learn to read. I’m including a lot of links for you to find the version you and your children prefer. And for any of you that go to my church or one of its sister churches, and are interested in me creating one with words frequently spoken in our church, let me know (comment on this post) and I’ll be glad to give it a try.

Without further ado, here are the links for you to download and print. There are a couple different styles for children who can read.
Pre-Readers Listening Pages:
Easter Themed
Christmas Themed

Part of this one can be used with either age child.

Fluent-Readers Listening Pages:
This one has links to five different anytime pages and then links to Christmas and Easter (Resurrection Sunday) pages.
This one has a nice format.
Another anytime page
One more anytime page

With these you have to sign up for their newsletter but the sheets look really good. You can always unsubscribe right away:

From Blessed Beyond a Doubt

From Path Through the Narrow Gate

This last one has a lot of links for you to surf through:

A Link of Links

I hope these are helpful to you!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Book Recommendation: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Great Glass Elevator

~ Lifeofjoy.meSeveral months ago, Tiffany shared this thing she read online. I’m not sure exactly what link she followed but I found one to share with you. At any rate, the information had to do with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Doctor Who. Yes, we are Whovians. :) Okay maybe not Whovians but we do like Doctor Who.

The theory is that Willy Wonka is the last regeneration of the Doctor! If you follow the link above, you can read all the reasons why some would agree.

This theory had me wondering about the books, so I requested them from the library. I finally got around to reading them. I have to say that with this idea in mind, I enjoyed reading them. Not that it wouldn’t have been enjoyable otherwise.

In other ways these books are good to read, especially the first one, because it shows negative character traits in some of the other children and gives you a good springboard for conversations about these.

There’s also a section where the Oompa-Loompas sing a song about what children did before television. I’m not all that well-versed in the older books the author is referencing but I did get Beatrix Potter, of course it is pretty spelled-out for you. LOL There were a few others I recognized too. It would be interesting to use this as a springboard to find which books he meant.

The second book does show that it isn’t just children that can have character struggles and that in the end, to be happy with what you have.

Overall these were good books and if you are a Whovian, then you can really appreciate them in a different manner. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Have a Plan

The Plan ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is hard to remember the specifics now but I remember long ago, Mom told me that if I didn’t want to do something (socially) I could blame my not doing it on her and Dad. I guess she had determined that if it was something I didn’t feel I wanted to do then they didn’t want me doing it and I could safely blame it on them without it being a lie.

This really made an impact on me. I’m guessing I may have used it a time or two but never anything much that I recall, although I’ve always been a homebody to some degree. ;) It made such an impact on me that Michael and I have made the same offer to our children.

So when I read this article about having a plan, it rang true with me. The just of the article is that you and your child/teen have a plan whereby if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, they can send a simple text to you and you’ll make the necessary excuse for them to leave their current situation. I’m not giving this justice, so go over and read it. It doesn’t take very long to get to the meat of the article and it isn’t really all that long.

So, I’ll stop blathering on about it and just send you over there. I encourage you and your family to come up with a plan to give your kids a way of escape, should they need/want one. I will say that I’m not sure that I completely agree with everything stated in the article but it is a good place to start your family conversation on the topic.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Shop Class

shop class ~ Lifeofjoy.meI found this article to be interesting and thought you might be challenged by it. However, I would add HomeEc (cooking) and Sewing to this as well. When I was in high school eons ago, we were all required to take HomeEc, Sewing, Wood Shop (alternated with Metal Shop), and Technical Drawing.

I still have an item or two from when I was in wood shop and I’m very proud of those pieces. Of course, they are put away, somewhere safe, so I cannot share a picture of them with you. ;)

Even the guys took HomeEc and Sewing, as we gals took shop and technical drawing. Looking back at it, I did not care for the technical drawing  while I was doing it but I’ve always enjoyed that I know how to do it.

I had each of my children cook dinner once a week while they were high school age, even my boys. It was important that each child be able to fend for himself and help out his wife, in the future. Tiffany still helps me with dinner and is an excellent cook. Her future husband will be a blessed man.

I hope this article gives you something to think about or encourages you today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Shop Class: Teaching Against the Grain

By Ron Hardman

My eyes could barely see over the edge of my father’s workbench. As if the bench height wasn’t enough of a problem, wood shavings were piled to the edge, completely obstructing my view. Though I could not see what he was doing, I will never forget the sound. My dad was running a hand plane over the wood, smoothing it for a piece of furniture. The long, steady scraping sound held my attention as the hand plane rode over the wood, creating shavings so thin you could practically see through them. I loved the wood shop thenand I still do.

My father was a teacher for thirty-six years, with much of his time devoted to teaching shop class (also called industrial arts or vocational education). I was in shop every day after school from the time I could walk. The classes he used to teach no longer exist at my old high school. Love of the crafts is not being passed on like it once was, and schools are neglecting topics that were once considered critical life skills.

Programs like No Child Left Behind and Common Core place such a strong emphasis on college preparation that public schools are cutting their shop programs. Homeschool families may also have a difficult time incorporating shop programs. Tools can be expensive, and the subject matter is so broad that it’s difficult to even know where to begin. There is no doubt that many kids love to work with their hands, so shouldn’t shop class be part of a well-balanced curriculum?

Shop Class Defined

Before we can dive into the merits of the industrial arts for your homeschool, let us first define what we are talking about. Shop class is not a “thing.” It’s a collection of hands-on life skills that are typically taught together. Common courses include:

  • Woodworking
  • Metalworking
  • Auto Repair
  • Technical Drawing
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
  • Small Engines
  • Printing

Of these courses, woodworking, metalworking, auto repair, and technical drawing are almost always included in typical programs to varying degrees.

The Case for Shop Class

Forbes reported in 2012 that the Los Angeles Unified School District had eliminated 90% of its shop classes.1 The same story is told in countless news stories across the country. If you are in or near a major city, you have likely seen it for yourself. Money flows to college prep courses, and the typical trade classes do not warrant the significant investment for most school boards to continue supporting them.

This line of thinking is based on four assumptions:

1) Everyone can and should get a four-year college degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 27% of jobs required an Associate’s degree or higher to apply. Only 23% required a bachelor’s degree or higher.2 Like any investment, college costs and the time to get a degree must be weighed against the benefits. I am not against college. I’m only saying we shouldn’t assume everyone must go.

2) A college degree is required in order to earn a good wage.

In the April 2014 Wall Street Journal, article entitled “Welders Make $150,000? Bring Back Shop Class”3 the author cited numerous examples of very high wages for skilled tradesmen, with many earning six-digit salaries. I know a number of them myself. While there is no guarantee of this, just ask a recent college graduate whether they were guaranteed a high paying job upon graduation.

3) Kids do not need hands-on skills developed through shop class if they plan to attend college and obtain a degree.

Manual competence is often used to describe the type of skills developed in shop class. Attending college does not mean these life skills are no longer required. Even PhDs need to learn how to swing a hammer and cut a straight line for minor home repairs, or else be left at the mercy of a handyman all the time.

4) Vocational training is unrelated to college prep studies and takes valuable time away from the important subjects.

I would argue that they are actually complementary studies. Visit a construction site and talk with a foreman or architect or stop by a good auto mechanic’s shop and have him talk to you about the most recent car he has been working on. You will see math and physics in action. If you work with wood but do not understand how joints are created or the geometry required to sustain a load, then you will not have a very long career as a woodworker.

Machinists understand how metals work, how heat changes things, and depending on the type of work, they can operate some very advanced computer equipment. If a civil engineer ignores math and physics and designs a curved road without the proper considerations for material, speed, and angle, then cars will fly off of the road. Properly taught, shop classes become applied academics—a hands-on lab of sorts for other classes—helping all other areas of study.

Integrating shop classes into your home education is truly going against the grain, but doing so gives your child a great advantage in the marketplace. The skills they learn will be a large part of who they become, and it will benefit them both personally and professionally.

The Homeschool Shop Class

Lest you think I am only talking about training boys, my wife and I have four kids—three are girls. All of our kids are learning the same shop skills, and I train both girls and boys in our workshops.

I recommend you work with your student(s) side by side. Don’t overthink it, and don’t worry if you aren’t mechanically inclined. Start with something you can complete in a single day, using tools you already have, and ask your student(s) what they would like to do. Kilroy’s Workshop has a free at-home starter lesson available at

Be sure to track your hours for high school. According to HSLDA, one credit is equal to 120 hours of class time. You can count any shop class as an elective.

If you do not have the skill or confidence to train your student in a particular area, find a local trade or enrichment class, talk to a friend who works in that trade, or even stop by local businesses with your student to pick up as much knowledge as you can. Many local hardware stores offer classes. Take this opportunity to learn a new skill together. Craftsmen are in every community. Just seek them out.

If you want to dig into a topic yourself but just need a little confidence boost or instruction, join a forum. Kilroy’s Workshop has a forum that is specifically designed for kids. It requires an account and is moderated. If you locate another woodworking forum where your child is engaging with others, be sure to check the feedback, as most sites are geared toward adults.

The Legacy of Craft

We all leave a legacy, and part of my dad’s is a love of the industrial arts. When my parents passed away and my siblings and I divided the assets, the first thing I selected was my father’s workbench. It is beat up and would barely fetch $10 at a garage sale, but it is his bench. Keep the crafts alive and make the skills your children learn in your homeschool shop class part of your legacy.


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Ron and his wife Susan homeschool their four children in Falcon, CO. Ron founded Kilroy’s Workshop to train teens in shop skills, and equip homeschool parents to do the same. He is a board member of A Daughter’s Heart and 4Gens ministries, both of which encourage parents to focus on the legacy they leave for their kids. Ron is the co-author of five books, has written numerous magazine articles, and speaks at conferences on a regular basis. Follow KilroysWorkshop on Twitter to see some of our current projects. #TrainThem.

Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, Summer 2015. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.


Teaching History

Teaching History ~ Lifeofjoy.meI don’t believe that there is any one grouping of information that ALL children should be taught in school. I think you can teach any subject relating to whatever your children’s interests are at the time.

I agree with Charlotte Mason’s teaching that history should be taught chronologically, to a degree. It is hard to stay with that because there is so much ancient history to cover and then current events and even things that have happened over the last century. Grab some good books for whatever time period you are currently studying. Even easy picture books can be a very good source material.

I’ll write more about history resources next week but I will leave you with an article by Karen Andreola

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

The Power of a Picture Book – History in Literary Language

By Karen Andreola

It was the 1990s. Dean and I tucked our young children into bed with a story. We then crept downstairs into the kitchen for a hot drink. Dean took his steaming mug into the living room. A minute later, I followed.

Where’d you find that?” I asked as I entered the room. “It’s been missing for ages.” I smiled as he held up the remote control.

Under the seat cushion . . . with a pencil stub and some popcorn.”

With this shortfall in my cleaning routine staring me in the face, I said curtly, “Get up, please. I need to sweep out the sofa.”

Right now?” Dean responded with a slight raise of the eyebrows. “I just got comfortable.” He spoke calmly and glibly. “Let’s watch something before it gets too late.” He glanced at his watch. “It’s eight ten. There may be something on PBS. We haven’t checked in a long time. There might be something good on.”

Okay.” I acquiesced, but it took a minute.

Hmm, it’s a documentary,” he stated, “about the Vikings, it looks like.”

Oh, the children and I just finished reading about Leif, Eric the Red’s son. Is there a blank video around somewhere? We could record this for the children.” The Man of the House obliged me. He pushed a video into the slot.

As we watched the PBS special, a dignified man with a gray beard, in a suit to match, sat in a leather chair and spoke with authority. He was a professor. Behind him, the walnut bookshelves and paneling gleamed. A beautiful, barren, windswept hillside on the coast of Nova Scotia replaced the professor’s office, panning to the site of what was once a dig. Under the rubble of moss and lichen-covered rocks, a tiny artifact had once been uncovered. Back in his study, the professor spoke again. I was waiting to hear something I hadn’t already learned from what the children and I had read in our picture book. I grew impatient. Dean was bored but endured. After some minutes, I said, “That’s enough. No use taping this.”


We learned similar facts on the Vikings in homeschool this week, and in a more interesting manner.” Being a bookman, Dean understood.

This incident, which took place in the middle of our homeschool years, stands out in my memory. The moral of the story is no matter how expertly constructed a short educational special (for adults) can sound or appear, the book is better. In this case, even the children’s picture book was better. It brought forth similar facts, and then some. After my years of home teaching with well-written children’s books, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

During rare moments when a busy home teacher is able to sit comfortably somewhere, she is likely to be found on the sofa with a picture book in hand, her children close beside her. Cozy and sweet? Yes, it is. These cozy times, however, should not be underestimated in their power to train children in the habit of attention. And picture books, or storybooks, have a wonderful way of introducing a subject, especially history.

A knowledge of history is gained through the unfolding of a story. For this reason, history is best understood through literary language. Focusing on the story of history allows children to develop their powers of imagination. The use of imagination will be advantageous to the intellectual activity of a student in the school years that follow when there are fewer pictures in his books. The serious side of history, the details of politics and philosophy, can be saved for the older student. Through a well-written story, even a picture book such as Leif-the-Lucky, children in the elementary years can learn to see the connections between events and learn to trace causes.

Children can be asked to orally narrate back a few pages of the story in their own words. “Describe the place where Leif explored and called Vineland.” And if a teacher thinks her young student can tell her more, simply ask, “What else?” Along with the enjoyment of the story comes the mental benefit gained through the effort of narrating it.

Hearing her student narrate history is the best way for a teacher to find out what he knows. And if you compared to the kinds of facts and interesting tid-bits brought forth in your child’s narration, with what is conveyed in a video “special” presented by experts, you’ll be less inclined to undervalue the power of a picture book, if that is your tendency. But perhaps, unlike me, you won’t be surprised.

Home educators know Karen Andreola by her groundbreaking book A Charlotte Mason Companion. Karen taught her three children through high school—studying with them all the many wonderful things she missed during her own education. For fourteen years the Andreola family researched products, and wrote practical reviews for Christian Book Distributors. Knitting mittens and sweaters for her grandchildren, and crossstitching historic samplers are activities Karen enjoys in her leisure. For encouraging ideas, visit her blog:

Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, Summer 2015. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Lent Again

Lent Again ~ Lifeofjoy.meEaster is coming later than it has for a while, at least it seems that way to me. Easter isn’t until April 16th this year.

In some religions (Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, are a few I am aware of), the six to seven weeks leading up to Easter is Lent. Fasting of some kind is generally a part of it. I’m not sure what their purpose is in observing Lent but I think it is a good idea to put myself in a mindfulness of what Jesus did for me.

Christmas is important. If Jesus had not come I could not be saved. But the whole purpose for Him coming was to die in our stead. We celebrate, not only this but His resurrection. He died in our stead but He didn’t stay dead. There was no sin in Him and since He took our sin on Himself, we can be saved from the penalty of our sins, if we repent and accept Him as our Savior.

So, in my opinion, it is more important to spend some time teaching our children about Easter than Christmas. Consequently, I think it is a good thing to do something for Lent. Maybe reading the gospels aloud to or with our children, focusing on Jesus and what He said and did. Ultimately becoming more like Him and serving Him to the best of our ability. You could have a countdown to Easter, of course 6.5 weeks is a bit long of a countdown, so maybe wait a little on that. ;) You could start some Easter type crafts or decide to fast something.

I just encourage you today to think about the upcoming season and pray about what God would have you (and your family) do.

I’ve written about Lent before. You can read it here and if you scroll down this page as well. The daily devotional by Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems Volume 1, has a whole month devoted to looking at things surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection. I like to bring it out during Lent to bring it to the forefront of my thinking. Jesus paid a terrible price for my freedom. I owe Him my life. It is good for me to remember what He did for me.

I hope I’ve encouraged you today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

P.S. Don’t forget to check MyJoy-FilledLife and SwtBlessings for the new copywork calendars. ;) The new ones aren’t available yet, so don’t forget to check their websites next week.


vanilla ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis week I was researching homemade vanilla extract. I had previously learned that you can make your own vanilla at home by placing a vanilla bean pod in a skinny jar with some alcohol; vodka is recommended. Then it sits for several months in a cool dark place.

Recently a friend said she’d made alcohol-free vanilla extract and I was intrigued. She said she uses food grade glycerin and vanilla bean pods in her instant pot. Of course that made me wonder about food grad glycerin and sent me off researching.

Vanilla ~
By Hans Stieglitz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

My travels landed me on where I found out a most surprising truth: Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid! In the words of my son Sean, How did I not know this?

I was shocked! I also did not know that the orchid is the largest family of flowering plants, with over 20,000 species. There are at least 150 different varieties. To find more interesting facts, check out the FAQ at

If you want to give your hand a try at making your own vanilla, here’s some recipes I found:

Of course, no talk with young children about vanilla would be complete without pointing out that vanilla is not sweet. ;)

To complete this little foray into vanilla, make something that includes it in the recipe. It could be so many things but a good vanilla pudding from scratch would be fun. I’ve got a vanilla base pudding that I make for banana pudding here.

I hope you found this interesting. It sure surprised us!

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

A Link of Links

Music and Art Links ~ Lifeofjoy.meI was checking out the website where I got the handwriting scripture planner and followed along to another of her sites, where I found some great links. She has a page with LOTS of interactive music and art links.

There are sites to play with sound, rhythm, melody and more. They work on a tablet, phone, laptop, or desktop. There are links to sites where you can practice instruments. It reminds me of the Wii Music game, which is another great offline option.

It’s worth checking out to give your children some art and music appreciation. There’s lots to check out so I’ll keep this short today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Handwriting/Copywork ~ Lifeofjoy.meI know I’ve written about copywork before but I recently came across an article, in the new IEW catalog, entitled “Low-Tech Teaching with High-End Results.” In it there were a couple of comments that struck a chord with me.

  • Writing on paper stimulates the brain differently than typing
  • Cursive writing offers significant neurological benefits over printing on paper.
  • People recall content better when taking notes on paper rather than typing

It was a good article which reminded me of another one I read where it reported that billionaire elites limit their children’s use of technology. (I wrote about it here.)

In light of all this, I recently found some handwriting calendars that has scripture verses for every day of the month. The cool thing is that the one from SweetBlessings is written for we adults and has a shorter amount to write for the younger ones, at least for some of the months. She even has a Spanish version, if desired. She has two version, one is topical and the other is not. I’ve downloaded mine. (Once you click on the word HERE on her page, it will open up a a google drive page, just click on whichever month or topic you want/need and download or print.)

I’m starting to be interested in lettering. I’m not sure what the difference is between lettering and calligraphy is though. I can anticipate using the calendars to practice lettering. God has me doing such different things, outside of my comfort zone, lately.

There is another, from My  Joy-Filled Life, which has a single verse every day all on one topic, different each month. It is a free download but you have to subscribe to her newsletter, but she does not overwhelm you with emails. I subscribed some time ago; if you have, you still fill in your name and email and press download, then a link will be sent to your email. Her copywork printable also has some cute writing pages you can print for your children to use.

The end of the article in the IEW has a link to a podcast. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’ll include the link in case it is helpful to you.  Paper and Pen

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº