Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

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

Homeschooling Throughout the Year: Winter

Winter Studies ~

As homeschoolers, education can look differently throughout the year. You are not stuck with one way for the entire year. I thought I’d share some seasonal ideas with you from time to time.

In the winter, you can take advantage of the longer dark hours and do a unit on stars, constellation, astronomy, moon, and all things space. Actually going outside and looking at the stars. Now this had always been a struggle for me because I wasn’t sure I was seeing the right stars.

A couple years ago, we met a man who told us about these powerful lasers that can actually point to the stars. Really! Seriously! It’s sooo cool. Sean bought Michael one of these lasers for a gift a year ago. We really didn’t know how it worked or that it even worked very well. But last year when that same man was in town, we loaned him the laser to do a star gazing with some people one evening. He said that he changed out the battery and it worked great. We brought that laser back home and gave it try and were amazed. We surmised that either the battery was too low when first we tried it or it was not humid enough out, although it doesn’t require much.

I highly recommend this little jewel but be careful with it, as it is strong/powerful. I believe it is very similar to this one. It is also inexpensive. :)

Another thing you can do in the winter (or any time) is to track the weather. Write down the predicted weather and then the actual weather. For older children, you could have them compare weather predictions (different channels, apps, media). See if your favorite source is accurate or which source is the most accurate.

Here in Oklahoma, we get some mild days in winter (remember winter is three months long ;) ), so take advantage of the mild days and get outside. Do some nature study, comparing what you see with what was seen before (be it fall, summer, or even spring). Or you could just get in some physical activity . . . pick a sport and learn about it and its rules and practice one element of it on a nice day; it’ll be a nice break from the normal routine and being cooped up inside.

Go outside and work on adjectives that describe the weather. Sometimes the feeling of the wind blowing on your face or the sun shining down on you can help describe things better. Use the time to have them write something outside, be it a short story, paragraph, sentence, poem, or even haiku. Or just take your normal educational materials outside for a while, the sunshine (if there is any) will do you good.

Of course there is always the library. Don’t forget to take advantage of their resources. Schedule in a library day. Going to the library is an excursion for us, so we only planned one about once a quarter. Of course, we request books all the time and stop by for a quick drop off and pick up nearly weekly but with no browsing. Having a couple hours to browse the stacks is nice and can open you up to some books you would never have thought of before.

Well, I think you get the idea. As homeschoolers, your educational times do not have to fall into any box. You can night school, morning school, or noon school. You really have lots of options available to you.

I hope this gives you some ideas and helps you think outside the box.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Winter Nature Study

Winter nature Study ~

People tend to think of nature study in spring because there is so much to see. But the winter can be a good time to study nature too. Put out some seeds or nuts for the birds and then you can see what kind of birds are still around your house in the winter.

Of course, if you like squirrels, you could put out food for them too. My parents used to feed squirrels years ago and then they started feeding birds. Then they saw the greedy squirrels stealing the birds’ food. Now days my retired father will shoot squirrels that come around. :D

During the winter you can also talk about what kinds of trees lose their leaves and which don’t, the phases of the moon, stars and constellations.

Here are three websites I’ve shared before and they are still active and have some good ideas, so I thought I’d share them again today.

Taking Your Homeschool Outdoors

Simply Charlotte Mason: Winter Nature Study

Ten Ways to Study Nature in Winter

I hope these ideas help you and your children engage in some wonderful nature study this season.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Getting Ready for a New Year

Plan for the New Year ~

I believe that we should always trying to better ourselves. The beginning of a new year is a good time to decide what area I want to focus on this year. Children can (and should) do this too. I found some good printables to help.

This first one is from 2014 but it is a good one. So, I recommend printing it out and putting a number sticker over the wrong year or using some correction fluid or correction tape, to erase it, unless you are one of those that can easily edit it before printing. ;) Here is the page describing this printable. The original link went 404 on me but I persevered! :D

This one is a little different but it goes along with what a lot of people do, creating a word for the year. It also has the individual write down a want, a need, something to share, and something in which to succeed. It’s a nice contemporary printable. At the same link is a New Year’s Eve bingo printable as well.

The same site also has a really cute Year in Review. I have shared this one before, I think but she updates it every year. It is really a nice printable and colorful, although you could definitely print it out in greyscale to conserve on colored ink, if you so desire.

This one is similar to the last. It too is a year in review printable. The author shares her family history with this and it sounds like a very sweet tradition that is a great memory maker. :) Like the previous one, it has you list some of your favorite things, which could be really interesting to look back on after several years and see what changed and what stayed the same.

Then there were a few game ideas that looked interesting as well. This memory game looked really cute! And here is a page with a lot of New Year’s Eve ideas to include children. The idea on the last link for glow stick games was so cute that I’m including a link to that one as well. With the days shorter, winter is a good time to try some of these games, if you happen to live in an area that gets some warmer weather this time of year. ;)

Finally there was a really cute idea for a decoration for a New Year’s party. If you happen to be one that takes their Christmas decorations down by the first, this could work for you. I, however, am not only not home as we go to my sister’s home, but keep my decorations up until Epiphany on January 6th. But it really is a cute idea. You could get a jump on some of the decoration clean-up by taking the ornaments off the tree and changing it over to a New Year celebration tree. Check it out here. :)

Well, I believe I have rambled on quite long enough for today. I hope you have a great New Year’s celebration with your family, whether it be at noon on December 31st, midnight of the first, or some other time. (I knew a lady that changed her clocks and celebrated the new year with her young children at 8pm, so they still got into bed on time. But you could just make it a thing, there are lots of ideas out there and listed above as well.)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Think Outside the Box

Help your children be creative and imagine what the normal cookie cutouts could be. It is a good creative exercise and besides, it’s a great memory maker.

I recently saw a picture on facebook where someone had taken a gingerbread man cookie shape turned upside down and decorated as a reindeer. This reminded me of how my children decorate cookies.

Here are a few examples of what my crazy gang comes up with.

Poinsettia turned into a snowflake:

snowflake cookie ~

Ornament turned watch:

Clock cookie ~

Candy in wrapper turned drummer:

Drummer Cookie ~

If you look closely, you can see a mitten turned fish:

Mitten fish ~

Here are some others:

Alien cookie ~
cat cookie ~
more cookies ~
cookies too ~
yet more cookies ~

I hope this inspires you to help your kids think outside of the box and be creative with Christmas cookies this year. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Nostalgic Christmas Shows

My daughter was missing some of the old cartoons we had on VHS. So I looked for them online and found them on youtube. So, if you have a show you liked years ago, you may be able to find it on there too.

One Tiffany wanted me to find was one we had seen on television years and years ago and I had recorded it on VHS but didn’t get all of it. :D It is called Olive the Other Reindeer. Here is the It is called Olive the Other Reindeer. Here is the link to it on youtube. It is about a a dog that is a bit off and think ends up helping Santa solve a mystery and deliver packages. It's an odd diddy but they liked it. (opens in a new tab)"> link to it on youtube. It is about a a dog that is a bit off and think ends up helping Santa solve a mystery and deliver packages. It’s an odd diddy but they liked it.

Another one she liked and wanted me to find is one that I think most of you can appreciate. It is called Francesco’s Friendly World: The Gifts of Christmas. This one is a story about giving gifts and giving of yourself. It is a very sweet story. If your kids like music then they will love it.

Another one the kids liked and watched most years was Veggie Tales: The Toy that Saved Christmas. Red Boots for Christmas is another animated show that taught a good lesson and I found the link for it as well.

Well, that is enough. I hope you enjoy some of these videos. Please excuse the crazy link on Olive up there; I tried numerous times and numerous ways to get it to behave but I was unsuccessful. These were fond memories for my kids and me. I hope you will make some good memories with your family this holiday season.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Favorite Christmas Books

My sister asked me about these this week and I realized that I hadn’t reminded you about them. So I’m here today to right that wrong.

Advent Books ~ Lifeofjoy.meJotham’s Journey is a great book that is set up with small portions to read each night throughout the four weeks prior to Christmas. It is set at the time of Jesus’ birth and is a fun adventure for children around age 8 and up. There are some tense moments that may be a bit too much for those younger than 8 but you know your children and what they can handle. It really is a good story.

If you have read this one, then there are two sequels you might enjoy as well: Tabitha’s Travels and Bartholomew’s Passage. These are set up the same way as Jotham’s Journey and also enjoyable. :)

Good Kids Christmas Book ~ LifeOfJoy.meThis is another book I really loved to read to the kids. It’s a bit longer than most of the Christmas books I had for them but I loved it so much I got it for Christmas recently. I wrote more about it on this post.

I also wrote about another book I really love called One Wintry Night which tells the salvation story. It is a sweet book that can be read one chapter at a time and with just eleven chapters it is a shorter commitment than Jotham’s Journey and the sequels.

I’ll share a few more of my favorite children’s Christmas books in the next weeks. I’d love to know what Christmas book traditions you have. I’m always looking for a new Christmas book. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº


Khan Academy

Link Khan Academy ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy father is still in ICU from having open heart surgery, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

I have never used Khan Academy personally but my son has and has really benefited from it.

You do have to sign up for a free account but then you have access to a wide variety of lessons from all levels of math to test prep like SATs and such.

It’s worth looking into, especially if you struggle with math. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


It’s Time for Cinnamon Bear Again :)

Thanksgiving ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’m spending the day with my family over at my little sister and her family’s home which is only a few minutes from my home. Brian, Lauren, and Liam came last night and will be spending the night again tonight.

I love Thanksgiving!!! We have so much fun, although it is a lot of work getting ready. But hey, I now have a head start on everything for Christmas. :) I just love this time of year.

Cinnamon Bear ~ Lifeofjoy.meSpeaking of Christmas, have you heard of Cinnamon Bear? It was an old radio show with 26 episodes that aired in ’30’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s. It aired 6 nights a week beginning Thanksgiving night and went until Christmas.

It is an adventure of Paddy O’Cinnamon. Here is a synopsis if you want to know more details. On this webpage you will find all 26 of the audios. Finally, they are also available on this page, and if you go down to Now Try Download Land, you can download the original coloring book (mind you they are very childish drawings) that your kids can color while listening or later for fun.

The episodes are very short so you should be able to find a few minutes, even during the busy days of December, to listen to an episode. If you do happen to get behind, they are short enough that you can easily catch up again. But we have some extra days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so you have a little wiggle room. So maybe my sister Tracie and her girls will finally make it through all 26 episodes this year. ;)

One word of caution though, this does have Santa Claus in it. I sure wish I could find the old You Were There Nativity series. I listened to it once a LONG time ago on the radio and have never heard it since. Well, that’s a topic for another time. For now, go download the audios and make some memories with your kids. :)

Until next time, God bless,
Michele ºÜº

Time Sensitive Freebie people behind the Homeschool Freebie of the Day have done it again. :) They are offering a free Kitchen Skills Library.

Normally they sell this 9 pdf set for $27 but they are giving it away free for anyone that signs up for their newsletter by November 30th.

They send out 2 pdfs a week. As soon as you confirm your subscription you receive the links for the first two: The Kitchen Primer and the Sugar and Spice Unit Study on Ginger.

The first has 162 pages full of beginner tips  and suggestions for your children. You can print it out for them to have to read, review, and yes, even cook from. It includes many easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and sweets, and ideas for things to do for special days. There are even five tests, if you want to see how well your child retained the information (it also has the answer keys).

Then it has some pages to write down your own recipes and some to write down recipes you’ve tried and a place to give a rating. If I were printing this out, I would only print one or two of the additional recipe pages, as you can always print more as needed, and there are about 20 of the same page included in the pdf.

The second pdf is short but informative in its 10 pages. It is the unit study on ginger complete with a coloring page, some vocabulary, spelling work, word play, and math questions. It also includes a couple recipes, activity suggestion, and book suggestions.

Personally, I am interested in the health benefits of ginger root and the essential oil. So here are a few links for you to go with your study.

Well, I guess it would be best if I sent you over to the link to sign up for these free materials. I definitely feel it is worth giving them my email for these free resources (and I don’t even have homeschool aged children any longer ;) ). Jim Erskine has never abused my email inbox and I don’t believe he has ever given my email to anyone either and I’ve been receiving his other newsletter for many many years.

Remember this is only free to receive through the end of November and it is coming to an end much quicker than you think. ;) I am struggling to realize that Thanksgiving is actually next week!!!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

My Goal as a Homeschool Mom

goals ~ Lifeofjoy.meIn the early years, my goal as a homeschool mom was to have my children know God, what they believed and why, read, write, math, and know how to find answers to their questions.

I knew that there was absolutely zero way for me to teach my children everything they would ever need to know, so it was important for me to teach them how to find the information they need when they need it.

Growing up, I didn’t really know what I believed or why. My religion was more about the things I could and couldn’t do rather than knowing that God created the world, made man and placed him in the garden. Man sinned and needed a savior. Jesus came, lived a sinless life, died for our sins, and resurrected from the dead three days later.

If my kids didn’t watch or read certain things, I wanted them to know why. If they didn’t take things (drugs, alcohol, or smoke), I wanted them to know why. Most importantly, I wanted them to have a relationship with God themselves. This was the focal point of their education. Oh, they learned to read, write, and do math–sometimes even with tears. :D They even learned how to research and find the information they need, when they need it.

As they matured, it was important for me to turn the responsibility of their education over to them. I was to help guide them and provide materials but they needed to take ownership of it. This can be done by letting them choose the curriculum or, to some degree, the style or philosophy of their education.

Sean devoured science books in his final years. Tiffany worked on writing a book and learning about things concerning animals, gardening, and decorating a home, among other things. I made each of my children, in their senior year, be responsible for making dinner one night every week, so that they would be able to feed themselves well on their own and once they were married. Yes, even my boys; they can cook, they just choose not to. ;)

Homeschooling does not have to be hard and by no means does it need to look like schools. I think it is important to foster a love of learning so that they will continue to do so the rest of their lives, in some way. It is not good for anyone to become stagnant; we should all be continuing to learn new things.

I hope this helps, realizing that you don’t have to be everything and in charge of everything, as your child grows and matures.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº