Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

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

Summer Fun Ideas

Summer Fun Links ~ Lifeofjoy.meSome time ago I came across this webpage on the Dating Divas site. They have a lot of cool things there if you have never visited their site. Usually I go there for marriage ideas but some of them are moms too and provide some ideas to do with kids too.

Here they have 50 things to do with kids. They have all kinds of ideas including indoor and outdoor activities from scavenger hunts to pajama night to “paint slip-and-slide” and much more. In true dating diva fashion, some ideas even include free printables. :

In case that isn’t enough, here is a list of 101 things to do this summer. This list has a good variety of suggestions with many that are more on the tame side. ;) There are suggestions from “Take a Hike” to “Cloud Watching” or “Stargazing” and “Plant a garden” to “Make Homemade Cards.” There really are a lot of great ideas. You could print of the page and have the kids highlight/check off the items as they do them. With 101 suggestions, it will take a little while. :)

Need even more ideas? Here’s a list of 50 free or cheap things to do this summer. And if you and your kids are still bored or in need of suggestions, me thinks you’re too picky :D but you can find so many more ideas on pinterest.

I hope you and your family will have fun making memories this summer. Read some books, make some food, spend time outside, and be sure to get in some cuddles. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Vote ~ lifeojoy.meThis coming week is the primary elections in Oklahoma. I don’t generally vote in the primaries. In order to vote in the primaries you must be registered for a specific party. The reason for this is so that people from the other party can’t get the weaker candidate on the ballot to oppose their candidate. If you want to see if your state is having primaries this year, you can check this webpage.

It is important to teach your children about civics and their responsibilities as a citizen of this country. In Oklahoma it is one of the few requirements we have for educating our children. One way we teach children about civics (and really most everything) is by what we do. If we spend time researching which candidate to vote for and go vote, we show our children that we place importance on it.

If you are looking for a curriculum to teach your children about our government and how it works, the HSLDA has some good information on teaching civics here.

I hope this is helpful to you and reminds you to check into your state’s upcoming elections.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº



Signing and Children

SIgning with Littles ~ Lifeofjoy.meI recently heard of a young homeschooling momma whose young boy, about age 7, stopped talking. I cannot imagine what challenges she is facing, especially if she doesn’t know sign language in any form.

I learned sign language from books. Truth be told, God enabled me to learn it pretty decently. Unfortunately I never had a clue that teaching babies/toddlers was a thing, as I definitely would have used it with my children when they were young because they did not really talk much until they were two years old. Brian and Lauren (my son and daughter-in-love) are teaching my grandson some sign language and it is really helping them communicate better.

I found a few links to share with you today. I hope they might be helpful.

A lot of libraries have baby sign language books and other resources available.

I found that there are lots of articles online touting the benefits of teaching toddlers and young children sign language. It can help them communicate more readily. It connects both sides of the brain and more.

I hope this helps some. As always, if you have any specific questions, let me know and I’ll try to help.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Educating the Preschooler

Preschool Learning ~ Lifeofjoy.meMuch of the little ones’ time should be spent outdoors and in play. As you do things throughout the day point out the number of things or color of items. Name body parts and objects in the home and outside. All these things build a child’s vocabulary.

To give you ideas of activities you can do with your young child, Before Five In A Row is a great resource. (I was going to include a picture of it but I cannot locate my copy just now. :( )It has a treasury of ideas to draw from in one part of the book. In the other part of the book it shares some quality children’s books and some activity ideas you can do that relate to that book.

Unlike Five in a Row where you read the same story five days in a row doing a different activity with the child each day, Before Five in a Row is not repeated, unless child directed (I know some children that will ask you to read the same book to them over and over again but others do not.) You just pick up one of the books as you desire and do something with your child. Don’t make this schooly! Keep it fun and as impromptu as you can. ;)

Before Five in a Row is a good way to get your feet wet with some activities that springboard from a book. I highly recommend it.

As I was preparing this post I looked up some Charlotte Mason ideas on preschool. I found that habits are a big focus. I’ll post more on that another day but want to mention this free resource for your further information. Smooth and Easy Days is just a little ebook to give you some basic information about habits and will give you some things to think about.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Cute Educational Game to Make

I saw this pin on pinterest; I seldom go to my feed on pinterest because I get lost for hours and slow my computer way down because of all the tabs I open up. :D But I was there the other day and saw this really cute idea.

It uses simple supplies which include a lightweight box bottom, toilet paper rolls or paper towel tube or even a wrapping paper tube, some glue, a marker or pen or some such item, scissors, and a pom-pom.

It is such an easy crafty idea that even a child could make it (now not a young one but definitely elementary age). You cut the paper tube into pieces, number them, and glue them to the box at varying angles. When it has dried, you use the pom-pom as a ball and roll it through the tubes in a specific order. (Think ball maze.)

You could even make two and have kids race each other or put letters on the tubes and make words or go through the alphabet. So many ways to play with it.

Here’s the link to this cute little DIY game.

I hope you enjoy this idea.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Ending the School Year

THM cupcake ~ Lifeofjoy.meAlthough we homeschooled year round, we had time away from our usual studies too. I worked out a calendar to include our 180 required days and worked in blocks of time where we were had a break from typical studies too.

I never thought about last day celebrations and such. The article I’m sharing with you today has some good ideas for ending a school year. While I don’t completely agree with everything shared, I think the ideas are worth sharing.

I hope it helps you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Celebrate the End of the School Year

By Leah DeLaughter

As the days get warmer, and summer approaches, the children seem to anticipate the end of the school year. The natives are getting restless! Whether you take a three-month break for summer, or teach year-round, it is good to have a sense of completion. Acknowledge how far you have come this year; celebrate together, and prepare to move forward into the new school year with renewed vigor.

By the end of the school year, many times our homeschools are just limping along. Both kids and moms start sleeping in, and the school day somehow ends earlier, as focus begins to wane. It’s ok to recognize this time for what it is: winding down for a time of relaxation before the next big push for the new school year. So, with the school year coming to a close, how can we celebrate it together?

Approaching the End of the School Year

The first question to answer is, when are you going to end your school year? How will you determine that you are finished? This question may be harder than it sounds. Do you have to complete the entire curriculum you started at the beginning of the year? (If that’s the case, most of us would never end the school year!) Do you end when you have reached a certain number of school days or when your child has reached an academic goal or passed a test? Have a goal in mind, but give yourself and your children some grace. You can always pick up where you left off next school year, and most curricula spend the first part of the year reviewing old material anyway. Can you count one of your family trips as a school field trip? I’m sure your children learned something during the trip! Don’t cut your year short by any means, but make a realistic decision of when you want to end, and stick to it!

Once you have decided when you are going to end school for the year, put it on the calendar, and let the children count down to the end of school. As the final weeks approach, look over your school work. Are there any projects that are halfway done that you want finished (such as a State Notebook, a sewing project or a story?) Are there any subjects that can be dropped for now and picked up again next school year? What subjects do you and your children want to focus on for the last few weeks of school?

Be sure to get some pictures of the kids in their study environment for memory’s sake, especially if you are interested in making a memory book or photo collage. You’ll never regret having pictures of your kids reading or studying, so make sure you sneak some in now if you haven’t earlier in the school year.

Straighten out your papers and grades. I, for one, am horrible about keeping track of grades. I put all graded tests and papers into a folder, and at the end of the year take them out, and record them into a Word document. If you don’t have a way to keep track of grades, find one. There are many useful resources out there for this. For those who don’t believe in grades, (and I’m right there with you,) create a Word document for each student and write about their accomplishments that year. Did they learn to read? What are they able to do in math? What books did they read? What projects did they work on or complete? This documentation will help you remember each year what each child has accomplished as well as reassure you as the years go on that your child actually is learning!

Spend some time sorting through all of those papers, tests, and drawings that have piled up during the school year. Which ones are going into the recycling bin? Can you mail any of the pictures to Grandma? Which of the papers, maps or tests do you want to keep in a folder? Put the important papers to keep in a folder labeled with the year. You don’t need to keep every scrap of paper, just the ones that you feel are your child’s best work.


Now is the time to celebrate! You and your children have made it through another school year together! Don’t get hung up on whether or not you completed every single thing in the curriculum. Focus on what you did accomplish. On the last day of school or soon afterwards, have an awards ceremony, and present each child an awards certificate (preferably several) for his or her accomplishments. For example, “Congratulations, Jonathan! You completed Kindergarten” or “Good Job, Heather! You memorized your multiplication tables!” Think about some things your child has achieved this year, and congratulate him or her for it. Did your child memorize the Declaration of Independence, or learn the 50 states and capitals? Did one learn to spell his name? I like to give at least two certificates per child.

Give a small gift. Go to a dollar store, and get them some stationary, or a cool pen, or a shovel and pail. It doesn’t have to be big, just something to let them know how proud you are of them and that this is a special time. And, don’t forget to get a picture of everyone on their last day, together with their teacher! Give yourself and your children the acknowledgement of a job well done this school year.

Leah DeLaughter is the homeschool mother of three beautiful children who are 6, 11, and 13. They have been homeschooling for eight years, and have lived for ten years as missionaries in Tanzania. Leah loves to spend her time reading on her Kindle, playing with her kids, and having dates with her husband, Bill. She writes about her homeschooling journey on

Copyright 2018, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by Author. Originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read TOS Magazine free at, or download the free reader apps at for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.

Continuing Education through the Summer

Summer Activities ~ Lifeofjoy.meHere in Oklahoma most of the public schools are getting out for the summer already. It was a shock to me when we first moved here that the kids were out in the middle of May and that they started back in August!!! What?!? School wasn’t supposed to start until after Labor Day and let out the first part of June . . . that’s how it always was for me in both Ohio and Virginia. So that next year I did some readjusting of our schedule and shortly there after our school year looked drastically different; after all, it is hot as blazes here in August, so you might as well get a jump on “school” not that I ever really let them stop learning. ;)

So, during the summers I had some requirements:

  1. Read the Bible daily
  2. Participate in the library’s summer reading program
  3. Chores
  4. And most summers I required they play an educational game each day
  5. and do some cards on our GeoSafari, being sure to include math in either the game or the cards. (I made some cards to review things they learned throughout the year as well as packets of cards we bought.)

These were to ensure that they didn’t think they were going to sit around and play video games or watch television all day throughout the summer and that when we started formal lessons again that we didn’t have to do quite so much catch-up or review. Oh don’t misunderstand, there were many a year that the boys would be struggling to get their required books read before the deadline but complete it they did. :) Here’s a post I wrote with some summer activity ideas.

I also wrote a post on Summer Reading a couple of years ago and spent some time last night checking the links to ensure they still worked; good thing too because one was completely busted and a few needed updating. Anyway, check out that post for some reading scavenger hunt ideas. And just as I was putting in that link, I realized I did one last year with completely different links, which are all still active. It has some good links for Bingo cards to print with reading challenges/goals on them, as well as a simple bookmark to keep track of the number of books read.

I’ll share some more summer activity ideas next week. Until then I hope I’ve given you some ideas to keep your kids learning this summer.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Handwriting Again

Handwriting Again ~ Lifeofjoy.meI know I write about handwriting a bit but I believe it is very important. Some people say that technology is the way to go for notes and to-do lists but there is a resurgence in handwritten notes and to-do lists with bullet journals (bujo). I personally like paper and colorful pens. I go back and make my bujo pretty with stickers and washi tape when I have time and desire to be crafty. :)

You can read my other posts on handwriting by typing handwriting in the search bar. Here is one article where I delve into d’nealian.

Here is another article on handwriting by someone that has taught it for many years. I hope it will inspire you to consider your handwriting choices this summer and maybe even introduce it to your kids this summer or in the new year.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Handwriting—The Changes!

By Nan Jay Barchowsky

It is not so easy to guide your child to the handwriting that will give him or her the most lifelong success and pleasure. Even the thought of success and pleasure in writing by hand can seem unclear, maybe even unnecessary as an attainment goal. 

Many say the various amazing digital devices are all we need for communication. But I would not agree, not in the present time. Perhaps in some future world it may be so, but not now, especially with the popular method of text messaging with only a few hurried words or acronyms.

Even as students record classwork with digital devices, it’s not the convenience it appears to be. Comparisons between those students that take notes in this manner, and those who take notes by hand, with pen and paper show a distinct difference in the quality and quantity of content between the latter and the former. There is an undeniable connection between our hands and minds. From the time we are babes, we learn by using our hands. As we learn to form the shapes of letters, those letters are implanted in our minds, so they are there for recall when we use the letters.

Technology is not new to handwriting. Back in the 1880s typewriters became a choice to replace pen and paper for writing. It is much the same way that many now use digital devices to replace pen and paper.

Perhaps you’re trying to decide which handwriting program or mode of letterforms might be best to teach. Should your child or children use a method that joins all letters within words, or start with print-script (manuscript) and then switch to a cursive, with all lowercase letters that join in words, or should they use cursive italic? To clarify, “cursive” is distinguished as “conventional cursive,” the method that most Americans know, or as “cursive italic,” known as a method wherein lowercase letters are partially joined.

Most public schools in the United States teach print-script in the early grades, and then teach conventional cursive in either second or third grade. Other public schools only teach print-script in first grade and don’t bother with cursive. Do most of these schools assume that Common Core directives eliminate handwriting instruction after first grade, or is it just a belief that there is not enough classroom time to teach handwriting? 

There is no defensible reason to eliminate handwriting. If research points the way to a viable path to learning, we cannot afford to ignore handwriting. Fortunately, homeschooling can save the day.

Is there a rationale to teaching two distinct-looking alphabets? Is it easier for the youngest children to learn to write letters that look like those they see in storybooks and then, change in second or third grade to what looks like a whole new alphabet? Are children confused by the change to “new” letters? Is it such fun to write like grownups, that entertainment overrides the change that children must make to hand/finger movement? They must learn that unlike print handwriting, letter lines no longer move from top to bottom. Now conventional cursive lines move upward from baselines and from other places, and some shapes of letters are no longer the same. It’s exciting at first, but trouble often starts later with legibility, especially when students have less time for handwriting practice than they did 50 or 75 years ago.  

Notice that almost all handwriting instructional books present two distinct-looking alphabets. Do publishers influence handwriting? Do we think we must teach print handwriting first and then conventional cursive? Other schools are independent. They go their own way, with conventional cursive from the beginning. One style is for writing, another for reading! Many people thus develop excellent writing. Possibly they achieve better penmanship with the single method.

Some people are successful with hybrid writing. That is, they start out with print-script, and whether they missed the conventional cursive instructions, or forgot them, they develop semi-connected letters. Many are readable, like this new script being used in Germany: It attracts controversy for going against the national handwriting, but it’s very workable.

Some who see lifts within words believe the writing to be slow. The movement is misunderstood. It’s actually a small, slight, and natural drift. Often conventional cursive, multisyllabic words are long, and it becomes difficult to maintain joining without pulling the writing off the writing line and distorting letters.

Handwriting seems in no imminent danger of disappearing. Around the world, simplified handwriting is growing. There are a number of places around the world where italic cursive is used for its ease of teaching and ease of learning. Is the trend to simplify? Only time will tell.

Take care. Make wise handwriting decisions. Our children should be able to enjoy the skill for a long time.

Nan Jay Barchowsky has worked with handwriting for 40 years. She has taught handwriting and calligraphy to elementary school children and adults, both in groups and individually. She is a charter member of the Washington Calligraphy Guild and has taught workshops worldwide. Her authored handwriting publications on are sold internationally. Her emails and Facebook continually bring new contacts.

Copyright 2018 The Old Schoolhouse® used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the TOS Magazine free at, or read it on the go by downloading the free apps at to read it on your mobile devices.

Tips and Activities for Young Children

I had a sweet young mama call me this week and I was honored to share with her. One of the things I shared was some ideas on how to get things done with a little one under foot.

It is a good idea have some things you do at different points of the day; here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Bible story and talk about Jesus time
  • Cuddle time reading books
  • Music/Dance time
  • Outside Play/Nature Time
  • Blocks, play dough, finger paint, or coloring time

I also want to remind you of a couple of posts I’ve done in the past because there are two important things to keep in mind:

I hope these ideas are helpful and/or encouraging to you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Art is Important

Art is Important ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy birthday is coming up and I was thinking about what I’d like to receive as gifts from my family. :) I’m really into artsy things right now. I was looking at some Tombow dual tip brush markers, some thin washi tape for my bullet journal, some paper for tangling on different colors, and some books on lettering.

Plan for the Mess

All of this got me to thinking about art and its benefits. I did a quick search on google and found LOTS of information. First let me say that providing your children, no matter what their age, with  art supplies is very important. Another important factor, is to know that there will be mess involved and prepare for it. Maybe you could pick up a shower curtain liner at Dollar Tree and use it as a table cover and another for a floor cover. ;)

Provide places where your children can feel free to scribble. If you are so inclined, you could paint a section of wall with chalkboard paint but I wouldn’t recommend that for young children . . . they probably wouldn’t understand why they can draw on the wall one place and not others. :D

Helps Focus

From my search I found that art and crafting is beneficial for fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and even just processing their feelings.

I also discovered at this website that it is better to notice that a child used a lot of one color and ask why or ask the child to tell you about their piece, rather than just saying it is good. Art can help concentration too, according to this and this page. Of course there are other benefits listed on each of those as well.

I think my negative feelings towards art stemmed from art class in school where you were graded on your piece. I’m a very tough critic of my own work but I think some of that stems from art class and my work being compared to others. I think it is important to gauge a child’s effort on an art project and not necessarily the end result, when considering any kind of grading.

I’d give you all the links I found but they were really the first page of links after searching “benefits of art to children” on google. But overall they seemed to agree that confidence, problem-solving, focus, creativity, and self-expression.

Finally, art can help the brain build bridges connecting its left and right hemispheres and thus helping them to do better in all their studies.

So during these summer months, you might want to provide your children with some new supplies to keep them occupied. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº