I Made Cheese!

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I love to learn new kitchen skills and I have been wanting to make cheese forever and finally found a simple recipe to start with. I was watching YouTube and one of the channels I subscribe to “Living Traditions Homestead” had a video on how to make farm cheese with three ingredients. In this video she uses raw milk to make her cheese but I ran to the store and grabbed a gallon of whole milk and her recipe still worked out perfectly. With three ingredients milk, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt you can make homemade farm cheese that is so tasty. I am going to link her video here if your interested in giving this a try, this is a great skill to have.

Even if cheese making isn’t your passion this would still be a great activity to do with your homeschool. Hands on experiences like these are invaluable.

** Helpful Note**

In her video she uses 1/2 cup of vinegar and I noticed after using the 1/2 cup of vinegar that my whey hadn’t fully separated from the curds. I did a quick search on the internet and found that you need to keep adding a little vinegar at a time letting it sit a little at a time until you see the whey fully separate. I ended up using a full cup of vinegar to make this happen.

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Mother Nature Gave Us A Pop Quiz

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I can’t believe that we had 50 degree weather in Northwest Ohio in January but that is what we were blessed with today. I’m not complaining I am enjoying our unseasonably warm weather because I know that snow is soon to come. Anyways we were enjoying this lovely weather when the clouds began to move in and the wind picked up and the sounds of thunder rumbled across the sky. The kids were pretty tickled that we had a thunderstorm in January when we typically have snow storms. They began to watch the clouds move across the sky and mother nature showed us every variety of cloud over the course of a few minutes. The kids were naming off the different types of clouds we were seeing and we double checked them with a cloud chart to see if they were correctly identifying them. My kids did a pretty good job and all passed the impromptu pop quiz provided by Mother Nature.

This is one of the things I love about homeschooling we have the flexibility to stop working on something to watch the sky and discuss the weather. I love just living in the moment and watching my children delight in the world around them. Next time Mother Nature rolls through town see if your kids can identify the different clouds they see. Below you will find a link to a cloud chart provided by the National Weather Service. This is a great way to talk about a variety of weather topics including weather safety.

NWS Cloud Chart

https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/cloudchart

Reading Shouldn’t Be A Chore

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When I first began my homeschool journey with my oldest son we continued a practice from his public school days which involved reading for 20 mins a day. It sounds like a great way to inspire literacy but I quickly began to realize that by forcing my kids to read 20 mins a day I was killing their desire to read. Every time I would say it’s time for you to sit down and read my kids would start to groan and complain. I love reading and I couldn’t understand why my kids weren’t enjoying a hobby that has given me hours of pleasure. I began to notice that they were complaining the same way they would when I would ask them to clean their rooms; I had inadvertently made reading a chore.

I didn’t want reading to be a chore. I wanted my kids to find reading an exciting activity that would whisk them away to far away places where they would have grand adventures. I decided to do away with the 20 mins of reading and I was worried at first that they just wouldn’t read and for a few weeks this did occur. I of course continued to read to them and they were reading their school work but not one of them cracked a book independently. Just when I was about to give up and add reading back to their chore list the most miraculous thing happened, they began to read independently. At first it was just my oldest who came down with the reading bug but within a few days my other two children had also caught the bug. Now it is a common occurrence to stumble across them not only reading a book but enjoying the experience.

Not all kids are created equal and what works for mine may not work for your’s but if you find reading has become a chore it might be time to try a different approach. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for my kids….

  • provide access to a large variety of books
  • do away with scheduled reading times
  • seek out content that you know will interest your kids
  • read as a family and share what you reading at dinner time

Even though I no longer assign reading I do take an interest in what they are reading and always make time to answer questions or help them with a word’s meaning. I often read through the books in advance and will ask questions to see if they are understanding the context of the story. While I have taken a more hands off approach with independent reading I am always ready to jump in when they need me and it is really working. The last tip I have for encouraging literacy is to read to your kids even when they are able to read chapter books independently. There is nothing better than curling up together and reading through a beloved classic and your kids are never too old to hear a story.

 

Are they socialized?

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Oh, you homeschool... are they socialized_ _They haven't peed on the floor and nobody has been bitten so yeah they are socialized_ (1)

Ugh, the dreaded socialization question. While I enjoy talking about homeschooling the one question I abhor is whether or not I socialize my kids. The answer to this question is always a polite yes and I explain how we are engaged in community activities and that we attend church where the kids belong to a youth group. The response I often want to give is not as polite and sounds something more like “well they haven’t peed on the floor recently and nobody has been bitten so I think they are okay”.  I swear one of these days this will be the response that accidentally slips out when asked this frustrating question.

What exactly is socialization? The definition from Merriam Webster basically states that it is a process where individuals learn how to interact in society observing societal norms. Why do people think that the only way to achieve this process in children is to have them immersed in a traditional brick and mortar institution? I agree that children need to learn how to act appropriately in society. This is why we take our kids out into the community to learn how to behave in a variety of different venues and how to communicate with not only their peers but with all people. I disagree that “schools” are the only place where children can receive this type of education. In fact I am not sure how well schools do in this area but you won’t catch me asking a public school mom if her child is socialized.

All parents not just homeschooler’s need to take an active role in teaching their children how to interact and communicate in society. I have had moms ask me the question about socialization while their “socialized public schooler” has her face buried in a phone in an attempt to avoid any and all interaction. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to behave through dialouge and by modeling the correct behavior. The issue of socialization needs to be addressed by all parents not just those who homeschool which is why I find this question so frustrating. Perhaps, the reason today’s society struggles so much with “appropriate” behavior is because the vast majority of children are not being taught by their parents how to behave and communicate.

I am confident that my children are learning how to behave in society and that they will one day be productive adults. Each one of my children is able to make friends, communicate with people of all ages and they all behave well in public. To be honest this is a realtively easy thing to instill in children who are homeschooled because we do not have the issue of peer pressure to deal with and thank goodness. Are homeschoolers unsocialized? No they are not, this is simply a misconception and a negative stereotype often used to undermine the decision to break away and take a different path in educating our children. Instead of undermining eachother lets have a real dialouge where we discuss and learn from eachother how to raise children into productive members of society. That is a conversation worth having!

 

 

 

 

 

My kids are in the slime business

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Message_1544283394928Recently, my kids took one of their favorite past times and turned it into a money making business. They played around with a slime recipe until they found one that made a slime that wasn’t too slimy and not too rubbery. One of the issues they discovered is that while slime is fun to play with it doesn’t smell good so they added scents, foam balls and a variety of glitter to make it extra special. I was pretty impressed with the product they had created and I hate to admit this but I found myself playing with their slime on more than one occasion.

They decided that they wanted to sell the slime so they could earn some spending money so I found a local craft show where they could set up shop. My role in all of this was simply that of an investor. I invested about $45 for supplies and their spot in the craft show with the understanding that they would need to pay back the loan with their profits. It was pretty exciting watching my 6, 8 and 12-year-old figure out the best way to run their business. In the beginning, they started out trying to make slime in large batches but eventually adopted an assembly line. One person would make the slime, the next person would knead it until it was no longer sticky and the last person packaged the slime. In a week they had made about 100 4-oz containers of slime and then they began to work on their sales pitch.

Yesterday, we loaded the car up with slime and took it down to their first ever craft show. I was so impressed by how well they did not only did they do a great job setting up their table but they were active salespeople. Whenever someone passed the table they would invite that person over to touch or smell the slime. We heard a lot of parents say absolutely not stating that “slime” had been banned in their household because it was too messy. My oldest began countering back that the messy part had already been taken care of and that their kids could enjoy a finished slime product. This ended up being the winning sales pitch as many parents double backed and purchased a few containers to take home. Many kids also stopped by the table on their own to buy slime and other vendors and crafters began to take notice. By the end of the day they had sold most of their product and after paying me back had a profit of $90 to split between themselves.

It is truly amazing what kids can do when you encourage creativity and give them a little freedom to experiment. From this experience, they have learned firsthand how to run a business, market, and sell a product. I know that these skills will serve them well in their future endeavors. I am truly blessed with wonderful kids and I am one proud mama.

 

 

The Grinch v.s Ebeneezer Scrooge

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It is a family tradition in our house to read both The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I love both of these stories and I am very proud to have both books in my personal library. These are two books that in my opinion should be a part of every parent’s personal library because they teach important life lessons. If you don’t have these on hand but want to incorporate this lesson with your kids check out the resources below to find the stories online for free.

Typically, we read and discuss these stories separately but this year we are doing things a bit different. This year we are going to tackle these books together comparing and contrasting the books as a whole, the main character, and lessons taught by each story. Below you will find a list of questions I will be asking of each of my children to answer. I think that these questions will help them flush out both stories and really dig into the transformations taken by both of these incredible characters.

The Assignment: My oldest will be answering these questions and turning it into a five paragraph essay while my youngest two will be creating a story plot worksheet for each of the books.

 

How are Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch similar? How are they different?

 

How is the setting of each story similar? How are they different?

 

How does the Grinch change in the story and what caused that change to occur?

 

How does Ebeneezer Scrooge change in the story and what caused his transformation?

 

How are the life lessons in both stories similar and/or different?

 

Which story do you personally feel did a  better job teaching the lesson?

 

What did these stories teach you?

 

Additional Resources:

https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/story-plot/

http://web.mit.edu/tere/www/text/grinch.txt

https://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Charles_Dickens/A_Christmas_Carol/

 

 

 

Raising Political Kids

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November 6th was an important day in our household as well as in many households across the nation as we marched to the polls to have our voices heard. I truly love election day and I take my responsibility as a voter very seriously. It is important to not only participate in elections but also to be as informed as you can regarding candidates, their stance on issues and the various proposals on the ballot.

As a homeschooler, I used the days up to the election to drive home the importance of voting in this country. We discussed the history of voting, how the election process works and how to become an informed voter. On election day my kids were able to come to the polls and witness their mom cast her vote. That night we turned on the news and watched as the votes rolled in to see the outcome. I tried to make the event as exciting as possible because I want them to be passionate about politics.

During our election night celebration, my daughter asked me whether she should be a Republican or a Democrat when she became an adult. I love that she asked this question because it gave me a chance to talk to them about what my expectations were for them once they reached the age to vote. My husband and I are both pretty conservative Republicans and many people might think that because we homeschool we are going to force our children into being Republicans. This is not true instead of raising our kids to affiliate themselves with a specific party we have chosen to raise our kids to simply be political. I want them to be passionate and active voters who take the time and care to understand the issues. I don’t care what their political affiliations end up being I only care that they treat the voting process with respect and recognize the honor it is to be able to vote in the first place. I want them to stand up for what they believe while interacting positively with those who have different points of view.

Whether you homeschool or not I think it is important to allow children to identify their own political path. It doesn’t matter which party they end up affiliating with; what matters is that they are passionate about this country and the direction it is heading. Don’t label your children instead allow them to find their own individual niche in life. I truly believe that this is the best way to raise children into happy, healthy and productive adults.