Thursday, July 7, 2016

Homeschool Curriculum: What We're using this year for Kindergarten and 2nd grade

I get asked a lot, especially my new homeschoolers, "What curriculum should I use?"   That is one of the hardest questions that I receive because the answer depends on so many factors, and there is not a one-size-fits-all curriculum that is best for every family.     I almost always strongly discourage new homeschoolers from using an all- in-one curriculum like Abeka...because it is, frankly, overwhelming, boring, and too time-consuming.   The goal is not to re-create school at home by using dry textbooks, but to use our freedom to teach our kids using real life experiences, real books and hands-on fun!   If you or your child dreads getting out all the workbooks and textbooks, then something needs to change.  If your 6 yr old little boy, who needs to be running and playing; exploring and creating sits at a desk for 4 hours in tears...then you're doing it wrong.

I'm not saying using abeka is bad  (I use a few abeka books myself in the younger grades)...but enjoy the freedom of making school fun.  Kids learn SO MUCH MORE when they enjoy school.   That said, there will always be a need for some workbooks...and there will probably always be some subjects that your child just doesn't look forward to----and that's okay.  But if there is an option to make it fun, or shorter, or less tiresome, then make a change even if it's mid-school year.  

With that introduction....I'll share what I'm using for school this year with my two, little, energetic, "oh look a chicken"  short attention span little boys....who do not have ADD despite the fact that they and every other 5 and 7 yr old little boy could easily be labelled such if they fail to enjoy sitting at a desk all day.  =)

They started back to school this week, so we are 3 days into it.  They already had 2 months off, and it's way too hot to do much I'm starting early with these little fellas cause  1--their school doesn't take all day (we break it up)   2--it's too hot outside to do much for a good chunk of mid-day   3--we're moving in a few months and I want to get ahead so I can take a few weeks off of their school.

The most exciting new find that I've never used before and we are already loving..and they both remind me every day already to do science because they think it's Science Shepherd Introductory Science.   You buy a workbook for each child....Level A or B.  I recommend B for all kids...with help it's even good for my 5 yr old.         You also buy a 1 year access subscription to their video lessons.  (5 lessons a week for 35 weeks).  $35.   Each lesson is short  2-3 minutes.   I love that there are Bible verses each week that we will memorize.  I love that so far, they are focusing on Creationism, setting the foundation that God cannot lie...that the Bible can be trusted...that Evolution cannot be true.   We are memorizing Genesis 1:1.  They even have an activity or two each week.  Yesterday after learning how God created the world, they had to create their favorite animal out of clay and tell us why it's their favorite.    I'm excited about science this year for the little boys.
The curriculum is for 6-11 yr olds.  I think for the older range,  would add more to it like real books and maybe some documentary videos from Amazon prime or Netflix, but for my 2 little guys, this is perfect!!

For History, I'm using a combination of curriculum I'm piecing together to keep things fun.
I'll be using Abeka's 3rd Grade US history text as spine along with History for Little Pilgrims.  I will also add in some NEST videos from their history collection as well as coloring pages for each American we are studying.  (We are currently on Columbus).  We will also be reading a lot of real books outloud about each person from our library shelves....and doing some fun activities as well.  Young kids also enjoy memorizing, so we will work on the States and Presidents as well.

For Bible, we will be simply reading some of the Bible Stories from a kids' Bible we have that I've used before...along with Bible memory from our Science Curriculum.

For Math, we will be using a workbook.  Abeka math 1 and 3.  (They are both a year ahead in math).  My preference would be Life of Fred Elementary, but with all the other kids I"m also schooling and a move planned this year, I'm choosing to use a workbook to keep us on task so older kids can help them if I'm tied up.

Handwriting they will each do 3 times per week using Handwriting without Tears.
Ransom is using this one.  Gil is using this one. 

For Language Arts, it is a mix of them each reading out loud to me (well, Gilead is reading independently for the most part so he will read to himself more this year).    I like to use real books in their reading so they don't die of books like Boxcar Children are good ones to start with(once they are independent readers).  I like Bob Books for new readers.  Then ask them to tell me about it to make sure they are comprehending.

Gilead will use a combination of these books that I've been happy with and used with success with his older siblings.

Explode the Code books 6-8 this year (I've used this series since Aslan for phonics and it's great!!)
Abeka Language 2   (1 page per day--simple, and covers basics in a few minutes)
English for the Thoughtful Child book 1  (I love this Charlotte Mason approach to Language's gentle)

And for Ransom:

Explode the Code books 2-3
(along with reading out loud to me)

Ransom, being in Kindergarten this year, will spend about 2 hours a day on school....broken up into small chunks.  That includes all the history, science and Bible with Gilead, and working on his other books with me and reading out loud.   You have to trust me that a 5 yr old boy doesn't need more than that.  He's been doing school since he was 3 off and on as we had time. He is already reading short vowel readers and 1/4 of the way into 1st grade math.  

Gilead is in 2nd grade this year, and like Ransom, his school will be broken up with lots of breaks and outdoor time.  I expect all his school will take 2-3 hours a day.    He is 7 with a very short attention span.  Yet with short, fun school days, he is already reading at a 3-4th grade level and doing 3rd grade math.    

That said, all of our life is school here, so in the kitchen, at the store, outside, working with Daddy or brothers is all teaching moments.   =)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cover Release for The Mystery of the Midnight Trespasser!!!

Hosanna first published this book last year. Since then, in her pursuit of becoming a better and better author, she has learned so much.    She has re-drafted and edited the book and also sought help in designing a more eye-catching cover.   So, we are happy to announce today as the official COVER RELEASE day!!!!   The book's 2nd edition  will be officially published and available for release on April 26th!!!!!!  

About the Book:

"Rosy growled, and I knew she was pacing the porch. I sensed her uneasiness. Something was wrong. Rosy never barked at cars; why would she choose this one?"

13 year-old Emily Kessler believes in God, but when she discovers someone trespassing in the middle of the night, can she learn to trust in Him completely? Will she have the courage to solve the mystery with her friends? And when everything falls apart, will Emily be able to keep those she loves safe?

Release Date:

The Mystery of the Midnight Trespasser will be released on April 26, 2016

About the Author:

Hosanna Emily wrote her first novel at age fourteen. She is a homeschooled, independent author who is the oldest daughter in a family of eleven. She enjoys exploring the sparkling creek by her home in rural Kentucky, reading, drawing, learning American Sign Language, and spending time with her family and with her Creator.

To learn more, visit her blog at:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On "Super Confessors" and Super Religion...and How they Lead only to Death....

I recently saw an article about Pope Francis recently nominating 1,000 "Super Confessors" in the Roman Catholic Church.       The article basically says that these "missionaries of mercy" were "created" by the Pope to forgive very serious sins that typically only the Pope or high church officials can forgive.     And, "thanks to their SPECIAL POWERS, they can also absolve fellow priests from serious transgressions."  This is heresy.

By Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation), CC BY-SA 2.0,

As a "non-Catholic" I have seen over the years in the news so many instances of the Catholic Church changing  long-held beliefs. Beliefs that have been in place for thousands of years.  Changes in doctrine, the way they handle mass, and "giving in" to make themselves culturally relevant.  It seems to have started in the 1960's with the 2nd Vatican Council and only gotten worse.

This particular event, however, is so obviously contrary to Scripture that I had to comment.   I have always wondered why a Catholic was required to "confess" to a priest in the first place.

1 Timothy 2:5

"For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,"

That clearly says that there is ONE mediator that goes between God and man--JESUS!  Not 1,000+

Lest I be accused of just "Catholic-bashing,"  sadly, Evangelical Christianity has not fared much better in the last century.  I've heard it said that the modern Christian church is just ONE generation behind culture in what it deems morally "okay."  I don't think you need examples to know that this is true.  American Christianity is no longer Biblical Christianity.      The common factor and failure in both of these situations (Catholicism and American Christianity), is that it is based on religion and following rules and not relationship.     Whether it's Rosary beads and Hail Mary's  or saying a "sinner's prayer" and showing up for church with no change in your sinning.....religion leads only to hell.     The Bible says that "all your righteousness (works) are as filthy rags."     

How then can we be saved?

  • Acknowledge you are a sinner (Romans 3:23)
  • Realize that the payment for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23)
  • Know that heaven is "perfect" and to go there we must be too (Revelation 21:27)
  • But, we cannot earn our way there by being "Catholic enough" or "Christian enough" (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Good News!  Jesus paid the penalty of your sins! Because of Him you are declared "Not Guilty!!" (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • All you need to do or CAN do is trust in Him (nothing else works!) (John 3:16  John 1:12)
  • You can KNOW you have eternal life (1 John 5:13)
Retrieved from:

Basically, when you truly realize the seriousness of your sin to a Holy God....and realize you are DOOMED to eternal punishment....that is BAD NEWS.   Then, Jesus comes and says, "I've paid the price for her sins....she is FREE!"   If you truly GET can you not jump for joy and give everything to serve this Savior of yours?     You WANT to serve Him/love Him/tell others what He has delivered you from!  You start to hate what God hates (your sin!!!)  and along with salvation is repentance (which means to turn your back on your sin and STOP SINNING).     "Cleaning up your life" doesn't save you, though.....but Because you are saved you WANT to live right to please your King!  That is so different!!!!     So, if you have been stuck in a life of religious "do's and don'ts" and rituals and trusting in your religion...just is doing nothing for you!!!   Trust in a God that loves you and wants to be in relationship with will never find joy and freedom until your life is in His hands and you are free from the burden of religion.   

Saturday, February 20, 2016

No, We Don't Want a Positive Role Model for President...thanks for asking!

Earlier this week, Fox News conducted a poll of Americans about the current Presidential race.  One thing really stuck out to me in cruising through the results....Americans don't care about our future President as a role model.   I'm not just saying that because of my opinion. It is here in black and white.

In question #7, when asked who they would like to see as the Republican nominee, the results were as follows:

  • Trump 36%
  • Cruz 19%
  • Rubio 15%
  • Carson 9%
  • Bush 9%
  • Kasich 8%

Scroll down further in the poll to question #27..."Which Republican Presidential candidate do you think is the BEST role model for children today?"  And the results were...

  • Carson 26%
  • Trump 18%
  • Rubio 17%
  • Cruz 12%
  • Bush 11%
  • Kasich 11%
I think it is interesting that over 1/4 of voters admit that Carson is the best role model for their children, yet only 9% of them will even consider voting for him.  I know people will argue that he doesn't have the political experience, or the "oomph" to run the White House....yet look at the presidents...current and many prior who HAD the experience and how that turned out.   Look at Clinton who was a moral disaster....and essentially did nothing for our country.   The current president who has experience, yet is trying to unconstitutionally make decisions without Congress and act as king.    

Our kids NEED good role models more than they need a narcissistic man running the show.  It seems to me that a good role model with good morals would make a heck of a better president that one that calls people names...or lies....or has been found to be sending emails illegally and needs to be in jail....or one who wants to turn American Socialist.

But Americans don't.  They don't care about morals, or killing babies....they just want what they want.  Their god is themselves....and so they look to Presidents who also have themselves as their god.      Morals matter....role models matter....I wish Americans would realize that........

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Homeschool Review: LANDRY ACADEMY

There are so many homeschool resources out there that it will make your head spin.  Over the last 17 years of homeschooling I have tried and used such a variety of curriculum.   I have loved some, hated some.   Switched some simply cause I had used it so long that I, as the teacher needed a change.   I had curriculum that worked PERFECTLY for one child, and was a total flop for the next.   That is the beauty of homeschooling!   We are not stuck with just one canned curriculum that must fit all 9 of my kids!!!
This year we tried a new approach for a few of our subjects, and it has been a WINNER!   4 of my kids are each taking a class from Landry Academy.   Landry is an online tool where we can choose from 457 classes---yes that is not a typo, they truly offer the homeschool community that many options!     From Chinese and Arabic, to Computer Programming.  From American Sign Language to Fiddle.  From Art, Photography, Medicine to Architecture and Welding...that have pretty much covered it all!!!

On top of their hundreds of classes, they also offer week and month long classes in all sorts of topics.  My 13 year old will be attending a week long camp in Filmmaking this summer and could not be more excited as he loves to make short films!!!

They also offer "2 day Intensives" where you can do all the science labs for an entire school year in TWO days and they offer these all over the country. (We have participated in 3 of these so far and were very impressed).

My children are currently taking the following classes this year through Landry:

  • American Sign Language 1  (Hosanna)
  • Filmmaking 1 and 2   (Josiah)
  • Animal Care Science  (Jubilee)
  • World History from a Christian Perspective  (Praise)

My daughter will take a class this summer in "Conversational ASL."

And next year, I have already signed up my kids for:

  • American Sign Language 2 (Hosanna)
  • Screenwriting (Josiah)
  • Film Producing and Directing (Josiah)
  • Biology (Josiah)
  • Writing Ropes (essays)  Jubilee
  • Pre-biology (Jubilee)
  • Exploring Creation Science (Praise)
  • Trip Around the World (a 6-language adventure)  (Praise)
On top of THOSE...they also have fun Community Groups.   These groups meet 2-4 times per month and are just for fun  (No grades).  They allow you to meet with students with similar interests under a Christian teacher that specializes in that area.

My kids are currently involved in 3 Community Groups.  Hosanna is in "Reservation for Two" which is for 13-18 yr old girls to encourage each other in their relationship with God and growing in character.   This meets weekly and it is her favorite hour of the week!

Josiah is in "Performing and Visual Arts" group that meets every other week as well as  a "Photography" Community group that meets every other week.  He loves both of these groups for learning more about filming and photography and connecting with other kids that shares his passions and teachers that do as well.

There is too much to say about Landry.   Let me just say that we got into it by buying class sessions a year ago.  We were able to buy "generic" classes a year ago for around $60/semester class.  The key is that we couldn't use them til a year later.  Well, we waited and we are impressed.  So impressed that I bought more generics so we can use them for next year.   If you look at their website, the prices regularly are $390 per semester class....but if you sign up for their email specials, and are willing to buy a year ahead of time, You'll be glad you did!!! You can enjoy all these classes for just a fraction of their regular prices so don't let their catalog deter you.    Also, the community groups are a great price regularly already.  ($97 per year!!)  So worth it in my opinion.  So if you are a check out their website!!!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Eating the Fruit of the Spirit?

Photo By en:User:Daderot. - First uploaded to en:wiki on 5 Apr 2005.

So, this post is a bit off the wall.   I woke up last night at 3:31am, and I felt like I should pray for one of my dear friends.  While praying for her, a thought struck me that I had never thought of before.   Because of Christ in me, the fruit of the Spirit of God also fills because of this position in Christ I can live my life FULL of : love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

So the Bible says that if we are Christ-followers, we WILL bear fruit. (evidence in our life that Christ has become our Lord.)
"Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them." --Matthew 7:17-20
Those who are Christ-followers have fruit.  But fruit is not meant to just hang on trees.  That's when it hit me!  Can someone really EAT the Fruit of the Spirit?    So I ran to Google (later in the morning after I woke up again) and typed in :  "can you eat the fruit of the spirit"  and would you believe...Google had NO idea!!!!!!

So I thought about it!!!  WE are called to represent Christ to the world!  What does the world who doesn't know Christ NEED?  Do they need LOVE?  Uh yeah!  How about JOY?  Yup!  PEACE?  Definitely!!!  PATIENCE? Yep!  KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL?  YES, Yes, Yes, Yes Yes!!!!

Where can those who don't have those fruit FIND it?  Well, since they are found in CHRIST alone, you can reason to say that Christ-followers should exhibit these fruit MOST in their lives in our culture!!!  (Not cause we're so amazing (quite the contrary!) but only because Christ who lives IN us shows His nature THROUGH our's nothing we do but all about what HE does!!!)

So, if you've got fruit...don't let it ROT on your tree....I don't believe that God gives us fruit to rot or to eat just ourselves but to share it to a needy and dying world who NEEDS these very FRUITS in their lives too!    

It says in Psalm 34:8,   "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." We are Christ to this world. Let the world "taste and see" our fruit that God has given us so they can know of His goodness!!!

So...go on....let your fruit be shared with this lost and dying world. They have no hope without Jesus...and the world NEEDS this fruit!!!