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Archive for December, 2010

It’s hard to believe that today is the last day of 2010! It was a good year; nothing extraordinary, but lots of fun moments….
Visiting Vancouver during the Olympics.  We got to pretend for a moment that we could actually drive this thing.  I wouldn’t even want to try, but I have a feeling that my boys would love the chance.

One of my three hockey players.  We’ve spent many hours at the rink over the past year, and had fun cheering for our favourite teams.

A hockey themed birthday cake … I think I baked three of these this year.  Hockey is a bit of an obsession at our house!

Hiking with family.  We are so blessed to live near the mountains, with plenty to explore.

A spring find in the yard!  We’re not sure what happened to the mama bird ….

Raising butterflies this spring.  No one was that keen on feeding the caterpillars – who grew amazingly quick, but we sure loved watching them transform into butterflies.  God is amazing!  It was fun to see them now and again around the yard after we released them.

Summer camping with friends – definitely a highlight each summer.  These teenagers who never rose before 10:00 when camping set their alarm and headed to the lake to watch the sunrise!

We started school a week late in September and enjoyed some beach days at Birch Bay.  Definitely one of the benefits of homeschooling.

Visiting the pumpkin patch – an annual tradition.

Decorating Christmas cookies - we got this idea from Pioneer Woman.  We had so much fun making these cookies, we did it twice!

Decorated Christmas cookies.  This was a great idea that we found on Pioneer Woman. We had so much fun with this we made them twice over the holidays!

It was a fun year.  Here’s hoping the next year will be just as good.

Happy New Year!

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Love to Write

How do we raise kids who love to write? We all know about the importance of the 3 “R’s”: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. However, while homeschoolers are traditionally very strong in math and reading, writing is an area that many struggle to fit in to their day. It doesn’t come in a neat package, progressing from a to b to c, and it can be difficult to motivate our children to write when there is no specific audience. Despite these challenges, giving our children strong writing skills and a love of writing and words is probably one of the best gifts we can give them.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions:

1.  Just as you make time for reading and math each day, make time for writing. Have everyone write each day for a certain amount of time, even if some days it is just 15 to 20 minutes. Have a set time so that your kids know what to expect and it becomes routine. (If you write  at the same time as well, it will help them to see that this is a life long skill.)

2.  Make it fun! Don’t edit everything your children produce, or expect spelling to be perfect. You will want to go through the editing process with some of their writing, and you can make that a big deal – edit for spelling and ideas, print it out on the computer, bind it together into a book form, etc., but don’t do this for every piece of writing.

3.  Get a good idea book, and run with it. One of my favourites is If You’re trying to Teach Kids How to Write, You’ve Gotta Have This Book! written by Marjorie Frank. It’s full of excellent ideas to inspire creativity.

4.  If you are doing multi age teaching, you can do this together! Give the kids all a topic to write about, but don’t stop there (or you’ll end up with blank stares and blank papers!) Come up with ideas together, and write them on a board. Think of some excellent descriptive words that you could use for your topic. Write a brief outline, so they have a framework to write from. Then each child can write their own story (your expectations will be based on their age and ability) or they can write a story together. One can scribe for the group, and they can go around the table sharing ideas or contributing sentences. Generating ideas together is also helpful for informational writing or written narrations, after you have read about something together.

5.  Have a younger child dictate a story to an older child, who scribes it for him or her. This is helpful for both students. The older child can encourage the younger child to express ideas in a sentence form, and at the same time, the older child is organizing what he or she hears into paragraphs, using correct punctuation.

6.  Make a new ending to an old story (or read almost to the end of a book and have your child write their own ending). Again, this could be a cooperative venture, or each child could do this at his or her own level.

7.  Find some fun pictures in magazines, and talk about what might have happened before or after. Write about it.

8.  Journalling is an easy and fun way to add writing to your day, and when kids journal about what they’ve learned, it helps them to remember it more clearly. A great idea is to take pictures while on a field trip, and use those pictures to illustrate the writing. As a bonus, these are always fun to look back on. Again, if they are stuck with a blank page, discuss ideas together, and talk about what you enjoyed or learned.

9.  Do a variety of writing! Write letters, lists, recipes, how-to instructions, poetry, power points… There are so many ideas, but the main one is….write!

Remember: Have fun, and keep up the writing!

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In our family at Christmas time, we try to keep the focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and have a lesser focus on gifts. That isn’t always easy to do with kids, but we try! This year after all the presents were unwrapped, I thought about the two memories of my kids giving and sharing gifts that I’ve loved the most.

The first occurs early, in November. Like many of you, our family makes shoeboxes full of gifts for Operation Christmas Child, which are sent and distributed in countries to needy children. In our  family, each child uses some of their paper route money and makes up their own shoebox. We have so much fun going out shopping together, watching the kids add up their purchases to see if they have enough money for all that they would like to give. This year, a couple of kids went over what they had planned to spend, but were so happy with what they had chosen and their shoebox full of items that they didn’t care. Although the gifts are meant to help children in third world countries, giving those gifts is a privilege for our kids. They are happy to share what they have.

Our kids also have the opportunity to buy gifts for each other. We put each child’s name in a hat, and they pick out the name of one of their siblings to buy for. Then in early December (before it gets too busy!), we all head to the mall and each of the kids shops for a present for one of their brothers or sisters. I really find that they have as much fun shopping for a gift for someone else as they have opening their own gifts. The first gift each of the kids chooses from under the tree is the gift from their brother or sister. And as the gift is opened, usually the person who bought the gift is as excited as the person opening it.

Of course, we all love getting and opening gifts as well, and our family is no exception. It’s always fun to see what’s inside those packages. At the same time, it’s great to see them enjoying the giving as well. :)

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My first blog entry …

I’ve always enjoyed reading blogs of family and friends, and so have decided to take the plunge.  I hope to share some of the up and downs of our (sometimes) crazy life, and record some of the memories as they happen.

In the day to day busy-ness of being a wife, a mom of five, and a homeschooling parent, sometimes I just don’t take the time  to reflect on why I love this life.  It is busy – but I don’t think there is anything I’d rather be busy with.  I love my life.  I love being at home with my kids.  I love learning along side them.  I love visiting with other homeschool moms and sharing ideas, and I’m grateful that God has led me down this path.  The days and weeks go by so quickly (too quickly!) so with this blog I hope  to remember so of those days, and to  focus on what is truly important – living the life that God wants me to live, and raising my children to love and honour him.

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