Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Giving a Gift that Will Last with Canvas Factory

This post and giveaway are sponsored by Canvas Factory.
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Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone.  Did you get all your shopping done?  How about something for free now?!

Gifts for children get played with and enjoyed, but gifts for other adults often get unwrapped and set to the side.  If you have an adult to buy for this year, how about trying something meaningful that will be appreciated all year long!

For the past two years I have gotten a picture printed from Canvas Factory. We are not big picture people around here, but there are a few things that my husband had expressed interest in wanting displayed in our home, so I decided they would be great printed onto canvases! I love that both times I was able to surprise him with the canvas and they they are able to be displayed and enjoyed all year long!

Here is what I had printed, but you could also give a picture of your kids, a favorite landscape scene you captured on your last vacation, a collage of picture from the past year, or anything else you want to be remembered!

(If you like these two designs, I'd be happy to share them with you, just enter your email address here and I will send you an email with the download links!)

Give a Canvas this Christmas

Ordering from Canvas Factory is simple and shipping is fast!  Simply upload your image (or choose one of their 25 million wall-art images), choose you size and material, customize details like solid edges or wrapped images, and you are good to go!

Order now and you will be ready for Christmas, or enter the giveaway below to win a 16x20 inch canvas of your choice! Need some inspiration or want to know more about what Canvas Factory has to offer? Check out these posts and then scroll down for the giveaway!

Canvas Factory Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner must be 18 years or older and have a mailing address in Canada, or The United States.  Winner has 48 hours from being notified to respond with their mailing address or else another winner will be picked.

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Gospel in a Minute - with FREE Printable!

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If you grew up in a Christian home, or have attended a church for a while, you have probably come across someone saying that it is a good idea to be able to verbalize what the Gospel is.  I remember doing this exercise before going on a missions trip in high school.  I think we had a list of colors and each color represented a different aspect of the gospel (Black - we are dead in our sins, Red - Jesus died to rescue us from our sins, White - Jesus' blood has made us white as snow, etc.).

Whatever way you want to learn to share the gospel is fine, but it is definitely something that you should do!  Obviously it helps when you are witnessing to someone.  You don't want to come across sounding like a bumbling idiot when you are talking about the most important topic ever!  =)  It is also a good exercise because it makes us slow down and actually think about what we believe.

Mark Dever's Gospel in a Minute

A few years ago, my husband heard Mark Dever speak about trying to put together a gospel presentation that would only take one minute to share.  We thought this was a neat idea.

I've heard some people try to come up with the fewest amount of words possible to convey the gospel message (I sinned, Jesus died, etc.), and while that is an interesting mental activity, its helpfulness is really limited.

Other people have such a complicated gospel presentation that it leaves room for so many rabbit trails and you have a hard time getting around to the main point.

So, my husband and I were really interested in this "Gospel in a Minute" idea.  Is it going to fully explain and defend every point of Christian doctrine? No, but it's amazing just how much content you can get into 60 seconds!

It's been a while now, so I don't remember exactly, but I think my husband took what Mark Dever wrote out and tweaked it.  The 9 Marks website shows the basic outline with verses to back up each point.  Dever has written a book, called The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, that also cover this topic.  Also, here is a youtube video of him talking through the gospel (though here it takes him 1 minute and 50 seconds!)

Our Gospel in a Minute

Here is what my husband came up with.  Like I said, it is very similar, just tweaked.  We slowly memorized this as a family and often review it before bedtime.  It's so wonderful to have this kind of things rattling around in our children's brains and nourishing their souls.  We reference it so often in our daily conversations and it provides such a great jumping off platform for deeper discussions.

The one and only God, creator of everything, who is holy, made us in His image to Know Him and glorify Him. 

 But we sinned, we rebelled. We cut ourselves off from Him, and there’s nothing we could ever do to earn our way back to Him.

 But in His great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever believe in Him.

 And then He rose from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us has been satisfied.

 He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness.

 If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God.

FREE Gospel in a Minute Printable!

Recently, my husband mentioned that he thought it would be nice to have this Gospel in a Minute printed so we could have it up in our home.  I thought it was a great idea, so I decided to create a version that was pretty enough to have setting around =)

I got it printed on a 16x20 canvas from CanvasFactory.com and have it sitting next to the 5 Solas print that I got from them last year. 

I heartily encourage you to memorize this or something like it with your family!  If you would like this GOSPEL printable (or the 5 Solas one for that matter), you can get them for free just by entering your email address here (or click below).  An email will be sent to you with the links to download the images.  The file can be used as a background on your computer or other device, or it can be printed as a picture, any size up to 16x20 inches.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

More Reformation Day Party Ideas

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This post contains amazon affiliate links to products that we use and love!

My family has hosted a Reformation Day Party each October 31st for the past 4 years.  We did essentially the same thing each year (How to Throw a Reformation Day Celebration) and the kids loved it and looked forward to it, but honestly I was ready for a change.

In previous years, we basically read a children's story about Martin Luther and then stopped at different parts of the story to do a related activity.  Last year I decided to come up with some different ideas.  We focused more on the Reformation in general and not on Martin Luther specifically.

This year we began the night by gathering the kids to read a different picture book about Martin Luther.  Then we played Pin the Thesis on the Door like we have done in previous years because it's just such a big hit with all the kids! Then we went on to do three new activities that I came up with.

Gutenberg's Printing Press

We talked about how the invention of the printing press enabled Martin Luther's (and the other reformers') writings to be spread so much more quickly than they could have earlier in history.

Before the party I took foam letters and glued them backwards onto a piece of card stock, spelling out a secret message.  The kids mimicked a printing press by using a small paint roller to coat the foam letters in paint and then then placed another piece of card stock on top of the inked letters and pressed it down with the help of a large book.  You could spend time rigging something way more fancy, but we just kept it simple and I think it got the point across fine =)

I decided on using Ephesians 2:8 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith."  That was all I could fit onto the page and I thought that it fit the message of Reformation Day quite well.

5 Solas Scavenger Hunt

Since I wanted this year to be more about the Reformation in general, I thought that an activity about the 5 Solas would be good.  I made up a page for each kid that had the meaning of each of the Solas written on it. Then I read a clue that would lead the kids to a spot where they would find a cup filled with candy. Each piece of candy had a piece of paper taped around it.

The paper had one of the Solas written on it. They then had to bring their paper back to the table and figure out which definition it went with.  Then I gave them another clue which would lead them to another cup filled with candy that had a different Sola written on it. And so on and so forth until they received five pieces of candy and matched up the 5 Solas with their definitions.

To give you an idea of what our pages looked like, here is final answer key that I made along with the page with the blanks that I gave the kids.  I think you can click on the image and copy/past into Word if you want to use this same sheet.  If the quality isn't good when you do that, let me know and I can link the original document.

Match the Reformers

The last game was much more difficult.  It would work for adults or any student who has studied church history.  Because I didn't want to leave the kids out, I included a fun step at the beginning.

As part of our decoration for the evening, my husband created a power point with different fun and interesting Reformation Day tidbits.  He printed out the slides and we hung them around the house for people to enjoy looking at.  Some of the slides featured other reformers from that time in church history.

For this game, I printed two more sets of those particular signs and cut them up so that  I ended up with a picture of the man, his name, and separate bullet point facts about him.  I glued the picture and name of each man on a separate piece of paper and folded up the facts and put each fact in its own plastic cup.

The object of the game was to match the facts with the man, but in order to retrieve the facts you had to play a game of bouncing a ping pong ball in to the cup.  The ping pong ball bouncing is the part we let the kids do! This sounds really confusing, but hopefully the pictures will clear it up.

We played girls vs boys and the kids really thought that was fun =)

As I am gearing up for this year's party, I'm not sure if I will use these games again, go back to our previous games, or a combination of the two!  If I come up with any new ideas, I will definitely let you know!

Happy Reformation Day!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Learn to Type for FREE with TypeDojo

This post is brought to you by TypeDojo.com. I am being compensated for my time, but am not required to write a positive review.  
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Technology and children are not two words that I like to put together.  In fact, I think that we could all benefit from less screen time!  The reality, though, is that computers are a vital part of our society and are not going anywhere anytime soon.

I am all about teaching children useful skills (cleaning, cooking, creating, building, etc.) and in our world, typing is a necessary skill.

Your child will need to type papers for school, essays for scholarship applications, proposals at work, and the list could go on and on.  I am sure that I do not need to convince you that learning to type is something your child needs to do.  The question is, how will they learn?  What is the best way to learn to type?

Touch Typing - Muscle Memory for your Fingers

Anyone can hunt and peck to find the keys they are looking for, but that takes forever!  Just like playing an instrument or a sport, our fingers can use muscle memory to find keys on a keyboard quickly and effortlessly.

When your fingers practice the same strokes over and over, in a consistent way, amazingly they remember what to do without you having to consciously think about it.  This is called touch typing.  From Wikipedia:

Touch Typing is typing without using the sense of sight to find the keys. Specifically, a touch typist will know their location on the keyboard through muscle memory. Touch typing typically involves placing the eight fingers in a horizontal row along the middle of the keyboard (the home row) and having them reach for other keys.

Learning to type this way helps you increase both your typing speed and accuracy.  When your fingers know where to go without you having to tell them, they are going to go faster because you have eliminated a step in the process.  When you can keep typing without looking up and down at the keyboard, you can keep your eyes on the screen and will be able to notice any mistakes you may have made and correct them immediately.  This also ultimately saves a lot of time and improves accuracy.

Typing with TypeDojo

One thing that I do love about all of the technology these days is that it enables us to get so many resources for free (and I'm not talking about stealing!)

TypeDojo is one of those resources!  TypeDojo.com is a website that offers your child tons of typing practice, and all for FREE!

First you will choose if you want a 1, 3, or 5 minute test.  Then you choose your child's grade level.

This is where it gets really neat!  Once you choose your grade level, you get to choose from a ton of different practice options.  Each grade level has it's own categories.  Here is a small example of the type of options.

There are also options that focus on home row, particular letters, common phrases, using the number pad, shifting for capitalization, and even full sentences and paragraphs.

Below is a picture of what you see while you are typing.  This particular example is of full sentence practice.  It highlights what letter you are on, how much time you have left, what your words per minute are and what your accuracy rate is.  These stats are updated with every stroke you take.

(Remember, anyone can be fast, so aim for a high accuracy rate while you type!)

Underneath the words you are typing, there is a picture of a keyboard.  This highlights where the letter is on the keyboard and also what finger you should be using to press the key.  This is here because children just getting started will need help knowing where each key is located, but they need to practice not looking down.  This is a good beginning compromise!  Once your child starts getting the hang of it, you can challenge them by pressing Hide Keyboard.

Voila!  With enough practice, your child will be a great typist!   Encourage your child to not look at the keyboard while they are typing, and soon they will get both faster and more accurate.  Make sure to check out TypeDojo.com as a free resource to help your child do this!

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

5 Resources to Add Beauty to your Homeschool Curriculum this Year

Five Resources to Add Beauty to your Homeschool Curriculum this Year
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This post is sponsored by Homeschool Buyers Co-Op.  I have been compensated for my time and have not been required to write a positive review.

You've researched your options, written your lesson plans, and your books are lined up neatly on the shelves.  You've got it, mama!  You are ready to start this new school year!

Can I ask you a quick question before you begin?

Have you included any resources in your homeschool curriculum this year that will nourish your child's soul?  Are you purposely choosing books, pictures, and other materials that will help guide your child into appreciating beauty?

If you think you may have neglected this aspect of your curriculum, or if you just want to add more beauty to your day, never fear because I have some great options to share with you!

Music for your Homeschool


Add beauty to your homeschool curriculum with Home School Piano.
Let's start with a FREEBIE!  You can try out HomeSchoolPiano for free until the end of the month (August 31, 2017).  Developing the skills of listening to, mimicking, and creating music are essential to guiding your child toward the appreciation of beauty.  If your child is not already taking piano lessons, definitely check HomeSchoolPiano out while it's free!

A FREE Membership to HomeSchoolPiano includes:

Access to ALL lessons, unlimited viewing of the lessons on any device, up to 5 students per household can use the site, sheet music, mp3s and other lesson files, jam tracks to play along with, and bonus material

Maestro Classics

Add beauty to your homeschool curriculum with Maestro Classics.

Maestro Classics...This is one I've had my eye on for a long time.  A mix of story, beautiful music, and learning.  Sounds perfect to me!

"Stories in Music™  is a classical music series for children & families written for narrator and orchestra. Filled with fun stories and musical explanations, they are designed to help your  family cultivate a love of music through education and  joyful performances, expand and develop  listening skills, and encourage families to listen together."

Each CD Set Includes
  • An enchanting story set to great music
  • Superb recordings by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Educational tracks describing the creation of the music, composers' lives, musical composition, and more
  • A 24 page activity booklet

Art for your Homeschool

Mark Kistler's Online Art Lessons

Help your child become an artist with Mark Kistler's Online Drawing Lessons.
I am always amazed at what my children can draw when they are following step by step instructions.  These lessons are just that, and will help your child think critically and view the world through a different perspective.

300+ Drawing Lessons: Video drawing lessons, Step by Step animated lessons, games and more. Plus, Mark's team is adding new courses and content all the time.

Home Art Studio

Add beauty to your home and school curriculum with the Home Art Studio.
Home Art Studio is great because it goes beyond just drawing skills to teach many different types of art techniques.  You child will be able to add beauty to your home with their creations!

Watch this great little video that shows lots of examples of what your children will learn.

Art Appreciation for Middle and High Schoolers

Circle of Scholars by Professor Carol

Appreciate art with the Circle of Scholars by Professor Carol.
I heard Professor Carol once at a homeschool conference, and her love for the arts was infectious!

Current curriculum focuses so much on math, science, language arts, etc., but we are missing out nourishing an entire portion of our being when we neglect to appreciate and engage in the arts.

Professor Carol argues that we also miss out on understanding much of the other subjects when we neglect the arts.  That is why she made this course.

  • Discovering Music: 300 Years of Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture. Our flagship course covering the history of music from approximately 1600 to 1914.
  • Early Sacred Music: History from the Jerusalem Temple to 1400 featuring performances of ancient music, Gregorian chant, and Medieval polyphony.
  • America's Artistic Legacy: American History finds expression in the incredible richness of America’s music, art, drama, and literature.
  • Imperial Russia: From ancient bells and chant to the Romanticism of Tchaikovsky, a course on Russia’s distinctive history and culture.

If you are still looking for even more curriculum ideas for your homeschool, I encourage you to browse the rest of the Homeschool Buyers Co-Op site!

The Homeschool Buyers Co-op has an award-winning selection of electives, including typing programs, health curriculum, driver’s education, foreign language learning, arts and music programs, critical thinking programs, and more.

Electives (Electives, Art & Music, Foreign Languages, Thinking & Other Skills, etc.) – Savings up to 89%

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Summer Scholé - Taking Learning Outside

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I'm a big believer in learning in year round learning.  Of course the type of learning and even the setting can look different, but we shouldn't just turn our brains off during the summer!

In the spring and summer months, I love to take learning outside as much as possible.  If you are looking for ideas for how to have a restful, soul enriching time of learning as the weather warms up,  read on!

Gather Your Group and Find Your Setting

We had a great group last year that was comprised of 4 families.  There were 8 actively participating children, ranging in ages 8 down to 3.

I made a flyer to share with others what our group was about.  I printed these out (1 sheet, front and back) and handed them out to a few families that I thought might be interested in joining us.  In case it might be helpful for you, here is what I came up with:

We picked a very large park to meet at.  It was a place where we could always find a place that wasn't being occupied by others so they wouldn't distract us and we wouldn't bother them =)

The year before, I had families over to my backyard for our summer learning, so don't feel limited by your choices of local parks, just be creative and pick any outside setting that will work for you!

Choose Your Subjects

We settled on covering three subjects each week.  You can choose anything that would be conducive to learning in a group and being outside.  We did poetry, nature study (birds), and art.


I led the poetry portion, which I absolutely loved!  Each week I planned a new poem to memorize, a fun way to learn about poetry, and made copywork to send the kids home with so they could practice during the week.  

For instance, the first week, I read a poem called Alphabet Stew.  As I was reading it, I had the children reach into a bag of alphabet tiles and 'mix' them (like a pot of stew) while I read the poem.  Then I read a poem called The Ant and pulled letters out of our alphabet stew to make the rhyming words at the end of each line.  

5 Poetry Activities for Young HomeschoolersAnother week, we read a poem called Talents Differ.  It is a story about a little girl looking out her window and seeing a bird making a nest and getting ready to lay her eggs.  The poem is a conversation going back and forth between the girl and the bird, so I had the children pair up, one being the bird and one being the girl.  They got to act the poem out while saying their lines.

If you are interested, I could write a separate post outlining exactly what I taught each week.  If you want to read more about general ideas for teaching young children poetry, I wrote a post on the iHomeschool Network blog about that, so check it out!


Another one of the moms led the art section.  She picked out a different artist for each week and brought examples of their work for the children to look at.  She would read a picture book about the artist or share information about their life and style.  Then she had an art project that corresponded to the artist for the week.  The project would mimic the artist's style in some way.  

The children used swirls to make a starry night like Van Gogh, they used wild flowers to create blurry nature paintings like Rembrandt, they used chalk on the ground to make BIG, up close flower paintings like O'Keefe, dipped their hands in paint to mimic Worhol's style, and more!

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Nature Study

For the last subject of the day, we got to move around and really observe nature.  Another one of the moms led us in our study of birds.  Each week she would come with information to share about a different type of bird.  She would read the children a story about birds, have the children color a picture of the bird of the week, show them what the bird sounds like, etc.

The first week, she had the children make pretend binoculars using two toilet paper tubes and set them each up with a little notebook, pencil, and a simple one page bird guide.  Then each week after she shared about the particular bird of the week, she would send them to different spots to watch for birds and draw what they saw in their notebooks.  The children loved it and it was such a nice way to encourage a love of nature.

So what are your plans for this summer?  Do you take a full summer break or do you find ways to keep the learning alive?  I would love to hear what you have in mind!  We are getting ready to have another Summer Scholé time like we did last year and I can't wait!

This week only, you can find amazing resources at a deep discount to help you with your Charlotte Mason plans for this summer and next year!

Save BIG at the 2018 Build Your Bundle Sale!

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