Archives for July 2013

What a Wonderful Day!

Teach Them Diligently

I got to spend my birthday {the 38th one} with one of my very best friends {Shannon, who writes the Calendar Connections cards} at the Teach Them Diligently Marketplace! It was a wonderful day, but I had no clue it was going to be so great!

Teach Them Diligently is a blog sponsor and has been for awhile now, which is part of the reason I was so curious. I also have several friends who attended their conventions this past spring and loved them. 

Side note ~ Although they are a blog sponsor, they had no idea I was writing this post {until I emailed them to tell them} nor did they ask me to, this is a personal bonus post reflecting an awesome sponsor simply because I want to share with you what a fabulous day I had!

I had never been to a Teach Them Diligently Convention and had no clue what to expect.  I didn’t go to my local homeschool convention this year or last, so I was wanting to attend for that reason, but wasn’t sure how impressed I would be.  I am a bit un-impressed most places. I am a homebody and for me to actually enjoy being in a large crowd is a small miracle.

From the moment I walked in, I knew I was in the right place.  I immediately met David and Leslie Nunnery, and was welcomed so graciously!  Ken Ham was speaking when we got there so we snuck in to hear his talk, what a blessing to be able to hear both of his sessions! It wasn’t overly crowded with people, but packed with resources and fabulous speakers.  It honestly was such a refreshing day!

I was thrilled to finally get my hands on some Answers in Genesis resources I had wanted to look at up close. AIG was one of the publishers I was very curious about but hadn’t gotten to browse in real life. It was awesome, I got just what I needed {and a bit more of what I wanted}. I will share later in my curriculum post how we will be using some of these.

What Did I Buy?

I was NOT expecting to actual find great deals, I am a firm believer that Amazon has the best prices in most situations. But, the prices were as good as Amazon or better.  I actually looked up several items while there from my phone to check! It was awesome to browse through so many great resources all in one place.

I highly recommend attending the Marketplace event in Little Rock this weekend if possible. Sadly this will be the last event as they have prayerfully decided to cancel the remaining events.  Here is the statement they have written and shared publicly… 

Teach Them Diligently and the presenting sponsors of the Marketplace events have elected to postpone the rest of this summer’s Marketplace events in Dallas, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; Tacoma, WA; and Tuscon, AZ in favor of larger regional events in the coming years. This weekend’s event in Little Rock, AR (July 19th & 20th) will go on as scheduled, but it will be the last one. The pre-registration numbers for several of the events were very low. Therefore, Teach Them Diligently and the sponsors decided to cancel and then return with an even larger event in the upcoming years when we could reach and encourage more families.

In 2014, Teach Them Diligently Convention will be returning to Dallas, TX for a large regional event in June at the Sheraton Downtown.  It is our hope that in the coming years, we will be returning to the other cities previously scheduled on the Marketplace tour as well.  
Those who had pre-registered for events in Dallas, TX; Colorado Springs, CO; Tacoma, WA; and Tuscon, AZ, will have their registration fees fully refunded in the methods they were received.  We would also like to extend to you a discount similar to what you would have received at the events through our store at    When you make your purchase please enter the code 10OFF100 to receive $10 off your first $100 purchase.

This was not an easy decision or one that we came to lightly.  We would like to extend a heart felt apology to those of you that were looking forward to these events and pray that you will forgive us for not moving forward with the events after Little Rock.

Thank you again for your support and prayers for Teach Them Diligently Convention. We look forward to seeing your family at an event in the near future and are sorry for any inconvenience the cancellations may have caused.  We are deeply disappointed that we will not be able to spend this summer with many of you. However, we are confident that in the coming years we will be able to bring an even larger event to your communities.  Please stay tuned for some very exciting announcements for 2014.

For the sake of His name,
David Nunnery

While I am sad they needed to cancel the remaining marketplace events, I am thrilled to see the full blown Teach Them Diligently Convention will be in 4 cities in 2014!  Check your calendars and start planning to hit one of these next spring, I just might see you there!

Teach Them Diligently 2014 Conventions

PS ~ another perk of these events, meeting in real life!  It was fabulous to meet Becky Marie from For This Season and her adorable family.  I also got to reconnect with Toni from The Happy Housewife and Michelle from Apologia!

Chloe the Jumbo Jet Giveaway


I am always looking for ways to make world geography fun and natural.  Books are often a great way to do this.  Our blog sponsor, Chloe the Jumbo Jet, sent us a book to review and are graciously letting us host a giveaway for one of you!

Chloe is an airplane, the artwork reminded us a lot of Jay Jay the Jet Plane, which we all love! This book is the first in this upcoming series geared towards kids ages 4-8, which takes the airplanes on worldwide adventures! The moment I opened the package, Ladybug begged me to read the book.  I honestly thought Krash would enjoy it most, but Ladybug was the biggest fan!  She loved the airplanes and asked to read it again right when we finished!Chloe Learning Activities

The storyline of the book we reviewed is centered around introducing the characters and traveling with them on their first adventure, which involves taking swimmers to the Olympic Games in London! Lots of geography basics are built in that you could easily expand on after reading. One awesome way would be to use the free printable activity pack offered on their website! I sure hope they offer these for upcoming books!  The activities are more for older kids, you can take a peek here!

There are several characters ~ Chloe from Korea,  Ana from Mexico, Keenan from Ireland, Kofi from Ghana, and Ludwig from Germany. You can read more about them here!

Chloe the Jumbo Jet A Problem of Olympic Proportions can be purchased here on Amazon!

One of you will win the book we reviewed, Chloe the Jumbo Jet A Problem of Olympic Proportions and a t-shirt too!

cover  Chloe the Jumbo Jet_KidsT_Front

Use the Rafflecopter form to enter below {if you don’t see the widget be sure to view on the actual blog and not RSS/email}.  Giveaway is open worldwide and ends July 23, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Continent Box Challenge {with Printables}

North America Continent Box -3878

We have created and used 2 continent boxes {Europe and North America} in one year, and I still hope to create the remaining 5 and use them along with these in our homeschooling years to come! My kids have been very into the box on the first few days, but then the newness wore off.  If I engaged them, they would explore with me, but I wanted a way to encourage them to explore on their own {and learn something}.

Enter….the Continent Box Challenge!

I made a chart reflecting our North America Continent Boxes, coming up with tasks that the children could complete. Here is a copy of the sheet my kids used…

Continent Box Challenge North America


I set individual goals with each child to earn prizes as they marked off tasks. North America Continent Box -3880First we brainstormed prizes that did not involve money {or shopping}. They came up with ~

  • Peanut Butter Pass ~ the option to choose a PB sandwich for dinner on a night when they hated what was offered {the little 2 in our family are VERY picky and we don’t make alternate meals so they often go hungry at dinner time}
  • Juice Ticket ~ our kids drink water all day long except for the occasional cup of 100% juice with dinner or milk.  They never have soda or other sweetened drinks. The Juice Pass is a ticket to have freedom to drink 100% juice whenever desired for one day.
  • Chore Pass ~ Mom and Dad complete ALL of your daily chores for one day.
  • Stay Up Late ~ this one is obvious, right?
  • Candy Baggie ~ freedom to nibble from a pre-created candy baggie {by me} throughout the day. Candy intake around here is VERY low, and most of our candy is dye-free and organic if possible, but either way this is a BIG deal to them!

Each child chose prizes they wanted and ranked them.  Then we set the goals. Pac had to complete his entire chart {21} to get a chore pass, 19 to get a candy baggie, and 17 to get a juice pass.  Krash was 15, 13, 10 for his leveled prizes.  Ladybug was 12, 10, 8.  I marked out on their sheets what I thought was above their level with a few optionals.  You can see K’s below with an X on “name 50 states” and a ? on “name at least 25 states” showing how we modified the activities to their levels.

Continent Box Challenge-5285

Yes they can earn all 3 prizes, when they reach each goal. I wanted to make it fun to keep going!

This really got them going and we are still using the challenge now! Here are some action shots of the kids…

Matching up the North American Landmark 3-part cards…North America Continent Box -3883

North America Continent Box -4003

Working on puzzles…

North America Continent Box -3906 North America Continent Box -3908

We will definitely be using the Continent Box Challenge in the future and I thought it might work for some of you too!  BUT, I knew your boxes would be different and you would need to be able to create your own tasks based on your boxes!  So, I asked my friend Jolanthe {who has the correct software} if she would make an editable PDF form for my readers to create your own challenges! She said yes!!!

The colors correspond with the colors used with Montessori geography, but you can just print in gray scale if you don’t need the colors!  Each box is editable and you can save the PDF file to use again too!

Click on graphic to download your printables!

Continent Box Challenge Editable Printables


Looking for more World Geography ResourcesContinent Boxes

Tot School Gathering Place ~ Week 27

Gather together here, gather ideas from other blogs, share your own ideas on your own blog. Browse around at the other posts linked up, leave a few comments if you have time, and be sure to check back to see if your blog was featured!



Schoool Time Snippets had a fun Letter B Week!  I love how she used birdseed for the sensory dig using the ABC Find It Printables!

School Time Snippets


Making the letter I with ICE!  Love this idea and many others over at You Are the Roots!

You Are the Roots


Were you featured?

You are welcome to a button but you certainly don’t have to use it! Totally optional!

Tot School Feature

<center><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="I was featured for Tot School!" src=""/ ></a></center>

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Never Planned to Homeschool…

Never Planned to Homeschool

I have a real life friend with a 4 year old, and their family is in the trenches of THE decision.  What educational option is best for their family, their daughter?  As I invited her over and offered to let her pick my brain {what’s left of it}, it occurred to me that I have thousands of readers with this exact same dilemma.  I have answered it briefly here and there, but never in a complete blog post.  So, for my friend, and for all of you who are my “friends,” I share our journey with you.  The road that led to homeschool, but began with nothing resembling homeschool!


My Background

I babysat since the moment I can remember, I absolutely loved children and would babysit for free if it meant I could spend time with cute kids.  I went to college with no real plans in mind and midway through my sophomore year I decided to be a Nutritionist.  I soon learned that I would have to take Organic Chemistry and I knew I had to change direction.  I remember sitting in the counselor’s office to declare my major and the moment I chose Early Childhood Education and why.  I had no clue what I really wanted to do, but I KNEW I wanted to be a good mom, so I chose the major that I thought would help me with that. The counselor tried to talk me into education K-6, and I purposely chose Early Childhood Ed with B-K {birth through Kindergarten} certification. I thought that would be best for my mothering goals and if I did decide to teach I knew I had no desire teaching beyond the Kindergarten level.

So, I completed my degree, with several internships, one being Montessori based, which is where my passion for Montessori came from. I went on to teach Kindergarten in the public school system for 4 1/2 years and loved {almost} every moment of it. I stopped teaching right before PacMan was born, to begin my journey as a mom.


Original School Plans

I love the group education model and always desired to send my own children to public school.  I had no problems with private schooling, or homeschooling, just believed that MY kids would attend public school, and thrive!  My husband agreed, as we both attended public schools for our educational journey.  There was never really a question in our minds about the schooling choice for our children, until…


Missionary Living

When PacMan was almost 2 we transitioned into missionary life in the inner city.  This process is a whole different story, but here I will share how that transition affected our schooling future. We live in a big American city, in the heart of the “ghetto” and unfortunately the schools around us aren’t schools we wanted to send our children to. We looked into a few private schools and just never felt led to that route, for many reasons {financial, and others}. So, it became clear we had to figure out what we were going to do and I began thinking and exploring when PacMan was just 3. I had 2 amazing friends who homeschooled {one is Shannon who writes the Calendar Connections cards!} who were inspiring to me, but I still didn’t think it was the choice for us. I still had no clue we would eventually become homeschoolers!


The Year of Indecision

During that year of indecision, we enrolled PacMan in a preschool 2 days a week at a local His 1st Day of Going SchoolChristian school that one of the other missionary families’ children attended. At the time it worked out fine and he loved it.  Later I learned that this was a bit of a mistake, and maybe my own selfish desires led me to be OK with that decision.  I was working full time as the children’s ministry leader and I needed those few hours of work time.  Once we made the decision to homeschool, I paid the price for this transitional decision as Pac begged to go back to “going school” as he called it.

In hindsight, I wish I would have kept him home, but I also don’t regret sending him.  I know, that’s a bit contradictory, but I am certain I gained valuable insight by him going to preschool, and the experience for him was positive.  Even if it was the wrong decision, God redeems and all is well.


I feel the Holy Spirit Leading us to HOMESCHOOL, AHH!

Obviously we came to the decision to homeschool and although I don’t remember the final decision or the conversation that solidified the decision, I do remember feeling fully guided by the Holy Spirit. I can’t say I felt certain, but I did feel peace in the direction we were taking. A few very specific things led to our decision.

  1. Our location. The public schools weren’t what we desired for our children and the private schools weren’t a good fit for us.
  2. Our missionary lifestyle ~ we work odd hours, take odd time off and really benefit from a year long schedule not hindered by a public school schedule.  We take vacations during the off season with grandparents, and are able to have our weekly day off easily be on Friday instead of a normal weekend {my husband works on Saturdays and being a ministry family, we “work” on Sunday too.}.
  3. Daddy’s daily work hours ~ my husband leads the recovery ministry at our church and also runs the work training ministry. He is the full time missionary during this season of life and his plate is full.  He is also currently in college, completing his Bible degree and also getting his masters degree in Christian counseling. If our kids went to school, he wouldn’t have the time with him that we feel is valuable to our family.  He spends lots of time with them, even with his busy work routine.  He is able to do this because we homeschool.
  4. Educational freedom ~ I wanted to be the one influencing my children on a daily basis for so many hours a day.  Back in my teaching days I knew many wonderful teachers, but I also knew many I would not want my children spending hours and hours per day with.  I really dislike the lack of input a parent has on who the teacher is. I have no viable solution for this, other than to do it myself. The luck of the draw just wasn’t sitting well with us, and having an entire year led by a man or woman that wasn’t someone we felt comfortable with was very concerning. Now, even saying that I do know that had we chosen public school God would work it all out for good. Even though I say this, I also trust God fully and know that even if my children were with a teacher we didn’t approve of, God would always be there with them and in the situation.
  5. Ability to adapt to the needs of my children ~ I love figuring out a child’s learning style.  Learning about Multiple Intelligences was a favorite topic of mine in college, I love how unique all children are.  Homeschooling gives me the awesome challenge and opportunity to adapt to my children in a very specific way.  This has really benefitted Krash, who I think would fall between the cracks in a group education model.


OK, but HOW will we homeschool?

Once the decision was made I became overwhelmed with all of the choices.  Being so overwhelmed led me to look into public cyber charter schools, and I went to an open house and was impressed.  The school we ended up choosing seemed to be a good fit and the more I learned about Calvert, the more I felt it was a good start for us.  We began our homeschooling journey with the idea that we would take it one year at a time and one kid at a time.  What works for one season of life may not work always and what works for one of our kids may not work for all of them. I knew if the cyber school was a bomb, I could always homeschool the way my friends did and figure it out that way.  Honestly, choosing a cyber school gave me a peace at first and I am totally pleased with that decision.  I was lacking confidence, yes – even having been a teacher. I was extremely overwhelmed and felt that I would somehow fail my children.  The cyber school was a completely positive and supportive experience for us and still is to this day.  I have heard other stories that haven’t gone the way mine has, so I am hesitant to even say how much we love our situation.  We are very blessed indeed. I have more FAQ about our cyber school choice here.



The First Year of Homeschooling

I must admit, I wanted to quit the first year.  I had dreams of the big yellow bus driving by Color Treeand waving as my son hopped on!  PacMan was a VERY strong willed little boy and the early days of homeschooling him were very exhausting. He fought me on almost everything and I often thought we made the wrong choice. But we pressed on, knowing that we truly felt that God had led us on this journey.

Gradually we found our groove and each year it got better, but I still struggled with my fear about messing up my kids.  I knew I could swing Kindergarten and 1st grade but beyond that I was certain I would fail them.


7 Years Later…

My oldest will enter 6th grade in the fall, Krash will be a 2nd grader and Ladybug is a preschooler. I am currently re-learning 6th grade material so I will be fully prepared to teach my son in the fall.  I was one of those A & B students who tested well.  I memorized information and then dumped it out of my brain forever.  It still amazes me {in a bad way} what I don’t know.  Basic facts of history, math, grammar rules and more.  I am truly relearning much of what I am now teaching.

I can honestly tell you I love homeschooling. Not because it is easy, but because I know it is right for our family at this time.  Around 3rd grade things got MUCH easier with Pac, and now we have a groove that works. Personally,  I still struggle more than you will ever know and I still doubt, but overall I am confident in the path God has placed me on.  I know He is walking beside me and will never ask me to do anything He feels I cannot handle!  My fears are goofy, I am consistently reminded of that.


What About You?

When I am asked for advice, I tell my friends that they must seek the will of the Lord for their family.  What works for one may not work for another.  I have no problem with public, private, hybrid or any other educational model.  Just because I homeschool {and use a cyber school} doesn’t mean I believe it is the only correct choice.  It is right for our family.  Praying and seeking as a family is deeply important. 

One thing I will tell you is that I don’t think anyone should NOT homeschool out of fear. We all have fears, even the best homeschoolers have fears.  I have listened to the greats, met them at conferences and have learned that they too were just like us {Sally Clarkson and Rachael Carman are two I adore}.  Women who struggle with doubts, fears, and who lack the confidence to believe that we truly are what’s best for our kids.

Remember, you can always change your mind.  That’s why we have the one year, one kid at a time policy.  If it isn’t working, seek the Lord and pray more.  Maybe you will feel called to stick it out as we did, but maybe you are in a situation that isn’t right and you need to change. It is a decision only your family can make with God’s guidance.  The best advice in the world can’t come from friends or blogs, it comes from the Lord.


Think YOU Might want to Homeschool?

{disclaimer~ affiliate and blog sponsor links below}

Looking for resources to read? If you have a baby, or a toddler, be sure to get my Tot School eBook for free here.  I also highly recommend Montessori at Home!, an amazing eBook which has inspired much of our homeschooling. Seasons of a Mother’s Heart was a great read in my earlier homeschool years also.

I contributed a chapter to this jam packed eBook, which I think is an amazing resource for those of you on the fence. You Can Do It Too! shares stories from over 25 homeschool families. The eBook is regularly 9.99 but is only $4.99 for the summer!

Homeschooling eBook


Want to get started reading right now?  Head over to my friend Jolanthe’s amazing and helpful blog series, Homeschool Basics



For future planning, I recommend trying to get to a homeschool convention. You can search to see if your local area has a yearly convention, or if the Teach Them Diligently Convention will be near you {Nashville, Washington DC, Spartanburg, and Texas in 2014}.

336X280 TTD Button 2013

At a convention you can browse through curriculum, and sit in on MANY helpful sessions.

Do you have your “how we chose homeschool” story on your blog?  Leave me a link in the comments, I’d love to read!  Or if you don’t have a blog and want to share your story in the comments…feel free!