Chicken Diaries

It’s been a while since I did an update on the chickens, they are now nearly 6 weeks old. They are looking more like adult birds, there is no sign of their earlier yellow plumage! The girls are slowly developing a bit of a crest on the top of their heads, they should have a bit of red on them eventually. The Delaware chickens are a beautiful Heritage Breed, you can see a bit of their grey feathers on the tail, wings and neck. We are still a month or two away from them beginning to lay their brown eggs, meanwhile we are having fun watching them eat bugs in the yard. They eat any sort of bugs and are tremendously quick at catching them. The chickens will dig the bugs out of the ground with their sharp feet and swallow them in one gulp. They tend to play follow the leader and waddle about after the one that we affectionately call The General. They do eat weeds as well, although I haven’t let them wander around the garden too much, we have so many predators here that it makes me a bit nervous. I have heard that chickens will eat every weed in your garden, so we will be exploring that angle as we go along! The chicken tractor is complete! I think it looks more like a Chalet, don’t you? Next step is to paint it, humm, can’t decide on colors? I am leaning towards red, white or grey. We started with a plan for the tractor that…
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How to Make Play Dough

Who doesn’t love play dough? When your kids are little it’s some of the best entertainment ever. My problem always was that there was just not enough play dough in those little cans to go around. Then the kids would somehow manage to leave it uncovered, and it was hard as a rock the next day. It was literally like throwing money away. That is until I found a DIY play dough recipe where I could make it in bulk. I also found that it keeps far longer than the store bought variety, is fun to make, and the kids love adding their own colors. Eureka! We now use play dough only occasionally for a school project, but it is still one of my favorite things to do. Our son’s volcano shown above is slowly hardening and will be ready for the addition of the lava for his science experiment very soon. Here’s what you need for the basic play dough: 2 cups flour 1 cup salt (any kind will do, I am using up old salt from my baking cabinet) 4 teaspoons cream of tartar 2 cups water 2 tablespoons salad oil A few drops food color of your choice Combine all ingredients, heat over medium heat stirring constantly until a soft, lumpy ball forms. It happens very quickly! Remove from heat, knead until dough is smooth. Dough can be stored in an air tight container, or frozen, thawed, and refrozen several times.  Whip up a batch to give away at a birthday party with the recipe, or keep…
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Best of the Best Home School Book List

We are getting hit with a major blizzard today! This sunflower is a teaser photo! Yes, spring will come, but it sure is taking forever! More teasers……… My long awaited book list! This is really just a starting point, as I am sure I will think of more books over time. I have separated the list into age groups, and I will also have a separate list for general curriculum for each age group as well that I will add at a later time. These are all books I have personally read and can vouch for. I did not include books we have read that we didn’t absolutely love. There are so many marginal books out there, only the very best ones are needed to complete your home schooling library. We have read through so many different book lists during our home schooling journey, not all recommended books are created equal! My criteria for choosing good books includes great artwork, well developed story lines, lots of action, interesting plots and characters, good morals and biblical values. I will be adding books over time so be sure and stop back! This list will be filed under the My Book List page for easy reference. Beware, these little ones love to read the same stories over and over again! Invest in a few great books and they will be happy for ages! Little Readers Moo Baa and Fa, La, La and other books by Sandra Boynton Jingle Bugs and other pop up books by David A. Carter Orange Tomatoes, Blue Potatoes by Rosalind…
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How to make a High School Transcript

It’s kind of funny, when I look back and think about it. High school transcripts, that is. It’s funny how my home schooling friends and I totally stressed out about this for such a long time. We used to talk about it and wonder, how will we do that? Will college’s accept them? Will I be able to calculate cumulative grade point averages without loosing my mind? Which format is best? Do I include my child’s activities on a transcript? What format should I use? Will my child have enough credits to graduate? We even had dinner parties to discuss it. Then we tried watching a series of DVD’s on making home school transcripts. We all came out of there completely over whelmed and confused. I even bought a fancy computer program to organize all my kids home school grades to make it easier. The thing was, I couldn’t even figure out how to turn the dang thing on. It was awful! That was the last of it, I finally decided I just wouldn’t worry about it anymore. Then one day, someone said ” Why don’t you just try Teascript?” Huh? We currently have 3 boys in high school. Our oldest son needed his first transcript when he made the move into the public school system as a high school Sophomore. Only then did I figure out the transcript secret. It’s  far easier than I ever imagined. Why did it stress me out needlessly, for SOOO long? So here’s the secret. It’s called Teascript. And to keep you from stressing out and having…
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Career Exploration: Youth Apprenticeship

Years ago, I wandered into our local Chamber of Commerce to pick up some brochures on things to do in our area for some visitors we were having. I happened to find a brochure regarding the Youth Apprenticeship Program. It described how high school students can learn a career choice while on the job, and receive both high school and college credit. I knew right then and there that this would be a part of our family’s future. What a great opportunity! In Wisconsin, the Youth Apprenticeship program is part of the state’s Work Force Development department. They work in collaboration with the US Department of Labor to offer the program in more than 25 states and territories. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they also have specific programs for students with disabilities. More than 950 different occupations are currently offered nationwide. Incredible! The ultimate question for us was, can a home schooled student be a part of this program? In our state it is decided by each school district. Our Madison area district allows home schooled students, but some of the suburban districts do not. I would encourage you to apply regardless of the local policy. We have friends who applied, were turned down for no other reason other than they were home schooled, appealed, and then were accepted into the program. You just never know, so be persistent. Interestingly enough, the College Board website (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/explore-careers/careers/exploring-careers-step-by-step), which administers the SAT, CLEP, AP and PSAT tests, recommends an internship program as one of the best ways to get into…
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DIY Flower Pens

I have had this little pot of flowers on my desk for a long time. It’s one of my favorite things. My youngest son made it for me some years ago. You see I was having a problem with my pens walking away all the time, later to be found in massive heaps under my children’s beds or beneath the cushions on the couch. But, since I received my pot of pens, I have never lost a pen. You or your children can easily make these, and you too will never again loose your pens. All you need is a few plastic flowers with stems removed, floral tape, your favorite pens, a small clay pot, and some dried beans. Line up the base of the plastic flower with the end of the pen, tape with the floral tape. Be sure to cover the entire pen so it looks like a stem to the flower. Add the beans to the clay pot, and stick the open end of the ball point pen into the beans, they will hold the pen in place so nicely! We used dried pinto beans because that was what we had on hand, but you could also use dried black beans which really look like soil. We made some of these for my Grandmother at age 101. She loved them, she couldn’t get used to the fact that they were pens. Who knows, after a while everyone may just for get that they are pens and you can just enjoy the flowers. Designer Mom

Teaching the Gifted: The Auditory Learner

I have learned many things in my years of homeschooling.  Here are my thoughts on teaching an auditory learner, along with a few resources that I have found to be of great value in this process. “Is your child gifted?” I hate that question. It drives me crazy to read about schools that offer gifted learning programs. Actually I hate labels period. As far as I am concerned, ALL children are gifted. They each just have DIFFERENT gifts. Many times we just don’t understand their gifts. Far too often, their gifts go completely undiscovered and unappreciated. There are many adults who feel they had special gifts as children that were unrecognized. This is so true. After all, IQ tests can’t possibly measure all God’s given talents completely. Home schooling a gifted child who learns easily may sound like a simple thing. Perfect, in fact. You would think would be an ideal situation. You give them their work, they do it, every body is happy. But is it really this easy? These “gifted” children are often continually bored, may be unsocial, they may already know the answer to every question and can be difficult to teach. They can also be stubborn perfectionists, very athletic, and or very musical. Their talents may lie in only one area and they may also be completely afraid to try new or different things for fear of failure. These children can be very difficult to engage and challenge, much less keeping them busy all day long at home without driving every one else in the house…
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Penelope Van Princess

Penelope Van Princess was a fable I heard growing up, recently I decided to dig a little deeper.  I was shocked when I read this story and realized it was more than just a fabled tale!  One of the best things we have done as home schoolers is to study family history. History is so much more interesting when you have a personal interest in the subject. For years, we have researched and talked about the relatives, many of whom have such facinating character you could write a book about it. What little boy wouldn’t want to learn about Uncle George Baseball, Uncle Herold the Hermit or Great Grandpa Ives and his mysterious connection to Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad? Family history is facinating stuff. My Grandmother used to tell me stories as a girl of an Indian Princess in our family. I was facinated by her tale of the only woman EVER known to have survived a scalping by Indians. My Grandmother always had her mind, even at age 105, and I had no doubt that she knew her family history. But it wasn’t until I recently Googled “Penelope Von Princess” that this tale came to life for me. There is nothing like seeing it printed in front of you on the Internet, and suddenly a family fable has a basis in reality. It was the year 1622. A baby girl was born in Amsterdam, Holland named Penelope Kent. She grew up, and married a Mr. Van Princen (some versions of the story say his name was Von…
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