Sunday, September 28, 2014

Unit Nine: Octopus

To see a list of posts for all of our units for Kindergarten, see here.  This post contains information about only Unit Nine: Octopus.
Unit Nine focused on the letter O for Octopus and the coordinating Bible truth was "Even the octopus praises the Lord!" This week got cut a little short, as we went on a little vacation to the beach for a few days to celebrate Daddy's birthday.  How nice it was that our unit study was on octopus while we were at the beach, though!  It was so nice to have the beach all to ourselves and not have to worry about being in a formal school setting.  We talked a lot about our unit as we walked on the beach together. This is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling- you can set your own schedule!  

My son really enjoyed making a watercolor painting of his very own octopus.  

Some supplements we used for this unit:

ABC Memory Verse Cards
In addition to the Bible truth, we are also memorizing a Bible verse that begins with the letter of the week. I received some ACB cards as a gift and they are by Dayspring, but I have also seen these online that would work just as well.

This week our O verse was: "Obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). 

Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader K
This book is perfect for kindergarten, as it has a well-illusrtated animal lesson for each letter of the alphabet.  This week we learned about the ostrich.

Ocean Pack
Here is an AWESOME resource and it's FREE!  We have completed printables from this site before and I had every intention of printing off and using this pack, but we didn't get to it this week.  It looks super cute, though!  There is also a Hermit the Crab one too, to go along with the Eric Carle book.  

Two books we really enjoyed for this unit were: A House for Hermit Crab and Mister Seahorse. Both books are by Eric Carle.  We also checked out several books about the ocean and talked more about ocean life.  

What's Under the Sea is a great educational book.  Each page is FULL of information about the sea, sea creatures, divers, etc.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Raspberry-Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

As much as I try to eat healthy, I've got to have a few sweet recipes to turn to!  This dessert has a fraction of the calories/sugar/fat grams of most raspberry bar recipes, but it still tastes pretty great.  So, make this instead and you won't feel as guilty when you eat a piece!

  • 1 Cup Flour (I used a gluten free flour mix, but regular or whole wheat flour should work)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda (omit if using gf flour that already contains this)
  • 1 Cup Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp Coconut Oil (at room temp) or softened butter
  • 6 oz. pureed raspberries (one small container)
  • 1/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • On low/med speed, mix together butter/coconut oil and brown sugar.  Slowly add flour, baking soda, and oats.  
  • Using 1/4 of this mixture, press it on to the bottom of a 8x8 baking dish.  
  • Pour pureed raspberries on top. 
  • Combine chocolate chips with the remaining flour mixture and crumble on top of raspberries.  
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes or until lightly brown on top.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

When God Re-directs Our Plans

"You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail."

Sometimes we pray about something and feel like God has told us exactly what do to and we set out to accomplish it.  Sometimes, however, we think we know what God wants us to do, but when we set out to accomplish it, He changes things completely.  When things do not go the way we expect, we have two choices: will we keep trusting Him OR will we lose faith in Him and try to do things our own way?  Our family recently went through a major shift of plans.  I'm writing this so I can look back on it and remember that God led us to do this when life gets hard in a few months and we begin to question things.  

When Scott and I were first married, we served as short-term missionaries with the International Mission Board for a year. After that, through a series of God-ordained events, Scott and I came to Macon, Georgia to work with the youth group at Northway Church over 6.5 years ago. These past 6.5 years have been some of the greatest years of our lives.  We love nothing more than getting to see our teenagers fall in love with Christ and obediently follow God’s call on their lives.

Several years ago, we began to sense that God was calling us to serve Him overseas as missionaries again.  Of course we were willing to follow God, but it was definitely a lot harder this time.  We had a family now and we loved our students at church, but we followed the calling and began the application process with the International Mission Board.  We also put our house up for sale, knowing God would have to take care of the sale of our house amidst a very unstable housing market.   After lowering our house several times and knowing we would lose all of our savings, we lowered it one final time and received an offer over Christmas break last winter. 

After our house sold, we moved into an apartment and were about to share our news with our church family when a health crisis put a major halt on our plans.  I almost had a heart attack and had a stent placed in my LAD artery, where 70% blockage was found. Our plans to go overseas were not going to be able to happen.  So, we had just sold our house and gotten rid of a lot of our possessions, we had just lost all of our savings, and then we are told that we can’t do what we felt God calling us to do.  We began to wrestle with God about what He was doing, not understanding why all of this would happen.

To be honest, I started to have a crisis of belief.  Sure, I knew all the right answers. I knew God was in control of the situation and was not surprised by any of this.  But, I could not understand why He would place a calling on our lives to go overseas, have us sell our house and then close that door.  It made no sense.  People are dying everyday who have not heard the name of Jesus and we are willing to go, and yet, God says no. 

Had we not heard Him correctly when we started the process to be overseas missionaries? 

A few months later, God began to show us that He did have a purpose and a plan for us; it just looked a lot different than we imagined.  My brother, Will Blanchard, is the pastor at a church plant in Northwest Arkansas called Northwest Community Church. Will began sharing with us their main needs at Northwest: they really needed someone to help them launch a brand new youth and missions program. We began to see that God would be using our calling for overseas missions and our love and experience of working with youth.  But then came the scary part: Will shared with us that Northwest would initially only be able to provide our health insurance.  Scott would need to be bi-vocational and Scott's parents would have to help provide our housing for this to be possible.  

Were we really considering this?  Were we really about to leave a stable job in a church that we loved to move to Arkansas where we would not have a salary?  

When I think back to when Scott and I first started the mission’s process, I truly believe we were being obedient to the calling God had placed on our lives.  But, God re-directed it.  He may have re-directed it in a way that was hard for us to accept, but that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t have a plan for us.  Two years ago, I never would have thought that we would be moving to a small church plant, where my husband would be working as a school bus driver or substitute teacher and we would be depending on his parents to provide our housing.   But, God used His initial calling on our lives to get us to where we are today.  Two years ago, we may not have been strong enough to accept a call like this.  But God has used these past two years to strengthen our trust in Him, even when life’s circumstances were out of our control. 

One thing that I have really learned through this experience is to KEEP WALKING IN OBEDIENCE, even when my plans don’t go the way I originally thought. We were completely confused and crushed when we were told we could not go overseas.  But that’s when it’s the toughest to keep walking in obedience.  It is then that we have to decide  to keep trusting and looking to Him because God will not fail us.  We can’t always control the outcome, but we can control whether or not we will be obedient. 

May we walk in obedience, trusting that He has a plan, even when life doesn't make sense.  

"We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God." 
-2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unit Eight: Dinosaur

To see a list of posts for all of our units for Kindergarten, see here.  This post contains information about only Unit Eight: Dinosaur.

Unit Eight focused on the letter D for Dinosaur and the coordinating Bible truth was "Big and Small, God made them all." Our boys love dinosaurs, so this was definitely a fun topic!  There are a lot of resources out there too!

Some supplements we used for this unit:

ABC Memory Verse Cards
In addition to the Bible truth, we are also memorizing a Bible verse that begins with the letter of the week. I received some ACB cards as a gift and they are by Dayspring, but I have also seen these online that would work just as well.

This week our D verse was: "Do everything without complaining or arguing" (Philippians 2:14). 

Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader K
This book is perfect for kindergarten, as it has a well-illusrtated animal lesson for each letter of the alphabet.  This week we learned about Dolphins. 

Dinosaur Pack
Here is an AWESOME resource and it's FREE!  We love this and it includes everything you need to make a fun unit on dinosaurs.  Learn dinosaur names, play games, work on handwriting and math's great!  Choose which pages you want and just print those.  There is also a TOT version available for younger children!  

Play Dough Dinosaur Tutorial
...For those of us who are not as skilled at play dough creations

Dinosaur Creation Video
This is a little on the long side, but my son watched most of it.  

There are obviously a TON of books out there on dinosaurs!  However, it is pretty difficult to find books that support creation and dinosaurs.  We did enjoy the book suggested by MFW, What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?  We read and looked at a lot of other books that do not support creationism, but we looked at the pictures and talked about how some scientists believe things that we do not.  I am surprised at some of the awful comments that people have made about What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs.  We found it helpful and fun.  We also liked Dinosaurs by Design, although it is a longer book with a lot of words and my son could not sit through the whole thing at once.  

Unit Seven: Us

To see a list of posts for all of our units for Kindergarten, see here.  This post contains information about only Unit Seven: Us.

Unit Seven focused on the letter U for Us and the coordinating Bible truth was "God made us Wonderful!" It was fun talking about the five different senses and how we use each of them.  Benjamin especially enjoyed the activity on day one where he had to use his sense of touch to guess which objects where inside of my purse.  He looked forward to the coordinating activities about the senses each day.  

Some supplements we used for this unit:

ABC Memory Verse Cards
In addition to the Bible truth, we are also memorizing a Bible verse that begins with the letter of the week. I received some ACB cards as a gift and they are by Dayspring, but I have also seen these online that would work just as well.

This week our U verse was: "...under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield..." (Psalm 91:4).  

Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader K
This book is perfect for kindergarten, as it has a well-illusrtated animal lesson for each letter of the alphabet.  This week we learned about Urchins. 

Since we were learning about US, I let Benjamin paint someone in our family.  He chose to paint his daddy.  

Short Videos about our Senses: 

5 senses jiminy cricket video

A dog's nose helps him figure out his birthday present!


We read a lot of books form our library this week.  Basically, any book that had the word "Me" or "I" in it, we checked it out!  In addition, we also found A True Book series that is a nonfiction book series about health and the human body.  We found one for each sense.  


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Creamy Chicken and Veggies over Rice

It can be challenging to find recipes that incorporate a lot of vegetables.  It is recommended that adult men and women eat 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day.  That's a difficult thing to accomplish!  Here's a recipe to help a little bit with that, but its creaminess makes it feel like you're not just choking down a plateful of veggies.  Enjoy!

1.5 Cups Uncooked Basmati Rice (feel free to use a different kind)
3 Cups Vegetable Broth (water will work, but broth makes it taste better)
1 Lb. Chicken Breasts or Tenders (Optional)
Minced Garlic
Olive Oil
2 Large Zucchini, diced
1 Bell Pepper, diced
2-3 Cups of Fresh Steamed Veggies: I used Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Carrots
1 Can White Northern Beans, drained
2 Tbsp. Pesto (I used sun-dried tomato pesto)
1 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp. Corn Starch
1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese

Cook rice according to package instructions, but use 1.5 cups of uncooked rice with the 3 cups of vegetable broth.

Heat olive oil and garlic in skillet and add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks and set aside.

In a large pan, saute diced pepper and zucchini in olive oil and garlic for about 5 minutes on medium heat.  Add pesto and stir.  Add white beans.

In a separate small bowl, whisk corn starch with milk and add mixture to pan. Bring to a boil and turn to low heat.  Optional: use a potato masher to gently mash beans and veggies or use an immersion blender.  If you prefer it to be chunky, skip this step.

Add fresh steamed veggies, chicken and cheese.

Place basmati rice on plate and top with creamy chicken and vegetables.

Recipe adapted from here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stovetop Pepper Stir Fry

 Fresh Veggies!

I made this today for lunch my husband requested it again for dinner.  If you don't want to take the time to stuff bell peppers and have them cook in the oven, then just cook it on the stovetop.

1 Pound of Ground Turkey or Beef
Fresh or Minced Garlic
3 Bell Peppers, preferable 3 different colors, diced
1 Cup of Shredded Carrots
1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Cups of Broth (vegetable, chicken or beef will work)
1 Cup Tomato Sauce or Spaghetti Sauce
1 Tbsp Italian Seasonings
1 Cup of Uncooked Rice
2 oz Cream Cheese  or Sour Cream (optional)
Shredded Cheese (to taste)

In a large sauce pan, cook ground turkey or meat on medium heat with a tiny bit of olive oil and fresh or minced garlic.
Add diced peppers, shredded carrots, and tomatoes and cook on medium heat about 5 minutes.
Add broth, tomato sauce, and seasonings and bring to a boil.
Add rice and bring back to a boil.  Then cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
Optional: Add in 2 oz of cream cheese and stir.  This will make it creamier, but is not necessary.
Top with shredded cheese and enjoy!

Optional: Add chili powder to make it a little spicier.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Supplements for Kindergarten

For kindergarten this year, we have decided to use the curriculum, My Father's World, to homeschool our son.  While this is a complete curriculum, we have decided that he needs a little extra this year.  I have really enjoyed this curriculum, and our son is already starting to read and we are only 7 weeks into the program. That being said, I think each parent has to assess their child and see what needs to be added or taken away from a program to educate their child the best way possible.  This is a great thing about homeschooling: you can taper the program however you want! Each week, I am blogging about any "extras" I find to help make each unit more exciting.  To see a list of each unit, see here.  Below, I have listed below some extra material that we use each week as well.  We owned some of this before we started the school year, and I have added a few others along the way.

Singapore Math:  Essential Math, Book B
Last year, we completed a basic kindergarten math workbook that I picked up at Walmart.  It was helpful in counting to 20, basic addition and subtraction, etc.  I really wanted to find something that would challenge him a bit more, so I looked into the Singapore program.  Workbook A seemed to cover the same things that he already had learned, so I opted to just get Book B.  So far, it has been a good fit. It's a lot more challenging than the workbook he completed last year, but still age appropriate.  The workbooks are very affordable, and I would recommend both books A and B if your child has not completed any sort of math workbook yet.
*This has been one of the most important supplements we have added.

A Reason for Handwriting K
There are so many free print-ables you can find online for helping your child practice the letters of the alphabet, so this book isn't really necessary.  But, if you like to have all of your worksheets in one place, then this is a great book.  The child practices correctly writing his letters and then has a coordinating coloring sheet to go along with it.  The focus of this text is proper formation of letters and beginning sounds.  Hint: Look for a copy at Goodwill to save money!
I Can Draw Animals
We usually use this book once a week.  I let our son pick out an animal that he would like to draw and this book leads the child through a step-by-step instruction.  I don't even have to help him with this and he seems to enjoy it.

Meet the Sight Words
I never would have ordered this if it had not been on sale simply because of the expense.  I found it on Zulily on sale for $30 for Meet the Sight Words 3 DVD set AND Meet the Sight Words Easy Reader Books, which contains twelve books per level, totaling 36 books.  The dvd's seem a bit boring, but our son seems to enjoy them and it really has helped him learn his sight words.  The short books are a great start for teaching beginning reading as well.  Each dvd is divided into chapter selections, and each selection is about 5-6 minutes long, so you can control how many lessons they watch, etc.  We try to watch a few chapter selections each week.

 Bible: Big Truths for Little Kids
We use this book several times each week to add a little extra to our Bible time.  Each lesson in this devotional teaches children about the basic truths of the Christian faith, as it follows the lives of Caleb and Cassie.  I think the book, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God, looks really good too, and I would like to try it when my children are a little bit older.

Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Science and Nature
We owned this book before we started kindergarten this year, but it has been a fun book to use with our curriculum.  Our children love The Berenstain Bears, so they enjoy learning from this book.