Tuesday Tips: Choosing Curriculum “What is Best For Me, Might Not Be Best For Thee”

I love helping families transition to homeschooling, and I could talk about curriculum for hours. As a mom who has been homeschooling for ten years, runs an online book store, and reviews curriculum, I have seen and tried a lot of different programs.

Almost always, one of the first questions people ask me when they decide to transition to homeschooling is, “which curriculum is the best?”

Sometimes I wish this was an easy cut and dried answer. However, what works best for your family (and sometimes each child) will vary based on many factors. My motto when dealing with curriculum is, “What is Best For Me, Might Not Be Best For Thee.”

Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

When deciding on the right curriculum, you must consider various factors.

Questions to Consider When Choosing Curriculum:

  • What are the goals of my homeschool?
  • How much parental input is needed/desired?
  • What are the learning styles of my children?
  • What is my budget?
  • Does this align with our family values?
  • How much time will this program take?
  • Is the program paper/pencil or computer-based?
  • Will I need additional materials?

How Do I Decide?

Now that we have established that there is no one size fits all solution to homeschool curriculum, you might be feeling more lost than ever and wondering if you will ever find the right fit. This news should be freeing. You can choose, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer.

Too often, parents feel like they are failing when a popular curriculum is not working for their child. Other times, parents feel frozen in indecision because they are unsure if the curriculum they are looking at is “best.”

My advice is to talk to people you know and look at reviews, but also make sure you look at each program through the lens of the questions listed above. Then choose the one (or ones) that you think will work best for your family.

Try the curriculum for a while and if it works, keep doing it. If it isn’t working, do not be afraid to sell that one and try something new. It may take a couple of tries to find the right fit. You are not alone, and that is not a failure.

Other Curriculum Resources:

Remember, you can’t do everything, and just because it is a good program does not mean it is suitable for your family! Find out more about that in my post about getting rid of our Latin curriculum.

You can also learn more about picking a curriculum and see our curriculum reviews using the links below!

New Years Curriculum Reevaluation and Nature Study

Changing Up Curriculum Without Overspending!

High School Credit for Morning Time Studies

Reviews

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

Not Consumed is having their annual Back to School Sale! (They have great family Bible studies)

$10 Off for Amazon Prime Day

Pre-Order the Brand New Tuttle Twins American History book for a big discount and some awesome bonuses.

Try Journey Homeschool Academy’s FUN and Free summer courses this week! Check out the Stargazing Astronomy Course and the Backyard Bugs course.

Also, check out the FREE Unlocking the Bible course for teens!

Also, get a 15% discount on Thinkwell Math by using this referral link.

Tuesday Tips: Prioritize Encouragement for Mom

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

I genuinely believe that homeschooling is one of the most important tasks that God has given me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. However, I also want to be honest and say that some days (months, years) are hard! In the day-to-day grind, it is easy to forget that we do not “have” to homeschool, but instead, we are privileged to have the opportunity to homeschool.

One way to help combat the hard days is to ensure that you include some homeschool mom encouragement in your days.

What is Homeschool Mom Encouragement?

There are so many different ways to be encouraged as a homeschool mom. Different things will work better for different families, different issues, and even just different seasons.

Remember the Why!

First, remember why you homeschool! I highly encourage you to write down your whys and keep them somewhere that you can refer back to them on the hard days! They will help keep you grounded and focused.

Community

Next, find a group of homeschool mom friends. I firmly believe that we should have a variety of friends, but sometimes you need another homeschool mom who has been there, done that, and come out on the other side.

I am blessed to have a large community of homeschool mom friends. Locally, I have friends that go out to dinner once a month for Mom’s Night Out and other friends who gather for park play dates and field trips. I am also a member of many great homeschool communities online, where people can ask questions, share ideas, and find support.

Not many tough homeschooling days aren’t made better with chocolate and an understanding friend!

Books, Podcasts, and Movies

Finally, many great books, podcasts, and even movies are geared toward encouraging homeschool moms. Your first thought is probably not how to find these resources but how to make time for them in your busy schedule.

You do not have to spend hours a day or even hours a week reading or listening, but I encourage you to find some time each week to read or listen to something encouraging. You might listen to a podcast while you wash dishes or take a walk or read for five or ten minutes before bed each night. Audiobooks can be a great way to listen while driving from place to place.

Taking that time to get encouragement will pay dividends in the long run. Having a refreshed spirit will give you the strength to work through the tough days and enjoy the good days!

I would love for you to share your ideas for homeschool mom encouragement, and I have included some links and resources to help get you started.

Encouraging Books

Awaking Wonder

Lifegiving Collection (Encouragement for moms)

Adventuring Together

Read Aloud Family

Pocketful of Pinecones ( A bit idyllic but a light encouraging read)

Encouraging Podcasts

At Home with Sally

Read-Aloud Revival

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this sale!\

Journey Homeschool Academy’s FUN and Free summer courses start this week! Check out the Stargazing Astronomy Course and the Backyard Bugs course.

Also, check out the FREE Unlocking the Bible course for teens!

LAST Day for 10% off All About Learning with code BUYEARLY

Pre-Order the Brand New Tuttle Twins American History book for a big discount and some awesome bonuses.

High School Credit for Morning Time Studies

We have done some form of morning time or family learning throughout our years of homeschooling. If you look back at what I’ve shared about our morning time over the years, you will notice that each year is different. We have changed what we did in different seasons of life and as we found new resources.

*Some links in this post are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

We are currently in a season of life which involves preschoolers to high schoolers. It is an exciting time, but it also has its challenges.

Today, I want to primarily talk about how we do morning time with a high schooler and when/how we incorporate it into his high school credits.

First, it is essential to note that not every part of a homeschooled high schooler’s education must be for credits.

The reasons we homeschool and the goals for our family have not changed just because our children are in high school.

For example, we memorize scripture because we believe it is beneficial to our Christian walk, not because we are trying to get high school credit.

However, when we can use our morning time activities for part of a high school credit, we do. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can be creative about structuring classes and education.

High School Current Events

One of the main components of our morning time this year was watching World Watch News. World Watch is a ten-minute daily news program (Monday through Friday) that shares real-world news for students from a Christian perspective. (You can also see our review: WORLD Watch News Review)

We started just watching it and discussing it as a family. However, we decided that our rich discussions were valuable and could be part of a social studies elective. So we took the watching and discussing and added a journaling component to turn that part of our morning time into a current events elective for my son.

We watched it together, discussed it together, and then had him complete a journal entry each day that shared what he had learned. Some days our discussions lasted five to ten minutes, and some days they ran as long as an hour.

High School Fine Arts

Another way to incorporate your morning time into your child’s high school credits is through fine arts. This can vary by family, but most morning time picture or music studies are not robust enough for high school credit on their own. However, they can form a great jumping-off point or base for the credit.

We plan to incorporate fine arts into our morning time next year by using the curriculum from You Are An Artist. We will go through some of it together and then have my high schoolers go more in-depth independently.

They have options by grade level or some unit studies for the whole family. I am still deciding which of their courses we will use, but I’ll make sure to share about it when I do my curriculum posts later in the summer.

You can find out more about their fine arts programs in this post about adding music to your homeschool.

High School Morning Time

High School Morning Time Literature Study

While we will not replace high school literature with morning time, it can be a great starting point. For example, we are working on memorizing some passages of Shakespeare together during our morning time.

We use Ken Ludwig’s How To Teach Your Child Shakespeare. We will also read a children’s version of the play and discuss the characters and plot.

Then my high school students can read the full version and have a more in-depth discussion as a part of their literature course.

You could also read other novels together during morning time and have your high schooler do literature analysis, projects, or papers connected to those novels as a part of their literature work.

High School Morning Time Conclusions

These are just a few ways to incorporate high school credit work into a mixed-age morning time plan! Look for part two of this post coming later, where I talk about using morning time for a few other subjects.

Remember, not everything has to be for credit, but it can be beneficial to look at how what you are already doing can be incorporated into the credits your child needs.

I would love to hear what subjects you incorporate into your morning time and high school credits.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this sale!

FREE Family Astronomy Course from Journey Homeschool Academy!

All About Learning is offering 10% off with this link and code: BUYEARLY

Principles and Precepts of Government from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

One of our educational goals for our children is to have a good understanding of our government and grow up to be informed, productive citizens. As a part of that goal, we have been looking for an excellent high school-level government class. We have recently reviewed the Principles and Precepts of Government from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum (PAC).


What Is Principles and Precepts of Government?


The Principles and Precepts of Government curriculum included three text booklets and three coordinating activity booklets. There was also a teacher’s resource kit with tests and quizzes. You can choose from print or digital versions, and we were able to look over both for this review. The program is worth ½ of a social studies credit.


Course Overview


The text booklets are approximately 60-75 pages in length. Each one contains three sections which are further divided into five topics.
The content begins with the evolution of government, going back to historic empires before Christ. Then it moves on to the Roman government before introducing the colonies and the beginning of the US government.
The second booklet is an in-depth look at the constitution, the bill of rights, and the branches of government. The final booklet covers state and local government, the election of the president, rights and responsibilities, and parliamentary procedure.

I am somewhat concerned that the paper formatting of the text booklets may not hold up to long-term use.


Text Layout


Each topic is only 3-4 pages in length, making it a manageable amount to cover in a day. At the beginning of each topic, a vocabulary list covers essential vocabulary from within the text. Those vocabulary words are also written in bold format within the text. There are black and white illustrations and maps sprinkled throughout the text.
Most sections also include a life principle, an important quote about government from famous historical figures. For example, one of the sections is from Francis Bacon. “If we do not maintain justice, justice will not maintain us.”

Principles and Precepts of Government Text Booklet


Activity Books


The activity books are broken down into the same chapter, sections, and topics as the textbooks, which makes pairing them seamless. Each topic has a page or two of questions that are mostly fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice. Sometimes, there are places to write down quotes or important content, such as the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
I think it is important to note that while these are called activity books, they are more in the style of what most people would consider workbooks. There are no hands-on activities, just the questions.


How Did We Use Principles and Precepts of Government?


I have a rising ninth-grader and a rising high school junior who both need an American Government course, so we are going through this course with both. They are doing the work independently, but then we discuss it as a family. (You need a second set of activity books for a second student as they are consumable.)
Since it is broken down into small topics, we can do two to three topics a week and cover the course material in one semester.

Activity Book Page

What Did I Think?


I liked that the curriculum was straightforward and easy to use. They had the students understand the background of our government and get a good knowledge of our constitution. Grading was simple because it included worksheets and tests.
I would like to see a little more time on primary source materials and more hands-on learning, but I appreciate the quality content and ease of use.
I also really appreciated this quote on the Paradigm website, “Principles and Precepts of Government is designed to equip students with an understanding of the evolution of various forms of governance, and thereby gain an appreciation of the workings and myriad benefits afforded in their American Republic, the sacrifices to bring it to fruition, and the requirements of involvement to preserve it.”


I just felt like that quote aligned with our family’s desire to teach our children about our government.


Both of my high school students will complete this course and some additional government materials to make a full government credit in the fall. You can also pair this course with an economics course from Paradigm to make a full credit.


What Did the Teenagers Think?

“I like how it is easy to find where you need to be in the text and activity books because Chapter #, Section #, and topic # are given at the top of the page. At the beginning of each section, it gives a vocabulary part, and throughout the section, it highlights all the words in the vocabulary part. I like how the quizzes are formatted with multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, or true or false questions. The curriculum covers from about 500 BC to more modern times, which I like because it gives you a good background on how government started and how it works now.” Elizabeth, Age 14

“The government course is a great course on the history roots and workings of the US government and I like the way that the quizzes are set up as multiple choice or fill in the blank.” Matthew, Age 15

Conclusions


Overall, this is an excellent self-paced American Government course for high schoolers. Most high schoolers could complete it independently, or you can add in family discussions. If your student is a more hands-on or auditory learner, you may want to add some additional activities or lectures.
I encourage you to check out this course and the other offerings at Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. You can also click on the graphic below to see what other Review Crew Members thought about various classes.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum

TRIVE Goal Setting and Team Building Review

 

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

Often I review brands and products with which we are already somewhat familiar. Even if I have never used the product, I have generally heard about the company or know someone that uses that curriculum. However, this month we were able to try out a product that was totally new to me: TRIVE.

 

What is TRIVE?

TRIVE is a goal-setting and team-building program designed for teens and adults. The recommended ages are 15+, though we included my fourteen-year-old daughter with no problems.

The program is built around a group of people (or a TRIVE) who set goals and hold each other accountable. During the first meeting, there is a fun quote game that helps bring people together and facilitates sharing goals. Each person comes to the meeting with three goals they want to accomplish during a six-month period.

The goals are shared, and each person is assigned a coach and someone they will coach throughout the process. Then each person works on their goals during the six months. Coaches are supposed to check in on the person they were assigned periodically.

There are also emails sent from TRIVE every few weeks to help you in the process.

At the end of six months, the whole group comes back together to discuss and assess their goal progress. There are scoring cards to score how well people did on their goals and how they performed as a coach.

How Did Our Family Use TRIVE?

Our TRIVE of four (the minimum number needed) included my husband, two teens, and myself. We all gathered together one night after the little boys had gone to bed and set our goals. I appreciate the opportunity to do something that focused on my teens and helped bring us closer.

TRIVE

During the meeting, my daughter was chosen to be the TRIVE leader. It is her responsibility to keep track of the goals and assignments. She readily took on that assignment and was excited about trying.

We have been trying to connect with our coaches weekly to discuss progress and make any needed changes.

We have a date set in our google calendar to gather together six months from the start date to score the achievements.

What Did the Teens Think?

“The TRIVE program seems like a good program. My favorite part was the game that we used to start the team building, and it helped get us more in the mood for the more serious part about discussing our goals and picking partners. I like getting emails with the dates and information to help keep me reminded of my goals; however, more regular emails would help me complete and be more effective at my goals”

Matthew, age 15

“I like TRIVE because I am competitive and know that if I do everything I can to complete my goals, I have a higher chance of winning, which encourages me to work toward my goals. Six months is a reasonable amount of time to work on our goals. It has us meet at the very beginning and the very end, and I think that maybe we should have a meeting perhaps every month to keep connected and maybe use more of the quote cards to earn points or have some activities to do.” Elizabeth, age 14

Conclusions

Overall, I loved having another way to connect with my teens. I feel like it is a great program and even something we could continue as they move away to college. I am interested to see how things go when we get back together to score the achievements in a few months.

This program was fairly simple to implement and could work well for family units, friend groups, or co-workers.

Be sure to check out the other Crew Reviews of  TRIVE by clicking on the graphic below.

set-goals-to-succeed-while-playing-a-family-game:-trive

The Wonder of Creation (Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

We received The Wonder of Creation: 100 More Devotions About God and Science from Indescribable Kids for our review. The day it arrived in the mail, my seven-year-old immediately spotted it and asked me to read it to him. He loved the bright, colorful cover and inviting pictures. I decided to read it with both the seven-year-old and my three-year-old (who turned four during this review).

What is The Wonder of Creation?

The Wonder of Creation is a devotional book by Louie Giglio and Tama Fortner and illustrated by Nicola Anderson. It is a beautiful hardcover book that includes 100 short devotionals, each covering a two-page spread in the book. In addition to the colorful cover, there are bright and engaging pictures throughout the book.

I appreciated that the book included an attached ribbon bookmark that helped us keep our place each night. There is a table of contents and an index to find a specific devotion instead of going through the book in order.

Each devotional includes a Bible verse, a devotional thought that ties something from creation into God, and some fun scientific information. For example, one of the devotionals talks about snowflakes and light reflections, and then it talks about how we should reflect the light of God’s love.

What Did We Think About the Wonder of Creation?

My boys loved listening to me read these each night. They would remind me we needed to read, bring me the book, and climb into the recliner with me. They enjoyed all of the incredible science facts and seeing the pictures.

I thought this book was a great way to help children internalize the connection between God and science. God created science, and it points us back to him instead of the worldly view that science is against the Bible.

I think it is important to note that this is not a Bible study, and I do not believe it should replace regular Bible study. It ties in the Bible and biblical concepts but does not study scripture.

Who Would You Recommend Use the Book?

This book is excellent for Christian families with children through preschool through early elementary years. The devotionals are short enough to keep the attention of younger children, and it helps them start understanding science from a Biblical worldview.

We used it as part of our bedtime routine, but it could be a great addition to morning time. Parents could also use it as a part of science by finding the devotions that relate to your topic of study.

While we enjoyed reading and discussing it together, students who can read well could easily use it independently.

Overall, we thought that  The Wonder of Creation: 100 More Devotions About God and Science did not replace our Bible study but provided a fun read and a great supplement.

I highly encourage you to click the graphic below and see what other families thought and how they used the book.

Marvel

Tuesday Tips: Do Not Underestimate the Value of Life Lessons in Your Homeschool

Academics are important, but they are not the most important skills we teach our children.

Some of you are nodding your heads, and others are ready to stop reading and call me crazy. No matter which side you are on, hear me out.

Academics are important, and in our home, we strive to make sure that our children have an education that will allow them to pursue whatever options God might be calling them to, which could include entering a four-year university.

However, academics are only third on my list of overarching goals for our homeschool.

  1. To teach my children about Jesus and help lead them to a saving relationship with Him.
  2. To give my children the skills they need to be independent and productive adults.
  3. To prepare them academically for whatever path God leads them to pursue.
Life Lessons in Your Homeschool

What Do You Mean Life Lessons?

In this context, when I say life lessons, I am speaking about learning life skills. This could include any number of skills. For example, cooking, cleaning, making phone calls, setting up appointments, and laundry.

In our home, it also includes our homestead tasks. My children learn to garden, care for their chickens, raise animals, and more. This teaches them skills needed to help provide for themselves and their families, responsibility, work ethic, and more.

Home and car maintenance and repair also fall under life lessons. Car maintenance might be as simple as teaching them to pump gas. I once had a dear friend who owned a car and made it to college without knowing how to pump her gas, which made things very challenging for her.

Life lessons can also include less tangible skills like visiting those who are grieving or sick and sending cards to people who are lonely or going through a tough time.

There have been times when we have been going through difficult family times, and we rarely opened our textbooks. When my grandfather was dying from cancer, and we spent as much time as possible with him, when our town flooded and we focused on hurricane relief work, and the weeks right after our youngest children were born. However, my children learned life lessons far more valuable than we find in textbooks in those times.

How Do You Teach Life Lessons in Your Homeschool?

Sometimes when I hear people talking about something else I need to teach my children, I start stressing about adding another curriculum or one more thing to our daily to-do list.

However, you do not necessarily have to plan life lessons in your homeschool, you certainly do not need a curriculum, and they will lighten your load over time.

Include your children in your day-to-day activities. Have them help you in the kitchen, fold clothes, start the laundry, gather the eggs, or whatever other chores are required. 

Over time, they will do the tasks more and more independently, which benefits them and your home because you do not have to do it all.

As you help those around you or deal with challenging situations, make sure to include them. This will look different for different children and different ages, but children learn so much through being involved.

Resources For Life Lessons in Your Homeschool

If you want a curriculum to help you be more intentional about life lessons in your homeschool, SchoolhouseTeachers.com (aff) has some great electives for home economics, money management, cooking, homesteading, and other life skills.

Do not underestimate the power of simply living life with your children and including them in daily tasks. They will learn skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

A Cranberry Valentine Homeschool Unit Study

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

If you have been following this blog for very long, you probably already know that Valentine’s at our house means ice cream sundaes! My children start reminding me about this fun family tradition by mid-January.

In addition to ice cream sundaes, we love to read Cranberry Valentine. Cranberry Valentine is another book in one of our favorite series; you might be more familiar with Cranberry Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Valentine Homeschool Unit Study

A Cranberry Valentine Homeschool Unit Study

Cranberry Valentine is a fun story involving Mr. Whiskers, Maggie, Grandmother, and the ladies of Cranberryport. We enjoy it because it is a good reminder about the value of friendship and how we can use valentines to help us show our friends how much we appreciate them.

There is a fun recipe for Cranberry Upside Down Cake at the end of the book. You can make this to celebrate after you read the book, or make it ahead of time and enjoy it while you read the book aloud.

Hands-On Ideas for A Cranberry Valentine

Handmade Valentine cards are a great way to add a hands-on component to this study. Depending on the ages of your children, they can create them all on their own, you could cut out hearts for them, or maybe you could write on them, and they could decorate them with crayons and stickers.

If you want a little more inspiration, you could check out the chalk pastel heart lesson from Nana at You ARE an Artist. It is simple enough for preschoolers and a great start for older children.

These are the perfect cheap and easy gifts for neighbors and friends. It shows them you care and will bring a smile to their faces.

If your children love Mr. Whiskers, you can also check out this Mr. Whiskers art tutorial.

Mr. Whiskers

Science Ideas for A Cranberry Valentine

You can tie science to your Cranberry Valentine study by learning more about this delicious fruit and how it is farmed. There are many resources online, but this blog has some great basic information, and this video is excellent for showing how cranberries are harvested.

If you want to do some science experiments, you can check out this list of 10 fun science experiments with cranberries.

Nature Study for A Cranberry Valentine

We love incorporating nature study into our units. If you have one locally, a cranberry bog would be a fantastic field trip. However, we live too far south for cranberries, so we will study them in our home.

You can grab a bag of fresh cranberries from the store and let your children study them. They can dissect them to see what they look like on the inside. Next, use a magnifying glass or microscope to look at the seeds and different parts of the cranberries.

Then they can draw and write about them in their nature journals. If you need help getting started with nature journaling, I recommend checking out Homeschool Nature Study. They have some great information and printable templates.  

Free Printables for Cranberry Valentine

For children old enough to write and spell, you can add a bit of word practice to your study. I have included a printable pack in the resource library with Cranberry Valentine printables. Your child can make words from the letters in cranberry and valentine.

There are also some fun writing prompts to go along with the book. It always amazes me how much more they enjoy writing about something fun.

Finally, if your children are fond of the If You Give a Mouse series… you can check out this fun Valentine’s Day movie that is free with Amazon Prime.

I hope your family enjoys Cranberry Valentine as much as our family does. We read it every year. I would love for you to share your ideas or experiences in the comments below.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Blessed Assurance Hymn Study

Hymn Study Introduction

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

 Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

 Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

 born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.”

Our family has been doing a Blessed Assurance hymn study this week. This is a beautiful hymn that I have known for many years. It is a lovely classic song found in many hymnals and some contemporary music compilations.

I love the part of the chorus that says, “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.” It is such a reminder that we should be praising him throughout the day. Hymn studies are one way we try to keep our minds on praising the Lord.

Blessed Assurance Hymn Study

Blessed Assurance Background

Franny Crosby wrote Blessed Assurance in 1873 to accompany the tune created by Phoebe Knapp. Sometimes the hymn itself has an exciting story, but in this case, the hymn writer has her own rich story. Crosby is credited with over 8,000 hymns.

She was born with sight but became blind at only six weeks old. She went to a particular school for the blind and later taught at the same school. She was well educated and well known for her hymns and songwriting. She wrote Blessed Assurance almost immediately upon hearing the tune from Knapp.

Activity Ideas for Blessed Assurance Hymn Study

We always like to start our hymn study by listening to various versions of the hymn. It never ceases to be a blessing. We listen intentionally and sing together as we begin our study, but I also will play it at other times during our day as background music. For example, I might play the hymn while cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast. Listening frequently helps to create familiarity with the music.

Music Performance in Hymn Study

If you have musically inclined students, learning to play the hymn on a favorite instrument is a great way to internalize the song. My daughter enjoys learning hymns on her violin, but you could get started with something as simple as a recorder. 

Since many hymns are older and in the public domain, you can often find free or inexpensive sheet music online.

Take a few minutes and discuss the lyrics with your children. Talk about what they mean and how they might apply to their lives. You might talk about how the writer used rhyme to help the song flow if you have young children.

Printables for Blessed Assurance

Finally, you can download our free hymn study worksheet and copywork pages to accompany the hymn. These pages can help incorporate the hymn into your school day. To access your printables, sign-up for our free resource library at the end of this post.

Blessed Assurance Resources

Sheet Music

Contemporary Style Blessed Assurance: Jeremy Riddle

CeCe Winans and Choir (skip to 1:50 for the beginning of the song)

Alan Jackson Blessed Assurance (with guitar accompaniment)

Celtic Style Blessed Assurance

Carrie Underwood Blessed Assurance

Bluegrass Style Blessed Assurance

I hope this study and these resources are a blessing to your family! Be sure to check out all of our other hymn studies once you finish Blessed Assurance. We try to incorporate different ideas with each study, including nature study, art, and literature.

I would love for you to share your favorite version of Blessed Assurance in the comments. Also, let me know what hymns you would like to see next.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Resources and Ideas for Apologia Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day

*Some links are affiliate links; see disclosure below.*

Introduction

For the first time since we started homeschooling, I have three students doing three different science courses. We usually enjoy doing science together, but with a 10th grader doing high school level science, an 8th grader who needed a good general science, and a 2nd grader, we needed to do different courses.

We have always loved Apologia for elementary science. My son chose to do Apologia’s Swimming Creatures of the fifth day because he loves the beach. I knew that I had to keep it simple and make it somewhat independent to be realistic with my available time (we also have a three-year-old who sometimes limits my teaching time). 

Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day Audiobook

My son is a beginning reader but has excellent auditory comprehension. So I looked for resources that would allow him not to be hindered by his reading skills.

First, we purchased the audio version of the text to go along with the hardback version. Audio has been a HUGE benefit for us this year. My son can listen to the chapter while I cook lunch or work with the three-year-old. He follows along in the book and stops to ask me questions as needed.

It has also made it possible for him to do science in the car while we travel or listen to the information again if he doesn’t remember something.

We usually use the notebooking journals when we do these courses, but we decided it would be too much with my son’s reading difficulties. So, I found some other resources that we could use to complement the text.

Other Swimming Creatures Resources

Chalk Pastel Art Lessons

We always love Nana’s chalk pastel art lessons, and she has some excellent, easy-to-follow lessons that fit perfectly with Swimming Creatures.  These are fun for my son and help tie together what he is learning. We are particularly enjoying the seashore and sharks courses, but there are several other courses that have sea life. You can purchase individual courses or the You Are An Artist Clubhouse, which is our favorite because we have access to everything and he can pick and choose different projects each week.

Notebooking Pages

While my son isn’t doing a lot of writing yet, I want to help track what he is learning. I print out one or two notebooking pages per chapter, and he tells me what he knows about that topic. Then I scribe what he tells me onto the pages. We are keeping those in a three-ring binder so that he can look back and see all that he has learned. (There are a huge variety of different pages to choose from for each topic, depending on the child’s level.)

Food

We have to eat, and we love good food. Seafood is a family favorite and a fun way to incorporate a bit of hands-on learning into this study. It doesn’t work with every chapter, but we are trying to source some for any of the lessons that have seafood that we eat. Then we let him look at it and then cook it together. Fish, shrimp, clams, squid are just a few that we will be enjoying during the year. (If you don’t want to cook the seafood, you could go to a local restaurant and try different options.)

Field Trips

We are blessed to live on the east coast with many excellent field trip opportunities. Before we began our school year, we visited the ocean and a little place nicknamed ‘Sand Dollar Island.’ There we were able to find dozens of sand dollars, hermit crabs, and other treasures.

Then a few weeks ago, we went to one of the three semi-local aquariums. In addition to the typical aquarium features, this aquarium has a turtle rehabilitation center. That was the perfect timing to go along with the lesson on aquatic herps.  After seeing the real turtles, my son was able to go through a simulation where he pretended to render vet care to a plastic turtle. If you do not have a beach or aquarium near you, you could go to a local pet store or even a seafood market to get a close-up view of some of the many creatures discussed in this curriculum. In addition, many aquariums and wildlife centers have online resources, virtual field trips, and even live feeds that you can use to get a good view.

Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series

Suzanne Tate’s Nature Series books are a great addition to our studies. We have collected almost all of them over the years (and check for any we don’t have each time we go to a gift shop or store that carries them). They are fun picture books featuring different animals found in the water and around the seashore. You can find out more in my post on Danny and Daisy.

Library Books

Finally, do not underestimate a trip to the library for some picture books to go along with each chapter. I have been going online about a week before we get to a lesson and searching our library system for books about the topic. Then, I simply put them on hold and pick them up the next time we go to the library.

Conclusions

This year’s science may look slightly different for our family, but we thoroughly enjoy working through Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. It has been a perfect fit for my son, and with the modifications, we made he can work through most of it independently.  Then we can enjoy the experiments and read alouds together. This has also allowed my three-year-old to enjoy learning along with him.

We love Apologia for the biblical worldview, thorough coverage of the content, and the flexibility to use this program in a way that works best for our family! Swimming Creatures is a big hit because of how interested we all are in marine life and the ocean.  I would love to hear what other resources you enjoy for this program. Share ideas in the comments!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.