Wednesday, February 15, 2017

HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS! {read aloud time}

Who doesn't love reading aloud as a part of their Language Arts program?  While you could certainly find the research to prove the benefits of reading aloud-- such as increased vocabulary, increased attention span and child to parent bonding the truth is, it's also just plain fun

The shared experience of reading aloud allows parents to help their child grapple with difficult issues in an engaging and meaningful way.  I mean you could lecture someone on peer pressure or you could share a story that demonstrates the consequences of peer pressure and talk it through.  Of course, parents are the best judges of when and what content is appropriate for their child so please filter any book recommendation (here or anywhere) through your own grid of what is right for you. 

One of our most recent read alouds was
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell.  It's a fun story about a group of boys that come up with a bet that puts Billy in the uncomfortable position of having to eat fifteen worms in fifteen days (yuck!).  The worms are supplied by his opponent, whose motto is "The bigger and juicier, the better!" At first Billy's problem is whether or not he can swallow the worm placed before him, but later when it looks as if Billy will win, his opponents try to utilize other tactics to keep Billy from success.  You are in suspense until the end, never knowing if Billy will make it through this gastronomical ordeal!   

Some of the topics the story brought up:  Telling your parents when you are in a tough spot, peer pressure and making bets, fairness, cheating and more.   

And I just couldn't resist feeding the girls "dirt and worms" while we read this one!  Too fun.     

What are some of your favorite read alouds?


Rebecca Jones is a believer on Christ, passionate about God's Word and applying it to life.  She and her High School sweetheart have been married for 25 years and have 5 daughters (yes 5!).  Rebecca has a degree in Marketing, has been home educating for 15 years and writing since 2008.  Her oldest daughter is presently attending a Christian college while the other 4 daughters continue to school at home. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


I love using tangibles when teaching, so when I came across this persuasive writing assignment using Oreos, I knew it was one I wanted to do with the kids and share it with you!

This is not an original idea, so you will find a lot of free helps with this lesson simply by searching "oreo persuasive writing" but here's what I did.  

First, I started by explaining why we use persuasive writing to my kiddos and sharing how OREO can help us clearly structure an opinion essay.  I just typed up the following for myself in Publisher to be ready to explain the idea. 

I also made a super quick poster board for a visual to have on our school table.  Remember that as a homeschool mom tri fold poster boards are your friends!  I am a huge investor in poster boards (Walmart, white foam $7). 

Visuals (maps, timelines, new lessons) are incredibly helpful tools, but at the end of the day or the week I don't want to live in a classroom, so poster boards are my thing.  I can set up my classroom visuals in minutes and then tuck them away when I don't need them.  I even take lessons off of the poster boards and reuse them.  They are my temporary walls and truly keep me sane.  A small price to pay!

Ok, so back to the lesson.  The idea is this: 

OREO-  The two O's stand for your opinion stated at the beginning and end sandwiching the R's and E's (Reason and Example "stuff" inside).  

I found this premade Opinion writing form that I thought was great and I just copied it into a document and printed a copy for each kid. 

What I love about this fill in form is that the kids can use this to lay out their opinion and supporting arguments with very little work and then when they bring it to me it is all right there so we can discuss if their thoughts need a little adjusting before they write out their essay.  I was looking for clear statements at the beginning of each paragraph (their R- Reason) and then that their  supporting sentences (their E- Examples) really tied to the idea they had stated (provided the "stuff"). 

Below is a super sloppy working outline to show how we used the fill in form. We wrote down ideas, crossed some out, moved others to places where they better supported their subject sentence and so on before they wrote their essays.   

It really tightened up their writing and made them far more articulate than if I had just assigned them the task of writing an essay without this step.   


Let's face it, writing is practically impossible if you don't know what to write about and I didn't want to see the kids staring out into space for 20 minutes, so I decided to have the kids pick a famous American that we already read about for their subject and explain why they felt they had played an important role in history.  They could go back and look at their books to grab some of their reasons.  Easy peasy.   

Just as a side note, I love these "Who Was" books.  They are a great length and provide just enough information about a person of interest to be engaging for all ages.  This year we have read a stack of these and have more in the wings that we are going to tackle.  They are pretty fast so they make a great once a week read aloud during the morning.  We usually tackle a Famous American each Monday.  Older kids who have had their appetites whetted can grab more books on this person during our weekly library trip.    

I loved that this lesson can be easily adjusted for any age.  While High schoolers will write longer and meatier essays, the format is the same for everyone. 

Once the outlines were done, the kids wrote out their essays.  You can always make this a multiple day lesson and have students type out their essays (a great skill for anyone above 3rd grade) but I was happy with the handwritten content for now.  

Elementary (5th Grade) sample with corrections.  The paper is still not perfect but has met my objectives for our lesson.   

Overall the kids had fun eating Oreos and working with these tools.  And I was happy with the outcome.

Hope you enjoy!


Rebecca Jones is a believer on Christ, passionate about God's Word and applying it to life.  She and her High School sweetheart have been married for 25 years and have 5 daughters (yes 5!).  Rebecca has a degree in Marketing, has been home educating for 15 years and writing since 2008.  Her oldest daughter is presently attending a Christian college while the other 4 daughters continue to school at home. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

CHOOSING JOY {and kicking worry to the curb}

Joy is the serious business of heaven.
  ~ C. S. Lewis  

Joy may be the serious business of heaven, but it's also the serious business of kids. 
Children have this amazing tunnel vision, like blinders on a horse, that block so much of what could be heavy from their sight. 
This December Tom's business brought us down south to Los Angeles and Santa Monica the week before Christmas (crazy timing!).  And I have to say that what made our time so enjoyable was watching our children experience joy.   
While they were excitedly putting their hands in the handprints of Bing Crosby in front of Grumman's Chinese Theater, I was of course panicking on the inside about germs and kidnappers.  And while they were being tussled and splashed by waves at the beach, I was counting heads, fretting about drowning and sharks (don't worry, it was a dolphin!).  Ya, I'm a real blast at parties too.  
As moms some worry is just going to be carried on our shoulders so our kids can be kids- and that's a good thing, but studies have shown that most of our worries are simply baseless. 
The truth is, where people wrote down their worries over a two week period, not only did the things people worry about not happen, but 85% of the time what actually happened was positive instead!
In other words, we worry most about things that won't ever be a problem.  And that can be a problem.  Worry is a joy stealer.  It's time to pay attention to when we worry and if it's not productive stuff, kick it to the curb!   
We worry about the news, the elections, what will happen now that the elections are over, what people think of us and so on only to arrive later to find that none of the terrible things we fretted about happened at all but we had wasted moments that could have been joyful. 
God says worry won't change a thing- at least it won't change things for the good (Psalm 37:1-11).

But joy.  Joy is an amazing force.  Joy comes from focusing on what God has done and is doing.  It's being grateful for the specific things God has sovereignly placed in our journey (writing them down is a great idea!).  Joy comes from keeping our eyes on Christ and trusting Him for the future.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.  -John 15:11
That doesn't mean we will always feel joyful- it can be a real job to analyze and refocus our thoughts!  But making joy the business of our homes will help us to experience little slivers of heaven here on earth.  Cultivating joy is like taping the fountain of youth.  I can only imagine how it makes our Heavenly Father feel to see us resting in His care and doing cartwheels in our hearts over the blessings He has given us.      
In our home we have tried different things to encourage our hearts toward joy.  One thing we did last winter was create a big "Gratitude Attitude" poster board where we each wrote down one thing a day we were grateful for.  People remember what they do (write, say etc.) so this was a good way to choose joy and kick worry to the curb for us.  I think I'm ready to do this again!  What are some ways you choose joy in your home? 
It's the simple stuff that we sometimes forget: "...warm air in our home, Lydia's help finding puppy, humor, a mom and dad that love us, sunshine, our church, sleep..."
I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.  -Psalm 77:12 

Rebecca Jones is a believer on Christ, passionate about God's Word and applying it to life.  She and her High School sweetheart have been married for 25 years and have 5 daughters (yes 5!).  Rebecca has a degree in Marketing, has been home educating for 15 years and writing since 2008.  Her oldest daughter is presently attending a Christian college while the other 4 daughters continue to school at home. 



Tuesday, January 3, 2017


While searching for our snow clothes last week, I bumped into our old house plans.  We’ve lived in the home my husband built for 10 years now, but until we got here these plans were the only indication that this flat land surrounded by eucalyptus trees was going to sprout a house someday.  

I remember those plans being rolled and unrolled over and over as my husband would talk to my uncles about the home he was going to build for us.  Having built homes before my uncles had a much better vision of the future house than I did.  They talked through the details and I poured the coffee but the plans always just looked like blue lines and an almost impossible amount of work to me. 

And it was a crazy amount of work.  Even while we were framing or installing insulation into what would someday be walls, the house didn’t take shape for me.  It still seemed like just a small box and I had no real sense of the size or wall height. 

But we had a kind of faith we worked by.  We believed two things.  First, we believed we were called to this place.  We had prayed and felt God lead us to this land.  That really helped us to keep going when the road got hard.  And secondly, we believed that that if we stuck to the plan, regardless of how painful, in the end we would move into our new home.  Which I guess was really a faith in the architect since we had never built a house before.   

For me, 2016 was a tough year.  There were stresses and discouragements that I really didn’t want to go through and as the new year approached I had a secret hope that trials know to follow calendar years and will now vamoose!  But through the difficulty, God keeps reminding me of this verse:       

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Can’t you almost imagine God rolling and unrolling His blueprint for your future when He says this?  He is the Master Architect.  And even though we’ve never done this life thing before, He has.  He knows the plans He has for us and they are good!  His plans are to prosper you and to give you a future and a hope. 

So how do we walk by faith in the hard times?  First, if we’ve prayed and allowed God to lead us to where we are, we have to hang on to that truth.  It will get us through the rough spots.  So many times when we hit a hard patch in our marriages, finances, relationships and so on we think that if things are hard, we must be on the wrong road!  But that just isn’t biblical (check out how Paul felt in 2 Cor. 7:5-6!)  If you don’t think you have prayed and been led to where you are, pray now and ask for wisdom.  God loves that and He will lead you.         

And secondly, we hang onto faith in the Architect.  He has a plan.  As we live in His Word and trust Him through the difficulties that come to all of us, we endure.  And while “just endure it” isn’t going to be the top slogan for Nike or companies that value self-achievement anytime soon, enduring has its place in the lives of God’s people.  It’s the grit of real that holds still and doesn’t lose ground.   Jesus despised the shame of the cross but He endured it (Hebrews 12:2).     

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  James 1:12

God has a plan for whatever is happening today.  Regardless of how it feels, the Master Architect is right there doing a good work in you! 


Rebecca Jones is a believer on Christ, passionate about God's Word and applying it to life.  She and her High School sweetheart have been married for 25 years and have 5 daughters (yes 5!).  Rebecca has a degree in Marketing, has been home educating for 15 years and writing since 2008.  Her oldest daughter is presently attending a Christian college while the other 4 daughters continue to school at home. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

SMASH IT {genesis}

Even in judgement God gives his people mercy and hope.

As teachers we are always thinking about the best way to reach our kids.  As Christian moms we are especially concerned with how to impact our kids with the Word of God.  

At the start of the new school year I thought I would try to use the various learning styles together and have my kids SMASH their way through the book of Genesis.    

It's been years since I've taught Genesis, but it is such an important book that I knew I wanted to go through it again-  in a way that would stick. 

So this is what we are doing.  First, I read a chapter of Genesis each day and then the girls "smashbook" it.  If you are unfamiliar, smashbooking is very similar to scrapbooking but it's kind of the casual cousin.  Rather than taking a lot of planning to work through a theme and obsess over the perfect layout, smashbooking encourages the smasher to do something different on every page.  You can add random do dads and celebrate messy as you document what moves you.  Kids love that. 

My mom (a retired teacher) always said that teaching was about staying one chapter ahead of the kids and really anyone can do that, right?  What a freeing thought.  

I just give myself a little bit of time each day to prep for the next day by reading the chapter, creating a sample page in my book and printing out some clip art for the girls to use.  I have a bucket of supplies including scissors, scrapbook squares (adhesive squares that allow you to place a picture, then lift and move it without damaging the page), markers, scrapbook pens, colored pencils, stickers and do on.  I try to encourage the girls to get the content down that we discuss but be as creative and colorful in its presentation as they like.  And their pages always turn out better than mine.   

By slowing down the process, we are all getting a ton out of each lesson and it really seems to stick with us through the day. 

I am keeping the clip art files to post here for you as we accomplish various sections.  I hope you will join us in smashing Genesis this year or just go for it with another book!  It's really so fun! 

Praying for your school year!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

BACK TO SCHOOL {re-post}


Hello friends!  This post is one is from the archives.  It was originally posted in 2012 (has it been four years already?), but I love a good homeschool post, so I thought I'd mix it up with a few oldies and a few new posts to get those homeschool juices flowing!   

Love sharing the journey with you!

_ _ _ _ _

August 28, 2012

There's no doubt about it.  If you're a mom and you homeschool, you are one of the busiest people around!

I've been asked to share what has changed over the years in our homeschooling as well as how we juggle school with our wide age range while keeping our sanity.  Well, I've heard that sanity is a relative term (ha!), but here's what we are up to at this stage of the game!  The fact that we no longer have tiny toddlers certainly makes a difference!  Which brings me to what is most important:

There is no such thing as "one size fits all" when it comes to homeschooling.  Or families.  Or what it looks like to follow Jesus.  So whenever you read anything here take what works, leave what doesn't and enjoy the peace of Christ.  He is our biggest help.  

Over the years I have had a mind shift in this area.  At one time I would have wanted separate books for every subject at every grade level- History, Social Studies etc. and then I'd just pull my hair out to trying to figure out how to squeeze it all in.  Now I have a different approach.  I try to include as many people in as many subjects as I can.  While we have separate Math and Language Arts we find that we can exercise together, study the Bible and worldview together, memorize Scripture together, study History, Geography and Science together and so on.  It not only builds family unity but keeps school time truly simple and enjoyable. 


In the past I've spent a lot of time creating homemade unit studies, figuring out lesson plans and doing research online.  That can be fun if you don't need sleep... This year I am using pre-made materials and just tweaking them rather than creating them from scratch.  I finally bought the My Father's World package and I love it!    

English from the Roots Up

I am not sure why I sometimes try to give my kids a drink of water from a fire hose.  It's not really the best way to teach.  Charlotte Mason recommended taking school subjects in small doses and I think she is dead on.  Keeping lessons short and sweet works much better for us.  Reading 1-2 pages of Anatomy and having the kids label a part or two works.  You can come back to it the next day!    

History board

Here's another one of those keeping our sanity topics for me.  I love homeschooling but I just don't want to live in a classroom.  Well, I can't believe how long it took me to figure this out, but why not just make movable walls using tri-fold presentation boards?  I use a different one for just about everything- calendar, phonograms, history (with a world map on the back) and so on.  It's a portable classroom.  Easy. 

As we introduce new phonograms, they are added to this board for a visual.

Now playing at the /er/ theater, Zuma and the Secret of Peru

This board serves as our timeline.  I draw a simple illustration for each 
Mystery of History lesson that the girls color. 

Well, that's what is working for us!  Hope it blesses you.

By His Grace.

BRIBE YOUR KIDS {it's ok, really!}

Managers develop strategies all the time to encourage employees to do their best.  Books are written on long term incentive plans; committees are formed to run them and budgets are made to fund them.  Why? 

Because companies with incentive plans tend to demonstrate higher productivity, profits and customer loyalty.  

And it doesn't always need to be a "big thing" to make someone feel valued.  I once heard of a manager who had created a extraordinary atmosphere. One day while this manager was talking with an employee, the employee shared a great idea with him.  This manager was so excited that he looked around and then grabbed the closest thing he could find to give him- a banana from his desk.  It was a funny gesture and word of it probably circulated the water cooler, but the result was that the employee felt knew he was appreciated and he probably didn't hesitate to contribute the next time. 

As moms, we are managers too and we can use positive rewards to help our kiddos to develop good patterns in much the same way.  

What do I do?  I simply stock inexpensive tickets from the Dollar Tree (pictured above and found in the birthday/ prize area).  Then each day if people have been working hard and doing what I need for school, they earn a ticket.  

If they go above and beyond, I give them two.  

Then when they earn three tickets, they pick a prize from the basket. 

It's not a huge thing, it's a banana, but lets them know I see what they are doing and I appreciate it. 

 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind...” Luke 6:35  and "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.Mark 9:41 

 Hey, I guess God uses incentives too! 


Rebecca Jones is a believer on Christ, passionate about God's Word and applying it to life.  She and her High School sweetheart have been married for 25 years and have 5 daughters (yes 5!).  Rebecca has a degree in Marketing, has been home educating for 15 years and writing since 2008.  Her oldest daughter is presently attending a Christian college while the other 4 daughters continue to school at home. 

Just a P.S.  I don't bribe kids for things they have little control over, like natural talents and abilities, but I do encourage good character and positive attitudes.  I've always loved SM Davis' teaching on this topic:   How to Develop Character in your Children.