Easy Art for St. Patrick’s Day

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While I haven’t mentioned it here, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to talk about the Trinity!  Take a minute to read our St. Patrick’s Day post from last year about Teaching the Trinity and then come back here for a few easy art ideas!  Last year’s post includes some fun activities, a printable, and a simple song for remembering the Trinity!  :)

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Click here to visit

We took an afternoon this week to get out the paints and pastels…

I got the idea for cork shamrocks from a post at Happy Hooligans.  Aren’t’ these flowers cute?  ;)

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I thought the corks used for the flowers would make great shamrocks!

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Did you know I was art major in college?  (Ok, it was only for 1 semester!)  I have wanted to find ways to incorporate art instruction into our homeschool, but I’ve had a hard time figuring that out!  I purchased A Seasonal Start in Spring Chalk Pastels from Hodgepodge.  It was such an easy solution!  My kids thought their pieces were MASTERpieces!   I think that is what I liked most about this activity… we followed the instructions and got great results!  Pastels are such an easy medium and this gave my kids the confidence and desire to do it again!  The ebook has lots of spring pastel tutorials to choose from!

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And another thing I liked about this activity… I have a festive St. Patrick’s Day display in my kitchen!  :)

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Don’t forget to teach your little ones about the Trinity on St. Patrick’s Day and get out those art supplies and HAVE FUN! :)

The Hidden Treasures of Tapestry of Grace

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Well, moms, it happened to us… we reached a dry place in homeschool.  Has that ever happened to you?  You slowly begin to realize that the sweet moments of enjoying learning together are becoming few and far between.  That family on the couch reading together– that wasn’t us.  Those kids working on projects together–  just in my head.  Those children excited about learning– not my kids.  School was becoming stale and something we just checked off each day.  “Did you do your handwriting?”  Check.  “Is your math paper done?”  Check.  “Let’s read this history lesson.”  Check.  “How many lessons do we have left?”  Check.

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Of course, I love our checklists.  I love getting things done.  But when it came to school, I was “checking” so much, that we weren’t savoring anything, just trying to finish.  Because, you know, homeschooling is hard.  Juggling four little people and life and lunch and laundry and errands and school, and finding great books to read, and thinking of fun projects, and including all the kids in the learning together, and making it enjoyable, and making it relevant, and showing them Jesus–  it isn’t easy.  (Cold winters don’t help, either!)  Some days, it seems the only way to make it all work is to just check it off.  Make it simple.  Get it done.  But there’s something missing in that.

I want to enjoy the journey.

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So, mid-year, I decided to try Tapestry of Grace.  Wow.  Wow.  Wow.  I am so thankful.

My job of making learning enjoyable and exciting just got easier.  Check!  My job of finding great books and fun projects– check!  My job of including everyone in the family– check!  My job of spreading an amazing feast before my children and really engaging them– easy!  My job of showing my children the hand of our awesome Lord in everything– done!   Tapestry of Grace makes all of those things that were so hard for me easy.

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Changing our history curriculum mid-year sounded scary to me.  And, let me tell you friends, I am PICKY about history.  My husband and I spread about five different programs out in our living room floor at the end of last summer.  We were making checklists, and charts, comparing pros and cons, trying to decide how to teach our children history this school year.  It turns out, even after all of the work, what we picked just wasn’t working for our family.  Then, I stumbled upon TOG.   I found that I could start off in Tapestry right where we were in our study of history by purchasing just one unit, just to give it a try.  I am SO GLAD THAT I DID!

The following information is from a review at Curriculum Choice:

“Tapestry of Grace is a classical approach, Biblically-based, unit study curriculum for the whole family. Tapestry covers eight subjects. Everyone learning together – each child on their own learning and skill level. Here are the subjects Tapestry covers:

  • History
  • Writing
  • Literature
  • Geography
  • Fine Arts
  • Church History
  • Philosophy
  • Government

So you need to add: Math, Grammar and Science”  and Bible study :)

If you’d like to find more about Tapestry of Grace, their website has great videos and helpful pages that you can explore.  You can even download sample week plans to read through and try with your family.  You will realize Tapestry includes some great things…

  • weekly goals and ‘threads’ for the student and teacher (I need this!  With so much you could learn, it’s so nice to have a focus!)
  • books, assignments, and art activities for all ages– elementary through high school
  • weekly teacher notes– so that Mom doesn’t have to read everything the children read but still knows what ‘s going on! :)
  • weekly vocabulary and people to know for elementary students
  • writing assignments
  • weekly geography places to know along with maps
  • government and philosophy for older students

I’ve heard Tapestry of Grace compared to a buffet.  A buffet is filled with wonderful things, but you can’t and shouldn’t eat everything!  With Tapestry, each family chooses the activities that interest them.  You can’t and shouldn’t try doing them all!

I found this review from Curriculum Choice very helpful.  You might like to read this review from Cathy Duffy.

The Hidden Treasures of Tapestry of Grace

Are you a mom considering TOG?  Have you somehow stumbled upon this post in your search for TOG information?

What I’d like to tell you about are the hidden treasures of Tapestry of Grace, the wonderful jewels that you might not see when you read reviews or might miss when you visit the website.  These are things that you don’t even realize are there until you use Tapestry of Grace with your family.

1.  Literature, Writing, and More!

This may seem simple or silly, but remember, I am still a new homeschooler.  We are nearing the end of our second year.  When I see “unit study” approach, I think “Ok, this company has added in some books about history, and that’s our literature. They ask students to write a paragraph about Greek pottery, and that ‘counts’ as writing.  We look at a map.  That’s geography.”

That is not the case with Tapestry.  For literature, my children are picking out story elements in their fiction books.  They are comparing story characters with Biblical characters.  They are finding the climax of stories from the Bible.  They are learning literature, the characteristics and features that make up a story.

My children will try several different styles of writing this year and are now working together to write a play.  If you choose to purchase “Writing Aids” TOG includes writing instruction and helps Moms teach writing.  (Tapestry of Grace works really well with notebooking, too!)

As geography study, my children are finding cities and mountains on maps and learning how the land has influenced history.  Mountains can stop empires from expanding. Land features affect war tactics. Soil and resources influence architecture and art.  As Tapestry’s author, Marcia Somerville said (something like) if history is God’s story, HIS story, then geography and the land are the stage on which the story takes place.

2.  Independence

TOG fosters independence.  While we are all learning about the same things and talking about the same things and even doing some projects together, my children are learning a lot independently.  Isn’t that one of our core goals in raising future adults?  This is not a mom-reads-everything unit study.  My 3rd graders are assigned independent reading, and they do it.  And they enjoy it!  :)  Of course, I am reading aloud some and reading to the littles, but most of the children’s learning is done on their own.

When I put out books for the week, I usually find the children reading more than I’ve assigned.  They want to dig in all own their own!  Then they want to come tell me about the neat things they’ve discovered about history!

Marcia Somerville, Tapestry’s author, even suggests letting children fill out their own checklists for the week with Mom’s guidance.  We haven’t gotten there yet, but doesn’t that sound great?!

3.  Deep Thinking / Biblical World View

I think this closely relates to independence.  I want my children to be THINKERS!  Have you ever tried to picture your young children as teenagers?  I have.  I picture these polite, well-spoken, intelligent young adults who are able to communicate well with others and defend their faith.  They are able to think about issues and form opinions and make connections based upon God’s Word–  BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO GET FROM HERE TO THERE!  :)  Tapestry of Grace is the map.  Tapestry includes questions all written out for Mom to lead a discussion.  There are accountability for questions for the kids.  There are questions that make the kids think, questions that I don’t have to come up with on my own.  ;)  Of course, the Lord gives us parents opportunities daily for these types of discussions.  Issues arise or questions are asked that lead to great conversations, but I like making them a part of our history study.  I am shaping minds, and that doesn’t happen too well when I’m in “check things off” mode.

4.  Confidence

Do you ever wonder if you’re doing a good job?  Do you wonder if your kids are learning enough?  Tapestry of Grace gives me confidence as a teacher.  Just read numbers 1-3 above!  Knowing I am really teaching more than history alone, fostering independence, and helping my children become thinking adults– that gives me confidence.  That makes this whole homeschooling thing a really wonderful experience for me.

5.  Support

You certainly wouldn’t realize the importance of this one unless you use TOG!  The Lampstand Press/ Tapestry of Grace website has an amazing help center.  You are able to get any questions you have answered thoroughly and quickly!  In the short time we’ve used Tapestry, I’ve had to “open a support ticket” about four times.  I’ve had questions about how to download something, questions about lesson plans, questions about why I couldn’t view files.  Each time I needed help, I got answers very quickly!

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So, are there things we just check off the list at my house?  You bet!  I am not all that concerned about grammar being interesting or fun.  We just do it.  Math?  It doesn’t have to be all that engaging.   Are there times at my house when homeschool doesn’t look like that pleasant family in my head?  Sure.  Tapestry of Grace, however, has made so many things enjoyable things.  History and the story of God’s hand throughout time should make my kids excited!  It should be something we are all eager to discover together!   It should be something we dig in and spend time in and get our hands dirty in!  Tapestry of Grace has done that for us.

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I know that Tapestry of Grace may not be a good fit for every family, especially if many of your children are very young.   And I hope yours is a homeschooling family that is already enjoying the journey of learning with something that works well for you!  However, if you are still searching for a way to make homeschooling the delightful, satisfying experience we all want it to be, you should check out Tapestry of Grace.  I am very thankful that I did!

A Fun “Kick Off” for Lent {and more Easter activities}

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Here’s a great visual we are using as a Lenten “kick off”….

I put vase of white flowers on the breakfast table for a few days to spark some curiosity!  My children didn’t know the water in the vase had been tinted with red food coloring.

“I bought these beautiful white flowers for our table to celebrate Lent!  Lent begins this week!  Aren’t they pretty?  These white flowers really remind me of Jesus.  Why do you think I would say that?  Why does white remind me of Jesus?”

It didn’t take long for the children to notice a change!

“MOM!  Mom, look at this!  This petal is turning red!”

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Watching the white flowers turn red has given us the opportunity to talk about what Jesus did at the cross when He took our sin upon Himself… the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!   You could do this activity any time during Lent or as a visual on Good Friday.

Here are activities we did last year to count down to Easter:

Click to visit each post.

Family Lenten Devotions and Easter Tree Ornaments

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Empty Tomb Cookies

Each step in making these cookies tells a different part of the Easter story.  They stay in the oven overnight, and there is a surprise the next morning!

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Christian Easter Hunt

There are no eggs in this Easter hunt!  Kids find objects that tell about Jesus’ last days on Earth.  It was fun to find olives, old shoes, marshmallows, soap, and more!  If you don’t want to do the hunt, just get the objects and use them for retelling the Easter story.  Then, let your kids put them in order!

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Wordless Book with a Song for Sharing the Good News

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John 13 Activity

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Click image to visit post.

I hope you enjoy counting down the days to Easter with your little ones!

Simple Seuss Celebration

i have no greater joy:

If you missed Dr. Seuss’ birthday yesterday, take a morning this week to be a fun mom and make green eggs and ham for breakfast to celebrate! All you need is blue food coloring! Or, trace Dad with sidewalk chalk on the driveway and “Hop on Pop”! :)

Originally posted on i have no greater joy:

Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904.  That means his birthday is tomorrow!  This “holiday” was a big deal when I taught First Grade!  However, we kept things simple here.  We decided to celebrate with an easy breakfast of Green Eggs and Ham!

happy bday dr seuss

(We had to celebrate early because Saturdays in our house are reserved for donuts… at least in the winter when Daddy is not in the field and can go to town to get them!)

The kids mixed BLUE food coloring with YELLOW eggs (and also ham) to make GREEN EGGS AND HAM!  

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. SEUSS!

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View original

Our Top Ten Picks for Kids’ Bible Resources

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I thought it would be fun to share our top picks for kids’ Bible resources, and I thought it would  be really fun to hear about yours!   I asked each of our kids their favorites, and I’ve thrown Mom’s and Dad’s in, too!

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In no particular order…

1.  Read Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall

These books were top picks from Mom, Dad, and Mary Sorrels (5).  They have been well-loved at our house for years.  The pictures are bold and bright and big!   The text is short and simple for even the youngest listeners.  We’ve read them so many times, I probably have them memorized!

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2.  Leven’s (9) favorite:  Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Timelines  

Leven loves details, comparing and contrasting, charts, and lists.  He spends a lot of time studying the information and pictures in this book!

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3.  Catherine’s (8) top pick:  The Children’s Illustrated Bible 

I remember getting this Bible when the big kids were little.  They spent hours (I’m not kidding!)  looking at the pictures.  I think it must have been the first children’s Bible we purchased with realistic illustrations.  It is still getting looked at for hours. ;)

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4.  Jack’s (5) favorite Bible:   The Jubilee Illustrated Family Bible

I think this book is Jack’s favorite because of the illustrations.  This is the book in which he saw a picture depicting the tragic story of John the Baptist’s death and saw his head on a plate.  He was shocked to actually see it.   He spends a lot of time looking at this book!

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5.  Mom’s favorite story Bible:   The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Voss

This book has almost no illustrations.  The stories are perfect for reading aloud.  There is so much detail that my kids make “mind movies” while I read.  “Just as soon as he came to the bottom of the mountain, he took the golden calf and broke it in pieces.  Even that was not enough.  He put the pieces in a mill and ground them into a fine powder.  He threw the powder into some water, and made the people drink it.”  I think that’s a pretty good mind movie, don’t you?

6.   We all love Buck Denver Asks… What’s In the Bible? .

No joke.  All of us.  Adults included.  My kids have learned SO MUCH from these videos (and I actually wish I could the take credit for teaching them!).  ;)  There were a few things in some of the videos that were a little too silly or a bit irreverent, but we talked about them and continue to watch and learn!

7.  ICB Version

Thanks to a GREAT suggestion from our friends at wingedwisdom our 3rd graders have Bibles that they can easily read and understand!  We purchased International Children’s Bibles for our big kids.  These Bibles are written on an elementary reading level and do not have pictures or stories.  They really are a translation for children.   And that’s just what we need because we’ve accepted our pastor’s challenge to read through the Bible in a year with our church!

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8.  What the Bible is All About Bible Handbook for Kids

This book has a chapter by chapter break down of each book of the Bible!  It has been great for the older kids (and me, too!)  There are also  “Connecting _______ (any book of the Bible) With Jesus” sections and time lines for each book, as well.

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9.  The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor

Well, you can just look at our copy and tell that we’ve used it a lot!  :)

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10.    Our last favorite Bible resource for kids is an electronic Bible.  :)

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This link isn’t the exact the one we have, but we gave our oldest a similar one for his birthday a couple of years ago.  He loves looking for verses with certain words, seeing how many times certain words appear, and really just playing around.   I guess this is a kid’s version of my smart phone app!  ;)

You may also remember that we enjoy Journey Through the Bible and Glo!  You can read a little about those here.

 Moms, what are your families’ favorites?   I’d love to check them out!

Come, O children, listen to me;

I will teach you the fear of the LORD!

Psalm 34:11