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What We've Been Up To Lately: Life Skills & Culture

I think the high school years might just be my favorite of all the homeschooling years.

The lightbulbs that constantly went off when my children were little were certainly gratifying - and often times extremely cute - but watching my kids learn and achieve BIG things is exciting. Additionally, being able to learn WITH them and cultivate interests together is super fun.

The key to this age is understanding how to reach their hearts.

(Let’s just not talk about the fact that my oldest will be going to college in the fall, ok?)

This week found us in the kitchen a lot (a good thing), and also filling our time with CULTURE.

Did I mention how much I like this stage of life with my kids?

What We’ve Been Up To Lately: Life Skills & Culture

Life Skills in Our Homeschool

Laundry

We can all agree that laundry is not glamorous or exciting - or cultural for that matter. It does, however, have to get done, and I’m NOT doing it for my kids anymore.

My oldest has been doing her laundry since middle school, and with the turn of the calendar year I decided to have my son take charge of his laundry, too. So far, so good.

I love that both of my children will leave this house knowing how to do their laundry.

And, my daughter has a great laundry hack: she uses an Expo marker to write on top of the washer what DOESN’T go into the dryer. Clever, huh? No more dress shrinking up to a shirt because it was put in the dryer accidentally!

Cooking

Because Anna’s schedule is lighter this LAST semester of high school we are using the time to hone in on some skills for LIFE.

She has been making a lot of meals for us - healthy meals in particular.

This week our favorite was One Pan Healthy Sausage and Roasted Veggies.

We served it with some quinoa & wild rice. Perfection.

Each week she also picks one recipe from a new cookbook I got for Christmas.

Chicken Fajita Pasta was a hit in our house - and I can’t wait to have her try more!

Part of me wants to have her stop cooking (because what will I do when she goes to college?!?!), but she enjoys this so much and it is such a practical, useful skill for her to have. In an age of fast food and anything EASY I feel like our kids aren’t learning the basics of how to cook a healthy meal.


Culture

Music

Because I write a music appreciation curriculum I try to go to as many performances as I can. This year my husband and I subscribed to a series of concerts with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Saturday night we heard an all Bernstein program, which was quite fitting because in SQUILT LIVE! this month I am teaching the students all about musicals.

Something I didn’t quite realize was what a great JAZZ composer Bernstein was. Listening to his Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs got me VERY excited for February in SQUILT LIVE! - Jump into Jazz! (You can join me at any time for live lessons - we have so much fun!)

We also enjoyed dinner out together - Lebanese food (yum!) - before the symphony.

When you have big kids it’s easy to go out for date night. Bonus.

Date Night at the Symphony

Books

I started reading The Lake House by Kate Morton this week. I love everything she writes.

Being in a local in-person book club has been a lot of fun for me. Last week three of us from the book club met to talk about our book goals for the year. I know that I want to read more non fiction this year, and in particular I would like to focus on more religious and education non fiction. (Did you see the most recent post I wrote about C.S. Lewis?)

I put the question to our private Facebook group, Equipping Homegrown Learners, about starting a book club on the page - with the first book being Beauty in the Word by Stratford Caldecott.

Come join our FB group, by the way - I think we have great discussions and encouragement.

I also really enjoyed the latest episode of What Should I Read Next? - and seriously wish I had a little one so we could do a 1,000 books challenge like the mom in this podcast!

Latin

My 14-year-old is odd.

He loves Latin.

I think it is the challenge of solving a big puzzle as you parse a sentence that intrigues him the most. As he is working through Henle Latin in Challenge B this year I am starting to think about adding a second language in high school next year.

The National Latin Exam is taken in March of each year and I coordinate the testing for our Challenge community. This morning I spoke to their class about the test and what we will do to prepare, and then I stayed for the hour of Latin they had afterwards.

They were talking about the quality and quantity of adjectives and the endings that go with them. It was at this point in my daughter’s Latin studies that I remember jumping ship; I think I might try to make it a bit further this year.

What We’ve Been Up To Lately: Latin

I love the discipline and precision the study of Latin brings to our homeschool. I love watching a room full of eighth graders seriously discuss how to approach translating a sentence from English into Latin.

It isn’t hard to learn Latin - it just requires commitment and patience.

That’s what we have been up to.

I’d love to know what YOU have been up to in your homeschool lately.

Leave a comment below!

Favorite Fall Activities For Kids

Fall triggers a sense of wonder in all of us.

As the leaves turn and then scatter in our yard, there is the enthusiasm and joy that comes from building a big leaf pile and diving headlong into it for loads of giggles. As I pull out the basket of seasonal books, there is excitement and wonder as we read our favorites each year. And, as we make our favorite fall recipes, they want to be there with me in the kitchen.

This is a season to make memories with our children.

 Let them be little!

Favorite Fall Activities For Kids



These favorite fall activities have stood the test of time in our home. I've included activities for children ranging in age from toddler to teenager!  (Keep in mind - I like to keep things SIMPLE, so these are all low prep, low cost, but high memory makers!)



Favorite Fall Books 

We read aloud each and every day in our home. When the children were young,I keep a basket of seasonal books on our fireplace. When I would unpack them each year it is as if an old friend has come to visit. 

It's Pumpkin Time - a very sweet book about how a pumpkin grows; includes good science information at the end. Use these pumpkin life cycle printables to reinforce learning. 

The Pumpkin Patch Parable - We used to read this one before carving our pumpkins when my kids were little - a very sweet book. 

The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything - We've been reading this one for years!  This is a silly story, and also a great example of a cumulative story. Add instruments with the reading of this book and your children will remember it for years to come! 

The Witch Next Door - This book was read to ME as a little girl. Normal Bridwell has given us a classic! 

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving - This story points us to the miracle God gave the Pilgrims and His providence in putting Squanto in their path.  Eric Metaxas has written a beautiful book which is a great read aloud for young and old alike. 

The Children's Book of Thanksgiving Stories - FREE from Project Gutenberg - perfect for older children



Favorite Fall Activities for Kids

Favorite Fall Hands On Activities

My children remember learning better if they have DONE something. Fall provides the perfect time to DO a lot... warning: some of this involves CANDY, so be forewarned!  

Autumn Candy Mix Math - We do this activity each year! Lots of learning and sugar involved!

Create a Thankful Tree - This is so simple!

Autumn Scavenger Hunt - You can make up your own, or here is a printable toddler scavenger hunt, and for older children - an autumn leaf scavenger hunt!

Fall LEGOS - How about incorporating LEGO bricks into the fun?  Download these free LEGO Minifig Fall Writing Prompts and have your LEGO lovers hone their writing skills this fall!  

Washi Tape Pumpkins - My 13 year old has been decorating lots of these! We buy the plastic pumpkins at Target so we will be able to keep them for years to come. 

Leaf Fights/Piles - Do I really even need to include this in a list? Yes, I do. You see, I realized a few years ago that I was forgetting to just have FUN with my kids, until one day my son attacked me with a handful of leaves and I realized the fun I was missing!!

Favorite Fall Activities for Kids

Favorite Fall Recipes

Apples, candy corn, meals in the slow cooker - these are all treats we enjoy in the fall. I hope you enjoy some of our favorites! 

{I catalog all of our recipes in Plan to Eat - an online recipe, grocery list making, and generally awesome site!}

Crock pot Applesauce - This tastes EXACTLY like Apple Pie, just without the crust - which is great for my Gluten Free daughter!

Easy Apple Cider - You will win Mom of the Year if you keep a crock pot full of apple cider for your kids while they are doing their schoolwork!

Maple Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes - so easy and simple - and delicious! My teenage daughter makes our dinners about once a week, so I am always on the lookout for achievable recipes for her.

Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake - this is time consuming, but SO WORTH IT!  If you have a young baker on your hands, this is a great recipe to teach them a lot of culinary skills. (It's also a great way to show your husband you love him - mine LOVES this!)

Owl S'Mores - We've been making these for years - the kids love to make (and eat) them! 

Owl S’Mores

What is YOUR favorite way to make memories with your kids in the fall?