Monday, August 9, 2010

Teaching Classical Music Appreciation

I happen to love teaching music to children.
Taking them from wherever they are on the 
spectrum of music appreciation and showing 
them more.

For several years now I have been involved 
with the music classes at our Co-op.
First I was the assistant in the more formal
choirs taught by a certified music teacher
and then as the teacher after she 
moved out of state.

As a person who just loves music but is not
a certified teacher I don't even pretend to 
be an expert at all aspects of music.  I do, 
however, have a lifetime of singing, playing
piano and listening to music to fall back on.
I have sung in several choirs, was in a vocal group
that traveled and found a love for classical music
in an early morning class at Penn State.  
One would think that getting up early, rushing
to class and then sitting in a darkened auditorium
listening to the classics might put one right back 
to sleep.  But, instead, it invigorated me.  I learned
to love the harmonies and creativity of so many 
instruments working together.

So....when I teach young people about classical 
music I let them listen to it.  Not for lengths of time
at first.  We listen to pieces and identify the instruments
we hear.  I tell them stories of the people who have
written the music.  Such interesting stories!
We laugh together at Beethoven's Wig and other 
silly lyrics put to classical music.

Photo Credit:
 I highly recommend this series of CD's if you are 
teaching music at home.  Truth be told, even my 
teenagers get a kick out of them.  I would put them 
in while we were driving here or there and tell them
that I was prepping for my music class and my guys
came to love them too.

Teaching music to children is a joy.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to
have done this for so many years.
This will most likely be my last year with
our co-op.
I will miss my young students and
hope to make the most of this last year.

What do you do to teach your children 
to love music?

Becky K.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Schooling Outside the Box

Chelsea and I have a plan for this new
school year.  It involves a field trip per
week.  Not just random field trips, mind you.
We are going to visit cafe's and eateries 
all over our area.  

You see, it is Chelsea's dream to open a 
Cafe' one day.  I can think of no better way
to do research and plan than to go to see 
what others have done.  Perhaps we will work
up the nerve to speak with the owners.
We will have a list of questions prepared 
in case it is convenient.

In any case, Chelsea will have a notebook
and pen, with an assignment of writing down
the top three and bottom three observations 
at each establishment.

I know that she is serious as her first notebook
is getting to be full of lists of coffee drinks and 
baked goods she wants to offer.  Next on her 
agenda is to work to develop her own recipes for
each of these items.  She wants to be as original 
as is possible.  

I think this is lining up to be a very fun
and tasty school year at Hospitality Lane!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Working Together

This past week has been wonderful.
I have seen such growth in Jonathan and Chelsea.

You see, we had several large projects that 
needed to be completed.  Warren and Mikey 
are at work all day so that left Chelsea, Jonathan
and me to get them done.

It has been a blessing to work together.
To strategize.
To implement.
And occasionally to rethink.

We have made lists.
We have delegated.
And then we have flown by 
the seats of our pants when
things didn't work out as we had 
pictured them.

It has been good to leave a lot of 
the planning in the kids' hands to 
let them work through the process.
They have come through very well.
We are pleased.

This did not used to come 
easily to me.
I am the type that would
rather do it myself.
the kids are earning my
trust each and every day.

Are you raising young people who 
are able to troubleshoot, process and plan?
We don't do them favors by hand holding them
past a certain point.
My philosophy is to give them enough 
freedom to prove themselves but to 
be available to help 
whenever and however they ask for it.

This is all a part of the learning 
process.  They are not going to 
get it perfectly right every time
but we should see 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Reviewing The Past Year And Looking To The Next

The school year is officially finished.  Today, I turned in the evaluations for Rachel and Emily and the required 5th grade testing scores for Rachel.  They did well.

I don't know about you, but at the end of every school year I like to take some time to review how the year went and to spend time planning for next year.

This year was a weird year to me - it seemed so often like we weren't working as diligently as we should and yet the kids learned and grew both academically and spiritually.

Sarah, had been struggling with her reading and was getting frustrated.  So we set it aside for a time.  I know that may be shocking to many of you but in my 16 years of experience teaching my children, I have found that it works!  By the end of the year it was all starting to come together for her.  She was bored with her math this last year, so we are going to try Teaching Textbooks for her this next school year.  She also wanted to improve her drawing skills and so she worked at it, asking Lindsay for help now and then, and we all could see a big improvement!

Rachel, who reads so well, struggles with her math, but I got smart this year and set aside what she had been using and tried a different workbook with more variety and then also did Teaching Textbooks for her and she started to take off!  Why is it that we cling to the old thing that is not working?  Lesson relearned for me!

She also grew in her ability to work on her own.  This is a wonderful thing for students!

Emily doesn't love academics but before this past year started she realized that she hadn't been trying very hard and wanted to stretch herself this year, and she did!  Biology, Advanced Literary Analysis, British Literature...this on top of doing some intermediate level sewing, creating Fraktur art, and working a summer/autumn job at a local adventure farm.

The longer I home educate my children, the less curriculum I use.  Oh, I use a math curriculum and science books as well, but for real learning of history, and language arts and government etc., I use real books - living books.  Ones that have been written by someone who loves the subject they are writing about.  Books that can capture my children's attention and get them thinking.  Then we do a lot of discussion, and processing and relating the information to our lives.  

I believe this teaches them more than anything how to be life long learners.

This next year, I will be starting Kyle on a bit of formal education and am now responsible for Sarah to the state.  But we will continue to learn together as we have always done.  Always our goal is that of discipling our children, to love the Lord and to walk with Him always.  

What a terrible thing it would be if we taught academics and college preparation and yet the hearts of our children were far from the Lord!  So as this next year of learning starts, I hope to encourage you to focus on the eternal things, gain the hearts of your children first and foremost.  The rest will all fall into place.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Learning Doesn't Stop

The great thing about learning is that it is a 24/7 kind of gift.
While we can put the books down and stop recording every
little thing we do for "school" we can have the most fun and 
find the most interesting of things all around us.

Our chickens are a hoot.
We have learned valuable lessons about diligence,
motherhood and protectiveness as we have a new
chick.  We have observed the little one learn to drink
by carefully watching the hens and then mimicking their 
actions.  Such bright little eyes and a happy dance after
the very first drink.  Mikey wondered if the water acted
like an energy drink to the chick. It was very funny.

It makes me aware that always the kids' eyes are watching
and learning from my actions and attitudes.  This week
I found out that when we had last been at Sight and Sound
Theatre to see the drama about Joseph,
one of our sons had spent a lot of time watching me for my 
reactions because I had told him that there were many parts
that made me cry.  He was curious as to which ones.
Good grief!  
Now we have to take him back so he can 
actually watch the show.  It is just an example...but one I 
know to be so very true.  They are designed to watch and 
learn...just like the little chick.

What are your children observing in you?

You are teaching them just as much, if not more
from your life than you do from all of that nifty
curriculum you hope to re-sell someday.

Well, two other little eyes are watching me
at the moment.
Little Bandit needs to go outside...
desperately she thinks!
So, since I have learned from her past 
actions...I'll be taking care of that right now!

Happy Learning!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Need Your Help...

Hello Again,

I am working on a Reading List for Chelsea.
This next year her History and Literature are
going to work together.  She will be reading 
books that feature Missionaries from all over
the  timetable and all over the world.  She will
then construct a journal of what impacted her
from each book including the time period, culture
and key lessons learned.  
She will study the geography of the country
that each book is set in.

I was wondering if you would be willing to 
share titles of books from this genre that you 
have enjoyed? 

Becky K.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thr Fruits of Home Education

The days go by.
We work on spelling, science,
history and more.
At times we wonder if anything we
do means more to our students than
another day to check off their logs.

However, there comes a day when it
all comes together.

This has been a year of many such days
in our lives.

As the children get older and face new
experiences we are able to watch them
put their years of learning to use.

Sometimes it is how they relate to things
at a job or volunteer opportunity.

Sometimes it is just an outpouring of words
in the form of a poem.
Not an assignment.
Just an expression of intense emotion.

There's something about this storm,
that I can not ignore.
This is not the norm,
this is something more.

There's electric in the sky,
there's water on the ground.
There's thunder in the air,
it's beauty all around.

It's like a song
that's playing in my head.
It's like a strong command
that God has clearly said.

Electric beauty
What an incredible sight.
It is still the daytime,
but yet it's dark like night.

It is a symphony
beautifully composed.
it is truly wonder
fantastically exposed.

So, on those days when you feel 
like nothing is sticking.  
Don't quit!

When you are so very  discouraged at the 
progress of your little writers...
hold on!

If one day you feel inadequate...
You aren't!

YOU are making a difference.

YOU are teaching the future.

Be encouraged. 
The future looks good, 
if we judge it by the fruits of your labor!

Becky K. (and Chelsea too)!


Monday, May 10, 2010

Working on Portfolios

In Pennsylvania the final thing most of us do each year is
to prepare a portfolio with and for each child.

These portfolios are then shown to our evaluator who
reviews the curriculum covered and confirms that the
required days were completed and subjects covered.

In the early years our portfolios were huge!
At that time the kids were learning to write and
process math problems. They loved to produce art
projects and frankly their writing was huge.

Lots of paper...lots of trees consumed.

As the years have gone by our portfolios have
gotten smaller. One could get discouraged and
begin to believe that this means we are doing
less. To the contrary, we are covering so much
more material. Most of it verbally. Lots of it
in practical real life projects.
What is written is most often typed
and therefore is very efficiently
contained to a page
or a couple of pages.

That is...except for a story Chelsea is co-writing with
a friend. It is up to 27 pages so far. They take turns
writing chapters. Each girl is a character and that chapter
is written from their perspective. Cool stuff!

Anyway...I am deep in the midst of gathering our year's
accomplishments. To get it all together in one place,
organize it so that our evaluator can understand and
quantify it. Part of me loves this....Most of me hates it!

You know, if I had nothing else to do it is fun to review and
see all that has been done. But graduation is in just 11...

I must find a diploma to print out for the boys.
Sadly, I have not even sent out their invitations.
I've been sick for three weeks and just don't have
that get up and go that I should have.
and friends...they are coming. Really.
But keep May 21st open...would you?
Two really special boys will be walking down the
aisle in funky caps and gowns.
You can all point and giggle.

I'll be the one blubbering
when they hand me a rose.
OH my.

Maybe I'll skip it.


We have worked way too hard.
It is going to be great!

That is what is happening around
Hospitality Lane....
What are you up to?

Becky K.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Excellent Devotional For Today

This is from a Daily Devotional from Alpha Omega - Thanks to my friend Tamara for forwarding it to me!

The Lone Tree

Tuesday / April 27, 2010

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3).

Attempting to find a few moments with the Lord before the beginning of our homeschooling day, I hiked the ragged bluffs in the pasture near our ranch. As I walked through the dry stubble, sage brush, and yucca plants, I came across a small cottonwood tree. With no other trees of any kind close by for miles, it looked completely out of place. The rocky ground in which it grew offered little nourishment, and I knew months had passed since any rain had fallen. "How does this little tree stay alive out here all by itself?" I asked myself.

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Reflecting on the tree's life, I began to see it as a symbol of my own. For the past ten years, I had been homeschooling our children and had felt like a loner. Not only was homeschooling going against the flow, but it was also completely out of the main stream. I found no encouraging nourishment from family or church friends and wondered, like I did about this little tree, how much longer I could survive. But then the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and showed me something amazing. I noticed a difference in the soil's color near the tree's base. As I looked closer, it became evident that this tree's roots went down many feet below the surface. I remembered then what my son and I had learned when studying the topography of the area. Deep below the surface, there was an aquifer, an underground river bringing life-giving water to this little tree. I smiled and said, "Thank You, Lord," as I learned God's lesson for the morning.

For the next several years, I remembered the lesson of the lone tree whenever I felt lonely or homeschooling became difficult. Each time I felt used up and dry, I stretched my roots of faith a little deeper and found the nourishment and life-giving water of God's love. Even though I couldn't see Him, the Holy Spirit's peace was always present. Best of all, this isn't just my story. If you are a homeschooler finding yourself alone in the middle of a dry day, the same life-giving water is waiting to bless you, too. "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).

Lord, thank You for refreshing me when I am empty. Teach me to reach for You whenever homeschooling leaves me feeling afraid or lonely and fill me with Your strength and love. In the wonderful name of Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jonathan is Done!

The days of vision therapy,
tutoring, intensive study,
phonics lessons, planned field trips,
and so much more are done.

The evaluation is complete.
180 days are in for this school year.

His book is incomplete...but
he intends to continue writing at that.

So...this week for the first time when
I called for school, only two came.


Next will be just one....


But, you know, I think it will be fun!

Chelsea and I will do just fine!

Becky K.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Fun Science Article

The March 2010 Reader's Digest
has an interesting article titled
Mad Science, The craziest discoveries,
inventions, and experiments ever!

This is written in a fun style by
Andy Simmons.

I just threw it into one of our very
full days as a quick way to get some
science and discussions going as we
were on the go. It worked.
They brought some of these things up
to Warren later.

I edited a couple of the inventions...
but that is just me.
You may not find the need to do so.

Becky K.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Few Thought Provoking Blog Posts

I occasionally read a blog written by a pastor's wife who home educated her own children - who are now all grown. She writes encouraging posts about the home, and family life and I found two today regarding the The Importance of Homeschooling and Personal Reasons to Homeschool. Both of these posts were reinforcements to me to remember why I have chosen to home educate my children.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Book List

Some of you have asked for more
specifics on the books we have
used in our Homeschool...

I reviewed some of my notes from
years past and have a partial list
for you....

The Thieves of Ostia
The Secrets of Vesuvius
The Assassins of Rome

The Broken Song
Fire in the Hills

The Earth Dragon Awakes

The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds
Isabel, Jewel of Castilla

Mary Slessor

The Hittite Warrior

Cooper Kids – Just for Fun...
Secret of the Desert Stone
Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea
Door in the Dragon’s Throat
Escape from the Island of Aquarius
The Tombs of Anak

Sutter’s Cross

Many of the books on this list were from a school
year where we worked more in Unit Study.
I had the kids make a geography map book
about each place we studied. They enjoyed
documenting the many places and I loved making
the history, english, science and literature
I would place many of these at the 5th - 9th
grade level. Of course, you should always
preview the books and judge for yourselves.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Where are You in Your School Year?

We are hard at work completing our
goals. I just thought I would share
what those are for the time being.

The Time Machine - Reading and discussion in coordination with a Class all three are taking at our Co-op.

Mikey is finishing a sci-fi trilogy for his independent reading and has
subscribed to a couple of Horticulture Magazines.
He constantly reads online about dirtbike interests.

Chelsea is an avid reader and writes a bunch too.
She has a pen pal this year to whom she emails long,
long epistles at the same time they play geography
games online. Choosing a location and letting the
other try to figure it out by asking questions.

Jonathan reads online very frequently about music.
He loves contemporary Christian Music and is very
well versed in the various groups and their new
I do want to find one more novel or non-fiction for
him to read before the end of the school year...
not necessary but I would just like to have that
one last thing completed.

US History - Using mostly BJU's The American Republic.
The kids are also taking a Political Science Class at Co-op.

Vocabulary - Vocabulous!, an online resource, and is also covered in the Time Machine Book Study.

Body By Design - An awesome, if somewhat complex, look at the human body.
The boys took a Health and Body class at Co-op last semester.

Math - sigh...our weakness. However, we are attempting to do a real life look at math in our daily world. They are paying bills, budgeting and managing both real and pretend money.

Jonathan- Writing a novel. He is currently painting his cover illustration with watercolors.

Mikey - Making a Terrarium. He is designing, purchasing supplies and will make at least one of these as his Spring Horticulture project.

Chelsea - Continuing her love of baking. Cakes, cookies, pastries. Since we are more than saturated with sweets at the moment her project for today is to make Red Lobster's Cheddar Biscuits to go with dinner tonight.

Other classes and interests...drama class for Chelsea at Co-op, Jonathan and Mikey are in a Leadership Class. We bowl weekly, Chelsea and Mikey rollerblade weekly, I count the Bible from Church as well as what we do here. Pastor Mike is very good with World and Bible History. He teaches this intensely during our Sunday School Times. There is rocketry, Risk, Chess, Ultimate Frisbee...we have a very busy world as a classroom. And that is just the way we like it.

I am out of time for this post...but this is a snapshot of where we sit at the beginning of March 2010. Much to do....Much has been completed.

Have a very happy Homeschool Day!

Becky K.

A Vocabulary Web Site

This morning Chelsea could
not locate her vocabulary book.

I moved it when I was working
on the living room for my posts
on the decor makeover.

Before I located the existing
book I hopped online to see
what I might find for Chelsea
to go ahead and do some vocab

This is fun.
She liked it.
I let her use an online dictionary
and it went quickly but the words were
mostly new to her.


Online Dictionary

Have a great day!

Why the photo of the shoes?
I don't know.
It was there....

Becky K.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Book Recommendation

This is for your High School age Students.

Think Big by Dr. Ben Carson.

This book is one that is great to do as a
read-a-loud and discussion. Dr. Carson's
style is very repetitive and at points
you wonder if he forgot he told you that
already, however, I have come to think that
it is more about driving his point home.

I will caution you that there is a part in
an early chapter that is about his mother
and involves her being taken to a
hotel room for wrong purposes.
I skipped over this part when reading out loud.

Call me crazy, but I just didn't want to go there
with both the boys and Chelsea in the room.

You should know that nothing happens to her there
but the intent is clear.

Other than that caution...I highly recommend this
book. Dr. Carson finds the best in the people
around him and uses them as examples of points
he is making.

I have found myself thinking how much I would
enjoy finding a way to sponsor him to speak
to the Homeschoolers of our area. This is not
as crazy as it sounds since he lives and works
just over an hour away from us at Johns Hopkins.

At least I think he is still there.

Let me know if you do read this.
I would love to know your impressions.

We have a personal indirect connection
with Dr. Carson as it was one of his
students who operated on my Father-in-law.

As he talks about the Pediatric Neurosurgery
areas at Johns Hopkins I can see it clear as
a bell. We visited there several times.

Happy Homeschooling!

Becky K.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Using Technology in Your Homeschool

I love to talk to my children.

I do not love to give them their
school assignments verbally even
though this has been our primary
way of communication
all of these years.

When we were at Longwood Gardens
this week we talked a while with
one of Mikey's Supervisors from
the time he spent there this past
Summer. Harold was intimidating
to Mikey at first but it wasn't
long before a real respect grew
and this was the one person that Mikey
wished to seek out on this visit.

We went to the gate near
Harold's office and stood there
awkwardly trying to get his attention.

Finally we succeeded and we had
opportunity to chat.

Harold was very open with us about
things that will be important in
Mikey's application and interview
for the Professional Gardener's Program.

All of the things he shared made
perfect sense...nothing earth shattering.
Keep your grades up,
have a Plan A and a Plan B.

Study, research horticulture,
work in a related job.

He let us know that the coursework
is rigorous and that Mikey needs
to be ready for that.

This, of course, got me thinking.

Today it hit 5:30 am!
That is when most things get my

I can use Mikey's love of email
to get links and class assignments
to him.

So, I got up.

Found some awesome resources.

And have several lessons in the
pipeline already.

I cannot wait to see how this works
out. Our kids are so tech savvy and
I don't see why we can't use this to
our benefit as homeschool parents.

Would you be interested in these classes
if I did them in separate posts on the

Becky K.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Yet Another Plug for Living Books

They groaned as I pulled out the
U.S. History Textbook that I have
been reading from over the past
weeks. While I have no intention
of reading it cover to cover there
are pages and even chapters that we
are going to cover...from this book.

One sad voice said, "Why don't you
read one of those interesting books
like you did last year?"



Got them!

So, its back to the Library for me.
I've got to find the next interesting
Living History Book. One set in the late
1800's should do it.

Love it!
I can't wait!
The Library is one of
my favorite places!

Becky K.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nope, Don't Feel Like it Today....

But going to do it anyway!
How about you?

Feel like doing school?

This getting back after a
break is often tough...
but then I remember

To give our children the best
start in life possible...

To train them in the ways of the

Because no one loves these
young people like their
Dad and I do!

Back to School!

Becky K.