Handicrafts for Homeschool: Up-Cycled Newspaper Basket

I do not make any secret of my respect for the teachings and methods of Charlotte Mason.  It is also well-circulated, that I love to create and craft with children.  There is something indispensable about teaching a child create and make something worth-while.  The teaching of handicrafts was a desirable skill that Charlotte Mason suggested for all levels of learning, and I personally feel that this handicrafting (or, learning a trade) is widely neglected in most mainstream academic circles.
We have taken up the challenge, in our homeschool, to create more handicrafts this year & devote time to learning a trade, while honing our craft.  I have chosen to use Pinterest as a springboard for our creations.

Here are the handicrafts, or trades we are planning together, and individually:
  • Creative Writing
  • Non-fiction Writing
  • Hand & Drop Spindle Spinning
  • Loom Weaving
  • Crochet
  • Wood Working
  • Metal Punch
  • Herb Gardening
  • Herb Craft
  • Basket Weaving
This month we chose to begin with the art of basket weaving, as part of our contribution to Pinterest Flips & Flops, from iHomeschool Network.  The Bug enjoys loom weaving already, as she learned this fall at the Homestead Heritage Fair, so I felt like this would help strengthen her in a handicraft she already enjoys.

The first "Flips and Flops" Pinterest Project we decided on was a lovely little up-cycled newspaper basket.  Here is a link to the tutorial that we began with Basic Newspaper Basket .  This first project appeared to be a real "flip" . . . at first.

The directions for this tutorial where simple and easy to follow.  Having clear pictures really helped both teacher and student.
We found along the way, as we were preparing our newspaper strips for weaving, that using a ruler to smooth the edges helped considerably. 
Another discovery that we made was that the tutorial we were following did not include any measurements for the basket.  We had to continually measure as the Bug was working on the bottom portion of her basket.  This was a slight nerve wrecker for the Type A personalities at the table, which is both of us by the way. (Note: Potential for "flop" #1)
Now, this is where it got tricky folks.  The tutorial we were following began to exclude photos for finishing off the ends of the basket, once we had reached the top. (Note: Potential for "flop" #2)
However, we persevered, and used a little ingenuity, glue & clothespins, and used it as a little lesson in patience.  When the glue had dried and the nerves were all settled, we had a lovely little basket and a happy young lady.

Here are a couple of important reminders about handicrafting with children:

  • One thing to remember when selecting and teaching handicrafts and trades for homeschool:  We do not make mistakes.  We only have opportunities to learn! 
  • Learning and practicing a handicraft is a skill that builds patience and endurance.  Don't let your child give up.
  • Allow your student to learn by correcting the work that they have performed unsatisfactorily.  Patiently teach again to create a love of excellence.
Be sure to stop by the other bloggers from iHomeschool Network's Pinterest Flips & Flops.  We will be back next month with more handicrafts for homeschool.

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook


God Keeps His Promises the Noah Edition {Family Table Time}

Photo Credit, CC via Compfight.com

Family Table Time is just about gathering simple materials, most you have laying around the house, and using them to create a special time of growing nearer to God as a family.  These table times don't need to be fancy, or take up a ton of time, most productive Family Table Time Lessons could actually be completed with 25 - 35 minutes.  The point is just to gather around in "one accord" and commune over God's word and focus on our daily walk as a family of faith.

This post for Family Table Time Lessons will include multiple lessons.  Take your time and spread them out over a two or three week period.  The story of Noah and God's amazing covenant is worth savoring, and young ones really seem to find it exciting!

Table Time Lesson # 1: God Keeps His Promises
Scripture Reading: Genesis 7:1-12
Take-away: God Made It Rain

Read aloud together Genesis 7:1-12

  • Ask your children to tell you what they know about how God kept His promise to make it rain.

Here are some addition Table Top Discussion "Starters":
  • Discuss as a family about Noah and the covenant that God made with him.  God told Noah to build an ark and prepare for a great rain.  Why did this take faith? 
  • Do you think it was hard for Noah to continue preaching about the coming rain when people didn't believe him?  How do you think that would feel?
  • Do you think that it could be hard for your own pastor leading a congregation and having people not respond well?  Find one thing you can do to help your pastor and his family this week, remember to pray for them each day as a family.
Now, you can help you child explore the joy of knowing God ALWAYS keeps His promises.  Let's try some of these hands-on activities this week:

Art/Handicraft Activity: Raindrop Printing (We took a little "nature hike" and used little leaves to print raindrops on paper, then added cotton balls for clouds & a brown construction paper ark at the bottom)  Have your children copy Genesis 7:12 on the bottom of their Raindrop Painting.

Sensory Activity/Science: Make It Rain (I used a version of this Montessori activity from The Moveable Alphabet)  This was a fun activity about rain and did not use a ton of materials and it was easy to duplicate.

Music/Songs: If you have younger children, music is always a good idea.  Try these songs that feature Noah's story.
 "Arky, Arky" song, "Noah Built the Ark" song
Make a rain stick to use while you sing as a family.  MAKE A RAIN STICK HERE.

Table Top Lesson # 2: God Keeps His Promises
Scripture: Genesis 8:1
Take-away: God Saved the Animals & Noah's Family

Read aloud together Genesis 8:1

Ask your children to tell you what they know about how God kept His promise to save the animals and Noah's family.

Here are some addition Table Top Discussion "Starters":
  • Discuss as a family about Noah and the covenant that God made with him.  Why was it important for Noah to act in obedience to God's calling in his life?
  • How do you think being on an ark with a lot of animals felt for 40 days and 40 nights?  What would be fun about that?  What would be uncomfortable about that?
Now, you can help you child explore the joy of knowing God ALWAYS keeps His promises.  Let's try some of these hands-on activities this week:

Art/Handicraft Activity: We made Paper Plate Ark with Animal Stickers (see here).  We also created the cute little snack-time craft above, it was super simple and everyone loves art that you can eat.  Am I right?

Sensory Activity/Science: Animal Mystery Game - I made a simple game by covering an oatmeal container with black construction paper and filling it with little plastic animals.  The kids would reach in and guess what animal they grabbed before pulling it out.  Then we would make that animal's "sound" and try to walk like that animal.  (They liked this so much we did it twice.)

Music/Songs: "Arky, Arky" song, "Noah Built the Ark" song


Table Top Lesson 3: God Keeps His Promises
Scripture: Genesis 9:12-17
Take-away: God Gave His Rainbow As A Promise

Read aloud together Genesis9:12-17

Ask your children to tell you what they know about how God kept His promise to bring the rainbow, again and again.

Here are some addition Table Top Discussion "Starters":

  • Discuss as a family about Noah and the covenant that God made with him.  Why is that promise important to us today?
  • How can we remember this promise to help us in times of struggle?
  • Share with your family about a time that you know God kept a promise to you.
  • Pray together that you God would continue His faithfulness in all His promises and that He would allow you to see His faithfulness clearly.
Now, you can help you child explore the joy of knowing God ALWAYS keeps His promises.  Let's try some of these hands-on activities this week:

Art/Handicraft Activity: Q-Tip Rainbow Painting here.  This is a super simple and quick painting activity.  Allow the bigger children to paint their rainbow free-hand.

We also made these cute little Fruit Loop Rainbows for snack-time.  Super quick and easy, and the big kids won't mind since there is food involved.  Just saying.

Sensory Activity/Science: Created this fun Liquid Rainbow science experiment. Here
Everyone will enjoy making their own and keeping it in a window as a daily reminder of God's promises.
  • What are some of the ways that you connect to learn as a family???
  • Do you have a good idea for Family Table Time Lessons? Email Heather and you just may see it here!

** This post may contain affiliate links.  Thank you for your support. You can read my full disclosure policy here.**

Joyfully Learning with You,

The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitter, & Instagram and our IG SHOP

Heather's Highly Recommended Helps: 


A Day in Our Life at Homeschool Cooperative (with 10-, 14- and 15-year-old)

* This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our full statement of disclosure here.  Thank you for your support.

I would say that as far as homeschooling days go, the days we spend at our local homeschool cooperative are certainly unique.  Our cooperative is a Classical Christian-based program that meets 31 weeks of the academic year, three times per week.  That's right, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  What you are about to witness is how a "typical" Wednesday would look for our family on a day we attend homeschool cooperative.  

Believe me when I say, we are not perfect and our day rarely comes out flawless.  However; four years of attending cooperative has made us better at our accountability and consistency as homeschoolers, mommy included.  It has almost literally taken our family the entire four years to find the schedule and process that works best for us.  I hope you will find some tip, trick or resource that may help you in your homeschooling journey.

(with 10-, 14- and 15-year-old)

4:30 am Mommy Rise-N-Shine
YEP!  I have to get up that early to do "me" time with God & make life simpler, and make some attempt at self-care.  It's a sacrifice, but totally worth it.  Honestly, some days I sleep later, like until 5:00 or 5:15 am, and it does not seem to go well.  Some mornings are extra special when I can share breakfast with my hubby before he leaves for work . . . 
Best mornings are sharing healthy Breakfast with my husband.
6:00 am Breakfast Preparation
Kids' breakfast is usually prepped the night before, so that all I need to do is cook it or pop it in the oven in the morning.  This makes the priority of breakfast that much easier to deliver.  

Protein + Good Carbohydrate = Breakfast.

6:30 am Kids Rise-N-Shine, Dress & Devotionals and Eat Breakfast

7:20 am Finish loading van, Cooperate Prayer & off to cooperative.
The kids have their buckets pre-loaded from the night before, as to curb time searching for things, etc.  Mommy's buckets are usually still in use in the evening, so the kids help me by loading them in the morning.

7:45 - 8:00 Arrive at Cooperative
When we arrive, the kids do all the unloading, and I usually head straight to the copy machine & make myself some "fancy" coffee.  The kids help prepare for the arrival of their peers by prepping classrooms, putting out games for morning fellowship, help mom with class, etc.  We are typically the first to arrive.
How do you like that view???
8:20 am 
Mom's 1st Class: Reading Circle
The kids gather downstairs and visit with friends, while playing games.  I begin my day with a Reading Circle time for Kindergarten through 2nd Grade students that need more mentoring in Reading.
We love All About Learning at our homeschool cooperative.  I use All About Reading in our Reading Circle.
9:00 am  Homeschool Cooperative Begins!
Mommy: 4th Grade World History/Texas History (Story of the World, Volume 3 & The Story of Texas)
The Bug: Life Science
The Scout & The Squeaker: Apologia Physical Science

10:00 am 
Mommy: Davis Learning Strategies for Kinder through 3rd Grade
The Bug: English and Reading
The Scout & The Squeaker: English and Reading

11:00 am 
Mommy: American Republic History
The Bug: Saxon Math
The Scout & The Squeaker: American Republic History

11:45 am LUNCH

12:15 - 1:00 pm
Mommy: 7th Grade World History/Texas History
The Bug: Latin
The Scout & The Squeaker: Logic & Saxon Math

1:00 - 2:00 pm
Mommy: Mentoring (I actually work the remainder of the day until 2:30 one-on-one with students who need homework help.)
The Bug: Ancient History & Journaling
The Scout & The Squeaker: Latin & Spanish

2:00 Clean-up, Load-up & Drive Home

2:30 - 3:00 Unload & Snack

3:00 - 5:00 Homework Time
  • Kids get homework done before dinner, since it is also Church fellowship evening.

  • Mommy does lunch prep for the next day of homeschool cooperative.


The Scout's favorite lunch box special: Gluten-free Pizza Pasta Salad
  • Mom finishes dinner preparation

  • Mommy works on any homework grading from her homeschool cooperative classes.
  • Mommy also checks that everyone has completed homework to turn-in the following day.
Here is The Bug prepping for her oral report on the Effect of Smoking on the Circulatory System.
6:00 - 8:00 pm Dinner is served & Dad takes kids to church.
Mommy: Grades, prepares lessons for following day, organizes and prepares for next cooperative day.

9:00 Lights Out!
It is essential for our family to get sleep and not fall into other "distractions" during the homeschool week.  This being said, we do not allow the kids to play video games, watch movies or visit others on homeschool evenings.  Our family feels these entertainment items are best left as a weekend reward.

Homeschool Co-op day is done - Wash, rinse, repeat! ;)  Actually, our Tuesday & Thursday schedule runs an hour and a half later at cooperative, and I spend more time mentoring students on those days, but that's a whole other story . . . 

Come and share your homeschool day over at Simple Homeschool!
You might also be interested in seeing my recommendations for a great cooperative day: 12 Ways to Make the Most Out of Homeschool Cooperative.

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Here are some more homeschool resources we recommend: 
  • Notebooking Success - Best notebooking resource for home educators.  This great eBook will help you be inspired to teach notebooking at your kitchen table too.
  • Heritage History - The home for excellent living books and classical history on the internet.
  • Thrift Books - Used books at a great price for any homeschool curriculum.

Articles that are still joyful:


Supper Time: Vegetable Frittata {Gluten Free, Dairy Free Family Cooking}

This is a long overdue post, at least as far as some of my Instagram & Facebook friends are concerned.  I have been posting pictures of our family dinner time, highlighting my efforts to cook predominately real-food, gluten-free, dairy-free options for our family's varying nutritional needs ... and to meet the taste-buds and growing appetites of children and husband.  Really, it's not as difficult as I have made it sound.

The last couple of times that I have pictured my quick, easy and tasty Vegetable Frittata, my posting is followed by an influx of recipe requests.  

So, here you go . . .  The "Whatever-veggies-you-have" Vegetable Frittata

12-14 Farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup onion (chopped finely)
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 cup of chopped veggies . . . whatever you have, seriously, it will be good.
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Roma tomato for garnish

A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is essential to baking a great-tasting frittata.

1.  Season your cast iron skillet with whatever oil you prefer to use.  I prefer extra virgin coconut oil or olive oil.  IMPORTANT: Warm skillet in the oven before mixing frittata ingredients.  I place mine on 275 degrees while I'm working on chopping, mixing and such.

2.  Warm oil in a stove-top skillet and fry onions and garlic until onions are translucent in color.  Add your fresh vegetables and stir-fry until they are slightly tender.

3.  Beat eggs and then mix together with vegetables.  Salt & pepper to taste.  I usually grab fresh thyme, rosemary & dill from the herb garden if I have it.  Add the mixture to your pre-warmed iron skillet.  Add tomato slices for garnish.  Cook on 350 degrees until center is cooked.  Approximately 20 minutes.

4.  Slice frittata in wedges and garnish with salsa.  We enjoy this dish for both breakfast and supper.

In the Vegetable Frittata pictured below I cooked with broccoli, kale, tomato, cauliflower, and celery.
This frittata is dairy free.  The farm fresh eggs give it the look like it has cheese, but it does not.  That's actually the way eggs should look, just sayin.

I hope you enjoy some real-food eating and real-family time around your dinner table too!

How frequently do you and your family eat at the table for supper???

Joyfully Learning with You,


10 Read-a-Loud Classics for Older Children

* This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our full statement of disclosure here.  Thank you for your support.

Well, I finally have it!  No more excuses after six months of homeschool cooperative responsibilities, re-prioritizing and me, well...being me; I finally have our solidified Family Read-a-Loud list.  I will say in my defense that this year was more challenging in finding book selections for several reasons.

As my children grow older their interests have become more diversified, thus making it difficult for ole' mom to find books that we can enjoy together.  I also have the whole boy's interest vs. girls' interests thing happening too.  My youngest has made it a bit easier on me though since she reads and comprehends far above grade level.  I chose the books for this year by looking at the bigger picture.  I based several selections based chronologically on the history we will be learning.  I also filled in with a couple of family favorites, and some inspirational classics that I think we all need.

These will be our Family Read-a-Louds for 2014 & I believe these are all great selections that your older children may enjoy too!

Purpose Driven Life
Rick Warren
  • A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: We have recently been discussing and praying over our Family Mission Statement.  I felt like this book would help us move forward in this process and bring fresh ideas to our Family Devotional time.
  • The Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch: I chose several items from our Ambleside Reading List for the remainder of this semester.  I choose this book and Ben Hur to help along my ninth graders who are reviewing Ancient History this summer.
Ivanhoe (Bantam Classic)
Sir Walter Scott
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: The following five selections are also from our Ambleside Reading List which I have simply inserted into our Read-a-Loud schedule to allow the kids more Free Reading Time during the school week.  We will all be studying the Middle Ages to the Reformation during our 2014-2015 Academic Year, so this will just help us along in that goal.
  • A Taste of Chaucer by Anne Malcolmson (Warning! This book can be difficult to find, and costs around $15.99 - $42.00 on Amazon.  We have a copy available through a local collegiate library, so check around at your library first!  You can also use LIBRARY THING to find a local copy.)
  • The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel: My older children have already enjoyed this selection, but they are excited about sharing it with their younger sister.  This is another selection that will be used dual-ly, as a Family Read-a-Loud and during Family Devotional.
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens: Another family favorite story that we just have not yet taken the time to read the original.  "May I have some more please sir?"
Do you and your family observe a Family Reading Time?  What is the best book you read together?

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Articles that are still joyful:
Check-out some joyfully recommended products:
  • If you love living history, then you can't go wrong with Heritage History!  We have enjoyed all of the classical book selections and great quality with their CD's and eBooks.  Check it out!
  • Visual Latin is the best in Latin curriculum.  The DVD instruction is quick, entertaining and informative.  My kids have finally stopped complaining about taking Latin.
  • Notebooking Pages is a wonderful resource for those who love notebooking, or are trying to get started with Notebooking.


12 Ways to Make the Most Out of Homeschool Cooperative {Do's & Do Not's}

* This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see our full statement of disclosure here.  Thank you for your support.

We have been members at our local Christian Classical Homeschool Cooperative (there's a mouthful) for going on four years now.  My kids take academic and enrichment classes in a classroom setting, while mom teaches classes.  I have worn many hats at our local cooperative, so I have the years of faltering and stumbling, rejoicing and learning that enable me to share the best do's and don'ts to helping your family thrive in the Homeschool Co-op community.

  • Do have a morning game plan & be certain everyone in your family has a job and understands their responsibility.  In our family, the kids are responsible for loading their buckets in the vehicle on the evening BEFORE co-op.  The more you can prepare the night before, the more room you have for the "unpredictables" in the morning.  Make morning devotional a priority for yourself, and for your kids.  I promise, the morning will go better if you wake early and take the time.

  • Do keep the lunches healthy & well stocked by making lunch for the kids (and yourself silly) the night before co-op too!  Get some great real-food lunch ideas on this contributing Pinterest board & I also recommend Mom-a-bles.
  • Do Not skip breakfast.  You need fuel for the morning and your kids need "brain power", so get them fed.  Protein + a good carbohydrate is best for the morning dash-off.  I, again, suggest preparing in advance for breakfast either by freezing cooking or make-a-head items.  Our favorites: Baked Oatmeal, Breakfast Burritos, Granola & Fruit, Omelet "Sandwich"  Please do not stress yourself with a five-course meal at breakfast, you'll thank me later . . . so, your welcome!
  • Do be certain that your children are organized and that they have a good working knowledge of how to record assignments, turn-in "homework" and to file graded "homework".  I prepare the kids one week before co-op begins by allowing them to make their own students planner & we complete a working plan for each child, so they can clearly understand and meet the expectations of a teacher besides mom.

  • Do set aside "homework time" as a consistent block that is set aside for the family (maybe even mom & dad) to get work completed with excellence.  Now the following are ONLY EXAMPLES, this may not work for your family: We do not allow television, movies or any gaming on homeschool co-op nights.  I have found this is a great way keep consistent with expectations and I am removing any distractions that may impend mine and my children's progress.  Communicate, in advance, when homework is expected to be completed, and stick to the plan.
  • Do help your child achieve excellence in their work. Check your child's homework for accuracy, while maintaining your integrity as a parent.  Do not allow you student to use the Teacher's manual without your direct supervision.  When reviewing homework, ask questions about whether they believe the problem or question was answered correctly.  Remind them to check their own work and to remember to use rough drafts for editing.

  • Do know your family's extra-curricular schedules & family commitments BEFORE signing up for co-op classes.  It is better for your child if they do not skip any co-op classes . . . believe me, it is a snowball effect that sets your child up for failure . . . you don't want that!  Communicate with your children and help them balance their schedules with their time constraints for homework, to ensure they are meeting homework responsibilities in a stress-free time frame.  Example: My family attends Wednesday night services.  In order to be free of homework, sometimes they must ask the teacher for their assignment a day in advance to alleviate their work load on Wednesday evenings.  

  • Do be grateful for the teachers and instructors & be considerate of their time outside of co-op.  If you have trained your child well to stay organized, communicate their homework assignments and take accountability for their own work & behavior; you will find that you, and your child, have less questions and confusions with the classroom instructor.  Most teachers have families, and kids in co-op too, so keep that in mind when contacting them outside co-op hours.

  • Do make Family Dinner Time a top priority!  Family Dinner Time is essential at all times, but especially when co-op has made your time constraints more demanding.  Have a meal plan for dinner during the week, and prepare as much as you can in advance.  This will keep you less stressed and make family dinner the enjoyable gathering it should be.

  • Do teach your child to communicate effectively on how their day went at co-op.  Help them to label their day clearly.  We ask the kids how their day was, but tell them to give it a number from #1 (being terrible) to #10 (being terrific, super awesome, fabulous).  This helps us know how they really viewed their day, and then we ask them to explain why they gave the day that specific number.  Let's face it, children perspectives are a far cry from adult perspectives, make sure that you are speaking the same language as your children.

  • Do make co-op a family team effort. When prayer-fully considering whether Homeschool cooperative is right for you and your family (yes, I said prayerful), it is best to discuss how these new time constraints and responsibilities will effect life inside the family community.  Mom cannot be the only one making efforts to make cooperative classes a great fit for your family.  Draw on one another's talents and strengths to help; Let older children help with younger children; Redistribute responsibilities and chores to help lighten the load on mom (especially if she is teaching); Let Dad have his area of teaching and mentoring . . . he will do it differently than mom, but that is a good thing too.  Repeat after me ladies, "Dad's way is not wrong, just different".  Good job . . . keep saying it!
  • Do Not Compare!  Do give grace & receive grace.  Homeschool cooperative is a safe ground to prepare our children for life outside our homes.  There are also "real people" there, with real issues too!  We are to be the hands and feet of Christ, even at homeschool cooperative.  Jesus' own hands and feet were pierced for our transgressions.  As His disciples, we may have to sacrifice in order to give grace.  We may also need to swallow pride in order to receive grace from others.  Show, by example, how to give and receive grace, giving your children an opportunity to practice living out a life of faith, within a safe and loving environment.
A few more: 

  • Do get the kids to bed early . . . mom too! 
  • Do give rewards for good grades and consistently good efforts.
  • Do pray for kids, the teachers and families at your co-op.
  • Do take vitamins & supplements that will help with daily energy levels and special needs.  
  • Do set your kids up for success by staying consistent. 
Remember to be positive, and help your kids to see all the good that can come from stretching themselves outside their "comfort zones".  Isn't that when God does major work on our lives, when we step out in faith outside of our own personal comfort?

"For I know the thoughts, that I have thought towards you, saith the Lord, even the thoughts of peace, and not of trouble, to give you an end, and your hope."  Jeremiah 29:11 (Geneva Bible)

I know that co-op can be tough at times, and that growing and learning is something that we continually do alongside our children.  Don't give up girl.  Fight the good fight. Finish the race.  Here is a quote I brought home from Winter Summit that has really resonated with me:

"Homeschooling is hard!  I would rather live with doing hard, than to live easy and miss doing God's will." ~ Roxanne Parks

Let's stick in this together . . . let's do hard!

Do you attend cooperative?  What are some of your strengths and struggles at homeschool cooperative?

Joyfully Learning with You,
The Joyful Socks Mom 

Be sure to keep up with Joyful Socks on PinterestTwitterInstagram & Facebook

Articles that are still joyful: