Monday, August 29

Roadschool Trip to Patriot's Point

Our roadschool field trip to Charleston and Savannah took us through some amazing historic properties and tours, but the boys most enjoyed our afternoon at Patriot's Point.  This museum is home to World War 2 and Vietnam-era ships, and is rife with hands-on history!

With Charleston as a beautiful backdrop, Patriots Point is home to three museum ships: the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier, the USS Laffey, a destroyer, and the USS Clamagore, a submarine that was sunk as an artificial reef.  It is also the starting point for tours of Fort Sumter, which was the site of the first shots fired in the American Civil War.  (Find more on the Civil War here.)  The floating museum gives visitors the chance to tour the aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, along with a destroyer ship, and a submarine.  

The ships are amazing, with nearly every area open for visitors to experience life aboard an aircraft carrier.  The boys practiced tying knots, learned how to spot aircraft, experienced being hit with a torpedo, learned about strategic command, and took a turn in the captain's chair.  They learned about the different types of aircraft that launched from this ship, as well as the pilots who bravely flew to protect our nation in times of war.

Back on dry land, visitors can also visit the Vietnam Experience Exhibit.  The boys were fascinated by this exhibit - and Grandma attested to the fact that it was VERY realistic, very much as described by Grandpa during his successive tours.  The Vietnam Experience brings this era to life through music, nature sounds, chopper sounds, scents, and interactive pieces.

Patriot's Point Field Trip Resources

Monday, August 22

Farming Books for Middle & High School (Interest-Led Schooling)

One of our sons is more the hands-on, outdoors type of kid.  He works hard and has great work ethic, but doesn't really plan to continue schooling beyond graduation.  He's not a fan of reading, but enjoys reading about working with animals and the land.  If you've got a kid like this....this list is for you!

**It should be noted that, while there are so many farm-themed books for elementary-aged children, this book list has been composed specifically with middle and high school students in mind.

--> Download & Print the Farm Book List <--

Stay tuned for our 2023 Word of the Year -- it will have something to do with homesteading!

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Looking for something more in-depth - a full-year course?  Check out Homestead Science.  Created for upper grades learners, Introduction to Homestead Science contains 18 interactive units that teach agriculture science, life skills, mathematics, and character lessons.  Each of those units includes eight lessons, spanning two weeks, for a total of thirty-six weeks.  Each lesson has accompanying workbook activities and projects.  The curriculum also includes tests, quizzes, and six homestead projects (no acreage required).

Friday, August 12

Studying Pandas with 'The Year of the Panda'

While most of our unit studies are for upper grades, this one is geared toward younger students.  That said, it's still a great little story that would be a wonderful read aloud for the entire family!

The giant panda, known by its black and white coat and round little body, is native to China.  The Latin name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca, and in Chinese it is: 大熊猫.  

Pandas eat any of twenty-five bamboo species in the wild, but only a few bamboo species are widespread at the high altitudes pandas now inhabit.  Bamboo leaves contain the highest protein levels; stems have less.  Because of how the bamboo life cycle works, the giant panda must have at least two different species available to avoid starvation.  In the wild, it eats primarily bamboo shoots and leaves, but very occasionally eats meat in the form of birds, rodents, or carrion.  In captivity, it might also eat honey, eggs, fish, yams, oranges, or bananas.

The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan, but also in neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu.  As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the giant panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived, and it now relies on conservation efforts to keep it alive.  It has been an endangered species for a long time, but in 2016 was reclassified as 'vulnerable.'  This is because people worked hard to make sure pandas didn't become extinct.


  • The Year of the Panda
    • Daxiong mao is rare and mysterious, like a god, living in the midst of the mountains.Strange things are happening on Lu Yi's farm. First, some men from the Chinese government ask Lu Yi's father to sell the property that has belonged to the family for generations. Then a giant panda appears in a neighbor's field, A rare occurrence, given the farm's distance from the high-mountain bamboo forests that pandas inhabit.Lu Yi has a feeling that the two mysteries are somehow connected. And before long, an orphaned baby panda he finds in the' woods provides an answer. As the boy nurses the helpless animal back to health, he begins an adventure that may, well change his entire future.


Make / Do

  • bear
  • bamboo
  • China
  • endangered
  • zoo
  • panda
  • habitat
  • omnivores
  • adaptations
  • ecosystem
  • reserve
  • daxiong mao
  • Society does not have the resources to save every species from extinction.  How should we decide which species to preserve?
  • Should we try to preserve as many species as possible, or focus on whole ecosystems?

Boost this unit study with more about China...

Got an animal lover?  

Pick up Zoo Studies!  Sixteen different units focus on fourteen different animals, plus classification / taxonomy and animal adaptations.  Activities include : reading, writing, research, online learning, videos, crafts, and more!  

Wednesday, August 10

Ameo Life - Natural Health Solutions {Review}

We recently had the opportunity to try out Ameo Life's line of products, including the silver solution, silver soap, silver gel, and multivitamins.  Silver is a pretty trendy in the all-natural community, and Ameo Life approaches health, particularly skin health, through the digestive system.  Their basis for products is that a healthy gut flora and healthy digestive system will promote better outer health.

Of the four products we received, hands-down our family favorite was the Extra Strength Silver Gel!  This gel is formulated to balance the skin's pH level.  It is infused with silver, and designed to leave the skin feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Every family member used this for various skin irritations - primarily poison oak and chigger bites - and found it to be quite effective.  It didn't eliminate the problems, but cut down significantly on the inflammation and itching.  Mom also used it as a daily facial moisturizer and found it to be light and refreshing for these hot summer days.  See the photo below comparing one arm treated with gel and the other without gel.  (The one treated was actually the worse of the two.)

The organic silver soap was lavender-scented and very pleasing to smell, particularly in the evening.  It got the job done, of cleaning, and left our skin feeling refreshed.  This, too, helped with itchy summer ailments.  It is infused with both silver and essential oils for a natural cleanse.

The Alkaline Silver Solution is designed to be used internally, but we chose to use it externally for conditions such as swimmers ear.  I do recommend that people read the FAQ at the bottom of this page to be informed prior to internal use.  The silver solution is designed to support a healthy immune system and naturally cleanse the gut.  These same principles work toward cleaning the ear canal from bacterial growth after a swim in the pond!

Finally, the chelated multivitamin is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your health naturally.  It also has methylated folate to make it more bioavailable. One of the challenges facing multivitamin supplements is absorption and bioavailability, and many are formulated with the least expensive forms of vitamins in mind, however there is little benefit to taking vitamins your body can’t utilize.  The ingredients used in these are designed to be more bioavailable, hence a more economical product in the long run.

Want to try Ameo Life?  Enter to win 4 full-sized products!!!

Tuesday, August 9

Homestead Gardening - What to Preserve Each Month

 Most people think of gardening as a summer activity, and it is, but to be truly productive, you'll want to learn about year-round gardening and preserving.  You've heard of buying 'in season,' but now it's time to learn how to preserve your own harvest with the seasons!

If you're new to the world of canning and food preservation, start here with the basics.    You'll want to invest in a good canning system, canning utensils, and possibly a pressure canner, too.  It should be noted that InstaPots are NOT advised for pressure canning.

Remember that the months may vary a bit based on your latitude and hemisphere.


Dried beans are a meat-free protein that have a long storage life, which means you can always have them on hand.  When you first shuck the beans, allow them to dry thoroughly.  I like to throw all of them in the dehydrator (on one of the fruit leather sheets, to keep from slipping through the holes) overnight to make sure they are good and dried.  You don't want to open your jars down the line and find a moldy mess!  Once they are dried, if you store them properly, they should be good for several years in your pantry.  Bear in mind that the longer they sit on the shelf, the longer they will take to cook later.  To keep dried beans as fresh as possible, store them in food-safe storage containers with tight-fitting lids.  Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.  (Cooking tip: If beans have been sitting on the shelf for more than a year, add ¼ tsp of baking soda to each pound of beans, when you cook them, to soften them.)

Having meats pre-cooked is a big draw for busy moms, but they get expensive at the store.  Look for locally-raised meats, and try to put up a variety.  Meats vary in how they need to be preserved, but generally cooking them and pressure canning will cut down on a good deal of time.  Here's a great post to help you learn to can just about any meat.  By having the meat pre-prepped, you can toss it in with some rice, quinoa, or pasta, and canned veggies for a quick warm up on the stove.

If you want to have the soups completely made and ready-to-eat, you'll definitely need a pressure canner to safely preserve them.  When you're canning the soup, just put in the basic ingredients - you can add a thickener when you cook it.  The same goes for grains - they will need to be added at the time of heating.  You'll just want the meat, vegetables, and broth.  You can also preserve basic broth this way, with nothing else in it.  It can be added to any casserole, soup, sauce or even just a basic rice pot for added protein.  Check out the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for individual pressure canning times and temperatures.

Planted in the fall, root vegetables have had time to size up and are ready to be harvested and preserved.  Carrots and beets may be fresh, while potatoes will most likely be the leftovers of last year's crop, so check for firmness.  This is a more advanced project that will require a pressure canner.  Here are detailed instructions for each of the different root vegetables to ensure success!

Herbs can easily be dried and preserved for use cooking throughout the year.  This is a good project to do with children, and is the natural extension of starting an herb garden.  If you want to turn herbs into a science unit study, check out Teaching Kids About Herbs.  In this year-long course, you'll learn about many herbs!  Each month, your child will learn about a new herb and how to use it.

Jams and preserves are one of the easiest things to preserve, and they are a yummy way to experience summer in the dead of winter.  Most berries are highly perishable, so making jam is the perfect form of preservation.  Jam is made with mashed fruit, while preserves have whole berries and pieces of fruit in them.  Beginners will be happy to hear that you can make these with three ingredients (berries, pectin, and sugar), and they don't have to be pressure canned.  Here's a quick video tutorial.

Cucumbers can be...overwhelming.  So much so that one year I actually cheered when the pig tore up the vines because we still had tons of pickles leftover from the year before!  Pickles are about the easiest thing to can, and what I generally recommend beginners start on.  There are several different varieties to play around with, and you can also try out chow-chow and relish.  Vinegar, pickling spices, and cucumbers -- easy peasy!

Tomatoes...if you grow them then you know that once they begin appearing on the vine, they start coming in fast and furious.  It can feel like you're drowning in tomatoes at times!  Some canned tomatoes can be water bathed, while others need to be pressurized.  Be sure to check the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for specific information on what you want to use them to make.  We make a lot of spaghetti sauce and salsa because those two items compliment our meal preferences.  We also like to dehydrate cherry tomatoes to use as salad toppers.  If you're feeling adventurous, go for a gourmet catsup or barbecue sauce!

If you have beehives, or access to a local apiary, then you know there's nothing quite like wild honey.  It's a cure-all and notable for it's amazing ability to help with seasonal allergies.  Honey will last several years if properly stored.  You will want to put it in an airtight container kept in a cool, dark place.  It's a little trickier to store the honey with the honeycomb in it because sometimes it has moisture content you may be unaware of, and that affects the storage.  The honeycomb may also cause your honey to crystallize faster.  However, the honeycomb is excellent!  If you want to store comb in your honey, read more here.

Fall is a fantastic time to pick up bulk boxes of apples, and to make your house smell heavenly with the smell of them turning into applesauce and apple butter.  Both of these can be water bath canned and are good for beginners.  Apple pie filling is a little more complicated, but can also be water bathed and is perfect for a quick and easy dessert.  You can use the core and peelings, too, to make apple cider vinegar!

Pumpkin is my favorite fruit, and "pumpkin spice season" my favorite time of year!  Each year, we plant several pumpkins and use them throughout the year in pies, pumpkin breads, and even in cookies.  It's also pretty low-maintenance.  You can keep it on the pantry floor at room temperature, and it will last several months.  However, it requires a bit more for processing as it's not safe to can pureed pumpkin, so we typically roast the pumpkins in the oven, scoop the puree, and freeze it in quart sized bags.  If you absolutely must can your pumpkin (no freezer space), please follow these instructions and be safe.

After Thanksgiving, you can usually pick up fresh cranberries at a decent price.  Most of us don't live near cranberry bogs, but if you do, grab some local ones.  You can preserve cranberries in small batches for condiments, smoothie mixes, and even your holiday side dishes.  These can be frozen or canned.  Our favorite thing to do with these is make cranberry juice!

You may also be interested in....

Pick up the Homemaking & Homesteading Bundle in our Cottage Shoppe!  

The bundle includes twenty-four tutorials with background information for anyone who is interested in homemaking and homesteading. Topics are broken down into:
  • In the Kitchen – Fall & Winter
  • In the Kitchen – Spring & Summer
  • Around the Homestead – Inside
  • Around the Homestead – Outside
For more great homesteading fun, check out the Homesteading Course at SchoolhouseTeachers!

This homeschool homesteading course is designed for anyone who has a desire to live more independently and prepare much of what is needed each day using their own hands. In this elective course, the student can learn how to work for what they want by making it themselves, instead of participating in an “on demand” society. Homeschool students of all ages learn patience, along with the skills needed to make their own cleaners for the home, sunscreen, homemade ketchup and dry mixes, as well as how to choose animals and prepare for emergencies, and much more. Learning the patience and usefulness of “doing it yourself” can be immensely helpful not only in the sense of living a healthier life, but also for the budget!

Wednesday, August 3

Best Kid's Books about Survival

Recently, there has been a rise in the popularity of survival-based books for children.  Our boys were definitely drawn to these more rough and tumble types of books, but they're not just for boys.  Here are some of our favorite survival books for youth...

Why read survival books?  

Where these life skills were once a part of everyday life, kids today have to be taught survival skills, and you know that we love teaching through literature!  We prefer the classic survival stories, but dystopian literature has its place, too, in teaching these skills.

What skills?

Emergency preparedness, cooking, woodcarving, gardening, camping, first aid...I feel like I'm listing Boy Scout badges here, but these are all life skills that kids need to learn.  We've also selected books for herbal remedies and outdoor cooking.

What survival books would you add to this list?

For more literature resources, check out SchoolhouseTeachers! It includes all classes, for all grades…and it’s one price for the entire family. There are many different learning styles to select from, so if you have one visual kid who needs a relaxed pace and one aural kid who needs a more stringent pace, there are classes that will fit them each. With over 475 classes available, plus extras for mom and dad, this is my favorite resource to offer new families wanting to dip their toe into homeschooling! 

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Hands-On Learning

For hands-on learning, we also recommend the Craftsman Crate.  These subscription boxes aren't your run-of-the-mill 'read a bit, do a bit' projects.  They are in-depth, hands-on experiences.  Since the subscription's inception, we've done wood burning, wood carving, calligraphy, and metal working.  This month, however - as you'll see in the unboxing - got the "Coolest Kit Ever!" award.  The boxes are designed to teach artisan skills, such as those your grandfather or great-grandfather would have learned, and it's one of the best boxes for teens currently out there.

Get the skinny on these projects here.

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Monday, August 1

9th & 12th Grade Curriculum Reveal

It's that time of the year again! Maybe it's because I'm a TK (Teacher's Kid), or maybe it's just because I'm weird....but the back-to-school sales and smell of new books always make me happy. This year, we've got two high schoolers...the house is full of hormones happiness....

Morning Basket (Together Time)

Since as far back as we can remember (which is to say, since the first kid was born), we've started our days with a little bit of reading together time. Now that they're teens, I see no reason to stop this tradition. We just change the book selections!

Seriously though, your teen might grumble that it's not cool to read together with his little siblings and his mom, but inside, he's truly loving it. Here lately, I've been reading aloud while the boys eat breakfast.  They're teens, and they're sleeping in later than usual, so this is a gentle way to start the day.  

And can we just step back for a moment and reflect on the blessing that homeschool affords us with that flexibility to sleep in?  So many teens have to stumble through their early morning classes before their brains, biologically, are even capable of fully functioning.  I like knowing that that extra hour or two gets them good sleep, boosting their immunity and helping them to start the day off right!

Morning Basket Read-Alouds

These are the books we'll be reading aloud together this year.  With it being the senior year for one, we are revisiting some of our favorite read-alouds from our early years of homeschooling...

Once this time is done (usually a couple of chapters), we have a quick rundown of the day. Sometimes this is a quick once-over of their daily assignments. Other times, it's a reminder that we have appointments or a field trip or something special going on.

Ninth Grade Curriculum

As our youngest enters high school, it's natural to step back and reflect upon all the years we've been's the end of an era.  No more littles or even middle schoolers.  This is our special needs baby, and it's been quite an accomplishment - from him, from us, and from our helpers - to see him standing on the precipice of this moment!  

This year, he'll be enrolled at Sparks Academy, which will be fantastic for that peer interaction component, in the following classes:

Here in the home, he'll be working through:

Twelfth Grade Curriculum

The vast majority of this senior year will be completed through dual enrollment classes at a nearby college.  It may seem like a heavy load, but you  have to remember that this is our history kiddo.  For the history and geography courses, they are classes he's just required to take to move forward.  His DE schedule (over two semesters) includes:

  • World History 1
  • World History 2
  • Calculus
  • Introduction to Engineering
  • Design Principles
  • Physical Geography w/ Lab

At home, he'll be completing:

He'll also be completing CLEP tests for Psychology and Western Civilization 1 & 2.  Some of these he has been working on over the summer between junior and senior years.  

WHY is he doing so much classwork?  Well, once he has completed his senior year, he will be only seven credits shy of an Associate's Degree.  Being able to graduate high school having nearly completed that two-year degree is huge!  It will help him financially, too, as he moves forward with his career path, possibly transferring into a four-year school.  Like so many teens, he has struggled with the decisions of what his future age-old issue made more complicated recently by the pandemic and state of the union.

Naturally, there's sure to be some adjustments throughout the year.  We're hoping to supplement our studies with a few nice, long roadschooling trips as well!  Here's to a fantastic new year!

Looking for a different grade?  Check out our preview curricula reveals!

This is part of our series - Five Days of Homeschooling Teens.  Read the whole series...