Tuesday, December 27

Word of the Year 2023 - Self-Sufficient

Each year, we choose a Word of the Year...something to focus on energies on for the upcoming year.  It's akin to the New Year Resolution, but less of an actual task than a change in mindset.  For 2023, we selected Self-Sufficiency.  While this is something we've been working on for a while, we've decided it's time to put just a little more energy into this goal...

Previous words of the year include:

You can visit each of these to pick up resources and ideas for incorporating those principles and goals into your home.

Homestead Skills

Good planning is essential to a successful vegetable garden. Vegetables have specific requirements, and you must choose your site carefully to ensure a bountiful harvest. Get to Planning Your Productive Home Garden, and follow the basics.  

Want to take it a step further, or spruce up your front yard?  In Raised Beds & Pallet Planters, you'll get step-by-step instructions for unique planters!

Canning, freezing, and drying -- do you know which is best for each food?  Learn to put up your harvest (or bulk buys) in Home Preservation Basics.

At one time, most children learned Basic Outdoor Skills, but now we have to seek opportunities for teaching them.  Don't let another year go by without incorporating these simple tasks into your homeschool.

Whether you have a hobby-homestead, are a frugal momma, or just spent a lot of time with the 'Greatest Generation,' re-purposing is a simple fact of life.  Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!  These Repurposing Ideas for the Homestead will help you to save money, do a little recycling, and even bring a personal flair to your home!

Immunity is affected by daily habits, lifestyle choices, and exposure to toxins.  Your immune system doesn't just help prevent you from catching colds, but also prevents against things like cancer.  Maintaining a healthy immune system should be top priority all year long, not just during cold and flu season...learn more in Immune Boosting Herbs.

Animals, outbuildings, pipes...all of these things need tending to and don't just wait for better weather.  But be smart about it and follow these tips from Winter Safety on the Homestead.  All I can say is, on cold winter days, I'm so glad we don't homestead closer to the Arctic!

Unit Studies (not just for kids!)

In the Farming & Ranching for Teens curriculum, we've pulled together books, videos, and hands-on projects covering both animal husbandry and agriculture.  We start out by covering the difference between farming and ranching and how the work of these folks affects you everyday, such as in the grocery store.

The My Side of the Mountain novel study features Sam, runs away to the wilderness to escape his family.  He is tested and discovers strength and self-confidence.  Today, the Boy Scouts teach survival skills in their Wilderness Survival badge.

Herb studies combine both science and life skills.  In The Secret Garden novel study, students learn to start and maintain an herb garden, as well as the uses for each plant.

In the Willa and the Wood novel studyyou and your students will learn about foraging for plants and basic herb uses.

Download and print the Farming Book List to incorporate agricultural wisdom into your homeschool.  This list includes both fiction and non-fiction books.

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 the Best Kids' Books About Survival.

Eat In Tonight

It may take some adjustments in your shopping and cooking habits, but eating real food (and not nuking it in the microwave) is so much healthier for you!  Your body will appreciate the difference, and after a little bit your mood will improve as you begin to feel more energized.

We use the crockpot to throw together dinners quickly at night.  A bit of prep work, toss it in the pot in the morning, and it's ready to go in the evening!  We also do freezer cooking, so that healthy homemade meals are possible when time is short.  It takes a day of prep (or sometimes, a few hours here and there spread over several days), but is so very worth it.  Does that mean we never eat out or grab something fast?  Nope.  Everything in moderation....
A Slow-Cooked Year
This book includes : the whats and whys behind crockpot cooking, how-to tips and tricks, safe crockpot guidelines, printable planning sheets, and more than thirty seasonally-appropriate, kid-friendly recipes!
Another Year of Freezer Cooking
For anyone who wants to get a leg up on getting healthy meals on the family table, without much fuss...this book includes : the whats and whys behind freezer cooking how-to tips and tricks pantry freezing guidelines, printable planning sheets more than thirty seasonally-appropriate, kid-friendly recipes!

Courses & Resources

I cannot say enough about the Homestead Education curriculum!  Introduction to Homestead Science covers the art and science of homesteading in a full year science curriculum. There is daily reading and vocabulary, additional research projects, hands on projects both short and long term, and applied mathematics. Being an introductory course, there are some topics that are covered more in depth than others.  

Peek through the photos here and you'll see that it is multi-modal and incorporates all the subjects!! My son is using it this year, but mom is learning alongside him as well. There's always something new to learn in the homestead life. There's a curriculum for Little Learners as well (preschool / elementary). Use code RANGE10 to save an extra 10%!

One of our favorite courses at SchoolhouseTeachers is the Homesteading course! If you’ve ever wanted to ditch the chemicals in your household cleaners, can what you grow or purchase at a farmer’s market, make your own gifts and candles, or learn how to do things the natural way, you need to see the Homesteading class.

This ongoing course shares tips and detailed instructions that can enable you and your family to live more simply and naturally. Printables and some how-to videos are included with these weekly lessons...and it's all included with the 350+ other courses offered at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

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

The Permaculture Student includes:

  • Private Community Facebook Group for Students
  • Unlimited Access to the Video Library
  • Includes eBook versions of The Permaculture Student 1 textbook & workbook
  • Hands-On Projects with Step-by-Step Directions & Video
  • Open & self-paced course. Start anytime, take your time & enjoy the design!
  • What you will learn:
    • Permaculture Design - homes, landscapes, society, businesses & more
    • Pattern Literacy
    • Reading the Landscape
    • Seed-to-Table Cooking
    • Earthworks
    • Seed Saving
    • Composting, Compost Tea, & Extract!
    • Food Preservation & Storage

DIY - Do It Yourself

Instead of getting desperate and spraying on commercial bug sprays, consider a better alternative... a Homemade Bug Repellant that smells wonderful, is effective, and takes only minutes to whip up!

For the price of one bottle of elderberry syrup at the store, you could make ten to fifteen times that amount at home! Homemade Elderberry Syrup is super easy, and anyone can make it.

Organic pecan butter is one of my favorite treats. It's also $18 per teeny-tiny jar.  I love to eat well, but I'm also cheap, so here is our recipe for Homemade Pecan Butter.

Making Homemade Mustard is simple and easy.  When making your own mustard, you can tailor it to your family's tastes, making it milder or spicier, and add herbs and spices to mix it up.

Another cost-cutting DIY is Homemade Fire Cider & Kombucha!  Get all the benefits for a fraction of the price.

Working out in the heat of summer can take its toll on your body!  Learn how to make Homemade Electrolyte Drinks, and skip the chemicals. (As an aside, I've also had friends and family use the replenishment drink as part of colonoscopy prep, with good results.)

What's your family's word of the year?  We want to know!

Make this year YOUR year! This reusable calendar features monthly at-a-glance pages and weekly pages with space for notes and planning. Each week also has a habit tracker grid to help keep the momentum going with your new habits! Just print and reuse each year for your planner.

Monday, December 19

Fostering Critical Thinking Skills in Teens {FREE Download}

Last year, we discovered the Tuttle Twins resources, and have been using them to introduce government and economics concepts.  We were inspired to try out the more upper level series, Guide To..., for our teens.  This illustrated, hardback series of books for pre-teens and teenagers (and adults!) introduces critical thinking, logic, entrepreneurship, hard work, standing up for what is right, and much more! 

Visit Exploring Government & Finance to see more about the elementary series.

There are four books in the series, each with multiple lessons that are direct, concise, and help students relate concepts to their daily lives.  This set is a natural progression from the original series into more advanced concepts.  Two of the books are designed to make students think about thinking and thought processes.  The other two books are motivational and inspirational in nature, showing examples of people who trudged through difficult times to make a difference in the world.

Unlike the original series, Ethan and Emily (the Tuttle Twins) aren't the main focus of the books, but they do make regular appearances.  With all four books, each chapter addresses one concept or person, with a visual introduction and a short lesson.  In the bias and fallacy books, there are some real-world examples and thinking scenarios as well.  One main lesson that runs through all of the Tuttle Twins books is the focus on personal responsibility, individual freedoms, and limited government.

These books are a fantastic introduction to a variety of concepts, and we decided to adopt them for a year-long elective course.  For the purposes of rounding out the series to create a full-year class, we've also added a few videos and the book, Fallacy Detective.  If you want to download the free curriculum guide to use in your homeschool, just scroll down!

What's included in the set?

  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Courageous Heroes
    • Daring men and women aren’t just found in the pages of fictional stories. In fact, history offers us a number of examples of people who stood up for what was right in the face of significant opposition. Their stories can inspire us to also be courageous when the situation calls for it.  Whether the problem is a large one, like a dictatorial state or a cultural prejudice, or a small one, such as standing up to a bully, we can resolve to be a hero and fight for what is right.  That’s why the stories in this book are so impactful—they offer us an opportunity to learn lessons from the lives of a wide variety of people and ponder how we might have acted in a similar situation.  These heroes often stand out because so many of their peers failed to act likewise. Sadly, too few seem to have the courage to oppose something that is wrong. But these stories can help us prepare to be counted as someone who will choose the right!
  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Logical Fallacies
    • In a society where countless ideas are being shared, debated, and analyzed, it’s more important than ever to sift out the good ones from among the bad ones. And when people you respect and trust use arguments that sound persuasive, how can you determine if they are correct?  One of the most commonly used methods of spreading misinformation is the use of a logical fallacy—a bad argument that makes something seem truthful that actually might not be. These types of arguments are used repeatedly, and there are many different types.  Fortunately, these logical fallacies can be learned, so they can be avoided. Armed with this information, you’ll be equipped to understand when people are sharing an idea that is wrong or making a claim that isn’t true. You’ll become an expert debater by being able to point out a flaw in an opponent’s argument.  That makes this book dangerous—a guidebook for teenagers and young adults who want to explore the ins and outs of how to win arguments and point out problems in others’ ideas. Use this book wisely!
  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Beware Your Bias
    • We all have them. And we know everyone else does, too. But we avoid thinking about them, even though they affect our thinking deeply. What are they?  They are cognitive biases, and they lead our mind to do things that might not be in our best interest. We are all prone to being affected by them, yet hardly anyone takes the time to learn about them—and how to make sure they don’t have as great an impact on us.  That’s where this guidebook comes in, helping teens and adults learn about each bias so that we can make a concerted effort to not fall prey to their powers. Armed with this information, we can think more clearly, better understand ourselves and others, and make good decisions to benefit our lives.  This is powerful information precisely because so few people seek it. Those who read this book will have an advantage over others who are mentally manipulated without knowing it.
  • The Tuttle Twins Guide to Inspiring Entrepreneurs
    • Throughout history, a certain few people have made risky decisions in an attempt to solve a problem that many people were experiencing, hoping that their new innovation or invention would be able to serve these people and that they—the entrepreneurs, as we call them—would be able to profit in return.  These risk-takers are the key drivers of the economy who create jobs and new products and services that make our lives more comfortable and convenient. The world becomes a better place through their efforts.  But entrepreneurs don’t always succeed. Indeed, their failures teach them powerful (and sometimes hard) lessons that they can learn from. They gain knowledge with each new attempt that makes their future efforts even more fruitful.  Their stories can serve as inspiration as you begin to determine your own path in life and whether being an entrepreneur is part of your journey.

Free - Curriculum Guide for Critical Thinking

This guide is used for an introductory-level course with written components. Students are expected to take notes each day during the reading and do extra research for the writing assignments. The course may be completed independently or family-style, through read-aloud chapters.

Required Resources:

You may also be interested in...

Co-op Classes

Sparks Academy offers two versions of the US Constitution & Government class as part of their online courses. One is a single-semester government course, while the other is a year-long course that also includes a semester of economics and entrepreneurship.

For a peer group setting and /or more structured needs (available for language arts, science, and history)Sparks Academy provides blended classes. These are classes hosted online that include textbook and video elements, discussion feeds with peers, and live, virtual meetings.  Each week, the students are interacting through facilitated discussion in a private forum.  Classes “meet” weekly via shared assignments and moderated discussion during the school year (August 14, 2023 – May 4, 2024 for the ’24-’24 school year).

Monday, December 5

Sweet Taste of the {Moravian} Holiday Season

Old Salem celebrates Christmas the same way the Moravians did over two hundred years ago, with creches, candles, carols, and the lovefeast...

The Moravians were a religious group that left Moravia (present-day Czechoslovakia) and settled in Germany, then started sending missionaries to the New World in the mid-1700s. They came first to Georgia, but ended up in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.  Old Salem, founded in 1766, became a trade center where Moravian craftspeople sold their wares.

Christmastime today is still marked by the traditional lovefeast, with coffee and buns, singing and prayer.  At the end of the love feast, everyone has met and broken bread together to symbolize the brotherhood and unity of man.  The wrapped candles symbolize the light of God shining in the darkness.  While these cookies aren't technically a part of the lovefeast ritual, they are most certainly a taste of Christmas that you will quickly grow to cherish!

Spiced Moravian Cookies

  • 1 qt molasses
  • 3/4 lb shortening
  • 3/4 lb light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp cloves
  • 2 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda
  • 5 lb flour
  • Heat molasses, sugar, and shortening on medium until dissolves together.  Stir continuously.  Do not boil!
  • Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
  • Sift spices and baking soda to remove lumps, then stir into molasses mixture.  (Foam may occur; this is ok)  Let mixture cool.
  • Add flour into mixture a bit at a time, thoroughly mixing.  Cover and store dough overnight in refrigerator.
  • Flour a hard surface.  Turn out dough and knead until it is shiny and smooth.
  • Heat oven to 225 F.
  • Pull off a small piece of dough and roll with a rolling pin until it is so thin you can see through it.  Cut with cookie cutter, if desired.
  • Place onto greased cookie sheet.  Repeat with all the dough.  Bake 8-10 min.

Love Feast Resources