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Interesting China Facts

In prepping to teach the Littles all things China next year, I have been learning a lot myself.  Today my favorite thing about homeschooling is that so often while planning what to teach them I find myself learning things I didn’t know or re-learning things I forgot.  In the case of China, I’m having trouble remembering if I learned more about it in school than where it is, that it is a communist country, and that it is shrouded in mysticism.

In my desire to teach the Littles ever so much more than that, I have found some seriously interesting facts about China that I wanted to share.  If you already know them, forgive my ignorance.  If you don’t, I hope you are as awed by them as I am.

1. China has been a cohesive nation for nearly 4,000 years.  That makes the United States look like a baby, no?  Imagine having a culture that dates back 4,000 years.  Here in the melting pot, we have to reach out to our ancestors to find that, and often we don’t find any real connection to it.  No wonder so many Chinese people honor tradition the way they do.

2. China spans five time zones, but the entire third-largest-country-in-the-world now runs on a single time zone (UTC+06:00).  This is so completely fascinating to me.  Talk about being cohesive.  Imagine if was 7:51 right now on both the east and the west coast, not just here in the middle of the U.S.  It would have gotten light way too early in Bangor, Maine, and wouldn’t get light until way late in L.A.  But we would all know when to call each other without having to think about it!

3. We think of the Himalayas when we think of China, but nearly 1/3 of the country is covered in mountains. That’s a lot of mountains.  Considering China’s size, that means about 1.235 million square miles of mountains.  You read that right.  Million.  Whoa.

4. China’s topography ranges from rainforests in the south to deserts in the north.  North?  That’s close to Russia, right?  And all that Siberia stuff?  And there are deserts there?!

5.  Not only that, but the Gobi Desert is the 5th largest desert in the world.  That might not sound impressive until you realize that two of the larger deserts are polar deserts and so don’t really count.  (Just kidding, but really, how often do we think of Polar Deserts when we think of deserts?)  So the Sahara and the Arabian are the only two hot deserts that are bigger than the Gobi.  In the same country that has 1.235 million square miles of mountains And rainforests.  Impressive.

6. The Grand Canal, which connects the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers, is the longest man-made river in the world.  Even more impressive?  Parts of it date back to the 5th Century B.C.  B.C!  Whaaaa?  That’s what happens when you have a millenia-long history.  Your stuff sticks around and you keep using it.

I have always been fascinated by China.  Now I am amazed by it.  And I haven’t even started putting together the history portion of our program.  Stay tuned… I bet this gets Really Interesting.

Love wins,

KT

Top Ten Favorite Homeschool Blogs

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As promised, today I’m going to tell you about my top 10 favorite homeschool blogs.  Once more, these aren’t the only blogs I follow and they are in no particular order.  This is just a list of the ones I use most frequently.

1. A Homeschool Mom Cristina’s blog is full of encouragement and ideas for homeschooling mamas.  It is well-written and -organized.  There is a great series on the blog called ‘Homeschooling 101’ that offers great advice to new homeschool parents.

2. Stories of Our Boys April’s blog is amusing and upbeat, even when she is writing about issues that aren’t so happy.  She offers info on homeschooling, childhood epilepsy, photography, recipes…. Just check it out; you’ll love her sunshine-y approach to life.

confession3. Confessions of a Homeschooler Erica is the author of a book called Homeschooling 101.  She does us other mamas the favor of blogging about her curricula every year along with her schedule so we can get ideas from this homeschooling genius. Other points of interest include crafts and free printables.  Eric also has a store from which she sells science, geography, literature and other unit studies.

4. Bloke School  I just found this one recently, and I’m already hooked.  David gives us mamas a fresh look at homeschooling–from Dad’s point of view.  He’s based in Australia, so some of the laws and financial stuff doesn’t apply here in America, but the site is super well-written and full of posts that really make me think, as a teacher, about how I can make the lessons deeper for my Littles.  And since I only have boys, advice from a man is invaluable.

Penelope Trunk5. Penelope Trunk Penelope’s blog about homeschooling always makes me think.  She posts about things like how to make sure your unschooled child is really learning, how video games can be beneficial, continuing to homeschool if you go back to work… Lots of encouragement and sound advice.  My favorite quote: “I homeschool because it seemed to me that it was like breastfeeding: Of course it’s the best thing to do for the kids, it’s just difficult.”   She also offers curriculum advice.

YRHHeader6. Year Round Homeschooling  This is a place where many homeschool moms blog about a variety of homeschool subjects.  I spend a lot of time on this blog, because I can anything from encouragement to unit studies to freebies and there is such a variety of authors that I never get bored.  They also provide a daily list of free ebooks.

Top 10 Favorite Educational Sites

Big Bird And Snuffy Meme | TOP TEN EDUCATIONAL SITES | image tagged in memes,big bird and snuffy | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Because I’m in the planning stages of a whole new homeschool year and since I promised to bring you along with me, I thought it would be helpful to share my favorite places to go when I need a little help getting our curriculum together.  These are in no particular order, and nothing is on the list that I don’t use with frequency.

CurrClick.com - Curriculum in a click! Homeschooling resources, lapbooks, and afffordable curriculum

1. Currclick Currclick is an amazing site where many different curriculum publishers sell their worksheets, ebooks, unit studies, and the like.  Each publisher offers freebies and most of the products are well-priced.  They also offer live classes in almost every subject, especially handy if you want your homeschoolers to learn something you’re not comfortable teaching, like a foreign language. Another interesting offer from Currclick is the free clubs, including Lego Club, American Girl Club and Magic Treehouse Club.  Once you sign up, you get a library where all your downloads are kept indefinitely with no limit to how many times you can download a product once you’ve purchased it.

Scholastic Teachers Express Store2. Scholastic Teacher Express Scholastic isn’t just for public school teachers.  I can’t tell you how much it helped when we were doing American history last year.  This site also offers ebooks and worksheets for sale.  Several times a year they have a $1 sale on tons of their products. Even though their regular prices are doable, I stock up during those sales.  The only drawback is that you have only three opportunities to download a product once you’ve purchased it.  I usually save them to a flash drive at purchase so I don’t have to worry about it.

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3. School Express offers over 17,000 free worksheets.  If you’re looking for a worksheet to supplement your schooling, this is a good place to go.  My favorite thing about this site, hands down, is the free create-your-own-worksheet option.  There are several different types of worksheets you can create including spelling lists, word puzzles, word searches, and quizzes.  They are awesome to use for spelling practice.

TeachersPayTeachers

4. TeachersPayTeachers Here’s a site where teacher-generated worksheets and ebooks are for sale.  Because they are created by teachers, you can be pretty sure they’ve been tested on students already and found to be successful.  If you sign up for their newsletter, you receive links to 10 free downloads a week.  Often I find just what I’m looking for among those freebies.  The prices range from free to over $10, and every subject is covered.

The Old Schoolhouse Family

5. The Old Schoolhouse  This site is aimed specifically toward homeschoolers.  It is a font of knowledge, advice, and encouragement.  I eagerly look forward to the quarterly magazine.  I have mentioned them before because it was here I found a great source for Middle about becoming a video game designer.  Their store offers a variety of products on every subject imaginable.

logo6. EarthSky Although this site doesn’t offer ebooks or worksheets, it is so full of information about Earth and space, I would be lost without it.  It has some of the most beautiful photos and interesting articles I’ve ever seen.  When we studied astronomy I used it daily.  Two years later, we still read the newsletter every day to keep up with what’s going on both in our world and out in space.  The store does offer some cool stuff, like planispheres (tools for locating constellations), an astronomy kit, and an atlas of the sky.

Writing with Sharon Watson-Easy-to-use Homeschool Writing Curriculum

7. Writing with Sharon Watson Sharon offers writing courses that can be a big help if you’re struggling with how to teach your child how to be a good writer, but perhaps even more helpful, she offers free middle- and high school-level prompts that are Amazing.  If you really want your child to dig a little deeper when practicing his writing, utilize this site.  Sharon also blogs about homeschooling and writing, so make sure to check out her great advice!

8. Enrichment Studies This site offers composer studies, artist studies, art appreciation, and biographies.  In short, it is a deep humanities well from which all children should drink.  The products are well-written and -researched, and there is no expiration on downloads once you’ve made a purchase.  They often offer freebies and discounts.  In fact, through June 6, they are offering a free Women Artists of the Renaissance to new newsletter subscribers.  It’s a beautiful collection, so be sure to sign up!  Erica also blogs about fine art, so check that out, too.

The Art Curator for Kids

9. The Art Curator for Kids I adore this site, I’m not going to lie.  Cindy is an online art teacher, and her site is filled with brilliant information about art and how to appreciate and accomplish it.  It is an invaluable resource, and Cindy’s passion for it makes it even more interesting.  She offers free worksheets, printables, and powerpoints to help you guide your children through the world of visual arts.  If you’re teaching art at any level, you have to check out this site!

10. Barefoot Ragamuffin/Barefoor Meandering This site offers homeschool curricula based on the classical approach and the Charlotte Mason approach.  My favorite (of course) is English Lessons through Literature. I’ve often mentioned how expanding your child’s reading will expand vocabulary and grammatical usage, and this product offers a way for you to guide your child through those lessons.  But check out Kathy’s site yourself, she offers some of the most beautiful freebies in her newsletter.  Be sure to sign up; my article on adding literature to your nature study will appear in the June 2 edition.

Whew.  Those are not nearly all the sites I use in planning.  Check back tomorrow to read about my Top 10 Favorite Homeschool Blogs.

Do you have any favorite educational sites?  If so, please share them in the comments. Not only will it help your fellow readers, you might know one I’ve never heard of.  And you know I could Always use a little help!

Love wins,

KT

Bless the Mamas

It is a beautiful, warm summer morning.  The doves are cooing, the geese honking, the rooster crowing.  The locust trees are in full bloom, their purple scent wafting across the yard and fields and filling me up.  The mama rabbits are suckling their babies.  The mama dove sits placidly on her nest.  The mama goose leads her gosling around the pond.

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This mama is quietly pondering.  Her babies are still abed, dreaming of how to spend this summer day.  There will be plenty of laughter (there always is), a few squabbles (there always are), and movement, movement, movement.  But right now, before the sun fully tops the trees, they are quiet and still.  And I cannot stop thinking, with Mother’s Day coming up, about how blessed I am.

littles in hats

See, I get to watch these two amazing beings grow, hopefully into young men as wonderful as Big, who see the world through bright eyes, develop strong friendships, face their responsibilities, and love with abandon.  I have gotten to be with them since their very conception.  I knew their personalities before they were born.  I was the first voice they heard, and the first person to hear their voices.  I am the first person they come to in need, and the person who needs them more than anyone.

I love being a mother.  I love the responsibility of it, the joy of it, the lessons I have learned from raising children.  I love that I still get to see the world through a child’s eyes, and that I get to show the Littles the world through my eyes.  There is nothing like the moment when Middle comes to me out of the blue and says, “Mama, I’m going to hug you.”  At 12, he is bigger than me, so he has to warn me or he chances knocking me over.  Or in the late evening, when all the chores are done and we sit down as a family and Littlest curls upkota at IU beside me, his feet tucked under him, his legs curled up against mine.  He doesn’t make a thing of it; he’s 10 and so maybe should have outgrown the habit by now.  I marvel that he hasn’t, so I don’t make a thing of it, either.  I just savor.  I can’t get over the excitement of being their teacher, and how it is more fulfilling than any other job I’ve had.  Sometimes I wish it would never end.  I love that teaching is another role I get to play for them.  Big came to visit yesterday, and I got to enjoy the closeness he and I have always shared.  For the first 8 years of his life it was me and him against the world, and that bond is a very special one.  He still talks to me like I am his friend as well as his mama.  I still talk to him like he is my friend as well as my son.  But now I get to enjoy the man he has become, which adds a new richness to my love for him.

mom bday clothes

Thinking about the things I enjoy about motherhood makes me think of my own mama.  My mama is one amazing woman.  The biggest lesson she taught me was that the world may fall apart around you, but you will come out okay as long as your kids know you love them.  She was a single mama of three kids, and she worked hard to make sure we never realized how hard she had to work to keep us going.  I swear, I was 12 years old before I realized we were poor.  We were latch-key kids back when that was a thing, and it made the bond between my siblings and me strong enough that our friendships have withstood lots of hardships and disagreements.  But I remember when mama would come home from work.  She must have been exhausted but she didn’t even rest; she started dinner.  And when it was done we sat at the table together and ate and talked about our days.  She was genuinely interested in us, and we in her.  I never doubted that my mama loved me more than the moon and the stars, or that she would do anything within her power to make me happy.

I don’t doubt it now.  The most important thing to her, Ever, is that her kids know she loves them.  And we do, Mama.  We do.

So while I disagree with the whole Hallmark-ishness of it all, I’m glad there’s a day to celebrate motherhood.  I’m glad to get the chance to tell my mama why I love her and to be reminded by my own kids why they love me.  But mostly I’m glad for the chance to reflect on all the mamas I know, be they stay-at-homes, working mamas, or something in between (like my bff who rocks both motherhood and running her own business from home).  I’m grateful for the chance to acknowledge all the mamas everywhere who work hard every single day.

Just to make sure their kids know, without doubt, that they love them.

Because, after all,

Love wins,

KT