Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Learning Activities

I just want to share with you a few learning activities that are Halloween themed. Keep in mind that we are new to homeschooling and our son is only 2. I hope there is something here beneficial to you.

1. Write/ Spell pumpkin and other Halloween Words

2. Make a Jack-O-Lantern with shapes

3. Make Jack-O-Lantern mask or puppet

4. Read Halloween themed books

5. Count pumpkins

6. Finger paint with orange

7. Color pictures with orange and black

Here are some snap shots of our Halloween lessons.

We colored with orange, green, and black - while we said the colors. He likes copying, so he is getting better at coloring when we color together.

I also cut shapes out of card stock to make a jack-o-lantern. I put glue on the shapes and he put them where he wanted them. it was really fun and looks great!

Making The Decision

My husband and I knew from the time we were pregnant that we would have a hard decision to make in our son's first few years. We had several discussions about our options for his education, but didn't rush the decision. After all, we had plenty of time...

One day, I was on Facebook and many of my friends were discussing their children starting or returning to school. My first reaction was being thankful that I wasn't faced with that yet. Then, I realized our son would be 2 soon and we really only had about a year to make a final decision. That day, I started researching and requesting information on my options. When my husband got home from work that evening, I told him we needed to make a decision and we could discuss it the following weekend.

We were at the lake that weekend and I brought up the discussion.

ME: Are we sending the little guy to school or homeschooling (Private school is not an option, but that is another post)
DH: Are you up for homeschooling?
ME: Heck yes!!!
DH: Then we will homeschool.

We sighed together with relief. I think we both knew this would be the final call from the beginning. That afternoon, I dove in. I researched the laws, organizations, benefits, possible setbacks, and preschool curriculum. I am still not finished with my research, but we are actively homeschooling our very smart 2 year old.

Our top 10 reasons for homeschooling:

  1. No one is more committed to his success as a person than his parents
  2. There is too much politics in schools and not enough caring
  3. I don't want someone I do not know spending more time with my son than me
  4. I am lucky enough to have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom, why not take that a step further and teach hi too. 
  5. There is nothing I will not do for my son,  what teacher can say that about their students
  6. I would rather him learn about an ecosystem in the woods behind our house than in a classroom. 
  7. There is nothing a school can give him that I cannot. There are plenty of things I can give him that a school cannot. 
  8. I am so sick of politicians threatening to remove art programs from schools. Education is not the place to cut back. 
  9. Education is about more than is written in books. Education is about life. 
  10. One on one education is better for the mind than 36 to one. 
Note to teachers: I know a lot of you and you are amazing. You are the heart of the schools. I have had many teachers that made a huge difference in my life. I thank all of my previous teachers for helping to mold me into the person I am. Teachers are not the problem. If only teachers ran schools. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why We Will Be Homeschooling

Originally posted on The Palmetto Queen (August 15, 2012)

Since the time my hubby and I found out the prince would make an entrance to our lives, we have struggled with one decision. Would we send him to public school or homeschool? (Private school is out of the question in our area.) We don't want him to miss life lessons children learn in school, but every time I thought about sending him to school, I would start to panic. I have always been taught to trust my gut, but this is a decision that will affect him for the rest of his life.

Pirate Man

We decided that it was time to make the decision. If we want him to go to pre-school, it is almost time to start registering. It quickly became crunch time. My hubby and I analyzed our feelings about school, and were able to quickly come to the conclusion that our gut instinct was the right one.

I first want to discuss the things we find on most lists for pro-homeschooling. These items were no where on our list.

  1. The avoidance of a schedule
  2. Learning at his own pace
  3. Religious views
  4. To shelter him
In fact, we believe in the opposite of these. Here are our thoughts on homeschooling. 

  1. It is important for children to learn routine and a schedule. Routines will follow our children in one form or another their whole lives. If they fail to learn routines and schedules, this will only hinder them when it is time for college or a job. 
  2. Children learning at their own pace is a tricky one. Children learn differently; they should be stimulated and allowed to truly learn lessons- not just pass a test. I also believe that if we expect our children to succeed and have faith in their abilities, we are setting them up for success. 
  3. My religious views have nothing to do with this decision, except for one issue. I don't want someone I barely know teaching my son their religious views, forcing their views on my family, or teaching him moral lessons. That is my job, as his parent. (Yes, this does still happen)
  4. I don't want to shelter my son from cultural or social differences. (One of the reason I don't like private schools.) I do, however, believe I can do a better job at exposing him to social differences than schools can. The only thing I want to shelter him from (until he is older) is the evil in the world. Violence, war, and school shootings should never be discussed in an elementary school classroom. Period. 
The other issue my husband and I have discussed is socializing. We want him to learn to work well with others and build relationships. We came to a few conclusions regarding this. 

  • School is for educating, not socializing and making friends; just like work is for working and not making friends. 
  • My husband and I learned the most valuable lessons about relationships outside of schools. 
  • We do have to make sure he is involved in organizations and activities that involve teamwork and fun socializing.
Being like Daddy!

These are not all of the reasons why we are going with homeschooling. These just happen to be the core reasons. We made this decision because it is what we believe to be best for our family. My husband and I will do whatever it takes to insure our son has all the opportunities available for success. This journey will not be easy, but the rewards will be great. I hope you follow along with our journey. 

I would love to know your reasons for the schooling decisions you have made. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mom Approved: I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD

Originally posted on The Palmetto Queen

When Loving Healing Press asked me to review I'm Not Weird, I Have SPDI couldn't say no. We have decided to home school our little prince, but I still want him to learn some of the things besides basic education that he would learn in public school. I want to shelter him from the evil that is continuously showing up in schools, not from people who are different from him. I saw I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD as a learning resource for him. Just like learning about a different place, books teach amazing things.

Chynna Laird was inspired by her daughter to write I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD. Chynna not only wanted to write this book to help her daughter deal with the emotions that came with Sensory Processing Disorder, but wanted to help the children around her understand it as well. This book is an amazing resource for teachers and parents. Its not always easy to put other's emotions into words, or describe how people feel. Also, children cannot always put these things into perspective for others. 

When I was in college, I was a teacher's aid at a day care. One of the children had SPD. I had no idea what this was and researched it to help me help this child. I never found anything like this. If I had this book at the time, I am sure I could have understood him better and helped him. 

As parents, we can never predict who will be in the class with our children, or who they will make friends with. It is a good idea to learn something about disorders that occur in children so that we can help ours connect and understand the world around them. 

The book teaches children what SPD is, and how it effects those with the disorder. It also helps children who have been diagnosed learn to communicate their feelings. SPD can make children not like being touched, not like certain sounds, tastes, and smells. But, this book can teach children to communicate these feelings and understand that its okay. 

I think I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD can do more than just help understand the disorder. It can also help other children learn to cope with their feelings. Children have to learn to communicate in ways besides screaming and throwing a tantrum. This book can be implemented to help them tell us why they get so upset. 

The book also includes teacher and parent resources at the back with fun activities to further the lessons in the book. I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD would be an amazing resource for any library, classroom, or home. 

Loving Healing Press is offering an additional copy of I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD to my readers. To win it, just comment below and I will draw a name. Let me know why you would like a copy of this book!

A winner will be chosen Friday, August 3, 2012

Disclaimer: I have been given a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.

Words From An Author: Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D.

Originally Posted on The Palmetto Queen

As many of you know, I love to read. I mostly read business books, with occasional brain candy. The problem with that is that its not enough to satisfy my thirst for knowledge. So, I enjoy reading books that are more classical education in nature. That's where Tyler R. Tichelaar and King Arthur's Children come in. 

My love of the Legend of King Arthur began in elementary school and has grown immensely since. The movies and spin offs just feed my obsession. Naturally, when I was given the opportunity to read King Arthur's Children, I had to accept.

Today I’m interviewing Tyler Tichelaar about his book “King Arthur’s Children: A Study in Fiction and Tradition.” Tyler is a long-time enthusiast of the Arthurian legend, as well as a scholar who has a Ph.D. in British literature from Western Michigan University. He is also the author of numerous historical novels including “Spirit of the North: a paranormal romance” and the award-winning “Narrow Lives.” He is currently busy writing a series of Arthurian historical novels. You can find out more about Tyler at his website

Cari: Welcome, Tyler. First of all, tell us how you first became interested in the legend of King Arthur?

Tyler: Hi, Cari. Thanks for having me. I knew about King Arthur since elementary school and had read some children’s versions of the legend, but my interest really grew when I was in ninth grade and read an old copy of Sidney Lanier’s “The Boy’s King Arthur” with N.C. Wyeth’s wonderful illustrations. After that, I couldn’t get enough of King Arthur and read everything I could—Mary Stewart’s novels, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon,” and scholarly works such as those of Geoffrey Ashe. And perhaps most of all, I fell in love with the musical “Camelot.” I had the record of the movie soundtrack which I played over and over to the point where my brother and parents grew sick of hearing it. I still play it almost every day.

Cari: What about the legend captured your attention?

Tyler: I think the sadness that King Arthur had such good intentions but things beyond his control resulted in the downfall of Camelot. Also the sense that anything was possible; the knights go on adventures and meet all kinds of sorceresses, hostile knights, and unexplainable mysteries. Like any boy, I longed for adventure myself.

Cari: What made you decide in writing your book to focus on King Arthur’s children specifically?

Tyler: I came across references to his having children other than Mordred, which surprised me. I was also very interested in genealogy when I started writing the book. I was going to write about Arthur’s many relatives, but narrowed it down just to his children. When I came across Geoffrey Ashe’s suggestion that Arthur was the progenitor of the British royal family and claims by the royal family itself to be descended from Arthur, I wanted to investigate the possibilities. As you read in my book, if King Arthur actually lived, it’s likely everyone of European descent and many others today are descended from him.

Cari: Do you think there may be even more children that you have not found reference to?

Tyler: Oh yes, especially in modern fiction. I have since discovered several novels I missed including, such as Helen Hollick’s powerful “The Kingmaking” and its sequels. I predicted more and more novels would mention King Arthur having children, which has been the case in recent years. I even had one author pay me a real compliment in recently creating an Arthurian descendant in his novel after reading my book. And wait until my own Arthurian series comes out. I’m hoping that the first book will be out in the fall of 2013. As for actual historical children, I think I probably found all the likely references, but it’s possible I missed some; by historical, I mean children who show up in non-modern sources—whether they are historical in the sense that they were real people is questionable and probably impossible to prove since we’re still debating and likely always will debate about whether or not King Arthur was a real person. That said, perhaps I’ll write a second edition someday with all the research and findings I’ve come across since I wrote and published the book.

Cari: As a teenager, I remember reading a reference to Lancelot and asking, “Was he actually Arthur’s son?” Are there hints at this in the main legend that just happen to be overlooked?

Tyler: Hmm, sounds like a great plot for a future novel. It would be interesting if Lancelot were Arthur’s son since he’s in love with Arthur’s wife, Guinevere; a sort of incestuous plot, not unlike ideas that Mordred tried to marry Guinevere. But no, I don’t believe anyone has suggested Lancelot as Arthur’s son. Lancelot is definitely a fictional creation from the eleventh century writer Chretien de Troyes. He has no basis in the earlier Welsh and Celtic stories that Arthur sprang from. Traditionally, Lancelot is depicted as the son of King Ban of Benwick and Queen Elaine.

Cari: Do the modern versions of the legend that create children for Arthur actually rely on the legend or do they just make up children for entertainment?

Tyler: I would say most just make up children, but there are some exceptions. In my own novels I’m writing, I’ve tried to include the Welsh children and other mentions of descendants of Arthur to be faithful to the legends. Other writers like Bernard Cornwell in his Warlord Chronicles included the Welsh children as well. Of course, most writers include Mordred, but the Welsh children of the legends, Llacheu, Gwydre, and Amr, are ignored.

Cari: Can you suggest some specific versions of the legend for my readers to read if they want to learn more about King Arthur’s children?

Tyler: That’s difficult because most of the references are very obscure and I had to piece together a lot of information. I honestly think my book “King Arthur’s Children” is the best starting point for all the references if you are interested specifically in Arthur’s children, but some modern novels that significantly treat Arthur’s children include Vera Chapman’s “King Arthur’s Daughter” and Debra Kemp’s House of Pendragon novels—both create fictional daughters for King Arthur. I already mentioned Bernard Cornwell’s books and Helen Hollick’s books—and I think Elizabeth Wein’s novels, beginning with “The Winter Prince” have quite an interesting take that brings Arthur’s descendants to Africa.

Cari: Do you have any tips for my readers who may want to research classic Arthurian literature and its alternate versions?

Tyler: A lot of universities teach courses in the Arthurian legend, so that would be a good starting point. Anthologies like James Wilhelm’s “The Romance of Arthur” and Peter Goodrich’s “The Romance of Merlin” can introduce you to many early texts. The absolute musts are “The Mabinogion” (Welsh tales that include Arthur in many of them), Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “The History of the Kings of Britain,” Chretien de Troyes’ “The Knight of the Cart,” Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte D’Arthur,” and then among modern texts, most will tell you to read T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King” and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon.” Those books will give a good foundation of the legend. I would recommend a few films as well—“Excalibur,” “Camelot,” and “King Arthur.” I’m always posting book and film reviews on my blog at so you can see my recommendations there as well. Lately, I’ve been reading my way through all the volumes of the Prince Valiant comic strip and writing reviews of them.

Cari: I would love to see your book as a dramatic documentary; are there any plans for this?

Tyler: I’m not sure my book would lend itself to a good documentary, although it does read a bit like a detective story. But there are some good documentaries out there about the Arthurian legend already, including an A&E biography of King Arthur and several by the History channel and others.

Cari: Will you tell us about your King Arthur novels you’re writing?

Tyler: Sure. The first book “King Arthur’s Legacy” will offer quite a unique retelling of the legend, incorporating some rather obscure medieval stories to draw new conclusions about what really happened at Camelot. My main character, Adam Delaney, lives in the modern period but discovers he is descended from King Arthur and learn the true story of what happened at Camelot. From there, in the three successive volumes, I will trace Arthur’s descendants across the ages from the sixth to twenty-first centuries, blending in several other European legends. I think readers will find it fun and epic both. My newest book “The Gothic Wanderer” just went on sale—it’s a study of nineteenth century British Gothic novels, and I mention it because some Gothic elements will work their way into my Arthurian novels as well. Visit my website for updates on the series.

Cari: Thank you, Tyler. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from reading “King Arthur’s Children” and talking to you today.

Tyler: Thank you, Cari. I feel we have to keep the dream of Camelot alive and keep talking about it, and people seem to be more interested in it than ever before so I hope I’ve helped to spur that interest a little.
I am so excited for the release of his novel, and any future Arthurian books.
I have really enjoyed working with Tyler. He has inspired me to study more in depth many legends. He has not only brought my interest in King Arthur back to the surface, but has inspired me to look at the other legends I have found myself loving over the years. I want to find Camelot and prove the legend to be true, even if I do live in my own version of the royal land.

I hope that you all pick up King Arthur's Children and read it. It is enlightening and refreshing. This is definitely a book that will stay in our family library. I cannot wait to teach the prince about King Arthur.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from Modern History Press in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own, I really did enjoy the book.

Mom Approved: Ferdinand Uses the Potty

Originally posted on The Palmetto Queen

I have exciting news for you today. The little Prince is officially potty trained! 
The hardest part after initially getting him to use the potty has been night time. 
The Prince isn't fond of bedtime, so anything that leads up to it is a battle. 
But now, its not; Thanks to this book!

Ferdinand Uses The Potty is about a little yellow frog who wets the bed. Sadly, he is also afraid of the potty because it makes a horrible noise. Ferdinand has a really good friend, a little boy who tells him that the potty is nothing to be afraid of. Ferdinand thinks he can just not go potty, but soon learns that it is something we all have to do. Ferdinand faces his fear so that he doesn't make wet spots in the bed or on the floor. 

My little guy is only 22 months, so he doesn't really understand all that Ferdinand Uses The Potty is about, but he does know what the potty is and what it does. What I do is read him the story while he sits on his potty before bed. The really great part about this is that he loves being read to, so it excites him and he forgets it is almost bedtime. The Prince also loves animals, so seeing the happy yellow frog makes him so giddy, he just laughs all the way through it. 

The author, Jay Tucker, is a husband, father, and youth minister. He lives in Ft. Myers, Florida, with his family. He is the author of several books for adults and children; he is currently working on another book for adults, about youth ministry. 

Whether you are still working on potty training, have hit a snag in the process, or will be potty training in the future, I urge you to get a copy of this book. It will be a great addition to your children's library. 
You can buy Ferdinand Uses The Potty here

That's not all either- I have super amazing news for you guys as well! The publisher has provided me with an additional 2 copies of Ferdinand Uses The Potty by Jay Tucker for lucky Readers!

I am going to do this giveaway a bit differently though! What I want from you is why you would like to win this book. Just comment below and let me know. Do you want it for your students, for your kids who you are potty training, for a child who wets the bed, to donate to a library or school, just let me know. I will announce the winner Wednesday, July 25, 2012.  

Mission Possible: Helping Every Child Succeed

Originally Posted on The Palmetto Queen 

As I have mentioned before, the Mr. and I have recently made the decision to home school the little prince. The reason for this decision is not based on religion or so that he will not have structure. The decision is based on our desire for our son to succeed. Beyond anything else, that's what we want for him. I don't feel that public schools have enough structure. I also believe that when schools/ teachers implement a "no competition" policy or "grading curve" based on the highest test scores, they are setting these children up for failure. I feel the same way about extra credit. My feelings on the public school system can be summed up in a simple statement. The school system needs to expect more out of children.

When I was asked to read Mission Possible, by Eva Moskowitz, I was intrigued and excited. I have known there was something wrong with the public school system (and all schools), but couldn't quite put my finger on it. Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia have successfully put my feelings about schools into words that I was never able to find. 

Eva Moskowitz founded the Success Academies in New York City as a response to the problems she saw in the school system. Moskowitz points out that even our country’s bet private schools cannot compete with the schools in other countries. She sees fundamental problems in the way schools are run, the education possibilities for educators, and the way children are taught. Moskowitz urges our schools to expect more out of children and prepare teachers to continuously improve their skills. She points out that if parents, teachers, administrators, and students (or scholars as they are called at Success Academies) work together, this will happen.

One of the issues Eva Moskowitz discusses as being a problem with the school system is stagnation. “Stagnation, being unable to accomplish one’s job at a high level, is one of the greatest sources of low teacher morale.” This points back to the American culture and how we view teaching. This view has changed so much in the past 400 years.

Here is a mini history lesson for you. In 1636, Harvard College was founded to train teachers and ministers. At the time, doctors were not required to have a degree of any kind. Teachers and ministers were held as the highest profession. I have to thank a teacher who EXPECTED me to succeed for that knowledge. I will never forget that “nugget” of information. This particular teacher took her job seriously and didn’t use a grading curve. She also did not use extra credit.

Fast forward a few years later. It is the first day of my Education 101 course. I am sitting in the School of Education Building classroom with about 25 other students while we wait on the professor. He walked in, wrote a quote on the board, turned around to face the class and asked us what the following quote had to do with education. “Only the true professionals wear robes,” (I have no idea where this quote came from, but would love to know). I was clueless. I had an idea that teachers used to wear robes, but we soon launched into a discussion about which professions wore robes originally. I will never forget this day. He held his profession so seriously. Anyone who was around him immediately became intrigued with his thoughts on teaching.

Historically, teaching was one of the greatest honors. I wish this remained the case. However, in today’s society, Americans have gotten into the “those who can’t, teach” mindset. This idea never made sense to me, and I think that is the problem with this country’s education system. Teaching is now working in the trenches with little or no support from the community and administrative offices. Teachers get a degree and are put out on their own. They work entirely too many hours, work at home, and are expected to find time in there to plan and continue their education. They have to deal with students that won’t behave and have no interest in learning. They do this with a pay that competes with careers with no educational requirements.

In any other job/ career, low morale would be expected with these conditions, yet we expect teachers to be just as enthusiastic each August and May. Teachers are treated differently than other professions. They are not respected or appreciated. We are handing our children’s futures over to these overworked people and expect them to handle it all. If a child fails a test, it’s the teacher’s fault. If they don’t get into college, it’s the teacher’s fault. If they don’t turn in their homework, it’s the teachers fault for assigning it. Why do we blame the teachers? We don’t blame toy companies if our child doesn’t get a toy. We don’t blame doctors when our children get colds. We don’t blame cops if our teenager gets arrested. Then, why do we as Americans blame the teachers when our students don’t do their work. Or, better yet, when we don’t do our part to help our children succeed.

We, as a nation, have finally found a scapegoat for our failures. Teachers are to blame! I urge you to really take a moment and think about this. Is this really true? I don’t think so. The next time you want to blame a teacher, go to the school board and get something done. If your child fails a test, go to the teacher and ask what you can do to help. It’s as simple as making an effort. It’s time we stop blaming our teachers and start helping them. Make a commitment to sitting down and helping your children. Education is not just the responsibility of the teacher, it is also up to us, as parents.

If you have a child in school, will have a child in school, work in a school, or pay taxes that help pay for a school, I urge you to read this book. You can also connect with Eva Moskowitz via Facebook and Twitter and get a conversation going. Also, enter the giveaway- the details are below.

Thank you Eva Moskowitz and Arin Lavinia for writing this amazing book. I will read it again (several more times) over the next 12 or so years. There is no school like this where I live, but I will implement your policies and procedures in my own home school journey. I expect my son to succeed, so he will.


Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.