Posted in general education, homeschool, more seeds, outdoor education, parents, reflection, social-emotional, special education, spirit

This Week, in Five Photos: In the Garden

Gratitude, Growth and Gardening

This week, I headed outside into the garden, both at home and at school with my students. The garden was a source of peace and connection with the world for me, and some much needed break from screens and keyboards for my students.

School Garden Curriculum
https://allkidscanlearn.school.blog

At this writing, my fall radishes, lettuce and beans are already up, and the raised bed at school is awaiting cleaning and planting. I purchased The School Garden Curriculum for lesson ideas. The compost bins at school will be set up and ready to go for the fall, and the kids are using their new Google Docs skills to research and share ideas for planting their fall garden. Stay tuned!

On a personal note, my husband had his 8-month check up post heart transplant (January 21, 2020). He (and the new heart!) got a big gold star for doing great. I AM grateful…

Looking Ahead to Next Week…

My students have always enjoyed journaling. I have been turning my journal pages into art therapy of a sort. I think I’m going to start electronic journals with the students next week, and refer to the components in my journal as we go, starting with morning gratitude statements.

Our essential question for our first month is “What Influences the Way You Act?” Last week, we talked about culture, and family, and personal choices based on character. We even connected the concept to the early European explorers, discussing reasons why someone would want to be an explorer (desire for adventure, skills at navigating, quest for fame and power, need to be the leader over something…). To connect art with this study, I made a note in my “post-it note brain” to start vision boards with the kids next week. Gotta gather up those old magazines…

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come. It will not tarry” ~ Habakkuk 2:2

My Wish for You

I hope the week was a smooth, happy one for all of you. Enjoy your weekend, and remember: you are important in the lives of your students. You matter. You are working hard. I see you, and I love you.

Be well,

~ Kim

Posted in body, general education, health, homeschool, mind, more seeds, outdoor education, parents, science, social-emotional, special education, spirit

Gardening with Children

The Importance of Outdoor Time

Earlier this week, we focused on some of the benefits of having a fall garden at your school or in your yard (for those of you who are homeschoolers or remote learning families). We also reviewed the social emotional skills that children practice when they are active participants in gardening.

Whether you are tending a planter with a few annuals, cleaning trash from school plantings, or creating an organic garden that feeds the students, just 15 minutes a day outside has been proven to enhance the well-being of children and adults of all ages.

Need more information or resources? See the sections below for information on gardening with children, with the focus age level noted: P = infants, toddlers and preschool; EC = early childhood (grades K-2) years; E = elementary grades (grades 3-5); A = all ages

Whether your garden is a small planter or a 1/4 acre organic plot, gardening with kids brings benefits to children of all ages. {Image Credit: (c) 2020, Kim M. Bennett}

10 Resources on Gardening with Kids

I recently purchased The School Garden Curriculum, by Kaci Rae Christopher. It has 280 pages of weekly lesson plans and links to online printables, for Grades K-8 (although I plan to adapt the lessons for my older students, too). If you’re not looking into purchasing something, check out these resources, below. Don’t let the homeschool sites distract you – sometimes we “credentialed” educators make teaching and learning unnecessarily complicated. Less really is more when it comes to good learning.

Some sprouted potatoes in an old trash can full of leaves = a no fuss garden for any backyard. {Image Credit: (c) 2020, Kim M. Bennett}

Ready… Set… Garden!

I love testimonials. Share your wins, your lessons learned, other resources other people MUST have.

Now go outside. It’s time to garden.

Posted in body, general education, health, homeschool, mind, more seeds, outdoor education, parents, science, social-emotional, special education, spirit

Cultivating Social Emotional Skills Through Gardening

The Need for Social Emotional Learning TODAY

Many people bemoan all the changes that have occurred since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019. It’s been especially hard for teachers, who have suddenly become essential, not just to our students, but to society, offering wrap-around support to families, providing a safe place for kids to go while parents try to navigate no jobs / different jobs / changed hours / changed childcare / working from home. Schools feel pressure to open because kids need stability, parents need to work and society needs to find SOME sense of normalcy. We all crave a sense of normalcy.

Children are resilient – at least on the outside. But many of us who have spent our lives working closely with children know that stress often shows up wearing different clothes in kids, than it does in adults. Kids might sleep more – or not sleep. They might be noisy and provocative, or exceptionally quiet and compliant. Previously learned self-care routines (toileting, turn-taking, rules-following) may regress. Some kids might vanish from our rosters. We have been instructed, therefore, to pay especially close attention to social emotional learning and the mental health needs of our charges, as they return to the classroom this fall.

A garden is a perfect place for students to practice social emotional skills. {Image Credit: (c) 2014, Kim M. Bennett}

The Five Elements of Social Emotional Learning

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) promotes the incorporation of social emotional skills into students’ daily curriculum, not just to support their social emotional needs, specifically. Boosting students’ skills through social-emotional learning (SEL) has also been shown to increase their academic performance (Durlak et. al., 2011).

CASEL identifies five proficiencies in SEL: self-awareness, self- management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. As a special educator, I find that addressing social skills – or any skills, in fact – through real-life situations gives them relevance and leads to better mastery. Such real-world situations might include service learning projects, special school events, classroom management tasks and similar activities.

Gardening to Support SEL

Working in a classroom garden can be an excellent opportunity to practice five strategies that will give students a chance to work on these five proficiency areas. Each strategy is coded to show what area it supports: self-awareness (A); self-management (M); social awareness (S); relationship skills (R); responsible decision-making (D). In child-friendly terms, Kaci Rae Christopher, author of The School Garden Curriculum, refers to three principles, which reflect these nicely: Care for Self, Care for Others and Care for the Land.

Show Responsibility for Something (A, D, M)

Elementary teachers know the power of “job charts.” I once knew a veteran teacher who used a colorful, cardboard wheel with student names and classroom jobs. She had about nine wheels in her closet, to pull from depending on how many kids she had in a given year. Teachers are resourceful!

Teens like responsibility, too. Knowing that a living things depends on them increases that sense of responsibility. Having the living thing be a plant instead of a class pet makes it a little more risk-free. Having a set time for gardening each day or week, and a job chart that rotates tasks among kids, gives kids a chance to get outside in a purposeful way, gives them a creative outlet, and gives them parameters to work within.

Use Collaboration and Cooperation to Accomplish a Task (M, R, S)

Anyone who has ever been involved in hiring or sports teams knows the importance of having an individual who can work with others. In basketball, you don’t need five people fighting to shoot the ball. Being able to contribute by fulfilling a role that is in harmony with the roles of others is a “soft skill” that is important for adult living.

Having a variety of jobs for students to do individually (planting an area, watering, weeding, sign creation) or with a peer (moving bags of soil/mulch. making a plan) gives kids a chance to work in harmony with others, either directly or through parallel, yet connected, tasks.

Demonstrate kindness toward people and other living things (A, M, S, R)

I work with teens with social-emotional, behavioral and mental health issues. Being kind is something that sometimes is difficult for them, as is relating to others in a healthy way. We often ask our students to reflect on whether they prefer to work with people, technology or other living things. People is often their last choice, because working with other people is hard. For ALL of us!

Working with plants provides students a chance to practice kindness toward other living things in a more risk-free scenario. It might seem silly, but students DO develop an affection for the plants they plant, tend and observe. These skills can then be transferred to other living things, as they develop.

In addition, caring for something else often enables students to look outside themselves for a moment, and be relieved of their inner stressors.

Make decisions based on evidence (D)

I was once gifted a chrysanthemum as a plant for my classroom, for my birthday. One of my students took on the responsibility of watering it daily. He was terribly dismayed when the blossoms turned brown and dried up, scolded me about watering the plant with cold coffee (something I confess to – and which doesn’t hurt plants), and proceeded to overwater the plant because “it’s DYING, Miss!” I had to explain to him that blossoms don’t last forever. The plant blooms, the flowers do what they do, then they fade. I showed him that the leaves and stem still looked green and healthy. We hunted until we found a withered flower with seeds forming, so I could show him the natural order of things.

Getting students to observe, ask questions, do research then make good decisions is one of those overarching skills that can be used in all aspects of daily living.

Reflect, set goals and work toward them (A, M, D)

As fall turns to winter, as plants give up their harvest and die for the season, students have the opportunity to contemplate what went well, what the possibilities are for continued gardening, and what they want to and need to do as next steps. This organized, strategic thinking extends into all aspects of life, and helps kids begin to practice some forward thinking, choosing their actions now in anticipation of the goal they are working toward.

Getting that Garden Going…

In the previous post, I shared some ideas for fall gardening. If vegetables aren’t your think, you can scatter wildflower seed, plant a fall flower garden, or decorate with a harvest theme, using decorative gourds, mums and a scarecrow. There really are so many possibilities – and all of them a good way to foster social emotional learning in your students, get them outside and active, and give them a break from screen time during a distance learning day.

Share your photos! As for me, I’m heading to Home Depot right now…

gardening and social emotional skills http://allkidscanlearn.school.blog
Gardening helps kids learn how to regulate their behavior, make decisions based on evidence, and work collaboratively. {Image Credit: (c) 2020, Kim M. Bennett
Posted in body, general education, homeschool, mind, more seeds, outdoor education, science, social-emotional, special education, spirit

Fall Gardening ~ For Kids and Their Teachers!

Fresh Air, Sunshine and Soil

If you’re like me, you get out of school in June, throw yourself into your garden after a long winter and longer school year, retreat inside when it’s too hot to fool around outside. Then – BOOM! – it’s September and we’re back at school.

This year, I want to get in that garden, even if it’s September. Luckily, there are many things you can grow now that, unlike in the summer, the students will be around to eat. Here are some of the fall veggies that you can stick in the ground with your students, getting them outside in the sunshine (sunshine DOES kill germs!), and teaching them about healthy eating choices – something I desperately need after 6 months of being shut in, in front of a computer monitor.

A handful of fruits and veggies you grow yourself can be the healthy reward for a fall garden with students. {Image Credit (c) 2020, Kim M. Bennett}

Fall Crops for New England

  • Cole Crops: Cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radishes, bok choy, broccoli and broccoli rabe all enjoy cooler weather, as do their greens cousins, kale and mustard. In the fall, they also avoid the cabbage loopers which are unwelcome guests in the spring. Buy transplants to jump start your garden – and no worries about an unexpected cold snap: these fellas can often be left in the garden into the cold months.
  • Fancy Mustard Greens: There are some fancy varieties of mustard greens to look for and try out from seed. The good thing about greens is that you can eat them whenever you want – if it looks like the weather is going to turn foul, just harvest them as baby greens. Try mizuna, tatsoi, and other varieties.
  • Beans: Here in Connecticut, the shoreline moderates the temperature enough where you just might be able to get some string beans in before frost, if you put them in now. Fava beans can be left in the ground longer, if your climate is a little warmer, as well.
  • Peas: Peas, like cole crops, like cooler weather. Snow peas don’t need to develop seeds, so, like the greens, you can harvest them a little early if the weather starts to turn on you in October.
  • Cilantro: Unlike many of the other herbs in the dill family, cilantro prefers a little cooler climate. Sprinkle some in the bed for some fresh herbs before frost, and make some pesto or salsa with the kids.
  • Fall Chrysanthemums: Add some color to your veggie patch at home or school with some fall mums that are ready to plant – no growing necessary.
Many crops you would plant in early spring do well in fall weather – and can be harvested before frost. {Image Credit (c) 2020, Kim M. Bennett}

Get Outside and Plant this Fall!

Gardening and being outside offer many health benefits to adults and children, especially in these times when outside opportunities over the summer were greatly reduced due to infection control. Make an effort to incorporate outdoor time and gardening into your home or school routines this year.

And post a photo of your fall victory garden in the comments! I love gardens…

Posted in arts, more seeds, special education, spirit

Using Music in the Classroom

Music – it’s Not Just for Music Teachers!

I’ve been a teacher for a long time. Music has always been a tool that I’ve used in my classroom, from pre-K through adult education.

I don’t want you to think I’m that magical teacher who started every day playing the piano or guitar and singing with my students. I HAVE done that before, but not everyone can play an instrument or sing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use music to reach the students in your room.

Today, I wanted to share with you some tips for incorporating music into your daily or weekly routines, and some of the brain research into why you should especially consider it, if you’re working with students who have disabilities.

Why Music?

We all can relate to the effects that some music has on us, as people. But is there actual research on the effects of music on us? If so, what does it say? How can we use that in our teaching?

As it turns out, there is a LOT of research on the positive effects of music on humans (and other species), of all ages. Dr. Jeremy Dean, psychologist from University College in London, has compiled research studies on a number of ways that music improves our lives as humans:

  1. It improves our cognitive ability (especially if we learn to play an instrument);
  2. It gives us a feeling of tapping into something bigger than ourselves;
  3. It makes us feel happier;
  4. It makes us feel closer to others (especially when we perform together)
  5. It decreases our stress levels and increases heart health;
  6. It helps us manage our moods;
  7. It changes the way we see other people;
  8. It makes the world seem more colorful;
  9. It improves our vision (really!);
  10. It’s something we are drawn too from birth.

Simple Ways to Incorporate Music into Your Daily Routines

As I said, music sneaks into my day regularly. Here are some ways to use it easily, organized by goal areas (I included BONUS homework activities – my students are notorious for not doing homework, but these ideas have worked for me year after year).

“Sheet Music” by nick.amoscato is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Academic/Cognitive ~ Language Arts

  • Song Lyrics as Poetry: My students often balk if I mention that we are going to do a poetry unit. When that happens, I use song lyrics to lead off the unit. Starting with familiar songs hooks the students, enabling me to then shift into classic pieces during the unit. {BONUS: My kids don’t like to do homework. But they WILL write down the lyrics to their favorite songs, especially if we are going to use them in class that week}
  • Mood and Theme in Literature: Last year, my class struggled with comprehension beyond the “right in your face” type. So I wrote common themes in literature on the Promethean board, then played familiar songs for the students, and asked them to identify the theme of the piece (this also works for mood). We discussed how the words and music each contributed to the meaning, much the way you would discuss the words and pictures in a picture book. {BONUS: I gave the kids homework assignments to come to school the next day with a song that fit a particular theme or mood}.

Academic/Cognitive ~ Math

  • Fractions: With students who have an ear for music, and maybe know how to play an instrument or read music, I’ve used note values to help them understand the fractions whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, and even thirty-second. Here is an online guitar lesson that has audio clips of the various note values.

Study Skills

  • Transitioning into the School Day: One year, I had a very rowdy group, which, ironically, also included a child with agorophobia for whom just entering the classroom was difficult, especially when it was noisy. The way the class came into the building set the (unfortunate) tone for the rest of the morning. Out of desperation, I started playing smooth jazz on my Promethean board, using my Pandora account. The kids entered the building, and said, “Ooh. What’s that?” They entered the room head-bobbing and snapping their fingers – very silly – but 1) got into the room and 2) sat down to work.
  • Focus Aids: Over the years, my kids have asked for music to help them focus when they write, or when they are doing independent work. NOTE: I stick to music without lyrics, as the lyrics are often a distraction. My kids usually ask for piano music.
“SH530048” by fo.ol is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Behavioral / Social-Emotional

  • Self-calming #1 ~ Music Contracts: In a previous school, we issued music contracts to students who requested music as a calming or focus aid. Students had to show that they were able to use the aid responsibly (e.g., work got done, the equipment was used and cared for properly, students turned off the devices when asked). We purchased inexpensive MP3 players (without wi-fi or internet capabilities) for each student, and ear buds. We then asked the students to list music they wanted to have on the MP3 player, and one of the staff members found “clean” and school appropriate versions of the songs, and loaded each students MP3 player. {BONUS: the music list can be sent home for homework}
  • Self-calming #2 ~ Mood Reset: In a behavioral health setting, disruptive behavior happens. And it affects the rest of the group, because “everybody’s here for a reason.” One year, when I had quite a few “internalizers,” if there was too much tension, the students would ask to turn off the lights, put their heads down, and listen to music for 5-10 minutes, to get themselves back in order. It was good for all of us.
  • Motor Break: Once in awhile, you get that kid that has to move periodically, to get the sillies or fidgets out. One of my students was given the strategy to go to the back of the room and “dance it out.” He was an excellent dancer, and would do a quick 30-second “Fortnite” dance to get himself refocused (dancing to music inside his head). We got so used to it, and he used it so appropriately, that no one paid him any mind.

Communication

  • Listening: When you work with students with behavioral health or cognitive issues, many will have IEP goals about following directions. Kids with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) will hear your voice and automatically want to do the opposite, no matter what you’re saying. So, I’ve “tricked” kids into learning how to listen and follow directions by using music as a hook, by having them listen for a particular thing (a word the singer uses to describe his love, the instrument that sets the tone of the piece, the way the writer uses dynamics to surprise you…), then write it down.
“Piano keys” by waltfur is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

Fine and Gross Motor

  • Coordination and Strength: Kids on certain medications (especially psychotropic ones) have difficulties with their weight, overall energy levels, and, sometimes, coordination. Some kids’ disabilities, themselves, affect their muscle tone. All of these things make physical activity unpleasant for a lot of kids – especially teens, who might not be physical activity fans, anyway. In the past, we’ve had success engaging every one of our kids when we had a drum circle. It’s communal, it’s loud, and they get to bang on stuff – with permission! It also helps them with listening and timing.

Transition

  • Playing Music as a Pastime: When we were cleaning out an old room to turn it into a classroom, we found several keyboards. No one wanted them in their rooms, so my assistant and I took two of them. We set them up near one of the Promethean boards, and found videos on keyboard playing for beginners. Two of my students as to play the keyboards during activity period, every day. Identifying a hobby is an important part of transitioning into adulthood {NOTE: we hide the power cords when we don’t want the keyboards to be a distraction!} .
  • Identifying Strengths: As part of our community meetings, our principal used to set up karaoke, and have open mic times. One year, a new student stepped to the mic and sang the popular song, “Location.” He sounded just like the actual singer! He didn’t realize that he sang as well as he did. Another student would play her ukelele and sing. It was good for the kids to realize they had strengths, and good for their peers to see them in a different light.

Other Ways to Use Music

I know that I focused more on older students in this article. In my experience, it is way easier to get younger students involved in music activities. It’s when students hit the teen years that they become self-conscious and withdrawn. I love to sing and play music, but, as I said, I am NOT the teacher who is drawn to performing in the classroom. The above activities were comfortable for ME, too.

Do you use music in your special education classroom? Let me know in the comments section.

Meet My Musical Family

A little about me and my family:

There are a lot of musicians in my family. Basically, we are our own band:

My husband is a professional drummer… my eldest son plays the clarinet and saxophone… my middle and youngest sons play the trombone… my youngest son also plays the drums… I sing, and play guitar and violin. My mom passed on her musical genes to me. My husband has professional musicians (a bassist, a saxophone player, singers) in his family, and inherited his musical abilities from his mom, too.

So this article touched my soul… I wanted to share some photos of my family, making music. Enjoy!

Posted in faith, general education, homeschool, more seeds, parents, social-emotional, special education, spirit

Living a Life of Gratitude

Ungratefulness: The Price of a Hectic Life

The world we live in can be a real doozie…

Right now, my desk is littered with planning materials for summer school and the fall, a pile of mail to sort (most of it junk), bills to pay, to-do lists, my partially completed journal for the day, a coffee cup that wants more coffee, and several cans with markers and colored pencils for my Bible journaling that never seems to get done…

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the busy-ness of life. Sometimes, the brain can be so full of things to do, worries and anxieties, appointments, and past conversations that there is no quiet, not even on the inside. The availability of information on a myriad of electronic devices only makes this worse.

Our kids feel the same pressure. And, in a paradox that hurts the hearts of people in my generation, they eschew the very things that ease the heart of a small child: sunshine, unstructured play, face-to-face time with friends, family outings.

It is not surprising that, in all that busy-ness, people of all ages become bitter and negative about things. We miss the good things that we have, because we are so focused on what we need to do and what we don’t have.

Building Gratitude

Fortunately, it is never too late to teach ourselves and our kids how to be grateful. Building gratitude starts with small steps, just like learning to read. These small steps cause us to pause in a hectic life, and consider the goodness that we already have. By simply changing the way we think about events, we can learn to be content in all things, as the Apostle Paul taught us.

Ten Ways to Practice Gratitude

Learning to be grateful is a process. Here are ten simple things anyone can do to begin a lifetime practice of gratitude.

  1. Say “thank you,” and say it often. Saying “thank you” isn’t just good manners. It lets the other person know that you appreciate him and what he’s done for you. My husband and children always says thank you to me after a meal, and we always say thank you to my husband when he cooks – we give thanks to God, and then honor the cook! Thank the postal carrier, thank the cashier at Stop and Shop… just say, “Thank you!”
  2. Recognize “stinking thinking” – and eliminate it. I once worked with an excellent teacher at a correctional facility.She had a poster in the front of the room entitled, “Accountable Speech.” On one side, she wrote negative self-statements her students made: “I’m so stupid” – “We’ll never get jobs” – “I can’t do that” – “That’s just how it is.” Next to each statement, she re-wrote it with a positive mindset: “I don’t understand that – can you explain it to me?” – “I need help finding a good job” – “I can’t do that YET” – “That’s how it was – but things can change.” Re-think the words you speak over yourself. Build yourself up with your own words.
  3. Share 3 good things that happen to you each day. When my kids were little, it was like pulling teeth to find out how their days were. So, during our afterschool snack, I asked them to tell me three good things and one not-so-good thing. This helped them focus on the good (even if it was “Jacob’s mom brought in cupcakes for his birthday”) and still honors thThee bumps in the road – in a balanced way. Try it with your kids.
  4. Make a “100 list.” I had a class once that included quite a few teens with depression and anxiety. I started this task when one of them was going through a rough patch. They grew to like it so much that they asked to be able to do it on days that weren’t going so well for the class – instead of the scheduled task. Simply start a list of things that you are thankful for. The idea is that the first 25 are rather concrete and often materialistic (new jewelry, a vacation, payday…). As you get to 75 and above, however, you get to the real things to be thankful for: still being alive, being clean and sober, being reunited with family…
  5. Start a gratitude journal. It can be devoting one day a week (maybe Sunday) to a gratitude entry in the journal or planner you already use. Or you can challenge yourself, for 30 days, to write down one thing you’re grateful for, each day. Just write it down!
  6. Complete a Gratitude Challenge. There are so many 30-day challenges online these days. Pick one and dedicate yourself to it for a month. If you’re really dedicated and committed, try working through Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy for an entire year.
  7. Think of the upside of things. My pastor used to say, “Don’t complain about the light bill. Thank God you have electricity. Some don’t.” For almost any trouble you have, you can take the “glass half full” viewpoint. When you catch yourself (or your kids) looking at a half-empty glass, rephrase the statement.
  8. Give up something you love for a week. A friend of mine used to have her kids each pick out 2-3 toys to keep in their rooms. The rest would be lovingly packed and put in the attic. Every month or so, they’d “shop” in the attic, swapping out their toys for ones they stored. They grew to better appreciate the ones they kept in their rooms, as well as the ones in storage. Try doing without something for a time – you’ll be more grateful for it when you return to it!
  9. Start and end your day with gratitude. My journal has space for me to write down 3 things that I am grateful for upon awaking, and 3 things I am grateful for before retiring for the evening. I made a word cloud of June’s entries – the bigger the word, the more times I mentioned it. This was a good reminder for me about what really matters.
  10. Read one prayer of thanksgiving from the Bible, each day. King David wrote many songs of thanksgiving in the book of Psalms. If you’re not sure what a prayer of thanksgiving is, All About Prayer has a good article to read.
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gratitude word cloud
My June gratitude word cloud… The bigger the word, the more times I mentioned it in the month.

Find Peace in Gratitude

As a parting thought, I want to share with you a gospel song that gets me in the tear ducts and heart every time I sing it. Blessings to you, and God bless your journey toward a life of gratitude.

Posted in faith, spirit

Bible Memorization: Helpful Resources for Working with Kids

{Originally posted at “On Planting Seeds,”  October 2, 2012, This post contains affiliate links}

Memorizing Bible Scriptures

I discovered a great addition to our home Bible study tools on Pinterest.

Hubbard’s Cupboard has downloadable resources that can be used to help your kids (and you!) memorize important Scriptures:

  • Joyful Heart Tune Charts: Colorful drawings and key scriptures, set to familiar childhood tunes.
  • Joyful Heart Bible Verse Charts: These look like the tune charts, without reference to the tune.
  • Joyful Heart Bible Verse Copywork: Primary or regular ruled lines, with the Scripture at the top.
  • Joyful Heart Bible Verse Strips: The words of the Scripture, to cut out and re-order to create the text.

Also included are ideas on how to create Scripture binder, “Go-Fish” style card games and other activities, using these four resources.

Our Bible Study Plan

We used Genesis through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt in Grade 6, then Joshua through Malachi and Ancient Greece in Grade 7,  by Sonya Shafer at Simply Charlotte Mason. There are suggested readings and activities for the whole family, as well as grade-appropriate tasks — truly a one size fits all program. I love the way it intertwines Bible reading, the history of the lands and people of the Bible, and supportive reading from both historical fiction and non-fiction sources.

The core text is, of course, the Bible. We have used The Everyday Life Bible, by Joyce Meyer (click on the photo for ordering information), but use whatever bible you have at home. Some folks recommend a study bible, which includes explanations of the geographical, social and political background of the readings. Others say the Bible should stand true all by itself. It’s really up to your personal preference.

As we go through the Bible, I am printing out the associated resources (if any) from Hubbards’ Cupboard, or using my own narration activities.

Finally, we are creating a Child Training Bible.

See my Pinterest Board, Home Bible Studies, for more ideas.


{ This blog is featured in Top 100 Special Education Blogs}

Posted in homeschool, more seeds, outdoor education, parents, spirit

Getting Outside with Children

The Benefits of Outdoor Time

It seems like I never quite get my garden in when other folks do. By the time the school year wraps up, it’s almost the 4th of July. I recently spent a rainy day planning a small kitchen garden that I’m going to install this weekend…

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outdoor education
A small garden can afford time to refresh oneself outside… and provides learning opportunities for children, too. {Image credit: (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2019}

When I get outside, even to sweep the sidewalk, pull a few weeds, or just sit and drink my coffee on the patio, I feel peaceful. My mind and heart empty of all the stresses of the day, and I can hear God talking.

Nature Study and Outdoor Learning

The outdoors is an excellent classroom, not only for “summer school,” but for any time of year. Don’t worry about structuring the time – 15 minutes a day, with an opportunity to talk, write or draw about the time, is all that is needed to spark creativity and connect a child to the world. Of course, once they’re hooked, they will want to be outside for hours (see this post about Charlotte Mason’s view on children and the outdoors).

See my Nature Study and Outdoor Classrooms board for some ideas on how to use your outdoor space as a peaceful learning place.

Summer Outdoor Learning

Whether you’re homeschooling all year, looking for enrichment for kiddos home from a brick-and-mortar school, or just wanting some fun things to do with your children during the summer, check out some of our favorite summer nature activities:

  1. The Mathematics of Nature: Fractals
  2. Beaches, Beaches, Everywhere!
  3. Summer Bird Study: Blue Jays
  4. Nature Study Notebooks and Literacy
  5. A Little Fun with our Feathered Friends
  6. The Nightshade Family (and a Little Surprise)

What are you doing with your kids this summer? Let me know in the comments section! Share a link…


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nature study

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