When Emotions Get In The Way of Learning


Behind this math book is a very angry boy. When we posted this picture on our facebook page we asked what you do when your kids throw fits over schoolwork.  We got all kinds of responses – everything from mom or the kids taking a break to a physical activity as a distraction, or just plain telling them to get over it and get to work.  My mind raced for much of that day, pondering over the shared advice, contemplating my studies in child development, processing my own experiences, and trying to assimilate it all to decipher the best ways to help kids get over a grump.  After much thought, I offer these tidbits, which hopefully you can glean an idea or two from. Emotions and Learning When we have negative emotions, it is almost impossible to learn.  When we are sad, angry, lonely, or scared, those feelings monopolize our minds. … Keep on reading

American Colonial Art Cards

Colonial Art card set

We have created a set of printable American Colonial Art Cards to help your kids learn about this period in art history. By about 1760 America began to produce fine artists.  Before that Americans were too busy trying to survive to have time for the finer things.  The earliest American artist to gain the notice of the European art market was John Singleton Copley.  He painted this well known portrait of Paul Revere. Copley, like other American artists, was self taught.  But Copley was exceptionally talented and practiced his drawing skills constantly and so his art rises far above the folk painters of his day.  In 1766 Copley exhibited one of his paintings in England and gained fame.  After that Copley helped support and train other young American artists, many of whom went on to study in England and Europe using the great art of the masters and teachers to … Keep on reading

American Colonial Folk Art Cards

colonial folk art cards

Folk art is done by artists who are not trained or who produce art that appeals to common people.  During colonial times people produced art for their own homes or manufactured art for others that was inexpensive enough that common people could buy it.  Furniture, ship figureheads, embroidery, paintings, and decorated pottery are all examples of folk art that was common in Colonial times.  You can help your children learn about this type of art with this American Colonial Art Card Set. Colonial painters focused on portraits because that was what the Americans demanded.  They wanted pictures of their family members to hang on their walls and be passed down to posterity.  But portraits were not the only paintings.  People also painted decorative landscapes or historical images, like the picture of Martha and George Washington, above. Free Printable American Colonial Folk Art Cards Print the cards onto white card stock … Keep on reading



Idioms are phrases that have both a literal (exact) and a figurative (understood) meaning.  They can’t be understood by evaluating the individual meaning of their parts.  For example, if I say “when pigs fly” you may know the literal meanings of the words “when,” “pigs,” and “fly,” but that still doesn’t let you in on the figurative idea that something is never going to happen. John Randal wrote a poem that gives perfect examples of the figurative language of idioms: ‘You can’t cry over spilled milk!’ my mother always said. ‘Life’s not a piece of cake!’ she hammered in my head. ‘That’s the way it goes, that’s the way the cookie crumbles’ My mother saved her idioms for all my idiotic troubles. “Don’t cry over spilled milk” is another perfect example of an idiom.  Literally, it means that you shouldn’t cry if you spill a glass of milk, but figuratively, … Keep on reading

Ten Habits of Happy Homeschoolers


I’ve been around the homeschooling block.  I often think back to my first few years and the things that I worried over incessantly.  The nights that I stayed up lesson planning and scrutinizing my every decision.  I still worry a bit I suppose, but after many years we are into a rhythm that works for us.  Homeschooling has just become so much a part of our home that I wouldn’t even know who I am without it.  It certainly doesn’t cost me any more sleepless nights. That got me thinking – what has changed?  Is it just that I’m more relaxed?  Am I just better at it now?  Truthfully, I am better at it.  I’ve developed habits that have made us happier homeschoolers and that have made me a better mama. So . . . ta da!  I present to you, my Ten Habits of Happy Homeschoolers. Ten Habits of … Keep on reading

Strawberry Cream Cheese Waffles


We had these Strawberry Cream Cheese Waffles for dinner.  They are scrumptious. Waffles 1 3/4 c. flour 1 T. baking powder 1/2 t. salt 2 eggs 1 3/4 c. milk 1/2 c. cooking oil Dump all the ingredients into a bowl, mix the batter with a hand mixer until the lumps are gone. Then pour the batter onto a hot waffle iron and cook for a few minutes until the waffle is brown. Cream Cheese Topping This is basically cream cheese frosting. 8 oz. cream cheese 3 T. milk 1 t. vanilla 1 – 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar Mix the cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and 1 c. powdered sugar in a bowl.  Add more powdered sugar until the consistency is what you like. Strawberry Syrup 2 c. sugar 1 c. strawberries, fresh or frozen 1/4 c. water Put all ingredients in a sauce pan.  Cook on high on a … Keep on reading

Europe Art Project


Here is a simple Europe art project you can do with young students who are learning the continents. Start by printing out the Europe Outline Map. Then choose two sets of colors in marker, one set for the water and one set for the continent.  The specific colors don’t matter, but the water should contrast with the continent so it shows up.  You will want to talk to kids about colors that will look nice together at this point.  You can talk about color families and use the color wheel to show them complimentary colors. Then the kids will trace along the outline of the continent using their colors in a pattern.  The pattern for our continent was red, orange, yellow, red, orange, yellow . . . Keep tracing until all the white space is filled.  Younger kids, preschool, K, and 1st can do fewer lines and leave lots more … Keep on reading

The Legend of Horatius at the Bridge


This activity has kids making printable Roman helmets, completing a coloring sheet, and memorizing a stanza of Horatius at the Bridge by Thomas Babbington.  We’ll start with the story. The Legend of Horatius at the Bridge In 509 BC the army of King Clusium marched on the city of Rome.  The Romans were outclassed and outnumbered and they knew it.  But they went forth from the city gates across the bridge and over the river Tiber to do battle nonetheless.  They fought bravely for hours, but then two leaders of the army were wounded grievously and carried from the field of battle.  When the soldiers saw this their hearts quailed and they broke ranks and fled back toward the bridge which would bring them to the safety of the city walls. The ranks of King Clusium followed in pursuit.  The mob at the bridge had slowed to  a trickle and … Keep on reading

Beef and Bean Roll-ups


My mom used to make these Beef and Bean Roll-ups when we were kids.  The other day I rediscovered this recipe in the recipe book Mom made for her kids about 15 years ago.  I made them for my kids.  They’re still as good as I remember. Bread Dough You can make the dough from scratch or you can use canned biscuit dough.  The from scratch version is better though because it includes molasses which gives an amazing taste.  Here’s how to make it from scratch. 2 c. flour 2 t. baking powder 1/2 t. salt 1/4 c. butter 1/2 c. milk 1/4 c. molasses Combine the flour with the baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until crumbly.  Add milk and molasses.  Stir just until the dough clings together.  Knead dough a few times on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough … Keep on reading

Ancient Rome and the Legend of the Capitoline Geese


This legend, which is at least true in the basic details, took place in 387 BC after Rome became a Republic but before it became an Empire.  We’ll tell the legend of the Capitoline Geese, which you can tell to the kids.  Then we’ll print the story, with four panels which the kids have to put in the proper order.  The kids can then can color and make the legend into a book. The Legend of the Capitoline Geese There is a legend that in the year 387 BC the Gauls crossed the Alps and entered the Italian Peninsula.  They came searching for new land for their people and of course the wealth of the fertile north of Italy.  By that year the Roman Republic was well established and the Romans had conquered or made treaties with enough of their neighbors that they were growing powerful. The Gauls heard about … Keep on reading