Story Time!

We are very blessed where we live to have a wonderful network of public libraries. They have been a source of extra reading material for us for a while now. But, it wasn’t until this year that I really started taking advantage of the extra services and programs that our libraries provide.

The library provides computers with ABC Mouse and other learning softwares free of charge.

They provide several different story times each week, and family story time coincides with one of my days off. This summer we participated in our first summer reading program, and Serenity earned two new books for her personal library. Story time isn’t just sitting and listening to the librarian read books, though. The program is designed to help parents facilitate learning at home. Now that summer is over, the program has shifted to kindergarten readiness, with emphasis on learning ABCs, numbers 1-9, colors, shapes, and rhyming words.


Serenity has gotten to do several fun projects at Story Time over the last few months. She has done science experiments, made artwork, and met new people (socialization, y’all!).

Science: learning how vinegar and baking soda react.

She was very excited about all the bubbles that the vinegar and baking soda made.

She made her own “lion mane” and practiced doing her most ferocious roar.

She can write her own name tag for story time now.

She enjoys being at story time with her best friend (and neighbor) Audrey.

She makes new friends almost every week. 🙂

The most exciting thing that our libraries offer are special programs. Over the summer they had jugglers, Lego master builders, singers, and paleontologists come to different library branches and do free programs for the kids. We got to see a very entertaining juggler who talked about cause and effect and how to be a good citizen.

The other program that we got to attend was a husband/wife duo who sang songs about wild animals. Through their songs you learn about animal homes, habits, and physiology. They brought a box turtle and American toad for the kids to see as well.

Learning how to move like different animals

Public libraries are such a phenomenal resource to homeschool families. What is a favorite resource that your local library provides your family?

Exploring Kansas

In August we had the opportunity to take a day trip across the state of Kansas with my best friend from college and her friend from New Zealand. We hadn’t really started up the school year yet, so it was a pre-school year field trip.

What were we thinking?!?

The pink lines represent our route. We drove 814 miles (round trip) in less than 24 hours!

We started out from the Kansas City area bright and early and headed west. We made it to Wilson Lake State park in time for a picnic lunch. After lunch we drove north to Lucas, Kansas, to see S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, which is not even remotely what it sounds like.

The Garden of Eden makes for a fascinating study of history and American folk art. The complex was by Samuel Perry Dinsmoor, a veteran of the U.S. Civil War, in the early 1900s. Central Kansas is largely prairie land that has been transformed into farms and ranches. There are precious few trees in the area. Industrious farmers and ranchers discovered that the local limestone was sturdy enough to be used in place of wooden posts for holding up their fences. The limestone is locally known as post rock limestone. Dinsmoor used this local limestone to build himself a two-story log cabin style home in the middle of town. Between the years of 1907 and 1928, he created his home, decorated his garden, and built a mausoleum that would be his final resting place.

The exterior of the “log cabin” home and part of the sculpture garden.

His sculpture garden was made with cement. In his self-published guide to his property, Dinsmoor said, “The porches, side walks, fences, strawberry and flower beds, fish pool, grape-arbor, three U. S. flags, Adam and Eve, the devil, coffin, jug, visitors’ dining hall, labor crucified, two bird and animal cages, and wash house are all made with cement. Up to this date, July 1, 1927, over 113 tons, or 2,273 sacks of cement has been used. The Garden of Eden is on the west; the front, or north represents present day civilization. There are fifteen cement trees from 30 to 40 feet tall. On trees, mausoleum, cages and dining hall are forty-eight electric lights. The most unique home, for living or dead, on earth.”

Here are some more detailed photos of the sculpture garden.

Every four-year-old needs a photo in front of a cement flag with her two stuffed kitties and her new best friend from New Zealand.

Cement sculpture of a Civil War soldier

Cement deer with real deer antlers

The sign for the Garden of Eden, also made of cement.

Adam and Eve stand below the Garden of Eden sign. The snake (behind Eve) is also a grape arbor.

This figure was sculpted so Dinsmoor’s wife could see it out the basement kitchen window, to keep her company while he was out working on the sculpture garden.

The strawberry bed

The top of the mausoleum

After thoroughly exploring the Garden of Eden, we got back on the road and headed farther west, in search of the Monument Rocks.

Monument Rocks are roughly 70 feet tall and formed out of Niobrara chalk. They are on privately owned ranch land, but the owners allow visitors to explore the formations. We had fun exploring the various formations, looking for fossils in the chalk, and taking in the majesty of nature.

This formation is called “The Eye of the Needle.”

One of the shorter spots, with a four-year-old for scale

Panorama of the Monument Rocks

Standing in the doorway to adventure

Rock On!

Have you heard of Kindness Rocks? They are hand painted rocks, usually in bright colors, often with affirming words or phrases put on them, that people decorate and hide as random acts of kindness! I had seen them here and there on the internet this summer but didn’t look into it at all.

Then in mid August we found our first rock! We had gone to the library for story time, and found it sitting on the bench outside the front door of the library. Someone was really excited to find it!

It turns out that the city we live in launched their own little branch-off of Kindness Rocks on July 4th. The back of the rock directed you to the Facebook group (that has nearly 2,500 people in it) where people were sharing pictures of rocks they found and giving hints to where rocks were hidden. That afternoon we went out and got ourselves some rocks and some cheap acrylic paints and started making our very own rocks to share.

Serenity picked the colors on the very first rock that we painted and hid. She painted all the pink all by herself. We hid the rock when we made a run to our local Post Office.

The wonderful thing about being in the local rock group is that we get to see every day the joy that our rocks bring to people in our community. Whether it’s through them finding rocks that we decorated or us finding rocks that they have decorated, it’s a treasure hunt that brings joy to all that participate. The local police and fire departments have decorated their own rocks. A fire department rock will get you a tour of one of the fire stations if you bring it back to them. A police department rock will get you a cool swag bag if it’s brought to the police station.

Our local lumber yard has gotten in on the rock fun too. They are selling rocks for $1 per plastic grocery sack full.

I highly recommend doing Kindness Rocks as a homeschool art project. It’s a great way to connect with your community, to teach sharing, and to appreciate the art of others. We have discovered new places in our city that we didn’t know about (even though we’ve lived here for 10 years), discovered incredibly talented artists, and met new people.

Serenity decorated this rock all by herself. She painted it with pink metallic craft paint, and then drew an octopus on it with purple sharpie. (Sense a color theme?)

This is her favorite rock that we have decorated. It was painted by dripping different colors of old nail polish over it. It was finished off with a googly eye in the middle. 🙂

This is one of the pretty rocks we found on our first outing to a new park we learned about through the rocks Facebook page.

Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 11

Today we get a three-for-one interview. I got to interview three siblings who are all homeschooled! Per the family’s request, their names have been changed to protect their privacy.

The eldest child was homeschooled for K-3, and then went to a large Adventist school for three years (grades 4-6) where he really enjoyed having lots of friends, as well as being involved with many activities such as the robotics club and organized sports. After the family moved back to a rural area for his seventh-grade year, and he found outlets such as Pathfinders and a youth orchestra to be great places to develop friendships outside of home and church. He says he prefers to do homeschool for ninth and tenth grade because he can take classes at his own pace and concentrate on special skills like the violin and individual sports. 

Max completing a baking assignment for Pathfinders & Home Economics class

The second boy is always building something — a pulley system to his top bunk, a motorized dinosaur, Lego buildings and vehicles, etc. Besides building things, he loves experimenting with music (piano and violin) and playing outside. He can usually be found on a bike, scooter or in a “fort” in the woods. He enjoys Pathfinders, as well.

Jack showing off an insect for his insect collection, a Pathfinder project & science project

This young lady spends many hours drawing and coloring, and enjoys the art projects suggested in the Five and a Row series for developing new skills and knowledge in art. She participates in Adventurers and plays the piano and violin. She has taken to snow skiing and swimming lessons for PE class.

Ella trying out a brass instrument–the euphonium–for a Five in a Row project

1) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

Max, Jack, and Ella: We’re from North Carolina, USA.

2) How long have you been home schooled?

Max: I have bee homeschooled for a total of seven years. (K-3, 7-9)

Jack: This is my sixth year homeschooling. 

Ella: I have homeschooled my whole life [K-2nd grade].

3) What do you like most about being home schooled?

Max: The best part about being homeschooled is that I can read a lot of books.

Jack: The thing I like the most about being homeschooled is recess; I get to play outside every day.

Ella: I’m glad I don’t have to walk all the way to school. My favorite thing about being homeschooled is being read to.

4) Is there anything you dislike about being home schooled?

Max: I do miss seeing my friends every day at school.

Jack: There isn’t anything I dislike about being homeschooled.

Ella: Nothing.

5) What is your favorite thing to learn about?

Max: My favorite thing to learn about is the Bible, and I also enjoy books on history.

Jack: My favorite subjects are reading, math, and history.

Ella: Right now we’re reading about Columbus [Columbus and Sons, by Genevieve Foster]. I like to read and I like math.

6) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

Max: Some of my hobbies are Pathfinders, snow skiing, swimming, playing the violin, and biking.

Jack: Snow skiing, backpacking with Pathfinders, and swimming.

Ella: Watching birds from the kitchen window is fun. I like to ride my bike, swim, and play the violin.

7) What would you like to do when you grow up?

Max: I’d like to be a pastor when I get older.

Jack: I want to go into engineering when I grow up.

Ella: I want to be an airline flight attendant someday.

8) What is your favorite project that you have worked on for school?

Max: My favorite project for homeschool was a science report on thermodynamics.

Jack: My favorite project this year has been bird watching.

Ella: My favorite project was a charcoal drawing we did after reading the book Lentil, and getting to try all sorts of instruments for music.

Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 10

My name is Russell, and I am 13 years old and in grade 8. We live on five acres in northwestern Alberta. My favourite things to do here are dirt bike and work on my grandparents farm. I have a younger sister, one dog, and a mom and dad. My favourite place to travel is northern California to see my cousins. I’ve also been to Florida, other provinces in Canada, and Belize. My favourite time of year is fall.

1 ) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

My name is Russell Whitmore. I live near Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada.

2 ) How long have you been home schooled?

Nine years, since kindergarten

3 ) What do you like most about being home schooled?

Freedom to travel and do other things

4 ) Is there anything you dislike about being home schooled?

Would like to see more kids my age

5 ) What is your favorite thing to learn about?


6 ) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

I like to dirt bike and work on the farm.

7 ) What would you like to do when you grow up?

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.

8 ) What is your favorite project that you have worked on for school?

The A-Z animals in Africa project I did in grade 6, and a solar system presentation on Mars