We Teach Life, Not Just School

I am a big proponent of using life to teach academic skills. It takes some creativity sometimes to incorporate school into our lives, and our lives into school time, but it’s possible and hugely beneficial! So many times we hear from our children (and have said it ourselves) that they do not understand how what they are learning will apply to them in the real world, how it will benefit them in their adult life. Let’s show them… Make it real for them!

I believe in allowing our children to explore their passions, to explore their interests, to try and fail, but to get up and try again. These are essential life skills. We should teach our children how to make wise decisions, to know when to persevere and when to move on to something new, to honour their commitments, and to be responsible for their choices. I believe these things are just as, if not more than, important as book learning.

Sometimes this means we do weird things. We make strange mistakes, we fill the calendar, we step out of our comfort zones.

Our school board is hosting a science fair in March. TLC decided last year that he wanted a snake; actually, he’d wanted a snake for years, but last year he convinced his father to allow a snake to live at his house (our lease forbids it from living here). Waffles, as the snake is called, has been a fabulous experience for TLC. He’s had to learn how to care for it, feed it, clean its habitat, and buy food. This has increased his sense of responsibility and money management. It’s also been a source of science projects. He had to research how to care for a snake before he was allowed to get one. He had to save up the money for it and buy it himself. He has to buy the food for it and know what to feed it. Waffles will be his exhibit and project for the upcoming science fair, and one of the rewards for doing it will be that Waffles can come live at our house the week before the fair.

He gets a reward because the science fair is far out of his comfort zone. That’s okay, because one of the responsibilities of parenting and teaching our children is to push them out of their comfort zones. It’s hard for TLC to be outside of his comfort zone, and one of the signs of his maturity is that he is starting to recognize where the comfort zone boundary lies. Now he will learn that he can safely, successfully, and enjoyably step past that boundary. In order to achieve his goals and dreams, he’s going to need to be past those boundaries. It will not benefit him if I allow him to hide, to remain in the box. None of his dreams are in a box; he has huge dreams! He’s never lived his life in a box, and I refuse to allow him to build one around himself now.

Let’s teach our children — not only to read, write and do arithmetic, but to step outside the box, to explore past their comfort zones, and to persevere when things are hard in order to achieve their goals!!

Crafts for Kids: Textured Crochet Headband Pattern

Hello! Today’s craft comes from your suggestions in the SDA Homeschool Mom’s Facebook Group! If you’re not a member already, you can join here.


This versatile headband can be made for almost any girl in your family, from preschooler (4-5 yrs old) all the way up to adult. There are a bunch of fun stitches in this pattern, which makes it fun for learning and improving your skill! If you don’t know how to read a pattern already, I give a brief overview in this post. If you need more instruction, head on over to YouTube and search for videos about learning to crochet.

Let’s begin! If you get stuck, I’ve included some pictures of the steps to help you out.

Materials Needed:
5mm (H) hook, or hook needed to obtain gauge
50-75 yards of Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool in Birch Tweed
Yarn Needle
Scissors
1″ button

Stitches Used:
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
hdc = half-double crochet
dc = double crochet
sc2tog = single crochet 2 together (decrease)
YO = yarn over

Additional Stitches:
-Small Puff stitch: YO, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, YO, insert hook into same stitch, pull up a loop 2 more times. YO and pull through all 7 loops.
-Working in the 3rd loop of hdc. Look at the top of the stitch, and locate the sideways “V”, bend the stitch to look at the back, and you should see another “V”. You’ll be working into the back loop of that “V”, this is called the 3rd loop. When working in rows, this “3rd loop” will be facing you!

Gauge:
8 sc or hdc in 2″

Measurements:
Headband measures 3 1/4″ wide with edging added.
See Pattern repeat section for length suggestions.

Additional Notes:
-The way this headband is written makes it work for all head sizes from preschooler to adult!
-ch 1 does not count as a stitch

Textured Crochet Headband:
Row 1:
ch 6, sc in second ch from hook, and in each ch across, ch 1, turn(5)
Rows 2-8: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (5)
Row 9: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next 3 stitches, 2 sc in final stitch, ch 1, turn (7)
Row 10: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (7)
Row 11: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next 5 stitches, 2 sc in final stitch, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 12: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 13: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next 7 stitches, 2 sc in final stitch, ch 1, turn (11)
Row 14: ch 1, turn, sc in each stitch across, ch 3 (counts as first dc of next row), turn (11)

Row 15: small puff stitch in next stitch, *ch 1, skip stitch, small puff stitch in next stitch* repeat * to * 4 times, dc in final stitch of row, ch 1 turn (11)

Row 16: sc in each stitch across. Place final sc of row in the top of ch 3, ch 3, turn (11)
Row 17: small puff stitch in next stitch, *ch 1, skip stitch, small puff stitch in next stitch* repeat * to * 4 times, dc in final stitch of row, ch 1 turn (11)
Row 18: sc in each stitch across. Place final sc of row in the top of ch 3, ch 1, turn (11)

Row 19: hdc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (11)
Row 20: working in 3rd loop of hdc, hdc in each stitch across, ch 3, turn (11)

Repeat rows 15 to 20 (referred to as a pattern repeat) until your headband is about 5-6 inches shorter than the head circumference of the person you’re making it for.

Note: My headband was a little bit loose since I don’t like tight things around my head. If you want your headband to have a more snug fit, you may want to do fewer pattern repeats.

In my headband each pattern repeat was 2 1/4″ long. This translates roughly to:
-3 pattern repeats to make a preschooler headband, 17 1/4″ long.
-4 pattern repeats to make a child’s headband, 19 1/2″ long.
-5 pattern repeats to make a teen/adult’s headband, 21 3/4″ long.

Repeat rows 15 to 17 one more time, then continue with the ending.

Ending:
Row 1: sc2tog, sc in next 7 stitches, sc2tog, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 2: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 3: sc2tog, sc in next 5 stitches, sc2tog, ch 1 turn (7)
Row 4: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (7)
Row 5: sc2tog, sc in next 3 stitches, sc2tog, ch 1 turn (5)
Rows 6-13:sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (5)
Row 14: sc, ch 3, skip 3 stitches, sc in final stitch of row, ch 1, turn (5)
Rows 15-17: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (5)
Row 18: sc2tog, sc in next stitch, sc2tog (3)

This picture demonstrates how to single crochet 2 together, starting with the ch 1, and turn:
Pull up a loop in the first stitch, pull up a loop in the next stitch, pull your yarn through all 3 loops on your hook.

This picture shows you what the button hole should look like, and finishes with the sc edging.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Edging:
Attach yarn to edge of headband and sc evenly around. Note: to get the best results put 1 sc in each sc, or hdc, and 2 sc in each dc stitch. Make sure you are on the right side of the headband!

Fasten off, and weave in ends.

Sew button to the end of your headband.

Weave in all ends.

And, that’s it! If you enjoyed today’s craft, you can find my other kids craft features below:

Easy Sashay Chunky Cowl Pattern
“Essentials” Toiletry Bag Pattern

More of my original crochet patterns can be found on my site, HERE.

Disclaimer:
This post contains affiliate links.

Practical Lessons: Working With Tiny Hands

Usually when the homeschool co-op semester begins, I choose classes that the kids will enjoy, classes that I’m too broke or bored to teach. Lego Art, Messy Munchkin Crafts, Edible Science, and Cupcake Decorating are some of my boys’ favorites. Since I’m trying to monopolize our school time this year, I am opting for more practical co-op classes this semester, classes that I can’t teach and that might help the kids after this year and beyond. These type of classes can be taught with YouTube videos and a few supplies as well.

American Sign Language (ASL)

I cannot teach my kids sign language because I don’t know any language besides English. I jumped at the opportunity to put my first grader in an ASL class, because it is practical, affords the opportunity to interact with other kids, and can lead to career choices later in life. When a hearing child knows sign language, they can be an unexpected blessing to others, so this is a great opportunity.

Hand Sewing

I don’t sew. My husband learned to sew in the Army, so he does all of our family sewing repairs. It’s an incredibly positive influence on my boys. Since Daddy can sew, my eight-year-old was more than happy to take on a sewing class (with a needle and everything). At an age where they cannot do a whole lot to help, how wonderful will it be for him to contribute by sewing on buttons, hemming his pants, and making minor repairs? He’s already excited that his first project is nearly finished and, after missing two weeks of class, he can move onto the next one to catch up with his classmates!

Idle Hands

What are your homeschool kids doing with their hands? As parents and homeschoolers, we so often depend on art to keep our kids’ hands busy. Scissors, penmanship, crayons, paintbrushes — these are all a necessary means to help children develop. As they grow, there are other practical tasks they can do with their hands, skills they can learn.

  • Make crafts to sell for a “book fund” or “field trip.”
  • Build bird houses, towers, or feeders to help the environment.
  • Dust the furniture to help Mom and Dad.
  • Wash dishes (correctly) to help Mom and Dad.
  • Fold laundry.
  • Plant an herb garden to contribute to the pantry.
  • Take up an instrument.
  • Learn to type (stories, letters, news, etc.).

I believe there is a reason that God opened the Bible by proclaiming Himself as Creator. As God, there are many ways He could have described Himself. Jesus Christ worked with His hands as a carpenter, creating. God the Father created the heavens and earth from nothing. We’re created in their image, and I’ve found that no matter what learning type, personality type, or age humans are, they still create. Starting this semester, the Ashworths are going to work with our hands. Starting with sign language and hand-sewing, the sky will be the limit.

 

Outdoor Activities You Can Fall For

My boys are outdoor country boys through-and-through! They wake up and beg to go outside before breakfast is warm and table is set. We coax them into waiting until their bellies are full (and mom and dad are dressed), and in the summer we have to debate about the usefulness of clothes on a young boy as well. When fall swings around, there is no damper on the boys’ excitement for the outdoors, but we do have to change the experience slightly.

Less Sun, Still Fun?

The sunny, warm summers meant the boys could run free morning, noon, and night. They’d come in the house with crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, roly-polies, caterpillars, lady bugs, frogs, lizards, and handfuls of other cringe-worthy organisms. They knew just where to look to find the best critters.

When fall comes around the leaves die, the tiny bugs and reptiles seem to hide, the wind is cold, and the boys grow…bored. Where we used to coax them into staying inside during the hottest parts of the day, now we have to convince them there is something worth finding outside after the first run of the morning. We don’t get much snow in even the deepest months of winter, but in October? Nothing but gusty, brown cold. Mom and Dad have to put on their thinking caps when the seasons change.

Routine, Routine, Routine

The R-word is one I hate, and I’m not fond of that word either. The only thing routine about our family is the places we go through the week at the same time every week: church, taekwando, Celebrate Recovery, my mom’s, repeat. During the winter, if we don’t slip outdoor play into our daily routine, it just won’t happen.

This year I’ll be talking a lot about practical life schooling, which is my focus in my homeschooling with my boys. They’re using an online curriculum for their main academics, which means Mom’s role is practical life application. Part of the challenge will be to include outdoor activities during cold months!

Practical Outdoor Play Made Easy 

First, make sure you know what your kid likes to do outside, how they like to learn, and how they burn their tiny-human energy. If it’s looking for critters (spatial, logical), then maybe they’d also like to look for other forms of wildlife — or proof of wildlife (nests, scratches, tracks, droppings). If your kid likes to dig in the dirt (kinesthetic), maybe he or she would also like to stack firewood, rake leaves — and jump into them — and paint a fence.

Here is my list for this October/November:

  1. Yard Work: Clearing trash, brush, weeds, leaves away so that next year our yard can flourish (and we can enjoy the snow more thoroughly this winter).
  2. Nature Hikes: To find nuts, nests, bones, turtle shells, etc., that point to life in the woods. Also bird-watching is fun this time of year because some leave, and others arrive.
  3. Building and Maintaining a Bird Feeder: Build a bird house or feeder for those winter birds that stick around. Let the kids photograph the birds and make a book that they can add to as seasons change.
  4. Stacking Firewood: Mainly because the kids unstacked our firewood this summer, playing, they can stack it this fall. Discuss fire, responsibility, safety, and gain a little exercise.
  5. Fun Play Ideas: Dodgeball, catch, freeze tag, Olympic competitions, leaf/finger painting, and an internet’s worth of other outdoor activities to choose from.
  6. Star Gazing: I don’t know one kid that doesn’t like a bonfire on a fall night. This is a great time to star gaze with your students. If you have a telescope of your own: BONUS. If you don’t, your local library may have some to check out.
  7. Local Nature Excursions: Our regional Nature Center has fantastic programs, and many specific to homeschoolers. They also have backpacks full of themes activities for two-week check-out. If you live near to a nature center, conservation area, or zoo, there are many similar programs for homeschoolers. Also, many regions have fairs, fall festivals, and orchards with regular programing.
  8. Camping: My family loves to camp, and unfortunately we didn’t have the opportunity this summer. So we’re planning one fall campout before the weather turns too cold for our littles. If you are a camping family, plan ahead, and choose a camping area that has some educational programming during you stay.
  9. Have Fun: Your outdoor play may not be part of your specific schooling, but it is part of staying healthy! Set an example by spending time outdoors, and do something you love to do outdoors. Your enthusiasm will show.
  10. Include Others: Activities can be more fun when you include people you enjoy to hang out with. Spend time outside, then come in for some hot cocoa and popcorn by the fire.

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.