‘Hot on the Trail’ of Learning

detective 004 (2) Have you heard of the 100th Day of School?   Typically, it is an elementary school celebration and is a HUGE day jam packed with fun learning activities – especially in kindergarten and first grade classrooms across the country.  

As a former K teacher and now a homeschool mama to 5 kiddos ranging from Kindergarten to 8th grade, I’ve helped our children celebrate their fair share of 100th days around here.  With each year, it has become more and more challenging to figure out how to include both the younger and older kids in the day’s festivities, making it engaging and relevant to what they are learning.  I tried to break it to the older kids that this year the 100th day activities would be just be for the elementary aged kids, but that didn’t go over so well.  LOL!  

Take a closer look at a few of our ‘hot on the trail’ activities (across grade levels)…

detective table

hat
detective hats for our younger kids as they begin their learning investigations

tiny clues 
Tiny Clues

100 Hunt (2) 
100th Day 1-100 Sticker Hunt

100th Day Collections 
the younger kids’ 100th Day 100 Item Collections

detective donuts 
Don’t all good detectives deserve some donuts (and coffee, aka hot cocoa)?!

fingerprint suspects 
Fingerprint Suspects

 game (2)
The Cupcake Mystery Game (A ‘Clue’ Math Game)

hot on the trail mix
Our 100th Day ‘Hot on the Trail’ Mix
(The kids discovered that ten groups of ten small snack items add up to be a pretty large snack!)

revealing secret words 
Revealing Secret Words

Scripture search
Scripture Search for the older kids

secret case files 
Secret Case Files (The numbers correspond to each detective’s grade level.  =) )

detective cupcakes
A special dessert fitting for our super sleuths!

That was just a quick glimpse, but there was so much more to our day!  I’ve added our resource packet (with both elementary and middle grade ideas), to our Joyful Heart Learning shop.  Come check it out!

Cover

Sample

More 100th Day Resources:
100th Day (free ideas and printables at Hubbard’s Cupboard)
Touchdown: Celebrating 100 Days (for purchase at our Joyful Heart Learning Shop at Teacher’s Notebook)

The Favorite Part of Our Homeschool Day

Hands down, my favorite part of our family’s homeschool day is the time when we gather all together and sing hymns, review Scripture passages, use a short devotional to focus on the truths in God’s Word, and pray.

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We call this time Morning Worship, but it can (and does) take place anytime throughout the day.

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We use three binders for our family of seven.  In each binder, I placed several hymns that I desired for all of us to learn to sing as well as Scripture passages that many of us have learned previously.  I organized the binders so that there are two sheets (back to back) inside of page protectors.  Since we use them each day, I am hopeful that the added thickness will enable the sheets to last longer.

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After singing praises to Jesus and reviewing Scripture, we then answer the catechism questions as found in the book Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade.  Next, we read two days worth from the devotional.  For the ages and attentiveness of our kids, this seems to be a good amount for us.  To get our older kids more involved, I will often ask them to look up the Bible verse references beforehand and then they read those at the point in the devotional when the Scriptures are needed.IMG_6692 (2)

We follow the devotional reading with a prayer time.  In addition to praying for others, we are attempting to pray back Scripture read that day and making an effort to pray integrating what was just learned through the devotional reading.

I look forward to this short, enjoyable, focused, and intentional time with my family each school day!

Here is a free PDF containing our Morning Worship Binder materials – hymns and Scripture passages.  Enjoy!

His Great Grace

I remember this photo, this captured moment in time…
April 2010 kids (2)

That year our family grew from four sweet kids to five blessings aged eight and under.
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When our youngest child was born, we were a month or so away from wrapping up our homeschool year with a 2nd grader, kindergartener, preschooler, and toddler.

Yes, we were in the thick of it then– a beautiful mess of sleepless nights, diaper changes, toilet training, beginning reading, meal preparation and cleaning with little helpers wrapped around my feet, singing Bible verses, tears and crying out to God, survival mode, princess dresses, all the fun from this precious group of little kids, the exhaustion, the love, laughter, and hugs!
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And, as long and lonely as some of those days felt, I can never forget that this mama was being wrapped in the strong arms of God and His great GRACE.  Grace to say ‘yes’ for reading one more book, grace to keep going on planning and schooling through all the doubts and fears, grace to juggle and be spread thin each day, grace to grow through the reading of His Word, grace to have encouragement sent through a loving husband and friends, grace to share His love with these precious children that He sent to us.

His grace found me in the midst of it all.
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I look back at these photos and I can’t help but get all teary eyed.  Friends with older kids tried to tell me…  They’d say that the kids wouldn’t always be that little and to cherish every moment.  I think it was hard for me to believe.  You know, when I was in the midst of it, the days seemed so long, the nights too short, and it appeared as though those little ones would be at that stage forever.

But, five short years later, as if in the blink of an eye, I can honestly say that those years passed –way –too –fast.

Those tiny eight and six year old little girls… are now young ladies, bright, cheerful, helpers who come alongside their mama, independent learners, middle schoolers (gasp), and rivaling me in height!  That sweet, sun shiny toddler who would run around the school room and steal our hearts (and erasers) is now an upcoming second grader herself – still giggly and in love with her siblings and her Savior.
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And, oh, those sweet boys (the once so small baby and the eager preschooler) are now handsome young boys – one preparing to enter kindergarten (how can it be?) and the other one a big 4th grader.  They love to wrestle with each other, build wonderful contraptions from Legos, are adorably goofy, help their mama, and of course argue as only brothers do.
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GRACE.

The seasons change.  Our kids grow and blossom.  The challenges are different.
But God’s great GRACE and love towards His children never change.

I’m praising Him for all these years – the past, the present, and those yet to come!
I’m still in need of God’s grace and am thankful for His loving arms wrapping me tight.  He is faithful and His Grace still finds me…

  ‘ Your Grace Finds Me
by Matt Redman

It’s there in the newborn cry
It’s there in the light of every sunrise
It’s there in the shadows of this light
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountaintop
It’s there in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

It’s there on a wedding day
There in the weeping by the graveside
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace

Same for the rich and poor
Same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

From the creation to the cross
Then from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

Your great grace
Oh, such grace
Your great grace
Oh, such grace

So I’m breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
Forever I’ll be
Breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
I’m breathing in Your grace
And I’m breathing out Your praise
Breathing in Your grace
For our God, for our God

Yes, Your grace finds me
Yes, Your grace finds me

 

”I’m breathing in Your grace and I’m breathing out Your praise…”

When We Forget to Breathe

Sometimes, everyone just needs a ‘Catch Your Breath Day’.  You know, a day where the normal routine is thrown out the window, life slows down, and you can…
B R E A T H E.

(Insert a deep inhale… and exhale here.)

Because, sometimes, we forget to breathe.   Today was one of those days.  After a week of travel, returning home and jumping right back into a normal routine of kids, cleaning, cooking, school, laundry, making a grocery list to restock foods, and a late night at church – the heavy sighs and tears were indicators that I was wound tight before I even slid out from under the covers.

I felt as though I just couldn’t ‘do’ this day. 

Have you been there?   Have you ever had a day that starts and you have to force yourself, with every ounce of strength, to just get up and take the next step?  Well, that was me.  This very morning.

 

And I had a choice to make…

I could either do the same old routine and push through or start fresh.

I decided to try the latter.

So, the first thing I did was… 
Shhh
cancel school.

And set up a rotation of sibling time.  Five kids, rotating with siblings to do whatever they wanted (including having alone time during one rotation), for 45 minutes each. 

They loved it! 

And it proved to fan in a wind of pure fresh air, lightening everyone’s spirits. 

Oh, the giggles,
the secretiveness,
the creativity,
the joy of freedom
to choose
how to spend their precious time together!

I witnessed singing and dancing, bracelet making, comic book writing and illustrating, baking (with some assistance from me with the oven), engagement in games, doll playing, reading for pleasure, continuation of a school related project, and acting.

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And me?
Well, I enjoyed the opportunity to savor the sights and sounds of my children being best friends to one another, reminisce and sort through photos from our trip, check five days of the older kids’ school work that had piled up while I was away, clean some bathrooms with the cutest little helper around, and read God’s Word.

In essence, I was… 
fashioning a way to move more slowly,
creating margin when there was none, 
and remembering to take some time to breathe.

 

psalm 68 35

So thankful to God for giving me strength for each day!

 

The Top 12 in 2012

hangersAs our family goes through the steps of simplifying our home, packing, and preparing to place our house on the market very soon, my thoughts can sometimes be as jumbled as the entangled pile of hangers on our floor.

 

So, instead of tackling another closet, cupboard, or box, for the moment, I’ve decided to take a much needed break.  I’m taking a quick look back at the most read blog posts at Joyful Heart and the most visited pages inside Hubbard’s Cupboard in 2012.

 

Are you ready?  Let’s count down… to the top!

 

Top 6 Blog Posts from Joyful Heart in 2012

6) Word Family Resources
Lots of printables to use with your budding reader!
Word Family Booklet

5) Our 2012-2013 Curriculum 
We are enjoying Preparing Hearts for His Glory this year!
Historical Read Alouds

4) Child Training Bible (Review)
We still have this.  Although, we have not used it as much as we should.
CTBStartingtoTab

3) In Mourning
Wow.  This one was so difficult to write and share…and I am still reflecting on it as we continue our homeschool year.  A follow-up post will be coming soon.
scarf

2) Character Traits For Kids
Character trait definition and verse printables…
Character Trait Definitions and Verses

1) Utilizing Printable Booklets Without Actually Printing Them
A simple way to save time and money in printing as well as another way of presenting new reading material to our youngest readers..
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Top 6 Pages Visited at Hubbard’s Cupboard in 2012

6) Guided Reading

5) Kindergarten

4) ABC Centers

3) Literacy

2) Sight Words
(The Fall, Winter, and Spring Sight Word Booklets all closely followed this.)

1) Printable Booklets

I noticed that a few of my favorite posts and pages from the year didn’t show up.  So, I am including them here.  =)

My Favorite Page at Hubbard’s Cupboard 
Bible Memorization

My Favorite Posts Written in 2012 at Joyful Heart
(other than In Mourning, which is already listed above)
Strength For Summer – a post of gratitude to God for the grace He gives
Take the Bible Stack Challenge  – a visual reminder that God’s Word is for everyone

 

Blessings to you and yours in the new year! 

 

Now, where’s that packing tape?

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