Fall Leaf Art

Fall Leaf Art

As part of our small homeschool co-op, we have been trying to incorporate art projects that coordinate with our science studies.  We’ve been attempting to also make sure that the projects chosen are not just ‘craftsy’, but have a purpose and include an art concept.  One site that I have recently discovered that assists with the teaching of the elements of art is the Kitchen Table Classroom.  I have fallen in love with her site and the variety of ways she incorporates the concepts of art in a hands on, easy to understand way. 

So, when desiring to spend an afternoon of fall art time with one of my daughters, I remembered seeing her vibrant chalk and glue leaf drawings.  It was an enjoyable time of creativity and bonding, along with an easy review of contour lines, warm vs. cool colors, and blending!  Below is what we did…


Steps to Creating Your Own ‘Fall Leaf Art’

1) Gather supplies.


  • 9 by 12 inch black construction paper
  • 3-6 leaves  (Collect a few different sizes and shapes.  Choose ones that appeal to you.  Please note, though, that some of the larger sized leaves may be easier for younger children to work with.)
  • pencil
  • bottled white liquid school glue
  • soft pastel chalks


2) Position and trace your leaves.

Arrange your leaves on a piece of black paper.  Make sure to leave at least a finger space between the leaves.  Using a pencil, outline the shape of each leaf.  It doesn’t have to be exact – just get the basic outline.  Also, study the veins of your leaves.  Then, add lines to the inside of your penciled leaf to resemble a few of those veins.


3) Outline with glue.

Use bottled liquid school glue to carefully trace over your penciled lines. It shouldn’t  be thick and gloppy.  Just gently squeeze and move slightly above your penciled line so that the tip of your bottle doesn’t rub against the paper. This will allow you to form smoother lines without breaks.



4) Air dry.

Allow your glued leaves to air dry.  Ours took about 2 hours to dry completely.  You will know that they are dry once all of the white glue lines are no longer visible.  Instead, you should see a black outline of the leaves that are non-sticky to the touch.

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5) Chalk the inside of your leaves.

Use soft pastel chalk to add color to the inside of each leaf.  Choose warm colors such as shades of red, yellow, orange, and brown.  Start in one section of your leaf adding 2 colors.  With your finger, gently rub and blend them together.  Work your way across each leave, adding color and blending to form the warm colors of fall! 



6) Chalk the background.

To fill in your background, choose a few soft pastel chalks in cool colors such as shades of blue, green, and purple.  You may wish to use the darker color on the outer edge of your paper and gradually switch to lighter shades as you move to the center of your paper or use various colors throughout.  Gently blend the colors with your fingers.



6) Voila!

And there you have simple, fun, enjoyable works of art that reflect the twirling, swirling, colorful leaves of fall!



May you enjoy the time of relaxed creativeness with your children! And, go check out all of the great projects, tips, and free printables offered by Jodi over at The Kitchen Table Classroom!

Missionary Resources for Families

Missionary Resources for Families

Our oldest daughter has had a burden and a desire to participate in missions ever since she was little.  I remember that when she was eight, she wanted to be a missionary gymnast. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t think there was a place for that particular field in missions, but I knew that God could use any gift and skill for His glory and I was just delighted that she wanted to serve Him.   In middle school, she explored the possibility of being in aviation.  As she entered high school, she studied biology and thought maybe medical missions would be a good path.  Then, she developed new interests in writing (forming and sharing blog posts about missions, scripting plays, and authoring a novel) as well as coming alongside and supporting friends who were hurting.  So, now she is praying about the possibility of teaching, writing, or biblical counseling.


At sixteen, our daughter continues to aspire to follow Christ wherever He may lead her, but she remains uncertain what that will look like.   I want her to realize that it is perfectly O.K. and expected that she not have it all figured out.   She shouldn’t.   She sometimes seems restless as she so eagerly wants to get started in the ‘real work’ and can lose focus on her current tasks (like, ahem, school).   But I want her to hold on to the truth that God has a plan, and in His timing, He will show her the way and make it clear.  Until then, it is a time of learning academically , maturing emotionally, growing spiritually, and serving joyfully as she is able right where God has placed her.  He is faithful and I know that He will use every aspect of her life events, even ones she may not currently see a purpose in, to prepare her for even greater service and joy.  God doesn’t waste anything.

Attending missionary events at church, praying for missionary families, reading updates from missionaries that our family supports, listening to missionary biographies at home, and even participating in a vision trip at a young age all have worked together to fuel her passion for Christ and to help her to be open to God’s call to go.  But, even more importantly than those experiences is God’s Holy Spirit working in her young life so that she could truly understand the Gospel at a young age, acknowledge her sins, and see her need for the One true Savior – Jesus.  I am grateful to Him!


Do you have a child in your life who is interested in missions? 

Below are various resources that our family has used over the years to support and encourage a love for God and a love for His people throughout the world.


Books & Videos about Missionaries

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  • YWAM Missionary Biographies
  • 10 Girls Who Changed the World/ 10 Boys Who Changed the World
  • Little Lights missionary books (for younger kids)
  • Hero Tales by Dave and Neta Jackson
  • Trailblazer book series
  • Around the World with Kate and Mack (Wycliffe)
  • Torchlighters Heroes of the Faith video series


Prayer Resources


  • Window on the World: An Operation World Prayer Resource (info/prayer)
  • Kids of Courage activity booklets (from Voice of the Martyrs Downloads page –Print free from online.)

About How Children Around the World Live


  • Passport to the World: Your A to Z Guided Language Tour
  • Children’s Atlas of God’s World
  • Children Just Like Me
  • Around the World Coloring Book (Dover)
  • Wonderful Houses Around the World




  • My Father’s World Exploring Countries and Cultures (elementary)
  • Geography and Missions – free printable schedule and notebook pages! (elementary)
  • Heart of Dakota World Religions and Cultures (high school)


Discipleship Course


“God involves us in His mission not because He needs us but because He loves us and in His mercy He has invited us to be involved in His sovereign design for the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth.”

~ David Platt

A Mysterious Benedict Society Themed 1st Day

Mysterious Benedict Society Themed 1st Day (1)


Meet Kate, Reynie, No. 2, Sticky, Mr. Benedict, Constance, and Rhonda Kazembe!


If you are familiar with The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, you know that these are the heroes and heroines who save the world from Ledroptha Curtain and his menacing Whisperer.

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During the spring and summer, our family thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to Mr. Stewart’s entire series.   Everyone appreciated the books so much that I sent my mom on a secret quest for small red buckets in anticipation of a Mysterious Benedict Society themed first day of school!



We began the first day by looking at the newspaper, so that, just like the kids in the books, they would discover an advertisement for attending a session of special tests for gifted kids.  The theme was revealed in an instant and smiles abounded!


Next, I hand delivered each of them a wrapped package.  Each package was identifiable with their name as well as with a character’s name from the story.  Clothing fitting for the character was inside each package.



And then, everyone was transformed…

Reynard (Reynie Muldoon): 
Reynie is great at solving riddles and complicated puzzles. He’s also a leader.

George (Sticky) Washington: 
Sticky is a superfast reader and everything he reads or sees sticks in his mind.  He never forgets anything! When he’s nervous, he endlessly tries to clean his glasses.
Kate Weatherall (AKA “The Great Kate Weather Machine”):
Kate can ‘weather’ any situation with her amazing physical and acrobatic feats. She is also known for always having her trusty red bucket filled with tools useful for anything that comes her way!
Constance Contraire:
Constance is the surprisingly useful, but completely stubborn toddler whose love for writing rude poems grates on everyone’s nerves.
Rhonda Kazembe:
Rhonda is one of Mr. Benedict’s loyal, kindhearted helpers who has an excellent memory.


After a fun breakfast with the ‘now’ traditional cupcakes, first day notes from mom, and a Scripture focus, the kids were off to take their tests!




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Just like the characters in the book series, we had our children complete 3 special tests (including the honesty test with Rhonda and the Room Challenge). ( I found a free printable test here.)

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Here is a look at a few of the other activities the kids participated in as part of our Fun First Day!


  • We filled in our 1st Day Growing in Grace Sheets and wrote Encouraging Notes to Siblings!
  • One of our older daughters created a Scavenger Hunt for her youngest three siblings.
    (Many of these were taken from the fifth book in the series called Mr. Benedict’s Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums.) 
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  • The kids played Mysterious Benedict Society Jeopardy. (for purchase over at TPT)
  • We all listened to an interview with the author
    It was interesting and it cleared up a friendly  family argument over the correct pronunciation of Reynie’s name!
  • The kids stretched their minds completing rebus puzzles. (We found a few for free online.)
  • I gave the kids scenarios and they had to pick up a tool from Kate’s bucket and tell how they would use it to solve the problem. (The free printable templates found here.)
  • The youngest two kids had fun competing to shoot marshmallows into Kate’s bucket.
  • We drew random names of items from a hat and then incorporated those words into poems (similar to those of Constance)!
  • We played around with Morse Code – delivering and receiving a message from one another.
  • We celebrated the end of our first day with a yummy dessert with daddy!


With a focus on teamwork, family, and friendship,
it was a very engaging and memorable first day to begin a brand new school year!

IMG_6237My favorite crew, all in character!

Our 2018-2019 Curriculum

Here is our family’s Elementary to High School
Curriculum Choices for the 2018-2019 school year! 



Our 3rd Grader:


  • Reading/Phonics: All About Reading: Level 4; Explode the Code books 6-7
  • Literature: The Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, Mouse & the Motorcycle, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, How To Eat Fried Worms, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, A Bear Called Paddington, Louis Braille
  • Handwriting: Hero Handwriting (for manuscript review); Conquering Cursive
  • Spelling: Joyful Heart Spelling Skills
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition: BJU English 3
  • Math: Horizons 3 (and moving into 4), Xtra Math
  • Bible: Awana T&T, daily Bible Reading
  • Additions: Trail Life (Woodland Hawk)


Our 5th Grader:

  • Reading/Literature: Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe, The Hundred Dresses, Heidi, Misty of Chincoteague, The Indian in the Cupboard, Twenty One Balloons, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Wonder, Esperanza Rising, Ginger Pye, The Penderwicks; participating in a once a month book club; free reading
  • Writing/Grammar/Composition: BJU English 5; Spelling through Scripture; Word Roots 1
  • Math: Horizons 5
  • Bible: Awana T&T, daily Bible Reading
  • Additions: violin lessons, piano lessons, gymnastics, ballet


The Elementary ‘Together’ Subjects:

  • Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy
  • Social Studies: Ancient History – Mystery of History 1 with corresponding read alouds, timeline, notebook, etc.
  • Art: See the Light Art Class (some), art projects at our co-op



Our 7th Grader:

    • Reading/Literature: Veritas Press Omnibus 2 Secondary (including The Hobbit , The Fellowship of the Ring , The Nine Tailors, The Dragon and the Raven, Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winning His Spurs, The Two Towers, Henry V, King Richard III, and The Return of the King)
    • Writing/Grammar/Composition: BJU English 7 (online, self-paced course)
    • Vocabulary: Word Roots 3
    • Math: Saxon Math 8/7 with PreAlgebra
    • Science: Sonlight H – Technology
    • Social Studies: Sonlight Core H – World History (using the core history and only selective read alouds/readers)
    • Bible: Student Leader in Awana/Trek, daily Bible Reading
    • Spanish: Getting Started in Spanish
    • Computers: CompuScholar Digital Savvy (online, self-paced course)
    • Additions: Trail Life (Navigator)




Our 9th Grader:

  • English 9 (Christian Literature, Grammar, and Foundations of Composition):
    – Full Length Novels
                    The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
                    The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
                   The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
                   God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew
                   Joni by Joni Eareckson Tada
                   Through the Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
    Foundations of Composition (Excelsior online composition and grammar course)
  • Algebra 1 with Integrated Geometry:  Shormann Algebra 1
  • Biology:  Apologia Exploring Creation with Biology
  • World Geography:  North Star Geography by Bright Ideas Press
  • Spanish 2: BJU self paced online course
  • Instrumental Music 1:  Cello lessons, Piano Lessons, Member of the local youth orchestra
  •  World Religion and Cultures:
                    But Don’t All Religions Lead to God?
                    World Religions: An Indispensable Introduction
                    Listening to the Language of the Bible
                    Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

                    Sundar Singh: Footprints Over the Mountains
                    Queen of the Dark Chamber
                    Jacob Deshazer: Forgive Your Enemies
                    I Dared to Call Him Father
                    God’s Global Mosaic
                    Foreign to Familiar
                    iWitness Heresies and Cults
  • Additions: Student Leader in AWANA/Journey


Our 11th Grader:

  • English 11 (American Literature and Composition):
    – Sonlight American Literature 430
                    Eternity in Their Hearts           Brave Companions
                    Up From Slavery                       Elements of Style
                    A Separate Peace                       Best Short Stories of O. Henry 
                   Ender’s Game                              The Chosen
                    Outliers                                        The Grapes of Wrath 
                    Evidence Not Seen                    Jacob Have I Loved 
                    Teaching a Stone to Talk        The Portable Poe
                    Death of a Salesman                My Antonia 
                    100 Best Loved Poems             Fidelity
                    How to Read a Book                Our Town 
                    The Scarlet Letter                    On Writing Well
                    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
                    Their Eyes Were Watching God 
  • Algebra 2b with Integrated Geometry:  Shormann Algebra 2
  • Advanced Biology:  Apologia Exploring Creation with Advanced Biology
  • American History:  Exploring America by Notgrass
  • Spanish 2: BJU self paced online course
  • Creative Writing:  One Year Adventure Novel
  •  Information Technology:  CompuScholar Digital Savvy (online, self-paced course)
  • Additions: Student Leader in AWANA/Journey; Violin Lessons, Gymnastics, American Heritage Girls (Patriot); Driving Practice, PSAT/SAT Practice; writing/revising/editing her own novel


Would you like to get a glimpse of what other homeschool moms have chosen for their families? 

Check out Curriculum Week posts during the 10th Annual Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!


Would you like to see our curriculum choices from previous years?

2017-2018 (10th, 8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd)
2016-2017 (9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd, 1st)
2015-2016 (8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd, Kindergarten)
2014-2015 (7th, 5th, 3rd, 1st, PreK)
2013-2014 (6th, 4th, 2nd, K, preschool)
2012-2013 (5th, 3rd, 1st, PreK, 2 year old)
2011-2012 (4th, 2nd, K, 3’s preschool, toddler)
2010-2011 (3rd, 1st, PreK, 2 year old, 4 month old baby)
2009-2010 (2nd, K, 3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived end of year)
2008-2009 (1st, PreK, 2 year old, 6 month old baby)
2007-2008 (K, 3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived mid year)
2006-2007 (PreK, 2 year old, 7 month old baby)
                  – Joyful Heart Character
2005-2006 (3’s preschool, toddler, baby arrived mid year)
                  – Joyful Heart Bible and Rhyme
2004-2005 (2 year old, 6 mo old baby) 
                  – Joyful Heart Learning

Books, Books, Books!

Books, Books, Books!


Well, it’s finally happened.  We have five voracious readers in the house!  Books line our shelves, the library basket is overflowing, and the children are requesting to go check out more.  I asked my children which books have been their favorites over the years.  Here is a list of some of their
best loved chapter books .

From second grade through middle school, they’ve compiled a tremendous list of book choices for you.  And, it’s just in time for summer reading!

IMG_3338Let’s Dig In!



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2nd Grade Favorites

Our fifth child took off with reading during his second grade year.  Yay! He went from loving the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel to Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s Nate the Great series.  He then surprised me and began reading the Imagination Station series!  He has almost completed all of the books in the Imagination Station series.  He enjoyed them so immensely that he requested that they be incorporated into his 8th birthday theme!    I’m hopeful we can find another series that he enjoys just as well.  He has (somewhat reluctantly) moved onto Geronimo Stilton books, but I’m planning on introducing him to the A to Z Mysteries, Encyclopedia Brown, and the Boxcar Children soon!


Frog and Toad

Nate the Great

Imagination Station

Geronimo Stilton

His sister, when she was 7-8 years old, loved the Amelia Bedelia chapter books by Herman Parish, the Critter Club series by Callie Barkley, The Magic Tree House series written by Mary Pope Osborne, the Thea Stilton series, as well as the seemingly endless Rainbow Magic Fairies book series by Daisy Meadows.

Amelia Bedelia

Critter Club

Magic Tree House

 Thea Stilton

Rainbow Magic Fairies



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3rd & 4th Grade Favorites

This past year, as a 9-10 year old, she has thoroughly enjoyed some classics like Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Norton’s The Borrowers series, and E.B. White’s books Trumpet of the Swan and Charlotte’s Web. She also enjoys the Winne the Horse Gentler series written by Dandi Daley Mackall, the Tuesdays at the Castle series by Jessica Day George, and the Magical Animal Adoption Agency series by Kallie George.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Borrowers

Trumpet of the Swan and Charlotte’s Web

Winnie the Horse Gentler

Tuesdays at the Castles

Magical Animal Agency

When our oldest son was her age (9-10), he took pleasure in reading the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell, The Moffatt series by  Eleanor Estes, and pretty much anything written by Andrew Clements. He also says that he enjoyed the Flashback Four series around that time as well.

How to Train Your Dragon

The Moffats

Andrew Clements’ School Stories

Flashback Four series by Dan Gutman


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5th & 6th Grade Favorites

During his 5th and 6th grade year (aged 11-12), our son came across several books and series that he was pleased to devour!  He recommends…

C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series

The Explorers series by Adrienne Kress

The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Copernicus Legacy series by Tony Abbott

The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom series by Christopher Healy

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen series by Eric Berlin

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Wizards of Once series by Cressida Cowell

The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Mysteries of the Cove series by J. Scott Savage

Masterminds series by Gordon Korman

My second oldest daughter recommends Esperanza Rising and the Starlight Animal rescue series as well for late elementary and early middle school readers.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Starlight Animal Rescue series by Dandi Daley Mackall




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Upper Middle School Favorites

My oldest daughters (ages 14 and 16) love to read as well.  Although my oldest daughter has slowed down due to her course work load and her passion for writing her own book, I just can’t keep up with all of the books my 14 year old reads!  For middle schoolers (aged 12-14), she recommends the following books and series…

Viking Quest series by Lois Walfred Johnson

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

The City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Giver Series by Lois Lowry

Keeper of the Lost Cities  series by Shannon MessengerIMG_5386

Freedom Seekers series by Lois Walfrid Johnson

The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff

The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman


Share this list with a child you love and see if they can find a new book or series
that they might enjoy reading this summer
 – either relaxing by the pool during those pesky safety breaks 
– inside sitting under a fan on those dog days of summer
– or staying cool swinging in a hammock enjoying the warm breeze! 

Best Loved Chapter Books

It’s the perfect time to delve into a great book!


Please note that the above links are NOT affiliate links.  They are there as quick links to help visitors learn more about each book or series.

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