Cook your way through Little House (with a free printable plan)

IMG_7147 (2)
Written by Jamie of Simple Homeschool

Ya’ll, I can’t seem to escape Little House. Is this some kind of disorder or syndrome?!

After our year of Little House in 2013/2014, I honestly thought we were done with it.

We’d read the series twice start to finish (once when the kids were 6-8; once when they were 8-10), and even voyaged in crazy road trip fashion to see with our own eyes where the Ingalls lived and worked.

But then Christmas happened–and I read this book aloud. One of the kids, who tends to be my more reluctant reader, got all into it: giggling at the funny parts, engaging with thoughtful questions. This same child? Loves to cook.

So in my “inspire, not require” brain, a plan began to brew:

There’s a lot of good food in Little House. A lot of good life lessons, too. Why not cook our way through Little House in the Big Woods?

So we did. I’m here to invite you to do the same, and make it really easy for you, too!
[Read more…]

Raising our kids one book at a time

Raising our kids one book at a time
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

Twenty years from now when my kids are grown, married, perhaps with children of their own…nothing would thrill me more than if they looked back on their childhood through the lens of the books we read together.

Wouldn’t that be cool?

They might remember these distinct “book stages” of their lives:

But why? What’s the point of all this reading that fills our days?

It’s true that creating a story-centered family culture offers plenty of benefits to children: time to bond as a family and huge academic advantages among them. But those aren’t the most important reasons to me.

DSC_9335 (1)

The real reason I’m attempting to raise my kids one book at a time is this:

I hope these titles root deep in my children’s souls, building their characters page by page, strengthening them for when hard times inevitably come, and leading them to grow up looking not just for a career but a calling.

You see, I believe my kids, and yours, are meant to impact, change, and heal this hurting world of ours. That’s why I’ve made it a priority to not just read, but to read our way around the world.

This travel plan fits every budget. 😉 And now you can come along!

DSC_9315 (1)

Reading about other cultures, countries, and those who live in them kindles our kids’ sense of adventure, grows their compassion, and gently conveys this important lesson:

This world isn’t all about me, but I can be all about helping this world.”

And that knowledge and awareness will serve our children whether they become truck drivers or surgeons, missionaries or homeschooling moms. Each and every one of them world-changers in their unique spheres of influence, whatever it might turn out to be.

It’s in honor of all your amazing kiddos (& mine) that I’ve spent the past five years researching and writing Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time.

I am all excitement and nervous butterflies, pinching myself in disbelief after ALL.THIS.TIME, to give you a taste of it today!
[Read more…]

Get your kids hooked on Shakespeare with 5 easy steps

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of this site!

Get your kids hooked on Shakespeare with 5 easy steps
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

This semester the kids and I have been diving deep into this popular history series, and recently I read aloud to them the Greek myth of the Minotaur.

Hearing the description of this half human/half beast, my Elijah (age 10) piped up with an eager hand raised and an observation:

“That reminds me of Caliban.”

Caliban, as in another beastly/human character from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which we studied last spring. And I loved that this literary allusion came from my 10-year-old son, who has developmental delays and hasn’t yet crossed the threshold to independent reading.

Every child can have a positive relationship with Shakespeare, if the master playwright is introduced well.
[Read more…]

How to get your kids started with electronics

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Little Bits and contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

How to get your kids started with electronics
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Playing with electronics has been a popular pastime in our family for about three years now.

It all started when my in-laws gave Jonathan a snap circuit set for his 8th birthday. He subsequently spent many happy hours consumed in thought, tongue sticking slightly out in concentration, as he experimented with different circuit combinations.

His enthusiasm spread to my daughter Trishna, who began to ask for a circuit set of her own the following year. At age twelve, she still plays with these on an almost-daily basis. She even took them on our trip to England earlier this summer, used them to build an AM radio and began listening to the BBC.

All of the above explains why I jumped at the chance for our family to review a new style of electronics set created by littleBits Electronics.

The main difference between these and snap circuits is that they are much more versatile, allowing more in-depth–and even practical–inventions to come from a child’s (or adult’s!) imagination.

I read a quote from a parent who referred to littleBits as “the electronics equivalent of Lego,” and that’s a brilliant way to describe these magnetic building blocks. 
[Read more…]

Curricula bliss: 12 products we couldn’t live (or learn) without

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support of this site!

Curricula bliss 12 products we couldn't live (or learn) without
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

Our family spent the first part of September on vacation–something we’ve made a tradition of the past few years. When most people head back to the grind of school and work routines, I love that we can celebrate our homeschooling freedom on an empty beach together!

Now that we’ve settled in back at home, the leaves are changing color around their fringes. Something about autumn calls us to new beginnings, to crack open dusty books, clear off shelves, and get to work once more.

Instead of sharing with you a curriculum plan for our year, I thought I’d share our curricula bliss. In all honesty, I don’t do much traditional homeschool planning–I refuse to map out a game plan for a whole year because I always reserve the right to change my mind along the way.

But I have come up with some overarching guidelines and goals–and right now these twelve products/programs have us pointed in the right direction.

We inspire, not require when it comes to academics–so the resources below are not essential elements in my kids’ education, but ones available for them to choose from.

I’ve marked the resources that we do together as a group with an (*) symbol. Those without an asterisk the kids can choose (or not)–many of these I gathered as a result of their homeschool compasses.

I call them curricula bliss because, well, for the most part, they make us happy!
[Read more…]