Category Archives: Homeschooling

Dear Homeschool, I’m Trusting My Gut This Year.

Last August, I called almost every school within a 30 minute radius of our house. How much is tuition? What do you teach? How do you handle x-y-z? What’s your philosophy of education? Etc., etc.  The schools either seemed too conventional, too far, or too expensive to me. (Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist!)

I was worried how my homeschooled kid would adjust to life in the classroom– not for social reasons so much as the fact that his entire routine would shift dramatically. I also didn’t want to turn his childhood into primarily a classroom experience. Not yet, anyway. I still have an idyllic vision of a beautiful childhood filled with natural play and learning seamlessly woven together. (Don’t laugh too hard.)

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I scoured homeschool curricula, unsatisfied with much of it. Montessouri, public cyber school, My Father’s World, Christopherus… there’s a lot of good in so many of the options out there. I just hadn’t felt like I found a good fit for us.

In reality, I think I was having homeschool panic–though since I’m so new at it I can’t say for sure. I was indecisive and worried about almost any choice I might make.

Finally, I stumbled across Oak Meadow, and as I perused their curriculum samples, I looked up at my husband and told him I think I found our answer for this year. Their curricula was Waldorf-inspired, nature-filled, literature-based, inclusive of music and art, and well-rounded.  It was a perfect fit for my little bookworm who loves to play in the dirt. (We are also adding in a home Bible time.)

It’s funny, because a while back we felt we discovered that J does so much better with “real life” learning than he does workbooks and conventional curricula. But for some reason, I forgot that last year and tried to build a Kindergarten year on workbooks. Some of it went well, but most of it was contrived, boring, and frustrating enough to spark a figurative headbutting contest.

I still worry some– is our choice too distanced from traditional teaching methods? Are we spending too much money on it? Do we really need a full curriculum for first grade? (Sometimes I wish I had never gotten an education degree. I think I’d worry less without it.) However, we’ve spent a lot of time praying and hashing out the answers to these questions. For now, our school decisions feel right to us, and we think we’ve found a good fit.

So this year, despite my regular doubts and indecision, I’m choosing to dig in wholeheartedly with the curriculum we chose. So far, it’s been little short of a miracle in the way it’s helping my son to come out of himself and try new things. I’ve been consistently surprised by the connections he’s making and how much he’s been able to do. Besides that, I really feel like we are exploring material together, and that’s been really lovely.

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Will I always use this curriculum? I have no idea. Will I always homeschool? Maybe, maybe not. But this year, I’m not going to worry so much about every little thing. We are going to just keep moving ahead, and be okay with changing the way we do school as our family needs change.

 

Homeschool Worries, Wendy’s Nuggets, and the Search for Balance.

I really love homeschooling my son. We’re doing it for a variety of reasons, the chief of which being that I don’t want his childhood to be consumed by the drudgery of school/homework/weekend cycles. I want him to be able to live real life, read in the outside air, learn in practical situations, and have the freedom to do “school” outside of the 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. block. I want learning to be an enjoyable, natural thing that we pursue together. I want him to have an individualized education and freedom- and this homeschool newbie totally believes that it’s possible.

Searching for Homeschool BalanceBut the problem is that our homeschool doesn’t always actually look like that.  Sometimes school activities turn into more of a fight than a creative exploration. Sometimes I’m lacking that curiosity and passion that I so long to instill in him. Sibling arguments steal time and energy from our efforts. I get stressed out about what needs doing and I’m often far from joyful.

How can I give a zeal for learning if I don’t model it myself? How can I expect my children to be cheerful when I am so often a grump? How can I give them lots of outdoors time and freedom when I’m too much of a control freak?


It’s real life, folks. I get that these struggles are normal. But they breed nagging worries in the back of my mind. Do they like it at home? Do they feel cooped up? Would my J do better with another teacher? Will my kids resent me for not letting them go to a normal school? 

And then there’s the “homestead” life- stuff that I have often hoped will help to teach my children responsibility, work ethic, and how to take pleasure in the world we live in. I have idyllic visions of bread-baking together, caring for the animals, canning peaches in the summer and whittling walking sticks in winter. I want to give them a good childhood full of hard work and healthy habits that will give them a strong foundation for their adult life.

Yet, as I urged my children out to the barn yesterday morning, this homesteading-together-thing didn’t look so picturesque. My son drug his feet behind me, screaming, “I can’t do this!!!” as I asked him to follow me. My daughter wailed and whined, planting her feet in the cold ground in protest. The baby fussed in the carrier, and I struggled along to get the feed to the rabbits. It wasn’t exactly what I’ve hoped for.

When we had to go out later, the lunch I had packed for us was already eaten when J began complaining of starvation. I despaired- We didn’t have time for the store, I had no more food with me, and we were going to be out for at least another two hours. So I did the deed that no frugal, natural health foodies are supposed to do for their children and that I already do more often than I care to admit: I went to Wendy’s drive-through.

And in the purchase of those chicken nuggets, I found great freedom.

I don’t have to be perfect all the time.

I can compromise sometimes to save our sanity.

I can decide to focus on what’s going right instead of on what’s going wrong.

I’m reminding myself of the truth that I can’t always do everything exactly how I would like it to be done. And if I need to take a break sometimes, that’s okay. I’m not a bad mother for sending my child to a class so I can have some breathing room, or for stopping for fast food on a rough day (even when I know I really shouldn’t!).

I don’t know exactly what the balance should be yet, but I know I’m looking for a better one. And whatever it is, I’m giving myself permission to accept it.

How to Make Recycled Paper

Is it just me, or is every other mother of small people drowning in a constant supply of scribbles, cut-up scraps, and crumpled construction paper piles? We always have so. much. paper.

How to easily turn your old paper scraps into recycled and plantable paper

Last week, I was reminded by some environmentally focused books my children checked out from the library of how much I throw out. These books- and, consequently, my son- are also reminding me how much more I really should recycle.


So, except for a few special drawings, much of my kids’ writing practice and early doodles go into what we call our “cutting basket” (as seen in this post).  The cutting basket is really just a catch-all container for any paper that we don’t want to save, but want to reuse in some other way. Recently, the cutting basket has turned into our recycled paper supplier.

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Making recycled paper is a simple, fun project for almost any age, and you don’t need much to do it. (This post contains affiliate  links.) Let’s get to it! Here’s all that’s required:

      • Paper
      • Hot water
      • Your favorite blending device (I love immersion blenders!)
      • A bit of screen or a screened dehydrator sheet (We have this one, but there are much less expensive options available.)
      • Flower seeds to make your paper plantable (Optional)

Here’s how to get it done:

1. Group paper into like colors. Rip or cut each group into small pieces and put in a wide-mouth mason jar, or other heat-proof container.

2. Meanwhile, boil water in a kettle. Once water is boiled, pour over the paper and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Try to have more water than paper in your jar- it will help to make a thinner pulp mixture, which spreads easier later on.

Making recycled paper!

3. Blend the paper and water to make a smooth pulp. I do this with my immersion blender right in the mason jar. However, you could easily pour your paper and water into a conventional blender.

More recycled paper a-coming. We’ve got no shortage of scribbles to supply us! #recycledpaper #recycling #gogreen

A photo posted by Abigail Zieger (@theyrenotourgoats) on

4. If you’re adding seeds, add them to the blended pulp mixture. This way, when your new paper is done being used, you can plant it to sprout wildflowers. 🙂

5. Place your screen either outside or over your sink. (Water is about to pour over it, so don’t do this step on your kitchen table!) Pour the pulp over the screen and spread in an even, thin layer, allowing excess water to drain through.

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(This pulp is on my dehydrator screen.)

Note: Avoid holes or thick clumps in your paper as much as possible. This part can be a little tricky. I often start by spreading with a spoon, but I’ve found working with my fingers to spread the pulp gives me a little more control as it gets thinner.

6. Let your new paper dry. This can be done in the sun, near a heater, or in the dehydrator. Once it’s dry, it should peel off the screen fairly easily.

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(A different batch drying out in the sun on an old screen door.)

Your recycled paper will be thicker, stiffer, and have more texture than the store-bought stuff. It will also have a lot more character! You can use it for making note cards or stationary that folks can plant instead of tossing when they’re done.

Some artful ideas to try:

  • Add flower petals or small leaves to your blended pulp.
  • Make designs with different colored pulp to create artwork.
  • Try blending different colors of papers to create custom colored pulps.
  • Play with different textures and sizes of paper pulp.

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(A par-blended paper pulp mix that dried in this crazy, thick, colorful collage. Not super useful, but a cool experiment nonetheless.)

And that’s it! An easy way to be green, and encourage your children to care for their earth while they recycle their creations.

 

Recycled Jean Pillows, Made by Kids!

I hate throwing out old clothing- even if it’s stained and holey, I just feel like it’s a waste. I’m always trying to think of ways to re-purpose them and give them new life- and you can only have so many dust rags.

I’ll admit, I have one too many pairs of old jeans stacked up in my craft room (a.k.a. guilt room because I don’t use it enough). I finally cut up a pair of them this past Christmas to let the kids try their hand at making gifts for our families. With only a little cutting and sewing help from mom, my kiddos made these recycled jean pillows.

Recycled jean pillows, made by kids!


This was a really easy project, and the kids were proud of their work. If your children are a little older, or if you’re a little more dedicated than I, you can make these cuter with buttons, appliques, ribbon, or whatever else your little crafty heart desires.

Here’s what we did to make our jean pillows:

I cut straight across the bottom of the legs of my old jeans, using one leg per pillow. We were left with fabric “tubes.”

The kids decorated the tubes with Sharpie markers. My son wrote “I heart Namy/Pa/Grandma/Grandpa,” and my daughter happily scribbled away at them. (Permission to use permanent marker is a BIG deal at our house!)

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Next, I turned the pants tube inside out and stitched across the bottom.

IMG_0142(The sewing machine I got in 6th grade is still going strong…. mostly!)

If you want to do this properly, stitch across the top as well- all but about 2-3 inches- then turn it inside out and stuff the pillow through the hole. I chose to leave mine open so it would be easier for the kids to stuff. (But note, it’s a bit trickier to close it up later once it’s full.)

Meanwhile, I let the kids cut up old socks for stuffing. (Because why buy Polyfill when we have free stuffing material all over our house? See, even more recycling. 😉 ) They LOVED doing this part because they had special permission to touch my fabric shears. Very exciting. They stuffed their pillows to varying levels of fullness.Cutting socks for stuffing

Then I did my very lazy and sloppy way of closing things. I rolled the top edge down about 1/2″, pinned it shut without pressing it, and zig-zag stitched the whole thing shut. You really shouldn’t do it this way because it’s a bit difficult to fit under the sewing machine, but hey- it worked. (Never mind the fact that I’m probably putting undue stress on my machine and I’m lucky it’s survived for eighteen years under this kind of abuse.)

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If you chose to stitch across the top earlier and just stuff through the small hole, now would be the time to close up that small hole by hand, instead of fighting with the machine as seen above.

Ta-da! You now have fun pillows that your kids can proudly give to friends and family members- and you’ve saved a pair of jeans and some socks from the landfill in the meantime.

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My Homeschooled Kid Has a Social Life

It seems like the first question everyone asks me when they hear that I’m homeschooling is about my son’s socialization. Not his academic rigor, not his learning aptitude, not his skills, not his imagination, not his ability to apply for a job- not even my teaching abilities- but his socialization.

My Homeschooled Kid Has a Social Life

News flash: my kid has a social life. I’d like to propose that a homeschooler’s socialization doesn’t have to be quite the problem that everyone thinks it is.


There are some common misconceptions and stereotypes that inform the idea that homeschooled children are social atrocities. They can be summed up as follows:

  1. Homeschoolers don’t get to spend time with other children.
  2. Homeschoolers’ social experiences aren’t well-rounded.
  3. Homeschoolers are sheltered from people with alternate worldviews.

Sometimes these statements can be true. However, to assume that they are true of all homeschoolers is an unfair generalization. I can’t speak for everyone, but most homeschooling families that I know are working hard to counter these possibilities. Here’s how our family handles them:

1) My kids spend time with other kids at least five days a week, and sometimes more. As I detailed in a previous post, we attend gym class, homeschool co-op, library activities, art class, and a church with many young families. I also teach a few private music lessons out of my house, which regularly brings other families into our space. Unless you’re a homeschooling family that has no local activities or resources, chances are, your kids get to see other kids.

“There are actually way more opportunities to socialize as a homeschooler than I could have imagined ten years ago when I started… I’ve had to say no to a lot of activities that would have been great just to keep the value of “home” in homeschooling.”- Tessa, Homestead Lady

2) My kids get a variety of social experiences. Not only do my kids see other kids their own age, they also see people of other ages. Cross-generational interactions- and friendships- are normal to them. My kids come with me to visit an elderly friend each week. They hang out with twelve year-olds and toddlers. They see children and adults from different walks of life in various real-life situations- the grocery store, the bank, my concert rehearsals, play-dates, and- oh- classrooms too!

3) We want our children to engage with alternate worldviews, not run from them.
While some parents may want to homeschool their children in order to shelter them from differences in opinion, many of us want our children to be capable of thinking clearly about perspectives that differ from our own. We want our kids to get to know, engage with, and be friends with different types of people. After all, a person’s a person, and a person is worth our time and attention, even if we disagree.

But won’t homeschooling at least make your kid socially awkward? Kelly from Simple Life Mom retorts, “People think homeschoolers will be “geeks…” Geeks? Have you seen your local high schools? It’s not your education method that determines that, because you get all kinds in every method.” I couldn’t agree more. I went to public school all the way through, and was always considered a nerdy social outcast. Apparently government schooling didn’t do the trick for me.

Honestly, with a Kindergartener, a lot of these issues don’t really concern us too much yet. But I feel that we are setting the stage for a healthy social life as our son grows older. If anything, I think we will need to be careful not to take on too many extracurricular activities.

One caveat that I must admit is that not everyone is as lucky as we are to have so many opportunities for kids to get together. In our area, we are blessed with multiple co-ops that encompass as many families as some area small schools. We also have a LOT of free or inexpensive resources for homeschoolers here, so it’s easy for our kids to get out and see other kids. Not all parents have that luxury.

Regardless, I think that every homeschooling family I’ve ever met has worked to make sure their children have good friends and opportunities to see other people besides family. Does that mean sitting with 30 other kids the same age for 6 hours a day every day? No- but who’s to say that’s the type of socialization kids need? (But that’s for another post.)

For now, all you need to know is that school isn’t necessary for socialization. Obviously adults manage to have social lives without school. It’s not some big mystery,”  says Kathryn of Farming My Backyard. There are many homeschoolers who have a healthy social life- maybe more than you think.

Do you homeschool? How do you handle your child’s socialization?

 

 

What Homeschool Looks Like for Us

My son, at the ripe old age of five, is currently working on “kindergarten light.” However, fleshing out- and discovering- our vision of the perfect homeschool is still a work in progress.

What Homeschool Looks Like for UsI haven’t quite decided where I land on homeschool philosophy yet. I went through all the education classes and student teaching when I became a PA state-certified K-12 music teacher. My husband teaches junior high and high school classes at a private classical Christian school. Between the two of us, you might imagine that we have this whole education thing fairly well nailed down.

However, we have both become disenchanted with the mainstream way of doing school. Between paperwork, classroom management, social pressures, parent-teacher relations, extracurricular school functions, and standardized testing, it seemed that there isn’t too much time allotted for actual learning. We wanted something different for our kids if at all possible.


Counting the vehicles in the parking lot.

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What kind of different? We were left floating somewhere between a serious classical education (a la Susan Wise Bauer and The Well-Trained Mind), a Charlotte Mason education focusing on lots of outdoors time and real-life academics, and an unschooling-bent education without actually losing all formal studies. If you’ve looked into any educational philosophies, you’ll know that there’s a good bit of variance between these ideas.

Since my son is too young to enter formal kindergarten, we decided that this would be a test year to figure out what worked best for our family. I started by ordering some kindergarten curriculum for reading, handwriting, and Bible. I purchased math workbooks from the dollar store and supplemented with games on Starfall.com. We take home a huge stack of children’s books from the library each week, and work our way through classic chapter books one at a time. (Charlotte’s Web, Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, and James and the Giant Peach are a few of the ones we’ve read together.)

After a couple weeks of focusing on these curricula, I was soon reminded that my son learns more quickly and amiably when it’s not out of a workbook. While I don’t discount phonics exercises and writing practice, I have come to value more and more the beauty of letting children learn like children.

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A five year old boy isn’t made to sit down to do abstracted subtraction problems for 30 minutes at a time. However, he can easily subtract apple slices as he eats them! Real life “stealth” learning is often the most effective: Baking is math and science, a walk outside can quickly become a nature study, and reading and counting can easily be practiced at the grocery store. If I am intentional in thinking about it, it’s simple to find valuable learning opportunities in everyday activities.

Of course, everyone is always worried about the socialization of those poor, cloistered homeschool children who never see the light of day. Never fear- my son does see other children, and probably has a much more balanced socialization than his conventionally schooled counterparts.

gymclassHe attends a weekly gym class at a local university and a weekly art class at a local movie theater/community center. We are also part of a homeschool cooperative that focuses on extracurricular activities and field trips. Our co-op is open to members of all beliefs and educational philosophies, and includes families of diverse ethnicities, age range, and walks of life. And that’s not even mentioning the cousins, church friends, and an elderly friend that my son sees on nearly a weekly basis.

(Who says homeschoolers aren’t socialized?)

Sorry, I think I got on a tangent there. Back to the topic!

While I’m still figuring out exactly how I’d like to structure our day (especially right after having a baby), we are working on developing a routine that works well for our family. Our days, in theory, go something like this:

  • Breakfast
  • Academic school time (sometimes with one of our curricula, sometimes more “real life” focused)
  • Activity for the day (gym, co-op, art, library, outside time, etc.)
  • Lunch
  • Reading together
  • Nap/quiet time
  • Outdoor play/creative play indoors before dinner

You should know that this is currently my goal for a routine, not a perfect schedule. I’m still working to get into the swing of things after baby- plus I’m going back to teaching a couple nights a week, so that will provide new challenges as well.

This year is definitely a trial year of schooling, but we are gradually finding what works and doesn’t work for us. One day, when I figure it all out eighteen years from now, I’ll write a post on how it would look for us if I could do it all over again. 🙂

What does your school year look like?

Alphabet Rocks

Who needs alphabet blocks when you have alphabet rocks?

Alphabet Rocks

We get tired of using the same old homeschool manipulatives and tools over and over, so anything that 1) is a little bit novel, 2) is something my kids can do by themselves, or 3) gets them outside is always a refreshing for us.


This idea doesn’t require a tutorial. You will find no long post explaining how awesome my alphabet rocks are. I actually probably shouldn’t even spend a blog post on this, but hey- I’ve got a newborn, so that’s my excuse. 😉

Just get some pebbles and write letters on them in permanent marker. Then carry on with all your phonics and spelling activities as usual.

Alphabet Rock WordsIf you’re feeling ambitious, you could make capital and lowercase sets, multiple sets, or number/math sets. As a bonus, they also make for fun sensory play for little siblings. We stored ours in a small wooden box when we finished with them.

That’s all, folks. Have fun!

Pile of Alphabet Rocks

Thunderstorm Weather Fun

Some mama friends and I tried to meet up at our local park’s water play area last week for some splashing and relieving the summer heat. We were there for about all of two minutes when what should happen? The skies opened up in a great downpour upon our previously dry heads.

Needless to say, our picnic was spent huddled wet and cold under the pavilion, instead of on the hillside on a sunny, humid day. But what DID come out of this play date gone awry was a fascination with thunderstorms.

Thunderstorm Weather Fun


The next few days were spent exploring various thunderstorm resources for kids, and trying to make the most of their curiosity and enthusiasm for violent weather. Here are some of the fun books and activities that we enjoyed together. (This post contains affiliate links.)

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1) Thunder Cake– This book isn’t so much educational as it is just plain fun. Patricia Polacco tells the story of overcoming her fear of thunderstorms as a little girl with the help of her grandmother. The pair races against the clock to get a delectable treat- “thunder cake”- in the oven before the storm really hits. Complete with a recipe for thunder cake, this story turns potentially frightening weather into a special event to be shared. Be sure to check out the additional resources and activities to go with the book on Polacco’s website.

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2) Wind and Weather I had this book as a young girl, and it was one that survived on the shelf until I had my own kids. It’s geared towards middle schoolers, but my four year old loves the different textured pages and variety of pictures. We just read a little at a time and talked about it together. It’s pretty much always a hit!

3) Weather Wiz KidsA free educational website for kids that covers all types of weather. We read up on thunderstorms, checked out the super-cool moving graphics (what is cooler than animated lightning flashes?!?), and tried the “how a thunderstorm forms” experiment. My guy was a bit too little to absorb everything, but the fascination carries him a long way.

4) Storms, Cyclones & Hurricanes– Okay, so this is one of those really dry educational videos that everyone in your middle school classroom would groan about. But my guy loved it. He was quoting it all day. Only ten minutes long and free on Amazon Prime.

Learning about thunderstorms helped to make those big booms more fun and less scary for my guy- plus now he has an inkling of what’s going on up there during a storm! How do you learn about and enjoy potentially scary weather with your children?

Advice for New Homeschooling Families

I’m super excited and mildly terrified: we are planning on officially doing “Kindergarten light” with our son this fall. So I’ve been looking at homeschooling philosophies, curricula, Pinterest projects, and local programs to see how exactly we are going to tackle this task.

Thankfully, next year will kind of be a practice year for us because J doesn’t have to be enrolled in school yet anyhow. I don’t feel the need to be hardcore on the academics (he’ll only be five), but he enjoys doing little “school” projects- so long as I’m not twisting his arm. My goal is not to turn him into an early genius, but rather to be more disciplined in my purposeful encouragement of his natural curiosities, and to give him a gentle introduction to Kindergarten skills without the extraneous pressures of the classroom.

Advice for new homeschooling families


I started asking some other homeschooling moms that I knew for advice on the topic, and then started asking some other blogger friends too. What advice would you give someone brand new at homeschooling? What do you wish you could look back and tell yourself in the early years?

I got a whole bunch of good advice to consider, so I thought I’d share some of the responses with you. Here it goes…

Make it your own. It doesn’t have to be school at home. Enjoy the journey and the younger years.” –Mama Kautz

“Heading into our 8th year and here’s what I have to say about it: Do what works for your family. Don’t worry about what other people are or aren’t doing, if it doesn’t work for you.” –A Farmish Kind of Life

“Learning takes place everywhere, and at all times – use this to your advantage. Also, curriculum can be helpful, but remember to take what works for your family, and leave behind what doesn’t. Think of it more as a jumping off point!” – Homestead Honey

“My short, overall advice is don’t sweat it – you’re the kid’s parent and nobody will ever be a more effective teacher for that child than you are. I find that to be true even with my child that I struggle with the most – I’m still the best she’s got because I KNOW her and am so invested in how she turns out.” –Homestead Lady

“Don’t be afraid to allow your kids to pursue their interests as part of their education. Once I learned to integrate their passions with writing, reading, science, speech and even math, I was amazed with their enthusiasm and retention of information!” –Our Life Out Here

“Get a book like ‘What your child needs to know when.’ One of the most common questions I get is: How will I know he/she is learning what they should? I think a book like that is an affordable investment for a little peace of mind. Other than that–it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Yes, there are expensive curriculum programs out there, but you can also do it for practically free. And…relax! Have fun!” –Serving Joyfully

“I would say “follow your kids’ lead” and the reason I say this is because I want to instill a lifelong love of learning in my children. That is my purpose in homeschooling them. I want to give them the tools they need in order to pursue their life passions. My kids are still little (7, 4, baby) but I know when a path (or curriculum) I have chosen isn’t working. And honestly it makes more sense to find something that they enjoy and want to do, rather than trying to force them to sit through something they don’t like…or to sit at all.” –Townsend House

I also enjoyed this discussion on the true cost of homeschool vs. public vs. private school at Homechooling the Well Prepared Child: How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?

If YOU are a homeschooling parent, please be sure to comment below with your feedback too. I would love to hear your experience. 🙂

Luna Moth Discovery

One unusually chilly May morning, J and I were out for a jaunt when we nearly stumbled (literally) upon two big old green moths- complete with beautiful sweeping tails and “eyes” in the wings. I quickly snapped a picture on my phone and we ran back inside to tell Dada to come look.

Luna Moth Discovery“I wonder if they’re Luna moths,” I pondered, thinking of the only large green moth I knew. At first we thought that they were supposed to be more luminescent than the examples we found, but a quick Bing search confirmed these fine specimens as genuine Luna moths.

One of the moths flew off, but this one was happy to sit on our hands and pose for pictures.


lunamoth2 lunamoth3 lunamoth4Since it’s getting to the time of year again when Luna spottings are more common, I thought I’d do some research on them and share it with you. Here are some quick facts for you budding lepidopterologists (and your kids too):

  • They are properly known as Actias luna, are members of the Saturniidae family, subfamily Saturniinae. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)
  • They are nicknamed the Giant Silkworm Moth.
  • They can have wing spans of up to 4.5.” That’s one massive moth!
  • They fly in spring and summer, and mostly at night.
  • There are several varieties of Luna moths, apparently divided by southern and northern regions. We haven’t made it as far as deciding exactly which variety our Lunas are.
  • According to one source, Luna Moths lay eggs on the leaves of black walnut trees. Makes sense, since we have a big old black walnut in the front yard.
  • Adult moths only live about a week, and do not eat during that time! They only mate and lay eggs before dying.

Homeschoolers, here’s an opportunity to talk about the differences between butterflies and moths, as well as the characteristics of this particular moth. For my then 2 year old, that meant colors, patterns, body, antennae, and wing descriptions. In his terms, it was more like, “It’s a big green moth, mama! Look at those fuzzy antennae!” Etc, etc. Older kids may enjoy more in-depth study. 🙂

And of course, we had to let him get a hands-on experience:

lunamoth5Allowing the moth to crawl on his hand, and reminding him not to grab or touch.

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Rockin’ his sweatpants tucked into his socks! (That’s part of tick bite prevention. 😉 )

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I love that toothy smile he gets when he’s really enjoying something.

After photos had been snapped and ample time was taken to enjoy our mothy friend, my hubby gently put the moth back into the shrub we found him near. Do you find these great green beauties in your area?