Brrrrrrr! The weather here in Georgia is getting chilly, and starting homeschool after a long break can be difficult. Winter doesn’t stop us from diving into fun activities that are full of learning opportunities. Snow for us does not happen often, but we see our fair share of temperatures in the teens - yikes! What does continue every season is how much our trees change. My kids loved learning about the leaves changing colors and watching them fall to the ground this past autumn. Now they can continue studying the trees by creating winter tree art. The best part about this winter art activity is getting your kids outside to collect the materials!
We are heading to my parents' house for dinner on Christmas night. The menu and shopping list are made and thank goodness I have the easy meals to prepare this year! The menu typically does not change a whole lot each year. My dad prepares the prime rib roast, mom handles the gravy and green beans, my sister brings the salad and desserts, and I prepare the mashed potatoes. This year was a little different because I usually buy the store bought frozen dinner yeast rolls, but I wanted to make homemade yeast rolls for the first time and also incorporate my oldest child into the fun for a little home economics lesson.
This past week we learned about our senses and how different things feel, smell, and touch. So what better way to incorporate all of our senses than to make homemade yeast rolls which were already needed for our Christmas dinner. We made the dough together once we got all of the ingredients out and measured each. She helped knead the dough as well. It rolled so many activities into one, science, motor skills, and sensory to name a few. She has always said she's the baker, I'm the mixer and daddy is the fixer. I highly recommend making this with your children and as a little added tip - clean up as you go!
Here are some of the learning activities involved in this activity:
If you make this recipe a head of time and your dough balls are frozen, simply pull them out the day of and they will thaw and rise while the last minute stuff gets done.
1 cup boiling water
2 TBSP oil (avocado or canola)
1/4 cup of unsalted butter plus melted butter or brushing the tops of rolls before baking
3 TBSP granulated sugar
1 package active dry yeast (not instant or rapid rise)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp kosher salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
When I left the classroom five years ago, I was expecting our first child, and I knew I never wanted to set foot in a public school classroom again. Knowing our family is taking the road less traveled warms my heart. The whole cookie-cutter, hustle everywhere lifestyle is not a suitable life for our growing family. We are focusing on learning through play, and it is a joy to watch my little ones learn so much through real-world practical applications. They are learning to navigate and thrive in this journey, and I couldn’t be happier
Curriculum for 2-4 Year Olds - Learning Through Play
For our toddlers, play is learning from 2-4 years of age, and we do not stress over a strict curriculum giving small snippets here and there to observe how they learn. In the state of Georgia, children do not have to complete kindergarten therefore we are free to allow our children to be just that - children and learn through play! We start out waking up naturally (no alarm clocks needed), eat breakfast, and while Mommy finishes her first cup of coffee, our children are playing together with magnets, tractors, puzzles, etc. We read together, talk about everything, play games and focus heavily on building their imaginative skills and creativity with arts and crafts. When we are outside the kids like to write with chalk on the driveway, ride their bikes, play in the dirt, and of course explore our backyard.
I use a flexible monthly "schedule" to guide us through the year in case we have a day that may need more of a structured approach. Our children are introduced to educational programs like StarFall (which is where I introduce Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool) or ABC Mouse at around three years of age, but we do not stress over not completing it every day. They initiate the "book" learning for the most part and as a former teacher it is fantastic to experience child-led learning! We also belong to a local homeschool co-op that allows mommy to put on her teacher hat for students and that always brings me so much joy.
Curriculum and Enrichment 5 Years Old and Up
We use Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool to start out at Preschool level because it allows us to teach the curriculum on different days and easy to keep organized. It is a mix of traditional and Charlotte Mason approaches utilizing narration and focusing on living books. It is a complete, free online Christian homeschool curriculum. It covers reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, math, history/social studies/geography, science, Spanish, Bible, computer, music, art, PE/health, and logic.
We like Easy Peasy for many reasons. It aligns with our philosophy of what learning should look like; kids need hours of unstructured play each day to develop creativity and to pursue their passions/interests. When using Easy Peasy, we finish by lunchtime each day. The Easy Peasy curriculum provides a Christian-based world-view, and it focuses on reading. If a child can read well with comprehension, all learning will be easier! Easy Peasy might come off as being easy or lacking in content, but I believe it allows time for your child to dig deeper into what they find interesting.
Masterbooks is an easy all in one curriculum. Until our children reach the age of six, their focus is on reading/phonics, handwriting, crafts, and physical fitness. I like that Master Books is not a lot of busy work, and it covers precisely what we need. You have the freedom to use the placement test to find the proper level your child is on, in whatever manner you need, which is one of many perks of homeschooling. Master Books is a Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum and is not meant to take hours upon hours to complete. Many mistake the gentleness of the curriculum for being easy, but it is so rich in content. As a former high school teacher, if you are concerned whether or not the curriculum is "enough" the answer is yes.
My mother-in-law is raising monarch butterflies. Her caterpillars are feeding on milkweed leaves, soon they will form a chrysalis, also known as a cocoon. My children love butterflies, and raising them is a wonderful way to learn about their lifecycle. I decided to find a lesson plan to complement what they have been learning. Luckily I found a short, simple lesson plan online called the Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly created by Jolanthe at www.homeschoolcreations.net.
Our first day of homeschool, for our K and Pre-K littles, began this week. My children are excited and I am equally motivated as we continue dabbling in the ready-to-go curriculum from Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool while also focusing on just learning-through play.
This is an exciting time where not only am I excited but comfortable and confident in my homeschool routine. As a former public school teacher, being able to adjust to what works was not always possible. When I left the classroom six years ago, I was expecting our first child, and I knew I would never set foot in another public school classroom again. Knowing we are taking the road less traveled warms my heart. The whole cookie-cutter, hustle everywhere lifestyle is not a suitable life for our growing family. We are focusing on learning-through-play and is a joy to watch my little ones learn so much through real-world practical applications. They are learning to navigate and thrive in this journey, and I couldn’t be happier. This is my second year of homeschooling but my first educating two of my littles and our toddler running through the house as well. Just know that it is possible to homeschool. It is something that will take time and many changes to your routine. It is a long road but it is worth every moment.
Soaring Pine Private Academy nurtures awareness of Christian faith, ethics, and integrity creating a firm foundation in the Word of God. We nurture our children and encourage them to strive for excellence. They are taught that success is the product of effort, good habits, and self-motivation. Our hope is to create a love of learning that will inspire our children to become leaders!
We understand the basic responsibility of Christian parents is to obey Biblical instruction, which gives us the ultimate responsibility for the education of our children (Deuteronomy 6: 7, 8; Proverbs 22:6).
Soaring Pine Private Academy allows us to embrace the task of teaching and guiding our children in the knowledge of God and the Christian way of life.
Let’s talk about boiled peanuts a true 𝒮𝑜𝓊𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓇𝓃 delicacy! I used to cook boiled peanuts all day in my crockpot, but you can cut your cooking time down substantially in a pressure cooker. My 𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐲 𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐏𝐨𝐭 𝐁𝐨𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐞𝐚𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬 recipe is delicious, the peanuts come out tender, and it is so easy to make! Boiled peanuts are the perfect summertime snack. If you have never had the pleasure of eating a boiled peanut, you need to try this recipe. It’s kid-friendly and southern mom approved! Now that I know how fast and easy it is to make my life is just about complete.
2 pounds raw peanuts
1/3 cup salt
Water to cover
These perfectly moist Healthy Homemade Blueberry Muffins are a fun way to bring smiles to your breakfast table. This recipe is my healthy way to serve a less fattening, calorie-rich breakfast to my kiddos. What I love about this recipe is you can use fresh or frozen blueberries or feel free to use other fruit instead like blackberries!
A fun alternative to this recipe is adding a few drops of Lemon essential oil. The added lemon oil gives them that lemony zest and makes them even healthier. I make sure to drink lemon oil in my water daily to detox my body and create an alkaline PH. It is so important for us all to create an alkaline PH in our body because cancer can grow in a body that has an acidic PH, not an Alkaline PH. Lemon oil is the easiest way to achieve alkalinity.
If you have leftover muffins simply put them on a cookie sheet and place it in your freezer for about 30 minutes. Take them out and put them in a freezer bag and store in your freezer. You can take them out and wrap a paper towel around them and set it to defrost for a few seconds in the microwave. How is that for a healthy, quick breakfast or a tasty treat anytime you want!
For Blueberry Muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted
1/3 cup Milk
2 large eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries-fresh or frozen(thawed
1–2 tablespoon flour
sugar for sprinkling
3 drops of Certified Organic Lemon essential oil (I use Revive Organic essential oils) or Lemon extract
1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees and spray your muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper liners.
2. In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and granulated sugar and then add the yogurt, coconut oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add the essential oil or lemon extract here as well.
4. Using a wooden spoon, fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together being sure not to mix it too much.
5. In a small bowl sprinkle blueberries with 1-2 tablespoon flour and toss them until all blueberries are coated with thin layer of flour and then fold them really gently in the batter.
6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling about 2/3 of each cup. Sprinkle the blueberries generously with granulated sugar.
7. Place them in the oven and bake about 20-25 minutes or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan then remove muffins and cool on a wire rack.
As a mom of three toddlers simply getting out of bed in the mornings can be a challenge. Our body's contain serotonin which is a brain chemical that regulates your mood and if you are not in the mood to get up and get going you are going to struggle! Our serotonin dips during the winter especially when we stay inside too much and especially during this at-home quarantine. The best method to increase serotonin is to get outside in the sunshine and get some exercise because exercise is one of the greatest things to boost your mental health and immune system. If you are one of the many who has experienced gaining those pesky extra pounds known as The Quarantine Fifteen, have no fear I have some workout tips that you can find time to accomplish throughout your day!
First, let's focus on you and why you must be healthy and have all the energy to be at your best. Let's pretend you and your family are boarding an airplane. You first stow away your luggage, strap your baby into the seat, and you get comfortable as your flight attendant begins speaking over the loudspeaker. You hear her say "If there is an emergency, place the oxygen mask over your face first and then help those around you." Getting oxygen first guarantees you will have the mental and physical abilities necessary to take care of your children. Lifting your baby over and over again for the next few years is going to wear on you. You must begin getting stronger by lifting weights, strengthening your core, and don't forget the importance of cardio exercise when you are having to run after your little tyke!
Here are my four tips for finding time to exercise when you're a busy mom of toddlers:
Early morning walks. Early morning walking is so important and I can't stress enough how refreshing it can feel to get outside and take a walk especially in the morning. Grab a banana, nurse the baby if you need to or if they're eating table food fill a little reusable pouch with some Greek yogurt, avocado, and banana and give it to your babe while you go on a morning stroller ride! Recipes for my pouches are coming soon on my blog.
Floor exercises. Floor exercises that focus on strengthening your core. Your core is the foundation of your movements and exercises. If your core is not strong and stable, your exercises won't be either. You can complete these while the kids are eating or napping. It is so important to allow your children to see you exercising especially when you involve them too!
Exercise in the shower. This one can be hard for some and you want to be careful because slipping and falling in the shower is no joke and I speak from experience. How do I exercise in the shower? I do an opposite elbow knee lower body exercise, yoga stretches, and small exercises that focus on your pelvic floor (tilts, hip circles, etc.).
Power walking around the house. I power walk all day. If my kid needs some milk, I power walk to the refrigerator. Want to check the mail? I power walk to the mailbox. The baby wakes up from her nap then I run upstairs to get her. I barely sit still as it is why not run everywhere to get that extra cardio in because every little bit helps right?!
Remember, the goal is to build up your strength and energy by exercising consistently to be your best for your kids. Give yourself some grace if you need to skip a day. Most importantly this journey is about taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your little ones.
If you are searching for a kid-friendly fish and creamy pasta dinner with hidden greens that your kids will love, then taste the deliciousness. My kids love pasta and Mommy wants them to have plenty of protein and greens too! So, here is a recipe that keeps us both happy. Pasta is a go-to around our kitchen my kids would eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, every day, but I love my greens so there needs to be a little balance! This simple yet impressive, Baked Salmon and Creamy Parmesan Sauce with Pasta and Kale is a favorite in our household, however, because I like to limit my carbs I keep the pasta separate and only add it to the kid's portion. This is such a quick and easy dinner that will amaze you. So delicious, easy to make for your family, and can be made ahead! Simply pop the salmon in the oven to bake the day before you plan to serve it, and it is ready for you to add to the warm creamy sauce all in under 30 minutes.
Here are the ingredients:
1 lb. salmon skinless and boneless
1 lb package of uncooked pasta I use angel hair for the kiddos
3 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion chopped
kale (1 package of pre-washed kale, or a big bunch)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
2 garlic cloves minced
salt and pepper to taste
How to prepare:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
2. Place salmon on cookie sheet drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle each filet with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145 degrees.
4. Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in butter over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.
5. Add the kale and cook it for 1-2 minutes, until wilted.
6. Add the heavy cream, Parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer on low heat.
7. Just before serving add salmon. Stir together and serve (adding the pasta on the kids plates first and mix on their plates.
8. Garnish with grated Parmesan.
I'm a former high school teacher now homemaker and Principal of Soaring Pine Private Academy. I am so very thankful for each day that God blesses me with my sweet family. I hope you enjoy my blog where I'm happy to share our homeschool journey from our home nestled in the woods, recipes and more!