Monday, March 25, 2013

Snow Ice Cream

Well the weather forecasters got it wrong again.  Two weeks ago they were predicting 4-8 inches and we barely had enough snow to turn the ground white.  The same 4-8 inches were predicted for yesterday and we ended up with 14!  

Normally we don't have "snow days" in our home school, but this was an event.  Not since the "great blizzard of '82" have we received so much in one day.  We made snow men, we went sledding,  we're shoveled the deck twice because I was afraid the weight of the snow would damage it.  And then it popped into my head that we could make ice cream with it!  Before we cleared of the patio table I ran inside to pour the ingredients into a large bowl.  You can find recipes that use sweetened condensed milk or whipping cream out there.  The great thing about this one is it uses milk (and everyone runs out to buy bread, eggs, and milk when they hear a winter storm is coming, right?).

1 Cup sugar
1 Qt milk  (I had actually separated some cream the day before so I had half cream/half milk)
1 T vanilla

Then start scooping in snow and mixing (I don't have to remind you to avoid the yellow snow do I?).  Eventually it will start to thicken up on you.  I probably added 5-6 qts of snow volume-wise.

What a simple winter treat.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Vitamix Smoothie #1:

My fellow Homeschool Crewmember, Marcy has been inspiring some of us to pursue a more nutritious lifestyle with her 40 day juice fast.  You can get recipes and follow her progress at  One of my goals this year was to get my family to eat more fruits and vegetables, especially those leafy and green ones.  Reading Marcy's blog is giving me the kick in the pants to get started.  While she is juicing, I will be making smoothies.  I don't want to debate which is better than the other, I just happen to already own a Vitamix blender and I'm going to work with what I have.

Joining me on this adventure will be Schnickelfritz (who at least has to taste each concoction) and his grandparents, Papa and Dida (they live just two minutes down the road).  Dida and I will be preparing the drinks, so we'll know what they contain.  Papa and Fritz already have anti-veggie predispositions so we'll keep the ingredients hidden from them until after their taste tests.  We're shooting for three new smoothies each week (usually for breakfast), but we may branch out into raw veggie soups and non-dairy ice creams--all made in the Vitamix.

Today's Recipe comes from 155 Healthy Smoothies and contains mango, banana, lime and (whisper) broccoli.  We'll review it for taste, cost, and alkaline/acidity.

I loaded the Vitamix with:

1 Cup cold water
2 Cups chopped broccoli florets
1/2 Cups frozen chopped mango
1 peeled banana
1/2 small peeled lime

Papa does not like broccoli so I made sure to run the blender until even the fine little green balls had been pulverized (maybe 90 seconds?).  Since I'd started with refrigerated water and frozen fruit the drink was still cold (the power of the Vitamix can actually heat soup if you run it long enough).  Here's our finished glass in the bright morning sunshine....

The Verdict:  There was enough for Dida and me to both have full glasses while Papa and Fritz both tried a few spoonfuls.  Fritz immediately called for more sugar, but gave it another go when I added a little Stevia and rated it an 7.  Papa never recognized the secret ingredient.  He rated the drink a 6 and said he would drink it again.  Dida would prefer the drink to be a little less thick.  She added some water to the Vitamix to get out the very last drops and then used it to dilute her glass.  I thought the broccoli had been well hidden by the other ingredients and felt it was on the verge of being like a nice, albeit thick lemonade (especially with the Stevia).  Perhaps a whole lime next time.

The Cost:  All the ingredients are available at Aldi's although frozen mango is only there occasionally. If you don't mind cutting your own mango, it's usually in the produce section.  I bought a 4 pound bag of frozen mango at Sam's Club for $7.98.   The total cost for all the ingredients in this smoothie comes to $1.31--cheaper than breakfast at McDonalds.

Alkaline/Acid:  A lot of the health issues we face today can be attributed (at least in part) to a pH imbalance.  A healthy body should be alkaline, but the typical American diet is made up of mostly acids.

 Our bodies are constantly trying to restore balance and that can mean stealing minerals (like calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium) from our bones and vital organs to neutralize the acid.  According to mild acidosis can cause such problems as:
  • Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood vessels and the reduction of oxygen.
  • Weight gain, obesity and diabetes.
  • Bladder and kidney conditions, including kidney stones.
  • Immune deficiency.
  • Acceleration of free radical damage, possibly contributing to cancerous mutations.
  • Hormone concerns.
  • Premature aging.
  • Osteoporosis; weak, brittle bones, hip fractures and bone spurs.
  • Joint pain, aching muscles and lactic acid buildup.
  • Low energy and chronic fatigue.
  • Slow digestion and elimination.
  • Yeast/fungal overgrowth.
So how does our drink rate?  Only the lime is extremely acidic and it was the smallest ingredient.

Mango          4.8
Banana         5.2
Lime             2.8
Broccoli        9
Water           7

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Essentials in Writing

Whenever the Crew is given the opportunity to review a Writing program, I usually jump on it.  This time, when the vendor Essentials in Writing popped up, was no exception.

Like Diogenes in search of an honest man, I have been on a never-ending quest to find a writing curriculum to meet our family's needs.  The issue is two-fold. First (and worst): my son hates to put pencil to paper.  Second:  Writing is something I think I can do, but haven't figured out how to teach.   I can explain punctuation and capitalization rules or how to diagram sentences, but I cannot think how to teach crafting words into entertaining and thought-provoking passages.    The Grade 4 curriculum ($40) actually covers both grammar and (formal & informal) writing. 

We received two DVDs with 58 lessons and a PDF download of the corresponding student worksheets and an answer key.  Following the suggested approach we would watch the video for each new lesson and complete the first worksheet.  Each following day we would work on the next worksheet in the lesson.  Most lessons had two worksheets but some had 1 to as many as 9.  Just completing one worksheet per day, the grammar portion would take 72 school days. 
We usually have about six weeks in which to used products before writing our reviews.  The vendor requested we spend half our time on the grammar portion and half on the writing portion.  I chose to go back and forth from grammar to writing because I didn't want three weeks of whining about writing, but I wouldn't suggest you do it my way.  The writing lessons tend to build upon one another (organizing, drafting, revision, edit, etc.)  so the break while we did a grammar lesson upset the flow. 

And the truth was, I didn't get a lot of whining.  Schnickelfritz had no problems watching the video or doing the grammar exercises.  The writing lessons were broken down into bite sized pieces that he could swallow without complaint.  Some didn't even involve a writing on his part.  Lesson 32 involved matching writing process terms with their definitions.  Lesson 38 involved underlining the best opening sentence among three choices.

Essentials in Writing definitely overcame our issues--my son didn't complain about writing time and I didn't have to worry about teaching because it was all done on the video.  Still, I am concerned that we weren't doing enough writing to log it as an hour of work.  The video lessons are only 3-7 minutes long and the longest Fritz took on any of the worksheets was 15 minutes.  I am planning on continuing to use this course for the rest of our school year.  Maybe I'm running out of steam, but it's nice not having to plan lessons or argue over the need to do writing today.  I'd rather have Fritz write two well-constructed sentences than fight and cajole for half an hour and end up with a paragraph of mush. 

I must say a word or two about the production quality of the DVD's.  The audio sounds "tinny: like an old time radio show and there are no closed captions available.  You can see a sample lesson here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Friday, March 15, 2013

PVC Pipe Bow & Arrows

All good things must come to an end, and we've reached our last day of the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively: Hands-On Projects.

This past weekend the Baptist Association of our county hosted the annual Truth and the Outdoors event.  The attendance figures last year were over 10,000-- nearly triple the population of the town.  There were hunting and fishing vendors of all sorts, pony rides and a petting zoo, but perhaps the longest lines every year are for the kids wanting to make bow and arrow sets from PVC pipe, pool noodles, and dowel rods.  If you're studying the Middle Ages, Native Americans, or just looking for some outdoor fun check these out.

By "deconstructing" our bow and looking at various Internet sites, I think I've been able to come up with instructions to build your own.

You'll need:

1/2 inch PVC pipe
1/4 inch wood dowels
pipe insulation (look in the plumbing dept)
Pool Noodles
Thin Nylon string
Electrical or Duct Tape

hack saw
hot glue gun
a serrated knife or electric knife (like you use to carve turkey)

Cut the PVC pipe to a suitable length.  Ours happens to be 40 1/2  inches but I've found instructions on the Internet for lengths from 38" to 50 ".

Using a hack saw, cut a 1/2 inch notch in both ends of the pipe.

Cut a piece of foam insulation to be a hand grip (about 4 inches) and wrap it around the center of the pipe.  You may hot glue it in place as ours is, or tape it tightly with electrical tape. 

Cut the string shorter than the pipe--for our 40 1/2" pipe the string is 36 inches between knots.  The shorter the string the more force will be needed to draw back the arrow (and the more force it will launch with--keep this in mind for younger kids or shooting indoors).  You'll need to thread the string in the pipe notches with the knots to keep it secured.  Some instructions have you place the knot inside the pipe and secure it with electrical tape or a PVC pipe cap.  By leaving ours outside you can remove the string and let the bow rest in a straightened position.

You can decorate the bow with markers, colored tape or paints.  For the Baptist event, volunteers helped the kids apply tape to tell the Gospel message (like the old "wordless books").  Black : sin, Red : Christ's blood, White : white as snow, Blue : baptism, Green : spiritual growth,  Yellow : the streets of gold in Heaven.

Now onto the arrows.

Our dowel rods are cut to 18  inches, again notched at one end with a hacksaw.

Cut the pool noodle into 1 1/2 inch wide sections with a serrated knife (an electric knife goes through like butter if you're planning on a quiverful of arrows).

Poke the dowel through one side of the "donut" created by the pool noodle, through the empty center and into the opposite side.  Don't let the dowel penetrate the second side completely!  You can then fix it in place with the glue gun. 

These are very lightweight arrows and when Fritz and some of his friends were playing on a windy day, I notice the arrows completely turned around in flight, pointing back from where they came.  Some instructions on the Internet suggest adding a bolt to the dowel before embedding in the noodle (in the center of the donut). You would then hot glue this in place up against the noodle.  This may help stabilize the arrow in flight.

The arrows from the event had round heads just like a noodle cross section.  When we got home it was easy to make them more arrow-shaped by cutting the foam with a serrated knife.  I drew my lines first.  You don't want to make it too pointed and cut into the area where of the dowel rod end.

The timing for this project couldn't be more perfect.  We've just been reading about Robin Hood and the Crusades in our Mystery of History Vol 2.  Now my Schnickelfritz can act out his favorite passages.  Hands-on projects and activities is where homeschooling can really shine.  Check out these other blogs for more ideas.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Roller Coaster Saved My Life

Welcome to Day 4 of the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Bolg Hop.  Today we turn to a more serious matter, Homeschooling in a Crisis. Believe me, I'm not joking when I make the following claim: a roller coaster saved my life.  I had taken my son to opening day at Six Flags St. Louis and we'd just sat down in the car of American Thunder.  When the lap bar was brought down I felt an intense pain in my lower abdomen.  This was no "I'm just too fat to fit comfortably" pain.  I called my OB/GYN's office for an appointment.  The first opening available was with the nurse practitioner and I had just about convinced myself and her that I had fibroids, but thankfully she scheduled an ultrasound just to be sure.

The ultrasound tech was training another lady during my appointment so rather than chatting with me, I ended up eavesdropping on their conversation.  Every word seemed to make my heart sink...even when they started whispering to each other I'd hear snippets like "I can't even find the edge of it."  I knew neither of them was going to make a prognosis for me.  I just had to pray and wait till I met with the doctor.  The "it" turned out to be an ovarian tumor nearly six inches across.  I was immediately referred to a gynecological oncologist.

Obviously the tumor had to come out, but I was very surprised to learn there was no way to determine if it was malignant or benign until it was removed.  I went into surgery not knowing if they would only remove one ovary or do a complete hysterectomy.  The tumor had to be extracted intact so that any possible cancer cells wouldn't have the opportunity to spread to other areas in my abdomen.  That required a vertical incision from my navel down.   In post-op recovery the doctor said my tumor actually fell into a borderline category so they ended up removing everything and we wouldn't know until my follow-up if I would need radiation or chemo.  We were wrapping up our homeschool year (the roller coaster ride was the beginning of April, my hysterectomy was May 22nd), but we had a two months of uncertainty and then weeks of recovery. 

We didn't stop school.  Schnickelfritz needed the routine and normalcy and I needed something to keep my mind occupied so it didn't wander down that dark "what if" path.  I was racing down the road to "what would I look like with no hair" and "would our son have to go to public school if I die?"  In a way I was fortunate that my husband had already dealt with thyroid cancer as a teenager.  He helped me focus on just the next step and when we reached it, we'd take the next one together.   

After surgery I spent most of the day in bed so school was often just read-alouds and snuggling (as long as Schnickelfritz didn't jostle me).   Two weeks later, when I had 77 staples removed, we got the good news.  I would not need chemo or radiation.  I still go to the doctor 4 times a year for blood work to make sure the cancer marker enzyme is still low, but we're approaching three years with no recurrence.  So now that I'm on the other side of the mountain looking back, here's the advice I'd like to share.

Prepare as much as possible
I realize that by its very nature a crisis is usually unexpected. Still you may have some warning.  I had a month before my surgery could be scheduled so I used that time to prepare freezer meals and finish the schoolwork that would be harder for us to do from my bed.  Our schoolroom is normally in the basement, but I made sure to move the books we'd still be using up to the same level as the bedroom.   Years ago when I was pregnant I was diagnosed with Placenta Previa and knew I might be on bedrest for the last trimester.  Again, I used the time I had beforehand to fill the freezer, decorate the nursery, and lay in baby supplies that I wouldn't be able to shop for at the last minute. 

Let's face it.  We all know a crisis will arise at some point.  Have you followed Dave Ramsey's advice and built up your $1000 emergency fund?  If your children are old enough have you taught them the skills they need to run the house if you're laid up in bed? 

Share your needs
How many times have you lied to your friends?  Let me rephrase many times when you run into a friend and they ask "How are you doing?" do you respond with "Fine!" even when you're not?   We tend to hide our frailty and failings from others.  I had plans and backup plans for help during my recovery.  My mother was going to come from Indiana and stay with us but her own health issues prevented it.  My step-mother was going to commute several days but she caught a terrible cold and didn't want me to start coughing or sneezing in my condition (coughing REALLY hurt).  Even my aunt, the closest of all, was too busy taking care of my grandmother who had broken her hip the week before.  I had no choice but to turn to my local homeschool co-op and let them know my needs.  They were such a blessing.  Some brought meals.  Others took my son for the day so I could rest.  One family let him swim in their pool, another family let him join their birthday party at the St. Louis Zoo.   They even went the extra mile to pick him up and bring him home because I wasn't cleared to drive.

Pray Boldly
Last fall our pastor led a series based on The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.   The point of the series is that we need to come before God with bold prayers and claim his promises.  Not that God has become a catalog service where we place our orders and wait for them to be delivered, but that we need to stop asking wimpy, nonspecific prayers.  Just after my appointment with the oncologist I ran across this passage while looking up verses for Royal Rangers in the Message translation of the Bible.

Micah 7:8-11
8 Don't, enemy, crow over me. I'm down, but I'm not out. I'm sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light. 9 I can take God's punishing rage. I deserve it - I sinned. But it's not forever. He's on my side and is going to get me out of this. He'll turn on the lights and show me his ways. I'll see the whole picture and how right he is. 10 And my enemy will see it, too, and be discredited - yes, disgraced! This enemy who kept taunting, "So where is this God of yours?" I'm going to see it with these, my own eyes - my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter. 11 Oh, that will be a day! A day for rebuilding your city, a day for stretching your arms, spreading your wings!

I heard a voice in my head saying “Your enemy has a name—it’s cancer.”   I was sitting in the dark, waiting for a tumor that may be malignant  to be removed.  I could see how some would ask “where is God” or  “why did God let this happen to you?”  But when I read God is my light and someday that enemy would be trash in the gutter I took it as God’s promise that I would make it through. After that, anytime I felt myself feeling afraid I would read and reread that passage and pray. 

My crisis was a medical one.  Please visit some of these Crewmember's blogs to see how they handled Homeschooling in a Crisis. And don't forget to check out the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Giveaway

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shh, Don't tell them they're learning

It's Day 3 of our 5 Days of Teaching Creatively and today we tackle Toys, Games & Puzzles.  When people have asked me how to get started in home schooling I've always answered "First teach your kids that learning can be fun."  After all, if you've got an enthusiastic student it makes the day go more smoothly, even if they don't like every subject.  To that end, I've always tried to incorporate games or songs where memorizing is involved.  It's like hiding the medicine in a spoonful of sugar,  they're drilling facts and often don't recognize it. 

Geography: This year Schnickelfritz is taking Mapping the World by Heart at co-op class.  We have to drill countries on all the continents at home so that he's ready for the weekly quizzes.  Fortunately for us his grandparents got him Where in the World? for a birthday present.
In the box a three two-sided cardboard maps (one for each continent except Antarctica ), a cardboard spinner base (the other side shows the seas and oceans of the world), and playing cards for every country in the world.  The cards a color coded by continent and each has a number so you can find it on the corresponding continent map. 

Without even playing the game we can practice identifying countries.  I give Schnickelfritz the name of the country and he looks on the map and tell me what number he thinks it is.  Then I  look at the card and see if he's correct. (Truthfully, I should be learning this myself).  I can shuffle the cards so I know he's not memorizing a pattern, like the geography songs they learn in class.

Of course, it's really the games that keep learning fun and Where in the World has instructions for six games of all learning levels.  We've only played the first two.

1. Crazy Countries--Like Crazy Eights, you're trying to discard your entire hand.  You may play a card if it matches the color (continents) or number of the previously played card.  This is for a young child  just becoming familiar with the countries so you can help the pronounce the name as they play the card.

2. Crazy Countries 2 -- You're still trying to match the previously played card but now you're looking at the other listed facts: Major Religion, Exports, Imports, Languages, or Population range.

The higher levels are more about correctly memorizing the Exports, Imports, Literacy rates and other facts of the countries rather than just be exposed to them and I'm not so concerned about that for an elementary student.  Stay tuned next week when we see how Schnickelfritz does on his memorized map of the world.

Math:  (This is taken from a previous post, Math Facts of Fun?  Check it out if you've got younger students to read about Jelly Beans and Knock-Out.)

Muggins is still one of our favorite games and we don't even notice that we're drilling math functions.  The board has holes numbered 1 to 36 around the four sides and uses three dice.  The player scores points for every marble on the board, but there are bonuses for creating a run of 2 or more of your marbles in a row.

In its easiest level, Muggins can still be a game of just addition and subtraction.  By using the 12-sided dice included with the game it's possible to capture all 36  numbers.  Here it's black's turn and I've rolled a 10, 4 and 6.  The 20 (10 + 4+ 6) is already taken by green.  I could make a run of three by capturing the 8 (10 + 4 - 6) or I could stop blue's run by taking 12 (10+6-4).

At the next level of the game we use three regular dice but any of the four math functions.  You either add, subtract, multiply or divide two dice to get a new number and then add, subtract, multiply, or divide that number by the face value of the third die.  You can see where the possible choices of marble placement expand dramatically.
Here are just a few options (assuming I'm blue) with a 3, 4 and 6 :

3 + 4 + 6 = 13,  already occupied
3 + 4 - 6 = 1,  available but it doesn't make a run or block anyone else
3 + 6 - 4 = 5,  this would put an end to one side of black's run
(6*4)/3 = 8,  this would keep black from forming a 4 marble run
6*3 - 4 = 14, this would give blue a run of 3

As the board begins to fill it becomes harder and harder to find numbers to capture.  I can almost see Fritz's gears churning in his brain as he tries to manipulate the numbers to come up with an open solution.  In the official rules of Muggins you are allowed to "bluff," that is try to get away with placing a marble somewhere that you can't reach mathematically.  If you get caught, that marble is removed.  If you are challenged and can explain your calculations you may remove one of the challenger's marbles.  (When we're playing for school purposes, we always "show our work" and explain our calculations so no bluffing allowed).  There's an even higher level of game play where you use two dice as noting place value.  In our sample game I could use the 3 and 6 as 36 and divide by 4 to make 9 (but that's already taken).  I love the age range for Muggins-- 8 to Nuclear Physicist.

I'm Thinking of a Person:

Of course you don't have to buy anything to come up with games for school.  We play this version of 20 Questions in the car and even while waiting in line for the roller coaster.  One person will announce "I'm thinking of a ________ person. " The blank being filled in by one of our school subjects.  It could be a historical person, a Biblical person, or a fictional person from a book we've read.  The guesser may only ask "Yes and No" questions to narrow down the field.  We play until the correct guess is made whether it's more or less than 20 questions.  We're reviewing fact as we form the questions, for example...

Did this person live in the 18th century?
Did this person write a book of the Bible?

It always tickles me that we can play with games and puzzles and log it as school hours.  The possibilities here are endless so you'll want to be sure and visit some of these other blogs and see what they have to share.  And don't forget to check out the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Giveaway.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcomme to Ye Olde Kichen

Let's be honest, a lot of Schooling in the Kitchen when you home school.  Sometimes it's just kids sitting at the table while Mom prepares food, but it's also a place for science experiments or practicing fractions while baking a batch of cookies.   When I first investigated home schooling I ran across Diana Waring's audio series "History via the Scenic Route." In it, she talks about making a more immersive learning experience by including recipes as part of a unit study.  It may be whipping up a batch of Almanzo's favorite Fried Apples & Onions after reading Farmer Boy or learning how to stir fry in a geography study of China.  Even science shouldn't be left out--what better way to experiment with salt changing the freezing point of water than cranking some ice cream!

I've never been very successful in the Unit Study approach for our school, but this year we've been studying Mystery of History's Volume 2 on the Middle Ages and I wanted to find a typical recipe from the period.   I found a treasure trove at the Medieval Cookery website.  Not only can you search by country of origin but they have  "easy" and "freezer safe"  categories.  I picked Blancmanger as " it appears in just about every medieval cookbook" according to the site

Take Rys, an lese hem clene, and wasshe hem clene in flake Water, and than sethe hem in Watere, and aftyrward in Almaunde Mylke, and do ther-to Brawn of the Capoun aftyrward in-to a-nother almaunde Mylke, an tese it smal sumdele with a pyn, an euer as it wolt caste ther-to, stere it wel; nym Sugre and caste ther-to, then make it chargeaunt; then take blawn-chyd Almaundys, an frye hem, an sette hem a-boue, whan thou seruyst ynne; and if thou wolt, thou myte departe hem with a Cawdelle Ferry y-wreten before, an than serue forth.

What's that?  You had a little trouble following the instructions?  Not to worry, Medieval Cookery also includes a modern translation.

1 pound chicken
4 cups cooked white rice (about 1 1/2 cup uncooked)  NOTE: I used brown rice, making the recipe more healthy and accurate since the polishing process wasn't around in the middle ages.
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup water
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. white pepper

1. Boil chicken until very tender and allow to cool.  NOTE: I altered the recipe here.  Since I needed to cook the rice anyway I just added the chicken to the steamer basket.  The rice cooker is like a low-pressure cooker so the chicken was very tender and shred-able by the time the brown rice was done.

2. Tease meat apart with forks until well shredded. Put meat into a large pot with remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until thick. Serve hot.

As you can see, it's not the most colorful dish I've served but I expected that from the dish's name.  Blanc in French means "white" and manger is the French verb "to eat."  Our meal would have been even whiter if I hadn't burned the bottom while exercising.  Of course the real test is the taste.  My picky eater said "It's really good" and ate his whole bowlful.  I found it a little on the bland side, but easily doctored with Ye Olde Chicken Wing Sauce.

 Now this is just one way of Schooling in the Kitchen.  Check out these other blogs for more ideas. And don't forget to check out the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Giveaway.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Incorporating Scouting into Schooling

Welcome to the first day of 5 Days of Teaching Creatively.  Here in the state of Missouri we need to log at least 1000 school hours each year, 600 of which must be in core subjects like math, science, and language arts.  That still leaves plenty of hours to be filled.  While I devote some of that time to Bible study (which I consider "essential" if not officially "core"), I allow Schnickelfritz to choose other areas he'd like to explore using 4-H projects and Royal Ranger merits as his guide.  I usually make some sort of bound notebook for written responses and pictures of his activities.  We can show the Outpost Commander to prove he's earned the skill merit and then I keep it for our homeschool records. Then it's just up to me to figure out how to log the hours.  Even in the sports merits (which would qualify as P.E.), I may be able to log some hours of Language Arts since there's usually an essay to be completed.

The great news for parents/ teachers is all the planning is done for you through the requirements of the merit. Fritz's Outpost commander makes copies of these for me as well as the weekly lesson plans for teaching the merits during meetings (which also incude answer keys).  I'm focusing on Royal Rangers here since that's what I'm familiar with, but I'm sure most of the merits are also available in Boy Scout handbooks (which are often carried by libraries).  Tell me your son (or daughter) can't find something of interest in the list below.

Air Rifle
Fire Craft*Pottery
Amateur RadioFire SafetyPresidents
American Cultures  Firearm SafetyPrimitive Shelters
American HistoryFirst Aid Skills*Primitive Snares
Animal Husbandry  First Aid-CPR*Public Health
ArcheryFishingPublic Speaking*
Architecture  Fly FishingPuppeteer
AstronomyForeign LanguageRappelling  
Atomic Energy  ForestryReading
Auto MechanicsGardeningReptile Study
AviationGeology  Rock Climbing
BackpackingGraphic Arts  Roller Skating
BaseballHealthy Body  New!Rope Craft*
Basic Sign LanguageHide TanningRowing
BB GunHobbySalesmanship
Bird Study*Home Missions – ConstructionScholarship
Black PowderHome RepairScuba Diving  
Black Powder ShootingHome SafetySculpture
Boating  HorsemanshipSenior Citizens
Budget & Finance  Hunter Education/SafetyShotgun Safety
BuglingIce SkatingShotgun Shooting
Camp SafetyIndian LoreSign Language
Camping Inline SkatingSkateboarding
CanoeingInsect Study*Skiing
CarpentryInternational Service*Skin Diving  
ChemistryJournalism  Small Bore Safety
ChessKayakingSmall Bore Shooting
Church HistoryKnife and HawkSnowboarding
Cinematography  Landscape Architecture Soccer
Citizenship  Lashing*Soil & Water Conservation  
Coin CollectingLaw  Solar Science  
CollectionsLaw EnforcementSpace Exploration*
CommunicationsLeather CraftSpeed The Light
CompassLifesaving  Sports
ComputersMammals Stamp Collecting
Crime PreventionMasonrySwimming
DartsMetalwork  Tool Craft*
Dentistry Model Rocketry  Track
Disability AwarenessModels & Designs*Traffic Safety
Dog CareMotor Boating Truck Transportation
DraftingMountain BikingVeterinary Medicine  
Dutch Oven CookingMusicWater Safety Instructor
Economics  Nature Study*Water Skiing
ElectricityOceanography  Weather*
Electronics OrienteeringWhitewater Rafting 
Emergency Preparedness*PageantryWilderness Survival
EnergyPaintball  NEW!Wildlife
Engineering PaintingWinter Camping
Family HistoryPetsWood Carving
Family Life*PhotographyWoodworking
Farm & Ranch Management  Pioneer LoreWorld Missions
Farm Mechanics  PioneeringWorld Missions - Construction
Fine Arts FestivalPlant ScienceWresting

So far Schnickelfritz has completed Presidents (that was his first choice), Chess, Railroading, Astronomy and Space Exploration.  We'll be beginning Sign Language soon.  He's also looking forward to Orienteering and Dutch Oven Cooking over the summer.

Of course that's just the way we incorporate Delight-directed learning into our home school.  Check out some of the other blogs below for more ideas.  And don't forget to check out the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Giveaway.

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