Uncle Tom’s Cabin Unit Study


Uncle Tom's Cabin Unit Study - An Island Family By Grace

The children and I have just finished reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin together, and we have been so interested in it, and had so many good discussions, that I decided to do a unit study about it, for the end of our school year. I would have said the we ‘enjoyed’ it so much, but given the heart-rending subject material (slavery), that affected so many real people’s lives, I don’t think that would have been the right word.

What the Book is About

For anyone who is not familiar with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it is a novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, written during the time period when slave plantations were still very much a real part of life in the USA. It was first published in 1851, as a serial in an abolitionist newspaper. It is written from a Christian perspective, and follows the stories of several different slave families who are very much affected by that way of life, their stories all drawn together in the character of Uncle Tom. No matter how badly Uncle Tom is treated, or how cruelly he is tempted by slave owners to retaliate, he never gives in and stoops to their level.

The book does not shy away from the horrendous details of the characters’ daily lives, but is also uplifting and offers hope, and was a challenge at the time to get rid of legal slavery once and for all . It is written in the language of the time, and I have to say, I did not read out the ‘n’ word to my children, but I did explain to them why I was doing that, as of course they wanted to read over my shoulder!

Here are the resources and activities I hope to include in our Uncle Tom’s Cabin unit study:

Lapbooks

For our unit study, I hope to make lapbooks about the novel and characters themselves, then explore some of the issues it addresses. For the lapbooks we will be using lapbook templates from Homeschoolshare. If you haven’t come across lapbooks before, you can see more about them in my post on our Martin Luther lapbooks. For more background on the novel, the author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the impact Uncle Tom’s Cabin had in the US and around the world, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center has helpful information.

Writing

Currclick sells a Progeny Press study guide to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but it is somewhat expensive, although the Homeschool Buyers Co-op does have reduced prices for buying bundles of five Progeny Press Guides. A list of free printable worksheets for Uncle Tom’s Cabin is available at Printable Worksheets, and C3 Teachers has a 7th Grade Inquiry printable on Can Words Lead to War? For discussing the book, Plugged In Online’s book review of Uncle Tom’s Cabin does include discussion questions for using with High School age children.

Geography

While we were reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, we did look at our atlas several times to see which parts of North America the characters were travelling through, and heading for, but we will probably do some brief mapwork using the photocopiable maps from Mystery of History to look at their journeys and also where slaves had been taken from in the first place. You can also get free printable outline maps from d-maps.com

Art

Bookrags post on activities for Uncle Tom’s Cabin includes various ideas for making art related to the book, and also links to paintings by Jacob Lawrence which are reminiscent of the slave trade era. This page from the Museum of Play also shows paper dolls for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which were released at the time by the Boston Sunday Globe.

Music

Negrospirituals.com has lots of information on the history of ‘Negro Spiritual’ songs, which are referred to in the scenes from Uncle Tom’s Cabin where Tom leads devotions and worship, and includes a large index of songs and their lyrics. You can also listen to a long playlist of songs here on You Tube.

Related Books

In addition to Uncle Tom’s Cabin itself, we also have Escape on the Underground Railroad, a children’s historical fiction book which our 12 year old daughter has really enjoyed, and Dave and Neta Jackson’s fictionalised biography of Harriet Tubman, the real life underground railroad ‘conductor’. We will also use children’s encyclopaedias and books I have ordered from our local library to learn more about the wider issues of slavery.

The Underground Railroad and Uncle Tom's Cabin - An Island Family By Grace

Media

As part of this study, I hope to watch the film Amazing Grace with our older two children, which covers the life and work of British politician William Wilberforce, who fought earlier to outlaw the slave trade here. The 1987 TV movie of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, starring Samuel L. Jackson, is still available on You Tube, however I will be previewing it first to decide if it is suitable for our older children. We already own an Adventures in Odyssey CD called The Underground Railroad, which is similar to Eliza and Harry’s journey in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. There is also a free audiobook of Uncle Tom’s Cabin available to download at Librivox.

Modern Day Slavery

Earlier this month we read in Trudi Parke’s 40 Days 40 Bites, which we are currently using during our morning prayer time, about child labour, which led on to a discussion about modern day slavery. As we had been reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin for a while, and hearing detailed descriptions of the people who lived it, this made the realisation all the more shocking for the children that slavery is still going on today, although perhaps not in the same state-sanctioned manner.

I have mentioned before in my post on giving on a budget that our family supports International Justice Mission, a Christian charity which investigates cases of slavery, and then takes action to free those people, and ensure that they are safe and able to enter a new life. Having been reminded of the horrors of slavery, and also having recently read an exhortation in my devotional book Praying the Names of God not to forget God’s commands in scripture to take care of the needy, I feel that this summer is an opportunity for our family to do something practical to help people in such dire circumstances.

Jesus said “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23

 

‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.’ Micah 6:8

Our older children have done fundraising before for Gospel for Asia, as I talked about in Encouraging Our Children to be Outward Looking, so I will be looking for ways this summer that we can do something to help those who are currently trapped in slavery.

These are my thoughts so far on the kinds of activities and resources we will use in our Uncle Tom’s Cabin unit study this summer. Do you have any other resources to recommend? Or are you currently doing a unit study with your family? Please let me know in a comment.


May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, Maple Hill Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.


This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Shopping through them won’t cost you anything extra, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence. I only link to products I have used and would recommend.

 

 

End of School Year Wrap Up 2015 – 2016

Home Education End of Year Wrap Up - An Island Family By Grace

In my end of school year wrap up last year, I was looking forward to using our house more fully for homeschooling, after a year of selling our house, and then moving to the island.

Unit Study

This academic year, we started with a unit study on Hebridean Island Life. We enjoyed discovering more about the history, geography and traditions of the Hebrides islands, and made lapbooks about their geology. We ended the unit study with a trip to an island life museum.

Field Trips

Apart from the museum, other field trips we have had this ‘school’ year have been for a guided tour of a nearby castle, other local sites of interest, and a recent successful fishing trip! We usually arrange trips to coincide with family birthdays, so as everyone in the family except me has an autumn or winter birthday, I am looking forward to finding some interesting places to go in a few months’ time!

Duck Pond Trip - End of School Year Wrap Up on An Island Family By Grace

A New Addition

In January this year, I happily found out that I am expecting our fifth baby! Thankfully, although I had a lot of nausea and some vomiting until the start of May, I was nowhere near as bad as I have been with previous pregnancies. We have really continued with homeschooling as normal, with the difference that I was unable to accompany the rest of the family on trips with friends around Easter time.

What has worked…

One of the things that I am most pleased about having re-started this year has been a half-hour ‘quiet time’ for everyone after our lunch each day. This has been a help since my husband went back to work in January, and particularly during the time I was not feeling well. Usually the children will do personal reading in their rooms during that time, or some other quiet activity such as drawing or writing a letter, or our son may spend extra time on his IGCSE work.

Having a daily routine which we are all used to has also been very helpful, as everybody knew what was coming next, and I didn’t need to hound anyone to do their work… usually! We started this when we began homeschooling in 2007, and it has changed and been adapted a bit over the years. We don’t have a rigid ‘timetable’ that we must follow to the limit, but having a routine for every day is a positive thing for us, while still allowing for flexibility to do other things that come up.

Educents Sale

We have enjoyed the switch to Apologia’s General Science book by Dr. Jay Wile, as a big improvement on the curriculum we were using before, which was Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. Dr. Wile’s book is much easier to prepare for, each lesson is a good length, and you can really decide where to pick and put down the book when you want to.

Our elder daughter also started using the Home Economics 1 curriculum from Christian Light Publications this year. Our children have always enjoyed cooking, baking, and learning other aspects of ‘home ec’ with me, but this course has allowed our daughter to learn more independently, and she has made us some new recipes such as Mexican Scrambled Eggs (very tasty!), and Gelatine Salad (not something we would normally eat at all!)

School Year Wrap Up - An Island Family By Grace

Christmas Baking 2015

I have been trying to incorporate more Charlotte Mason inspired learning into our afternoons, making use of the amazingly dry and sunny weather we have had this spring to do lots of nature study outside (you can see what other outdoor homeschool activities we do here). We have also been listening to Classics for Kids once a week for music appreciation, which was recommended by Sarah at Delivering Grace. Something I would still like to add more of to our home education is narration, where the child ‘tells back’ what they have been learning. I am not so good at remembering to ask for this, and perhaps having a specific time for it in our day would help me!

…and What Hasn’t Worked

What hasn’t worked so well has been trying to learn too many languages! When we moved here, I was keen for the children to learn some Scots Gaelic. However, we were already learning French and German on alternate weeks, and it was just too much. Now, our 14 year old son has chosen to stick to French, our 12 year old daughter is doing German, and the younger girls are learning basics of both. We still discuss Gaelic, often when we see Gaelic signs when we are out and about, but we are not learning it for conversation. If any one of the children wants to learn for it themselves, that will be fine.

For French, our son is using the Voici une famille francaise curriculum from Rosalind Surtees (available direct from the author), and our elder daughter is using the Deutsch Direkt textbook, workbook and cassette tapes for German. The TV series of Deutsch Direkt is still available on You Tube. They both use Duolingo for listening practice. You can see other modern foreign language resources we use in this post.

What Next?

We do not normally homeschool year round, and would usually have our holidays for 6 weeks from the end of June, but this summer we will continue with some light schoolwork. This will give our son extra revision for his IGCSE work, and mean that we can take an extended break when the baby is born in September, without me feeling guilty about it! We will still be doing lots of fun summer activities, and as my husband has just started replacing the rest of our roof, there will also be plenty of opportunities to learn some life skills by being a builder’s helper!

That is about it for our end of school year wrap up! How has your school year gone, and do you have any special plans for the summer? Please comment and let me know.


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, Maple Hill Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.


This post contains some affiliate links. Shopping through them won’t cost you anything extra, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence. I only link to products I have used and would recommend.

 

Blessings of Island Life


Thankful for Island Blessings - An Island Family By Grace

In the past month, I think it could be safe to say that we have had more dry, sunny days than we had in the whole of 2015. The weather and the scenery have been really beautiful and we have definitely been enjoying the blessings of island life.

Last week, our children swam in the sea 3 days in a row. Bearing in mind, of course, that this is Scotland, they were wearing wetsuits, but it has been such a contrast to wearing wellies and waterproofs for about 350 days last year (OK, maybe less, as we only arrived on the island in February!) I grew up on the west coast of Scotland, so I was used to midges and rain, but 2015 really was something else!

Anyway, last Tuesday our neighbours (who own the Soay sheep that I had a photo of in my Spring Garden post), kindly took my husband and the children out on the sea in their small boat. Here was the result:

Fishing Success - Blessings of Island Life - An Island Family By Grace

They also saw lots of jelly fish and the beautiful sunset pictured above, but the best part was enjoying the mackerel they each caught for breakfast the next morning!

Fried Fish - Blessings of Island Life - An Island Family By Grace

We fried the mackerel with ground pepper and Hebridean sea salt for breakfast!

Last year we had fished from the shore with the family who came to help us replace our roof, but only one of the young men of the family was able to catch anything, so it was nice for our children to have some success this time. They finished off their evening with hot chocolate and some rhubarb muffins which my son had made, so they were tired but happy.

This summer we will not be going away anywhere, due to concentrating on the rest of the roof and getting ready for the arrival of our 5th baby, but hopefully we will have lots more opportunities to enjoy the blessings of island life, whether they include fishing or otherwise!

What blessings are you currently thankful for? Please leave a comment and let me know.

 


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, Maple Hill Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.

 

 

 

 

Our New Room

Renovations ~ An Island Family By Grace

In my post 1 Year of An Island Family By Grace, I talked about the progress on our new room, which had been the dining room before we bought the house, but turned out to have a dry rot infested roof and walls. Thankfully in Autumn last year, I was able to announce that now we had a roof on that part of our house, and I am now happy to say that our new room is finished!

Other than putting pictures up on the walls, and my husband fitting the wood burning stove we have bought, everything in our new living room is completed. The room we have been using as our living room/ dining room homeschooling room will now be our dining room (and still incorporate home education!), which makes more sense anyway, as it is off the kitchen.

Renovations at An Island Family By Grace

How our living room originally looked from outside.

Finished renovations - An Island Family By Grace

How the outside of our new room looks now!

 

Our New Room - An Island Family By Grace

Our New Room - An Island Family By Grace

The fireplace will have another slate flagstone on the floor in front, once the cement has dried, and the wood burning stove will be inset.

Renovations - An Island Family By Grace

This window had been bricked up in the past, and now that the roof is all fixed, we opened it back up. It makes the room much lighter!

It is great to have the extra space, and to have more than a two-seater couch for our family of six to relax on! Not having to shuffle around the table in the dining room is a huge blessing. We also now have loft space above the living room, which has meant we have been able to store away bags and boxes that have lurked on top of wardrobes and bookcases for the 15 months since we moved in!

Next on my husband’s to do list is the replacement of the rest of our roof. It is not full of dry rot as the first section was, but began leaking big time in December, and has had a tarpaulin nailed down to it since then. We have had excellent dry and warm weather for the last week, and this summer looks to be a lot better than last year’s, so he hopes to begin work on the roof during June, and be finished before the end of summer, in time for the arrival of our new baby!

‘Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’  Lamentations 3:22-23

We have had a huge amount of work to do on the house since we moved in, and a lot more than we expected from the home report survey, however we have been blessed time and time again by God’s faithfulness in providing resources, health and generous friends who have pitched in to get the job done! I am also so thankful for my husband’s DIY abilities and dogged determination to get it all done!

Are you currently working on or finishing off any renovations? Or do you have work that is waiting to be done? Please comment and let me know!


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, Maple Hill Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.

 

 

 

DVDs for History in Our Homeschool


History DVDs for Home Education ~ An Island Family By Grace

I have talked before about how we study history in our homeschool, and one of those ways is through watching quality history DVDs.

Drive Thru History

I have just recently bought the Ancient History series from Drive Thru History. This includes 4 DVDs with 3 episodes each, covering Rome, Greece, Asia Minor and Turkey. The series is presented by American Dave Stotts, whom my children found quite funny, and covers many aspects of history in each area, including some Biblical history. Dave Stotts visits different historical sites by car (cue some crazy driving), tells stories, and some paintings and historical artifacts are shown too. There are also further series on American history and the Holy and, but we have not tried these yet. These DVDs are quite expensive on Amazon UK, but I ordered them from the US. It is also possible to download digital versions of the DVDs from christianbook.com

Modern News History

Another one we own, which is currently only suitable for our 14 year old son, is the 50 Years of BBC Television News DVD. This was produced by the BBC in 2004, so although it misses out very recent history, is a helpful overview of major news ‘events’ throughout the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st. It covers such items as rationing, the Vietnam war, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and 9/11 in New York. The DVD is divided into sections for each decade, presented by current and former BBC news readers and reporters, and gives an idea not only of major events in recent history, but also of how reporting of news has changed over this time. The nature of some of the events and/ or their graphic portrayal are really not suitable for younger children, however we felt it was a good way of our eldest son seeing a brief overview of modern history.

Rural History

Currently as a family, we are watching Edwardian Farm for our Saturday night ‘movie’ night. These are hour long documentaries, of course, rather than movies, but our whole family has been enjoying seeing Ruth, Peter and Alex running a farm in Devon, as it would have been done in the early 1900s. Lots of information about how people lived in general is included, not just farm life. We previously really enjoyed Wartime Farm, (for which we also bought the accompanying book), and Tudor Monastery Farm, and this one has been equally as good. In this case we are watching the series on Amazon, rather than DVD, for £1.89 an episode.

Obviously, watching history series and DVDs is only one way in which our family enjoys studying history. However, it is a way in which different periods in history can be brought to life, and we can see places which we may never be to visit personally. If you are interested, you can see 9 other ways in which we use history in our homeschool here.


Does your family have a favourite history series or DVD? Please let me know in a comment!


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, Maple Hill Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.


This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Shopping through them won’t cost you anything extra, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence. I only link to products I have used and would recommend.

Week 21 Pregnancy Update


21 Weeks #Pregnant - An Island Family By Grace

I am now about 21 and a half weeks pregnant with our 5th baby, and thought I would give a week 21 pregnancy update on how things are going!

I am very thankful to say that I have stopped having the continual nausea now, and have not been sick for about a month! I still feel bad if I let myself get too hungry, but thankfully it’s not too often. I ended up trying several extra things in addition to the pregnancy sickness remedies I had mentioned in my Health Goals post in April, including Sea-Band Mama, however, I found these too tight and sore to wear, despite having no swelling in my wrists. If you are in the UK and would like a free pair of Sea Bands (worn twice!), just let me know in the comments, and I will contact you (your email address won’t be published).

I have definitely begun to feel a little more like my normal self, as I have wanted to do more gardening, particularly with the unusually hot and sunny weather we had last week, and the apple trees, strawberry plants and rhubarb I had ordered for our spring garden arrived, and had to be planted. I have also been managing to do a bit more housework, which has been good, even though the rest of the family has all done a great job of it while I’ve been feeling unwell.

21 Weeks Pregnant - An Island Family By Grace

Please excuse the mess! Would you believe this was AFTER I managed to do some weeding?

I have managed a short walk on a couple of occasions, but I am hoping to get a bit more exercise in when I feel even better. I also bought the new Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook with some birthday money, and am getting back into that way of eating, although with a lot of ‘crossover’ meals (combining fats and carbohydrates), to ward off the hunger, and therefore nausea.

Two weeks ago I had my detailed ultrasound scan on the mainland, which went very well. Baby was moving around a lot, and seems to be growing well for my dates. It was very exciting to see our baby, and made everything all the more real! From now on I will have monthly appointments with my local midwife, until about 34 weeks, when it will be weekly.

21 Weeks #Pregnant - An Island Family By Grace

If you are interested, the skirt I am wearing was from Blooming Marvellous, the cardigan was bought for me by my husband at a charity shop, the scarf was from the visitor centre at Cruachan Hollow Mountain Power Station, the boots were from Amazon, and I don’t remember where I got the black top from.

Having given away almost all of our baby stuff after our youngest daughter was born 7 years ago, we have been really blessed by generous friends, old and new, who have already given or loaned us lots of items for our baby. Our eldest daughter is making an appliqued blanket, and I know that my mum is also knitting for us, although the actual item is a surprise!

I will give a few more updates before I am due in September. In the meantime, please leave a comment if you have any good tips for staying comfortable during a summer pregnancy!

All the photographs in this post were kindly taken by my son.


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, Maple Hill Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.

 


This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Shopping through them won’t cost you anything extra, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence. I only link to products I have used and would recommend.

 

 

Book Review of Raising Real Men


Christian Parenting Book Review of Raising Real Men ~ An Island Family By Grace

I had wanted to read Raising Real Men, by Hal and Melanie Young, for a long time, and in January I finally added it to the books I am reading this year.

Having read nothing for a couple of months due to my pregnancy sickness, I am now pleased to say that I can give a book review of Raising Real Men, as I have been well enough to read again- hurray!

Hal and Melanie Young have six sons and two daughters, (some of whom are now adults), and are well known speakers at homeschool conferences in the US. They have a blog at raisingrealmen.com and also a free podcast at the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network, called Making Biblical Family Life Practical, which I find very encouraging.

The subtitle of Raising Real Men is ‘Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys’, and the book covers subjects as diverse as role models, leadership, manners, resisting temptation, and leaving home.

Many of the issues touched on in the book could also apply to girls, but the Youngs explore how these relate to boys specifically, and how we might need to handle things differently with our sons.

Review of Christian Book on Parenting Boys - Raising Real Men - An Island Family By Grace

The only section of the book which I felt was not relevant to our family was the one on safety with real firearms, (handguns are illegal here in the UK, and other guns very rare), but play with toy ‘weapons’ was also discussed, so really it is a book that can be used by parents anywhere in the world.

Raising Real Men also deals with raising boys through the full age range from toddlerhood right up to entering college or the workplace. The Youngs give Biblical reasoning for their ideas on parenting boys, as well as lots of practical examples from their own family life.

I would recommend Raising Real Men to all Christian parents of boys. It is particularly, but not only relevant to home educating families, and would probably be especially encouraging to parenting of younger boys, however I found uplifting and practical advice as the parent of a teenage boy too.

Are you reading any books that you would recommend? Please share them in a comment below.


I bought Raising Real Men myself, and did not receive any compensation for this review. All the opinions are my own.

This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Shopping through them won’t cost you anything extra, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence. I only link to products I have used and would recommend.


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, Maple Hill Hop, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.

Our Spring Garden


Spring #Gardening - An Island Family By Grace

One of my health goals for this year is to grow more food in our garden. Being pregnant has slowed this down a little, but we have still been germinating seedlings and planting them out in our polytunnel. So far in our spring garden, we have peas, bok choi (I think!), and garlic out there, and I have basil, peas, courgette, cabbage and lettuce growing on a window cill in the house.

Spring Gardening ~ An Island Family By Grace

Growing More Food

I was given some money for my birthday, and have used this to order apple trees, rhubarb, and climbing strawberry plants which I will put in the polytunnel, to grow up onto the crop bars. We already have five elder trees in that garden that I planted last year. They have not grown much bigger, and I think it is because I did not keep a clear area of compost around each sapling, free from grass. My husband has also been moving shrubs out of the border in our front garden, so that we will be able to grow food there.

Back to Eden Method

During the winter, we enjoyed watching the free online film Back to Eden, which describes the method of gardening used by Christian man Paul Gautschi, and so we were inspired to start using his method to convert more of our garden for growing food. My husband now has a wood chipper (translation: new toy!), which he has been using to shred up some of the larger waste wood from the garden that was not gathered for kindling by our helpful friends who came and worked in the garden during the Easter holidays! We will use this as mulch over the cardboard and compost that we are putting down where we want to grow food.

Chicken Dramas

All the chicks we hatched last year are now laying, and our son has begun selling the eggs. We have had some excitement with our chickens over recent weeks, although sadly not in a good way. During the Easter holidays when our friends were here, one of our broody mums hatched 12 little chicks. Unfortunately, about 3 days later, all but one of the chicks had disappeared overnight. Both the broody coop and run doors had been bolted shut, so the only wild animal small enough to have fitted through the chicken wire could have been a least weasel. It is disappointing, but thankfully we have had another broody hen who is willing to sit on eggs, which should hatch within the next week or so.

Spring Gardening - An Island Family By Grace

The second disappointment with the chickens came in the last week, when the remaining chick from the ‘disappeared’ clutch died during the cold snap we had. We had snow and hail for four days running, which sadly seems to have been enough to finish it off, despite it apparently eating and drinking well. And I suppose that although the chick was snuggled under its mum, it did not have the added warmth of its brothers and sisters around it. The children were a bit sad, but hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer for the next batch of chicks. I don’t think we will hatch any so early next year.

Spring Garden - An Island Family By Grace

The view from our kitchen window last Wednesday

 

 

On a slightly happier note, one of our neighbour’s soay sheep has had the first lambs of the year, and more are on the way, so at least we can see some new spring life there.

Spring Gardening - An Island Family By Grace

What are you growing in your spring garden? Have you made any changes to your garden this year? Please tell me about it in a comment.


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.


 

Homemade Toiletries- My First Attempts

Homemade Beauty Products - My First Attempts ~ An Island Family By Grace

One of our reasons for moving to the island last year was to become more self-sufficient. It took me a while, but in January this year I finally got round to making more of my own homemade toiletries. Whether this is truly self-sufficient is debatable, since the recipes often contain ingredients such as coconut oil, which obviously does not grow locally in Scotland! However, it also allows me to avoid putting so many petrochemicals onto our skin.

Hand Moisturiser

I started last year by making hand moisturiser, using a modified version of Jill Winger’s recipe from the Prairie Homestead. I add lavender essential oil to the moisturiser, which has a nice fragrance, and is also supposed to be soothing for the skin. I do find coconut oil a but greasy, but adding beeswax does help with this. In January this year, I began trying a slightly different version of the recipe, which includes olive oil, and turns out a bit more like a homemade version of Vaseline.

Homemade Beauty Products

Lip Balm

I have also been making lip balm since last summer, using Wellness Mama’s recipe, which has been quite successful. I have used mint as the flavour, which I like, and adding the beeswax ensures that it does not melt if we have the heating on. Notice that I did not say “If the weather gets too hot”!

DSCF2676

Deodorant

Before the pregnancy sickness kicked in, I tried some new homemade toiletries recipes. The most successful has been homemade deodorant, which I made using this recipe from Joy of Artful Homemaking. I used peppermint essential oil, which I like, and this deodorant is far more effective than the commercial ‘aluminium free’ deodorant that I was buying, and a lot cheaper! Joy warns in her recipe that some people will be sensitive to the bicarbonate of soda in the recipe. I did find that my skin got a bit red and irritated for the first week that I was using it, but after having a break from it for a week, then going back to it, I have not had any further problems, and it is nice and fresh.

Homemade Beauty Recipes - An Island Family By Grace

Toothpaste

Joy from Artful Homemaking also has a mint coconut toothpaste recipe, which I made in January. I am the only person in the family who uses this item. It takes a while to get used to the bicarbonate of soda texture, but I like it, and so far I have remembered not to spit it into the sink, so as not to clog the pipes with the coconut oil! When we visited the dentist about 3 weeks after I had started using it, my dentist said ” keep doing what you’re doing”, which was encouraging!

Shampoo and Conditioner

Finally, and I feel least successfully, I have tried making my own shampoo and conditioner. I had read quite a few posts by other bloggers who had experienced damage or drying out of their hair due to using the bicarbonate of soda ‘no poo’ technique (not a term I like, I have to admit!) I therefore tried recipes for shampoo and conditioner that did not include bicarbonate of soda, and were supposed to be pH balanced, but I did not manage to get past the greasy stage with my hair. Since the nausea starting with me being pregnant, I have gone back to buying an SLS-free shampoo (which I am mixing half and half with water in this foaming pump dispenser, to save money!), and also a shop-bought ‘natural’ conditioner, but when the nausea has gone, I would like to try making my own again, possibly from this No ‘Poo, No Grease recipe by Tiffany from Don’t Eat the Crumbs, as she talks about having the same problem with homemade shampoo causing greasiness.

Facial Moisturiser

The next homemade natural ‘beauty’ recipe I would like to try is for facial moisturiser. I have seen recipes for this which involve aloe vera gel, like this one at Say Not Sweet Anne, which  includes ingredients that I already have. I have bought some aloe vera gel with a voucher I was given for my birthday, in anticipation of making some facial moisturiser of my own!

Homemade Facial Moisturiser ~ An Island Family By Grace

You can also see my Pinterest Homemade Beauty Recipes board here.

 

Do you make your own homemade toiletries or beauty products? Or does it seem like too much hassle for you? If you have a recommendation for a shampoo, conditioner or moisturiser recipe, please let me know in a comment.


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.

 


This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Shopping through them won’t cost you anything extra, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence. I only link to products I have used and would recommend.

 

10 Outdoor Homeschool Activities


10 Ideas for Homeschooling Outdoors - An Island Family By Grace

We started our usual homeschooling routine last week after our Easter break, and thankfully I am beginning to feel slightly better, although the pregnancy nausea is still there. We have had much more settled weather recently, and we were even able to do some homeschooling outdoors this past week, so I thought I would write about some of the related resources we like to use.

10 Outdoor Homeschool Activities

  1. Nature Study. One of the things we like to do most when the weather is good (or at least reasonable!), is to study nature. You can see my post with lots of nature study resources here.

    Ladybird for Nature Study - 10 Activities for Homeschooling Outdoors - An Island Family By Grace

    Catching ladybirds for nature study!

  2. Gardening. Over the years our children have enjoyed growing things as simple as sunflowers to the slightly more difficult giant pumpkins we managed to grow a few years ago. We have been given several children’s books on gardening: Gardening with Kids and Starting Gardening (Usborne First Skills), however the best thing is just to get out and start planting, watering and weeding, I think!
  3. Painting. Particularly when our children were younger, I found that the garden was the best place for letting our children paint, as there was no mess to clean up indoors! We had been given an easel from Early Learning Centre as a present, so our 2 younger daughters used either side of that, with our older children using a small table and chairs. I think this would be slightly more difficult here on the island due to the stronger winds, but chalk drawing on our concrete path has been tested and is do-able!
  4. Woodworking. When our son was 10, we gave him his first ‘proper’ tool kit- a wooden set which I got on eBay, which included hammer, chisel, junior hacksaw, pliers and ruler. He has now ‘graduated’ onto more grown up tools, but still enjoys making and fixing things. Our girls have also gone through various phases of using basic tools to create things. Something that is easy for younger children to make is a simple car or vehicle of some description, using a block of wood, onto which you nail 4 metal coke or beer bottle tops near each bottom corner, to serve as ‘wheels’. The vehicle can then be coloured or painted however they like. We found this sort of craft really encouraged our children to want to make more, and our son went on to make bird boxes and bat boxes.
  5. Games. I am not mentioning here the many sports your family could be involved in, but we have over the years invested in equipment such as a badminton set, cricket set, basketball hoop, and even croquet! Particularly when our eldest two were smaller, they enjoyed command type games, such as ‘Traffic Lights’ (give the children instructions such as red, amber, green, then add in ‘road works’, ‘speed bumps’, ’roundabout’ etc.); ‘Port and Starboard’ (tell the children to go to different parts of the ship, i.e. garden, then ‘climb the rigging’, ‘scrub the decks’, ‘walk the plank’ etc.); and ‘Simon Says’. In fact, I must start playing these again with our younger two. I also occasionally give the children scavenger hunts, and if I’m feeling really enthusiastic (!), an obstacle course. We had great fun with our own mini-Olympics in our garden during the 2008 Beijing Games, and our children still enjoy more simple games such as hopscotch.
  6. Reading Rug. If it is warm enough to sit still outside (I may require a fleece for this one!), another favourite outdoor homeschool activity for our family is to take our picnic rug into the garden for reading. Whether this is for our current read aloud book, our history time, or just personal reading, we can enjoy learning, and soaking up some vitamin D at the same time!
  7. Photography. Our son and our 9 year old daughter have been particularly interested in photography, and have bought their own cameras from eBay. Our son’s most recent upgrade has been to a digital SLR camera, which he saved up for with money from his baking and egg-selling business. We have an older photography book, which is good for teaching basic principles of photography, (although not modern technology!), but sadly many of the modern photography books which I have previously borrowed from the library have not been suitable for children. So if you have a recommendation for a child-friendly, but not too basic, photography book, I would like to hear about it! I have also found a couple of photography courses online, including this one run for homeschoolers, which I am keeping in reserve for future birthdays!
  8. Astronomy. My parents gave our son a National Geographic Telescope for his birthday several years ago, which has been of huge interest for all of our children. Particularly now that we have moved to the island, we are able to view the night sky without light pollution, and we are also able to see aurora borealis (the Nothern Lights) at various times of the year. For several years running we bought this Stargazers’ Almanac, allowing us to see in advance which constellations and/ or planets can be seen from each part of the UK throughout the year.Outdoor Homeschooling - An Island Family By Grace
  9. Map Reading. All of our children are interested in maps, although our son in particular went through a phase from about age 7-12 of pouring over maps, and even drawing his own fictional and non-fictional maps. When we started home educating, someone gave me the idea of putting maps under a clear plastic tablecloth on our kitchen table. This led to lots of interesting meal time discussions, and we could swap out the local map of the town we lived in at the time with maps of Scotland, the UK, or the world, which relatives had received free in their newspapers! We have Ordinance Survey maps of our island now, and waterproof map cases for taking them outdoors, along with easy to use compasses. This fits in nicely with our 12 year old daughter’s Exploring Geography in a Changing World book, and our son’s IGCSE Geography course. We have not done orienteering or geocaching as a family, but I think they are activities we would enjoy.
  10. Visiting Historical and Cultural Sites. This obviously takes more time, effort, and sometimes money, than the previous activities, but it is obviously an enjoyable outdoor homeschooling activity in good weather! We often go on trips to these sort of sites for family birthdays, and I try if I can to plan for somewhere that will tie-in with something that we are currently learning about.
10 Outdoor Homeschool Activities - An Island Family By Grace

We had nice weather for our trip to Loch Leven Castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots was held prisoner

These are some of the outdoor homeschool activities that our family enjoys in good weather. If of course you do not currently have good weather (as I type this it has actually been snowing on and off all day!), you can also see my post on Frugal, Screen Free, Bad Weather Activities!

Are there any other outdoor homeschool activities which your family enjoys? Please share them in a comment.


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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Monday of Many Blessings Link UpTitus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Homestead Blog Hop, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Siting Among Friends Blog Hop, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Growing in Grace Link Up,  Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, Frugal Friday, and Faith Filled Friday.


 

 

This post contains some affiliate links to Amazon. Shopping through them won’t cost you anything extra, but if you do buy something, our family will earn a few pence. I only link to products I have used and would recommend.

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