Our Favourite Language Learning Resources

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Our Favourite Language Learning Resources

As homeschoolers, or home educators, we really enjoy learning modern languages in our family. I have always been interested in the differences between English and other languages, so I suppose this has rubbed off on the children.

We started by learning French a couple of years ago, and have since added German last year. Due to our move to the islands, we have now started learning Scots Gaelic once a week. I learned Gaelic at Primary School and for one year at university, so I have some memory of the language and pronunciation, but I am very rusty, so I am refreshing my own learning alongside the children.

We have bought some curriculum for French- ‘Voici Une Famille Francaise’, by Rosalind Surtees, and the Speaking Our Language: Guide to Learning Gaelic  books for Scots Gaelic, but other than that, we use as many free resources for languages as possible.

Here is a selection of resources we have found useful:


French CurricullumFrench Curriculum







‘Voici Une Famille Francaise’ workbooks, by Rosalind Surtees – Christian curriculum for French (available to buy direct from the author).



Radiolingua language learning– Offers free podcasts and extra paid-for content, either direct from their website or via iTunes, for a wide range of languages. We enjoyed their ‘School Run French’ audio course, although we listened at home, not on the ‘school run’! Also offers ‘High Five French’, a video course for children.


Duolingo Link

– An interactive language learning program which you can use on their website or download an app.




BBC French – BBC’s Primary Languages website for French. Includes video clips and games.

Talk French [DVD]
and Talk French (book and CD) – both from BBC.  (I got these secondhand from a charity shop)

Orchard Toys Trouvons L’image –  audio picture match game and KLOO’s Learn to Speak French Language Card Games Pack 1 (Decks 1 & 2) from Amazon.

Picture Books from the local library


BBC German – BBC’s language learning page for German. Includes links to games, video clips, and BBC Bitesize, their online learning resources for Primary and Secondary age children.


Radiolingua language learning


BBC logo

Duolingo Link

German-Games.net – Free online German interactive tutorials and games.

Picture Books from the local library.


Learn Gaelic.net – A wide range of online tutorials, games, and worksheets for the Speaking Our Language videos.

Speaking Our Language Videos – Clips from the Speaking Our Language series.

Picture Books from the local library – our library has a particularly good selection of books, tapes and CDs in Gaelic, with it being in the Scottish Hebrides, but you may be able to get these on inter-library loan where you are

Please let me know in the comments section if there are any other free or cheap language learning resources you would recommend.

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Household Planner 2015

Since January 2014, I have been using a household planner. This came out of almost 15 years of having no real plan or schedule for when I would do housework, despite having had a chore rota for the children since our eldest was about 4 years old. I would just do the housework items that were my responsibility as and when they needed to be done. Or at least that was the theory. In reality, I would do things like cleaning the bathroom every week, but the things I considered to be of lower priority would get left longer and longer, until eventually they would need to be done so badly that I couldn’t stand to leave it any longer. Of course by this point it would have become a much bigger job. Dusting, and cleaning behind furniture would be cases in point 🙁

Cover from Strangers & Pilgrims On Earth

After reading encouraging posts by bloggers such as Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth and Amy Roberts of Raising Arrows I realised that I needed to be pro-active about planning when to do these less routine household tasks, otherwise they would seldom get done. The planner I ended up with is the free one from Susan Heid at The Confident Mom. She also sells a supplement of add-ons for the planner, which includes pages for planning gifts, weekly menus and household maintenance, to mention a few.

Household Planner Closeup

With this household planner, you have the option of printing out a pre-filled planner (this is the option I chose), or you can opt to print out a blank planner, which has the same spaces for each day of the year, but you would fill in which chores are specific to your own family, for each day of the year. I felt this would be too time consuming, so I printed out the pre-filled version, and I just cross out the chores that are not relevant to our household, such as ‘vacuum upper floors’ (we live in a bungalow!) or ‘clean 2nd car’ (we only have 1 car).

For each weekly page of The Confident Mom Household Planner there is a section at the top which allows me to shade in which days I have remembered to do certain tasks, for example ‘take vitamins’, ‘start laundry’, ‘get moving’, and ‘personal quiet time’. Particularly with the ‘personal quiet time’, I do not want shading in these circles to become a legalistic “I’ve ticked the box, so I’m a good person” type of thing, but I have found that with my personality, this sort of accountability works, and I certainly need that for the ‘get moving’ category, to see how much exercise I have been doing!

I hole punch my planner and keep it in an A4 ring binder. Although Susan Heid’s planner is a colourful one, I printed it out in black and white, purely to save colour ink, and I have used the lovely Home Management Binder Cover from Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth as my front cover, as I really like the vintage look to it, and the JR Miller quote. I have re-used an old binder, so it is perhaps not as good looking as it could be, but it does the job 🙂

Household Planner 2015

You can see from the photo that I also keep a monthly calendar on the left hand side of my binder, facing the household planner for each week. In fact it is really supposed to be a 1 week homeschool planner, which I printed out from Money Saving Mom for free. I decided not to use it for that, and so hole punched it on the ‘wrong’ side so that I could reuse it as a calendar to see what is coming up over the next month for our family. You will also see how much (or perhaps how little!) of my housework I actually did that week- can we blame it on the fact I was not in my own house at the time?!

Household Planner Dividers

The other thing I have done (not my own idea!), is to use dividers, so that I can easily find things in different categories. At the moment I’m not really using this function of my planner- let’s face it, we just moved house 3 weeks ago, so the priority is to get the basics done- but you can see that in the preparation for our move, it was useful for me to have separate sections of my folder for things we would need to buy, items I wanted to make sure we didn’t pack away, and Christmas planning, as we were going to be spending Christmas at my parents’ house.

Please let me know what you use to plan household tasks (if anything!), and if you have any extra tips!

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Linked up at Modest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Mom 2 Mom Monday, Titus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Hearts for Home and Thrifty Thursday.

Beginner’s Sewing Project- Draught Excluder

* Warning- Experienced and Accomplished Seamstresses Look Away Now! *

Homemade Draught Excluder

Let me begin by saying, I am not gifted in sewing. I will have a go, and I have been keen for a long time to make homemade furnishings and other crafts, but I am not very skilled or delicate in this regard! However, in the event that someone else is reading this who is in the situation I was in when we got married (i.e. artistically and aesthetically challenged!), perhaps this post will be of help.

Our new house is a traditional Scottish highland croft house- stone built, and at the moment quite draughty. My husband has already made huge progress on damp and draught-proofing the house, but in the mean time, I have been putting up door curtains with blankets sewn on behind them, and I have made a draught excluder for the front door, which needs repaired.

Step by Step Instructions to Sew Your Own Draught Excluder:

1. Measure the width of the doorway. Make sure you add a couple of inches to this to allow for seams, and the material stretching over the stuffing.

Fabric for Beginner's Sewing Project

2. Measure out the correct amount of your chosen fabric to match your doorway (I had been given a fairly large piece of thick fabric with Latin writing on it, from a kind customer of my husband’s, before we moved), and mark on the fabric with pencil or chalk.

3. To make a nice wide draught excluder, measure 12 inches wide, and again mark the fabric with chalk or pencil.

4. Cut out your fabric using sharp scissors, fabric sheers or a rotary cutter. You should now have a large rectangle of fabric, 12 inches by whatever the width of your doorway is.

5. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, with the pattern on the inside.

6. Pin one of the short ends and the long side, leaving the other short end open, to allow stuffing to be inserted.

Draught Excluder Instructions

Click to enlarge instructions.



7. Sew the pinned sides leaving a half inch border outside your sewing. Be sure to go over each end of your stitching, to make sure it doesn’t unravel.

I used a sewing machine for speed and neatness (I already mentioned my lack of skill in sewing by hand!), but you could sew it by hand if you don’t have a machine.

Sewing Project in Progress

8. Snip off a small triangle of fabric from outside your seam, at the corners of the small end you have sewed. This will allow the stuffing to get completely to the ends of the draught excluder and the corners to sit properly.

9. Turn the fabric the right way out again and stuff with something cosy that will keep the draughts out! If you have shop-bought stuffing or batting that is great, but I cut some leftover blanket from my curtain lining job into strips, and used that.

Stuffing for Draught Excluder

10. Fold the edges of the open end inside the draught excluder about half an inch, and pin them shut.

11. Machine or hand sew the end closed, removing the pins as you go, and making sure you go over the start and end of your stitches so that it does not come undone.

12. Place your newly finished draught excluder in front of the offending door- it should now be a lot less draughty!

Homemade Draught Excluder

The finished draught excluder! This door is a bit more photogenic than the broken door with duct-taped cat flap that I am actually using it for!

In future I would like to post on more Beginner’s Sewing Projects. Please comment below if you have any ideas or (gentle) constructive criticism!

You can download a PDF of the instructions for the draught excluder sewing project below, if you would like to print them.

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Linked up at Modest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Mom 2 Mom Monday, Titus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Hearts for Home and Thrifty Thursday.


Ways Our Family Saves Money

This post contains some affiliate links. Shopping through them won’t cost you any more, but if you buy something, our family will earn a few pence.

British coins

Source: www.freeimages.co.uk


I am not an expert in frugality or being thrifty by any means, and I don’t do extreme couponing, but over the years, there have been several areas in which we have developed our own habits and ways of saving money. Most of the following, I have gleaned from helpful friends or blogs that I like to follow, but I have recently found lots of useful tips on Pinterest! Here are some of the ways our family saves money:

1. Make homemade as much as possible.

I am still learning how to make things at home. Often I have been surprised that I am actually able to to make a homemade version of something, or that actually tastes good! Currently we make homemade:

  • Bread (although I do use a breadmaker)
  • Most main meals!
  • Washing powder
  • Fabric Conditioner
  • Marmalades, chutneys and jams
  • Play dough
  • Toiletries and beauty items
  • Cards and Gifts
  • Haircuts!

Obviously it takes more time and effort to make homemade versions, but it is (usually) cheaper. To make homemade bread more cheaply, I buy sacks of chapatti flour from Tesco, as strong bread flour is so expensive, and add wheat bran to this (which I got from Approved Foods), to make it healthier.

2. For Non-Food Items and Clothes, Buy Secondhand or Get it Free.

We have found that often secondhand items are in such good condition that they look new, (although I am willing to accept the less-than-perfect look, I realise not everyone else is!)

Good places to buy secondhand are:

  • Charity shops
  • eBay
  • Gumtree
  • Preloved
  • AmazonFree items:
    • Freecycle
    • Freegle
    • Our previous homeschoolers’ group has a ‘Giveaway Table’ at each meeting, a great way of sharing used books, clothing etc. with other homeschooling families.

    We also purchased a foot measuring gauge from Startrite Shoes, so that I can measure the children’s feet and buy the correct size of shoes secondhand.

    3. Extra Ways to Save Money on Food Shopping

    Saving Money on Food Shopping

    Source: www.freeimages.co.uk

    This site was recommend by  Angelic Scalliwags blog a few months ago, and since signing up to it, I have definitely saved a lot more on food!

    I already order my food online and buy generic ‘value’ brands on most of our food (although I do like to buy fair trade tea, coffee, bananas and chocolate, and organic beef, which are obviously very expensive), but mysupermarket allows me to save even more, not only by comparing prices between the top 11 supermarkets in the UK, but also by telling me if something I usually buy could be swapped for a similar item which is currently on offer.

    Say I usually buy Asda Smartprice Butter at 98p, but their standard butter is now on sale at 87p, mysupermarket will show ‘swap and save 12p’ when I click on my usual butter. This means that although I am shopping online, I will still always see the best deals. I then ‘click and collect’ my order from the supermarket, which is free.

    • Order from Approved Food

    A good friend let me know about Approved Food a couple of years ago. They sell foods that are near or past their ‘best before’ dates, and are therefore cheaper. You pay the same delivery charge up to a certain weight, whether the box is full or empty, so it is worthwhile filling a box to it’s maximum weight, which you can keep an eye on in the sidebar.

    Sometimes when I have a look on Approved Food, they only have junk food or other things I wouldn’t normally buy, but I have often found things like dried beans, wholemeal pasta and wheat bran on there that are much cheaper than I could get elsewhere, so I have stocked up on them.

    • Buy in Bulk

    I do not do a lot of bulk shopping, but items I will buy a large quantity of are lentils, dried beans, nuts and seeds and flour (the chapatti flour I previously mentioned). Obviously I will only do this if I have room to store it, and the unit price is actually less than a small pack.

    I have been able to find these larger packs of food in some cases in the supermarket (as in the case of the flour), but otherwise I have ordered from Amazon Subscribe & Save or Approved Food. I have friends who shop at Costco in Edinburgh, or at cash ‘n’ carry stores in other cities in Scotland, but so far we haven’t travelled that far afield to buy food 🙂

    4. Earn Vouchers to Spend

    One of the biggest ways I save on what we would have spent is by earning vouchers to spend on what we want to buy.

    I am a member of various survey companies, for whom I complete online surveys as and when I am able:

    I have tried other companies before but these ones are the companies I prefer, as they do not send me too many surveys, or a lot of surveys on topics that are irrelevant to me, which I would get ‘screened out’ of after a few questions, therefore wasting time.

    I take part in Shop and Scan, where I scan any food items I buy each week. This only takes me slightly longer to put away my shopping than otherwise, and is a fairly low-input way to earn vouchers. You can apply to join Shop and Scan here.

    From these and other studies I take part in, I use the vouchers I earn mainly to buy books for the children from Amazon, but also toiletries and occasionally for home and DIY items in other shops.

    5. Use Comparison and Cashback Sites

    I know some people find this a hassle, but I switch our companies for telephone, broadband, utilities, home and car insurance every year.

    It takes a bit of effort each time our current contract is up, but it saves hundreds of pounds every year, rather than allowing our deal to revert back to a standard or even higher tariff at the end of what we were originally offered. Using the comparison sites such as Go Compare, moneysupermarket.com or comparethemarket allows us to find the cheapest deal.

    I have also received over £300 cashback over the past 5 years by buying products and services through Top Cashback (we have also previously used other cahback sites such as Quidco). Sometimes the cashback is only a few pence, but other times if I am buying a ‘big ticket item’ (not often!), or switching our utilities, the cashback is tens of pounds. It is only worth it if the cashback will make the item cheaper than any other good deal I’ve found through a comparison site, of course.

    6. Use the Wealth of Free Resources for Homeschooling (and Homemaking!)

    There are so many free homeschooling resources we have benefitted from since we started home educating in 2007, I couldn’t possibly list them all here (or even remember them, more to the point!), but here are a few of the most helpful I have found:

    Free Online Home Education Resources

    Free ‘Real Life’ Homeschool Resources

    Free Homemaking Resources

    So these are some of the ways have discovered to save money as a family! Please let me know in the comments section if you have some other ideas for families to save money.

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Moore Family Films Freebie

We have enjoyed watching Moore Family Films over the last year. So far they have five films to download or buy on DVD, and we particularly like to watch them because they are about, or feature, Christian homeschooling families.

This weekend they are offering one of their films free to watch online- More Than Maple Syrup. You can watch it on their website for free until noon EST, Monday 23rd February.

Maple Syrup Moore Family Films

40 Acts for Lent- Living Generously

I’m a day or two late here, but just found out from a friend about the ’40 acts’ challenge for lent, from Stewardship. It gives daily reflections and simple challenges to carry out each day to encourage us to live generously and compassionately.

As a family, we have not tended in the past to ‘do Lent’ in a big way, but we have sometimes used Lent prayer guides in the run up to Resurrection Sunday (Easter), including those produced by charities and designed to get us in the ‘giving mood’. However, this is the first time I think that I have seen practical challenges to complete for Lent, so I am looking forward to this.

You can see the trailer for the 40 acts challenge here:

Please let me know if you decided to sign up to 40 acts, and what you did…

Encouraging Our Children to be Outward Looking

Encouraging Our Children to be Outward Looking

What I mean here by encouraging our children to be ‘outward looking’ is looking outside myself, my wants, my interests, my enjoyment, my fun and even my education/ career, to others. This doesn’t mean that we don’t teach our children how to take care of themselves, but just that in our society there is an overwhelming emphasis on satisfying self, so we want to encourage them to be first of all, focused on God who created us, then on others and what we can be doing to help them. Recent research has even found that people who volunteer to help others are happier and may live longer.

We don’t want to raise children who are ungrateful for the huge opportunities and comparative wealth we have here in the UK, (even though some here would consider us to be towards the lower end of the income scale), or to have no idea of the huge difference that there are in cultures around the world.

Here are 6 ways we encourage our children to be outward looking:

  1. Praying for Different People Groups and Countries in Our Daily Bible Time
Encouraging Children- World Watch List Map

Open Doors UK’s Kids World Watch List Map

Before breakfast my husband reads the family a passage of Scripture, but after breakfast and chores, and before the children begin their written schoolwork, I have a Bible and prayer time with the children, using some sort of devotional aimed specifically at children (for example, we currently print off Postal Bible School lessons, or for a shorter devotion, read Tony Hutter’s book ‘The Milk’s Been Stolen Again: 52 Spurgeon Stories for Children’), followed by a time of prayer for family, friends, current items in the news, and a specific country or people group.

The children take turns choosing the country we pray for. For example, on Thursdays, it is our youngest daughter’s turn to choose, so in the past we have asked her to pick a country on the globe (yes, slipping some geography learning in there!), then I would read out a bit about that country from Operation World, and a few appropriate prayer points.

Currently, we use the  Children’s World Watch List Atlas poster (a list of the 50 worst countries in the world for persecution of Christians) from Open Doors UK, and when she has chosen the country, I will read out the section on that country from this year’s World Watch List booklet before we pray.

2. Material World  book, by Peter Menzel

This is a coffee-table-style book with lots of large photographs, which pictures people in different countries around the world, outside their homes, with all their possessions. It includes details about each family’s daily life and general facts about each country. It also has special throughout, such as food around the world and toilets around the world.

Although slightly dated (it was published in 2000), we have found this book to be helpful in showing our children how priviledged they are in many ways, and also just how other cultures do some things differently. (There is one photograph of African women dancing which contains top half nudity, in case your family would avoid this book or censor it for that reason).

There are some more books of this type that are on my ‘Wish List’ at Amazon, that I may consider buying in future:

What the World Eats, by the same author, Peter Menzel.

If the World Were a Village, by David J. Smith

3. Watching Selected News Clips

If my husband and I see a news clip online which we think would be suitable for the children to see, for example this one about children in Malawi recovering from flooding, we will bookmark it for the next time we are all using the laptop together. Obviously, this will often lead to further discussion, and maybe finding out more about what we watched from other sources. We also watch documentaries, for example on BBC iPlayer, from time to time, which look at other cultures. The BBC’s ‘Wild China’ programme last year was a good example of this.

4. Reading Widely

Another way to encourage our children to think more outwardly is simply by providing them with a wide range of quality books for personal reading. As I have mentioned already, we are a family of bookworms, so this is not too hard, but we also have a family read aloud time after Bible time each morning, and I try to pick a variety of books from different time periods/ cultures/ social settings for us to read.

Patricia St. John’s books are particularly good at giving the children an idea of what a different culture is like, for example in North Africa or the Middle East (particularly in Star of Light and The Secret of the Fourth Candle). We have also read about, amongst many others, Slovenia and Yugoslavia during WWII and the Communist period in Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy, by Maria Chapian, (although I had to heavily edit this as I read for graphic descriptions).

5. Lapbooks and Special Projects

We have found that a good time to learn about other countries is when doing a special project or making a lapbook for schoolwork. You can find lots more information about making lapbooks here.

For example, for the 2010 Football World Cup (or soccer, if you prefer!), the children made lapbooks and included information about some of the different countries that were taking part. We also did this for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This is also a time when we might look at the art or music of a particular culture, or try examples of their food.

I couldn’t find a photo of our cross-cultural lapbooks because of our move, but here are a few of the lapbooks we made during our Highland Clearances topic last year:

Encouraging Children- lapbooks

The lapbooks our older two made


6. Fundraising and Giving

By fundraising and giving to a worthy cause, our children get personally involved, and want to know more about where the money is going. We started this by filling shoe boxes for the Blythswood Care Christmas appeal, (similar to Operation Christmas Child, run by Samaritan’s Purse each year), first through our church, and later together with our homeschooling group. The children enjoyed choosing items to give to the recipient of their box.

Later we used a Push the Pedal fundraising pack from Gospel for Asia UK to organise a sponsored cycle. This raised enough money to buy several bikes for national pastors in Asia, and the pack included activities that the children used to learn more about why this was needed.

Gospel for Asia UK Button

Our two eldest children went on to organise their own baking and table-top sales, as they now had more understanding of the great need there is for us to be willing to share what we have. At the moment we keep a glass jar in the kitchen for Barnabus Fund’s ‘Children of Courage’ campaign, so that any of us can add to it throughout the year. We have cashed-n our coins to the bank 2 or 3 times so far, and with the size of jar we have, managed between £30 and £40 each time.

Several times over the last year we have used Open Doors UK’s photocopiable template for making cards to send to Syrian children. You can see on our template below (unfortunately I had just sent off the most recent cards our children have made before I thought of taking photos), that there is a space for the name of the child writing the card, and a message in both English and Arabic.


Encouraging children- Cards for Syrian Children Template

Open Doors UK’s Cards for Syrian Children Template

Finally, we also made homemade Christmas cards in November to send to British Armed Forces personnel who are serving abroad, through Support Our Soldiers, and they kindly sent us a certificate afterwards, and said that our cards had been included with parcels sent out to Afghanistan. No matter  what my opinion is of the politics of the situation, I think it is important for us to show our appreciation to those in the Forces, and again it gives the children another opportunity to have an outward focus.

How do you encourage your children to be outward looking? Kind comments are welcomed below!

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May be linked up at Making Your Home Sing MondayModest Mondays, Art of Homemaking Mondays, Mom 2 Mom Monday, Good Morning Mondays, Monday’s Musings, Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop,  Titus 2sdays, Teaching What is Good, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R & R Wednesday Link Up Party, Hearts for Home Our Simple Homestead Blog HopFaithful at Home FridaysFellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Linkup, and Faith Filled Friday.


Our Big Move

As I have mentioned on my About page, as of 2015 we will be an ‘island family!’ After more than a decade living in the same town in central Scotland, we are moving to one of the Scottish islands. This is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog- to document this new chapter in our family’s life, and to allow family and friends to ‘see’ what we are up to for themselves.

Photo by WisdomSeekingScot

Photo by WisdomSeekingScot


We are very excited about the move, and after having spent the past eight weeks with my parents, who have been kind enough to put up with six extra people in their house, we are looking forward to starting our new adventure. It has been a blessing for us to be able to spend time over Christmas with them, and my 93 year old grandmother.

Now that the moving date is fast approaching, I am looking forward to having our own things back out of boxes, and into our new house. I have benefitted from some moving day tips from other bloggers in this regard, and you can see my Pinterest board for Moving House here.

My favourite tip was to set aside a box clearly marked with ‘Open First’, ‘First Day Box’ or something similar, to be used for packing essentials such as the kettle, toaster, matches, towels, disposable cutlery, paper plates and suchlike. Maybe this would be a ‘no-brainer’ for most people, but I was glad of the idea, as although we have lived in three different houses in our current town, we were always just moving a few streets away with our own hired van, so there wasn’t too much stress about not able to find things/ not having enough time to find them before bedtime.

This time is different with almost all of our stuff being in storage for the past eight weeks, and a five hour drive to our new house, so I wanted to be prepared! Cue lots of list making, much to my husband’s amusement 🙂 I will write a separate post about my household planner, but for now I will just mention that I have added some pages to my planner which are specific to the house move: House Move To Do List, People to See Before Move, List to Buy Before Move and List of Items for my parents’ house.

Although I am not a naturally organised (or tidy!) person, I have found over the past couple of years that I manage much better if I have some sort of plan, as I am not likely to remember everything otherwise. The past week has been busy (in a nice way) with saying goodbye to lots of friends, so this week will wrap up with homeschool work, and visiting a few friends we have not yet seen, and of course, packing the things we have used over the eight weeks since our move to my parents’.


This is book which I ordered after Christmas, and so I had not included in my Reading List 2015.  Emilie Barnes’ book Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home, has the subtitle ‘Creating a Place You and Your Family Will Love’. It has just arrived here, so obviously it is good timing for me! I hope to start reading in a couple of weeks’ time, but I think it is realistic that unpacking boxes and sorting out our new house will be the priority first!

Please feel free to add your favourite house moving tip in the comments below 🙂

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Reading List 2015

One of the ways we manage to keep our bookworm family in books throughout the year, is to use the points I  earn from doing online surveys and the ShopandScan grocery survey to buy amazon vouchers. For books for myself, I tend to wait and use any money I am given for my birthday or Christmas presents.


Age of Opportunity, A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens (Resources for Changing Lives)

    Paul David Tripp

I have been reading a chapter at a time from this book over the past couple of months, and am really enjoying it. Mr Tripp talks of the opportunity of the teenage years for discipling and enjoying spending time with your teenager, rather than seeing them as a nightmare to be survived! It has already been a help to me in approaching my 13 year old son with a better attitude (smile).

Everyday Church

    Tim Chester and Steve Timmis

I must confess that I have been reading this book since July 2014! I find it a bit difficult to read a lot of at once, which I suppose explains things. The subtitle is ‘ mission by being good neighbours’, which was what made me want to read it in the first place, so I am determined to finish this one within the next month or so.

Mrs. Dunwoody’s Excellent Instructions for Homekeeping: Timeless Wisdom and Practical Advice

    Miriam Lukken

I got this one for a bit of light reading over the holidays- it is a modern book written in the style of a Southern (American) lady’s daybook. Although much of it is a tad on the amusing side (preserve cheese in brandy, anyone?), I have so far decided to use one of ‘Mrs Dunwoody’s’ tips in our new home- a guest book for visitors to sign 🙂

Timothy – Hebrews (Journibles: the 17:18 Series) [Hardcover] [2009] (Author) Robert J. Wynalda

    published by Heritage Books

This is what I have lately been using for my own Bible reading. It was given to me as a gift and is really mainly a hardback, blank journal-type book in which you copy out books of the Bible (in this case some of Paul’s letters), but with space for notes, and some questions to consider/ passages to memorise on the right hand side page. In future I will probably buy a hardback notebook of my own to use for this, but I have found this method helpful in slowing down and taking in what the Word says as I copy it out.


    Ken Ham & Britt Beemer

This one my husband bought for me at a conference he and our son attended in England last year. They really enjoyed hearing Ken Ham, amongst others, speak and felt the long drive had been worth it! ‘Already Gone’ covers research that was commissioned in the US to find out why two thirds of young people there leave the Christian church by the time they reach adulthood.

Choosing to See: A Journey Of Struggle And Hope

    Mary Beth Chapman

This one will be an emotional read, but I am interested to hear about the faith of Mary Beth Chapman (wife of Christian singer songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman), and how she has trusted in God and grown stronger through great personal tragedy.

Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart

    Elizabeth George

Two years ago I read Elizabeth George’s book Life Management for Busy Women: Living Out God’s Plan with Passion and Purpose
so I am keen to learn from her in this one, especially as we have three girls!

Becoming a Titus II Woman

    Martha Peace

I benefitted from reading The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace in 2014, so this one is likely to be helpful too!

Parents’ Guide to Productive Pursuits and Practical Skills for Children

    Keepers of the Faith

This book was passed on to me by a close friend, and is published by Keepers of the Faith, who make the ‘Contender for the Faith’ and ‘Keepers at Home’ handbooks and badge scheme.

How to Encourage Your Husband

    ed. Nancy Campbell

A lovely friend loaned me How to Encourage Your Children: Tools to Help You Raise Mighty Warriors for God
also edited by Nancy Campbell, last year and I have so far read a couple of chapters of this one. It is a collection of lots of tips and advice from Christian women all over the world, and is easy to read a little at a time, whenever I have a spare moment.

Learn to Crochet: Clear stitch diagrams and instructions. 20 simple projects to make

    Sally Harding

Fairly self-explanatory, this one. After a failed attempt at learning crochet with our older daughter, from some You Tube videos, I decided maybe a book would do it. This remains to be seen! I do have the Learn to Knit book from the same author, which is very good though, so maybe she can teach me to crochet too. (Note: this book uses UK rather than US crochet terms).

A Lantern in Her Hand (Puffin Classics)

    Bess Streeter Aldrich

The only fiction book in my stack so far! I have to say, I do much prefer non-fiction books at this time in my life. Maybe it is because I am beginning to realise how much I have to learn?! I am actually pre-reading this one to see if it is suitable for my 11 year old daughter.

Bonus book:


One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

    Ann Voskamp

I got this book on my Kindle (hence not in the book stack photo), just after Christmas, as it had been something I had been interested in for a while, but as it had remained relatively high in price for both new and secondhand, I had stuck to my miserly ways and waited. However, at Christmas the Kindle version was on sale for £2.99 (as of today, 23/01/15, it still is!), so I downloaded it, and it has not been a disappointment.

So there you have it, my reading list so far for 2015. I will post about more books as and when I read them throughout the year, but I think I have enough to be getting started on here!

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Book Review of ‘The Self-Propelled Advantage’ by Joanne Calderwood

As I have found book reviews from other home educating mums so helpful, I hope to be able to post regularly here throughout the year on books I have found interesting or benefitted from.

The subtitle of ‘The Self-Propelled Advantage’, by Joanne Calderwood is ‘The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence’. Mrs. Calderwood describes how her own experiences of homeschooling eight children led her and her husband to believe that children learn best when motivated to plan and complete their work through their own enthusiasm.

The author divides self-propelled learning into three aspects: self-learning, mastery and self-mastery (or self-control). She places an emphasis on aiming for excellence in everything, but with Godly character, rather than knowledge for its own sake as the ultimate goal. Although the biggest practical applications of the book will be for home educating families, Joanne Calderwood does address how it would apply for families who send their children to private or state schools.

I found this book helpful in seeing how I could guide our children to be more self-directed in their learning, and although the author produces her own ‘Student Planners’ for purchase from her website, I have easily been able to implement her ideas in our home by downloading free-to-print home education planners from other websites.1 It was also useful that Mrs. Calderwood discussed how self-propelled learning would look for children of different ages.

My son's Homeschool Planner from 2013

My son’s Homeschool Planner from 2013

2013 Reading Log

2013 Reading Log









I particularly enjoyed the chapter of questions and answers with the Calderwood children, including the three who are already at college, and the author’s insights into having a common sense perspective on family life and our attitudes towards the real point of education.

There were a few downsides I found to Joanne Calderwood’s book. The first was that a major chapter later in the book is devoted specifically to the American system of High School diplomas, SATs, and college applications. Secondly, the author talks mainly about children aiming to go to university, without mention of those who will go straight into the world of work. Also, if a family relied heavily on unit studies or little bookwork, this approach might not work so well for them. However, these downsides do not detract from the positive aspects of the book in my view, and I would definitely recommend it for parents who are looking for a way to encourage more self-motivation in their children’s learning and a less ‘teacher’ centred homeschool.

Secondhand copies of ‘The Self-Propelled Advantage’ are now becoming cheaper, but I feel that even though I had to buy my copy brand new, it was worth it.

1 The planners we have been using are from donnayoung.org

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