Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims

I don’t really have much to say today but I will leave this lovely song here for you to ponder. This is one that often pops into my head. I love the unison melody to begin, with the four-part harmony coming in for the refrain. That is something that really pulls the words to the forefront for me and puts that focus on heaven.

You can listen to a beautiful singing of this hymn at Great Songs Chapel.

Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims

Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims

words: Isaac Newton Carman (1863)
music: William Oscar Perkins

1 Here we are but straying pilgrims;
Here our path is often dim;
But to cheer us on our journey,
Still we sing this wayside hymn:

Yonder over the rolling river,
Where the shining mansions rise,
Soon will be our home for ever,
And the smile of the blessèd Giver
Gladdens all our longing eyes.

2 Here our feet are often weary
On the hills that throng our way;
Here the tempest darkly gathers,
But our hearts within us say: [Refrain]

3 Here our souls are often fearful
Of the pilgrim’s lurking foe;
But the Lord is our defender,
And He tells us we may know: [Refrain]


At Home.

Loyalty – Five Minute Friday

I am going to try the Five Minute Friday prompt. I have wanted to participate for a while so we will see how this goes and whether I can fit it into Fridays most of the time.

Today’s prompt word: Loyalty.


Loyalty to another. To a person. To an idea. To a group. To a land. Mostly, it tends to be loyalty to a group.

You hear the word bandied about in relation to sports teams. Or countries. Or political groups.

Really, though, we ought to use the word most to refer to how we relate to others.

Are we loyal?

That would mean:

  • kind
  • honest
  • loving
  • helpful
  • building up
  • thoughtful

If we are loyal, we are looking out for others. We put them before ourselves. We think of them first.

If we are loyal, we do the things others want. We take them seriously and do all in our power to build them up, rather than trying to belittle them or knock them down or make them feel less than their best.

Loyalty is best seen in God’s word. He is the absolute model for loyalty.

In our sin, He sent Jesus to take all of our stain upon himself while nailed to the cross. Jesus didn’t ask about what  group someone belonged to before he went to eat with them. He called Zaccheus down from the tree and said “I am coming to your house.” And Zaccheus responded. Because Jesus was building him up and being loyal, even amidst sin and dishonest.

I want to be like Jesus. Loyal to all, helping them grow. Loyal by watching out for others and helping them through rough spots. Finding what needs to be done and doing it, whether that be folding that never ending pile of laundry or picking up that piece of paper everyone else has stepped over 69,000 times.

Loyal = Christ like. May that be me.

At Home.

A Favorite

A favorite thing necessary to our homeschool? Just one?
Well, okay – I’ll pick:


Yep, good ol’ audiobooks. The reason I specify audiobooks instead of just good literature and include audiobooks in it? Because the audio part can make a huge difference for some kids. Once audiobooks were discovered by my readers (and they LOVE to read), a bigger array of titles opened up to them because the thickness of the book or the tininess of the print was no longer intimidating. From Anne of Green Gables to folktales by native storytellers to major productions like The Dragon and The Raven by Heirloom Audio Productions, audios have made a huge impact on our homeschooling.

If you are looking for classics, you can get many of them for free online from sources like Librivox or your local public library site (using things like Overdrive).

If you are looking for children’s titles, check out your local public library or a interlibrary loan system. Miss J checks out Playaways with titles like Corduroy, Amelia Bedelia, and The Hungry Caterpillar. Miss E checks out Ella Enchanted and Anne of Green Gables and more.

If you are looking for more, you can pay and buy them online or in bookstores. (But don’t forget to look in used bookstores, too!)

We have used audio books to make our roadtrips much more productive. Whether it be a classic that we want to listen to or something new we have never experienced, we have found that roadtrips are the perfect time to try out audiobooks.

History is one area where audiobooks bring a whole lot of information to life for the listener. Especially if you use our very favorite resource: Heirloom Audio Productions.

We have reviewed several of their productions (and we just found out we get to review their newest one, as well: The Cat of Bubastes so look for that in October), including:
Beric The Briton,
Under Drakes Flag,
In Freedom’s Cause,
With Lee In Virginia, and
The Dragon and the Raven.

These will teach the listener history whether they want to hear it or not! They are amazing and fantastic and tons of fun. Just ask Miss E. She keeps them in her room and listens to them quite often. I would imagine she has listened to each of them several times.

So our favorite, can’t live without item: audios, be it audiobooks or audioproductions. Go find one to listen to and see if your family doesn’t fall in love with them, too.

At Home.

This is a part of the Review Crew Round-up, publishing the evening of August 26, 2016 (when this link will be live).

Favorite Homeschool Product 

Needle Work Learning

Do you teach needle work in your home? Miss E got some projects a while back but had not been interested in learning how to do the cross-stitching. Well, Sunday afternoon she decided that it was time to learn. So, we sat out on the front porch for the semi-rainy afternoon, enjoying the rain and relief from the heat that we normally expect in August, and I taught her how to cross-stitch.

Now, overall, it is not difficult. Time consuming, yes. But not difficult. So, after a few basic instructions, she was off. She did have to stop and ask a few questions over time but she has diligently worked on her picture for three days now. Yesterday and today, after finishing her schoolwork, she has headed off to get her audiobook and needle work and then settled down somewhere comfortable to stitch. She is enjoying it. I will keep you updated on her work. Here is Sunday afternoon:Cross stitch start

And this is where she is today:

cross stitch 2

Progress is slow but steady on something like this and you learn amazing coping and “make do” skills. Let’s be honest: every piece is going to have a mistake if you are anything like me because counting these little squares is hard!

Now, let’s see if I can make as much progress on the cross-stitch project I am working on. Never mind that I should have had it done before Miss J was born 7 1/2 years ago.

If you teach needle arts, I would love to know what you teach and how you do it. So far, we just teach as they show interest and that often arises from need or desire.

At Home.


This is technically a Middle School Monday post but since I was publishing a review yesterday, I thought I would save this one for today.🙂



Jolly Phonics & Jolly Grammar ~ a TOS review

Jolly Literacy review

I never thought I would see the day when Miss J begged to do multiple phonics and grammar lessons. This is the case every almost every school day since we began using Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar, which are both by, also known by the official company name just2ducks LLC, is quite a different program than any I have seen. I’ll be honest and tell you I really don’t like teaching phonics. It seems almost a waste time to me but that is because reading has come very easily for everyone in our family. Even so, has helped me to see the value in teaching phonics, even after a student can read.

Miss J is beginning 2nd grade, reading very well, and knows quite a bit about phonics through general day-to-day reading and discussion, plus a previous phonics program. She has not, however, done any specific grammar programs. I give you that just to kind of help you understand why we are using as we are. books

Jolly Phonics came with three Student Books (Student Books 1, 2, and 3 in print letters) and a Teacher’s Book in print letters which includes the lessons for all three Student Books. These three books are progressive in the knowledge, with each one building on the one before. Once we received these books, I looked through them to try to gauge where Miss J would place.

Student Book 1 is dedicated to introducing the student to the letter sounds. There is a page for each of the 42 main sounds of the English language. 12 tricky words are covered. Student Book 2 begins providing the student opportunities to practice reading and writing the letter sounds and introduces capital letters. There are alternative spellings discussed for some of the sounds and more tricky words are introduced. Student Book 3 works on better understanding of alternative letter-sound spellings and introduces the remainder of the tricky words. Improvement of comprehension, reading and writing skills are also goals of Student Book 3. All three levels are designed for one page to be completed per lesson. All together, these three books give a complete year of instruction. Jolly Songs book and CD, which we also received, go right alongside Student Book 1, presenting a letter sound in song format with a familiar tune. These tunes repeat and the CD is right there to help you out if you need it.

I could easily have chosen to not have her do any of the phonics Student Books as there is quite a bit in Book 3 that she already knew. However, there was enough in there that we hadn’t really covered that I felt it would be a good review and teaching combination for her.

Jolly Phonics Student Book 3

Some of what she knew: the ph sound combination, most of the “tricky words” she could read without any problem, blending sounds, comprehension of simple to mildly complex sentences.

Some of what I knew she needed: finding alternatives that make the same sound (i.e. – ou and ow), spelling, dictation practice.

We absolutely enjoy using Jolly Phonics. We complete a lesson on Monday and Thursday with Jolly Grammar on Wednesday and Friday. And most days, she wants to do more than one lesson. Alright by me, as it doesn’t seem to affect the phonics program.

Each lesson follows a fairly consistent plan. Begin with some review of sounds or tricky words. Give instruction for the lesson, using the page in the student book for some parts. These might include reading, writing, or drawing. There will either be some dictation of simple sentences, blending practice with some more difficult words, or reading some sentences. The Teacher’s Book is essential for this program as it contains many things that are not in the student book for each lesson.

Each page is colorful, simple and draws Miss J right in. As I said, she really likes this program and asks to do more than one lesson a day. Sometimes, she asks to do both phonics and grammar on the same day. Which brings us to the grammar program.

spelling testJolly Grammar 1 is what we have been using. We received Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book in print letters and Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher’s Book in print letters. Jolly Grammar is just as simple to implement as Jolly Phonics. It’s bright, colorful, and uncluttered pages make it a joy and it draws the student right to the page without being a distraction. This program follows the Jolly Phonics program with the goal of teaching basic grammar, spelling, reinforcing the phonics program, and improving comprehension and vocabulary. The Teacher’s Book is required for this program, as with the phonics, because it contains a number of pieces for each lesson that are not printed in the Student Book.

Jolly Grammar is intended to be taught with two lessons a week. This gives you approximately 36 weeks’ worth of lessons in this program. This equates to a single page per lesson. One lesson is designed to be mostly spelling and the other mostly grammar. Again, we are using this in combination with the Jolly Phonics, so we are alternating days and seeing a lot of overlap, which is quite good. I contacted to ask about the combination of the two programs and she felt like, based on what I told her about Miss J’s abilities, that this combination would work fine and I have been very pleased.

Examples of activities from the grammar book include: finding words that have a particular sound in them, listing the words, and illustrating them; finding mistakes in sentences such as missing capitals and periods in the wrong place; and, dictation of words and sentences. Spelling tests include 10 words and have a special place at the back of the student book for writing the test.

Phonics Book 3

The biggest issue we are having is that Miss J is enjoying these two programs so much that she really wants to fly through them. Which is hard when every other lesson in Jolly Grammar includes a spelling test! But, Miss J is a very good speller so these are pretty much reviews for her. Except for the long word included in each list. Those are giving her problems but she is still loving it and the challenges the program presents. And I am enjoying using this program to teach. Published by just2ducks LLC, Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar get my vote.

At Home.


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Please visit the Review Crew to find other families who have been using and to read about their experiences.

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Create the Solar System (picture)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are working  on Apologia’s 2nd edition of Exploring Creation with Astronomy for an upcoming review. We also have been using the science kits from Magic School Bus and there is one about the solar system. Using this kit, we took one of the activities for creating a solar system picture and completed it as a family.

Solar System picture

Using black paper for the background, the girls cut out a sun a placed it on the left hand side to be the “center” of the universe and have everything expand outward from that point. They then cut each planet out of colored paper, paying attention to size and color. They did a pretty good job, especially since they had to work together.

They glued them down on the background and labeled each planet with its name. We also talked about the characteristics of each planet that they already knew. We will study them more in depth in the coming weeks with the astronomy course.

After they were glued down, we talked about orbits a bit and how they must be steeper rounds close in to the sun and wide farther out from the sun. The girls then took turns drawing the orbits for the planets on the black background. And, we had out solar system pictures. It didn’t take too long and was lots of fun. It was a great review and pre-learning activity all rolled into one.

At Home.

Solar System mobile

We are working  on Apologia’s 2nd edition of Exploring Creation with Astronomy for an upcoming review. We also have been using the science kits from Magic School Bus and there is one about the solar system.

solar system mobile

Miss J is holding up the white board so that we can better see the mobile. It was disappearing into the background.


We used one of the projects from the Magic School Bus kit to create a solar system mobile. There is a foam ball for the sun and bouncy balls for the planets. I only wish they had color co-ordinated with what we expect a bit more and that the sizes were more varied. All is good, though. It gave us more fodder for discussion and evaluation.

Using the foam ball as the sun, we stuck wires through it and attached the bouncy ball planets on the ends. The girls had to adjust the wires carefully so that the planet closest to the sun was, in fact, closest to the sun but that meant the other end of that particular wire was farthest away. That meant evaluation to make sure they put the right planet on the other end of the wire. It was a good brain exercise.

After we got it up and hung it from the kitchen light, it was noted that Saturn had no rings. Using aluminum foil, some rings were fashioned and placed on Saturn so that it was more accurate.

All in all it was a fun and fairly simple way to review the placement of the planets.

At Home.


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