Tag Archives: Middle School

Cooking Necessities – Middle School Monday

dessert apples recipe

Miss L (I cannot believe she now fits the definition of a middle school student!!!) has been expressing a desire to learn how to cook more things lately. So, I have been trying to make a more intentional effort to bring her into the kitchen often to help prepare dinner.

Some of the things she has been learning how to cook:

  • bread (we use a bread maker so it is really quick and easy)
  • rice
  • dessert apples
  • potatoes
  • eggs (boiled and scrambled)
  • pizza
  • veggies (steaming them)

These are some of the more intentional items and dishes we have been working on in the last few weeks.

Since we love dessert apples, I thought you might like the “recipe.” I call it a recipe very loosely because it is really simple and you add things to the amount your family would like. 🙂

For our family of 5:

  • 5 small apples, diced
  • 3-4 T ground cinnamon (this is really a “to taste” measurement – change it as needed)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar (again, this is “to taste” – adapt as desired)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C raisins

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for about 8 minutes, stirring halfway through. These are best served warm.

At Home.

Rocks, Gems and Minerals Show – Middle School Monday field trip

Rock Gem and Mineral show field trip

Every year we look forward with excitement to the rock and gem show. It comes to town sometime in the spring and we always go spent time wandering through the exhibits/vendors.

What we love about this is that we can touch all sorts of minerals, rocks, gems, fossils, and fossilized wood that we don’t have access to otherwise. We take advantage of the show coming to town as an educational opportunity. And we are seldom disappointed!

fossils touch table and more

We always find vendors who love to talk to children. They enjoy spending time educating the girls on the various items they have displayed. They will tell them where items come from, the qualities of the objects, what they are and how they were created (in the case of fossils and such). This year, one of the vendor was a science teacher. Talk about a man in his element! He had such fun talking with the girls. His excitement was contagious and the girls enjoyed it, too. We probably spent 20-30 minutes with this manwheel to spin, walking all around his display, seeing items under the black light, learning how to identify minerals, and getting lessons in geography.

Another of the girls favorites is the wheel of fortune – you pay a quarter and get whatever is sitting on the number the wheel lands on. Sometimes it is just a few rocks. Sometimes it is a large, lovely shell. Sometimes it is a gorgeous gem or mineral. The man who runs this always tells the girls about what it is they have won if he knows. He enjoys it as much as they do.

Between studying all the rocks, gems, and minerals, not to mention the fossils, and the jewelry and trying to figure out how some of it is made, we spend several hours at the show. Our town is known for its mammoth site (recently it has become part of the National Park Service) and there is always a booth there. They often have worksheets or activity sheets for the kids to pick up.

cracking geode

This year, there was a man there advertising the fossil pit up in Mineral Wells. He and Miss J got to talking and boy, did they discuss things for a long time. From the fossils he was displaying to her favorite type of fossil (shells), they had a good ‘ol time and Miss J walked away with several new additions for her collection. We also have found another field trip we would like to make.

If you have a chance, a rock and gem or mineral show is a wonderful learning opportunity. We have found that vendors enjoy talking to children and educating them when possible. They love the curiosity and the kids love to learn. So, take the chance if you get on. You might just come home with a treasure haul like ours.

At Home.Rock and Gem Show

Quizlet – Blogging Through the Alphabet

Q Quizlet

This week is letter Q for Blogging Through the Alphabet. I had thought and brainstormed and kept coming up with things I could make work but didn’t really spark my own interest. I didn’t want to waste your time. Then, today, while thinking about the work one of the giggly girls still needed to do, I asked “Have you worked on Quizlet today?” And my brain registered the Q and said “That’s it!”

So, Quizlet.

Do you know Quizlet?

This is a free, online quiz system. It is wonderful. We have used it for tons of things. I can create my own set of cards to quiz over or sometimes, I can look up the questions I want that someone else has already done and made public. Now that has been wonderful!

When I go to Quizlet and make my own set, I have a question and answer series that I enter. It is as simple as entering the question and its corresponding answer. Then move on to the next question/answer. On and on until you have entered them all. At that point, it is time for the kiddos to start quizzing.

There are several functions on Quizlet, or ways in which the quizzing can be done: flashcards, learn, spell, test, match, and gravity.

Q Quizlet screenshot

Home Screen in Quizlet for this study set


For flashcards: One part is shown. After making your guess, you click the corner and it shows you the other side. You can mark ones that you struggled with and then work on just those. You can do it all again. You can do the question first or you can do the answer first. The flashcards are pretty flexible, which is awesome!

For Learn: It gives you either the question or the answer and you type in the other part.

For Spell: This one works best for vocabulary and spelling words. It tells you the part you are to type in. If you are using it for Bible study with younger ones (as we often do), the spelling will get them and they will end up with a lot marked incorrect. We seldom use this function.

For Test: This gives you a series of questions and you supply the answer. Again you can choose which part you want it to give you. The test generally has 20 questions: 5 type in the right answer, 5 matching, 5 multiple choice, and 5 true/false. This is a feature that Miss E likes to use.

For Match: The questions and answers are put out there and you drag and drop the matches onto each other. Simple and fun. All three of the giggly girls use this one a lot. This is probably the MOST used function for our family.

For Gravity: This is a game where asteroids have to be destroyed. It gives you one part and you have to type in the other part. You can use the term/question, the definition/answer, or select random for it to go back and forth. This is one the girls do like but it is harder for Bible bowl study due to the way the questions are worded.

On the main page, you see a list of the questions in your set. You can arrange them the way you typed them in, alphabetical, or by stats (how many are missed most/least/etc.). This is nice if you have only one person using it and you can quickly see what needs worked on. Even as a family, we are able to see where we need to work on our Bible bowl questions.

This is a fun and easy to use resource that really does a tremendous job of helping the girls study their Bible bowl questions and memory work. We most often access it on the desktop computer or a Kindle. It works well either way. I don’t know that the exact same activities are on both platforms but we use it both ways and the girls can move easily from one to the other.

If you are looking for a free resource to help with memory work, definitions, spelling, or other memory work, check our Quizlet. It was simple to make a free account and I can share my work with others or use quiz sets that someone else has made available publicly. I have a filing cabinet where I can list those for the girls to pick from. Quick and easy.

At Home.

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Following “Rabbit Trails”

following rabbit trails

Today’s middle school Monday post is going to ramble a bit about following rabbit trails. In home education, we often call it following a rabbit trail when we get off track trying to find out information about a question or get sidetracked on something we find interesting or just follow the trail that appears before us when working. It is definitely a delight-led path and it is strongly influenced by the student. All these are good things!

When you are having “one of THOSE days” – you know the kind: no one really wants to work but everyone knows they really need to work but everything is just kind of blah – rabbit trails do wonders for enthusiasm! And for us, today was a rabbit trail kind of day.

world book libraries

10 libraries available


I began pulling up some additional resources about China, Siberia, Trans-Siberian railroad, and Gladys Aylward (to go with the YWAM unit study we are reviewing). I had looked a bundle of things up on the library site and decided to wander through SchoolhouseTeachers.com to see what they might have to complement the study. From there, I clicked on World Book to see what the 10 different libraries there might have to add.

interactive map image

part of an interactive map feature


Miss E saw me looking at an interactive map of China and started asking some questions. So, we ended up looking at all of the main cities in China and watching a video about the first Emperor of China. Then, we listened to their national anthem, some traditional court music, and some ancient ceremonial music.

video audio maps images of China

part of the media features in the China article


From there, she wanted to look up Gladys Aylward and read about her. So we also talked about how we can keep notes directly IN World Book and how to properly cite articles and websites. After reading what was there about Ms. Aylward, Miss E then stumbled across some ebooks on the World Book library.

So, we looked up a bundle of different books and spent some time reading about giraffes with Miss J. Miss J spent a lot of time with the giraffe book and then followed it up with looking at the kids’ library within World Book for more giraffe information. Miss E found some books on mythology. In particular she found one titled Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome. Guess what she is now reading? All 448 pages of it, I expect.

giraffe book

Giraffe book that Miss J was reading


I also took a bit of time to show her the timeline feature and library of World Book. She was fascinated. She spent quite a bit of time looking at some of the timelines they have and also working with the features of how to make her own timeline.

I definitely see this rabbit trail having sparked some interest. And how much did these two learn? I have no earthly idea but it was a whole lot more than if I had pushed the regular school load at that time. Yes, they still did math and spelling and some of those “regular” subjects. More importantly, though, is that they each found something to be excited about and to follow the rabbit trail a ways. They will remember much about the trails they followed today and that is what learning is all about!

At Home.

Prepared – Middle School Monday & Blogging Through The Alphabet

P Prepared“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:15 (NIV)

When I was thinking about what to write for letter P, this word and verse came to mind. That could be because of the Bible study that our family is participating in. It could be due to the fact that this is one of the major goals of educating our children. It could be that God placed that thought in my head. Whatever the reason, I wanted to chat a bit about preparing.

We prepare for many things in life – storm season, trips, chores (yes – don’t you buy the things you will need to do this?). But sometimes, we neglect the most important form of preparation – that of being able to speak of the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, what He has done for us, and that He wants everyone to accept His gift and to obey His word.

How do we prepare to do as Peter wrote about?

P Prepared verse

First, we need to know God’s Word. We need to study His word and all that He put there, not just the interesting stories that we enjoy teaching to little ones. We need to know more; there is always more to learn! One wise woman commented at Bible study tonight that she makes it a point to share that she is always learning, even after 40 years of being a baptized follower of Christ. We need to set aside and honor time to learn what God has to say. Don’t just schedule it in; make it a priority. That is part of being prepared.

Second, we need to be able to articulate that hope – put it to words. This is probably where I struggle most. I know what I believe and why I believe it. I know what obedience to God’s word means but am I capable of stating that to others? And what about the last part of the verse – “with gentleness and respect”? Can I do this?

Third, I need to recognize that if I have worked diligently with the first two points that it doesn’t make a whit of difference if I don’t step out boldly and actually use the words about that hope to share with someone who is lost. If I am not sharing that hope that I have prepared to share about, I am not obeying the word of God. He is telling me to share it.

As part of a course I am taking (Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity – review coming soon), she asked us to write out 10 goals for our children when they exit our education. Being prepared to speak boldly about their hope is one of ours. So, I need to be working on helping them prepare. I will end this by sharing some of the things we are doing to help the girls be prepared.

  • Regular attendance at all worship and Bible classes – Sunday morning we attend both Bible class and worship; Sunday evening we attend worship; Wednesday evening we attend worship and class; Tuesday mornings the girls go with me to Ladies’ Bible Class; Monday nights we are doing an in-home Bible study;
  • Daily personal Bible study – As part of their course work, we ask the girls to study the Bible personally. This takes a couple of different forms but this is a daily expectation.
  • Memory work – The girls are working on KidSing memory cards. These cards focus on different parts of the Bible and the themes for those parts of the Bible.
  • Bible Bowl – We have the girls participating in Bible Bowl through the Lads to Leaders program at our church. In the past, they have studied Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Matthew, Job, Esther, and Ruth. This year they will be studying I & II Corinthians. This is an in-depth study of the books and they learn a lot about God, who He is, and what He wants of His people through this.
  • Other  – Whether it be writing an article, giving a speech, reading the Bible out loud for an audience, leading a song, doing a puppet program, or making a meal for someone, we encourage the girls to serve and find ways to use the abilities God has given them to put action to their belief and faith.

All of these are ways that we can work on being prepared to give reason to our hope. Encouraging the girls to be prepared, I also find myself more prepared. Are you “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have “? (I Peter 3:15 NIV)

At Home.

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Books and Resources for Ancient Greece – Middle School Monday

When Miss E began her study of Ancient Greece with the Home School In The Woods program (you can read our review), we grabbed a few extra resources to supplement. You know – more books = more opportunity = more exposure. Here are the titles that we brought home from the library or pulled from our own home library.Books and Resources for a study on Ancient Greece

We also accessed Drive Thru History: Ancient Greece. Each of those episodes were fantastic, taking us to various places and ruins from the history of Greece. I would highly recommend this series to view the sites that help bring history alive.

Drive Thru History

You can visit the British Museum online. It is a simple to explore set of links in the left side bar that cover some of the people and places of Ancient Greece.

Another fun site is the BBC Bitesize history page. You can follow links to view information about various topics. In this case, the link will take you to Ancient Greece topics, though our family has used this site for other topics, as well (including WWII).

Don’t forget that if you need to do some research on a particular topic, SchoolhouseTeachers.com now has World Book online. If you choose membership with SchoolhouseTeachers, you get full access to not only over 300 courses (some of which are Drive Thru History courses, like the Greece one above) but to all of the 10 different World Book libraries, which more than doubles the content. If you choose to do so now, as of the time of this writing, they are on sale for $99 for the year, which is significant savings. You will have to visit SchoolhouseTeachers.com to get the code to use at checkout.

We have really enjoyed the study of Ancient Greece and Miss E is taking her time with it, really absorbing it all.

At Home.

Motivation – Blogging Through the Alphabet & Middle School Monday

M motivation


It is quite an intimidating word sometimes. How do you provide motivation? I don’t mean the “do it or else” kind of motivation. I am talking about the internal motivation that causes one to move forward on a project or assignment without someone else getting involved or reminding.

Motivation comes from within. While I like to think that I have some influence over it, I don’t. My middle schoolers (I kind of feel like I have two now that the school year is almost over and Miss L will officially be a 6th grader shortly) are independent thinkers, as they should be. They have hopes and desires and wills and frustrations that are all their own. They will do what I ask them to because it is right to do what your mother says but that isn’t really motivation, is it?

I have been pondering this motivation thing for a while, trying to find the right balance of curriculum choices made by me and made by the student. It is difficult. Do I push math in a day when their motivation has been to work diligently on history for 3 hours? Do I make the student add more to a research paper when she has written two full pages on research that she did that all-in-all took only 30 minutes from start to finish but is well-written and interesting to her? Do I have a child re-do work that is substandard in handwriting but excellent in content?

Where do you push and where do you give grace and allow for it not to be a high quality project?

Boy, do I wish I knew the answer to this!

What do I actually do? I figure it out from day to day and from week to week. This last week, I asked for more on that research but I didn’t push the math issue. Why each of those? Well, if you saw the concentration and intensity with which the history project was being pursued, there was a deep interest that was being fed. I don’t want to mess with that. Math will still be there later and she will work at it when I do choose to insist.

But the research, I felt like she needed more of a challenge. So the next day, I took that research project that I had invisioned being most of a week’s worth of writing and added a different element to the research, a different perspective and had her do some more. Of course, she loved it, spent a good bit of time reading through the websites I pulled up for her, and then wrote double the amount requested. So, she has now breezed through the assignments I expected to take two weeks in two days. What next? Well, her internal motivation is good to get it done so I guess we will just feed it more with a new research project. I have some ideas . . .

All of this rambling is to say, I think if I can continue to find a few ideas that spark an independent motivation, an internal motivation, in at least a single subject area, then we are on the right road. Right now, we have that mix going. I wish we could expand it and we’ll keep trying but for now, I will be happy with what is working and deal with that which is not getting done.

At Home.

This week’s Middle School Monday post is also serving as last week’s Blogging Through The Alphabet post since last week was incredibly busy.

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

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