Monday, January 28, 2013

A Love/Hate Relationship

Time for true confessions, I have a love/hate relationship with Valentines Day! 

I used to love it - flowers, candy, kisses, romance, a date night with my wonderful husband...

But, now it means something entirely different - it means "valentines day boxes" for our Co-op!  Who turned this delightful holiday into this?

Let me tell you our "story" - we joined a fabulous homeschool Co-op several years ago.  My children were delighted to experience some "normal" school-like activities (we have always homeschooled - no bus rides, backpacks, etc...)

 When the annual Valentines Day party arrived, they were excited to make a "box" to hold their loot - and to have so many friends to give valentines to. As we arrived with our very simple-paper-covered-boxes - we were introduced to the world of "Competitive Valentines Boxes"!  Who knew that you could have motorized, dry-ice-filled-smoking, 2 story high Valentine Boxes?  I thought a "box" was a "box" - boy, was I wrong!

Okay - fast forward...  Year 2 arrives and we are now no longer "rookies" - game on!  We know what "box" means, and we are Bentzs (another true confession - we're sometimes, slightly, er...competitive)  We were not going to just show up with our cute, simple, valentine holder - we are were going to dominate the competition!  You know, "go big or go home"!

Let me tell you something...  sometimes having a larger-than-average family isn't easy.  Paper-Mache multiplied by 8 is a bit daunting (not to mention - we are still cleaning it up).  After each child had their consultation concerning what they wanted to create, and some logistical planning (glad I saved those boxes) - the building began! I'm proud to say minimal parental involvement was utilized - I was there for clean up only...

Each child picked something they are passionate about - Football and Ancient History (including secret, but authentic, hieroglyphic messages)
Gaurdians of Ga'Hoole - Owls (the book du jour) and Mailboxes with sparkling hearts

The Whole World, and what is Valentines Day without a Snake?

A Giraffe lover (she has slept with this most of the year...not kidding) and thankfully, a child that really only wanted a "Box"!

I am proud to say, the Bentz Academy made a great showing - winning best of their class for 5 out of 8 kiddos! 

Now, we are facing Year 3 - how do we top last year?  Any suggestions...  I'm not feeling the "love" yet?!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Inspiration

Winter - it's cold, gray and gloomy.  We are stuck in the house.  No one wants to do anything (even me).  Then,  I ran across a favorite of mine.  An inspiration.  We could forget about "school" and go on an adventure together!

The day got brighter with our comfy sofa, quilts, some hot chocolate, and a book to share.  It turned everything around for me....

Shameless "staging" for a picture to share

I thought I'd pass my inspiration along.  So, what are you reading together today?

The Reading Mother
Strickland Gillilan


I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What Unit Studies Look Like at our Co-op

As many of you may already know, we are fans of unit studies around here at Bentz Academy.  We are also fans of our dear homeschool Co-op.  Our do we pursue the form of learning that we love while keeping up with the subjects determined by and taught in our Co-op?  After all, there are only so many hours in a day! 

After some soul searching, and some amazing teaching talent (not from me... ) Our Co-op has found a way to have an entire,  multi-family, co-op pursuing the heart and soul of unit study - picking a topic that interests your child invidually, and working together in a class.

First, our Unit Studies teachers at our Co-op (an amazing duo - some of my homeschool heroes) have picked broad topics like - animals, famous people, careers, etc. 

For the next month, each child pursues a unit study approach in researching and exploring their choice of study relating to the topic.  At the end of the month, the children have "Presentation Day" - where they give an oral and visual presentation of their chosen topic to their class.

During the month, the weekly class time is used to share their learning journals, learn new skills... i.e. lapbooking, powerpoint presentations, oral communication skills, etc.  As well as, a guest speaker.  

The visual presentations are varied throughout the year - posters, powerpoints, even dressing as your famous person!

Honest Abe Lincoln... she looks good in a beard!

I can't tell you how much energy and enthusiasm this has brought to our Co-op! My children are excited to pick what interests them, and share it with their classmates.  Plus, it works for all grades - my younger children all the way up to my high schooler (who is able to count it as a high school communication credit thanks to his marvelous teachers!)

Let me introduce you...Laura Ingalls Wilder! 
He makes a sharp looking Ben Franklin!

Of course, our favorite Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett studies are a perfect fit - Joshua made the cutest Davy Crockett  you've ever seen (too bad I didn't get a picture..!)

So, if you are in a Co-op, but long to pursue some individual study - trust me, you can make it work for you too!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Proud Mama!

Gotta take a minute to brag....check out the headlines!!

My children participated in the Faulkner County Homeschool National Geography Bee local contest.  My boys advanced through the first and second rounds to compete against each other in the Championship Round!   Selah (who didn't want to...but I made her, like all good moms) advanced to the Second Round as well. 

After some nail biting by me...  Luke won!  He loves geography, and has a mind that remembers facts with ease (I have no idea where that comes from...really, it's not me!)  Anyway, as the local contest winner - he had the opportunity to take a written test.  The top 100 scores will advance to the State Contest, and the winner of that to the National Geography Bee in Washington D.C. 

I'll keep you posted...  Keep your fingers crossed for him!

By the way - who can tell me what is wrong with the headline?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Year's Resolutions!

Now that 2013 is under way... how are your resolutions coming along?

My wonderful husband, 2 teenage boys and myself have embarked on the Romans Project - memorizing Scripture together.   If you would like to join us - you can find everything you need to get you motivated and ready to go at one of my favorite blogs - A Holy Experience.

I always start with good intentions, but - life quickly jumps in our way.  So, to keep us accountable - and to update you on how this Spiritual discpline is changing us (because - the Word does change us, doesn't it!)  I've decided to give you updates on occasion.

Here's the first Bentz update:

Teenage boy #1 - memorized weeks 1 and 2
Teenage boy #2 - same

Dad - has week 1 almost mastered
Mom - week 1 done, working on week 2!

Plus, I decided to take the Joy Dare and made my own Thousand gifts journal!  If you want to make your own and join me,  you can find the pretty printables & monthly dare cards here.

Isn't it pretty...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Fun!

Being a  lover of tradition...  Homemade chili, the Lewis Family, and Shout out the Movies DVD games, and Christmas Punch on New Years Eve .  Here's our new addition -

Thanks to extra time home (from our white Christmas) I had plenty of time to browse on Pinterest (best description I've heard - Pinterest is like Fantasy Football for women!)  Oh, did I mention that I won our Fantasy Football Championship too?!

Anyway - the "New Years Eve Bags" tradition was born...

I filled a cute paper sack (thank you Hobby Lobby clearance) with enough trinkets for all children, and even some for the adults, each bag was labeled on the 1/2 hour, starting with 6:00, 6:30, etc.

Some things I included:

noisemakers - note to self...not so many of those next year!
New Years Eve hats
Pop Rocks candy
Ring Pops
Glow Sticks

you get the, but fun.  The kiddos LOVED these!!  It made the evening fly by, and everyone (well almost everyone) stayed up for the last bag opening.

We also started our 2012 Timecapsule, which we will finish this week.  And - our very own 2013 Blessing Jar!

So, 2013 - how do I top this?