Making Memories as a Family: Summer Edition

making memoriesAs the school year comes to a close and summer is right around the corner, it is important to prioritize making memories as a family. When planning trips, weekend outings, or summer camps make sure I’m sure you are like many other homeschoolers and family needs are at the center. Making memories together will only increase family unity and stories that will be remembered and retold for years.

Choose a Destination that …

1. Matters to Family Heritage

Family heritage is so important to know and pass on to your kids. Not only will your child be able to understand basic genealogy, but researching family heritage can be fun! Flip through some old photo albums of relatives and tell your kids the story of how their grandparents met. Visit the town where they met and find the house where each grew up. If you can do this as a couple, this is fun as well!

Does your family have an annual family reunion? Maybe consider going so that your kids can meet the people in the pictures hanging on your wall or sitting on the shelf. Still not jazzed about packing the kids in the car and heading to Small Town, USA? Research interesting places around the location of the get-together. Perhaps there is a county fair, national park, or town museum nearby. Even window-shopping down Main Street can be a new and exciting experience for a suburban kid.

2. Reinforces your studies

We planned a trip to the mountains in order to collect rocks for an upcoming Geology study the coming year. It was a wonderful time or climbing and hiking. The kids enjoyed a train ride in the mountains and we were blessed to stay at a cabin owned by friends. The entire trip was well within our budget and best of all, one we still remember years later. The rocks were used over and over again in studies throughout their homeschool years and now are used by my daughter with her children as she homeschools! Another year we took a trip to the Florida Keys. Actually, several trips. This was used as research for our Truth Seekers Mystery Series novels.

Another time we visited the DC area and the Smithsonean Museums. We studied American history that year and this was a culmination of our studies. How wonderful to see a the Constitution and visit the artifacts in the American History Museum. These memories were revisited by my daughter and I when she visited colleges in that area during her high school years.

  • What are you studying this upcoming year?
  • Is there any way to reinforce a study?
  • Can you plan a trip in advance or even after the fact that will be enjoyable for the entire family but also further your studies?

3. Increases family time

Going on a family vacation means doing things together. Whether that is hiking, visiting museums or on a cruise. Many times “family vacations” mean separating the kids from the parents. We all need time away to regroup, but a family vacation should center around doing things as a family and exploring together. How else can you talk about your vacation if you didn’t experience it together?

4. Focuses on Faith

A family we know takes a pilgrimage every summer with their family. They have toured the shrines in Europe, walked along the Via Delarosa – the path that Jesus walked in Jerusalem, visited the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. While this is outside of our budget, for them it was important. They saved money all year long with this trip in mind, and it was on a tight budget staying at convents whenever possible. They told the children ahead of time if they wanted to purchase souvenirs, they needed to bring their own money. Once home, they gathered family and friends and we viewed their movies and still shots and visited these beautiful sites alongside them. What a wonderful legacy they leave their children as well as sharing it with us, their friends!

5. That includes extended family

One year we tied a family trip to Canada, a place I lived for three years as a child to a family reunion in upstate New York. We were able to combine alone time with our family. After walking the streets of Niagra Falls, my son asked if we could read books by the fireplace, a tradition started at home–since the hotel had a fireplace! After a few days drove our rental car to our location in New York, for extended family fun, which included a horseback ride on trails through streams and hills.

Recently, after picking up my daughter at her college location, I realized that Long Island, New York was only four hours north. We visited the city while staying with my cousin and his wife. My second-cousin, who attends a college in Manhattan took us on a nine-mile hike throughout the city, showing us sites and insiders locations. On Sunday we enjoyed a family reunion with my cousins, the last time I visited them was as a teenager.

Memories that last a lifetime are easier said than done. It takes time, planning and a budget. There were many years that we could only afford day trips, and truthfully my family still prefers a weekend camping to a ten-day trip! Patrick Patton may have popularized the saying, “A family who prays together stays together,” however it is something we say as well! You don’t need a long or expensive vacation to make memories. Remember to spend time as a family laughing and enjoying each others company!

You may also be interested in several sessions I recorded for the 2018 Homeschool Moms Conference. This conference is a wonderful addition to your education, moms–and I’m sure you’ll agree. Check it out!

 

Tips for Actively Reading Any Piece of Literature

actively readingIt’s easy to get distracted when reading, especially in today’s digital society where something is always beeping, buzzing, or dinging. Our attentions are pulled in a million different directions. We could all use a little help when it comes to focusing on a single task. In this blog post, I’ll be discussing some tips on something we do every day: reading! And not just any type of reading, but actively reading.

Just like a great athlete must undergo deep practice to become skilled at his or her game, an expert reader must practice good habits when it comes to reading. Actively reading is akin to this type of deep practice.

Here are some podcasts with great literature suggestions.

Best Summer Reading

Helping Literal Thinkers with Literature Analysis

Literature In Your Homeschool

Tip #1: Set Yourself Up for Success

When I am actively reading something, I have pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, and an array of colored pencils by my side — these are my tools for success.

For example, if I actively read a novel, there are few pages that don’t have some underlined or circled word, a question scribbled in the margin, or a highlighted phrase. Come up with a process that works for you and find the tools that best suit it.

Tip #2: Ask Questions

An inquiring mind learns. In order for true knowledge acquisition to occur during an actively reading session, the reader must ask themselves questions to stay engaged with the literature.

Below, I have shared a series of questions that are useful for readers starting to actively read. My high school freshman English teacher used them to guide our literary learning throughout the year. They proved to be a great base for engaging with different texts and served me well after. These questions can be most readily applied to novels and poetry; however, they can be adapted to really any piece of literature. The questions are broken up into the following sections: characters, setting, plot, symbols and other devices, point of view, themes, irony, and newly imagined.

CHARACTER
• Who is the protagonist and who or what is the antagonist?
• What words come to mind when you think about the protagonist or the antagonist?
• How is he, she, or it characterized?
• What motivates this character’s actions?
• What is memorable about the character?
• Is the author’s depiction of the character the same throughout the entire text?
• Are there any surprises? If so what are they?

SETTING
• Where does the story take place? Is the setting: geographical, physical, magical, socio-economic, chronological?
• Locate and specify the various types of setting. What does such specific setting contribute to the overall effect of the story (thematically or in terms of character)?
• When the setting changes where does it change to and how does the change impact the story?

PLOT
• Briefly, what is going on?
• What structure does the story follow (e.g. Freytag)?
• Where in the story are the main points?
• What are the conflicts? Where in the story are they?
• Are the conflicts internal or external? Are they physical, intellectual, societal, moral, or emotional?
• Is the main conflict between sharply differentiated entities (e.g. good versus evil), or is it more subtle and complex?
• Does the plot have unity? Are all the episodes relevant to the total meaning or effect of the story?
• Is the ending happy, unhappy, or indeterminate? Is it fairly achieved?

SYMBOLS AND OTHER DEVICES
• Does the story make use of symbols?
• What kind does the author use (names, objects, actions)?
• What does each symbol mean?
• Does the symbol carry or merely reinforce the meaning of the story?
• What other devices does the author use (e.g. imagery, metaphor, personification, pathos, allusions, aphorisms)? How are they used? What meaning does their use lend to the story?

POINT OF VIEW
• What point of view does the story use?
• Is it consistent in its use of this point of view?
• If shifts in point of view are made are they justified?
• If the point of view is that of one of the characters does that character have any limitations that affect her/his interpretation of events or persons?

THEME
• Does the story have a theme?
• What is it? Is it implicit or explicit?
• Does the theme reinforce or oppose popular notions of life?
• Does it furnish a new insight or refresh or deepen an old one?
• Remember, a theme is an opinion rather like a thesis statement not simply a topic.

IRONY
• Does the story anywhere utilize irony? If so what kind and how? What functions do the ironies serve?

NEWLY IMAGINED
• Compared to other things you have read is there something new, unique, or different about the way the author presents this story or poem?

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