Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Candy Store

I've taken the kids on a lot of field trips...

And in the process they have learned a great amount relating to science and history etc.

Despite that, I think our 30 minute tour of River Street Sweets in Savannah has been their favorite.

I can see where dipping marshmallows, or anything for that matter, in a large vat of chocolate would be quite memorable.  


And this taffy stretching machine was quite mesmerizing.  


This 98 year old taffy cutting and wrapping machine was the coolest...


And my mind was racing with thoughts of what I could do with this mixer.


They left with smiles on their faces.


And visions of Candy Land in their heads.


All chocolate and sugar joy aside, this taffy machine was very cool.  Take a minute and watch this old style candy making in action.

video

Have you ever been somewhere that allowed you to see food being made the old fashioned way?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Black Beauty Unit Study

We start each morning with reading time.  The kids migrate to the living room in their pajamas, find a blanket and munch on a morning snack while I read.  It is a great time and we are enjoying it more and more as the months of this tradition pass.  Recently, we finished "Black Beauty" by Anna Sewell, and even though I had watched the movie when I was younger, I don't remember ever reading the book.


The kids were moved as they heard the story of Black Beauty growing up in Victorian England, and how his life changed from one of ease, hard work, almost death and then ease, once again.


As I read the story I was constantly questioning who Anna Sewell was.  What made her so sensitive to the plight of the horse during this era?  Was it her misfortune as a teen that resulted in injury, making it nearly impossible for her to walk?  "Black Beauty" is all that she is famous for, but I suspect she was a very unique and special woman.


Here are a few links that I used to study this literature, the art of bit and spur making, the history of the horse, Victorian Britain and Anna Sewell.


Free Copy of Black Beauty


















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Monday, April 30, 2012

Who Home Schools? This family from Musings From A Stay At Home Mom


It is my goal that this weekly feature will allow us to see the face of home schooling.  In the past eight weeks I have been reminded of how diverse the home school community really is.  No wonder traditional schooling is not an option for these families.  The love of family and wanting what is best for their children, seems to be the most common thread.  Click here, to be redirected to previous interviews.



This week's interview is from "Musings From A Stay At Home Mom,"  



  • How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home?  Have they always been home schooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?

I was homeschooled myself from 2nd grade all the way through highschool (I received my diploma through an accredited correspondence school) and I always knew homeschooling would be a possibility for my children.

We have 4 children and our oldest, Nathan, is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. When he was ready to enter kindergarten, I wasn’t ready to homeschool. I knew how much work it was and I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it. We checked out our options - public, then private school, and nothing was “right.” So that left homeschooling. I didn’t exactly go into it willing, but I’m thankful the Lord allowed me to explore the options and determine on my own that homeschooling was the right choice for our family. 

  • What is your goal in home educating your children?

My main goal is to provide my kids with a good education. We are Christians, but I don’t homeschool with the mindset of “sheltering” them. W do feel there is a lot to be desired in terms of things kids pick up in public school, but we primarily homeschool because the education just isn’t there in the public schools. The number of highschoolers who can barely read these days is astounding and I want better for my children. Of course, I love that I can tailor our school to what works for my individual children and also continue to teach them good values in the process.



  • Do your children have extra curricular activities?  If so, what are they?
Yes, my kids are karate kids. Both Nathan and Emily (now 5 and entering kindergarten in the fall) take karate class. It’s great physical activity for them, encourages respect and good listening, and also exposes them to other “non-homeschooling” kids too. We have many friends and are active in our church, so they definitely get out a lot.



  • Have you ever hired someone to teach a subject to your children?  If so, why?
No, we haven’t hired anyone, mainly because my oldest is in 3rd grade and we haven’t reached the “difficult” subjects yet. I’m certainly not opposed to it and it’s definitely something we’ll keep in mind as the kids get older.


  • Have you graduated a child?  Do you plan to teach through high school?
No, my kids are still small. At this point, we are taking homeschooling year by year. Right now, I don’t plan on teaching them through highschool. My husband and his siblings were homeschooled and then sent to a public highschool and did very well with that. It was a good stepping stone for them between homeschooling and out in the “real world” and college. We might take that approach, but it’s pretty far off yet, so we’ll see.




  • Do you have a defined style of instruction such as Classical, montessori, unschooling,  or Charlotte Mason?  Are you willing to share how you decided to use this method?

I use traditional instruction. We primarily use A Beka curriculum, combined with Saxon math, and I like that both are a respected, well encompassing curriculum that has been used for many years. I was taught A Beka as a child too and I’m confident that my kids are getting a good education with it. We don’t always follow the curriculum 100%, but that’s one of the best parts of homeschooling - the ability to tailor instruction according to the child’s needs.


  • What does your schedule look like?  Do you start early and finish just after lunch?  Or do you start later in the day?  Do you teach through the summer? And if so, why?

I really have just one child in school now, with my daughter doing a little kindergarten work.  We try to get our schooling done in the morning and my son finishes up seatwork  in the afternoon. With 2 children, ages 1 and 2, it can make for an interrupted scheduled at times, but it does work pretty well.


  • Do you home school for religious reasons?  If so what religion are you?
We’re born again Christians and active in our non-denominational church, however we don’t homeschool directly for religious reasons.  As I said before, we primarily homeschool because of the lack of education in public school. If our local school provided a better, consistent education, there’s a good chance we would send our children there.



  • What was your number one concern or worry when you started out on this endeavor?  Has it continued to be your main issue?  Why has it changed?
Honestly, my main concern with homeschooling was that it would take over my life. My mom homeschooled my 3 siblings and myself and I saw how much work it was for her and the tremendous amount of time it took. It’s not that I don’t love my children, but I just didn’t want it to take over my life like it did hers. So I really hesitated. Now that I’ve been homeschooling for 4 years, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t have to be all encompassing. We do the work and we’re done. My son scores well on testing and I know he’s getting a great education. But we have a life outside of school and it works.


  • What aspect of home schooling do you enjoy the most?  What part do you greatly dislike?
I love that I’m such apart of my children’s lives. I can’t imagine sending them off for 6-8 hours a day. And it’s not in a I-can’t-let-go-of-my-kids kind of way, but in a I-love-being-with-them sense. I also love the flexibility. We can take a day off at random times to have a family day or a few days off to go out of state mid-year for a family wedding. On the other hand, we’ll keep working during a snowstorm when public school is off so it all evens out.
I also love that my kids don’t come home from a long day and have piles of homework. I’m their mom and I’m in charge of their “homework.” When they’re learning, they really are; it’s not about “busy work.”

I wouldn’t say there’s any part I greatly dislike about homeschooling. There are definitely days when I’m tired and I have fleeting thoughts about how nice it would be to send them off, but honestly, it doesn’t happen often. I go by the motto that tomorrow is a new day. If we have a long tough day where one of the kids just doesn’t get something or the little ones aren’t cooperating, that’s okay. We’ll start again tomorrow.


  • Is there anything that you would like others to know about your home schooling?

I firmly believe that homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but that it can be a tremendous blessing for those that feel called to it. I don’t think homeschooling should be a burden; it can be a source of great joy for the whole family.


I am very grateful for this interview. Please take a moment to check out:


MusingsFromAStayAtHomeMom


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Monday, April 23, 2012

"Who Home Schools?" Darcy @ "Just A Night Owl"


It is my goal that this weekly feature will allow us to see the face of home schooling.  I hope that it answers some questions and sheds light on - Who homeschools and why?

Today's interview is with Darcy from "Just A Night Owl." If you home school and are interested in participating in this interview please email me - savannahmcqueen at ymail.com dot com 




How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home?  Have they always been home schooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?

 My oldest two children were in public school and Christian school for six years before my husband and I decided to homeschool. At the point that we brought them home, our original intent was to keep them home for a year in order to save the tuition that private school was costing us. We had planned to be debt free by the end of that school year and then return them to school the following year. That was four years ago. They never went back

What is your goal in home educating your children?

Our goal in home educating our children, is that they complete their years of education in a safe and loving environment. One that they can focus on their studies and the development of themselves, so that they can grow up well prepared for their lives as adults.

Do your children have extra curricular activities?  If so, what are they?


My children participate in football, soccer, choir, Bible clubs, theatre groups, and youth groups. They also volunteer at Special Olympics, community service days, and serve in our children's program at church.

Have you ever hired someone to teach a subject to your children?  If so, why?

No. We have not had the need to, up to this point.


Have you graduated a child?  Do you plan to teach through high school?


Our oldest is in 7th grade and I am currently researching and planning for high school. We take one year, prayerfully at a time. However, our plan at this point is to teach them at home throughout high school.

Do you have a defined style of instruction such as Classical, montessori, unschooling,  or Charlotte Mason?  Are you willing to share how you decided to use this method?


I have researched various methods and have landed on a eclectic style of teaching. Our studies closely resemble what they would be studying if they were still at school outside of our home.

What does your schedule look like?  Do you start early and finish just after lunch?  Or do you start later in the day?  Do you teach through the summer? And if so, why?


We follow a traditional school calendar with summers off. We start at 8:15 and end about 2:30.

Do you home school for religious reasons?  If so what religion are you?

We are Christian. We follow what we believe the Lord is calling us to and for us that is home education. We do not believe that any other types of education are wrong. For our family, we have simply chosen a home based education.




Do you have a vision statement for your home school?  If so, what is it?

We do not have a formal vision statement for our school.

If you were to recommend a book(s) to a new or prospective home school parent, what would you choose?

Quite honestly the best homeschool advice and resources I have found are blogs. I have read a couple of homeschool books, but have found that the advice from those in the trenches has been most helpful!




What was your number one concern or worry when you started out on this endeavor?  Has it continued to be your main issue?  Why has it changed?

My number one concern when I started this endeavor was that my kids would learn. Actually learn things. After three years of teaching three students (including being pregnant and giving birth to our fourth child) my kids are learning. I see their growth and development and am encouraged. It is possible to learn outside of the classroom! In the beginning, I wasn't too sure!


What aspect of home schooling do you enjoy the most?  What part do you greatly dislike?


The aspect of home schooling that I enjoy the most is that I don't miss much of my kids lives. They are only little for such a short time and I am getting a front row seat. Living with your kids, raising them, and educating them, creates a very deep level of understanding of each other. I have gotten to know my kids in ways that I didn't know before and I love it. The part that I greatly dislike is how dirty my house gets! A piece of advice that I was given early on was get ready to use and abuse your house! Oh how that was right! We are home all day and that is a big change from life before. Our house is well used! :)

Are/Were there any subjects that you felt incapable of adequately teaching?  Have you overcome this?  If so can you explain how you have achieved this?


 There are definitely subjects that I am stronger in than others. I tend to gravitate and become more passionate about subjects that involve creativity. Since math is not one of those, I have struggled as the older children have greater difficulty in their math curriculum. In order to combat this, I have chosen an online math curriculum to provide more consistency and structure in their learning. I think as a homeschool parent it is incredibly important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments accordingly!



This post is linked directly to Darcy's site:


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Upcoming on Hammock Tracks tomorrow:
"A Homeschool Mom Asks..."
Check back tomorrow and see if you can provide assistance to another home school Mom who needs some insight on her home schooling journey.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hammock Homeschool Giveaway Thursday

Everyone likes to receive freebies.  In case you weren't aware of it, publishers are appealing to bloggers in an effort to spread knowledge about their new products.  Many bloggers review these items and offer them in give aways.  Entering these give aways is usually a painless procedure.  The website owner may ask you to leave a comment after the post stating why you would like to receive the gift, and others may require that you follow them through a social media such as - Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.  In an effort to bring you some of these deals I am kicking off Thursday Give-Away-Day. Below, there are a list of people offering a variety of products that I have located around the web.  Click on the picture and you will be directed to their site, where you can enter their drawing.  Have fun and check back next week for more freebies.

If you are a blog owner and you are giving away an item, please feel free to link up below.  I would appreciate it if you would link back to me.  If you include this blog button on your site I will tweet/Facebook about your give away three times, in the next week.  Thanks!





Hammock Tracks


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brinkman's Adventures - Review and Giveaway


Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing Brinkman's Adventures, an audio series  about a missionary family, and I am so delighted that I had this opportunity.  My children who are ages ten and six couldn't wait to hear each episode.  I went into this review with high hopes, but a few doubts.  Children hear and watch so many superbly created video shows and audio books, that I knew they would easily detect a third rate production.  Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, and many other large producers spare no money when it comes to their digital creations, and our children are flooded with these samples from their earliest years.

Brinkman's Adventures is a wonderfully produced content rich series of missionary experiences, and far from third rate.  As my children listened to these tales, which they enjoyed immensely, they were allowed to get a glimpse into the family dynamics of another Christian family, and that is something they don't see on cable TV.  They enjoyed every episode and often times begged to listen to the next one.

The Brinkman's Adventures website is easily navigated and provides background information on the fictional stories they tell.


The Brinkman's want to get these stories to children, and as such they ask that you pay what you are able in order to own a CD of your own, or to download them.  The cost to produce and mail a CD is $3.50, anything above that is used to produce more stories.


One of my favorite features of the website is the behind the scenes recordings.


The Brinkman's are offering a giveaway, but I think that if you really want to enjoy these wonderful Christian tales you should consider contacting your local Christian radio station and send them a link to the site.  On Memorial Day weekend of 2012, the Brinkman's are kicking off this brand new audio drama series, on the radio
How wonderful it would be if we could help them connect to our local stations.


Brinkman's Adventures would also be a great resource for Sunday School, backyard groups, Bible Studies, and could be the theme for a creative do-it-yourself Vacation Bible School.

If you would like to purchase your own copy, click here.  

And here is the giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Brinkman's Adventures provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

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Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients,Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts. You can follow Savannah on Twitter andFacebook.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Who Home Schools?" Karyn from Teach Beside Me



It is my goal that this weekly feature will allow us to see the face of home schooling.  I hope that it answers some questions and sheds light on - Who homeschools and why?

Today's interview is with Karyn from "Teach Beside Me." If you home school and are interested in participating in this interview please email me - savannahmcqueen at ymail.com dot com 



How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home?  Have they always been home schooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?


My kids are young- the oldest is 7 but he has always been
homeschooled.  My sister and I started a little preschool for our kids and as I taught him in preschool I realized that I wanted to do school a little differently.  He was very advanced - was reading well at age 3- and I was concerned about boredom and losing the joy of learning.  That was where my initial homeschooling thoughts came from. I have an aunt who homeschool her kids and always talked about how amazing it has been for her family.  I called her and had a long talk with her about it.  I read every book about homeschooling I could get my hands on.  The more I read, the more convinced I was about my decision.  I also took it to God- and felt SO strongly that this was the decision I needed to make for my family.  We currently have three children ages 7, 4 and 1. We are in our second year of homeschooling.


What is your goal in home educating your children?


My goal in educationg my children at home is to continue to inspire their love of learning, to give them a better education, to teach them the classics, to have real, hands-on learning experiences, to teach the spiritual side of things along with the secular, to teach them the importance of family... there are so many more reasons, it is hard to put them all into words.



Do your children have extra curricular activities?  If so, what are they?


We do have extracurricular activities.  We participate in a weekly homeschool co-op group together, my son is part of a lego club, and we also have a P.E. class at our Recreation center that we go to once a week.


Have you ever hired someone to teach a subject to your children?  If so, why?


I haven't ever hired anyone to teach my kids a subject, but I plan on hiring someone for music lessons in the next year.



Have you graduated a child?  Do you plan to teach through high school?


At his point I plan on teaching my kids through high-school.



Do you have a defined style of instruction such as Classical, montessori, unschooling,  or Charlotte Mason?  Are you willing to share how you decided to use this method?


I do not use a defined style of homeschooling right now.  I lean
heavily towards TJEd and Charlotte Mason.  I really love focusing on the classics and inspiring a love of learning in my children.  I would consider myself "eclectic" though since I do not stick to one method strictly.



What does your schedule look like?  Do you start early and finish just after lunch?  Or do you start later in the day?  Do you teach through the summer? And if so, why?


We start school early and are almost always done before lunch- unless life gets in the way.  Our schedule in the morning is breakfast, morning chores, then we do a devotional.  We have subjects that we work on each day- writing, reading, math, spelling, grammar- Then we also have subjects that we do one or two times per week- history, nature, art, music, foreign language, science, geography.


Do you home school for religious reasons?  If so what religion are you?


Initially I did not begin homeschooling for religious reasons, but it has evolved into it as I have studied more about homeschooling and become more convinced of the benefits.  Now, I would say, that it is definitely for religious reasons.  I am of the LDS faith (Mormon) and am deeply religious.  I love bringing the scriptures into our studies-especially combining the Bible with our studies of ancient history. It has been such a fun way to learn!



Do you have a vision statement for your home school?  If so, what is it?


I don't have a mission statement- but do have a strong vision for what I want our homeschool/family to be like.  Not sure I can fully describe it though...  I want my family to understand the importance of knowledge and to love learning and gaining knowledge.  I want them to learn love and respect for family, neighbors, self, and country.


If you were to recommend a book(s) to a new or prospective home school parent, what would you choose?


A book I would recommend to a new or prospective homeschooler would be A Thomas Jefferson Education, by Oliver DeMille.


What was your number one concern or worry when you started out on this endeavor?  Has it continued to be your main issue?  Why has it changed?


My main concern when I was considering homeschooling was the perception of others- I know that sounds shallow and insecure, but it's true.  It is no longer my main concern.  Now, my main concern is probably fitting in everything I want to teach them, or keeping organized.



What aspect of home schooling do you enjoy the most?  What part do you greatly dislike?


What I most enjoy about homeschooling is being with my family all the time- watching them learn, learning along with them, reading so many great books together.


What I least enjoy about homeschooling would be the constant mess in my home :)



Are/Were there any subjects that you felt incapable of adequately teaching?  Have you overcome this?  If so can you explain how you have achieved this?


I feel incapable of teaching advanced math and science.  I am not too concerned anymore, though.  I am learning along with my kids- I also have a LONG way to go before I need to teach those subjects. I feel much more capable now that I have seen how much more I am learning the second time through and how much more I value knowledge.


Is there anything that you would like others to know about your home schooling?


Homeschooling is one of the best choices I have ever made.  I often feel inadequate, but get over it eventually.  It is never easy, but it's always worth all the work in the end.  I hope I can continue to homeschool all of my children.


Karyn is the author of  the very informative home educating site, "Teach Beside Me." She can also be found on Facebook or Twitter.  I encourage you to check her site out.


Teach Beside Me

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Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients,Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts. You can follow Savannah on Twitter andFacebook.
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