Experiencing Holidays Through My Son’s Eyes

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I have a son that loves holidays. He’s eight. He never was into trucks or sports, but he can single-handedly decorate our yard, door, and every surface in our 825-square-foot home for the holidays — mostly with homemade original stuff. Maybe if we get lucky, he spends his own money to purchase “real nice” decorations from the 99-cents store.

I haven’t been sure what to do with this enthusiasm, because I am a visual merchandiser by nature (and in my previous career). I like to have a place for everything and have some rest for the eye visually — and the tchotchkes cramp my style. So where holidays are concerned, my husband and I haven’t been inclined to make too big a deal about them. That was before our son took it into his own hands.

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As a parent, you desire to set the right precedence for your kids and not mislead them. However, I think we can use “holidays” — whether they be man-made, family-made, or historically made — as an opportunity to turn our children’s hearts to God. He provided seasons for us to remember Him in so many different ways. I’m learning that my son is already the little person who God created him to be. There is something in him that yearns for the seasonal change and the great expectation of “what’s next.”

Click here for the full post, Seeing Holidays Through My Son’s Eyes, for more about what God’s teaching me about celebrating holidays with my children through the creativity and excitement of my son.

As Easter approaches, how do you view celebrating the holidays with your children? What are your favorite family Easter traditions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Hands-on Homeschool: Medieval Fair Trip

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Last Friday we took the kids to the Medieval Fair in Norman, Oklahoma. We had been studying The Middle Ages earlier this year, so the kids were excited to go.

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When I was researching which fair we wanted to attend, I quickly discovered the difference between a Medieval Fair and a Renaissance Fair. King Edward III, along with his Queen Philippa and their sons Edward (The Black Prince) and Richard I, held court at the Medieval Fair. On the other hand, the Renaissance Fair will have the court of Henry VIII and also the French Court of Charles. Knowing the difference is important if you want to prepare your students for the history and customs of the time period they will be visiting.

The Medieval Fair was held at at a large park near the University of Oklahoma campus. It was a beautiful day: Elizabeth’s girls all dressed in character. Admission was free (parking was $5) and I thought this was a great deal, but I quickly realized that at least two thirds of the tents were vendor tents. The educational interactive style areas were few and far between.

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The King’s court was very cool: In fact, Joel and Leif were knighted, and Stormie, Faith and Cadence were made princesses. The Scottish bagpipe show was awesome, and the Barely Balanced acrobats put on quite an impressive performance. There was also a really cool bird show, and several of the kids got to hold and pet an owl.

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The kids all had a great time (although we all got sunburned). We plan to attend the Renaissance Festival next month, and then I can do a better comparison of the two events. I remember attending the Renaissance Festival about six years ago: The venue is at a “castle” and is set up like a village, which made the atmosphere much more authentic. Although the ticket price is $15, the vendor-to-educational booth ratio is much better.

If you are considering attending either type of fair with your children, you’ll want to be aware of the costuming and modesty issues when workers and guests take their costumes to the extreme. However, many fairs offer a student day, which can be more tasteful. If they don’t offer this, then I would suggest morning visits.

Download Our Free Homeschool Field Trip Planner!

FieldTripPlannerPromoAnytime you take a field trip, it is a good idea to prepare and note pertinent information in advance, such as location, dates and times, price, parking, etc. We’ve created our own homeschool field trip planner and student report template for this purpose. You can download it for free here. The student report page captures your child’s experiences after the field trip and can be included in a subject study notebook or field trip notebook. Whenever you start a new subject, you can look back at previous field trip reports to see what destinations can be visited again for new information gathering and learning.

Have you ever visited a Medieval or Renaissance fair as a homeschooling experience? If so, what were the highlights? What other ways do you incorporate hands-on homeschooling with history? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Part Three: Seeking God’s Direction

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When you are faced with major decisions regarding your homeschooling, your family, your own personal role and relationships, seeking God’s direction can be challenging. Even daily decisions can get bogged down with the opinions and advice of others, self doubt, and conflicting messages from our culture. As I shared in Part One and Part Two […]

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Hands-on Homeschool: Garden Prep Field Trip

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Last week we took a few days off for a spring garden prep “field trip” at the home of my in-laws in Kansas. Grandpa and Grandma Gotcher are “firstgen” homeschoolers: They began homeschooling my husband and his two sisters in the early 1980s. They needed help getting their orchard and garden cleaned, pruned and prepped […]

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Ask a NextGen Homeschooler: Must I Finish Every Textbook?

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“Ask a NextGen Homeschooler” is your turn to ask our authors — formerly homeschooled moms who are now homeschooling our children — to weigh in on your homeschooling questions. We welcome all of your questions, whether you’re looking for practical tips or support and encouragement! This week’s question was brought up in a discussion with […]

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Whole-Hearted Homeschooling: It’s Not What You Do, But Why

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Last night I had the pleasure of meeting 20-year homeschooling veteran Lori Lane, founder of Artios Academies and Heart Of The Matter Online, a Christian homeschooling encouragement Web site. As the guest speaker for my local homeschool support group, Lori shared her personal homeschooling journey and its connection to the foundation of Artios Academy and […]

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Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop #5

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Real Life Homeschooling is back in 2014! Real Life Homeschooling is a monthly blog hop that will show the world that homeschooling is so much more than sitting at a desk doing math worksheets. On the second Tuesday of each month, a group of homeschool bloggers (including NextGen Homeschool) co-host the Real Life Homeschooling blog […]

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Ask a NextGen Homeschooler: How Can I Breathe Life Into My Homeschool Curriculum?

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Welcome to “Ask a NextGen Homeschooler.” It’s your turn to ask the authors of NextGen Homeschool — formerly homeschooled moms who are now homeschooling our children — to weigh in on your homeschooling questions. From the practical to the personal, all questions are welcome! This week’s question comes from a NextGen Homeschool reader: My husband […]

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Five Places to Find Spiritual Refreshment

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Every journey requires times of rest to regroup and restore physically and mentally. As homeschoolers, we know this all to well: It’s easy to burn out when we don’t pace ourselves and take necessary breaks. It’s no different with our spiritual journey. If we’re running full steam ahead ourselves and constantly pouring out to others […]

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Looking Ahead to Teach Them Diligently D.C.

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This year our family is planning to attend the Teach Them Diligently Convention in Washington D.C., taking place May 15-17. As residents of Oklahoma, this is a huge thing for our family. My husband and children have never been to the East Coast, and I was only 16 years old when our family went on […]

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Considering Homeschooling? Trust Your Calling

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Recently a good friend of mine surprised me by asking if we could get together to talk about homeschooling. I wasn’t surprised that she might consider it, but I was surprised by the timing and eagerness to get it all figured out right now — months before the school year’s end. My friend summed up […]

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Bible Memorization Made Easy for Families

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Because we integrate Bible study and memorization of verses into many aspects of our homeschooling (and my daughters participate in AWANA), I’ve never tried an organized approach to memorizing Bible passages as a family. However, it’s something I have kept on the “to do” list for some time, mentally filing the ideas and experiences of […]

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Simple Homeschool Co-Op for Tweens: Book Clubs

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Last week we kicked off our fourth semester of girls book club with ten other homeschooling moms & their daughters. The girls book club is a homeschool “co-op” (cooperative education group) that I started two years ago and have continued to coordinate since then, chronicling our journey here at NextGen Homeschool. Although my original intent […]

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“Empty: A Couple’s Study of Marriage” Review

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In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, I’m reviewing two books about Christ-centered marriage. I firmly believe that both a strong marriage built on “the rock” (Matthew 7:24-27) and partnership in homeschool decisions is critical for homeschooling success, so I was really excited to review these two recently released books on this topic. Click here […]

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“Freedom Worth Defending” – 29th Annual Oklahoma Homeschool Capitol Day

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Our family decided to attend this year’s Oklahoma Homeschool Capitol Day. I took our two daughters to this event seven years ago, when our son Joel was only a year old. Hannah had made homemade apple pies for our Representative and Senator. We hadn’t attended since then because the girls didn’t want to go again, […]

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“My Beloved and My Friend” Book Review & Ultimate Classical Homeschool Giveaway

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In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, I’m reviewing two books about Christ-centered marriage. I firmly believe that both a strong marriage built on “the rock” (Matthew 7:24-27) and partnership in homeschool decisions is critical for homeschooling success, so I was really excited to review these two recently released books on this topic. The first […]

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