Category Archives: Starting Out

Ancient Egypt’s Been a Blast!

Sarah’s Egypt Lap Book

We’ve spent the last few weeks learning SO much about the first great civilization. Want to know how they made mummies? We can tell you all the gory details. The kids had fun with the lap books and salt maps. We’ve seen how it all relates back to the Bible, especially imagining Moses’ life in Egypt. Pyramids, pharaohs , the Nile, deserts, archeology– whew! It’s been a great way to get the kids off to a happy start. Ancient Egypt is a very kid friendly mini-unit with lots of strange facts and hands-on projects.

Tim’s really doing great with the math and science. He’s quickly learning what they need and tailoring the lessons and homework to fit each kid. For science he’s focusing on both big ideas (the universe, Newton’s laws) and smaller ones (How does an air conditioner work? What are the parts of a door? Which pipes are used in plumbing?). He is also taking them through the Old Testament, which fits nicely with our history units. I know it’s a cliche, but kids really are sponges. He’s also teaching Caleb how to do some basic computer programming using Python. Caleb says he’s working on a program to turn English words into Pig Latin!

We are reading A LOT! I was afraid all of the assigned work would dampen his passion for reading, but he sets his alarm to get up early to read his “just for fun” books (Lemony Snicket has replaced the Hardy Boys for now). At lunch we’ve been listening to a terrific recording of Peter Pan. Jim Dale is the best narrator!

Caleb’s not so crazy about cursive, but he’s getting it. Sarah is really improving in her penmanship. She LOVES her grammar lessons. I am really impressed with Jessie Wise’s The Well-Trained Mind grammar books. I’ll probably devote a whole entry to those in the future. Caleb’s still not too enthused, but I’ll keep going for a while and keep looking for ways to supplement.

Daddy covers P.E. as well. They practice a little ball most days, and both kids are on teams this season again.

I’m still hoping to fit Latin and more fine arts in to our schedule, but not yet. We’re still getting used to the whole thing. I’m tired and Tim’s trying to figure out how to keep his work schedule compatible with homeschooling. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance it all. I’m think we might just take every fourth or fifth week off just to get some things done! I had plans for re-doing the living room, but right now I’m just trying to catch my breath. I’m also doing a lousy job documenting it all.

The bottom line is this — it’s already clear to me that this is right for our family. I love seeing my kids like this. They love all of the time they get to spend with us. A messy house is not much of a sacrifice for drawing us closer.


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Filed under homeschooling, Starting Out

Week One

Salt Dough Map

We wrapped up our first week. I’m hooked. I only wish we’d begun a couple of years ago.

That said, it wasn’t all smooth. A day did not go by when the kids were not brought to tears several times in frustration. We’re all having to get used to new roles, new ways of relating to one another. It was hard on Sarah at first. Momma was acting like someone else — a teacher! She wanted to crawl into my lap at the end of the first day,  to get back, I suppose,  to the “old” Mommy. Caleb was unnerved when I asked him to decorate his history notebook cover with pictures of Egypt . He just burst into tears. It threw me until we talked it out. He wanted to know exactly what we were about to study (my boy likes structure). Once I showed him the outline (See, Momma has a plan. Sort of.), he relaxed a bit.

Tim is taking his part in stride, of course, just as I knew he would. He spends 7:30-8:15 teaching math, science, and Bible study, often overlapping all three subjects. Creation, numbers, fonts, numerals, Newton, Galileo, ancient beliefs about the shape of the earth, why God created the sun, moon, and stars (see fourth day in Genesis), multiplication tables, oh, and how air conditioners work (it’s HOT this week in Tennessee!). Yeah. And that’s just week one. He’s a natural at pulling it all together and making connections without breaking a sweat. I’m learning a lot in that hour right along with the kids. This is what you get when you’re married to a rocket scientist. I love watching him share his passions with our kids.

I’m using the Tapestry of Grace curriculum for history, geography, government, and Bible/ church history. It’s literature- based, so we are busy reading, reading, reading (Thank goodness for the library or we’d be spending thousands!). Eventually I’d like to add Latin, but I’m going to wait a few months while we get used to things. After just a week, though, I can appreciate the resiliency of my children and the closeness of our family. Both have fostered the transition much more easily than I’d have imagined. BRAG WARNING: My kids are awesome! They are happily reading, and occasional tears aside, are really trying to do what they are asked. Caleb is learning cursive and I was surprised to see how beautifully he writes.

I love the grammar book I’m using with Sarah Mae. It’s First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. I’m not quite as satisfied with Caleb’s book, but I think we’ll be fine. I’ll probably just create my own as we go anyway. I’m feeling as though I’m on solid ground when we enter that particular territory. It’s good to finally use that dusty old college degree in English!
We are studying ancient Egypt for three weeks or so. Do you know the five-step process in mummification? I do! I’ve learned more in a week than I think I learned in all of middle school. We finished the week creating salt dough maps in order to learn the different geographical features. They will take a few days to complete, but what fun!

One thing I did not expect was how homeschooling would lighten my attitude toward housework. Now I just want to get it done and out of the way so we can get to the good stuff. Somehow everything involving the running of our household seems more intentional, more purposeful.

It’s a whole new world for the Bratcher family!

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Filed under Curriculum, Starting Out

Diving In the Deep End


On homeschooling: We’re beginning a whole new way of life in our home by taking back all of the responsibility of raising and educating our two children. My daughter just finished kindergarten, and my son the second grade. Though we had them in a private Christian school, I have been thinking and praying and reading about it for years, and I’ve finally realized there’s no such thing as the “perfect” time, as the Scriptures reminded me recently:

Whoever watches the wind will not plant

whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. ECC 11: 4

It’s time to go for it; lock, stock, and barrel.


Filed under homeschooling, Starting Out