What Cheer!

What Cheer! (<– that’s Hello! in Pilgrim)

Speaking of the Pilgrims, we’ve been on a six week journey into the lives of these people. Oh my! The sacrifice, the hardship these people endured is incomparable to anything I’ve  personally experienced. These Separatists were driven out of their homeland to Holland and eventually landing in the New World. Speared onward by their deep conviction to worship freely they pressed through conditions unfathomable for the hope of freedom. I thank them dearly for their sacrifice. This is a foundation that weaves its way into the fabric of Americanism.

Here’s a list of books and activities that we’ve used to learn about the Pilgrims (and Wampanoag). First, I should mention we are using Trail Guide to Learning this year. It just so happens (perfect timing) that our 6 week Pilgrim unit is during November. This was the launching point for our deep dive into Pilgrims. This curriculum uses Stories of the Pilgrims as a read aloud (we chose the Kindle audio version), Sarah Morton’s Day, Samuel Eaton’s Day, The Story of the Pilgrims and Squanto’s Journey. These provide a very well rounded history of the Pilgrims from Holland to the New World where they meet their new friend Squanto.  There are many projects included in the unit such as studies of various Native American tribes, food sources and animals. Product Details

After reading about Sarah Morton and Samuel Eaton we discovered that these books were created by Scholastic and Plimoth Plantation. Plimoth Plantation is a living museum with a valuable website. I was fascinated by the material provided and spent several hours reading through the content on the site. They have fun facts, recipes, lifestyles of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag and videos.


Our hunger for more knowledge about life in the 1600’s lead us to the library where (thank you librarian) we found another gem in the form of a book, Colonial Kids. This book is jam-packed with tidbits (Did you know most Colonial Kids | Main photo (Cover)Pilgrims had no teeth by age 20? Or that forks were not a utensil used for eating?), crafts, games and recipes. There were so many good ideas we HAD TO HAVE Pilgrim day!

We put our lessons (worksheets and books) away and spent an entire day living like a Pilgrim…well we still used our indoor plumbing and electricity, but you get the idea. Here’s what we accomplished:


bread-1460402_1920.jpgWe made cornbread and hasty pudding. Corn was a staple without corn these folk literally were starving.

Groaning bread, similar to fruit cake, this was a gift to new mothers.

Ginger snaps, a nod to how this all began…it was the quest for a western trade route to the treasured Asian spices 100 years earlier that inadvertently landed Columbus on the shores of the New World.

Cider, unclean water created a health hazard so Pilgrims relied on cider and beer as their beverage for both adults and kids alike.

Finally, we churned butter.


We made Mayflower Ships from paper.

Paper bag Pilgrim puppets.Image result for pilgrim paper bag puppet

Colored Pilgrim and Wampanoag pictures (found at Plimoth Plantation).

Made cards using quilling (an art form using paper strips that have been rolled into designs)

Using a flashlight and dark room, we made silhouettes of our profiles (the first “selfie” 😉 )

There are many other ideas included in this book, but we simply ran out of hours in our Pilgrim Day. A few fun suggestions in the book include games  and sewing ideas. I’m writing it here as a reminder for next year :). Another activity we incorporated throughout the month was a Thankful Tree (I purchased one from Target this year), as well as, fill in the blank “I’m thankful for…” printables.

I hope you find inspiration from this list of Pilgrim (Wampanoag) books, recipes, crafts and more! I’m incredibly thankful for the sacrifice of this early generation, I’m equally thankful that I’m not a Pilgrim living in those harsh conditions!

Happy Thanksgiving!





Worldschooling in China & Japan

Worldschooling lesson plan ~ China & Japanchildren-1807511_1920

Here’s a peek at how our homeschool club used Day of the Dragon King and Night of the Ninjas to visit China and Japan. Our club meets for two hours once a week. We have a variety of ages ranging from 3 years up to 9 years. The majority sit in the 6-8yr range and that’s where these activities are geared. We spread these activities over 5 weeks and truly we could have kept going. I have provided links to the websites we used as well as links to the products I created (posted in my TpT store Explore Time).

Our club decided to read two books (there are more) to explore China and Japan. We read Day of the Dragon King (China) and Night of the Ninjas (Japan).

For every book we read we spend one lesson on discussion. The emphasis of our book discussions are not fill-in-the-blank or true and false type activities. I’m not concerned that every detail of the book is retained. Instead we focus on the story elements (beginning, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution) of every story and how they work together to create an adventure.

Day of the Dragon King transports the reader into a period of Chinese history when the first emperor conquered and consolidated the land into what we now call China. This adventure highlights a well-known Chinese legend, The Silk Weaver and the Cowherd. It also mentions bamboo books, the famous Teracotta soldiers, as well as, the infamous book burning incident. Though not emphasized in the book, this emperor was also responsible for the initial construction of The Great Wall, therefore it was also added to the lesson.

Night of the Ninja transports the reader into historical Japan where ninjas and samurai feud.  This book has a strong emphasis on nature and respect, however it is light on historical and cultural events.

Below is a list (with links) to the activities we completed in our exploration of China and Japan.


T-shirt Ninja

Activities for China

  • Rice hats (craft)
  • Pandas lapbook
  • Legend of the Silk Weaver
  • Terracotta Warriors
    • create warriors (animal/human/other) out of clay
    • provide historical facts on these warriors
    • introduce a discussion of symbolism (strength/protection…etc)
  • Lapbook for China
  • Books Burning lesson (mini lesson and worksheets)
    • introduce a discussion on censorship
    • ask students to name all the places they have books or read books
  • Great Wall lesson (mini lesson and worksheets)
    • introduce a discussion on forced labor (see this resource)
    • construct a wall using items such as sugar cubes, blocks, foam etc.
  • Bamboo books (craft)
    • introduce a discussion on paper (a Chinese invention) and pre-paper
  • Paint a Character
    • introduce a discussion on the differences between our Roman alphabet and a character based alphabet (also in Japanese)

Activities for Japan

  • Ninja face (activity)
    • introduce a discussion on who the ninja (and samurai) were
    • the book emphasizes nature and respect, incorporate those elements (be a log, be a rock etc.)
  • Ninja moves (Create movements based on these principles. For example walking like a fox on the tips of your fingers.)
  • Create a Haiku
  • Kimono  (craft)
    • introduce a discussion on cultural dress
  • Create a Carp kite
  • bamboo-bookMusic (utilize the internet or local library)
    • compare the sound or style of music to what the students commonly listen to
  • Tea and Sushi Party
    • introduce Japanese customs (take off shoes, bow, sit on floor, use chopsticks….)

Additional Resources

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Worldschooling {from home}

Worldschooling is literally learning from the world.

Globetrotting WOULD be a wonderful way to explore our world. However, if you’re like my little middle class family, traveling is limited to the next town 80 miles down the road. learning-928638_1920

However, I am fascinated by people and other cultures and I want my kids to have this appreciation too. It’s this desire that led me to explore and create a Little World Traveler club. We literally travel the world without leaving home (okay we DO physically leave, but stay within our city limits).

Let me share an easy way to “worldschool” with a library card and creativity.

Are you familiar with the children’s series Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne? I wasn’t either until a few months ago.  Our Little World Traveler club decided to use these books as a spine or launching point to travel the world (and history). These short books are readily available at your local bookstore and library. Each book takes the reader on an adventure to another country (and sometimes, period in history). The main characters, brother and sister team-  Jack and Annie, try to solve a mystery while encountering and overcoming obstacles related to the country they’re in or period of history.

How to use Magic Treehouse  books to explore a country

  • Choose a book

  • Read the book

    • We chose to read the book outside of class so each student could read at his/her own pace.
  • Discuss the book

    • Choose one date for the book to be completed
    • During this date discuss the adventure in the book
    • Ask the students for feedback on their favorite/least favorite parts
      • Extension activities-
        • Discuss the story elements (beginning, climax, resolution etc)
        • Ask students how they might change the ending (or other part) of the story
  • Choose activities (Let the story be your guide)

    • Think beyond worksheets, be creative

It’s really that simple. See this post for a detailed peak into our worldschool of China and Japan.

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Uncomplicated Christmas

In the hustle and bustle of this joyous season I choose….


Complicated brings stress…. stress removes joy.                                                   Uncomplicated, simple, focused….joy….

Christ Jesus 

He was born of a virgin….in a stable….with animals….

The angels sang their glorious Hallelujbirth-of-jesus-1150128_1280ah chorus in the sky…. the shepherds were amazed….

The three wise men journeyed from lands far away….escaping peril…..trusting the light in the sky…..

Worship. Bow down. Christ our Savior is born. Uncomplicated.

He came to wash our hearts white. He came to love the un-lovable. He came to cherish the un-cherished. He came to empower. He came.

….and for that I am truly grateful…..

He is King, Immanuel, Redeemer, Savior, Son of the Most High, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of the Jews, Christ, Lord of lords, King of kings….. He is…Jesus.


Thankful Kid Activities

Dare I say Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. After all, don’t we all have SOMEthing to be thankful for?  As we head into a week of Thanksgiving festivities  I’ve taken a moment to outline what our homeschool  has done already and will be doing throughout this holiday week. vintage-1772596_1280

As I was digging through the craft cabinet in search of an item  I stumbled on a few packages of orange craft pumpkins purchased for pennies the day after Thanksgiving last year. I’d forgotten all about them (can you relate?). We decided to make thankful pumpkins with our newly found treasures. Each child wrote one word to represent an item they were thankful for then we taped them to the wall for all to see. This year  the whole crew is thankful for our dogs. 🙂

Next on our list is a wonderful book Cranberry Thanksgivingcranberry-thanksgiving-cover. This reprint from 1971 should be a staple in Thanksgiving reading.  Grandmother and granddaughter Maggie invite two special guests to dinner.  This classic “don’t judge a book (or person) by its cover” is filled with humor and colorful illustrations and bonus recipes in the back of the book. I’ll use some follow-up lessons to this book from Five In a Row curriculum. 

As a followup to Cranberry Thanksgiving we’ll be baking cranberry bread this week. This is always a treat for my kids. I let them measure and mix all the ingredients (while keeping a close eye).  We’ll also take some time to explore, via the internet, cranberry bogs. 

Finally, the original historical Thanksgiving story is always worth remembering. This year I found a book from the library to read with my kids. Additionally we will watch a few YouTube clips as told by Plymouth Rock and historical lesson by Free School .

Do you need some Thanksgiving inspired activities and worksheets? Be sure to visit my store Explore Time to download your FREE Thanksgiving printables (see links below). 


Free Worksheets for Thanksgiving   and Free Thanksgiving Math Worksheets

A Random Day in Our Homeschool

So what’s it like to be a homeschooling family? Well we’re all so very different with different family dynamics. There’s no right or wrong way to arrange your homeschool.

Here’s a glimpse of my day today. Hopefully you can find the humor in the day-to-day shenanigans of a 7, 5 and 2 year old.

Today the first sound I heard outside my still-closed-eyes was a child asking for something (I can’t recall now) to which I replied something to the effect of ‘seriously, why are you asking me this right now?!’ When I did finally emerge from my slumber  I stumbled around to the kitchen remembering that my coffee was all gone. I’d have to use back-up coffee. Oh well. Better than nothing. I sit down with said coffee and immediately regret the placement of my coffee as I dive to save it from a near spill. Yes, the children are climbing on the coffee table. By 9:30, my now cold coffee and I figure we’d better get the day started if we are going to accomplish any schooling. See that’s the thing, you have to dig deep some days and find self motivation to school (Magic School Bus day anyone?).

It’s now 10 am. My eldest is working on a coloring project that is actually a project for our co-op tomorrow. It’s really taking way too long, but hey he’s into it so I give him 20 more minutes. I get my 5 year old started on her ABC book. We’ve gathered copious worksheets from workbooks and online and put them alphabetically in a 1.5″ binder. I gathpencil-918449_1920er all our other curriculum and bring it to the dining room table, aka our school. I check on my daughter, she’s using yellow marker to practice her letter “E”.  Which reminds me…I forgot to get out the pencils.

It’s now 10:30. Pencils are at the table.  I tell my eldest it’s time, for real, to switch to reading. He gladly complies. He reads a story about the night sky (perfect timing for the super moon… I mentally note that we should further explore this…). He completes his story….after pausing half a dozen times to insert additional facts that the book didn’t include (did I mention this guy is a science nut?). My 5 year old also completes her work. They both work on a follow-up picture and corresponding sentence to the story. Then, 2 year old brother, arrives on the scene (apparently he was playing quietly somewehere). He decides (read,starts yelling) he needs to be involved, so I bring out some puzzles. He’s not interested.

My stomach growls and I remember that I haven’t eaten. I dash into the kitchen and make a protein smoothie. My 2 year old is hot on my heels. He demands his share of the smoothie. I comply. Smoothie in hand, I go out to see the progress of the little artists. There is immediately too much interest in my breakfast instead of school, but I hold firm. If I share there will be nothing left. They whine, but continue working.

Around 11 we switch to math. My 5 year old is super proud of her number writing.I am too, however I note a problem. Her numbers are perfectly backward, so I remind her to look at her number chart and try rewritinpeople-316506_1280.jpgg them. A battle-of-wills ensues, complete with tears. I know the importance of practice makes perfect. I don’t back down, BUT I do change tactics. I scoop flour onto a cookie sheet and present it to her. I’m repaid with smiles. It works and she begins working on her numbers in the flour…with much success. My 2 year old is now done with his smoothie and wants his own flour.

At noon my dining room looks like a flour bomb exploded. It’s time for lunch, a good time to curtail the mess.  I tell the kids to clean up. I sneak into the kitchen to finish loading the dishwasher and make a frozen pizza. Of course before we can eat I clean off the flour tornado and clear off all the school books.

1p.m. lunch is done and our friends come to visit for a mini science lesson. We learn about volcanoes and complete a science experiment making explosions (okay, more like big fizzing bubbles, but still fun). We are finished by 2p.m. The kids take a break and play in the beautiful November weather building a fort in the front yard.

Our friends leave at 2:30 and I’m in dire need of a good cup of coffeecoffee-mugs-1727048_1920.jpg. I load up the kiddos ,sans the shoes, and we drive off to my favorite coffee place.  That is our school day in a nutshell. The rest of the afternoon was spent on switching laundry, paying bills and working on details for tomorrow’s co-op.  Insert a few tantrums MANY more messes than I took the time to describe (seriously, I’m throwing away the kinetic sand) and you get a good idea of the day. And now it’s 10pm at night and I must rest. Tomorrow we’ll do it all over again!

We cover math and english/reading most days and we rotate through science, history, geography. Right now we are ecectic in style, but I imagine that will also change as we progress and needs change.

What does a day in your homeschool look like?

{P.S. I don’t think this day accurately describes the caffeine intake of my typical day. Caffiene is a must in this home. 😉 }



Censorship {don’t let the books burn}

 I’ll be the first to admit…book-1659717_1920

I can’t imagine life without books. Perhaps one might even say I have an addiction to books. {Is there such a thing?  I mean, how can you read TOO MUCH? I guess you should be the judge.}

Every room in my house has books. Shelves of books, cabinets of books, baskets of books, books under the bed and tossed in the closet, books in bags and in the car. Books are everywhere. Lest we forget the advent of technology it must be mentioned too, Ebooks.  Books on the tablet, books on the Kindle and books on the PC…Ebooks everywhere! Needless to say I love my books. It’s not just me either, my entire family loves books. So I find the following glimpse of history hard to digest. I can’t imagine the horror, the shock, the sadness of watching all those beautiful books destroyed by flames.

The day the books burned.

The Invite reads, “Bonfire tomorrow. Bring all books. Attendance mandatory.”

You release a shaky breath that you didn’t realize you were holding. Your mind is racing, your body is frozen in fear. What does this mean for the Chinese people?  Is there any way to hide your books? What if you’re found out? No, you can’t think about that, you must not. You feel a chill slither down your spine. You know what is about to happen will change history.

Gather them all. Load up every book, manual, essay, novel, pamphlet, text-book, publication. Everything.  Bring it to the bonfire, your very life depends on it.  If you’re found withholding these forbidden treasures you too will be burned! 

THAT is a true story, a story from the very pages of history 2,000 years ago (okay, I took some dramatic license, but the event is true).

This atrocityfire-1781828_1280 would transpire during the reign of China’s, self titled, First Emperor. Like many tyrants throughout history he believed his way to be superior, his beliefs supreme and therefore absolute. What else could he do but implement force his people to believe the same. In a time before television, radio and internet there were books. Books of many ideas and philosophies that did NOT align with the emperor. To remedy the situation this emperor ordered EVERY SINGLE BOOK (not approved by his government) to be burned.  It’s said those that refused to comply paid with their lives.  

The blessing of a free society.

As a society of free thinkers we embrace books of every kind. It’s the blessing of a free society, one that I’d venture to say is taken for granted until we don’t have it. Take a minute and reflect. What do books mean to you?

To my son, books are knowledge. This beginner reader is thrilled that he can absorb fact after fact in his daily consumption of adult level science books. When he learns a new fact it must be shared with all willing and non willing participants. 🙂

To my daughter, a pre-reader, books are adventure. Bring on the glitter, unicorns and all things imaginary. She becomes entranced in the story, the emotion, the imagination of it all. This child sleeps surrounded by books. I frequently find them under her blankets and pillows.

To me, books are an escape. Books transplant me to another life, another time. I can empathize with the characters. They inspire hope and a thirst for more. They offer a view I hadn’t considered or challenge me to be better.

Is it worth your life?

So you see I cannot imagine a life without books. Here’s the real question, one that ancient Chinese citizens had to face, is it worth your life to save the books? It’s a question we (yes, the free society) must ask because it’s bigger than books.  It IS about choice. It IS about freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom from government intrusion. We must embrace the freedom, protect the freedomdon’t let the “books” burn. That, my friends, is what I taught my kids about the Day the Books Burned.

(Share this important lesson on censorship  with your kids. Check out The Day the Books Burned ,mini lesson and worksheets, in my store).


Book Burning and Censorship

Great Appreciation

Every week I load up my kiddos and we head over to our co-op/club. I really enjoy this club, perhaps more than my kids (slight exaggeration, maybe). Our club is all about traveling and it would be fair to say I have a bit of wanderlust. As a teenager I dreamed of being a missionary to the depths of the Amazon and caring for orphans in remote African villages. One day I will fulfill those dreams, but since life currently calls me to be a stay at home-homeschooling mama I embrace travel via a travel club. We call ourselves Little World Travelers (see how I included myself as one of the participants 🙂 ).

Thus far we’ve journeyed into Africa to meet the silverback gorillas and the Maasai tribe and most recently we’ve journeyed to China or more accurately ancient China. And that’s where I want to park this post so-to-speak.

As an adult in her 30’s I’m always learning along with my kids. I was fascinated as we journeyed with The Magic Treehouse, Day of the Dragon King into ancient China. It was this first emperor of China who began work (by ordering a million of his citizens to leave their homes) on The Great Wall of China.  As I dug into what it would’ve been like to be a Great Wall laborer I couldn’t help but appreciate the sacrifice these people made for their country.

     People traveled for weeks to get to the northern border of China where the wall was to be built. Therefore camps were set up set up for the workers to live. However they  were poorly constructed and didn’t keep out the cold, rain or snow. Workers didn’t have blankets or beds either and     many slept outside on the cold ground. Conditions were very poor as there wasn’t clean water available, toilet  facilities or much food. Workers would receive something small like a bowl of rice and boiled cabbage… if they were lucky. Often they only had their own two hands as tools for         building the wall. Workers literally worked themselves to death as evidenced by the human remains archeologists have discovered inside the wall.  

History has a great way of putting my first world “hardships” in perspective. After all, I could live in ancient China. For more on what is was like to live in ancient China check out these mini lessons and worksheets at my store Explore Time on Teachers Pay Teachers.



The Great Wall of China            {mini lesson}


Book Burning and Censorship


Hi there! My name is Jenny, a stay at home mom with many hobbies including a passion for teaching my children through exploration– thus Explore Time Homeschool. Journey with us as we explore the world around us. If you’re like me you’ll learn many new things along the way. After all, we’re never too old to be learning.