Friday, September 20, 2013

Disney World Curriculum - Day 5 - Africa and Additional Ideas

Today was our last day of the Disney World curriculum.  We focused on the one remaining (and, my personal favorite) country in World Showcase: Morocco.  Since Morocco is in Africa, we thought it would be a great time to learn about some of the animals at Animal Kingdom. 


  • National Geographic DVD: Swinging Safari 
  • National Geographic Little Kids book: African Animal Alphabet by: Beverly and Dereck Joubert
  • Water for One, Water for Everyone by: Stephen R. Swinburne
  • We All Went on Safari by: Laurie Krebs


  • The Children of Morocco by: Jules Hermes
  • The Storytellers by: Ted Lewin
  • Mirror by: Jeannie Baker (this one was really neat - it compares the lives of a family in Australia to a family in Morocco)
  • We also watched Aladdin - partly because it was helpful so that I could get some work done
  • We tried mint tea - you would've thought that I tried to poison X-Man (and I wish I would've had the event recorded!)
We did a few other things today too - I looked up some info on the architecture and landmarks at World Showcase.  I look forward to being able to share information on the martyrdom of St. George in Germany, and the church in Norway, I think they'll enjoy trying to figure out which totem pole is the real one in Canada, and seeing the Terracotta Army in China.  I think our preparation is going to make Epcot much more enjoyable for them this time around.

We've also been listening to Disney music as we rented a few CDs from our library.

Additional Ideas

We decided to skim a lot of information this week.  I think when they're older, I'd love to go back to Disney after a more intensive curriculum.  Here's some additional ideas that we just didn't get time to do:

  • practicing with money
  • time (keeping track for shows, etc)
  • reading the non-Disney versions of fairy tales and comparing them to Disney versions
  • write a new ending to a fairy tale
  • write a new fairy tale
  • write a dialogue between two characters from two different stories
  • practicing reading maps
  • looking for spiritual applications in movies/stories
  • creating packing lists
  • creating foods from various countries
  • physics and magnetism - how rides work
We have packing lists ready and our house sitter in place.  We're getting pretty excited and can hardly wait to get there!  In the next few weeks, I hope to add additional information and tell you all about our trip.

Thanks for reading -  "See ya real soon!"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Disney World Curriculum - Day 4 - Asia and Ocean Life

Wow, isn't it amazing how quickly time flies when you're busy?  I'm so glad that we decided to take a break from our regular curriculum this week.  It's given me more time to prep for our trip (which, somehow, there's still so much more to buy/do/plan than what we've already completed) and learn new things to prepare us for our trip.

You'll notice that almost all of our curriculum has been based around World Showcase, and there's a reason for that.  The least stimulating parts (for young children) of WDW include World Showcase and Animal Kingdom (more on that tomorrow).

So, today, we focused on China, Japan, and Ocean Life (Epcot's aquarium is pretty cool!).

We started in Japan.


  • National Geographic Website
  • Japan by: David F. Marx
  • We also had rice for lunch, tea with our snack, and talked about Hello Kitty (Little Lou's favorite!), also, since Japan is an island nation, we decided that it would be a good intro to ocean life.

Ocean Life

  • Ocean by: Cassie Mayer
  • Coral Reef - this book mysteriously went missing as I was typing this
  • Tell Time with Turtles by: Melissa McDonnell
  • Out and About at the Aquarium by: Amy Rechner


  • National Geographic Website
  • Postcards from China by: Zoe Dawson
  • Chinese New Year by: Nancy Dickmann
  • The Emperor's Silent Army by: Jane O'Connor (we looked at the pictures and discussed each one)
  • Watched Mulan - prior to our last trip, I hadn't ever seen this movie - I was really missing out.  Mulan has a wonderful message about loyalty, friendship, and bravery.  Plus, it empowers women, which I think is refreshing.
Over the past few days, we've also done a few supplemental (FUN!) activities.  We've gone on long walks to prepare them for the walking they'll be doing, we've played "Just Dance: Disney" as PE, we've talked about our must-see attractions, we've worked on reading maps, made some iron-on shirts for our trip, and we've watched some videos (only a few).

Tomorrow, we'll be learning about Morocco and African animals (AK safari!).  Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Disney World Curriculum - Day 3 - Norway and England

I think today was my favorite day of our Disney World lessons so far.  I learned quite a bit about England (it's embarrassing how much I didn't know).  I also realized just how gorgeous Norway must be (though, COLD!).  You'll notice we didn't have an art lesson to go along with today's countries.  That is because a month or so ago, I signed them up for a two hour art and creativity class for this afternoon.  There wasn't time or energy today.  Tomorrow is a new day though!


  • National Geographic Website
  • England By: Kay Melchisedech Olson - mostly skimmed this one
  • A to Z England  By: Byron and Rebecca A. Augustin
  • Postcards From Great Britain By: Helen Arnold (this one was one of my favorites!)
  • Skimmed through National Geographic Kids: Everything Castles By: Crispin Boyer
  • We talked about a few words that differ in American English from British English (loo vs toilet, trainers vs. sneakers, sweets vs. candies, etc.)
  • We talked about characters from England, including: Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Pongo and Perdita and others from 101 Dalmations, Mary Poppins, and Alice


  • National Geographic Website
  • A Primary Source Guide to Norway By: Elizabeth Rose
  • Norway By: Elaine Landau
  • Three Billy Goats Gruff - many Norwegian stories a centered around trolls, so we thought this would be a good additon
  • Last week in our normal homeschool curriculum, we also discussed vikings, so we talked about that for a few minutes today too

 I do hope you'll check out the National Geographic Website - the videos they post are about things that aren't typically covered in traditional kids books, which I think is refreshing.  There are also breathtaking photos (especially the one of the Northern Lights in Norway).

Tomorrow, (I think) we'll focus on Asia.  Or Morocco...  I guess you'll have to remain in suspense until then!

Disney World Curriculum - Day 2 - Europe (Italy, Germany, France)

Yesterday was a pretty busy day, which is part of the reason I am just now posting this.  Epcot World Showcase has five European countries, which I thought was too many for one day.  We chose to focus on just three.  Here's what we did yesterday:


  • National Geographic Website - this is a wonderful resource (since we just found out about it yesterday, we also looked up the countries we learned about on day 1).  There's photos, facts, maps, and videos about several countries.
  • Find Out About Italy By: Patricia Borlenghi
  • Michaelangelo By: Diane Stanley - we mostly skimmed through this, but enjoyed looking at his work.
  • We also talked about Pinocchio being from Italy.


  •  National Geographic Website
  • A Look at Germany By: Helen Frost
  • We talked about how Snow White is from Germany (at least in World Showcase!)
  • I learned that many composers are from Germany - Beethoven, Bach, Brahams, Schumann, and Wagner just to name a few.  So, we listened to a few songs:
    • Brahms Lullaby
    • Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata 


  • National Geographic Website 
  • Find Out About France by: Duncan Crosbie
  • We talked about which Disney characters are from France, including Belle and the Beast, Aurora, The Aristocats, Remy and others from Ratatouille

Europe - Art

For an art lesson, I had them decide which country's flag they would like to make.  Since all three of these countries have simple designs, I thought it would be good cutting and pasting practice.  Little Lou chose Italy, and X-Man chose France.

Stay tuned.  Our next blog post will be about England and Norway.  We're getting so excited for out trip, and learning about the various countries is making it even more exciting! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Disney World Curriculum - Day 1 - North America

Next week, we'll be in my favorite place, THE Walt Disney World Resort!  We're so very excited, and since we are homeschooling, we really want to make the trip as academically rich as possible.  We've decided to take a break from our normal curriculum this week and instead focus our studies on subjects and themes that can be enriched by our experiences at WDW.

I've had a hard time finding Disney lesson plans from other homeschoolers, so I thought I'd post our resources here in case it would help another family.

Today we began in North America (or, at least, the North American countries represented in World Showcase).

North America

  • We Live in North America By: Susan Ring
  • Famous Places of the Word, North America By: Helen Bateman and Jayne Denshire (we kind of skimmed this one)

1 - Mexico

  • History/Geography
    • Mexico By: David F. Marx
    • 1, 2, 3 Suddenly in Mexico: The Protective Jaguar By: Cristina Falcon Maldonado (this may be my new favorite (geographically, historically rich) book series
    • Mexico's Great Pyramids - National Geographic DVD (we only watched 15-20 minutes of this as it was a little dry and talked about human sacrifice (Mexico in World Showcase looks like a Mayan Pyramid)
  • Fine Motor
    • Lego pyramid

2 - Canada

  • History/Geography
    • Canada By: David F. Marx
    • Niagara Falls By: Sarah De Capua
    • Totem Poles By: Jennifer Frantz (Two faux and one real totem pole in World Showcase)
  • Fine Motor/Art 
    • Stamped totem poles onto construction paper

3 - The United States

  • History/Geography
    • America the Beautiful - A Scholastic book
    • Florida By: Carmen Bredeson
    • Celebrating Florida By: Marion Dane Bauer

    • Landmarks
      • The White House By: Susan Ashley
      • Visit Independence Hall By: Alexander Wood (Hall of Presidents is modeled after this)
      • The Liberty Bell By: Nancy Harris (Replica in Liberty Square)
    • Biographies
      • Mark Twain By: David and Patricia Armentrout (Co-host of American Adventure, also, ties to Tom Sawyer Island)
      • The Life of Ben Franklin By: Maria Nelson (Co-host of American Adventure)
      • Walt Disney By: Joanne Mattern 
      • Read About Walt Disney By: Stephen Feinstein
    • Literature
      • Tiny Dreams, Sprouting Tall: Poems about the United States By: Laura Purdie Salas 
      • Brer Rabbit Down the Well Retold by: Louie Stowell (Br'er Rabbit is the main character of my favorite ride - Splash Mountain)
      •  Br'er Rabbit Caputred! By: Jean Cassels
      • Meet Me in the Magic Kingdom By: Kathy Jakobsen
    • Art
      • Created Hidden Mickey's by reusing recyclables
        Please check back tomorrow for day two of our Disney World curriculum.  Thanks for stopping by!

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    Ten Years Ago I Was So Wrong...

    This year (in November) marks ten years since Ben and I got married.  There's certain moments in your life, that seem as though they just happened yesterday; and for me, walking down the aisle is definitely one of them.

    For some background, Ben and I had known each other for three months before we were engaged, and only eleven months before we were married.  I was nineteen and I thought I knew everything.

    Walking down the aisle, I remember being so happy, excited, and hopeful.  I thought at that moment (as several of our cheesy centerpieces stated) that love was all we would ever need.  I thought life would be easy, that we wouldn't ever argue, we'd spend every moment together, and that each day would be better than the last.  I thought I loved him more than I could ever love anyone.

    And, I was mostly wrong.

    We had a wonderful honeymoon.  After having a long distance relationship, every moment we were together was cherished.  While out one evening, a staff member at an attraction asked us if we were on our honeymoon - she said it was obvious that we were newlyweds.  I giggled, smiled, and blushed constantly.   Every second we were together, every time he touched me, I had butterflies.

    After our honeymoon, life wasn't all butterflies.
    Within seven months, my Grandma was diagnosed with cancer.  Within a month of her diagnosis, we said goodbye to her.  It was the most difficult thing I had ever been through.  I cried constantly.  Life wasn't easy.

    Within our first two years of marriage, there were three deaths in our family.  It still wasn't easy.

    We fought about everything.  From religion, to politics, to household chores, to where we wanted to go out to eat, it was a constant battle.  It wasn't easy.  We argued.

    We didn't want to spend every second together.   

    We had a very sweet baby boy.  It was the greatest moment we had experienced (and he still is such a huge blessing to us).  We were shocked to find out about his clubfeet.  I entered one of the darkest times of my life.  We went to weekly castings, and sat together while he had surgeries.  It wasn't easy.

    We were blessed with a precious little girl.  She was (and still is) lovely and wonderful; but I was terrified that I would go back to the dark place.  I felt overwhelmed - It wasn't easy.

    It wasn't what I expected.  I thought we'd always be in the honeymoon phase. I thought we'd never argue.  I thought we'd only experience good news.  I was so wrong.  But I am so glad that I was.

    Once the butterfly feeling wasn't constant, we worked harder on our marriage.  We prayed together.  We prayed for each other.  We got involved in ministry together.  We started cultivating a much deeper love.  I liken it to a tree, over years the roots grow deeper and deeper.  The roots become entangled, inseparable.  One. 

    We constantly communicate.  We don't agree about everything, but we know where the other one stands on nearly everything.  We've both changed and have become more compassionate.  And I love that when my heart isn't where it should be, that he lovingly tells me.  He holds me accountable and helps me be a better person. 

    When life was hard, he was so supportive.  He never once made me feel guilty about spending every weekend in my hometown to be with my Grandma.  He drove me back and forth every weekend.  He never whined about getting home late on Sundays (I cried half the way home every week) and waking early for work on Mondays.  He didn't complain that he didn't get to hang out with his friends on the weekends.  He stayed by my side. 

    When I was in my dark place, he never let me know that he was struggling too.  He was what kept us going.  He was our strength, our backbone.  When I was at my weakest, he picked me up and held me up.  Years later, when I suggested driving back and forth to Iowa for our son's clubfoot treatment, (ten hours each way), he never looked at me like I was crazy.  He helped me pack, took off work, and we went together.  It ended up being some of the richest, most memorable times in our lives.  

    When I was afraid of being a mother of two children under the age of two (and returning to my dark place), he reassured me that it would be okay. Having our sweet daughter ended up being anything but dark.  It was beautiful and wonderful.  He took off work for half the month to help me.   He spent so much time taking care of me, our son, and our home so that I could focus on caring for our newborn.

    When I told him that I wanted to homeschool our children, he helped me gain enough faith to try it.  He has fully supported me in our curriculum choices (regardless of cost).  He is confident in me even when I'm not. He constantly reassures me that I am enough.

    He encourages me to have girls nights.  He encourages me to take breaks and get out of the house.  And I need that.

    When I walked down the aisle, I thought I would never be able to love anyone more than I did in that moment.  And I was wrong.  I love him so much more than I did then.  And I know that I'll love him more in ten years still. 

    He has supported me, forgiven me, encouraged me, lifted me, led me, and loved me.  Deeper than the ocean, unconditional, indestructible loved me.  I was right about one thing on my wedding day - with that kinda love, love is all we need.