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Container Gardening for Homeschool Science?

Container Gardening for Homeschool Science?

Time began in a garden, which makes it the perfect homeschool science. It’s a ready-made object lesson!
God created plants of all different species and kinds. He replenishes us like a garden sprouting from the desert.

When our mustard seed-sized faith grows, it’s a tree so large the birds nest in it.

The Bible even tells us to plant a garden.

And then, there’s the biggest lesson — sowing and reaping. Every homeschool mom must know that one by heart.

“… A man reaps what he sows.

Galations 6:7-8

With all of that in mind, why not try your hand at gardening?

Not Enough Space? Try Container Gardening!

It’s spring and everyone in the homeschool world is planting a garden because gardening is such a great way to learn about plants.

If you don’t have a plot of earth accessible for a garden, try container gardening. It’s easy. You only need some little pots, buckets, or containers,

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Grow Tomatoes in a 5-Gallon Bucket

Drill holes in the bottom for drainage, before you fill the bucket with soil. Plant one tomato plant per bucket. Use a stake in the middle to support the plant.

You can also grow cucumbers, melons, squash, beans, onions, lettuce, and carrots in buckets.

Grow Herbs in Your Kitchen Windowsill

Use tiny little pots or containers to grow herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano, basil, parsley, chives, and mint. Your kitchen will smell heavenly! The key is plenty of sunlight.

To start your herbs, fill pots with moist seed-starting mix ¾ full. Sprinkle 4-5 seeds on top, cover and pat gently. Cover with a plastic bag to keep moisture inside until seedlings poke through. Remove plastic and continue watering the little plants on your sunny windowsill. 

Grow Flowers in Hanging Baskets

Flowers are lovely in hanging baskets on a porch, patio, or balcony. They brighten up the day for anyone walking by who can see them.

You can also grow tomatoes and strawberries in a hanging basket. Or try herbs like parsley, thyme, and mint.

Little children love learning about plants. In fact, science is fascinating, especially if they have a fun class like Science Exploration A (K-3) and Science Exploration B (4-6) where children learn about plants from the top of the mountains to the bottom of the seas.   

3 Secrets to Raise Motivated Leaders in Your Homeschool

3 Secrets to Raise Motivated Leaders in Your Homeschool

Did you ever think that you are the answer to the world’s leadership crisis? Yes, you! You can change the world by raising motivated leaders in your home school.

At every age, these secrets work to build leaders.

Secret #1: Integrity Matters

Beyond punishment for dishonesty, reward your children when they are honest, singing their praises. When they do the right thing, shout it from the housetops so they know you are proud of them. Make it more important in your eyes than a home run or a great test score. Value integrity and model for your kids that it is a value worth living!

Secret #2: Leaders are Motivated Learners

Provide opportunities for your sons and daughters to pursue learning about things that delight their hearts. If your son loves archery, do a unit study on the Middle Ages. If your daughter loves horses, let her science class be an independent study on horses and how to care for them.

Model enthusiasm for learning by reading and researching. Let your kids know you love to learn.

Secret #3: Leaders Lead

Give your children and teens opportunities to lead. They don’t have to plan the family vacation on their own, but they could plan family night once a month or choose what color to paint the bathroom.

Give them access to the decision-making protocol in your house. Let them have a voice and participate in the final direction your family takes—at least once in a while.

Cultivate a heart for others, especially younger children, the elderly, and those less fortunate. When your family is observant—seeing needs and taking positive steps to meet them, you are also cultivating that heart in your children year after year.

Leaders lead because they care about others. When my daughter realized a homeschool dad who was going back for his degree needed help with College Algebra, she offered to tutor him. She saw a need and met the need.

Logical thinking is a great tool for your future leaders. True North offers Formal Logic focused on the structural validity of arguments and Informal Logic where students study and master 29 logical fallacies. These high school courses are great options for your future leader.

5 Reasons to Trust God with Your Homescool

5 Reasons to Trust God with Your Homescool

Homeschool parents find themselves making hard decisions that have far-reaching consequences. Then there are all the “tiny decisions”: should I let him borrow the car to drive his friends? Should I have him take life skills or a foreign language? Is my child ready for (fill in the blank)?

How often do we wish someone else was the decision-maker who would make perfect and wise decisions all the time!

God has positioned us to need His help in our childrearing and homeschooling desperately. As parents, we raise our children to be independent, but our Heavenly Father raises us in the faith to be more and more dependent on Him as we grow in the Lord.

So, next time you feel helpless when confronted with a decision or challenge, realize that God is growing you in your faith to trust Him more and rely on Him more. His Word is such a precious part of this process. His Word is our daily source of wisdom and our faith-builder.

Promises

When you feel alone, and you wonder why on earth you ever had children, remember that God has given you His very great and precious promises for two reasons:

  1.     Live a godly life/Participate in His divine nature (goodness, joy, peace, love, etc.)
  2.     Escape the corruption of the world

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him, who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (I Peter 1:3-5 NASB).

We need to remind ourselves of the promises of God. When I feel like a failure, I remind myself that God has begun a good work in me and is carrying that work on until it’s complete (Philippians 1:6) and that if I abide in Him, He will produce good fruit in me (John 15).

I write the promises of God down and cards and post them on the bathroom mirror, inside kitchen cupboards, and tucked inside my purse. God’s promises aren’t just true for me—they are true for you, too.

When we feel scared, He will take care of us. (Psalm 91)

When we feel alone, He is with us. (Isaiah 43:2)

When we worry about our children, He promises to teach our children (Isaiah 54:13)

 

When we feel like we are not good enough, He reminds us that He lives in us and through us (Galatians 2:20)

When we blow it, He promises to forgive us and sanctify us (I John 1:9-10)

And when we lack wisdom.

Wisdom

When you can’t figure out whether you should let your daughter stay out past midnight, remember this promise:

 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5 NASB).

God provides wisdom when we ask. Often, we will find as we are reading the Scriptures, truth jumps out at us—the exact answer to the questions we are asking!

You see, we face challenging choices every day. So next time you need wisdom—STOP! And ask for it.

The Word of God also shows us what to do and say in the middle of challenging times.

Counsel

Pretend you are in a conversation with your son who is talking crazy, and you have a 4-minute lecture ready.

Suddenly this verse comes to mind: Now everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:19 NASB). You just read it this morning.

Instead of lecturing, you take a deep breath and ask a question to draw out your son’s thoughts and feelings. While you know, he is still talking a lot of foolishness, and you begin to listen to his heart and uncover what is going on behind his wild ideas. What you learn surprises you as compassion replaces anger in your heart. Your son is struggling.

It is not easy to parent, and we need constant counsel from God’s Truth. That is one reason that reading God’s Word every day is a priority in my life!

Revelation

Pretend you feel inadequate and alone as a parent when you find yourself reading in Luke several days. You enjoy reading about Jesus, his teachings, his miracles, and his relationship with his disciples.

Suddenly, you realize that Jesus understands you. He traveled with a group of people who argued, complained, and just didn’t get it sometimes, even after Jesus explained things over and over again.

Reading the Bible reveals who Jesus is and how great His love for us is.   

Often when I am reading the Bible, I find myself saying, “Wow! I never saw that before!” That amazes me because I have read the Bible almost daily since 1979. Yet, it is always fresh and new. That is because the Bible is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword—it cuts through the muck to the deep places in my heart.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NASB).

The Bible just doesn’t inform me, so I grow in knowledge; it also transforms me to become more like Jesus.

A Mirror

One day, I tried to fix a shirt, and I couldn’t get it to fall right. A quick look in the mirror revealed that I had buttoned my shirt incorrectly, completely missing one button that was hard to see. A bit of time in God’s Word can be like a mirror. It reveals where and what you need to adjust in your heart, life, schedule, and relationships.

I can’t just read Scripture and not do anything about it. I have to respond. I have to put feet to my faith. If it’s a promise, I have to believe it. If it’s a command, I have to obey it.

The Bible reminds us of who God is and who we are in Christ. I love looking into the law of liberty to learn that I am free from the power of sin, filled with His Spirit, and He is producing fruit in me (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control).

But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:22-25 NASB).  

 

When Things Are Hard

 

What if you are so tired of doing everything right and having everything go wrong? What if those who ignore God seem to prosper, and you seem to suffer and struggle?

Let me address this.

First of all, walking with God is a marathon, not a sprint. Maintain a bird’s-eye perspective of your life on earth and as it stretches out into eternity. Every light and momentary trial we go through achieves an eternal purpose that far outweighs every hardship we suffer.

Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (II Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB).

Second, we live in a fallen world. Jesus promised that we would have trials in this life but reminded us that He has overcome the world. Cling to Him through trials.

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NASB).

Lastly, I would encourage you to read Psalm 37—the entire psalm—David addresses this very thing.

Do not fret because of evildoers,

Be not envious of wrongdoers.

For they will wither quickly like the grass

And fade like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord and do good;

Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the Lord;

And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

He will bring forth your righteousness as the light

And your judgment as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:1-7 NASB).

 

As we begin a new year, let’s cling to the promise of God, receive His counsel, learn more about who He is, and see who we are—by getting into His Word every day for His daily dose of wisdom.

Spending time in God’s Word each day—even just five minutes—will change you and keep changing you!

Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!

Warmly,

Meredith Curtis

A Birthday Celebration Fit for A King

A Birthday Celebration Fit for A King

Christmas is a birthday. Not just any birthday; Christmas is a King’s birthday.

As this was stirring in my soul, I decided to research how nations celebrate their sovereign’s birthday. So, let’s look at how countries with a King, or Queen, celebrate their birthdays.

King’s Day in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Koningsdag, or King’s Day, is celebrated on King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, April 27. King’s Day is a national holiday. Stores close down. People celebrate with parties, parades, concerts, and all kinds of festivities. The king and his family join the people in their celebrating.

The people take to the streets, along with the royal family, and paint the town orange! Since the king is a member of the House of Orange, everyone wears orange and waves orange flags. Some people even wear orange wigs. Amsterdam’s famous canals are filled with orange as festively decorated boats fill the waterways.

Vendors sell yummy streets and many folks set up a place to sell or trade unwanted items—it’s like a big flea market. As the music plays, people not express love and appreciation to their king, they delight in being Dutch. 

Queen’s Birthday in the UK

In the United Kingdom, the Queen’s Official Birthday is celebrated the second Saturday in June. Until 1936, it was celebrated on the reigning king or queen’s official birthday, but when George V died, it was decided to make the official celebration the second Saturday in June.

That’s good news for the UK because Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is April 21, but the weather is not-so-nice that time of year in England.

Her majesty’s birthday is celebrated with a parade, gun salutes, and a host of festivities. Queen Elizabeth walks around outside of the palace greeting well-wishes. She and her entire family also appear on the balcony at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Air Force flies overhead for the annual airshow. 

Royal Birthday Celebrations

In the Netherlands and England, the people want their monarch to know they are loved, admired, appreciated, and celebrated. It’s a lovely time to be had by all. 

It is also a time to celebrate their heritage, the delight of being Dutch or English.

The birthday celebration is not a private affair, but a time that all come together to honor the head of their nation. Everyone joins in!

Even more special is that the sovereign and royal family mingle with the people in the streets. They are right in the middle of the celebration—they are not far off, but with their people.

With that in mind, let’s celebrate Christmas as a birthday! Here are some ways to keep the birthday person JESUS in mind as we plan celebrations that He enjoys and show him adoration and honor. 

Plan the Celebration

God the Father carefully planned the birth of His Son. He lined up empires and languages. He chose the perfect time for His Son to be born and left little clues (prophecies) about His birth for 4,000 years. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reveals Jesus as the coming Savior and King.

Our Heavenly Father planned the birth party, including who would sing and who would be guests.

He had the angel choirs sing and had both domestic and foreign visitors. The shepherds were local, but the wise men traveled a long distance to see the baby. 

If God went to so much trouble preparing for His initial birth, then shouldn’t we do the same in preparing for His annual birthday celebration?

After all, this annual celebration is more about Him, than even our precious children and spouse. Christmas is His birthday celebration.

When we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, do we remember the Passover meal or the memorial stones near the Jordan River? The Lords often uses symbolism and memorials to help us remember special events. We can plan traditions that remind us of his birth, life, death, and resurrection. Family and church traditions that represent or teach Jesus and His Salvation are a great way to give the Birthday King what He wants. After all, He was born to save us all.

What will draw our hearts and our family’s hearts closer to Jesus this holiday season? Choose the best over the good and mediocre. Schedule in time for rest and reflection. 

Just as the king in the Netherlands, or queen in the UK, mingles with the people during the birthday celebration, Jesus wants us to draw close to Him.

He calls us to abide in Him, to seek Him, to draw close to Him. Make time to meditate on Scripture passages, to pray, to worship alone and with others. Let Jesus not only be the focal point, but present with you.

So, how do we plan a birthday celebration fit for our King?

Transferring Our Birthday Celebrations to HIS

After looking at birthday celebrations for royalty, I decided to look at our own birthday celebrations and see if anything could transfer.

One thing we love to do on birthdays is play the Encouragement Game.

Everyone goes around and shares things they appreciate about the birthday person. It is often a tearful time as the birthday person is blessed and others realize how much he or she means to them. 

We can do that with Jesus at Christmas. Think of all the things we appreciate about Jesus, starting with His help at Creation and ending with His Glorious Return. 

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16 NASB).

For Jesus, it is deeper. Instead of the encouragement game, we add worship to our Christmas birthday celebration. Singing Christmas carols together is so precious to us, and we never stop at the first verse. The rest of the songs are so packed with awesome truths about our God!

Our birthday celebrations consist of giving gifts.

We think of things that we know Jesus wants from us, things that will express our adoration and devotion to Him. Here are some things on our list of gifts to the Lord:

  • Worship from grateful sincere hearts
  • Marriages that are faithful and committed
  • Families that love one another
  • Serving the poor, needy, those in jail as if we were serving Him
  • Celebrations (in Nehemiah, He commands the Israelites to celebrate with feasting and sweet drinks)
  • Prayer
  • Studying, reading, memorizing, and meditating on His Word
  • Enjoyment for all He has given us
  • Generosity with a cheerful heart​

To give gifts to Jesus at Christmas, we include Christmas devotions (Bible study, prayer, worship), acts of service (Shoebox, baby items to Crisis Pregnancy Center, special gift to our Compassion girl), and times of family togetherness.

Our birthday celebrations include parties.

When the kids were younger, we had a birthday party for Jesus with a birthday cake, games, and a pinata. On Christmas morning, we always put candles in our homemade cinnamon rolls and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.

We turn decorating the tree into a family party. We go caroling together, drive around to see lights, and participate in many special church events with other believers. All of these things are mini-birthday parties.

Seek and Save the Lost

One of the best ways we can show love to our Birthday King is to participate in the things on His heart. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, giving His life as a ransom for many. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord by participating in His mission!

Christ is concerned about the lost and broken. At Christmas, we have the real message of hope. It’s not what Santa can bring you, but what Jesus has accomplished for you through His cross and resurrection!

We can think of creative ways to tell people about Jesus. We can go Christmas caroling and invite neighbors to church. Why not create little tracts that share the Gospel message?

Sharing the Gospel of Hope can happen on Facebook, in person, or through emails. However, you do it, share the Gospel with those who need to hear it. 

​If you can grasp these principles and ideas as a family, it will change your Christmas celebrations forever to be more festive and joyous than you could ever imagine. After all, Christmas is not just a birthday, it is the birthday of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Love, love, love to each of you and Merry Christmas. 
​Meredith Curtis


Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis is a writer, speaker, and curriculum creator with Powerline Productions and teaches courses like Who Dun It, at True North Homeschool Academy. A veteran homeschooler, she is mom to five and “Grandy-Merey” to five so far. As a pastor’s wife, worship leader, and teacher she loves to give young people the gift of classic books and a Christian education to see lives changed for the glory of God.

Free Enterprise in the New World

Free Enterprise in the New World

Free enterprise has been a channel for God’s blessing in the early days of our nation while still a British colony into the first centuries of nationhood. Let’s see how free market economics helped to make America great. 

The British, French, and Dutch governments did not pay for settlements in the New World. Companies paid the expense. Financiers made deals with folks who wanted to start a new life in the colonies. Settlers founded family farms and businesses that thrived and prospered. 

Some people, desperate for new opportunities, indentured themselves as servants for a few years to cover the cost of the trip. After their time of service was over, the were free to work and prosper.  

Pilgrims

The pilgrims not only inspire our modern Thanksgiving Feast, but the lessons they learned about free enterprise still have wisdom for us in the 21st century. 

The pilgrims made their way to the New World so they could enjoy religious freedom. Getting to North America cost money. They sold their homes to raise money, but still came up short. Financier provided money for the voyage as an investment. The pilgrims would work for seven years. At that point, everything would be liquidated and divided between the financiers and the pilgrims. 

Since they were working to pay off their debt, they decided to all work together on common land. This was a disaster! Soon, industrious workers realized they were doing more work than the lazier brethren. There was little motivation to work! Instead, the leaders assigned each man a parcel of land. The output tripled! 

When the contract ended in 1627, the Pilgrims could begin building their farms and businesses for their families and they prospered even more. 

A Church, A Mill, A Blacksmith

It is said that early towns in the New World needed a church, a mill, and a blacksmith. 

The Pilgrims set to work right away to build a meeting house (church) and homes. A year later they had a blacksmith. William Bassett, who was left behind the year before, arrived in 1621. He was the first blacksmith in the colony of Plymouth and much needed! 

After grinding corn by hand for more than a decade, John Jenney built a water-powered mill on Town Brook. Two giant stone wheels ground the corn into cornmeal. The millstones were powered by water via a 14-foot waterwheel. Now they had everything they needed. The little colony grew and prospered. 

Further up the coast the first sawmill opened in present-day Maine on the Piscataqua River. The colonists started a logging industry, shipping lumber back to England. A year later, the first water-powered sawmill opened. 

Massachusetts Bay Colony

The folks heading to present-day Boston were shrewd. In an attempt to not answer to a company back in England, the settlers bought up the stock in the company paying for the settlers. Since colonists were accountable to the stockholders of a company, now the Massachusetts Bay Colony folks were accountable to one another. 

In Massachusetts Bay Colony, the settlers did not find the fertile land that existed in the middle and southern colonies. The rocky soil made farming difficult. Instead of crops, many farmers raised livestock. Some farms bred horses. 

Other men made a living in the fishing, timber, or shipping industries. 

The Atlantic Ocean, filled with an abundance of cod, mackerel, herring, halibut, and bass, was the perfect location for fishing. Fishermen sold their fish to merchants who exported the fish. Whaling was another huge industry. Folks used whale oil for lamps and soaps. Though dangerous, whaling was a very profitable industry for brave hearty souls. 

The lush New England forests were soon the location of a growing timber industry. Lumberjacks chopped down oak, maple, beech, birch, hickory, and ash trees for their beautiful wood. Most wood was exported to Europe while some was sold to ship builders and furniture makers. Soon there were thousands of sawmills in New England.

Ship building was big business in Massachusetts Bay Colony and later throughout New England. Fishermen and whalers need boats. Merchants needed ships to transport goods from ports in the New World to European and Caribbean ports. International trade required ships! Ship building required carpenters, joiners, sail makers, barrel makers, painters, and blacksmiths so it employed many men. 

The residents of Massachusetts Bay Colony were not just surviving financially, they were thriving and sending the fruits of their labor across the world! The colonists of New England were prospering!

Free Enterprise

Hard work and a free enterprise system caused colonists to thrive and prosper in the New World. Free enterprise, a system where businesses and farms are owned by individuals, not the government, and where the economy operates with little government regulation, was the perfect environment for success. 

The settlers in the New World enjoyed the freedom to buy, the freedom to sell, the freedom to try, the freedom to fail. The took risks and experienced failure. They took personal responsibility for their failures, as well as their successes. Free enterprise helped to cultivate a love of freedom which meshed well with the Puritan work ethic. 

Along with the Puritan ethic of industriousness, the free enterprise system can be credited with America’s prosperity. People are willing to take a risk to be financially independent by starting their own businesses or farming. 

In a free market, consumers “vote” for the products of their choice by purchasing those products. This causes quality items to sell at higher rates than poor quality ones. Early America was known for quality workmanship and goods. 

Wealth of the Nations

Ironically, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, Adam Smith’s Wealth of the Nations, the premier book on free-market capitalism, was published. Our Founding Fathers read and agreed with Smith’s philosophy of economics. 

The king of England believed in mercantilism where the government dictates how citizens can spend their money using tariffs and taxes. When colonists were forced to purchase certain items only from England, they were outraged! Being so far away, they had not only enjoyed religious freedom, but economic freedom as well. 

Free enterprise opens the door for new ideas. Creative individuals invent and try out new ideas because they have the freedom to do so. Maybe that’s why the USA is the most innovative nation on earth! 

If your teen needs a high school economic credit, I want to recommend True North Homeschool Academy’s Economics course, a spring semester course. This course teaches Free Enterprise-style economics in a practical, hands-on way. Check it out HERE

And this Thanksgiving, as you are thanking the Lord for all your blessings, remember the early settlers of our great nation, and thank God for the economic freedom they enjoyed and built into the fabric of our great nation. 


Meredith Curtis

Meredith Curtis is a writer, speaker, and curriculum creator with Powerline Productions and teaches courses like Who Dun It, at True North Homeschool Academy. A veteran homeschooler, she is mom to five and “Grandy-Merey” to five so far. As a pastor’s wife, worship leader, and teacher she loves to give young people the gift of classic books and a Christian education to see lives changed for the glory of God.