Holidays | Printables

Free Valentine’s Code Breaking Printable

By on February 5, 2018

Love is in the air! Valentines is one of my favorite holidays because it's one of my mother's favorite holidays. There is just something fun about getting an opportunity to shower love on those around you.

If you're looking for a fun activity to entertain your littles as they await your Valentines celebration, you'll love this free Valentines Code Breaking printable. It is filled with witty Valentines puns that will keep smiles on your little code breakers' faces.

Download your FREE Valentines Code Breaking Printable now!

I hope your kids have as much fun with this Valentines activity as mine did!

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Crafts | Food | Holidays | Printables

Succulent Valentines with Strawberry Crinkle Cookies

By on January 19, 2018

Since I was sick over the Christmas holidays, I really missed out on the baking fun I usually enjoy with my kids. Thankfully Valentines Day is right around the corner, and that offers options for more baking fun. My daughter created these cute little succulent Valentines tags to add to our treats, and we have instant gifts for teachers and friends. Keep reading for the free printable version of the tags and bookmarks to add to your Valentines treats!

My daughter has been in love with succulents for the past couple of years. Last year we even had a "planty party" for her birthday. She's worked hard to learn how to tend to them. I've loved watching her grow in her gardening love. It didn't take long for me to figure out why she was so enamored with these beautiful plants.


She's also been cultivating her love of water-coloring these fascinating plants. I love a good Valentines pun, so I thought it would be fun for her to create some artsy tags that we could adorn treat bags with for our Valentines this year. She set to work, and came up with some beautiful options!

There are six different varieties to choose from, and as a bonus, there are two bookmark options as well to print off and give away as well.

Supplies we used:

Download your Succulent Valentines Tags here!

You can fill your treat bags with candy, cute erasers or other non-candy options. We opted for a fresh baked option, which was a simple twist to a classic Christmas crinkle cookie...I love those!

Strawberry Crinkle Cookies

These Strawberry Crinkle Cookies are so simple to make, and they taste as amazing as they look!

Supplies needed:

  • 1 Box strawberry cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • powdered sugar

So all you do is combine the cake mix (you can use any cake mix by the way) with two eggs and the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and mix. Once you have a cookie-dough consistency, use a melon baller scoop for a small cookie, or a regular ice cream scoop for a big cookie. Roll your cookie ball in some powdered sugar and place on a tray. Leave room between cookies so that as they spread out they don't cook into one another.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

One large cookie, or three small cookies fit perfectly into the treat bags. These tasty treats won't last long, so you might as well make two boxes!

Happy Valentines baking!

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Home School Resources | Printables

What Is HP Instant Ink! and How Does It Work?

By on April 10, 2017

Teachers, homeschoolers, and educators all end up with a similar conundrum: to print in full color, or settle for black and white.

As a visual person, I appreciate the value of color printing. If I'm purchasing a cookbook, I want full color photos to drool over. My kids are the same way. If I'm printing off a resource for them, they want the full color version. I don't blame them.

Until recently, I thought my budget wouldn't be conducive to color printing at home, but then I stumbled across HP Instant Ink!, a monthly ink subscription, and everything changed.

I joined HP Instant Ink! and fell in love. I became an affiliate for their membership service because I wanted to share this great service with my friends. All opinions are my own.

For the longest time, I just settled for living with my trusty black and white laser printer for all of my basic printing needs. However, this meant that anytime I wanted something printed in color, I needed to run to the nearest copy center and wait in line...and hope that they printed my document correctly. It's expensive in gas and time, not to mention a bit risky.

I finally broke down and bought a new color printer to use for those special full color printing occasions. I'm still keeping my work horse printer, but now I don't have to leave home to print in color.

What About The Cost of Ink?

As I shopped around, I was also checking the prices of the coordinating ink cartridges. There is nothing worse than finding a great deal on a printer only to discover that you're going to pay an arm and a leg for ink for years to come. Then I saw the option for HP Instant Ink!, and I was intrigued.

The basics of the program is that you purchase a set amount of prints a month, and you can use as much or as little ink as you want on those copies.

There are three easy plans to choose from:

  • Occasional printing:
    • Equivalent to $0.06 per print
    • Each additional set of 15 pages for just $1.00
  • Moderate printing:
    • Equivalent to $0.05 per print
    • Each additional set of 20 pages for just $1.00
  • Frequent printing:
    • Equivalent to $0.03 per print
    • Each additional set of 25 pages for just $1.00
  • Shipping and recycling included (some conditions may apply)

With the purchase of my printer, they included three months of free membership to try it out. I opted for the $4.99/mo. option which gave me 100 copies a month. Here's a glimpse at the money I'll be saving:

If you don't use all of your copies in the month, they will roll over to the next month. This works out perfectly for me since my printing needs ebb and flow throughout the year.

Managing Your Subscription

Once you're enrolled in HP Instant Ink! you'll get some special ink cartridges in the mail. These cartridges communicate your print activity and ink status to HP so that you will never run out of ink again.

The starter ink cartridges that came with my printer only lasted a couple of weeks. It didn't take long to get a notice that fresh ink was heading my way. It was wonderful to not have to think about ordering ink and making sure it arrived before I ran out of ink.

You can modify your account whenever you like. If school is about to start up again, and you know you'll be doing some extra printing, you can bump up your subscription for a month, and then lower it back again when you know you'll be taking a break.

You can also check your printing history and keep track of how many of your prints you've used in a month. This is a great way to manage your subscription.

If you decide you're ready to cancel your subscription, it's easy. There are no yearly fees or plan cancellation fees. Just keep in mind that your ink cartridge that's connected to the plan will stop working. You can still use regular ink in your printer, you'll just have to purchase a regular old cartridge again.

Save up to 50% on Printer Ink Replacement with HP Instant Ink! Receive the 1st Month Free - Sign up Now!

Dreamy Printing

Now I am thrilled to not have to worry about printing my Latin charts, where the colors truly actually mean something.

I also have the ability to print smaller versions of my Orchestra Cards to make a memory matching game for my kids!

I tend to make my own worksheets with extra blue, and if I was printing with normal ink, I would continually run my multi-colored cartridge out before I used up the other colors. Thankfully, with this subscription plan, I don't have to worry about using too much blue or magenta. It will all balance out in the end!

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Home School Resources | Latin Helps | Printables

Learning Latin Like Nat Bowditch with Scripture

By on September 14, 2016

We've been reading through Carry On, Mr. Bowditch again this year together as a family, and once again I'm struck by how Nat learned Latin. I just love this book. Latin used to be the language scientists used to communicate their ideas.


If you haven't read Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, you really need to add it to your must-read list. Without giving away the whole story, I'll share a little bit about this story based on the life of Nathaniel Bowditch.

Although Nat's future was bright, and he could have gone to Harvard, his family's financial situation was strained, so he had to leave school at ten years old. By twelve, he was sold as an indentured slave to a ship chandler, and his hopes of Harvard were dashed. Instead of accepting his fate, he continued to learn by reading any book he could get his hands on and writing down the information in journals.

Lifelong Learners

We tend to blame our learning struggles on a bad teacher, a boring text book, or our lack of time. Nat didn't have the opportunities that modern learners have, yet that didn't stop him.

He fell in love with the study of astronomy. While looking for more information on the subject, he discovered that the best book to read was Newton's PrincipiaThe only downside to this text was that it was in Latin, and he didn't know any Latin.

Can I Learn Latin?

Instead of giving up, Nat Bowditch did the only other logical option:  he set out to learn Latin. Thankfully he had a wonderful mentor that gave him resources. When he asked about what he needed to learn Latin, his friend gave him:

  1. A Latin grammar
  2. A Latin dictionary
  3. A New Testament in Latin

Since Nat was familiar with the Bible, he could learn the principles by studying the Latin for his favorite scriptures.

Learning to Observe Language

Once you become familiar with how Latin works, which is found in your grammar, you can use your observation skills to identify the different parts of speech and discover how they work. The fascinating thing about Latin is that nouns have a noun-ish quality about them, and verbs have a verb-ish quality about them. If you know what the conjugations look like, you can find them in any passage you're reading.

Last year in Challenge I we took the book of 1 John and worked through it observing the language. It was a great exercise because it brought together all levels of Latin students. Even if you don't know much Latin, you can see how the words in English derive from the Latin.


Learning Latin Like Nat

Even though we have some amazing Latin curricula at our disposal, it's fun to go back to the basics of language and learn Latin like Nat.

You can use these guides in morning time, or just as a personal way to stretch your language muscles. I've created a Latin/English workbook covering 1 John, and a Greek/Latin/English workbook covering Romans 8. Each has ample blank space for making notes and comparing languages.

Latin verses (1)

Buy both for $8 or individually for $5.

Click here to purchase the 1 John workbook.

1 John Book KJV

Click here to purchase the Romans 8 workbook.

Romans 8 Cover Large

Or purchase both by clicking here!

Learn Latin Like Nat Bowditch (1)

Join the Latin with Andy membership site and get access to these files included in your membership! Click below to find out more!

I hope you find joy in pursuing Latin like Nat Bowditch. You'll come to appreciate the diversity of translations if nothing else!

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Challenge | Classical Conversations | Foundations | Home School Resources | Printables

The Power of Integration – Using a Topic Wheel to Study Music

By on February 24, 2016

We've been having fun with topic wheels in our home lately to generate fun dinner conversations.  My son and I are studying music theory this year with a text book called "Math in Motion" and have really learned a lot. We decided that we would center our conversation around music and see what we could come up with!

Music Topic Wheel

This post may contain affiliate links.  See my full disclosure policy for more details.

Music in the Bible

Music Topic Wheel

The kids decided to start our conversation off this time with music inspiration from the Bible.

Trumpets came to mind first.  Trumpets were used in Old Testament battles and knocking down the walls of Jericho.  Eventually trumpets will be used in the last days as judgment expressed in the book of Revelation.

Music was a memory device used in songs to help the people recall the faithfulness of God.

David wrote songs of worship, and angels sang to worship the newborn king.

Even the word "hallelujah" comes from the name of God.

The Bible was a great place to start.

Music in History

Just like Moses wrote songs to help the people remember, Martin Luther wrote hymns to teach the people of the 1500s the truths of the Bible.  They didn't have access to the scriptures, so he made it accessible through song.

Other people became famous for writing and playing music like Bach. We've been reading his biography lately, and have been fascinated by the music saturated life he lived!  He was most well known for being a phenomenal pipe organist of his day.

Historically drums have been used in executions, and in modern warfare, music is blasted across enemy lines to communicate secret messages.

All throughout history, music has been used as a way to express deep emotion in relation to current social injustice.  This video expresses that emotion in a familiar song, sung in a minor key, with unfamiliar lyrics.  It's a beautiful example of the power of music.

Math Expressed in Music

Classically speaking, music is one of the seven liberal arts.  Specifically, it's in the quadrivium, which is studied after the trivium is mastered. The quadrivium consists of geometry (shapes), astronomy (shapes in motion), math (numbers), and music (numbers in motion).

Each music tone is a representation of a frequency that can be graphed.  When those frequencies overlap they either result in harmony or cacophony.  Check out this video that explains this concept:

Some ideas the kids had about where math is expressed in music is rhythm.  The value of a note in a measure is represented by a fraction. When you count out the beats in a measure you're dividing.  I love this video by Clayton Cameron in which he demonstrates what he calls "A-rhythm-etic"

Music Geographically

Music Geographically

Music is something that is experienced and enjoyed all around the world.  While everyone enjoys music, the expression of it can be very different depending on your geographical location. Irish play bagpipes, Africans play drums, and Australians play didgeridoos.

Songs can be sung in many different languages and still express the same emotions even though not everyone might have the same opinion about a particular expression!

Different regions of the US enjoy expressing music differently like the jazz in New Orleans or the country in Tennessee.

The Science of Music

Music offers an abundance of wonder when you consider the way different frequencies effect different substances.

How does a high pitched frequency break glass?

Why do different amounts of water in glasses make different tones when tapped?

Does music actually make you smarter?

Does it change your mood?

Can it activate different parts of the brain to make you study better? (All of my kids believe this is true and are living test subjects of their hypothesis).

How do music producers adjust the pitch of a singer to perfect their music?

These were just a few questions that we came up with when thinking about music and science.

Poetry and Music

Our last topic was poetry.  Poetry and music go hand in hand because they both are designed to engage the imagination in picturing what the writer or artist is trying to communicate.  Poetry has rhythm and meter like music.  It also expresses mood and tense just like music does.

When you pair a poem with a melody, both are enhanced.  The meaning behind the unspoken tune is heightened by a well written verse.

Music is everywhere!  Try this conversation topic wheel at your next family dinner with this simple printable with conversation prompts.  Click here, or on the image below to download a topic wheel to help with your conversation!

Music Topic Wheel

What inspires you about music?

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