Homeschooling Essentials: Pencils. Just Pencils.

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Hey guys! This is my first blog hop, and I’m really excited to spend the rest of the week talking about what I view as “Homeschooling Essentials.” When you’re done reading my post, make sure to head on over to the master list and read about everyone else’s Essentials too!

The essential I want to talk about today is very simple, and one we can’t do without in my homeschool: Pencils. Yep. Just the basic, yellow pencil. It might not be worth mentioning at all except when it’s time for school, the kiddos can never find one! No matter how many I buy, they’re always lost.

Have you ever seen how pencils are made? We watched a YouTube video with the kids once, a few months ago, and it was actually quite interesting. Here’s the short version. First, the wood, typically cedar because it’s soft enough to sharpen but hard enough to hold up under your grip, is cut into pieces and then a groove is added for laying the lead into. A layer of glue is added to each groove, and half of the wood sheets get lead in their grooves. Each sheet is enough to make 8 or 10 pencils. The other half of the sheets are then laid on top if the leaded sheets, where the “lead sandwiches” are pressed together with a vice for an hour while the glue dries. The pencils are then cut and painted. I found it interesting that it takes four coats of paint to fully conceal the wood grain. If you have five spare minutes sometime, I encourage you to watch one of the pencil videos (just search “how pencils are made” on YouTube; there are several to choose from). I think it’s good to know things like that, if for no other reason than to keep us from taking things for granted.

We couldn’t do school without pencils. I’m sure my kids wish we could, but I’m not one of those homeschool moms who goes the “unschooling” route; I need some sort of record of what the kids have done, and I need to push them to do things that they wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves, which is the antithesis of unschooling. Don’t get me wrong – I totally want my kids to love learning, and I want them to develop ways of learning naturally. But I can’t leave their education up to them. Otherwise Seahawk wouldn’t be as strong a reader as he is, Munchkin wouldn’t know anything about history, and neither one would be proficient in their times tables. All of those things are important – as important as having fun learning. And without our trusty pencils, we wouldn’t have a record of what they’ve learned.

So that’s my first homeschool essential. Make sure to visit my fellow bloggers to read all about theirs, and come back tomorrow for another of mine!



More Homeschooling Essentials:

Lisa @ A Rup Life

Jordyn @ Almost Supermom

Jenn @ Teaching Two Stinkers

Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog

Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy

Brandi @ Brandi Raae

Jodi @ Insane in the Mombrain

Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

Before and After

We started school last week. That’s made things quite a bit busier for me, but I must say: I don’t hate it. Summertime is nice, but I also like the structure of the school year.

Here are a few things related to the post title I wanted to share:

Before last Tuesday, the kids were dreading “back to school.” After Tuesday’s lessons, they were excited for Wednesday. That makes me happy!

Before last week, I was gung ho to teach (and learn) Spanish. After trying for 4 days, I realize/accept that I can’t teach something I don’t know. So we’re adopting French as our foreign language instead. (I took 3 years of French in my public high school and did quite well. It’s been years, but it will come back quickly. I’m sure of that.) We started with numbers 1-10 today and all 3 boys (hubby’s learning with the kids!) have it mostly down.

Before yesterday, the kids and I all desperately needed haircuts.


After yesterday afternoon, we’re all shorn.


(don’t mine the glare in the corner… that’s where the light hit the mirror and I’m too lazy to crop it right now lol)

Before August 27th, Small Fry was still crawling. It was so funny to see – he crawled like a bear, on hands and feet instead of hands and knees. After August 27th, he’s pretty much walking exclusively.

That’s about it… What have you been up to in my absence? 🙂