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

Simplicity is Not… {Part 2}


Happy Monday, everyone! I hope your weekend was as relaxing as a weekend is supposed to be.

Did you make anything that you normally buy? I didn’t try anything new this week, but I did make a batch of corn tortillas; we had some friends over for dinner Thursday night, so I made tacos with fresh tortillas. Definitely gave my tortilla press a workout, making 40-ish tortillas!

Today I want to talk about another thing that simplicity is not.

Simplicity is not getting rid of all your stuff. That’s minimalism, which has its own benefits, but I’m not going to go into that too much today. Unless my thoughts lead there as I type… we shall see.

Here’s the thing about possessions. If you use it regularly, it’s not superfluous. If you’re willing and able to get rid of it at a moment’s notice, for whatever reason, it’s reasonable to have. If it has a home in your house that you’re happy with, then keep it. Get my drift?

But. You knew there was going to be a “but,” didn’t you?

But. If you don’t use it, wear it, read it, or have a good place to keep it, then you have to do some thinking and searching within yourself to decide if it’s really worth keeping. I still struggle with the “what ifs,” and I like to think I’m pretty go with the flow regarding our possessions by now. We have two deep-dish casserole dishes, for example. Could I get by with one? Probably. But (there’s that word again…) I do occasionally use both, particularly on church potluck days. It’s nice to have both in case I’m cooking for a large group. And they both have a home in my cabinet, and are not (usually) in the way. So I keep them.

Along with simplicity not being the same as getting rid of your stuff, it also is not against the idea of purchasing new items. For example, I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas, and I could have used it to buy a Kindle book or an Amazon digital video (something that wouldn’t take up real estate in our home), but I chose to get a tortilla press. I’ve just been rolling our tortillas out by hand until now. The tortilla press has given me the ability to make fresh tortillas more often, which is a win in my book. There’s nothing bad in a homemade tortilla (well, a corn one anyway; flour ones need some sort of fat to taste good). So the more we can have this delicious delicacy, the better we are in my book. Before you make a purchase, though, you want to make sure that the item you’re buying fits in your values, whatever they may be (yes, I know they probably aren’t exactly the same as mine, and that’s okay).

For my final thoughts on this subject, I want to explore Scripture’s take on minimalism.

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans,  but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

~Matthew 10: 5-15, ESV~

Did you catch what Jesus sent them out with? Nothing. The disciples weren’t supposed to take a bag of belongings. They weren’t supposed to accept wages for their work while they were out preaching the gospel. They weren’t even supposed have an extra tunic or pair of shoes! They were promised food. That’s it.

This week’s challenge: Think through each purchase you make (at least one or two of them). If you don’t know whether or not you’ll use the item, or if you can’t think of where you’ll put it once you get it home, don’t buy it. You can always go back for it once you’ve answered those questions.



Picture of the Week: Reading Together


I love when the kiddos spend quality time with each other and books! I hope to instill a love of reading in all of them, and of all sorts of books: the Bible, novels, historical fiction, nonfiction, biographies, the list goes on…

What’s your favorite kind of book to share with kids?

Enjoy the weekend,