Christmas Thoughts from Our Home, My Heart

It’s December 21 and I am done wrapping  and sending out 95 % gifts that need to be delivered. So here I am, taking a break and writing.  9 days to go till we “wrap up 2016″… and it is not easy looking back.  It is actually painful .

The year was just about to roll in when we lost my Daddy Dony. It is actually going to be the first Christmas without him. Actually, he celebrated his last Christmas here on earth in the ICU on his 10th week in the hospital.  “Daddy Dony and Christmas” was always special because he loved special occasions to gather his loved ones. He thought of all ways to spice up the event and we’ve had the most “all out” gatherings because of his ideas.

The only photo I unearthed from my file that showed our family ( half of our size now) in Filipino Christmas motif! There was also a Christmas gathering that we were to come as members of the Nativity Scene, and yes someone came as Baby Jesus in the manger!
,,,,,one Christmas, the grandkids decided to have a family super selfie dance! If you want another one,  here.  We are a CRAZY bunch, and that’s partly due to Daddy Dony!

Please remember to pray for my Mommy Emma.  It was difficult  for her to live without her boyfriend and husband of 64 years this year.img_4074

But sadly, so many other precious lives left us this year: a  homeschooler  friend who had 4 children, a dear sister of  one my BFFs, my eldest brother in law,  my neighbor’s father,   several of our helper’s dearest relatives and several parents of other friends.

Our own family had one relationship problem after another,   and  so I think 2016 was my most “crying-ext” year.  I love how the Psalms in the New Living Translation says it ever so clearly in Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  I also soar in the assurance in  Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”  So when you really think about it, the Lord is near and so I must rest  and rejoice in that.  And truly this season is the best time to rejoice knowing, “Emmanuel, God is with us!”  So, instead of wallowing and yes, staring at my tears in my own “memory” bottle and reliving the hurts again in my thoughts and heart,   I have made a choice to rejoice.  God is with us. He is near us.  What an amazing , awesome, mind-blowing truth!!!!

So as I greet you all a truly MERRY “because God is indeed with us” Christmas, let  me do this using some of the Christmas sights here at home.

Let me take the simple messages from our tree this year.  (Set up by all our kids!)


  1.  Be Merry, God is with us.    Take time to think of that. Close your eyes and say. “Thank You, Jesus.” “God with us” paved the way for  the redemption of  every believer in Christ. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).


2.  Life’s circumstances may cloud the way, dim our thoughts but as one follower encountered Jesus, he called out and said, “I do believe; Lord, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)  Even Mary had her own doubts, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34 ) So my dearest one, Merry Believing!


3. May you have Joy and Freedom.   God, through Jesus, has already provided this with the greatest sacrifice at Calvary.  With Jesus, we have eternal joy and freedom from the burden and weight of our sins and failures. Again, take time to think and ponder on these. Indeed, we can really sing, “Joy to the World!”


4.  Amidst the troubles at home, in our families and in our society, and yes in our world,  may you have  inner peace in believing in faith, that God is sovereign.  I weep as I think of children in  Aleppo, as I think of those killed in this “all out drug” war.   We know  that the  worsening  “darkness” has been foretold but alongside that, there is  the call to press on to be salt and light in this earth. I cannot let the darkness , whether in my own family life or in this word,  make me cynical, cripple me or paralyze me. ” You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. “For the peace of God that transcends all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7


5. In faith, I have chosen to draw near to God and  believe. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. ” May then your faith in Him  be strengthened as you look back at 2016 and look forward to 2017.  God is faithful and He seeks those who will believe Him in faith.


So there. Simple truths but truly profound and wondrous.  Let us, like Mary,  take time to celebrate as we meditate on these thoughts.  “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) As you do this, listen to traditional Bible based Christmas carols and be blessed with these 5 simple truths I drew out from our CHRISTmas tree this year.



For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Tandem Teaching on Homeschooling Basics with My Sister: This Friday, December 9, 2016!

I was away for an immersion trip as Board of Director  of Visions of Hope Foundation to visit Potter’s House Association in Guatemala. Visions of Hope and Potter’s House are aligned in a common goal of reaching  and empowering  poor families, teaching them about the love of Jesus and educating the children.  It was truly a refreshing yet eye opening and challenging trip! I will share more stories about that through a future post but for now, would like to  invite you to join my mentor-sister, co-homeschooler  Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon and me as we “tandem teach” in  The Master’s Light House Foundation and Sunlife Financial’s Building Blocks of Homeschooling .


I am so excited to be able to do this with Felichi and of course, with Master’s Lighthouse Foundation’s Kuya Anthony and his lovely wife, another sister,  Ms. Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan.  One can actually call this “Sisters’ Act with special participation of one brother!” By God’s grace and  with the help of the Sun Life Financial Team and Master’s Lighthouse Staff,  we hope to have a very dynamic, and fun seminar on  the basics of homeschooling:  homeschooling as tried and tested form of education, laying a strong foundation , starting one’s journey, and staying at it with practical tips and techniques.   A bonus feature in this seminar is a portion presented by Sunlife dedicated to Financial Planning and Management for Homeschoolers.  Sunlife will seek to give basic principles for families who are into homeschooling and how finances come into play when one opts to homeschool.

The seminar will handle the following:

  • Homeschooling as a Form of Education for Your Children: Why Not?
  • Creating Your Homeschooling Vision and Mission
  • Best Practices in Starting (and yes even maintaining) Your Homeschool Journey
  • Financial Planning/ Management for Homeschooling Families

Ate Felichi and I have been roommates since we were assigned our on own room in the early to mid 70s.


I was even able to google our wall paper in that room in 11 Mahusay St. UP Village, Quezon City.  Yes, this Holly Hobbie wall paper witnessed our days of  pretend play in that small room, and how we were also ” homeschooled” in some way,  as we spent so many hours of our growing years playing with our siblings.


Ate Felichi and I were part of the ‘3 babies” of the 9 children of Dony and Emma Pangilinan.  The 9 children were known to many in 3 batches: 3 girls, 3 boys and the 3 babies.  So there from left to right, Number 9, me,  number 8, kuya John-John and number 7, Ate Felichi:)

I “don’t” spy my neck. I think I was the chubbiest among all the children. Don’t you agree??

So apart from sharing with you  from our combined homeschooling experience of close to 30 years, we will also share from our own experiences as we grew up and bonded (and played) together!

Ate Felichi and I shared a room for a total 18 years in 3 different homes!

Ate Felichi is my go to person for prayer, wisdom and guidance.  She has truly helped mold and shape the person that I am today.   She has taught me the value of waiting on God, of prayer and of being intimate with Him.  She was the one who introduced homeschooling into my own family.  Her wholehearted commitment in raising. loving and  homeschooling her children have compelled me to homeschool as well, and we’ve been at it for 14 years now! The impact she had made in my life, I firmly believe, is also multiplying as I have gotten involved in bigger communities and groups that seek to encourage other homeschoolers! Recently, we have began some groundwork in creating a “homeschool-like” curriculum for a community our foundation is working with in the Saranggani province, where preschool and elementary children are housed in a dorm-like school  since their homes are 2-3 hours walk away from their homes!!!!  Thank you Ate Felichi and Kuya Jojo Buizon for paving the way indeed!


Again, join us this Friday and let’s all  learn from each other and celebrate homeschooling together! To reserve a slot, please text Gen Mercardo 0916-711-0509 !

Christmas is Fast Approaching: How to Have Christmas-filled Quarter

In my 15 years of homeschooling, the quarter or period involving Christmas  seems to be the fastest and in some sense, the most distracting. Well, “distracting” , if you have this knack for wanting a list of worksheets complete, pages done and chapters completed. However, if you embrace the period, find season specific lessons that you can weave into your  daily “must learns”, if you try to highlight your own family traditions and involve your students in its preparation and celebration, you can actually have such a rich, no matter how rushed  it ca be, Christmas Season.

Here are a few things you may opt to do:

  1. If you have Bible Study/ Christian Living as a subject you can:
  • As early as early November, to start focusing your Bible Studies on the Birth of Jesus. You can easily google the top Old Testament prophecies about the birth if Jesus.   You can also tie this up with Chrismas songs that are based on such verses.  I can hear “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, “What Child is this” or “Immanuel”.  You can print the lyrics and study them together.  If any of your students are playing the piano, you can look and search for simple piano pieces on Christmas.  Or you can teach your students or you can all learn a new Christmas song.


  • You can divide the days of December in reading the New Testament Verses related to the Nativity.
  • You can watch the Nativity Dvd or any other Christmas story in parts.
  • You can choose important concepts/character traits manifested in Christmas story and search other Bible verses or famous sayings to support  these. Examples are love, humility, grace, service. sacrifice,  joy and the like
  • Share your blessings with others this Christmas.  There are many ways to do this .
    • Prepare gift bags in your car with Noche Buena staples like fruit cocktail, cream, spaghetti noodles, cheese, tomato sauce, canned meat, and sweets.   If you find yourself in traffic or in parking ( make sure you don’t do it when there are too many people who may overwhelm you and your car) , then give them away a few days before Christmas. Or it can be gift bags for kids with treats and useful items
    • Choose a ministry or non government group that focuses on the poorest of the poor. Check with your church or even with your homeschool provider.  You may check and contact if you would like to organize your family or your homeschool support groups for a Christmas activity or project with former and current street children all over Metro Manila or nearby province, Laguna.
      Children in Commerce St. received these gift bags prepared by Gino.


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      Homeschooled kids wrapped these and created personal Christmas cards for kids affected by Yolanda typhoon in Ormoc City.

2.  “Decorate” your other  subjects with the Christmas themed activities and projects.

  • For History, you can research on the how certain traditions/beliefs came to be… Christmas gift giving , Christmas tree, Santa Claus  (that’s if you’re off the mystery already), reindeers, mistletoe. Include Filipino Christmas traditions as well.
A page of Christmas Treasury Book
  • For Art/ HELE.
    • Christmas Card Making ( we did this year after year after year)
Angel Gabriel by Raya
Jesus is Born by Gino
Cool snowman by Marco
Cool snowman by Marco


  • Baking of Christmas Cookies and Gingerbread House or cookies
Raya’s Christmas Cupcakes!

img_6203 img_7363 img_7379

img_6730 img_6647 img_6602 img_6727 img_6732 img_6754Click here on how to make a Christmas Parol tail.

  • Creating your own Christmas Belen using recycled cardboard, boxes, acrylic paint and polymer clay.


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  • Involving your students in helping around the house (wrapping gifts, making tags, making DIY gifts or decors)fullsizerender
Make more copies of the their Christmas Cards my making digital images and printing them:)
Raya did this for her Papa who loves to bike:)
  • If you have several children, give each one some money or they can use some of their savings to give simple gifts to their siblings, grandparents and even helpers at home.  They can learn how to plan, budget, purchase , wrap,  and write a dedication. If you have a bit more budget, involve them in purchasing simple gifts for their other teachers (MAPE, homeschool provider advisor, and sports coaches).

3. Find good Christmas themed materials for Read-A-Loud.

Short Stories in this book are good!
Short Stories in this book are good!

I am thinking of doing   Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens with Gino this year.

Please share me with us other ideas you’ve done as well:) We brought out the Christmas pillows and as I began changing the covers, you could hear the oohs and ahhs from the younger kids, and see the grin from my almost adult boy. Christmas, don’t come so fast, we want to prepare our hearts and homes as we seek to celebrate the real purpose of Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

10 Things We Loved about the Philippine Homeschooling Conference 2016

I am definitely one biased writer here.  So, forgive me.  But then, I also am reviewing this from different perspectives! First of all, I am one of the core members of the Homeschool Association of Philippine Islands (HAPI) that partnered with Educating For Life (EFL) in presenting this year’s conference.  Secondly, I am also one of the workshop speakers for the ”How to Start Your Homeschool Journey” session.  Thirdly, I was a homeschooler attendee myself, overseeing our homeschooled (former and current) children as they volunteered and fourthly, I was an exhibitor in the expo as well representing the Visions of Hope Foundation where I currently sit as board member. Fifthly, I also represented the FB Homeschooling Support groups as Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HOP)…. gasp.. whew… and lastly, I was a homeschool blogger.. so there.  Wow, that sounded like a UNIT STUDY Approach on How to Get Involved in the  Philippine Homeschool Conference! So, hopefully, all that perspective will help equalize my own biases  as I write this ( Honestly, we welcome all positive and constructive feedback! Please comment!).

So here are my favorite things about this year’s run:

  1.  For Homeschoolers, By Homeschoolers:    Just look at the photos.  Nuff said!

    Eldest son came a bit later with Papa Gilbert. These sweet ones were all ready to work at 7AM!
    Homeschoolers as Volunteers were up as early as 5 AM! Photo courtesy of Mariel Uyquiengco,
    Homeschoolers came in full force and were superb hosts!
    Joy Mendoza, a product of homeschooling, was one of keynote speakers.
    Homeschooler Alyssa Hao on violin
    Homeschooler Damodar Das Castilo on the Cello
    Homeschooler Damodar Das Castilo on the Cello

    More orchestral music were provided by the Catholic Family Academy Homeschool Orchestra and by the Mercurio Family Ensemble.

Even the some of the kids' activities were led by homeschoolers. Meg and Maddie Barraca taught my daughter ,Raya and niece, Kaila brush calligraphy.
Even the some of the kids’ activities were led by homeschoolers. Homeschoolers teaching other Homeschoolers! Meg and Maddie Barraca taught my daughter Raya and niece, Kaila brush calligraphy.

2. This year’s “title or theme” : From Roots to Wings

I love it.  There are so many ways of looking at it.  From seeds to roots, from walking to flying.  From roots to release.   I just love all the analogies that “roots” and “wings” bring to mind.

3.  The Homeschooling through Stages approach

Whether you are just about to take the plunge, or homeschooling for some time,  whether you are ready to release to college or needing encouragement in your journey, whether you represent a homeschool provider or thinking of putting up one…. there is a room for you in this conference!

Tried to stay within the 45 minute allotted time to share “How to Start Your Homeschool Journey”

4.  Impactful Keynote Messages

You just wanted to be better in what we were doing. After the morning messages, you just wanted to a better parent (in whatever capacity your season calls you as described by Bro. Bo Sanchez as “control, coach and consultant!”) , a better educator, a better believer, a better neighbor…….

Ms. Deonna Tanchi- a pioneer in Philippine Homeschooling!
Bro.  Bo Sanchez
Learned a whole lot about Relevance in Education! A superb talk on motivation children to learn and love learning by Mr. Andrew Pudewa.
With speakers Mr. Gary Cox and Mr. Andrew Pudewa

5. Venue

The venue is central, easily accessible for people within Metro Manila.  It was very comfortable and highly conducive for learning. One suggestion I have heard was to create more space for the expo so the aisles are not so cramped.

6.  Relationships Recharged

FB friends finally meet. With Hazel Bautista!

Seeing familiar ones too!

One of the highlights was having my sisters join me. Here with our eldest, Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas, governor of Kidzania Manila!
With familiar friends from Homeschool Global (our family’s homeschool provider), co homeschooling parent and co workshop speaker, Ms. Milona Barraca and our ever so sweet and gracious homeschooling family advisor, Ms. Girlie Argosino.
My families! Buizon family led by sister Felichi with her former homeschooled daughters Tahnee and Kaila, with our Marco, Raya and Gino and my Visions of Hope Foundation family: Arlene, Cheney, Abi and R'love. This is the booth where children help other children!
My families! Buizon family led by  another sister Felichi with her former homeschooled daughters Tahnee and Kaila, with our Marco, Raya and Gino and my Visions of Hope Foundation family: Arlene, Cheney, Abi and R’love. This is the booth where children help other children! Contact them through their website and take part in the many ways your family/children can help other children in our country!

7.  The launch of many firsts!

  • The HapiNews ( hopefully a regular newsletter from HAPI)

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  • HomeschoolTV website,   youtube and FB site!
  • The Philippine Homeschool Conference App  (though others may have  preferred a one page hard copy schedule that they could hold and fold) was quiet useful.
  • The coziest nook ever for FB Homeschooling Support Groups as spearheaded by Ms. Denise Pena
Photo courtesy of Ms. Christine Amador
Photo courtesy of Ms. Christine Amador

8.  Ok, my brother, Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s heartwarming opening remarks was simply the best way to start a conference.  Not only did he launch March 3, 2017 (and promised to file a senate resolution for it)  as the first ever Philippine National Homeschooling Day, “Building Up the Philippines, One Family at a Time” (Congratulations to Ms. Ailene Amargo for this winning tagline!”, he also expressed his support to help in legislation to support all homeschoolers in the Philippines! But I think, our favorite, honestly , was his stories about “homeschooling” his children!


9. The A-team : Amazing, Adorable, Aweome, Alive, Aggressive, Agile, Alert, Attentive, Assuring. We give the team A+ indeed!

Educating for Life Workforce! Photo from Ms. Tina Rodriguez
HAPI! Homeschooler Association of the Philippines  headed by Mr. Edric Mendoza with the movers of HomeschoolTV and Educating for Life ! Photo courtesy of Ms. Laksmi Maluya.
The Maluya Family. Laksmi is our champion from HAPI. Photo provided by Ms. Tina Rodriguez
The Maluya Family. Laksmi is our champion from HAPI. Photo provided by Ms. Tina Rodriguez

10.  The best ever Homeschool Expo/Trade Fair (good thing I was super busy and was able to resist the temptation to purchase and hoard!) with so many exciting, enriching and cool products and super fun activities for kids.

Congratulations to the entire team behind this conference. A job well done, indeed.

So there, how about you?  Any comments or suggestions? Pls feel free to share your thoughts. If you’d like to share more photos on the event, please email me at! You may also direct your feedback regarding the recently concluded conference via Philippine Homeschool Conference FB page or !

Gotta go for!


1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Book Review on Charlotte’s Web By Gino Simpao: Why I Enjoyed it



Charlotte’s Web is a story of a pig named Wilbur. He lives in a farm with a bunch of other animals, but only developed a good friendship with Charlotte, the spider. They became friends because Charlotte was the friendliest of all the animals, she was always available to talk to, and she was kind.

I enjoyed this book, and looked forward to reading it everyday. Let me tell you the reasons why. One of the main reasons is what I told you about earlier. It is their friendship. Their friendship felt very special. Charlotte was a perfect fit for Wilbur. Whenever Wilbur wanted talk to her, she would always listen, and she would be very positive and encouraging. She was the one who helped Wilbur with his main problem.

Secondly, I loved how the story was very exciting. Each chapter had something for me to look forward to. There was never a time where the story became boring or dragging.

Next, I was very fond of  the different characters in the story. There were the geese, the sheep, the rat named Templeton, and even the humans. The different personalities made the story more interesting and amusing. The conversations among the animals were also very funny and witty.

Overall, I highly recommend this book because of the good friendship, set in an exciting plot, with interesting characters. I hope you read and enjoy this book as well.

Sneak Peek on PHC 2016’s From Roots to Wings’ Session on Starting Your Homeschool Journey

If you are attending the 2016 Philippine Homeschooling Conference: From Roots to Wings, after the oh so relevant and powerful keynotes speakers,  there are various workshops in the afternoon dedicated to address the various seasons or concerns of every homeschooler.  I was assigned the topic on Starting Your Homeschool Journey,  If you are just about to start, or would like to  refresher  or some recalibration, come to this session.

It is my prayer and desire to be able to assist each one who decides to attend this workshop as they launch into the wonderful, amazing, exciting, faith stretching, pruning, heartwarming, memorable, truly worth it , once in a lifetime experience of HOMESCHOOLING!

So, here is a sneak peek.. summarized in three words and three simple introductions on what we will be able to take up in 45 minutes.



It is the beginning. It is a a new chapter in your life.  Or it maybe, there may be a need to re-start and jump tart. Hopefully, we get to give you some principles and yes, practical tools on creating your learning environment, learning about educational philosophies, learning and teaching styles, “classroom” set up/management, scheduling .


You are not simply bringing home your child’s former school into your home. This is YOUR journey. It is personal, it is unique and yes, you will have to carve up YOUR own path. Many principles, materials, best practices, and joint classes can be shared with other homeschoolers, but in the end, it is YOUR JOURNEY.   Let me help you, carve YOUR own journey,


Whether you plan to only do this for a year or for a lifetime ( haha, there are days that homeschooling will feel like that though),  it is no SPRINT. I would like to see it as a marathon where you need to know   the distance and the distractions/disturbances/detours /dangers/delights that will lead you to the finish line, prepare well for it, and enjoy the ride, or should i say the run! It won’t be easy and you’ll need a whole lot of commitment, but there are amazing rewards along the way and if you finish well, wow, wow, wow is all I can say.  I will try to guide you as well as you prepare to tackle  the day to day “to dos”  yet have a solid grasp on the bigger picture of homeschooling.

Let me end this short introduction with this saying from  Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. ” 

Luke 14:28-29 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you.

phc-2016-from-roots-to-wings-fb-banner to register!

3 Weeks to Go to the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 !

I would like to make an appeal to all homeschoolers to make time to attend this once a year gathering of Philippine Homeschoolers !  Consider it a wise investment for your homeschooling journey.  I can assure you that it will truly be more than “Worth it”.  I still vividly remember the first big conference I attended at the St Francis Square with Ms. Debra Bell, the author of the The Ultimate Guide for Homeschooling (available locally at Learning Plus Book Store).  And  I still remember the warmth, the peace, and assurance that filled my my heart after listening to her speak. One thing I remember quite well, and still find myself quoting her again and again.  Though not verbatim, this was the most  impactful message for me then, “Instill the love for learning! Oh, your children will have many gaps for sure since we can’t attempt to cover everything. However, when your children come to the point that he realizes he has those gaps, he will gladly and passionately learn what needs to be learned. So chill!”

This year’s line up  is truly exciting. Imagine 4 keynote gifted speakers tackling these life changing, essential homeschooling /parenting topics? Mother-Daughter Homeschoolers, Ms. Deonna Tanchi- Ms. Joy Tanchi will tandem teach on “Building a Firm Foundation“.  An international well sought after speaker and education expert, Mr. Andrew Pudewa will be handling, “The Art and Science of Helping Children Learn Well” and superb and dynamic speaker, founder of the Catholic Filipino Academy, Mr. Bo Sanchez  will share about,  “Leaving a Legacy for Our Children.” If these powerful messages do not encourage you to homeschool forever (Joke only!), and to do so with a bigger, worthier picture in mind, I really don’t know who or what will.

To get a better view of what’s in line, here is the planned program:

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 Wow,  I am so excited to see from the details of the program that as the conference’s title clearly says, “From Roots to Wings: Homeschooling Through the Stages”, this conference indeed meets every homeschooler or soon to be homeschooler where they are currently at!

Wait, did you see my name on the program? Yes, I will be handling one workshop on “Starting Your Journey” with the emphasis on “Your” as I will try to help homeschoolers personalize their journey as they carve their own homeschooling paths!  Oh, please, click here and register soon. And if you are part of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines Facebook Group, wouldn’t this the perfect place to finally meet all the other homeschoolers and so we can actually engage with one another beyond profile photos ,updates and comments?

Apart from all this, I so love browsing (yes, can’t shop much since our last homeschooled son (of 4) has all the hand me downs and shared material from his older siblings) in the exciting expo ( 50 or so  booths) of homeschooling/parenting material! I remembering purchasing my most favorite and most used material and learning tools from homeschooling conference expos!

Just in case, you are not yet convinced to join us this year, I searched online for more reasons to attend this year’s homeschool conference, and viola, guess where I was led to?  Our own keynote’s speaker, Andrew Pudewa’s blogpost on “Why Attend a Homeschool Convention This Year?”

“Teaching is the overflow of the soul of the teacher to the soul of the student.” To do that, of course, the teacher’s soul must be full. Yes, we can read stuff. We can watch videos. We can pray. But for so many of us, the busyness of life makes all those things we can and should do to fill ourselves up somewhat less important than the crisis of the moment. (And in homeschooling, there always seems to be a crisis of the moment!)

In reality, a conference is a retreat—a place to gather with like-minded people, see and hear new ideas, ask questions, and contemplate. Even if the talks you attend aren’t the “incredible” talks that change one’s life, there are ideas everywhere, and I’ve found that one small idea from an unexpected source can improve my life forever. Sometimes those ideas don’t even come from speakers or workshops, but from one-on-one conversations with other homeschooling parents.

So, see you there! If this post made you finally decide to click and register, do leave a comment at the end of this post, please!

P.S. I’d like to personally invite you as well to support Visions of Hope Foundation booth as it participates to raise funds for educating and caring of poor children in our country.  They will be selling new elementary and high school Philippine textbooks (in marked down prices)  along with  foundation shirts and mugs.  The Homeschoolers of the Philippines pins will be sold in this booth as well.  Visit us, ok?


Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”


National Homeschooling Day Tagline Making Contest is On! Join Now!



Here are the mechanics:

  1. Only members  of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines, Teens and Tweens Homeschoolers of the Philippines and Homeschooling the Early Years  FB Groups are eligible for join.  
  2. Multiple entries are allowed per family.
  3. The tagline must be original.
  4. The purpose of the tagline is to promote homeschooling.
  5. Email all entries to Include your full name and mobile number in your submission.
  6. Deadline for all entries will be on Oct 19, 2016,12 noon.
  7. Winning tagline will be announced via Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page and the family will be notified via email. Winning tagline will be used for all marketing and event collaterals for the first ever National Homeschooling Day for the Philippines on March 3, 2017.
  8. Prizes include Family Passes (2 Adults and 2 Children) for Kidzania-Manila, Pure South Organic Products Gift Pack, Assorted Homeschooling Materials for the entire family, Homeschooler of the Philippines shirt and pins and a Star Wars Umbrella. Prizes are worth around 8,000 Pesos!

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Making Science Come Alive Part 2 : The CardioVascular System

So, we’ve covered the basic cell and how these cells are viewed as part 1 of this Science series.  Since our homeschool microscopes are not as versatile or powerful, we can either ask them to draw using a simple worksheet the various images (usually there are pre made slides in a microscope kit) of various samples of “tissue’.  Or you can make your own simple slide of hair, a tiny speck of dust, water from pond, or even your own blood ( if you can prick yourself for some sample).  We can opt to just google for “microscopic image of _____________” and let our students copy and color using the same worksheet  and identify them.  As they do this, you can read aloud more about the cells they are copying. We worked on copying a bacteria, fungi and a heart muscle cell (as part of our upcoming lesson).   You may opt for other cells like an amoeba, a virus, skeletal muscle or skin cells.  The options are limitless. 

We also did to make play dough images of some cells we learned about.

The skin ( Epidermis, Dermis with the hair and glands, blood vessels)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)

At this point, it would be good to remind your students that  a billion/trillion cells make up a organ/system in your body.

We then proceeded to discuss the Cardiovascular or Circulatory System.    When kids encounter big words as such, be sure to train them to try to understand these words by trying to get into root word analysis.  You may also introduce a bit of Latin as well and explain why anatomy terms mostly are based on Latin words.  Cardio – heart, Vascular – Vessels or passageways for blood. Circulatory – circle, or circulate.  It is a continuous cyclical process of pumping and receiving blood. So with the remaining play dough we had (oh these tubs were awesome finds, maybe 10 years ago from Toy Station in Rockwell) We had all colors! Now were down to the last tub (like an ice cream tub), pink and it suited us well. A doctor friend really thought it was closely resembling a hear which we dissected in anatomy class way back. We first read about the heart/circulatory system and watched some videos . You can ask your kids to take notes as you watch.  You may opt to use these templates  or worksheets to demonstrate basic parts of the heart. Here is another video. With a good model or diagram to follow, Gino then has a go!


Can you identify the basic parts? Right Atrium, Tricuspid Valve, Right Ventricle, Left Atrium , Mitral Valve, Left Ventricle, Interventricular Septum (This is an opened up view of heart, if you lift the front covering. Ask your student to get the amount of dough equal to his fist, that is approximately the size of his heart. Now here is a tip:  Arteries- AWAY. They bring oxygenated blood AWAY. Arteries, Away.  As for Veins… forgive me here.. VACK. as in Back. They bring blood blood back to heart/lungs for oxygenation. There are a few exceptions like Pulmonic Artery, brings blood from the Right Ventricle to the Lungs for oxygenation .
A Breast surgeon friend said, “Wow, may coronary arteries pa.!” Arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood! We had to do that so I could explain what happens in a heart attack!

Forgive me for my excitement but now that the students know the basics, we can spice it up a bit by giving some examples of abnormalities or illnesses of these organs. I punctured a hole in the wall of the heart that decided the left and right side and said, many babies are born with holes in these walls. Many naturally close at some point but others may need surgery to close the hole because you can’t have blood from different chambers mix!

Then you can even go further and demonstrate what happens with blocked arteries that may cause hypertension or even a coronary attack ( heart attack! Please remember attack involving the decreased or lack of oxygen to the heart is a heart attack while that which involves blood supply to the brain is a cerebral stroke.   Can you google what is the medical term for a heart attack?  Comment below for your answer. If you want to extend the lesson, you can even talk about Healthy Practices in keeping your arteries clog free!

He actually should not be smiling here because his artery (using play dough and a toilet paper roll) is completely blocked!

If you have a stethoscope at home, have a go and listen to each other’s heart!  Count the beats per minute. Use Math here. Multiply the number of beats per minute  x number of minutes per hour, then hour many hours per day and viola, you can figure out how “awesome” our heart is!  While you’re at this, do some 5-10 minutes exercise and listen to your heart again. Your kids will truly be amazed at the big difference in  the beats per minute soon after you  move around!  Without a stethoscope, you can use your own pulse taken using your index finger on your inner side of wrist or on your carotids in your neck. Try to get your own pulse.  Do not use your thumbs for they have their own pulse! For older children, you make them research about the common pulse points and let him/her demonstrate such as this! You can assign a pulse log so he can see variation within the day! How exciting? Sorry! am really a nerdy Science person!

As mentioned, I super love relating seemingly Academic Stuff to “deeper stuff”.  I would probably use the verse below as we start the day and eventually relate it to our Science lesson on the heart. How does one spiritually and physically guard ones heart?  Wow, that’s a valuable application exercise , right there!

Oops, there was just so many things to share about this system, we will have part 3 then for our genetic material/ DNA topic. Have a heartfelt, heart full session with your students!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.


Making Science Come Alive Part 1

I love Science. It is just so fascinating.  I still remember devouring that TIME magazine issue in the late 1980s featuring the amazing discoveries about that immune system. That and all the World Book Encyclopedias on Health really propelled my quest to earn my degree in Medicine.  Though Medical School was tough, the awe and fascination for the wonders of Science lingered.

I guess, that’s why I am a very enthusiastic Science teacher.  I have this feeling that I will do the subject such injustice if our Science lessons become boring and tedious.  I have to say that these materials have helped make our Science Come Alive:

So here is just a sample of what we went through in Science the past weeks. Our lessons were:

  • Cell and Cell Theory
  • Microscope/Use of Microscope
  • Parts of the Cell
  • DNA / Introduction to Genes
  • Plant/ Animal Cell
  • Cells->Tissue->Organ->System
  • Cardiovasuclar System
  • Introduction to the Hematologic System ( Blood)

When I think of how to teach a specific lesson, I always consider the following:

  1. How to  make it interesting and applicable
  2. Integrating the various senses ( Sensory Activation/ Integration) through use of interesting videos, doing step by step projects, looking for stories that can also reach out to other aspects of the student’s life ( emotion/ character/beliefs)
  3. What is available ( and of course, the 3 Rs of reuse, reduce, recycle) : Materials and Reference Materials/ Models
  4. Relate it to current events
  5. How to turn lessons into unit studies and find connections with other subjects (Sometimes, I can only find connections to one subject, but there are times, a whole unit study is born) .
  6. If Art projects can be incorporated

As I keep all these in mind (sometimes I take notes , but many times, ideas comes in a spur of the moment fashion), I then mix, combine, balance and alternate.  I try to intersperse lessons so as no to create information overload,  note taking fatigue or boredom: a bit of lecture here, then a video there and then working on steps in a project later on.  Is there a formula? No, just trust your instincts or better yet, a more “scientific”basis would be to observe your student’s non verbal ( or verbal, if they’re bold enough) cues if they need a break or need to spruce things up a bit.

So let me share with you our lessons through photos:

It’s good to start with the basics of Microscopy and Cell Theory.  Simply because the students need to understand how “microscopic” cells and details have been discovered and visualized.  We purchased a basic middle school level microscope with 1200x as highest magnification many years ago and with 4 children, it was a good investment. I think it was less than Php 2000.00 then.




You may use a simple worksheet template for this as well.  You can also check some youtube tutorials on the use of a basic microscope.

In trying to explain cells or atoms,  I used to use styrofoam as a learning to tool.  However, we had this cloud foam product for the longest time in a cabinet of boxed toys/activity kits. Oh wow, what a treasure ! It looks like cells and they attach together like play dough! Eureka moment indeed.



And so we go deeper in the the study of cells : structure and parts. Many years ago with our older boys, we did the edible cell in our homeschool Monday Gang,  The cell was made of rice, vegetables and macaroni uncooked noodles.  (I’ll try to look for a photo!)  The cytoplasm was made of rice glued as the floor on an illustration board and the organelles were from carrots, cabbage, onions, mongo seeds and other veggies that resembled the cell parts.  The cell membrane was made up of elbow macaroni!

This school year, we decided to follow Apologia Creation Science Anatomy and Physiology Textbook’s activity using everyday pantry or kitchen stuff.  We improvised on a few things. Look!

Can you identify the main organelles in our cell?




So we then proceeded to  cells make up tissues and groups of tissues make up organs.   Look at Gino’s heart, lungs and liver!


I’m getting too excited here but will have to take a break!!!!   Watch out for Part 2 as we delve into a the Circulatory System and dissect the DNA!


1 Corinthians 12:12-20

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”