Be a Blessing!

Last year,  I was invited to speak in a homeschooling conference on the topic of “Conquering Homeschool Fatigue.”  As I was about to wrap up my preparation, God was quick to remind me of something very valuable .  I was reminded of this verse in Proverbs  11:15 , ” He who refreshes others will themselves be refreshed.”

It may seem quite ironic but truly the Word is true in this promise. Homeschooling will be tiring and draining if the direction is always inward. If all you’re in for is how to raise wonderful, smart and happy children, it is going to get tiring at some point.

As Christ’s followers, we desire to be part of the circle blessing not merely as recipients but also as givers. So we find opportunities in our homeschooling to bless others.  As early as toddlers and preschoolers, we can teach  the virtues of humility, compassion and  generosity. We can encourage ways  on how they can bring comfort and joy to others no matter how young our students are.

And as they say, “Charity begins at home.”  We then seek to extend the blessing to the one nearest: a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, a neighbor, a person in the hospital, a helper?  Who do you think needs encouragement ? Who do you think can you bless?

Blessings come in various forms such a commitment to pray  for a sick friend,  writing a get well soon card for someone in the hospital,   visiting a grandparent, or even just giving some cookies to a new neighbor.

We can incorporate this in our daily/weekly schedules. If you pray together as you begin homeschooling, then  have a short time discussing those who may need your prayers as a family. Write it down, if you have a  homeschooling prayer list.  Is anyone’s birthday coming up? Pray for that person.

As part of Language/ Creative Writing, you may challenge your students to write to their grandparents or some cousin who lives abroad.  For a coming birthday of someone you’d like to bless,  allot some time for Art to create cards.

In summary, here are some simple and doable examples :

1.  Card making  –  Make it your ART activity for the day  to make their own cards .

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Card Making – One of our favorite Art activities

 

Tita Chel so happy with Marco's DIY birthday card.
Tita Chel so happy with Marco’s DIY birthday card.

 

Card with buttons and cloth
Card with buttons and cloth

 

"Thank you, Raya!"
“Thank you, Raya!”

 

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For Lola LIssa and Lola Emma

 

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“Turn Art to bless a HEART.”

 

 

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Jesus is Born by Gino
Jesus is Born by Gino.

 

2. Making Gifts

If you have budding artists, you can encourage DIY gifts for Grandparents, Dads, or other loved ones. Raya loves to sew and paint:)  So for many years now, she has been giving hand made stuff and it has been really wonderful seeing the smiles as they unwrap their gifts. Gilbert and I have been recipients as well of this, from aprons to cross-stitched frames, to flower arrangements:)

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My homeschooled niece Kaila has an amazing gift of paper folding (origami). She created a frame for Lola Emma using this amazing talent!

 

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Raya’s secret Christmas gift to her parents.

 

3. Flower Arrangement –  Just google youtube videos on flower arranging for whatever flower you would like to do.

My parents are both in their 80s.  It has been  a difficult time health wise  and we have found ourselves in and out of the hospital for the past 2 or so years. Dad doesn’t engage much and prefers to sleep and lie down most of the time.  This is heartbreaking for Mom, his wife of 59 years!  So we all try to do our part to “cushion” the blow and yes, homeschooling is a great avenue to include your children in this endeavor.  For all their 59 years, we have witnessed, rain or shine, in good times and bad times, a bouquet of flowers from Dad  for Mom’s birthday, their wedding anniversary and Valentines. 🙂  For their 58th Wedding Anniversary and Valentine’s Day ( 7 weeks apart),  our homesCool decided to help Dad continue on with this lifetime promise — and included flower arranging in our Art/HELE activity. Oh it was pure joy. We sourced the flowers from Dangwa/ Alabang Market to save on cost.  Imagine for Mom’s 80th birthday, the entire clan attempted to give her 1000 roses  (some where in other forms like origami, paintings, printed on a dress or bag.)

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Even the boys helped cut flowers and arrange in vases

 

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Raya learned how to make a bouquet for Lola Emma and Lolo Dony’s 58th Wedding Anniversary.

 

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“We have to help Lolo fulfill his promise to Lola!”

 

4. Going the extra mile for others

For her 80th birthday, Language Arts session was turned into Poetry Making for Lola Emma. They read the poem during her birthdday celebration.

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Take a break from HomesCool and visit an elderly relative.  Here, I think, we also interviewed Owa about the Japanese War and how her family was spared from the rough times up north in Ilocos. We miss Owa, a constant source of stories who passed away last year.

The only Great Grandmother, Owa, my children had a chance to know and bond with. Miss you, Owa.
The only Great Grandmother, Owa, my children had a chance to know and bond with. Miss you, Owa.

 

5. Responding to people in need –

There will always be people in need around us.  And we can always find ways to help.    The Bible in Ephesians 2;10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  During the typhoon  Ondoy in 2009 when many areas in NCR and Central Luzon were flooded, we could not homeschool in a business-as-usual fashion.  We knew of  many evacuation centers near our home with Filipinos who will surely be blessed with warm, home cooked meals.  

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What started as a one family and one kitchen effort became a community movement as more homes sent food and volunteers for repacking of warm meals wrapped in banana leaves.

 

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The kids took their spots in the assembly line of making “binalot” with adobo and boiled egg with rice. On other days, it was lumpiang shanghai.

 

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We just thought that maybe after days of probably “instant noodles”, we could “refresh” others with this warm, home cooked meal wrapped in banana leaves.

 

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Kids packed, counted and labelled.

 

The "Binalot Movement" was so contagious, cousins and neighbors quickly came to help feed hundreds in evacuation centers.
The “Binalot Movement” was so contagious, cousins and neighbors quickly came to help feed hundreds in evacuation centers.

 

Typhoons will continue to come  so we try to do our part whenever we can .

Relief Goods
Relief Goods

 

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Rallied kids and other children to make cards for the children of Ormoc for Christmas after Yolanda struck in 2013.

 

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Inspirational books for the children of Ormoc. Kids helped wrap as well

 

God wants His children to love, bless and encourage one another. HomesCooling can provide many ways to teach this very fundamental foundational truth in life . So as  you teach, there are days when there will be a tug in your heart to do something for someone or for a family. Include your children in the process as you respond to this tug in your heart.   A time will come, you will be surprised when God will move your children’s hearts to bless someone.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Luke 6: 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Top 12 Favorite Projects, So Far!

Project week or weeks is our kids’ favorite time of our HomesCooling quarter.  Most of the time,  as we are completing the theoretical lessons (via discussions, reading, watching or videos), some projects are already  being conceived in our kids’ excited minds! Why do projects?  Having witnessed and experienced 13 years of HomesCooling, I’ve come to that relieving conclusion that our children learn most experientially. As mentioned in an earlier post, fun is crucial in unlocking the learning door.  In addition, when the child is able to teach the lesson back, demonstrate it or find ways to apply in real life settings, then we know learning had indeed taken place.

There are projects which may take the whole quarter to finish but there are those that can be done in one to two weeks.   Younger children will prefer those that can be done in a faster amount of time since they are in that stage that may have lesser patience and greater need for gratification in a lesser amount of time.  There are however projects that can be done in stages and even take a year to finish.

As a multilevel HomesCooling family, I’ve also seen solo and group projects. I don’t think I need to explain why group projects are more fun and enjoyable. There was a time however when I only had one student in eldest, Vince. I guess you could say it wasn’t totally done on his own because I was his partner and so it was still fun in that way. Oh I still remember those days with Vince when our small plastic animals, sea or land, would find its way to all sorts of media:  real sand, play sand, water, colored water, gelatin! Those photos have to be scanned since we weren’t using a digital camera then ( oh dear, a vintage HomesCooling moment there!)

What I love about group projects among siblings are the following:

1) The amazing bonding ( Can you imagine the fun? Can you imagine siblings  teaching each other, trying to resolve conflicts ? )

2) The priceless value of helping one another

3)  How learning is reinforced in all levels. As the project is being done, I maximize the time by reviewing the lessons and each child is able to hear each other’s lessons (it’s a lecture in disguise!)

4) Learning patience, cooperation, humility, leadership, being a follower, etc

5) Having “tangible” memories , a product that can serve as memorial stones of the learning and the experience

6) Project materials can focus on recyclable and inexpensive materials

7) Less load on the teacher  ( Hope the kids don’t get to read this part.)

As I tried to unearth HomesCool photos and interviewed the children, here are some of the BEST projects so far. “So far” because   some are still  hidden in photos in some  unreachable folder or in unscanned photos. I plan to make a separate post for each project in detail, with more photos. So here goes:

1.  Gino’s Sari-Sari Store

Gino's fundraiser project for a LEGO Toy:)  Siblings Marco and Raya came to give their full support
Gino’s fundraiser project for a LEGO Toy:) Siblings Marco and Raya came to give their full support

 

2. Gino and Raya’s Giant Car

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Can you see the details on the dashboard?

 

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Did you know that this had 2 license plates? One for Raya, One for Gino!

 

3. The Edible Cell ( Inspired by HomeCooled Josh Buizon and teacher Felichi Buizon)

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Can you name the parts of the cell?

 

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4. The Giant Art Attack in our Hallway ( years long project  with the help of  Painting Teacher Ms. Esther Mercurio)

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We now need more walls!!!

5.  The Giant World Map

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See how happy they are!

 

6. Roman Colosseum

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Peekaboo! A dungeon!

 

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7.  Raya’s Store

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8.  Family Belen /Nativity Scene

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9.  Gino’s Viking Ship

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Siblings helped make the shields in Gino’s ship. This was done after a lesson about the Vikings! All from recycled and scrap materials.

 

10. Energy Poster

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Search & Find: Find Thor! Three kids collaborated to summarize a whole quarter’s lesson on ENERGY.

 

11. Solar System 2015

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12.  A Radio Program in Tagalog

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Guess what DMRG stands for?
DMRG!
Complete with costume since from Mama’s experience TV/Radio Stations are cold ! With headphones and coffee mug for the win!

 

I hope this helps you include more projects in your HomesCooling day and experience its benefits.  Don’t forget to take photos so you can chronicle your journey.  I’ll try to make one post for each project so I can explain in detail.  And when I am able to secure more photos of other projects, I will just make updates.  If you’d like to share your thoughts about this post, please leave a comment.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Laro Collaborative Art Exhibit

I call this a perfect event for the entire family.  It had many things quite dear to me:  lots of  colorful and beautiful  art, children, our Filipino culture,  an advocacy to build a playground for children through UNICEF,  time well spent with my first Art teacher(Mommy Emma) and my students  (Raya & Gino), and the touching of ones’ heart by evoking so many childhood memories of play.

Creative Kids /Kids for Kids

Mommy Emma, Gino, Raya and I had such a grand time in this unique “celebration of every child’s right to play through the celebration of Pinoy games.” 

 

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I told my Mom to act “excited” as if to cheer for Raya as she jumped in ‘luksong tinik.” Did you know that Mommy Emma taught Art Appreciation in Maryknoll College and was the owner and directress of “Infant Jesus Kindergarten School” where most of the Pangilinan kids had their preschool years. The school was just 3 houses away from 11 Mahusay St UP Village!

 

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What’s a pamato, Mama?

 

Creative Kids dedicate their 20th anniversary to help raise funds for UNICEF and the building of a playground in a resettlement area in Calauan, Laguna through an artistic exhibit, fun activities and a fashion show.”

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As I went through each artwork, Mom who majored in Creative Arts in UP College of Home Economics, and I were in awe with every piece of art.  Gino and Raya  were amused as well as they saw some of the games featured in the art works which  their Lola and Mama played when they were their age!

As part of homeschool PE and Filipino, I have tried to expose the children  by playing “garter”,  patintero, luksong tinik,  limbo rock, sipa, sungka , and using the traditional trumpo.  For their birthdays, we  did some pabitins  and some form of “hit the pot (palayok)”.  Though not Filipino in origin, we also tried to play jackstones and mahjong.  Prior to visiting the exhibit which happened to be in our favorite mall, Alabang Town Center. I had a mini-lesson with the kids on Filipino Traditional Games and we focused on the Filipino hopscotch , or piko.  Hopefully we will be able to play this soon.  I also discovered that there were many   online videos featuring so many of these games !!!

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Bahay-Bahayan na! Nasaan ang sandok at palayok?

 

 

Didn’t we dream to have that nipa house?

 

Patintero, sino ang patotot?
Patintero, sino ang patotot?

 

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Tropang Trumpo!
Tropang Trumpo!

 

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Damang-dama namin ang saya dito ! Dali, punta na!

 

Guess what? Kaya mo ng "check mark", "falling star"and "hide in the cave" moves?
Guess what? Kaya mo ng “check mark”, “falling star”and “hide in the cave” moves?

 

Taob kayo sa laki ng tsinelas namin !

 

An additional treat for that afternoon  was seeing and chatting with the event’s main organizer,  our family friend, Bambi Manosa.  According to Bambi, they recently transformed her much sought after art school, Creative Kids Studio into an all-year-round project based art studio “where kids can come  together to help other children through their time and talents.”  The program is now called Kids for Kids.

With Creative Kids/ Kids for Kids Champion, Bambi Manosa. The Pangilinans and Manosas are family friends:)
With Creative Kids/ Kids for Kids Champion, Bambi Manosa. The Pangilinans and Manosas are family friends:)

 

So amazing were the art pieces created by the children of Creative Kids, that red dots were all over as most of the pieces were already sold.  Bambi mentioned that a buyer or donor could either buy and take home art work or he could purchase it, and donate the art work to a center for children chosen by Kids for Kids.

There are more activities lined up for this celebration of play and you may check http://kidsforkids.org.ph.  The link also provides information on how to join this advocacy and become another champion for children.

The Laro Collaborative Art  Exhibit runs until May 26, 2015 at the Activity Center of the Alabang Town Center.

If you’re in the mood to actually play these traditional games,  “Tara, Laro!” is set on May16 and 17 in different areas of  Alabang Town Center ( Activity Center, Town Plaza and Corte Extension). The link  has all details!

I recommend this wonderful celebration of play to all families!  Homeschoolers can even create lesson plans and unit studies on this:)  Thanks to Gino and Raya for the photos. We purposely didn’t post all because you should come and experience this for real!  You ought to see the colorful sungkas, the sipa and pabitiin artwork,  sculpted playthings and  the many paintings about famous Filipino nursery rhymes and riddles

Congratulations to Bambi Manosa, Kids for Kids, UNICEF,  Alabang Town Center and all  the other sponsors for this worthy, inspiring, moving and even entertaining, one of kind, art exhibit by children for other children in need.

A giant paper boat! Didn't we all make smaller versions for the flowing canals in our streets?
A giant paper boat! Didn’t we all make smaller versions for the flowing canals in our streets?

 

I grabbed the chance to write down my comments on that giant boat!  C

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Proverbs 11:5 “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

It’s More Fun in HomesCool!

A few days ago, I asked the kids what  were the best activities in our homeschooling journey. As expected, the best and most memorable were the most fun. One of the benefits of having many, multilevel children is   just having more people to enjoy the beauty and fun that comes with homeschooling.  Fun and laughter are truly precious . They are worthy goals to have in your homeschooling day:)

The kids when they could all fit using one desk!
The kids, back when they could all fit using one desk!

 

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Hang those letters!

 

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Water play is always a winner for preschoolers.
Would you believe we picked up trash and sorted them for Math, Science and Social Studies?

 

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Planting is always FUN!

 

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When they’re this small, you only need pillowcases!

 

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When we started homeschooling, “Messy” became our middle name.

 

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Pretend play will never run “out of style.”

 

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“Everyone wants to be a cashier!Didn’t we all? “

 

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Food Pyramid in the kitchen!

 

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Painting for a cause! Gawad Kalinga house in Paranaque

Oh, of course our priority is to develop godly character and set a good academic foundation.  However, i believe, we can ward off a lot of stress  in our day if we just added that “MORE FUN in HOMESCHOOL” goal.  In addition, FUN, for some reason, seems to lock the experience to our and our students’  memory very well.

For the one-child  homeschooling families, the suggestion is to hook up with a playgroup  or a homeschooling co-op/ support group. However, you can still have some form of one-on-one fun with young children . You just have to “think and wonder” like child and PLAY with them.  For those with more than one, just think constantly of activities (projects and experiences) that can involve all your students, no matter how young. It’s all more worthwhile if they’re having fun and helping each other in the process like this joint project of store for the boys’ only sister, Raya.

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What to do with a huge furniture box?

So how do you plug in fun?  I guess, it starts first with our mindset as teachers. We have  to believe in the value of fun. We have to learn to have fun ourselves. I’ve learned about this concept of “flow” almost a decade ago in a book entitled, “Motivated Minds, Raising Children to Love Learning” by Deborah Stipel and Kathy Seal.”   Let me quote:

Learning can be so intense and enjoyable that it hurtles a student into a state that University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow.’ Flow is a feeling of passionate focus, a pleasurable time when work and play merge, when you concentrate deeply to overcome complex challenges.

      Most people ‘remember a time, no matter how brief, when they were swept along by a sense of effortless control, clarity and concentration on an enjoyable challenge,’ explains Csikszentmihalyi. 

     Be on the lookout for the flow states in your child, because it’s a sure sign of intellectual enjoyment you can        encourage.”

Relays!
Relays!
More relays!
More relays!

So I embraced the importance of “flow” in our homeschooling schedule. And as I witnessed one flow after another, one child after another, and experienced the fun, the joy and the added benefit of real learning taking place—I just knew that we were doing something right.  The habit of thinking, “What could be a fun way (usually hands on and activities that involve movement–I have 3 boys!) to teach this concept?” became a lifestyle. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are days when learning can’t be fun due to certain subject matters or the children’s own preferences and/or moods, but more often the good FLOW days will outweigh the days when it seems like something is stuck in the drain and the “flows” are not happening. And I sincerely believe that the more FLOW days we have, the more mentally and emotionally ready, our students become for some lessons that can’t be taught through an exciting project or in a fun activity.

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Have fun homeschooling! CoolHomescoolHomes have fun!

 

Paul in Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice.”

Soft Opening of HomesCool.ph

Oh my! Is this for real? I somehow knew that this had to start at some point. Thankful to Janna & Ian Simpao and Zoe Tuico who helped set this up. And so as the Nike tagline goes, just do it. So here it is. Born April 4, 2015, homescool.ph is a homeschooling blog born from our home. I am Donna Simpao, a homeschooler in the Philippines for the past 13 years. I’ve been married to Gilbert, my college sweetheart, and we have four children, Vince, Marco, Gino and Raya. Our two older boys, Vince and Marco are now in regular schools and we still have Raya, and Gino, in our “leaner” homeschool batch this school year.

Education-wise, I graduated grade and high school from Maryknoll (now Miriam) and completed a degree in Psychology in UP Diliman. I went further to earn a medical degree from UP College of Medicine but shortly after passing the boards, my husband was assigned abroad and I was not able to pursue my residency.

As we settled back in 2001, the wonderful window of homeschooling opened up with the help of my sister, Ate Felichi Buizon, who was then two years into homeschooling. Not only did I open the window but truly opened my heart and all doors of our home as I embraced homeschooling. Homeschooling four children became a full-time career for me eventually as more children came.

Encouragement is so important in the homeschooling community. And this is the main purpose of this blog, to encourage all those who may opt to formally or informally “homeschool” their children. Though this blog may be most helpful to the “official” and registered homeschoolers, we all know that every home is a school for every child. So I guess that explains “dropping” the word “school” from this blog’s name. I’d like to reach out to every parent out there who wishes to make her home a fun and cool place to learn and grow.

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