Tag Archives: games

Gotcher Family Thanksgiving

30 Nov
NextGen Homeschool authors Elizabeth, Rosanna, and Renee

NextGen Homeschool authors Elizabeth, Rosanna, and Renée

By Rosanna Ward

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday. This year for Thanksgiving, the Gotcher family gathered in force at my home in Oklahoma. Mom and Dad Gotcher finished their eastern speaking tour here, and Kenny, Renée, and their girls drove in from Colorado. We had a full, crazy loud house, and we had a blast.

Thankfully the weather was nice, and the kids played outside much of the time. There were scooters, skates and bikes everywhere. The cousins enjoyed spending time together and hated being parted at the end of the weekend. There was a new baby this year for everyone to hold: Melody Rosanna Thomas. We enjoyed learning about rocks, cooking together, playing word games, and taking family pictures!

Grandpa taught the kids about rocks one day and took them to a rock museum, the Elsing Museum at ORU. Another day he took them out to a country area where they looked for interesting rocks among the thick exposed rock layers. They found some interesting fossils and brought home a few more rocks to add to their collections.

One of the great things about our family get-togethers is that everyone enjoys pitching in with the cooking, and we all help with clean up. One night Uncle Kenny and his family made delicious chicken enchiladas with all of the fixings. Thanksgiving morning, Jason and Hannah went to the donut shop to make rolls and apple and peach pies. I was supposed to make the turkey, but Kenny turned out to be the expert here, he also made the mashed potatoes and gravy. Grandma made stuffing, Renée made a roasted root vegetable dish and Gulliver’s creamed corn dish passed down in her family that everyone loves, Virginia made hors d’oeurves and decorated the table, Uncle Tony provided the ham and Elizabeth made green bean casserole.


Cousin Audrey made a Razzleberry pie and Grandpa made two of his famous chocolate cream pies.  I guess I didn’t really make anything but I felt like I stayed busy helping out and cleaning up.  e had a great time eating together and then everyone pitched in to help clean up. Then the guys went upstairs to watch football while the rest of us stayed downstairs and played Bananagrams.

Family bananagrams game

Family Bananagrams game

We played a lot of Bananagrams and some Scrabble as well. Our family really loves word games, and Bananagrams gives everyone a chance to play and win because it’s not as complicated as Scrabble. The kids like to play Bananagrams with us, and Leif enjoyed dumping the tiles on the floor whenever he could get a hold of the pouch. It is a great learning game for kids to use their vocabulary and spelling skills at any level and still have a chance to win. We still love to play Scrabble too, of course.

The day before Thanksgiving the whole family got together — all twenty of us — in the backyard to take pictures. The day was beautiful, a bit sunny and a bit breezy, and my daughter Ginny took the pictures. She did a great job: She had to be quick to get all the kids to be still and look at the camera at the same time. After she took a few good shots of the whole family, she took pictures of each family, of grandparents with grandkids, of all the cousins, and of the grandparents with their three children. We only get the chance to do this about once every four years.

Gotcher Family 2012

Gotcher Family 2012

NextGen Homeschool Authors Renee, Rosanna, and Elizabeth

NextGen Homeschool Authors Renee, Rosanna, and Elizabeth

During the time we were together, Renée, Elizabeth and I had some time to sit down together and discuss our NextGen Homeschool blog and where we want it to go. Elizabeth and I introduced Renée to our favorite source for used homeschooling curriculum, a wonderful local bookstore called BiblioMania, where we shopped and talked for a couple of hours. The three of us also spent Black Friday getting pedicures together instead of  shopping, and had a relaxing opportunity to chat some more before the busy weekend’s end.

We are excited for the coming year and the direction we are taking here. Let us know if you enjoy our blog, and if so, we welcome your comments!

Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of 19 years and mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 7-year-old son Joel and her youngest son is a toddler. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling for seven years. Rosanna loves to study History and Genealogy: Her genealogy blog is called “Rosanna’s Genealogical Thoughts.” She and her family reside in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

Toys, Toys, Toys!

19 Sep

By Elizabeth Thomas

During my first year of homeschooling, I realized that play has an important role in our children’s education. I also discovered that the kind of toys we had in our home could make a huge difference.

If you are like me and have girls, you may find toys in your house like: My Little Pony, Zhu Zhu Pets, Brat Dolls, Polly Pockets, etc. These are all OK toys — don’t get me wrong — but my advice is to save your money and think a little more simple and educational. Your kids will love you for it in the end.

Blocks provide endless possibilities for educational use

I try to use toys with my girls as much as possible. We play math games on the driveway with chalk. I have used wood blocks to teach shapes to my three-year-old daughter, as well as manipulatives for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and even algebra and geometry with the older girls. Paper dolls can be dressed up like Puritans, Vikings, police officers, nurses, doctors, and more. You have to start thinking like your child to find ways to teach them something they think they don’t want to learn. What better way than with a little fun and lots of toys, toys, toys?!

Toys can play many roles throughout your school day. So when your children lose interest in the textbooks and seem to be daydreaming, surprise them with a toy. Throw it into your lesson! After all, we want them to love learning.

Remember, my children’s ages range from three to 12 — all girls — but they also have male cousins who are homeschooled and show up from time to time to join us. So I  keep a range of toys around to cover all our bases.

Here are my suggestions for toys that are helpful, educational and fun to play with. I have many of these toys in my home:

  • Paper dolls
  • Shape sorters
  • Chalkboards and chalk

    Chalk can provide creative outlets during lessons

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Art supplies
  • A large mirror
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • Magnetic letters, numbers
  • Frigit refrigerator toys and magnetic gears
  • Toy cars and garage items
  • Toy doctor’s kit
  • Dolls
  • Puzzles
  • Play Dough with cookie cutters
  • Stacking cups
  • Doll house
  • Toy barn
  • Large variety of plastic animals: zoo, farm, sea life, dinosaurs, etc.
  • Board games (peg-board, checkers and chess, Monopoly, etc.)

    Board games have many educational applications

  • Bubbles
  • Balloons
  • Balls (all sizes)
  • Marbles
  • Jacks
  • Toy kitchen with play dishes and food
  • Toy money and register
  • Flash cards
  • Coloring books
  • Reading books
  • Foam bath letters and numbers

Try to stay away from battery operated toys — you are looking for creativity, not distraction. However, I do like Leap Frog toys.

— Elizabeth Thomas is a blessed wife and mom of four girls — Stormie, Rachael, Faith and Cadence — who are all homeschooled. She was homeschooled all through her school years and has been homeschooling for three years. She lives in Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

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