Tag Archives: toys

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.

NGHS Journal: Friday Fun Day, shopping in the prize bucket

4 Sep

The Ward Family — Day 20 — August 31, 2012

I can’t believe we have been in school for one month already!  Friday was a fun day.  After Devotion and Math, Joel got to use the points he earned in August and go “shopping” in our prize bucket!

He had 100 points.  He picked out an angry birds slap bracelet, a pocket fan, and two matchbox cars – a motorcycle and a 2010 Toyota Tundra black just like his dads.


Joel’s “buys”

Then we attended our first outside homeschool activity for the year – Homeschool Skate Day at the Route 66 Roller Rink in Sapulpa.  We took Liz and her girls.  Both boys strapped on skates and had a great time!

The boys at the skate rink.

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.

Play is Child’s Work

20 Sep

By Rosanna Ward

Elizabeth’s post about toys got me thinking about the things we use in our home to help teach our children. I realized that our children probably learn more through play than they do from filling in blanks in a workbook. I look back at our homeschool experience and see this played out time and time again.

There were many times when getting my girls to actually retain instruction was frustrating to them, as well as myself. I found that by turning those lessons into actions, they understood, memorized and retained information more readily.

Trampoline Fun

The trampoline was probably our very best investment. Yes, the trampoline! The trampoline is my children’s favorite “toy.” They not only jump on it, but they hang out with their friends and even sleep there. A few years ago we discovered the joy of jumping while memorizing the countries of Africa. I figured out that I could use jumping on the trampoline (or jumping rope) as a good activity to do while reciting things we were trying to memorize. It really works!

I also take the kids outside and use chalk to write their lessons. The large movement seems to help my kids — Joel especially — focus and remember.

With our older girls, we used money a lot as manipulatives. Money also worked great when explaining negative and positive problems. As small business owner’s kids, they understood how money worked at an early age.

With Joel, starting at the beginning, I also use matchbox cars, M&Ms, rubber sort toys and more to teach basic math skills. Joel is now at the age where we utilize a box I created of “science” stuff: Experiment supplies and things he can take apart, like old radios.

With all my kids, I have also found that K’NEX, Legos, Erector Sets, and other building sets are great educational toys. Last year when studying the Industrial Revolution, we had a contest to see who could invent the coolest invention using K’NEX. I’ve discovered that a great place to find educational toys online is  www.mindware.com.

Sugar cube pyramid

I am a huge fan of unit studies. And since I am a history nut, our units are always centered around historical eras. It is fun to be able to do playful activities that go along with the things we are reading about. When we studied Egypt, we made sugar cube (and Lego) pyramids. When we studied the Vikings, we made Potato Pancakes. We recently made Jamestown replicas. The list goes on and on. The kids seem to not only enjoy learning this way, but they also remember what they’ve learned longer.

Another resource I use quite regularly are movies. We check out a lot of movies from the library and also watch movies on Netflix. When we studied World War II, we watched “The Hiding Place.” During the Industrial Revolution study, we watched a movie about George Muller. I take my children’s ages into account when choosing movies: My teen daughters watch movies my little boys do not. We also like the Drive Thru History and Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution DVD sets.

When it comes to educating your child, I think it is important to think outside the box. One of my goals as a teacher is for my children to learn to love learning and to be lifelong learners, and this can be helped along by adding “play” to their school “work.” There is a German proverb that says, “You can do anything with children if only you play with them.” I agree!

— Rosanna Ward is a devoted wife of almost 19 years and mother of four children, two of which are currently homeschooled. Her oldest daughter has graduated, and her youngest son is a toddler. She is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling for six years. Rosanna loves to study History and Genealogy, and currently resides in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

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