The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill


Winter is the time of year when I like to curl up in a comfy chair with a blanket and read books. I just finished a terrific book that I would like to share with you.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the endearing story of Jane Fairmont Bell, a young widow, who is the central character in the first book of a trilogy, Tales from Ivy Hill, by  Julie Klassen.  Set in the early 1800’s when coaching inns were the place for people to rest along their journey and get a meal or refreshments, Jane is the proprietor of an inn that her husband had left to her upon his death. Being at a disadvantage since her husband did not include her in the operations of the inn, Jane realizes that she is in risk of losing it due to mismanagement and untold secrets from her husband’s past.

Jane is uncertain as to what to do and certainly needs help with managing and running the inn if she is going to keep it.  Otherwise, not only will she lose her income, but also her home. Who can she trust to help her? Will her brother-in-law with a shady past be someone that she can lean upon or does he have ulterior motives? Can Jane put aside her feelings of inferiority to ask for her mother-in-law’s help? What about the mysterious stablehand who seems to know much more than just about horses? Help comes from a variety of unexpected sources that make this story so interesting.

I was sad when the book ended because I wanted to find out what was going to happen to Jane and the people of the village where she lives. One of my tests of a great book is if I am still thinking about the book several days later and this was definitely the case with The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. I am looking forward to reading the next installment of her trilogy.

61q3qqe98l-_ux250_ Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Her book, The Silent Governess, was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit for more information.

I have received this book for my honest opinion and received no financial compensation.



Passing on a Legacy


I was looking on my bookshelf today and found a book that I had given to my mom nearly 20 years ago. It is called Reflections from a Mother’s Heart. It is a journal that has questions for you to answer about your childhood and is broken into months of the year so you can spend a year filling it in without feeling overwhelmed.

I am such a terrible journal writer that I found a duplicate of this book next to the one I had given my mother. It was given to ME from a friend of mine in 1998! I had begun the journal, but then family came along and I obviously never got to return to it. I also totally forgot about it. lol My goal is to finish this by June so it doesn’t sit on my shelf for another 19 years!

So, if you would like to leave a legacy of early childhood memories that your children can read about later and gain some insight into why you act the way you do, 🙂 perhaps consider completing a journal like this one.

I will leave you with a few questions from the journal so you can see what they are like. Of course, if questions do not pertain to you, then just skip them.

Who gave you your name and why?

Where was your childhood home located? Did you enjoy living there?

Did you have a family pet? What was its name? Describe it.

What toys did you like to play with?

Geography Ideas

Science has proven the more senses you involve when learning something new, the more it will help you to remember it. I can use all the help I can get and I think that might be true for your child as well.

I had the opportunity this summer  to see a book, Draw the USA, that your child can use for geography throughout the years. Using their artistic abilities, amazing maps can be created. Even if she is not an artist, she can still be successful with this since it is a step-by-step drawing book that begins with a basic shape and not attention given to every nook and cranny of the states. Draw the USA is broken into a step-by-step process and can be done as a  year long project as you are studying the states. I can guarantee that your budding geographer will remember the states better using this technique.

If your child would become frustrated with this, then purchase some tracing paper. He will benefit from this and you can always use the book again when he is capable of drawing it on his own. This book will certainly be a resource that you will use time and time again.

If, for whatever reason, you choose not to have your student draw, then you can purchase puzzles of  the United States. As she is working the puzzle, have her say the names of the states as she places it in the correct spot. Hearing, seeing, touching, involve quite a number of senses to aid in memorization.

You can also purchase placemats and ask questions of your children when you eat. For instance: “What state is north of Ohio?” or  “What states are along the west coast?”

When you are studying geography it is beneficial to have other supports or materials to help your student with the concept of landforms and geographical boundaries. I suggest purchasing a large wall map such as this one by Rand McNally so that you can study the states more in depth, looking at physical features such as mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, plains, etc.


Atlases are excellent hands-on tools that children can study maps in greater detail. You can also teach exact location (latitude, longitude) better this way. We use atlases, such as the one pictured below, in my World Geography class when studying geography. Be sure to get an up-to-date atlas if you are studying the world as countries are renamed or even created, South Sudan and Kosovo come to mind.


This author, Kristin J. Draeger, also has Draw the Europe; Draw Africa; Draw Asia; and Draw Canada and you can use the same ideas for teaching geography in these areas of the world as well. Hang your child’s finished works on the wall of your schoolroom when you finish. You may even want to join them and include your drawings on the wall!








Copywork and Dictation

I was just enjoying the beautiful falling snow outside my window and it gave me inspiration to create some quotes with a January theme for copywork and/or dictation. So, why do I think copywork is worth spending time on; isn’t it more busywork? Actually, there are quite a number of essential benefits that I see in this practice.


helps students to become faster with writing, thus, students can complete copying work and writing more quickly.

causes students to slow down and look at the words, helping them with spelling.

helps students who need practice with their fine motor skills.

helps dyslexic students. When students write the letters and make the sounds as they are copying, it helps the brain make the connections between letters and sounds.

helps practice with handwriting. I encourage you to teach cursive to your child. We need our students to be able to read historical documents and they will not be able to do so if we have not taught them to read and write it. Cursive has also been shown to help dyslexic students.

creates an activity for your child to concentrate.

gives the students exposure to wonderful descriptions, quotes, and literature.

provide the opportunity to add artistic flair to the written passages.

Dictation is when you read the passage to your student and they write what you have spoken. Your child studies the passage before you begin the dictation. At first, you can start with you writing the passage and leave a few words out that your pupil must write. The goal is to work up to the point where you read the entire passage and your student writes it.


causes students to listen carefully.

provides the opportunity to see correct punctuation. What better examples than to see how passages are written in actuality instead of your child just reading about it in a textbook.

gives your student circumstances to write quickly and, therefore, will help in taking notes. At the beginning of the year I talk more slowly when I teach than later in the year because I expect my students to be able to keep up, and they are able to do so since they have had practice taking notes.

I have created a copywork page for January with quotes and poems that I believe you find useful. There are some quotes that will lead to some great discussions.  I am including a link so that you can download it for your family’s use. january-copywork-dicatation-passages  I hope you enjoy the cartoon.

My friend and colleague, Rita Cevasco has a couple of videos that she explains copywork in more detail. CLICK HERE She also has a free webinar coming up and a class on spelling and phonics. Signups for these two events are soon.



Pigeon: Helping with Health

Why don’t children in general like to take showers or baths? Maybe it is because they don’t want to take time out because they feel they will miss out on all the fun they are having. Or, the water gets to cold, or they don’t like wrinkly fingers…(those were all of my excuses!)

As I have posted on my blog recently, health is an area that homeschool moms don’t think to include  when teaching. You do not have to use a formal text, but take some time to write down a few topics you are covering so that you can check it off of your “subjects studied this year ” list.

I found a cute book that I think will naturally lead into the topic of personal hygiene. You won’t have to point fingers at your child, but watch the story of Pigeon unfold and hopefully, point out some things that happens to him as a result of needing a bath.

You can watch a video or read the book. I wonder if you can entice your reluctant bath-taker by reading the book to them while they are in the bath?? 🙂