A Blessed Heritage- History Curriculum Giveaway!

When I was in Elementary school I hated Social Studies. It was unbelievably dry, boring, and full of facts I simply did not want to commit to memory. As I moved on to high school things didn’t get any better. Boring wars taught by boring teachers after lunch. Spare me! In fact, it wasn’t until college that I began to love history. I met a professor that made history come alive. I remember thinking to myself back then that if I ever had kids, I pray they get a teacher like Dr. Hancock who can make history jump off the pages!

As I was researching curriculum for the 2017-2018 homeschool year, I thought about why my college professor succeeded in making his students hungry for history. What did he have that others seem to be missing? because they all seemed to have the passion, but it didn’t translate well in their teachings. Then it hit me – he didn’t use textbooks; He used living books! And not only did he use living books, but he used diverse living books. I could see people that look like me in quite a few of them, something that was rarely possible for me in my high school history books.

So obviously I began searching for books just like that to share with Johanna. I wanted a curriculum filled with living books, but that I didn’t have to put together. I’m a big fan of not reinventing the wheel. What I know for certain is that history textbooks seem to be very White washed. If you believe what you read in them, then African Americans were first barbarians, then slaves, then hey MLK Jr., Rosa Parks,  Malcolm X, and Barack Obama! That’s all we amount to in many books, and Native Americans were just happy to break bread with pilgrim folk.

If you’re a person of color, or just a parent wanting to make sure that history is presented to your child as authentically as possible, that’s pretty frustrating. So you know I was beyond excited when I came across a history curriculum written by an African American mother that was inclusive of people that look like me.

A Blessed Heritage is a curriculum put together by Belinda Bullard. Right on the front page of her website she explains that they offer “a more diverse portrayal of American history for a more diverse generation of students.

Once I read that and perused the website, I knew exactly which history curriculum we would be using for the upcoming school year, and I just had to speak with Mrs. Bullard. I was blessed to be able to interview her via email to give you all some insight into how this curriculum came about:

H+C Mama: How long have you been a homeschooler? What made you decide to homeschool?
BB: We are entering year 15 or 16 (it’s been long enough that I have forgotten how long it has been!) of our homeschooling journey. I wish I could say that I responded to the voice of the Lord via some burning bush or a calling that kept me up at night, but in truth, our story is far less awe-inspiring and much more practical! We were both the epitome of urban professionals, chasing the American dream and realizing the consequences thereof to our family dynamic as well as our time and energy. When our oldest was a baby, we met a couple that were homeschoolers, but otherwise, we had little exposure to what seemed like a great concept–just not for us. When we found out we were expecting our third child, we started thinking seriously about making changes that would allow us to spend less time traveling for our careers and more time being a family. Memories of that homeschooling family we met earlier became more and more a part of our discussion about what should change, and a month after our third child was born, we “officially” became a homeschooling family.

H+C Mama: Why did you create A Blessed Heritage? Did anyone inspire you to do so?
BB: A Blessed Heritage was the result of my own passions regarding how I wanted to educate our children. Specifically, my hope was to accomplish the following:

1) to help them understand who they are in the larger picture of life
2) to instill pride in them regarding their past, present, and future as African-Americans
3) to point them continuously back to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior

Having said that, if there was a primary inspiration, it would be our three children. As I began to put resources together, however, different people would come to me (as confirmation, I believe) that there was a larger need for these types of products. Most of us have to do the same leg work to create what I often refer to as inclusive history, and so I saw our history series as a one-stop shop. Additionally, I was a training manager for several years before I walked away from corporate America, and I continue to teach students locally and long-distance. All of that curriculum design training and experience served me well in putting together the curriculum that is now in place. Finally, I saw the opportunity to share multi-cultural history in light of what is God’s plan. I did not want to leave whole eras and people out based on comfort level, as traditional curriculum do; I did not want to present our history in a vacuum, or present it from a place of anger or hatred. I wanted to integrate the story we all know, featuring our presence and the presence of other races and ethnicities who go unmentioned in traditional history curriculum, and tell that same story from a Christian worldview.

H+C Mama: How should blessed heritage be used? As a spine, a supplement?
BB: Each volume of our products (we now have a 2-volume set for elementary, middle school, and  high schoolers) is created to be a stand-alone, 1-year history curriculum. At the elementary level, we do not use a spine, but instead tell the story via living books. The purpose at that level is to introduce American history and acquaint young students with people and faces that will become increasingly important as they uncover deeper truths. We do use a spine at the middle school level, where we delve deeper into American history and begin to think more critically about what happened and why. The reading list is more comprehensive and challenging, and the activities are geared more toward independent research and understanding. Finally, we refer to the same spine used in the middle school level, but the expectation is that children generally know the outline of American history when they reach high school. That curriculum is presented more so in survey format, highlighting key eras and events, and engaging students in more critical thinking and writing about this country, how we arrived in our current situation, and what role each of us plays in changing our future.

Again, all Blessed Heritage products can be used as stand-alone products, but I have a number of customers who love the curriculum they have and simply want to add our curriculum as a supplement. This is also easily done, as we have a reading list and activities that can be incorporated into another history study without too much manipulation.

H+C Mama: Can we expect more African-American focused curriculum from you?
BB: Absolutely! There are other history products in addition to our core curriculum, including our line of podcasts. The podcasts are what I call “history shorts,” geared to edu-tain those students and families who love auditory tools and might not prefer an extended session over books and notebooks. They “hook you in” with life lessons from some people you might not have heard of, like Bill Pickett, or A. Philip Randolph, or Madame C.J. Walker.

Beginning in 2017, we will also introduce a number of other supplemental products that will continue to broaden our knowledge of people of African descent. Plus, I will revise our elementary curriculum to include more skill sets and activities for little hands. I only wish my fingers kept up with my mind in getting all of the ideas out and published, but with the Lord’s help, I will get there! Keep watching for new products on our blog, and on our website.  Also, our newsletter subscribers get the earliest sneak previews and our subscriber discounts!
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I hope that interview left you as excited as I am because thanks to A Blessed Heritage, one of you will win volume 1 of Our History, HIS-Story ! Enter thru rafflecopter below and the winner will be announced on Friday, July 28 at noon! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Navigating Badlands Play Space

I love summer, I really do. However, when it is 90 degrees outside I have very little interest in taking the kids outside to play, and frankly they would prefer to not get burnt by the sun as well. Because of this I am always looking for really shaded playgrounds, or indoor play centers that will allow Johanna to run wild and free without me worrying that she will get a heat stroke. That is why I was beyond elated to hear of a brand new indoor play space in Rockville, Maryland called Badlands. I immediately googled it. I loved what I saw so I immediately posted about it in my DC area homeschool field trip group and set a date.

What I did not love was the price. It is a whopping $22.50 per child over the age of 3 ($12.50 if they are between 1-3)! My immediate response after choking on my Starbucks Midnight Mint Mocha was wait, what??? But looking at that open space I just knew Johanna would love it. I had to say goodbye to at least 5 mochas for awhile. So off we went.

The space was pretty. It was everything an indoor girl like myself could dream of. Rock climbing, tall trees, grass, and tunnels all indoors. You know, away from the brutal sun, the biting mosquitos and all the other creepy crawlers that live out in nature. And there was air conditioning my friends. Air conditioning! This mama was happy.

pARTY ROOM

Badlands also offers 4 party pavilions, which are super cute! If you book your next party there you will get a party host as well as an activity leader. You cannot bring in outside food, except for your cake. This is because Badlands also has its own cafe! Huge mommy perk right there. Isabella and I enjoyed some vital vittles while big sister rock climbed like a boss. There is also a Workshop where kids and adults can use real tools to make all the things, a Builders Room, Ropes Course, Screening Room, and an Exhibit that will change what will be featured every 3 months. For our visit it housed butterflies! It’s an interactive exhibit which makes it very, very cool.

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So, I’m going to sound like a total weirdo when I say this, but one of my absolute favorite areas of Badlands was the bathroom area! Behind quite a few doors (I didn’t count, but there were at the least 5) there were individual bathrooms that smelled amazing and looked sparkly clean. Right outside of the bathrooms was a nice, clean, sterile looking waiting area. There is nothing worse than going to an indoor playground and finding the bathrooms to be completely disgusting…except port-o-potties. I don’t think anything beats those for me. Yack!

Johanna thoroughly enjoyed her time at Badlands. She played for a solid 3 hours and still wasn’t ready to leave. I was though. Adult A.D.D. is real. While I found just a couple of areas that could use improvement, I really did enjoy it overall.

Obviously Badlands won’t be a regular part of my life at the current price and with it being so far from me (Rockville is quite a hike for us), but I’m so glad that I enjoyed it, and I can see us having a party there in the near future.

To see more of our adventure at Badland, checkout my latest youtube video. Don’t forget to subscribe and give it a thumbs up!

 

Badlands Play Space
301.618.0009
5200 Randolph Road, Rockville, MD 20852
Open 9 am to 6 pm Tuesday to Sunday (Closed Mondays)

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A Little Bit of Patience, and a Whole Lot of Grace

3 years ago I was in a job that caused me great turmoil. My coworkers were amazing. The mission of the job was incredible. My boss was a nightmare! The company perpetrated itself to be something other than what it was. It was becoming increasingly hard to get up in the morning. When I left from that very weird environment in June, I did so with the intentions of finding another job in my field by the end of summer. However, summer was gone before I could even really feel the heat, and then I blinked and it was Turkey eating time. Johanna and I found ourselves at odds. School for her ended in June and by mid-July I was teaching her. I figured she had to do something during the day. I couldn’t have her just sitting there watching that God awful Caillou all day. That’s when I came across  easy peasy online homeschool and unbeknownst to me at the time, our homeschool life was born. By February I had long stopped actively trying to find a position, and my husband had given me the green light to homeschool seriously. For 2 years I homeschooled like a boss! And then…I had another baby.

Isabella changed everything.

I came home from the hospital when coop had already been in full swing. My MIL was taking Johanna for me every Friday since obviously I couldn’t. I didn’t even return to coop until sometime in October. My teaching was sketchy at best. Some days we got through our full curriculum. Other days I was just happy we were able to do math and reading. Isabella shifted our entire world.

Isabella is a light sleeper. She also has constantly been ailed. We’ve been to the emergency room far more times than I would like to recount. She’s had more issues than most babies I personally know. Is it because of her being a preemie or IUGR? We don’t know. Maybe. But it has been rough. It has been rough mentally, emotionally, and physically. There are many days when I am completely drained and just want to throw up my hands. It’s only by God’s grace that we finished out this school year. Unfortunately, it has left Johanna inbetween grades because mommy just could not parent or teach some days. One of the kids was sick every month, including a time between february and march when Johanna had the worse fever of her life and I was scared crapless.

I spent a lot of this school year scared crapless. It caused me to be paralyzed and unable to fulfill my duties as a homeschool mom this year.

This summer I have an almost 1 year old and a 6 year old. Johanna will still be between 2 grades by the end of august.  Currently she is kindergartner/1st grader in reading and a 1st grader in math. She will probably be in 2nd grade math by the time September rolls around, as well as art and health, and 1st grade reading.

We have somewhat found a rhythm again. Isabella has 2 scheduled naps, so we work around those for the day. Sometimes she still requires me to hold her, so it’s not all smooth just yet, but I’m prayerful that in the coming months the kinks will be worked out. Johanna has calmed down a bit. Having a sibling has brought her great joy, but it has also been a hurdle for her to jump. For awhile she started acting like a bratty 4 year old again, and that made my husband and I lose it! I tried to be understanding, but honestly, I just wanted everyone to shut up and get over whatever was ailing them. Did I mention that I was mentally, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted?

Being a homeschooler of one child was already a little bit of a challenge. I was constantly praising those that homeschooled 3+ kids. Miracle workers you are. Homeschooling means that you have to figure when to switch mommy off and switch teacher on. We are still working out those kinks. It also means dealing with your childs rainbow of moods while trying to help teach them important stuff. It’s making the executive decision to homeschool via netflix for the day because both of you have sucky attitudes and nothing good could possibly come of it. It takes a level of patience and grace that I didn’t know existed until I stepped into this world.

But I still love it. I’m still so glad I chose it even though it means that when it comes to my wants, money is tight. That I have to be selfless 24/7. That in some ways even my very identity has changed. I still love it. Today I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but ask me again when Isabella enters the terrible 2’s. My tune may just change.

Whether you’re stepping into homeschooling for the first time, or doing it with a new baby, know that yes, it is hard! But it is also very rewarding and it does indeed get better. Take some time and remember that you are not on this journey alone.

Let Jesus guide you. He’s there, willing and waiting.

Find your community, whether in real life, through a coop, or in a facebook group. A tribe is waiting to welcome you, embrace you, and help guide you. You just have to look for them.

Remember why you homeschool. On days when you just want to give up and throw in the towel (I had at least 8 of those this year) remember why you do it and remember that God’s grace is sufficient.

Yeah, this was a super rocky year, but I still feel very blessed to be able to live the homeschool life.

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