Happy Thanksgiving!

We at Sandbox to Socrates wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Homeschool Wisdom

One Key to Preventing Burnout: Know Thyself, by Briana

The holiday creep has started. Santa is in the mall ringing his bell, and radio stations are playing Christmas carols. The pressure is on, and through all of this you still have a house full of kids who are expecting to eat, wear clean clothes, be somewhat educated, and for mom to hand-make everything, pipe Duchess Potatoes …and you are supposed to do this with with style and ease. Perhaps in kitten heels. At least that’s what society tells you. And it’s not even Thanksgiving as I write this.

The pressure is hard enough as it is, but for some reason, to a homeschooler, it can be utterly excruciating, even to the point of ruining your holiday and leaving you in a hot pile of burnout. I started planning out my next few weeks and almost had an anxiety attack at all of the concerts, recitals, pot-lucks, and cocktail parties I have to go to. Yes, have to. These are my kids, they are important to me, they have been working hard and I will go and clap. I will meet my neighbors, who are throwing a party for the noobs in the neighborhood, because I want to invest that time into knowing the people I live next to. On top of all of that, I have two kid birthdays before Christmas.

I’m an INFJ.  Now, those of you who know what that is will see precisely where I am going with this.

See that “I” as in the first part of INFJ? That stands for introvert. I am extremely introverted. I have to psyche myself up into walking out my door on a good day, let alone a day where I have to make lots of small talk with strangers and actually wear kitten heels. I have one obligation outside of my house this year, and even though it is only one hour a week, it still greatly weighs on me and takes some preparation on my part.

What that also means is that in these next few months, if I don’t want to land in January (where I have four more kids’ birthdays) cursing the day I was born, I am going to have to seriously look at my obligations, and prioritize. See, being an introvert also means that my own people, this fruit basket of my own loins, are extremely draining to me. I am with them all day, almost every day, and with very little time to myself. They all talk, which I love, but even talking with people you love is draining. They make noises I’m not fond of. There are instruments that are loudly practiced, dogs running around, a parrot who is sassy, and I cannot go lock myself in a room because this, all of this, is my responsibility. As it is, most of my free time is spent in prepping for the next day’s lessons, cooking, and cleaning or taking care of the animals. (Yes, my kids do chores, a lot of them. We are a horde.)  So I mean draining not in a bad way, or a regretful way, but in a way that I need to prepare and take account for if I’m not going to be all cranky and sullen teaching them each and every day.  They don’t deserve to have a sullen and cranky teacher and mother. I signed up for them; they didn’t sign up for me. With some self-discipline I can prevent any foul moods that can occur because of too much pressure that I’m putting on myself, or letting others put on me. Meaning, I need to know myself. I need to make sure I’m always on full so I can pour out.

I’m also a Highly Sensitive Person. Go ahead and take the test. I got 23/27. Now, I don’t tell you this stuff so we can all wear spechul snowflayke crowns. I wish I knew this stuff about myself before. I would have saved myself a lot of anger, resentment and tears if someone would have told me that I (should not have gotten a cockatoo when I had three toddlers, an infant, and two dogs) need to adapt my surroundings and my priorities so that I can give the very best of myself to those who are most important to me. And let’s be honest, it seems that everything is pulling on you out in the world.

It’s not selfish to work your life so that you can be the best at what you have to do. I mean, if I had a career outside the home, wouldn’t it be expected that I be the best I could be and fix my environment in a way that made me the most productive for that job? Why is it that when we are homeschool moms, curating our environment sounds like some sort of luxury for the spoiled? We all need systems that work for us, and homeschooling moms need that just as much as anyone else. I need it if they all want me to be sane.

It’s not selfish to find out who you are, and to make your environment and expectations reflect that. It’s a kindness to the people you are raising and those who love you and live with you. It’s a first step in being the best version of yourself so that you have the best of you to give, not the dried out leftovers.


So make it work for you. Write down what is most important to you in these next few months. Even if it is making stockings, or concerts, or baking cookies, block it in. The important stuff doesn’t happen on its own. If you’re like me, the day after you have something outside of the house, you’ll need three days inside the house to work yourself back to normal. Block that in. Save your Yes for the most important things.



Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.


Jack-o-Lantern Soup, by Genevieve

A fall recipe to warm you to your toes!


3 tbs. olive oil

1 diced onion

3 minced garlic cloves

2 cups of sliced carrots

2 cups of sliced celery

1 diced medium yellow squash

8 cups of Jack-O-Lantern guts (not the seeds or strings)

1 quart of broth

1/4 tsp. each of the following: cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, seasoned salt

1/8 tsp. of ground cayenne pepper

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

freshly ground pepper and salt to taste.

Corn for garnish


Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent.


Add broth


add carrots


add celery


add squash


Add pumpkin and cook until vegetables are tender.


Add spices and blend in batches with cream. Garnish with corn and freshly ground salt and pepper.


You may never want to eat anything else again.

Holidays, Thanksgiving

A little about Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving Day draws near in the US, we would like to share some resources and activities to help your students learn more about this holiday.

The origin of Thanksgiving doesn’t seem to have a definite source and is widely debated. What we do know is that many places have observed a formal day of thanks, and the way it looks has evolved through the years.

The first national day of thanksgiving was declared in 1777 by the Continental Congress. Over the years, days of thanksgiving were often declared, but it wasn’t made a permanent national holiday until 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill officially establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

To learn more about the history of Thanksgiving, we recommend these websites:

Activities at

Wampanoag’s “What Really Happened”, an interview

Days of Thanksgiving and Harvest Festivals are celebrated throughout the world by many different cultures.  This slideshow from the TravelChannel highlights 11 of them.

Harvest is a wealth of information about Harvest Festivals from around the world.  There are also several recipes and crafts.

A Thanksgiving Craft by Tammy:

“I’m a big fan of craft projects that will survive the years. Sure, those paper turkey projects are cute this year, but next year? After they’ve been in a box for 360-some days? A little mussed , a little squished. After two or three years in that box? Unrecognizable. I’d rather put the time and energy into helping my child make something that will still be useful and/or lovely several years down the road.

In keeping with the Sandbox to Socrates authentic Thanksgiving theme, I’ve chosen to have my son make finger-crochet napkin rings using decorative cord. (Paracord, which is popular among young crafters, will work nicely too.) I found my cord in the fabric/yarn section of Walmart, near the items needed to make draperies.

I didn’t take pictures of our crochet process, but you can find instructions with pictures HERE using light-weight yarn and HERE using heavy yarn. I prefer the heavy yarn tutorial as it makes the process easier to visualize.

Our results:

Important tip: if you use the decorative cording, wrap the end with tape and cut in the center of the taped area; otherwise your cording will unravel into an ugly mess. The blue tape is only for demonstration purposes, so you can see what I mean. I used clear tape on the actual napkin ring.

Happy Thanksgiving from our homeschool to yours!”

For a less authentic but adorable craft, check out this Thanksgiving Tree plate.

Books about Thanksgiving:

For young readers:

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks (Reading Railroad)

The history of Thanksgiving:

1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving (I Am American)

Thanksgiving: The True Story

A look at how the holiday began and how it has changed over the years:

Thanksgiving: The American Holiday

Creating Thanksgiving Crafts (How-To Library (Cherry Lake))

Additional reading.
Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving

 Look for more recipes, crafts and music coming up next week!  

Great Books, Literature

Jumping the Language Hurdles in the Classics, by Lynne

Virgil Reading the Aeneid to Augustus, Octavia, and Livia, ca. 1790-93 by Jean-Baptiste Wicar

“Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc’d by fate,
And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate,
Expell’d and exil’d, left the Trojan shore.
Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore,
And in the doubtful war, before he won
The Latian realm, and built the destin’d town;
His banish’d gods restor’d to rites divine,
And settled sure succession in his line,
From whence the race of Alban fathers come,
And the long glories of majestic Rome.”  
– opening stanza of the Aeneid by Virgil

My college experience was truly eye-opening for me. I was exposed to all types of things that I’d never even considered. One of those things was the classic literature of the Western canon.

Some of the first things I had to read in my freshman humanities class were The Iliad, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. I really wish I had enjoyed these stories more, but my diet of Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary books did not adequately prepare me for the level of reading that these epic stories required. I was lost and very confused much of the time. I was not even familiar with the story line, so I hardly participated in class discussions at all. By the time we got to The Canterbury Tales and King Lear, I felt a little more comfortable with the strange language of the past. With a little practice, I was able to comprehend the stories and the unwritten messages of these everlasting works.

When I decided to head down the classical path with my kids, I thought about my experience with the classics quite a bit. I’m going to share something with you that may get me banned from certain Classical Ed circles. Shhh. Don’t tell them. Okay?

I read children’s versions of these stories to my kids.

There. I admitted it. I know some people consider this to be cheating somehow. They say that children are perfectly capable of handling the actual texts. And that may very well be true for many children. Heck, it’s even true for my children, for the most part. However, here’s my thinking behind my reading of the children’s versions:

My boys are in middle school now. We’re currently reading Aeneas: Virgil’s Epic Retold for Younger Readers. It is written at about a fifth-grade level but doesn’t seem to be dumbed down in any way. We are enjoying the heck out of this story. (I get a tad annoyed when my younger son leads us down a mythology rabbit trail because it’s taking us much longer to get through the book than I planned. It is very hard to say, “Hey! No! You cannot tell us about Menelaus right now because, gosh darn it, Aeneas was just getting to the part about how the Trojans could have possibly thought it was a good idea to roll this giant horse into the city!”)

Anyway, we’re enjoying the story immensely – just as we have enjoyed The Odyssey, The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, and other classic books. By reading the children’s version, we set the scene and develop the characters in our minds. We understand what is happening because the story is being told in familiar language. Our brains aren’t busy deciphering the odd language and long sentence structure. So many times in my adult life, I have thought to myself that if I had at least been familiar with the elements of these classic tales, it would have made the reading of them in college so much easier.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s bad to read more developed, more complicated language with your young children. In fact, I think it’s an excellent thing and should be done frequently. That is how their ability will grow. But, when I really want my kids to understand the message in a book, I read the more simple version.

I started reading my boys stories set to verse at a very young age. The library is full of these miniature children’s epics. I think these kinds of books are a wonderful preparation for the epic poems they will be asked to read later in life. I fully intend to have my children revisit several of these classics in their original form in high school. My hope is that their background knowledge of the stories and the surrounding history will make their experience with the original classics much less taxing than mine. They will be able to decipher the more complicated language and come away with deeper lessons than they learned during their first foray into the classics. I’ll write another article in about 5 years and let you know how my plan worked.

Art, Arts & Crafts Explained, Student Art

Arts and Crafts at Home: Watercolor Cityscape Project, by Apryl

My 14 year old daughter came to me with this project that she saw on Pinterest.  She wanted to recreate it for her room, and get the chance to play with watercolor and canvas.  After brainstorming the best way to go about creating the painting, we gathered supplies.

Supplies needed:

Fredrix Archival Watercolor Canvas – this product is pretty cool.  The canvas has already been stretched and primed for watercolor, and it is ready to hang once completed.

Clear contact paper – really you can use any print/color but I find the clear the easiest to work with when drawing things out.

Watercolor paint in your desired colors – I recommend tube colors since you’ll be mixing quite a bit and you want a more opaque finished product.  My daughter picked colors that would co-ordinate with another piece of art she had in her room.

Letter stickers (optional) – We used repositionable vinyl letters, but I do not recommend them for this project as they did not adhere well.  It is best to test them with paper and paint before hand to see if they will adhere well enough to block paint, but still come off the canvas easily.

Assorted stiff paintbrushes and an old toothbrush – all the painting in this project is done by spraying or splattering, so don’t use your good brushes!

An empty spray bottle – we used a rinsed out hairspray bottle.

A palette – we used a Styrofoam plate with divided sections.

1.  Be sure to cover your work area with a drop cloth (or an old sheet like we did!)  This is a messy project.

2.  Measure your canvas width and cut a length of contact paper to fit.  It does not need to cover the entire height of the canvas, only the part that you wish to leave white.

3.  Find a silhouette of your desired city-scape.  You can either enlarge the silhouette to fit the canvas, or just sketch the shapes onto the contact paper.  We chose to sketch it directly onto the contact paper.  (Actually, our printer decided for us, since it decided not to work that day!)  You can sketch it out with a pencil, but I recommend going over it with a permanent marker so you do not rub off the pencil while cutting.

4.  Cut out the city-scape.  The contact paper should end up in the shape of the area you want left WHITE.

I did not take a photo before we started painting, but you can see the shape of our contact paper below.

Carefully remove the backing of the contact paper and adhere to your canvas.  Make sure your city is fairly level.  We found it easiest to peel back a small amount of the backing and start sticking it to the canvas.  Then we would peel back a bit more and adhere that section.  This prevents the whole thing from getting stuck together before you can get it onto the canvas.

5.  Adhere any letters you are adding to your project.  We used a ruler keep them straight.  We also started with the middle letters and worked our way out to keep them centered.  It is best to “dry fit” the letters before actually sticking them to the canvas.

*Make sure the contact paper and letters are pressed VERY firmly onto the canvas.

6.  Mix your paint colors with water.  You want a good concentration of colors, but you also want it thin enough to run.  It may take some trial and error to get it the consistency you like.  When the color is mixed, add it to your spray bottle.

In the photo below, you can see our paint is still pretty thin and watery.  We ended up adding more color.

7.  Making sure the canvas is propped up, begin spraying your paint onto it.  You want the paint to run, but do not heavily saturate the canvas.  It is best to work in layers and let the paint dry a bit in between.  We used a hair dryer to speed up the process.

8.  After you have built up a decent first layer, use the stiff brushes and toothbrush to splatter different colors of paint onto the canvas.

9.  Keep applying layers with the spray bottle and splattering with the brushes until you are happy with the overall look.

10.  Allow to dry before removing the contact paper and stickers.

11.  Once you remove the contact paper and stickers, you will most likely see where the has run under them a bit.  (Our letters ran under a LOT) If you are using the same kind of canvas we did, you can use a cotton swab and water to clean up the edges.  The paint will wash right off.  That said, you will want to make sure to keep your completed project dry!  If you used another surface besides this canvas, this step may not work.

12.  Hang and enjoy!