Our Trip to Pigeon Forge

I am not being compensated for my opinions or if you click on any of the links. We had a great time and I wanted to share our experiences with you. Enjoy!

Last week our family went to Pigeon Forge. Thanks to a homeschool discount we got an amazing rate at the DreamMore. I have been to Disney World many times, but this is my favorite resort anywhere! Everyone was friendly, our luggage showed up in our room right after we did, and we didn’t have to fight the stroller on to the bus. It was great! We also got free TimeSaver passes for everyone in our room!

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We spent four days in Dollywood. Before we went we figured two days would be enough to see and do everything. Pfft! We went four days and there are a lot of things we missed out on. We’re hoping to catch them when we go back. The shows were fantastic, we loved the rides, and the craftsmen and the people in the shops were awesome. We enjoyed talking to all of the employees. My husband became good friends with the gentleman serving meat at Miss Lillian’s Restaurant. Miss Lillian herself is so special. She came over while we were eating to offer her “chicken blessings”. The food was phenominal, too. We ate there twice! My daughter is very shy, but she had to hug Miss Lillian. That’s one of my favorite memories from our trip.

My four-year-old’s favorite ride was the new Dragonflier. She’s big for her age so be sure and check your child’s height before you get in line. Dollywood has a child measuring station beside the Emporium. We weren’t able to ride Wild Eagle or Lightnin’ Rod because they were closed for maintenance when we tried to ride them the last day. We loved Mystery Mine and Tennessee Tornado, though! I could have stayed on either one of those.

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We took an afternoon and visited Anakeesta (see above). Y’all, we thought it went up about 100 feet. No! It goes up 900 feet! We took a gondola up there instead of a chair, because I knew I couldn’t handle that even if it went up thirty feet. That’s a no. My twelve-year-old and I were almost in hysterics by the time we reached the top, which caused my husband to have anxiety. The employees were kind enough to let us ride the Ridge Rambler back down even though it doesn’t open to the public until this week. The ride down was so much better!

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After Anakeesta we went to the Island. If you go, grab a YeeHaw beer and eat at Paula Deens. I can’t say enough about this combination. The beer went down smooth, I could have drank it all night. Paula Deen’s is all you can eat served family style, except you only get one desert. That was my only complaint about the entire meal.

This was my favorite vacation by far. It is hard to entertain six people at once, but we didn’t have any trouble. We had a great time exploring during the day and hung out in the heated pool at night. We can’t wait to go back.

What Our Homeschool Looks Like

Let me start by saying that my homeschool is not perfect and I’m not telling you to copy me or that this is what it has to look. The beauty of homeschooling is individuality. God made us all different and He gave me my kids and He gave you yours for a reason. This is simply an example for those who are new or who are looking for ideas.

This is our calendar for the 2020 school year:

  • Aug 5th: First Day of School
  • Sep 2nd: Labor Day (No school)
  • Nov 28th: Thanksgiving (No school)
  • Nov 29th (No school)
  • Dec 16th: Daddy’s birthday (No School)
  • Dec 23rd – Jan 3rd: Christmas break (No school) Some people take all of December off and that’s fine, but I prefer to get finish the year earlier.
  • Apr 10th: Good Friday (No School)
  • Apr 13th: Easter Break (Yes, one day)
  • Apr 21st: Mommy’s birthday (No School)
  • Apr 28th: Last Day of School!

I prefer fewer breaks so that we can get done sooner. They still do some school stuff during the summer, but it’s not required. Also, if anything happens we have plenty of room to extend the year if we have to.

We used to do all of our work at the dining room table, but this year I want to keep the kids outdoors more, especially since our daughter is still technically Year 0. We have a beautiful old tree in our front yard that provides plenty of shade.

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Since we primarily use Charlotte Mason’s methods, our daughter won’t officially start school until she’s six. We’ll begin “officially” teaching her next August and this year will be spent letting her play in a workbook geared towards four-year-olds. It’s not Charlotte Mason, but she really wants to get started and I don’t want to hold her back. We’re going to have lots of fun, though, so that she doesn’t regret begging.

Our youngest is two so we listen to worship music and I read my Bible aloud in the mornings so he knows what Mommy is doing. I love hearing him and his sister walking around singing songs that they’ve learned at home and at church. My oldest gets up later so he misses this, but he gets to hear the little ones the rest of the day.

If you are interested in Charlotte Mason, check out Ambleside Online. There are schedules, book lists, etc there to get you started. It’s free, you just have to buy the books. Many are free for Kindle which I like because our house is small and can’t hold the private library I would create with all of our books.

 

Back to (Home)School

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In about a month all of the local kids will be heading back to school. For my kids that means back to the kitchen table. Yes, we homeschool. This will be our first year with two kids doing schoolwork together since our oldest is twelve and our youngest is going to be five in October. I could wait another year with her, but she’s been wanting to start school for a year already (she definitely was not ready at three!).

We started homeschooling when our oldest was five because we strongly felt that was what God wanted. We don’t feel that calling has changed. If anything it is stronger now.

If you are interested in homeschooling I recommend reading as many books, blogs, articles, etc. as you can. That’s how I discovered Unschooling and Charlotte Mason. We use Charlotte Mason’s lessons a lot because we feel that it’s a great balance of reading, practical lessons where applicable, and outdoor time. It also focuses on the Bible heavily, which is the important part for us. Also, even if you don’t join Homeschool Legal Defense (HSLDA), bookmark it so you can easily look up your state’s homeschool laws. In Alabama, we are required to join a cover school and report to them.

Our daughter isn’t old enough to start Charlotte Mason’s lessons so we bought a workbook for preschoolers. I’ll work with her while my oldest completes his own lessons. He’s twelve so he doesn’t require much supervision or assistance anymore.

I keep our homeschool organized on my iPhone using the Calendar and Numbers. I use the Calendar for important dates (re-enroll in cover school, our start date, end date, breaks, etc). I use Numbers for lesson planning, attendance, and grades. It’s great because I can access everything on my phone or on my PC.

This year we’re going to start on August 4th at Dollywood. What? How do you start teaching at Dollywood? It’s easy! Dollywood has museums, shows, and other learning opportunities. For instance, our oldest can find out how fast each rollercoaster is and from there determine which one is the fastest. The museums also require some reading so he can work on that while we’re there. We’re planning to visit Smoky Mountain National Park, too, so the kids can observe nature. All of us are super excited!