Tuesday, April 25, 2017

School Mornings

When we started homeschooling way back in 1988, I had just graduated with my master's degree in music education.  My oldest child was just in K4 so we took things pretty lightly then, doing some table time learning three days a week, playing lots of games and taking lots of field trips with our large support group in Ft. Worth, TX.

As our two older girls grew, I eventually incorporated our morning time routine which started with a Bible reading or pictorial devotional, Scripture memory, Bible songs and story time.  Our family continued to grow eventually to seven children with an age span of almost 25 years.  Our group time grew as the family grew and as we solidified our homeschooling goals for our children.

For the past 20 years or so, I've begun our school day by reading a chapter of Proverbs to coincide with the date.  If today is April 25th, we read Proverbs 25 and so on.  We also go over Scripture memory, read a chapter from Vos' The Child's Story Bible, read a chapter or two from our current read aloud and then have time for some extras such as poetry, hymn studies, Greek and Latin root review, logic, manners, or our unit study vocabulary words.  Each semester is different depending on how many children I have homeschooling and their grade levels.  Every one participates and the younger ones quietly draw, color pictures relating to our unit study, play with Legos or quiet puzzles.  I try to switch things up and incorporate some movement occasionally, especially on days our grandchildren join us for school.

After our group time we separate with the teens going to the dining room or their bedrooms for independent study and the younger school aged children join me at the school table for math and language.  Kindergarteners and preschoolers who happen to join us have time on the floor with fun learning activities placed on towels.  After 20-30 minutes I change their activities and give them time to move around.

Currently our senior daughter is finished with all her bookwork and is out of the house nannying a few days a week.  When she is home she joins us for our Proverbs reading and memory verse review and then heads off to do some chores or preparing her display for graduation.  On a normal day that leaves me with our two youngest sons ages 12 and 8.  This is somewhat bittersweet to me, but I'm looking forward to studying with them and encouraging them in their Bible and academic studies for the next several years.

Our current readings are from the following books:  the Bible, Vos' The Child's Story Bible, Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan for hymn study, You Come Too by Robert Frost for poetry study and Boys of Grit Who Never Gave Up from Lamplighter's Rare Collectors Series.

I keep a box or basket next to my chair in our den to keep our current books at hand and I also have the next books we will be reading through in there ready to start.

So, how does the beginning of your school day look?  What books are you currently sharing with your children?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tips for Homeschooling with the Littles

Reposting this from 2011:  My Caedmon is now an eight year old, but we have a two-year-old grandson with us every Monday.  It's time to start "school" with him.

Two Year Old "School"

What do you do with the little guys while you are teaching the older ones?
 I need to do some kind of learning activities with my toddler, but I have no idea what to do?

When you get busy teaching the older children it is often easy to overlook the educational needs of the little ones.  Yes, we make sure they are clean and fed, but some days it is easy to stick in a video or two for a couple of hours of peace while we teach the older children.   One way to make sure you are incorporating fun, entertaining and educational activities for your little ones is to make a plan.

Go through  your preschool toys and games and make a list of everything  you have that will make up a fun learning experience for your little one.  This is my current list of things my 27 month old son, Caedmon, can do by himself or with help.

1.  Lauri lace up animals
2.  a magnetic board with magnetic shapes of various colors
3.  Discovery Toys Giant Pegboard  for color sorting, stacking, counting or stringing....the back of it can be used as a pegboard with rubber bands
4.  bean bags tossed into a basket or bucket
5.  jumbo Cuisenaire rods
6.  Wee Sing tapes  (ok, I have cassettes--I have had preschoolers for over 20 years!!)
7.  board puzzles--Lauri, Melissa and Doug and Discovery Toys
8.  stickers and paper--I may draw a shape or a letter and have him place stickers to outline the drawing
9.  Color Wonder fingerpaint
10.  Color Wonder markers
11.  What's That Sound?--Discovery Toys listening lotto game
12.  attribute blocks- sort shapes, colors and sizes
13.  exercise CD or video
14.  make pictures with rice, dried beans, pasta or cornmeal
15.  tear construction paper and glue on other paper to make a collage
16.  Duplos
17.  Builders and Benders from Discovery Toys
18.  Little People
19.  Measure Up Cups (Discovery Toys) with a large pan of rice and a funnel
20.  play dough and cookie cutters
21.  large lace up beads from Melissa and Doug
22.  plastic nuts and bolts
23.  Trace and Place puzzles from Discovery Toys
24.  pattern blocks---match colors and shapes, make simple patterns, make designs
25.  small dry erase board and marker
26.  Melissa and Doug box shape sorter
27.  Melissa and Doug stacking blocks
28.  Melissa and Doug pegged shape sorter
29.  Mini Motors from Discovery Toys for sorting and playing
30.  file folder games from
31.  activity bags from
32.  books, books and more books!!
33.  Sounds Like Fun tape from Discovery Toys
34.  toy instruments from Melissa and Doug
35.  play food

As we do many of these activities we will be talking together about various things.  Naming objects, colors and shapes.  Sorting objects also can help teach counting.  Talk about same and different as you sort.  Opposites are fun to teach.  Caedmon is really funny these days as he makes a happy face and then a sad face as requested.  We sing or count as we roll a ball back to each other on the floor.

Children at this age also love to help with various chores.  There is a good bit they can help with if you take the time  to enjoy and encourage their efforts.  Caedmon loves to help load clothes in the washer or dryer.  He can also pick up toys and help vacuum.  A cleaning rag is great fun for him as he wipes down the fronts of kitchen appliances.  With a spray bottle of plain water and a cleaning rag he can clean a spill or a sticky spot in the floor.  With a damp rag he can dust low pieces of furniture.

When we were "poor" seminary students I borrowed several early learning resources from the library.  As I came across an idea that I thought would interest my children I copied it onto an index card.  I have a file box full of fun activities for early learning in all subject areas:  science, physical activities, language, crafts, etc.  Other resources that I have used in the last few years include Slow and Steady Get Me Ready by June R. Oberlander and The Preschool Primer:  101 Ideas for Learning and Doing.

Now that I have resources and a list of activities I am ready for the planning session.  I have a small plastic set of six drawers.  Each drawer is labeled for each of the five school days.  The extra drawer will contain quiet activities for family worship time.  I keep 4-5 activities in each drawer.   Many items on my list will not fit in the drawers, so I will tape the list to the wall next to my desk.  As I make out my lesson plans for the older children I can easily write down 2-3 activities from the list on my plans for Caedmon. I am hoping that being a little more organized with his activities will keep us all a little less frazzled and Caedmon a little more content.

If you have any questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  Do you have a terrific resource for the early preschool years?  How do  you incorporate your littles into  your school day?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Movies to Enhance Homeschooling

We love to add movies and documentaries to our homeschool.  From movies based on historical fiction to documentaries on history, science and geography topics to great film versions of our favorite British classic literature, we love them all.  And they add to our studies with very little effort on my part.

Jeff has been working with PureFlix in the past few years as he has served as producer for American Family Studios.  Recently I looked over what they had to offer and was impressed with the variety of their selections including many that would be useful in our homeschool like these for history and government or these for science and nature studies.  Take a look at what they have to offer and check into a trial membership!  There are also some freebies to check out.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Five Years Ago...Words Still Just as Sweet

I posted this exactly five years ago yesterday.  Words I need to hear all over again!

Getting Dressed

Last night during our family worship time, Jeff read to us from Colossians 3 and 4.  This verses from chapter three, though, really stood out to me.

"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another;  even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body;  and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through Him.   Colossians 3:  12-17

As he was reading I could see each one of us getting dressed each morning and adding on each of these qualities layer upon layer.  How good and pleasant would it be if we could just go to our closets or drawers and physically PUT these qualities upon our bodies.  Oh, if it were as easy as that!!  Dressing ourselves each day with all of the following traits:

          -tender mercies
          -bearing with one another
          -forgiving one another
          -be thankful

Sounds almost impossible, doesn't it?  And it is!   It is only through Christ's righteousness that we can exhibit any of these qualities and even then it isn't always easy.  I fail. every. single. day.  At the end of a busy day of homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, errand running and child training it is so easy to think only of myself, to get tired of answering just one more question, of listening to one more piece on the piano, to hear the constant drumming, banging, snapping that one son MUST do (he has so much music and rhythm within him that it MUST come out!), one more dish to wash, one more load of laundry to fold....It's tiring and I snap, I fail.  But then I remember that even though I do struggle, I do not depend upon my own works for salvation.  I can rest on HIS righteousness and not my own weak self.  How wonderful and precious is that?

The following poem, written many, many years ago by Charitie Lees De Chenez is so special to me.  I cannot get through singing it at church without tears, but the third stanza is generally where I break down.  Yes, I will strive to clothe myself in all the qualities listed in Colossians 3, but will daily remember that Christ has paid it all and has clothed me, even me, with His righteousness.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea,
A great High Priest, whose Name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven in His hands.
My name is written on His heart;
I know that, while in heaven He stands.
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Saviour died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him, and pardon me.

Behold Him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!

One with Himself, I cannot die,
My soul is purchased by His blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Saviour and my God.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter 2017

Our family continues to grow!  Pictured:  Kaelan, our 17 year old daughter who will graduate from our homeschool next month;  Devin with her husband, Justin and son Haddon; Lauren with her husband, James, and their five children Eli (in the green shirt), Chase, Ashtyn Claire, Carolina and Aidan;  our 12 year old son, Jackson, in the pink shirt and our 8 year old son Caedmon in the red shorts;  daughter-in-law, Anna with our son Jordan and their new baby, Andy; me, Jeff and our 20 year old son, Aaron, who will graduate with his associates degree in accounting next month.

Our busy times seem to be even busier these days!!   Lauren is expecting twins very soon and has been on bed rest for the past three weeks.  We've had her children for about 12 of those days and doing school with them as well as our two youngest boys.  Kaelan has almost finished all of her required work for her senior year.  I need to catch up in checking it and she has two series of DVDs to watch for science and history and a couple of papers to write before being officially finished.  She will begin the prerequisites for nursing school this fall.

We were blessed with an unexpected visitor this Easter weekend.  A young woman was traveling by bicycle from Michigan to San Antonio, TX.  She stopped in Tupelo and went to the Good Friday services at our church Friday evening.  I introduced myself to her and discovered she was the oldest of ten children and was also homeschooled.  She stayed with us Friday evening and then Kaelan and Jeff drove her to her next starting point late Saturday morning.  Easter afternoon she called, having run into some trouble.  We were able to get her some immediate help and then pick her up for another night/morning at our home.  Due to an old knee injury, she has opted to continue her trip in a rental vehicle.  She was quite disappointed not to finish as she started, but was determined to get to the Alamo regardless.  A real-life lesson for our KONOS unit study on diligence and determination.  We are thankful to the Lord for putting all the details in place so that we could serve her in a time of need.

Hope you all have a great week!  I'll try to update more about the past four years in our lives.  We have had some major happenings, but God has blessed us greatly through them all.  Now, back to the books for me!

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