Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Freebies

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is offering a Easter unit study, copywork, and place cars for free!  Still plenty of time to use them.  I actually save the file so I can use it again.  Here's the LINK.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

End of School Year in Sight!

AHHHH!!! After talking to my husband, I mean the principal, earlier today, I realized I only have 27 active school days before the "official" end of our school year.  My husband actually wanted it to end a week earlier when his college semester ends, but I talked an extra week out of him.

It's really nice to be able to talk to someone "over" me to get ideas and even the final decision.  Of course, since I'm involved daily and have teaching experience, my opinion has a substantial impact, but he gets the final say.

So, here's what I need to accomplish.
  • I need to do 2 math lessons a day.  Actually, I think it will be ok since some of the things are review and some are easier things that she already knows somewhat like money and time.
  • I need to do 2 language lessons each day.  This won't be too difficult because we do First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and the lessons are very short with a lot of review. 
  • I need to do 1 phonics/reading lesson daily.  Now, I had already sorted through what we had left of An Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and picked out the things which need to be reviewed or introduced.  Most of them are things she can already read but which I want to explain why and how such as contractions.
  • History definitely will not be finished before the end of school.  In fact, we've had been thinking for awhile that we might have to continue it through the summer.  It's one of her favorite subjects, so it shouldn't be a big deal.  For that reason, I'm putting history on the shelf for right now to focus on science.
  • We had actually put science on hold since December, so that we could focus on history and get caught up.  You can see how well that worked!  Anyway, we are going to do this unit on plants within the next 27 days.  What I get done is great.  What I miss she'll get later.
  • All the cool artist/musician things that I've been doing are to be put aside by order of the principal to focus on getting all the basics accomplished.
There ya' go.  Everything down in black and white.  Oh, I'm also supposed to postpone any "field trips" to the library, zoo, etc.

Homeschools and Education Savings Accounts

Homeschools and Education Savings Accounts
William A. Estrada, Esq.
Director of Federal Relations

March 19, 2010

Numerous homeschool families have sought to open Education Savings Accounts (ESA) for their children. The U.S. tax code has some provisions to help parents save money to spend on education for their children and to save money tax free for their children’s college education.

Unfortunately, there is still discrimination against homeschoolers in the tax code in this area. HSLDA has long sought to resolve this situation so that all ESAs are open to homeschoolers.

While this article should not be construed as tax advice, we hope that it will help homeschool families to better understand the ESA options that are available to homeschoolers. We strongly recommend that you talk to your tax or financial advisor before you set up an ESA.

The Two Types of Education Savings Accounts

There are two main types of ESAs: the Coverdell ESA, and the newer 529 college savings account. There are benefits to each as well as a few negatives. They both operate under the same principle as the Roth IRA, or other forms of retirement savings accounts. The difference is that ESAs allow parents to save for their children’s education costs. Because the money is placed into the ESA after taxes, all savings are tax free. Contributions (deposits) to ESA’s and interest earned accumulate tax free, and distributions (withdrawals) are also tax free, so long as the money is used for eligible education expenses.

One main difference between the Coverdell and the 529 is that the Coverdell can be used for education expenses anywhere from preschool to graduation from high school, as well as for a child’s college costs. The 529 can only be used for college and graduate school expenses.

Another difference is that families can contribute far more money into a 529 than into a Coverdell. Additionally, the Coverdell has income restrictions on who can contribute. Families who make above a certain level cannot use the Coverdell. The 529 has no such restrictions, making the 529 the vehicle of choice for higher income families.

The Problem with the Coverdell for Homeschool Families

The problem that has faced homeschoolers is that the federal law that created the Coverdell defined eligible expenses as costs associated only with public and private school costs. So the Coverdell cannot be used for homeschool expenses, unless a family is operating their homeschool program as a private school in one of the 14 states where a homeschool is treated as a private school.

Homeschoolers in the other 36 states, therefore, cannot use a Coverdell, unless they are using it solely for college costs.

HSLDA’s Federal Relations Department has been trying to fix this ever since Congress created the Coverdell. The language we have proposed to Congress reads as follows:

(a) In General—Paragraph (4) of section 530(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to qualified elementary and secondary education expenses) is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(C) SPECIAL RULE FOR HOME SCHOOLS—For purposes of clauses (i) and (iii) of subparagraph (A), the terms “public, private, or religious school” and “school” shall include any home school which provides elementary or secondary education if such school is treated as a home school or private school under State law.

(b) Effective Date—The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply to taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Numerous bills including our language have been introduced; none has yet passed Congress.


We will continue to keep our members updated as we work with Congress to revise the Coverdell so that home educators in all 50 states can use these unique education savings accounts. We urge Congress to adopt the language above to eliminate this discrimination against homeschool families. In the meantime, all homeschoolers can use the 529 to save for college. We also encourage you to talk to your tax or financial advisor to see if there are any additional options available to you. Congress may also make changes to ESAs, so you will want to find out if there have been any changes, or if there is another vehicle available to you, from a qualified professional.

Children & Money

This chart is from an article entitled The 15 Money Rules Kids Should Learn.

If anyone has any advice on the hows and whens of allowance, I would love to hear it!

Adapted from "Piggybanking: Preparing Your Financial Life for Your Kids, and Your Kids for a Financial Life." Copyright 2010 by Jeff D. Opdyke. Published by Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Who is rewriting history?


Who is rewriting history?

Peter Heck - Guest Columnist - 3/29/2010 7:30:00 AM

As both a history teacher and a conservative, I have to admit to being quite amused by the foaming-at-the-mouth reaction liberals have had recently to the Texas Board of Education. It seems that the board has approved changes to the history curriculum adopted for use in the Texas public school system.

The New York Times, ever the beacon of objectivity and fairness, described the changes as, "put[ting] a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks."

The reason I find this situation amusing is because when you look at the actual changes approved for the curriculum, they demonstrate an effort to undo the revisionist, multicultural, politically correct garbage that has overrun American and world history texts for a generation. In other words, the left isn't worried about history being rewritten; they're worried about seeing the history they've already rewritten being restored.

Take, for example, the curriculum surrounding World War II. In history texts today, the liberal narrative is dominant: that the United States interned Japanese citizens because of fear, prejudice and inherent discrimination against a foreign race. The Texas Board of Education has now required that narrative to include the reality that in addition to Japanese, both Germans and Italians living in the United States during World War II were also interned.

Or consider the treatment of "McCarthyism." Liberal academics have long used high school and college history texts to portray this era as the lowest example of anti-communist paranoia run amuck. But the Texas Board has now passed an amendment requiring that any retelling of McCarthyism include "how the later release of the Venona papers [PDF] confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government."

Are these examples of "putting a conservative stamp on history?" No. They're simply telling the truth.

Though it may be inconvenient for the left in trying to carry forth their self-loathing, Americans-as-imperial-racists agenda, we did intern Germans and Italians (the same race) as well as Japanese.

And though it may be inconvenient for the left in trying to portray all conservatives as paranoid freaks who see communists under their beds, the Venona documents of declassified information did reveal that there were indeed multiple examples of Soviet operatives in high-ranking positions of American government.

Other examples abound. The left may prefer that free-market giants Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek be excluded from school curriculum in deference to John Maynard Keynes and Karl Marx, but the reality is that the Texas Board is right to include them in American economics courses.

The left may find that teaching the violence inherent in the Black Panther movement hampers their lopsided retelling of the Civil Rights era, but the reality is that the Texas Board is right to tell students the full story.

And not just the full story, but the true story. In what I think was the most illuminating example of what's happening in textbooks today, Mavis B. Knight, a liberal Democrat from Dallas, proposed that the Texas curriculum require students to study why "the founding fathers...barred the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others."

The problem with Ms. Knight's proposal is that it's simply not true. As the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives pointed out in 1854 while studying this very subject, "At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, [just] not any one [denomination].... The object was not to substitute Judaism or Mohammedanism, or infidelity, but to prevent rivalry among [Christian denominations] to the exclusion of others....There is a great and very prevalent error on this subject in the opinion that those who organized this Government did not legislate on religion."

An error indeed. An error fabricated and perpetuated by the modern left whose allegiance to telling the truth about our past extends only to those phrases, figures, events or occurrences that fit their own ideological agenda.

Ms. Knight is indicative of what the left has been doing to the history textbooks for a generation. They see the events of the past as mere objects to be manipulated, changed, and rewritten so as to provide a catalyst for the social change they desperately desire.

But don't take my word for it. Their current opposition to the inclusion of factual history that they simply don't like, coupled with their continued insistence on trying to include blatantly false propaganda, reveals all you need to know about who is attempting to "rewrite" the pages of our history.

Peter Heck ( hosts a two-hour, daily call-in radio program on WIOU (1350 AM) in Kokomo, Indiana. "The Peter Heck Show" comments on social and political issues -- and doesn't shy away from recognizing how faith influences politics. This column is printed with permission.

Teaching Children Responsibility

Written by Lorrie Flem of

2 Thessalonians 3:10 states:

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

We take this verse very literally around our home. In what I consider one of the smartest "rules" we've ever instituted around the Flem house, we assigned Before-Breakfast, Before-Lunch and Before-Dinner chores to each child. The chores are age appropriate and I spend time training the kids to make sure they understand how to do the task and what it looks like when completed. Then I give them the ownership of the task.

Only one of my eight kids has ever missed a meal due to not completing his before-meal chore. He missed a couple of times and because I stuck firmly to the rule (even though I cried a little), he did not eat. After that, he completed his chores and warned his siblings "Mom means it." It's worked well for our family.

In addition to helping our home run smoothly, these before-meal chores do something else for the kids: it teaches them responsibility. They take ownership of a task and are learning valuable lessons about completing what you start and being responsible for the task.

Responsibility is so often shirked by our society, but it's my observation that kids want responsibility. They want to please you and they want to prove to you that they are capable of what you've called them to do.

In a society that seems to run from responsibility, I'm adamant about teaching it to my children. One day they will stand before the Lord and take responsibility for the things they did in their lives. They will not be allowed to shirk from responsibility then, so I am training them now.

Having kids do chores is not merely about getting work done in our home. It's about growing something vital, it produces good character in our children. The benefits of work are eternal and as moms, it's our job to start that training process now. Before the next meal, even!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

This week my dd made the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.  Actually, it started back in December when we made this ziggurat from boxes.  There was never a break in the weather long enough, however, to get it spray pained, so it was still handy when it came time for the Hanging Gardens.  We had learned about the Hanging Gardens when we had memorized the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but it made an even bigger impact this time set in historical context.

I have to tell a story about when I went out to purchase flowers for this project.  I went to a dollar store to get the flowers.  The lady in line behind me in line commented, "Oh, you must be making a bouqet."  I answered, "No, it's for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon."   She got a quizzical expression on her face and asked, "What church is that?"  I maintained a straight face and replied, "It's not a church.  It's a history lesson." 

This was the final product.  Of her own accord, Micki wanted to add the prince & princess because of what she learned about it.  Nebuchadnezzar had it made for his bride who was the daughter of the king of Persia. It was an arranged marriage to prevent war between the two kingdoms. I realized that made Nebuchadnezzar the first "Flower Child" chanting the mantra "Make love not war!"

Easter Ideas

The Stay at Home Missionary has a wonderful article with various ways to celebrate Easter and links.  I'm so glad because I have to admit, Easter managed to sneak up on me this year.  I didn't even realize that this was Palm Sunday until today!

I've actually made the Ressurection Biscuits she mentions with my PK classes when I taught and it always makes an impression.  Make sure to only use white marshmallows, though, because they can represent the sinlessness of Christ, and if you used the color ones, it leaves coloring behind which takes away from the tomb being empty.

Another idea I've read somewhere else was to have your own Easter sunrise service as a family at a local park.

I'd love to have more ideas.  Please share any of your ideas!

Is the Shorter Catechism Worth While?

I copied this from a blog entitled Christian Nurture.  You should go there and see the adorable picture of the baby with the Shorter Catechsim!

Is the Shorter Catechism Worth While?

The Shorter Catechism is, perhaps, not very easy to learn. And very certainly it will not teach itself. Its framers were less careful to make it easy than to make it good. As one of them, Lazarus Seaman, explained, they sought to set down in it not the knowledge the child has, but the knowledge the child ought to have. And they did not dream that anyone could expect it to teach itself. They committed it rather to faithful men who were zealous teachers of the truth, ‘to be,’ as the Scottish General Assembly puts it in the Act approving it, ‘a Directory for catechizing such as are of a weaker capacity,’ as they sent out the Larger Catechism ‘to be a Directory for catechizing such as have made some proficiency in the knowledge of the grounds of religion.’

No doubt it requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the Shorter Catechism. It requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the grounds of any department of knowledge. Our children — some of them at least — groan over even the primary arithmetic and find sentence-analysis a burden. Even the conquest of the art of reading has proved such a task that ‘reading without tears’ is deemed an achievement. We think, nevertheless, that the acquisition of arithmetic, grammar and reading is worth the pains it costs the teacher to teach, and the pain it costs the learner to learn them. Do we not think the acquisition of the grounds of religion worth some effort, and even, if need be, some tears?

For, the grounds of religion must be taught and learned as truly as the grounds of anything else. Let us make no mistake here. Religion does not come of itself: it is always a matter of instruction. The emotions of the heart, in which many seem to think religion too exclusively to consist, ever follow the movements of the thought. Passion for service cannot take the place of passion for truth, or safely outrun the acquisition of truth; for it is dreadfully possible to compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, to find we have made him only a ‘son of hell.’ This is why God establishes and extends his Church by the ordinance of preaching; it is why we have Sunday schools and Bible classes. Nay, this is why God has grounded his Church in revelation. He does not content himself with sending his Spirit into the world to turn men to him. He sends his Word into the world as well. Because, it is from knowledge of the truth, and only from the knowledge of the truth, that under the quickening influence of the Spirit true religion can be born. Is it not worth the pains of the teacher to communicate, the pain of the scholar to acquire this knowledge of the truth? How unhappy the expedient to withhold the truth — that truth under the guidance of which the religious nature must function if it is to function aright — that we may save ourselves these pains, our pupils this pain!

An anecdote told of Dwight L. Moody will illustrate the value to the religious life of having been taught these forms of truth. He was staying with a Scottish friend in London, but suppose we let the narrator tell the story. ‘A young man had come to speak to Mr. Moody about religious things. He was in difficulty about a number of points, among the rest about prayer and natural laws. ‘What is prayer?,’ he said, ‘I can’t tell what you mean by it!’ They were in the hall of a large London house. Before Moody could answer, a child’s voice was heard singing on the stairs. It was that of a little girl of nine or ten, the daughter of their host. She came running down the stairs and paused as she saw strangers sitting in the hall. ‘Come here, Jenny,’ her father said, ‘and tell this gentleman ‘What is prayer.’ ’ Jenny did not know what had been going on, but she quite understood that she was now called upon to say her Catechism. So she drew herself up, and folded her hands in front of her, like a good little girl who was going to ‘say her questions,’ and she said in her clear childish voice: ‘Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.’ ‘Ah! That’s the Catechism!’ Moody said, ‘thank God for that Catechism.’ ’

How many have had occasion to ‘thank God for that Catechism!’ Did anyone ever know a really devout man who regretted having been taught the Shorter Catechism — even with tears — in his youth? How its forms of sound words come reverberating back into the memory, in moments of trial and suffering, of doubt and temptation, giving direction to religious aspirations, firmness to hesitating thought, guidance to stumbling feet: and adding to our religious meditations an ever-increasing richness and depth. ‘The older I grow,’ said Thomas Carlyle in his old age, ‘and now I stand on the brink of eternity, the more comes back to me the first sentence in the Catechism, which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper its meaning becomes: ‘What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.’ Robert Louis Stevenson, too, had learned this Catechism when a child; and though he wandered far from the faith in which it would guide his feet, he could never escape from its influence, and he never lost his admiration (may we not even say, his reverence) for it. Mrs. Sellars, a shrewd, if kindly, observer, tells us in her delightful ‘Recollections’ that Stevenson bore with him to his dying day what she calls ‘the indelible mark of the Shorter Catechism’; and he himself shows how he esteemed it when he set over against one another what he calls the ‘English’ and the ‘Scottish’ Catechisms — the former, as he says, beginning by ‘tritely inquiring ‘What is your name?,’ ’ the latter by ‘striking at the very roots of life with ‘What is the chief end of man?’ and answering nobly, if obscurely, ‘To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.’ ’

What is ‘the indelible mark of the Shorter Catechism’? We have the following bit of personal experience from a general officer of the United States army. He was in a great western city at a time of intense excitement and violent rioting. The streets were over-run daily by a dangerous crowd. One day he observed approaching him a man of singularly combined calmness and firmness of mien, whose very demeanor inspired confidence. So impressed was he with his bearing amid the surrounding uproar that when he had passed he turned to look back at him, only to find that the stranger had done the same. On observing his turning the stranger at once came back to him, and touching his chest with his forefinger, demanded without preface: ‘What is the chief end of man?’ On receiving the countersign, ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever’ — ‘Ah!’ said he, ‘I knew you were a Shorter Catechism boy by your looks!’ ‘Why, that was just what I was thinking of you,’ was the rejoinder.

It is worth while to be a Shorter Catechism boy. They grow to be men. And better than that, they are exceedingly apt to grow to be men of God. So apt, that we cannot afford to have them miss the chance of it. ‘Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.’

From The Westminster Teacher, April, 1909.

Posted by polymathis at 2:57 PM

Seven Special Reasons to Get Up and Get Out!

Received this from's email a few weeks ago and forgot to share it.  Never to late.

Seven Special Reasons to Get Up and Get Out!

Jane Claire Lambert

Even in our homeschooling we are hesitant these days to get outside and find safe places to examine what has been made. We just don't take the time, because we've forgotten how vitally important this activity really is! Many of us don't live on acreage with ponds and meadows to scout out, and it is more difficult for some to find safe parks and places to explore. Yet, if we truly believed that taking time to get out into nature was critically important, wouldn't we have a new desire to pray for and seek out special spots to view the natural wonders that are close at hand? Even in the heart of city life, one can find so many great examples of natural phenomena, and nature is always as close as our own backyard. We even know one family who strolled through cemeteries, enjoying lovely trees of all kinds, ponds, flowers, birds, insects, and more with their children.

If you believe in the need, you will find a way, so here are seven extra-special reasons to get up and get out!

1. Nature walks will teach your child to watch everything around him. These outings will greatly increase his observational skills and his outdoor life skills. Take your children walking often, and watch your lessons become more relevant year after year as your students are able to apply experientially, through this time outside, the concepts you have presented. You see, it is one thing to teach the life cycle of a frog and quite another to find egg masses and tadpoles in a nearby pond! Children are filled with wonder as they use a net to collect specimens or turn over rocks on a lakeshore and find crawdads escaping every which way! This is life! This is the making of memories! This is real learning, not book learning!

2. Take your children out often, and they will find that one thing in nature always leads to another. If they are interested in a frog they see one day, the next day they will wonder and want to find out about the crickets and worms that the frogs eat. Then they may get interested in the condition of the pond water, and so it goes. This is experience-directed learning that is so exciting to your children. By walking outdoors with them on a regular basis, you will set off a chain reaction of learning experiences for your children that will continue for a lifetime, as they find that each discovery is connected to many other parts of nature.

3. Camaraderie--that special intimacy that comes from adventuring and making discoveries together--is another benefit of a good nature walk. Whether a mother or father walks with all the children or they take their journeys with just one child at a time or they use different combinations over the months, the time spent will reap intimacy as well as nature knowledge. Yes, you all will see and learn together, and that is wonderful. The times of quiet togetherness and the times of deep conversations along the way are special features of nature outings. It is as if the Lord has provided a miraculous setting for you to "be" with your children. Planned nature walks will provide years of the type of environment that enhances rich family ties.

4. At certain times when viewing nature, some quietness, solitude, and patience are necessary. Of course, a small child doesn't understand this at first, and the lessons that a parent uses to teach a little one to walk more quietly, sit for a bit, and watch what is around him must be gentle and full of patience. If you model (especially fun when acted out over-dramatically) walking softly and being as quiet as possible for part of your walks, your child will begin to see that it is often in times of quietness that the greatest marvels are seen. Then you will have done your job well. The desire to be quiet in order to see something special will be catching, and in time your child will begin to value quietness and solitude. Nature walks, begun simply and continued over the years--time spent watching and thinking--will develop a "deepness of heart" in a student who learns to quiet himself in these journeys together. Couldn't our world use a few more inhabitants with "deepness of heart"?

5. As your child grows in his awareness of the magnificence of creation, he will grow to love it. What he grows to love, he will want to take care of. Nature walks, begun early and continued throughout your teaching days, will lead your child to an awareness of the necessity of stewardship of our natural resources. We are all called to be the "gentle tenders" of our world. But if we don't even know anything about it, it is difficult to want to preserve it and use our resources wisely.

6. Taking time to walk outdoors will create a lifetime appreciation for what the Lord has made, and that deep love of nature will become a rich field for worship. The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and those who spend time in the out of doors discovering the wonders and learning that it comes from Him will have a vast and limitless resource for worshiping the One who created it all! Modeling a grateful heart for the beauty of nature all around us will flow out onto our children. Every leaf, each bug, every cell under a microscope is a marvel worthy of all our praise. If we display a heart of praise and worship for such a magnificent Creator, then wonder and worship will come to our children as well.

7. Something else will grow from enjoyable nature walks and seeing the magnificence of nature on a regular basis. A new understanding in the heart of your student will develop: nothing in nature is "common." In the book Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, we read that the people in Bentley's day thought snowflakes were "as common as dirt." But Mr. Bentley knew, because he had seen them under a microscope, that each snowflake was utterly and beautifully unique. All of nature is like that! Each stone has its own loveliness; each drop of water has an entire world of creatures swimming in it; each bit of moss or lichen--extraordinary! Everything that the Lord has made is amazing--nothing is common! How wonderful to begin at a young age to teach our children about the amazing natural world around them and the One who made it all.

So, if we took a quick quiz, what are the seven important reasons to get up and get out?

1. Gaining observational and life skills, as well as actually experiencing school lessons so that they become relevant.

2. Understanding the connectedness of life.

3. Experiencing camaraderie, intimacy, and the joy of making rich family ties.

4. Developing a quiet heart . . . one that can actually be still now and then, and one that can find benefits from moments of solitude.

5. Becoming aware of stewardship and conservation.

6. Creating a rich avenue for worship.

7. Learning that nothing in nature is "common."

Perhaps nature walks truly are more important than we first imagined.

Jane Claire Lambert and her husband Steve operate Five in a Row Publishing and are busy speaking at homeschool conferences and creating new products in the Five in a Row tradition. Visit their website at and for more information, including details about their new four-part nature series: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

Copyright 2008. Originally appeared in TheOld Schoolhouse® Magazine, Summer 2008.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Using a timer

I wanted to jot down a few ways I've been using a timer during school time.  I know there are plenty more, but these are the few ways I've been personally using a timer.

  • Of couse you can use a timer for time outs, but how about using it schedule a "time out.'  By this I mean, taking a break.  Sometimes when we're in the middle of either a big project or tough lesson, it's great to set the timer for 10 minutes and say we're stopping when it goes off.  At least you know there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  • On the other hand, you can schedule how long the break is.  I know for me taking a break for "a minute" to do something else can end up being 45 minutes.  Setting the time for 15-20 minutes helps me get back to what I was doing before the "tyranny of the urgent" takes over.
  • Needless to say, there is the usual timed math speed drills or reading.  I just started doing some timed math facts drills with my dd trying to get those facts into memory instead of counting in her head (at least it's in her head and not her fingers!  That's one step down.)  Doing a set of number of problems per day for a set period of time can demonstrate how mastery is coming.
  • My dd can also be slow to do work because she's playing around.  I know no one else has that trouble.  I sometimes try to keep her on task by having her race against the timer.  I think it works better as a game or challenge than as a punishement (get it done or else.)  It can be as long as "I'll give you five minutes to finish that copywork," to "Can you finish those 4 math problems in one minute?"
If you have been using a timer in some interesting way, please share it.  I'm always open to more ideas!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Internet 4 Classrooms

Got this site off a loop I'm on.  I've been looking around it and sure enough, it's a site full of links!  Wanting grade level assessments?  There are links.  Want some history timelines?  There a links.  Want to go on a vitual field trip?  There are links.  Need some help with high school science?  There are links.

Are you getting the concept of this site?  :-)  There are links!  Instead of having to surf the web, you can surf the site! 

Here's the site so you can play.  Internet 4 Classrooms

Monday, March 22, 2010

Toss It or Treasure It?

Recieved this from  Another good point about journaling/notebooking!

As the end of the school year draws near, are you swimming through mounds of worksheets, quizzes, tests, and half-finished workbooks wondering what to do with it all? What to keep? Where to keep it? How much to, dare I say, throw away? As you tackle this heap, recall the many hours that went into creating this heaping collection. Remember the great ambitions with which you started the school year (and perhaps the good intentions that fell to the wayside in order to “finish” this massive pile of paperwork). Finally, ask yourself -- if most, if not all, of your children’s work is going to get tucked away somewhere never to be seen again, how much value does it hold . . . to me? . . . to my children?

Notebooking our studies keeps us from creating these questionable mounds of paper each year. There is nothing left to sort. There is nothing left to pack away. There is nothing to throw away! Instead, another volume (or two or three or more) of our children’s prized work gets added to their personal library at the end of each year. No more busywork to throw away! No more second-guessing if our time has been well spent. Notebooking has literally transformed the way I approach my children’s education and has set afire a love of learning within each of them. Spend your precious hours exploring, discovering, and capturing the knowledge that awaits you and your children each day. Make learning a journey instead of a list to be checked off at the end of the day and a pile to be sorted at the end of the year. How do you do this?

Start simple. Grab the essential supplies: binders, paper, arts and crafts supplies, and a selection of writing utensils. You may also want to invest in some notebooking pages. Notebooking pages have been designed with a variety of preprinted lines, frames, borders, and clipart providing a quick start alternative to the notebooking process.

Start with one topic/subject for each child or for the whole family. Our favorite notebooks to do as a family are history and nature study. Ask your children to give a narration of what they learned during their study time. What did they find to be most important or interesting? An easy way to get started is to ask the 5Ws & 1H. If you have younger children, write their narrations down for them until they are more proficient with the physical skill of writing. For children who are accustomed to short fill-in-the-blank type questions, narration will take some practice to develop. However, narration is an invaluable skill that will lead to success in their future writings and investigations. It cements the material to their memory.

As your children continue to dig deeper, add new material to the notebook one page after another filling it up with information from their topic(s):

narrations from material studied or experienced


photos and information from field trips


timeline of events

their drawings/sketches

collections of tangible items such as leaves, pressed flowers, and seeds

photos of hands-on activities or experiments

copywork selections

anything and everything they want to add to their notebooks

As your children dig deeper, the richness of their learning becomes evident as their notebooks fill to the brim with stories, pictures, and lessons learned from people, places, and events encountered. It’s a joy to sit down with them as they confidently share all they have learned through their notebooks.

Each year, as the volumes of notebooks increases upon your shelves, you’ll see that notebooking captures a “living” record of their learning journey. Instead of tossing the year’s work in a taped up box, you’ll find ways to add more bookshelves to house these treasures!

Debra Wooley

The Family: Together in God's Presence :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

An article written by John & Noel Piper on family integration in church.

The Family: Together in God's Presence :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

Church Time: Occupying Little Ones' Hands and Minds!

Mar. 22, 2010

from A 2nd Generation of Homeschooling

I read a great tip a while back for keeping kids occupied AND learning while sitting in church with their parents. We have since added to those tips. It is also a great method for training the children to take notes.

**For the youngest/non-readers** They are to listen to the pastor and draw a picture of something he is talking about. If they cannot choose a word due to their young age, mommy or daddy could prompt them by whispering in their ear.

**For young readers/writers** They take a word the pastor says and write it down and then doodle around it. For older readers/writers, they write a sentence or quote that the pastor says and doodle around it.

**As they get older** They write more and more of what the pastor says.

All of this not only occupies their hands, but also their minds and hearts. They will pay even closer attention to the sermon if Daddy (the spiritual head and discipler of his wife and children - Eph. 6:4) asks them to show their work to the family on Sunday afternoon. The kids will look forward to sharing their work, as well as sharing what GOD taught their little hearts. Sunday should be a precious day for the family and this is a way for all the family members - young and old - to learn from God!

We use these methods with our children, as we go to a "family integrated church". They retain SO MUCH since we started implementing this. Another thing to help the ones (say 5 and under) stay quiet or focused AND to retain things is to have them sit by you and tap your arm/leg every time they hear a key word in the sermon. For instance the other day our pastor was talking about praise. I whispered the meaning of praise in Jake's ear (4 years old) and then had him tap me every time he heard the word. At our "review time" with the family every Sunday night he was able to proudly tell me what he had learned! He now looks forward to the "quiz word" every Sunday!

Lisa Metzger

Flowers & chemistry activity

Received this from  I was getting ready to teach plants, so I thought this might be a great activity to add especially now that spring is here.

Here in Atlanta, GA USA spring is underway. My 9 year old son and I were in the back yard digging up mica and other rock finds when I turned and saw flowers on the side of the house. I showed my son and a huge smile came across both our faces. There was snow on the ground 2 weeks ago. He ran and got his camera and took a picture. This is so wonderful seeing the flowers come out. It gives everyone such a lift and makes things feel so new and happy! (For those of you down under, grab those flowers now before they disappear.) We are also about to enter our high pollen season where yellow powder covers everything like a sandstorm. Ugh! (Achoo!) Excuse me.

When my son took the picture of the flowers it gave me nice idea for you all. I want to let you in on some chemistry fun with flowers. We are going to dry flowers. Have the kids choose flowers they like. You will need a shoe box and Borax. Most dollar stores and general merchandise stores carry it and it’s pretty cheap.

Borax is a natural compound found as rock mostly from lakes and rivers that have dried up then rehydrated and dried up over and over. The main element in borax from the periodic table is Boron. The most well known brand of Borax is Twenty Mule Team. It is named after the twenty-mule teams that were used to move borax out of Death Valley, California to the nearest railroad in the late 1800’s. The elements on the periodic table that make up Borax are Sodium, Boron and Oxygen. The formula is Na2B4O7

Show your children the periodic table and where these elements are located. Let them feel the powder and explain that it is made up of these 3 elements. Take a picture of the flowers before you dry them. Pour the Borax into the shoe box. Bury the flowers in the powder and put the lid on the box. Slide it under the couch or put it on a shelf in the closet and let it sit untouched for 3 weeks. After those 3 weeks pass, check on them. They should have retained their color but be dry to the touch. Take another picture of them now that they are dried. You can leave them as is or you can preserve them by spraying them with hair spray.

Have the kids make a poster. Use the original picture and paste it on the left. Add the plus sign, then add the elements squares from your printable table for Boron, Sodium and Oxygen. Then place the equals sign beside those and the final picture after that. Original flower plus Boron, Sodium and Oxygen equals dried flower. Have the kids make an arrangement in a vase with the dried flowers and give them to a friend or relative. Have the kids explain that they dried them with chemistry. Yay!

Pine Tree Crosses

From's email...

Author Unknown

Last Spring on a Sunday afternoon we took one of our "nowhere" drives thru the country. My husband was quietly driving along some back roads. I was occupied in the front passenger seat watching out the window as the scenery went by.

I noticed out of the corner of my eye that my husband was straining to lookout my window. This startled me, since his eyes should be on the road in front of him. I asked him what he was looking at out the windows, and he quietly replied, "Nothing. " He could have said he was looking for pine tree crosses for Easter. His eyes went back to the road in front of him.

After a few minutes, I looked over at my husband and noticed a tear running down his cheek. I asked him what was wrong. This time he told me, "I was just thinking about Pop and a story he had once told me." Of course, because it had to do with his Pop I wanted to know the story, so I asked him to share Pop's story with me.

He said, "When I was about 8 years old, Pop and I were out fishing and that's when he told me that the pine trees know when it is Easter."

I had no idea what he meant by that, so I pressed him for more information.

He continued on... "The Pine trees start their new growth in the weeks before Easter. If you look at the tops of the Pine trees two weeks before Easter, you will see the yellow shoots. As the days get closer to Easter Sunday, the tallest shoot will branch off and form pine tree crosses for Easter. By the time Easter Sunday comes around, you will see that most of the Pine trees will have small yellow crosses on all of the tallest pine shoots.
I turned to look out the window and I couldn't believe my eyes. It was a week before Easter, and you could see all of the pine trees with the tall yellow shoots stretching to Heaven.

The tallest ones shone in the sunlight like rows of tiny golden crosses.

Getting Ready for Easter

From's email...

Easter is only two weeks away. I enjoy Easter more than most other "holidays." And while we could lament at how our Enemy has turned this sacred day into bunnies and chocolate, we can also stand up and celebrate this day for what it truly is...the capstone of our Christian faith!

We spend many weeks decorating and preparing for Christmas, but for many of us, Easter sneaks up on us and we're not ready for it. Worse, many Christians fail to use this time of the year to spread the Good News; the resurrection of the King of Kings!

Are you sharing the Easter message in your home? Here are a few ideas you can do over the next few weeks to celebrate the upcoming day:

1. Buy an Easter Lily and watch it bloom. The lily bulb is lifeless looking, but something beautiful comes from it. It can symbolize our new life in Christ and Christ's resurrection from the dead.

2. Use this time to take a break from your regular Bible study and focus on the Easter message. You can print free coloring pages and other Easter activities from a simple search on Google. There are also many teaching guidelines available on the Internet, too.

3. Pray with your children for someone in your lives that does not attend church; perhaps that person is open to visiting church on Easter Sunday with your family. If not, invite him/her over for Easter dinner.

4. Hold an Easter Egg-Stravaganza. Don't have the time to plan it? Simple...we've got the whole party planned for you already in our E-book The Party Book: Holiday Hooplas. The Easter outline includes how to make your own Resurrection Eggs (simple, inexpensive!) to tell the Easter story through the "found" eggs, as well as a devotion to share with your guests.

5. This link from Christianity Today has some wonderful ideas to do for the week prior to Easter.

Enjoy celebrating Easter! We'd love to hear some of your favorite Easter traditions. Just visit our Easter blog and leave your ideas!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Into The Arts

From HSLDA's Home School Heartbeat...

Spring is responsible for poems about more than just young love! Without spring, we would be missing great pieces of the art, music, and literature. Today on Home School Heartbeat, HSLDA President Mike Smith takes a look at the artistic fruits of the season.

Mike Smith:

Did you know Vivaldi used the sound of a dog barking for one of his most famous compositions? Vivaldi’s Spring in his great work The Four Seasons is only one of many, pieces of art inspired by this season. Have your students listen to Spring and see if they can hear the dog. How does Vivaldi’s Spring compare to Strauss’s Voices of Spring waltz or Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring?

Visit an art museum with your children and see how many pieces of art they can find that show pictures of spring. If they like, have them try to draw a sketch of their favorite piece. Better yet, send your children outside with a camera to capture their own piece of spring art.

And there is so much literature describing spring! For young readers, Charlotte’s Web and The Wind in the Willows might be good places to start to discuss spring and seasons. For older readers, poetry by John Keats or William Blake might be more engaging. Encourage them to write their own poems about spring.

Many artists use spring as a symbol of new life. Have your readers look at great paintings or books to see how spring is not only significant in itself, it’s also a symbol. What else might it symbolize?

Thanks for joining us this week to think about fun spring activities for your homeschool. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Should I Be Teaching?

From the current email for HSLDA's The Early Years newsletter.

You may wonder, “What should I teach my child this year?” If your child is in, say, kindergarten or third grade or sixth grade, what should be covered at that grade level? If you are using an all-inclusive curriculum package, this may not be a pressing issue for you. But if you choose to adapt the material, or move through it at your own pace, or if you use a more eclectic approach, you may be concerned about staying “on track,” or about significant learning gaps.

Keeping Track of Academic Milestones

When designing your child’s curriculum, you should first check the subject requirements of your state’s homeschool laws. If you have questions about the requirements, contact HSLDA.

While one of the benefits of home education is the flexibility to tailor the program to the child’s abilities, needs, and interests, it is also helpful—and often reassuring—to have a general idea of subjects that might be covered at various levels, especially in skills areas such as language arts and math. Some major publishers include a scope and sequence on their webpages. (Scope and sequence just means what material is covered and in what order.) You can also consult your state’s standards of learning through an online search (e.g., Virginia standards of learning), or you can track your child’s academic milestones using skills checklists for the basic subject areas of math, language arts, science, and social studies (see Resources).

You might use any of these as a guide, but ultimately, you decide what you will cover each year in each subject. Of course, as a conscientious homeschooling parent, you will want to provide a solid, well-rounded program of study, but the sequence of studies will generally be up to you. While language arts and math are sequential subjects and will often be similar from publisher to publisher, you have a lot of flexibility in other subject areas, such as science and social studies. Instead of studying a topic when the textbook publisher indicates you should, you might capitalize on your child’s interests or rearrange the order of study to suit your family’s needs or activities.

What if Your Child Doesn’t “Fit” in a Certain Grade Level?

If you have a child who is grasping the concepts more quickly than anticipated, you may be apprehensive about letting him “move ahead."” Instead of limiting yourself to only certain material because it is listed somewhere as the appropriate material for this grade level, think outside the (grade level) box—consider what your child has mastered, then move to the next level. In other words, think in terms of ability levels, not grade levels. It is OK to use the grade level designation on your curriculum as a suggested sequence, rather than as a time restriction.

Take your cue from the gifted/talented class model: The child in such a program in a conventional setting still retains his chronological grade “label,” but he moves ahead in areas of special interest or ability. For example, a third grader might be at a fourth or fifth grade level in math or science. Another option is to encourage the child to delve more deeply into the subject at hand, taking advantage of the extra time made available by early completion of the planned lessons.

Of course, if you have concerns that your child is working significantly behind the average for his level, you may want to consult with our Struggling Learners coordinators and/or the legal representative for your state. It could be a simple as tweaking the curriculum to meet his needs.

The Most Important Lessons

Reading, writing, and ’rithmetic (as well as other skill and content subjects) are certainly important, and they provide a valuable means by which we learn about the world around us and by which we communicate and interact with others. However, we would be remiss to set academic standards without spiritual standards. Inge Cannon reminds us:

“When exploring God’s requirements for what our young people learn, it is important to establish a Scriptural definition of knowledge. II Peter 1:5–8 provides a clear description for an educational sequence which will honor God:

‘…Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (KJV)

Knowledge, then, is explored information within the boundaries of faith and character development.”
(“What The Lord Wants Your Teen to Know,” The Virginia Home Educator, Vol. 15, Issue 2)

Wishing you an eternal perspective (and lesson plans in pencil, not ink!),
Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years coordinator


Resources with suggested cognitive skills/concepts based on a traditional K-12th grade structure:

Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready by June Oberlander
Includes measurable parameters for birth to age 5, as well as a checklist of skills for kindergarten readiness

What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin S. Sampson
Includes K-8 checklist guidelines for math, language arts, science, and history, as well as character trait categories

Learning Objectives for Grades K-8 by Hewitt Homeschooling Resources
Checklist of academic milestones for kindergarten through 8th grade

Luke’s School List by Joyce Herzog
Academic checklist-style guide (Joyce has also compiled Luke’s Life List, a checklist of life skills and character traits to prepare a child for independent adulthood.)

Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp

Teaching Children by Diane Lopez
(Currently out of print but may be found in many public and support group libraries)

“Typical Course of Study”—World Book Encyclopedia

Coming soon to Homeschooling thru the Early Years:
A grade-by-grade listing of sample curricular combinations for preschool to 8th grade.

Contact Us
HSLDA Early Years Coordinator
Web email contact form
(540) 338-5600

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Free History Channel DVD

History Channel is offering a free DVD of their upcoming 12 part series entitled America the Story of US.  They will be airing it this April and then will mail the DVDs out this summer.  Of course, it's History Channel so you don't know how skewed it might be, but hey, it's FREE!!!

And it does offer it to home schools, so that's a plus.
Go HERE to sign up for yours.

Thanks to Diane Ward for posting it for IHE.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pursuit & Pleasure of Reading for High School

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter--May 2007

The Pursuit and Pleasure of Reading

Dear Friends,

Can you believe it's May? With the end of your school year fast
approaching, why not plan a fun surprise activity with your teen this
month? Maybe something as simple as surprising him or her with a day
off from school! While your teen is enjoying the day off, print out
this email, take it with you to the local coffee shop, and sip a latte
or double chai, letting out a long sigh, and saying a prayer asking
the Lord to help you finish out the year with grace and strength.

Since summer is just around the corner, this may be a good time to
plan and promote a "summer reading program" for your teens. You might
even offer an incentive to your children to read a variety of good
books throughout the summer. So, this month we'd like to focus on
reading suggestions for your teens and give you some ideas for
increasing your teens' desire to read.


Every high school academic program should include four years of
English, and a component of that English course should include reading
good literature. For help in teaching your teen to analyze literature
and dig a bit deeper into literary techniques such as foreshadowing,
mood, character development, and so forth, consider using prepared
study guides such as those offered by Progeny Press or Total Language Plus . Both of these publishers
offer a good variety of novels and study guides for the high school

Do keep records of the books your children read for these academic
courses. They may come in handy should you be asked to detail what
those English courses covered.


Mark Twain once said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no
advantage over the man who can't read them." So, in addition to the
books your teen reads for his academic English course, encourage him
to read for pleasure. Pleasure reading should be just what the name
implies--reading for joy, delight, and personal satisfaction--no
assignment, no deadline, no questions to complete for discussion. Your
goal is to persuade your child to see books as friends. It's not that
pleasure reading can't be educational, but removing the pressure of
"having to learn" from a book will allow your teen to simply enjoy the
time spent reading.
Plan to incorporate into your school day a 30-minute or so reading
time where you and all the children retreat to quiet individual places
to enjoy reading while munching a light snack before hitting the
school books again. Or consider choosing an exciting book on tape to
play only while the family is eating lunch or dinner together--beware,
though, they may begin to eat VERY slowly!

Why not start a list of book suggestions for your teen and have him
check off the books he reads during the high school years? Some
colleges, including Patrick Henry College, require that students
applying for admission submit their high school reading list. Here are
some resources that will give you many suggestions for books to place
on your list. Divide up the list into categories (missionary
biographies, historical novels, personal interest books, etc.) and ask
your teen to vary his reading selections by choosing books from as
many different categories as he can.

We preface these reading lists by remembering Paxton Hood's excellent
advice: "Be as careful of the books you read, as the company you keep;
for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former
as by the latter."

Read for Your Life by Gladys Hunt

Great Books of the Christian Tradition by Terry Glaspey

Invitation to the Classics by Louise Cowan and Os Guinness

Reading Between the Lines: A Christian Guide to Literature by Gene
Edward Veith

Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children's Literature by
Elizabeth Laraway Wilson and Susan Schaeffer McCauley

College Board's 101 Great Books Recommended for College Bound Readers

Center for Applied Research in Education

These two reference books also contain suggested reading lists for

The High School Handbook by Mary Schoefield

Homeschooling High School: Planning Ahead for College Admission


Some of you may have one child who is a voracious reader--she may wear
out her library card before too long!--and another child who not only
does not like to read, but actually sees reading as a form of
punishment! Same parents, same genetic heredity, same trips to the
library each week, same "I read aloud to both of them," and yet they
have very different reading appetites. God has certainly made each one
of us unique, hasn't He? Here are some ideas to help you motivate
your reluctant reader:

* Biographies are a good place to start--reading about the lives of
individuals with both their struggles and accomplishments is something
we can easily relate to.

* Find an area of interest and take a minute to research books on the
topic. Categories might include: particular authors, science
fiction/fantasy, adventure stories, mysteries, the classics, settings
in specific geographical areas, sports, historical fiction and many,
many more.

* Books on tape are a great way to introduce a new author and perhaps
entice an unmotivated reader. Public libraries usually have a wide
assortment of books on tape.

* Take it in small chunks--perhaps ask your teen to read for 10 or 15
minutes as you prepare his breakfast or lunch each day; or while you
are cooking, ironing, folding laundry, have her read out loud to you
so you both can enjoy the story.

* Reading aloud to your children (yes, even your teens) will not only
bring you all together for a time, but also train their listening
skills. Be sure to keep their attention by reading with expression.

Don't be discouraged if your child is not a reader--he or she may just
need time. Neither of our husbands frequented books as youngsters, but
now as adults, they both name reading as their favorite pastime and
enjoy their children surprising them with gift certificates from a
bookstore. Also, we both have sons who choked on books in high school,
but one of us is happy to report that a book actually made last
Christmas' wish list! Miracles do happen!

We hope your teen catches the excitement of expanding his or her
reading interests and exploring new people, places, and ideas through

Monday, March 15, 2010

St. Patrick

Never too late for one more St. Patrick's Day resource.  You have to grab it this week because it's one of CurrClick's free resources they send out every Monday.  If you haven't signed up for them yet, what are you waiting for?  This resource is at St Patrick: The World's Greatest Missionary

Friday, March 12, 2010

Free Notebooking Samples sent out their email with their monthly freebies.
One set was for St. Patrick's Day.  St. Patrick's Notebooking pages
Another is a set of North American Birds that they will start selling next week!  Get your cardinal sample now: Cardinal Sample Notebooking Pages

Remeber, sign up for all these great sites.  They send you freebies and ideas all the time.  I usually try to save things if I can.  That way if I don't need them for now, I can always have them for later!

Cool Coloring Page Site

I was looking for more coloring pages to go along with my composers and artist I wrote about in my last post.  I came across Super Coloring which has over 10,000 coloring pages.  Yes, I actually found a coloring page of Chopin, Bach, and more just on this FREE site.

An Arts Education

I have been wanting to expose my DD to more classical composers and artists.  It's very easy to just get so focused on the 3Rs that all other things lapse.  I wanted to share with you what I was attempting to do this month.

First, I consulted an events calendar like the one at Enchanted Learning.  I don't recall if that's for members only, but if so, I know there are others online.  From the calendar, I picked Chopin who's birthday was March 1, J.S. Bach who's birthday is March 21, and Vincent Van Gogh who's birthday is March 30. 

Second, I went to my library's online catalog and let my fingers do the walking through the books.  There are actually a lot of books available on different musicians and artists at various levels.  Most are at least read-aloud level to younger children.  I very rarely actually go the the library to pick out books.  It saves me so much time to have them pick them for me, so I can just run in and check out!

Third, I found some additional resources to support the books.  I found a cool website at Classical Archives . They have all the greats composers and offer many selections for listening to free online.  At least enough to give the taste of the composer.   Don't forget Youtube as a possible source, too.  We watched/listened to Horowitz play Chopin.  Two masters in one sitting! As far as artists go, many websites offer copies of various pieces of art for students to color themselves.  Again, I went to Enchanted Learning for some copies of art.

Fourth, now do it.  Reading books about composers and artists are just as much a part of reading aloud as any other book.  Just  substitute these books for a day.  Listen to the composer while you read the book or while you do schoolwork.  Take a few minutes to do the copy of the artist's painting.  Sure, you can get all kinds of arts-fartsy art supplies, but just plain ole' coloring with crayons or colored pencils can be beneficial as well. Personally, at this point, I'm more concerned with exposure to great works than making my dd into an artist!

Fifth is a step for those of us who do classical studies or Charlotte Mason.  Journal it!  Write down or have your student write down some facts about what you read and learned.  You could even do it on the back of the artwork if you wanted.  Again, this brings it back into the Language Arts realm which means more bang for you buck, so to speak!

You know, even if you couldn't find time to fit something like this into your normal schedule, maybe you could add it for something fun to do during the summer.  Oh, as far as some things are available only to members while others are available to all.  I personally went ahead and joined because it does offer a great variety of things on one site and the time it saves me is worth it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 14 is Pi Day!

Pi Day is just a few days away.  If you go to, you can even send emails! Found a cute website Easy as Pi-Pi Day and here's a list of things you could do:

Celebrate with fruit pies, cream pies, and pizza pie!

You can also have Oreos, cookies, cake, candies, doughnuts, pineapple slices, and any other foods that are round.

Decorate a cake with the pi symbol on it.

Have a pi eating contest.

Go on a scavenger hunt to find objects shaped like a circle.

On the circles you've found, use a piece of string to "prove" pi by measuring their circumference and diameter.

Read "Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi," by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan.

Watch "Donald in Mathmagic Land" (elementary school) or "Stand and Deliver" (high school).

Make a list of words that contain "pi" - pinecone, pineapple, pirate, etc.

Look for numerical patterns in pi.

See how many digits of pi you can memorize. (Hint: divide it into 5-digit "zip" codes for easier remembering.)

Have a competition to see which student has memorized the most digits of pi. Here are the first 100 digits:

Recite pi as a team by dividing it into 5-digit segments, one for each student in the class to memorize.

Let kids take turns writing the digits of pi in chalk on a sidewalk and see how long they can make it.

Host a Math Fair where students bring in projects related to pi or mathematical themes.

Have a "Pi-athalon" featuring a "pi-mile run" (3.14 miles).

Play math games and pi trivia quizzes.

Make "pi-dye" t-shirts with math designs on them.

Design a pi poster; write a pi poem; send a "valentine" to a loved one that says U R A Q T .

Dress up as a famous mathemetician. (Hint: March 14 is also Albert Einstein's birthday.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

E-Sword--Free Bible Software

I wanted to share with you an awesome resource I found out about. It's a free software program. It was even recommended at by my church. The basic installation includes the King James Version, King James Version w/ Strong's numbers, and Strong's dictionary, but then you can add many commentaries, dictionaries, and some other translations for free. There are also some other selections that you can choose to purchase.

Here's the Link  to the site.

I was excited because I was able to download the Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary! It's a great resource.

Obey First and Then We'll Talk About It

Another great email from Biblical Parenting.

Parenting Tip

March 4, 2010

Obey First and Then We'll Talk About It

When parents give an instruction but children don't want to comply or it's not convenient for them, sometimes they need to learn to "obey first and then we'll talk about it." This emphasizes obedience.

If little Brian has pulled a chair over to the counter and is climbing onto it, you may say, "Brian, we don’t climb on chairs."

"But I was just…"

"No, you need to get down. Obey first and then we'll talk about it." Once he gets down, discuss the problem and find a solution together.

"Karl, go get your pajamas on."

"I don't want to go to bed."

"No, obey first and then we'll talk about it."

To some parents this may sound like blind obedience. We've all heard stories about people who were led into cultish activity because they couldn't think for themselves. No parent wants a child to fall into a pattern of blindly following a leader's instructions, but evaluating instructions is an advanced skill.

Many parents have gone too far in the other direction ending up with children who can't follow simple instructions without a dialogue. Parents sometimes believe they have to talk their child into wanting to obey. Inadvertently, these parents teach their children that if you don't like a request then that's enough reason to resist it. These children make poor employees, develop selfish attitudes about following someone else's leadership, and have a difficult time in relationships because they haven't learned how to sacrifice their own agenda for others.

Talking is important but sometimes even we, as adults, must obey first and then understand later. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son without fully understanding and then considered it faith for him to obey. Peter didn't know why he was to go to Cornelius' house but went anyway only to discover that God wanted to bring salvation to the Gentiles. Philip was asked to leave a revival in Samaria and go out into the wilderness, not knowing why, but when he got there he led an Ethiopian man to Christ.

Evaluating instructions is an advanced skill and will become important later on but children need to learn that sometimes we all must "obey first and then we'll talk about it."

This parenting tip comes from the book Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

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St. Patrick's Day

I hold St. Patrick's Day in high esteem, but not the way it's usually celebrated with little leprechauns and pots of gold.  I like to focus on the true meaning of the day which is celebrating the life of the first Christian missionary to Ireland.  Shamrocks are acceptable because they can teach about the Trinity.

My position does bring me some notice.  We were at a store the other day when mija noticed the "green stuff."  She asked me again what St. Patrick's Day was again.  I definitely got a few looks from people around me when I said it's a day that we remember Patrick who was the first missionary to Ireland and told them about God!

Anyway, will all that in mind, I decided to gather some St. Patrick stuff to share.  Yes, some will have leprechauns and such, but as long as the main focus is the truth, I'm "down" with it! :-)

St. Patrick Day Unit from

Easy Fun School St. Patrick resources

Home School Share-St. Patrick's Day in the Morning

A Book in Time--Saints

Lesson Plans Page--St. Patricks Day Patrick's Day

The Teacher's Guide--St. Patrick's Day

A to Z Teacher's Stuff

Knowledge House--St. Patrick

Well, there's a few places to visit!  Hope it helps.

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