Friday, April 30, 2010

Field Trip Factory

Can't beat free field trips.  Got this from a loop I'm on.  It's Field Trip Factory.  Just put in your zip code and find a few things around where you are located.

Found out about this really cool site from a loop I'm on.  It's called International Children's Digital Library. They have over a 1000 books easily available and they are in a wide variety of languages.  Imagine you're learning about a country and then looking at a picture book from that country's language. Or read a book in a language you are learning.  

Registering is optional and free. Users who register can:
  • select the language they prefer to use
  • return to the last page they were reading
  • save their favorite books in a personal bookshelf
  • access these features from any computer
  • help improve the ICDL by telling us a bit about themselves




Books for Sale!!

I heard about this on another loop, so I thought I'd share.  Haven't purchased anything from here, but it looks really good.  It not only had books, but also some other educational stuff.  It's

The Best Way to Punish Your Kids

This is from the Desiring God Blog of John Piper.

The Best Way to Punish Your Kids

April 30, 2010
By: Tyler Kenney
Category: Recommendations

In his autobiography, John Paton, Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides, reflects on how his father so effectively responded his children's disobedience:

If anything really serious required to be punished, he retired first to his "closet" for prayer, and we boys got to understand that he was laying the whole matter before God; and that was the severest part of the punishment for me to bear! I could have defied any amount of mere penalty, but this spoke to my conscience as a message from God.

We loved him all the more, when we saw how much it cost him to punish us; and, in truth, he had never very much of that kind of work to do upon any one of all the eleven—we were ruled by love far more than by fear. (John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides, p.17, paragraphing added)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Copywork – What’s it All About?

by Betsy Stout at Notebooking Nook

Copywork is exactly what it sounds like... copying! Your child will spend a few minutes each day copying great pieces of work from a wide variety of sources – literature, poetry, scripture, fables, quotes, and so on. While your child is copying these great works, emphasize the importance of using their very best penmanship and making their copy as close to the original as possible. By using this method, your child will see the proper way to punctuate, usage of different parts of speech, as well as capitalization. Basically, they will see how a great piece of literature should look and be written.

Copywork will allow your child to see different writing styles and structure, which in turn, if consistent, will help them become better writers. If your child can manage it, have them look and write the whole word instead of letter by letter, this will assist them in becoming better spellers. My younger children who started out doing copywork from the start are much better writers and spellers. They don't seem to have to work so hard at spelling. My older children who began copywork later struggled a bit more. That’s not to say copywork was a for sure cure for spelling, however, I do believe it helped a lot.

If your child is very young, you can start with the formation of their letters. Spend only as much time as your child can handle doing this. Once this is mastered you will move on to words, sentences, verses and poems. I’ve designed some primary copywork sets that work nicely for practice.

Allow them to illustrate their pages or find pages that are made for copywork practice. Placing these pages in a notebook is a great way to store their work. This allows them to not only be able to show off their beautiful penmanship to grandparents and friends, but also allows both you and your child to see their progression. My kids often like to illustrate or color a picture that goes along with their copywork for the day. Some children enjoy illustrating their own pictures while others enjoy coloring pictures already provided for them. Copywork notebooks allow your child to add any illustration, making them very personal.

Over the years I've done different things to get my children motivated about doing their copywork – I used to keep separate jars with scripture verses, quotes, and poems and they would pull them out and that was their copywork for the day. We still alternate days doing a verse, quote, poem, literature and their choice for each day of the week. However, some selections take more than one day to complete. One bookshelf in my schoolroom is dedicated to keeping books of poetry, fables, quotes and so forth. I also keep a notebook where I continually add verses, poems and quotes to be used for copywork.

In short, if you choose to use this method, you will find that your child will become better at spelling, writing, grammar and penmanship. It is so simple to implement, there really is no reason to not give it a try!

One of those days

Yesterday was one of those days when it came down to doing math.  We were working on double digit subtraction.  I knew she was totally capable of doing it since when she slowed down and talked it through with me, she did it just fine.   BUT no, her perfectionism had to come out.  When one problem went a little wrong, it became the end of the world and the diva came out.

Of course, this was not in my plans.  I had figured out that I needed to cover two lessons a day in order to finish the school year when the principal wanted me.  I know, it's wrong to be frustrated because you see your child as an obstacle.  It's a sin in which my personality type often fall.  I often put things and the order of things before people.

Well, I decided I was going to meet by dd where she was.  There was no use in going on if she didn't master the material and her behavior.  We worked on it off and on the rest of the day.  I mean literally the rest of the day because we didn't stop until a half an hour before bedtime!

We would do a few problems.  Then she would melt down.  Then we'd do a few more.  Eventually, the behavior problems lessened in severity and time while the quality of the work improved.  In fact, it improved so much that I was able to be sneeky and introduce the next elements of subtraction she would be using.

Did it work?  I think it did.  We were able to get through 2 1/2 lessons today without much heartbreak.  She recalled a lot and needed very little reminding.

So, it was one of those days yesterday, but it resulted in a much more pleasant day (so far!).

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Is Copywork?

The question "What Is Copywork?" is answered in this article form

Copywork is copying a piece of well-written work, from any variety of sources, onto paper or into a notebook. The student copies from a written selection using his best penmanship to create a "perfect copy" that is properly spaced and includes all proper capitalization and punctuation marks. It is a method, that when used consistently in your homeschooling studies, will improve your child's penmanship, grammar, and punctuation skills as well as expose him to a variety of writing styles, structures, and techniques.

Do not mistake copywork for mindless handwriting practice. There are a variety of ideas of what exactly copywork is depending on what source you are reading. I am referring to copywork that is based on copying great sources of literature. Copywork is giving your child time with great writers by copying their finest works. It's a bit of a mentoring session as the child sits down to focus on the flow of words and mechanics of the piece he is copying. Yes, it seems a very simple skill, but use it consistently and you'll be impressed with its subtle effect on your child.

Getting Started with Copywork

Where do you start with copywork? You start at the beginning which with the youngest child means you begin with the alphabet. You can use our notebooking pages to create his own Alphabet Notebook. First, you'll need to write the letter(s) being practiced for him to copy. Then, he will form them himself on the line(s) that follow. The goal is for him to copy these letters as perfectly as possible and leave an appropriate space between them. You will not want to exasperate him by requiring too much during this exercise. Only require as much as can be accomplished in a five to ten minute period for a young child.

Idea: Create an alphabet notebook.

Suppose you start with the letter A. Create a letter A page from one of our primary-lined notebooking pages. Choose a page with a few lines for his writing and a space(s) for his letter A artwork. In the artwork space (s), he could draw or glue pictures of things that begin with A. Have him copy up to one row of letters and add 1-2 pictures. Then, the next time you do copywork continue on to a different letter(s) doing the same thing. Review periodically by having him come back to add more letters and pictures to the unfinished pages until they are complete. You may want to mark the date somehow next to each new set of letters or place a sticker after each day's copywork so both you and he can watch his progress. Check out our Alphabet Copywork Notebooking Pages.

After mastering his letters, you will move on to words, then sentences, then paragraphs, and so on. A great way to add to his first Alphabet Notebook would be to have him add a scripture for each letter of the alphabet! Gradually add length to the copywork as he matures and his abilities improve. Occasionally, or as he has time, add artwork to the pages as well. Continue to save these notebooking pieces in his copywork notebook. If he starts off well on a particular piece of copywork and begins to become sloppy by the end or is making multiple mistakes, then you may have chosen a selection that is too long. Break the selection into smaller chunks and divide it up over a number of days. The goal with copywork is not to produce large volumes of writing. Instead, our goals are to improve his penmanship, to increase his ability to give his best efforts, to improve his ability to pay attention to details, and to make him naturally more familiar with grammar, the usage of punctuation/capitalization rules and a variety of writing styles, structures, and techniques.

How Often Should I Assign Copywork?

Copywork may be done daily. When my children are first learning to form letters, both manuscript and cursive, I assign it daily remembering to assign appropriate amounts that challenge them without exasperating them. When they are proficient in forming letters and words without assistance, then we cut this back to about 3 days a week. Sometimes the kids will get excited about a particular notebooking topic and will want to add more copywork during their free time - so of course, this is allowed!

What Should We Use for Copywork?

If you are reading this page, then I assume you are probably using or wanting to use notebooking in your homeschooling day. Add copywork to any study that you are currently notebooking. Choose a selection from one of your literature books, poetry readings, or other well-written book. Make sure to include selections from the classics, Shakespeare, Aesop's Fables for younger children, famous pieces of work like the Declaration of Independence, and favorite passages from the Bible.

Choose passages of scripture for copywork and use this time to help with scripture memorization. If you are notebooking through the Bible, choose a key passage to add to each story being studied. Use your favorite hymns for copywork.

I hesitate to say use a textbook, just because they are usually so dry in their content, but perhaps you have a well-written textbook or encyclopedia - give it a try. Usborne books are great alternatives to the normal textbook or encyclopedia. My kids especially like to use the Usborne books to add copywork to their history and science notebooking projects.

A great year-long notebooking project would be to collect quotes from either one particular study or from all of your studies. Take turns letting the kids choose their own and mixing them with ones you find especially inspiring. A long-term notebooking and copywork project for an older student might be to collect meaningful passages of scriptures or whole chapters from a favorite book such as Psalms or Proverbs. How about a notebook full of favorite quotes?

How to Find and Correct Mistakes in Copywork

It is really best to train your child from the beginning to find their own mistakes. Their copy needs to be letter perfect as well punctuation perfect and of course written in their very best handwriting. After my child is sure she has found all of her mistakes, she places a reusable sticky tab in the book where she was copying from and a sticky tab in her copybook where she did her work that day (if you will not be able to look over it right away this is a tremendous help!). Then, when I sit down to look at the children's work for the day, I can quickly open up to the passage and to their own copywork. I use a pencil to lightly put a dot at the end of each row of copywork for each mistake I see in the copying. I do not point out what kind of mistake they have made. I just put a dot for each mistake. Then, they have to go back to compare their work with the original to find their mistake(s). This helps to train them to be better editors of their own work. Then they bring it back to me again. We continue this process until it is perfect. When the copywork is letter perfect and punctuation perfect, I lightly write my initials at the bottom of the copywork section so that we know it is finished. It is imperative that the work be checked and corrected in order for copywork to be an effective method for your children. It is a training process. I find that helping them to become better editors in the way I've explained here has been extremely helpful in making copywork a more natural part of our day.

Our Resources for Copywork

Any of our notebooking products will work wonderfully for your student's copywork. All you essentially need is lined paper! Our products have lots of different layouts to choose from all with varying amounts of lines for his writing and spaces for his artwork. Check out our Copywork Notebook Pages which were created specifically for the varying lengths and literary styles of copywork.

For your beginning student, you will want to choose pages that have primary-lines (the ones with the dotted center). We have some of these in our free homeschooling resources section of the site and we also sell 100 primary-lined notebooking pages in our combined Basic Lined Set in our Notebooking Pages Store. For older students, purchase any of our Copywork Notebook Pages sets. Or you may also choose our Basic Lined Set which offers a variety of notebooking pages that can be used for any subject or activity including copywork. If you would like topic-specific pages for your student's copywork or notebooking, check out our growing selection of specialized notebooking sets.

Homeschool Method: Narration had this article about narration.  It addresses how to use narration in a few different subjects.

Homeschool Method: NarrationsI first learned of narrations years ago when we were reading Susan Wise Bauer's history series, The Story of the World. She gave wonderful suggestions for narrations. At the time though, we were following a hectic school schedule and were still fairly clueless of what we were doing, so the narrations very rarely happened. Thankfully, I was reintroduced to this method a few years later and WOW what a difference it has made in our children's education.

Narration is very simply the telling back of what was just read. You read aloud to your children and they tell you back what was read. Your children read to themselves and they come tell you what they read. It is a very simple idea. However, having tried this skill myself, it is definitely not something most of us would find so easy to do. It is a skill that must be practiced consistently. We have been very successful with our narrations and I think it is because we started so gently. We have tried to follow Charlotte Mason's approach with our narrations.

Charlotte Mason and Narrations

The following links will take you directly to Charlotte Mason's writings on narration and to articles written by those who have studied them much more deeply than I have.

Charlotte Mason's Writings:
Original Series~Read IX The Art of Narrating
Modern Paraphrase~Scroll down to Part IX The Art of Narrating

Other links to Narration articles:
Karen Andreola, author of The Charlotte Mason Companion et al.
Catherine Levison, author of A Charlotte Mason Education et al.
Narration Ideas from
Narration Tips from Susan Wise Bauer co-author of The Well-Trained Mind

Below is a peek into how we have incorporated narrations into our Bible, History, and Science studies.

How We Have Incorporated Narrations

For our Bible story time, we use the VOS Child's Story Bible as a family. First, I assign the actual Bible passages for the children to read during their quiet times from their own Bibles (and I do this as well). They have a quiet time journal they keep where they keep track of prayer requests and notes about what they feel the Lord is teaching them at the time. I assign their Bible readings to them for a couple days and they choose what to read for the remaining days. We come together for the reading from the story Bible. They tag team narrate, orally, after each small section of reading. If the reading was particularly full of lots of details, we may jot down some key words for a very informal outline of what was read. I especially like to write any names and dates we come across so that they will be more inclined to use them. Then, after we have covered the reading for the day, they will do a written narration for their notebooking pages. My older children will write their own narrations without much aid from me. The youngest ones will need me to write down their narrations for them at least in part.

We only do one formal written narration for Bible each week. I keep our read aloud time short, perhaps 2 pages or so (which equates to about 1-2 chapters from the Bible usually). At the beginning of the year, I map out the full plan for the year so as to keep us at this pace. If we read too much more than this, we would get bogged down in too many details each week. Following this pace allows us time to really enjoy each reading. After the written narrations are finished, we spend the remaining days of the week building our Bible notebooks by adding maps, drawings, timelines, coloring pages, Bible copywork, and such. If time remains, we will also spend some extra read aloud time in a devotional book or book about missionaries, like Missionary Stories with the Millers.


For History, we usually have one or two main read alouds we do as a family and at least one literature book for each child. We do the same process as with our Bible study - orally narrating after small sections of reading, but we do not always write the same day that we read. If possible we do, but it is not always the case. With the Bible, you are usually following one main story line, whereas with History you are possibly covering several story lines, several (to many) people, and events. It may take several days before we finish a whole concept. Also, with the Bible, I am more concerned about getting as much of each story into the children's hearts and mind. In History, I am more concerned that they are getting the bigger picture. If the kids do not do a written narration on a day of reading, I make sure that we write down a key word outline from their oral narrations or at least some basic notes to keep on the white board until their day of writing. Then after two-three days of reading, I usually let the kids pick a person, event, place, or major theme (or combination of these) for them to focus on in their notebooking pages. Then, we sit down to writing the narrations and filling up our notebooking pages with all of the other elements. So we do two-three days of mostly reading and then about 3 days of notebooking. Each of these days, the kids will be reading their own literature books independently and doing occasional oral narrations for me from them (just to make sure they are comprehending what they are reading). Typically, we do not notebook from their independent history literature books, except for biographies, unless they are inclined to do so.


Most of our children's science work is done on their own during their free afternoons - truly! They are so naturally drawn to God's creation and will sit down with books, experiments, bugs, reptiles (and other creatures) and just study to satisfy their hunger for knowledge. You will undoubtedly find on any given occasion jars filled with their various finds in our family/school room. They are fascinated with the way things work and because we limit their exposure to electronic media, they have not lost their ability to entertain themselves or their desire to read books. In fact, here lately, they tend to be taking apart all of the electronic toys they own in order to see if they can put them back together or make an entirely different gizmo of some sort. To keep their curiosity growing, we make sure to bring home a variety of science books from the library to expose them to a multitude of topics. They have learned far more about science on their own than from me! For this "informal" study of science, I encourage the kids to come tell me what they are learning (oral narrations) and to occasionally make pages for their notebooks with written narrations about their experiences with these topics that fascinate them.

Now I do have several specific science books and curriculum guides that we use in a more formal sense as well as many field guides and living nature books for our nature studies. Usually after about a week's study in history, we will take 3-4 days to study something specific in science. (This schedule varies from year to year and season to season. Most recently their Dad has been leading them once a week in a science study.) I love the combination of books and curriculums we have purchased: 106 Days of Creation, Considering God's Creation, and the Elementary Apologia Series. This combination of books will last us for several years. Click here to find links for these homeschooling resources. We notebook whatever we are studying in a variety of ways. We will do biography pages (short written narrations based on snippets we read from a book or encyclopedia), experiment pages, narration pages on specific topics covered. We also try to go out once a week to find something in nature to do a page about. We tend to do more nature study throughout the spring and summer and so we will back off on some of our history studying to make time for this. This works well because in the winter months it can be a bit difficult to study nature. So we focus more heavily on the history during those months.

Final Note

Regardless of what we are studying, narrations are a top priority for me. If we do not have time for anything else, we make sure to do at least oral narrations from our studies. I cannot tell you how amazing this skill is. I am convinced that it truly prepares the kids to become greater writers. After much practice, the words just flow for my kids. With a little formal training to help "dress up" their writing and to structure it properly, they will become great writers and speakers some day! I get pumped up thinking about how God will use my children in their future with the skills they are developing. I know it is from practiced narrations that my children are able to sit through a sermon on Sundays and come away knowing more and remembering more than most adults. Even though they sit and color for most of the sermon, their ears have been trained to truly listen and digest what they are listening to. Narration is a skill that is worth its investment of time. It takes some training on your part to consistently lead the children in building this skill, but if you handle it gently and take small steps, you will eventually see the great strides they are making and be just as amazed as I am.

Why a Schoolteacher is Quitting Her Job and Homeschooling

This terrific article was from Ladies Against Feminism

Posted By Tess Bomac on April 23, 2010
About The Author

Tess Bomac

Tess Bomac is a writer and teacher. She works part time and is slowly helping her school prepare for her permanent departure in the spring of 2011, when she hopes to be home full time with her son and Baby #2. She loves reading, writing, piano, and baking all of her own bread. She aspires to know Christ Jesus through prayer, study, and community. If you want to make her angry, use the phrase "it's all relative." If you want to make her happy, send her vegetarian recipes and book recommendations.

At my annual review yesterday, my principal gave me quite the compliment. He said, “I love the way you make everyone around you want to be smarter. I finish talking to you and I think to myself, ‘I’ve got to read more!’” We talked about that for a bit, and I realized that the thing that makes me valuable as a schoolteacher is the same thing that makes leaving my job and homeschooling imperative. That thing is a love of excellence.My parents were committed to getting me an excellent education, and thus moved me around from school to school. I went to seven different schools by the time I was in ninth grade. I was the “new kid” for all three years of junior high. I went to a variety of schools, including an all-girls school, a progressive public school, and then a fantastically wealthy public high school that looked like a country club. I also spent three years being homeschooled full-time during elementary school, and homeschooled myself part-time for the last two years of high school. (Yes, you really can do that.)

I can say that every school I went to was exceptionally damaging to my sense of self-worth and my education. Being the socially clueless kid with a bad hair cut (and, later, with train wreck acne) did me no favors in a system where being pretty and hip is a prerequisite to being accepted. Each of my schools had a different system of education where the focus seemed to be on new methods and rearranging the desks every few months. None of the schools focused on assessing student learning. One could know nothing about the subject being tested, fail the test, and get a B because of homework and participation. That kind of grade reflects docility, not knowledge. Nobody seems to care if students actually learn anything, so long as it looks like the teacher is teaching. That’s an important distinction.

The only types of schooling that worked for me were homeschooling and college. I’ve never been good at staying focused on tasks that are drawn out. If learning a new math skill should take 10 minutes to teach and 50 minutes to practice, then so be it—I’m your girl. I’ll listen closely, work hard, and follow your advice. However, I have never been able to focus on a 45-minute lecture while sifting out the 10 minutes worth of usable material. My response in school was always, “I guess I don’t really need to know this, since nobody can explain how it works or why it’s useful.” Asking things like, “How can I use this information?” or “How will I know that I’ve mastered this skill?” were treated like mutiny. (I don’t remember this, but eyewitnesses swear that it’s true: when I was a junior in high school, a few weeks into an allegedly tough English class, the teacher, who routinely graded papers with college-level rubrics, had us pick out plastic animal figurines from a bag, then sculpt our bodies so that we resembled the animal. Apparently my response was, “This is malarkey; I am not doing it,” and then I walked out of the classroom. I do remember dropping the class and homeschooling myself in English, German, and humanities for the rest of the year, taking just a few classes for the rest of high school.)

Based on my experience, I believe that students in regular classrooms learn many self-defeating lessons from their teachers and classmates. These include:
  • The rules are always changing, and since you never know when the teacher is going to enforce them, try to get away with as much as you can until she starts screaming. Then blame your neighbor.
  • You don’t need to think about your education. The teacher will decide what you should learn, you’ll do the things that she decides matter, then she’ll give you a grade that represents how well you can follow arbitrary directions.  
  • While the teacher can make mistakes and move deadlines all the time, you will be penalized if you misunderstand the directions.
  • Almost everything you learn is a measure of your docility, not your intelligence or your effort.  
  • Working with others is more important than learning actual content. Group projects, no matter how unfair, inefficient, and tedious are here to stay, and if you complain about it taking 10 hours out of class to make a collage that demonstrates 15-minutes worth of learning, tough. Life isn’t fair.
  • Life isn’t fair, so thus it is okay for me to be unfair.
  • Don’t question textbooks, even though most of them are riddled with errors and omissions.  
  • Learning is for school, school is painfully monotonous, so learning must be boring, too.  
  • Learning is for school, so once the day ends, you’re free to do whatever you find fun.  
  • Learning can only take place in hard plastic desks, in crowded classrooms, while being told exactly what to do.
  • Nothing is more important than fitting in. If you don’t fit in, there must be something wrong with you. Maybe you should buy some more accessories? Try a different hair style?
  • The earlier you start dating, the more important and grown up you are.  
  • Talking about Jesus is for people who are “not open minded” and are “trying to push their beliefs on others.” Incidentally, would you like to wear a rainbow pin to support the gay marriage?
  • Reading in school? Are you crazy? We have to get ready for the state tests!

As an adult, I find myself reading and studying to make up for the fact that, during most of my years in “regular school,” I didn’t learn anything. Nothing. I can barely describe who fought in major wars, the type of government France has, the capitol of more than half of our 50 states, how to calculate compound interest, how to diagram a sentence, how mitochondria fuel cells, or how electricity makes its way through power lines and into my computer. Given the state of education, I’m lucky I can read, and that was something I learned while homeschooling.

 I spent eight hours a day, 180 days a year, waiting for the teacher to get to the point or for the class to stop talking or for us to stop reviewing, for the third time, the material we had already learned, in order to help the kids who had talked right through it the first two times. School is tough on the good kids, because they don’t have the solace of goofing off and enjoying time with their friends in class. They might spend 30-50% of their time in school watching the teacher manage the behavior of other students, while getting scolded for reading during the downtime.

Modern-day schooling is a daily exercise in mediocrity, or worse. Students are taught in hundreds of ways, all day long, that your output doesn’t matter, how much you’re learning doesn’t matter, what you think about it doesn’t matter. What matters are grades and popularity.

I am going to homeschool because I want my kids to have the courage to defend their Faith. (As I recall, there’s nothing quite so scary as being 18 and the only orthodox Christian in a room and having to explain to a humanities teacher that “No, birth control is not ‘the answer to abortion;’ it’s the cause. No, I’m not an idiot, but since you were able to give your left-wing spiel to a captive audience, for the sake of keeping your Church out of my State school, let me offer a rebuttal.”) Some people will say that homeschooling is akin to hiding the world’s problems from your kids; that you prepare them for a soft world that doesn’t exist. I would argue that a well-balanced education will show your kids the reality of the world far more than sitting in a politically biased classroom. (I also fail to understand why shielding kids for a few extra years is akin to child abuse. Does a seven-year-old really need to know about STDs?)

I want my kids to nourish their curiosity, to learn by doing, to write and create for an authentic audience, to have the strength to stand up for their beliefs and the know-how to do so effectively. I want my kids to read, read, read, and then write something personal. I want them to love God’s word, to thirst for it. I want them to see how math and science are fun excursions into God’s How, and philosophy and theology adventures into his Why. I want them to look around and say, “I want to learn more about that!” and “Can we PUH-lease go to the library an extra time this week?”

It’s not all spiritual or academic reasons that keep me up at night debating how structured our schooling will be. (I used to fantasize about being famous. Now I revel in imagining how our son and his future siblings will enjoy mixing formal curriculum with homegrown learning.) A huge reason homeschooling makes a difference is because of how it builds family relationships.

What shows me that homeschooling is powerful is the lens through which mothers see their children. Many, many mothers in my circle can’t wait for their youngest to leave for school, since family time is riddled with bickering, whining, and general disobedience. Parents struggle to get their children to comply with basic commands, let alone with developing self-discipline. Every day is an exhausting struggle with no end in sight. In all fairness, this is exactly what women have been told to expect out of motherhood, and why they are encouraged to “have a life.” Many people don’t know it can be otherwise.

 What I see in families who homeschool is a willingness to tackle problems early. Tommy is being disobedient? Let’s deal with that directly, as often as needed, rather than waiting until he does something “really bad.” Since Tommy is given regular guidance, and his parents love him and know him intimately, Tommy soon starts to develop better habits and becomes a more pleasant child. Tommy’s parents don’t want to send him away to school in order to escape his tirades for a blessed eight hours; they want him to stay home so they can enjoy his company, and rear him like the treasure he is. They don’t “manage” his behavior, they disciple him, and he becomes a more socialized member of the family.

 I dream that my children will love each other and will feel without a doubt that they are loved, valued members of the family. They will know through family prayer, habits, and ways of speaking that they are treasured. If God loves us passionately and completely, how better for our children to know God than to fully experience parental love at home? If I want my children to be well socialized, how better to do it than in a multi-age setting that emphasizes moral development? If I want my children to know that they are inherently beautiful and worthy, why would I send them to a school where only the pretty girls and the athletic boys are treated kindly? If I want them to be educated, why would I send them to a system that has demonstrated no ability to educate young people?

 I say this as someone who currently teaches: the best teachers a child can have are loving parents. While I know that I am a gifted teacher in the classroom, I yearn to become an integrated whole: a mother who teaches her children and models for them God’s loving, constant presence.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More Websites

Cleaning out my old email again.  Here are some more websites that are cool.  I will also list them on my new page of websites.  Got some of these from Homeschool4free Yahoo Group

State Tetris

Literature study guides and full text copies of classics

Creation Science Links

Online Science Videos

Answers in Genesis: Kids Answers

Friday, April 23, 2010

Free Printable Flash Card Maker.

This site isn't pretty but it's very practical.  You can make your own flashcards!  Any subject!  The link is Free Printable Flash Card Maker

Some ideas for flash cards could include:
  • Math facts and equations (of course)
  • Spelling words
  • Word Definitions
  • Histroy facts
  • Science facts
  • Foreign language vocabulary
  • Bible Verses
  • Latin conjugates
  • Authors & their books
  • Artist & their art (titles or get pictures and glue on the back)
Hope that gives you some ideas!

Weather Website

Found out about this from an old email.  The National Weather service has a page for kids with weather games.  The link is NWS Playtime for Kids. 
Thanks to LeaAnn Garfias from Home Education on FB for sharing this funny.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

An example of my adaptation

I've commented that we use Singapore Math as our math curriculum.  On the whole, I've really liked it.  Today, however, I had to make a change for the next section to make it easier for my dd.  I understand their approach which always leans to how to think mathematically.  I don't disagree, but felt I need to change how it was applied.

I'll discuss the path that let to this point.  First, we worked at moving up and down the number grid by adding or subtracting by 1 or 10.  It started more on the concrete side and then moved on to simple equations such as 45 + 10 and 48 - 1. 

Then we moved on to multiples of 10 & 1.  So, 45 - 10 became 45-30 and 48 + 3.  The book then works more with adding a single digit to a double digit.  23 + 5 and even had practice with it broken down.  For instance, they would have the student add 5 + 2 and then 25 + 2 which is supposed to demonstrate the fact that we are simply adding ones and not changing the tens.

The skill of adding 2 digits proceded the same way.  Initially, it was tens + tens like 10 + 60 quickly followed by  44 + 20 or 42  + 70.  I noticed as this point my dd started to struggle a little.  The workbook does show all this equations horizontally.  She started confusing which numerals were the tens and which were the ones.

This really escalated today when neither of the ones was zero.  No only was there confusion about tens and ones then, but I felt the way they addressed it made it all the more confusing.  They would break the second number down into its tens and ones, so 25 + 14 became 25 + 10 + 4.  I totally see what and why the curriculum did this, but when my dd was already starting to confuse tens and one with two numbers, I knew that the practice of adding three numbers would be too much.

What did I do?  I went back to the old faithful addition method in columns.  That way, she could see the ones in one column  and the tens in another.  So when the text had 76 + 14, I had her write it  as 76
(Sorry, don't see my underline button!)   It took her a minutes to learn to transpose the numbers and some encouragement from me to right smaller make the columns neat, but she soon had it under here belt.  We'll see how much she retains for tomorrow! 

So, here's an example of me adapting.  Now, I will also say that a normal-aged, first-grader probably would not have had such a hard time.  With my dd only being 5 1/2, I think adding double digits verticle made it more concrete since she could see the ones and tens together.

The Theology of Crayons

This is from Bulletin Inserts which is a ministry of Christian Communicators Worldwide.  My church had  used this bulletin insert a year or so ago, and I thought it was very thought provoking and applied even to how we teach Bible at home.  Little did I know that the author attended our church, and that I would get to actually know her!  Enjoy.

Susan Verstraete

I learned how to teach Sunday school from the women who taught me as a child. We'd go to class, sing a few songs, repeat a memory verse, listen to a Bible story with a moralistic application and then get out the big box of broken, smelly crayons. I colored my way through the Bible dozens of times during the course of my childhood. It was how things were done. And it's how I did things in my class, too.

And then someone asked me, "What do your students learn by coloring?"

That simple question started a chain of thought. What do they learn from coloring? What do they learn from the songs we sing? Is it enough just to help the children become familiar with Bible stories and send them off with a good moral lesson? Here are a few suggestions based on what I've learned in 20 years of teaching since then.

O be careful little mouth, what you sing. If you sing with your students in Sunday school, take a fresh look at the lyrics and what they teach. For example, nearly all children love to sing "Father Abraham" and perform the movements-but what does it mean to them, really? Or maybe you should try asking your students if they know what fountain is flowing deep and wide (or with bleach and Tide, depending on your song leader). I'm not against having fun with singing in Sunday school, but fun should never be the primary focus of the precious time you have with your students. Review your song list. Does it include songs with faulty theology or confusing lyrics? Believers aren't called to climb Jacob's ladder. Scripture is curiously silent about the location of Sunshine Mountain. We can do better.

My students enjoy singing Scripture set to familiar tunes. We learn one verse at a time and repeat all the songs each week. By the end of the semester they have an impressive number of verses painlessly memorized.1 We also found songs that teach, for example, the books of the Bible, the ten plagues or the names of the disciples.2 You can use easily find more on the Internet or write your own to reinforce your specific lesson. You may want to consider teaching your students some of the old hymns, explaining the lyrics as you all learn them together.

Use crafts strategically. I have a little pile of hot-glued pebbles on my desk—the craft from a recent lesson. Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of Samuel's Ebenezer—his stone of remembrance—and to thank God that wherever I am in the day's schedule, I've come this far with His help (1 Samuel7:12). It's fine to use crafts in class as long as there is a purposeful design behind it and you explain that concept to the children. You might want to create a craft that will help your students keep the memory verse in a place where they will see it, or serve others with gifts for parents or cards for shut ins. Just be sure to ask yourself that same question, "What are my students learning by doing this?" and make sure you convey the desired answer to the children.

Review, review, review. Even if you teach your lesson perfectly (and who does?), by the end of class your students will retain only a small percentage of what you said. By the next Sunday, they'll remember even less. It's vital to review the previous lessons each week in order to give context to what you're teaching and to plant the stories firmly in the minds of your students.

Review can be a part of the lesson the children look forward to. Be creative. In my class, we play a review game nearly every week. Primaries always want to play boys vs. girls, and so we have an ongoing challenge between the sexes. You can find many methods for review games online, like Jeopardy or hangman. There are also variations of board games, where the children advance a token as they correctly answer questions. You might consider having the children play in teams or at least with partners and allow your students to help each other. This avoids embarrassment for the child who doesn't have an answer and teaches the children to support each other.

Theology is not just for grown ups. As you teach through the Bible, you will find natural opportunities to teach big concepts to your class. Don't be afraid to try! Use the right theological terms, but explain them carefully and on the student's level. For example, the story of David and Goliath is the perfect vehicle to teach what it means to think theocentrically.3 Teach the difference between true repentance and remorse with the story of Saul. Explain our desperate need for an alien righteousness when you talk about the Ten Commandments. Children learn complex words in other areas of study, like science and music, so why not in your class, too?

Point to Christ. The ultimate goal of Christian education is to point our students to Christ. To accomplish this, you need to be intentional. Make sure you ask yourself, "What can this story teach my students about sin and salvation?" It's a challenge to find Jesus in every story that you teach, but by doing so you will be blessed by truth and you will bless your students.

1 For example, use the tune for "Jingle Bells" to sing, "For while we-were still weak-at the right time-Christ died for the ungodly. Romans five, verse six." Christian Communicators Worldwide also offers a children's Bible memory program with music at

2 See for some of these resources.

3 You might use a visual aide to help the children see that the Israelite army saw Goliath as big because they didn't have God in the middle of their picture. David saw God as big, and so he saw Goliath as one of God's creations-subject to God's control.

Copyright © 2009 Susan Verstraete
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including web address. All other uses require written permission

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

This if from CurrClick's  4/19/10 Newsletter.  It also offers a cool e-book of Quotations from Shakespeare's Plays Copywork. 

April 23rd is the birthday of William Shakespeare, arguably one of the greatest writers and playwrights of all time. Born in 1564, his plays still speak to what makes us human: love, war, fear, hope, jealousy, magnanimity, courage, and moral virtue. These themes remain popular even today, four centuries later.

Yet, some homeschooling parents groan when his name is mentioned? Why?

It is usually because they haven’t been introduced in the right way. They have been given the tasty morsels that make them hungry for more.

Shakespeare’s plays are a glorious feast for the soul no matter the age. Learning to enjoy his plays is easy. But, like anything worthwhile, it takes preparation to fully appreciate. Here are the four “ingredients” necessary to truly enjoy Shakespeare’s incomparable plays.

Recipe for Enjoying Shakespeare

1. Choose a story version of the play
2. Choose a play
3. Use a Shakespearean dictionary
4. Use narration in many forms

Choose a story version of the play

Shakespeare's language is surprisingly modern, but because of the length of some of the passages and the frequent use of Elizabethan English, students can find the language a barrier. The best way to get into the Bard's work is to learn the story line. There are many ways to do this. The best is to read a retelling of the play in story form. Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit is a wonderful place to start. There are also summaries online and in text format, and parallel versions in which the original and a contemporary translation are presented side by side. You can find these easily by Googling.

Choose a play of Shakespeare’s

Selecting a play is easy. There are three kinds: comedies, histories, tragedies. For young children the best place to begin is with the comedies. As You Like It or A Midsummer's Night's Dream are a good choice. As a next step, consider one of the tragedies, Hamlet, for example. I find that children understand the tragedies equally as well as the comedies. The histories, however, require more background information and can be part of a history curriculum (e.g. a study of Rome and Julius Caesar).

Use a Shakespearean dictionary

Students may lose sight of the "what-happens-next" because of unfamiliar language. A dictionary can be a great help. A good "regular" dictionary will do. However, a Shakespearean dictionary can become a valued resource.

Use narration in many forms

Narration is a key tool in remembering the plays. Have your child narrate the story versions, such as in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare. Verbal narration is to be encouraged because it builds expressive language and clear thinking. However, use short sequences for narration.

When narrating the play be creative in your use of different forms. Many children enjoy other forms if narration. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Transcribe your child's narration word for word. Read it back for any additions (remember, no helping)
  • Create a poster (large sheet of paper) with characters and setting, then have your child retell from the poster.Make a story streamer (cut a sheet of paper 5"X25", then fold in equal sections according to number of parts of the story).
  • Have child draw pictures from the story in sequence—older ones can add text—then retell the story from the pictures)
  • Act out part of the story with your child
  • Make a timeline, and then retell the story.
  • Research the geography of the play and have child tell about it
  • Make a diorama.
  • Record your child's narration, and then replay so your child can hear.

Sheila Carroll

The Art of Retelling

This wonderful article on narration came from the 4/19/10 e-newsletter from God's World News.

The age-old communicative tool of retelling has been used at least since the days when Moses was commanded to repeat the works of God to the children of Israel. It continues until today when parents tell their histories to their own children. I was reminded of this methodology--known as narration-several years ago when I read Charlotte Mason's series on education.

The methodology of narration is important to learning. But so is the material that the child is called upon to narrate. This material is referred to as "mind food." The mind rejects dull, dry, tasteless information. So the analogy of nourishment can be used to describe the process of a mind at work--a responsive mind that does thinking, sorting, arranging, selecting, connecting, rejecting, and classifying challenging material, not an endless round of worksheets.

It often is evident in our classrooms that this world of thought remains neglected. When students are called upon to retell something that was heard or read just moments before and are unable to do so, frustration mounts.

However, though the practice of narration (suggestions will follow), the student is able to supply both the question and the answer. He learns to visualize the scene he's heard or read about, to assemble what he knows, to inquire, criticize, organize, select, and even express himself through speaking and writing. The narrator becomes actively engaged in the learning process, for "between attention and expression lies a whole world of thought."

Begin to hold your students accountable for what they are hearing, reading, observing in your classroom. Ask them to retell parts of the lessons. Do this after readings in Bible, history, science, and literature. Do it as they solve problems in math and as they observe art and nature.

Several powers of the mind will be activated as the student begins "to know" what he is reading and observing. The student will be able to develop a clear understanding of the material and will be able to participate in a broad variety of discussions with a certain degree of knowledge. He will learn to reflect, ruminate, remember, and participate in thoughtful discussion, for he has gained "nourishment" from this mental feasting.

Here are some practical ways to use the process of narration with your students:

· Begin a new lesson or selection from a book with a review of what the students previously learned.

· Introduce new vocabulary, background, and facts such as dates and geography before you begin the lesson or reading.

· Read slowly and carefully though the material once. The students are to read or listen with the understanding that they will narrate or retell what they are hearing. Students are inclined to pay close attention if they know they will be accountable for the information. In turn, their listening and attentiveness skills will be strengthened.

· Then have students narrate orally the portion read or heard, or the lesson observed. Students can be called upon in turns to narrate the passages or chapters until the whole is told back. Narrate less before you narrate more.

· Narrate point by point, episode by episode, not word for word.

· Do not talk too much, interrupt, or prompt a person narrating.

· Assign written narration only after a student is fluent in oral narration. The older student may write his own. A parent or teacher may act as scribe for the younger student.

· Keep a record of written narrations as evaluations of the student's progress. Evaluations should be according to sequence, details, and word choice.

· Follow up written narrations with the student reading aloud his work. For younger students, the teacher should read back what the student has been told.

· Take time to narrate daily. A calm, unhurried few minutes is leisure to the student who is facing a world of clamor.

As I pass through the halls in our school, I hear students retell what they have learned of medieval manuscripts, willow trees, the words of Homer, matter and energy, King Nebuchadnezzar, or Treasure Island. The art of retelling--narration--demonstrates to students and teachers alike the God-given affinity "to know."
-- Maryellen Marschke

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Four Hundred and Eighty-Nine Years Ago He Stood

This is from the Desiring God Blog.

On April 17th, 1521, Martin Luther appeared before the Diet of Worms under the charge of heresy. A pile of his own writings was set before him, many written in critique of the Roman Catholic Church, and he was asked to either defend or revoke them.

Luther was uncertain about how to respond, so he asked for more time. It was granted. He would appear before the Diet again the next day.

Luther's differences with the Church of Rome had been the result of his own careful study of Scripture. He had read things in the Bible that were at odds with many of the doctrines and practices of the Church in his day, and his conscience under God had become burdened to speak about them.

So he wrote. He originally intended his writing to help return the Church to a more biblical form of Christianity, not cause a split. But few heard him that way. Instead, for most, at least among the religious and political leaders, his cries sounded more like the ringings of rebellion.

On April 18th, when Luther reappeared before the Diet to give his response, his examiner, Johann Eck, restated the question (with some prologue):

Martin, how can you assume that you are the only one to understand the sense of Scripture? Would you put your judgment above that of so many famous men and claim that you know more than they all?

You have no right to call into question the most holy orthodox faith, instituted by Christ the perfect law-giver, proclaimed throughout the world by the apostles, sealed by the red blood of the martyrs, confirmed by the sacred councils, defined by the Church in which all our fathers believed until death and gave to us as an inheritance, and which now we are forbidden by the pope and the emperor to discuss lest there be no end of debate.

I ask you, Martin—answer candidly and without horns—do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?

Luther had his response:

Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God.

I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.

(Quotations from Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton. Paragraphing added.)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Home-schooling Does Not Hamper Socialization

May 22, 2008 on 12:00 am

One of the criticisms lobbed at the home-schooling community/movement is that home-schooled children are being shielded from diversity and a multitude of challenging influences which will ultimately handicap them in their ability to function in the “real world.” In other words, “How will these children function in our diverse, multicultural society when they are raised in a setting with monolithic views and beliefs?”

Research examining home-schooled students’ academic achievements have consistently found that they score higher than the national norms on standard achievement tests. So the only grenade left to throw at home-schooling parents is that they are hurting their children socially and emotionally. The few studies in these areas have generally found home-schooled children to have equal or better self-esteem than traditionally schooled students. Then the argument becomes one of how to truly know you are measuring self-esteem.

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi recently published their findings in Home School Researcher (Vol. 17, No. 4, 2007, pp. 1-7). They decided to study home-schooled students’ ability to successfully adjust to college life as an important criterion for demonstrating a positive outcome (or not) of home-schooling.

They compared Christian college freshmen who had previously been home-schooled with a matched sample of traditionally schooled Christian freshmen on the College Adjustment Scale. The average scores of the two groups were compared across nine scales designed to measure emotional, behavioral, social, and academic problems as typically presented to university counseling centers.

The home-schooled students scored significantly lower on the anxiety subscale, while no difference was found between the two groups on the remaining scales. Additionally, there was a general trend characterized by home-schooled students reporting fewer symptoms of emotional distress and social problems, and achieving higher first semester GPAs:

The results suggest that home-schooled college freshmen successfully adjust to the social and academic environment of a Christian college with a diverse student population. The college does not require that all students attending the college assent to a personal faith in Christ. The previously home-schooled students are also confronted by many peers who make lifestyle choices different from their own. Most of the college peers of the home-schooled students would be considered less conservative in their dress, entertainment interests, moral values and behaviors, than those typically experienced in most Christian home-schooled families. Therefore, these students are not entering a homogeneous social community that necessarily mirrors their family backgrounds.”

Obviously, home-schooled students have additional adjustments to make when leaving their homes and entering a university or college environment: social relationship, peer pressure, classroom structure, etc. They are being forced to adapt to a social environment decidedly different from their homes or home school support groups.

The results demonstrate that home-schooled students are able to successfully adapt emotionally, interpersonally, and academically to their first, and most challenging, semester in college. That is probably because, having had the consistent teaching and support of a family and a community, they have developed strengths and convictions that provide a bridge over the troubled waters of a multitude of challenges and temptations.

I personally believe that home-schooling helps students who have problems with focus and difficulties with energy control. The traditional school environment required “Stepford Child” control, and the teaching techniques required for a group of thirty do not necessarily assist the learning needs and talents of each individual student. So, instead of drugging kids to be docile, perhaps we should turn to the successes of home-schooling.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ode to Plurals---a cute email

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns
down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?
Feminism in Christian Colleges?
Posted By Tiffany on April 8, 2010 on Ladies Against Feminism

When it comes time for Christian families to decide if they will send their daughters to college, most of them have a lot to think about. But something I think they don’t stop to think about long enough is how college–even a Christian one–can affect their daughter’s idea of Biblical womanhood.

One would think that a Christian college with a reputation for being conservative would be a feminist-free zone where a godly view of womanhood was promoted and honored, but as I can personally attest to, that is not the case. I have sat through literature classes where the male characters are badmouthed, picked on, and mocked, while the women are raised onto a pedestal–even the ones that committed adultery, abandoned their children, left their husbands, and committed suicide.

I have sat under a feminist professor who proudly proclaimed her choice to forever curtail her reproductive abilities so that she could never have children with her husband, because she wasn’t the “mothering type.” She promoted never having children to the class, and I watched as young ladies were drawn into her opinion because they were attracted to her air of confidence in herself as a woman. This same woman told the class that “we don’t hear enough about men submitting to their wives.” And when one girl was brave enough to say, “that’s because wives were told to submit to their husbands,” another confident feminist student explained that Paul was a man, and the translators of the Bible were men, so they had simply changed the Bible to fit their own desires regarding this passage.

The truth of the matter is that Christian colleges, for the most part, have given up defending the parts of the Bible that come under attack in our culture today and taken up the same “causes” of the secular world: feminism, environmentalism, and extreme racial sympathy (to the point where every white person is an oppressor). I don’t believe that Feminism on Christian college campuses is a just a “little issue” that can be safely ignored either. As can be seen in my earlier example, feminist interpretations of the Bible are a challenge to Biblical inerrancy. If the Bible was wrong about women submitting, then what else did its authors change to fit their own views?

If you are a parent who has poured yourself into raising your daughter, you may still be very concerned about your daughter receiving a degree. After all, what if she doesn’t marry or if homeschooling laws change and she needs a teaching credential to homeschool? Although I don’t really believe that a college degree is necessary for a woman, I do think that the threat of homeschooling laws changing is a real possibility to prepare for.

So how does a woman obtain her degree without leaving home completely? My friend  Lydia is one such young woman who has been able to remain a stay-at-home daughter while working on her education. You can read about her reasons for doing so here and find helpful tips and resources about the programs she has used here

Please take a minute to look at her testimony and consider the benefits of keeping your daughters at home while they are completing their education! Even though your daughters may be exposed to radical Feminism while taking online or community college classes, it is an entirely different thing to live in an atmosphere where Christian teachers and students dismiss God’s design for women, and thereby undermine the His very Word.
This piece originally appeared on Tiffany’s blog True Feminity.

About The Author

Tiffany is the oldest of two children, a 2007 homeschool graduate, and now a twenty-year-old college student on track to graduate in May 2010. She is majoring in English literature and has a passion for reading, writing, and discovering God's plan for beautiful womanhood. For over a year she has been blogging at True Femininity, which chronicles all the little things in her life as she journeys towards true femininity, such as her favorite interests: homemaking, cooking, fashion, frugal living, homeschooling, and theology.

Ten American Girls From History---FREE

The Old School House magazine is offering this cool book for FREE.

Ten American Girls From History

by Kate Dickinson Sweetser
from Amy Puetz

Would you like to meet ten of the most amazing girls from American history? This book was originally published in 1917 (during World War I) and dramatically tells the stories of Pocahontas, Dorothy Quincy, Molly Pitcher, Elizabeth Van Lew, Ida Lewis, Clara Barton, Virginia Reed, Louisa M. Alcott, Clara Morris, and Anna Dickinson.

Each historical girl is highlighted in a thrilling story told in an engaging way that will appeal to girls of all ages.  Click here for your free download.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


 I'm cleaning out some of my many emails I have saved.  Here are some of the many websites from them.  I know I saved them for a reason, but I can't guarantee what's there!


Make comics
Bibliography Generator


Atom Board


READING (Little House and American Girl)

Christmas gifts crafts
Uses for Cereal Boxes




Be Not Conformed

From TOS Schoolhouse Support e-newsletter dated March 2009

Peer Pressure. Just the thought gives me the willies (whatever those are!). I have enough pressure coming from my own expectations, let alone other people's expectations of me. How I behave under pressure is not always pretty, either. I can become frustrated and angry when I don't meet my or other's imposed expectations. It becomes even worse when I have expectations of my children to perform like others. They'll never meet everyone else's standards, and we shouldn't desire them to. The eternal standards we should desire our children to meet are those set by the Word of God. The academic standards should be individualized for each child to help him achieve excellence in all he does, where he is, not based on where others are.

There are actually two kinds of peer pressure: negative and positive.

Negative peer pressure is the kind of pressure from outside influences that causes us to want to conform to this world. It is especially difficult to resist this pressure the younger you are. That is one of the beauties of home education. There is little pressure within the home to conform to the world's standards. In fact, quite the opposite. Training children up within the home setting avoids nearly all negative peer pressure. Instead of conforming to look like, act like, or speak like the world and do the things this world deems valuable, there is value placed on each child because he knows he is his Father's son and lives for a different world and set of standards. Beware of negative peer pressure even within your church's youth or children's programs that try to look like, act like, or speak like the world.

Positive peer pressure is the kind of peer pressure that happens when we allow our children to see good, Godly examples of what it looks like to be a child of God and a person of excellence. Knowing like-minded homeschooling families is a big plus. Our children see that there are other children living up to the high standards of God's Word and succeeding, thereby causing some needed encouragement for our child to conform to the Word of God as well. There are times when I have looked around at homeschool friends and have seen desirable character traits that I might have neglected teaching my own children and begin to start working on with mine. Or I have seen academic studies that might benefit my little schoolhouse, and I have adopted those ideas, too.

Whether negative or positive, all pressure should be brought before the Lord as we seek His guidance for ourselves and our children. What are we supposed to be doing? What is our reasonable service? His Word gives us the answer:

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1,2

By God's mercy,

~ Deborah

Deborah Wuehler is the wife of Richard, homeschool mother of eight beautiful and challenging children, and the Senior Editor for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.

Standardized Testing

I decided to give my dd a "standardized test" just for the fun of it.  I found one at  It was from 2002 and available to print for free.  You know me and free!!!!

My dd hasn't been doing as well as I had thought, so it made me analyze what is going on with the test.  After all, it can't be my dd!  Here's some insights I've been gleaning from this process.
  1. There are 3 sections to each subject (Reading, English/Language Arts, Math).  She gets gets better scores with each new section she takes.  My dd has never taken a test before, so this shows that she's actually learning a new skill as she gains familiarity with test taking. 
  2. Verbage.  I have been teaching dd using correct terminology while this test simplified things.  For instance, "syllables" became "word parts."  "Alphabetical order" became "ABC order."  "Verb" became "action word." 
  3. Subject matter.  This is nothing new.  I dealt with this issue when I taught in Christian schools, as well.  Standardized tests are geared to the public school system which they serve.  Therefore, when a Christian school or homeschool student takes the tests, there may be things they didn't cover that year because of the different curriculum used.  For instance, First Language Lessons doesn't cover comma usage, using the dictionary, or adjectives, so those types of questions were more challenging.  However, proper & common nouns and pronouns which were covered in the book were not tested.
So, there are my thoughts.  Would love to hear some other thoughts on the issue!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Solution Isn't Just Bigger Consequences

Parenting Tip from's e-newsletter.

April 12, 2010

The Solution Isn't Just Bigger Consequences

Some problems that children face are more difficult than others. Annoying behavior, habitual teasing, and explosive anger are just a few examples. Out of frustration, some parents think that the child needs bigger and bigger consequences. They believe that the bigger the consequence, the faster the change.

Remember that the goal is a changed heart, not just punishment for doing wrong. A larger consequence may be needed to get the child's attention but the real work takes place by helping children adjust the way they think and the patterns of behavior that have developed over time. Often many small corrections are more effective than one large consequence.

Mature people will feel an internal pain when they discover that they’ve made a mistake or done the wrong thing. This is normal and healthy. Your child may not experience that same inner sense yet. Consequences create a kind of pain for children. This pain can motivate right behavior and get them moving in a helpful direction.

One example of this is the parent who decided to take away the privilege of riding a bike from her nine-year-old son. She said, "Son, I'm not taking the bike away for a set number of days. I'm taking the bike away until I see some progress in the way you're treating me when I call you in for dinner. We'll see how you do for the next few days and when I get a good response then we can talk about you having your bike again." Mom turned the discipline around so that the child had to earn back the privilege. She wanted to see several positive change points before she allowed her son to ride his bike again.

Kids often need a multi-faceted approach to help them change. Teaching about sensitivity, self-control, respect or another quality will also go a long way to help children change their minds and thus free them to change their hearts as well.

This parenting tip comes from the book Good and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character In You and Your Kids by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN,BSN.
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