Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't forget to change your clocks back one hour this Sunday!!!

Discoveries in art and history

I was digging around for an idea for art at co-op tomorrow and thought of using stencils (it's munchkins doing art, and I'm not feeling in a super messy mood - we've done plenty of those lately :)), so did a google search for art involving stencils. I came up with this photo taken in "Cuevas de las Manos" in Argentina. It's estimated that these handprints were stencilled in 550 B.C. . So 550 years before Christ was born as a babe, some young men were holding blow pipes made with bones, and spraying mineral paint over their hands to make these hand stencils. Pretty wild that they've been preserved so well for so many years. I'm sure part of it has to do with where they are in the caves, but still, pretty neat to get a glimpse back into someone else's life, and even into their art projects :).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teaching vs. Assigning

I received this email from HSLDA, written by Betty Statnick, and it's a great read. It's meant for parents of struggling learners, but really, they, and we, all struggle to a certain extent, don't we? Grab a cup of coffee and read for a moment. It's one of those realigning yourself reads....

There is not a shred of doubt that you have been called to homeschool. Your child was making minimal academic progress in his previous school setting and you reasoned that surely he can do better than that at home under your instruction.

However, you have been homeschooling for six weeks now and you are not as far along in your teaching him as you had expected to be by this time. Something else tries to whittle away at your confidence, for you overhear your child’s homeschool friend boast that he is already on page 65 of the same math textbook that you and your child are inching your way through. That comment may initially have been ego-deflating, but it has the potential to spur you on. You determine that you will not retreat; you have your assignment from the Lord to teach this child.

You will need to remind yourself that even a robot can “bark out” assignments: “Work page 32 in math book. Do page 25 in your language workbook. Reading textbook: Read the story beginning on page 40 and answer the questions at the end of that story.” In that sort of setup, you would simply function as a study hall monitor who would peek in occasionally to see if your child appeared to be on task.

Teaching, however, is in stark contrast to that kind of arrangement. As one homeschool mom quipped, “Teaching is not just checking off pages and clocking in time.”

Guidelines are valuable and published curriculum can help steer you toward your goal for your child to achieve his maximum potential. There are some red flags in selecting curriculum. For instance, you may have purchased a highly recommended curriculum that is at the grade level where your child is “supposed” to be. After using this curriculum, you come to realize that your son has scattered skills: He is on grade level in math but below grade level in Reading, so you must select other materials for instructing him in reading. (Note: If a child has trouble decoding/pronouncing five words on a page, that text is above his current functioning level.)

There are also published scope and sequence charts. “Scope” tells what is taught and “sequence” tells when (at what grade level) it is typically taught. Some parents refer to a scope and sequence chart in their eclectic approach to selecting curriculum materials. That is, they may purchase math materials from one publisher and reading and language arts materials from a different publisher.

You do not always have to be “locked into” exactly when to teach something. A teachable moment may occur at any time. For instance, there may be a need or desire to know something which isn’t “scheduled”—according to the textbook—to be taught until 50 pages later. Free yourself to seize that teachable moment when your child has high motivation to learn. Other circumstances may also require that you deviate a bit from “routine.” I was helping to homeschool a teen whose mom forewarned me that he was in a foul mood on that autumn day. I told her not to worry—that her son and I would take a parts of speech walk for that particular day’s session. In our trek along the bike trail, we “retrieved” (not picked up) “crimson” (not red) and “gold-colored” (not yellow) leaves, etc. That lesson about vivid verbs and more precise adjectives didn't involve use of pencil and paper. However, that teen became actively engaged in the learning process, and he left my home in a cheerful frame of mind. Remember: Curriculum is to be a tool to assist you and not a tyrant to enslave you.

Some schoolwork is just plain hard work. However, schoolwork can also be delight-driven, interesting, and relevant—not just workbook-based. For instance, when you are presenting lessons on fractions, “take to the kitchen.” Bake pizzas, and cut them into halves, fourths, eighths, etc. and everyone will enjoy eating his fractional portion of those pizzas. Connecting learning to everyday life and showing your child practical applications will help to cement learning. You will know that your child has really grasped a concept or skill you have taught when he can apply it in other settings.

It’s not just the what and the when you are to teach but also the why and the how. You address the “why” because you are considering not just your child’s present but also his future. You are thinking long range—about his possible post-high school education, about his employment, and about his becoming a marriage partner. All of these things must be on your prayer list as well as on your heart when you are teaching.

Carol Barnier, author-speaker and veteran homeschool mom, sums up the “how”: “Don’t call anything “teaching’ unless it results in ‘learning’… Find out what sparks her (your child’s) enthusiasm, secures her attention, and pulls her in. Set aside traditional assumptions about how your child should learn and begin the journey of finding out how your child does learn.”

There are many published resources available about learning styles and how to use that information to guide your teaching and increase your child’s learning. Among those resources is Howard Gardner’s “Theory of Multiple Intelligences.” He lists these nine intelligences: Verbal-Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalistic, and Existential. Existential is the intelligence that Gardner refers to as “half-intelligence” because he could not find a physiological location for it in the brain. Some have referred to existential intelligence as spiritual intelligence because those who scored high in this intelligence are concerned with life’s big questions like “What is the meaning of life? Why do we die?” Remember that no teaching is really complete unless it also addresses those big questions as defined by the Word of God.

Bon voyage as you continue this year of teaching—not just assigning.

Points to Ponder

Am I modeling before my child enthusiasm about learning?

Do I say “I don’t know” and just move on when we come to a question we can’t answer or do I stop and model the look-it-up habit? (In other words, do I guide my child in learning how to find the answers?)

Do I allow myself to take detours from the workbook and manual to embrace teachable moments?

Isaiah 48:17

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way you should go.”

teaches = lamad (in Hebrew): To instruct, train, prod, goad; teach: to cause someone to learn. The origin of the verb may be traced to the goading of cattle. Similarly, teaching and learning are attained through a great variety of goading, memorable events, techniques, or lessons. (from Strong’s Concordance)

Luke 2:47

“And all who heard Him (Jesus) were astonished at His understanding and answers.

understanding = sunesis (in Greek): Literally “a putting together;” hence: quickness of apprehension, the critical faculty for clear apprehension, intelligently assessing a situation. Comparable to the modern idiom, “putting two and two together.” (from Strong’s Concordance)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Math Games!!

I found a great math resource at a website titled Hooda Math.

A middle school math teacher named Michael Edlavitch developed this website to give students a place to practice their math while having fun. It's got a variety of games to work on a variety of skills, and is designed for grades 1-8. We can use all of the help we can get, right?

Check it out :).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Mom?

Good Mom, Bad Mom, Good Mom

Lysa TerKeurst

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26(NIV)


Good Mom?

Bad Mom?

Good Mom?

Bad Mom?

Do you ever feel as though you are the ping-pong ball in a heated match bouncing constantly between feeling like a good mom to a bad mom?

One minute I have a great discussion where my child finally gets it... GOOD MOM!

The next I get an e-mail from a teacher that lists the three parents who have yet to turn in that permission slip and I am on the list for all the world to see... BAD MOM!

I calmly handle the stresses of the morning routine... GOOD MOM!

But then during the afternoon homework session, my child's irresponsibility over a last minute project just about sends me over the edge. I find my neck muscles tensing and my voice rising... BAD MOM!

I make sure they pack something healthy for lunch... GOOD MOM!

The schedule falls apart in the late afternoon and I wind up feeding them sugar cereal for dinner... BAD MOM!

Sometimes I feel like that ping-pong ball mom bouncing from feeling good to bad. Yesterday morning I sat down at the kitchen table after getting everyone where they needed to be and cried. Sometimes having kids is the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. Other days I feel like the task of parenting little people is driving me to the brink of craziness.

Just the other day I was processing some recent family things with my friend, Renee, over the phone. Suddenly a strange theme seemed to arise. I just started laughing. I told Renee that so many of my days seemed to tell the same kind of story... I was on the verge of a breakdown and then I spent time with Jesus and He made things better.

Renee quipped back to me, "Well, isn't that where most of us live every day?"

Not that we are on the edge of a breakdown, but we live in a place of utter dependence on God. I know as a mom, I live in constant need of His love, encouragement, wisdom, perspective, strength, patience, and grace.

Anything I do right as a mom is because of my constant dialogs with God.

Anything I do wrong as a mom is because of trying to do things in my own strength and slap wearing myself out.

That's where grace steps in. And I need lots of grace. God's grace steps in and says, "Lysa, you are doing better than you think. Stop bouncing from feeling good to bad to good to bad. In the good times, rejoice and thank me. In the not so good times, call out to me quickly."

And suddenly it occurred to me; with God I'm never a bad mom. I might be having a bad moment... or two... or seventeen. But a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom.

God's grace is there to cover me. Teach me. And even in the middle of a bad moment, interrupt me, redirect me, and change me.

Forgiveness is there.

Love is there.

A second chance is there.

You are a good mom my friend even if, like me, you've had a few bad moments... you is the exact mom God knew your children needed. Let's live in that truth today.

Dear Lord, being a mom is a great privilege but one that can be so challenging at times. Teach me how to lean on You with every action and every reaction. And when I mess up, please help me to not define myself by my mommy failures. Help me to only be defined by Your love that assures me and Your grace that covers me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Paper and Art Sale

Hey guys - not a paid post or anything like that, but I got an email about a really good art supply, curriculum, and paper sale that I wanted to share. I've bought things from these guys before and they really have nice quality products, so when you can get them for a reduced price besides, that's very happy! Let me know if you end up ordering stuff - what'd you get? We can compare notes....

First Annual

End of the Season Book Sale!

Save 25% to 50% Plus earn Free Shipping!

10/1/2008 - 10/31/2008 (or while supplies last!!)

The Back to school rush is over and things have calmed down at the warehouse, so we are pulling together these GREAT DEALS for you.

* FREE Shipping for Book Orders over $50.00!!

Sale good on ALL books (sale, close-out, overstock or regular priced).

· Over 50 Titles have been marked down in our Close-Out and Overstock Section! Prices are for in stock books. While supplies last.

· Free Money Free Stuff (Book on Great Deals for families!) Reg. $15.95 Sale $7.95

* Childsize Masterpiece Starter Set Reg. $72.00 Sale $49.00 (Set includes: Level 1, 2, 3 and Teachers Manual)

· Miller's Sketchbook Bundle Reg. $11.99 Sale $8.50
Three Sketchbooks - One each in 9x12", 6x9" & Pocket Size ( 80#, 60 sht. Spiral-bound Sketchbooks)

* Bare Book Bundle Reg. $20.95 Sale $15.95 Bundle includes: 3 Large Blank and 3 Small Blank Bare Books.

* Lambs Book I by Barry Stebbing Reg. $12.95 Sale $5.99

* The Wonderful Art of Drawing Horses Reg. $12.95 Sale $5.99

* Klutz Magnetic A-Z Activity Book Reg. $12.95 Sale $9.75

* DK Ultimate Presidents Sticker Book Reg. $6.99 Sale $5.50

***For More GREAT DEALS go to & Click on Closeout/Overstock!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Money stuff

My girls are only 8 and 10, but they have picked up on the fact that our country is in a bit of a money problem right now. I'm trying to make the most of this "teachable moment" without scaring them to death. We've talked about debt, about people getting in over their heads, about the government's role in the economy, fun stuff. They've also seen some of it play out here in our home and in our family's business. We added credit card processing to our business last year, as a method of payment, because so many people really rely on credit to pay for just about everything. It's a nice option to offer, and has perhaps led a few people to choose us for their business, so I'm glad that we did, and, like everything else, the girls asked questions about it as they saw me setting it up on our website. I think this is my favorite part of homeschooling, as well as the part that scares me the most - they see everything I do!!! It definitely challenges me to try my best to do it all the right way, without regrets.....

Saturday, October 4, 2008


"The future depends on what we do in the present."

Mahatma Gandhi

I like that quote. What I'm doing today, and I'm thinking of all of the time and energy I'm investing in my kids, is hugely impacting the future. That gives taking five minutes out of my "plan" a new sense of importance, doesn't it? That changes up priorities on the daily level.....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Second Chances

"How many times in your life have you wished to go back in time and do something over? Maybe you wouldn't have bought that expensive car, chosen that college, or passed up an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. All of us would like a "do over" in something."

This is the beginning of a great, encouraging devotional for the homeschooler in need of a second chance (that'd be all of us, I think :) ).

Are you interested in a printed version of this devotional? Then check out the new Daily Focus devotional book, perfect for your own Bible study or as a gift. Order your copy today!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Are you really a homeschooling family?

How long do you need to teach your children at home before you "officially" become a homeschool family? Like the tests that evaluate a child's academic performance, you can assume homeschooling has arrived at your house when the following are true:

You have more books in your house than groceries.

Your children show up for school in their pajamas.

Your house d├ęcor consists of time lines, maps, assorted craft projects, and half-finished science experiments.

Your trips to the library require a laundry basket to hold all the books.

Your refrigerator is perpetually covered in art projects and completed assignments.

Your children think reading history is best achieved while lying on your bed with the family cats.

Your kitchen pantry holds more school supplies than cooking supplies.

Your child's favorite classmates are his siblings.

Just a silly one, but how scary that each thing is true!! :)