Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bible For Children

If you have been looking for a different way to approach telling bible stories to your children, here is a neat little site that has bible stories children can both read (or be read to) with full colorful pictures.

THe girls have been enjoying these bible stories.

Typically I will let my 7 year old read them on her own or outloud to me as she scrolls through the pages.  The pages are in PDF and can also be printed out on a separate link to use as coloring pages.

Stories are both Old and New Testaments and are translated in about 35 different languages, including (English, of course), Swahili, French,  German, Portugues. Indonesian...and more!

Bible For Children does all of this for FREE because they believe in the value of spreading the Gospel message to children that normally wouldn't have access to it.

On their website, they list their goal for BFC:
These Bible Stories are to be distributed to the 1.8 billion children of the world freely wherever possible.

We have been enjoying this website in our home school, and I thought I would just pass this along.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Art Moment

A few days ago we started our school morning off with a little art. Baby Z enjoys painting now.
I realized soon that this was one of the little pleasures of the 2 year old toddler stage that I missed so much with my oldest daughter.

I just had to post this--although short and sweet.

I want to capture these "small" moments as often as possible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How we organized for 2010

School has taken on a whole new meaning for us this week!  That is a good thing.

Adding on to the whole "workbox system" we began using last week , we've made some adaptations to what we do-- it has been a wonderful start to our new way of doing things for 2010.  After one week, however, I discovered a beautiful key to teaching 2nd grade:  student independence.

I guess I always knew that I was holding on too tightly to our school days.  I need order and a system that works- but I also realized that I don't need to be actively "teaching" every subject.  Serving as more of a facilitator and overseer this past week, I have been able to let my 7 year old take a pre-written list of school instructions/assignment sheet for the day back to her school desk, close the door, and have at it.  I tell her, "if you have any questions, just holla".

I should have known this would have worked out so much better for us.  For NyGirl's entire first semester of kindergarten she was practically self-taught with an Abeka workbook and a few other supplies while I rested from a long pregnancy and spent time in labor, delivery, and adjusting to having a newborn.    She did well- and all without my constant intervention.  I think I probably felt a little out of sorts because I didn't feel like I was "on top of things".

Which probably explains my complete 180 turn the next year in wanting to regain control I felt I had lost.  And, of course, I was attracted to the Classical Method in helping me to regain that "lost" control.


Now I am learning to let go a bit.  I still have structure and order, but the independence NyGirl has is making our lives so much easier.  Not to mention, she enjoys not having me over her the entire school day.  Our school days are shorter.  We have time for more extracurriculars and fun time together.  We both like the ease of how our days flow.

Let me give you an example of what our days typically look like:

(There are always exceptions, and I don't make any hard and fast rule about not going anywhere during certain hours.  So many of our days may find us doing school work at the library or Barnes and Noble, or at the coffeeshop while BabyZ goes to nursery).  But in general, this is what it looks like:
  • Up/toiletries/change clothes/chores/breakfast
  • At breakfast, recite the week's scripture memory verse
  • After breakfast, clear the table and sit back at the table for "morning meeting", which consists of  a special bible nursery song for Baby Z, bible story for both girls (currently reading the Children's ILlustrated Bible New Testament at their father's request), then a Saxon math lesson for NyGirl while BabyZ works on counting chips or counting bears.  I might at this point also give a grammar lesson from First Language Lessons.
  • Then dismiss to NyGirl's school desk in her room to complete her lessons.  I usually put out her school assignment sheet and workbooks in order on her desk the night before.  During this time BabyZ and I might work on a floor puzzle, recite abc's, color, or watch educational PBS Kids shows.  From time to time NyGirl comes out of her room for assistance, or a teacher check.

That is the general order of things.  While at her school desk, she usually finishes the following assignments from these resources:
  • Saxon Math 3 review sheet
  • Bible Lifepace- grade 2
  • BJU 3rd grade grammar workbook
  • Spectrum Spelling- grade 4
  • cursive handwriting worksheet
  • and depending on the day of the week, we might do any one of the following: Geography, American History online lesson, piano lesson, violin lesson, P.E., art, or French.  Sometimes we hit only a few of these topics only twice a month or so, and that is okay with me as long as there is exposure.  Piano,  French, and American History we try to do weekly, and P.E. usually happens 3 or 4 times a week if no one is ill (since we're paying for gym membership).

And that is about it.

But the secret of my peace of mind now has a lot to do with a routine that works for us.  I haven't left the "control" issue completely at the door, though.  I still have my plans for at our school days and how I want them to proceed, but I am beginning to take a breather now that she is old enough to be more independent with her school work, and I am embracing it.

I think my favorite part is checking her work at the end of the day, writing small notes on her workbook pages (like "good job-keep it up!", you know- typical "teacher-ish" behavior!), giving her stickers, and watching her face light up the next day when she opens her workbook and reads my comments from the night before.  That makes my day.

That, and the fact that she finishes all of the above subjects in about 1 -2 hours when it would have normally taken me about 4-5 hours to teach it (because of lots of toddler interruptions).  That has been the main reliever for me.

Remember, BabyZ is still only 2, and very active.  I have had to let go of the marker board for a season.  What works for us is just using blank computer paper, front and back, as our "white board".  While at the kitchen table for our morning meeting, I use the blank paper for our math  and grammar instruction.  I try to write out the majority of the math and grammar examples out the night before to just make that morning's work easier.

All this prep work and planning is going to make for a very productive school year.  I'm a happy mama, and a happy teacher :-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Turning to Christ for Peace

In my journey of peace I realize even more than ever how important it is for me to actually KNOW the giver of peace.

Jesus is referenced as the "Prince of Peace" in the bible.  He is the One who ultimately gives me the peace that I need in order to deal with and be a victor in my life on earth.

Sometimes I fail to remember this all important truth.  When I forget that He is the author of my peace, I take situations into my own hands and try to solve problems in my own strength.  I fail miserably every time.  In attempting to "fix" my situations, I either end up messing up the situation...or I tend to get my emotions, intellect, and soul all warped and confused in the process so that I end up being an emotional, mental, and spiritual wreck.  Then how good am I to the Kingdom- or how effective am I in ministering to others, loving others, being a witness to the world of Christ's love and peace...if I have no peace?

So, it is in Christ that I must learn to rest.

I HAVE to allow Him to solve my problems- any problems.  He is the ultimate problem solver, and ...yes, I often forget that too.

My duty on this leg of my journey is to begin to trust Him as my "answer to all things".  Whenever I have a problem, I must turn to Him immediately, rather than later.

If He is my giver of peace, then I don't need to fix anything myself.  My goal is to turn to Him from now on to meet all of my needs.

ALL of my needs.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Reflections on attitude...

Today was lovely.  I am learning how to appreciate my children more.

Baby Z (my toddler) has a cold, and despite the fact that she isn't feeling well, her sunny disposition makes me smile.

And my oldest daughter, my little princess, is forever amazing me with her intelligence and willingness to help out her dear mama whenever possible.  For example, today we shopped for an hour at our local Winn Dixie (I was crossing my fingers for a few coupons at the checkout counter, which never happened...but I digress)...and the whole time Ny strolled her baby sister around for me as I pushed the shopping cart.  Baby Z had been sleeping for some time and (thankfully) slept throughout the entire shopping trip...but she isn't so light any more, so after about 30 minutes of pushing the stroller I volunteered to help Ny, but she responded, "No, mom...I can do it.  I'll help."  Her answers for me all week have been "Sure, anything else you need?"   And, as is her character, I never have to worry about a hidden agenda up her sleeve, like " can I have five bucks?"  It just never happens.  At least so far.  I hope it will remain that way.  And needless to say, after observing her actions I had to look at my own.  Truly, this is what inner beauty is all about.

My heart has melted.

I begin to wonder how God, our Heavenly Father, must feel when we remain sunny and cheerful as my dear BabyZ, despite our physical ailments or emotional pain.

I wonder how Jesus must feel when we, like NyGirl, respond to His requests with "Sure, is there anything else you would like for me to do?"

Must it brighten His day?  Cause a smile to light His countenance?  Assure Him of our faith in Him?  Cause His face to shine upon us?  Cause Him to work on behalf for our requests even sooner than we had expected (though He is always on time!)?  Does He rise up on our behalf, determined to ensure that we have not only what we need, but exceedingly, abundantly above what we even dare ask or think?

All because of attitude...


Lord, help me to have your attitude.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to school in 2010

Here we are back to school again in 2010!  We are off to a great start, and I must say, my goals for this year are a bit different than from '09.

We started a new filing system.
It basically consists of a medium size crate we got from WalMart and some simple file folders.

In it we've placed file folders and our subjects/books/materials in each folder to separate our subjects.  They are in order according to how our school day generally goes.

So in the first file folder we have our Children's bible., a hymnal, catechism, scripture memory charts, anointing oil, etc.  Our second file folder contains our Saxon math materials, our third file folder contains all Language Arts , and so forth.

BabyZ has been sitting at her own little desk (you can see she's marked it up really nicely):
NyGirl now has her own desk where she can 'officially' do her schoolwork rather than at the kitchen table:

(***Note January 2012***I lost a few of these pictures while transitioning my blog!! Sorry!!!)

This system has really been working out well for us.

I spent the better part of 2008/2009 really attempting to discover (or maybe re-discover) what it is I truly wanted for my children.  I had just had my second daughter and was learning the ropes with having a newborn, turned young toddler in the house (a really active one at that) while trying to find balance in the discovery of my role as homemaker, homeschool teacher, writer, and web designer.  Some of those things I eventually let go of completely (like designing sites for clients) while I ended up whole-heartedly persuing others (such as writing and plugging in more to my role as a homeschool mom).

While feeling my way around the homeschool community, I found that with all of the myriads of choices in educational curriculum and methods, I would need to quickly discover our family goals for our children's education, and stick with them.  It took us a while to find our way to where we are now.  We plucked through several ideologies on home education, and tried our hands at the Classical Education method (as proposed by Susan Wise Bauer).  I bought all of her books and to this day still use First Language Lessons.  The ideas were great, but with time I began to realize that I couldn't fit our educational plans and goals into the Trivium-- it soon began to box me in and I was dying to get let out of the "cage".  (This is no offense to those of you who use this method and have children who are flourishing well under this type of training.  I still think it is a great method...just not for us).

We have and are still trying a few different approaches (such as Charlotte Mason and Montessori), which I guess makes us very eclectic.  And all the while as we are adapting our way of doing things we have a true, main focus which is beginning to center us as a home school now...the idea of us teaching our children in the ways of God.  This has always been a part of our family motto...just something we normally do on a typical day with our kids.  We are Christians, and therefore we are raising our children as Christians.  But with our home school, we are going beyond the idea of simply raising Christian kids.  It is becoming more of a foundation for our school, where everything is beginning to center around our studies of the Bible, worship time, etc. I never thought I would be one to go straight for the "all Christian" curriculum or to try to find specific curriculum which was religious in nature.  Our math is Saxon (pretty streamline), our science  and social studies, Houghton Mifflin, and grammar is a combination of different workbooks (Spectrum), First Language Lessons...but our history, on the other hand, is from a free Christian-based online school for homeschoolers. My daughter is really enjoying her History lessons (currently is learning about Christopher Columbus).

But the thing I noticed about how our lives are already beginning to change because of our more pronounced focus on a Christian education this year, is that my daughter seems to be all the more content and peaceful at the end of our school hours.  School also has become more fun, for the both of us.  Everything - from reciting scripture, learning the books of the New Testament, learning hymnals and receiving prayer during "chapel", reading bible stories from the New Testament, and getting tested on spelling and vocabulary words taken straight from the bible text...has been a blast both for me and for her!  We also located a great BJU Press 3rd grade reader in our stash of books and resources which has some hearty, old fashioned, good stories.  The kind of good stories that truly are good- (the focus being on courage, honor, commitment, honesty, etc.)

So we are having a good time...not to mention we've got some techie stuff up our sleeves that we're planning for the new year.  Hopefully we get the podcast some wheels and start rolling out more audios.  I kind of liked VoiceThread, but I got a little bored of it.  NyGirl definitely enjoyed Power Point so we'll be doing more presentations of that sort- maybe next time using open source.

Looking forward to a great year ahead!
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