“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Parenting Book Study

I posted this on the family blog.  I felt that it also belonged here.   

If you are looking for some help with dealing with the backtalk of children, I want to take the time to recommend this wonderful book. Backtallk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids.  Over the years I have referred to this little gem over and over again.  My kids cringe every time they see it.  In fact I just found out that Pooker hid the book for a few years.  God Bless that child. 

So with Lent starting and the desire to be a better parent I decided it was time to read the book again.  My biggest issue is remaining consistent. The first week is tough, the second week isn't bad but by the third week I am letting too much slip by.  With each read I do grow stronger in my parenting but I wanted to be a better parent with more peace in my home by Easter.  I also wanted support as I went through it this time. 

I sent out the following invitation to my homeschool group.  I knew that to "teach" something you must know it yourself.  I was happy to have made a commitment and then setting up three meetings over 21 days I knew that I could be more effective in changing myself. 

“Your kids are so good, you should teach a class!”

I have heard that more than one time over the years.  I disagree that my kids are “that good” but I have found one book to be extremely helpful with bad behavior.  My kids cringe every time they see me pull it out to read, so it works.  They know that I get the book out to remind myself how to be a better parent.  They don’t always like it because I will be more consistent in my parenting.  This in turn changes their behavior. 

My kids and I need a refresher.  As I sat and started to reread the book, I decided it would be more fun to share the journey.  So the title, the work, and the joy of watching our families transform is something we can all enjoy with the support of each other.  I will lead a book study and discussion coupled with my personal experience over just 3 meetings.  I am hoping that by Easter I will be a better mom, my children will be better children and we will all grow closer to Christ.  If you would like to join me on the dates below just email me and let me know so I can find a space that will accommodate us.   I strongly recommend this book even if you can’t make the 3 meetings.

I really wanted to give this my all.  I prepared my notes, gave out suggested homework and enjoyed sharing what has worked in our home over the years while learning from my peers.  I share some cards that offered the 4 steps with my notes about each one with everyone. 

Backtalk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids

                                   Written by      Audrey Ricker  And  Carolyn Crowder


Step 1:  Recognize Backtalk  Does it hurt, embarrass,   annoy or leave you helpless?

Step 2:  Choose appropriate Consequence  Have backups ideas on hand—like time out, kneeling, dead horse, chore.

Step 3:  Enact the Consequence.   You can briefly identify the backtalk, express how it hurt or was inappropriate, state the consequence, put child in place, set up chore, oversee the initiation of Consequence (not the same as a punishment). 

Step 4:  Disengage  I find that this can be the hardest step.  Do not engage in conversation about the consequence.  Have a “go-to” on hand to change the subject if needed.  Say a prayer out loud or start singing a song.  It will soon be known that as soon as you disengage there is no use continuing the reaction.


I wanted to give this 100% for my friends.  Jason was so encouraging.  I was shocked that the night after my first discussion/class Jason and the kids had come by and left flowers on the car.  Aren't they cute!?! 
The best part was having friends to share consequence ideas with.  So many ideas from some great mothers.  I think that we might continue to gather one time a month to offer continued support from like minded moms. 
I commend this book with all parents out there.  Don't be afraid to do this wrong, just do something.  We owe it to our children to parent them.  This book gives some wonderful ways in which we can positively parent.  If the form of consequences in the book don't work for you, change it up.  If the ones I offer don't work for you, change it up.  Just do something and be consistent.  Your children will thank you for it (they might also hide the book on you) but they will eventually thank you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Still Homeschooling

I am still at this crazy game and the more time I have spent doing it the more I feel I need to learn.  We have three graduated from our T Homeschool Academy with one more graduating this January.  All of those three are in college and doing well in classes in spite of the various learning issues each on has had.  Don't give up, not matter what.  Don't let what others say about you change what you in your heart know to be true.  Don't give up. I have watched too many people back track later and then ask what they did wrong.  I could see all along that they did not stay the course.  Hey it isn't easy out there.  It can get messy.  Laws of the legal system and in-laws of the family system can try to force you to change.  Stay the course, you won't regret it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Morning Out

Dad works from home.  This has been great at times and a real pain at other times.  J had a very important conference call scheduled.  He needed to give the call his absolute attention.   It was much easier for us to vacate the home for the morning.   After morning Mass I took the crowd to a fun McDonalds (has a play place) for breakfast.

Beautiful - Adorable

It ended up being a fun morning.  The twins are just days from turning one and they had a blast.  Adorable and Beautiful preferred to be together in the tubes. 

I post this to remind us all to enjoy time to have fun.  I know too many homeschoolers that are so super focused on school work that the kids are stressed out.  One dangerous trap is that too often these over focused families loose site of the goal of heaven.  I have seen so many families use an intense programs, then not have time to take breaks and enjoy each other's company.  Some of these families end up with kids that are college drop outs.  Once the kids have a little freedom, they rebel completely.  We all look into the eyes of our little one year old and see the world.  I still see those endless possibilities in my adult children.  They are open to life, all of it - including the learning, the fun, the worship, the joy.  The well rounded person sees the world for that it has to offer not what it can for you.  To my dear fellow homeschooling moms, remember to enjoy your time with the children.  Teach them to seek Heaven in all that they do. In the end it is the only thing that is important.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Great Investment (copy from family blog)

Over the years I have tried different things to teach the younger ones about the Mass.  My hope has been that the more engaged they were at a young age, the more they would grow to appreciate it as they got older.  I also hoped that understanding would improve behavior during Mass. 
Years ago I purchased the Mini Mass Kit from Our Father's House listed below and at a Catholic Homeschool Convention I found the vestments.  These were quit pricey.  I probably invested a little over $300 in a few years creating the Mass Box that the kids could only play with respectfully and properly.  This means that we only allowed the boys the play priest and wear the vestments. 
Jumba grew up with the Mini Mass Kit in the house and was not interested.  When shopping for Confirmation gifts a month ago I found this cloth version called My Mass Kit.  It was only $70.  I liked it because it was very portable and self contained.  It was also quiet making it just the trick I needed to engage my "very bored" 5 year old at church.  He brought the kit to the car the entire first week but not into daily Mass.  He would get to the car after Mass and then pull the pieces out and try to remember how the priests had used them.  The second week he took it inside two times and only one time did we take it into the cry room and actually get the pieces out.  We were alone for daily Mass and I let him set it up and then watch the priest to compare the real items to his kit versions.  This is not a toy that I think should be brought to church all the time.  I think of it as a tool that works wonderfully at teaching a young one about the Mass. 

The learning book that came with the kit is pretty good.  If you only have girls I would still get this version.  They don't really play Mass with  this version, it isn't real enough.  I still think it is a fabulous teaching tool.
Wee Believers My Mass Kit
I was even more thrilled when I got home and examined the packaging.  My favorite Cardinal is quoted on the box!
" . . . will capture the imagination of little children with regard to the most sacred realities of life." 
~Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D., Prefect, Supreme Tribunal of the Apostoic Signatura

Now it is time to go old school.  I ordered this kit years and years ago, probably to help with teaching Pooker for her first Holy Communion.  I know it is well used but I could not find old pictures.

Our Father's House Mini Mass Kit
The goal was never to try to convince the boys that they needed to be priests but to make the option real.  Just like having a doll and pretending to be mom and dad, the kids have also played Mass over the years.  In our play they don't have two girls get married and in the same way they only have a boy as a priests.  This isn't political it is just the way it is. 
Bear is actively looking onto several different seminaries and trying to decide which one is the better fit for him.  I don't know that he will be a priest for certain but I do know that today he thinks that is what his vocation truly is.  Pickle declared a few weeks ago that he also would like to become a priest.  His true desire is to be an NFL star but a good back up option is the priesthood.  I thought J was going to panic about the family name living on when Jumba announced the other night that he too wants to be a priest.  I am not sure about any of them but most of all doubting the current dreams of this loving 5 year old.  I say all that to let you know that even if none of them end up as priests I still think that the these investments were money well spent!  (Oh and in your spare time, Please offer up a prayer for my boys and their vocations, whatever those vocations might turn out to be.) 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Where to Start

One might be surprised how often I am asked this question.  I will be honest and tell you that it depends on where you are in life.  Pulling a teen out of public middle school is different than pulling a highschooler out of Catholic high school.  Everyone knows that their child is very different and so is each mom trying to learn something new.  There is no one set way to begin.  This post is to focus on mom though.

I think this is pretty universal as far as the needs of each woman deciding to homeschool their kids.  Actually this is crucial for all of us especially stay at home moms.   We need to find your passion or what you enjoy and then find like minded women who share that passion.  Humans are social creatures.  We learn and feed off of each other.  We will benefit from social time.  Our need for social time with like minded peers begins with our girlfriends when we are very young and it doesn't go away when we get married.  Sure our hubby is our best friend but all girls know that you sometimes get mad at your best friend.

The first step in homeschooling, even if you are thinking about maybe homeschooling your current newborn 5 years from now, is to find a support group.  You might have to create one.   I have discovered that for Catholics it is crucial to build a Catholic homeschooling group or to create one.  (Catholic friends that have gone to other groups mostly non denominational but Christian have had their children decide to abandon their beliefs in young adulthood.)  There is nothing better than the Catholic support.  Build your faith and your child's faith while at the same time creating a community within a community of like minded people.  The risk is that sometimes you will run into the "supercatholic" that tends to bash anything and everything of the world.  It is better to find balance with someone over doing it than it is to maintain your beliefs with others that are out to safe you from those beliefs.  Don't ever loose focus on the goal being Heaven and the path being the Catholic Church, homeschooling can help in finding that path.  I think that like minded peers is more important for mom than it is for the kids.  The students can play with siblings but mom must have support.  If it doesn't exist in your area create it and visit others in near towns via the internet and yahoo groups.

I was recently asked where to begin by a new mom to the stay at home world and one who wants to later being a homeschooling family as well.   My advice to find friends that are also on this path.  You can help each other.  They will keep you sane.

These are a few of my friends.  The picture taken a few years back.  We now try to meet each week for Coffee and a study of our faith.  Yes we mostly discuss our lives but it helps so much that we have each other.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The BEST way to School your kids

I need to post here more often.  I am sorry that I have neglected this blog the past year.  The surprise twins are my only excuse.  Last school year was not a great one.  This year will be.  Visiting other blogs has brought an old topic to mind. 

 It is often said that home schooled kids will not be socialized.  If you met one of my kiddos that would not be a question you would ask.  I become more and more confident of that as my children get older.  It is funny to watch certain friends realize it.  Some never will but I have good kids, I know I do.  I am blessed.  They have not been ruined by formal school.  Every time I have thought, "Well maybe I should send 'so-in-so' something has happened to show me that we are on the right path.  Maybe it isn't for everyone but I believe that for the most part it is the BEST path.  This cartoon sums it up nicely.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Geography Program that I LOVE!!

This falls into my best buy ever category.

Visualize World Geography

The Mental Mapping Curriculum  
"Each continent is covered by the unique Visualize World Geography pictography. Disclaimer: Not only does the VWG method forever change the way you see a world map, but it definitely works only for people who do not take themselves too seriously! If you can appreciate the use of humorous puns and/or storylines as a way of associating the shape of a country with its name, then you can allow the VWG method to equip you with a mental map of the world to recall at will and draw from memory while giving you reason to smile! "  as worded by the VWG people.

This was sold to me at the homeschool conference.  I walked pass a huge banner that read something like, "Can you pick Italy out on the map? Learn how to spot all countries the same way."  Two ladies were standing there watching me read the sign.  They then challenged me.  I walked over and they told me about a duck named Stan.  I could then spot Afghanistan and Pakistan on any map.  That was cool.  I went home and told J about it.  Geography is something that we always touch on but I never felt that I taught it very well.  J said go ahead and I made a huge purchase.  I got the full package.  Kind of expensive but for me it was worth it.  A program that I can use for 8 children means the cost per child isn't too bad.
My only issue with the program is that it isn't really written as a class but as a tool. That means you have to take the tool and figure out how to use it to teach. I would purchase the entire program again, I love it. I have learned so much. I have always thought it was cool when someone could spot any country out on the map without having to look for the labels. It just helps to have a general knowledge of where things are in the world.

We watch the videos together.  We do just the mapping pictographies first and then later go back to the social studies part of the DVDs after we know most of the countries in the region.  Those days we spend a few hours on it.  On our days of just learning the pictographies we will watch the videos a few times and then drill each other.
I test ever so often with blank counties and colored pencils.  I would give the instruction to color a certain country tropical blue and then wait and watch as everyone found that country.  I must say that the pace I am going is too slow for the older kiddos but just right for the younger ones.  Even Jumba knows his stuff.  On the news the other day he heard the name of Chili mentioned.  He got really excited and said, "Chili is part of the pepper!"  I love it!
I included the pictures of the kiddos to show another trick for reinforcing the information.  Notice that in both the dinning room and the breakfast room I have maps on the tables.  They remain there all the time.  The USA map is in the breakfast room and various world maps are in the dinning room, where we gather for our morning studies.  I show the DVDs on my laptop. 
Bundle-VWG Curriculum
DVD's, Textbook, Posters, Workbooks on CD-ROM, Flagbook

Can you find Italy on a world map... because it looks like a boot? Be able to find all countries as easily with the VWG method. This method replaces randomness (info your brain is not designed to process) and replaces it with meaningfulness which is easily processed by design! Once your brain is given a meaningful object in place of otherwise squiggly lines which define a country's borders, within nanoseconds, it automatically rewires itself so that now your visual system can ONLY process it as meaningful. Consequently, what your brain was unable to recognize before as being a specific country, it now can easily see, mentally manipulate, and automatically store within long-term memory. In fact, you will forever see it as that object. Try looking at Italy and NOT see it as a boot! VWG Curriculum Bundle contains entire product line in one package. Price: $215.00
This is direct from their website.  Please make sure to get the one from Tender Heart Press and not what Amazon is selling,  they are not the same thing.  This is really that wonderful.  I wish everything I taught could be learned this easy and with this much fun!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

You are the mom!

Sometimes just reminding yourself that you are the mom, the one in charge, can bring you peace.  I love my kiddos and I find them to be very insightful.  They know what they like to study.  They are also very aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.  I pride myself in listening to them.  Over the years I have tried to cater to their needs and desires more that that old preconceived notion of the school year that I created when I was in college learning how to teach.  So to be fair my kids have actively shaped their education and at times it has been too much and at other times it has been lacking.  I believe that in the end  Pooker is doing well in college after finder her groove and I suspect the others will when their time comes.  After years of worrying about getting it all in I have settled down to realize that I want to enjoy the process more and worry less. 

This summer has been a little difficult.  As my oldest establishes herself while growing into an independent woman there are some growing pains.  One of those pains is her pointing out my faults.  This is not deliberate or vindictive just part of it.  I watch her grow closer to her boyfriend and his family and they will blend the best of both worlds to some day create their own, God willing.  Seeing what she will throw out from her side and take from his can be hard to watch if you over analyze it.  (OK I admit that I have wasted way too much time thinking about it all.)

Last night I sat with two girlfriends discussing our approach for the upcoming school year.  They are both looking forward and I was expressing a little dread and doubt in what I wanted to do.  Then I was so lovingly reminded by these ladies that I have great kids.  Even if Pooker is seeing a gap that doesn't mean there is one.  These children were given to me for a reason.  They are my path to heaven and in that same respect I am part of their path as well.  God linked us for the greater good.  My choices are the right ones for these guys.   

Many times over the years I have listened to others tell me their choices for their families.  I have held my tongue while thinking, "That sounds horrible, how can they even think about doing that?"  Only to observe the situation over time and see that it was in fact the right choice for that family.  It would not have been right for my family but it was for them.  I trust that in these situations and need to also trust that in my situation.  Oh the PEACE that has again entered my heart and the JOY I am having as I prepare for this school year.  I know that I am not perfect but what I am offering my students is prayed about and I need to trust that outcome, I need to trust my outcome, God does.  I am the mom, I get to make the choices. 

So to help you as you prepare to begin your school year.  Trust yourself.  Don't care too much about what your best friend is doing.  Don't worry too much about what your mother-in-law says you are doing wrong.  Don't worry about too much time on what your son wants to study.  Don't questions yourself.  Trust that God made you the mom for a reason, you got it under control.  You are the mom!

Friday, August 5, 2011


The 2011 Texas Home School Coalition Southwest Convention and Family Conference was held last weekend. I joined the group to help with any legal issues that might arise someday in regards to homeschooling and to support the political actions to keep and this option legal. THSC is a great organization.
This is so what I needed. I have only attended the Catholic Conferences in the past. This year it wasn't in the cards, Possible had surgery on her arm that weekend. I wanted to hear one of the speakers and look around the exhibit haul.
I am amazed at how many people attended. This group ran tracks for moms, dads, teens, little ones, and everyone else that might be involved in a home school family.
The exhibit haul was full of vendors. I was overwhelmed by all the material available. When I started 15 years ago it wasn't that easy to find exciting material to use. I love all of the choices and support that is out there now. I was not a pioneer but an early settler.
It is always rejuvenating to be surrounded by like minded people. I was soaking in the advice and prayers. Then, to my joy, I ran into friends. This is just what I needed for my home school year. I can be on the right track now. The most important advice we can give each other to remember to revisit your reasons each year to help you stay on track.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What a great book!

Tom Playfair is a book that at first I never thought I would get through. It was very hard to "get into" Fr. Finn's style of writing but it worth every effort.

Father wrote this book in 1890 for the young boys of his boarding school.
"One of the greatest things in the world is to get the right book into the hands of the right boy or girl. No one can indulge in reading to any extent without being largely influenced for better or worse."
Fr. Francis J. Finn, S.J.

It took me and my younger kiddos several months to get into this book.  The style of writing is very difficult.  The language of the time is different and hard to read, I often had to break and explain.  I wondered if it was worth it and thought about putting the book up.  I spoke with a few other moms that I suspected had purchased the books for their own sons.  Everyone said that their kids liked the story.  Non of the adults that I spoke with had read the book.  Others loved the book so we kept going reading only a little at a time.  Then we hit the middle of the book.  I was struggling to keep the attention of the kiddos.  Then the story took off.

 I think this is a great book for anyone especially those about to receive their first Holy Communion.  I recommend reading it aloud to a child younger than 12.  The old wording can be tricky.  Wow . . . we laughed, we cried and surprisingly we grew strong in our faith.  Father Finn wrote with a black and white love of the soul.  Wrong is wrong, right is right, heaven is heaven but hell is hell.  We finished this book wanting heaven and loving God.  I can't wait to start the next book.  I hope it is just as good.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Quality TV Shows

So many times we as parents think that we are better parents when we avoid mass media. We get a local news story stuck in our heads about the amount of television the average young child watches and we twinge with guilt. We feel like bad parents because we are very close to that number. We all know that one "great" family that never uses the "boob tube" and their children are soo smart. We sometimes forget that our children do not enjoy time with that family because those children have no social skills. We just feel like awful parents because the news just pointed out how much we are like everyone else. STOP IT.

I am here to remind you to trust your judgement. If you feel that a show might actually be beneficial to your family then enjoy the show. It is true that young moms often pressure themselves to avoid all the "bad things".  This same mom doesn't shower until 3 in the afternoon when the three little ones are napping and by then she feels dirty and lazy and behind the ball.  This can do more damage to the peace in the home than any TV show.  I suggest that even a short filler show that will entertain the toddlers while the baby naps would allow mom to shower and feel refreshed early in the day. This might lead to a more productive morning and happy day for all.

On a recent visit to the local zoo my kids started quoting facts that I never even knew they knew. "Where in the world did you learn that?" I inquired. I was shocked when they responded that the source of their fountain of knowledge was a show that they watched 10 years previously. It was always on in the afternoons and it gave me a chance to do some laundry and figure out what was on the menu for dinner.  It wasn't just what was on, I did try to make sure that a part of their TV time included some educational time.

I have three favorites from the past several years. I like Zoboomafoo (the Kratt brothers had Kratt's Creatures before this present show. To be honest I liked Kratt's Creatures better.) Another one that we all enjoyed was The Magic School Bus. I wish there were more of a show called Wishbone. It has been out of production since 2001. I don't claim that these are the only ones but these are ones I trust.


Some are still available on TV and some are only available if you purchase them.  We have our DVR set up to record Magic School Bus and I am still amazed at how this crazy older show can intrigue the little ones.  They do have books and project to go with the videos.  All very good.  My oldest and I waited in line for hours years ago to meet the Kratt's.  It was so cool.  Wishbone was a  great way to introduce kids to classic literature, especially ones that struggle with reading.  The show introduced the stories in a fun way that allowed my kids to begin to understand. 

Leave a comment and let me know what shows you like.  I will try to add more later.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A fad to inspire a reader

I can't believe that I heard about a set of books, ordered the entire set and then enjoyed them as much as I did.   This was all on faith.  At a party Sugar, who has never enjoyed reading, watched her friends talk non stop about a series of books.  I could not believe all the talk about these books so I asked the mom.  After our conversation I came home and ordered all the books.  At the time only 9 were out with one more prepaid for. 

When I went back to pick up Sugar the next morning I didn't tell her about the books. I was hoping she was interested, but I really wanted them to be her thing.  My hope was that she would be more interested if it was something she shared with her friends and not something that I pushed.  Half way home she looked at me and said, "Hey mom, is there any way you might consider getting me a few of those books that they were talking about? They sound fun!" When the set showed up a week later we were both wanted to read them.

I let her go first.  Well as long as I could hold out.  I was so pleasantly surprised at the stories.  They twist mystery, family intrigue, fortune hunting, in with a little science, history and geography.  The excitement doesn't stop with the books.  The stories spill over into the 39 Clues Website   .  This doesn't even begin to describe the fun in collected the cards.  These cards tie the story, the books and the website together.  The thrill in collecting all the clues is just an added bonus to the stories. 

I have recently learned that the success of these books was better than originally planned.  They have plotted more books.  A slight change at the end of the series allows for a new plot line in the books.  I just recently got The 39 Clues: The Black Book of Buried Secrets.  It was kind of a recap of all the secrets that you learned in the first 10 books.  It wasn't really a story but it did an entertaining job of taking the story to the next level.  I can't wait to get book 11 now and see where the story goes.

 I write about these to offer a recommendation.  If you know a young one between 9 and 12 try giving these books as a present.  Try starting a love of reading.  This series does a wonderful job of combining mediums to draw in all kids of readers.  I also recommend you reading them to.  That way you will have an idea of what your child is so excited about and you will not mind as much going to the movie when it hits the big screen.   (That is still a way off so you have plenty of time to catch up and read all the books, collect all the clues and master all the games on the web.)
Happy ready and clue hunting!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Update: Summer Reading - think outside the box

What a weird school year we had last year.  My Sugar is quick to point out that as odd as it was for us loosing so many friends in a few weeks of each other, just imagine how "weird" it would be to be one of those families!  She is watching her best friend Kat become a perfect daughter in her mother's memory without her guidence but still confidant of her love.  We planned to take a break this summer.  We plan to get back to book work soon.  I was going for July 1st but decided to push most of it off until August.  The month of July is not going unmarritted though. I wanted to push independant reading from the high school crowd.  Those three all struggle with verying degrees of reading issues.  After all the work we accomplished this spring I knew that they were all reading.  The only way to work on getting them to grade level is practice, practice, practice. 

I wanted to push them but not school them.  My goal was for them to realize that reading can be fun and take you places.  I don't love reading but I love learning.  I read a lot in that endeavor.  How can I encourage that in my children?

Goobers is an almost 16 year old girl that enjoys her time with her family.  She is now life guarding and spending time Pooker, Bear and Sugar.  They play so much together.  She was the one I was most worried about because she is out of the house so much for work.  How can I push her over the summer?  Well apparently I don't have to.  Pooker has a stack of books that she is pushing on her.  I drove by the pool a few days back when it was raining and found that she had one of those books and was reading away.  She also was able to download audio versions of a few of the books and put them on her ipod.  This giver her the ability to read and yet not get stumped by words that she is unfamiliar with.  

Bear is 14 (soon to be 15) year old high school sophomore.  He is very close to his sisters.  He loves to be the clown and get the laughs.  He also likes to fiddle with picture taking and electronic film editing.  So this young man that appears to struggle with reading a simple book can spend hours pouring over "how to" manuals to figure things out.  I know he is reading but he needs to practice to get to age level.  I keep buying all kinds of stories that I think might intrigue him.  Often I would stick with a more simple reading level because I just thought that he needed that.  This was embarrassing him, because he knew he needed to be reading better. 

We finally broke down and got dad his Kindle for his birthday.  This was something that surprised Jason and I.  Bear picked up his Kindle and continued to play with it.  New technology has always been fun for Bear so he was enjoying playing with this new gadget.  Then Bear asked his dad if there might be any books out there for him available on the Kindle.  Bear and his dad spent a few hours looking.  They agreed on one and dad downloaded his book, then dad made an offer.  "If you finish this book within a week, I will consider getting you your own Kindle."  Talk about motivation. 

This is what is working for Bear.
  #1  No one can tell what age lever he is reading.  He feels cool because he is using a knew device which takes away that barrier he was creating in himself. 
#2   The version we have includes an audio chip.  If you are struggling with a work it will read it too you.  (I don't mind this because it is still very computer sounding so it isn't like you want it to read the entire story for you.) 
#3  Bear is one that loved holding things over his sisters.  I guess he is a typical boy in that respect.  He is so motivated because he has permission to use dad's cool new toy and no one else does. 
Goobers pointed out that she was able to use a Kindle Ap for her ipod touch.

Sugar.  She is my precious 13 year old.  She will be starting high school this year.  She is smart but sometimes slow or lazy in doing her work.  Other times she is s speed demon and doesn't spend time getting the details.  Her reading issues were solved by a friend's birthday party.  Two of the girls at this party were talking about a set of books.  The mom spend some of the party time talking with me about how cool this serious of books are for her daughter.  This friend of Sugars is a great reader so I was worried that she would not be able to read them no matter how great they appeared to be.  She got one of the books and showed me.  It didn't look too hard plus it has other aspects that draw the child in.  Sugar loves on line games and this serious of books were connected to an online game.  Perfect.

I went straight home, signed into our Amazon account and ordered all of the 39 Clues books.  This needs its own post.  Here I can say that I am very happy at how Sugar is reading.  This series is doing the trick at inspiring interest.  Yeah!  3 highschool aged kiddos struggling with reading now showing signs of success.  I pray that each of you with learning issue children find what works.  No matter what it is do what works.  Don't beat yourself up over the latest "program" no working.

 I got these three started in reading by giving them phones for texting.  I know it sounds silly and we set many rules.  (No texting at the table and complete words must be used.)  It got them started and now we are moving forward.  It might seem like small steps to those with children without reading issues but to those with children with reading issues you will share in my joy of this post and hopefully you will be inspired to not lose hope.   Keep the strength and encouragement to try anything that you child is interested in to inspire a reader.  Don't be afraid to resort to the latest technology to inspire your little ones to succeed.  I don't encourage using everything out there just what works.  Always keep them safe by using rules and constant supervision.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Science Text for Elementary/Middle School

Great choices for Elementary Science Books. I have mentioned the Highschool books before. I consider these for middle school as well. These are authored by someone else, Jeannie Fulbright. Here is a quote from the apologia website: "Well, it has finally happened! After years of searching for an elementary science curriculum that is truly God honoring, user friendly, and scientifically sound, we were introduced to two books by Jeannie Fulbright. It’s no wonder that we want to publish her books. As one of the parents who has already used Mrs. Fulbright’s astronomy book says, "It reminds me of Dr. Jay Wile's Apologia Science, only yours is on an elementary level while his is written for high school age." We couldn’t have said it better ourselves."

I really do love the way in which these books are set up in a Charlotte Mason fashion. They are organized in a way that I can use them. I don't have the kids do them on their own, there is just too much work in them. I think they might be overwhelming to a young child to be handed the text and told to complete. Depending on your family situation and your child you can be very specific as to what needs to be accomplished and give in small doses.

That isn't how I use the books. I love them because I can use them to lecture from. I have the younger kiddos right now working on the Flying Creatures. I read it out loud, we discuss the pictures and notes in the book, they copy notes into their notebooks. Then they are given assignments based on their ages. Each one completing a notebook in the end. We are not on a set school year with this. We will just continue until we finish.

My family loved the astronomy. Botany was a tad to much for my little one and my older ones at the time found it boring. The older ones were probably ready for General Science but I hadn't moved them on yet.

Some love that these are one topic books that last the entire school year others do not like it. I find that children learn more when they can dive into one topic and cover it fully as opposed to touching on a million different topics each year. I love these books and was so happy to have found them.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Have you thought of taking a school trip into Narnia?

I hope that you will consider a family trip to Narnia. It is so worth the investment. The power that you leave with knowing that once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen in Narnia. (That picture is taken from a great website with all kids of interesting ideas. Visit them at The LionsCall.com)

I want to share with you how wonderful a family read aloud can be and how we have turned some simple books into a rich experience for all members of the family. Some books are just too great to hand to your child and say read this we will talk about it later. Unfortunately that is how I handled most of the great works of literature that I required our oldest child to read. Looking back I am sad that I let those moments that we could have shared slip away. Pooker now sees how excited we are getting into our daily adventures in the Chronicles of Narnia and feels a little left out. Sorry Pooker.

Our adventures in these books started with our last minute choice for a New Years Eve movie. As a family we always watch a series of movies together. This year it happened to be The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe with Prince Caspian to follow. I refer to how great that has been for the family here in a post from our family blog. That all being said we dove into this series and have loved every day. On the weekend the little ones ask why I am not reading. That is a true sign that they are enjoying the books. Not many of us want to do school work on the weekends.

A few ideas on how we have added to our read alouds. It is hard to entertain the mind of the older children and those of the younger children at the same time. I decided to notebook our adventures, having each child create a "notebook" about this time we are spending on this book. We are including all kinds of wonderful tidbits. Copy work, coloring pages, word games, narrations in pictures or words depending on age, and then a completed book report at the end.

Each book of the Narnia series is separated by a page that we create. After a Google search of the book title I then save the pictures of the various covers that have been used over the years in the different publications of the books. You might be surprised how many different cover pages will apply to just one book. After printing several small copies of each cover and cutting them out evenly I pass them out. I give each child their choice of the cover copies and a piece of card stock paper. They create a college of the various covers. That is placed in a protective sheet. This makes a perfect divider in the notebooks. We have been using the cheap paper 3 ring folders for now but will move those into a more permanent plastic folder as soon as we are finished. We plan to make elaborate covers for our notebooks soon as well.

Coloring Sheet links:
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (there are more sites but they all seam to offer the same pictures.)

Prince Caspian (This is a french site, the pictures are great. Click on "fermer" to close.)

Unfortunately these are not easy always to find. For the other books I google anything that I have taken from the books to create coloring sheets. The mythical character of a faun will produce many possible coloring sheets. Often this means that I need to do some reading ahead to find something for them to work on. When nothing is found a blank piece of paper with a handful of coloring pencils give an opportunity for a simple narration of what is being read.

Word searches for each book.

Activities for all the books are linked here.

This is such a wonderful set of books in so many ways. The literature is so good. I love to hear the children quoting the books. I have found inspiration and growth in our faith in these delightful tails. I did break down and purchase a book to help with all those connections. This was a book that I stumbled upon but often the references are easily found in general searches of the title on the Internet. We are using the book "Believing in Narnia, A kid's guide to Unlocking Secret Symbols of Faith in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia" by Natalie Gillespie. This is a simple little book that lays out the symbolism. It is a reference to me and to the children guiding some of our discussions. I have found that once one child makes one little connection on their own it takes off from there. We don't really need this book but I like referring to it when the conversation is dying.

I am not a good cook so this did not appeal to us, but if you like to dive into a book through cooking you will enjoy this link. We don't try to cook we shop instead. I did buy some Turkish Delight Candy while reading the Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It was OK.

Another thing to remember is that these books bring alive the imagination. They are great books for boys and for girls. Everyone has a beautiful place in Narnia. Each child will pick out their own favorite character. They will all want to dress in nice flowing clothes, borrow a sword and defend their great kingdom. They will love Aslan, and hopefully make the connection to Christ, so much that they will do their other homeschool work "For Aslan". If you let yourself go along for the ride you will begin to see some wonderful things as well. Another family post describing just that.

So if you are looking at March, April and May at the end of your school year and wanting something different, something fun , something that might just reunite and excite the mind; then allow me to suggest planning a family trip to Narnia. For your family it might be a second or third visit but it doesn't matter. Let the imagination run with this. Let your children enjoy this read aloud. Let yourself cry every time to meet Aslan in the book. Let the family laugh together when Edmund leaves his new torch in Narnia. Let your children believe that they themselves are called to greatness. Let your children remember that they are to someday share in His Kingdom, making them true Kings and Queens in the eyes of their creator.


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