You can find entries on a specific topic if you'd like by clicking on the subject under TOPICS in the left column. There's all sorts of stuff- Lapbooking, Lesson Plans, Recipes, Projects, and More! If you're a homeschooling blogger or have a site geared towards homeschoolers and would like to trade links, let me know!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm glad I listened

The past week has been wonderfully blessed, exciting, and emotionally filled. I have been so blessed to see how God has been working things around in my life for the past 3 years to orchestrate what happened this past weekend.

Although two of my sister's kids, ages 15 & 12 are already staying with us, my husband and I are going to be given guardianship over them next week. They are going to stay with us at least 6 months, but more than likely it will be permanent and they will graduate here. Had I not been paying attention to little details around me, I may not have been prepared and at peace with what is about to happen.

I joined a local homeschool group this past summer even though K doesn't have to be registered with the state for another 4 years. I'm glad I did.

I've been attending the Homeschool Mom's Night Out to get advice about homeschooling so I could learn from others before I officially started. I had no idea I would need the information this quickly. I'm glad I attend.

I had no idea that when I was being led to homeschool, that it would consist not only for my kids, but for 2 of my nieces. Although it seems as though I should be nervous, I have such an unexplainable peace about it. I'm glad I answered the call.


Just a couple of weeks ago, I bought my son a talking globe that is above his age level because I didn't want to pass up the good deal knowing I would use it one day. I now know it wasn't intended for him, but for my nieces that are studying World History. I'm glad I listened to the voice.

So, here it is, 3 years until have to register my son in "school", yet I am registering with our state next week. I don't know if God's plans are for the girls to stay with us until the school year is over or until they graduate, but I'm glad I listened to all the "voices" and followed my instincts to what I believe is going to be a wonderful year of change for all of us in our house.

Had I not listened to all the voices and instead had made up my own mind and done all the things that did make sense, I don't think I would have been as prepared. Sometimes the things we do don't seem to make sense at all, but if we're doing them for the right reasons and are praying about them, than it's part of God's plan.


"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15


Is there anything you aren't doing that many people have suggested or that you feel might be a calling from God? If you ignore the call, you may not be prepared for something that could happen in 3 years. God knows His plan. He's the only one that does. What a blessing it is to not be in control, but to know that God is.

Post by Mommy N












Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun, fast, and inexpensive Christmas ornaments.. and a cute little video..

A friend of mine sent me this video by email - and I think all of us homeschool moms can appreciate it:



I also want to share some links to some of my favorite, easy, and inexpensive ornaments for the whole family to make:

These are called God's Eye Ornaments - We made a bunch of these and hung them all over the house:

http://www.make-stuff.com/recycling/gods_eye.html

These are a lot of fun, and (with my help) even my toddlers can make them.. they are glass bulbs painted with acrylic paint. It can be especially inexpensive if you hit Hobby Lobby or Michael's after Christmas and get for 80% off to save for the next year:

http://www.save-on-crafts.com/howtomakcero.html


These are felt ornaments - felt being an inexpensive fabric to buy - and in a miriad of colors. Some of them call to cut out 2 and sew and stuff them (like the gingerbread man/woman), but for the younger kiddos you can just cut one and decorate:

http://crafts.kaboose.com/felt-ornaments.html


Christmas is next week and then the week of New Years, coupled with computer issues I am having - so I probably won't post again until January. May you all have a very merry Christmas and a blessed new year!!

Much love and God bless.

Courtney P and Family

Saturday, December 13, 2008

'Tis the Season

by Mommy N

"Tis the Season to be Jolly....fa...la...la...la....la.la.la.la.

As my children get older, I'm enjoying Christmas even more than I did when I was a kid anticipating the arrival of unwrapped gifts brought by Santa around or on our Christmas tree. Although the memories I have about Christmas are strictly about me getting gifts, I'm finding that I enjoy Christmas more now that I get less than when I got more as a kid. I'm pretty sure it has more to do with the fact that I actually know and understand the true meaning of Christmas and I get to teach it to my kids.


My son asked me the other day when I was going to wrap his presents to put under the tree. It was at that moment, that I realized I needed to start teaching him NOW, that Christmas is SO much more than getting gifts. In truth, I find myself not wanting to buy my kids much. I want them to know the real meaning of Christmas. I want them to know the concept of JOY (Jesus, Others, and You.) How can I do that if all they are worried about is how many gifts they have under the tree? What they learn as a child, becomes a hard habit to break as they get older.

Last year, we started a Jesse Tree. This year, we incorporated an Advent Calendar to go along with the ornament and scripture of the day. We are reading Christmas books often and almost everyday we talk about Jesus' birthday.

Kids are going to feed off our excitement and joy of what is going on. Am I more excited about the gifts under our Christmas tree or the gift that God wrapped and gave to us 2008 years ago on Christmas day?

Christmas is a perfect season to teach kids about character, love, and the spirit of giving to others.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Making do..

Making do.. It was something my grandmother would speak of when I was a child. She would tell me stories about the great depression and how certain things, so-called luxuries were not available, or not affordable. So - they did without those luxuries.

It reminds me of one of my favorite shows - "17 and Counting" - that's the show on TLC about the Duggar family that has 17 children. This family manages to support themselves fully without one dollar of help from the government (i.e. welfare). Through watching the show I try to discover some ways to help my own family save and pinch pennies to make our money go farther.

The main thing that sticks out to me - is "making do". It is obvious that they aren't starving and are all dressed in what I would call "average" fashion - not too much and not too little. They aren't exactly wearing couture fashion - but they don't look like nerds either. They do things like buy clothes and shoes second-hand. This thrifty mom does that ALL the time. I have a hard time finding things for myself or my husband - but always find cute things for the kids. I shop Goodwill and the Salvation Army quite often.

The Duggars not only go the second-hand (and hand-me-down) route - but they also "make do" with what they have until it is NECESSARY to replace shoes and clothes. They aren't concerned with the very latest fashion, and don't appear to go out and buy a pair of Levis jeans for all the kids just because they WANT one. Even if you didn't want to go the second hand route - you would be surprised to see how much money you save by waiting to buy shoes and clothes only when you need them - like when your shoe's sole comes away from the upper, or they are beat up beyond being able to wear them in public, or when your daughter's sun dresses have all grown too small. (Verses - running out to buy a new pair of shoes for your DD just because her friend next door got a new pair.)

I know with my own kids each new season brings a long a list of "needs" because they can't wear last year's clothes (because they are too small) - but I guess this tip has even more to do with us moms going out there and having to have 300 pairs of shoes. I love shoes as much as the next girl - but is that REALLY necessary?

I guess what also made me think of "making do" is what's going on in my own household right now. We have one income and trying to start up a trucking business. Money is a bit tight. We have a dishwasher that doesn't want to drain properly. So we are having to "make do" right now by handwashing all our dishes. With Christmas coming and trucking being slow - we can't afford to walk out and purchase a new one. I could curse, or have a bad attitude - or I can do it the Christian way - and "make do" cheerfully. At least I have a house to wash dishes in - some can't say that - especially with today's economy and so many people getting foreclosed on.

So take a moment today and see where you could perhaps cut back or purchase one less "want" item - to bless your family budget.

I know I have been on a soapbox lately - I promise to come back next week with a cool holiday craft to share with you:-)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Conjunction junction, what's your function?


Hearing that summons up memories of "back in the day" - when the main opportunity to see cartoons was on Saturday morning.. not 24 hours a day like it is now..that was the ONLY time you found us inside when we didn't have to be.. You might watch the Smurfs.. or late morning might have Johnny Quest... but occassionally a "video" from "School House Rock" would be thrown in. They were cute cartoons with a song, a toe tapping tune, and, unbeknownst to me, a lot of good educational tidbits..

Well it seems "School House Rock" is making a comeback. I had been hearing about them putting out a DVD.. and vaguely remember liking them.. so I thought it might be worth getting for the kids. I like them to see you can have fun with education. So I was lucky enough to find it at my local library (a gold mine of resources for us homeschoolers on a budget)...Which by the way - I totally recommend you go make friends with your local librarian - they can get you all sorts of books thru interlibrary loans and save you lots of money..

So anyway, we checked it out and started watching it... I couldn't believe how jam packed it was with info.. things about history, multiplication tables, parts of speech, biology.. etc.. and my kids LOVED it..my 8 yr old dd that is learning her multiplication tables right now kept turning around and smiling at me when the math "videos" would come on.. and my twin boys (nearly 3) were even singing the songs.. they may not understand what they are singing right now, but it will make sense later, and they will have a learning aid to help them - the songs.. I think it would be the perfect DVD to keep in the van, rather than a just a bunch of cartoons (althought we do have those too).. or to pull out when you are studing history, or multiplication tables, etc.. I must admit though - we will probably be purchasing a copy. I highly recommend it to add to your homeschool library.

So that's my input for this week.. by the way - Mandy has so graciously allowed me to come and write on her new blog, and I am so blessed to be able to do so.. we are a new homeschooling family (started as of May this year when I withdrew my dd out of Elementary school), and are those homeschoolers on a budget, so you will find in my entries a lot of inexpensive or free ideas.. you can see more about us (and mostly my artwork) on my blog http://mommasgoodies.blogspot.com/ , and here at The Precious Mind on Wednesdays.



Until next time - much love and God bless!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Call to "Dunkirk"

Watch and listen to this short powerful video from ExodusMandate.org calling families to bring their children home. Our pastor, Voddie Baucham, is featured in it and, as usual, makes some strong points.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Call to Homeschool

Hey all! It's me, Mommy N. Let me introduce myself a little so you will know a little about me before I start contributing to The Precious Mind on a regular basis.

I am blessed to have a wonderful husband. In March, we will be married for 8 years, together for 10. I am blessed by God to be a mommy of 2 wonderful kiddos, a 3yo boy and an 8 mo girl. I am patiently waiting to see if God has more kids planned for us.

I was a very career oriented woman not climbing, but running up the ladder of "success" until I became pregnant with my son. When my son was 10 months old, I picked him up from daycare for the very last time and I have NEVER looked back. I never would have thought I would be a stay-at-home mom, much less a happy stay-at-home mom that homeschools. Although our homeschool journey is just beginning, I'm blessed to have recognized and answered my call from God.

I have also been blessed to have a homeschool mentor in my life that has become a true blessing in so many ways. She introduced me to homeschooling and has taken me under her wings and is guiding me, but not pushing me. Her children range from 8 - 18 years of age. If there is anything I can suggest, it's to find someone that will be honest and open about what's ahead and never lost focus on God or family.

I look forward to sharing some of the valuable lessons I have already learned and am really excited about sharing the ones I have yet to learn.


"But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." (Psalm 73:28)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Crafty Website

Hey everyone! I was going to take the time to introduce myself a little before I made my first post, but I came across this great website/blog that I wanted to share with you instead. There are a lot of great Thanksgiving ideas. Hope you enjoy! Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!!!



http://belladia.typepad.com/crafty_crow/



Mommy N

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Posts to Ponder

Here's a collection of posts from around the bloggy world I know you all will enjoy!

Public or private schools not bringing out the best in your child? Are you worried about what your child is learning beyond the basics of education? Are you fearful of the impressions being made upon little minds? Do you have a desire to homeschool but think you might not be able to afford it? Lori @ Camp Creek Blog answers the tough questions in her post "Should I homeschool?"




Sprittibee discusses the ever-changing course of their homeschool journey. She talks about hardships, frustrations, and the joy she is finding in the Charlotte Mason teaching style. It's a great post for any schooler using whatever method!

"For the past two years, the homeschool road has been getting darker. With the sun set and curves ahead, I've been praying about what is around the next bend. It isn't that I haven't enjoyed homeschooling... it is just that the children have been in the process of growing up - becoming more mature - and our needs have been changing. Eventually we were bound to come to a curve in the path. Just as a child graduates from baby food and picture books (well, maybe they can still enjoy picture books - I do) they grow out of certain curriculum and teaching methods. I have known for a long time that mine have been needing more than unit studies... less of a strict and stressful (parent-led teaching) schedule... and a lot more nature and literature. I knew that as they grew, what may have worked for them at 2 and 4 might not be the best mode of 'transportation' to continue stimulating them intellectually at 10 and 12. And with the gradual changes came a fear of the unknown for the navigator - because it meant I was going to have to steer off the beaten path."

Friday, November 21, 2008



I was blog hopping- something I do from time to time- and came across a really cool blog filled with homeschooling tips for wee ones.

http://1plus1plus1equals1.blogspot.com/


She has come up with some great, inexpensive ideas, like using caps from water bottles to use in matching games. She shares printables she made (so creative).

This blog is the first to get The Precious Mind award. TPM award is given to homeschooling bloggers who creatively nurture their child in all areas of life, realizing that education is more than reading, writing and 'rithmetic.



Do you know of a blogger who should be awarded? Let us know!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Intentional Teacher: babies on up



I'm often asked, "When did you officially start homeschooling?" The truth is, we've been intentionally homeschooling from the beginning. Everyone homeschools in some manner, whether they know it or not. You are always teaching your children something- why not be an intentional teacher?

How can you be an intentional teacher? I've listed six ways to start teaching your preschoolers and beginners..... without plopping them behind a desk!

1. Read to them... a lot. Read rhymes, read novels, read the bible, read stories loaded with pictures.

2. Tell them stories. Make up stories. Go through a photo album- pointing out pictures and explaining what is happening in the photos.

3. Allow them to explore. Let them bang on things, cut paper, doodle, finger paint, dig in the dirt, take things apart...... all under your supervision for safety, but with minimal direction.

4. Ask them questions. Children are great at asking questions. They want to learn about everything. Try turning the tables and asking them questions. Ask them how they feel about certain things, what they think you should do next, how they think something should be done, how they think someone else feels, etc. Their answers may not make much sense to you. They may not even be on topic, but listen and continue to ask questions.

5. Yes, listen. LISTEN to what your children are saying. Pay attention to what they are doing. You'll find out what they are interested in, and you can help them explore those things (by printing out information on the internet, going to the library, visiting a museum, etc). It helps to keep a record of what they're talking about, what they're doing, and what they're interested in.

6. Allow them to help. Sometimes our need for prim and proper perfection keeps us from allowing our children to help out with things. Yes, it might mean more mess. It might take more time, but your children will benefit (and so will you). They can help you cook, clean, pick up sticks, take out the trash, rearrange furniture, decorate the Christmas tree, feed the dog... etc. Teaching them how to help around the house is more than a course in home ec.

I know listening is one of the hardest things for me to do because my children, especially my second child, are very talkative. Nolyn talks all the time, except when he is sleeping. He never really had a babbling stage. He began talking in full sentences very early and hasn't stopped sense. I tend to tune him out much of the time because he repeats things over and over (whether he's talking to me or not, and whether I've answered him or not). That's something that I'm working on- really tuning in and not tuning out.

Remember, it's never too early to start reading. Read to your newborn. Read to your toddler. Don't expect your children to sit still and peer at every page. Just because they don't seem to be paying attention, doesn't mean they aren't.

For example, my daughter, Merikalyn, likes to sit right next to me when I'm reading. Nolyn, on the other hand, will usually play and mumble to himself several feet away, but when I ask the two of them questions about the book, he usually answers correctly. He may not look like he's listening, but he is.

I see many parents who think their children need to read and write by the age of four or five. Studies have shown that children who go through heavy early education and those who don't end up on the same level by fifth grade. We need to go at our children's pace. Let's not set them up for frustration and burn out.

It's important to look at your intentions. Are you trying to produce a child that you can brag about or is your desire to nurture that love of learning within your child, encouraging her to research, explore, and try things out. Be honest with yourself.

Mandy is a homeschooling graduate who spent the majority of her schooling years in public schools before deciding to switch to homeschool halfway through highschool. You can read more about her and her family at MandyMom.com

Poster can be ordered from Art.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parenting 101 from Comedian Steve Harvey

by Courtney

I laugh everytime I think about this Steve Harvey comedy act I saw on DVD. It was one of his first performances after being saved, and I believed it was taped at a big Christian event.. It was called "Don't trip, He aint through with me yet".. well - Steve was talking about how people have kids that they can't make behave at their OWN house... yet bring them into church and drop them off at the nursery with those poor unsuspecting ladies, when they should be bringing those children into the pew with them to correct and keep and eye on.

What does this have to do with homeschool? Well, I had an experience during the summer that reminded me of this part of Steve's act.. I was checking out books at the library and was asking the librarian for certain books.. so the conversation turned to the fact that I homeschool. I get the same usual questions - do you like it? What curriculum do you use? Etc etc etc.. then the librarian proceeds to tell me that she wished she could homeschool, but (and please read carefully so you don't miss anything) her daughter WOULD NOT LISTEN TO HER!! To which I said "Oh... ok" I mean what do you say in return that is polite and Christian-like.. Now I will tell you how the dialog in my head went - "Are you serious? Your child doesn't listen to YOU, her parent - so you drop off your child and her issues to someone else to deal with?" I'm sorry, but if that reason is true then that sounds like laziness to me. I hope not to offend anyone, and I am not suggesting that every parent that sends their child to public school is lazy, but in this context - it is.

Isn't it our jobs to discipline and raise up our children to be polite, respectful and obedient to their elders? Why should the teachers and staff have to do what you didn't do with your child? Why should they be allowed to disturb the classroom or events that are going on? While my DD was in public school they had a handful of kids that were notorious for causing trouble - and it took a good portion of the teacher's day dealing with that. I believe that it is our duty as parents (and the Bible says so too) to raise our kids in the ways of the Lord.. we can't decide it's too difficult and expect some poor teacher (that definately doesn't get paid the salary to have to deal with that) to pick up where we left off. Not to mention, it's not their job. You then have to wonder what are the morals and values that are really being taught to your child when it doesn't come directly from you.

With the way their day goes with public school - it's easy to let things slip. When my dd was in public school she left at 7am.. got off the bus at nearly 4pm.. after chores and homework it was off to bathe and eat dinner.. read the bible.. and go to bed.. She spent a majority of her day in the care of other people - so her behavior issues were mostly dealt with by the school staff. Perhaps I read to much into this, but the Bible says for us to raise our children - not the staff of an elementary school..

It's this conviction that helped lead me to homeschooling..and the help of Mandy who was my first contact with a homeschooler - and obviously a positive one because it was shortly after we met I decided to homeschool too. So to hear someone say they put their kids in public school because their children don't listen to them, is not so much an indication of the child's issues, but the parents and their lack of attention to parental duties. I guess I am hoping that wasn't REALLY her reasoning, but on the fly it sounded like a good enough thing to say...

Mandy has said it before - be honest about why you don't want to homeschool.. a lot of people have the ability to homeschool, but don't realize it or just don't want to.. and there are some that fall into that category that TRULY can't (like single parents or families that must have more than one income to survive).. if God gives you the desire to homeschool, be sure to check out all the info you can on the internet, at the library, on homeschooling message boards.. and be honest with yourself. But if your reasoning is that you child misbehaves, therefore they have to go to public school, then perhaps you should reexamine God's blueprint for us as parents.


Courtney is a "deschooling" mother to three. You can visit her blog here.

New Writer

Several things- first, there's a new craft video on how to make "popcicle kid" dolls on my website, MandyMom.com . Check it out!

Secondly, we have a new writer!

I met Courtney through freecycle. She had a little dog she needed to find a home for, and I thought the little pooch would be a perfect fit for our family. Before long, we were reading each other's blogs. My blog let her peek into the world of homeschooling. She brought her little girl home from public schools is May 2008 and is now "deschooling".

Courtney is very creative, so she'll be a great addition to TPM. She's mom to an eight year old daughter and three year old twin boys. Stop by her blog when you get a chance!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Go vote.. (for us)

I don't want to tell you what to do.....

(ahem)

Buuut... it'd be really nice if you'd go vote for The Precious Mind as the "Best Craft Plans & Projects" blog over at The Homeschool Blog Awards!

You don't have to sign up to do it. It logs IP addresses, to make sure people only vote once per category (and I've linked straight to the category TPM is in).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let's Play a Game!




HSBA wants to know what sort of games you use for learning in your homeschool!

We use an assortment of games, including ones we made up ourselves. Dominos is a wonderful game to teach children matching and numbers. (And it's Sonlight approved!) We also play cames like Memory to teach different things as well. We have the official Memory game, and have made a cards of our own to play Memory and teach colors, shapes, numbers, letters and more. We play alphabet Memory on a near-daily basis. The children have to match the upper case to the lower case letter. When we first begin playing, all of the cards are face up. As they get better, we turn the cards face down so they actually have to play the "Memory" part of the game.

We also love to play hopscotch. This was one of my favorite outside games as a kid, one that is easy to create with a piece of chalk.

A while back, I made up a game to help my children understand directions and placement. This is also a great game to teach prepositions. When they were younger, I went through the house and specifically named parts of the house (the nook, the entry, the guestroom, mom's side of the bed, dad's side of the bed, the hallway) so that they could easily understand directions when I asked them to get something or put something away. I found this to be most helpful. I would often become frustrated when I would ask them to do something and then had to keep giving them directions because they didn't understand where I wanted them to go!

We've gone on to expand this into a game, as I said, and I'll place things throughout the house as a treasure hunt of sorts. They must follow my directions to find each treasure. For example, I would tell them their treasure would be in the sitting room, to the side of the couch, and near the wall. Now they are learning left from right, so this is a great game to help them with that.

We also play games like tag for exercise (and I join in, because I definitely need exercise!).

As the children get older, they'll be able to play games like Monopoly (and, hey, there are new Monopoly games out that younger children can play), Scrabble (love it!), and trivia style games.

What sort of games do you like to play?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Homeschooling Daughters

Raising Arrows has a lot of wonderful posts on her homeschooling blog. I've really enjoyed reading her posts about Homeschooling Daughters, and thought I'd share those links here.

Homeschooling Daughters Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Easy recipe for a personal-size chocolate cake!

I came across this cool recipe while blog hopping and am definitely going to test it out. Sometimes I have a craving for chocolate cake, but don't feel like making a whole cake. Heather over at Want What You Have shared this recipe from another blog she came across, and I'm passing it on to you! I think this would make a great project for young children learning how to cook.


Ingredients
4 Tbsp self-rising flour (NOTE: If you don't have self-rising flour, you can easily make your own by mixing 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt).
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg
3 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips (if desired)
A splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee cup

Add all dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, to the cup and mix well. Add the egg, milk, oil & vanilla extract and mix very well. Fold in chocolate chips, if desired. Put cup in the center of your microwave and cook for 3 minutes on high (1000 watts). The cake will rise over the cup a bit, but thats normal.

Top with icing or coolwhip! Btw, make sure your coffee cup can be microwaved. Some cannot! (I use to have some that couldn't be microwaved. I ended up donating them to Goodwill, because, well, I always forget about my coffee and need to microwave it!)

Feel free to share this on your blog. If you test it out, let me know how it worked for you!

Edit:
The first time I tried this, I did it in a large "soup" mug (which is wide, not tall). The cake was a little dry, and I wished it was a little sweeter. It definitely does make one large serving! It'd be perfect for making one of those small personal birthday cakes for babies to chow down on.

Anyway, I decided to try it again. This time, I added another tablespoon of sugar. I also added a couple squirts of chocolate syrup and mixed it all in. I divided the cake mixture into two regular sized coffee cups (which I greased first). I put a little squirt of chocolate syrup on the top of each cup after filling them with mixture, then microwaved for ONE minute.

The cakes were very moist, and just the perfect amount of sweetness. (And, splitting the cake mix into two mugs made the perfect serving size!)

I have pictures to post later! :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Blogger Awards!

It's that time of year! Go nominate your favorite blogs for awards!
(In case you're wondering, The Precious Mind would fit into "Best Crafts, Plans & Projects Blog". Yanno, just in case you'd like to nominate us!)

Join Us at the HSBA!


The Precious Mind is looking for homeschooling mothers, fathers, or students to write articles, reviews, and share their homeschooling stories here at TPM. You may also submit pictures to be displayed on the TPM site.

If you're interested, please email Mandy @ contact (at) mandymom (dot) com

Monday, October 20, 2008

Native American themed crafts

My friend Courtney is doing a unit study on American Indians. She came up with some unique ideas to make Indian corn necklaces and cornhusk dolls. It reminded me of a craft my dad use to do with us. (Maybe sometime I'll find a picture of my brother and I dressed up in our creations to post.)





Find a paper bag from the grocery store. Usually, they have print on the outside, so you might want to flip it inside out before you get started. So, first step- you have your brown paper bag. Secondly, you cut down the middle of one side, and continue cutting into the bottom of the bag. Cut out a circle in the bottom of the bag (step 3). This will now be the top where a little head will be poking through. Next you need to cut out arm holes on each side (step 4). Cut them high up on the sides and make them large enough for some flexibility. Cut fringe (step 5) along the bottom of the bag (which was once the top, remember). Then decorate!

You might want to make an Indian headband (as shown in the drawing) to go along with the vest. If you do this project, post it on your blog and send me the link, or send me a picture link to post here.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush (Tomie dePaola). I loved to paint then just as much as I do now. This book spurred me to look into the old-fashioned ways of making paint colors.

Another good book (also by Tomie dePaola) is The Legend of the Bluebonnet (my state's flower, and also my favorite!). The illustrations are so beautiful. I'm one of those people who never outgrew children's books because I love the art!

Enchanted Learning has a bunch of neat Native American crafts, like paper towel totem poles, dream catchers, and rain sticks!

I also found this link, which has pretty cool ideas as well. The Indian Leather Painting (also using a brown paper bag) is really cool. I did that when I was a kid as well!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Crafts from every day items


Last spring, our family went to Baton Rouge to celebrate Easter with our friends. That weekend, we went to a children's museum. They had a little section full of items like toilet paper rolls, fabric, egg cartons, and more for children (and their parents) to make anything they could think up. I took pictures of some of the things they have displayed. There were loads of cute creations- which inspired me to hold on to the items that I'd normally toss (egg cartons, jugs, newspaper, etc). My son likes to use the fridge boxes colas come in to make "robot arms". Toilet paper rolls become binoculars. They enjoy playing with these things more than they do those pricey toys!

If you have posted a picture about using everyday items for toys and art, please, leave a link to your post in a comment! I'd love to see it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Days of the Week: Praise Him! (mp3)

Hey y'all,

After a few requests (okay, a couple- just two), I decided to record myself singing Praise Him: The Days of the Week song which I made up (using the tune from The Grumblers). Feel free to share it with your children and sing it with your family. We usually dance around the house singing it. Please, don't make fun of my voice. I had to redo it a couple times because I realized how hick I sounded. Ha! I'm not a professional singer (as you can tell), but I did my best. (And, as I tell my children- that's what counts!)

Praise God: Days o...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Free (that's right, FREE) Lesson Plans

Curriculum can cost thousands of dollars. As someone who uses Sonlight curriculum, let me tell you, a good quality curriculum is well worth the money, but I also understand that not everyone can afford such a luxury. Sonlight was our early Christmas gift to the kids- and they certainly didn't feel like they were cheated because it's full of wonderful books and creative games. If you really want to purchase a curriculum set, be creative in ways you can set aside money for it. Look for curriculum that is reuseable, so you can use it with your other children, or sell it when you're finished. When purchasing curriculum, remember- cheaper is not always better!

Still, if you can't afford it (especially with the economy the way it is), don't give up on homeschooling. You don't have to have curriculum to homeschool. If you prefer to have written lesson plans, here's a list of wonderful links with quality lesson plans. You can use these resources to create your own curriculum, or, if you're unschooling/deschooling, you can print a few things for your children to dive into when they're ready.



Tip: Try right clicking and open these links in a new window or tab. I have put my favorites in bold.

Environmental Lesson Plans
American Heritage Education Foundation
Word & Number Puzzles from Discovery


Thinkfinity (K-Adult Education)
Scott Foresman Grammer & Writing Handbook (grades 1-6)
Core Knowledge
The Curriculum Archive
A to Z Teacher Stuff
Lesson Plan Central
Lesson Plans & Teaching Strategies
Microsoft Lesson Plans
Discovery Education
The Teacher's Corner
TRIP for Teachers

Blogger Friend School

I came across a really cool site today and wanted to share it with all of you.


BFS Graphic"BFS is a full school year of fun-filled assignments to Build Friendships, Strengthen Faith, and Journal your Memories! Our goal is to encourage a community of homeschool moms to learn together while writing out special memories."

Blogger Friends School, or BFS, is a free place for homeschooling moms to meet up and participate bible verse memorization, writing prompts, and picture sharing.

BFS Assignment #105:

Post your favorite fall recipe to share. Post a picture of your finished product, or you could just post a picture of the recipe. How about a picture of you cooking? The sky is the limit. Post your favorite verse in your post.


I don't know about you, but when I think about fall, I think about family. When I think about family, strangly enough, I think about food. Why? Fall is a time when my family gathers together for fellowship and feasts in celebrating Thanksgiving. There are all sorts of great dishes served up from brown sugar and cinnamon yams to warm yeast rolls.

One of my favorite recipes to make with the kids is an apple cobber. It's super simple and doesn't involve a lot of mess (because you mix the ingredients in the dish you'll be baking it in!).

1/2 cup butter/margarine
1 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

1- 21oz can fruit pie filling.

Melt butter into a 9X9 casserole dish. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder, milk and salt until all lumps are gone. Dump fruit on top, but don't stir in. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until well browned on top. Serve hot with cold icecream (and maybe a drizzle of caramel syrup)!



Here are two of my munchkins helping their Uncle John bake a cake.

Sounds delicious right? Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the cake, or us making it!
Maybe I'll come back and post one next time we bake it.

Made from what?

I love listening to little children talk. It's pretty funny how they mispronounce words. For example, my parents told my daughter they were going to a church convention, and she told me she wanted to go on a church adventure.

She calls the Renaissance Festival the Renaissance Vegetable. (At first the called it the "vestibule"!)

Today, we watched a show about how wheat was ground into flour and made into breads. As she was eating her muffin at lunch, she proudly exclaimed, "Mom! This muffin is made from weed!"

I choked on my drink. As it dribbled out my nose, I asked, "It's made from what?"
"Weed!"
"Are you sure it's made from weed?" I queeried.
"Oh, I mean wheat," she corrected, emphasizing the T, as she looked at the package trying to read the ingredients.

I don't want her going around telling folks we serve muffins made with drugs, now!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Teach Your Child to Read!

Did you know the English language is the largest language on earth? I have friends from other countries who had to learn English. All of them have told me that English was the most difficult language for them to learn (and some of them speak several languages). That is because our language has so many rules-- rules which break themselves far too often, plus words that sound alike but don't look alike along with words that look alike, but sound different.

Your children are probably already halfway there if they have a great vocabulary. It may take a while for them to read, but pressuring them doesn't help. The best thing we can do for our children is read to them often, DAILY, and hold meaningful conversations with them throughout the day to build their vocabularies and their love of reading.

One way to help your child get into reading is to give them small successes that spur them on to learn more. By teaching them six letters (over 3-6 weeks), they can get a taste for reading without knowing the whole alphabet! The best way to do this is to teach them a different letter each week. Instead of teaching them the name of the letter, teach the sound of the letter (phonics).

Try these six letters: B,C, H, S, T, and A. Instead of teaching them all the sounds of these letters, just teach the main, most common sound. (Remember, C sometimes sounds like an S, and A has quite a few sounds. There is no need to teach your child this yet.) The sound you will use for A is the same sound as in apple and cat.

Here's what one week might look like:
- Point out the letter B. Make the sound for letter B, not the name of it.
- Look through a book or magazine, or go on a walk and point out things that start with the B sound. You can even walk through your house pointing out these things. Call it a treasure hunt for the B sound!
- Have your child trace the letter B (written as large as a single piece of paper) with his or her finger.
- Write the letter B on a piece of paper (with or without lines) and have your child trace it with a pencil, then try to draw it himself. Don't worry about the size of his letter, just make sure he draws the letter in the right direction (most letters start at the top and go down) and is writing left to right. Do this daily.
- Keep talking about the sound it makes, and what words start with that sound or have that sound in it.

Each week, use a different letter, until you get to the letter A. With the letter A, you will talk about words like bat, cat, hat, mat, at, etc that have the letter A in it.

Now your child might be ready to read. Test the waters by writing out a short story like this. (Feel free to use this one):

CAT.
CAT HAS A HAT.
CAT HAS A BAT.
BAT CAT!


You might even want to draw (or cut out) some pictures of a cat with a baseball bat to make it more stimulating for your child. The stories do not need to be long (or even make a lot of sense). The point is your child can easily read these stories and will feel SO excited she can! This is a big accomplishment in her eyes and will have her eager to learn more.

If you don't already have a few Dr. Suess books, you may want to purchase or borrow a few. They're great starter books for new readers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lapbooking & Notebooking.

I love lapbooking, even though we haven't done much of it lately. I need to buy more file folders and get back into it. I like notebooking too, at least, I think I do. I haven't had a chance to put it to use. (Okay, I've had many chances- I just haven't done it yet.)

I found a couple spare binders when I was cleaning out my closet and thought, "Hey, we should start notebooking."

I've notebooked as a kid- not realizing that's what I was doing (back then I didn't realize there was a name for it), but I haven't used this method on my children. I'm sure they'd love it.

Anywho, here are links on lapbooking and notebooking... and a picture of our one lapbooks creations.


I made this for the kids on Valentine's Day a while back to tell the message of the gospel! It's pretty basic, but has cards that come out of pockets, little books that fold out, etc.


http://www.squidoo.com/lapbooking
FREE lapbooks from Homeschool Share
http://lapbooklessons.ning.com/
Notebooking Pages
Notebook Learning
http://www.ignitethefire.com/fuel.html
http://www.homeschoolhelperonline.com/
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/

Friday, October 10, 2008

Links to Great Homeschooling Resources

If you have a homeschooling site or blog and would like to trade links, please grab my icon (left side), post it on your site with a link to me, and then leave me a comment. You will then be added!

This page will be updated weekly.


Homeschool Laws

Homeschooling Support and Forums

The Homeschool Lounge

Homeschooling 'Zines, Articles, and Awards:

Heart of the Matter
Homeschooling Today
Homeschool Blog Awards
The Six-Lesson School Teacher (article about school system)
No thanks. We don't believe in socialization (article)

Free Resources:

TEACH-nology (lots of free curriculum/lesson plans)
Teach a Child to Read
The Garden of Praise

ABCteach
Smithsonian American Art Museum
I Know That (interactive/games)
Enchanted Learning (some things require paid memberships)
National Geographic for Kids

Interesting & Useful

StateMaster (State statistics and more, useful for comparisons)

Blogs

Home Educate in the Sunshine State
Luke's Sonlight Blog
An Untraditional Home
Christian Unschooling
Freely Educate


Homeschool ID Cards:

Some places offer discounts to teachers, but you'll need a teacher ID. You can make your own, or use these links to create one for you. I make IDs for friends, so.. if you're my friend, ask me! Remember, when making a ID, you'll need a decent photograph, just you, alone, with a solid background. Buy laminating sheets to protect your card.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op (looks like the card below)



Curriculum:

I use Sonlight for several reasons. First of all, we're not super structured, and I have no desire to be structured. I don't want to bring a strict school environment into my home. I want learning to be fun. Sonlight helps me teach my children the things they need to know, even providing me with a lesson plan, while being flexible and fun.

Secondly, I love to read. My children love to be read to. My daughter can't wait to read on her own. Sonlight is full of great books which teach children all sorts of things, without them even realizing them. I'm not talking about textbooks, I'm talking about real books, like The Boxcar Children. Some are old classics, and some are sure to be new favorites. There's a great variety.

If you are unschooling, but feel you want a bit of structure, or you are deschooling (coming out of a schooling environment), Sonlight would be a great assistance to you! Go to their website and get a free catalog delivered to your home!

It may seem pricy, but it's worth it, even if you can only buy a little bit of a time, or choose to purchase only one subject. (And, if you are going to be selective in your subjects, I recommend that you purchase the Core for the grade level you desire, which includes Readers, Read-Alouds, History.. and more! (The History part includes some really cool books!)

The best thing about Sonlight is it's reusable. Every year, I purchase the curriculum for my oldest child (daughter). My other children use it when they are ready! (For example, my son will use her Kindergarden curriculum next school year.) Plus, because Sonlight includes books to read-aloud, the whole family can listen in and participate- even Dad.

You can choose a four day plan or a five day plan. We have chosen to do the four day plan, which allows for even more flexiblity.

What were my twelve years of schooling for?

It’s clear that people do not understand homeschooling at all. There are various methods to choose from, various ways of doing it. I’m sure some people who choose to homeschool their children are doing their child a disservice, but that’s not usually the case.

I believe the misunderstandings come from the name “home” schooling. People believe we stay at home, plop a book in front of our child, and try to teach them from our own knowledge. While this could work, it will only take you so far.

So how do you teach those tougher subjects? You get your child involved! Imax had an awesome film on the human body that is useful in teaching biology. It’s now available on DVD, I believe. You could also take your child on a tour of a pharmaceutical company or a hospital (Researching how and why a hospital makes a commitment to sterilization is very interesting- it was one of the subjects I chose to research when I was eleven. I was even able to go into the NICU and see the little babies!). You can talk to various doctors (many doctors will take the time to discuss what they do, why they do it, etc), research various conditions and diseases, and watch videos. You may want to have someone who has had cancer or another disease come speak to your children- then you can research exactly what cancer is, what is looks like, etc.
Why do people try to limit how we learn and who can teach? Maybe it’s because that’s what happened in our schools? Institutional schools are always “changing the rules”.

I have a question. Why did we go to 12 years of school (plus kindergarten)? Teachers always told us it was so we could have careers. So we could make something of ourselves. I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “You need to learn this because you’re going to use it later in life.”

So, it’s later in life! I’m using everything I learned to teach my children, PLUS other resources (people, places, things) available to me as well. How can it be that I’m NOT equipped to teach my children when I have already been taught all of the things I’m suppose to teach them?

I have found that the people who are so very against homeschool really don’t know anything about it. Maybe they have one or two examples of homeschooling gone bad and assume that’s how it all goes, but that’s not truth. In fact, top schools like Harvard and Yale love homeschoolers!

On the other hand, most homeschoolers have a very good idea of what instituational schools are like, which is why they’ve chosen to homeschool. So, before you go trashing it, maybe you should give it a whole-hearted try!

Homeschool Tips: A Mission Statement

There probably isn't a single homeschooling family that hasn't been asked why they chose to homeschool. (Funny, I don't go around asking people why they chose to send their children to public school....) Fact is, when you do something different from the norm, you'll probably have your fair share of questions and criticism.

I have found it's helpful to make a homeschooling binder, not for curriculum, but filled with reminders of why you homeschool. There will likely be times when you feel discouraged or beaten down, so it's nice to have something to put it all back in perspective.

When you think about why you homeschool your children, a list of reasons probably pop into your mind. Take the time to write these reasons down, and explore each one in depth. There will be those who argue with you, and you'll feel better prepared to defend your rights if you have really solidified the reasons behind your choice. You'll be able to articulate exactly what you believe and feel, without getting flustered.

So, write a mission statement. Jot down what your homeschooling goals are. Write down what you want to avoid. Write down what is important to you. Go in depth.

Sometimes people ask me, "You don't want to shelter your children, do you? Don't you want them to be able to think for themselves?"

Well, let me talk about the first sentence first. What's wrong with sheltering my children? Why shouldn't I shelter my children? In fact, throwing my children out into the wild doesn't sound reasonable to me. It makes me cringe to think that people have fallen into the belief that we shouldn't shelter our children. Of course, there are people who take it overboard, but, I promise you, we don't choreograph our children's every move and thought. We don't stand over their shoulder all the time, breathing down their little necks.

There is nothing wrong with sheltering your children from the world. There is nothing wrong with desiring to protect them from filthy mouths and filthy minds. Little ones are like little sponges. They soak up everything. As parents, we need to be the filter, because they don't have one. I've received criticism for that, but, I'm sorry (not really), I don't want my children learning about sex at the underripe age of five, or being pressured into it at the age of twelve. Schools are poisoned with sexual misconduct, but parents and teachers have taken the ostrich approach (head in the sand). How can I raise children to be pure and chaste if, from a young age, they spend most of their time with people who don't care about preserving their innocence and encouraging purity?

I'm also told that I'm brainwashing my children by focusing on the bible. Therefore, according to this non-logic, anyone who raises their children "in the way of the Lord" as the bible directs is brainwashing. If that's the case, I think everyone could use a little brain washing using God's word as soap!

There are loads of things out there that could "brainwash" our children. Television is one of them, yet most people have no problem allowing their children to sit in front of the boob tube for hours on end. I know people who allow their toddlers to watch Family Guy, a cartoon filled with adult material and clearly marked for adults. (Although, I don't think anyone, even an adult, should watch it). Do they not realize or care that their children are soaking up the behavior they see displayed on television shows? You can't say one thing ("This is bad, Junior!") and then allow them to watch the behavior or take part in it as you all laugh.

I saw this plain and clear when my daughter became obsessed with Hannah Montana. I walked in the room to find her doing some sort of dance which involved grinding her hips and singing with a raspy, "sexy" voice, and I nearly had a heart attack. I thought the Disney Channel was for children, but it is sending forth a message that I don't care for.

For one, it's teaching my daughter to move her body in a way that's not becoming of a little girl (or a grown woman). Secondly, the show was teaching her how to be a drama queen. Check out some of the shows geared towards girls. There's a lot of fluttering about, emotional mumbo jumbo, and diva-like behavior.

We canceled cable.

My point again: There are loads of things out there to "brainwash" our children. What brainwash really means in these cases is influence. What do you want to be the biggest influence in your children's lives? A stranger? Another child? You? The people your children are around the most will influence them the most.

Of course people will have questions about (ugh) socialization, a subject most homeschoolers think is absolutely ridiculous (as if public school is the only place to receive socialization). Personally, I perfer healthy socialization with people who are kid, respect other's space and beliefs, and whose speech is encouraging and uplifting.

If you would like to read one of our mission statements (sort of), you can click here:

Why We Chose to Shelter Our Children

Now, back to the original question. "You don't want to shelter your children, do you? Don't you want them to be able to think for themselves?"

Obviously, I do want to shelter my children. Again, you can read more about that in my mission statement (linked above). Do I want them to be able to think for themselves? Of course I do? Sheltering children does not mean I forbid them to think for themselves. If anything, throwing them out into the world ensures that they will not think for themselves. They will be told by their peers what is cool. Their peers will define who they are. Their peers will tell them what to think. My job, as a parent, is to bring out the best in my child and to help them use their talents and gifts for God's purpose. In short, my job is to help them become the person God made them to be.

Our children are not birds. We don't have to throw them out of the nest to teach them how to fly. We can teach them how to fly within the boundaries of our home. We can teach them how to be responsible. We can teach them how to be confident and strong in their identity because their identity is in Christ. And because their identity is in Christ, they won't feel as tempted to bend to the pressures of peers and society.

So, I've rambled on, but this shows you the importance of really thinking about the questions you have been or may be asked, and to really get deep down into the reasons why you are homeschooling. Of course, there are other reasons that aren't so deep, like, "It's just plain fun!"

What are some of your reasons for homeschooling?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Inexpensive Resource: Beads

Beads: Small but Mighty!

Curriculum can get expensive, and some people cannot afford to buy fancy lessons with fancy pieces, but here's a simple item that can teach many things! Beads!

Of course, children who still have a tendency to put things in their mouths should not play with beads, but you know when your child is ready. (And, word to the wise, you might want to make sure your three-year-old doesn't shove them up his nose... not that we had that happen.... or, um.. anything.)

A bag of beads is pretty cheap, but have so many uses. First of all, the obvious. Beads are great for sorting colors. Give your child a handful of beads and ask him to sort it out. Don't tell him how to sort him out, though. See what creative way he comes up with.

Don't be too much of an adult that you don't take the time to join in the fun. I usually participate in most of my children's activities as well. While he's sorting his beads, you can be sorting a pile of your own. Maybe he'll pay attention and copy you, maybe not. After a while, ask him how he's sorting his beads, and then explain how you are sorting yours (by color). Ask him, "What is your favorite color bead?"

Beads can also be used to make letters and shapes. Take a piece of paper and draw the letter your child is learning on it (big enough, but not too big that you won't have enough beads to "trace it" with). Have your child trace her finger over the letter, and then place the beads along the lines of the letter.

Use the beads to form pictures, maybe yellow beads to shape a sun, blue beads to shape clouds, green beads for grass and so on. If you just let your child use her imagination (no directing and correcting every little thing) as she plays with the beads, she'll probably come up with some cool ideas.
Give your child a string (a shoelace or piece of yarn works) to thread the beads on. This takes quite a big of coordination! Some children will naturally make a pattern, some will not.

Beads are great to use for math as well. This gives them a visual as you add and subtract beads. There are so many different ways to use beads. The possibilities are endless! Try coming up with your own ideas (maybe even a game) using beads.... and let me know what they are!



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DIY Comic Books

When I was a kid, I loved comic books. It was likely a passion inherited from my dad, who was really into them as well. My brother and I use to make comic books of our own on lazy afternoons. You can do this too, even if your child does not know how to read or write, or draw, for that matter!




You'll need several things. If you want to make smaller books, you'll need scissors or a paper cutter. You'll also need a stapler, and, of course, paper.

Trim sheets so they are all the same size. Make sure they are stacked up well, and fold them group of sheets in half. There are several ways to staple your book.

One way is to fold your book and staple it in the folded position. This is the easiest way bind larger books.

If you are making smaller books, fold your book, then open it back up. Then slide your stapler to the folded line and staple along the line. I show both examples on the picture above.

Making books is a great way to recycle paper. You can use paper bags, pieces of junk mail, even magazines! Just make sure the sheets are all trimmed the same size.

Now the real fun begins! Drawing!


For my three-year-old, I asked him to tell me a story about himself. I wrote down exactly what he told me, and drew pictures for him to color. In his story, he was a ninja (with a mask) who kicked bad guys and helped people up when they had been pushed down. I left a few pages blank at the back for him to continue his story. (However, at this point, he rarely draws anything recognizable.)


Merikalyn loves to draw, and her pictures are usually recognizable. She drew a story about being a princess that turned into a mermaid. When she was done, she told me the story, and I wrote it down so she could trace over my words.


And hey, Mom, get involved too. You can see my little book (The Evolution of Mom) in the following post!


And if you're the dog, then you just watch. (And if you're the dog, then why are you reading this?)


DIY Comic Books: The Evolution of Mom



by Mandy Mom

Evolution of a mom as seen through the drawings of a child.
(actually, I drew the photos, but they are based on real drawings of my
children's and my own as I aged.)



In the beginning, all mothers had arms formed in place of their ears. Also, mothers seemed to be in a constant frown. (Doesn't this remind you of a two-eyed version of Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc?)

Over time, mothers evolved, and even gained hair, duck-like mouths, and well, bodies, as their arms moved down.

Scientists aren't sure when mothers began to take on the form they have today.

Eventually, mothers finally gained a sense of style.

Which leads to the mother specifies as she exists today. A word to the wise. It might not be a good idea to encourage your child's artistic abilities by signing him or her up for an art class in, say, Characatures, because you might end up with an exaggerated version of mom you don't care for.


The End.

(Thank you for checking out my doodles. Please realize that these are merely doodles and do not represent my true artistic ability. Ha!)

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Boxcar Children Activities (one)

We're currently reading The Boxcar Children, a multigenerational favorite, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I love a good book, and our curriculum is heavy with reading, so you'll find a lot of activities centered on specific books here at TPM.

We just finished the first four chapters of this book (so many good memories of my youth tied to this series), and I was aching for a cool little project to get the munchkins into. After sitting still for so long, they were eager to do something hands-on.

Today, we're building a Boxcar out of a box (coincidently, it's one of the boxes I received my curriculum in).

Here's how you can make one of your own:

Find a box. It can be a shoe box or a refrigerator box. Size doesn't matter. Paint or color it red. Have your children draw 4 children (2 girls, 2 boys) that will fit inside the box. (Little dolls will do as well, if you'd rather do that instead.) Have them act out scenes from the chapters you've already read.

As you progress in the book, the children can make other things, like the beds made out of pine needles (you could use raffia instead). Look ahead in the book and buy or make some of the foods the Boxcar Children eat (like milk, blueberries, fresh bread). Allow your children to taste the same foods the Boxcar Children are eating. It really gets them in the "spirit" of the book.

Reading books gives us a chance to have some wonderful conversations with our children. Discussing chapters afterwards helps children articulate and build their vocabulary and learn to tell stories. Garden of Praise has some great free educational resources, including comprehension pages that help further discussions on The Boxcar Children book.

Click HERE to go to the website.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Days of the Week: Praise Him!

When I was a kid, we use to sing a song about grumblers who "Grumbled all week long". Mom use to play it on the piano, and my brother and I would belt it out beside her. Here's a video of some people singing part of it on YouTube. (It's quite funny, really.)





Anyway, I always think of this song when telling the kids what's going on during the week as we go through each day. So, I changed the song (but kept the chorus tune) to teach them the days of the week.

Praise God All Week Long!

Praise Him Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Praise Him Wednesday too!
Praise Him Thursday, Friday Saturday- Praise Him the Whole Week through!



The Grumbling song starts with Monday, but I wanted to teach the kids the days of the week in the same order as they are on the calendar. Our Praise God song is a hit. It's easy to memorize, and fun to sing!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Piñatas!

My daughter’s birthday falls on this Mexican holiday, so we celebrate “it”, in a sense. Her birthday parties usually have a special Spanish flair to them, as we combine the celebration of her years with the remembrance of the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Some people believe Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico’s independence, which actually took place in September 1810. Cinco de Mayo marks a David and Goliath type battle in which an ill-equipped Mexican army, made up of Mestizo and Zapotec Indians, defeated the sophisticated, well-trained French army.

Mexican history is very interesting to me, maybe because it’s woven into my own history as a Texan. This time of year, I love to introduce new aspects of Mexican culture to my children as I teach them about this special holiday.

Growing up, I had quite a few Mexican friends. On the bus ride home, a friend of mine would share tasty Mexican treats with me, like fruity suckers covered with chili powder. Her grandmother would stuff me full of homemade tortillas, which I later learned to make with the help of a boyfriend’s mother.

In highschool, I learned to make piñatas (without a balloon), and this year, I plan on passing this down to my children.

First, you have to make a papier-mache paste. There are loads of recipes available on the internet, most of which use just water and flour. Google “papier-mache paste” and find one that suits you. Some pastes require boiling, some don’t.

You’ll need lots of newspaper. Loads of it. I like to wad up the newspaper to make forms (like a head, or a body, or even a star). You can use masking tape to hold the form together. If you plan on using this as a piñata, then you’ll need a hallow part to add candy. You can do this in the back or at the bottom. Once you’ve created the form you like, you’ll need to cover it with newspaper strips (1-2 inches wide, 4-8 inches long). When you’ve finished covering it, you need to let it dry.

Once dried, you can either paint it or cover it with tissue paper (or both). Decorate and design to your heart’s content! This is a great art project to make statues as well!