Sunday, January 20, 2013

Scripture and a Snapshot--1/20/2013

"In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice— His word thundering so wondrously, His mighty acts staggering our understanding. He orders the snow, ‘Blanket the earth!’ It’s God’s breath that forms the ice, it’s God’s breath that turns lakes and rivers solid. Whether for discipline or grace or extravagant love, He makes sure they make their mark." Job 37:1-3
{Pictured here: Sunset over Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, near the top of the world, taken by my husband}

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Running a Fever

There is just nothing like having a sick baby (and yes, I still refer to her as my baby).  My nine-year old is absolutely miserable with the flu and I just hate it. Other than keeping her pumped with fluids, meds and love, I feel pretty helpless.  My goal at this point is to keep her out of the hospital and on the path to healing so she will be able to ride that Powerwing scooter of hers again. [SIDE NOTE: Have you seen a Powerwing? It is the coolest, non-motorized scooter ever! You have to wiggle your hips side to side to provide momentum to make the scooter move.  It took Abbey about five minutes to master it; it took me about five minutes to get inches away from calling 911--I went one direction and the scooter went the other. (Let's just say, they should’ve named me “Grace”.).] Anywho. . .

Last night, after telling Abbey she had a 101-degree temperature, she asked me all about a fever: 'What is it exactly? Why do you get one? So it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing? So your body is fighting to get better? So it’s your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong?'

Patiently answering the questions of my flush-cheeked little girl, I realized how much the Holy Spirit operates like a fever for our souls.  It is our warning system; our dog in the fight; our gatekeeper.  It is how God made us.  

The key is to pay attention to when that Holy Spirit fever is working in us.  Getting in the Word can help. Getting still and quiet can help. Whatever. It. Takes. 

Failing to recognize the fever can cause a ton of pain and unnecessary weakness in our bodies and in our souls.  

Maybe that Holy Spirit fever is telling us to:

·         ~Forgive.

·         ~Be forgiven.

·         ~Reach out to the hurting.

·         ~Pray more.

·         ~Talk less.

·         ~Listen more.

·         ~Love the unlovable. 

   Are you running  a fever? 

And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”  Luke 11:10

Monday, January 14, 2013

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Math and More!

Welcome to the second week of the VCF! I hope you are enjoying learning more about some curriculum choices you may have never considered before.  This week's theme is Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science.

This week all the participants in the fair (see the bottom of my post for links to each blog) are discussing math and science-related subjects.  

Our primary source of math is BJU Press and we are currently working through Book 4.  When we first started homeschooling we used Miquon Math and Cuisenaire Rods.  I loved how these very affordable books forced the student and the teacher to think outside the box, even at the Kindergarten level.  We used all six books and before moving into BJU in 2nd grade. 

BJU is more straight-forward math worksheets that use a lot of review but also introduce new concepts fairly quickly.   

Let me interject here—I realized at the end of Abbey's 3rd grade year that she was terribly lacking in her ability to recall math facts, so before we even opened a workbook this year, we studied math facts. Every day. For six weeks!

We used a wonderful program called Times Tales. While Times Tales only deals with the upper times tables, that is usually what most students struggle to master.  Times Tales uses stories and characters to help students remember their facts.  They don’t make sense at first glance, but once the child memorizes the stories, they have memorized their facts.  It really and truly has helped Abbey, but we are still reviewing them each day.  Until she can answer them quickly, we will continue to work on them.  Knowing the basic math facts will make ALL other maths to come a piece of cake, or at least not a complete struggle to learn. 

Back to BJU workbooks—straightforward and clean.  A good mix of new problems, story problems and review problems.  I like them enough to keep using them and to recommend them to any of you, but I don’t like them so much that I won’t switch if I find something better.  I am anxious to read what other moms are using.  

Critical Thinking—This is one of the subjects we cover each day, but not always formally.  I highly recommend any of the Tin Man Press series of worksheets.  These worksheets are written for Learning Enrichment classes across the nation and really allow the child to think in different ways, and focus on following directions (whose child doesn’t need help with that!).  We sometimes use our Critical Thinking time to play a game of Chess or Uno as well. 

There you have it! My choices for math and critical thinking.  Head on over to some of the other great blogs to see what works (and doesn’t ) for others!  I bet you’ll learn a lot! 

Delight Directed Middle School Science?  by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Hardest Part of Math by Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy

A Tour Through Our Math and Science Life by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

What Works for Us…Math by Piwi Mum @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way

Math Art – Geometry by Julie @ Highhill Education

It's Math-magical by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Fun and Games with Math by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Discovering Patterns by Lisa @ The Golden Grasses

Math for the Natural by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Virtual Curriculum Fair~ Discovering Patterns by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Too Many Math Programs or Not by Linda B @ Homeschooling6

The post where I admit I was wrong by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

High School Math - Beyond the Textbook by TechWife @ A Playground of Words

Discovering a World of Logic and Order by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair- Discovering Patterns: Mathematics,
Logic, and Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road

The Plans of Mice and Math (My Math in Focus review) by Chelli @ The
Planted Trees

Rightstart Math is right for us! by Leann  @ Montessori Tidbits

Our Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculums by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings


Scripture and a Snapshot-1/14/2013

 So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air.  Genesis 2:18 [And I am so glad He did! Pictured here: our sweet doxie Barbara.]

Joining my friend Jennifer over at:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Language Arts

If you've read any of my homeschooling posts, you know I am homeschooling only one child, a precocious little 4th grader. In a series with other homeschool bloggers called the 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair, we are going to talk about different academic categories--what works and what doesn't--Language Arts, Math/Science, Social Studies, and Arts/Electives.

First up: Language Arts

My child does not beg me to do English or Language or Reading, but once we get started, she really does shine. 

Here are our choices for her 4th grade year:  

  • Wordly Wise 3000-Book 4
  • BJU Press English 4
  • Vocabulary Spelling City 
  • Writing--No formal book, although she was taught Handwriting Without Tears.  We practice cursive writing with assignments across all subjects now. 
  • Reading: Again, nothing formal here.  See below for more. 
  • Foreign Language:  Spanish for You!

Reading: I use a huge variety here.  I have reading textbooks I have found at thrift stores, you know, the kind of textbooks that many of us grew up with in public schools.  These work wonderfully because they have discussion questions and author biographies at the end of each reading. But we also use chapter books from the library, based on her interests, and sometimes I allow her reading of her science textbook (Apologia) to count as her reading since it is a bit challenging for her.  But mostly I try to find fun, age-appropriate books for her to read so that she will develop a love for books.  I choose a lot of Newberry Medal winners and a lot of classic literature.  I feel a huge obligation to expose my child to the classics, before they are lost forever in a generation.  We have come a long, long way in her reading since we began homeschooling in Kindergarten.  It is not near the struggle it used to be, and I praise God for that.  If you've ever had a struggling reader, you know the pain it can cause the teacher. 

Wordly Wise 3000 is a series of vocabulary books, which I think are excellently done. They offer around 20 new vocabulary words each lesson.  The words are then followed by five activities, such as definition, word association practice (like those found on SATs), and a reading passage using the new words.  It is very challenging, and Abbey usually can't do a whole lesson without help, but she is learning so many new words.  How do I know? Because if she hears any of her new words anywhere else that week (on TV, radio, in life) her eyes light up and she excitedly reminds me that it is one of her new vocabulary words.  Even weeks later, she will be doing the same thing. So the WW formula works! We also have the test booklet, which offers 25-question, multiple-choice answer, tests.  She takes these tests on Fridays.  Their website also offers more activities for practice each week, but I have found the workbook to be plenty for her.  I highly recommend these books. 

Bob Jones University Press English 4 is a Christian-based series of textbooks.  My favorite part about these books is how they are laid out.  One chapter is about grammar and language arts, and the next chapter is about writing.  So after the student learns new grammar rules, they are expected to apply the rules through a series of writing assignments.  Abbey just completed a comparison/contrast essay.  She researched tigers and lions (I let her choose the subjects) and their similarities and differences.  Then we made a Venn diagram as recommended by the text, and developed the rough draft from there.  I allow Abbey to type her essays on the computer, because it cuts down on a lot of frustration over not being able to write fast enough.  Every mom is different, and for us, it works. I allow her to get writing practice on shorter assignments such as letter writing and such.  Essays are just too overwhelming for her. Check out all the great curriculum choices from BJU Press here.

Vocabulary Spelling City--this is a comprehensive website that is only getting better with time.  We originally started using their free version two years ago, and then were blessed to be able the review the site, and got a premium membership.   You can use predetermined lists based on the student's reading level or grade level, or you can create your OWN lists each week.  A ton of fun, fun activities are included for each word list so the student can learn the new lists in creative ways.  A spelling test is provided at the end as well, but not until they are ready.  My  goal in using this is less about vocabulary (since we are using Wordly Wise) and more about learning to be  a better speller.  So we focus on the activities that force her to spell the words correctly before moving on.  We also take practice tests on paper, away from the computer, prior to her taking the online test.  I encourage you to explore this site.  It goes way beyond spelling and vocabulary and they are constantly improving.  I wrote an in-depth review of this program here.

Foreign Language:  Last year, we studied Latin, so the transition from Latin to Spanish was very smooth.  The two languages are so closely related.  I chose a great curriculum, written by a homeschool teacherThe curriculum is Spanish for You! It is a very relaxed curriculum, with lots of play and fun activities involved.  Their website has dramatically improved over the last six months as well, and includes a ton of FREE activities that you can use with any Spanish language program of your choice. One of the best features of this curriculum is that your purchase includes downloadable MP3s of the vocabulary words being spoken and pronounced correctly, so you don't have to guess as you teach your child.  It's a wonderful program and Abbey begs me to do Spanish, even on days when it's not on the schedule. I wrote an in-depth review on this program here.

There you have it-- a glimpse in the Language Arts side of our homeschool day.  Feel free to ask questions about any of the products you see above.  Until next week, when the 2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair bloggers will visit Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic and Science. Click the different links below the button to see what other homeschooling families are using for Language Arts: 

Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Building Blocks of Education--Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter's Hand Academy
Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun 
Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road
Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me
Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch
Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness
Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time
A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words
Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots
Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Loving Language Arts by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair - The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life
Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum
What Language Arts looks like in our house - Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Scripture and a Snapshot--1/6/13

"Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds"  Matthew 6:24 ~[Robins playing in a puddle in the driveway after the rain.]~

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Day- January 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, 2012 was the Year of Blessings, no doubt, so I am very excited to see what the Lord has in store for us on our Great Adventure in the new year.  I don't really make resolutions, but certainly, there are some things I want to accomplish:
1)  Like so many of my friends, I am focusing on being thankful, so we created our own Joy Jar—We will write down at least one thing per DAY that happened that we considered a blessing.  On December 31, 2013, Lord willing, we will pull out all 365 (or more) slips of paper and read them to remind us of God’s hand over us.

2)      Simplify my life.  I want to say “no” to the world more often and “yes” to God more often.

3)      Kiss my husband more often. God has worked miracle after miracle of both small and large healing in our marriage, and we are both so fully aware of this. It is fun to honor him and watch how God blesses us for it.

4)      Read a bedtime story every night to Abbey—we were doing this like clockwork and then I allowed work and television to take over that time.  Our children are only little once, so I am going to walk away from the distractions and focus on that wonderful cuddle time with my youngest.

5)      Play with my grandson more often!

6)      Pray more and worry less.  (Stop laughing. I really am going to try to worry less.)

7)      Drink more water.

8)      Write more. Talk less. Listen, listen, listen. 

   ~I know not what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds   tomorrow!  Happy New Year!~




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