Sunday, November 29, 2009

Verse of the week - Matthew 28:19, 20

Ever since a child I have had a heart for missions. In Brownies when we talked about careers, I drew an airplane because I really wanted to be a missionary pilot. It carried me through college, with a major in International Ministries. God brought my husband and myself overseas for a year, and then he turned our hearts to those needing the gospel right around us, and He has since planted us where I never thought I would be -- within 40 miles of my birthplace.

My location has not changed much, and neither has my passion. We rarely go a day without some discussion about missions or a missionary we know. My kids don't have the hunger to go that I had, but they love to see His Word going out, and share a part of it. They raise money for mission projects, pray fervently for overseas pastors and missionaries, look for items to donate to local ministries, and get excited about ways to be a part of the Great Commission, a great command with a great promise.

Matther 28:19,20 says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Familiar words. Sometimes too familiar. Sharing our faith is not an option. It is part of the Christian walk. My first place of ministry is in my home, as I teach my kids, and disciple them in the faith. All that Christ has taught me, I pass along to them in bits and pieces.

Outside the home, I must also share my faith. I try, but don't rest in His strength in this area often enough. The sporadic conversations that make passing reference to prayer or God's help are not quite what He had in mind. The gospel message needs to pass through my lips on a more regular basis.

I also remember being challenged to share with our peers. It is easy for me to share my faith with kids. My kids, kids at church, kids at AWANA, kids at the park. But adults are harder for me. Pride, fear of failure, wanting to sound knowledgeable, not a crutch-reliant religious wimp. I talk easily about how I love homeschooling, why does my God's incredible love for me not slip in so comfortably?

Lord, please give me opportunity to share the gospel and the vision and courage not to let it slip past. Help me to continue to live it out before my kids, that they might grow with a hunger to share Your Word with the world as well. ~Amen

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit,
20teaching them to observe all
that I commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

~Matther 28:19,20~

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Passing on a love for missions

Children have such big hearts. Their compassion wells up quickly and when stirred, they can hold so lightly to the things of this world. I have a lot to relearn from them, but I also have a lot to teach them.

If I had to summarize "missions" I would probably stray a bit from Wikipedia's definition, "that which is designed to form a viable indigenous church-planting and world changing movement." I look at missions in a broader sense and on a more personal level. Missions requires the willingness to step out of our comfort zone, surrender all to the advancement of the gospel, and engage both individuals and the culture at large by drawing them to a closer, personal relationship with the Triune God.

Missions doesn't just take place overseas. It doesn't have to wait for a certain age or financial circumstance. Missions should have a place in each Christian's life.

With a background in missions, I have an especially tender spot for teaching my children about the topic, both past and present, domestic and international. Here are a few of the things we have done in our home to instill an interest in missions:

Songs -- both contemporary and hymns. Many songs have stirring mission's messages. Not just to stir an emotional response, but to spark conversation, prompt prayers, and bring some self examination. Some of my favorites: Please Don't Send Me to Africa (Just a fun song, but has some serious challenges to our "comfortable" thinking as well); What if I Gave All; Rescuing the Perishing

Missionary/Christian Biographies -- Each day at the close of our Bible time we read at least a few pages from a biography. These have grown my own faith and brought about many sincere discussions from my kids. We have read about George Muller, Amy Carmichael, Nate Saint, various martyrs, Missionary Stories with the Millers, and many others. Next on our list is Through Gates of Splendor.

Get involved financially -- You may have heard the "pray, give, and go" teaching of missions involvement, and kids can easily find ways to participate in the first two. I try to be careful, because I don't want them begging others for money, and I don't want to pay them without reason just so they have some to give. They collect change off sidewalks, tithe any money they do receive, and often get creative in ways of making money. They also more generously look through their belongings when they realize someone less fortunate could really benefit from their parting with an item.

- Their motivation swells when they have a focus of their giving. Child sponsorships, specific missionary needs, local pregnancy centers, ministry projects (like Sonlight's one verse project), etc. With the economy as it is, many missionaries are in a difficult place right now, and struggling through it thousands of miles away from their support network. If you need more ideas for places to give feel free to contact me.

Find local service projects -- we have participated in Feed My Starving Children, perfect for any child aged five and up. This time of year child assistance groups need help buying, wrapping, and distributing presents (Angel Tree is just one of many nation wide programs with this type of ministry).

This Was Your Life
Carry tracts around -- many websites offer free tracts if you want to give this a try before you put money into it. I like to keep a few in my purse for those "chance" meetings. Even if I don't pull them out as often as I would like, just having them there is a reminder to me what my conversation should be about.

Take the $5 challenge -- Pastors and churches have occasionally done something like this. Give each family member $5 and challenge them to advance the cause of the gospel with it. They cannot just give it away though. They can use it to buy something for a ministry use or ingredients or supplies for some type of project to share the Good News. Even just bake some cookies and bring them to some neighbors with a meaningful Christmas card would work well this time of year. It is amazing what kids can come up with given this type of challenge.

Do a unit study on missions -- if you want a formal teaching time on missions, Christmas seems to me the perfect time for that. The FREE download, Teaching Kids to Have a Heart for the World, includes multiple volumes with 500 pages of information you could use in your homeschool.

PRAY -- the easiest and perhaps the most significant act any individual can participate in for the cause of missions. Don't know where to start? Many mission organizations have prayer tips for missions and missionaries. For some practical help check out Operation Mobilization, Wycliffe , or any other mission's website for concrete ways to pray as well as missionaries and projects around the world if you are not familiar with any personally. Pray for local ministries, international ministries, and for your own family's missions involvement.

Make a journal or notebook -- These can provide visual prayer tools as well as learning records. My kids have prayer cards that our church gave us for all their church plants around the world. They look almost like baseball cards with a picture on the front and stats about the church and pastor on the back. I would love to make more of these with our various missionaries, child sponsorships, and even family members that we want to pray for. Anything that brings this larger than life topic down to child size will do wonderfully.

Instilling an eternal perspective in our children's outlook will carry into adulthood and will accomplish more of lasting value even than much of the academics that we must teach.

Can we really afford not to spend time teaching about missions?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Verse of the week - Psalm 118:1

Psalm 118:1 says, "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting."

During various seasons in life we have abundantly obvious reasons to give thanks, and other times we feel void of thankfulness.

Yet, our thankfulness should not change based on our external circumstances. Our thankfulness springs from the goodness of God. And, his goodness and love toward us are everlasting.

When my gratitude flickers it more likely comes from a personal emotion or harbored sin, not because God has changed in His expression of love for us.

This week, I seek to give thanks, because God is good -- all the time.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting

~Psalm 118:1~

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I will be taking a little break this week as we catch up on some school work for the first few days and then cram in some extra time with family during the later part of the week. Praying that your heart will overflow with thankfulness this week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

TOS Crew review -- Gymathtics


Math drills can get dry and physical activity can always play a greater part in our school day. Put the two together, and you get GyMathtics, the "Fun, educational workout."


Product: Gymathtics DVD by Exploramania
Details: 30 minute exercise DVD that also teaches and reviews math facts and patterns during the workout.
Price: $24.99

What we loved . . .
  • Getting active! Sometimes the school day gets a little sedentary. This video provides a simple way to bring more movement into the day while still assisting another subject - math.
  • Kids and adults show you how it's done. Rather than just an adult leading, the DVD also includes two kids that participate in the activities.
  • Helps in learning some patterns and skip counting. I could see using this concept to help my kids with skip counting or other pattern type learning they are working to master. We can easily do jumping jacks while counting or hop on one foot while we count or some other physical activity. My boys don't need the encouragement, but this would be a simple way to encourage my girls to be more active.

Some challenges we faced . . .
  • The people in the video seem a little inauthentic and put on.
  • The music did not inspire my kids to participate. My four and five year old loved it, but the skip counting went too quick for them to keep up with. My 8 year old was on the fence, and my 10 and 12 year olds did not enjoy watching or participating with it.
  • While I love the idea behind this video, I feel that it attempted to combine two activities and didn't do a very good job of either one. The target age range for math skills is 2-5 grade, but it seemed more like 1-3 grade to me, maybe even kindergarten. However, at the same time, the counting went too quickly for kids that young to stay with them. And, the video was not enjoyed by most of my kids that were in the target age range.
  • The cool down didn't take advantage of that time for more math, but talked about big dreams, healthy living, and being nice. Maybe okay things, but they seemed out of place to me, and I always feel that talking about being "nice" without integrating Scripture is kind of fruitless. That's my personal opinion, though, so take it or leave it.

Overall, I could see a benefit to these DVDs, but I think I appreciate the concept behind them more than the actual product. We will definitely work to incorporate more activity in our school work as the day too easily slips away without it. If your kids like getting active with their videos this may be a great addition to your collection. My kids tend to prefer to sit on the couch and critique them, or encourage their younger siblings to participate.

They did put together a well structured program with a warm up, work out and cool down which could make PE planning very easy, especially during the winter months.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This DVD was provided to me free of charge from Exploramania as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

WFMW -- multiplying by nine

Keeping learning fun and active are always a part of the game, especially with the younger set. We have a few "hand games" that help us with memory work at various times.

We have a simple trick in our house for learning and remembering your "9 X ___"

Many of you may already know this, but if you don't this is a life saver. My kids easily master their times tables up to five, and then yawn through the tens, but six through nine present a bigger challenge.

Here is how we make the nines as easy as pie, too:

Place both hands on the table in front of you. Placing them, rather than holding them up keeps kids from flipping them around and making this more difficult later on.

Whatever number you need to multiply by nine, put that finger down. For example, if you are multiplying by seven put down the seventh finger from the left:

Then, you start on the left counting the fingers that are up by tens, and when you get to the finger you tucked under you switch to counting by ones. I compare this to counting by dimes and pennies if my kids get mixed up. So, 9 times 7 is 63.

When first learning this method it helped to skip count by nines while switching which finger we tuck under. I didn't do this step with my first couple and it took them longer to catch on to the concept. With my third child I started with skip counting along with the fingers and the transition to the nine times tables with her was more seamless, and she is almost done relying on them altogether.

Another handy memory tool that relies on our hands is how many days there are in each month of the year. Using one fist and the pointer of the other hand you say the months of the year while touching the knuckle, then the valley between. So, January (31) gets the first knuckle, February the valley (28-29), March (31) back on a knuckle, April (30) into the valley, and so on.

It works out perfectly that you get to the last knuckle on "July" which sends you back to the first knuckle for "August," both of which have 31 days.

Before learning this trick (sometime in high school . . .) I used to go by the rhyme, "30 days hath September, all the rest I can't remember." Which obviously did me very little good.

Have any other great memory tools using fingers or other tricks that you would like to share?

Looking for more inspiration to make your life easier in a variety of realms? Check out Works for Me Wednesday for lots of great sanity-saving tips.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Verse of the week - II Peter 1:3-4

After a sweet heart-to-heart with God last week, and once again relinquishing control to His power and my wobbly faith (okay, mostly His power), God brings me great reassurance in II Peter 1:3,4, "3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

By His power, we have everything we need to live, not just ordinary, squeak-by-the-pearly-gates livin'. REALLY living. Godly living. Through Him, of course, not ourselves. Through His power, which we have access to. Through His knowledge, not our finite perspectives.

Too often I sell this life short, but these verses hold great hope, and not just for the life to come. We have the great and precious promises of God.

Here are some that I cling to:
- Greater is He that is in you
- Call unto Me and I will answer thee
- There is no other God like our God
- Wait on the Lord and we will renew our strength

No reason for me to walk this life alone, timidly. I walk in His power, in His confidence, in His promises.

3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

~II Peter 1:3-4~

Friday, November 13, 2009

weekly wrap up - November 13

Yeah for normal weeks! It seems we get so few of those, and even this week may not qualify, but for the most part, we had a productive week of mostly full school days and no schedule stopping disruptions.

Our highlight of the week, aside from enjoying our normal days, was a trip to a local farm. It is time to harvest corn here in Illinois, and the farmers are hard at work everywhere.

Our trip included:
  • A discussion of products that include corn (everything from paper plates to salad dressing to pop to corn starch to aspirin)
  • A demonstration of the various processes of harvesting the corn from the combine harvester to the storage of the product
  • A ride in the combine while it harvested corn (my kids loved that, nothing like front row seats to where our food comes from)
  • Donuts and cider from our gracious organizer

It was so great to get such a first hand look at how it works and understand how much we rely on corn. The combine was incredible to watch (and ride in!) as it took whole stalks of corn and shredded them, picked the dried ears, and stripped off and saved just the kernels while spewing out all the other plant debris.

It was an amazing day. And, we so appreciated the farmer's disrupting their busy schedule to give us a glimpse of what they do.

Some other items that we learned:
  • The corn that is harvested now will partly be used for feed, but it also is used in food for humans. Obviously fresh corn is picked in the summer, but this corn will be used for corn starch, corn meal, corn syrup and many other corn byproducts.
  • Farmers spend a lot of money! A bag of corn seed costs $200 to seed just 2 1/2 acres! This farm had 1000 acres, so that right there is a lot of money. They also spend 2 cents for each gallon of water they extract from the corn before storage which amounts to 7000 gallons a day during harvest (20-30 days). I left wondering how they make any money. That doesn't even touch labor, machinery (the combines run over $300,000 easily), gas, etc. That would be a good math project for the day. We also discussed at home the need for them to budget since they have large expenses.
  • The moisture content of the corn must be below a certain level for harvest.
  • Usually they expect to be done with the harvest by Thanksgiving, but this year due to the rainy October we had, many will be glad if they get it all in by Christmas. Praying for dry days!
A great trip (Thanks, Laura!) I love these field trips that are not at your "typical" field trip location, but rather dropping right into real life somewhere outside of where you normally observe.

Friday evening we dropped the kids off at my in-laws and went to a homeschool support group leaders dinner. I did not know what to expect, but came away greatly encouraged and challenged. The evening provided some fun fellowship with other homeschooling friends, both new and old.

Kevin Swanson brought the challenge for us to keep a clear multi-generational vision for the sake of our children and others' children. Christianity is dwindling in America and we need to disciple our children with intentionality. This is something my husband and I feel very strongly about as well, but I don't think you can hear it often enough and feel pressed again of the need for fervency in this area.

Saturday finally wrapped up our soccer season and we gratefully enjoyed the "warm" weather for these final games. We look forward to having our Saturdays a little more open, at least now and then. :-)

How was your week? I would love to hear, or link up and check out other people's weeks at the Weekly Wrap Up

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- AVKO Membership

AVKO is an organization committed to leveling the playing field. They are a "non-profit, 501(C)3 membership organization that focuses on the development and production of materials and especially techniques to teach reading and spelling, handwriting (manuscript and cursive) and keyboarding."

Reading lies at the foundation of independent learning. When reading suffers, academic progress becomes a greater challenge. AVKO recognizes this correlation and seeks to eliminate any stumbling block a student might encounter to enable them to read, spell, and write to the best of their ability.

Their website offers help and resources for those of all levels struggling in the areas of reading and writing.

Product: AVKO Educational Research Foundation membership
Details: The membership opens up a wide variety of resources on the AVKO website. E-books free for the viewing, informative articles, reading comprehension selections, and instructional videos. See their membership information page for all the details on the benefits of membership.
Price: $25.00 per year (includes 25% discount on all ordered materials as well)

What we liked . . .

Challenges we encountered . . .

  • I would add a word of caution to those viewing some of their dictation exercises and more "light-hearted" selections (puns, quotes, humor, etc.) Some of these are not suitable for all ages. You might get a little chuckle over them, but I would not use jokes or puns referencing drinking when working with my elementary aged children, or in most academic settings regardless of age.
  • Some of the material was not completely beneficial for us since we do not use Sequential Spelling, although it looks like a fantastic program from the samples and information online.

While I would most likely not purchase the AVKO membership, it might be of greater value to those families that need some more help, support, information, and resources for their special needs learners. It is definitely a good value for all that you receive, it simply does not meet a need in our household.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This membership was provided to me free of charge from AVKO Educational Research Foundation as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Well I have to say that I was a bit surprised today, and pleasantly so.

While perusing a list of blogs nominated for the homeschool blog awards, I came across little ol' me!

To those of you that nominated me, thank you very much. It really encouraged me.

I know I'm up against 29 other fantastic blogs in the Cyber-buddy category, and just finding my name on the nomination list was appreciated. So, thank you, thank you.

But, now the voting begins. Everyone is eligible to vote now for their favorites in the 25 categories.

Voting will wrap up on November 21, and in the meantime take your time to find some new blogs and vote for your favorites. See the Homeschool Blog Awards for all the details.

Monday, November 9, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- American Heritage

Last year we took a family trip to Washington DC and I found myself once again stunned at the richness of the heritage of our nation. The intentional faith of our founding fathers, the careful crafting of a new nation, the vision of hope and freedom.

American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) seeks to capture, build on, and pass along these virtues. AHEF is a "non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation dedicated to the understanding and teaching of America's factual and philosophical heritage to promote constructive citizenship and Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility among our students and citizens." They accomplish this through, "writing, producing, and distributing FREE K-12 lesson plans to teachers, students, and families in all 50 states and through additional initiatives, programs, and partnerships."

Product: American Heritage Education Foundation's lesson plan CD (national edition)
Details: This CD offers lesson plans for Kindergarten through high school. The lesson plans come complete with background information, goals, activities, estimated time, and other helpful resources.
Price: FREE! (You can order the complementing binder and materials for $19.50 per level)

What we loved . . .

  • The richness of our history undiminished.
  • Taking a vast topic and boiling it down to memorable themes -- freedom, unity, responsibility, and progress.
  • Builds national pride. I feel this is important. Not that I am proud of where America is today, but recognizing what we could be, and what we have lost, renews my hope and my desire to pray for our nation as a whole, the individuals that compose it, and its leaders.
  • Focus on original documents.
  • Largely self contained. Lots of information and direction is contained right in the CD itself.
  • Not too time consuming, so that can fit in with whatever else you might already be doing. About an hour every other week will carry you from September to May.

Challenges we faced . . .

  • It is easy to get overwhelmed at first with the amount of information contained in the CD.
  • Working with wide range of ages is sometimes difficult, and we faced that a bit as well here. The younger kids may not have grasped as much, and the oldest one may have been a bit under challenged, but I think the principles taught were still beneficial to all.

Of course, there is no better price than free, and this CD has something for just about everyone. I would encourage you to take a look at the AHEF website, order yourself one of these free CDs (or download the material straight from their website if you prefer) and take some time to go through the material with your kids. They have some great quotes, inspirational writings, needed reminders and teaching tools, and lessons that will build character and patriotism.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This CD was provided to me free of charge from The American Heritage Education Foundation as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Verse of the week - Luke 12:28

It's as if God looked right at me today and said in all His fatherly tenderness, "Oh ye of little faith."

But, but, how can I handle all of this? I'm not this strong!

His gentle response, "I know, that's why I'm here."

Me, whining again, "This is too much. It's not humanly possible!"

Again, "I know, I already covered that. Just surrender. Stop trying on your own."

Faith the size of a mustard seed. I don't know if I even have that much some days.

I remember also Ephesians 2:8,9 -- By grace through faith. He can grow me, raise me from the dead, and build my faith.

He loves me, oh how He loves me. His power, His glory, eclipses my weakness and struggles.

More focus on Him, less on me. He cares for the lilies of the field beautifully, and loves me so much more. Surely I can rest in His working, sovereignty, and wisdom.

Thank you, Lord, for once again meeting me where I am, please increase my faith. Thank you for the many precious promises of Scripture that sustain me time and time again.

I love you, Lord!

If then God so clothe the grass,
which is to day in the field,
and to morrow is cast into the oven;
how much more will he clothe you,
O ye of little faith?

~Luke 12:28~

Friday, November 6, 2009

TOS Crew review -- Bright Ideas Press

A couple years ago I heard about a history text that caught my attention. It focused on not just the important events and people of history, but God's working through it all, and from a biblical perspective. I kept an eye out for it at used book sales (my main avenue for accumulating new curriculum), but it never reared its cover.

No wonder. I have no desire to let go of this book either, and will move Volumes I and II closer to the top of my "Buy for homeschool" list.

It brings us all together to study one history, from the kindergartener to the middle schooler. I love things we do all together, and the kids learn even more from each other, even their younger siblings.


: Mystery of History Vol. 3 student reader and companion guide
Details: This full color history text offers 84 lessons beginning in the Renaissance and ending in early American history.
Price: $59.95 for the text and $29.95 for the CD of the companion guide (various packages available on their site as well)

What we loved . . .
  • Scriptural basis. The book clearly looks at history and historical figures from a Christian viewpoint. The title tells it all, history is His story.
  • Adaptable for a variety of ages. Although a bit above me four year old, my five year old will listen along and grasp the basics of what we have read and discussed. Activities are varied for the different ages as well.
  • Related activity ideas. Some projects get a little involved, but lots of creativity and greater in depth study comes out of these extra tasks.
  • The book is very high quality. Beautiful pictures, sturdy cover and pages, well written, interesting to read, and just overall impressive just to look at.
  • Pretest quizzes to see what we already know (which was generally nothing . . . ) While these asked questions that were a bit specific (e.g. True/False: Columbus returned to the New World with 17 ships on his second voyage), it showed us how much we had to learn, and got us excited about the chapter ahead.

Challenges we faced . . .
  • Some of the daily readings ran a little long. I probably could have split them up into a couple days, but they are well written and engaging, so it was hard to just stop in the middle and pick up another time.
  • As great as the book is with its wonderful pictures, there were times they talked about a person or place and I thought, "Where's the picture?" Thanks to the internet, we could of course find our own, but I did feel there were some gaps in that regard in the printed material.

I have no hesitation in recommending this product to anyone looking for a Christian based history curriculum that can work for a variety of ages. I definitely plan on purchasing more Mystery of History books after our experience with this one. Whether used exclusively or to supplement other secular sources, this book deserves a place on your home book shelf.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This curriculum was provided to me free of charge from Bright Ideas Press as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Learning in the everyday

As a homeschool mom my thoughts often turn to how much my children have learned and have yet to learn and the list includes far more than basic academics.

With this post already mulling around in my head, a couple other blogs posts around this idea came through my Reader. Gale at Schooling with Integrity talked about learning and modeling maturity through some of life's more difficult lessons, and Luke at Sonlight blog talks about the simple lessons that arise in playing with blocks.

Each week we experience moments of unanticipated learning. One great environment for that this week came in a game of croquet.

A simple game, really, simple rules, simple set up. My kind of game. Friendly, few penalties, light competition, everyone can participate. You picture women in hoop skirts and glasses of lemonade and parasols. Well, at least I do. It looks a little different in Chicago in October . . .

Not my son's kind of game, but he loves all games to some degree, and we had lots of character lessons while playing. And, they played a second day, so I guess they all had fun in the process.

You have to choose at times to focus on progressing your own ball, or sending a fellow player's ball to kingdom come. Players should show grace when a mallet swipes the grass instead of their ball (especially if said mallet-holder is under 6 . . . ) Of course honesty comes into play -- is the ball completely through the wicket? Did you truly strike the post? And, lots of room for encouragement and helping one another with strategy as we learn together.

Squabbles, of course, here and there. Winners and losers. Perseverance even when behind. Smiles of encouragement. Squelched frustration, and repeated attempts. Yes, learning, lots of learning.

Back inside, popcorn and a video. More learning.

Torchlighters: The Jim Elliot Story-DVD

Due back at the library tomorrow, we had to take it in this afternoon . . . The Story of Jim Elliot. After the animated story ended, a few interviews took us deeper into the story, and brought it all the way to modern day.

Missions, a serious passion of mine, always captures my attention, and this video was no exception. Steve Saint, son of martyr Nate Saint, shared his current ministry with the Waodani people largely through the Indigenous People's Technology and Education Center (I-TEC).

A great reminder of the desperate need for the gospel around the world.

Sweetness . . . Faith reminding me that we need to keep saving money to translate a verse or more through Sonlight's project.

The learning never ends, and most of the valuable lessons have nothing to do with books.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- ABC Teach

Sometimes a child needs a little extra help in an area. Or, sometimes you need a fun activity to keep a few kids engaged while you work with an individual child. Or, maybe you just want something fresh that you haven't already been through a few times.

abcteach can help with any one of those needs. You can choose from their ginormous file base, or you can make something that is uniquely you with their worksheet generator.

Aside from ordinary worksheets they also have file folder type games, reading comprehension exercises, craft projects, simple lesson plans and ideas, flash cards, units, and seasonal activities.

Product: abc teach membership (You can see their description of the benefits of membership including a video on the abcteach site)
Details:This website offers 5,000 printables free even to non-members, but another 30,000 sheets that are available only to members.
Price: $40/year or $70 for two years. Group pricing available also.

What we loved . . .
  • Lots of choices. Every subject, topic, writing style, etc. seems represented. And, they encourage you to let them know if you could use something they don't already offer.
  • Always something new. This is not a "been there, done that" site. Every week you can find new material, and with the thousands they have available, it would take you quite a bit of time to work through it all.
  • A diversity of ages covered. We found something for everyone on this site. While those with preschool and early primary would probably find the most use for it, they have lots available for upper elementary and middle school as well.
  • Great search tool. If you can't easily find what you are looking for in the myriad categories available, you can search and come up with lots of hits most of the time.
  • Making my own handwriting sheets. We use Handwriting Without Tears in the early years, and I LOVE the member's only feature that enables you to print your own worksheets with whatever you want your child to practice, in the very format that they are learning in.

Challenges faced . . .

  • Finding uses for the site. We aren't a big worksheet family, preferring lots of oral and group work, so I did not find an overwhelming amount of materials that grabbed my attention.
  • Some of the graphics are not the highest quality (after all, they are worksheets). Part of the reason I prefer real books is because I prefer real pictures. Just a little idiosyncrasy of mine, I suppose. Drawn graphics just kind of turn me off to a product. They were good, just not real.

Despite the many things we loved and the very few challenges we encountered, this is not something I would continue to subscribe to because it doesn't fit easily within our homeschool.

However, if you constantly find yourself searching for extra activities or worksheets to teach or reteach a topic, abcteach probably has exactly what you are looking for. They have an excellent, easy to navigate site with unbelievable amounts of worksheets and activities.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This website membership was provided to me free of charge from abcteach as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.