Sunday, October 28, 2012

The 99

On a quiet night like tonight, I thought I'd watch key notes from the Allume conference.
One speaker, Sarah Mae, said something that made me stand still. Perhaps it will shake you to the core, too.
I had one friend who observes my blog say, "Wow, your life is so full, so fun."
And it is.
But at the same point, my life is slow.
Or at least, it has slowed down.
For the past two years,since my husband's accident/rehab/surgery/rehab/job training/etc I have been running at a frenetic pace. 
I once described my life to my sister as "a runaway shopping cart that I've almost got a grip on."
And then, just as suddenly, things changed. 
The shopping cart stopped. 
I stopped.
And I stood in the parking lot, so to speak.
I was still.

I caught up on my laundry. 
I taught my children chores and order so that we have our house clean in 40 minutes and can spend all day playing and learning.
I said 'no' to a million different things because I felt God leading me to put some good things away to make room for the best things.
I was still.

Two years of busy means that you don't do anything exceptionally well. It means you let things slide.
It means you tell the disappointed eyes of your child that "you are doing the very best you can" and know that even at your best, you completely miss the mark.
And it hurts.
And that kind of hurt leaves scars.

Now that I have time, I see the scars that two years of busy has left on my children's character and heart. I hear it, I see it and I cringe.
Words I never wanted to see my children speak tumble out of their mouth.
Attitudes I promised I would never let into our home have become commonplace.
Behaviour I said would never be present begs to be disciplined several times a day.
I have time now.
I am still.
And I see it all.

Listening to Sarah Mae today made me hear the story of a woman who let herself become consumed with busyness. At first, I thought, "I didn't let myself get busy. I HAD to be busy. Our family was in survival mode." 
But that is just an excuse.
The truth is that I let myself be busy. It's easier to blame busyness than to take ownership of how you feel or what you see happening around you. It's easy to blame than it is to bring correction and change to situations.

Sarah Mae talked about the busyness consuming her life and how she was praying for a chance for it to change and how God started to bring that about. She shared that someone was preaching on how "Jesus left the 99 sheep to save the one lost lamb."
God spoke to Sarah Mae's heart and said, "The one is your daughter. You need to leave ministering to the masses and go capture your daughter's heart."

This thought struck me hard.
My one is also my daughter. 
I have her obedience.
I have her loyalty.
But I know that I do not have her heart.

Most of my blogging has shown the various fun things of learning that I do with my children each day.
And there is plenty of that.
But right now, the majority of my time with my eldest daughter is spent working on developing and changing her character.
It's character that has been formed by two years of believing that I was too busy.

Today as I worked with her on some of our present difficulties, I felt God urge me to write about them here.
I ignored it.
I thought, "No way. I'm not into airing my laundry to everyone."
Then I wondered if I could  share things in a way that wouldn't compromise my daughter or embarrass her.
The Lord spoke softly and said, "Share the ideas I am giving you, not the incidents."
I've been hemming and hawing all day.
Until I heard Sarah Mae speak about the 99.

 I know something...
Because I have been guilty of being a BUSY homeschool mom, I know that their are homeschool moms out there who have been running and chasing things that have made themselves busy. 
Busy, busy, busy.
And somebody needs to remind them to STOP.
Stand still.
Leave the 99 for awhile. They'll be okay without you. It may be hard to leave them, but go.
Seek out the one heart in your home that needs you to be their safe place.
Jesus came back to the 99 with the one.
So will you. 
So will I.
But for now, with all your might, chase after the one.

Poem: Sarah Kay "If I had a daughter"

A beautiful poem performed by spoken word poet Sarah Kay

Friday, October 26, 2012

Learning the Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer may be committed to memory quickly, but it is slowly learnt by heart. -Frederick Denison Maurice

The Lord's prayer is something we've been spending a bit of time on lately.
We love using Kay Arthur's Teach Us to Pray for kids book
In the book, she has each line of the prayer broken into different segments.
I thought that a sensory box could help us learn the prayer and the focus of each line.  

Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
The theme for this line is Worship. We used an antique perfume bottle.
Your kingdom come

The theme for this line is Allegiance.
We have a sticker that says "Team Jesus" and that seemed to do the job. 

The theme for this line is submission.
This was a challenge. But in the end, we decided that we would use a beautiful and intricate button. The button is in the shape of the earth, and the design is splendid, just like heaven is described to be.

Petition and Intercession is the theme of Give us this day our daily bread.
The corn is representing trusting the Lord for our food and daily needs. 

Confession and Forgiveness sums up the line  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
We decided to use a green leaf to represent growth and that God makes all things new.  

The candle brings light in a dark place and can shine light on the path to walk on. We thought that would be the best item to represent the line And do not leads us into temptation but deliver us from evil.

We used another  antique perfume bottle for the closing line of worship in the Lord's Prayer, For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 

This has been a helpful tool to help my children meditate on the deeper meaning of the Lord's prayer.

What do you use to remember scripture?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 22 2012

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.  ~Logan Pearsall Smith

This morning after devotions I discovered that my camera batteries were dead.

Onwards and Upward.
So the day began with:
Animae drawing
Diego matching board game
Kreo building
Foil art
Piano playing
Beethhoven listening
Recorder playing
Much discussion about the history and lives of the different characters in these short stories
African stew eating
Counting by 5's and 10's with the game Boom-O!
Human Body puzzle and study

This book was a fantastic book to spur on learning.
This book has mammals from all around the world. We built our Geopuzzle of the World Continents
Then as we read the book, we looked for the continent and country the animal came from.
This book also include fun facts like how long the tongue is or nose. Out came the tape measure and we spent a great deal of the time giggling over the length of an anteater's tongue.
Exploding toads and other nature videos
Scratch art
Shooting star explanations
Spanish playaway book. I try it. I cannot talk like Jose.
Bible character 

This book inspired all sorts of learning today.
We grabbed a funnel shaped pop bottle and made a tornado
Attempted creating waterspouts
Then visited this site and made a tornado in a jar
Followed by making rain, and creating lightning.
The lightning experiment didn't work so well for us, but it was fun trying
Then some rousing discussion about the tales and wisdom of Aesop

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Egg Carton Reading Game

TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book.    -Author Unknown

This is my favourite reading game. I am teaching all of my kids to read with this game. So far, two out of three have learned to read using this method.
Thank you, Sidney Ledson!
(Sidney Ledson is the brilliant guy who wrote the book "Teach Your Child to Read in Ten Minutes a Day". Lame book title, totally not a lame book. Brilliant book! Brilliant book, indeed)

The reason I chose this game to be the main way I teach my children to read is because of the following belief:
Learning to Read curriculum is astronomically priced.
I mean, really. If this is the gateway to learning, why are we charging people $400 for coloured flashcards?

Anyway, so Sidney came to me free from the library and I read his book in two days and said to myself, "Sidney is one smart guy. I, too, will follow his example."

So here is the Sidney Ledson reading game on the cheap.

First, round up the usual suspects:
Egg carton cut in half lengthewise
word cards (word card list found here)
prizes (I use almonds or Lego pieces)

*Anyone noticing how this game is comprised of materials you have at home? No extra cost involved here. The only cost is time.*

Also, side note: Sidney starts children learning the phonetic sounds in a totally different order than alphabetical or vowel/consonant order. Read more about why I love this approach.

Place the prizes inside the egg carton, one per space

Next take your reading cards and place two of them side by side directly under the egg carton.
Starting from the left side, the child will phonetically sound out the first card, followed by the next card.
IMPORTANT: tell your child that we read from left to right.
When they get both cards sounded out correctly, they win the almond in the first space.

Now, this is where things get really tricky, so pay special attention to this next move.
Are you watching?
Are you?

Slide the card on the end, the "P", around the second card, the "U".Then place it on the left side of the U.
See how that works. It's tricky. Read the above line over 4 times if it doesn't make sense. Tricky stuff.

Now that the P card is in a new position, it's time to sound out the letters. Reading from left to right, have the child read each card phonetically. When they have read both cards correctly, they win an almond.
See the pattern? Read the words, win an almond.

(Personal note: make sure they know that they eat the almonds at the end. Otherwise, you will have to wait for the child to eat the almond before moving forward. 
Fun fact: A child can take five minutes to eat one almond. True story.)

Next, you move the U card, next to the P card. As you can see you are advancing down the board, almonds are being won and reading is occurring.
Why is this method great? Because by the time you get to the end of this six-spaces carton, your child will have made the "Uh" and "Puh" sounds a total of 12 times! 

End of Day One. Ten minutes has never been so fun!

Day Two:
Why look at that, by Day two they are already reading two words: Up and Pup.
Go, smart almond eating child!

Now, I know what you are thinking. This game won't work with my child. They will get bored.
Not so. 
They will only get bored if you forget to bring the two other essential team members to your 10 minute reading session.

Every successful reading child needs their parents to bring out their mad puppet skillz!
I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Know It All

Miss Too Shy

These two superheroes are your whole key to success.
And here's why:
Your child loves to help people...or in this case, stuffed animals.
The next time s/he is feigning interest or stumbles across a word that is too difficult, bring out Miss Too Shy.
Have her say something like this:

Miss Too Shy has no confidence. She is not able to get her sounds out or she doubts herself when she shares.
(I also make it Mr. Too Shy sometimes-- mix it up from time to time)
Your child is happy to help and encourage.
Have the puppet ask, "Do you think you can help me?" 
Your child is eager to help.

When I read this part in Mr. Ledson's book, I thought, "Well, this sounds ridiculous. No kid is gonna fall for me live acting in front of them with a puppet."
But I was wrong.
My kids are completely engaged with the puppet.
 Every. Single. Time.
Find a voice for Miss Too Shy and have some fun.

Equally important is Mr. Know It All.
This character is my favourite...because you can give Mr. Know It All some pretty fun lines.
The basic premise is he is rude, interrupts and has a lot to say.
This guy shows up and says: 
"I know this word...I know it. You guys are doing it all wrong."
And then he tries the word and says something really ridiculous.
Your kid's giggle and they say,"Noooooo. That's not how you say it."
And they help Mr. Know it all get it right.

These two puppets help your child sound out all the words and win the almonds!
Yay for Mr. Ledson and the cheap Egg Carton Reading Game.

The End 

Any questions about how this works? Need more clarification? Ask your questions in the comment section.

Word List for the Egg Carton Reading Game

Here is the word list for the Egg Carton Reading Game.

I love this method of learning because children  immediately learn words and they start to build confidence.

Using business card sized paper, I made the cards to fit two or three words a card. You can do one word per card, but I didn't want to cut so many cards. Having two or three words per card have worked fine for us.
When introducing a new letter and it's phonetic sound, I created a card that had only that letter on it.
I wrote all of the words in capital letters and made sure they were straight with no flourish or serif added to the font.

Day 1: U  "Uh" sound
Day 2: P   "Puh" sound
Day 3,4,5: UP and PUP

Day 6: C  "Cuh" sound
Day 7: CUP   
Day 8: A     "Ahhh" sound
Day 9: CAP
Day 10 review
Day 11: T
Day 12, 13: AT, PAT, CAT, TAP, CUT
Day 14: thE  *when teaching thE, thAT, and thIS, "th" is given one sound and the 'e', 'at' and 'is' is sounded out as usual
Day 15: H
Day 16: HAT
Day 17:O
Day 21: G
Day 23: B
Day 25: thAT, I
Day 27: R
Day 30: Review
Day 31:N
Day 34: S
Day 37: thIS (th is in lower case to emphasize the "th" blend)
Day 38: D
Day 41 E

That's it. The remaining 8 letters and a section entitled The First 200 Sentences can be found in Sidney Ledson's book Teach Your Child to Read in Ten Minutes A Day.
I have found that by the time my child has learned to read all of these words, reading words with long vowel sounds aren't a big leap.
I have substituted Mr. Ledson's first 200 sentences with the reading stories found on

Mr. Ledson advocates early reading for children as young as two. That has never been my goal. I am quite content to follow the lead of my child's interest and when they are ready to read, we start playing these games.

Find the complete game here.

Here fishy, fishy

The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow. Jim Hightower 

We read the Rainbow Fish. I asked if anyone wanted to make a rainbow fish and two of my three said, "Yes!"
I love ASKING QUESTIONS. It leads to all sorts of creativity. I asked my children, "What should we use to make the shiny scales on the fish?"  Originally, I was going to put out aluminum foil and say, "Look what we can use for the scales!" Instead, I wanted to see what they came up with.
And, of  course, pure brilliance: Corn flakes!
My daughter decided that they looked like scales. And I agree!

I love asking my kids, "Can you think of anything to do with this...or should I just recycle it?"
There was an immediate need for this box which was promptly turned into a space helmet and then they were off to explore other galaxies

These fish were wrapping paper cut outs. I had my son group them into schools. Later we cut them out, attached paper clips and went fishing for them with a magnet.

We had a discussion about volcanoes, anger and self-regulation...more on that in the future.

The ever-popular fishing game

Still life drawing- step 1

Step 2

A few rounds of Mancala

Scrape art-more fish love

Dinosaur drawings

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday October 16 2012

My Lord loves me and Oh a wonder I see
A rainbow shines through my window, My Lord loves me

The morning started with this glorious sight
And then there was much singing of this song:

I cry every time I sing this song. I still hear my Dad singing this to me when I sing it.

It's World Dictionary Day! Show the Dictionary some love!

Games of Apples to Apples amidst reading, chores, math and copywork

We're listening to the Judy Blume audiobook called "Double Fudge". The book's main character is obsessed with money. So we make our own money and play several games

And then spend a gazillion hours playing Monopoly

H is for Hippo

Hip hip hip hippopotamus

Hip hip hooray, God made all of us
Hip hip hip hippopotamus
Hip hip hooray, He made us
-Mary Rice Hopkins

My son and I had a lot of fun making a home for his hippo. We used the netting from an onion bag and then dipped it in different paints to create textured water.

Then he glued his hippos down and added seaweed and fish

Hippo books that we read:
Hot Hippo
How Hippo
The Happy Hippopotami
How to be a Happy Hippo
Five Hippopotamuses

We decorated the letter H

And then we fed the Hungry Hippos

Monday, October 15, 2012

exploring space

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space. 
Douglas Adams 

We had a bag of Oreos begging to be eaten, so we called our homeschooling neighbours over and decided to eat the phases of the moon

And we thought, "Why not make an edible comet?"
So we did. 
Here's the nucleus: frozen juice and fruit cocktail

Then you freeze it

While it freezes you make craters on the moon, using flour and oranges or marbles

Then punch out the constellations

And make a constellation box to study the stars with

The comets still weren't frozen, so we read chapters of The Wonderclock and played with geoboards, legos and art stuff

Applying glo-in-the dark glue to our planet mobile.
Our friends leave and take their half-frozen comets with them

Working on our outer space puzzle

Finally frozen, we roll our nucleus in sugar to represent the coma part of the comet

A long fruit roll up makes for a good-tasting comet tail