Sabbath Scripture...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

I'm trying something new... for every Sabbath, I would love to humbly share the Lord's truth with you.  Whatever scripture has really spoken to me or been on my mind, I'll hope to share here. I won't add commentary or my own thoughts - no... just God's powerful and mighty Word.  

And I will continue to pray it touches your soul as much as it touches mine...




1 Corinthians 13


If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, 
but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, 
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, 
but do not have love, I am nothing.  

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, 
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  
It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. 

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; 
where there are tongues, they will be stilled; 
where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  
but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears.  
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, 
I reasoned like a child. 
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; 
then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.







A Review of SchoolhouseTeachers.com

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This past week I had the pleasure of reviewing  SchoolhouseTeachers.com.   This is a very comprehensive educational Christian homeschooling site offering a  Yearly Membership to homeschoolers and teachers looking to find online resources, classes, and supplementary material for their children and/or students.


As a homeschooler who likes to be a little more 'unplugged', I've struggled to embrace many online resources over the years. I'm a book lover and there's just something about getting that curriculum in the mail in book form.  Having said that, I've started to really appreciate the ease, convenience, and money savings that come along with online curriculum, ebooks, and web resources.  In fact, I've started ordering more ebooks to save on shipping and avoid wait times.  What's funny is I immediately print them out and make my own little book.  What can I say?  I *really* love books.

The SchoolhouseTeachers.com site offers online classes as well as downloadable, printable courses and resources, which I've been using.  Lots of downloading and printing going on over here!  There is something for every age and interest from preschool to highschool.    Some subjects offer an entire year's worth of study, such as, French, Geography, Nature Study, Music Theory and Writing.  Some offer a semester's worth, like, American and Classical History, Hebrew and Science.

What I am really enjoying is the "Dailies" section which is extensive, offering daily activities and lessons on a huge number of subjects, such as Spelling (which I review below), Math, Copywork, History, and Art and Picture Study - Everyday Easels (which I also review below!) to only name a few.

Here's a look at just a couple of the resources/courses we've been enjoying from Schoolhouse Teachers.


SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review



SchoolHouse Spelling

Spelling is an area I have been changing in our daily routine and weekly activities.  We were looking for something simpler and more geared to the Charlotte Mason method.

Here's how I used Schoolhouse Spelling at SchoolHouseTeachers.com in our home.

I looked over the spelling lists for Lower Elementary - Level 1 and printed each week's words and the Charlotte Mason Monday activity for that week.  There are activities for every day of the week in the program, but given our philosophy of learning, all I needed was the first day.  This included the word list and copywork which had all the words rolled into it.  For example, week one the children did the first stanza of All Things Bright and Beautiful for copywork with their spelling words being: my, want, not, down, in, still, and beside.  (These are rather simple words for our children, but I love the hymn and wanted to start with week one of the program.)

This also inspired me to use the same hymn for our week's hymn study and I was able to find a lovely song video with lyrics which we used to help us learn the tune and rhythm.

I also worked with the Preschool Spelling program.  Our son isn't really preschool aged, but he is just learning to read well and I found the words in this level were a good starting place.  For him, I printed the word lists and daily suggested activities and we easily walked through it together.


Playing with words from Week 2 on our white board.


Because I liked the Charlotte Mason Monday, I simply cut and pasted the weeks into a simple word file for easy use.


For the Pre-school spelling, I chose to follow the lists in the Schoolhouse Spelling program but added my own manipulatives for word play and spelling fun.


The end of the week 'spelling test', simple words with pictures added on the right to illustrate each word.  This was fairly easy for Alex, but still a good level for him to gain confidence in his ability to spell words well.



Everyday Easels

We have been doing picture study and art study in our home since our children were little.  Often times we will use a book or simply choose an artist and study several of his or her paintings.  What I love about Everyday Easels is it not only gives suggestions for great pieces of art and artists, but provides a whole unit to go along with the art study.  (Love it!)

This past week I chose to do the Everyday Easels unit of Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee for our picture and art study.  The unit was laid out for us in five days with activities and conversational prompts for each day.

For example, we learned an interesting tid-bit about the artist and used it to fuel our observational skills.  Did you know Rembrandt loved to hide his self-portrait in his paintings?  Our children loved searching for him on the boat in the scene he had painted and found it funny he would place himself right in a historical painting, but there he was at the bough (the one holding the rope wearing blue!).

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt


For Day 2, we were encouraged to read from Mark 4 where the account of Christ in the storm is found in the Bible.  We enjoyed re-reading this part of the gospels with Rembrandt's vivid painting as a reference point.

Other interesting activities included thinking up and creating sound affects to go along with the feel of the painting ("what do you hear?"), as well as researching a little more about the Sea of Galilee in biblical and present day.

For the last day of the study, we were encouraged to have fun creating our own storm in a bin using water, soap, and whatever materials we felt like adding to the mix.  What a great study!  This is taking picture study to the next level, in my opinion!


Last Thoughts...

I'm excited to keep using many of the resources on SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  I'm sure we can incorporate many of the ideas and activities in our homeschool.  It's excites me that there are many Charlotte Mason inspired ideas and lessons.  The children have enjoyed everything we have done so far and I've found the site easy to navigate and simple to use.  I'd recommend this site for those who are looking for easy access to many different subjects from Pre-Kindergarten to grade 12.  It's definitely worth checking out to see if it would be a good fit for your family.


My review is for the yearly membership, which is $139 per year which gives full access to all the resources for as many children and/or teens as you wish.

Although I'm not always inclined to use online learning sites, this one in particular is far more detailed, organized, professional, and easy to reference and access than most online resources I've tried.  I really do love so many of the offered classes and resources.  Also, with the membership, you can continue to download new lessons and follow along as an online 'homeschool' so to speak.

I have met many Moms who are seeking a sort of online 'school' for their middle and high school aged children, so for those who are seeking something along those lines, this could be a great addition to the homeschool!


To read more reviews of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, visit the link-up at The Schoolhouse Review Crew!











A Gentle Answer

Saturday, January 24, 2015


He doesn't finish his lunch, again.

Why this child cannot finish a single meal is beyond my understanding.

Twenty minutes after lunch is cleaned up and left-overs are scraped to the waiting hens, he asks it:

"Mom, did I eat all my lunch?"

I know this question is packed with meaning.  What he really means to say is, 'Hey Mom, even though I know I didn't finish my lunch, I'm stalling and batting my eyes because I want to ask for crackers or bread or a granola bar or some other nutrition-less snack since I'm still starving after not eating the lunch you served'.

I snap back without thinking: "Of course you didn't eat all your lunch."  My tone is a bit too sharp for his sensitive self.

He stiffens.

"Yes, I did."

"No, you didn't."

"YES.  I DID!"

"NO, YOU DIDN'T.  Bud, I know this because I finished your sandwich for you."  I'm not yelling by any means but my tone is sharp.  It's been a hard day.

He turns, hard faced, and rosy cheeked and sticks his tongue out right at me.

Shocked, I stare, then silently walk away.  That is not a typical response of my sweet nine year-old.

I flip-flop between fleshly stewing and grumbling and desperate whispers to Jesus, Saviour, to well... save me.  I grumble about my attitude and his attitude and that uneaten half-a-sandwich.  In the midst of my half-prayer, half-whine, my heart all of a sudden jolts, then softens.


I hear it loud and clear in my heart: a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I know this already, but I forget.  My heart forfeits the joy and chooses the harsh, impatient response.  The wisdom of Solomon is apparently wasted on me some days.









An innocent child spills a drink all across and down two binders of homeschooling books and I snap, "YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CAREFUL!"  The middle child, she stares, wide eyed.  The youngest hides in the fort they're making.  "Look at this!"  I'm frantic, trying to shake out pages and sop up water stains.  "Agh!  Mama's book!"

Finally, the mess is tamed and I stop long enough to breathe and gaze upon my children.  The youngest is guilty, lip quivering.  I'm instantly softened.  Why?  Why do I do this?  Why do I fly off the handle over a little spilled water?  "Mama's book!"  So what about the book...  Mama's children are watching and hearing and feeling my reactions and my words deep in their little hearts.

I bend low and bring them close, trying to explain away my freak-out.  As always, they understand. Always so full of grace.  I realize that water dripping and books accidentally stained is nothing compared to hearts permanently stained with Mama's harsh answers. 

Doesn't everyone in the whole of the world just desire a gentle answer?

When we ask a question, when we make a mistake, when we are having a bad day, when we are having a bad year - what does harshness do to our souls?

It stirs up anger, that's what it does.

And as a Mom, I spent years giving the hurried, impatient, 'I've-had-two-hours-sleep' answers.  And you know what I got in response?  Yep, you guessed it - anger.

I didn't see clearly then what is so profoundly true, I was the one stirring up recipes for disaster in my home.  I was running around like an untamed bronco, giving harsh answer after harsh answer and wondering why everything was so messed up.

Because when you have three children under three and you are barely squeaking by, you can say a lot of things you'll regret.  Because if you aren't clinging to the only One who can truly change the heart so the heart spews love and gentleness and kindness and patience, you are bound for disaster.

The hurried bed-times, the snappy answers, the not having time for a thousand 4-year-old questions.  The uncaring, brash tone I wore just especially for my husband.  All these things stirred up anger in the hearts of those I loved the most.  And when you're exasperated and lonely and exhausted, the last thing you need is anger.  Because that anger breeds more harsh answers.  And so the cycle of sin and selfishness goes - a never ending, joyless grind.

But oh, the sweetness when our eyes are opened, the scales peeled away and the truth revealed.  I do not have to be a slave to my feelings.  No, I can actually surrender my feelings and my desire to lash out, lose my temper, say what I'll regret.  I can stop and surrender to a Heavenly Father who comes to the rescue, breathes life into my lungs and enables me to exhale loving words.  Gentle answers.

And then - as always - the Word of God proves true.  You give a gentle answer, and it turns away wrath.  And when that darkness is gone, Light has room to move right in.


And just like that, words and reactions can change your days and your whole entire life.  Because isn't it also true that words, our words, they either bring life or death?  I choose, every time I respond to my children, to serve them up a heaping plate of life, or a rotting bowl of death.  I choose.



But I do not choose alone.

That's the glory of the life with Christ Jesus.  With Adonai.  With Emmanuel, who is God with me.  I cling to Him, I fill my heart with His words, and His love and I ask His help in every situation, and He comes and He takes over.  And slowly, slowly, my heart starts to look more like His.  And when there is spilled water and uneaten sandwiches, all is still well.

All is well because my heart no longer jumps to the freak out.  My words no longer fly off the handle and strike with harshness.  My soul takes a big deep breath and I know ahead of time, I have already surrendered those moments to something bigger, something so much better.  I have chosen to reach out for grace and give the gentle answer, to breathe the life-words.  And Christ, in His unfailing faithfulness is there.  And His peace prevails and love wins.

With those always ready gentle answers, the wrath flies out the window.  Words become life, not death - and Mamas eyes are turned to heaven.




A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  

Proverbs 15:1


The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.  
Proverbs 18:21






I would encourage you to take time and read this beautiful post all about the power of our words from one of my favourite people.  Here's a quote from Ann Voskamp worth sharing and reading and remembering:

"Words leave your mouth, your keyboard, but words don’t ever expire quietly in a void — they always explode in hearts.
Every verb you utter causes a corresponding action, a movement, in every listener.
Measure your words — they determine the distance of your relationships."







Homeschool Plans for 2015 and more Charlotte Mason for our days...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015





Humbling, overwhelming, joyful, challenging, and enlightening are just some of the ways I would describe homeschooling on a any given day!  Oh yes, BUSY is a good one too!

Since we start most of our school years in August, we're usually ready for a shake-up come January.  Almost every year we revamp at this time.  As a home educator, I am constantly assessing how the children are relating to and learning with specific curriculums as well as teaching methods.

Since we try to cling to many of Charlotte Mason's philosophies, we use hundreds (thousands?) of living books every year for learning, teaching, discovering, and growing.  Every subject is filled to the brim with wonderful whole books.  It would be impossible for me to list all the books we use in our home.  We can go through 50 picture books a week, and are always using books as resources and reading novels and shorter chapter books!  So, keep in mind, below is a highlight of the more 'curriculum' type books we use.  You do not, however, even need curriculum to learn and grow well in the home…  a big 'ol pile of rich, engaging living books is a wonderful place to start with any child and at any age, especially under six years old.



Schedules and Weekly Plans:

Can I be completely honest and say - it makes me feel so weird to share this type of thing on here! My little hand-typed in NeoOffice files aren't the hight of blogging excitement!  I share only because of how many Moms have asked me to post our weekly times tables and schedules.

For our daily scheduling, I created my own files using a simple 'table' setting in a word processor. These are my life-line and I couldn't function day to day without these outlines and plans.  Each week is a four-page spread with one page for all Individual Work, two pages (see below) for our Family/Group Work, and a final page for my own review of the week and room for notes for the upcoming week.  This pages also serve as a very detailed record of our year.

So, here's how it looks for us...  please forgive the photo quality, the shots weren't coming out the best!

This is our weekly schedule with only a few changes made for 2015.


Weekly Plans - 

 

Page one of Family/Group work includes our Bible and Scripture Memory, Hymn Study, Literature, Poetry, Folk Tales and Songs, and usually various other planned readings.



Page two of our Family/Group work includes things like Geography, Hebrew and French, History, Art and Picture Study, Music and Composer Study, Science/Nature Study, and Handicrafts.  This page is also sometimes switched out completely for a Five in a Row planning sheet if we are doing a Five in a Row unit that week.



One thing I added this year that has been very helpful is a Reading Log.  I try to keep track and record all the books the children are reading, which is quite the task, but very nice to have at the end of the year!




Curriculum, Books, and Hopes!


Five in a Row


This year we are following Five in a Row Volume 4 for the most part.  We are also finishing up some books from Volume 3 and will do Who Owns the Sun? from Volume 1.  We love our Five in a Row as you can see by our growing collection of titles we've studied!





Language Arts


Last year we discovered this wonderful Language Arts program from Queen Homeschool.  I have really enjoyed working through these gentle, Charlotte Mason-focused books.  I plan to review them coming up soon with lots of photos and descriptions!


For Spelling this year, we are using Spelling Wisdom Book One from Simply Charlotte Mason.  We have also started implementing the Schoolhouse Spelling program from School House Teachers (review coming in a few days!).    For grammar and composition we are using Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola (a revamp of Charlotte's original grammar series), and for cursive we are using Pictures in Cursive from Queen Homeschool.



I was given Alpha Phonics about a year ago to review.  At first I was very unsure about the program in general - it seemed quite dull, very 'school-like' and I wasn't very excited about the appearance of the books or the readers.  However, after almost a year of using it in our home, I really do love the program.  It is incredibly effective at teaching reading quickly and efficiently.  Alex is working through Alpha-Phonics along with several readers including the "I Can Read It" series from Sonlight.  A full review of Alpha-Phonics coming in the next two weeks!


Poetry memorization and copywork are a big part of our language arts studies as well.  Every week the children have one poem or a stanza of a larger poem to copy and try to memorize.  This can turn into a creative art project as well.  This is also a great way to find spelling words and grammar rules.  We really enjoy this Charlotte Mason flavour to our language arts.  Above is an example of a weekly poem that was inspired by one of the Ramona books.



Some of the many Fairy Tale, Mother Goose, and Poetry books we are using this year.




History and Geography


This year, we were introduced to Mystery of History Volume 2 through a co-op that we actually never ended up attending.  It was a gift though because I bought the curriculum, and then loved it so much I kept it.  And we have been really enjoying this program.  I wouldn't say it is entirely Charlotte Mason, but it definitely leans towards the learning the literature method.  The engaging narratives, use of history timeline and narration, and the chronological study of history all fit very well with our philosophies.


The history timeline we're working on in combination with our studies in Mystery of History.


Timeline.


The beginning of our timeline.


An example of the author's writing style.





For Geography, I've included Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography, which is available online for free.  It's a great intro to World Geography and written in perfect Charlotte style, since, well, it's written by Mason herself!

 An example of an activity from the Charlotte Mason Geography.


For geography we are also using Canada, My Country by Donna Ward, which we've enjoyed for simple Canadian history and geography.


Math


Math for the two older children is Teaching Textbooks (can't say enough positive things about TT), and Alex is still working through Horizons Math along with the Charlotte Mason Math photographed below.


We are also using this Queen Homeschool Math for a living education.  This is much more geared to a Charlotte Mason style of learning and our children do enjoy these books.  They are a stand-alone curriculum, but I use them in combination with other books.



Habit Formation


Love this book from Simply Charlotte Mason.  This highlights all the habits Charlotte focused on, many biblical character traits and life skills/habits.  It is pretty intensive and we've only touched on it, but it is my prayer to really work on habits this year. I hope to post a review of this resource soon!



Bible, Faith Studies, and Scripture Memorization


We love our Scripture Memory Box that I created with the help of the 'how-to' tutorial over at Simply Charlotte Mason.


We're reading through the 3rd volume of Hero Tales this year and we absolutely love this series.  Not only is it great for Hero Recognition (a part of a Charlotte Mason education), it is such a faith builder!  The stories of the believers in these books are both uplifting and a challenge to our daily walks.  Our nine year old son especially love these stories.



Here are some of the resources we use daily in our home - the Adventure Bible for reading God's word, the Adventure Bible Devotions book, and The Complete Illustrated Children's Bible.  I can't say enough about the illustrated bible.  It is by far the most detailed 'picture' bible I've found.  It has over 600 pages and is very well written and illustrated.  Our children are constantly begging me to 'keep going!'.  Published by Harvest House.



Some more books we're planning to study/read.


Music and Art Study


We were blessed to get this Tree Of Life program for Elementary Music for only a few dollars at a homeschool sale and it is great!  We are using it slowly but steadily in combination with composer studies and living books about various composers.  Right now we're working on Haydn.


Another two books we have absolutely loved this year - ARTistic Pursuits and Come Look with Me.  ARTistic Pursuits we have used for hands on art projects and simple picture studies and the children have truly enjoyed it.  Come Look With Me is a great series of books for easy to do picture studies of beautiful paintings.  This red book is all portraits and art with children as the subject(s).  We also just starting using Everyday Easels from School House Teachers which I truly love and will review in the next week.


Some of the art resources we use regularly.



Nature Study


This year we started our first Nature Calendar of Firsts.  It is very simple, just printed basic grids with numbers pasted in a sketch book.  At the top of each page is simply the month printed.  This is were we can keep track of 'firsts' of each season as we observe them in nature.


I'm really excited to start using these wonderful nature studies from Shining Dawn Books.  NaturExplorers is hands-on, easy to use, and there are so many units to choose from.  Full reviews of various units and giveaways are coming soon!


Nature Study is our science, especially for this year.  I feel like we really need to focus on getting back into nature more and learn through smell, touch, feel, etc.  We were focusing on a text-book style science program but I feel its high time to toss the text and get back to how our children truly love to learn science... by experiencing God's creation!


The book I can't recommend enough...


A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola has been one of the biggest encouragements to me as a home educator.  Highly recommend this book!





Thanks for reading, friends...  






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