Put ‘Em All Together And Whatta You Got?

A good homeschool curriculum, I imagine. On the way to the doctor’s office yesterday, I caught the last five minutes of Focus on the Family on which Phil Vischer (of VeggieTales fame) was featured. He was talking about God’s faithfulness through the many ups and downs of his VeggieTales career, and about the new things he is working on, like Jelly Telly and What’s In The Bible? I appreciate that Phil’s heart has always been to share the Bible with children, and how these latest ventures take that to the next level. How thrilling to have yet another resource that teaches children about God and His word. I haven’t been this excited about anything since Leigh Ann introduced me to Seeds Family Worship and 252 Basics.
I sure wish, though, that these guys who are putting out good material for children would combine forces and provide me, the average homeschooling parent, something that makes use of all. What happens now is I put a lot of effort in finding and gathering all their good stuff that pertains to the given topic. I’m sure I am missing tons of good stuff, too, but who has time to find it all? Let me show you what I mean using this month’s virtue, Initiative:

a) 252 Basics, or Orange, provides what is called a CueBox each month, filled with activities that reinforce the virtue. The Bible story for Initiative, week 1 is about Nehemiah, who ‘sees the need’ for Jerusalem’s walls to be rebuilt, and does something about it.
b) On Jelly Telly this morning, we see a cute song about Nehemiah, performed by The Fabulous Bentley Brothers, aka Rhett and Link.
c) Cook Publishing put out some virtue workbooks a while back, that have crosswords, games and crafts to learn the virtue. In the one on initiative, Nehemiah again takes center stage.
d) Last but not least, Bill Gothard has a ton of stuff on what he calls character qualities. Each showcases an animal that demonstrates a trait corresponding to the virtue. For instance, the whistling swan is an example of initiative when it flies as a group in v-formation- covering more distance than it would alone, and contributing to the needs of the team. Can’t you just see a little Nature-type video on the subject? “Observe the whistling swan in his natural habitat. He readies himself for the flight with his twenty companions…”

It is an amazing time in which we live- you can not only create, but share it with the world via the Internet. What a fantastic problem to have, to never be able to discover all of the resources and learning tools out there. No matter- just a few are more than we need.

Isaiah 2:2-3
In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Prayer Mix

Made ya a mix tape- well, not really. But if I had the chance to do that for each of you today, my theme of choice would be prayer. We don’t pray enough. Here’s a look at what’s on my new prayer playlist:

Sweet Hour Of Prayer traditional
Prayer For A Friend Casting Crowns
What If His People Prayed Casting Crowns
Standin’ In The Need Of Prayer traditional
Whisper A Prayer traditional
Mama Prays Chris Rice
My Prayer Chris Rice
The Lord Listens When I Pray To Him Donut Man
Prayer For Home Fernando Ortega
Make My Life A Prayer To You Keith Green
Pray For Me Michael W. Smith
The Prayer Dion, Bocceli
Let Us Pray Steven Curtis Chapman
Say A Prayer Sara Groves
Bedtime Prayer Twila Paris
The Lord’s Prayer traditional


Last week there was a man on Jeopardy that looked like Luke. His name was Mike. The kids sat around the dinner table one night, discussing the other similarities the two men had.
“They both have four letters in their name.”
“They both have a ‘k’ in their name.”
“They both have an ‘e’ in their name.”
Lastly, Little S blurts out,
“They both have ‘i’s!”
At least, that’s how we understood him. He could have meant they both have eyes. In any case, the school year is still young.

We have two kinds of peanut butter in the house. The blue labeled, blue lidded one is crunchy, the red is creamy. We also have two kinds of milk in the house, one with a blue lid (2%), one with a red (whole). C likes to be specific about which milk he wants, and asks for the “crunchy” often. Since this is the lowfat one, I don’t usually serve it to the younger set; I mean, what’s the fun of that?! But C’s convinced of his preferences, and freaks out when I pour the “creamy” milk in his cup. The kicker is he doesn’t like crunchy peanut butter. Oh, well- it is generally fruitless to try to reason with a three year old.

More kidspeak by a three year old here.

Reading Rainbow

As I was gathering materials for our first month of homeschooling, I noticed that many of the recommended books had been featured on Reading Rainbow. I remember watching it growing up; it was fun to see LeVar travel to different places, do fun things, and read all those neat stories to us. I always liked the kids at the end, too, recommending their favorite books. We’re accumulating favorite tv shows on dvd like Between The Lions and Sesame Street ‘Old School’, and I wondered if RR was on dvd. I assumed it was, but was shocked to find out how many episodes there were- the show ran from 1983 to 2006! Luke brought home some episodes from the library- If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Numeroff and Follow The Drinking Gourd by Winter, among others, and it is so fun watching this great show. There just happens to be an Underground Railroad Tour this weekend that we may visit, and the latter of those episodes will fit right in.
Sigh. I heart Reading Rainbow.

Pancakes For Breakfast For Dinner

We’re doing something fun for science this year- a book called Science Through Children’s Literature, by Carol and John Butzow. I saw it at the library this summer and was intrigued by its approach. As I am a lover of picture books, it sounds wonderful to integrate a science curriculum into what we are already reading. Books like Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel are not just entertaining, they can teach us many things about machines, energy, and change, for example.
Our first unit is on nutrition, and the core picture book is Gregory The Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat. It is a cute read about Gregory the goat, whose food tastes differ from those of his parents. Other supplemental books for the unit include Eating Through The Alphabet by Ehlert, Bread and Jam for Frances by Hoban, and Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie DePaola. What a treat, literally, to enjoy all these authors this week. We read Pancakes this morning, and I decided we should try the pancake recipe for dinner that appeared in DePaola’s “first wordless picture book” that “speaks for itself”. They were really good! I don’t usually stray far from my box of pancake mix, as homemade ones never turn out light and fluffy for me. But this sounded fun, and I am glad they turned out. Maybe I have a new standby recipe.

2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
3 T butter, melted
3 T sugar
1 t salt
3 eggs
1 cup milk

Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl. Beat eggs lightly. Pour eggs and milk into the flour mix. Mix with a large spoon only long enough to blend. Batter should be lumpy. Stir in the melted butter. Cook on a hot griddle.
From Pancakes For Breakfast by Tomie DePaola

Homeschool Diaries

We started school today. The goal was to wait until we moved to begin this year, but as we are now in October, I admit I will have to yield on this, or we’ll still be studying in July. Today has gone okay so far, with the usual snafus- infant that doesn’t want to nap, toddlers that don’t want to play with their toys but do want what’s in the older kids’ school boxes. The excitement from the schoolagers is infectious, however, and keeps me buoyed through the preschooler’s whining.
I forgot to get dinner going in the crockpot earlier; I hope it will be done in time for dinner. Have to use the High setting- that’s always an iffy turnout for a dish.
The history lesson was about Pentecost- when God’s people received power to do his will via the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. I need that same power to get through each day; it is encouraging to know I can have it, too.

Toolin’ Around

Happy October! The weather has been glorious here, and I got to be out in it running some errands in town. Some days, like today, Luke can take Carol’s car to work, leaving me with the van to have an adventure with the children. We left at nine and headed for some thrift stores. The big need right now is shoes for Big S- I want to search secondhand if I can, then I’ll look for new if I have to. No shoes at the first store, but I found some jeans for C, and some shirts Luke may or may not like. The shirts both had the 50% off green tag today, so I figured they were worth a try. At our second stop, Goodwill, I noticed toys out front of the entrance, and quickly told the children that we were going inside and not playing with those toys. As we got closer, however, I noticed one of the items was a white kids’ table and chair set, with Winnie The Pooh on it. I have been looking for a good set for a while now. The one I want is over $200, so I am thrilled to have found this- shall we say- interim set at a modest $12.50. Still looking for a woodworker to make my dream set, though. I also found a pair of shoes for A Major, but still nothing for S. We went from there to the library, then on home. Each trip has gotten a little better, as we learn how to look out for each other, and enjoy being together.
We start school next week, and hopefully will have most Fridays off for errands and field trips, so it is good that I am actually looking forward to toolin’ around with our crew.