Book Review

Would a Worm Go on a Walk?

My younger son is 6 and he loves worms. He really does. For a time he would go outside early in the morning to shoo the birds away so they didn’t get his “worm friends”…So I was excited to have the chance to review the book Would a Worm Go on a Walk? I knew that this would be a book my kids would love. One we could enjoy together again and again.

 

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This is full of silly questions for us to ponder:

 

 

  • Would a worm go on a walk?
  • Would a piglet play piano?
  • Would a lion be a lifeguard?

 

 

In all of this silliness, we are reminded, God made every one of us. With a purpose. A special purpose for the worm and the piglet and the lion too. This is a sweet reminder that although there are many differences amongst us as people (even animals) God created every one of us. Our abilities are a gift from God that we are to be ever thankful for.

 

 

 

God made us. That is powerful. It is such a testimony to His love and care for every single one of us. These silly questions help us tithing about how we were created; perhaps why or what we were created for. HIs purpose is important – even for our children – we ought to seek His purpose for our lives always. As we read, and have fun doing so we see that the turtles cannot drive and there is no way that penguins can fly. Rhinos enjoy the rain and and pigs will always squeal and roll about in the mud. And that is OKAY!

 

 

 

 

What a beautiful lesson (and the many ways we can use this as homeschoolers) to teach and remind our children the they are His masterpiece. For God knew them before they were born; He knows the number of hairs on their head and He believes that everything He made truly, was VERY GOOD. That’s you! 😀

 

 

 

Product Review

Don’t You Love September? 

I think September is my most favorite month!

 

Two of my favorite boys have their birthdays in this month. This is the month that the leaves change color in the trees, it’s the month the kids cooler and becomes a perfect time for backyard fire this late at night and stargazing.

 
It’s also pediatric Cancer awareness month. Did you know that?

 
I read the other day that there are 43 children diagnosed with cancer daily and more than 40,000 that are receiving cancer treatment each year.

 
For the next two weeks I am running a book drive with Usbourne Books and More to benefit pediatric cancer patients and there’s two ways this works:

1.  All donations will go towards purchasing cuddle bear books and stuffed bears for the children. The set of book and there is $25 but you can donate whatever amount you like.

Usborne Books & More’s Cuddle Bear has a yellow heart sewn on for pediatric cancer awareness. For every sale of this Cuddle Bear and/or it’s accompanying book, 5% of those proceeds will be given to the Scott Carter foundation. This goes towards funding childhood cancer research.

 
Consider donating a book or a bear for a child.

 
And then may those of us who are healthy and strong and have children who are healthy and strong praise the Lord for that health and that strength in us.  Let us go before the Lord as well and pray for healing and comfort and peace and wisdom for these families and children as well!

 

 

 

cuddle bear

Un School Home School

Love Languages

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We have been so very blessed recently to become more active in studying foreign languages.  From the very first time I visited Germany when I was younger, I have had a passion for international languages and life. Today, as a homeschool momma of four I cannot get around the world, but by hosting foreign exchange students, we still get to enjoy the experience of another country, at home. And share our great nation with another too!

 

My oldest son is currently using Mango Languages for Mandarin Chinese and French too.  I currently use this same program for German and all of us are working on Spanish together using this.

 

I know so many people tend to shy away from foreign languages. If you don’t know one yourself it can be pretty scary. Even for those of us who have a league or two under our belt, it can be an uncomfortable thing. But, it’s possible. More than possible. It is doable. You CAN teach your child a foreign language and have fun doing it! And there are so many great reasons to study foreign languages. Believe it or not it can help you learn English, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. How about teaching character skills? After all this isn’t easy. Learning teaches our children hard work and study skills. Which means they learn patience, self control and perseverance (we hope anyway).

 

 

Don’t forget about those things that are right there in your community too. We love the library, and its a great place to find and try different language learning programs. You can find dictionaries, audio books, and computer courses (any have the Rosetta Stone program too). You can find lots of books in Spanish, French, German and many other languages as well to help develop your reading skills. Consider using children’s books when you first begin learning a language. It helps a lot more than you may think with comprehension.

 

 

There are actually several books that we enjoy together, in our own library at home which help children learn all about different parts of the world. My favorites are: Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World, Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! ( carnivals, festivals and holidays), and then the Find Out About Series which includes France , Italy, and Spain.  These teach not just language but history and culture too. These are great for children, and are a great introduction for the younger ones to different people and places.

 

 

Let’s not forget the internet and YouTube, these are full of great and free resources, to help guide you in your learning. The sky is the limit here. Here your children can learn stories and songs, in the language they are learning, for a real immersion experience.They can explore maps of different areas around the world too.  Who doesn’t love to learn in a way that is living?

 

 

One central site I love to visit more for studying languages than studying a language specifically, is Omniglot. I came across this one recently and just love it. Basically it is an encyclopedia of writing systems and languages, with more than 180 writing systems and information on over 600 languages. WOW! This is full of introductions to alphabets and other writing systems. Almost all the writing systems currently in use and many extinct ones. There are many great learning tools here too to take language learning to a whole new level with details of language families, advice on how to learn languages, and language-related articles and videos. All for free. (I am such a geek)  LOL

 

 

The key to foreign language is consistency. Practice every day, using it as much as you can. Maybe fifteen minutes each day will get you started. The more you use it the easier it will be.  Consider learning as a family or having siblings learn together. There was a tie we labelled everything in the house to help reinforce the words in the language my son was learning. Play games, read books, write and sing song in that language throughout the day. Make it a part of your life and your routine. Find opportunities to use what you learn each day. It can be as simple as saying “hello” or “thank you” in a different language, or have a foreign exchange student over (consider hosting – our family loves to do this), or share a meal with your family from the country whose language you are studying.

 

 

Until we meet again… Au revoir, auf wiedersehen, sayonara, farvel, gule gule, do svidaniya, Zai jian… goodbye for now. 🙂

What Kids Read, What to Read

Kids Are Reading

I always love to read the blogs of people who share what they are reading. Or what is on their list of books to read. And I have shared here, a few times, what I am reading.

So as I was reading up on how to start a co-op the other day, I saw a post that seemed like so much fun. A book club for kids.  But our kids are all so small. 😦

If you don’t know, I have two boys, ages 9 and 5, and two girls who are 3 and 1 month.

My oldest s a very reluctant reader. He does not like to read. My little ones love books. I love books.

So we do a lot of reading aloud – me reading – them listening while they build with legos or color or draw….

But I thought it might be fun to share (please link up!)  what our kids are reading, or having read to them ! 🙂

My oldest, as I said is a very reluctant reader.  Being an avid reader myself we have lots of books in this house and we still visit the library quite regularly too (the librarians just love my oldest how he chats with them while we are there) but he does not choose to read.  He has to be “pushed” to pick up a book and read.

  So what are my kiddos enjoying in the way of literature right now?

My oldest son is enjoying (mostly being read to) D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths.  I got the idea to start with this one after he became so interested in vikings not long ago (think you Marvel and Thor).  I really loved mythology when I was growing up and certainly I am seeing, as we read these, my children become more interested and involved in books. I love too that I can hear them re-enacting some of these – my own Odin and Loki – my daughter is captivated by Freya and Skade the Ski goddess too.  The illustrations are very colorful and captivating for little eyes and the stories are short and fun to read. It is great how this encourages my oldest son to dig a bit deeper in some cases, to learn more about the stories that really peak his interest.

On his own he is reading Minecraft: Diary of a Little Bat.  He has recently become quite fond of Minecraft, and seems to be bringing his little brother along with him, in this newfound love of his.  So while I wasn’t thrilled with the quality of reading, it seems to be engaging him. For now I want to encourage independent reading as I can. Within reason of course. Its an easy read, short too, so it doesn’t overwhelm him. I am waiting for him to finish this one and give me a little book report 🙂

We are also reading, at bedtime and mostly with daddy, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. We just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  How fun are these books?  I mean the movies are good but these are just SO much better. The books are always better I think. And I have such fond memories of these from my childhood too. My kids love all the details of the chocolate factory; the candies and the Oompa Loompa’s.  We love the character lessons that can be taught as you meet each of the children who are vying for the one spot – its so powerful I think, to learn the value of good character in this way. This is a must read for every family if you ask me!

Biff and Becka’s Stupendous Vacation is an awesomely fun read for starting out our summer as a family. We all anticipate family vacations with lots of excitement but what about when things take an unexpected turn? How do we deal with disappointment?  In a way that shows Godly examples in the home as well as ways to encourage and guide your children.  This is full of lots of fun twists and turns while also teaching children about the way to live in the midst of trials, according to the Bible itself.  This book was quite surprising with the depth of its story. The values taught within this book are simply taught in a way that children can understand and relate too. This is also a good book for early readers.

With my younger son, he recently got a copy of The Behemoth Dinosaur in the Land of Uz which is meant to be a simple story, showing the importance of sharing.  The behemoth is named Dippy, my son loved that, who has a friend named Job. This is a cute, very simple, child like book.  The illustrations look like something a child would draw (which can be endearing to a child of course)  but I personally struggled reading this due to some grammar issues and a very slow paced story.  Of course I was just glad this was something my son enjoyed; it does have a very good lesson within it. But again, for us mommas, it may be a bit harder to really enjoy.  Great idea though; maybe they need to take two. 😛

My daughter recently received a copy of the Princess Joy Sticker and Activity Book from BookLook for a fun review.  This is such a cute book, and there are a couple of these it turns out, all teaching different virtues to our little girls in such a fun way!  There is Princess Hope Sticker and Activity Book, Princess Charity Sticker and Activity Book, Princess Grace Sticker and Activity Book & Princess Faith Sticker and Activity Book.   These are all a part of the Princess Parables and if your little girl is anything like mine, princesses are quite popular! These have 16 pages that are full of fun puzzles, activity pages, and 50 colorful and reusable stickers!  What little girl wouldn’t love that? There is even a bunny, named Buttercup. Some of the activities were a bit hard for my daughter, she is almost four, but regardless she was tickled pink with the simple story, while I loved that it was a great way to encourage and develop these important virtues within our girls from an early age.

The Rainbow Egg is a fun story about Hope a chicken who lives in the woods with friends, not other chickens either. She is happy, until she finds suddenly comes upon an egg and needs to find someone to help her care for it. She meets a guardian red bird who leads her to a chicken house full of other families of chickens and there she finds a most precious gift. Certainly she faces challenges there too but her ability to overcome is shown in this story. This is a lovely book, colorfully illustrated, giving precious new understanding to what adoption means. And excellent lessons for those who just sometimes feel they do not belong, even if they are not one that has been adopted per se. A great story to remind us of love and acceptance in life and the value of family 🙂

 

I love how my son can study a bit, on his own, with the Believe, Kids Edition: Think, At, Be Like Jesus.  I tend to be very wary of my son reading anything except the Bible itself however (with KJV at hand) this book has been a lesson in doctrine for our family! As you read, this book helps guide you in understanding of the core beliefs, practices, and characteristics of Jesus-followers so that you understand what it LOOKS like to be a follower of Christ. Its about more than just reading the Word right? There are three aspects to the journey bring kids that much closer to the heart of Jesus and helping them understand the depth of the scriptures and how they apply to their life. There were some doctrinal “errors” within that we had to work around (such as the lack of teaching on the Oneness of God; this speaks of the Trinity….but we all know God is ONE right?) Other details also were able to be used to help my son see and understand what it means o search the scriptures. I wish I could recommend this one but I do encourage you all, when it comes to your faith, to study His Word for yourself.  There are so many wonderful tools out there for our children if we use them wisely they can be a great blessing to us ~ Know what our children read and help them to see the difference between the truth of the word and the truth of man’s word. 🙂

 

 

SO what are your kids reading? What are you reading with them?

Consider linking up to share all the fun reads.  My list of books to read isn’t quite long enough yet 😛

Commonplace Books, Un School Home School

Purge it!

I am what some might call a book hoarder. 😛

 

I love books. I hlove the feel of their pages; the sound of them turning. I love the smell of books.  Especially old ones.

They are a part of me.  A part of my family.  And there is always room for more of my babies.

 

But then my husband, the other day, suggested we consider purging some of them. And then there was this quote I read that spoke to “getting rid of books”.  ~gasp~

 

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing author Marie Kondo, says that we should get rid of everything that does not “spark joy in our hearts.”

 

Books DO spark joy in my heart though. Like little else does.

 

I have been wanting to purge our house – go minimalist – for some time now.  So I guess, my husband bringing it up, perhaps this was a sign that it was time. And perhaps it was time for me to give a bit too. So I did what was recommended.  I took every single book off of the shelves, out of the drawers and out from under the tables and chairs. Slowly I went through each one deciding what to keep and what pass on. Since we are home educators too, my other thought was for my kids; for our journey.

Did it spark joy in my heart? Was it perhaps, educational for my children or would it maybe, one day, spark joy or relief in their hearts?

 

This was hard. I admit it. Seeing space open up on the shelves, my natural desire is to fill those holes. But then looking at the boxes that are filling up; seeing so many books that none of us had a passion for. My children bringing me books (I was surprised at some of them that they chose to let go of too!) I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders.

 

There is power in the tongue. There is power in the pen. As we move forward, as a family, as a homeschool, as individuals – We must be careful what we allow eyes to see. We must be wise in how we spend our time. Even in literature, there is so much out there that no good can truly come from.  Charlotte Mason calls it twaddle.

 

If you are not familiar with this term, let me share some of what I feel, are the best definitions:

 

“. . . the sort of diluted twaddle which is commonly thrust upon children” (Vol. 1, p. 176).

 

  1. “They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told” (Vol. 2, p. 263).

  2. Second-rate, stale, predictable

    “It is not possible to repeat this too often or too emphatically, for perhaps we err more in this respect than any other in bringing up children. We feed them upon the white ashes out of which the last spark of the fire of original thought has long since died. We give them second-rate story books, with stale phrases, stale situations, shreds of other people’s thoughts, stalest of stale sentiments. They complain that they know how the story will end! But that is not all; they know how every dreary page will unwind itself” (Vol. 3, p. 121).

  3. Goody-goody story books or highly-spiced adventures of poor quality, titillating

    “What manner of book will find its way with upheaving effect into the mind of an intelligent boy or girl? We need not ask what the girl or boy likes. She very often likes the twaddle of goody-goody story books, he likes condiments, highly-spiced tales of adventure. We are all capable of liking mental food of a poor quality and a titillating nature” (Vol. 3, p. 168).

  4. Scrappy, weak, light reading

    “Many who would not read even a brilliant novel of a certain type, sit down to read twaddle without scruple. Nothing is too scrappy, nothing is too weak to ‘pass the time!’ The ‘Scraps’ literature of railway bookstalls is symptomatic. We do not all read scraps, under whatever piquant title, but the locust-swarm of this class of literature points to the small reading power amongst us. The mischief begins in the nursery. No sooner can a child read at all than hosts of friendly people show their interest in him by a present of a ‘pretty book.’ A ‘pretty book’ is not necessarily a picture-book, but one in which the page is nicely broken up in talk or short paragraphs. Pretty books for the schoolroom age follow those for the nursery, and, nursery and schoolroom outgrown, we are ready for ‘Mudie’s’ lightest novels; the succession of ‘pretty books’ never fails us; we have no time for works of any intellectual fibre, and we have no more assimilating power than has the schoolgirl who feeds upon cheese-cakes” (Vol. 5, p. 214).

I admit, I have rather high goals for my kids’ when it comes to their learning.  I expect as they grow, that they would have a love of language(s) and the intricacies (also an understanding) of words and the power held within them, and a desire to increase in learning – a love of wisdom.

 

While I do not stop my son from reading Garfield now and again and we definitely enjoy a bit of Calvin & Hobbes here and there, it is important that what they do, how they spend their time, is real. May we encourage, ourselves too, to be surrounded by that which changes us – which breathes life into dry bones (or brings something to life!)  Truly we should never stop learning. And the greatest experiences are often the most powerful and life changing of them all.

 

Book Review, Product Review, Un School Home School

More Science Fun!

I think I have mentioned before how much we love science in this house. We are always trying out different materials; watching videos and doing little experiments around the house! Recently we had the chance to test out two fabulous books from Dover Publications, provided by Educents. We love Educents; if you aren’t familiar with them, I encourage you to take a peek. It is a wonderful site full of goodies for any and all ages. We have found so many fun activities and learning tools there. All very affordable too!

Kids love water right?  So Tabletop Scientist: The Science of Water, Projects and Experiments with Water Science and Power was a sure hit. Especially for the two little ones (a bit wet around here right now though! haha) For only $6.99 it is a must have for any homeschool library if you ask me..This one is full of colorful pictures and simple explanations. Every chapter has handy sidebars; “Try It and See” to give ideas for even more exploration and “How It Works” explaining scientific ideas in an easy to understand way.  From changing the color of flowers using water and food coloring, to how clean dirty water. My younger two (4 and 2) absolutely loved being able to make a boat float and a few times sink too, using clay and a big bowl of water. Of course they also experimented with other objects in the house (toy ponies, a little doll, some bits of soap, crumpled paper…I could go on). Creeping water, curved water, solid water – there are so many fun things to do and learn in this book!

Then there was the BOOST My First Human Body, Coloring Book.  For only $4.99 you can explore in a fun, and colorful way, the human body (this is recommended for grades 1-2 by the way).  This is something that my boys had a BLAST with!  Turns out they are not much for coloring but my oldest really enjoyed learning all about: hiccups, DNA, taste buds, and how all that stuff hidden inside our body works.  So many images within this book showing the skeletal, muscular, immune, respiratory systems.So easy to understand, lots of simple diagrams too. We learned all the gross details of digestion, what saliva is and what it is for, how blood pumps through our bodies. The human body is just so amazing. It is hard to believe that there is so much within; things we do not see but need for so many things we do each day.

These are part of the awesome BOOST educational series available from Dover. I am not sure how much my husband appreciates that but I know that we will definitely be looking into more of these in the future. They range in subject and age, from as young as three to as old as 11 (pre-K to grade 5). There’s letters and numbers, dinosaurs, the arctic, composers, desert life, vikings…And so many more! I definitely would recommend these to anyone looking for something to make learning simpler and more fun!    

 

 

 

 

From my boys: a big thank you to Educents for the opportunity to review these two fabulously fun books!! We are not done with them yet but will do lots more. Reading and coloring; a bunch of experiments (they love to play in the water!) and my oldest plans, rather than coloring, to trace and draw his very own human body, inside and out.

Un School Home School

In the Mess ….

I a excited…..I am also having major anxiety issues…..

You see I started a book club for fellow mom; a time for us to read and meet and share our thoughts and struggles; inspiraton and prayers with one another. Sounds exciting right?

We are remodeling our house right now. Our kitchen to be exact. Our old kitchen is an eyesore – a mess to look at. Stuff is everywhere. Our new itchen is going to be wonderful – its a mess right now though too. We are waiting – for countertops – we are waiting for so much to be competed…..

And in the midst of my mess my inside voice is screaming to just cancel it. Cancel the book cub and wait until things are done. Wait until the house is nice and neat and not such a mess! I have to to silence the voice and the feeling of shame over the mess of my house.

And then I remember – its about the heart. It’s about the spirit. To serve and to gather to support and grow together. To share our joys and our tears …. There is so much more to serving. I have to remember that we are not called to serve from perfect, clean and tidy homes that smell like sweet lilacs … We are not called to invite others into our home when it is cnvenient and when we feel good about welcoming them in.

I am inviting others into my mess. Many that I will be truly meeting for the first time in our gathering tomorrow. Most are homeschool moms like myself; all are followers of Christ. I am reminding myself as I clean and organize what I can, as I can today and tomorrow, that perfect is the last thing anyone needs. And to truly gather, to truly benefit from one another – sometimes there needs to be a bit of a mess.

I pray that I may be joyful as I meet others in my mess.
For His glory of course 🙂