Friday, April 28, 2006

The quietest time of the day

I'm typing this during the most quiet time of my day.  After the children are asleep, you say?  NOPE.  It's about 10 AM (or today, 11:15 AM) and it lasts for about 15 minutes each day.


Have you exhausted all of your guesses?  I'll tell you what it is.  The most quiet time in our day is when both my boys are having their quiet time.  After breakfast, the boys head off to their room to read their devotional bibles and write three things for which they are thankful in their Gratitude Journals.  During this time, there is no noise in the house.  There is no television, radio, or CD.  There is no talking, barking, or yelling.  There is just peaceful silence.  It is the most quiet this busy little house ever hears.  And I love it.


Afterward the boys usually run to me to tell me what they wrote and read.  It's a nice ending to 15 minutes of peace.  Then it's off to chore-time.  Most of the boys chores center around all of the pets and caring for them.  We've added some fun to chore time recently.  The boys took a class in cup-stacking at co-op this Spring.  Now, when we do chores the boys complete a cup-stacking cycle in between each chore.  It makes the chores more challenging and fun for the boys.  If you'd like to see just what cup-stacking is all about, click here:


This is NOT the most quiet time of our day.  When chores and cup-stacking are being completed there is lots of noise, chatter, and the sounds of plastic cups hitting the table.  But it's fun.  It's good hand-eye coordination.  And it's a lesson in responsibility.  The pets, and the on-going movement of our home requires the boys to be dilligent to their chores.  Adding cup-stacking just makes it more fun.


Be sure to include a quiet time in your child's day.  My boys are 7 and 9 and have been doing devotions on their own for more than two years.  The materials we use are appropriate for their ages.  They both have Kid's Devotional Bibles.

For their gratitude journal, we use a book called 1,400 Things for Kids to be Happy About.  When those books are full of gratitude, we'll just switch to lined notebooks.  But until then, the "1,400" books are so colorful and give the boys ideas of different areas to examine to look for gratitude.  Using them is a great guide for their gratitude journals and a wonderful place for a child to start if you're going to begin a journal with your child.


I hope you find the most quiet time in your day.  Until I started this BLOG entry, I didn't recognize the peace that those 15 minutes bring to our home.  I'm glad, through bloggin, that I see it clearly now.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Geography on your fist

Recently one of the thread's in the lapbooking Yahoo Group was about geography.  Many people were writing about different geography features to teach our children and how best to do that.  This was when I remembered a trick my husband used to teach our boys different geographical features.  Todd said that this is how he learned these features in the military.  So, hopefully, I can pass them on and make them understandable.


Make a fist with your palm facing downward and your thumb around the outside of your fingers.  Across the top of your fist, where your knuckles are located is a ridge.  The knuckles themselves are mountains.  The depressions between the knuckes on the top of your hand are saddles.  The fingers are spurs and the indentions between the fingers are valleys.


Now, turn your fist so that the thumb and forefinger are pointing upward, but still clenched.  The hole made by your curled pointer finger is a depression.


When you look at your clenched fist you can see all of these geographical terms in a really clear manner.  It's a great "hands-on" teaching tool! 

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Middle Ages Affirmation

I asked the boys what they would like to study next year.  They chose Middle Ages so that they could be knights and Astronomy for their science study.


So, I've had lots of fun rummaging through my used book collection to find resources.  BUT, here's the really cool thing.  I was web surfing and found this cool web store homeschoolestore that offers freebies.  Guess what the freebie is right now?  Maps of the Middle Ages!!  Click on the link in my link list to check them out!


THEN today, I got the ezine from Learning Through History magazine.  Guess what was the subject of the mini-unit study?  Yep, The Middle Ages.


Don't you just LOVE affirmation?  I know God is in the middle of next school year already!  Yippee!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

History-Book of the Centuries

About two years ago, I first read about A Book of the Centuries in a book by Catherine Levinson.  The way she described it was the way Charlotte Mason implemented her history studies for her students.  For a little over a year now, the boys and I have kept a book of the centuries.  It is a 3-ring binder filled with white cardstock pages.  There are 3 tabbed dividers, one for BC, one for JESUS, and one for AD.  I want the boys to know that Jesus is the center of our History Studies.  He marks the change from BC to AD.  So the middle tab is marked Jesus.  If you open to any section, you will find one century on a set of facing pages.  A black line runs horizontally on each page and the beginning of the century is written in black marker on the top left corner of the page on the left.  The ending year of the century is written in black marker on the top right corner of the page on the right.


When we read about something, we find the century in which it belongs and mark the year on the line that runs across the page.  Then we write a line about the event, like "1818, Abigail Adams Dies" on an empty part of the same page


We also add sketches of museum artifacts to the appropriate century by just 3 hole punching them and putting them in between the two centry pages. 


We have added thumbnails from brochures and mini-timelines from resources like magazines and brochures to various centuries.  I also occasionally print information onto printable sheets of stickers and the boys stick them in the appropriate century.  AND we've used the label maker to print items that go in our book of the century.  But the boys always mark the timeline-line by hand.


If you would like to see pictures of our timeline, Books of the Centuries, click here:


One caution, when we started our books, my guys still wrote rather large and in some of the busier centuries are getting full.  We just added an extension flap to one century for Walker T. (my youngest).  We just taped another card stock onto the edge of one side and folded it toward the center (had to trim it a bit).  So maybe you would want to use more stickers, or type and paste the items until your children can write smaller.


I love keeping mine!  I add to it every time I read about something dated.  I will be keeping it for years to come.  And it is so interesting to me to see what happened during one century.  Most of us know American History, but when you can see it alongside histories of many other countries, it is eye-opening!  Try keeping one for yourself.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The 10 Commandments

For the past month, my oldest son has had a one-track mind.  This track involved the movie, "The 10 Commandments."  One Sunday afternoon while watching TV with his Dad, he saw a preview of this upcoming movie and he decided that he MUST see this show!  His younger brother wanted to watch too, although I think he was more passionate about the idea of staying up two hours past his bed-time two nights in a row than he was passionate about the movie.  His brother was a driven man, though.  He was on a mission to see this program.


So, there we were, all four of us in front of our television on Palm Sunday, watching the re-made "Ten Commandments", but with one difference than many of the families all over the US.  We watched this movie with my bible open.


During the commercial breaks, we would read the story out of Exodus.  It was so much fun!  My oldest would say, "Mommy, during the commercial, read that part!"  It was so much fun!  Did I mention that?  We sat in the living room, my husband and two sons, and I and watched this movie reliving one of our favorite bible stories.  We talked about how Moses felt when he came off the mountain after receiving the 10 Commandments the first time.  The actor came off the mountain with such excitement in his face and then he saw his people, and his brother, bowing to a hand-made golden calf.  I felt so grieved for Moses.  He came down from the mountain with guidance for the people he loved so much.  This was guidance that they had wanted and needed and for which they whined!  But what did they do as soon as he left?  Find something else to worship!!!  Arghhh!!  It is no wonder to me why Moses smashed the tablets.  His heart was already crused into as many pieces as those tablets after being dashed on the rocks.


Although there were some inaccuracies, this movie brought the Exodus to life for my little guys.  Reading it with my bible in our laps made the inaccuracies very inconsequential.  We were proving it against scripture as we were watching.  And now the emotions of what happened during the very first Passover are very real to all of us.


A week or two before our movie session, we had the opportunity through our Homeschool Co-op to participate in a Christian Passover meal.  For me, this was so important and moving.  It really set a nice tone for me for the Easter season.  But my boys are young and I'm not sure the meal and readings impacted them as much as it impacted me.


But after watching the movie "The Ten Commandments" Passover and Easter were all that more special.  I was so glad we watched it, but I was especially glad we watched it with my bible in our lap.

Printing Henty

Well, in the Fall I'll be taking on a new co-op class!  I'll be teaching a Jr. High literature class.  This is a new age group and subject for me, but I'm excited. I have to admit that I agonized over the book to select.  I'm taking one book and the students and I will be reading it over a 12-week period.  We'll meet 6 times to discuss the books and complete other projects.  I wanted to read something classic, not modern, but also not stuffy.


After prayer, and lots and lots of discussion I settled on something by G.A. Henty, but what?  I'd never read any Henty, but my husband LOVES them.  I went through a few of the books he's collected, but was not sure what to pick.  Then I visited the library and settled on the thinnest book, so that I wouldn't have to assign hundrds of pages of reading between our meetings.


The book I've selected is "The Dragon and the Raven."  Since our local bookstores are not brimming with titles by Henty, I went on-line to see what I could find. I was surprised and excited to see that there is a resource, The Gutenberg Project, that publishes classic e-books and the do it for free! guessed it, they had The Dragon and the Raven by G.A. Henty.  After retrieving the text version of this book, I realized that it would be over 140 pages to print!  Eeek!!


Then I learned about Fine Print.  I downloaded the free version of this terrific software and used it to print my book.  At first, I tried to print four of the pages of the book onto one 8 1/2x11 sheet of paper.  These almost 39 year-old eyes just can't read print THAT small!  So I printed two pages onto one 8 1/2x11 sheet and the total book was a little over 70 pages.


I printed a cardstock cover using Microsoft Publisher and I was off to the Office store to have it bound.  A few dollars later, I had a beautifully spiral bound book that will be very useful for teaching.  I will be able to flip the binding open easily and lay it flat.  I could decide the margins, so that I would have space for notes.  I can underline words to use for vocabulary, because it was printed at my own printer.  If I mess it up too badly...I'll just print another.


Stay posted for the projects and activities to which the Lord leads me surrounding this book.  It will be an adventure!

Friday, April 7, 2006

A field trip to the city?

My husband works there and we visit often.  I grew up near there, so it is very familiar to me.  My children love the museums and the river front.  It's the city!  We are a country family.  We live about 10 miles from a small town, which is 40 miles from the state capitol, a.k.a. "the city."  Harrisburg, PA is not a large city, but it's large enough for this little country family.


Yesterday, we had a field trip into the city.  Now, we do visit often.  As I said in the opening, Todd, my darling husband, works in Harrisburg.  We like to drive down and spend the morning at the museum and then meet daddy for lunch.  My parents still live in the small town in which I was raised, so we visit there quite often as well.  Quite often, I just consider it as a visit, but after yesterday's trip, I'm ready to call it what it is.  It's a field trip.


Yesterday I had to have a medical test in the Harrisburg area, so I left the boys with my mom and went to my appointment.  Afterward the boys and I visited with Mom and Dad and then walked to the park.  While walking to the park, we had discussions about sidewalks and the importance of them in a town.  We watched jets and planes flying over our heads, increasing and decreasing altitude as they landed and took off from the nearby airport. We listened to the local church bells sing "The Old Rugged Cross" at the top of the hour.  That's social studies, science, a little geography, music and bible as we sang with the hymn being played.


At the park, the boys had it all to themselves since it was the middle of a "school" day, my two guys built a most amazing town out of sand in the giant sandbox.  We did lots of timed tests and other drills on the playground equipment.  We were at the park for an hour and a half and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.


We stayed in town until daddy got off work and then took in the opening game of our local minor league baseball team, the Harrisburg Senator's.  Our team is very unique because the stadium is on an island.  City Island is only accessible by bridge.  One bridge is just for pedestrians, but we drove over and parked on the island.  We spent the next two hours singing along with the songs, laughing at the games and antics between innings, and cheering on the players and umpires. (Daddy's an umpire for the Amateur Softball Association so we ALWAYS cheer for the umpire.)  We all enjoyed 8 innings of the game before we were just too tired to continue and we headed back to the country.


Our field trip to the city was over.  I realized that there are things that the boys need to learn from a trip to the city, and those things don't only occur in the museum.  It's important for them to know how to handle themselves in traffic and what the purpose of a sidewalk is.  When we're in the city, they can see an airplane closely in the sky.  We meet people who are like us, and many who are different.  It's a valuable experience and well-worth the trip.



Saturday, April 1, 2006

Hunter's Birthday

Today, April 1, 2006 is my nephew's 20th birthday.  He was my very first nephew.  I was a freshman in college when he was born.  Hunter made me an aunt.  He also gave me my name.


At birth, I was named Lori Lynn.  My family, and most close friends called me Lori Lynn until Hunter started speaking.  He was beginning to speak and I wanted him to be able to make the 'L' sound.  So, I would sit with him on my lap facing me and say, "lu, lu, lu, lu, lu"  while he watched my mouth.  Eventually he began pointing to me and saying Lu Lu.  I was suddenly and forevermore, Aunt Lu.


Being Aunt Lu has always been my highest honor.  I love my neices and nephews so much.  When Hunter and his sister Rachael were small, I was a single-working girl.  I basically had no life outside of my career, but I had Hunter and Rachael. I spent nearly every weekend of their first two years with them.  I am so proud of who they are as adults.  Hunter is a sophomore at Elizabethtown College.

He plays the guitar so beautifully it makes me want to cry.  He also plays the drums with skill.  His sister Rachael is a highschool senior at Elizabethtown Highschool.

She has raised a service dog for Susquehanna Service Dogs.  Monroe, her puppy,  will graduate this spring and go aid a handicapped person.  Rachael is headed to Findlay University as part of their pre-vetrinarian program.

Rachael has a voice like an angel.  She's performed in the High School musicals and is one of the classiest girls I know.


SO, this afternoon, I made Hunter's birthday presents.  I made two bags of white chocolate popcorn, and my artichoke dip, which he loves.  And I've just finished his birthday card and envelope.  For the envelope, I used a template from Mirkwood designs.  Interlocking envelope:


His card is a Robert Sabuda pop-up.  I just printed and followed the directions.  It turned out really cool!  I did the crab.  Check out his other card ideas here:


Tomorrow is the party.  But today I am celebrating.  I'm grateful to be an Aunt.  It taught me so much about being a Mommy.  It's especially easy, though to be an aunt to such fine neices and nephews as mine.