Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 5th Grade :)

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I Didn’t Sign Up for This

I feel privileged to have for you a guest post from my best friend, Danielle, one of the most lovely and encouraging hearts I know. You are about to see what I mean! I asked if she would write on what she learned from studying Proverbs 31 (back in October), and it has been a blessing to more moms than we could have imagined. So I am excited to share it here and I hope it will be a blessing to you today as well!

“I didn’t sign up for this.” We’ve all had those days.

You’re running on four hours of sleep. Your house is a disaster. Your children are disobeying. Your husband is hours away from being home. Laundry is piled up. The sink is overflowing with dishes. There’s much to be done, and yet your sleepy body and tired hands are no match, even, for your mental exhaustion. Everybody needs all of you right this moment, and there’s just nothing left to give. Oh, and what’s for dinner? “I didn’t sign up for this.” It’s a sentiment that the world wants you to believe. “I didn’t sign up for this.” It’s a lie that the enemy tries to plant in the hearts of good women. Women who want to serve. Women who want to love. Women who want to be more than they thought they could ever be.  Well, let me tell you, sisters, you are in a sacred role, as wives and as mothers, a role that is unique and holy and beautiful. The Lord honors your sacrifice. He honors your commitment. He honors your giving of yourself. He honors your serving. And girls, He sees you. Your husband sees you. Your children see you. And as one who is in the same place in life, I see you.

But why does any of your work matter? Is it that important? Are you really doing enough? Are you making a difference? Do your chores honestly bring glory to Jesus? Let me remind of you of what the Lord tells us about The Wife of Noble Character in Proverbs 31:

(10) A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.

(17) She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her task.

(18) …her lamp does not go out at night.

(27) She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of  idleness.

(28) Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

(30) Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

(31) Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

God speaks over our lives in a way that touches that tender part of our hearts; that part where we ask Him, “Am I enough?” This Word, ladies, is telling us, that YES, we are enough! In fact we are more than enough. We are worth more than rubies! When we serve our families with hearts that are pure and joy-filled, then we are seeing the bigger picture! We are fulfilling the work that God’s own hand is doing in us. He set you apart to be the wife of your husband. YOU! He set you apart to be the mother of your children. YOU! He formed your character, He knows your strengths, He blessed you with gifts, He knows your heart, and He even knows your each and every weaknesses. Given all of those variables, He still chose you…He chose YOU! Not in spite of those characteristics, but rather, in reverence to them.

Joy is a fruit that is only tasted, when received as a gift from the Holy Spirit. Without the presence of the Spirit in your works, Joy ~ real and true Joy is, quite frankly, not possible. There are many who seek Joy in the things that bring them happiness. Things that the world has to offer can and will, indeed, bring much happiness. But happiness will not satisfy, when what you hunger for is Joy. Joy is a fruit that will fill you and sustain you, like nothing this world has to offer. We might not always be “happy” on these hard days, as wives and mothers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be joy-filled!!! Stay with me here…

Girls, let’s change the mind-set that’s out there. Instead of dumbing down the work we do and minimalizing it to mere “domestic tasks”, let’s take these noble charges we’ve been gifted, as daughters of the King, and satisfy our hunger for Joy by serving our husbands and our children in the way God intended ~ with cheerful heats that know the worth of our efforts! Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” What an honor! When we do our daily tasks, we are working for the Lord! When we cook ~ we cook for the glory of Jesus. When we fold laundry ~ it’s for the glory of Jesus. When we clean the bathroom, pick up hubby’s dirty socks (again), tidy up the toys, scrape food off the floor, wash the dishes, make beds, bathe our babies, read bedtime stories, kiss away tears, and tuck little ones into bed each night… ~ you guessed it, it’s for the glory of the Lord! So, let me ask you, dear sisters: Did you sign up for this? Did you sign up for this honorable, noble, beautiful role that God has set you apart from every other woman in the world to do? Your Heavenly Father thinks YOU are so awesome that he gave you a beautiful gift in this family that He’s placed you in. Guard your hearts, dear ones. Don’t let the world steal your Joy by telling you that what you’re doing isn’t important enough. You are worth more than rubies! You are pleasing in God’s sight.

You not only serve, but you serve with the purpose of elevating glory beyond yourself, and above all men; you serve to exalt glory to The Father who created all things.  And when you serve with Joy, then your works are seen and honored. You will find favor in Him by embracing this high station of life, called motherhood. Did you sign up for this? When you spoke your vows and took your husband’s hand in marriage, THAT was your moment! That’s the moment you told God that you were ready and willing to “sign up” and step into this role that He destined you for. You did sign up for this, ladies! We all did! What a privilege! It’s not always easy. In fact most days, it’s quite challenging. But you know what? He chose YOU! God knows your heart, and He sees you. Remember, He chose you, not in spite of your strengths and weaknesses, but rather because of them. You are precious to Him. You are beautiful in His sight when you serve your husband and your children with a wholeness and a heart rich in Joy, simply because He called you to do it, and you’re up to the task! I encourage you, today, to find the Joy that has been served up for you. No task is too small, too insignificant, too petty, when it’s being done for the glory of the One who called you to it. May you be filled with a newness in your heart, a fresh perspective, a higher sense of worth, and a pure heart of Joy at the prospect of being a Wife of Noble Character!

Love, Danielle

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Over here at Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs we are taking it easy this month, so as usual, you won’t see any lesson plans for January because I am taking a break! Not from school, just from a lot of the “extras.” It’s nice to relax a bit and breathe deeper. Here is a peek at what we have been up to for the last couple months. God has been good.

November and December Pictures

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Devotions with all the friendly beasts.

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Spontaneous Space Art with Daniel

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Faith likes her “Little House” Christmas gifts (Johnny West wagon and figures)

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Noah’s gospel message in Ontario

 

Kid work is so cute (but man we’ve gotta work on those backward J’s!)

 

All Eyes on Me Please

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Can I clean the sink?! Next thing I knew she was in the sink.

 

 

Christmas Morn, so fun!

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A reenactment of the Christmas story with cousins was entertaining.

 

Caroling in the neighborhood to share the gospel; the kids sang The Friendly Beasts with solo parts just for fun.

 

Dear little Deers adorned our Christmas crafting this year (Noah and I).

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Making mounds of Marshmallows in preparation for Mom’s Night crafting. Yah, I overestimated a little.

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At Mom’s Night, we made cute hot chocolate jars adorned with ribbon and sculpey animals to give as gifts.

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My sister shared at Mom’s Night in December. We loved it! I hope to post her message soon too. 🙂 The invite was:

The Hope of Glory

“He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.”

C.S. Lewis

There is a purposeful and dazzlingly glorious design for your life, including the less glamorous painful parts. In our frail humanity and understanding, we often question, why must this life be wrought out in hard circumstances?

Come and be encouraged by my sister, Tara, at our Mom’s Night table as she shares that there is Purpose in the Pain; there is an eternal weight of glory on the other side of these light momentary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17). As you reflect this week on your process, may the Lord show you what He is teaching you through the pain.

While we discuss around the table. . . . . . we will also be busy little Christmas crafters making joyful and generous jars of hot chocolate with mounds of marshmallows to give as gifts (or keep!) And to make those yummy jars of hot chocolate even more fun, I will teach you how to create adorable miniature clay animals to sit atop.

Its going to be a delightful night as we lift each other up in community, glean wisdom from Tara’s passion and gifting, craft some homemade Christmas gifts for friends and neighbors, AND have a chance to splurge on ourselves too! We will hear from my friend Erin, a mom passionate about health and her natural beauty product line called Beauty Counter. Us moms deserve a few indulgences to help make us dazzle!

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A Happy Birthday Jesus Party planned and executed by Noah (with mommy to help); he had little Daniel in mind. Awww.

 

Honey to our Hearts

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Love you sweetheart

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Our yearly ornament tradition representing special memories from the year- Noah, a drill (inventions); Faith, Jack and prairie wagon (Laura Ingalls dream); Daniel, a bunny (friendship with a stuffed bunny); me, hot cocoa (Mom’s Night)

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Nativity Silhouettes–chalk pastels were quite fun this time compared to our first time

 

Live Nativity in Santa Clara

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Foggy and snowy Christmas tree cutting in Apple Hill

 

So proud of my little entrepreneurs who sold their hand made items at our homeschool group’s Christmas boutique. They sold clay deer, rainbow praise ribbons, and rainbow crayon shapes.

 

Counting up their Shepherd’s Pouches and boutique earnings for Samaritan’s Purse. Total:$65! Praise God!

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Holding onto these precious lasts

 

An unexpected lavishing of love notes……I have never felt so appreciated by my munchkins.

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Picking “blueberries” in our backyard.

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“I wish I could give 20,000 boxes like the one girl did for Samaritan’s Purse.” (Noah)

Lord, multiply our humble humble offerings.

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I think I want to be an artist

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A “real Roman Road” in the garden constructed by Noah and Faith

(and it was a foot deep I found out when we went to take it out a few months later, buckets upon bucket of rocks were unearthed)

 

Homeschool Day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium with cousins and friends

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Caught ya! The corn eating mystery was solved! We gleefully watched our little thief gorge himself just a foot away on the other side of the window pane.

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A nice chore arrangement for some I guess.

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A vintage rocking horse repainted and given by Papa (the eyeballs are up to me evidently) 🙂

 

Can you stay out of the kitchen mommy? We want to do lunch for you all by ourselves.

A sweet (and sugary) gesture indeed.

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Daddy being so silly.

 

Our Christmas card shoot….

 

this is actually how most of it went.

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What kind of ….?    Oh yes, its an invention.

 

A moment with you, too good to be true.

(Where was that smile when we needed it??)

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Stupendous Fives and Sixes!

Kindergarten Curriculum Plans for 2014-2015

Hooray for Kinder and five and six year olds!!! What a fun age to teach! We are joyfully diving into living curriculum by Simply Charlotte Mason next school year, and will be using the books listed on SCM’s free curriculum guide (1st grade books, although much of SCM curriculum is designed for “family study” and can be used with any age). I hope that some of you will decide to join us in this exciting Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool adventure! If you need some ideas for next school year, whether your child is kindergarten age or not, I would love to show and tell all the wonderful books we plan to use in each subject next fall, so that you can glean for your own curriculum planning.

If you like Charlotte Mason ideas, but feel unsure about how to teach all the various subjects, brush up by checking out the post Teaching Subject by Subject on Simply Charlotte Mason’s blog. Or if you can, splurge on SCM’s thorough training DVDs, ‘Homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way’. I do not have these DVDs but I would love to get them someday. However, reading Home Education, Volume 1 of Charlotte Masons series, has been the best thing I have done so far to gain a more solid understanding of Miss Mason’s methods, and quite inexpensive training to boot.

First and foremost, Charlotte Mason is a 12-year Christian Character Building curriculum. Books are chosen for the literary quality with which they were written, and even more, their ability to develop the whole person and inspire character. Just look into the curriculum materials I have pictured for each subject area–literature, poetry, Bible, history, geography, reading, and science–and you will find that it all teaches character development!!! For all those years that children are getting a CM education, what’s really being trained more than anything else, is their character. If you agree that character development is your aim as well, then go ahead and read on about Charlotte’s 20 guiding principles for education to see how aligned you are. Realize that some (perhaps many) of her principles go against our common educational sense, but since we know traditional modern pedagogy is failing our children, let us open our minds to trying something different, and trust that if God is leading us this direction, we will come to experience the wonderful fruits of a CM education with time and trust, just as SO many other homeschool family’s who fully adhered to CM principles have.

A Charlotte Mason education is more than using living books and going on nature walks. It is only when used as a balanced whole, that Charlotte’s methods give the best results. Many CM families will vouch that the ‘more or less’ way of following Charlotte Mason doesn’t yield nearly as excellent results. For best results, don’t pick and choose through her tried and tested principles and methods, making a novice assumption that some probably won’t work for you.

“Charlotte Mason was right and my assumptions were false”

Anne White, a seasoned CM homeschool mom, writes on Ambleside Online, “…..Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and methods are so firmly rooted in the Christian view of a personal God, the created world, and people (as individuals created in God’s image) that they must work because they are true, because they fit the way the world works from a Biblical viewpoint.”

“When I began reading what Miss Mason herself had to say about her methods (rather than reading what others had to say about it), there were a few things she said that didn’t mesh with my own assumptions, so I did not at first try them. However, the more I used Charlotte Mason’s methods and saw good fruit, the more I began to wonder about those other things. One by one, I gave them a try, and I generally found that Charlotte Mason was right and my assumptions were false. Here are some of them:

Short lessons–I thought it best to keep going until we tired of a subject. But my kids are fresher and stay interested longer with short lessons (10-15 minutes for younger children)–they have better retention, too.

Slowly reading through a book a few pages at a time instead of sitting down for a gluttonous feast of cover to cover reading (it’s oh-so-fun that way!)–I thought it was ridiculous to make a child quit reading a school book if she was having fun with it. But I find that when I slow my children down with their schoolbooks, they think about the material longer, harder, and deeper. They remember details better, as well.

Unit studies–Charlotte Mason really did not much care for most unit studies. She has some very amusing things to say about them. I was using a unit study curriculum when I first read the six volume series, and I thought she was mistaken. But the fewer unit study projects I do, the more real learning my kids do, the more time I have, the less mess there is to pick up! Miss Mason talks about letting the kids make their own connections. The more I step back and let this happen, the more amazed I am at how many connections the kids make that I never thought of.

Dictation–I never did prepared dictation in a steady, organized fashion until around 2003. Since implementing it. I’ve seen big improvements in my girls’ spelling and writing skills.

Drawing–I thought drawing was something you either could do or you could not do–not a skill that could be taught. I tried some easy teaching programs, and found that the children who had the benefit of those programs did draw better than those who did not. They are not artists, and I didn’t stick to the programs as much as I should have, but there is definitely a difference.

Narration on every single reading–this is so important! I see much better retention, better interaction with the book, greater interest in the story, improved language skills, and better understanding of the material.

Show and Tell Time

Alright, let’s get to the point! Below I list all the areas of study we will cover in kindergarten and include pictures of lesson books, spines, reference books, living books, etc. that we plan to use for each area. I also include an “extras” section for most subjects– optional movies, links, CDs, games, extra books, etc., to further enrich our studies as time permits. My bookmarked research on the computer this year, emptied into one convenient place for you, and me too. The great thing about SCM lesson plans is that they are basic, like skeleton plans. Some people look at them and say that’s not enough, but many of us look at them and think perfect, they leave room and time to explore my child’s interests and lots of “extras” too. I think that’s important!

I basically bought all books pictured on this post from either Simply Charlotte Mason or AbeBooks. Most of the “living books,” I bought used very inexpensively from AbeBooks, and saved more than I could have by buying from Amazon used (I saved about $100, most books were half the price of Amazon). So try AbeBooks first!

For younger ages/lighter workload, foundational background, or alternative curriculum ideas, also see:

  • Welcome Back to School, my 2012-2013 curriculum post for “Thrilling Three’s and Fours.” Every area of study listed there has been the foundation of our Charlotte Mason preschool.
  • Fabulous Fours and Fives, my 2013-2014 curriculum post. Our Charlotte Mason curriculum plans are built up from the previous year to prepare us for kindergarten this year.

For a peek into our school supplies, other than books, like math manipulatives and art supplies, see last years post:

  • Getting Ready for School (A few of our supplies Noah doesn’t need anymore, but most will still be used in Kinder and beyond, and for next year I won’t need to add very much to what we already own.)

As far as a schedule for kindergarten for all you schedulers, I will blog later this summer, because I am still figuring that out right now! I can tell you this much: the plan is to do the next thing. Whenever we finish chapter one in a book is when we will move to chapter two. I will definitely not be scheduling out chapters and page numbers to cover each day 9 months out in advance just to make sure we squeeze every last drop out of our books by the end of the year. I feel suffocated by that kind of “planning”, and much prefer the flexibility of “do the next thing.” Life happens and staying flexible for important things that come up is an advantage of homeschool. We will just stay faithful to setting aside 4 mornings a week to do all of our book work, and 1 day a week to go out and have fun on a field trip or nature get away (Fun Fridays!). I will be planning which days of the week I plan to teach which subjects and a tentative time of day for each.

Bible, History and Geography:

“History is a subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas, should enrich the chambers of his House Beautiful with a thousand tableaux, pathetic and heroic, and should form in him, insensibly, principles whereby he will hereafter judge of the behavior of nations, and will rule his own conduct as one of a nation.”
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“The fatal mistake is in the notion that he must learn ‘outlines,’ or a baby edition of the whole history of England, or of Rome, just as he must cover the geography of all the world. Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.”
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“….it is only as we have it in us to let a person or cause fill the whole stage of the mind, to the exclusion of self-occupation, that we are capable of large-hearted action on behalf of that person or cause.”
–Charlotte Mason
 

Click on pictures to find book descriptions.

Bible: Bible story book, commentaries, hymns, scripture memory (not pictured), and Bible/History lesson plan book.

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History and Geography: Lesson plan books, maps, history spine (Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors), and ……..

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Lots of living books!

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What’s great about the history spine, Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors:

“A living book that explores Ancient Egypt in a way that is suitable for younger students, yet interesting for older; that presents what the Egyptians believed, yet honors the one, true God; that doesn’t sensationalize the pagan customs, myths, or mummies; that traces the history of this ancient civilization, yet agrees with the Biblical account of creation and the beginning of mankind. The best part is that Lorene Lambert’s fascinating narrative also tells the stories of the other civilizations that existed alongside Ancient Egypt—her neighbors, near and far.” -Simply Charlotte Mason

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Bible Extras:

History Extras:

          More Ancient History Living Books:

         Movies to Supplement Ancient History:

          Well Written/Interesting Biographies :

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  • Childhood of Famous Americans series – Tells the stories of the childhood of many of our American heroes.
  • Landmark series – A most remarkable series of books about history written for children. The thing that makes them great is they asked real adult experts on each subject to write them. Irresistable. A very, very few mention       evolutionary ideas – the ancient history ones.

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Habits and Character:

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man.”
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“As has well been said, ‘Sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.’ And a great function of theeducator is to secure that acts shall be so regularly, purposefully, and methodically sown that the child shall reap the habits of the good life, in thinking and doing, with the minimum of conscious effort.”
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“The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time, doing no more than keep watch over those already formed.”
–Charlotte Mason

We will devote ourselves to the development of one character trait a month as we have done all through preschool (see our preschool masterplan). I will choose traits that need the most development in my children from Charlotte’s list and then we will work on them over a 9 month school year. We will most likely focus on the following traits next year: neatness and order, courage, generosity, obedience, self-control, courtesy and kindness and manners, usefulness, truthfulness and prayer, thanksgiving and praise.

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We bought these two quick reference charts from Doorposts so that we can handle discipline situations Biblically and teach our children Bible verses that apply to the issue at hand.

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Service opportunities (better known as chores) will become a big part of our habit training this year. Our children will learn how to be good “employees” through Service Opportunities (ie chores). With Stewardship Street, they can learn to be faithful stewards of their earnings. We will be crafting our own milk carton stewardship street this summer, which will resemble the scene you see on the front cover (7 houses or “piggy banks” to hold earnings from seven important categories of stewardship–tithe, charity, living expenses, spending, short term savings, long term savings, and dowry). Noah has his own wallet now and can’t wait to get started. With all the crafting and chore training required to get started, this is a great summer project. That way we will hopefully have our Service Opportunities system up and running more smoothly by fall.

Math:

This will be our third year using Kathy Richardson’s series, and although next year we will probably delve into all 3 books, the main focus will be on the newer content of addition and subtraction in book 2. Noah has always enjoyed our math lessons from these books because they are hands on, full of variety, and the author really does understand how kids develop number concepts. You can find all kinds of sample lessons from the Pre-K book and Book 1 in “monthly lesson plans” under “categories” on our homepage.

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      Math Extra:

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The Arts:

“…..the appreciation of the humanities (culture) is not a luxury, a tidbit, to be given to children now and then, but their very bread of life.” –Charlotte Mason
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“…..we grow accustomed to what we are surrounded by. Our children’s sense of beauty and appreciation is being formed by what is around them. If they are surrounded by fast-talking, fast-moving cartoons or touched-up photos of pouty, anorexic young people, that is what they will get used to. That is what will cultivate their tastes, and soon that is what they will prefer because it is familiar. Picture study gives us a simple yet powerful tool to influence our children’s sense of beauty, to cultivate within them a taste for what is good. Charlotte Mason said that one of the parents’ jobs is “the cultivation of the power to appreciate, to enjoy, whatever is just, true, and beautiful in thought and expression.” –Simply Charlotte Mason

All Things Bright and Beautiful — Free art, music, and poetry appreciation studies all done for you at the blog All Things Bright and Beautiful! I am excited about this wonderful site provided by a Charlotte Mason homeschooling mom who simply wants to share in order to help other homeschooling families who may not have time or motivation for the artsy extras. It looks great, costs nothing, and so I think we will use her studies to beautify our homeschool mornings everyday at breakfast. I will also try to grab a book from the library containing works from the current artist being studied on All Things Bright and Beautiful so that all our picture study doesn’t have to be done on the computer. Next school year we may choose to study artists from the site that depict animals and nature, such as Robert Bateman and James Audubon, since we are really looking forward to starting up our own nature notebooks.

Living Audubon biography picture book

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We will also choose one poem a month to memorize and recite.

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Handicrafts:

Love that Charlotte includes handicrafts as a school subject! The American Boys Handy Book looks like it could be an interesting resource to use with Noah, but so far the plan is to keep using our “Activity Brainstorm Page“, which is listed on our homepage menu. The craft projects include holiday, seasonal, and themed ideas which are an ongoing collection of various ideas I admire while searching around on the internet. We are somewhat winging handicrafts because our family enjoys crafting, and I think we will always have our hands in projects whether they are assigned or not. Ideas conveniently, and sometimes inconveniently, abound as Noah never seems to stop thinking of things to make and do (nor do I).

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Reading (with Readers):

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Pathway Readers

Sweet readers that teach morals and spiritual values while providing insight into the life of the Amish people. First Steps and Days Go By are the readers we will use in kindergarten. I also pictured the other two readers we have been using. (Don’t forget SCM offers Delightful Reading if you are looking for a complete reading curriculum too. It worked well for us last year!)

       Reading Extras:

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Literature:

“Ideas must reach us directly from the mind of the thinker, and it is chiefly by the means of the books they have written that we get in touch with the best minds.” –Charlotte Mason

“For the books that we read aloud as a family, I do not require a narration. I want us to simply enjoy these classics together, to share the experience, to build memories, and to store up common ideas that knit our hearts together” –Simply Charlotte Mason

Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

         Literature Extras:

  • Librivox — free audiobooks, like My Bookhouse, take some of the pressure off mom having to read aloud all day! (just watch out for poor readers since audiobooks are read by volunteers). Lots of classic, well written books here since many older books can be found free in the public domain.

          Literature suggestions for boys from Hal and Melanie Young:

  • Jungle Doctor series by Paul White – Absolutely fascinating! Very respectful of the indigenous people without pulling punches toward their enslaving false religion. Exciting, funny, engaging.
  • Sugar Creek Gang series by Paul Hutchens – Based on his life growing up with six brothers, the Sugar Creek Gang is a great way to show your boys what it means to be a Christian as a boy. Fun, funny, enjoyable, an essential part of childhood in our family. The new series by Pauline Hutchens Wilson and Sandy Dengler is not as good. (I hear the audiobook is great)
  • Little Britches series by Ralph Moody – The poignant, entertaining story of a boy whose father dies after they move to the West and how he helps support his family and then himself. He doesn’t always do what’s right, but he learns better! Great read alouds!

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Handwriting:

We will be spontaneous in selecting sentences to copy for handwriting practice. I think copywork phrases can be successfully chosen from favorite selections in literature books, scripture verses, poems, nature studies, or hymns–especially ones that really stand out to us, or our children. This way handwriting is more personal and inspiring. Picking selections ourselves should really only take a few more minutes than using pre-selected selections in a copybook.

We will continue to use the Draw and Write Notebook from Handwriting Without Tears because I like the simple lines, and because it was the next logical step after using HWT Double Line Chalkboard for the past two years of preschool (which proved to be a really great way to learn how to write letters). These two products from HWT have worked great and were all we really needed for handwriting!  This is a picture of Noah’s last handwriting sample from Pre-K this year in the Draw and Write Notebook:

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Creation Science and Nature Study:

“He must live hours daily in the open air, and, as far as possible, in the country; must look and touch and listen; must be quick to note, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the manner of growth and fructification of every plant. He must be accustomed to ask why––Why does the wind blow? Why does the river flow? Why is a leaf-bud sticky? And do not hurry to answer his questions for him; let him think his difficulties out so far as his small experience will carry him. Above all, when you come to the rescue, let it not be in the ‘cut and dried’ formula of some miserable little text-book………As I have already tried to point out, to get this sort of instruction for himself is simply the nature of a child: the business of the parent is to afford him abundant and varied opportunities, and to direct his observations, so that, knowing little of the principles of scientific classification, he is, unconsciously, furnishing himself with the materials for such classification.”
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“This is the mother’s chance to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of a child, which shall germinate, blossom and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers.”
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“No-eyes comes home bored; he has seen nothing, been interested in nothing: while Eyes is all agog to discuss a hundred things that have interested him.”
–Charlotte Mason on Nature Study

I am thrilled about nature study! Outdoor Secrets is so very sweet for littles. And its so much fun getting out in the wild blue yonder on all kinds of outdoor adventures.

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Beautiful living books used with Outdoor Secrets Handbook.

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Field Guides and reference books for nature study/walks. I still need to get a lot more field guides.

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Nature Studies out in the field includes regularly notebooking a few words about intriguing nature finds, and learning to draw/paint one small find at a time with watercolor pencils, watercolors, or colored pencils. I plan to keep a notebook alongside Noah since Charlotte recommended mothers to experience notebooking alongside their children.

“Yes, you can take digital pictures instead or look at close-up illustrations on the Internet, but there is nothing that will encourage you to look so closely and carefully than trying to draw for yourself the object that you are looking at. Use the field guides to help you label your drawings. Over time you will gain at least a “nodding and naming acquaintance” with God’s creation in your yard. And that is time well spent.” (SCM)

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Highly acclaimed 106 Days of Creation and its companion books for whenever we finish Outdoor Secrets.

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Moody Science DVDS (set of 19)— I really want to get this set of great creation science videos!

        Science Extras:

        Nature Study Extras:

  • see “Fieldtrips” below for some fun local nature study ideas
  • Enature.com — Online Fieldguide to help ID all those nature finds
  • Great Living Books for young children that are free in the public domain:

……………..The Storybook of Science (Audiobook, E-book)
……………..Among the People Series (Audiobook, E-book)
……………..The Burgess Animal Book (Audiobook, E-book)
……………..The Burgess Bird Book (Audiobook, E-book)
……………..Arabella Buckley Books (Audiobook, E-book)

Fieldtrips:

Also see last year’s fieldtrip ideas, check bayareakidfun.com, and current East Bay Park Activities periodically for more fieldtrip ideas

Anytime Trips:

Discover and Go Program — Discounted museum admission offered through the library

Delta Discoveries — Every Saturday from 11am til 2pm at Big Break Regional Shoreline

Village Theatre in Danville — Preschool Performance Series

BMX Track at Memorial Park in San Ramon and Bike Park in Pleasanton

Diablo Rock Gym — Kids Weekend Belay

Worlds Biggest Dinosaurs — A creationist dinosaur museum in Southern California. See their recommended article and booklist.

Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos

Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek

Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland

anaturemom.com — a mom who blogs about fun bay area nature places to visit

On The Calendar Trips:

July

East Bay Parks Outdoor Discoveries — “Astro Summer” for ages 3-6

Family Theater Festival at Dean Lesher Center for the Arts

August

Japanese Cultural Festival August 10-11

California Symphony 6:30 pm Thursday, August 28th at Todos Santos Plaza (free)

September

Tarantula hikes on Mount Diablo

Visit an apple orchard in Apple Hill

October

Harvest Festival at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Fire station fieldtrip

November

Free homeschool days at Monterey Bay Aquarium (make reservations in Sept.)

Hike Stream Trail at Redwood Regional Park to find hibernating ladybugs

December

Visit creeks in winter to find frozen ice, and visit waterfalls after rainfall to find rushing waters (Noah’s ideas)

Attend a performance of The Nutcracker

January

Whale Watching at Point Reyes and other spots along the coast, early morning is best

Newt and Salamander walks hosted at various East Bay Parks, or get out right after a rain, and search in the stream behind Tilden’s Environmental Education Center (near Little Farm)

February

Monarchs for kids at Ardenwood Historic Farm; also can see monarchs over wintering at Pt. Pinole Regional Shoreline, Muir Beach, or Natural Bridges State Beach.

March

Johnny Appleseed Day at Ardenwood Historic Farm

Marsh Meander at Coyote Hills Regional Park

Daffodils and beautiful gardens at Fioli, a country estate in Woodside

April

Tadpoles in the creek at Round Valley Park

Sunol Regional Wilderness Spring Wildflower Festival

Bees/Honey tasting at Tilden

May

Search for ducklings, goslings, and their nests at Newhall Community Park

Bird Days provided by many East Bay Parks

Little Yosemite waterfall hike at Sunol Regional Wilderness

June

Butterfly Festival at Coyote Hills Regional park

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“The end result of a Charlotte Mason education is the children ‘find knowledge so delightful that it becomes a pursuit and source of happiness for a lifetime.” –Catherine Levinson

Love, Love, Love This Baby

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3rd Swing? Maybe 4th…..1st Picture (3rd Baby)

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Faith Did a Good Job With Her Watercolor, We Were All Happily Surprised

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An Honor to Have Tayler’s 94 Year Old Great Grandma Come to School One Day

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Tayler Loves How Her Family Drops By School Often

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We Crafted Gingerbread Boys to Help Us Retell the Story We Know Well

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Darling Little Lamb

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Girl Turning Brave

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Planting Our Garden

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Horseplay with Noah

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Cooking Project–Greek Honey Yogurt Mixed with Whip Cream and Topped with Dried Fruit, Toasted Coconut Flakes, Nutmeg, and Lime Zest

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Our Prayer Posters Serve as Visual Aids & Hang By Each Child’s Bed; I Love How Faith is Especially Faithful to Use Her Poster

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With Three Small Children I Think I Would Spend Every Last Second of My Day Cleaning and Cooking If It Weren’t for Help From Noah, My Right Hand Man

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I Guess Its Time for Some New Dress Up Clothes

Noah has never been into role playing until recently. Now he says he wants a Roman Soldier costume, an army uniform, an astronaut costume, a new fireman costume, and an armor of God/soldier of Christ costume. Oh my!

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An Easter Service Invitation for Our Neighbor

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Dying Easter Eggs

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Glittering Just a Few Eggs Was a Nice Touch

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 “Easter Eggs” From Our Chickens for Neighbor Lois

(She Has Moved Into Assisted Living Now and We Will Miss Her!)

The cute little basket we made from a pint sized cream carton and scrap book paper.

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Our Resurrection Egg Hunt At School

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Our Easter Garden Basket Tradition Was Revamped (And Thus Also Very Affordable) This Year

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We Invited Over This Wooly Hebrew Abba To Lead Our Messianic Passover Seder on Easter 😉

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Family Egg Hunt on Easter

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Book Lover

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Cutting Practice with Spiral Snakes

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Thanks Tayler, Cutting is Easier With Help

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Putting #1-59 in Order on Our Hundreds Chart

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Domino Addition

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Watering Our Sprouts

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“I am Sorry You Fell Down Faith,” Gift from Noah and Tayler, and then a minute later…..

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“I am Sorry You Tripped Over Me Tayler,” Gift From Faith (and Noah). A minute later Noah Gets hurt…..

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FYI: The Black Widow has a Brown Widow Cousin. Also pictured, the tiny harmless male Widow, killed by the female when Dean shook her web (all 3 found living under the kids’ sand table).

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My Sweet Attachment

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Special Nature Treasures Discovered: Leaf Skeleton and a Giant Puffball Mushroom

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My Chicken Girl

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Noah, “Mr. Eyes”, Found a Birds Nest in Our Side Yard

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Daniel Sitting by the Creek at Round Valley Park

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Noah Enjoys Throwing Boulders

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Water Snake!! Found by a calm, cool, and collected Mr. Eyes.

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Daniel Starting to Feel a Little Too at Home at the Creek

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So Much Fun Collecting Tadpoles and “Frog Eggs”!

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Bummer, Our Tadpoles Only Lived a Few Days 😦

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Scads of Snails in Our Yard…..Noah Follows a “Poop Trail” to Find Even More

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May Was Such a Fun Month of Art…..Color Mixing, Pantone Color Book, Painting Butterflies

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Noah’s Butterfly

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Noahs Second Butterfly

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 Very Pleased With Noah’s Final Butterfly Painting, Symmetry and Wing Shape being the Goals

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Our Method Of Achieving Symmetry: Freehand One Side, Trace the Other

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Color Mixing Involved Creating Lots of Shades of One Color; Tayler Mixing Up Shades of Green

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 Using Her Greens to Freehand a Butterfly

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Tayler’s Symmetrical Princess Like Butterfly

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 Two Families Blessed to Continually Experience the “World as Our Classroom”

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So Pleased with Kiddos Growth in the Area of Drawing; Noah’s “Train” and Faith’s “Family” for Grandma on Mother’s Day

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To My Shock, Chef Noah Decided to Pile Raisins On The Meatloaf When I Stepped Out of the Kitchen For a Minute (Believe it or Not, It Turned Out Quite Yummy)

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The Spiritual Side of Habit Training

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth” Psalm 127:4.

Psalm 127:4 makes me think of the role of the parent and the child in habit training. Through habit training, parents have the ability to aim their children while they are young towards the right targets, which will ultimately effect who their children become someday. Matthew Henry comments on Psalm 127:4, “Children who are young, may be directed aright to the mark, God’s glory, and the service of their generation; but when they are gone into the world, they are arrows out of the hand, it is too late to direct them then. But these arrows in the hand too often prove arrows in the heart, a grief to godly parents.”

How do you feel about your aim? Do you feel like your arrows are zig zagging all over unsure of their target? Are you yourself not sure where the target is? Habit training requires much spiritual perception–spiritually speaking, archers must be trained and skilled, and arrows must be sharp, in order for the target to be hit. Your child has a destiny and its up to you to help him or her find it. Do you remember how lost you felt after highschool or college as to what to do with your life? Or feeling like you just didn’t have what it took yet to start fulfilling your dreams? Can we save our own children from the same sad, and all too common, fate upon graduation?? I think we can if we are purposefully aiming our children like arrows: staying in prayer in order to know each child’s target (or prophetic destiny), and learning how to aim them there.

How We Are Aiming Our Arrows

When Noah was 1, I noticed that our prayers were focused on two goals: Noah being helpful and Noah being obedient. So we wrote it down as his Year 1 Goals and included some specific behaviors under each category/goal that we would like to see emerge. We found this practice to be so helpful that we do it every year now. So rather than praying haphazardly about the habits, character traits, and destiny of our children, we continue to develop yearly goals in these areas that we purposefully and consistently pray over and work towards. Most importantly, we select one scripture to pray for each goal. Our goals are founded on the Word of God because only scripture provides the divine supernatural power for change. Praying the Word of God, as opposed to our own words all the time, is very important. I John 5:14-15 tells us that if we pray in accordance with His will, which is His Word, and believe that He is hearing us pray His Word, then we will receive answers and results from our prayers. The Bible is full of people praying this way, by quoting other Scriptures. The word of God is alive and powerful. Words being alive is hard to imagine but it is true. God created the world and the universe by SPEAKING. When we speak the Word of God back to Him, we are praying in agreement with what He has already spoken, thereby releasing His power into our lives. Without this power our prayers and lives are empty, and habit training is frustrating.

Dean and I take each child’s birthday month to reflect on what goals we would love to see them achieve over the next year. We start by looking for areas of need in our children, researching scriptures that apply, selecting our favorites, and then over the next year, we regularly use those scriptures to “speak those things that are not as though they are” (Romans 4:17). We are bringing those qualities that do not yet exist in our children into existence through the creative power of the Word. We make each scripture personal by praying it with the child’s name, “Faith has a happy heart that does good like medicine,” or “Noah can do all things through Christ who strengthens him.” Now that our children are old enough to learn memory verses, we can even have our children open their mouths every day to speak God’s own powerful words over their lives, and together our prayers will avail much!

Standing on Promises of Truth

Dean and I have stood on scriptures for specific needs since we were dating and as a result we have seen God intervene many times. I can share a personal homeschool related example of how powerful the Word of God is to do what is sent to accomplish. Way back in October I taught our Little Lambs about standing on the promises of God. Perhaps you remember this blurb from our October lesson plans?: “October 9th–SHARING Bring a prepared scripture verse promise or two to Circle Time for you and your child to stand on together this month. Make it personal and based on your child’s needs. We will swap all our promises at school, and then faithfully hold each others needs close to our hearts in prayer this entire school year. Involve your child in praying over his or her friends and what they are believing for.”

This was one of the best God ideas of the whole school year!! I can not begin to tell you how instrumental Noah’s promises from last October have been to his development. One promise I chose for Noah was “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” in Philippians 4:13, and we have been praying it and confessing it ever since. Even still today, when a frustrating experience or activity causing feelings of insecurity happens to come up for Noah, rather than letting him bask in feelings of defeat, I suggest that we say his promise out loud with lots of faith.

See, the fact is ever since we started homeschool, Noah’s confidence level has been the biggest obstacle challenging our success. For the entire first year of school, more days than not, my three year old was very difficult to teach because he was whiny, clingy, tearful, frustrated, uncooperative, and having large outbursts of temper. Its not that he didn’t like school, but he was very insecure about it all–especially during Circle when we did Bible and delved into the most important content of the day. At Centers, I almost had to do the work for him as he didn’t even want to try an activity unless he was sitting on my lap and having his hand held through every step. I would get so frustrated because he made it very difficult to teach anything, plus I had a small group of kids attending Little Lambs at the time that I needed to attend to as well. I tried all sorts of things to try to remedy the problem, but nothing made a difference.

So after a year of going on like this, hoping things would get better, but not seeing any change, our October theme rolled around, and the Holy Spirit gave me the idea of sharing scripture promises at school. I was so ready to allow the power of scripture to do what I simply could not. We started confessing Noah’s promise in October, and by November, only one month later, I was elated to see how much things at school were smoothing out. It was like Noah’s fears were dissolving and the confident boy I always knew he could be, was finally emerging. He was becoming calm and peaceful at Circle Time, and happily diving into challenging activities at Center Time. Now days I can hardly believe the confidence struggles we used to have in homeschool because there are no signs of it in my little boy anymore. Praise God!!! The fact was that Noah was a fearful boy, but the truth is, he is a confident boy (in Christ). Chalking up his changes to maturity or experience or coincidence is what some people would do. But I know that I know that change in Noah aligned with our “Standing on the Promises” theme last October, and there was a spiritual breakthrough that definitely happened as we stood on the amazing Word of God.

The wonderful news is that all the children have benefited from their promises. Boy did our Faith need her promise last October: “A happy heart does good like medicine” Proverbs 17:22. What a change we have seen in Faith!! I was just telling someone the other day that the terrible two’s has just not been the case for Faith (she turned two last October). Everyday at nap I pray Tayler’s promise with her, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you” Psalms 32:8, and she is certainly going in the direction of the Lord this year! The truth is becoming the facts as we stand on the Word of God.

Let the Enemy Know You are Serious

The Bible says, Be serious! Be alert! Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Let him know that he may not devour your family up with mounds of bad habits! Be watchful against his snares and attempted assaults against your children. He is called our enemy because he resists all our efforts to obey God and the salvation of our souls. However, the enemy shivers when he hears the Word of God come out of our mouths. Jesus, when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, quoted scripture to him in order to defeat him. The Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword according to Hebrews 4:12. It is described as the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6:17 where Paul is speaking to us about the armor of God and it’s place in enabling us to be able to fight and stand against the wiles of the devil during times of spiritual warfare.

Don’t allow the enemy to mound and compound problems onto your children year by year by taking the mindset that this is just how things are, or this is just how my child is. Think about the average 18 year old you know and how encumbered they are with a load of bad habits and personal issues, compared to your light and unencumbered preschooler. Satan’s influence being silent and cunning, exerts a stronger grip over our children through the years if parents do not stand on watchful guard, using the Word to fight off every unwanted attitude, habit, and circumstance that creep into their family’s lives. (We can expect our child’s needs to grow as our child grows, and so our list of goals may grow too. Just take a look Noah’s growing list of needs already at age 4 compared to Faith’s at age 2 on the list below). The way satan does his work in parents is by planting the thought that things are the way they are. “My kids just get sick all winter, my daughter just does what she wants to do, my son is just aloof to people he doesn’t know, my daughter just has a bad temper, my son just has a short attention span, my toddler is just uncooperative…….” These are the facts, but they are not the truth. Let the enemy know that you are serious about upholding the truth, whatever God’s Word says, in your family and he will have to back down.

Written Goals

This blog is my recording place of everything near and dear to me, a place for organizing Holy Spirit inspired thoughts so they will not be forgotten or lost, and a place to rejoice over hallmark moments of God’s glory in our lives. I have pulled some personal notes out of my journal to record on this blog for your sake as well as mine, the goals for our children that are near and dear to us. If you know us personally, or if you have it in your heart, we would love if you would consider upholding our children’s goals in prayer this year. If you don’t have written goals, or vision, for your children yet, I encourage you to write something down– writing vision makes it plain so that you may run with it (Habukkuk 2:2). And then please share your goals with us because we would love to agree with you in prayer too!

Faith’s Year 2 Goals

Happy

“A happy heart does good like medicine.” Proverbs 17:22

Calm and Peaceful

“…..agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

Taught of the Lord

“All your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children.” Isaiah 54:13

Helpful

“Do good to people who need help.” Proverbs 3:27

Cooperative

“Let them turn away from doing evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11

Noah’s Year 4 Goals

Confident

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Perfect Health

“You shall worship the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you.” Exodus 23:25

Educated

“Youths without blemish, well-favored in appearance and skillful in all wisdom, discernment, and understanding, apt in learning knowledge, competent to stand and serve in the kings palace.” Daniel 1:4

Selfless

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Restful Sleep

“….for He gives sleep to His beloved.” Psalms 127:2

Friendly to Everyone

“Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

Hungry for God

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Freedom from Generational Curses

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will our my spirit upon your descendents, and my blessing on your offspring.” Isaiah 44:3

Preach for Christ

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  Isaiah 52:7

Happy 4th Birthday Tayler!

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Dying Easter Eggs with Vinegar and Food Coloring

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The Best Part Was Swirling the Colors Around in a Colander

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Tye Dye Easter Eggs

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Resurrection Egg Hunt Held Indoors Due to Rain

IMG_9611Symbolic Items Inside Each Egg Help Tell the Easter Story

I was so blessed that Noah had an answer each time we opened an egg and I asked, “What does this item remind you of from the Easter story in the Bible?” Last year he hardly knew what any of the items in the eggs stood for, except the cross. I had been reading/retelling the Easter story over several days prior to our Resurrection Egg hunt, challenging a 4 year old’s comprehension by using my adult Bible. However, his comments during the egg hunt proved he had been listening and comprehending!! I am so excited to realize that the Word of God is sinking into his heart, and to see that all our homeschool and family Bible training efforts are really paying off.

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Tayler Gets the Cross Again! So Special and Reminiscent of Last Years Picture.

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Math: Copy a Design Math Lesson Was a PERFECT Challenge

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Look Its a Little Girl!

Tayler was having some trouble coming up with designs–in fact on Tuesday her design was simply one hexagon with one triangle on top. Look what happened on Thursday, her second attempt! At first it seemed like she was building a design that didn’t seem to have much drawing power, symmetry, repetition, or anything, and then lo and behold, she says, “Its a girl!” I had to think for a second, turn the paper so the red pigtails were on top, and wa-lah! There she was. It was a delightful moment! As copying a design is always harder than building, Tayler presented herself quite a challenge when it came to pasting time. She barely made it through the activity, but Miss Lynn encouraged her to finish in order that the habit of ‘finishing our work’ could be instilled. And here she is 20 minutes later all done– weary, but pleased!

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Handwriting: Noah Succeeded In Giving His b’s and d’s Fat Tummies

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Faith is Ready for Storytime (Our Helper Books are Now Her Favorites)

We have always done “booktime” in between lunch and nap, where the kids read books to themselves for half an hour, and then mommy might meander over to read a little something to someone when she gets the chance. I decided that I really need to work on making more read aloud time during the day and that it was a pity that too many of our wonderful themed books from the library were going unread at times. So I implemented a new routine in the day–storytime! The kids still do some booktime, reading books of their choice independently, as this is an important habit to cultivate. However, now I choose a lovely, well-written book to read to everyone at once during storytime. Everyone comes and lays down with blankets and stuffed animals on the carpet for a long enjoyable literature read aloud. Since my children are about to go off to dreamland, I feel that this is the perfect time of day to implement Charlotte’s admonishment to read “tales of the imagination, scenes laid in other lands and other times, heroic adventures, hairbreadth escapes, delicious fairy tales in which they are never roughly pulled up by the impossible–even where all is impossible, and they know it, and yet believe.” Before we had storytime as part of our schedule, I found that we would go through too many days of rushed, “pick a short one”, child selected lift the flap or count the objects or half finished books before bed without enough daily, intense, real, literature exposure. As you can see, by the third day of our new routine, the kids couldn’t wait for storytime, and even Faith readied herself on the carpet long before I announced “storytime!”

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Noah Transitions From Nap to Quiet Time

This is another one of my favorite recent changes to our daily schedule. I snuck into Noah’s room to snap a picture of him doing his quiet time activities on the first day we transitioned. Noah is now doing independent learning instead of tossing and turning for an hour and a half on his bed like he was previously. With Tayler and Faith constantly around to provide social play, I get concerned that Noah will have enough solitary play time, which is what feeds emergent learning. Emergent learning–initiative, interests, creative solitude and play, original ideas, imagination, reflection, independent momentum– is surprisingly much more important to the maturation and development of a child than social learning. I also see quiet time as an opportunity for independent spiritual growth, and so I try to emphasize to Noah that he is not alone during quiet time, Jesus is right there, and he can talk to him like a friend while he is playing–its him and Jesus time. Quiet time is very refreshing in a homeschool setting as its important for everyone to separate for a time and have some time to ourselves. I love quiet time. The end of afternoon naps does not have to mean the end of mom’s sanity or time of peace. We can schedule regular quiet time into the day no matter how old our children get. Its healthy for everyone!

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Habit Training at MY House

I pull in the garage from guitar lessons (after a quick stop at the grocery store) every Friday night, and who is flinging the garage door open with a big smile the second I park the car? My sweet little 2 year old Faithy, so happy to see mommy arriving home. Its like she hasn’t seen me in forever. Its the greeting I have always wanted, as Noah is usually the calm and cool “Oh, hey.”, type of guy. Sometimes Faith runs over to the car door, other times she stays at the garage door and keeps smiling big. Then she melts my heart because she purposely holds the door open for me while I come with grocery bags. As I approach, she stretches out her arms and quietly but eagerly says, “Here mommy, here mommy, here.” She wants to help me carry in my grocery bags! I have no idea where she got this from. No one else in our house holds the door for mommy or helps carry bags. I hand her a light weight bag which she can barely handle, but she tries with all her might to get it inside and keep holding the door open for me. Now she is muttering something softly in her high pitched voice like, “Its ok! Its ok! Its ok!” The same little thing she says when she is trying to comfort someone who got hurt or when something is difficult and she is soothing herself. She is a sweet blessing! I wanted to share that helper story to make you think about the blessings of your little helpers at home.

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If you noticed on our March lesson plans, the character trait, or habit, that we are working on is being a helper. Our habit forming themes provide a specific target to attach our faith to each month and believe God to do something extraordinary in that current area of focus. In February, the habit of focus was being kind and loving, in December, worshipful, in November, thankful. Our monthly themes are purposeful, and come from my 2013 masterplan that I drew up with the Lord’s guidance in order to give direction to our schooling month by month. I imagine that some of you may be following along with our monthly lesson plans, however loosely. I welcome any and all to come virtually be a part of Jesus’ Precious Little Lambs as you feel led! Whether you are working on the habit of helping right now as well, or one of your own selected character traits, I would love to hear about your habit training wisdom. How do you do habit training?

Today I will share with all you Little Lambs out there working on habit training, and anyone else who was inspired by my last post on habit training, my personal wisdom and a real life example of training at our house. I came up with a Helper assessment, or list of goals based on areas of need I have seen in my own children throughout the month in the area of being a helpful hard worker. These insights are God dropping things in my spirit bit by bit during the month as I am observing my children, looking for their strengths and weaknesses in being helpers, and taking mental notes of what I see. I love when God points something out in my child for me to pay attention to. It is really fun and personal to train up children with God’s amazing guidance in homeschool!! This special guidance is for every parent, not just me. God speaks habit training wisdom into the hearts of all parents seeking Him, as He is no respecter of persons. So just pray over our themes/your themes (whichever you are using, if any at all), put your faith out there, and see what He does. He is your habit training trainer!

The Kids Putting Away Noah’s Laundry

I absolutely love that Tayler enjoys helping Noah and Faith put their laundry away. They have been doing laundry all together on Mondays, which is cleaning day here, for almost a year now. They are almost independent with this chore by now, and that reward reminds me of how delightful habit training is. Noah likes to “save his laundry for [Monday] when Tayler can help”.

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Helper Assessment

Questions and Examples

1. Do I do my regular chores/jobs before being told?

-I get dressed and make my bed first thing before I am asked (what joy habit brings to a mother’s heart!)

2. Do I do what I am asked the FIRST time I am asked?

-I clean up the first time I am asked because waiting until the second time is disobedient

3. Do I have a happy heart when I am asked to help?

-I smile and say “yes mommy”, never frown or whine, and my face is cheerful while I am working

4. Do I work quickly?

-I don’t dawdle because hard workers enjoy doing tasks with all their might

5. Do I help even when “I don’t feel like it”?

-I don’t whine, “but I don’t feeeeel like it”, because feelings don’t always help us to do what we ought to/what is right, but the Word of God does help us. So what I do is start saying my promise/memory verses, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” or “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”, and strength to do what is right starts coming into me as I say it again and again with all my heart.

6. Am I thorough, or do I quit when the job is mostly done?

-I check every corner of the room I am cleaning up before deciding I am done. When I think I am done with a job, I always double check my work to make sure I did it all. (I will ask Noah, “Did you check your work?” when he is vacuuming under the dinner table for example.)

7. Do I go above and beyond what is expected in my work?

-If I am expected to wash my plate after a meal, I wash somebody else’s too. If I see food all over the sides of the sink while I am washing my plate, I make sure to clean up the sink while I am at it.

8. Am I always on the lookout for ways to be helpful?

-I go grab the hand vacuum and take care of some dirt that I see has appeared upon the floor, rather than walking by it and going about my business, or calling it to mommy’s attention to take care of.

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Drill the phrase: “Obedience is cheerful, immediate, and thorough!”

What are you working on with your child? What are your goals? We would love to hear!

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A little advice on putting any habit assessment you draw up to use at home. Write down/take mental notes of examples of how your child has met the above goals, and also ways she has fallen short. Use the information about her weaknesses to head off and prevent typical problem areas. For example, give a preventative reminder before the assigned chore to assist your child in succeeding: “remember to check your work when you are done” is better than noticing later that the job was not done thoroughly (again!), and calling her back in frustration to do the job right. Next, use your habit assessment observations to pray, and then to reach your child’s heart on the topic of being a helper during circle time/devotion time/heart to heart time. Your discussion will be insightful, personal, and applicable. Use your teaching time to both encourage (provide personal examples of how you have noticed her being an awesome helper), and to exhort (provide personal examples of how she could improve on being a good helper). Also, mention how the habit will benefit both herself and the family in the short term and long term. Finally, pray with your child about their areas of need. Your child will definitely be thinking about how to be a better helper after all this! Now just watch what happens and give God all the glory!

So Excited to Be Back at the Nature Park

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We Found Lots of Signs of Spring

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The Camera is Poised and Ready for Spontaneous Cute Poses

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Putting Our Backyard Vegetable Garden In

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Unbelievable!

I said, “which one did I write??,” in disbelief. Its hard to tell!

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Tips I Have Learned for Conducting Successful Handwriting Lessons:

-Use a chalkboard! Whether starting to print or do cursive, don’t let your child’s handwriting be chicken scratch on paper or the whiteboard. Remember my last post on habits? Everyday, your child is forming either chicken scratch habits or beautiful letter formation habits that may persist for a lifetime. The roughness of chalkboards provide the necessary tactile feedback for optimal letter formation.

-Use small chalk bits! Small writing utensils force children to use the correct tripod grip. An incorrect grip practiced for too long can be hard to change later. Even coloring matters–use small broken crayons to encourage the tripod grip. Always correct an incorrect grip so that a poor habit does not become engrained. When a child is ready to switch to pencil and paper for handwriting, do not use regular pencils or jumbo size kindergarten pencils, use golf size pencils. Small hands require small tools in order to write correctly. The weight of large pencils make the tripod grip more difficult.

-Two lines are the easiest format for writing. The standard three line kindergarten paper is very confusing for children, and very unnecessary. Make your own wide ruled two line paper if you want. Otherwise, two line paper, chalk bits, and two line chalkboards can be purchased at Handwriting without Tears.

-We choose to learn handwriting through one theme relevant word a month, rather than writing a string of letters one letter at a time, because it makes handwriting more meaningful. The children see that handwriting is for the purpose of making words which is for the purpose of reading. That is satisfying. We are in no hurry to try get all 26 letters covered in a certain time frame anyway.

-I started doing a mini lesson every time before the children write because I realized they need to be drilled in order to remember some things (and it makes handwriting practice go much smoother):

-I ask, “What letter comes first, next, next, last?,” to push them to recall the spelling of a word without looking at a reference. They were previously not remembering the spelling of a word after a whole month of practicing writing it.

-I ask, “Where does ‘b’ start?” “Now what do I do?” (go down, up, over, and around) “Where does ‘i’ start?” “Now what do I do?” and so on. The correct starting point of each letter is the hardest thing to remember about each letter and requires special mention every time.

-I point out an area of concern if necessary: today, Noah I want you to work on making your ‘b’ and ‘d’ bellies nice and fat rather than skinny. Today, Tayler I want you to make sure your letters don’t have too much space in between.

-During practice time, the children use my written word sample as a reference while they are writing, even tracing my letters on my chalkboard first if needed to recall directionality. But they do little tracing because usually after all this thorough instruction, they do not require me to write letter on their board to trace, they just take off writing all on their own!

Noah did Small and Big Sorting with our Button Collection

We have also sorted by number of holes, smooth and bumpy, wavy and not wavy (Tayler’s idea that made sense in her mind). See March math lesson plans for instructions

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Our New Favorite way to Build Words

The kids think it is so funny to spell out huge nonsense words and then have me read it. Today Noah used the whole alphabet, sounded it out himself which was great, and then he and Tayler cracked up like its the funniest thing ever. Even though I hardly ever picture it, we do word building on every school day (see Welcome Back to School post for word building information). The real word to build for today was ‘bus’. The kids are doing really great with hearing all the sounds in 3 letter words at this point in the year. So pleased!

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Word Building is Hilarious Stuff Lately

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Faith’s First Time Helping with Calendar

She noticed me preparing to do calendar time, and before the older kids could jump on being the helper, she started sliding her chair over to the calendar saying, “My turn!”

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