Summer Fishing Fun

Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Matthew 4:19 (NKJV)

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We have some fishing fun for you today! Since it is hot and summer time, your family may be sipping lemonade, orange juice and other beverages that come in a carton. How about turning those cartons into fishing fun for the kids?

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Joel and I were sitting by his wading pool one hot July day, when we came up with this idea.  We cut fish shapes from a lemonade carton, since the coating on the carton protects the fish in the wading pool.

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Then we fastened safety pins to the mouths of the fish.

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Finally, we tossed the fish in the wading pool.  Joel fished them out with his magnetic fishing pole.

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If you don’t have a fishing pole, you could attach a magnet from your fridge to a string on a stick.

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While we were making our fish, we talked about how Jesus liked to go fishing.  In fact, many of Jesus’ friends were fishermen.  Sometimes Jesus’ friends had trouble catching fish and Jesus would tell them to “throw the net on the other side of the boat.” Then they would catch so many fish the net would almost break.  How did Jesus know there were so many fish on the other side?

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Today’s TEA CUPP for homeschool moms:  Stay cool, recycle, have fun fishing, talk about Jesus. 

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You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  Deuteronomy 6:7 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

 

Favorite Home School Readers

pathway readersTeach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.  Psalm 86:11 (NKJV)

Which books do I still keep on my shelf after 20 years of homeschooling?  Please let me share them with you!

Today let’s look at our reading books.  I’m so thankful God started us on these readers with our first child, because they are the best!  I’ve tried other books over the years, and nothing compares with these Pathway Readers.  The books are for grades 1-8, and my only wish is that they had four more books to go through 12th grade!

From First Steps to Our Heritage, you will read stories about Amish families, like Peter and Rachel’s.  The black and white illustrations never show the people, just the scenery and animals.  But that doesn’t bother our children.  It lets them imagine what the characters look like.  Each story is a lesson in character building, as we read about boys and girls who try to do their chores and lessons and be good, just as we are trying to do at our house.  As we reach the upper grade books, we read more stories from history, some of the best collections I’ve seen.

The highlight of my morning is sitting on the sofa with my children, reading these books.  We especially enjoy taking turns reading pages.  This makes it easier for a slower reader.  The youngest play toys on the floor at our feet, enjoying the stories as well.  More than once a child has exclaimed, “I remember this story!”  when it came his year to read it in the book.  He really was listening when playing at our feet!

A special note, you can get the complete set of Pathway Readers right now from Timberdoodle.com for only $90.  That will be money well-spent.Millers

Another set of books we truly love are The Miller books by Mildred A. Martin.  These titles include Storytime and the Millers, School Days and the Millers, Wisdom and the Millers, Prudence and the Millers, Growing with the Millers, and Missionary Stories with the Millers.  The Miller family stories will stick with you and your children, long after the day is over.  I remember crying through many of the Missionary Stories, asking the kids to finish reading for me. Your children get to learn life lessons right along with the Miller children, as their parents bring them up in the Lord.

The entire set of Miller books is available from Milestonebooks.com right now for only $41.50.  Another great investment for your home school!

With Pathway Readers and Miller books as the core of your reading program, you won’t need much else.  However, it is always fun to sit as a family each evening, enjoying a classic read-aloud. So, next time I will share our favorite series and classics that are still on our bookshelf after 20 years of home school.

Until then, God bless your home school!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

A Preschool Day

Joel's day3So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

“What are we going to do today?”
“What’s next?”
“I have nothing to do.”
“Can I watch TV now?”
“When will you play a game with me?”

Do you have these same questions at your house?  Are you going bonkers, getting through a long day with your preschooler? How do you stop the questions, and keep the day moving in a smooth fashion, while getting all the chores done, too? Please let me share what works in our family.

More than 20 years ago, we had a 3-year old girl who was always hoping for play time and art time and watching Barney on TV.  Mommy wanted to do all those things, but I also had chores and errands and meals to fit into the day.  So, I came up with a way for our daughter to see her day at a glance, knowing that her favorite activities would be coming soon.

We had a stack of Family Fun magazines at the time, so I cut out photos and cartoons of kids doing various activities, such as reading books, going to the park, eating lunch, etc.  I glued these clippings onto note cards and strung them up with clothespins, so our daughter could check the next activity.  Using clothespins made it easy to rearrange the note cards with each new day.Joel's day

A few years later, we also had a little boy who wanted to know the daily plan, but first I needed the chores to be completed.  So I took photos of the kids doing jobs around the house, from feeding the cat to sweeping the kitchen.  I cut the photos into star shapes, put magnets on the back, and arranged them on the refrigerator.  When each chore was completed, it was put into a special envelope.  When all the jobs were finished, it was play time.

I used the star chores again with our third child. When he completed all the stars for the day, he received a “star-buck” good for buying a prize at the “Mom Buck” store once a week.  Now he is almost 16 and would prefer Starbucks over one of mom’s star-bucks :-).

With our fourth child, we have made the stars a combination of chores and activities, so he can see the whole day at a glance.  Each morning I rearrange and exchange the stars to show our plan.  Joel’s day usually starts with feeding the cat, eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing his teeth, making his bed, and doing an extra chore.  Then it is school time where he plays with Mommy, has stories, does a craft, and eats lunch.

After lunch, Joel heads outside for swings or sandbox, then comes in for a PBS Kids show.  The late afternoon brings Legos or a project with Daddy.  Dinner is followed by bath time, stories, and a bedtime prayer.  Joel is so used to his schedule that he will remind me, “Mommy, you have to do my schedule!”  He will even get sneaky and switch “pick-up toys” with “reading stories” so he can skip clean-up time. But Mommy is wise to this!

Joel's day2Over the years I’ve found our star chores and schedules can be used even into the early elementary years.  When the kids have outgrown the photos, it is time to start a regular lesson book (about third or fourth grade).  By then the kids have such a good routine, they know just what to do.  I hope this will help answer the preschool questions at your house!

Apply your heart to instruction,
And your ears to words of knowledge.  Proverbs 23:12 (NKJV)

This article is the second in my Home School Tea Time series, sharing a few things God has taught me in our 20 years-and-counting home school journey.  Today’s message helps you plan your preschooler’s or early elementary student’s day. Be blessed and be a blessing!

New King James Version (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

My Home School Story

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Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

The other day I realized, we’ve been home-schooling for 20 years!  This is 2016, and in 1996, when our daughter was in first grade, we began to home school.  There have been many ups and downs these 20 years, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  This story is how God called us to home school our children.  Perhaps He is calling you, too, and you are wondering how to get started.  I hope my home school story helps you…

We have four children on earth and three in heaven.  When our oldest two kids were ages three years and four months, we moved to a new state.  We were blessed to meet other families with young children who all had the same question for us, “Are you going to home school?”

I hadn’t even considered home school! But when the third person asked me, I thought perhaps God wanted me to look into it.  Our daughter attended preschool at our church when she was four. That whole year we prayed about whether she should go to kindergarten the next fall, or not.  When August rolled around, we still didn’t have an answer.

A friend was hoping to build a new house and told me the story of seeing a double rainbow right over their property; she took that as a “go” sign from God.  I prayed for God to give us a sign about school for our daughter. The next Sunday at church, the pastor announced that the new principal at our daughter’s school was a church member.  We took that as the sign, and sent our daughter off to kindergarten.  It was very hard to put our sweet, curly-haired girl on the school bus, just two weeks after her fifth birthday.

Our daughter attended a large rural school, where students came from all walks of life.  The teachers did their best to help the kids succeed, but they only had so much time for each one.  It seemed we were doing more with our daughter on the afternoons and weekends than she was doing during her school hours.  We would read stories, paint pictures, go for nature hikes, visit the zoo, write our own stories…I wasn’t sure why I needed to send her off on the bus each morning.  So, at the end of her kindergarten year, we decided to home school.

I remember my dad asking how long we would be home schooling.  I didn’t know at the time, but I thought a few years, at least. I often wondered why God wanted us to have that one year in public school, and perhaps it was to solidify our decision. Now, 20 years later, we’re still home schooling and about to start our four-year old on the journey, as well.  What have I learned in these 20 years?  Let me share a bit with you…

I’ve learned I’m not cut out for this!  Seriously, that’s what so many moms tell me, “I could never do that.  I don’t have the patience.”  My family will tell you I run out of patience, too.  But I keep on going because this is God’s calling.  If you’re going to home school, you really have to jump in and do it and never quit.  There will be good days and bad days, good years and bad years.  But in the end, you will be so glad you stuck with it.

I’ve learned that kids grow up way to fast, and home school is the best way to spend time together.  Yes, it’s true.  Our daughter is now 25 years old, a college graduate, working on a masters degree and expecting her first baby.  Our oldest son is now 22 and finishing a degree in mechanical engineering.  We are so thankful to still have our 15-year old son and our four-year old son at home!  The times I cherish the most are when we sit on the sofa together and read stories.  There is nothing cozier and more special than that!

I’ve learned that Daddy is a great help with home school.  Yes, moms, be sure to get dads involved.  Many times I was sure the kids learned more from doing a wood-working project or science experiment with Daddy, than all the months of book work they did with me.  It is so good to have Daddy on board and supporting the whole home school.  We like having Daddy help us start each day with prayer and devotion at breakfast before he heads off to work.  Often he’ll come home early to do a project, giving me a break, too.

I’ve learned to use the library.  When we first started home school, we had a very small income with no room for extras.  I took my two little ones to the library every week, where we checked out a huge stack of books.  We would spend the week reading them together.  Sometimes we would have a theme such as Africa or the circus, but other times it was just a random collection of stories.  You don’t need “real” curriculum until the kids are in fourth grade.

I’ve learned there is math all around.  Our most favorite thing to do for math is to bake cookies.  We double the recipe or use the wrong size measuring cup, just to do a little more math in our heads.  All my kids know how to make cookies!  There is also math on the calendar, the clock, the thermometer, the speedometer, the ruler, the calculator, the grocery store, in counting objects, and the list goes on!  I start my kids on Saxon Math in 4th grade, but before that we just work on facts, telling time, making up word problems, and an occasional work book from Walmart :-).

I’ve learned 4H has great lessons for kids.  From animals to sewing to cooking to wood-working to mechanics to photography to robotics to electricity…you name it!  If your kids join a local 4H club, they can sign up for any of these activities and receive detailed activity books.  Youth in 4H also learn great life lessons such as record-keeping, organization, goal-setting, community service and leadership.

I’ve learned what works for one might not work for all. But I still might use it, because I like it! There are certain books I love that I use for all our kids.  Pathway Readers and The Millers books have some of the best family stories and lessons. Other curriculum, such as Jensen Grammar for high school, I gave up on the third child.  Sorry, Mr. Jensen, we just couldn’t do grammar any more!

I’ve learned to ask friends for ideas.  Our town has a loose-knit home school group.  There is probably a group in your area, too.  In bigger towns, families get together to share lessons in a co-op fashion.  Our group passes around used books and shares tips on Facebook.  One friend and I used the same high school curriculum, and cried on each others’ shoulders every quarter when it was time to send in the school work.  It’s good to have a home school friend!

I’ve learned to make Jesus first and last.   Our days begin with prayer and an Our Daily Bread devotion at breakfast.  Our days end with the kids being tucked into bed with a prayer, too.  We know we aren’t perfect, but we ask Jesus to guide us in our lessons and activities throughout the day. Start and end your days with Jesus, and let Him fill your moments in between, too.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.