Viewpoints and Perspective

Sounds like I’m going to post about art, eh? Not really. This post is about taking in the world around me — and about literature.

We began working our way through the book “Life of Pi” this month and I must confess a certain reluctance. I expected it to be just some story about the survival of man and animal. I’m enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, especially since the movie trailer didn’t seem too inspiring. When TheRo picked this book to add to our reading list, I had no idea how much of a delight it would be to turn each page.

The Way I See It

What I find most intriguing is his interest in religion. His viewpoint and the way he perceives the world around him is so similar to my own, I find it truly amazing. And for some Christians, that’s probably a scary thought. No, I’m not rejecting what I know in my heart to be true. But I feel that truths are built upon experience which alters perspective. My vision of truth will differ from my neighbor’s. It makes giving my testimony and answering questions difficult. I overthink things, wonder how much to say, or whether I should say anything at all. I’m still filling in the blanks on my own viewpoint concerning religion, or in my case spirituality. I’ve already defined religion in pretty clear terms in my head. It’s really scary for me to share this with you. It’s almost like baring my soul. But what does that have to do with literature and homeschool?

In The Classroom

Back to the literature study, this is a great book to open discussions on worldview. When I was in high school, I took a worldview class during my senior year. I hated it. It was dry and boring. There was no life in it. I think since worldview is formed by experience, it’s better to find ways to incorporate the experiences of a variety of others to open discussions. For our family, and more specifically for me, worldview is born from a Christian upbringing. For my children, this will be similar. I’m enjoying the discussions about Piscine’s perspectives on the world around him.

“I don’t see why I can’t be all three. Mamaji has two passports. He’s Indian and French. Why can’t I be a Hindu, a Christian, and a Muslim?”Life of Pi by Yann Martel, ©2001 by Yann Martel

Help For A Daunting Task

Teaching about worldview can be daunting. If you’d like to read this book with your students and aren’t sure where to start for classroom discussions, you could try these websites. I’ve found them very helpful in jump-starting my own thoughts on a topic or book.

Matthew 7:7 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

cosmictiger-731195_1920-ID11682-1280x1280

 

A Good Start

What is your definition of “a good start” to the day? Is it a home-cooked farm-style breakfast? Is it a cup of coffee, some toast and a bit of quiet before the daily hustle and bustle begins? What about for your students? How do they describe what’s necessary to start the day well?

Our Good Start

For me, a good start includes:

  1. waking up between 8:00 and 8:30 am
  2. pouring myself a cup of coffee
  3. eating any kind of healthy breakfast food
  4. reading a morning devotional which is based on Bible scriptures
  5. and just lately, I’ve added in a short yoga session

For our girls, a good start includes:

  1. enough time to wake up slowly and, some days, a bit of breakfast (theShi)
  2. enough time for breakfast and a visit to Grannie’s (theRo)
  3. tending to the kitten’s needs
  4. a time of quiet for Bible reading, meditation, and journaling
  5. and sometimes they join me for yoga.

The Why Of It All

One of my parents, usually my mom, read a Bible-based devotional or story to my sister and me each evening before prayers and bedtime. This is something I wanted to pass on to my own children. But I was never really encouraged to do a personal Bible study time, or to write in a journal. Thinking back, I think such a practice would’ve been a great benefit. So now our children have time before school begins to do this.

In the beginning, I was choosing books for them both based on what I saw them saying and doing on a daily basis. That continued until this year. (I’m a little slow to change, I think.) I asked our oldest daughter what topic she’d like to focus on. She chose depression “because I have a lot of friends who have to deal with that.”

Did you know it’s possible to be happy, sad, and proud all at once? When your children display a concern for the well-being of others, it really helps a parent think they did at least some things correctly. I wrote about this last week but finally decided on this book instead.

I feel like this is where it all begins. Depression that hits most young people seems to begin when our hormones start firing off changes we have to get used to. Our moods are strangely affected and it’s hard to get it all straight. When others around us lash out with hurtful words and actions, it makes that burden heavier. This book seemed to focus on ways to overcome that negativity. When theShi has worked her way through to the end, I’ll ask for a review from her to share with you.

I didn’t offer a choice to our youngest. Though she is old enough to choose, there was a need in her life which I saw. I hoped to offer her encouragement to overcome the hardships. If offered a choice, she might choose something which would be interesting but not necessarily relevant to her own need. For her, I chose this book.

OK, I must confess. I had to read the entire cover to see who Sadie Robertson was. I’m not really a Duck Dynasty fan because I don’t enjoy watching reality TV. So I didn’t realize the ‘big name’ significance at first. But the topical studies for each week seemed directly aimed at things she was dealing with now. Some will be helpful for experiences she is certain to encounter in the near future. It’s a win as far as she is concerned because the section divisions are short, as are the question/answer spaces.

If you’d like to know what I read each morning, this is my list.

So Why Do You Do It?

It takes time to read through these things, meditate on them, and think about how it all applies to your life. So why do we take that time to do it? Well, for me, it’s a daily reminder of my purpose. It helps me focus on the character traits I want to practice more often. It encourages me to be a better version of myself. I encourage my girls to do the same.

When we focus on positive things, when we practice positivity, when we focus on how we can change ourselves in order to change the world around us, I think that’s the kind of encouragement this world needs. It won’t happen if I waste valuable time on empty activities. Positive change must start with me, with each of us.

I want to teach my students the importance of such a magnificent power. For us, that includes studying about the God of Abraham and Isaac, and the Messiah Yeshua who came to seek and save those who are lost. It includes prayer time and a time of meditation.

For you, it might look a little different. I’d like to hear how a good school day starts for your homeschool family. Please feel free to share any tips or ideas you find helpful! Thanks for taking the time to read today. You are loved and appreciated.

Buddha Quote 52017

I thought this was appropriate since daily life is a journey of truth-finding. I hope you enjoy the .png file which you are free to download. I made it at http://www.canva.com

Ephesians 3:16 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

16 I pray that from the treasures of his glory he will empower you with inner strength by his Spirit,

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Time For Some Shopping!

I usually spend most of the months of May and June shopping for curriculum. If you are one of the homeschool families who live close to where the conventions set up shop, then know that you are BLESSED! I live three hours from either of the two cities which are big enough to host a homeschool convention, but I’ve never heard of them doing so. And it seems like no matter where we live, we still manage to miss them for one reason or another.

“You are blessed!”

What Can You Do?

I do the next best thing. This year, I started a little early and compared prices from my go-to stores via the web. It looks like Christian Book Distributors is going to get most of our business. If you’ve never checked them out before, they offer a pretty nice selection of home education items. I don’t really shop at any store exclusively, and I much prefer shopping with smaller businesses. But the budget is king around here and I still need to make sure I stick to it.

I Like Devotional Books

A few years ago, I started implementing the use of journals to start each school day. Two years ago, I bought devotional books for each of our girls and encouraged them to include a time of Bible reading and meditation during that part of the day.

Our oldest is reading her way through the Bible. She’s not following any set of rules. She’s simply reading what she can in the allotted time. And best of all, she’s loving it! She’s in Deuteronomy and says it’s been her favorite book so far. She also has a heart for people who are hurting: those who struggle with depression, anxiety, self-esteem issues…these are the ones she hurts with. So I’m looking at these two books for her devotion time:

Both authors are well-known to me and I’m certain both of these books would benefit her.

Our youngest daughter is more active and easily distracted. I considered all the different things she likes to do. Surprisingly, I found devotionals for kids who enjoy cooking! Books with shorter meditations which include simple questions, blanks to fill in, or discussion questions are really good for her. I looked at these.

Whether you serve the same God as our family or follow a different path, a time of meditation is pretty important for your overall health.

Organizing That Stuff

How do you keep track of all the interesting curriculum choices you consider for your students? I usually handwrite my lists. Not only does it help me remember the items in the list, it gives me a written record I can go back to later if I have any questions or need to switch to something else. For my readers, I created a Curriculum Shopping List. You can either download a PDF file through the highlighted link below, or click on the png photo beneath it. If my worksheet doesn’t fit your needs, why not check out some of the other layouts in Canva to make one that does?

Curriculum Shopping ListCurriculum Shopping List

Psalm 63:6-7 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

(5) I am as satisfied as with rich food;
my mouth praises you with joy on my lips
(6) when I remember you on my bed
and meditate on you in the night watches.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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Tupper Museum Fieldtrip

Our kids ask us all the time, “What’s so important about learning history?” It’s a good question. Why is history important? One major reason might be to learn from the horrible mistakes that have been made. Unfortunately, the less emphasis we put on caring about those around us, the less inclined we are to make a positive difference in our world. We’ve conditioned our children to expect things to be handed to them without having to work for them. And this reflects directly in how they learn things.

“What’s so important about learning history?” – Most School Children

What Can We Do?

Field trips are an excellent way to give children a tangible view of history. We take them to museums of all kinds, from art to military to local history museums. This time we chose to visit the Tupper Museum in Jennings, LA. Upon walking into the gift shop door, we were warmly welcomed by the staff and directed to the doors of the museum. Mrs. Elaine was our informative and pleasant guide throughout the general store part of the museum. She taught us about the history of the store itself, and about all the different items which would’ve sat on the shelves during the many years the store was open. Our girls had the opportunity to gain a hands-on perspective, as well. We marveled at old tins of syrup made by one of the most well-known breweries in the USA and bottles of skin and hair care products made with coconut oil. Some of the items have been donated to the museum over the years but many of their displays are filled with original stock.

The back rooms of the general store house a museum where you can listen to and see the history of the telephone. This part of the museum is more hands-on. There are play areas for younger children and two old phone booths which have been connected so two visitors can speak to each other inside them. The story of the telephone unfolds as you walk through the area displays. Each booth has a push button which tells a part of the tale in English or in Cajun French. For me, the most interesting parts were the dress made of actual telephone book papers and the information on how hurricanes and floods affected the phone service back then.

In the gift shop, you’ll find Louisiana-themed items and local Louisiana products, art, and artisan crafts. They also sell old-time candy and toys. There’s a wide range of prices, so everyone can find something they like to bring home. And don’t forget to ask about the military discount if you are in the armed forces!

I created a handy pdf field trip planner for you guys today. Just click on the link to download your own copy. I know my post is late but with the field trip yesterday, it left little time for us to do anything else. I hope you find the planner useful.

Field Trip Planner

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” — J. R. R. Tolkien

Proverbs 1:5-6 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Someone who is already wise
will hear and learn still more;
someone who already understands
will gain the ability to counsel well;
he will understand proverbs, obscure expressions,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Encouragement

I sat down to blog today and was at a loss. I’ve been focusing so much on my book and what I need to do to market that since I’m doing all the publishing on my own. I haven’t been able to put much thought into this blog lately. I got discouraged thinking about how I fail in many ways and the spark of an idea started to grow.

Where I Look

When I get discouraged, I often turn to favorite scriptures or seek out encouraging quotes from famous people. One of my favorite sites for quotes is Brainy Quote. You can find a quote for any situation or circumstance at that site. It solidifies my belief that we humans are more alike than we are different. It’s also encouraging to know others have been through what I’m going through. Their particular circumstances may have been different, but their feelings were the same.

What Does This Mean For Our Home-School?

In home-school, it’s no different. We try things. We succeed or fail. We try new things to replace the failed things. And we do it again every year. The important thing for me to remember is to just keep going. I can’t stop when I’m up against a failure. Our children are worth more to us than that. It’s the reason we’re teaching them at home, after all.

Free Poster!

So I created another motivational poster for me and for you. These quotes really encouraged me today. While I am not Catholic, I can see the beauty in truths rightly spoken. I think it’s irresponsible to ignore a truth simply because someone not of your religious faith spoke it. I hope you gain some encouragement from this poster and enjoy using it in your own work room, school room, or personal space. Just click on it and download it for your own personal use.

_Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled Potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, b

You’ll find these quotes on this page at Brainy Quote. And if you don’t like the colors I chose for the poster, you can check out Canva.com to make your own.

2 Corinthians 12:9 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

but he told me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

Staying Positive

It’s hard to keep a positive attitude when everything around you seems to be swirling chaos. The spring has always been a time for me to re-focus my efforts on seeing school work through to the end of the school year. But we’ve gone through so many different changes in 2016-17. I think I’ll have to stretch some of those creative boundaries I talked about in last week’s post and rework the schedule once again.

Hoops To Jump Through

This week has also presented several challenges. I’ve been fighting a cold since last Friday and while it’s better today, it was rough for a while. All I want to do today is sleep. But that’s not an option. To stay positive, I’ve been focusing on things I truly enjoy working on, like my novel. I also enjoy playing Mancala with our youngest daughter. These types of things provide ample reward for the time and effort I put into my work as a mom, a teacher an artist, and now a writer.

Picking Yourself Up

To encourage myself to keep going, I made a nifty poster in Canva. Feel free to download it for your own encouragement.

DON'T QUIT

I made this simple encouragement poster in Canva. Feel free to download a copy for your own personal use or check out www.canva.com to make your own! 🙂

James 1:12 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

12 How blessed is the man who perseveres through temptation! For after he has passed the test, he will receive as his crown the Life which God has promised to those who love him.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

 

The Creative Teacher

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been teaching my children at home since 2000. When we first started out, we were working with a satellite school and my only task as a teacher was to make sure the assigned work was understood and completed. But once I started putting my own curriculum and lesson plans together, I needed to get a little bit more creative.

Choosing Curriculum

When choosing curriculum, I consider a lot of things. I finally narrowed it down to three main points of interest. I’ll share what works for our home-school situation. I can’t guarantee my method will work for you but if it does, I’d be happy.

Pay Attention

Watch your students. What things interest them? How do they learn best? What kinds of things challenge them? When you can answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what curriculum will work best for your student.

Interests

Interest-based learning is pretty amazing. I wish I’d known about it years ago. For our oldest, it really would have encouraged a love of learning. Our girls are benefiting from this now, though, and I see them actively researching things that interest them on their own. I do what I can to incorporate their interests into the curriculum choices. Our oldest daughter loves languages. I try to include some kind of foreign language lessons each year to encourage her to keep studying those. Our youngest daughter is interested in mechanics and how things work. I’m not much good at teaching that, so her brother lets her help him with minor car repairs and such. She’s learning in a hands-on way and it’ll stick with her. Which brings me to the second point.

Learning Style

How do your students learn best? Are they kinesthetic learners? Do they enjoy learning with clay, dominoes, or legos? Maybe your student is an auditory learner. Do songs and stories seem to help them retain the lesson? Perhaps your student is a visual learner. Do they like to read stories and instructions on their own? Does this help the lesson stay with them longer? Once you figure this out, you can add another dimension to choosing your curriculum. Here are a couple of articles for those who’d like to read a little more about this.

  1. What Is Your Child’s Learning Style? – from http://www.schoolfamily.com gives an easy to understand explanation of the topic.
  2. Learning Styles of Children – Learning Styles of Children – from http://www.education.com gives a more in-depth view into the topic.

Humans Need Challenges

Without challenges, life gets boring. And so does the home school setting. The trick is to find the point where your student is challenged, not pressured and stressed. Anyone who works in a stressful environment knows the detrimental effect it has on the mind and body. But if you do find the right balance, your student will gain a sense of self-respect and empowerment like no other. It stirs my soul to hear my girls say, “I got it!” with huge grins on their faces.

A Free Downloadable Poster

I created this nifty blog graphic in Canva. (It’s my first attempt! If you haven’t tried it, you might like to visit the site.) By narrowing down my keywords to three, I left plenty of room for options in our choice of curriculum. Using targeted questions that need only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer helps speed me along during school shopping, too. So here’s the poster and I hope you like it! What kinds of methods do you find helpful when choosing curriculum? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Choosing The Best Curriculum

I created this poster in Canva. You can download this one, or make one of your own at Canva. www.canva.com

2 Peter 1:5-7 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

February Literature

Our literature choice for February was Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express. I have to say it was one of the most delightful books I’ve read. I love the way it was written and how the story progressed. I found it different than any of the other mystery novels I’ve experienced.

Online Resources

To help us learn more about the author and the book, I found some helpful pdfs and a website online. I’d like to share those today for any teachers who may wish to use this book in their own homeschools.

  1. Activity Worksheet from Penguin Readers – I used this to help the girls review the book. I’d like to make a note: If you do not use the book published by Penguin, the chapters are numbered differently and the questions don’t always line up.
  2. A teacher’s guide from Harper Collins – This pdf is a very nice guide offering lots of options for projects and different kinds of writing exercises. I’d recommend it for 7th grade and up but it could definitely be used as a base to create work projects for younger grades. I didn’t use this teacher guide for MOTOE, but I did use a similar guide for further study of Beowulf. I like how these are set up.
  3. A lesson plan from Harper Collins – This pdf is the once I chose to use for project and activity assignments. I found the activities to be fun for the girls. It’s well thought out and easy to read and understand. I’d recommend it for middle grades and up.
  4. SparkNotes Murder on the Orient Express – I love using the literature pages on the SparkNotes website. Author bios, review questions, themes, discussion questions, quizzes, it’s all there. I use it mainly for the author bios and the chapter summaries but the quiz questions have come in handy for reviewing stories. I’ve used this site for Shakespeare and several other authors and their work. It’s great for middle school and up, in my opinion.

I hope these links will help someone out. I sometimes have difficulty finding free guides to teach the books I choose. I don’t always need bunches of help, but a place like SparkNotes offers a wealth of help for both students and teachers. If I can ease some of the stress by sharing the resources I’ve found, then I’m happy. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Acts 3:6 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Kefa said, “I don’t have silver, and I don’t have gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua of Natzeret, walk!”

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

the one bulb light stand alone

Braided Rug Project

One of the projects I added to our art and crafting list this year was a braided rug made from fabric scraps. I guess my love of braided rugs might’ve been instilled by my mother. My love of color and rustic things might’ve come from her, too. Either way, rugs play a pretty important role in our home so the project seemed a great fit in many ways.

The Rug Project I Chose For Us

I’m not sure where I found the original project idea. I’m fairly certain it was the All Free Sewing website. I’m not certain the pattern they have now is the same one I discovered years ago but the process looks similar. It isn’t a quick project. It could even be called tedious. But making a braided rug out of scrap fabric is something lasting a child can remember and hold onto for a long time. (If you click the link, please be aware the site will ask you to subscribe to their newsletter. Since I’m not sure you can see the page if you don’t subscribe, I added lots of other links at the bottom of the page for those who’d rather not.)

What Skills Does Rug Making Teach?

You might be asking what a child could learn from such a project. Here are a few possibilities.

  1. Fine motor skills: Braiding is a skill that could be useful to any person. If your little one has trouble with fine motor skills, this might be a fun way to encourage the refinement they need. Cutting strips of fabric is probably better left to the older student (middle or high school) or an adult. It’s good to have several people cutting and to take breaks. It’s a great lesson in how to pace yourself for large projects.
  2. Color matching: In my opinion, the fun of braided rugs is putting wild and crazy colors and patterns together. A young student could learn the names of different patterns. If you like the colors and patterns to match, you could teach a lesson on how the color wheel helps when you are trying to find coordinating colors.
  3. Patience: It’s a long project. You will be braiding your strips for a while. But the effort you and your student(s) put in will be rewarded in the end by a pretty and useful object.
  4. Sharing and Helping: At first, all young ones enjoy something new. If that something new takes too long to complete, they get bored easily. With this project, you can teach them how sharing and taking turns makes the job easier on everyone.
  5. Conservation: Since the project uses up fabric scraps, you can teach your students how even small bits can be put to good use. Being thrifty is a great way to be good stewards of our planet.

Our project is in the cutting stage now. It may be a while before we even get to start braiding. I’m having a blast cutting strips from scraps of fabric I’ve collected here and there over the years. I’m trying to stick with cotton because I think it will last a bit longer. I can’t wait to see what our rug will look like when it’s done!

2017-03-02-13-47-04

Photo by Melody Kittles – This basket is only part of the fabric scraps we’ll be using. The thinner strips could be used in the modified projects. You do not have my permission to download this photo and/or use it in any projects of any kind.

Other Methods For Making Rugs Out of Scraps

The first three links will open YouTube tutorials. The last link takes you to Wiki How where you can see three different methods of making rag rugs.

Make a tufted fabric scrap rug

Make a crocheted rug from t-shirt strips

Make a no-sew braided rug from t-shirt strips

Wiki How Article on 3 Ways to Make Rag Rugs (This article includes the method we’ll be using to create our braided rag rug (method 3).)

Here’s a link to a tutorial on making pompom rugs. I thought it looked really fun and simple. I know our youngest daughter would enjoy this project. Check it out on YouTube!

Modifications?

I like to modify projects once I figure out the basics. What about trying…

  1. potholders?
  2. placemats?
  3. coasters?

I hope you’ll give one of these rug projects a try.  If you do try one, or if you’ve already created a rug,  I’d love to hear about your experience. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read today.

Proverbs 31 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

19 She puts her hands to the staff with the flax;
        her fingers hold the spinning rod.
כ 20 She reaches out to embrace the poor
        and opens her arms to the needy.

ל 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
        since all of them are doubly clothed.
מ 22 She makes her own quilts;
        she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.