Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Works for Me... Science

I have often joked over the last few years that I needed a very special science curriculum. Not only did I need one that was scientifically accurate and presented from a Christian perspective, but I also needed one that would be suitable for us to do as a family... AND... one that would either teach for me or motivate me enough to actually include science in our routine!

I know, I know... my husband is a Biology/ General Science teacher! How could I not like science? Why do you think we got married? He helped me in the sciences, and I wrote his papers for him! :) Just kidding! (sort of!)

I don't think I ever had a science teacher who spoke the ENGLISH language... they all spoke some unfamiliar tongue that I did NOT understand! Consequently, I have had a lack of motivation, interest, whatever... in the area of teaching science. This is not something I am proud of, especially since all four (3 youngest, esp.) of my children LOVE anything having to do with science.

This year in Excelsior, we started using Jeannie Fulbright's Exploring Creation series. EUREKA! WE'VE GOT IT! All four of my qualifications have been met... I am actually doing science... and understanding it! :) In addition, the textbook is only $22 on Amazon, and you only need one per family!
In case you didn't understand... I LOVE THIS SCIENCE PROGRAM!

The lessons are manageable, and there are corresponding notebook activities with each section. Students do narrations, nature study activities, and experiments (which are very simply laid out using household materials). Susanne, the kids science teacher at Excelsior, has also created fact sheets for each chapter. These have about 10 facts with the main points and terms explained, and I have them in our memory notebook to continue working on review.

I won't ramble forever, but I do want to give an example. I have never understood the concept of photosynthesis... I knew it involved some series of letters and numbers... Csomething + H2O, etc... However, thanks to Ms. Fulbright, the kids and I can have a discussion about the way a plant makes food!

I asked the girls to write a paragraph explaining photosynthesis in their own words. Here is what they wrote:

Sarah (I am correcting her spelling here... it is a science book, not a spelling program!)- "Photosynthesis is a process where the plant makes food. It pulls in CO2 and water and makes sugar and lets air out."

Hannah- Photosynthesis is a process in which the plants' leaves make food for the plant. The plant takes light, water, and CO2 to make sugar to feed the plant. when it does this, it also makes oxygen for us to breathe.

Monday, February 23, 2009

what works- routine

Over the past few years I have discovered that a routine works much better for me than a timed schedule. If I am going by a clock, I tend to become too consumed with staying on schedule and less likely to be a good mom! We have changed our routines several different times, but this year I have hit on something that works well for us.

Before the school day starts, I fill out a sheet of paper for the girls with all assignments for the day that can be done independently. We do a good bit of memory works, so this includes reviewing verses, science and history facts, and Latin. It also includes vocabulary or spelling, reading, handwriting (which is often copying a bible verse), and anything else that can be done.

After breakfast and morning chores, we head upstairs and everyone does math. I float among the kids, answering questions and being the morning task master. When math is completed, we move on to language. At this point, the girls begin independent work and Josh takes a break while I do phonics, spelling, and Latin with Will. When I finish with Will, he moves on to some independent work while I do phonics with Josh. Next, Josh and Will get a computer turn, and I do grammar and Latin with the girls.

Although math and language are the only two completed subjects by this point, it is often 10:30 or 11:00. I round up the troops, and we gather for Bible and memory work. We are reading through the New Testament, and it has been such a blessing to see the Lord using His Word to convict and hopefully begin to work in the hearts of our children. On to memory work...

I said that I don't have many innovative ideas, but I did recently have one "Aha!" kind of moment. Instead of pulling out Science, History, Art, Latin, and Bible folders when it was time to do memory stuff, I grabbed a 3 ring binder with some dividers and made sections for each subject that we have memory work. I keep this binder handy, and we often take it in the car with us. In it are copies of science facts, history facts, art history flashcards, Latin chants and prayers, our catechism, and memory verses.

During memory time, we spend about 15 minutes on cumulatively reviewing information we have learned thus far in the year and learning new bible verses.

After memory time, it is usually time for lunch break. I make lunch while the kids finish any independent work, clean up, or play. They eat, and I usually spend a few minutes on the computer or doing housework. Ideally, at this point in the day I keep intending to go ahead and make supper. I know it helps at supper time, but for some reason I have a difficult time doing this more than once a week.

After lunch break (we usually take about an hour), it's back upstairs for History, Literature, and Science. By the time we finish, it is time to get dressed and head to town to exercise. The kids take any work still not finished and a book, and we go to the Healthplex or track. When they finish their work, they get to watch PBS in the nursery for a little bit until I finish exercising. Then it is time for "Fit Kids," and they come exercise with me for an hour. We come home, have supper, and wind down our day...

Obviously this is a general routine... things come up, and schedules need to be adjusted. Wednesday is our favorite day because we usually have "pajama day." We don't exercise or go anywhere until it is time for church, and so the kids choose to stay in PJs most of the day while we do school and some extra cleaning in the afternoon. On Fridays we get up early and leave by 7:00 for Tupelo. I do all of my errands after lunch with the boys, while the girls are still in class.

Next year we have decided not to participate in Excelsior... I will probably use the next post to explain our reasoning, and then I will go on to discuss different curricula that have and have not worked for me.

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

works for me...

My friend Roan recently started doing "Works for Me Wednesday" a week or two ago, and she encouraged some of us to follow suit. I am often accused of working harder, not smarter... and I don't have a wealth of unique information to share with others. In fact, most everything I do that "works for me" has come directly from other friends of mine, like Roan or Laura.

One thing in particular that I learned from my friend Laura is this....

What works for me? My kids can! My children are still only 10, 9, 7, and 5, but I depend on them when it comes to chores and cleaning house!

They each have set daily chores- cleaning their rooms, keeping the house picked up, and folding and putting away their laundry (when it comes out of the dryer, I toss it into separate boxes for the kids- Josh's doesn't get folded too neatly, but close enough!)

They also have individual daily chores... Hannah and Sarah clean bathrooms ("daily spit shine"), unload dishwasher, scoop cat litter, and help with meals. Josh and Will take out trash, clean the van, bring in wood, and do other misc. things.

Once a week when we clean the house, they are indispensable! I get the kitchen, all of the windexing, and floors... the kids do baseboards, dusting, bathrooms, and many other things!

So, I don't have a lot of clever systems, but I have a clever crew! :)
I have been thinking a lot about school for next year lately, and I think the next several posts (I probably won't wait until next Wednesday) will be about what works for me (or doesn't) in the area of homeschool.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Last week

It was good to be at my kitchen table, drinking my cup of coffee and having my quiet time this morning. We have had a busy week! Last Tuesday night after fit kids, the children and I went to Memphis to spend a few days with my mom. We did school, visited my grandmother, went to Target and Costco (you can't go from New Albany to Memphis without making a stop at Target!), and ate at a delicious Mexican restaurant on Wednesday. On Thursday we did school and had lunch with my dad at his shop. The kids love going to "Papa's shop" because he lets them hang onto the crane and lifts them up and gives them tractor rides around the shop yard! (I wish I had my camera!) Both days we got to spend time with my sister and her two children, Evelyn and Levi. They are two and one... 13 months apart like my girls, and it is fun to be around them and remember how crazy things were only a few years ago!

Friday morning dawned early, as we left my mom's house at 5:45 in order to get to Friday school by 8:00! After school, we all (We had picked up Scott in New Albany, b/c he was headmaster on Friday.) headed down to the MS gulf coast to visit Scott's mom and stepdad for the weekend. They had a car that was flooded in Katrina... it had been totalled, but John is a mechanical whiz and fixed it up for Scott! What a blessing!

On Saturday, Scott and John worked all day on hanging drywall in his shop. Kay took the kids for a lovely walk on the beach... until... duh duh dum... attack of the killer gnats! :) While they were at the beach, I went into town and went for my long run. I made it 15 miles, and was able to keep an 8:30 pace. It always feels great... til I stop! :) Later that afternoon, Kay and I took the kids to see Hotel For Dogs... VERY CUTE movie, with a thrice-fold happy ending... kids get adopted, animals get adopted, and the condemned building gets a facelift!

We returned home Sunday evening, and got unpacked and ready for school this morning... speaking of .... I am running late....

Monday, February 9, 2009

You know you are from Memphis

I saw this group on Facebook last night and thought it was really funny... most of these are true! I cut and pasted it (and took out the really tacky ones with bad words) and posted it for all of my Memphis family members!


-When you see a liquor store on one side of the street and a church on the other side.

-Everyone you know either works at FedEx or has worked there.

-You knew not to go into Overton Park after dark.

-When our crime rate is something we strive to be tops in every year.

-The main attraction at the most expensive hotel are ducks

-You know a "cousin" of Justin Timberlake

-You know that MusicFest = Mudfest

-Prince Mongo & Jerry "The King" Lawler are on the Mayors ballot

-You went to the Mall of Murder, Ice Skated, and survived to tell about it!

-You have waited for 4 hours to get a drivers license or have your car inspected..

-You dont really care about the Grizzlies, but you love the TIGERS!

- Orange Mound to G'town you gotta represent.

-You know what real Barbecue is.

-Nonconnah means Autobahn

-You're scared of Germantown Cops

- Someone in your family has an Elvis story

-Your're proud of the number one violent crime rate Memphis holds. Because that means you survived living in Memphis.

-Our tap water is like your Evian.

-Our mayor does drugs, how hardcore is that?

-You drive like your gonna kill everyone else.

-You just call the Mississippi "The River."

- You didn't know that the Old Bridge and the New Bridge had names.

-You've had to switch the thermostat from heat to air in the same day

- You can say "Take Poplar" and get anywhere from anywhere.

-You know what is means to "Bleed blue and grey"

-You still call it Memphis State

-You know that if you live anywhere in the city limits you're only a street or two away from ghetto.

-Somebody says "201", the first thing that comes to mind aint got nothin to do with a clock. I bet you'd be hard pressed to find another city where everyone in the city knows the street address of the jail!

-You've had to explain to an out of towner while driving down I-40 that Bellevue is not an airport.

-You go to Raliegh and you know you'll hear gunshots, and simply say "Oh, someone got shot," like it's a common occurance.

-You speed everywhere, EXCEPT Bartlett and Germantown.

-You drive on the same road and it's name changes several times the further you go.

-You know there are at least seven Macon Roads, Kirby Roads, and Raliegh LaGranges.

-You know Corey B. Trotz's number by heart.

-Channel 3 is on YOUR side.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What am I doing?

"What am I doing?" This is a question that began running through my mind last week when a friend mentioned that their goal for the year for one of their children was character development. As I spent more time than usual at home this week, I became more and more aware that much of what I do is "just because," and not very thought out. In fact, many times I feel as though I am a mom "treading water" and just "surviving" or "going through the motions."

I think the reason I feel this way was made clear in this morning's message. Before I explain, please note that sometimes what I hear and what is said might not be exactly the same. In other words, what I walk away from the message with might not be the exact outline of the preacher, but I trust that the Lord is showing me what I need to glean...

Jordan Thomas, pastor of Grace Church in Memphis, preached this morning because John is in Wales. He preached on Psalm 26:4-9, primarily.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.....

When you said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You,
"Your face, O Lord I shall seek."
Do not hide Your face from me...

Speaking of the phrase, "Do not hide Your face from me," Jordan asked the following question:
Can we relate/ can we say that the worst thing God could ever grant would be the removal of the favor of God, or God hiding His face from us?

He went on to sat that if Christ is not Glorious to us, we are under the judgment of God... the apex judgment is that we would not see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

So, why is it that I allow myself to get so caught up in the JUNK of this world that I do not see the face of Jesus Christ, and I don't even realize I am being judged? Clyde Cranford wrote about how sometimes the things that are real (God, truth, Christ, eternity) do not seem real at all, and all the cares of the world seem so real and pressing that we can't look beyond them and remember the big picture. I feel like I fall into this trap so often...

Doing school, working out, cooking supper, cleaning the house... just doing it... but not remembering my purpose in the midst of it all.... what is my purpose, anyway?!

To glorify God and enjoy Him forever, I believe the saying goes... More specifically for me, I feel that the way I am to do that is to help and serve my husband and to point my children and others to Christ.

How can I go about the duties of the day and still do this? It is not TOO difficult to go through the day and not overtly, blatantly, obviously dishonor God. However, it is another matter altogether to go through the day, being dutiful as unto the Lord, worshipping Him as I fulfill obligations, and keeping my purpose in mind.

The solution is a clear one. Meditate on the Lord, seek His face, and dwell in His house. This involves more than a devotional time of Scripture reading in the morning. 4 Thoughts I need to apply:
1. Really thinking on Scripture, not just reading it before the kids wake up and interrupt me
2. Memorizing Scripture
3. Being more diligent about prayer, esp. praying through Scripture
4. Keeping Scripture in front of me more often throughout the day

One thing Jordan said that is so true... Christ got his theology from the Scripture, and He had clearly memorized LARGE portions, if not all of the Old Testament. This came from fellowship.... it doesn't automatically happen.

Practical ways I will apply this:
1. attaching pertinent verses to prayer requests
2. pulling out memory verse cards and putting them in different places in the house... BUT... not allowing them to just be junk on the wall or in the windowsill... actually reading them, thinking about them, and stirring myself to honor Christ more because of them.
3. Being more deliberate about the education of our children. I don't know exactly how this is going to look and/or if it will change much, but that is definitely something I want to think about and work on... probably a whole 'nother post.

Sorry this is the second rambling-type post in a row... it's my blog, it's Sunday afternoon, and I reserve that right! :) I will try to be more concise, informative, and include pictures next time! :)

Two good verses mentioned in the sermon:
Hebrews 1:3 says, "And he is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power."

Colossians 1 says, "He is the image of the the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation."