Letting Go of Picture Perfect

It's a scary thing to let go of that picture-perfect ideal. But I'm here to tell you that it is well worth it in the end.

I called them in, these boys of mine.  We were studying the tabernacle at the time.  Visions of this exquisite, picture-perfect, to-scale model of the tabernacle were floating around in my head like the one I created during my junior high years with my sisters.  That one that was put on display at church.  Yes, that one.

The boys were excited.  Spray paint and hot glue guns have a special allure, don’t they?

Boys huddled around as building commenced.  In almost reverential awe, each one picked up the small saw and proceeded to cut balsa wood posts for the courtyard.  I hovered over them, Bible in hand, to make sure that it was perfect.

But as I continued to step in, to adjust, to pause the building to consult our Bible and our awesome book on the Tabernacle, they drifted off one-by-one until I finally realized that I was the only one left building.

In frustration, I shouted for them to come back…  This is school for crying out loud.  And fun school at that. But it was too late.  They had lost interest and I had no one to blame but myself.  My obsession with the perfect model had killed their desire.

Letting Go of Perfection – My 2nd Chance!

As the project languished on the front room table, co-op day arrived and I was hosting.

My assignment for the morning – build a walk through replica of the tabernacle and the courtyard.  I told them to be creative.  Boys gave me skeptical looks.  Given how the last week had gone down, I think they expected me to give a lecture on mathematical scaling and beautiful pseudo-authenticity.  But I had come to my senses.  The purpose here was for them to work together, creatively utilizing items from around our home that could symbolize each aspect of the Jewish tabernacle and then give the two moms a tour.

They stuttered briefly, before flying outdoors chattering with their friends as they constructed their own version of the tabernacle.  It was a rousing success.  They had fun and flexed those creative muscles.  They made it their own.  And while these images may not wow anyone on Pinterest, they made it.  ALL.BY.THEMSELVES.

And that my friends, is powerful.
Learning about the Tabernacle: One of the best ways to review what your kids have learned is to have them create a walk-thru model of the tabernacle!Learning about the Tabernacle: One of the best ways to review what your kids have learned is to have them create a walk-thru model of the tabernacle!

Whether it is your high ideal or what seems like someone else’s beautiful reality, we must hold firm to holding things lightly, to letting go of that “perfect idea” and in this case look towards memory making and kid-involved learning rather than parent-driven perfection.

I’m a work-in-progress, but I’m thankful for lessons like this along the way that help me learn to let it go…

And that beautiful Tabernacle diorama? We never finished it.  I ended up throwing away all of the perfectly cut and painted posts, the half constructed tabernacle building, the hand-stitched coverings that the boys did make with the vivid, albeit crooked lines of scarlet and purple…  My friend on the other-hand utilized things she had lying around the house.  They used play dough and popsicle sticks. And it was awesome. Her kids loved it and her husband proudly posted pictures to Facebook.  Let go, my friends.  It’s totally worth it.

Kid-generated Tabernacle model

Astronaut Play = Soaring Dreams

Ignite a child's imagination and they will forever be learning... {Cool gift ideas for your young astronaut}The imagination is truly a wonderful thing…  Watching it unfold in each of my children has been one of my favorite parts of parenting.  Ignite a child’s imagination and they will forever be learning.

Back in 2009, Xander was getting into everything “space” related.  One day, he ran up to me to show off his latest costume which consisted of his sleeping bag backpack, a small laundry basket and dog ears that stood in for his headset.

Just days before he had announced that he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up.
He then asked me:
“Mom, when you grow up, do you want to be an astronaut too?”
Isn’t that “almost 5” age so magical?
This craze prompted the idea of gifting him a costume to further launch him into this imaginative phase.  The costume was a hit and continues to be worn by his two younger boys to this day.  It is a beautiful and extremely well made costume that has withstood the test of time.  As you can see from this picture below, he still had to be a little inventive with a helmet…
Amazing astronaut costume.  Pair it with a good book for a great gift combo!

The perfect gift combination for a kid who loves everything SPACE related! {Day 16 of a 31 day series on Gifts that Inspire Learning}

Well, fast forward a few more years and we were officially learning about astronomy in our studies.  These three boys of mine were obsessed yet again.  We discovered the book, Moon Shot, and fell in love.  I promptly went out and bought our family a copy.  It is a mesmerizing book that draws you into the drama and adventure of that first trip to the moon.  I couldn’t help but think about what a perfect gift combination it would make with our astronaut costume. Sometime in the last several years, our space-obsessed boys also received this Space Mission playset.  It has been played with so many times and still routinely comes out from time to time.

So here you go…

The perfect gift set for a kid who loves everything outerspace!

Orange Astronaut costume (it comes in white too)

Moon Shot: The Flight of Apollo 11

Space Shuttle Figurine Set

 

Blog Posts on our Astronomy Unit
InCognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom’s Secret Weapon {Comets}
Heroes in History and Faith: Johannes Kepler
Rainy Day Reading: More Astronomy Books
Why Shouldn’t We Look at the Sun: An Experiment

Woot!  I’ve made it past the half-way mark in this fun series!  

31 days of gift ideas that will spark and foster your children's love of learning and feed the imagination!

Rocky Vacation Learning and What I Discovered Along the Way…

Some ideas for Rock Study, but mostly thoughts on holding expectations lightly and enjoying the spontaneous learning opportunities w/out making too much of them.

Remember when I wrote about how my lesson plans were hijacked by curious kids?  We had so much fun that day exploring rocks which served to whet their appetite for our trip up north.  Or so I thought.

Have any of you ever experienced a sense of defeat or let-down when life {and learning} doesn’t go quite like we had dreamed it would?  I had all these grand plans of the fun we’d have and the books we’d read while on vacation.  {ok, ok, I know many of you are rolling your eyes…} Payson was indeed an amazing place for budding rockhounds.  The boys loved collecting rocks while we were out exploring.

 Rocks7

In my mind, I imagined that we’d traipse back to the cabin and sprawl on the floor pouring over rock books and identifying our treasures.  Naturally, this experience would elicit further curiosity that would then open up amazing opportunities to read about rocks in depth.  At this point, they’d go back outside with paper and pencil and meticulously label all of their rocks and astound me with the implementation of their new-found knowledge.

Yes, that is how it played out in my mind.

Our daydreams don’t always mirror reality.  In this case, mine didn’t.  And initially, it frustrated me.  For some reason, these three boys of mine did NOT want to sprawl on the floor pouring over books when there was the great outdoors to be conquered and games of chess and cards to be played.

Our rock walks were amazing.  The boys collected quite the stash.  Geodes were EVERYWHERE!  Keegan declared that the bench out front was our rock museum and they proceeded to sort and wash their rocks.  But the books…  They weren’t interested.  Dreams derailed…

As I thought about it, I realized yet again that I need to hold expectations lightly.  I learned two things about my family and how this adventure of learning tends to play out for us.

  • Vacation is not a time to have an acquisition of knowledge – at least not intentionally from me.
  • It can be a beautiful time of solidification of previously acquired knowledge through play and free exploration.
  • It can spark curiosity and a desire to learn more… But they may or may not want to follow up with that in a formal matter.

I learned that when I get frustrated, it’s important to step back for a little perspective.  Once I did this, I recognized the value in their explorations.  I appreciated the fun we had when we did spend an afternoon sorting out our rocks and trying to classify them in various ways.

I smiled at the memory of the boys checking to see how rock’s ‘cleaved’, as they smashed rocks with a hammer.

I remember the look of awe as they performed the acid/base test and watched for reactions of vinegar with various rocks.

And I realized that it was a really fruitful trip.  I just need to remember to hold my expectations loosely.

Rocks6  Rockscollage1

KONOS: Where Learning Comes to Life

A review of KONOS - a multi-level, literature-based, movement rich unit study.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was 8 years old.  My sisters and I had been busy playing outdoors and were coming in for a drink of water when we noticed our mom tracing circles of various dimensions.  Intrigued, I walked over and asked what she was doing.  She put down the protractor and with a sparkle in her eye told me that we were going to learn about the solar system that week and watercolor the planets.  We were quite taken with the idea and begged her to let us start painting right then!  She agreed and we proceeded to pour over books, making careful plans to properly represent each planet.  While we were busily painting, my dad walked inside.  He teasingly accused my mom of being quite the slave driver – making the kids do school, even on a Sunday.

My reply:

“Oh Dad, this isn’t school.  This is KONOS!”

My homeschool story began just over 27 years ago. As a very active, late-bloomer, I was floundering in school. My parents pulled me out half-way through first grade simply so they could teach me how to read.

Well, they kept going. A year and half later she discovered KONOS.  As an active, kinesthetic type of learner, I was the catalyst that thrust our family into choosing this out-of-the-box learning approach.  But all three of us girls flourished with this literature rich, hands-on learning approach despite our different learning styles (kinesthetic, visual and auditory).  We have a childhood filled with wonderful memories and a vast foundation of knowledge that really stuck due to the multi-sensory approach that KONOS provides.

I love science – especially neuroscience and the learning brain, in case you hadn’t figured out after my recent series on boosting brain power.  As my children approached school age, I knew I wanted my children to enjoy the benefits of these same wonderful learning experiences.  While I designed my own curriculum for preschool and kindergarten, we’ve turned to KONOS once again in recent years.   Can’t you just tell how excited we were when my mom handed me that saved set of KONOS 5.5 years ago?  {note the books hiding my pregnant w/ Trey belly}

KONOS getting passed onto the next generation

What is KONOS?

I love KONOS and the whole philosophy that it is built on – that children learn best by doing, and that your family can learn together, and that learning can be an enjoyable experience!  KONOS is the ‘grand-daddy of unit studies’ and has birthed most of the unit study programs currently on the market today. But several things set it apart from others.

  • Based around character traits. The overarching purpose is to develop godly character through studying various topics. We are learning about ORDERLINESS right now. Within this unit we explore and discover the order of our solar system, the beauty of the seasons as well as classification for plants, animals and rocks.
  • Promotes multi-level teaching. I love creating a home where we learn. When we are all delving into the same topic it goes a long way to promoting this lifestyle of learning as well as saving my sanity. Aside from math and language arts {phonics/spelling/grammar}, we do everything else together as a family. KONOS allows for the same activities to be done together as a family, but provides direction for differing writing assignments, books read and depth to which a topic is explored.
  • Combines living and library books with hands-on, ACTIVE activities. Many programs have crafts, but KONOS does an amazing job at getting entire bodies engaged in the learning process. Yes, I’m pretty passionate about movement and the role it plays in learning…
  • Includes all of the basics except for math, phonics/spelling, grammar. {Makes my life SO much easier!}
  • The timeline gives a visual picture of how ALL aspects of history fit together -scientific discoveries as well as political histories, etc.
  • Incorporates 5 D’s to motivate learners:

In order to motivate learners we need to let them do, discover, dramatize and dialogue BEFORE we move to drill!

The three colorful books I’m holding in the picture above are the 3 ‘original’ KONOS volumes – each containing different character traits and related topics for 2-3 years worth of study.   I love these main volumes because there is such a wealth of activities to choose from – especially when it comes to character development.  If you are like me and love to have lots of choices at your finger tips, than this is a treasure trove of wonderful ideas to help learning come alive and provide guidance for rich dialogue.

But sometimes there are seasons that are busier than others or you may be the type that prefers open-and-go instead of having more control to craft your own path.

KONOS-IN-A-BOX or BAG

This last semester, I decided to use one of the KONOS-in-a-box books.  I knew that I had a lot on my plate and was willing to lose some of the flexibility in planning that I like in order to pursue an easier route.  I have to say that I am so impressed with these curriculum books that go with the in-a-box or in-a-bag series!

KONOS Orderliness Curriculum

The main volumes have general lesson plans, but it still requires you to flip through the book.  The Obedience and Orderliness units were taken out of the main volumes, expanded and put into a daily lesson plan format.  This makes it so much easier to flip through the pages for that week and easily get an idea of what you are going to do.

Each week starts with the following components:

Weekly Objectivesgiving the big picture for the week.
People you will learn about – so you can know who to find maybe an extra biography on.
Vocabulary Words –  to be mindful to incorporate into your conversations and/or use as spelling words
Book Recommendations & Related Library Subjectsincluding dewey decimal search numbers
Additional Materials Needed – so you see at a glance what you might still need.

 KONOS Character Curriculum - everything except math and phonics - clearly laid out!

And then it lays everything out for each day of the week including a daily Bible, literature-analysis and creative writing lessons followed by the classic KONOS hands-on activities to reinforce what your family is reading about.  I wanted to make things extra easy for myself this year, delve a little deeper into astronomy and bring a Christian worldview into it, so we’ve utilized Apologia’s astronomy text.  It’s been a win-win for us to not wade through all of the evolution stuff from the library books plus the rich multi-sensory, movement rich activities from the KONOS Orderliness unit.

This is a perfect option for those wanting to pursue active unit-study-based learning, but want a little more direction along the way.  It is written in dialogue format and doesn’t assume prior knowledge.  You also have the option to order the whole curriculum in a box that includes the main books you’ll need as well as unusual art supplies – again making life easier.

I have to do a shout-out here because my mom, yes MY MOM, helped write the Russia KONOS-in-a-bag curriculum.  She undertook this labor of love while I was in college and wrote all of the Bible lessons and most of the activities that go with this unit.  I’m looking forward to doing this with my own kids in a few years!

A KONOS Curriculum GIVEAWAY!!!

And now to my favorite part!  I know most of us are in full-blown planning mode for next year.  This week you have the amazing opportunity to win a copy of one of the in-the-box or in-the-bag curriculum books!  This is a $65-75 dollar value and an ENTIRE SEMESTER’s worth {or more} of curriculum for EVERYONE in your familySound intriguing?

Jessica Hulcy wants to give away a copy of either the Orderliness, Obedience, Attentiveness, Africa or Russia curriculum books to one of my wonderful readers!   What do you need to do to enter?  Simply make your way over to the KONOS website and explore these five curriculum options and then come back and tell me which one your family would enjoy the most.  Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner and KONOS will send out a copy of one of these books! {note: this is for the curriculum book only, not the extra reading books, art supplies, timeline that comes with the box or bag kit.}

Giveaway for U.S. Residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
{click here to view this post and enter the giveaway}

Related Posts:

Incognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom’s Secret Weapon {showcasing some of our recent KONOS activities}

KONOS activites that I’ve blogged about

Cultivate Learning – my philosophy of education

Heritage History books <- my review of some amazing books that we now utilize in our KONOS studies.

DISCLOSURE: I was in no way compensated for this review.  I’ve owned this curriculum for years!  I get asked about it often and am thrilled that KONOS is providing a giveaway of a key ingredient in my homeschool home.

InCognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom’s Secret Weapon

As sunshine streamed in windows, last week found us sprawled out on the carpet, noses stuck in a {text}book.  I’m not much for text books, preferring living books.  But this semester we branch out.  We’ve coupled supplemental reading from Apologia’s Astronomy book with our KONOS activities.

We read with wonder about comets, asteroids and meteors.  We try to grasp the speed, the distance, the orbits. This wondering leads us to get up, move and create.  Inspired by our Orderliness Unit, we set out to make a comet. Boys pepper me with questions,  Can they launch it? How big will it be?  How will we make it steam?

Incognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom's Secret Weapon - painless and FREE!

I wonder along with them as we pull out crushed ice and place it in our zip lock bag.  We continue to think out loud as we search for the perfect rock for the center of our comet.  Thoughts are forgotten momentarily as fistfuls of sand get tossed at the bag of ice and rock and our comet gets stored in the freezer to re-freeze together into a nice sized ball.

Questions surface again.  Where will the smoke be?  They are fixated with smoke and don’t understand that this ‘smoke’ and ice are really the same thing.  I try to explain and falter.  Isn’t this the way it is sometimes?  Finding ways to help young one’s understand abstract concepts isn’t easy.  I see a glimmer of understanding in my 6.5 year old, but the youngest is still confused.  Explanations just aren’t cutting it.  As our comet forms, we pull out more ice and head to the stove so they can SEE that ice, water and steam are all the same.   This wasn’t on the lesson plans.  It was just the natural progression of talking and discovery.  It inevitably leads to more questions.

Incognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom's Secret Weapon Incognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom's Secret Weapon

Boys pull stools up to the stove and watch in awe as the pan full of ice cubes turns to a pan with water.  They play with the lid and capture steam only to find water droplets again…  They see with their eyes the transformation from solid to liquid to gas until the pan is empty. And they get it.

Now it is TEST TIME!

Incognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom's Secret WeaponIncognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom's Secret Weapon

Our comet is formed so we head outside.  We play around with dryer lint representing the steam.  They show me what direction the tail of the comet extends (always away from the sun), they walk out thin elliptical orbits around our ‘sun’.  And then grab the globe and contrast that with planetary orbits. They excitedly point out the ice, rock and sand.

Incognito Testing: A Homeschool Mom's Secret Weapon

I ask them more questions and we continue to discuss what they have learned.  It is ‘test time’ and they don’t even realize it.

I test them again, over the weekend as we read about the recent meteor in Russia…

Oh the power of dialogue and giving them opportunity to share what they are learning with others!

The final will come later when they will get the opportunity to explain what they’ve learned with Dad or maybe with a grandparent.  This is far more effective than any fill-in-the-blank test and yet mostly painless too. {That is unless, they can’t explain anything at which point, I have to swallow MY frustration and go back to reviewing and discussing what we’ve learned until they grasp it.} 

And tomorrow we get to explore some more.

astronaut gift set

Engaging the Senses Boosts Brain Power

An important reminder to engage the senses!  Harnessing the power of multi-sensory learning helps information stick!

Oh I had so much fun sharing about our ‘Brain Breaks’ a few days ago and it’s been wonderful to hear how helpful these ideas have been to you all!  While there are certainly times in our day where we need to get some seat work done, I love incorporating a multi-sensory, hands-on component to most of our learning so that the brain boosting benefits are built into the learning process.

Why Multi-Sensory Learning Works!

If we want to optimize learning, we need to involve the senses – hearing, sight, touch, even smell and taste. The more we diversify sensory input, the greater the impact on learning because we are diversifying connections in the brain.

Engaging the senses boosts brainpower!  Embrace the power of experience in the learning process!

For instance, if we are learning about George Washington, it helps to not just have me tell them about him, but to read engaging ‘living books’ about him and to inspect pictorial representations. If we want to strengthen the learning impact, dressing up and getting our bodies involved by dramatizing the crossing of the Delaware or making his favorite breakfast will not only increase the connection points in their mind, but solidify it into long-term memory.

Or if you are studying geography, it is helpful to not only look at a map, but to draw your own, to get your whole body involved in exploring continents. The memory my boys have of playing with ice cubes and penguin figurines is etched into their memory. Anytime they get really cold {you have to understand, we are desert folk}, they start reminiscing about everything they know and all that they learned about Antarctica.  This happens every time we enter the cold veggie area at Costco. They’ve taken to referring to this room as the Antarctica of Costco and usually bring hands inside their shirts and waddle like penguins for affect. The ‘cold sensations’ that they feel triggers these memories.

Engage the senses.  It helps learning stick!

Instead of merely studying a picture of an ear and then turning around and filling in the blanks on a worksheet printable, it is making a crawl through of the ear or getting a hands-on wet look at why we have an auricle instead of just an ear canal…

It can be using math manipulative’s.  It could mean taking your spelling practice outside and using ice cubes.

Remember:

A fully engaged body ->

                  means the brain is better utilized ->

                                                               and learning sticks.

So What’s the Deal With Hands-On Learning:

A huge part of the brain is devoted to the hand and as such what we touch and handle with our two hands shapes our cognitive, emotional, linguistic and psychological development – hence the term ‘hands-on’ learning! Actually having REAL experiences matters and wires the brain far more effectively than merely ‘watching’ or ‘listening.’ Active engagement is needed!

And does this kind of learning stick? YES, even with the youngest in our families. We had a multi-sensory approach during my homeschool childhood years. I still remember clearly the day we spent at the park learning about the make-up of an atom. We dramatized atomic theory by taking turns being {negative} electrons whipping ‘angrily’ around a {positive} proton and a {neutral} neutron. We laughed as we got our whole bodies and even our emotions involved in the process. I was in 4th or 5th grade at the time. My baby sister was only 5.  About seven years later my mom was revisiting this topic with my sister. Evie calmly said she already had learned this and proceeded to explain about positive protons, negative electrons, and neutral neutrons with appropriate positive, negative and neutral facial expressions. While she still needed to learn about atomic theory in detail, she had retained a huge amount of information. We may sit down while we read or acquire information initially, but an action must be taken to anchor it into long-term working memory.

We have the ability to give our children an experience rich life where we read a lot and then optimize that information input by seeking experiences to solidify it.

So don’t just settle for passive information intake.

Seek out opportunity to engage the senses!

Tomorrow we’ll wrap up this series with some practical suggestions on transforming passive learning into active learning!

 Be sure to check out other posts in my 10 day series!

10 Days of Boosting Brain Power series! {Day 9: Engaging the Senses} Hopscotch-With-iHN-Spring

 

Presidential Breakfast!

Whew.  I’m coming up for air.  It has been a crazy couple of weeks as we’ve been settling into a new routine.  Our math books finally arrived and everything is in place to get back going 100%.

July and early August are usually more carefree days – full of free play, reading good books and birthday celebrating.  So I think we all tend to buck the need to return to routine.  I can’t really fault the kids since I made the unwise decision to start a novel midway through last week.  The boys were overjoyed when I fell apart on Friday. {I’m really bad when a book gets too exciting.} I discovered that during this season of my life novels are best suited for vacation time or at least for once our routine is better established.  The final two books in The Hunger Games trilogy will just have to wait a few weeks.  Rich is betting that I don’t hold out that long…  Hopefully his lack of faith in my {admittedly} paltry willpower will serve to get my competitive side going and hold out until Labor Day weekend.  He’s amazing at helping me in that area! 🙂

Despite all of this, we are persevering in pursuing routine and getting back in the swing of having an order to our days…

This summer, we’ve been delving deep into the founding of our country and naturally, the boys were drawn to this book, because for young boys that is such a compelling question.  I love books like this that have an engaging story, but also impart important content.  Not only did we learn things about George Washington’s life, but we also learned about the process and delight in researching the fascinating answers to our questions.

Books and breakfast!  What more could one ask for?  After discovering that George Washington typically ate Hoe Cakes and hot tea for breakfast, we decided to make some of our own!  I’m not sure if they had applesauce, but that is our pancake topping of choice and with all of the great deals on cherries, we threw in some of those too.

Because what is George Washington without the legend of his honesty in confessing to cutting down the cherry tree…

Since we read this book, we’ve discovered several other presidents who ate hoecakes too – making this a truly presidential breakfast! The boys were thrilled to make this connection.

For those that find the idea of a presidential breakfast intriguing, here’s our recipe:

Hoecakes
Ingredients
1 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of boiling water
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (Ok, lard would be more historically accurate.  But I just can’t do it.)


Directions:
1. Mix boiling water in with cornmeal and salt until thick batter is formed.
2. Allow it to cool for ten minutes, and then form patties.
3. Heat fat in skillet, and cook patties for a few minutes on each side.
Makes 8

How to Weather a Storm…

 

Boys gather at the front window, eager for that first glimpse of friends. Excited shrieks announce their arrival as I pour our summer batch of sand into the sandbox in the backyard. Not one but TWO grandma’s approach the front door with my friend Amanda’s children. {Remember Amanda? I asked you all to be praying for her.} Nearly 3 weeks following her massive stroke, we continue on with plans to co-op for the summer and look forward to when she will soon be able to join us on these learning adventures.

We embark on a journey into learning about WISDOM. What does it mean to be wise? How can one become wise? On this day, children’s voices sing out the parable of the Wise Man and the Foolish Man.  They sing of the importance of building on the rock.  Adult voices join in. We all sing.

Then we build…

Will rock really prove stronger than sand?  The kids are skeptical. The sand seemed to be working so well.  I  must admit, the wet plaster of paris (our ‘rock’ material) had us all a bit worried.  I remember back to my failed object lesson two years ago at Easter with the Resurrection Rolls when our marshmellow {Jesus} was still soggy and very present inside our little biscuit tomb…

When we returned an hour later bringing the ‘storms of life,’ the results were dramatic.

Houses built on sand quickly crumble.  Those embedded in rock stand firm.

As I stand back, surveying kids – eyes wide with wonder, my attention couldn’t help but turn to these two grandmothers who’ve built their lives on THE Rock.  They raised their families with a determined focus to direct them and surrender them to Jesus.  In turn, Amanda and her husband have built their family upon the Rock.  Love for Jesus permeates and influences everything they do.  And now, as this latest ‘storm’ has hit, they’ve been battered, but not beaten down.  They have stood strong because they have built into an ever strong foundation that holds them up and supports them no matter what life throws their way…

Isn’t life like that?  Sometimes it seems easier to build our lives on sand – a good job, our health, financial security, even family.  Maybe we’re used to it, sometimes we may witness quick results as the buildings of our life quickly spring up and look so good.  Building upon the rock looks different, can appear to take more effort and may not seem strong at first glance.  But when the storms of life hit, that is when we quickly see the value in steadily and faithfully building our lives with Jesus and His Word as our foundation.

The legacy of these two grandmothers has left a lasting mark in the lives of their children and grandchildren.  I’m reminded to dig deep in to the Word, seeking God daily.  No matter what life throws our way, with God’s help we can not only continue to grow, but also have an impact on those around us.  If I had any doubts about this, watching Amanda and her family confirmed God’s loving care and miraculous work in not only holding us steady, but in healing the body and ultimately healing hearts of those we know and love!

Amanda was released to go home the day after we built these ‘houses’.  She’s been home for a week.  While she still has a long road to recovery, God has been performing a mighty work.  The doctors are amazed at her progress.  One hadn’t seen a recovery like this in the 5 years that he had worked in that stroke trauma center…  And every time Amanda feels weak, the Holy Spirit reminds her that her strength doesn’t come from within herself, but from God on whom she stands -rooted and built up.  You can read her own words on this storm and God’s provision in her life!

So we dig deep and continue to hide God’s Word in our hearts.  We remember, as this parable instructs (Matt 7:24-27) to not only be hearers of the Word, but doers as well.  As the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, we continue each day to look to Jesus and live our lives to bring Him glory and reflect His work in our hearts.  And so we continue our quest as wisdom seekers!

Seek Him.

Do as He directs.

And so, weather the storm…

Of Pediatricians and Patriots

Of Pediatricians and Patriots: How a sensory and literature rich approach to education can make a difference.

We are knee deep in the middle of our nations fight for independence and the boys couldn’t be happier.  Last fall I picked up two pirate costumes at our PE groups clothing swap.  The red velvet jackets with gold braid are a favorite item being worn these days despite the temperatures approaching 100.  Our only two patriot ‘coats’ are a blue police jacket and my grandmother’s cardigan that has really cool engraved pewter buttons.  Buttons aside, the boys think it is a pretty boring stand-in.  But it has provided an opportunity for the them to realize the benefits of being a soldier of the king verses a patriot in a poor fledgling nation.

As we read about these men that made so many valiant sacrifices, they have also been drawn to the beautiful rhetoric.  Their ability to memorize, when motivated, never ceases to amaze me.

Recently, I took Treyton in for his 4 year old well-check.  This new pediatrician is especially thorough and started asking me all kinds of questions about his development.  As she started to ask about his knowledge of the 1,2,3’s and A,B,C’s I realized that I had come to the point, where I hadn’t really thought about it.  I nodded, indicating that he knew most of what she was asking about, but than explained a bit of my philosophy.

Skills like this come surprisingly easily in a home where there is a lot of interaction.  As I dole out a snack, he learned pretty quick how important it was to count.  Counting wasn’t merely something he memorized to please someone.  There was a lot riding on his understanding of 1-to-1 correspondence.  He could immediately spot that he only received 10 blueberries while his brothers had each snagged 20.

And don’t get me started on the ABC’s.  I mean really, what academic advantage does a child have if he can sing the ABC song?  Until he is ready to start alphabetizing, not much.  Now phonemic SOUNDS…  That is a whole different story.

As I sat there in my pediatricians office, I started to share with her the value in learning ABOUT things instead of merely memorizing and acquiring skills.  One of my goals in the early years is to nurture that natural curiosity and insatiable desire to explore the world around them.  Stoking the fire of inborn curiosity and protecting that natural love of learning is so crucial at this age.

For some reason our culture seems fixated on skill acquisition as if memorizing numbers from 1 to 20 (or 50 or 100) somehow indicates ‘giftedness’.  So much time is spent on trying to get kids reading or counting that could be utilized in far more effective and enjoyable ways.

I’m not sure how convinced she was, until I mentioned our current study of the Revolutionary War and how fascinated he is by it all.  He may or may not be able to recite his ABC’s in the correct order {I’ve never communicated that learning that was important}, but this kid of mine is soaking up so much.

I relayed how I was dialoging with my bigger boys, asking them which famous statesman from Virginia spoke these famous words,

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take,
but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” 

Treyton was trotting by {in costume, of course} and before the boys had a chance to respond, he glibly responded, “Patrick Henwy”.

The pediatrician just sat staring.

Then I told her that he was currently really into the life of Paul Revere and the events surrounding the battle of Lexington/Concord.  At this point, Treyton piped up and told her about Captain John Parker and his courageous words to the militia on the Lexington Green that day.

Rest assured, while she might think us a bit odd {and I’m totally ok with that}, I don’t think she is worried about his academic development.

Skills will come.  In fact, he’s acquiring them without even realizing it.  More important is that his love of learning -that God has placed in each young child, is alive and well.

After re-enacting the battle at Lexington and the ‘shot heard round the world,’ Treyton wanted me to record the battle for his cousins and grandparents. He is incredibly proud of his make-shift bayonet (a bamboo skewer) and the boys are loving their ‘gun smoke’ that they’ve created by filling their popguns with dirt. After reviewing this clip however, I’ve realized that we need to work on explaining the reality of guns that fire only one shot before needing to be carefully reloaded…

Want to get a few key costume pieces or book ideas for your study of the American Revolution?  Check out my gift guide.

Gifts that Spark a Love of Learning about the Revolutionary War

Learn to Play –> Play to Learn!

Any guesses as to what we’ve been reading about lately???
I just love how they bring it into their everyday play!

Boston Tea Party Time!