Homeschool Mother’s Journal: Our Week

HMJ-Logo-Landscape-500x337

This week has been a particularly busy week for the Lucero family. Our homeschooling was put on hold several weeks ago with our move to Texas, but our learning never gets put on hold. One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling is that we get to experience learning in everything we do.

Join me at So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler where I am sharing our fun filled week in the Homeschool Mother’s Journal!

The Battle is On

Lion 1 Peter 5:8 @ponderthepath

I was on the top rung of the ladder painting my living room ceiling when the conversation started. You know the one where I start talking to the audience in my head. “Ladies, we must be vigilant. Our adversary, the devil is walking around like a roaring lion seeing whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The longer you homeschool, you realize how seasonal homeschooling can be. Some years are planting years, and you spend your time getting the fields reading and planting the seeds. Other years are harvesting years when the fruit of your labor is gathered up.

The last couple of years have been a time of winter for our family. We have suffered hardships and have survived on the previous seasons bounty. And just as I am always so thrilled when the first hint of spring arrives, I have recently been renewed by the warmth of a new season of homeschooling on the horizon.

And with the dawn of this new season comes a strong zeal to do away with complacency and press forward with purpose and reason. We are in the midst of a battle and we are training up warriors for this battle.

The Battle

This weekend, I watched a rather long YouTube video of a recorded chat between 4 atheist. The reason for the chat was their concern with the fact that so many Christians (mostly homeschoolers) are teaching their children that God created the world in 6 literal days 6,000 years ago. One of the ladies stated that she felt that it was “immoral” for parents to teach this as truth.

We live in a society that believes women should have the right to kill their baby’s in the womb, but should not have the right to direct the learning of their children. We have millions of Americans fighting for same sex marriage stating that it has no effect on Christians (“their marriage doesn’t effect you”), and yet they want to dictate what I teach my child because finding a cure for AIDS depends on my child learning “real science”.

The Warriors

Back in 2006, there was a speaker at our church that was talking about creationism and the book of Genesis. I had never heard of the speaker before, nor had I heard anyone put all the pieces of the puzzle together like he did. He answered questions that I had had for years concerning dinosaurs and the different races of people and how animals change over time.

He presented information from Christian men and women who were scientist in all different fields. And he showed that each time true scientific methods are used, the truth of the Bible is always made clearer. Science never contradicts the Word of God and will always prove what the Bible says is true.

Over the years, I have listened to this man speak many times and am so thankful for men like Ken Ham who stand and speak the truth even when faced with adversity.

The Victory

Ken will be speaking at a homeschool convention this summer, where the aforementioned atheist group will be protesting. Their hope is to silence those of us who stand for Biblical truth. I am hoping to attend the convention, not because I like being in the middle of turmoil…I don’t.

In fact, I could very easily stay at home and think to myself, “This is a free country. They can’t tell me what to teach my children. Homeschooling is legal and always will be.” But the fact is, our freedoms will only remain intact if we are vigilant in standing up to the enemy. Hard earned freedoms will only remain if we work hard to keep them.

Should we fall back because of fear? Jesus tells us in Revelation 1:17 to “fear not” because He is the first and the last. How can we trust that the Lord will be the last, unless we believe with all our hearts that He was the first. He was the Creator God who spoke the world into existence in 6 literal days 6,000 years ago. And He is the one who holds the world in His hands and directs the paths of men. And because we know this, we can rest assured when He tells us to “fear not”.

Life with a Virus and an Eruption

We were in TX last week for my dad’s wedding and made it home just in time to jump in bed with the flu. After being down all week, I finally pulled myself out of bed yesterday and attempted to do something fun with the kids.

My sister had sent the four year old a DIY Volcano for Christmas. It was then that I realized I had never made a volcano with my kids…what a homeschool failure I have been! Anyhow, I had to explain to them how we made volcanos back in day. We didn’t have neat rolls of plaster, we had newspapers and flour and water. It was messy, took forever to dry, and was very heavy. Not to mention it probably caved in after one eruption!

Today’s volcanos are different. Using wet plaster strips that dry overnight, we have a rock hard volcano that is super lightweight, painted in tones of brown and green with a light glow-in-the-dark accent.

I must have really talked up the excitement of the volcano as it seems my description of “an explosion” didn’t quite match the fizzle that bubbled over the top of the volcano. Maybe it would have been more dramatic if I had put in red food coloring, but even then I think the four year old would have been disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t lava spewing out all over the dining room.

I tried to remedy the situation by making an explosive noise and shaking the table. The four year old suggested adding the entire box of baking soda next time.

Maybe we will.

Edited to add: We have since made our own volcanos from recycled bottles and paper mache. They didn’t turn out heavy like I remembered them and because we used a bigger bottle than the one from our DIY kit, we were able to experience a much more realistic explosion!

Planning for Life After Homeschooling: Graduation and Beyond

When my oldest daughter started high school, I really didn’t have a clue about how to plan for high school…much less anything beyond high school.  At that point, we were still in our guinea pig mode, trying to determine what was best for our family with lots of prayer and far too much trial and error.  I remember going through the “state requirements” and writing her list of classes based on those requirements.

Thankfully, she was a pretty straightforward case and completed her studies without too many struggles.  We had assumed that she would be attending college after high school (isn’t that what they are suppose to do!), so many of our decisions were based on this factor.  As the years went by, our thinking slowly began to change.  Maybe she didn’t need to go to college after all.  But a degree would be nice to have, just in case.

So then we began looking at College Plus and other alternative college methods.  Then during the middle of her Senior year, the Lord place a great desire on Kendra’s heart.  It wasn’t anything any of us had planned for.  It wasn’t anything we agonized over and wondered about.  Really, it was just a brief mention in a conversation.

“How about becoming a midwife?”

From that time on, the Lord got a hold of her heart and has been leading her on the journey He has planned for.  First, it was providing a Spanish class with a native Guatemalan teacher, who incorporated her knowledge of herbal medicine into her Spanish lessons.  Then there was the provision of a midwife with whom she can apprentice–the same one that delivered Cooper!  God has been so gracious in His leading her to become a midwife.  I would like to say that all my planning paid off, but honestly, I was planning based on a system that we are not part of.  I was trying to fit a round peg into a square whole.

So how do you plan to let the Lord lead your children where He would have them go?

First and foremost, you begin to pray that the Lord would use them any way He sees fit.  Then you watch and see where He leads, guiding them to keep them on the right path.  It reminds me of sewing.  You know how the machine pulls the fabric along, but we have to keep a close eye on the fabric and a steady hand guiding it to make sure the fabric is sewn at the right spot.  This is our job as parents, specifically homeschooling parents.  We are to guide our children, keeping a close eye on them and a steady hand leading them in the ways of the Lord.

There are several practical ways that we can plan on doing this:

Spriritually

From the youngest age possible, we need to be training up our children in the way they should go.

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

God has entrusted us with our children that we may train them up as warriors for Him. Think about that for a moment. A warrior. In my mind I think of William Wallace fighting for freedom in Scotland. If I knew that I would be sending my son or daughter into a William Wallace kind of battle, would the extent of their training be a 2 hour, once a week lesson. I don’t think so. So let’s not depend on one Sunday service a week to prepare our children for the spiritual battle they will face.

The first step should be daily Bible study and prayer, both together as a family and on their own. Bible studies and curriculum are nice, but nothing should replace simply reading the Word and letting the Holy Spirit dictate the lessons. We have printed off Bible reading checklists so that they could keep track of what they had read.

Other than the Bible, we have found Christian worldview books extremely profitable in teaching the kids to defend their faith. Answers in Genesis and Masters Books have several titles that have helped cement vital concepts into my childrens’ minds. Over the past year, we have had several opportunities to visit with non-Christian members of our family. My children were able to explain our beliefs very clearly because they were prepared. I don’t think they would have been able to be so articulate in their beliefs had we not made a conscience effort to train them in this area.

Financially

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.

For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?

The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.

The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field.

And thou shalt have goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Proverbs 27:23-27

Staying Out of Debt

When my husband and I were first married 20 years ago, his paycheck was $800 a month. Granted our rent was only $200 a month, but we still struggled greatly. We quickly found our way to credit cards and debt that has taken years to pay off. After 20 years, I am so thankful that the only debt we will have when my husband retires from the Air Force next spring will be a mortgage on our house. But there is such a better way, and we have worked with our children to teach them sound Biblical principles in regards to finances.

First, we have instilled in them that debt is not the way to go. We have taught them that it is always better to either save up enough money to pay in cash or work something out creatively. This may mean learning to do without, making their own, or finding something used.

Earning Their Own Money

We don’t give allowances in our home, but we do help our children find ways to earn money even if they are young. Over the years, my oldest daughter has babysat, dog sat, taught piano lessons, taught knitting lessons, sold her handmade items, worked at a kennel and a yarn store. She learned many great lessons in each of these experiences, but most of all she learned the value of money. She is now a very frugal young lady. She buys most of her clothes at the thrift store or makes them herself.

With my son, we made it clear to him from a very young age that one day he will be head over his own family. And one of the greatest responsibilities he will have is providing for them. We have also advised him to try to earn enough money before he gets married to buy a house without debt. We know that it will take a lot of hard work and determination to make this happen, but this is perfect “training” for the rest of his life.

He started selling items on eBay when he was 10 or 11, and now earns money on YouTube as well. He also takes any hard job offered to him, including mowing lawns, working with his uncle on his tree service, or helping a neighbor plant trees. We allowed him to use his own money to buy a nice camera for his filmmaking adventures and to build his own computer.

These items were expensive items for a 15 year old to possess, but because he had shown diligence in working hard to earn the money (an he realized how hard it is to earn that money) we felt he had proved he was mature enough to make the decision to purchase these items. He also takes extremely good care of his equipment because he does remember how hard they were to earn.

Making Mistakes

One last thing I would like to add about financial training (which really applies to all types of training) is to not be afraid to let your children fail. Our children need to be able to learn from mistakes and there is no better time for this than in the safety of your home. There have been times that our kids have made poor choices with their money, but these times are when we sit down with them and lovingly point out how the choice might have been better.

It is important to not to berate them or make them feel like they are incapable of making a wise choice. Rather, let them know that we all make poor choices at times and the Lord uses these times to teach us how to make better choices next time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please join me for part 2 of Planning for Life After Homeschooling: Graduation and Beyond where I will be discussing life skills and education.

Are you looking for more homeschool planning advice? The bloggers of iHomeschool Network are joining forces this week providing you with all kinds of tools to help you plan your homeschool year!

Linked up at The Daisyhead

Planning for Life After Homeschooling: Graduation and Beyond (part 2)

In case you missed it, join me for part 1 of Planning for Life After Homeschooling: Graduation and Beyond where I discussed spiritual preparedness and finances.

Life Skills

I was chatting with another mother at a ballgame some years ago. I only had my younger children with me, and she asked where my oldest daughter was (who at the time was about 15). I said that I had dropped her off at the grocery store (across the field from us) to pick up the groceries and I was about to go and pick her up. The look on her face told me she couldn’t believe that I would do such a thing. “I would never be able to drop off my daughter at the store (who was also 15)! There is no telling what she would buy!”

I had never really given it much thought before, but at that moment I became conscious of the fact that many, many children are not prepared to become adults. The are given the keys and the credit cards, but they haven’t even been taught the basic foundations of living.

I has been our goal to try to teach our children all the skills that they will need to run their own homes and families should the Lord bless them with such. And even if He has other plans for them, they still need to take care of themselves…and this includes both the boys and the girls.

Practical areas to concentrate on are:

the home — cooking (meal planning, grocery shopping), cleaning (bathrooms, floors, kitchen), laundry, simple home repairs
outdoors — yard work, vehicle maintenance
finances — bank accounts, atm usage, check writing/balancing, reading bills, paying bills, filing taxes
childcare — basic childcare (changing, feeding, watching)
other — making appointments, calling to solve problems (for instance, upgrading telephone service), ordering products, reading and signing contracts

I am sure there are many other things that we should make sure our children know how to do, but this gives you an idea of the areas that need to be worked on. And I would also add, don’t wait until their Senior year to get started! Sure there are some things that can wait until they are older, but it is better to start small and work on them over time. When I still living at home, my responsibilities included laundry and sometimes washing dishes. I had never really cooked much. Needless to say, the first year of our marriage we didn’t eat very well!

Another benefit of training our children in these areas very early on, is that it becomes a habit in them and is not seen as a drudgery. Again, when I first married, I had the hardest time keeping my dishes washed. I couldn’t stand washing dishes and I always let them pile up. However, over the years I have learned that I feel so much better when my dishes are washed. I work diligently to get them done (although the task has become much harder as our family has grown!) and keep them done. I have actually grown to like washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen.

Education

I know that this is the one that you all have been waiting for and as I homeschooler, I can see why. We spend so many years going over curriculum and lesson plans and schoolwork. We question whether we are doing enough, or whether we are teaching the right things. And while it would be nice if there was a planning checklist (there are) and we just went down the list and made sure to get everything done, I don’t think that is the best plan for a Christian homeschooler. God has created each one of us uniquely, and He has a specific plan for each of our lives.

I guess this idea really struck home in September when my mother died. We had made so many plans together for when my husband retired and we moved back to Texas. After her death, I fully comprehended the fact that we have no control over the direction our lives take. Why then would we hold tightly to our own plans? It is always best to surrender to the plans the Lord has for us and our children.

In light of this, it is a good idea to prepare for His plans. I can see the confusion now, “You just said to surrender to His plans but now you are saying to prepare for them. What if I don’t know what they are?”

Many times we don’t know His exact plans, but if we seek Him and His ways, He will begin to show us (at least the part we need to know now). For example, if you have a child that is set on a career that would require a college degree (engineering, medical doctor, etc.), you can begin early in their high school years to prepare them for that kind of learning. I would say this is what most of us do naturally because it has been engrained into our minds that all kids should plan for college. Anyhow, I would look at the requirements for college and have them take higher level classes during high school to prepare them for the amount of work they will be doing in college.

Now for the other types of children that don’t want to or don’t feel led to go to college, I would start thinking outside the box. Honestly, I feel that the Lord is pulling many families away from the mainstream colleges just as He has pulled us away from public schools. I personally see a great benefit is preparing during high school for an occupation. My son is interested in filmmaking, and at 15 we have been trying to find different avenues for him to learn…right now. At 13, 14, 15, our kid’s minds are like sponges, especially when what they are learning is interesting to them.

I just don’t feel like it serves them well to make them drag along in a boring chemistry class when what they really want to learn is computer programming. If they ever need chemistry in their life (and assuming you have lit a fire in them that loves to learn), they will be able to learn chemistry. I took chemistry in high school and didn’t remember a thing I learned. However, once I started learning to make soap or learned about the chemical constituents in herbs, chemistry became much more interesting and made much more sense!

I guess the main thing I would suggest looking at is:

Where has the Lord put us/my child?
What skills does he/she already possess?
What interest does he/she have?
What tugs at their heart strings?

All in all, it is really a matter of faith. Will you trust the Lord enough to lead you on His path? Sometimes it is hard and we back pedal and panic and think “oh, no, I haven’t prepared them!” But God is so faithful to those that love Him and seek His ways.

Just recently, I was in a panic mode because I was realizing that I hadn’t had my son do much science. We had started with Biology, but it was too much for him. He didn’t enjoy it and all the vocabulary terms completely overwhelmed him. At that time I had no problem saying “let’s not do it, let’s work on something you enjoy learning about.” But when you start looking at graduation requirements and see 3 years of science, it makes you feel like you aren’t doing enough. So I got nervous.

After a couple of days and a good talk with my daughter and my son, I calmed down and remembered that this is my child’s education–not the states. Yes, he does need three years of science, but it is not set in stone as to which ones to take, nor which course material to use. We decided that learning about geology and weather would be much more interesting and could help fulfill his science requirements. And if he needs to, he can take a dual credit science class at the junior college during his Senior year.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Are you looking for more homeschool planning advice? The bloggers of iHomeschool Network are joining forces this week providing you with all kinds of tools to help you plan your homeschool year!

Book Review: The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare

From the title, the premise of the book is that God created man perfect, including his intellect. From the very beginning of time, mankind has possessed many creative and intellectual abilities that far surpass even the most learned in our own time.

But this isn’t what the evolutionists would have us believe. In order for their “theory” to hold true, man would have to evolve from an unintelligent ape into a supreme fount of knowledge. This isn’t what we see when we examine ancient history.

The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare is an extremely well-researched textbook on the intelligence and accomplishments of ancient man.

An important concept related to this intelligence, is the fact that it was there before man was dispersed at the Tower of Babel. We know this because the same abilities are seen all over the world in all different cultures. For instance, several cultures around the world have succeeded in building towers and structures that boggle the minds of present day scholars. These cultures didn’t have Google to look up “how to build a ziggurat” and there were no YouTube videos to teach “construction methods of ancient pyramids.” This was information that was passed down to the cultures from their ancestors…their common ancestors.

It was also at the Tower of Babel that Satan showed his desire to counterfeit the things of the Lord. One of the first counterfeits was the tower itself. But there have been many, many more counterfeits over time. The book names several of the counterfeits, including man-made mountains (towers), astrology (counterfeiting God’s original purpose for the stars), human sacrifice (God made the ultimate human sacrifice with His perfect son, as a redemption for sinful man), and rainbows (very interesting discussion on Satan’s attempts to pervert the rainbow)–and several others!

Other than the fact that there was so much research done to produce a book of this caliber, my favorite parts of the book were the beautiful images in the book and the well thought out charts and graphs. I am a visual learner and these two things helped me realize the extent of the similarities in cultures all over the world. The charts and graphs help to break down the information into bite-size digestible nuggets.

For instance, a pictorial map shows over 50 locations where pyramids, ziggurats, obelisks, mounds and henges are located. When it is put together in this way, the reader can really get a grasp of how widespread the intelligence needed to build these was dissipated. And because all of these monuments were built early in the history of mankind, we can see how profound mankind’s knowledge was at this time!

No longer are we left with the primitive caveman grunting and pointing. Ancient men (and women) were truly geniuses!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Visit the New Leaf Publishing Group Blog for more great reviews of The Genius of Ancient Man: Evolution’s Nightmare (edited by Don Landis, published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group)!

Disclaimer: I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Vocal Coach Singer

I remember it like it was yesterday…my young pianist sitting on the bench practicing her piano, when I mentioned that she should practice singing along because she had such a lovely voice…to which she replied, “I am not a singer, I am a classical pianist!”

Six years later she laughs when I remind her of this, because she remembers it so well. We are both so thankful that the Lord has turned her heart around for His glory! During the last couple of years, not only has my oldest daughter began to sing publicly, she has worked with her younger sisters teaching them to play instruments and sing. The trio is currently practicing hymns to sing with another family at our local nursing homes.

Hannah is seven and she plays the fiddle. She is really the “entertainer” of the bunch, so we have to keep an eye on her. She wants all eyes on her.

Maddie is ten, and she plays the mandolin and a bit of guitar. She is happy to stay in background, but has a lovely voice that rings out. I don’t know how she does it, but she can really keep a steady tone when her older sister harmonizes with her.

Kendra is eighteen now, and a complete maestro. Besides being the classical pianist she is, she plays the fiddle, mandolin, and the guitar. And she is becoming a wonderful music teacher to her sisters. She sings beautifully in both English and Spanish.

We were recently introduced to Vocal Coach Singer, which is a complete voice lesson program on CD’s (or MP3s). My mom used to always tell me, “You need to get voice lessons for those girls so that they can know the right way to sing.” I knew she was probably right, but voice lessons are expensive especially for 3 children. And really, I didn’t even know anyone who taught voice lessons. Not to mention that I would have to drive them to the lessons each week (well, now Kendra drives, but back when I thought about it she didn’t).

I was excited that the girls would have the opportunity to have voice lessons from home. As I researched the company, I was so grateful that not only are the lessons top-notch, professional quality lessons, the owners are Christians. I heard the girls practicing one of their exercises the other day, singing about how they were designed by God. WOW! As the music of this world turns more and more worldly, it is truly a breath of fresh air to be taught by those who love the Lord!

How the Program Works

The program consists of 7 Training CDs:
Getting Started
Complete Breathing
Complete Warm-Up
Complete Tone
Complete Expanding Your Range
Complete Diction
Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:
Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:
Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
Personal Singer’s Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections

When the girls started out, I had Kendra read through the guidebook, which explains the program. Then, she would spend about 20-30 minutes a day, roughly 2-3 days a week, going through the exercises. The exercises are easy to complete and the kids had a blast doing them. I could hear them downstairs just laughing at each other as they made the “funny” faces needed to breathe different ways. When they got to the drawn out songs, used to increase the amount of air their lungs can hold, they gasped for air wondering if this program wasn’t some kind of torture session (but then laughed and giggled as they worked to go longer and longer).

One of the things that would have helped us out with this program would be a general guideline of how long to spend on each training session. Kendra wasn’t sure how long to continue working on each session, and which ones she should repeat even as they moved on to others. For example, she didn’t know if they should keep working on breathing songs even as they moved on to tone training or expanding their range training.

Other than that, we were all very happy with the lessons. The girls feel very blessed to be able to advance their singing skills, especially in such a fun way. Even their little brother has been enjoying the lessons, even though he just listens along now and then. We all thought it was so funny to hear him singing the “rap” song as we were getting ready for dinner. This made me realize that these lessons were sticking with them and that they were working on them throughout the day even when they didn’t realize it!

Overall, this has been a super program!

Here is a sampling of my daughter Kendra singing after using Vocal Coach. I should have gotten a “before” recording, but I didn’t. Maybe I will have her record again in a few more weeks and add an update!

Appropriate Age Range

Vocal Coach Singer can be used by anyone wanting to sing their best. I think that younger children would need supervision and guidance as they go through the sessions to make sure they are doing the exercises correctly. My seven year old and ten year old had no trouble with the material, but they did each lesson with their older sister working with them. I don’t think they would have been as successful if I had just left them alone with it.

Program Price

Vocal Coach Singer includes 7 training CDs, 4 workout CDs, and a full-size instructional guidebook for $119 ($99 for MP3s).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Vocal Coach Singer, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Growing Up Wild

When we lived in Spain, the church we attended was pastored by a missionary. There were also several other missionaries in the area who worked together. We became close to their families and learned so much about missionary life there in Spain. Up until that time, we really didn’t know any missionaries or know anything about their way of life.

I was recently introduced to another missionary family, the Wild family, who lives in Papua with their four sons. I didn’t personally meet the family, but our family did learn many things about them and their life in Papau by watching videos of their life. The Wild family has produced a series of five DVD’s, creating a mission curriculum for homeschooling families–or anyone wanting to learn more about mission work in the remote jungles.

As a family, we watched volumes 1 and 4. Each DVD has three episodes focusing on different aspects of their lives. After each episode, they have provided an activity guide that has many related activities that both facilitate learning and give the viewers a better understanding of the episode. For instance, in volume 1, one of the episodes shows the family picking up supplies that will last them 6 months. One of the related activities requires you to determine how much food you would need to get for your own family in order to sustain it for 6 months.

One of the episodes has the boys talking with Bogo, a village elder, as he tells them stories. The related activity suggested having the kids interview one of their grandparents. Recently, we were able to do just that! My great-grandmother is 75 years old. The kids sat her down and just started asking questions. At first they were a little hesitant and didn’t really know what to ask. However, my grandmother just took off telling them all kinds of things about her childhood. Two hours later they had some of the fondest memories recorded! I have included a short clip here:

My kids have watched these videos over and over, even when we haven’t sat down to do activities afterwards. I think this is because life in the jungles is so fascinating to them. They have learned how the Wild family gets water and electricity to their hut, the kinds of foods they eat that are native to the area, and are especially enamored by all the animals on the videos.

I do have one concern about the videos that I would like to point out. First I want to say though, that I love the videos. I think this family has a true heart for the things of the Lord, and are trying to be lights for Him. With that said, I was taken back by one of the episodes on the volume 4 DVD. In the video, they are talking about how there are differences in the Wano culture and our own American culture. The Wano tribe members often pierce the septum of their noses (lower middle part), and sticks a large piece of wood through it. As we were watching, the Wild family decided to let their 2 sons get their septums pierced by the tribe members (and it shows them getting it pierced).

For our family, we believe this is wrong and does not honor God. And I am fine discussing this with my children and they understand our beliefs about this. However, I was upset that on the video they comment was made that it is not wrong because it is the same as piercing our ears. To me, it would have been better to have either 1) not show something like this or 2) do so in a way that left it up to the parents to determine whether it is right or wrong. I guess I was just taken back by the fact that I had no warning that it was on the video and then to hear them tell the children it was right to do it without me talking with them first.

I don’t want to end on a bad note, because overall we have really enjoyed the videos. We have had our discussions on many aspects of missionary life, so it has definitely brought an awareness to our family that we didn’t have before. And I really believe that this is such an important part of preparing our arrows to go out into the world. If God chooses to use or children as missionaries to foreign countries, these are some of the things they will be faced with. What a wonderful thing it is to be able to learn about and discuss these issues with our children now as we teach them about God’s Word and what He would have us do!

Growing Up Wild DVD’s are $18.99 each or all five for $80.99. They are targeted for children ages 5-12, but I think me and the older kids enjoyed them just as much as the younger ones!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Growing Up Wild, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Beloved Books – Sugar Creek Gang Audio Book

When my oldest son was young, I spent many years struggling to teach him to read. At the time, I began having him listen to audio books. My thought was that he would at least hear the words and maybe it would help with his auditory processing (at least he would know how the reading should sound, and how the words should sound).

Now that he is older, I have seen the benefits of having him (as well as the other kids who always wanted to join in to listen) listen to audio books. For instance, when we were living in Spain, my daughter and I spent time studying each week, taking classes, and practicing our Spanish. He was able to quickly pick up pieces of the language just by listening to others speak. He is now learning Japanese, which I believe is because he has developed the listening skills needed to learn a language that sounds so different from our own.

I was recently given the opportunity to review a set of audio books from Beloved Books, called the Sugar Creek Gang. The Sugar Creek Gang audio series is a dramatization of the original Sugar Creek Gang books written by Paul Hutchens in 1939. The adventures are told from the viewpoint of Bill Collins, a young boy growing up near Sugar Creek in Indiana. When the story begins in book 1, 10 year old Bill belongs to the Sugar Creek Gang, a group of six boys who are constantly finding themselves in all sorts of adventures.

Although my oldest son loves audio books, I didn’t know if he would think these were too young for him or not. I put them on for the younger kids to listen to and he immediately started listening along. Before long he had listened to the entire 6 CD set, and continues to listen to them. I think this attest to the fact that the stories are 1) very interesting and engaging, and 2) the messages are timeless. Here is what my son had to say about the books:

The Sugar Creek Gang starts off by introducing you to the gang, which consists of a handful of boys. The book describes the boys very good so that even younger children will know the names of all of them. The speaker is very clear, and makes the story fun and entertaining. You do not have to listen to all the CD’s in order, but it does help you understand the story better. The story is about a gang that just tries to have general fun. They encounter fun adventures along the way, like the robber, a bear, and many more. The stories are both entertaining, as well as biblically training. The main character (Bill, a boy in the gang) is saved and is proud of it. He goes to church every week and sometimes invites his unsaved friends to go with him. He wishes all boys were saved, and throughout the CD, sees other boys come to Christ. There is also a leader of the gang (Big Jim) who is a Christian. He is a good example of a good leader–he sets biblical rules for the gang, such as no cursing, being home for dinner, minding your parents, etc. Not all the boys in the gang are saved though, but most all of them follow good morals and over time become influenced by the boys that are saved. Overall the Sugar Creek Gang is a great CD set that is fun to listen to and good for learning about God.

The stories are written in order, and meant to present Bill’s life over several years, as well as lead the listener closer to Jesus. As a parent, I was so impressed by how easily Bill explains difficult concepts in the context of real life. For instance, in one episode, one of the boy’s newly saved dad is tempted to begin drinking again. Instead of just telling the listeners how bad drinking can be, Bill shows the impact that drinking has on this dad’s family. (Note: Everything he talks about is done in a very modest way. After all, this series was written in 1939 and they certainly spoke differently about things than we do today.) We see poor Circus’ (the son) heart break and hear the fear in his voice, as he finds out about the drinking.

In another episode, Bill and Little Jim were trying to save a kitten when they found themselves riding in a washtub in the rushing waters of an overflowing creek. Both boys feared they might not make it home alive, when Little Jim remarks, “It’s better for us to drown than for Little Tom Till or Big Bob, cause their not saved.” It takes great maturity in Christ to be willing to lay down your life for those who may not be saved. This is type of character trait that I want my son’s to exhibit.

There are six audio book series, and each contains six books for a total of 36 audio books. Each series is $54.95 or you can buy the entire set for $279.95 (a $50 savings). These would definitely make a great Christmas present, especially since the entire family will enjoy them!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Beloved Books, click the banner here:

Photobucket

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.

Schoolhouse Review: Kinderbach

My oldest daughter started piano lessons shortly before her sixth birthday. She started learning on a hand-me-down keyboard that played “I’m Your Venus” as a sample song, over and over and over. We told her that if she stuck with the piano, we would buy her a real one. Thankfully, she continued playing and we were able to pass along the old keyboard.

In the 12 years since she started playing the piano, music has become a large part of our family. Our four oldest children all play at least two instruments each. Kendra has taught several children how to play the piano, including our two girls. I was excited when I was given the opportunity to review Kinderbach, an online piano lesson music program for young children.

Originally, I had hoped to use Kinderbach with Hannah, who is seven years old. The age range for Kinderbach is ages 3 to 7 (although older children may enjoy the program if they are beginning piano students). I thought that she would be considered a beginning student. I guess because I compare her playing to the older children’s playing. However, once we started with the program, she complained that it was “too easy”. I had her stick with it for a bit because it is a really neat program and I knew that even if it was just review, it would be beneficial to her.

Meanwhile, my soon to be four year old little boy has been begging to “do Kinderbach” everyday. So we switched gears. I printed out the beginning worksheets and have been working on piano with him. To be honest, I had my reservations about doing piano with someone so young, especially a little boy. But I think this is where the Kinderbach program really shines. It is not a typical piano lesson. It is a program geared toward young kids. It makes learning the piano seem like a game, not a lesson.

How It Works

There are six levels to choose from. Because Isaac is so young, and a complete beginner, I started him on level 1. Once you choose a level, there is a PDF lesson book that goes along with each level. It has worksheets to use with the lessons. I printed out the entire lesson book so that all the sheets would be available when I needed them. Each level has 10 weeks worth of classes and each week contains four lessons. I found that it was best if I sat with Isaac during the lesson.

Generally what we have done is sit and watch a few lessons at a time. Isaac loves the songs and the moving around activities. He is a typical little boy in that he doesn’t like coloring very much. What we have done to help with this is to do “pretend” coloring. So for instance, in one lesson you had to color the apples. Some were on the ground and some were on the tree. Depending on whether or not the notes were high or low determined whether you colored an apple on the ground or in the tree. It would have taken us all day to get two apples colored. Instead, I just had him color the apples with his finger. It was fun for him and he could then move on quickly to the next sound.

The lessons are a mixture of songs, worksheets (coloring, cutting, pasting), moving around type activities (rhythm instruments, moving hands high, then low), and keyboard/piano activities (finding the two black keys versus the three black keys). I should add here that you don’t have to have a piano to do the lessons. A keyboard is actually advantageous in that you can move it around where you need it for the lessons.

Cost of the Program

Kinderbach is $19.99 for the monthly subscription or $95.88 for a yearly subscription. This rate is good for the entire family, which is a huge savings over the cost of private music lessons. If you are wanting to try Kinderbach out before you commit to a subscription, a day pass can be purchased for $5.95.

Overall Opinion

As I mentioned before, we had a rough start with this one and I didn’t think it was going to work out for our family. I am happy that Isaac has been able to enjoy this program. It really is a neat program. I sometimes feel guilty about not being able to take the younger kids to all the neat classes being offered, like I did with my older kids. Programs like these make up for that. He gets to have the fun class at home and I don’t have to cart kids all over town. Not to mention the cost! With six kids, classes could get very expensive, very quickly! Twenty bucks is very reasonable, especially if you have more than one child using the program. I think this a great program to supplement our children’s learning!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Kinderbach, click the banner here:

Photobucket
Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received the product or service mentioned above for the purpose of a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please read my disclosure.