Kids Can (and we should let them) – Blogging Through the Alphabet

K Kids can

Just so you know – this is not meant to step on toes but it might. Mine are right there being smashed along side another others I hit. But, I think this bear repeating.

Kids Can Do It.

We Should Let Them.

I have recently been privileged to be a part of some opportunities for kids to grow and show off their skills in various media outlets – Power Point presentations, video presentations, audio statements, and written articles. And puppet shows are coming up. I think these are amazing opportunities for the students to study and learn and grow. Especially when it comes to showcasing their love for God, which is what these specifically were about.

I was somewhat heartbroken, though. It was abundantly clear which students were doing their own work and which were not. When a student was presenting something they had worked hard on, it might not have been perfect but you could see their hearts in it. Knowing how hard my girls have worked on similar projects, I know how much growth occurs when a child has to struggle to meet rigid standards and guidelines and still get across what they so desperately want others to know about God.

So this is just an encouragement to you, whoever you are and in whatever way you might work with students:

Let them do it.

Yes, guide them. But don’t write that script for them. Don’t create their props. Don’t dictate what they should say. Don’t solve that math problem for them. Guide them through the struggle to put down on paper or to show on video what it is that they want to get across.

Let them do it.

Help them. Certainly.

But please, let them do the majority of the work. They will learn so much more and the lessons are so invaluable. They will not always have the benefit of your guidance right beside them. So apply this wherever you need it: guide, don’t do.

Kids can!

At Home.

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Tell a Fairy Tale – Middle School Monday

Recently, our library hosted a contest for Tell a Fairy Tale Day. The actual day was Feb 26 this year. The older two giggly girls decided to enter a fairy tale into a contest that was held. We utilized that as  writing lessons for part of that week. This was a fun and simple way to engage the girls in some creative writing. The instructions were simple: write your own fairy tale in the space provided and turn it in. They were encouraged to add an image to go along with tale.

I enjoyed their fairy tales and both of them were awarded honorable mentions. I thought I would share their entries, since they were pretty short.

Miss L, age 10

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a king and queen, whom were named King William and Queen Adalaide. Together, they ruled wisely, and were fair and just in every needed advisement. They were rich in all but one thing, which was a child, which they wanted very much. Then one day, the Queen had a healthy, pretty little girl, and the whole kingdom erupted into celebration that stayed on for a week. The princess had skin like porcelain, hair like the midnight sky, eyes like sapphires, and lips like rubies. And only grew fairer every passing day. But then came the day she turned sixteen, which was the age the crown was handed down to the heir. Before the princess could become Queen, she needed to have a husband. So she set off on a quest to find a prince but none she visited seemed right. Finally, she came to a little island called Lilitia. There she met a girl named Lewana, who was looking for her brother who had run away from home. The two girls quickly become best friends and decided to quest together. The next day, the two friends came upon a large town and agreed to hail one another if they found what either was looking for. And so they set off. Soon the princess came upon a large inn, with many inside. One man in particular caught her eye and they fell in love on first sight. He said he was a prince, and the princess summoned Lewana. Lewana took one look at the prince and ran to embrace him because the prince was also Lewana’s brother. They all went back to the princess’s castle and lived happily every after.

Miss E, age 12

Once upon a time, just past the sparkling waterfall and the shining rainbow was a city of pixies. They were led by a single brave pixie named Joyce. Joyce was a curious pixie and one day she wandered out of the forest and into a house where a little girl sat reading a book outside.

Joyce flew up to the girl and said, “Hi! My name is Joyce. What is yours?”

The girl dropped her book in surprise. “C-C-Crystal. Are you a fairy?”

Joyce frowned. “Why do people always think that? No. I am a pixie. Do you need a friend?”

Crystal’s mouth dropped open. “How did you know? I do need a friend. It is just me and my mom here.”

“My mom and I,” Joyce corrected. “Why don’t you come to my city? Humans used to visit us. Not anymore though. But we have a human-sized house.”

“Oh, Oh, Thank you so much!” Crystal yelled, jumping up and down. She and her mom went to live with the pixies and they all lived happily ever after!

Such a fun way to incorporate creativity and writing into our week! I love it when things come out so simply and the girls are able to participate in community activities like this. Did your library have a Tell a Fairy Tale Day? Do they often do fun activities to get involved with? I highly recommend friending a librarian and making visiting a library part of your regular homeschooling activities if it is at all possible. Our librarians are fantastic and definitely add so much to our unit studies.

At Home.

Just Sit Still: 20+ activities for helping a child to sit still during recovery – Blogging Through The Alphabet

J just sit still

“Just sit still and do something.” – I have said that so many times in the past few days. One of the girls had a minor surgery this week and needs to take it easy for about 3 weeks. She doesn’t want to. In fact, she doesn’t even know how to slow down, let alone do nothing active for 3 weeks! In a single day, she has gone through everything special we have for her to do – books, movies, math games, board games, clay projects, rubber band projects, more books, more clay, creating doll clothing, computer games. And she is bored. So what now?

Take to social media, of course. Ask your friends what to do and get some really good responses! So, I thought I would share their ideas here since I know that we all have times when we need the kiddos to sit still for a while. Sometimes, they have to be still for a longer time.

j just sit still doll accessories

Some of these ideas are fantastic and we will probably implement. Some don’t apply since she already does them and/or she can’t stand or sit comfortably for any period of time. Restlessness is the name of the game for us right now and we are trying to beat it.

  • Learn cursive
  • Learn to type
  • Sewing
  • Needlework – cross stitch, crochet, knitting, embroidery
  • Puzzles – 1,000 pieces were suggested, wonder if that would keep her busy long?
  • Make paper dolls
  • Origami
  • Writing – a story, letters to nursing homes or deployed soldiers, an autobiography
  • Bakingj just sit still doll outfit
  • Lego challenges
  • Menu planning
  • Card games
  • Dice games
  • Learn/work on a foreign language
  • Friendship bracelets
  • Latch hook
  • Logic puzzles
  • Solar system model
  • Read books
  • Learn jokes
  • Do mazes
  • Design doll clothing and accessories
  • Write poetry
  • Color
  • Clay projects
  • Do anything with craft materials – make a raft with popsicle sticks, create thank you cards with glitter glue, do an art project with markers or paints

These are most of the ideas of things the giggly girl has done or someone suggested. We have been grateful for all the prayers and the cards and activity gifts send her way. It had made such a wonderful difference for her. There really is nothing quite like those who stop by and let their kiddos chat after Wednesday church, bring a bag of clay and glitter glue and stickers, drop off rubber band activities, or mail a fun little clutch bag to color. Add to that the wonderful cards received from friends and church family alike and we feel so amazingly blessed.

J just sit still fairy

Thank you to everyone who contributed, whether it be one of the specific things I named above or for ideas for helping keep her mind occupied while her body heals. You all are blessings.

At Home.

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Bessie’s Pillow ~ a Crew review

Bessie's Pillow review

History came to life. It truly did, when we were reading Bessie’s Pillow. This story, from Linda Bress Silbert and Strong Learning, Inc., is about a young lady who immigrates to America just after 1900.

For our family, that is very personal. My husband’s great-grandmother immigrated to America, through Ellis Island, just before 1900. So this story became something that we could easily relate to and brought us a greater understanding of all that their family would have gone through. This ability to relate so personally to the story made this true story of Bessie very real and very alive.

with the drawing of the shipby the passenger list

The main character in the story is Boshka Markman and her story begins in Vilna, Lithuania in 1906. 18 year old Boshka is leaving Vilna because it has become so dangerous there. The progroms and war have invaded their lives but far away, America beckons. Boshka begins her immigration journey to America. But before she boards the train, an older lady from the village asks her to deliver a special pillow to a son in America.

“May this pillow bring you peace.”

This story is not just a story. It is history. The history of a family, the history of nations, the history of the world at that time. And it pulls the reader deep into it all.

Bessie's Pillow cover

We are engaged in the story and through it we see the dangers of the world. The difficulty of a young girl traveling by herself, bravely facing all that comes her way. We walk with her through the invasive medical exams she was forced to endure in order to board the ship and the nervousness of waiting to see if she is allowed to live in America. Though her name is changed (she becomes Elizabeth Markman at Ellis Island), she boldly moves forward to live a new life in America.

She faces the dangers of a young lady in New York but finds employment and a safe place to live. Through her, we see the horrible working and living conditions but we also see the unconquerable human spirit and the will to push through towards a dream. Finding a way to deliver the pillow entrusted to her back in Vilna, she travels to New Rochelle and encounters a new life. The story of her life, lived with the same boldness she came to America with, is what this book is about.

Bessie’s Pillow touched me a lot. The true story of someone who would have been so like my husband’s great-grandmother was intriguing to read, to experience. Written by the granddaughter of Bessie Dreizen (the married name of the main character), this story has the twists and turns of the most creative novel yet is history, family history. And while this story is personal for her, it is one that most everyone in America should be able to relate to in some way.

exploring Bessie's America

Found online and in the back of the book, Bessie’s America is a collection of short articles and websites full of historical tidbits, links, and videos to help us get an more complete look at the life Bessie would have lived and the world she lived in. From the progression of film (from a silent movie that was shown in the theater in New Rochelle to early cartoons and talking movies) to music and dancing (we watched a video of Nellie Melba and looked at images of Carnegie Hall), from news of the day to famous people of the day, from housework to health and hygiene – Bessie’s America was very different from what we know today and this look back at the time in history of this story gives the story even more context and gives us even more understanding.

Bessie’s America really enhanced the book and we found a number of interesting things to read about and websites to visit. This is not a necessity for reading the book but it definitely gives extension to the book and understanding to the reader who takes the time to read and visit the website.

Bessie’s Pillow  is a wonderful, engaging read that is so full of history – our history – that I highly recommend it to everyone. I will note that there are some discussions early on in the book about incidents that caused Vilna to be unsafe for her, as well as New York to be unsafe (mention of attacks on girls and women), working conditions and the dangers that were faced, as well as some undesirable locations that people frequented. I would not just hand this book to anyone under the age of about 12 but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good books for them to read. I suggest reading it yourself first and deciding if it is right for your child and/or doing it as a read-aloud so that you can edit the parts that may not be right for your family.

My 12 year old read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. She read it quickly (perhaps a day) and wanted to talk about it. We had talked about our family history and that made this book even more desirable for her. There is much to be gained from reading history that comes alive as Bessie’s Pillow does.

At Home.

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews} 

Crew Disclaimer

Creating A Masterpiece ~ a Crew review

Creating a Masterpiece
Art is a beloved past time in our house. When we were given a subscription to review the Monthly Plan for the company Creating a Masterpiece, I was pretty excited. The girls all had input on the interest level in this company and they all wanted to participate.

Creating a Masterpiece
Creating a Masterpiece is a website with video instruction in creating artwork masterpieces using various media. Sharon Hofer is the instructor in the videos and she walks the students through the steps to create the artwork. She believes that, no matter the age of the student, everyone can create a masterpiece. The instruction is given clearly and is demonstrated at the same time. Since the instruction is on video, it can be paused and reviewed as many times as needed to understand. This combination makes it fairly easy to follow and recreate the steps given, resulting in artwork the student can be proud of.

The projects vary in difficulty and time required for completion. There are six levels of instruction (Beginners to Level 5), plus a series of Art In History lessons. The beginner level project can almost all be completed in one or two sittings. The Level 5 projects all seem to have 5 or more lessons. Each lesson can have several video segments.

The medium options are quite varied and can be run the gamut on cost. If you have an advanced art student, this would be well worth the cost of materials. Options for media include watercolors, watercolor pencils, acrylics, charcoal, woodburning, ink, carving, soft pastel, oil pastel, and more. The variety of media choices is extensive.

Candle Light Project

We started off with a mixed media project titled Candlelight. It was a Beginners level project and we were able to complete it in two lessons, though it would be easy enough to have done in a single session. All four of us (me and the three girls) worked on this. In this project, I appreciate the clear instruction with the ability to change what we were doing enough to have a finished product that was distinctly ours. It could have looked just like the one on the video but we all added our own touches to make it personal.

Sailing Adventure

Miss J and I tackled the charcoal project titled Sailing Adventure, which is a Beginners level project. We followed the video and were able to complete the project in a single session. I would have appreciated a bit more information on how to use the kneadable eraser because that caused me a bit of an issue and Miss J got very frustrated. We did eventually figure it out though and were able to use it with reasonable success. We were very pleased with our final products, which we were able to personalize a bit and make our own.

Puppy Love

Another project that we tackled was the Level 4 Puppy Love. This adorable puppy is done with watercolor pencils. We have found this one a lot more difficult. We have done three sessions with it so far and still have some more work to do to finish the projects. Miss E, Miss J, and I have been working on the puppy.

With  Puppy Love, there have been several bits and pieces that have given us difficulty. Probably the hardest has been the difference in watercolor pencils themselves. Early in the instruction, it is stated that the brand of pencil doesn’t matter too much and the girls have decent sets. However, we found that shading “lightly” with the instructor’s pencils still gave a good color when she added water but with ours, it washed the color away when we painted it. We had to let the projects dry and then recolor them and try again. My suggestion for anyone trying a watercolor pencil project: play with your pencils and find out how much color you get when you shade lightly all the way through to shading darkly. Learn what yours do before beginning your watercolor project. It will avoid some frustration with it not working when following the shading instructions.

In the instructions, it is not unusual for the student to be given the opportunity to change it a bit, or to modify it in some way, to make the project personal. This is all well and good. However, you have to be able to ignore the things she says that you don’t want to do or don’t apply to your project. This caused some issues for us in Puppy Love.

After having drawn in the dog’s nose, the instructor chose to move it during the refining process. But she said, if you don’t want to move it, then don’t. So none of us did. But a lot of the way she described other parts of doing the face were dependent on you having moved it like she did! If you don’t have the ability to modify her instructions related to that change and fit what you do have, it can be hard. So, I hand-held a lot for this one.

clown fish

I did a couple of the projects on my own, since I was interested in them but the girls were not. My favorite was probably the Level 1 Clown Fish. This was a 3 session project. I did not take three sessions; instead, I sat up late one night and just did it all. I really enjoyed it and was pleased with the result. I think it would have been a bit difficult for the girls to do because our colored pencils were not as soft as the ones recommended. Better colored pencils would definitely have resulted in a brighter finished project and would make it more enjoyable for the girls to do.

If you have a student who tries to follow every instruction to the tee and is fairly perfection oriented, this might not be a good program for them. We cannot get the results that the instructor does and this was really hard for one of the girls. She does much better with written instructions, where she can imagine and draw what she is thinking. Having the video before her made her feel like she had to copy exactly. She started two projects that never got very far because they were “too difficult” when her paper didn’t match the instructor’s.

We will continue to do some of the projects throughout the remainder of our subscription. I am looking forward to trying out some of the acrylic projects. The video instruction is clear and easy to follow most of the time. For an older student or an adult, there is no difficulty in figuring out what is required and how to follow the instructions. For the younger students, I think it was good that I was doing the projects alongside the girls. All in all, we have enjoyed Creating a Masterpiece quite a bit.

Creating a Masterpiece

This image was provided by Creating a Masterpiece as an example of how anyone, of any age, can be an artist!

Head over to Creating a Masterpiece and sign up to try the sample lesson or to take a look at all of the projects available.

At Home.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to take a look at projects created by other families who have been using Creating a Masterpiece.

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews} 

Crew Disclaimer

Ice Cream – Blogging Through The Alphabet

I Ice Cream

(Because I am slow on getting some things posted, yet again, I am combining the Middle School Monday post with my Blogging Through the Alphabet. Enjoy!)

Working through the Apologia Astronomy curriculum has given us a number of fun opportunities. One of the labs that was suggested was making ice cream. We could not ignore that experiment/lab!

The purpose of the experiment was to see the how chemicals (in this case – salt) could create a cooling effect. This was in relation to the gas giant planets, specifically Neptune,  that are cold not only because of the distance from the sun but also because of the chemicals in the atmosphere.

Ice Cream Making

The experiment was fun and tasty but there are a couple of things we would recommend in regards to it:

– Do it outside if at all possible; this is messy and salt water on some floors is not good

– Perhaps use a small plastic jar or container that will hold the liquid and put it in the large zipper bag with ice and salt. Trying to get ice cream out of a zipper bag that has salt all over it is difficult and salty ice cream is not my favorite.

All in all – a super easy and very tasty way to see the effects of chemicals mixing to create a lower freezing temperature.

At Home.

Join the ABC blogging group hosted by A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

A Net In Time Schooling
My ABC Posts:
H – How to let go?
I – Ice Cream
J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

Friend – FMF

Friend

You know the way it works – I’ll write for five minutes on the prompt of FRIEND and then I’ll like it up with Kate’s blog Heading Home.

GO –

Friend
Supporter
Strengthener
Helper
Hope
Cheerleader
Comforter
Conversations
Chats
Encourager
Prodder

These are just some thoughts that come to mind when I think of my closes friends. And you know, nowadays, friends aren’t always someone you have met in person. I married my best friend on this earth. He is my constant, my strength, my rock, my support, my encourager. I hope I am the same for him.

I have several good friends that I attend church with. They help me keep my chin up and my feet moving forward. They also homeschool, or have done so, and they know what I may be struggling with and working through. In addition to the homeschool world, these friends know what I need in my spiritual life and they pray for me and check on me if I miss church or Bible study.

I also have several friend scattered around the world that I have never met. But they bless my life in ways I cannot even express. One chats with me several times a week and encourages me through comments and checking in and, I know, prayer. Others have sent me scriptures, commented on forums I am part of, comment on my blog, or a million other ways in which I know they are supporting me.

God places lots of people in our lives and not a one of them take the place of any other. Each is so special. I very much appreciate this aspect of God’s love and care for me.

END

At Home.

 

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