August 26, 2014

Three Ways to Keep Them Interested in School

When my children were younger, keeping them interested in school work was easy. A pretty work book. Princess pencils. A field trip to the playground for gym class. Stickers on their worksheets.  In my experience once they hit about 9 or 10 years old, it can get a little harder to keep their interest. Princesses and stickers are not as appealing all of the sudden. Here are three things that I think help keep them focused on school.

Number One --  Teach Diligence. This one is really for before they start losing interest. From anearly  age, instill the value of finishing the task that you start. It's not only good character, it's Biblical wisdom. Proverbs 12:14, Proverbs 14:23, 2 Thessalonians 3:10 ... the Bible is full of verses that demonstrate the importance of a diligent attitude towards work. It may not help keep a rolling-their-eyes teen jumping for joy over their algebra assignment, but it will help them understand the importance of doing that assignment well.  Being diligent in the small, unappealing things - ahem,
cleaning their room or doing their math homework? - will teach them how important it is when the things aren't so small.

Number Two -- Let Them Have Style. Homeschool parents have the freedom and privilege to choose their students' classes. This is a weighty responsibility as we have to be sure that we are covering all the things required by the state in which we reside. (Need some clarification on your state's rules & regs? Check out this post from Home Educating Family!)  With that said, homeschooling gives us a unique opportunity to choose curriculum styles that are well suited for our children. My older daughters strongly prefer the traditional text and workbook style. Even though I'd prefer a more literature-based curriculum, with lots of writing and discussions, it just doesn't work for them. So we are doing a much more traditional style this year and so far? theyloveit. 

Number Three -- Reward Small Obedience. We obviously can't throw a party every time one of our children do something correctly. It would make for a very long day. But every once and awhile, for something that is normal and expected and completely mundane - reward your children. Thank them for putting away their school books with a special lunch. Load the dishwasher for them after they've done it for a few days without whining. Bring them a cold drink while they're mowing the lawn on a hot day. Just as much as we all love it when our husbands notice that we cleaned the house, our children love it when we notice their small obedience. They want to know that we notice the good things, not just the bad. I think when our children know we see them, it creates a desire in them to do more good. It doesn't have to always be big and fancy. Just make sure they know that you notice.

How do you keep your older students interested in learning?  What other resources work well as students move into upper high school grades?

A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, And the deeds of a man's hands will return to him.
- See more at:
Proverbs 12:14
A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, And the deeds of a man's hands will return to him.
Proverbs 14:23
In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.
- See more at:
Proverbs 12:14
A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, And the deeds of a man's hands will return to him.
Proverbs 14:23
In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.
- See more at:

August 25, 2014

{review} Get To Know Mary

{I received a copy of Get To Know Mary from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and a good review was not guaranteed.}

 Get To Know Mary by Nancy I. Sanders is available from Zondervan for $6.99

About the book:

Mary---part of the Get to Know series---is a biography written especially for 6-10 year olds looking for accurate, historical information about Biblical characters. With photographs of places, icons, statues, artwork, and other primary sources to enrich content, young readers are sure to find out everything they need to know about Mary and her place in history.

 My thoughts:

The Get To Know series by Nancy I. Sanders is an excellent tool for children to learn more about the lives of Bible characters.  The Mary edition is full of information about the life Mary led - from what her house might have looked like to how she purchased her groceries.

There are a few great features in this book that I think are very helpful for young readers. At the beginning of the book it lays out clearly the tools used through the book that help readers understand every term.

Throughout the book there are photos that give life to words or places we've all read about but probably have never seen. I really found this interesting as well!

I loved these photos of the money and what a manger really looked like. It's so interesting to read AND see what it was like to live in Mary's time.

At the end of the book, there is a two page timeline of Mary's life. It is just another great tool that gives the reader more of an understanding of who Mary was. After the timeline, there is a glossary as well as a bibliography and a list of source notes detailing what chapter of the Bible each story originated in.

If you like the format of this book, the Get To Know series also includes books on King David, the Apostle Paul and Jesus. Each book is full color, glossy pages filled with interesting information. They can all be found on the Zondervan website.

August 19, 2014

{review} A Grand Design

About the book:

A getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs—if only she can let go of her past.

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

 You can find out more about A Grand Design here.

About the author:

Amber Stockton is an award‑winning author, a national speaker, and a direct‑sales brand partner with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards. Find out why readers love her by visiting her website

My thoughts:

A Grand Design is a fun read, full of romance and mystery. I thought the main character, Alyssa, was likeable and interesting. Her friend Libby was a big annoying at times but I think it made her mesh well with Alyssa. The plot was interesting. I love quilting so that part of the story really appealed to me. I love that Alyssa and Libby learned a little about quilting while they were with Alyssa's grandmother.

There were a few parts of the story that I wish they would have developed more. While this story was definitely 'clean' there was little to no talk of God or religion. They did go to church one Sunday. Scott, Alyssa's love interest, was definitely striving to live a pure life but it would have been nice to read a bit more about why. I think there would be lots of material here for a sequel if the author ever wanted to write one!

Overall, this was a good book. Not my favorite, but not inappropriate.

August 18, 2014

Three Ways I'm Getting Ready To Homeschool

I've got the review worksheets printed. The new schedule is written down - in erasable pen. A new chore chart is ready.

Review starts today at the Card Homeschool Academy.

My girls have already asked several times why we always start so early. It's simple really. First, I'm in charge and I wanna start. Simple enough. Second, I like doing a week of light review before opening the new books. And third, the earlier we start - the earlier we finish. They will thank me in June.

So how am I getting ready for another school year?
Three small decisions that will hopefully make all the difference.

1) I deleted my Facebook app on my phone. All the hoopla around the Messages app lead me to do some research. I realized I didn't want either  of the Facebook apps on my phone. I'm also shutting off every push notification I can. No more notifications = less dings and noises to distract. I can't mute my phone entirely due to some other responsibilities but I'm hoping this will cut down on my nonsense time.

2) I'm committing to setting an alarm. I'm not looking forward to this. At all. On an average morning, I'm not much of a sleep-in kinda person. But I knew with the class load we have this year it was definitely time to add more routine to my morning. I added time for my walk every morning as well as time to read. I have a few different plates to keep spinning apart from homeschooling. So not only did I add my morning block of time, but I added in a block each afternoon. Eventually, I'd like for this to become uninterrupted (apart from emergency) time for me to work.

3) I delegated a few more chores. Sometimes I feel terrible for making my girls work around the house. But then reality sets in, I look at the chore chart and realize that they each only have at most four chores a day. They'll live. Apart from that, it's great life training. They need to know how to run a home. There's no better time than now to teach them.

With that, we are off into another year of school. It's our last year without a high school student. what?! Did I just say that?!

How do you get ready for school?

August 11, 2014

{review} NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers

{I received a copy of the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers from Zonderkidz as a part of the Z Blog Squad. A good review was not guaranteed and all opinions are my own.}

The NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers is available from Zonderkidz for $24.99. You can read a sample here.

About The Book:

 This new edition of the bestselling NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers maintains all of the features loved by kids from its previous edition but is now available in full color throughout! Kids ages 6-10 will be even more captivated with learning about the Bible and growing closer in their relationship with God. Includes the complete New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) which is written at a third grade reading level for children just beginning to explore the Bible on their own.

Our Thoughts:

The NIrV Adventure Bible is perfect for young readers. While some books for early readers tell Bible stories, this Bible contains the full Bible text in an easier to understand translation. It also contains several features that make it fun for young readers. Lauren, my 7 year old, loves the touches of green through all the pages. It's her favorite color, so that was a hit from the beginning!  Lauren also really loves that she can follow along with what someone is reading from a "real" Bible.

Some features that we are enjoying:

At the back of the Bible, there is an Activities index. As you can read below, it gives an easy place to find the different activities throughout the Bible. There are great ideas in this section! 

There are several full color, glossy pages through the NIrV Adventure Bible with different questions, answers and ideas for kids. They are well written and loaded with Scriptural backup.

Another feature is the People In Bible Times, that explains more about different, lesser known people. I found this interesting as well!

Overall, the NIrV Adventure Bible is a solid choice for a young reader that wants their own Bible but still needs some fun stuff to keep their interest.