Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Unanimous Election

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Yesterday, while G was coloring in the other room, I heard him say to his brother, “We should just really get rid of this college stuff.” A month ago I would have thought he was making a disparaging remark against higher education, but I knew better. You do, too, right? He was coloring a map of the United States, exclusively in red and blue. Don’t worry. This is not a political post; it’s an historical one. I’m not an overtly political person. This is a post about living in good history books, and choosing to concentrate on the positive.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

This year G and I are delightfully making our way through all the D’Aulaire American history books beginning with Leif the LuckyIt just so happens we are now in the middle of George Washington Because all of my guys and I have always loved history and geography, it wasn’t difficult to roam the house and compile a fun collection of supplemental reads and activities.

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G was impressed to learn that George Washington spent time copying out texts as well. Somehow, I had kept this little used copy workbook from several years ago. Handwriting by George by Green Leaf Press may be a fun way to interest your young one in writing practice as it incorporates history and art. On one side your child can print or write the rules and manners of the day, while the other side of the page provides space for an appropriate illustration. G was diligent with his handwriting but got silly with the drawing. A perfect combination.

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It was easy to print off this trivia sheet and George Washington coloring page, thanks to Zack Franzen, illustrator of The Green EmberYou can print one for yourself here. He has interesting tidbits on the type of soap G.W. may have used.

George Washington is the only United States President who was voted in unanimously, and both terms! Of course, he had no competition. But I like to think there was no competition, because American sentiment was unanimous in their approval of him.img_7135

George vs. George is another great read. Rosalyn Schanzer takes us through the strengths and weaknesses of both of these men of power. She does a good job of using humor, human interest and presenting opposing perspectives. I like both of these reads for young readers. Particularly, the D’Aulaires do not shy away from presenting uncomfortable material, but they treat it gently. Their quality writing and illustrations do not lean too heavily on the deconstructionist theories of history that many school textbooks seem to present today. Please check this website for more of the D’Aulaire’s works.

All three of my guys have spent hours reading The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne. G has read several of Jack’s and Annie’s adventures already. Revolutionary War on Wednesday is a good book to include with our study. It even includes quotes from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. 

Here are some of G’s favorite tidbits he has learned so far about our nation’s first President.

  • As a boy he wrote out copywork, too.
  • His fake teeth were made from animal teeth, not wood.
  • He was born in Virginia.
  • We see his picture everyday on our money.
  • He learned many things about hunting and the land from his friend “Halfking,” an Indian chief.
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Teaching the Bible story

While I want my children to desire to know God and connect with people on a heart level, I also feel it is crucial for them to have a solid, textually-based knowledge of His Word, the Bible. Even though our morning routine looks slightly different from year to year, it always includes some form of Bible study or learning. In the past, it has been as random as opening the Bible to read a few verses together, to something more systematic like a reading and study of a particular book. One year we covered the Gospel of Luke, another the epistle of James, or enjoyed random readings from Psalms and Proverbs using our Bible verse box. The box is still hanging around on an end table in our basement, but it hasn’t been used in awhile.

This year I have accepted the encouragement from Sonya Shafer from Simply Charlotte Mason to keep key verses written on notecards and file them in an index box. We use no methodology for memorization. I simply read the verse each morning and my kids say it along with me as they become familiar with it. There is no pressure to memorize quickly. Some familiar verses we have learned pat in 2-3 days. Others, less familiar or lengthier passages, have taken us a couple of weeks or so. Sonya Shafer has an easy system of reviewing old verses so nothing is lost over time. Look here for her easy to implement Bible memory verse system. Oh, and if you are tempted to to shorten the length of Scriptures for the younger ones, refrain! The six-year-old, with his agile memory,  is our leader in this. G usually keeps us on track when we forget a phrase or mix up translations. (The King James version was the go-to translation when I was younger.) Regardless of how well we have memorized the text, I feel good that they are hearing beautiful words, words that they can hold on to for life.

I have also been searching for a way to teach my guys the Bible in a ‘big picture” format. I want them to see the overarching story line through history, to see the Bible as a cohesive text as well as a collection of histories, poems, letters written in their own contexts. I want my boys to see how they also fit into God’s story, and I think I have found one way to do that through Bible book summary cards. This group has Bible study curriculum for both a homeschool or home use setting, as well as a classroom setting. The cards are colorful 8.5″ x 11″ sturdy stock cards with graphic and mnemonic devices to help you and your child learn (and remember!) the main focus, doctrinal points, or narratives for each of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. While they don’t take the place of reading the text itself, it is a wonderful way to give your child a thorough overview. Because there is a brief explanation on the back of each card, even those of us who can’t remember the main point of Haggai, can still learn and teach our kids. Some of the cards look like this.

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Hopefully, the skull and cross bones don’t distract from Bible learning. Come to think of it, I think we talked about Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones that day!

Can you guess which book this card represents?

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We are only a couple of minor prophets away from completing the Old Testament. I am amazed at how they have already connected with the story lines.

On the back of each card are five or six questions to help review. Each day we name the books already completed and I randomly choose a few for them to narrate back to me based on the pictures. We can’t do all of them every day; it would take too long! Then, we read and learn the next one. All in all, it takes us 15 minutes or so to say our memory verse, and learn our Bible book summary cards. In this way, my boys and I are able to start the day with God’s Word.

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