Posts tagged five in a row

All the News That’s Fit to Print

A newspaper’s job is to print… well, what’s new! Yesterday’s events aren’t interesting anymore, let alone last month or last year’s events. Homeschoolers are kind of like that, aren’t they? It’s so easy to let every new curriculum, every new theory of education, every new organizational plan and every new website cause us to lose interest in what was working yesterday, last month and the year before last. We just want what’s new!

My advice is simple: If it’s not broken- don’t fix it. Five in a Row, for example, has been a proven success for homeschool parents since 1994. The earliest children who used it are now out of college and have families of their own. Perhaps 100,000 children or more who used it are now in college and doing well both academically, and spiritually.

There are a number of proven homeschool products that fall into the same category it seems. But like pigeons chasing stale breadcrumbs in the park, homeschoolers rush hither and yon in search of whoever is tossing out new and exciting crumbs. What we often end up with is empty checkbooks, closets of full of promising curriculum that never quite worked, and children who have educational whiplashes from being jerked around from one educational philosophy to another.

Just imagine if we handled our dietary needs in the same way. No more bread or meat this week. Now we’re eating only raw foods. Next week it’s only Indian foods. The week after it’s only sushi, then an all-meat diet followed by a 100% juice diet. Both our bodies and our emotions would soon become unstable from the dramatic and persistent  changes in our diet. The diet for our minds works the same way. As I mentioned last week- homeschooling is a long obedience in the same direction. It’s about consistency, stability and the confidence born of building a recurring pattern of success.

Do yourself, and your children a favor and pick a well-balanced educational diet, one that’s not the latest fad, but has a long, proven track record of success over several hundred thousand students. Then stick with it; master it and make use of it.

Let’s have fun this week in our homeschool by creating our own newspaper. Assign your children different stories as reporters. Let them interview dad, neighbors, grandparents or siblings. Let them do research. Have them write news stories, human interest stories, humorous stories and moving stories. They (or you) can put their stories into a simple Word document template or otherwise “lay out” a family newspaper. Then print out copies and give them to aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends.

See if you can go on a tour of a local newspaper. Whether it’s a large metropolitan daily, or a small local shopper tabloid, your kids will find the rapidly disappearing newspaper industry fascinating. You can absolutely bet on the fact that by the time your children are in college- there won’t be ANY newspapers left in print and they can tell their grandchildren someday about what they learned when they toured an old-fashioned newspaper plant way back in 2009.

Take a look at Acts 17:21 and discuss the Athenians fascination with all the latest ideas, trends and news. Talk with your children about how we can all become too intrigued with only the latest fads and ideas and the value to be found in building strong, proven traditions.


Leave a comment »

Better Call Your Bookie

No- this isn’t about gambling! LOL! It’s about books- the 8th wonder of the world. Books are the almost-magical tool that allows us to experience what we’ve never experienced, travel where we’ve never traveled, learn what we never knew and live in times long past or still in the future. The are truly a miracle.

As anyone who has used Beyond Five in a Row knows, Marie Curie’s research with radium won her two Nobel Prizes- and also cost Curie her life, dying of aplastic anemia caused by her constant exposure to radiation. Yet through the miracle of books, you can read Curie’s works and learn everything she learned- without having to expose your body to deadly radiation. Now if that’s not miraculous, I don’t know what is.

Even God Himself chose to put His story down in writing in the form of the Bible. Because of that foresight on the Lord’s part, we are able to read and study His wisdom for conducting our lives rather than having to rely on an oral tradition or worse still- being left with no recorded history to study.

It’s for all of these reasons that Five in a Row is built upon a solid foundation of great children’s literature- and it’s why your homeschool (regardless of the curriculum you choose) should also be built upon that same foundation. Books are the foundation to all learning and a lifetime source of pleasure and information. Your bookseller and your librarian should be near the top of your autodial list of phone numbers of website addresses. Children who develop an early love of books will never be at a loss for education. Reading is the single most important predictor of academic success in life.  Before Five in a Row begins building that important legacy of turning children into readers as early as age two by facilitating parent-child interaction each day centered around great books.

Today is a great day to learn more about books with your children. Perhaps you’d like to study Johannes Gutenberg who introduced movable type, facilitating the mass printing of books. Or perhaps your children would enjoy writing and illustrating their own books. (Even young children can dictate a story for you to write down for them and then add their own illustrations.) Valerie Bendt has a wonderful book on this topic:

When all else fails on any homeschool day- read. Read to your children. Let them read to you. Take turns reading. Read. Read. Read. To read aloud for 2 or even 3 hours a day is never a waste of time. You’ll build unforgettable memories together and you’ll nurture a love of reading in every child in your family. Read Stephen Meader books to your boys. Read Grandma’s Attic books to your daughters. Read Little House books to all your children. Read, read, read.

John 21:25

Acts 8:28

Phil. 4:3

Leave a comment »

Teaching With Style

No, you don’t have to have a color-coordinated outfit with matching purse and heels to be a homeschool mom! But you DO have to match your teaching style to the learning style of your children.

Briefly, there are three styles of learners: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Visual learners need to see the material in charts, images, videos, etc. and they tend to think in picture form. Auditory learners learn best by listening to words. Written words make little impression and having the material read to them, or recorded and played back on tape is more effective. Finally there are the hands-on learners who need to roll up their sleeves, dig in and try it for themselves.

Each child is different in their learning style and if you’re to be an effective teacher you’ll need to match your teaching style to your students learning style. This may require conscious effort on your part as you and your child may learn very differently. For instance, if you’ve ever found yourself saying I must have explained this 100 times and she still doesn’t understand, chances are you’re an auditory learner- but your daughter isn’t. One of the beauties of an integrated approach to learning like Five in a Row is that activities built around illustrated literature read aloud automatically provides valuable learning input for all three learning styles.

Have fun with style today in your classroom. If you have an old box of dress-up clothes, try a fun break with high fashion style. Or have fun changing your child’s hairstyle just for the fun of it today. Talk about the many styles of fashion by exploring old and unique clothing styles online or out of magazines. Explore architectural styles using a library book, encyclopedia or online research. For older children, pick up a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style– the reference standard for writing style for more than 50 years. (They’ll be using this book in college and now is a good time to become familiar with it.)

Since we’ve talked about homonyms several times lately, talk about stiles- the steps or passageways that allow humans easy access over fences and walls:

Show or remind your children about turnstiles- the revolving arms we pass through while entering stadiums, amusement parks or subways.

Have fun with fashion, styles and stiles today. Here are a few verses that refer to how someone was dressed…

Luke 16:19

Acts 1:10

1 Tim. 2:9

Leave a comment »

Time is on Your Side

When we begin the homeschooling journey, we have a sense of urgency. In fact for most of us, we begin a flat-out sprint which exhausts both us and our children in short order. But the truth is that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. Time is on your side.

The average classroom teacher has the luxury of less than two minutes each day to work individually with each child in their class, making sure they understand the material and answering any unique, individual questions they may have. The rest of the teaching day is consumed with lecturing, handing out assignments, keeping class order, collecting lunch money, lining up for recess and all the other myriad of housekeeping duties that fill a classroom teacher’s day.

You’ve got at least 16 or 17 years if you homeschool all the way through high school and begin at age 2 or 3 with simple, preschool readiness activities using a program like Before Five in a Row. Each day is new and contains as many as eight hours to shape the character and mind of your students. Take a deep breath this morning and give thanks that time is on your side.

Let’s talk about time today, shall we? It’s fun to help little ones learn to read a clock- both analog dial-face clocks, and digital clocks. Make sure they know the many breakdowns of time: 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 365 days in a year, 7 days in a week, 28, 29, 30 or 31 days in a month, etc. Be sure to talk about leap year. 2008 was a leap year. 2012 is the next leap year.

If you’re using the Five in a Row Timeline, this is a great time to go back and review the entries and additions you’ve made over the years.

Talk about alarm clocks and their use. Perhaps your children would enjoy having an inexpensive alarm clock of their own to get up in the morning, have time to straighten their room, make their bed, brush their teeth, dress themselves and be ready for breakfast each morning.

Remind them of homonyms we studies several weeks ago and point out that time and thyme are pronounced the same way. Get out some thyme from the spice rack and let them smell the aromatic fragrance.

Find a copy of Time magazine and let your children look through it.

Psalm 31:15

Psalm 59:16

Ecclesiastes 3

Leave a comment »

If the Shoe Fits- Wear it

Let’s have fun today with the topic of shoes. Did you read A Pair of Red Clogs or The Grass Sandals in Five in a Row? Today would be a great day to review those stories!

For preschoolers how about the nursery rhyme One, Two, Buckle My Shoe? Today is as good a day as any for little ones to learn to tie shoelaces too!

Talk about famous shoe sayings. I mentioned one already in the title, but how about these?

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.

I cried because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.

Before you criticize someone else, you should walk a mile in their shoes.

Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out.

Talk about those sayings and help your children figure out what they mean.

Maybe your children could serve daddy today by polishing several pairs of his shoes while he’s at work.

Ephesians 6:15

Mark 6:6-11

Luke 15:22

Leave a comment »

Smile and the World Smiles WIth You

Today’s idea might bring a smile to your face. Let’s talk about smiles. A smile is a facial expression that usually reflects happiness. I love several of the things Mother Teresa had to say about smiles. (Now might be a fun time to get online and learn more about the remarkable life of Mother Teresa with your children!)

Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. ~Mother Teresa

Peace begins with a smile. ~Mother Teresa

Talk about those quotes with your children. Help them understand what they mean. Then discuss the following quote from an anonymous source. (Ask your children if they know what the word ‘anonymous’ means- if not, today is a great day to learn!)

A smile costs nothing but gives much.  It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give.  It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.  None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it.  Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.  Some people are too tired to give you a smile.  Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. ~Author Unknown

Take a look at one of the most famous paintings in the world:

Ask your children if they think the lady in the painting is smiling or not. People have argued for centuries over exactly what the expression is. The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Now might be a wonderful time to do a little research together and learn more about da Vinci and his amazing life.

Here’s another interesting quotation: A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~Mary H. Waldrip

Take time today to laugh with your children. Do something silly and frivolous right in the middle of the school day. Watch an old episode of I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show, or watch a favorite cartoon or movie comedy together. Smiles and laughter are the medicine that helps the more difficult parts of every school day go down.

If you’re a Five in a Row user, think back over all the wonderful books you’ve shared together with your children and ask them to pick the three books that made them smile the most!

The title of today’s blog is Smile and the World Smiles With You. Ask your children what they think that means. Help them think through this interesting concept, and how optimism can be contagious. Make it your purpose to smile at your children more often as you go about the daily tasks of homeschooling.

Proverbs 31:25

Leave a comment »

Cheaper By the Dozen

There are probably at least a dozen fun things you can do to bring fun and life to your homeschool today- but why not just pick one or two to enjoy with your children.

I’ll bet you have no idea where the word dozen comes from- unless you speak French! That’s right- dozen comes from the French word douzaine, which means a group of twelve. Maybe you’d like to have a croissant for breakfast, or french fries for lunch, or some french bread for dinner to remember the interesting origin of this unique word.

If you’re a Five in a Row user, you might find it interesting that one of the first things that pops into your mind when you think about a dozen is perhaps a very French story- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmens. How many girls were there in the story? That’s right- twelve! One dozen girls that Miss Clavel looked after. If you haven’t read Madeline in a while- why not enjoy it today with your children. See how many pictures they can find where there are a dozen girls.

What do we mean by a bakers dozen? The term, of course, refers to a bakery giving their customer 13 items when they pay for twelve. Now where would a baker ever get such an idea? The concept goes back far earlier than our lifetimes. In fact, it dates back to medieval times when King Henry III (1200’s) decreed it law that any baker found to be shortchanging a customer was subject to severe penalties. (Gross things like getting their hand cut off, for instance- but don’t tell your younger children about that part!) So smart bakers began adding a 13th item to make SURE that a customer got all they had paid for! Go to a local donut shop and see if they offer a bakers dozen. It might be fun to buy donuts for breakfast with daddy on Saturday morning! (If you’ve done the delightful story Homer Price in Beyond Five in a Row you’ll instantly recall the hilarious donut scene from this wonderful story. Perhaps you’d like to go back re-read that chapter today!)

What a great opportunity to talk about giving more than is expected. How can we apply that today in our lives? The Bible talks about that very concept. (See Bible references below)

If you haven’t seen the movie, or read the book Cheaper by the Dozen– you’ll find it a delightful story set a long time ago- a fun summer pleasure to enjoy with your children.

See if you and your children can remember the names of all twelve disciples. (See Bible references below) By the way- see if your student knows that he is a disciple. The word disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus and means a learner.

Luke 6:38

Mark 3

Leave a comment »