Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Family Work: Our Scripture Reading, Memorization, and Hymn Study Resources

This photo is just snippet of one of the bookcases in our family room.  As indicated in this post, our Montessori homeschool is following more of a Charlotte Mason structure this year.  Our work period now consists of three distinct blocks of time:  family work, guided work, and individual work.  We start our morning with our family work which some call morning time.  After our Family work is completed the boys eat a quick snack.  Then, one child starts independent work while the other child starts guided work with me.  Then, we switch. Kal-El gets mom first on even days, Me Too on odd.  Most of this work consists of things that have been on their work plans in the past.  I just restructured things this year so that all the things we can do together are lumped at the start of our day.  I also separated the things they needed to do separately from each other but with mom or things I wanted to keep an eye on from things they could do completely alone.  

In January I talked about how we added purposeful time with scripture to the beginning of our day.  Today I wanted to share some of the resources we've been using during that time (affiliate links are included with most for your convenience).  

This segment of our morning time/family work includes scripture memory, reading from the Bible, hymn study, and prayer.

We start with scripture memory.  We are by no means keeping up with the Awana kids, but I did want a more organized approach to our memory work than we had in the past.  I decided I wanted to start with perhaps the 100 most-beloved Bible verses.  To keep it simple, I went with a a list of "The 100 Most -Read Bible Verses at"

We are learning them in order.  Everyday the boys take turns reciting the one's that we have mastered.  The verses on the page I linked are NIV.  We read daily from an NIV Bible but prefer to memorize Old King James because the rhythm makes them easier to memorize.  So, I copied the verses by hand on to index cards using the King James and numbered each card at the bottom. I keep them in the pink index card box on the bookcase in the picture at the top of this post.   Kal-El recites the odd cards on odd days; Me Too recites the odd cards on even days.  Kal-El checks Me Too's work and vice-versa.   Right now we only know about 13 of these and it only takes a few minutes.  We'll have to see what happens as the list gets longer.

Next, we read a chapter of the Bible from this NIV, Life Application Study Bible.  My husband likes his Bible to have as few "extras" as possible. They boys and I on the other hand love all the footnotes.  When Me Too picked his own NIrV Bible, he was adamant that it have "footnotes"  and a soft "leather" cover like mom's (Kal-El's hardcover keeps separating from the spine).  He picked the Kids' Quest Study Bible.  At any rate,  when I am reading to the kids it is really nice to be able to glance down at a footnote when Jesus does something confusing like command a fig tree to wither and die and explain what just happened.  I feel like our family Bible has never failed to have a footnote when I've needed one.  

We are not reading the Bible in any particular order right now.  We read a chapter a day most days and we read a full book before moving on to another one.  They boys have been picking which book to read next usually based on something they are interested in.  They chose Matthew about a month ago and we've decided to continue in the Gospels leading up to Easter.  However, they are adamant that we read Judges after that.  This is the boys' favorite part of the day.  They always say "more please" when I stop reading.  I love that they demonstrate an attitude that seems to say "this is the most important book in the world and the things in it are the most important things we will learn."  I'm not even sure how that happened.  

Next we study a hymn.  One I thing I do is own a copy of the two hymnals our church regularly uses.  I take mine to church even though they have them in the pews and I put a check mark next to the hymns every time they sing them.  That way I can remember which hymns are popular at our church and can make sure they know them for when they start attending the adult service rather than children's church (seventh grade).  Our church uses Majesty Hymns and Hymns Modern and Ancient.  I used our family address stamp to mark the inside of the front cover in case I leave them on accident.  I also noticed our church only owned Majesty Hymns in red so I bought a blue one.

We have been singing straight out of the hymnals.  However I recently discovered a resource for hymn study that I really love.  I bought all four volumes of Hymn's for a Kid's Heart.  I love that the title reminds me of another favorite resource of mine, Honey for a Child's Heart (literature recommendations complied by a Christian.).  But I really love is that each hymn is introduced with a story, often a story about a child.  For example, in volume one they introduce Holy, Holy, Holy with a story called "The Boy Who Thanked God" about the composer of the hymn as a child.  There is often a separate devotional story in addition.  There are beautiful illustrations.  They provide several Bible versus that relate to the hymn and a prayer that relates to the message of the story.  They also provide the complete four-part sheet music (so your child can learn to follow a regular hymnal) and all of the verses.  Each book also comes with a CD that has children (children's choir and soloists) singing the hymns with full orchestral accompaniment.  The boys feel they are "very grand" arrangements.  They like grand arrangements.  

As part of preparing our hearts for Easter, we chose to begin working in Volume Four today,   Passion.  Coincidentally we had just read about Palm Sunday in the book of Mark and the story was about the role of children on the original Palm Sunday and the special power a child praising God has to silence Satan.  We sang "All Glory, Laud and Honor."

Separate from the check marks I make in my hymnals at church, I had been compiling a list I call "hymns I think my kids should know no matter what."  I can happily report that nearly every hymn that was on my list to date is included in these books already.

We sing the same hymn for as many days as it takes until they seem to know it comfortably but not necessarily have the lyrics memorized.  I like that these books have so many different elements so I can split them up and do a different element each day for a while.  So that we don't forget what we've learned, whenever repeating the newest hymn yet again seems a little stale I let the boys pick one of the hymns we've already learned instead (Kal-El on odd days, Me Too on even days.  Are you sensing a trend here?).

Finally, we close with a prayer.  It could be the one in the hymn book, or a spontaneous prayer said by one of us.  However, if you are looking for an unusual resource for some thought-provoking prayers I can suggest "Prayers at 8:30" by Stan Schmidt, the author of the Life of Fred math series.  It has 104 unusual prayers each with an illustration.  You can read more about it through the link and on that page there is a link that provides sample pages.

EDITED TO ADD:  Thanks to my current blog crush, Farmhouse Schoolhouse (be sure to check her out on Instagram as well), I was recently made aware of two new resources:  Rich and Rooted Passover, and Slow and Sacred Advent.  These two e-books by Jennifer Naraki look like a great way to guide some of your scripture time during these seasons.  You can view a sample page of Rich and Rooted Passover here. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017


Here Me Too is working on "attributes" work (set theory, patterning, deductive reasoning).  You can see behind him Kal-El is working on the flags of Asia with our Pin It! Maps.  We have these sorting circles.  You could use yarn, ribbon or string.  We also have these Attribute Blocks.  I can't think of a way around needing those if you are supplementing your homeschool with this work.  The circles have a 20" diameter and are collapsible.  There are 60 blocks in the block set.  They consist of five shapes in three colors, two sizes, and two thicknesses.  Our larger pieces are about 3" x 3".  You can get a "jumbo" version of this set with bigger blocks but I don't know how full your circles would get when you use a lot of pieces at once.  

We use our sets with task cards from ETC Montessori.  The boys completed the lower elementary set in the fall and I think they started the upper elementary after Christmas.

Lower elementary attributes cards
Upper elementary attributes cards

The lower elementary set has the advantage of coming with a small teacher's album of sorts including presentations.  It is not a perfect material.  It worked well enough.  However, some things were very poorly thought out.  For example, it comes with "H mats" and grids (2x2, 4x4) to place your block on but the squares for placing your blocks are smaller than the blocks.  Also, there is a game at the end that is unplayable.  It seems like nobody actually tried to USE the material.

The upper elementary set doesn't come with a manual.  I called about this and they said "the instructions are on the cards."  Sort of.  Some cards make more sense than others.  Also, it seems from the cards that these should have come with a set of labels for choosing labels for your rings but didn't include any.  We write them on paper or on little dry erase boards which they prefer.

The task card Me Too was working from looked like this:

Check out the cute paper clip!  A company named Avirgo sells these on Amazon.  We use them to keep the boys places in card sets as they work through them.  The have dozens of different kinds.   We have Star Wars, Minions, and Harry Potter.

The card tells him to place certain blocks in the circles as drawn.  The thickness of the outline tells you if it is thin or thick.  If you are teaching a kid to do these, it is important that the next step be labelling the circles.  Sometimes Me Too tries to add the remaining blocks as instructed because it doesn't tell you to make the labels.  This can go very wrong very fast.  If they place the selected blocks, label, THEN add blocks it goes perfectly.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Diagonals of Polygons

We reviewed polygon nomenclature today. We built with the geometric sticks on a white board for ease of labeling and drawing diagonals.  I showed them the diagonals of a pentagon.  Me Too asked to draw the diagonals of the heptagon and was eager to try it out on more shapes. Kal-El said he wasn't interested in doing any more shapes and suggested Me Too continue alone while he did something else.  Me Too continued on and did the octagon, nonagon and decagon.

Meanwhile, Kal-El reappeared with some graph paper.  Our work in Life of Fred recently covered placing points on a graph.  Unprompted, Kal-El drew a graph and plotted the points we already knew (number of sides, number of diagonals):  (5, 5) and (6, 8).  Then he connected the points (with a geometric stick at first, but it got bulky so he eventually used it as a straight edge) and used his graph to try to predict what Me Too would discover on the white board.

He was disappointed that it didn't work.  Me Too was getting different results.   I explained that this kind of graph works well when a progression is linear but that the relationship between number of sides and diagonals isn't linear.  I told him I think that the word for the relationship would be exponential but I'm not sure.  He suggested that there might be a formula.  So, I looked it up.

Here she is:  n(n-3)/2  

We worked the formula together for the heptagon we had already completed to make sure it worked.  Then Kal-El used it to predict Me Too's results for his remaining polygons.

I suggested he try to think of a polygon relationship that would be linear and he decided on the number of sides and the number of diagonals leaving each vertex.  We drew this graph together.