Social Studies

To Teach or to Commemorate?

I was thinking about 9/11 and how I was going to teach my children about that day since this is the 11th anniversary of it. Then I realized that my children already know quite a bit about 9/11. We talk about it whenever we see pictures of it or when it comes up in relation to something else. Though I have strong feelings from that day, my children were not yet born, and to them it is just another part of history like The Tower of Babel, or King Tut, or WWII. We study it just like many other events in history. The only difference to my children is that 9/11 is more recent than other parts of history and Mama was actually alive during this part of history.

I realized that Patriot Day, for us, is not so much about studying about 9/11, as much as it is commemorating it. So, my plan to commemorate 9/11 on Patriot Day is to talk about it with my children in the morning, wear red, white and blue clothes, review pictures from 9/11, and proudly fly our american flag (which usually hangs in our dining room) outside for the day. 

What are your plans for Patriot Day? Are you going to teach or commemorate?

My Curriculum Choices 2012: 7 year old doing Third grade work

In this first part of a two part series I'm sharing my curriculum choices for our 7 year old who is doing 3rd grade work.


"NIrV Read with Me Bible" Illustrated by Dennis Jones: I want to instill in my son the daily habit of reading his own Bible. I feel this Bible is written at the right reading level for my son’s current reading ability. 

A Beka Book "Readers": These readers progress with difficulty at the same pace as the A Beka Book Language book that we are using. I like the Biblical characteristics and morals that are woven into the stories. 

Classic Books such as The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Warner: I have selected a few classic books for my son to read this year in addition to the A Beka Book Readers. I want to expand his reading styles and introduce him to some classic literature. 

A Beka Book "Read & Think 3": The goal of this book is to improve my son’s reading speed. I like this book because the stories that it uses are often historical.


A Beka Book "Language 3" workbook: We have used A Beka Book "Language 1" and "Language 2" in the past. They seem to work well for my son. I like the convenience of having a workbook that he can write in. I like how it explains the language rules and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.


Alfred's Basic Piano Library: All-in-One Course for Children-Book 1: I introduced the keyboard to my children last year with this book. I plan to make it a weekly experience this year. I like how this books combines lesson and theory into one simple book. 


A Beka Book "Arithmetic 3": We used A Beka Book "Arithmetic 1" and "Arithmetic 2" in the past and they seem to work well for my son. I like the convenience of having a workbook that he can write in. I like how it explains things simply and then gives opportunities to practice them and review them throughout the book.


Apologia "Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day by Fulbright: We used Apologia’s "Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures" by Fulbright last year and it was a good fit for us. This series is written from a creation perspective and I can use it with multi-level teaching. It is more in-depth than many other science books I have looked at which works well for my analytical son and it has lots of simple hands on experiments and activities for my more hands on son.

History & Geography

"All Through the Ages" by Christine Miller: This is a resource guide for me from which I plan to select books on Greece and Rome, and obtain them from our library system. This guide makes it easier for me to select quality books from these historical time periods for my sons that are safe from non-Christian biases. This is a multi-level teaching approach. I used this guide book last year and it worked well. History become one of my sons’ favorite subjects. 


A Beka Book "Health Safety and Manners 3": I like the Christian perspective and short, simple approach to this topic. 

You may have noticed that I skipped a few subjects like Spelling & Geography. It’s not that I’m not teaching my children those subjects, it’s that I don’t have specific text books for those subjects. Instead, I’m choosing to design my own plan for those subjects. For instance for Geography I’m planning on using a computer game called Seterra for part of our curriculum. My son will also be writing reports about different states he studies. I’ll even incorporate current global events and ethnic nights into our geography curriculum. So even though I haven’t listed a text book, those other areas certainly aren’t forgotten.

Next week I'll tell you about my current educational plan for my 4 year old who's doing first grade work.

Have you started your school year? What is your favorite subject to teach and how are you teaching it?

Gift Stress

My husband and I sometimes struggle with giving gifts to our children or receiving gifts for our children from others. We are thankful for whatever our family receives and are truly appreciative of the sentiment behind the gifts given to us and our children. However, sometimes the gifts we receive bring with them issues.

One of the issues that sometimes arises with gifts of toys, is the educational value of them. We are okay with our children playing with toys just for fun, but we don’t want mindless entertainment toys that quickly lose their entertainment value to be the main focus of our children. We prefer toys that serve some form of educational or developmental value. We feel that quality is far superior to quantity in the area of toys.

The other main issue that arises with gifts of toys for us is quantity. The reasons are two-fold. First, there is the general issue of a large quantity of toys and the stress it places on the child. There are studies on this topic so I will summarize it to say children with fewer toys are often less stressed and happier (which also makes Mommy less stressed and happier).

The second part of this issue, is that we live in a small house with very limited storage space. I am constantly going through stuff in our house to try to make room for other stuff that I deem more important. When we receive more stuff, there is always the question of where to put it. Even if the stuff received is more exciting and fun toys, the question of where to put it still remains.

We’ve done a few things to help deal with these issues. We now limit the number of gifts we give to our children. We usually choose no more than three gifts per child. Sheer quantity helps with the issues of storage immensely. We are also mindful of the size of the gifts we choose. Some things are simply too big for our space and are therefore just not options.

We have also stopped giving mostly just fun entertainment toys to our children. We now give mostly stuff with a purpose. In addition to the old standby option of clothing, we have gotten a little more creative. This year one of our children is getting a new backpack because his old one is worn out. Our children love art projects so they have gotten things like glue and tape and even construction paper before. They love this! It’s also helps our financial budget. We like to give our children educational gifts as well, like science books about animals, manipulatives they can play with, a microscope to view things, or a globe to learn about the world. Sometimes we give these gifts to an individual child, but often the educational gifts we give jointly to all the children to share. Another type of gift that we have considered, but not yet given, are less tangible items like a zoo membership, tickets to a museum or sporting event, or a state park pass.

Not only have we made these personal changes in our gift giving to our children, but when grandma and grandpa inquire about gift ideas, we make sure to request these types of gifts as well.

One thing we have done to help with the quantity issue after Christmas, is the “In one, out one” rule. If you are not familiar with this one, it means that when you receive “one” gift “in”, you take “one” item “out” and get rid of it. I usually do this with my children a week or so after Christmas or their birthdays.

We also encourage our children to give of their own stuff to others throughout the year. This takes a bit of effort on my part to find areas for them to give their stuff that it will be appreciated, but it is worth it. In addition to minimizing the quantity of toys that creep into their space, it helps them learn to be givers. Which is a lifelong character quality I want to instill in my children.

Merry Christmas!


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