Monday, November 17, 2014

Five in Five - November 14th

Yes, I know it's not Friday, but let's pretend it is.  I meant to post this last week and decided I wouldn't let a little thing like the calendar stand in my way.


Unfortunately, this is fairly typical for a Monday here.  I'm not sure what it is about Mondays, but we all seem to have a hard time getting back into the groove after a weekend of playing.  Corner standing is a fairly typical punishment in our home and everyone gets their turn.

Just keeping it real.


One of my favorite things about our school room is the wire strung along one wall where we get to display every one's completed artwork and projects.  We got off to a slow start, but it's finally filled.  We'll rotate out the oldest for the newly finished the rest of the school year.


I've been reading a great book called "Cleaning House" by Kay Wills Wyma.  In it she details a twelve month experiment to get her kids off the enable train by teaching them life skills, also known as chores.  I have a few notebooks I take notes in while I'm reading, but if I don't have one with me I often take pictures of quotes I like.  This one is a gem.


Josh in deep thought.  If only the ceiling really did have all the answers.


This is how my area of our school room table often looks.  Just in case you can't tell what these are, they're multiple stacks of Spanish flashcards.  Why?  Well, I decided it would be a great idea to complete Makenna's Spanish course with her.  Not surprisingly, it's been challenging and, unexpectedly, fun. 

I'm pretty competitive (it's in my genes, I blame my dad) and it turns out my daughter is too (probably something to do with that whole gene thing).  We compete to see who can get the best grades on chapter tests, with the winner getting taken out to ice cream by the loser.  We both really like ice cream.  A lot.  Which of course leads to better learning, and better grades, from both of us.

Leah

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2015 Primary Binder Covers "I Know My Savior Lives"

I've made up a couple binder covers with next years primary theme. 

I made two and part way through putting them together, I decided I needed a little more brightness in my life.

Turns out they're a lot brighter. 

So, I slipped in a second background for those of you that don't go in for the super bright pattern-ey thing.

If you like them, feel free to click the link underneath your favorite(s) to download a pdf from my google drive.



 


These are open to the public, so you don't need to request sharing.  Share away.

I'm also not planning to edit or change them, although if I change my mind you'll be the first to know.

Hope your year is going wonderful and that you're getting excited for all the amazing teaching opportunities we're blessed to have next year!!

Leah

Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31st - Five in Five

I've decided to start something new as part of my effort to preserve my normal life. 

Not preserve as in keep it safe, but preserve so I don't lose all the memories.  The funny, sweet, frustrating and annoying ones that come together to make up my life.

I knew it needed to be simple or there was, an is, no way I'd be able to do it with any consistency.  And it is very easy.

Throughout our five day school week I'll take pictures (Yay for camera phones!).  Then, I'll choose five that represent different parts of our week.  Or that are just funny.  Or sweet.  Or embarrassing.  I could go on for a while.

I can't promise they'll be exciting because my life is pretty unexciting as a rule.  Which I actually kind of like.  Boring isn't always bad. 

So, this week for my very first five in five we've got:


Our first book report done.  Yipee!! 

When I told James we get to pick out books for our next book report on Monday he groaned.   Huh, I guess he's not quite as excited as I am.


I've copied and pasted pictures of simple projects for each holiday we intend to celebrate through our school year.  I then printed them out and stuck them in a binder so I could pull them out, pin them to our white board and have a "list" of fun and easy projects to do without any last minute searching. 

These are our Halloween ideas.


This is what my school room table looks like in the middle of our school day.  Every single day.


Makenna joined a book club last month and has been having a lot of fun.  She won this cute bookmark at her meeting on Monday.

I've been having a pretty great time, too.  It's fun to sit and talk with other homeschool moms.  I don't get to do that often.  Ever. 


And this is how we all feel at the end of the week. 

Well, I do anyway.

Even though this is actually Josh.  Asleep. 

How?  I have no idea.  A boy I knew in college once told me that all boys can sleep anywhere and I'm pretty sure this is proof.

Leah

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Know My Savior Lives - Planning for 2015


Okay, I've mentioned before that I'm a planner and I meant it (just in case you weren't sure).  Plans make me happy. 

I like to sit down as a primary presidency and talk about what we want to do for the next year starting in October or November of the previous year (right about now).  We don't plan out every detail of every item, but we do try to at least get a general idea of our plans in several different areas.

What areas?  Well, I'm glad you asked.

We talk and pray about what about the direction we want to take the annual theme, the one our primary needs to focus on and then we try to put that focus into everything we do throughout the year.  Things like: our monthly focuses, bulletin board, a presidency specific focus, spotlights, birthday gifts, baptism gifts, activities, and a Christmas gift.

I know, some of you are shaking your heads at me and asking why in the world I would need to plan a Christmas gift FOR NEXT YEAR!  We haven't even gotten to this year's Christmas yet.  This is one of those things that we mostly toss around ideas about, that way we have more time to "stumble across" something that fits and works great for our primary.  I've seen over and over how planning allows us to be more flexible.  Yup.

We don't have ideas for all of it yet and some of the ideas are a little hazier than others, but I thought I'd share with you what we have so far.  I'll keep you in the loop as we change our minds and share anything I make up in case some of you decide to walk a similar path.

First, we are going to focus on the Savior.  I know, no big surprise there. 

Monthly Focus
Each month we are going to learn about one of Jesus names.  He has a ton of them and each one says something different about the life He lived and the example He set for us.  We'll pick one that goes along with that month's theme from the 2015 Sharing Time Outline

Some of my favorites for next year are: I AM, Savior, Redeemer, Chosen, The Truth, Mediator, The Rock, Revealer, Comforter, Good Shepherd, Bread of Life, Well Beloved, The Way, Living Water, The Rock, Messiah, Holy Child, and Word of God. 

We will study His life, learn what the name teaches us, and apply it in our own lives so we can daily follow Him.  One way we're going to do this is by sending home a simple FHE each month where the children can learn and be challenged to find a way to act with their families.

Bulletin Board
We'll take that monthly focus and turn it into a bulletin board.  In the center of our board will be a large picture of Jesus.  I'm not sure which one we're going to use, but I like the idea of it being just Him, no background or scenery (any ideas?).  Each month we'll add the name we're learning about somewhere around His picture.

We'll also have monthly posters with the theme and scripture on them to help us as we talk about them each week throughout the month.

Spotlight
In previous years we tailored the spotlight around that years theme so we could use the forms to easily personalize the primary program.  This year we're thinking we might do something a little different. 

We're thinking about spotlighting people either on their birthday or sometime during their birth month so we aren't done with spotlights half way through the year. 

We are also thinking about doing away with the spotlight forms and having the kids come up and draw a card or two from a box like this one by Anjannete Ludwig.  In the box are questions having to do with the Savior, their testimonies of Him and how they are following in His footsteps.

After they're spotlighted, we'll give them a flower made of their picture surrounded by footprint petals to plant in the front of the room in a planter (this is where I got the idea).  I'm not sure yet what form that planter will take, but I'm hoping to find something I can re-purpose inexpensively.

Birthday Gift
As we're talking both about following Jesus and planting his teachings, we'll give the children a seed packet full of jelly beans for their birthday.  Simple and inexpensive, two of my favorites. 

Baptism Gift
Every year we give pillowcases for the baptism gift.  I like that it's simple and practical, I'm not much for nick knacks.  We always adapt the pillow case to go with the yearly theme, but haven't yet decided what to do for next years (aka, if you have an idea I'd LOVE to hear it). 

We have used stencils to cut the letters CTR out of a pillow case and sown in contrasting fabrics, found theme fabric to sew over part of a plain white pillowcase and had the theme embroidered onto a pillowcase.  All in separate years of course.

Activities
The manual does not state that we need to do activities, but I think they're important.  We only plan two a year, but they give us a chance to visit children we don't get to see and invite them out to join us in a less church-ey type setting.

Both activities will be themed around walking as Jesus walked.  In one we'll integrate the different names and do stations where we can do activities to learn about His life and how we can live as He did in our every day lives. 

I read an article recently that talked about how we perceive the iron rod and gave another take on it.  One that had never occurred to me and that I can't stop thinking about it.  In fact, as I read the article, I knew I had to use it in one of our primary activities this year.  In church we sing about how the iron rod is the word of God.  Did you know that Word of God is one of Jesus names?  While I may read or been told that, I've never connected it to the iron rod.  The song, "The Iron Rod," is literally telling us to cling to our Savior, to follow Him, to walk as he walked.

Another idea that goes right along with walking as Jesus did is to serve others.  It's just about impossible to do a big station-ey activity and also, take the children out of the building to serve others, so this would be a second activity. 

A few years ago we had the kids decorate cookies and make cards for some widows in our ward.  Unfortunately, only the children of the presidency got the opportunity to take them around.  I want every child to have the chance to make someones day, to feel the glow and love of our Heavenly Father as they serve someone else, so our second activity will focus on that.

Well, that's it so far.  Do you have any plans?  Ideas?  I'd sure love to hear them!!

Leah

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October Sharing Time - Successful Families Work Together

In our primary, we split up the sharing times by the month.  Each member of the presidency takes a turn doing sharing time for one month, another is in charge of conducting that month and the third checks on teachers and fills in where needed.  This has been my month for sharing time and I plan to continue sharing my plans with you every three months when my turn comes back around, but I am not planning to re-start plans every week. 

Just so you know. 

Thanks again for all the wonderful emails and comments!!

Now, on to my planned lesson...

In his most recent General Conference talk Elder L. Tom Perry said, "Many in our worried society understand that the disintegration of the family will bring only sorrow and hopelessness into a troubled world. As members of the Church, we have the responsibility to preserve and protect the family as the basic unit of society and eternity."

I'm going to open with that quote and then spend a little time talking about it with some yarn. 

First, I'll ask what disintegration means.  As we talk about it, I'll unravel one strand of yarn.  There are times in all our lives where we feel like things are falling apart.  Sometimes it's us, like when we throw a tantrum (yes, adults do that too) and other times it's out of our control. 

Next, I'll ask if the quote said that only parents or grown up people are responsible to protect our families?  Elder Perry taught that every member of the church shares that responsibility. 

Then, we'll talk about what our families need while I break some of that unraveled yarn.  We need to work together to make them stronger and to illustrate, I'll have a few kids come up and braid the yarn even stronger than it was in the beginning.

After we finish with the yarn, we'll move on to Noah's charades.  Noah and his family needed to work together to accomplish God's will.  My dad called working together bonding time (my mom still hates to have anything called bonding time) and if that's the case, Noah's family must have been one of the most closely bonded families of all time!

Some ideas for charades (including the outline ideas):
Chopping down wood for ark
Building a fire
Herding animals
Cleaning the animals
Cooking dinner
Hunting for dinner
Building the ark

After you're finished, if you have time, you can have the kids draw something their family does to work together while you talk about how working together makes families stronger.  I think we'll just talk about it, going around the room giving ideas and then I'll send home this sheet making the drawing homework (you can download it from my google drive, it's open to the public, no need to request a share).
The adorable clipart is from Melonheadz where you can find lots for free and to buy, if you haven't been you should check it out!
 
In closing, I'll talk about how important work is.

I recently found a great talk given back in 1982 by President Dean Jarman, the Stake President of the Salt Lake University 2nd Stake in the Welfare Session of General Conference, titled appropriately enough, "The Blessings of Family Work Projects."  In the talk President Jarman quotes his children describing the values they'd found through hard family work.  His 18 year old son said, “Since I can remember, I have been taught the value of hard work and honoring all of your responsibilities and your family name. As I look back to my experience in family projects, I can see how they have shaped my character and personality by letting me make many important decisions. I have gained confidence by meeting new people and am better able to express myself. But the most important thing about family work projects is that your family comes closer together in love and respect.”

My very favorite part of the quote is the end, after everything else, the most important value in working together as a family is that it brings you together.  It does.  I've experienced it in my life and I'm trying my best to share the value of "bonding time" with my children.

Happy Sharing Time,
Leah

Friday, October 17, 2014

School Days

I was reading through a few different blogs last week when I read something that really struck home with me.  This specific blogger hadn't been posting very consistently and the main reason she gave was that nothing exciting was happening.
 
I totally identify with that.  At least once a day I think about my blog and what I could be posting, especially when it comes to homeschooling, and I'm stumped.  I've always felt like it needs to be a big project or field trip.  Something special.
 
So, I don't post anything.
 
Which is funny when you consider that some of my favorite bloggers just blog about their days and every day, normal life.
 
So, here's a smattering of our life lately:
 

Josh read his very first book all the way through on his own.  I was more afraid of trying to teach my kids to read than anything else in school.  Terrified, actually, and it has turned into one of the most rewarding areas for me.  Watching the world of books unfold for my children is awesome. 


We learned a little about the life of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni and decided to find out how it might have been to paint on a ceiling.


I had each child pick one of his works of art which I printed and taped to the bottom of our school room table.  Then, we taped up a piece of watercolor paper and they laid or sat on the floor to get their paint on.

One of my favorite parts of our school room is this white board and we use it throughout the day.  In the lower left hand corner is our calendar, the seasons and a weekly weather chart.  On the right we have a few facts about the state we're learning about while the rest is written on and erased every day. 
 
The kids might write their spelling words, I'll write down people and places we're studying in history, we'll draw pictures and anything and everything else.  It's amazing and fantastic.
 
video

One of my kids favorite parts of every day are projects and experiments.  This video is a simple science experiment we did earlier this month.  I often make slight changes to our experiments so we can use items I already have at home and the results vary.  This didn't go quite as far as we thought it might, but the boys sure had fun trying.

Happy Schooling,
Leah

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October Sharing Time - When Family Life is Founded Upon the Teachings of Jesus Christ, We Can Be Happy

Instead of combining two of the Sharing Time Outline ideas into one week (after General Conference, we're short one week), I decided to skip week 2 and go right on to week 3. 

Choose one child before Sunday to bring in a family picture.  If it's last minute and you're blessed to have children in primary, it would be easiest to grab one of your own family pictures and have them do it. 

You can have the chosen child share what they think families should base their lives on or have them ask the other children and lead a short discussion.  I love giving the children the opportunity to teach each other.

After the discussion, display the family picture along with a picture of Jesus Christ.  He is our foundation. 

A fun activity you might do here (especially with junior primary) is have them sing "The Wise Man and the Foolish Man."  After singing, talk about what the song is telling us to do.  Jesus has many names and one of them is The Rock.  He is our sure foundation and when we build on Him/His teachings it will not matter how fierce the storms get in our lives. 

In order to follow His teachings, we have to first learn about them.  The Sharing Time Outline shares three scriptures illustrating three principles that Jesus taught. 

The outline also suggests splitting the primary up and having them discuss the scriptures separately, but that's not the road I'm walking this week.  Every time I try to split them up and have them work through something, they get rowdy.  Rowdy enough that I walk out thinking, "Why in the world did I do that AGAIN."  So, we'll talk about them together as a primary.

The key to doing it together is one I've mentioned before.  Don't be afraid of silence OR if you are, pretend you're not.  I promise they'll answer eventually.  If the silence is killing you, try restating the question, calling on someone, or telling them you want a certain number of answers before you'll move on to motivate the shy and lethargic. 

First: Call on someone to come up, read the scripture, and decide what Jesus is teaching us.  For Senior Primary, I'll have them write it on the board and with Junior Primary, I'll grab a picture from the library that goes along with each scripture to stick on the board.

Second: Talk about how Jesus lived that scripture in His life.  It may be because I'm already excited for next year's theme, but I really want to relate each to Jesus life.  During conference, one of the speakers said while we cannot all walk where Jesus walked, we can all walk AS He walked which really spoke to me and relates fantastically to this weeks theme (I can't remember the speaker, although I did find another great talk while I was looking for it by Elder Gavarett).

Third: Discuss ways each family to do something during the next week to work on that specific instruction.  What ACTION can they take?  Can they encourage their siblings?  Remind parents?  Do a random act of kindness?  Give ideas and if time permits, let each child have a turn telling you something they can do.

I'm going to close with a quote from Elder L. Tom Perry's fantastic talk in October's General Conference "Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families." 

"Men and women are shaped partly by those among whom they choose to live. Those to whom they look up and try to emulate also shape them. Jesus is the great Exemplar. The only way to find lasting peace is to look to Him and live."

I might add or change the beginning to say boys and girls to help the kids relate it directly to them.  I'll then bear my testimony of the great truth Elder Perry taught. 

We are so very blessed.

Happy Sharing Time,
Leah
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