Sunday, September 29, 2013

October Sharing Time Theme

This month we'll be talking and learning all about how we can share the gospel with everyone and anyone.  Throughout the month we'll progress through three different topics: how living the gospel helps us share the gospel, how we can share the gospel with our family and friends, and that our testimonies are strengthened when we do choose the share the gospel. 

With General Conference we will only have three weeks of lessons (even though it has all four weeks in the outline).  I love the idea of using one or two of those three weeks to have either the ward mission leader or your local missionaries in to teach (or both).  I like it so much, that's what I'm doing my one open week for the month (we're having sacrament program practice two of the weeks, so along with conference, there's just one week left for lessons).

Don't worry, I'll still be posting ideas for the three weeks, there are so many fun ideas to teach the kids about missionary work.  My favorite is being able to show them how many different ways there are to be missionaries.  Elder Bednar said, "We are missionaries every day in our families, in our schools, in our places of employment, and in our communities.  Regardless of our age, experience, or station in life, we are all missionaries."

Every day!!  Sometimes when the topic of missionary work is brought up, I get a shrinking feeling.  The one that tells me I just might not be doing all that I could.  Instead of feeling inspired, I sort of want to pull the metaphorical blankets over my head (and sometimes not so metaphorical).

Fortunately, about that time I usually come across something so inspiring I instantly feel strong enough to toss off the blanket and get back to work.  Last week I read an article by Anne C. Pingree where she quoted Sarah Cleveland, an early Relief Society leader, "We have entered into this work in the name of the Lord.  Let us go boldly forward."

So let us!

Two wonderful talks about missionary work and following the Lord are:

Becoming a Missionary, by Elder David A. Bednar
Knowing the Lord's Will for You, by Anne C. Pingree

I loved them both, have quoted from them both in this post and will probably continue to throughout the month.

If you're adding to your Armor of God Guy, this month we're giving him his Belt of Truth.

I thought about having the kids help me come up with different ways we can share the gospel and write them on the different sections that are hanging off the "belt."  I still might, or we might just talk about how we have beautiful gospel truths that would help so many people, if we can have the courage to share with love.

I also have next months scripture to share, we really love having the kids learn the scriptures.  Plus, I get to learn them, too, which is an fantastic side benefit.

You can download this handout from Google Docs if you want to use it in your primary (or home).

Check back, I'll be posting ideas for Sharing Time every Sunday throughout the month!

Have a wonderful month,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Foreign Language

As I've mentioned before, I'm a fan of The Well Trained Mind and they recommend starting your foreign language journey with Latin.

When I first read that I thought, really?  I mean, really?  While it would be sort of cool to say I know Latin, isn't it a smidge less practical than, well, any language actually in use today?

Then I looked into it a little more and came to the conclusion that Latin is in use today.  Bits and pieces have been lifted, squished and changed into many other languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian...) so by learning Latin, we get to learn more about several languages at once.  Plus, my kids are learning their own language even better.

This is our second year using Latina Christiana and I really like it.  I get the packet with the CD's (for pronunciation) and student and teacher manuals because I don't speak Latin.  That's the really great part, I don't need to.  I get to learn right along with them.

Well, not really right along, Makenna is better than me.  A lot better.  That girl is sort of amazing.

This is Ben's first year and he's started with Prima Latina (I started Makenna last year in sixth grade, so we went straight to Latina Christiana I).  It goes really slow so he hasn't gotten frustrated, but he's still challenged to keep up with the vocabulary.

I think I'll bring each of my kids through two to three years of Latin before we move onto a modern foreign language, I love it.

And, I have to admit, it really is pretty cool to be able to say I can speak some Latin.

What's your favorite foreign language curriculum?  Or language to speak, teach or learn?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ever Evolving Chore Charts Change Again

I've been wanting and then needing to change our Summer Chore Charts into School Year Chore Charts since right about when school started.

That was only a little more than 5 weeks ago.

Yep, I don't ever procrastinate.  Nope.

The boys' charts didn't need much change.  I deleted a bunch of columns and then decided I actually wanted to keep some of them and so I added them back in (in addition to procrastination, I sometimes have issues with decision making).

I took them out because they already work on them during school, but I added them back because I want them to do them on Saturday too.  To make it work, I put a big X on those few chores for Monday through Friday (although my kids might complain I've already marked them off, they like checking things off as much as I do), leaving only Saturday open to be marked off.

Makenna's needed much more work.  Mostly because her old chore chart wasn't working.  At all.

School takes her so long that she doesn't always get to chores during the day (well, she does the after dinner kitchen chores, but that's about it).  Before you think I'm a super mean, over demanding mom slash teacher, let me assure you she "could" finish her school work earlier, she just messes around every once in a while.  A lot.

Luckily, most of her chores can be done once a week (and more luckily, I stopped grounding my boys and issue extra chores when they get into trouble, it's sort of wonderful...they might occasionally get assigned a few of Makenna's chores...hehe).

So that's how I changed her chart.  I deleted the days of the week from the top row and put the category (area of the house, usually) of the chore along the left hand column.  The rest of the cells contain all the chores she needs to complete by the end of the week. 

If she wants to wait until Saturday and do all her chores at once, I'm going to do my best to let that be her prerogative (although, it'll be mine to choose a negative consequence or two if she complains about her procrastination....even if she does come by it honestly).

We'll see how they go, but as the title says (a couple times) our chore charts have a pretty short life cycle until I'm ready to try something new.

How do you keep track of your kids chores?

Happy Cleaning,

Friday, September 20, 2013

Favorite Phrases

I often find myself saying the same phrases over and over.

Do you do that?

Lately, I've been saying "What's her bucket?" a bunch.  I have no idea where it came from and as I type it, I'm thinking it might even be a sort of disrespectful way to refer to someone who's name I happen to have forgotten (you know, like my neighbor of 8 years or another equally forgettable name).  Maybe I should try and stop saying that.

Another phrase I've been saying I'm going to keep using.  A lot.

It starts out, "One of my very favorite things about homeschooling is..." and then it ends a whole bunch of different ways.  I've discovered (and continue to discover) I love a lot about homeschooling.

A few days ago, I had this thought as I looked out my schoolroom window. 

It's was beautiful day, so Makenna and James decided to go outside and read on a blanket under the trampoline.

Ben still had some table work to get done (Josh decided to join him), and we were sitting in the schoolroom.

One of my very favorite things about homeschooling is the flexibility to work wherever we'd like.  I am so blessed to get to spend so much time with my beautiful and amazing children.

Do you have a favorite place to get some school work done?  If not, what was your favorite place today?


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


We really like History.  It's so much fun to walk through the world, through time and see so many different events that have led us to today.  Well, I suppose it isn't always fun, there have been too many gruesome events for that, but it's always interesting. 

And often fun.

This is our third year using The Story of the World and we're still enjoying it. 

The only negative we've encountered (I've encountered) is that there are too many chapters for our school year.  And that's only a negative because I have this inexplicable drive to finish every bit of every curriculum (which I can suppress, but not willingly).

While we love the stories, our favorite part is the Activity Book.  Projects are always a hit, there's just something about getting your hands "dirty" that makes anything more fun.

Last year Makenna joined with us in our Story of the World adventures as a 6th grader and, like science, it just wasn't quite enough of a challenge for her.  So, I looked around and found another curriculum that travels through history in a four year cycle just like Story of the World (so she'd be studying the same time period as us) that was more age appropriate.

In fact, History Odyssey is very challenging.  It's got reading, writing and geography all wrapped up into one curriculum.  I love how hard she has to work (although she isn't always such a big fan).  This is one of my very favorite things about Homeschooling Makenna, I can make sure she's challenged. 

For a little bit of fun, I've also added Confessions of a Homeschooler's Road Trip USA curriculum.  We spend a week or two learning a few facts about each state.  She has you make a notebook to put your papers in, but we decided to make a lap book (my kids love them) and have been having a lot of fun so far.  I really like that you can choose how in depth you want to go into each state, we are just skimming, but you could use her curriculum as the spine for a more in depth study if that's what you wanted.

History also serves as the jumping off point for the required reading my kids are assigned.  It's fun to read about people and from authors who lived at the same time period you're studying.  It adds a different viewpoint, helps our learning to be a little more in depth and well rounded. 

What do you do for history?


If you want to check out more of our curriculum choices, visit our 2013-14 outline.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

General Conference Sharing Time & Family Night

Back in May I planned a Sharing Time about our apostles and prophets where I found pictures that went along with a teaching or quote from each of their spring General Conference talks.  I had the kids match the teachings/pictures up with pictures of the apostles.

It turned out really cute.

Over the past few weeks I've been thinking about that Sharing Time and thinking about how exactly I wanted to get my kids get excited about our upcoming conference (this time I was thinking about my own kids, not the primary kids).  And when I realized that there was a 5th Sunday this month, I felt some stars aligning. 

So many activities are great both for family night and sharing time.  And as I felt some inspiration coming my way, I got excited about how my simple ideas could be adapted for younger and older kids.

But, before I get to my new ideas (the ones I'm using for a whole month of short and easy family home evenings), let me say you could use my May sharing time idea this month.  It's pretty cute (did I mention that already?).  It gets the kids thinking about what we've been taught by our prophets and at the end you could challenge them to tell you one thing the Sunday after conference they heard or learned.  It would also work great as a family night (or a couple of family nights if you've got short attention spans).
I think my favorite part of preparing for the Sharing Time back in May was the prophet pictures I ended up with.  If you want your very own pictures of our current apostles and prophets like mine, you have a couple of options.  If you live near a Deseret Book or LDS Distribution, you can run down and pick up some small pictures for around $.75/each (there are some online, but I don't see them all, maybe I'm not looking in the right place).

Or you can download, print and laminate your own like I did.  They've got them all at lds dot org in a variety of sizes.  I downloaded the biggest size picture for each apostle into one folder on my computer.  After opening the folder in windows, I selected them all and printed four to a page.  They turned out great.

You can download my pictures (the ones that match the quotes, not the apostles themselves) and quotes here

I used this picture back on my May post also.  I love it.  That's what General Conference is all about, learning to follow the prophet.  As we follow our living prophets (even when we don't completely understand the reason why) we have the opportunity to test their words, grow our faith and ultimately our testimonies as each teaching lets more light into our lives.  Yahoo!

Okay, the yahoo might be a little silly, but it's really how I feel when I get talking (typing) about the blessings of the gospel. 

So, I guess I'm a little silly.  I'm okay with that.

Last Monday I started my new plan to talk and get excited about fall General Conference.  I pulled out the pictures I'd printed in May and we went over each apostle, trying to remember their names and sticking them on the wall in a prominent and easily reached location (that's the picture at the very top). 

I left space in between each row on purpose.  This upcoming Monday we're going to get to know our prophets just a little better.  I looked online trying to find fun facts about each apostle (I ended up with two for each) and I matched one fact with a picture.  We'll take turns picking a picture and trying to guess which apostle it describes.

The pictures would work great for Junior Primary (younger kids) and would probably work pretty good for Senior Primary, too.  In case you want a little more, you can just have them match the facts (as opposed to the pictures) and that way you get to learn a little more about each of them.

I uploaded the "Getting to Know You Clues and Pictures" to google docs for anyone who's interested.

In case anyone is also wondering what else we're going to be doing for our family nights this month (there are three left until conference) here's the breakdown.

16th - Matching fact pictures to each apostle on our wall
23rd - We'll learn a little more about each apostle using stories I found on Sugardoodle (scroll down to where it says Additional Note and click on Stories of each of the apostles).
30th - We'll be setting goals for conference.  What do we want to learn, what questions do we want answers for and what do we plan to do during conference (it will partly be reverence goals for my younger...and maybe not so

Any of these ideas (or a combination of them) could also be used during a Sharing Time.  I love flexibility!!

I hope you have a great week (and lots of fun preparing for conference)!!


We'll be passing out something for each child at the end of Primary the Sunday before conference that they can use during conference.  I haven't quite decided what it'll be this time around (although I usually like to keep it simple), but I'll post our plan next week if you'd like to check it out. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I have to start Logic at the beginning (last year).  Don't worry it won't take too long.

I'm a fan of The Well Trained Mind and while I don't follow everything it advises, I use it as my base to start picking and choosing subjects and curriculum.

That being said, WTM let me down pretty good last year. 

Yes, I know that not every curriculum works well for every family (it even mentions that in the book), but I'd never not liked a curriculum before, let alone experienced the massive crash and burn that happened with the logic curriculum that Makenna and I tried.

It was brutal.

We got Critical Thinking, Book 1, by the Critical Thinking Co.  Now, it might be true that someone who has a background and good understanding of logic may have liked this curriculum.  I don't and didn't.

And while I agree that it's good to try things that are difficult so we can stretch our minds and learn, there comes a point where it's no longer just a stretch and there's pain involved.  Lots and lots of pain.

We tried for a few months and then gave up.  We both hated it with a pretty fiery passion.

I might have given up on logic forever, if not for the fun workbooks we started at the very same time (and happen to be made by the very same people) called Mindbenders.  Makenna loved hers so much last year that I bought some for the boys this year.

They're a stretch (as you get to the higher levels), but still fun.  The boys are loving theirs this year just as much as Makenna.  I love that as they finish each page they feel a great sense of accomplishment for solving the puzzle.  James (1st grade) started in Book 2, Ben (3rd grade) is in Book 4 and Makenna is finishing up Book 6 and we'll be moving onto Book 7 during the year.

I highly recommend Mindbenders.  There aren't a lot in a workbook, so my kids do one a week (which means they look forward to them and they're almost like a treat, how cool is that?) and will progress through one workbook a year.

Only because I think logic is very important.  Very, very important.  Did I decide to give a more formal course another go this year.

We bought The Art of Argument (which I also got out of WTM) by Classical Academic Press and started it a few weeks ago.  First, this is a completely different kind of logic than we studied last year (informal as opposed to formal logic), which might have something to do with the fact that we haven't wanted to chuck it out a window yet, but I also think it's laid out much better than last years major catastrophe. 

Makenna and I are both enjoying it AND learning.  At the very same time.  Crazy, I know.

My favorite part is getting to see her make real world connections.  She'll see or hear an ad and tell me that it's using this or that fallacy.  I love having the ability to teach her to see through all the fakery out there (yes, I just made up a word).

If we keep liking it as much as we've started, I'll probably move on to another of their curriculum next year (The Argument Builder or The Discovery of Deduction).

Do you have a favorite curriculum or method to study logic?  I'd love to hear about it!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Homeschool Coat of Arms

I got it done!!  Wahoo!

I mentioned earlier that last year while studying the Middle Ages we covered knights and their Coats of Arms.  While studying them each of my kids made their own Coat of Arms, and we liked them so much we stuck them on the wall, leaving them up all school year.

And then I got a great idea.  A fantastic idea.

Why not make another (slightly larger) Coat of Arms to represent us and our homeschool?

I wanted to do it last year, but never got around to it so I stuck it first on the list this year.

Before we designed our Coat of Arms, Makenna gave a short oral report based of a written report she did last year detailing a lot of the symbolism found in Coats of Arms.  If you want to check it out (or have one of your older kids prepare a report to give you), she found a lot of her information on this website.

It's actually really cool.  Different colors, lines, patterns and animals all have different meanings.  With all the different options, you can have your Coat of Arms say almost anything.

Our final Coat of Arms is 17 x 22 inches (which is four pieces of 8.5 x 11 paper put together).  To practice what we wanted, I first printed off all the different sections separately and let the kids practice their design.

After they got it perfected (or had at least made up their minds), I printed off a single large copy for them to work on.

Look, aren't they working so well together (yes, I forgot to take pictures while they were working on their rough draft)?

I love how James is laughing in this picture.  They were concentrating so very hard and trying to make it look perfect.

And this is how it turned out.  I have to admit that the boys didn't really pick what to draw based off symbolism, they just picked things they thought were cool.  I liked that each of them got their own section, but it was brought together with both the border and the smaller inset shield.

Guess what?  Just in case some of you would like to make your own, I've made a handy dandy pdf for you and uploaded it to google docs.  In it is the large scale print and five smaller 8.5 x 11's that you can use for your rough draft like I did, or you can tape them together for your final copy (if you don't have access to a large printer or want to pay to print one).

Have a great day,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September Sharing Time - Weeks 3 & 4

Weeks 3 and 4 both talk about how we are only in the service of our God as we serve others.  Seeing as they are both the same topic, I thought I'd share a few different ideas all on one post.  That way you can pick what you'd like for each week.

This past week I came across a fantastic idea that I wish I'd heard about earlier (so I could have posted it here for you earlier!).  Challenge the kids to serve others by doing secret acts of service; the secret part just makes it more fun.  In our primary, we've passed out tiny little hands that the kids can leave at the scene of their secret service act.

Aren't they cute (you can download ours from Google Docs)?  Then comes the fun part.  As they come into church the next Sunday, we ask them if they've completed any secret service, those that did get to write what they did on another hand (a bigger one) that we'll put up in the primary room.  That way everyone gets to see how much service we can do and how each act adds to all the others.  I love it when they get to DO!

I also really like scripture memorization, I've mentioned before that I keep hearing Elder Scott's words in my mind,

"Scriptures are like packets of light that illuminate our minds and give place to guidance and inspiration from on high."

The Sharing Time Outline asks us to help the kids memorize the ending of Mosiah 2:17, what a great idea!!  After introducing the secret service idea, tell them the key to serving God is really just to serve others and then help them to memorize the scripture.  To encourage them to really get it in their minds (instead of the in and out that happens with me too often), tell them that you're going to "test" them next week and see who still remembers it.

The first activity you can do (for one of the two weeks) is a matching game with the pictures I first shared in week 1.  The pictures are a variety of people the kids might come across during their day (you'll have to print two copies to make it a memory type matching game).  After a match is found, encourage the kids to come up with a unique way they can serve each person.  By unique I mean that each act of service should be different, but it can still be something small.  Giving someone a hug (if appropriate) or a smile can brighten and lift a dark day.


The second activity focuses around Elder Uchtdorf's talk "You Are My Hands."  I would suggest showing a YouTube video of him telling a story about a statue of Christ damaged during World War II.  While I know that sometimes turning on a video can lead to ears turning off, I love letting the kids listen to their prophets.  I think that even if they do not understand exactly what is being said, they can feel the spirit that comes with these great leaders.  To help with comprehension, you can ask a few questions or highlight the main points of the video after it finishes.

After talking about (and listening to) Elder Uchtdorf's talk, bring up this months theme, "I Will Serve God with All My Heart, Might, Mind and Strength." The Friend magazine has a fantastic section on how to bring primary home (and even if some of your kids do this activity at home, they'll still think it's fun to do it at Primary because now they'll get to help everyone else)!  To learn what it really means to serve all those different ways, play a game where they get to match an act of service to one of the topics from our monthly theme.  Both the Friend and I put might and strength into one category.

In the Sharing Time Outline, it tells you to go to the Primary 4 manual to get more ideas on service, and do they ever have more ideas.  The lesson links to a calendar with 30 different ideas for service!!  These work perfect for our match up game.  Each day on the calendar has a picture depicting an act of service along with a short written description.

They're a little small in the one page calendar format, so I made each square a "little" bigger, about a quarter page size, and then put all the pictures into one pdf for you to download if you'd like to use them in your sharing time.

Topics and Acts of Service
(It will say "No Preview Available" because the file is to large to preview, but there's a box just under that says "Download." If you click on it, you'll still be able to download the file.)

It doesn't matter if one category is much heavier in the picture department than the others.  The main point of this game is to get the kids thinking about all the different ways they can serve everyday.

As you finish up (each week), challenge the kids to do an act of service (or re-challenge if you've introduced the secret service game I mentioned at the beginning of the post).  You could even take a minute to call on a few of them to ask what they plan to do during the week.  Both weeks give plenty of examples of how they can serve everyday and so they shouldn't have any trouble coming up with some good ones.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "To all within the sound of my voice, the voice of Christ comes ringing down through the halls of time, asking each one of us while there is time, "Do you love me?" And for every one of us, I answer with my honor and my soul, "Yea, Lord, we do love thee."  And having set our "hand to the plough," we will never look back until this work is finished and love of God and neighbor rules the world."

Service is work, but it is also love.  It's amazing how it both expresses love for those we are serving and helps that love to grow.  And our love doesn't just grow for those we're serving, it also grows for our Heavenly Father (which makes sense as you learn that we are serving Him by serving others).  It's wonderful and fantastic and I could keep going with the positive words for a very long time before I expressed how full it makes my heart to think about.

Make sure to bare your testimony to your kids each week in primary, they will feel your love!


I plan to give some ideas for a General Conference Sharing Time for the 5th week, so check back next week if you're interested in heading that direction for your 5th Sunday.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


This is my second year using R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey and I've enjoyed it.

The first year I homeschooled I thought I could come up with an outline and experiments all on my own.  And I could, but it was a lot of work.  Way more work than I really wanted to do in the preparation department (plus, I didn't do as many experiments as I really wanted because I didn't prepare well enough).

So, while looking around at blogs and reading numerous reviews (about all kinds of curriculum), I came across this one that matched perfectly with my four year classical/history cycle and I thought, "Aha!" 

I really did.

It lays out exactly what supplies you need in two different ways.  A handy, all in one, list at the beginning and, separately, in the directions for each experiment.  That way I can peruse the big list before the school year starts to see if there is anything I need to purchase.  Many of the items I already own or are small things I can buy in the weeks before the experiment (like an orange or marshmallows).

There are also explicit instructions for enough experiments to do 2 a week most of the school year. 

That's a lot of experiments. 

It's also my kids favorite part of school.

I'm not sure what we're going to do next year though.  Our next level is Physics and right now, R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey doesn't do physics.  Darn.  Does anyone have any good elementary level suggestions?  I would LOVE to hear them!

Makenna did the Earth and Space R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey with us last year and while she really loved it, the worksheets were much too simple.  So were many of the experiments.

I decided I wanted to challenge her a little more this year, so I purchased a chemistry kit called CHEM C2000 (the link is to the Thames and Kosmos website, they're the ones that make the kit and it has good information about it, but I bought mine on Amazon for less...I love Amazon!) along with a workbook all about the periodic table. 

This isn't so much a curriculum as a kit with everything you need to complete 250 different experiments.  To turn it into a curriculum, Makenna does experiments on one day, chooses a topic she wants to learn more about (one that has to do with the subject of her experiments, a vocabulary word she came across, a piece a equipment she used, or really whatever she wants as long as it's chemistry related), learns a little more about it and then writes me a 1 - 1 1/2 page paper on it another day.

Before you feel too bad for her, keep in mind that she double spaces with size 13 font.  Even with that, it was a little difficult for her at the beginning of last year (I had her do them last school year too to make science a little more challenging), but her writing skills have really grown through all the consistent writing.

Somewhere in all that, she does an activity or two out of her Mastering the Periodic Table book.  They're not hard, but it gets her into and more familiar with the Periodic Table, which I think is great.

How do you do science at your house?

Happy Experimenting,

If you want to check out more of our curriculum and reviews, visit my 2013-14 curriculum overview!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Assigned Reading How To

Last year I assigned Makenna several books to read that went along with our History curriculum. 

Well, maybe I should explain that a little bit (even though Steve tells me I tell too much background, I  know that's not true, nope).  I'm a fan of making our way through history chronologically (crazy, I know).  Over the course of four years we cover many major events throughout the course of history starting with the nomads and continuing through today.

To go along with the curriculum, I assign books to deepen understanding and bring the time of life more, well, to life.  I assign books written by authors who lived during the time period (if there were any), biographies of important people (rulers, scientists, artists...), and historical fiction about important events. 

Okay, background over (for the moment, no promises), last year I assigned Makenna books to read and then she didn't read them all.


We also didn't talk about them.  Not really. 

I wasn't sure what to do and I didn't really look into it.

I'm trying to remedy that this year and I thought I'd tell you what I've figured out.

First, I made a schedule that divides all the books up into one week assignments over the entire year.  All they have to do is stay on track and they'll be able to get them finished throughout the year.

Makenna's list is much shorter partly because a few of hers are much bigger and partly because she also has books assigned through her history curriculum.

And, just in case you took a minute to look very closely at Makenna's page numbers I just wanted to reassure you that her books aren't actually that long.  Those are not page numbers (yes, it does say page numbers), they are position numbers for our Kindle.  

The biggest reason Makenna didn't finish her books last year was because there wasn't a "due date" or assigned finish time for any of the books and, well, she didn't finish them all.  Hopefully, the lists will fix that this year.

The second part to our book assignments that didn't work out quite so well was the discussing or reviewing of the books after they were read.  I wasn't quite sure what to do and I instituted one of my tried and tested methods to deal with it.

I procrastinated.  A lot.

I didn't say it was a good method, just that it was one.

After thinking about the things I'd want them to tell me about, I decided that as they finish their books I want them to do a semi-summary.  I also wanted it to be a form where they can fill in the blanks so I can have them printed and waiting for when any books are finished.

This is what I ended up with.  I might adjust, switch out or change some of the questions as the year progresses, but I'm happy with how it is to start out with.

I've always had a desire to read outside my comfort zone and to become more familiar with some of the classics (or familiar at all), so during the summer I read through parts of The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  I was very impressed with some of her guidelines for not just reading, but for studying and understanding what you're reading.

As I was making Makenna's reading list out before the school year got under way, I knew I wanted to encorporate some of Susan's ideas into Makenna's reading experience. 

I'm not going to have her go through this for every book she reads, just a few of them.  Keep in mind, this list of instructions and questions are untried in real life.  We'll go through her first book, see how it works and probably adjust parts of it.  Most likely.

But, we now have a starting point.  Which I'm really excited about.

If you'd like a copy of my Book Summary or Reading Instructions, click on the links in this sentence.

How do you study and review the books you read?

Happy Reading,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Sharing Time - Week 2

 Last week we studied Christ's example so we could better learn how to serve others.

This week continues that theme through the study of some of our prophets and apostles. The Sharing Time Outline suggest using four specific prophets from the scriptures and modern day.
As with any good idea, I think the more the better, so I'm adding in a few of my own.
King Benjamin
Joseph Smith
Brigham Young
Thomas S. Monson

Before primary, I'll get pictures of each of these amazing examples from our library.  I was thinking about printing off my own pictures so I could pin them on a board (which you could still do), but I had another idea last night.  Before the kids get there I'll put up the pictures on easels all over the room.  I like the idea of the kids being surrounded by the pictures, by these great examples.
After doing a quick review of what we learned during the first week, I'll tell them we aren't done learning yet and ask where else they can look for help in learning to serve.

I'm pretty sure the pictures all over the room will give them a clue to do direction I'm headed, but I'll make sure to listen to all their answers before honing in on this weeks focus  (I will make sure and mention that we learn from their teachings as well as their examples so I can tie this in to General Conference which is only a month away...YIPEE!).
I'll have the kids come up one at a time to draw a clue out of a basket. After they read it, we'll try to decide together which prophet/example it's talking about. I'll make sure and tell them that each example will only have two clues, so if they want to put more than two on someone, they'll have to do some reconfiguring (I'm going to use the sticky, tacky stuff to temporarily stick each clue to the library pictures).

If you'd like a copy of the clues I plan to use, I've uploaded a pdf for you!
After we stick the correct two clues on one example, I'll pause for a minute and ask the kids to think about what their life teaches about service.

What does it teach them that they can actually DO?! I absolutely love that ours is a gospel of action (although it does on occasion terrify me also) and know through my own experiences that it is only with action that our testimonies are truly grown and strengthened. I want that for each of our primary children.
After we're finished with our clues (or we've just about run out of time), I'll share a story of how service has blessed my life and then close with this quote by Elder Carol H. Amada from the Seventy,

“Service makes us strong in our faith and useful in His kingdom. Service gives us purpose and courage in life. It bring us closer to God and helps us refine our divine nature. It teaches us to love and understand our fellowmen, and it helps us forget about our personal desires, eliminating selfishness, pride, and ingratitude. It teaches us to think of the needs of others, which allows us to develop the virtues that the Savior possesses.”
Who couldn't use a little more faith and courage in their lives? I know I could.

Thanks for letting me share and grow with you every week!

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