Saturday, March 11, 2017

Moody Science Videos

Here are the Moody Science videos on YouTube: Moody Science

Friday, September 21, 2012

College Bound

When the Princess was in her last year of high school, she was very determimed concerning her wishes to go to college. I spent some time (at her request) researching various colleges and talking with her about her options throughout her last two years of high school in order to focus our search direction. It was not done excessively, I would just have some time here and there and look up various places that sounded interesting to see what they offered and their entrance requirements. We then casually talked about the options - usually while driving to some activity. Her high school curriuclum was modified and tweaked yearly to deal with topics and skills she would seem to need to go to college.

The choices became more focused and narrowed as she began her senior year of high school. Early in the year we thought we had it settled that she would attend a local community college her first two years and save money and still live at home. That door slammed shut when the Lord revealed some serious issues concerning that choice. It became clear that a Christian college was the only option for our family. But it also presented some curriculum challenges. The Princess needed a music major with a focus on the flute. Piano and vocal majors abound - good flute instuction and orchestras are harder to come by. We had it narrowed to three options and set up campus visits. One visit was dropped as there were some communication issues - not a good sign when recruiting. Two campuses were actually visited - both were great visits, but one option seemed a best fit.

Option 1 - Verity Institute
Option 2 - Southern Adventist University

And Southern Adventist University it was/is! I was chosen as a parent blogger during the Princess' Freshman year. The blog site isn't still active, but it is all archived and you can link to my entries Here. There are many details covered in my parent blogging that explain the process of our choices and why we chose a Christian college different from our own denomination.

I am planning a series of entries for this blog that I hope will help shed light on post high school options - just use the tag labeled "college".

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Reading Journey

This is the story of how #3 son learned to read. He is pictured above working on his $65 car (who can resist a great deal?) and his vintage van is in the background (he will love that I included his van!) As I mentioned in my earlier post on reading  (here), #3 was a late reader ~ Well, I don't think he was late - he was right on time for his own development, but the rest of society probably considered him as late.  

I begin with a disclaimer: If I had not lived this myself, I would probably be somewhat skeptical, if not totally  incredulous. But I did live it, and it happened just as I describe it below. Also note eye sight and hearing had been checked and all was normal.

At 8 1/2 years old #3 son still had not mastered reading Hop on Pop, by Dr. Suess. The Sunday school teacher was concerned, my parents were concerned, friends were concerned ~ but I had providentially read Better Late Than Early by Dr. Raymond Moore, and I was peacefully not concerned. I have also always been grateful that my husband trusted me and also believed in Dr. Moore.  When I say #3 son could not even read one syllable, short vowel words, on a consistent basis, I am not exaggerating, but let's back up a bit and describe the process from the beginning.

From about age 5 I had begun formal work in the phonics book and some incidental workbooks. I never pushed and kept all sessions short - like 5 or 10 minutes short. This was all he could tolerate before frustration set in. Frustration and reading are not compatible, so I was keenly aware of his limits. In one incident in particular I remember riding down the road on an errand with him and thought this would be a good time to do a little phonics game. Looking around I said let's do the "D" sound. Door starts with "D". And went "Da - da - da - door!" and so on with 3 or 4 words. Then I said can you think of a "D" sound? He went, "Da - da - da - tree!" Game over for that day.

I was consistent and persistent for several years. We never progressed. He just didn't get it. During this time there were two things that I kept doing. First we never quit the little lessons. By keeping them to 5-10 minutes (actually I think some were about 2-3 minutes in length) he never learned to hate them and I never let on that they weren't going well. It was just what we did as part of our day. Phonics lessons were done about 3 times a week. The second thing I did was I read to him - lots and lots.

We couldn't stand still in all the other subjects and wait until he could read the information for himself, so I read to him from his books. I read the instructions. I read the subject matter. If he had to write answers he would say them to me and I would write them for him to then copy onto his papers. He could do his math if I read the directions to him. He could do penmanship because he was just copying. The only subject that he couldn't really do was spelling - and other than a few basic words like "God" and "the", we just let that go until he could read. (Note: today he is the best speller of all my children.)

He loved learning and was soooooo smart. He could do analytical thinking usually only attributed to children  5 or 6 years older than him. He devoured books on his favorite subjects. He selected piles and piles of books from the library on volcanoes, the Titanic, and automotive repair (yes, automotive repair manuals at age 6 and 7!) As I had time during the day I would read them to him for 15 to 30 minutes at a time - usually 2 or 3 times during each day. (Note: on the repair manuals I would just have him pick out selected parts he wanted me to read for him, I didn't read the whole book.) His speaking vocabulary was amazing (but he still couldn't read Hop on Pop!) Since his younger sister (aged 5) was also still a non-reader I usually combined their general classes and this worked well to keep them together for language arts, science, and history. Only math and phonics was individualized.

There are many details that cover these years, but it would be impossible to write on every scenario we faced. If you have a question feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer it. But let's move on to age 8 1/2.

One morning we were sitting at breakfast and I suddenly noticed that #3 son was reading the cereal box! I was thrilled and brought him Hop on Pop. He zipped right through it. I grabbed up 2 or 3 other beginner readers and he read them all. At that point he was tired of reading so we quit for that day. The next day I gave him a couple 2nd and 3rd grade readers and he whizzed through those. We repeated this on days 3 and 4, each time increasing the difficulty level. On day 5 he dug out an issue of "National Geographic Magazine" that we had lying around. It contained an article on the Titanic. He brought it to me and asked me to read it to him as he usually did. This time I said that he should read it for himself - and he did! Within a month he was reading any book he chose to pick up - including car repair manuals.

Just as Dr. Moore had said - when his brain was ready it suddenly unlocked all the keys to decoding written language. It had nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with readiness. Because we had always read out loud to him, he had a great vocabulary. Now it was just a matter of linking up the spoken word to the written word, and with the keys all suddenly crystal clear, it happened at warp speed. My parents were delighted. Then they asked if his younger sister would learn to read like this as well! No - he was unique. The Princess learned to read bit by bit at a "normal" pace.

So there is the tale of the boy that learned to read in one week. I am so thankful for Dr. Moore!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Teaching Character - Part 2

In part 1 of Teaching Character I gave a general overview of the "Blue book" and the "Green Book". These photos depict a close up of one of the pages in the Green Book ~ its correct title is Achieving True Successs.

There is no Scripture in this particular book. I balanced that out by using the "Blue Book" ~ The Power for True Success.

One way to use the book is to chose a particular character trait on which to focus for a particular period of time. To fully soak in its meaning and to allow the Lord opportunities to bring real life lessons, we often focused on a trait for a month at a time. But you can also use this by determining a negative trait you want to address - in this case you can see the opposite character trait for Deference is Rudeness. So if rudeness is something that you are struggling to root out in your family, then by focusing on deference, you can highlight how rudeness has crept into your daily lives.

Another help to ingraining this character trait is to memorize the 5 "I Wills". This gives the children (and adults!) a hook and measure as to how deference is being portrayed in their lives. Granted there are many other ways to portray this trait, but a concrete starting point of the 5 "I Wills" gives one a place from which to launch out.

I also like the concise definitions of each trait. Children do not always understand exactly what that definition means, but as one lives it for a month of study, memorizes the 5 "I Wills" and then lives out the trait over the ensuing years, the definition begins to take on nuances and meanings as the child matures. After all, character is a lifetime goal, not an answer to fill in on a test and move on.

And last, I love how there are ideas to jump start what we can do in our homes to live out this character trait. My children loved to pick one or two of these activities or ideas and then carry them out. It always made them happy to bless someone else in the family.

Often there is an animal linked to this trait (though not always, occasionally it is a plant). These can usually be coordinated to correspond to a section of the Character Sketch Books. This gives a multilevel approach to each unit of study. And if you are using the ATI curriculum, then you can see how all the layers work together to teach that one concept/trait.

The Proverbs in general, and Proverbs 2 in particular, stress the importance of searching for Wisdom - not knowledge. I fear that in our society today we have reversed that order and knowledge is being given an exalted place. So many homeschool families fear that their children will not have enough knowledge, that they let wisdom (character) fall by the wayside. I have found that when I am faithful to put wisdom first, the rest will follow in ways I don't even expect.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Teaching Science

Science is one of my favorite subjects in homeschool. There are so many options and so many fun projects to do. I have always used a wide variety of options in this area as opportunities and materials were available. Here is a partial list:
Plant, tend, and harvest a garden (God does the growing).
Raise an animal.
Visit a museum or other science related site.
Do experiments - there are lots of books available on experiments with common household items.
Keep a science notebook or sketchbook.

The possibilities are endless - but my favorite, steady diet of science is from this 3 volume set pictured above.

CHARACTER SKETCHES from the IBLP ministries.

It is arranged so that there are groupings of 4 animals (occasionally a plant) depicting a single character trait. Each volume contains a wide array of traits such as Generosity, Loyalty, Determination, and so on. The art work and the science are amazing. The applications memorable. My daughter has even used examples from the texts in some of her college papers. One of her favorite selections is the Canadian goose representing loyalty.

Each animal also has a corresponding Biblical personage representing that same trait. We would generally spend 1-2 weeks on each animal, and up to 2 months on a particular trait. To round out the full study this was also used along with the Blue and Green books previously mentioned on this blog, and our ATI curriculum Wisdom Books. All focused on one character trait. But the Character Sketches books can also be used as a stand-alone study no matter what curriculum you are using.

And they cover a wide range of ages. The youngest children are fascinated with the art and a selection of stand-out facts. I continued our study all the way to 12th grade as a major part of our biology. To help back up the vocabulary and main ideas we also used the companion Crossword Puzzle books (though I do not know if these are available any longer as I did not see them in the IBLP store.) For younger children (and olders that like to color) there are the companion Coloring Books.

I know these are expensive - but they are a lifetime investment for your children. I know of a number of families that have managed to find used copies and that helps with the cost - though I can't imagine why anyone would part with the books once they have them! Ours are here to stay.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Teaching Character - Part 1

Below are two "Must Haves" for teaching character to your family - and yourself. I have used these two books at least 4 or 5 times each week. I study them and refer to them over and over. I have read them to my children regularly. I know of no other resource even close to these two books. (Have I said it strongly enough?) These are important.

Available Here
I call this "The Blue Book". Character traits are explained in detail using Scripture and notable quotes. The pictures are beautiful. The evaluation analysis at the end of each trait listing is thorough and brutally honest. We would do a section at a time with me reading it out loud. We would save the evaluation section for the end and use those questions to generate discussion - and prayer needs - as well as seeing how we measured up and where we needed to improve. We concentrated on one character trait each month.

Available Here
I call this "The Green Book". It is not as detailed and in depth and does not use Sripture, but this is where I get the *hook* to help my children visualize the character trait being studied. We learn the 5 "I Wills" for each trait. That gives us a means of understanding what that trait looks like in action. We also get ideas of things we can do in our family to practice that trait.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Teaching Reading

People have written books on how to teach reading. College students take an entire class on how to teach the subject. Lifelong careers are based around it as well. What can I hope to contribute in one puny blog post? - not much, but I can give my testimony of how our family has walked this path to literacy.

It is my amateur opinion that one never actually "teaches" a student to read. You facilitate a means to help that student figure it out for him/herself. And to make it even more interesting we never really know when that reading "light bulb" will turn on. Some children learn the decoding as young as 2 or 3 years old; some much older. It is not uncommon for that "much older" to reach 10 or 12 years old. The only book that I feel ever really helped me understand the process is called Better Late Than Early by Dr. Raymond Moore.

In our home we kept learning to read fairly simple and never had the bells and whistles type of curriculum materials one can find on the market today. My basic tool was simply the little (quite beat up looking) book pictured above: A Handbook for Reading from the ABeka publishers. We just read a page at a time until it was mastered, then went to the next page. Total time spent on phonics: 3-5 minutes on 3 or 4 days a week.
As the child mastered a goodly amount of lessons in the phonics book, I liked to add in books from the McGuffey Reader series. We never did all the lessons in all the levels, but we did quite a bit of them. They reinforced our basic phonics rules, and they used fat, juicy words like "hath" and "glorious". The McGuffey Readers teach character, respect, and include God and his creation as a normal part of life. The children do not get bored with the stories, and it lends itself to some interesting discussions on their level.

During this process of learning to read it is very important for your child's vocabulary to grow at a significantly faster rate than their ability to read. By the time my children were 4 or 5 years old we were regularly reading beginner chapter books. Our fist chapter book has traditionally been The Boxcar Children. We moved on to favorites like Mr. Popper's Penguins and Dr. Doolittle in short order. In fact we often had 2 or 3 books at a time that I would read out loud to my children. Usually a chapter book, a nonfiction book, and a bedtime book were all peculating at their given time of day. It is very (VERY) important that you read out loud to your children every day. This is even more important if you have a late-blooming reader. (I will have a testimony about this in an upcoming post.)

So there you have it ~ in one blog post how I teach my children to read.