Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let Them Help YOU!

Who really wants to just get thier projects done without happy little interferences from sticky little fingers?
Who, you?
Well, of course.
It is so much faster and more efficient if we just do it ourselves.

Or is it????

I tend toward the independent, just get it done way of doing things...
but this old dog is learning some new tricks.
Boy am I glad I am!

We had a Ladies Tea at church Monday evening.
Mrs. Rabe and I worked together to host it...
she more than I.

Anyway, I, being the idiot that I am said that I
would make sausage balls and fudge. I guess that it
didn't occur to me that we would be spending a large portion
of the day at the church decorating and that I would have a
last minute inspiration to get a pretty tree and decorate it.

Let me tell you that my daughter came to my rescue that day.
The beautiful thing was that she didn't know that I was out
of energy...she just wanted to make the sausage balls and the
fudge because she enjoys these things. She has been doing more
cooking and baking this year and is getting quite good at it.

So...if I stop and think about it...all of those very messy
times when I gritted my teeth and let her "help" were very
well worth it and there was a payoff on Monday as I snuggled
in my bed for a 15 minute nap while she stood in the kitchen
and made tiny little matching sausage cheddar balls.

Want the recipe?
From Cyndi Allison on the site.

2 cups Bisquick
1 pound sausage
10 oz. pack of shredded cheese (or just shred your own from a block of cheddar)

Put everything in the bowl and mix. This is easiest to do with your hands though it feels pretty gross at this stage.

Roll the mixture into balls, a little smaller than golf balls.
(We make ours smaller)

Place the sausage balls on a cookie sheet (We put ours in a cake grease drips in the oven).

Bake at 350 degress F for about 20 minutes. The Bisquick balls should be lightly browned wtih the meat cooked through.


Anyway, what I learned from this was that it was worthwhile to let those little hands "help" even before they were really capable.
So, grit your teeth and invite them to help you cook, clean,
fold the day it will be done the way you wanted,
or even better!

Becky K.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recommended Video..Madame Curie

We watched this in two sittings due
to our crazy schedule and needing to
do more than just science in the morning...

But let me tell you that this is a very
well done video about Madame Curie.

I recommend it for your middle to high
schoolers, primarily.

While it was made in 1943 and is in
black and should not be
ignored for those two facts. You'll
have to look long and hard to find anything
of this quality and interest in a biography
of this woman's incredible life.

I don't know where to tell you to find it
except Netflix, which is where we rented
it. It is also where I got the above photo.
Giving credit where credit is due...

If you do use this video, I would love to
hear what you think of it.

Becky K.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Home Ec

My home needed attention.

In my mind I was formulating a
list of things that needed to be

I wondered...would my kids know
what daily activities should be
done to keep a home? I am sure
that Chelsea would but what about
the boys?

So...this morning's schoolwork became
primarily about the responsibilities
of housekeeping and maintenance.

We made a list.

Each child with their own notebook.

We took a day...from the beginning...
and broke it down into steps that should
be taken daily in every well cared for home.

We moved on to the regular things that, while
not necessary on a daily basis, need to be done
regularly or the home will not function, smell
or look well.

Our list grew to cover nearly two pages.

There were items such as the obvious:
Vacuuming, mopping the weeding
and mowing out of doors.

Soon, I had three helpers folding a completed
load of laundry in front of me.

Imagine their chagrin as I told them how to
"properly" fold a bath towel. Huh????

I guess we need a bit more practice on that

Finally, I wrote three assignments each on
separate slips of paper. I had each of them
pull three. Then complete the tasks assigned.

This was good because while the all have chores,
those things are what they are accustomed to doing.
It has been simple to keep those things as each
child's responsibilities but this morning they
drew tasks that were unfamiliar to them. Fun!

There was an attempt at grumbling...but all three
went above and beyond in carrying out their assigned

Hopefully, they will have a better appreciation
for what it takes to keep a home. Not just the
perspective of those things we ask them to help

Becky K.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ideas for Schooling During The Holidays

Yesterday I posted about the great Ruby Doll Kit, and how that would be a fun way to do school during the holidays.

I am going to put on my thinking cap and try to get this ball rolling!

Let's see how many we can think of:

1. Read aloud from great Christmas stories! If you find books set in the same time period you are studying history, so much the better! I don't know if you do oral reading during your regular home school routine - we do all our history this way! My kids learn so much from getting involved in someones story! Even if you can't find good Christmas type stories, you could find historical fiction, maybe something you haven't read before and read aloud.

2. Make Christmas cookies for your neighbors. I found a set of Nativity cookie cutters at Berean Bookstore and we are going to make our neighbors cookies that tell the Christmas story. This could count for math and science (measuring and the chemistry of cooking), history, art.

3. Have your children make Christmas cards. Let them write the a verse inside that pertains to Christmas. This will give them practice on copywork, penmanship, art.

4. Divide up basic household chores. This makes your load lighter and can count as Home Ec.

5. Assign your children a writing assignment on what the Christmas season means to them.

6. Have your kids send Christmas cards to missionaries, especially if the missionary family has kids. This will be so encouraging to the missionaries as well as possibly develop a pen pal relationship for your kids.

Your turn to give me ideas!!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

More Christmas Schooling Ideas

This time of year always leads us to doing baking, crafting, sewing, knitting - all great Home Economics projects!

I found a great resource from Doorposts - The Ruby Doll!

This great kit gives you all the materials for making Ruby - a Proverbs 31 woman and her family! They give enough material for Ruby, her husband, 5 kids and a baby! Having 6 children myself, let me tell you most doll sets only include 1 boy and 1 girl! This is great for the larger family!

This kit also comes with lessons on sewing, stitching, there are lots of possibilities for fun as well as real skills to learn! I really like this idea for Christmas learning - not only do your children end up with dolls they can play with over and over (these would make great church dolls) but the lessons can be used during the holiday season for learning. Who needs to do regular math when you are learning measuring, who needs to do language arts when you are studying Proverbs 31? Bible? Of course! You can find this kit here.

I love to do some different kinds of learning during the holidays - it helps make it a special time for us all. We have plenty of time during the winter months to "hit the books." Break out and try something different!

It may just ease the stress of the season for you all!

I'd love to hear from you about what kinds of things you like to do during the holidays, to make learning fun!

So, How is School?

Has the "Holiday Bug" bitten you yet?

Is it hard to focus on the
school work at hand?

How about making your Christmas Plans
these last few weeks before Christmas
Day fit into curriculum?

You could do a history unit on the
time period surrounding the birth
of Christ. This is a time that
we often ignore in our usual Curriculum
Planning. But much happened and it
goes a long way to helping our students
with Apologetics. So often the Bible is
so familiar that we forget that it was a
real time with real problems and people.
Governments that operated well and poorly.
It is neat to figure out why something worked
or didn't. I love getting to know the background
of those who are mentioned in the Bible.
So many little time!

The younger ones could sculpt a Nativity
from clay or Play-Doh.

The olders could do a fine art piece of the
Nativity in pencil or paint.

The music offers much opportunity for learning.
It is a great time to mesh music and community
service by caroling in a Nursing Home or even
around the block!

Have fun with this time of the year. Know that
the regular curriculum may be looking dreary in
comparison to all of the excitement that the
Season brings. Roll with it....get to the Library
and take out books that are stories relating to
Christmas...see I just can't stop.


Becky K.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lang Lang - A Pianist with Passion

I love this guy's enthusiasm.

I have been a fan for a few years now.

This is a great demonstration of how he interprets the music he plays.

Beware of the is something else.

The children will relate to his passion.

Here he uses fruit to play a piece:

Hopefully the kids won't go home and make orange juice on thie piano!

Amazing Discovery

I am working on my music class for the Spring Semester with my Middle Schoolers.

We will be studying composers. This may be the best, youngest current composer I know of.

I will be looking for a way to allow the students to check this out.

In the meanwhile... be my guest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Helpful Resource

A club for Teachers.

This is on the Elmer's Glue Site.
There are projects to try out for art and science.

They don't care if you are a homeschool
teacher or classroom teacher.
It is free to join.

You receive occasional emails full of
ideas or you can check out the website

There are many uses for the common products
made by this company.

Have fun!

Becky K.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Literature for the Disinterested

Here is my theory...

Our non-readers are just readers who
have not found books to be passionate
about yet.

All of my children read at least at grade

I say finally, because Jonathan has real issues
that make reading difficult for him. At seventeen
he is able to read just about anything he sets his
mind to now, but it does not mean that it is easy for

Because of the way his eyes track and see things,
he gets headaches when he reads. It is very hard

We let him use a lot of Audio books for pleasure
"reading" with other reading required for his
school work.

Mikey does not read for least not
in the way I do. He would never pick up a novel
and just read it for fun...however...he reads all
the time!!!

Mikey is an avid Motorbike enthusiast and video
gamer. Another subject entirely...however, his
interest in these things has interested him in
reading absolutely everything he can get his hands
on on either subject. I do limit this when it
comes to the games, due to some
very nasty games that are often reviewed in magazines.
For this he has to get his information on specific games.
he is not allowed to read any gamer magazines because of
the broad content in them.
He knows and has been very good about it.

But when it comes to his own games he knows the game
manual inside and out.

Anyway, over the past couple of years Mikey has probably
read more than ever before in his life...because he has
found a passion.

He zipped through the Driver's Manual. I know he comprehends
what he read because he was using it against me in the
passenger's seat regularly. Tee-hee~ I'm not that bad...

Chelsea has always been an avid reader and will often
be awake late reading her favorite books. My issue with
her is getting her to try new authors. She tends to be

If your child struggles with reading...don't
give up.
Change something.

Try a magazine or books on a different subject.
Read out loud a lot!
Take them to the Library and let them choose whatever
looks great to them.
Encourage story telling of their own.
Act out a chapter in their favorite book.
Have them tell you an alternate ending.

Once you find their reading passion they will be hooked!

Just some thoughts as I think back on how we got three
great readers.

There were some very hard times in the process. I wish
I had been braver and given up the "reader" approach
sooner. While it worked for Chelsea, it was NOT my best
option for the boys. It worked against us.

So, go for it! Make those necessary changes. Then enjoy
the results.

Teaching is about finding what works...not processing

Love it!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Brain and The Ear

It has been so much fun and so enlightening
to study these parts of the body.

The kids seem to be enjoying it as much as
possible. They find things about it to amuse
themselves with. Little jokes.

It is truly amazing to see how many, many things
must work together in order for us to simply

To stand upright our fluid balance must
be exactly right.

To see how even the tiniest hairs inside our
heads have purpose.

The many, many thousands of neuro transmitters
that must interract properly for us to do
anything...anything at all.

I am in awe of a Creator who could put us
together just so and wonder at the creativity
and scientific knowledge that we have yet to
discover about this awesome God.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Eyeball

Yesterday, I grossed out Chelsea and got the boys
attention by studying the human eyeball.

Thankfully this was not hands on.

We did do some fun exercises that found
our "blind spot" and other interesting
things about our eyes.

The complexity of this thing we call vision
simply boggles the mind. To see all of the
parts that make it up, the connection to the
brain...the neuro pathways that have to work
in order for us to see.

Simply Amazing!

I was such a fun thing to learn about.

Next...we study...
The Ear!

For some reason when I was in Middle School
I was fascinated by drawing the inner ear.
I got over it...but I was really good at it!

Who knew???

Hope you are having fun in your studies.

Becky K.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

This Header Photo

I love this picture of Miss Rachel with her
Grandpa Bob. It is a joy to observe our children
interacting with their Grandparents. In both
the Rabe household, and in ours, Grandparents are
very present and involved.

My Mom is committed to teaching my children
Bible(all), Drivers Ed(boys) and Home Ec(Chelsea)
one day per week this year. I will love that
time for many reasons. Mom has a wealth of
wisdom and a great love for the Lord that she
will communicate, she has a lifetime of experience
to share from and this will make their relationship
even stronger than it is today, if that is possible.

Homeschooling is rich in relationships.
Intergenerational relationships.
This is a good thing!

Becky K.

Homeschool Co-op has Begun!


It began with a bang!

Nearly 60 families arrived at
the church auditorium with excitement
and trepidation.

The returning families were delighted to
see each other...the new families looked
a bit tentative.

Nonetheless, it was wonderful
to see every one.

I sat with many high schoolers as the opening
announcements were made. I have known many
of these young people since they were in elementary
grades. My, how they have grown.
And so nicely too.

It blesses my heart to see older siblings caring
for younger as some Moms have responsibilities in
leading the co-op.
There are no obvious complaints.
They just serve like that.

There are always things that need adjustments,
our co-op has those too. We are working them
out. I am so thankful for the solid foundation
of friendship that makes ironing out the wrinkles

Co-op is not just about the students.
The parents need this connection also.

Most times it is the Moms, however, lately
some of the Dads have been meeting together
quarterly for breakfast . I think this is
great. It is a very good thing to see these
Dads recognizing their part in the homeschool
process and wanting to do more to support their
wives and children.

Well, enough rambling.

I'll be back with updates every now and then.

Becky K.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fitting in Jobs and School

Working teenagers have been around for a very long time.

It is a bit different when we homeschool and try to be flexible with our school schedule to accomodate jobs.

Both Mrs. Rabe and myself are experiencing this during the early part of this school year as employers are eager to hire homeschooled teens because of their flex schedule. Our children work in the tourist industry of Lancaster County and will continue working until the end of October.

It becomes a challenge also as our children begin to stay up later and then want to sleep longer. It is known that teens actually need as much, if not more sleep, as their younger counterparts.

How am I dealing with this?

I am struggling, a little, to get everything in.

We are learning as we go.

I am sure that there will be days this winter that the public school students will enjoy snow days and ours will be snuggled up with a textbook. This is life as we know it. I personally love those days.

I also count some of the job time as school time.

Our children are learning so much on the job!

They are learning about working with people, responsibility, going to work when you don't feel like it, handling money (in some cases), doing customer service and so much more. All of our children work in a strong science environment and safety is a huge component of their jobs. They are all extremely physically active in their various positions. I consider it a work/school environment.

This does not relieve us from getting in the required math, english, history and science...those are continuing to be done...

If you are in this position, what changes have you made to accomodate a work schedule?

Becky K.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Food Science...

Does anyone have a good resource for teaching about food science?

I have two children interested in the subject and a book
on order but we will not receive it until October because
it is backordered.

I will go to the Library and search but I thought if you knew
of something it would be easier than starting from scratch.

Blessings on your day!

Becky K.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Friends, What Friends?

I put this header up because I love the
good times our children enjoy together.

Over the next few weeks I will change this header out
with other ones that show the active lives our
homeschooled children live.

They are busy, active and a whole lot
of fun!
Becky K.

This Poor Blog...

Sitting here all alone...

I have been ever so neglectful
of it all summer.

Not anymore!

Things are happening...we are
ready to share our fun and excitement.

We began school only to have our first
week be knocked completely full of holes
since all three kids worked a lot.

I know this is part of the process and they
are learning so much at their jobs. I just
need to adjust my expectations of the material
that we were able to get through for ourselves.

This week is somewhat better in quantity of
work we will get done...but Monday was a Holiday!

I was excited yesterday to get to the library and
find the materials I went for! That is cool!

We are studying Rome. It wasn't built in a day,
you know...sorry, couldn't resist.

I found a series of books about what it was like
to live in different time periods. I need to
preview them as they were not in the youth section.

Some very interesting things took place in those
early days and I need to see just how revealing these
books are...but I just know there will be usable
material there and I am beside myself with glee.

We began our year reading a youth fiction called
Time Shift. It was a great literature jumping off
point. Not because the writing was anything fabulous.
Definitely not a classic, but because the story caught
the kids attention and there are lots and lots of
helpful hints about writing in the story...the main
character loves to write...and everything he writes
actually happens...I used this to have the kids do
writing assignments, exercises in story ideas, etc.

It was a fun way to start lit this year.

When we were at the library yesterday, Chelsea
found the next book in the series and insisted that
we do that together next.

Enthusiasm is a very good thing!

Well, happy schooling to you this year.

Come back...


Becky K.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The CBD Order

It is an annual ritual.

However, it is usually taken care of long before now.
I've been just a bit busy this summer with moving into
the new Church Building and painting it, etc.

Crazy Busy.

Now it is time to buckle down and get the school stuff
done. So, last night, as I listened to the Olympics on
TV, I ordered most dreaded subject. Hopefully
this year will go well again with Teaching Textbooks.
We are into Algebra. I never got it...not after three
years. Thankfully Warren understands it and these Teaching
Textbooks are a Godsend.

I am looking forward to the beginning of school.

It is coming soon!

Becky K.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It won't be long!

We are about to begin a new school year.

This is headed into being our most exciting
and purposeful year yet.

Both boys are actually working toward life
career goals and we are able to make that
a major focus this year. Kind of like our
own Vo-Tech, if you like.

Jonathan is already hard at work learning
a 3-d animation program and has another one
just waiting for him. He has plans to shadow
the art department of a large local theatre.
We just need to set a date.

Mikey is excited to jump into his horticulture
studies with the goal of interning at Longwood
Gardens. He prefers to end up in their two year
program but will have to see if he would do better
to start with the summer high school internship next
summer. Grandma Ruth is very excited to help him
with his garden design and learning on this subject.
They share this passion.

Grandma Ruth is also excited to work with Jonathan
to get him prepared to pass his driver's permit test.

What does that leave me?


You know, all of the basics, fun with Chelsea,
and tons to do at Co-op.

How is your year shaping up?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gearing Up For The New Year!

I think I could do year round schooling. Truly.

I never used to think so, I looked forward to the summer break as much as my kids. I noticed this year though, that I wasn't ready to stop, I wanted to keep going, but as I was unprepared for that, we didn't.

Normally we start school the first week of August, but since we will have family visiting, I think we will get started a few weeks late. This coupled with my girls work at the maze, makes me worried we will be behind. I need to STOP the worry and pressure. We finished really early this year. I have all the time I need. I don't need artificial schedules.

I have all the required paperwork turned into the school district and we are ready to roll. I want learning to be a part of everyday life - I don't like "now it is time for school". I use those words, but I don't like them. I would rather say "do some math, now we are going to learn about the Romans etc...." We don't do school - to me school is desks and timetables and peer groups, and drama....

We are raising our children to love to learn and to do it in a natural way. Yes it is directed, but beyond the basics, we let them learn what they are interested in. It is delightful how much stays with them when they are learning what they have an interest in or passion for.

Now, since we have requirements required by the state, I am going to print off log pages for the girls. One more step toward the new year.

I'm excited!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Evaluations are Complete!


All of our evaluations have been completed.

All children did well.

Mommy is much relieved!

Now back to gardening!

Becky K.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Deep into Evaluations at Hospitality Lane

Jonathan has passed into 11th grade. He had his evaluation last week. I am so happy for him. His attitude was great this year and he jumped a couple of grades in math. Knowing how hard this subject is for him...I am very pleased.

Mikey and Chelsea have their evaluations this week. I am not worried about them doing well...they are great...I am worried about finding enough of their work to get the portfolios put together by Wednesday. It has been a "little" busy here of late.

Blessings on your day!

Becky K.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Identification Fun!

Hey, want to have some fun with your
children? Set them off to identify
these creatures that we have captured
on camera over the past two days...
Click on the picture to see it larger.

Becky K.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Library Visits

We love to go to the Library.

It seems to me each time I go
there are about 100 books to get
excited about.

Chelsea has been learning to use
the computer search feature to find books
that she likes.

Today I picked up The Girl of the Limberlost
for Chelsea to read.
I loved this book as a young girl.
She is a bit resistant as
she wants to pick her own books, however,
I reminded her that I have never picked out
a book or series that she didn't like.

Since Jonathan's reading is "tortured" due
to his dyslexia and eye focusing/tracking
issues we always find as many books on tape
as possible to keep his mind busy and on the
cutting edge. He reads shorter, simpler things
for school but I feel it is important for him
to enjoy literature at his level
so he uses the recordings
for this purpose.

Our most recent problem is finding decent material
that he hasn't heard. He loves to listen to these
as he goes to sleep every night. I always read myself
to sleep at his it is kind of like that.

Interestingly enough, Jonathan is the child who
loves books the most out of all of the kids. He gets
so excited about going to the library and is often
the one asking to go. Chelsea follows at a close second.
Mikey, the athlete, is a reluctant reader. He is capable,
just not interested.

Working with our children's interests is a definite bonus
to homeschooling. I love seeing what makes them tick
and then focusing in on that.

Blessings on your Day!

Becky K.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mrs. Rabe's Evaluation and just "stuff"

Hey people,

I know there aren't that many who read this
blog...but for those few who pop in here,

Thanks for stopping in.

Mrs. Rabe and family are enjoying their
evaluations today. I am pretty sure they
will not mind the evaluation since we share
the same evaluator and she is a blessing to
all who know her. She is full of encouragement
with a wealth of knowledge and information
gleaned from observing homeschool families
and their various patterns.

The best part for the Rabe family is that once
this is completed and the paperwork is in to the
school district the formalities are complete and
summer learning can be enjoyed. We never stop
learning, you know.

We just classify it for the school district.

I find it sad that so often we have been trained
to think that when summer comes our brains should
go into neutral...heavens NO! Just look at all there
is to see and do.

Yard Sales: Comparison Shopping, addition/subtraction, reading, public interaction, negotiating skills

Yard work: exercise, planning, volunteer opportunities

Our Pets: Discipline, science, recreation

Church: Bible, music, public interaction, opportunities for service, missions (Geography)

Vacation: Geography, history, science, recreation

Summer jobs: Interaction with people, math, organizational skills, discipline

Whatever you do over the summer don't forget to glean the most out of it. Make every moment fun and let it count. Let's not park our brains in neutral this summer.

Friday, May 2, 2008

On Being in a Co-op

Not everyone needs to participate
in a Co-op to Homeschool.
However, it can be very lonely
to go through the homeschooling process without
the fellowship of a co-op.

When I started homeschooling Jonathan
I did not join a co-op. I did not think
they were for me. After all, I was the
teacher and I knew what needed to be done
and why should I then go back to a classroom
type setting for thoughts.

Well, when I had all three kids at home and
we were in a new area the Lord led me to
a grocery store at least 45 minutes from my house.
I stood in the check-out line behind a very outgoing woman who
started a conversation with me.
Somewhere in the conversation
she asked if we homeschooled and let me know that
she did, as well. Robin was such a blessing to
me that day. I was a stranger in a strange land.

Before long we found ourselves invited to a field trip
with the co-op that Robin and her kids participated in.
It was the educational department of a huge pet store who
brought in all kinds of small animals and reptiles. The kids
loved it.

There were a few friendly faces that I will never forget from that
day. It just seemed that we should get involved. So we applied.
Yes, around here it is not guaranteed that you will get into the
co-op of your Lancaster County there are so many homeschooling
families that most co-ops have waiting lists. This was astonishing
to me!

The Lord led us exactly to the perfect co-op for us.
To be honest it was not easy.
I, who can talk to anyone, had a very hard time becoming
a part of this group. There were so many established friendships
that no one really needed another person in their group.

The kids struggled to find their place...there were many days of tears
as we headed toward the church where we meet. But, I was committed and
for some reason I just knew that we needed to persevere through the adjustment.

That lasted for two years!

For two years we felt like outsiders...

Then there were some changes...

I began to teach.

My children began to make friends, very slowly.

One Mom, in particular, reached out over and over
again. She kept setting playdates for our children.
Jana has been such a blessing to my children and I.
As have Josh and Kristen.

Chelsea is so shy. It was hard for her to assert
herself into a group.

Wow! As I think about what I have written it seems
so negative up until the last few sentences. But, I want
to be real. It is not easy every time to come into a
co-op. To be the "New family". But with time, prayer
and diligent effort to serve it is worth while.

I am now serving on the committee and delight in reaching
out to the new Moms if they seem like they are struggling.
I try to hearken back to 7 or 8 years ago and remember those
feelings of not fitting in.

Our children have blossomed and have made forever friends.

I am spending time with the young people in my position as
7-up Coordinator and have found them to be delightful, loving
young men and ladies.

Ours is not an academic Co-op, so much as a support to our
homeschool program. If I am doing a physical science,
there may be a lab offered through our co-op.
If my kids need a boost in writing or speech, I'll sign them up
for a class that will give them a little extra.

In the classes up through the 6th grade, music and gym are mandatory.
This helps to fulfill the needs of group activities. It is
harder to teach these at home. Playing baseball with myself and
three kids is just not the same as forming two teams and learning
how to play together as a team.

Wow, I have meandered through many thoughts on this but I just
want to encourage you. If you have struggled through the
decision or even the first year or so in the co-op, and there is
no real reason for you to leave it...hang in!
Reach out!
Get involved.
It is worth it.

Many thanks to Deanna, Belinda, Jana, Rosalee, Suealyce, Dawn, Marla, Robin, and the many, many others who have made this a safe and encouraging place to call,
"our co-op".
I appreciate all of you so much!

There is a lot of sacrifice in leadership
but the rewards are far greater.

Take the risk. You just might like it!

Your Friend,
Becky K.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Must Read

Run, don't walk, over to Pleasant View Schoolhouse, to read an excellent post on helping our children find their life's work.

You can find the post here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Saturday night Tim and I went to see Ben Stein's movie "Expelled." It was very good. I love the way he laid out his topic which is scientists getting "expelled" or even black listed for even mentioning Intellegent Design.

He starts out talking with a few of these top notch scientists, and then speaks with well-known evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins. It is not a movie to go to if you want a big laugh, or a car chase etc...but if you want to see what is happening in the world of science, which is supposed to be about asking questions and looking at evidence, then you will be throughly educated by this movie.
You can find the website which I believe includes a blog

ps - Thanks Becky!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Science and the Christian

We are discussing World Views in our
Sunday School Class.

It is a discussion that is rather like
candy for me. LOVE IT!

Yesterday, we got into the discussion of
how our world view affects our take on science.

It truly is the key.

Poor, Charles Darwin accidentally set off
a whole scientific chain of events by reporting
what he observed in a very small period of time
which overlooked and misread the long term effects
of these observations.

Later he regretted these conclusions, however,
it was too late to go back and get those who
were also starting from a wrong supposition to
change their minds.

We discussed the removal of the only correct
basis for science from the public school system.
It has been surgically amputated! Any reference
to God or Creation has been eliminated from the texts
used today.

Our Pastor is planning to see the Documentary, Expelled,
this week. I am anxious to hear how it handles the Christian
point of view.

The movie is a documentary about
evolution vs. intelligent design.

I will be waiting to hear what he thinks.

I think that I will be writing a series of
posts for this blog about
World View and Science.
Check back.
This is so crucial to our understanding of
our world.

Becky K.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Writing a Research Paper

O.k. the subjects are varied.

One is doing research on the band, Switchfoot.
Believe me, after weeks of trying to
get this one to choose a topic I am fine
with this. Wouldn't have been a few weeks
ago....but I am now...

Another is doing hers on Bowling.
Love it!
She has been so creative in the
layout and research for this paper.

The third...let me see...I am drawing a
blank...Oh, that's right...Coins!

He loves money! I took him to the Library and
set him loose in the adult nonfiction area with
the mission of finding a subject that interested
him enough to report on.

It is cool because his Grandpa had quite a love
of coins and because he worked with vending machines his
whole life had quite a collection of unusual coins.
Mikey has been able to peruse the collection and
learn more about the coins that intrigue him.

As far as I am concerned...finding the right topic is
the hardest part of writing a paper.

After that, the kids are on their way with the reading
and actual research. Finding several sources and creating
topical headings for the actual organization of the paper.

Now they are all in the stage of writing the body
of the papers.


Would be for me.

Chelsea enjoys it.

Mikey is enjoying it more than he thought he would.

Jonathan? It is too soon to know. He took
so long in choosing a topic that his paper is in
its very infancy.

That is what we are in the midst of at Hospitality Lane.

Blessings on your day,

Becky K.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Calling our Students to a Standard of Excellence

It has long troubled me that
my children have a propensity
to try to do as little as
possible to get by.

But, if I think about it
I was that way too.

It is the natural way.

We have a friend who's daughter
is a neat freak and loves to
clean and organize. This girl is
the exception to the rule of most
families I know. I love her dearly
and want her for a daughter-in-law
so that I can live out my final
days in neatness. Ha!

However, part of our responsibility
in raising our children is to teach
them the meaning of excellence and
what that looks like in the every day
school day and in all that they do.

Easier said than done.

However, I think that a lot of this
is taught by example.

I know I fail at this often but it is always
my goal to complete every assignment, task or

With excellence.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms...
Becky K.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Longwood Gardens and "Thank You!"

It is getting easier to do school again
now that we are feeling better.
Thank you, so much, for your encouragements!

This year's flu was just so devastating!

Yesterday, Mikey began the research for
his paper on old coins.

This is right up his alley as the lover
of money that he is.

Chelsea and Jonathan were able to enjoy
a different kind of learning as we went
back to Longwood Gardens.

We used our imaginations, our eyes, our noses
and even touch to enjoy the beauty and
fun all around us in this magical place!

While Jonathan was traipsing through nearly every
inch outside, Chelsea was learning how to put the
camera to very good use.

Here are a few of the pictures that Chelsea and Warren took.
Warren showed Chelsea
how to use a couple of the features
on the camera.

We spent some time in Mr. Dupont's home...while we were there I took a picture of a frog garden ornament. Chelsea looked at my shot and decided that she knew better how to take the picture. Here they are...mine first, then Chelsea's.

She was right!
Love that kid!

Well, for more pictures from our fun afternoon at Longwood Gardens check out my blog, Hospitality Lane or Chelsea's It's About Friends Blog. The pictures will be on her blog later today.

Blessings on your day!
Becky K.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Help! The School Year has stalled...

I am struggling this week to get back in the
swing of things since we all had the flu.
We are off of the track and need to get back on.

There is so much math to be done!


Any encouraging words will be appreciated.

Most Sincerely,


Sunday, March 16, 2008

How Has Your Homeschool Year Gone?

We are nearing the end of our school year. I like to review what we have done during the year and to see where we can make improvements for next year. I like this picture above because it makes me think of my older girls and their love for reading. For one of them this is the year that reading became something she did for pleasure, for the other the love of reading continued strong. For our younger girls, one of them has delighted in her reading as well, and the other is just starting to sound letters out! What fun this is for me. I love reading!

In September, we went to Colonial Williamsburg. This was such a treat. Since it was a Homeschooling week the tickets were so inexpensive and made it affordable for our family. While there we met up with friends from our homeschool co-op!

Our cat Chloe had her second little of kittens.

Our dog Samantha had her first litter of puppies. 11 of them!

In December, we had a Jane Austen Christmas Ball! These are the students in my "Pride and Prejudice" class.

We also have done the usual subjects like math, science and history. These we have done well with. Below is a picture of Lindsay's biology lab class.

Areas we need to do a bit more work on are writing and health. I have daughter's who like to write a lot, and have one who would rather dissect a frog, than write. She can do it, and does well, but she just isn't a writer. So she has to work at it, force herself to do it. :)

Overall, I would say that we have had an excellent year of learning. How about you?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Change of Pace

Today we are doing something different.

We are still learning, of course, but as I have a cold, and don't feel like trying to read history aloud, I decided to bring on the fun!

First of all, we did spelling. Then 2 of my girls worked on their Botany, while my oldest girl work on a Story Starters story. She hates to write, but the story is about a horse or two so that should make it less painful for her!

Now, there is art going on. I have a neat book Usbornes's "The Children's Book of Art", by Rosie Dickins. Not only does this book talk about famous artists, and show their different styles, it gives this Mom a jumping off point for trying out the different styles. Today they are making paper collages, ala Henri Matisse. When he got to be 80 years old, he could not longer paint due to health issues. So he turned to what he called "Scissor Painting", or collage.

The girls also did some Home Economics by making a yummy salad for lunch. Later there will be some writing my the younger girls, and of course reading. I think we may do some music appreciation today, as well.

I love these opportunities to mix it up a bit and do the "fun" things!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Let him Write about This...

Neither of my boys just love to write...

Chelsea and I are the opposite.

I have a theory though...

I think that both boys really like the process
of being creative in writing if they are not
told what to write or if they feel that I am not
going to pick apart the spelling and grammar.

I believe this because they will choose a writing
assignment over math any day of the week and it is
usually very good, if you can overlook the spelling

Therefore, I am upping the ante a bit this week.

I will be assigning a research paper with a specific
topic and several questions to be answered.

Mikey will be doing his on Why the X-Box 360 has had
so many issues with overheating. How this has effected
anyone he knows who owns this game system? How this may or
may not effect him. What is one to do if they own a defective
system. What is the manufacturer's warranty and how has that
changed over the past year? What is the Red Ring of Failure?

Who knew there were so many pressing questions about the
X-box 360????

I know that this is a topic that will interest Mikey.
I also know that he will not be thrilled that I want
specific information and to have it put into a specific format.
He gets something...I get something.

Mikey has been a bit more interested in learning spelling
since taking on wii e-mail with a fellow homeschooler.

Ahhh...this is when it is important to know how to spell.


But, before I give him this assignment I must treat him with
much tender care as he is very sick with the flu right now.
Hopefully by Wednesday...

See Ya!

Becky K.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Last Thursday's Music Class

Sometimes you just have to

We needed to review the music
genres we have been studying
at my co-op class.

We did this by playing games.

We played Hangman...

Musical Chairs...

Name that genre...

and a quiz type game.

The kids had fun.

It is hard to pick out a specific
genre if it is close to another.

Sometimes both could be correct.

Such as Spiritual and Gospel.

Sometimes the two are almost

Anyway, I think that a few of these
students are grasping that music class
does not have to be boring and all about
lines and notes.

Not that these are bad, but if a
child is not interested in the
first place these hold an even
smaller place of interest for them.

It is so enjoyable that the time just
flies by!

Teaching rocks!

Becky K.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Speech Class

Our Chelsea is very shy.
Painfully so sometimes...

But she is strong!
She is a very determined
young lady who will achieve
whatever she sets her mind to.

This year her desire at our
co-op was to take flower
arranging. Not a bad course,
at all, and I could have let her
do that...

However, there was a speech class
that I thought would be just
perfect for Chelsea.
It was for resistant
Whether they are shy,
or just disliking
of the process of
writing and giving of

I signed both she,
and her brother, Jonathan up.

I know that Chelsea struggled
with this... a lot.

At the most surprising times
over the months and weeks before
the class began she would make
comments about the upcoming class
and, at first, how she really did not
want to take it.

Once she figured out that I wasn't
changing my mind...she is not the only
strong willed person here...
The comments began to change to,
"I have decided to just do my
best in the speech class, Mommy".
She would say things like this out
of the blue.
She was just pondering it and making
up her mind to work through her

This was what she posted at her blog

"At co-op this year I'm taking a class on public speaking (something I'd always dreaded) but my teacher is awesome and she makes it fun (just like my mom said she would, I have to confess). Anyway, it's not that bad, my brother, Jonathan is in this class too, and so is one of my friends. Besides it's not like I'm the only one giving speeches, the whole class has to do it.

On Thursday I'll give a demonstration speech,
I'm going to show how to make chocolates, because that's something I like and know how to do. But I still have to practice here at home so that I don't forget anything while I'm there. You know, so that I'll have a fresh idea for it.
I need some for everybody to try and I'm not going to have time to make them and let them harden there."

This girl is making her Momma very proud. I am thrilled to call her mine!

I just know you have children who pleasantly surprise you with the maturity that pops out when you least expect it.

I hope you'll tell them how proud you are of them today.

Becky K.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Day Interrupted...

I usually get much satisfaction out
of completing our schoolwork
while the "regular" schoolkids, for
lack of a better word, get snow days.

Friday, however, their snow day
and our "sick" day coincided.
So, while we are not behind...
we are not a day further ahead either.

Oh well!

No big deal...

Becky K.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Pre-Review Review

As I think back over this school year,
thus far,
I am mentally attempting to track
our progress against my preconceived
notions about what this year would be

Let me see...

The Bible side of things is better
than I imagined.
Our Pastor is doing
a fabulous series of Sunday School lessons
from the minor prophets. There is so much
history and theology discussion starters in
there that I never even thought to think
about. we prepare to begin a new Church
Work there are by-laws to read and understand.
This is an ongoing process for Jonathan.
It is good.

Math is slower than I had hoped for.

Science is different than I originally
planned but is falling into place very

Literature has been very interesting and
we are seeing results of the labors.
Poetry is being read and written,
books are being consumed. They are
coming alongside each of the other
subjects nicely.

Two children are taking a speech class.
Chelsea brought books home from
the Library to learn to be a better
public speaker...she looked them up
on the computerized system herself.
Mommy was pleased at this initiative.
She has been looking books up for a long time
it was the subject that pleasantly surprised me.

History is tying in with our reading.
We have studied many far away places and
have done more of a unit study this year than
ever before. It has been fun.

One child is working and is being quizzed by his
boss on various subjects.
Somehow Mikey learns better from his boss
than from his Mom. Hmmmmm.....
As long as he is learning...right?

Chelsea continues to progress in her
French lessons.

Jonathan continues to show a good
attitude and has mastered math concepts
that he never could before.

Mikey continues to "HATE" school...
but watches Mythbusters....real world science...
in his spare time.
I do not tell him it is science.
Mums the word!

He did make several favorable comments
about our current read-a-loud this week
and was inspired by it to draw a picture,
unsolicited, of one of the scenes described.
He thinks they should make it into a movie.
Think it has his attention?
Remember, he hates books...ha!

The rocket building and blasting fun
will pick up again soon, as the weather
gets more agreeable.

We have been budgeting, researching, and
learning about how the real world works financially.

We have been active with friends and church.

Co-op has again been a huge blessing in rounding
out the edges of our school year.

There are so many things that are positive...
things that keep us going.

The children are maturing at an alarming rate
and soon will be putting all of this learning
to the test...out there!

It has been an interesting year... this year.

We have had our ups and downs but progress is
being made!

I'm good with that.

Becky K.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Giving a deserving teacher Credit!

There is a teacher at our co-op
who for years has quietly come in
and served without much notice.

He is one of the few Dads who are
there each week. In fact, for the
first three years he taught he never
even got a name tag. He is just that
quiet that we can easily overlook

Jake teaches about the Civil War.
He served in the, not during the
Civil War...he is not a ghost! lol
But he has taught about the Naval Battles,
Ground Skirmishes and even a book study on
Uncle Tom's Cabin.

This man puts so much time and effort into
his classes. This is after working the overnight
shift at the local post office.

So, here I am right now, saying...
Thank You, Jake!
You are appreciated.
My boys have learned so much from you.

Last night Jonathan drew a map of
"your world" for me on the television
in Dry erase marker.

Too funny!

Thanks for having the kids get together
today for the viewing of Gettysburg.
They are looking forward to the pizza, fellowship...
oh, and the movie too! Ha!

So, you see, we have the greatest teachers in our
co-op and I am so glad that we get to enjoy the
fruits of their labor!

Having parents share their knowledge and talents
has worked very well for us.

We are thankful for the pooling together of
the resources available.

Becky K.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

4-6th Grade Music Today

Our class today will be learning about Patriotic Songs.

We will be learning the history of and singing parts of the following songs:

The Star Spangled Banner
You're a Grand Old Flag
Yankee Doodle Boy
My Country Tis of Thee
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
This is My Country!
America the Beautiful

In this historical time of debate about religion in government, I have found it interesting to reread the lyrics of many of these songs and to find that the writers did not hesitate to give credit and glory to our God and Creator.
Our country has been singing them without hesitation for many years.
Why begin to cringe at mention of our Creator now?

Blessings on your Day!

Becky K.

P.s. I know it is Valentine's Day and could have done a theme about that but I looked briefly and did not see any songs that were exceptional enough to do an entire class on.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jonathan - the Poet

I got a kick out of this poem.

This morning I told Jonathan that it was a free writing
assignment. In other words he could write about anything
his heart long as he was writing.

We have been studying poetry for a while now and
for most of this morning a flock of starlings had
been hovering and landing off and on in the field
across the street.

Put those two things together and add Jonathan's
creative vocabulary get this:

The Birds, Birds, Birds
By Jonathan K.
Inspired By
Edgar Allen Poe’s
The Bells

The chittering, chattering
Birds, Birds, Birds,
The twittering, twattering
Birds, Birds, Birds
The Kickling, Cackling
Rippling, Rattling chorus monotony
Of the
Birds, Birds, Birds
Birds, Birds, Birds
The beady blinking eyes
Of the
Birds, Birds, Birds
Birds, Birds, Birds
Birds, Birds, Birds
Birds, Birds, Birds
As they sit…

He amuses me!
He must be my son!
Becky K.


I have a friend who has a daughter with some math challenges. She knows that this is one of the biggest areas that Jonathan struggles with, so she came to me to see how we deal with it.

I encouraged her to focus more on her daughter's attitude than the quantity of the work completed.

This is why I say that.

When a child struggles with a subject it can be that either they have no desire to learn so are not putting forth an effort or they really do not get it.

I have seen both at work here. Jonathan really tries and cannot easily get concepts whereas Mikey gets most everything and is therefore bored and thinks that he hates school...sigh. I am working both ends of the spectrum here.

If I continue daily to expect Jonathan to move on through and past information that he did not grasp just to keep up a schedule
I am not helping him.
It serves to make him angry with himself for poor performance and then self-fulfills his prophecy that he can't "get" math!

If I can break that same schedule up into bite sized pieces that he can handle and he sees himself with some level of success each day it enables him to build the confidence that he can do it...sometimes this is possible for him...sometimes not.
As I said in a previous post we have made compensations for his inability to memorize the multiplication tables in the interest of his being able to move forward in higher math processes.
That has been a very good thing.

Having success nearly every day has enabled Jonathan to proceed much farther this year than I would have predicted possible. I am excited for him and look forward to seeing how far he gets.

Having my friend ask these questions was good...but to get an e-mail four days later with much excitement that her daughter had gotten a concept that she had been struggling with was even better!!!

Sometimes we, as the mom/teacher, need to relax a bit so our children can succeed.

Do you know what I am saying?

Have you ever been in a pressurized situation where someone is just really on your case to do something and the harder they push the more you focus on the fact that they are pushing and less on the task that they wish for you to complete?

I think of myself at a grocery store counting out change. If the cashier is all anxious and huffy I can be distracted by her attitude and lose count making it take all the longer. This just makes the situation worse. I believe that many times this is what we do to our children by expressing, verbally or not, our own frustration at their seeming inability to learn.
They focus on the "Can'ts" instead of the "Can's".
They worry about our level of frustration to the point of distracting themselves.

When we relax and watch for an attitude that is trying...and then work along side the struggling an encouraging way...we get much better results than we would have by just trying to be work processors with these challenged children.

So, that was my point about the attitude. If your child is demonstrating that they are trying but just are not getting it...make a compensation...cut the lesson size down...let them do it in three days instead of one...whatever it takes for them to see success. Sometimes I have just skipped a chapter if need be and come back to it later.

Be flexible. Relax. Your child will get what he or she is capable of and that is what God designed them to achieve.

I would be amazed if God has a career in math planned for Jonathan.

However, I can easily see Jonathan in ministry, counseling, writing, art or many other areas where he is extremely gifted.

Let us try not to major in our children's minors...but keep keeping on...getting to the next their pace.
Always encouraging and lifting these children up!

Your friend,

Becky K.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Adding on to Mrs. Rabe's Post

I guess you get the idea that there are two writers here.
You'll just have to check out the end of the post to see which of us it is that is doing the post.

Our family has been judged by neighbors and family,
at times,
for choices we have made to
keep the children close by.
To really be their primary influencers.
We strive to keep their social life rich
and enjoyable by hosting many functions in our
home and allowing them to have friends over often.

This does not mean that our children
live in a vacuum!
They are exposed to many different
thoughts and ideas, they visit other places.
Mikey has a job that he is at most days
in the "real world".
It simply means that we are intentionally
exposing our children to the world
in a controlled manner.

This may rub some the wrong way.

I am not sorry for our choices.

The fruits are being born out.
We have children who socialize well
with people of all ages,
who have a multitude of friends,
who love us and express it,
who love the Lord and
for the most part strive to serve Him.

We are not perfect...
by any stretch of the imagination.
We have issues.
The kids still manage to meet bad influencers...
but imagine if we were not as closely
involved in their lives as we are?
It is a very scary thought to this momma.

Recently, we had to assist one
of our boys in pulling the plug on a
bad relationship.
Someone he met at a Christian Camp.
Nothing is perfect.
We cannot protect them from everything.

We can, however,
do everything possible to
maintain a loving and safe environment
for them to come home to.
A place of unconditional love and support.

Are we odd?
In the sense of the general population,
yes, we are odd.

Is it worth it?
Yes! For us, it is!

We are also not blind to the fact
that we can do all that we know to do and
one or more of our children may not follow
the Lord, for a time or forever.
That is in the Lord's hands.
All we can do is be obedient
to His leading in our lives.

If you are struggling with any
of these issues, I would love to hear
from you and to encourage you that part
of loving your children means protecting
their minds and hearts in those growing years.

It is a battle in today's society.

The commercials on tv are enough to make
me want to throw it out the window on most days.
It makes me tired.
But, that is the battle that we
have been called to as Christian Parents.

Rise Up!

Lets raise up a Christian Generation, for the Lord,
with His help!
Your Friend,
Becky K.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Obeying God, Even If It Makes You Odd!

Dear Friends, I am so sorry that I have been basically absent from this blog! Call it busyness, sickness, dealing a with difficult it life!

I had a wonderful phone call today from a member of our co-op. Her family is being lead by God to be careful with their children's influences whether it be movies, friends, youth group...They, by the choices they are making, are feeling abit lonely, even in their church. It was neat to be able to encourage her that they are not alone.

I find it so sad that so many Christians today are swept up in the things that the world tells us are important. For their daughters that often means boys, makeup, trendy clothing, an attitude. For their sons it means, attitude, girls, trendy clothes, walking the edge of appropriate speaking...It is sad that families who are being lead to lead their children, who want to be the main influencers of the kids, are made to feel well, odd, old fashioned, out of touch with reality.

My family has been through this. We have felt alone at times, but now I simply do not care. my husband and I are called to lead our children in the way they should go....Now this is not to say that your child as they grow up will not choose to walk in the way of the world. Doug Phillips says that if your child walks with the Lord, it is the GRACE of GOD! I agree. I have a child who is no longer a child. This one has chosen to walk in the world. That does not change the responsibility my husband and I had with him to teach him truth, nor does it change the responsibility to our other children. We will continue to obey God, in the paths He has lead us down.

There is peace in being where He wants you to be. Don't be afraid, you are not alone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Demmes talk on Family Relationships

Last evening our Countywide Homeschool Organization Presented a Workshop for Parents and teens. Our speakers were Steve and Ethan Demme who travel extensively and speak on relationships in the family. It turns out that the Demme's live in the Lancaster Area and were very much looking forward to offering their speaking gifts to the local homeschool community.

They were excellent. I warned Jonathan and Mikey to be on their best behavior since we are on the Board of this organization and as soon as I said it I flashed back to my time growing up as the Preacher's Kid. There were just certain things expected that not everyone else had to live by...I did not like that and here I was doing it to our boys.

I don't think I would have needed to give that admonition. From the moment Steve Demme took the podium he had every one's attention in the room. He was good! I could not resist taking a peek out of the corner of my eye at the boys when certain things were said...they were right there...getting it!

After Steve Demme spoke his son, Ethan, came up. This guy connected with everyone so well and with such humor. Mikey said afterward he felt like he was watching a stand up comedian. The points that this 25 year old homeschooled, college graduate got across were great!

Between the two speakers here are the highlights:
1. The Love of God for us and then the Love within the family.
2. Children are to obey their parents.
3. Parents are responsible for the instruction of their children.
4. Fathers are reminded not to provoke their children to the point of anger.
5. That parents should not be hypocrites. Our children know us better than we know ourselves.
6. The importance of the company we keep.
7. How important it is to understand the learning style and personality of each child. It matters!
8. That we are raising these children to be adults so there is a time that is hard for all involved as changes happen and we let go more and more...
9. God has no grandchildren and so the spiritual walk of the child will be different from ours. We are not making clones of ourselves, spiritually.
10. Teaching kindness and compassion for others.

These were Steve's main points. He shared them with such humility and humor that his time with us just flew.

Then Ethan talked about his experience with his brothers and how different they each are from one another but how they interacted.
He brought in the different learning styles and how his oldest brother is in graduate school now going for his PhD but is kind of lacking in the common sense things of life where he and his younger brother are more average students who have both graduated from college.
Ethan is now doing the things for a living that he hated most in his school years, writing and public speaking...and he loves it! He encouraged the students to keep an open mind to these things all the while telling them how much he had hated it.

Ethan talked about the moments that every homeschool family is familiar every activity is a teaching moment. The grocery for the cheapest price per ounce, the historical markers along side the road, anything and everything is a learning experience...Ethan is now married and is still homeschooling himself as He now stops and reads the historical markers and he reads lots and lots of books and he shops for the cheapest price per ounce.

He stressed that he had to learn to think critically for himself because he truly bought into everything his parents had taught him until he hit college and found out they weren't right about everything.
Steve backed him up on this.
It is true that we, as parents, need to be sure to offer our children the information that there is more than one way to think about anything. We can give our reasons and support it with scripture if it is available...otherwise it may not be something in which our children need to think exactly like us.

There was so much! I highly recommend the Demmes. You can find their web site at

You may also know of Steve's math program: Math-U-See.

Have a great Day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Opera Music Lesson for Elementary Age Children

This is the third in the Prince Bob Music Lesson Series:

Matilda Leads an Opera

Our Cast of Characters:

Matilda: The Diva – One who thinks the world revolves around her. She is it!

Matilda is preparing for her big Opera for Prince Bob – celebrating the recapture of all of the greased pigs and the prowess of Prince Bob at being a world class Greased Pig Catcher.

The Chorus: This fine group of young people divided into four groups.
One group sings: The Prince, he catches the pig!
The second Groups sings: Yes, Indeed he does!
The third: Hurray for Prince Bob!
The fourth: The pigs are back!

Our Story –

We find Matilda in the dressing room preparing for her starring role in the
Celebration of the Pigs Return Opera. An Opera is a drama set to music.

Matilda: Oh, hello children! You are finally here. Oh my, we must really hurry. The performance is just this evening and we are not ready!

Matilda to herself: Hmmm… I wonder what these children know about an opera…I think I will ask them…

Ahem! Children! You! Little people with big grown up attitudes…what do you know about opera? Hmmmnmm? Come, Now. Do not be shy….

(Talk about Opera and their opinion of it. What do they know?)

Fill in some here with facts: Opera can be traced back to ancient Greece. As Opera began to flourish in 17th century Italy it also spread to other parts of Europe. An Opera is a Drama set to music. An Opera available at the Local Library is Hansel and Gretel. Mozart and Handel wrote Operas as well as others that we may not be as familiar with such as Arnold Schoenberg who wrote Moses and Aron.

How to sing with a classical voice. As Renee Fleming once said: “We are screaming in a very cultivated fashion”. The reason? A big theatre and no audio mikes in the early days. The sound had to be projected. This takes the training of certain muscles in the body and learning breath control. As an athlete would train, so must the classical singer.
Singing with an “Open Throat” - To insure the least possible strain on the vocal chords.

Parts you may hear are : Sopranos, Mezzo Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, Baritones and Basses. They go from highest pitch to lowest pitch in this order.

Did you ever hear of the Three Tenors? They have an operatic sound.

Back to the Story...

Well, if you have been sent to me today to prepare for this evening’s performance we had better get to work.

You, young man – come here! I need you to be the Prince for our rehearsal. These children need to learn to bow and curtsy. You will please be seated while these children sing to you.

Young lady! You will be the Prince’s escort for the evening. So…. You sit here just beside the young man and mind your manners. You are a fine lady indeed!

Now, you, you, you, you and you! Come and stand here….now no wiggling! You must be very still. You will be singing a most important part….well, not as important as mine, but still….anyway you must learn your part. It goes like this:
“The Prince, he catches the Pig!”
Please, sing it with me now. Oh, not so good…please sing it again! Ahhh much better.
Do you know that you must sing it with all of the joy enthusiasm expected of us by Prince Bob!

OK – Now dear funny faced children: I need you, you , you , you , you, you and you! You will be singing a part that goes like this: “Yes! Indeed he does!”

Stand still and be very serious! This is big business! My fourth cousin three times removed, Alfreda, started in the Opera when she was about your age! How old are you, my dear girl. Why yes! She was exactly your age when she first performed in the Grand Opera Houses of Italy!
I, myself got a bit of a later start when I stumbled on this wonderful musical form in a town called Venice. Oh, it was sweet. The soprano – you know the most important one in the Opera – wink! – was just adored by her fans and I soooo love to be adored that I just sucked in all of the air around me and began to let out these noises. At first I sounded like this….(little sound)

Then this….(medium squeaky sound)

But finally I began to sing like a bird (give a real open throated clear tone)
and the crowds came out to see me that it has been a big pleasure ever since!

Oh, my dear little ones we must keep preparing for our performance…

Now I need you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you and you! Over here! This is also a very important part so you must pay attention!
You will sing: Hurray for Prince Bob!

Sing with me now… Hurray for Prince Bob!

Quickly now, the rest of you sweet cherubs over here please. We need to learn your part for this evening’s grand performance.
You will be the …ahem…most important part of all…except mine, of course.
Here is how it goes:
“The pigs are back!, The Pigs are back, the pigs are back!” (think Figaro)

Do you have it? O.k. My Dears this is what I need you to do:

When it is your turn to sing your verrryyyy important parts (Big wink) I will wave my freshly manicured hand in your general direction. Please, young ones, watch my hand!
Do you like it, The nail color, I mean….It is the newest thing….

Oh, my, how I digress…back to the show!

Matilda Sings:

It was a lovely day. The day the pigs were found. We found the one called Gospel and then the one called Blues…although he was a tricky one.

We took them to the fairgrounds where the Prince he played his favorite game.

Part One: The Prince, he catches the pig!
Part Two: Yes, Indeed he does!
Part Three: Hurray for Prince Bob!
Part Four: The pigs are back! (3x)

Matilda Sings

We captured Hip Hop piggy and then Praise and Worship was a trip.
They capered all around the place costing Mrs. Smith her hip.

Once again the Prince he played:

Part One: The Prince, he catches the pig!
Part Two: Yes, Indeed he does!
Part Three: Hurray for Prince Bob!
Part Four: The pigs are back! (3x)

Matilda Sings

That young Spiritual was a hoot as he ran around the laundry shoot!
Then Showtunes put on quite a show as she slipped on some wet balloons.

Then again that happy Prince played:

Part One: The Prince, he catches the pig!
Part Two: Yes, Indeed he does!
Part Three: Hurray for Prince Bob!
Part Four: The pigs are back! (3x)

Matilda Sings

Rock and Roll took off and stayed until the last
And then was caught and so we played:
While Prince Bob came out
To catch that last one for himself:

Part One: The Prince, he catches the pig!
Part Two: Yes, Indeed he does!
Part Three: Hurray for Prince Bob!
Part Four: The pigs are back! (3x)

The End!
Everyone Bows or curtsy’s for Prince Bob and His Lady.

If we were going to genuinely perform an Opera we would, of course, learn parts and act things out. In this class setting, however, my only goal is to introduce the musical style and some of the history. I hope to take away that shudder that we often experience at the very thought of opera. While doing research for this class I have found that “clean” opera seems to be hard to find. Still, it does not need to detract from opera as an art form and can be absolutely beautiful as some that were written by Handel, who also wrote the oratorio, Messiah.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Music Class Lessons...

O.k. This is me being vulnerable. I could not decide whether to share this with you, or not...but here it is...Lessons about Prince Bob.

Lesson One:

As my helpers took attendance I stepped into an adjoining room and into a silly costume consisting of a very bright green sweater, purple, pink and green swirly pointy hat, and a multicolored scarf.

I came loudly into the room proclaiming: Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye...then proceeded to tell this story about Prince Bob. I am Schmee...Prince Bob's Personal Assistant.

Once upon a time there was a great Prince of a great land. The Prince’s name was Bob.

Everyone loved Prince Bob. He had curly red hair and wore knickers that had pink and purple polka dots on them. It was a fashion mistake that just endeared him to the people of his land.

(I colored a silly picture of a young boy dressed like this and showed it to the class.)

Prince Bob has two passions in life; music and greased pig catching. Anytime he could think of an excuse there would be a festival and you could find Prince Bob there among the people of his land, having the time of his life.

Prince Bob loved music so much that he named the pigs in the greased pig catching pens after it. He named one Classical, the others Jazz, Blues, Rap, show tune, Rock ‘n Roll, Country, gospel, Ballad, Praise and Worship and Spiritual.

It was a rule of the land that whenever a pig was caught the band would strike up a song in the genre of the name of that pig. Ahem: can you help me with that word, genre? Everyone is too ashamed to ask Prince Bob….

Well, one day the people of this fair land were out at the games. The band was ready to play and the winds were blowing. Prince Bob’s red curly hair was tossed by the wind and his knickers were unusually bright on this day. This scared the pigs and they tried to get away.

Sure enough, out through the pen they went. They scattered all throughout the local neighborhood. People began to find them in their garages and basements. Sometimes these pesky pigs were rooting through their trashcans…sometimes they were sleeping on the big comfy couches in the basement family rooms. Either way, this was not something that the people of this happy land wanted.

Prince Bob was inconsolable! He pulled at his hair, he cried out to the people…you must help me gather in my pigs. I need them! I need the music to play!

Now, he is calling out to you…”Will you help me find my pigs?” Please find, Rock ‘n Roll, Blues, Classical, Ballad, Spiritual, gospel, Praise and Worship, Country, Rap and Show Tune. I need my pigs! Please, help me!”

Are you wondering how you can help him?

Here is what you can do…we are going to pull a pig from this container. For each one we pull, we will hear the music that goes with the name of that pig. IF you can tell me which kind of music it is the pig will be caught. If you get it wrong the pig gets away and has to be caught all over again.

Prior to classtime I had numbered each paper pig and had a corresponding piece of music pulled to go with it. I had the class vote on music style and if they got it right they caught the pig. I would then explain the history of that musical genre and took the moment to warn of modern/non-christian hip-hop.

We only got to catch 4 pigs and there was much begging and pleading to catch the rest this week. I am ok with that but have added the following mad lib to today's lesson.

As an aside, the funniest thing happened during the lesson last week. One of my helpers interrupted the lesson to ask for Schmee's autograph. Schmee, of course, was delighted and recognized it as a "perk" of his job...there are few, you know.
Soon, Schmee was at a table signing autographs for students and their siblings as we listened to the musical pieces. Hysterical!!!!

Now for that Mad lib:

A Musical Mad Lib – A letter from Schmee

Dear Friends,

Once upon a time…in a _____________land far, far away. There lived a

__________________prince, named Bob. Prince Bob was an interesting sort who loved

music so much that he would often __________________ it while he was

_____________________. This drove his _________________assistants crazy!

Sometimes, Prince Bob would play __________________ soothing music and the

People of his land would all gather around him to hear it. But then there were the times

that his music was a bit ______________________. That would make his

______________ people cry!

Prince Bob like such music as Jazz and Blues. Which made the people cry or swoon.

He liked the beat that came with rock and hip hop…though the Queen was not so happy

about that.

Then there was the gospel and the spirituals which got his toe to tapping and made him

think about a land that was somewhere out beyond.

Sometimes, Prince Bob, when he was in the mood for soothing, would sit down in his

favorite ________________chair and listen to the classical music written long, long ago.

Do you know that Bob even liked an opera, or two?

Now here is what I know about this _______________ Prince of ours. He is

_________________ and ________________________ but his is a friend of ours for

sure. For he has brought the ______________________music into the _________ land

of his. The people of that __________________world can never not love music!

Thanks Prince Bob!!! Signed, Schmee, Assistant to the Prince!

I know this is silly! It is supposed to be. But how many classes have you set through where you are just being lectured to about music and their styles and forms. I have a class that is more than half boys and many have let me know how much they hate learning about music...until last week!

Coming soon: Prince Bob hosts an opera!