Barbour Publishing Kingdom Files series is a great way to teach children about people in the Bible. We were so excited to read Who is Jonah? and Who is Mary, Mother of Jesus? Both books are by Matt Koceich.
This is not your typical biography because it is a Kingdom File.
Each biography starts with a Fact File covering the basics of the person's life. In "Who Was Jonah?," we learned that Jonah was a prophet from Gath-Hepher, just north of Nazareth. He was active in ministry from 786 B.C. to 746 B.C. God called him to preach to his nation Israel's greatest enemies, the Assyrians whose capital was Nineveh. The Fact File also had a map and small timeline. We learned that Mary was from Nazareth, gave birth to Jesus, and prayed with believers to receive the Holy Spirit.
Both biographies were interesting and readable. I enjoyed reading them on my own. My grandson enjoyed them, too. Sketches and maps made it more fun. My grandson like the clue boxes the best. The clue boxes, scattered throughout the biography section contained were like little devotionals giving insight into what was happening and inspiring children to think deeply. I would say,, "Here's a clue!" and we would get excited!
At the end of the book, there were ten Power Ups. Each Power Up contained a short application lesson along with a memory verses. They were very practical and geared to children.
Though this book was geared for children, I found that I was inspired by both Kingdom File biographies. They made Jonah and Mary come alive for me in a new way. I am excited to add Who Was Jonah? and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus to our homeschooling library.
What Makes These Books So Great?
People often ask me how I teach English in high school. Maybe it's because three of my five children pursued writing careers after graduation and all five of my children love to read.
First of all, I don't teach grammar or spelling in high school. Instead I use Daily Grams so my high school students won't forget what they already know. They just do one page a week or so throughout high school. It only takes us one copy of the workbook for all four years.
Oh, speaking of four years, I teach five years of high school English, so one of the five courses is taught in eighth grade.
I don't teach anything in any particular order in high school. Often I had a senior taking the same course as a sophomore or freshman. It's more fun to learn together.
In each course, I teach specific skills. We also read classic literature, essays, and short stories.
Each time I teach these courses, they are a little different because they target specific needs and interests of the one or two of my teens taking the course.
Essays, Speeches, Thesis Statements
My favorite curriculum: living books and classic literature.
I love books!
Our homeschooling is centered on timeless novels and works.
We love to snuggle up and read a good book like Swiss Family Robinson or A Christmas Carol aloud.
Everyone in our family is always in the middle of a good book. It might be an inspirational classic like Hinds Feet on High Places. Or a Golden Age cozy mystery by Agatha Christie or G.K. Chesterton. It might be a well-worn book that's been read over and over again like Ben Hur or Little Women.
We love books! However, we had wasted time reading some poorly written novels or books with unwholesome content. Over the years, I have weeded out the bad, discovered hidden gems in used book stores, and put together my own reading lists for my children to read whatever they want to read. I have lined my bookshelves with these living books and novels.
And I am always updating and adding to these lists.
Where to Find These Lists
"I'm interested in homeschooling my own children after talking to your son," a young man said to my friend Laura.
This son was a distractable student and Laura was excited to hear what he had to say to others about about homeschooling. She was excited to know that he was very grateful for the time Laura had invested in his education.
What about other grads? Were they thankful, too?
Most of the homeschooler grads I know want to homeschool their own kids one day. Or they do already.
I asked a few homeschoolers and homeschool grads to share why they are thankful that they are being homeschooled or were homeschooled in the past.
I told them to be brief.
Let there answers reassure you that it is worth the sacrifice to educate our children at home.
One thing I really appreciated about homeschooling was the flexibility in the school-day schedule. I wasn't forced to work exactly one hour on math, one hour on science, one hour on writing, etc. It freed me to finish quickly if I could or take more time to understand a difficult subject. The only thing my mom made us time was reading. She required us to read a book at least an hour a day. Homeschooling also allowed me to get a little more sleep than most public schoolers probably would and it allowed me to have a relaxing morning routine. (After all, I didn't have to wait for a bus to drive me to classes!) In high school, I was able to wake up at 6, have my quiet time, go for a run, and shower before starting my first subject. That helped me cultivate the habit of spending time with Jesus to start my day. In those precious times of intimate quiet with the Lord, I fell in love with Him. If you're homeschooled, don't waste this opportunity to make Jesus the center of your schedule. You won't regret it.
I love homeschooling. It's real life. It's a lifestyle of learning. It's families growing closer. It children growing up to be world changers. It's the opportunity to explore so many possibilities. It's a blast!
My husband and I are firmly committed to our local church. We have lived this way since we both gave our hearts to Christ as teenagers.
We love ministry! As our children grow up, they join us in ministry. They help in the nursery, teach Sunday school, mix sound, play on the worship team, sing on the worship team, mentor other believers, lead Bible studies, and serve in practical ways all before they turn 18.
Shouldn't they get some high school credit for that?
I believe that they should!
Teens lean so much with hands-on ministry. Our teens have learned about sound technology, singing, music, child development, counseling, mentoring, web design, making flyers, creating brochures, leading meetings, building, decorating, hosting conferences, speaking at conferences, and more!
Ministry has not just been an opportunity to serve others and the Lord, it has been an open door to knowledge and wisdom they will reap the benefits of for years to come.
So how do you turn ministry into high school credit?
I remember those days. Our little ones were two and four. We had close family friends with children approximately the same age.
What fun memories we have of going on adventures together with both families (a total of nine children).
We set ourselves up for success because we wanted field trips to be enjoyable for the whole family.
Here are some of the things we did.
We often went as families to more involved field trips like Sea World because then there were more hands to help with the little ones.
We brought big strollers with lots of storage room. Often the children would walk and the strollers were simply backpacks on wheels.
We made a flexible plan before we went. For example, if we were going to Sea World, we sat down with the map the day before and made a plan of where we would go and what we would do. Of course, plans shouldn't be set in cement. Often they changed, but having an itinerary took away the "where should we go next?" discussions that waste time and make toddlers and preschoolers cranky.
We made sure to do at least one or two things the little ones would love early in the day so they could enjoy those things when they were at their best.
We got an early start. Little children do best in the hours before lunch so we made the most of them. Packing the car the night before helped a lot. We would load up everything but the cooler, making sure the diaper bag was full of diapers, wipes (which double as napkins), and suntan lotion (hey! we live in Florida).
Tough times hit every family!
For most families, there never seems to be enough money to cover all the unexpected expenses that arise. When hard times come, it makes it even harder to make ends meet and deal with surprise financial blows.
As I have taught economics in high school and counseling couples having financial difficulties, I have come to this conclusion: the economic cycle affects families, too. Every family I know has times where income is growing moving into prosperity, as well as times of financial trials where income recesses. If you see this cycle of growth--prosperity--decline--recession--recovery. Think about it. Sam loses his job and times are really tough for awhile, even after God provides a new one. It takes about six months for the family to get back on their feet.
Can we make it through hard times and come out stronger in the end?
Having had the privilege of many years of financial hard times some short and some extending for years, our family has learned a few lessons along the way that make life easier. Would you like some financial wisdom for hard times?
Use Secret Weapons
It's a brand-new school year. You want everything to go perfectly.
Oh, and did I mention you have a brand-new baby. A precious bundle of joy that lights up your life. And keeps you awake all night. You are sore and your body is still recovering.
Is that you?
This school year can still be the best ever!
For the beginning of the school year, I recommend delaying the start or modifying it.
School can start a month late and go a month longer, or you can skip most breaks and still have it end on time.
If you have high school and middle school children, have them do the work they can do independently. Have them check in with you two or three times a day and just give you a quick summary of what they've completed.
For younger children, if you must school, focus only on reading and math. Have them read aloud to you and read on their own. If they can do math independently, let them do math and have an older sibling check it. Or dad can check it each night when he gets home.
Then, it's time for movies. So many educational movies and documentaries out there that would be fun to cuddle up and watch. We love the Drive Thru History videos, as well as Dave Barton's government sets. There are so many educational cartoons like Liberty Kids or Peanuts This is America. You can watch a few sessions each day for the first month.
My memories of teaching children to read always include me nursing a baby as I went over letter sounds or blending with them. I worried that I was somehow robbing my children.
Here's what the Lord showed me.
Western Culture (European, Australian, and American music, art, literature, architecture, and religion) is our heritage in America. It is wonderful to pass on our heritage through enjoying great artists like Monet and Rembrandt, classical music like Beethoven and Shubert, and cathedrals and castles.
In addition, in our family, we love enjoy a large selection of Western literature.
Western Literature has its roots in Ancient Hebrew, Roman, and Greek writings. The Holy Bible, The Aeneid, Aesop's Fables, The Odyssey, The Iliad, and other classic works have been repeated over and over in future literary works.
The roots of Western Literature are Hebrew, Christian, and pagan as far as religion goes. Classics such as The Iliad and The Odyssey are filled with idolatry and all the sin that occupies the worship of demons. Hebrew and Christian literature, including The Holy Bible, reveal the One True God and the worship of Him.
I share this because you need to know that just because a book is super-old doesn't mean it's wholesome. I find that when we read certain books like The Iliad or The Odyssey, we read abridged versions to avoid the sexual content. This is hard for me because I HATE abridged! However, I found some wonderful authors like A.J. Church from the 1800s who write with advanced vocabulary and vivid description, retelling these stories with clarity and accuracy, except avoiding the smut.
Whirlwind Tour of Classic Literature
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn by Julie Polanco is a great resource for those interested in learning what Christian Unschooling is all about.
Julie's love for the Lord and her children shines through, which made me enjoy reading her book.
I love exploring all kinds of homeschooling methods like classical, unit studies, Charlotte Mason/living books, notebooking, and delight-directed studies. Until now, all that I have read about Unschooling has been secular materials by John Holt and others.
Julie talks about the Lord and His place in their homeschool. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew Julie and her family. What a likeable bunch!
Though I am not an unschooler, I saw one thing throughout the book that won my heart: Julie lives life WITH her kids. She doesn't send them off to do workbooks, but rather she is actively involved in her children's life and education. Honestly, that is something all parents could enjoy more of in today's busy world.
In God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn, Julie stresses the need to get rid of distractions that keep us from learning. More good advice for homeschoolers of every stripe.
Jenny Rose stopped strumming his guitar and stepped forward to the microphone where she read a Scripture passage and gave a short word of encouragement.
"Some of us have had a rough week, we have been battered by the enemy, tossed around by his lies..." She ended by sharing her own personal experience of how Jesus had encouraged her. She started a worship song and everyone sang along.
I felt tears fill my eyes. My dream as I rocked and nursed my five babies was that they would each grow up to love Jesus and serve Him with a glad heart. Here was my Rosie, loving Jesus.
It is God's grace and mercy alone that all five of my adult children love Jesus. I'm so grateful, especially because I am a flawed Mommy. I wish I was perfect, but alas, no. I do love the Lord and have a living faith inside my heart that has grown stronger and stronger over the years.
It is not an example of perfection I have imparted to my children, it is a living faith in a jar of clay.
Can you relate? Do you love Jesus, but feel that you are so far from being a perfect example of what a "good" Christian should look like?
Do you like cozy mysteries?
Do you have a kindle?
Murder in the Mountains is FREE for your Kindle from Monday September 10, 2018 until Friday, September 14, 2018.
Homeschool mom Maggie King is speaking at a homeschool conference and enjoying a family vacation in the Georgia mountains when she comes across a murder. Her investigations lead her to one adventure after another.Join Maggie and her friends and family as they unravel the mystery. Can you figure out who the murderer is before they do?
You can download your FREE copy of Murder in the Mountains. Murder in the Mountains is #6 in the Maggie King Mystery series.
Do you like cozy mysteries?
Do you have a kindle?
War of the Roses Mystery is FREE for your Kindle from Monday, August 13, 2018 until Friday, August 17, 2018.
Homeschool mom Maggie King is studying the War of the Roses with her children and homeschool co-op--what a confusing time in history! When Maggie discovers a dead body, she becomes involved with another war of the roses that is just as confusing. Join Maggie and her friends and family as they unravel a confusing mystery. Can they bring a killer to justice?
You can download your FREE copy of War of the Roses Mystery here. War of the Roses Mystery is #5 in the Maggie King Mystery series.
"Cancel the lunches? No way!" My son was indignant. "That's the best part of history co-op!"
"We won't cancel. It's just that some of the Moms are complaining," I replied.
The next morning at 20th Century History Co-op, I asked the children and teens if they enjoyed the lunches. They raved and raved about them, proving to be as emotionally enthusiastic about them as my son.
You see we were studying world history of the 20th century with HIS Story of the 20th Century and we were making food each week that corresponded to that place and time period. We were gathering recipes and trying out new dishes.
It all started when my friend Laura and I were studying geography and wanted to get the dads more interested in what the kids were learning.
"They love food," we decided and started making meals from other countries as we studied those countries. The dads loved it!
The next year was American History and the kids still wanted to cook and eat recipes. Now, we would have to gather up American History recipes. So we did.
And we ate!
Of course, we had to find the recipes and in the research we were learning, but don't tell anyone that. We loved cooking and baking up recipes, often modernizing them to use blenders, mixers, and already-butchered meat.
Why Food Makes History Fun!
"What do you cover in English during high school?" I am often asked by homeschool moms.
"What curriculum did you use for English?" is another question that I hear often.
I wrote my own curriculum for the high school years based on lists of books I wanted my children to read and writing projects I wanted them to enjoy.
Yes, I did say 'enjoy'. I wanted my teens to read classic literature that was fun to read and has stood the test of time. I wanted my young adults to learn certain writing skills like using original sources, writing a research paper, creating an excellent essay, dabbling a bit in poetry, and writing a novel. I also wanted them to give speeches. Wow! That's a lot of stuff!
You can put together your own high school English courses, too. More on that in another blog. But for right now, I'll just tell you what I taught in each English course.
First of all, I should add that I gave my children five years of high school English, starting in eighth grade. These courses were all self-contained and didn't have to go in a specific order. That way, siblings could take courses together.
Are you ready? Here's what I taught in each English course. Keep in mind that all of these course have been taught in a homeschool co-op and individually at home.
Essays & Speeches & Literature
The purpose my Communications 101 course is to read classic essays and write excellent essays, as well as listen to excellent speeches and give speeches in a positive environment.
Each month we read a classic essay, look up vocabulary words from that essay, and discuss it together. We also read one book a month.
The classic essays we read were written by C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Mark Twain, Charles Lamb, Sir Frances Bacon, Cal Thomas, and William F. Buckley.
We read God in the Dock, Ivanhoe, The Screwtape Letters, The Prince and the Pauper, Around the World in 80 Days, The Mysterious Island, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Time Machine.
Note: We need an audience for speeches when we do this course individually so we invite another family over. Between the two families, there is a decent-sized audience.
We work on thesis statements and learn to use the thesis statement to guide an essay. Then we write the following essays: Descriptive, Narrative, Article, Letter to the Editor, Persuasive, Comparative, and Book Review.
We listen to excellent speeches by Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Douglas MacArthur, and speeches from movies on YouTube. This is great for noticing what good speakers do. We discuss what we watch.
My teens give the following speeches: Reading Aloud, Introduction of Self, Demonstration, Personal Testimony, Persuasive, Commercial, Interview, and Extemporaneous. We also do two weeks of debate to just get a taste of it. We create a safe and positive environment for giving speeches to build confidence in speaking in front of a group.