I don’t know what I was expected, but I was blown away when I entered the SchoolhouseTeachers.com world to review their yearly membership.
I felt like I Alice dropping into Wonderland: amazed and a little overwhelmed.
Where would I start?
I wanted to see EVERYTHING! Every photo, every course, every video, and every lesson plan was beautiful and professional-looking.
I decided to investigate high school online classes first. I picked out several courses including Spanish I, an online elective, They Lived for God, and American History: Columbus to 1914 with Socratic Method.
Next, I headed to a focused area.
Since I’m a history buff, I chose history. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. So many choices, so little time.
Focused Area: History
For younger children, my favorite course was American History in Picture Books by Cindi Allison because that’s the way I taught my children when they were little. Using classic picture books like Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac, and The Babe and I by David A. Adler, we explore history by reading picture books and engaging in hands-on fun. I am planning to do this course on Grandma Day with my grandsons.
Delving into Classical Archaeology with Regan Barr, I was excited because so much of what we believe about ancient cultures is based on archaeology, but it has limitations, too. This course doesn’t just focus on history, but how archaeology is used to learn about history and what the limitations of archaeology are. The reading was interesting with lots of color photographs. Review questions and ideas for further exploration were at the end of each unit. My favorite part was digging into Pompeii, a fascinating trip to the past when a volcano explored rapidly freezing an entire city in time. We can also read about it from Pliney the Younger. This material stirred up a greater hunger to learn more!
Remembering my sweet grandsons, I decided to head to the Preschool Playground to get more ideas for Grandma Days.
Allow me to introduce you to an award-winning picture book: When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant.
This lovely book was awarded as a Caldecott Honor Book and a Reading Rainbow Book. I can see why. I hope you will give it a look as well.
Its 28 pages are all filled with beautiful drawings and simple descriptions of a time gone, by Diane Goode, by that most of us only have pictured in movies and TV shows.
I was introduced to this book as part of a Middle School Writing curriculum. The repeated use of the phrase “When I was young in the mountains” at the beginning of many of the sentences in this book provided an excellent example for young writers to think about when they were young and write a collection of sentences about their own adventures.
Winner of the John Newbery Medal, Sarah Plain and Tall is a delight. I’ve said it before about many other books, but it remains true of this little gem.
Written for children, this book takes us through the emotional story of a little prairie family who lost their mother and hopes to find another.
A difficult childbirth left the young farmer with an infant, Caleb, a little girl, Anna, and no wife. Everything changed that day, but the young farmer struggled on for years, trying to make the best of the situation. Loneliness, perhaps feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work his farm requires, or simply concern for his children led Jacob, also known as Papa, to advertise for a wife. The one reply he received surprised the entire family. Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton from Maine answered his ad.
Sarah seems to be forthright, honest, funny, and a definite possibility. She further adds to her appeal by writing letters to each of the children as well as the father. After exchanging a few letters, Sarah agrees to come to the prairie to meet the family, see the farm, and let everybody concerned decide if Sarah should come to be wife and mother to the small family.
I just finished reading a book about the early Christians who risked their lives to follow Jesus. Wow! It was a great story.
I went back in time to the Roman Empire to meet Christians who were living in a pagan culture, yet serving Christ with godly lives. I enjoyed meeting these brothers and sisters in the Lord: the old soldier, the elder of the church, the beautiful young girls, and the "bad guy" who was destined for something better.
I loved their faith and devotion to Jesus and one another.
Arrested because they refused to sacrifice to the Emperor, I was nervous about their fate, but challenged and inspired by their bravery.
You will enjoy Sent to the Lions by A. J. Church about early Christians who paid the price to follow Jesus.
Wow! Eternity in their Hearts by Don Richardson will blow you away!
"This book reveals startling evidence of belief in the One True God in cultures around the world!" says the cover. And it does! It's amazing!
I get so excited when I read this book! I stand amazed at the Holy God who is so filled with love and compassion that He would prepare so many different cultures to recognize and receive the Gospel. God truly wants all men everywhere to hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isn't Our Heavenly Father wonderful?!
Don Richardson, the author of Peace Child, another amazing book, shares true stories from different places around the the world. In each case, you see God preparing a people to respond to Jesus when the Gospel arrives.
This book is a history of pagan cultures who still have the seed of faith in the One True God. Why is this? Because at the beginning of time, Adam and Eve walked with God in an intimate relationship while they lived in the Garden of Eden. Though they sinned, rejecting life with God, there was still a knowledge that was passed down of the One True God who created the earth and everyone who lives in it. That true knowledge, though marred in time, still exists. And we serve a God who searches for the lost, longing to bring them home to love and know Jesus Christ.
It was Christmas Eve 1956 when Michael Bond purchased a stuffed bear for his wife in a store near Paddington Station.
That impulsive gift would inspire Mr. Bond to write a book, A Bear Called Paddington, that would introduce the world to Paddington Bear, delighting children of all ages and nations.
From deepest, darkest Peru, Paddington travels in a lifeboat across the ocean eating marmalade to stay a live. With a suitcase in his hand and a note on which is written, "Please look after this bear. Thank you." You see his Aunt Lucy grew old and had to move into the Home for retired bears.
This whimsical tale begins with Paddington being found by the Brown family at Paddington Train Station in London, England. And so, the adventure begins.
You will love Paddington's well-meaning, but often misguided attempts to right a wrong (as perceived by Paddington, but usually a misunderstanding). His escapades are hilarious and he is the sweetest, most well-meaning bear ever!
The theme of true love in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice goes beyond the mere fairy tale happily ever after. The author truly believes that people can overcome their moral failings to see others as valuable. In Miss Austen’s time not all people were Christians, but a Christian worldview dominated the culture, giving clear moral guideposts. Though her novel is set in a society with diverse social classes and prescribed ways of living that are quite unlike our culture today, her message is one as old as time. Life comes down to interactions between individuals who make the choice to see one another as valuable because they are created in the image of One True God or to be filled with pride, seeing themselves as superior. The author believes that true love can blossom when moral failings are dealt a death blow.
Jane Austen takes us back in time to Georgian England where life is slower, manners matter, and people know their place in society. Like today, young people are looking for a spouse and parents are eager to be right in the middle of the courting and wooing. In this delightful tale, we meet Elizabeth Bennett and the wealthy Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy views himself superior to Elizabeth and her family, but against his will, he is attracted to her. Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy smug and prideful.
Rank or birth does not negate a person’s worth. As a pastor’s daughter, Jane Austen places high value on personal accountability for one’s actions, especially how people treat other people. Bad behavior is bad behavior whether it is performed by Elizabeth’s own mother being indiscreet or Mr. Darcy refusing to dance with the ladies who are not attractive enough to arouse his interest. Both display selfishness.
"This book will change your life!" my pastor promised me. I was far from home and struggling with sadness and disappointment. It was a hard season.
I read this little book and my pastor was right! It changed my life! That was not the only time I read Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers. This is one of those books that I try to reread every year or so. Yes, it's that good!
Prison to Praise shows how an angry young man was changed by the power of God through the Gospel. It is also the story of how one man of God learned to praise God in everything!
Bored with military training at Fort Benning, Georgia while waiting to be sent overseas in World War II, Merlin and some friends walked out of camp, stole a car, and went joy riding. After being captured by the F.B.I., Merlin found himself in military prison. Sentenced to five years in the federal penitentiary, his sentence was suspended so he could serve in World War II. After serving six months in the stockade at Fort Dix, Merlin, a paratrooper, headed to Europe to serve in the 82nd Airborne. Next, he found himself as one of General Eisenhower's guards living in Frankfurt, Germany. Because of his combat record, Merlin received a complete pardon for his earlier illegal escapades, but that didn't stop him from making massive amounts of money in the black market.
Attending church out of duty with his grandparents, Merlin heard God speak to him to make a decision to follow him or it would be too late. He surrendered his heart to Christ and was hungry for prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship. God called him to the ministry and while he worked his way through college and seminary, he preached in local jails.
I will let you learn the rest for yourself. You see, Merlin was on an adventure with the Lord! He was set to learn lessons that would allow him to live each day in unspeakable joy!
Little Lloyd Llama goes on an adventure to discover what kind of animal his friends' mothers are in this delightful picture book by Deborah Gaurino and illustrated by Steven Kellogg.
Little Lloyd Llama questions all his friends about their mothers with rhymes that are fun to say and fun to hear. His friends answer back in rhyme, too.
Though his Mama is a Llama, only one of his friends have a llama for a Mama.
When you read this book aloud to your little ones, they will meet a bat, a swan, a cow, a seal, a kangaroo, and a llama. They will also learn a little bit about each animal.
The first time you read Is Your Mama a Llama, your children will try to guess what animal Lloyd is talking about. The second time you read it, they will remember and squeal with delight when they give you the right answer..
Who can resist rhymes and riddle questions? What a fun combination for children to enjoy!
Lucie, a curious little girl, is searching for her pocket handkerchief, when she comes across a little house high in the hills. Her knock on the door is answered by Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, who invites her in.
Lucie spends the whole day with Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle helping her with washing and ironing. You see, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle does all the washing and ironing for the animals who live nearby.
As the lovely day comes to a close, Lucie realizes that Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle is a hedgehog.
What is more charming: the delightful story or the enchanting illustrations?
Beatrix Potter, the author and illustrator takes us into an imaginary world where animals wear clothing, talk to one another, make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and having fantastical adventures. It is lovely to spend a day in Beatrix Potter's world meeting hedgehogs, rabbits, squirrels, kittens, ducks, mice, and toads.
I love the way Beatrix Potter spins her stories. You can't help but smile as you read her tales aloud to your children. Your children will love the stories and the accompanying illustrations. In fact, they will want to hear about Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle again and again. Even her name is fun to say.
Jeff, his sister, and their friends head to Nepal to get some footage from the cold mountainous Asian country. After a break-in at their host's apartment, the kids become involved in a dangerous journey along the cold Himalayan trails to rescue a child from being sold into slavery. Yes, that does happen in other nations.
Along the way, the teens share their faith while enduring exhaustion, sickness, injury, bitter cold, and being chased by some scary guys. You will love this adventure!
And if you are studying geography, your children will learn something about Asia in general and Nepal in particular, as well Christianity in Nepal. We loved this book!
Trying to keep up with my children's appetite for books and looking for some historical fiction set in Asia while we were studying geography led me to the Reel Kids Adventure series by Dave Gustaveson, published by YMAM Publishing.
“Appealing!” I thought, glancing at 41: A Portrait Of My Father by President George W. Bush. Only twice in history has a son followed his father to the Presidency. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams both served one term in the White House early in our nation’s history. The twentieth century saw President George Herbert Walker Bush elected in 1988 and his son George W. Bush elected in 2000. The elder President Bush served one term and his son served two terms.
When the elder President Bush was in the White House, including his time as President Reagan’s second-in-command, I had so much affection for him. Finally, I figured out that he reminded me of my grandfather. My own grandfather Harry Leon King was kind and loving, without ever drawing attention to his good deeds. He quietly lived his faith and made lifelong friends wherever he went. Their home was full of people who came to visit from all over the world. Like President Bush, he was a faithful attendee at the local Episcopal Church. What I admired about both men was their integrity and loyalty. Both men placed high value on relationships. So I was eager to read this book about the self-effacing politician who reminded me of my grandfather.
Harry is a lovable little pooch who lives with a sweet family in suburbia.
There's one thing you should know though: Harry hates taking a bath!
In Harry, the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, Harry grabs the scrub brush his family uses on him when they give him a bath, runs down the stairs, and buries in the back yard.
Harry's adventure has just begun! He travels all over town, getting dirtier and dirtier. Finally, he heads home, but he is so dirty that his family doesn't recognize him.
Even when he does tricks, digs up the scrub brush, and tries to show his family his identity, they still don't recognize him. He is just too dirty.
Petunia is a silly goose who finds a book. She carries the book everywhere she goes, knowing that books are valuable. Pretty soon, Petunia thinks that she is wise because she owns a book.
Thinking that she is wise because she owns a book and puffed up with pride, Petunia dispenses advice wherever she goes in the farmyard. Unfortunately, her advice is terrible and brings harm to all the other animals. A terrible accident humbles Petunia and she realizes that owning a book doesn't make one wise. She decides to learn to read.
This book is a sweet story about pride, humility, wisdom, advice, and books. The life lesson Petunia learns is one that the Lord wants everyone to learn.
However, you children won't know they are learning a life lesson when you read them this delightful tale.
Maybelle the Cable Car by Virginia Lee Burton is another delightful story from the author of The Little House, Katy and the Big Snow, and MIke Mulligan and HIs Steam Shovel.
Maybelle is a cable car that lives in San Francisco. She has been part of the enchanting city since the early days when it was so small that everyone knew everyone. She remembered the terrible fire and how the city was rebuilt. Cable cars, created to climb up and down the steep hills, were becoming obsolete as the story opens. Maybelle's nemesis, Bill the Bus who makes fun of the cable cars.
The people of San Francisco learn of the news that they are going to phase out cable cars and there is quite a mixed reaction. A movement to save the San Francisco cable cars begins and when a vote is taken, Maybelle and her friends win. They even get a fresh coat of paint.
Cable cars are an iconic part of San Francisco. In fact, they are one of the first things people think of when San Francisco is mentioned.
I love the way Virginia Lee Burton brings these cable cars alive.