Saturday, August 28, 2010

The 2 Greatest Commandments

Here's a song with all the fun movements of Father Abraham, but with different words. The repetition helps kids to learn/memorize what Jesus calls the two greatest commands.

(to the tune of Father Abraham)
Love the Lord your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul and mind and strength.
And love your neighbor as yourself.
That's what Jesus said to Him.

Repeat the song, doing the same motions as Father Abraham.

Music with Jars of Water

So I joined my first homeschool co-op this semester. I got volunteered to teach music to the first and second graders. I loved choir in high school (and college) and I play the piano. I'm often caught making up songs to teach my children something. So, I guess I can do this, I thought, although a little concerned about teaching an actual music class to this age group.

Here are a few ideas that I am trying in my attempt to teach music:

Take three glass jars and add a little water in the first jar, about half full for the second jar, and almost full on the third jar. Then, tap each jar with a spoon. It should give you three different pitches. I played around with the amount of water until I got the sounds I wanted. Then you can play a song like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Hot Cross Buns” that just require three notes.

You can also play my Psalm 67 song, which is mostly comprised of three notes. See that blogpost: Worship/Prayer for nations.html for the notes and words to the song.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Worship/Prayer for the Nations

Here is a song from Psalm 67 - a worship song and a prayer that God would be glorified, that the nations would worship Him.

If you want to play this song, here are the notes:

C       C    C   C       C     C    E    E
May the peoples praise you, oh God
C      C   E   D    E    D       C
May all the peoples praise you
 C      C    C   C    C    E  E   C     C    C   E    D      C     E      E     E   D C
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us
  C     C    C    C     C      E    E    E        C    C  C  C     E  D     E   D  C
That you may be known on the earth, your salvation among the nation
  C    C    C  C    D   D      E    F    E    D   C   C     C    E   D   E    D   C
May the nations be glad and sing for joy for you rule the nations justly
  C     C   C   C    D   D    E     F    E    D   C    C    C    E   D    E    D  E    F
May the nations be glad and sing for joy for you rule the peoples of the earth.

Monday, August 23, 2010


We made our own abacus out of beads, skewers (like for kabobs), and my husband built a little frame to put it all together. The kids had fun sorting beads with me – into groups of five. Two different colors on each row make it possible to easily count by fives and makes other adding (or subtracting) equations easier. This has been a great hands on and visual resource for teaching math. Instead of having a bunch of loose things for counting, the abacus keeps all the beads together in one spot, so none are lost, and none end up in the baby's mouth. *

Some Ideas for Using the Abacus to Teach Basic Math
  • Counting, by ones, fives, tens – the different colored beads and the rows make this easy and good for hands on and visual learning
  • Adding and subtracting. When doing subtraction flashcards, the beads make a nice to visual to help solve the problem, especially for higher numbers. It is teaching the subtraction concept in a hands on and visual manner.
  • Multiplication, although we haven't gotten there yet.
  • Place value. For example, move over 34 beads – that is 3 rows of tens and 4 extra. We look at the amount visually and then talk about how to write that number. Or I write a number and we then move over that many beads.
  • The color separation on each row I think also teaches and reinforces simple addition and subtraction. That five red beads plus two green beads equal seven beads. With some practice, children will automatically recognize that combination 2+5=7 without actually having to count every bead. It aids in the process of memorizing these math facts.

There are, I'm sure, many more uses for these colorful beads, but we haven't progressed that far yet.

* NOTE: Our first attempt at making this abacus was not so successful. My husband had drilled holes to stick the skewers through, but there wasn't anything holding them in place. When the kids pushed the beads across too hard, the beads went flying. This was fixed with some hot glue!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

James 1:19-20 Anger Management

One week, we were desperately battling temper tantrums.  I knew I needed to find something constructive for my daughter to do when she was angry.  What is an acceptable way to vent anger? I wondered.  Certainly not the tantrums we had been having.

The Lord brought to mind that we should be meditating on His Word: that is how we can not be in sin when we are angry.  I made up this song with motions from James 1:19-20 for us to sing when we are angry.  We can express our anger, but then meditate on His word, for His transforming power over our lives.

Be quick to listen (touch ears)
Slow to speak (hand to your mouth)
Slow to be angry (angry fists in front of body)
For man's anger (angry fists again)
does not bring about (crisscross hands in front of you)
the righteous life (hands/arms out to the side)
that God desires. (hands raised toward God)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bible songs

I like to make up songs to teach my kids Bible verses.  At Thanksgiving, I taught the pre-schoolers about giving thanks by making up this song based on 1 Timothy 4:4.

Here is a song I made up from Proverbs 3:5-6 and Philippians 4:6-7 about trusting the Lord.

Friday, August 20, 2010


We have a United States puzzle, where my kids are learning all the states and their locations. After working the puzzle, we sing “Fifty Nifty United States.” I highly recommend this song for teaching the states. You can view an elementary school performance on youtube. See link below:   
Another good song is "The Fifty States that Rhyme," although I don't know that one as well.

Quiz Time

Around my house we do a thing called “Quiz Time.” This is usually played at snack time and the kids earn the snack (like goldfish or grapes or popcorn or whatever it is) by answering questions. The kids, all different ages, like playing this game and I use it to teach new things as well as refresh on old things.

For example: to my kindergardener, flash card questions – reading sight words or simple math problems, to my 3 year old – letter flash cards, and then even the 14 month baby gets questions “where is your nose?” or “what does a duck say?” For the older kids I also do questions about our address or how to spell our last name.

We usually start out with questions that I'm sure they know, but I always add a few new questions or flashcards to make it a challenge, to teach something new. And then its followed by an easy question so that the snacks keep coming.

We are adding some geography questions or questions about food groups or Bible verses we are starting to learn.

I have found that doing flashcards at the dining room table while we are eating is best. We are already all sitting down and I keep flashcards handy. Plus the baby is occupied so we can all focus on the learning time. I'm sure the baby is picking up on things already. ….

Teaching Your Child to Read

A Review of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Ugh!! Trying to teach your child to read can be very frustrating. The English language is phonetic, right? Well, sometimes. But even words that at first seem phonetic, are only phonetic when you know this spelling rule or that rule. There are so many spelling rules and letters make multiple sounds. So where do you start? If your child already knows the letters and one sound for each letter, then teaching a child to sound out words should be easy right? They should be able to read a simple children's book right? Well, right, if the child knows all the spelling rules, but a child will get easily frustrated at having to learn a new pronunciation rule every few words.  
For example, in my last sentence:
  • right - gh is silent
  • the – th makes a diffent sound than t and h separately
  • child - ch makes a different sound than c and h separately
  • knows – k is silent, the ow is the long o sound, not 'o' as in on, not 'ow' as in how
  • all – the a does not make the 'a' sound as in apple
And there are many more such examples of spelling/pronunciation rules and exceptions in the remainder of the sentence. All of this can be overwhelming to a child who is first starting to read. This is why I recommend using a reading curriculum that breaks down rules for reading (or decoding) in manageable chunks, in a way that gets kids reading fast and with confidence.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a great book for teaching your child decoding skills. A child who does not know any letters can begin this program. The book makes reading manageable by:
  • introducing one sound at a time, so that children learn a sound well before moving on
  • teaching the skill of putting sounds together
  • it starts by introducing only lowercase letters and adds capital letters later
  • it notes rhyming words and spellings
  • letters are written slightly differently when they have different sounds, so that decoding skills are learned and there is still exposure to the real spelling of words

    • for example, th are written closer together for one sound, long vowels have lines over them, and silent letters are written in a smaller font
  • sight words that are not phonetic are introduced one at a time (like “was” or “to”)
  • new sounds for letter combinations are introduced slowly so that they are mastered, such as “ow” as in “how”
  • there are checks throughout for reading comprehension,
  • reading concepts are taught throughout – spacing between words, reading left to right and top to bottom, periods at the end of the sentence, quotation marks for speech, titles for a story, capitalization rules, etc.
Some great things about this curriculum, that make it so easy to use:
  • Directions are written so that parents know exactly what to say for each lesson and the only preparation time needed for the parents is to read the introduction
  • Children gain confidence early on and can begin reading words within just a few lessons
  • Each lesson can be done in under thirty minutes, or even less time if lessons are broken in half
A few caveats about this curriculum
  • The markings and fonts are different than what you will find in storybooks, so it is suggested that you work all the way through the curriculum so that the transition from the special decoding markings to regular font is made smoothly. I have found it helpful to supplement this curriculum with flashcards that do not have the special markings – like “see” without the long vowel marks.
  • The names of the letters are not taught until very late in the curriculum, only the sounds. This is not necessarily a problem, but something to be aware of.
  • Some of the lessons progress rather quickly, so we sometimes repeat lessons until we are ready to move on.

For more information about this book, check out