Ordinary Homeschooling: Reflections on just serving dinner

Basket of books

Resources we actually used

Last summer in a post titled Just Serve Dinner, I shared some of the best resources we have enjoyed over the years, the ones that are an ongoing blessing to our family. Here are a few more that have pleasantly surprised me in how much I have enjoyed using them. I trust that my children have benefited as well, but I don’t gauge a book’s success on whether or not they are begging me for another chapter. Sometimes they’re indulging me, other times I humor them, so we press on. (And sometimes the book just doesn’t get finished, which is okay.)

Books we have enjoyed in morning devotions

The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology by Thomas H. Gallaudet. Solid Ground Christian Books, 231 pages.

I came across this book at my parents’ house while my mother was in the hospital, and I’m not sure what inspired me to pick it up. It was written by Thomas Gallaudet, co-founder of the first school for the deaf in America. I had my doubts whether my boys would appreciate it since it was written as a conversation between a mother and her relatively young son, but Betsy encouraged me to give it a try.

The boy seems to prefer sitting at his mother’s feet listening to her anatomy lesson to any other past time. While my were not always so enthralled in listening, by reading short sections regularly, we DID come to marvel at details in the handiwork of God. It was a fascinating approach to the glorious “design, contrivance and skill” God worked throughout creation, which never could have happened in any other way.

The discussion ranges from the unique purposes of various kinds of joints in the body to the intricacies of insects. The finger spelling alphabet was included, and there were a couple of other mentions that reminded me of the author’s personal interest in the deaf and how their physical limitations do not reduce their significance as human beings.

With the littles

I read through several Bible story books for the sake of my two younger ones who needed/wanted practice reading. With a boy on either side of me, they took turns practicing their reading skills while I provided all the help they needed. Over the year we covered The Jesus Storybook Bible (which I read aloud without their help), The Beginner Gospel Story Bible, and The Biggest Story Bible Storybook. My goal was to apply several coats of general Bible knowledge with a broad brush, and I appreciate that even though the books cover the same redemptive themes, the details are different.

Listen Up, Then Sings My Soul

Resources for all of us

Listen Up: 10-Minute Family Devotions on the Parables by Marty Machowski. New Growth Press, 160 pages.
(link opens to New Growth Press website. Members, remember to use your discount!)

We needed something Biblically sound and relatively brief that could engage my older three who are ages 9-14. Not a tall order, right? Betsy recommended this one based on a similar resource we used in our Wisdom and Wonder summer reading program a couple of years ago. Listen Up includes a Scripture reading, brief practical comments, three discussion questions (and possible answers, which are helpful) and additional sections with introductory material, optional further reading to expand your understanding, and weekly activities to demonstrate the theme. I didn’t use the activity, just the reading, because I’m not usually looking for hands-on things. But for parents who enjoy using visuals, acting, or object lessons with their kids, Machowski has excellent ideas.

The parable of the sower in the first week opened my understanding right away and I haven’t been disappointed since. The gospel is central. I’m grateful even for the prayer suggestions at the end of each lesson, because I am less likely to miss or waste the opportunity to pray specific applications over my children, and I have personally been blessed in my understanding of the parables and how Jesus used them in his ministry. He loves his sheep. He loves the lost. He loves me. He loves my children. That’s what I need reinforced in short lessons, day after day, after day.

Then Sings My Soul

We’ve almost made it through the book. We don’t sing all of them, just the ones I know or that we sing in church. Through the month of December and into January we sang through the Advent section of the hymnbook, and we try to time our singing with my husband’s lunch break so he can join us (he now works from home).

Singing through Then Sings My Soul or a section of the hymnal creates familiarity, though not memorization. I haven’t yet decided what we’ll do after we finish this book. I would like to focus on learning some favorite hymns, but how can I choose from all the excellent options? Maybe I’ll write down possibilities on index cards and let the boys take turns choosing from them, so that they have some input and I’m not overthinking the decision. Any suggestions from you, dear friends?

WorldWatch for current events

WorldWatch (referral link) has been a great asset to our homeschool! We don’t get around to watching it every day, so once a week it takes about an hour to catch up. I appreciate that they don’t shy away from more difficult subjects, though they always inform us if there will be a story that addresses more mature themes like abortion, shootings, or the first transgender olympian. They handle sensitive issues biblically and with discernment, which has led to good family discussions and prayer.

Roundabout Folk

The first CD, Singsong Pennywhistle, was fantastic. The second, Barnyard Dance, was equally good or better. When five boys ages 4-14 are enjoying the talent of two sisters harmonizing through both familiar and lesser-known folk tales, I know it’s a winner. And I enjoy it, too.

Art K12: Art History Disguised as Fun

The best curriculum is the one that gets used, right? Although we haven’t finished the first set yet, we have covered a lot more artists than ever before because my boys are excited about anything that incorporates humor, games, and chocolate. Beginning in earliest known American cultures, Draeger introduces artifacts, architecture, or artists with faux newspaper articles, sometimes including corny advertising. Then she provides two pictures to study, one original and one a forgery. There are ten differences between the two, and by studying the details VERY carefully, we become better acquainted with the art or artifacts. We review by playing bingo with M&Ms.

Since I don’t have any personal experience with art appreciation, this has been a valuable resource.

This is still true

We still use Fighter Verses, the hummingbird feeder, and the other resources described in the previous post. And I still lean on this wisdom from a godly woman.

“Love your children, teach them what you can, and lean hard on Jesus.”

– Julie Pizzino

Your turn. What resources has your family enjoyed using most through the years?

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Megan Saben

Megan is Associate Editor for Redeemed Reader, and she loves nothing more than discovering Truth and Story in literature. She is the author of Something Better Coming, and is quite particular about which pottery mug is best suited to her favorite hot drinks throughout the day. Megan lives with her husband and five boys in Virginia.

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1 Comments

  1. Christy on July 20, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Regarding hymn singing: we sing the same hymn every night (most nights) for a month. We more or less learn one verse a week, depending on the hymn. When the kids were little my husband and I picked them all, but now the kid whose birthday falls in that month gets to choose the hymn. Usually they’ve got an idea, some song they liked from church, but we also have multiple hymnals on hand for choosing. Now that the bulk of them are readers, we print lyrics and/or sheet music (for the musicians) so there’s less memorizing by rote, but they still get more familiar with the words.

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