Jesus has friends

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This lesson was faster because we used less Bible stories. We started by reviewing our lesson from last week. If I say, “I have hidden your word in my heart…” Clarissa will say, “That I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:1” She doesn’t say the whole thing on her own, but I will take it.

We talked about how Jesus was God but when he was on Earth, He was also a man. He was born, had parents, was dedicated, went to church, and was baptised just like we do today. The main difference was that although Jesus was tempted, He never sinned like we do. So He is a good example for us to follow.

For this week, we talked about friends. I asked Clarissa who her friends were and what she liked about them. Then we talked about what it would be like if she didn’t have any friends. She thought she would be very lonely. We talked about what we can do to be a good friend.

Then, we talked about Jesus. We read in her Bible about how He chose his disciples and they left everything they had to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22). We talked about how these guys weren’t famous or rich. They didn’t seem like they would be important. But Jesus still chose them to be his best friends. We don’t have to be famous or really talented for God to use us. We just need to be obedient.

Then we talked about how Jesus gave his friends the power to do a lot of the things that Jesus did (Matthew 10). They could pray for people to be healed. They could tell people about Jesus. We talked about how God can use us to help people too. We also talked about how if we have friends to help us, a big job can get done faster.

Jesus, Fully God and Fully Man

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We have taken a break from our regular preschool curriculum twice this year. During the month of December, we took a break and did Truth in the Tinsel to celebrate Christmas. We spent most of March doing A Sense of the Resurrection.

When we started back into God’s Little Explorers in April, Clarissa was frustrated that we were back to doing the same story several days in a row. She still enjoyed the activities, but wanted a new Bible story every day. Though she still isn’t thrilled with writing her letters.

We are in the process of using other programs for Homeschool Review Crew so I decided to stop doing our normal preschool curriculum. For a few days I struggled with not having a set plan for our Bible reading. But then I felt like God was like, “Ahem. You wrote Sunday school curriculum. Why don’t you use that?!”

Clarissa is four, so she wants to read the story in a book with pictures instead of me just telling her a story most of the time. But it has been fun to look at what I did with the kids at church and break it down over a few days with Clarissa. Our first lesson is about how Jesus was fully God but when He was on earth He was also fully man.

We talked about how Jesus was born, like everyone else. He had parents. We have read the Christmas story several times so we flipped through the pictures of Jesus’s birth in her Planet 316 Bible and I had her tell me the story.

Next, we talked about how Jesus’s parents brought him to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord when he was 8 days old. That was a very normal thing to do back then. We found the story in her Beginner’s Bible. Then we talked about how we dedicated her to the Lord at her first birthday party. We looked at pictures and talked about what that meant (and of course we had to look at the pictures from when she was born as well).

A different day, we talked about how Jesus was a kid. We read When Jesus was a Little Boy (not necessarily accurate but talks about what kinds of things Jesus probably did as a kid). Then we read about Jesus in the temple when he was 12 years old. Jesus went to church and celebrated holiday festivals just like we do.

The following week we talked about baptism. That John the Baptist was going around preaching repentance and baptising people. Jesus didn’t need to be baptised because He never sinned, but it was part of God’s plan. So we talked about why people get baptised today as an outward expression that we believe we are a sinner and believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Clarissa asked about being baptised when she is an adult. We talked about how kids can be baptised too but she isn’t interested right now, which is totally fine.

Then we read about how Jesus was tempted in the desert. Just like us, Jesus was tempted. But unlike us, Jesus never sinned. One reason for that is because He knew the Word of God and could use it against everything Satan said. So we practiced our Bible verse a few more times so that we would learn some scripture.

Each day before our reading, I read her our Bible memory verse and had her repeat it a few times so she could learn it. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:1

Starfall Education Foundation Review

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Starfall

When I was a teacher, my students often used Starfall Education Foundation. Clarissa has enjoyed playing the free version of the Starfall App on her tablet for over a year so I was very excited when we were chosen to review the The Starfall Home Membership. Thirty five dollars will give you a year of access to all of the additional content on multiple devices for a full year.

Starfall

I can access my account on multiple devices so I can look at Starfall on my laptop, or Clarissa can play it on her tablet. Clarissa enjoys using the Starfall app on her tablet. She gladly plays for thirty minutes at least three days per week. I didn’t have to worry about her finding anything inappropriate in the app. She can explore and learn math concepts or work on reading skills.

She seems to really enjoy the math games. She has learned about symmetry, weight, and comparison of sizes. I was surprised that she actually understood those concepts after the lessons and games. I really liked the way Starfall explained place value. I think Clarissa actually understood the difference between tens and ones.

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There are several different levels of reading activities as well. Clarissa can choose books of different genres. I can read them to her or she can press a button that looks like an ear and the words will light up as the app reads the story to her. There are games to practice letter recognition as well as phonics lessons for individual sounds. She got used to repeating the sound after the app, so she now often repeats everything she hears because she thinks she is reading.

Clarissa enjoys playing the games, but sometimes wishes they are more customizable. For example, there is a calendar game. She learns days of week and how to read a calendar. She then gets to choose clothes to get dressed and go outside to play during the game. Because it is winter, her only choices are the current month and winter clothes. Clarissa often asks me to “switch it to summer.” But there isn’t an option to do that since it is currently winter.

I like that I can access Starfall on my computer or her tablet. The frustrating part for me is that there doesn’t seem to be any method to accomplish skills in order. There also isn’t a record of any kind. I don’t know which games or skills she has studied unless I watch her play. For example, if you go to the mouse picture, learn to read, there are 15 phonics lessons. However, it does not check them off or move you on to the next level when a lesson is completed. If you plan to really sit next to your child and tell them which things to do, then maybe that won’t bother you.

My other frustration is that Starfall Education Foundation only works with an internet connection. At home in the living room is fine, but if I want Clarissa to work on Starfall on a train or at a restaurant, I have to set up a wifi hotspot on my phone in order for it work on her tablet.

Clarissa is excited to have some tablet time to use Starfall Education Foundation. At $35 per year, I think that the The Starfall Home Membership is a worthwhile investment for preschool and kindergarten learning. There are even more advanced lessons for first and second graders. Multiple children can use Starfall as well, but they would share the same profile. There is also Parent-Teacher Center that shows a full printable curriculum to use for both preschool and kindergarten. It looks to be made for a classroom setting, but you could also follow the curriculum to use for homeschool if you wanted to. There are plenty of worksheets available as well.

The Starfall Home Membership {Starfall Education Foundation Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Preschool Update

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We started officially doing preschool this summer when we started God’s Little Explorers. We started by doing lessons once or twice per week, whenever she was excited about doing school. We had a lot of fun reading books and watching Magic School Bus. She was really excited about the human body for months. We would read books about the human body. We drew pictures about the human body. We pretended to be the digestive system on the playground. We even traced Clarissa on big paper and drew the inside of the human body.

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Then, at some point I decided that I wanted to get through the Old Testament stories so that we were ready for the baby Jesus week around Christmastime. Honestly, that got a little stressful to make sure that we did four days of lessons in a week. I wanted to make sure that Clarissa still had plenty of time to go to the playground or play with friends.

We took December off to focus on Truth in the Tinsel. But Clarissa would ask for “school” one or two days per week anyway. So we would play math games and sort or count objects. She also gets a few magazines with learning activities in them. I also bought some phonics readers, learning games, and puzzles from a friend that arrived about that time. Clarissa would play read and play for hours.

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Since Christmas, I have slowed down the pace of her lessons and we have enjoyed it more. There are four lessons per week of the curriculum. So we spend two weeks talking about a Bible story and spreading out the activities. We usually end up doing school three days per week. So we usually end up doing something different on the third day. Lately that has meant working through a healthy habits/manners curriculum I found on SchoolhouseTeachers. I am also in the process of reviewing a few learning websites so Clarissa has enjoyed that extra screen time playing those games.

Clarissa seems to really like our schedule for school. It’s not everyday so that it gets boring. But if we don’t do school for a few days, she will ask for it. I think she likes reading the Bible stories. I like that we do the same story for two weeks so that by the end of the two weeks, she can tell me the story. She also likes having some free days to be able to create things. For example, recently she read a book about a girl who made her own country. Clarissa spent the entire afternoon turing her room into “Clarissavania,” complete with a national anthem, national tower, and flag.

She still isn’t thrilled about writing. But she does it now. I write the letter of the week and the number. She will trace it four times each. She does recognize the letters that we have worked on so far. She can write longer now before she gets tired, probably because Clarissa spends time coloring most days.

Clarissa does get excited about the activities though. If I try to just get by with reading the Bible story or a book and then counting or practicing letters, she knows. She will ask “but what is the activity today?”

img_20180207_102354971114659.jpgAt this pace, we will probably finish this curriculum by the time she turns 5 in August. But really, there is no rush. The beauty of homeschooling is that we aren’t bound to a specific schedule. As a more experienced homeschool mom pointed out recently, “we’ve got 18 years…”

What we do for preschool (part 2)

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Since we have moved to Korea, I have paid more attention to when my friends get to go to conferences and conventions. I didn’t do a lot of that when we lived in Norfolk. Probably because I was either working or Clarissa was really young. But I have also discovered online conferences and conventions. Many of them are free!

In May, I spent most of the month listening to speakers from The Online Homeschool Convention while I was making dinner or doing dishes. It was pretty cool to be able to pick and choose what I wanted to listen to. And to be able to turn something off in the middle if I wasn’t really feeling it.

One thing that really resonated with me was just letting kids play when they were small. Let them learn by doing. Make learning fun. You don’t want to ruin school for them when they are small because once you lose your love of learning, it is hard to get it back.

I bought a curriculum to work on with Clarissa when she was four and for a few days, I really struggled with if I was going to do it or not. But she kept asking for school. We started God’s Little Explorers in July. The curriculum has lessons for four days per week. There is a big Bible story, theme, and letter each week. By starting in July, it gives us two weeks to do each theme so we can really take our time and have plenty of time for play.

The first week set a fun foundation to work from. We learned about the letter X. I hid all of our school supplies and put a sticky note with the letter X nearby so she could find them. She had a great time!

Clarissa has been very excited about our Bible stories. She likes that we read them multiple times and from different Bibles (The Jesus Storybook Bible and the Beginner’s Bible). She also likes that there is a theme to the books I get from the library each week. For example, when we learned about the Creation Story, our letter was G for garden so we read books about plants. There is also usually a shape to focus on and some crafts. The part Clarissa is not excited about is writing. She wrote big G just fine, but “didn’t like little g. Can I write s?” When we were talking about A for Adam and Eve, she wanted to do the letter C.

I have decided that I’m not going to push the writing at this point. She just turned four. She doesn’t have to be able to write the alphabet in order to read. So we’re just going to keep going with our curriculum since she likes most of it (and I really like it too). When she wants to write, we will. When we learned about Noah, I was able to get her to do some “rainbow letters” for C. Sometimes she will also trace words if I draw a picture first on the dry erase board.

Another component to this curriculum is learning to help around the house. Clarissa has been pretty good about bringing her dishes to the sink and putting her dirty clothes in the hamper. Since starting this curriculum she has started cutting bananas and cheese, making peanut butter sandwiches, and peeling carrots. She also wants to decorate her own pizza. I recently made a chore chart for Clarissa. She likes moving the magnets when she finishes her chore. She has actually complied with the, “you have to do these chores before you can ___” part also.

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Clarissa gets really excited to do school after dinner. Probably because she walks by where I keep all of her school stuff. So she will just pick out an activity to do. We have several dry erase books to work on letters or numbers. She has matching cards for opposites. We recently learned to play “go fish.”

Another thing I bought for her was a peel and stick dry erase world map from the px. When we read a book or watch something on tv where they talk about another place, we will walk over to the map and look for it. Sometimes the map gets pretty messy with drawings of penguins on Antarctica, Nemo near Australia, or pyramids in Egypt. And sometimes she just scribbles over it. But that’s the beauty of dry erase. And while she’s scribbling, she’s building her hand muscles so she’ll want to write more, in theory anyway…

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They offer both gymnastics and ballet on post, so I was planning to let her pick which one she wanted to do. For most of the summer, ballet was the frontrunner so she could wear her tutu. When it was time to sign up, she changed her mind. She said she wants to take classes when she’s 5. So we’ll wait on that for now. The beauty of military life is that you can register at any point during the year so we don’t have to wait until next fall if she decides she wants to take classes earlier. I did however register her for AWANA. She loves Vacation Bible School so I think she will like AWANA as well.

What we do for preschool (part 1)

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With everyone sharing pictures of the first day of school/preschool the past few weeks, I thought I would share what Clarissa has been doing for preschool.

Clarissa has an August birthday so she will always be one of the youngest in her class. For most of age three, she rarely woke up before 8 AM. Add to that, that I get to be a stay at home mom while we live in Korea. We decided to keep her home for preschool.

At three years old, I feel like it is really important that Clarissa gets to play and be creative. I bought some Usborne sticker books , wipe away books, and flap books to teach colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. We worked on them whenever she asked for “her school books.”

We read a lot of books! She likes to “read” me the stories too. At first, it was the stories that we had read a thousand times so she almost had them memorized anyway. But now she will pick up a book that we have never read before, look at the pictures, and tell me the story. Sometimes she even reads “in her head.” She often asks to go to the library.

Clarissa has a lot of toys that inspire imagination. We inherited a doll house and a play kitchen last year. She also loves to play with legos. She also helped me a lot in the kitchen with counting tablespoons or mixing things in the bowl. Cookie cutters and sprinkles are probably her favorite part of cooking though. For the first half of three she really liked to paint and play with play doh. Then she moved on to making pictures with stickers or by cutting and glueing.

Clarissa loves to go on vacation and to museums. We make sure to hit up the children’s museum and an aquarium or zoo every place we go. Science museums seem to be hit or miss, depending on if there is enough English for us to explain the science to her. But she loves to watch or read Magic School Bus.

At the end of the day, I want her to enjoy learning. She recognizes her letters and numbers to 12. She actually understands what it means to have six bears. I think social development is also a big deal in preschool. Clarissa has  playdates regularly so she is learning to share and play with others. She can follow simple directions.

I did buy a more formal curriculum to do with her while she is four. But even then, I plan to be pretty relaxed and take our time with it.