wpid-img_23011-2015-07-16-11-19.jpg During the Pilgrims trip to the New World a baby was born on the Mayflower. On the (real) Mayflower, the baby’s name was Oceanus, on our trip, the baby’s name is Isaac Matthew.

wpid-thanksgiving-2015-06-15-17-091.jpg After months of prayer and fasting for a new home, God has delivered us to a safe place where we can live, work and worship. So, today we give thanks (thanksgiving) to God for safe travels to our new home in Holland.

Teaching lesson: there wasn’t just one Thanksgiving. In Christianity there is a cycle of prayer and fasting for a solution, when God delivers the solution we then give thanks aka thanksgiving…and we don’t eat turkey at every thanksgiving!

wpid-img_0476-2015-06-9-11-22.jpgWe fear for our lives. King James men know that we are worshiping within our homes and, while we continue to move our worship in different locations, we fear that one day soon, they will find and in prison us.

I have heard that the low countries allow freedom of worship. In the morning, we shall pack our things and be off to Holland. This move is a cross that I must bear, for I know that my home is not of this world, but of Heaven (1).

In this new land, they will not speak English but Dutch. So we must learn their language. Homework for this week, learn where Holland is and basic Dutch greetings:

  • Hallo (“HAH low”) – Hello
  • Goedemorgen (“KHOO duh MORE khen”) — Good morning
  • Dank u wel (“dahnk oo vel”) — Thank you very much
  • Alstublieft (“ALST oo bleeft”) — Please or if you please (formal)
  • Hoe gaat het?  (hoo ghaat het) — How are you?
  • Heel goed (hayl ghoot) — Very well

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(1) Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

wpid-imgres-2015-06-7-10-14.jpgKing James men found out that we were worshiping on the Sabbath in my (Wm Bradford) house and were coming to arrest us. We fled to another person from our congregations house and proceeded to worship. We must make plans and be prepared in case we are forced to leave our homeland.

Homework – make a list of things that we want to take with us if we were forced to leave Scrooby from the persecution of King James

wpid-bradford_w-2015-06-7-10-07.jpgScooby, England 1607, the house of William Bradford. I, William Bradford, will henceforth be your narrator of the trials, tribulations and victories of the Puritan voyage to America.

King James has decreed that everyone in England must attend his church (the Church of England). While we think that the Church of England is fine, it’s not the way that we want to worship God. So we are going to meet at my house on the Sabbath for worship.

wpid-images-2015-06-7-09-54.jpgSummer is my favorite time of year. The girls have freedom from their otherwise strict schedules, the days are longer and, most importantly, summer learning begins.

This year we were blessed with health during the school year. Sara missed only a few weeks of school during the year so ended the third grade ready for fourth. Sophia had a great year of kindergarten and seems to be ready for first grade.

The last few summers I’ve had to cram to get the girls ready for their next year of school, but this year, we have the luxury of time. We now have the freedom to learn for fun not out of necessity to catch up. So, this year I am adding history to our curriculum.

This summer we are going to experience the life of the Pilgrims (Separatist Puritans) and their journey to America. We have 8 weeks to role-play the decisions, obstacles and victories of the Puritans as they left their homes in Scrooby, England through establishment their settlement in Plymouth. We have books to read, budgets to make and, most importantly, hats to wear.

So now, we’re off to Scrooby, England 1607….

2014-11-09 21.00.12As a kid growing up, I learned the usual Bible stories; Noah and the Arc, David and Goliath, Adam and Eve, Moses and the Ten Commandments, etc.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured out how all of these pieces fit together in the bigger God story. 

Now as a parent, my challenge is how do I give my children a better understanding of the Bible than I had?  How do I make it relevant to them at an early age?  For nearly two years, I prayed, planned and discussed methods; then one day it hit me. The inspiration for my lesson plan came from one simple word:  “context”. 

Context was the missing element from my youth.  “Great, David killed a giant thousands of years ago…so what?  Did that happen before or after the flood?  Was Moses around to see the battle?  Why were there giants around anyway? “

My thought is that context comes from understanding God’s relationship with His people over time (i.e on a timeline).  When Adam and Eve were living happily in the Garden, the relationship between God and man was “perfect”.  When they rebelled, man’s relationship with God was “cursed.”  As Moses brought the ten commandments, man’s relationship took a step up to “the law.”  Then Jesus came to redeem us from the curse and move us beyond the law into a relationship of “grace.” 

Knowing the “hot points” on the timeline (Adam and Eve, Moses, Jesus) and our relationship with God (perfect, curse, the law, grace), we are then going to fill in the blanks of the story.  Moses freed the Israelites from Egypt…why were the Israelites slaves in the first place?  So we will spend a couple days studying Joseph to answer that question. But we will also note that the story of Joseph happened while we were still under the curse…before the law. 

Being a visual learner (and teacher), I have put together the mother of all Biblical foam board timelines on my office wall.  As we learn a story or a part of a story the girls help me  put pictures and key words on the timeline to help us remember the significant points of the story (tactile learning). 

For instance, today we studied the young Moses.  We made a special note of Miriam (as we are going to highlight women of the Bible) and the burning bush.  Under a picture of the burning bush we put “you are chosen.” 

I hope to blog updates of our progress as we muddle through this process, hopefully getting better and having more fun learning about the Bible.

As my girls and I work on this big God story together, I pray that over time, the understanding of God’s love for us, which began at the beginning of time and has never stopped, will be tattooed on their hearts.  And that time we spend together talking about God, in the presence of God, will deepen their knowledge of their daddy’s love for them as well. 

ImageFor most of Sara’s second grade experience, her teacher noted on her weekly goals to use “more interesting language.”  I’m not exactly sure what exercises she was supposed to do but I didn’t see much progress in her vocabulary during the year.  So this summer we are working on dynamic and impressive words.  Unfortunately, vocabulary is not one of my strengths.

Oh, what to do?

One night, as I read a book to the girls titled “Consider Love” by one by one of my favorite children’s authors, Sandra Boynton, I realized that she was using beautiful, interesting words to describe love.  Viola!  Here is my vocabulary list for this summer.  We have words like: frivolous, mysterious, despairing, unbounded, etc.  I love when I seek an answer and it simply appears.

So I made a list of the words that we are going to study this summer.  The trick then, was how to incorporate our vocabulary words with all of the other English lessons I want to teach.  After five failed attempts, I finally got the answer.  The exercise sheet looks something like this:

  • Write a definition of the word.  Yes, we have to pull out a paper-based dictionary and flip through pages..how retro!
  • What part of speech is it?  We are learning nouns, verbs and adjectives
  • Name four things that are {insert vocabulary word here}.  Trying to broaden our understanding of nouns
  • Name four things that {insert vocabulary word here} things do.  Trying to broaden our understanding of verbs
  • Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word, a noun and a verb from the lists.

We are having a hard time coming up with the list of nouns and verbs but I guess that’s what exercises are all about.  My goal is that this exercise can help Sara understand how an interesting adjective and verb can really add flavor to her writing.

I’m not sure how much Sara is learning but I can tell you that I’m learning scads!

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test everything; hold fast what is good. (Thessalonians 5:22)

photo (38) Ask any teacher who follows the common core (CC) curriculum and they will tell you that the old fashioned “algorithm” of borrowing and carrying is too prone to mistakes, no one understands it and it doesn’t teach placement value of numbers. For full disclosure, I haven’t interviewed every teacher of CC, but the teachers I’ve interacted with and websites I visit say the same thing.

Granted, borrowing and carrying is difficult to understand but the CC answer borders on insanity, here’s a video describing their methods: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVqqPwhZRDs. On the video they missed the CC strategy of having a kid count on their fingers and toes (and for really big numbers, their neighbors fingers and toes)!

While I understand all of the methods and what they are trying to teach, I’ve also seen the effects of teaching a second grade kid three, four or five different methods to solve an equation; they don’t really understand any of them. Confusion, frustration, anger, hopelessness…and those are just my emotions when forced to solve a simple equation with multiple CC methods, you should see Sara’s list of emotions!

Plus it’s simple statistics, the more calculations they do, the more prone to error the calculation becomes. As you saw in the video, some of the methods have exponentially more calculations than the “old fashioned” way.

What’s a summer homeschooling dad to do?
Read the rest of this entry »

imagesYesterday Sara and I signed the summer contract for 2.5 months of summer learning, two lessons per day, in exchange for the grand prize of $50.  My little Sara made me very proud in two ways:  First, the contract was written in cursive and she read every word, second, she negotiated the terms about how she would lose the $50.  While I was proud of her for negotiating, she unfortunately didn’t gain any ground. 

Today was the second day of summer learning and we picked up right where we left off last year.  Sara got right into the groove and I had the lessons ready to go….easy!  

Last year at this time was very stressful because there was so much for Sara to learn and I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull it off in such a short time.  This year Sara is about where she needs to be academically so we can spend this summer getting ahead of the curve.  In math Sara is doing really well, I expect to get through +, –  and x up to 10’s and begin some division.  

I want to focus our efforts this summer in vocabulary, spelling and writing (in cursive); unfortunately some of my least favorite/competent subjects.  How do we make this fun and educational?  I’m not quite sure…but I’ll keep you posted.

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” (Galatians 5:22)

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