“Men Are That They Might Have Joy.”

Image                                                Yes, we’re here to learn. We’re here to learn to find JOY! (2 Nephi 2:25)

Since we talked about Affliction, the what’s and why’s, last week in Family Night, we decided to cover the topic of Joy and Gratitude this week.

Here is the puzzle I made for the kids, Thank you Heavenly Father Puzzle The puzzle pieces have scriptures that talk about Joy, both how we can obtain it and how we can have it even amidst trials. Then on the other side is a picture of a little girl praying, on which I wrote “Thank you Heavenly Father” on ours. We cut out the puzzle first, then found the scriptures and talked about joy. After that we put the puzzle together with the little girl showing and talked about one of the greatest ways to find joy is to look for and thank our Heavenly Father for all of our blessings.

It was really a simple lesson, but the kids liked the puzzle and I feel like they understood the point…which is always a good thing;)

What are ways you have used to teach about Affliction and Joy?

Moon Pies?….Kinda

Moon Pies?....Kinda

So while studying the Moon, we needed something more for our kiddos to make the connection between the Phases of the moon, the changing of the month, orbit and so on…they got the gist but it wasn’t enough.
With our kids, interest is a first priority cause they can tune you out OH SO MASTERFULLY! Thankfully inspiration hit (my good ideas are never mine 🙂 ) and I remembered some buttercream frosting in the fridge (Homemade and thus thicker than store-bought, made with vegetable oil spread actually)
We rolled 3 dollops of the plain white frosting into about 2inch diameter balls, for the Full and 2 Gibbous Moons, then stuck them in the freezer.
Then we mixed some cocoa powder into some white frosting to make the dark portions on the white frosting balls (Gibbous Moon Phases).
Next we mixed some peanut butter and cocoa into some of the white frosting and made 5 more balls (approx. same size as others) for the other Phases (2 crescents, 1 New, and 2 quarters).
We stuck those in the freezer for a bit and then “frosted” them with the leftover white frosting to make them look like the other before mentioned Phases of the Moon.
Anyway, the best part was it didn’t take long, the kids could do the majority of it, and they were totally focused.
While the “Moons” were freezing we cut up the papers and wrote the names of the phases on them, used some yellow playdoh for the side of the sun and our well-played-with-clay was all rolled into a ball to make the earth. Then we got out our “Moons” and set them up on the correct label and Voila! A memorable and tasty model of the Phases of the Moon!
P.S. The added bonus was that tonight was our Family Night and this Science activity took care of our family treat too! 

Time4learning.com: A Review

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This year we had a bit of a curriculum “overhaul”….well maybe just a curriculum “tailoring” One of my main concerns was that we were spending SO much time in books and hands-on activities that I felt my children were lacking in computer skills. Personally, I think technology training is an absolute MUST for children in this generation. However, I’m finding that we are a bit strict in our media allowances in our home. I wanted a good balance of education, fun, and technology but I wasn’t sure I could get an “all-in-one” deal. Well, maybe I didn’t but I feel we’ve come pretty close.

Have you heard of Time4learning.com ? It is an online educational program for PreK- Grade 12. Some users are using it as their main source of curriculum, as homeschoolers. Others use it for after school practice or a supplement. We use it as a supplement, it’s been a great incentive for my kids in subjects they struggle with or don’t enjoy. In the lower grades (which we use) the curriculum cover at least Math and Language Arts (PreK) and up to Science, Social Studies and what is called Language Arts Extensions that are often Science based.

In short this is what I love:

1.) Easy to Use:

My kids can navigate this with little to no help. Everything is very clearly outlined and guided both for parent and student.

2.) Interesting and Fun:

Even I like to do the lessons! The lessons are very informative and comprehensive but I don’t think my kids realize that they are learning, it’s presented in a an interesting and fun way that keeps them engaged. They often choose Time4learning over movies!

3.) Safe:

There are no ads that my kids can accidently end up in some not-kid-friendly place in cyberspace. The content is straight-forward and not a commercial in disguise or pushing a political or religious view-point.

4.) Self-paced and self-tracking:

The kids are not pressured to move at a pace they are not comfortable with and they can move ahead up to a grade level ahead (or below) if they need to. All lessons are kept track of and parents can view how many lessons have been done and how the kids are doing on the “quizzes”.

5.)Affordable:

The price is WAY less than you would spend on all the subjects, if you were to buy the curriculum.  What we really loved was that there are many sample lessons available on the website that will let you try out the curriculum and grade level before signing up.

My only two “gripes” with the program:

1.) Some of the language arts lessons can be “manipulated”. What I mean by this is that kids can get enough clues from graphics and voice inflections that they can avoid doing all the reading.

2.) Very Common-Core/ “Traditional” learning based program. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s more of a preference and I’m not sure you could make an online program any other way. In our homeschool we try to focus more on discovery/hands-on learning and less on rote/ multiple choice/ “in-a-box” learning, this program is more of the latter type.

All in all we’ve been very pleased with Time4Learning.com and it’s fulfilled it’s purpose of fostering more technology learning and reinforcing our learning done at home.

Disclaimer: As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschoolafter school study or summer learning.

Kid-Craft: Flannel Turkey

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This project turned out so cute I just had to share. We’ve been working on sewing during our handicraft time and this past week was a flannel project. My 5 yr. old wanted to make a pumpkin (pattern coming soon!) and my 8 yr. old chose a turkey. I made the pattern for the body and showed him how it would go together and he did the rest, meaning all the other details and sewing. It took him a total of probably 1-2 hours over the course of a week.  I will just add a pattern for the feathers and face or you can freelance it if you want. He also chose not to have wings but you could add them easily (even using the feather pattern). Here it goes, first time sharing an idea with a downloadable pattern and trying to explain what we did! I tried to take pictures but I would appreciate feedback so I can improve further pattern sharing:)!

Terms of Use: This and other patterns on this site represent our original ideas and work. Please do not redistribute, sell, or use this or any other pattern on this site for commercial use. Thank you!

Flannel Turkey Pattern0001

Instructions:

1.) Cut out pattern

2.) Use pattern to lightly pencil onto your desired flannel colors (we used orange for the belly and feathers, brown for the back and head, and red for some more feathers. Keep in mind that you are cutting out just one piece of flannel for each pattern piece (for each turkey you make), EXCEPT for the feathers. We used four feathers but you can cut out however many you wish, just remember that if you want your turkey to sit up by himself you’ll need him(or her:) to be balanced.

3.) Once pattern(s) have been transferred onto the flannel cut out all pieces.

4.)Sew together the belly and back first. The belly goes underneath the back, similar to a diaper. We sewed the front, then under-belly together and then turned it “inside-out” so that we could stuff it and then just sewed up the backside. (In the picture the belly is orange and the back is brown)

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5.) Tack (lightly, using small stitches) on the head just at the “neck” area so that it will stick up above the body a bit.

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6. )Tack on the eyes and beak onto the head.

7. )Sew on the feathers in a “fanned” fashion on the backside.

8.) Add any details you want (wings, feet, etc.)

9.) Set up your cute turkey to decorate for the season!

Simple Family Gratitude Activity

Simple Family Gratitude Activity

If you have “visual/hands-on” learners at your home you might enjoy this gratitude exercise. We have done this the past few years, starting on our first family night in November, it’s a great way to start off the holiday season.
1.) Gather the family and have a Gratitude discussion (we ask questions like, “What is gratitude?” “How do you show gratitude to others and God?” and accompany the discussion with Scripture)
2.) Cut 1-2 in. wide by 6-10 in. long strips of different colored paper and have everyone write the things they are thankful for on the strips.
3.) Staple the strips of paper around each other to create a “Gratitude Chain” and hang it up as a reminder of blessings. We keep ours up til after Christmas!
The kids always look forward to this activity and we’ve kept our chain from the last two years to add on to. It’s been so fun to see how some things stay the same (I’m thankful for food, family, home,etc.) and some things change (our favorites this year have been “I’m thankful for my belly button, my hair and poop! I guess the “better out, than in” saying holds true :))

Fill ‘Er Up!

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So I promised in my last post that I would explain the crazy card-stock people standing on my kitchen counter….well, would you believe that they are part of our discipline training?

I’ve used various methods for teaching discipline training but it usually turned out that when it all came out in the wash I was using a punishment/reward program that was only an extrinsic motivation. I didn’t and don’t want that. I want my kids to WANT to OBEY, to WANT to be GOOD. Not because they want something in return or are trying to avoid a bad consequence. I want them to do good for the sake of BEING good. To FEEL what is the right thing to do. Does that make sense? Yes, its ideological and asking a lot of small children but I’m also all about reaching for the moon and at least catching some stars along the way.

One night as I was washing the dishes ( when I do my pondering 🙂 The thought came to me (yep, can’t take credit for it:) of revamping an idea that my husband had used for his team-training modules at work. For his example, he had used buckets and each team member was to fill it will nice things they noticed about others (there was more to it than that but you get the jist). Anyway, I thought that if I could help my kids visualize what their behaviors caused (or contributed to) in themselves and others than maybe it would help them want to make better choices.

So over the course of several Family Counsels this is what we did. Note: when referring to “good” and “bad”, it was based on our family rules and religious beliefs.

FC 1: Had a discussion/devotional on covenants or promises that we make to our Heavenly Father. When we are Christian people what do we commit to do and be?

FC 2: Go rock hunting!

FC 3: Make our own “mini-me”. Using manila folders the kids (and I) drew and cut out a picture that we made of ourselves and taped it to an glass jar full of rocks/beans (we couldn’t find enough rocks)

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FC 4: Discuss how our spirit can FEEL good choices and bad choices. Also, when we make good choices we can have the Holy Spirit to guide us and we have more happiness as a result of both.

FC 5: Discuss that our jar is like our spirit, when we do good things it fills up, bad things take away. Explained our goals of trying to keep our own and others jars filled up during the next week. If someone makes a bad decision then they must take rocks out of their own jar and anyone else that was involved in the decision (sometimes the whole family!). Then they need to think of a way they can fill those jars back up (“I’m sorry” is a start but more action is required). Also, if someone is “caught” doing good things without being “motivated” then they get to add to their jar and anyone else involved in their making a good decision (usually Mom is happier!)

Of course, this isn’t a perfect model of life. Also, the first day was a bit of a hassle trying to manage all the jar nonsense. I really thought about giving up in the first couple hours but even though it was involved and seemingly fluffy…. For us, I think it fulfilled it’s purpose.

By the third day, I could see my kids realizing how their behaviors affected not only them, but others. This time they could SEE a model of what happened to their spirit. For the first couple of days we really focused on how someone FELT when they made a good or bad decision so they could recognize that they could be guided, if they chose to be. I was especially impressed with how much understanding my 3 year old gained in this process- it seemed that  a light bulb went off for her when she saw that SHE could choose how her day would go.

We still have such a long way to go and this is only the beginning of what we’ve been doing as we concentrate on discipline (stay tuned for more posts on our triumphs and failures!), but it was a step or two in the direction we want to be going and that is always so encouraging!

So, what types of activities have helped your family understand or become more disciplined?

Multi-purpose

DSCN6954DSCN6943DSCN6946DSCN6930DSCN6960                                                                  So what is it? A tulip? An airplane? Mathmatic or color practice? A rainbow? A caterpillar? Well, they started out at plastic colored clothes-pins but became all of those things and more (I wish I had pictures of the “hair-clips” and “fingernails”!) Love the imagination of kids!