Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Project: Daily Bible Reading

I have been utilizing to read the bible in a year. I am actually following two separate plans, one to read the Old Testament and the other to read the New Testament. The daily readings are emailed to me and I read it right here on my computer first thing each morning. They offer a large variety of reading plans as well as bible versions.

Lately Gess has been getting up while I have been reading and sometimes reads it with me. So as we enter the new year I thought I would have Gess read with me intentionally from now on. Beginning tomorrow I will have Gess join me with the New Testament readings. With this plan you simply read 1 chapter a day Monday - Friday and have no readings on the weekends. This will lead perfectly into our schooling each day.

I have been searching for a large print bible for Gess as she still seems to read better with larger print. I have not found one that is suitable for our needs yet. Because of that I have found reading the bible online a great way for Gess to easily follow along. Especially since we added the Readability feature to our browser.

I learned about Readability from a blog I follow called Free Resources from the Net for Every Learner. His blog Readability - Without distracting Web Page Clutter shows how to install it and how it works.

So using Readability takes this page:

and changes it to a more reader friendly and larger print page that looks like this:

There are ways to increase font size without using Readability such as hitting Ctrl + several times but this is nice because it only takes one click of the button to get it readable and it focuses the page only on the text you are looking for. To get back to the original page you simply click the button on the top left hand corner. So it just takes one click to a large print simple format and then one click back when you are done.

This will be a great exercise for Gess in many ways. She will practice reading, learn how to make pages more reader friendly and of course learn the Scriptures. Gess and I usually alternate turns by each reading a paragraph or verse, which ever seems to work best for each passage. This way we are both participating and interacting during the reading. It's about sharing and learning what we are doing, not simply reading it. Hopefully we will stick with this and at the end of the year Gess will have read along with entire New Testament! There is nothing like starting good habits while they are young! I hope this is one she learns well.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas is about giving

I really want to teach Gesserine that Christmas should be more about giving than receiving, so I always try to have her give to others. We started by participating in Operation Christmas Child which is something we have done for a few years now. All you do is choose whether you want to give to a boy or girl and decide what age age group you want to buy for. Then you fill a shoebox full of presents and goodies and Samaritan's Purse sends them around the world to children who are in need. It's really a great program and an awesome way to teach about giving. Gess enjoyed helping me pick out the gifts, I added some essentials and then together we packed our boxes. This year we chose to do both a boy and girl ages 5-9 since that is the age bracket Gess would be in.

Next we tried to find things to do for our personal family and friends. This year we decided to make homemade Christmas cards. We found some Christmas coloring pages online for her to decorate them with. I found these ones at Kaboose to be perfect for what were doing. After she colored the picture she glued it onto a piece of cardstock and then decorated the rest of the card with stickers or cut out pictures from old Christmas cards. We even cut out of some the words to add greetings to the cards. (I did the cutting, Gess did the coloring and gluing.) She made close to 20 of them and I think they turned out pretty good.

We made cookies for Christmas last year and they were simply too much work and too much mess for me. So this year I found an easy recipe at for Delicious Pumpkin Bread. One recipe made 8 mini loaves of bread. Gess helped me mix all the ingredients, stir and pour them into the pans. That's all there was to it. Now we had little loaves of bread to give out with some of the cards!

Gess also bought some gifts with her own money which we wrapped together and put under the tree. She is really excited about Christmas and getting toys and now hopefully she also realizes that Christmas means you give gifts away as well as receive them. (See our blog Christmas Tree to see other Christmas activities this year.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Seasons, Holidays and Calendar Activity

We study each holiday as it rolls around and each day we do our calendar so that we know what the date is including the month and year. We have also studied the seasons and what each season brings such as summer is warm and sunny and winter has snow, etc. So as we start this next year I want to really focus on tying it all together. I started by making the following activity.

I divided a large piece of paper into 4 sections and labeled them Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Then I printed up the name of each month and cut them out. I had Gess pick a month and try to place it in the correct block.

She actually did pretty good and got at least half of them right. Of course, since this was her first time I helped her until we got them all right.

We then added our weather symbols from our weather board so she could visually tie in the weather with the months that belong in each season. I wasn't really certain how to symbolize fall, but those were all we had left anyway. I don't have a leaf on my weather board! Anyway, in the end it looked like this:

Now I wanted to delve even deeper. While Gess found the first part of this fairly easy, this next part was quite a challenge for her. That is alright though, I plan on spending the entire year next year working this one out. As we celebrate each holiday we will emphasize the month and season it is in rather than just the purpose for our celebration. This will be a good visual tool to help her see the connection. Maybe by this time next year she will know where more of these belong.

We did the same thing as before. We had her pick a holiday and try to put in the corresponding season.

This time though we had the months under each title so we placed them in the correct season and month. After we were finished I would just quiz her. For example I would say, "name a holiday we celebrate in the fall," "name a holiday we celebrate in November," or "What season (or month) do we celebrate Groundhog Day" etc. She would use our finished board to help her find the answers.

As we start the new year I will have something like this but on a larger scale. We will have something marked with the seasons and a card for each month. As we celebrate and study a holiday we will put a picture for it on that card and place it in the correct season. By the end of next year I think she will have a better grasp on how our year is divided and know which seasons and months go together.

Another game that my speech therapist recommended is to use the cards with the names of the months and simply practice putting them in order. First have a board/paper that has the months listed in order and just have them match the cards. Once they get good at that remove the list and stop matching. The next step is to place the cards in order but leave a few of them out and have them place them in the appropriate blank. Leave more and more out until they are putting them all in order on their own. We already do this with the days of the week but will be doing the months soon.

Another great tool is the My Calendar Book by Christian Light Publications. For each month you have something that you keep track of every day. It might be the temperature, the strength of the wind, the rainfall, or other things related to that season and month. At the end of the book they get to graph the results. There is also a coloring page for each month that says the season on it as well as questions for each month such as what month it is (3rd, 4th, etc), how many days does it have and what season is it in. I really liked it this year but lost track of it in the summer. I am getting another book and starting over again in January. (This is a book that goes from Jan - Dec rather than following the school year so if you want to use it you should get it now.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Tree

Gesserine was so anxious to put up our Christmas tree that she suggested we do it before Thanksgiving was even here. It was so cute, as I was sitting at my computer one afternoon she came up to me and said, "I have an idea, let's do Christmas!" I reminded her that we needed to Thanksgiving first and to that she replied "Oh, ok." Well, each day she kept asking for the tree, so the day after Thanksgiving she finally got her wish.

I wrote a poem when my boys were younger that shares how each part of the tree is a reminder of the time when Christ was born. Here is how it goes:

A Message From Your Christmas Tree

As Christmas nears there is a lot to do,
shopping, cooking and decorating too.
With all this bustling it's easy to leave out,
what Christmas time is really about.
So this year when you put up your tree,
tell someone the secret meaning of me.

I'm an evergreen tree that you choose to use,
like Jesus' love you will never lose.
The lights on me that sparkle and shine,
tells that Jesus is this light of mine.
From my branches hang ornaments, shiny and new
like the heart that was changed inside of you.
As the wise men followed the bright shining star,
mine reminds us that Jesus is never far.
The angels sang praises on Jesus' birth,
mine symbolizes that day he came to live on earth.
And as the presents lay underneath it all,
remember that Jesus is the greatest gift of all.
We also had some lessons in our ladies bible study group that had some neat ideas about using the advent calendar, candles and other traditions as hands on ways to share the message of Christmas and keep us mindful of the reason we choose to celebrate it. A book she shared that was a great resource for her was the ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Welchel.

I was very unfamiliar with anything that dealt with Advent but I learned that there are many neat symbols we can use as tools to help teach our children about Christmas and what it really is all about. Having a child that is very much a hands on learner, I think I will start implementing these ideas in a greater degree next year. For this year I decided to start with the Advent Calendar which will do two things for me, help my daughter see for herself how many days until Christmas (so she will stop asking me every few minutes!) and offer us a lesson and Scripture for each day.

DLTK is a site that I often go to for very simple craft and coloring pages. Having remembered seeing they had some advent calendars and other activities I went to the DLTK Advent Activities page and started searching. I found two things we are doing this year because they were simple and easy to implement without any planning. One is the simple printable Christmas Tree Calendar Craft. That is how we keep track of the days. Each time that we do this I also print up one of the Christmas Story Advent Coloring Pages that has a picture and bible verse for each day from December 1 to Christmas day. That keeps our focus on the meaning of the holiday. At the end she will have a nice book with the entire Christmas story in it that she made by herself.

Here you see Gess between the tree she helped put up and decorate and her advent calendar on the wall. She is holding one of her pictures of the coloring book. I think she will truly have a better understanding of our Christmas heritage after all this is said and done.


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