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Gryphon House is an exceptional publisher of educational resource books for teachers and parents, public school and homeschool, young children; and administrators. Their website is easy to navigate and stimulating. There are hundreds of free activities available for you and your child!
As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I recently had the opportunity to read The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live. The title might be used to describe how I raised my own children; but with my youngest firmly in elementary school now, I was looking for encouragement and direction as I consider teaching other preschoolers from the same homegrown bent. This book is just what I was looking for!
The authors, Kathy Lee and Leslie Richards, are mothers of several children, birthed and adopted; including gifted and special needs. They have years of education and hands-on experience between the two of them, and their book is beautifully compiled. A large, 81/2″x 11″, high gloss paperback, it is bold, colorful, inviting; and full of life. With the family pictures and personal anecdotes generously scattered throughout the book, by the end of it, I felt like I had shared conversations and special moments with wonderful, trusted friends.
From their intros, they had my attention. Kathy Lee says, “Children who experience their preschool years discovering and experiencing are more willing to take risks later in their education journey.” I didn’t previously know this, so within the first few pages I gained valuable information. Then, Leslie said, “. . . much of learning can be done within the everyday rhythm of life — measuring flour, skip counting on the trampoline, bringing a meal to a shut-in, writing letters to friends, participating in interesting conversations about big ideas,” and I was reminded of what I do know; and I found encouragement.
The Homegrown Preschooler is divided into 2 sections:
Chapters 1 – 9 help you understand why and how to educate your child/ren at home, giving them a foundation for life-long learning.
Homeschooling – Harvesting a Bountiful Life
Learning through Play
Sowing the Seeds – Preschool Learning
Setting the Stage
Home Life = Learning — Slow Down and Teach
Who Has Time for This?
Organizing It All
Days and Seasons That Don’t Fit in the Box
The second section is nearly 100 pages, with at least 200 “easy-to-pull-together”, age appropriate Activities to prepare your child for kindergarten and beyond. Promoting a healthy educational balance for –
Language & Emergent Literacy
and Social – Emotional skills.
An Appendix includes an Activity Checklist, a Getting Started Checklist; and pages of Resources, with web sites, books, blogs and apps to lend a hand, instruct and encourage you along the way. They share all their favorites!
I tried recipes, for food and play. There are dozens of them throughout the book. I’ve made ordinary finger paints and play dough before, but I’d never made clean mud or puffy paint! The make-ahead Turkey Taco Pie is easy. The recipe makes a lot, so it can be divided and frozen for extra pies, but it is actually perfect for my large family. It tastes good, too! I hone in on housekeeping and organizational tips, because the Lord knows I can use as much help in that department as I can get. There are so many good ideas here — some I’ve had myself, implemented and forgotten, or simply slacked off on, and I’ve read them as gentle reminders; others are brand new, and more than once I’ve thought, “Duh, why didn’t I think of that!” For example, we have wood floors and I taught my children how to sweep and mop them. How much more fun is it to have “The Clean Floor Dance Party: This often dreaded chore will become one of your favorites! Provide your child with a pair of white tube socks and a spray bottle of white vinegar and water. Encourage your child to squirt the hard floor with the vinegar solution. Put on your favorite dance music. Dance and skate around on the floor until it is shiny!” Clean floor, lots of fun and laughter, plus, with the amount of floor we have, this gets everyone’s heart rate up and counts as cardiovascular exercise, or PE, too!
I have no doubt, I will continue to use this book, digging into its riches. At $29.95, it’s a treasure I can share with my daughters who are just beginning to teach my preschool grandchildren. The Homegrown Preschooler is much more articulate than I am and I think it will be one of the best tools I can offer them for their journey.
My Crew mates had the choice of reviewing this same book or one titled, Global Art. You can read their reviews when you click the graphic below and follow the link.
Disclaimer* I received The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live, in exchange for my honest review as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog. The opinions expressed are my own.
Thank you for your comments. I enjoy hearing from you!
Contents of this blog are copyrighted; they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace and may not be used without written permission.
What are you planting this year?
What are you cultivating in your heart and mind;
and in the hearts and minds of your children?
“Keep clear of personalities in conversation.
Talk of things, objects, thoughts.
The smallest minds occupy themselves with persons.
Do not needlessly report ill of others.
As far as possible, dwell on the good side of human beings.
There are family boards where a constant process of depreciating,
assigning motives, and cutting up character, goes forward.
They are not pleasant places.
One who is healthy does not wish to dine at a dissecting table.
There is evil enough in man, God knows.
But it is not the mission of every young man and woman to detail and report it all.
Keep the atmosphere as pure as possible,
and fragrant with gentleness and charity.”
– John Hall, Pastor (1829-1898)
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
“A house is no home unless it contain food and fire
for the mind as well as for the body.”
– Margaret Fulle
May we sow seeds of heirloom quality.
[An heirloom seed is seed from a plant
that has been passed from one generation to another,
carefully grown and saved
because it is considered valuable.]
May we grow strong and sure,
seeing a heritage of fine harvests.
*Contents of this blog are copyrighted; they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace, and may not be used without permission.
Today is the first of 40 days without TV in my house. It’s been years since we’ve not had TV. I used to be able to say that it had been years since we watched TV. At one point, we had been without TV, by choice, for more years than we had had one. We decided to get Basic Cable connected to keep up with the Presidential election, for Government & Economics class, at the beginning of 2008; and we’ve had it since then. Ugh! It’s not that our program choices are bad, poor, or even questionable, usually. It just seems to be a robber of time, imagination, and interaction.
Presently, this is an experiment. We are observing each other and asking the questions of ourselves, “How is my life affected, negatively or positively, without TV?” and “What changes do I see, in myself or others?” I’ve noticed a few bad habits that have taken up residence over the years, but I have every expectation that they’ll be so malnourished during this time that they’ll slip away into non-existence. “May I finish this show while I’m eating? It’s educational.” “Instead of a story tonight, maybe we could watch a short movie?” “I started watching this with everyone and it’ll be over in half an hour, do I have to go to bed on time?” “It’s too cold, too wet or too hot; and it takes too much energy to be outside. I’d rather watch TV for a few minutes.” I want to re-establish good habits, and the desire for them.
Not nearly enough reading, drawing, and creativity has been going on around here lately. My aim is to bring attention, once again, to what we’re missing when we spend more time watching how something is made, instead of making something ourselves; or watching someone else sing, praise, pray, or dig into The Word, instead of purposefully hiding God’s Word in our own heart. We watch someone prepare a gourmet meal on The Cooking Channel, but end up with take-out pizza because we were sitting, watching TV instead of grocery shopping. Ugh! It’s my intention to see this thief eradicated, and balance restored. I want my family engaged in living their own life, instead of watching others live theirs. I want to re-establish good habits, and the desire for them.
How do you maintain balance in your home? I’ll let you know how this works for us.
*Contents of this blog are copyrighted; they are the property of Knee Deep In Grace, and may not be used without permission.
Ahhh…reading! Just the thought of a good book makes me smile. It has been some time since I’ve been able to stow away and read a book just for the pleasure of reading a book. My favorite type of story is one that carries me away to another place and time, a period piece, with golden threads of history woven through it. These are not easy books to write. An author will often spend a lot of time reading and researching their subject before they can even begin to put pen to paper, because most readers expect the historical account to be accurate; especially if it is a time or place that is familiar to them.
I recently found Hope. She is a promising young author, published by Great Waters Press.
The chief publishers of Great Waters Press are Hal & Melanie Young, the authors of a 2011 Book of the Year – Raising Real Men. Hope’s first book, Book One of The Promised Land, is titled A Cry From Egypt. It is written for ages 8 and up, and it is a superlative first effort!
Hope has researched Ancient Egypt for several years. Her interest was kindled when she was 13 years old and her family was studying it. Have you ever wondered how it would have been to live in Egypt during the time of the devastating plagues and the Hebrew slaves being set free? What it would have been like to experience The Promised Land, first-hand? Author Hope Auer has brought a cast of characters to life from this time, using her knowledge of Ancient Egypt, the few facts that are recorded about this period; and the Biblical account. She takes no liberties with Scripture and maintains historical accuracy, while telling a fascinating story as it is lived by a 12 year old slave girl, Jarah, her family and friends.
A Cry From Egypt is set around the time of events beginning in the seventh chapter of the book of Exodus, through the 10 plagues on Egypt; and culminating with chapter 12 –
“…I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood.”
“…I will plague your whole country with frogs.”
“…and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.”
“…I will send swarms of flies on you…”
“…the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field…”
“…festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land.”
“…I will send the worst hail storm that has ever fallen on Egypt…”
“…I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen.”
“…and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.”
“Every firstborn son in Egypt will die…”
These verses are foundational to the story, yet they are never directly referenced. Hope has interlaced a believable story of possibilities with the Truth. We see compassion, hatred, fear, forgiveness, unbelief, faith; and more, but it is clearly a story, not a sermon. Through the characters, we have the freedom to question and explore, Who is Yahweh? Can we know Him? Does He hear our pleas for deliverance, help or salvation? We’re reminded of God’s perfect timing and His great love for us. We connected with Jarah and could openly discuss what it means to trust Yahweh. Will she be willing to trust Him to lead her to the promised land? Would we?
I chose to read this aloud to my older teens and down. I read a few chapters at a time and then we would discuss it, not because we were having “school” but because it genuinely prompted stimulating conversation. One evening we spent a chunk of time on, “How do you determine whether or not someone is being punished justly or abused before you step-in? Is it ever okay to step-in? What is the Biblical basis for your answer? Where do we stand as a family?”
I finished the book first by myself, because I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know how Hope was going to write this, whether she’d mention that; and what happened to them? I wasn’t disappointed. The only issue I had was in finishing the chapter tease for Book Two, found at the end of A Cry From Egypt, and realizing it’s not yet written and I can’t purchase it! Oh my, can I wait patiently or not? That is the question.
You can purchase an advanced copy of A Cry From Egypt, for $12.50. Scroll to the bottom of the Raising Real Men Web Page, right-hand side; and see Contact Us to email Hal and Melanie Young or find them on facebook – Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys and Great Waters Press.
My Crew mates had the opportunity to read A Cry From Egypt or another new book published by Great Works Press – Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship. You can read their reviews when you click the banner below.
Hope is a homeschool graduate, and so is her illustrator, Mike Slaton. This knowledge was an encouragement to me as I teach my own artists, musicians and writers. It also spoke volumes to my children because it is a positive, hopeful, published writing by one-like-them. On a more basic level, my 8 year old daughter liked the action of the story and enjoyed the fact that Jarah has an 8 year old little sister and older brothers just like she has. It is simply a good book and that makes me smile.
Everyone needs daily physical activity. Generally, our level of physical fitness reflects the state of our overall health, and the body’s fitness is usually determined by the amount of physical work we do. Many of our ancestors physically worked hard every day. They were naturally active. Technological progress has changed the very nature of work. Often, we sit at work and then, we sit at home. Establishing a regimen of consistent physical exercise has the potential to improve our health, well-being and life expectancy. Yet, it seems so difficult to implement. I’m hoping that if I start a program with my children, now, maybe it will become such a habit that they will continue it into adulthood. The experts estimate that “by 2015 75% of all US kids, adolescents and adults will be overweight or obese.” That’s a statistic I’d rather not have a direct connection to.
Designed for grades K through 8th, Family Time Fitness utilizes the Guided Discovery Method to teach Movement Education. “Guided Discovery is based on providing simple instruction then allowing children to explore movements on their own.” Guided Discovery is approved by the International Youth Conditioning Association.
Family Time Fitness gives us, as parents and teachers, the instruction needed to confidently teach our children basic physical movement:
Each of the 260 lessons is clearly outlined with written instructions and video examples to follow.
Lessons detail –
and Suggested Recovery Time
3-5 activities for Warm-up:
Standing Leg Swings
the Rocking Horse Series
3 or 4 activities for Game Play:
Shuffle & Skip with Toss
Partner Turn and Pass
and Several Others…
2-3 Cool Down activities:
the Bowing Pose
Palm Tree Pose
and Single Leg Stretch
To Name a Few…
And 1 Outdoor Activity:
Monkey in the Middle
Who can Hula Hoop the Longest?
The Agility Course
The lessons are structured to provide 25-45 minutes of physical activity, with an additional 15-30 minutes of outdoor play included for a full 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. On average, it is taking us an entire hour just to accomplish the 25-45 minute activity. Sometimes for fun, they do the 15-30 minute play, later in the day. Other days, lack of time doesn’t allow us to do anymore PE for the day. This program is flexible to any schedule, adaptable to any level of fitness and can be easily modified to meet each family’s needs.
It is recommended that Fitness 4 Homeschool be used at the same time each day, 5 days a week. Presently, we are only using it 2 to 3 times a week. Believing that “physical activity helps activate the brain and improves on task behavior,” we have set our family fitness time first thing in the morning; after face washing and teeth brushing, but before breakfast and school. Starting after breakfast tends to churn up breakfast-in-the-belly because this, seriously, is a workout!
The lessons are designed so they can be done in limited space, but I think our space restrictions are a little much even for Family Time Fitness. We couldn’t seem to do any of the activities in the house. We did everything outside, and if the weather didn’t permit being outside then we postponed the lesson. For those that have ample clear floor space, ideas and suggestions are added for indoor use. For example, “Use foam balls for activities that require a ball with an alternative being a blow up beach ball.”
Lots of the activities are done without equipment, but some require readily available items that make the lessons more enjoyable:
Bean Bags – or small Balls, even a pair of socks rolled into a ball shape
Playground Balls – basketball, soccer ball or volley ball
Cones – alternative might be a box, a bucket or even a large rock
and an Exercise Mat – if needed after assessment of activity area
A Tracking Calendar is provided. It can be copied and used for record keeping, as well as encouragement when a lesson is completed.
There is also an Assessment Form. It is optional, but it is helpful to gauge where your child is starting in skill level and aptitude. Assessing again, in 6-8 weeks, will usually show a noticeable improvement in a number of areas –
and Mental Acuity
Other tools to assist you include: a Daily Food Diary, Grocery List, a Meal Planner; and a Nutrition Log.
I have the PDF version of Fitness 4 Homeschool – Core 1 Physical Education Curriculum. Paying a one time fee of $57 will give you access for a lifetime. One of my favorite things in this format is the One Page Summaries. One Page Summaries provide an overview of each lesson. They were actually created to save on print costs. How considerate! You print one page and use it as a reference guide for the lesson you reviewed. The lessons are formatted for the iPad and smartphones, too! That’s another print saver.
It’s my intention to continue with Family Time Fitness and promote a few good habits with my children. My youngest daughter loves “exercising and playing together.” Her favorite activity is actually a Warm-up: “Popcorn.” The child lies flat on her back with her arms extended over her head. She brings her knees to her chest, holding her legs with her arms wrapped around them. She lifts her head as close to her knees as possible, holding that position to the count of 10. Then, she “pops out” and back to the starting position!
My son gets distracted waiting for the set up or instruction for the next game. He’s also extremely competitive and has to be reminded that every activity is not a contest against one of his siblings. I’m looking forward to the improvement in his skill level, but also a positive change in his attitude.
The oldest daughter that is participating sees the benefit of “purposefully moving,” but has never enjoyed exercising. “If you have to do it, Family Time Fitness is more fun with the family than working out alone.”
Comments or Questions?
Email ~ CustomerService@FamilyTimeFitness.com
Phone ~ 979.209.0778
or Write ~
Family Time Fitness
3131F East 29th Street
Bryan, TX 77802
and follow on facebook
Please, follow the links I’ve provided throughout this post; including the banner below that directs you to the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog and my Crew mates reviews.
“Be enthusiastic about physical activity. Children will give physical activity the same importance and enthusiasm that the parent or teacher gives.”