Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2013-2014 Memory Verses: Fourth Grade and First Grade

Here are a few lists of the memory verses for fourth grade and first grade in 2013-2014.

We also sometimes memorize entire psalms or parables, but I put those in our poetry memorization rather than Scripture verses. Basically, if it's too long to go on an index card and gets put in the memory binder, it's "Memory Work." If it's on an index card, it's "Memory Verses." We practice and review them both about four days a week.

For all our memory verses and parables, I use the NRSV (except for one difference, noted below). If it's a psalm and in our memory binder, I usually use the KJV.

First Son's Fourth Grade Memory Verse List
  • Psalm 27:4 (from previous year)
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • Ephesians 4:31-32
  • Isaiah 11:1-3
  • Mark 8:34-36 (in progress)
First Daughter's First Grade Memory Verse List
  • Psalm 45:10 (from previous year)
  • Psalm 33:22
  • Jeremiah 31:25
  • John 6:35
  • Psalm 139:13-14
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Isaiah 9:2 (RSV)
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (in progress)
Here's a link to First Son's first grade memory verses.

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    2012-2013 Memory Verses: Third Grade and Kindergarten

    I'm organizing our work on Scripture memory verses and realized I haven't posted our memorized verses in a while. I like to have these on the blog for my own benefit and you never know when someone might search for something like "good memory verses for a third grader" and find what we did.

    We also sometimes memorize entire psalms or parables, but I put those in our poetry memorization rather than Scripture verses. Basically, if it's too long to go on an index card and gets put in the memory binder, it's "Memory Work." If it's on an index card, it's "Memory Verses." We practice and review them both about four days a week.

    For all our memory verses and parables, I use the NRSV. If it's a psalm and in our memory binder, I usually use the KJV.

    First Son's Third Grade Memory Verse List
    • Matt 5:43-45
    • Matt 19:26
    • Phil 4:19
    • Matt 7:7
    • Matt 5:42
    • Romans 15:13
    • Psalm 27:4
    First Daughter's Kindergarten Memory Verse List
    • Matt 18:20
    • John 3:16
    • Psalm 45:10
    First Daughter was not very interested in memory work after the first few weeks of school. As I recall, she had already memorized a handful of poems and I just stopped the memory work until first grade. You can see First Son's kindergarten memory work on this page.

    Friday, December 5, 2014

    Book Review: Close to the Wind (supplement to Mater Amabilis Level 1A Weather)

    Close to the Wind: The Beaufort Scale by Peter Malone

    Earlier this week, our assignment for second grade Weather centered on the Beaufort Scale. (We're following the Mater Amabilis Level 1A schedule of lessons.) I happened to know about Peter Malone's book and was delighted to have a way to incorporate it into our studies. I read it aloud to second daughter, talking about wind and waves and ocean travels in the early 1800s.

    This book conveys a lot of information about Beaufort, the scale he designed, and life at sea during his time. Along the way there are many interesting tidbits of information. The illustrations are excellent, including one at the end showing all the masts and sails with descriptions and names for each of them.

    At the end of the book (a certain sign of a good one), Second Daughter wanted to learn more. She wanted to see the wind and waves in action. So of course I did what any American homeschooling mom with a bit of time to spare would do and we pulled up YouTube. This video is an excellent representation of the progression of the scale. Second Daughter, however, preferred this one. It's a little more entertaining but still informative.

    The real treasure for me, though, is this recording of Sir Ian McKellan reciting the scale. (It would be even better without the laughter.) Can't you just imagine someone daring him to read something mundane and make it dramatic?

    Back to the book...It's an excellent addition to any study of weather and recommended for a wide variety of ages.

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    November 2014 Book Reports

    Draw-a-Saurus by James Silvani - read my review here (review copy from Blogging for Books)

    Another Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup is the second in a series of middle grade fiction. It is just as silly as the first with the addition of actual time traveling. I think First Son is going to enjoy these tremendously. I'm pretty sure they'd be fine for him to read, but I'll probably pre-read the third one. These would be summer reading. (library copy)

    A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller is a book I found at a library book sale just after reading about it at Afterthoughts. Written by a man who was an actual shepherd in the Middle East, it provides tremendous insight into the twenty-third psalm (and other sheep and shepherd analogies in the Old Testament). I found this book particularly interesting given the prominent place of the Good Shepherd in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (which I teach at our parish), but the best parts of the book were those in which he explained how shepherds and sheep interact rather than his explanation of how the metaphor works in modern life. Those parts weren't terrible, just not as interesting. (purchased copy)

    The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow is a brief book of advice and memories as dictated by Dr. Pausch to a reporter after the overwhelming response to his last lecture (which I have not actually watched), a farewell speech he prepared after learning he was dying of pancreatic cancer. It contains much of the special memories he wanted to share with his very young children. It was sweet and sad, but I think it's nice now and then to step back from the business of our lives and make sure we're concentrating on what's most important. This book is a nice way to focus on that for a while. (library copy)

    The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt was one of the books listed in The Reading Promise. I found the title intriguing so checked it out right away from the library. I loved it because Gaylen, a young boy sent to poll the citizens about the food they find most delicious finds himself in the middle of intrigue to overthrow the king and then must decide whether to act. Should he intervene? Does he act for what is right? In the end, we don't even know if his actions made a difference, which is most marvelous of all. Sometimes doing what is right takes great courage and the act itself is what is most important, not the results. I think First Daughter (an excellent reader in second grade) could read this herself, but it's a perfect family story, so I've added it to our read-aloud list. (library copy)

    The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare is a book I never read when I was younger about young boy left in the wilderness of Maine for a summer while his father journeys back to retrieve his mother and sister. After a series of mishaps, he is rescued by a Native American elder who arranges for him to teach his grandson, Attean, how to read and write. I'm not sure how authentic a story it is, historically, but it is a fine tale of friendship between two boys who initially view each other as enemies. I think this will be an option for First Son's summer reading. (library copy)

    The Light at Tern Rock by Julia Sauer is a quiet tale of a young boy who is disappointed to find himself stuck at a lighthouse for Christmas. I like how the focus is not on how the lighthouse keeper misled them, or what his punishment will be, but on how our reactions to circumstances make our own lives better (or worse). It's quite short, only four chapters, so it's an easy one to add to our read-alouds for Advent. It was recommended by a member of the Read Aloud Revival Community facebook group. (library copy)

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson is the story of six unwanted unruly kids who bully their way into a Christmas pageant and begin to discover the glory of Jesus' birth, teaching some of the townspeople a bit as well. I plan to read this book to the children this year during Advent. They will think it is hilarious. I would caution there is a lot of misbehavior in the book. I always worry such descriptions will give my children ideas, but there's not much in here they would do that they don't already do (like lighting things on fire or smoking cigars). (library copy)

    The Caine Mutiny: A Novel by Herman Wouk - read my review here. (library copy)

    Books in Progress (and date started)

    Links to Amazon are affiliate links. Other links are not affiliate links.

    Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    Our Homeschool: Poetry in 2013-2014

    I've been thinking about poetry recently, as we continue to enjoy our weekly poetry readings so very much and realized I never posted our poetry for last year (fourth grade, first grade, prekindergarten, and trouble-maker). We read poetry once a week and that's all. We just read it and look at any illustrations there might be. Sometimes the kids enjoy a poem and sometimes they don't. That's fine. I try to choose poems and collections I think they might enjoy or appreciate and always with illustrations. During Advent and Christmas, we read seasonal poetry, but that's another post. (We also memorize poetry, but that happens during our memory work time. You can read more about it in this post.)

    The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning. A few lines of this poem are in one of the Writing with Ease books and fascinated my children (Level 3, maybe?) so I searched through all the options at the library to find the one with the illustrations I liked best and selected this one with illustrations by Kate Greenway. I'm always pleased when I can share a famous poem or poet with the children in a stand-alone book rather than a poetry collection.

    Shakespeare's Seasons ed by Miriam Weiner and illustrated by Sharon Whitt is a delighful collection of snippets of Shakespeare wonderfully illustrated. I chose this to entice my children with some lovely Shakespearean lines as we were just beginning our study of Shakespeare. I think they liked the illustrations more than the poetry, but I intend to request it again after they've come to know the Bard a bit better.

    Something Rich and Strange A Treasury of Shakespeare's Verse compiled by Gina Pollinger is one of my favorite collections of Shakespeare for children (in my admittedly limited experience). I still request it every few months. This is a full book, so we went through about ten pages a week for a few months. Even going slowly, I did not read every page but chose a few as we went along.


    This Big Sky by Pat Mora with illustrations by Steve Jenkins is a book of poetry of the American southwest. We enjoyed it and I think it would be a fantastic selection for anyone who lives in the southwest or wants to share it with their children. I personally love the illustrations by Jenkins, too. Perhaps someone would like to write a small book of Kansas poems for him to illustrate?


    Animal Poems by Valerie Worth also illustrated by Steve Jenkins delighted the children. They loved the poems and the illustrations. With that porcupine on the cover, how can you resist?

    A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children selected by Caroline Kennedy, illustrated by Jon J. Muth. I love everything about this book. I love the selection of poems and the illustrations. We didn't finish this book before the end of the school year, so we read more from it in 2014-2015.

    The links above are affiliate links at Amazon and I receive a small commission if you make a purchase. I received nothing in exchange for this review. We checked out copies of all of these books at our library.

    Tuesday, December 2, 2014

    An Invitation to Relationship

    Apparently, it's Giving Tuesday. We don't participate much in Black Friday (if I can only afford it by going out at 3 in the morning and battling hundreds of other people for deals, I'd rather live without it) or Cyber Monday (who needs a special day to shop online?), I thought I'd take a minute on Giving Tuesday to remind you about my favorite charity.

    Unbound provides a connection to another person, a child or an elder. It's an invitation to participate in another person's life and to develop a relationship with someone who has much to teach about another culture, hope, faith, and life.

    It's not a small gift once a year or even a large gift once a year (though you can do that, too). It's a commitment to improving the life of a person and a community. Don't make Giving Tuesday a once-a-year afterthought to the Christmas shopping frenzy. Take a few minutes today or in the next few days to prayerfully consider your budget for 2015 and whether there might be $30 a month to change a life.

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    Book Review: The Caine Mutiny

    The Caine Mutiny: A Novel by Herman Wouk

    I almost didn't read this book. I am so glad I did!

    The novel follows the military career of Willie Keith, who joins the Navy during World War II in order to avoid the Army. As time goes on, he grows as a seaman and as a man, recognizing his growth as he goes and yet seemingly blind to the growth that will continue. The first half of the book covers the time onboard the Caine under Captain Queeg. The second half describes the trial for the mutiny and the end of the war.

    I find it difficult to explain more of the plot because I don't want to give away the most powerful moments. More than anything, I think the book is about authority. It's also about how the people around us influence us, how we can find courage within ourselves, and how we come to recognize the good and bad characteristics of all people, including those we believe we knew.

    Every teenage boy should read this book (and just about everybody else, too). There's a lot of swearing (despite a note at the beginning that the "general obscenity and blasphemy of shipboard talk have gone almost wholly unrecorded") and an instance of premarital intimacy (which is not described graphically), but I think most teenagers are eager to read and talk about the questions surrounding authority and peer influence that fill the pages of this book. I look forward to reading it with First Son in a few years (not aloud, though; I could never read all those swear words).

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    Don't Despair that Advent is Near!

    Advent begins tomorrow and the blogs are all abuzz with the books they're going to read and the fun they're going to have. I posted our Advent chain earlier this year and updated it today to fix the day it cut off Mary's name. It's purposely simple and written with the family of young children in mind. Or you could just light a candle at dinner during Advent. Little ones adore candles and you probably have a few hidden away in drawers or cupboards. Light them! (Actually, First Son was terrified of candles, so he was five or six before we dared to light any in his presence, but I think he's the exception.)

    We'll be reading a picture-book-a-day again, like many others. I love this tradition and spent a few hours yesterday selecting our books. This is what happens when you've spent four years collecting Christmas and Advent books. I had to struggle not to find books for each day but to choose only a few! I used to have more than one on some days and to fill the days between Christmas and Epiphany, but have learned that less is better. It's easier for Mama and the children are just as pleased. (The idea is to be joyfully anticipating the birth, not running frantic and yelling at the kids to be quiet while you read another book.) So we'll read one a day, have plenty of funny-and-not-too-serious books, and finish on Christmas Eve.

    With that caveat, I wanted to remind you of the lists of picture books we're read in the past.

    Here's a link to the Twelve Christmas Books I'd Take Into the Wilderness.

    This post of the new and noteworthy books of 2012 has links to all the others.

    I didn't post about our 2013 Advent books because...well, I don't know why. I've started a post combining them with our 2014 books that'll show up sometime. In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of one of my favorites from 2012.

    I'm not sure about your library, but I've noticed the big library near us still has many of these books available. There's enough time to choose a handful of books from the library and snuggle on the sofa by the Christmas tree. That's all you need.

    May you have a blessed Advent!

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    Second Daughter's Camera Skills

    Second Daughter loves to make movies with her camera. They range from a few seconds of spinning to five minutes of wandering the house and describing every room and person. Here is one she filmed in October that shows pretty much what life is like here on the Range.


    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    Birthday Post: First Daughter Is Eight!

    A few months ago, First Daughter turned eight. We called her Baby Girl for years, but she's no baby anymore. She's a smart, sassy girl.

    She has her head in a book more often than not. She especially loves the Little House books. She has read and re-read my old copies so many times they are nearly disintegrating. She also reads The Boxcar Children books to Second Daughter in bed after lights-out. We pretend we don't notice for the time it takes to read a chapter.


    It's quite nice, really, how much she reads. There are lots of books I read aloud to First Son in second grade that she reads independently. More time for Mama to kick back with a cup of tea...or something.

    She loves school. She loves to work independently and she loves to surprise me by reading more than her assigned chapter or two in her independent reading book. She was a little upset when we started a new math curriculum this year, not because she didn't like it more than the old one, but because she could no longer say she was a year ahead in math. She started in the first book just like Second Daughter. Now she's in the fifth book (and Second Daughter is barely starting the second) and she loves it. Her favorite books so far have been for the People and Places studies: The Children of Noisy Village and Red Sails to Capri. She is also thrilled with her piano lessons, though sometimes I think she's more excited about moving through the book than actually learning to play the piano.

    First Daughter loves to bake and cook. She can heat up tomato soup for lunch. She also makes baked blueberry oatmeal, crusty bread, bread in the bread machine, just about any kind of muffin, and lots of cookies. She wanted peanut butter cookies recently and did all of the shaping and pressing. Recently, she has been a great help in the kitchen for me. When I baked, scraped, and pureed eight pumpkins, she scraped at least a third of them. I'm not sure my poor hands could have finished without her.


    Of course, Kansas Dad made the traditional pancake-bigger-than-her-head on her birthday for breakfast. We ate her birthday dinner on the china plates which she absolutely loved. She asks to get them out pretty regularly now when she thinks we're having a special occasion, but I'm not quite brave enough to make it a regular occurrence.


    She loves her long hair and refuses to wear it in a ponytail. So it's quite tangled on a regular basis. She would probably let me French braid it every day if I had the patience to learn how to do that sort of thing. I let her practice braiding my hair every so often.

    Her favorite kind of play involves stories. She loves Playmobil and baby dolls with Second Daughter and Ninjago or Star Wars or Chima with First Son. As long as there's a lot of talking and running around, she's happy. She and Second Daughter will set up an elaborate world of Playmobil houses nestled around the tracks of the train.

    She loves when toddlers come to our house. She follows them around to make sure they are properly entertained and protected.


    Of course she had a Frozen themed birthday party. I made an angel food cake (it's white!) and cake pops. She really wanted cake pops and I really wanted them frosted white to look like snowballs. They were a mixed success, but First Daughter was oblivious. She thought they were perfect. She decorated the windows with paper icicles and prepared multiple games like pin the nose on Olaf and Frozen freeze tag in which one girl was Elsa and froze everyone while another was Anna and unfroze them.

    For her birthday, Grammy and Paw Paw bought her an American Girl doll. She is very careful with Bernadette and dresses her most mornings for the day and then for bed in the evenings.

    For her baptismal anniversary, she wanted something French, in honor of St. Therese, her favorite saint and because her baptismal anniversary is also St. Therese's feast day. We discussed different French options but Kansas Dad decided in the end to make crepes (served on the china plates, of course). These were a huge success with the children in no small part due to the Nutella, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, salted caramel sauce, and whipped cream Kansas Dad presented to accompany them. (Second Son talked about them for weeks and has already asked for them for his "uptisal" anniversary.)


    You're allowed whipped cream sprayed directly into your mouth on your baptismal anniversary.


    First Daughter still loves soccer. Kansas Dad had a big plan to switch to taekwondo and not sign up for soccer this fall, but when I talked with her about it, she cried. Small little tears as she said she wanted to play soccer but she didn't want First Son to not be able to do taekwondo because she preferred soccer. So of course we dropped everything we were doing and rushed into town to sign her up at the last opportunity.

    She loves being out and about, with other kids or complete strangers. She can talk to anyone. We have to be careful what we say around her, though, because she likes to repeat what she hears adults saying. I think she thinks it makes her seem more grown up. (Silly girl! We don't want you to grow up!)


    For Halloween, she was Zita the Spacegirl, ready to jump to the defense of every creature weaker than herself. She's the child most likely to help clean or to take on an extra chore. She's always the first child to volunteer to have the smallest piece or to forgo a food if there's only enough for three. It's tremendously sweet but I try to keep First Son from taking too much advantage of her.

    Kansas Dad pointed out recently that she's really like a first child in her personality, and I think he's right. Either because First Son is a boy or because there's nearly three years between them, or just because she's got the helpful gene.

    She's preparing for her First Reconciliation now and will soon be in the midst of First Communion preparation. She loves knowing all the answers and I hope she's learning a bit of the love of God, too.

    May God bless you, Baby Girl!