Friday, January 4, 2013

Devotions and a Little Work

The boys and I enjoyed our Truth in the Tinsel time during the month of December so much that we decided to continue reading daily devotions after the program completed.  Truth be told, we may have never decided to do daily devotions if not for Truth in the Tinsel.  Because it had a definitive start and end date and the story elements motivate you to keep at it every day so that you don't miss part of the story (there is an alternative time line if you know you can't commit to it daily) it was a great way to develop a daily habit.  They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit (this is disputed, but we'll go with it) and Truth in the Tinsel provided 24 days of devotions.  

The format of Truth in the Tinsel, a brief reading straight from the Bible followed by a hands-on activity and a casual paragraph from Mom while we work, was perfect for us.  I wanted something similar to bring us into the new year. If you have recommendations for devotions like that PLEASE put them in the comments section of this post.  You may help out another family and I will certainly need something new next year.  I stumbled across God's Mighty Warrior Devotional  by Sheila Walsh while researching online.  She hooked me with the hands-on activities and the following sentences:

God created little boys to be mighty warriors...even when they feel small.  Boys are full of energy and imagination.  They are (in their minds) the protectors of the fair (their moms and sisters)...guardians of the wild forest (their backyards)...tames of savage beasts (their pet dog or cat)!  Little boys long to be brave and be Mighty Warriors.

There is another book by the same author for girls titled God's Little Princess Devotional.  Both say "Bible" on the cover, but they are devotional books NOT Bibles.  You can look at quite a bit of the interior of these books on Google Books if you want to take a good look.  

Both books contain the entire Bible reading for each devotional right in the book.  The translation is from the International Children's Bible.  We are choosing to read the Bible passages from a different Bible because Kal-El is learning Bible navigation.  After a LOT of research and some time hands-on in a Christian book store I chose the NIrV Discoverer's Bible for Early Readers to be our family Bible for a few years.

The translation is NIrV which is supposedly written at a third-grade reading level (perfect for Kal-El).  the winning feature was that it is a LARGE PRINT Bible.  Our first runner-up, the Adventure Bible for Early Readers (also NIrV) lost out despite a cool lenticular cover because the print is just so small.  I am still finding that print size makes a huge difference in Kal-El's reading ability at his age (barely 7).    Both Bibles are complete and broken up into books like an adult Bible which was what I was looking for at this stage.  Kal-El has already been through a beginners Bible and an early reader Bible that were just collections of stories.  It was time for a complete Bible.  The only drawback to either of those Bibles thus far is that when we memorize Bible verses we generally memorize the King James version.  I would have liked the verses to be the SAME when the boys find them in the Bible.  I know that Awana uses the New King James Version for the Bible verses in their program.  The boys are not in Awana right now, but we are memorizing the verses in the same translation anyway in case they join later on.    I have heard that the New King James translation is estimated to be at an eight-grade reading level and we were not ready for that around here.  I don't mind reading TO the boys from a NKJ or KJ Bible and I know a lot of my readers have had great success with their kids' vocabulary and education using just a KJ Bible.  However, I found that I personally prefer Kal-El to be at reading level when he reads the Bible alone.

Anyway, back to the devotions.  Like Truth in the Tinsel there is a reading from the Bible, followed by a short discussion with Mom or Dad, and often followed by a hands-on activity.  You won't be making a "craft" every day like Truth in the Tinsel.  Sometimes it is acting out a story, sometimes it is throwing rocks (like Goliath) at a tower of aluminum cans, sometimes it is even a craft.  The only drawback from my standpoint is that there isn't an activity for EVERY story.  I'll have to be creative and come up with a few to fill things in.

Yesterday we read from the book of Genesis about how God assigned man to be caretaker of the animals.  The activity was to make a pinecone bird feeder and take care of the birds in your own backyard.

Kal-El slathering his pinecone with peanut butter.

Me Too bundled up to hang his birdfeeder outdoors. It's COLD!

I read the devotions right during breakfast and we do the activity immediately afterward.  When we started Truth in the Tinsel I would be the one to find our place in the Bible.  I recited the books of the Bible from the appropriate testament as I searched. As a result Kal-El and Me Too have memorized the first 16 books of the New Testament already without me even asking them to.  After about a week Kal-El asked to take over finding our spot.  I am taking the same approach now that we are doing some reading in the Old Testament.

After we finish our devotions it is time to visit the school room.  Yesterday Me Too assembled a doggy audience for his addition charts.

He makes them ask him questions in little doggy voices and the dogs take turns choosing the next equation.  It is the opposite of a distraction, he finished his work three times faster than usual and was a lot happier (He doesn't like the strips, he would rather use his fingers...and I let him.  He only uses the strips when he runs out of fingers.  I anticipate he will like the finger boards a lot better.).

Me Too took this picture of Kal-El working with the stamp game. Me Too loves to take pictures. He is always asking for a camera because he's "found a great shot."  We haven't had it out for a while and Kal-El is reviewing exchange procedures for all four operations before I introduce the bead frame or dot game (Which one is first in AMI?  They are in different "groups" and I'm having trouble figuring out the coordination across the groups.  I "think" the dot game is first.  I know it is in AMS.).  He is great at addition and multiplication and forgets how to exchange for subtraction and division at first.  I don't want to move on until he remembers right from the beginning of a session.  Otherwise we will get ourselves in trouble.

Here are a couple more photos Me Too took yesterday.

He always finds the fraction skittles photo-worthy.  He takes a lot of photos of these.

He took a lot of photos of the insides of different manipulatives drawers.  This was his best one.


  1. My son loves photos too - but I think your son has more natural talent ;) Unintentionally my son from age 3-6 got a lot of my, umm, hip area... (read between the lines on that one...) - and awful angles of my face. Objects: we have a lot of photos that would work great in those books that show on one page some focused part of some object and you guess what it is - turn the page and see the full object... Yeah. We could write our own book ;)

    For math - it depends on your child ;) In the scope and sequence I put together of my primary math album, I have the dot game "first" at an earliest introduction of 5-5.5 and the small bead frame later as 5.5-6. While at that point, I'm not a stickler on the ages, I do think the carrying over and the writing of the dot game lay a strong foundation for the abstract work of the bead frame.

    Now devotionals, maybe I'm just picky because of CGS, but I've not found one that I can unreservedly recommend yet. Most have nice components that we've used over the years, so we pick and choose and adjust and adapt ;) (don't we all?) I guess I won't worry just too much - Legoboy has taken off with two of my Bibles (he's been hiding them in various locations of our home so he always has one handy) and he's been reading through the entire book of Revelation in detail. But I like to have something put together for our prayer time, and it's not easy to find something that is meaty enough, doesn't dumb down the Bible, but is still accessible.

  2. Meant to emphasize - those really some GREAT photos! :)

  3. LOL! Thanks Jessica :) F.Y.I. EVERY group of pictures he takes includes a very close-up photo of my very large rear end. You'll have to forgive me for not including one of those.

    I'm his Mom, but I think he has a good idea for content. We have taught him zero technique...he's just pointing and shooting so most of his images tend to be too dark or burned out by the flash. I think his own camera might be in order so I'm willing to let him push the buttons. Anyway, I like his ideas. There is another one I should post that he took when he saw all four cousins' magic hats sitting in a row on the hearth. He said, "Mom! I need the camera. That would make a good picture."

    When Kal-El takes a group of pictures there is always one looking down into the toilet. Nice.

    I know what you mean about CGS. Our local Godly Play program is so poorly implemented it wasn't worth going to that particular church just to use it. I don't have the energy to implement it at home...I just need the Bible plus an activity. That's probably why I'm drawn to the devotion books that have only a few sentences from the parent.

  4. I love how Me Too is taking pictues! He sounds a lot like Bunny. She seems to be able to get really good shots without knowing anything about taking a good picture (if truth be told neither do I). I love his close ups! Bunny got a camera for Christmas and I thought about letting her start a (private) blog to load her picture to so she can type her own descriptions.
    I have thought alot about doing devotions lately here too. I think that we are going to do something a little simpler since I couldnt seem to keep up with Truth in the Tinsel. I think we are going to read the daily mass reading and do a simple reflection together followed by the silence game. It follows the CGS pattern a bit more, so it will go well with what we are already doing! I also plan to do some feast day celebrations following the Catholic Church year! I love what you guys are doing too and I hope it works really well! Happy Schooling!

  5. We have Sheila Walsh's girls book. Mustang loves to put on the little plays. I didn't realize there was a boy's one. I'll have to pick it up for Charger.

    My current favorite is The Jesus Storybook Bible. Very well written.

    Also, not a Bible, but my children have enjoyed watching the Wild Brother DVD's. Their family are missionaries in Papua Indonesia and they are just plain cool.

  6. Also, I wondered if you might be willing to share a typical school day 'schedule' at your house?

    How do you begin your time in the school room? Do you have a set time they need to work? How do you encourage continued work if they are not interested? Do you require certain things (chores, dressed, eat breakfast) before they can 'come to school?' I have about a million questions, but those are the main ones.

    Thanks in advance with any info you can share!

  7. Lisa,

    Thank you for the reminder about Wild Brothers. I think I have them pinned, but haven't looked at that board in a while. Our church has a very active missions program and the boys have met some of the missionaries' children. One of Kal-El's fav songs is "be a missionary everyday." This might be good timing.

    Your comment gave me the prod in the rear I needed to type up a frequently asked questions post that is long overdue. I'll get the FAQ page up on Monday and you'll find your question answered there!

  8. Thank you for sharing your research with us! It saved me a lot of time:)