Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Family Work: Our Scripture Reading, Memorization, and Hymn Study Resources

This photo is just snippet of one of the bookcases in our family room.  As indicated in this post, our Montessori homeschool is following more of a Charlotte Mason structure this year.  Our work period now consists of three distinct blocks of time:  family work, guided work, and individual work.  We start our morning with our family work which some call morning time.  After our Family work is completed the boys eat a quick snack.  Then, one child starts independent work while the other child starts guided work with me.  Then, we switch. Kal-El gets mom first on even days, Me Too on odd.  Most of this work consists of things that have been on their work plans in the past.  I just restructured things this year so that all the things we can do together are lumped at the start of our day.  I also separated the things they needed to do separately from each other but with mom or things I wanted to keep an eye on from things they could do completely alone.  

In January I talked about how we added purposeful time with scripture to the beginning of our day.  Today I wanted to share some of the resources we've been using during that time (affiliate links are included with most for your convenience).  

This segment of our morning time/family work includes scripture memory, reading from the Bible, hymn study, and prayer.

We start with scripture memory.  We are by no means keeping up with the Awana kids, but I did want a more organized approach to our memory work than we had in the past.  I decided I wanted to start with perhaps the 100 most-beloved Bible verses.  To keep it simple, I went with a a list of "The 100 Most -Read Bible Verses at"

We are learning them in order.  Everyday the boys take turns reciting the one's that we have mastered.  The verses on the page I linked are NIV.  We read daily from an NIV Bible but prefer to memorize Old King James because the rhythm makes them easier to memorize.  So, I copied the verses by hand on to index cards using the King James and numbered each card at the bottom. I keep them in the pink index card box on the bookcase in the picture at the top of this post.   Kal-El recites the odd cards on odd days; Me Too recites the odd cards on even days.  Kal-El checks Me Too's work and vice-versa.   Right now we only know about 13 of these and it only takes a few minutes.  We'll have to see what happens as the list gets longer.

Next, we read a chapter of the Bible from this NIV, Life Application Study Bible.  My husband likes his Bible to have as few "extras" as possible. They boys and I on the other hand love all the footnotes.  When Me Too picked his own NIrV Bible, he was adamant that it have "footnotes"  and a soft "leather" cover like mom's (Kal-El's hardcover keeps separating from the spine).  He picked the Kids' Quest Study Bible.  At any rate,  when I am reading to the kids it is really nice to be able to glance down at a footnote when Jesus does something confusing like command a fig tree to wither and die and explain what just happened.  I feel like our family Bible has never failed to have a footnote when I've needed one.  

We are not reading the Bible in any particular order right now.  We read a chapter a day most days and we read a full book before moving on to another one.  They boys have been picking which book to read next usually based on something they are interested in.  They chose Matthew about a month ago and we've decided to continue in the Gospels leading up to Easter.  However, they are adamant that we read Judges after that.  This is the boys' favorite part of the day.  They always say "more please" when I stop reading.  I love that they demonstrate an attitude that seems to say "this is the most important book in the world and the things in it are the most important things we will learn."  I'm not even sure how that happened.  

Next we study a hymn.  One I thing I do is own a copy of the two hymnals our church regularly uses.  I take mine to church even though they have them in the pews and I put a check mark next to the hymns every time they sing them.  That way I can remember which hymns are popular at our church and can make sure they know them for when they start attending the adult service rather than children's church (seventh grade).  Our church uses Majesty Hymns and Hymns Modern and Ancient.  I used our family address stamp to mark the inside of the front cover in case I leave them on accident.  I also noticed our church only owned Majesty Hymns in red so I bought a blue one.

We have been singing straight out of the hymnals.  However I recently discovered a resource for hymn study that I really love.  I bought all four volumes of Hymn's for a Kid's Heart.  I love that the title reminds me of another favorite resource of mine, Honey for a Child's Heart (literature recommendations complied by a Christian.).  But I really love is that each hymn is introduced with a story, often a story about a child.  For example, in volume one they introduce Holy, Holy, Holy with a story called "The Boy Who Thanked God" about the composer of the hymn as a child.  There is often a separate devotional story in addition.  There are beautiful illustrations.  They provide several Bible versus that relate to the hymn and a prayer that relates to the message of the story.  They also provide the complete four-part sheet music (so your child can learn to follow a regular hymnal) and all of the verses.  Each book also comes with a CD that has children (children's choir and soloists) singing the hymns with full orchestral accompaniment.  The boys feel they are "very grand" arrangements.  They like grand arrangements.  

As part of preparing our hearts for Easter, we chose to begin working in Volume Four today,   Passion.  Coincidentally we had just read about Palm Sunday in the book of Mark and the story was about the role of children on the original Palm Sunday and the special power a child praising God has to silence Satan.  We sang "All Glory, Laud and Honor."

Separate from the check marks I make in my hymnals at church, I had been compiling a list I call "hymns I think my kids should know no matter what."  I can happily report that nearly every hymn that was on my list to date is included in these books already.

We sing the same hymn for as many days as it takes until they seem to know it comfortably but not necessarily have the lyrics memorized.  I like that these books have so many different elements so I can split them up and do a different element each day for a while.  So that we don't forget what we've learned, whenever repeating the newest hymn yet again seems a little stale I let the boys pick one of the hymns we've already learned instead (Kal-El on odd days, Me Too on even days.  Are you sensing a trend here?).

Finally, we close with a prayer.  It could be the one in the hymn book, or a spontaneous prayer said by one of us.  However, if you are looking for an unusual resource for some thought-provoking prayers I can suggest "Prayers at 8:30" by Stan Schmidt, the author of the Life of Fred math series.  It has 104 unusual prayers each with an illustration.  You can read more about it through the link and on that page there is a link that provides sample pages.

EDITED TO ADD:  Thanks to my current blog crush, Farmhouse Schoolhouse (be sure to check her out on Instagram as well), I was recently made aware of two new resources:  Rich and Rooted Passover, and Slow and Sacred Advent.  These two e-books by Jennifer Naraki look like a great way to guide some of your scripture time during these seasons.  You can view a sample page of Rich and Rooted Passover here. 


  1. You are an amazing teacher! Those boys are so blessed to have you:)

  2. Wow! This is the way to do it. We do so much better when we prioritize our time with God. We have four little girls and while I love homeschooling, I am truly struggling with organization and prioritizing. I love all that you're doing and look forward to getting to this point in our daily lessons--discipline, desire, delight... I visited your site a few years ago and was so inspired. We've been mainly working from our Christian Light curriculum books and have not done much with Montessori. I'm building our grammar farm and became reacquainted with your site while looking for inspiration. May God bless you and your little ones. Thank you for all that your share. Inspired by your mom's pumpkins, the girls and I just painted wooden beads to make pumpkins; I have a 20 mth old and even she "helped".

  3. Love your work. And your way to organize everything... I would love if God will give me a baby... I am fighting breast cancer.

  4. I love this! Its such an amazing luxury to be able to integrate faith into the curriculum. You have some great ideas about the structure of the events for the day. I haven't read too much about incorporating Montessori methods into homeschooling, so this definitely opens up new areas of thought for me. Thank you!