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Read Aloud Thursday–Easter, Take Two

I was all set to leave Easter behind after last week’s Read Aloud Thursday post, but I just couldn’t end the week without sharing one more Easter book.  This one is actually one I mentioned in last year’s Easter post, but last year the girls were just a little too young for it.  This year, though, it has been perfect for us!
Benjamin’s Box:  The Story of the Resurrection Eggs has replaced our usual Bible story this week, and the girls have loved it!  Benjamin’s Box is the fictional story of a little boy named Benjamin who lived in Palestine when Jesus was on earth.  His grandfather gave him a treasure box in which to keep valuable objects, and Benjamin becomes an observer of Jesus’ Passion and a collector of artifacts that help us remember the significant events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection.  It just so happens that most of the objects Benjamin places within his box are the same as the items inside Resurrection Eggs, so it works out nicely.  🙂  The story is episodic, so it’s perfect for shorter attention spans and/or pairing each episode with an activity.  I’ve been hiding the appropriate eggs in our living room or den, reading the excerpt from Benjamin’s Box, reading the corresponding Bible passage (which is noted in the story), and then letting the girls find and open the eggs.  After the first day, I’ve also hidden the eggs we’ve already opened so that we can review the events we’ve already read about and discussed.  This has been a perfect read-aloud for us this week.  They love taking the objects out of the eggs, and they can retell accurately what happened to Jesus in the last week of His earthly life.  Of course, we’ve read a few other Easter books, as well.  This one is the best one by far, though.  I want my children to really grasp the Easter story, and I think this almost makes it as tangible as it can be for them.  Yesterday’s focus on the physical suffering of Jesus put our week’s memory verse into perspective for all of us.  We’re memorizing John 15:13 as a part of our church’s Bible quiz ministry, which Lulu will officially be a part of next year. 

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

The reality of the crown of thorns, the scourging, etc., really seemed to strike the girls (Lulu especially).  Benjamin’s Box is not graphic in terms of illustrations or words, but it leaves plenty of room for parental explanation.  Plus, the pairing the book with the eggs makes it a lot of fun!

Benjamin’s Box  and the Resurrection Eggs have been a big hit at the House of Hope this week!

Has your family been enjoying anything special for Easter this week?  Or have you discovered a new picture book that you’ve all fallen in love with?  Please share it with us by linking your blog post below, or you may simply leave a comment.

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Next week’s Read Aloud Thursday will be at my new blog address!  Please update your links!  🙂

Have a beautiful Read Aloud Thursday and a blessed Easter!


Children’s Bible Hour::Seasons of Faith

As a member of TOS HomeschoolCrew, I have been blessed with the opportunity to review a great resource from Children’s Bible Hour Ministries.  The Seasons of Faith illustrated book series is a series of books based on Children’s Bible Hour radio scripts.  According to the CBH website, “[T]hese stories teach core truths of the Bible so that kids can easily apply them to their lives. Each book focuses on a season of faith-developing topics.”  The books are paperback and include a “read along CD” narrated by “Uncle” Charlie.  (Regular readers here know how much we love audiobooks here at the House of Hope, so these were very welcome!)  The stories illustrate Biblical principles and are kid-friendly.  So far, my girls and I have listened to Braving the Storm, which is the story of a young boy whose family has been dealt a series of difficult blows.  His grandfather helps him come to understand how such difficult times are the times to grow down deep roots in Christ.  I have also listened to Seventy Times Seven, which is the story of a boy who learns what it means to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.  Both stories are very practical and realistic in that they are about events that could really happen (and often do) in the lives of children.  Each story ends with the plan of salvation that is presented similarly to the way it is presented on the website.  These stories are very evangelistic or discipleship-oriented.  While I would not categorize these as fine literature, they do remind me of something I would’ve watched or listened to as a child in children’s church or youth camp.  I am more than happy to add them to our audiobook collection.  At $10 per title, these book-and-CD sets are comparable in price to any other that you would purchase. 

Be sure to visit the CBH website for a host of resources, including a video of the making of the Seasons of Faith series!

Visit the TOS Homeswchool Crew blog to read more reviews of this product.

This product was sent to me free of charge for review purposes.

The Human Body Resources

Self-portraits, with body systems illustrated

 My girls and I embarked upon a study of the human body several weeks (months?) ago now, and it has by far been their favorite thing we’ve done this year.  I was feeling a little guilty about not having done a whole lot of science with them this year (and their daddy a science teacher, no less!  😉  ), so one day I did a little searching over at The Well Trained Mind forums, and I hit upon the idea of a human body study.  Some of these books were recommended there; others of them were serendipitous library finds.  In addition to using these general books, we also read nonfiction series titles from the different libraries in our area.  These, however, are definitely the winners.  

This Janice VanCleave book has sold me on her approach and her various series of books!  Janice VanCleave’s Play and Find Out about the Human Body:  Easy Experiments for Young Children has been my guidebook throughout this unit.  So far we have done several of the experiments contained in the book, and we’ve managed to have a fairly thorough discussion of skin, the heart, and the skeletal system.  The experiments require fairly basic equipment, and they’re not very complicated to put together.  After all, they are for preschoolers!  🙂  I purchased this one used through Amazon, so I’m not sure if it’s still in print.  If you ever see a copy, snatch it up!  I give it a Highly Recommended! (The pictures below are all of our experiments based on this book.  Steady Eddie even got in on the action!) 


 First Human Body Encyclopedia from the DK First Reference Series is our “spine”; that is, it is the book we use for all of our basic information.  To be honest, before I used this book with my girls, I never understood what was so great about the DK books.  The huge pictures and the blurbs of information always seemed so disjointed to me.  Now, though, I see the value of a book written in this format.  The little snippets of information and the large, excellent photographs (and some drawings) are perfect for young children.  I would not hesitate to purchase any of the DK First Reference titles, and I would consider any of them money well spent.  I can see my girls using this book for many years.  


Me and My Amazing Body by Joan Sweeney is another book that I consider indispensible as an introduction to the human body.  This nonfiction book is written more as a story, so it draws the little ones in very quickly.  It covers the major body systems, and while it provides very few details, it provides the information in a very preschooler-friendly way.  I am guessing that any of Joan Sweeney’s “Me” books would be a winner, and I’ll definitely be using them for our future studies! 

It's a chicken leg bone! 🙂

Inside Your Outside!:  All About the Human Body by Tish Rabe bears mentioning mainly because it’s written all in rhyme.  It’s from the Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library.  I find these books a little hard to follow (and so I assume that my children probably don’t comprehend them totally, either 😉 ), but the rhymes are fun and so are the illustrations.  It provides a good little educational diversion.  🙂
This last book is one I just spied on the shelf at the library.  It’s entitled Body:  An Interactive and Three-Dimensional Exploration, and that pretty much sums it up.  It’s really more of an upper-elementary or high school book, but I thought my girls would love the pop-ups it contains.  I was right!  These pop-ups are amazing–they’re all truly three-dimensional with moving parts and fold-outs, etc.  On the last page there’s a human body that opens up in layers.  Susan Ring is the author of Body, and Michele Graham did the amazing illustrations.  

Mainly what we’ve done with this unit is a whole lot of reading and looking and a little bit of playing.  I think this is just right for kindergarten.  

I do have to share one funny, though.   I had this exchange with Louise, who takes everything in just as intensely as Lulu: 

Louise:  Is Daddy taller than himself? 

Me:  No, he can’t be taller than himself.  He can be taller than someone else, but not himself. 

Louise:  What about when his root gets squished down? 

It finally dawned on me that she was talking about his spinal column (“root”) and how it compresses during the day.  One of the experiments we started but never finished due to the plague that hit our house was one in which I measured the girls first thing in the morning and then again that night.  Since the night-time measurement never happened, I simply explained to them that the discs between the vertebrae in our backs are compressed (“squished down”) as we stand and walk throughout the day, so we’re shorter at night than in the morning. 

We still have a couple more body systems to go, and I find that I enjoy it more if we take a little break with some FIAR titles, etc., between body systems.  However, the girls are quick to request the human body books and science experiments again, so I’m not off the hook for long.

ETA:  Oh, I forgot to mention one more thing we did during our (ongoing) human body study.  We’re always working on scripture memorization.  We primarily do this during our morning “couch time”.  For this particular study, we worked on memorizing Psalm 139: 13-18.

13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

 17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
       How vast is the sum of them!

 18 Were I to count them,
       they would outnumber the grains of sand.
       When I awake,
       I am still with you.

The girls did very well with this, and it was particularly appropriate since I’m currently a living example of the “secret place” where babies grow and develop.  😉  We’ve memorized several longer passages of scripture, but my problem is systematically reviewing them.  I have had a pretty family Bible memory notebook in the works for months now, but I never make the time to finish it.  Does your family have a particular method for keeping memory passages fresh in your minds?

Sick Days:: Retrospective

Thanks to everyone who responded to my Sick Day post.  I didn’t get around to responding to the comments, but I took them to heart, which is better.  You know, I’m finding out more and more about myself as we travel down this parenting and home educating path, and some of the stuff I’m finding is not so good.  I’m learning mostly, though, that perhaps this home education thing is as much about me as it is my children.  I believe that God uses everything in our lives, if we are His, to mold us into the image of Christ.  Unfortunately, sometimes I’m pretty unpliable.  But He keeps kneading. 

By Wednesday of last week, I thought Lulu was surely better.  Tuesday had turned out to be even “less productive” academically than Monday, but by Tuesday evening she seemed like her usual self–no fever, playing, etc.  On Wednesday I’d had enough of staying cooped up indoors, so I declared that day a “let’s each lunch with daddy” day and plunked both girls in the bathtub first thing.  I even insisted on washing their hair, despite Lulu’s complaints.  (Nothing unsual here, I thought–she never wants her hair washed!)  We proceeed to eat breakfast, and she ate a hearty one:  half of a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and a small glass of orange juice.  We did our morning tidy-up chores (minus the bed-making; I had stripped their beds for washing since sickness had fled our household!) and the girls settled onto the couch for our morning reading time.  They were finally both settled with their own blankets (there was a slight skirmish over this).

Parents of small children know where this is going.

We were in the middle of our Bible story:  a recounting of God giving the law to Moses, sort of an overview of the whys of all the little rules and regulations found in Exodus after the Ten Commandments, when the next thing I knew, Lulu had vomited all over me, her blanket, and our Bible story book.

The next few moments weren’t pretty, folks.  She and I both panic when this happens:  she wants to run everywhere but the bathroom, and I do everything within my power to get her into the bathroom.  She’s upset, I’m upset, it’s not good.  The next couple of hours are a blur:  put her into the bathtub; remake her bed; repeatedly ask Louise not to ask so many questions (yes, I did); take another shower myself and put on whatever I can find to wear since every one of my three outfits that I can currently fit into is dirty; mop the floors; call Steady Eddie numerous times to apprise him of the situation (yes, I did); contemplate how to remove the yucky stuff from the sofa cushions; etc.  Mostly, I felt guilty over how I handled the whole sick situation and how I had pushed her, due to my own selfishness. 

This isn’t about her education, is it?  It’s about mine. 

This is what I’ve learned:  when they’re little and they’re sick, let it go.  Reading to them, being patient with them, and loving them is enough.  As hard as it is, forget the agenda.  Forget the lesson plans.  Forget the human body unit that you’re falling even further behind on.  Forget where you want to be by the end of April.  Just let it go, and let them know that you love them and are taking care of them.

By Thursday, she was over all of the obvious symptoms of her sickness, and we actually completed everything I intended for us to complete, with an extra phonics lesson thrown in for good measure. 

At the risk of sounding more melodramatic than I already have, I just want to say that I’m thankful that God doesn’t give up on me, even when it seems that I am exceedingly slow at learning these parenting lessons.  He keeps kneading.

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Week in Words


Nothing from A Tale of Two Cities this week, ‘though I could.  (Yes, I’m still reading it.  Yes, I’m still enjoying it.  I’m just slow.  I’m savoring it.  😉 )

Instead, I thought I’d pull out some verses from Proverbs this week.  I found them convicting when I read them last week.  I need the reminder.

When words are many, sin is not absent.

but he who holds his tongue is wise.

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of judgment.

–Proverbs 10:19-21 NIV

Did something you read over the past week resonate with you (or convict you)?  Share it over at Breath of Life!

Better Late Than Never

Well, the tree has been packed away for another year, and thanks mostly to Steady Eddie, the house is beginning to look more like a place where people live rather than a giant dumping ground for toys, wrapping paper, and leftover Christmas treats.  However, before Christmas 2009 becomes little more than a faint memory and a few extra pounds on the scales, I wanted to share a few of the handmade items I made this year.  Actually, I’m still in the process of making a few of them, since a few of my far-flung friends and I manage to get together for Christmas whenever, which is actually nice for a person who is often struck by inspiration at the eleventh hour.   

First, the cards.  I actually did make and send these in a timely manner.  😉  However, if you happen to read my blog and normally receieve a Christmas card from me and you did not get one of these, I’m sorry.  My materials (and steam) ran out before I reached the end of my Christmas card list.  All materials are from Stampin’ Up, and the design is not original to me. 

I went to a crop at a friend’s scrapbook store early in December.  (For the uninitiated, a crop is simply a party of sorts in which friends get together and scrapbook.)  This was the first crop I had been to since September, I think, and boy, did I enjoy  myself.  For better or for worse, I also saw something there that caused me to throw all plans to visit Bath and Body Works at the height of the Christmas lotion frenzy out the window and opt for handmade gifts for a few friends and relations.  Now, Steady Eddie would likely argue that this was not less stressful than a run to the mall, but I did enjoy myself in the making of this file folder Christmas organizer.  Never mind the fact that as I told my cousin, the recepient of the gift below, that what she received just might be a one-of-a-kind limited edition.  😉  All ideas and inspiration for this little project come from the site Organized Christmas and this blog, in particular.  Materials are miscellaneous ones I’ve collected over the years. 

I’m actually working on one now for a young friend of mine which won’t be a Christmas planner.  I’m thinking I’ll make it a prayer/memory verse/praise/journaling folder.  A good idea, huh? 

I realize this post is rather anticlimactic, but I’m documenting these projects here for my own good as much as for anyone else’s.  I’m sorry about the size of the photos.  We uninstalled Adobe Photoshop Elements a few months ago, and since then I’ve been attempting to use Picnik.  I like it, but I just haven’t taken the time to figure it out.

This week I’m back in the saddle again, so be watching for some bookish posts!  🙂

Read Aloud Thursday & a Giveaway!

Have you guys given up on me yet?  Life is continuing here just as it usually does, only with the addition of one thing (nausea) and the lack of one thing (motivation).  Seriously, all I get done most days is schooling the girls, fixing their meals, and maybe a teensy bit of housework.  That’s it. 

But I have better things to discuss than my excuses for being a bad blogger.  🙂  Books!  🙂  And a give away!  (We’ll get to that in a bit.)

We’ve been continuing on with our annual tradition of unwrapping a Christmas book (almost) each day, and the girls continue to be excited about it.  That makes it worthwhile and oh-so-much-fun for me!  Some of our books are series titles or I-picked-this-up-at-Wal-Mart-because-it- looked-cute–that sort of thing.  However, some of them are worth mentioning, so I will.  🙂

Santa Mouse by Michael Brown is a simple rhyming tale with lots of appeal.  It’s the story of a lonely little mouse who has an original thought:  that no one gives a gift to Santa Claus!  (Actually, maybe it’s not so original, since Arthur had the same idea in Arthur’s Christmas , our book of the day.)  The little mouse decides to remedy this situation, and appropriately, Santa Claus shows his appreciation by taking on the little mouse as his mascot and dubbing him “Santa Mouse.”  First published in 1966, this book has very old-timey looking illustrations by Elfrieda A. De Witt.  If you’re in the market for a fun but touching story that focuses on giving, this one does just that. 

This next book is not one that ever actually made it to be wrapped up for opening this Christmas.  I first read about it on Janet’s blog and Heidi’s blog and scurried away to order it, a few days late to include it in the holiday tradition.  (I got it here because it was out of stock other places.) Like Janet, I went on Geraldine McCaughrean’s record (my thoughts on a couple of her YA novels here and here) and assumed that The Jesse Tree would be one I wouldn’t regret.  Although I can’t yet speak for the whole book, so far it hasn’t disappointed me.  We’re actually using it as a daily read-aloud, and along with these coloring sheets, we’re making ornaments for our own Jesse tree this year.  I’m trying NOT to stress about it, especially when we miss a day (i.e. weekends, etc.).  Last year we made an attempt at a Jesse tree but didn’t get very far.  I think reading The Jesse Tree might just be what keeps us more on target this year.  I’ll try to update next week on how things are going with our little tree.  🙂

And now, the giveaway!  Can you believe it has been one year since Read Aloud Thursday first appeared here at Hope Is the Word?  I can’t!  I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing our read-alouds, and I’ve enjoyed even more getting know a few of you who also share here.  I couldn’t let this anniversary pass by without something to commemorate it, and what better than a book to do this?  I came across a copy of one of our favorite anthologies back a few months ago, and I snatched it right up!  It is a used book and so is a little rough around the edges, but that just means it has been loved, right?  🙂 9780060080945

So, what do you have to do for a chance to win this awesome book? 

  1. Leave a comment and tell us the title of your favorite Christmas book.
  2. For a second entry, simply compile and post your own Read Aloud Thursday post and link it here.  Be sure to leave another comment if you do this! 

This giveaway will be open until 8 p.m. CST on Wednesday, December 16.  I will post the winner next Read Aloud Thursday.

So what are you waiting for?  Link up your post by clicking on the MckLinky link below.  🙂

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Have a terrific Read Aloud Thursday!