Saturday, October 25, 2014

Melk, the Christmas Monkey

(Click on the photo to learn more about Melk)


That's right! There is an adorable little monkey who is creating quite a stir in the Ladouceur residence! He made a quick little appearance in the month of September and then scurried away to hide until late November.

Who is this little Monkey?


Well, his real name is Melchior Noel Yule, but he prefers being called Melk. Melk's mission in life is to tell children all about God and His great love. He would love to visit your family for 30 days to teach your children about the character of God.

Melk came for an early two day visit to our family, where we got to play with, interact with, and learn from him. 


Melk is nocturnal, so he is awake while your children sleep. When they wake up, your little ones will find out what Melk has been up to! He is never mischievous, but he is always involved in some kind of activity that your children can join in when they find him.

One morning, he had been gluing marshmallows to a paper to spell out the word "happy." He then went on to share (with Mommy as the interpreter) that it made God happy to create the world and each one of us. He shared some Scripture with the kids, and then invited them to help him finish his craft.


Another day, my kids woke up to find Melk reaching his way into a jar that had candy on the bottom. During breakfast he taught us that God's Word is sweet using the Psalms as the base for our lesson and discussion. Of course, being the sweet, kind, generous little monkey that he is, he shared some candy with my children after our lesson (I made the exception to let them eat candy after breakfast, because Melk asked so nicely). 

Melk will come back to visit us at the end of November to help keep our hearts and spirits in line with what the real purpose of Christmas is- the celebration of our Lord Jesus. 

Some reasons I prefer Melk as a daily Christmas visitor

I love Christmas, but sometimes, the act of preparing so many different activities can become overwhelming. Melk is going to be our only daily activity for Christmastime this year. Katie Hornor (the author of Putting on the Spirit devotional) has already done all of the planning. All I have to do is follow her directions. She has given a list of what is needed, links to the downloads of the crafts suggested, and what activity Melk should be working on when the children find him in the morning. 

I appreciate that Melk is never found getting into mischief. He is always doing something sweet, fun, productive, or enjoying Christmas with the innocent wonder of a child (like the morning my children will find him sleeping under the tree).

Rather than being someone who reports back to Santa about how the children are behaving, Melk points children to God and explains Biblical truths in easy to understand ways. 

What do I get when I purchase Melk, the Christmas Monkey e-book?


If you purchase the Melk, the Christmas Monkey e-book between November 1-8, you will also get a pack of free Melk coloring pages.


Katie is also including a set of journaling pages for your children to document their adventure with Melk. These can be downloaded after your purchase.


Where can I purchase Melk?

Your "Melk" will be a completely separate purchase. Although he is called the Christmas Monkey, you are free to use any stuffed animal you have on hand and change him to "Melk, the Christmas Moose, Giraffe, Puppy, Etc." This is the Melk we chose to go with through Amazon (you do not get to chose which monkey you will be sent, but we were happy with the Melk we received).



Your purchase of Melk the Christmas Monkey e-book will bless others

Katie Hornor is not only a great author, she and her family are missionaries in Mexico. The funds that come in from November 1-8 will go towards the yearly Christmas outreach they do for the children in the area of their church plant. This outreach includes a small, meaningful gift and Gospel tract. 



Would you like to try a Melk lesson before purchasing?

We thought you might! By visiting the Melk website, you can download a free lesson and give it a try with your family.



Melk is sure to become a family tradition

Melk came to visit us in September and my children are already looking forward to his next visit. I know that when he gets put away with our Christmas decor, my kids are going to anxiously await his next visit. This sweet little guy whose sole purpose is to point our children's hearts towards the Lord will always be welcome in our home.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Classical Conversations | How Much Does It Cost?

This post contains affiliate links.


When I first heard of Classical Conversations my first question was, "How much will it cost?"

As the couponing, make my dollar stretch, stay ay home mom, it took me a year of praying and a parent practicum to fully understand the value and worth of the education my children would be receiving.

If you have looked into Classical Conversations, you know there is a cost involved. Costs vary from co-op to co-op and family to family, but the fees cover registration and supply fees. Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge each carry a different cost- Foundations being the easier of the three and Challenge requiring a greater level of instruction by the tutors.


 So How Much Does It Cost? 

 

Here it is laid out for you. Tuition for Foundations is $350 per year, registration is $75 for the first child ($50 each additional child), and a $50 supply fee. Depending on where a CC community meets, there may also be a building use fee. For my daughter to be in the Foundations phase of CC this year cost $480. (You can read here why we have chosen Classical Conversations for our children)

Now before you gasp at the sticker shock, consider, we only bring a snack and lunch to co-op. Markers, crayons, pencils, photocopies, paints, art supplies, science project materials, and scissors are all provided for us because of our supply fee (Essentials only has a $20 supply fee because their work does not require the same type of supplies that Foundations does).

As we began to weigh the cost, we thought back to the Christian school I worked at for ten years, which is considered the most reasonably priced private Christian school in our area. Between registration fees, entrance exam fees, book fees, the purchase of school uniforms, back-to-school supplies, weekly pizza day (optional), field trip costs, and the tuition for the full year of attending the academy, we averaged that it would cost about $5,000 per year to attend this particular private, Christian school. In relation to that cost, $480 is quite doable for an education that we believe is exceptional for our children.

What Do You Have To Buy?

 

When it comes to curriculum, one of my favorite aspects of CC is that what I buy for Addie will also be used for Ian when when he starts. So for example this year being our first year, I had to purchase the Foundations: The Weekly Grammar for Classical Communities (Classical Foundations) Guide which contains all of the information needed for Cycles 1-3 ($60) and the tin whistle ($10). I chose to also purchase the Cycle 3 audio CDs ($30- which we listen to while driving in the car and in the house in the morning) and the History Timeline Cards ($88). When Ian joins CC next year, I will only be purchasing one tin whistle so that he can have his own and the set of audio CDs which accompany Cycle 1. The Foundations Guide remains the same yearly, and the Timeline is relearned on a yearly basis. Until both Addie and Ian complete the 6th grade, they will be using these same materials every year.

Once I have all 3 cycles of audio CDs, until Addie enters Essentials, I will not have to make any other purchases.

As we expand on what is being learned in our history and science, I can go to the library to borrow books and use what I already have in our home library. I am opting not purchase any other books for our schooling, because I know that once my children enter Essentials and Challenge, I may need to make some large book purchases. But again, whatever I buy for Addie, Ian will use when he enters that phase.

The cost of a home education is a personal decision that each family has to make. However, if you choose to make the investment into a Classical Conversations education for your children, I believe it will be money well spent.

Also in this series:


Monday, October 20, 2014

Teaching My Preschooler | A Relaxed Approach

This post contains affiliate links.

I know that it seems that I have slacked on this series, but, truth be told, Ian's learning has looked a lot different over the last few weeks than it has in the weeks prior.


Our learning time on some days has involved a lot of coloring, reading stories, and listening in on what Addie is learning. 

On other days, our learning has revolved around making crafts and painting (a huge hit with my little man).

Some days our learning consists of reading a book along with a CD and then playing some games with the manipulatives that have come with the story. We loved the Brown Bear book and CD storytime set for activities like this.


My other approach lately has been to just make up pages in his composition notebook. We have traced his right hand and left hand, I've drawn out numbers and letters for him to color and add stickers to based on the number or letter we are talking about, and some pages are dedicated to practicing letter formation.

Life has been beautifully busy recently, but we have managed to maintain a loose learning time for Ian. I prefer this to a strict "learning time" for him because lifelong learners are developed when they do not see learning as fitting into a specific time slot, but as a natural ongoing flow to life. 



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Love Letters from God | Review

I was recently sent a copy of the book Love Letters from God: Bible Stories by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. I will tell you all about this book, but let me just start out by saying that when your 3 and 6 year old ask if you can read them the "Love Letters" book throughout the day, you know it is book that kids "get" and truly love.

There are children's Bible story books a plenty, but Glenys Nellist has taken a completely unique approach to sharing these Bible stories. Much in the way that I retell Bible accounts, Glenys shares the accounts from the point of view of the characters in the story- not as an outsider looking in. What might Jonah have been thinking when he ran away from God? What might Eve have thought as she touched and ate the fruit? Might David have had the courage to go against Goliath because he knew that God was with him?

Each account walks children through the Bible account in a way that they will understand and gives them a Bible verse (God's Wonderful Words to You) which carries on the main theme or even a phrase that Glenys made sure was a part of the account.

However, the part that my children loved the most, was the "Love Letter from God." At the end of each account is a little flap that opens up to a "letter" which starts out "Dear ____________." The first time I read it and added my children's names in, they both sat up a little straighter and their eyes got bigger! The letter goes on to make the Bible account applicable to the child's life and shares how they can also have what these Bible characters and heroes had because God gave them the courage, strength, protection, etc. and He will give them those things as well.

The words are beautifully written and stand on their own quite well, but there is truly nothing like a well-written book with beautiful illustrations. Sophie Allsopp has done a superb job in her illustrations. This is an example of illustrations being beautiful enough to stand on their own, yet support the words in every way.

I am so glad that I was able to review "Love Letters from God: Bible Stories." It is definitely one book that we will be keeping in our library for years to come.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Is Classical Conversations and Why We Chose It

Imagine that you are building a house. What would be the first place that you would start (assuming the land has already been cleared and permits are pulled)?

The foundation.

In education, having a strong foundation is critical to building upon in the future. If the foundation is weak (facts are not memorized, dates and people are abstractly learned, and each subject is seen as being completely separate and on its own), future information will be harder to grasp and eventually the foundation will fall apart leaving a very frustrated student.

As Christian homeschooling parents, having a God-centered curriculum was our main concern. Having a curriculum that reinforces our faith, beliefs, and would help our children critically understand why we believe what we believe AND give them the strong foundation in academics was hugely important to us.


That is why we chose to use Classical Conversations as our children's curriculum, not just for this year but, Lord willing, for the rest of their education.

From K4-6th grade, children are given a strong foundation. In fact during these "Foundations" years, children memorize 7 pieces of information per week (24 weeks per year) through songs and rhymes:
  • Timeline
  • History
  • Math
  • Science
  • English Grammar
  • Latin
  • Geography
They also memorize a passage of Scripture in Latin and the English translation, the books of the Bible, and the Presidents of the United States. While they are learning all of this information, they are also learning how God, His hand, or plan can be seen in each and every subject.

There are 3 cycles in Classical Conversations, with each year covering one cycle. Every three years, children relearn the same information solidifying what they learned previously and allowing the child to learn more the second or 3rd go around.

For example, right now we are in Cycle 3 which focuses on American history. We are reading a few biographies on the people we are learning about, watching videos and movies based on the historical events we are memorizing, and reading historical fictions based on times periods we are in. In three years when we are in Cycle 3 again, Addie will be in 5th grade and able to be assigned biographies to read on her own while I read to Ian at the level that he will be at.


Which brings me to another aspect of CC I love. Both of my children will be learning the same exact information, but I can take it to the level each child is at. For instance, next year Ian will be required to join CC because he will be four and on campus. I will only be having him memorize the information as best he can.... with no pressure.... and if he wants to listen in on what I do with Addie, he can.

Right now, my daughter will learn over 500 pieces of information this year alone. Do I expect her to understand fully everything she is learning, grasp every concept, and be able to explain everything she has memorized? No, and neither does the founder of Classical Conversations. That is why children cover each cycle at least 2 times in elementary school. Each time they review something, a little more will stick, a little more will be understood, and their foundation will be that much stronger.

Does my daughter understand everything she has learned? Almost! She amazes me with everything she has absorbed so far. In fact, I love that as she is going through her day and hearing something completely unrelated to our schoolwork, she relates things back to what she has learned on her own. For example, she was reading a storybook and in it the author wrote out each of the five senses without naming them as such. She gasped and shouted, "Mom! Those are our five senses!" (which she had just memorized for science a few weeks prior)


When my children reach 4th grade, they will enter a new phase of the program called "Essentials." This phase of the program spans 4th-6th grades, and English grammar becomes the focus of their educational program. They will have a huge text book that they will work through each year from beginning to end. The first year is meant to familiarize them with the information. The second year  things in the book begin to make sense and pieces fall into place (now that they and you are out of shock from the first year of Essentials and the intensity of the program). The third year, essay writing becomes easier and all of the grammar information they have learned now is completely understandable in their minds (per kids in our co-op who are in their final year of Essentials).

Because of what Addie is memorizing for English Grammar in Foundations, she will not have to learn parts of speech and how to use them simultaneously. She will have memorized what the parts of speech are, which words fall under each part, and what sentence parts are. I am not bothered that she will not know how to use them until she reaches 4th grade. I know that when the time comes, having a strong foundation will benefit her when it is time to build a structure on her foundation.

As they leave Foundations and Essentials, my children will reach the Challenge stage. In the Challenge stage, literature, critical thinking, and expressing their thoughts correctly in persuasive, thought provoking ways becomes a huge focus of their education. Speech making becomes a frequent assignment, giving them the skills to think critically on their feet before an audience- a skill many adults do not have.


During the Challenge phase, parents are encouraged to begin allowing their students to work independently and to become a resource instead of being an instructor. This teaches students responsibility and time management. 

Addie is loving CC. I love seeing her love for learning bloom in a way I have never seen before. The child asks to study! She has us all humming her memory songs along with her randomly throughout the day. She asks to listen to the "Timeline Song" (which she is up to date with in her memorization). She randomly starts skip counting as she is walking through the house or folding laundry. One day, for fun, she sat down and began drawing out the human body complete with simple skeletal, muscular, digestive, and respiratory systems and then proceeded to explain to us why people get heartburn.

I am so thankful to God for Classical Conversations.

I am linking up at: Happy and Blessed Home, The Pin Junkie

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