December 28, 2009

Bible Reading Plan

Wow. First post in a long time. Sorry 'bout that.

It's the end of the year and time to think about my Bible reading plan for 2010. In 2009, I used the Discipleship Journal plan and I'm going to do it again next year. It takes you through the whole Bible in a year. Here are two thing I like about it.

1. The readings are from four separate places every day. For the internet generation's short attention span (I'm including myself), this is just right. If one of the readings is dry, another will be juicy.

2. It only calls for 25 days of reading each month. This kept me from falling behind and getting discouraged. Sometimes I did all 25 readings before the end of the month; then I just kept reading, went back and reviewed something in more depth, or read some historical background.

This Bible reading plan (including printable bookmarks) and many other plans are available here.

Sometimes when I have a checklist, the temptation is just to get something done to check it off. What a waste! It's important to remember that the reason I read the Bible is to know God better and to invite God to speak to me through scripture. Here's to rich time in God's word in 2010!

June 13, 2009

R's Blog

R started a blog.

Here it is:

And T's is here:

How Not to Talk to Your Kids

This is an article on how general praise ("You're smart") can actually demotivate a child and prevent him from trying something at which he may not succeed. It's better to affirm effort, especially specific instances of effort ("You worked really hard on those problems"). It originally appeared in the New Yorker a couple years ago and is republished here at (Try to get past the corny template.)

April 25, 2009

Listening and Following Directions

Amy Anderson is at it again, this time with some tips about helping preschool-age children with listening and following directions.

Here’s a sample of what she says:

  • Get down on your child’s level - eye contact is good, and it is also less intimidating to your child.
  • Make sure you have your child’s full attention before giving directions. Be straight-forward: “I am going to tell you what to do now. Ready?”
  • Keep your directions short and simple - preschoolers are not known for their extensive attention spans.
  • Use visual cues if you can — point the direction you want him to go; touch her feet if you want her to get shoes on.
  • Ask your child to repeat back the directions. My four-year-old likes to count on her fingers while she retells what she needs to do. Whatever works!
  • Be predictable. If you always tell your child to first clear his plate, then wash his hands, he will have a better chance of remembering what to do.
  • Have appropriate expectations. Don’t give your child a three-step direction if you know she is not capable of remembering three steps. Break it down step-by-step until she is ready.
For more, read the whole article here.

April 22, 2009

Initiative, Independence, & Responsibility

Amy Anderson at Let's Explore has a good article about fostering these skills in preschool childen. Her advice, in part is to:

Encourage your child to complete self-help tasks, such as cleaning up spilled juice or sweeping up paper from a cutting project.

Break complicated tasks into small steps and celebrate all the little successes along the way.

Praise the effort, not the task: “You didn’t give up and kept trying until you opened the toothpaste. Way to go!”

Build extra minutes into your daily routines to allow your child to complete tasks without being hurried — such as putting on his own socks, buckling her own seat belt, etc.

These are all great but I particularly like the last one. Chronic parental rushing stunts the development of initiative in children.

March 27, 2009

R's Graduation!

R graduated from kindergarten on March 18. I'm super proud of her. But now I'm wondering what it will be like teaching without at least one of my own kids in the classroom.

March 22, 2009

Playing Competitive Games Cooperatively

The big news around here is that R graduated from kindergarten. Once our photos are a bit more organized, I'll post about that. For now though, I want to share a nice article from The Homeschool Classroom that I read about making board games more cooperative. The author uses Candyland, Sorry, Guess Who, and Scrabble as examples and suggests four ways of modifying the rules.

  1. Each player helps all the tokens make their way around the board.
  2. Pick a token to be the "bad guy" and everyone takes turn playing for the "bad guy" trying to make him come in last place. Cooperating this way takes deeper strategic thinking than playing the normal way.
  3. Play against the clock instead of one another.
  4. Play for fun--don't keep score.
Of course competition can be good fun and it is important to learn to win and lose graciously. However, life is more about cooperating for mutual good than just beating everyone else. Read the article for more explanation and ideas about how to make fun and cooperative "house rules" for games.

January 5, 2009

Living / Non-Living Things

This week at the preschool, our Bible story is about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Our "My World" topic is the difference between living and non-living things. Here are some good web resources on the topic.

  • First School Years has a nice, simple sorting game that is good for young children. It helps with vocabulary and reinforcing the living/non-living distinction. The only problem I had with this game was that if I put an item too close to the center line, the game told me I had put it on the wrong side. The workaround is to place items well away from the center line. Here is what the game looks like. [Edit: it has been reported that this game does not work well in some browsers. Please test before using with your students.]

  • The Open Door has a nice mini-lesson on the attributes of living things. (feeding, movement, breathing or respiration, excretion, growth, sensitivity, and reproduction). It's targeted toward older children but you can apply the ideas to preschool too. There is also a twenty-item quiz which asks whether each item is "living," "non-living but once part of a living thing," or "non-living and never part of a living thing." After choosing an answer, you are informed whether you are right or wrong, and why. The quiz is for solid independent readers or for parents to do with their children.
I hope you find these links useful. Happy learning!

Living and Non-living (My World of Science) Acorn Plus: Is it Living or Non-living? Is It a Living Thing? (Introducing Living Things) What Is a Living Thing? (Science of Living Things) Living and Nonliving (Nature Basics) I Am a Living Thing (Introducing Living Things)

January 4, 2009

Atheist: I Truly Believe Africa Needs God

Here's a commentary in The Times by an African expat who has recently returned home. The whole article is worth reading but I'll just share an excerpt from the self-avowed atheist here:
I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.