Tag Archives: books

Friendship Challenges

HeartThis summer, some of my girls’ friends decided it would be fun to have a club – an American Girl club. The plan was to meet once a week for a few hours of fun activities: making crafts for their dolls, watching some of the American Girl movies, or discussing one of the books. The group of 7-12 year olds was going to plan and conduct the meetings themselves, and the club was going to be their own, without any moms being involved.

The first meeting began with the election of officers, and some of the girls had their feelings hurt in the process. The next two meetings resulted in even more disagreements, and friendships were becoming strained. Last week the girls came to a cross roads:  should the club continue as is, or should the parents become more involved? 

Perhaps the girls should be allowed to work out the problems themselves, since figuring out relationships is a part of life. But these are young girls, many of whom haven’t had to deal with these types of issues. Because homeschooling allows us to choose who our children socialize with, we’ve been able to find friends who share the same values, and consequently they haven’t had very much to work out — that is, until the club started. 

But I’m convinced they need direction. They need a parent to sit in on the meetings and monitor what is said and how it is said. The girls can still come up with their own ideas – they just need someone there to teach them how to conduct a meeting, how to respond kindly to each other, and how to compromise when necessary.    

The moms are now working out a plan so the club will benefit all involved. Hopefully the girls will learn more than leadership; they’ll learn a lot about friendship as well.

What Can I Do?

 file6151244762637About half-way through the summer, when the initial thrill of summertime wears off, my children will come to me and say, “There’s nothing to do!” Now, deep down they know that’s a mistake, because they can always work on schoolwork – practicing their math facts, writing essays, etc. But because I love summer too, I give them a few fun options to choose from:

 1. Read a book by themselves, or read to their little brother.

 2. Make a wordless book. Draw the whole story – no words allowed.

3. Play with play dough. For less than $1 a can (off-brands are even cheaper), it’s an inexpensive way to entertain little ones.

4. Paint their faces (older children can paint their own if they have a mirror). Craft acrylics work well for face paint. Have the children put on old clothes (the paint doesn’t come out of clothing) and give them a couple of colors to choose from. Be sure not to paint around their eyes or mouth.

5.  Play in the sprinkler or hose.

6. Use the hose to make mud pies. Decorate the mud pies with twigs and flowers.

7. Play with bubbles outside. I like to use the large container of bubbles from Wal-Mart and flyswatters. Pour some of the bubbles into a bowl. Give each child a flyswatter to stick into the bubbles. As they wave the flyswatter around, hundreds of tiny bubbles will appear.

8. Make a robot. Use empty boxes, paper towel tubes, and toilet paper tubes. Pull out all of your craft supplies – markers, glue, popsicle sticks, sequins, paper, pom-poms, and see what the kids come up with.

If none of these ideas interest them, they could also:

9. Clean the bathroom.

10. Fold laundry.

11. Sweep outside.

12. Do the dishes.

With these options in the mix, they suddenly find something to do, and the summer fun continues.

Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow’s Nest

P1050102Many homeschool curriculums are literature-based, and lists of good literature are available online and at the library. Most people are familiar with the classics, such as the books by Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, or Jane Austen.  While we use the classics in our studies, we like to read more contemporary books together during lunchtime (I read aloud while the children eat), some of our favorites being the Junie B. Jones series and the Trailblazer missionary stories. New books are being published every year, and we like to try those out too. Some are good, some not-so-good. We usually don’t finish the not-so-good ones, but Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow’s Nest is one I would definitely recommend.  

The story is about ten-year-old Andy Parker who goes to spend the summer with his grandmother in the country. His dad has passed away, and now his best friend is moving — things are changing, and he suspects a new chapter in his life is going to begin. Set in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York, Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow’s Nest describes Andy’s activities with his mother’s friend John, his grandmother, and the neighbor, Mrs. Sackets. 

Written in first person, the story softly conveys Andy’s feelings and reactions to his changing world. Through Andy’s voice, author Karen Pavlicin, who lost her own husband to cancer, leads the reader gently through the changes as Andy realizes that even as he experiences loss, life is still full of hope. 

Since we began homeschooling eight years ago, I’ve known of several families in the area who have lost parents or children because of automobile accidents or illness. Even though I  lost my own father twelve years ago, I can still only imagine what they are experiencing. But for those families, I think Ms. Pavlicin’s book carries a timeless message: “With a little bit of faith, we’ll make it through a lifetime of changes.”

Literature Class

a-booksAlthough we weren’t involved in a co-op this past year, my children were part of a literature class put together by a couple of homeschool moms. Yesterday was our class for April.

Our literature class meets the fourth Thursday of the month from 10:00 – 11:30 at the centrally-located home of one of the families. Students divide up into four groups: grades K-3rd,4th-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th.

Every month, students in each group are assigned a book to read – one that can be easily found at our local library. Some of the books they’ve read this year include Misty; The Whipping Boy; Shiloh; Sarah Plain and Tall; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe;, The Cricket in Times Square; Carry On, Mr. Bowditch; A Wrinkle in Time; Call It Courage; and The Bronze Bow. Then, when we meet together, students break up into their groups in different rooms of the house to discuss the book they’ve read, with one of the moms leading the discussion.

The K-3rd group is the largest group, so they usually meet in the living room. This younger group reads one or two picture books and then work on a corresponding activity, such as making a craft. This past week they read a story about a dog and made “dog” biscuits that were actually baked treats for the kids. Of course, not all of them were shaped like dog biscuits – the children shaped them into stars, squares, and even a rock.

The class has lent itself to other activities as well. When the middle school class was reading The Hiding Place, a special guest was brought in who was a girl in Holland during the Holocaust. When the older elementary students were reading Tall Tales, they created their own tall tales and shared them with each other.

With only one class to go for this school year, literature class has been a great way to get together while reading good books!

Photo by Faeyran