Kari is married to Rick and Marilyn's son Tim. She is a stay-at-home mom and also homeschools her 4 children. She organizes the Character Concepts blog, sales and marketing. She loves being outside in the garden or helping her husband on the farm. She also loves cooking and fixing up their old farmhouse.
A Book List for Later Elementary to Middle School Age
One of my favorite things to see, as a parent, is my children curled up on the sofa, or sitting outside on the porch swing, or numerous other places reading from our book list! And let me add to that- reading without me telling them to go read….reading because they want to!
So, as I’m thinking about Christmas gifts (or birthday gifts, etc.) for my kids or nieces and nephews, I love to include BOOKS as part of their present.
Reading is one of those wonderful pastimes that is the same as it was 100 years ago. You find a book and you read it. (granted, I suppose you could be reading it on a kindle or ipad or something, now) 🙂 And, it is just as beneficial as it ever was. It stimulates the imagination, it feeds you with knowledge, it broadens your scope of life and history by learning of others’ experiences, it inspires through achievements and endeavors of people before us, it sharpens your spelling skills and builds your vocabulary without ever having to pull out a textbook to do so. What a great gift!
So, with Christmas shopping underway, perhaps you will enjoy this little list of some of my kids’ favorite books to read. I love book lists because they help me narrow down my options instead of having to search through the thousands of children’s books out there and not knowing where to start. There’s a lot of trashy books out there too, so I appreciate lists that give me good, wholesome choices.
We actually used several of these titles for school reading. I buy several books at the beginning of the year and then let the kids choose which ones they will read. When they’ve finished that book, they go back to those options and choose again. They really like handling it this way, as it allows them to have some say in what they read for school.
So, here you go:
Book List for approximately grades 4-8 or ages 9-13
Here is a list of 7 Learning Resources that I really like for preschoolers/kindergartners. I’d say Ages 3-5 would best benefit from these picks.
This year, we are homeschooling our 4th preschooler. (Our other children are in 7th, 6th, and 1st grade!) Along the way, I’ve used some products that were just so-so, some that weren’t worth the time or money, and some that I loved and have used over and over again!
What makes these ‘keepers’ to me?
My kids have enjoyed them and actually used them
I have enjoyed my kids using them (something that is complicated or overly time-consuming or messy is probably not going to be a winner in my book. So, my “keepers” are resources that are simple, yet effective
Economical- We don’t (can’t) buy our kids every neat book or toy we see. So, resources that get the job done without breaking the bank are a must for us.
Durable- Toys or puzzles that break after one child uses them, won’t be bought again!
Educational- the whole point of a “Learning Resource or Activity” is for it to actually teach kids a skill or strengthen a skill or thinking process or encourage creativity.
So, here you go: 7 suggestions for books or activities that teach – while being fun, too! (and all under $20)
I just love the Christmas season. And, I’m one of those people who really loves traditions- especially Christmas tradition. So, I really wanted to share a book with you that is a favorite tradition for my little family. We read it together every year throughout the Christmas season.
A Little House Christmas Treasury–Festive Holiday Stories is a compilation of Christmas stories taken from some of the original 9 Little House Books. I’ve always loved the Little House books anyway, so this book caught my attention when I saw it in a bookstore years ago when my oldest child was only a very little girl. I bought it and fell in love with the sweet Christmas stories, the pretty little illustrations and colorful and cheery embellishments throughout, and the well-made sturdy pages.
I find the book itself to be really pretty, christmas-ey, and well-made; it would make a beautiful gift for a family or a child.
I am so excited about this new History Curriculum!
Last year, I asked Marilyn if she could create a history curriculum that would give children a good, solid introduction to important people and events in American History, yet that would not be overwhelming to my child, or to me as the mom/teacher!
At this young age, my academic focus with my children is more on the basics- like reading, writing, and arithmetic; yet I don’t want to ignore the important subject of history!
I wanted something that was:
interesting for my child
laid-back in nature but effective in teaching
filled with true stories that are meatier than what you find in a text-book
pretty much hands-off for mom.
What could be easier, right?!
Well, Marilyn has put together a curriculum that I think fits the bill on all counts. My first-grader will be using it this year, and I can’t wait!
Taking a vacation is always a very exciting time. As the weeks and days gradually bring you closer to the date to leave, you can feel the swell of anticipation in the air. The only problem is, that in order to reach the glorious vacation destination, you have to take a trip; and if you have children, you know that traveling can often be a bit of a stressful experience.
I mean, I get it! It’s hard to sit in a vehicle for hours upon hours (and to kids- an hour seems, I think, at least double what it does to an adult!) when you are already excited. All those emotions and antsy-ness, and small spaces are bound to create some…. “moments”.
So, in an effort to make the actual traveling time a little bit more fun for everyone, I began a little tradition.
I want to share with you something that I try to do with my kids most days in the summer. We call it “Quiet Time“. I’m sure this is not a new idea to most of you, however I think it is worth “re-mentioning” because I think it is a wise practice and very worth-while!
What is it? In a nutshell, Quiet Times are an intentional, specified time where each person is to be alone, occupying themselves quietly, and not allowed to disturb others. (not even mom!)
For my children who are young, but no longer napping in the afternoon, Quiet Times happen all year long. But as some of my children have gotten older, and their school days have stretched longer- taking advantage of this practice during the school year has pretty much worked itself out of our schedule. However- in the summertime, when our days aren’t filled with schoolwork and the responsibilities and schedule are different, everyone participates in Quiet Time. And you know something? We all enjoy it. Actually, my older kids seem to like it the best! I find that it provides a needed break from all the ‘togetherness’ and also a little structure to an otherwise care-free schedule. Neither of those are bad things, but too much of a good thing can quickly become tiresome and stale.
Perhaps you would like to tuck it away until next school year, or maybe you would like to work on Character training with your little guy over the summer. Or maybe, you would love to give this pack as a gift to your daughter, sister, or friend.
Much like the anticipated tradition of making Christmas cookies, me and my children have made making Easter Cookies a tradition as well. But, aside from enjoying these yummy treats, we like to share them with neighbors and include a message about the true meaning of Easter. Bunnies, eggs, and candies aside- I want to help my kids focus on the message of the gospel.
It is easy- too easy- to find “Spring-time” cookie cutters. But finding some that are actually “Easter” oriented is a little harder. So, I was excited to find this set of cookie cutters at a local grocery store a few years back. The set included a lamb, a church, a cross, (and one other cutter that I did not use.) Amazon.com also carries these cutters…click here.
We just made sugar cookies and I let the kids take turns cutting out the shapes. While doing this, we talked about what each shape could remind us about Easter. After, finishing the cookies, we prepared plates for neighbors and family, and included a little tag with some verses that explained the cookies.
Here are the verses and descriptions I used last year, just to give you an idea. (Feel free to copy and paste and print to use for yourself.)
To make the tag I just cut out each description with verse, individually, and glued them to a colorful piece of construction paper or card stock. It can be as simple as that or you could definitely get more creative with it, too!
If you are giving this small gift to unsaved family or friends, pray with your children that God will use this simple seed in their hearts.
Last year, we took a platter of these cookies to a family get-together, and read the verses out loud before easting them. It was a nice small way to point my kids (and the adults and myself, too!) back to the reason for Easter. Whenever you are able, point your children back to the gospel!