How to deal with the check-out line magazines

Just got done reading a post from a concerned mom about the lewd and offensive magazine (particularly the covers!) that are displayed at every check-out. My kids can't read yet, so I usually try to distract them, but we're fast approaching the point where that won't work any more. Well, when I read this post, "I Don't Mean to be a Troublemaker", I decided that I'm going to take the steps of action she's been taking. Having these mags front and center is ridiculous anyway.

What do you do (those with older children) when navigating the treacherous check-out aisles? Love to get other peoples' feedback on this.

Sonlight Core 1: Week 1

Go-alongs for Peoples of the World, Week 1:
  • Look at our passports and the country stamps
  • Listen to our national anthem, then color a picture of our flag.
  • Sing “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and talk about all the skin colors
  • Make connected paper dolls with four people for notebook.  Color their skin each a different color.
  • Write “Hello” in Chinese, Russian, and Hebrew: Shalom =שלום
  •  Have 5 stations set up that mimic each type of shop talked about. How would you buy things in the different settings?
Go-alongs for World of Animals, Week 1:

Making Sonlight Core 1 Hands-On

I've been busy over the last few months planning my strategy for 1st Grade/Kindergarten. After much research, soul searching and talking to other moms, I finally decided to go with Sonlight's Core 1: Introduction to World History as my guiding force.

Why Sonlight? I was drawn to the strong history/critical thinking component, as well as the fun factor! I want my children to love learning, as well as to be critical learners, evaluating what is presented to them. Plus, I want them to have a heart for the nations and be well versed in the history and cultures of the world, not just the US. Sonlight provided all that and more.

I was a bit apprehensive about the price, but there's an awesome used homeschool curriculum store in town where I was able to get a good bit of the books I needed for half the retail price. So far, I've only spent around $250 where I originally expected to spend $500 plus. Not bad at all.

Once I got the Core 1 instructor's guide, I began to go through it and start some initial planning. It didn't take long before I was a bit dismayed by the amount of reading each day and the lack of hands on activities to balance out the book time. We were going to be learning fascinating material, but I knew my girls (6 & 5) would need something more besides just reading if they were going to actually enjoy school!

Inspired by other moms who've also worked to plan hands-on activities for the curriculum, I've begun adding in other elements to take Core 1 from being simply a pile of interesting books to a kinesthetic, lapbooking, full of activities curriculum. I'm getting SO excited! For the sake of others that are trying to supplement Core 1, I'm going to be posting my ideas and supplements here. I hopefully start posting over the next several weeks as my lesson plans get firmed up. And if you're going to be doing Core 1 this fall and blogging about it, let me know! I'd love to follow your plans and activities.

Is Your Christianity American? Or Biblical?

What is the cost of following Christ? For many western Christians, the practical answer is "Next to nothing." Sure, we forsake certain vices, give up Sunday mornings for church attendance and a small percentage of us tries to tithe on a regular basis. All of this is fine and good, and definitely the standard for Christian circles. But do these small sacrifices (if they even rise to the level of that nomenclature) fit with what Christ laid out as the expected path of following Him? Let's see what the Bible lays out as the expected course:
  • Give up everything that you have
  • Sell your possessions and give to the poor
  • Go into all the world, even places of great danger and hardship
  • Give up your life for the sake of Christ
  • Don't accumulate material possessions but instead lay up treasures in heaven
  • Make disciples, not more church programs
  • Don't follow ambition and career, follow calling
Now look around at the majority of American Christians. How many are living this way? Are you? Am I?

These thoughts stem from my recent foray into David Platt's book Radical. The book's tagline is a great summary of its contents: "Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream". And for me, the book's impact has fulfilled the title's promise as I've been wrestling with the differences between cultural Christianity and Biblical Christianity.

First, I was challenged in my views of wealth and material goods. Because I'm married to someone that has a predisposition to giving money away (the exact opposite of my personality), I've had to accept some measure of frugality and temperance upon my natural bent towards materialism. But I'm still rich. And I still expect a certain level of comfort and lifestyle as my due. But what about Paul's words to Timothy?

"Godliness with contentment is great gain...with food and clothing, let us be therefore content." (1 Timothy 6:6,8)

Platt states the following about this passage:
"...those who desire to be rich and acquire more than the necessities of life are in danger of being plunged into ruin and destruction. This passage begs the question, am I willing to live a life that is content with food and clothing, having the basic necessities of life provided for? Or do I want more? Do I want a bigger house, a  nicer car or better clothes? The way we use our money is a barometer of our spiritual condition."

Second, I was challenged in my views about discipleship. Discipleship,  investing in the lives of others both through witnessing and one-on-one interaction, is not an option. I AM to be giving of my life to help others find Christ and grow in Christ. It's easy for me to put that on the back burner. After all, I have 4 kids. I homeschool. I work as a freelance writer. I don't have a lot of extra time. But after reading Radical, I'm convinced that many of my excuses are just a smokescreen for not wanting to give of my free time and not wanting to invest emotionally in others. In other words, I'm just selfish. Even if it's just once a month, I need to be obedient and to be, as Paul stated, "pouring out my life as a drink offering..."

I'm normally a speed reader. Not here. The content didn't allow me to race through the words. Instead, I'd get hung up on a sentence, have to put the book down and then spend several minutes pondering an idea the author presented. The rarity with which this happens to me attests to the book's value (or to the fact that I'm just normally not a deep reader!)

I'd highly encourage you to get your hands on this book. And to read it deeply, thinking through the ramifications of Platt's challenge to follow Christ's commands absolutely. To close this review, here's a quote from Elizabeth Elliot that he includes in the book:

Jim's aim [her husband who died in Ecuador] was to know God. His course, obedience - the only course that could lead to the fulfillment of his aim. His end was what some would call an extraordinary death, although in facing death he had quietly pointed out that many have died because of obedience to Christ

He and other men with whom he died were hailed as heroes, "martyrs." I do not approve. Nor would they have approved. Is the distinction between living for Christ and dying for Him, after all, so great. Is not the second the logical conclusion of the first?

And is not that what we're called to? To die daily, taking up our cross and following Him? So whether selling extra possessions or choosing to move to a place that advances ministry rather than career, we should lose everything in order that we may gain Christ.

As the author stated, "My biggest fear, even now, is that I will hear Jesus' words and walk away, content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him."

Geography Co-op: Africa

Jambo! For this month's geography co-op, we took a trip to the continent of Africa. A safari hunt, Adinkra cloth and other activities made our time fun (and educational)! Here's our schedule - feel free to make use of it for your own world exploration. Sorry about the lack of pictures. I'd forgotten to bring my camera.  :-(

  • Colored maps of Africa
  • Read Water Hole Waiting” by Jane and Christopher Kurtz
  • Safari Hunt: Hidden around the livingroom were various envelopes, each containing stickers for a different African animal. One of the moms would read a riddle about an animal, the children would guess, then they'd hunt for the envelope that contained that animal's stickers. The stickers were then put on their Africa maps.
  • Adinkra Cloth: Next, the children created their own Adinkra fabric. Most of the Adinkra crafts I found online were quite complicated for a group as young as ours. Instead of dying the fabric, stamping with wax or carving our own stamps, we just allowed the kids to stencil designs using permanent markers and/or use stamp designs from a pre-made collection. They had examples of Adrinkra cloth to work from, but only a few kids chose to do organized designs! One note: the permanent marker seeped through the cloth and stained the wooden table we were using. One of the moms suggested using rubbing alcohol to wipe it off...and it worked perfectly! Yeah for good cleaning advice.
  • Read "Honey, Honey, Lion!" by Jan Brett. As a go along to the story, the children used a variety of noisemakers to illustrate the Honey Badger's journey through the Savannah. The idea sprang from a suggestion on Jan Brett's site. I didn't end up making the exact noisemakers she recommended...I chose simpler stuff, but same noises!
  • Finally, we learned a little bit about the Maasai people in Kenya
    • Some live in huts: Make Huts out of playdoh - model around a ball, then lift off. Can also use stencils of different animals in playdoh. (We didn't do this activity...ran out of time!)
    • Many villages do not have running water. Kids walk to well and then bring water back, balancing bucket on head: Have a balancing relay race. (We did this game. Fun, once the kids caught on!)
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