Tag Archives: reviews

Podcast Handout for: What Should I Do With a Kindergartener?

What Should I Do With A Kindergartener?


Consider Behavior First

  1. Readiness to learn formally is more than just “academic readiness”
  1. Behavior problems of the preschool days will get carried into school work

(Having a school schedule does help behaviors some, but will not solve them entirely.)

  1. The trouble you might be having getting teeth brushed or coming to breakfast, etc., will

only be exacerbated by adding “come to school table” or “do seatwork” or “listen.”

Continue reading

Podcast: What Should I Do With a Kindergartener?

What Should I Do With a Kindergartener?

Donna Reish, author of character quality language arts and meaningful composition, answers a couple of readers questions about kindergarten. In this podcast episode, she specifically talks about what types of behaviors parents should expect from a four to six year-old child before starting formal academics and the six most important things to focus on first, including obedience, morning routines, chore times, and informal learning. She describes the optimum learning environment and gives insight as to what to look for in readiness to learn to read. Join Donna as she describes some of the best years of parenting.


Continue reading

Expectations For a Five Year Old

Expectations For a  Five Year Old


I was recently asked what my “educational expectations” would be with a five year old. Now, this fall marks our thirtieth year of homeschooling. Through the years, we have ebbed and flowed with the trends of homeschooling just like all other long-term homeschoolers. However, there are some things that have always stayed the same for us:

Continue reading

Teaching Children HOW to Learn

Speaking about “Building Study Skills and Comprehension” at a conference

There are many aspects of teaching a child how to learn, one of which is working to increase our children’s comprehension. When people have good comprehension, they can learn anything, anywhere, anytime.

There are three primary ways that we have worked to increase our children’s comprehension: (1) Discussion with parents and those more knowledgeable than the child; (2) Good questions following reading or discussions; and (3) Provide a rich background of experience.

The first two of those go hand-in-hand. Discussion of everything with our children from very young ages has given our kids experiences in areas that they would normally not have experiences in. It gives us the opportunity to teach all the time—and gives them learning hooks that they create with the discussion material to bring into other learning situations.
Good questions, not just rote questions, help the student think more deeply about subjects and allow you to observe his thought processes and help them along. Lastly, a rich background of experience gives your student the edge in learning any subject. Like discussion, it gives a child more knowledge, more background, more information to bring into future learning scenarios.

I am adding some information about teaching children how to learn, good materials, links to articles, etc., in the sidebar of this article for those who would like to study this further. Just being aware of always teaching our kids how to learn, how to study, how to research, how to further their understanding is a big step in teaching kids how to learn. 


                        Tips and Links for Teaching Children How to Learn

~People often ask us what we would have done differently in our homeschool. One of the things I would have done differently is that every child, every year would have done a thinking skills book of some sort from the Critical Thinking Company: http://www.criticalthinking.com/index.jsp?code=c

~Dozens of articles on reading instruction, readability, creating an environment conducive to reading instruction, choosing readers, and much more!http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/search/label/reading%20instruction

Happy July 4th: Review “The American Patriot’s Alamanac: Daily Readings on America”


Happy July 4th: Review "The American Patriot's Alamanac: Daily Readings on America"

Our favorite patriotic “devotional”! Our two sons, ages fifteen and eighteen, asked me to get this back out for this summer’s reading since we haven’t done it for two years now. I LOVE this book. Short readings–about 5 to 10 minutes each, plus “This day in history list” for each day. So inspiring!

You might be familiar with one of the authors, William J. Bennett, from his amazing story collection, “Book of Virtues” (a great read aloud book for families with multi ages of children and even older children!). He has done it again in this wonderful 365 excerpt patriotic book!

If you homeschool, you want this book! If you homeschool and you are doing American history this year, you definitely want this book! 🙂

“American History Parade” pg. 235 (Today in history)

1776 The Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence

1802  The US Military Academy opens at West Point, NY

1826 John Adams, age ninety, and Thomas Jefferson, age eight-three die

1831 James Monroe, fifth US President, dies at age seventy-three

1959 A forty-ninth star is added to the flat to represent the new state of Alaska

1960 A fiftieth star is added to the flat to represent the new state of Hawaii

Click here or on the picture below to get this book!



DISCLOSURE: I am an affiliate for these products that I recommend. If you purchase these items through my links, I will earn a commission, but you will not pay more when buying a product through my link. 🙂



Help for Nursing Students!


When you find something that helps your kids succeed, you just want to pass that along with enthusiasm!

The video set below has been amazingly helpful to our son in his pre-nursing classes. He used them each time he had a practical and an exam in his Anatomy and Physiology classes. It is far more than “another creation science” offering! Ninety bucks is a small price to pay for A’s in our pre-nursing classes.

Note: My husband originally got these to use with his high school advanced biology (anatomy and physiology) classes, but we found them amazingly useful for college studies too!


Charlie Brown Christmas (reprint)

“Linus’ reading of the story of the Nativity was, quite simply, the dramatic highlight of the season.” Harriet Van Horne in the “New York World Telegram” December 1965

Every year our family enjoys reading about Christmas traditions and songs—how they began, what they mean, etc. One of my favorite readings is the story of how “A Charlie Brown Christmas” came about—and continues to bless people today. Read my “story behind the Charlie Brown Christmas” below aloud to your family—then watch the movie (or at least check out the given links from youtube). Have fun!

On Thursday, December 9, 1965 (nearly fifty years ago!), “A Charlie Brown Christmas” made its debut on CBS on television screens all over the United States. Surprising the network executives, this darling Christmas story was an immediate hit. It seems that its creator, Charles Schulz, battled with the powers-that-be at the network concerning the show’s religious content (CBS thought it was too religious) and the kids’ voices (citing that they should be professional actors, not children). Additionally, they felt that Vince Guaraldi’s theme music was too modern for kids’ tastes. (The jazz soundtrack has, by the way, become a classic.)

Rumor has it that through the years it has been suggested that Linus’ reading of the Christmas story from Luke be taken out of the movie. However, forty-five years later, this classic still contains that powerful passage from Luke, those sweet child voices, and that catchy music*—and each year the true story of Jesus’ birth and the reason for the season—is proclaimed via the secular media.

*Note: Parts of the show were removed to make space for more commercials, but the spiritual and sweet parts remain.

Gift of the Magi by O’Henry–Link to Free Read Aloud

One Christmas story that we enjoy every year in various forms—an Adventures in Oddysey radio drama “spin-off” of it; short story in our compilation books; audio of it; etc.—is the O’Henry story, “Gift of the Magi.” It is such a poignant short story of sacrificially giving, something that many of us know very little about in today’s society.

I thought I would probably find it online since it is beyond the “copyright” years and is available in so many books. And I was right! So I wanted to share it with our readers, in the hopes that you will have a short read aloud session with your family—with a lively discussion following! “God bless us, everyone!” (Oh, wrong story…) smile…


P.S. For you homeschoolers out there, this story makes a wonderful “piggyback story” to piggyback off from and write a similar tale. We are adding it to our Creative Writing series! Fun stuff!

Christmas Read Alouds for 10 and Under–With Links and Ratings!

Different ones have asked for more read aloud ideas, especially my very favorites, so I thought I would list them by age (today—ten and under) and by category (i.e. “Bible-related”; traditions; devotional; etc.) with *** by my “very-most-favorite-if-we-only-read-a-handful-of-christmas-books-this-year-this-would-be-one-of-them”! Hope this helps you as you prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ with your sweet children.


***Wouldn’t want to go a Christmas without it


*Good enough for my list! 🙂

Note: I have included “out of print” ones because you can often pick them up used or at the library.

“Bible/Nativity-Related Stories/Retellings”

***Adornaments –different than your typical “nativity ornaments,” which we also have had through the years, this adornaments set is a book with cardboard ornaments containing the names of Christ and a verse on each one to go with that name. I liked doing this with the kids as it connected the nativity story with Christ as our Savior (and more!) too. http://www.amazon.com/Adorenaments-Parenting-FamilyLife/dp/1572292385

***“The Indescribable Gift” by Richard Exley; Illustrated by Phil Boatwright (out of print); this is a beautiful, elegant Christmas picture book with the Christmas story told from the point of view of all the major players: Zechariah, Mary, Elizabth, Joseph, The Innkeeper, The Shepherds, Simeon, and more. A truly lovely book—for up through adults. A chapter out of this a day makes a wonderful advent devotional. http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/3185413/used/The%20Indescribable%20Gift

**”Jotham’s Journey” Arnold Ytreeide; “Over and over Jotham screamed for his family, but there was no one to hear him. They had vanished. He was alone. Where had they gone? How long ago had they left? Through quick, stabbing sobs Jotham told himself, “I must look for my family, I must search until I find them.” And so his journey begins. In this widely popular, exciting story for the Advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem” (CBD Review). http://www.christianbook.com/jothams-journey/arnold-ytreeide/9780825441745/pd/441745/1152561199?item_code=WW&netp_id=533620&event=ESRCN&view=details

**”Bartholomew’s Passage” by Arnold Ytreeide; same type of story as “Jotham’s Journey” but a different child and circumstances. http://www.christianbook.com/bartholomews-passage/arnold-ytreeide/9780825441738/pd/441738?event=AAI

**”Tabitha’s Travels” by Arnold Ytreeide; same type of story as “Jotham’s Journey” but a different child and circumstances http://www.christianbook.com/tabithas-travels-arnold-ytreeide/9780825441721/pd/441720/1152561199?event=AAI

*“King of the Stable” by Melody Carlson; Illustrated by Chris Ellison (not in print); cute picture book about a boy who worked in the stable when Jesus was born; lovely illustrations. http://www.amazon.com/King-Stable-Melody-Carlson/dp/158134032X

*“The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale” by Angela Elwell Hunt; Illustrated by Tim Jonke; neat story about how three trees grew up to be the boat Jesus was on, the manger, and the cross. http://www.christianbook.com/the-tale-of-three-trees/angela-hunt/9780745917436/pd/19014?item_code=WW&netp_id=155456&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“The Singing Shepherd” by Angela Elwell Hunt; Illustratoins by Peter Palagonia (out of print); a cute story about a little singing shepherd boy; http://www.amazon.com/Singing-Shepherd-Angela-Elwell-Hunt/dp/0745930360/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292211682&sr=8-1

*“The Black Sheep” by Elisabeth Heck; Illustrated by Sita Jucker (out of print); cute picture book about a little black sheep who met Baby Jesus. http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/732200/used/The%20Black%20Sheep

*“A King Is Born” by Patricia St. John; Illustrated by Richard Scott (out of print); nice picture book about the birth of Christ; more true to Scripture than many others (i.e. the wise men come when they are supposed to!) http://www.amazon.co.uk/king-born-Patricia-St-John/dp/0862016215

**“Mary’s Treasure Box” by Carolyn Walz Kramlich; Illustrated by Walter Porter; told from Mary’s point of view when she was a grandmother, the cover says, “Beyond retelling the story of Christ’s birth, “Mary’s Treasure Box” creatively shares lessons about Christ gleaned through the objects in a simple wooden box—a bit of straw, wool, flut, and swaddling cloths.” Neat way to tell the nativity story and provide insights into that first Christmas. http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=0849958342&title=&author=Carolyn_Kramlich

*“The Crippled Lamb” by Max Lucado; Illustrated by Liz Bonham; another sweet Christmas story involving a little lamb on the first Christmas; nice illustrations http://www.christianbook.com/lucado-childrens-treasury-childs-first-collection/max-lucado/9781400310487/pd/310480?item_code=WW&netp_id=480026&event=ESRCN&view=details

***“The Very First Christmas” by Paul L Maier; Illustrated by Francisco Ordaz; from the cover: “No more fairy tales for Christopher; he wants a real bedtime story. So his mother tells the amazing and miraculous story of Jesus’ birth. Along the way, Christopher learns the answers to some challenging questions about the Christmas story. And all the answers are right from the Bible. You have selected a wonderful gift for children, families, and friends. Written by best-selling author and historian, Paul L. Maier, and richly illustrated by Francisco Ordaz..” I agree! http://www.christianbook.com/the-very-first-christmas-softcover/paul-maier/9780758606167/pd/606168?item_code=WW&netp_id=316844&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“Mary’s First Christmas” by Walter Wangerin, Jr.; Illustrated by Timothy Ladwig; the Christmas story written in journal form from the view of Mary; lots of good insights and lovely illustrations http://www.christianbook.com/marys-first-christmas-walter-wangerin/9780310222163/pd/22168?item_code=WW&netp_id=109947&event=ESRCN&view=details

***“One Wintry Night” by Ruth Bell Graham; Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson; from the cover: “When a young mountain boy is caught alone in a sudden snowstorm, he takes refuge in a cabin his grandfather had helped to build many years before. The woman living there shelters the boy, attends to his badly swollen ankle, and spends the hours they are snow-bound telling him the Christmas story—beginning with creation and concluding with the resurrection.” This is a remarkable book—one that ties creation with Christmas and Easter! It is lengthy, so will likely take several reading sessions, but the amazing illustrations and deep-teaching-text are worth it! http://www.christianbook.com/one-wintry-night-gift-edition/ruth-graham/9780801013065/pd/013065/1152539202?item_code=WW&netp_id=481521&event=ESRCN&view=details

“Traditions and More” Types of Books

***The ADVENTure of Christmas” by Lisa Welchel; One of my favorite easy-to-read-aloud Christmas books–filled with lots of activities, recipes, etc. about each tradition/entry. I like it more for the one-page-per tradition in easy kid language. I have a lot of books about Christmas traditions and symbols, but this is the best one I’ve found for younger kids. http://www.bookschristian.com/The-ADVENTure-of-Christmas-by-Lisa-Whelchel-book-p/73449.htm

*”The First Christmas Tree: A Legend From Long Ago” by Helen Haidle Illustrated by David and Elizabeth Haidle (out of print); a story describing the origins of decorating with the evergreen tree http://www.amazon.com/First-Christmas-Tree-Legend-Long/dp/080104393X

**”The Legend of the Christmas Tree: An Inspirational Story of a Treasured Tradition” by Rick Osborne; Illustrated by Bill Dodge; another story describing the origins of decorating with the evergreen tree http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Legend-Christmas-Tree/?isbn=9780310700432

*“The Real 12 Days of Christmas” by Helen Haidle; Illustrated by Celeste Henriquez out (of print); interesting and fun for those who know the song; nice pics http://www.amazon.com/Real-Twelve-Christmas-Helen-Haidle/dp/031070118X

**“Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend: by Julie Stiegemeyer; Illustrated by Chris Ellison http://www.christianbook.com/saint-nicholas-story-christmas-legend-hardcover/julie-stiegemeyer/9780758603760/pd/603762?item_code=WW&netp_id=316815&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“The Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy” by Lori Walburg; Illustrated by James Bernardin; sweet, sweet story and tradition http://www.christianbook.com/the-legend-of-the-candy-cane/lori-walburg/9780310212478/pd/21247?item_code=WW&netp_id=131129&event=ESRCN&view=details

“Other Christmas Stories or ‘Set at Christmastime Type Stories”

***“The Christmas Tapestry” by Patricia Polacco; this tale has been handed down for generations and is told in other settings/places/time periods (such as the “Ivory and Lace Tablecloth” in one of our Christmas collections); this is a lovely story; we read it yearly http://www.christianbook.com/christmas-tapestry-patricia-polacco/9780142411650/pd/411650?item_code=WW&netp_id=524629&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“The Quiet Little Woman” by Louisa May Alcott; Illustrations by C. Michael Dudash http://www.christianbook.com/louisa-may-alcotts-christmas-treasury/9781589199507/pd/99500?item_code=WW&netp_id=283266&event=ESRCN&view=details

***“A Christmas Treasury: The Children’s Classic Edition” Illustrated by Christian Birmingham; from the cover: “Celebrate the magical Christmas season with this enchanting pageant of beloved classics that have earned their place as holiday favorites. This yuletide collection features Louisa May Alcott’s vision of holiday spirit in “Little Women’s A Merry Christmas,” “The Night Before Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” and much more.” Beautifully illustrated—this is a lovely book. Hard to find Christmas “collections” for this age group with classic stories too (and not all contemporary mouse and reindeer stories); love this collection for this age group! http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Treasury-Childrens-Classic/dp/0762411384

**“The Candle in the Window” based on a story by Leo Tolstoy by Grace Johnson; Illustrated by Mark Elliot; lovely and heartwarming (out of print) http://www.amazon.com/Candle-Window-Grace-Johnson/dp/0800718151

**“The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomy” by Susan Wojciechowski; Illustrated by PJ Lynch; amazingly heart warming story and awesome illustrations; http://www.christianbook.com/the-christmas-miracle-jonathan-toomey-with/susan-wojciechowski/9780763636296/pd/636290/1152540236?item_code=WW&netp_id=509874&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“A Child’s Christmas at S. Nicolas Circle” by Douglas Kaine McKelvy; Illustrated by Thomas Kinkade; illustrations are beautiful (of course!); story is well-written and heartwarming http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0849958830?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0849958830&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Thanksgiving Book Review: “Liberty B. Mouse Goes to a Party” (Reprint)

One of my favorite Thanksgiving picture books is a simple little paperback book called “Liberty B. Mouse Goes to a Party.” It is one of a few about Liberty B. Mouse. Young children love this re-telling of the first Thanksgiving—since it’s through the eyes of a mischievous mouse!

I have such fond memories of reading this story to all of my children—especially the part where Liberty sneezes a mouth full of corn and butter he is eating right into the campfire only to have some of the kernels “pop”—the first popcorn!

Can’t promise that either of the titles is available—but I found some used ones online, and many libraries have them.

“Liberty B. Mouse Goes to a Party” by Pauline C. Peck is available used at http://www.amazon.com/Liberty-B-Mouse-Goes-Party/dp/B001R96S0E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1290656094&sr=8-1-catcorr

The second one, which is also very cute, “Liberty B. Mouse Comes To America,” is a classic retelling of the traditional Thanksgiving story through the eyes of a Mayflower Mouse. It tells the whole story of the Mayflower journey, the long winter, and the first Thanksgiving in simple terms that the young children can understand while still being interesting enough to the attention of older kids. It’s no longer in print, but is available at Amazon