Mythology for Rising 4 Year Olds

We are reading Story of the World, Volume One. By chapter 3, the children are already introduced to mythology. I’ve had some friends question how to deal with talking about mythology with such young minds, so I thought I’d share how we do it.  

Firstly, I’m working really hard to make sure Jesus is the heartbeat of our home by:

  • Reading a Bible chapter during dinner time.  We started with Matthew, and now we are in Acts
  • We started weekly devotions this year, as a part of our character-building activities. We do 1-2 of these each week
  • We say grace
  • We pray together – this includes confession, thanks, praise and requests
  • We listen to praise music together
  • Micah’s night time music is this lovely set of songs from Rita Baloche from a cd called ‘Bless My Little Boy’
  • We are memorizing scriptures and learning the books of the Bible in order
  • We constantly relate our actions, thoughts and words back to what God says
  • We don’t do too much television in our home… We control our inputs

Secondly, as I’m reading the parts where the author is naming mythological gods, I simply say the truth. For example, ‘the Egyptians made up stories about why the Nile delta flooded. They didn’t know God yet. God would have been angry that they were calling someone else God. That’s so silly. There’s only one God.’ Or ‘the Egyptians thought you had to embalm a body to save it, and send it into the earth with all this stuff. Good thing our God is the only One, and better than these fake and weak Egyptian gods. Boy that was a lot of work they did for no reason!’ All the while, my son is giggling with me and adding to what I’m saying with what God thinks about their actions. Finally, I often insert the word ‘fake god’ right before the author names a mythological god. 

It’s that simple to remain faithful to the truth while teaching on a topic that doesn’t align. Just keep relating back to the truth, and keep it fun. History should be fun, right?

As a bonus, after we read the first section of chapter 4 tonight, called ‘making mummies’, the following song popped into my head so we listened. It just so happens that this song goes perfectly with this part of chapter 4. Coincidence? Nah, I’m sure God was being intentional. Here is the song.

“How Great Is Our God”

The splendor of a king

Clothed in majesty

Let all the earth rejoice

All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light,

And darkness tries to hide

And trembles at His voice

Trembles at His voice
How great is our God – sing with me

How great is our God – and all will see

How great, how great is our God
Age to age He stands

And time is in His hands

Beginning and the end

Beginning and the end
The Godhead Three in One

Father, Spirit and Son

Lion and the Lamb

Lion and the Lamb
How great is our God – sing with me

How great is our God – and all will see

How great, how great is our God
Name above all names

Worthy of all praise

My heart will sing

How great is our God
Name above all names

You’re worthy of all praise

And my heart will sing

How great is our God
[3x]

How great is our God – sing with me

How great is our God – and all will see

How great, how great is our God

  

The Gift of a Mother and Sister

The gifts of a mother and sister are endless

They hang leis of wisdom on their necks and readily give them to you

They serve food to you first and blessed the food with their love 

They give grace away like pearls on a necklace, one following the other

They may not share blood with you but they are in the middle of your tribe

You may not always understand each other but you were always saying the same thing, because you speak the same language

You mirror each other in movement and expression

The whole Earth is too small to divide you because you carry each other around in your hearts

The Gift of a Mother and Sister

The gifts of a mother and sister is endless

They hang leis of wisdom on their necks and readily give them to you

They serve food to you first and blessed the food with their love 

They give grace away like pearls on a necklace, one following the other

They may not share blood with you but they are in the middle of your tribe

You may not always understand each other but you were always saying the same thing, because you speak the same language

You mirror each other in movement and expression

The whole Earth is too small to divide you because you carry each other around in your hearts

Character Building for Rising 4 Year Olds: Making Character Lessons Come to Life

Having strong character is a big deal in our home. We do one focused lesson a week on character, in addition to daily Bible reading and ad-hoc ‘teachable moments’ that arise on the daily anyway. I love ‘the Virtue Bible‘ as a reference point – a resource to which a good friend introduced me.

Our character lesson this week is contentment! Contentment is ‘accepting your situations’. 

I have to get creative and think of ways to keep my very active rising 4 year old interested in our character lessons. In this picture, we are popping bubbles for the things we know we must accept in life – this is a ‘contentment walk’. Micah named things he wished could be different but he has to learn to accept, like ‘not being able to drive’, ‘not watching shows,’ and ‘chop down trees’. We took turns naming things we know we have to accept, and popping bubbles for each one.

  
Right before we left the house, we defined contentment, I offered some examples to make sure he understood, and we read these following passages:

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”

‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/2pe.1.3-4.nlt

“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep. There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭5:10-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/ecc.5.10-20.nlt

Last week we discussed compassion. Compassion is having and showing care or concern for any one who is struggling or suffering. We did the same thing last week: defined the character trait and came up with ways to make it real. When I see examples of when we need more compassion, or are displaying compassion nicely, I point it out. We discuss what God probably thinks about the situations and actions we observe. Now we can add contentment to our ‘character watch list’.

These examples are how you build character in children. It happens slowly, but with purpose, over time. Let’s not forget the most important thing here: walk the talk too. Your children will sniff out a fake like a policeman’s German shepherd. Demonstrate unshakable godly character yourself, at all times. When you make a mistake, offer a sincere apology, and then seek forgiveness from God. Look for redemption and restoration in your own life, and make yourself always searchable for the sincere truth of situations. 

All your life lessons and object lessons always should be brought back to trying to see things through the eyes of God. How do we know what He thinks? We search His Bible, and we pray. He makes Himself plain to know, to those who ask.

Building godly character is more important than most of our other educational topics, by the way. If I had to sacrifice other lessons to pay attention to building godly character, I would. You will have to make choices in your home too, about the order of priorities and how you spend your and your children’s time. Remember, when your kids are young, it’s your job to ensure their salvation and steward their time. Do so with wisdom.

Character counts!

Seriously Scientific: Science with Rising 4 Year Olds

seriously scientific

My husband is a scientist, and I have a deep appreciation for the topic, especially nature studies. Science is a priority in our home. Part of our vision statement for children between ages 18 months and 5 years old includes science: “Science: observations, experiments, nature studies, exposure to laws of nature and general science”.

Many curriculum for this age group would list getting to know the animals around us as important for this year of life, such as classifying or naming farm animals, zoo animals, jungle animals, and things in the ocean… you get the picture. You probably did this in their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year of life. But as kids are becoming 4 years old, as they are ready, also develop the skill of scientific thinking and smart observations. I mean, really, how interesting is it to moo like a cow for 3 years? Kids get bored. Feed their hungry and curious brains more. Let me take you beyond naming and classifying animals.

In school, you may have felt punished by the miscalculation of equations in your chemistry lab, which is really a math struggle not a science struggle, and missed the point – not praising you for ‘scientific thinking’ would be the failure of the teacher. While part of science is absolutely the correct calculation of figures for accurate observations and conclusions, what matters is your understanding of the logical flow of thought:

  • I notice something
  • I have a question about it that stems from my curiosity
  • I imagine what answers may apply, whether from deductive or inductive reasoning
  • I test my answers one by one to see what’s the most accurate
  • I look at the outcomes and draw conclusions about what I saw
  • I form an opinion, and tell someone about what I discovered
  • I start over again with a new observation and question

You can hone your math skills as you go along.  That is the simple version of the scientific method.

We aim for 1 experiment a week, and we practice observing nature almost as often as we are outside. There is a Science Experiment template I created for my kids – you can download them here:

There are a few tools we enjoy, though none of them are perfect or whole. I recommend you pick up a simple ‘experiments book’ if you have trouble thinking of experiments on your own. Here’s one we got for free: Gizmos & Gadgets: Creating Science Contraptions That Work (& Knowing Why) (Williamson Kids Can!). It’s actually way too advanced for a 4 year old. We just explain the concepts in a way he can understand them, and we help him with the experiments.

There’s also a class on Coursera, a website and app with free online learning, called Tinkering, where “activities provide a powerful way to inspire students’ interest, engagement, and understanding in science”. This class is where science meets engineering. Micah’s father is going to help him go through this class. It will take several months to half a year to complete, versus the allotted 6 weeks the course instructor recommended. This is fine. We remember more by doing a deep dive, versus just skimming the surface. This kind of mastery is a great habit to get into… the fact that when we learn, we learn for comprehension, memory and application, not only memory alone.

We do nature studies. You can download a free nature journal curriculum here. Of course, this too, is too advanced for a 4 year old. I simplify it by using the curriculum as a prompting tool for myself, to find questions to ask Micah while we are out together. Today, we went to Tinker Park, and I helped him notice things along the way. We allowed plenty of time to stop and ‘smell the roses’, if you will. We looked at the clouds and thought about what shapes reminded us of, such as an upside down dog, a sheep, and a bear. We found a swallow’s nest and watched the mother feed the babies. We found lily pads and flowers, frogs and bumble bees. There’s so much to take in, really. We talked about how God made seeds in different ways to be transported by air, in animal fur, or to be eaten and ‘deposited’ (haha) somewhere else. There are times we will look up more about what we find when we get home. For example, when we went to Corbett Glen Park, we found some critters, so I printed up some information which we read about during nap/ quiet time:

  
When you’re studying animals, it’s fun to classify them into their kingdoms, learn where they live, try to make a model with clay or other media, listen to them, act like them, learn how they communicate, watch them, see what they eat, care for them, feel them if you can, learn about their life cycle and how they care for their young, compare and contrast with animals you already know about, measure out how far they can jump and try to jump the same distance, or make a life-size paper animal and paste it on your wall to see how your own body size compares. One great way to learn about animals is to get a pet, but seriously consider if you have the time, space, money and love to really give them a good life. If you’re not sure, maybe you have a friend who will ‘lend’ you their pet for a day or a week. We always discuss the animal’s purpose in the grand scheme of life, and that God created each one.

I have this journal composition book I love, with space for pictures at the top, and writing at the bottom. Every couple months I go back and see what Micah’s ready to draw and say, and we add to the book. I always date the pages and make notes around his drawings, pointing to things he said he drew so when we look later, we know what he was drawing.

We discuss the laws of nature, like gravity and inertia, friction and tension, kinetic and potential energy, plus magnetism and hydrophobic or hydrophilic principles. Some of these words are too big, but by repeated exposure, he understands what they mean.

We love our local planetarium, and science museums. We go often and spend time in just a few areas, really learning more versus less, before moving on. Of course, I only do any one thing to his capacity for attention.

We also find things to put under a microscope. We found a dead fly in our house this week. Ewe. But we put it under the scope, and it was fascinating. Then we compared the fly’s compound eye to our regular eye, and looked at some videos of how flies see, versus how we see. We learned they perceive things at a much faster rate than we do. This is also why older adults think time flies faster as you age. Pardon the pun.

  
We have a telescope, so we look at the night sky when it’s clear outside. We make constellations out of food and toothpicks, and love the ‘Skymap’ app. We read about the planets, and look at pictures about galaxies, discussing why and how God worked to create all of this around us. We made a constellation model using a drill, an old coffee can, and a flashlight.

We discuss the water cycle when it rains, and how storms form. We watch things fall, and see what sinks and floats. We have an anatomy app, called VisAnatomy, so he’s learning the names of muscles, organs, and bones, as well as parts of the brain, and more. He has a chemistry rug, so he is becoming familiar with names of elements too. My philosophy on this, is to be familiar with the sounds of the words, and when and where they apply, so later, it doesn’t feel like a foreign language, which was part of my own challenge with learning chemistry.

We enjoy these sites:

“Science” can overwhelm you and feel stuffy. Don’t let it. What I’m trying to do by explaining how we do science in our home, is just to show you how simple it can be. Let your child’s eyes lead the way as much as you can. Be curious beside them, and help them research and learn about what they find. Use your library’s World Book Encyclopedias, and just explore a little each week with as much outdoors time as you can handle. Talk your child through scientific thinking. “What do you observe?” “Why do you think that happens?” “Let’s read a little about it.” “Has your opinion changed at all, do you still think…?” “How can we test that thought?” “What happens if we do this…?” “What did you notice?”

So there you have it. That’s how science happens in our house, as experientially as possible. This free-flowing approach is probably considered a mix between ‘unschooling’ and unit studies.

 

 

 

History is no mystery: Homeschooling History to 4 year olds

History is no mystery

There are so many ways my old history teachers took the joy out of learning history… like empty memorization, for example. I’m glad I get to rediscover it with Micah and Kade.

I would like my sons to get to the point where they are able to talk about how different persons, groups and nations, with certain agendas, took action and influenced others to make choices. And then understand how those choices impacted others. I also want them to consider what alternative routes they could have taken, and what that would have done to the course of history as we know it now. I would like my sons to also weigh those choices and actions in the balance of what God might have thought about them, based on what we know about His character and plan for humankind as well.

I want my sons to understand how music, culture, food and identity develops and influences people, and how people live in other nations now and in the past. I want my kids to understand how the great geographic and socioeconomic divide drives people to do certain things, and how we impact the well-being of our physical Earth – this includes globalization and global warming, for example. My sons will learn we do not live in a silo. They will learn how rich of a land is America, and what our humble responsibility is among nations. They will learn how natural resources are limited, and how those natural resources impacted the wealth of nations over time, and how human innovation and memes changed lives too. Lastly, how policy and government can create liberated money-creation vehicles, or stifle people into submission until they revolt.

In short, my sons will become thinkers and philosophers through their understanding of history. Now, that’s a hefty goal, and what human can put that on a public school history teacher? It’s unfair. But it is fair for a homeschool family.

Where do we start?

We start at the beginning of time with Creation. We don’t make up stories, and we don’t deviate from the truth.

I’ve found a great way to make history accessible to rising 4 year olds is with the book “The Story of the World” but Susan Bauer. I’m reading it to Micah, so we can stop and discuss what we’re reading as we go.

In addition, we’re also making a accordion-style timeline binder. This one was simple: http://www.halfahundredacrewood.com/2012/06/keeping-timeline.html

Anytime we learn about a composer, artist, war, person, event, scholar, etc., we will add the appropriate picture to the timeline.

If we find things we can ‘make’ into an art project, or cooking, music, dance, etc., we do that too.

We are also memorizing the timeline song from Classical Conversation to take advantage of the natural ability to memorize at this age.

This is how we are starting our foundational learning of history. We will also ask comprehension, what-if questions, and add to our vocabulary. This, and the reading of the Bible everyday, 1 chapter a night, will start us off solidly in our love of history. This way, history will be no mystery.

Moving the boxes: clutter-free life for people fighting laziness

One way I’ve found to keep myself organized is to keep 3 boxes around. One at the bottom of the stairs, one at the top, and one by the door to outside.  

 If I consistently put things that don’t belong in that space, in the box to go downstairs, upstairs, or out the door, and take a box with me on each trip down, up or out, and empty the box accordingly each time, there’s no big pick up at the end of the day.

So here’s one recipe for success:

  1. Keep a box at each ‘landing spot’ in your house. A landing spot is a place you or things when you’re too lazy or busy to constantly run them back to their home right away. Your box should be pretty, because you’ll have to look at it.
  2. Each time you move around your home, if there are things in the box nearest you, take it with you and put stuff away right away.
  3. Throw trash out immediately.
  4. Leave your car empty everyday. Don’t let dishes, clothes, snacks or other miscellaneous items linger there.
  5. Train other household members to move the boxes and put things away too!
  6. No excuses! Move the boxes even when you feel tired.
  7. Follow the one-in-three-out rule. You will break this rule, so generally, just make an effort. When you bring something else into the house, get rid of three items. This rule doesn’t of course apply to humans, even if you feel like it sometimes… Haha!

Now if I could figure out how to follow my own advice all the time…

Or you could just put stuff away… Haha!