Easter: Resurrection Eggs

I have three children, and at the time of this post they are ages eight (boy), six (girl), and two (boy).

A friend asked me the other day if we do any kind of Easter devotions, and I said, “No, not really.” But then another friend mentioned Resurrection Eggs.  Oh yeah, we do those. I forgot.



Then I remembered we usually also do Resurrection Rolls. And sometimes, a Passover seder dinner. And occasionally, dye Easter Eggs. Though I guess that’s not a devotional activity, but it’s a fun Easter activity.

It’s just that Easter sneaks up on me every year, and I end up pulling things out of our spring box in the pantry the weekend before Easter. I never feel prepared. Nonetheless, here are some of our favorites.

Yesterday was Thursday before Easter, and I needed an activity for my toddler’s “Busy Box,” something to keep him busy while I worked with my daughter on counting. (She was in the bathtub, so we drew chalk dots on the wall and practiced counting by tens up to 100. Highly recommend Math in the Bath. The kids don’t even realize it’s school.)

Anyway, I pulled these out for my eight-year-old to do with my two-year-old. It was great. My eight year old had to read the chart, tell the two-year-old what color to get out, and explain what it was, thereby reviewing the Easter story. My two-year-old was reviewing colors, learning about Jesus (maybe, not sure if he really got that), using fine motor skills to open and shut eggs, and playing with his big brother. It’s so nice to have big kids sometimes. It was so sweet to see my older son patiently explaining to his
baby brother, “No, buddy, that’s light purple. This is dark purple.” Precious.
(Things aren’t always so serene around here, so I really took notice. There’s a lot of screaming that goes on too. This was a good moment.)

We might go over the Resurrection Eggs again at dinner one day this weekend or next week (sometime it ends up being after Easter, but that’s okay), and really explaining each one, or having the kids see if they can explain each one. Some years my husband or I have read the Easter account from the Bible.

Anyway, this is a super-easy, fun activity that can be as involved as you want it to be. You could do one egg a day leading up to Easter if you were so inclined. I got these at Mardel and it’s not too late to get them this year, or I bet they’ll be on sale next week after Easter.  Have fun!

I was going to find a good Resurrection verse, but this is the one that was on Bible Gateway just now, and it’s perfect for today, Good Friday.  Isn’t that great? I think we’ll memorize it. We’ve been having severe fighting issues lately and could use some reminders of brotherly/sisterly love.

“This is how we know what love is : Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16


Chapter Book: Winnie-the-Pooh & Boxcar Children

“I hate Winnie the Pooh!” was my son’s comment when I told him I was putting in that CD at bedtime. He’s eight, you know, and he’s way too old for such babyish things. But, that was before he heard it.



This is the real thing, the original from A.A. Milne, not a watered-down Disney version.  A friend recommended this audio version to me and it’s great! The British actors are just perfect for the voices and it cracks the kids up!

I tried Pooh before, and it was always over their heads. I think age 6-8 is just about right to understand that world of childhood that Milne describes, and to actually get the jokes. I know I tried it earlier with my kids, like ages 3-5, and they had no interest whatsoever. Anyway, I bought this on Amazon, but maybe your library has this version.  Here’s the
link for the info
. Judi Dench and Stephen Fry are two of the narrators.  I also really like Milne’s book of poems Now We are Six, but I can’t find my copy currently. I think my kids are at the perfect age for it, so I need to go figure out what I did with it!

I’ve requested  These Happy Golden Years from the library, but haven’t gotten it yet, which is fine with me because I’m feeling a bit ambivalent about Laura growing up and getting married. Laura! You were just a five-year-old sitting on pumpkins in the attic in Wisconsin! You can’t get married yet! So, while I wait on the library copy and adjust to the passage of time, we also started The Boxcar Children.

I’ve been feeling neglectful of my children lately, and missing that snuggly reading time. Every time I tried to get everyone to cuddle up on the couch, my toddler would start squirming around, cracking skulls, flinging himself off the back of the couch, and lots of other really restful, peaceful activities. So, I’m going to try to have a thirty-minute Tea Time with my six- and eight-year old during the toddler’s nap time. Yesterday it went really well and we read four chapters of The Boxcar Children. They were begging to keep going!

I’m trying to get my eight-year-old son hooked on a series of chapter books. I don’t think he’s quite ready for the Hardy Boys or my dad’s old Tom Swift; I don’t really love the Magic Treehouse series, though I know many do; so maybe this will be a good one. We’ll see. Any suggestions for good boy books are appreciated!

In other news, can I show you the cutest thing ever?

Rainbow socks. My two-year-old likes to wear them as knee socks. And, in order to see their stripey-stripeyness, we must roll up his pant
legs so he can see them. Very Important! And, it turns out, I love the whole ridiculous outfit! Those chubby knees poking out are just begging to be gobbled up. I think I’m dressing him in lederhosen from now on.  You think I’m kidding.

I haven’t discussed this with my husband yet, but I’m sure he’ll be on board.


And, look at that baby! Doesn’t that make you
want to just buy some red knee socks and go backpacking in Austria with your
kiddos? Sigh.

Spring really makes me want to live in a mountain village in the Alps. Or go on a train ride through the misty English countryside. Does this happen to other people? Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to just stay still.

Have a lovely rainy spring break, friends!

How to Adapt a Lesson (Spelling / Phonics Hopscotch)

You know those days when your weekly lesson plans just aren’t going to happen? A child wakes you up by puking into your bed and you need to go to the doctor; your sweet husband might, for once in his life, have something he’s asked you to do and since he’s virtually ignored (ahem) you feel compelled to do it; or, like today at our house, it might be such a beautiful sunny day that you don’t see how you could possibly suffer doing school inside.

I know discipline is important, I do, but sometimes I just have a hard time doing our boring old book lesson when the birds and the plum trees are singing to us. Usually we can be a bit flexible and still cover the material. One of my friends said once, “Oh, sure, easy for you to say. I have no idea how to do that!” Really? I thought everyone did this. But, other things come more naturally to her, things like, say, keeping a clean house or cooking dinner. To each her own.

I thought I’d share sort of the thinking behind this particular day. And I’d like to know, how do you adapt the lessons at your house for sun or snow?

Step One: What is the material we need to cover? Today with my second-grader, it was a spelling test. Normally, we do one spelling word list per week (this is the A Beka Spelling and Poetry book), and a test on Thursday where he writes the words down.  This lesson was a bit tricky— the difference between “au” words and “aw” words–so the orange sheet was a little extra practice at which words go in which column.








Step Two: Where are we going to be? 

Outside. I wanted to do something outside. It was sunny and beautiful today. So, how could I teach the material outside? I decided to make chalk squares with the letters inside.



The idea was: I would call out the spelling word and my son would jump on each letter in turn. We started out with he and his five-year-old sister holding hands, but then of course the two-year-old wanted to join, and things got a bit tricky. So we switched to them taking turns.

I called out a word, “Cause” and my second grader would jump on the letters to spell it out.  Then, of course the other two were left out, which brings us to . . .

Step 3: How can my other children be involved in something similar?

For my kindergartener’s turn, I called out a simpler word from the list, “Paws.” That was still a little too hard because of those tricky au/aw sounds. So we went to just letters. I’d say “Puh” and she would jump on “P,” then “ssss” and she would jump on “s.” Then, that was a bit too easy, so we made it a bit trickier by adding short/long vowel sounds. She’s been working on that lately.

Long I and Short I

So, I’d say “ih” and she’d have to figure out which letter to
jump on (short i). Then, she wanted me to throw a rock on one, and she’d jump on it and
make the sound, which was great too.
My two-year-old mostly ran around jumping on things. When I wanted to give him a turn, I said, “ssss for curvy curvy s!” and took him over to jump on it, and we all clapped and cheered while he beamed to the crowd. You’d think he just won an Oscar.

Can I just point out our shoe style? We managed to get to library story time and back before any of us noticed my little buddy had on mismatched footwear. But at least he had them on, and he did it himself!

This is the other great thing about doing school outside—basketball.
My little guy ran off to play basketball while the other two finished up their spelling/phonics lessons. Lovely. And, really, that’s school for him too, isn’t it? Large motor skills, eye/hand coordination. Perfect.

So, that’s how we adapted our lesson for outside today. The other times I’ve found it very helpful to adapt a lesson from a book are:

  • When a child isn’t getting a concept, ex. Fractions. We back off the books and go to Krispy Kreme and cut donuts into fourths, get a pizza and talk about
    eighths, etc. Approaching the same material in a new way really seems to help.
  • When my son (usually) is having trouble sitting still or writing. Especially
    writing. We have done math and spelling orally, jumped on the trampoline while
    spelling out words, and written letters with wet sponges instead of pencils.
  • When we have to double up on lessons. This week for example. I have two spelling lists to cover this week, so by turning one test into hopscotch, I might, might have avoided a mutiny when I announce another spelling test in two days. Last fall we doubled up on math lessons (because we switched to Saxon and needed some extra lessons to get caught up to their way of doing things), but I tried to make one lesson into a game, or hands-on activity at dinner time.

Anyway, this is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling, isn’t it? We can adapt  lessons to fit our children, and enjoy the lovely spring weather as well!

I’d love to know (once I tell people about this blog): How have you adapted lessons to fit your children or your day?

Chapter Book: On the Banks of Plum Creek

  The Ingalls family has settled in Minnesota now, living in a dugout house, then in one with real wood boards! We listened to 2/3 of this driving to Oklahoma City and back for Capitol Day on Monday, and now the kids have finished it! They listen at night on CD, so I am always a bit behind, but I only have a few more chapters to go.

Oh my goodness, the understated courage of those people! Laura Ingalls Wilder is a magnificent writer, maybe my favorite. She calmly lays out the facts in her heroic prose, showing us Ma’s quiet courage and strength in the face of grasshoppers, blizzards, missing husbands, and droughts. She doesn’t hit you over the head with something, sometimes she doesn’t even say it, she just tells what the characters do and you get it. Some of my favorite understatements of the year from this book:

1. “A couple of hundred miles don’t amount to anything!” he said. – This is after the grasshoppers eat the entire wheat crop, Pa has no money to pay back what he borrowed for the house, and he has to walk 300 miles to find work to get enough money to get the family through the winter, all in his falling-apart boots because he gave his last $3 for the church bell. I mean, really. And we complain when someone cuts us off in traffic?

2. Then Ma said, cheerfully, “We have to take care of everything now, girls. Mary and Laura, you hurry with the cow to meet the herd.” – This is after her husband just left, walking, to find work, and she is left alone with her three children on the grasshopper-ravaged prairie. By herself. With no Wal-Mart down the road, and no way to even get into town.

3. She [Ma] warmed her hands, and then she lighted the lamp and set it on the window sill. “Why are you doing that, Ma?” Mary asked her, and Ma said, “Don’t you think the lamplight’s pretty, shining against the snow outside?”  – Um, yes, and also, that way it makes a light for her husband to see if he can find the house in the raging blizzard that is going on outside. Pa ends up burrowing into a snowbank and surviving until the blizzard is over and makes it home. (But Wilder doesn’t tell you this, she shows you. You get the feeling of being the mom, trying to be cheerful to not worry her children.)

My goodness! What fortitude those people had! So good for my children to hear, to realize how easy they have it. I love this pouring of truth and beauty into their hearts. That’s what any great book should do. We talked about this very thing at my last book club, and I think this is one requirement for a great book, for me anyway, that it makes you want to be a better, stronger person. And if it can show you someone as an example, all the better.

I love my children hearing how Laura struggled not to cry (with her only doll torn apart and her father gone) because it was “shameful for an eight year old to cry” and hope a bit of that sinks in. Not that they can’t cry, but my children tend to cry if someone looks at them the wrong way. We can do with a bit more stoicism around here. Laura and Mary bravely bring in the woodpile before an approaching blizzard while their parents are gone, and they have to, otherwise they will “have to burn up the furniture, and maybe even then will freeze stark stiff.” Sheesh. And my kids complain when I make them eat beans.

If you’ve never read On the Banks of Plum Creek, get it! Get it today! Get thee to thy library website, request it on CD, and listen to it the next time you get in your car! It’s one of the best.



How Chores Build Children’s Character and Brains

You probably know that giving your children chores teaches them responsibility and is good for your own sanity, but did you know it actually helps develop their brains?

Crafts and educational projects are fine, but your children can probably learn just as much by helping you clean the house.

Read the rest of my guest post at ICanTeachMyChild >

How to Help Kids Sit Still: Let them Move

This is a fantastic site I just found from  a link on thepioneerwoman.com. Loren
Shlaes is a Manhattan-based “pediatric occupational therapist specializing in sensory
integration and school based issues, particularly handwriting.” In this post she’s discussing how vital it is for kids to move. I’ve read a lot on this topic, and have found movement to be so critical for my son. I LOVE her commonsense, practical advice.

“The only way for children to be able to mature and develop their nervous
systems, improve their motor planning, strengthen their core muscles, and
maximize their balance and coordination, all of which are vital to learning and
attention, is through movement. Do you want your young child to excel? Forget
the enrichment classes, which I consider a waste of time and money, and take
him outside. I’m not talking about Saturday morning soccer practice. I’m
talking about going to the park, playing on the swings, slide, merry go round,
teeter totters, playing tag and statues, having a catch, playing Frisbee,
messing around in the sandbox, climbing on the jungle gym, making snowmen,
sledding, skating, roller blading, swimming, riding a bike or scooter,
hopscotch, jumprope, etc.

In order to do and be their best, children need a lot of unstructured time to
play outdoors. They need to be able to coordinate themselves with their heads
and bodies in all kinds of different positions and situations.

If your child has a hard time sitting still, try this: give him lots and lots
of intense exercise and time outside every single day, drastically reduce
screen time, make sure he gets plenty of sleep, and minimize sweets and
nutritionally empty foods, substituting whole, fresh, organic, unprocessed
foods. Turn off your electronic devices when you’re with him and give him your
full, undivided attention. If you’re nervous about not giving him all the
enrichment classes, here are some ideas: play lots of classical music at home,
read to him regularly, provide craft activities, and do things together as a

Read the whole article here.

Chapter Book Review: Little House on the Prairie / Family Song

This time around I’m not actually reading the book. We listen to the audio book on CD while snuggling in Mom & Dad’s big bed before the kids to go their own beds.

Last night we started The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My son sort of remembers this from a few years ago, but it’s all new to my five-year-old.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books are possibly my favorite chapter books for children. The first is Little House in the Big Woods, and the second is Little House on the Prairie. Either one of those books would be good choices for an introduction to Wilder.

These books have lots of adventure–panthers, bears, wolves, trips in a covered wagon, Indian visitors–told through the eyes of a little girl and steeped in America’s history. Don’t be afraid to skip over some of the “boring” parts — the long descriptive passages – and get back to the story. (Those parts are interesting for historical purposes, but probably not to a five-year-old.) Also, you may need to edit some parts of Ma’s reaction to the Indians. You could just cut some out or, if your children are old enough, talk about her attitude and why she was afraid and how the Indians might have been just as afraid of the white people.

The other reason I think these are great books for children is they teach courage, gratefulness, and respect in a way that many modern books do not.

Family Song

Each night we sing a hymn or song together as a family, usually just the first one or two verses. The kids do their best and we all learn it together. After a few months we switch. Our Family Song right now is “Trust and Obey.”

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey
No there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus
Than to trust and obey

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.