Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A New Year Cometh

This article originally appeared in the Pitter Patter newsletter of my MOPS group in January 2000.  We were facing a new year, a new decade, a new millennium.  A few things have changed over the the last 11 years, so I have updated a few spots in [brackets] and in color.

It is strange to think that not only were we raised in a different century from our children, but a different millennium. And certainly this is a different “age.”

The age of technology is upon us. My three year old has already mastered her “preschool” computer program. She can click her way through the screens as well as mom. Mom never touched a computer before junior high and then it was the one computer in the whole school for “kid use” – a TRS-80. It worked off of cassette tapes somehow. Sounds like ancient history.  [Okay, so this really is ancient history, my now-teenagers are playing games over the internet with friends in other neighborhoods, took their driving test online, use Google instead of a dictionary or an encyclopedia, and rapidly assimilate new physics apps on the iPad.]

In the “good old days” my brother and I spent Saturday mornings glued to the TV set with such questionable fare as Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and Pepe LePew. They [child psychologists and parents] worried at the time about us not understanding why the coyote did not get hurt when he fell into the canyon. My children are not allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons due to violence, bad language, bad attitudes, poor adult role models, and new age doctrines that are not hidden, but openly displayed. And forget regular daytime/ nighttime TV too. The coarse humor, overt sexual relations, and the “selling” of the homosexual lifestyle have made this hobby a thing of the past for my family.  [The main TV show my children have grown up with is Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition which is now about to go off the air!  We were pretty good about keeping TV limited to that one hour a week, with "safe" videos thrown in here and there.  With some new digital TV stations, this year my kids have branched out to Batman (Adam West), Get Smart and Hogan's Heroes.  It has been fun watching them get a kick out of all the oldie goldies.]

School was a safe place for children to go and learn when I was growing up. Our children will find that a laughable statement. A teacher could hug you and love you like a surrogate parent. Now they are afraid to brush against a child for fear of lawsuits.  [This year alone, I have heard of 8 kids hit by cars at their bus stops, 2 bus drivers who went to battle with students on their buses, a bus driver that wouldn't let a parent board, teachers and principal who fell into the pits of pornography, sexual abuse, and cheating with and for their students.  Bullying continues to sky-rocket even with all this "tolerance training."  We opted instead for the last 10 years to homeschool.  Our homeschool isn't perfect:  we are behind in some things.  But, my children know the Lord, they tend toward kind and respectful, and we know each other.]

[I wrote this article BEFORE the events of 9/11...just think of how that one event affected our lives.  Airport security; field trip tours to the dairy, the newspaper, and other interesting places; bag checks at theme parks,  and so much more!]

Doctors used to know you and your family and your history. [Uh, let me know if you can find one of those near me.]  Restaurant and grocery store employees used to be friendly and competent.  [Not to be rude, but if the power goes out, nobody knows what to do.  There is no way for a cashier to tally up your groceries (they are not visibly marked anymore) even if she is able to do the math.  I have noticed with the recent recession that workers are tending to be happier in having a job and working harder to keep them.]

This new society begs the question, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” The answer, however old-fashioned, is still “By keeping it according to Thy word.” (Psalm 119:9)

How can we best help our children in the New Millennium? By teaching them God’s Word from the Bible and giving them God’s standards for living. Maybe they won’t fit in with their generation. I pray they will not.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Road Trip!!!

We need a long road trip!  That's how I felt when I listened to The World's Greatest Stories as told by George W. Sarris.  We LOVE to listen to CDs while traveling, especially fun and exciting stories!  Mr. Sarris' versions of Daniel in the Lion's Den, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal and all the others really fit the bill.

In reality, you don't need a long road trip to enjoy these stories, although each volume is approximately one hour long, most are generally broken into five stories so you can start and stop in ten to fifteen minute increments.  The BEST thing about these stories is that they are word-for-word from the Bible!  You can get King James (my choice) or NIV versions.  The NEXT BEST thing is that Mr. Sarris uses a wide variety of voices (his own) and sound effects that help grab your attention and keep it.  As your child listens, they aren't getting a watered down or fictionalized version of the Bible -- they are chewing on the real Word.  If you listen over and over, I'm sure you and your child would soon have many parts, or even whole stories memorized.  Currently, there are 6 volumes of is what you can get for only $7.95/each volume.

Volume 1 = The Prophets
The Blazing Furnace
The Handwriting on the Wall
Daniel in the Lion's Den
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
The Prophecy of Jonah

Volume 2 = The Life of Christ
the Real Story of Christmas
The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
The Healing of the Blind Man
Things Jesus Said and Did
The Real Story of Easter

Volume 3 = Beginnings
In the Beginning
A Lame Man in Lystra
A Jailer in Philippi
The Story of Ruth
The Raising of Lazarus

Volume 4 = Joshua & Esther
The Battle of Jericho
The Book of Esther

Volume 5 = Joseph & His Brothers

Volume 6 = Defeating Giants
David & Goliath
Namaan the Leper
Micaiah the Prophet & Josephat the King
The Sacrifice of Isaac
Gideon & His 300 Men

There is also a series of CD messages on homeschooling dads, dating, impacting our culture, and more for only $4.95/each.  You can find those here.

The narrator, George W. Sarris has some pretty impressive credentials.  He has worked commercially in New York as the principal spokesman for radio and TV commercials for Burger King, Duracell, Pizza Hut, Sprint, UPS, Honda and others.  He has a Bachelor of Science in Speech and a Master of Divinity.  He has served on the staff of the Mass Media Ministry of Campus Crusade.
These stories are aimed at ages 4 and up, and I think would be enjoyed by everyone!  I have teens, so they smirked a little at first, but later I overhead them quoting bits of the story back and trying to imitate the voices!

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was provided the World's Greatest Stories:  the Prophets, Volume 1, KJV version, plus a Sampler CD free of charge in exchange for an honest review.   For more TOS reviews of this and other products, click here.  I hope you will check out this series of stories and invest in them for your family.  Truly one fun way to meditate on God's Word!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Flinging Fun & History!

From Alexander the Great, to World War II, to current-day "Punkin Chunkin" contests, catapults have been favorite weapons of war and tools for fun for a loooong time!  Pitsco brings catapults and trebuchet siege machines into your home and classroom as a history lesson, a science lesson, and an all-round fun time!

When the Pitsco box arrived, my then-12-year-old son took over with glee.  He opened the package to find a booklet telling him all about the history, "science, technology, engineering, and math of medieval siege machines."  After an introduction into the history and safety in the use of the catapult, the 32-page booklet covers topics like tension and torsion, mass vs. distance, metric conversion, calculating averages, elasticity, experimenting with rubber bands, gravity and levers, prediction (math), force & motion, and more.  For several experiments, there are charts to fill in for scientific testing.

Okay, so being a boy, and mostly kinesthetic at that, the book was soon pushed aside a bit and my son began to build the thing!  He found the catapult to be easier than the trebuchet.  The instructions and pictures for the trebuchet were harder to understand.  But, with some help from Dad and a bit of perseverance, both weapons of mass destruction were together within hours (spread over a couple of days).  The siege machines really work and my son was soon pelting clay missiles at things and having a grand time.  Soon, we will be going back through the book and filling in the head knowledge more completely.

This kit would be a great accompaniment to your medieval (or other history) lessons.  You end up with sturdy, usable weapons/toys and a sense of accomplishment from self-building.  The lessons are based on the standards of the National Science Teachers Association, International Technology Education Association, and National Council of Teachers of Math.  This kit is aimed at grades 5 through 12.

You can see what the catapults and trebuchets look like here.  But, Pitsco offers many other curricula and products you might enjoy...If you want to encourage a budding engineer, architect, scientist or math whiz, be sure to check out their other offerings on their website store.

The catapult and trebuchet go for $10.95/each and the Siege Machines book is another $3.95.  You do want the book!  If you are hosting a co-op, you can get reduced prices for groups of 10 ($8.39) or 30 ($7.67).  Or you can get a package deal with the catapult, trebuchet and Siege Machines book for $21.95 which includes the weights for flinging!

If you really want to go indepth, Pitsco also carries a more expensive package that includes all of the above, as well as two in depth teachers/curriculum guides that provide another 20+ hours of teaching materials for each kit.

I was provided the Catapult and Trebuchet kits, plus the Siege Machines book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  I honestly think your hands-on, science-types will love them!