The Days Are Long, but the Years Are Short

Grandad and Anna (4)

We all have moments and seasons that we look back on and wonder how we made it through. Enjoy one of my Facebook posts from a decade ago…

I found a journal from 2004 – Moms – you need a laugh… I had a made a list of all the “toddler trouble” Anna got into in one week.

The Setting: Rachel is one month old. Estera is 1 1/2, Anna is 3, and Isaac is 5.

Anna’s Top 20 for the Week of May 5th 2004:

1. Anna mixes ice-cream, sprinkles, popcorn and cat food.

2. Anna plays with a slug until she kills it.

3. Anna gets baby out of swing all by herself.

4. Anna glues paper to the floor.

5. Popcorn dumped all over floor.

6. Anna & Estera put celery in the potty.

7. Anna dumps Wheat Chex into bath tub.

8. Anna makes art with peanut butter.

9. Anna cuts her hair.

Remnants of an experiment…

10. Anna spreads glue stick all over.

11. Anna dumps the chalk twice and eats it.

12. Anna paints and colors everything but the paper.

13. Anna sprinkles poppy seeds all over the house.

14. Anna goes bug hunting.

15. Anna sneaks off with a plate of spaghetti, and decorates house with it.

16. I look out the upstairs window to see diapers scattered all over the roof – Anna?

17. Anna sneaks away with the popcorn popper and knocks over a large glass container, shattering it all over the laundry room.

18. Anna removes ink stick from a red marker. Anna fills a container with water, adds the red ink stick, makes red water.

19. Anna spills red water all over the house.

20. Anna gets the ice cream, all by herself.

What was I doing while Anna was making all these messes? I was nursing baby, homeschooling Isaac, recovering from birth, and cleaning up glass, wheat Chex, peanut butter, glue stick, chalk…

The saying is so true…”The days are long, but the years are short!” Cherish each moment you can. Today, Anna is a beautiful, talented, inspiring young woman. You will survive, and they will thrive. Stay faithful, mom friends!

See this post for some survival tips! See this one to read an update on Anna today!

Mom-School Art & Logic Therapy

The Four Sisters and the Chocolate Chip Cookies

Anna and the girls, 2017

(from Sarah’s blog archives, dated 10/13/2013)

I love to make up stories that teach little lessons to my children.  Here is one of their favorites, that they want to hear over and over.

Four Sisters and the Chocolate Chip Cookies

There was once a family with four sisters.  The oldest girl was about eleven her name was Lily.  Next was Lucy, she was eight.  The six year old’s name was Seashell, and the toddler’s name was Daisy.

One morning their mom woke up early to bake chocolate chip cookies for a Valentine’s Day party. After the cookies came out of the oven she started making breakfast.  The smell of the cookies filled the house as the daughters woke up one by one to wander into the kitchen.

Lily came into the kitchen first.  She saw the big plate of cookies on the counter, warm and yummy.  She saw her mom at the stove cooking breakfast.  “Good morning mom! Are these the cookies for the Valentine’s Day Party?  They look yummy!”   She didn’t ask for a cookie because she knew that she would have some at the party; besides she didn’t want to spoil her appetite for breakfast.  Her mom smiled, and told her they would be leaving for the party after breakfast.  

Lily was helping her mom set the table for breakfast when Lucy came skipping into the kitchen.  “Mom! I want a cookie!  I NEED a cookie now!”  Her mom stopped stirring the oatmeal and explained that breakfast was almost ready, and she could have cookies at the party.  “That’s not fair, why do I have to eat oatmeal?  I want a cookie!  All the other moms give their kids cookies before breakfast!  Why can’t I have a cookie now?”  The mom didn’t give in, and Lucy had to wash the mixing bowl, sweep the floor and and scrub the cookie sheets, and every time she complained her mom gave her another job. It wasn’t long before Lucy quit whining about the cookies.

While Lucy and her mom cleaned and cooked in the kitchen, little Seashell peeked around the corner. She could smell the cookies, and now she could see them.  She was in the other room when she heard Lucy throwing a fit.  She really wanted a cookie but was afraid her mom would say “No.” Seashell took a look around the kitchen. When no one was looking, she snuck quietly into the room and grabbed six cookies, hoping no one would notice.  Once she had stolen the cookies she dashed into the bathroom, hid in the bathtub and ate everyone of those cookies. The first four were really yummy, but the next two gave her a tummy ache.  She wasn’t so sure if she would feel like going to the party after all.

Rachel, 2012

It was almost time to eat breakfast when little Daisy toddled into the kitchen. She saw the cookies and could not resist. Before anyone could stop her Daisy reached up to grab a cookie, but instead of taking one cookie Daisy grabbed the whole plate!  All the cookies came crashing to the floor–what a mess!  Smashed cookies were everywhere, all mixed up with the broken glass from the shattered plate.  

Lily rushed into the kitchen, picked up Daisy and carried her out of the room so she wouldn’t step on the glass.  Daisy was crying, but then she noticed that she still had one cookie in her hand, that’s when she stopped crying.  Lily helped her mom make another batch of cookies, but there were no more chocolate chips, and they were late to the party.  Most of the family had a lot of fun anyway… well everyone except Seashell, who felt so sick from all the cookies she had stolen that she couldn’t enjoy all the fun, games and treats at the Party.  

After I tell this story to my girls I ask them what girl they want to be like, and everyone of them tells me that they want to be like the big girl, Lily.  Then I ask them what girl they usually act most like, and they shyly confess that they usually act like Lucy and sometimes even like Seashell. This story always gives me a chance to teach them about the stages of growing up, becoming more mature, and developing self discipline, patience, and self control.  I tell them how it’s normal for little kids to whine, sneak and make messes but big girls need to know how to make good choices.  Then I will ask them if they want to pray and ask God to help them become more like Lily.  This lesson has proved to be very powerful and effective in their little lives.  

Dycalculia and Math Craft!

While most people are familiar with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia is much less well known. It relates to the ability to understand math and to properly identify numbers. Sometimes folks call Dyscalculia Math Dyslexia. While the two have similarities, Dyscalculia impacts things such as the ability to differentiate between concepts like biggest and smallest, remembering math facts, estimating time, judging distance, retaining numbers, and more.  Children may outgrow Dyslexia- this is rarely the case with Dyscalculia. Those with this learning challenge need to develop skills to properly process and understand math. 

Dyscalculia Statistics

The official numbers state 6%-7% of the population has Dyscalculia. Experts estimate it could be closer to 15%-20% because it is often overlooked. Teachers may think a child is struggling to understand a concept when in reality they have a learning disability. It’s not as easily diagnosed as Dyslexia because of the wide range of progression of math skills among children. Countless adults have spent a lifetime thinking they were bad at math when in reality, they needed to be taught a different way. 

Creation of Math Craft

After Dyslexia Games took off and gained popularity, we started getting requests for a Dyscalculia therapy program. Parents were seeing some Dyscalculia improvement and wanted something deeper. My Mom, Georgia, and I started working together to develop Math Craft.

We developed a series of hands-on games, tactile lessons, abacus work, and logic games like Dyslexia Games. They were tested on my 15 children as well as dozens of children with Dyscalculia. Children stopped counting on their fingers, retained math facts with ease, and were able to understand math concepts for the first time.

The creation of these games has involved extensive testing and research. We wanted them to be effective and fun. They engage the brain in a relaxed state through the games. This removes any mental blocks a child (or adult) may have to math. When we’re having fun, we’re able to learn easier. 

Math Concepts Covered

At the time of this writing, we have five Math Craft books. They are:

  • A-1 covers quantity, matching quantity to numbers, numbers and their numerical symbols, and basic addition with no counting required. 
  • A-2 focuses on addition up to ten without needing to count. 
  • A-3 begins introducing subtraction.  
  • A-4 introduces double-digit addition and subtraction, carrying borrowing, and numbers up to 20 and beyond. 
  • B-1 is for basic multiplication and introduces skip counting.

We suggest all children start with book A-1 unless they have a strong foundation in addition and subtraction and do not count on their fingers. Then they can start with B-1. Children who have a strong addition foundation can start on book A-3, most will need to start with book 1.  More Math Craft materials will come in the future. 

Let’s Talk About Gameschooling!

Who gameschools with their funschool?

Who would like to see what fun, award winning, educational games from SimplyFun would pair well with your funschool journals?

I am having a GAME PARTY and YOUR INVITED. Click here to join:https://www.facebook.com/groups/1092241268046471

Best Books for Big Families

Do you have three or more children? Congratulations. You are outnumbered! 
Here are some of the best books for busy moms! Be inspired with PRACTICAL ideas on how to manage a home full of children, and ENJOY IT! These books were chosen because they all give you tips and fun ideas about how to love your kids, without losing your mind! All written by experienced parents, who consider every child a blessing! 

1. Back to Basics: Raising Self-Sufficient Children
http://www.amazon.com/Back-Basics-Raising-Self-Sufficient-Children-ebook/dp/B003XVYHES

2. Windows to Our World: Sarah’s Journal
Growing Up, Crossing Oceans, Finding Love 
& Giving Life to 10 Children  
Kindle:www.amazon.com/Windows-Our-World-Crossing-Children-ebook/dp/B00PBDOTLM
Paperback:www.amazon.com/Windows-Our-World-Crossing-Children/dp/1502510111

3. More Hours in My Day
http://www.amazon.com/More-Hours-Day-Emilie-Barnes-ebook/dp/B005WWN6HU

4. The 5 Love Languages of Children 
http://www.amazon.com/5-Love-Languages-Children/dp/0802403476

5. Loving Our Kids On Purpose: Making A Heart-To-Heart Connection
http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Kids-Purpose-Heart—Heart/dp/0768427398

6. A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising a Large Family
http://www.amazon.com/Womans-Guide-Raising-Large-Family/dp/1423604512

Make this stack of books YOUR Christmas Wish List!  Just share this blog post with your husband, mom, sisters and friends! 

Have you read any of these books yet?  Write a review here for any of them! 

Free Kindle Reading App – Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers

11 Simple Games for Mixed Groups of Children, Ages 2 and Up

QUESTION: “We have 14 children in our small group and we try to come up with different games or activities for them when we get together at parks or at homes. You have worked with a lot of children throughout your life. Are there any fun games you can share with us? 

ANSWER: I love games that can be played anytime you need a fun and spontaneous activity for little ones. I also love games that build skills, character, and relationships.  Here are 11 of our favorite “Anywhere Games” that children Ages 2.5 and up really love. None of these games require much planning, reading, or small game pieces, so you can play them anywhere and anytime you need to entertain children of all ages.  The most you will need is a pencil, paper, and stuffed animal or toys that you already have.  A few of these games can be played with no props at all, just imagination and conversation.

1.     What do you like best?
Little Children love to ask questions, and they love to answer questions too.  So we made up a game where we take turns asking questions that help us get to know each child better, and we laugh a lot! 

To Play:  I ask the first question: “Joseph, what do you like best: Bubbles or Squirt Guns?” 

He will give his answer, and then it is his turn, and he will ask someone else in the group his question: “Anna, what do you like best planets or watermelons?”  Then Anna will ask another child “What do you like best lunch or breakfast?”  Then that child will ask another child a question: “What do you like best cookies or cake?”   “Green or Blue?”  “Trees of Flowers?”  “Snow or Sand?”  This game is endless. You may need to tell the kids the rules, we only have on: No Potty Talk.

2.     Should We?
 I made up this game for Joseph to help him to learn right and wrong, and to make good choices in a variety of unexpected situations. This game can also bring lots of laughs! Once again it is a game of questions. My kids love to come up to me and say “Let’s play Should We!”

To Play: Just ask questions to make your child think about the right thing to do in an interesting or everyday situation. Sometimes the kids will enjoy making up their own questions.

“Joseph should eat someone else’s cookie?”

“Should we play in the road?”

“Should we eat dirt?”

“Should we eat carrots?”

“Should we put the cat in the bathtub?”

“Should we hit little babies?”

“Should we help mommy sweep the floor?”

“Should we make cookies with grandma?”

“Should we put cookie dough on grandma’s windows?”

3.     Family Questions (You can play this with any group, the kids love hearing the answers that the adults give too!)

We usually play this conversational game at the dinner table.  With a family of 11 this one can take a lot of time.  It also helps everyone to get to know each other.  Once again it is a Questions Games. 

To Play: Mom or dad usually asks the first question, and everyone takes turns giving their answer.  We usually only get through 3 questions at a meal.  One Rule: No “Yes or No” questions.

We ask questions like these:

“What would you buy if you had $20?”

“What country would you go to if you could go anywhere?”

“What is the most beautiful animal?”

“What do you think we should have for dinner tomorrow?”

“Name one important thing you should think about before you marry someone?”

“If you could have any super power what would it be?”

“What is something you like about the person to your right?”

4.     Drawing on the Ceiling
My husband plays this game when he tucks in the kids at night.  He points to the ceiling with his finger and draws a picture or writes a letter.  The kids try to guess what he is drawing.  They all take turns drawing a picture.  They can give clues like “This is an animal.”

5.     What Animal is It?
My kids love learning about animals, and happen to know the sounds of many interesting and exotic creatures.  All we do is take turns making an animal’s sound and the first one to guess the animal correctly gets to go next.

6.     What Comes Next?
Like most parents, we read the same stories, sing the same songs, and repeat the same rhymes and Bible verses over and over with each child.  Once the words of the story or verse are familiar to the child I will  give the child a chance to finish each line. Children ages 2 to 5 love this. When you are teaching or entertaining a group of children use this activity when telling a story or memorizing a verse.  With older children you can increase the number of words for them to fill in until the child can recite the entire verse alone. This works well for groups, because the children can all shout out the missing words together. 

“For God so loved the _____________.”

“Mary had a little _________.”

“How much is that doggie in the ______________.”

“In the great green room there was a telephone and a red _______________.”

“Jesus Loves ____ This I ________.” (click here to continue reading)

Sarah’s Mom Tips: Teaching the Littles

When my littlest girls were 2 and 3, they loved getting hold of the older kids Fun-Schooling journals, and helping me with Mom School. I made several Fun-Schooling journals for my preschoolers. It doesn’t matter if they color well, or write letters yet. It’s a chance to become familiar with words and letters and numbers with no pressure. It’s fun. And they learn simple skills.

One thing that is most important at this age is your example. So color and work together in their journal. They can’t write letters yet, but they can watch you do it and learn from your example. When you work in the journal it’s a chance for conversation about colors, numbers, animals, letters, sounds… feelings…

Learning at this age is all about play, exposure to vast learning experiences, exploring their world, and asking questions.

It is also essential that you show an example of reading, writing and calculating so they will have an understanding that these skills matter. When you are doing things on your phone you might as well be playing Candy Crush. Read books and magazines, write real notes and letters. Use a Mom School journal. Talk about recipes and include them in the kitchen and garden.

Learning isn’t about desks and workbooks… the world is your classroom.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – Prioritizing ALL the Things!

As you plan to Fun-School a child under 10, don’t feel like you need to do everything on your list every day.

Listen to your child and watch for what brings them joy. You will learn what subjects and topics your child is passionate about, and those are the ones you should do every day and spend more time on (if the child wants to spend extra time researching their favorite topics).

Many teachers focus the most on the child’s weakness and problem areas. I do not focus more than 20 minutes a week on the problem areas – if the lesson or activity burns them out. If reading is a struggle, I use Dyslexia Games, but only 15 minutes a day – unless they want to do more. Usually they like Dyslexia Games, so it isn’t a struggle.

If math is a struggle, use games, calculators, and our new book 100 Numbers.

If they seem confused when trying to learn math, stop using a memory approach and teach then the WHY and HOW of numbers. They may need time to mature to be able to grasp new concepts. Children need to understand, not just memorize.

Make a lot of time for play, curiosity and discovery.

Children who are entertained constantly, over scheduled, or are addicted to gaming have a lot of issues. You can avoid MANY problems by making sure your child has time to use their imagination and PLAY without constant electronic stimulation. Kids often opt to be entertained. Boredom is okay and leads to innovation.

Healthy children often can’t sit still for more than 20 minutes at a time. They are wiggly by design, children need to move their bodies while learning.

If there is a topic or book that you want to use that they don’t enjoy, you can let it go OR do the work together OR you do it while the child watches you do it.

Make sure your child watches you write – in print and cursive, that’s what the Mom School books are for.

Feel free to use audio books in place of reading, so the child can learn on a higher level.

Throw out anything that makes your child miserable when trying to learn.  Try the fun and joyful methods.  If there is no fun and joyful way to learn, you may be dealing with a maturity issue.

Kids on sugar may seem crazy and out of control.

Kids who do not sleep enough may seem moody and out of control.

Kids who see adults fighting or are exposed to violence on games and movies may seem depressed and unmotivated to learn.

Kids who text all night are often lazy all day. Is your child sleeping with a phone?

Find your child’s passion, and feed it.

It is good for kids to learn to research. Research is an awesome skill that is learned best when a child studies their passion.

Some of most important things to teach your children involve:

1. Reading

2. Research

3. Relationships

4. Responsibility

5. Resourcefulness

6. Rest & Reflection

Put first things first. Outline your goals for each child and help them grow in the things that really matter.

Ignore anything on this list that you don’t agree with, this is my method, and may not be right for your family.

Sarah’s Mom Tips – How to Inspire Your Child to Learn to Read

My girls 7, 9 and 10 are all using the same Reading and Research book. It works great for all of them because the ten year old recently learned English, the nine year old has symptoms of Dyslexia and the seven year old just wants to do what the bigger sisters are doing. So she tries to keep up.

I don’t worry much about reading before age 9. The longer they play the better! When my children start asking me “Mom, how do you spell…?” That’s when I know they are ready for reading. When a child is ready to learn to read it’s so easy to help them.

When it comes to learning to read there shouldn’t be a struggle. Dyslexic children and creative kids struggle because we are trying to teach them too soon. Dyslexia Games helps prepare the mind for reading and writing without stress, and helps to teach reading in a self directed way that works for creative kids.

Still, sometimes the brain just isn’t ready for the job of reading before age 9 (for some it may be age 11, kids who learn to read late tend to be very artistic and creative.)