Learning to read…

Posted by Annie on Sep 9, 2016 in Education

Kindergarten – which means “garden for children” in German – is not kindergarten anymore. It’s yesterday’s first grade, or even second. Kindergarten’s academic standards are dramatically more rigorous than even a decade ago (“find textual evidence”; “read texts with purpose and understanding”; “distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ”). [I Don’t Want My Son To Read In Kindergarten by Jessica Smock.]

My son certainly wouldn’t have been ready for public kindergarten either.  Oh, not because he couldn’t read.  But because from the very beginning, my child had a mind of his own. Anything he wanted to learn, couldn’t hide from him.

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We provided our son will the things he would need, we took what I like to call a multimedia approach to his education. We used the Hooked on Phonics for about a month, my son liked the cards.  He loved any kind of flashcards.  So, I punched holes in them and made a ring out of them.  He played Reader Rabbit.  We kept the closed captions on the television.

I even had an art easel in the garage, I would write one letter each evening.  When my son woke up, he head out to see what a had written.  Sometimes, he’d copy it, other times, he would leave me a letter.  We covered the entire house with post it notes.  We would play games with them.  We had so much fun.

We didn’t worry about teaching him to read. When he was 18-months, I thought he could read already, because I could take a dozen black VCR tapes and he would match them with the covers.  He hardly even looked at them.

He finally decided to learn to read, because he wanted to play a video game and refused to spend more than half an hour playing.  It had a lot of reading in the game. When he complained I made a deal with him.  We would put it up until he learned to read, but then he would be allowed large blocks of time to play and complete his mission.  It took him two weeks.  I was amazed, he was 4.5 years old, and he did it himself with the tools we helped him create.

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I Don’t Want My Son To Read In Kindergarten

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Encourage the exploration of history!

Posted by Annie on Aug 20, 2016 in Education, Young Authors

When I was a child history was something that happened a long time ago, what could it possibly have to do with today. I’m sure many of you have discovered as I have that the future is intertwined with our past.  Patterns emerge because governments have developed a pattern of operations.

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In case you were wondering, our government is a hot mess and while they can collect all the data in the world, it takes time and money to analysis the data. I think half the time they are bluffing the citizens with their show of power and might. It’s important to understand our past so that we can understand where we are and what to expect in the future.

I would encourage you to explore the holocaust, there are some really good diaries that just might convince your boy or girl that history isn’t all that boring. I made sure I exposed my son to:

  1. The Hiding Place  — The book is good but I love the movie, do consider watch it.
  2. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl  —  A beloved classic since its initial publication in 1947, this vivid, insightful journal is a fitting memorial to the gifted Jewish teenager who died at Bergen-Belsen, Germany, in 1945. Born in 1929, Anne Frank received a blank diary on her 13th birthday.

  3. The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna  —  Nonna Bannister carried a secret almost to her Tennessee grave: the diaries she had kept as a young girl experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust. This book reveals that story.

  4. Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor’s True Story of Auschwitz  —  This is the story of a woman who spent about seven months in Auschwitz and survived to tell the tale. She wrote this book shortly after her ordeal, while her horrific experience was still fresh in her mind.

  5. Alicia  —  After losing her entire family to the Nazis at age 13, Alicia Appleman-Jurman went on to save the lives of thousands of Jews, offering them her own courage and hope in a time of upheaval and tragedy.

You will find so many really good books out there on the holocaust. Encourage your children to explore history from all angles.

"Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Here are some excellent movies. These are among my favorite that I enjoy watch time and time again.

  1. Miracle at Midnight  — I’ve only seen the movie.  A family helps their neighbors escape the Nazi’s.
  2. Jacob the Liar  —  In Nazi-occupied Poland, poor Jewish cafe owner Jakob Heym (Robin Williams) accidentally overhears a forbidden radio news bulletin. Jakob invents fictitious news bulletins about Allied advances against the Nazis. These lies keep hope and humor alive among the ghetto inhabitants. [Read the book]
  3. The Devil’s Arithmetic — The film proved to be the most riveting and attention-holding movie I can ever recall showing. In it are contained superb acting, eerie (and effective) musical interludes, and a suspense of time-travel that will hold teenagers absolutely spellbound!
  4. Hidden in Silence —  Przemysl, Poland, WWII–the city comes under Nazi control. The Jews are sent to ghettos. Catholic teenager Stefania Podgorska (ER’s Kellie Martin) sneaks 13 Jews into her attic.


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Passing on the skills of life.

Posted by Annie on Feb 24, 2016 in Education, Seasonal
English: Homemade White Bread with Strawberry Jam.

Homemade White Bread with Strawberry Jam.

I just love that people are finally appreciative of homemade items.  There was a time when it was considered old fashioned, and thrifty but certainly not preferred.

I made some strawberry jam recently. It was a project well suited to my needs. It didn’t require a lot of my time but it was a slow process that I could do at my leisure and that was important. The recipe I used required the heating and cooling of the jam over a three day period and requires no added pectin, which is important to me because our family is avoiding GMO’s.

Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam  –  This old fashioned strawberry jam recipe was amazing. It was so easy to make, and had a perfect texture. Plus it doesn’t use Pectin!! Did you know you don’t need to use pectin in homemade jam making? Neither did I until now. Pectin isn’t necessarily bad for you but I would way rather make it the old fashioned way and let the natural pectin in the fruit do the work. Plus I prefer a softer jam to a more gelatinous one.

How to Make Low Sugar No Pectin Strawberry Jam Recipe  –  I don’t know about you, but homemade jam that contains more sugar or as much sugar as it does fruit, just doesn’t sit right with me. I want my homemade strawberry jam to taste like strawberries, not a bucketful of sugar. Not only is this low sugar strawberry jam recipe healthier, it’s also much more frugal without pectin from the store and loads of sugar.

Three Day Strawberry Jam  –  The method simply involves simmering the strawberries in an equal weight of sugar to release the juice and then leaving it on the stovetop. Then on the second and third day doing the same but on the third day you pour it into jars.

These recipes are all great tasting and can be used over pancakes, with peanut butter for sandwiches, on English Muffins, it’s great on top of ice cream, in smoothies…

If I could buy decent food I would, but it’s much safer these days to can or freeze your own food. I am literally canning and freezing something all the time.  I make my own mayo, and my own bread, jams, minced garlic, and salsa, there is always something to going on.

The kids will find so much to do and if you keep the periods short and pleasant the memories will stick, and you will have taught a new generation how to care for itself and their loved ones.  I am so thank that my grandmother took the time to teach me.

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