Online computer games for pre-readers?

Our older girls spend a bit of time nearly every day doing certain school subjects on the computer: html lessons, PhotoShop tutorials, typing, even Bible reading.  We have also found some highly educational and entertaining games along the way.  You can find links at the bottom left sidebar under Fun & Games.

But I haven’t found any really fun & educational activities online for pre-readers, specifically 4yo Rachael.  Some are fun, some are educational, but very few are both.

Since she would really love to do school on the computer like her sisters, I told her I would put the question to our readers: Do you know something I don’t?  What are you favorite educational online games/activities for little ones?

The Need for Proper Communication

We cleaned out the shed last Saturday and found a couple of my old school papers.  This one brought back memories!

Back when I was 17, Dad and I were having a debate over some forgotten topic.  I was frustrated and felt he was misrepresenting what I had said.  “But that’s not what I meant!”  His reply was one that I thought I heard far too often: “Really?  Well then, I want you to write me a paper…”  As usual, he provided the title, and I did the rest.

Here is the result, which I typed up on Dad’s new-fangled word processor nearly 20 years ago.

The Need for Proper Communication

by Kimberly Brown

March 21, 1990

What is the need for proper communication?

The dictionary defines communication as “the imparting of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing or signs.”

Though oration (i.e., communication by speech) requires some additional skills, communication in general is simply the application of reading and writing, two of the three basic skills taught in education.  Without a proper education it is nearly impossible to communicate well.  Without an instructor capable of effective communication, it is just as hard to acquire a good education.  However, with a good education and some effort, almost anyone can learn to communicate well.  Since communication is both a prerequisite to and a result of education, the two might be considered mutually dependent.

Now we know by definition that communication is the interchange of ideas or information, but the question remains: Why do we need to be able to communicate effectively?  That could best be answered from the Scriptures: First Peter 3:15 say, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that lies within you.”  Similiarly, the Psalmist declares that he will “speak of the testimonies of God before kings and will not be ashamed.”  [Ps. 119:46]  Surely a witness before either peers or royalty should have at his command the ability to skillfully reveal the basis of his faith.

One called upon to defend his faith would do well to take as an example the apostle Paul.  Being a lawyer, Paul’s profession was communication.  In this he excelled, and he eloquently answers for his own faith and exhorts others to similar faith many times in the book of Acts and in his letters to the churches.

Since God has blessed us with a written revelation, it seems our duty to develop to the greatest possible extent our ability to understand, act upon, and transmit the information contained in His Word.  The Great Commission demands communication; To go back even farther, how could we more effectively subdue, replenish, and have dominion over the earth.  Acquiring a good education would better enable us to understand God’s revealed will and the workings of the world around us.  Remember, only through another’s ability to communicate can a person obtain an education.

Inseparable from today’s education crisis is the appalling state of communication in America.  The average “literate” American can hardly complete a grammatically correct sentence, let alone employ the tools and skills required to express himself clearly.  But it hasn’t always been that way; The literary works of early America witness to a different approach to education.

The widely used McGuffey Readers put great emphasis upon such unheard-of skills as articulation, accent, enunciation, inflection, and careful pronunciation; the speed, quality, pitch and force of one’s voice; and proper expression and rhythm in reading both poetry and prose.  All this came as the child was learning to read, not later in courses for especially motivated students.  These skills, in addition to a wide vocabulary, the ability to connect thoughts smoothly and flutently, and basic arithmetic all combined to form what was then considered the most rudimentary education.

As the early Americans must have known, the best way to improve communication is through practice.  Compositions, essays and reports were frequently required and were often presented orally.  Although this is still practiced to some degree, in many cases the teacher’s own ability to communicate is so inadequate that he or she cannot intelligently criticize the student’s work.

The solution is in the home.  Both the reasons for and methods of communication must be taught from the beginning.  President Lincoln is said to have begun with the Bible as his textbook, and he is legendary for his talents of communication.  Defense of the faith and spreading the Gospel are together one lifelong duty presenting a need for proper communication.  That ability must be developed and exercised throughout life, from the first words uttered to the last.

‘One Thing I Love’ in 50 words

I love to draw animals, mostly horses. I like drawing because I can study God’s creation better. Drawing is something that you can never stop learning. Anyone can learn to draw of they want to. Horses are  fun to draw. I usually draw just the top half of their body.

– Lydia

This post is part of this week’s Homeschool Kids Write project. Go see more!

Fast & easy treasure hunts for young ones

Hubby is working today with the 4 oldest children, so I’m home with just the 5 middles/littles.  To add a bit of excitement to the day, we did 2 fast and easy treasure hunts.

The first was for the non-readers, 4yo Rachael and 2yo Perry.  8yo Natalie helped set this one up.  For this sort of hunt, each item needs to have a specific home, and the hunter needs to know where it belongs.  This hunt is most easily set up backwards.  Don’t bother to plan – just wing it when you do one of the these, and trust that the logistics will work out.

Just take an item from its home and hide it where it doesn’t belong.  Grab a second item from the place in which you hid the first, and do it again.  Here’s how we did ours:

The Put-it-away Treasure Hunt

  1. Grab a hairbrush from the hairbrush basket, and leave the prize in its place.  This is where the hunt ends.
  2. Put the hairbrush in the lego box and take a lego.
  3. Put the lego in the fridge and grab a bottle of Dad’s hot sauce.
  4. Put the hot sauce on the DVD shelf and grab a DVD.
  5. Put the DVD in The Boy’s dresser drawer and grab a pair of his underwear, even though he’s not in underwear yet.  He will be thrilled at the excuse to handle them.
  6. Put the underwear in computer cable drawer and grab a cable.
  7. Put the cable in Noah’s ark and grab the lion.
  8. Put the lion in the silverware drawer and take a butter knife.
  9. Put the butter knife on the canned goods shelf and take a can of corn.
  10. Put the corn in the hunter’s hand, and stand back!

Obviously you can vary this for your household, adjust the difficulty for different children, and leave a small treasure at each step, every other step, or just the end.  This was a lunch hunt, so we left a bit of food with every clue: 1/2 of a pbj, 1/2 of a banana, etc.  There was a starburst candy at the end for each hunter.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that our 2yo knew exactly where everything went.

Here’s what I set up for 7yo Becca and 8yo Natalie.  They took turns reading clues aloud (sneaky school).  If I wanted to spend more time I could make the clues longer and more cryptic.  As it was, we just had a few quick minutes of fun.

Again, it’s not necessary to plan extensively.  Just write up a handful of clues.  They can be indoors, outdoors, or a combination.  Keep one clue to kick things off.  Place each succeeding clue in the destination hinted at by the previous clue.  Hide it more or less thoroughly depending upon the craftiness and determination of the hunters and the amount of time you want to kill.

Here are the clues I used today:

Easy Reading Treasure Hunt

  1. Check the internet for your first clue.  (give this to the hunters; next clue goes somewhere near the computer)
  2. I’d like a hot drink.  Will you get a coffee cup?  (next clue goes where the mugs are kept)
  3. Bethany needs some fresh clothes (next clue goes in Bethany’s dresser drawer)
  4. Would you please warm up my coffee? (next clue goes where coffee mugs are kept)
  5. Somebody needs a diaper change.  Please bring me the wipes.  (next clue goes where the wipes are kept)
  6. You look tired.  You may take a nap on my bed.  (next clue is hidden under my pillow)
  7. Where do we keep the trash bags? (next clue goes near the trash bags)
  8. What a nice day to sit on the deck and swing! (this was the last clue: I put a box of instant pudding on the swing)

When they finished their hunt, Natalie and Becca carefully read the instructions on the instant pudding box and mixed up a treat for the 5 of us.

Moon landing footage

Feel free to tell me if you have reason to believe the video isn’t authentic, unless you believe the conspiracy theory. Then I reserve the right to laugh at you.

If we can assume that it’s real, I’m forced to admit that surfing the internet is educational.

A fun tidbit from Wikipedia:

After re-entering the LM [lunar module], the hatch was closed and sealed. While preparing for the liftoff from the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin discovered that in their bulky spacesuits, they had broken the ignition switch for the ascent engine. The ascent engine had no switch to fire. Using part of a pen, they pushed the circuit breaker in to activate the launch sequence. Aldrin still possesses the pen which they used to do this.

Giveaway of the week

update:this drawing has ended. Watch for the winner to be announced on Friday and another drawing on Monday.

Don’t hold me to this, but I’d like to start doing a weekly giveaway.  I’m going to kick it off with the obvious choice:

Remember I posted about it here?  There was a free download of a full track, so check it out if  you missed it.  And my friend Mother Hen has another full track that you won’t find anywhere else on the web.

Now you can enter a drawing to win the full album!


Just go to the Vision Forum website and look at the list of 100 animals included in this fun new album.  Then come back and tell me which one you’d most like to hear.

On Friday, I’ll announce a winner who will receive the album for free – but to make it even more fun, I’ll post another free download of the most-picked animal from the entries.  That way, everyone’s a winner!

free download:

And now, here’s one more to whet your appetite: one of my favorite zoo exhibits, the hippo.  Not many animals can balance cute, dangerous and disgusting as well as the hippo.

Now, can you hear the TV announcer’s voice?

but wait! there’s more!

Remember my friend Mother Hen?  Go see what she has for you this week. Hint: it will go very nicely with what you found here.  And the comments on her post are sure to be a hoot!

Knowing history in light of Psalms

I don’t know history. At least, not as well as I should. As I read through Psalms, I have to conclude that we let ourselves off the hook far too easily. If we know the names and some of the major accomplishments of the founding fathers of our nations; if we know most of the important dates of the last couple of centuries; if we can converse intelligently on current events – then we are tempted to think that we’ve really got a handle on history. Well, that’s the standard I aspire to, and it suddenly seems small and selfish.

The Psalms talk constantly about events that happened 4-10 centuries earlier in a way that makes them sound generally familiar and relatively recent. Think of that; our nation was born just over 200 years ago and we think that’s ancient history. Would you know what I meant if I said I hope he ends up like Cornwallis’s army at Yorktown? You might know that he lost, but would it mean any more to you than that? Do you know why Benedict Arnold became a traitor? Why did Aaron Burr kill Alexander Hamilton in a duel?

God’s people are repeatedly exhorted to know, remember and teach their children of His marvelous acts so that they will know that He is God. If we read our Bible enough, we might remember the humiliating circumstances surrounding the defeat of Sisera and his army (Ps. 83:9, Judges 4). We might understand some of the reasons behind the longterm conflicts between the Israelites and the Edomites, Ishmaelites and Midianites. We might even know what Jephthah (the son of a harlot leading a band of outlaws in the hills) was talking about when he quoted a centuries-old discourse (Judges 11:14-28) between 3 heathen kings and Israel.

But could you do this for your own nation’s history? For events that happened a scant century or two ago? Do we, as a people, know how God was glorified in our history? Do we understand how, why and when His judgment fell upon us as a rebellious people and when and why He lifted it and restored us to His favor? Do we know why our economy, social morality, and educational system, etc. are in a shambles?

The Israelites seem to have known this in their time; and yet they were constantly under judgment for forgetting. Their knowledge of history puts us to shame, but it was still sadly lacking. Is it any wonder that our nation is in trouble?

What makes a conservative?

Traditionally it has been limited federal government based on a strong view of the Constitution and States rights. In other words decentralization along with more personal freedom. If I am correct then there is only one conservative running in the primaries and it ain’t Mike Huckabee.

Cal Thomas agrees with me so does Chuck Baldwin.

Don’t believe me? Check his record, his public statements, his stated platform.

I think this is one of the most refreshing Presidential races I can ever remember (I barely remember Reagan’s 1980 win) because of the web. We can see and hear what a candidate says and does straight from the source we the people are not relegated to hearing the creative sound bites that the networks want to feed us.

Because of this I strain to understand why Huckabee is getting so much of the homeschool support. He is not constitutionalist. He is no conservative. He is pro-federal involvment in education. Skeptical?

Check this out

To be fair from everything I have read about Huckabee he is known to be strong on two important issues – he is pro second amendment, and he is pro-life.

He is also pro federal interference in far too many areas to count as a conservative.

Hey, don’t take my word for it. Check out the links and tell me what you think.

(oh and keep it civil 🙂 )

read more | digg story

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss like you’ve never heard him before.  This came from an interview published in an Arizona magazine in June 1981:

…They think I did it in twenty minutes. That d — ned Cat in the Hat took nine months until I was satisfied. I did it for a textbook house and they sent me a word list. That was due to the Dewey revolt in the Twenties in which they threw out phonic reading and went to word recognition, as if you’re reading Chinese pictographs instead of blending sounds of different letters. I think killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country. Anyway, they had it all worked out that a healthy child at the age of four can learn so many words in a week and that’s all. So there were two hundred and twenty-three words to use in this book. I read the list three times and I almost went out of my head. I said, I’ll read it once more and if I can find two words that rhyme that’ll be the title of my book. (That’s genius at work.) I found “cat” and “hat” and I said, “The title will be The Cat in the Hat.”

excerpt from Samuel Blumenfeld’s Dyslexia: Man-Made Disease

ht to my friend Jenny B. 

Just for the record, we have and love several Dr. Seuss books.  We also have and love several thousand other books.  This article doesn’t make me ready to pitch the easy readers, but maybe it does help explain a parent’s natural reluctance to read the same book 18,000 times in a row.  Variety is good.  Phonics is good.

The kids’ new computer

I posted yesterday about my new computer.  It’s not the only new piece of electronics in the house.

For the last few years, we have bought the children a single big gift. This year, with some help from Grandpa and Grandma C., we were able to buy a computer and an expansion kit that will allow the single computer to be used as up to 4 individual stations. The computer came with one very nice monitor (can you guess which one?) and with the help of our friends, we were able to round up a posse of free monitors, keyboards and mice. WalMart yielded several pairs of earphones for $1 apiece, which keeps me from going insane from all the competing streams of noise.


In spite of the limited space in our home, we thought it was worthwhile to invest in 2 small base cabinets and a 10 ft. hunk of countertop which matches the countertop in the nearby kitchen. I stained the cabinets to match those in the kitchen as well and we set up the kit and kaboodle along the dining room wall, where it can double as overflow seating when we have company for dinner. The CPU sits in one of the cabinets, and someday when we have flat panel monitors everything in sight will be compact enough to push against the wall (or even mount on the wall) giving us lots of wide-open counter space.

In the meantime, even with the big-headed old-fashioned monitors we are pretty tickled with the setup. Unfortunately, The Boy really likes it too, which is why the keyboards are on top of the monitors when not in use. I guess he’s a little geek in the making, which is the highest sort of compliment in our house.