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Two Great Books for Middle Schoolers

Yay! I finally have read some books that I can recommend to you for middle school/ junior high students.

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No wonder this book is a Caldecott winner! Weaving three stories into one wonderful tale, Echo, written by Pam Munoz Ryan captures the reader’s attention from the start. It involves a magical harmonica and some amazing, self-sacrificing young people. It portrays different periods of time and the great injustice that was shown. But, it also has the theme of kindness and hope. Warning: your reader will not want to put this book down once they have begun. I have a confession to make; on many occasions I skip to the back of the book  because the middle of the story drags, but I wasn’t even tempted to do so with this story. 🙂

 

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This book isn’t a Caldecott winner, but it should be! Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams is a fabulous book that had me laughing throughout it. Grandpa was a WWII British Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire pilot and is living in his glory days. No longer does he recognize his family, but rather thinks of them as members of the RAF.  Eventually, Grandpa is sent to Twilight Towers, a place for “unwanted old people”  and Grandpa and Jack his grandson, realize that he must escape from the ominous and creepy institution.Themes of compassion, kindness, and self-sacrifice are throughout the book. I also appreciated that at the end of the book there are short descriptions about WWII events that Grandpa talks about so that your reader will have context to the story if s/he so chooses to read about them.

3 Books about Manners

Recently I discussed the importance of manners. This week I have a few more books to add to a study on manners. Author, Julia Cook, has written several stories about various topics about social skills.

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Table Talk is about… table manners! Here is a quote from the book, “Did you know that table manners really matter? They’re more than just eating. They’re about being kind and considerate of others, and being respectful of people’s feelings.” Some things mentioned are washing your hands, waiting your turn until everyone has their food, saying please and thank you and not reaching across the table for something. After reading the book you can practice the good manners that you read. Do you know the poem, The Goops?  Here is the poem for copywork. NOTE: Whoops! I accidentally left out the word saw on the first line!  The Goops

 

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Bragging is the focus in the book, Well I Can Top That! 

Bradford Robert Alexander Donely always feels the need to be better than his friends. Primarily by telling outlandish tales, he appears to do everything better. His teacher helps him to see that instead of being a “one-upper”, he can be a “pull-upper”, in other words, encourage people and allows others to be number one.

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Decibella and her 6 inch Voice

One of my sons had a difficult time in using what I called an “inside voice”.  He also had a friend who was equally as noisy and we had to remind the boys on many occasions to consider others around them. Decibella, or rather, Isabella, is a young lady who needs to be reminded of which voice to use throughout the day. Ranging from the whisper, to a 6 inch voice, to SLURPADOODLE, Isabella must learn to gauge her voice to meet the appropriate noise level, depending upon the situation.

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What kind of things you can do with these books when you are reading to your children?  Ask if they have ever had these situations happen to them. What ways could the characters do things differently? Why is it a pleasant thing to have manners? How can you show kindness and consideration to others. Make a list of opportunities. Discuss and practice the following social skills.

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Just a Touch of Love

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I was preparing for my history lesson today and was reading about the Franciscan and Dominican orders of priests and nuns in the Roman Catholic Church. Both of these orders were begun with their mission being service to all men. I love that!

So, today as you begin your week, why not perform a kind deed for a friend, neighbor, or a stranger? Find a place where you can take the children if they are able to go with you. I am going to step out of my comfort zone and help once again in the inner city, something I did with my husband for many years. Yes, it’s a bit scary, and you certainly don’t need to do that, but we have been called to serve those who are in need and that is what I think I will do.

If you are wanting some ideas to help you think of places to show just a touch of love, consider the following:

Food pantry– take canned goods to them and/or see if they need volunteers

Sort out your clothes and take them to Goodwill, AmVets, or another organization.

Visit a nursing home Go a couple of times if you can. People in nursing homes love company, and especially children.

Do you have a jar of change? How about having the children count and wrap the money (math!) and decide where you as a family would like to give the money. Your children will enjoy helping, and being involved, and you are modeling kindness and generosity.

Drop off goodies to your neighbors. So few people have time to bake any more that a plate full of goodies is greatly appreciated. If you don’t want to give food, then how about a candle and a card or something else? It’s the kindness shown that counts!

Make cards for service men and women. Operation We Are Here has several links of organizations that you can send cards and letters. You can also deliver cards to neighbors, friends, church members, and family.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen This is such a rewarding thing to do. The act of serving someone always makes my day brighter for some reason. The homeless love to see young people and enjoy it when someone talks to them.

Do you knit, crochet, or quilt? There are hospital organizations that have need of blankets and baby hats. This would be great for school too since it can be counted as fine arts. 🙂

Ask your children! Do they have something that is on their heart? Children are tenderhearted and many times see needs that we didn’t recognize.

I leave you with a link from a scene in the movie, Sister Act, called Just a Touch of Love. The church went and got involved in the community, where they helped the people and the people, in turn, helped them. Pretty cool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Children Tell the Truth

Torn Truth

He who permits himself to tell a lie once,

Finds it much easier to do it a second  and third time,

until at length it becomes habitual.

He tells without attending to it,

and truths  without the world’s believing him.

~Thomas Jefferson~

Telling the truth has been a challenge since the beginning of time, starting in the Garden of Eden. It is important for our children to be taught to tell and uphold the truth. Every one of us is faced with the opportunity to lie when faced with a consequence we may not want. So, how do we help children tell the truth, especially when they know that there will be unfavorable consequences?

  1. Let him/her know the truth is always the best. I have a confession to make. When I was little, I was a liar. I remember as a first grader I had fabricated so many tales I couldn’t keep them all straight! I can remember my mom confronting me and when I confessed I felt so much better. I tried not to lie from that day forward because I never wanted to be known as a liar.
  2. Provide your child with an opportunity to tell the truth. Have you ever accused your child of not telling the truth only to discover you were wrong? I sure have! If you know (or think you know) they have lied, bring up the subject in a non-threatening way so that they have the opportunity to confess and correct what they have done.
  3. Show mercy when s/he tells the truth. Shouldn’t there be a consequence for lying? Yes, but I found that if I could extend grace to my sons, this provided an environment to admit they had lied and seek forgiveness.
  4. Make the punishment fit the crime. If your child lies about something and you know it could lead to bigger issues, punish them according to the offense to show them the consequences of lying. We had an incident in our home where a lie was told and the offender had to go to an adult they didn’t know and confess what they had done. I believe he never wanted to have to repeat that!
  5. Council and pray with your child. Get to the reason as to why they chose to lie if you are able. Pray with him/her afterwards.
  6. Let your child know you love them. That is so important because children feel bad in disappointing us. Let him/her know everyone makes mistakes, but being honest will build trust as lying erodes that trust.
  7. Give them a big hug! When a child confesses that they have lied, be quick to forgive and squeeze the stuffings out of them!

Have a great week!

~Lisa

 

 

Chore Cards: Completing Housework

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Chores can be a negative word in a child’s mind, okay, in an adult’s mind too! So, how do you get housework done around the house without a lot of nagging and threatening? I wish I had the cure to share with you because I would be a wealthy woman selling my solution!  It is a matter of discipline for all involved. You have to be disciplined in seeing that the work gets done and your family members have to be disciplined in doing the work.

One of the biggest frustrations I found with my sons was that work was “half done” or not done to my satisfaction. Do you call a bathroom clean when the mirror still has toothpaste on it? hmmm… I found myself having to go and round up the one whose chore it was and be right there while the job was completed correctly.

By creating a simple checklist, chores  were done correctly. Laminating an index card with a list of things to be done for each chore worked well. I first demonstrated each step on the chore card and watched a few times to be sure the steps were done properly. If you decide to do this, the time invested in the beginning will give you huge dividends in the long run.  I kept the chore card in the room which was being cleaned, but they can also all be kept in a central location.

Chore cards can be different colors for different rooms for easy reference. It is frustrating when you have a system in place and it gets derailed because of a small detail. You can type and duplicate the directions for each chore card in case it gets lost.   Here is an example for cleaning the living room:

Living Room

Supplies Needed: Dust rag, furniture polish, vacuum cleaner

Directions:

  1. Pick up any toys/items that do not belong  and put them in their proper place.
  2. Using the dust rag, wipe off the lamp shade and the baseboards.
  3. Lightly spray the wooden table with the furniture polish and use the dust rag to rub in the polish.
  4. Vacuum the rug, making sure you move the furniture.
  5. Replace the furniture and the vacuum to their original spot.
  6. Put away furniture polish and throw dust rag in the laundry.
  7. Return the chore card to its proper place.

I realize everyone’s house and standard of clean is different, but hopefully this gives you ideas and saves you time. 🙂