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A Fair Idea, Quiet-Time Busy Books, Bible Curriculum?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, January 05, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 1 January 5, 2009
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

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Guest Article
-- A Fair Idea by Karen Lange
Helpful Tip
-- Smart Kids Who Hate to Write
Resource Review
-- Quiet-Time Busy Books
Reader Question
-- Bible Curriculum for High School?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

A Fair Idea
-- by Karen Lange


Looking for something to add a little excitement to your home-
school? Need some ideas? Why not have a homeschool fair? This
can be a fun activity for the whole family. It doesn’t have to
take a lot of time or energy, and this type of activity looks
great in the portfolio.

An art fair can be a showcase for students’ work. Craft projects,
artwork, even poetry and stories can be nicely displayed for
attendees to see. Our county homeschool group hosted a yearly
art fair in January. It gave us an excuse to socialize and a
project goal to aim for during the winter.

One parent would coordinate the event, delegating other responsi-
bilities such as refreshments, registration, and certificates.
When we started, our kids were all young, so we didn’t want it
to be a competition with judges or any pressure for the kids. We
printed certificates of participation with the student's name,
event date, location, etc. Sometimes we’d pick up generic ribbons
from the party store – the kind without any 'place' on them, and
hand them out, too. The kids felt like they’d accomplished some-
thing and had a nice memento for a scrapbook or memory box.

We had two places we regularly used to meet for these things; one
was a church fellowship hall, the other a Christian school gym.
Their fees were minimal or a small donation, as long as we took
care of cleanup. These facilities were nice; all the amenities
were included – restroom, kitchen, tables and chairs, etc.

Each child was allotted a space on a table to arrange their work.
We placed a nametag at each place with the student’s name and age.
Each child was required to stay with their work for a certain
period of time to answer questions (and receive compliments!).
Sometimes we would have a short ceremony, handing out certificates,
other times we’d place them with the child’s work on the table.

Registration included taking family names, number of participants
per family, and the type of art that students would bring. Some-
times we’d collect a fee, such as $1 per student, to cover the
facility, paper plates, etc. This was not always necessary as our
group collected small yearly dues for a newsletter and other
expenses. It depended on what our other expenses were for the year.

Our fairs were scheduled after dinner and refreshments were simple.
Each family was required to bring a snack and drink to share. We
requested easy snacks, such as cookies or pretzels, to keep supplies
and clean up minimal.

We allowed preschoolers to participate too, since this was something
that they could easily do. Parents or a responsible older sibling
were required to stay with the preschooler. Some students displayed
drawings, paintings, craft projects, art notebooks, scrapbooks,
illustrated stories; anything 'artsy' was allowed.

While fun and socialization were part of our plan, we had another
motive in mind for these events. Requiring students to stay with
their work gave them an opportunity to speak to attendees of all
ages. We saw some of our shy students blossom with the opportunity
to comfortably speak about their work to others. The moms were
sneaky; we seized the opportunity for our kids to practice their
people and public speaking skills. This provided an avenue to do
so in a controlled and friendly environment.

In the spring, we also had a science fair and followed the same
guidelines. Again, we refrained from having judges and competition.
Our group wasn’t huge, and there was a range of ages and abilities,
although mostly elementary level, that we thought would be hard to
pigeonhole into judged categories. We wanted the kids to have fun
with science, minus big pressure, while they were young. There was
plenty of time for real life pressure experiences as they got older.
We’d often invite a neighboring county’s group to participate in
our fairs, and it was a nice cooperative time together. Friends and
relatives could come and see students’ work, and see that the kids
were growing, learning, and interacting like regular people.

Another winter activity we held occasionally was a talent show.
This, of course, took a little more planning on participants’
parts, but everyone enjoyed it. We followed the same guidelines
with certificates, location, and snacks, and allowed a certain
amount of time for each talent act. We had songs, musical instru-
ments, skits, and even a mini Civil War reenactment with costumes.
The sneaky moms were at work again; this gave the kids a chance
to stand up in front of others.

Even if you don’t have a local homeschool group, see if you can
round up a few families and meet in someone’s home. Or, have
your own family fair and invite friends and relatives. Use your
imagination to customize a great fair to complement your home-
school experience.


Karen Lange was privileged to be the emcee at many homeschool
talent shows. Her favorite act was “Who’s on First?” performed
by her sons. She does admit, however, to being biased in her
selection. She and her husband homeschooled their three children
grades K-12. She is a freelance writer and the creator of the
Homeschool Online Writing Co-op for teens. Email her at
mailto:writingcoop@yahoo.com or visit her website at


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

[This email was received late in repsonse to the question in our
last issue -- but I thought it also made a good tip! -- Heather]

Smart Kids Who Hate to Write

"Dear Christine,

I also have a bright child that can learn well, but has struggled
with reading and writing. To make a long story short, in my
process of trying to help him I have learned that some people have
learning glitches in certain areas which can cause struggles like
your son has in writing. HSLDA has a site for teaching stuggling
learners. http://www.hslda.org/strugglinglearner/sn_checkintro.asp

Dianne Craft is the HSLDA Special Needs Coordinator. She has an
article online that might be of particular interest to you called
'Smart Kids Who Hate to Write'.


I hope this helps you!"

-- Lisa in PA


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Quiet-Time Busy Books
Author: Michelle Van Tassell
For more info or to purchase: http://familyclassroom.net/busy.html

Recently I found a book that took me down memory lane remembering
my early childhood days. It is a remarkable book not for just
remembering the past, but for making memories for our children and
grandchildren today. It is titled Quiet-Time Busy Books -- and I
found it to be a delight! Not familiar with busy books? Busy books
are those soft, cozy books made of pages of fabric and felt that are
given to young children to encourage quiet exploration. Typically
they teach young children how to button, zip, snap, tie shoelaces,
or learn colors, numbers, etc. Busy books are perfect for waiting
in the doctor's office, in the car, or any place that parents want
to encourage children to quietly busy their minds.

The book gives detailed directions on how to make your own busy
books. With excellent instructions and photo diagrams, I found
that I couldn't wait to get started. It is for someone with basic
sewing skills but could be adapted for the non-sewer, too. With a
plethora of ideas to make pages from simple peek-a-boo flaps that
lift to reveal family members, a bead abacus page, and even a jeans
pocket complete with a wallet to investigate, this book has a wealth
of great page projects that you can make as well as inspiring you
with ideas to make your own busy book pages. Another delight was
the page project for a family tree laid out in a tree-shape with
photos under leaf-shaped fabric flaps showing parents, grandparents
and great-grandparents. My favorite example is made of old-fashioned
fancy buttons, small found objects, various patches, colorful ribbons,
shiny sequins, and animal pins, all on a page that has a magnifying
glass in a back pocket allowing the child to explore the page with it!

These busy book pages would be a delight to any young child as well
as being a keepsake.

This book takes the felt books of the past beyond buttons and zippers.
I found it to have a wonderful wealth of ideas that has this grandma
making plans for busy books for my grandsons. I highly recommend it!

-- Lori Heller, Homeschooling Mom and Grandma in Michigan

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am looking for a good Bible curriculum for high school home
schoolers. Any suggestions? Some of them seem to be just
'busy work' or memorization of irrelevant facts." -- Theresa

Our Readers' Responses

"Perhaps you already have a midweek bible study you attend, but
if not, I would enroll in Bible Study Fellowship and have your
high schoolers attend with you. They will study the same part
of the Bible as you (this year is the Life of Moses) and will
learn how to study the Bible for themselves through learning
homiletics. My three children have attended Bible Study Fellow-
ship since they were very young and have a deep understanding
of Biblical truths. You can find a Bible Study Fellowship in
your area by going to http://www.bsfinternational.org/."
-- Kathy in California


"My oldest daughter is only 8, so I don't yet know what we will
use for Bible curriculum in high school. However, right now we
are doing the Discover 4 Yourself series from Precept Ministries
as our main Bible curriculum. We are going through the entire
book of John, chapter by chapter. They also have a 'Lord' series,
and the 'New Inductive Bible Study' series that would be appro-
priate for older students -- www.precept.org

I also would recommend the 'Books of the Bible' series, also
known as 'Lifechange' from NavPress -- www.navpress.com

Our plan is to teach our children to study the Bible for themselves,
along with providing them additional instruction on the whole of
the Bible during our family devotions.

Also, if you are looking for something for worldviews, check out
www.worldview.org and www.thegreatbooks.com " -- Aadel


"Theresa -- High schoolers will do very well using only the Bible
itself. Reference materials such as commentaries, a concordance,
a Bible atlas, Bible dictionary and so forth are very helpful,
but not essential. You can choose from a variety of different

Topical: Look up all the verses you can find on a topic you wish
to study. A chain-reference Bible or Nave's topical Bible would
be a good source for this type of study.

Outline: Have your children go through the Bible and create an
outline of it as they go. This would be a major undertaking, so
you might want to make it a family project.

Character or Biographical: Study the people of the Bible.

Teaching: High schoolers are ready to learn to teach the Bible
to others. Have each child choose a topic or book and prepare a
series of lessons to teach to the rest of the family. As we
homeschool mothers know, the best way to learn something is to
teach it to someone else.

Book study: Select a book and study it thoroughly, including the
author, if known; when and to whom it was written, and for what
purpose; key themes and principles, etc.

Geographical: Select a significant place in the Bible and study
all the things that happened there.

My children are now studing the Bible on their own, in addition
to the family Bible studies that we do. I have tried to remind
them that when they are reading a passage, they should ask:
1. What does it say? 2. What does it mean? 3. What does God
want me to learn from it, and how does He want me to apply it in
my own life?

I would suggest that for any of these, the children compile
quality notebooks or journals of their studies. I would also
recommend a serious memorization program. Memorizing Scripture
tremendously enhances comprehension.

If you still prefer a published curriculum, you might take a
look at 'Balancing the Sword'. It is a two-volume set, which
provides questions to ask after each chapter of the Bible. It's
very comprehensive, but it only addresses Bible facts; it doesn't
help the student apply principles to daily living." -- Mary Beth


"If your child happens to be in AWANA or a local church conducts
it, you may be in luck. I completed these because I do my hand-
books along with the clubbers. Each handbook (and there are a
total of 10 you can choose from) has a theme. I, and several of
the adults in our church who did these, learned a great deal from
these Bible studies. One was called 'Faith on Trial' and gave a
course in apologetics. Some of the other titles include: a Study
in Galatians, Finding God's Will in Your Life, Witnessing, a Study
in I Corinthians, and Men and Women of God. Even if you are not
in Awana, I know people who have learned so much from these. You
can find them at www.awana.org ." -- Danielle T.


"TheYearlyBible.org is a site where you can pick the translation
and even choose to read it chronologically.The site emails the
daily Bible reading to you and has commentary on that portion too.
It's something you can read together and discuss." -- Amy S.

Answer our NEW Question

"We are in our first year of homeschooling and are already
beginning to plan for next year. My dilemma is what curriculum
to use. We currently use Bob Jones materials for my 8 and 5 year
old. They love it and do not want to switch. I think much of
their love comes from the fact that this is what they know and
are used to (they used this at the Christian school they once
attended).I too love the layout and depth of their program,
but teaching a full individual program to each of the girls
leaves me running a marathon between the two all day long. I
would rather try something more like Sonlight where I can teach
more than one child at once. Do I stick with what they enjoy
or do I choose what is best for me? Any ideas?" -- Dianah


Do you have advice... or a great solution for Dianah?

Please send your answer to: mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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