Friday, August 29, 2008

Home Learning Top Picks

This is all stuff that any family will enjoy, home schooling or not. It’s scary to put out money for things and not know if you’re going to actually like them or not. Several times I have spent money on something that I didn’t end up using. So it’s helpful to get a recommendation from someone. These things I list below I am persuaded that no one will regret spending their money on. You will probably notice a theme in the below recommendations: I love audio CDs for learning. You can pop them in the car when running errands or turn a house cleaning session into an exciting learning adventure. You can even pop one in on a hot day and have the whole family lie in front of a fan, close their eyes, and listen to an adventure. Or in the winter, sit in front of a fire. But the biggest advantage in my mind is that the kids have listened to the following resources over and over. Each time, they understand it better and more knowledge is retained. For a busy mom, especially those with babies, you don’t want to miss out on the world of audio adventure!

Science: Vision Forum’s audio adventures called Jonathan Park are topnotch. I have learned more about creation science listening to these adventures than I did in my Creation/Evolution class I took in college (which was a very informative class.) Exciting adventures are coupled with discoveries and facts that will keep everyone captivated. I understand that Christian resources can sometimes be poorly researched and of inferior quality, but this series goes a long way in challenging that idea. (Note: if you buy only one, I recommend that you not start with Jonathan Park Goes to the Zoo. It is an entirely different format than the other five; there's no adventure. We don't like it nearly as well as the others, but it's still interesting.)

Music: My kids absolutely love a series called Classical Kids. They are well-written historical-fiction stories about the life of a musician set to his music, in audio CD. For instance, in Beethoven Lives Upstairs, a young boy narrates the ups and downs of having the strange composer rent the upstairs of his house. Although the details are fictionalized, they base as much as they can on facts we know of the composer’s life. The magic of this series is that the kids associate the music they are listening to with the story so that whenever they hear a song of Beethoven’s they immediately identify it as his. It’s done well so that I don’t mind that they want to listen to it again and again; it’s always a joy. Titles in the series: Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Hallelujah Handel, Mozart’s Magic Fantasy, Mozart’s Magnificant Voyage, Tchaikovsky Discovers America, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, and Song of the Unicorn. I have learned a lot about the composer’s lives and their music myself.

Geography Songs: My kids can still sing all the songs about the order of the states that they learned several years ago. This CD goes over the entire world and puts states, capitals, and the countries of all the continents to music. For instance, in order to learn the position of the states there are five separate songs, four for the borders and one for the middle. For instance, the song for the eastern border sets the states to music starting from the bottom: “Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia…etc.” After hearing the song only a few times, the kids could easily recite the eastern border. This sure helped them on geography tests. When Isaiah needed to know the 13 original colonies in 2nd grade, I told him to just sing the eastern border song starting with Georgia instead of Florida and replacing Pennsylvania with Maine. While the rest of the class was struggling to learn the colonies, Isaiah had it down pat. Music is such an aid to memorization!

Happy Listening!


Mary Anne said...

Hi Les!

I have an unrelated question for you--about James Dobson! Given their shared views on many issues, I was not surprised to hear about his enthusiasm for Sarah Palin. But I didn't think he approved of mothers having full-time careers outside the home. I thought the FOTF position was that mothers should stay home serving their husbands and children. Is Dobson more liberal than I thought? :) I'm very curious about this!

Leslie said...

That's a good question, especially considering she has a four-month-old infant; it's not like her children are all grown and out of the house. I'm going to speak on conjecture here and anyone who knows Dobson better can correct me if they feel like I'm wrong, but I'm almost positive this is where he's coming from. I think that Dobson sees the issue of life as a trump to all other issues. For example, let's pretend for a moment that Obama was in favor of protecting unborn life, but had all the other same positions he holds now. I truly believe that Dobson would come out in favor of Obama if he felt like he had a stronger pro-life position than McCain, no matter what else he disagreed with Obama on. He may not agree on his healthcare plans, immigration, taxes, etc, etc, but I still think he would give all those issues a back seat to the life issue.

I think that is what he is doing with McCain/Palin. I know he wishes Palin were a stay-at-home mother to her infant and other 4 children, but at least she let her downs syndrome baby live where as 9out of 10 are now aborted. He is making a compromise and hoping it will save some lives.

Obama has promised NARAL and planned parenthood that he will work to remove every and all restriction on abortion including parental consent and late-term restrictions and government funding restrictions (NARAL gave him an A+.) Dobson is of the opinion, I believe, that no matter how much he disagrees with much of McCain and Palin, they've got to be better for the unborn.

However, Dobson will be the first to say he has serious problems with McCain. In fact, when he was first given the primary, Dobson said this may be the first time he simply doesn't vote. Putting Palin on the ticket was possibly a promise that his campaign will work for life.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that there are a bunch of republicans out there who could care less about unborn babies but they put on the pro-life tag because they think it will win them evangelical votes. Then when in office, they do nothing to help the unborn. Well, I don't know what to do about that problem, except that I hope that if enough people vote single issue, vote for life, maybe just maybe, Washington will finally listen.

Actually, I know next-to-nothing about politics. I'm too busy doing my day in the life stuff, ha, ha..

Love you Mary Anne!

Mary Anne said...

Yeah, I think you're right, Les. Well, in any case, this election sure is full of drama and it's keeping me highly entertained!

I do wonder about Palin... I can't imagine how she would do the VP job while also being a mom to five young kids, including a special-needs infant!! But far be it from me to judge, especially since I'm usually all for women getting into positions of power! Heh heh. :)

I do think it will be so fascinating to see how she affects the race. And I love everything about Obama except for his abortion position. :( I'm sure I'm a bit more liberal than you are on that but I cannot fathom how someone could favor NO restrictions on abortion. Let's hope he's just giving lip service to the abortion-rights people, in the same way that some Republicans give lip-service to the pro-lifers, like you mentioned. (Though I know that Obama has actively blocked restrictions on abortion in the past.)

Well, too bad I want to be a mom too, otherwise maybe I'd run!

Love you!