The Missing Puzzle Piece:
A Lesson from the Law of Gravity
This my favorite and most successful approach to not only parenting but also life. It's a weekly tool for healthy conversations with both children and adults. Simple and effective!
Fantastic Finds For Parents And Children
When I became pregnant with our son, I was assured that "mother's intuition" would kick in. While I do believe we moms have a special sense for the things that concern our children, I wouldn't say that sense "just kicked in" for me. In fact, when it finally does appear, it's usually after the fact, and the child is already onto the next step of development, yanking me up with him.
So, when it comes to parenting, I'm a huge believer in two things:
1) cling to the Lord and His Word, and
2) stay humble and willing to seek advice, suggestions, and ideas from other parents.
Here are some of the many resources that have helped my husband and me along this unique and treasured journey called parenting.*
* I didn't set up direct links for BOOKS on this page, but you can quickly find them through an online search by title and/or author.
Books for Moms: Personal or Parenting
Beholding & Becoming:
The Art of Everyday Worship,
by Ruth Chou Simons
This will change your life. It was sent to me as a gift last Christmas, and I've gifted it to several others since. Our family chose to go through it together as a breakfast devotional. It's one more fabulous resource to keep us accountable in living out our worship of the Lord every minute of every day.
Every Moment Holy: Volume 1,
by Douglas Kaine McKelvey
A prayer guide like no other. Also given to me as a gift, this book of prayers is full of deep, heartfelt intercessions on a variety of real-life issues. I'm so glad my dear friend shared it with me.
by Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler
Written to deal with current, everyday issues, this book is beautifully written to encourage, equip, and challenge moms to live the Gospel in everyday life. It's a good resource to read together in a group, as well.
Mama Bear Apologetics,
by Hillary Morgan Ferrer
I read this with a group of moms last year. It's proven to be an excellent, timely guide to discipling our children in the Lord, in the midst of a culture that is post- (and now more so anti-) Christian.
For Instruction in Righteousness,
By far, this is in my opinion one of the most important tools for any parent-- second to the Bible. Actually, it's full of the Bible, but the Scriptures are organized by topic (issues we and our children face everyday), accompanied by wonderful ideas to assist godly living. I use this almost every week. With older children, you can have them sit down with you and read/apply it together as a team.
100 Devotions about God and Science,
by Louie Giglio
This is a terrific breakfast or dinner devotional. Everyone in the family will not only learn something new every day but also be left in awe of God. Louie Giglio also has a second devotional like this one, if you like it and want more.
What a Son Needs from his Mom,
by Cheri Fuller
We are training our son to become an independent young man who is dependent upon the Lord, and as you know, that's a tricky balance. Add to that the challenge of training him to be a man after God's own heart, one day stepping into the role of being head of his own home. There are many wonderful books out there, but this is one that a friend suggested years back, and it's been a helpful go-to when I've needed a quick dose of guidance with the mother-son relationship.
Movies, Audio Adventures & Organizations
"I will set nothing wicked before my eyes..." Psalm 101:3a
There is a lot to discuss regarding what movies to watch and which ones to avoid. I haven't found a perfect formula, as parenting is complicated depending on various situations, family dynamics, life seasons, and children's temperaments. Maybe I'll address this issue in greater detail in the future (whenever I learn more). For now, maybe this question can be the starting point:
Would I be at peace watching this show or movie, if Jesus were sitting beside me?
Because He is.
If you're looking for alternatives to Disney, Netflix, and everything else, a couple are Pureflix.com and RightNowMedia.com. There are also options like Vidangel and Clearplay.com that can filter out junk (like language, use of God's name in vain, alcohol/drug use, nudity, etc.) from a ton of movies.
As for specific shows and other entertainment, scroll down for some of our family's favorites. There are many others we've enjoyed that aren't listed here, like Do You Believe, The Star, God's Not Dead, etc. Perusing Pureflix or other Christian movie sites will present many more than listed below, but maybe this list will give you at least one more fun option.
I could not express how thankful I've been for Bibleman. Our son even had a Bibleman themed birthday party. (Yes, that was a few years ago. He's outgrown it now, but the Bibleman team will always hold a special place in our hearts. Wonderful role model, clear Bible truths, and exciting episodes.) We personally preferred the animated episodes-- they're cool and updated. There are DVDs, books, devotionals, lego-style building toys, and other accessories. Excellent for elementary school church ministry, too.
The Chosen: Seasons 1 & 2
This series is incredible! It's the first-ever-multi-season TV show about the life of Jesus. Created outside of the Hollywood system, The Chosen allows us to see Jesus through the eyes of those who knew Him. Every episode leaves our family filled with more love, joy, and appreciation for our amazing Friend and Savior, Jesus.
Heaven's War Movie
An intense depiction of the spiritual battle we're all in, this film follows the life of a politician as his eyes are opened to the reality of spiritual warfare and the consequences of each action we make and word we speak. It's so good. (My personal recommendation would be for age 12 or 13+.)
Jonathan Park Audio Adventures
These are excellent in both content and quality, delivering the excitement many kids enjoy. The adventures follow a couple of families as they travel the world searching for evidence of the Biblical account of history. The stories are fictitious yet cleverly written, incorporating Christian and family values in action-packed adventures based on real places, events, or discoveries. You can purchase audio CDs or join the monthly club for unlimited online options.
Brinkman Family Adventures
Another awesome option for audio entertainment with good morals. The creators take the wacky adventures of a fictional American family and mix them with exciting true stories of heroes from around the globe. Full of humor and excitement, these adventures strengthen your faith and family, along with giving kids a healthy appreciation for missionaries' challenges and experiences with God.
Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith
Voice of the Martyrs has developed some excellent books and videos. They've done a classy job introducing children to missionaries and heroes of the Christian faith, while balancing accurate history with age-appropriate content. DVDs and books, along with additional resources, are available.
Answers In Genesis
There's no way I could speak all the great things to be said about this apologetics organization. They have so much to offer, from books to DVDs to online activities to complete curricula to the Creation Museum to the Ark Encounter. Peruse their website, and be inspired by GOD. Make sure to check out their boxed set of books, "The Answers Books for Kids." There's a set for younger readers and one for older.
Good Reading Books for Kids: K - 7th
"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23
I'm a pretty picky parent regarding what our son reads and watches. There seems to be an agenda behind everything. Garbage in, garbage out, right? To complicate things, we've recently made the rapid transition into middle school, which brings an entirely new and different list of needs, desires, risks, and resources.
Because each child is uniquely designed with different tendencies and sensitivities, the books listed here do not include age range recommendations. That said, though, because my only experience so far has been parenting the age under 13, this list falls within the age range of 13 and under.
I've also put an asterisk (*) beside book titles I personally suggest for 6th grade and up, but as always, please do your own research.
Delightful, Simple and Sweet
Most of the books in this first list are now from the days gone by for us, but they'll remain in our family library, to pass along to the young grandchildren one day.
The Stufffed Adventures: The Berry Patch, Sliver's Hats, and Float-Boating
by Denice Goldschmidt
Endearing stories about stuffed animals who go on adventures and learn biblical life-lessons. This author is not only an incredible woman of God, gifted artist, and children's book author, but...she's also my mom! I grew up with these stuffed animals, and some of the stories are based on real life experiences.
by Starr Meade
Terrific read about siblings who learn from Grandpa about God's hand in every phase of human history.
Uncle Wiggly Longears
by Howard R. Garis
An entertaining classic with timeless lessons revolving around a family of rabbits.
The Miller Family Books
by Mildred Martin
Sweet stories that follow the parents and children of a Mennonite family and their commitment to obeying God: there are about 12 books in total.
Horton Hears a Who
by Dr. Seuss
One of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories, with a clear message about defending the weak and those who cannot speak for themselves.
50 People Every Christian Should Know
by Warren Wiersbe
There are always more amazing people to study, but this book provides a wonderful foundation for teaching children about the lives of admirable Christian fore-fathers and mothers.
Choice Stories for Children, Stories Worth reading, and Tiger & Tom: Stories for Boys
Written in the 1800's, these 3 books behold short stories like none other; they provide a nice read-aloud option as well, giving parents an open door for instruction and dialogue.
Light Keepers: Ten Boys
by Irene Howat
Simple synopses that highlight the childhood and upbringing of historical Christian figures and God's extraordinary work in their lives; 5 books, each about 10 famous men (the writing is a bit 'choppy,' but they are nice read-alouds).
Light Keepers: Ten Girls
by Irene Howat
A mirror image of the Ten Boys books, but written about famous females, their roots, and their positive impact on our world; 5 books, each about 10 famous women.
by Amy LeFeuvre
A classic story following the conversion and beginning steps of sanctification in the life of a precious young boy named Teddy.
Our son really took to this genre, which tends to breathe refreshment and life into the real stories of those who have gone before us.
Christian Heritage Series
by Nancy N. Rue
Historical fiction, broken into 5 mini-series, including the Williamsburg Years, Charleston Years, Salem Years, Santa Fe Years, and Chicago Years; great to accompany lessons on American history.
by Adventures in Odyssey
Delightful adventures of two cousins who travel back in history; currently there are 22 books, and every single one is a keeper.
Religious Heritage Series
by Louise Vernon
Great historical fiction, with ten books highlighting the lives of people like Tyndale, Wycliffe, Guttenberg. These were especially helpful to couple with corresponding history lessons in our school curriculum.
The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls
by M.J. Thomas
Another series of historical fiction, revolving around the lives of two siblings and their dog as they travel through time and experience key moments in biblical history. At present, there are 9 books in this series.
The Adventures of Rush Revere: 5 books
by Rush Limbaugh
Fun, educational, and at times silly stories of going back in time to experience American history- a great resource for our kids to know our country's true foundations.
The Truth Chronicles: 6 books*
by Tim Chaffey
These stories involve exciting time travel to the past. The main characters are teens, so there is some reference to dating (although that is not the focal theme). The only part of the books that I wasn't keen on was in the beginning when the kids sneak behind the parents' backs to do the time travel. While this isn't a consistent theme in the books we enjoy, since these came from the Creation Museum, the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. Our son read them in 6th grade, and we used the disobedience and secrecy as a talking point.
Allegory = "the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence" (Mirriam Webster's Dictionary)
The use of allegories is not only creative, but I've also found it to be an excellent way to learn (and teach) biblical and moral truths in a way that is remembered. Here are our favorites:
Pilgrim's Progress and The Holy War
by John Bunyan
Almost everyone is familiar with Pilgrim's Progress, but do you know about Holy War? It too is a fantastic allegory, this time taking place in the city Mansoul, with situations and incidents reflecting the complexity of the human soul. Ingenious and insightful. Both books are available in modern English, including a children's version of Pilgrim's Progress.
Green Ember Series: 8 books
by S.D. Smith
Revolves around two rabbits who are siblings, requiring bravery to fight in a war against hawks and wolves, learning lessons on endurance and good morality.
The Prince Warriors: 4 books*
by Priscilla Shirer
These are about four friends who end up in another world, having to war for God and take down spiritual darkness in order to earn their swords and armor. Excellent lessons on making wise choices and choosing holiness. (Shirer is also one of my personal favorites with women's Bible studies and DVD teachings.)
Chronicles of Narnia: 7 books
by C.S. Lewis
I probably don't need to say anything about these-- they're wonderful, timeless classics by Lewis, with beautiful parallels between the Bible and our lives.
Mysteries & Suspense
It can be challenging to find good mystery books that don't open a door to the spirit of fear or train readers to think on death and ghosts. The ones I've found aren't perfect, but they come close.
Jones & Parker Case Files
by Adventures in Odyssey, Focus on the Family
16 cases that are fun to try and solve on your own- answers in the back of the book.
The Case of the Dognapped Cat, Treasure of Pelican Cove, The Mystery of Pelican Cove, and The Case of the Sassy Parrot
by Milly Howard
Entertaining mysteries set to enjoyable stories, focusing on children who help solve problems.
Jonathan Park & the Secret of the Hidden Cave
by Sandy Roy
This is the only book I know of that corresponds with the Jonathan Park audio adventures, and it's wonderful. It weaves healthy family dynamics with mystery, the truth of creation, and wise decision-making.
The Baker Family Adventures*
by C. R. Hedgecock
Published by Grace and Truth Books, this 8-book series is about a family that experiences adventure and suspense. Well written, exciting, and worth every minute of reading (and re-reading).
by John Bibee
A group of homeschool kids follow crimes and solve them, with cliff-hanging situations and lots of action.
Left Behind: The Kids*
by Jerry Jenkins & Tim LaHaye
There are 40 books in this collection, and we found them at our local library (yay!). Our son gobbled these up. Based on the adult series, the books follow a group of kids as they experience the Rapture and the Great Tribulation. Excellent tool for discussion about salvation and other biblical topics.
The Cooper Kids*
by Frank Peretti
These were at our library as well, 4 total books. They weave spiritual warfare and prayer into imaginative story-telling, involving danger, intrigue, and suspenseful situations.
Stay tuned! I'm always discovering more. What are your favorites? I readily welcome your ideas, if you'd like to take a moment and email them to me.
Scroll Down for Math Helps
See below for Math
When my son entered fourth grade, math became a struggle. I recall one morning, begging God to help me, asking, "What on earth am I supposed to do?" The Lord responded to my question with a question: Is math a struggle because he doesn't understand it, or is it difficult because of how it's being presented?
Great question. The answer came fast. My son did understand the concepts, but the way I presented them didn't fit his learning style. In fact, my approach was opposite his style. Now, let me pause and clarify: all of us need to learn how to do things when they're done in a way that doesn't suit us. Life doesn't always hand us pristine boxes in which everything fits perfectly. I get that. But I had a situation on my hands where a student, who understood math, hated it; and I, the teacher (who happens to like math), had the opportunity to redesign the way it was taught. So, I took the challenge.
The next question I sensed God leading me to ask was, What is his personality, his learning style?
That too was a no brainer. My son is extremely playful. He always has been. If he could play his way through the day, he would. In fact, I'd already incorporated playfulness into our schooling for years, but somehow I'd missed doing that with math. Hmmmm. It's amazing what happens when we stop and ask God for help, eh?
I searched and found math games and math 'stories.' Not only did this save the math day, but it also brought serious fun into the mix. If you're in need of some fresh math ideas, here are a few that have worked for us. Look for them online, and have some fun with numbers!
Scrabble-style math game to practice simple multiplication and division
Pizza To Go
Fun with fractions; don't be surprised if your kids ask for pizza after playing this!
Logic game with little cars that need to exit the roadway; this can be played independently and has 3 levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced
Very clever way to do story problems, with student answering which option is a lie (incorrect answer) -- Funny, engaging scenarios
Card game to work on simple division
Two-sided game board: one side practices addition, the other side multiplication
Believe it or not, any logic game is great for math! (So is piano, but that's another discussion.) Similar to Connect 4, Sequence uses a board, chips and cards to form rows
Head Full of Numbers
The cup to roll the dice is designed like an Einstein-looking head; you then use the dice to add, subtract, multiply and/or divide
Card game to work on fraction equivalence, comparing graphs and charts to fractions with numbers
Let's Go Shopping
Draw cards from the stack, read the shopping scenario, then do the math to calculate money
Sir Cumference Math Story Books,
by Cindy Neuschwander
These books are ingenius. From diameter to circumference to fractions to place value to graphs to Pi, the author plays on math words as she tells stories with knights and dragons and castles...all the while presenting and solving math problems. The concepts are explained so well, that I continue to use the books as teaching tools or for leisure reading.
Life of Fred Math Books, by Stanley Schmidt
We LOVE Fred! These books are a gift from God. For real. They're the perfect balance of silliness and seriousness, with more of the former than the latter. And yet, they comprise a complete curriculum from kindergarten to calculus. You can't help but love Fred, the star of each book, while appreciating the inspired author, who knew exactly how to reach kids like mine...and yours?
The Thinking Toolbox, by Bluedorn & Bluedorn
We have enjoyed this as a read-aloud. It has 35 lessons that help build reasoning skills, and it's full of enough intrigue and humor to help young minds not only follow the line of thought but also pay attention-- I should note that we just began this book, in 6th grade. When I create a separate section on this site for middle school, I'll probably move this item there.