Homepreschool and Beyond

*Relationship *Routine *Readiness *Reading Aloud

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  • A Balanced Approach:

    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

    “Susan Lemons gives you the blueprint…”

    • 26 Chapters
    • Covers all areas of development
    • Covers all areas of curriculum
    • For a ages 2-8
    • Developmentally appropriate
    • Literature based
    • Spiritual and character building emphasis

Archive for the ‘Family Fun’ Category

Helping Our Children Grow Close Relationships with God, Part Two

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 20, 2014


In my last post, I shared that two primary ways we teach our children about God are through example, and through teaching. In this post, I will share some specific thoughts/ideas about HOW to do it:

Through Example: The hardest part of parenting, I believe, is disciplining ourselves to be who we need to be, so that we are good examples for our children. (Self-control. Why does it always have to come back to that? SIGH.) In my book, Homepreschool and Beyond, I call this “teaching through parenting:”

The best definition of good parenting I’ve ever heard is from Anne Ortland, who says, “Successful parenting means: One, becoming what you should be. And two, staying close enough to the children that it will rub off.” She challenges us further by asking, “What will you become, in order that your offspring may turn out to be great human beings for God?”

We need to admit that we can’t be good examples in our own strength. We have to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us, guide us, and help us. So we can’t be good examples for our children unless we abide in Christ. One resource that has helped me tremendously in this area is the Christian classic, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. You can even get it for FREE on your Kindle! In this book, Brother Lawrence talks about how, no matter what he is doing, a part of him can be (no, IS) in the presence of God, and how the presence of God changes everything! It even makes doing the dishes a blessing. When we are conscious of the fact that we are continually in His presence, it changes how we talk to people, react to people (often with prayer instead of anger), and most importantly, how we think. One idea that can help us with this is to set some type of alarm (on a watch, perhaps?) for every 15 or 30 minutes, just to remind us to think about God and the fact that He is with us. Then, we can pray and thank Him for that.

Another resource that has been very helpful to me is, The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Myers. The battle is in our minds, and learning about how to control our thoughts and spiritual warfare is very helpful. Her books on habits are helpful, too (replace the bad with the good!)

It is certain that the Lord is calling us to (greater) holiness. The Lord Jesus Christ wants true disciples who follow His example. No compromise. No shades of grey. No syncretism (mixing Christianity with contradictory beliefs or actions.) Are you willing to give up whatever has been holding you back from living the kind of life you should? Whatever part of YOU that you aren’t willing to totally give to God? What do you need to give up/change/start doing/surrender and submit to God in order to live in holiness?

Through Teaching:
The Word of God: Our children need to be saturated in the Word of God. In order to do this, we also need to be saturated in the Word. This is the only way to grow, to Abide in the Lord, and His Word. To do this, obviously, we need to spend time in God’s Word daily. It is easy to let this go in favor of extra sleep, more time to work, or simply being too busy. But I’ve discovered the hard way that when I don’t spend the time I need to spend in the Word (and in prayer and worship), several things happen: I’m not abiding in the Lord as well as I should be, so I start to be crabby, selfish, depressed, and…well…carnal. The old man starts to win out. OR, I begin to feel spiritually “off”, or even find myself in spiritual oppression/warfare. Satan loves to attack us when we’re down, and when we don’t spend time in the Word, we’re down…we have opened ourselves up to attack. Don’t give the devil an opportunity!!

Another point: If we aren’t in the Word, it is really difficult for us to answer our children’s questions about the Word, God, salvation, etc. We need to be growing ever stronger and more mature in the Lord, so that we can answer our children’s questions about God!!

I have to admit, this is still something that I am working on. I’m in the Word almost every day now…I still have occasional days when I slip up. I try to do my devotional times first thing in the morning. I highly recommend the “Lord” series by Kay Arthur. Buy the CD’s or MP3’s that go with them, or join a group study. I’ve especially enjoyed Lord, Heal My Hurts, Lord, is it Warfare? Teach Me to Stand, and Lord, I Want to Know You.

Another way to help our children (and ourselves) abide in the Word is by memorizing it. We use Simply Charlotte Mason’s method for memorizing scripture. I simply read the scriptures to them over and over, and they join in as they can. Sometimes I break the scriptures up into short phrases for them to repeat, or I’ll let them fill in every other word of verses that they know fairly well. I don’t care as much about memorizing the references right now as I do memorizing the verses themselves. You can also use scripture memory songs to help you memorize (you can make up your own, or find some on Amazon.)

As for what to memorize: When your children are very young, start with simple, short verses like these:
Psalms 119:105; Psalms 118:1, Psalm 147:1. You could also start with scripture memory books, designed just for preschoolers, and memorize one Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet. Scripture Memory Fellowship offers a nice one designed especially for two and three year-olds (along with lots of other topical booklets with Bible verses to memorize, for all ages,) or you can print up your own memory verse cards for FREE from Homeschool Creations. Another option that is especially good for 4-6 year olds is Susan Hunt’s book, My A, B, C Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts. This book has a devotional and a memory verse for each letter (if I remember correctly, I had to self-edit a little of the devotionals to align them with our doctrinal beliefs, so you might want to pre-read the devotions before reading them to your kids.) This book contains slightly longer verses, for kids who have already had some experience with memory work.

As your children get older, move them up to longer verses, such as Psalms 34:13; James 1:19-20; Phil. 2:14; Romans 12:21; Psalms 56:3-4; Proverbs 20:11. Once your children reach second or third grade, you can also memorize the books of the Bible, the twenty-third Psalm, Psalm 100, the Apostle’s Creed, or even whole chapters of the Bible. Psalms and Ephesians are especially good for this.

Daily “Bible” time:
A daily devotional time with your children is an important component of teaching your children Biblical concepts, as is praying together, taking our children to church regularly, and simply talking to our children about spiritual matters.

Some families have their devotionals together first thing in the morning; others at night. If possible, dads should lead the devotions (in our home, Dad is going to start reading the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the week every night.) Young children need spiritual input from both their mothers and their fathers. A daily devotional does not have to be long; for preschoolers, 10-20 minutes is more than enough. This is what we do: We start by gathering in a comfortable place, such as a living or family room with a comfy couch. When our children were young, we’d start by singing active Sunday School-type songs, to get the wiggles out. Next, we’d sing a hymn or two. We concentrate on one or two hymns at a time, and start with just learning the first verse and the chorus. Hymns are important because they are filled with scripture (they can help with memorization) and doctrine. They are a spiritual heritage that I don’t want my children to miss out on, even though our church does “modern” worship almost exclusively. If you learn the hymns, the Lord will bring them into your mind to help, comfort, and encourage you when you are down…IF you know them. (NOTE: You can also buy more “modern” versions of hymns, sung by many of the popular contemporary Christian singers, if you want to. We have CD’s of hymns done by Amy Grant, for example.) We also sing some of the praise songs that we hear on the radio (we like K-LOVE) or that we sing in church. After this, we work on our Bible memory work, and finally, we read together. What we read depends on our children’s ages, listening abilities, and spiritual understanding. When our children were little, we’d read a short Bible story. As they get older, we move up to longer stories, and later, we read both stories and devotional books. Finally, we move up to reading the Bible itself.

Next post: What to read for daily devotions, final tips about teaching Bible, and things we must not overlook.

© 2010, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Portions of this post were taken from Homepreschool and Beyond, used with permission.

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Posted in Challenge to Parents, Family Fun, Homepreschool, Homeschool/homepreschool, Homeschooling, Parenting, Relationships, Spiritual Matters, Teaching Bible | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Christmas Gift!! (Gotcha!)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on December 25, 2011


Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.
Christina Rossetti

The “Christmas Gift” Tradition

I thought our family was the only family that did this….have you ever heard of the “Christmas Gift” tradition? The idea is to say, “Christmas Eve Gift,” and “Christmas gift” (on the appropriate days) to everyone in your family before they say it to you. No one I’ve asked outside my family has ever heard of it.

I’m thrilled to say, I’ve finally learned that we’re not alone! Check it out HERE–stories from lots of other families who have the same tradition! Some families apparently expect some type of gift (a small gift, like a candy or a nut) from others when they say it…we don’t. We just try to “get” the others in our family before they “get” us. It’s a neat way to remind each other that Jesus is the real gift of Christmas. We do the same thing on New Year’s Eve and New Years, too (we try to say “New Year’s Eve Gift”/”New Year’s Gift!” to each other before others say it to us.)

No one seems to know for sure where the tradition comes from. Some say it comes from Scotland (my family is Scottish)…others say it is a southern thing, originating from slaves…and others say it is an Okie thing (my mom was an “Okie”.) All I know is that I grew up with this tradition, and as weird as it may be to some of you, we think it’s really is fun! In fact, I need to get on the phone, call my brothers, and see if I can “get” them…<GRIN>

So, from my family to yours…

…Christmas Gift! Merry Christmas! May Jesus, our wonderful gift, bless you and yours today and always!

I found this public domain quote about it from the Ancestry site (link) as well… taken from Christmas Gift by Ferrol James, 1989, Dell Publishing:

“Christmas morning did not begin at daybreak but at least two hours before. It began with the thump and patter of the newly awakened feet of children….Finally a permissive mother would light a lamp and all Christmas would break loose. When some bolder child approached his bed to see if he was awake, Mr. Pharoah would leap up and startle the scout into immediate paralysis. “Christmas gift!” he would shout.
Then it rang all over the house. “Christmas gift!”

You said it first and you said it fast. You said it to anyone and everyone upon first sight that day. It was the salutation of the season used on that particular morning. It was an achievement to catch a sister, a cousin, an aunt or uncle unawares with the cry. “Christmas gift!”

…It was said that whoever beat another person to saying it was supposed to receive a present from that individual. When I said it to Simon or Coot or Clarence or any of Jesse Lee’s children, however, I was always answered with “Hand it here!” My sister Janice had a sharp ear and had early noted the disregard for terminal consonant or sibilant in the speech of the help. She consequently cut a fraction of a second from her time. “Chrimma giff!” she would yell, jumping from behind a door. It was hard to get Christmas gift on Sister Janice. It was impossible on Daddy. He beat everyone to it, his parents, his siblings, and certainly his children. He surprised, he startled, he anticipated everyone. It was a point of honor with him. He carried the custom into his eighties. He was even known to hide behind the smoke house and leap out at arriving grandchildren. “Christmas gift!” It is the cry of the Bear Cat. Of the Bareheaded Man. It brings Baby Jesus and Santa Claus together. It wraps them in red tissue paper adorned with a sprig of mistletoe or holly; it is a harmonious package. It really means “I love you,” and on that one morning each year it can be shouted exultantly to the heavens. Christmas gift! “Christmas gift! Everybody!”

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Family Fun, Family Life, Holidays | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Importance of Keeping Traditions

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on December 17, 2011


This post contains a partial outline/overview of the introductory section of the chapter on “Holidays and Traditions” in Homepreschool and Beyond. 

Remember, we have only ONE WEEK to make sure that all of our traditions/fun baking and craft ideas get done this year. Can you believe it?!

Christians need to reclaim the territory of our spiritual heritage. The onus lies on us, as Christian parents, to entrust our children with the true significance of these special occasions. Our celebrations must be distinctive, for the sake of our children and of a Christ-less world.

        -Ann Hibbard, Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays and Special Occasions

We are a very “tradition-based” family come Christmas time. We tend to do the same activities in pretty much the same way every year. I think we all know that traditions are important (especially for little children), but have you ever taken the time to think about why?

-Traditions are about “the main thing”: building relationships. “Traditions help us strengthen our relationship to God, our families, and our children. They help us remember what is truly important.”

-Traditions provide security: In today’s world, children need to know that life at home continues pretty much the same as always. As much as possible, our homes should be havens from the troubled world around us. This is important to children of all ages.

-Traditions are part of our family identity and culture; they reveal who we are, where we belong, what is important to us, and what is unique about us.

-Traditions provide continuity between the generations, and they are a source of family memories and stories.

-A year is a long time for preschoolers, who depend on holidays to make sense of the passage of time. The book, Over and Over by Charlotte Zontolow  is a great book to help preschoolers understand the order of the seasons and the holidays (we skip over the two pages about Halloween.)

Product Details

-Traditions allow us to make Bible stories and the history of our country come alive

– Traditions are FUN!!

Here is a list of some of the traditions we are going to keep this year:

-Christmas ornaments/decorating the tree:
Every year each child gets a new Christmas ornament. I write the child’s name and the date on the bottom of it with a Sharpie pen. We try to choose ornaments that reflect something memorable that happened that year. For instance, the year they learn to ride a bike, their ornament might have a Santa riding a bike; the year they got a new pet, an ornament with a cat or dog on it, etc. In addition, each child has his/her own ornament box. When the time comes to decorate the tree, each child takes great joy in looking over his/her own special ornaments, and remembering the past years (and past Christmases). Other tree-trimming traditions: Listening to Amy Grant’s Christmas Album; taking pictures of each family member putting their first ornament on the tree; eating pizza; and later in the evening, putting in a Christmas movie (usually It’s a Wonderful Life.)

-Baking and decorating sugar cookies (a messy proposition, usually involving tons of icing and sprinkles.)

-Making daddy popcorn balls and beef jerky (another messy proposition.)

-Reading TONS of Christmas books

-We have a special Christmas book we read each night in December, called The Advent Calendar Pop-Up Book, by Meryl Doney.  Each flap reveals a little more of the Christmas story. (There is one sentence I edit for accuracy).   Although it is out of print, it’s still easy to find on Amazon or E-Bay.

Advent Calendar/Pop-Up

-Attending our church’s Christmas Eve service.

-Making a cake on Christmas Eve, and singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus on Christmas day.

-This year, we’re making tons of Christmas art: The boys have already been busy painting resin ornaments and Santas. In addition, I hope to get them involved in more painting, metal art, puff art, shrinky dinks, felt ornaments, paper ornaments, and more! Here are links to some of my favorite, inspirational ideas:

Kid’s Crafts from Martha Stewart 

Family Fun Magazine

Activity Village

The Artful Parent

-Traditional crafts for older kids: Orange Pomanders 

Metal garden lanterns or candle lanterns

-Inspirations for mommy-crafts:

Better Homes and Gardens: Embroidery stitches (how-to)

Better Homes and Gardens, decorating with pinecones (and pinecone crafts)

Have fun!

~Susan

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.  © 2010, 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Art, Crafts, Encouragement, Family Fun, Family Life, Holidays | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Links and Ideas for Thanksgiving

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on November 14, 2011


Here are some of my favorite ideas for Thanksgiving:

The five kernels of corn tradition

-Memorize Psalm 100:4 (or all of Psalm 100), Psalm 118:1, or 1 Thessalonians 5:18

-Make “thankfulness” the  theme of the month. Make a “thankfulness” jar or wall display (tree with leaves, clothespin wreath,  paper wreath, etc.)

-Decorate: Let the kids help you decorate the table, make place cards, etc. Options: Go on a nature walk and gather pretty leaves, acorns, seed pods, etc and combine with pumpkins, persimmons, gourds or fresh fruit and candles’; OR decorate your Thanksgiving table with your kid’s crafts: Handprint turkeys, Paperbag turkeys, Pilgrim Hats, toilet paper tube indians/pilgrims (picture here; directions here),  MORE craft ideas .

Paint place mats, name cards etc with fall colors OR print with leaves, roll a small corn cob in fabric paint then roll on napkins,OR collage popcorn kernels, dried, split green peas, etc on namecards as a border, or the names themselves.

-Purchase a plain, white, cotton tablecloth and fabric pens. Each year, have guests write what they are thankful for on the tablecloth, then date and sign their names. This tablecloth will become more special over the years (be sure pens don’t bleed through to the table; if necessary, put butcher paper or cardboard underneath.)

-Give time (service) or give financially to the homeless shelter, Love Inc., etc. Many groups/churches gather food baskets for the poor this time of year, as well.

Singing: (Hymns): Doxology, Showers of Blessings, Count Your Blessings; (Choruses): God is so Good, -Praise Him, Praise Him ( praise him, praise Him in the morning, praise Him at the noontime…),  Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, alleluia (praise ye the Lord), Turkey Dinner Song 

Finger Plays:  5 Little Pilgrims, 5 Little Turkeys,  lots more HERE.

 Favorite Thanksgiving Books:

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Metaxas

Three Young Pilgrims, by Cheryl Harness

The Thanksgiving Story, by Alice Dalgliesh

He Remembered to Say Thank-You, by Mann (an Arch Bible story book)

Sometimes it’s Turkey, Sometimes it’s Feathers, by Lorna Balian

Favorite board books include Let’s Celebrate God’s Blessings on Thanksgiving, by Caldwell The Story of Thanksgiving, by Skarmeas, and I’m Thankful Each Day, by Hallinan (the version from Candy Cane Press).

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author. 

Posted in Art, Book Lists, Family Fun, Holidays, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Making Storytime Special

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 10, 2011


 (Classic repost, updated.)     

       Many years ago I had an experience I’ll never forget.  While visiting a friend’s house–a mother of preschoolers–I observed the following: Her little one brought her a book, and trundled onto her lap so that she could be read to. My friend pulled her up onto her lap, and started reading to her…but this was no ordinary story. It was the fastest story I’ve ever heard! There was no expression, nor any discussion of the book or its pictures. She read it as quickly as she could, just to get it over with. 

       I hope this wasn’t the usual way stories went at her house. I understand that she did have company, and she wanted to placate her child so that we could continue our visit. But the whole thing made me sad. It’s something I’ve never forgotten.

       Reading aloud should be a special time of bonding between parent and child. It should never be viewed only as an obligation—something to be rushed through at break-neck speed. Story time should be enjoyed…relished. 

       There are so many ways to make story time special. They are all simple, and so much fun!  Here are a few ideas:

 -Take your time and enjoy the story. Read a little more slowly than you think you need to. Enunciate your words clearly; your children copy your speech.

-Read with expression, and get into character: whisper, shout, growl, squeal, and make animal sounds as appropriate. Make male voices sound low, and female voices higher. Make each character as unique as you can–my boys love it when I add a southern accent for Hank the Cowdog.

-Encourage your children to chime in when there is a familiar or repetitive phrases.

-Pause at the end of phrases, to see if your child can fill in any missing words.   

-Try reading in new places:  How about a picnic read aloud time?  You can have a picnic indoors or out.  Maybe your little girls would enjoy a “tea time” reading. Read in different rooms, in your bed, in front of the fireplace, during bathtime, and so on. We love to read while snuggling on the couch, under a fluffy blanket.

-Try including pets or “loveys” (favorite blankets or stuffed animals) in your reading time.

-Extend your read-aloud time by acting out nursery rhymes and favorite stories, and watch your children’s play for signs that your read-aloud time is sinking-in: You’ll know you’ve found a gem of a book when your children include the book in their pretend-play spontaneously.

-Talk about the story:  Speculate: What might happen next? What could the character have done differently? Notice the details in the pictures, as they relate to the story. Ask your child to describe the characters:  What kind of dog is Harry? (A black dog with white spots.)  What is the one thing he doesn’t like?  (He doesn’t like taking a bath. These details are from one of our favorite books,  Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion.)

-Notice details in each book’s art: How are the pictures made? Are they drawn, painted, colored, or collaged (what is the medium used?) Notice the artist’s use of color and light as well.

-Have your child tell the story, or part of it, back to you (narration.) 

-Give your child a “print-rich” environment.  Keep books at your child’s eye-level, to encourage them to investigate books themselves—or pick out books that they would like to hear. We used plastic rain gutters to make bookshelves right by our boy’s beds and provided them with reading lamps to encourage them to read in bed.

-Choose books that are about topics that are of special interest to your children. Consider turning books/storytime into a daily or weekly unit study or “theme” by reading about one main topic at a time, and by adding fun activities/art projects/dramatic play, etc that enhances the reading experience.

-Communicate to your children that books are important to you.  Let your children see you reading books. Share books that you loved as a child with your children.

-Buy books as presents; give books as rewards (books are only rewards if they are GOOD books. Check out my archives for “book lists” and my post on  “Choosing and Finding Classic Picture Books”.)

-(For older children): Read a book, and then watch a movie based on the book.  How are they different? Which is better? Why?   

-Something we do: Quote special sentences/passages from favorite books (and movies) when appropriate. Ask your children if they remember which books the sayings are from, which character said it, how he said it, and so on.

      Don’t just read to your children—make reading special!

© 2010/2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. 

Posted in Book Lists, Challenge to Parents, circle time, Elementary School, Encouragement, Family Fun, Family Life, Homepreschool, Homeschool, homeschool methods, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, Mothering, Parenting, Picture Books, preschool at home, Reading Aloud | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Things I Learned While Camping

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 2, 2011


Our family is on our second “season” of trailer camping. It really does involve some learning/skills to get it done right…lots of planning, too. Each trip seems to get easier; it’s almost a fine art. Here are some of the things I’ve learned by living in a trailer:

1. I  learned how to flush a toilet with my foot: Lift up to add water, push down to flush. Oh—you have to be careful where you put the toilet paper…put it in the wrong spot and it won’t go down, so you’ll end up fishing for it. Yuck.

2. I’ve learned how to sleep on a dining room table: Well, once it’s transformed into a bed, that is.

3. I’ve learned how to sleep at odd angles: Head higher than my feet, feet higher than my head, one side of the bed slightly higher than the other (just enough  that I feel like I’m “rolling” to one side, and so on.) We don’t have one of those new-fangled rigs that levels itself; we have to try to level off by driving the trailer wheels onto boards—so we can only get so close.

3. I’ve learned how to shower in the tiniest spaces imaginable, where I touch a wall or shower curtain with every move (yuck again.)

4. I’ve learned how to open cabinet doors: We only just realized that half our cabinets (the ones we thought we had to yank hard to open, and slam to close) have a retractable catch on them…all we have to do is pull up a tiny bit on the knobs to open and close the cabinets gently (if they aren’t ruined because we yanked on them and slammed them so often.) Boy, do we feel silly. I guess it goes back to that old axiom: “read the instructions.”

5. I’ve learned to put on my make-up and blow-dry my hair sight unseen.

6. I’ve learned that nature (or camping?!) seems to affect people’s personalities: It makes them kinder, friendlier and more helpful to others. NOTE TO SELF: Spend more time in the natural world and in nature study next year!

7. I learned to do without most of the things I thought I couldn’t do without.

8. I learned to appreciate simple things like my own, comfy bed and a hot shower (especially a shower that lasts as long as you want it to.) I’ve also learned to do what my dad called a “Navy Shower”: Get in and rinse off; turn the water off. Stand there shivering and soap up, then turn the water back on to rinse. Brrr. I’m asking my hubby to install an electric “instant” hot water heater in our trailer ASAP.

9. I learned that when little boys play outside long enough, they’ll put themselves to bed.

10. I learned that a large family can indeed live happily in a very small space.

11. I learned that real life experiences really are the best teachers (for me and the kids).

Helpful hints for new RVers/Campers:

*Create a master packing list (and remember, you really can’t have too many towels, wipes, or zippy bags–we use them to “catch” throw-up on windy roads, and for collecting treasures at the beach, etc.) Kathy: Thanks for the idea! Ben only threw up *once* this trip…the bags worked perfectly.

*Bring bicycles, scooters, etc.

*Buy an electric griddle and cook outside a few mornings (we had scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes!)

*Spurge on some really comfortable chairs and a BIG plastic rug for outside time…when you RV, your family room is outside.

*Bring family games along (this trip we played Double Solitaire, Casino, Three Kings in a Corner, and Uno Tiles.)

*Plan to spend lots of time walking and hiking (the trail guides at CA’s state parks are worth the quarter…give the kids the job of finding the markers along the trail. Your job is to read each marker’s entry—it explains what you’re looking at–and help your kids grow their sense of awe.) We love getting out in nature! This trip we’ve seen: Deer, Cormorants (and their babies!), ducks (and ducklings!), Stellar Jays, Chipmunks, and one giant Banana Slug (among other critters.)

-Stop at state parks! Be sure to check out the park’s visitor center. Our favorite this trip was at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: The Visitor’s Center had labeled birds nests and other park “finds”; stuffed wildlife (we asked, and yes, they died natural deaths…Ben said the tiny fawn there made him want to cry); lift and match flaps with info about the coastal redwoods, animal habitats, etc; maps; history of the area, AND—the boy’s favorite—rubber stamps of animal footprints (we wished we had more time there, but we got there near the end of the day.)

*Have campfires at night and hang out around them; make S’Mores (you can buy JUMBO sized marshmallows at Target stores)

*Spend at least ONE day doing NOTHING but “hanging around” the campsite and relaxing

*Have fun!  ~Susan

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

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How to Play Double Solitaire

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 10, 2011


   Here are the Lemons’ Family Rules for double solitaire:

   Tip: Start with two different sets of cards–cards that look different so that they are easy to separate at the end of the game. Remove the Jokers.

   Sit facing your opponent. Each player sets up his/her own, traditional Solitaire game, leaving space in the middle for runs starting with aces as usual. There are no turns; as soon as both players are ready, just say “go” and start playing (it’s a race!)  The goal of the game, just like in single solitaire, is to use all your cards–those under the 7 piles, and those in your hand. Play is the same as with single solitaire, except:

-You may play on your opponents cards, but you may not move your opponent’s cards.

-You may fill any empty space in your cards, but not your opponents.

-You may fill your empty spaces with any card that you choose (doesn’t have to be a King).

-Both players can play in the center space (the ace runs) at will, including removing end-cards to use elsewhere. BUT you cannot split the runs to remove cards or build more runs. All runs in the center must start with aces.

-If both players cannot play, they can agree to change the way they use their card pile–the cards you hold in your hand. I.E., instead of going through the card pile by 3’s, you can agree to go by 2’s. This rarely happens; usually the game goes fast and furious until someone is “out.” 

  Have fun! ~Susan

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

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More About Family Games/Playing Games with Preschoolers

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 7, 2011


        Is your family a game-playing family? Our family loves to play games. In fact, some of my favorite childhood memories involve games, because games are a wonderful way of building relationships (watching movies…not so much.)  I can remember playing games with my mother when I was young, and playing hours-long Monopoly games with my brothers. The first games we learned to play were Parcheesi, checkers, Uno, and Booby Trap;  when we got older, we played Scrabble, Rummy-Z (a tile-rummy game; look on E-Bay), Yatzee and various card games.  Most of all, I remember our “holiday” games. There was another family that we were very close to; we spent almost all our holidays together. Traditionally, we would play games after dinner.  Most often we would play Tripoli (a combination of Poker, Michigan Rummy and Hearts) or Rummy-Z, although we dabbled with other games, as well. We would laugh at how seriously our friends took the rules, and looked suspiciously at anyone who had to “look at the box” (the directions ofTripoli were printed on the lid, and explained which hands were the best during poker.) There were almost always peanuts on the table, and chips and dip nearby.

        The key to game-playing is, dare I say it? Starting early (gasp…) I feel the same way about music, too…listening to and participating in music play from an early age is key to develop an “ear” for music/musical skill, just as watching others play/enjoy games from an early age helps children become interested in games, learn the rules of games, etc (as long as you keep it FUN and developmentally appropriate.) Our children grew up watching us play games, sitting on our laps to “help” us play games, etc. It was an important day for them when they graduated to sitting next to mom or dad, playing on their own hands!

        In my book, I list a ton of games/learning games for preschoolers—some home-made, some store bought. Some are “learning” games that teach specific skills, others are more generic. I can’t share all the game ideas that are in my book, but I can list some of our favorite, “generic”, family games. I’ve listed them (approximately) by age. Since game playing is another developmental skill, be sure to check the recommended ages and use your own discernment. We found that our children could often play the games at least a year younger than recommended on the box (especially with help) but your children might be different.

First Card Games (age 4 and up, with help)

Go Fish, Uno, Tutti Fruiti (this game is not made anymore; watch for it at yard sales or on Amazon and E-Bay. It was from Discovery Toys.

Other First Games

Uno Moo, Memory, Toss-A-Cross, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders

Next Step Card Games (in approximate order of easiest to hardest; age 5 with help, age 6+ independent play):

Slamwhich OR Slap, War, Casino, Four Kings in a Corner, Uno Attack

Other Next Step Games:

Twister, Sorry, Parcheesi or Chinese Checkers (basically different takes on the same games); Blockus; Checkers (begin to learn, anyway; a fun variation is to play it with different colored Goldfish crackers or small cookies; eat what you jump!), Monopoly Junior, Jenga,Sum Swamp, Connect Four

Harder Card Games (for older kids/adults):

Golf , Solitaire, Double Solitaire (I’ll share our special rules in the next post), Racko, Pit (loud, fast, and fun! Great for a crowd of older kids, teens and adults); Skip Bo, Poker, Uno Flash, Simple Rummy Games (various)

Other Types of Harder Games:

Chess, Mancala, Monopoly, Apples to Apples Junior/Apples to Apples, Up Words, Scrabble, Banana Grams…

        There are so many more!  We have several new games we’re dying to try out: Five Crowns, Swap, Phase 10, Monopoly Deal, Rage….fun, fun, FUN! 

        If your family has never been a “game playing” family, I’d like to encourage you to try. Set aside a special “game night”; serve an easy, favorite meal (pizza, barbeque, etc) and then spend an hour (or two!) playing games.  You will be building relationships, building memories, and helping your children build thinking skills. Give it a try; you won’t regret it.

        Is your family a game playing family? Do you have any games to recommend? I’d love to hear your comments.

         Next post: Rules for Double Solitaire

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Challenge to Parents, Encouragement, Family Fun, Games, Parenting, Play, Relationships | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »