Kids’ Worship Notes Worksheet

Worship Notes for Kids

Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Homeschooling in Hard Times: Doing More With Less

Homeschooling on a shoestring budget
The economic downturn has had an impact on virtually every segment of society, and the homeschool community is no exception. In fact, because many homeschooling families rely on a single income, they may even be more susceptible to the effects of unemployment or reduced earnings than the average household. And while we’re generally a pretty frugal crowd anyway, perhaps if we pool our knowledge we can come up with additional ways to trim costs, expand options, and remain faithful to our calling in spite of hardships. With that thought in mind, here are a few of my own random ideas on the matter.

Product Options

Apologia Biology Does textbook edition matter? Sometimes quite a lot, other times, not so much. For instance, the differences between the 1st edition and 2nd edition of Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology are largely related to cosmetics and convenience. Our family has used both, and we feel confident that either one would provide comprehensive, up-to-date instruction in the subject.

Conversely, the difference between the 2nd and 3rd editions of Saxon Math 8/7 are drastic. The former basically provided a holding pattern/continuation of the arithmetic found in Math 7/6 for students who were not intellectually prepared to move on to Algebra. The updated 3rd edition has been completely revamped to include significant pre-algebra instruction and greater challenge overall. Either one may fit well with your family’s goals, but it’s important to know the difference.

If a used older edition will work just as well at a fraction of the cost, the money you save can be spent in areas where there’s less flexibility with options. Homeschool message boards are a good place to get the scoop on edition differences. Homeschoolers are notoriously generous with their expertise, so asking for opinions on an active board will likely yield valuable information. Publishers and retailers are also usually willing to share insights. At Finders-Keepers, we often chat with customers who are just trying to get a feel for their options before they make a purchase.

One word of caution about old editions: Try to purchase the essential elements all at once. Otherwise, you may end up with a fabulous textbook for which answer keys or student workbooks are impossible to find.

Vintage materials– Nobody loves a vintage textbook more than me. But let’s face it–if you use an antiquated curriculum for certain subjects, there will be problems later on. Some “heritage” resources provide high quality content that is truly timeless. Others are decidedly obsolete, no matter how charming. Such resources are better reserved for a supplementary glimpse into the past rather than a source of primary instruction. For example, we used and enjoyed A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer, but our copy of A Child’s Geography of the World by the same author was relegated to novelty status.

Sourcing Options – Purchasing

Buying Used – For most of us, the first line of cost cutting measures is buying used curricula. Online swap boards at sites such as VegSource, The Well Trained Mind, Homeschool Classifieds, HSLDA, and Homeschool Christian, can be a gold mine for bargain hunters. Ebay is still a good option, but is somewhat less lucrative since they outlawed teacher’s manuals. (This policy was recently reversed.) Some regional homeschool groups sponsor used book sales in conjunction with their homeschool conventions, and local associations may provide an avenue for impromptu transactions or newsletter classifieds.

Discount suppliers are the usually the next line of homeschool fiscal defense. Many are quite good, but watch out for shopping surprises like jacked up shipping costs, undisclosed sales tax expenses, shipping delays/inconsistent availability, or non-existent customer service. We’ve been on the buying end of all these issues at one time or another, and we know they can quickly turn a bargain buy into a regrettable fiasco. A special word of caution is in order for Rosetta Stone language software: The marketplace is absolutely flooded with pirated copies. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! If you’re in doubt about a potential purchase, take a quick look at this Rosetta Stone Safe & Smart Buying Guide.

If buying new is your only option, you can sometimes squeeze out a bit of extra savings by utilizing or even stacking consumer incentives. Rewards credit cards can sometimes be coupled with benefits such as Bing Cashback, Ebates, Big Crumbs, etc. to shave off a few more dollars. Of course, it’s always important to focus on the final delivered price when comparison shopping.

Sourcing Options – Borrowing

Public Library – Yes, this is obvious. But if you’re like me, you may have had previous experience with an under-funded, inconvenient, and poorly stocked library that was more trouble than it was worth. I recently became reacquainted with our county library and was pleasantly surprised at how far it had come. The entire catalog is available online, books can be perused, reserved, or renewed online, and the interlibrary and intralibrary loan procedures have been streamlined. Furthermore, the shelves have been stocked up, so quality materials are always readily available.

Homeschool Lending Library – Many homeschool groups have lending libraries that offer curricula to members free of charge. Though our own association is of modest size, our lending library is impressive, and a family could definitely make do with its resources in a pinch.

Alternating Grade Swaps – Seek out likeminded local homeschooling families who have kids a year older and/or a year younger than yours, and work out an arrangement to swap out materials from one year to the next. Some of our loyal Shurley, Saxon, and Apologia customers do this, and it works out quite well. One family buys the odd grade level kits, the other picks up the evens, and they switch out non-consumable components every year.

Put Out the Word – If you are plugged in to your local homeschool community, let people know that your budget is stretched to its limit and you’d be grateful for the opportunity to borrow materials. You may even be able to work out a bartering arrangement with services such as babysitting or tutoring to help earn used books.

Public School Materials – This would not be a first choice for most of us, and administration hostility toward homeschoolers makes it an impossibility for many, but if you’re in a school district that’s homeschool friendly you may be able to borrow textbooks from the system. Obviously great care is warranted when considering such materials, but some extra effort spent editing and enhancing a public school text may be just the investment that enables you to continue homeschooling when times are lean.

Sourcing Options – Do It Yourself

Unit Study – I’ll never forget the day I figured out that teaching young children isn’t rocket science, and that putting together a unit study could actually be fun. That was many years ago. I’m working on a unit study for my grandkids right now, and though it does require a good bit of time and energy, it allows me to custom-fit a lesson plan that is precisely suited to their needs. And did I mention? It’s cheap!

Borrowing From a Table of Contents – The prospect of striking out on your own may be intimidating because of an over-abundance of material rather than a lack thereof. Borrowing guidelines from a Scope and Sequence or Table of Contents for a quality course can offer a template for appropriate instruction using free online materials. Honing in on what to study and in what order can simplify the planning process and prevent excessive, unfocused rabbit chasing.

4-H as a Spine – 4-H is an outstanding resource, and I don’t know why homeschoolers don’t talk about it more. The cost is absolutely minimal. If you want to join a 4-H club, you’ll have access to guided instruction from the leader as well as group learning opportunities. But I’m more excited about their printed resources than club activities. 4-H Curriculum Publications span a wide variety of subjects and age groups, can be ordered online, and they’re dirt cheap. They don’t include all the direct instruction you’ll need, but they do provide a structured lesson path, some direct instruction, worksheets, and activity/project suggestions. By adding a quality text or two from the library you can have everything you need to study anything from entomology to wind energy.

Exciting Enrichments

Apprenticeships – At a time when labor costs are crushing businesses and education expenses are straining families, the apprenticeship arrangement is more practical than ever. An expert in a particular field can exchange his time spent training for the free labor of a trustworthy student. It can be an informal, short term situation, or something more substantial. Put away your preconceived notions about which trades might be well suited for an apprentice and imagine the possibilities.

Contests –It’s amazing how many student contests are going on at any given time, in virtually every subject area. You could really beef up a school year just by having your students prepare and submit entries. And who knows? They might even win some cash and prizes! Some contests provide lesson plans and teaching scripts for student projects. For instance, last year’s “Invention Dimension” contest offered a complete Educator’s Guide and Workbook, both of which were available to download free online. I was so impressed with these particular resources that I saved copies to adapt for use in future school projects. And of course, the Finders-Keepers Facebook Page has drawings for free homeschool curriculum materials on a regular basis.

BotballBotball is an outstanding opportunity for students who are interested in technology:

“The Botball Educational Robotics Program gives students skills, experience, and opportunities to succeed as they work in teams to design, build and program a pair of autonomous robots for regional and international competitions.”

Our son (who is now a computer programmer) was very active in Botball, and it would be hard to overstate the impact this experience had on him. Under the leadership of a local computer science professor, he learned about project management, time management, proper documentation, the importance of teamwork and good sportsmanship, and, oh yeah…programming.

Website Resources – There seems to be no limit to the number of websites offering quality instruction for students—both in terms of printable resources and online instruction & activities.

Commercial, government, and non-profit organizations all seem to be scrambling to reach this internet-oriented generation, and many of the pages are quite good. Of course, this vast realm of information can be overwhelming, so I prefer to think first about what I need to teach, and then consider what agency or company might be a trustworthy authority on the matter and go from there. For instance, for family preparedness, you could visit the FEMA website and utilize their FEMA for Kids activities. The USDA Youth Resources are helpful for nutrition instruction, as is some of the information in the Kraft Foods Kids’ section. The National Digital Science Library is a clearinghouse of information, featuring links to all sorts of science-related websites. (Just watch out for worldview bias.)

Thinking outside the box – Sometimes all you really need is some time to think about how to teach a particular concept creatively. I was recently trying to come up with a good way for my grandson to learn about the different types of rooster combs. After a great deal of fruitless searching online, I decided to step away from my computer and just think about it for a few minutes. Within moments the idea of “Mr. Egg Head” came to mind, in which he could mold the various comb shapes using an egg as his model chicken head. It was a minor thing, but it reminded me how important a bit of intentional contemplation can be to the creative process.

Concurrent Enrollment – This is only an option if you are located near a homeschool-friendly college or university, and it can be very expensive. However, some institutions—including the one nearest our family—offer partial scholarships for concurrent enrollment students. The cost isn’t exactly peanuts, but for a mature student it’s a more economical option for studying subjects that would otherwise require a major investment in specialized equipment and instructional materials.

Cooperative Extension Service – These ”county agent” offices provide instructional publications on subjects related to health & nutrition, home & garden, natural resources, agriculture, and more. While the content is geared toward adults, it would be appropriate for use with upper level students, and would be practical preparation for running their own households someday.

Master Gardener Course – This is actually part of the Cooperative Extension Service, but it’s such a great opportunity that it deserves a mention of its own. In exchange for a reasonable notebook fee and 40 hours of volunteer gardening labor (still more training!) over the course of the subsequent year, you can gain access to intensive horticultural instruction that’s taught by experts and specifically geared toward your climate. My youngest daughter and I completed Master Gardener training when she was in 11th grade, and I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the program.

This is just a handful of ideas to consider. Hopefully as families discover new ways to achieve their goals without breaking their banks, the homeschool community will be marked by insightful exchanges, heartfelt encouragement, and a victorious view of the future.

Want to take a school day detour to study earthquakes and tsunamis?

Major news events like today’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan present an opportunity to teach subjects in a uniquely relevant context. If your family will be watching (and praying) as events unfold, why not take a little time to learn about the science behind the destruction, as well as some important safety tips?

The NOAA website has some great links to quality teaching resources on tsunamis and earthquakes , including the USGS Earthquakes for Kids page and Tsunami: The Great Waves–a top quality, full color booklet that you can print on demand or view online. And for those who own a copy of Apologia Physical Science, you can review the information on earthquakes and tsunamis on pages 148-151.

This 8 minute animated video on tsunamis is informative and entertaining:

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 9:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Cosmopolitan in the Candy Aisle: The Battle Continues ~ Foot Soldiers Needed

Cosmopolitan Magazine, Lollipops, and Doritos in the Checkout Aisle

I was standing in line at our community’s newly opened Dollar General store a few days ago when I happened to glance over and notice the September issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  I immediately blushed.  Cosmo and I go way back—but not as friends.  For nearly 20 years I have been waging a private battle to get this vulgar publication placed beyond the view of the young eyes that pass through store checkout lanes.   In the early days, my biggest beef was the scantily clad women on the cover.  But in recent years, the titles of the cover stories have become more and more shocking, making the exposed cleavage seem rather tame by comparison.  (If you’re feeling brave or need to be convinced, you can find a gallery of Cosmo covers with a quick Google search, but be forewarned—they are explicit.)

Joe Camel is a vile offender, but smut-laden Cosmopolitan covers are kid friendly?

Is this the same culture that’s determined that a gas station sign with Joe Camel is a heinous assault on childhood?  Why is it that the graphic sexual content emblazoned in bold type across the Cosmo cover gets a pass? Ladies and gentlemen, these are not articles about relationship basics with innocuously vague titles.  It’s the kind of stuff you would never, ever bring up in polite conversation, and they would probably be awkward topics even among the closest of friends. And yet, there it is.  RIGHT IN THE CANDY AISLE—AT CHILD’S-EYE LEVEL!

This is not something that I complain about every time I go shopping. It’s more of an occasional endeavor, and I’m sure there are others whom I’ve never met who are taking a stand as well.  We’ve had some success getting action in our town, but it has taken time, patience, and changes of strategy.  For instance, after getting nowhere with our Wal-Mart Super Center in spite of numerous attempts, a former WM corporate insider gave me an invaluable tip.  He said that while store managers and district managers have little control over the merchandising arrangements within their stores, the corporate office has initiatives in place to adapt to local community values.  He advised that I change to a “This is not acceptable in our community” approach.  A call to their consumer services hotline and a brief but pointed letter got the desired results:  Content shields that obscure everything but the face of the model and the name of the magazine. (I followed up with a letter to the editor of our local newspaper, thanking Wal-Mart for their action.)

Another strategy that has been effective is to actually repeat the titles of the articles out loud to the person receiving the complaint.  This is not for the faint of heart, and it certainly goes against my nature.  But I’ve found that the embarrassment that ensues when I actually refer to the content specifically highlights just how inappropriate it is for children.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Thanks so much for taking a moment to speak with me. I wanted to share a concern I had about this magazine.  I picked up right over there—next to the Ring Pops and Snickers bars.  Would you agree that that’s right about at the eye level of an elementary school student?


Well, take a look at the cover stories here.  This one is about (*insert exact title of graphic content*).  Is that a subject you’d feel comfortable discussing around your family’s dinner table?

Absolutely not.

If you overheard two of your employees discussing that topic within earshot of customers, would you give them a reprimand?


Then I think you can understand why parents of young children wouldn’t want these topics thrust upon them without their consent.  It’s a really bad idea—just completely inappropriate.  So I’d like to ask you to do whatever is necessary to get this kind of product moved to an area that is not easily visible by children.

Yes, ma’am, I’ll speak to (*whoever’s next up the ladder*).

Here are a few other things I keep in mind when addressing this issue:

To avoid the censorship debate, I keep my focus on moving the magazine away from kids—not on removing it from the store entirely. (That’s a separate issue.)

I make sure that the situation is right for me to make my complaint without inconveniencing the folks in line behind me, or drawing the attention of any minors in the area.

I ask permission to take a picture of the magazine and surrounding kiddie foods, so I can document the relative proximity.  This request has never been denied.

I treat the store staff kindly and respectfully.  After all, they had no part in the decision to sell the magazine or to merchandise it in such a foolish manner.

I know we can turn the tide back toward decency, but it’s going to take a lot of concerned shoppers who aren’t afraid to voice their objections.  So I’m asking…if you’re tired of the premature sexualization of our kids…if you’re sick of seeing the delicate beauty of human intimacy promoted as common vulgarity…if you’d rather not have half naked women put on display for a captive childhood audience…will you take a moment to speak up if the opportunity presents itself?  Will you ask friends and family to do the same?  After all, if we all do a little, we can do a lot!

Would you like some Nilla Cakesters or Mini Oreos to go with your graphic sex tips?

Win a FREE Apologia Biology Set (Student Text, Solutions & Tests Manual, Extra Test Booklet). Entering is EASY!

contest post on the Finders-Keepers Facebook page.  The winner will receive a free

For our Apologia Biology contest, we had originally planned to touch upon biodiversity and the interdependence of life.  However, the oil crisis in the Gulf—which is, of course, upsetting the balance of nature—is such a sensitive and/or grievous subject for so many that we thought it best to go in a different direction for now.  Having said that…

Since Biology is the study of life,  for this week’s contest we’d like you to name a song that has some form of the word “life” in the title.  It can be any genre (hymns, country, pop, etc.) , from any era, and in any language.

To enter simply write your answer as a “Comment” to the appropriateApologia Biology Set.

All entries must be received by Noon CST on Wednesday, June 16th, and the drawing will be that afternoon. One winner will be selected randomly from the number of responses received. The winner will be announced on Facebook, and he or she will receive a message from Finders-Keepers requesting shipping information. Please feel free to share the contest information with friends and family, but we do request that responses be limited to one per person.

And don’t forget, the Finders-Keepers website offers free Apologia Notebook Pages and Sample Modules, as well as fantastic prices on Apologia Science materials with FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more.

Strategies for Sanity in the Schoolroom: The Dad Cam

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this in a place as public and as permanent as the internet, but things haven’t always been sweetness and light in our schoolroom. (What? You already knew our lives weren’t perfect?) Most days were great, but when you’re living, working, studying, eating, playing, etc. in such close proximity, the minor conflicts of normal life can be magnified, and they can easily get out of control if left unchecked.

I was determined to address problems as quickly and fairly as possible, but as my darling little cherubs grew into clever little debaters, I found myself spending a lot time trying sorting out who said what to whom, what their tone of voice and facial expressions were like, what happened just before and just after, who had initial possession of any items involved…you get the picture. And after all that, it still often came down to a he said/she said situation. If the offense was more serious and required some counsel from Dad, the play-by-play had to be repeated several hours later, adding to the opportunity for misrepresentation.

It finally hit me one day that what I needed was instant replay—just like in a sporting event. This was long before the days of web cams or cell phones that captured video, so it was an off the wall concept at the time. I got out our old clunky camcorder and set it up in a place that offered the perfect blend of scope and detail. I told the kids my plan, then pressed “RECORD”. The Dad Cam was in operation.

Your first response to this idea might be, “Sure, anybody will be on good behavior if they know they’re being taped.” Uh, yeah. It was kind of nice.

But that can only last so long, and our Dad Cam stuck around for quite some time. It served several purposes:

1. If there was a minor conflict that just required a quick sorting out of fact from fiction, I’d say, “Let’s go to tape.” We’d gather ’round the VCR, and the truth would be plain for all to see in a matter of moments. Those who were mistaken or downright deceitful had an immediate opportunity to make things right. Those who were wrongly accused were vindicated.

2. If an opinion from Dad was in order, he could simply watch the video to see what really happened instead of trying to sort out the facts from several perspectives.

3. It gave me—the mom—a chance to see how I really looked and sounded. Sometimes I was harsher than I should have been. Sometimes a little more patience was in order. Sometimes a more watchful eye could have kept things in check.

4. If something wonderfully extraordinary happened in the course of a school day, we had a record of the event. On many occasions, the Dad Cam played a part in letting others get a glimpse of an amusing or profound moment in our homeschool.

These days, access to video is cheaper, faster, and easier than ever before, and even constant streaming is an option for regular folks. It’s the perfect time to bring the Dad Cam into a new era. If you’re looking for ways to keep the peace, keep Dad in the loop, and keep tabs on your day, you may want to give the Dad Cam a try.

Read any good guarantees lately?


Here’s my submission for the most ridiculous item of the day—and further proof that manufacturers think consumers are stupid.

My daughter’s blow dryer recently went kaput.  My husband, the master tinkerer, was not able to revive it because certain specialty parts were needed.  It’s a pricey unit, but my daughter’s hair is very long, and I like to think that this particular product causes less damage, so I decided to reorder the same one.

When the replacement arrived, I made sure to check on the warranty, just in case we had the same problem again.  Here is the guarantee that is offered on this top shelf piece of equipment:

Your common sense probably tells you that pretty much the entire unit is composed of steel parts, plastic parts, and the flex cord. I can confirm this, since I have a dismantled version of this blow dryer in my possession. It does have a thin piece of cardboard on the inside, so I guess that’s the part they’re guaranteeing. I’d have more confidence in the product and the company if they just labeled it “SOLD AS IS”.

I know this hoodwinking is nothing new, but sometimes I just want to speak up. So here’s a message to all those big companies that think they’re pulling one over on us:

We know that you’re shrinking the size of ice cream cartons and coffee cans. We know that you’re pumping our meats full of “solutions” to bloat the net weight so you can walk away with more dollars per portion. We know that you’re choosing deceptive brand names to mislead consumers about a product’s country of origin . We’re onto you, and we’re adjusting our shopping habits accordingly.

Furthermore, we’re training a generation of students who can read, think, contrast, compare, and make rational decisions. When they finally outnumber the sheeple, you’re going to have to change your ways.

Published in: on May 26, 2010 at 6:11 am  Comments (1)  
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Win a FREE Apologia Human Anatomy & Physiology text—the newly released elementary course! Entering is EASY!


The human body is an awe-inspiring work of Creation, and it offers outstanding examples of  irreducible complexity in support of intelligent design.  From the intricate operation of the human eye to the clotting ability of blood to the  extraordinary sensitivity and responsiveness of the nervous system, the more you learn about human anatomy and physiology, the more intriguing it becomes.

For this week’s contest, we’d like to know what part of the human body amazes you. To enter simply write your answer as a “Comment” to the contest post on the Finders-Keepers Facebook Page.  The winner will receive a free copy Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy & Physiology–Apologia’s newly released elementary course 

All entries must be received by Noon CST on Wednesday, April 28th, and the drawing will be that afternoon. One winner will be selected randomly from the number of responses received. The winner will be announced on Facebook, and he or she will receive a message from Finders-Keepers requesting shipping information. Please feel free to share the contest information with friends and family, but we do request that responses be limited to one per person.

And don’t forget, the Finders-Keepers website offers free Apologia Notebook Pages and Sample Modules, as well as fantastic prices on Apologia Science materials with FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more.

“Give me liberty or give me death!” A study guide, a clip, and an appeal to parents.

The anniversary of Patrick Henry’s famous speech could not come at a more appropriate time.  As political lines are drawn and ideological fervor escalates, Americans are reexamining what liberty really means and which issues are worth contending over.  Politicians are scrambling to save their own hides, and citizens are uniting to ferret out untrustworthy leadership.  Regardless of our position on the political spectrum, recollection of Henry’s stirring appeal on the eve of revolution offers a much needed recalibration of our expectations of political leaders. 

Our children have much to learn from great Americans such as Patrick Henry, so we are appealing to parents to take a few minutes to introduce him to your students if you’ve not already done so.  Younger students may only be ready for a few basic facts, but older students can compare and contrast the political standards of the past with those of the present. To help start the conversation, we have created a brief study guide as well as a document featuring the text of the original speech.

They can be printed out at the following links:  STUDY GUIDE      SPEECH

Please pass this along to friends and family—especially those with children in public schools.  Patrick Henry’s legacy has slowly been chiseled out of many school textbooks, and they may not have another opportunity to get to know this key figure in America’s history.

Feeling ambitious?  Why not have your students stage a dramatic reenactment of the speech?  You could even capture a video clip and post it on Facebook or YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, they offer several audio renditions of this speech for those who prefer to listen.  Here are a couple of examples: