2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum Review

We haven’t yet moved into our next school year, but the planning for next year is coming along. This past year was our 7th homeschooling year. We had 4 official students and 1 who insisted on jumping into the fun with us. (Preschoolers do that from time to time. Sometimes they want to participate. Sometimes they don’t. Before age 6, we let them choose. Play time is learning time for that age, so I’m not comfortable pushing them toward rigorous studies just yet.) I figured I’d let you guys know what worked and what didn’t this school year. But I always like to give an update on what worked and what didn't, since my opinions may change by the time we get closer to the end.

Overall, we have used The Well Trained Mind throughout our schooling days. We’ve been a little more relaxed in the Grammar stage. Some of the suggested resources haven’t worked for us, so we have found alternatives that work.

I had two fifth graders this year, one third grader, one kindergartener, and one preschooler.

We used Teaching Textbooks 5 and 3 for these guys this year. Teaching Textbooks has been the best math program for these guys. These two started with Singapore Math and then switched to Teaching Textbooks for fourth grade. We no longer buy the workbooks, because my kids only use the computer disc portion of the program. Each lesson is well explained, having them do practice problems as they go. If they don’t do well on a lesson, you can go in and delete the grade and let them try again. They get two tries at each problem, and the program explains how the answer is achieved. It gives immediate gratification, telling them if they are right or wrong on each problem before they move on. The kids do very well with this program. I have read some reviews that say the grade levels are off, but I have not found that to be the case. Each year starts off pretty easy, but builds back to more difficult concepts. So, a student may find it easy at first, but there is more challenge coming. My only issue with the program is the cardboard cases the CDs come in. I feel like for the price, they should come in some durable CD cases for long term use. I’ve had to move all our discs into a zippered CD case. That works, but for $99 a set (higher in the higher levels) they should come with something more durable than paper. The program keeps up with the grades and you can check them at any time. We don’t usually do grades, but since the kids were doing it all on their own, it helped me keep an eye on their progress.
We started the year with Essential Math K. He flew through it. It wasn’t a challenge for him at all. We switched to Life of Fred about halfway through the year. It introduced more complex topics and he liked the storytelling aspect. The preschooler joined us for these lessons, but will likely need to do them again.

I signed the older two up for Wordly Wise Online through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. They didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. The program isn’t well laid out. It is very confusing and takes a lot of time per lesson. I also felt like they weren’t really learning much for the effort being put in. We stopped it mid-year and will not be picking it back up.
We also grabbed the new Writer’s In Residence program from Apologia. Each student needs their own book. And the books are hefty. While I like some of the content, overall, the program didn’t work well for us. For one, it isn’t well laid out. The grading rubric is confusing. Everything has to be graded, which is weird for us since we don’t really grade things. Some of the assignments were frivolous. Also, it got really messy. It is a huge workbook, so I expect all the work to be done in the book and fit in the book. But there were several times when things were cut out of the book (which annoys me greatly) or they had to paper clip extra pages into the book. I felt like they could have made it all work, but didn’t. If the kids are needing to use separate paper, I would have just liked it in textbook format with all the work being done on their own paper in a separate notebook. My kids did learn from the program, but it was far too parent intensive and far too convoluted. You will need at least one of the Teacher’s Guides. I won’t be continuing this program. Even if I wanted to, I can’t. They released Volume 1 of 4 last year but haven’t released Volume 2 yet. I have such mixed feelings on this program. Some of it is SO good. But then some of it is SO bad.

I kept my third grader signed up for Explode the Code online. I absolutely love that program. It has worked so unbelievably well for him. He enjoys it. It challenges him. He is finishing up the program now, so he won’t be using it next year. I’ll be looking at buying it again for our rising first grader, though.

Our history years aren’t lining up smoothly because we spent longer than a school year on Ancient history. We use Story of The World. This year, we started a history co-op with some other families in our church. That slowed us down considerably, so we didn’t finish a full year of history this year either. We finished up Story of The World 2 and then moved into Story of the World 3. We tried the audio version of Story of the World 2, but the kids hated it. They did not like listening to the CDs. So, we went back to me reading it to them from the book. When we started Story of The World 3, I added interactive notebooks. It would have worked well for just my kids, but in the co-op setting, it got a little hectic. We will be continuing Story of The World 3 next year, but these two will be moving into the Logic stage, so they will be adjusting how they do history. (Technically, the Logic Stage begins in 5th grade, but my kids needed an extra year of writing and grammar before they could really tackle outlines and summaries.)

We found a really awesome Science curriculum that works alongside Story of The World so well. Berean Builders Science is chronological science, studied by scientist and discovery. That has made so much more sense to my kids and given them a better understanding of how we come to know what we know. I’ll admit, they watched a few too many documentaries that had distorted their view of science. Because each documentary presents everything as fact, not theory. Then the documentaries would contradict one another or come from an atheistic world view. My kids became super skeptical and I was having difficulty drawing them back into the subject. The Berean Science books have been perfect to hook them back in. We started using Science in the Scientific Revolution along with Story of the World 3. There are experiments to better understand the discoveries made. It has been awesome. The kids love it, they are actually engaged, and they better understand the scientific process and how new discoveries change the way we see the world.

I have never used a proper handwriting program. However, my kids really needed it. They were having a lot of trouble writing clearly enough to communicate their ideas. So, I opted for an actual handwriting book. I chose Patriotic Penmanship. I liked the selected quotes. I decided to keep my third grader in print writing because he was only 7 and he needed some reinforcement on the proper way to make letters. One of my fifth graders did introductory cursive and the other did her proper grade. The workbooks are great. I had them work on a two page spread, one lesson, each week. Day one they would just practice making a letter. Day two they would practice key words. Day three they would work on a full phrase or two. Day four they would write the entire quote. It didn’t take more than a few minutes each day and I simply asked for very hard work for those few minutes. All of them have improved their handwriting significantly with just a little work each day. I will definitely be ordering Patriotic Penmanship workbooks again this year. Each child needs their own workbook as they are consumable.

For our Bible study for the older kids, we used Herein Is Love: Genesis. This one has a lot more lessons in it than the Leviticus book. The kids really enjoyed it and I think they learned a lot. It does a great job of weaving the whole story into the beginning story.
For the Little Guys, we used the Jesus Calling Storybook. I was not as in love with this Storybook Bible as I was with the Jesus Storybook Bible. It has little notes from Jesus, but they are worded oddly and it makes it a little difficult to follow in a read aloud format. But the kids liked it and they did learn.

We used my Operation World geography plan. It went really well. It helped open my kids’ worldview and show them more than what is outside their front door. I was really happy with how it went and will continue it next year.

I purchased Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales at Costco for the little guys. We did not get into the Phonics Tales. It will really be a toss up this year if we do that book or The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading. I’m not sure which will work better for these guys.
I also signed them up for ABCMouse.com mid year. They have loved it. They can use their tablets to play. I signed up for the assessments, as well, but found that portion pretty worthless.

I basically let the kids pick what they wanted to read this year instead of using the reading list from Well Trained Mind. Turned out, that was a mistake. Well, the kids really loved reading, but they essentially spent the year reading junk books. I did strongly suggest a few classics that they did read and enjoy. The third grader loved the Roald Dahl books we have and finished all the Magic Treehouse books we own, plus ventured over to the Imagination Station books. The fifth graders read Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. They also read some Judy Bloom. But they did read a bunch of Goosebumps books and other junk type books. Next year, I’ll separate the required reading and the fun reading a bit more.

I kept track of everything in a composition notebook that I used like a bullet journal for schooling. This helped the planning significantly. I’ll be doing the same again because it worked so well. Though I’ll likely opt for a real bullet journal this year. (I’ve been using a bullet journal for a class I am taking and another one for the upcoming 2018 year. I’m liking the customization so much more than a standard planner. I also have one that I’ve been using alongside my 2017 planner for notes and things. I do like having separate planners for each of those areas, since I feel like everything together just gets too cluttered.)

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Homeschool Student Planners

One thing I implemented this year in our homeschool that has helped tremendously is the use of personal planners for each child. Originally, I had planned for only the older three to use the planners, but my Kindergartener has begged to get in on the system, as well. So he has a modified version, as well. I will absolutely continue this because it has worked so beautifully in helping my kids be more independent and responsible for their own schooling.  

I fill them out on a week by week basis. I look at my calendar and decide how heavy of a work week they are going to have. For example, my daughter does Meals on Wheels with The Pastor every other Monday. She has light work loads those days to accommodate her volunteer activities. They also volunteer once a month at a local Children’s Home, so those that are helping with that will be given a slightly lighter work load that day, as well. I find that looking at only a week at a time lets me set very reasonable expectations and they are able to achieve what is planned out for them. Planning further in advance always leads to me over planning and then they feel like they failed when they just can’t get it all done. I want them to succeed, so I make every opportunity for them to do so.

For each day of the week, I write a checklist in their planner. Several of the items are group activities, several are independent activities. I have to guide them a little more when introducing a new curriculum, but once they get the hang of something, they can really take over themselves. We do Bible, history, Science, and geography as a group. I actually have two groups running in my house right now. I have the older grammar school kids and the Kindergarteners. My Kindergarteners do Bible, Reading, and Phonics together. They have very little independent work, so I plan for that. 

I use the weekend spots to write in a weekly checklist. Now, I have been doing chores here, but if we had more computers and I didn’t have to schedule out their computer time so much, I would add much of their daily work into a weekly list. I don’t necessarily care when it is done, as long as they are doing the work. A weekly list would allow for more flexibility for them, but is really impossible with our current computer situation. (I have 4 kids sharing 1 computer.) Right now, I add their chores onto that list with the boxes for the number of times I expect them to do that chore. The chores rotate based on the week’s schedule and the season. They also rotate depending on the attitude of the kid or what they have been doing lately. (Boys that keep having “accidents” on the floor around the toilet get the chore of cleaning the bathroom floors and toilets.)

I have also been keeping their attendance in their own planners. I simply highlight the days on the monthly view that they had school. Yes, this means that I am keeping up with it in multiple places, but it has given them a sense of accomplishment and they can look and see when they had a heavy month and when they had a light month. Next year, I plan to get better planners to be able to expand this system. Right now, I just have the small, cheap, student planners from WalMart, and while they serve our purposes, they are small and there is more I think I could do with this system. (Keeping a log of books to read or books read, keeping a log of people they write letters to with addresses, habit tracking for them, etc.) A bullet journal might work well, but I think the planner format is easier for them to understand. I’m using a bullet journal style for my oldest Kindergartener right now. The simplicity is working for him, but I don’t have much to put in for him.

I’m really glad I decided to give this a try. I wasn’t too sure at first it would be something worth sticking to. Filling out 4 planners at the beginning of each week doesn’t sound like an easy task. But it really doesn’t take too much time. Just half an hour or so each Sunday looking at the week and plugging in their lists. And the time I save in their being independent is so much more. Emery (7) quickly saw how he could check off all his independent work before we even started school in the morning. He is routinely done with school before noon. Imogene (10) dawdles more and as a result, she is usually “doing school” until 4 or 5. She doesn’t complain about it, she can see what she needs to do. She just prefers a relaxed paced and is okay with it taking longer. And in the end, both of those approaches are fine. They are both learning and progressing and getting their work done. And they are happier having the freedom to do things their way in their time.

Explode The Code Online- A Review

emery 2

This is Emery. He is a spirited little guy. He is very persistent. He is extremely passionate. He is very driven. He is a self-started. He is also not a fan of being told what to do. He dislikes workbooks. He has some super awesome qualities, but because of his independent and quite exuberant personality, he can be a challenge to teach.

Last year, we tried the Explode the Code workbooks. They were not a great fit. Emery and I butted heads for a month or two at the beginning of the school year, and then I just decided we’d wait a year for Kindergarten. Then something awesome happened. Emery decided he’d be his own Kindergarten teacher. He taught himself all his letters and letter sounds. He taught himself to count and do basic math. By the end of the year, he was reading. All without my involvement. The kid is driven. So, this year, it was time for first grade, since he mastered Kindy all by himself. I knew I needed something different. Then I saw it- Explode the Code Online!

It covers reading and spelling all in one online program. You pay per year and they progress through at their own pace. Each lesson awards them a badge. They get bees when they don’t do so well, ladybugs when they need a little work, butterflies when they do well, and paper airplanes when they do excellent work. I can log into my parent portal and see how Emery is progressing. It tells me how much time each lesson took. It tells me what areas need improvement. He is absolutely thriving on this program. He can do it completely without me and he loves that. He is proud of his badges and is progressing through first grade quickly. He may start tackling second grade material soon!

Now, some kids, you could help them in areas they struggle. Not so with Emery. What I usually do is leave books with the tricky words for him on the top of the book piles and highly visible for him so when he runs to grab a book to read, he will hopefully grab the book that will help him with his lacking skill. (Like bl- combination words or whatever it is that week.) I really could not have asked for a better reading program for this kid.

They do say you can use it on your tablet, but I have not tried. Emery sits at the computer in our kitchen to do his reading work.

Back To School Planning

education quote

We’re entering the fast paced beginning of the school year time. Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, hybrid schoolers- whatever we are, we’re getting ready for the next year. The next year when we can make a difference in our kids’ lives. Will this be the year they find that thing that sparks them? Will this be the year they develop a love for reading, or writing, or math, or running marathons? The beginning of the school year always comes with such high expectations. And then wait, come April, we’ll just be hoping we didn’t mess them up too much this year.

I’m a homeschool mom. Our year here won’t start until September. In fact, we’re finishing up our last school year still. Testing has to be done this year. But the planning for next year is beginning. And I know I’ll overplan. I’ll want to do too much. There are just so many beautiful and awesome things in the world and I want to give all of them to my kids. I want them to be able to write all the wonderful thoughts that come into their heads. I want them to read ALL the books. I want them to see, love, and create art. I want them to see how the world works and watch it amaze them. I want them to hear the stories of our past as humankind and hear their take on things. I want them to learn languages to expand their horizons and not limit them to what is written or spoken in English only. I want to teach them to play ALL the instruments. I want them to understand mathematic concepts so they can create, understand, and develop the world around them. I want them to learn liturgy, theology, apologetics, and more about our Lord. And it is all so much.

But then I remember that I am still learning. They have their whole lives to explore this world. They have their whole lives to read. I’m still reading, writing, learning. I’m still creating, listening, exploring. And hopefully they will be too, when they are my age. I have to remember that I am teaching them how to do these things- how to learn, how to explore. And I’ll enjoy the wonder as they go along.

I’ll still overplan. I’ll try to be flexible. I’ll try not to be hard on myself come April when everything just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to. I’ll still want to show them the whole world all at once and tell them what a beautiful place it is- to look for light in the darkness or better yet, be the light in the darkness. The weight of the task will still be heavy. But I’ll try not to be overwhelmed. I’ll try to let the weight inspire me. I’ll slow down enough to enjoy this time in their lives when the wonder comes naturally.

Fruit of The Spirit Family Devotional: Week Five: Kindness

fruit of the spirit verse


Read Galations 5:22-23 at least once during the week. Read it daily if you’d like! We’re wanting the kids to memorize The Fruit of The Spirit.

kindness weekly verse

Proverbs 21:21 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)

Day One: Recalling Kindness

Do you remember a time someone was particularly kind to you? Go ahead and take turns sharing those stories now. Those memories of kindness usually stick with us for a long time. People remember the kindness you show them. You remember the kindness shown to you. When you share your toys, that person you shared with remembers and will share their toys in the future, offering the same kindness to someone else. Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Activity: We like to play the “3 Nice Things” game in our house. We pick a person, and we go around the table, each saying 3 kind things about that person. The little ones beam with pride and love as they are edified and the grown people often have their hearts melt at the sweet things the little people say. This is a good activity not just for today, but for any day in your family. Sometimes when the littles are having a hard time getting along, we’ll play the “3 Nice Things” game and bring the smiles and full hearts back.

Day Two: Mephibosheth

Read 2 Samuel 9. This is the story of King David and Mephibosheth. Mephibosheth is the son of David’s friend, Jonathan. Usually, when a new king took over, the old king’s family was killed. (Less uprisings, you know?) But David, who loved his friend Jonathan, did not seek to destroy Saul’s family. (Jonathan is Saul’s son.) Instead, David begins searching for members of Saul’s family to show kindness to. Mephibosheth, I’m sure, was frightened at the king’s request to see him. I’m sure he was expecting David to kill him. But David was planning no such thing. David showed great kindness to Mephibosheth. He gave Mephibosheth land and gave him an unlimited dining pass at the king’s table. David treated Mephibosheth like he was of his own family. Mephibosheth was granted the life of a prince!

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

Activity: Coloring Page

Day Three: Smiling’s My Favorite!

“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”- Buddy the Elf. Smile. Do it. Smile. Isn’t it nice to have someone smile at you? (Oh! And aren’t baby smiles the best?!) It doesn’t take much effort to smile, does it? But that one little thing can really impact someone else’s day. There are days when you are in a bad mood and someone just smiles at you and your day gets a little brighter. Brighten someone else’s day and smile. Mother Teresa said, “Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

Activity: Making smiles! Grab some paper bags, construction paper, glue, googly eyes, glitter, markers, etc. and get to work making smiling paper bag puppets! Make the smiles as big and goofy as possible! (You can also print some smiling mouths off the computer and add them to your puppet.)

Day Four: Leave People Better

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” – Mother Teresa

There are no neutral interactions. Your interactions with people will either leave them better or worse. What kind of things would make someone better and happier? (Take a moment to name things and talk about kind interactions.) Let’s focus on showing others the kindness of God. What is the kindness of God? (Take a moment to answer. Grab a pad of paper and compile a list. List your blessings.) God has shown us great kindness, kindness we don’t deserve. And that makes us better. Let’s take that kindness and show it to others.

Activity: Be Kind Grapevine! Play the game Grapevine (or Telephone). Pick a beginning person, and an end person. The beginning person says something kind about the end person to the person next to him, who turns and shares with the next person, who turns and shares with the next person, until the message (or something like it) end up with the end person.

Alternate Activity: Be Kind Tag On Game- pick a person you’re going to say kind things about. Now, take turns saying something kind. But each new person has to say the kind things from the previous people and add their own. Keep going as long as possible! (Example: Mom says, “Emery is a good friend.” Aidan then says, “Emery is a good friend. Emery is good at building Legos.” Imogene then says, “Emery is a good friend. Emery is good at building Legos. I like to hear Emery tell stories.” Etc.)

Day 5: Good Samaritan

Read Luke 10: 30-35 (if you want the whole context, read verses 25-37). Who showed the robbed, beaten man kindness? Of all the men he encountered that day, which man do you suppose the beaten man will remember the most? I read a quote once, no clue who to credit, that said, “An act of kindness can cause ripples of healing.” And in the story of the Good Samaritan, this is certainly true. The beaten man would have likely been very angry, had no one stopped to help him. (That is, if he lived at all.) But because one man stopped and showed him kindness, he will, instead, marvel at the kindness of a stranger, instead of the wickedness of the robbers. Kindness has a lot of power, doesn’t it?

Activity: Think & Pray. How can you show more kindness to others? Pray for God to send you opportunities to be kind, and to give you the wisdom to both see and take advantage of those opportunities.

Alternate Activity: (Or Bonus Activity) Coloring Page.

Don’t forget you’re memory verse! Did you learn it? Share!

Fruit of The Spirit Family Devotional: Week Four: Patience

fruit of the spirit verse

Read Galations 5:22-23 at least once during the week. Read it daily if you’d like! We’re wanting the kids to memorize The Fruit of The Spirit.

patience weekly verse

Romans 8:25 is the memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. I also use the weekly memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just try to get the written verse up on your wall this week. (Image is sized to print 5×7.)

Day One: We Wait

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle

Waiting is hard work. Not very many people wait well. It seems we are all born wanting what we want right now. No waiting. Waiting is hard work. But when we wait, we get more in the end. If you are making a cake, and you don’t wait long enough, you just end up with a hot mess. But if you wait, you get a wonderful cake! Patience isn’t simply waiting. It is waiting without getting angry or upset. It isn’t really patience to wait while tapping your foot. Take a deep breath, and wait with patience, in peace.

Activity: Let’s play a game! Red light, green light is a great game to practice patience.

Day Two: The Farmer

In James 5:7, the Bible tells us to be patient like a farmer. Have you ever planted seeds? Did they sprout immediately? You had to wait to see the seed sprout. And then, you had to wait even longer to see the flower. And then, if it was a vegetable, you had to wait even longer to see the vegetables. You don’t get angry at the plant for not growing fast enough. You don’t try to rush it along saying, “Hurry, plant! Hurry!!!” You just wait. And when the plant produces the vegetable, you pick it and you’re thankful that it grew. If we tried to apply the same calm waiting, or patience, in our lives a little more, we’d see more fruit and be a little more thankful.

Activity: Coloring page.

Optional Activity: Grab some small pots and plant some seeds. Clover and beans tend to grow fairly quickly and pretty well. Plant them with the kids, say a prayer asking God to help them grow, and then wait. You’ll need to water them, of course, but mostly you just wait. You could make a show of yelling at the plant and trying to make it grow right now this instance to show that you really do just have to wait.

Day Three: What I Had In Mind

“Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.” – Teresa of Avila

Sometimes patience means letting things work out how they are going to work out. It is hard for us not to get our way sometimes. We wanted to go to the zoo, but it rained. We wanted to go to the park, but it was too cold. And sometimes we want things to work out a certain way. We want things in a particular order. We pray and ask God for things. What happens if He answers us in a way we did not expect? Well, usually, we either get upset or we don’t even recognize He answered. Let us pray, and wait with patience for God to answer us. Let us keep our mind open to His working, it may not be what we expected, but God is working and He does answer us.

Activity: Play charades. Everyone put a word into a hat. Think about how YOU would act out the word you put in. Take turns drawing a word out of the hat. If you get your own, put it back and draw again. After the word has been guessed, ask who put the word in and ask if that was EXACTLY what they had in mind.


Day Four: Praise Him In The Hallway

Have you ever heard the phrase, “When one door closes, another one opens.”? What do you think that means? Sometimes in life, we sit in front of a door, praying God will open that door. It might be that the door is the door to a new job, a new school, a new friend. Sometimes the door is the door to healing, getting something we think we need, or help in a hard time. Those doors don’t always open right away. And sometimes we sit in front of the door we think will open, and miss the wide open door down the hall. If we don’t have patience, we don’t sit in front of the door at all. We pray that God will open the door, then we walk off to something else. How would you ever know if the door opened if you walked off? But while we’re waiting for God to open doors, we can praise Him in the hallway. While we’re waiting for Him to answer prayers, we can thank Him for what He is doing in our life today.

Printable Image.

Activity: What big things are we praying for? They can be family prayers (a new home, a new baby, a new job) or individual prayers (a new friend, healing, individual opportunities). What are you thankful for right now?

Grab a piece of paper and some construction paper. Cut out a door with the construction paper. (Just a rectangle you can glue one strip down so it opens and closes like a door.) Draw one of those big things on the paper, glue the door on top, and then draw something you’re thankful for right now outside the door. Thank God for the thing outside the door and pray for the door to open, too.

Day Five: No Hurry

“Without peace, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.” – Mother Teresa

If we hurry through life, we’ll miss most of it. Let’s take a walk, watch a movie as a family, read a book together, something to slow down and not hurry through life. Take the time to listen and see the world around us. Take the time to listen and enjoy each other. Memories are made today.

Activity: Go on a walk, watch a movie, read a book- slow down and spend some time as a family. Try to take in as much as your senses can handle.

Activity 2: Did you learn your memory verse? Share it!

Fruit of The Spirit Family Devotional: Week Two: Joy

fruit of the spirit verse

Read Galations 5:22-23 at least once during the week. Read it daily if you’d like! We’re wanting the kids to memorize The Fruit of The Spirit.

joy verse of the week Romans 15:13 is our memory verse this week. Read the memory verse at the beginning of each devotional time. The goal is to have each member of your family memorize this verse to the best of their ability this week. We’ll also be using the memory verse in our handwriting lessons. You can print out the image above or make your own- just make an effort to put this verse up in your house somewhere. (Image is sized to be printed 5×7)

Day One: What is joy?

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to describe. If we look the word “joy” up in the dictionary, we’ll find the following definition: a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. If you’ve felt joy, you know that it is just more than that. Is joy happiness? Can you feel joy inside yourself even when you aren’t very happy. Well, yes, you can. Joy is about more than happiness. Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” She is hiding in a small house with her family, under immense persecution. You could hardly say that would be a happy time. Yet, she had joy. She had something inside of her that sang out for beauty, even when her circumstances were dire. That is being filled with joy.

Activity: Coloring page. Image to print if you wish.

Day Two: Joy In Music

Read Psalm 5, taking a special note of verse 11. The Psalms are a collection of songs. The beginning of this song doesn’t song particularly joyful. The psalmist is groaning, crying, and preparing a sacrifice. Sounds like a pretty sad beginning of a song. But the psalmist has joy. Why? Because the Lord is directing his path. Because the Lord will bless him and protect him. The psalmist has joy deep inside, and so he sings. Does music make you feel joyful inside? Do you have a song of joy to sing yourself?

Activity: Sing a joyful song! Pick a favorite of your own or see my list for ideas. Sing together to the Lord. Even if you aren’t very musical, sing along. If you have older kids, take a few minutes for them to write  their own Psalm of joy. They can read it, sing it, lyrically act it out- however they want to express their joy! If your kids are younger, you may want to have them give you their reasons to be joyful and you can put a family Psalm together. You can read it, sing it, shout it- however it needs to be expressed.

Day Three: Inexpressible Joy

What reasons do you have to rejoice? In 1 Peter 1:8-9 we read that we can rejoice and have joy in a Savior we’ve never seen. Though we do not see Jesus, we believe He came and died for each of us, so we rejoice! Why? Because Jesus has rescued us from the place of the dead. We have hope. We have a future. We have a reason to be joyful. Even on the bad days, when we spill our milk, loose our shoe, can’t play because of the rain- we still have something to rejoice about. We are blessed people. Bad days do not take our blessings away, so let’s not let them steal our joy, either.  J.R.R. Tolkien said, “Fairy tales do not deny the existence of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat…”

Activity: Image to look at. Think about something that brings you great joy or a time you felt great joy. Draw a picture of that. Use crayons, markers, pencils, paint- whatever you wish to create your artwork.

Day Four: Joy Comes In The Morning

There is a song I used to sing over and over when I was younger. It was a song by the Insyderz (okay, parents, you can laugh at me. Yes, I was a ska/punk youth.) called Mourning Into Dancing. It was a great song and I recommend you look it up on Spotify right now. Your kids will love it. (What kid doesn’t love ska?) That song could always give me a joyful feeling. Why? Because God can turn our mourning into dancing! The Bible tells us in Jeremiah 31:13 that the young women will rejoice and dance and the young men and old will be merry. Why? Because He will turn their mourning into joy! Why? Because He has ransomed and rescued us! He paid the ransom for us to be set free! So rejoice! Sing! Dance! Be Merry!

Activity: Turning mourning into joy! Gather paper plates, paint stirs, and tape or glue. Everyone gets two plates. On one plate, create a mourning face. (Use crayons, markers, paint, yarn, googly eyes, whatever you have handy.) On the other, create a face of joy. Glue/tape one plate to one side of the stir, one to the other. Now, turn mourning into joy!

Day Five: Joyful Hearts

Proverbs 17: 22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” There have been many studies done on how laughter is good for us. Some studies even claim laughter can help people with inflammatory diseases sleep better at night. Laughter reduces the stress hormones in your body. Laughter helps increase blood flow to your heart. So laughter is really a good medicine. You tell a joke, and if it is a good joke, you improve the bodies and spirits of those around you. You have the power to share joy! Mark Twain said, “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” Just as you have the opportunity to share your joy, you also have the ability to crush someone’s spirit. Mean words, harsh actions- they can crush someone. You’ll leave a mark on every person you meet- choose to share your joy.

Activity: Did you learn your memory verse? Share it! Take turns telling jokes and funny stories. Increase the health of your family- laugh together!