Category Archives: Homeschool

Gram’s Treasure: A Short Story for Children

images (4)Hannah scurried into her older brother’s room and plopped onto his bed, heedless of the text books and papers sprawled across the quilt.

“Guess what I have,” she said, breathless.

“Hannah! Look what you made me do!” Jake scowled at her and started erasing the pencil line that marred his math homework.

“Sorry, but listen to this,” she said, bouncing a couple of times.

“Quit shaking the bed!”

Hannah huffed but sat still while Jake finished his erasing.

“What?” he finally said, snapping shut his math book.

Hannah leaned forward. “I overheard Mama and Daddy talking—”

“You shouldn’t be listening to other people’s conversations,” Jake said, crossing his arms over his chest.

Hannah pursed her lips. “I wasn’t trying to listen. I was just washing dishes and they were talking in the living room. I couldn’t help overhearing.”

Jake lifted one eyebrow.

“Do you want to hear or not?”

“You’re the one who came busting in my room wanting to tell me something.”

“Oh, all right, I’ll tell you.” She blew out a breath. “Remember that load of boxes Uncle Benjamin brought Mama last week? You know, of Gram’s things?” Mama and Uncle Benjamin’s grandmother had died a few months earlier.

“Yeah, so?”

“There’s a treasure hidden in it!”

“Hannah, you’ve been reading too many stories.” Jake rolled his eyes.

“I’m not making this up,” she said, glaring at him. “Mama told Daddy she was sorting Gram’s cedar chest today and found the key to her greatest treasure.”

“What key?”

“This one.” She held out her hand, and a small brass key gleamed dully in the lamplight.

“Where’d you get that?” Jake’s eyes widened. “Did you steal it?”

“No! Mama left it on the end table.” Hannah’s neck heated as she looked down at the key in her sweaty palm. “I just picked it up.”

Jake shook his head.

“I’ll put it back after I find the treasure.”

“Gram didn’t have any treasure,” he said. “She was as poor as we are.”

“That’s what we thought,” Hannah said, “but maybe she just didn’t live like she was rich.”

“Yeah, well, I just don’t think she’d hide her money in some box without telling somebody.”

“Maybe she wanted us to find it after she died.”

“You’d think she’d have just given it to us if she wanted us to have it,” Jake said.

“But that’s boring,” Hannah said. “She probably wanted someone to find the key and then go treasure hunting.”

“I don’t know.” Jake leaned back against the headboard. “Where exactly do you think this stash is?”

She shrugged. “Don’t know, but I’ll figure it out. Want to help?’

“Can’t,” Jake said. “Have to help Dad tomorrow and then I’ve got all this homework to do.” He tapped the cover of his book. “Besides, you really shouldn’t have taken that key without asking Mama’s permission.”

Hannah bit her lip. “I’ll tell after I find the treasure. She’ll be so happy about the extra money she won’t mind about the key then.”

downloadHannah woke at dawn on Saturday, even though she’d stayed up half the night imagining the treasure. Would she find jewels or gold or a big pile of money?

And where should she begin her search? Maybe she’d start by asking a few questions.

Hannah dressed quickly and slipped down to the kitchen where Mama was preparing breakfast.

“Mama,” Hannah said, trying not to finger the key in her pocket, “where’s all that stuff Uncle Benjamin brought you last week?”

“Gram’s cedar chest is in my room, but we stored everything else in the cellar until I can get time to look through it.” Mama flipped a pancake then set aside the spatula and turned to look at Hannah. “Why do you ask?”

The cellar! Hannah shrugged, holding in a grin. “Just wondered.”

Mama opened her mouth like she was about to say more, but the bacon started smoking so she turned back to the stove instead.

Hannah was too excited to eat much. Mama and the little ones were headed to Aunt Rebecca’s for the morning, and Dad and Jake had to patch the barn roof. That meant Hannah could search for the treasure as soon as everyone left.

An hour later, Hannah hesitated at the top of the cellar stairs, flashlight in hand. Mama usually sent Jake down there because Hannah hated the cellar. But you have to go, she thought, for the treasure. Straightening her spine, she started down. Her footfalls rasped on the bare wood steps, echoing through the dank darkness below. Hannah shivered and clicked on her flashlight then shone the light around, hoping the skittering sound she heard was just her thumping heart.

“You have to be brave,” she told herself then flinched at the sound of her own voice.

When Hannah reached the concrete floor, she peered around the room and wished her flashlight’s beam was stronger. What if the batteries died and she got stuck down there forever? Hannah shook her head and took a deep breath. The stale, cold air coated her nose and throat. She moved toward a stack of boxes, hoping they were labeled.

Baby clothes was scrawled across one box top. Probably not Gram’s. Hannah moved around the stack, farther from the stairs. Just before she reached another pile of cartons, something soft and sticky coated her face. She screamed and danced around, swiping at her head. Hannah’s flashlight dropped to the floor, and she stomped down on it. It rolled and she flailed wildly, grabbing at the cartons to steady herself. Hannah managed to stay on her feet, but just as she stooped to pick up the flickering flashlight, the pile began to totter.

“Oh, no,” Hannah said then covered her head with her arms as the boxes tumbled down around her.

Sudden silence made her peek from her sheltering arms. The flashlight spun in dizzying circles at her feet, highlighting the mess she’d made. Clothes and quilts and keepsakes lay scattered around the floor. Hannah sighed and squatted to start picking up, but the flashlight stopped spinning and the beam shone on a cardboard box. Gram’s Things.

Mouth hanging open, Hannah reached into the carton. “Ouch!” She jerked her hand back and sucked on her pricked finger. More careful this time, she picked up the light and searched the interior. Hannah moved aside a wool blanket and some fragments of a shattered vase then spied a wooden box. The wood looked old and was carved with flowers and letters. She moved the beam closer. “My Treasure,” it read. And below that was Gram’s name.

The treasure box!

Hannah bounced in excitement then calmed enough to lift the box for a better look. Beneath Gram’s name were some words: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” On the front was a brass lock with a tiny keyhole. She fumbled for the key in her pocket and stuck it into the lock. It fit. Pulse racing, Hannah turned the key and opened the lid. What would she find?

Just an old book. Tears filled her eyes. What kind of treasure was that?


Whirling around, Hannah saw Mama standing at the foot of the steps. Hannah’s eyes darted from her mother’s face to the jumble on the floor. Uh, oh. Why was Mama home so early? Now she was in for it.

“What happened?” Mama gestured toward the chaos.

“Um.” Hannah cast around in her mind for a good excuse. Nothing. She didn’t even have a treasure to offer.

“Did you get hurt?” Mama asked, and the gentle words made Hannah gulp back sudden tears.

She dropped the book on the floor then ran to her mama. “I’m sorry,” Hannah said, throwing her arms around Mama’s neck. “I didn’t mean to make such a mess.”

“What are you doing down here?” Mama’s hand made soothing circles on Hannah’s back.

“Treasure hunting.”

“Treasure hunting? In the cellar?” Mama pulled back and studied her face. “Why?”

“I heard you telling Daddy you’d found the key to Gram’s treasure.” Hannah turned to pull the key from the lock and held it out. “I took it so I could find the money.”

“Hannah,” Mama said, her eyes sad, “do you love money so much you would take what doesn’t belong to you?”

Sniffling, Hannah shook her head. “It wasn’t just for me. I was going to share with you and Daddy, so our family could get the stuff we need.”

“I see.” Mama gave her a small smile.

“But Gram lied, Mama.” Hannah released a sob. “She didn’t leave a treasure at all. Just a worthless old book.”

“Show me,” Mama said.

Hannah picked up the book and handed it to Mama, who studied the cover, then smiled.

“Hannah,” she said gently, “you did find Gram’s greatest treasure, and it’s far from worthless.”

Hannah blinked. “What do you mean?”

“It’s her Bible, and the wealth of wisdom Gram gained from it far exceeds anything money can buy.” Mama’s eyes filled with tears, but her smile remained. “I appreciate that you wanted to help your family, though you know taking the key was wrong, but Hannah, this Book holds more value than the most precious gold or jewels in the world.”

“How?” Hannah sniffled.

“Gram believed like the Psalmist, “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

Hannah’s forehead wrinkled. “I don’t understand.”

Mama smiled. “Here.” She placed the book in Hannah’s hands. “Gram’s Bible is yours now. Read and find out why it was her treasure.” Britancy_vse_huzhe_znayut_bibliyu

The Magic of Music

images (3)Did you know that music has magical power? It can influence our thoughts, actions, and decisions.  A wise man once wrote that music is the gateway to the soul. Another man said that music gets past the guard of the heart easier than things like speech and writing. When I heard about these theories, I wanted to know how they worked. I came up with three observations.

First, music uses melody to influence my feelings. For example, a sad, sweet melody can make me nostalgic, and a bright, cheery one makes me feel happy or joyful. This can be good or bad. If I allow the melody to influence me, I may be unnecessarily angry or sad. However, if I need to be cheered up, then being influenced by the melody can help.

Second, words influence me. For some reason, words put to a good melody stick in my mind better. I often remember the songs we sang in worship better than the sermon. This influence can be a good thing if the songs reinforce the sermon points. Then they help me remember important truths.

Third, repetition in the lyrics drives ideas into my head. It works like a hammer in that it just keeps hitting the same spot. If all I listen to is secular music, this factor can cause a problem. However, if I listen to good Christian music as well, then it can help me learn more about my faith.

In conclusion, music influences us through melody, lyrics, and repetition. We must be careful how we allow this magic to influence us.images (2)

The Importance of Practice

This week’s post is an article by my son that appeared in the March 9, 2014, issue of Encounter Magazine. He shares some good thoughts on ways Christians can strengthen their faith through practicing spiritual disciplines. images (1)

Often people think that practice doesn’t matter, and that you only need to try in a game, whether the “game” is a sport or the Christian life. I’ve found that you need to try hard during both practices and games. Practice helps you to understand how to win the game.

For example, if you want to be a good soccer player, you have to practice certain skills. One of these is running. In soccer if you’re not constantly running, it’s almost impossible to score. You have to run a lot at times other than the game so that you can build up your stamina.

Second, you have to juggle. Juggling is bouncing the ball off of your feet, thighs, chest, and head without letting it touch the ground. It takes a long time to learn how to juggle. You have to understand how the ball bounces and how heavy it is in order to gauge the strength of your kicks. This teaches you ball control and strengthens your legs so you can play better during games.

Third, you have to practice striking the ball. Unless you strike the ball just right it will curve, go over the target, or just roll a few feet ahead of you. You have to practice a lot in order to get it right.Practice pinned on noticeboard

It’s not just sports you have to work on. You also have to work hard to act like Christ. Acting like Jesus all the time is very difficult. There are things to help you with that too.

One thing you can do is pray.  Ask God to give you help and patience, because acting like Christ takes time and effort. However, don’t just sit back and wait. Try to make it happen. Otherwise you are asking for one thing and really wanting it not to happen. Also, pray when things are going well, not just when you’re struggling. Like in soccer, you can’t wait until the game to start running, so you can’t wait until times of trial to start praying.

Second, read your Bible. The Bible explains how you are supposed to live. Without it, you can’t know what God wants you to do. You can only guess and hope you don’t mess up. You can’t wait until someone asks you a difficult question about your faith before you start reading your Bible regularly. You have to practice this discipline. It helps you be strong in your faith.

Third, you need to think about Christ. It’s hard to get angry about someone lying about you or not playing fair in a sports game when you consider how much worse Christ endured.

Finally, we all know what the point of a sports game is, but what is the point of the Christian life?

The answer is easy to say, but hard to do. The point is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In everything we think, say, and do, we must glorify our LORD. When you’re on a soccer team, the point is to bring glory to the team. When you’re on God’s “team,” the point is to glorify Him.

One of the ways we do this is by telling others about Him. If you really think God is amazing, then you should want to tell others. This isn’t always easy to do, but it gets easier when you try it, or put it into practice.

Another way is to sing His praises. Often, people think that you should just sing loud. I think you should try to sound good. After all, you’re singing to the Creator of the Universe, so you should at least try to sing well. We should give our best to our Savior, not just our loudest!  I’m not saying that we have to be perfect. I just think that God deserves the best we can give. This also requires practice. When I play in the Praise Team, I don’t just show up on Sunday morning right before it’s time to start. I practice throughout the week, and I get up early to practice with everyone else. Practice is the only way to give our best to God.

To do well at anything, whether something as unimportant as sports or as crucial as becoming like Christ, we must practice.

Homeschooling on a Shoestring

downloadGas prices sky high. The economy worsening. Your family’s budget stretched to bursting. How you can afford to home educate your children? Here are some practical ways to cut costs and still operate an effective homeschool in the Columbus, Ohio, area.


  • Buy used. HOTR (Home on the Rock) and CHEO (Christian Home Educators of Ohio) publish information about used book fairs on their websites. Try Amazon, ebay, and for good deals. Some sites like and post swap boards to facilitate trading or buying/selling materials.
  • Use the library. The Columbus Metropolitan Library system has many resources available. If the nearest branch doesn’t have what you need, request it from another branch. They’ll bring it to your location—free!
  • If you buy new, shop carefully. Rainbow Resource often has the best prices, but shipping can ruin your budget, so make a complete, one-time order. If your total is $50 or more, shipping is free. Some curriculum companies have free shipping months (often April).

Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities

  • Join a homeschool group. Homeschool organizations provide lots of information about money-saving opportunities. Groups like HOTR and CHEO usually cost less than $50 per year but include a 10% discount to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Some, like HOTR, have small-group cooperatives meeting around the city. You usually pay a small fee for expenses but get a great return on your investment. You and your children get to socialize with other homeschooling families. Kids can take classes with other kids and different teachers. Group field trips provide discounted access to local attractions. You’ll likely learn about unexpected opportunities—like the mom who teaches piano cheap or the one who will tutor your child in math if you’ll tutor hers in Latin. You might even find someone willing to swap or lend curriculum.
  • Take advantage of the free stuff. Many Columbus attractions are free or very inexpensive. And, of course, educational.

Columbus Free Stuff:

Slate Run Farm
Columbus Museum of Art (Sundays only)
Ohio Craft Museum
Riffe Gallery
Ohio Statehouse
Thurber House (weekdays only)
Orton Geological Museum
Shrum Mound
Longaberger Homestead
Park of Roses
Topiary Garden
Chadwick Arboretum
Columbus Parks and Recreation (costs $1 per badge per person)
Anthony Thomas Factory Tours ($2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-18), under 2 is free; admission fee may be used toward purchase)

  • Ask for the educational or field trip rate.  Just by filing a field trip form in advance and bringing your notification letter, your family can visit the Columbus Zoo for only $5 per person if you live in Franklin County ($7 if you live outside Franklin County). COSI offers an educator’s family membership for $95 per year. The Ohio Historical Society offers a family membership to educators for $50 annually that allows four adults and all family members under 18 to visit OHS’s 60 historic sites at no charge. Kelton House offers an Underground Railroad Learning Station Tour for $4 per student and a Kelton House Historic Tour for $2 per student. Columbus Children’s Theatre has discounted tickets in their Thrifty Thursdays plan. Catco is Kids (Phoenix Children’s Theatre) offers School Performance Matinees with tickets for $5.
  • Use coupons. You can often find great deals on-line, in the phone book, or at travel plazas.
  • Give useful gifts. Give your son karate lessons for Christmas. Ask Grandma to buy BalletMet tickets for your daughter’s birthday.

Don’t let today’s economy discourage you from home education. Columbus has so much to offer that you’ll find homeschooling on a shoestring is really no hardship at all.

Teens and Senior Adults

This week’s blog is an article by my daughter that will appear in Encounter Magazine. It’s her first time to be published, and I think she has some good thoughts on the importance of reaching across generations in the church.thumb_COLOURBOX6623351

I believe the teens and senior adults in churches should get to know each other. In fact, this would be good for both the seniors and the teens. There are several reasons they should get to know one another.

First, it is a lot of fun to be around people who are younger or older than you instead of hanging around only people your own age. Recently, my church had a youth event to watch the Ohio State versus Michigan game at one of our senior adults’ houses. There were more seniors who came to watch the game with us. We ate pizza, watched the game together, and all of us had a lot of fun.

Next, the two generations can learn from each other. The senior adults know first-hand about some of the things students are learning about in school, like WWII, the Great Depression , Vietnam , and other events from history . The seniors could tell the teens what it was like when they were young. And the teenagers could learn from the example of the seniors. On the other hand, seniors can learn what it is like to be a young person in our culture today.

Last, the two groups would have a chance to serve each other. The teens can help the seniors do jobs that the seniors can’t, things like climbing ladders to clean out gutters or shoveling driveways when it snows. Our youth group has done some jobs like those. Also, seniors can teach teens how to do things, like fixing cars or woodworking. One of the senior adult ladies in our church is teaching me how to sew. She enjoys passing on her skill, and I have fun learning.

Overall, it is good for both the teens and the seniors of churches to get to know each other. It helps both teens and seniors learn and grow in Jesus Christ. It builds solid relationships among God’s people across age lines, and it strengthens the church.

Grandparenting Homeschoolers

o-GRANDPARENTS-RAISING-GRANDCHILDREN-facebookIf you are a grandparent of homeschoolers, you have many special opportunities to help train up your grandchildren. Following are twelve ways:

  1. Encourage. Even if you disapprove of your daughter and son-in-law’s decision to home educate your grandchildren, make only positive comments, especially in front of the grandchildren.
  2. Research. Educate yourself on homeschooling. Subscribe to a journal like Homeschooling Today. Check out the threats to your grandchildren’s educational freedom by searching for their state on The more you understand about the issues facing homeschoolers, the more you can help your family with their educational efforts.
  3. Protect. Would you telephone the public school kindergarten teacher during class for a brownie recipe? Don’t do it to the homeschoolers either. Ask your daughter for a schedule so you’ll know when not to call. Protect your grandkids’ education—even from yourself.
  4. Chaperone. Is your daughter planning a field trip to the zoo? She’d love it if you’d volunteer as a chaperone for the expedition.
  5. Chauffeur. Your grandson needs to get to youth choir practice, his sister volunteers at the vet clinic, the youngest has a play date at Jacob’s house, and your daughter needs to buy groceries. If you live nearby, you could relieve some of the stress by taking a grandchild where he or she needs to go.
  6. Teach. Offer your grandkids a once-a-week unit study or teach a course at their homeschool co-op. Pick a subject that interests you—birds, gardening, hunter safety, bread baking, knitting, the human skeleton, flowers, Niagara Falls, Egyptian mummies, etc. If you’re near enough to help daily, offer to teach your granddaughter’s Algebra course for a semester. If you live too far away to help daily, teach a week-long short course when you visit or video record lessons for your grandkids to use daily.
  7. Tutor. In a multi-student homeschool, a child having difficulty learning to read or do fractions causes extra strain on the family. If your grandson is having trouble with Latin, offer to tutor him. If you don’t live near enough to go to his house regularly, ask to take him home with you for a week of intensive study. Or use email, fax, video, and/or the telephone to help.
  8. Apprentice. You are skilled in areas that your daughter and son-in-law may not be. Set up an after-school or summer-long apprenticeship for your grandchildren in car repair, canning, farming, animal care, woodworking, piano tuning, etc.
  9. Babysit. Offer to keep preschool grandchildren occasionally so your daughter can teach the older kids without distractions. If you grandparent long-distance, volunteer to pick them up, keep them several days, and return them. Pick a week in August to keep all of the kids so your daughter can prepare for the new school year.
  10. Sub. Fill in when your daughter is sick or has just given birth or simply needs a day off.
  11. Give useful gifts. Useful gifts don’t have to be socks or pajamas. Piano lessons, a new desk, ballet tickets, a microscope, soccer cleats, tuition to science camp—all make great birthday or Christmas gifts.
  12. Grandparent. When your grandchildren have a piano recital in their living room or a closing program with their homeschool co-op, go and encourage them. Home educated or not, your grandchildren need you to grandparent them.


Ways to Avoid Five O’clock Madness

clock12_clip_art_16380The clock strikes five. Dirty dishes cover the counters; looks like pizza night again. Mt. Laundry avalanches, burying the baby in dirty clothes, just as you discover a crayon T-Rex on your toddler’s bedroom wall. Meanwhile, your second-grader stares at the math lesson he started two hours before. History was a disaster, and Latin looks impossible. Your fourth-grader’s grammar lesson has to wait until tomorrow (again) because you got caught up in a phone conversation with your best friend. At this rate, you’ll finish up this school year in September—just in time to start up for next year. You heave a massive sigh and wonder how to teach your children to be more disciplined with their schoolwork.

Wish you knew the secret to avoiding five o’clocks like this one? Teaching kids to stay on task actually begins well before school time. The trick actually begins with you.

  • Discipline yourself. Children can’t learn self-discipline until you learn it yourself. Employ proper self-care—shower, eat right, exercise, sleep enough, read a good book, relax. Set aside devotional time daily. Enjoy a few date nights with your husband. When you take care of your needs, you can better care for your family.
  • Get organized. Put your house in order. Chaos doesn’t breed smooth schooling. Set up a chore chart. Plan meals and use grocery lists. Train your family to put things in their proper places.
  • Make a schedule. Set a daily routine for school, chores, breaks, etc. Post a copy in the schoolroom and on the refrigerator. Then stick to the schedule. If it’s not working, you can always make changes. You don’t have to set specific times for every little thing, just plan the order (i.e., 1st-Math, 2nd-Reading, 3rd-Snack, etc.). Don’t forget to plan special times for your preschoolers.
  • Minimize distractions. Turn off the TV and computer. Turn on the answering machine. Give family and friends copies of your schedule so they’ll know when not to call. Pick quiet toys and activities that you only allow preschoolers during lesson times. Separate students so they won’t distract each other. Utilize the little ones’ nap times for more difficult subjects.
  • Vary your routine. Try altering your schedule every six weeks to stave off boredom. Change the way you teach a subject by going on a field trip or doing an experiment, making a lap book or painting a picture. Let a child record or type a report instead of handwriting it.
  • Make your child responsible. Give your child a checklist of subjects to mark off when completed. Reward her with something fun—like a sticker, a piece of candy, or extra play time—when she meets the requirements. Always have consequences for lack of diligence—missed play time, extra post-school chores, or additional practice in the subject done poorly.
  • Plan for the “squirmies.” It’s hard for kids to sit still, so try alternating between the “sitting” subjects and the “active” ones. If math is hard for your child, be sure you do something he enjoys, like art, right afterward. You may try sending a squirmy child into the next room to do ten jumping jacks, then have him come back to write his sentence or work his problem.
  • Know when to say when. Some days it’s just time to throw in the towel. When the kids (or you) are sick and no one is learning, it might be time to give it up for the day. Sometimes Mom the Teacher forgets to be Mom the Mommy; occasionally, you just need to play awhile and enjoy your kids.
  • Set attainable goals. Don’t set monumental tasks that you and your child can’t complete in a day. Set small, reachable goals. You’ll see results in the long run.

Learn to practice self-discipline and teach your kids discipline. Then five o’clock will mean playtime with Daddy because school’s completed, chores are done, and supper’s nearly ready.