D-Day, June 6, 1944, A Day to Remember

D-Day, June 6, 1944, forever lives in the memories of those who participated in one of the greatest invasions in history to free the world of Nazi tyranny.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commanding General of the Allied Powers, prepared and led in the invasion under Operation Overlord. Under his direction, the Allied forces which included American, Canadian, and British troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, in order to liberate France and northwestern Europe from Nazi control. This decisive battle was one of many that helped bring an end to WWII.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together in Victory! I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory! Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1944

Troops landed on 5 designated beaches with code names: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Casualties were heavy especially on Omaha Beach.

D-Day: Soldiers on a Landing Craft
Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching “Omaha” Beach on “D-Day”, 6 June 1944. Note helmet netting; faint “No Smoking” sign on the LCVP’s ramp; and M1903 rifles and M1 carbines carried by some of these men.
This photograph was taken from the same LCVP as Photo # SC 189986.
Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Description: Photo #: SC 320901. Normandy Invasion, June 1944.

Meanwhile,the Air Force flew over another region called Pas de Calais dropping aluminum strips to confuse German radar equipment and cause the Germans to think the the invasion was there and not at the designated beaches at Normandy.

Over 4600 vessels were used to carry troops and equipment across the English Channel. 22 minesweepers swept as many mines as possible. The Navy gunned the Germans’ “pillboxes” and other gunnery storage locations.

Landing Ship Transports carried tanks and other heavy armory equipment. 11 thousand planes were involved. Paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines with orders to destroy German communication lines.

Communication during World War II was drastically different and not as reliable as today’s modern communication techniques. (Photo courtesy of Nusa Urbancek on Unsplash.)

Casualties were heavy with Omaha Beach suffering the worst. In the first three weeks of hard fighting approximately 9 thousand Allied troops were killed.

The Normandy Invasion was costly yet necessary to secure liberty from German Nazi control and Hitler’s ruthless dictatorship.

We remember June 6, 1944, respectfully called D-Day, because of the great sacrifice that was made to free a people from the tyranny of dictatorial government.

We must remember that the freedoms a free loving world have obtained have not been received without great cost. In order to retain those freedoms, mankind must be diligent and acknowledge that without moral and just law, mankind can be seduced by propaganda and fall under such tyranny as Nazism once again.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 13:9

Let us not forget the men and women who gave their lives for freedom. D-Day should never be forgotten.

Tulip photo by Steven Su on Unsplash
(Photo courtesy of Steven Su on Unsplash.)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

Concerned About Your Language Arts Curriculum?

 Is your language arts curriculum satisfactory, or does it fall short in key areas?

Good educators are concerned about their students’ ability to communicate, to write effectively, and to think clearly. Therefore, they are concerned about the textbooks that are available for their use.  Although there is a wide variety of language arts curriculum available, not all are adequate.


To be able to communicate effectively, students need skills in delivery and the use of a wide variety of vocabulary words. Being able to speak one’s thoughts clearly is a skill learned. Being familiar with the dictionary and the thesaurus are vital.

Punctuation and Grammar

Knowing proper punctuation and grammar rules are not enough. Students need to know how to use these rules in their writing and in their speech.  Therefore, the curricula used should give students ample opportunities to use the skills taught both in written and in oral formats.


Students also need knowledge of a wide variety of topics. Having to research a wide variety of topics will open the students’ understanding of and interest in the world around them. Therefore, writing assignments should not just include what happened on students’ summer vacations.

Creative Writing

A wide variety of creative writing assignments should be given. Poetry, haiku, song, and adventure are only a few examples.

Students love being the heroes of their own stories. Of course, having a list of topics for students to choose from is extremely helpful.


Students should be provided with good writing examples for each assignment. Good examples encourage good writing. If the curricula does not do this properly, educators must supplement as needed.


Educators should provide rubrics which detail exactly what is expected for each writing assignment.  These checklists provide clarity and help tremendously in the grading process.


After assignments have been edited and revised, students should be given the opportunity to present their work orally.  This helps develop their speaking abilities. It also gives students the opportunity to critique others’ as they develop their own listening skills.


Students should be given the opportunity to publish their work. This can be as easily done as posting their work on a bulletin board. However, collecting their work in a book format for others to view is advantageous. In this way, students can track their own progress during the current year and into future years. Publishing writing in an e-book format has now become a viable option.

Educators should carefully evaluate the language arts textbooks that are being used to see if they provide what is necessary for students to develop adequate communication skills. In today’s fast-paced world, proper communication skills are a must.

Do you have concerns about your language arts curriculum?  Please share in the comments below.

If you are extremely please with the language arts curriculum you are using, please share the title so others can check it out.

©2018 by Peggy Clark




Model Teaching: Lesson Presentation

Model Teaching: A Simplified Approach to Lesson Presentation

Prepared to teach but not sure how to present the material?

Relax.  Here’s 4 steps you can follow and be successful.

You’ve gathered the needed materials. You’ve prepared your lesson. But now you must TEACH the lesson.

Make sure you have gathered all the materials you will need to teach your lesson before you begin your presentation.
Make sure you have gathered all the materials you will need to teach your lesson before you begin your presentation.

You know what you want your children/students to learn, but how do you present it?

Yes, there are many ways to present lesson material, but following these simple steps will help you become confident until you feel comfortable varying your teaching strategy. This simplified approach will also enhance the learning of your students.

Don’t let first year jitters keep you from moving forward with your plans.  Just follow these 4 steps and you will be successful.

4 Steps to Successfully Present Any Lesson

Step 1:  Ask the students what they already know about the subject material to be presented. Allow them to share their knowledge for a limited time.

For example:  Today we’re going to learn about the ocean.  (Name), what interests you most about the ocean?

Step 2:  Present the lesson.  Be sure to define any new vocabulary and include discussion of terms within the material.

Give an overview of the material.  You may or may not have your child open their textbooks or reading material.  However, by keeping textbooks closed at this point you can gain your child’s interest by giving an interesting introduction.

Then go over important vocabulary words to look for as they read or review material.  These may be listed in the reading material, given in a handout, or placed on a visual.

Step 3:  Carefully guide students to discover the main idea, plot, principle, or conclusion.

Gently lead your child to find the main idea of the story, the important lesson to learn from history, or why a discovery in the scientific world is important to us today.

Step 4:  Finally, students should be able to clearly explain the main idea, plot, principle, or conclusion in their own words and be able to defend their position and/or reasoning.  They should be able to paraphrase the material presented, retell the story, or restate the main facts.

Continue to follow these 4 steps, and you will build confidence in yourself as a teacher.  An extra benefit is that your children’s retention is greatly enhanced.

I hope this simplified approach to lesson presentation has been helpful.

Have a successful year teaching.

©2017 by Peggy Clark







Division: Laying the Groundwork, Part 3

Manipulatives make learning fun.
Manipulatives make learning fun.

 Laying the Groundwork for Teaching Division, Part3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of Laying the Groundwork for Teaching Division, I discussed ways parents can begin laying the groundwork for the future teaching of division to their children.

Teaching division may seem like a complicated task but using manipulatives makes the skill easy to teach and to acquire.

For our purposes in this post, we will use recycled ice cream sticks. Family members could assist in recycling so that you have a useful amount.

Ask extended family members to save items that can be used as manipulatives to teach mathematical skills.
Ask extended family members to save items that can be used as manipulatives to teach mathematical skills.

(Another alternative would be to use tongue depressors. Just ask your doctor for a handful next time you have an appointment. If you tell him or her the purpose for your request, you may find yourself with a generous handful free of charge.)

Let’s Review Place Value First

Before we continue let’s take a moment to discuss the place value of numbers. This is just for the parents’ information.

The number 2 is a one-digit number which is made up of 2 one’s.

The number 23 is a two-digit number which is made up of 2 tens and 3 ones.

The number 234 is a three-digit number which is made up of 2 hundreds, 3 tens, and 4 ones.

In the number 2, the digit 2 is in the one’s place.

In the number 23, the digit 2 is in the ten’s place.

In the number 234, the digit 2 is in the hundred’s place.

In other words, a 3-digit number has 3 digits, one which represents the hundred’s place, one which represents the ten’s place, and one which represents the one’s place.

In the number 2, there is only one digit. This tells us we have 2 ones.

In the number 23, there are two digits. This tells us we have 2 tens and three ones.

In the number 234, there are three digits. This tells us we have 2 hundreds, 3 tens, and 4 ones.

Prepare Your Manipulatives
Choose your colors.

Back to our ice cream sticks. Choose a color you wish to use to represent the hundred’s place. For our demonstration we will use purple.

Choose another color to represent the ten’s place. For our demonstration we will use red.

Now choose another color to represent the one’s place. For our demonstration we will use yellow.

Use markers, paints, crayons, etc., per your color choices

Use markers, paints, or crayons according to your color choice to dye your assortment of ice cream sticks.  If your budget allows, colored ice cream sticks may be purchased inexpensively at various craft stores.

Teaching the Skill of Division Using Your Manipulatives

Now that you have your own manipulatives, let’s see how we can use them to continue laying the groundwork for teaching the concepts of division. You will find it much easier than you thought.

Ice cream sticks may be used to represent numbers.
Ice cream sticks may be used to represent numbers.

To represent the number 234, we will use 2 purple sticks, 3 red sticks, and 4 yellow sticks (per our color choices).

(To make this task even easier, you may decide to only use even numbers for all digits, especially if your child/student is very young.)

234/2 = ____
The example problem we will be solving is 234 divided by 2.
  • Lay the sticks out in proper order to represent the number 234.

Place value represented by manipulatives
Representing place value

Explain to your child what the colors represent.
  • Explain to your child what the colors represent. Always use the same colors to represent the same place value.
  • Tell your child to “pretend” he or she has two friends. The number 234 can represent marbles, cookies, building blocks, or whatever your child likes to play with.
  • Tell your child to divide the 234 between his or her two pretend friends equally.
Direct them through the process.

Draw attention to the 2 “hundred’s” sticks (purple). Share these two sticks equally.  They will place one stick in each pretend friend’s pile.

The “hundreds” divided.

Then direct them to divide the three “ten’s” sticks (red). They will place one stick in each pretend friend’s pile. But what will they do with the third stick? No, they cannot break it.

Problem represented thus far

Show them that they can solve this by trading the “ten” stick for ten “ones” sticks.

Now show them to place the ten “ones” sticks with the 4 “ones” sticks. How many “one” sticks (yellow) do they have now?

Ask them to divide these 14 “ones” sticks between the two “pretend” friends. 7 “ones” sticks should be placed in each pretend friend’s pile.

7 yellow sticks go to each friend

Explain the answer to the problem.

234 has now been divided into two equal but separate groups. The answer to the problem is the amount in one of the groups.

  • So, if we share 234 building blocks equally between two friends, each friend will have 117 blocks.

Therefore, 234 divided by 2 is 117.

234 divided equally between 2 friends.
234 divided equally between two friends.

This is an example of the division of a three-digit number by a one-digit number.

Where to start
  • Begin with the division of a one-digit number by a one-digit number, continue with the division of two-digit numbers by a one-digit number, and then the division of three-digit numbers by a one-digit number.
  • Go at your child’s pace.

Remember this is to be a time of enjoyment. Don’t get stressed if your child struggles at first. Eager learners will pick up on what you are requesting as you continue along.

I do hope these posts have been helpful. Parents can do a tremendous job of helping their children enjoy learning these somewhat difficult tasks.

Just take a few minutes each day to lay the groundwork for division and your child will find this task conquerable.

You may leave any questions in the comment box below.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark



Description: A Study of Words and Phrases

Description: An Author’s Quest for Words

The study of description is an ongoing and intensive study of individual words and phrases.

The one who wishes to master description is on the pursuit for the right word.

His or her mission is to find the exact word or phrase. Not just any word or phrase will do. It must be the exact word that completely and satisfactorily fits.

His quest will take him on a journey into the vast treasury of vocabulary, usage, and cultural expressions.

He must make himself acquainted with words, introduce himself to those who use words, and associate himself with the tools that open up the world of words.

His acquisition of tools will include general and specialized dictionaries, thesauruses, and word lists.

Great literary works of the present and past will capture his attention as he seeks to increase his vocabulary through this most useful pastime.

He will pore over his tools until he subdues the language and extracts just the right wording to accurately convey.

Then – Eureka!  The right word or phrase has been discovered!

The reader of his words can “see.” His description is complete. He has mastered the description.

Now he begins his quest for the next “right” word.  It must be exact! It must accurately describe.

Good authors must study description.

The following will aid you in your study of description.
  1. Increase your vocabulary through reading quality literature.
  2. Utilize dictionaries and thesauruses. Collect an assortment of specialized dictionaries.
  3. Create and collect word lists.
  4. Observe people, places, and actions.
  5. Study analogy.
  6. Memorize passages such as text from the King James Bible.
  7. Create separate concrete noun and verb lists.
  8. Notice how authors use imagery in their writings.
  9. Don’t give up the pursuit!

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark

What descriptive words have you discovered lately?

Have you begun your own word lists?

What have you found to be your best tool to utilize when writing?

Division: A Daunting Task

Laying the Groundwork for Teaching Division

Manipulatives Make Learning Fun Photo
Manipulatives Make Division Easy and Fun

Division is that part of math class that seems daunting to teachers and students alike.

I remember watching my older brother do long division. His homework pages had problems that seemed so long they looked as if they covered half of his paper. I assumed those problems must have been very important.  Doing that type of math looked so grown-up. It was a process that I wanted to be able to conquer. I couldn’t wait to get to that level of math.

Division is not so complicated as many think. It just needs to be taught correctly. Part of that comes with laying the proper groundwork.

Long before division class comes around, children should already be engaging in the concepts of dividing.

Those “official” concepts begin with kindergarten and continue level by level. But division has already been introduced to the child even before that “first” day of formal schooling begins.

For example, children see division at work around the supper table as they share the meal. A family of four shares four pieces of chicken equally. The pumpkin pie is divided into six or eight pieces.  A gallon of milk is poured into glasses. Rolls are shared round the table.  The last one may be divided in two parts to share between eager siblings.

So how can parents begin that formal groundwork for division?

Parents can add to what the child is observing day by day by simply adopting the usage of mathematical terms.

“Please share with your brother,” may be changed to “Please divide the roll between the two of you.”

Look for opportunities to use mathematical terms when appropriate.

Divide these sandwiches so we have two (or four) pieces each.

There’s only four cookies left. Share them equally with your sister.

Divide the candy bar equally between yourself and your brother.

Divide the last of the milk between yourself and Dad.

Divide the potato tots so that each of you get the same amount.”

Children will be alert to the methods their siblings are using because they want to be sure they are getting their “fair share.” This unknowingly draws their attention to the division process.

Another way parents can lay the groundwork is to allow their children to measure.

Mother can let the children measure the ingredients for her favorite recipes. Dad can let the children measure items for his next building or repair project.

We tend to think of measuring as adding to something that we are making; however, we also measure because we are about to subtract from something. We are taking a cup of milk from the gallon.  We are sawing a foot of lumber from six foot of lumber.

Measuring is an indirect way of preparing the child for future concepts concerning division.

This may seem odd, but division is really just a fast way to subtract the same number over and over.

A third way parents can lay the groundwork for division is to actually divide groups of items – not on paper, but with manipulatives.

I’ll discuss an easy and inexpensive way for parents to do this in my next blog post.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark





Four Tips to a Great Book

Craft a great story.

Publish your accomplishment.

Keep me coming back for more.

Who doesn’t love lounging under warm covers with a good book in hand?

Which of you haven’t staved off sleep to finish a page-turner?

What keeps your book in my hands when others are screaming for my attention?

These four tips will drown those other voices and get me to your final page.

  1. Get my attention!

  • Use the active voice.

Even if you begin your story with the setting (where, when) that so many of us were taught in class, use active voice instead of passive voice.

Consider the following:

The sun was setting behind the hills that were around the little town of NoWhere. John and Jill were living in a house at the end of Sober Street. There was a garden beside the house. They also had a small flock of chickens.

So nowhere…and boring…and sober….and are you asleep yet?

Or would this be your preference:

The sun peered above the hills and threw its rays into the town of NoWhere reaching through the half-closed curtains at the end of Sober Street. Inside, John and Jill absorbed the potential consequences of their pillaged garden.

  • Activate your story with action.

A dramatic scene is better than an uneventful one; such as, an evening ride that happens to end in a crash. Startle me with the crash and then give me the details.

Consider the following:

John and Jill decided to go for a ride. They were riding down the highway in their red convertible when they happened upon a white truck.

Or would this be your preference:

Brakes screamed as white meshed with red, each vying to occupy the same spot of pavement.

Television dramas reveal the crime first and then continue through a series of events that lead to the capture of the accused. The action creates the desire to know what happened and why.

NCIS is the number one television drama because of the usage of this method. Its viewers keep coming back for more.

  • Use questions to get attention.

Another method is to use questions to gain attention.

Jesus used this method when relaying His Parable of the Lost Sheep:

“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” Luke 15:4

If nothing else, make me step into the story long enough to answer the question.

  1. Don’t make me hunt for the topic.

When presented with questions from John the Baptist, Jesus’ response was direct: Go and tell. Notice His response in the following verse:

“Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” Luke 7:22

John’s disciples were to report to John what they themselves had seen and heard. That is telling the story. Teachers call it “Sticking to the Topic.”

Jesus also used strong nouns and active verbs.

Notice the simple but succinct wording that lets us visualize the action:

The blind see. The lame walk. The lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised. The gospel is preached.

Tell me your story with strong nouns and verbs that let me use my imagination to see the action. Don’t drag me down with a series of unnecessary and lengthy descriptives that send me to a screeching halt and a closed book.

  1. Keep me interested.

  • Give me a scenario that gets my attention and keeps me reading.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he told a parable that caught their attention.

“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.” Luke 18:2-3

  • Use the element of surprise to your advantage.

This parable pitted a ruthless judge against a widow who had no man to intercede for her. Her boldness in coming before the judge intrigued the disciples.

How would this judge respond? Obviously, not as the disciples imagined. The element of surprise caught the disciples off-guard causing them to think carefully about what they had just heard. Please surprise me!

  • Get my attention and keep me hunting for the next clue.

Unravel the threads of the story ever so slowly but at just the right speed to keep me traveling to the next page.

Don’t lose me in wasted words and unnecessary actions that add no value to the story.

  1. Make me satisfied with the ending (but you can make me beg for more!)

Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after. (But, what change came over the kingdom?)

The woodsman killed the wolf. (But, did Goldilocks overcome the trauma of her grandmother’s death?)

“And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” Luke 22:38

It is enough. Say what you need to say, no more, no less. (But, why two swords? One cut off a soldier’s ear; what did the other do?)

I expect Good to win over Evil. I expect Evil to be reprimanded. I expect Good to be rewarded regardless of the troubles that Good encounters.

Shakespeare’s classics stood the test of time because of these expectations woven throughout his stories.

Use these four tips to make yours a classic, and let me enjoy it for years to come.

Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark

Do you have a story waiting to be shared?

Have you used strong nouns and active verbs?

Have you replaced unnecessary and lengthy wording with specific and descriptive wording?

Then now is the time to let someone else preview your writing. Use their analysis to improve your story.

Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.

Sacrifices to Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Sacrifices Not to be Forgotten

November will soon be gone, and December will be upon us before we know it. This month, as we set aside time to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us, may we not be quick to forget those sacrifices that many have made on our behalf.

Although November 11 is set aside each year to remember our military veterans, it seems these brave men and women who have given their lives are too swiftly forgotten in the bustle of activities that soon follow.

The brave heroes of the past include such great military men as General Douglas MacArthur, General George Patton, and General Dwight Eisenhower. These men led forces against the evil of Hitler, Mussolini, and General Tito’s aggressive and cruel regimes.

Others have also fought for the freedoms of peoples.

General George Washington led a small group of untrained and ill-equipped volunteers against the overwhelming forces of Britain’s highly trained military and their hired elite forces secured from Germany. His bravery and the men and women who fought with him led to the establishment of the United States of America.

Lieutenant Colonel William Travis led a small group of 182 men and women from Texas against the mighty forces of the Mexican General Santa Anna. Although they failed to win this battle, their sacrifices stirred the hearts of the Texan people to prevail in freeing Texas from the Mexican government.  Afterward Texas was granted the privilege of becoming part of the United States.

So many unknown who gave so much.
Cross Grave Marker of Unknown

As We Set Our Tables This Year

As we set our tables this year and share our blessings with those we love and care for, may we also be reminded that the ability to share those blessings without fear of bondage and confinement, was paid for with the blood of courageous men and women whose sacrifices we must never forget.

Do you have a member of the military sitting at your table this Thanksgiving?
Do you have a family story to tell of sacrifices made on behalf of your country? community? family?
What plans have you made to give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon you and your family?

Visual Charts in the Classroom: Two Important Reasons

Visual Charts Help with Presentation of New Material

 Story webs and other types of charts make difficult tasks easier for students.

Story webs and other graphic charts make difficult tasks easier.

Two Important Reasons

Use of visual charts will greatly assist you as you present new material or review concepts already presented to children in your classroom.

Using a visual chart such as the one pictured above can help children in two very important ways.

First, visual charts break major tasks into manageable parts.

Children can become overwhelmed when given new and unfamiliar assignments, especially if they are writing assignments:

  • Paragraphs
  • Essays
  • Book reports
  • Research papers
  • Stories

These and other tasks can be simplified by utilizing charts, spider webs, timelines, Venn diagrams, and other visuals.

The chart shown above is an example of a story web. The chart could be used to teach in other subject areas. However, for our purposes we will use the information on the story web to see how a difficult writing assignment can become quite simple when the task is broken into manageable parts.

Notice that the chart displays the topic as the main part or central focus point of the visual. The topic is what the paragraph, report, or story is about.

TIP:   The graphic could be utilized to focus only on the subject matter, i.e. trees, until the subject matter is sufficiently narrowed down into a suitable topic that is manageable for the child, i.e. oak trees.

The smaller circles on the above chart show the parts that would be used to relate a story.

A simplified way for young children to write a story is to focus on the separate parts individually. Also, when writing a research report, it is beneficial for older students to focus on individual parts also.

The topic has been broken into five parts. As a teacher you may reduce these parts to four, leaving out the ‘why’. You may also wish to insert more parts. Adjust the chart according to the material and children’s ability.

Children should use one sheet of paper or notecard for each part. If you are teaching very young children, focus on teaching one part per day.

Ask questions that will help children ‘brainstorm’ about their character or event. The following are just a few sample questions. Adjust the questions according to the topic.

  • Who is this character, a person, an animal, an object, an event? What are they like? Describe them for me.
  • Where does this person live? Where did this event or series of events take place?
  • What is the character doing? What happened that is making the character happy or sad? What event or action is taking place?
  • When did this happen? How old are the people involved? Did this happen in the past? Is it happening right now? What major world or local events are happening around the main character or other characters in the story that may be influencing them?
  • Why did the characters act the way they did? Why did the car crash? Why did the building fall down? Why was the main character sad or happy or puzzled? Why did they have to go to town, to war, to the West?

TIP:   After these parts have been completed, have the children cut and paste the parts together onto a fresh sheet of paper.

The parts may have to be adjusted as the children put their individual parts together into story form. That will come as they learn to edit their new achievement.

Expect this part of the process to yield a very rough draft. However, it will help the children begin to write their stories on fresh paper using the information they have accumulated greatly reducing their frustration.

Second, visual charts help children stay focused on the task at hand.  

The graphic nature of charts draws children’s attention to the most important aspects of the writing process. It also allows children to know what parts of the process have been accomplished and what has not.

Whether using a spider web to show relationships or timelines to show a sequence of events, visuals are great assistants when it comes to presenting new material.

Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark

What types of visuals do you use in your classroom?
How have these visuals helped you with your presentations?
Can you relate a teaching experience using visuals that may help others in their teaching endeavors? If so, please share in the comment box at bottom of page.
Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan. More of her writing can be found at https://sowhatsthelatestnews.info.


Culture, History, Values

The Passing Down of Values

God’s Instructive Command Concerning Communicating to the Next Generation

Communication of historical events and family values is the glue that works to hold a family, generation, and culture intact.

When cracks begin to develop in a particular society, it comes many times as a result of the breakdown in the passing down of values, principles, and history from one generation to another.

Cooperation within certain people groups takes place because they share the same language, same values, and same vision.

When people within a certain group have different languages, cultural values, and diverse visions of their future, division and other destructive events begin to happen.

Psalm 78 enlightens us as to the importance of passing down the knowledge of historical events and the values and standards of a society.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

We are instructed to yield our hearing to a particular instruction that the Psalmist is about to impart.

I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:

Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.

The Psalmist instructs us in the art of communication.

The Psalmist is about to instruct us in the art of communication to the next generation. He is letting us know that he also received this type of communication from his forefathers.

We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children.

The Psalmist is revealing how the LORD began this type of instructive communication Himself.

The LORD Himself gave us an example.

The LORD established a testimony in Jacob. In other words, He set an example.

God’s dealings with Jacob and his family reveals God’s pattern in dealing with those whom He loves.

Then the Lord appointed a law. This was an instructional command to be followed.

God appointed the law or instruction that was commanded to our forefathers that they should make these things known to their children. This type of instruction was to be perpetual, continuously handed down to the next generation.

The Ten Commandments taken from Exodus 20
The Ten Commandments taken from Exodus 20

The purpose for this was threefold:
  1. To show the next generation the praises of the LORD
  2. To show God’s strength and power
  3. To show the wonderful works that God had done

That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children.

This was to be a generational task of revealing God’s threefold purpose in communicative instruction. Fathers are commanded to share this knowledge with their children. Those children were to continue in this pattern of sharing with their children. And so the pattern was to continue down through the ages.

That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.

The effects of following God’s instructive pattern is evident.

Following in this pattern would yield several results. The effect is seen in the above verses. That the generation to come might:

  1. Set their hope in God
  2. Would not forget God’s works
  3. Would keep God’s commandments
  4. Would not follow those whose hearts were not right with God

As we share with our children what God has done for us in the past, the telling of stories from our forefathers as to how our native countries came about, the opportunities that have been afforded us because of God’s intervention, and our thankfulness for His provisions even in the most difficult of trials, our children will give ear and desire to follow the God that is truly worthy of all our praises.

When we fail to follow God’s example in communicating the truths of history, we deprive the following generation of the knowledge of God and his intervening in the affairs of men. We then reap the results of a stubborn and rebellious generation that will not set its heart aright and follow God’s commandments.

Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark

A quick look through the Scriptures reveals the many times that the children of Israel were reminded of God’s deliverance from their captivity in Egypt, the mighty miracles performed at the Red Sea and the Jordan River, as well as many other such events. Are you telling your own stories of God’s deliverance from your captivity in sin and the many miracles that God has performed for you and those around you?
Our forefathers wisely placed the Ten Commandments in visible areas in each school classroom. Does your classroom have these commandments visibly placed?
Do the Sunday School classes where you attend have the Ten Commandments visibly placed?
What are you doing to continue the instructive pattern of communication that our Lord gave to us?
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Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. A preview of this title is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Ask for it at your local Christian retailer.




Detective Work an Author Can Appreciate

Think Like a Detective to Improve Upon Your Writing

Writing a good story is like being a good detective.

Any piece of writing can be appreciated if it is well-crafted. Readers love a good novel and will eagerly anticipate an ongoing series if they fall in love with the characters and plot.

Authors may follow generally accepted writing processes that help them finish their stories with flair.

However, any story can be greatly improved if one takes the mindset of a detective during the editing process.

Check details carefully.
Check details carefully.

Observe details.

To be a good detective, one must be a good observer of details including behavior of characters, crime scene evidence, time of day or year, etc.

To be effective, an author must also carefully observe the details of his or her writing with intense scrutiny. It is the little details that can increase readers’ interest, but it is also the little details that can bring confusion and reader dissatisfaction.

To avoid disappointment, therefore, an author must edit his work with great attention to the details concerning all areas of the writing process.

As a detective walks through the scene under investigation, the detective takes an overall view of what has taken place.

Obviously, a crime has happened. But what exactly was the crime? How did it happen? Who did it? What was the motive that would cause such an event to take place?

Pay close attention to the chain of events.

The detective then takes a second look and makes a hypothesis as to what happened. He (or she) may have several hypotheses at this point.

However, the hypotheses must fit his observation.

Did the suspect enter the room through the door or window? If the window was broken then the assumption may be made that the suspect came through the window. If no windows were broken and every window was locked, then any hypotheses that began with an entrance through a window would be discarded until and unless further evidence was uncovered which would lead to a different conclusion.

Broken glass photo
Evidence of broken glass

An author must also step through his or her story reviewing the events that occurred.  Are the events in order?

A careful overview may reveal that some parts are out-of-place.

Did a character named John have a conversation with another character, Jill, at the beginning of the story and then suddenly in chapter five be newly introduced (again) to Jill?

Did a character named Joe die in chapter 3 and have a car wreck in chapter 4?

The above examples may seem silly, but they do happen. It is easy to overlook a seemingly insignificant character’s appearance in one’s writing, especially when one is writing a lengthy novel.

Is the sequence correct?
Is the sequence correct?

Is anything missing?

What is lacking that is necessary to the story?

After the hypotheses have been formulated, the detective carefully looks back over the scene making note of things that are missing.

What should be there but isn’t? What is making the scene being observed incomplete?

Is there a blank space on the wall with evidence that a picture once hung there? Are there speakers but no stereo? Is there an open safe?

Empty picture hanger
What’s missing?

An author must also look for any writing that is out of context. Are the characters believable? Is the setting appropriate? Are clues missing that are needed to solve the mystery?

All clues or inciting moments should lead up to the conclusion.

Remove unrelated material.

Finally, the detective must disregard any details that have nothing to do with the crime.

Food in the refrigerator would have nothing to do with a broken window unless food was taken from the refrigerator. An untouched bedroom would be inconsequential to a crime scene located in the living room except to say no one had entered from that location.

An author must also delete those unnecessary details that are not related to the story line and only succeed in slowing down readers who are in a quest to reach the next heart-stopping moment in a series of events.

Those types of unnecessary additions are hard for authors to discover. That is when the detective and the author must bring in another set of eyes to view the evidence.

Hire an editor to proof read your work.

Enlist someone else to preview the material before closing the case or might I say, book.

Will the assistant detective come to the same conclusions as the main detective?

Can the author’s assistant visualize the story line just as the author did?

Were the assistants confused at any point as they followed through the chain of events from start to finish?

Did either get bogged down in a specific area of their search?

Even if the assistant detective is surprised at the final outcome of the investigation, does the assistant feel satisfied with the conclusion?

The assistant to the author may also be delightfully surprised as the assistant concludes his or her investigation into the writings of the author, but is the assistant satisfied with the final product?

Get others to review your writing.
Get others to review your writing.

Yes, writing can be greatly improved when the detective’s cap is put on and errors are discovered and corrected before reaching the hands of readers.

Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark

Feel free to comment if this post has been beneficial to you. I enjoy hearing your input.
Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome, a reader-friendly study of Colossians available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.



Confronting Cultures of Darkness

Confronting Cultures of Darkness

The thought processes within a particular group of people control the direction in which that particular group or society continues. Although outside factors may influence one’s thinking, every person has the ability to choose the direction his life will take. His lifestyle is just an outward expression of what resides in his heart.

“For as [man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).

Outward expressions of man’s heart is seen in his artistic, musical, architectural, philosophical, and scholastic tastes and achievements (or lack thereof).

Past societies are known by their cultural achievements. Some societies have given mankind a better way of living than was previously known. Others, however, have left destruction and decay in their aftermath.

In order for mankind to be able to change the culture into a “kinder, gentler” one, mankind must be willing to look into his heart and see the darkness that dwells there. He must be willing to allow the Light of God’s Word to enter in and enlighten him into what is possible when he yields to the precepts set in God’s Word. As he ceases to be conformed to the darkness of this world and yields to the transforming power of God’s Word, he begins to realize that his life has purpose and meaning.

That purpose is to glorify God and influence with godly seed the society or culture of which he is a part. The biblicly-enlightened man is to influence society, but he can only do this if his foundation is firmly established. Otherwise, he will be influenced by the society around him.

A look through the eyes of history will show how societies rise or fall, how their thinking processes dictate their treatment of others, and how their peoples prosper or suffer great cruelty under their governmental leaders.

There are marked differences between those societies and governments who allow the absolutes of God’s Word to influence their decisions and those who turn away from or neglect the absolutes of God’s Word.

How do we confront the culture of darkness for the betterment of mankind?

It may seem like a lost cause for a man to think that he is able to turn a society from the path of darkness and chaos. However, light penetrates the darkness no matter how small that light is.

Individuals with vision have changed the course of history. That course, however, has been determined by those individual’s worldviews. Whether a godly worldview or a humanistic, man-centered worldview, individuals have had great influence on the society around them.

Jesus, as an individual, exerted such a profound influence over His disciples that it was told that they “turned the world upside down.” These men stood strong in their determination to spread the gospel. Although highly persecuted, their stand for the gospel has influenced mankind ever since.

Paul was used mightily by God in confronting the evil in his day. Since his time, many other men and women have had a profound impact on their societies: Jonathan Edwards, George Washington, James Madison, Billy Sunday, Dwight Moody, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Barton, etc.

We also remember others who have had great influence on their societies: Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Huxley, Kant, Darwin, and Marx.

The above individuals’ influences have continued to impact societies today. Some for good, some for evil.

However, as individuals, we also have an influence for good or evil in our society. So, how, as individuals, can we confront the evil of this world? How can we make an impact that leaves society better for our having existed on this earth?

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13

Speak with sound words.

First, we must speak with sound words. Those words convey the intent of our hearts. If our minds and hearts are set on glorifying God, we will choose our words carefully and purposefully.

“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

2 Timothy 2:23-26

Our words can make a deep impression in the lives of others.  The way our words are expressed can make a difference in how receptive others are to those words.

Speak with words composed of truth.

Next, our words must be composed of truth.

“These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16).

Our words should be composed of truth whether within our own communities, in the judgment halls, or in conversation with other nations and peoples.

Stand in truth.

“Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).

Then, we must stand in that truth.

No matter how the tide of opinion may try to sway us from our stance, we must uphold truth. It is truth that will bring liberty to those caught in the lies of deception.

Uphold truth to society.

Finally, we must uphold truth to society. Truth is not based upon man’s opinion but firmly upon the Word of God. The foundation of truth must be firmly established. It is the absolute upon which societies will be judged. It is also the glue that holds a nation together. Without it, all that is left is a society in chaos.

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

Copyright 2016 Peggy Clark
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Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. Available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan; Amazon; Barnes & Noble; and other retailers. 

First Step in Homeschooling Your Children

First Step in Homeschooling


So, you’re contemplating homeschooling your children. Does the thought bring butterflies to your stomach?

Are you asking yourself questions?

  • What?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • Why?

All of these questions and more will fill your mind in the days ahead.

  • Can I do this?
  • What if I make a mistake?
  • What will other people think?

Yes, you can homeschool.

Yes, you will make mistakes. We all do. We’re human, but we learn from them and continue onward.

We gain knowhow by taking one step at a time — precept upon precept, line upon line.

Yes, other people will “think.”  But before they have the chance to tell you their opinions, have your own reasons as to why you will (or will not) do homeschooling settled in your own mind.

And that is the one question you will have to answer for yourself.

  • Why?

Decision Making

Everyone will give you reasons why you should or should not homeschool. However, you must realize that this is your decision.

  • Write down your own thoughts for desiring to homeschool.
  • Add to your thoughts a list of reasons that you feel are supportive.
  • Think through this process carefully and prayerfully.

By expressing yourself in writing as to your reasons, you have taken the first and most important step in homeschooling.

  • Why is the question that when answered will anchor you through any difficulties you may face after you have made your decision.
  • The reasons why will also be your prepared response to any who would desire to challenge your decision to homeschool.

I hope these thoughts have been a help to you in your decision making process.

©peggyclark 2016

The ‘Voice’ of Storytelling

Storytelling is an art form of old. Everyone loves to hear a good story. But what is it that makes us want to hear it? Is it the storyteller or the story itself?

Both the expressive language of the storyteller and the intrigue of the story itself draw the attention of those who stop to listen.

But how many people will pick up a written story and read it? What keeps people’s attention to the end?

The voice of the storyteller is heard, but not the storywriter, or is it?

Oral storytelling is different than the storywriter’s written narrative. Yet, there are similarities.

  • Every story has a beginning, middle, and end.

It is complete. In other words, it does not leave one wondering what the story was about.

  • There is a particular character or main event upon which the story is based.

This does not mean that a good story is limited to one character. There may be many characters, yet there is one character upon which the story is focused.

  • And there is also a climax, a point at which the story culminates.

Public Domain Images- Old Books Vintage Brown Red
Public Domain Archives Photo

A story usually begins in one of three ways:  1) setting, a description of the place where the action takes place; 2) description of a character in the story; or 3) dialogue between characters.

The oral storyteller and the story writer must pick up the action (begin the story) at the right place. The details of any previous events that are necessary to the story are woven into the telling of present events.

The story then continues with a sequence of actions or events which hold the listener or reader’s attention.

These actions or events are determined by the main character of the story.  Who is this person? What attributes do they possess? What motive compels them to do what they do?

The good storyteller does not give us this information in lengthy detail. Instead, the character does it by what he or she does or says in the story. This sequence of actions drives the story to the climatic end or the culminating event.

A good storyteller uses only as many words as necessary.

An oral storyteller can use voice to emphasize certain actions. However, the story writer must be careful to use specific concrete words.

Those words must be vivid and accurate and must appeal to the imagination.

The reader should be able to see and feel the action without being frustrated with wordy details. Remember, what the character says and does gives explanation without explaining it.

Therefore, the storywriter must be familiar with a vast array of vocabulary words and regional dialects. This is how the ‘voice’ of the storywriter is heard.

Both the storyteller and the storywriter must know when to stop.

What is the ending or final solution? When is the reader satisfied? However, the storywriter may give a few additional details after the climax.

The ‘voice’ of the storyteller whether oral or in written narrative form is an art that takes much practice and should be appreciated by those who enjoy a good story.

That voice is heard through the choice of words and the way the story is presented.

Whether orally through tone of voice, bodily expressions, and dialect, or written through vocabulary usage, presentation of facts, and focus on sequence of events, a good storyteller is one who can “spin a tale” (tell a story) that everyone wants to hear.

Do you have a storyteller in your family?
What stories do you remember from your childhood?
What made you want to hear them over and over?
Do you tell stories from your childhood to your children?
What type of stories do you like best?





Scope and Sequence: Why I Need to Ask for One

Scope and Sequence

What is a scope and sequence?
Why are they important?
How will they benefit me as a teacher at home?


  1. What is a scope and sequence?

Companies that produce educational curricula also produce a scope and sequence for their particular curriculum.

A scope and sequence gives information concerning new material being introduced, at what depth material will be taught, the sequence at which material is reviewed and built upon, and the level (grade) at which that material will be presented.

  1. Why is a scope and sequence important?

Suppose that you have a child in a public or private setting and wish to home educate them. A scope and sequence from that particular school’s curriculum will let you know what has already been introduced to your child.

Also, suppose that your child struggled last year. Their grades may have been okay, but you realize that your child has not comprehended sufficiently what you feel needs to have been accomplished at this point. A scope and sequence will let you know what material was covered during the past year. Should any of that material be revisited? Probably so. Should areas of accomplishment be retaught? Probably not. This is where a scope and sequence is handy.

As you look at the scope and sequence of other curricula providers, you can see at what level any particular information is being introduced. If the information you are concerned about is being introduced at the next level (grade) of a particular curriculum you are considering, then you need not worry. It will be introduced to your child as if it had never been taught.

However, if it has already been introduced, you might need to do a reteaching of that particular introductory material before you move ahead. In this scenario, there is no need to reteach a whole level (grade) if there is only a gap in a particular portion.

Scope and Sequence Photo
Scope and Sequence Example for Spelling

  1. How will a scope and sequence benefit me as a teacher at home?

The introduction of and type of subject matter varies from company to company. Different curriculum providers introduce new material at the level their particular authors and editors feel is appropriate. Requesting a scope and sequence from each company (or publisher) you are considering will give you an overview of material covered by each provider from preschool through high school.

Even if you choose not to use a particular company’s curriculum, you will benefit by seeing the different levels at which curriculum providers introduce new material. This is highly beneficial if you choose to do unit studies or deviate from a particular providers sequence.

During the high school years, some subjects are taught by courses. Those courses may be built around a particular topic instead of in a spiral pattern. For example, in the area of history, one course may center entirely on World History, while another course may center on a particular country’s history. Also, some courses may center on particular time periods.

If you were to decide to home educate your child during the high school years, you would not want to reteach a particular course that your child had already taken. In other words, if a child had taken World History at the ninth grade level, you would not want to reteach that same course at the tenth grade level unless there were problems with the previous course. Instead you would want to teach your country’s history. In this scenario, knowing the particular subject matter that your child has already been taught is very beneficial.

Different provider’s scope and sequences can also help you create your own scope and sequence for your particular situation.

Periodically reviewing your scope and sequence (at least at the beginning of each school year) can help you catch gaps before they occur and aid you in keeping on track as to your own goals for your child’s education.

Also, a scope and sequence can assist you in setting and attaining goals. Goals are what you wish for your child to learn academically before they are presented with that kindergarten, elementary, or high school diploma.

A scope and sequence can also be used as a checklist that lets you know where you have been and where you are going. In other words, your spot in the journey.

Your curriculum provider has a scope and sequence for each subject. Just ask for it when requesting information or when ordering catalogs. They should be happy to send you one.

I hope this information has been beneficial to you. If so, leave a comment. You may also leave suggestions for future posts.






Know Learning Channels to Optimize Teaching

Teach Facts Through a Variety of Learning Channels

Children absorb information through a variety of learning channels. Yet, each child has a particular channel through which he or she experiences greater learning. Therefore, it is important to know these channels and adapt the input that the child receives accordingly.

Access Every Channel of Learning

At the same time, for greater learning to take place, every channel should be accessed so that greater knowledge is received and retained. This will also help children exposed to different learning environments increase their competence when receiving information that is not presented in their unique learning styles.

The five senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting can help us remember the channels of learning as these are the pathways that God has given us to receive information.

Know the Different Learning Modalities

Children have a preferred style of learning. The tendency of a child to learn in a particular way that helps him or her best utilize the information received is called a modality.

There are six channels or modalities through which we receive information: visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, and kinesthetic. Do not allow the use of these words to confuse you. They simply refer to the senses that God has given us to learn.

  • The visual modality is the use of sight to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning enjoy material presented in a way that engages the sense of sight. The use of colors, posters, video, charts, live performances, and illustrated storybooks are this child’s favorite modes of learning.

They also love to read in quiet places. Noises detract and can lead to irritation. They usually prefer a neat desk and feel uncomfortable in cluttered places.

  • The auditory modality is the use of hearing to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning enjoy material presented in a way that engages the sense of hearing. This is the type of student that can learn through the use of lecture and audio materials.

Auditory learners love to talk and to listen. You may catch them reading aloud to themselves or humming their favorite tunes. They may also create rhymes or songs to remember special events or lists.

Oral drill of spelling words; historical, scientific, and mathematical facts; and other such vocal methods keeps this child engaged.

  • The tactile modality is the use of touch to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning enjoy material presented in a way that engages the use of their hands. The use of objects or manipulatives, textured papers, and special writing instruments helps this child to learn more effectively.

Hands-on projects, how-to presentations that involve the child’s assistance, and the use of models for explanation of concepts helps to keep this child engaged.

Manipulatives Make Learning Fun Photo
Manipulatives Make Learning Fun

  • The olfactory modality is the use of smell to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning like to ‘smell the roses.’ However, they strongly react to environments where smells are not to their liking. When they enter a room, you may hear them comment on the ‘smells’ they sense.
  • The gustatory modality is the use of taste to receive information. Children using this modality become great taste testers. As children it seems everything ends up in the mouth. They love tastes, textures, and smells. They prefer to use scented markers to highlight important information and to develop projects that consist of a variety of smells.

A writing assignment may be filled with words which describe the smells encountered on a nature walk or the smells of foods experienced during a recent trip to the market or their favorite restaurant.

  • The kinesthetic modality is the use of movement to receive information. Closely related to the tactile modality, children embracing this style of learning prefer movement in opposition to sitting still. The handling of manipulatives also increases their absorption of facts.

Whether utilizing ‘jumping jacks’ to memorize math facts or clapping hands to the drilling of letters, these students love learning when it involves movement in any form.  You will catch them doodling, fidgeting with their hands, and tapping the desk with their pencils.

Adapt Teaching Styles to Optimize Learning Experiences

The knowledge of these six learning modalities can help parents and teachers adapt their teaching styles in order to access the learning channels that children prefer to utilize when receiving information.

Adjust Teaching Plans to Create Variety

Preparing to utilize methods that employ every learning style will also create greater variety in the classroom. This makes for a better teaching and learning experience for both teachers and students.

As you make lesson plans for the upcoming week, I hope you will consider each of the six learning modalities and adjust your teaching plans accordingly.











Has “Drudgery” Overtaken Your Classroom?

Has your school day been overtaken by drudgery? The excitement of the first day of school soon vanishes as the school year progresses.

“Boxed” curriculum leads teachers and students from review to new material and then continues to build upward toward that curriculum author’s set goals for the year.

It can become a drudgery if a variety of learning activities is not implemented. However, one simple way to help prevent drudgery is in the introduction of lessons. Whether the curriculum calls for it or not, introducing lessons in a variety of ways helps to prevent drudgery for the teacher and the student.

Be creative in seeking new ways for your child to be introduced to new material.  Use manipulatives, video presentation, audio recordings, maps, and library materials.

Plan to implement a variety of presentation activities by looking ahead at your lesson plans. How can you introduce a particular lesson in an interesting and interactive way?

Present a scenario in which the child must use his or her acquired knowledge to solve a problem. Let him or her puzzle over the problem and be delighted if they are able to come to a solution. Then utilize the lesson to show one way to solve the problem.

Don’t be limited into thinking that there is only one way to solve any particular problem. Appreciate the questioning process. This encourages academic learning.

Utilize role playing. Become the characters. I wonder what the conversation between children would have been as they traveled on the Mayflower to the New World. Let students muse over what they think the conversations would have been between historical characters.

Read an excerpt from a story. Then ask students what they think would happen next. You might ask them to “finish” the story. Let the creative juices flow.

Use an excerpt to present a dilemma. What is needed to implement a solution? How was this dilemma solved? Did it involve a war, a feud, a peace agreement? Was a new invention conceived? Did physicians employ a different method or procedure? Was the solution the proper one? How would history have changed if another solution had been sought?

The presentation of a series of history or science lessons may begin with a field trip. An introduction of the Civil War may be a visit to a nearby historical monument or battlefield. An introduction to mammals may consist of a visit to a nearby zoo or local farm.

An introduction to the study of a particular country may be the preparation of a meal that would be on the dinner table of a citizen of that country. It may also include dressing in that country’s fashion for the day.

An introduction to a particular time period in history may be the playing of a particular piece of music that was popular in those days. This would also be a good time to sneak in art as you show the artists of the era and their noted works.

Don’t stress yourself into thinking you have to introduce every lesson in a different way. But by planning different styles of lesson introductions and strategically scheduling those introductions in your planner you will be prompted and prepared with interesting presentations. That way you can be assured that the drudgery of the usual day to day lecture and subsequent worksheet type lessons will not overtake your school environment.

I hope your year is a joy to you and your students as you take steps now to prevent drudgery in the school days ahead.

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.  Proverbs 16:3

Bible Study Tools Aid Bible Study

There are several tools that we may use to help us study the Bible; however, they are no replacement for the Bible itself. One can study the Bible alone and with the aid of the Holy Spirit be successful in attaining knowledge and wisdom. Never underestimate the power of the Written Word.

Sometimes it helps to add some tools to help us get a job done faster. Those tools assist us as we work toward the goal of repair or correction or as we build on a new foundation or continue a construction project. Every mechanic needs a good screwdriver and every plumber needs a good pipe wrench.

One tool that will greatly assist the Bible student is a concordance. A good study Bible will contain one in the back of the book. It will list a variety of words in alphabetical order and give references where those words are found in Scripture. However, this type of concordance is limited due to space.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

I personally use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. There are many others but this is the one that I prefer. It lists every word in the Bible and gives every reference where a particular word may be found. This is very helpful when you are trying to find a particular verse but can only remember a part of it or can’t remember the reference. This particular concordance contains a Hebrew dictionary for the Old Testament and a Greek dictionary for the New Testament so that you can also find the meaning of any given word.

Another useful tool is a good Bible dictionary. Some are called Pictorial Bible Dictionaries. These give definitions of words, character studies, information on Bible places, archeological findings, etc. The pictorial ones obviously include many pictures of places and things. Use discernment with these as they are not a replacement for the Scriptures.

Other tools that may assist us are Bible atlases, Bible maps, Bible handbooks, and commentaries. A good map can help us understand where a story took place, learn about the terrain of an area, and the distance one had to travel between locations. Commentaries can give us another person’s insight on a particular scripture passage.

Just remember that these tools are available to assist us in our study not to become a replacement for our study of the Bible itself.  If there are any discrepancies, then we must not let these tools sway us from the truth of the Scriptures. Remember, God’s Word is truth and mankind is fallible.

May your knowledge of the Bible be increased and your skills in teaching others the Word be maximized as you put these tools in use in your daily Bible study time.

Be an Effective Teacher Without the Frustration

Sometimes we have a struggler who just doesn't seem to get the lesson we're trying to present no matter how many times we have presented it. Frustration may try to overtake us but we must not allow it to take us captive to its destructive vice.

Instead we must find another way to present the lesson that is geared toward our child's learning style and learning ability.

A greater time may need to be spent on teaching the concept. Let's face it. Do we always grasp how to do something the first time we see or hear the instructions? We must remember to teach effectively, not hurriedly. 

Use manipulatives whenever possible. Manipulatives are objects, drawings, charts, number lines, or other tools that a child may touch, handle, and manipulate. For example, instead of trying to describe how to do an addition equation, picture the process first.

Draw the addition problem on the page. 
9 + 8 = ? 
Draw a set of 9 triangles and a set of 8 triangles. 
Then circle both sets to show that you are going to group them together. Let the child give the answer.

Next use objects to show the equation process. 
Place 9 objects in one group. Place 8 objects in another group. Then pull the objects into one group. Let the child give the answer.

Then have the child use the objects to show the equation process using the same equation. If he or she does this correctly, then give the child another equation. 

7 + 5 = ?
Let the child use the objects to show the equation process. 7 objects should be placed in one group. 5 objects should be placed in another group. Allow the child to explain what he or she is doing so you can see if they are processing the problem correctly. Let the child give the answer to the equation. 

When you are satisfied that the process has been understood correctly, go back to paper and do several equations together if necessary. 

Stay focused on the goal of the lesson. Teach the lesson effectively without frustration. An effective teacher will seem to overteach at times but the goal of understanding will be achieved at a higher rate. And is understanding not what we're trying to achieve?

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. Isaiah 28:10

Jelly Bean Math

Let’s have a fun math class today with our young child. Be prepared by purchasing a bag of jelly beans.

Parent to child:

“Let’s take a bag of jelly beans and put them on the table.”

“Let’s sort them by color.” You might work with the child or let him or her do this particular task on their own.

Continue with the following instructions.

“Now let’s compare the groups (sets). Which group has the most jelly beans? Which group has less jelly beans?

Which group has more — the yellow group or the red group? Which group has less — the red group or the green group?”

Put all the jelly beans back together in one group on the table. Give the child 2 jelly beans.

“How many jelly beans do you have?” Give the child 1 more jelly bean. “How many jelly beans do you have now?”

Continue the conversation by giving jelly beans and having the child give you jelly beans. At times, ask the child which of you have more jelly beans or less jelly beans.

“Separate (divide) the jelly beans into 2 equal groups.” Let the child do this on his or her own. Take note of how the child does this. Some children may separate by putting 1 in each of 2 groups one at a time. Or the child may place several beans in one pile; then several in another pile. Or they may line them up side by side in a line. This observation will help you to see how the child is processing this instruction. If they get the right answer, do not attempt to correct them or show them another way at this time. They will learn various ways as they continue to work with manipulatives.

In the simple exercises above, children are recognizing, classifying, categorizing, arranging, separating, adding, dividing, sorting, identifying, more than, less than, associating, etc.

There are so many mathematical skills than can be caught with manipulatives that are as simple and inexpensive as a bag of jelly beans. So think outside the box. Every math concept or principle does not have to be taught with pencil and paper. Sometimes it helps to just have a little fun and learn at the same time.

Enjoy your jelly beans.

Number Recognition of One to Ten

As parents we feel elated when our children first learn to count to ten. We feel especially proud when they can duplicate the number formations.

Both of these achievements are important goals; however, one further goal is that of number recognition. To see if your child has grasped number recognition, the following tasks can be given.

First, though, collect the needed materials.

  • 2 pieces of construction paper or cardstock
  • marker
  • cereal bowl or cup
  • collection of small objects such as buttons, paper squares or circles, metal washers, etc.
  • numerical flash cards (1 to 9)

Using the marker, draw a tic-tac-toe design to divide one of the pieces of construction paper into nine sections. Randomly draw a set of different shapes in each section so that each section represents one of the numbers from 1 to 9. For example, one section may have three triangles. Another section may have five circles, another two squares, etc. We will call this our game board.

Divide and cut the second sheet of construction paper into nine smaller sections to use as cover sheets. Now you are ready for task number 1. During this task, do not help or correct your child in any way. You will be observing to see if he or she recognizes the numbers correctly. Note any particular numbers that are not readily recognized.

Task 1: Tell your child that you are going to play a game together. Place the game board on a table in front of your child. In random order, hold up one of the number flash cards. Have your child use one of the cover strips to cover the number amount pictured on the game board. (Remember, do not help the child. This is for assessment purposes only.)

Continue holding up the flash cards one by one until all nine have been covered. Make a note of any numbers that were not recognized properly.

Clear the table and prepare for task number 2 by placing the collection of objects in the bowl. Place the flash cards face up in random order on the table.

Task 2: Ask the child to place the correct number of objects on top of the corresponding numerical card. For example, seven objects should be placed on top of the seven card. Again, do not help the child in any way. You are observing any hesitations or errors and making a note of them.

An alternative to this task is to place one flash card at a time on the table; then have your child place the correct number of objects on that particular card.

Task 3: Shuffle the flash cards. Have your child place them in correct numerical order on the table. There should be no pictorial help for this task.

If all of these tasks have been completed without difficulty, your child has successfully accomplished number recognition of one to ten. If there were any difficulties, then continue to do a variety of activities with your child that will help with number and amount correspondence.



Struggling with Addition, Part II

Strugglers who find addition to be a chore may find it a fun adventure when given the opportunity to learn with manipulatives. The use of these hands-on objects leads to purposeful learning in a stress-free manner. Allowing children time to “play” with such objects increases their imagination, stimulates brain activity, develops motor skills, and lays a foundation for learning mathematical concepts.

Cubes, dice, building blocks, building logs, buttons, beads on a string, ice cream sticks, pinto beans, even army men — what do these have in common? Each of them are wonderful tools that can be manipulated in order to accomplish learning.

The use of such tools is an inexpensive way to build upon the knowledge that a child already possesses. During play with various objects, a child learns how to build up and take down, gather together and take away, group together and take from, and sort by his or her preference. At the beginning stages, however, a child does not know the official mathematical label that we would use for such manipulation, but through play the groundwork is being laid upon which we purposefully begin to teach the foundational concepts and principles that lead to the understanding of the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc.

The introduction of handmade or purchased rectangular rods that are proportionally sized lead to even greater learning. Several companies have manufactured rectangular rods that are a great addition to your arsenal of manipulatives. However, knowing the limitations of household budgets, poster board or card stock can be used to create a representation of these rods, howbeit, they are not three-dimensional.

Place value is traditionally taught in some schools through the use of an abacus. Some students struggle with the use of the abacus because not all students have their own to manipulate. It is easier for a child to understand the concept when they have their own manipulatives to handle and engage in learning.

An inexpensive way to teach children place value is through the use of dried beans and ice cream sticks. Single beans are used for counting by ones, sorting into groups of equal amounts, etc. Ten beans will fit nicely onto an ice cream stick.

Using proper glue, allow the child to make his or her own “ten” sticks so he or she will realize that there are ten and only ten beans on each stick. Ten of the “ten” sticks can be placed side by side to create “hundred” sticks — just glue 2 sticks across the back to hold them together. A variety of mathematical concepts can be taught using these sticks.

So how can we use manipulatives to teach addition? By now, you probably have a variety of ways rambling through your mind, but we will give some direction in a later post. For now, begin to let your mind wander back to your childhood days when you played with blocks and logs. Yes, learning can be fun — at least some of the time.

Struggling with Addition

What can parents do when their child is struggling with addition?

One of a child’s greatest needs is to memorize the addition facts. This task comes easy for many; but some struggle and fall behind in their math studies because of this one single necessity.

What can parents do when they find their child struggling in this area?

Immediate intervention is needed. More complicated math utilizing the process of addition should be delayed until this situation is remedied.

Figure out why the child is struggling.

First, process why he or she may be struggling. Were foundational steps skipped or overlooked? Does the child understand what the individual numbers represent? For instance, does the child understand that the picture 8 represents a collection of 8 objects or 8 sets of objects?

When teaching numbers, sometimes this knowledge is easily overlooked. A child may be trying to memorize images of number figures without any understanding of what those images represent. For example, the picture 8 plus the picture 8 equals the picture 16 instead of 8 objects added to 8 more objects equals 16 objects total. Some children need more time to process this information.

Utilize manipulatives to teach concepts.

The use of manipulatives will aid understanding.

Yes, I know some teachers frown on the use of objects to help a student learn their facts. They insist on memorization. Yet, when students are struggling with a particular math problem, such teachers model the addition by the use of their fingers. This is a bad practice and greatly hinders the child. Children following this teaching model quickly learn to rely on fingers.

The use of manipulatives diverts the child away from the use of fingers. Each object is representative of 1 and when added together those 1’s become a collection of more than 1.

No matter the learning style of the individual, this hands-on approach to addition greatly increases the struggling child’s ability to understand and memorize the facts.

Just what are manipulatives and what are some ways that they can be used to teach math? We’ll discuss this in a later post. Right now, since you have read this far, you may have a struggler about which you are concerned. Hopefully, the next post will be of benefit to you.

©2016 by Peggy Clark

Adding Geography to Your Bible Lessons, Part II

Introducing the geography of a particular Biblical event gives added understanding and enlightenment to the concepts being taught. Students are able to envision the scene in their minds and are able to engage in the action of the story.

What picture do you envision after reading the following statement? The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians was written by the apostle Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome.

Compare that picture to what you envision after the following added elements.

Rome was the major city in the Roman Empire. The city remains to this day in the modern nation of Italy.

But what if we add more information. Let’s see if we can get the students involved in the learning process.

How many miles is the present-day city of Rome from the present-day city of Jerusalem? What route did the soldiers take as they brought Paul from Jerusalem to Rome? How did they travel? Would this have been an easy trip? What was the terrain like in and around the city?

Where was the prison located in the city? How would Paul’s prison have differed from a modern-day prison? Where would he have gotten his food and other necessities?

What route would Paul’s letter travel when being sent from Rome to Colosse? What modern-day city is near where Colosse once stood? How far did the Roman Empire extend beyond Colosse?

In what modern-day country would one find the remains of the city of Colosse? What type of roads would you travel in order to get there? In which direction would you travel in order to go from Colosse to Laodicea or to Hierapolis?

These “where” questions can be inserted alongside the other 4 W’s: who, what, when, and why.

Teaching all of the 5 W’s will make your Bible lessons come alive for your students.