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An Educational Tradition Every Family Should Adopt

This is a guest blog post by Leah Courtney of As We Walk Along the Road.

Throughout my years of teaching in traditional school and my years of homeschooling my own children, I’ve found reading aloud can benefit your children in many academic ways. This educational tradition helps your family with reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, and grammar. It’s a bonding activity worth making time for.

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Academic Benefits:

  • Increased comprehension- Hearing books read above their reading level helps children increase comprehension. If you take time to discuss the book, define difficult words or talk about situations in the book, the child is going to have better comprehension for next time or during independent reading.
  • Appreciation for good books- When you skip twaddle books (as Charlotte Mason calls them) and choose quality books to read to your children from the time they are small, they develop an appreciation for that kind of literature. When it’s time for your kids to choose the books they read, they will be more likely to choose the good ones.
  • A better knowledge of good grammar- When a child “picks up” good grammar from always listening to good writing, he or she is more likely to use that grammar in his speech and writing.
  • Good writing skills- Modeling good writing by having a child listen to the flow, the word usage, the structure of a well-written story helps the child to understand what good writing sounds like.
  • Expanded vocabulary- Children pick up unfamiliar words while you’re reading out loud. Sometimes it may be worth interrupting the story to define a word. But even if you can’t stop and give a definition right then, the child will pick up words in context as he listens to a good story.

Besides the great academic benefits of reading aloud, there are many great relational benefits as you read aloud as a family.

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Relational Benefits:

  • Time as a family- Often family members are in their own world of electronic devices or other activities, but when you all sit down together and listen to a good story, the whole family is enjoying time together.
  • Great discussions- Like some of the academic lessons to be learned from reading aloud, moral, spiritual, and emotional lessons can be learned also. We’ve often had some great discussions come up when we were discussing situations in the story.
  • Sibling bonding- I don’t have to be the one to read aloud in my family. Sometimes an older child will read to younger ones. When this happens, siblings are having fun together, doing an activity that is going to bring them closer and give them a stronger relationship.
  • Family traditions- In so many ways, reading aloud has become tradition in our family. When you read at specific times of the day, read certain books aloud at specific times, have a designated place to read aloud, you are creating family traditions. My kids know we read aloud as a family. It’s just something we do. It’s a characteristic of our family. And kids love the fun and the security of those traditions, those special things that define your family because you always do them.

Reading aloud has so many benefits. It’s worth making time for. Not only does reading aloud benefit children academically, but it brings family closer together and creates moments that last forever.

What are great read aloud books you’ve found?

This is a guest blog post by Leah Courtney of As We Walk Along the Road, see her original post here.

 

About Courtney- I’m a homeschooling mom who loves Jesus and loves my family. I spend my days teaching kids, shuffling them to activities, feeding my family, and keeping a home. I love sharing what we’re learning and doing. And I hope to always be an encouragement.

 

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Using Minecraft for Homeschool History Lessons

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When I combine my 12-year-old’s dyslexia, dysgraphy, and ADHD with homeschool history lessons, several issues arise. Lapbooks require too much attention to detail and frustrate her. Writing research papers are, as of yet, out of the question. Workbooks get boring. She likes movies, but only retains so much.

I’ve built Mille a homeschool curriculum from a variety of resources, including the excellent BBC History website, a Roman studies workbook, and library books. But I wanted something to bring it together, something to make it real for her.

When we added Minecraft to the mix, my homeschool kid had a brilliant history lesson idea of her own. Let me explain. Last year, Mille created a “Digestive Tract Theme Park” in Minecraft for her co-op anatomy class. So I was not surprised when she suggested building a digital model of a Roman city using Minecraft for her history project. Architecture is one of the outstanding features of Ancient Rome (and modern Rome, for that matter) so I was on board straight away.

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Mille searched the internet to find pictures of the Coliseum on which to base her own version (many large Roman cities had their own amphitheaters). Using her modding skills (from a course I purchased on Educents), Mille is creating a texture pack that will make her city more realistic. She’s planned modest homes and villas, stores and temples, and is considering a Vesusvius-like volcano.

Mille's Minecraft coliseum from above, nighttime view.

Mille’s Minecraft coliseum from above, nighttime view.

Path to the Gladiator's cells

Path to the Gladiator’s cells

The Emperor's box seat

The Emperor’s box seat

Years from now, Mille may not remember the dates of Tiberius’s reign or the major exports of Londinium, but I’m willing to bet she will remember what a Roman city looked like and how it was built. Minecraft has allowed us to work around her learning differences and give her a fully immersive experience into a culture long since past.

 

About Kathy – I am a Christian homeschooling mom from Northern NY. I suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2011 which left me physically disabled. This blessing allowed me to homeschool my two children, ages 14 and 11, which we had always wanted to do.  I blog about Christianity, homeschooling, children, marriage, and living as a disabled person. You can email me at kathylapan77 at gmail dot com. <3 I hope you enjoy and God bless!

Want to add Minecraft to your homeschool lessons? Educents offers deep discounts on Minecraft-themed booksdownloadable unitsonline classes, and FREE Minecraft-themed chore charts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Problem Solving Strategies–Act it out

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We all know there are different problem solving strategies kids need to learn in order to really understand word problems.  One of the most popular strategies is “acting it out.”  Many times, the story problems don’t MEAN anything to them.  Maybe they can’t relate to the story problem or maybe they can’t read it very well.  (Of course, they could also just be tuned out, but that is a whole different topic!).  By using manipulatives and actually acting out the problem, kids begin to understand WHY they are adding or subtracting a set of numbers.

You can introduce this lesson to your whole class by having the kids act out a problem (For example, Ask “Mrs. Smith has 12 boys in her class and 14 girls in her class.  How many students are in her class?” and have kids come up and act out how many students are in the class).  Since it is spring, why not bring in some plastic eggs to practice?  Hand an egg to each student and ask different questions (How many blue ones do we have?  How many blue and pink ones do we have?  How many MORE yellow eggs are there than purple eggs?).  Then, let small groups or partners work on some problems together.  

In my Hop-to-it Scoot set, kids get the chance to put these problem solving skills to work.  Students will practice addition and subtraction skills while solving these spring-themed problems.  
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 You can grab the free sampler or snag the whole product for only $2.  Then, gather up supplies students can use to solve the problems (think:  plastic eggs, jellybeans, flower seeds, bunny erasers, etc.).  By simply allowing them to act out the problem, students are more likely to understand the math behind it, and they will have fun so everyone can be happy!  Go ahead….Hop-to-it!  And, have some fun!  :)

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Until next time,

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Homeschool Curriculum Review: Space Units

Homeschooler and mother of two, Kris, adapts the Space Unit by Teach with Fergy for her 11 and 12-year-old children using the Charlotte Mason Homeschooling style. Kris shares why this unit works great for homeschool science lessons.

Space Unit: The Study of the Universe from Teach with Fergy! A great information space study with power points, student activities and notes, videos and informational links. Hurry and grab yours from Educents for 24.00!This month, my preschooler’s learning theme is space, so adding a space unit for my older children seemed like a very good idea. With this Space Unit: Study of the Universe from Teach with Fergy, my older children learned a ton about our universe.

Space Unit: The Study of the Universe includes:

Space Unit: The Study of the Universe from Teach with Fergy! A great information space study with power points, student activities and notes, videos and informational links. Hurry and grab yours from Educents for 24.00!

Lesson 1 – Space – An Introduction
Lesson 2 – Our Solar System
Lesson 3 – The Life and Death of Stars
Lesson 4 – The Seasons and Earth’s Tilt
Lesson 5 – The Moon
Lesson 6 – Eclipse – Solar and Lunar
Lesson 7 – Galaxies, Other Objects and the Universe
Lesson 8 – The Immensity of the Universe
Lesson 9 – Life in outer space – how humans meet their needs

When we received the lessons and power points, I decided to print off all the materials needed for the eight lessons that are included. Most of the time, with eight lessons, I worry about how many pages we have to print, however, with these lessons there is a minimal amount of pages to print. As a homeschooling mom, that was a plus in my book. For example, in Lesson one, there are two sets of power points for Einstein to look at with only two pages of student notes for space.

Power Points- The quality of the power points is excellent with great resolution.

Assignments: We are a homeschooling family so I had to adapt the assignments to fit our Charlotte Mason Homeschooling style. I used the assignments as a guideline for my kids to follow. So far, we have completed the space newsletter assignment where Einstein and Curie had to submit an article to their pretend Editor, in this case me, about the sun, the moon, and the planets. I also adapted the lessons to have Pluto as a planet. I know there is a lot of different feelings on this. However, I know it is a dwarf planet. Therefore, it is a planet so I teach it as a planet (nine planets in total).

This space unit also gives you grading tools that we did not use as a homeschooling family. I will not be grading my kids space newsletters, however, if you are a teacher in a regular classroom this would be helpful to you and your students.

My children really enjoyed the video with Bill Nye: Outer Space!

My overall home-educating mom thoughts:

We are moving slow through the lessons because this is an extra activity for my two older kids Einstein (12) and Curie (11). This space unit is packed with information that gets better with each lesson. My children enjoyed the videos and links. I do like how this space unit has done all the preparation for me as a homeschooling mother. The student notes are very detailed so my children really have to pay attention to each lesson. Although we have not completed every lesson, I will continue to move forward with this space unit.

I do want homeschooling moms to know that I did adapt some items in this unit to fit us as homeschoolers. I can’t wait for the scale model solar system, however, I will be changing some things to just have fun and my children will not be graded. Space Unit: The Study of the Universe is a great homeschooling tool if you are willing to adapt to fit your homeschool.

We have not completed this unit yet because there are four weeks of space information. I think it will take more like 8 weeks for our family to complete because I want to stretch this out for Einstein and Curie.

You can purchase Space Unit: The Study of the Universe from Teach with Fergy for 24.00 for the downloadable files through Educents. Please make sure you can download and bring up Power Point on your computer before you purchase.

Visit Kris’s website, Book Wishes, to read more from her and her family.

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Incorporating Minecraft into Your Homeschool Curriculum

This is a guest blog post by Kathy LaPan of Simply Homeschool Living, see her original post here.

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Parents everywhere are looking for ways to incorporate their child’s love of Minecraft into educational pursuits. (It’s one of the things that rocks most about homeschooling!)

My daughter is obsessed with Minecraft. I don’t mean she likes it a little… I mean she plays it every chance she gets on every platform available. It is all she talks about. She even spends hours on end watching videos of other people playing it on YouTube!

Incorporating Minecraft into our homeschool is great in many ways. It encourages my daughter to work hard because she’s enjoying what she’s doing. It stops arguments over “this is booorrrinnnggg.” It incorporates technology into our work. And it makes her happy.

Here are some ideas on using Minecraft in your homeschool:

Social Studies/History/Geography

  • Recreate a location on Earth, ie, a physical feature or a biome
  • Create a building, such as the Arch de Triumph or the Taj Mahal
  • Emulate the impact of natural disasters on societies
Science
  • Biomes and natural disasters apply here, too!
  • Use mods to change the ecology and/or environment and see the impact on lifeforms
  • Test global warming theories
  • Create a Digestion Themepark or other anatomy-themed project (Curly did this for her co-op Knowledge Fair project!)
Math

  • Crafting teaches multiplication and addition (i.e. I need this many ore to make iron, and I need this many iron to make a sword, so how many ore do I need altogether?)
  • Geometric shapes can be built from the basic cube to show both geometry and exponential growth
  • Volume and area can be visualized with cubical buildings
  • The three dimensional coordinate system can help a child visualize higher level geometry
STEM
  • Wikis and video tutorials abound to teach children how to write their own mod packs, which are basic coding skills
  • Red stone utilization can teach children about circuity and simple machines
Writing
  • Older kids can write blogs or contribute to Wikis giving tips or instructions on the game
  • In monitored chats, kids can learn social skills, spelling, and writing through communication with other players (though I do not recommend this with unmonitored chats)

 About Kathy – I am a Christian homeschooling mom from Northern NY. I suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2011 which left me physically disabled. This blessing allowed me to homeschool my two children, ages 14 and 11, which we had always wanted to do.  I blog about Christianity, homeschooling, children, marriage, and living as a disabled person. You can email me at kathylapan77 at gmail dot com. <3 I hope you enjoy and God bless!

Want to add Minecraft to your homeschool lessons? Educents offers deep discount on Minecraft-themed books, downloadable units, online classes, and FREE Minecraft-themed chore charts.

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How to Homeschool Multiple Children

This is a guest blog post by Carrie Willard, see her original post here.

One of the questions people ask when they come across homeschooling parents is how they manage to teach their kids when they have more than one. Since so many homeschooling families seem to have larger families, it can certainly be done and it’s not as difficult as some might think. Here are some tips to help juggle your multiple children’s needs while teaching your kids at home.

Homeschooling Toddlers: Babies and Pre-K

Homeschooling the older kids when you have babies and toddlers in the house is probably the most challenging time. With a baby or tot small enough to be held a lot, you can use a sling to keep your youngest close and happy and meet his needs while you read to or work with older children.

Use feeding times for study periods and read aloud time.

Since you’ll likely be sitting down to feed your baby anyway, have your other child(ren) read to you or sit them on your other side and read aloud to them. Your baby will benefit too from hearing words read aloud.

Create and enforce quiet time/nap time.

Naptime is an ideal time for more focused attention on the schoolwork, but what if nobody is still napping? Create and enforce quiet time. This is a good time for you to regroup and rest or catch up a struggling reader or child who needs some extra attention with school.

Keep little ones busy.

Toddlers and preschoolers can “do school” in the same area when older children are doing seatwork. Keep them stocked with appropriate arts and crafts activities to do. Likely they’ll pick up on much of the discussion going on during school time.

If this doesn’t work well for your kids and you need to separate them, try moving around the house a little.

If you have older children, let them take turns taking care of the baby/toddler in the house for short periods. This allows you to spend some one on one time with each child during the day.

Homeschooling Multiple Children: Older Kids

If your children are older (and certainly once they’re all reading well!), things are a little easier. They no longer need much supervision. Most older homeschooled kids are pretty accustomed to figuring things out on their own and coming to you when they get stuck. And for trips to the library!

With older kids, you can definitely use their size and maturity to help you get things done around the house, increasing the time you have available for homeschooling projects and field trips.

Get your kids involved in meal preparation and chores.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Learning how to clean up, complete simple handy projects around the house, do laundry and cook is very important real life preparation. In the old days, they called this stuff home economics!

If you have a child who is old enough, teach them how to prepare simple meals on their own without your assistance. A child as young as 7 can be taught how to make toast, eggs, oatmeal, sandwiches, cut vegetables and fruits, etc. After my youngest was born, my oldest son was a huge help to me because he could make snacks and easy meals for me. He was only 7 but he could do a lot around the kitchen. Now at ten, he loves to bake snacks and desserts, bake bread from scratch (no bread machine, he kneads the dough by hand), and help with dinner.

Meal prep isn’t just about eating and helping mom, but also reinforces reading, math and science skills.

A child as young as 3 can take their folded laundry to be put away in their dresser. Older kids can bring you dirty laundry, help fold and put things away when they’re done. Children can operate a vacuum properly from the time they’re around 6. A five-year-old child can sweep small messes (like crumbs under the table) with a hand held broom and dustpan.

The reason I mention this is because as a homeschooling family, your house will likely get messier simply due to the fact that the kids are in it more hours of the day!

Forego summer and other lengthy vacations and do school year round.

Teaching through the summer can make up for lost time during the year due to having a baby, illness, or other family challenges that come up. Some parents even do a little schoolwork on the weekends. Why should learning be limited to five days a week?

One of the best things about homeschooling is the fact that learning can take place anytime, anywhere. Sometimes I even have to urge my kids to stop reading or building or creating and Go.To.Bed. My oldest can often be found reading his Science book at 10 p.m. (past his bedtime!).

Use your support network.

Can your husband, grandparents, or babysitters help the kids with schoolwork in the evenings and on weekends? Does your local homeschool support group offer a co-op? You don’t have to go it alone. Your children will benefit from different people’s perspective.

Avoid the “school at home” mentality.

Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling doesn’t involve sitting across the table from your child for several hours a day doing schoolwork. Most homeschoolers do not follow this model and the ones that do, burn out really quickly and either quit entirely or change their methods. Usually everyone is much happier!

Use homeschool curriculum that isn’t instructor intensive.

This means that you won’t have to spend a lot of time in prep work each day/week. The kids will be able to dig right in to their work, saving time. If the homeschool curriculum you’ve chosen requires you to spend a lot of time preparing lesson plans, it might not work for your family situation. That’s ok. Choose another!

On the other hand, unit studies, which do require more advance planning on the part of the parent, can allow children of different ages to learn together since everyone can do activities on their skill level. Try it out and see what works best for your situation. You don’t have to find the “perfect” solution right away.

Encourage working together.

Older kids can help younger kids with their schoolwork when you can’t be available. This reinforces the older child’s skills – the best way to learn something is to teach it! It can also increase goodwill among children.

Encourage independence.

Allow older kids leeway in their school schedule. You may even want to let them choose their own curriculum or how they learn various subjects.

And finally, don’t set yourself up for failure with a rigid schedule. Adding pregnancy, a new baby, toddlers, and preschoolers to the mix can be challenging for any parent, and if you’re homeschooling, you especially need to be realistic about what you can accomplish. You might want to adopt an eclectic homeschooling style or even unschooling for a period (or permanently).

If you ever doubt that your children are getting a good education because of homeschooling during their various ages and stages, think about what school was like for many people in this country a hundred years ago. Schoolkids of all ages were put in one room together with one teacher and this system produced a generation of Americans that were far more literate than modern generations!

Create a flexible, visual schedule

When it comes to organizing your homeschool day, creating a visual schedule may work best for you. If you can SEE everything at a glance, you can see where there may be “bottlenecks” in your day and shuffle things around for a better fit. Also, if the kids can SEE the schedule prominently, they’re more likely to stay on task.

Finally here is a book recommendation. Homeschooling More Than One Child: A Practical Guide for Families is a wonderful book that has hundreds of tips and bits of advice for families. The author is a homeschooling mom of 4 who also founded a homeschool support group in her state.

About Carrie Willard

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of many, autodidact, best-selling Amazon author, blogger, head chef and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book while sipping a hot beverage.

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How Teachers Use FarFaria Reading App in the Classroom

My students LOVE FarFaria! -Amy of Teaching in Blue Jeans

My students LOVE FarFaria! -Amy of Teaching in Blue Jeans

We are constantly looking for new educational apps that make learning fun. We instantly fell in love with FarFaria, a reading app that offers a vast library of eBooks for kids to read and listen.
When teachers started using FarFaria in the classroom, it was a big hit! Learn how teachers use FarFaria in the classroom to engage their students in reading by reading a few reviews below. Or, check out FarFaria on Educents.

 

“What is FarFaria you ask?  Well, let me just tell you it is the most ‘Far Out’ app I’ve used in my classroom!
What - a group of boys sitting this close together and not playing or being silly?  Not during FarFaria time!

What – a group of boys sitting this close together and not playing or being silly? Not during FarFaria time!

 

“The first day, my kids read silently, totally engaged for 1 hour!  Yes – you read that right an entire hour. I could not bring myself to make them stop.  So instead I used that time to pull kids individually and do some end of the quarter assessments.” -Amy, Teaching in Blue Jeans

 
“The best thing about this app is that it allows the child to read it independently or there is a feature that will read it to them. … When you pick your book this is when you have the option to read it alone or have it read to you. … This is such an amazing way to help students gain a love for reading.” -Heather, Second Grade Perks
 
 
“I have 2 iPads in my classroom and each day my students use them during reading and math rotations.  One of the favorite iPad activities is “Listen to Reading” and FarFaria is an easy fit for this activity.” -Teacher Gone Digital
“I have two kids at home, a 4 and 8 year old.  Both fell in love with this app!  Both my kids love reading, but tie it in with the iPad and they think they are playing games. … The books are so engaging and there is something for everyone!  My little mini-me loved the sharks.  We both have a minor obsession with all things SHARK!” -Laura, Differentiation Station

 

More reviews of FarFaria by teacher bloggers:
Want to use FarFaria in your classroom or at home? Get unlimited access to more than 900 eBooks for half the price on Educents.
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The Pi Day of the Century!

March 14 has been celebrated as Pi Day for years (pi is 3.14, or March 14th).  But, this year, the day is even more accurate than ever!  The first few digits of pi are 3.1415, or 3-14-15!  Help your kids celebrate this EPIC Pi Day with some of our deals!

Pi and the Lost function game

 

Computer adventures await on The Lost Function.  Kids will love the math “quest” and you will love that they are learning about Pi and other algebraic thinking.

Pi Day Hands on

Check out this Pi Pack!  It includes Pi history, vocabulary terms to know, and practice problems.  We enjoyed finding circles around the house to trace and measure.  Guess what!?  When you divide, you really DO get pi!  This pack is perfect for kids who might be too young to really understand pi, but who want to know what it is all about.

Want to find more Pi ideas?  Check out my Top Ten Ways to Celebrate Pi Day.

Check out these ideas and activities to celebrate Pi Day in your classroom!

 

How do YOU celebrate Pi day?

 

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Member Spotlight: Meet Christal

Here at Educents, our members are like our family. We love learning about you, your little learners, and what educational resources are a best fit for your lessons.

Facebook-20150302-055457Christal, homemaker

Favorite color? My favorite color is purple.

What is a good piece of advice you try to follow? I try to live my life according to the Bible so if I had to pick one piece of advice that I try to follow it would be “Let go and let God.”

What is your favorite game to play with your family?  I recently bought my 4 year old a Paw Patrol board game for his birthday. He LOVES that game so we play that mostly. Before we got the game we loved to paint and do crafts as a family, usually with the 4 year old swapping projects with us cause he likes the way ours looks better than his. He’s not spoiled at all LOL.

Name one goal you want to achieve this year. One goal I want to achieve this year is to be more consistent with family Bible time every night. I let life get in the way too often.

Would you recommend Educents to friends, co-workers or family? I highly recommend Educents to any and every parent or teacher out there. Their products are top notch and you will have no problem finding what you need. Actually, you may have a problem staying within your budget because there’s so many things you’re gonna have to have.

Thanks for sharing, Christal! Hey readers, what’s a game you and your little learners like to play? We’d love to know!

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Creation Illustrated Review – Enriched Education Through Interactive Articles

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If you love nature, storytelling, cooking and MORE, then you are going to enjoy the Creation Illustrated Magazines that show Mother Nature at her finest. These beautifully crafted and action-packed magazines provide a perfect balance of an enriched education by challenging you mentally, spiritually and physically. The stories told and lessons learned are great for religious-based homeschooling or Sunday school. The magazines come in clusters of four, parallel with the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall), and each article is coordinated to that season. Beyond nature’s beauty, stories of biblical creations, sciences, plants and animals are featured in-depth.

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One article is called “Life Sustaining Soil” where you learn what makes dirt ready for planting a garden. Can anyone guess what makes dirt ready for planting!? You got it – WORMS! The story continues by providing the facts on why and how worms help us grow a garden. How fun is it to learn something new and then do it yourself at home! But that’s not all! In every magazine you can look forward to the “Genesis Cuisine Recipe” that features one vegetable in every magazine (squash, yams, peas, etc.,) and provides a variety of different recipes such as; squash risotto, yam bundt cake and spring pea hummus! The Creation Illustrated Magazines include articles that are great tools for expanding mental development while preparing for physical work. Learn how to garden and cook delicious meals through stories and then DO IT at home!

CI3Some other articles that are enjoyable include The Disobedient Fawn, Subduing the Earth (weeding with a tarp is genius!); He’s the King (why Jesus is likened to be a lion), and The Busy Woodpecker.

Keep in mind the magazines are not just limited to stories, they also feature “Creation Stewardship” with plenty of information regarding food and water conservation, a Photography Contest for youth to get out of the house to explore nature, and an ending poem to wrap it up!

If you’re interested in learning more and seeing a magazine up close, you can click here for a FREE magazine!