• God,  how do we know what we know is true

    Thoughts on Religion

    A few days ago someone posed the question to me that even if I write about the Bible from a secular point of view, I’m still spiritual, right? Do I still believe in some connection with God? I grew up in the United Church of Canada, and I even started university to become a minister. However, at this point in my life, I’d have to say no, I don’t believe in God. As I think about it, I picture people talking about God. And in the past, we’d have conversation where anytime I might explain why I didn’t believe in God they would explain that they don’t believe in that…

  • homeschooling

    Online Classes – alternatives to Outschool

    Live online classes can be plenty of fun. One of the most popular places for them these days is Outschool, which is sort of the Uber of online classes. Outschool has hundreds of teachers who are private contractors, writing and listing their own classes. There is a convenience to having so many online classes all in one place, but there’s also a problem. As Outschool grows they get to set the rules and teachers become replaceable. So it might be worthwhile to check out these smaller locations. Places with Multiple Teachers: Gifted Conference Planners – specializing in classes for gifted learners with different teachers teaching science, creative writing, math, literature,…

  • homeschooling

    Riddle Writing Instructions

    Writing riddles provides a chance to practice several different things at once. The riddle writer has to think about the qualities of an object and how they can describe that object in vague terms. With each clue, the writer has to imagine how others might understand the clue. Writing clues which could be understood in multiple ways helps prevent the clue from being to easy. Sometimes it helps to start by picking a theme for riddle-writing. Riddles can be used to review science terms or to encourage one to think about a historic setting. A reluctant writer might enjoy writing riddles about things from his or her favourite movie or…

  • homeschooling,  poetry

    Train Poems

    If you’ve ever read a Thomas the Train Engine story, you might have noticed that the trains tend to speak in a particular rhythm. “I’m going to burst! I’m going to burst!” cries Thomas when his boiler is plugged with fish. “I hope it’s all right, I hope it’s all right,” Annie and Clarabelle (the train cars) whisper to each other. There’s a rhythm to the train cars speech that resemble the sounds of the train wheels jostling over the tracks. The stories are of course in prose but well written prose often contain elements of poetry. Thomas the Train Engine’s original author, Revered Wilbert Awdry, isn’t the only writer…

  • Picture shows a small Minecraft village.
    homeschooling,  minecraft,  politics

    Political Studies through Minecraft

    I have reopened my Minecraft server in light of the Covid-19 restrictions and the need to have extra online social activities for children. I host events a couple of times a week on Minecraft and Zoom, and the children play on the server whenever they want in between those events. One question came up recently that introduced some very fun questions about political studies. Some children asked if they could have special areas on the server where they set the rules. A child demonstrated what he meant with a list of rules and the punishments he wanted to enforce. Was this allowed, he asked? So I’ve been thinking about that…

  • Picture shows a child's hand holding a styrofoam skull. Text is "Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare: Alas, Poor Yorick, I knew him."
    homeschooling

    Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare through Play

    I love Shakespeare. As a teenager, my best friends and I would hang around in the attic of my house practicing acting out Mid Summer’s Night Dream.  We didn’t understand all the jokes at first, but annotated books helped us learn them and we became familiar with the rhythm and language of his works. I still hear my best friend’s voices when I read certain lines of the play. Later, as a parent, I was excitedly to introduce my children to his work. I started when they were very young, still at an age where they were playing with wooden blocks. We took to reciting a passage from Macbeth over…

  • Biblical history

    Reading the Deuteronomic Histories

    I’ve been reading the Deuteronomic history very closely, reflecting on the stories from my rather atheist, somewhat heathen point of view. The Deuteronomic history is made up of the Biblical books of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. Those books may have been compiled and edited together sometime around the time of King Josiah or sometime later and share a theological viewpoint that resembles that of the book of Deuteronomy. They tell of kings that rise and fall, making frequent complaints about those not deemed to worship one god properly. They are at times rambling and sometimes confusing, but they show an amazing literary skill.…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    American Political Studies Resources for Highschool Student

    I am a Canadian homeschooling my children, but we can’t help hearing about American politics. So, my husband and I are insisting that our children learn to understand the American political system as well as the Canadian system. Here is what we are using: The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is Paralyzing Democracy by Daniel Lazare. My husband recommended this one for understanding the limits of the American system. Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville. De Tocqueville was a Frenchman writing about America in 1831. He was incredibly optimistic about the United States and its potential. The West Wing, a tv series by Aaron Sorkin. This television show is…

  • parenting,  politics

    Jinx! and Political Studies Goofiness

    The following conversation is being shared with the permission of my children. My teenager jinxed the eleven-year-old. This rules of jinxing is that two people attempted to say the same thing at the same time, and the one doing the jinxing calls out that the other is jinxed. This means the jinxed person is not to speak until the other person says his name. The nine year old is advocating the eleven-year-old just ignores the jinx and speak anyway. “I do it all the time. What are you going to do? Punish me? Mom’s right there.” The teenager: “You can’t ignore the jinx. Society will fall apart if you ignore…

  • activism

    Moving Mountains

    This post was originally written on 22 May 2011 but was updated on April 13, 2020 with updated info about a few of the causes. The kids and I were reading Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss today. Every couple of pages, M would ask “what could this represent?” and we would talk about the different parts of life. At the end it comes to “Kid, you’ll move mountains…” and we started talking about what kind of mountains people are moving. I think about Shannen, the teenager who worked to try to get more funding for education on native reserves in Canada. She died in a car accident…