Graduation Memory Books

Spring Special – ePub3 Graduation Memory Books starting at $35

With Spring fast approaching, now is a good time to start planning for graduation.

New Leaf Design’s Memory Books make a great graduation gift not only for the grad but for the whole family.

Graduation CapInstead of sending out a graduation card, send out a graduation ePub3 Memory Book with:

  • photos
  • stories
  • school highlights
  • encouraging
    • words
    • quotes
    • Bible Verses

ePub3 Memory Books are like having a scrap book you can share with all your family and friends, but instead of copying and printing, you send the digital book.

Once the Memory Book is published, all rights belong to you so you can share it with as many family members and friends as you like. Not only will your child have a cherished memory book, but so will his/her friends and family.

Email for more details.


From the GRACE Archives – Focus

Seek First the Kingdom of God

This month my idea for writing has been focus but I’m having a very hard time getting my focus, getting a clear picture, as to what to write about.  I’ve been perusing scriptures and contemplating ideas but there just seems to be too many directions I can go.  Honing into one and taking off with it or sticking to it is becoming very difficult.

I wonder if this is not somewhat like our Christian faith.  There is so much good we can focus on and so many side roads we can travel.  Sometimes these can be great and can help us to grow in depth and breadth of our knowledge of God, but sometimes we can get side tracked and forget what is really important.

Have you ever noticed when you read or hear something about a topic like parenting or marriage, your focus starts out good (i.e. how can I be a better…?) but soon seems to shift?  We pick up a book ’10 easy steps to becoming a great mate” and start reading with all good intention but soon we start seeing things and think ‘well my mate doesn’t do that….  You mean her spouse actually does…”  Our focus seems to change, we start reading a “how to…” and end up reading a “why doesn’t…”

You can see examples of this in scripture, like when Paul asks the Galatians: “Are you so foolish?  Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”  Where did they go wrong?  I think it was in their focus.  Their focus became, as ours often does, how can “I” be a ‘better’ Christian.  We add in how can “I” be a ‘better’ church goer, wife, mother, etc.  As we start focusing on ourselves our vision becomes skewed.  We start with good intentions but, because our focus is internal, our actions tend to be motivated by our gain.  Instead of seeing as God would have us see, our vision is clouded by our I’s.  We start seeing where we have been wronged, used, abused or where we are better, more proficient, more able.  We become bitter, resentful, prideful, discontent.

When this happens we need to stop and redirect our focus back to God.  When we glimpse God, see His glory, all else pales.  When we seek God first; life falls into place.  When our focus is on the love God has shown us, we are able to love; when our focus is on the mercy we have received, we are able to forgive, when our focus is on the hope to come, we can offer hope; when our focus is on God, all earthly cares diminish.  So I would like to encourage each of to start off our school year, focusing on what is important; seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matt. 6:33

By Tami Munden

On a somewhat related note… this is  a good blog:


With the new school year starting, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that God is in control and we are not. It’s so easy to set up our plans and watch them fall apart. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve planned out our days activities to only have them fall by the wayside as some emergency, family crisis, illness, or phone call changes the direction my day was going to go. It’s easy to get frustrated and agitated when things get in the way of what has been planned. Once the frustration and agitation set in, it then becomes hard to focus on the crisis, much less the day’s plans.

As a person who likes to be in control, it’s very hard for me to hand over my plans to God and trust that He knows best. I want uninterrupted math time, writing to progress at my pace, not my student’s; I want things to flow smoothly, according to my plan.

Over the years, I have come to realize that I need to be flexible in my plans, not only for my sanity, but also for my students to be able to flourish in their learning.

When I set my plans in stone and my child gets excited about what we are studying and goes off on a rabbit trail, I can crush his curiosity and continue on with ‘my plan’ or I can realize that homeschooling is about these moments. Moments when you drop your to-do list and go with the flow. Moments when mom has to be out of the picture for a bit, so the student has to learn on his or her own. Moments when curiosity demands dropping the day’s plans in favor of inspiring a love of learning, questioning and exploring. Moments when the day’s plans fall by the wayside, as a beautiful day beckons us to move outside to explore God’s creation. Moments when we realize, ‘wow not much learning is going on here – I need to regroup and approach this from a different angle.’ In other words, homeschooling demands flexibility. It flourishes when interruptions are looked upon as a part of life and not the end of the learning process.

The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.I’m not saying we don’t plan, but that we allow our plans to be our guidelines, not our all in all. Proverbs 16:9 says The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. We are to plan our way, but we need to remember Who is directing our steps.

On a side note, I’d like to recommend a book – Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood. I can’t say I’ve read it yet – my children are grown now, but I have read blogs by the author, Kimm Crandal, and follow her on twitter. She has a heart for the Gospel and is very encouraging. Here is what it says about the book on Amazon:

Moms: Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop striving to meet false expectations. Stop thinking your performance dictates your worth.

For far too long mothers have been beaten down by the law of “do better” and “try harder.” The burden of “getting it right” threatens to crush weary souls who desire to serve their families faithfully. Christ in the Chaos brings comfort to conflicted hearts that are starved of grace and longing for the freedom in Christ the Bible promises.
Christ in the Chaos is a “must read” for every mother who longs for what is seemingly impossible: peace and freedom in the midst of her chaos.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung, testing is over, but school is still in session. To many this can be a depressing time. Everyone wants to be outside, wants school to be over and it feels over with the ‘end of the year testing’ done. And yet we must trudge on, get our days in, finish our ‘to do’ lists, all the while everything inside screams to be finished. The conflict is within parent and child alike. No one wants to be doing what they feel they ‘have’ to do, so tempers are short, feelings get hurt and school becomes a chore, something only to be completed but not to be enjoyed. What can we do?

I think we must make changes, cater to the urges within us. Spring is the time for sewing seed, tending gardens, etc – I imagine God gave us the desires we have to be outside at this time of year. Just look at all the beauty He created around us. Every part of our being cries to be outside and why not? Why are we homeschooling? – to be like the schools? – to be stuck in the monotony of busy work? With all of us feeling stuck, maybe there is something to those feelings, some deep truth that needs delved into?

For goodness sakes, if everything in you and your child is screaming for change, then change! We have that liberty when we homeschool – that’s one of the reasons we do it! I want my children to have a desire to learn and understand their world, God’s creation, so why not get out in it and observe and enjoy what He has made.

Be CuriousGo on a nature hike or a nature hunt. See how many different bugs, birds, leaves, weeds, flowers you can find. Make graphs and charts on your driveway compiling the information you see.

Do jump-rope skip-counting and memorize your math facts. Play catch while counting by 2’s, 3’s, etc. or while doing multiplication tables. Observe the geometry around you, street intersections, parallel lines, perpendicular angles.

Practice spelling or take a spelling test on the driveway with chalk. For younger kids, write the days of the week, the months of the year or the alphabet and have them jump from one to the next practicing, memorizing.

Do art outdoors; take some time to draw from nature, learn about texture – take your pencil or crayon and color on different surfaces then try to recreate that image, see what you can create with sidewalk chalk on your driveway.

Work on listening skill activities. Have them follow a set of directions and add another one and see how many they can remember, for example: run to the tallest tree, spin around, hop to the mailbox, skip to the grass and do a cartwheel. It’s amazing how they enjoy this stuff and it’s great for their listening and remembering skills.

Study history and have them be explorers, writing a journal, complete with illustrations, of the things and peoples they meet, in your back yard!! Have them follow compass directions and plot a map complete with how many centimeters/inches = how many meters/feet.

Have them read under the shade of a tree.

There are sooooo many things we can do outside and still learn. Sure they may not be your everyday ‘curriculum’ but what do you want your children to learn? It may take a bit more creativity and work on your part (and on theirs but they may not even realize it – it’s amazing what children will do when they are having fun at learning). I think you will find it definitely worth the time and effort you take. Instead of feeling trapped you can be free and free up your children to love and enjoy learning.

By Tami Munden

Teaching Styles

As I was preparing to write about teaching styles, I was thinking about how homeschoolers teach and wondering what kind of information would be useful. After a bit of research, I found that regardless of which curriculum we use, we each have a method of teaching, a philosophy of education, a view of how and what our children should learn and a style that is unique to us. Thus, despite the fact that we teach in a different environment than most teachers, the classical definitions and information about teaching styles are still relevant.

Reading about the various styles, made me think about my teaching style and I realized it varies from subject to subject, child to child, as well as environment and audience. As you look at some of the definitions and styles below, remember, your style will and should vary and it may not always be the best one for your child. You may have to adapt to another style. Hopefully by learning the different methods that can be employed in teaching, we can become more competent and flexible teachers.

One of the sites I found on learning discusses five different styles of teaching.

  • Direct Instruction
  • Indirect Instruction
  • Discussion
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Self-Directed Learning

These styles deal with the way we interact with our students. Do we lecture (direct instruction), do we give some information then expect the student to continue the process (indirect method), do we discuss or allow discussion to occur, do we let our children work together to research and explore a subject, or do we allow self-directed learning where the student researches and learns on his own? Hopefully, to allow the most benefit to our child/children, we use a combination of styles, evaluate their effectiveness, and make changes as needed. It’s also important to remember that what works for one subject or one child may not work as well for other subjects or children.

Teaching Style/Learning Hierarchy

One school of thought in learning is Blooms Hierarchy of Learning. Bloom breaks learning into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Each of these domains addresses a different aspect of the child’s learning. While I believe we need to be teaching the ‘whole’ child, I will focus only on the intellectual/cognitive domain for now.

The Cognitive Domain deals with the way we take in and process information, our intellectual ability. Understanding these are critical to teaching style, because we want to make sure we are teaching so the child will develop in all of the following areas:

  • Knowledge – recall of data
  • Comprehension – understanding information
  • Application – applying knowledge to a new situation
  • Analysis – separates information into parts for better understanding
  • Synthesis – builds a pattern from diverse elements
  • Evaluation – judges the value of information

Your child can develop all these abilities from your teaching with any of the styles listed above, but some are more conducive than others towards the various intellectual abilities. As you use the direct method of teaching, lecturing and informing the student, he/she will learn to recall and understand. With the indirect method, you will be helping them apply knowledge they have to new situations. By discussing and working in cooperative groups, they learn to analyze information, and come up with questions, independent thoughts and ideas (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). Through self-directed learning they learn to put all of their learning abilities to use in a constructive manner.

Off subject a bit, but relevant…

When I was taking classes on education at FSU and UNC Charlotte, one thing that was discussed was the value of teaching children to think. One professor lectured that when we teach children to answer questions, fill in the blanks, and succeed in tests, we are teaching them to answer questions, fill in blanks, and be good test takers, but we are not teaching them to think. After the class, it was interesting listening to the students comments on the lecture, most were ‘what in the world was he talking about.’ As homeschool parents, we have the unique opportunity and responsibility to make sure we are raising thinkers, not just children who know how to give the right answer.

The other thing I heard discussed was the lack of writing assignments given to a child. There is a quote I like, though I’m not sure who it is by, that says ‘When I write, I learn.’ I think this is true, but there is more to it. Writing makes a student formulate ideas, think through and logically order information, it helps them remember what they have learned, and can do much more if the student is challenged to write a variety of types of writing. Writing can take us from the lowest form of learning, the basic knowledge about a subject, to understanding, applying, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It can do this because it requires thinking about the subject and coming up with ways to express oneself. But, what if your child hates to write?

Homeschooling offers many answers for this too. Since we have so few to teach, we can take time to listen and discuss issues, topics, subjects and so on, with each of our children individually or in a group. Computers offer the ability to write without having to use a pen to do so, and tape recorders can be used to tape thoughts and ideas when we don’t have time to sit and listen at the moment. The idea here is to get the child to think about what he is learning, to be able to express him/herself in a logical, concise manner, to be able to rationalize their thought process, and to push them into deeper thinking skills and abilities.

Take some time to reflect on how you teach – your teaching style.  Is it working for you and your student?  Being aware of how our teaching styles effect our students, setting goals for different types of learning to take place, along with learning and trying new teaching styles can help us become more competent teachers.  As we learn what works and doesn’t work with our children, we will be better enabled to help them in their quest for knowledge.

By Tami Munden