Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teaching the ABC's to little ones

photo credit Microsoft Office

I have two children; one reads really well & the other doesn't - yet!
One has a keen interest in reading and  began to read before age 4. Now Ethan's almost 7! Of course, he had some help with a wonderful Christian pre-k daycare that was run by former Bible translator missionaries. They used some great tactics and introduced the alphabet to him by focusing on one letter a week. Each story, project, craft, and snack would then correspond with the letter of the week. Brilliant!

My other child, Claire, is now 4 and is home educated. She loves books, but hates to perform. It used to be that if you asked her a letter, she'd get shy and then mad that you asked her. We had to find some ways to teach the alphabet without making it seem like work. (We also had to deal with some letter confusion simply because she was learning French by immersion at the same time she was learning the American alphabet - same letters basically but a different sound!). She's doing great now, and it's likely due to consistency (mostly on my husband's part - God love him, he's so great!)

We found some great tools in Sonlight's curriculum. We use the Alphabet Bingo, and Go A to Z game (which is basically two sets of Alphabet flashcards that you play "Go Fish" with), and also a box of 25 simple readers called Fun Tales. They are very helpful. We sound out the letters as we read and point to them & she has fun when she can guess the whole word as she hears us complete the sounds (very Sesame Street-esque, I know!). 
from Sonlight (see link above)
 We also use workbooks from Walgreens or even Wal-mart. Oh, and she loves Curious George, so we bought a Curious George alphabet book too. We even use We point out letters wherever we go. We sometimes trace letters in a pan of sand (or even rice).  Sometimes, I make soft baked pretzels and we shape them into letter shapes (or you can pour pancakes in letter shapes - put the batter into a plastic baggie, close it, and snip the corner to make it into a type of frosting/decorating dispenser, if you know what I mean.). 

bought elsewhere
 Our latest addition to our alphabet resources includes a book,
 The Sleepy Little Alphabet by: Judy Sierra.
Claire really loves this one since she is into anything that has to do with mommies and babies. There are capital letters in the book that are the parents to lowercase letters. She loves that we say that the mommy "T" tucks the baby "t" in bed. So this gave me an idea!

Here's what I did:
You know those paint strips they have at your Home Improvement store or even Wal-mart - the ones with different shades of the same color? Most people use them to create a color palate for their walls, well...

I took two sets of several colors (think I picked reds, blues, oranges, greens, and purples - so 5 sets, 2 of each color).

On one set I wrote a capital letter on each space and on the matching set I wrote the matching lowercase letters. I alternated sets as I went through the alphabet so that A, B, C, D, E were not all on one card (helps memory to learn out of order too). (I wrote a diagonal line between some like the lowercase "g" since I'd like our children to be able to recognize the "g" of one font and the "g" of another as the same sound and letter (see photo below).

Then I set aside the capital letter sets and cut apart only the lowercase ones so that what your left with is cards to match the lowercase letters with the capitals.

My custom-made Mommy & Baby Letter Match Game used with J. Sierra's book.

How to play our Mommy and Baby Letter Match Game:
You say the name of the letter and tell your child to put the baby letter with the mommy letter (if that's what works with your kid!). Then if they can't find it you give a hint, "It's on the red card," for example (that narrows down their guess to just 4 or 5 letters to choose from). You do this until all are matched and keep track of the ones they needed help with so that you know what to focus on later. We keep the cards in a plastic zipper bag. Claire loved this game and wanted us to find the letters in The Sleepy Little Alphabet book as we went along! Hope this helps your kiddos as much as it's helping Claire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A day in the life...

What is it like when a missionary is back in the States? 

Sounds like it would be a bit of a vacation, right? Then again, some people think that our time in France was a vacation too.  Hmmm.... something doesn't line up with this sort of thinking - Maybe because it's not a vacation (though we do plan times for that.)

So what do you do while on Home Assignment (Furlough or Time back in the States)?

  1. We TRAVEL. (But wait? Don't you travel enough already?! Umm - yes.)

We're like nomads to some extent. We travel from state to state, staying with friends or family for a night here and there, sharing in churches and small gatherings along the way. People always ask us where we are from and where we live. Sometimes we tell them where we grew up and then that we are currently traveling and staying with friends. They would just give us that blank stare with their heads tilted to the side when we tell them that we have no home and all we own is on it's way to Africa or packed in our van (this time - last time we had a car!).  Thankfully, we are bunked down for a few months with friends while we travel to nearby states to share so we don't actually have to live out of our rental van.  We are SO thankful for a place to stay so we can have some stability.  Lots of people ask us why we do this sort of traveling. It's because we know people and supporters from Texas to Florida to New York to Ohio to Illinois and back down to Texas. (We don't even usually get a chance to make it to the West coast to see other friends and supporters.) It's a big circuit!

2. We actually do WORK - from "home." There's lots of prep work for life overseas.

You think you have a lot of emails to catch up on, well so do we! Mainly because we don't always have internet access & our main form of communicating with supporters is through email and newsletters and blog updates. Brent mainly responds to email and I run the blog and take photos & edit our newsletters. We also have to prepare tailor-made PowerPoint presentations and sermons sometimes. It's a large task to accurately portray another culture, one we're headed to but have not been to yet. It requires research. We also answer lots of questions & try to write hand-written Thank-you notes to our many partners.
Currently, we are comparing our packing lists (4 of them!) to make sure all that we need for Africa is there or on it's way via our suitcases. We have lists of what we sent by container, what we purchased from 2 in-country missionaries, and what remains to be brought (OTC meds and personal items for 2 years). We get our physicals, shots, passports, visas, etc. in line. Oh, and if that doesn't seem like enough, we home school two kids.

3. We CRY tears of sorrow and joy.

It's amazing to return to your homeland after a year in another culture and language. We get to see our family and friends & meet people's new babies. We say "goodbye" to our moms and dads and grandparents and siblings and cousins for two years when we leave them, even though we just came back from being away for a year. We get to know so many friends' families better when we stay with them. We went to a Memorial Day party at my friends' aunt's house and I just cried. It was picturesque Americana! Something I had missed terribly while we were in France. We had a 4th of July party with some other Americans in France last year and it was close but not the same. You can't get yellow mustard there. French people were asking us what we were doing. It was great but odd. What a sense of relief I felt as I shared Memorial Day this year with Americans, some of whom were Veterans. I thought to myself, I will miss this for the next two years. Not much will be the same in Africa.We are all excited, but sometimes we feel sad knowing our kids will miss out on things like Little League. We are so filled with joy to see our kids turn into happy little travelers who can get along with anyone and adapt to almost any new situation with little trepidation.

4. We RELAX and do some family maintenance.

We, just like you, get overwhelmed or stressed out or tired or even sick. We have had to learn to add in times of rest and fun as a family in our travels. I personally need to sit and do a craft or read a book to relax a bit. Our kids need to watch a family film now and then. Brent and Ethan need to get outside to play sports. We need to soak in time with the Lord as we listen to praise music. We all need to sleep and take times to unwind. There is a lot of stress that comes with transitioning between cultures and being in a constant state of upheaval (think of how many times we have to pack and unpack!).

Please keep us in your prayers as we find balance.
This missionary life is hard 
even though it's the adventure of a lifetime!

I often ask myself, "WILL IT BE WORTH IT?"

Imagine if ...
  • You were illiterate. 
That means right now you would not know what you were looking at. Someone would be reading it aloud to you. Do you remember the days when you didn't know how to read & what it felt like when you learned?

  • Your language had no writing system - No alphabet.
That means you would never have a way to write down anything important. There would be no written signs (other than just pictures) indicating important cautions. You would have no way to send a letter to family far away. You would have no way of applying for a better job - you'd likely have a hard time just scraping by.

  •  You did not have access to a Bible in your own language. 
Photo courtesy of the Seed Company.
That means you might not know God, or you'd have to take people at their word for what they tell you about Him - even if it was wrong. How would you draw closer to a distant, unknown God who loves you? You simply couldn't get a very deep relationship with Him without access to His Word.

Why am I having you Imagine 
your world like this?

Because this is the way it is for many around the globe. Many who have not heard. Many who have no access or if they do, they can not read what they have access to.

This is the world of people in my village-town in West Africa. The Konyanka have no Bible. No alphabet. No way to read it if they did.

Our family is headed to 
West Africa to live and work among the Konyanka. We plan to learn their language, develop a working writing system, and teach the people to read their own language while translating the Bible. It will be hard. It will take years. We will have to adapt to a bunch of new things - a whole new way of life. Is it going to be worth it?

I often write what I feel strongly about, so I apologize if sometimes it sounds like I am scared, or frustrated, or disappointed in what I may have to give up or do in order to live and serve in Africa. I often need a reminder - a good kick in the pants helps too!
It will cost me something, but it will be worth it.

It will be worth it to bring the Bible to the Konyanka people and teach them how to read in their own language. It will be worth it so that my African friends can know God. Our president at Pioneer Bible Translators (PBT) often reminds us,  "It will be worth it". 

 Photo credits disclaimer: All clip arts I use are royalty free. If I "borrow" a photo from somewhere else, I give credit to the original source; however, I do not recall whom to credit for the Rev. 7 photo. Sorry! Also, please ask before posting pics from my blog. Thanks. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Love and Apt. Living LINKS! :)

I love when I find a new blog like La vie en rose - It's right up my alley! It's French & so my style! I figured you all might enjoy it too.

Side Note:  I found her on Pinterest. I know you haven't seen me pin anything lately (Sorry!), but I've found a faster way for me to "surf" Pinterest - basically it involves me not even signing in and just clicking on pins from their sign-in page to open them in new tabs (then I go straight to the blog link on the pin, and voila!) If I were to pin as much as I like on there, I would end up at the end of the internet and the house would be a wreck!

Here's the two really good links I've found which will be interesting to....
  1. People who like Free Dates (think it's good for singles even though it says how to "Spice up your marriage" - in my case, I'm dating my spouse). 
  2. People interested in How to Jazz Up Apartment Living.
I love these because, let's face it, even missionaries need a bit of spice in their lives! *wink*
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