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~ April 2013 ~

Dear Readers,

Well, we're officially a house of teenagers now. My youngest son, Joshua, just turned 13. The poor kid wasn't exactly looking forward to being a teenager, after observing how his two older brothers got all grumpy and moody when they became teens. Ha! Nevertheless, I hope my kids will always stay young at heart. The way I see it, one's age is just a number; it has nothing to do with how young or old someone feels (or acts). Despite a half century of life experiences, my inner self still feels like the same shy little girl I always was! A good quote to keep in mind is: "The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart" (Mencius, 372-289 BC).

Teri's Sig


Featured Article

Playing with Poetry

April is National Poetry Month!

Poetry is an art form, just like painting or singing. Poetry comes in many different styles. No matter what your taste is, there is a poem for you. Poetry can be serious and thoughtful, or humorous and fun. Poems can be in the form of ballads, sonnets, light verse or free verse. Poems often rhyme, but they don't have to. Poetry can be interesting to read, and enjoyable to write. There are poems in all of us just waiting to be coaxed onto paper. Are you a poet and don't know it? Learn more about reading and writing poetry at http://www.knowledgehouse.info/njfk/poetry.html.

If homeschoolers had a ďPoet Laureate,Ē it surely would be the early 20th century poet Edgar Guest! He wrote about the joys of home and family, motherhood and fatherhood, the virtues of honest labor and plain living. His poems really make you feel the love of family and a true appreciation of poetry. His down-to-earth verse is easy to read with traditional rhyme and rhythm - no "hifalutin" free verse or need to decipher hidden meanings. I've put together a collection of my favorite poems by Edgar Guest. Download the 50-page e-book here. It's a wonderful resource for reading aloud, memorization, recitation, copywork, or just for fun. Enjoy!

Book of the Month

Gardening For Wildlife

Gardening for Wildlife

April is National Garden Month and Earth Day, and it's a great time for getting outdoors and studying nature. This Spring why not create a wildlife habitat for birds, butterflies, and other creatures in your yard! Gardening for Wildlife will walk you through the process of creating a wildlife-friendly yard and garden. The fully illustrated step by step guide includes: how to get started, planning checklist, required habitat elements, plant recommendations, maintenance methods, helpful habitat hints, scripture references, educational benefits, how to certify your habitat, additional resources. Gardening for Wildlife makes a great homeschool project, family activity, and year-round unit study! This 28-page e-book is only $4.95! Click here!

Famous Homeschoolers

Robert Frost

ďTwo roads diverged in a wood and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.Ē ~R. Frost

The celebrated Farmer-Poet was a Homeschooled Child AND a Homeschool Dad! Read his bio at FamousHomeschoolers.net.

Reading Between the Lines

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray

Itís a tradition in our house that I buy a religious-themed Easter gift, such as a book or DVD for the whole family to enjoy, in lieu of Easter baskets filled with toys and candy. My husband had mentioned his interest in R.C. Sproulís book for children titled The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, and since I love childrenís books, I thought it would be a good choice.

This 30-page picture book is based on Martin Lutherís ďA Simple Way to Pray: A Letter to His Barber, Master Peter Beskendorf, Spring 1535.Ē Dr. Sproul follows Lutherís advice on how to use the Lordís Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles Creed to pray. He takes a brief sample from each and explains how to model our own prayers after these. Itís like an instruction manual on how to pray, disguised as a childrenís book.

Dr. Sproulís illustrated theology book begins with a mom, dad, and children sitting around the table while the father is leading family devotions. When his daughter asks him if he can teach her to pray better, he tells the story about the barber who once asked his famous client, Martin Luther, a similar question. I must admit, the part about the kids who can't wait for family prayer time and are eager to learn theological truths seemed kind of contrived to me. I would have rather just started with the real story on page 8:

Once upon a time, in a village far across the sea, there lived a barber. Everyone in the town knew him. He not only cut menís hair and shaved their beards, but he could do all sorts of things that people needed to have done. The villagers called him simply ďMaster Peter.Ē

Overall, the theme of the story is good and Luther's method of praying is worth learning. The artwork is high quality, although the illustrations are so dark-colored that they give the book a somber tone. Cat lovers will be happy to see their favorite animal on almost every page. But there was one part of the story that seemed inappropriate for a child's picture book. As Master Peter began to give Luther a shave, I was shocked to read:

Peterís razor was pressed very gently against the outlawís neck. All Peter had to do was to press hard on the razor and he would cut the manís throat, killing him instantly. Then Peter could go to the emperor and say that he had taken care of the outlaw, and he could claim the reward, which would make him rich.

This text is accompanied by a close-up picture of the barber holding a straight razor against Lutherís throat. And yet on the next page, the story suddenly switches gears and says that the barber would never do such a thing because Martin Luther was his hero! So that whole disturbing scene seemed unnecessary, particularly since itís a book thatís meant to be read to children.

I appreciate Dr. Sproulís good intentions in writing The Barber Who Wanted to Pray with families in mind. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the qualities that make a great children's book. The text is too wordy and the story lacks a plot that will keep young children interested. There is the questionable choice of including the graphic scene that I described previously, not to mention the unrealistically ďperfectĒ children who excitedly ask to extend family worship time so they can practice this new way to pray. Seriously, do you know any kids who would do that?

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray provides some brief background details about the Reformation which makes it somewhat educational. A reference section at the end of the book includes the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Apostles Creed as a memory aid for parents and children. However, while this lesson on how to pray is an excellent tool for older children and adults, I think it would go over most little kidsí heads. And yet older kids will not care much for this book either because of its juvenile appearance.

Dr. Sproul considers ďA Simple Way to PrayĒ by Martin Luther to be among the top fifteen Christian works that have most shaped his life and ministry. While Dr. Sproul has summed up Lutherís lesson nicely in The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, I think most readers who are interested in the topic would be better off studying Lutherís original version. This simple, yet profound, Christian classic is available in several different formats on the Internet, many of which are free. See: http://www.homeschoollibrary.info/2013/04/07/a-simple-way-to-pray-by-martin-luther

Learning Links

Playing with Poetry (April is National Poetry Month.)

National Parks (April 18-25 is National Park Week.)

Kindergarten Day (Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the first kindergarten, was born on April 21, 1782.)

Freebie of the Month

The other day was my sonís 13th birthday, and itís the year 2013, so I gathered some facts about the number 13:

Lucky 13 Facts

(Requires Adobe Reader: click here for free download.)

Quote of the Month

"When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." ~C.S. Lewis

A Note From Teri...

Check out my newest website: Homeschool Library. This site features an extensive Library of Links to support all of your learning needs! Homeschool for FREE, with the convenience made possible in this digital age of information.

The Homeschool Library provides easy access to thousands of educational websites filed according to the Melvil Decimal Classification System, enabling you to quickly find just what youíre looking for!

Subscribe to receive a Link of the Day via e-mail: click here!

Happy Homeschooling!

Teri's Sig

P.S. Did you like this month's newsletter?

Copyright © 2013 by Teri Ann Berg Olsen, www.knowledgehouse.info. To subscribe to this free e-newsletter, send a blank e-mail to and follow the instructions in the confirmation e-mail that you will receive, or sign up on the web at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KnowledgeHouse. To unsubscribe, send a blank e-mail to . Questions? E-mail .