Thursday, May 22, 2014

Second Grade Adventures

Time sure flies when you're having fun...actually, it just flies!  In March, Kieran finished his 2nd grade school year.  We follow a year-round schedule so that we can take breaks throughout the year to travel for workshops, conferences, or to spend time with visiting family. 

This was our first year to use a curriculum called My Father's World.  The 2nd grade year covers U.S. History, which I felt was important since we aren't living in our home country.  I wanted to make sure Kieran knew the Pledge of Allegiance and could at least recognize patriotic songs and important people in U.S. history.  An added bonus to using this curriculum is that a portion of their profits go to support Bible translation!  We really enjoyed the curriculum and look forward to using it for many years to come (you can learn more about My Father's World here).

Checking out books from the kid's library in Mitla
In Bible we studied about the names of Jesus.  These names (Bread of Life, Living Water, etc.) were tied into science.  For example, when we learned that Jesus is the Living Water, we studied the properties of water.  Science is Kieran's favorite subject in school, and he especially enjoyed doing experiments.  His daily question was, "What kind of experiment are we doing in science today?"  Here are a couple of our experiments from the year:

Watching a cloud form in a bottle
Observing the movement of hot air
The history focused on the United States starting with the Viking exploration up to the Westward expansion (with the addition of a unit on famous inventors at the end of the year).  We read several classic books such as Farmer Boy, Sign of the Beaver, and Sarah, Plain and Tall.  One of our favorite books was from a newer series called Grandma's Attic.  One of the joys of homeschooling is being able to watch your child experience new information for the first time.  Kieran was fascinated by the different kinds of homes built by Native Americans, and he was absolutely appalled at the idea of slavery.  One day he asked me, "Mom, how in the world could anyone think they could own another person?  It doesn't make sense."

Kieran participated in a Cultural Celebration Day at a local Christian school.  He submitted two pieces of art.

He also sang an original song in the talent show.
Math is Kieran's least favorite subject even though he is good at it.  Despite some moans and groans, we learned a lot about perseverance, good breathing techniques, and ways to change our attitude.  There is always a lesson to be learned.

Kieran attended his first over-night camp in Puebla over spring break
I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but living in rural Mexico worked out well as we studied pioneer times in the U.S.  Many of the same farming and living techniques from that time period are still used in many parts of Mexico.  We had the chance to visit a weaving community and watch them clean and card the wool, dye the wool, and then weave it into rugs.  We also watched as oxen plowed through fields. When we moved into our village in January, we really got a first-hand experience of living without running water and using an outhouse! Kieran often compares it to Little House on the Prairie

Learning to spin wool into yarn
Another fun activity we did was to collect postcards from different states.  I sent out a Facebook plea a couple of times throughout the year.  Kieran was always excited about getting a new postcard and marking it on our map.  At the end of the school year, he had received 65 postcards from 33 different states (including Alaska and Hawaii)!  Many of the postcards came from strangers (friends of friends and family).  This was a great way for the states to come to life and was a good geography lesson as well. Thanks to all of you who took the time to add some extra postage to that postcard and send it all the way to Mexico.

Kieran loved getting postcards and finding the states on our map.
Since we are homeschooling in a different country, it isn't feasible to participate in a co-op or join in with regularly scheduled playdates.  However, our wonderful organization offers a program called FES (Field Education System) for the homeschooled kids around the country.  Twice a year (in the spring and fall), the kids come together at our linguistic center in Oaxaca to have a classroom experience for 3 weeks.  This gives the kids the chance to have other teachers, take field trips, and experience what it is like to be in a classroom with other kids.  This past year worked out really well for our curriculum since the themes were "Westward Movement" and "Inventors and Inventions".  The kids always have a great time, and it is a nice break for the homeschool parents as well.  Usually, we have linguistic workshops we can attend during this time.

Kieran and his classmates at FES
Learning to build a campfire
Kieran's end-of-the-school project was to write a report on his favorite state (he chose South Carolina, of course) and then he and some friends put together a LEGO White House model which was a gift from his great aunt.

I'm so proud of Kieran and all the hard work he put into school this year.  Granted, there were days I was about to pull out my hair and other days when tears were shed (I won't say who did the crying).  However, we moved 5 times this school year (including a move to a remote village), so I would say the fact that we finished a school year and finished it well means we did something right and received a lot of grace from God! 
2nd Grade 2013-2014 (8 years old)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Other Side of the Box

Come October and November, many families and churches around the U.S. (and other parts of the world) begin the task of packing the now-famous Christmas Shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse.  We used to do them with Kieran when we lived in South Carolina.  It was always exciting to get the notice about where your box ended up and to imagine the look on the child’s face as they opened the box.  Two weekends ago, we had the chance to experience the other side of the box and witness the power of prayer that goes along with each one. 
On our last trip to the village, our pastor’s wife asked if we were going to be in the village at the end of April for Kids’ Day (a holiday in Mexico on April 30th).  She said she wanted us to help with a Kids’ Day Celebration they were having at a smaller Pame village about 10 minutes from our village.  She mentioned something about shoeboxes with airplanes printed on the side.  We recognized the description as being the Samaritan’s Purse and were excited about the chance to help.

On Friday, April 26th, we loaded up our truck with a giant tarp to use as a tent, big pots of mole (pronounced "moh-lay") and rice, baskets of tortillas, and drinks.  We drove up the side of the mountain on a bumpy dirt road (thankfully, the mole and rice stayed in the pot) to a small community called San Diego.   

Kieran and Kris helped set up a huge tarp which was used as a tent to keep the sun off the kids.
Unloading the shoeboxes, chairs, and other supplies for the day
We believe that in January (King’s Day), the main distribution of shoeboxes took place.  Part of the Samaritan’s Purse follow-up program is to start a Kids’ Club (The Grandest Journey) with the children who receive a shoebox.  A club was started in this village in January and they had over 50 kids.  The program we attended was the presentation of New Testaments given by Samaritan’s Purse.  We also had the chance to give out a few boxes to the kids who did not receive theirs in January.   


The pastor’s wife asked us to present the Bibles to the children and Kieran and Elyse were able to hand out the shoeboxes.  The children were all very excited to receive their very own Bibles.  We continue to pray for the day that these kids will be able to read the Bible in their own language.  

The pastor of our village church with his wife and daughter

Our pastor's wife preparing to present the New Testaments from Samaritan's Purse.

The children who received their shoeboxes waited until the festivities were over to sneak off to the side and open their boxes.  Most of the kids were pretty camera shy, so I had to be a little sneaky to catch some of their expressions when they opened their boxes.  It was neat to watch them carefully take out each item and show it to their friends.  

After the presentation of New Testaments and shoeboxes, the children were all served rice, chicken mole, and tortillas.  There were at least 100 people there, but everyone had his/her fill of food.  After comida, the kids received bags of candy and balloons.  It was very exciting for everyone. 


If you’ve ever wondered what happens on the other side of the box, just know that little lives are being touched and the love of Christ is being shared.  

Jesus loves the little children...

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white...

They are precious in his sight.

Jesus loves the little children of the world!