Teaching Character Using Poetry III

 

We are continuing to celebrate National Poetry month at Train up a Child Publishing!  If you missed our first three posts, check them out: Charlotte Mason on Teaching Poetry, Teaching Character Using Poetry (Psalm 1), Teaching Character Using Poetry II (Psalm 8).

The third poem we are using to teach character is the well-known It Couldn’t Be Done, by Edgar Guest.  This simple poem will be appreciated and understood by all but your youngest primary students, and even they can appreciate it with a little discussion!

 It Couldn’t Be Done

by Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

About the author

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959) was a naturalized American citizen born in Great Britain, a prolific poet and writer. Scorned by some poetry critics, he was nicknamed “The People’s Poet” because he wrote about common life and experiences to which most people could relate.  Popular enough to be syndicated in over 300 newspapers, he went on to have radio and television shows.  Guest wrote about topics that encouraged and inspired, and before he died was named the Poet Laureate of Michigan.

Lesson Plan Options

First read the poem silently, then read the poem aloud once or twice. Choose a few of these options depending upon the age of your student(s). Then do a few of the following:

  1. Let your student know that after the reading, he will tell back what the poem said. (Give you an oral narration.)
  2. Ask your students to tell you what this poem means.
  3. Have your students write about what this poem means.
  4. Research the poet and write one to three paragraphs about his life. (See paragraph above for more info)
  5. What character qualities does the person in the poem demonstrate? What specific words in the poem suggest these character qualities?
    • Courageous, unafraid to try:
      • So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      •  If he worried he hid it.
      • With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      • Without any doubting
    • Diligence, industriousness:
      • So he buckled right in
      • he tackled the thing
      • But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
        And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
      • Just take off your coat and go to it
      • he did it
    • Good attitude:
      • he with a chuckle
      • with the trace of a grin
        On his face
      • He started to sing
      • with a bit of a grin
      • Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
  6. Have your student memorize the poem.
  7. Here’s a cartoon version of this poem!  Have your student choose another poem, and make a cartoon version of it. Here are some free downloadable cartoon templates to make it easier.

Don’t you love the character qualities this poem inspires?

 

 

Five Simple Ways to Say Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up in a week. Normally I post homeschool learning and ministry ideas for families before this special holiday, but this year my Valentine’s post is not going to be about homeschooling at all.

This year, I am reminded that there is a relationship we moms… especially we homeschool moms…are all too likely to put on the back burner.

When you are juggling a baby, chasing a toddler, grading an essay and answering an algebra problem, your husband is not exactly on the forefront of your mind, right?

I sure could be better at this… maybe you could be, too?

I know this doesn’t apply to everyone; you may be single.

But if you are not….you might have noticed that it. is. so. easy. to. put.  our.  kids first.  Sometimes they have to be first, obviously… but there should be regular times when we intentionally, mindfully do things to let our husbands know that we haven’t forgotten about them!  Do you agree?

Five Simple Ways to Bless Your Husband—and not Just on Valentine’s Day

1. Spend intentional, stop-everything-else-and-look-at-him-while-he-is-talking-time every day. We are exceptional at kissing ouchies, listening to stumbling new readers and chattering toddlers. We sometimes even do an admirable job of keeping the house relatively germ-free, pulling off regular meals and keeping the clothes clean. But we are so busy that we seldom just stop. listen. and look, giving our husbands our undivided attention.

2. You’ve read a thousand times about how important it is to have a regular “date night.” You may not be able to pull this off weekly, but why not find another couple with small kids and trade babysitting every other week? Your kids will have big fun and you will get some much needed, regular time alone with your spouse. (And  please work at talking about something else other than the kids!)

3. Study your husband like you do your kids. After teaching them all day, you know how they like to learn, what they get excited about, and how to bless them.

Hearken back to your dating days and remember what has been lost in light of the dirty diapers, messy kitchens and a plethora of homeschool projects. Seek ways to bless your husband, even if it is just an unexpected back rub at the end of a long day.

4. Use your talent or hobby to bless your husband on Valentine’s Day.Crafty? Make him a card or put together a basket of special food or hobby treats.  Musical? Write him a song or cover another song and make him a recording. Or make a playlist of “your” music.  Artistic? Paint him a picture. Writer? Write him a poem or love note.

5. Bite the bullet: plan and do something HE likes to do. You get extra points for this if he knows it is not your favorite activity. Watch the game, go on a hike, play golf, go fishing, play paintball, help him do yard work or share in a needed home repair.

Believe me when I say that your family will all benefit by you mindfully honoring your husband by conserving time and attention for him.

Now tell me, does this strike a chord with you? Could you do better at investing in your relationship with your husband?  Are you going to do anything special for him on Valentine’s Day?

Please tell me in the comments!

Would you like someone ELSE to tackle teaching the dreaded high school research paper?

let someone else teach it

The only thing worse than writing a research paper yourself is the thought of teaching your high school student to write one.

I know! Been there, done that.

Here is your chance  to have someone else take this off your plate.

For TEN DAYS ONLY, you can enter to win one of three free courses for your high school student in writing a research paper using  our curriculum – The Steps to Writing a Research Paper.

To enter the drawing once,  sign up for the Classes by Beth mailing list. That’s it!

For a second chance at this $194 value, register your student for a class at CBB by July 31st.

All the details are here.

Don’t forget though — you only have 10 days to enter.

 

 

P. S. Your high school student should write two research papers during high school — you will have one of those out of the way after the fall semester if you should win!

 

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Do You Pray or Plan?

pray or planYou know the story — Mary wanted to sit at Jesus’ feet, while Martha was more of a woman of action.

I am afraid my natural, type-A self is more of a Martha than a Mary. Years ago Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World was a great read reinforcing that I needed to spend time with Jesus in prayer before I jumped in to add this or that new activity to our already busy homeschool days.

If that is something you have a tendency to do, too, it might help you to read this post offering some poignant Scripture verses applicable to your homeschool journey, as you seek the Lord’s guidance for your family and homeschooling this semester.

On the other hand, you may be more of a wing it, let’s-see-where-this-rabbit-trail-goes, oops-we-forgot-to-do-science-last-semester type.

(I guess I have been that mom, too…)

If that describes you, it may be time to do some planning to ensure that you cover what you need to cover this next semester.  Here’s how to set some structured goals for the new school semester. Setting specific goals and accomplishing them is motivating for you and is a powerful example for your kids.

But what if you just began homeschooling and you are having trouble just getting your children to listen to you?

You need both prayer and planning, as we all do! Start with prayer. Then make plans to do some basic habit training. Teach your children these nine habits to start with and homeschooling will be MUCH easier. Continue to guide your students in forming these valuable intellectual habits and your children will turn out to be lifelong learners.

Ideally, we will grow to demonstrate the best of both Martha and Mary. We will spend daily time sitting at His feet and asking for His wisdom and grace in parenting and homeschooling our children.  AND, we will plan, using biblical priorities to train our children’s character and teach them what they each need to know. We will model using our time wisely, according to the principles set forth in God’s Word.

What about you? Do you tend to be a “Martha” or “Mary” homeschooling mom?

 

 

 

Six Tips for Raising Leaders

world history high school course

Have you noticed recently that the world is becoming notably less tolerant of our biblical beliefs? Moral relativism and immoral perspectives are not creeping, but charging,  into our communities, public education system and even into our churches.

This situation is not going to be improving any time soon, and in no time at all our children and grandchildren are going to be on the front lines.

It is our jobs to prepare them!

Coming from a corporate background prior to marriage, kids and homeschooling, I’ve always had an interest in leadership. But there is a difference between training leaders in the marketplace and training them at home.

As Christian parents we not only want to raise leaders; we want to raise godly leaders.

I know it is a lot to ask harried moms struggling  to get in the academic basics, but it is crucial that we look at the big picture and intentionally raise our children to be godly leaders. What could be more important that that?

So, how do we raise godly leaders?  Here are six tips:

 

1.  Teach the Word daily and model integrity.

  • Men and women who are leaders have integrity. Integrity is moral uprightness; displaying strong principles based on truth. Without daily teaching of the Truth, your children will not know how to recognize it from the falsehoods constantly bombarding them from our culture.
  • When an integrity issue comes up, put the books away and deal with it immediately. There are some non-negotiables when it comes to behavior, and integrity is one of them.
  • As Christian parents, hold yourselves to the same standard and remember that you have little ears and eyes listening and watching. And when you are at fault for something – apologize immediately. Just as they are accountable to us, we are accountable to God.

2.Keep your eyes on the big picture: share your vision for your children with them from an early age.

Teach your sons and daughters that they are made in God’s image, and that He has given them strengths and special talents to accomplish great things in His kingdom. Share with them how excited you are and how you anticipate watching those special gifts and talents develop as they grow up!

Remind them of this periodically and identify and reinforce these gifts and talents as they appear.

3. Train your children to have sound physical and mental habits.

Probably because my husband and I lived so far away from our parents, we had no clue how to raise children.  Then we moved to the South where children’s roles are very well defined, and we learned the secret: You train them to have good habits.

As Charlotte Mason wrote:

“The habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.”

Habits are skills that are cultivated in our children by training, repetition and accountability. Character is molded through habit training, whether they be physical habits or intellectual ones.

4.  Read and discuss stories that show children as leaders.

If you are using a literature-based homeschool curriculum (and I hope you are!), read historical fiction and literature with characters who demonstrate the leadership traits you would like to see in your children, such as: integrity, humility, responsibility for self and others, reliability, initiative, willingness to be self-sacrificing, ability to learn from mistakes, resistance to peer pressure, willingness to tackle difficult problems with a positive attitude, diligence, and  perseverance.

5.  As you study history and current events, regularly point out and discuss examples of exemplary and poor leadership.

History is full of examples of leadership and good character, as well as their opposites!  If you use a Charlotte Mason-style, literature-based homeschool curriculum, you have the perfect opportunity to set a feast of inspiring characters before your children on a regular basis!  Choose books with plenty of examples of great men and women of the past, and in your discussions and assignments, compare and contrast them with others, as we do in our high school World History I course, subtitled Lessons in Leadership.

Additionally, do not wait until your kids are old enough to vote to discuss local and national candidates for public office. Talk about the jobs candidates are campaigning for as well as their track record and experience. Identify leadership experience within their backgrounds.

The newspaper and other media are full of articles of both exemplary and poor leaders. Draw their attention to these snippets and help them to identify these differences in discussions.

6. Give your children opportunities to practice leadership inside and outside the home.

From being responsible for their own belongings at home, teach them to be responsible for pets, chores and their own school supplies. Let them be responsible for a family event, such as a service project, teaching them to plan, anticipate, organize and communicate with others what their roles will be. Give them a small garden to research, plan, plant, weed and harvest. Encourage industriousness and entrepreneurship.

Let older children be responsible for helping to teach younger children at home, as well helping teach Sunday School, Youth Group, etc., at church. Help them expand into service to the community, such as spearheading a neighborhood or road clean-up project.

Encourage them to earn all or part of the money for their own activities, rather than just handing money over like so many other parents do. (This happened regularly with friends of my son, particularly, and it was very difficult at the time but our firm stance on this issue has reaped benefits now that he is in college and has to manage his own expenses.)

 

We owe it to our children to prepare them to live in the world they will be facing in just a few short years.  They must be mature, steadfast and well-grounded to be who they were designed to be.

What are you doing to encourage godly leadership in your children?  What are your biggest challenges to instilling leadership characteristics in them?

 

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing

 

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