Faith | Family Life

Learning the Grammar of the Bible

By on May 17, 2015

As a classically educating family, we are always looking for the grammar of a subject - you know the basic information that enables one to have a foundation to build upon as they continue to learn more in that area.

Often with the Bible, we assume people know the grammar because of their age.  Why is that?  Even though I was raised in Church Sunday school, there is still a vast body of basic knowledge that I could learn that would open new doors in my study of the Bible.

I was introduced to the Walk Thru the Bible seminars in high school, and it gave me a framework of the Old Testament that amazed and invigorated my study.  A couple of years ago I attended another seminar and enjoyed the refreshing of the grammar.  I also found a great tool that I have enjoyed sharing with my kids:  The Keyword Learning System.

walk thru the bible

This flashcard system takes you through the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.  They have clever illustrations on the front that aid in memorizing both the book's title, and the main theme of the book.

walk thru the bible cards

Then on the back side of the cards, there is an explanation of the illustration as well as a short discussion on the theme of the book.

walk thru the bible cards back

It is amazing what can be memorized in just a couple of minutes a day.  We have used this as part of our morning family time in the past and it has always been a blessing.

The cards I am showing above are the old version.  They have been redesigned and the graphics have been updated.

Walk thru app

They have also created an app for the iPhone as a portable solution for the cards.  You can purchase the Old Testament and New Testament separately.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

3 John 1:4


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Bookish Life

What’s On My Bookshelf: Top 10 Read Alouds

By on May 16, 2015

I have an insane amount of bookshelves in my home.  Even one back hallway is lined with skinny shelves to house my ever-growing collection.  When I find bookshelves in a friend's home, I have a irresistible desire to peruse what lies on their shelves.  Therefore I thought it would be fun to give you a guided tour of my best friends I mean favorite reads.

One of my favorite categories of books is family read alouds. These are books that the whole family reads together and treasures. The stories become a common language between us and deepen and enrich our conversations. Here are 10 of our favorite family read alouds, but if you want the full list, check out the Strauss Family Read Aloud history.

top 10 read alouds

This post may contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure policy for more details.

WinnieThePooh1. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

The first time I picked up this book was at an antique store that we stopped at on a road trip.  We read the book all the way home.  I was so surprised at how wonderful all of the characters were and how funny they were! We have read this book several times since that trip.  Most recently, we used it as a family read aloud - reader's theater style.  Each person was assigned a couple of characters, and as their part came up, they read the lines.  Everyone stayed engaged, and it gave us great practice on our voices.

Little_pilgrims_progress2.  Little Pilgrim's Progress by Helen Taylor

For a read aloud, this book is wonderful for a couple of reasons.  First, the chapters are super short.  You can read a couple of chapters and really feel like you're accomplishing a lot! Additionally, this story has been simplified in such a way that the wonderful truths from the original version are retained, however, little ears and hearts can grasp them easily.  It is another book that we have chosen to read aloud several times.  I think it's on my list next for my youngest, because she doesn't remember much from the last time we read it!

anneofgreengables3.  Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

We just read this gem last summer for the first time.  I grew up on the TV miniseries, but somehow never read the books.  While on vacation with my husband, I brought this book along to read.  I couldn't put it down.  When I made it back home, I had to read it to my kids and I have to say I had so much fun with all of Anne's dramatics!



blackbeauty4.  Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

I love animal stories, but this one is even more compelling as it is written from the perspective of the horse.  My girls love this story and have since read it on their own a couple of times.




MrPoppersPenguins5. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater

This is another quick and zany read that our whole family enjoys.  The surprising gift of penguins draws a family together in an unexpected way.  When we read it, I especially enjoy making the penguin noises.






6.  Faerie Gold by Kathryn Lindskoog

I found this book at a used bookstore, and it has been a surprising source of wonderful night-time reads.  Faerie tales in this collection target the nourishment of the souls of children.  With a stunning collection of masterful writers, you'll want to read these with or without the kids!




7.  The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald

The crazy antics in this autobiographical tale captivated my family.  Set in the early 1900s, the memories of a young boy with big ideas creates trouble in his hometown.






summerofthemonkeys8.  Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls

We read Where the Red Fern Grows in Challenge B this year, and loved it, but the story was so sad.  A good friend recommended another title from Rawls' works.  The setting and characters are very similar in this book, but the monkeys add a funny twist that will keep everyone laughing.



thecabinfacedwest9.  The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz

This is a sweet and easy historical fiction to read aloud.  I especially like the interactions with General George Washington.  Jean Fritz is by far one of my favorite historical fiction writers for children.  This is just one of her fabulous works.





huckleberryfinn10.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

So this one can be kinda controversial.  Twain captures a time period so brilliantly that both its strengths and weaknesses are revealed to the reader.  Huckleberry Finn's journey down the Mississippi fascinated and amused the whole family.

So there's 10 of my favorite read-alouds.  I'm sure this is not the complete and authoritative list as we have not read everything out there...but it's a good start!





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My Favorite Way to Eat Eggs

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I am a sweets-for-breakfast girl.  If I could, I would rotate cinnamon rolls, donuts, and anything covered in sweet syrup as my morning indulgence.  However, as you can probably guess, when I do, by mid-morning I'm all out of patience for listening to a budding reader, creativity for re-explaining a math problem, or excitement for tackling a new read aloud.

I needed protein, something quick, and something that wouldn't leave a huge mess in the kitchen.

What could be better than eggs?

I made it my mission to find the best way to prepare eggs, and here's what I came up with: eggs over easy.  They take five minutes to cook, and if you use enough butter, the pan stays pretty clean, reducing the extra work I despise in the morning.


Okay, so I never really thought I liked eggs over easy, but I think it was a texture issue.  If you've never prepared eggs in this way before, you should give it a try.  Food Network's Alton Brown gives great step-by-step instructions.

The two elements that make eggs over easy a winner every time for me are:

1.  Lots of butter...yes, butter.  The fat becomes fuel to power through that mid-morning mommy meltdown, and it just makes everything taste so good!

2.  Sliced avocado.  I'll admit, I like avocado with just about anything, but it is especially good with eggs.  The creamy goodness mellows out the egg flavor and also provides additional good fats to make this breakfast a surprisingly satisfying power house of a breakfast.


I don't need a whole avocado, but I hate to waste it on a single breakfast.  The good news is if you leave the pit in the avocado, you can stick it in the fridge for tomorrow morning's breakfast.  The avocado does not go bad as quickly with the pit in.

So, what's your favorite way to eat an egg?

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Classical Conversations | Home School Resources | Reviews

When Failures Turn into Blessings

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I think I stumbled upon genius this year in a fabulous way to use Classical Conversationsprescripts books.  There are several varieties, but the one my daughter was working on followed the current year's history memory work.  However, with all of the wonderful things I planned that year, we were destined to drop something.


Let me explain - I am a first class list maker. I love making schedules, plotting out our course, and checking off boxes as we complete tasks. The problem is that typically my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I try to heap mounds of great things into our schedule that we just won't be able to accomplish in a day, let alone a year. What inevitably happens is something (or things) don't get finished. That is precisely what happened with our first year using the prescripts.classical conversations prescripts books

One of my favorite parts of the prescripts books is the art element. They have lovely art projects throughout. When my daughter arrives at an art lesson, she spends ample time creating masterpieces...or maybe just avoiding moving on to the next copy work. I prefer to believe the first. Valuing hard work, I never pushed her to move on too quickly. Unfortunately the end of the CC year arrived, and we were maybe a quarter of the way finished with our handwriting book.prescripts artwork pages


I decided instead of buying another book, we would just continue in this same prescripts book until we finished it.  That is where the genius came in.

Let me pause real quick and also insert that another expectation that always seems to elude me is reviewing previous memory work while working on the current memory work.  What I discovered was that as we began our next year, by finishing out the old prescript book, my daughter was reviewing her history memory work naturally!

We finished up the book this year and I think I'll buy last cycle's book to continue the reviewing while working on our handwriting.  If it's your first year in CC, this won't work so well, but if you fall behind in your first year using the prescripts, know that you can just keep going and use your time in prescripts as a review in the next year.when failures turn into blessings

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