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Learning Through Stories                         April 20, 2011


Nancy Carter Picture

As a child, I loved reading and stories. (Actually, I still do!) That 30 minutes after lunch in elementary school was one of my favorite parts of the day. We would all lay our heads on our desks as our teacher read books to us. Of course, I also loved when the librarian read to us, or when my mom read book after book to me, or when my dad and granddad would sit around telling stories. And I can even remember thinking how smart God was when I learned that Jesus used parables to teach people important lessons instead of just preaching to them.


There is just something about a well-told story that sticks with you, but I still remember being somewhat skeptical that my children could actually "learn" history by reading real books. I'm glad that I was open to giving it a try, though, because it has definitely made learning come alive and much more pleasant for the boys and me.


One of the best-known storytellers, Jim Weiss, is going to join us for the Schoolhouse Expo in May for "The Heart of Education: Teaching Character and Facts Through Stories." Join us to hear how you can choose, and bring to life, stories that teach facts across all subjects of the curriculum while offering character-building, life-affirming lessons to your child. 

Now drop everything and find a good book to read with your kids!

Enjoy every minute,


~Nancy Carter 

Nancy Carter
THM Editor





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Deborah WuehlerMercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor

Storytelling is not just for teachers, but it comes naturally for many children as well. How many times a day do I listen to the "story" of what happened outside, or the story of the book they just read, or the story of the neighbor's dog, or how the turkeys were sitting on top of the cars and houses. We live stories, we tell stories, and we listen to stories. It's who we are.


Adding stories to our homeschooling is just a natural fit. I tell my children stories of my growing-up years. I tell them stories of how God has answered prayer. I tell them the true stories of biblical events. I read them stories with good morals and biblical analogies. I may even have them tell those stories back to me. That is the simple explanation of the word "narration." When a child can tell you the story that you just read, you will see what insight he received and how well he comprehended the information.


If you have young children who have a hard time writing book reports, stories, etc., have them narrate to you and type it up for them. This gives them confidence to continue and separates the joy of telling and writing stories from the mechanics of getting it on paper. They will eventually learn to put the mechanics of handwriting to the process of creating stories as they get a little older, but in the meantime, you just may save yourself and them many tears of frustration.


Storytelling incorporates all learning styles, and our brains retain so much more when we learn a concept through a story. Jesus understood this, as he told many parables and stories. He made things easy to understand, yet deep enough that often they required further thought and meditation. His Word gives us much on which to "meditate day and night."


Don't you just love a good story? We all do. Get those children into the best story of all-the true history of God's Word-and see them blossom under His blessing. When I read the Bible to my children, I do not tell them they are Bible stories; rather, I assert that these are not stories, but they are the real, true history of what happened in our past and what will happen in our future.


That most important true story starts like this, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth . . ." And the story ends like this, "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." You know what comes in the middle of that story? The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ-the literal crux of the whole story of mankind. Now, that is the best true story there ever was or ever will be. Let's make sure we tell that story to our children this very week.




P.S. Here are a few Easter stories and activities to share with your children:


Animated Easter story:

Life of Jesus mini book activity:

Jesus Rose coloring page:

Jesus Is Risen activity pages:


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Gena Suarez

Hey from Gena

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS   


Learning through stories-good topic. When I was a little girl, my dad used to tell me lots of stories about his childhood. Some of MY most vibrant childhood memories are of him telling me about HIS. I would listen wide-eyed to his tales of little Jimmy Fink, his cousin, and their various childhood shenanigans. My dad's middle name is Russell, but he told me it was Rascal. And I think I believe him. You can imagine his playful mindset as he told me all these tales.


How come I remember listening to those, almost 40 years later? Why don't I recall the math lessons I had in school or the timeline of American history or even the conversations I had with students over "coloring time" (busy work!) in second grade? Well, I think this goes along with what we talk about so often here at

The Old Schoolhouse. If you make learning interesting and fun, it'll stick. Kids remember what they're actively engaged in. If their eyes spring open with interest, particularly if you are walking down memory lane with them, chances are, they'll remember it later. Maybe even 40 years later.


So talk to them. Tell them about your younger years. Get involved with what makes them bristle with excitement. If they're enthralled, they're learning; they're getting it.


Have a great week-get some storytime in about YOU. It'll be cool for your kids to tell you 40 years from now that they remember it with fondness.





Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


I'm writing from a hotel in Blue Earth, Minnesota. The Familyman Mobile is sitting in a giant garage waiting for a part to be installed tomorrow.


The story began this morning when we left a blustery Walmart parking lot in Albert Lea, Minnesota. In fact, it looked like a blizzard outside. Yuck.


Anyway, we were on a small detour to see Mount Rushmore while traveling southish to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Things were going well, and my wife had just gotten off the phone with her mother. As she shared all the details of a cold and great weekend in Duluth, I heard her say, "Yeah, we had a few problems . . . but they're minor compared to breaking down."


Three minutes after hanging up, the RV engine stopped. Long story short: We inched our way toward the shop that was 17 miles away, dropped the family off at McD's (since the shop informed us there was no waiting room), and then stalled permanently 1.8 miles from the shop on a two-lane, no-shoulder road. The tow truck came, pulled me with a big strap, and figured out that the fuel shutoff solenoid was broken.


Now, we're watching HGTV on motel television while feasting on pizza. Hopefully we'll be back on the road by the time you read this.


That's our story, and we learned that God can be trusted . . . no matter what.


Those are the REAL stories, and those are the REAL lessons.


Enjoy your story,



P.S. Check out my RV blog pictures.




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It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant 


Read-aloud time was sacred at our house, not only when our children were young, but on through the difficult literature of high school. When the children were young, Daddy would read the Chronicles of Narnia aloud. Every now and then, he would interject something like, "Then Aslan went to the refrigerator . . . " and pause ever so slightly. The children, listening with wide eyes, would hoot, "No, Daddy, Aslan didn't have a refrigerator!"


"Oh, my mistake," Greg would say and continue reading. This produced an attitude of listening actively in our children. They were always making sure Daddy was staying on script, but in the meantime, our point was made. What Daddy was reading was important to hear.


Stories connect with all of us. The relational element draws us in closer, to find out what is going to happen to the characters that become so real. Whether it is fiction or the most important of literature, the Bible, children learn best through stories. As there is variety in literature, there is variety among those who tell stories. The best stories are told by the author himself, speaking with his own voice, heart, experience, and thoughts. That is why children need to read real books and hear them read.


When children read or listen to real books, they are doing what Ruth calls the mind-to-mind connection. The children hear straight from the heart of the author. That is why the selection of literature is so important. Scripture tells us that our thoughts need to be fixed on what is lovely, pure, honorable, just, and true. That would exclude reading accounts of brutal leaders or pagan times to young children especially, and being very careful that even older children read biographies, literature, and accounts of history that are uplifting. Teach with wholesome stories. Your children's thinking depends on it.


~ Debbie 

Read more from Debbie at


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Contest Central  

For the month of April, 2011   


History of Holidays


Each year I try to make some attempt to incorporate holiday themes into our lesson plans, but I rarely do anything that leaves any real, lasting impression. Very little of these mini-units could even qualify as teaching. And so I was excited to find Amy Pak's unit entitled History of Holidays from Homeschool in the Woods ( This CD-ROM allows you to make an actual lesson for holidays instead of the typical coloring page or crossword puzzle, and the lessons are more fun than any word puzzle ever thought of being. Each holiday lesson shares history and actual hands-on activities that can be enjoyed by all ages. Best of all, it is created by Amy Pak, who is well-known for her high-quality art and educational helps. The activity creations aren't the kind that get stuck to the refrigerator and then discarded a month later; these are treasures for notebooking and for keepsakes. . . .


Most lessons include one or two pages of text, providing background information and history for the holiday to be studied. The Christmas unit includes four pages of text, and these include a chart comparing Old Testament verses of prophecy with New Testament verses that fulfill those prophecies. Each holiday is beautifully shared, and though the study is geared toward elementary-level students, I had students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade who thoroughly enjoyed the lessons. . . .


Read the rest of the review here. Win this CD-ROM for your family!



Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject, "History of Holidays" for a chance to win* this CD-ROM!


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Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the April Contest Central contest running from April 1, 2011, to April 30, 2011. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Writer Guidelines and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.

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