Make Memories with Hands-on Activities

Revisiting earlier posts ~

Way back in 2009, when I re-used our Sonlight Core 1&2 World History with my youngest 2 kids, I ignored the time-frame suggested in the Sonlight schedule and followed it as a mere guideline.  Adding hands-on activities to our themes made homeschool come alive and filled our school day with fun!  

But, more importantly, it really helped my kids learn.  In fact, when I asked them what they remember of their studies, they mostly only remember the hands-on activities!

I am re-using Core 1&2 with my younger 2 girls and decided to relax, stretch the schedule and do hand-on activities when we could this year.

Buiilding castles

building castles

The girls have made models and built castles.  They have created interesting project pages.  They have dressed up and acted out scenes from read alouds.  They have cooked and baked and then ate foods from the country or era.  We have visited places and museums.

Dressing the part

Dressing the part

During school they have played online educational games and they have created interesting notebook pages.  We have made lapbooks for as many themes as we could find or create.

Mapping World War II

Mapping World War II

These activities have been the highlights!  I highly recommend that you allow more time to ‘flesh out’ the schedule!  How can one spend only 1 day covering Japan?  Or take just 2 days to enjoy the Knights and Castles?

Sonlight has offered me a great framework and I have enjoyed this approach SO much more than my first year of homeschooling tick-the-box-stick-to-the-schedule approach!

Life is the learning journey!

Especially while you are teaching your young children, even up to junior high, add and include hands-on activities!  Make time for it!  It is an investment in your children’s learning experience that will last!

Blessings,

Sketch Tuesday ~ Construction Site

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is ~

Draw something you would find on a construction site

My youngest sketched and painted her favorite characters from the Lego movie!

Sketch Tuesday Construction 001

I loved her detailing and shading!

See you at the slide show!

Blessings,

Handwriting Tips

Copywork pages

Revisiting earlier posts ~

Teaching and practicing handwriting can be simple and free, and lessons are relevant and short.  Here are some handwriting tips from our early homeschooling days ~

Our free handwriting program is simple laminated charts.  You can use your own fonts and make your own charts.

When my children start learning their letter formation, they trace over the letter with a whiteboard marker. Later, when they practice handwriting, they use the chart for reference while they are copying.  They prop the chart up in a paper holder, which is very helpful in saving space on the table while we all work.)

Handwriting arrowsMy 9-year-old has already learnt her print and has recently mastered her cursive chart.  She now practices her cursive handwriting daily on copywork pages I have made. She uses famous quotes from the history time period we are studying, or she writes the Bible memory verses for that week.  All dictation work  is an opportunity to practice handwriting skills.

The children first used pencil for all written work, but after their confidence grew, they received  their “pen licence“. I have found the best results when my children use mechanical pencils.  These pencils usually have lovely soft plastic grips and their points never become dull and blunt, causing fat, smudgy writing.  My youngest child uses a very light hand pressure and so she needs to work with a soft 2B pencil lead.  My middle child presses harder and so she works best with normal HB pencil leads.

I recommend that children only use pens once they very seldom make mistakes as they all hate using Tipex.  My kids try very hard not to make mistakes, but if there is too much stress over mistakes, I recommend they continue with pencil work.  It is quite acceptable in homeschool, and with a little more practice, it will ease the transition.  Each child has their favourite pen.  One enjoys gel pens that flow smoothly, while the other prefers a light, very thin blue line and favors a specific brand ball point pen. I allow the older girls use glitter pens for copywork if they want to make it look special.

Children sometimes find purchased handwriting programs very boring and repetitive (endless rows of lines, curves or letters), but with copywork, they are writing “real writing“.  They enjoy recognizing excerpts from their read alouds, or quotations from their core readers.  Copying memory verses is an excellent way to learn the scripture verse.GradeOneLowerAndUppercaseChart

Copywork presents the need to know both the upper and lower case forms of each letter. This is handwriting practice in context.  First practice lower case, then upper case, and then the paired letters on the next chart.

Pop over to my Homeschool Tab for your handwriting lessons, tips and charts, and Free Pages Tab for  your copywork pages.  

Hope that these tips help you and your children enjoy short, sweet handwriting lessons!

Blessings,

Sketch Tuesday ~ Something Begins with A

Here are our Sketch Tuesday sketches for this week’s theme ~

Sketch “something that begins with A”

Sketch Tuesday A 001 Sketch Tuesday A 002

See you at the slide show!

Blessings,

Rights to free play

Revisiting an earlier post ~Lara colecting flowers

Charlotte Mason published Rights of Children as Persons (Vol.3 Chapter 4) and said, “Children should be free in their play“.

She advised parents not to crowd out their free time. She urged parents to give children the freedom to play and explore outdoors everyday.  Most importantly, she warned that parents should not meddle or organize children in their free play.

She said, “Boys and girls must have time to invent episodes, carry on adventures, live heroic lives, lay sieges and carry forts, even if the fortress be an old armchair; and in these affairs the elders must neither meddle nor make.

I have watched my younger girls play with creativity and enthusiasm.

They often act out scenes from our read alouds.

They love to re-enact DVDs and videos and stories, so we have been careful what they watch.  Classics like “Emma” by Jane Austen and “Little Women” are favorites.

Make believe

They love dress up clothes. A simple scarf transforms a child into endless characters.  Each season I try to make an outfit for them.  They have wonderful olden-days games with bonnets and pinafores, or an American Indian squaw dress, or a corset (here’s my free tutorial for a child’s “boned corset)) and long skirt.

Boys love capes, a bow and quiver with arrows, a cowboy hat and chaps, or belts with swords.  A hand-made knight’s armor is every young boy’s delight!

Nothing quite beats giving children a large piece of cloth to create a tepee or tent.

Very young children love to simply play (in safe surroundings with mom watching near) with water or sand (or both!)

We are fortunate to live in beautiful surroundings.  The girls love to pick flowers, collect egg shells that have fallen out of Cape Weaver nests and look for quartz stones.  We all love to find heart-shaped stones when we go on walks on the farm.  Their collection of feathers, stones, sticks and fascinating objects grows weekly.

Looking back at my innocent young children in these pictures, I can see how fast time flies. My youngest is now a young pre-teen, my middle child, a mature 15-year-old, already quite different and grown up!

Moms, may I urge you to relax and nurture their freedom and allow them creative white space.  Don’t over-plan their days.  Don’t add too many outings, excursions, activities, sports and cultural events to your schedule. Leave at least 1 day open in your week and stay at home.  Let them just play!

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”  He loves them for their innocence and simplicity.  We are granting them such a precious gift when we let the children play.

Blessings,

Alternatives

Not every homeschool day works well.  Some days are just blah, other days are bad.  There are stresses and struggles. And even when you have good days, they can become predictable and boring.

It helps to have some alternatives.20140318_115016

Switch subjects

We usually start with the basics; Bible, Maths, Spelling & Dictation, Language Arts, but sometimes we start with Core instead, or sit together for Read Aloud time, or start our Theme of the Day activity we normally do after lunch before the rest.  Beginning with a “fun” subject or activity can defuse any difficulty.  I often ask my youngest what subject she would like to start.  I give her a choice in leading her own homeschool day and so she doesn’t feel that I am dragging her through the motions.  She leads and feels motivated.

Sit somewhere new

Move outside, inside, under a tree, on the carpet, in the sunshine, in the shade, on the couch, in bed, outdoors, rearrange the study. By simply changing the learning environment, the whole atmosphere and one’s attitude changes.  And moms need this change as much as the kids!

When I was a senior primary school teacher I use to rearrange my classroom and seating for each new theme.  I created a coral island, a police academy, a courtroom, a puppet theater.  The buzz outside my classroom before the kids came in was electric!  I didn’t need to do much more to motive my kids!

Start a new read aloud

I have stated that reading aloud is the glue that holds homeschool together.  Sometimes, it may be the only homeschool we do when someone is sick, or when visitors stay, when the schedule is disrupted or when someone simply wants to give up.  If the current book doesn’t sparkle, gently lay it aside and go find a wonderful book that grips hearts and minds and takes you and your kids on a journey!

Get physical

Do something active!  A nature walk revives a weary spirit.  A good run, skipping with a rope, or jumping on a trampoline helps rev up the metabolism and energizes one.  Science experiments or hands on activities are stimulating and exciting. I often plan several alternative activities for each theme so that I can inspire fresh enthusiasm with a fun activity.  It’s amazing what a child can learn when creating a mobile or making a model.

Sing or do Fine Arts

Learning with catchy songs and music is fun and it sticks!  Our Geography Songs CD are a lifelong legacy!  Singing connects the group and music lifts the spirit.  Fine Arts (art, music, poetry etc.) inspire us, ease the soul and minister to our hearts.  Sometimes our Friday Fine Arts day is the only day that we love.

Don’t get stuck in a rut.  Switch things about a little and discover a new zeal and enthusiasm!

What alternatives worked for you?  Please share ideas in the comments.

Blessings,

Solar System Comics ~ Earth & Mars

The past weeks we studied earth and Mars.  In a wonderful “convergence” our Mars studies coincided with India’s Mangalyaan (also known as MOM Mars Orbiter Mission) and America’s Maven’s arrival in Mars orbit.  We have been following these space missions on BBC News.  Just today India and USA have signed an agreement on future co-operations at Mars. This kind of current affairs has made our Astronomy studies come alive!

As in our previous planet studies, Mercury & Venus, we each created a comic strip.  Here are our Earth and Mars comic strips~

Earth Solar System Comics 003 Earth Solar System Comics 004 Mars Solar System Comics 001 Mars Solar System Comics 002

Here is a free blank comic strip page download ~ Solar System Comic notebooking pages

Blessings,