Solar System Comics ~ Jupiter & Saturn

During our Apologia Astronomy studies this year we have been amazed at the incredible “real outer worldly” astronomy happenings!

This week the Philae landed on a comet called 67P!  We have followed its progress the past few months and I was surprised how excited we both became when it actually landed 2 days ago!  What an outstanding epic journey so far!

Mission facts from BBC News

Philae lander

  • Travelled 6.4 billion km (four billion miles) to reach the comet
  • Journey took 10 years
  • Planning for the journey began 25 years ago

Comet 67P

  • More than four billion years old
  • Mass of 10 billion tonnes
  • Hurtling through space at 18km/s (40,000 mph)
  • Shaped like a rubber duck

We continued our own Solar System studies and here are our Jupiter & Saturn comic strips ~

Solar System Jupiter 001 Solar System Jupiter 002

Solar System Saturn 001 Solar System Saturn 002

And if you missed our earlier Solar System Comics, here they are ~

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

These comic strips are actually such fun that one doesn’t realize that they are chock full of interesting facts and information!  Print them out for your kids to color in and read and enjoy!

Blessings,

 

How to Fit in Creative Hands-on Ideas

Commenting on my recent post “Make Memories with Hands-on Activities” a reader asked ~

How do you do it all and where do you get all your creative ideas from?”

As many other readers may wonder and ask similar questions, I thought I would answer in a full post.

Firstly, I DON’T “do it all”!  I think this post may describe my failings and fears of not getting it all done!  But here are a few simple strategies to plan and add hands-on activities and to create fun learning opportunities in our homeschooling experiences.

1.  Plan it 

Start with your year plan or the book index.  Look over all the main topics and themes in the schedule that may provide interesting activities and highlight them.  Add a few days to a week, or even longer for your activities, depending on the activity.  Usually I source (or create) a lapbook and a few quick hands-on activities for each theme.  We don’t always do them all, but I like to have some options planned.

Essentially I extend our 1-year schedule to 18 months or even 2 years.  I have NEVER regretted taking our time with extra hands-on activities, but have always regretted rushing on when there was still a sparkle of interest and enjoyment.  None on my children have ever fallen behind academically.  Carry on with the 3′Rs (Maths, Spelling, Phonics/Reading, Handwriting) according to their normal grade schedules and simply extend your core.  At first, you may feel anxious, but don’t worry.  You will find your rhythm and flow.

2. Pinterest  Pinterest Homeschool

Where did I find my ideas?  In my early years, I simply Googled the topics and themes for projects, plans, ideas and activities.  These days, Pinterest is a fantastic resource!  Type in your search topic and pin away! (Here are my Homeschool, Art, Famous Artists, Bible, Nature, Maths, English, Printables and Science boards.)

Practical Tip:  

While I search, I use Microsoft OneNote (here’s an online tutorial) to collect all my ideas so that I can work with them offline. Other folk swear by Evernote.  (Read the comparison between them here and here. ) OneNoteWhatever works for you is fine! 

I love OneNote because I can easily create tabbed notebooks and sub-tabbed pages.  OneNote automatically adds link and web addresses whenever you copy text or images.  I especially like the screen clip insertions as it gives me quick visuals of my searches.  OneNote  allows you to attach files, pages and portions from the Internet to the notepage, so everything is in one place and saved automatically. Later, I play around with my Internet finds and create my projects and pages.

3. Print & Prepare

After collecting my hands-on activity ideas, I create my pages and then print everything out and prepare the work.  After many years of homeschooling I have found all these time-saving tips for doing lapbooks that really work. We save time and avoid much frustration if we cut, fold and pack all the minibooks and store them in Ziplock bags, or better still, paste all the minibooks into the file folders ready for our lapbook sessions.  I file my lapbook planner with the index page and notes, all ready to whip out when we need them.

4. Promote it

Usually our hands-on activities are the best part of our theme.  My kids love to know what hands-on activities they will do with each new theme or topic. Introducing a theme with a hands-on activity is so stimulating!  But if we need to first do read alouds, narrations and notes, then the hands-on activity is a wonderful reward to complete the work.  If interest flags, or kids are tired, sick or unmotivated, hands-on activities revives our days.

5. Provide options  Science experiments2

Children have unique interests and learning styles.  I find that younger children need more physical activities, while older kids may prefer creative activities. One of my children is very shy, while the other loves to act out scenes and present puppet shows and speeches.  One is very visual, while the other loves listening.  One is very left-brained and logical, the other very fluid and right-brained.  Find activities that serve the individuals as well as the group.  Co-op with other families for added hands-on excitement!

When teaching several children together, (and I highly recommend moms combine their close-aged children on the same core) it is good to have options and allow the kids choose what activity they would prefer to do.  My kids notebook in individual ways, uniquely combining notebook pages with their minibooks, and I try to create pages and projects that are open-ended and flexible.

Many of our activities have started with an idea which the kids developed and fulfilled in ways that I did not necessarily anticipate.  The more I homeschool, the more I realize that my kids love to take an idea and run with it!  I am often simply a facilitator!  More and more, I am learning to let go and allow my kids to lead & take charge of their learning experience.

Whether your hands-on activities are “extras” or essentials in your homeschooling, please plan time for them, take your time and enjoy these homeschool moments!

Blessings,

 

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,