Child-led Learning Fits Charlotte Mason?

It seems that the Lord is really speaking to me about stepping out of my ‘teacher’ control mode, let go of my preconceived ideas and allow my child to make her own connections, direct her own learning and follow her own approach.

It started in November last year.  I was planning my youngest daughter’s new year of schooling.  I had prayed.  I had a few ideas lined up and my blank Overview Planner sheet on my clipboard.  I simply asked Miss. L11 what she would like to learn.  She enthusiastically requested that we do more Science, and she especially wanted to do experiments.  She asked to study Astronomy, do Nature Study, learn Geography, and participate in Sketch Tuesday. She selected the Bible study program and themes she wanted to do this year.  I had created an amazing Unit Study/ Lapbook/ activity pack for Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne which she was excited to start with me. (I can’t wait to share more with you all… but that will have to wait for another post! ) Around the World1

As we started our official homeschool lessons, I laid out her course materials and gave her a brief “bird’s-eye view” of each subject.  She was so thrilled that she jumped off her chair and ran to hug me.  “Thank you! Thank you, Mommy!” she kissed me.  I sat stunned by her response.

Now, several months later, we are having a blast!  She does her own Science experiments!  Sometimes 3 or 4 a day … sometimes every day!  I have had to scratch around for more books and ideas.  It is such fun!  Now and then I ask her to make “proper” scientific notebook notes, but mostly she enthusiastically tells me what she noticed and discovered. Science Experiments

In our Bible times, I have discovered that she enjoys preparing the lessons, like our Easter hands-on activities.Easter15

For Art, she  decides which painting she narrates, and which artwork and medium she paints.

Some days we do not have any tangible evidence of our lessons.  There are days with no notebook pages!  But, boy, we are learning!

Despite all my fun suggestions in the Around the World in 80 Days Unit Study, I noticed that my daughter became rather lack-luster.  She wanted to act out the story.  She had suggested this, but I had ignored her … yep, I’m still in control.  I wanted to do my activities.  When I finally agreed to let her act out a scene, we  had an incredible time!

  • We “climbed out of the steamer ship (we got off her bed where we sat reading in the sunshine)
  • clambered into a row-boat (sat in her rocking chair) and rowed to the quay (we had looked up this new word and listened to the correct pronunciation on my smart phone dictionary beforehand)
  • We maneuvered our way through the crowds on the wharfs (and she described all the characters and different people in the story who were “in our way”)
  • Finally we made it to the British Consulate (at the kitchen doorway) and we had our passports visaed (she pasted the stamps in the passport)

Our story had come alive — literally!

Working one-on-one with my child allows for any and every kind of creative flow.  It has made our school times absolutely amazing — way more than I could have invented!

I loved Celeste’s post –  “The Living Page :: How to Be an “Awakener and the mother’s role in “masterly inactivity”

Charlotte Mason says:

“‘Masterly Inactivity.’––A blessed thing in our mental constitution is, that once we receive an idea, it will work itself out, in thought and act, without much after-effort on our part; and, if we admit the idea of ‘masterly inactivity’ as a factor in education, we shall find ourselves framing our dealings with children from this standpoint, without much conscious effort.” (Volume 3, p. 28)

Celeste expounds, “So masterly inactivity is something the teacher does, not the student.  It’s a small but important distinction.  The teacher restrains herself and stands aside, letting the child make his own connections, form his own ideas, and progress toward self-education.  Outside of lessons, that means the teacher leaves the child to his own interests and play for part of the day; during lessons, the teacher makes a point of stepping back at times to let the child take possession of the ideas presented for himself.
She is not involved in the digestion of ideas; she doesn’t do the child’s mind-work for him.  She doesn’t force connections–she lets the student build his own.  She doesn’t coax, cajole, bribe, or use other methods of persuasion or suggestion.  She makes sure to let the child alone when necessary.  She doesn’t try to determine and guide every part of the student’s learning experience in order to get a particular result.  She must practice self-control to keep herself from intervening.”
It seems that unschooling in the sense of delight-directed, child-led learning is not such a frightful concept!  It fits the Charlotte Mason approach perfectly!  The more I learn as we go along this amazing homeschool journey, and the more I trust the Lord’s leading, the less it looks like school-at-home-taught-by-ex-school-teacher-mom … and it is wonderful!  For everyone!
I realize that I must simply facilitate my children.  I need to know their learning styles and strengths, and provide the necessary tools, mediums, methods, skills and opportunities for them to develop and discover in their own way.
Although I charter the course, set up the goals, create some of the activities, I need to allow my child to steer the ship, pull into unscheduled ports and scenic stops, spend longer here, and move on quicker there.  We may even toss stuff overboard that weighs us down!
Wishing you the very happiest letting-go!
Blessings,

Easter Pictures & Hands-on Activities

Here are some Easter hands-on activities inspiration ideas!

I wanted to involve my daughter fully in our Easter Bible readings.  She LOVES reading her comic-style Illustrated Bible Story New Testament book.  It is very visual and makes the stories “come alive”.  I wanted to add loads of hands-on activities. 

I created some Easter picture collages.  Easter12These are suitable for middle school children and contain some images that may not be suitable for young children.

Instead of me secretly preparing the lesson activities, I asked her to join me and gather all the objects we needed.  (Note to self: This is an amazing motivation!  She loved helping create the lessons with me!)  I wanted her to use all her senses and physically act out as many of the scriptures of Easter as we could.

These are the items we collected for each theme:

  • palm leaf – we were both surprised how huge the branch was!
  • perfume – perfume essence & spraying alcohol mixed in a bottle with cork and candles to seal the bottle
  • coins – in a little bag
  • wine & bread – for Last Supper and communion.  Matzos is unleavened, pierced bread.
  • bowl, water & towel – to wash feet
  • cock’s feather and sound recording of cock crowing
  • thorns twisted into a crown – rather painful job!
  • whip – a cat-of-nine tails with leather strips
  • purple cloak - purple cloth and sticks to make lots
  • hammer & nails – hammer into thick plank of wood
  • vinegar & sponge – taste the bitter vinegar
  • stone & cave – sealed with some clay

Some of our first activities were lovely.  Waving a long (taller than her very tall brother) beautiful palm branch and singing praise songs was wonderful.  Easter1

Making perfume and sealing the bottle with melted candle wax was soothing and it smelt delightful.  We acted out Mary’s act of worship; anointing Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair.  Intimate. Easter

We tasted the bread and wine.  The matzos bread is pierced and striped, just like Jesus’ whipped and pierced body.  The red wine reminded us of His blood.  Reverence and deep gratitude filled our hearts. Easter3

We washed one another’s feet. Just like Jesus did to His disciples. Humbling and so lovely. Easter10

Then things became tough.  Count out 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave. Judas was mean.  While Mary broke the seal and poured out anointing oils worth a man’s whole years wages, Judas snatched up 30 silver coins.  Worship breaks open and pours out, selfishness takes for itself. Easter2

We went to our chicken coop and found a lovely long rooster feather.  The rooster strutted about with his hens.  Did we hear him crow?  Could we also betray our Lord?  Would we cry bitter tears?  Somber reflection. Easter4

And then the scenes with Jesus’ scourging.  Painful.  See the thorns in the leather?  A cat-of-nine has bone or stones tied to the leather strips to inflict greatest pain and injury.  Our minds reel.  Hear the whip as it snaps in the air … 39 times!  Exhausting.  How could Jesus survive?  Easter8

Thorns pricked us as we made the crown and really hurt!  Easter5

Hammering in nails into wood it a tough job.  Bang! Bang!  Imagine nailing through hands and feet?  How awful!  Our hearts ached. Easter9

We cast lots for the robe with our sticks.  If you win, you take the piece of cloth and feel its rich texture.  When I win, it is all mine. It is so easy to be callous and greedy, and all the while our Lord hangs, suffering. Collages1

Now Jesus cries out and someone gives Him vinegar.  Yech!  It tastes bitter.  No one can drink that stuff! Easter6

Finally we made a small tomb using a rock that had a cave-like shape.  We found a flat stone to fit in front.  Pressing some clay around the flat stone, we sealed the tomb. It is dark inside. Closed.  It is finished. Easter7

For families with younger children, I created simple Easter Flags. Easter14Each flag covers the same themes as the activities above, and young children can do many of the hands-on activities.  Be sensitive and adapt your lessons to suit your child’s age and temperament.  Your children can cut out, color-in and hang folded over ribbon as bunting.

Join us for your Easter Bible studies.  Here are your free downloads ~

Blessings in this Easter season,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Trial K5 Learning

I seldom promote products and have never done reviews, but an invitation to try K5 Learning caught my attention.

Home

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

After receiving this invitation, I popped over to check out their website and I was very impressed.  Their demo videos looked so inviting and their approach and methodology seemed excellent.

My initial thoughts were that my youngest is already in grade 5 & 6 and up in most her subjects and that this might not fit into our homeschool schedule, but their Math Facts heading caught my eye and I thought that this would be worth doing the free trial.  They explain ~

“Learn math facts online and say goodbye to counting fingers”

“Recalling math facts efficiently is critical because it allows a student to study more advanced math topics without being bogged down by simple calculations.”

So, I hope to use K5 Learning with my youngest and trust that she will both enjoy and learn a lot more than she does with my Mental Maths fun worksheets and Bananagram spelling games.

For more information please go to http://www.k5learning.com/.  I will be back with my honest review in 6 weeks time.

Blessings,

Homeschool Infographic

HomeschoolingIt would be interesting to see South African homeschooling stats as compared to their government schooled counterparts …

Pop over to http://www.bestmastersineducation.com/ for other interesting infographics and homeschooling posts.

All in Grace,

Teaching 24 Hour Clock

My visual learner needed a 24 hour clock with colored indicators for am or pm and the 24 hour numbers.  She and I discussed how we could show the difference between daytime and nighttime on a clock and came up with this idea ~

24 hour clock

To start, begin inside the clock at 12 midnight. Follow around the thin blue circle until it becomes orange, indicating day time. Continue following around the thin inner orange circle until you reach 12 noon.  Now slide outside the clock continuing around the broad orange circle for the 24 hour daytime hours.  At 18 hours, the broad outer circle turns blue, indicating the start of nighttime.

Place this clock inside a plastic protector and use whiteboard markers to write the digital times and the matching clock hands. My youngest daughter and I enjoy taking turns in drawing the clock hands to show the times and writing digital times!

There are separate hour, minute and second hands which you could attach to the clock with a split pin.

Download and enjoy this middle school maths activity ~ 24 hour clock.

  • Khan Academy has fabulous maths video lessons and exercises to teach the time.
  • Maths is Fun has lovely clear images and explanations on clocks.
  • Maths Games.org includes lots of different times and clock games and activities.

Blessings,

DIY Folded Paper Boxes

My youngest daughter wanted to sort and classify her sea shell collection.  This was a great Nature Study and Science activity, but we needed several smallish boxes to store the different shell types.  She displayed her shell collection on our Nature Study tray.

6-Nature study1

We quickly made these paper boxes.

The nifty, practical aspects of these folded paper boxes are:

  • You can make them in different sizes … so they can nest in each other or form a top and a base to close your box!
  • The boxes can easily be stored flat, unfolded and ready for the next occasion.
  • You can use decorative craft paper or card stock for really pretty gift boxes or display boxes.

Here are the instructions and a free downloadFolded Paper Boxes

You will need:

  • square paper or card stock 28cm X 28cm
  • scissors
  • glue/ cellotape/ stapler

Fold your paper:

  • Fold the square horizontally in half & re-open.
  • Fold the square vertically in half & re-open.
  • Fold the bottom left corner and the top right corner to the center of the square, forming opposite triangles.Paper box 1
  • Fold both the newly made folds to the middle & re-open these folds.

Paper box 2

  • Cut along all 4 of the new fold lines, from the paper edge up to the edges of the triangles.Paper box 3
  • Take the top left corner and the bottom right corner and fold the corners into the center.Paper box 4
  • Fold again in half, so that the last fold is at the end of the cut lines.
  • Fold all 4 pointed strips to form folds in line with the 2 middle double folded pieces.Paper box 5

Assemble your paper box:

  • Fold the pointed flaps around the outside of the 2 center folds.
  • Insert the corners of the center folded piece into the diagonal fold of the flap. This part is a little fiddly, so mom, you may have to help here!Paper box 6
  • Tape/ glue or staple the outside overlapping flaps to the box.

Enjoy this craft project!

Blessings,

Amazing Arrows

Long ago, when I studied remedial education, I learnt about the arrow chart. This chart trains children in spacial awareness and directionality, and it is extremely effective. Arrow Chart

Free DownloadArrow Chart

Back in the day, as a grade 6 & 7 public school teacher, I conducted my own research using the arrow chart for 2 of my 3 English classes (I taught 3 homogeneous classes the same lessons).  Classes 1 and 2 performed a few random rows of arrow movements, then they sat and wrote their spelling test. The 3rd class simply entered the class, sat and wrote the same spelling test. I recorded their results on the back of my board. By the end of the month, the 3rd class was clearly lagging in every result. When they saw the results, they begged me to do the arrow exercises with them. Their improvement was instant and very encouraging. It takes just a few minutes. Homeschool2 It is fun! It is physical.  It’s effective. It is simple.  It is mentally stimulating.  It is amazing! These exercises are especially effective before maths classes, handwriting lessons, early reading sessions and before any test.  I found that these activities  help “center” the child, especially after a break, or after outdoors activities, when they need to settle down to concentrate on their books.  While it is fun and stimulating, it helps the child to focus on the next task at hand.  Children with attention deficit disorders especially benefit from these arrows activities in between lessons, or when they are distracted.

How it works:

  1. Place the chart in view, orientated randomly. (Any side is on top.)
  2. Describe what action the child must do in the same direction of the arrow. (Suggested actions listed below.)
  3. Start on any row.  Start beginners on the shorter rows.  Always start from the left and go across to the right.  Once the child gains confidence, start some rows from the top and work down to the bottom of the row.  ( I almost never work right to left, or bottom to top.)
  4. When working one-on-one with a child, the parent/ teacher can simply point along the row.  Once the child gains confidence, simply point to the starting arrow in a row and the child progresses along the row at their own pace, performing quick, clear movements.
  5. When working with a group, the teacher/ parent must tap each arrow with a pointer. The children must be trained to execute the movement instantly, quickly and then stand ready for the next tap on the following arrow.
  6. Once a row is complete, point to the next random row.  I often turn the chart around so that the child does not anticipate the direction or row to follow.

Suggested movements: You will need: a foam square or a small pillow, about 6 bean bags, a small plastic chair, an inflatable beach ball & a hula hoop.  Use your mini trampoline too, if you have one! 

Ideally, the movement should be a large physical movement, especially where the child’s whole body changes position:  (Remember the concept of teaching “big before small“?)

  • Stand on a foam square and jump off the square and immediately back into the square ready for the next arrow – jump in front/ behind/ left/ right.
  • Stand in a hula hoop on the ground and turn and lean down and touch the ground with both hands & immediately stand up – touch in front/ behind/ left/ right. (They could also jump out of the hoop, and back in, instead of touching the ground with both hands.)
  • Place a small plastic chair in a clear space and the child must sit ready to move.  They jump up, take a few quick steps to the front/ back/left or right of the chair and then quickly sit down again.
  • On a mini trampoline mark the center with a small masking tape cross and place a small arrow pointing in all 4 directions on the rim of the trampoline. The child stands in the center, on the cross, and jumps forward/ back/ left or right according to the arrow chart and immediately back to the center cross.

Good movements should include crossing the body’s mid-line to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain:

  • Stand in a clear space and quickly stretch both arms straight up/ down/ left or right.  When stretching arms left or right, the one arm will stretch cross the whole body.
  • Sit on a pillow or foam square on the ground and hold a box of bean bags in their lap. The child must take the bean bag in the right hand and place it in front/ behind/ left or right on the ground next to the pillow.  They can alternate doing a row using the left hand and then a row using the right hand.

Homeschool

Throwing and catching is fun too!

  • The child has the bean bags and throws them in front/ behind/ left or right of a target like a foam square/ a hula hoop/ a bucket.
  • Draw a large square with chalk on a wall.  The child holds an inflatable beach ball and throws it to the position up/ down/ left or right of the square on the wall.  The ball will bounce back and the child needs to catch it again.  (I place the chart on the wall near the chalk square and point to the arrows in the row.)
  • A partner/ parent or sibling stands in front of the standing child. Place the arrow chart on the ground in front of the child.  The parent tosses one bean bag to the child who catches it and tosses it to the front/ back/ left/ right of his feet.  He then quickly stands ready to catch and toss the bean bag for the next arrow. When the row is complete, he picks up each bean bag and tosses it back to the parent.

For quick sessions, especially for groups, call the children to stand up next to their chairs and use both arms to move quickly straight up/down/ left or right.  I turn the chart around a few times, then I hold it where the group can see it, and randomly point to a row.  I usually only do 2 to 3 rows in a session.

DON’T speak.  I simply point.  This is a visual activity.  (But it can be easily made into an auditory message, if the parent calls out the direction and the child moves.)

My youngest child, now 11-years, still LOVES these quick, fun sessions!  Not only is her concentration focused, all her skills show a marked improvement. Handwriting speed and control is noticeably better too!

I highly recommend these amazing arrows.

Feel free to ask questions and share your experiences with this arrow chart with other readers in the comments below.

All in grace,

Notice Board – Latin Words

Today I want to share a teeny-tiny “extra” we squeeze into our week …
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50 Common Latin Words

Part of our new homeschool notice board, which includes clipboards for our Current Affairs, Nature Study and Bible Verse displays, I tucked in a small clip to hold our week’s new Latin word & definition card.

We don’t actually “do” the classical homeschooling approach, nor do we study Latin, but Latin phrases often occur in classic literature, movies, legal discussions and everyday speech, that I felt it would be a good addition to our homeschool studies.

Quite simply, we read the new word, discuss the meaning and use the new word/s in a sentence, and then display the word/s for a week.

Much to my amazement, more than a year ago, when I first introduced these commonly used Latin words, my eldest daughter who was not participating in our lessons, learnt a whole bunch of these words just by passing us as we discussed the Latin words or by reading the display.  It is part of an enriching learning environment, and it does penetrate, even when concepts are presented very informally.

50 Common Latin Words

Here is your free download ~ 50 Common Latin Words Cards

CurrClick has free Latin & Greek Root words flash cards suited for middle schoolers & high schoolers this week.

All in grace,

Notice Board – Famous Artists & Composer

Here is the last post featuring our new homeschooling notice board ~

Famous Artist & Composer

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Our Famous Artist studies have been really rich and rewarding.  This year I selected several famous artists, as well as some featured in Patti’s posts on All Things Bright and Beautiful. (Patti prepares a weekly art, music and poetry study with links & sources – all done for you!)

After I read a brief biography as an introduction to a famous artist, we chose one famous art work and study it quietly (either in an art book, a postcard-sized printout, online, or as an image saved as a screen saver).  I encourage my children to try re-create the painting as a detailed, visual, mental image and ask them to tell me what they noticed in the painting, and importantly, what feelings the colors, textures, objects, placement, space, and details in the painting created.  My kids enjoy creative discussions about the mood of the painting, or how it made them feel. I encourage them to form a personal connection with the art work.

Sometimes we may do an art appreciation lesson where I may trace an outline of the picture and they can paint or color it for themselves.  We also jot and paste a thumbnail of the artist in our Book of Centuries.  We record the artist and we sometimes refer to my Art Era Timelines. Usually I am quite happy that they simply recognize the artist and the famous art pieces.

Our music appreciation lessons are very informal.  We simply listen to one of “VOX Music Masters” CD’s, which tell the musician’s life story over his music, while we paint or sketch, or I play a featured music piece each week. Sometimes we watch a YouTube video of a famous music selection.  My children enjoy occasionally filling in a music appreciation notebook page.  You can download all my Famous Musician pages free.

My aim is to instill a love of beautiful music in their hearts and minds.  It is easy – use the hard work and efforts of others like Barb of Harmony Fine Arts.  She has wonderful free Fine Arts plans!

I want to encourage you to conduct your art and music appreciation lessons very informally.  Surround your children with rich, beautiful music and art and cultivate a wonderful fine arts appreciation in your homeschooling!

Much grace,

Previous Notice Board posts include ~