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 ~

Sketch Tuesday ~ Tools & Crazy Fruit

Here are our sketches from the past 2 weeks …

Crazy Fruit ~ Prickly Pears

Crazy Fruit 001

Fix-It Tools

Tools 001 Tools 002

Barb of Harmony Fine Arts at Home says ~

This week’s assignment is due Monday, March 3, 2014.

Sketch something that starts with the letter L.

“All sketchers are welcome and there is no need to sign up. Send in your sketches in jpg format and mail them to: sketchtuesday@yahoo.com by Monday, March 3, 2014 and I will include them in Tuesday’s slideshow. Complete instructions are found by clicking the Sketch Tuesday tab at the top of my blog.”

See you at the slideshow!

Blessings,

Wonderful Works of William-Adolphe Bouguereau

This year we started our art appreciation with works from William Adolphe Bouguereau, a very successful French painter of the 1850′s Paris Salon.

His paintings are beautiful and my daughters have loved looking at his works.

William Adolphe Bouguereau picture studyWilliam Adolphe Bouguereau picture study1

My youngest daughter chose “The Hard Lesson” for our most recent art appreciation lesson.  She orally narrated her observations and agreed to paint her own copy of the painting.The Hard Lesson-001

Instead of drawing or tracing an outline of this artwork, I used Picasa‘s “pencil outline” editing option and created a very quick full-page illustration.The Hard Lesson

Miss.L11 painted her picture, while I used chalk pastels for my painting.  We listened to Brahms as we quietly painted.  An hour or less later, our paintings were finished and hanging on our Art Gallery wall (well, actually on our school room door).  Not a ‘hard lesson’ at all!

Art

And here are your free pages ~

William Adolphe Bouguereau biography page

May you enjoy this easy lesson in your Fine Arts!

Blessings and much grace,

Notice Board – Bible Verse

In my previous posts featuring our new homeschool notice board I shared details on our clipboards with Current Affairs and Nature Study.
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Today I would like to share a bit more about our ~

Bible Verses

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For many years we used the Simply Charlotte Mason memory verses card system. You can download memory verse cards that I have created ~ Free Pages – Bible

But this year, focusing on my youngest visual-learner, I trusted the Lord for a fresh way to present her memory verses.

Faithfully the Lord led me to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience who has started “The Jesus Project” and she says,

“Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us: The Jesus Project. We’d memorize the Soul Sustaining Words of Jesus. From the Gospel of John.

We’d start with just 24 verses (or you could choose just 12 of the 24) — all that would be rendered artistically, to make us see Beautiful in the Words of God. It would sort of be like this —  ”More Than Useful: He is Beautiful” Memory Prints… 24 verses that would chronologically unpack across the Gospel of John. We’ll memorize at least one verse from every chapter in the Gospel of John. Sometimes several verses from each chapter.”

In her amazing style, Ann created visually representative fonts, color and layout prints of each verse that emphasizes the scripture’s meaning. They are meant to be displayed.

I downloaded the large display format for our notice board and the small display for my child. I punched a hole in the corner of each verse and used a small plastic ring to keep them together. I have encouraged my child to review the memory verses daily – either on the notice board or in her file.

(Scroll down to the bottom of Ann’s post for the pdf file downloads.)

This year my youngest daughter asked me to re-use the Picture Smart Bible Homeschool Bible Curriculum program from www.bibledraw.com, focusing on the Old Testament.  (You can see my previous posts about our first experiences with this fantastic program here.)

Bible

May I quickly explain the Picture This! program ~

The lessons essentially form a single-page overview illustration of an entire book of the Bible.  Children draw, color in and label over a very light outline of the picture, as the lesson progresses.  The master copy and teacher’s notes are broken into sections with accompanying thumbnail illustrations and they have excellent cross-references, additional notes and wonderful life-application discussion suggestions.  They have linked each book of the Bible to reveal Christ which appear as a “star-burst” on each page. The kids love to draw and color as I read, and I love the pace of the lessons; slow yet detailed, full and flexible. When the page is completed, each child has a unique full-color page with a powerful, visual, symbolic summary of the book.

When I planned this year’s eclectic curriculum for my youngest daughter, I prayed and sought the Lord, then looked for suitable programs, themes or ideas.  I jotted some of these down and when I asked her what she  would like to study, she suggested the Picture This! OT program.  I asked her if she would like to memorize the Jesus Project memory verses with me this year.

Two seemingly separate approaches to our Bible Study lessons, but the Holy Spirit has marvelously joined them together in ways that bring tears to my eyes!  I call these moments “silver threads” where verses confirm and repeat, where His message is connected across the Old Testament and the New.

Here are two examples that blessed my heart and reassured me of the Lord’s intimate presence and provision in our homeschooling ~

When we started our Bible lesson the first week, we used our new memory verse prints and learnt  John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word …” and our first Picture This! lesson introduced the Bible as the miraculous living Word of God!

The next week, when I introduced our 2nd memory verse; “The Light shines in the darkness …”, we found the same message in our Picture This! lesson where it shows the Bible as the “light to our path and lamp to our feet” (Psalm 119:105). What amazed me was that we had stopped randomly in the previous Picture This! lesson and yet when we continued the next week, the Lord highlighted, connected and confirmed His Word across both Old and New Testaments.

I pray and trust that these precious memory verses and Bible lessons are faithfully written on my children’s hearts and minds so that the Holy Spirit can use His divine words to “light their way.”

May you be encouraged to see the divine hand of the Lord leading and guiding you in your homeschooling.

Blessings and much grace,

Notice Board – Nature Study

In my last post I featured the Current Affairs section of our new homeschool notice board.  In this post, I want to share about ~

Nature Study

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My Nature Study notice board includes 3 elements:

  1. Nature Photo of the Week
  2. Outdoor Hour Challenge month grid
  3. Nature Study tray display

Let me explain a bit more ~

Nature Photo of the Week

Barb of Handbook of Nature Study introduced aNature Photo of the Week.  She explains ~

“Nature photography is a huge favorite hobby of mine. Our home is filled with images from our travels near and far. This is something I have passed on down to my children and they all enjoy photography in their free time. I want to push my skills to the next level this year and in order to do that I have made myself a Nature Photo of the Week challenge. I will be taking photos each week to go along with a determined theme. At the end of the year, I will take my weekly photos, choose one from each month, and then use those images to create a customized family calendar for 2015.

I am happy to share my Nature Photo of the Week Challenge with any of you who want to play along. I have created a printable list of topics that you can use in any order you wish. I also have started a Pinterest board where I will pin my images and I invite you to as well.

You can join the Pinterest Board : Nature Photo of The Week 2014
You need to follow the Pinterest Board before I can send you an invite. 
You will need to send me your Pinterest name and I will send you an invite. You can comment here or email me directly at harmonyfinearts@yahoo.com”

My kids love capturing their nature study finds with a camera, so this challenge was right up their alley!  And with my smart phone, I can so easily snap and upload photos to the Pinterest Board.

I took Barb’s list (Nature Photo of the Week 2014 Printable and turned it into a quick-glance-chart ~

Nature Photo of the Week Chart
Here is your free download ~ Nature Photo of the Week Chart

Outdoor Hour Challenge month grid

You will also notice the Nature Study February Fun grid on the clip board.  Again Barb of Handbook of Nature Study encourages children to enjoy Nature Study with The Handbook of Nature Study with her Outdoor Hour Challenges. Each month she provides subscribers her OHC newsletter with articles, links, downloads and nature study activities according to season or theme.  The monthly grid (a lovely visual reminder) pinned up and on display encourages my children to get outdoors and observe, collect, journal or photograph.  And it doesn’t take an hour – just a short outing!

Nature Study Tray

Below the clipboard is our Nature Study Tray where we display any nature study finds.  Celeste (a mommy to 6 little kiddies under 8!) of Joyous Lessons has a marvelous method of displaying her children’s nature study finds.  Her young children collect interesting finds on their nature study outings and  when they return home, they place these items on a tray.  The children can then look up and label, draw and record their finds in their nature journals during the week.  Celeste describes:

The next week, I clear the tray, putting on our nature shelf the things we want to keep and discarding the rest.  Sometimes I grab some leaves and put them in the leaf press, between sheets of contact paper, or into someone’s journal with tape if he or she requests it.  Rocks, sticks, bark, and feathers either go into our little collection or out into the backyard for play.  And the tray is then wiped down, ready to be refilled with a new set of treasures after our next outing.  In a way, this holds me accountable too: I don’t like to clear out the tray until I have had time to document and sketch a bit, but the tray must be emptied to make room for our new finds. So through the routine, I’m nudged into at least a weekly journal entry.

This seems like such a minor tip–perhaps this is something you already do!  But if you’re anything like me, it’s little things, those easy habits that allow the “extras” to become smoothly woven into the rhythm of our days, that make all the difference.  Sometimes, when I’m having a busy week and I would normally be tempted to let our nature study slide, it’s this little habit that prods me to get out the colored pencils and notebooks!

This is a wonderful idea, Celeste!  Older children, homeschool graduates and parents can use the very enthusiastic younger children’s nature collections as a stimulus for nature journaling! No excuses for not doing nature journal entries!

As you can see, Nature Study is simple, easy and delightful!  Charlotte Mason encourages moms to also spend time outdoors with their children and simply observe and enjoy their children’s delight in nature.  This time is an investment in “Mother Culture” because, for an hour or so, you can forget the hum-drum of life and household chores!

Schedule in this “extra” in your week ~ see my “Theme of the Day” chart.

Much grace,