Combine Art & Read Alouds

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

art-read-alouds

Busy hands with listening ears” has helped my kids focus during read alouds in our homeschooling.  I always planned hands-on activities for each theme so that my kids were quietly and constructively busy while I read aloud to them.  But, while some projects were distracting, drawing, painting and coloring-in activities were very helpful.  20150701_113932

Combining several children on the same core and covering the same Fine Arts is a wonderful way of streamlining and easing your homeschooling!   We used my traced outlines of art masterpieces and painted them for art appreciation lessons and this was a wonderful opportunity for combining art with listening to classical music or our current read aloud.

Many first-time homeschool moms are often overwhelmed by the huge amount of reading they have with their children and fine arts is often neglected.  So, why not plan a simple art activity for each week and let your children quietly create while you read aloud.

Each week try put out new art materials such as oil pastels, or glue and string, or some magazines and scissors, or puffy paints or glitter, so that your kids can experiment and enjoy a variety of art supplies   (Look on my Art Page for many more art appreciation lessons and ideas.)

Often I encouraged my kids to illustrate the characters or current scene in the read aloud.  These gorgeous illustrations often formed part of their narrations.  After the chapter reading, my kids would dictate or write their narrations next to their pictures.  My youngest is a visual learner and could often express her ideas far better in an illustration than with words!

Alternatively, small kiddies can play with playdough, felt boards, stacking, sorting, beading, or threading, while older kids who do not want to draw or paint can do handwork such as knitting, embroidery, hand sewing, or building puzzles, or making models.

Legos were a favorite, but it was sometimes difficult to prevent the noise of sorting through all the blocks and pieces.  I would encourage them to pour out the pieces on a towel and spread them out first before I started to read aloud.  We even used Legos for narrations!

Read Jean Van’t Hul of Artful Parent.com “Why Read Aloud Time is Drawing time“.

Hope this encourages you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

 

Practical Tip ~ Hands-on Activities

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Hands-on ActivitiesHere’s my secret to successful, fun, memorable homeschool ~ Plan a hands-on project or activity for each theme that is well-suited to your children’s age and interest and to the lesson taught.

Here are some benefits ~   20140807_123837

  • As children use their hands to build, sort or otherwise manipulate materials, different areas of the brain are activated, enriching the learning experience.
  • Diversity of skills, methods, materials and activities develop children’s personal connections which creates the best memories of the books, themes, characters or topics studied.  Remember – concrete before abstract!
  • Abstract concepts are made concrete by physically manipulating materials to represent abstract concepts in different subjects.  This is very important for young children!
  • Hands-on activities are engaging and motivating when children are using manipulatives or are involved in hands-on activities.
  • When children practice and show what they know by relying on movement, activities or manipulatives, children involve a variety of learning skills  in addition to reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • Hands-on activities involve creativity with materials they are using, such as when they are building a model or creating an artistic representation of a concept.
  • Diversity of hands-on activities allow children to present their understanding in their strengths, while creatively encouraging them to develop in their weaknesses, for example, kinesthetic/ verbal/ non-verbal/ visual/ auditory / spatial-dimensional / dramatic/ musical/ presentation.
  • Hands-on activities are  very important for remedial education, reinforcing learning where children struggle with reading, writing or speaking skills.
  • Hands-on activities are wonderful for gifted children, giving them challenges and creative opportunities to express themselves.
  • Children may need to work with siblings,  partners, teams or small groups which develops their ability to collaborate and communicate.  
  • Young children develop a sense of independence when they are encouraged to do things for themselves.  This is huge confidence booster!
  • Hands-on activities make incredible introductions to lessons where children are instantly drawn in and motivated in the lesson.
  • Used as conclusions to themes, hands-on activities provide an excellent summary presentation for the work studied. where children can demonstrate their application of techniques, knowledge and understanding.  These projects often form wonderful displays for family and friends to view and enjoy!
  • Provide choice and freedom.  I have only discovered in these last few years that my child can create their own  learning with some prompts, suggestions or concept outlines. I provide the necessary materials and she decides how and what activity she prefers.
  • All my kids rate the hands-on activities as those they loved and enjoyed the most!
  • Simply = it is fun!

Don’t forget to include high schoolers in your hands-on activities planning! 20140722_175101

  • Especially in Science and Biology, where correct techniques, scientific approach and accurate methodology are vital.
  • More importantly, as the study becomes more abstract in high school, hands-on activities may provide the necessary experience to make connections and cement the highschooler’s understanding.
  • Career and vocational hands-on activities provide meaningful and realistic experience for teens and young adults to more effectively chose their future study and career.

Are there any disadvantages?20140220_122903

  • Some projects take a long time, with several phases, such as our solar system mobile above.  My suggestion = MAKE the time available and stretch out your schedule and plan it in.
  • Space to be messy and creative.  Prepare the area, use plastic table cloths, aprons or newspaper to make cleaning up simpler.  Work outside weather permitting.
  • Some projects are difficult to store but photos capture the project for portfolios.
  • Not every lesson has a practical activity.
  • Some children become very stressed and frustrated by mess or creative processes.  They may prefer written projects or quiet presentations.
  • Some parents see hands-on activities as “busy work” and prefer to focus on formal lessons.  This is especially true for “school-at-home-type” homeschooling where parents insist on keeping to a strict schedule.  Again, may I plead with you to relax and enjoy the journey!  Especially with young children – take your time and make the time for hands-on activities!
  • Parents homeschooling multiple ages find these activities distracting to the other children.  My suggestion is to find something suitable for everyone to join in or to provide unique options for each child.

My blog is filled with hands-on activity posts!  Here are some posts to read ~

Other articles on the Internet ~

I trust that these practical tips inspire and encourage you in your homeschooling!  Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences or questions in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene

 

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Knights – New Paper Dolls

We have updated our Middle Ages paper dolls and men.

I have created a new page with a Knight and his armor and weapons.

Knights

Knights1

The young squire dressed the knight, layering all the underclothes, chain-mail, armor and coat of arms tunic and weapons.  If kids follow the list of armor given on the page with the knight man, they will dress the knight correctly.

There are also 2 pages with a Medieval Man’s clothes, including clothes worn by the poor peasant, merchant or wealthy man.

Knights3

The Middle Ages lady pages now include clothes worn by peasants, merchants and the wealthy Medieval lady.  These detailed illustrations and labels will give a child a real understanding of the clothing and lifestyle of the era.

Knights2

This is a wonderful ‘keep-those-hands-busy’ activity for kids to make while you read aloud!

Pop over to my Free Pages and check out all the paper dolls & men!

Blessings,

Sundial

We recently made our own sundial.

Sky and Telescope.com have a super easy tutorial and free downloads on How to make a sundial.

Homeschool 20151Although it wasn’t absolutely accurate, my daughter was impressed that we could tell our time with a sundial.

We used the printout, a pencil, a compass and an atlas, and it was really quick and easy to set up!

Hands-on activities are such a wonderful method of making learning real and exciting!

Give it a try with your kids!

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,

Solar System Mobile

Another mobile?” you may ask.

Solar system mobile

Solar System Mobile

Well, months ago, while browsing a large crafts store in a big city, I purchased some polystyrene balls especially packaged for a solar system mobile, and packed them away until we started our Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie K. Fulbright.  Then, we launched (yes, pun intended!) into our theme by creating the solar system mobile.

My daughter figured out how to support each ball to paint and let them dry without smudging them.  She used a small piece of wire stuck inside candle stick holders and pierced the wire into each ball.  We used acrylic paints and sponges.  Middle sister joined in because it looked such fun!  We referred to printouts of the planets to correctly select the appropriate-sized balls and paint them the right colors.

Solar system mobile1

We needed a large, large sun that would not be too heavy.  We compromised on the sun’s size and covered our inflatable earth globe with paper mache.  (A beach ball would also do, but the world globe has a stand which allowed us to turn and cover the ball with paper and glue.) I used a small amount of wallpaper glue mixed with water in the correct ratio … (I sneaked in a little maths lesson!)  Wallpaper glue lasts for several days in a sealed container, and spills and drips wash off easily.

The next day we recovered our sun’s newspaper layers with white paper strips and let it dry. Then, when dried, we deflated the globe enough to insert the scissors and snip a large slit and pull the flattened globe out our ball.  A few layers of  new paper mache to close our slit, and another day to allow to dry completely.  Somehow, the newly glued section softened previous layers and our beautiful ball became a bit wonky.  But my daughter was completely unfazed because, “the sun is a burning ball of gas and it’s not perfectly round, is it, mom?” Absolutely!

I bent a large piece of used fence wire and we used fish gut to suspend all the globes. There were a few problem-solving moments because our wire ring did not hang level.  We decided to add some blue, yellow and white glass beads to balance the mobile.  What an ingenious idea, because these beads looked like stars!  We could have hung planet moons too, I suppose, which would also be a great idea …

A great hands-on activity!  It was really educational too, because by the end of this activity, my daughter knew all the planets’ names, their relative sizes and colors, and could easily identify them in our studies.  Wonderful introduction to Astronomy!

Here are some of the Solar System websites I pinned or filed in OneNote ~

Have fun making your solar system model!

Blessings,

Around the World Mobile

An amazing learning tool and hands-on activity ~ our Around the World mobile!

Mobile

My youngest daughter and I have traveled with Jules Verne “Around the World in 80 Days” and we took some ‘scenic tours’ in Geography and Social Studies along our route.

Most our Geography studies focused around our large laminated world map as we plotted Phineas Fogg’s route, and we learnt the many countries of the world with our Sonlight Geography Songs CD. (Memorization and learning through song is the most amazingly effective learning method we have ever used! My homeschool graduate sang along with us while she was busy with her work!  She remembered these songs from 11 years ago when we first used the CD.) We pasted flags from each country around our world map in the order of the songs to better assist our memorization.

While I searched for other hands-on ideas, I came across Kids Around the World with gorgeous pictures of children in traditional clothes.  As I always look for some hands-on activities for my children to do while I read aloud, I printed black-and-white pictures and Miss.L12 happily painted her pictures during the next few days reading.  She used the color pictures as her reference.  With all these ideas floating around, I decided to create an “Around The World” mobile.

I used the Montessori continent color scheme in their printable Geography files to co-ordinate the elements of our mobile.  I added a cultural element or famous landmark for each country.  So the mobile has ~

  1. Name of each continent
  2. Continent in the prescribed color
  3. Selected countries from each continent
  4. Flags for each country
  5. Children in traditional clothes
  6. Famous landmark or cultural element for each country

Here are my free downloads ~

Quick reference list ~

Some things to note ~ 20140721_153542

  • This activity took several weeks of fairly consistent work.  It is NOT quick or easy, so it is most suited to middle schoolers (and their enthusiastic and determined moms!)
  • Although my middle schooler loved painting the children pictures, she did not enjoy pasting the flags, continents and labels to backing card or felt.
  • I used colored felt for backing as it is lightweight and brightly colored, but you can use card stock.  Bold colors are best.
  • We used thin wire to hang the elements.  We pierced the wire through the felt and it was quicker than punching holes in the card, but I used a thick darning needle to make a hole in the felt first.  You could use fish gut or strong string instead.
  • I had my daughter pre-cut dozens of short pieces of wire (about 5cm/2″ long) to connect elements to each other.  I used our beading round-head pliers to make neat little loops on both ends.  We used 25cm/10″ length wires to form the upper branches for each country.
  • To make the mobile’s 3 main “arms” we pushed wire through micro-sprayer pipes which are light but rigid, and bent round loops to hang the continents from each end.  You could use dowel sticks.
  • We grouped the countries to balance the arms.  There are 2 continents (Europe & Asia) with 7 countries each which we balanced on each end of one arm,  The other 4 continents have 3 countries each which we hung on the ends of the remaining 2 arms.

After all the hours of wire work, stabbed and pierced fingers, glue and felt fluff, it was complete and looked stunning!  It hung over our work table for the remainder of our Around the World studies.

Would you give this a try?  Or maybe use the downloads in a different way?  What about a simple booklet or a lapbook instead?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Blessings,

PS. Ideas for traditional clothing were done without intending to stereotype or offend.  Please adapt any aspect of these downloads for your own use.

Animal Mobile

Land Animals with Exploring Creation with Zoology 3  

and a fun hands-on activity ~

a mobile!

In preparation for this year’s science studies, I made these pictures of every. single. animal in the book.  Miss.L will use these to paste on to her world maps and notebooking pages.

And here’s the free download ~

  1. Pictures ~ Land Animal Pictures
  2. Classification table ~ Table Classification of land animals

While we were reading I read aloud, Miss.L wanted to do something creative … and so I pulled out our animal classification chart and cards.

Classification Table  (We used these for our text boxes)

Classification Cards (These are the pictures we used for the mobile.)

Here’s your free download of the above cards and table ~  Classification Table+cards

And I suggested, “Why not actually make that mobile we thought about a while ago?”

Animal Mobile 1We did … and had fun for a few days!

Some tips:

  • Print out the classification cards twice. (You want to have pictures and text on both sides of the card!)
  • Paste the text or pictures on to the front & back of each colored card leaving a colored frame around the picture or texts.
  • Punch and insert eyelets on the tops and bottoms of all the cards.
  • Use soft binding wire and loop in to the top of each card and another wire with a loop at the bottom.  (We cut each wire about 5cm long, and the wire for the felt animals slightly shorter.)
  • Start at the bottom and work out the mobile, laying out the cards to see how wide the mobile will become at the top.
  • The very top of the mobile needs a wooden stick about 50cm long
  • Each “branch” should be slightly shorter than the level above.
  • Overlap 2 branches to make “Mammals” a 4-branch.
  • Add beads to balance the “Invertebrates” branch with the “Vertebrates” branch of the mobile.
  • Cut out felt animals and insert the wire and hang on the bottoms of each picture. (We added some details with black permanent marker.)
  • Perhaps add other animals from each class (e.g.: rodent = rabbit, mouse, squirrel … ) as you study them.  (Just add more beads to keep the mobile balanced.)

Note: This activity was fairly technical and would work well with middle-schoolers and junior high students.

We are delighted with our mobile gently swaying above our work table!

Have you tried to make a mobile for homeschool?

Blessings,

3D Models into Art

“Busy hands while I read aloud”

This is a wonderful recipe to success in a literature-based curriculum like Sonlight.

My kids have modeled in clay, made prints, colored-in, painted, woven wool, built a Lego ziggurat, tied knots and built paper models.

In Footprints on our Land, we recently studied the French Huguenots and their influence on the culture, architecture, agriculture, language and religion in the Cape.

I had some postcard paper models of Cape houses from my old teaching-days.  I made color photo-copies (to save my originals) and gave them to Miss.L10 to cut and glue while I read aloud.

She enjoyed the intricate cutting and scoring,

glueing and forming …

The water-mill was quite tricky!

Once she had finished “playing” with the little paper people around her houses, we put the models up on the window sill on display.

This week we finished off the read aloud.  While I read the last few chapters, we solved the “where do we store the 3D models?” problem with an artistic application ~

  • cut the models apart
  • use the front, the sides and the back to create 3 houses from 1 model
  • paste them on a blank page
  • draw, color and paint the background and the details
  • and we have wonderful, detailed, colorful pages for in our notebook file!

This way we achieved ~

  1. creative and busy hands while I read aloud
  2. storage for a 3-dimensional object in our notebook file
  3. creative problem-solving = make the models fit into a 2-dimensional design (she had to cut the roof in different angles to look “true”, she made a door where there was only a window, she wanted both sides of the water mill and created a full water flow through several buildings!)

How do you store your children’s 3D models?  What busy-hands activities have been the most successful/ creative?  Please share in the comments.

Blessings,

Kitchen Connections

English: A pizza from the oven. Français : Une...

My daughters are learning home-making

and cooking

is one of the most important skills.

Recently, when I went away for 9 days, my young ladies proved just how well they are managing in the kitchen!

And my stepson is an excellent cook!  He often steps in and cooks up a fabulous meal.

Over the years I have tried several approaches:

  1. “Watch – Do – Teach”  Basically it works like this = My girls watch the technique or skill I am showing them, then they do the same activity while I observe them and then they must teach the cooking lesson to one of their siblings.
  2. Menu plan and make the meal – We all brainstorm and suggest ideas for lunches and dinners for the week.  They then choose any main meal or lunch to prepare on their own.
  3. One-on-one with mom – Each daughter spends one day assisting or cooking with me for the day each week.

But I really love to have the whole family and visitors join in to cook or bake together in the kitchen!

In fact I often plan meals with this in mind when we have friends visit and stay over at our farm.

These are my favorite cooking connections:

We all make pizzas.  Everyone cuts, slices, grates cheese, pips olives, spreads the pizza bases … and then we all cover the pizzas with a delightful variety of toppings.  Delicious and fun!

Another good meal for everyone to join in is a stir-fry.  There can all help prepare the food: cut and slice veggies, slice and dice meat and mix sauces. The actual stir-fry is also a big communal event as everyone clusters around the fry plates and stirs and fires!

Many a soup dish or stew is a great family effort.

Children love to bake. Biscuits are fun to do with kids of all ages.  They love rolling, cutting, coating balls, flattening with forks, sprinkling with toppings … and of course, nibbling titbits along with all the trimmings.

What about these ideas to bring cooking into your children’s lives?

  • Buy a really good cookbook to stir some new excitement in a young new mini-chef’s cooking.
  • Buy quality cooking utensils and equipment for their birthdays.
  • Watch excellent cooking programs.
  • Start a cook/ bake class with your homeschool group.
  • Join a cooking demonstration.
  • Ask a family member or neighbour to teach new skills.  A friend is teaching my girls how to make cheese. My mother-in-law’s neighbour used to be a chef and she loves to teach others.
  • Do a recipe-exchange and commit to making one new recipe each week.

What ideas do you have?  How do you inspire and teach your children to cook and bake?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Blessings,

This post was submitted to the SACH Carnival. Join us and see what other South African Homeschoolers are cooking up in this carnival’s theme “Kitchen Fun!”