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 ~ Textmapping

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Text Mapping

Text-mapping is an excellent technique that helps a child to differentiate and identify areas of a text using highlighters.   Textmapping guides the child to circle, underline or draw boxes around sections, headings, text, illustrations, dates and important vocabulary This provides the child with an overview of all the text and reinforces pre-reading skills.

Copied pages of a textbook chapter or relevant pages are pasted together to form one long scroll.

Drawing of a scroll that has been marked with highlighters and colored markers. Shows margin notes and certain key features circled, colored and otherwise marked.
Textmapping color codes
  • Textmapping is excellent for all non-fiction books and textbooks.
  • This method emphasizes pre-reading skills.  They haven’t read the text itself yet, but have navigated the entire article.
  • Textmapping is a very effective tool for special-needs/ remedial students or weak readers as it helps the student identify different areas of the text and isolate smaller sections where they can use pre-reading skills to break down the text.  Colors define specific areas and they can easily isolate a heading with its accompanying passage and ignore the rest of the text.
  • This skill is particularly important for middle schoolers who are suddenly faced with longer chapters or several pages of their books, textbooks.
  • It is also good for high schoolers who need to summarize large sections of information or review work for tests or exams.
  • Textmapping helps students break down into manageable sections to summarize,  or plan, or prepare for projects and presentations.
  • This method is excellent for group work.
  • Textmapping enables teachers to clearly and explicitly model reading comprehension, writing and study skills using a model scroll or on an example on a smartboard.
  • The complete layout of a scroll gives the child an excellent overview ~ great for global learners.
  • Because of its length, the child must move (crawl on the floor or walk along a row of desks) along it, zoom in or out, to interact with the text ~ excellent for kinesthetic learners.
  • Marking is very physical and hands-on ~ wonderful for the tactile learner.
  • The colored markings  are very clear and everything can be seen at a glance ~ fabulous for the visual learner.
  • Scrolls and text mapping provide a better fit with the learning strengths of ADHD individuals ~ helps children who have learning disabilities or attention deficits.

Because this method involves printing out several pages in color, I have adapted the method to work directly in the book and we use colored post-it tabs and colored sticky notes which we map areas and sections without marking expensive books or library books.  I have also experimented with plastic page protectors cut open down one side to slide over a page and we use colored whiteboard markers.

Please read Textmapping.org for textmapping basic and see all the examples in my original post Textmapping.  Download my Text Mapping notes on textmapping.

Read more ~

 

 

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Practical Tip ~ Senior Maths Cheat Sheets

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Senior Mini OfficeMost highschool Maths students need to have maths formulas, conversion charts, geometry formulas, number systems, order of operations, and other important Maths information at hand.  We called it a mini office, but some think of these pages as “cheat sheets”.

Over the years, instead of making a laminated file folder mini office, I simply place the pages in a page-protector display file.  We keep the file on hand and my high schoolers use it regularly.

You can find all my free Maths Mini Office downloads here.   Download yours for your highschooler.

Blessings, Nadene

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Practical Tip ~ Rolodex

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~  (Revisiting my organization archives)

Rolodex

Years ago I bought an amazing organization book called Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield  (ISBN 1-55870-361-6) where she recommends filing recipes on a Rolodex.  I started mine too, way back in 2000.

Advantages of the Rolodex Recipe System ~

  • Easy to file and organize
  • Rolodex file is compact and doesn’t take up valuable counter top space
  • Recipe is visible; just press open at the card you need
  • When several people bake or cook at the same time, we each take our recipe card out and place it at our work station
  • Add new recipe cards  – quick and simple
  • New recipes are put up on the fridge.  If you haven’t cooked or baked it in 10 days – toss it out!  A great motivator!  If it works – simply file it.
  • The Rolodex holds stacks and stacks of recipes
  • Keep blank cards in your handbag to jot new recipes when waiting or visiting friends
  • In recent years I have added my Trim Healthy Mama and Low Carb recipes on yellow cards so that they stand out from my older, conventional recipes.

Some negatives ~

  • It seems a schlep to rewrite recipes, but I sat for a few hours each evening many years ago and wrote out my favorite recipes.  Now I sit with my blank cards when I read a new cookbook, and quickly jot down the new recipe and give it a try!
  • Because the cards are small, I abbreviate the recipe, especially the method.  This was fine until my younger kids started to cook and bake.  I simply rewrote some cards, and with experience and one-on-one training they master the abbreviated recipes.
  • Some cards have become smudged – use a waterproof pen!

How did I file my recipes?  I added colored stickers and labels to cards to separate the different groups.

  • A = conversions & substitutes
  • B = Biscuits, Breads, Baking ~ Crumpets, Dumplings, Muffins, Rusks, Scones
  • C = Cakes
  • D = Desserts, Dairy
  • E = Egg dishes
  • F = Fish
  • H = Herbs
  • J = Juicing, Jams, Jewish cooking
  • L = Lunches
  • M = Meat ~ Chicken, Lamb, Mince, Meat casseroles,
  • O = Other ~ play dough, salt dough, bath salts, bubbles, homemade soaps, dog food etc.
  • P = Pasta, Pastry, Pancakes, Pies
  • Q = Quiche & tarts
  • R = Rice
  • S = Salads, Sauces, Soups, Sweets
  • T = Tuna
  • V = Vegetables
  • W = Washing soap, laundry soaps

Nowadays everything is online, electronic, super-technical, Internet-based.  Many moms swear by their Kindles and iPad for their recipes. There are also amazing websites for menu planning and online recipe storage, but my Rolodex Recipe system serves me well and I don’t need to recharge it!

This system could work for other subjects too.  What about using a Rolodex instead of an index box for Scripture Memorization?

Happy organizing!  Blessings, Nadene

 

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Practical Tip – Google Calendar

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~Google CalendarWhen I started planning my own eclectic homeschool curriculums to tailor-make each child’s education, I found Google Calendar such a practical help.

I must add though, that I use Google calendar only for planning and not as a daily/ weekly/ monthly tool, and I still prefer a paper printout for record-keeping, rather than enter it on the Google calendar.

Here are some benefits of Google calendar:

 

  • Create a calendar for each child. (Create each calendar in a different color.)
  • Enter all school holidays to create school terms.
  • Copy your school calendar to any other calendar you create.
  • Type in monthly themes/ topics/ subjects across the year. This quickly produces your year plan.
  • Assign a color for each subject. (On the calendar it shows as a colored bar, on the printout it is a small rounded square of color.)
  • Enter subjects as an event.
  • Click for repeated themes or lessons – Google calendar offers daily, specific days each week, all work-days, weekly, monthly etc.
  • In the “Descriptions” box, add lessons, chapters & pages to the basic lesson entry. It may be easy to type in the book title for all and then go back to each repeat lesson to add the specific chapter and page numbers.
  • Also add website links, documents, files and notes for each lesson in the description box.
  • Attach files. I love this feature as I can organize my downloads to each lesson and print out lapbooks, maps, pictures later when I prepare for the month ahead.
  • Easily drag and move “events” to new dates when children “fall behind” or need more time on something.
  • Teens with their own Gmail accounts access their own calendars and work independently.
  • Calendars available for everyone when doing chores help collect library books, plan while at appointments or synchronize outings and family events.
  • Under Tasks add further details for the day – complete and hand in a lapbook/ do a review or a test.  Tasks appear in a clear list next to a calendar.
  • Reminders can easily be added in the edit form – either as an email or a pop-up.  (I chose a pop-up because I don’t want my inbox cluttered with reminders.)
  • Print out the calendar.  You can select daily, weekly, the agenda, or monthly view, or even a specific range of dates.
  • Completed calendars are the record of work!  Easy-peasy!

Read my full Google calendar posts ~

Blessings to my Northern Hemisphere readers, as you plan and start your new school year!

 

 

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Practical Tip Book of Centuries for mom and kids

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Book of Centuries

A Charlotte Mason education includes a Book of Centuries.  Following Ms Mason’s approach, children enter records, illustrate and write brief notes and mark dates of famous people, events, wars, eras, inventions and significant breakthroughs in their Book of Centuries as they study.  https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/p1070785.jpg?w=373&h=280

For a young child, a visual timeline  chart or line along a wall or around a room is best.  It gives a child a bird’s-eye view of events in time; with Biblical and ancient history starting way back, with modern and current dates stretching out.  My young kids loved pasting the pictures on our timeline that went all around our room!  Finding the right date and placing for the picture on the timeline was an excellent introduction activity to a lesson or theme.

https://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/p1100650.jpg?w=348&h=261Middlesdchoolers enjoy their own book or notebook version.    Older children enjoy adding their own notes and illustrations or clip art.  Allow your children freedom to express their thoughts and details in their own, personal way.  Some kids prefer pasting clip art and drawing pictures, while others like to write lists.  I often provided a detailed timeline for specific themes, like World War ll, for example, which can be folded and pasted onto the relevant BOC page.  Over the years, their books fill up and become a wonderful reflection of the history they have studied.  This activity is an excellent conclusion to a theme or topic.

I wrote a post on how you can make you own very cheap, frugal Book Of Centuries using a store-bought notebook, or convert a spiral bound book into a BOC. This post includes the spacing and page layout suggestions.

I wrote about my joy of using a Book of Century as a mother’s record of work and I still love browsing through my BOC and delight in the scope and richness of the education we have journeyed through these 19+ years.  (In response to @Leanne’s comment about not having kept her own records in her BOC, I wrote, “@Leanne, If this is an idea you enjoy, just go ahead and do it! I “caught up” my BOC in one afternoon a few years ago! I simply took each History Core book we had studied and wrote in all the events, wars and famous people studied. The next day I took my Art Era Timelime and cut it up and pasted all the thumbnail-sized pictures in the main art eras, included all the famous art works and artists, and my BOC was instantly filled with color and info! In fact, if this is something your kids have let slide, it makes a good recap and overview activity which they might also enjoy!)

Here are some links and free Book Of Centuries downloads:

Wishing you every blessing, Nadene

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Practical Tip – Storage Box

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Storage BoxWhen my kids were young,  I found that a chair bag hanging on each child’s chair was such a practical help, but as my kids have become teens and work more independently,  fabric storage boxes has helped improve our school organization tremendously.

  • Each child has their own box to coral their notebooks, current books, Maths sets and stationary bags and personal art sets.  The box is on their bookshelf next to current curriculum books, reference books and notebook files.
  • My personal storage box holds my sketch books, art sets, nature journal and current book or project I am working on.
  • Store nature study equipment and nature finds 20151210_180918
  • Pack out current theme’s books or reference materials
  • Keep each person’s ongoing projects corralled and on hand
  • Fabric color matches my study decor and looks attractive on the bookshelves
  • When not needed, they fold up flat for easy packing.
  • Once a quarter, each child goes through their own box to purge, file or reorganize.  Mom’s might have to help younger children clear their boxes if they become a dump zone.

Hope this practical tip helps you keep your work space organized!

In Grace, Nadene

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Practical Tip – Robounder

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Mini trampoline

Use a mini trampoline in your homeschool!

Children love to jump around and little kids need to move physically  and let off some steam!  Children are naturally energetic and suffer when kept still too long!

Here’s some rebounding tips ~ 

  • A mini trampoline is an excellent tool for quick breaks between lessons, e.g.: “Jump and sing the ____ song and then come back to the table.”
  • Jump and do drillsMaths skip counting/ time tables drills/ spelling/ memorizing is enhanced by jumping and clapping, e.g.: “Jump and count to hundred in tens. Now count back in tens from a hundred .”
  • Use the mini trampoline to teach time or directions or compass points, e.g.: “Jump to the north/ south/ east/west “… or “Jump to 3 o’clock/ to 6 o’clock.”  (I stick the labels with numbers or compass names on the frame.)
  • Excellent for fun arrows exercises to teach directionality and spatial awareness, e.g.: point on the arrow chart to indicate – “Jump left! Jump right!  Jump back!  Jump forward!”
  • Jumping is energizing for tired, listless or ‘bored’ children. (Does that ever happen in your homeschool?)
  • Rebounding helps with improved memory skills.
  • Rebounding calms hyperactive children.
  • Bouncing is FUN!
  • It is quiet, fairly small and easy to move.
  • It is great for rainy days and when children can’t go play outside.
  • It is great for moms!  Exercise right near your kids!

Rebounding has several vital health-giving properties.

  • It increases the capacity for breathing.
  • It circulates more oxygen to the tissues.
  • It helps combat depression.
  • It helps normalize your blood pressure.
  • It helps prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • It increases the activity of the red bone marrow in the production of red blood cells.
  • It aids lymphatic circulation, as well as blood flow in the veins of the circulatory system.
  • It lowers elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • It stimulates the metabolism, thereby reducing the likelihood of obesity.
  • It tones up the glandular system, especially the thyroid to increase its output.
  • It improves coordination throughout the body.
  • It promotes increased muscle fiber tone.
  • It offers relief from neck and back pains, headaches, and other pain caused by lack of exercise.
  • It enhances digestion and elimination processes.
  • It allows for easier relaxation and sleep.
  • It results in a better mental performance, with sharper learning processes.
  • It relieves fatigue and menstrual discomfort for women.
  • It minimizes the number of colds, allergies, digestive disturbances, and abdominal prroblems.
  • It tends to slow down aging.

Read why rebounding is so beneficial.  Explore Rebounding on Pinterest.

Wishing you much bouncy joy in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

Practical Tip – Busy Bags

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

Busy Bags

A question new homeschool moms often ask veteran homeschoolers is,

How do I keep my toddler busy while I teach the older kids?

Most moms of toddlers, trying to homeschool older children, find themselves constantly diverted to direct or keep toddlers quietly busy while older children work and find themselves frustrated and exhausted.

Busy Bags are the answer!  These toddler activity bags are wonderful for other times too, like travelling, church, doctor’s waiting rooms and restaurants.  May I add that grannies or babysitters can enjoy pulling out a busy bag when toddlers come to visit!

Having a stash of busy bags in rotation can bring some calm and sanity for at least some of the morning.

Here’s some tips ~

  • First find some suitable ideas.  Pinterest and Google searches will provide endless ideas for every age group.
  • Vary the type of activity.  Sorting, colors, arranging, grouping are very similar.  Try include activities for all senses, new skills like threading, counting, creative play and pre-writing skills.
  • Pack away bags!  These are for formal learning time and not for general play.  They are your focussed homeschool time.  If toddlers play with them when ever they chose, they will be bored with them at school time.
  • Rotate bags every week.
  • Share your resources with another mom or your group.   This will provide a wonderful variety and collection in a very short time.  If there are 3 moms in the group, each mom makes 3 copies of each activity.  Then at the next get-together, give a quick demo and swap and share with the others.  Sometimes these meetings provide  new, additional concepts or applications for the activity that we could use or adapt.
  • Store busy bags in a basket high up on a shelf, or in a box, or drawer and take out the bags for the day.  See examples at Small Potatoes and  All Our Days
  • Train your toddler.  Show them where to sit and how to do the activity.  Importantly, teach them to pack away everything afterwards before taking out the next bag.
  • Toddlers love repetition.   Don’t worry about their request to do the activity over and over.  They love the feeling of mastery.  When they are done, they usually have learnt the skill and are ready to move on.
  • If the activity doesn’t “work” or “fit” your toddler’s ability or interest, gently and quietly pack it away for a few months and try again later.
  •  Similarly to the workbox method of preparing activities for each child for the week, busy bags  can be adapted for older children when they are finished their work and are waiting for mom’s attention.
  • Older children’s activity bags could include recipe card and ingredients, science experiment equipment with instructions, sewing, beading or craft kits, memorization cards, project or hands-on activity instructions, maths drills or something simple and fun!

Hope these tips help you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

 

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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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