Lapbook planning tips

My children loved doing lapbooks and  we quickly figured out some practical tips to prevent overwhelm and to maximise our studies with other activities.  Here are some of my tried-&-tested practical lapbook planning tips ~

Often when printing out and cutting out the lapbook minibooks for your new lapbook , you will have heaps of booklets, papers, cutouts which may cause you and your children to feel overwhelmed. 

Print out the table of contents or index with every download and file this with the lapbook instructions.  If your lapbook printout doesn’t have an index, draw up a list of each minibook theme, or the topics or chapters covered in each minibook of the lapbook study along with a short description of each activity.  You can download my free lapbook planner below.

Whether you download a lapbook or make one for yourself, it helps to print out the lapbook planner or index page so that you have a birds’ eye view of your core topics, sub-topics, minibooks, relevant websites, videos, songs, recipes, hands-on activities and any other downloads as well as the time you plan for each minibook or topic.  Here  is  the  index  I used for my planning my Ancient Egypt Lapbook.  (You  can freely download  the Ancient Egypt Lapbook)

Here is my Pearl Harbour lapbook organiser  which outlined additional websites and sources used:

For more complex subject such as World Wars, it helps to draw up basic vertical timeline and mark the dates for all the most important events.  This helps to follow the course of events chronologically as well as plan the lapbook layout.

We always pasted all the minibooks into the lapbook before we started so that we did not waste time searching through a packet of minibooks to find the relevant one for the day.  You can read all about this in my post Time-saving tips for doing lapbooks. I must add here that my children often pasted their minibooks where they felt it best fitted and not strictly according to the suggested layout and it never was a problem.

We duct-taped along the spine of the lapbook and punched holes in the duct tape so that they were on hand in our files or ring binders.  (Read how we assemble and duct tape our Aesop lapbooks here.)

We stored each child’s completed lapbooks together in a file folder as seen in the photo below.  (Read all about how we stored our lapbooks and notebook pages here.)

Here is my lapbook planner page  free download (available in .docs or  .pdf versions) to use for your planning ~ Lapbook Planner or Organiser (MS Word.docs) or  Lapbook Planner or Organiser (pdf)

My children loved doing hands-on activities so I always extended our planned lapbook time to provide a wide margin for the spontaneous learning activities or additional enrichment.

Please do not ever rush to finish anything!  Take your time and aim to include the “extra” additional studies and hands-on activities!  These will bring your lapbook study to life!

Blessings, Nadene

Kids that Wiggle 30+ Tips

Homeschooling is perfect place for wrigglers and movers to learn! Somehow we have learnt that in the so-called “perfect education world” young children should sit still, rapturously attentive, quietly absorbing, and only responding “normally” as expected,  but guess what, most young kids just can’t sit still, keep quiet for long or respond only in the way that they “should”.

As a first-time mom I remember feeling a sinking, cold self-consciousness when my young 2-year-old daughter, stood and danced around instead of sitting and beating her little wooden sticks on drums exactly as suggested during a toddlers workshop.  But a wonderful wise mother shared her wisdom and she gently reminded me to let my child express herself, be herself and enjoy the learning experience. I needed this encouragement, because, in my idealism and ignorance, I thought my child was not learning the way she should.

Moving on a many years later, when I started to homeschool my youngest daughter, I realised that I had a “wriggler” who just couldn’t sit quietly while she listened and learnt.  So instead of frustrating her, I allowed her to hang upside down when she listened to read alouds. I gave her space to move and act out the nursery rhymes in order to remember the words.  If she wiggled and squiggled on her seat when she faced some sort of challenge, I encouraged her to rather go jump on the mini trampoline for a minute to bounce the jittery  anxiety out of her system.  She needed to move and stand on her chair to recite her poems, and she had to act out her memory verses.  She whispered and talked to herself while she worked on her studies.  She was learning!  She just had to move in order to do so.

Educationalists call the wiggly-need-to-move-in-order-to-learn-kids kinesthetic learners. But essentially all young children need to move their bodies to learn. That is why action songs are so popular with toddlers and young children This is why young kids need concrete things to use and play with as they learn.

Make provision for your young child’s wiggles!

Here are 30+ practical tips and activities ~

Classroom strategies ~

  1. Keep your lessons short and sweet — Thank you Charlotte Mason!   Young children have about a 10-minute attention span.  Lessons that are any longer may cause their wiggles and frustration to build up.
  2. Give them permission and redirect their energy towards specific physical activities such as  jumping or skipping with a rope, but use a timer or just one song before they quickly return to their seat to work.
  3. Alternate seat-work lessons with physical lessons. e.g.: Stand and clap and actions for Bible song — sit for Bible story.  Jump and skip-count on the mini trampoline — then sit to do Maths lesson.  Arrow bean bag game on the mat — then Handwriting lesson.  Quick hopscotch — then Spelling or Phonics lesson.  Tea time and gross motor activities outside — then cuddle on the couch for read aloud.  Do a hands-on activity while listening to a long chapter read aloud.   This variety will also prevent boredom and meltdowns.
  4. Place a mini trampoline in the school room and encourage quick bouncing just before fine motor work such as handwriting, or difficult mental work such as maths or spelling. Let them jump and call out their skip counting as a fun maths drill, or spell out loud as they jump. Just 30 seconds on a timer and them back to the seat to start the next activity.
  5. Use a gym ball instead of a chair for seat work. Make sure that it is the correct height – that they can sit with their feet flat and knees bent at 90 degrees and that their elbow can be placed flat on the table at 90 degrees. The ball stimulates core and balance muscles and allows constant movement and regulation. Obviously don’t allow wild rocking. You can place the ball inside a small hoop to prevent the ball rolling away when they stand up.
  6. Provide a balance pillow for your child’s seat.  You can also use this for balance games on the floor.  A balance pillow also stimulates the core muscles and tiny movements for balance.
  7. Use a rubber flexaband (exercise band) as a foot rest on their seat (scroll down to see the example photo on my Handwriting page). This is great if the chair is slightly too high for them to place both feet on the floor. They can stabilise their core and still enjoy the sway, bounce or resistance of the band under their feet.
  8. Place a foam rubber mat on the play area floor for other physical games such as sit ups.
  9. Use bean bags for tossing, throwing, balancing, placing in directions with the arrow chart.
  10. Sing action songs that encourage clapping and actions.
  11. Use a timer on a phone or desktop computer to regulate seat work or the quick, fun activities.
  12. Provide a bottle of water to sip during learning.  Many kids need to sip water to calm and help them focus when learning new or difficult work.

Use manipulatives for Maths, Phonics, Handwriting & Spelling~

  1. Use Maths wheels and Maths counting, shape and block apparatus to learn Maths concepts, practice drill work and solve Maths problems,
  2. Make flashcards, sliding strips or folding flap books for phonics and spelling.
  3. Use sandpaper for young children to trace over letters when learning to write.
  4. Use hula hoops, ropes and balls to create huge letter shapes on the floor.
  5. Use puzzle pieces, cutouts, felt board shapes & letters, white boards, magnetic letters or Scrabble tiles for spelling and phonics.

Plan Hands-on Activities ~

  1. Do hands-on activities while listening to read alouds or learning their lessons.
  2. Let them build models, make 3D models or maps.
  3. Create dioramas.
  4. Draw and colour in and then turn these illustrations into finger puppets.
  5. Use Legos or bakers clay to create objects related to the theme.
  6. Go on field trips and educational outings wherever possible.
  7. Let young children play with playdough or Lego  while listening to stories or lessons.
  8. Print and paste a coloured picture related to the story or theme onto some cardstock and cut this into puzzle shapes.  Let your child build puzzles while listening to read alouds.
  9. Do Science experiments and provide equipment and strategies for your child to lead their own investigations.
  10. Provide a nature study kit & journal and encourage daily time for exploration outdoors in nature.
  11. Use a globe and atlas when studying Social Studies and Geography.  Let your children pin and mark a large map on display.
  12. Use dress-up clothes and encourage your child to act out stories, plays and poems in Social Studies or Literature.  A basket with some long skirts and bonnets, aprons, hats, cloaks and waistcoats provides endless options and  most young children love to act!
  13. Video record your child and play the movie back so that they can enjoy their re-enactments and plays.
  14. Read and download or order my 100+ Narration ideas booklet.  This Ebook contains stacks of different activities that would suit kinesthetic learners!

Outdoor Gross Motor Activities~

  1. Stimulate vestibular activities (the brain’s ability to track spatial  movement) and encourage your child lie and swing in a hammock or sit on a swing.  Encourage both the  forward and back and sideways movements as well as hanging upside down or on their tummies.
  2. Play some physical games in between lessons which require lots of physical effort such as wheelbarrows — where mom hold their feet and the child walks on their hands across the room.
  3. Throw and catch and roll and kick balls.  Add a variety of different types of balls for these games such as large beach balls, soft squishy balls or bouncy balls.
  4. Teach them to skip and let them skip and call out maths counting or rhyming skipping songs.
  5. Draw chalk hopscotch or chalk ladders on your patio floor for obstacle courses or hopping and balance games.
  6. Do some brain gym exercises especially actions that cross the mid-line.
  7. Ensure regular play time using a jungle gym and include monkey rings, ropes, slides and ladders.  Encourage lots of gross motor activities every day.

Homeschool is the perfect place to allow your child the freedom your child needs to move in order to learn and to work off their natural energy and excitement.

Don’t worry that  it may seem that your child may never learn to sit still. As they mature, your child will gradually learn to self-regulate and control themselves more and more.  In fact, these days, many modern offices have standing desks, walking treadmills and open plan spaces for movement so that employees are encouraged to move more while working!

However, if you believe that your child has real concentration and/or behavioural issues, I highly recommend that you consider taking your child to an occupational therapist for an evaluation.  They often suggest fun exercises and play strategies to use at home and school.  If your child requires sessions with the OT,  just remember that the therapy sessions are not forever.  In almost all cases, as your child improves they will no longer need ongoing therapy.

Mom, you are your child’s best advocate and facilitator.  Your job is to find what works for your child and to encourage them to learn in the way that suits them best.   Be encouraged when your child is different!  This “different child” is exactly what the Lord planned as His best instrument to shape and change you.  He wants you to learn to love what is, to love unconditionally and to love without needing to change the other.  This is a work of grace.

So, breathe in and out slowly and deeply, and then trust the Lord to show you what your child needs right now and ask Him to show you how to support and encourage your wriggly child!

And don’t forget to have fun!  Your child certainly is having fun!

Blessings and much grace, Nadene

Here are some more ideas on the web ~

Practical Tip ~ Creative Opportunities

We are a very creative family!  Right from the start, I provided art and craft materials and allowed my children much free time to create daily in our homeschooling, which I believe laid the foundation to their  their talent and enjoyment of all things creative.  May I encourage you to do the same?

Homeschool 20154Set up a craft area with supplies to provide creative opportunities for your children.  This is especially good for hands-on activities while the children listen to a read alouds, or for handicraft time in the afternoons.

Art and craft supplies need not be expensive.  I started our collection with a cheap craft purchase here and there each month, and added new, interesting items to our stash to keep my kids excited and stimulated.  I stored these items in Ziploc bags in plastic suitcases, placed in an easily accessible area on the bookshelf.   Read how I organized our art supplies here.1-P1160658-001

Here are 25 art and craft ideas gathered from around the globe on Pinterest ~

  1. Watercolor set, brushes and paper
  2. Wax crayons and watercolor to create wax-resist painting
  3. Giant chalk to create outdoors drawings on concrete floors
  4. Shoestrings and wooden beads
  5. Cheap camera and nature prompt list
  6. Recipes and ingredients
  7. Magazine, scissors and glue to make a collage
  8. Soap block or soft pine wood pieces and carving tools
  9. Wool and pompom maker
  10. Shaving cream, food coloring in a tray to make marbled paper
  11. Lego, cardstock and felt-tipped markers to create a Lego diorama
  12. Flowers and vases or flower press to create a pressed flower collection
  13. Felt, scissors and a felt board
  14. Pipe cleaners and tiny pompoms to create fantasy animals
  15. Sunflower and bean seeds and some small garden  tools
  16. Long piece of cheap fabric, pegs and poles to create a tepee or tent
  17. Tinfoil, card board, glue and string to create foil art
  18. Stamps and stamp pads
  19. Feathers and beads to make necklaces
  20. 51 ideas with shoe boxes
  21. Dress up clothes
  22. Music instruments or let them make their own musical instruments
  23. Twisty balloons
  24. Leaf rubbings with wax crayons
  25. When all else fails – Bored jar with activity ideas
Tips on making art and crafts activities easier ~
  • It is worth spending a while clearly and simply demonstrating to your children how to work with the materials, how to take care with specific things, how to clean up and pack away.
  • Establishing foundation skills with each activity prevents the mess and chaos that most moms hate and therefore avoid doing art and crafts.
  • Purchase some plastic sheeting or cheap painter’s drop cloths to cover the floor if working with messy things.
  • Insist that your children wear an old over-sized T-shirt (my kids loved wearing their dad’s T-shirts) or art smocks or aprons over their clothes.  You can even make aprons out of plastic bags.
  • Set a limit where the activity can take place.  Children may only work in a specific room, on specific tables or floors.  Don’t encourage them to wander around with the supplies.
  • Remind your children to wash paint brushes, close glue tops, pack away when done.
  • Lastly, provide a lovely gallery to display their works of art.

Check out all my art ideas, lesson plans and free downloads on my Art Page.  Have you got any creativity ideas to share with us?  Please share in the comments below.

Here’s wishing you and your family hours and days of fun and creativity!

Blessings, Nadene
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Tailor-make your curriculum

It is not a failure if a curriculum doesn’t work for you!   Even if you purchase a professionally formatted, fully kitted, boxed, packaged curriculum, you will need to make adjustments for each child and yourself as you go along.  No professional or expert can possibly determine the perfect fit for your family and for each individual!

Just as a travel agent provides a suggested itinerary for a tour to a foreign country, once you arrive, you may decide to visit different scenic stops, spend longer to more fully enjoy an experience, or decide to completely skip a section of the tour.

Here’s a golden rule ~ Work WITH your package and not FOR your package = Tailor-make your curriculum!

So how do you work with your package?

Find the pace that suits your children:

  1. Spend more time on any topic that your children enjoy.  Don’t simply rush onto the next day on the schedule.  If your kids sparkle with enthusiasm, feed it by encouraging them to watch additional videos, read other books, do some fun hands-on activities, etc.
  2. Read more/ or less each day.  During our first year I felt completely swamped by the amount of reading I was expected to do every day.  The sessions felt exhausting and I almost dreaded the schedule.  Rather, I kept reading while the kids colored-in or did hands-on activities, or I read during meals, or I completed the daily reading at bedtime read alouds.  As I gained experience, I realized that if I combined more children on the same curriculum, I maximized our learning experience and had far less individual reading.
  3. Spend more / or less time on certain subjects.  Especially when starting a new curriculum, focus on just one or two subjects at a time and gradually add another subject each week, as your children master the new skills required for each subject.  Don’t dive in and try to do everything right away.  You may wonder how to keep the different subjects flowing together?  On some days, focus on the subject you see is “falling behind” and you will easily catch up.  Sometimes we spent a week just doing one subject and found it really enjoyable, kind of like an immersion approach.
  4. Add 6 months margin to the package year.  This helped me more than anything — Just knowing that I had extra time to use as and when we wanted gave us a generous freedom and removed the stress and feeling that we would fall behind.

Personalize the curriculum:

  1. Focus on your children’s delights and interests.
  2. Add extras to any spark of interest your children show –go on outings, look for projects, job shadow professionals, borrow library books, watch suitable educational movies and videos.
  3. Do a unit study on topics related to the subject of interest, where you cover all the subjects focusing on a single topic such “Horses” or “Explorers” etc.
  4. Add a lapbook on the subject of interest.  
  5. Ignore and pack away any books that just don’t suit your child or family.  Don’t feel guilty!  It is like eating off a fixed menu — not every dish will be to your taste.
  6. Adjust the activity to suit each child.  Some children hate writing!  Rather let them present oral narrations, or draw or build or calculate or design, etc.  I created an excellent book “Narration Ideas” with over 100 ideas, options or templates for every types of learning style and temperate style.  Find what your child enjoys and tailor-make your options.
  7. Don’t forget that you are an essential component of your homeschooling.    Look for a package and approach that best suits your teaching style. Don’t buy a curriculum that stresses and overwhelms you.  I love reading and literacy, so read alouds and literacy-based education worked perfectly for me. Another mom may prefer unit studies or project-based learning.  Some moms want to teach, others want their children to lead.  Whatever your preferred style, look for a package or curriculum or approach that works for you as well as your children.

I hope that this post encourages you to make whatever curriculum you have work best for you and your children.

 Blessings, Nadene
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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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Letter 9 – Wait

Here’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Mewhere I share the letters I wrote to myself, encouraging myself (and, hopefully other new homeschoolers)  with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~

Dear Nadene,

Firstly, you must remember that the curriculum you purchased for each of your children, complete with bell & whistles, is created by developers who estimate the average age and range and scope of the work.  They determine a schedule that will cover the work within a certain time frame. It will not be perfect for all your children, all the time.

Use the schedule as a guideline, not a task master.  Remember this when your “tick-the-box” mentality starts to trip you into rushing, stressing and worrying.  It is perfectly fine to take longer on sections.  It is okay to skip some work/ projects/ narrations/ hands-on activities.  It is altogether right to put away a book that your child just does not like or enjoy.  Wait until a few months and try again.

Wait for your children to show readiness and follow their natural drive to repeat and immerse themselves in something they love and enjoy and want to master. If you push too soon, they will not have that built-in passion and ability to carry out the skill and activity. 

Especially when your child struggles — wait.  Gently encourage them, but if they cannot manage a subject or skill — wait.  Step back a step or two and try again. 

So, if a Maths book causes tears, try another book, or switch over to some mental maths pages, or find a game that they can use instead of pen and paper.  Delay the written maths exercises and focus on the basic maths skills.  Do fun, active drills instead.  Take time off from the book and find the point of mastery and work up from there. 

Remember, you are supposed to tailor-make your child’s learning experience and you know  your child way better than any expert who typed out the schedule!  You can delay the handwriting lessons, wait with written narrations.  Even if you have nothing to show for your school day, and do not seem to make much progress in the schedule, your children are learning.

And this applies to your high schooler as well.  It does not matter that she did not write any tests or exams, and did not complete an “impossible” course one year, your child will master another course the next year.  She will definitely manage to write formal exams in an external exam center at the end of the year. 

Lastly, remember when you were a professional teacher, you encouraged parents to hold a struggling child back a year?  It always worked for the best in the early years.  So, moms, don’t push your young children!  Don’t fret, stress and strain to measure up to the standards laid out.  Follow your child and facilitate their learning needs.  It is right that your one-on-one schooling does not look like the ‘average’.  Yours is a perfect fit! 

With hindsight blessings,

Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

 

Letter 7 – Action!

Here’s the next letter my series ~ “Letter To Mewhere I share the letters I wrote to myself, encouraging myself (and, hopefully other new homeschoolers)  with what I wish I had known when I started out on our homeschooling journey ~

Dear Nadene,

P1080139Starting homeschool with your little kiddies is not going to be school-school-sit-in-desks-and-work-style!  It is a lifestyle of learning … and young kids learn by DOING! Young kids need to move.  Boys, especially, need action, preferably with sound effects (am I right?) to express themselves. 

Forget about formal workbooks and worksheets.  Get active and do stuff together.  There’s the real learning.  Of course, teach some formal learning skills such as Maths, spelling and handwriting, but make it a short, sweet, focussed lesson.  After all these years, I can promise you that short lessons are successful

Encourage wiggling children to use an exercise ball instead of a chair.  Use an elastic thera-band (or some pantyhose) as an active footrest for desk work.  Ensure that your seat-to-desk height is correct for your child. View examples and practical tips here – Sitting affects handwriting.

HomeschoolAnother trick is to alternate. e.g.: listen to a story – then act it out, do a quick handwriting lesson (fine motor skills) and then let the kiddies enjoy a 10-minute session outside on the jungle gym (gross motor skills).  Before a focussed lesson such as maths, play the arrows game.   (This activity promotes spatial awareness and directionality, essential skills for reading, writing and maths.) If your child struggles with a skill, break it down into tiny, manageable lessons and reward your child with some a specified time on a mini trampoline … also excellent for drill lessons.

P1100160Plan narrations where they can physically do stuff.  Have play dough or Lego or coloring-in activities so that your kiddies have busy hands while listening to read alouds.  Let your kiddies act out narrations with finger puppets, with hand puppets, with a prop or dress-up clothes.  Prepare a drama using a narrated script (Mom reads out their narrations and the kids act their parts, sometimes with speaking parts.)  Use Lego to create scenes or build examples from their read alouds.

Cooking and baking is another fun activity.  “Farmer’s Boy” from the Little House series launched some amazing cooking, baking and home-preserving lessons!  Shake cream to butter while listening to the story, knead bread dough and form loaves, fry fritters, roll and bake cookies … the way to a man’s child’s heart is through their stomachs, right?

P1100148All those hands-on activities make homeschool memorable!  Your homeschool graduate can recall those lessons as her best memories!  Look for other fun activities to extend your learning experiences.  Remember the fun your kiddies had treasure hunting and letterboxing?  And use all 5 senses … listen, look, smell, feel and taste.   Join another homeschool family and enjoy activities such a first aid lessons, build a raft, go on a hike, camp out … Get physical with map work! 

Do not turn your homeschool into a stuffy, stiff affair.  Have fun!  Especially with your young children, and you will also look forward to your homeschool days.

Blessings,

Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Please would you share yours in the comments.

In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:

 

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,