Easter Pictures & Hands-on Activities

Here are some Easter hands-on activities inspiration ideas “resurrected” from deep in my 2014 archives!  I wanted to involve my daughter fully in our Easter Bible readings.  She LOVES reading her comic-style Illustrated Bible Story New Testament book.  It is very visual and makes the stories “come alive”.  I wanted to add loads of hands-on activities.

Young children learn best when they use all their five senses – hearing, seeing, smell, taste and touch

Easter14

I created an Easter Flags 16-page download, suitable for junior primary children, which includes Scriptures and parallel verses, activity ideas and story summaries for each Easter theme. As you read the Easter Scriptures, encourage your children to use all their senses as they learn about Easter and Jesus’ crucifixion. Children may enjoy touching and feeling real objects hidden in a “feely” bag. Cut out each flag. Children can colour in the images. Fold the top edge of the flag over and staple or glue to a ribbon to hang as Easter bunting. These simple images may also be used for material applique on fabric flags. Be sensitive and adapt your lessons to suit your child’s age and temperament.

Here is your free download ~ Easter Flags

For older children I also created some Easter Picture Collages.  

These are similar hands-on activities using all 5 senses, but this is more suited for older children as the images are more graphic, and some of the activities may not be suitable for young children.

Easter12

I wanted my daughter to use all her senses and physically act out as many of the scriptures of Easter as we could. Instead of me preparing the lesson activities, I printed out the collage images, gathered all the objects we needed and asked my child to create the activities with me for each lesson. This is child-led education — which is a joy to behold!

These are the items we collected for each theme:

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

Here is your free download ~ Easter Picture Collages

Here is a summary of some of the activities, thoughts and experiences of our Easter:

Easter1

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

Easter

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

Easter3

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

Easter10

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

Easter2

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

Easter4

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

Easter8

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

Easter5

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

Easter9

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

Collages1

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

Easter6

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

Easter7

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

May the Lord blessing you and your family in this Easter season,

In grace, Nadene

Khoikhoi House & Village 3D Model

I am happy to share my latest 3D paper model in a series of traditional African houses and villages ~ Khoikhoi House and Village.

The Khoikhoi were nomadic pastoralist indigenous people who lived in the southern parts of Africa and farmed with sheep, goats, and cattle. They traded with seafarers who landed at the Cape from all over the globe for centuries.

The Khoikhoi village was relatively large, and the Khoikhoi lived in round huts covered with reed mats that could be dismantled and re-erected in a new location when grazing in the area became depleted.  Each village had a headman who made decisions with the clans about when and where to move. There was a group that was more sedentary known as “Strandlopers” who live by hunting and gathering food along the beaches of south-western Africa, originally from the Cape Colony.

The 3D model of a Khoikhoi grass hut and village background triorama page (1-page triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page) is a 6-page purchase package download that includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. These illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. 

This grass hut template may look complex, but I have designed it so that most middle-school-aged children should manage to assemble the hut on their own.

Colouring-in, cutting out and creating these 3D houses and village models are a wonderful activity while mom reads-aloud. You can view details of the other African houses in the series — Zulu House & Village, the Xhosa House & Village and the San Bushmen House & Kalahari Desert background which are excellent hands-on activities that fit perfectly with Footprints in our Land, our South African, literature-based Social Studies curriculum.

These South African house and village downloads are purchase packages and I really appreciate your support, but I would love to share a freebie with you. Each house comes with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download. Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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San Bushmen House & Village 3D Model

I am happy to share my 3rd, and currently my favourite, 3D paper model of traditional African houses and villages ~ A San Bushman House and Village.

The San, also known as Bushmen, are the oldest native tribe that live in the vast Kalahari Desert regions of South West Africa. They lived in southern Africa long before European settlers and other Bantu tribes arrived. They are nomadic hunter-gatherers, and they set up temporary camps as a family-based society.

The 3D model of a San Bushman grass hut and the Kalahari Desert camp background triorama page (1-page triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page) is a 6-page purchase package download that includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. These illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. 

This grass hut template may look complex, but I have designed it so that most middle-school-aged children should manage to assemble the hut on their own.

Colouring-in, cutting out and creating these 3D houses and village models are a wonderful activity while mom reads-aloud. You can view details of the other African houses in the series — Zulu House & Village and the Xhosa House & Village which are excellent hands-on activities that fit perfectly with Footprints in our Land, our South African, literature-based Social Studies curriculum.

These South African house and village downloads are purchase packages and I really appreciate your support, but I would love to share a freebie with you. Each house comes with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download. Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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Xhosa House & Village 3D Model

Last week I shared my new Zulu House & Village, the first in a a series of my new paper models of African houses similar to those we used during our Footprints in our Land. Colouring-in, cutting out and creating models are wonderful hands-on activities while mom reads-aloud.

These South African house and village downloads are purchase packages and I really appreciate your support, but I would love to share a freebie with you. Each house comes with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

This week I would like to introduce my 3D paper model featuring a traditional Xhosa House and Xhosa Village.

This 6-page purchase package download of a 3D model of a Xhosa house and traditional Xhosa village includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. The Xhosa village background page is a 1-page triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page. The illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. 

Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download. Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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Zulu House & Village 3D Model

Children love to make paper models. These are a wonderful hands-on activities. My children enjoyed colouring in, cutting out and making things while I read-aloud. We made African houses while we did our Footprints in our Land and built paper models while we studied American History and World History.

Here my granddaughters, Emma, 5 and Kara, 4, are painting their triorama backgrounds.

I decided to create a series of African houses each with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

Here is a look at the first African house in my series download ~ a Zulu rondavel with a traditional Zulu village and kraal background.

This 6-page purchase package download of a 3D model of a Zulu house and traditional Zulu village includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. The Zulu village background page is a 1-page Triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page. The illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download.

Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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Fun Activities For Kids At Home

Here are some creative and fun learning activities links from my blog for your children to enjoy at home as we move into unprecedented changes in our lives with self-isolation and lockdowns due to the global covid-19 outbreak.

May I offer a few practical suggestions with these at-home activities?

  • Look for items that your children would enjoy.
  • Plan for 1 activity per day.
  • Keep things informal.  Don’t try to do school at home!
  • Take your time.
  • Don’t rush through a list.
  • If something sparks joy and delight — stay there and look for other similar activities rather than moving on to the next thing on your list.
  • Repeat.  Especially young children love to repeat an enjoyable activity.  Don’t be afraid to print things out and do it again if your child loved it.
  • Photograph and video them doing their activities.
  • Display their finished work each week on a door or shelf “gallery”.
  • Share their activities with grandparents and social groups to stay connected.

So here we go ~

  1. Paper dolls and paper men from different historical eras to colour in and cut out.  Use these as puppets for narrations.
  2. Narrations are the child “telling back” what he heard in a read-aloud. Narrations are the cornerstone of a Charlotte Mason education.  Children must pay close attention while they listen to the story so that they can make it their own and express what they remember and understood as they narrate.   I have collected over 100 narration ideas for every learning style.  In this Ebook, you will find lists of suggested activities for audio, visual, kinesthetic and creative learners along with templates and printouts.  You can see examples of the templates and ideas in the original post.
  3. Letterboxing – a great “treasure hunting” geography game to practice in your house and garden. Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring skills.
  4. Current Affairs is the study of social, political and important happenings in the world at the present time.  Use this Current Affairs download with calendar pages, maps, flags and symbols to chart the events around the world during the coronavirus crisis.
  5. Nature Study and enjoy the great outdoors with fun nature activities in three Smash Nature Journals.  Go to my  Packages page to order your Smash books.  If you order all 3 you get the third book free!
  6. 3D models such as the Little House in the Woods.
  7. Art appreciation activities of famous artworks and famous artists~
  8. Creative projects ~
  9. Bible activities ~
  10. Sight Words are frequently used words that your child should easily recognize in his reading.  In my Sight Words Ebook, you will have all the word lists, words in sentences, games and activity templates.spelling-templates-ideas.png (390×401)
  11. Handwriting practice with laminated charts and games. I have created a 20-page E-book is packed with practical tips and it includes helpful activities and fun pre-writing games to build up your child’s gross motor strength, develop fine motor control and develop their spatial awareness, correct posture and pencil grip for maximum control and minimum stress while learning to write.   Handwriting Tips Booklet $5.00 / ZAR5.00
  12. Hands-on activities ~ Here is a list of some of the many hands-on activities and posts on my blog ~

I hope that these posts and links and downloads inspire you in your homeschooling!

Wishing you all health, happiness and precious family times.

Blessings, Nadene

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Letter 27 – Creativity

As I reflect on my more than 23 years of homeschooling, I believe that creativity is the most wonderful gift you can give your children!   Here is the next letter to my younger self — Letter 27 ~ Creativity

These new collages are from images of our many creative moments over the years.  Warning ~ This post is chock-a-block full of links to previous creativity related posts; proof of my emphasis on creativity!  I recommend you bookmark this letter to come back to read all the links.)

Dear younger Nadene,

Your children’s happiest moments in homeschooling revolved around your creative approach which included frequent hands-on activities.  Realizing this joy, I want to urge you to provide daily creative opportunities such as arts & crafts and doing regular hands-on activities such as lapbooks, making models and paper projects, and allocate time for lots of dramatization.  Figure out how to fit in hands-on activities into your schedule, and these activities will become your children’s favourite homeschool memories.  Your Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays will save you and your children from burnout and stress! Over these years you will produce many creative projects.

Your children will create cute finger puppets for narrations, cut and colour Lego-punched dioramas for poetry, make models of Laura Ingalls’ Little House, dress up to act out their History narrations, re-create famous paintings in 3D, create their own sets of paper dolls.  Amazing mobiles will adorn your schoolroom for different themes and study topics. Every year you and your children will make puppet shows such as the Nativity Play and Esther play for Purim and their art will cover the walls in your home.

Your young children love to be creative every moment of the day!  In their free time, they love to dress up and you will even sew them boned corsets! You will make them a rag doll family to replace their Barbie dolls, and your middle daughter will use her skilled fine motor skills to create her own Polly pocket in a soap dish!

Join Sketch Tuesday and do art every week. There are so many advantages to sketching weekly! This simple weekly Sketch Tuesday activity will produce an enormous skill set and build confidence! Not only will it be the most welcome time of enjoyment and respite in your week, but it will offer regular opportunities to try new mediums and styles and your children will excel in all their artistic activities.

Because you provide them with a creative space and creative materials, they will also make jewellery and beautiful gifts.  Your daughters love creating beautiful flower arrangements. They will create beautiful rustic decor for their brother’s weddings.  Your daughters will become experts at home decor.  You will teach them all to sew and knit and your teenage daughters will start their own beautiful pyjama clothing range called La Lune

Your eldest daughter Tess will become an incredibly talented seamstress at just 15-years old, sewing dresses for weddings and Matric farewell functions.  She and her best friend will put on and host several fashion shows. When your daughter graduates, she will work in the hospitality industry for a season.  She will marry and her home will be filled with beauty and loveliness.  When they move Sedgefield, she will renovate and restore the old family seaside home into a lovely Airbnb.  Her homemaking, cooking and creativity will spill into every area of her life.

When your middle daughter Kate graduates, she will continue to create her own unique styled art, create professional designs and logos, and develop her digital art.  She will hone her photographic skills and assist her boyfriend Mathew with photography at weddings.  She will assist him in developing his website, his marketing and social media. Kate loves food and she will enjoy cooking Masterchef-type food!  She will become a singer and musician, teaching herself to play musical instruments.

Your youngest daughter Lara will do art every day.  Her Instagram feed is full of art, art and more beautiful art!  Lara and her talented wood craftsman boyfriend will start their own collaborative online art business called Collection Shed.  Joshua will make beautiful custom frames for Lara’s paintings!

Your children’s creativity and handicrafts skills will become great assets.   They have so much creative talent that it spills over into entrepreneur and job opportunities. They will start businesses, sell products at markets and online, work for art and animation studios, sell art via social media. All of them will develop wonderful unique artistic styles and their regular creativity will generate wonderful rich art portfolios. Your family will be known for its creative flair!   

You, too, will find great joy in doing creative projects, regularly sketching, painting, sewing, knitting, gardening and doing decor and DIY projects.  As your homeschooling journey nears the end, your lifestyle and time will allow for much more art and creativity, so it is a good thing to take part in arts and crafts with your children while they are still young.  Maintain your creativity as a hobby lifestyle, or as Charlotte Mason describes it as “Mother Culture” and you will have a fulfilling and joyful transition post homeschooling.

And very importantly, don’t be afraid of your children’s occasional boredom.  This time is the essential ingredient that is necessary for them to discover and develop their creativity!  In this day and age of constant stimulation and distraction, quiet undistracted time is a gift for creativity.  

Keep a simple schedule and avoid rush, stress and over-committed extra-mural activities.  Plan for days at home, free afternoons and long, unrushed weekends. 

Creativity also requires grace to learn, to experiment and to make mistakes. Offer your children and yourself gentle encouragement and avoid any comparisons.  Compliment and display your children’s art and keep trying new materials and techniques. 

Here are some wonderful creativity quotes ~

  • “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.”  Brene Brown
  • “Creativity is experimenting, growing, taking risks, making mistakes & having fun!” Mary Lou Cook
  • “Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
  • “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein
  • “You can’t use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou
  • “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” Joseph Chilton Pearce

With fondest love from your older and creative self, Nadene

I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic!  Would you share yours in the comments below?

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

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10 Tips on Reading Aloud

We have always used living books in our Charlotte Mason-based homeschooling.  Literature-based education requires a lot of reading aloud.  It takes effort, practice and skill to read aloud in a way that is engaging and entertaining.

Here are 3 lists of 10 tips on how to read aloud well ~20151210_180943

I absolutely love alliteration and when I researched this topic, I found Emily Guille-Marrett’s from Reading Fairy top tips on “How to read aloud well“.  She used P to begin each word in her list.  (I have added my own suggestions and points* to her list.)

  1. Purpose – Select a book that is written well and is suitable for being read aloud. Choose a book that features a character or a story your child can relate to. You must enjoy the book that you are reading  – your enthusiasm will be infectious!
  2. Preview – Read the story yourself first to know the story, characters, the vocabulary and style.  To read aloud well, it helps to read it yourself in advance.
  3. Prepare – When starting a new book, show your children the cover and illustration and describe the title and storyline. Tell them a little about the author and spend a few moments briefly telling them something about the story and characters.  When starting the next session, spend a moment with a quick recap of the previous reading.  Ask your children some leading questions such as, “What happened to …? How did our story end?” or begin with a short reminder of the last points of the earlier reading such as, “Remember last time …”
  4. Place – Choose a comfy couch to enjoy the read-aloud.  Allow children to snuggle close, or keep busy hands with quiet colouring-in or playdough or other hands-on activities while they listen.  Plan your reading aloud times and be consistent.
  5. Perform – Show enthusiasm! This is vital!  The key to successful read-aloud performance is to skim your eyes ahead to anticipate the story dialogue or action.  Then when you read aloud, read slowly.  This gives you time to change your voice for different characters, use accents,  use funny voices or pull different facial expressions,  even use appropriate movements,
  6. Projection, pitch, pace, pause and pose – Vary your voice with loud and soft, high and low, fast and slow.  Use pauses and silence for drama and impact.  My kids loved the suspense of cliff-hanger endings!
  7. Props and puppets – Kids love to participate.  They love interaction in read alouds!  Encourage them to make sounds effects such as animal noises, rumbling of thunder, clapping hands, adding hand movements or pretend to be the character.  This dynamic involvement makes a story unforgettable.  Encourage them to narrate the story after the reading using finger puppets, masks or hats which are quick and easy to make and use.   See the next point –
  8. *Presentations– Encourage active listening before you begin and tell your children that you require a detailed, accurate narration (telling-back) from your children when you have completed a paragraph, page or chapter.  Their narration should include the same style, vocabulary and detail used by the author.  This skill is a powerful teaching method.  Living books with narrations really teach!
  9. *Persevere –  Keep reading aloud to your children even when they can read for themselves.  Listening to read alouds required less concentration and skill to enjoy the story than reading to themselves and the intimacy and the dynamic of the performance of a read-aloud makes a book come alive.  Teens and even grown young adult graduate children still love read-alouds.  It is a family experience and not a school lesson.
  10. *Practice – Practice will make perfect, so keep practising.  You will be amazed by how your read-aloud skills develop as you keep going.

Here’s a summary of Anna of The Measured Mom’s  10 tips for reading aloud to kids of all ages.

  1. Start as soon as possible – even as babies, in the high chair or in the bath.
  2. Start with rhyming books – words and sounds that children love to hear over and over.
  3. Start simple and build to more complex books – begin with hardboard books, then go on to short picture books, more complicated picture storybooks, short chapter books,  funny stories, classic books, complex chapter books.
  4. Choose books that are appropriate developmentally – suitable for your child’s emotional and intellectual maturity.  Be aware of triggers or concepts that may alarm or frighten your children.
  5. Read them yourself first before reading aloud to your children.
  6. Do not be afraid to abandon a book that doesn’t suit or connect to your children or has content you are not comfortable sharing.  Don’t be afraid to skip parts of a book.  Replace bad language or skip any long boring passages,. Shorten sections when children are not interested.
  7. Follow through and be consistent.  Read regularly, read daily.
  8. Chose books that you enjoy reading aloud yourself.  You may not want to read books based on children’s movies or TV stories.  Chose quality books that you know is not fluff.
  9. Be interactive as you read.  Make your children part of the story.  Pause to ask their thoughts, opinions, consider what may happen, what a word means.
  10. Do not stop reading aloud when your children can read on their own.  It is important to keep reading because they can listen at a higher level than they can read.  It builds vocabulary,  teaches writing style, covers topics that teach and inform them.   High schoolers love good stories, fiction and non-fiction
  1. Preview the Book.
  2. Prepare a Comfy and Roomy Read-Aloud Area.
  3. Introduce the Book.
  4. Notice How You Hold the Book.
  5. Give It All You’ve Got!
  6. Involve Your Listeners.
  7. Help Children “See” the Story.
  8. Invite Children to Use Their Senses.
  9. Develop Ways to Respond to Questions
  10. Take Time for Discussion

There are so many videos and articles on how to read aloud well, but nothing replaces good old practice.  Just do it!   Read aloud often.  Read aloud dynamically and your children will love it and learn from it!

Do you have any read-aloud tips to share or problems you would like to discuss?  Please share in the comments below.

Blessings, Nadene
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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 ~