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,

How to Fit in Creative Hands-on Ideas

Commenting on my recent post “Make Memories with Hands-on Activities” a reader asked ~

How do you do it all and where do you get all your creative ideas from?”

As many other readers may wonder and ask similar questions, I thought I would answer in a full post.

Firstly, I DON’T “do it all”!  I think this post may describe my failings and fears of not getting it all done!  But here are a few simple strategies to plan and add hands-on activities and to create fun learning opportunities in our homeschooling experiences.

1.  Plan it 

Start with your year plan or the book index.  Look over all the main topics and themes in the schedule that may provide interesting activities and highlight them.  Add a few days to a week, or even longer for your activities, depending on the activity.  Usually I source (or create) a lapbook and a few quick hands-on activities for each theme.  We don’t always do them all, but I like to have some options planned.

Essentially I extend our 1-year schedule to 18 months or even 2 years.  I have NEVER regretted taking our time with extra hands-on activities, but have always regretted rushing on when there was still a sparkle of interest and enjoyment.  None on my children have ever fallen behind academically.  Carry on with the 3’Rs (Maths, Spelling, Phonics/Reading, Handwriting) according to their normal grade schedules and simply extend your core.  At first, you may feel anxious, but don’t worry.  You will find your rhythm and flow.

2. Pinterest  Pinterest Homeschool

Where did I find my ideas?  In my early years, I simply Googled the topics and themes for projects, plans, ideas and activities.  These days, Pinterest is a fantastic resource!  Type in your search topic and pin away! (Here are my Homeschool, Art, Famous Artists, Bible, Nature, Maths, English, Printables and Science boards.)

Practical Tip:  

While I search, I use Microsoft OneNote (here’s an online tutorial) to collect all my ideas so that I can work with them offline. Other folk swear by Evernote.  (Read the comparison between them here and here. ) OneNoteWhatever works for you is fine! 

I love OneNote because I can easily create tabbed notebooks and sub-tabbed pages.  OneNote automatically adds link and web addresses whenever you copy text or images.  I especially like the screen clip insertions as it gives me quick visuals of my searches.  OneNote  allows you to attach files, pages and portions from the Internet to the notepage, so everything is in one place and saved automatically. Later, I play around with my Internet finds and create my projects and pages.

3. Print & Prepare

After collecting my hands-on activity ideas, I create my pages and then print everything out and prepare the work.  After many years of homeschooling I have found all these time-saving tips for doing lapbooks that really work. We save time and avoid much frustration if we cut, fold and pack all the minibooks and store them in Ziplock bags, or better still, paste all the minibooks into the file folders ready for our lapbook sessions.  I file my lapbook planner with the index page and notes, all ready to whip out when we need them.

4. Promote it

Usually our hands-on activities are the best part of our theme.  My kids love to know what hands-on activities they will do with each new theme or topic. Introducing a theme with a hands-on activity is so stimulating!  But if we need to first do read alouds, narrations and notes, then the hands-on activity is a wonderful reward to complete the work.  If interest flags, or kids are tired, sick or unmotivated, hands-on activities revives our days.

5. Provide options  Science experiments2

Children have unique interests and learning styles.  I find that younger children need more physical activities, while older kids may prefer creative activities. One of my children is very shy, while the other loves to act out scenes and present puppet shows and speeches.  One is very visual, while the other loves listening.  One is very left-brained and logical, the other very fluid and right-brained.  Find activities that serve the individuals as well as the group.  Co-op with other families for added hands-on excitement!

When teaching several children together, (and I highly recommend moms combine their close-aged children on the same core) it is good to have options and allow the kids choose what activity they would prefer to do.  My kids notebook in individual ways, uniquely combining notebook pages with their minibooks, and I try to create pages and projects that are open-ended and flexible.

Many of our activities have started with an idea which the kids developed and fulfilled in ways that I did not necessarily anticipate.  The more I homeschool, the more I realize that my kids love to take an idea and run with it!  I am often simply a facilitator!  More and more, I am learning to let go and allow my kids to lead & take charge of their learning experience.

Whether your hands-on activities are “extras” or essentials in your homeschooling, please plan time for them, take your time and enjoy these homeschool moments!

Blessings,

 

Solar System Mobile

Another mobile?” you may ask.

Solar system mobile

Solar System Mobile

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

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

Solar system mobile1

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun making your solar system model!

Blessings,

Around the World Mobile

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

Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

Here are my free downloads ~

Quick reference list ~

Some things to note ~ 20140721_153542

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

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

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

Blessings,

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

Easter Pictures & Hands-on Activities

Here are some Easter hands-on activities inspiration ideas!

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. 

I created some Easter picture collages.  Easter12These are suitable for middle school children and contain some images that may not be suitable for young children.

Instead of me secretly preparing the lesson activities, I asked her to join me and gather all the objects we needed.  (Note to self: This is an amazing motivation!  She loved helping create the lessons with me!)  I wanted her to use all her senses and physically act out as many of the scriptures of Easter as we could.

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

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.  Easter1

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.  Intimate. Easter

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. Easter3

We washed one another’s feet. Just like Jesus did to His disciples. Humbling and so lovely. Easter10

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. Easter2

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. Easter4

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?  Easter8

Thorns pricked us as we made the crown and really hurt!  Easter5

Hammering in nails into wood it a tough job.  Bang! Bang!  Imagine nailing through hands and feet?  How awful!  Our hearts ached. Easter9

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. Collages1

Now Jesus cries out and someone gives Him vinegar.  Yech!  It tastes bitter.  No one can drink that stuff! Easter6

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. Easter7

For families with younger children, I created simple Easter Flags. Easter14Each flag covers the same themes as the activities above, and young children can do many of the hands-on activities.  Be sensitive and adapt your lessons to suit your child’s age and temperament.  Your children can cut out, color-in and hang folded over ribbon as bunting.

Join us for your Easter Bible studies.  Here are your free downloads ~

Blessings in this Easter season,