Painted School Room

Earlier this year I shared our fresh-look schoolroom.  I had pinned study decor ideas and hoped to paint my desk and all the bookshelves before the end of the year, and I did!

Here’s the before:Study1 Lara helped me move all the books and craft suitcases to the guest room.

During:StudyMy friend Mindy, an amazing artist and expert chalk-painter, helped me paint my desk.   She’s even making me customized glass drawer knobs to match my color-scheme!

I ran out of store-bought chalk paint and so I followed the DIY chalk paint recipes I found on the Internet and made my own using white grout.  It was rougher than the bought chalk paint, but worked just as well.  I painted the bookshelf backs in a lovely dusty blue.  Waxed and buffed, it was all done in 2 days.

And here’s the after:Study2While my kids were away, I sorted and repacked the books.  Despite my hubby’s initial comments that everything looked too white while I was still painting, the completed schoolroom looks delightfully fresh and light!

Painting with chalk paint is as easy as all the online tutorials say it is.  Quick and delightfully textured, the results were lovely!  I love it!

Blessings,

 

Fresh Schoolroom

Here’s a peep into our fresh-look schoolroom for 2015 ~

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We do most our homeschooling in our study-come-craft room. Squeezed into a small enclosed back stoep, we have all our bookshelves and our round table, my desk, the computer desk and sewing cabinet.

When the kids were young, we used a small plastic table and suitably sized plastic chairs. Once they were a little older, we all sat at our round table, the littlest one sitting high enough on booster cushions.

Now, teaching teens who are often busy  with individual creative artistic activities, we brought in one more table so that each person can spread out their things and work undisturbed.

I gave my youngest 12-year-old daughter her own more “mature” work space.

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  • She has all her school books, notebooks, ring binder, and personal stationary in a new storage box.  (Previously, we used chair bags or a space on a bookshelf next to the desk.)
  • The whiteboard is a good place for temporary displays, where our prestik doesn’t leave any residue.
  • Maps, our Theme of the Day and posters hang from hooks on the whiteboard.
  • Our display board clipboards were given a fresh coat of paint to match our new upholstery fabric.
  • The hook above her table is ideal to hang mobiles for our themes.

Every year I sort, rearrange and pack our books.  Colored stickers help us keep books in curriculum or age-appropriate order on our bookshelves. 3-20150123_065101

  • My high schooler chose to work at the round table.
  • She has a storage box on the shelf for all her school books and equipment.
  • I arranged our Science kits, reference books and nature study stuff together in storage boxes on an accessible part of the bookshelf.
  • All our maths games and kits, spelling games and other educational games or equipment are stored in labelled ice-cream boxes.
  • We store all our arts and crafts materials are stored in drawers and small plastic suitcases.
  • My 15-year-old has her own special art supplies and equipment in a plastic drawer system.

We have enjoyed the new layout and working arrangement! The kids love all the space and I love the organized freshness!

Blessings,

 

One Word Display

Every year I wait on the Lord for His word for me.

This year I received the word ~

Grace

As part of my study-schoolroom-craft room upgrade (which I will reveal … soon),  I created this simple embroidery hoop display ~

Creative ideas

 So simple and easy to make.  Easy to change the background fabric and the word … maybe for seasons and special days …

Some ideas of at JaneVille‘s One Word for 2015What is your One Word for 2015 and  more word lists.  Here are some lovely embroidery hoop ideas on Pinterest.

Blessings,

 

Handwriting Tips

Copywork pages

Teaching and practicing handwriting can be simplefree and quick using my laminated charts.  

Pop over to my Handwriting Free Pages for all handwriting lessons, tips and charts, and Copywork for  your copywork pages.

Purchase these helpful handwriting products available on my Packages page:

  • Handwriting Tips Booklet
  • Teaching Print Step-by-Step
  • Teaching Cursive step-by-step

Helpful Hints ~

When my children start learning their letter formation, they trace over the letter with a whiteboard marker. Later, when they practice handwriting, they use the chart for reference while they are copying.  They prop the chart up in a paper holder, which is very helpful in saving space on the table while we all work.)

Handwriting arrowsMy 9-year-old has already learnt her print and has recently mastered her cursive chart.  She now practices her cursive handwriting daily on copywork pages I have made. She uses famous quotes from the history time period we are studying, or she writes the Bible memory verses for that week.  All dictation work  is an opportunity to practice handwriting skills.

The children first used pencil for all written work, but after their confidence grew, they received  their “pen licence“. I have found the best results when my children use mechanical pencils.  These pencils usually have lovely soft plastic grips and their points never become dull and blunt, causing fat, smudgy writing.  My youngest child uses a very light hand pressure and so she needs to work with a soft 2B pencil lead.  My middle child presses harder and so she works best with normal HB pencil leads.

I recommend that children only use pens once they very seldom make mistakes as they all hate using Tipex.  My kids try very hard not to make mistakes, but if there is too much stress over mistakes, I recommend they continue with pencil work.  It is quite acceptable in homeschool, and with a little more practice, it will ease the transition.  Each child has their favourite pen.  One enjoys gel pens that flow smoothly, while the other prefers a light, very thin blue line and favors a specific brand ball point pen. I allow the older girls use glitter pens for copywork if they want to make it look special.

Children sometimes find purchased handwriting programs very boring and repetitive (endless rows of lines, curves or letters), but with copywork, they are writing “real writing“.  They enjoy recognizing excerpts from their read alouds, or quotations from their core readers.  Copying memory verses is an excellent way to learn the scripture verse.GradeOneLowerAndUppercaseChart

To do Copywork, children need to know both the upper and lower case forms of each letter. This is handwriting practice in context.  First practice lower case, then upper case, and then the paired letters on the next chart.

You can use your own fonts and make your own charts.

Hope that these tips help you and your children enjoy short, sweet handwriting lessons!

Blessings, Nadene

Alternatives

Not every homeschool day works well.  Some days are just blah, other days are bad.  There are stresses and struggles. And even when you have good days, they can become predictable and boring.

It helps to have some alternatives.20140318_115016

Switch subjects

We usually start with the basics; Bible, Maths, Spelling & Dictation, Language Arts, but sometimes we start with Core instead, or sit together for Read Aloud time, or start our Theme of the Day activity we normally do after lunch before the rest.  Beginning with a “fun” subject or activity can defuse any difficulty.  I often ask my youngest what subject she would like to start.  I give her a choice in leading her own homeschool day and so she doesn’t feel that I am dragging her through the motions.  She leads and feels motivated.

Sit somewhere new

Move outside, inside, under a tree, on the carpet, in the sunshine, in the shade, on the couch, in bed, outdoors, rearrange the study. By simply changing the learning environment, the whole atmosphere and one’s attitude changes.  And moms need this change as much as the kids!

When I was a senior primary school teacher I use to rearrange my classroom and seating for each new theme.  I created a coral island, a police academy, a courtroom, a puppet theater.  The buzz outside my classroom before the kids came in was electric!  I didn’t need to do much more to motive my kids!

Start a new read aloud

I have stated that reading aloud is the glue that holds homeschool together.  Sometimes, it may be the only homeschool we do when someone is sick, or when visitors stay, when the schedule is disrupted or when someone simply wants to give up.  If the current book doesn’t sparkle, gently lay it aside and go find a wonderful book that grips hearts and minds and takes you and your kids on a journey!

Get physical

Do something active!  A nature walk revives a weary spirit.  A good run, skipping with a rope, or jumping on a trampoline helps rev up the metabolism and energizes one.  Science experiments or hands on activities are stimulating and exciting. I often plan several alternative activities for each theme so that I can inspire fresh enthusiasm with a fun activity.  It’s amazing what a child can learn when creating a mobile or making a model.

Sing or do Fine Arts

Learning with catchy songs and music is fun and it sticks!  Our Geography Songs CD are a lifelong legacy!  Singing connects the group and music lifts the spirit.  Fine Arts (art, music, poetry etc.) inspire us, ease the soul and minister to our hearts.  Sometimes our Friday Fine Arts day is the only day that we love.

Don’t get stuck in a rut.  Switch things about a little and discover a new zeal and enthusiasm!

What alternatives worked for you?  Please share ideas in the comments.

Blessings,

Child-led Science Experiments

When we tailor-made this year’s homeschooling for my youngest (she’s 12-years-old) she requested ~

Science Experiments

As I have learnt to “let go” and let her take the lead for her maximum learning enjoyment, I wanted her to be able to “do her own thing”.  We set up a Science Experiment center on our bookshelf.  I simply gathered whatever I had accumulated from our homeschooling curriculums.  Our Science kit and reference books are all from previously purchased Sonlight packages.

Science experiments3

We spent our first session looking through and discussing each item in the Science kit.  We browsed through our Science books and decided which topics she most wanted to study or which apparatus she most wanted to work with.

I have found that if I establish the correct procedures and a few basic safety rules, my children can work quite independently.  (This is true for all other activities such as art, cooking and baking, cleaning house, sewing, washing and ironing.)

Essentially ~ Be safe.  Work carefully.  Clean up after yourself.

Science experiments1

Although I wanted her to have fun, I explained the basic approach used in scientific methodology.  Worded informally, yet covering science concepts, I have found that these principles develop proper scientific thinking.  For example:

  1. What are you studying? = Title
  2. What are you trying to find out? = Question
  3. What is needed? = Materials
  4. What do you predict (or think) will happen? = Hypothesis
  5. Describe what you do step-by-step = Method
  6. Compare with something that does not change = Control
  7. What did you see? = Observation
  8. What did you learn from this? = Inference

Of course, many experiments require a very simplified version of these points above, and, depending on your child’s age and ability, these questions could be simply summed up ~

  1. Title
  2. What I did.
  3. What happened.
  4. What I learnt.

I created a variety of Science Experiment Notebook pages for her. I printed the notebook bundle and she selects a notebook page to suit her experiment and her approach.Science Experiments

She has spurts of Science lessons, some weeks doing almost 3 a day, and other weeks simply reading the books.  Recent unseasonably warm weather made water experiments fun outdoor activities!Science experiments2

My daughter is very visual and loves to draw very detailed diagrams of her experiments.  I have requested that she label items clearly in print and give every picture a caption or descriptive sentence.

I am often her lab assistant and scribe.  I jot down her dictated notes because I want her to focus on the actual activities and not get bogged down in the difficult job of writing her notebook pages, but I have gently encouraged her to note some of the simpler experiments.

In essence, she initiates and leads her Science lessons and activities.  I am there, but as support and encouragement, participating as one discovering alongside my child, and it is really exciting and awesome!

It works for us!  What works for you?

Here is your free download ~ Science Experiment Notebook bundle

Blessings,

New Fun Art!

For a while my 12-year-old has avoided been reluctant about her art.  So sad. Somehow, her perfectionism got in the way of her creativity.  And, perhaps I focused too seriously on Charlotte Mason art appreciation lessons rather than presenting her simple art fun.

I was delighted when I came across this book at our local library ~

A Usborne Activities 365 Things to Draw and Paint  by Fiona Watt

(ISBN 978-1-86806-319-2)

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According to the title, this book offers amazing art activities for every day for a whole year!  Actually, each double page layout presents several interconnected ideas, and so you have about 126 lessons here instead of 365.

Much to my delight, Miss.L12 immediately tagged about 30 pages and we decided to try to do one a day!

Here is how fabulous Miss.L12 felt about her first art lesson!

Art fun

And I’m smiling too!

What I like about these art activities is the simplicity of the lesson combined with an exploration of different creative techniques such as printing, rubbings, splatters, cutting out, doodles … superb creative fun!

Here is our “Laboratory Experiments” activity with blowing, splatter and print art elements ~

Art fun1

And here is our “Printed Fruit & Vegetables” with finger painting, print techniques and rubbings for the fruit crates.  Again, huge success!

Art fun2

I’m doing these art activities along with my daughter and we are having such a lovely creative time!

I guess that I am going to renew this library book several times! [smiles]

Blessings,

 

Zoology 3 Land Animals

We have completed our Exploring Creation with Zoology 3  Land Animals Apologia Science book.

Science

We took our time, and spent about 18 months enjoying our reading, researching and discoveries.  I LOVE to take things slowly.  In all our years of homeschooling, I must endorse this – take your time with the things your kids enjoy!

Flesh it out, savor it.

Delve deeper, dig out more.

Delight yourselves in discovery!

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All the way through our studies, my daughter pasted the images of each animal mentioned in each chapter onto continent maps.

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For this activity ~

  1. Download and print out your free pictures ~ Land Animal Pictures and classification table ~ Table Classification of land animals
  2. Print out maps for each continent – Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Oceania. (Our Middle East map was still empty at the end of our study.)

We have enjoyed our Land Animal mobile hanging over our study table for the past year … P1160088-002

Pop over to the original blog post and here is your free download ~ Classification Table+cards.  This is a simplified version of Animal Classification.

But now it is time to take it down to make way for our next Science book … Astronomy!

Blessings,

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,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching 24 Hour Clock

My visual learner needed a 24 hour clock with colored indicators for am or pm and the 24 hour numbers.  She and I discussed how we could show the difference between daytime and nighttime on a clock and came up with this idea ~

24 hour clock

To start, begin inside the clock at 12 midnight. Follow around the thin blue circle until it becomes orange, indicating day time. Continue following around the thin inner orange circle until you reach 12 noon.  Now slide outside the clock continuing around the broad orange circle for the 24 hour daytime hours.  At 18 hours, the broad outer circle turns blue, indicating the start of nighttime.

Place this clock inside a plastic protector and use whiteboard markers to write the digital times and the matching clock hands. My youngest daughter and I enjoy taking turns in drawing the clock hands to show the times and writing digital times!

There are separate hour, minute and second hands which you could attach to the clock with a split pin.

Download and enjoy this middle school maths activity ~ 24 hour clock.

  • Khan Academy has fabulous maths video lessons and exercises to teach the time.
  • Maths is Fun has lovely clear images and explanations on clocks.
  • Maths Games.org includes lots of different times and clock games and activities.

Blessings,