Sunday, January 19, 2014

Parts of Speech Lesson Plan!

I thought of this as a fun game to help my child learn the parts of speech and get him moving around!  It's pretty simple and here is what you'll need :

construction or white paper
list of nouns, verbs and adjectives

All you do is write a noun, verb or adjective down on a piece of paper.  One word per paper making sure there's a good mix of each.  Then, set them up like a puzzle board or maze.  Throughout the puzzle board, put some of your child's favorite stuffed animals / toys.  Have the child start at one side of the board and call out "noun" or "verb" or "adjective".  The child must move to that part of speech.  Make sure you call out a part of speech your child can actually move to and help them navigate through the puzzle collecting animals.

We're going to try this tomorrow so I'll let you know how it works.  Or feel free to comment and let me know how it works for you guys!  There's a bunch of variations you can come up with so have fun!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Around the World

I'm excited to start preparation for the our Christmas around the world lesson plans.  I'm only going to door three countries, and then the week before Christmas focus in the United States.  I've decided to go with Italy, Israel and Mexico because I found them the interesting and think my son will enjoy learning about their traditions.

So how do you go about making a Christmas Around the World Lesson Plan without spending a lot of money?  First, as always, start with google.  :)  This was a good site to get the ball rolling:
First, I'm going to get three brown paper bags (old Whole Food bags) and decorate them with the flags of the country that we'll be focusing on for the lesson.  My son will get to open up the bag and inside will be the items I want to highlight.  So for Italy, I decided to focus on the Urn of Fate and Befana, the kind witch.   I'll use a regular kitchen mixing bowl for the Urn and while it'd be cool to have some sort toy witch (you may have one, although I don't think we do) I may just have to print out a picture and paste it on a Popsicle stick and use it as a puppet.  We'll go over the traditions and he'll pick something from the Urn of Fate.  Very simple, short, but for a small child with a short attention span, effective.

I'm thinking of getting some books from the library about Christmas in the various countries, then doing Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast them with the US.  I may also use one of his stuffed animals and pretend the animal is from that other country.  Then the animal can introduce the tradition.  I know it's a simple idea, but anything that involves stuffed animals keeps my kids attention way longer than if it's just me talking.

So that's my jumping off point.  I only have a few days to get it together, so I better get to it! Pictures to come....

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Novmber Update

Yes, it's been awhile.  Let me tell you a little bit about what we've been up to for the past few months:

First off, I've been doing much more writing, including NaNoWriMo.  This has made it a bit more challenging to keep up to date on my blogs.  However, I'm about 29,000 words into my second first attempt at NaNoWriMo (if you're curious why it's my 2nd attempt, follow my blog 

Second, we've been very busy church shopping...again.  I'm  happy to report that we've found a great contemporary service that we're settling into.  Let's hope this works out!

Ok, and now for homeschool.  I continue to use the Saxon Math grade 3 for my little man.  He's in kindergarten, but he's very good with numbers so I find myself working with Saxon and supplementing with fun online worksheets, or homemade activities.  We're up to our 5 multiplication tables and I show him the School House Rock videos each class to help get him reciting the tables a bit quicker.  Saxon has us doing temperature, money and fractions in addition to the multiplication.

He loves to play math baseball with some really simple paper bases I made.  An addition problem answered correctly lands him on first, a subtraction gets him to second, a multiplication is third and a word problem or fraction lands him a home run.  Since he's an only child, I usually play along with him asking me math problems, or we use his animals (he asks his animals questions and cracks up when "they" get them wrong.)

We've taken a detour from Saxon K Reading.  It's all basically a letter a day, which we focused on in preschool, so I'm making it up as I go along.  Should I admit that? :)  I have a bunch of workbooks, just really basic things you can get at Target, that introduce parts of speech and types of literature.  Then I went online to see what my state's common core guidelines for grade K state, then I basically just go down the core list and teach it off the top of my head.

This method has actually proven rather effective.  We've learned nouns, verbs, couplet poems, and the difference between non fiction and fiction.  We've mapped a few stories with Venn Diagrams, also.  In addition, I make him read all the instructions whenever we do worksheets.  He's not a fan of reading, and I don't want to over push, so unless he asks to read a book, I usually read during story time.

His reading has improved on it's own.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but over the summer we created a 100 Book Read challenge.  If, as a family, we collectively read 100 books over the summer break, we'd have a big family sleepover.  Our son loved it and that's really when he started to pick up on sight words and sound blends.  His reading blossomed over the summer so I'm not as worried about it as I once was.  I'd saw that he's right on track with his grade K peers.

I also do health, a bit of science and history, although I'm looking for a really good history curriculum.  Any suggestions?

As far as my organization skills go, they've completely gone down hill.  I used to grade everything right away and mark the grade in my planner.  Now, once a month, I sit down to a pile of his work and grade it in one night, then mark it in my planner.  But I figure as long as I'm keeping track, does it really matter if it takes me a few extra weeks?  :)

So that's where we are.  My only suggestions at this point is to explore co-ops if you haven't already.  We've been loving ours!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Maybe "unhomeschooling" is the way to go?

Things continue to progress.  I woke up feeling rather ill today so my husband took my son to his co-op classes.  So far, my son is enjoying the lessons at his school and I've really excited with what I've seen as well.  Last week, he came home with a bottle of pretend blood.  His class has been learning all about the body - brains, lungs, heart - and so they used candy and some lima beans to reconstruct the elements of blood.  How fun is that??  And it was a fantastic hands on activity I'm sure he'll remember for some time.

I've been thinking a lot about school and lesson plans lately.  Basically, I've been thinking about unnecessary they really are and I've been considering switching to a more liberal approach.  Liberal meaning that we don't sit in the classroom as much.  In fact, I don't even tell him that what we're going is school, but rather just let him play and explore and learn on his own, much like I did up until the beginning of kindergarten.  And to be fair, we still do a lot of that hands on, self directed learning.  But we also meet in the school room three days a week, sit down, and get to business.  Frankly, it's boring but effective.  After all, at some you just have to sit down and learn the proper way to the write the letter "p", right?

But I love how excited my son is about the world around him.  I love that we go outside and he can instantly get distracted by a the bird nest in our tree and start asking me all sorts of questions about baby birds.  That's so much more fun that sitting in a classroom.

I keep telling myself that this is a great approach for this age, but what about when he gets older?  Do we need to start sitting at the desk and focusing more in order to get prepared for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, ect. ect....If anyone does this sort of "unhomeschooling", what do your days look like?  I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Saxon Review

Ok, so it's time to review the Saxon curriculum.  I know, you're very excited :)

I got the Saxon Phonics for grade K and the Saxon Math for grade 3.  Let's start with phonics.

The book whole Saxon phonics program comes with workbook, flash cards and letter strips the help reinforce the daily lesson, which is basically A Letter A Day program.  The lessons consist for saying a word that starts with the letter, having the student repeat the word, write the letter, and even map the word to identify short or long sounds.  As the lessons progress, you build on previous sounds.  So one day you do the short o, and the next you do t and then on the t lesson, the words you learn incorporate the short o sound.

It's a bit tedious, especially for my child who cannot sit still.  It does have some ideas about going on letter hunts, where the child searches for objects that start with a certain letter.  But most of it is taught while the child is sitting at a desk, listening to you and working on a worksheet.  If your child can sit still, I would recommend this.  If you're kid is more hands on and out of their seat, I recommend using this as a guide and adding various activities on your own.

For my kid, I follow the basics of the Saxon program.  I do a letter a day, we write it and say it out loud, but we don't map letter sounds or do the worksheets.  We do the letter hunts, or hangman, or I write of words on the board and we figure out which have short or long vowel sounds. 

Overall, I do like the Saxon phonics program, but it needs to fit your kid and for mine, it's a bit too formatted.

Now for the Saxon Math grade 3.  I don't know if all Saxon math programs are like the grade 3, but it's a different way to approach math than I'd been doing previously.  Instead of working one concept for many days then moving to another, the program does mini lessons on various subjects everyday.  So for example, one day we learned about clocks and reading time.  The next day we did doubles additions then reviewed our clocks by doing some simple "what time is this?" sort of problems.  The next day we did greater than, less than, equal then and we also reviewed our doubles.  See the pattern?

I'm truly interested to see how this program effects my kids math skills.  He's pretty good with numbers and really enjoys this subject.  Before starting the Saxon program, we already did addition, subtraction and multiplication up to the 3s table, plus we did money and clock work.  So for us, this is review, but it gets into more complicated material a bit later.  Still, I wonder if this sort of approach will prove more effective than just sticking with one subject until he masters it completely, then moving on.

It seems a bit scattered, but on the positive side it does keep math more interesting because we're doing something different everyday.  But is he learning it in these little bursts?  I know Saxon has been around for a while so it must work.  I'm going to keep with the program and see how it goes.  I've been supplementing a bit here and there, just to make sure he doesn't forget what he's already learned.

Overall, I'd say give the Saxon math a try.  It's worth a go.  I'll do another review when we get into more difficult material.

I hope you found this a little helpful.  Feel free to leave reviews of the programs you like!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Yup, my kid is weird.

I ran into a mom I know from church who told me she's also interested in homeschooling her two little girls.  I love getting the opportunity to gush about the amazing benefits of homeschooling, especially to someone open to the idea.  As I began to tell her a little about what my son and I do, she stopped me and asked the inevitable question :

"What about socialization?"

(whack my hand against my forehead)

Ok, I've talked about this before in previous blog posts and in the FAQs, but I'm going to talk about it again.  I know it's a bit concern for a lot of parents interested in homeschooling and I know it's a key point used by those who oppose homeschooling.  So let's get down to it.

What everyone really wants to know is.....if I homeschool, will my kid be weird?

Yup.  You're kid will be weird.  Now let me define "weird" according to what I've seen by my own kid, his friends (what??  he has friends as a homeschooler??...I'll wait while you pull yourself together after this startling realization :)  )  and those he goes to his co-op thingy with.

Your child won't know who Miley Cryus, Justin Bieber, One Direction or Selena Gomez is.  Frankly, I don't think they'd care to know even if given the chance.

Your child probable won't use the term "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" until an appropriate age.  Weird, right?  I mean, can you imagine your second grader NOT talking about having a boyfriend or girlfriend?

Your child will be able to talk to adults.  In fact, he or she will be rather comfortable talking to adults.  My kid orders for himself at restaurants.  I wasn't doing that as a kindergartener because I was too shy. 

Your kid will like school.  Why?  Because chances are, the parent teaching is working at the kid's pace, taking time to go over difficult subjects, and doing enhancement activities that public schools simply don't have the time and resources to do.  (This isn't a diss on public schools.  I think teachers are way under valued and under paid for their hard work.)

Oh, and here is the weirdest thing of all that I've seen from homeschoolers.  THEY ACT THEIR AGE!  Really take a second and think about this one, because frankly I think it's what people find the weirdest.  Five year olds are suppose to act like kids, not mini tweens.  I personally think our kids grow up way too fast these days so when someone sees a child acting their age, they think they're "weird."  No, they're just being a kid.

Ok, so I know that my list may upset some people.  I'm not saying that ALL homeschoolers follow these trends or that ALL public school kids don't.  Every kid is different and they're all parented differently, so I know that this doesn't apply to everyone.  I'm just saying somethings I've seen.

Oh, and one more thing.  Does anyone else notice that the first thing homeschool parents are asked is "What about socialization?"  It's NEVER "what type of curriculum do you use?".  It's never about education, also about socialization.  Weird, right?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Schedule.

This is a picture of my "organized" lesson planner.  A lot of homeschooling parents have different ways to keep themselves organized.  This is actually my first year using a planner.  In the past, I would have everything in a giant 2 inch three ring binder, each subject separated, and a ton of blank sheets of paper in the front.  I usually made up lessons as I went along so I would document our activities on the blank sheets of paper, noting things I wanted to work on later in the week.  It was a pretty good method, but I needed something a little more condensed for Kindergarten.

As you can see, I still lack the ability to stay on track....but let's face it, homeschooling is awesome because we're able to change subjects on a whim based on our child's curiosity.

So I try to map out three days worth of lessons.  We do Monday, Wednesday and Friday then he'll go to a co-op the other days.  I color code based on what we do that day, and as you can see we often switch lessons around.  Flexibility is key as a homeschooling parent!  Also, my son wanted to do some water experiments on Thursday so I turned that into a science experiment. 

I made sure to document how many hours we did, which is really important.  You need to keep accurate attendance and you need to adhere to your state regulations.  I was worried I wouldn't be able to get 4 hours of instruction time in (my kid can't sit still for 4 hours) but I found that it's actually pretty easy if I work with him and allow him to explore in depth his interests, instead of adhering strictly to what I intended to teach.

I know this sort of flexibility can be a bit intimidating.  What if he starts asking questions I don't know the answers to?  What if we spend all day doing math and never get to reading?  How will he ever learn his letters?  As far as the latter is concerned, if he goes off on one subject on Monday, I make sure to start with a different subject on Wednesday so he gets both subjects in for the week.  Now for the first question.  Yes, he's asked questions I don't know the answers to, but we just look them up and continue learning.  It's ok to not have all the answers.

How do you keep yourself organized?  I always love to hear tips from fellow homeschool parents!