Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Speaking & Vocabulary among other things.

If you don't receive Above Rubies magazine, go to and sign up for the emails and magazine now.  It's been a real blessing to me.

In the February 2010 issue, Nancy Campbell gave her usual update concerning her family.  What really caught my eye, was a birthday tradition they do and one of their family's homeschooling activities.

First, "At each birthday, everyone gives a speech to the birthday person.  We say all the good things we feel about them, affirming them in their character qualities and blessing them...Over the years, we have noticed that these birthday person, but they have the added advantage of teaching the children to learn to give speeches.  This is preparation for learning how to "speak in the gates."  In my Above Rubies #77 editorial, I wrote about how God wants us to prepare our children to be able to speak and contend for the truth in the governing places of the city and nation.  It is in "the gates" that laws are made to affect the nation."

Second, continuing the thought, "It doesn't happen by chance.  We must prepare and train them, not only in godly convictions, but how to communicate these convictions.  Because I want our children to understand the roots of our founding fathers and our great Constitution, I decided to have a class to discuss these issues.  Each morning, Mercy [one of her daughters] six of the grandchildren, from 11-17 years come together.  Currently, I read to them from Liberty and Tyranny, A Conservative Manifesto by Mark Levin.  We rarely get through a chapter each day.  Instead, I read about 12 pages and we discuss the issues together.  I also choose new words from the chapter for them to learn  I give each a page a day with seven to ten words and their meanings plus a few quotes from what we have read.  They have to choose one of the words to write a sentence which they bring the next morning to read aloud.  Yesterday, Meadow won the prize for incorporating four new words into one sentence!  Wow!  Not to be beaten, Zadok included five of the words in one sentence today!"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Various ideas

I'm trying to finish my idea cards.  Some may apply to homeschool while others might be more applicable to a classroom but that could even be a Sunday school classroom.

 Calendar & Post Cards make good sources of art prints.

Bulletin Board ideas:
God let's all things fall into place (autumn)
Map with current events pinned on the correct locations
Awesome Autumn

3-D board ideas:
balloons attached by the string
school supplies-push long straight pins halfway into to bulletin board in a row, then rest items on them
hand puppets or small stuffed animals
real clothing w/ drawn head hands and legs
book jackets
wrapped candies & empty food containers
Christmas ornaments

Different caption ideas:
Write in script
mount each letter on paper cutouts in simple shapes (hearts, shamrocks, snowflakes)
cut the letters out with pinking shears
cut letters from wallpaper samples, newspaper, or graph paper
hand-tear paper into various shapes instead of cutting it
cut out two sets of letters and mount them one on top of another for a shadow effect.

Use old vinyl place mats with pattern blocks & cuisinaire rods.  They muffle noise & prevent pieces slipping between cracks.  Solid colors work best.

Large number game
1. Divide paper plate into ten sections and label each with a number 0-9.  Make spinner from paper clips and pencil.
2. Create place value charts that can write ten rows of of number.
3.  To get starting numbers.  players spin 6 times and write digits obtained from each spin in the places across top row from hundred thousand to ones.
4.  Players take turns spinning and replacing one digit with a new number they spin.  Write new number on successive rows.  574325
5.  Winner of game is the player with the biggest number on the last row.
6.  Can have students write descriptions of strategies they used to play.  Discuss whether they could apply their strategies to make smallest rather than the largest number.

Research Bank
Pass out a few manila file folders per student.  Let each child think of a particularly interesting topic (whales, video games, ballet) and neatly write the subject on the folder tab.  Put the folders in alphabetical order in an easily accessible file.  Every time you or your students find info (newspaper or magazine article for instance) about the topic place it in the file.  Add new topic folders whenever children think of them.  You and your students will use this resource over and over.

Creative Writing
Have class brainstorm words that are both colors and nouns (emerald, lemon, rust, cream, rose, etc.)  Post list and tell students that for next writing assignment ask them instead to substitute words from the list the class created.

After you've introduced a new concept, ask students to turn to person next to them to explain or discuss a certain topic.

Collect old metal campaign-type buttons (political headquarters, travel agencies, etc.)  Give a sticker for each job well done and have them put it on the button.  Cover the face of the button.  Once they've covered their buttons, have a special day for wearing the button.

Inexpensive plastic tablecloths for painting and messy projects.
Refrigerator boxes, turned on their sides for a quiet reading space.
Rope plant hangers and plastic flower pots to hang from the ceiling for extra storage.
An old step ladder for displaying plants dioramas and art projects.
Telephone books for practice with alphabetizing and categorizing.
Old shower curtain liners for making giant game boards for floor maps.
Pant hangers for hanging chart paper and large sheets of newsprint.

Reading display:
Reading race-feet with books read.
Bookworm-each section of the work is a book read.

Beg a Branch
clear plastic bag without holes
1.  Choose a deciduous tree.
2.  Slip bag over end of bag enclosing as many leaves as possible.
3.  Gather and tie open end around branch.
4.  Write  down what you think will happen.
5.  After several hours check results.

Shamrock language arts & science
The shamrock (clover leaf) is the national symbol of Ireland because the Irish believe it was originally planted by St. Patrick.  Since three was considered a lucky number, the tri-leafed plant was said to bring good fortune.  Have your students use botanical identification books (try Peterson's Guide to Wildflowers) with bright colors and interesting descriptions to pick a plant that they think symbolizes America, their family, or even themselves.  Have them make a detailed drawing of the plant and write a paragraph explaining why they chose it.  This is a great activity to start off a science unit on plants.

Beginning of Year--Time Capsules
First of year divide class into groups of 3 or 4 and have each group decide what to include.  Suggest they measure each other with string, write short stories, or attempt math problems.  Have each group seal in decorated shoe boxes, milk cartons, or toilet paper rolls.  At end of year, open time capsules to see physical and academic growth.

Snowman-math and language arts
Have students build a snowman and keep a snowman's journal
Describe the snowman's properties (color, shape, size)
Record daily the height and chest measurements of the snowman
Record the temperature of the snowman and air temperature each day.
Predict when it will be completely melted.
Have students illustrate the 3 states of matter for their snowman.
Challenge older students to find mass and volume of snowman.
Write several sentences from the snowman's perspective describing how it feels to melt.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Handwriting For Reading: Nature

Today's freebie from is Handwriting For Reading: Nature .

Handwriting For Reading is a daily handwriting assignment, that upon completion, results in a story book your student has written and illustrated themselves! Each page has a sentence starter they can copy and complete on the lines. After they have completed the writing section of a page, they can then draw a picture in the box above their text to illustrate their book!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dan's Doodles III

This week's freebie from CurrClick is Dan's Doodles III.

"Dan’s Doodles III has finally arrived. It contains 30 all new designs, guaranteed to keep little, and big hands busy for hours.
If you enjoyed our first two books of doodles you will really enjoy this latest issue. We continue to be amazed at how many people are enjoying these.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions - and remember, all the doodles are on the odd numbered pages so you can easily just print them and not the blank pages."

Using words that BLESS

The HSLDA has started a serious about how children speak.  I'm posting two days worth here becuase in them they explain the acrostic BLESS.

Something to Say

Have you ever used that line from Bambi, “If you can”t say something nice, don”t say nothing at all“? But good speech goes beyond what you don’t say—to what you do say! Hear more, today on Home School Heartbeat, with HSLDA President Mike Smith.

Mike Smith: Rachael Carman joins us again today with help for teaching your children to bless others. Rachael, would you tell us about the characteristic of speech that blesses others?

Rachael Carman:
I would love to, Mike. And you know, I just want to say at the outset that we don’t have this completely figured out yet at the Carman house! This is something we’re continuing to work on every day, sometimes moment to moment, but it is our objective to teach our children to bless each other.

And we used the word bless as an acrostic to mean several things. And we’re just going to go over the first two today. The first is in Ephesians 4:29: it talks about, “let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth but only that which is beneficial to those who listen.” The first thing we encourage our kids to say to each other are words that benefit, not just the person they’re being spoken to, but to everyone who’s standing around and listening. And that can be a real challenge, but I believe that that’s the bar that Christ has set.

The second thing we want to do in the word bless is we want to make sure that we’re speaking words of love to one another. We live in a world that’s very critical and if there’s something that we can communicate to each other consistently, it’s how much they’re loved.

Rachael, that’s a great way to remember how to bless others! We’ll talk about the other points on our next program. And until then, I’m Mike Smith.

Speach that Blesses

Do you want your child’s speech to bless others? Teach him some practical characteristics of speech that blesses! What are they? Rachael Carman offers several, today on Home School Heartbeat with HSLDA President Mike Smith.

Mike Smith:
Rachael Carman joins me again today. Rachael, last time you explained how speech that blesses others should be beneficial and loving. Tell us about the rest of the acronym bless!

Rachael Carman:
Oh, sure, Mike! The other three letters, starting with E. E stands for words that are encouraging. I don't know about you, but there are so many days when just a little word of encouragement goes a really long way for me. “Cause I can feel defeated, or like I can’t get it all done, and just to have someone to say something encouraging—and if we can get our siblings, our children, to start speaking to each other in that way—what a blessing!

The first S is selfless words. Those would be words that are not centered on what my personal needs are, but what are your needs? Things that I can say to you that are selfless for me, but that will bless you in a very significant way. And then the second S would be words of service. Things like, “What can I do to serve you today?” or, “Why don’t you have that today?” Things that we can say to each other to elevate the other person are sure to be words of blessing.

Rachael, these are really great, practical insights, and thank you for sharing them with our listeners today! Until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

Help! I'm Organizationally Challenged!

This came from HSLDA's The Early Years Newsletter dated June 15, 2010

As I’ve spoken with many of you on the phone or via email and shared with you in person at your state conventions, a recurring theme has been: Help! I’m committed to homeschooling, but I’m feeling overwhelmed just by everyday life!

For those of you who were “born organized,” you either picked up the necessary skills sort of by osmosis, or you are quickly able to assimilate the ideas found in the typical organizing book. But for others, standard organizing tools sometimes don’t make sense, and we wonder what’s wrong with us. So this month, I’d like to share with you some tools that have helped this mom and other busy moms across the country to homeschool and get dinner on the table. . . on the same day. (Even if you are organized by nature, you may have a child who can benefit from this newsletter!)
Hope for the Organizationally Challenged

I am not naturally organized, at least not on the outside. I am fairly organized in my head, but I have trouble translating that to the physical realm because I am very visual, and if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist (i.e., I can’t put that away someplace; I might forget to deal with it). Boy, can that make for a mess!

What I share with you here is not the only way to approach time/life management or organization, but it has been successful for me and many with whom I’ve shared it, so I hope it will encourage you. Here are three tools that have helped me clear most of the clutter from my desk and my mind:

Daily routines—where I can see them
Workable, categorized to-do lists—where I can see them
Time reminders—where I can see (and hear) them

Start with a Routine

When you feel so incredibly overwhelmed, start with the basics. What is getting dropped that just can’t? Meals? Bedtimes? Basic housekeeping? Revisit your routine—I don’t mean the sort of schedule that has you checking the to-do list every eight minutes, or dinging a bell to move from lunch to naptime. I mean covering at least the basics and having some regularity to your day. Knowing what comes next, without having to make one more decision, can be a relief. Children find security in routine, and we moms can find emotional freedom in having a basic structure for the day or week.

Don’t know where to begin? Mealtimes and bedtimes make a great framework for a routine. For example: “I’ll make a great effort to have breakfast by 7:30 and then lunch ready at 1:00 and supper at 6:30, and everyone has to be in their rooms by 9:00 p.m., whether they are in bed or quietly reading or something else safe (depending on ages).” Then plug everything else in around those times.

It helped us to have a morning start-up time of 8:45 to meet in the living room for 15 minutes of family devotions. I would drop all else at 8:45 to put on a praise and worship recording, call the kids in, and we’d just close our eyes and sing one or two songs. Then we’d have a quickie devotional or Bible/character lesson for about 10 minutes (from a book and the Bible—no major planning or thinking required), then pray together, either one of us or anyone who was led to. This gave me a consistent, prayerful, focused start to my school day, got everyone in one room, and gave us a launching point. That doesn’t mean we didn’t occasionally crash and burn later, but at least we started right!

What has to get done in a typical week in your house? What recurring activities can you plug into a repeating weekly routine? My goal is to run on autopilot as much as possible, so I needed a routine that helps me not have to think too hard.

I made columns on a paper and labeled them Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on through the week, and then plugged in each of my essentials on a day of the week. For example, learning time (homeschooling) was a daily activity, as were meals, but I could schedule most of the other items on specific days. The most fundamental household tasks were already part of our household management system (chore chart), so we already had dishes, daily bathroom tidying, and other chores covered.

(One important reason for me to have assigned days for most tasks was to give me liberty on the other days. If Tuesday and Friday are my laundry days, I don’t have to feel “behind” on Wednesday or Thursday when the pile is three feet high; it isn’t laundry day yet!)

I typed each of the daily routines onto a 4x6-inch card and put the cards into an inexpensive photo flip album; you can often find vinyl versions at the local dollar store. This flip-album sits in a conspicuous spot—in my house, near my computer—so I will often be reminded of my routine for that day. At the end of the day, I simply flip to the next page to be ready for tomorrow. It is vertical, so I cannot easily lose it or pile anything on top of it.

This photo was taken of my current routine flip-chart. In earlier days, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. included lesson time.

A Visual To-Do List

For many years, a notebook-style to-do list worked well for me. I don’t know what happened, but over the years, digging through a notebook or having to keep a steno-pad list unburied on my desk became more and more challenging. Setting my month-at-a-glance calendar upright in a decorative cast iron cookbook stand on my desk was a starting point—so it couldn’t get buried—but turning the pages for multiple to-do lists was difficult (and we know what happens if we don’t make it easy to do the to-do list; we don’t!). I needed to be able to see multiple upcoming tasks and projects. Enter: The Pocket Chart.

A vertical organizer can help keep your schedule and lists visible.

The particular model I found is an 11x12-inch vinyl easel with five rows of clear plastic pockets into which I can insert three 3.5-inch squares of paper (standard memo cube size) per row. The cards in the left column (see photo)are household related, while the center column cards are work related and the right column are home-business related. I jot tasks onto the cards as I think of them, and cross them off as they are completed. When the card is filled, I can turn it over to use the other side; then the card can be trashed. Because the cards aren’t dated, there is no transferring of tasks from day to day, unless the card gets almost filled and you want it to look nicer or have more space.

In his book, Getting Things Done, author David Allen discusses context lists. While that terminology was foreign to me, my daughter says this is basically the same concept, just using cards in the pockets instead of pages in a notebook.

Several moms have commented on how helpful it is for them—or for their children—to have their to-do lists outlined vertically like this in a tangible, accessible, and easily compartmentalized format. If a pocket chart is not an option for you, large self-stick notes on an easel or standing picture frame could be substituted.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

My good intentions, routines, and lists did me no good if I didn’t notice the time. I have an incredibly nonexistent concept of time. I could get something out for dinner, have wonderful intentions, and still get blindsided by the arrival of my sweet husband at dinnertime. I needed to set an alarm to start dinner. Better yet—one of those “his and hers” alarm clocks with two alarms, or more!

What I finally settled upon was one of those alarms designed to remind elderly patients to take their pills (some of them have up to 24 alarms each day!). The model I eventually found not only works simply and easily and has six—count ’em, six!—recurring alarms, but I can record a 10-second message for each alarm setting. At 7:30: “Beep, beep, beep�Good morning! Time to exercise and pray for your family.” A bit later: “Beep, beep, beep�8:30. Did you take something out for supper? It’s time to start work and pray for the homeschooling families.” And so on throughout the day until, “It’s 5:00—time to start supper for your wonderful husband and pray for his drive home.” (This might be even more effective if I have my wonderful husband actually record the message!).

Maybe you have children who could benefit from impartial “third party” reminders during the day. They could even record their own so they would be nagging themselves along the way!

Another homeschooling mom invested in a clock with quarter-hour chimes to remind her of the passing of time. Another programs her phone to call herself during the day, and yet another utilizes her computer’s features to send herself timely reminders. Whatever you might choose, the important thing is to be realistic and consistent.

Make Time for what Matters

Our goal is to glorify God. We can do that better in an orderly home because we can be more gracious to our children when we aren’t rushed or hunting for the keys or always behind, and we can be calmly hospitable. We can start our teaching times without the stress of undone tasks looming large, so we can concentrate on really being with our children.

Look for ways to bring order to your home, but don’t allow organization to be an idol. Get organized to give you the time and liberty for relationships.

Gotta go—time to make supper!

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Early Years coordinator


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Predicting the Future

“…a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion…will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief…which this sin-rent world has ever seen.”
A. A. Hodge, Princeton Professor, 1887

How was professor Hodge able to foresee such wretched consequences of godless, centralized education? Hodge’s ability to see one-hundred years into the future was based upon a solid Christian tradition arising from the Protestant Reformation. That tradition rooted itself into the soil of Scripture Alone.

Is there a question about who should educate children? The Bible has an answer for that.

Is there a question about what a child should learn? The Bible has an answer for that.

We need not feed at the trough of humanistic thinking to deal with the important questions of today. Rather, we should seek out the Words of Life, the Bible.

The hard part is understanding how to properly digest this heavenly Food. Professor Hodge was able to absorb the truth of it so well that he foresaw the doom of America. Again, how?

The fact of the Bible alone as the source of truth and practice also came with the tools of interpretation and application needed to dig into the Truth. The Puritans refined these tools (which are in the Bible itself) into eight simple rules; one of which states: “where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded.” Ephesians 4:28 offers a clear picture of this truth: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needs.”

When God states that murder is forbidden, it also means that preserving life is commanded. If we are not to lie, we are to tell the truth instead. And when He commands that God should be the center of our lives and children should be instructed in the fear of the Lord, He forbids education “separated from religion.”

If we wish to see one-hundred years into the future, Christians need to return to their spiritual roots in the Bible. And they need to learn how to once again feed upon the Word for the expansion of the Kingdom, just like professor Hodge.

Keyboarding and story sites.

Found out about an adorable typing site from a another group.

It's Dance Mat Typing.  It's a really cute typing site.  It has different levels with animation.  Now, if dancing offends you, probably not the site for you since all the animals end up dancing.  In fact, on one level there's a belly dancing hippo. 

Another site that came through was Meegenius!  It has a selection of books (mostly fairy tales) that are read out loud with word highlighting or you can personalize the stories and read them yourself.  There is even an iphone and ipad you can get. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Free mini workshops!!

The Homeschool Minute email from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine mentioned Apologia Academy was having free mini-workshops all summer long.  Some of come and gone but many are left and many of the ones that have already occured are recorded.

Here's what Apologia Academy says about the workshop.

You are invited to attend any and/or all FREE Mini-workshops listed below free of charge. Each workshop is 60 minutes with a 30-minute Q&A Session. Not only will the FREE Mini-workshops be informative but if you are an Apologia Academy student they will assist you in preparing the technology for classes in September for entering our 'virtual classrooms'. Please visit Apologia Academy Workshops to register for these free classes (registration will open Sunday, June 20). Both day and evening classes will be offered.

Some of the workshops include:
  • HELP, I’M HOMESCHOOLING! changed to SHIPWRECKED! Acts 27 - Principles of Effective Biblical Leadership according to Paul.
  • Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: An Introduction to Advanced Biology
And that's just a few of the workshops!!!

Coffee Cartoon

Todd Wilson of Familyman Ministries is great!  He can make you wet you pants laughing and cringe in conviction at the same time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spelling ideas

Have students creat acrostics for their spelling words (their--Tom has everyone illustrating rainbows.)

Have students make spelling snakes by listing words that are linked by beginning and ending letters (number-rainy-yesterday, etc).

Make a set of laminated blank cards in shapes relating to unit themes such as whales, hands, etc.  For each new spelling unit, write the words on the cards to use in your own versions of games like concentration, go fish, or pictionary.

Social Studies/History/Geography ideas

I'm once again working on cleaning out my "idea" cards.  This post will have some ideas for social studies, history, and geography.

Use empty shallow boxes for a mini-environment.
Jungle Safari--line with brown paper, paint stream, cutout animals and trees, concepts of habitat, predator, and prey.
Model City--student creates a business or service, box becomes fully stocked store (bank with money, cafe with cut out food).
Ocean--lined with blue, design a yellow submersible vehicle.  Assortment of fish and under water creatures.

Use stamps.  Relate history of stamps of history of individuals or events.  Find out about other countries by the people or events on them. 

Cardinal directions.  After a demonstration using the compass, students work together to establish true north, then the other directions.  Encourage students to use landmarks to remember each direction.  Play a game in which you call out a specific direction.  Students then must quickly face in that directions.  Speed up the commands as the game progresses.

A Capital Game.
large map of US, states labeled only
numbered bottle caps or chips
Make a list of state capitals on paper and assign each a number.  Number each bottle cap.
1.  The map is the game board.
2.  Draw a bottle cap and read the number.
3.  Look up number in the key.  Read the name of the city.
4.  Decide which state the capital belongs.
5.  Place a cap on correct state on the map.
6.  Continue until all states are covered.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Currclick Freebie: Summer Learning Across the USA

The freebie contains only 3 states, but it gives you a great sample from which to continue.

"This free gift includes several states that have popular spots to visit especially during the summer. Learn about the states before you go! Each sheet includes space for students to fill in information they learn about each state. Older students can do independent research to find the answers. There is an answer key at the back, which can be used to teach the facts to younger students."

Summer Learning Across the USA

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Teaching with Contests

I found out about this concept and site from a yahoo group in which I participate.  The site is Teaching with Contests .

This is what the site says: The purpose of Teaching with Contests is to assist educators in finding contests that can be used in the classroom to motivate students. We are here for the student and the teacher not the promotion of products or company public relations. Our goal is to select contests and programs whose primary goal is education and secondarily business/product promotion.

Here's a few examples: Lego Smart Creativity Contest, Send you Face to Space, International Youth Art Contest, etc.

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