Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Goodies~

I really hope everyone is having a very happy holiday season. We have been taking some time off to spend some family time together and we have been lucky where we have all been healthy so far.
We spent an afternoon making sugar cookies and decorating them. We can get a bit extravagent with our decorating, I think it is because we have so many artists in our family and if your not artistic, it doesnt matter you are once you leave our home~
Our mixing bowl ended up to be our palette and we just kind let loose and had a bunch of fun~ Here is the recipe for the Royal Icing I used on the cookies~
Royal Icing:
1 pound of powdered sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder
2 tab. water ( I use more at times if I want to glaze the cookie first- and less for piping.)
food coloring...
Combine powdered sugar and meringue powder in mixing bowl beat on low speed. Add water drop by drop till desired consistency. Whip for a few minutes till it is the desired consistency to work with.
Makes approx 6 cups. (seems like much less when your glazing though)
For those who are wanting my Saltine Candy Recipe here you go:
( this is a real favorite in our house and family so many have asked me for it I decided to share it here with everyone) a real treat~
1 stack of saltine crackers
1 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
12 oz. pkg of milk choclate or semi sweet chips
Grease a medium size cookie sheet with Crisco.
Lay the Saltine Crackers out on the cookie sheet to cover it completely. At the end of each row I usually have to break a crack in half for it to fit the sheet. (dont use a jelly roll size cookie sheet those are too big).
In a saucepan add butter and brown sugar melt down and use your timer for it to boil for 2 minutes exactly mixing the WHOLE TIME.
Take off heat and pour immediately over saltines crackers and spread out evenly so all of them are covered.
Next bake in the oven for 5 minutes at 350 degrees.
Remove and immediately pour choclate chips over hot cookie sheet.
Let chips melt just a bit and spread with a knife all over toffee mixture completely.
Let cool outside or in fridge.
once cool, pop out over a wooden cutting board and crack up.
That's it.. delicious toffee like taste with a bit of a salty taste also~ Enjoy
I will try and post a few other recipes that others have asked me for this week. Hope all of you have a safe, healthy and happy New Year~

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A New Twist to our 5 a Day Math Practice~

I cannot take credit for this idea at all. It was entirely my 10 year olds idea. I had been taking an assessment of where he was at, in this point in time with his math understanding. He did very well and has mastered many new concepts so far this year.

Progress is becoming more and more rapid and I think his math is going to become more and more fun for him as he moves forward...

We were looking through pages of his old workbook we started and that he now had just about finished up~ I was getting ready to make up some more 5 a days for practice for him when he started looking through some pages we had skipped in his workbook.

He suggested we take some of the portions of the workbook cut them out all fancy and glue them to the five a day~

I could see there was definitely a few more things we could continue to work on so I carefully looked through and we both picked concepts and portions and cut and glued them together for his math practice.

They came out great! Saved me a bunch of work too~ and it was fun~ I just never know what these boys will come up with next.. but promise to keep you posted~!
Happy Math Practice~

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Planning during the Christmas and Holiday Season~

It isn't easy trying to teach our children at home, run a household, maintain our jobs at home or outside the home and plan our Christmas events, menus/baking, gift giving, entertaining etc... it can get really crazy this time of year can it not?

I am a bit late in doing this but around the first of December I have over the years taken time to create a calendar for the month. I print it out and place things I need to do on it as it pertains to the holiday season.

For me, it has been a real time saver and life saver both! I could never do what I do when I do it without planning ahead.

I try and look at the month and make plans as to who and when we will entertain family and friends. I plug these important dates in first and then move out from there with what I may need to do. Each day/week I try and fit something or several things in.

I bake ALOT around the holiday season, we tend to give homemade gifts like cakes, coffee cakes, cookie trays, candy and breads away to our friends, doctors and helpers who we see throughout the year. Because I do this I plan out usually to bake the whole week before Christmas while in the mornings going shopping for gifts.

I will also add in anything else I need/want to do... I will jot down when I want to do my Christmas cards and to whom I will send out first and last etc..any perfomances for Christmas, recitals or anything else that is planned that we wish to do all goes on this particular calendar. I also plan out our Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Menus, baking included ~ this is added to my Christmas Notebook which I will share about another time.
It is a great way to take everything I need to do and give it a "place". So it isnt floating around in my head all day and all night keeping me awake or making me forget about things.. I post it on my fridge and know where to go to see what I need to do for that day to keep things rolling and efficient. It really helps.

As I was searching for a printable calendar this year I came across this link from The Teachers Corner I noticed it was a bit better than other years I have printed my calendar because I could modify it any way I wanted. Look closely at the instructions~ you can modify the calendars cells and colors~ you can also add more events by looking at their own calendar they give. There is also a neat option for using it for writing prompts for journal writing.

I hope this helps your Christmas/Holiday planning as much as it does me~

Happy Planning~

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Great Internet Resource - IPL

I posted about this on AKOL this morning for our Saturday Spotlight~ and wanted to share about this great new resource I found here on my blog for others who are not members of AKOL.

I had been working hard this past week on building out my Life Science teaching binder ( which I will post more about a bit later on as it is more complete) and found this web resource that is really fantastic.

It is called The Internet Public Library.
It is categorized by subject and provides a plethora of links/websites, online texts, newspapers etc.. for teaching/learning about a particular topic. This site can be used for all ages through highschool.

There is also a cateogry set up called "KidSpace" and TeenSpace" which I really found great for our younger learners.

I found it definitely was a real "keeper" and one that made it to my desktop to be used weekly if not daily if we need it.

I hope you find it as helpful as I have so far. It really is a kind of website you will need to sit with a cup of coffee/tea and search through for quite a while~ I know I am still working through much of it~

Happy Saturday everyone~

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Math Learning~ Sequence Charts and Concept Charts the MOTL Way~

I wanted to share a bit more about our Math Program we use in our home learning~ the other day the subject came up about Concept Charts and Sequence Charts on the MOTL yahoo group I belong to.

I really think it was a good question, and wanted to write a bit more about this here since I consider MOTL an important part of our math learning at home and the reason why we have been so successful in math at home.

For those who have not heard about Math on the Level (MOTL) you can learn much more about it from the direct website found here.

For others who are using MOTL here are a few thoughts I have about this program regarding the sequence charts and concept charts from MOTL ~

When I was first looking at MOTL I knew this was something that could work for my boys who dreaded math. (5 problems or so a day practicing concepts that have already been taught, while slowly teaching a new concept as needed from the teaching books)

This is a math program like no other program I have seen to date, there are no workbooks, no drilling, unless you make up drilling sheets for your child.

My boys really hated math, so I needed to find some way to teach something they hated and actually help them understand that at some point math "can" be fun.

My two needs right away for our math was to find something that didn't do alot of boring drilling and also something that moved along once a learner knew the concept. I began using a program and a workbook and only did certain problems then we began skipping concepts in the book after I saw they mastered something... eventually I found that by doing this I was wasting time and wasting money that could be better spent in other places for their learning.

I searched all over for a scope and sequence for our math learning... once it was written up, I quickly found that my boys were all over the map with their abilities in math.. at all different grades and concepts that really did not fit many of the scope and sequences I was finding... while still considering MOTL I researched on-line various math sites and made up my own sequence chart according to topics and every once in a while comparing it to our state GLE's (grade level expectations).

This was a ton of work and I felt as though I was writing my own math program (which in fact I kind of was~ ). As I joined the MOTL yahoo group and learned more and more about this program I began to see this would be it for us~ or at the very least our math foundation.

I started out using the sequence chart that Carlita (MOTL author) has for new MOTL users- I was never so relieved to have gotten this "recommended" sequence chart. I supppose it gave me a starting place to where I needed my boys to be. I went through the chart and hi-lited everything they had already mastered and from there I knew what concepts to begin at.. I was also able to see some wholes so I could very easily incorporate those into the new concepts every week or so.

There is also the Concept Chart with I also filled out at the same time. This is quite different from the recommended sequence chart because the concept chart follows along with the teaching books according to each topic/concept.

I have found recently since we have been doing MOTL for over a year now that I no longer need to follow the sequence chart~ it helped me gain confidence in my math teaching and is a great guide but I now will use the concept chart since I allow my children to s-t-r-e-t-c-h their math knowledge while I am teaching new concepts.. if they and I both feel they can understand a further step in a problem or concept further into a particular topic we go there and this has inspired them and me with our math learning. Many times my youngest's eyes will light up at learning something new and being able to try his ability at something that, well might not have been tried, if we were following a program or a particular sequence chart.

It has completely changed my teaching style and has helped my boys become quite confident in their abilities as well~ while working on math we tend to work as a team~

When I get stuck my son comes to the rescue... when he gets stuck I come to the rescue.. etc... it works so well. I don't seem like the "knowing all" teacher they are used to and they even laugh at some of the things I forget! lol It also helps my sons because they feel a bit more confident in their abilities going ahead and "helping out" when needed... it is mostly how I teach many subjects. I guess they feel they are not being lectured at.. they hated that at school it is more "ok, lets see about working on this today"- perspectives have shifted and math seems more of a challenge or puzzle than a dreaded daily chore. Something I honestly never thought I would see. One other thing that MOTL has really taught me is how to "see" math both in books and in everyday life. It has given me a kind of awareness as to what to look for in math programs and even possibly other areas of learning that can benefit my boys.

We are eclectic in our math learning, while consistent with topics we now use a few different things for our math learning~ MOTL has taught me to do this- we had gone back to a workbook which the boys openly welcomed on days when we travel or just want to do fun puzzles for our math- they like Horizons it is very colorful and fun, but we do not do EVERY problem, those days are gone~ :) We also use math readers which each learner has assigned to read.. that is reading/age level appropriate. :)

Some more thoughts;
Even in math we need to remain "mindful" of our childrens learning styles and strengths. This can play a big part in how we choose programs for teaching our children, HOW we teach are children and also WHAT we teach our children and WHEN. Being boxed in by a particular program doesn't work for many learners and there are many signs of this in our schools and also in homeschooling as well.

Learners who say they are "bored" or how this is "stupid" or procrastinate with homework or lose worksheets are all signs that something really may not be working. Math anxiety can build to a point where a child cringes at even looking at a page of math problems. This will not help them later on in their adult life or will help them while attempting to learn now.

There was something I heard recently while watching a book interview on C-Span- it was talking about teachers and schools and their efforts and also included homeschoolers as well~ "all the effort in the world will not matter if the end results are not there". This really made such sense to me... we put SO much effort in all these particular programs in our schools and in our homeschooling but in the end the results are what matter - considering this makes me understand how our efforts can be unsuccessful unless we see things for what they are~ I started thinking, could this mean that it is better to open our minds and our hearts if something isnt quite working top place our efforts in other areas? only then may we start to see successful results.

Math where a child has to do problems over and over and over again IS overkill, in my opinion... many doctors and educators recommend that topics be repeated and the repetition is very helpful, which I also agree with, but the way I see it, one or two practice problems on a concept is much more efficient for the learner and creates a much greater "intensity" for focus on than 10 or 20 problems. I feel it is better to have two problems correct and the understanding there than to have 8 out of 20 problems correct, why? it all comes back to the learner and how they feel about their abilities, it is that simple~

Math learning has become just that for us in our home learning - simple.

Happy Math Learning in your own homes ~

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas and Winter Activities~

December is here already, I can hardly believe how fast the time has gone by~ I mean it seems we just finished up with Halloween doesnt it? Thanksgiving came and went already and now it is time to prepare and think about Winter and Advent (this past week was the first week of advent for us).

It made me begin thinking of how I could incorporate winter lessons into our studies, just to mix things up a bit - my boys enjoy routine but do not mind a few different things mixed in now and then.

Winter at our home is one of our favorite times, especially for my boys... I am not real "sure " about it, but they sure love it... they are constantly wanting to go outside and play and are in the snow all the time having snow ball wars, building forts, they even love the night sky etc.. so I thought~ hmm, I am sure there are many fun things to do and add to our home learning as it pertains to the Winter Season.

For starters, I needed to begin thinking about Advent and Christmas.~ We are only having school for two weeks this month due to so many other things going on, but they work very hard when we do have school so there are no worries as to falling behind and such. ~ I will not be able to add "too many" things but wanted to a few ideas to choose from and found some fun and interesting things here:

The Teachers Corner ( I really liked the idea of the bird feeders since we started a bird study which came from a recent nature walk- this will fit perfectly with what we already started. )there are also many more activities here, puzzles, crosswords, printables, science with snow etc.. much, much more.... for all ages and stages of learning development.

Education World- lots of activities with grades assigned for them also. I especially liked the snow, ice experiment, snowy painting..something fun and wacky to do and also the animals in winter - a favorite of my youngest~ :)

Winter Activities- all kinds of things pertaining to winter~ coloring pages, making snowflakes,even snowboarding stats for yours and my middle schooler..something for everyone here~

Winter Math Activities- snowflakes, and snowflake symmetry, penguins interactives, problem solving, literature connections etc..

Teaching Mom- online interactive advent calendar with readings,prayers, articles and literacy connections.

American Catholic- readings for Advent and other things as well~
Advent Prayer Box for our Advent wreath at home - our youngest will be making this~
Happy Winter fun~

IEW- Story Sequence Charts using Grasshopper on the Road

We had been reading Grasshopper on the Road by Arnold Lobel, a real favorite author of ours~
I had an idea of using this book for a writing resource for our IEW Writing Program.

We are currently working on Unit III which is writing short narrative stories using a "story sequence chart".

We finished this book this morning and are planning to use the short chapters- (which are very similiar to short little stories) that can be adaptable to writing up our story sequence chart and creating our own short story based on the chapter.

Another unique aspect in using a below reading level book to use as a resource for writing is that we will re-read the chapter for a purpose - (for writing) and this will help build fluency... I think I may consider doing this more and more with our reading books. I think reading and then writing about a reading as a writing resource can work quite nicely together.

This is such a fun book about a busy grasshopper and the many things he encounters and the insects he meets. A perfect resource for our writing program.

Happy Writing~

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Free Typing Resource~ Typing can be a Welcome and Needed Change for our Struggling Writers

We have a "new to us" free typing resource that we tried out today.
Thanks to a wonderful AKOL member who posted about this no-nonsense, easy to use, free versatile typing program.
My ten year old really likes to type and had been using a few other typing programs but did not like them too much. He tried this one tonite and absolutely loved it. He started at the beginning level and flew through much of the first lesson. He liked how it had no bells or whistles going off, he could see instantly after he had finished with the quick lesson how he did and really seemed engaged in wanting to do more.. - big relief here...
Typing can be a very helpful strategy for our special needs learners. Many who have graphomotor difficulty or dysgraphia can benefit greatly from learning how to type instead of the pressure of "perfect penmanship or cursive handwriting".
Don't misunderstand handwriting is very important but for some learners it can take away the love of writing a story or the ability to, in some cases. For older children with these difficulties typing can be a real way for them to excel and let's face it computers and technology (emails, texting, IM etc.. ) are here to stay~ we might as well help our learners adjust as best they can.
I think this program may finally be a great fit for my youngest. It can be hard finding just the right program for your learner. Mine tends to become a bit resistive to computers and using a program that has too many things going on all at once, this free typing program "fits our bill".
Here is some further information on typing programs and typing~
Attitude Magazine, an article on: Recognizing Dysgraphia in Children with ADHD
LD Online, an article for strategies for children in the classroom but can be also adapted in our homes~ Helping Children Who Struggle to Write Classroom Strategies
Kid on the Keyboard lists several age appropriate typing programs.
Here are a few typing programs that we have found over the past few years over at AKOL:
There are many, many more like typing games Penguin Typing... Gamequarium has many fun typing games, etc... there are just too many to list.
I hope many will consider typing as a real alternative to the dreaded handwriting for their learners if they are struggling. Writing doesnt have to be dreaded - quick 10 minute daily practices forming letters and writing signatures along with copywork should suffice. Typing can be a welcomed tool for many of our special children~
Happy Typing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Printables for Teaching~

I had been searching for manipulatives for specific math activities and found this great new resource.

Has many great teaching resources and many are FREE.

Laura Candler's file cabinet is full of great teaching printables for many levels of learning.

There is also a free newsletter you can sign up for along with joining her group on Facebook to discuss more teaching resources you might want to share or look for.
It's always fun to find new resources to share with others ~ and free is even better!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Online Health Science Program~

While working our new schedule- Thursdays is a split day for us where we do an artist or musician study along with some sort of health science learning.

I was looking for something that was different and fun. I really liked this site and wanted to share it with everyone.

I have both a teenager and also an elementary student I am teaching. This program fits them both very well.

I love exploring the lessons and also the online health journal you can do. I think it will bring great fun while learning important health issues in our home.

Aside from this site we will also be learning First Aid as well~
Here are a few websites I am planning on possibly using for them;
Kids Health First Aid
Teens & Health First Aid
Teens Health & Staying Safe

We plan on making some posters, practicing certain first aid techniques in case of an emergency, role playing in an emergency etc.. I think the boys will enjoy it, and it will be important lessons for them ~ for staying healthy and safe.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Changing Science Teachings~ for your Right Brained Learners~

Changing Science Teachings~

“Home schooling is too important a task to rely on an inefficient method that “teaches” information to your children, just to have them forget everything they learned in a couple of weeks. If hands-on learning helps information stick in children’s long-term memories, mothers need to incorporate more hands-on strategies in their day-to-day teaching. Most left-brained moms, however, want to stay step-by-step with the traditional scope and sequence and traditional teaching methods. They often feel uncomfortable with hands-on, non-traditional teaching, yet they know their children are not retaining their textbook studies. Many children are crying out for a new and fun way to learn.” ~ Wade Hulcy ~ meet Wade Hulcy

We are changing how we teach science instead of allowing a particular program or a curriculum dictate to us how my “learners at home” are “supposed” to learn their science and we are having a ton of fun doing it~ :)

We adapt the curricula, books and resources to our learners here at home. We might turn things upside down or find creative ways to use a science text or encyclopedia, biography of a scientist or workbook page.

Some might recall how we were using Apologia General Science for my 13yo. (I dont normally go by grades, although ask my son and he will tell you 7th, lol ) anyway, he started to REALLY dislike this program.
It is very “textbooky” even though Simply CM recommends this as a Living Book program~ I don't see this when it comes to this program as much, however, there was no denying just how great this program is for the middle school learner. My Right Brained learners need to be directed in their learning just a big different and I have found some really fun ways to do just that~ here are some ideas I wanted to share with you.

First off, I have had my youngest son now 10 ½ ask me if he could also accompany my 13 yo while working on his Middle School Science. I had been planning on having them both work on the same science topic so this was very welcomed and I agreed to allow him to sit with us while listening to the audio CD for the Apologia General Science. We were working on the first Module which was entitled “ A Brief History of Science”.

The 13 yo is working the program using a Lapbook by Knowledge Box Central and after each portion will answer the “On Your Own Question” on notebook pages provided in the lapbook.
I quickly created this morning a notebooking page for two scientists that my youngest found of particular interest ( I am not too worried about starting over from the beginning since this will be a more broader approach to science history and will adapt more to his age and ability, he will be doing this program in far greater depth once he is a bit older, so for now it will be more delight directed) Isaac Newton and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. These tied in nicely since we are also working on NOEO Science – Biology and studying the Microscope.
Here is a link to the notebooking page
for Newton and van Leeuwenhoek and the microscope page (scroll down to science pages)
(I couldn’t find one I liked so I quickly made my own to use).

We finished up listening to the first module this morning and it was then time to prepare for studying for the “test”. Hmm, well I am not big on tests (I agree with assessments and diagnostic testing) so I found a fun way for him to “review the information” and see just what he has learned thus far.

We (all three of us) are putting together a “brief history of science timeline” we are using poster board and will create the timeline with all the bits of information for each scientist from the module. We will add dates and a snippet of information or drawing if they would like. Sometimes we make them folded so they are 2 dimensional sometimes not, sometimes they like to draw a picture or make a symbol to remind them of something about the person, whichever they choose it will be a great review of the time periods and contributors that were outlined in the chapter.

We plan to add to the timeline at any time with any particular information the boys would like. They find timelines very helpful and I think, when dealing with so much information having it in a logical, sequential order really helps to make much more sense of things during historical time periods. We find it answers many questions and can add even more insight to a particular topic.

Another thing my older child is doing is instead of writing out the answers and using note cards like the text recommended, we are making a HUGE poster. Taking each piece of information outlined in the study guide and creating fun organizers or cartoons or 2dimensional folds on the poster so that all the information will be there visually right in front of him~ I explained he could get as creative as he would like~ He loved the idea and got right to work.

Changing the way the science was presented, how the activities that were recommended had to be done and allowing the old saying “the more the merrier” turned what I thought was going to be one more program set to the side into a GREAT program for teaching and learning science on different levels.

I also think seeing the interest and intrigue the 10 yo had shown while listening to the audio brought perhaps a new insight for the older child and he was able to orally go back and “recap” briefly to him what had been read thus far, a really great way for me to listen to his thought processes and understanding of the information.

I will be writing more and more about a few more (some may call) bold steps I have taken to bring more fun with our learning science at home~ but just wanted to share these ideas.
I find it can be really empowering to take a program and twist it around to suit the needs and abilities of the child/learner. Every child and every learner is different -why do we sometimes try so hard to teach them all the same? We should embrace their differences and bend our books more ( or if your like me cut the bindings and drill three holes in them) to meet "our" needs rather than meeting the expectations of textbook writers and publishers. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Autumn is in full swing- time for those seasonal chores inside and out

I think Autumn is a beautiful time of year, living in New England we have the opportunity to really reap the benefits of Autumn - the cranberries, apples, picture perfect landscapes right outside your window, bright sunny days with a bit of a "nip" in the air~ it is really a great time of year, here in New England.

With all of those wonderful things we still have many things we have to do and prepare for this time of the year. The Fall Season is full of chores outside and inside preparing for winter and the upcoming Holiday Season.

I have learned over the years to try to prepare the best I can for things; bad weather, sickness, holidays etc... it is a very busy time of the year for all of us.

Homeschooling can add to our already busy schedule~ I am thankful I have taken time over the ears to make seasonal lists. They have helped me stay on target (somewhat)- I use these lists to help me remember, because like so many, I tend to get wrapped up in things and would forget some pretty important things if I did not use these things as reminders.

Here is a sample of my Fall To Do List~


* Fall Cleaning; windows and blinds cleaned - screens taken out and washed down and stored
* Pantry and Kitchen cupboards organized and food re-sorted, purge old foods from storage. I also make a list of foods I might be in need of like extra coke (for sickness) or possibly pastas or something like extra kleenex or chicken soup for cold/flu season.
* Call doctors for children to set up fall physicals (this year we skipped b/c of the flu epidemic and I will re-schedule for the Spring)
* Take out Fall Decorations and platters/candy dishes etc.. for house.
* Radiators taken apart and cleaned and vacuumed "before" we turn heat on.
* Call heating company to set up furnace to be service for long winter.
* In bedrooms wash all summer bedding and pack away and add winter comforters and bring out throw blankets from storage to be used as wraps on cold days.
* Clean out medicine closet and purge all old medicines that are out of date, make list of medicines to pick up in case of sickness and also call doctors for any prescription refills needed to inhalers, or breathing machines, etc.. add to the list a cool mist humidifier and purchase extra filters for continued cleaning throughout winter months.

** Wash and bring out all winter hats/mittens and snow pants etc.. check to see if things fit and are ready along with their boots, before snow gets here.

* pick up batteries for flash lights and check to see if we need candles.

Items I keep in my linen/medical closet:

Digital Thermometer

Cool Jel Ice packs



Tylenol for adults and children ( I check dosage according to the childrens changing weight as well)

Ibuprofen for adults and children

Peptobismol tablets and also liquid form.

Vicks vapor rub

Chapsticks one for each person in the family (usually buy extra too for chapped lips and nose therapy)

Saline mist nasal Spray one for each person in the family, I print their name on it so no one gets confused.


Muscinex for children and adults

Robitussin CF and DM


Cough Drops


Gatorade in closet also to make for popsicles



Cars maintenance for winter months – oil change, fluids filled, tires rotated etc.. I also keep a dishpan and also paper towels for unfortunate tummy troubles. Also snow shovels and windshield snow brush and blankets are added as well. (we have jumper cables, but choose to purchase AAA a well worth purchase as they have really come in handy during emergencies)

Shrubs covered for snow damage

Christmas lights put up before snow comes

Snowblower maintenance for winter use.

Salt/kitty litter purchased for ice removal

Snowshovels checked and brought out along with roof snow rake.

Snow sticks hammered into ground for snow removal of driveway before ground completely freezes.


Lists like these can really help when the weather is bad and your not as able to just run out and get something if you are sick or have a sick child.

It is near time I get out my Christmas Journal and begin planning for the Holidays ~ but I will save that for another time~

Happy Autumn preparation and planning ~

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A New Schedule and our Math Day~!

We have been working on our new schedule which started this week and we are doing great!
The boys really enjoy the new plan and studies are more fun, hands on and comprehensive ~ it may seems a bit radical I would admit, but in looking a bit closer it really is not.
Our study week reflects one core subject per day that is taught. (This excludes any therapies or remediation that is needed or have been started)

note: before reading further I wanted to mention that consistency in learning is very needed in our home with my kind of learners so before working our core subject for the day, we sit and do our daily reading and a math five a day (MOTL) and it is then we are ready to begin our core subject).

Our new schedule looks like this;

MONDAY - Language Arts; which includes reading, writing, grammar/usage, phonics, vocabulary.

TUESDAY- Science Day; anything to do with the topic of science we are working on. Activities include Lapbooking, Notebooking, making posters, experiments, nature walks, field trips, projects, online games, and research~

WEDNESDAY: History/Geography Day; activities include mostly what is included with science- I am starting to see as we dig deeper a real integration between science and history for the boys it is quite exciting. - we also might do cooking/baking for history (which ties into math also) if we have recipes from that time period and also an art study (again, which ties into the time period of study).

THURSDAY: ART/MUSIC/HEALTH/ LANGUAGE DAY; this is the only day of the week where we have shorter times for things and is more working on several areas. They really like this day since it is so eclectic and we have a bunch of fun learning fascinating new things in art, music and even Health (first aide, hygiene etc.) and our new foreign language - FRENCH!
This is also a day that I take to do errands with the boys, we schedule cleanings, doctor check ups, grocceries, visit people and have friends over and such.
FRIDAY: MATH DAY- our activities on this day includes "Teaching Time" of a new topic in math if they are ready. More practice and review of what they have learned and games, games, games. Each child also has their own Math Reader they are reading also and spend time doing that as well.
Our Math Day yesterday was great fun~ I first sat down with my older son and we went over his five a days that he had worked on over the week. (these had already been corrected, we did this each day after he finishes, however we do not go into any teaching at that time we save it for Friday). We look things over and decide exactly where more work is needed and if not will jump to the next topic of study. This week was a review of Decimals and we sat and went through review and teaching of using decimals/money for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Several notes were taken in our math journal and some notebooking pages were created for his math binders.

More wipe board work was done and then he had his "teach me time" on the concepts.

Afterwards he played a few math games on his computer that were math related and then had time to read his new math reader book; Confessions of Howard J Fingerhut .

Our youngest worked on his times tables with a fun online game that has a penguin that serves ice cream. It is a nice change of pace from the Times Attack he has been working with. He likes Times Attack, but depending on where he is at in his multiplication practice and how he is feeling that day will depend on if he wants to be timed and have all the stimuli ~ (for some learners Times Attack can be quite fun,but STRESSFUL, lol )

He then (while I was still working with older son) decided he wanted to do his Penguin Diner a bit so he did that as well (loves this one too) :)

Afterwards it was time to switch so Peyton came into to work with me on some math concepts to review and I could see it was not quite time to move forward with new concepts so we did Math ball and practiced further with our times tables. We also started a poster that will have all his math facts on it so he can go back and review these when he wants.

Then it was time for him to begin his new math reader; 7X9 Trouble . Another great book and as we read, we discussed multiplication and he made connects between estimating and rounding up numbers along with addition to get many of his answers. I was amazed at how his little mind works.

Our math day is done~ other days may be a bit longer and more comprehensive but for today we did a great job and what is really important is that they are looking forward to our next "Math Day".

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New World Explorers~

We are starting our American History this past week and I wanted to share some resources and ideas we are doing.
We are building a timeline starting at the time of Columbus (1400's) and moving forward from there. I am going to be using a large Project Board that you can find at Staples and will be glueing long colored strips out of card stock to the project board and adding the explorers and events as we read about them.
For our notebooks prior to adding to the large time line board I found some resources to use for timelines in their notebooks: (we are going to be using graphic organizers for our timelines).
Some graphic organizers I found helpful in trying to consolidate and process all the information. - I used the Time Order chart and - the History Frame - the Tree Map and the Chart and the Timeline were very helpful. the two BEST I found for us were the Timeline and Timeline2 these were going to be perfect for what we needed. (see page 5) - another timeline I found from ABC Teach.
We also started creating some collages/posters for our Explorers Notebook. These are usually just simple illustrations we either cutout, draw or copy onto our cardstock and then write about. This is replaces the "traditional" lapbooking style a bit and we also add some lapbook folds to the posters for a 2D effect.
I created a lapbook fold page for Columbus' ships here, along with a cutout of Columbus and Da Gama for them to do a quick write up and glue to their pages.
For our maps and coloring pages I found the following resources to use:
Maps for learning Geography:

World Coloring page of Continents to track the journey of the explorers: - I liked coloring and laying out the entire world and continents for him so we can go back and map out the actual voyages everyone had taken.
I found color pages of that states and needed one specifically for Florida since Ponce de Leon was the first to visit Florida ~ here is the main site for maps of the states.
I plan to print out the states as each is explored and write the founder and facts within the state outline to add to their notebooks~ ( a great "visual" reminder of the state and also helps to remember "who" was the person who first, was the founder). :)
Here is a Notebooking page I made about DeSoto and his men. (scroll down to History Pages)

Explorer Coloring Pages: - these are great to use for cutting and pasting to your notebook pages for writing~
One other fun idea I had was to read aloud Pedros Journal - a story about a boy who was aboard Christopher Columbus' ship the Santa Maria, it is a daily log of his account of what had happened on the journey. While using this my older child will read over Christopher Columbus' Log found here.
One other page I created to add to our notebooking/lapbooking style is for Cabot, Balboa, Vespucci and listing the seven continents, you can find it here also.
While reading these the boys are going to make their own journals. I cut up some brown paper bags I had saved and cut them in 5x5 size squares and we burnt the edges so the looked old and withered. They also smelled musty and old like they just came off of an old ship~ the boys are going to write down some reflections of the reading we do from the logs and date them and add it to their New World Notebooks.
Here are some other resources I found and will be planning on using also:
Resources for lapbook ideas:

I have found that sometimes “premade” lapbooks are kind of frustrating for us~ we really enjoy creating our own lapbooks and lapbook folds so I use many different templates and add we add the information we are learning to those. Here is where I get many of my templates:

Lapbook template for Vocabulary Words- (this is one I used for vocabulary words for the chapter). - paths of exploration - this gave me the idea of creating a poster and also using a graphic organizer for keeping track of all the people and facts that went on at this time period.

Additional Resources for working on an Explorers Unit~ - activity - breaks down each explorer in depth (European Explorers)
Our texts we are using for our American History is a combination of Homeschooling in the Woods CD for hands on history and Abeka History grade 4, 5 and 6. Also America's Story by Harcourt and the DK Childrens History Encyclopedia and America's Story Book One by Steck Vaughn.
As you can see I pull many resources because it makes it so much more in depth and interesting.
An "afterthought"~ We are working with the Language Arts Program that is inpired by a Ruth Beechick approach and as I was looking through one of the book studies for the 6th grade I decided I will use this once we finish Pedro's journal as another read aloud. The book is called "Carry On Mr. Bowditch" by Jean Lee Latham - an excerpt from the back of the book-
"In her Newbery Medal-winning book, Jean Lee Latham chronicles Nathaniel Bowditch's journey, from his modest beginnings, to his first sea voyage, to his rigorous self-education, to the triumphs of his fine-tuned mastery of navigation and eventual publication of his famous work, " The American Practical Navigator"- also knows as "Sailor's Bible". Nat's amazing discoveries and accomplishments are brought to life for generation of reader in this engrossing maritime biography. "
Nathaniel Bowditch was a mathematician and astronomer in his time~
The book study includes learning about navigation, mapping, geography and also parts of a ship. The story takes place in the 1700's and will correlate nicely to the time period we are learning about.
If your looking for books to use for your math, history or science one book I would recommend and that I refer to often is Maureen Whittmans book "For the Love Of Literature" it really helps bring concepts for learning and living literature together for me and I found it a great help. ( I have Maureen's book in my slide show of books here for you to check out and purchase if you would like )
I believe a trip to Boston may also be a great field trip idea since we live here in New England :)
Happy History Exploring! ~

Monday, October 26, 2009

Learning Strategies for the Home Schooler~ Reading

Learning Strategies for the Home Schooler~
We often hear and learn about accommodations needed for our learners in the classroom. Within the classroom there are many more children (in most cases) with very different needs and abilities. Strategies and accommodations are commonplace but what about a learner at home?
Children who learn from home may not need the same kind of accommodations as they may need within a structured classroom, however, they are still learners who have individual needs and at times, we need to find ways to help our own children learn from home.
I wanted to spend some time talking about this because I think it can sometimes be overlooked. ~
We bring our children home to learn for many different reasons. When a child has a learning disability learning at home can have many advantages. Over the past few years that we have been homeschooling, I have been able to find some really helpful strategies or accommodations that help them learn and enjoy what they are learning.

Here are some things I do in our home learning with regard to Reading: ( I was going to list all the subjects but realized I have too much to say about each subject so I am going to break them down subject by subject for each posting ).

Reading is probably one of the most important areas we have worked hard on over the past few years. Both boys are dyslexic and also have auditory processing disorder so reading can be a struggle but the right remediation, reading can be successful in your home.

Find a comfortable “spot” for reading: We use our den which is off our kitchen it is quite cozy. I keep many books on the coffee table for their reading interests, ie., gross science books, “why” science books, American History books, Time Almanac for kids, etc., ) During winter we even pull out our blankets and wrap up nice and cozy and cuddle while reading. For my boys (our youngest especially) this helped encourage a more comfortable connection between his reading and the task of reading itself.

Reading is everyday in our home. (both quiet reading and oral reading) We have built up the time starting off with short time allowances for reading and slowly working our way up to an hour or more at a time. J This should be done VERY gradually. Never pushed and when your reader seems to be fatigued in any way it is time to stop. (even if your reading out loud time was only 10 minutes- then that means that they “only read for 10 minutes”) with home learning we can always take time to set aside later or if your child is having an “off” day, sometimes waiting for the next day may be much better.

When teaching decoding be sure to speak softer and a bit more slower and deliberate with your words, it helps your learner to stay focused and also process a bit better.

Give words freely while doing oral reading. When the boys are reading to me and if they are having trouble decoding something, I offer to help immediately if they want me to. This eliminates a lot of fatigue and frustration when our oral reading is being done and I am able to “guide” them by “modeling” how to decode the particular word.

Reading out loud is important. I have found that not only is reading out loud fun but it offers benefits of “modeling good reading” to the boys and also offers an opportunity to teach vocabulary orally and more naturally than learning it from a workbook or worksheet.

Sometimes having extra books for them to follow along is really helpful. When I do this I will use something called Popcorn Reading whereby I will before hand ask a child to follow along and

then when we see a certain animal talks like when we read “Mr. Poppers Penguins” they need to pop up and say what the penguin says. There are several advantages to this one is that it helps with their visual tracking and following along with the story, it also helps with focus/attention with the story and lastly it keeps things fresh and most important FUN. J We always ended up laughing when we would do this.

Another reason to have the extra books for following along is you can use it more extensively for modeling. Pointing out grammar and usage, authors writing style and show them how our voice needs to fluctuate to make the story sound much more interesting.

Allowing them to draw or doodle while I read. At first I wasn’t too sure about this. I was always taught that good concentration meant a child should be looking or following along what your reading or doing. This is definitely not the case with my boys. I tried this and found that when they were allowed to doodle or draw while I was reading something their own understanding and comprehension of the topic or story was actually much better. At times our youngest will draw the story or will draw a diagram of what I am actually reading about.. we then started using these drawings for his episodic notes, which are very helpful.

Oral/Written Narration helps with reading comprehension. When we read I will ask certain questions about what they had just read OR what I have just read to them. In the beginning this can be hard but explaining that it is just like telling me what a movie was about, helped them understanding the “telling back” of a story or information. They were not used to this coming from public school, but orally or drawing or writing or even all three really helps them us to understand what they have processed and what they did not about a story or a particular topic. It can be as quick or as simple as you may want to make it. For example I may decide to go and ask them about a science video they watched while I make dinner and they set the table. It works great!

Keeping a journal of skills introduced and applied: I keep a daily journal of what we do in every subject or what they do during the day since learning seems to be everywhere around us and it at times doesn’t need to come from a program or a book. It is just there, and when an opportunity arises to teach something I do.
For reading I will jot down skills/topics we have gone over, and write down any trouble spots and then when we are reading together I can use those same skills we learned as a way of reinforcement. For example, we were reading The Littles and I decided to pull a few of the words out with regard to antonyms. We were actually “using” something he just learned and in turn, can create a real image of what this word means and how we actually are using it in real life.

Another thing I do is to reinforce our reading remediation steps for decoding while reading. I will use the same tact that our reading program uses to decode a word, use the same words they use for reinforcement so that eventually the words I use (looping, prefixes, suffixes, digraphs, vowel and consonant blends, breaking the word apart, etc..) all have real meaning and become automatic for them to use as skills and not some random pieces of information from a workbook. They are able to create a connection or relation to the teachings and their materials.

Audio Books are a real gift at times. Books on tape or CD can be so wonderful to curl up and listen to when we are just not feeling well or on days when mum might be having a crazy day or just because they are great~! Take some time to check these out at your library.

Other strategies for reading are;

Using a pencil as guide for reading instead of a finger, to help with visual tracking.

Colored overlays or a reading focus card can be helpful for struggling readers. ( we use cover overlays when the print is a bit smaller than usual- I do plan to get the Reading Focus Cards if I see we need them as I think these cna be very helpful for some struggling readers.

Larger font sized books.

Encourage the learner to read their own directions if they can. Then take a hi-lighter or pen and give visual clues to the directions or better yet have the child do this for better understanding. (ie., Circle the nouns and underline the articles; here you would put a circle around the word nouns and would underline the word articles) – very helpful with children who may have memory issues and are visual learners.

Books that are considered hi/lo, meaning they are high in interest but low in readability. There is also curricula out there that has been created this way as well. One publisher that comes to mind quickly is PCI Publishing.

Fluency can be helped by finding stories that are repetitive in their words. Books like Cat in the Hat and A Kiss for Little Bear are some good examples. This isn’t cheating… really it is not this builds automaticity through sight word recognition and even more importantly build confidence in your young little reader J .

Reading more “short stories” or essays from childrens magazines is a fun way to hinder anxiety and create more interest.

Online reading sites that read the story to you as you follow along are a fun change of pace.

When reading a book that a child really likes and is involved with, check out the author’s site to see if there are any fun activities that they can do with their favorite characters.

Play games for reading is also great for reinforcing new skills. (bingo etc..)
I am sure I will have forgotten some of the things I do, but I hope these have helped add a few more things to your home reading program that make it a bit more enjoyable if not successful~ J
Happy Reading~

Saturday, October 24, 2009

History Resource~ "Learning Through History"

I found another neat site to share~ sign up for their free newsletter and enjoy wonderful mini unit studies on various topics.

I just signed up for their newletter for free and had gotten my first edition today and it is about the history of Christmas. It looks like such fun.. background history of Christmas, recipes and activities ~

If you click on the "newsletter" you can find archived newsletters in case your looking for something specific. I really love it~ Be sure to check this out when you have a chance.

Happy History everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Visual Learners~ Woopid for tutorials ~

I just learned about this while checking my emails this morning and just had to share!

I am a VERY visual learner. Are you?
This it a neat site for you if you have a hard time trying to learn alot of the technology things that we need to learn about to get around and be productive on the internet.

The categories in their library are;

I played around and looked at the internet category and checked out the Facebook tutorials... whoo hooo for Woopid... Facebook confuses me at times ~ I don't know about anyone else but it does ~ :) I hope you find something in here to help you along, I am so I saw this and am able to share~

Happy Friday everyone and Happy Learning!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mindful Meanderings: Ruth Beechick's ~ words of inspiration and support

I had a long day today~ working hard on history for the boys and feeling like I am reinventing the wheel at times with some of these textbooks~ I get frustrated with how they are written and the snippets of facts thrown in here and there. My frustration with these textbooks reminded me of something I read a bit ago;

"I meet teaching parents all around the country and find them to be intelligent, enthusiastic, creative people doing a marvelous job of teaching their children. But, sad to say, most of them do not know what a great job they are doing. Everyone thinks it goes smoothly in everyone else's house and theirs is the only place that has problems. I'll let you in on a secret about teaching: there is no place in the world where it rolls along smoothly without problems. Only in articles and books can that happen." Ruth Beechick, You Can Teach Your Child Successfully

I often try to find some time to set aside to re-read certain passages from Dr. Beechick's book "You Can Teach Your Child Successfully". I find such inspiration in her writings.

We often try so hard don't we? Seldom do we give ourselves an acknowledgement for all we do with our children and the hard work and long days we spend researching things to help our young learners.

When I read Ruth Beechick's words it helps to remind me and keep me centered in my goal of teaching my children. It isnt how fast or how quick we get to where we need to be, they are working to their best abilities at times in huge strides which can sometimes really surprise us~ and other times things may need to move slower but our goal is always to not learn as much as we can as fast as we can, but to learn what we can as well as we can.

I really think it is better to know something very well and do it very well , than to know lots of information and not do any of it or know any of it very well~

As homeschool parents we continue on our journey onward and upward, hopefully helping eachother along the way, sharing and supporting eachother the best we can.

Many of us homeschooling parents are mindful of what others do and I think it is one reason why we try so hard to encourage and support eachother in our efforts~ I am so thankful for all my friends and people I have met, who have helped make our home learning so successful.

Happy Home Learning~

Monday, October 19, 2009

Reading~ An article for Struggling Readers AND a new free online magazine Knowonder!

A new free monthly magazine ~ this is really neat. Subscribe free and you can get the e-text delivered directly to your email box.

This magazine has short stories art and crafts for children and much more~ it is geared for children from ages

You can see a copy of this magazine here. Check it out and see if this is something you might like to have delivered to your email box for free or purchase a subscription for one year at 24.00 (within the US).

There are different sections to the magazine; Story Time for You~ stories for every day of the entire month, For Kids by Kids - artwork submitted by children to inspire your little artists, For You by You- article for parents on literature, crafts and cooking projects to do with your learner and lastly Games and Fun.

On the October issue there is a great article by author Max Elliott Anderson entitled " Help for the Reluctant Reader". Next month for their November issue they will be having a chapter from Max Elliott Andersons new tween book "Legend of the White Wolf".

Happy Monday and Happy Reading!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Learning How to Write with IEW~ some notes

Looking for a solid, comprehensive writing program ~ I found that Institute for Excellence fits our needs very well. Do you use IEW? Have you heard about it and considered it but it seemed way to overwhelming? I did a few years back, then I started researching other programs and spent a great deal of time and energy trying to find something that would compare. There was a problem in that, there is not one that exists. ~

The only other program I would consider working would be Write Shop for my middle school student but for us, IEW "fits the bill".

I am not an affiliate and I do not gain anything from writing this post except possibly help others who may be searching and searching for a writing program that can "model" good writing and begin good habits toward proper writing.

I use IEW for our main writing program for our home learning. We also have two themed programs by IEW which are called "All Things Fun and Fascinating" and also "Myths, Fables & Fairytales". These are themed based programs and they looked like great fun for our boys.
We are just getting back into our home writing program while starting back up with this again, I needed to review it over again and so I was able to sit at watch Andrew Pudewa teach me again and remind me of how I can teach the boys writing~ I decided to write out a quick notes page so that I could refer back to it now and then. If your using IEW this might be of help to you~ if not, perhaps it might interest you to look again at considering IEW ~
a more formal copy is available here
Daily IEW Lesson NOTES * Only spend enough time for them to understand, then move right on. * NO Erasing and USE pen.
1. Use resource material that is slightly lower than their reading level.
2. BEFORE doing the KWO read aloud and discuss the paragraph/resource together.
3. If they need help, be sure to help them come up with keywords, symbols or numbers for some until it becomes EASY. Re-read sentences if I need to with them.
4. Drafts need to be double spaced to allow for editing and work. Paragraphs indented and use capital letters and title is underlined.
5. Avoid; word repetition (use synonyms) overuse of conversation(less talk and more action, description and feeling).
6. Comma’s; required when it is after “ing” opening phrase and after a clausal opener. (ie., Although she was hungry, etc..)
7. When working a KWO if there are compound sentences use 4-5 words OR divide the sentence into two separate parts.
8. When there is a very short sentence you can combine two sentences together for a KWO.
9. Use the KWO as an opportunity to practice Public Speaking. It is important they learn to speak in front of a group from brief notes and not reading lengthy sentences.
10. Repeating the source word for word should not be the goal- letting them use their own words, sentences and creativity is the goal.
11. Style techniques ( Dress Ups, Sentence Openers, Decorations and Sentence Styles ) should be introduced with a wipe board demonstration.
12. Dress-ups should be introduced slowly when the others have become easy.
13. (Only one of each )dress up is required for each paragraph. Underline the dress ups in red. Write the sentence opener number (1-7) in the margins.
14. As each dress up is introduced establish a “minimum rule” so they will go back and check their work .
15. Use the checklists on the back of each handout or pass out a checklist handout to be used to help them remember. Do this until adding the dress-ups become natural and easy for them.
16. Posters and visuals are VERY important.
17. When working the units remember that I am “teaching process not product”.

Notebook Assembly: Label the five dividers as follows;
Work in Progress- add handouts, outlines, models, checklists etc, that is being worked on. (when the assignment is done then this gets emptied for the next project).
Completed Work-place completed work here.
Structure Models- Keep the Key Ideas Page here along with notes on structure models as they are provided in the lessons. Included in these pages is the Story Sequence Model.
Stylistic Techniques- These pages are used here with all the style lists. (ly, prepositions etc.)
Banned Words- Put the banned words sheets behind this tab.
Public Speaking:
*stand in front of the group.
*see KWO that is written in LARGER print.
*Look down at the KWO’s first line of words, then look up at the group and speak in complete sentences while communicating the basic words of the KWO.
*repeat this with as little delay as possible between sentences.
Advanced Speakers: use prepared and practiced gestures.
Practice moving from the lectern from one side to the other and then back to the center.
Begin using longer outlines and more description in his words.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Daily Lesson Check lists for easier organization and lesson planning~

We started using daily checklists this year and it has worked out very well. Each day I go through and highlight which lessons they will do. They then will check it off once it is complete or make any notes they need to make with questions or reminders for the next day.

This is a sample of the checklist, I listed all our subjects and also the programs so I can pick and choose according to what I am planning on doing. I chose to do it this way because some days our science or history runs longer, so we may decide to spend some extra time on a topic and having everything listed saves me time to go through re-write something. And somedays, like today, we ended up working on science when we didnt really plan to, which often can happen with us. This way it is already there and I just need to see in my homeschool journal where we left off.
These daily lists takes the place (for the most part) of my lesson planning. I use this and my journal to guide where we will move next. I use the comments section to write in also, to tell me where I might find/use a specific resource or book to do other activities. It works very well and you can find an excel copy of this here, in case you wish to use this and add/delete programs.
(Peyton and Christian Weekly Checklist)
The only other thing I found to be very helpful to me when lesson planning and coordinating resources it to use a binder or notebook for a particular subject.
an example of using a binder~ we are using Mystery of History for our world history for our first semester and the book text comes in a binded book format. I have decided that I will have the binding cut off and three holes drilled so that the entire text can be placed in a a binder. The reason I am doing this is to make it easier to make copies of activities or the maps in the back of the book. I also can make notes on notebook pages and add them to the lessons in the correct places without having a bunch of papers sticking out of the soft bound book.
Having the text in a binder also allows me to pull other resources I have found like internet link resources, books for reading aloud, activities, craft ideas, recipes etc. Having these resources placed exactly where I need to see them works!
I find this to be very effiicient and it helps me to pull resources from all different areas for a particular topic.
This also works very nicely for our Learning Language Arts through Literature as well. The texts also come bound and are in paperback form, so I also cut these off and drilled holes to place in a 3 inch binder. We work out of these binders and extra practice pages for handwriting (which I add in each day for each LLATL lesson) and any grammar notebooking pages I have created and they work on to reinforce the concepts are placed within the pages that pertain to the particular lesson. We can go back and review the next day to again, reinforce the work we have done and to be sure there is complete understanding of the information already learned.
an example of using a spiral notebook~ for math we are using Math On The Level. This program does not use a workbook approach but instead uses a concept chart that you can follow along with teaching books for each subject and concept for teaching math for grades K-8. I chose to take the concept chart and write each math concept in the spiral notebook page (one page for each concept) I then add the teaching book pages needed for the concept the practice pages needed for our 5 a days and then in the middle of the page I write down any resources I think might be fun to use in teaching the concept. It might be a math reader, and online game or interactive site or a craft or particular hands on activity we can do~ anything that I found that would pertain and reinforce the concept.
I then can make notes of certain activities, what my observations might be in this area of teaching and I date everything so I have a running log of how each child is doing in that particular concept.
For me this is approach is very helpful as I tend to be very eclectic in my approach to teaching and I remain very flexible with our boys and fitting my teaching style to fit their needs, learning styles and interests.
Perhaps some of my ideas may give you some ideas for better organization in your teaching at home. Sometimes changing something just a bit can make such a big difference in how our organization functions.
Happy Planning and Organizing!~

A Phonics Learning Tool ~ "Phonics Flipper"

I had time to run to our local homeschool/textbook store called The Book Cellar. They are having a 75% off sale on all their homeschool used/new books so I thought I would go see if I could find some deals~ us homeschool mums always seem to be looking for deals and we always need something don't we?

I found Phonics Flipper ( " A Basic Referene for Reading and Speaking" ) and wanted to share with you about it. It is really neat and very versatile as to how you wish to use it. Laminated and in a matchbook style format, it has a hard plastic backing that is three hole punched so you can attach it to your Phonics/Reading/Language Arts binder for quick reference.

The Flipper starts with the short vowels, giving word spelling examples and then progresses down toward the long vowel sounds. It gives digraph sounds and examples along with consonants for "n", "k", "s", "j", "f" and consonant blends, sh, th, wh, ch , st, tw, bl ~ along with other blends like spr, scr, str. There are syllable and pronounciation tips with a glossary and dictionary quick reference.
An inexpensive, handy and helpful tool.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On Line Learning- Lesson Pathways, A TOUR

Lesson Pathways is another online program we are using this year. WE LOVE IT. It has everything in one place. It is a brand new program that launched just this year~ I use this for both boys. Years K-5 are available and still being added to, it is worth checking out.
Hope you have a chance to check this out. I am really glad I did and find it to be a very suitable, appropriate supplement for us, but if I had younger children, I really think this could be used as a full scale curriculum.

Here is the tour that explains much more and shows visually how the program works.

*See Below*

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

E Learning ~ a new endeavor

I recently have seen a big change in my 13 year old- he is seeking more independence in his learning. He loves the computer and is a visual and auditory learner. My thought was to find something for him where he could "click and go" at times and still look to have some sort of guidance or teaching time from me.

He absolutely loves technology and typing it is a real strength for him, (since he types much better and faster than he can write we chose to allow him to now that he is older, type a most of his work), thankfully since his learning struggles center around graphomotor trouble and his CAPD. Using a computer can really play an important role in his learning. He is able to re-play things take brief notes on the notepad and work at his own pace for better understanding.
I saw his needs changing a few weeks into our new school year but often take some time to sit back and wait and see how things progress. It doesnt seem to be a "passing fancy" and he has enjoyed working more and more on the computer for his work. I have also found that since he has, his work output has been much higher and much more in-depth.
I think for us, as at home educators it is really important to remain focused on our childrens needs, not the program we bought or that we need to follow. For me, I try to remember it isnt about the program or the textbook it is about the learner and how they feel about their learning and how I can find ways to meet those needs as best I can. ~ Creating a relaxed, flexible learning environment will reap such benefits, in so many ways I cannot even list them all.
I decided to ask around and try to find something a bit different to try out just to see how far this new endeavor of online learning will take us and how it will work for him. ~
I really wasnt looking for a virtual school situation. That would not be a fit either. There are many out there but we were looking for something just a bit different.
I searched a bit and had found a wonderful resource that could be used as our supplement for him in many areas.

Internet4Classroom covers many subjects Art, Language Arts, Science, Math, Social Studies, technology resources, special needs resources and assessment link resources and much more.
I had actually found this site way back when I first started homeschooling and forgot all about it since my boys needed a bit of one on one attention and some remediation work with their struggles with Dyslexia and CAPD.

** update: I recently created a record sheet to keep track of their activities on Internet4Classrooms. You can find the form here, (entitled Record Sheet Internet4Classrooms)

Now that things are running very smoothly I find I need to adjust things just a bit with my older homeschooler. Internet4Classrooms will help allow him to be more independent and responsible with his work and work assignments. I am planning to use this as a supplement only and it will not take the place of our initial teaching time. However, a resource like this can have many advantages to the older learner.
There is also a newsletter you can sign up for which I did just to keep me updated on any new information.
This is a great site and it has many benefits. I realize this may not meet our needs completely as time passes, (especially if I see him really enjoy e-learning) but for now this will be a perfect way to find out how he may adjust and learn with his strengths and abilities using an online teaching model.

Here is an article on the benefits of e-learning. This site also has an article about what kind of learner, e-learning would benefit. They also have an evaluation that explains what to look for in an online program that would be geared for your childs particular strengths.
Why, some might ask, would I want to change things or worry if things are going "ok". One large reason is that I cherish my boys love for learning and their interest in the world and things around them. A child who is forced to learn in a way that enables them to struggle, dislike or become frustrated with material, it no longer is learning. It is a chore it is work. In some cases learning can be work and hard work, however, if everything is not fun any longer their inner self diminishes and their creativity is killed. " I do not wish to educate them out of their capacity."
You can see Sir Ken Robinson speak about how schools kill creativity. *see below video* I do not wish to discourage their creativity in our home. We cherish our right brained learners and I encourage everyone with Right Brained Learners to cherish these children and their gifts. ~ and their creative, out of the box thinking.
I also found another article entitled " The Benefits and Drawbacks of e-learning" by Kevin Kruse.
Here are a few other free online learning sites I found helpful in my search;
E Learning - Free Courses for children globally, I liked this one for my younger learner as well.
MindSpring - a free online program for Math and Reading grades K-3.

You might like these~

Popular Posts