Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saturday Spotlight Newsletter~ early~


Here is the most recent Newsletter, normally sent out on Saturday mornings but due to some tests I am having I will be unable to send this out so I decided to do it early so everyone would have it for the weekend.
There is some great links I found this week ~ and check out the videos of the two homeschoolers speaking about their home learning.
They are really delightful and it really shows how in every home - learning can look so different.
Link:
Saturday Spotlight Newsletter

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Journals-



In the last post I mentioned how I use Journals as a way of documenting what we have done and how I kind of learned this from my days with working with The Wilson Reading Program. This is an OG based program whereby your creating lesson plans and documenting progress and "trouble spots" as you move along with the child.

I needed a way to remember at times what we might have worked on. This is not a state requirement here in New Hampshire but I wanted to do this as a way of tracking their work a bit more closely.

It is nothing at all fancy, just two spiral notebooks ( I used one for each child) that I write in daily adding the date and the subject and basically just what we did - it is also a great way for tracking progress with say a program like All About Spelling- or trouble spots in math or help in creating the child's individualized spelling list that Ruth Beechick suggests in here program Learning Language Arts Through Literature.

Perhaps some may find this helpful in their own home school organization and tracking, I know for me, I would never be able to function without this ~ :)

Organizing: Our Two-Child Lesson Planning Sheet-

Here is my most recent lesson planner page I had created for me. I tend to get really frustrated because I can never find a planner or something that works well for me. I know what "I need" but could never seem to find just the right thing. ( I added an extra page just in case I needed to write more.. the nice thing about the smaller boxes? You won't OVERPLAN, like I do sometimes. :)

I realized working with my journals I use daily ( where I hand write in what we do for each subject, a habit I picked up while working the OG program for Wilson Reading System) - (will share some of that later ) that I just needed to be able to quickly write down notes to keep me on track as to our direction and something I could glance at quickly ( I am visual too) and not have to pull out a book for each child as I go to see where we are headed.

This seems like it will fit my need nicely so I wanted to share with some of you just in case you were searching for something like this as well. I have added this to the Learners At Home website (found on right hand side under my pages- under lesson plan templates ) I did not make this into a PDF this way, you can go ahead and save it and alter it as you need to for your own use~ :) There is a website you might have heard about that also has many templates for organizing Donna Young Homeschool. com - you might find something there as well.

Weekly Lesson Checklist & Schedules

While working with my other learners Pocket Assignment System I decided to adjust my other learners weekly schedule as well for next year and the remaining of this year.

This schedule is helpful because he can go right to it and it keeps him on track completely when it comes to his studies and what is needed. I work closely with this child so you will notice I do not have times and specifics as to what we are learning because we do, work so closely together it is not necessary. As he grows and becomes more independent in his learning I may add more but, it is hard to say, because he is learning to know exactly what is expected of him and really sets his own pace which is really what I am aiming for anyway.

You will notice in Math he has three different programs~ that is because he now LOVES math and believe it or not wishes to work all three, not every day, but works usually works Horizons three days a week while he will work Teaching Textbooks for two days and we use MOTL whenever we are introducing a new topic, always, because for him this seems to work best.



Example of my older son's schedule (note that there is times specified to help with tasks and time management). This schedule works best for him, we have been working this schedule for quite a while now (all except for the past two weeks where we blocked our studies where we only worked History and Science for two weeks, which was SUCH FUN) - we really need to continue to do that once in a while~ for next year.

* a special thank you to Cindy for sharing with me her excel doc in helping me create my own version (still learning, but getting better! ) *










Happy Planning and Organizing~

Our New Pocket Assignment System- for Visual and Tactile Learners

A New Pocket Assignment System
(its not fancy but could be a powerful tool)

We have been on vacation this week and are really enjoying our much needed time off. I decided to try and take some time to get my planning and organizing out of the way this week, since when we come back from our break we will only be doing formal studies for another six weeks or so.
After that we will be on our summer studies which consist of interest directed and also unit studies that are fun to do for the summer months.
****************************************
I was reading a new blog (Desert Ramblings) that my friend Cindy had just started and am already "hooked" as they say~ she just started the blog and her topics so far have really been a few things I had been interested in and have been think about most recently. She began explaining about how one of her sons was having trouble with transitioning from one subject to the next throughout his day~ I have a learner like that and became very interested in her new idea~ a pocket chart assignment system.

I really liked this idea so I decided to explore this a bit further to see if this could work for one of my boys who always has struggled with his lists and keeping track of where he was going next.
I thought this might really work well for him.
Both boys are SO very different, one does very well with his lists and the other just seems to get confused so I could see I needed to individualize things a bit more for them.

Here is a picture of my version of the pocket chart assignment system. I did not get the pocket organizer because I wanted to be sure this worked well for him before investing the 25.00 or 30.00 that these cost. Once I see it works well I will go ahead and order this for him ~

An explanation of how it might work for us~
*I made pockets for each subject. (labeling each one )

* Below each subject I added another pocket with a "red check" on it ( this is his finished pocket)
* Underneath these pockets I have a pocket for each day of the week that has his daily assignments in it. ( each envelope is color coded so the cards match the day of the week)

*On each colored card I wrote his daily assignments, (these are the basic assignments not specific to a particular lesson but rather the daily requirement needed ie., - Math: "do one lesson in your Teaching Textbooks". ) when I need to give further details I will attach a (same color) post it note to the card with more specific directions for him.

* The clothes pins have written on the "notes" and "work saved". ( As I was writing up his lessons I could see how this could help with time management and organization, because on some days if he sees he would rather work longer in, lets say, history then he could take his "typing card" and move it to his "work saved" clip so he knows he still has to do that lesson for the week.

I really think this will help him learn how to manage his time, organize his subjects and because of the tactile ( moving the lesson card to the finished pocket) ( moving a lesson card to his clips) and the visual ( color coded cards for each day of the week so he can "see" at a glance what the day is and what is needed) he will really begin to see and learn better habits for managing his studies and taking control of his own lessons.

My other son has no interest at all in working his lessons this way~ he is quite happy with using his checklist I had created for him that has his whole week laid out for him and also is color coordinated which I will share in my next post as I continue to share my organizing ideas~

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tidal Homeschooling - finding a label for what we "do"

I have been asked so many times what kind of homeschooling method we use. To be honest even after all this time, I cannot seem to embrace completely, any one particular method for our home learning.
I had a tendency to describe it as eclectic, which describes it well, however we do lean toward a Charlotte Mason and Ruth Beechick Method and also tended to fall into patterns of ramped up structured learning and relaxed learning as well.

I was over at Melissa Wiley's blog Here in Bonny Glen and decided I finally found something we can embrace~ Tidal Homeschooling ~ here is how Melissa explains it;

"Over the years I have written with enthusiasm about the Charlotte Mason method (which is highly structured) and unschooling (which is not). These educational philosophies seem to have intertwined themselves in my home, so that the *what we do*read great books, study nature, dive deeply into history, immerse ourselves in picture study and composer study is highly influenced by Charlotte's writings and their modern counterparts; and the *how we do it*through strewing and conversation and leisurely, child-led exploration ïs influenced by the writings of John Holt, Sandra Dodd, and other advocates of unschooling. But I couldn't say we're 'real CMers' because I don't carry out Miss Mason's recommendations in anything like the structured manner she prescribed; and I probably do too much behind-the-scenes nudging for us to be considered 'real unschoolers.'

"The truth is, I couldn't find any label that completely fit my family, so I made up my own. I call us 'Tidal Learners' because the ways in which we approach education here change with the tide. Now, this doesn't mean that we're flighty or inconsistent, changing direction haphazardly. We aren't Fiddler Crab Homeschoolers. What I mean is that there is a rhythm to the way learning happens here; there are upbeats and downbeats; there is an ebb and flow."- Melissa Wiley

This really explains us well ~ How at times we can be very structured in some aspects of our learning and how other ways many things can be delight directed, and even though they are following their own interests it is quite easy for us to stay within guidelines for our state without having to completely follow a structured program.
We do use programs, but as you have often heard me talk about, they are only used as a guide - a kind of spring board if you will, the rest is up to them. It really can be an exciting journey.

Our textbooks we use are picked up looked at and then most often cut up for picture study or maybe to use for a notebooking page. We find ways to use them, often times our textbooks have great pictures in them for something the boys are working on, but to really get into details and the more in-depth learning Living Books are what help us much more.

Here is more on Tidal Homeschooling from Melissa~ I love how she explains it and can truly relate to this. It explains to me the rhythm we have at times while homeschooling. Something completely different than those children who attend a structured school each day ~

I never would be able to fully embrace completely an unschooling method, nor would I be able completely absorb all our learning as a CM'er or Beechicker, Using both in the way we need to suits us just fine. I think knowing who we are, what we are and being true to ourselves and family is what is most important than trying to find that perfect "fit".

I kind of like using different ways to adapt learning in our home. I think our boys really like it too~ although I will admit that my oldest tends to enjoy the unschooling part of learning and delight directed much more than our structured learning~ he often reminds me of this and as time moves along his learning will become more and more his own.

This time of year we are ramping down and our "tide" is moving out (we homeschool year round) so this time of year is "our time" I am sure I will look back on this and really cherish our times exploring together~

Every year about this time, as things begin to wind down and I begin to look back on our year I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to teach my own children in the ways they need to learn.
Their needs are the most important thing to me and my husband in teaching our children and meeting them where they are at has been our philosophy from the start.

I am convinced that labels mean very little in a homeschool environment. Happy children who are enjoying their studies and embrace their opportunity to learn freely and enjoy their families while growing seems so much more important to me~

Happy Home Learning~

Science Fun~ Chemistry !

We will be starting a unit on Chemistry and I think this book will be lots of fun
to work with.

We are also going to be working with this unit to go along with the book, from Homeschool Share.

Once we have pictures of our lapbook, I will be sure to share~

Happy Element Explorations ~ !

Monday, April 19, 2010

Early American History - Colonial Times

We had been working through our lessons in Early American History and I was creating some notebook pages for our lessons. The boys are both working two separate paths toward this topic so we have a chance to then come together looking at this time period in history at different angles.
If interested in the most recent notebooking pages, you can find those in the "my pages" section in the right side ~ the most recent are listed in the box from Homeschool Launch.

As we worked further in our Lesson 5 of Oak Meadow Syllabus I decided I would try and find a map whereby my youngest could color and add may some information and also to help as a visual so he understood exactly where and whom we were talking about.

I happened upon some really comprehensive resources and wanted to share them with you.
In attempting to find a map we would could work from I found this link resource from Eduplace.
And then also this plethora of information from the TeacherOz.com site - Discovery, Exploration, Colonies and Revolution
Through this site (above) I wanted to find something that gave us a clear visual of what was going on with the newly aligned territories for the boys so they could see for themselves how settelments began to build between the Colonies and the Spanish~ I found this and my boys could see quite clearly how things began to change for the early settlers.
Here is another map lesson for learning about the 13 colonies also for younger children.

Here is some interactive/games to use from the Mrs. Nussbaum site. I was really shocked to find this and I know my youngest will love these~

This is a perfect time for us to jump more heavily into US Geography~ and while we always work geography while learning history I found this CD by Amy Pak ( we love her lessons) and plan to work these as we move along with our American History.

A "new to us" book series: In their Own Words Scholastic ~ we found a book for reading and learning more about Pocahontas.
Just thought I would share these "neat finds" ~ and I will continue to share the notebooking pages I create as we work further into our American History.

Note: I just found this on Currclick a unit on the Colonies for only .50 cents.

Happy History~

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Call for Mentors ~ Homeschooling E- group needs you ~

I wanted to extend an invitation to anyone interested in mentoring other homeschool parents who may be just starting out or struggling in their homeschooling journey. I had received a "call out" from my friend Rebecca Miller asking if I would spread the word for these parents in need~

Many homeschool parents are seasoned or at the very least can give great insight to teaching our learners at home. If you feel you would like to help please check out these groups and join so that you can share your experiences and insight with fellow homeschoolers who may really need your help and guidance.

Here is an excerpt from the List Owner:
"The group homeschooling-lower-grades has several families that did not start out (technically) homeschooling and have removed their children from public school and are trying to get started.
The group homeschooling-several-grades is struggling with trying to plan out a day with multiple aged children, even some that haven't (technically) started school and the mom's are trying to work around homeschooling and housework and keeping everyone busy.
The group homeschooling-toddlers-thru-kindergarteners is a panic because they aren't sure they are doing things right at all and feel it's the foundation for the rest of their homeschooling journey. " ~ Rebecca Miller

I am sure many of us can remember when we first started out and really felt like we could use some support and maybe a bit more guidance.

Here are the links to the groups~
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeschooling-upper-grades/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeschooling-lower-grades/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeschooling-several-grades/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homeschooling-toddlers-thru-kindergarten/

If you decide to join and help and share, thank you in advance :) and be sure to say "hello" as I will probably be on there :)


AKOL's Saturday Spotlight Newsletter, 4-17-10


All Kinds Of Learners has a new newsletter that is provided to members. If your not a member here is a link you can read their newsletter!~

Saturday Spotlight Newsletter, 4-17-10

It is from the Yahoo E group for teachers and parents both. It provides some really great link resources that are shared by members weekly~ I thought some may enjoy reading it~

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Grammar Practice Game~


We had been working our LLATL the other day and we came upon a game in my son's lesson to practice parts of speech~ in this game, we practiced using nouns and adjectives and the boys enjoyed the review ~
I plan to add more parts of speech to our pile, - articles, adverbs, verbs, conjunctions etc... for them to practice.
Here is how we played:
*create categories: VERBS, ADJECTIVES, NOUNS, ADVERBS, ARTICLES, CONJUNCTIONS, CONTRACTIONS, PRONOUNS etc...
(it is simple to adjust this for any age by adding more or less categories and words to the game)

*cut these out and place on table.
*create words that would match these categories.. you can add as many categories or as little as you wish...
*cut out each word and place face down
* I created some blank ones so that the boys had to make up their own and place it correctly too.
*each player reads the word and places it in the correct category
* each one correct is a point.
* the player with the most points wins
4/21/10 ~ update you can find a quick template to use that I created here.
It was fun and a neat, quick way to practice parts of speech~ !

Monday, April 12, 2010

History with author Edward Egglestons book~

I had mentioned we were going to be starting out reading Edward Egglestons book~ " The History of the United States and its People". I don't think I realized how much my son would enjoy it.
I decided to work through the whole book now and have created some notebooking pages you can see to the left of the blog at the homeschool launch site and also on my website Learners at Home. Just scroll down to the History section and you will see them there.
I am hoping to do one for each chapter as we move along.
Today my son read about four chapters~ he really liked it and we learned a bit more about these early explorers so I am glad we back tracked a bit before moving right into the Jamestown activities.
I will add the notebook pages as we do the chapters so if your interested be sure to book mark my website because I will add them there first as we go along.

Science ~ Amphibians Notebooking Page and Frogs~

We are doing a unit on Frogs and learning more about Amphibians. I have created two new notebooking pages that you can find on the Learners at Home Website or over at Homeschool Launch~
When checking out the Learners At Home Website scroll down to the subject your looking for, in this case it would be for Science and you will see my pages.
When using Homeschool Launch you will see on my left side of my Learners at Home Blog updated pages I have created so you can stay updated as I create them~ and click on each to have a look.

For these pages we were using the books;
"Natures' Children Series, Frogs " ( you can find this series in most libraries in your area)and also an old book I had on our shelf called "Wonders of Living Things".

further resources~ lapbooks etc...

Dynamic 2 Moms~ a great lapbook on toads and some frogs
Homeschool Share- lapbook and unit on frogs
Homeschool Helper lapbook on frogs

*****************************************************************************
All About Frogs and Toads
42 Explore Frogs
Frogs and Toads Handbook
You tube videos of frogs and toads
Life Cycle of frogs


Sunday, April 11, 2010

History of Jamestown~


We recently had been reading about Jamestown~ and the boys became very interested in this particular English settlement, because it seemed so different from the Plymouth settlement.

We decided to explore a bit further so that we could then compare the two ~

Here are some things we are using to work on this particular topic:

H.S.I Historical Scene Investigation, this is a neat site that provides "files" for students to learn more in depth about a topic but in a fun investigative way~ the first file " The Starving Time" was right on target for us.

We plan on reading "The History of the United States and its People" By Edward Eggleston, while reading, we will be doing notebooking and lapbooking activities found at My American History Lapbooks, chapters 4 and 5.

We will be making a replica of Jamestown, from the History Study Time Travelers. This particular sample is taken from their American Revolution CD.

More interesting sites to check out:






Happy History!

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