Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teaching our Children HOW they need to learn~

I have spoken often about how I have learned to teach my boys.  I have found that using strengths through learning is much more powerful than any particular program, curriculum or teacher.  Here is a video I found that addresses some very important and helpful points in teaching our children:

I wanted to share this with everyone, I really feel very passionate about this and hope others find this as insightful as I have~

A favorite book of mine that talks about strengths learning is by Jenifer Fox,
Your Child's Strengths

Books by Howard Gardner can be found here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our Cursive Practice Binder~

I just finished our cursive practice binder that our youngest will probably be using often this summer since it remains one of his goals to be able to write in September almost exclusively with cursive handwriting. 

I found an inexpensive cursive handwriting book at Borders  ( Handwriting Cursive by School Specialty Publishing- 3.99) and had taken out the pages and placed them all in sheet protectors.  I have my youngest try these first with a copy before, just to be sure there were no sensory issues, since he wasn't used to using these for practice. They worked just fine. 

I placed the sheets in a binder and used the first page of the book I had picked up for our cover on the binder.

I then went through and added pages I thought would be helpful for him including creating a page for him to practice his signature. 

I think this will work very nicely and he also liked how he could practice on the page protectors before going to work in his composition book that I wrote about earlier in another post. 

I will most likely be adding many more pages for his practice, but for now this should work just fine. 

Happy Cursive Handwriting~ ! 

Summer Reading ~ "Warriors Series" and something else too~

My almost 14 yo is absolutely hooked on the Warrior Series by Erin Hunter ( that actually turns out to be three authors in one, and Erin Hunter is the "pen name") ~ he had been introduced to this series from another homeschooler and was not sure if he would like it because it was about "cats".  He gave it a try anyway since he enjoyed the Seekers series so much.
Can I just say he loves it!
Now moving on my younger son really liked how his brother would explain about the story and really wanted to read this himself, he isn't quite there yet~ as the reading level is a bit more than I would want him to tackle at this point~ but today a friend on Facebook ( thank you Rhonda :)  ) really helped me out~ we had been talking about summer reads and the author James Patterson.
She gave me a link to a program that he has been working on called ReadKiddoRead.
It lists some great books and in looking at the transitional book section I found:

Catwings by Ursula LeQuin
It looks perfect for my guy and is a series as well~ we will try this one for sure!
I love the website and will refer back to it often~ be sure and check it out!

Happy Reading~

Monday, June 21, 2010

Handwriting Practice~

The Homeschool Classroom has a great article about handwriting practice and ideas for not having to waste all those worksheets for practicing- I thought instantly of using this for our cursive handwriting since we really don't use worksheets for anything else~ 

Here are some sites I found to print off free worksheets for our cursive practice:
Super Worksheets, these I liked since we could work both capital and lower case letters separately. Different paper styles were also provided.
Home Education Resources, these were neat because I could see how a child would like to create his/her own book for cursive over the summer and color the pictures as well ~
Kidzone, these are great since they have the tracers to go along with the practice~ my guy will probably really like these.
Handwriting for Kids, join their email group and receive updates for free on things they add~ there are some great worksheets here to use. 
ESL Writing Wizard, create your own writing worksheet, great for practicing signatures
Handwriting Worksheet Creator, this creator covers the D'Nealian style as well
Zaner Bloser~ you can print fonts and paper work off this site 
Soft Schools- more great worksheets 
Donna Young Printables, I really like these as well~ 
Worksheet Works
We use several things for practicing our handwriting, to ease frustration in the very beginning I give him a wipebard with the lines already on it specifically made for handwriting. I found this at our local Walmart and we tend to use it all the time. 
I think for him he find it really helpful and really eases his frustration when learning a new letter or trying to connect letters. 

I also found a grade 3 (perfectly sized lines for his ability) at our local staples these are great thin books to use ~ one thing I really like about these that he also appreciates is keeping all his practice in one place and dated it allows for us both to his consistent progress and I think this really helps to keep him going also :) 

Happy Handwriting! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Favorite Things from this year~ sharing some thoughts/ideas and just "things"

Here are some of my favorite things from this year~

1.  I love the New Blogger in Draft for my blog.  I spent a while trying to find the right "fit" for my blog and I just love the new templates and layouts for the new Blogger. Much Happier! - this is a great blog if you use Blogger like I do. :)

2. Our Oak Meadow, I just love it~ it is such a great fit~ (we are using the History curriculum) This summer I am going to be finishing working through each of the lessons in the second half of the OM6 Syllabus and adding the link resources/videos for the lessons.  I am also going to be creating a link resource list for the OM 5 also. The boys really love their OM and I believe we will stay with this for their History and Social Studies. I really like how the program runs.

3.  I am really loving the Work File System I created for myself and for my guy~ this is going to be great! I am using mine just about everyday, I never forget anything now and added a "Pending" hanging folder in the front for any orders for curricula, calls to authors/publishers or just about anything that is pending I pop into the folder and can go back and follow up on, loving it. ~

4.  I recently had been working the past couple of weeks on setting up their curriculum and plans for next year and had purchased the Adaptive Curriculum ( middle school science ) and the Aha Science (elementary grades) I had purchased these through Homeschool Buyers Co-Op ( they are also on Facebook as well btw) and we just love these programs! there are going to be a great way to augment their science into a more interactive on-line way of learning science. The boys are really excited about it.

5.  I also took some time this past week to finish our IEW Writing Organizer and am just loving it. We also put together for the first time the Student Resource Notebook ( you are able to get this download when ordering themed based lessons from IEW site) and I have to say I LOVE IT.  Everything in one place, Models, Stylistic Techniques, Checklists and more ~ just wonderful for learners working through the Units of IEW.
* a side note, I finally was able to get my older son the Digital Thesaurus for his writing as well and am so glad I did.  This is going to be great to help him with his writing.  ( a suggestion: for those who are not able to get the digital thesaurus I had saved on our desk top the site Thesaurus.Com and they could go right on there to find synonyms for words they are trying to find. 

6.  Recently I found out about the Oxford all in one 8 Pocket folders and I am really loving these for organizing topics within subject areas.  I am hooked on these. :) 

7.  Notebooking Pages~ not only do I love these but so do my boys~ we no longer use ANY worksheets except ones we can cut out for our lapbooks and color or things we can use as visuals for our pockets etc... we use these so much ~ our written narration has really taken off this year and next year I expect we will mostly be doing this with all our subjects.  One reason why I love Oak Meadow so much is it is very flexible in the way it is written and we can use our written narration and notebooking methods very nicely with this program. I love it when things fit together nicely.Bye, bye worksheets ~ :)

8. Free Resources~ ok, I admit I think I am now addicted to trying to find free resources for our home learning.  I started a section (left hand side of toolbar) for free learning resources. There is SO much out there. I am just loving the resources I have found and feel so lucky to have these at our disposal.  I plan on adding more and more as I go~ 

9.  Diigo~ my friend Kris from At Home Science showed me this great, free, online bookmarking system and I am just crazy about it.  I love it SO much.  I am considering building some groups on there as well for sharing specific resources for learning at home. If your looking for a great, easy bookmarking system, Diigo is really it ~ 

10.  Magnetic Wipe Boards~ I know sounds crazy but we use All About Spelling and IEW and sometimes it is really handy having these magnetic wipe boards.  I ended up going to our Dollar Store (another fav of mine) and purchasing some magnet clips and we use those on our wipe boards ( I stand them up with our easels for the tables) to clip a model outline for IEW or I clip on it the Phonogram Cards we might be working with in All About Spelling.  It just works great! 

11.  Games for reinforcement of skills learned.  This year we really used games as a way of re-enforcing certain concepts in math or grammar and even science.   This has been absolutely wonderful.  With sites like Multiplication.com or Grammar Games it has really been helpful for practicing~ I am planning on adding a section here for games for learning~ games at our house is a great alternative to testing, also. 

12.  Videos have really taken off for learning in our house also. Over the summer I am going to be looking at using Netflix and our library much more to use videos as a supplement for the boys in our home studies.  

It's been a great year and I am sure I could keep adding to this list but I will leave you with "a dozen" for now~ :) 

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Writing Organization Folder~ For IEW Users

Here is our finished Writing Organization Folders for our IEW program. I had been working on these on and off this week and am now finished. I do plan on adding more as we move further into the units but do not want to add information that we have not used yet, in case it leads to confusion.
The idea behind these Writing Folders is to have a visual, tactile way of seeing the writing process. Each pocket provides/shows the next step within the IEW writing process.
Some benefits of using a pocket folder like this is:

* Keeping all writing assignments tidy in one place.
* Has visuals within the pockets to act as reminders in the KWO process and helps to build automaticity with the writing process of IEW.
* The boys can work on several assignments at any given time. ( we do not just write one KWO and follow through the whole process- we may at times, use different resources and write as many as 4 or 5 outlines if I see one of them is still having difficulty, this helps to not get "mucked up" in the process in feeling like each KWO has to have a write up, they don't - one step at a time.
* These folders can be especially helpful for special needs learners or anyone who gets caught up in the writing process, providing continuity and organization lessens the anxiety of writing and provides the steps in little chunks.
* Pasted visuals or posters inside the pockets helps to act as reminders and can be adapted to each child as to their weaknesses - each organizer may look different because your building this for YOUR learner, to help them with their needs and to their abilities.

I was delighted to hear from everyone and enjoyed the support and feedback from the ladies on the IEW group and the emails I received ~ I am glad this helps some and if I do add anything further I will be happy to share ideas~
NOTE: here is a link for an organizer you can get already made from Staples - the wonderful ladies on IEW posted about this great find~ I could see how it would take most of the work off and also I picked up a few for our unit study organization and also for lapbooking one pocket for each day of the week! :)

Some have emailed me about the items pasted on the organizer, those templates have been added to the Learners At Home website  look near bottom of attachment list~  so you can print those out if you would like also~ 

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An idea for Writing Organization~ using IEW methods

On another group others have children struggling with writing and were considering this "system"~ as I looked at this product P.R.E.P Writing Folder System we use IEW , but I could kind of see how I could alter this kind of organization to be used with IEW.

Because I have special needs learners I have found a few unique ways to use IEW~ my thoughts are using this folder organization to help them keep their work organized since we use IEW for several subjects this can help keep things more tidy and visually at a glance will know where they are in their writing for each writing resource.

At first glance this reminded me quickly of a mini-office for writing~ with one step further "pockets to be used for their "work in progress" ~

My thoughts are to use the pockets as follows:
Pocket 1: Writing Resource Copy ( this pocket can be all the writing resources we will use for particular topics in history and science and literature) Copies are made for them to work off of for their Outlines~ KWO's/Story Sequence Charts etc..
Pocket 2: Outlines from writing resources ~ KWO's, Story Sequence Charts
Pocket 3: Write up- draft from outline ( we do not worry when writing our first draft about the stylistic techniques/ dress ups at this time, we just write from the outline )
Pocket 4: Re-write from draft with stylistic techniques ( using IEW check lists)
Pocket 5: Edit/Proofread together ( modeling on wipeboard)
Pocket 6: Final Draft typed/written ( yes, you will notice I added another pocket )
I thought to accompany in this folder organizer some of the posters that are used, banned word lists, and a checklist guide that we use as we move along in the units. These can either be stapled to the back of a pocket or taped... The more I think this through the more I see how this could really help the boys understand the "process" and after a while become quite automatic in their writing.

another note about our writing at home: One other thing I also do for the boys that I wanted to share ( our evaluator this year LOVED this idea and will be using it with her students) is when working on a draft and we are at the stage where the draft is complete and it is time to then add in the stylistic techniques "I" or "they" make columns ( right now we are at three- one for each paragraph) at the bottom of the page and we write down the checklist for each paragraph as to what is needed. Since I started doing this with them and having them write it and do it right on the draft, they are now remembering the checklist much more and everything they need to remember is right on that page ( helpful for children with working memory issues). This has really launched their writing efforts ~ .

Happy Writing and Organizing !

Friday, June 4, 2010

Peyton's School Days~

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Peyton's School Days!
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Digital scrapbook made with Smilebox

Chris' Adventures

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Chris'  Adventures
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This digital scrapbook personalized with Smilebox

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Literature Resource On-line~ Heritage History

This is a new site I just found out about and cannot believe the resources here for reading about particular topics in history. It is called Heritage History. It really has so much here, I cannot WAIT to show my guys when we get back to our formal studies.

From books online to read, images, timelines, specific wars etc.. there is a plethora of information here to show your learner. My boys just cannot seem to get enough about history and this they will absolutely love~ Hope some find this resource as helpful as I have found it.

Happy History !~

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