Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Great Day, and Something Funny to Share-

We had a great day today~ I have to say this week has been packed with doctor appointments and meetings for some reason it seems we have had something each day! Before, when we first started homeschooling those days would seem to drain us and we had a hard time coming home and getting back into the groove with our studies. So on those days we sometimes would just take the day off, since I didn't think we would get much accomplished.

It doesn't seem to be like that any longer. I have found that in my keeping with the momentum at home we still get just as much accomplished for the most part ( give or take one subject or two depending).
We had many appointments in the mornings this week so we would not get home till around lunch time or after but I saw that if I pulled things together and let them head outside after lunch or so to blow off some steam, I was able to get them back, to get going on some studies. With very few moans~ maybe a few from my teen but don't all teens moan now and then? LOL  Our youngest dashed right into action ~

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spelling Work: What Spelling "looks like" in our Home-

photo credit

We had been working on spelling this morning. I find that this is a topic many children can really struggle with.  I also found in all my reading and research about spelling programs that there can be several reasons why a child might have problems with spelling.

I thought I might share some things we do for our spelling ~ we have overcome some pretty big hurdles in this area
( having both boys diagnosed as dyslexic probably adds to things a bit but nevertheless we have found ways to succeed in this area. ( strategies, tips, and ideas for teaching and learning spelling can also be found  here )

I use many different ways to help my guys practice their spelling. Both boys are very different and I am resolved to teaching them both very differently so I thought I might just share a bit of that today~

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Consolidating Your Search Efforts~

I am picky (most of the time ) when thinking about what I want to add as a short cut to my desktop.  I found, yet another addition to my collection to add and wanted to share it with my readers~ this is a GREAT resource.
It is called Mashpedia.  I tried it out a bit and found that it saved so much time when trying to search out information ~ it collaborates real-time digital  information so that when searching for a particular topic pulls information from many resources like You Tube, Twitter, wiki pages, magazines, newspapers, blogs and even book recommendations,  pertaining to that particular topic.
Be sure and check it out~ you just might find you also want to add this great "multi-source encyclopedia" to your desktop as well!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A New Homeschool Bloggers Group~ Blogger Haven!

My friend Rebecca Miller has just opened up a new email yahoo group for homeschool bloggers~ ! What fun!
You can check out her new group and read more about it over at the  Homeschoolers Blogger Haven Home page.
It is a great resource if you have been searching for "like-minded" homeschool blogs. She has set up a links section that sorts the blogs in many ways so it makes it easy to find something your looking for. Be sure and check it out~ I have been having so much fun reading new blogs, its hard to pull myself away! :)

Reading through History~

As I had mentioned before we have been on a journey of relieving ourselves from textbooks and boxed curriculum. I am certainly finding that reading through our history can be quite successful and the boys seem to be happily learning and retaining more information than they ever would have retained if reading from a textbook or following a program.   I wanted to share another two book series we just started on~

Since we are working not on the American Revolution ~ 
I found this one on my bookshelf: The Secret Soldier by Ann McGovern : The Story of Deborah Sampson.

I looked further and there is a whole series of these Scholastic Biography books for children. You can find more titles on Amazon and also other used book providers.

Here is a biography book report graphic organizer I found that may be helpful when trying to start your first biography report.

We also started reading for our Literature reading "Meet George Washington" by Joan Heilbroner from Landmark Books. Another great series that I have added to my history page here at Learners at Home.

My youngest sat down and read four chapters to me and is enjoying it very much. 
Here is a link to a website that lists more the books in the series. Looking a bit closer at this website by Random House there is also teacher guides or activities that can be used for the books.
I also found this other site which lists books for Landmark as well. 

I plan on getting a bunch more of these as we go along and just thought I would share with all of you ~

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Science Series: Great Migrations on National Geographic Channel

Here is something we are planning on watching this Fall, (November) from the National Geographic Channel, Great Migrations.

"This fall, National Geographic Channel will premiere a one-of-a-kind special event entitled Great Migrations. The series will chronicle the amazing journeys taken by multitudes of species each year and provide fresh insights into the science of migration. Beautiful, awe-inspiring, and often times heartbreaking, Great Migrations will pique curiosity and foster learning." - National Geographic Channel

Educator Resources can be found here.

This programming is in collaboration with The Jason Project.  - A virtual assembly October 27th where you can submit your questions ~ between Sept 10th to October 14th~

This looks like a very interesting series ~ especially for those animal loving learners, like mine. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A great series from SCM~ and a site for Charlotte Mason users-

As our days become much more surrounded by using more of Charlotte Mason's methods for teaching, I wanted to quickly share a great Language Arts series of articles by Simply Charlotte Mason.  Here are the articles so far~

Article 1, What Exactly is Language Arts?
Article 2, Charlotte Mason's Language Arts Program
Article 3, Literature, Vocabulary & Comprehension

I thought these might be "good reading" for some who may be trying to wrap their heads around some of the ways we do things.  I thought especially the third article really explained it well since we have never used any kind of vocabulary workbooks or programs for reading comprehension.

Another helpful place to learn more about CM methods that are more eclectic and learn how to adapt them to your own style and children is over at Secular Charlotte Mason.  Secular Charlotte Mason brings together an "all inclusive", eclectic spin to CM methods and is a diverse, helpful resource.  They are also on Facebook as well if you care to do a search for them there also.  Be sure and check them out its a wonderful group of ladies.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More help for planning & working with EverNote~

I admit I had gotten a bit sidetracked this afternoon after our studies. I had learned about this new tool from over at an email loop I am on for science.
You might recall I had been talking about Microsoft OneNote and how wonderful it is and for us it is just a perfect fit for my teen to use for all of his school work. We use it for all his writing, including written narrations~ we add graphs, cite web pages etc.. it is wonderful.

On two of my home computers we are not able to use OneNote since we do not have the software. I really would have like to be able to have OneNote on my other two computers to collaborate their lessons and allow my teen to not have to work only on his laptop but we could not afford at this time to purchase yet more software.
I just recently heard about EverNote, the poster mentioned that this can be used for MAC users as well as Windows so I was very interested. I took this afternoon to play around and check it out.

I ended up downloading it. There is a free version~ and tried adding a few things on here for my much younger learner to see if it might work for him since he uses the desktop we have in our den very often.

I love this! It is quite simple to use it doesn't have as many bells and whistles as OneNote has but you are able to do primarily the same things. You can create Notebooks (without tabs however) for things; cut and paste links, graphics, videos ~ and even use a notebook page to draw freehand and make designs for artwork. It can be downloaded and used on all computers since you create a user name and password to sign in.
I can certainly see my younger son using this and as he become more accustomed he can then begin using OneNote OR just stay right with EverNote and I may look at getting the Premium if he does really like it.

I hope you have a chance to check it out~

A teens day~ Working through our Studies

I thought about sharing how our days have been looking lately with our new schedule and new lessons so far this year. It has been going increasingly well and so  I thought I might share what is working,  in order to encourage and give others ideas on how they might be able to tweak and explore new ways of doing things for their teen/middle school aged learner.

We start our mornings at whatever time he wakes up. I don't set alarms or have a real rigid schedule because I think at this age my son (now 14) needs as much sleep as he can get. I have seen some growth spurts over this summer and now another coming again for this Fall. ( I can tell because when he eats a TON and is not sleeping well this usually indicates that his body is preparing for a growth spurt) Often everyone thinks that when children are eating a ton they are growing it is just the opposite. When they eat very little ( like a bird or much less than normal) and are very tired and sleep much more they are actually doing their growing at this time.

Anyway getting off track here~ we don't have an exact time with when we start school. I tried to follow a schedule thinking an external structure would help but it didn't seem to matter with my son. (I do realize this helps with other children, it just did not with mine).

Over breakfast we have our morning "chat" or "morning meeting"~ this is where we take out his checklist of things and just read over what is up for today~ it helps bring things together and answer any questions he may have on something.

I let him start off his day with whichever subject he wishes to start of with actually. I feel at this point at his age and development he needs to find his own way to how he learns best. We have talked at certain points about focus and attention and how starting off and doing the harder things for him first might be best.  At this point he really doesn't look at things as harder or not, he explains that some he would want to do first since they might be the most "boring" so he sometimes will choose to do those first. Regardless I think this kind of problem solving is helpful in more than just learning your studies.

Today he started off with his Literature reading. This is really the first year I am requiring him to read good, classic literature where before I would read it aloud to him now he is reading this on his own. He is right now reading The Swiss Family Robinson and through that he is doing dictation exercises from passages from the book and also learning grammar and word usage through the dictation exercises.  ( explanation of how I do dictation exercises can be found here

I collaborate Spelling Work into these Dictation exercises along with some work with word meaning ~ I found this to be much more effective since all his spelling/vocabulary programs we had tried he would get 100 on and it was just busywork and seemingly a waste of time.
I found he needed a more individualized program whereby he needed practice in writing words "he" needed to work on, not from a list that someone else made up for him to study. This just makes much more sense and he is enjoying his spelling much more.

I also work off of the Learning Language Arts through Literature Teachers Manual with him I use it as my "guide" to incorporate specific LA skills I may not have thought about for example today we worked on changing singular nouns to plural nouns and what the rule is for doing so when a word has an "fe" or "f" in it.

We worked a great deal this morning with a re-introducing semi-colons and commas. These were introduced again since our dictation passage had these both in the passage. Tomorrow I plan to work again with looking back at the ideas behind semi-colon and commas and plan to use these resources to help me~


I have learned a few tricks along the way with my teen. I used to ask him to read a number of pages, for example I would write down "read two chapters or one chapter of ...." I found that this was fine, but noticed it wasn't exactly challenging my twice exceptional kiddo :) I changed this and now I require a time period for reading instead I now write down for example "read 30 minutes from Swiss Family Robinson".( We are starting off at 30 minutes and I will be adding on time as we go along very slowly. So that eventually he is reading a solid 60 - 90 minutes. )
After he finished his reading he then decided to jump onto his Grammar Revolution. ( this is the new grammar program I am using) He absolutely loves it and continues to tell me as he is working through it.

[I should mention briefly before going further that "before" he begins his new lesson with GR, we go over again what he learned yesterday and how we do this, is he pulls out his OneNote Grammar Section and explains back to me what the lesson was about, what he learned and any questions he might have. Then he moves onto the new lesson.] 
At this point is working on part of speech per day~ he was on Adjectives today ( as he mentioned EASY) where yesterday he worked on Verbs ( this introduced not just "verbs" but also included "kinds of verbs" - linking and helping and the difference between them) He filled in his workbook page from the printed out E Book and then (to reinforce) then went back to his OneNote, dated the entry and explained what information he had learned about Verbs and gave examples.

This may seem quite redundant to some, but I have found with my son that when learning information he processes the new skill or information better when he can go back and jot down what he learned about it. ( I suppose many would call this written narration, either way this works for us) This kind of exercise helps to internalize the information.  He has been very successful so far in really now understanding the concepts in the parts of speech through this kind of instruction.

Another comment I would like to make is that this program doesn't cover just the basics. It is more comprehensive and I remember one of my readers "Cindy" asked if I was concerned about him getting overwhelmed. I think this is an excellent question and I would like to address that more formally here for a moment because grammar ( because it is so abstract ) can be quite overwhelming. I had seen this with my son in other programs we had tried and that had failed us.

This program seems to make much more logical sense to my son. He is as I said, "twice exceptional" and is very right brained in his learning so he tends to need to be able to see the "whole picture" ~ many grammar programs will only work on "parts" of a particular part of speech. (For example with verbs, many will show that verbs show action ~ my son would always question this since he would see other words in a sentence ie., like the linking or helping verbs to be a part of that "verb family". He would get very confused and frustrated. By seeing the "whole picture " when it comes to something like this really is very beneficial to him.
It doesn't mean we may have to go over it again and review certain things but for him this answers many "unanswered" questions.  (I hope this made sense)

With Grammar out of the way he then started his Math which is now working through Teaching Textbooks. This usually takes him about on average 20 minutes or so.

A short break to check his emails and finish straightening his room, check the news and then Mum calls him back for more studies :)

Typing practice and then possibly lunch~

Weekly/Daily Block Schedule Checklist ( on right you can see where I add notes for assignments that might change)
After lunch, since we work on a block schedule (shown here "Weekly Schedule/CM) today was History~ so he worked further in his Oak Meadow program learning about Ancient Persia. ( I use this program probably very different than most people I am sure) He reads a section of a lesson and then in his OneNote does his written narration on (again) what he learned.
I also supplement quite a bit on this ~ since OM lessons are short overviews of topics but that is quite fine we use them as a jumping off point and move forward from there with videos ( I have these listed according to lesson for him to use) and good living books among other projects and crafts to do if I find something really neat to do. OM usually has wonderful craft things to do for example we are going to be doing marbling I think very soon so he will love that.

In an effort to collaborate his learning a bit more for a more deeper meaning I also incorporate Art and/or Music Study into his History. The other day he researched Ancient Persian Art and had learned about the different kinds of art they had done and had taken graphic images and added them to his OneNote narrations. ( all the time learning even more skills at the same time, - ie., computer/technology at the same time)

I like the block schedule since it helps to condense things quite a bit. The only thing I am considering doing is possibly later on adding a science study to it like I do with the art/music because again, I can see this brings more deeper understanding on a topic.

I am so pleased to see how things have been going so far this year with him. ~ I look forward to sharing more as time goes on.. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Freebie~ "Organizing Your Homeschool"

I have often spoke about organization and how I keep things tidy in our home learning room~ and I saw this in my email box this morning and thought a few readers might enjoy picking up this freebie ~ it is from CurrClick and you can download it for free as long as you have an account. You can download the E-Book here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to Studies~ our first day

My view of the rain on our porch with morning coffee.

Today we started officially back with our studies for both boys. Even though the younger child had re-started his schooling back in July, today was the first day back for my teen, who just turned 14 this past month.

We awoke to our first day of studies with it raining outside. It was nice though since we really needed the rain and a welcome site for mum and her lawn~ :) We eased into our morning with the morning news and chatting over some French Toast and how our day was going to look like~  ( I explained on our "off months" our mornings will be similar but will be more of a "morning meeting" to see what my learners plans are for the morning/day and how he planned on spending his time and recording his day)

We began with an overview of how and what his days and weeks might look like over the next four weeks, and also took a laid back approach being the first day and having a few new things I am introducing this year;

*our new schedule of one month on and one month delight directed
*our new/revised pocket folder system that works in correlation with our pocket assignment system
*a couple of new programs
*a few new methods for working our subjects ( consistent efforts with written narration for most subjects,   OneNote use for all subjects) 

Today I introduced Grammar Revolution and it went very well. I purchased the Basic Grammar Course along with the Sentence Diagramming E-book also and today we did a quick lesson video on the 8 parts of speech. Short and sweet, ( which is how I am attempting to keep all his subjects right at this point) afterwards, we went over how to add an entry into his OneNote and write about what he learned. {it was funny because as I was explaining the "why" of writing in his OneNote~ he stopped me and explained that he understood and that it was to help him reinforce what he had just learned}.  He liked the video lesson thus far and we skipped ahead just a smidge and I think it is going to be a GREAT program for him to learn and fully understand all the parts of speech and how they are used in sentences.  ( this has always been a weak area for him so what I decided to do was to use his strength ~ visual/auditorial to help him learn these new concepts) For visual and auditory learners, a great program to check out. I never thought we would be excited or even interested in doing Grammar! Thanks to Maria, my dear friend for bringing up this program to us.

Fun With The Brain ~ new site

Fun 4 the Brains is a site recently featured in the Freely Educate Newsletter. I spent a bit of time here since I found a few things that I really liked.
This appears to be a new site that is still being built out but I loved some of the games for multiplication because a few were really new to us and I think they will be fun to try out with our youngest, who is still practicing his math facts for multiplication.

I also really liked the Panda Mayhem game for the parts of speech. It was a great way to reinforce these kinds of concepts and so I wanted to share this with my readers just in case you were looking for some different kind of things to use to reinforce skills already learned. Be sure and check it out if you have time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Adding some "Spice" to our History at Home~

We have had a busy morning. First spelling, then phonics and our language program~ while my youngest was working on his spelling and phonics ( trying to increase independent learning here just a tad bit more, grin) I ended up pulling out our Time Travelers CD's on the American Revolution. WOW, this is going to be a great unit to study.
American Revolution Unit study Link

My son heard our printing running and running ( lots of printing with these but great stuff) and decided to come on over and check things out. We had SO MUCH FUN, deciding on which papers we wanted to print out on what.. there is a newspaper you create in this one so my son wanted to print it out on our 81/2 by 11 newsprint I had picked up and we did and he loved it.. then we picked and chose other things for different projects making the pages look old etc.. he was also excited to get started on this unit.
I had never realized by getting him involved in the preparation would get him all ramped up for learning a topic. IT certainly did ~ he cannot wait. I think being a part of the whole process really helps them. I plan to do this much more and even though I usually ask him certain questions about programs etc.. I never realized getting them actually involved in the planning and creating process really works wonders!

I added this unit study program to my new history page because we like the program so much. It goes wonderfully with any American History program your working on as well. We still are working our Oak Meadow a bit ( btw, update we will be making our pinch pot Monday~ lol from Lesson 9 ) and following along with both really compliments eachother. I feel I should mention however, that is CAN be a stand alone program, with instructions, and book recommendations for further reading etc, its certainly an all in one package.
I also think one of the things that I find unique about this program is it can fit so many different age levels even the NB pages have been designed for the younger learner right up to the teen learner who is more proficient in reading and writing.  I just love it.

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