Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Far Bigger Picture Than Just Copywork- Reflections on Your Home Teaching

I had seen this blog post from The Happy Housewife entitled " Ditch Copy Work " -This is a different perspective on copywork. We find copywork to not be agonizing or a punishment but rather a really comprehensive tool that can be used every now and then for learning several different kinds of skills. ( writing practice, grammar, usage, correct spelling etc. ) I could probably go on and on about the benefits of copywork but I will stop there~

 Some learners really don't care for copywork and I can certainly understand that - it depends on the child's learning strengths and style,  but I suppose I just have a hard time with others who state how much they dislike something and feel about it when in realty ( or at least my reality) it should be about the children and what their needs and likes are~

I  have observed some homeschool parents who will often share about how they might hate a certain program or were not  comfortable with it and will throw it aside. When I had asked how their child was doing with it they often would reply that they "seemed" fine but it was just not what they were comfortable with or liked.

While I do understand that we as home educators have to be comfortable with the material that shares our family values and beliefs, I can't seem to wrap my mind around home educators who make the teaching about them and not their own children.  The reality is that it isn't about what our likes are~ it is supposed to be about what our learners needs and likes are right?

I suppose I felt compelled to share this reflection to remind myself and my readers to try my ( our ) best to keep the learning and teaching about the children and not about myself  ( ourselves).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Changes here at LAH and a new Page added ~

Along with some changes to our LAH learning blog, I am adding a new section called "LAH Categories " I think these categories will make finding things for my readers much more easier~

I will be adding a new page to our my LAH blog entitled " Apps for Learning" - here is where I will list a bunch of applications and online tools to use and where to find them to help with home learning~ stay tuned and I hope you find the categories more helpful~


To Study or Not Around the Holidays~

Over on one the my email groups I belong to,
 ( Special Needs Homeschool)  a question came up about whether or not others are doing homeschooling through December or the Holiday Season.

After replying and thinking about it some more I wanted to expand a bit on it here since this is a place I can freely share my own thoughts and reflections on such things~

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flash Cards for Geometric Shapes

In between our Christmas preparations we have been  taking this month to review some skills already learned  - I thought about it and December is SUCH a busy month with everything going on that it might be best to just reinforce things we already have learned.

One of those concepts we reviewed  this morning was Geometric Shapes and I noticed our youngest was really having trouble remembering certain shapes so I went searching for some flash cards we could use so that I could more easily reinforce them.

I found this site that allowed me to freely print many of the geometric shapes he was having a problem with.

I also decided to find some activities and maybe an online game for him to use as well just to change things up a bit~ here is some resources I found and thought I would share:

Kids Math Games
Polygon Matching Game from Math Playground
Interactive Quadrilaterals 
Shapes Identification Quiz- I really liked this one and know my youngest will like the "no frills" approach to this game.
Looking at Polygons
Cricketweb has a few games to use for practicing about shapes.
Polygon playground



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The History of the Christmas Tree

It's Christmas at our home. All over the place there is lighted trees, decorations, baskets of cinnamon pine cones, candy dishes filled and ready for the picking.... yup, Tis the Season.

During the holidays ( the month of December) we usually take it off but this year due to a really crazy schedule we have not been as structured with our studies so I wanted to continue on with a "lighter set" of studies through this month and then ramp to a more structured schedule in January.

We are right now on average spending only about 2 to 2 1/2 hours on our studies because the rest of the day is filled with baking and other things~

I am planning on having the boys read some classical Christmas Stories this month and have a wonderful book of short stories from Dickens and will be digging out a couple others. I plan on doing these as a read aloud- but for a bit of a different spin I thought we would look into and learn more about the tradition of the Christmas Tree.

I subscribe to a great blog for gifted children called Byrdseed Gifted and found this great article that gave me the idea to do this.  I think it will be a neat change up and will fit into our history learning nicely at this time of year.




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Processing and Understanding their Learning: Tools and Strategies to Help

As my youngest moves further into more in-depth learning I am finding his processing of the information becoming increasingly more difficult.  He has been struggling with the processing of the information especially if there is many steps or levels of information on that particular topic.

I am not surprised with this, because of his learning disabilities this can be expected, however, I am not willing to allow his struggles to be a reason for not learning things and not understanding them.

There are strategies for these kinds of struggles and I thought I might share a few of them here;

Online Graphic Organizers/Mind Maps:

Free Technology for Teachers had a post on their blog that offered Nine Tools for Collaboratively Creating Mind Maps.  There are many here to look through and try out on your own before introducing them to your learner.   I found a couple here that will really help us.  I searched out a few topics and found some great information on how I might use these.  For example, we are right now studying the Human Body and that can contain LOTS of layers of information and topics.  These online Mind Maps or Visual Organizers can really help my guy sort out his thoughts and reinforce new concepts and skills he is learning.

Printable Graphic Organizers:

Grades 4-8 Graphic Organizers- I really loved this site.  This is a wonderful resource in helping to understand some tricky concepts in Mathematics. Just clicking on a couple will help you to see how helpful these might be to the visual learner.  

Education Place has a listing of Graphic Organizers to print out for all areas of learning.

EducationOasis has some printable concept and also vocabulary graphic organizers. 

Freeology is another great site that offers over 100 printable graphic organizers to use in different areas of learning.

 Busy Teachers Cafe ( a K-6 site)  has this helpful Graphic Organizer for helping younger learners understand new vocabulary.

Graphic Organizers - this site has a bunch of printable organizers to use.


Other ideas/tools to help: 


KWL Charts- ( see example here)  can be really helpful to be used for many different subjects and can really help reinforce lessons and skills learned from beginning and to the end of a topic.
Here is a KWLH which takes it one step further. 

Mnemonics- ( definition on Wikipedia) Sometimes this kind of tool can really be helpful for a learner to understand bits of information that might be perhaps sequential. My son has found success using this kind of strategy.    We tend to make up our own which I believe is part of the reason why they can be so effective since it is based on things that my son can relate to. But if we get stuck here are a few things:
Fun with Words and Math Mnemonics.
Education World has more math Mnemonics.
Index of Mnemonics

Role Playing- ( adding movement to learning) I remember a while back our youngest had been learning about Photosynthesis and we noticed he just wasn't getting it.  We used an organizer, we colored it and talked about it more and more but he still wasn't getting a real understanding of it. So, I decided to add movement. I decided to get Daddy and big brothers involved and my youngest was the plant and all of us were the other elements that involve the process of photosynthesis. I explained it and we all acted it out and he finally got it! There was lots of laughing and carrying on, which I almost think he sort of loved too! Heck it was fun! lol

Another example I can give is my little guy a few years ago had trouble with skip counting. He just couldn't get his 2's down or any other really so I decided again, to add some movement. We went out side armed with some chalk and I made a ladder and I added the 2's in each of the boxes. I had him jump and yell out on each one the skip counting for the 2's. ~ we did this for only five minutes or so then I had him draw the 2's on our driveway, saying them as he went... the next day or two I had him tell me back and skip count the 2's. He got the first two or three then I saw him get up and march or hop and he was able to remember the 2's! I knew I was onto something at this point. :] 


Consistency and Repetition in learning just about anything can be a very power strategy and tool that we can use in our teaching at home. Each day, as we begin our studies, we can go over things we did yesterday in a particular topic. We can do this in ALL subjects not just Math or Grammar.  If you get stuck on what you did, then your daily home school journal will help remind you what they did and any trouble spots in say Spelling or a particular concept in Science. 


I hope some of these ideas help your learners if they are struggling in a particular area of understanding.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time Tracking for Highschool Learners

We have been working through Khan Academy with great success this year. One of the  new things we are trying to do this year is keeping track of our teen's time that he works on each subject for his credit hours.

Here is a tool I decided on using for helping him stay on task for a set amount of time. It really helps with time management since at times he can go way above the actual time we had allotted or way below the time if something is boring or he isn't as interested in.

As teens get more independent its not as necessary for us to sit over them while they work. So this really helps keep him better on track with his time. 

TimerOnlineClock is a great free tool to try out for this!

Note: For tracking his credit hours we use a Daily Log Books that is printed by NARS. I have posted about this previously ( see previous post) scroll down to Record Keeping for a link example to our Daily Log.

This Daily Log has been working fairly well. He just has to remind himself to write down his activities and time ! But when he does I can see it will be a really helpful tool for me at the end of the year.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Literature Learning~

We are starting the workshop seminar by Adam Andrews~ Teaching The Classics.   I was actually going to hold off starting this till next month because we started a few other new things and I wanted to get those going first.
Our youngest started the book Cricket in Time Square a week or two ago and I had planned to use with this book a Study Guide. After starting it yesterday with him, we ditched it right away~ it was some of the "fluff" I had been mentioning in prior posts.

We didn't like it at all and for us, looking up a chapter in the book and copying words to fill in the blanks, for us, really isn't literature study. Its copywork!  I wasn't happy, neither was my son. It ended up in the trash and we dove into Adam's seminar and my son is really finding it interesting.

We are going to be using this to analyze the book he is reading and if he would like, we can do a lapbook on it as well from Homeschool Share.

Everyone is happy again. At this point we are working all our Language Arts skills through an IEW approach. I can't tell you how much more effective and comprehensive deciding to do this has changed our learning and thinking.

The programs have helped me get away from the "fluff" and "busy work" where your jumping from one program or workbook to the next.

I am condensing their LA learning into one and will share examples of how I am doing this as I take notes on what we do and move forward.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Binders RULE!

Ok, I have to admit it as bulky as they can be~ I have to acknowledge that I am a self described Binder Queen.

This was my first year trying out Homeschool Planners. I had all the pages printed and tabs placed in between the sections, it was great. I then had them spiral bound like everyone else does.

After using these for several weeks I became really frustrated. I needed to add some pages that were necessary, I changed the format of their lesson outlines so all the pages I created were no longer as useful.

I found that when I bound these in this fashion it became too rigid for me.  If I sound like "you" then read on~

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Math Facts - Using Number Bonds

[before I begin talking about what I have learned about using Number Bonds for learning and mastering math facts I wanted to share a bit of some back ground on how I decided on using these a bit more in our mastery of the facts for our youngest]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Homeschooling for Free or Almost Free

Here are a couple of new resources I have recently learned about and wanted to share with my readers;

Budget Homeschool is a site where you can find lots of resources for free to use for your teaching at home.

School 4 Free is yet another site where there are lots of free things to print and use for your home teaching.
Along with this page is an extension of her resources (smaller downloadable files) from the same author called
Aunt B's. 

I will be adding this new the money saving tips page as well for future referencing. Always nice to save a penny here and there with free resources~

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grammar Chat~

One subject/skill that is really not amusing or fun to my teen is Grammar. I am sure many can sympathize with me when I say, my teen basically can't stand doing it.

I have found a few things to remedy his distaste for Grammar. I thought I would share these resources with my readers~

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October is the Month of the Holy Rosary~

Here is some things we are going to be using to celebrate the Month of the Holy Rosary~
The Resource Site has some information and printables.
* Introducing parts of the Rosary
* Printable for reciting the Rosary.
*History of the Rosary
* The Scapular, the Rosary and a Survival Story
* Inspirational Stories of the Rosary ~ and introducing Louis Pasteur so many times people use science for introducing this person I am going to use a different story. ~
* a blog~ The Rosary Trail



Human Body Unit- some resources to share

We started our Human Body Unit this week.  Here is a list of resources I am using for this unit with my 12yo.

We are using as our spine a unit study from Intellego Studies: Human Body Vol I ( we will be working Volume II and Volume III but later on breaking in between for some Chemistry and Physics units for a balance) I absolutely LOVE these unit studies.

Online Flash Cards for Learning~ a new site

I found yet another goody a friend shared ~ its called Flashcard Machine. I think I love this particular site because of how easy it is to use and find things. I found a bunch of things here we can use~ and I can build my own!

This is an idea a college student had as he made his own flash cards and then thought of a way to make one big set and then share with his classmates for tests and referencing.  Major innovation and collaboration!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Literature Lesson Index

I am having one of those days when you end up finding all kinds of goodies~ ever have one of those days? I just found out about this Literature Lesson Index and found some wonderful resources I can use for some books we are using right now.
Its called Lesson Index, just click on the literary title and find all kinds of resources to either purchase or get free on that particular literature selection~ If you have time be sure and try and check this out!

Learning about the US Presidents~

I came across this free download for learning about our US Presidents and thought I might share~ It is from Home of Heroes website. This could be a great resource for teaching about our US Presidents.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Lesson Outline Pages

We made some minor changes to our Block Scheduling bringing it down to a four day schedule while we continue to work all our subjects but more in a Unit Study fashion. It really seemed quite natural to do this because on the days when we would have our block days we wished we had been doing this all week~ We finally caught on and the boys had an idea. Turn thing around and let their favorite studies be their core, while integrating some of the other subjects!

We tried it out this week ~ I just wanted to see who it would go and it fit perfectly leaving Fridays for volunteer time, Home School Group gatherings, errands and chores etc.

If you are interested, I saved these outlines at these links: Science Core Outline and History Core Outline ( I call them outlines because I leave them very flexible to pull or push to the next day ~ always writing in pencil and this "outline style" has worked splendidly for us this year for the boys. ) Your also going to notice there are different Core Outlines, that's because I have two very different learners and I am following their real interests to make things much richer and rewarding. As we work further into these areas of their interests teaching, facilitating and learning has been so much richer and more successful.

I am now slowly transitioning  their Language Arts skills to be directly integrated with their Core Subjects. It has worked wonderfully so far. It is much easier than I thought it would be~ My journals I use help me do this because I can follow what we do in the program on say Monday in IEW's Fix It and follow through the rest of the week reinforcing the topics/skills/lessons. We are finding more retention in certain areas too just because we are giving more "meaning for teaching" and that is always a good thing.

I have found by using more of a lesson plan method just means that things get all bogged down and we feel frustrated because the "plan" may not have worked out as well as we should. Our outline leaves room for bunny trails on the scheduled topics and makes learning much more fun and comprehensive!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Grammar Practice~ Subjects and Predicates

Today we worked on learning about complete sentences and also complete subjects and predicates.  We need a bit more practice in this area so I went looking for a few more resources for some fun practice in this area.

Here are some games I found for practice~

Quiz Time ~ find the complete subject and predicates with multiple choice
Rags to Riches ~ a game that you play to find simple subjects and simple predicates.
Gamequarium~ practice with sentences
Sink or Swim

Here is a wiki page on subjects and predicates~ Kmott

And some worksheets to add to notebooking pages etc~
Super Teacher worksheets
English for Everyone
Worksheet Works

I think many of these things will really be fun for practicing subjects and predicates~ Happy Grammar!

"Type it In" Reading Log~

Here is a new Reading Log I created this morning for my youngest son who has been busily practicing his typing.
This is a unique Reading Log because you are able to type in the title and author. I thought it would be good for his typing practice and he will be keeping this on his desktop so he can continually add to this.

I also wanted to alter our old one to something a bit older for him as well he seemed happy with this one. ~ 

If you would like to download this Reading Log you can find it here.

Happy Reading !

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Science Learning and new Unit Studies program

We started our new year trying out a new science program for my youngest.  It didn't go over as well as I had hoped. ( thank goodness for the flexibility we have while we teach at home)  Even though we will still use this here and there, I decided to look and try something different for our science.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Our History Day~ and Homeschooling for Highschool the CM Way

We started today working our new history program, Winter Promise.  I had shown the boys this program and we were all very excited to start in on it and today was the day.

It went so well today. I absolutely love the program. It has so much in it that you really can't possibly do all the study guide gives you. But I love the fact that much of the background and research work is done for me. We are really going to enjoy our history this year, and I am really glad I made the choice to try Winter Promise.

photo credit 
I have both boys working the same program~ American Cultures ( 1860-2001) it is scheduled for grades 5-8, however, I am altering this so that my teen can enjoy these wonderful reads and activities. His work will be a bit more involved and more will be expected.  It has worked wonderfully so far.

Our youngest decided to go and create two separate lapbooks; one for the Union States and one for the Confederate States. At first I wasn't sure it would work but as he explained what he wanted I decided it actually would be great. His plan in creating two lapbooks is to show the similarities and differences more significantly between the two sides while our nation was divided.  I thought this was a really interesting approach. And I was also surprised since he told me "NO MORE LAPBOOKS".  As I asked about this he cleared things up with explaining "but this is different, making a lapbook like this is cool". ~

I like how he now takes the reigns with things and my teen was looking up propaganda ( after having read about Lincoln's secret train ride to the White House) ~ he decided he wants to look and create posters of the different forms of propaganda used during the Civil War and other times in history. I loved it!   We have a tendency to really spin off from what we are doing but I think its part of the fun and freedom we have while teaching at home and teaching our own.

It really brings me back and grounds me more when I have days like today~ sitting and reading aloud to them from several living books and listening to the oral ( younger child) and written ( teen) narrations. I really feel as though Charlotte Mason and Ruth Beechick really had it right all along. We work so well this way.

I am planning on re-visiting my CM and RB books as a refresher this helps me to bring more whole learning and less busy work into our learning at home ( at least it does for me).  I need reminders often since we can easily get pulled away into the more traditional, public school model for learning.

Often when you surf the internet you find lots and lots of questions on homeschooling through highschool and how to do while still practicing a CM approach, that has worked so well previously. I haven't found too many answers to these questions but hope to explore this deeper and be able to answer some of my own questions I have over this next year.

For starters, here is a series " Basic Mainstays, Homeschool Through Highschool"  that Simply Charlotte Mason had written a bit back. I really find it helpful and thought I would share this with my own readers here.   There are five parts to the series you can easily find the others below the first article.

If you would like to share any thoughts or comments on this topic/article ~please feel free to post, I look  forward to any feedback anyone would like to post and share. It think this could be a wonderful conversation here at Learners At Home.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Free- Electoral College Voting Map

Sign up to receive a FREE 2012 Electoral College Map. I just did this afternoon~ just in time for the 2010 elections. I found out about this from a favorite place I subscribe to: Freely Educate~ Enjoy!

Starting French - Printables and Resources


We are starting French this year.  Our first year working on a foreign language.  I found some great links that have been working really well for us so I thought I might share.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spelling helpers~ Rules and a Resource to Share

Many times I hear how people find that spelling rules don't always help their early speller. I would have to agree to some extent. I have found that when introducing spelling to a younger learner it can be hard at times,( especially for special needs children). My experience this far has been that when introducing spelling (encoding) AND rules at the same time it can be too much, too soon for many learners.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our Assignment Blogs~

I have had a few people asking me lately about our Assignment Blogs I have created for both my boys. I thought it might be helpful to explain things a bit better here for better understanding.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Starting our New Year~ Our Planners

The covers to our planners
I had finished our Lesson Planners a couple weeks ago. I am just now getting around to sharing them. We have had a busy couple of weeks with lots going on at our home. My planners I have created are from various web resources I found and some that others have shared with me.

I will try and explain how I am going to be using these and things I changed in order to suit our own needs and why.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Grammar Land" by M.L. Nesbitt

 Sometimes finding a different way to approach Grammar can be really helpful. For many kiddos Grammar really isn't a very easy or "fun" thing to learn but it is necessary for good writing so I wanted to share this~

A friend of mine reminded me of this narrative for learning Grammar.  Its called Grammar Land, by M. L Nesbitt ~ ( you can download it freely on Google Books) I thought I would share some more information she shared with me about it~ here is worksheets that have been created by Jessica Cain that go along directly with the book~ Worksheets for Grammarland  this particular worksheet is #1 but if you look on the lower right hand side under "more from this user" you will find the others that go along with the book. A great find!
* thank you Susan M* ~ 

Here is a few more things I found to go along with it~ GrammarLand People
                                               You guessed right~ the audio to go along with it~ Grammar Land Audio


*Note: you can also purchase this book on Yesterdays Classics or Amazon.
Update: here is yet another freebie from my friend Susan M~ it is a Kindle edition book entitled: "Grammatically Correct" by Anne Stilman. If you have the FREE application for the Kindle app for your PC you can get this free like I did~  thanks again Susan~ : )

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Odds and Ends~

I have been busy going over what we are going to be working on for our new year. Adding a few more finishing touches and trying to organize and adjust things accordingly. Adding some things, taking out others that I feel may not work well.
                                                     *************************************
Most recently I had been having a conversation with my youngest son about a few things. He had been talking to his Dad about something in History he learned this past year. I listened to him and as I did it helped me realize a few things~ 

I always knew what his learning strengths were, I had learned about those a while ago and have always tried to work through this pathway for him. However, in really listening to him I picked up on how I really need to do more for him in this pathway~ ( he is heavily auditory and once he hears something read to him and can either make a poster or see it also it is then cemented in for the most part) I realized I want to incorporate much, much more audio books and visuals for him with all his studies not just history and science but all~ 

As I heard him re-tell a story I read to him in history I was able to pick up on the details he remembered and why~ this was a great thing for me and so a bit of tweaking is in store for my younger son :)  
                                                   *******************************************
I have been working on our planning for this year; record keeping, tracking of grades ( new for us for highschool) lesson plan ideas and outlines etc... its been really busy. I feel like have things now starting to settle and it feels like we are just about ready to begin.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Declutterinng our Homeschool ~ Jumbled Notes and Ideas

I am hoping to be working this week on going through more of our books and things we have in our homeschool room. We have LOTS, like I am sure many of you have. I am finding though, as the boys get older that I no longer need the things I used to need. We have found other things we use more and so things like mini-offices or the chalk boards we used for handwriting etc.. really are no longer needed.
Time to de-clutter our homeschool.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Math Resource for Our Visual Learners

My boys (including myself) tend to be very visual learners.  If I can add a visual to something along then with an auditory component it usually clicks- What ever it is we are learning about. ( well, almost all of the time) .

Math TV
I wanted to quickly share this site because it is just one of those resources that is so simple and so user friendly that I really feel I would be neglectful if I didn't share it!

A Free Resource for Highschool ~

I just learned about this site this morning and thought I might share. Homeschool College USA has some great links and resources for learning during the Highschool years.  I started looking closer at this site and found the following very helpful;
Under Getting Started Section ~ 
"Notes About the Program "- explains what this site is all about and who it is for. It also explains supplies that are needed to do the courses, tools for learning like the Study Journals and where to actually start in the program.

I viewed some of the courses and really like many of them. I may actually alter a few things in our planning after seeing this site (ie, the drawing course and  photography and a couple of others I know my teen will just love).  I left myself wiggle room as I always do in my planning ( allowing for flexibility has always been key to our success in learning at home) so it will be easy to add a few of these things in.  In certain areas at the very least, I will make use of some of their great resources.  I'm thrilled I found out about this site~


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Planning and Organizing~ What I've Been Up To

 This past week has been all about planning and tweaking and then organizing. It can be exhausting.. but I am really making headway.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On a Tight Budget? Here are Some Alternatives You May Want to Check Out!

We have been on  a  leaner budget with our homeschooling and I have been on the hunt for alternative ways for saving money and cutting corners without taking away from comprehensive learning.

I have found a few things I wanted to share with my readers that I will be using as alternatives to other programs that can be quite costly ~  I also wanted to share some tips I have found helpful along the way as well for finding the very best books, programs and activities for the boys~ ( I will be creating a page for this and will continue to add to these ideas and tips as I find more of them)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Updating My Printables - And Creating New Ones~

Over this summer I am hoping to organize and go through my things I have created.  I have updated and made a few more pages ( you can see these on the right hand side of my blog).

We are starting this Fall a few new programs AND also starting Highschool so I will be creating a great deal more pages and will be sharing them here and then loading them into my "Freebies" section as well.

I just created this new log for my teen since I thought it would be very helpful to track and keep organized all his learning resources. This log helps my teen do just that;

Book/Periodical/Web Resource Log

I am planning on posting each thing I design and create so stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Free Multiplication Printables~

Here is a blog I just learned about ( I Homeschool)  and thought this could be worth sharing with some of my readers. This creative and talented homeschool parent created these free multiplication activity booklets for others to share and use. If you look a bit further on the right she also has some writing printables also ~

I really liked some of the activities built into these printables and how she tackles multiplication and learning the tables from different perspectives, not just drill work. Hope you find these helpful!

Putting an End to All the Overlap ~ And Making Connections

At one time or another we sit back and go over our plans we have for teaching and it all seems wonderful doesn't it? Everything is written down, outlined and the HS budget seems to be in line with what we have set out to do.  Then you go over things again to make some last minute decisions~

I think its easy to get sucked into the curriculum machine~they make it sound so perfect! and you feel guilty if your child doesn't have that particular workbook or expensive lab set. We don't have to be sucked in though. We just need to remember who we are teaching and what our childrens needs are.  Once we know this, many programs begin to look less and less exciting. 

I had a realization recently and have found that a leaner homeschool budget and better organization really helped me to realize the overlap I was starting to see in our home learning.   As I saw this I went to my book shelves and starting pulling out things one after the other... wow, I have ALOT! ( I even need a new book shelf and I have already six now!)

I heard from so many how Highschool was SO expensive I felt like I had to have  all these really expensive programs that others were using. NO, I didn't.  Just because one program may be beneficial to one child doesn't mean it will work for another.  We need to remember that as we go into the teaching years beyond Elementary learning as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Notebooking Anyone?

Morning everyone~ Amongst all the chaos going on at our home this week I wanted to share a few links I find really helpful when it comes to notebooking.   We do notebooking much more than worksheets. Its just more fun!

Here is a brief explanation about Notebooking in case you were actually new to this concept and trying to get away from all the dreaded piles of countless worksheets;  Notebooking for us is a way to explain and organize information learners are taught that is creative, innovative and something that they can call their own. We use Notebooking for all subjects, even math when understanding skills and concepts, for grammar when learning about a specific part of speech, for science for our nature study or for an experiment or article or web site we might have explored, for art when learning a specific discipline or media for just about EVERYTHING. Think of Notebooking as a way of reiterating information learned but in a creative way with pictures and cartoons and such. :)

When just starting out using Notebooking;  trying one or two with a particular topic to replace a worksheet works out really well and your learners are given a chance to just kind of see where they want to go with it. One of my boys likes to get really creative while the other is more read and narrate back in writing sort of a notebooker.

We also combine notebooking with lapbooking or folds when we want also. It creates a great portfolio of work when studying a particular topic in history, science, style of writing or grammar ~ :)

Here is a post What is Notebooking by Highland Heritage.

Some Notebook pages to be shared; 


Composer Study Pages - From That Resources Site, a listing of 26 different composers!


* Freebies List from Betsy these are pages in all different kinds of areas.


* Notebooking Pages - this is a site that sort of started me out in learning about Notebooking be sure and sign up and enjoy your journey with tips, tricks and freebies along with great pages to buy and learn from like I did. 


* Notebooking Article from Love to Know - this is a great insightful article to read. Your going to quickly see how Notebooking can be used in a variety of ways even for assessments! ( that's right forget the quiz's try notebooking to evaluate where your learner is) I really believe there is no better way or more natural way to evaluate a child's work, understanding and competence in an area than to have them teach it back/tell it back or write about what they learned. ~ it really works. 


* The Notebooking Fairy, - first I love the name ( I love fairies and all that comes with them) this is a site that really provides lots of freebies, tips and recommendations for Notebooking, "a new to me site" of recent weeks. 


*Homeschool Launch is a real favorite of mine. It shares pages all of us homeschool parents create to help our own children and these ladies are kind enough to share with everyone else their time and talents.

Hope this helps send you on your way out of the doldrums of worksheets and into the world of Notebooking~ !



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Math Reading~

Here is another book I just learned about this morning. "How to Teach Math- Even if You Hate Fractions", by Robin Padron.

I ended up getting this on my Kindle PC and plan on starting this very soon. This book is more about "how to teach" math without all the programs than it is a book about "teaching math".  The heavier we get into our math learning the more I realize that there will be no program that is a perfect fit. All programs have pros and cons and it is up to me ( as facilitator ) and my boys ( as learners) to narrow things down and learn math the way they need to learn.

This is transcending into all our other subjects as well. It really is quite liberating and I can tell you MUCH less expensive. There are so many programs out there and many of them will never meet our needs and work the way they are supposed to for our boys. I am completely convinced. So because of this I really enjoy reading books like Larry Zafran's, ( that I posted earlier about) and this book by Robin.

We have been very successful now in our math learning but it isn't due to a particular program it is much more about a combination of a few programs combined and more importantly how it is practiced and how the material is presented.

* I had already started reading and could find so many more excerpts to highlight for you but here is just a small sampling that might make you get an idea of what this book is more about*

"I know from personal experience that 10 minutes of math time with me and my undivided attention is far more productive for my kids than an hour spent doing exercises on their own.  I firmly believe in the idea of ‘less time, more connection’ as an effective way to teach math." 

Padron, Robin (2011). How to Homeschool Math - Even if you Hate Fractions!! (Kindle Locations 191-193). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

and another~ 
"I vividly remembered two things I hated about learning math from my own school years.  The first one was having to do hundreds of identical problems in a row.  It was boring drudgery!  If I knew it well enough to do the first one or two, why do the others? "

Padron, Robin (2011). How to Homeschool Math - Even if you Hate Fractions!! (Kindle Locations 223-225). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Hope you have a chance to check this book out~

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Math Reading ~

Below is a book I am planning on reading over this summer. I started looking over Larry Zafran's site a while back and we have used many of his tutorials. He is very helpful, his lessons are easy to understand, to the point and also he is very accessible.  I was able to contact Larry with a couple of questions and he responded back very promptly with the information I needed.

As I used his site a bit more I started digging a bit and realized his books might be quite helpful. Larry ( a former school teacher) was talking my language as I flipped through his first book entitled " Math Made a Bit Easier - Basic Math". His writing appealed to me because he explained how grade levels in math really don't matter much, what matters is the concepts learned and that a solid foundation is formed for later math.  He also talks about how having pages of problems really doesn't always help - ( less is more philosophy) and that by consistent practice and instruction Math can be successful.

As I started reading I have enjoyed his "matter of fact" approach and also how he quickly explains in the beginning how many books will add "tips" about specific topics and how these are supposed to be notes/suggestions that the current concept might be needed later on~ Larry explains he will just tactfully outline those areas by explaining that the student NEEDS to know this... I like that! ~

Narrations for Highschool Learning~



Just a quickie post to refer my readers to a great blog post from Barb of Harmony Art Mom ~ she talks about narrations for High School and I have to say we have done this with my teen for a couple of years now with great success so I thought I might share~

Here is here blog post.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Literature Based Instruction~

I had recently seen a great article from the ByrdSeed Gifted Blog entitled
" Teaching With Literature in the Primary Grades".  I had posted about it on my facebook page but realized this article while good, was specific to teaching only in the primary grades.

I loved the examples the article gave but could think of identifying and explaining all kinds of older, gifted or twice exceptional children could benefit from teaching this way.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spelling~

I recently came across this spelling program. We, right now are very happy with our spelling program we are using and do not plan on changing programs at this point but because I have dyslexics and because for some of my dyslexics spelling can, at times, be a major struggle.  I often find myself reading more and learning more about spelling and programs and strategies and techniques for teaching spelling (sometimes referred to as encoding also).

I found this program and wanted to share about it. - How to Teach Any Child to Spell by Gail Graham. I am intrigued by it because after looking at some of the samples of the book it was very close, if not right in line with what I have learned about spelling.  I had to get it, so I did.

Here is a link to see more and view the table of contents and read some excerpts which you might find very interesting and helpful.  

Language Arts "news" about LLATL

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I just received a newsletter from Common Sense press that LLATL ( a Ruth Beechick inspired LA program) is now offering placement tests for those who are new to the program.

I wish I would have had these when we first started out with this program, however, I was lucky in having been able to contact the authors of the series I was considering and by consulting with them was able to better determine placement for my younger son.

This program has been very successful for us with my youngest and so I thought I might share this information with others~  here is the link where you can find the placement tests for the LLATL Series.

* An update: Because this program has been SO successful with our youngest we are working this program as well for our teen as well. *

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What I have been up to lately~

I have been busy even though we are on a kind of break from most of our regular studies. I needed the break actually. It is really nice to just work an hour or a bit more in the mornings and then head up to my studio to do some painting or catch up on my Spring Cleaning that never had gotten finished. ~

Friday, June 3, 2011

Something I am Up To this Month - Better Organization

With our studies winding down, portfolios now completed, I am now thinking of finishing up the Spring cleaning and thinking more about organization and streamlining to make my life much easier.

I had posted a while back about our Home Log and now I think it is time to evolve this tool - Here is a link I was reading this morning on how I can take my idea of our Home Log and bring it into a whole "system" ( Household Notebook)  of organization to help me track, sort, and maintain contacts, errands, and other things.

I often need to juggle many different things within the same week or even the same day, as many of us do being mom's and dad's with children.  I often thought that as my boys were much younger that I was really busy then because they were so young and needed me so much, but now I laugh because as I have learned, the older boys can at times keep me even busier than I thought I had been before!  Organization and multi-tasking is a necessity in my world~

*Update~ I started really digging a bit more on the above site and found some examples of binders others had made, it really got me thinking... and inspired! I found this blog ( I subscribed and love it) that shows how to create a cover for my binder. I am not thinking of using this idea for my recipe binders I have created for our home. ( will be sharing about that over on my cooking blog this summer) ~* 
OK, so I suppose I wasn't finished finding great things to share about this here ya go~ 
Craft Blog Part I - creating a pattern to make your binder cover. 
Part II - Cutting and preparing pieces 
Part III - the construction 
Part IV - more construction.. I am just loving this at this point. 


Over on this blog there are many other ideas and things like cloth napkins and coasters etc.. I love it! I think I might be pulling my sewing machine and iron out again and getting down to some sewing! I have tons of fabrics up in my studio that I can put to some good use!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Articles & Reflections: Homeschooling for the Middle and Highschool Years

As my boys grow I can certainly see how our homeschooling is evolving.  I sit back and really take in how my boys have changed in both their thinking and also in how they take more and more control of their own education.

I had seen these two articles this morning and thought I would share them with my readers here at my LAH blog; A Montessori Education for Middle Schoolers and also A Montessori Education for Highschoolers
I thought these articles were very timely for us.  As I read through these I considered where my boys are now in their learning and where they came from and how their learning has developed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Reading ~ An Idea to Share

I can't take any credit at all for this "neat" idea to use as a tool for reading over the summer months.

Over on our AKOL e group a member was posting about trying to get some ideas for creating a summer reading program.

One member posted this resource on the group and I thought I might share it here because I just think it is a really neat idea for all age levels and readers.

It's called Reading Bingo

Be sure and check it out if your looking for a reading incentive for your learners over the summer months.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Division Struggles - and a favorite Math Reader Series to Share

I might have shared this series before but just in case I have not I wanted to share a REAL FAVORITE of ours ~ it is by Enslow Publishing called Making Math Easy. We started with this when my youngest was struggling learning subtraction. He just couldn't get it so I looked over some books (instead of more textbooks or programs) to help him and found this Making Math Easy Series. We just love it.

Now we are working with division and have written above how he struggled in subtraction I think I understand why division might be yet another difficult concept for him to grasp. He works through the problems fine with the steps but lacks the basic understanding (even using manipulatives of just what he is actually doing and I want to nip that right away so he has a better basic understanding of the concept/skill) I am going to be getting from our local library Division Made Easy. I think it will really help him understand things much more. If we want we can even try some of the worksheets if he wants that is provided on this site. ~
photo credit

Here is a preview of the book you can probably quickly see why we like these SO much.  I plan to go and get this today so we can stop right where we are in our math learning and go through this over the next couple of weeks to get a better foundation.

This series can be found in many libraries so be sure and check it out!


Math E-Books - Some Resources to Share

In an effort to find free, helpful resources for our home learning, I wanted to share these new resources we plan on using as we work into our higher levels of learning.
XP Math has a section of downloadable math reference books that I am adding to my boy's learning assignment blogs.



FreeBookCentre.Net is another site with free math e-articles and books on various math topics/skills.







I found Totally Free Math a real gem! This book is completely free and can be used as a great learning tool for those learning the basics of Algebra. Please read through the site for more information. 


* Note for further reference ( not ebooks) I found this link to be very helpful.

* Online Mathematics texts is yet another resource for areas of Calculus and Algebra

More online resources for help with math~
Algebra Help
Purple Math
Help Algebra
Algebasics
Hippocampus 
Kahn Academy
Shmoop - pre-algebra

Happy FREE math learning!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Literature for Summer ~

Lately we have been planning on what we will be doing this summer. We continue our learning, just at a much more relaxed pace. We don't work all subjects per week but we are planning on continuing with Reading, Math and Writing.

Here is a new site I found while downloading some free ebooks for my Kindle PC. I thought this might be a neat idea to have us do either together or separately and have the daily readings sent to their emails~ The site is called DailyLit. You read books online daily through your email or RSS feed.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Textbook Dilemma-

Photo Credit
Over the past few weeks I have been working on transitioning my teen from 8th grade studies into Highschool. I have been reading over lots of information and plans I had outlined previously for our 9th grade are being tweaked just a bit as I observe further into my teens unique abilities, interests and needs.

I have long avoided using textbooks. I don't think I have ever really liked them except for the pictures, I just really never found them to have all that much to offer a child.  Many can be tainted with agendas and offer inaccurate information especially in the areas of science and history.  They quickly ( like many reference materials ) can become outdated and irrelevant and I just didn't wish to deal with all of that.

My thinking has really evolved over time.  With my teen going into Highschool and reading more and planning things out in greater detail for this new year, chatting with colleges he shows real interest in attending and speaking to professors and also veteran homeschool parents of children who have now moved on from the homeschooling environment, I have a bit of a different perspective on them.

I have learned over this past year that for my 8th grader it has been a "growing year" for him and also for me as his teacher and now facilitator.  I am learning to let go more embrace his way of learning with his own needs and abilities.

Here is some brief insight I have picked up on over the past month or two;

1. All textbooks are not ALL bad. They CAN have a place in your home learning. ( used as a guide for a general theme or starting point on a topic, these texts can be useful).

2. Special Needs children CAN benefit from using these as your guide and starting point for learning more in depth concepts about a topic.

3. Errors occur not only with textbooks publishers and writers but also with authors who do not write for textbooks.  Unless it is a primary resource or something similar you will run into the same thing because it depends on the authors purpose and ideals of what they are trying to bring forth.  Also, these errors we might find can be a real opportunity for our children to dig deeper and using critical thinking skills to processing these errors also. * this is something much more conducive for learners who are gifted/twice exceptional or are more Middle/Highschool age. This would NOT be something I would recommend for younger learners in Elementary grades*.

4. Children with APD or Dyslexia can take advantage of using textbooks or similar learning books because the information is presented mostly in little chunks and as a very high level of understanding and can be used as an overview and guide and then you can dive deeper more complex concepts for your special learner to understand and in doing this, you may use many other books to bring this information forward.

5. Upper level (highschool textbooks and college level) can be helpful in learning about a topic since they are so much more in depth and cover much more material.  I have found the younger textbooks act more as a workbook approach and are not as valuable.

6. Pictures and links ( now available in many textbooks or media texts) can be a real advantage for our more visual children when learning.

I am still not satisfied and never will be completely satisfied with using ONLY textbooks for our learning but Textbooks can play a role with a combination of good literature and resources to surround your subject or topic.

Allowing the textbooks to be your guide to enter into a more organized, laid out approach to tackle a large subject like Biology can really be helpful in teaching and for helping our children learn about such a vast topic that has so many sub-topics. 

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