The carnival of homeschooling is up at Living Life and Learning! Make sure you stop by!
Yep… I make no bones about it… I love summer. Mostly because the daily boot camp that is my life on a typical school day is gone during those blissfully peaceful summer months. Yet, the teacher (and probably “Monk” tendencies) in me is concerned that my kids keep their brains active during the summer! So, I am constantly looking for ways to do this without making it seem like we are having a regular school day. This is where I love the idea of Adventure History!
During the summer we often try to brush up a bit on the history of our local areas. A great way to do this is to have a history adventure. Here are a few ways that I try to teach local history.
1) My all time fav… take a day to have a scavenger hunt! Find all of the historical landmark signs that scatter the streets of your neighborhood!
2) Visit your local Historical Society Chapter. Ours has a great website with lots of cool old pictures of our county seat. In fact, we are fortunate, our tiny little town (we are talking a post office and 3 buildings) even has their own book published!
3)Read a book together that is about history in your state. After you finish the book take a day trip to visit the setting of the story! There are some pretty neat things that you can do along those lines in our state. We live in Georgia so it’s a veritable hot bed of Civil War history! Here is a great FREEBEE site to find awesome homeschool literature!
4) Google – have an online day where you use all types of online resources… like this FREEBEE online state games! Then try to visit some of the sites that you learned about online!
I am participating in the Homeschool Friday Freebee Link up… So, buzz on over there and see what other awesome homeschool freebees are waiting for you!
Really? How in the world can I compete with Santa, the Grinch, Christmas Carols, Christmas presents, Christmas programs, and Christmas movies… it’s nearly impossible! Everywhere we look Christmas is here… and truthfully…the fact that “It’s Beginning to Look alot Like Christmas…” really isn’t my problem. It’s the fact that I have to get and keep my children’s attention when all they can think of is what is actually under that wrapping paper on those gifts under the tree! Getting their attention during December is just… well nigh impossible!
Yet, in my experience I have a better chance getting their attention when we do something “out of the norm!” Sure, the old routine isn’t bad… in fact… it’s been working pretty well. Yet, I have to get their attention and keep it during Christmas – that requires every tool in my arsenal! So, bring out the big guns and change the whole thing up for maximum effect! It will definitely get their attention! An easy way to do this and keep with the train of thought that they are thinking right now… is to incorporate a themed reading unit for December. STOP… don’t walk away with panic in your eyes! It’s easy…
First, just choose a book or several books with a Christmas theme. Here is a post I wrote recently about Christmas themed books to help you out!
Second, give your readers a reading response journal. This can be a spiral bound notebook, and they simply write their feelings or opinion to each days reading from their themed books.
Third, incorporate the theme into your science, history, and math by reviewing the books and finding parts, settings, or aspects of the book that may pertain to these other subjects. For example, if your Christmas themed books are set in a historical setting have your child do a little extra research about that particular time period. Use the internet and find out more information. They could also look up information on how much things cost in that time period. I really love giving them a Christmas math assignment of having to find appropriate and interesting gifts for their siblings within a set budget. This teaches them on so many different levels!
Finally, have a big themed party night once you’ve finished all your books! We love doing things that we found in the books, and even making and eating food from our book! The most fun we’ve had was finding the movie that went along with the books we were reading… we watched it together with popcorn and snuggly blankets! Talk about a fun finale!
So, don’t let Christmas stress you out… go with it! Allow your kids to have a learning experience based on the Christmas theme and have a little fun with it!
Yes, we’ve struggled with history time being a boring subject that the kids asked to skip every day. I love history, and that really drove me crazy. Last year, I finally sat down and made it a point to find a curriculum and method that would change that way of thinking.
First, I realized that I had to model good behavior and show my kids that history was and really could be fun. I began by thinking of ways that I could add field trips to our history lessons to bring them to life. I also began using a curriculum that was based on projects. This was a huge success with the kids, because they enjoyed the practical side of making relevant things from history.
Second, I realized that I had to find a fun and engaging way to help them practice their history facts. I started using online history games as well as online geography games. Both of these are pretty fun and enabled the kids to stay interested while learning.
Since we have instituted these new methods of learning history… It has been a whole new ball game! My son even asks to do history!
Spring is here and with it comes great opportunities to study the world around us. One of our favorites is to study bugs or other little humble creatures that we often take for granted. They are small, but God created them with great purpose…One of these is the lowly worm…
Have you ever really looked at worms? These slimy, wriggly, creatures are our friends. They process rotting materials and aerate our soil. Maybe they deserve a closer look? To get a closer look at these interesting creatures try this…
Locate an area of dirt that was recently under a log or dig up a patch of grass. Take two long 12-18 inch sticks and pound one into the dirt about 3 inches and use the other to rub the first stick back and forth. After a few minutes you’ll se these amazing wigglers come crawling to the surface. Carefully check them out… use a magnifying glass for a closer look! Just remember to put them back into the soil after you’ve finished checking them out!
Alot of education is based on memory. I’m sure you remember memorizing the planets, the periodic table, math formulas, history dates, on and on it goes… Yet, relying on our memory to store dissasociated facts and retrieve them on demand can be much like looking for a needle in a haystack. Research tells us that the information that we learn through memorization is contained in one small portion of our brain.
However, the information obtained from performing a task is stored in several interconnecting locations. This storage produces something like a 3 dimensional hologram within our minds. The experience or performance memory creates a larger footprint on the brain allowing it to be retrieved easier as well. Remember the chemistry labs… the projects, the field trips…
Although memorizing is important, and does serve us well…augmenting that memory with an experience can make it more vivid. In teacher talk, we call this a concrete experience. Using concrete experiences as your foundation is important, because you can then build on that “vivid 3D hologram” with memorization!
Children are absolutely amazing! Have you ever just looked at a little on and realized how much they have learned to do in the short time that they have been here? Children have the amazing ability to learn in almost any way at almost every given moment. They are like little sponges with their minds wide open waiting to soak everything up.
Yet, children really learn best while doing. As we mentioned before they learn while playing… as the child gets older the same is still true. Though, they wouldn’t want you to call it play… Still as we homeschool our older children, its best to remember whatever we teach our children should be able to be “performed.”The child can sit and read or listen all day, but what difference does it make if they haven’t been able to assimilate the knowledge? Performance brings it all together. If a child is taught about electricity and how batteries work… he will forever remember the lesson if he has to hook up a simple circuit to a battery. Making time to have our children “perform” what they have learned can make all the difference.
My favorite method of assessment is just that… “performance assessment.” Performance is simply the application and demonstration of what has been learned. Instead of just slapping a paper and pencil in front of your child to test their ability, have them perform what they have been learning.
Performance is glue for the memory!
Having pre-made tests are great, but that option isn’t always available. Homeschoolers, even though we need to be using alternative means of assessment… often have to make their own tests. It really isn’t a difficult thing to do, but there are a few things you should always keep in mind when designing your own test.
- A test should always cover what was learned in the lessons. This means that if you use goals and objectives, your test should cover those exact objectives. Never pull test questions out of thin air, this isn’t fair to the tester.
- The best type of test is the essay test. This test requires the tester to completely pull all knowledge from their own resources.
- Tests should typically be a variety of questions.
- Tests should not be repetetive. Don’t repeat questions. Don’t give away answers with nonsensical options.
- Don’t ask only simple rote memory questions. Make sure that your questions build in the Cognitive learning domain. Begin with rote memory questions that test the facts, then move to questions that make students analyze what they have learned, then the students to synthesize the knowledge and facts, and then finally ask questions (such as essay ) that require them to evaluate and apply what they have learned.
I know some of you are probably wondering what I mean. Peer tutoring can be a very beneficial way of keeping your children on task or even getting them caught up. Most of the time, homeschool peer tutoring is free. You know… older siblings helping the younger ones.
Using peer tutoring is a great way to keep things flowing and children on task when their are several young students homeschooling at once.
A great way to integrate this into your homeschool is to establish a contract of sorts with the older child that you want to be the tutor. Arrange some form of compensation for them. Whether it’s a credit for a certain chore around the house, or a free day every now and then,it will make a big difference for the older student to feel as if they are benefitting in some way. Then discuss it with the younger child as well, and lay down the ground rules. Then finally, schedule it into your weekly/daily plan.