The first thing I tell new homeschool moms is to embrace the love of learning! Be open to learning and exploring topics that interest your child.
First, start with conversation. Ask your child what interests him most. Perhaps it is a particular sports car or maybe a certain sport intrigues him. Or, of course, it could be SQUIRRELS.
Well, that was what Derek said at the beginning of his fourth grade year. And, so, squirrels became our THEME. We stayed on this topic for three weeks! Who knew there was so much to learn about these little mammals?
All of my lesson planning centered on the theme of squirrels from that point forward. Sure, we kept moving along in our math textbook, but I even incorporated some "fun" math to tie in with our squirrel lessons.
READING (30 minutes a day) - Books from the library (fictional and non-fiction), Ranger Rick magazine, Discovery Education, BrainPop, and other various internet support sites.
WRITING (15-20 minutes a day)- We added words to our spelling dictionary, we took notes on index cards, and the project learning culminated with an expository essay.
MATH (30-40 minutes a day) - Graphing. We gathered information on all things squirrels. Later, we sorted our information. We used the information to create bar graphs, circle graphs, and line graphs.
SCIENCE (30 minutes a day) - Life science, of course! External and internal parts of a squirrel: respiratory, digestive, and circulatory system. Habitat and biomes also made it into the lesson plans. Derek created an interactive notebook with drawing, sketches, definitions, and more questions.
SOCIAL STUDIES/HISTORY/GEOGRAPHY (30 minutes a day) - We located the five continents where squirrels inhabit. We looked at the terrain and resources available to these little critters. We read, discussed, and wrote about various cultures and their interactions with squirrels.
VAPA (Once or twice a week.) - Tying in science, Derek learned to accurately sketch and draw a squirrel.
My point is simple. If you can entice your young learner to want to learn, you are more than half way there. Consider all the possibilities and work together to make your homeschooling memories true treasures.
Need a good lesson plan book? The Ultimate Homeschool Planner (Orange Edition)
So much to do and so little time. And, to add to the challenge, the kids are already bored! What?! Winter break just started!
Do not fret. Here is a simple idea to keep the kids busy while buying you a little extra time to finish up your projects, wrap those presents, and bake the last batch of cookies.
When our boys were younger we would use their artwork to make personal and, quite honestly, precious "Thank You" cards.
In my experience, getting children to write during the holidays is both fun and easy. December lends itself to imagination, curiosity, delectable delights, and heart-warming stories.
Whether your child enjoys writing narratives, descriptives, or expository assignments, I have a little of each to offer you.
May these ideas not only increase your child's writing skills this month, but make your December merry and bright!
Family is coming over! The house needs to be cleaned! Is the menu finalized and the shopping completed? Wait. And, I still need to teach my children?!?
Welcome to the homeschooling life! Sure, some moms will say, "We just take the whole week off." But, why? Why not use the natural excitement of an upcoming holiday to inspire more from your child? You can do this!
Thanksgiving can fill a busy schedule to the brim. I understand, but do not despair. There are plenty of independent (and fun!) writing activities your child can do this week.
Here are FIVE quick and easy writing ideas to spark your brain and inspire your young writer:
Write every day. Really?
The advice is common. Teachers encourage homeschooling parents to keep their children writing every day. However, the typical homeschooling mom runs out of ideas. Normal.
The good news is that others have already traveled the road you are on. Personally, I have succeeded and failed in this area. Let me share a successful writing method with you: The Quick Write - Summary Writing Practice
Every child is different they say. Well, the irony in my family is when all three of my boys were younger, they shared the same distaste for one subject in particular: WRITING! As a teacher and a mother, I often felt discouraged. Many times I wondered where I went wrong.
While some teachers cringe as distracting holidays grow closer, I like to embrace the moment and utilize it for good. Good writing, that is!
Halloween is upon us and if your little ghouls and goblins are having a hard time sitting still, start your day with, "Today we are learning all about CANDY!" It is a powerful word - CANDY - and should not be used lightly. So, be prepared to bring the candy out and have some eager learners by your side.
What better time to work with candy than Halloween? Instead of you having to go out and buy it, your kiddos will be bringing it home for your inspection. Perfect!
So, once you know the stash is good-to-go, try some of these ideas to incorporate candy and writing.
1. For younger children, start by having them alphabetize the different candy they collected.
2. For children a little older, with eyes closed, reach in and grab one candy. Write the letters on a piece of paper. How many words can you make? (For example, HERSHEY BAR: her, she, he, bars, yes, see, bear, etc.)
3. With empty wrappers, create a fun comic strip. I love this idea below from Our Thrifty Home.
4. Write a narrative story-telling-adventure from the perspective of a piece of candy. Where did he start, what did he see, what happened to him, and did he survive?!
5. Make a "Candy Board" with various candies. Use it to write out a story, make a yummy note for Dad, or cheer up a friend. Here is an example of one.
6. Develop a Facts and Opinion paragraph or essay on any candy of your choice. It can be a real eye opener to realize most of our arguments are often opinionated even though we know the facts are more convincing. (For example, there are both facts and opinions I can write about Three Musketeers. Facts: chocolate, sweet, fluffy center, made by Mars, etc. Opinions: delicious, best chocolate bar invented, satisfying, etc.)
7. Construct a Comparison and Contrast paragraph or essay on two different candies. Use a Venn Diagram as your graphic organizer.
8. Jot down you Halloween night escapade. This makes a perfect journal prompt on November 1st. And, best of all, you child is capturing his or her fun memories for you to keep.
Whatever you do, plan to have fun! Some of the happiest childhood memories are centered around fun holidays and celebrations. Drop the dread and have fun instead. It will be spooktacular, I'm sure.
There is something quite charming about the word gigglemug. Recently, I learned it is an old Victorian slang term for a person who always shared a ready smile and happy disposition with others. Well, there you have it, my goal is to be a gigglemug for life!
Something that put a smile on my face this weekend was making a new, and healthful, recipe. Sitting on my counter were four somewhat-old red apples. You know the kind: too soft for anyone to take a good, crisp crunch out of. Not wanting to toss them, I headed for my computer. Google led me straight to a low-carb version of Apple Dump Cake.
The steps were simple enough. Her recipe called for four cups of sliced apples, but I only had two. No worries. I just planned to cut the recipe in half. After coring, peeling, and slicing the apples, I put the dry ingredients together. Since I had no clue what Swerve was, but I did have unrefined, all-natural Coconut Sugar in the pantry, I substituted the two. Cinnamon Stevia? I'll have to get some of that! For the interim, I just used the unflavored Stevia I had on hand and dashed in some extra cinnamon powder for flavor.
After mixing the dry and wet ingredients together, I sprayed a loaf pan with coconut oil and dusted it with cinnamon sugar which I keep in a special shaker all its own. Smoothing it out as best I could, into the oven it went for 20-25 minutes. I'll say, it is not the prettiest cake or bread, but it was pretty tasty. My boys described it as a spongy, sweet apple bread. It paired beautifully with my dark roast coffee!
Well, that is just lovely, right? But, what does this have to do with writing?
Everything. And, you just read my journal entry, summary, or descriptive essay.
Life is always happening. Sometimes it is exciting and sometimes not. Some days are just simple. However, from all experiences, we likely have something to glean and something to share with others through writing.
Parents, as you inspire your child to write this week, think about the simple things that happened over your weekend. What were the details? How might you use those to create a fun writing assignment? And, perhaps most importantly, what made you and your children gigglemugs?
Author: Melissa Webb
CA Credentialed Teacher