Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I hope that those of you, heading to a homeschool convention, will have a fantastic time and get some great new ideas and leave refreshed and renewed.
If there is a subject I don't have up and you need some ideas, feel free to ask-I can always try to offer up some helps.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Enter homeschooling my own. "Hmmm, interesting?" "Not bad." "Never knew that." "Uh, that is cool." rolled off my tongue with ease.
I look forward to science now. I know more than I ever knew in school. My kids like it too. Now that speaks volumes, doesn't it?
For elementary we used the Montessori plan on Botany and Life Science. I made the "works" (a Montessori term) to go with what we were studying. For example: we covered the parts of the flower. So I used their sheets for that, copied them and made enough so the student could label them correctly, or put parts together. We took apart a flower to see the real thing. We drew a flower and labeled it. We read books about flowers (hmm, sounds very CM to me) and so forth. We did this same thing when we covered mammals, reptiles, birds, humans, and so on. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was a teacher at a Montessori school. I ordered the TE thru her. But I am sure you can come up with something similar. I did this for the very early elementary ages up to about 3rd grade. Not that you cannot do it with older children, but the TE I have covered only those levels.
We read on things that interested us and did mini projects for it. I never really did a program. Ok, yes-I tried Bob Jones and went thru it...but if felt so textbooky to me. My kids did not retain what we covered either-so I didn't continue with it. That was 10-14 years ago...they may have changed their program a bit...I dunno. I just knew for us, that is wasn't a good fit.
I never really did a ton of science in the elementary...or so I thought. We just would study what we liked or happened upon (say a particular bird, and so we researched it).
I then found some books that were engaging and had lots of real life meaning. If you can find them, use them to supplement what you are doing. I don't think they cover enough to be considered a full curriculum. They are all by the same author: Bob Friedhoffer. I do not know if they are still available new, you will have to do some research. He has several titles and the ones I own are: Physics lab in the Home, Science Lab in a Supermarket, and Physics Lab in a Hardware Store. My son really enjoyed doing the experiments. It was engaging and not too heavy. We had a new baby in the house when I found these, so they were perfect for that season in our lives.
I also had my 6th -7h graders do Beautiful Feet Books History of Science. That really gave them a good grasp of how the field of science came to be. After all, someone had to think upon this stuff and call it something. Since BFB is very CMish, it fit our family to a T.
When I came across Apologia (not long after he wrote the first book), I was in science heaven! Yes! So we have done Apologia right thru high school. I have not been disappointed. My kids could do a lot of it on their own, and the experiments are engaging and interesting. I also found that there is a Yahoo Group for Apologia. There are alternative tests on it, and I find my 3rd child does much better with them than the originals. You can join them at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Apologia_Science.
I was also very pleased with Jeannie Fulbright's books she wrote for Apologia. I have used the Exploring Creation through Astronomy, so far. I like how very CM it is. My youngest is fast approaching the ability to use them and I look forward to buying and trying out a few more. For those of you who liked the Montessori ideas-this would be a great alternative...almost exactly what I described above.
For my first grader this year: I am doing SL K. I am following their science 1. I have not done any of their sciences before, even though I own a few Cores (in high school-I do the Apologia, I am talking Lower/Upper El). I will have to get back to you on how well we like it. I am waiting to do the Apologia ones with him when he has better reading/writing skills, and my friend is done using it for her boys.
The only other suggestions I can think of is to have a huge reference shelf. You will need this for you Nature Study too. I find mine at garage sales, dollar stores and even in Grandma's closet/bookshelves! Keep a science notebook where they can pop in their observations, notes, narrations and so forth on their science activities. I do not grade elementary science (or any other subject for that matter-just math tests) so I will not squelch or overshadow the learning experience. Keep the elementary sciences simple, more hands on and read, read, read on your subjects.
If I think of anything else note worthy-I will add on....
What to do? Where to go?
Little ones do not have much to base their history on. After all, they have only been on this earth a mere couple of years. So, keep it simple.
Talking about their history is a great place to start. Show them photos of family and friends. Talk about when they were a baby and how your family came about. I have yet to meet a preschooler who doesn't love to hear (over and over again) what they were like as babies. They need tangible history lessons. I doubt many would even have a reference point to truly understand Egyptian Pharaohs and Spanish explorers. But do by all means introduce these things if they show some interest. Use dress-up and children's books. No need to bore them to death. This is a great age for imagination. Utilize this desire. Whatever you do-DO NOT over teach it! That will just suck the life out of it. We want to build an interest and desire to know more about history, not bury the desire before they enter "real" school. If they have older siblings, invite them sit in on readings and discussions, but do not require them to stay thru it.
Avoid packaged programs for now. It will only stress you out, and create bad undertones for future teaching.
When they start showing better writing skills, and listening skills that extend past -oh five seconds- then start (gently) introducing a more structured approach (this may take until they are 7!)
I would like to interject a story that perfectly illustrates this:
My youngest was about 5ish when I decided to include him in the regular routine of "school".
I carefully set up his work area with his supplies and chair. I made a paper with 2 lines each of the lower case "a" and "b". Four lines! They were dotted out as well, so this was a no brainer.
He was so excited. He plopped himself down, proudly picked up his pencil, listened to my directions and quickly set out to his task. I stepped away, confident that I had maybe 5 minutes or so to work with his sister. Pencil scratches and head down-he was really working at it. I smiled inside thinking, "Finally-my last student is ready to move along with school."
Five seconds into it, he sat up, drew a deep breath, blew it out loudly, set his pencil down, pushed his chair back and proudly announced, "Well I am done with school!"
A bit astonished, I went to see this work of art. How amazing of a kid did I have? He could get his work done in 5 seconds! And to not laugh at his serious comment of being finished! Two, yep two scribbled "a" letters graced the page, and he was no where to be seen! Priceless, simply priceless. He thought 2 letters constituted school and he was done.
Maybe I should of saved this for the Language Arts blog-but it beautifully illustrates the readiness of a child. Getting him to sit through a book without pictures at that point-impossible. He simply was not ready for any sort of structure. I had to rethink how to approach this and spent more time doing "fun" things (which I would like to point out is "fun" in his eyes but was actually play that taught!) until he was ready. Which really wasn't too many months later. I adjusted the learning experiences to his abilities to handle it. I still have to keep it less structured at this point--but experience has taught me that it will all work out in the end, he will graduate knowing how to read, write and do 'rithmetic. Remaining patient and not falling into that nasty trap of "what others are doing" will produce a well-rounded, educated young man in the very near future.
Know your kid. Use play to teach, your voice to tell stories and your arms to embrace. That is what a preschooler needs.
*history instruction: google book lists or purchase one of the many great books that are written for this very purpose, use costumes and lots of picture books. Use songs and crafts. Make those cardboard forts, castles and trains. Use field trips to places of historical happenings to teach. Use grannies, grampies and old Mr. Brown down the road, to talk about what life was like when they were kids. That is history! (uh, the big kids love this too-including ME!)
Kindergarten (and a few years beyond if necessary):
Most four/five/six year olds are still not ready to handle a big scheduled out program. Again, this goes back to writing/reading/listening skills. Some curriculum require a lot of writing or reading on the part of the child. If you have a non-reader, this can be a huge hindrance. Other programs are full of what Charlotte Mason called "Twaddle". That basically means that it is full of fillers, junk and unnecessary work that takes away from the meat of the lesson.
If you are graced with one of those particularly precocious children..then skip this part. Otherwise, all others should read on. If they have some ability to to write/draw and can sit through readings of non-illustrated books as well as the illustrated ones..then by all means start using a program. Tweak it to fit your child/family's needs. You are not a slave to it nor should you feel it necessary to do every little thing suggested by the author. Use it as a tool, not a yoke!
We started out in 1994 (officially) and there really wasn't the avalanche of materials that there is today. That said, with all the research I did, we found that we could afford (and then fell truly in love)with the Beautiful Feet Books curriculum. We didn't want to spend a lot, because after all, we were only going to do this homeschooling thing until we figured out a better plan. We originally did not start for religious convictions- all though we were concerned with the moral decline of the schools. That better plan led to homeschooling all the way through high school! GOD is awesome! He used a particularly not so swell school dilemma, and turned it into a way of life for our family!
I bought the Early American History guide for K-3. I felt that it really should be listed for grades 1-4 (depending on the child.) I loved that it used real books to teach history, and the timeline and notebook were right up our alley. Plus, it played right into what Charlotte Mason taught...and to think I didn't even know about her until years later...but thought the same way she did in this matter! I still have that puppy on my shelf, along with just about every other guide they sell. It is a must in our home.
Rea Berg(BF Books) lays out the entire year in a gentle and easy to follow manner. Starting with the Vikings, she progresses through to the Civil War. The program is not so overly crammed with information that the child will become bogged down with it. The time-line offers a nice way for visual and tactile learners to enhance their studies. You can also add to, or delete whenever you choose (ah the beauty of homeschooling!). You snuggle with the child(ren) and read the majority of the books together. For those with the skills, I let them read the books they could handle. I still have those notebooks my three oldest made, and get almost teary-eyed when I go through them now. My two oldest have graduated from high school so these little treasures are priceless to me!
I plan on using it in the fall of 09 with my youngest. I cannot say enough good about the program!
I have decided though, to go with Sonlight's Intro to the World: Cultures program for my youngest this year. I debated over whether to start with this or BF's Early American. I knew the boy was not ready for BF only because I want him to be able to do the notebook with all of its writing and such. SL's program is really geared more for pre-K to Kindergarten-but due to his needs, this should be a good match. I will let you know how it went in the spring. I have used SL for higher grades and greatly appreciate the fine job they did with the scheduling and layout. I am looking forward to giving the lower level a try this year.
I am a loyalist and stick with what I truly love and what works. I have not skipped around or tried too many programs. BF Books was a perfect fit-so I stuck with it. Since my youngest is not quite up to the first BF program, and SL has a seemingly good one for his age, I am giving it a try. I do not have personal experience with the other programs out there. I have heard a lot of good buzz about the classical approach using Susan Wise Bauer's program-The Story of the World. If you tend to be more classical...consider them. If you are into more unit study styles-find some friends who have used those types of programs and give it a whirl. I have heard a lot of good about Diana Waring's history programs too. In fact, I may use her Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries program to piggy back my 9th grader's Medieval study this fall (yep-using BF's Medieval program).
AVOID at all costs-teaching history by using textbooks! You know the type..the ones we were exposed to in PS! History is much more complex, and interesting than the typical textbook 2 paragraph quip on something. Oh, and you can avoid those crazy myths and legends that proliferate them...learn history through authors who love their topics, have researched and have accurately depicted the events. I cannot stress this enough!!!!!!!
I am going to break these history blogs into age sections. That way you can pinpoint your age group better and my hands can take a break from typing. WHEW~
What is nice about homeschooling is that you can stretch your program out if more time is needed. If it takes 18 months to cover your program, then it takes 18 months. And no, you do not need to cover every single thing. I do not know of anyone who is an expert in every time period of history! That would be a lot of info to store and frankly, just about impossible. Everyone (by the time they graduate) should at least know the basics of our country's history, major historical events worldwide, and some of the folks involved. They should, at the very least, be able to pin down the decade of these occurrences.
They MUST know how to look up information, or where to go to find the answers! That is one life skill that everyone should have. Sadly, many do not. I know there will be gaps in our children's education, but I also know that they have the skills, and necessary desire to be able to figure out how to find it!
Elementary students: 1-6 grades (approx.)
This is when the fun can really begin. Once the child has mastered basic writing and reading skills, they should be ready for a more scheduled program.
If you read the previous post, then you know that I love BF Books guides for history. I am also a big fan of SL. Whichever program you choose, be sure it meets the needs of you and the children. If it requires a lot of parent prep, and your time is limited, maybe it isn't a good choice. If you have a lot of students close in age, perhaps the Unit Study program is best (I have heard there is a lot of teacher prep-hmmm, maybe that isn't so swell). SL will work for a children close in age with similiar writing/listening/reading skills. BF can work but you may have to adjust a bit here and there. It probably will not work with big gaps in age/skills. You may have to do the similar studies jointly (primary and Intermediate) to avoid that problem.
If you follow the classical approach, then you would be familiar with the 4 cycles of teaching history. Teach one era, then the next and so and then cycle back (but in more detail) to the first. Not a bad idea really, it means that eventually-your child will cover it again and they should get it later if they didn't the first time. Many advocate starting with Ancient history so that when you get to American, your child can say they know how we came to be. Again, not bad.
We didn't know about all that tho. We just plunged forth into our BF studies and made the overall plan up while we went along. If I had to go back and redo it-I would be more careful to lay out the a revolving time block and stick to it. We had to take some side roads to get us to our end point. BF does not offer (oh, but I can hope) an Ancient History study for the early elementary. So I knew we had that gap. I also know they tend to lean a lot toward US history in the early levels. So I also knew, eventually, I would like to find some program that covers the other parts of the world, with similar teaching styles.
We ended up doing BF early Am., California , Science and the Intermediate level of Am. History.
We slipped in Green Leaf Press' Ancient Egypt. I was not super duper impressed, so we did not continue on to the Greece/Roman studies. So, again, another era missing. What I did do, was to take what I had on the shelf and read through those books and lightly covered the basics. I figured we would get back to it eventually.
I found SL 5 for the gaps on the other parts of the world. It is better known as their Eastern Hemisphere program. That is when I discovered SL and now my BF program had some serious competition!
With BF you can take a side trip and cover the History of the Horse, of Classical Music and of Science- if your child is in need of a little breather from the typical history coverage. They are still learning history so don't be afraid to try these little sweeties. Throw those in there if your child needs extra time to mature into the harder history programs.
I like how BF guides start with American history. Really though, it starts with Norse history and carries us through European events and people that lead to the settlement of the Americas. So it really does expand outside of US history. It uses enough but not too much info. Again, that gets a gold star from me. Elementary aged children (mine at least) do not need college level info on history. They simply are not going to remember everything, so why go so overboard and exhaust yourself and student?
Once we completed the primary Am. History we moved on to California history (so guess what? It no longer is published. I have my copy and books: but those of you out there-it may be difficult to locate. ) Now you may be saying, "What is up with Cal. history and why should I bother? We don't live in CA!" True. We don't either and never have. It is unfortunate that she dropped it. I didn't use it to learn CA history per say, I did it because it was an awesome introduction to all the wonderful explorers from all over the world who made their way to our Golden Coast. We learned about explorers I never knew existed. It covered the Gold Rush and settlement of the West. It covered the mission work of priests and Indian tribes there. For boys who love anything related to adventure, sailing and the stories of the West-it is perfect. My girls liked it but were not quite as impressed (too adventurous for them maybe-they like the castles and maidens and such).....I know my youngest will be my most excited student when we hit this program!
I know a lot of programs mostly cover the east coast and stop somewhere around the Louisiana Purchase. What a shame! I see she now carries the Early Am. and World History for Jr high. I wonder if she put the good stuff from the California program in there? That could be another option to try if you want to continue to use her guides.
So by the time the kids finished 6th grade they had a pretty good coverage of history. A few of my kids actually did some of these programs in their 7-8th grades. Due to moves, babies, daddy traveling a lot and finding SL later on, we had some years where there was little or no history. Yes, gasp if you must. Because of the coverage of these programs I didn't worry. It is far more history than their peers receive in PS!
I do like SL. The World Cultures I am doing with my 7 year old. It will give him enough snippets of a variety of lands and peoples before we slip into the American history. I would say, that if you purchase SL for your family and really like it-then stick to their plan. They do world cultures, then ancient, World, move to the Americas, hit the Eastern Hemisphere, come back to World, do American, God's Kingdom, World and Government. Kindergarten (I do not advocate the lower levels-see my comments on that in the previous post) through high school graduation. But buyer beware-it is not cheap! Even when you buy thru resale. The beauty though-they worked in every area of learning and scheduled it out. We just tweak it to suit our needs.
Sonlight can be very daunting, too random at times and could be down right boring. I found this out when I bought the 1+2 combo for my daughter. Less than 2 months into it, I realized it didn't make much sense. It bopped around so much that I was having trouble figuring out how it all "fit" and she loathed it! Simply put, it was too much for her at that time in her schooling career. I very warily decided to give the K program a try this year. I truly hope I am not disappointed. I do like the higher levels of SL, so suggest the lower ones with a bit of hesitation. Not having tried the 3-4 or 6-8 programs-I can only speculate. Time will tell.
So for our family, history has been taught through BF Book guides, and SL. They have read (or will) real books, done projects, time lines and spent a lot of time on the couch (my office) with me going hoarse with all those fantastic reads.
I do plan on giving Diana Waring's Ancient Civilizations a try for my youngest (possibly having my high schooler listen in) to get more of the early history in. I just have to figure out when I will squeeze that in.
I must say, BF does not schedule out anything but history with some writing projects. You will find some Bible in there, but not nearly enough to consider it a Bible program. SL schedules out Bible, history reading and literature. I believe they also have math scheduled out too. I would actually have to go look to verify that one. The other subjects have their own schedules you can purchase.
So that is what we do for elementary and into Jr high for history.
My brain is toast. Over and out.
Wow! A party to refresh and energize-take a moment and link over to get all the details at the 5 Minutes for Mom blog site~this is going to be huge! It only lasts a week, so head on over and sign up!
As for me....well I am a Christian Homeschooling mom (been hsing for 15 or so years now) and I am married to my best friend whom I have now known longer than 1/2 my life! We have been blessed with 4 children-20 yold dd, 18 yr old ds, 14 yr old dd and lastly, our 7 yr old ds. My two oldest have graduated, and continued on to college (dd has 3 sems to go for her Bachelor's Degree, and ds has about 2 sems to go for his Associates)-our 2 youngest are continuing what we started on several years ago as a "temporary" solution-and will until they graduate from High School too.
I am so blessed to also be a part of the new Old Schoolhouse Magazine viral-marketing focus group (and guess what? They are looking for 100 new crewmates! See my post about it for more info) and have not only learned a lot about a variety of hsing products out there-but have made some awesome friends too! I am also carrying over another year to serve not only as a reviewer, but as a mentor to 4 of the new members as well (with 24 of this year's crew)-I have a blog especially for all of my reviews and you can visit it as often as you'd like! With the hs conventions and spring purchasing fast approaching, it is a good place to see about some of those products you may have been wondering about and don't forget to link to our crew homepage for many, many more: 1 of 100 TOS Crew Reviews
I also have a blog for my scrapbooking and lapbooking addiction. You can visit that
here. I have lots of lapbook ideas, links, scrapbooking ideas for homeschooling and more there.
And I have this blog and On the Right Track dedicated to homeschooling and all the ups and downs that go along with it.
I hope you have a great time at the party, and I look forward to meeting many new bloggie friends thru this wonderful opportunity!
Blessings to all of you!
My top 3 choices in prizes:
That Girl Blogs for a $25 gift certificate for Close to My Heart Scrapbooking stuff
The Divine Miss Mommy for a $40 gift certificate for Carrabba's Italian Restaurant
Pedal Cars and Retro for a $100 gift certificate
but if those are spoken for: then
41, 58, 76, 68, 91, 113, and 118 all look very nice
anything relating to a 7 yold boy/14 yold girl and mommy stuff are nice as well
Back to this post's topic.....
High School History.
I had a blast doing this with my high schoolers. They are at the intellectual level to really discuss issues and happenings in history. They can and should work through most of it on their own too. So what do they need?
Good advice: go through your local high school's listing of classes to see what they require. Know your state's requirements too. You can google it or go to HSLDA.org.
I did not want my kids to slack in history during high school. I remember most of my peers (and myself included) only took the bare minimum to graduate. How sad.
So, after knowing how I liked BF guides and SL, the next step was to continue with those programs. Was never disappointed either.
This is what I wanted to cover: US and World in depth up to our current date, Medieval (includes Renaissance, Reformation), and possibly Ancient if time allowed.
I am very pleased with SL 300. This is the 20th Century World History program that covers this past century in detail. It has a lot of heavy reading and is time consuming. The benefits far outweigh this though. Be sure to read SL's section on whether or not SL is right for your family, and pay attention to their notes on some of the books included in this program. They can be disturbing for very sensitive children (for example: it covers Hitler's assisinatation of the Jews in sad but true detail).
I did feel they could of put a bit more emphasis on the Vietnam war and beyond. So I piggy-backed BF's US and World history for HS with it. We just eliminated redundant material and picked up where SL left off. This took the kids 2 years to complete. By the time they were done, they knew more on the Civil War, wars past this point, including the Vietnam and up to today's current issues. I know they have read more than most college graduates and probably most adults out there.
I had the kids do BF Medieval History in the 9th grade. They were ready for the reading load, but not ready for the heaviness of SL's 300. It was a good fit for our family. The Medieval covers the Reformation and Renaissance. I liked how it covered this time frame and the books were a good mix. My daughter will use it this fall. Since she likes castles and Kings and fair maidens, we are tossing in a lot of extras. We will build a paper castle (can be found thru Rainbow Resource's store) and investigating the Middle Ages through coloring books by Dover and Bellerophon. Just for the fun of it we will build a catapult as well. I am hoping we can get to the Renaissance Festival as a real living history option, too.
If time would of allowed, I most likely would of used BF's Ancient History program. My 2 oldest attended our local community college as well, so time was limited during the last 2 years of their schooling with mamma. I may try to squeeze in SL's 200 which covers church history, for my current high schooler but am not sure if we will have time. All these wonderful choices and just not enough time!
One area which is a must to cover: Government and Economics. These should only be one semester each. You do not have to bore the dears by using a textbook approach either. I put together a program using Blue Stocking Guide Economics and Political Philosophies. I made up a list of books and various assignments to go along with it. They worked thru it on their own (with some discussions on my part). I also had them attend a program nearby. It is called Student Statesmanship Institute. This week long program gives them a good understanding of how our government works and instills in them the need for Christians to be involved with our government. The web for that is : http://www.ssi-online.org/. There are other programs nation wide that address the same thing, just with a different name. Teen Pack comes to mind. Google to see what is near you. I highly recommend having the kids attend something of this nature.
Our community college requires all students to take government, so I didn't spend a lot of time going into depth...figured they would get it there. Some say that Uncle Eric is very liberal. I didn't feel this was true, but again, since I never completely follow any program to the letter, I may of just deleted what I felt was unnecessary or skipped sections-it has been a couple years, so I can not recall exactly. I felt what they did do was complete enough. Another option for economics is to do Abeka's Consumer Math (but now I am getting into math here, so will save that for later).
Since your child is older, include them in the planning of their history courses. Choose programs that interest your child and use the same ideas you would for the younger ones, the older kids still like hands on stuff!
When planning out their courses, be sure to always double check what the colleges are looking for. It helps if you know what schools (yes schools, because you do not know if they will get into their first pick) want for high schoolers to have taken. Be diligent about this. History takes a long time to cover and squeezing it in the last couple months of your child's senior year will not work. As for grading high school history, I go with the following met requirements:
- Have read the majority of the books in the program and can successfully narrate the stories back to me.
- Have completed the program's assignments with true effort, neatness and within a reasonable amount of time
- Did the writing assignments required (no sloppy work allowed)
- Can tell me the time frame (hopefully the exact years, but getting close is good too) the events took place and the people involved
- If it required a time line: having completed it by the course's end
No tests. Yes, you read that correctly. I know BF has tests and perhaps even SL. Never did them. Narration is one of the best ways to see if the child has grasped the concept of the books. Doing the writing is another bonus to knowing the subject. If they did a decent job and gave it their best, they got an A. Some slacking, and failure to do some of the requirements equalled a B. Nothing lower was allowed. I seemed to be right on too. When my oldest took her required history classes, she pulled As. So our homeschool grade coincided with the college ones. If they didn't come close- then one of us would of been wrong...and I am afraid that would of been me. You should know instinctively what they earned. This non-testing does not work for every subject, so be sure to keep reading the posts. I will get to those eventually.
There you have it in a nutshell. BF and SL reign supreme again in our household.
Til my next post....
Please note: The suggestions are based on what worked for my family throughout the years. Consider your student's individual needs and learning styles when choosing products. Use other reviews to help you in your decision as well. Remember, if it doesn't work, you can always sell it and try another one. If it does, be sure to let me know! I love positive feedback!
I will post a new thread on each subject so that you can click on whatever one it is you need help with.
With that, I bid you farewell (for the moment :-) )
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Teens enbark on their Tweezer Trek, with plastic bags and tweezies in hand.
One explorer is mine, and the other is our newest student who joined us for the summer session.
Soooooo, this is what we did today, even though it was a blazing and humid one!
Sent the girls out to find anything they could-but the trick was: they had to be able to pick it up with only a pair of tweezers. Yes, so off we strolled to the field to pick nature related products. As you see, one found human nature in there too-hence the plastic plant container. Then they layed them out on paper to help with the drawing of them. The girls decided to color them in with colored pencils, but one could easily of used watercolors or chalks. Tomorrow they have the fun of looking up these finds and listing their Latin (if possible) names, common name and any other info they like to their pages. Then it will be nicely stored in a sheet protector for future viewing.
Tweeze Away fellow nature study friends.
If you don't know of Cindy Rushton, you need to go to her sites and read all she has on Nature Study. She wrote a wonderful book called: Nature Study the Easy Way. This is comb-bound and has laminated covers. You can find this book ($25 new) and others at : http://www.cindyrushton.com/onlineshopping.html
I am sure you can find one thru a resale site too. Check out the vegsource.com/homeschool and look under the 7-12 for sale and perhaps the 4-6 one too. Or homeschoolclassifieds.com, Ebay or amazon.com.
The other little gem I own is called: The Nature Study Idea Book, Ideas for All Ages...Even Your High Schoolers! by Mary E. Woodis. You Can find more on her at : http://www.crookedpinespublishing.com/ and it seems she is selling her book thru Queen's Homeschool at : http://www.queenhomeschool.com/
These sites offer a wonderful array of books that will build your library and build your confidence as well.
I have to say that the following list of books I own are a must have (depending on your budgets of course)....
*Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock
*A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden (I own one because I am in love with it-for most, borrowing it from the library is sufficient enough-good ideas for how to do your nature study books)
*Mrs. Sharp's Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnachs (now this is a real beauty! I love it-written from the point of view of this "Mrs. Sharp" who is 100 plus years or so-she gives monthly ideas on how to entertain and teach the children. Has some great ideas for Nature Tables and such-OOP....which means you need to go thru Amazon or another site that has out of print books. I bought mine for $3 and it is like brand new!)
*Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris (good for adding poems to the pages)
Various other field guides that cover a wide variety of books for identifying specimens.
I see the Queen's Homeschool site has some great nature study related books. Look everywhere for books that can help build your library.
Don't forget your local library too! To save money-borrow books first from your library to see if it is something you really want/need; and then buy what you love. Never spend top dollar if you can get it cheaper thru sites that have them used.
Another great idea that Mary mentioned was a Nature Club. They meet once a month to explore an area and try to focus on a particular subject. They keep it simple (everyone supplies their own things: snacks/drink, art supplies, blankets and so forth) and then the moms sit and relax whilst the children explore their area. They then collect specimens, and draw/look up info on them to create their nature books.
Hope this helps spur a few of you on. It doesn't need to be complicated, or time consuming. Keep is simple, sweet and fun.
I can say, that I found many years ago, Learning Language Arts through Literature and have stuck by them since. I start with the yellow level. I take the time needed to get the reading skills taught then naturally slip into the LLATL there after. This program by Common Sense Press lends itself nicely to the Charlotte Mason way of teaching language skills, but is a bit more structured, which allows for less teacher prep than "going it alone". Each level covers 4 books that are to be read in conjunction with the workbook assignments. I find that when a book has already been read due to it being on our history list, or doesn't quite suit the student: we skip it or find a substitution that is similar in theme.
At the beginning of every lesson, the child is to read the section that they will take dictation from. The teacher then dictates the passage and the student writes it down. Then one is required to find misspelled words, errors in punctuation and then note these for further study.
They then flow into grammar skills, review and other pertinent information to that lesson. It is sufficient for the most part. As the children get older, I add Winston Grammar Basic, and the Advanced to ensure good grammar instruction. Both programs work together nicely.
For the reading of the required books, I simply see how many pages there are to read, and divide them by how many days I want to spend covering it. I create a typed schedule that I give to the student listing how many pages they need to read per day, and when the book is to be finished (if narrating: that is listed too). The younger books can sometimes be read in just a couple sittings, but the older levels have some lengthy ones. Making the reading schedule helped to stay on task, and avoid the non-reading of them.
I know there are many, many programs and lists for what to read out here. I find that using the LLATL ensured we had the basics covered; and yet allowed us to change up and add or delete what we wished. I am a loyalist: so LLATL goes on my top picks. I never really searched for more. That said, I do add in various things, but the main backbone is this program. I like the idea too, that if I had to buy it new-the student and TE would only set me back around $35 with each new student workbook being around $15. Always good for those of us who need to be budget conscience.
for K-5th: LLATL (avoid the workbooks and structure for early readers-they need to fine tune that skill first without overloading with the additionals) I have added Wordly Wise (vocab work) or additional punctuation worksheets when a student needed more coverage of a particular weakness. This is only used when needed. It also helps to keep the peace whilst you are working with another student and need some time to do so. Spelling is well, not something I get too worked up about any more. I will save that for another post.
for 5th-8th: LLATL (check the levels for what is appropriate for your child-it is not unusual to have a student (say) in the 8th grade working at a lower level...some just never had the exposure or need extra time. Do not let the suggested age level hinder you: start where your child needs to and go from there-that is why I like the fact they are color coded-not grade listed on the exterior). Again, the Wordly Wise comes into play for those students needing extra work on areas of difficulty.
This is when Winston Grammar can be introduced as well. I like to wait for the WG until at least the 7th grade. I like to let them learn grammar thru good reading and speaking. If they are reading excellent books, they will naturally know good grammar. DO NOT brow beat the children with too much grammar instruction. That is a good way to kill children's enthusiasm for language arts. WG has 2 levels-basic and advanced. They added a supplementary book for the basic that you can use between the basic/advanced level if your student needs more work/review. I love the way WG is designed. Each child has their own workbook and set of cards. These cards list different areas such as nouns, verbs and so on. For each page a new concept is usually added. They see the sentence and lay out the cards according to what they have learned. For example: the first lesson addresses articles and nouns. They pull out the red article cards, the gray noun cards and the black blank ones. For each word, they lay out what they know and put black ones in place of what they do not. So if the sentence is: The boy and the girl saw a man eat an apple. They would lay out these cards for each word: red, gray, black, red, gray, black, red, gray, black, red, and gray. They would then check the articles, underline the nouns once and leave the rest blank. This goes on, adding new concepts and instruction for how to mark the items. By the time they are done, they can list all the parts of speech, draw arrows that show what they refer to, find the prepositional phrases and their parts, figure out the functions (subject, indirect objects, predicate nominatives) and learn it in an easy, visual, hands-on way. No more dissecting the sentence into some linear creature that truly makes no sense when looking at it. Top Pick: WG all the way!
I would also intro, but usually wait for the 9th grade: Vocabulary from the Classical Roots. Yes, another workbook. We do not do this every day...but rather 2-3x per week (this would take about 15 min. or so). This builds their vocab skills quite nicely. I did one workbook per semester. Both the older children did quite well in the vocabulary part of the ACT. I would like to credit VC from the CR as helping in this area. Plus, knowing what words mean, they can write more proficiently. Always a great bonus!
for 9th-12th: LLATL (wrap up any levels not finished) then (hopefully) by the 1oth grade, start the Gold Level. They have American and British literature. I start with the American. Again, they have books they read independently. These levels are pretty much student directed. I only appeared occasionally to check progress, ask questions or to help with difficult assignments. We do the WG not yet completed until done (the Advanced should be finished by 10th. They also have Word Works, which I have yet to try). Add in the Vocab from Classical Roots and you have a well-rounded language program.
I have not included writing into this post. Too lengthy for this-saving it for another day.
This is what we do for our basic program. Oh, for high school credit: I list it as whatever history they are doing and tag it as such. By that I mean, when we are covering the Medieval history (remember they are reading a lot of books that are literature) I tag the Language Arts as Medieval and Renaissance Literature with a subtitle as English Grammar and Language Study (listed each year we did this). It looks impressive, and is!
Until next time......
If you have one who loathes writing things down, but can easily rattle off everything, perhaps lightening up on the writing (again, this is not forever, eventually they need this skill), and having more oral recitation will do the trick.
Remember that each child is different. One may be reading whilst still in the womb, the other may not read until they have facial hair. Ok, that is being a tad dramatic, but you get the point. One may not visually, or mentally be ready to be reading at 4 or 5. Others are reading novels by 3rd grade. Take each child as they are: individuals. Patience will be the key factor here too.
So, when the posts start popping up, keep these helpful hints in mind. Be sure to research as many books as you can on this subject. I prefer the CM way and phonics for a good language arts program. Of course, for those of us who are eclectic in nature-different components of several programs may come into play. Use what you think will work best.
Over and out.
I have not yet purchased from these folks, but from what I see, they have some great materials that play in nicely to Charlotte's way of thinking and teaching. Check them out.
livingbookscurriculum.com (fellow Michiganders and Christians to boot-awesome)
backyardnature.net (nature study helps via online )
simplycharlottemason.com (info on CM and free ebook)
homeschoolhelperonline.com/notebooking.htm (notebooking ideas and more)
queenhomeschool.com (many products geared toward CM style-good info)
amblesideonline.org (mother of all CM sites, has complete book lists and ideas for all grades)
Another great little ditty I found-uses scrapbooking and notebooking and copywork to create nice scrap-notebooks. Follows the same idea of lapbooks.
Have fun checking these out!
If there is a book about her, I most likely have read it...'cept for maybe one or two I could not get a hold of.
These are the ones that I find best describe CM, have practical and helpful ideas on how to implement them as well.
Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola (first one I read and refer to the most-very good coverage and explanations)
Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
(these are not thick books and could be easily read in one sesson, but they are packed with info-I am constantlly picking them up to click the "refresh button" in my brain)
Charlotte Mason Study Guide by Penny Gardner
Another good go along with these are books that list CM style living books.
For the Love of Learning by Jenny Sockey is a decent find. Not too thick and yet, lists what is essential for your library (mixes both CM and Classical)
I have also read and recommend reading Sally Clarkson's, Educating the Wholehearted Child
and The Mission of Motherhood.
Some very good Summer Reads for you to refresh and rejuvie your homeschooling spirit!