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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Teaching your kids to enjoy life-Priority and Privilege

There is such a beauty in the gift of being able to home school. You have a great opportunity to cultivate deeper relationships with your children than you would if they were off under the care of the public school system for the bulk of the day. This is a special reason we choose homeschooling. Through each subject taught and every moment enjoyed together, there are moments that we can make it count. Every day through teaching my children, I shape the way they see the world around them. Whenever I feel like I am not doing enough to “change the world” for the better, I remember that I am building up and training a generation of young men and through my influence and teaching, I hope that they will be changing the world to the glory of God.
One important thing I make sure never to neglect to teach, is teaching them to enjoy this life that God has given them. I want them to never take for granted, the beautiful things in this life, like a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the sound of the rain falling, the big round moon and all its changes, how the trees seem to have hands raised up to heaven, the lovely sound of the birds singing their morning song and the crickets singing a lullaby. It is so important that they are aware of these beautiful things in a fallen world that threatens to drown out the beauty with all of its seemingly inescapable noise.
I make sure that as we go about our day, I do not neglect to point these things out. It shapes the way they see things, when my 5 yr old exclaims with great joy, “Mommy! Look at the beautiful sky God painted for us!” or when my 3 year old, who incidently is supposed to be sleeping, but is instead staring out his window at the moon, comes to get me urging me to come and look at the big round circle in the sky, “The moon, the moon, what color is it mommy?” It happened to be yellow this particular night. “we have to wake up Joshua, he needs to see the pretty moon.”  afterwards praying, "Thank you God for the stars and moon in the sky." 
I love to take these moments and make them personal, I believe it is important to bring life into the classroom, and take thier learning to another level through hands on activities. For example, since John Carlos was so fascinated by the moon, the next day we did a learning activity about the phases of the moon, where we scratched them into the cream of an oreo cookie. (see previous post moons over my oreo in the food for thought series) Since Joshua had been so amazed by the beautiful sunset, we made our own finger paint and painted sunsets with them.
Today, we are going to just go and enjoy Gods creation by being out doors in the beautiful places, observing and taking it all in. Who knows what kind of teachable moments will come out of our time together, there are always teachable moments, you need to be aware of them, and never let them pass. Being together, enjoying life, it’s such a privilege of homeschooling.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Apples to Apples-Food For Thought Series (3)

Can you compare apples to apples? Absolutely! That’s exactly what we did with Todays history lesson on archaeology. Last lesson, we talked about history, and that it is the study of what happened in the past, we talked about how you can learn history based on what people in the past have written about. But how do we find out the history of a given time, if there were not any letters written. We talked about how studying the things people leave behind, can tell the story of history too.
We learned about Archaeology and did a backyard dig, that they were not as interested in as I had thought they would be. So I brought them in to do another activity in which I had dumped out an entire bag of apples on the table and told Joshua to choose one…He chose one and began eating it…not part of the plan…so I told him to choose another one. I told him to tell me in detail every single thing about the apple he had chosen (the uneaten one of course) I wrote down each distinguishing characteristic he told me
1.       It has a dent on the bottom of the flatter side of it
2.       The stem is brown and skinny with a rounded top
3.       One side sticks out more than the other
4.       Its green around the top
5.       Its green on the bottom with pointy leaves
6.       It has a lot of dots all over it
7.       It is red
Then we placed the apple in a bowl with all the rest of them and I read him back his description and he had to find the apple based on his description. That is what archaeologists do they carefully examine every detail of things to learn about history of a person, place, or thing in time.
We enjoyed the lesson and plan to try it out on daddy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

M+M=MM MM Good Math Time Fun-Food for thought series (2)

My Joshua was feeling less than challenged by the way I was teaching his math facts. I was following the teacher’s manual to a tee and he was frustrated with the repetition and boring way it was being presented. He said, mommy, I need something more challenging than this.
That is the beautiful thing about homeschooling, and also the reason I LOVE it! You have the freedom to teach a lesson any way you want.
For today,  I just taught the basic math fact concepts outlined in the teachers manual, but instead of having him do worksheet after repetitive worksheet, I Pulled out some colorful coffee mugs and a bag of M&M’s and had him create math equations for each of the math facts that he learned.
It is important for kids to understand the why about the math facts and not just memorize until they are blue in the face, otherwise they can have difficulty in later math when logic and other critical thinking components are more important than straight memorized facts. Therefore I had him create a word problem to illustrate each equation, which was quite comical at times. I also gave him word problems and he had to make the equation with the M&M’s. The bonus was, when he got it right he got to eat the answer! We did that until we ran out of enough M&M’s. Then split the lot J
Then I wrote equations on the board using the math facts we were covering and he had to tell me a word problem to go with it, and I would say a word problem and he would write the equation on the board. Then I even wrote an equation on the board and said he wanted to write the word problem out in pictures, "One beach ball bouncing on the waves, plus two beach balls bouncing on the waves, equals 3 beach balls bouncing on the waves." I love it!
He replied at the end. Mom, that was much more challenging, thanks!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Moons over my Oreo -Food For Thought Series (1)

This is my first post in my "Food for thought" series, on using food as a motivational and fun way to teach.

One great thing about home schooling is having the freedom to teach whatever you want, whenever you want, and however you want.  A great example of this is what I did today with my boys as a result of my 3 year old John Carlos fascination with the moon all of a sudden.  Last night, I heard some thumping around when he was supposed to be going to bed and found him staring out at the full moon. It was shining bright in a sort of yellowish hue. He was saying, the moon, the moon, I see the moon! What color is it mommy? So we talked about the moon and looked at it through binoculars, it was a moment to be cherished.  I told him it was time to say “Goodnight Moon,” but that we would learn more about the moon tomorrow.

So I found a cute lesson plan online at one of my favorite websites for free learning printables and ideas, www.teachmama.com  whereby you use the cream of the oreo to make the moon into all of the moons different phases. They had fun with it and Joshua, my 5yr old was fascinated by the way the phases are changed by the different positions of the sun, moon and earth, and practiced moving the sun and earth into the correct placements above each phase, using the sun as a vanilla oreo and another chocolate oreo as the earth.

It was a fun way to teach these things, I don’t think John Carlos Got it 100% but he enjoyed eating the cookies and frosting and we even crushed up the leftover oreo tops that no one wanted in paper bags by stepping on them…any boy will love that idea…we will be rolling our vanilla ice cream cones in the crushed oreos to make it look like our favorite phase of the moon, after supper tonight. Great times!