Haiku: Poetry my boys loved and my daughter hated

November 1, 2011


For writing today, I remembered a style of poetry we had a lot of fun with in school – Haiku.

It’s a Japanese style of poetry that based on a theme or image. However, it doesn’t usually rhyme. Instead it has a syllable pattern: 5 syllables for the first line, 7 for the second, and 5 for the third. (Clapping out syllables for a few example words and sentences really helped the younger kids.)

After explaining the basics, we wrote one together:

Kids running around
Making a lot of messes
Fun for everyone

Then the rest of the gang came up with one each on their own:


Our 11-year-old, in reference to his latest favorite game: Minecraft:
Mine some wood from trees
Make some wooden swords and tools
Go kill a creeper


My 10-year-old daughter stormed off, insisting “I’m going to do my own writing, instead of this dumb poetry”, proving that no lesson works for everyone and that puberty emotions are in full force at age 10.¬† ūüôā


Our 8-year-old boy:
I like Halloween
I can’t wait to trick or treat
Big bag of candy


And proving that imitation is the sincerely form of flattery, from our 6-year-old boy:

I like Halloween
People wear scary costumes
Big bags of candy


Overall a fun writing unit when you need a break from the daily grind.

Enjoy!

Posted under Writing Curriculum

Using Music and the Acoustic Guitar to Help Accelerate Your Child’s Learning and Brain Development – Guest Post

September 8, 2011

(Thank you to Aaron Schulman, for this guest post!)

Learning for every developing child requires several modalities to help a child to develop into a well-rounded and functional adult in a demanding society. With a structured, healthy home-life, a foundation of safety and good nurturing in tact, a child has a head-start over his or her peers who experience a more disruptive or unstable home life. However, considering many students whose homes are safe-havens for solid self-esteem and healthy development, not all students with similar family foundations develop at the same rate, or gravitate toward the same modalities of learning and intelligence types, nor do these variable guarantee educational success for developing children.

In fact, some students in public school find that the models of teaching and learning linguistics and logical-mathematical modalities (the majority of curriculum in public schools), can be quite challenging because their specific, individual strengths or gifts may reside in other areas of intelligence. Parents have noticed that because our modern societies and the educational almost demand that children learn to be successful while utilizing only two or three-sevenths of the ‚Äúmultiple-intelligences‚ÄĚ that have been discovered (otherwise known as learning styles), many gifted students find themselves struggling with main-stream education that does not focus on or help to develop their unique learning strengths, styles or bents.

More than just Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

These seven learning styles (or multiple-intelligences as developed by Howard Gardner, developmental psychologist) are:

  • Linguistic (verbal and written communication)
  • Logical-mathematical (logical analytical skills)
  • Visual (spatial-creative thinking in abstract ways or dimensions)
  • Bodily-kinesthetic (using coordinated body movements to accomplish tasks)
  • Musical (musical aptitude and ability)
  • Interpersonal (development of ‚Äúextravert‚ÄĚ or other people oriented tendencies)
  • Intrapersonal (development of ‚Äúintrovert‚ÄĚ or internal oriented tendencies)

Utilizing musical instruments (such as the acoustic guitar or drums) early and throughout the child’s development can help foster a sense of self-esteem, kinesthetic, musical, intrapersonal and interpersonal development and connection, while parents can invest more quality time with their growing children. Additionally, more advanced musical instruction as the child grows older can help develop more strengths in the visual, linguistic and logical-mathematical areas as well due to music’s demands on those skills or intelligence areas in order to become adept at learning, reading and playing music from written scores.

Personal experience and a bit of real science

From this author’s perspective as both an educator and a parent, using and encouraging musical development in children at an early age is a great way to invest in one’s child for self-esteem, a richer life experience, and some other developmental and educational benefits. Though there are a lot of peer-reviewed psychological journal articles that link formal music education to higher analytical and spatial intelligence development, (such as the Mozart effect on spatial memory enhancement and Dr. Gottfried Schlaug’s studies on higher corpus callosum growth in music students, this article’s focus is not to delve into the technical science behind the benefits of music, but the more practical benefits that can be realized.

When an parent uses music or a musical instrument to begin to share experience with his or her child, even at early ages preceding 12 months, one can witness a positive response. Children at very early ages, without any ability for verbal communication can begin to sense rhythm in music and can begin to move their little arms and legs (kinesthetic and musical intelligence) as they experience the rhythm of music. But that is not all that is occurring in their little developing brains. Studies have shown that children who begin to learn formal music before the age of 7 actually develop a more robust corpus callosum (the neural network that connects both left and right halves of the brain), showing that music learning enhances both the development of the logical-mathematical (ST or spatial temporal) parts of the brain and the Language-Analytical (LA reasoning) area of the brain. Much like a muscle in early development, the more that different parts of the brain are used in tandem in a positive, productive learning activity such as music, the more they appear to develop together: the corpus callosum actually determines how well both hemispheres of the brain interact or communicate with each other, and those who have been trained well in music have a higher connectivity between brain hemispheres.


About the author: Aaron Schulman is an avid guitar player, musician, father, husband, teacher and web developer. He enjoys writing, teaching and developing websites, including his acoustic guitar reviews site, strumviews.com. After having a poor experience with his first guitar purchase, he studied guitar construction practices and began helping people make more informed guitar purchases. He has written many online guitar lessons, articles and reviews, including finding the ‚Äúbest acoustic guitars under 1000‚ÄĚ. Before buying an acoustic guitar for a child or yourself, he recommends researching to learn first how a quality acoustic guitar is made.

Posted under Music Curriculum

Math Practice a Little Boring? Try Candy Math

January 20, 2011

The Homeschool Freebie of the Day site has a fun .pdf available today:

Candy Math has some fun ideas to ‘sweeten’ math practice with your little ones.¬† (You can use cereal or something like goldfish crackers if you want to avoid the sweets).

Enjoy!

Posted under Math Curriculum

Free High School Math and everything else you ever wanted to learn

January 19, 2011

I was looking online for some ideas to teach Algebra.  I stumbled on these great videos all done by a man named Salman Kahn.  In each video, he picks one concept and then walks the viewer through it step-by-step.

It turns out that Salman Kahn had a younger cousin who needed a bit of long distance math tutoring.  From that small start, he has created the Khan Academy with thousands of YouTube videos explaining math concepts plus a myriad of other topics in short 10 Р20 minute chunks.

Read the inspirational story of Salman Kahn (under the FAQ tab), the man behind all the educational videos.  His ambition is to provide a world-class university level education to the world for free.   Khan Academy provides lectures similar to online universities from some of the best colleges out there.  His work is really a great contribution of knowledge to everyone in the world.

On his home page, he has over 70 video explaining the Algebra I concepts in an organized list.  Directly below it are another 180 videos working Algebra I problems with step-by-step explanations.

It’s an entire video Algebra I curriculum, entirely free! ¬†If you explore the tabs and rest of the page, you’ll find videos on tons of other topics as well.

After my son finishes his Math 7 curriculum in the next month or so, he’s planning on working his way through the Algebra I videos. ¬†We’ll post an update about how it goes.

Has anyone else used the Kahn Academy videos?  How did they work for you and which ones did you like the best?

Enjoy!

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Where to find Free Ebooks – Guest Post

December 11, 2010

(Thank you to Alisa Gilbert for this guest post on a few places to find free Ebooks!)

Places Homeschool Moms Can Find Free eBooks

Some of my favorite tech gadgets of late are eReaders whether it be a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader or even the super-cool iPad, which serves as an eReader among other purposes. Avid readers can carry around one of these lightweight contraptions capable of holding hundreds of eBooks instead of lugging around tons of books or filling their already overflowing shelves. I also happen to think eReaders are a great tool for a homeschooling mom.

These eReaders can be quite the investment (particularly if you opt for the iPad), so it’s nice to have a few web resources up your sleeve where you can download free eBooks.

    1. Probably one of the best-known resources for free eBooks is Project Gutenberg. The site allows you to search by author or title, and is chock full of excellent classic literature to supplement an at-home English or literature class. The site only offers books with expired copyrights; many of the titles were written by authors who have passed away, so no one’s losing money as a result of you using this site.Of the 33,000 titles you can download here, many are classics you likely have built into your curriculum, such as A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol (perfect for the holidays!) by Charles Dickens, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. For older students, there are more complex works, like Moby Dick, Metamorphosis and War and Peace. You can also find fiction works here other than the classics.

  • You can also do an advanced book search on the newly launched Google Books and download numerous titles in the public domain. All you do is mark that you are searching for titles that are “full view only” and your searches will bring up books that are available for download in their entirety. I found Great Expectations and The Jungle Book here in a casual search.

  • Sony’s eBook store is also a good place to find free eBooks in the public domain.

  • Another good site is Free E-Book, where in my most recent searches I found books like The Red Badge of Courage, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Call of the Wild all available for free download.

  • Barnes & Noble also has some titles available for free if you happen to have the Nook. Take a look at the free Nook Books available. You may want to be careful though. A lot of them are harlequin romance novels that probably won’t give your child the right kind of education! There are some useful titles, though, like The Scarlet Letter and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Enjoy!

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree.

Places Homeschool Moms Can Find Free eBooks

Some of my favorite tech gadgets of late are eReaders whether it be a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader or even the super-cool iPad, which serves as an eReader among other purposes. Avid readers can carry around one of these lightweight contraptions capable of holding hundreds of eBooks instead of lugging around tons of books or filling their already overflowing shelves. I also happen to think eReaders are a great tool for a homeschooling mom.

These eReaders can be quite the investment (particularly if you opt for the iPad), so it’s nice to have a few web resources up your sleeve where you can download free eBooks.

Probably one of the best-known resources for free eBooks is Project Gutenberg. The site allows you to search by author or title, and is chock full of excellent classic literature to supplement an at-home English or literature class. The site only offers books with expired copyrights; many of the titles were written by authors who have passed away, so no one’s losing money as a result of you using this site.

Of the 33,000 titles you can download here, many are classics you likely have built into your curriculum, such as A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol (perfect for the holidays!) by Charles Dickens, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. For older students, there are more complex works, like Moby Dick, Metamorphosis and War and Peace. You can also find fiction works here other than the classics.

You can also do an advanced book search on the newly launched Google Books and download numerous titles in the public domain. All you do is mark that you are searching for titles that are “full view only” and your searches will bring up books that are available for download in their entirety. I found Great Expectations and The Jungle Book here in a casual search. Sony’s eBook store is also a good place to find free eBooks in the public domain.

Another good site is Free E-Book, where in my most recent searches I found books like The Red Badge of Courage, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Call of the Wild all available for free download.

Barnes & Noble also has some titles available for free if you happen to have the Nook. Take a look at the free Nook Books available. You may want to be careful though. A lot of them are harlequin romance novels that probably won’t give your child the right kind of education! There are some useful titles, though, like The Scarlet Letter and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed byAlisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics ofbachelors degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:alisagilbert599@gmail.com.

Posted under Reading Curriculum, Social Studies Websites

End Tonight – 20 Free Homeschool Items at CurrClick

November 30, 2010

CurrClick

Ending tonight at 10 pm EST, Currclick has 20 Homeschool Freebies as a ‘Cyber Monday bonus.’¬† If you’ve never tried Currclick’s¬†electronic homeschool curriculum, now is a great chance.

For example, they’ve got a “Christmas Around the World Unit Study”, “Give Thanks” – a Thanksgiving history and scripture unit, a polar bear unit, “Polar Christmas” – a lapbook unit to accompany “The Polar Express”, and a lot more.

Enjoy!

Posted under Homeschool Curriculum

Fun and Easy Way to Learn All the Math Facts – Math Rider Review

November 8, 2010

I’m always looking for easy ways to get kids excited and learning their math tables.

Drilling math facts has got to be one of the more boring and arduous tasks of early math education.¬† It’s often as hard on the parents as the kids.

We just found something new to add to our math toolbox.¬† In return for an honest review, our family was offered a trial copy of a fun game called Math Rider.¬† My 9-year-old daughter sat down the first time and spent almost an hour jumping her horse, ‘Shadow’, over addition fact obstacles on the quest to save the princess.¬† She enjoyed the game so much, that the math practice was swallowed along with the ‘spoonful of sugar’ added by the game.¬† (See the end of the post for what the kids said about the game)

MathRider - A New Intelligent Math Game

Here is what we think:

The Math:

  • Drills all 4 sets of math facts from 1 – 12, starting with addition and progressing to subtraction, multiplication, and then division.
  • The game automatically figures out the speed to present the math and which questions to choose based on how the child is doing.¬† The faster they are answering, the faster the new questions come.¬† And they see the ones they have trouble with more often.¬† We found it to be very well adapted to the skill level of each child.
  • With easy, medium, advanced, and mastery levels for each type of math problems, the math facts are introduced in small chunks at a time, making them easier to learn.

The Game:

  • All my children can have their own accounts with different log-ins.
  • Controls are easy.¬† You only need to type in the numbers and hit enter for the horse, Shadow, to jump the obstacles.

  • The quest is broken up into ‘rides’ that last 30 questions, which is a nice chunk to keep interest without getting bored.¬† Then each ‘ride’ is plotted on a section of the map, so the player can see their progress in the quest.

  • The story is fun and there are rewards for each completed level that the player gets to keep in their home field.

The Feedback on how the math is going:

  • If you miss a problem, your horse Shadow stops, and the problem and the answer appear in big numbers on the screen while a voice recites the math fact.
  • After each ride, there is a row of bars for each problem attempted.¬† Green bars mean you answered the problem faster than previously.¬† Yellow is slightly slower and a red bar is a lot slower.¬† The kids can easily see how they’re doing visually.¬† Mouse over any bar to get details about the specific problem.

  • There is a statistics page showing all the facts currently being attempted with details about each.

  • A running score and percentage of mastery is kept.¬† Further visual feedback of your progress is given by how high your flag is on the flagpole
  • Prizes are earned for each level completed.

Cost

  • Current sale price is $37 with 30 day money back guarantee for any reason.

Cons:

  • The story line is the same for all four math operations, although the prizes do change.¬† My son was a little disappointed that the quest didn’t continue with a new storyline when he advanced to subtraction.
  • My oldest son is spoiled by state-of-the-art graphics and thought the drawn characters were a bit ‘kiddie’ looking.
  • There is some frustration at about the 85% mastery level where two of my kids seemed to get stuck, completing ride after ride, but not reaching mastery level.¬† I think this may resolve with a bit more practice typing numbers accurately.

What the kids think:

Review by Alex, 11-years-old

“I liked how he turned simple flash card problems into a computer game and made it with a medieval storyline.¬† I think it’s a fun way to do my math.¬† I like that it has all four types of problems, addition, subtraction, multiplication,and division.”

Review by Brooke, 9-years-old.

“I really love it.¬† It puts fun things in a game, but it’s really just math.¬† I like how it tells stories to you about math.”

Review by Chris, 7-years-old.

“I like it because it’s pretty easy and it’s kind of fun . . . and it’s easier than my other math :-)”

In summary, I found MathRider to be highly beneficial to my kids ‚Äď mastering fundamental math is a key to all the math they will learn in the future.¬†¬†If you have kids who are struggling with math or could use a boost in their abilities and/or confidence, then I recommend you give MathRider a try.¬† Here is the link once more:¬† Math Rider.

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Awesome Free Hovercraft Science Experiment

September 22, 2010

Looking for a fun science experiment?¬† Here’s a fun freebie offered by Supercharged Science.¬† Your kids build a miniature hovercraft out of an old CD and a water bottle – it’s pretty cool.¬† We’ve tried out a bunch of their freebies, and the kids really enjoy them.¬†

Why we like them:

  • They usually start with a fun experiment and Aurora Lipper, who does the teaching in the videos, gets the kids¬†immediately involved doing something.¬†
  • She explains each step so they can follow along even without your help.¬† (Yay!¬† Keep a couple kids busy while you’re helping the others)
  • The parts required are usually household items you already have or can get easily.
  • And then she’ll introduce the science part during or after the equipment.¬†
  • It’s a great way to get the kids excited about science and then slip the teaching in while they’re distracted.

FYI РYou do have to type in your email address to get their freebies. (No spam)  They give out a lot of quality, free experiment videos as advertising for their paid options.

What is your favorite homeschool science curriculum?  Share with other readers who are looking for ideas!

Posted under Science Curriculum

Squeeze some Education into your Percy Jackson Addict.

June 24, 2010

My son just finished devouring the Percy Jackson series this year and promptly went to the library and checked out a stack of books on Greek mythology.¬† He’s really been enjoying the stories of the Odyssey and the adventures of the Greek heroes.¬† I’m happy to squeeze some history, philosophy, and¬†educational discussions in without him realizing it.¬† ūüôā

If you have¬†fellow Ancient Greek enthusiasts, point them to¬†a¬†fun¬†interactive website with¬†a whole section on Ancient Greece called “Odyssey Online.”¬† They also have sections on the Near East, Egypt, Rome,¬†Africa¬†and the Ancient Americas, with pictures of museum objects, puzzles, games, and worksheets.

Enjoy!

Posted under History Curriculum

How’d I Get My 4-year-old to Read Books on His Own?

June 8, 2010

Doesn’t he look so proud of himself?

Well, it was mostly him.¬† I just kept offering him all kinds of reading and spelling options, and he¬†did the rest.¬† He’s¬†on his 12th “I See Sam” reader already.¬† We’ve used a mish-mash of things, letting him set the pace and enjoy it.¬† He’s switched¬†through a bunch of different activites, since I didn’t want to force him into anything.¬† It’s worked really well doing that, since he’s¬†so enthusiastic.¬†¬†And as soon as he starts getting tired with one learning method,¬†I give him a bunch of other¬†choices and he’s gets all excited again.

If you’re curious about the reading ‘mish-mash’ we used or need some ideas, here’s the info:

First, he did the¬†first individual letter lessons in The Ordinary Parent‚Äôs Guide to Teaching Reading¬†by Jessie Wise.¬† It is¬†my favorite of all the phonics instruction books I‚Äôve used and even better, is available for less than $20 on Amazon.¬†¬†Short daily lessons¬†keep it from being boring, and if you’re looking to help older readers with spelling troubles, this book is very complete, working¬†it’s way through things like¬†the sounds of ‘ough’ or the many ways to spell the ‘oo’ sound.¬†¬† (Here’s my review)

When we got to the simple word lessons – sat, rat, cat, etc., he had a very, very difficult time ‘adding’ the sounds together.¬† He would get the ‘s’, ‘a’, and ‘t’ sounds but not be able to combine them at all.¬† I tried voicing the sounds in a slow drawl and gradually saying them closer together, but no go.¬† He wouldn’t get it until I practically said the word for him.¬†

So, I figured it was¬†time for a different approach.¬† The other kids have been doing themed spelling lists on the amazing free www.SpellingCity.com (Here’s my review).¬† Tim had been bugging me for his own spelling list, so I told him that instead of reading he could do spelling.¬† We made a few 3-letter word lists together and I let him go at it.¬† He loved playing the games with his words and before I knew it, by 4-year-old was acing his 5 word lists – even typing them in by himself.¬† He was so proud of himself.¬† I’m also a little astounded by how fast the kids master the keyboard and mouse!

Have fun practicing your spelling words

During this time, he also spent a lot of time playing around with the great phonics and stories on Starfall.com and listened to Tumblebooks for free through our library’s subscription.

The spelling was the key.¬† Playing with the letters and spelling his own words helped him make the connection needed to combine sounds into words.¬†¬†After a few weeks,¬†my husband mentioned that with his great spelling, he could probably read a book on his own.¬†¬†He was excited to try.¬†¬†We used my favorite early readers:¬† The “I See Sam” series (My review here).¬†¬†He’s been reading a book a day and loving it!¬†

The stories are silly, so the kids enjoy them.¬†¬†What also makes them so successful is that¬†the words are introduced one at a time, and unlike other early readers, there are no unknown words in the books.¬† Each book introduces a few new words, and then only uses words you’ve already learned.¬† This means that after the¬†kids learn the¬†new words for each book, they can read the books completely on their own.¬† It’s such an accomplishment to read a book on your own at such a young age.¬† We use the Little Series 1 and 2, and then move on to reading other books.

The ‚ÄúI See Sam‚ÄĚ Readers

I hope this helps with reading ideas.¬† Do you have any books, websites, or reading curriculum that you really enjoy?¬† I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy!

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Posted under Reading Curriculum