Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Learning to read and write

I've been organising and decluttering and selling and freecycling over the summer and as I came across the remnants of our early homeschooling days I thought it might be helpful for someone if I documented some of the things we did when we were just starting out, so here is something from a few years ago!
Dd2 was very keen to 'do school' from before she was ready really, but that is the lot of a younger sibling I guess!  So, I had to come up with lots of ideas which looked like 'school' but weren't actually too taxing and here is one of them.  I printed out the outlines of letters from sparklebox using 'Large alphabet letters for tracing (Ref: SB606)' which is towards the bottom of this page and then we used different materials to fill the outlines.  We did other work on each letter simultaneously, looking at only one or maybe two per week.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Truth Is ...

The truth is, that I don't do all the teaching myself!  At the end of each term we try to make a small gift and write a short note to say thank you to the other adults who help round out our homeschool life.  This usually turns into a mini education in itself - a bit of thinking, a bit of planning, a bit of maths, a bit of writing, a bit of (food-based!) handiwork and a good dollop of gratitude!  We had a first go at using coloured fondant earlier today to say thank you to the tennis coaches - it was great fun, let's hope they don't melt by the time we get to the courts in half an hour!

And here's what we made the next day for the amazing volunteer Brownie leaders (it takes a lot of leaders to keep the Brownies in check!) - what a self sacrificing job they do!

I was impressed by the smiley faces - well executed and they really jolly up the little cakes!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Planned and Unplanned Nature Study

I have been trying to revitalise our nature studies recently - we've been following Edith Holden's The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady  (which I picked up second hand from Amazon for less than £3) to compare the weather and what she observed when out and about with what we see in our garden and on our dog walks.  I've also got hold of a copy of Keeping a Nature Journal from eBay which we've been flicking through from time to time to see how naturalists record their observations in a less formal way.  The third thing we've been doing is making more of an effort to keep a nature log of things we see.

However, despite all this planning and provision of resources, it was God's bounty which really got us going yesterday!  Whilst walking the dog in some local woods I suddenly spotted a small dead mammal.  Dd2 photographed it and we talked about what it was etc.  A little later on the walk dd2 accidentally deleted the photograph so we decided to take a diversion on the way home and try to find the little creature again for another photograph to be taken.  Eventually we came upon it and took some more photographs.  As we were leaving dd2 asked if she could have a dog poo bag, pick up the creature and take it home to show Daddy - well, I was game for this and we brought it home, looked it up in various books and gathered some more information about it.  Dd1 wasn't so interested (possibly a bit too sad that it was dead!) so she remembered something she'd seen recently and drew that instead.

Incidentally, if you are interested in studying nature with your children a good place to start is this page of a blog called Handbook of Nature Study.   The ideas can easily be used in a small back yard/garden, a public park or a large swathe of countryside!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Personal Spelling Books

A long time ago when I was still a school teacher I was shown a really useful way for children to create their own spelling books.  There's a fine balance to be struck between letting a child write without correcting any spellings at all, and correcting every single spelling!
To make these personal spelling books I used old vocabulary books, although folding and stapling lined paper to make a little book would work just as well.  I drew a vertical line down the middle of each page and labelled each page with a letter from the alphabet in both upper and lower case.  w and x share a page and y and z share a page in our books.  
When the child falls upon a word they don't think they can spell they start sounding it out, decide what they think the initial phoneme is and find that page (with a large enough book all the phonemes could be used rather than just the letters of the alphabet) and then have a go at writing the word on the left hand side of the vertical line.  They show it to the teacher/parent/helper and they either give it a tick if it is correct or write it correctly on the right hand side of the vertical line if there is a mistake.  
Sometimes a child will get the initial phoneme wrong e.g. they sound out 'enough' and on the page for i they write 'inuf' - simply write 'enough' next to their attempt and also enter it on the page for e so that when they start to remember that 'enough' begins with e they will be able to find it again in their personal spelling book.

I have recently started getting my girls to keep their spelling books in their pencil pots so they get used more often!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Sunflowery Art

We are continuing to work through The art book for children (White book) and have just spent some time on pages 54-55 looking at Sunflower by Vincent Van Gogh which we followed up with this activity from the amazing Art Projects for Kids.  We also watched this youtube video about using oil pastels.  And here is what we came up with:

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

North American Indian project

I can't quite remember how we decided to do a project on North American/Native American Indians but we certainly enjoyed it, however it started!  We did this project in Spring/Summer 2012 just after our Arctic/Antarctic project.

We used this book to inspire us to get busy with our hands. 

And a couple of information books from The British Museum along with many library books to help us both answer questions and find new ones to ask!

We made a teepee:

We made head-dresses: 

and tried them on:

We made some North American Indian food:

including drying grapes to make raisins:

We learnt how they travelled but decided not to make a life-size travois and put it on our dog, so this little toy had to take the strain instead!

We made toys:

and a papoose:

We used worksheets from Enchanted Learning, picked up lots of good ideas through this website and did a whole heap of things from here!

The topics we covered were: Where they lived, What they wore, Indians and Pilgrims (which span off into What is Thanksgiving?), Buffalo, What they ate, What they believed, How they travelled, How they spoke and wrote, How they raised their children.

As a story we read Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (but be warned it's not a classic happy ending and one child's disobedience costs him his life).  We also were reading the parts of Our Island Story and This Country of Ours by H E Marshall which corresponded with the discovery of America as part of our  history/read alouds.