Puppets- through the primary years

Learning through play is a term used in education and psychology to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them. Through play children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments.”

As a former Early Childhood Educator this was the foundation of all activities and lesson plans in the classroom, children naturally learn through play when exposed to materials that stimulate imagination and creativity- which is now implemented in my home as well.

Recently I have noted how the use of puppets has really impacted my sons learning. We visit the library regularly (as most homeschoolers do!) and each time he borrows a puppet to take home. I didn’t think much of it at first….but, now I see that they are very influential and a useful vehicle across the curriculum!

  1. They create critical thinking.
  2. Foster creativity and design
  3. effective tool in writing and vocabulary
  4. Science and Research-STEM
  5. Provide a focus for play
  6. Art becomes active-drawing and constructing
  7. Emotional development and empathy
  8. Responsibility

With every puppet he borrows, he comes up with a name for it. He has so many questions about their habitat, life span, and diet etc. that we end up on the computer researching all about it! -(critical thinking,science, research, vocabulary expansion)

Through his play with them he ends up making lists, building habitats and making signs- he becomes attached and responsible and takes care of each puppet while it’s at our home. -(focus for play, art, writing, constructing, responsibility and creativity)

Simple, sweet and effective! So far he has borrowed such animals as: crow, turtle, penguin, otter, groundhog, an owl and more!

He says ” Puppets are fun because I can pretend to be them and control them!”

 

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Drawing and Writing

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building a crows nest using math

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A good read here:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09575146.2010.529425?journalCode=ceye20 “Observations of active learning in class Two classroom types were observed: traditional approach and an active learning/play-based approach. In the traditional approach the children were engaged in many actions, including listening; looking; chanting responses; giving answers; counting, adding; measuring; making number stories; identifying words, letters, sounds and rhymes; rehearsing tasks/skills; responding to behavior rules; using the interactive Smartboard; assembling; tidying; waiting; and demonstrating disengagement. In the second classroom type, the play-based/active learning, observers noticed the children giving answers; negotiating roles with others; ordering words or numbers; copying patterns and drawing pictures; listening to stories and songs; using the computer or Smartboard; practice reading; did jigsaw puzzles; building with construction materials; measuring, counting, and adding up; lining up, clearing up, moving around. More signs of disengagement were observed in the traditional learning environment. “

Subtracting and Adding- 10 Healthy Habits

The perfect cup of coffee, sun shining on my face, or nailing that pose in yoga!…..

The secret of Happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy Less. (Socrates)

Looking back I have always been a minimalist. It’s not something I work at or find hard to maintain. I have always chosen to surround myself with  people and possessions  that “feel good” to me- it’s always been quality over quantity.

Subtracting and adding as I meander through life. I know subtracting people from your life may sound harsh, but I do believe that some people are meant to be in your life always, some for a short time and others are just for a certain period in your life. Relationships should be based on common interests, humor, moral character, like mindedness, and those are things that tend to evolve as we grow. I have always chosen to fill my surroundings much in the same way, with things that have a person meaning, memories or that bring me happiness when I look at them. I have never cared about brand names, or having something just to say I have it. I prefer cozy over commercial. I prefer the natural, pretty and subtle. I prefer to spend time with a person who has great stories to tell over great possessions to show.

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In keeping my life simplistic and minimal, along with following these healthy habits, (most days) are lived intentionally.

  1. Yoga practice– at least 4 x a week.
  2. Enjoy nature– hiking, fresh air, sunshine, exercise, nature journal entries, enjoying the seasons- all good for the body and soul!
  3. Taking time for myself– quiet cup of coffee or taking time to paint, taking a walk. Some days all I need is 5 minutes, other days a couple hours would be great!
  4. Balanced diet– If one day is filled with quick meals and a dinner party, I make sure the next is filled with fruits, veggies and water.
  5. Don’t Compare – I try not to compare myself to others at all. Every single person is different, and that’s a good thing! I look to others for inspiration.
  6. Lemon Water– simple, yet so beneficial and effective! It is the only thing I drink everyday all day.
  7. Reading– curling up with a good book- whether it be for educational purposes or personal enjoyment. I read frequently and try to stay off social media for blocks of time.
  8. Routine– though not set by a clock , I tend to eat and sleep at about the time each day. I have found a natural rhythm to my days and tend to stick with it. As much as I get sick of routine, I also count on it….if that makes any sense!?
  9. Minimalist– keep it simple in all areas- less to worry about, less to clean, less to stay organized, less errands – essentially equals less work/more play!
  10. Family/Friends– being present and making personal connections and having meaningful conversations; play a  key role in food for the heart, mind and soul.

Please share your healthy habits! Have a great day!

Nature of homeschooling- What’s the meaning behind the name?

I would say I began homeschooling with a leap of faith…I had no idea what it really entailed or what it would come to mean for myself and my family.  As all things new to us, I did research: library books, connected with the one person I knew at the time who had homeschooled her children from the get go, felt out the support from those around me and…jumped into it. Sink or swim, here we go!

Well, that was almost 7 years ago now, and though I took some time off from blogging, the name of my blog has always brought me back to why we began homeschooling in the first place. I guess you could say the name and meaning of  “Nature of Homeschooling” has several key meanings to me.

  1. When my oldest asked me to homeschool him (I had never even thought of the possibility of homeschooling) he… I guess you could say WE were struggling through the “normal” routines of society- you go to school and I work 40 hours a week like most families…that’s how life goes, right?!  Well, we were both stressed out. He was bored at school, I was stressed at work. Family time was minimal (quality family time) etc., etc.- So,  The best advice I had gotten was, ” If you want to homeschool, then you CAN do it!” It’s a natural occurance…you naturally teach your child everyday, and children are naturally curious and learn naturally each day. Image result for nature is our greatest teacher quotes
  2. The second meaning of the name for me is that I want my children to spend as much time outdoors as possible! We hike as often as possible and learn something new each time. The quote above is one of my favorites! I also wanted my children to learn at their own pace. As homeschoolers you often here people ask “Aren’t you worried they ‘ll be behind?” My response, “Behind Who?” Do you think every 10, 20 or 50 year old have exactly the same knowledge? To me as long as I see them making personal accomplishments and setting their own goals- I’m good!

So….Long story short: nature is an important part of our homeschool, children are natural learners, we are all in this journey called life on our own path and we might as well enjoy it.  Nature is our greatest teacher! -Simple, Natural -Balanced and ever-changing and growing!

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Circle the Stars

This morning we started with an alphabet rhyme from A to Z. I saw it in a movie or a show a few days ago (though I can not remember where exactly) and thought it would be a fun way to start the day.  We sat in a circle and went around alphabetically completing the phrase- goes something like this:

Allie went to Alaska with Apples-Bob went to the Bahamas with Brussel sprouts, all the way to -Zander went to Zimbabwe with Zebras!

Some letters were pretty hard! 🙂

We then listened to an audio book about a  Dragon, a story called Dragon Rider .  Dragons must find refuge as the humans are planning to destroy their valley, on his journey he meets a boy named Ben and they become a team!

Liam then went on to finish the last two chapters in his podcast he’s been listening to. He really enjoyed it and learned a lot of science and history along the way. Luke and I worked on the “ap” family on Reading Eggs, then math in a workbook about Space, which then led to him drawing up his own constellation! -A platypus constellation named “John, the platypus.”

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This morning I set out an entire table with some hands on math activities, so they did some work with the  geo-board, fractions and multiplication activities.


We have used the Waldorf style multiplication circles before and reintroduced them to Luke who was very young the last time they were out. It is a great skip counting way to practice the multiplication facts. Liam went through each one and showed him and refreshed his memory as well. For Luke’s reference I also had the facts written out in flowers and the completed stars laid out on the table.

The boys also read a short multiplication “M” poem out of our LMNOP book and watched some birds out back for a bit, then they made their lunch and listened to an American History Story about the start of the revolutionary war based on how taxes currently work in our society.

And, that wraps up our morning, I’m sure there will be some Minecraft played this afternoon as it has made a big come back in this house!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

The Wheels are Turning

After a busy weekend of skiing and birthday parties, I figured we’d start this week with some fun!

I came across the book Mr. Ferris and his wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis. A beautiful picture book on the invention and construction of the Ferris wheel. Many historic notes and a successful underdog story to inspire!

After we read the story together, the boys constructed a ferris wheel of their own!

After that they separated and Luke worked on his next level in Reading Eggs online and Liam worked in his math journal. (They both used to despise these subjects, but recently each of them found a way to enjoy them) so I actually got to walk away and watch the wheels of success finally turning for them! Luke is doing great with this reading program and Liam says he really loves this creative way of doing his math. Yay!

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Reading in his fort!

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Doodling in his Math Journal

 

Next, we all came back together to start a new class on Khan Academy called Pixar in a Box. The first session showed us the mathematical uses in animation simulation. They each took turns manipulating the hair on the girl from Brave, using segments and gravity.

The day was wrapped up with Liam playing his ukulele and then listening to a science fiction podcast- a story about a zombie apocalypse. Luke played a math app adding and subtracting with double digits, then continued working on his Minecraft project.

We all agreed, it was a good school day! Phew!

Lines and Polygons

What is a line? What are polygons? How are they related? – Those were some of today’s thoughts and investigations!

A polygon is a figure that is closed with straight lines, regular or irregular shaped.  A line is a straight one-dimensional figure having no thickness and extending infinitely in both directions.

I asked the boys to find a polygon in the room. One answer was the rug we were sitting on, the walls, the windows and the best I thought was- the groove in the marble on the fireplace!

So why is this important and worth spending a morning on? Well, for starters it’s the beginnings of geometry and geometric terminology.  Polygons and lines are used in everyday life- mapping out land, engineers use them, painters use them, gardeners use them! They are applicable in almost everything that we do that requires the planning of materials for a structure or of a space.

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We read two great books about lines and then I handed them each a large piece of yarn for them to create their own images using a line.

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tracing his finger along- bonus for pre -writing skills!

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a bird shape

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it’s a man!

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making loops

Then we did a few activities in our Kaleidoscope math book. Using a mirror and the images of triangles, in the reflected images, regular polygons were seen! Polygons can have 3 sides up to 12 sides.

After viewing several of these – What would happen if our mirror included more than one central angle? A heptagon was now seen!

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We then took a break and read some poetry together and then I worked with Luke while Liam worked in him fraction workbook.

Sticking with lines; we did a tactile activity. I asked him to make lower case letters using the wiki sticks as we read an alphabet book.

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He then went on to make his own cross-bow with them afterwards- came out cool!

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Line and polygon art-

They used wave lines and then filled in the waves using as many lines as they could think of.

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Then Liam ended his morning with a coding lesson, learning about artist sequence. Look- it’s lines and polygons! 😉

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Building and Engineering!

Imagination at work! That is what’s been going on here…. I have a busy 5 yr old engineer who has been constructing famous buildings with his blocks and constructing roller coasters and planning how to make an angry bird cart! I have an 11 yr old who is learning how to code apps! Busy boys- that’s what I like to see (along with playing outdoors of course)

The talk of New York city prompted the construction of buildings- I set up an exploration table in his room hoping to foster some independent learning last week, with the plan of changing it out and rotating materials as warranted.  Using the Montessori cards I found on pinterest- he went straight to work!

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Love the lego statue of liberty!

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honey bee and comb design

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And...here is the app. Liam learned to code today (Flappy Birds)- if you’d like to try and play it real quick! Great program – Code.org

Even simplified for kids as young as first grade to get started with a pre- reader level!

Wood Frog Class!

Now that all the snow has been gone for about a week and a half, the wood frogs nature class was finally a go!

These are some really neat frogs! They dwell in the northern most climates and can shut down their bodies for the winter months and then “bring themselves back to life” in the spring.

At our class today we all headed down to the vernal pool and though the frogs were quiet, we did get to see eggs and some spring growth happening. Liam had learned in the forestry class a few weeks ago that if you count a sprig of pines, you will then be able to name the type of pine tree it came from. Meaning 5 pine needles= a 5 letter word= WHITE- white pine.

counting pine needles

counting pine needles

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

spring growth- the shape of them caught our eye

Looking for frogs

Looking for frogs

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

Observing eggs! About 500 in this picture

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eggs floating on the surface of the pool

eggs floating on the surface of the pool

Search and you shall Find- free resources!

As I searched around for some new materials on Math, Science and History (The Industrial Revolution) and Sign Language.  I came across some great sites and free downloads!

I was most excited about this science find! We started using them yesterday and will continue using them until we finished along with our nature studies.

They are free download-able textbooks, read and write workbooks with lab books!

McGraw Hill

Middle School Science Texts:

Holt Science & Math textbooks & workbooks PDF

A great history resource find called Digital History entails history from 1942 through 2010, a digital timeline with history for each era; lesson plan ideas, film, music, events and people and virtual exhibits…a a whole lot more!

Other resources I found:

Math: We played on this site yesterday, Geometry and anglesBBC Questionaut it also has English and Science topics.

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Kid- Friendly Inventions for my youngest who says he wants to be an engineer.

Illuminations– great site for math- lessons and interactives- grades: Prek- 12

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Sign Language– We’ve decided to ditch Spanish and learn sign language. This is a great place to begin with videos and games. I know our library also holds many of her DVD’s. It is geared for preschool, but we used it for learning to sign the alphabet and then played the matching game.

Sign Language- Kidcourses

This is an ABC min course- each letter of the alphabet with a rhyme, video and handouts.

Just thought I’d share, enjoy browsing!

I understand this song- Right Brain learning!

What a morning filled with beautiful bird songs(Bird Biology) and a super math suprise gem(Right Brain Math)!

Learning and memorizing multiplication facts has been an ongoing struggle or perhaps a topic of boredom for my oldest. He would rather do fractions and decimals or measurements and graphs- Ahh, all of these are much more “visual” concepts… Now I’m starting to see why this topic was a broken record!

In researching yet another way to get him to memorize and get these down pat in a flash, I discovered:

MisterNumbers Pattern Play Math

A visual and structural approach to multiplication for Right Brained learners! I watched a couple of his videos and thought, WOW! this is so awseome. I signed up for the 3 free worksheets and had him watch the videos and do the sheets along with the video. He looked over at me half way through the video wide-eyed and said- this guy is a genius!

This is what one of the worksheets looks like, but if you’re at all interested watch the video to see the patterns of 3,6,9 times and the 7’s. It’s a simple tic, tac, toe pattern that incorporates all three tables.

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We’ll be purchasing the workbook, it’s not expensive at all! Pattern Play Math-…… You’re playing our song!

Speaking of Songs; Bird Biology was the other highlight of our day! We headed over to The CornellLab of Orinthology to learn all about Birdsong! This was an interactive lesson with 7 steps.

What is a Songbird?

Songbirds learn too

Their reperetoires include songs and calls

Songbirds have local dialects

Songbirds are vocal gymnasts

They sing at dawn

Some sing two notes at once

Birds sing to defend and impress

Here a bird singing? It’s probably a male

After reading through these facts and hearing the Songbirds, we then played Songbirds in action and trained for Bird Song Hero!

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Double sided voice box

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Listen and match the visual

Then before heading outside we did a little watercolor fun art with singing birds!

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Luke’s -Titled “The Bell Song”