Category Archives: Homeschooling
What makes a story come alive? Is it the author? The genre? If the facts are true or false?
What is the power of story?
For me, the power of story is whether or not you can place yourself inside that story and live it. It doesn’t matter it is fiction or non-fiction, but the power of the author to draw you in and make you live it.
Were you there?
History is full of people’s stories. It is the story of the human race. We have long relegated it to textbooks, that detail the facts in a matter of fact way. But take those same facts, give the people a name, create a picture of the place they lived and we live it.
One of the most powerful tools in our possession is well-written, accurate historical fiction. Non-fiction is essential as well, but fiction has the power of story. It gives us the ability to place ourselves in the place of the main character and we live it with them. Instead of being told what someone else experienced, we live it.
We call this “Living History Books”. It is one of the most incredible tools at our disposal as homeschool parents and teachers. Schoolteachers have been using this for years, but over time, it took a lot of time and effort. When time is a commodity this often falls to the wayside. Historical fiction is used, but the textbooks replace it for the majority of the teaching.
Hands-on learning is wonderful, but it takes times as well. For mothers that even are homeschooling, they find that they just don’t have the time to create that. Teachers in classrooms can do it somewhat, but then also, they run out of time to do it all the time.
The key here is they do not have to. They can give the students the tools to experience it themselves. If you give a child a stack of living books, historical fiction that makes the eras come alive to them, along with the history books, the biographies, and documentaries each one will be like they are living it themselves.
They will see themselves traveling the Oregon Trail with the Donner Party, because they have lived it with the Whitman’s, The Sager’s, and the Singing Boones. They know that some of them are fictional characters, but they also know who were the real ones. They feel like they walked through the desert, lacking water, their eyelids swelling, and feeling the taste of sand on their skin.
Their bodies know the pain that they suffered because they connected with a character, whom they lived and walked the trail with.
When the power of story is used in a positive way, it can give our children the heart to learn the stories of the past. When we teach our children the stories of the past, they will learn from it and want to prevent the suffering of the future.
So many times I have seen people, with good intentions scoff at the reading of historical fiction. They insist that too much of it will confuse the facts.
I have never found that while reading a fiction story, that I am confused about the facts. Instead, when I finish, I love reading the authors notes about what was real, where she researched, how he found this story, and what documents they went to while writing.
I end up finding myself researching the history, and looking for the tidbits on the trail of knowledge.
I remember after reading a book by Elizabeth Camden, Against the Tide, coming across an ad for syrup that was mentioned in the book. I ended up researching the facts told in the story. It was based on the facts of how orphans, in order to keep them docile, were given a cough and headache medicine commonly available at that time. What was not widely known was that it contained opium. It kept the orphans weak and docile, but also made them drug addicts. The story is well written and you see the other side of drug addiction, from an orphan, as she is grown.
Historical fiction, which is well written, teaches history in a way that no textbook alone can ever do.
Here are a couple of ways you can get the most out of your reading time for learning and loving history:
- Always check your facts.
- Read several stories and opinions on the time period
- Don’t isolate yourself to one author, explore several.
- Certainly do not restrict yourself to encyclopedias and biographies. While a great way to learn, you need to live the story.
- Find out the characters in the book were based on real people. Learn more about those people and how well the author did telling their story.
- Talk to others about the story, the time period and explore if you can get them excited about it as well. If you can live the story and retell it to someone else, the book has done its job.
If you would like lists of books that are great historical fiction without worrying about content, check out my book list option links. I will send you lists of books that will meet your needs and help your students get excited about history.
Are you tired of the same old math drills? Phonics worksheets got you down? Your students can’t figure out how to tell time because they can’t sit still long enough to do it?
Try some of these ideas to spice up the school day!
It can be a fun thing to add something to your school day with games. It doesn’t always make it easy, but it can add some diversion in a mundane school day. Another thing that it can do, is teach lessons to reluctant learners without them realizing they are actually doing school.
There are many ideas on the links as well as several of my own.
Math Fact Race
- chart paper
- markers or crayons
Before the Lesson
Create on the board or on chart paper a grid numbered across 1 to 9 and down 1 to 9. The grid’s squares should be large enough for students to write a readable number in.
Arrange the class into two or more teams and provide each team with a grid sheet. Decide whether you want students to practice addition, subtraction, or multiplication facts in this game of speed. When the chart is set, say “Go!” One person on each team races to the board and fills in any square on the math facts grid. For example, if you are reinforcing addition facts, the student writes the number 6 in the square at which the 4 column and the 2 row meet (4 + 2 = 6).
Emphasize that it is important for all members of a team to watch what their teammates write. If any student on either team sees a mistake made by a teammate during the game, he or she can use his/her turn to correct that error.
If you make this a “quiet game,” it will hold down the “ooooo’s” that are sure to signal an error, and also further emphasize the importance of team members paying close attention to one another.
The first team to fill in all the squares on their grid is the winning team if all the answers on their chart are correct.
Extend the Lesson
Use the completed charts to reinforce the concepts being taught. For example, if you use this game to reinforce multiplication facts, you might emphasize how the charts show the pattern made by the 5 tables or 7 tables.
The first team to fill in all the squares on their grid wins — if every answer on their chart is correct.
Lesson Plan Source
Adapt the BINGO game to reinforce multiplication table skills.
- play a game of BINGO that requires them to accurately compute math facts.
multiplication, multiplication tables, times tables, BINGO, game
- Multiplication BINGO card
- a set of flash cards for the times tables you will reinforce using the game
Provide each student with a Multiplication BINGO card. Provide students with the answers to the multiplication fact cards you will show them and let them arrange those numbers randomly on their BINGO cards.
Alternate Idea: Involve Some Critical Thinking
If your students have a fair grasp of the multiplication tables, tell them which times tables the game will be based on and let them write on their cards the numbers that might be called out in the game. For example, if you tell them that the Multiplication BINGO game will be based on the 4, 5, and 6 tables, then they will have to figure out which numbers they should not write on their cards — numbers such as 2, 3, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 17, 19 since those are not solutions to any of the math facts that comprise the 4, 5, or 6 tables.
As you can see, the game gets more interesting as students learn more math facts. Eventually, you might plan a Multiplication BINGO game in which the entire range of math fact families — from the 2 tables to the 12 tables — is included.
Prepare a set of cards containing the math facts you’ve based this game on. Write one math fact problem on each card. Shuffle the cards. Draw and read or show the cards to students, one card at a time. As you show a card, students must do the math and put an X through the number that represents the answer if it appears on their Multiplication BINGO card.
Who will be first to call out BINGO? Verify that student’s victory by checking the math facts called out against his or her card.
After a player calls out BINGO, you might keep the game going until you learn which player will be the first to fill up his or her entire Multiplication BINGO card.
File Folder Math Games for Middle School
Grab a deck of flash cards. For every answer they get right, they get to shoot a basket in the basketball hoop.
Ask questions and have the answers in chalk on the fence, have them use a water gun to shoot the answers off the fence.
Draw a big clock on the driveway, use sand tools to make hands. Count by fives by jumping from number to number. Have the children manipulate the hands and set the time for you as you read them to them.
Multiplication Hopscotch can be a fun way to practice facts when they need to move and learn. Do skip counting. 6, 12, 18, 24 etc.
Tape the skip counting numbers for multiplication on pieces of paper with a hand print on them, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 and so on. Then tape them going up on stair steps so they can place their hands on them as they walk up the stairs.
You can learn on the trampoline as well. You can use it as a clock, or write on it with sidewalk chalk the letters of the alphabet. Spell words and have them jump to the correct ones that spell the word. No trampoline? You can use tape with the letters on them or pieces of paper in the living room.
You can fill plastic cups and mark it with fractions, 1/3. ¼, ½, and the like. Make enough of each to equal a whole of each fraction and have them match them up.
Lego Games for Kids
Math Game Stations
Fraction Game similar to Spoons
Equivalent Fraction board Game
Skip Count with Legos
What you need is two different color Lego’s, about 10 of each color. If you have more of one color than the other that’s fine. Take your Lego’s and place than in two piles separated by color. For our lesson, we used green and white. You can substitute for what color you want.
Take your Lego’s and stack them green/white/green/white/green/white. First count to six while pointing at your individual blocks. Then count again but only pointing to the Green utilizing the skip count method. Explain to your child the white blocks are still there but since we are counting the green, we are counting faster. We know the blocks are there but because of that we can count twice as fast!
Parts of Speech bag game. Make two paper sacks with Nouns, Verbs etc. on the outside and then write nouns and verbs on cards and sort them in the bags.
Card Game flip- Use any pack of cards and flip over two. You can add or multiply them times each other. You can have a competition over how many they can get with a timer.
I suggest to make a Math tub, Reading tub, and others for the age groups you need. I had one for preschool, K-2 and one for 2-6th grade etc. Then when you need games to add to your learning, you pull out those tubs with your supplies ready to go and it requires less brain power from you.
Decks of cards – Dollar store
Game markers can all be found at the Imagintion Station
Laminator from Amazon or Paper Chase laminates large file folders for game boards.
Laminator for $25- http://amzn.to/2czR6VM
Laminating pouches- $12.50 for 100 http://amzn.to/2c6fn4q
Games you can buy:
Great States Scramble
Sum Swamp Game- For K-1
Rory’s Story Cubes
Money Bags Game 5+
Scrabble- Ages 7 + http://amzn.to/2bWBnQL
Yahzee – 5+ http://amzn.to/2bWC78o
Busy Bag Ideas for K-2 Math and Reading
These were like the ones I had in the large box that I brought to class. Remember that the easiest way to collect a bunch of these is to do an exchange. You can use these plans to set up your own. There are hundreds of ideas for busy bags, boxes and file folder games online though.
Pinterest Board with Game ideas:
I have many other boards with lots of homeschool ideas as well to browse.
Organizing – Life as a Mom Planner
The top one for $9 is the regular organizing planner and the second one is the Homeschool add on pack.
If you would like them on Apple devices, go to the app store and look them up by name and you can find them as well. This is only the tip of the iceberg, all you have to do is put in math learning, or phonics and hundreds pop up.
Stack the States
Monopoly on Kindle
Blank foam dice
Minecraft Math Coloring book
Those are just a few of the things we discussed in our class on games for learning! I hope this inspires you to go home and make or utilize some of the games you have to teach your children.
Here is a link to some more technology based resources as well.
This school year has been challenging. There has barely been time to breathe and live, let alone prepare for another school year.
I made the decision that we will be focusing on language arts and math, so while we are doing Creation to Greeks for history, it is going to be the enhancement of our school.
First of all, my living room looked like a tornado went off, as I pulled boxes out of old school papers, student sheets, photos and other things. It is amazing how much stuff can accumulate.
Math Drill-Flash cards, Market Math and Times Tales
Explode the Code
MFW Creation to Creeks
Apologia General Science
365 writing journal
Math- Teaching Textbooks
BJU Writing and Grammar
MFW Creation to Greeks
Apologia General Science
365 Writing Journal
Ed Ready Math
BJU Writing and Grammar
MFW World History and Literature
Anatomy and Physiology
College Prep writing
First day is done, and I am ready for the challenge of the year.
It seems life tends to go in spurts of busy times. For us, this is a very busy time. Generally, in May, I have a chance to breathe and relax. School is mostly over, but not this year. I have been contemplating when I will have time to fit my breakdown in.
It sounds funny, but really, I just don’t have time to schedule it in.
We have sports that consume the first half of the school year and then the theater consumes the other half. This fulfills our P.E. and Fine Arts credits, which we use for school, but it takes a lot of time and effort. The other time, we fit in all the other subjects, but like this week, they seemed to conflict an awful lot and we were working on learning on the road. I had a son that was sitting and staring at a vocabulary worksheet blankly for almost an hour. He was worn out, tired and just could not think.
We spent today working on catch up and I am not sure if any of it sunk in, but hoping so.
We had a snafu with math with computer glitches earlier in the year, so we are still working away on math and will be hitting it harder and harder in the next while. In the last calendar year, so far, we have had three deaths in the family, or near family. We may have a fourth soon and it is hard to emotionally prepare.
This was one of the scenes from the play we were in…
“But I hate this!”
“This is so boring!”
“This book is too hard.”
“What a dry book. I don’t want to read this anymore.”
You hear complaints from your kids like that? I am sure some moms do. For me, I have heard these complaints from homeschool moms so many times lately.
“We hate such and such assigned book. It is boring, not interesting, and we didn’t want to read it, so we moved on to something we liked better.”
In theory, that sounds good. We should enjoy reading, find enjoyment in our schoolwork and all that. But when you dig a little deeper, it gets a root of a severe problem in the homeschool community.
School is still school. If we use living books to teach it, there will be books we do not like or enjoy. If you are reading a book for pleasure, and hate it, set it aside. There are plenty of other great books out there. But when it comes to school, it is different.
In displaying the attitudes that I list in the comments above, we pass those on to our children, our students. We teach them that if the textbook is too dry, too hard, too boring, it is okay to not do it. While there can be reasons to set aside a book that is a struggle to learn from, the other lesson we are teaching is a very bad one.
When someone is difficult or hard, it is okay to not persevere.
The biggest lesson I have had to learn as a homeschool parent is perseverance. I don’t always feel like teaching school. I don’t feel like reading a book that I don’t like as well as the next one.
I have had to get creative. I use Audible a lot. It really helps me and I find the boys do not complain about a book when they get to listen to the book while doing something else they enjoy. It ends up giving the feelings of enjoyment, and they are learning at the same time.
I would love to encourage mothers or fathers that are teaching, don’t teach your children to not challenge themselves. I have seen those students as they grow up, that were not challenged to read books that they did not enjoy. It is not a pretty picture. It is the generation of homeschool mothers and fathers that are encouraging stimulation at every turn.
When we seek to make everything “fun”, “Hands on” and “exciting” which are all good things, we can end up taking away valuable lessons for them as well. Patience, perseverance, endurance and most importantly, the lesson of pushing through when life is hard.
I have met people that when life is hard, they give up. Physically, mentally or emotionally. There are times when our bodies cannot handle the stress that is placed on it, but I am more talking about small stressors.
I learned something about our bodies, that if our mothers were stressed while we are pregnant, our placenta gives them the hormones and levels they need to function in a higher stress lifestyle once they are born as well. If we never push our children or ourselves outside our comfort zone, our bodies never will be pushed to give us the supplies we need to deal with real stress when it comes. Everyone will have stress at one time.
An important lesson in school, that we can teach our children is pushing through when we don’t want to. This might mean reading that Dicken’s novel you hate, (Great Expectations was my nemesis). Or it might mean that you approach it with a lateral decision.
“Kids, this is not my favorite book. What do you think? Should we push through and see what we can get out of it or should we find another one that teaches the same thing?”
I remember a book assigned for the year that I totally disliked. I felt it was poorly written and just a dud. I pushed through and read it all and wouldn’t you know, that was their favorite book we read all year.
Your attitude about a book rubs off on your children. If you complain about reading a book, they will likely not enjoy it. If you get into it and make the boring book interesting, they will enjoy it.
Just to close, as an example, I had a young woman that taught us a couple days a week growing up. Schoolbooks were scarce and she had to use what we had. She had one of the worst science textbooks I have ever seen. It was the top level of boring. Wouldn’t you know, that somehow, through her enthusiasm and joy about the topics, made that science year the most fascinating of my elementary years. Your attitude will make a difference.
We are pulling towards the end of the school year and I do not want this blog to only be book reviews.
I have done a rotten job of being on the computer and being production at all with my blog. Or I can say that I am spending so much time on other things, my snippets of time on the computer are too short to blog appropriately.
There is a whole bunch of my last couple weeks smashed together in pictures.
We do school with a lot of other people, as you can see. Homeschooling is totally a life dedicated to isolation. We spend all our days locked in our homes, with our noses in books and never see another human soul. =)
Hope your school days are going as well as ours!
My posts about school sort of have gotten lost is the book review posts and basketball. Blogging about anything other than what had to be done is really not been the priority.
You know, just a few games were played here and there. It has been a blur of action between school mornings, basketball, basketball practice, our homeschool theater club starting practice, which is 7 hours weekly or more, there is not much time for anything
else. Well, other than a little baby cuddling, reading in the sunshine and the sort.
We have been enjoying China and Japan this last while. Gladys Alyward has been a huge success, and we are pushing through “I dared to call Him Father” as well.
We bought a bunch of snacks from the grocery store that were Japanese or Chinese and had fun with that. We didn’t get our Chinese feast, but that is coming!
Life has not been without stress lately. I am learning more and more about property management. My oldest son got his permit and is learning to drive. We are working to catch up on all the work he is behind on from a busy month of basketball in January. We also battled Influenza A, and thankfully my youngest son and I were protected so far despite nursing the older three that were very sick.
This week while reading about Oceans in ECC, we pulled out a book about the Titanic. We read that as a book basket book and then discussed the replica that was recently built and if anyone will want to sail on it.
It has been a week for wins in school. Life may be hard elsewhere, but we persevere. We had an opportunity to have some discussions this week on topics such as politics, domestic violence, and safety in other areas. It seems it never is boring discussion here.
I am so thankful for MFW bringing up hard topics to discuss with many view points presented.
This picture book series is unique in that it is a school setting with children with special needs. Some of them have physical disabilities, but all gain insight from the retelling of a bible story and using therapeutic means to get through the school day.
Your children will learn from the story how children cope with their special qualities, while learning from bible stories.
There are two picture books in this series as well as a book that is more a tale of how a teacher learned to work with these amazing students.
The books are available for purchase from Olive Press Publisher.
Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko
Twenty-five stories of historical figures who prayed to God and as a result, history was changed.
One prayer can change everything.
Martin Luther. Sojourner Truth. Helen Keller. St. Patrick. We read their stories, and of other people like them, in history books, and hear about the amazing things they did to change the world. But one part of the story is often left out: Each one of them wouldn’t have accomplished what they did without prayer.
In this book from bestselling author Tricia Goyer, the stories of twenty-five notable people are presented along with the major prayer that changed their lives and changed history. Following each historical example is a biblical story that ties to that person’s life and actions, as well as ways you can use the power of prayer in your life as well. Because God isn’t done changing the world yet, and he would love to use you to make history.
As I read through this lovely little book over the past while, I was impressed at how each story, it brought it back to prayer. Each person depicted in this book may not have been the world’s greatest person. Some of them may have truly done other things that we do not extoll, but their prayers, we can always praise.
Each story has daily life applications that can be used in your homeschool, daily devotions or just family time of discussion. You will read about the person, a biblical person, and life applications and questions.
I found myself wishing this book was included and scheduled in many of the yearly cycles of My Father’s World as it will go perfectly with it. There is much to learn in this little book!
To Purchase a copy, you can find it available here!
Prayers that Changed History