Tag Archives: reading

Sick Days

apothecaryOver the past few days, there’s been someone in the family who’s not been feeling well. It seems some sort of stomach virus has been passed from person to person, making it difficult to stick to our regular schedule or get much schooling done. When we are experiencing sick days, I tend to let the lessons slide for the time being and have the children make them up the following weekend.

There are some other ways to approach “sick days”, days where you or a child has a cold or a virus that makes homeschooling difficult. Here are a few ideas:

If your child is sick:

Make it a favorite subject day: If your child isn’t too sick, but just not feeling quite right, allow him to choose his favorite subject and work on assignments in that area for the day.

Make it a reading day: Give your older children reading assignments that they can do while lying in bed. If your child isn’t reading yet, spend the time reading to him.

Make it a video day: If your child is feeling too sick to read, find some educational DVDs he can watch. If you don’t have any at home, ask your spouse or a friend to pick some up at your local library.

If you are the one who’s sick:

Have Dad help: If you’re unable to homeschool, consider having Dad homeschool when he’s off work. Even if he works during the day, he can still direct a few lessons after supper.

Enlist the help of older siblings: If you have older children, call on them to help their younger siblings with some of their lessons.

Make it a reading day: Older children can read to the younger ones and do their reading assignments on their own.

Make it a video day: This works well when Mom’s the one who’s sick, too. While you’re recuperating in bed, don’t feel guilty about turning on some educational DVDs for your younger children.

If you find the illness is making it just too difficult to continue schooling, though, take the necessary time off to rest and recuperate. You can always make up the school days on the weekends, during traditional holiday breaks, or even during the summer. After all, that’s one of the benefits of homeschooling — a flexible schedule that can be changed as needed.

The Look Book

9780688149710We found Look Book by Tana Hoban in our library a few years ago, and it’s been one of our favorite books ever since. We liked it so much, in fact, that we made one of our own.

Look Book is a wordless picture book that features pages with a cut-out that shows a small part of a photo on the page underneath. The reader, then, must take a good look and decide what is actually in the picture. A turn of the page will reveal what the photo really captures — a pretzel, a flower, or some other object. The following photo then shows that object in an even wider view, such as pretzels on a pretzel cart or a stand filled with flowers.

After going through Look Book with my oldest son when he was little, I made a similar book using items I had around the house, and it’s lasted us for years. Now my five-year-old is enjoying the same book. If you’d like to make a “Look Book”, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Three-ring binder
  • White or black cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Old magazines
  • Glue Stick
  • One piece of notebook paper

To begin, search through your old magazines for photos that would work well in a “Look Book.” Large photos of familiar objects that fill the page work best. Items such as fruit, animals, and cars are a good place to start.

Next, cut the photo to fit on a piece of cardstock. Glue it to the cardstock using a glue stick. Line the cardstock up with a piece of notebook paper and punch three holes on the left side and put it in the binder. Do the same with all of the photos you’ve chosen.

Now, for each picture you have, take another sheet of plain cardstock and punch the holes along the side. Place one piece of plain cardstock in the binder in front of each piece of cardstock with a photo.

Next, choose an area on the plain cardstock to cut out. You don’t have the make the area very large — you want it large enough to show a portion of the photo underneath, but not too large that the reader can tell just what it is without looking closely. (To cut an area from the middle of the paper, poke on end of the scissors through the paper, then cut it out from there.) The pages in your book should alternate between plain cardstock with a cut-out and the cardstock with the photo.

There you have it! You’re children will enjoy the Look Book you’ve made — and they may even want to make one of their own!

Order in the Classroom!

gaveljanjpgThis school year, like many of our previous school years, has gotten off to a bit of a rough start. But I’m working on changing some things that hopefully will get things flowing a little more smoothly.

Recently, I read an article online that said homeschoolers sometimes have a difficulty with delayed gratification. They are often used to having a question answered right away, and they have the freedom to make comments during a lesson. Although I know this isn’t true of all homeschooled children, I can say it’s true of mine. They interrupt me if I’m reading a science or history lesson aloud, often saying something that has nothing to do with the subject. If I’m helping one with math or reading, the others are quite comfortable breaking in with a question about their own work.

I know it’s not the children’s fault — this is how I’ve been schooling the last few years. I used to feel like I was multi-tasking, answering a question for one while teaching a concept to another while handing out an assignment to a third. But I wasn’t really multi-tasking — we were just losing time, as nothing was being accomplished efficiently. So this year, I’m bringing more order in — for their sakes, and for mine!

For the first hour, I’m working with my Kindergartener while the other three work on their math. If they have a question about a problem, they just have to skip it and go on to the next one. Their math work will continue into the second hour, at which time I’m free for questions.

After math we’ll go into our group lesson of history or science. Then it’s back to individual work in Language Arts, giving me time again to help with grammar, spelling, and writing if necessary. Reading and music practice are subjects they can do on their own.

The next few days will be hard — reminding the children again and again that they will have to wait. But once they get used to the new plan, they’ll have an easier time with school — and I will too!

Garden of Praise.com

cohdranknbarbarabushroseI first came upon this website over a year ago when I was teaching art lessons in my home. I was centering the lessons around famous artists, and I was looking for information online about the lives of the various masters. While I was glad to find the biographies of famous artists on this site and used them regularly as a resource, Garden of Praise.com offers so much more. 

One of the first sections you come to on the site is entitled “Online Tests.” After registering, teachers and homeschooling parents can have their students take tests about famous Americans or lessons in the Bible. After a test is completed, it’s instantly scored, and if any incorrect answers were marked, the correct answer is revealed. 

The biography section features leaders such as presidents, scientists, inventors, and educators. Each story is written at the elementary level and includes seven printables, including a study sheet, a coloring page, a word search, a crossword puzzle, a word scramble puzzle, a worksheet, and a test. Links to other helpful sites about the individual are provided as well. 

A Spanish section has songs (with music) for learning the months of the year, colors, and the parts of the head. Quizzes are available for numbers, the days and months, and the names of shapes in Spanish. 

You’ll also find pages that include literature-based reading lessons, plays, musical activities, and children’s Bible lessons. You can even view a slideshow featuring ideas for bulletin boards or wall displays designed by teachers. 

While this site is not an all-inclusive resource for any of these subjects, it does provide information, ideas, links, and printables to supplement the various subjects your children might be studying. And, best of all, Garden of Praise.com has made it all available for free!

Yes, Dad Can!

laundryCN_8203Since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, most of our household chores have followed the traditional division of labor – I clean the house, fix the meals, and wash the dishes while my husband mows the yard and makes minor repairs around the home. Because he’s busy with work during our school year, most all of the homeschool responsibilities fall on me as well. I bring him in as principal when I need to, but generally, I do all the teaching. 

This past month we’ve had to change all that. I had a project commitment that was due at the end of June, and it was taking all my extra time to finish it up. Fortunately, my husband had some time off – he could take care of the things I couldn’t do. And he did! 

It’s been a good month, with a lot of quality time for Dad and the children. He took them everywhere I would have taken them – to the pool to swim, to the free summer movies, to music lessons, to friends’ homes to play. He listened to them read aloud and made sure the rest of their schoolwork was completed. He also took on one major household chore: the laundry. He washed, dried, and folded the clothes all month, enlisting the kids to help him with the process. He streamlined my system, making it easier and more efficient. 

What my husband learned: it’s fun doing things with the children, and relationships are strengthened when they spend time together. What I learned: Dad can do it!  He can help with school, run errands, and clean the house. He might even come up with better ways of doing things, making the chores easier for me when I take them over again. But now that I know, I might not take them all back. I think I’ll leave the laundry for him. 🙂

God’s World News

GWN_fanA couple of years ago, a friend introduced us to God’s World News. There was a group of us who had placed orders, so we received a bit of a discount. Even at full price, this supplement is well-worth it.

God’s World News is a full-color magazine featuring current world events designed for students from preschool through high school. Each issue of God’s World News contains age-appropriate articles from a Biblical worldview.

The first four magazines are monthly publications. Early Edition is designed for the youngest beginning readers, with each issue including lots of pictures and large text. Preschoolers through first graders will not only find articles and maps, but also activities and puzzles designed to help build number and sequence skills. 

Taking Off is the magazine for children in grades 2 -3. These also include news stories, maps, and puzzles. While you may find the same story in Early Edition as you do in Taking Off, each is written with the age of the audience in mind.

News Current is for students in grades 4-5. Besides the regular features found in Early Edition and Taking Off, News Current also includes editorials to encourage critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and quizzes for reading comprehension. 

Top Story is the publication for students in grades 6-9. In Top Story, students will find age-appropriate articles, editorials, word derivation, and reading comprehension quizzes.

WORLD magazine for high schoolers arrives bi-weekly and includes national and international news articles; editorials and commentaries; political cartoons; movie, television, music, and book reviews; and detailed coverage of issues relevant to Christians today.   

If you’d like to try God’s World News, I’d encourage you to get an age-appropriate issue for each of your children. The company offers large discounts when multiple orders are placed, so if you have friends who are interested as well, that’s even better. It’s a resource I know we’re going to sign up for again this year.

Literature Class

a-booksAlthough we weren’t involved in a co-op this past year, my children were part of a literature class put together by a couple of homeschool moms. Yesterday was our class for April.

Our literature class meets the fourth Thursday of the month from 10:00 – 11:30 at the centrally-located home of one of the families. Students divide up into four groups: grades K-3rd,4th-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th.

Every month, students in each group are assigned a book to read – one that can be easily found at our local library. Some of the books they’ve read this year include Misty; The Whipping Boy; Shiloh; Sarah Plain and Tall; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe;, The Cricket in Times Square; Carry On, Mr. Bowditch; A Wrinkle in Time; Call It Courage; and The Bronze Bow. Then, when we meet together, students break up into their groups in different rooms of the house to discuss the book they’ve read, with one of the moms leading the discussion.

The K-3rd group is the largest group, so they usually meet in the living room. This younger group reads one or two picture books and then work on a corresponding activity, such as making a craft. This past week they read a story about a dog and made “dog” biscuits that were actually baked treats for the kids. Of course, not all of them were shaped like dog biscuits – the children shaped them into stars, squares, and even a rock.

The class has lent itself to other activities as well. When the middle school class was reading The Hiding Place, a special guest was brought in who was a girl in Holland during the Holocaust. When the older elementary students were reading Tall Tales, they created their own tall tales and shared them with each other.

With only one class to go for this school year, literature class has been a great way to get together while reading good books!

Photo by Faeyran