Saturday, January 31, 2009

Movies - What a Fun Way to Learn!

Movies are a great resource for rainy days, days when academic work seems to be going nowhere, and for family movie night. Why not make those movie times learning times, too. Here are resources:
You won't be able to find all the movies recommended in the video store. Here are two resources for movie rentals that sell educational and Christian-based movies:
My friend, Linda Cimino, loves this rental company so I had to put it in. You can rent Discovery Channel, Magic Schoolbus, and Veggie Tales videos from here, too. It's not easy to browse educational videos on this site, but if you know the title of the video you want, there is a simple search feature that will find it.
Before you show a movie to your little ones, you might want to make sure that they are appropriate. One way to do this is to have it edited by this company:
Now, it's time to pop up that popcorn, turn down the lights, and watch a movie. And don't forget, when you are done teaching the topic, be sure to check it off on The Checklist!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teaching Elementary Math - No Textbook Needed!

Teaching elementary math is one way The Checklist comes in handy! Go to page 132-134 in The Checklist and use that for the order in which you teach math.  Go down the list and check off as your child masters the concept. Here is a suggested order:

Basic Math Skills:
  • Use manipulatives to teach counting, adding, subtracting, etc. (this is ongoing)
  • Learn to count to 10, then 100 (practice until done)
  • Recognize shapes - squares, etc.
  • Work on and sort by size (bigger, smaller, tallest, etc.), color, shape 
  • Count by 10's (practice until done)
  • Start simple adding - use manipulatives until child can write
  • Work on amounts - 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
  • Continue drilling counting by 2s, 3s, etc. Preferred order: 10s, 5s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s
  • Start simple subtracting - ditto (by now your child should be able to write so you can use both)
  • Take some time to teach measurements, weights, volumes, reading thermometer, counting money, and time while continuing above
  • Once simple adding and subtracting has been mastered, work on carrying and borrowing.
  • At the same time, introduce simple multiplication (if your child has learned to count by 2's etc. this will be easy.
  • Then add simple division.
  • Now your child should be ready for harder adding, subtracting, multiplication, and division, so it's time to get a textbook. 
  • After this has all been accomplished, your child will be able to go into Saxon, Math-U-See or other curriculum, grade 6 or 7. You can skip all the rest!
Use free worksheets or make up your own to teach the above until you decide on a textbook. 

Read over: Math Manipulatives,  PreSchool and Kindergarten Guidelines and Math on the Internet (particularly the Worksheets)

The Gold Rush!

It appears from my poll that the Gold Rush has been covered a multitude of times! Of course, we all know why - it's fun! So, here's my list of resources for teaching the Gold Rush for next time!

Web sites of Interest:

Homeschool Forms by Cindy Downes

Be sure to take advantage of the homeschool forms I've created. There is a variety of forms there that you may be able to incorporate into your teaching. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Physics in Elementary School

Physics is a subject that your boys will LOVE and some of your girls, too. During elementary school, prepare your students for high school physics by reading about physics and having them do lots of hands-on experiments. Here are some fun resources:

Web Site Resources:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Math Manipulatives

Hands-on manipulatives are wonderful tools to help children understand math concepts. You can buy them at educational stores OR you can make your own free ones! Here are some ideas:
  • Snowball math: use small, round cotton balls to make math facts sentences such as 2 snowballs + 3 snowballs = ? snowballs.
  • Use pipe cleaners to teach geometry such as learning about triangles, squares, hexagons, etc.
  • Use edible items as counting tools and in math fact sentences and then have a snack! Examples: M&Ms, gummy bears, carrot sticks, grapes, animal crackers and cereal.
  • Non-edible items such as buttons, macaroni, and beans can also be used for counting.
  • Use real money for teaching money concepts! If you don't  like that idea, use the money from Monopoly or other games.
  • Use lunch for math class: Cook a pizza and teach fractions!
  • Have your children bake a cake to learn measurements such as cups and teaspoons.
  • Dominoes are a great way to teach counting, too.
  • Using card stock, make several Bingo cards with little clock faces in each block that show different times such as 1:00, 3:30, and 6:45. Use this and some bean markers to teach telling time.
  • Use a ruler and items in your home or classroom to teach measurements. Just measure every thing you can measure!
  • See my Web page for more Math Freebie ideas.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King Day is tomorrow, making it a great time to do a short study on Martin Luther King and his role in Civil Rights legislation. Here's some information to get you started:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Family Friendly Literature

I love family reading. Not only did the kids learn, but I did too! 

Here is a list of my favorite book series that we read together as a family. I recommend collecting as many of these as you can get as you will use them over and over as you teach various subjects. 

These are all older books published in the early 20th century and not always easy to obtain. Some are being republished, so you can buy them new. Others, you will have to find in used bookstores or online. 

This series is new. It is historical fiction, written from a Christian perspective, that introduces the lives of missionaries and other Christian leaders.
I will add more as I think of them. I hope you enjoy!

PS: If you would like to see a complete list of my favorite literature books, they are listed in The Checklist.

Spelling Help

I saw this posted on the Homeschool Lounge by one of my lounge sisters and had to share it. 

It's called Spelling City. What a fun way to learn spelling! I especially love the games!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting Started with Unit Studies

If you are beginning to explore the world of unit studies and multi-level teaching, here are some tips to get you started:

Start with a prepared unit such as:

When you're feeling more comfortable:

Use one of my free unit studies

Keep track of your unit studies with The Checklist.

Sign up to get e-mail updates of my blog, How Do I Teach . . . ?

Famous Figures of Ancient Times

Book Review of Famous Figures of Ancient Times by Cathy Diez-Luckie.

If you have a child who enjoys putting on plays or making moveable action figures, you HAVE to get this resource! The book includes 20 figures to cut, color and assemble. You can then use the figures to tell stories of ancient cultures including Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. A brief biographical note explains a little about each character to get you started. Cathy is a published airbrush artist and these figures are EXCEPTIONAL! More information on her Web site at:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cloud Chart

When studying the types of clouds, have your students create a cloud chart. You'll need:
  • 1 large poster board
  • black magic marker
  • glue
  • cotton
  • ruler
  • green and blue paint 
1. Draw and paint the grass and trees. Paint the sky blue. Let dry.

2. Use your black marker and a ruler to divide the chart into three horizontal layers. Label the layers:
  • High Clouds - Above 18,000 feet
  • Middle Clouds - Above 6,000 feet
  • Low Clouds - Up to 6,000 feet
3. Start at the top of the chart and work down. Using cotton, either stretch, break into pieces or fluff to make clouds of each type. After you have made the cloud, glue it onto the poster board in the correct layer.
  • Cirrocumulus
  • Cirrus
  • Cumulonimbus
  • Altocumulus
  • Altostratus
  • Stratocumulus
  • Stratus
  • Cumulus
  • Optional: Research Nimbostratus and Stratus clouds and add these to the chart by drawing with black marker. 
4. Label each type of cloud with black marker. Draw black lines falling from rain cloud. Take a picture of your project and put it in your portfolio! Directions for a portfolio can be found on my Web site at Portfolio

For more fun with clouds:
Don't forget to keep track of your studies in The Checklist by Cindy Downes.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Joan of Arc

Today, in 1431, Joan of Arc was put on trial for heresy and subsequently burned at the stake. 

  • Online biography.
  • Quote: "Since God had commanded it, it was necessary that I do it. Since God commanded it, even if I had a hundred fathers and mothers, even if I had been a King's daughter, I would have gone nevertheless."
  • Joan of Arc's trial (older readers).
  • Read Joan of Arc from Ten Girls from History.
Other Fun stuff:
  • Joan of Arc made for TV movie.
  • Joan of Arc on horse action figure.
  • Your Story Hour, Vol. 7. Audiobook which includes story adventures of Joan of Arc, John Bunyan, Albert Schweitzer, George Mueller, Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton, Louis Pastuer, Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell, Dwight L. Moody, John Wanamaker, George W. Carver, and Keith Argraves.
  • Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley. Picture book for grades 4-7.
  • Sterling Silver St. Joan of Arc. "Pray for Us" pendant and chain with U.S. Marines on back. Also available for army, navy, air force and coast guard.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sandwich Geology

Make lunch and learn some geology at the same time! Before you start, review these Web sites:
Layer as follows:
  • Start with 1 empty plate = igneous bedrock layer
  • 1 slice of white bread = sandstone layer
  • 2 Tbs. chunky peanut butter = sedimentary rock layer called a conglomerate
  • 1 slice of brown, whole wheat bread = shale layer
  • 2 Tbs. light-colored jam = limestone layer
  • 1 slice of dark rye bread = brown sandstone layer or dirt!
Eat and review with Review Game.

For more rock fun:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Leaning Tower of Pisa

I noticed that today's history event is the closing of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I searched the Internet and discovered this site where student's can figure out how to fix the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Sounds like fun! 

Christian Courses

For those of you looking for Bible study resources, here is one of my favorites. It's called RBC Ministries. It offers free Bible study courses and, my favorite, Our Daily Bread devotional. I love Our Daily Bread because it actually uses paragraphs of scripture with a commentary, instead of only one verse taken out of context and what someone wrote about that one verse. The courses are great, too, and would be great to use with older students. They offer courses in Old Testament Survey, New Testament Survey, Know Why You Believe, and more.

Create a Code

This fun project will develop logic and teach your student a bit about history at the same time. First, introduce your student to different types of codes and how they are or were used:
Now, have your student develop a code of their own. Then, have them use it to write a short message to a friend or family member. 

Moon Rock Candy

  • 2 Cups granulated sugar
  • heavy string
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 drop of food coloring
  • glass jar, and pencil
Put 1 cup of water and 1 drop of food coloring into a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat. Add sugar slowly stirring until the sugar melts. Continue adding sugar slowly until the sugar will dissolve no more. Remove from the stove and cool until it is warm. Pour the liquid into a clean glass jar.

Tie one end of the heavy string around the middle of a pencil. Place the pencil over the top of the glass jar letting the cord hang into the warm sugar mixture. A rock formation will form in a few hours. The next day reheat the sugar mixture in a saucepan. Pour mixture back into the jar and hang the rock formation again in the glass jar. Repeat this procedure every day until the rock formation is as big as you want it. This moon rock is edible! Have each child make a different color moon rock for fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Composition Projects

My favorite way to teach writing is to use composition projects. You need to give them a purpose for writing rather than just have them fill in textbook pages. 

Here is a list of writing project ideas you can use from my Oklahoma Homeschool Web site. Incorporate them into your lesson plans as needed and your students will enjoy writing more!

The Tower of Babel by John Taylor

The Tower of Babel by John Taylor is a beautiful hardback book containing 22 pages of vivid color illustrations and large print text. Although marketed as a pop-up book, there is actually only one pop-up — a large two-page-wide model of the Tower of Babel that pops up on the first page and remains up throughout the book.

The book is based on Genesis 11:1-9 in the Bible. It introduces the reader to the Tower of Babel and provides a brief explanation as to how we got our various people groups.

Although it is advertised for ages 4-8, I recommend reading it as part of a family Bible study before reading the actual account in the Bible. The vocabulary and subject matter is too difficult for most four to eight year olds to grasp on their own. On the other hand, your older children will probably want more explanation than is given in this book.

As an introduction to this passage of scripture, The Tower of Babel does a great job. The beautiful color illustrations and fun pop-up Tower of Babel will keep your children’s interest as you read and discuss the text together.

For a more detailed Biblical explanation of the Tower of Babel and our various people groups, I recommend the Answers In Genesis Web site.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Fun Way to Teach about Simple Machines

First, discuss and demonstrate simple machines: lever, inclined plane, wheel and axle, screw, wedge, and pulley. 

Next, have each student make a list of simple machines in their home, classroom or during a field trip to the mall or science museum. Have the student categorize the items found according to the type of simple machine it is, using my Simple Machines worksheet. Remember, an item can be more than one simple machine!

For more activities on simple machines, check my Simple Machines Unit Study.

Ancient History Portfolio Junior

For your children who love book-making, cutting, coloring, pasting and writing, here's a resource you won't want to miss: Ancient History Portfolio Junior by Barbara Shukin. 

The portfolio comes in a classy, 3-ring notebook and is printed on quality paper stock, making it just right for storing your child's work all in one place. NOTE: You'll love sharing treasures like this with family, especially when your children are grown!

Included topics are: First Civilizations, Ancient Near East, Ancient Bible Lands, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. 

Your child will enjoy a variety of writing projects, map studies, coloring pages, cut and paste projects, word searches and crossword puzzles as he or she learns about Ancient History. There's even a Bingo game for review. Your older students can use Shukin's orginial Ancient History Portfolio (high school level) at the same time, which will simplify your lesson planning. Who doesn't want that!

Ancient History Portfolio Junior was written to be used along with The Story of the World, Vol. 1, but you could use it with any study material including the free, Internet-based unit studies on my Web site.

Ancient History Portfolio Junior is a fun, educational resource that your Read/Write children will love! I highly recommend it! And don't forget to add these studies to The Checklist, pages 22-51.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Betsy Ross

Birth: Betsy Ross was born January 1, 1752.
Claim to Fame: Sewed the first American Flag

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Teaching with Primary Documents

An excellent way to teach history is to use primary documents as your "textbook." The Internet will not only supply you with the source material, but you can even find lesson plans and instructions for using them. Here are some of my favorite resources:

How to Use Primary Sources: I recommend that you try this first to help your students learn to find primary sources, what they are, the types of primary sources available, and how to analyze them.

Teaching with documents. This resource contains reproducible copies of documents as well as worksheets and lesson plans related to American history from 1754 - the present.

American Journeys. This resource contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration. Read the words of explorers, Indians, missionaries, traders and settlers as they lived through the founding moments of American history. 150 rare books, original manuscripts, travel narratives, maps, charts, drawings, photographs. Includes:
  • Historical highlights. From Leif Ericson landing in North America in ca. 1000 A.D. to 1806 when Zebulon Pike reaches the Colorado peak that bears his name. 
  • Lesson plans - a source book on how to choose a topic and how to deal with sensitive content.
  • Sample lessons: One on the children of Eric the Red, the Viking Explorer, and the other showing how religion played a key part in the lives and ideas of Europeans in the early years of their experiences in the "New World." Recommended for 8th grade and up.
Puzzled by the past - quizzes on U.S. history.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Edible Map

Here's a deliciously fun way to learn geography - make an edible map!
1. Create the map.
2. Learn the information.
3. Then eat it!

  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups white corn syrup

Mix together to make a dough. Form the dough into the shape of a map on wax paper. Use blue icing to mark bodies of water, M&M's for capitals and major cities, and chocolate chips for mountains. Enjoy!

P.S. While you're eating, check out Cindy's Map Store