Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Five Senses: Sound

March 3 is the birthday of Alexander Graham Bell. He makes a nice introduction to sound, the next in our series on the five senses. 
Topics to Study:
  • How sound is produced
  • How sounds travel
  • How the ear works
  • Sound waves
  • Echoes
  • Speed of Sound
  • Volume
  • Terms: eustachian tube, auditory nerve, semicircular canals, outer eat, auditory canal, eardrum, middle ear, cochlea, hammer, inner ear, stirrup, anvil
  • Alexander Graham Bell
Internet Research:
  • Label the parts of the ear by drawing a diagram of the ear or use the Ear worksheet
  • Paint a picture while listening to different types of music.
  • Make a string telephone.
  • Make your own instruments and play your own tune! 
  • Fill 8 bottles with water at different levels. Demonstrate how to change the sound by changing the water level. Create a simple tune by hitting the glasses with a spoon. 
  • Mystery Sounds: Blindfold your student. Make a variety of sounds (or use Find Sounds) and have your student guess what they are.
  • Build a Human Ear Model.
  • Make a list of sounds you hear in the next five minutes.
  • Use as many sound words as you can in a story. (Examples: bang, crash, thud, clang, clatter, crunch, patter, pop, rustle, rumble, neigh, chirp, splash, whistle)
  • Research one of these animals: bat, dolphin, whale and learn how they use echolocation. Write about what you learned. 
  • Alexander Bell and Sound worksheets.
  • Echo and grammaphone coloring pages.
Check off your studies in The Checklist when you finish! (Page 139, 153, 161)

How Many Children Poll Results

Results: 84% of the HDIT readers are homeschooling three or less children. Here's the breakdown: 
  • One child - 18%
  • Two children - 43%
  • Three children - 23%
  • Four children - 5%
  • Five children - 4%
  • Six children - 0%
  • Seven or more - 5%
NEW POLL: What method of homeschooling are you currently using?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Weather Games

Make learning about the seasons and weather even more fun by including some of these game ideas:

Weather Words: Give everyone a sheet a paper and a pencil. Set the timer for one minute. When you say go, everybody writes down all the weather words they can think of.

Feather Race: Set up a goal line with a heavy string or rope across the room. Give each player a feather and see who can blow the feather across the room first! 

Fall Leaf Race: Set a timer and see who can collect the most leaves in five minutes. Then pick out the best ones and press them between sheets of wax paper using a warm iron.

Weathervane - Name the four sides of the room as North, South, East and West. Select one player to be the wind who stands in the middle of the room. The rest of the players are the weathervanes located around the room. Played similar to Simon Says, the Wind calls out "North." All the vanes must immediately face North. If the Wind calls out "Storm," the vanes must spin around three times. If the Wind calls out "Breeze," the Vanes must raise up on their toes and sway back and forth. Take turns being the Wind.

Hurricane Pong: Each player must make a paper fan - the heavier the better. Clear an uncarpeted room of obstacles in the center of the room. Mark goal lines on each side of the open space. A ping pong ball is placed in the center of the floor. On a signal, two players use their fans to "blow" the ping pong ball across the room to his or her goal. They are not allowed to touch the ball with their fans. They can only use the wind from the fans to move the ball. The first one to get the ball over his or her goal is the winner.

More weather activities on Cloud Blog.

Free Audiobooks

Although this is a commercial site, you can download FREE podcasts of some of the best classics from Learn Out Loud:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Five Senses - Sight

There's much to learn about the five senses, so I recommend that you take them one at a time. This week, let's concentrate on sight. Here are a few resources that might help:

Topics to Study:
  • Parts of the eye.
  • Light
  • Color
  • Braille
  • 20/20 Vision, Nearsighted & Farsighted
Internet Research:
  • Compare an eye to a camera. How are they alike? Different?
  • Write a book report on Louis Braille or Helen Keller. Use mFamous Person report form, if desired.

Don't forget to check this off in your copy of The Checklist, page 153.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Virtual Dissections

Most homeschool moms I know do not like the "mess" of science dissections. Some children are not so keen on it either! There is an alternative that a lot more animal friendly: virtual dissections. 

In a virtual dissection, you watch someone else do the dissection. (They were going to do it anyway!) By watching the dissection and completing some lab worksheet sheets, your children will learn as much about dissection as a general biology student needs to know. Of course, if your child is planning on being a doctor, nurse or going into any other biology field, this probably is not the way to go! 

Here are some resources of virtual dissections:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

6 Steps to Creating Your Own Unit Study!

Most children learn better from using a variety of senses -hearing, seeing, and touching - than they do from reading textbooks and filling in worksheets. This is not to say that textbooks and worksheet should not be used. Rather, a good textbook and appropriate worksheets are essential for learning math, phonics and handwriting skills. But the use of hands-on activities, visual and audio materials, and good books make teaching and learning much more effective. Literature-based unit studies are an excellent way to incorporate enjoyable reading and activities that use all of the senses. You can buy Unit Studies already prepared or you can create your own to suit the needs of your family. Here's a simple way to create your own unit study on any topic you wish:

1. Pick a topic - any topic!
2. Read books on the topic: Spend 20 or 30 minutes reading nonfiction, historical fiction, or biographies. 
  • Read above-reading-level books to your children.
  • Assign your children books to read on their own that are below level. This will improve their reading speed and inspire them to read more! 
  • Use on--reading-level books to practice reading - take turns!
In this particular situation, by reading level, I mean whether or not your child can read the book easily. This has nothing to do with the books "official" reading level. Have your child read a paragraph or two. If it's too difficult for him or her to read, use it for family reading. If it's easy, use it for assigned reading. If it's in between, use it for reading practice. 

3. Do some research on the Internet related to the topic.

4. Spend another 10 - 30 minutes either on hands-on activities related to the topic or composition projects related to the topic. Alternate throughout the unit. 
  • Use the internet to locate activities. Type into your search engine terms such as "civil war and music" or "planets and coloring page"  or "Ben Franklin and worksheet." 
  • Sign up to receive updates and teaching tips from this blog!
5. Visit places related to the topic - take a field trip or a virtual field trip!

6. Take photos of your activities and field trips and collect in a portfolio. This is the record of what you are studying. This takes the place of report cards!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Learn the Months of the Year

Thanks to Lisa Swords for this idea! She asked me if I knew a song to teach the months of the year. Here are some I found on the Internet:

Friday, February 6, 2009

World War I - A Brief Introduction

Studying the World Wars does not sound like a lot of fun; however, using The Checklist for ideas of topics to cover and some creativity, studying the World Wars can be fun and interesting! Here are some resources you can use to create a short unit on World War I for your elementary age students:

Books to Read:
Internet Research:
Poetry, Music and Art:
Hands-On Activities to Do:
  • On a map of the world, color in all the countries involved in World War I. Color the allies in blue and the Central Powers in red.
  • Using clip art and photos, create a scrapbook or timeline of World War I.  
  • Draw a World War I recruitment poster.
  • Cook some World War I Food. Doughboy Recipes.
  • World War I Puzzle.
  • Research one of the major battles of WWI. Draw a map showing where it took place. Describe the battle and its results.
  • Make a list of the Allies and the Axis countries.
  • Pretend you are a solder in Wold War I or child of a soldier. Write your own diary entry.
Movies to Watch:
More ideas on my Web site!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mini Composition Workshop

How to Teach Composition - 
Mini Workshop 
by Cindy Downes 
(Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved.)

College admission officers from around the country unanimously agree that composition is one of the weakest areas for most college freshman. This includes homeschoolers as well. Why is this happening? The reasons are many but can include:
  • Composition is harder to teach. It’s much easier to teach grammar skills using workbooks.
  • Many teachers became English teachers because of their love of literature, not their love of writing.
  • Composition ability is difficult to assess. Grading papers is difficult and time consuming.
  • Composition is usually taught in isolation from other subjects; however, it takes too much time away from other subjects when taught as a separate course. Therefore it is neglected.
  • Composition, when taught, is usually taught in high school as practice for college writing only - usually expository essays and how to answer in examinations.
  • Little real world writing is taught - letters, resumes, creative, editorials, business writing, journalism, etc. because of lack of time.
General Guidelines for Writing Instruction
  1. Prepare a list of writing projects the student will undertake and set deadlines. These are your short-term writing goals. Use The Checklist pages 127-131, for a guide.
  2. Have a purpose for each writing assignment. For example: if they need practice in transitions, have them spend a week or two just practicing using transitions in their writing.
  3. Focus on only one or two new techniques per assignment (topic sentences, vivid verbs, idea starters, descriptive paragraph…) Don’t overwhelm them.
  4. Have an audience for the writing assignment: portfolio, friend or relative, letter to editor, newspaper to family, publication, or contests.
  5. Let them write about what they know or about what interests them.
  6. Don’t punish kids for grammar skill deficiencies in composition class. Make composition lesson be composition lesson, grammar lesson be grammar lesson.
  7. Allow them time to write - put it into your schedule. Spend more time in writing instruction than in grammar workbooks. You can teach grammar using their writing assignments and a good handbook. Have him write frequently in a Daily journal and integrate composition practice into other subjects.
  8. Read books to them that are above their grade level to help them increase their vocabulary.
Writing Instruction Timeline. Until the child can write comfortably in manuscript:
  1. Have him dictate his compositions to you. Tape them or you write as he speaks. An autobiography is a great project for the early years.
  2. Use Storybook Weaver Deluxe, Story Wizard, or similar software to practice composition.
  3. Make simple booklets with pictures.
  4. Read aloud from great pieces of literature to increase vocabulary and to illustrate good writing techniques.
  5. Use games like Squiggley’s Writing Corner to make writing fun (mad libs)
As writing becomes more comfortable:
  1. Teach him to outline.. 
  2. Use paper with lines and drawing space, writing booklets, or newspaper blanks to make writing more interesting. See Homeschool Forms for some templates.
After the child writes comfortably in both manuscript and cursive:
  1. Teach him to type - minimum 40+ wpm (Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Deluxe 20)
  2. Show her where to get ideas for writing. and more ideas.
  3. Have him write a list of things in which he is interested (sports, horses, airplanes). Use these as the basis for writing assignments.
  4. Have her start a clipping file: Collect magazine and newspaper clippings that interest her and use those for writing ideas.
  5. Visit museums, factories, missions, farms, read, expand their world. Have him take photos and use them as writing ideas.
  6. Have him carry a notebook in which he can jot down ideas, images he sees, characters he meets, dialogues he hears, interesting names, etc
  7. Teach her how to combine sentences to create more interesting sentences.
  8. Teach him to add details to his writing.
  9. Teach her to use transition words (although, after, therefore, while, finally…)
  10. Teach him to write good leads or “hooks.” Begin with a: Funny, interesting, or dramatic statement, a question, quotation, or an opinion statement.
  11. Teach her how to limit her topic.
  12. For help, use Harvey Wiener's, Any Child Can Write.
Teach the Rules of Vivid Verbs:
  1. Use active rather than passive verbs. Ex. The football was clutched by Dennis. Better: Dennis clutched the football.
  2.  Avoid using the “to be” verbs (is, are, was, were, am . .) Ex. Cindy is a fast typist. Better: Cindy types fast.
  3. Use verbs that show rather than tell. Ex. The truck ruined the toy car. Better: The truck flattened the toy car.
  4. Use a verb that is strong enough to stand alone without an adverb. Ex. Joan sat quickly on the sofa. Better: Joan plopped on the sofa.
More Tips:
  1. Teach him to write from different points of view (1st, 2nd or 3rd person). Read a short story, then have him rewrite it in another point of view.
  2. Teach her to write good endings.
  3. Have him write from dictation great pieces of literature.
  4. Let her use a word processor to write compositions if she is more comfortable.
How to correct your child’s writing.
  1. First focus on content.
  2. Have him read it out loud and rewrite parts that aren’t clear.
  3. Sentence structure-does it sound smooth when read aloud? If she is having trouble putting it on paper, have her tell you orally what she is trying to say. Then have her write it down. 
  4. Are there good transitions between paragraphs?
  5. Look at the arrangement of sentences, paragraphs. Reorder them if necessary. Alphabetical order; Chronological order; Geographical order—for example, describing an object from top to bottom or left to right; Rank order—presenting topics according to some measure such as smallest to biggest, least expensive to most expensive, or most favorite to least favorite.
  6. Is the main focus or idea of the piece either stated or suggested?
  7. Help him to delete confusing or unnecessary words.
  8. Does she use descriptive words?
  9. Does he use good action verbs?
  10. Is there a good title?
  11. Encourage him to rewrite (Rewrite however many time it takes to get it right. Put it away for awhile. Then go back and edit some more.) Hawthorne wrote one chapter over 100 times!
After the content is the way he wants it, edit for correctness.
  1. Spelling
  2. Punctuation
  3. Capitalization
  4. Usage (Verb Agreement, Grammar) - most of this is corrected during the oral reading.
Create the final product:
  1. Typeset
  2. Illustrate
  3. Publish (a reason to write)