"Intellectual distinction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for election to a Rhodes Scholarship. Selection committees are charged to seek excellence in qualities of mind and in qualities of person which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in the decades ahead. The Rhodes Scholarships, in short, are investments in individuals rather than in project proposals..."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cooperative Fun Learning

Here's a fun way to keep two age groups busy...

First - the back story.  My 3 year old son is superhero obsessed.  So much so that my pediatrician jokingly asked me if he owns more than one shirt.  The 3 year old was wearing his Superman Underoo shirt, AGAIN.  I explained, that no, he has four Superman Underoo shirts along with two batman Underoo shirts and two Spiderman Underoo shirts.  Most of them are hand-me-downs from his older brothers, but some are new.  Literally, that is all he would wear if I let him.  We've come to an agreement that he CAN'T wear a superhero shirt to church, but otherwise he can wear them.  He's now fond of wearing the Superman shirt under a button-down shirt so he can be just like Superman OR wear a turtleneck under the Superman Underoo.

My 11 year old daughter loves to draw.  One day, I needed both of them busy and SHE came up with this idea.  She drew a picture of random Batman images, including Robin, words in bubble letters like Zap and Pow all while the 3 year old told her what he wanted on the picture he wanted to paint.  She outlined them in Sharpie marker, then she colored them in with watercolor pastels.  She gave the picture to the 3 year old with a brush and water and he had a custom Superhero coloring page.

You could make a coloring book as a gift, if you are looking for a way for the older kids to gift the little ones.  You could also use watercolor colored pencils.  I've even heard you could make dots using washable markers.  What a nice way to get a big kid helping a little one!

This kept them busy for a good hour, with the big 11 year old helping all the way.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Replacement Book for Boy's Book Club

One of the mom's in our Boy's Medieval Book Club suggested a great replacement for The Mabinogian for our last book.  She and her son just read Men of Iron by Howard Pyle.  I've started reading it and LOVE the fact that Myles' religion plays the primary role in his decision making.  It's the kind of book 10-12 year old boys need to read.  I've also read that it is a very good depiction of the training a squire received.  I'll provide a full book report when I finish.

Check List for Auditory Processing Problems

I promised I would include a checklist for Auditory Processing Problems.  I poked around and found one  from The Listening Program website.  It's exactly the same checklist our OT clinic used.  I've placed X's next to the items of concern with my target child.  It is on those items I will be judging their progress.  Here it is:

X 1. Difficulty paying attention
X 2. Poor short-term memory
X 3. Poor reading comprehension
X 4. Difficulties spelling
X 5. Low academic/job performance
X 6. Difficulty starting and/or completing projects
X 7. Easily distracted in presence of background noise
8. Is oversensitive to certain sounds
X 9. Misunderstands directions or instructions
X 10. Confuses similar sounding words
    11. Difficulty understanding jokes/puns/humor
X 12. Frequently asks “huh” or “what”
X 13. Difficulty discriminating sounds
    14. Flat and monotonous voice quality
    15. Speech lacks fluency and rhythm
X 16. Difficulty sounding out words
X 17. Mispronounces words
X 18. Difficulty summarizing a story/expressing thoughts
X 19. Hyperactivity
   20. Has poor posture, including slouching or slumping
   21. Has coordination problems
X 22. Difficulty with organization and planning
   23. Is overwhelmed with sensory information
   24. Confusion of right and left and/or location and direction
  25. Lack of tactfulness
  26. Poor social skills
X 27. Feels overburdened with everyday tasks
  28. Low stress/frustration tolerance
  29. Difficulty reading non-verbal communication
  30. Poor self-image or low self-confidence

Theraputic Listening and Auditory Processing Problems

Sorry for the long absence.  Life with six kids, three book clubs, Spelling Team, choir, preparation for First Confession, American Heritage Girls, Boy Scouts and homeschooling has kept me plenty busy.  I'm happy to say we are on track with our school work (week 14) and we are looking forward to our school break during Christmas.

Now, on to the topic at hand.  Katherine Bowman, a Speech and Language Pathologist has this to say about Auditory Processing Disorder:
An auditory processing disorder (APD or CAPD) is a disorder in “how” auditory information is processed in the brain. It can be thought of as a “listening disorder” not a hearing disorder. The problem is in the brain – not in the ear.

The symptoms of APD are extremely varied, however, some of the most common are:
  • Children who say “huh” or “what” frequently
  • Children who don’t look or respond when their name is called
  • Children who give slow or delayed responses to people talking to them
  • Children who mispronounce typical word sounds
  • Children who have difficulty following oral directions
  • Children who misunderstand what is asked or said to them …these children usually answer off topic or don’t answer at all.
  • Children who are easily distracted or become confused especially when there is background noise
  • Children who avoid loud noises (cover their ears) even around common household noises
  • Children who show delays in acquiring language
  • Children who evidence difficulty learning phonics, reading and spelling
Symptoms of APD can actually be seen in infancy, however, they usually become noticed at about age 18-24 months.

APD can not be formally diagnosed by an audiologist until age 7 years, when the auditory system has maturated (fully developed). However, by age 5 speech-language pathologists, audiologists and/or psychologists can administer a sound based screening test along with auditory based language tests and determine if the child is “at risk” or “showing signs of APD.” 

I believe that one of my children is experiencing auditory processing problems.  Said child has difficulty hearing certain sounds in words (phonetic awareness) as well as reproducing certain words.  Mispronunciation is a common indicator of this problem.  It also will manifest itself in their ability to spell and read.  Attention issues, due to auditory distraction, can show up as well.

I used this program as part of an Occupational Therapy program with my oldest two.  My son's inability to see properly affected all his senses.  It heightened his sensitivities such that he was having  a hard time functioning in the world.  Everything was too loud, too smelly, too itchy-scratchy-twisted-wrinkled-hurt.  My daughter has a food sensitivity that was affecting her as well.  She probably didn't need the therapy, but she wasn't going to let him do anything without her

The logic behind the program seemed sound to me, so we decided to make the tremendous investment and use it.  We saw results right away.  It was astounding, but like all OT and Vision Therapy programs, it took diligence.  The child needed to listen to the program at least half an hour a day, five days a week for eight weeks.

The program we used was The Listening Program- Guidebook and 8 CDs.  We also invested in some top-the-line headphones.  The right headphones are important because the specially-created compact discs produce sounds at a high frequency that many headphones can't carry to the user.

So, we've started this program with my 7 and 5 year old children and I've convinced my 12 year old to try it again, too.  He was all to happy to include in his school day a half hour of time to play with Legos!

I'll post bi-weekly with results. When I have time, I will post some common indicators, used in our OT center's evaluation process to determine if a child has Auditory Processing issues.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update to Boy's Book Club Listing

I ran into a little trouble this week with some of the planned reading for my Boy's Medieval Book Club.  We were planning on using _The Mabinogion_ by Sioned Davies for our next book.  I took this recommendation from my very favorite curriculum guide, Latin-Centered-Curriculumby Andrew Campbell.  I made a major mistake in not reading that particular version of the book prior to recommending it because it was specifically called out in the curriculum guide.

The Mabinogion is a group of Welsh/Celtic myths surrounding King Arthur, passed down orally and written at a later date.  Lady Charlotte Guest translated them in the 1800's.  I had read her translation and found the vocabulary too challenging for our 5th-9th grade boys.  So, I took the recommendation from the book because Campbell specifically called out the Davies translation because of the wonderful introduction and awesome vocabulary guide.  He also said any "in-print" version of the Mabinogion tales were acceptable.  To his credit, he recommended a children's version,  Tales from the Mabinogion by Gwyn Thomas and Kevin Crossley-Holland.  However, that version is out of print and sadly looked a little more juvenile than my group would like.  They resisted the first book, Favorite Medieval Tales by Mary Pope Osborne because some felt it was rather "baby-ish".   It really was well done, but these are boys who want some meat to their reading.  So, I mistakenly picked The Mabinogion (Oxford World's Classics) which is clearly written for adults based on the content (sexual in nature) in many of the stories.

To his credit, Andrew Campbell exchanged several emails with me.  He indirectly chastised me (rightfully so) for not reading it before recommending it.  He did offer me some good advice about proceeding, however.  Here it is:
  • Unfortunately there really is no way to sanitize these stories to remove all references to pre-Christian morals. The Arthurian legends themselves center on adultery as the reason for the fall of Camelot. People have different levels of comfort with this aspect of older literature. Campbell said he once taught the Arthurian legends to a group of very devout Catholic children, grades 4-7. They simply noted how unfaithfulness led to tragedy for all of the characters.  They didn't dwell on the topic, but he said they didn't avoid it entirely either.
  • Now obviously if there are boys in the group who don't yet know the facts of life or recognize euphemisms for sex, the passages in the Davies version would no doubt confuse them.  Check in with the other parents (and yourself!) and ask whether they would be comfortable with the story as it is. If not, it is certainly fine to skip it.
  • When it comes to the Arthurian legends themselves, you can always focus on the better-known stories: the sword in the stone, the founding of the Round Table, Lancelot (as a knight, not in his relationship with the queen), Galahad and the Grail. 

 So, lesson learned.  We are skipping it for now.  I am quickly trying to decide how to proceed so we don't miss our next reading deadlines.  Stay tuned!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Preparing for the Spelling Bee

I just finished my FAQ for our homeschool co-op's spelling team, which I lead.

Part of what I do is prepare fun workshops to help improve spelling skills and build vocabulary.  One of the best places to start are with some great on-line resources.  Check them out for your aspiring Spelling Bee Champ.
First off, I love Free Rice.  We LOVE being able to practice vocabulary while helping to feed the poor.
Then check out Spelling City.  You can enter in your own spelling lists and learn, test and play games to reinforce spelling skills.
Now head over to Spelling Bee The Game for a real-life competition.  The words are incredibly challenging.
Then go to Big IQ Kids for some fun.  You need to click on Spelling Bee Free Game.  You can do all kinds of fun stuff there like US Geography, Math and Vocabulary games as well. Kids get rewarded with fun logic games for doing well.
Another site we like is Word Plays.   There are many options for word play there.

I'll post more ideas here after I present them to our team, but for now, here's the gist of how our Spelling Team works:

Who can participate?
SCRIPPS will allow any child that is in grade 4-8, up to the age of 15 (as long as their birthday was/will be AFTER 8/31).
What does it cost to participate?
I had originally projected a cost of $10 per child.  I’ve amended that to $10 per child with a cap at $15 per family.  

What does your $10 buy?
·         Access to the Spelling Team Yahoo!  Group
Participants will have access to all the group materials via a Yahoo! Group.  Invitations will be sent following payment for the family.

·         Access to the SCRIPP spelling lists and rules
All of the resources available from SCRIPPS will be available at the Spelling Team Yahoo! Group.  SCRIPPS provides lists for all the grades.  It also provides spelling guides for the difficult words we will move onto during the Spelling Bee when we exhaust the words on the grade lists.  It’s extremely helpful to use these spelling guides to prepare for our Bee and the SCRIPPS Regional Spelling Bee.   It is also imperative that the participants be aware of the rules so they are not disappointed when we move on to our practice Bees and the final Bee.

·         Participation in fun spelling workshops
Twice a month we will meet for OPTIONAL spelling workshops.  The workshops are a lot of fun, filled with games, group lessons (advanced phonograms and word etymology), practice Bees and supplemental homework.  All supplemental homework and activities will be available via the  Spelling Team Yahoo! Group.

·         Participation in Spelling Bee
We will hold a Spelling Bee at the end of January.  The judge and pronouncer’s schedule along with facility availability and speller availability will determine the date. 
Last year, the Spelling Bee took approximately 2 hours to complete.  I will allot three hours this year in case we have a great match!
We will have a small reception at the conclusion of the Spelling Bee to hand out awards and thank you’s.

·         The First Prize Winner will go on to participate in the SCRIPPS Regional Spelling Bee
The first prize winner of the Spelling Bee will receive a trophy, a free one year membership to Encyclopedia Britannica online and will go on to the SCRIPPS Regional Spelling Bee in the spring.
The second place winner will receive a trophy, a free one year membership to Encyclopedia Britannica online and will be a stand-in in the event the first place winner cannot participate.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What the tests reveal...

We did standardized testing yesterday.  I am both excited and afraid of what will be revealed (although I usually already know).   It was MOSTLY a glorious report.  I know where we need work and am thankful for the hard work my children have put forth in their studies.  The "achiever" in me wants to only go after the lower scores and bring them up but my husband reminds me that where their high scores are we find their highest interests - those things that will lead them to learning more and more (a la TJEd).   I will stay on course and not do much different than work on bringing score up only if they were below grade level.

What always surprises me most (and after years of doing this it shouldn't), is how much my kids pick up from just reading.  During the general knowledge portion of the test I am amazed by what questions they know.  I think to myself, "I didn't teach them that!" When I ask them later, they can usually site the source of their data right off the top of their head.  I just love that.

I ran into a lovely lady who attended one of my seminars at 2010 MCHEC.  I wanted to post this link for the handout to my talk on Learning Modalities for her.  Melanie - it's here.  Please speak up in the com box if there are other handouts you would like and I'd be glad to share.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2010-2011 Book Club for 5th - 8th Grade Boys

Medieval Book Club

 UPDATE:  We replaced The Mabinogion with Men of Iron by Howard Pyle.  The version of The Mabinogion we were going to use was to advanced (in more than one way) for this age group.  Men of Iron is an excellent replacement, or you could use Tales of the Mabinogion instead.

Join us as we immerse ourselves in medieval European legend with the stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood.  We will meet once a month.  We will use the Socratic method of literary analysis to discuss each book.  We welcome young men in 5th – 8th grade. 

Here is our reading schedule.  Please have the reading done BEFORE the meeting date:
Oct. - Read Favorite Medieval Tales by Mary Pope Osborne
Nov. - Read the Introduction, Translators Note and Chapters 1-5 of The Mabinogion by  Sioned Davies Oxford University Press
Dec. – Read Chapters 6-11 of The Mabinogion by  Sioned Davies Oxford University Press (Click to see the link on Amazon.com)
Jan. - Read the author’s note, Book 1 and Book 2 of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
Feb. - Read Book 3 and Book 4 and the epilogue of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green
Mar. - Read the prologue and Chapters 1-15 of The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
April - Read Chapters 16-24, plus the epilogue of The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green

2010-2011 Book Club for 9-12 year old girls

Little Women Book Club

Join us in reading the Little Women Trilogy by Louisa May Alcott.  We will meet once a month to discuss approximately 200 pages worth of reading.  We’ve included the schedule below.  Each book discussion will include a Socratic style literary analysis along with some stitching and snacking. 

Here’s our schedule:

Oct.  Preface and Chapters 1-15 of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Nov. Chapters 16-32 of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Dec. Chapters 33-47 and the Afterword of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Jan. Read the beginning through the chapter called Naughty Nan of Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Feb. Read from Pranks and Plays through the chapter called Goldilocks Nan of Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
March Read from Damon and Pythias to the end of the book of Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
April Read Chapters 1-10 of Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott
May Read Chapters 11-22 of Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott

2010-2011 Book Club for 6-8 year old girls

 Josefina - Catholic American Girl Book Club
Program Outline
October – Book:  Meet Josefina
  • Program overview for the girls
  • Narration sign up
  • Historical introduction
  • Craft – Memory Boxes for All Soul’s Day
  • Snack – Tortilla chips and dip and a discussion about grinding corn with a stone
  • Play DESIGNATIONS (Roles will be assigned by picking names out of a hat)
 November – Book:  Josefina Learns a Lesson
  • 2-3 Narrations
  • Historical discussion on clothing of the period and culture
  • Craft – Knitting Looms.
  • Snack – Bizcochitos
  • Play practice
 December – Book:  Josefina’s Surprise
  • 2-3 Narrations
  • Historical and cultural celebration of Advent and Christmas (Los Posadas)
  • Craft – Christmas gift for Mom
  • Snack – Churros
  • Play practice
 January – Book:  Happy Birthday, Josefina
  • 2-3 Narrations
  • Historical and cultural look at medicine
  • Discuss Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego
  • Craft – Make a fabric covered book
  • Snack – Sun butter (made from sunflower seeds) dip with tortilla chips
  • Play practice
 February – Book:  Josefina Saves the Day
  • 2-3 Narrations
  • Historical and cultural look at music
  • Craft – Lace-up leather pouches
  • Snack – Sopaipillas
  • Play practice
 March – Book:  Changes for Josefina
  • Historical and cultural look at dancing and art
  • Craft – Pottery w/Mexican clay 
  • Snack – Nut free Mexican Wedding Cakes
  • Dress Rehearsal for play
 April – Play:  Josefina’s Gift
  • We will have a final dress rehearsal
  • Refreshments and entertainment for the whole family
The Liberty Girls will present  Josefina’s Gift (20 minute play based on the story Happy Birthday, Josephina) and talent show for family and friends.  We will display the things we have made in our club.  Refreshments will be served. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

All the rage this Summer...

I found out about this on a Yahoo! group about Latin Centered Curriciulum.  Minimus is a Latin program written by Barbara Bell from England.  My kids are absolutely loving it.  We have two student guides and one CD.  The girls pair up and the oldest boy sit and listen to the CD and read the book.  It's a bit of a graphical novel (read Comic Book) about a mouse that lives in Roman Briton with a Roman family.  The story is based on historical artifacts found at a settlement called Vindolanda.  So, it's not only Latin, but a small unit study on Roman History in Britain.

I haven't used it as a text book.  I simply put the books and CD out on our school table, which is in our family room, and the kids found it on their own.  They are noticing on their own the differences in pronunciation from Prima Latina and pointing them out to me.  We talked about Ecclesiastical and Classical pronunciation. 

My seven year old will be using Song School Latin next year and now I am struggling with which pronunciation to use.  Song School Latin has both on the CD.  For those of you who have taught Latin before, what have you used?  I could use some help here.

I will now, most definitely be getting Minimus Secondus, if not for a Latin text, then just to leave out again for the kids to find and enjoy on their own.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where you are going and how you will get there! Advice for a Home Educator providing a Classical Education

I just read this article by Stanley Fish of the New York Times, and opinion piece titled "A Classical Education: Back to the Future."  Fish talks about his education and where he thinks we are and need to go.  Here's my favorite part:
I wore my high school ring for more than 40 years. It became black and misshapen and I finally took it off. But now I have a new one, courtesy of the organizing committee of my 55th high school reunion, which I attended over the Memorial Day weekend.
I wore the ring (and will wear it again) because although I have degrees from two Ivy league schools and have taught at U.C. Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Duke, Classical High School (in Providence, RI) is the best and most demanding educational institution I have ever been associated with. The name tells the story. When I attended, offerings and requirements included four years of Latin, three years of French, two years of German, physics, chemistry, biology, algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry, English, history, civics, in addition to extra-curricular activities, and clubs — French Club, Latin Club, German Club, Science Club, among many others. A student body made up of the children of immigrants or first generation Americans; many, like me, the first in their families to finish high school. Nearly a 100 percent college attendance rate. A yearbook that featured student translations from Virgil and original poems in Latin...
Here's a man that realized all the hard work paid off.  He goes on to discuss three current books on Classical Education, but finishes with this:
In short, get knowledgeable and well-trained teachers, equip them with a carefully calibrated curriculum and a syllabus filled with challenging texts and materials, and put them in a room with students who are told where they are going and how they are going to get there.
Worked for me.

I like Stanley Fish.  He's a professor of humanities and law at Florida International University in Miami and the dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He's taught at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and Duke.  I like him.  He's in my camp.

But more importantly, he's on to something.  I think some kids (like me) need to hear where they are going and how they are going to get there.  No one ever explained to me WHY I needed humanities or Latin.  In fact it is one of the reasons I went to technical college instead of a four year school.  I did end up going later, but that's another story.  Had someone told me then what I have had to learn the hard way now, I think my life would have been so different.  I can fix that for my kids, though.

I ask my kids and the kids in my book clubs why we need to learn History, Latin, Music, Art, Math.  You'd be surprised how many kids are like me.  They don't know WHY.  Tell your kids.  They will gladly step on the bus.  Okay, maybe not gladly, but they will thank you later.  Like Stanley Fish.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Worth Passing On to those with Preschoolers

I belong to a Yahoo! Group about Catholic Homeschooling.  Someone sent this list of 60 things for Preschoolers to do on their own and said to feel free to distribute it!  It's wonderful. Now, you may not have all the toys she mentions, but she has links!  Enjoy.

For what it's worth, I've compiled my list of 60 activities for my preschooler to do independently while I'm doing lessons with my other children. (If you're not homeschooling but still have a preschooler at home, this may help you get some "just for you" time...)

My preschooler will be encouraged to participate with our lessons as she wants to or is capable (like listening to stories during Language Arts or History; she can certainly "do art" but I'm not going to force it and hopefully these activities will keep her occupied and out of trouble.

Feel free to pass this on to anyone else whom you think may find this helpful.

Preschooler Ideas for Younger  Siblings - 3 and up

Since I'm using all the provided curriculum boxes for the kids (from K12), I decided to take the biggest box --the one that the art clay, plaster of Paris, etc. came in, and designate it my three year old's "school box". This way her school box is just like her siblings'. This box will ONLY be used at school time, and will only be used at the table. You can take any box and decorate it and make it the "special" box...brought out only at certain times and each time having something different in it.

Inside will be her own pencil box that will have a set of markers, (crayola washable, naturally) a pair of Fiskars kid scissors, a box of crayons, a pencil, a pen, and a glue stick. Each day I will put some papers in there for her to either color, cut up, paste things on, or practice writing (simple mazes and such for her to follow, etc.)

Each week I'll put one or two interesting books that she will enjoy looking at. There will also be one or two "special activities" that will change from day to day, made up of (mostly) educational toys and stuff that I currently have on hand but has been "put away" for a while.... Each day there'll be something different to do, either loose in the box or in a zipper top Ziploc bag (the kind with the slider zipper is easier for the kids to manipulate than the traditional ones).

The idea of this box is for her to entertain herself with little or no guidance from me while I work with her older siblings. She will more than likely be participating with us during some lessons (she likes to play "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" with the phonics tiles, LOL) .

Here are some ideas for the activities. Some will be in a zippered bag, some won't. I have 60 activities, so that I'll have enough for 2 per day per month. At the end of the month I'll start over again. The key to the success of these is to keep them a surprise and limit access to them so that the novelty does NOT wear off. Some seemingly obvious things, like legos and matchbox cars are missing from this list because they play with them almost every day. I got the ideas for many of these activities from various websites with preschoolers in mind. I do not have these in any particular order. Obviously they need to be mixed up so there aren't a whole slew of similar activities piggy backing day in and day out......Also, I'm not going to insult your intelligence by reminding you about choking hazards, which some of these activities may contain...use your common sense based upon your child, and you'll be fine!...

1. sock match...several pairs of colorful infant socks that she's outgrown in the bag to match up or just play with. If I know her she'll have them on her hands and feet for half an hour.

2. dominoes...to build with and do who knows what with...

3. Discovery Toys Tinyville Magnets (these are magnets in shapes like people, vehicles, animals, buildings, cloud, stars, moon, etc...) and the magnetic white board

4. Play Doh, with geometric shaped cookie cutters

5. Play Doh with farm animal cookie cutters

6. Paint in a bag...put two colors of paint in a doubled Ziploc bag, seal it with clear tape, and let her squish them to mix the colors. There will be a couple of different color combinations

7. More magnets --from a magnet kit...lots of different plane figures and a magnetic base to build upon

8. Blues Clues Cards there are nine sets of four cards, three "clues" that go with one card. Got these at a dollar store that was going out of business...got them for 50 cents! :-)

9. Mixies cards (11 sets of three different cards that form a picture...these came from somebody's birthday party favor bag)

10. Puzzle Pairs (Discovery Toys two piece puzzles of things that go together, like a sock and foot, sink and soap, etc)

11. Memory...for The Preschooler I'll probably only give her 24 cards at a time as opposed to the full set of 72; this way I can get 3 activities from one memory game and she won't be overwhelmed!

12. Animal Lotto..she can match up all the animals on the boards...

13. Spirit "jigsaw" puzzle...I printed out a horse picture colored to look like Spirit and am gluing it to felt, then cutting it out in simple shapes for her to put together. I will probably put a couple more like this in
there too.

14. Pattern blocks (mine are from K12; easily obtained from curriculum suppliers for a few bucks)

15. Wooden Geometric Solids...these will keep her occupied for at least a half hour; as with above, easily obtained from suppliers, often for under $10 for a nice set of 12 hardwood blocks

16. Math linking cubes- these are the multi link cubes, not unifix cubes. The multi link cubes are connectable all the way around, unlike unifix cubes that only connect one way.

17. Lincoln Logs

18. dry rice with a funnel, measuring cup, measuring spoon, and containers

19. Lacing beads with shoe laces (the long heavy duty ones from ds's old workboots work really well)

20. Giant pegboard and rubber bands

21.Rubber stamps with farm animals

22. Rubber stamps with numbers

23. Discovery Toys Playful Patterns

24. Discover Toys AB Seas alphabet fishing game

25. Discovery Toys Itsy Bitsy Spider Game

26 Discovery Toys Bright Builders (being a former consultant has its advantages!)

27. Stickers! Lots of STICKERS. Draw shapes on a piece of paper and give lots of tiny stickers to fill in the shapes with. You could also write the child's name on there to put stickers on each letter...so the name shows up in stickers. the smaller the sticker the better as it takes more time to fill them in.

28. Animal cards...you know those "clubs" where you get wildlife cards? Well I picked up half a set at a yardsale and the kids love looking at the pictures...that should keep her busy for 20 minutes

29. Mr and Mrs Potato Head Not sure if it's educational, but it should keep her busy for a half hour, hopefully. LOL

30. Bucket of Goop (three parts cornstarch to one part water) in a small empty oxyclean bucket with a scoop, funnel, graduated cylinder from K12, and another container to pour the goop into. Messy and fun but easy to clean up.

31. Watercolor paints I miss those old "Paint with water" books where all you had to do was have a paintbrush and water. The new ones come with a set of watercolors attached, but in this case, I'd really like the books with the pictures already "colored" and you just swipe it with a wet brush to "paint." Maybe lacking in creativity, but hey. After painting one picture The Preschooler will probably have the paint set ruined by not rinsing out the brush...my idea here is for her do to something WITHOUT guidance from me...oh well...

32. Lacing cards. Using the shoe laces from the lacing beads. I'll cut out shapes from light weight cardboard and cover with contact paper before punching holes in it. Someone else suggested using old bleach bottles but
I'm afraid that cutting them up will ruin my scissors. LOL

33. Felt shapes and felt board...using cookie cutters and other things as patterns, I'll make some little people and geometric shapes for her to play with. I'll cover a piece of sturdy cardboard with felt.

Bananas for the Monkeys Original Author Unknown: Cut five monkey shapes out of brown felt and fifteen banana shapes out of yellow felt. Number the monkeys from 1 to 5 and place them on flannel board. Have the children identify the number on each monkey and place that many bananas in front of it.

34. Puppets in a Bag --yarn, facial features already cut out, a brown lunch sack, and some glue...a puppet kit!

35. Glue, Yarn, and shapes...sorry, no creative name for this. I'll draw some shapes on construction paper and give her a small (the tiny size) bottle of Elmer's glue to squeeze onto the lines I drew (helps build small
motor coordination) and then she can put the yarn on the shapes. Other times, do this with her name, or a house, or something similar. I buy the tiny bottles once, then get the more economical bigger bottles to refill
with later as needed. I don't even buy Elmer's half the time.

36. Collage in a bag...rip out some magazine pages with interesting pictures for her to cut out and paste on a piece of paper...maybe following a certain theme...like one time have it all healthy foods...another time, families and kids, animals, flowers, etc.

37. Bean Sort - Since she's pretty much beyond sticking a bean up her nose and requiring dh to remove it with needle nose pliers, I figure this is now a safe activity for her to do with only moderate supervision. (yes
that's what happened and I got rid of our "Don't Spill The Beans Game" after dd and I were traumatized by this.dd was much more mortified by the sight of her daddy heading toward the preschooler's nose with those pliers...I didn't look.  :) ) Lots of different beans in a bucket for her to measure, pour, sort, and throw on the floor for me to vacuum up.

38. Eyedropper, small container of water, and a mini ice cube tray or Styrofoam egg carton. If you're feeling adventurous, use colored water to make it interesting. Demonstrate how to use the eyedropper both to fill and
empty the cups... Would also work well with mini muffin tins, I suppose...

39. Colored Pasta - color your own pasta, using wheels or any other pasta that has large openings (easy to lace.) Use small amount of rubbing alcohol and several drops of food coloring in an airtight container or Ziploc. Leave the pasta in for a few minutes ; shaking it up or stirring a few times. Take it out to dry in a single layer. . then provide laces to string them up. You could provide some color or shape patterns on cards to duplicate.

40. Penny Count (source: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/3446/keeplittleones.html) I will make a more compact version on a single sheet of paper, and use circles the same size as the counting tokens (bingo chips)...match the colors and number amounts! But I thought the whole idea was pretty neat:
Make a poster board showing "cells" of numbers. Example: Draw a square, write "1" in it. Draw or tape down "1" penny in the square. Do the same with each square...up to ten or twenty...your choice. I'd start with 10 first and then draw two more squares at a time up to twenty as child gets better at this skill.
2) Give your child a basket or plastic container of pennies and have him match up pennies that you have put down with the picture in each square.  (Ex. In the "2" cell, he would put below your example 1, 2 pennies in a
one-to-one correspondence. Check him when he is done by having him count each cell with you. Repetition is what teaches counting!
3) Eventually "test" your child by showing him only a number "3" printed on a index card and have him lay down 3 pennies and say "3". You might even write the word "three" along with the number "3" back in step one so that the child is learning a sight vocabulary word along with the printed "3".  You would only do this if your child already knows the alphabet though. Then you could hold up a card that says "three" and see if he can lay the correct pennies down when seeing the word too.

41. Super ball or small car and a paper towel or Christmas paper tube. If you feel creative you could make a marble run of sorts with a couple tubes (see www.familyfun.com) I probably won't...she'll be happy enough with this.  Why get more complicated than you need to? I could also let her color it with markers if she wanted.

42. Magnet and paperclips, washers, a nail, etc.

43. A large (big enough to climb in) box. 'Nuff said.

44. A giant piece of paper (or PAVCS posterboard) to color on...whatever desired...just give the paper and markers and you're set.

45. Lots of colored pom poms and tweezers to sort them out...look for tweezers that will be easy for little hands to manipulate, like the ones that come with the game Bed Bugs...heck, look for the Bed Bugs game. LOL

46. Treasure Hunt: large pot or box filled with corn meal, oat meal, rice, etc, with small "treasures" hidden inside...individually wrapped candy, coins, Barbie shoes, game pieces, etc. Make a picture checklist with all the items to find!

47. Colored Straws and scissors: nothing more to say. LOL straws are good for scissor practice because one snip and you have instant results. Provide Elmer's glue and paper and it's time to make a mosaic!

48. Discovery Toys Busy Bugs This can be duplicated with any manipulative, but I just got the game off eBay for $10. Might be able to find something similar in a homeschool catalog... kind of like the penny poster above, just using something different to play with and put the "problems" on index cards instead of the poster. You could use stuff around the house like coins, counters, buttons, pasta...make up index cards with patterns to duplicate/put simple problems on there: show items with number and number word under it, or do a simple problem like 2+2= etc...... This activity will be accompanied by a couple bug books and hopefully a neat bug video from the library!

49. Sticks, chunks of moss, rocks, leaves...with small rubber animals or dinosaurs...add some sand in a 9x13 baking pan...don't worry about sand on the floor...that's what vacuum cleaners are for!!!!! On a nice day do all your school work outside...heck, let the older kid SKIP schoolwork to do this outside... :-)

50. Magnetic Treasure Hunt: like the treasure hunt (#46) above, only this time use metal items and a magnet to attract them! Be sure your magnet isn't too strong or your kid will get several treasures at once!

51. Memory 2 see activity 11

53 Memory 3 see activity 11

54. Checkers and a small purse/canvas bag.... Checkers are cool cause they stack. If you can get more than two dozen, that's even better. Dollar stores often have checker games.

55. Chess pieces. Get a cheap chess/checkers game or two at the dollar store. Rachel likes to play with the pieces like they're alive. :-)

56. Magnetic Marbles I picked these up at a dollar store. Amazing the things you find at these places! I know that they'll be interesting for at least fifteen to twenty minutes...maybe more.

57. Popsicle sticks and Elmer's glue. Bob the builder at your service! Real cool if you have colored sticks...or just color them with markers when done.  This is great for eye hand coordination and small motor building. You could put the glue in a small plastic cup or on a paper plate and have child apply it with a cotton swab to avoid "excessive" glue....

58. Rubber Stamps with letters

59. Viewmaster and reels --I'm trying to collect educational rather than twaddle reels (cartoon characters = twaddle). I want to find reels of  animals and places that are real.

60. Farm Animals and Barn. Our barn was being abused (read: animals left all over the house) plus we really don't have shelf space for the barn to be out  all the time. So I'll bring it out from time to time...maybe when nothing else is working and the Preschooler is being a real pill.

One thing I am going to try not to worry about is "THE MESS" with some of these activities. Messes happen. Elmer's, crayola markers, and watercolors wash off. Sand and rice vacuums up. (You'll note I didn't put finger paints or tempera paint activities here...#1, that's not recommended without supervision...because tempera stains...and #2...well, tempera stains. LOL I've chosen things that will have a moderate clean up factor, if any. I may even let the Preschooler use the vacuum hose to clean up any spills...the other two will probably fight her for the "privilege". LOL And when they're old enough to actually handle the vacuum, it's no longer "fun" for them and they don't want to do it!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Multisensory Math Facts

The gist of my talk, "How to Get Your Kids to See the Light!" is really multi-sensory learning. It's unlikely a homeschool with more than two children will be made up of learners that all use the same primary learning modality. Besides, using a multi-sensory technique to teach increases the chance of retention.

Learning Math facts can be tedious. But, I assure you that if you can find a way to hit on that primary modality, it will stick. My favorite multi-sensory Math weapon is the Math Machine.  My dear friend Julie gifted us with the Multiplication Math machine and Division Math machine that her girls were done using.  They are the most pleasing tactile Math manipulative I have ever used.  All of my children love them.  Each of the buttons are spring loaded and release with an almost pleasing ping when depressed.  My little boys make car tracks with them or patterns, even though they are too young to understand them.  More importantly, the kids that needed them love them and have gotten good results using them.

For your auditory learners, you might consider Audio Memory Systems' math songs.  There are the Wrap Ups which come with Wrap Up Raps.  My visual learner finds both of the audio selections horrible, so you might want to consider that if you have a visual learner.  There is School House Rock which has several Math Fact songs that are more pleasing than the Raps or AMS options.  Just remember to check in with your child to make sure that it is working.

Lastly, I want to put in a plug for Finger Math.  I am a tactile learner.  Math facts never came easy for me until I learned the Korean method of finger math called Chisenbop.  I swear, without it, I would have never excelled as far as I did in Math and Science.  I have the book (on the left).  I have used Finger Math, to some degree, with my older kids.  My daughter, the visual learner, did not need it.  My son, wasn't terribly interested, but my middle daughter is interested, so we'll be taking some more "secret finger Math lessons" over the summer to see how it sets with her.

Ultimately, you need to find something that works because life without memorizing these facts, or finding some way to quickly do the operations will be slow and tedious.  One of my children dragged their feet on learning those facts and now understands, when Math takes a painful amount of time, that  had those facts been memorized Math would be done sooooo much more quickly!

By the way, for a truly multi-sensory Math program, check out Math-U-See.  My kids did not like it but not because it was multi-sensory.  They still used the MUS blocks.  One child is overwhelmed by big pages full of Math problems.  Teach Textbooks is a good choice for that child because each question is presented separately.  The other child found it BORING.  That child needs more challenge and has returned to Singapore Math.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shout out for new game website

Here's a website of free printable games. The feature new ones each week, so you might want to get on their email list or check back regularly.

We're doing Apologetics at the dinner table.  Lately, it has been bothering me how I seem to not be able to find the words to defend my faith.  My husband has been reading Nuts and Bolts: A Practical Guide for Explaining and Defending the Catholic Faith by Tim Staples during Eucharistic Adoration.  He wants us to help the kids to better understand our Faith and be able to counter anti-Catholic remarks both charitably and correctly.  My husband informs me that Tim Staples kids are homeschooled, so he will be looking in the book for further ideas of how to introduce Apologetics to the kids.

So how to you turn Apologetics into a game?  Remember, they don't HAVE to know the answer to the questions to play.  If you've ever played a game like Trivial Pursuit, you know that.  So, we'll be either facing off girls against the boys OR South Side of the Table -vs- North Side of the Table with Dad giving the questions from the Friendly Defenders cards.

When the kids get older, I will be working on a debate style program for my kids and others.  I took debate in high school and LOVED it.  My partner and I won several matches at the local level.  Once my kids have started Logic (2011-2012 school year), we may start.  I intend to do this like a book club, only we will be working on finding the arguments most Catholics face against the Faith and find Biblical responses to those.  We will most likely approach it by doing a Lincoln Douglas Debate Case.  I look forward to this exercise and think it will be beneficial for all of us.

Catholic Apologetics can simply be taught with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible.  But that can be fairly dry.  You could also use the Baltimore Catechism.  However, I recommend books like those by Tim Staples.  Dr. Ray Guarendi now has a DVD course available called "What Catholics Believe."  If it's half as good as the keynote he gave at the 2010 Minnesota Catholic Home Educators Conference, it's worth the money.   If you have a preteen or teen child that likes to read, you might want to consider having them read the book  A Philadelphia Catholic in King James' Court.  It was a fun read!

So, what do you do for your kids?  Are they learning Apologetics via the Catechism or are you doing something else?  I'd love ideas, if you are willing to share.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Yes, in truth, there is beauty.

In season three of the original Star Trek series, there is an episode  called Is There in Truth no Beauty?  My husband thinks otherwise. 

To say my husband has no hand in educating my children would be lying.  He brings a tremendous amount of resources to the table.  He's more educated and better read than I am.  Here is an example.  He uses Star Trek to educate our children and introduce them to important pieces of Classic Literature and important periods in history.  Or perhaps he just wanted to have an excuse to watch Star Tek with the kids.  You decide.

Ed. Note:  He started this project in 2009 and it is still a work in progress.  


Season One, 1966-67

The Cage (pilot)
After being tricked by an illusionary distress signal, captain Pike escapes from his captors who wanted to use him and his crew to rebuild their world."
Note that some components of this, such as referring to the second in command as “Number One” were used later in The Next Generation
The actress who played Number One was recast as Nurse Chapel, and also as Gene Roddenberry’s real-life wife!
Where No Man Has Gone Before'
"When the Enterprise nears the galactic barrier, two crewmembers develop telepathic powers which threaten the ship."
Explores a common theme within Star Trek and other science fiction:  what if our abilities advance faster than our ability to control them?
The Corbomite Maneuver'
An alien ship threatens the Enterprise with destruction, causing Kirk to use a ruse to trick the opponent.
Essentially a lesson in the merits of playing poker rather than chess. 
This is a common theme across all Star Trek iterations.
It establishes for the first time that, all things being equal, intuition is more valuable than logic or intellect.
Mudd's Women
Kirk rescues Harry Mudd, a pirate, and the three beautiful women who are his cargo, en route to a lithium mining colony.
Parental Warning:  ultimately scores points for advocating “the beauty within”, but not before showcasing the objectification of women.
The Enemy Within
A transporter malfunction splits the captain into a good Kirk, who can't command very well, and an evil Kirk, who makes passes at Janice Rand and manipulates the crew
Pure Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Man Trap
A shape-shifting "salt vampire" which seduces its victims by appearing as someone attractive to them comes on board.
Parental Warning:  the creature is pretty scary for younger ones.
The Naked Time
The crew contracts a disease which brings their repressed emotions to surface, causing a young lieutenant to shut down the engines and leading Kirk to fear he can't command the ship.
This story line is revisited in “The Naked Now” episode in ST: TNG
Shows what happens when one loses their moral compass; their inhibitions
Charlie X
When the Enterprise transports Charlie, an adolescent human with powerful telekinetic abilities, back to the Federation, he makes crewmembers vanish and takes frightening steps to make Yeoman Rand fall in love with him.
Parental Warning:  one brief image really frightens younger ones, when one crew woman’s face is completely blanked out and she can’t speak or breathe
Good lesson on proper etiquette for treating women
Balance of Terror
The Romulans destroy an outpost and Kirk pursues their commander, whose cloaking device enables his ship to vanish from sensors.
Retelling of the classic WWII movie “Run Silent, Run Deep”.
What are Little Girls Made of?
Kirk pursues the missing fiance of Nurse Chapel, who has survived underground with the help of androids from a vanished civilization.

Dagger of the Mind
While delivering supplies to a facility for the criminally insane, Kirk is taken hostage by a power-hungry doctor who uses a neural neutralizer to control the minds of his patients.
Title is a reference to MacBeth, William Shakespeare
See “Animal Farm”, George Orwell
See the Zimbardo Prison Study:  http://www.prisonexp.org/

On a planet of decades-old children, one of whom develops a crush on Captain Kirk, the away team becomes infected with a genetically engineered disease that prolongs youth but kills adolescents.
Lord of the Flies
Parental Warning:  creepy make-up effects showing lesions
The Conscience of the King'
When the leader of a traveling theatrical troupe is suspected of being a genocidal governor, the suspicious deaths of people who could identify him concerns Kirk - especially since he's one of the survivors.
The title is a reference to Hamlet.
There is more in this episode as the main plot concerns a traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors
The Galileo Seven
An away mission led by Spock falls victim to a disastrous crash on a hostile planet, where Spock and McCoy fight over the ineffectuality of his strictly logical approach to the situation.
Rather lame, actually
Court Martial
Kirk is put on trial for negligence when the computer records contradict his logs about the death of a crewmember during a shipboard crisis.
The Menagerie, Part One
Spock takes over the Enterprise and faces the death penalty to take his former Captain, who has been horribly disfigured in an accident, to a planet where an alien race has learned to turn thoughts into reality.
Contains footage from the pilot episode, called “The Cage”, featuring a bellowing Spock.
The Menagerie, Part Two
During Spock's court martial, Kirk learns of his predecessor Captain Pike's encounter with the illusions created by a race desperate for breeding stock to help them rebuild their planet.

Shore Leave
The crew takes shore leave on an idyllic planet, but when people's fantasies begin to come true - deadly as well as benign - Kirk must evade his own demons to solve the mystery.
Alice in Wonderland
Don Juan
This one is really fun
The Squire of Gothos
A powerful alien named Trelane abducts crewmembers for his amusement, but when Kirk refuses to play his games, Trelane puts him on trial and prepares to execute him.
Lesson in Einstein’s theory of relativity
When the Enterprise encroaches on alien space in pursuit of a ship that apparently helped to destroy a Federation outpost, Kirk finds himself and the leader of the alien vessel, the Gorn, stranded on a planet where they are forced to fight for supremacy.
Contains an overt chemistry lesson
Many ancient wars were averted in this same manner; Prince Caspian is the latest example.
The Alternative Factor
The crew meets two nearly-identical men named Lazarus, one from their universe and one from an antimatter universe with the potential to destroy both universes should they come together. Kirk must work with the Lazarus not of his own universe to trap the other, a madman, in a void between the universes with his twin, thus keeping everyone else safe.
The name Lazarus was not an accident, as one can arguably refer to the Gospel account of Lazarus for a deeper understanding of this episode.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Discussion of parallel universes
Tomorrow is Yesterday
When a black hole sends the Enterprise back in time to the 20th century, an air force pilot who spots the "U.F.O." is beamed aboard when the Enterprise must destroy his ship and its weapons. Kirk must return the pilot to his own century, yet find a way not to disrupt the timeline, before he can try to return to his own era.
Time travel paradox
The Return of the Archons
The Enterprise pursues a missing starship's crew on a planet ruled by a being named Landru, which takes over their minds to make them part of a passive, complacent society
Frankly, a dig at organized religion
A Taste of Armageddon
An arrogant ambassador places the Enterprise in the midst of a civil war between two planets fought entirely by computer, which reports the casualties so that people can voluntarily report to disintegration chambers without their societies risking physical destruction.
Another heavy-handed anti-war message
Space Seed
Kirk and his crew find a "sleeper ship" of genetically bred superhumans, led by the ruthless 20th century dictator Khan Noonian Singh, who tries to take over the ship with the help of a 23rd century archaeologist who falls in love with him.
Refers to despots in the past and future history of civilization, including Napoleon and Hitler
Milton’s “Paradise Lost” is referenced at the end.
This Side of Paradise
Humans are kept safe on a planet bombarded with deadly radiation by a spore which has the side effect of making people blissfully content. Spock is reunited with an old friend who uses the spores to make him fall in love with her, but when Kirk realizes that the price for paradise is an end to exploration, he determines to recover his crew from the spores.
A smiling, laughing Spock; weird
Moral:  seeking only contentment squelches innovation and progress
The Devil in the Dark
A creature that can eat its way through solid rock is killing miners on a distant outpost.
“No Kill I”
Important biology lesson, distinguishing between carbon-based versus silicon-based life forms
Errand of Mercy
Sent to establish an alliance with the peaceful, unsophisticated planet Organia which is located strategically between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, Kirk is disgusted to find the inhabitants apathetic to the presence of Klingons on their world.
Lesson in the tyranny of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) concept
The City on the Edge of Forever
An accidental drug overdose sends Dr. McCoy on a disastrous trip through a time portal, where he changes the course of Earth's history. Kirk and Spock pursue him into the past, where Kirk falls in love with a social worker whose life plays a pivotal role in the events McCoy will affect."
The one with Joan Collins
Time travel
One of the best
Operation: Annihilate!'
Kirk's brother's family is devastated by an interplanetary crisis of mass insanity and Spock is attacked by one of the creatures which caused the crisis. McCoy must find a way to kill the aliens without destroying their hosts before the creatures can take over the galaxy
We think of this as the flying pizza’s episode
Biology / neurology lesson