Let's say more fun than usual. In these dark snowy days of late winter (good heavens has it been cold here) it's fun to just change the routine and take the subject that generates the least enthusiasm and change it up.
On occasional Fridays we take a break from the math books and play some games to review, work on skills and generally break up the blahs.
This is a cute game for reviewing those pesky times tables, especially the twelves which seem to be the least retained here. It's your basic bingo game and it's a quick play so we can usually get three or four games in before the ennui sets in.
Another fun one is Head Full of Numbers. The targeted age group for this game is 7-10 but it can easily be modified for younger kids.
Kids roll six die and use the numbers to create their own math equations. There is a timer and pads for recording their equations. The dice shaker is a great part of the appeal here.
Fish Stix is another cute game. This one is made by Peaceable Kingdom which is a great game company. Every game I've ever purchased from them has been high quality and fun. This is a matching game that is targeted toward the 5 and up range but I think you would need a five year old with a good attention span because it does take about a half hour to play. They younger ones can team up with an older one to help them out.
It's a visual strategy game with lots of matching and counting. All good skills to build. The older kids enjoy this as much as the youngers and I must confess to liking it as well.
These games coupled with some dice to roll and count, dominoes to match and Unifix Cubes can clear out the cobwebs and refresh your students to tackle their math books with a little more enthusiasm than before. Consider taking an hour once in a while to indulge in some great games to build skills, have fun and make memories. The freedom to make these choices is one of the best parts of homeschooling.
Disclaimer: If you click on these links I get a pittance from Amazon which I will likely use to buy more games. Or make-up depending on my mood. I have not been compensated for these reviews at all and they are all my own opinion of things we already own. I am completely open to being compensated though :)
This week in New York the schools are closed for winter break. This makes the schedule here a little lighter since most of the activities after school are cancelled as well. Without the deadline of having to get out for choir and dance and all the other commitments we have a more leisurely day although still work days.
I've been starting an hour or so later, just because and we've been being a little more crafty.
Yesterday we did a simple little art project that took little time and was doable by all the children.
Outline a crucifix. I think a thinner one works better for this project. We used watercolor paper but any paper would work.
Then watercolor in a rainbow fashion around the cross shape. When the rainbow effect dries watercolor the cross brown or black.
It looks pretty when up against a sunny window and when accompanied by tea and a snack it's a nice meditative activity to do with the children on a slow afternoon.
"Prior to the modern age and the ubiquity of textbooks, it was common for students to learn history by the reading of primary sources. It was taken for granted that they best way to educate oneself about what the ancient Greeks thought was to read the writings of the ancient Greeks"
Extraordinary to think that most students in schools now have no idea what you mean when you refer to a primary source but only a short time ago in historical terms there was no other way to learn, which is why the written word and the truth have always been held in such high regard. Not so much anymore.
The Rending of Christendom; Primary Document Catholic Study Course covering the Reformation Era is the kind of course homeschool moms and dads have dreamed of and is written to be used with the high school course "The Rending of Christendom" taught by Mr. Phillip Campbell and offered by Homeschool Connections. That would be the best way to use the book, in conjunction with the course (which can be viewed anytime if you subscribe to the unlimited access option at HSC) but there is enough material in the book for it to be used as a stand-alone, semester long, history course. Primary documents are prefaced by a rationale paragraph and followed by study questions. Each study question is a mini-essay type and it's up to the discretion of the parent how much or little should be required. The Rending Answer Key (a separate book) helps parents by highlighting some of the main points of each reading so that they can grade their students work quickly if they haven't read the source material.
Primary sources give one a depth of understanding that is simply not possible with a modern textbook. To read the actual writings of those who are living through the times we are studying, their intentions, foibles, passions and imperfections create a clearer picture of history and challenge students to consider the totality of the time period rather than just specific events.
"To really fall in love with history it is necessary to not only learn the fats of an era but to truly understand it. How did people talk? What sorts of things were important to them? What were there prominent cultural symbols?" - Phillip Campbell
Mr. Campbell's course will help your student fall in love with history. It won't be a dry regurgitation of facts but rather a drama with real people whose points of view will deepen their understanding and broaden their perspective of this difficult time.
I was inclined to name the post "Favorite Homeschool Tools" but somehow the word tools seemed too much like work. Don't get me wrong, homeschooling is work, hard work but it's also a great joy as well as making a big mess. :)
Stuff fits better.
So this is my list of what I consider necessary to my happy homeschool home.
A multi-event timer I have this one from Pampered Chef (that link leads to my neighbor's Pampered Chef page, she's great). This handy little device was inexpensive and keeps me on track throughout the day. I can set it for spelling tests or timed math drills, to keep track of computer time and many other things. It's got a magnet back as well as a little stand so when not in use I keep it right on the fridge. Truly a useful little gadget that I bought based upon Jen's recommendation a few years ago.
Strathmore Visual Journal is also another must have around here. We use them as journals, art books, sketchbooks, and notebooks. They are a little pricey but the quality is excellent and the paper is wonderful to touch, accepting markers, pens, charcoals, and paints equally well. They make nice keepsakes when full. I always put one in each of the Easter baskets and everyone gets one in September.
Bulldog clips. Isn't that a funny name? I use these things for everything. I clip papers together, I save places in our lesson planners and in my daily planner. I clip together holy cards to carry around (to remind me to pray for souls gone before us), I use them to hold up artwork (clipped to a string or even the window valances). In a pinch they can even work as chip bag closers. I buy colored ones sometimes just to be kicky :).
A label maker. Now you know what kind of a geek I really am. I label everything. All the books, planners and notebooks, the book shelves (in the ongoing hope that someone will re-shelve an American history book on the shelf labeled as such and so on, it's not yet happened but I live in hope). I label toys, art supplies, and the children (just kidding). It's a fun little gadget that allows me the illusion of being organized.
Amazon Prime. This is truly the homeschooling mother's best friend. For $99 a year I get free shipping on just about everything I order. I use this to my advantage on books, office supplies, grocery items, personal care items, medical supplies, decor and craft supplies and art supplies. I also make great use of the streaming movies in our homeschool, Mr. Rogers, Cyberchase, Mr. Wizard's World, Bill Nye, Popular Mechanics, Magic School bus, Liberty Kids, How It's Made, and Reading Rainbow all available for free or very low cost. I also use the Kindle Lending Library, Unlimited Kindle, Prime Music and Prime Photos. I can't imagine how we all did this before Prime changed everything.
I have a confession to make. I may be the last homeschool mama in America to not use a tablet or iPad for homeschooling. Erin has a tablet and so does Dave but I just use the Kindle to read and we all use the computer and laptops but we aren't really using apps for homeschooling. At least not yet. I would, someday, like to get an iPad and take advantage of some of the fun opportunities for learning there, but it's not in the cards yet. I am going against the tide here but I think competing with Minecraft and the WiiU is difficult enough.
What is your favorite homeschool gadget or supply?