Saturday, June 29, 2013

Classical Curriculum - Arithmetic Workbooks Review

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I don't know what it is, but I am always drawn to what I call the "Little Old Books."  I guess it is the time-tested methods and the harkening to a better simpler time that always piques my interest.  It seems like these days, most of the current curricula for little children is either digital, complete with all the blinking, bleeping, flashing distractions that kids today have come to love, or in text/workbooks filled with large, colorful, silly pictures that are just as sure to distract from the material.  I understand that people think that these things will keep children's interest better, but I bed to differ.  I honestly think that those things keel children's interest away from the material and that we are not giving our children the benefit of the doubt that they deserve.

With that in mind, I was very pleased to stumble across Ray's Arithmetic books. (affiliate link)

Today I am over at The Curriculum Choice reviewing these arithmetic books, focusing on the Classical Curriculum workbooks.  Head on over to read the rest of my review!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Classical Mamas Read - The Well Trained Mind: Chs. 6-7

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This post contains affiliate links to products that I use and love!

Welcome back to Classical Mamas Read!  I'm excited to be back here with you today to discuss chapters 6 & 7 of The Well Trained MindIf you want to take a look back at our previous discussions, click the picture above to take you to a list of each chapter we have talked about.


Ch. 6 - The Joy of Numbers: Math (grammar stage)


The four years of elementary math lay the foundation for the high-level abstract thinking required by algebra, trigonometry, and calculus later on. (page 87)


What you should cover in grammar stage math - 


  1. Addition & Subtraction
  2. Multiplication & Division
  3. Geometric Shapes & Patterns
  4. Thinking through word problems
  5. Relationships between numbers

My notes and thoughts on grammar stage math -  


  •  Start with manipulatives and use them again as you teach each new concept.
 
    • I really love the concept of teaching math by using manipulatives. We use Ray's Arithmetic, which teaches you to do the same thing.
 

  •  Move to mental arithmetic (picturing the manipulatives in your head instead of having to move them with your hands)

  • Finally reach abstract thinking (doing math by just using the numbers and symbols)

  • Math work should be done daily in the grammar stage.
    •  We have not typically done math every day.  I think next year I will aim for that (after seeing this recommendation)

  • Memorization
 
    •  Have your child memorize the math tables once they have reached the abstract thinking stage (after the manipulative and mental stages)
 
    • Do not allow the use of calculators until the math facts are memorized
 
    •  I have not have my kids memorize any math facts yet, but I was thinking about it since I know Classical Conversations starts it at age 4.  Now I'm thinking that I should wait. What do you think?
 

Do you have your children memorize math facts?  If so, what age do you start and why?

 


Ch. 7 - Seventy Centuries in Four Years: History and Geography (grammar stage)


History is not a subject.  History is the subject...A grasp of historical facts is essential to the rest of the classical curriculum. (pages 104-105)


My notes and thoughts on grammar stage history - 

 

  • History is a story and should be told from beginning to end.
 
  • Stay away from text books.  Rather use living books that tell the stories of history and use your library to supplement each topic!
 
 

 What main texts to you love to teach history with?


  • Cycle through history in each stage of the trivium, adding to the depth of understanding each time.  The book recommends a 4-year cycle.
 

  Do you follow a 4-year cycle?  3-year?  etc?


  • Keep a notebook (like they suggested for reading/writing/etc.) For each week/event, add...
 
    • Narration page (either write down your child's verbal narration or have them write their own)
 
    • Illustration (either a coloring page, or their own drawing of the story)
 
    • Map page (color in the area that they learned about on a blank map)
 
    • We do forms of all these things, but definitely not exactly like she laid it out.
 
  • After adding to your notebook each week, take a visit to the library to find more books to read on the subject.
 
  •  History is important, but it is not the most important thing in the grammar stage.  Learning to read and write is vital, so don't neglect those in favor of history.
 
    • I've been trying to do history a little each day.  They recommend studying history for a longer stretch (1 - 1 1/2 hours) only 2-3 times a week.  I think I will try this next year.
 

Do you do history every day?


  • Include memory work for history.
 
    • We have recently started using Veritas Press for history and I LOVE their memory songs.  I also created a history sentence for each week.  I really like it so far and plan to continue it next year.
 

What have you had your kids memorize for history? 

 

Next week we will be discussing chapters 8 and 9 which talk about grammar stage math and history.  Hopefully it won't be to much for one week, but I don't want this book to take all year to go through, so we will try!  It looks like a lot of pages, but a good chunk of it is resource suggestions, so I think we should be ok.

If you don't have the book already, you can look for it at your library or get it on amazon. (The Well Trained Mind)

If you are behind, feel free to still comment on chapters 1 & 2 or chapters 3 & 4.  If you want to be emailed when someone makes a comment, make sure to click "Subscribe by Email" right under the comment box (right hand side), so you won't miss out on any discussion!


Classical Mamas Read Link-Up


Did you write about these chapters on your blog?  Have you been reading and blogging about another book (for you, not a children's book)?  Do you have a book club going on at your blog (once again, not for a children's book)?  I'd love for you link up here so we can all be encouraged by each other and maybe find another great book to read!

I think I'm going to keep this link-up ongoing since there aren't going to be a huge number of posts and then anyone new will be able to be encouraged by the other book reading ideas and discussions.  If the number of posts gets too large, I will fix it.

Please note, all posts must be on topic (about a book you are reading) and appropriate (think family friendly).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Classical Mamas Read - The Well Trained Mind

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Here you can find a link to each discussion we have had about The Well Trained Mind (affiliate link).  Feel free to go back and comment about previous chapters if they are the ones you happen to be reading or thinking about right now.


Prologue: The story of a Classical Home Education

Chapters 1 & 2 - "Uncharted Territory" & "A Personal Look At Classical Education"




Part 1. The Grammar Stage: Kindergarten Through Fourth Grade

Chapters 3 & 4 - "The Parrot Years" & "Unlocking the Doors: The Preschool Years"

 

Chapter 5 - "Words, Words, Words: Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and Writing"

 

Chapters 6 & 7 - "The Joy of Numbers: Math" & "Seven Centuries in Four Years: History and Geography"

 

Chapters 8 & 9 - "Making Sense of the World: Science" & "Dead languages for Live Kids"

 

Chapters 10, 11, & 12 -  "Electronic Teachers: Computers and Video Games," "Matters of Faith: Religion," & "The Finer Things: Art and Music"



Part 2. The Logic Stage: Fifth Through Eighth Grade

 Chapters 13 & 14 - "The Argumentative Child" & "Snow White was Irrational: Logic for the Intuitive"

 

Chapters 15 & 16 - "The Language of Reason: Math" & "Why 1492? History and Geography"

 

Chapters 17 & 18 - "Thinking Straight: Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and Writing" & "Making Deductions: Science"


Chapters 19 & 20 - "Looking into Other Worlds: Latin and Languages" & "Away with Abusive Fallacies: Religion"



Stay tuned as we continue working through The Well Trained Mind.

To make sure you don't miss a post, make sure you sign up to follow Living and Learning at Home by email (look on the sidebar.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Trivium Tuesdays-Classical Link-Up #63

Welcome to another week of Trivium Tuesdays!  For those of you who are new here today, this is a link-up aimed at encouraging and informing other homeschoolers who use the Classical model of teaching.  Here we can share with each other and learn from one another.


Featured Posts

Last week, there were four of you who essentially tied for the most-clicked (sometimes I get confused because it counts when I click on it too, and sometimes I click on a link more than once).  So, I'm just going to quickly share all four of those as the featured posts this week!



First up is Kristen from Teaching Stars, who shares with us her year-end review of Explode the Code.  Make sure you check out her link-up for anyone who has a year-end review to share!



Next is Carrie from My Book Boost, who shared a simple, fun way to get your kids to stop and read for a few minutes!  It will even help give new life to those old books that often get forgotten about.




Third is Jennifer from The Linton Academy who shared a great printable set of maps, "Where in the World is....?"


Last but not least is Dusti from Coffeeshop School who provides us a great list of resources to learn about classical homeschooling! Thanks for sharing!


This Week's Link-Up


Here are the rules:
  • Your post must have to do (in some way) with classical homeschooling (any age children).
  • Your post may be from your archives as long as you only post it one time on this link-up.
  • Please link to your direct post, not your blog in general.
  • Please place my Trivium Tuesdays button (found on my right sidebar) on your blog post so others can learn about this link-up!
  • It may be helpful to state in your link description what stage of the trivium or what subject your post is about, if applicable, so others can easily find posts they are interested in looking at.
  • Remember, everyone loves comments =) So don't be shy, and tell someone if you liked their post!

I reserve the right to remove any link-up that does not have to do with classical homeschooling.         If you are a regular here at Trivium Tuesdays and have something to share that is a little off topic, but still would be an encouragement to the readers here, please still share it =)  I'm referring to people who are just trying to get their blog more exposure without following the rules above.

I will visit each of your blogs this week and feature my favorite link-up for all to see next week!  Also, if your blog has a button I will place it on my sidebar (under Friends to Visit) for the week until it is replaced by the next week's favorite =)

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Teach My Child to Play the Piano? I Can Do That...Or Maybe Not




This post today is sponsored by TakeLessons.com.  Thinking about having your child start music lessons?  They can help you get started with their free ebook, Getting Started with Music Lessons.



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About a year ago my family moved into a new home.  We had lived in a condo for since we got married (8 years and 2 kids ago), that I was never motivated to really make into a home since I knew we wouldn't be there forever.  It didn't bother me that our furniture wasn't new, that our appliances were bottom of the line, or that we didn't have a piano.  Now that we've moved into a house (which I hope we will be in forever!) these things matter to me.  Don't get me wrong, I am a very content person and if we don't get the house looking like I would like for 15 years, that's ok with me.  The point is that I'm thinking long term here.


It may be silly to you, but part of what makes a home, well, a home to me is a piano.  Growing up, we had a piano...didn't everyone?  Of course I've learned by now that a piano isn't important to everyone, but to me it brings back amazing memories of a home filled with music, my family singing together, and peacefulness after a long day.

Pin ItLike I said, we've been in this home for almost a year, but we still don't have a piano.  You know what?  I'm completely ok with that, as long as it gets put on the list of things to get at some point =)  My poor husband gets to hear about my desire for a piano all the time...probably every time we spend any money.  I don't think I'm nagging, just reminding that it's important to me =)



Can I teach my children how to play the piano?


I desire very much to teach my children how to play the piano.  Like most homeschool moms, I have a 'can do' attitude about it.  Has it been about 10 years since I last sat down at a piano?  Well, yes, but I can do it!  Do I know nothing more than how to read music?  Sure...wait, I'm not sure that I even remember that at this point.  Oh boy.

Ok, so I could probably buy a few beginner piano books and teach my kids where to place their hands on the keys and how to read the notes (after remembering again myself, that is!), but beyond that think I would be lost.  Maybe I could teach my kids the basics of counting out music and remember what words like allegro mean, but honestly I desire for them to have the opportunity really understand music and excel at it if they are inclined.

Looks like I am going to have to call for help!  Is this where you are at too?  Unless you have a family member or close friend who knows a great deal about music, it is hard to know where to turn, isn't it?  We don't want to turn our children loose to just anyone, do we?  Did you know that there is a website that helps you find music teachers in your area?  I just recently learned about TakeLessons.com and my favorite part is that the teachers are actually rated by people who have taken lessons from them!  I hardly buy anything these days without reading people's reviews, so I loved this feature.


What is TakeLessons.com?


TakeLessons makes it easy to find a safe, pre-qualified Music Instructor or Academic Tutor.

TakeLessons connects students and families with private music teachers, arts instructors and academic tutors throughout the U.S.  They've been in business sine 2006, and have worked with over 30,000 students nationwide.  Safety and quality are their priorities; every instructor completes an extensive interview, training, and an annual criminal background check.  They assist with scheduling, initial coordination with the instructor, and billing - so all you have to worry about is enjoying your lessons!  Your online student account also helps you stay organized with scheduling and billing tools.

They provide In-Home and In-Studio lessons, as well as Online Lessons, which is a popular option for busy families.  For Online Lessons, all you need is a computer with a webcam, a Skype account, and a good internet connection.  You can cut down on commute times by taking lessons in the comfort of your own home!

About the Lessons

 

  • Over 30 lesson types available, including guitar, singing, piano, drums, violin, dance, acting, and academic tutoring. 

  • Lessons available in-studio, in-home, or online (via Skype).  Lesson prices vary depending on location and length.

  • Their most popular lesson package is Quarterly (book 12 lessons, get 1 free).  Other packages include month-to-month and Flex (coordinate lesson times as you go along with your instructor).

  • 100% Money Back Guarantee.  If you're not satisfied with your first lesson, they will find you another teacher, or refund all of your original purchase price, including the first lesson.

  • No long-term commitments - switch your schedule, teacher or instrument type at any time.

  • Teachers available for all ages and all experience levels.




Visit the TakeLessons youtube channel for many more videos!

 

To learn more and begin searching for a music instructor, go to TakeLessons.com


As a special bonus for you, TakeLessons is offering 20% off lesson or tutoring packages when you use the promo code LIVEANDLEARN at checkout!  

This offer is good through July 6th.  Remember, you must use code LIVEANDLEARN!

 You can even talk to a TakeLessons Student Counselor if you'd like by calling (619)618-7467.


 
If your child is already saying 'I'm Bored!' this summer, learning how to play an instrument, sing, act, etc. might be just the solution!  You can take a look, just for fun, to see what is available in your area.  I was amazed at how many teachers and tutors are very close to my home!

Don't forget to download your free copy of Getting Started with Music Lessons!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Classical Mamas Read - The Well Trained Mind: Ch. 5


Welcome back to Classical Mamas Read.  I'm excited to be here with you again this week after taking a break last week to talk about The Classical Preschool.  Today we will be discussing chapter 5.  If you missed the discussion last time,  take a minute to read about chapters 3 & 4.


Ch. 5 - Words, Words, Words: Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and Writing


This chapter breaks down everything you need to know about all things 'language arts.'  They also share great resource suggestions to go along with each section.  I found the suggested time allotments for each subject to be very helpful.  I'm sure I don't/won't follow them exactly, but guidelines are always nice.  


The goal of the grammar stage is to help your child read, write, and speak easily so they are prepared for the dialectic stage.


They suggest keeping a 3-ring binder, divided into sections, to keep all of your child's work.  I started doing this last year, but found that the work soon didn't find it's way into the binder and ended up being a mess.  I recently took the time to prepare copywork, dictation, and notebooking pages ahead of time and bind them with my favorite spiral binder.  Now all I have to do is tell my son which page to do in his notebook and it is already there and will stay there!  


How do you keep all your child's work together and in reasonable order?  Do you use 3-ring binders or some other method?

 

Spelling


I think the most important thing about spelling is that you teach your children the phonograms and spelling rules.  I started this way with my son, but realized that I haven't kept up the teaching part of this since he reads very well.  I am definitely going to get back to this in the fall because his spelling is not great when he writes and also because his sister is beginning to read, so it will be the perfect time!


How do you teach your children to spell?  What method/curriculum/books do you use?  Do you spend time each day working on spelling?


Grammar


  • Grammar lessons will begin orally, then progress to written.

    • I did this with my son and wondered if it was ok.  We use Primary Language Lessons (affiliate link) and at the beginning we would just sit and talk through the lessons.  I wondered if I was starting him to soon even though the concepts were find for him.  I was happy to read that this is normal and good!
     
  • Narration - have your child tell back to you the story that you just read.

    •  We do this often and have for a while.  It was not easy at first, but I have seen my son make great strides in his ability to comprehend.  

  • By the end of the grammar stage, your child should know the parts of speech, rules of capitalization, punctuation, dictionary usage, etc.

    •  I've been thinking about increasing the scope of our memory box for next year, and I'm definitely going to be adding these grammar items!

Reading 


During the first four years of education, you have two purposes: to get the child to read quickly, well, and habitually; and to fill his mind with stories of every kind... (page 57)

Here are a few notes I wrote down:

  • Read simplified versions of classics to get your child familiar with what they will be encountering later.

  • Continue to read aloud to your child even after they are able to read for themselves.

  • Keep a list of books that your child has read (or that you have read aloud).  Keep this in the reading section of your notebook/binder.

  • Require structured reading as well as free reading time.

  • Have your child read out loud to you so you can catch errors, discourage guessing at words, help him decode unfamiliar words, and gain fluency.

  • Stay away from books that have short sentences, simple sentence structure, easy vocab, etc., because they are the television equivalent of cartoons.

Do you let your children read these 'fun' type books (they mentioned Goosebumps, Sweet Valley High, etc. though I'm sure there are more current equivalents).
 

I read this type of book continually when I was elementary age.  I was never discouraged from this or encouraged to read anything 'better.'  I always thought I was a great reader, but I see now that my reading 'taste' was not very refined =)


Writing


Your child doesn't need to be coming up with original content at this point.  If they show creativity on their own, let them peruse it, but this stage is for giving them the tools they need to express their original content later on.

  • Copywork - pick sentences from your history lessons, science lessons, the literature you are reading, etc. and write them down for your child to copy precisely.

  •  Dictation - Once your child acquires some basic spelling and grammar skills, you can include dictation.  This is when the parent reads to the child what they are to write, but the child doesn't see the word (has to write it from memory).

  • Letters to family and friends - this is a great (and fun!) skill to teach your child!  We do this with thank you notes, and have recently started sending some 'just because' notes.


 What are your favorite resources for teaching your children reading, writing, spelling, and grammar?



Next week we will be discussing chapters 6 and 7 which talk about grammar stage math and history.  Hopefully it won't be to much for one week, but I don't want this book to take all year to go through, so we will try!  It looks like a lot of pages, but a good chunk of it is resource suggestions, so I think we should be ok.

If you don't have the book already, you can look for it at your library or get it on amazon. (The Well Trained Mind affiliate link)

If you are behind, feel free to still comment on chapters 1 & 2 or chapters 3 & 4.  If you want to be emailed when someone makes a comment, make sure to click "Subscribe by Email" right under the comment box (right hand side), so you won't miss out on any discussion!


Classical Mamas Read Link-Up


Did you write about these chapters on your blog?  Have you been reading and blogging about another book (for you, not a children's book)?  Do you have a book club going on at your blog (once again, not for a children's book)?  I'd love for you link up here so we can all be encouraged by each other and maybe find another great book to read!

I think I'm going to keep this link-up ongoing since there aren't going to be a huge number of posts and then anyone new will be able to be encouraged by the other book reading ideas and discussions.  If the number of posts gets too large, I will fix it.

Please note, all posts must be on topic (about a book you are reading) and appropriate (think family friendly).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Trivium Tuesdays-Classical Link-Up #62

Welcome to another week of Trivium Tuesdays!  For those of you who are new here today, this is a link-up aimed at encouraging and informing other homeschoolers who use the Classical model of teaching.  Here we can share with each other and learn from one another.

Welcome back to Living and Learning at Home!  Thanks for hopping over to Teaching Stars last week for the link-up and big thanks to Kristen for being willing to host!


Featured Post


I have by no means looked through all of these, but last week Sprouting Tadpoles shared with us 85 links and ideas for practicing memory work.  Our memory time is growing and diversifying, but one thing we haven't done is make reviewing the memory work fun.  I just take cards out of the box and ask questions.  It's working, but I'm sure my kids would like some fun review in there too.  I'm going to keep these ideas handy!


Most Clicked-On Post from Last Week 



You guys are going to step it up to compete with Crafty Homeschooling Mama, because she had the most clicked-on post again last week!  Maybe there's some shady business going on, but I doubt it =)  Last week she wrote about Homeschool Organization, which is something I'm sure we all could use more of (obviously, since we all clicked on it)!


This Week's Link-Up


Here are the rules:
  • Your post must have to do (in some way) with classical homeschooling (any age children).
  • Your post may be from your archives as long as you only post it one time on this link-up.
  • Please link to your direct post, not your blog in general.
  • Please place my Trivium Tuesdays button (found on my right sidebar) on your blog post so others can learn about this link-up!
  • It may be helpful to state in your link description what stage of the trivium or what subject your post is about, if applicable, so others can easily find posts they are interested in looking at.
  • Remember, everyone loves comments =) So don't be shy, and tell someone if you liked their post!

I reserve the right to remove any link-up that does not have to do with classical homeschooling.         If you are a regular here at Trivium Tuesdays and have something to share that is a little off topic, but still would be an encouragement to the readers here, please still share it =)  I'm referring to people who are just trying to get their blog more exposure without following the rules above.

I will visit each of your blogs this week and feature my favorite link-up for all to see next week!  Also, if your blog has a button I will place it on my sidebar (under Friends to Visit) for the week until it is replaced by the next week's favorite =)


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Monday, June 17, 2013

The Trojan Horse Book Report Pages

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We've been studying Ancient Greece (using Veritas Press, which I'm LOVING!) and we are currently reading The Trojan Horse by: Emily Little (affiliate link).  My son loves reading the story, which really makes the legend of the Trojan Horse come alive.

When I read any book to my son, or when he reads to himself, I always like to make sure that he is really listening and comprehending.  I have typically done this through oral narration, but as his writing skills are increasing, I like to add in some written narration.

  • One page for each chapter  
  • Picture box to draw a picture about the chapter
  • Comprehension question with lines to write the answer

I love having my son use these type of pages because it lets me quickly assess his spelling and grammar.  I can give him simple pointers or corrections while he proudly shows me his work.  History lesson and English lesson in one, without double the work!

Please print these to use yourself, and feel free to share this page so others can enjoy as well!

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Classical Preschool - Explore

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Welcome to the final day of The Classical Preschool!  To read the other posts in this five-day series, click on the picture above.

I have really enjoyed taking the time to look back on the past few years of my family's homeschool journey.  My oldest will be kindergarten age next year, so we have officially made it though the preschool years (with one child, that is!)

We have talked about reading aloud, memorization, using manipulatives, and narration.  Whew!  That sounds like like a plateful for a little guy.  Really, it doesn't have to be! Today I want to talk about what will (and should!) take up most of your preschooler's day.  You might carve out little chunks of time in your day for reading, practicing memory work, talking about numbers, etc., but what you child is going to be most of the day is playing!


Making Playtime (more) Meaningful


Today I just want to encourage you make your child's playtime meaningful.  Children are all different.  Some will creatively come up with their own activities to do, while others will look to you for guidance.  In either case, the burden is on you, mama, to provide meaningful opportunities for them.  I am going to encourage you today to help them not simply play, but explore.

So many scientific principles can be discovered by letting children explore.  When your children are very little, provide them with basic toys like blocks, trains, and puzzles.  Let their minds explore and discover what they can do with those toys.  Avoid too many toys that make noise, flash lights, and essentially play for your child.  You want to encourage your child to be an active explorer, not a passive watcher.

As your child grows, you will see that they are curious about everything.  Foster this excitement!  Provide them with opportunities to answer the questions: How? Why? and What? Here are some ideas that might get you going:

  • Play with ice cubes - Have them hold them, put them under running water, place them in bowls in different places around your house to see which melts quickest.
 
  • Magnify - Give your child a simple magnifying glass.  Let them wander around your house and yard discovering different types of surfaces.
 
  • Plant a seed - Let your child get their hands dirty and see the miracle of life coming from a 'dead' seed.  Let them plant, water, and watch as the sprout shoots up and grows each day.
 
  •  Feed the Birds - Make a simple bird feeder or coat something like a corn cob with peanut butter and seeds to hang in your tree.  Let your child watch and explore the birds that come to feast.
 
  •  Nature Walks - Whether it is around your yard, neighborhood, or local trail, get out and let your child observe nature.  There is an unending supply of blooms, bugs, trees, animals, and leaves for your child to observe and explore. 

  •  The 5 Senses - Give your child many opportunities to explore their senses.  Let them touch all kinds of materials, make sound with all kinds of objects, smell the flowers as well as the fish, listen for the noises outside, and whatever else you can think of!
 
  • Catch a bug and watch it for a while in a jar.
 
  • Build towers and forts, train tracks, and roll balls to discover friction, balance, and gravity.
 
  • Build a collection.  Let you child gather like items of whatever suits their fancy.  This is a great way for them to practice sorting, comparing, and contrasting.
 
  • Let your kids help, where appropriate, in the kitchen.  Let them learn how different tastes go together.  Let them see irreversible change, chemistry in action, and the physical changes that food goes through. (Let them squish, mash, and stir!)

These are just a few ideas to hopefully get the wheels in your brain turning.  Summertime is an especially great time to foster the spirit of exploration!  I encourage you to spend as much time as possible outside and as little time as possible in front of screens (computers, TVs, game systems, even electronic learning toys).  I promise that we are not perfect at this, but I truly strive to be better at facilitating creativity and discovery every day!


What are some of your favorite ways to encourage your children to explore while they play?


This series is a part of the iHomeschool Network summer Hopscotch!  Click the picture below to find other great series' from the ladies of the iHN.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Classical Preschool - Narrate

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Welcome to day four of The Classical Preschool!  Today we are talking about narration.  To read the other posts in this five-day series, click on the picture above.


What is narration?


In case you are not familiar with narration, let me define it for you.  Narration is simply to give an account or tell the story of something.   Homeschoolers typically use this as a tool to gauge understanding and increase listening skills.  After a mother reads a story or passage of some sort, she will ask her children for a narration.  This means that the child would 'tell back' the story or information to their mother. 


Why should preschool children narrate?


First of all, narration is a fantastic tool to help your child to really pay attention when you read to them.  We have already talked about reading aloud to your children, so the next step is encouraging them to really listen to and understand what you are reading to them.  You will want to teach them to narrate by beginning with small passages (maybe a paragraph) and helping them by asking questions to get them started (Who is this story about? What did Laura do with her dog?)  This is a great time to teach them to respond in complete sentences.  If they respond with a one-word answer, simply repeat their answer back to them in a full sentence and have them repeat it back to you.

Secondly, narration is important for preschoolers because speaking is much easier for them than writing is.  While your young child may not be able to write, or tires after only a short amount of writing, they can speak almost endlessly (or is that only my kids? ha!)  For the sake of applying this concept to preschoolers, I am going to expand the definition a bit and show how your can use narration to teach your child in many different subjects.


Narration Ideas


History

  • Read living history stories out loud and ask for narration.
  • Include preschooler's in older sibling's history lessons.  Instead of having them write the answers to end-of-chapter questions, ask them to answer a question or two out loud (practice complete sentences).
  • Example: "The family had to travel really far to get to their new home.  It took them a long time and the sister got sick."

Math

  • Ask your preschooler a math problem out loud and have him answer out loud.
  • Example: "If Johnny had four balls and one rolled away, he would have three balls left."

Science/Nature

  • Read a living story about animals or nature and have your child narrate it back to you.
  • Example: "The tree got pretty blossoms on it in the spring.  In the summer, the leaves were big and green.  In the fall, the leaves turned red and fell off.  There were no leaves on the tree in the winter."

Literature

  •  Read a passage from a children's literature book and have them tell the story back to you.
  •  If you are doing narration in other areas, I would recommend leaving this read aloud time just for enjoyment and not require narration.  If you are not using it in other areas, then this is a great place to do it.

Bible

  • During family worship, read the Bible passage and then have your children narrate it back to you.  Start with the youngest and work up, having the older children add any details the younger ones did not include.
  •  Example: 
    • "Mary and Joseph went to a stable and Jesus was born there." (preschool)
    • "Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem and had to stay in a stable.  Jesus was born there and shepherds came to see him." (middle sibling)
    • Caesar Augustus issued a census, so Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem to register.  There was no other room, so they had to stay in a stable.  Jesus was born that night and shepherds came, following a star, to worship him." (eldest child)


I hope that gives you some ideas of how to incorporate narration into your classical preschool.  Don't stress over making sure you include all of these areas, they are just examples.  Just work on getting into the habit of asking questions after you read something to your child.  Answering these questions is great training for them.  Also, don't avoid material that you know they can comprehend just because it requires writing.  Just turn it in to a narration!


How do you incorporate narration with your preschoolers?


This series is a part of the iHomeschool Network summer Hopscotch!  Click the picture below to find other great series' from the ladies of the iHN.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Classical Preschool - Manipulate

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Welcome to day three of The Classical Preschool!  Today we are talking about manipulation.  To read the other posts in this five-day series, click on the picture above.

First of all, let me start out by saying that I'm not talking today about manipulating your children!  What I'm talking about is having your preschoolers learn by using manipulatives.  I will be focusing on the subject of math, but this concept could really be applied to other subjects as well.

Why should young children use manipulatives?


From the time children are babies, they love to touch the world around them.  The sense of touch is a great way that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers learn.  This is a natural means of exploring and figuring things out.

Preschoolers are very bright, but they often lack the coordination and fine motor skills that it takes to do grammar stage work.  While it might be hard write down answers to math problems, then can easily show answers by using blocks, beads, rods, etc.  (This can be applied to writing as well.  Perhaps your child is learning how to spell, but doesn't have the stamina to write more then a few words.  You could have them spell out words using magnets or stamps.)

Young children need concrete information.  Their developing brains are not yet ready for abstract ideas.  The symbols attached to most math problems are meaningless and confusing to young children, even though the concepts behind them are not.  If you wrote out the problem 3+2=? for your preschooler, they would probably have no idea what you were asking for, or that you were even asking anything at all!  If you spoke the problem "If you have three crayons and I give you two more, how many would you then have?" they can grasp that and figure out the answer.  They would simply grab some crayons and manipulate them to find the answer.

In classical education, the grammar of math is learning the basics of arithmetic.  Children need to learn how numbers can be put together and separated.  They need to know their times tables and other math facts in order to enter the logic stage well-equipped.  Math facts can and should be memorized, but for preschoolers, helping them understand what is going on through manipulatives is very helpful.


How does a child use manipulatives in a classical preschool?


Two Years Old


When your child is two, they will be learning how to count.  They can definitely memorize the numbers without understanding what they represent, but using manipulatives is very helpful.  Simply count blocks as you stack them, apples as you put them in your cart, and pictures on a page in their favorite book.

Manipulatives do not have to relate directly to math.  Introduce your two year old to puzzles, foam letters, legos, and other helpful learning 'toys.'

Check out this post, A Closer Look at Numbers, to see some of what we did with manipulatives when my son was 2.


Three Years Old


Three year olds will most likely have a fair grasp on the concept of 'how many,' so the next step is letting them play around with combining these numbers into groups.  Give your child a handful of cereal and tell them story problems like: "If you have 5 pieces of cereal and your sister gives you 3 more pieces, how many will you have?"  As long as your child can count out numbers of items, they can do this simple type of addition problem.  Repeat this type of question with all sorts of scenarios.  It won't feel like work for them, but they will begin to understand the concept of addition.

This is also a great age to begin playing board games.  Having a child roll a dice, count the numbers, and then move the correct number of spaces, is a great way to practice the basics of math.

Continue providing them with puzzles to work on, increasing their difficulty as necessary.  Puzzles challenge young one's minds and help them to start thinking about spacial relations, sorting, lines, etc.

Here are a few posts showing how we used manipulatives when my son was three:

Four Years Old


Not much will change here, except that your child will be able to handle more story problems at a time.  As they get comfortable with manipulating small amounts of numbers, you can increase the number of items.  When they understand the concept of addition, try some subtraction type problems: "Jane had five balls, but one rolled away.  How many did she have left?"

You can have your child practice grouping like types of items together, compare larger and smaller groups, grouping the same number of items into multiple piles (showing multiplication), and anything else you can think of doing with manipulatives.

Once again, increase the difficulty of their puzzles and play lots of board games.  You can introduce skip counting and more complicated addition by playing with coins or using a moveable clock.  Have your child bake with you and have them count as you add the eggs, or see how many quarter cups are in a whole cup.


Resources for Manipulation


Honestly, I don't have anything to share here.  Just grab anything that you have around the house, coins, blocks, puzzles, dice, food, or anything else that suits the occasion!  I have never made math a 'subject' that needs to get done every day in our preschool years, we just simply practice moving objects around seeing what happens!

 
What are your favorite household items to have your child use as manipulatives?

Do you have any favorite games, puzzles, or other store-bought items that you have found extremely helpful?



This series is a part of the iHomeschool Network summer Hopscotch!  Click the picture below to find other great series' from the ladies of the iHN.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Classical Preschool - Memorize

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Welcome to day two of The Classical Preschool!  Today we are talking about memorization.  To read the other posts in this five-day series, click on the picture above.

Young children are like sponges.  They are able to absorb incredible amounts on information with little effort (compared to adults anyways!)  From the time they are babies, your children are memorizing people, locations, language, and much more.  As your children grow, everything is new to them and they must memorize it all, so this is the perfect time to expose your children to great amounts of information.

Why is memorization so important in classical education?


In classical education, learning is broken down into three, natural segments.  The first is called the grammar stage and is a child's first years of education.  It is called the grammar stage because a child spends his time learning the 'grammar' or building blocks of each subject.  This is natural because of young children's incredible ability to absorb and memorize information.  Not only are they good at this, but they enjoy learning new things and are keen on repetition (especially preschoolers).

Classical educators find this memory work important because it truly does lay the foundation for later learning.  I have heard this many times referred to as giving the child 'pegs' on which to hang information on later in their education.  If we give our children bits of information to store in their heads, new information later will already be familiar and more easily understood.  This is the essence of the grammar stage, but I firmly believe that it can be started in the preschool years, simply because these little ones are so great at it and willing!

How does memorization look in a classical preschool?

 

Two Years Old


Every 2 year old loves to sing the alphabet song.  This is memorization!  A child who is just starting to speak can learn the very basic building blocks of language!  When my children were two, we would spend a week on each letter of the alphabet and learn to recognize it and call it by it's correct name.

Just like a very small child can recite the alphabet, they can also learn to recognize numbers.  You may start with saying "1, 2, 3...let's go!" or "I'll count while you eat 5 bites of dinner." each time before you do a certain activity.  Soon they will be memorizing the numbers up to 10 and be able to count along with you.

Add in some shapes and colors and you have plenty of memorization for a two year old.  You don't have to have a formal school time to do this, just work it in naturally throughout your day.  If you want, of course you could establish a 15 minute block of time (or whatever works for you) to talk about these things.

Three Years Old


As your child approaches their third birthday, you will see their verbal ability and mental capacity increase.  This is a great time to build on what you have already taught and also introduce some new things.  If your child has his ABC's down, start introducing the sounds that each letter makes, one at a time. 

I found fun songs to introduce basic facts to my son when he was three.  We listened to songs about the days of the week, months of the year, skip counting, etc. 

Don't doubt your 3 year old's ability to begin memorizing longer sections of information like Bible verses and poetry. 

Here are some helpful posts of mine from when my son was three:
 
 
Four Years Old

This is when a child's ability to memorize beyond the basics really takes off.  Classical Conversations begins classes for children at 4 years old and really holds them to a high standard.  I think this is completely acceptable!   My son is four this year, and we have been able to memorize a wider variety of information, adding more as the year has gone on.

We have continued to memorize Bible verses, only this year making them line up with what we were studying in history.  He has memorized about four good sized poems (the ones we have come to in Primary Language Lessons), and some of the definitions from the Book of Virtues.  We completed learning all the phonograms needed for reading and added some definitions and facts that tied into other areas of our study.  I wasn't too purposeful about it this year, just adding cards as we came to them.  Really, you can follow a particular plan, or just pick things that are important to you

I hope to soon have a post listing all the things that were in our memory box this year.  I'll link it here once I write it =)

As the year went on, I realized that my son could be doing more than he was, so I added history sentences to go along with each new topic.  This made me wonder what else I could/should be including in our memory box.  I found that the breakdown Classical Conversations uses was helpful.  Each week they have the students memorize something from each of these categories: history, timeline, geography, grammar, Latin, math, and science.  This has inspired me for next year!


Recommended Resources to Aid you in Memorization:


Here is a list of some wonderful resources to aid you in helping your older preschool child with their memory.  Notice that many of them are songs!
 
 (Some of these are affiliate links.  They are all products that I either use and love, or are considering using next year.)


I'm sure there are many more, these are just some of the ones we have used or have piqued our interest. 
 
What are your favorites resources to help your child memorize?

What kind of things do you have your preschooler memorize?


This series is a part of the iHomeschool Network summer Hopscotch!  Click the picture below to find other great series' from the ladies of the iHN.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Classical Preschool - Read Aloud

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Welcome to day 1 in a 5 day series about The Classical Preschool.  Please click the picture above to learn more.

The preschool years are an incredible time of language development.  Children go from toddlers who are just learning to piece single words together, to kindergarteners who can form complete thoughts, speak in paragraphs, and understand thousands of words.

Preschoolers can not yet read (or are just beginning), so they develop their language skills by being spoken to.  Yes, I am sure you talk to your little ones all day long (when you are not listening to them jabber, that is), but there is something extra special about reading to them.

Classical education is all about gaining knowledge, learning how to think, and eventually being able to express your own conclusions.  All these things hinge on reading and speaking, both which are focused on while reading aloud.

While listening to you read, your child will:


  • increase their attention span
  • expand their vocabulary
  • be exposed to vast amounts of information
  • become a critical thinker
  • expand their ability to retain information
  • learn how to read themselves (voice inflection, pauses, speed, etc.)
  • and more!

How does reading aloud look in a classical preschool?


Hopefully you have been reading to your child since they were a baby, but by age two, make sure your early preschooler is surrounded by quality books.  Go to the library and get stacks of books, ask for books as presents, keep your eye out for great books at garage sales, whatever you need to do to have books in your home.  If you need guidance as to choosing books, my favorite list is the 1000 Good Books list.

When my oldest turned 2, we started having formal school time for a few minutes, a few times a week.  We would focus on one book each week.  Even though we would read many other books throughout the day, I liked establishing this pattern of having a certain 'read aloud' time.  For your 2nd, 3rd, (and so on) born children, they will probably be a part of your reading to older children, so this time for them will occur naturally.

Everyone only has so much time in a day, so audio books are a great way to supplement (not replace) your read aloud times.  I was reminded of this twice recently, once on my friend Jessica's blog (My Teacher's Name is Mama) where she talks about making her own 'listening center' by recording herself reading a book, and again while reading The Well Trained Mind for the Classical Mamas Read book club going on here at Living and Learning at Home.  The book also recommends taping yourself reading and playing it while your child plays or rests in their room.  This is a great age to do that!

As your child nears the age of three, it is good to start introducing longer stretches of reading.  I don't mean for this to be a burdensome time.  Simply read one paragraph out of a great children's literature book or a living history or science book.  I have personally found that the best time to do this is while my kids are eating breakfast or lunch.  Just remember to challenge, but not exasperate your child!

As your child grows in their ability to sit still (or at least listen while playing quietly), increast from a paragraph to a page, a couple of times throughout the day.  When my son was well into his 3 year old year, I would try to read him a page from a 'living' nature book, and a page or two from a children's literature book each day.  This was not easy or natural for him at first, but we kept practicing!

Now that my son is 4 (nearing 5), I am amazed at his ability to listen while I read.  Not only is he able to sit relatively still and quiet, he truly has come to enjoy these times throughout the day.  He asks the most inquisitive questions as I read (which I love because it shows me that he is listening and not just being quiet), and usually asks me to keep reading.  He loves to look on while I read and notice where I am reading on the page.

Here is my son talking about some of the books we are reading and he is enjoying looking though during his quiet time each afternoon.  He loves to look at them over and over, memorizing the chapter names and reading bits and pieces himself (he is still daunted by the amount of words on the pages in chapter books).



 
For his 4 year old year, we are reading living history books, character stories, living nature books, and children's literature books.  The article 10 Things to Do with your Child Before Age 10 recommends at least 2 hours of reading aloud per day.  My goal this year has been to work up to that.  I think most days we are there.  Some days not, but it is always at least an hour (keep in mind that this time is spread throughout the day.)  We love to read while we are eating breakfast and lunch, before rest/nap time, and even outside, sometimes while I'm pushing the kids on the tire swing!


Recommended Preschool Chapter Book Read Alouds:


These are for when your preschooler is comfortable sitting and listening to a page or so of reading and doesn't need pictures to keep their attention.
  These are affiliate links to books that I have enjoyed with my preschoolers.


I'm sure there are many more, these are just some of the ones we have read in the past two years.   
What are your favorites to read to your little children?

This series is a part of the iHomeschool Network summer Hopscotch!  Click the picture below to find other great series' from the ladies of the iHN.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

5 Days of The Classical Preschool

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From June 10th -14th I will be sharing with you a series titled The Classical Preschool.  As I come to the end of this year, I realized that my oldest child will be 5 years old for the start of next year, which 'technically' puts him in kindergarten.  We have completed his preschool years and I have a feeling that what we did for preschool looks much different than what most people do.  I'm not at all trying to say that there is one right way to do preschool, but I would like to take the time to look back and summarize what we have done to help you if you are using the classical model of education and have preschoolers underfoot.

Here is what the week will look like:

Day 1 - Read Out Loud

Day 2 - Memorize

Day 3 - Manipulate

Day 4 - Narration

Day 5 - Explore


I hope you will come back and join us as we discuss what a classical preschool can look like!