Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

Hanging Gumball Machine

We use gumballs as little treats during our school time. It is such a simple thing and the kids look forward to it each day. Sadly our gumball machine broke and I am left with a huge bucket of gumballs.  The kids don’t mind because now they can pick which color they want.
Today I  came across this gumball machine from LTD. What a cute idea. I don’t know where I would hang it but I am tempted to buy it.



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Loren Entz

It is that time of year again where I spend hours looking at and collecting my homeschool curricula.  Last year I used a mostly classical approach to homeschooling but I have decided that I am going to do a mix of classical and Charlotte Mason style. I feel the two work well together and I have really enjoyed learning more about Charlotte Mason and her philosophy of education over the last few months.
Miss Mason was born in 1842. She lost both her parents by the time she was 17 and devoted the rest of her life to helping children learn to the best of their abilities.  There is a lot that can be said about her philosophy of education and learning, but here are the things I am going to incorporate into our education.

1. Short lessons
This seems very foreign to those of us who are use to sitting in school having 50 min. lessons. But Charlotte was an advocate for short lessons believing that a child will remember more, pay better attention, do his work more neatly, and overall be more productive if the lessons are kept short. She recommends 10-20 min. per lessons for elementary children, 30 min. for junior high and 45 min. for high school students. Short lessons also allow for the formation of good habits.

2. Good Habits
She wrote, “the habits of the child produce the character of the man . . .every day, every hour, the parents are either passively or actively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.” Attentiveness, truthfulness, neatness, order, kindness and diligence are but a few of the habits Mason believed children should be taught from infancy, but they should also be a regular part of home education as they grow. One practical way of doing this is to pick a character quality you want to focus on and then work on that for 6-8 week reinforcing everything with Bible verses. Then move on to another one.

3. Perfect Execution
“Throw perfection into all you do’ is a counsel upon which a family may be brought up with great advantage.” One habit that stands out to me is that of perfect execution. Now we all know that no one is perfect, but what Mason wanted to teach a child was for them to do their work well, to focus on the task at hand and to give it their best effort. I think Mason realized that children are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for.  For example, if you give your child 5 letters to copy, he should copy them perfectly or as close as possible. Always point out the good work they are doing, but also show them their mistakes or messiness (kindly of course) and have him do it again until all 5 letter are written well. If it takes him the whole allotted time to write these 5 letters then it is time well spent and there should be cheering when he has accomplish his task. A kindergarten child may spend his 10 min of writing class practicing a single letter. This is where short lessons come in handy. Because any child can be trained to focus hard on a task for 10 -15min. It is also the beginning of the child learning a good habit that will serve him the rest of his life. This is something I am going to try and implement  this coming  school year  “What is worth beginning is worth finishing, and what is worth doing is worth doing well.”

Here is another bit of advice Charlotte Mason gives: “never let the child dawdle over a copy-book [penmanship] or sums, sit dreaming with his book before him. When a child grows stupid over a lesson, it is time to put it away. Let him do another lesson as unlike the last as possible, and then go back with freshened wits to his unfinished task…the lesson must be done, of course, but must be made bright and pleasant to the child.” (Vol. 1 p. 141)

4. Narration
Winston Churchill once said of exams, “I should have liked to be asked to say what I knew. They always tried to ask what I did not know. When I would have willingly displayed my knowledge, they sought to expose my ignorance. This sort of treatment had only one result: I did not do well in examinations.”

This is exactly what Charlotte Mason wanted to avoid and narration is the answer. Narration is when the child tells back to you what he remembers of the story you just read, history you just talked about or the science you studied. The child can be prompted with questions from the teacher, but by repeating what they have heard or read they are reinforcing those things in their minds and you as their teacher can assess more accurately their understanding of a subject or their level of attention. Sometimes a wiggly child will have understood better than the quiet child who seems to be paying attention but in truth didn’t understand a thing. Narration will bring this to light. At first the younger children will do mostly oral narration. You can write it down for them, but as they grow and as they develop their ability to write, they can do some written narration as well.

Living books

Charlotte Mason believed in what she called “living books”. These are books that are written by people who have a passion for the subject. It’s a book that draws you in and captivates your interest and imagination, it does not talk down to a child and are often written in a conversational tone.  Sadly many textbooks do not have these characteristics and a child ends up being bored with his subject. Mason called these books “twaddle”. Some of my favorite “living” text books are Apologia Science books and Story of the World for history. Of course going to the library and getting books on the various subjects you are studying is one of the best ways to use living books in your education.

I am getting very excited to try these methods in our home school this year. I believe it will make learning for my kids a lot more pleasant. I do not want my kids to simply memorize facts so they can get an A on a test and then forget what they “learned”. Instead I want them to retain the information we talk about because they are interested and because they love to learn.


Some websites to check out:

The Original Homeschool Series by Charlotte Mason

Ambleside Online (great book list for k-12 found under curriculum)

Jeannie Fulbright

Some books to check out:

When Children Love to Learn

A Charlotte Mason Education

For the Children’s Sake

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I have been homeschooling for the past two years. Every year I become a little more wiser as to what works and what does not.  One thing that has been helpful are educational games. I have been under the false assumption that these games need to be nice fancy board games in order to be really effective, but I have found that the kids like the simple homemade games just as much, if not more, because you can change it up however you like. I am not the most creative person so I found some books that have been very helpful in this area. So far I have gotten them all from the library, though I will be purchasing a few soon.

51RNS18C6CL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_In the book, “How to Get you Child off the Refrigerator and on to Learning”,
Carol Barnier talks about how she dealt with her son who had severe ADHD. Normal methods of learning just weren’t working so in order to keep his attention she had to get creative. This is not juts a book for parents with ADHD children, but it is very helpful for anyone who has wiggly kids or little one who are easily distracted. One game I got from this book was an educational fishing game. To start, you write facts about what you are learning (in our case it was about the planets) on 3×5 cards. Attach a paper clip to each card and make a fishing rod out of a stick (or a wooden spoon), string, and a magnet. I spread our cards out on the floor in the kitchen, had the kids lay across the kitchen table and pretend to go fishing. Once they caught a “fish” we would read what the card said and the child who caught it had to tell me what planet it was talking about. If he guessed correctly he got a chocolate chip. If he guess wrong it was thrown back into the sea. My kids love this game and ask me to play it all the time. You can adapt this game to any subject, letter sounds and recognition, math facts, history …..

71WJEQD63DL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_Another great resource has been the book “Games for Learning”, by Peggy Kaye. Peggy Kaye has taught in both public and private elementary schools. She is now a reading and math tutor in New York and has written a number of books about how to use games for learning. You can find them at your library. In the book “Games for Learning”, Peggy gives you more than 70 games that you can play to help your child in a number of different areas such as: memory, logical thinking, reading, spelling, math, science and social studies. The games take about 10min to play (some even less) and usually only require paper and pencils.

Some other books she has written are “Games for Math”, “Games for Reading”, “Games for Writing” and “Games with Books”. The age range for these are Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

These books are helpful not just for the homeschooling family, but for anyone who wants to work with their child during the summer or throughout the school year.

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