Friday, June 16, 2017

Lego freebie for you!!

We have a wedding to participate in this weekend which, of course, involves a dress rehearsal plus Father's Day and a Lego Batman Movie party to do, so our weekend is very full.  So, I thought I would post before the craziness begins and keep it short and sweet.  So, how about a Lego freebie.  I make these notebooking pages as a fun addition to my book The World of Tiny Fashion.  If you want to know more about it, visit my post here.  But, in the meantime, enjoy these FREE notebooking pages.  You can use them in whatever way you want - storytelling, history, whatever you like.  These are for your use only.

 Lego Notebooking Pages


Have a great weekend!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

How I Homeschool - Geography

Geography can be a fun subject to teach when done in the right way.  Yes, you could have them memorize maps all the live long day, but what's the complete fun in that.?  Memorization with geography has it place, but you can make the world come alive and enjoy doing it at the same time. And, as always, I love incorporating good literature into our studies.  Last week, I mentioned a core for my curriculum.  The same goes for geography.  My favorite core geography curriculum books for this are......

Cantering the Country (U.S. geography) and Galloping the Globe (world geography, though, note not every single country of the world is in it) are just plain fun for the elementary to middle grade school child.  Inside are maps, activities, literature lists, fun information, recipes and more.  We have really enjoyed working through them.  I found a little stick horse in Google images that I printed and laminated, and we use him to mark where we are studying in conjunction with whatever country or state we are learning about.  You will not be at a loss to find things to do, but if you would like even more hands on geography, I like to reference these books......

Beginning Geography is a great little book to get kids learning how a map works, different geographical terms, where the continents and oceans are, etc.  It is what the title says, the start to geography.  Hands on Geography is just plain full of hands on projects.  

National Geographic maps are the best!!!!

A must with geography are maps.  We have a set of National Geographic ones that are awesome.  Ours are beginning to look loved, so I thing I am going to FINALLY get them laminated this summer.  But, you don't have to have the ones from National Geographic.  Amazon has a nice collection of maps for sale you can easily get there.  Also, I find owning a globe to be absolutely essential.  I have found them easily at stores likes Target and Walmart but Barnes and Noble and again Amazon have them as well.

Another wonderful thing to have to study is a good collection of atlases.  My kids have poured over ours.  Again, a couple of ours are from National Geographic, but DK makes a great collection of atlases that we own a couple of the unique ones.

Map tracing its a fun thing to do as well.  Having a great set of outline maps is a must if you are going to map trace.  We own a lifetime membership to Notebooking Pages which also contains a great collection of maps to print, color, trace or whatever you would like.  But, also, Homeschool in the Woods which I mentioned with our history post last week has a set of maps as well.  There is also the free route, which is also nice, Google.  :)  (Actually as a plug for Google, Google Earth is really a fun addition to your computer.  Being able to zoom in and see parts of the world where we will never go is an amazing experience.  My kids love Google Earth!!!)  If you want to see how another homeschooler map traces, here is a post on how she does it.  Its a fun and simple way to incorporate geography, too.

If your child is a bit more computer drawn, Seterra has a free program you can download to your computer.  It is a great way to review or even learn the countries, capitals, and even flags around the world.

Lastly, Lego (surprised?) is great way to incorporate geography.  Show them a basic outline of a continent or even country and have them make it out of lego blocks.  They can even add the desert areas and major bodies of water.  This idea is not original to me.  But, I love it!

Now for literature!!!  As mentioned previously, Galloping the Globe and Cantering the Country both are full of literature lists, but I want to mention a couple of other books that I love as well.

Holling's books are wonderful living literatures which goes lovely with any U.S. geography study (we will be reading these next year).  Each one talks about a different part of our country geographically but with such vivid language and description.  These are a real feast for any child to hear or read.

These are bright and colorful little books that are great for any child to look at.  Maps and Globes give a great overview on how to read a map, what longitude and latitude are, etc.  Geography from A-Z is a great reference tool (the older ones still reference it from time time to time) with its many geographical terms - what is an island, a continent, a bluff, a river, and many many many more. 

Another great DK book is Children Just Like Me.  Kids are seen from around the world doing every day things that any kid does.  It also talks about their food, their homes, their schools, their way of dress.  As with all DK books, they are chocked full of pictures which helps a child really grasp what life is like for that child.  I love using this in conjunction with Galloping the Globe and whatever country we are learning about.  Google Earth is also wonderful to use in conjunction with this.

Give Your Child the World is a very recently published anthology of children's literature talking about the different cultures around the world.  The author is very culture conscious since all of her children are from different countries of the world.  She also enjoys globe trotting.  She has brought her love and research into this book and it is a gem to own.  Full of books divided by continent and covers all grade levels, it is worth owning in your library.  You won't lack in literature here.

Last but not least, here is fun YouTube channel which is full of fun songs and other things to help a child learn different geographical regions.  I was introduced to it by a friend.  You will also see it has way more than just geography.  Its a great little channel to subscribe to for learning period.  I will be doing a post on using YouTube for school.  What a blessing YouTube can be, but we will save that for another time.

What do you do for Geography?  Please feel free to comment.  Happy Trails!!!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Family Travels in May

Starting today, once a month, I will be posting pics of our various travels. Living approximately 30 minutes outside of Washington, DC, has its perks.  With all the free museums and art galleries not to mention the fabulous Folgers Shakespeare Library and the zoo, there is a ton to do there which cost little to no pocket money.  We travel there at least once a month to catch a special exhibition, view the art, or whatever may strike our fancy. I count it a large blessing to live so close there.  We have learned and enriched our lives as homeschoolers as a result of it!  I wouldn't change it for the world!  But, that is not all we do in our travelling.  There are other fun things we do from time to time, so I thought it would be fun to share our fun each month.  If it should be we have a month where we go nowhere (hahaha), there will be no post.

First up on our monthly activities was Free Comic Book Day!!!!  My kids are enjoy Marvel, DC, Doctor Who, anything totally geeky.  And, free comic book day is a good day to rake in some goodies, for nothing.  Our library system participated in the event, so my hubby took the boys out to library hop.  They found a cool photo booth while out.  (note-my youngest son is NOT being grouchy.  he's posing as Batman, and Batman never smiles)

Another fun thing we saw was the annual orchid display in Washington, DC.  This year it was held at the Hirshorn Gallery.  We have enjoyed their displays over the years.  This one wasn't as big as some in the past, but it was still a nice display.

But, my favorite adventure that we did was visit the Hirshorn Gallery to see the fabulous Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama.  It was a very hard exhibit to get into.  I was so happy when we were finally able to go.   You can read a bit more about her work here and here.  There were various type of her art on display.  I loved it all but my favorites were the Infinity Rooms themselves.  

The other types of art that was on display

The grand finale of the whole exhibit was the Obliteration Room.  It was totally touchable.  Before opening, Ikea donated a ton of stuff and all was painted white.  Then, as you go into the room at the end of the exhibit, you are given a sheet of stickers which you can place anywhere you like.  It was a fun colorful room.

(my mini-me went along for some fun photos, dressed in polka dots, of course)

It was a fun exhibit.  There was also a large pumpkin outside the museum which we saw back in March.  

Its debut at the Hirshorn is the start of its tour around the United States.  If you want to see if it is coming to a museum near you, check here.

And that wraps up our adventures for May.  What were you up to in May?  Leave a comment and let me know.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

How I Homeschool - History

Today, we are talking History.  At this point in my on going series, we are going to start separating what I do in elementary/middle grade ages from my high schoolers.  I will cover their stuff at a later date in either one or two posts.  

I love a good spine.  What is a spine?  No, in this case it is not the bones that help support your back.  However, like a human spine, a curriculum spine is a support system.  And, as far as curriculum goes, it helps you set the pace for a good program.  I have 2 spines that I use for our history learning.  
World History

We love Story of the World by Peace Hill Press of the Well Trained Mind for our World History.  It is lovely.  Perfect for the Charlotte Mason mama.  There are 3 parts to the curriculum, though not all are necessary - the reader, the activity book, and the CD set.  While I love all 3, you can pick and choose what you want.  Here is my normal for using this set.  First, we read the day's section from the reader.  Then, we follow it up with some narration.  You can make up your own OR she has a lovely set with each chapter in the activity book.  Then, we follow all that up any activity we may have planned.  The activity book is chocked full of ideas - maps (we love these), coloring pages, arts and crafts, and, my favorite, extensive book lists broken down by age for each chapter!   I either do an activity or read a fun book to them.  We always do the maps.  The CD's are awesome for car rides, rest times, or bedtime listening.  A simple but effective way to review.  I simply love this series.  There are 4 book sets to the series - Ancient History, Medieval History, Early Modern Times, and Modern Times.

"Now, how is that just a spine?  I thought you said it was a support system."  A good spine allows fluctuation and the ability to "do your own thang."  And, this does just that.  If we find a particular part of history more fun, we stop and do even more with it - whether it be a fun Lego build, more arts and crafts, create costumes, more reading, or a great movie.  For Ancient History, I like to pause along the way and incorporate where the major Bible history falls in.  All of the Bible can be covered throughout the first book in the series, Ancient History.  

And, while I love this curriculum, it is just world history.  It is a great overview of it.  However, it lacks in good solid American History.  Oh, yes, it covers it in a broad sense, but that is what she does with every country around the world.  Since we live in the United States, American History, I wanted us to learn American history in further detail.

American History

About the time we were ready to begin American History, we were introduced to Homeschool in the Woods by Amy Pak.  There are has been no turning back for me.  I love the flexibility and thoroughness this curriculum has to offer.  Here again, it was my spine.  We have had such a blast with this series, following it and then diving off to do our own thing.  All come in either CD format or downloadable format, so, yes, you have printing to do.  But, it is worth the ink.  I have printed up, for each one, the reader sections.  You could easily read them off a computer screen, but, I personally do not enjoy that.  I would rather have it in a notebook so I can interact with my kids more.  Stick them in a notebook and you don't have to print ever again!  There are loads of activities to choose from.  You can either put it all in a lapbook style.  Or, there are notebooking pages you could do.  We have done both.  I prefer notebooking over lapbooks, as I have to come discover over the years.  Also, included with these are large book and movie lists, a newspaper older children can write up as they go along, lovely timelines, maps, games, and a nice little calendar you could follow.  (We followed the calendar loosely, very loosely.  It was good to keep us on track, but we kept diving off so much, it would always take us longer than the time she alloted).  At the end, she gives recipes, decorations, and even invitation ideas for a wrap up party!  It is great fun.  These start from the beginning of American history - exploration through the 20th century.  (Side note - she also has some world history as well which looks well done as well.  I have never tried them because these are the newer parts to her history series and we were already set on the Story of the World for us.)

Again, this was our spine.  I would dive off for costumes, Lego, and other goodness if we so chose to do so.  And, like Bible history, I would incorporate these where they fell into the Story of the World timeline.  This has worked well for us.  It gives us variety and a good sense on how the history timeline falls.

A couple of other good things that we have enjoyed to bring our histories to life are videos.  We have loved the Liberty Kids series, Drive thru History, and America, the Story of Us series.  YouTube has some great videos as well to add to it.  I found this list a while back and it has been a useful resource for me.  As far as fun listening is concerned, Jim Weiss is hands down our favorite storyteller!  He has an awesome collection of historical listening.  You can find his CD collection here.  

As far as extra literature is concerned, there are a couple of series that if you can get your hands on, even from the library, you will love them

Landmark history series - older series, but, oh, so good - here is a wonderful list
Who was? What is? etc. series
The Magic Treehouse series (here is my post on where they fit into history)
Cornerstone of Freedom series - another older series, but very good - here is a list

One final resource.  I love a good anthology of literature.  I have a collection of them, to be exact.  I will share them more when I get to literature, but here is a great one for your history needs.  It went out of print for a while, but it is now back in print.  And, it is a gem.  My copy looks like this:

However, Nothing New Press has rereleased it and now it looks like this:

(isn't that a gem of a cover-loving the vintage look)

Get your hands on a copy of this book.  You won't regret it!

That wraps it up for History.  What's your favorite curriculum or books for history?  Let me know in the comments.   Have a great weekend and enjoy some history!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Wright Brothers

For a while now, my husband has had a passion for the story of the Wright Brothers.  He is so passionate about it, he is planning on taking our family on an adventure, an adventure in movie making.  More on that another time.  However, their story is amazing.  They were 2 boys in a large family.  Their dad was a pastor.  Their mom died at a young age.  They saw a vision of flight and with little money watched that dream take place.  They made a promise to their dad to never fly together that they kept all their life, except for the one time when they asked their dad for permission to do so.  They met many famous people.  They accomplished the impossible.  I knew my older children knew about them.  We have covered them in history, but my littles didn't.  If we were going to take on this family project, all of them needed to know the story first.

There are many awesome books out there on the Wright Brothers.  But, I do have my favorites.  

I have these in our collection.  Airborne is a biography of the Wright Brothers.  Full of great pictures and lots of information.  A great read.  The other 2 are some of my favorites for a great overview of their story.  The flight of adventure is great for younger listeners.  The other is a chapter book from Landmark books.  I had my 11 year old read it, and he loved it.  As a side note, that series of books are absolutely excellent.  If you can get your hands on any, do so!

These are a few others that are very fun.  To Fly is a little longer, but a great read.  Wee and the Wright Brothers is one of my all time favorites (my hubby has chatted with its author - squeal).  Such a cute story of their story from a mouse's point of view.  The last one is another one that is part of a larger series, the Getting to Know series (there are ones about inventors, artists, composers, etc.) These are another that are an easy read, and they have such funny little comic scenes in them.  My children love any and all of these that we have read together.

These last 2 are about their sister.  As I mentioned in the first paragraph, Orville and Wilbur were only 2 of a large family.  There were 7 total children - Orville, Wilbur, a set of twins who died in infancy, 2 other brothers - Ruechlin and Lorin, and the only girl - Katharine.  The Wright Sister is a biography about her.  My Brothers' Flying Machine is the story of flight from her point of view.  Both are excellent reading.

I will be picking from the above to read to my 2 youngest.  The others, I will just leave lying around in our living room.  I love doing that.  They pick them up on their own and do further reading.   Its a fun way to get more reading in, and you not having to do it.  I will be following it up all this good reading with this awesome dramatization of their story from Your Story Hour.  It is from the Heritage of our Country series.  If you have never heard a Your Story Hour story, you are missing out on a real treat.  Excellent listening for the whole family.  

We recently took them to Washington, DC to see the exhibit about them at the Air and Space Museum. I find it one of my greatest joys to live within a half hour of DC and all its free museums and art galleries thanks to the Smithsonian.  We travel there several times a year to see the various things there.  We are also planning to travel to Kitty Hawk, right where they took their first successful flight.  It will be exciting. 

(us in front of the Wright Flyer in DC)

I plan to do an activity with the kids, though I haven't decided 100% which one.  There are many great ideas out there.  (Here is what just one search for Wright Brothers for kids garners on pinterest.)  I also want to talk about flight and play with paper airplanes a bit.  We also plan to build the Wright Flyer out of Lego!  I found a how to on that in our most recent Lego book purchase, Brick History by Warren Elsmore.  I also built a custom Orville and Wilbur who will be travelling around with us as we make our documentary.

Here are Lego Orville and Wilbur visiting the exhibit at Air and Space

I am excited to be on the journey with my family.  As I said before, Orville and Wilbur in Lego will be travelling with us.  And, I plan to journal about our travels and discoveries on my blog here.  You can also follow along with us on my instagram page (link on side bar).  What do you know about them?  Got any gems you want to share?  Post it in the comments below.