Archive for the ‘Hands on Activities’ Category
No matter what type of homeschooling curriculum or methodology you use, this simple graphic tool will help you be a more effective teacher and your student a better learner.
This is my favorite graphic tool because it is SO helpful, on so many fronts, for both me and my students! Maybe this is something you have never done, but I have been guilty of quickly throwing an assignment at a student, without really thinking it through, let alone sufficiently explaining it. And then I would wonder why it wasn’t at all what I was expecting when it was done! Especially if you are a newbie at homeschooling, I bet you have struggled with this, too.
A simple rubric often eliminates this problem by:
- helping you think through the assignment before you give it.
- giving you a clear, concrete way to explain exactly what you want your student to do.
- providing a written reminder to your student of what he’s aiming for as he works on the assignment.
- offering you the perfect tool to evaluate and discuss your student’s work with her.
Rubrics work equally well with written assignments, oral presentations, hands on projects or anything else you might dream up, for history, science, language arts and many other subjects you teach. You can make your rubric as simple or complicated as you want, depending upon the age of your student and your grading criteria.
This rubric is a simple one suitable for a story written by a late elementary student.
Personally, I did not grade my children at that age, but I did use a rubric to insure that we both understood what was expected in an assignment.
How to Make Your Own
- View and download this sample of of a (blank) basic rubric.
- Decide which skills or concepts you want to evaluate.
- List the most important ones in the first column on the left.
- Create a table in Microsoft Word or software similar, or use the blank grid provided on the Train up a Child Publishing Tools CD if you happen own one of our Unit Programs. Type or write in the criteria under the numbers with the highest number being the best score. Notice the wording on the sample criteria to help you develop your own.
- You may add rows or columns if you would like a more fine-tuned system.
- Share the rubric with your student to explain your expectations for the assignment. Encourage her to check the rubric while she is working on the assignment to make sure it is completely finished before it is turned in.
- Evaluate the assignment using the rubric and calculate the points if you are giving your student a grade for that assignment.
- As the teacher, you determine the grading scale depending on the number of elements and whether certain elements are more important than others. With our example, a possible grading scale would be:
9—12 points Passing
below 9 points Reteach
Another possible scoring system could be:
below 8 Reteach
I actually waited as long as I could to begin formal grading; I didn’t begin until half way through middle school. But whether you decide to grade earlier or not, rubrics will still go a long way to ensure you and your students are on the same page with assignments and evaluation.
Have you used rubrics with your students? When did you start using them and how have they worked for you?
Teaching Composition the “Charlotte Mason way” is not formally teaching it at all; but relying instead upon her methods, including the reading of great literature, oral and then written narrations and dictation. The reference from Volume 6 pertaining to this topic is here.
A special thank you to all those who sent in blog posts, as this is probably one of the busiest times of the year for homeschool moms!
Our first post is from Tammy, from her blog AUT-2B-Home in Carolina, and is entitled Composition with an Eye Toward Development. Tammy provides not only samples of her daughter’s written narrations along with Tammy’s wise analysis, but has several quite informative links for anyone wishing to read more about the benefits of narration and other Charlotte Mason methods of teaching.
Although many of us use a modified Charlotte Method approach toward teaching composition, Lindafay provides a bonanza in her two posts on this topic, encouraging homeschool parents to stay the course and rely only upon Charlotte Mason’s methodology in order to have students who become excellent writers. You Don’t Need a Composition Program and How I Raised a Writer Without a Composition Program share how to employ Charlotte Mason’s methodology from Kindergarten through high school, from her blog, Higher Up and Further In.
Part of the equation for learning how to write is reading living books. Carol shares a book review in her post, Shakespeare’s Theatre, complete with illustrations and quotes from this jewel, at her blog journey-and-destination.
Another highly recommended living book no homeschool should be without is described in my post, King Alfred’s English: a History of the Language we Speak: a Must Read!. This fascinating book is perfect for a family read-aloud, history book, copy work and more, from the Epi Kardia/Train up a Child Publishing Blog.
Like reading great literature, a hallmark of learning to write is regular oral and written narration. I’m still chuckling from Brandy’s post providing the benefits of and helpful teaching tips On Group Narration, at her blog, Afterthoughts.
Describing the sometimes difficult balance between “letting alone” and “controlling authority,” Shirley-Ann inspires us with her post, A Wise Letting Alone, pertaining to her family’s nature study, from her blog Under an English Sky.
Phyllis grants us a peek into her planning their homeschool’s nature study this year in her post School Planning: Nature Study on her blog, Hunsucker’s Home, as well as sharing a past post (with cute photos!) called Nature Study: Mammals.
Art and Music Study
Megan shares part of her recent “composer study binge” at her blog, The Winding Ascent. Music at the Feast and the Beauty of Attaining, Part II includes several marvelous recordings as well as Megan’s thoughts about Charlotte Mason’s vision for music study. Thank you for allowing us to be beneficiaries of your binge, Megan.
General Charlotte Mason
Here at the beginning of school for many, Nancy from Sage Parnassus offers wise counsel to focus on the relationships we desire our children to develop with what they are learning, rather than allowing the “nifty extras” to actually be a distraction to that relationship, in her post Love Affairs in Education or The Thing is The Thing.
New Post!!! added 8/22/13 6:30 pm EST
Celeste is already half-way through her first term! And school is well-underway, even though she has a houseful of little ones. Celeste has a well-organized plan for second grade, which she shares with us in her post Second Grade in Our Home: An Overview , from her Joyous Lessons blog. (I never met a chart I didn’t love!) Thank you, Celeste!
Thank you again for taking the time to participate! Apologies in advance if there is a post I missed; please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I either will add it or send it on for the next carnival, at your request.
According to the Carnival Schedule, the next carnival will be the “Back to School” edition focusing on CM Planning and Organization! Please submit posts to the following e-mail address: charlottemasonblogs (at) gmail.com. (deadline: Mon. 9/2 at 5pm CST). Thank you!
Dana Wilson Train up a Child Publishing™ formerly Epi Kardia Home Education trainupachildpub.com email@example.com ******************************** Visit our Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/trainupachildpub
Did you know that thousands of years ago the ancient Chinese were already dyeing fabric?
Or that the Maya in South America created red dye from ground insects?
Instead of buying those pre-packaged egg-dye kits this year, why not create your own natural dyes?
You have most of the ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry already. Experimenting with various vegetables and spices and turning out eggs that are one-of-a-kind is a great hands-on, multi-age project.
The items we used are pictured above. (We had to go to the store to get red cabbage to get a bluer-blue, so add that one.) Here is a list of what we used this year and the color that each material yielded:
- yellow onion skins: dark red
- red onion skins: purplish-red
- coffee: light to dark brown
- tea: light tan/golden brown
- spinach: light green
- turmeric (spice): bright yellow
- red cabbage: bright blue
- raspberries: light pink
Gather items you can use to make dye, such as the ones above. Try some other spices, grass, flower petals and other items you might have outside – with one crucial caveat:
Check and make sure that nothing is poisonous, please!
You would not want to touch or have your children touch plant parts that are poisonous, and you certainly would not want to put anything poisonous in your cookware. If you do not have a thorough field guide to your local plant life, just stick to vegetables and spices.
You will need at least four small saucepans. (Smaller pans don’t require so much dye material.)
Depending upon how many eggs you would like to dye and how much material you have - I recommend at least 12-18 uncooked white eggs. It seems over the years that some eggs absorb dye better than others – I am not sure why that would be; does anyone know?
IMPORTANT NOTE: Authorities say eggs are not safe to eat if they have been out of the fridge more than two hours after cooking, so keep track of this unless you aren’t going to eat them.
- Chop (veggies/skins) or mash (berries) each item that needs it and put a cup or more in each saucepan with the egg(s). The typical four burner stove allows four saucepans/dye colors to be done at one time.
- Measure about two cups of water - or just enough to cover the egg(s) – add one tablespoon of white vinegar for each cup of water. Stir it.
- Boil the eggs for 20 minutes and turn the heat off or remove pan from burner.
- Check the color of the eggs. Leave them in the water longer/add more dying material if you would like a deeper value.
- You can even leave the eggs in the water overnight if you refrigerate the pan with the water and the eggs. (Cool before putting in your fridge.)
Leaving three eggs in red cabbage/water overnight (in the fridge) resulted in the gorgeous blue pictured below!
Another method is to use the procedure above but without cooking the eggs until you have boiled the material for an hour and strained it.
Once the dyeing material has been boiled and removed by straining, use the water to boil the raw eggs for 20 minutes. This probably results in a more solid, uniform color, rather than the “textural” look of our eggs.
I have never tried this.
Perhaps I was too impatient to boil it for an hour….
While You are Waiting
While you are waiting for the eggs to cook/dye to take, you might read and talk about the history of dye creation. Here are a couple of links to get you* started:
General historical info about dye: http://www.ehow.com/about_5422885_history-fabric-dyes.html (Science)
Dying silk: http://www.advantour.com/silkroad/dyeing-of-silk-fabrics.htm (Science/history)
The famous “Silk Road” trading route: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/silk-road/ (History/geography)
*Please do not let your kids loose on links without first taking a thorough look – I did not read every word on every page connected to these.
When you are done cooking the eggs and you are happy with the color, remove them from the dye water, gently pat dry and refrigerate. The egg carton they came in is a perfect place to keep them. When they have cooled, shine them up with a little vegetable oil to bring out the color.
Here is a photo of our latest creations:
What About You?
Have you ever dyed your eggs using natural dyes? How did they turn out? Do you have any dyeing material that you particularly like?
I would love to hear about it!
Christmas is the perfect time to be reading living books. Even those of you who are not Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, please take time during this holiday season to read special books with your children. This is a slightly updated post, originally written by Beth Hempton, formerly of Epi Kardia. We highly recommend all of the books listed here, so if you are looking for superlative stories for nieces, nephews or your own children, look no further! –Dana
Some of my most precious Christmas memories revolve around books. Every year, my Mom would unpack her Reader’s Digest collection of Christmas stories and place it on the coffee table. Every year, I would pick up the heavy, hardbound anthology and read it as if I had never read it before. I also had a well worn copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and I don’t think a movie version was ever made that rivaled my imagination, which swirled with a combination of frightening images and tender vignettes as Scrooge learned to love and be loved. However, the hands down favorite for me was my father retelling of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. My father is not a great lover of literature, being much more concerned with science and facts, but for some reason O. Henry’s irony held Dad captive. To this day, it is my favorite O.Henry story and I will never forget how romantic the couple’s sacrificial love seemed to me as an adolescent girl.
Imaginatively illustrated, simply written children’s picture books can create cherished family memories as well as prized gifts. If you’re looking for some new story treasures for your family, consider some of these favorites. You can purchase them from Amazon by simply clicking the links in the titles.
- Shoemaker Martin written by Leo Tolstoy, illustrated by Bernadette Watts - This picture book actually became one of my favorites after I had my own children, even though it was originally written in the 1800s. The author, Tolstoy, also wrote the most acclaimed novel ever published, War and Peace, and yet, later in life became a Christian and wrote this beloved short story. With the focus on Christ, it’s an ideal story for Christmas although it’s not generally known as a holiday book. Tolstoy’s main point, as presented in this picture book, that Jesus reveals Himself through us in every day life isn’t overly challenging for a young child to understand and yet, it’s an excellent stepping stone for a mature discussion of how the things we do, as believers, affect everyone around us. The illustrations in this particular version are detailed and captivating while the text, translated from Russian, maintains its simplistic story telling quality.
- The Gift of the Magi written by O. Henry – O. Henry is another one of those late 1800s story tellers, although he wrote mainly about American life. As I previously noted, this short story holds a special place in my childhood memories. We didn’t have the picture books, when I was a child, now available with their glorious original paintings. Both of the versions that I have read recently, one illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger and the other by P.J. Lynch, are very comparable in their presentations. P.J. Lynch, one of my absolute favorite illustrators (you will see the name several times in this blog alone) and his soft, but realistic paintings almost tell the story on their own. It’s no wonder that Lynch is a two time winner of the prestigious Kate Greenaway award. Yet, Zwerger’s tender illustrations in this particular book actually seem to give off the romantic gaslight qualities of the time period in which the story was written. You’ll have to make the decision or better yet, buy them both!
- We Believe in Christmas written by Karen Kingsbury and illustrated by Daniel J. Brown - This modern picture is ideally suited for younger children. The text clearly expresses one family’s reasons for celebrating Christmas, rather than “the holiday season.” The vivid illustrations with bright colors and a realistic presentation make it easy for younger children to understand. Related Christmas activity: Make a book with your children revealing why your family believes in Christmas. Focus on what your family does each holiday season and how your traditions relate to your family’s belief in Christ and celebrating His birth. It could be as simple as pages stapled together where you write main ideas on each page and your children illustrate them. For a more sophisticated project, an older child could design the book on the computer.
- The Christmas Miracle of Jonathon Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski and illustrated by P.J. Lynch – Along a similar, but less dark, story line as A Christmas Carol, this is the tale of a reclusive, yet talented, wood cutter who comes to life after being asked to create a Christmas nativity for a mom and her young son. One of my favorite qualities of this story is the flowing language that the author uses including when she describes Toomey, “He went about mumbling and grumbling, muttering and sputtering, grumping and griping.” More creative phraseology occurs when Wojciechowski expresses, “He traveled until his tears stopped.” As usual, Lynch’s illustrations bring life and feeling to the sentimental story with vibrant details including a wood tone shading to match the main character’s gifted profession.
- The Gift of the Christmas Cookie: Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus’ Birth written by Dandi Mackall and illustrated by Deborah Chabrian – In this story, a depression era mother shares a family tradition with her son, Jack. The tradition involves baking cookies and giving them to others to share the story of Christ. When Jack receives an angel cookie as his only Christmas gift, he decides to give it to a stranger and share what he believes. Illustrations of warm watercolors appropriately accompany this simple, but essential story and the author even includes a Christmas cookie recipe. Related Christmas activity: Make Christmas cookies of angels and other Christian symbols to take to a homeless shelter, children’s hospital, orphanage or other institution where children can enjoy them while you and your family share this sweet book. You could also leave your copy of the book for the children to read repeatedly.
- A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens and illustrated by P.J. Lynch – Yes, another book illustrated by Lynch! I would recommend this book for older children due to the seriousness of some of the illustrations. Although the illustrations are darker in places than his other books, this particular story requires them at certain points to maintain the integrity of the original plot.
- Christmas Day in the Morning written by Pearl S. Buck and illustrated by Mark Buehner – Pearl S. Buck is best known as the author of the classic novel, The Good Earth. This is the first time this story has been published in picture book version since its original conception in 1055 as a short story. Its realistic human qualities feature a teenage boy suddenly discovering how much his father loves him. With that realization, the son works to come up with a gift that his father will truly appreciate. A tie in with the nativity moves this story from a simple feel good plot to the real reason behind Christmas. With sincere expression and homey illustrations, this book is sure to become an inspiration for many children to honor their parents in practical and helpful ways.
I hope that my reviews of these favorites provide you with a tool for choosing some new Christmas books for your family and save you some shopping time this holiday season.
Happy reading and many blessings,