Archive for the ‘Lesson Plan’ Category

Waking up those Brain Cells with Geography Activities

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Wake up those Brain Cells with Geography Activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you still enjoying a relaxing summer? Or with August just around the corner, are you already in the throes of preparing for the next school year?

Whether you are in relaxation mode or actively working on school prep, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of learning opportunities to start waking up those sleepy brain cells!

Here are several easy-to-implement ideas to add geography study into your day from the comfort of your own home, or as you hit the road, board a plane or sail by sea:

 Maps

  • Start with the basic map facts like the title, compass rose and legend/key of a map.
  • Have your kids create a local map as you teach mapping basics. You can drive around your neighborhood or town as you teach. Kids can draw the streets and landmarks as you go.
  • Younger children can start with drawing a map of your home.
  • If traveling, have your students draw a map of your destination. Allow older kids to be the navigators.

 

State Studies

  • Check out some books from your local library on your state and create a state notebook.
  • Spend some time learning the state flag, flower, motto, and capital. Incorporate art into the lesson and allow the kids to draw or paint these items for your notebooks.
  • Spend some time researching your state’s history. Have your students dictate or write about what they have learned (and provide illustrations, of course).
  • Take a small road trip and visit your capital if you live close enough. Otherwise, find a local historical landmark to visit.

 

U.S. Geography

  • Simple and engaging for young elementary students, try the iTunes 99 cent app called “Stack the States,” available for iPhones and iPads.
  •  Allow your kids to familiarize themselves with the shape of each state and learn the capitals. Tracing and drawing states are especially great for young learners who need to work on fine motor skills.
  • Another hands on option is using the free online geography (and other) games at  sheppardsoftware.com.  In fact, you can learn world geography at this site as well!
  • Create your own United States puzzle by printing the map on cardstock. The kids can cut out the states, mix them up, and then put them back together again.

 

World Geography

  • For kids that love the movie Cars 2, take a large world map and lay it across the floor. Talk about the different countries each car is from and have the kids place the cars on the right spot on the map.
  • Kids can learn the continents and perhaps several different countries by just discussing your family tree. Do you have branches from England? Scotland? South Africa? China? Label them on a map: “Uncle George Born in Germany”
  • For the Lego lovers, build different monuments from around the world such as Stonehenge, Great Wall of China, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Eiffel Tower, or the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • You can also visit restaurants from around the world in your home city then have your children find the country on the map.

 

Living Books

 You know this post would not be complete without a list of fantastic finds from the library or Amazon.com to resource your geographic explorations:

  • Children Just Like Me, Kindersley. With this book you can read each day about a new child then place a pin or thumb tack on the map where that child lives. This book is a great way to view what other children eat, what their homes look like, what types of toys they enjoy, and a little bit about their surroundings.
  • Maps and Globes. One of my favorite map/globe books for young children, this is a must-have. Enchantingly appealing illustrations show where to find the tallest mountain and the deepest ocean,  and covers the countries of the world as well as how to find your way around your own neighborhood.
  • DK First Atlas. Magnificent pictures entrance elementary readers while chock full of information about continents, countries, oceans, topography and more.
  • Geography Songs. This is out of print so check out your public library or grab this used on Amazon if you can. This is a fabulous memory aid to learning states and countries!
  • Ultimate Sticker Book: Flags of the World Especially helpful for your hands on learners, this is packed with 300 reusable stickers and has been updated as of 2012.

So are what are you up to at this point in your summer? Do you have everything together for the fall or are you lying on a beach? Or somewhere in between the two?  Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

15 Creative Language Art Lessons Using Living Books

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

15 Language Arts LessonsIf you homeschool the Charlotte Mason way, you have often heard that narration is “the” activity to do after reading living books. This is certainly the easiest for you and one of the most profitable activities for your student, but did you know that in Volume 3 of the Charlotte Mason series, Charlotte offered us several other things we can do with books other than narration?

But this [narration] is only one way to use books: others are to enumerate the statements in a given paragraph or chapter; to analyse a chapter, to divide it into paragraphs under proper headings, to tabulate and classify series; to trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause; to discern character and perceive how character and circumstance interact; to get lessons of life and conduct, or the living knowledge which makes for science, out of books; all this is possible for school boys and girls, and until they have begun to use books for themselves in such ways, they can hardly be said to have begun their education.                      –Charlotte Mason, Volume 3, Chapter 16

 

 15 Non-narration Ideas for Living BooksYou Can Use Today!

If your kids balk at narration, or even if they don’t, here are fifteen creative ideas to change things up a bit and learn or review language arts concepts at the same time.

  1.  Have your student take reading notes over a passage (length of the passage is determined by the age of your student and the complication of the passage), writing down the important statements in the passage.  (Example: each step in the lifecycle of a butterfly or frog)
  2. Choose a well-developed paragraph with a clear topic sentence. Type the passage in a large point size, one sentence at a time with a few lines in between. Print and cut out each sentence.  Mix up the order of the sentences and have your student choose the topic sentence of the paragraph and put the sentences in order. Compare with original and discuss. Use the paragraph for copy work.
  3.  Choose a sentence with many adjectives and prepare two versions for copy work:  the first as it is in print and the second leaving out the adjectives. Ask your student to describe the differences in the two sentences. Talk about describing words, or adjectives, and discuss different examples.  Have her use the sentence for copy work with the adjectives. Another day have her circle the adjectives in the initial sentence, and then copy the sentence inserting her own (different) adjectives.
  4. Choose simple sentences of text  and write/type each sentence on its own line with spaces in between.  Leave out either the subject or the predicate of several sentences.  Examine the original complete sentences in print with your student, and after a short verbal lesson (an example of this lesson is here)  on  subjects/predicates, have your child tell which part is missing and create an appropriate subject or predicate.
  5. For your kindergarten student: Prepare a sentence of text for copy work.  Point out capitalization and end punctuation. Have your student copy the sentence. Another day have student create her own sentence using the original sentence(s) as a guide.
  6. Choose and prepare sentence(s) from your science or history books  for copy work to reinforce a history/science concept. Have your student use the sentence for copy work.  Later, use the same text  for dictation. A few days after, check to see if your student remembers the concept without looking at his copy work/dictation.
  7. Choose a punctuation skill that you would like to reinforce, such as commas in a series, quotation marks, apostrophe usage, past or future tense, etc. Find a short passage in one of your literature, history or science books that exemplifies that skill.  Use the passage for copy work one day and dictation later.
  8. Choose a paragraph that includes a part of speech that you are teaching, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, prepositional phrases, etc.  Using a colored pencil, have your child circle all the <nouns, for example.>.  For older children or for review, have your student use different colors to mark different parts of speech and circle some, put a box around others, etc. Make sure to give clear instructions and have your student create a “key” at the bottom of the page.
  9. For extra practice, use the copy work above but have your student use different nouns, etc. Discuss how this changes the sentence(s). For older students, discuss the ‘mood’ of a piece and have him create a different mood than the original by his choice of adjectives.
  10. Have your student find ten interesting adjectives in the newspaper or a magazine and cut them out. Have her write additional sentences using those adjectives.
  11. Type a paragraph of text, joining some of the sentences to make run-on sentences. After a short verbal lesson on run-on sentences, have your student identify them and write correct sentences. Use the corrected piece for copy work.
  12. Using a literature book, choose a passage with examples of several precise verbs. Use this passage for copy work. Another day, use a previously written passage of your student’s. Have him circle the verbs used and discuss ideas for improvement with more precise verbs. Have him rewrite the passage.
  13. Using a well-written book, have your middle or high school level student take a chapter or more and create an outline of the chapter.
  14. Copy a paragraph/passage of text. Change it: misspell words, make the punctuation incorrect or leave it out, make capitalization errors, etc.  Have your student correct.  Then have your student do the same thing above for you to correct.
  15. Copy or create a passage of text with “tired” words such as good, nice, bad, really, said, big, small. Have your student rewrite the passage, using “wow” words. (Example: tiny vs. small) Use a thesaurus to find more words as necessary.

 

Here’s to variety!  Can you think of any more?

How to Write Better in Five Minutes

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

How to Write Better in Five Minutes

#1 She was tired when she finished her paper at midnight.

#2 Sleepily, Mary slowly climbed under the cool sheets and let out a huge, satisfied sigh. Although she didn’t finish writing her conclusion until the clock chimed for the twelfth time, it was worth it. She couldn’t wait to hear what her political science professor thought of her innovative solution for immigration reform. 

What Makes Excellent Writing? 

First class writing can be hard to produce, but simple to spot. It immediately draws you into a scene.  What did you experience, if anything, while reading #1 above? What was different about #2? Did you ‘see’ a tired Mary get into bed? Did you ‘feel’ cool sheets…’hear’ the clock chiming?

Show, Don’t Tell

#1 tells you what happened, but #2 shows you what happened, as if you were there watching. #2 gives you ‘clues’ that Mary was tired, and that she finished her paper at midnight, without coming right out and telling you. A competent author will describe a scene, providing plenty of specific, sensory details that allow the reader to look over her shoulder at it. If it is well-written, the reader “sees” and “feels” what the writer wants her to “see” and “feel.”

Let’s take another example:

1. He was angry when he left.

 2. Miles stalked out of the house, muttering to himself.  The kids playing in the yard stopped mid-sentence, startled at the slamming of the car door and sound of squealing tires as he rounded the corner. 

Now it’s Your Turn

This is an ideal exercise for your late middle or high school student.  Or for you!

Directions:
Rewrite one or more of the following sentences so they cause the reader to ‘experience’ a situation or person. First, read the sentence, then envision a scene based on it. Second, use specific sensory details involving the main character (What does s/he  see, hear, smell, feel, taste?) to tell the reader what you want him to know. You will probably use more than one sentence. Remember: “show,” don’t “tell.” Be creative!

Teaching tip: ANY changes in this direction will immediately improve your student’s writing. Don’t expect perfection on this first attempt – just keep working on it and over time it will come more naturally.

  • The girl was happy that day. 
  • The boy is sick. 
  • The book was scary. 
  • He was not happy to see that the tree in his front yard had been cut down while he was on vacation. 
  • Chris had a lot of school work to do.

Post Yours in the Comments

We would LOVE to see one or more of your student(s) (or your) answers posted in the comments. I will respond to any posted–and feel free to respond to anyone else’s post as well! Student’s love to see their work published!

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing

 

P.S. This lesson plan was adapted from our Middle School Daily Lesson Plans.

 

 

The Perfect Solution for Ninth Grade English!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Essay Styles light bulb Idea go FDP-10020198

 

Public and many private school classrooms often have weak writing curricula.  After all, if you were teaching five sections of English with thirty five students in each one, would you have time to read and correct all of those essays?

So, for English they focus on other areas of language arts, while composition is shoved to the bottom drawer. 

With time for individualized instruction, homeschool parents have the perfect opportunity to teach writing, although many of us feel totally unqualified to do so.

Admittedly, composition is a little harder to teach than grammar or punctuation. After all, having a grammar reference written at your child’s level gives you guidance in those two areas… but that won’t help you much with composition.

What helps the most is having your student read, read, read top level literature. Additionally, habitual oral and written narration over that reading, especially if done from the early years, lays the groundwork for later composition. But that isn’t always enough… at least, it wasn’t with our children.

What do I do for Ninth Grade English?

During the high school years we wanted to ensure our students were comfortable and articulate expressing their thoughts in writing, so we developed our high school composition course, Essay Styles for High School.

We often recommend that advanced eighth graders and ninth graders prepare for high school writing by taking our Essay Styles course.  This excellent composition course offers instruction and even genuine high school-student examples of the five essays that are required with high school level writing: narrative, expository, descriptive, persuasive, and comparison/contrast.  

But what if there is no room in your student’s high school schedule for a composition class AND a typical ninth grade English course?  Simply add literature study to Essay Styles to provide your student with the perfect solution to ninth grade English. Then you have  all of your bases covered, as grammar, spelling and punctuation are more effectively taught through composition than with separate worksheet-based curriculum.

In our last post Cheri had inquired of our Info Desk how to add literature study to our Essay Styles course to make it a  ninth grade English course:

….I would be interested in making [Essay Styles] into a 9th grade English credit class.  How would I go about that with the literature?  Pick a few titles to have her read and write about?  I’m such a newbie when it comes to planning high school!  Thanks for your help!

 Thanks again,

Cheri

 

How to Add Literature Study to Essay Styles

Hi Cheri,

Oh, you are very welcome!  It is agonizing to try and decide what to do for high school, particularly!  :-)  I’m glad to help!  You are exactly right about how to make Essay Styles a basic 9th grade English course.  Just read  books per semester (roughly 2400 pages, depending upon the difficulty of the reading) and do a variety of assignments with them. One great book to help your high school student to get more out of her high school reading would be How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler.   I will tell you right now that for high schoolers, it is a dry book.  :-)  What we did with that book is just read 5 or so pages at a time and discussed it. (I read it with my first child and just discussed it with the other. It helped me get more out of my reading, too!) All the assignment you need for that book can be oral and/or written narration and discussion.

Another  useful non-fiction book for a new high school student is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens  – an apt assignment for this would be written narrations over each chapter.  Here are some other book and assignment ideas:

Les Miserables — This book is about 1300 pages and in ‘older’ vernacular so it could be “the” book for one semester!  There are LOTS of assignments you could get out of this one*:

  • have your ninth grader write a ‘reading response journal’ charting which pages were read at each reading session, a short summary of that day or week’s reading, and her response to the reading
  • a report or essay on the French Revolution as described in the book
  • a “personal letter,”  one character might write to another character
  • vocabulary study — have your student circle in pencil unfamiliar words and go back later to define after trying to figure it out in the context of sentence
  • research and write 2-4 paragraphs about the author
  • choose a monologue or scene from the book and dramatize (perform) it
  • write short character sketches about each of the main characters (what do they “look like,” background information about them, how do they change throughout the course of the book, referencing page numbers and events that are the catalysts that change)
  • after reading the book and watching the movie, write a comparison/contrast essay discussing their similarities and differences.

*You would never choose to do ALL of those assignments ~one longer one and one shorter one would do.

Actually, most of those assignments could be used for other books, too, with the exception of the one about the French Revolution, of course.

Other great reading:

Note that the Kindle version of a few of these are free on Amazon. (You can also download a free Kindle app for your p.c.)

 Dana-

Your answer is very helpful.  I have printed it out and will definitely be referring to it.  I really enjoyed the 7 habits book for myself and did not realize they had one for teens- great idea!  And thanks for helping to make high school a little bit less scary :)  

Hopefully this post has made high school a little less scary for you, as well.

If it has been helpful or you have additional questions we could address, please let me know in the comments below!

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing

Photo image courtesy Idea go via freedigitalphotos.net

Mini Valentine’s Day Unit Study!

Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Valentine's Day Unit Study for homeschooled students

Here are 15 Valentine’s Day ideas, broken down by subject, to add some pizzazz to your homeschooling!

Valentine’s ideas for History and Geography

1.  Did you know the original St. Valentine was said to be a Christian martyr? Noting that there are a few different versions of the St. Valentine’s legend, have your middle/high schooler research and create a short oral report about St. Valentine’s life and death and present it to your family.

2. Have your dramatically-inclined student use the above research and create a short play based on St. Valentine’s life and perform it for another homeschooling family.
3. Task your students with researching Valentine’s Day during the Middle Ages and find out what Valentine’s Day had to do with birds.  :-)
4.  One of the most common symbols of Valentine’s Day is a Cupid. After defining  the word “symbol” for your youngest students, have your older ones research Cupid, draw a picture of one (in color, of course) and include a description of the origins of Cupid on the page.
5. Valentine’s Day is not just an American holiday! Have your student(s) locate other countries where Valentine’s Day is celebrated and do one or more of the following: Make a notebooking page for every country you find that celebrates Valentine’s Day.  List the Valentine’s Day traditions of that country and draw a map of each country.
6. Choose one or more interesting traditions and incorporate it into your family’s celebration.

7. Create a world map labeling the countries that celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Ideas for Language Arts

8. Create a word search including the following terms: Valentine’s Day, roses, pink, red, lace, cupid, card, St. Valentine, heart, doves, chocolate, etc.

9. What does the Bible say about love?  Instruct your students to find verses that describe the love that God has for His people, for the church and the love believers should have for one another.  Choose some of the verses as copy work and/or memorization.
10. Have your students define the word “love” in a paragraph.  Have them read about love in the Bible and the

n revise their paragraph as needed, including Bible verses as references.  Use this assignment as a lesson between love as a “feeling” and love as a “choice” and/or an “action.”

Valentine’s Ideas in Science

11. Use this week  as an opportunity for a quick scientific study of the heart. Write a short report about the function of the human heart.  Include a diagram of the heart, labeling the various parts. Using different colors, show the blood flow into and out of the heart.

12.  Make a poster  comparing and contrasting the human heart and the heart of an amphibian or reptile. If comparing and contrasting is a new concept you may want to use a Venn Diagram for help.

Valentine’s Ideas for Fun and Family Ministry

13. Gather your construction paper, wrapping paper scraps, ric rac, spare buttons, markers, glue and other craft supplies in the appropriate colors. Take an afternoon off school and construct hand-made Valentine’s cards for friends, family, elderly or shut in neighbors, children at a local hospital, etc.  Add a Bible verse about love to your cards and talk about what the verse means.

14.  Bake heart-shaped sugar cookies, frost with pink icing and glaze with pink sugar.  Include a homemade card and cookies and take to the neighbors, a nursing home or use to create a care package to a college student or two.
15. Start a new tradition!  Join with another family or two and assign many of the above ideas to different children.  Plan and execute a Valentine’s Party or dessert.  Have everyone share their reports and projects, exchange Valentines and then enjoy homemade Valentine’s treats!
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And let’s not leave out any of the youngest members of your family — here is an adorable interactive book that will make your babies giggle with glee.  (Really!)
What ideas can you add or what mentioned here sparked your interest?  What do you do at your house to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Dana

 

Heart image courtesy of Zoo-fari via Wikimedia Commons