D is for…Dang

Katherine Dang is one of my favorite BPA teachers. She is so knowledgeable and gentle and kind and, well, wonderful. Her organization is Philomath Foundation and she is available for consultations, conferences and the like. Ms. Dang has been in BPA education for over 30 years. Her wisdom is inspiring and her materials are top-notch. I hope you’ll take time to listen some of her conference audio (her Series on the Introduction to American Christian Education is wonderful. I’ve probably listened to each session a dozen times!) Material from the Wednesday Night Salons she holds in California is also great for sparking discussions in your own small group setting.

Her materials are available here. Dang’s Universal History volumes are excellent texts for high school and beyond. She also offers others materials such as a science project guide and several literature guides on this page.

 

C is for…curriculum guides

The Noah Plan Curriculum Guides (CG) from FACE are wonderful tools for almost every subject. They are chock full of info on lesson planning, teacher notebooks, foundations of the subject, timelines and more. There are projects and checklists and sample student work. They are a terrific resource for newbies and experienced BPA’ers alike. I talked more about them in this post.

There are CG’s for history/geography, literature, mathematics, art, English, and reading. They are useful for K-12 and are useful for planning lessons because they have quarterly lesson outlines for K-12 in the front of each guide (except art). Science is not available but I hope it they write one. For some BPA help with planning science lessons and laying a science foundation from PMom click here.

They are also excellent resources if you don’t use the Noah Plan and even if you don’t homeschool. They offer each subject’s Christian history, resource lists and more.

 

 

Homeschool Plans for 2012-2013

I am really really really looking forward to this new year! So much change and so much to make me smile. I have been on sabbatical from home educating my children but God has brought things together for me to be able to joyfully teach my children again. I have missed it so much!

My two older daughter are starting junior high and high school this year at our church’s Christian school. The boys (8 and 4) will homeschool with me. So here are my basic plans for this new school year (third grade and preschool):

My 4 year old wants to be just like his big brother so I have “school” things for him to do as well. Soon I’ll see if he’s ready to learn to read. I have had the privilege of giving each of my other children the Golden Ticket and I can’t wait to work with my last one.

 

This is just the skeleton. I am starting to put these bones together and then I’ll flesh them out with weekly plans and dress this guy up in some field trips and special projects.

I’m trying a new-to-me organizing system that I’ll share with you soon. I really like it so far! I’ll show you how I adapt it to fit my needs.

Plans for this school year 2011-2012

So we are counting down the days until we get back into the school swing. My two oldest attend our church’s private school and I am teaching the younger two at home. I have a preschooler and a 2nd grader. Here’s what the big picture looks like for this school year.

Almost everything here is planned for me. Because I work full time and attend school myself, I can’t get into a lot of lesson planning from scratch. This is a very workable plan for us. It keeps us in the BPA but not overwhelmed with creating my own plans.In the near future I will go into a bit more detail about what we are going to do.

My sons and I can hardly wait for the new school year! I know God has good things in store for us.

Homeschooling: iPhone it in

I am an iPhone fanatic. I use it for everything I possibly can, so it makes sense that I’d find ways to utilize it for our home education. These are just a few of the many, many ways an iPhone can add to your home educating experience. I have linked to many apps that I like but I in no way formally endorse or recommend them. Do what you like, I’m just sharing. (For free. No money changed hands for this article.)

Scheduling

I love that I can sync to my iCal so I always have the latest calendar, complete with alarm reminders (which I use a LOT). I also can plan chores (especially easy if you like FlyLady), menu planning and other things too. There’s also a planner app that looks like a real planner and syncs with your Google calendar, if you prefer. I can schedule reminders for all sorts of home maintenance tasks so don’t forget to change the air filter. All this helps me focus less on tasks and more on learning.

Recording

I can take notes and pictures, edit and post them to a ton of places. I can write & publish a blog post with my WordPress app. I can save things to remember in Evernote and remind myself of the great time we had in my gratitude journal.

Learning

YouTube has tons of videos that are terrific for school. I love to pull up video of things like beavers making dens or a working printing press. I can read books from my Kindle app and from other literature apps. I have things like math flash cards, games and other tools to reinforce skills. (I’ll get into these in another post.) Anything I need to make note of is just a click away. When we are learning on the go, I can look up anything we are curious about, like identifying birds or wildflowers.

Enriching

Drawing apps, cooking apps, just about anything to plan a field trip (with maps, phone numbers & forecasts) is right at my fingertips. Pandora and other sites have all the music we need. We can learn a foreign language or listen to an audio book or podcast, plan a garden or visit the Louvre.

Planning

When I need to, I can use PocketFlicks to add movies to my Netflix instant queue (or for delivery) for school, like documentaries and period movies. I can search for books at my library with a web browser and even print documents I need for lessons. I wish I could say I have found a great teacher planner app, but no such good fortune. That I still have to do on paper or in Homeschool Tracker Plus. But it does help me plan just about anything I need to do. And I can set goals with a little help from master planner Franklin Covey.

I know technology isn’t the answer to everything, even for home education. But technology, when it makes things easier, is a good thing. Thankfully, there’s no a app to replace me–yet.

What do you use your iPhone/iPad/iTouch for in your homeschool? What are your favorite apps?

We are history

History to many people seems like a dusty book that you bring out and teach your kids when you have to meet state requirements or because you “have to.” History is not that at all. It is not a stale timeline or disjointed facts from long ago. It’s alive and it’s happening all around you right now.

girlonpath3547128317_04b011457fHistory, or His Story, is going on every second the clock is ticking. Yesterday is history, is it not? History is a record of all that has happened since God created time. But it really has always been because God’s story has always been. So we focus on man’s history but really it’s God’s story.

Why do I say we are history? Because we are in time, we are God’s story, we help further His story. One day my family, if no one else, will look back on what I’ve done and hopefully they will see that I furthered His Story in some way. I want them to be able to say that I had some hand in God’s plan for mankind, that I made a difference–even in only one life.

I know God is the only one that can truly know what impact my life has had here, and I look forward to those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” But I think there should be a trail behind me for others to follow. My history, intertwined with God’s, can lead others to the Truth long after I am gone.

25 uses for index cards

I am in love with index cards. Have been for a long time. They are just so, well, handy. There are whole books devoted to using them in your homeschool, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. Flash cards. That’s a no-brainer, right?
  2. Matching games.
  3. Making puzzles.
  4. Making 3-D objects.
  5. writing out lesson plans.
  6. collecting ideas for a paper or a book. they can be shuffled in any order until you are happy
  7. Phonics: putting parts of words on cards to match up together.
  8. Mental math. Put answers on cards and scatter on the floor. Read problem aloud and when they solve it they pounce on the right answer.
  9. Life size board game. Put directions on index cards and create a path through the house. Use big dice and the kids become the playing pieces, following the directions on the cards.
  10. For preschoolers: pictures on the cards help them communicate their feelings. They can point to the face that matches how they feel.
  11. Use them like soccer warnings. They get cards as discipline. Green, then yellow, then red. You can assign discipline as your family sees necessary.
  12. Create a flip book.
  13. Write chores to check off.
  14. Cut a slit in the end and wind stray ribbon on it. The slit holds the end of the ribbon.
  15. Keep a grocery list in your pocket.
  16. Lay several out and draw a road on them. Now your boy has a portable road he can assemble anywhere he goes.
  17. Make bookmarks for a friend.
  18. Recipes. Put one on the quick bread you give to a friend.
  19. punch holes and they become lace up cards.
  20. Keep a card file organized by month. Use it for birthdays, seasonal chores and other monthly duties.
  21. Use them as little canvases for mini fridge art.
  22. Make a countdown calendar. Number and decorate the cards and put them in order. Fold one card to make an easel and lean the cards on it. Each day the kids can move the card to the back and see how many days are left.
  23. Make a speech. Practice it and then give the speech in front of friends and family.
  24. Write or draw your clothes on the cards–Bottoms, tops. Mix and match to create new fashions from your same old clothes.
  25. Write your memory work on the cards so you can put them in your pocket for memory work on the fly.

What’s your idea?

making the most of public speaking

One thing all kids need is confident public speaking. The ability to persuade, inform and entertain is a priceless ability, and homeschooled kids have many terrific opportunities to hone their skills–and tools to help them do it better.

photo courtesy rick

photo courtesy rick

TED talks are very popular, and with good reason. If you aren’t aware of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) then visit their archives for public speakers and topics that run the gamut. They are interesting to watch, especially when looking with a speaker’s eye. Older kids and high schoolers can glean a lot from a TED talk. Things to watch for: the choice and use of visuals, the length, the manner of speaking. YouTube is another place for tons of terrific videos of speakers on any subject you can think of.

To gain public experience, there are opportunities everywhere. Home, church, clubs, nursing homes, teams–there are lots of places to get in some speaking times. Maybe you could head over to the local retirement home or homeless shelter. Or create a video on a topic you enjoy and teach someone something. Create a need and fill it with a speech.

What do you want to talk about? Maybe a poetry reading, an original story or reciting memory work. Almost anything you can think of would make a good topic. Sermons and great speeches from the past are great practice for unsure speakers.

Even speaking at home can be helpful for shy speakers. An audience that is familiar, loving and supportive can go a long way to boosting the confidence of a kid who is apprehensive about public speaking. If it would help, practice with an audience of stuffed animals.

I hope you’ll give your kids many opportunities to speak publicly. It’s a necessary skill that will take them far in life.

Practical application of timelines

This is a guest post by JoAnne Bennett, a dear friend and mentor. She was kind enough to provide the following post and I’m so glad she did.

We will use the time line for the facts which must be memorized for that unit.  As we do an overview to introduce the unit, I emphasize that these are the most important events.  We will add other significant events as they are discovered and discuss their relation to the major events.

We usually draw separate time lines for political events and for spiritual developments during that period of history.  For literature, we will do one for the author’s life time and another for the setting of the story or the main character’s life.

photo courtesy Jon aslund

photo courtesy Jon aslund

The applications for time lines are numerous.  Perhaps the most indispensable is to show relationships between events.  One method is to use parallel time lines on the same page to  show cause and effect.  You can then draw  arrows from one line to the other to dramatize the relationship.  For example, make a line for a Washington’s life and one for the historical events of that time.  Note how the events around the man affected his attitudes and

accomplishments.  If he responded positively, the events could cause him to rise to greatness.  Point out that in every crisis God raises up a man to meet the needs of His people.

Another way to use parallel time lines is to color code specific periods or events.  When we studied the Middle Ages, we designated historic events on the basic time line.  Then we entered the periods of art and architecture as colored parallel lines: Byzantine was blue, Romanesque was red, and Gothic was yellow.  It was easy to see the political turmoil of the fifth and sixth centuries in Europe had a relationship to the simplicity of art and the elaborate adornment of the Gothic developed as prosperity came to the nobility through the feudal system.

Time lines give order and perspective to the events we study.  When we look at the “coon skin cap” and the “whale” stuck to our time line, it would be simple for even small children to reason that the time span is too wide for Jonah together.  Notice also how the important events get closer and closer together until, by the end, labels and pictures will overlap.  God is certainly moving faster as we near the end of  “the days of man.”

Another use of time lines is for periodic review.  No matter what time period we are studying, I will occasionally call for a “pop test” of  U.S. history.  This is based on a time line we did which includes crucial developments such as Columbus in 1492, Pilgrims in 1620, Revolution in 1776, Civil War in 1860′s, World War I & II, etc.  When we hear some news story which compares an event to the Great Depression, I want my children to be able to tie that to something concrete in their minds. Having them draw a time line to recall those facts has been the most efficient use of our time.  It is much faster than writing an essay question or having mother devise a fill-in-the-blanks test — and it is quicker to grade.

GO FORTH AND DRAW TIME LINES
Take the ideas I have presented and personalize them.  Improvise!  Improve!  See how many varieties you can use!  I believe you will agree it is one of the handiest tools in your “teacher’s bag.”

JoAnne Bennett is a seasoned Biblical Principle Approach mom. She has two grown children and three grandchildren, with one more due to arrive in June 2009. Since raising her own children, she teaches and mentors other home educators. Her internalization of Biblical Principles and application of a BPA philosophy makes her an important resource for home educating moms. You can find out more about her at her Web site, Academic Advantages.

My newest school planning helpers

I just love going to my local used home school store. The woman that runs it is a walking home school catalog. Her knowledge of all the different curricula is staggering. And there is where I happen upon most of my home school loves.

My newest favorite resources are these giant, yet unassuming books. They may not sound like a big deal, but they are–at least they should be.

I am in love with all the Teacher’s Book of Lists books (available at Amazon and other online bookstores). They are worth their weight in gold. Yes you can probably find all the information on the Internet, if you took months, and even then you may not find it all. Why put yourself through that? It’s organized and at your fingertips right in this book. For example, some things included in the comprehensive science book are:

  • plant terminology and classification
  • dyeing procedures (from plant sources)
  • animal classification, reproductive and life cycles
  • major terms of the 10 human body systems
  • determining to mole of a compound
  • balancing chemical equations
  • isotopes of chemical equations
  • classification of energy
  • calculating the specific gravity of a mineral
  • codes for weather symbols
  • classification of stars by color and temperature
  • base two
  • checklists for graphing conventions
  • metric conversions
  • professional publications
  • science fair project information and checklists

And that’s just a few of other over 290 lists. In the literature book you can find 247 lists like vocabulary lists for all sorts of writing; lists by theme, genre and author; lists of award winners and books that have been made into movies. You can search by literary period, find a nice list comparing gods and goddesses and even lists of famous characters.

I think you get the point. You will be so glad you have these books on your lesson plan bookshelf. It is saving me so much time looking up things that I need to grab and move on. These book keep me from getting lost in the details, so I can focus on the principles I want to teach. These lists are great for illustrating principles, gleaning ideas for reading lists and essay questions and for just plain fact-gathering and they cover k-12, so there are no other books to buy (always a winner to me!).

If you prefer integrated studies, these are still valuable. You can use them as project starters, essay fodder and just general resource. Because they are broken down by subject you are able to hone in on just the info you need. You can also see who the subjects intertwine. And you can use them to make mini offices for your kids on any subject. If you aren’t convinced by now, you are a hopeless case. Or you  have another easy source for all this information available at the tum of a page. If you’d like to share a favorite resource, please leave a comment. I’m always curious to know what other moms are using in the homeschooling.