How Fiction Helps Children Grow!

My youngest has been traveling to conventions with us over the past few months. Amid the different locations and changing venues, she has held tightly to one constant: on every trip she brings a classic children’s literature book. These books are her old friends: Little House in the Big Woods; Charlotte’s Web; Winnie-the-Pooh; Farmer Boy;…

via How Fiction Helps Children Grow — Simply Charlotte Mason

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Charlotte Mason Math (aka Board Game Math) — Homeschool Unleashed!

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling has been using the Sonlight book lists for English and Social Studies. Snuggled together on the couch, or lying on a picnic blanket, my kids and I have traveled to distant lands and learned about foreign cultures, traveled back in time and been immersed in history, and heard […]

via Charlotte Mason Math (aka Board Game Math) — Homeschool Unleashed

Favorite Activities to Inspire Imaginations in Children

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.”

Being a creative adult doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a painter or sculptor. CEO’s and political leaders, too, benefit from being creative, which lets them see things in new ways and find solutions to problems others might miss. That kind of problem-solving and innovative thinking begins with the power of imagination.
So how do we inspire this power in our children? These fun activities are a good place to start!

 

#1. Tell Stories

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Reading to your kids isn’t about having a perfectly illustrated book, and the serene setting. It’s about the one-on-one connection, the parent and the child, with the story mediating. Storytelling may well be the cornerstone of imagination development, and doing it well, and in a variety of ways is something you can do almost every day-even if it’s only in brief moments.

 

#2. Make Art

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Paint, draw, mold, build, sculpt. Tactile experiences are important, and giving young children free rein over their work is crucial–let them create freely!

 

#3. Use Natural Materials

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Keeping kids in touch with objects from nature inherently inspires their imagination. So does play with open-ended toys  — such as blocks or sand  — that have endless possibilities!

 

#4. Puppets

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Gather a box of assorted household items  — a strainer, a shoe box, paper cups, a flashlight, whatever you can think of that’s not sharp or fragile  — and have your child create a puppet show using these objects as the “puppets.” You’ll be amazed at the creatures and characters your child creates.

 

#5. Wacky Photos

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Gather some old photographs that no one will miss (or cut out some pictures from old books)  –and let your child cut them into various bits and pieces. Then get out some glue, construction paper, and markers and have them create new scenes. You might suggest a general setting such as outer space or a medieval castle, then let your child create the image.

 

#6. Nature Story

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Take a paper bag and go on a walk with your child. Try to collect at least 10 nature objects, no more than one of each thing (only one leaf, and so forth). When you get home, have your child make a story from the objects by reaching in the bag and pulling out items one by one for inspiration.  We love seeing our children come up with some incredible stories by using just a few simple items! 🙂

 

#7. Playing With Boxes And Cartons

 

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Whether it be a huge cardboard box or a simple egg carton, the creative possibilities are endless! Here is a tip if you don’t know where to get those huge boxes: find a local appliance store, or buy a large, wardrobe-sized box from a moving-supply store! Set the box up in an open area in your house and let your child decide what he wants it to be  — a house, a cave, a time capsule. Provide heavy-duty markers for decoration and let your child’s imagination go to work!

 

 

#8. Make Some Paper Creatures

 

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Start by folding a piece of paper, and then pass it along to the next person. It can be quite entertaining to see what kind of  creature or object a child can create!

 

 

#9. Art Tales

 

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Go to an art museum  — a small, local one is fine  — and slow down for a change. Stand in the middle of an exhibit room and have your child decide from a distance which picture he likes best. Then walk up to it and look at it closely. Ask your child to tell a story about what he sees. Encourage him with open-ended questions. Find another painting and have your child create a story that connects it with the last one!

 

 

#10.Junk Drawer Game

 

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Okay, everyone has a junk drawer (or two or three in our case). It could be one of those spare drawers in the kitchen or the top desk drawer in your child’s room. Have your child go through one drawer and pick out a dozen of the oddest, most lost-looking small objects he can find  — the less anyone knows what the things originally came from and what they were for, the better. Get a big sheet of cardboard or poster board, some markers, and some dice, and have your child invent a game using all the found pieces. Then sit down and play together. Who knows? You may invent an award winning game while you’re at it! 😉

 

 

Extra idea: Brush-less Painting

 

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Anyone can paint with a brush. For this activity, find things around the house that your child can paint with that aren’t brushes. String will work, or odd bits of sponge, broken pencils, rubber bands, strips of yarn or fabric, apples cut in half, or even a discarded action figure or doll. Spread some newspaper on a table or the floor, lay some washable paint out in small bowls or plates, give your child a large sheet of paper (at least 18 by 24 inches), and see what develops. Our littles loves going outside to gather twigs and pine needles to make nature prints. They turned out beautifully!

 

 

Do you have an idea that inspires imagination?! Share below! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power Of Outdoor Free Play

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Unfortunately, the amount of time that children spend engaged in unstructured, child-directed outdoor play has diminished significantly in the past generation. Schools have opted out of recess and play time in favor of a more structured academic period. As many years of research has shown, that it causing more harm than good. Here are some of the amazing benefits that come with outdoor free play!

 

Cognitive Health

 

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Playing outdoors gives children the opportunity to make decisions and problem solve, it provides an environment for creative thinking, and makes children use a higher level of sequence, planning, and organizing.

 

Physical Health

 

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Outdoor play provides more opportunity for movement which in turn greatly decreases the likelihood of developing of developing obesity and disease. It also magnifies the use of fine and gross motor skills!

Mental health

 

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Overall, children who are active outdoors have much better moods, have a decrease in hyperactivity, and are less likely to have symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

Emotional Health

 

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The development in empathy, an increase in self-esteem, and the development of emotional intelligence is all part of getting outdoors to play! 🙂

Social Skills

 

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Research has also shown that playing outdoors provides increased social interactions, higher levels of sharing, cooperating, and helping!

Play Skills

 

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Play skills help develop creativity, and provide endless opportunities for imagination and engagement! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, Math Can Be Fun!

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Math. It’s  one of those subjects that can be just as challenging to teach as it is to comprehend. Which is why we love using math manipulatives! Students learn better when they’re actively engaged, and manipulatives in your home or classroom make it easy for kids to get excited. Below are our favorite ways to use math manipulatives in our home, and they are all kid approved! 🙂

 

#1. Fraction Bars

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Use these pieces to reinforce understanding of equivalent fractions. It’s great to have an item that kids can use to visually help them learn fractions!

 

#2. Fraction Circles

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The common “pie” fraction circles have always been a hit in our house!

 

#3. Linking Cubes

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The creative possibilities are endless with these cubes. Designed to be virtually unbreakable, these blocks will easily meet the rigors of the classroom.

 

#4. Albert’s Insomnia  

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The more you play the more like Albert you will become! WARNING: DON’T GET ADDICTED OR YOU WILL LOSE SLEEP! This easy to learn math card game is fun and challenging. Beginning with the number ‘1’ as the first answer, you’ll be using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division to combine the randomly displayed four cards into the next number in the sequence, so using the operations, the only answer for the next player is “2”. Sometimes you’ll fl y through the sequence with ease. Other times you’ll literally sit and stew over the cards hoping to expose a combination that produces the needed number. We love this game! It encourages creative and critical thinking. It’s an absolute favorite around here!! 🙂

 

#5. Bear Counters 

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Our kids love these! Perfect for beginning math.

 

#6. Wiz Dice

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Teach place value. “Give each student a handful of dice and have them roll. Then have them randomly arrange the numbers they rolled on their desk. Have them write down which number is in the hundreds place, tens place, ones place and so on. It’s a simple activity, but it’s lots of fun.” —Karen Crawford, second grade, Houston, Texas

 

#7. Learning Placemats 

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Whether you’re at the dinner table, or on the go, these dry erase charts are a must! The backs of them are blank, so you can fill in the answers for plenty of multiplication practice!

 

#8. Geoboards 

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Can be used for creating geometric shapes, showing fractions of a shape, etc.

 

#9. Tangrams 

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Help children explore shape, size, symmetry and more!

 

#10. Color Counters

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Great counting discs for all kinds of math problems!! 

 

 

What about you? Do you have a favorite math manipulative or game you like to use? If so, leave us a comment below! 🙂

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Charlotte Mason’s Approach to Beginning Reading

Teaching a child to read can be an overwhelming task, because so much of education depends on reading. However, the better a child can read, the easier his schooling will be. Children will pick up reading quite naturally if raised in a language-rich environment where books are treasured and read aloud. Many people who grow up in such an environment cannot recall exactly how they learned to read, but they learned quickly!

So relax and take a look at Charlotte Mason’s gentle and natural approach to teaching your child to read.

  1. Make a game of putting together the words in word families.
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“Exercises treated as a game, which yet to teach the powers of letters, will be better to begin with than actual sentences. Take up two of his letters and make the syllable ‘at’: tell him it is the word we use when we say ‘at home,’ ‘at school,’ etc. ” (Vol. 1 p. 202)

 

2. Use actual words and let the child say and make each one with its initial consonant added.

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“First, let the child say what the word becomes with each initial consonant; then let him add the right consonant to ‘at,’ in order to make hat, pat, cat, etc. Let the syllables all be actual words which he knows. Set the words in a row, and let him read them off.” (Vol. 1, p. 202)

 

#3. Continue the process with other short-vowel three-letter words.

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“Do this with the short vowel sounds in each combination with each of the consonants, and the child will learn to read off dozens of words of three letters, and will master the short-vowel sounds with initial and final consonants without effort. Before long he will do the lesson for himself. ‘How many words can you make with “en” and another letter, with “od” and another letter?’ etc.” (Vol. 1 p. 202).

 

#4. Do not hurry your child.

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(Vol. 1, p. 202)

 

#5. After he has mastered short-vowel three-letter words, teach the silent-e that makes a long vowel in the word in the same way.

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“When this sort of exercies becomes so easy that it is no longer interesting, let the long sounds of the vowels be learned in the same way: use the same syllables as before with a final e; thus ‘at’ becomes ‘ate’, and we get late, pate, rate, etc.  (Vol. 1, pp. 202, 203).

 

#6. Continue the process with consonant combinations, like “ng” and “th.”

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“Then the same sort of thing with final ‘ng’-‘ing,’ ‘ang,’ ‘ong,’ ‘ung’;  as in ring, fang, long, sung, etc.  There will be endless combinations which will suggest themselves” (Vol. 1, p 203).

 

#7. These word games are not reading, but they will lay the foundation for future reading lessons.

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“This is not reading, but it is preparing the ground for reading; words will be no longer unfamiliar, perplexing objects, when the child meets with them in a line of print” (Vol. 1, p. 203).

 

#8. Encourage your child to pronounce correctly any word that he learns.

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“Require him to pronounce the words he makes with such finish and distinctness that he can himself hear and count the sounds in a given word” (Vol. 1, p. 203).

 

#9. Encourage him to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made, thus preparing him for future spelling lessons.

 

 

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“Accustom him from the start to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made. This is important. Reading is not spelling, nor is it necessary to spell in order to read well; but the good speller is the child whose eye is quick enough to take in the letters which compose it, in the act of reading off a word; and this is a habit to be acquired from the first: accustom him to see the letters in the word, and he will do so without effort.”

 

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Old Trees, New Life- Camping Activity

When a tree falls, its life is over. But the tree can still give life to others. The dead tree becomes its own ecosystem, where plants, insects, and microorganisms thrive-from the mosses, ferns, and fungi that make the rotting tree their home to a whole host of bugs and bacteria that eat the tree and break it down into soil for new plants! Next time you see a dead log, take a close look and record your observations in your Field Journal. You just might be amazed by what you see.

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What You Do

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#1. Find a rotting log: Look for a tree that has fallen and that has wood breaking apart in pieces. It may be slightly damp.

 

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#2. Describe what the log looks like. What is growing on it? Can you see any mushrooms, ferns, mosses, or lichens? Are there baby trees or any other plants sprouting out of the wood?

 

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#3. Do you see any insects? What are they doing? Look for tiny piles of sawdust at the base of the log. This is evidence that insects have drilled into the wood, starting the decomposition process. The holes left behind create highways for fungi and bacteria to come in and break down the wood even further.

 

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#4.  Tap the log with your fingers. Is it hollow? Wet? Bone-dry? What does it smell like?

 

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#5. Put on your gloves and gently and carefully lift the log a few inches to see if you can take a peek underneath. What do you see? Are there insects underneath? What are they doing? What do they look like? When you’re done, put the log back.

 

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#6.  Use your magnifying glass to peek at the log itself. Do you see insects breaking it down? What do they look like under the magnifying glass? What about the plants growing on the tree? What do the mushrooms look like up close?

 

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#7. Draw and describe what you’ve seen in your field journal. Try to identify plants, animals, and insects by looking at your field guide or Nature Anatomy book! 

 

There is so much to learn! Head outdoors and explore! 🙂