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

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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! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 🙂

 

 

An Indiana Summer

One of our favorite things about the summer season is all the fun activities available. From concert series in the park to museums, the options are endless. Here are some of the activities that have been our family’s favorites! 🙂

 

#1. Conner Prairie

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Immerse yourself in a 19th-century village and interact with the people, animals, objects and routines of life in Central Indiana in 1836! After you explore the town check out the Treetop Outpost, Craft Corner, and the Balloon Voyage!  We love that this huge park offers activities for both littles and adults.

 

#2. Town Park Concerts

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Check your town’s website for a list/schedule of concerts. Our local park offers free lawn concerts on the weekends!

 

#3. Farmers Markets

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We LOVE going to farmer’s markets. It’s such a fun way to connect with people, and the food is always amazing. It’s hard to beat fresh Indiana tomatoes!

 

#4. Libraries and Book Stores

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Check your local library or a nearby bookstore. They often have summer reading activities and fun games for kids! It’s a great way to keep littles motivated to read all summer long!

 

#5. Nature Walks

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Print off some simple study guides (guides about insects, trees, etc), and head outdoors to discover a whole new world! Check with your local park to see when their nature days are. They have them often, and are always fun!

 

 

These are just a few of our favorite summer favorites! We’ll be sharing more on our next post! 🙂

What are your favorite summer activities!?

 

 

 

Keeping a Field Journal

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

– Albert Einstein

 

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You’ve got your tent pitched and your fire pit set up-you’re finally at home in the wilderness. But one of the best parts of being in nature is exploring it,  and discovering the plants and animals that call your campsite home, sweet home. Keeping a field journal is a fun way to record what you see or hear while in the great outdoors. In it you can make drawings, describe in detail the plants and animals you come across, and collect leaves and flowers to press and tape right into your book. When you get home, you can gather more information at the library, local wildlife center, botanic garden, or online.

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What you need:

  • Sketchbook
  • Pencil
  • Colored pencils or markers
  • Watercolor set with brushes (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Envelopes for holding any leaf, flower, feather, or other natural treasures that you may find along the trail.

You may find a pair of binoculars to come in handy. They will help you scope out wildlife from a safe distance!

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What You Do:

Get Organized

Before you begin, think about how you want to organize your journal. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Organize by environment. If you camp in areas that have different climates and types of plant and animal life-say the woods one weekend, the desert another- you might want to make sections in your journal for every kind of place you go!
  • Organize by topic. Have an animal section, a plant section, bug section, and rock section. Add new entries to each part according to what you see.
  • Organize by camping trip. Keep a running journal of your trips. Gather your information, make sketches, and record your thoughts by journey.
  • Keep two journals. Make one a free-forum for notes, sketches, and collages of leaves, bark, and feathers. Then keep a second, more polished book where you can categorize the random info from the other book.

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Gather the Essentials

Before each entry, write down the date, time, name of your location, and other information that will provide the what, where, and when.

  • Date. Time of year can play a big part in what you see in the wild. In the autumn, many animals migrate and others are busy gathering food for the winter. Leaves begin to turn colors and fall. This season is great for watching foragers-animals that gather their food and hide it for safe-keeping-such as squirrels and chipmunks. In the spring, many animals search for mates, graze for food, and have babies. Trees begin to bud and flowers bloom. Spring is a great time to look and listen for songbirds. Winter is sort of quiet for some animals, but you’ll see lots of activity in the summertime.
  • Time of day.  Most critters are more active at dawn and dusk (though some, like owls and snakes, are more lively at night). So if you want to spot these animals or insects, plan to get up early or stay up late. Some plants are more active at different times of day as well, like the morning glory,a flowering vine that usually blooms in the morning and closes during the day.
  • Notes on the environment.  Are you exploring a pine forest? Wading in a brook? Sitting on a rock at the oceans edge? Describe where you are and what it looks, sounds, and smells like.
  • What’s the weather?  Is it sunny, snowy, or somewhere in between?

 

Gather Information:

A field journal can document more than just animals-it can include bugs and plant life, too. Here’s a general list of questions to ask yourself.

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Animals

  • Describe the animal. What did it look like? What was its behavior? Did it make a sound? Where did you see it? Was it alone?
  • Did it leave behind any tracks? How many toes were on each foot? Are there claws? What is the shape and size of the toe pads and the heel? What kind of pattern do the tracks make as a group? Sketch the track(s) in your journal, then try to identify them.
  • Identify the animal. Is it a mammal, bird, reptile, or amphibian? When you get home, you may want to research the animal further. Leave space to write your findings. Some questions to consider: Does the male look any different from the female? What kind of home does it live in? What are its feeding habits? How does its body develop or change over its lifetime?

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Insects

  • Carefully collect an insect (for observation only) and describe it. What color is it? Does it have wings? How many legs does it have? How many antennae? Any weird behavior?
  • Identify the insect. Leave room in your journal for answers to these questions (you may need to do some research). Where does the bug live? Does the male look different from the female? Is the insect part of a colony? What is its life cycle?

 

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Plants

  • Choose a plant. Draw it, and if there are any leaves, flowers, branches, or bark  on the ground nearby, paste them in. We love pressing the plants into our journals to make them last longer.
  • Describe the plant. What kind of leaves does it have? How tall is the plant or tree? What is its overall shape? Are there any flowers? If so, what do they look and feel like? What color and texture are the bark or stems? Where does the plant live? Is the soil wet, or dry, dirt or sand? Can you tell how the seeds move around?
  • Identify the plant. Using information you gathered, do some research at home to figure out what kind of plant it is. If you like, leave room in your journal to answer the following questions: What is the life cycle? Does the plant serve as food or shelter for any animal? Does the plant lose its leaves in the fall?

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Keeping a field journal is a little like writing in a diary, except instead of writing about yourself, you write about what you observe all around you. It’s great fun, and provides a wonderful keepsake to remember your trips by! If you aren’t able to get outdoors much this summer, be sure to check out Nature Anatomy! It’s one of our favorite completed nature journals!

 

Road Trips and Conventions!

Traveling/convention season is one of our favorite things about the Spring and Summer. It’s a chance to see new things and meet incredible people! With that being said, it’s hard to believe that our time on the road is half way over. Last week’s show was MASSHOPE, and was held in Massachusetts. It was a fantastic conference, and we’re looking forward to going back next year! This weekend we’re in Arlington, Texas for the THSC homeschool convention. We just finished setting up, and are looking forward to another great weekend! If you’re planning on attending this year, stop by and say hello! 🙂

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