Unapologetically Mom

Unpolished Parenting from a Straightforward Mom

September 2017 Resource Roundup (Pirate Themed!)

 

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19th so this month’s resource roundup is Pirate Themed!  These resources are free for you to help you catch pirate fever in your homeschool, or just have some fun learning something new with the kids. So raise the Jolly Roger, strap on that eye patch, and have fun checking out these awesome links!

 

Talk Like a Pirate - Today I Found Out

Preschool Pirate Pack - Hey Mommy, Chocolate Milk

Preschool Pirate Pack - Over the Big Moon

Color and Write Pirate Journaling Pages - Ben and Me

 

Color by Sight Word Pirate Activity Pages - A Dab of Glue Will Do

 

Pirate Themed Brain Breaks and Yoga - Pink Oatmeal

 

Most Comprehensive Collection of Pirate and Nautical Information on the Web - The Pirate King

 

Pirate Unit Study - David Tomlin - Scholastic

 

Island Conquer Area & Perimeter Math Game - Corkboard Connections

 

Pirate Literacy - Cassidy’s Kind of Classroom

 

August 2017 Resource Roundup

Okay moms and dads: we all know what time of year it is.  Children are mourning the end of summer vacation or maybe they've already started back to school like mine.  Teachers are meeting their new students at open house night and homeschooling moms are unboxing curriculum and putting holds on library books like they're going to run out.  

 

So whether your kids are headed back to the classroom, or opening their books at the kitchen table, there are numerous resources available to make the most of your school and family time. 

This month I rounded up 10 FREE resources to help make this school year more interesting and fun.

 

First Day of School Printable - Paper Trail Design

In the Kitchen Printable Pack - Proverbial Homemaker

Patriotic Mazes - The Crafty Classroom

Preschool Money Maze - Creative Homeschool

Star Wars Preschool Pack - Creative Homeschool

Learning State Capitals 10 at a Time - Ridgetop Farm and Garden

    Week 1Week 2Week 3Week 4

Star Wars Math: Addition and Multiplication Printable Pack - Royal, Baloo, and Logi-Bear Too!

Dictionary Detectives Worksheets - 123 Homeschool 4 Me

Animal Classification Lapbook - Life of a Homeschool Mom

 My Book Report Poster - Squarehead Teachers

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices for the 2017-2018 School Year

Like many homeschooling parents, I spend hours browsing curriculum websites, reviews, and discussing different learning styles and teaching styles with my fellow homeschoolers. I’m always interested in hearing what other families are using or trying out for the first time.

In our homeschool, we lean towards a mostly traditional education with a lot of wiggle room. Having a lesson by lesson workbook works well for my daughter when it comes to language, math, and spelling; but when it comes to history and science, she found textbooks and workbooks to be frustrating and tedious. A few years ago someone suggested I look into lap booking and living books for those subjects. It took some time and research, but we have managed to find a good balance of reading, researching, and building lap books, combined with experiments, projects, and field trips that keep her engaged in learning without feeling monotonous.

 

Here are our curriculum choices for the 2017-2018 4th grade school year:

 

For Language Arts, we are using ABeka Language A. We've been using ABeka since Kindergarten and I really like their phonics based approach to language.

 

I decided to make a change for Spelling this year so we are giving Spelling Workout a shot. Spelling is probably my daughter's least favorite subject so we also subscribed to SpellingCity.com for extra practice that is a bit more fun.

We no longer do daily cursive writing practice because she already writes cursive consistently, but we do have occasional practice, usually in the form of copy work that I print based on what we are working on in other subjects or to focus on a letter that I notice her having trouble on.

 

 

 

My daughter really enjoyed using reading units from Confessions of a Homeschooler last year, and I’ve decided to keep going with those for this year as well. They are well laid out and easy for us to stay on track with.

 

 

 

 

 We are giving Teaching Textbooks a go this year. I love that the program both teaches the lessons and keeps track of the grades for me. One less thing for me to do, and she get's some time learning from someone who isn't her mom.

 

 I decided to go with Story of the World for our history this year. I was able to get the Volume 1 set with activity pages and audio book from another homeschool mom and save a bit of money. I like the story format and the list of projects for each chapter give me plenty of options to keep things interesting.

 

 For Science, we have fun with lap books, living books, and experiments. I haven't decided what we will study first this year since we are doing history for the first 9 weeks, but we will have a lot of focus on how to research and find information, as well as how to present it in both written and oral projects.

 

 

 

I do teach Bible in our homeschool, though I don't use a formal curriculum. I stick with reading Bible stories and having a weekly memory verse. I've found a great free resource at Calvary Curriculum: coloring sheets, worksheets, and puzzles. And of course, Pinterest is full of free resources that I dip into often.

 

 

 

Every homeschool is different, and ours even changes from year to year as we find new things that work or don't work.  I would love to hear what your plans are for the school year. Drop me a comment or if you have any questions about any of our curriculum and I'll do my best to answer!

4 Reasons to Teach Cursive When We're Surrounded by Computers

 

Whether or not children should be taught to write in cursive has become a hot debate topic in the last several years. Public schools have primarily done away with teaching it, as well as many private schools.  So why are so many parents pushing this issue in today’s world of computers and smartphones?

When I first began homeschooling my daughter in kindergarten, I knew I was NOT going to teach her cursive.  The curriculum I ordered was written with the assumption that you would teach cursive first. If you wanted manuscript writing work, you would have to order it separate from the basic curriculum.  I ordered it.  We live in the computer age and I type everything anyway.  I figured she should need typing lessons before we would ever consider something as useless as cursive.

Halfway through the year, though, my daughter asked if she could try writing the letters that she saw in my teacher’s manual.  That really shocked me.  Handwriting practice was one of her most frustrating tasks.  She would cry, fight, or argue every time I handed her a worksheet to complete.  Then suddenly she showed an interest in writing!  Well, I wasn’t about to argue with that.   So I searched the internet for cursive worksheets and came across some that worked for her.  I started giving them to her the next day and the results were immediate.  We went from constant complaining to her carefully practicing the letters.

I won’t mislead you: there were still days when we had to fight to get through handwriting, but no more than any other subject.  My daughter’s handwriting improved much faster after that.  I was shocked that just changing the type of letter she was copying would make such a difference in both her writing skill and her ability to focus on the task.  So I began to do a bit of research into cursive writing and was impressed by what I found.  

 

There are so many positive reasons to learn cursive.  Here are four reasons I decided to continue teaching cursive.

 

1.  When you write things down, you are more likely to remember them.  I remember my mom telling me this so many times as a child.  I thought she was just nagging, but, as usual, she was right.  Cursive or a combination of cursive and print makes for smoother, and thus faster writing, so taking notes and completing work can be done faster and more easily committed to memory.

We really saw the effect of this earlier this year.  After trying many ways to convince my daughter that she does need to know how to spell, I decided to try letting her practice her spelling words using an online video game service.  When I added the games to her normal spelling work, her grades improved and she seemed to have an easier time learning her words.  So I decided to just make her write her spelling words once and the rest of her practice could be in video game form.

Much to my surprise, her grades started to decline.  She would become frustrated and had more trouble remembering what had studied.  After a few lower test scores, I told her that we would try writing the words every day and just use the games as extra practice.  Wanting to see her scores improve, she agreed and the very first week, her spelling test was almost perfect.  She was so pleased with the result that she no longer argues the value of writing things down.

Science has proven that notes taken by hand as opposed to being typed are better remembered.  In three studies done by Mueller and Oppenheimer, they found that students who took notes by hand performed better when answering conceptual questions than those who took notes on a laptop because they were able to process the information and rewrite it in their own words.

2.  I want my children to be able to read cursive.  From old letters to historical documents, being able to read what has been written in the past is very important.  One person made the point to me that we don’t need to worry about reading cursive on old documents because it is all on the internet.  I do wonder, though, if anyone would notice any changes made to those documents online.  If all we have is the transcribed information on a platform that can be edited at will, should we give up the ability to examine that information for ourselves in its original form?  

We could say the same about the study of Latin or Hebrew or Greek.  Why should anyone bother learning an antiquated language when we can just read what someone else put on the internet.  And yet we still have scholars who spend their energy learning these languages so that we can have accurate translations of history.

3.  Cursive is a form of art. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no calligrapher and I don’t teach the really frilly cursive.  I have
noticed, though, as my daughter matures, the simple cursive that I taught her matures as well and is developing into her own unique hand.  I still encourage handwriting practice, but she has been writing long enough that I don’t enforce it regularly.  From time to time she will add an extra curl to a letter or extend the tail at the end of a word more dramatically.  She feels proud when she does it, and I try to compliment her whenever I see it.  

I have heard it argued that most adults don’t use the cursive they learned as children, so why should we bother teaching it to our own?  Truthfully, many adults don’t use either print or cursive alone.  Many, including myself, use a mixed style of letters that make for smoother and faster writing.  Teaching how letters can be connected smoothly makes for easier note taking, and allows each person to develop their own personal script.

4.  Writing in cursive utilizes a different part of the brain than manuscript writing.  It has even been found that people who suffer a brain injury can forget one type of writing but will still remember the other.  And though I don’t think we should teach it in a case of future brain damage, it is good to use more areas of the brain while learning.  This is the same reason that different methods for solving a math problem are introduced; the reason that we ask children to not only write spelling words but say them and practice them in games.  The more ways we use our senses to learn, the better our minds will retain the information.

 

As parents, we are charged with providing our children the best education possible.  Whether we homeschool, send our children to public schools, or private schools, we should consider the many benefits of teaching cursive.  We shouldn’t try to phase it out as an antiquated form of writing, but encourage our children to study it as a tool for learning, an art form, and a window into our history.

 

Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.  Do you encourage cursive writing or should it be phased out in favor of the keyboard?




10 Tips to Encourage Your Reluctant Reader to Read for Fun

 

Few things are more frustrating for parents than trying to encourage their children to read when when they show little interest. Watching a movie or playing a video game is often a much more appealing form of entertainment.  Educators and parents alike know that children with good reading habits often do better in school and as adults.  But in a world full of digital media at their fingertips, what can we as parents do to develop our kids into willing readers?

As a person who loves to read, I always imagined that my daughter would automatically love books and reading as much as I do.  I envisioned us curled up on the couch together, wrapped up in fuzzy afghans, engrossed in our own books just like I did with my mom.  But that didn’t happen.  My daughter doesn’t mind a good story, but getting her to take the time to sit through more than half a page was a constant battle.  She would read whatever she had to for school, but reading for fun, as she would say, just isn’t her thing.

Though sometimes I feel discouraged in my crusade for a willing, even excited reader, I refuse to throw in the towel.  It’s all worth it, though, for the few times I hear, “just one more page, Mom.”

Here are 10 helpful tips to encourage your child to read for fun:

 

  1. Choose a book in which the topic or story particularly interests your child, even if it seems silly or mind-numbing to you.  If she has a favorite tv show, perhaps a comic or novel based on the show would grab their interest.
  2. Choose a book to read together.  This could be a chapter book, or just a story.  Read to them, or takes turns reading with them.  Give a shot at making voices for the characters and don’t be afraid to really read with expression.  Even if you feel silly, if your children enjoys the experience, they are more likely to be happy repeating it.
  3. Listen to an audio-book.  Encourage your child to follow along in their own copy with the narrator, or even just put the book on while she is doing chores or during quiet time.  There are many websites you can download audio-books from, but I suggest checking out your local library.  Many libraries have a good collection of books on CD, or even free downloadable audio-books on their websites.
  4. Let your kids see YOU read.  This is one of the most crucial points I can stress. Children learn by example, and if you don’t have time to crack open a book, why should they?
  5. Determine a set amount of time for reading each day.  Start with an amount of time you know will work for your child; 5 minutes every day or 10 minutes every other day.  Start with something short and adjust to what works best for your child.  Eventually a 20 minute reading time will fly by.
  6. Take regular trips to your local library.  Encourage your kids to talk to the librarians and tell them about what they want to read.  The librarian may know just where to direct you to find something that will grab their interest.  You can also browse the library online and reserve a book.  Just as exciting as getting a package in the mail, picking up that book they have been anticipating is not just a good excuse to go to the library, but it can make the trip something to really look forward to.
  7. Have a movie night! Wait, a movie? You’re trying to get them to read not watch more TV.  But hear me out.  Schedule a movie night based on the book they are reading.  Once they finish the book, watching the movie together is a fun way to wrap up their experience.  Make a night of it, popcorn and all.  And when the movie is over (if they can wait that long), talk about the differences between the book and the movie, and which version was more enjoyable.
  8. Read more than one book at a time.  It’s okay to let them read one book as schoolwork, another during their quiet reading time, and another as a family read-aloud or audio-book.  More stories are just more fuel for the imagination and will spark their interest in finishing each story.
  9. Offer a long term incentive.  Many schools participate in the Book It! Program, which offers prizes for a certain amount of books read.  This is a great way to encourage a bit of extra reading.  Book It! has a program for homeschooling families as well.  An alternative option is to have a reading log to keep track of each    book they have completed.  When the log is full, or when your child reaches a certain number of books read, they earn a prize.  Offer different options such as going out for pizza or to the arcade, skating, or bowling; as long as they feel it is worth the time they have invested in it, a bit of bribery motivation goes a long way.
  10. Encourage your child to read to someone who cannot.  This could be a younger sibling, an elderly person, or even a calm family pet. Some children just need someone who will listen to them without commenting when they mispronounce a word or talk over them if they stutter.  This is a great way to build their confidence in reading.

 

It goes without saying, of course, that along with these suggestions, we as parents need to make sure to praise our kid’s accomplishments.  If your son can only sit still for five minutes to read, let him know you appreciate his efforts.  We don’t have to rain candy and presents on our kids for every little thing, but when a goal, even a small one, is achieved, make sure to acknowledge it.

We all want our children to be well-developed readers who grow to be well-read adults. Whether your goal is to curl up on the couch together with your books, or just the knowledge that their mind is growing as strong as their body, I know with a bit of diligence you will reach your goal.  

What are some tricks that you have used to encourage reading in your home?