Saturday, June 25, 2011

Discipling Kids in the Bible

We are loving this Truth and Grace Memory book for discipling our children.  This particular book is for ages 2 - 4th grade, but there are sequels that covers 5th - 8th and 9th - 12th.  It breaks down what each age group should know: scripture memory verses, hymns, and catechism questions.

We have begun working on it diligently with our children and it has led to some great discussions and some great time of worship as we sing hymns together.

My husband and I had taught from this book at a Wednesday night kids program at our former church (back when our oldest child was a baby).  This book works great as both a curriculum in a church setting as well as just family discipleship.

I like the structure of it because it gives us a concrete goal of what to memorize in Scripture and forces us to talk about spiritual truths.  Some example of spiritual truths taught in the catechism:  Who made you?  They respond, "God made me."   What else did God make?  "all things."  It progresses into questions about man's fall, God's character and nature, etc.

Scripture memory includes (at differing age levels) John 3:16, the Lord's prayer, the Ten Commandments and Psalm 23.  Hymns include "Jesus Loves Me," "Holy, Holy, Holy" and the Doxology.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mad Libs

One great way to teach language arts skills is to use Mad Libs.  My daughter became interested in trying to write words and wanted to know how to spell them.  She did not want to practice reading but she loved practicing her writing skills.  That is how we began using Mad Libs.

 I found several websites that have printable stories with fill in the blank spots but I have also created my own.  I particularly like these mad libs at classroomjr: Printable Mad Libs

Mad Libs is fun and silly but is so versatile and useful as a teaching tool.  We used it to practice handwriting, spelling, parts of speech, creativity, story telling and reading.  So it can be used for a varying range of ages and skills - nonreaders can still interject words and be a part of the story telling, and older children can independently write in words, understanding the parts of speech and can then read the stories themselves.  They can be challenged to make up their own stories for others to fill in.

These mad libs became a favorite part of our school time for two months.  From it, my daughter gained an interest in reading short stories and she learned to spell some simple words to interject into stories.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homeschool Journal

Well, I got out of the habit of blogging when the craziness of the holidays hit, but fortunately I began a new habit at the first of the year - a homeschool journal.

I have a notebook where I keep to do lists and planning ideas.  I added a spiral notebook where I have been journaling progress on all my girls.  I don't write in it everyday (I'm not that organized or structured), but I write in it about twice a month - writing goals I have for my children, activities we have accomplished, ideas for future activities or studies, etc.  I am only writing 1-2 pages a month so it is easy to look at our progress over a few months. 

It's a simple way to document what we are doing for school.  The state of Texas does not require much as far as homeschool records, but I think its important to document our accomplishments and goals.  A month overview works nicely for now because so much of what we do is repetitive - like taking a full week or two to learn a Bible verse and do theme activities that go along with it.

I am documenting character traits/habits that we are working on, as well as life skills we are learning - sewing, chores, piano, physical activity.  I might list out new games we have tried and liked or books we have read or social activities we have been a part of.

I used to do so much from memory, but I am now finding it helpful to write down my ideas, our progress, what the kids have really learned from and enjoyed.  It's great to be able to look back at all that.  I easily forget things I would have thought I would have remembered - like my child's first word and how old they were at certain milestones.  Now I can document when they have mastered a certain skill.  I can also look at activities that the kids thrived on - like our math blocks game or doing mad libs or certain websites that we had found helpful in the past.

And the added bonus from this homeschool journal is that I have five months of topics documented that I can blog about.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Math Learning Game

Have fun with this hands on math learning game!

Here are the items you need to begin for a two player game:
  1. 1 dice 
  2. 10 sticks of 10 blocks.  (I have two of the sticks broken apart into "ones" while the other 8 sticks are "tens.")

Players take turns rolling the dice and taking that number of blocks from their "ones" pile.  Since there are only ten "ones," players must trade in ten "ones" to receive a ten stick.  The first player to have five "tens" sticks (that is 50 blocks) wins.

So, for example, player one rolls six.  He takes six blocks.

On his next turn, he rolls a five.  He takes four ones - that equals ten.  So he trades in all ten "ones" for a ten stick of his color choice.  But he still needs one more block.

He now has one ten and one one, totaling eleven. 

In playing this game, kids learn about tens and ones, simple addition and they learn to relate facts such as 5 + 6 = 5 + 5 + 1 = 10 + 1.  This hands on approach to math teaches place value and mental addition that will aid in calculating higher numbers.

They can see that 9 + 2 = 11 and 19 + 2 = 21 and relate those facts mentally, in a fun way.  My children love to play this game and I have found they are learning math facts and concepts way faster than through quizzes, flashcards or worksheets.

The game can be modified to more players, especially if there are more blocks than 100.  Also, the game could go to a more challenging level with more dice involved.  However, we are enjoying our simple version for now.