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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our Home Learning: Multi-Sensory Learning

Recently, I posted about foundations of our home learning and one aspect of our learning is making sure it is multi-sensory. This is one of the reasons I really like Oak Meadow.  It is a good fit for all kinds of learners -auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. (Here is a great article about the three different learning styles from Successful Homeschooling.)


For example, in the Oak Meadow grade 4 literature studies, the children read Stuart Little and at the end have a range of choices of how to show that they understood the story, ranging from making a canoe that looks like the one Stuart Little used on his adventures to writing postcards from Stuart Little to his family. Oak Meadow includes multi-sensory learning in the earliest grades as well. My youngest son is working through the first grade syllabus and every few days we read a story then incorporate a letter of the alphabet into a drawing that illustrates the story.  There we have an easy effort for the auditory and visual learner.

Here are two illustrations from Oak Meadow's Fairy Tales.
On the right is an oven with a door in the shape of a "D"
and on the right is a cat in the shape of a "C"

We add our own multi-sensory learning into the mix as well. This can range from learning about the change of seasons through making art to visiting a local Native American Longhouse to instead of just reading about it. This brings me to one of my favorite things about homeschooling: the field trips.  Oh, how I love them.  To see my kids excited about learning while doing is absolutely delightful!

In the near future, I look forward to adding in a new element to our multi-sensory learning: math in cooking. What ways do you encourage multi-sensory learning with your children?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veteran's Day Roundup

As we come upon Veteran's Day, it is an excellent opportunity to teach our children to treasure the freedoms they have and honor those who made it possible.  I have pulled together some of my favorite ways to teach about Veteran's Day. I hope you all have a peaceful day of home learning and harmony.

Make tissue paper poppies

Here are several ways to teach young children about Veteran's Day

This military personnel coloring page makes a cute poster. This site might help you know what colors the uniforms should be.

Here is a lovely song for children to hear about patriotic pride.

short video about the history of Veteran's Day.

Learn about The Poppy Lady who helped make Veteran's Day a holiday in  the USA.

Learn about the Poppy Story in Scotland.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Our Home Learning: Rhythm and Atmosphere

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our transition from using the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling with living books to using Oak Meadow and implementing Charlotte Mason techniques. In this change, I took a closer look at the foundations of our home learning. Two of the most basic foundations that are most essential are the rhythm of our day and week and our atmosphere.

I learned the importance of a daily rhythm early on when my oldest son at age two would ask, "Mama, what are we doing today?" every morning. The more I have read, especially when doing research on Waldorf education, I can see how a daily rhythm, as well as a weekly one, sets our children up for positive learning by providing consistency so vital to keep a relaxed environment.

One of the most effective ways we keep our weekly rhythm is to have a calendar in our "learning room." Both of my sons, ages 6 and 9, can read, so if they ever wonder what is coming up in the next few days or weeks, all they have to do is look on the wall. For our daily rhythm, I refer to my lesson planner and our days pretty much play out the same each week. If there is something special coming up, it goes on our calendar.


We also keep a nature table that begins with a lovely purposeful nature scene that reflects the season. During the next few weeks, it transforms into a gathering of found treasures (feathers, leaves, acorns, pebbles, and the occasional nest) from our walks in the woodlands. (My youngest son becomes so attached to his natural treasures, that now we keep some of them in seasonal boxes. As the season progresses, we clean off the nature table, pull out our seasonal box, and he mingles his beloved treasures from years past with new found fancies.)

When we have cultivated a good rhythm to our days, we are able to focus more on a purposeful atmosphere that encourages organic learning. Oak meadow fits right in to this by often allowing children to pic from a variety of activities based on their interest. Part of our atmosphere is visual, so we provide an enriching learning space which includes:
a big view of the world,
a place to hang their artwork and lovely pictures,
a good collection of living books and ones that spark creative ideas,
learning resources we made ourselves,
and quality school supplies.
Now don't get me wrong, our home has its share of clutter, electronics, plastic toys, and less-than-ideal books, but we are a constant work in progress and growth. 
I have also come to realize that "atmosphere" also includes the unseen, as in the way we treat each other, how we carry ourselves, and what I model for my children. Do they see me on my computer? Yes, and I am mindful that it would be best for them to see me reading or doing hand work. Again a work in progress.  Charlotte Mason, in her book Parents and Children,  put it this way, "The child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives." This leads me to ask myself, how am I showing my children how to love learning? Learning creative thinking. Learning how to reason. Learning enquiry and evaluation. Learning empathy. Learning social skills. 
In the big picture, it all comes down to being purposeful, and keeping in mind the best piece of advice I have received on parenting. It came from my older sister who said, "Remember, you are not only raising sons, you are raising future husbands and fathers." 
Who are you raising?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Something for the Weekend

We are going to enjoy this wonderful Halloween story from Sparkle Stories today!

Next week, I want to make small wool pumpkins.

These felt animal masks are too cute!

Scottish folk music like this song from the Tannahill Weavers is comfort food for my soul as we approach the colder months.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Postcard Geography

I love to travel.  So much so that if I can't go elsewhere, I pour over travel magazines and should my friends travel, they know to be ready to provide a full detailed report when they get back.  My love for travel goes back to my early childhood when we would take road trips from Oklahoma to wherever my parents had the notion. One of these road trips resulted in our big move to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. 

Ever since I can remember, I have collected postcards from my own travels as well as others. I can remember stopping at truck stops and looking at racks of postcards trying to find the one that fit my image of where we were. Some of my most treasured postcards are from my oldest brother who lived in Italy in 1975/76.

I still enjoy postcards and the way they transport me to a different place, so when I found two big wall maps at a yard sale this summer I knew just what we would do with them. Postcard Geography!

One wall of our learning area.
Thanks to social media, I was able to ask friends and family to send postcards from their home and travels, and they have certainly come through. Just yesterday, we received a postcard from a friend who vacationed in Iceland!

As we received each postcard, we used yarn to pinpoint the location on the map with the postcard on the side and we took time to discuss/research the area and culture of each place.  We are having so much fun with it.

If any readers would like to exchange postcards just let me know. Yours would come from Philadelphia :)

In the meantime, we will have fun dreaming about far away places.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Something for the Weekend

For a while now I have gathered a few things that I want to share that just don't seem to fit in a whole blog post, so I decided to start a new series called Something for the Weekend.  Here you will find some of my favorite finds on the internet ranging from parenting to travel to music and whatever else strikes my whimsy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy.

I grew up with horse chestnut trees in our yard. I wish I had known how to play this game of conkers.
Christmas gifts from Etsy are always a favorite. I'm putting this sweet little deer necklace at the top of the list.
 The background noise from Noisli always sets up a soothing mood especially good for the colder season.
We are in love with Imagine Childhood's felt fox mask!
I could listen to Bear McCreary's version of The Sky Boat Song alllllll day.
Images courtesy of The Toymaker

Monday, October 20, 2014

Our New Homeschool Rhythm

Back in July I knew I needed to work more throughout the academic year than in years past. I also knew that my oldest son was ready to do more self-guided learning so I decided to get a computer-based curriculum.  It did not fit in with my attempts at a flowing rhythm nor my love for the Charlotte Mason method, but I really needed to be free of the stress of daily self-planning as my oldest entered fourth grade and my youngest began a mix of kindergarten and first grade and I thought it would be the solution.  I was so wrong.  After only two weeks, we were all bored with the repetition and computer-based learning was not enriching my son's life. The next week we made a big change and began using Oak Meadow, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum. What a difference!

Now into week 4 of using Oak Meadow curriculum, we have found a steady rhythm and managed to implement some Charlotte Mason techniques. (If you recall in previous posts, I wrote about how we used the Charlotte Mason method and implemented Waldorf techniques, so this isn't too much of a stretch from the past two years.)

Over the next several weeks, I will expand on some of the foundations of our learning and how we use Oak Meadow curriculum and some of the foundations of our learning.

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