Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun!

Are you looking for some Thanksgiving ideas for this week? I found a free download called Thanksgiving Helper at www.currclick.com There are also some free downloads for Thanksgiving at www.abcteach.com as well as www.enchantedlearning.com I also enjoy finding craft ideas at www.crayola.com

Some of my favorite memories from childhood Thanksgivings include things like making an outline of my hand, and then adding a beak to the thumb and bird feet underneath, then coloring the whole thing to look like a turkey. Did any of you ever do that?

How many of you did a play of the first Thanksgiving? I was the oldest child and my younger brothers got bossed into being a pilgrim or indian or whatever big sister told them to do. We made great hats out of construction paper! (I used to think you could make anything out of construction paper, crayons and tape...oh wait, maybe I still think that!)

Did any of you ever make a paper chain where each link had something written on it that you were thankful for? That was fun too. Then there was the red and green paper chain with 25 links, one to tear off each day in December...but I am getting ahead of myself!

What fun things did you do as a child or do you do with your own kids for Thanksgiving. Add a coment and tell us all about it. And remember, be thankful!

P.S. If you want to check out some free home school curriculum, www.currclick.com has a special this Friday (along with everyone else!) They are offering some things free that day. The good thing is, you won't have to go out in the cold at 4:30am to look. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Are you challenging your children?

Did you know that the study of human psychology and the brain shows that we all learn best with moderate challenge? When a task is too difficult, we shut down into a self-protection mode and quit thinking or problem solving. Conversely, a simple task also suppresses a learner's thinking. When we are not challenged, we also shut down and quit thinking.

A task or lesson is appropriate when a learner has to take a leap into the unknown, but has enough background information to reach a new level of understanding.

I think more often we err on the side of not challenging children enough. As adults, we have a tendency to underestimate what they are capable of. Try giving your child a little extra challenge and see what happens. Answer his questions with questions that make him think in a different way. You may be surprised at what happens.

One way to give your kids an extra challenge is to ditch the worksheets and have them take what they have learned and create a product that reflects their learning. Maybe she could create a board game, make a sculpture, or write a tall tale. How about a cartoon, a scale drawing or a map. She could write a play, give a sales pitch to you or create a pamphlet, diorama, graph or puppet show. The sky is the limit, and when you go through the process of creating a product, you learn so much more!

What fun ways have you and your children gone a little deeper in learning? Feel free to add a comment with your great idea!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Project for the Birds

I just read about something that might interest you.

Looking for a new unit study to share with your
families? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has just
released its new Homeschooler’s Guide to
Project FeederWatch. This free study guide
includes activity ideas in all of the subject areas.
You can use the guide as a stand-alone resource,
or pay a small subscription fee to sign up for
Project FeederWatch. Those who subscribe can
submit their findings online and add to the body
of scientific knowledge in the study of
To download the free Homeschooler’s Guide to
Project FeederWatch, visit
www.feederwatch.org, and click on the
‘Education / Home School’ button.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spelling Ideas

Over the past few years, I have had a lot of requests from moms for help with spelling curriculum. This seems to be a common frustration for home school moms. What have you used that was effective? Do you know of any great programs or websites that would be a good resource for other moms?

One thing I like to do with kids for spelling practice involves a cheap can of shaving cream. Put a mess of shaving cream on a baking sheet, cutting board, or even on the wall of the bathtub. Then, have your child spell words into the shaving cream. This is especially great for tactile-kinesthetic learners, but also great fun for any kind of learner! It's a visual activity, and if you have the child spell the word aloud as they write it, it becomes an auditory exercise as well.

If you are not sure which kind of learner your child is, have him or her take a learning styles inventory. Some sites are listed to the left.

What other ideas do you have?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Student Interviews

As promised, I have interviewed several home school students. Here is what they had to say!

Linda: Hannah, you just moved here from another state. How does ITBS compare to other standardized tests you have taken?

Hannah: Well, in the other test we only had a separate answer sheet for science. The reading and language and spelling were all part of one test.

Linda: What are you reading today?

The Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick Riordan, for the 5th time!

Linda: Alexis, you have been taking this test for quite a few years, what advice would you give to the younger students?

Alexis: Don't get nervous, or you won't be able to sleep. Relax. Bring suduko puzzles to keep your mind busy when you are done with a test.

Linda: Do you have a favorite subject?

Alexis: Yes, math.

L: What are you reading this week?

Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It's ok, but hard to read. Definitely don't try reading it right before you go to bed! It has a lot of difficult words.

L: Caleb, what do you enjoy the most and the least about ITBS week?

Caleb: Best is spelling and worst is punctuation. (Seems many children don't like punctuation, at least in our group!)

L: What are you reading?

The Happy Hollisters

L: Mitchell, which test do you think is the hardest?

Mitchell: Spelling

L: What will you do this afternoon?

Mitchell: Go home and take a nap.

L: Are you reading a good book?

The Rise of the Wyrm Lord by Wayne Thomas Betson. It is part of a series and I think the author was inspired by C. S. Lewis. (Mitchell is using a dollar bill as a bookmark this week!)

Here are some other books that students are reading this week:
  • Nick; The Gentleman Outlaw and Me
  • Josiah; Left Behind (kids series)
  • Christian; listening to the audio book, In Freedom's Cause, by G. A. Henty
  • Tiffany; Encyclopeia Brown, by Donald J. Sobol
  • Heather; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis

Monday, November 10, 2008

ITBS Testing

Eager (?) students gathered at 9:00 am sharp, armed with newly sharpened #2 pencils and extra reading materials to start the annual pilgrimage through the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. We will test today (Monday) through Wednesday from 9:00 am to noon. As always, break time for snacks seemed to be the highlight of the morning for the students.
Today we took the reading and language arts portions of the test. Tomorrow we will be taking the math portions and Wednesday will cover Social Studies, Science and Sources of Information. Thursday will be available for make up testing.
Tomorrow I will interview a couple of test takers to see what they think about this process and what they are reading during the breaks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

Today some of the kids and I got together over the noon hour to pack some boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Wow! Our families are so generous! We packed nine boxes full of gifts to children in third world countries and had things left over. We had everything from soap and toothbrushes to toys, dolls, crayons and hard candy. The kids worked in pairs and wrote letters to include in the boxes.
Since 1992, Operation Christmas Child has distributed over 61 million boxes to children around the globe.
Watch out, because this sneaky group of kids has planned some more random acts of kindness for the month of December.

Mysterious Year at Home School Connection

Atlantic HSAP students are enjoying mysteries this year. In addition to reading some great mysteries, this fall students have written “Hometown Mysteries” based on actual places in our community. The finished stories take place at the library, parks, an old school, the theatre, and even on the football field. Some of our stories are posted on our web page. You can find a link to class web sites at www.atlantic.k12.ia.us Click on Atlantic Home School Connection.
We have also been busy solving The Great Chocolate Caper, a mystery that teaches logic, by Mary Ann Carr and The Eleventh Hour, by Graeme Base. With both stories, we have had fun cracking codes and using matrix puzzles to sort out clues!

What's it all about?

Welcome to the official blog spot for the Atlantic Home School Assistance Program! I would like to use this format to share news from our program, keep you updated on issues in home schooling and share neat ideas and resources for teaching. I may interview some students or parents.If there are any topics you would like to see me address, please let me know! I look forward to exploring the world of blogging.