Thursday, July 12, 2012

Science, Part 4: Application Level

  • Read biographies of great scientists
  • Take Honors level classes at the local high school or college courses
  • Perform experiments, dissect, investigate
  • Learn the laws and principles of scientific study
  • Record experiences in their nature notebook
  • Look at the ways science, history, literature play off each other and affect the world as a whole.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Science, Part 3: Analysis Level

  • Study and outline science texts
  • Read and write reports. (Include data from experiments performed or observations from the world around them.)
  • Biography reading
  • Put science history dates in a time line; watch for the effects of scientific discovery on history in general
  • Perform experiments, go on nature walks, ask questions, etc.
  • Keep a nature notebook.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Science, Part 2: Discovery Level

  • Memorize facts, figures, tables, vocabulary, etc.
  • Read biographies, literary science, etc.
  • Hands-on activities
  • Spend time in the kitchen experiencing the wonders of food interaction. Learn safety and how to improvise.
  • If interested, keep a nature notebook
  • Learn about the world by experiencing it.
  • Organize collections and learn to label and classify - try Latin classifications for the serious scholar.
  • Orderliness and focus are important skills for any scientist. Encourage these at every opportunity.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Science, Part 1

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delecate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.
Albert Einstein

The study of science can be one of the most fascinating parts during your school day. Teacher and students alike learn descipline, reasoning, observation and love for the Creator as we study the world around us.

Most science text-books are dry, void of reference to a Creator, and limiting to the student. Get your hands dirty. Dissect, draw, experiment, experienc what our world has to offer. Do not get between the child and discovery. There are wonderful videos available that cover a wide range of subjects and that use a wide range of approaches. Watch with your children in order to aid discussion. Using a sketch book for science recording allows for sketches, thoughts; graphs, charts and tables, and experiments to be contained in one book. Study each disicpline separately. Human anatomy, botany, astronomy, chemistry, etc. are easiest to understand when studies systematically. Study the lives of famous scientists. Learn what led up to their discoveries. Encourage your students to experiment and invent. You can find science kits, books, stories and experiment ideas at the libraray,second-hand stores, on the internet and at the mall. Give kits as gifts yourself or request them from grandparents. If you are going to make the investment, spend money on good equipment. Do not buy the cheapse microscope or telescope, for example. They may not serve you very well. Do your homework before you purchase!

If you study history on  a four-year rotation, you can include science in it. The rotation may then look something like this: Ancient world-Life Science, Medieval and Renaissance-Earth Science and Astronomy, Early Modern-Chemistry, Late Modern-Physics. Perhaps summers could be used for computer science, electronics, or anything else on which you want to spend extra time.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Richard's Read-aloud Book List

By Becca Evenson

Once upon a time, there was a Dad who was working full-time and going to school full-time. His wife was a stay-at-home mom who had four young children, a house to keep, a garden to tend, and a fuse that was getting shorter and shorter.
One day after a long day at work and class, Dad came home to find Mom trying to bury herself in the nine loads of unfolded laundry. The remains of the evening meal were still on the table; the paper piles were taking over the computer table, the coffee table, and every other flat surface in the living room; and the children were slowly preparing themselves for bed.
"How do I help? Where do I start?", asked the bewildered and worried father.
"Can you take over story time this evening? I'll work in the kitchen while you read." was the reply.
Thus began a family tradition that lasted for a number of years…and definitely helped with living happily ever after.

Over the years, Richard (Becca's husband) read dozens of books with the children. The rule was: everyone had to be in jammies, prayers were said, and they had to stay in bed. He would plant himself with a large pillow in the hall where everyone could hear him read and he would read from a chapter book for about 15-30 minutes-always stopping just before some big event. When the boys were small (2 and 4 years old) he would read a picture book to them and then ensconce himself in the hallway to read. While he read, Becca would clean the kitchen, do laundry, tidy up, take a bubble bath or play Solitaire on the computer…whatever she needed so that she could take over again while he did homework and it started all over again.
This list is what we read for fun! These are not the books we read for literature or any other study during our academic day. We worked to avoid "twaddle" and choose books that have a point or would simply expand their horizons.
In no particular order, the following is a list of most of the books he read. Some he read more than once. Others (not listed) were started but never finished. (If both the parents and children were bored beyond the third chapter, we moved on to something else!)

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Rudolf Wyss
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Indian Captiveby Lois Lenski
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (All but the last. He wanted them to read that one privately. Good move.)
The Arabian Nights
The Prydian Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (All but the last.)
The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
The Sherlock Holmes Mysteries by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon
The Great Brain Series
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
The Hobbit by J. R.R. Tolkien
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
TheWestmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander
Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lindgren
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander
The Fighting Prince of Donegal by Robert T. Reilly
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Doctor Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Friday, July 6, 2012

A House of Order, Part 4: Dinner too?

By Melanie Skelton

You spend your day helping children with math equations, reading about the reformation, listening to narrations and going on a nature walk. When these things are done you take a deep breath and think, “Oh good, now I’ll take a few minutes for myself.” Only then, you look at the clock and realize if you don’t plan something for dinner soon, there will be no dinner. And if there is no dinner you will have a house full of grumpy people, including yourself of course. After all your efforts to educate and nurture your children, they always seem to want dinner too.

You could make a pizza run every night, but pizza would soon lose its appeal and gets expensive. You could have sandwiches every night, but that gets old sooner than pizza. Preparing boxed dinners every night might be simple, but they get old too. You want to prepare a variety of meals that are nutritious, appealing and still be able to spend time exploring all facets of education with your children.

How do we keep that balance of everything else we have talked about in this series of articles and fix dinner too?
Be assured that it will not always go perfectly. If it does, then you ought to be writing this article. However, by applying a few simple truths to your balancing act, you will find a nutritious meal on your table most of the time.

One way to simplify mealtime is as basic as having a plan. Write a menu out for a week or two at a time, and do the shopping for those meals. You don’t have to specify what you plan to fix each night, but if you have seven options for a week then it will be easier to make the daily decision of what to eat for dinner. Without this plan it sometimes takes more energy to decide what is for dinner than to fix the meal, and then you might not have all the ingredients.

Once you have a basic meal plan for the week it is easier to choose something from that plan each morning. Make this choice as you are preparing breakfast or at least by lunch. Check your menu plan as you prepare breakfast and decide which meal best fits the activities of the day. If you are going on a field trip or to the library and will be gone all afternoon it will be beneficial to throw something into the slow cooker or crock pot so that you have a meal when you return. If you have a day when the children can help you prepare the meal then you may want to choose a meal that is more involved and make it part of their school day.

Involving children in dinner preparations is a perfect way to accomplish two things at once. Not only will you have a meal, but it is a learning time for your children. Reading the recipe is good reinforcement for a child who is learning to read. Placing biscuits on a cookie sheet in four rows of three is a definite multiplication lesson for the child who needs it. Having time to talk about what you have learned that day as you peel potatoes can add fuel to their interest in a particular subject. Each child should learn to cook and be comfortable working in the kitchen even without these academic bonuses. If they learn the most complicated algebraic equations and can’t take care of themselves what have we accomplished? It may be beneficial to assign each child a day of the week to be in charge of dinner for a season.

Try some of the following tips to further simplify your meals.

Learn to use your crock pot or slow cooker. Try converting some of your favorite recipes to the crock pot. Search the internet and your library for new recipes to try. Using the crock pot or slow cooker gives you a way to prepare that meal early in the day and then be done.
On a day when you have more time, boil a whole chicken (at my house we do two), adding peppercorns, onions, celery and rosemary or another favorite spice to create a broth. Put it on in the morning and enjoy the aroma while you do school. Pick the chicken apart into bite size pieces. Plan your meals for the next several days around this prepared chicken and broth. Getting the meat ready is often the hardest part of fixing meals like chicken enchiladas or chicken and dumplings. Doing this for several meals at a time means you only have to do it once. Freezing the chicken or broth for future use is another way to have an easy meal to pull together. Of course, buying canned chicken is simple also, but more costly than preparing it yourself. Save the money and spend it on something to supplement your curriculum.

Dried beans can work with the same concept. Soak a large amount and cook them either in the crock pot or on the stove. Put them in ziplock bags and keep them in the freezer until you need them or plan several meals around them that week.

Making mixes ahead of time may simplify meal preparation for you. The book “Make-a-Mix” by Karine Eliason includes many recipes for making mixes ahead. This can save time in your cooking process.

Have you heard of cooking once a month and putting it in the freezer? If you like the idea of doing all the work in a couple days and then enjoying the meals for the entire month as you pull them out of the freezer, there are many books about cooking this way. A couple examples are: “Dinner’s in the Freezer!” by Jill Bond and “Once a Month Cooking” by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. Search for these and others at your local library or online at Amazon.

Be willing to experiment with these and other methods for simplifying your cooking. Not every idea will suit every person, but find the ones that suit you.
Remember, you will feel better and your children will respond more positively if good meals are being served. Behavior problems can be related to food, and children need healthy meals and snacks. Boys in particular seem to be better behaved and more focused when their nutritional needs are being met.
A final note about having a house of order: enjoy the process. If you learn to find joy in the simple things then doing the difficult things will seem easier.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A House of Order, Part 3: Creating order from chaos

By Melanie Skelton

Have you ever had a day like this? The supplies you need for the school project you have planned are somewhere; you just don’t know where. Your eight year old has no idea where his math book is – maybe the dog ate it. Breakfast still hasn’t happened and ten o’clock is passing quickly. You are ready to throw today’s plan for school out the window.

I hate to admit it, but I have known days like this. There have been days when I knew I had twenty pairs of scissors in my house, but could find none of them. I have wondered if my children hide their math books on purpose. And in the past I have been known to frantically go through the stack of papers next to my bed in search of something important I forgot about because it was lost in the stack.

So here is my moment of truth. One day a very close friend asked me if I ould like her to come help me organize my house.

“Oh, painful!” I thought. “There is no way I can let somebody into my space that way.”

But after some thought I realized I had to go out on a limb if I ever hoped to have my home run more efficiently. And so we set a day for her to come out.

The first day she came I began to realize how enormous this project was.

“Where do you keep your curriculum and school supplies,” she asked.

I pointed to the shelf in the front room, then led her down the hall and opened a cupboard where we kept the math books and personal assignments. Into the master bedroom we went to find another shelf of school books, and finally downstairs to see the rest of what I owned.

I had never questioned that my school books and supplies were spread all over the house. Once I thought about it I realized that I was constantly running to the other room to get something for a lesson or discussion we were in the middle of. This inefficient organization of my supplies was adding to the chaos I felt.

It didn’t end with my school supplies. I had stored many of my kitchen items in what we had called a pantry in the hallway when we moved in. We had since created a pantry in the kitchen but never moved everything into the kitchen. The master bedroom had become a catchall for whatever project I was working on, as well as a place to do laundry and whatever else I happened to put there.

And so the process began. We moved all of the school supplies and books into the family room and organized it so that similar items were in the same part of the room. The shelf came out of my bedroom with the decision that the master bedroom should be a place of refuge, not another place to store school supplies or other projects. The pantry became a linen closet and all that belonged in the kitchen was moved to the kitchen. I organized the game closet with a list of games and what school subjects they were related to. We did a major overhaul on the room that holds my sewing machine, computer and bins of fabric, yarn, laces, etc. A place for everything took on a new meaning. Not only have we been establishing a place for everything, but a place that makes sense in the general layout of my home.

The beauty of this project became evident as I began to see the difference in how we are functioning. I can always find a pair of scissors now. We don’t spend time looking for math books because they never leave the family room. I have found new pleasure in doing school with my children in a family room where I am not searching the entire house for the book I want to use for today’s discussion.

I don’t want you to think for a moment that my home always looks perfect now. In fact, just yesterday I was standing in the kitchen preparing peaches to bag and put in the freezer. The kitchen was a disaster, between the peaches I was trying to finish and the dishes I hadn’t done all day because of the peaches. There were toys strewn all over the family room that the children had been playing with all afternoon. In other words, we still have messes.

The thing that has changed is that my children are learning that there is a place for every item. If they do not know that place, they can ask. They have a bin where all their schoolwork belongs and it has a place. We keep all the schoolwork right in the family room. Now if somebody forgets to put their math book away we do not have to guess which room to look in. It is probably by the bean bag chairs where we do school.

The following list of hints may help you in finding ways to organize your home more efficiently.

Choose the area of your home where you plan to do school. Organize school supplies and books in this area so that they are easily accessible. Group books by general subject so they are easy to find. Use file drawers to file paper projects. Have small bins where pencils, glue and scissors can be kept.

Assign each child a place to keep their school work. Rubbermaid or Sterlite totes can be just the right size for this. Consider each room by what its purpose is. Keep like items together in that room.
Use totes and bins to provide a place for anything from lids in your kitchen cupboard to paintbrushes in the area your children do art. A fishing tackle box works well for organizing your first aid supplies into one place.
Find a friend whose home seems organized and approach them about walking through your house and giving some organizational tips. Their eyes may see something that you do not see because you look at it every day.
Sterlite makes large storage containers that fit beneath a bed. These can provide your children a place to keep their “treasures” and other things. If you have more than one child in a bedroom, this gives them with a storage space that is only theirs. Pencil boxes can be purchased inexpensively at back-to-school sales in August and used to let them organize their collections of cool things within their “treasure bins”.
Have a system for doing laundry. Hanging clothes on a clothes rack near the dryer as they come out goes quickly and keeps clothes from getting scattered or wrinkled. Children can learn to hang clothes as part of their assignments. They may not be hung perfectly, but with practice they will learn.
Insist that your children learn the place you have established for each item. This will not happen overnight, but will be a project that will take months. Be willing to stop what you are doing to teach them where you want a particular item. As you use these moments to positively reinforce new habits they will begin to appreciate the need for order. Without changing old habits, organizing your home will be a waste of time. This is the most important step you can take in creating order form chaos.