Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Camelot Years

This made me cry. It's always nice to find something that helps keep things in perspective.

Years ago, when my six children were all very young, somebody told me that we were in the Camelot Years. "Enjoy it," she said. I tried to remember that through all the all the adventures of eggs on the floor, lipstick on the bathroom mirror and lotion bottles flushed down the toilet. Because, at the same time, I gathered them around me and spent time with my wonderful children, even though sometimes I was so exhausted I couldn't see straight. We read, went for walks, visited the zoo and learned to wash dishes together.

Now they're starting to leave. They are starting their own adventures in life. It's so much fun to see them growing up and becoming wonderful people. And when they're here, they do the dishes. But I'm ever grateful that during the "Camelot Years" I did my best to enjoy it, even though I sometimes forgot for a few minutes.

If you have little ones, what do you do to get through the day and remember to be grateful?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Liebster Award

Sharing and passing the "Liebster" Award

I have a blog award I want to share with you thanks to Tanya over at Generation Promise. “Liebster” is a German word meaning dearest, beloved or favorite, and the Liebster Award is sort of a chain letter among bloggers that’s intended to showcase exceptional up-and-coming blogs (typically, those with 200 or fewer followers). Now, there’s no evaluation committee or formal award process for the Liebster, but in a way it’s even nicer – it’s recognition that a peer has noticed and appreciated your hard work.

Here are the rules:
  • Choose 5 up and coming blogs of fewer than 200 followers to award the Liebster to.
  • Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  • Post the award on your blog. Link back to the blogs you have given the Liebster to so everyone else can pay them a visit.
So in no particular order here are my 5:

  1. Karen and Michelle - Layers of Learning
  2. TaMara - Sloan Homeschool
  3. Alexis - The Preschool Scientist 
  4. Emily - Homespun Light
  5. Debbie - WhispersWhispering

Friday, January 13, 2012

Animal Notebook

I've been looking back through the homeschool projects we've done over the years and I came across our animal notebook. It's interesting to look at it now and see some of what the kids added to the notebook. I'm also noticing things we could have done to make it even more effective.

When they were younger we used to buy a yearly pass to the zoo and make alot of trips, learning all we could by visiting the animals. My children were so fascinated with animals that whenever I gave them a choice of a non-fiction topic to study, they almost always chose an animal.
The animal notebook started as a collection of animals we studied. It started when I only had two young children. As they grew and more children joined our family we pulled it out again later and  added more. When we studied a particular animal we woould make a page where we cut out all the pictures of that animal that we could find. The kids each drew their own pictures of that animal which are a precious record of their drawings now. We included a fact sheet that listed all the information we learned about the animal. The questions we tried to answer with each animal were as follows: 
  • What do they eat?
  • Is this animal a vertbrate?
  • How do they deal with the cold?
  • How many babies do they have at a time?
  • Where do they live?
  • What color are they?
 Looking at this list now I can think of lots of other questions we could add to it. But when we started it, we were probably looking for something basic, since they were still very young.
The one thing that really strikes me now as I look at it is that I should have had them all writing something to add to the book. A creative story about that animal or something they learned. Even if they told me the story and I had written it down that would have helped them with their writiing skills. But overall if there is one thing I regret, its that I didn't require them to write enough.

It's fun to look back through projects like this. The bring back memories of different times in our homeschooling lives.

Tell us what fun project you are working on with your children.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Inspire Kids to Write: Five Writing Tools to Help Them

             My oldest daughter hated to write. I love to write and wasn’t sure how to help her. Through the process of helping her and others I’ve discovered that sometimes you just have to require that a student write and they may or may not ever like it. But they will learn to see the value of it and there are a few tools that can help them succeed and make it a little less painful. Here are five tools you can use to help students with their creative writing efforts.

  1. Teach them to brainstorm. There are so many ways to brainstorm for a new idea: making lists, clustering, brainstorming charts and more. One of the things I love most is to be in the middle of a group of kids brainstorming for ideas. They have so many, once you get them thinking about it. There is something about writing it down, making something visual with it and talking and asking questions that makes it fun to create ideas for a story line. Some of them get a little crazy, it’s true, but wading through the crazy, silly ideas is how you sometimes get to the good ones. For more ideas on brainstorming see my author site. http://www.melanieskelton.com/brainstorming.htm
  2. Teach them to outline. Sometimes the ideas feel too big and complicated. If you can give them a tool to help them organize their ideas, it may be just what they need to help them move forward with a story.
  3. Keep a dream journal. You never know where your great ideas for writing are going to come from. The novel I am currently working on really did come from a dream, and it is the best idea I think I’ve had for a novel, so far. Sometimes dreams are confusing or seem silly, but when you get in the habit of writing them down, you train your brain to remember. A dream that seems silly may even trigger a thought that turns into an idea for a story. You just never know.
  4. Keep a quote journal. One night I sat at a basketball game just writing down everything I heard somebody around me say. It’s an interesting exercise. Reading it later is interesting. Whether at the grocery store or at a sporting event there are conversations going on around you. Learn to hear these and write down at least the interesting ones. You’ll learn to hear how people speak. Again, ideas for stories can come from anywhere.
  5. Explore history. There is so much to explore in the history of the world. There are so many stories, both true and fiction that can come out of any culture and time. Read personal histories, ask questions about why. And then turn it around a little and ask ‘what if’. When you start changing ideas and wondering how a story could have been different you open up a whole new world of possibilities.