Monday, September 26, 2011

Writing Fun Fiction....

I am a very visual person. In order for my creative wheels to start turning in my head I have to have some type of visual inspiration. My daughter is the same way. Usually this little quirk of ours doesn't get in the way of learning. It's easy to find visual inspiration for art, crafts, photography, etc. However, writing fiction can be a problem for us, especially when we are suppose to create, design, and write a story that came directly from thin air.

I remember a learning technique that one of my teachers used when I was in the 7th grade and she was teaching us the basics of being creative when writing fiction. She would turn on classical music and tell us to close our eyes. While the music was playing we were suppose to daydream, something that fit the current song we were listening to. For instance; Flight of the Bumble Bees might create images of bees pollinating flowers or building their hive. Then we were to put the images verbally on paper. Even though this was an audio technique, it really helped me to visualize what it was I wanted to put onto the piece of paper. Once we had the visual of what we wanted to write about we wrote an outline, rough draft, and then final draft. I fell in love with writing after that.

Since I loved this technique so much I decided to try it on my daughter. While this technique works great for older students who are able to sit through an entire Beethoven song, my third grader was getting antsy. So I decided that maybe that wasn't the best technique for her.

I have been obsessed with old pictures since I was a little girl, and they near take over my "antique" room, so I decided to use one to get her creative juices flowing.

I pulled this picture out for her to use as a reference. This is one of my favorite old pictures and is labeled 1905 on the back along with the names of the family members. I didn't let her see the names of family members though, because I wanted her to get creative with it. Her first assignment was to name each of the family members and how they were related. Then she had to list some fun facts about each of them; such as little Suzy has a cat named Shadow and is allergic to peas.

Once she was done with the general "outline" of the family, I had her arrange the facts about the family and she picked out her favorite characters. Then we discussed what types of stories her favorite characters might have to share with us. For instance: Little Suzy's cat vanished one day while she was at school and she was heart broken. Then she created a story around Little Suzy's cat vanishing, and how she ended up finding her (my little girl could not stand an unhappy ending).

This turned out to be a very fun way to get her interested in writing fiction, and I think I will use some of my other old pictures to do more writing assignments. Maybe some pictures out of magazines too; pretty much anything to keep her interested and still writing!! :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Making progress...

This week we are seriously pushing math and spelling, Kaitlyn's two weakest subjects. I feel like we're already making progress (and it's only Monday...yippee!!). She has finished some of her lessons for math and is almost done with one from spelling. I can't believe the amount of effort she is putting into these assignments.

Next week we are going to be learning about ancient Egypt. We will be learning about pyramids, mummies, the Egyptian social structure, their natural resources for trade goods, transportation, and hieroglyphics. I have a hieroglyphics book, and we are going to paint some of them on rocks and then memorize their specific meanings. I'm also thinking about us making our own mummies with paper mache and baby dolls, but I'm not quite decided on whether we are going to do that yet. I am really excited about starting the Egyptian project. I love projects where we get to think outside the box and travel to times and places we have never been. I will be posting pictures as we work our way through the ancient Egyptian project. Until then, have a great week full of lots of fun learning!! :)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adding Variety....

One of the biggest perks of homeschooling is being able to add variety to my daughter's lesson plan. Just recently I have started her on Famous Poets. We are currently working on Robert Frost. I am amazed at how quickly she has memorized Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, one of my all time favorite poems. One thing that I like about Frost, especially with this poem, is that he has rhythm. I created a beat to go with the poem and Kaity and I clapped along as we were reciting it. It seriously only took her about 30 minutes to have the poem memorized. That was last week. What is even more amazing is that she can now recite the poem on demand without faltering or stumbling over her words.
I think I am going to continue with Robert Frost for a few more weeks and then jump to Edgar Allen Poe, another one of my favorites. When she was in first grade I had tested Kaity's reading abilities by having her read The Raven, by Poe, which is NOT an easy reader. The poem is full of very large words, thees and thous, and words with such difficult spelling that phonics is definitely not going to help. I was impressed with how well she did then, and I think that by incorporating that poem back into her schooling could help increase her vocabulary.
Thankfully, she seems to enjoy the poetry. I was worried that I would be putting too much on her with the busy class schedule I wrote up. So far, though, this year has been the easiest when it comes to getting her excited about schooling;)
I'm curious how many other homeschooling mommys have written out an actual schedule for their children's curriculum. Right now I have her working Mon-Friday, 6 hours a day. Since she is in third grade I have stuck with the basics, and added a few fun classes, like Spanish and Art. She is given 45 minute classes, 15 min breaks, and 1 hour lunch. Here's an example of her schedule:
Physical Education
So far the schedule is working great, but I am always open to suggestions and would love to hear from other mommy's as to how they are doing it:)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Hello to all. My name is Jenn and I have homeschooled my daughter, Kaity, for a total of 3 years. I am a single mom, who does not place much value on monetary things, and would rather stay home with my daughter to focus on her education than work away from home and have fancy things. I do work, but solely from home and around my daughter's time.
Since I use a lot of material from online sources for homeschooling, I thought it would be neat to share those tools and resources and to trade ideas with other homeschooling mommys. So, here's my welcome;) And the next blog posts should not be so long!!
I decided to homeschool my daughter when, right before she started school, I noticed that the public school system had gotten out of control. Classrooms were huge, with little one-on-one interaction, and many parents used the public school system as a form of daycare. The lack of discipline these children had at home really reflected how they behaved at school. Of course, I didn't think that every public school child was like that. I could, however, guarantee that if I homeschooled my daughter she would be able to focus on her studies without focusing on the bad habits of other children.
I was blessed when I found a local program for homeschooling families called Home Link. The only issue of homeschooling that I was having was making sure my daughter got plenty of interaction with other kids. Being an only child who lives 10 miles outside of the nearest town could lead to a lonely life for my daughter if I didn't find ways for her to be active with kids her own age, as well as younger and older kids. In that regard Home Link saved me and her. Last year she went to Home Link for two full days a week. She had the opportunity to take some amazing classes with some amazing kids and teachers; such as Ballet and Cooking up US History. All in all, the program has really helped to blossom our homeschooling subjects as well as provide my daughter with the necessary socialization tools that she will need.
Sadly, Home Link is funded by the public school system and was this year told to make cuts. So Kaity will only be able to do 1 full day of school or up to 3 days with split classes, for a total of only 5 classes. However, the fun classes haven't gone away (according to the schedule I received) so she can still do Ballet, but her other classes will be limited.
I will continue to push through, though, and work at preparing my daughter for testing next spring:) Thank you for reading my blog, and God Bless:)