Cooking, Homeschooling

Using the newpaper to the fullest

I recognize that newspaper subscriptions are not as common as they were before the advent of the internet, smart phones, and other new technologies.  Such a shame.  We used the newspaper in so many different ways as I was teaching my own children, and I still use it as I work with young people today.  Here are just a few ways it can supplement your academics:

Discovery learners (explanation in my post on Feb. 26, 2013)

  • Have them identify letters and numbers from the large print.
  • Cut apart the lettering in the headlines.  Have them create their spelling words, or simply assemble familiar words from the letters.
  • Look for the pictures which accompany the stories.  Cut out various pictures which can then be categorized into different emotions.  If you use images from throughout the paper, you may be surprised at the variety of feelings caught on film.
  • Give each child a length of print and have them look for the most commonly used letters.  Make a graph or a chart with tally marks.  Look at other print media.  Do your findings match there as well?
  • Later discovery learners can look for the most important or persuasive words in an article.  Why did the journalist choose those words?  Which other words could they have chosen?
  • Put together a family newspaper.  Have your children play reporter/journalist.  Call extended family members and gather information about each person, then try and write articles that are informative and interesting.
  • Find the weather report and track what is forecasted as well as the actual weather happenings.  How are they the same?  Different?  What other information is included with the forecast?
  • Many papers offer an educational page or insert each week.  Look for them.  They often have games, and activities to make your studies more interesting.  Can’t find one? Call your local paper and ask.

Analysis learners- many of these will work for application learners as well (explanation in my post on Feb. 27, 2013)

  • Give your teen an amount of “money” to invest.  Have them choose stocks to purchase, and then follow the stock prices in the economy section to see how well they did.  Watch the stocks for two months or more to get a clearer picture of what happens with the stock market.  Graph the results.
  • Have your youth clip coupons and use the ads to put together menus and the shopping list for the week.  Go to the store and see how well they can stay within the family budget.
  • Have your student copy a sentence or two from an article of their choice.  Have them diagram it.
  • Look for recipes that feature foods your family likes or would like to try.  Organize them into a three-ring binder.  As you make them, make a note of which ones you enjoyed, what worked well, what might be a way to “tweak” them, or just toss the ones which you wouldn’t make again.  (Often the recipes in the paper are taken from the latest cookbooks.)
  • Look for unfamiliar words to use in a vocabulary list.
  • Read an article looking for a specific part of speech.  Circle or underline the nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc.
  • Cut out or copy a comic strip.  Put white out over the text in the thought bubbles/spoken words.  Have your students write their own text.
  • Read the editorials together.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Why?  Can you find a flaw in the argument?  (We did this daily for years.  My entire family became much more competent at putting a well-worded argument together, and were able to discuss current events intelligently with those around them.)
  • The local section of the paper often lists upcoming events.  Plan a field trip as a family.
  • Track your favorite sport or team.  Learn to analyze stats, memorize players and their numbers, or look for the ways injuries, weather, playing fields, or fatigue affect the game.

Application learners (explanation in my post on Feb. 28, 2013)

  • Use the classified ads to look for jobs requiring different levels of education.  Using the salaries listed, have them look for housing, food, transportation, and other living expenses to put a budget together for a month or more.  (You will have to provide utility costs.  Those aren’t in the classifieds.)
  • Keep a notebook of clipped articles dealing with a current event or social issue important to your family.  Watch for changes as time passes, or look for the various biases of different reporters.  After you have taken time to examine the issue more fully, write a letter to the editor explaining where you stand and why.
  • Keep reading the editorials together.  Consider having your young adult write a paper on an issue which they find concerning.  How does it affect them as they move into adulthood?  How might change be accomplished?  What roadblocks would need to be overcome?
  • Look for recent quotations or famous sayings to put in their quote/penmanship books.  Why did they choose what they chose?
  • Do the crosswords puzzle, or at least attempt it.

The newspaper is not as popular as it once was and yet it can assist us in the most challenging part of home schooling- using different media in order to avoid academics from becoming mundane.  It can enlighten, challenge, and shed light on a considerable number of items in our lives.  This list is just the beginning.  Take a minute and spend time in your local paper, and see how many different ways you can use it in your own home!

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Homeschooling

Garden science with the boys

Botany is not often regarded as an exciting area of scientific study for early discovery learners.  I would invite you to rethink that idea.  This week we began our botany unit with my oldest grandsons, ages 7 and 5.  Before we had finished the first day’s work, the three-year-old was right in the middle of it!  What were we doing?  Looking at seeds.The boys learned the difference between a monocot seed, and a dicot.  (A monocot has a single cotyledon; a dicot has two.)  We dissected seeds, talked about how they grow, and what to expect from each.

What did we learn?

  • Botany has some odd sounding terms, especially when coming from a three-year-old.
  • Bean seeds can be difficult to split unless you soak them first.
  • Cilantro seeds divide in half beautifully with very little encouragement at all.
  • We had more types of garden seeds that are dicot.
  • Most importantly, we learned that looking at things differently helps you see what you had initially missed.  Isn’t that the basis for all academic study?

Currently, there is a wet paper towel with six different types of seeds resting on my kitchen window sill.  We will check on their progress daily to see which type sprouts most quickly.  That will lead to a discussion of germination dates and, eventually, harvest estimates.

I realize they will not remember half the vocabulary we used (but they do have more words to pull from if they so choose), but I do expect that they will spend the next six months trying to split seeds and observing more closely how plants grow.  And that is exactly what I am hoping to see.

Today’s plan?  Roots!  Carrots anyone?

Homeschooling

Discovery learners

Today begins a three-day post that deals with how children learn best during the different stages of development.  The information given is crucial to understand if you want to optimize the opportunities for each stage.  The ages listed are approximate, and vary with each child.  Exceptional children (those with learning challenges), and giftedness can also affect the timing for the later stages.  Watch your children and you will learn to recognize the clues for each.

Have fun learning together!

Discovery Learning

The Discovery level child is full of life and curiosity.  Absorption of facts and memorization are the main focus for this stage of learning.  Teach basic facts.  Children at this age are literal thinkers and should not be required to analyze or interpret information (ask, “What was Columbus looking for in America?”, not “Why did Columbus want to find America?”).  Their brain development has not yet prepared them to deal with abstract thought. If pushed to think abstractly, the most likely responses from the child will be frustration, confusion, or the child could simply shut down.  Save abstract thinking for later.  They will be ready to tackle more complicated thinking as they grow.  Save it for the next learning level.  Allow your child joy in what he excels at doing now.  Allow time for wonder and play. 

Limit the seat work assigned at this stage.  Small children were not designed to sit for long periods of time or focus intently on one thing for hours.  Use hands-on learning activities as much as possible. Much of what they study can be best accomplished with games or orally, rather than through written work. (Drill, file folder games, narration, Q/A, etc.)  Applaud their efforts and remember a short, productive study time is preferred over a long, discouraging battle of the wills.  Provide educational tools and activities for exploration so that “non-academic” time will be useful.  Limit TV watching, computer time, video gaming, etc.  All life around them should be an opportunity for discovery.

Remember- this level of learning is physically exhausting.  They will need Mom to be “tuned in” and ready to help if they need her.  Working independently is not a skill they will have perfected; be prepared to work along with them to help with focus, and to teach acceptable levels of work, both academically and with life skills.  Discovery learners need supervision as they establish habits, and a strong work ethic, as well.  Your example is one of their best teachers!

Be sure to spend time on character education!   Academic instruction without clear education in right and wrong opens the door for children to assume they are above the rules if they can see a way out of them. You could potentially raise a child that is centered on self to the point of disregarding all acceptable social or moral customs or laws. You could raise a “clever devil.”

Discovery level learning begins at birth and continues to approximately age eleven or through grade 4.