We are incredibly behind in our Mystery of History lessons… like… ummm… only on Lesson 10. Does it take anyone else almost a year to get through 10 lessons in a subject?
Not that we don’t study history; we just chase it down in unconventional ways and in the middle of lessons and books about other topics.
But, because the kids LOVE this program so much, I pulled it back off the shelf, dusted it off, and picked up where we left off (months ago).
Stonehenge… around 2000 B.C. For those of you that are not familiar with this curriculum, MOH is a chronological history of the world that begins with Creation. We’re using Volume 1: Creation to the Resurrection. It’s written in a conversational, story-like tone, and the kids liken it to a read-aloud. Then, the author presents several activity options for each lesson, geared to different age groups so it can be used with the whole family, and can be restarted after it’s complete, where the kids (who are much older) can delve into some of the more difficult and deeper activities.
Today we learned that monuments made out of stone like this are called megaliths. The rock slabs weigh as much as 28 tons each, and they originally stood in a perfect circle. It’s a fascinating piece of history that makes you wonder about the intelligence of early man.
We decided, after talking about some of the activity choices, and finding others online, to build our own mini-megaliths. So, we headed to the Dollar Tree and picked up two bags of rocks and two bags of moss. Three kids, three cool-looking projects, an afternoon of mess and engagement… all for under five bucks!
All three worked hard, deciding where to place stones, and hot-gluing them down on an inverted paper plate.
Logan lost interest first, directing me as I placed four blobs of hot glue onto her plate where she wanted her rocks. Then, she added a bit of green magic marker for grass, and set her cow to graze! Mission accomplished:
Molly was the only casualty. She burned her finger on the glue as she reached for another rock before making sure the previous one was set. Let me tell you… hot glue hurts, but combine that with a heated river stone, and you can hear the screaming from a block away! Trevor helped her get some ice, and she settled down to finish, opting for moss instead of marker to finish off her monument:
Usually Trevor is the one who gives up on projects like this first, but he really got into it today. He worked the glue gun like an expert, and was really creative. It was his idea to get the moss out (I’d originally purchased it with another project in mind), and inspired Molly’s creativity. I was impressed:
When Brian got home, they were all buzzing with Stonehenge facts, so I guess the hands-on part of Lesson 10, and the continued questions and discussion as they worked really helped to cement the knowledge. Give it a try! Collect some rocks from around the yard, and have the kids build their own megaliths. And then stop back to share about it!
I firmly believe that kids learn best by doing.
This belief has been the foundation of my educational philosophy, my parenting, and makes up the core of my writing. Now that I homeschool my little ones… it shows through in just about everything we do around here.
When we involve kids in their world, they appreciate it more, care for it better, and have a vested interest in learning how to live best in it.
To me, raising a lifelong learner means bringing up my kids to be active participants in their education. Whether that education is “school” learning or “life” learning, they need to actively engage in it.
That means that when Trevor asks me a question, I don’t give him the answer. I show him how to find the answer. If we can get to it right away, or it’s a pressing issue, we might sit down at the computer for a quick “Google tutorial.” Or, if I’m in the middle of a million things (that never happens, right?), I might point him to the four hundred thousand (give or take) nonfiction books I have in the house and tell him to start reading.
When Molly helps in the kitchen, I let her crack the eggs. Then, I show her how to scoop the shell out of the bowl. But, I don’t do it for her.
If Logan needs a diaper change (now that she’s 2.5 and must. get. on. the. potty. soon. before. I. lose. my. mind.) I tell her to get the diaper, wipes, and to lay down. She does, and then we laugh and tickle before getting to the icky stuff.
All three kids have chores. Trevor regularly cooks breakfast. Logan sets the table and Molly clears it. They all know that they need to be participants in the things we do so that our family runs smoothly, and I know they are learning to appreciate all that goes into it. I also know that they are learning valuable skills.
You know the saying, “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime?” (paraphrased, I’m sure) It’s true. When our aim is to raise lifelong learners, we need to teach them to fish.
We need to…
- help them follow their passions.
- surround them with things to spark curiosity.
- read to them.
- give them a strong faith foundation.
- expose them to a variety of sports, arts, and subjects.
- engage them in imaginary play.
- enjoy them.
How to you teach your kids to fish? I’d love to know…
I love finding great music to share with my kids… old time music, folk music, country, rock, contemporary Christian, and fabulous, quirky stuff written with silly kids in mind.
Educationally put, music is important for a kid’s cognitive development. I typed “music and kids development” into Google and instantly had access to over 620 MILLION hits. From articles and studies that show that kids who are exposed to music early in their lives scored higher on intelligence tests than kids who were not.
And that’s where Free Kids Music comes in. The amazing creators of this site contacted some of their favorite children’s artists and asked if they’d offer some of their music FOR FREE DOWNLOAD… and they did!
From traditional classics like the ABC Song, This Little Light of Mine, and The Wheels on the Bus to new and quirky songs like Tic Toc by Lemonsquare and If I Was a Fish by The Plants… this site has something for everyone.
Check it out when you have a chance – you won’t regret it! When you do, stop back and leave a comment. I’d love to know which songs you loved, which artists you liked the best, or if you followed some of the links to artist sites to find more of their songs.
Does anyone else out there LOVE Pinterest? I’m not the only one that gets caught up, lost, and wanders aimlessly for L-O-N-G periods of time, right? I click from pin to pin, and often forget to pin those things I like! In fact, I’m sad to admit, my boards look pretty bare… and it’s NOT because I’m not on searching… it’s because I get caught up and go off – I guess on some of those rabbit trails I talked about yesterday. See, it’s perfectly normal!
Awhile ago, and then again while playing around on the site with a good friend , I ran across this cool idea: Bite-size hot dog chunks inside corn muffins… make your own “mini-corn dogs.”
We had a long day at co-op, were all exhausted, and wanted to eat… right away, so I thought it the perfect time to try them out. Mmmm!
I love making cornbread from scratch, and it’s not that difficult, but we cheated today in the interest of three hungry kiddos, a hungry mommy, and daddy out of town for a few days. I wanted an early dinner, early bedtimes, and time to myself! So… enter the Jiffy mix.
- 4 nitrite-free hot dogs cut into 24 bite-size chunks
- 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix (35-cents each this week at Aldi!)
- 1/2 cup applesauce (to replace the eggs and make it sweeter)
- 2/3 cup milk
Stirred the applesauce and milk in a bowl with the 2 boxes of cornbread mix.
Scooped the cornbread batter into 24 mini-muffin pans and pushed a chunk of hot dog into the center of each muffin.
Baked at 400-degrees until golden brown (about 10-15 minutes).
Ate with a dish of applesauce, some baby carrots, and big smiles. Yummy!
I was talking to a new friend during our recent CMNH class about rabbit trails…
What are rabbit trails? Well, if you’ve ever watched a rabbit hop away once it’s startled, you can probably picture it – a rabbit trail goes this way… then that way… then in a little circle… then back the way it came in a zigzag… then… well, you get the picture.
In our home, they look a little like this:
Me: “Parallel lines don’t ever cross each other. Perpendicular lines meet at right angles, and cross.”
Trevor: “So, a right angle is a made up of perpendicular lines?”
Trevor: “Can I go find perpendicular lines? And parallel ones, too?”
Me: “Ummm… I guess, but you still have to do this page in your math book.”
An hour later…
Trevor: “This is cool! There are all kinds of lines and angles all over. Acute angles are the one smaller than right angles… so they’re cute. Obtuse is kind of big-sounding… those angles are bigger than right angles. Did you know that train tracks are parallel?”
Me: “Ummm… yeah. Okay, forget the math worksheet. I’m going to make lunch.”
Learning took place, right? It may not have been the learning I had planned, but I’m not really in charge, am I? It can be tough to remember that when the plans seems to be falling apart around you, but there is Someone else that holds your days in His hands. Maybe that was the day Trevor was meant to “get” the basics of geometry. By running off to explore (and tossing the worksheet) he managed to internalize the concepts of different types of angles and different types of lines – all in one go!
If we’re afraid to follow rabbit trails, we may be missing out on one of the most beautiful things about homeschooling – the flexibility (and joy) of running alongside our children all day, every day.
It’s all about Faith and Love…
… and aren’t they worth it?
Have fun chasing rabbit trails with your kiddos. Let me know what you discover! I love reading your comments.
Once a month, the kids take a class at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Not only do we love the chance to get together with lots of other homeschoolers, but these classes are fabulous!
CMNH offers the classes on two days each month, and has separate plans and instructors for different age groups. There’s a preschool class, one for 5-8 year olds, another for 9-12 year olds, and a middle/high school class. The themes are the same, but the content varies by age and ability. This month’s topic was dinosaurs!
Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of Trevor’s class because parents are required to stay with the preschoolers, so I have to drop him off and go with the girls. Technically, Logan is too young for the class, but she always worms her way in and since she stays focused and appropriate, the teacher allows her to participate too. Such a great staff!
We started with a little dinosaur dig of our own:
Molly’s doll was overseeing the dig, presumably taking note to decide if grant funding would be appropriate based on the scope of the find…
Once we learned a bit, and played with our plastic mini-dinos, we were ready for the class.
We dropped Trevor off to do whatever the big kids do, and went down to the preschool room where Molly’s teacher waited with dinosaur models and a story.
Then, they were able to go around to different stations, set up much like a Montessori classroom would be. There were fossils to look at through magnifying glasses, craft projects to complete, and dinosaurs to arrange by size and species.
Then, it was off to the dinosaur room to identify different dinosaur species:
Logan was very interested. She kept saying, “I love dinosaurs. They’re so cute.” And, then she’d run off to look at more all by herself.
(Off in the distance, you can see Trevor’s class looking at the same dinosaur. They were busy taking notes, so we didn’t interrupt.)
The museum classes are such a fun part of our homeschool each month. We are so thankful that there are resources in our community that value homeschooling as an educational choice, and reach out to offer fabulous content, engaging activities, and a day out at the museum each month… all at an incredibly affordable price.
What kinds of community resources do you have to share?
Moments to Remember was developed as a simple way to look back on our week as homeschoolers and find photos that encompass the memories we want to remember.
The week may have been tough, there may have been more bumps than smiles, but in the end these are the moments that keep us going, the ones we need to remember.
My little literature lovers… choosing to hang out with a basket of books during free play time.
Big brother helping little sister figure out the “popcorn tongs” so she could transfer valentine erasers into an ice cube tray. So sweet…
Working hard to build the Great Wall of China. (Love the tongue sticking out in concentration.) Thanks for the great idea, Erica!
The fact that we can all work, snack, and play together all day long. We are so blessed…
I love words… Part of that likely comes from my love of reading, and the fact that I make my living writing. My poor husband. Brian has put up with nearly 2 decades of daily grammar and word usage corrections. (But he loves me anyway…)
If you like words like I do, or want to like them more (or want your kids to think they’re fun), check out today’s FREE RESOURCE:
When you click on the link, you’ll go to the main page where you choose either level one or two. Once you choose your level you’ll see a calendar for the month (though when I went today, January 2012 was still up) and clickable links embedded into the calendar.
The picture above shows the icon for a game called Thesaurus Rex. Each month a featured word can be found by clicking on the link. Kids (or adults) can play a game to find synonyms for the word. Why not feature the word as a family, too. Attempt to use it (or its synonyms and antonyms throughout the month and “catch” each other’s vocabulary prowess?
Around the Kessler house, we tend to take on a topic and run with it, then fit our other subjects into that theme. It takes some effort, but it works for us and keeps interest high. So, lately we’ve been learning about pirates… more on that later, but for now here’s one way we’ve made it work for the content areas…
In our reading, we learned that the early Chinese pirates were pretty successful. Why? Because their ancestors had already invented a little tool that helped them navigate the seas and successfully find coastal towns and merchant ships to raid and plunder. The ancient Chinese pirates used a compass.
They had discovered that a lodestone always rotated until it pointed in a north-south direction when dropped into a cup of water. We decided to try this out.
If you want to try it yourself, you’ll need:
- a paper plate
- clay or play dough
- a sharpened pencil
- a horseshoe magnet
- your science notebook
First, put a ball of clay or dough in the center of the plate:
Then, put the pencil in the dough, eraser side down (LEGO mini figures are great helpers!):
Finally, balance the horseshoe magnet on the tip of the pencil and watch what happens:
The magnet will spin, then come to rest in a north-south direction. You can check this with a real compass if you want to. Make sure you draw or write your observations in your notebook:
The only change I’d suggest is to use a horseshoe magnet with a wider middle. This one was narrow and proved difficult to keep free-spinning.
Enjoy! Have a great Thursday…