Ps. 139:14 “I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...”
Gen. 1:27 “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Gen. 2:18 “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’”
I believe we women were uniquely created to be creative. I find that even women who say they are not creative are really very creative. Some, like myself, have a tendency to be the great imitators. We are not Martha Stewart, but if we look at something, we can think of a way that we can do it with what we’ve got or with just a few supplies. As homeschool mothers, we should be using our God-given creativity to create teaching materials that are not only less expensive, but that really work!
Later on in this lesson, I will discuss how we can help develop our children’s creativity rather than destroying it by weakening it or controlling it.
Learning to Read and Spell
The very best way to introduce letters and phonics sounds, even with young preschoolers, is with a wood alphabet puzzle. You can begin by singing an alphabet song as they point to or pick the letters up. Then you could go through the vowel sounds by asking them to spell the word as you sound it out slowly. It’s a good idea to cut out extra letters for words like “dad” where you need an extra “d.” (Keep these in an envelope or tiny jewelry box.) This method is especially good for boys who do not usually do as well with writing as girls do. You can even do it systematically by going through a phonics book like Abeka reading.
Using a wooden U.S. map can be a terrific geography lesson from preschool through middle school. Make it a game. Take out the puzzle pieces and put them in using the “first and last name” of each state, such as Tallahassee, Florida or Sacramento, California. Tell them family or friends who live there or places of interests in the states.
For curriculum, have your child trace around the state puzzle piece and color it in. Or you can have them trace the state on colored construction paper, cut it out, and then glue it to a piece of paper.
You can enhance this by buying a poster of the state flags. Have the child cut the poster and glue the flag under the state. On Monday pick a state that you are going to learn about. Then throughout the week, ask about what they learned, not just during their geography time, but when Daddy comes home or when Grandma is around. Once they are allowed to prove their knowledge, they’re hooked.
Older students, even high school students, can be encouraged to tutor younger siblings in this subject. If your older children do not know their states and capitals, then have them tutor their younger siblings; it will help them as a remedial challenge.
I am determined to make my own world map using Styrofoam glued to the back of a world map to use this same method to teach world geography.
Most high school children do not know their multiplication facts. If you fail to really drill your children so that they know them without thinking, it will be a handicap to them all of their lives. Being able to add quickly is also a very wonderful blessing you can give to your child using the flash card method.
Using homemade flash cards is the very best method for learning these facts. The reason is that those they know, they set aside. Those they need to work on can be drilled over and over and over again.
Make addition cards up to 9 + 9 = 18. Begin with 1 + 1 = 2, then introduce them in number families.
For instance the 6 family has 5 cards. They are:
1 + 5 = 6
2 + 4 = 6
3 + 3 = 6
4 + 2 = 6
5 + 1 = 6
(I lay them out vertically, not horizontally as they are pictured above.)
Once they learn the number family, then incorporate it into the rest of their pile and add more for them to learn.
When you play the game you flash the card to them. If they know it, give it to them. If they don’t know it, you get it. At the end you see who has the biggest pile and who wins the game. At first you give them time to think; later they need to say it right away to get the card. At the end of the pile, the cards they didn’t know or were slow at saying are sent away with them to practice.
(You can also just put the ones they didn’t know in the back if you are not looking for fun or motivation.)
It usually is fun enough just that they have “beat you” since almost always they know more cards than they don’t know. But if you need to motivate your student, you can give them a treat at the end of the game or give them points every day that add up to a treat at the end of the week.
To make the cards, write the fact with a thick black marker on the front. Then on the back, write the answer in red, very small, in the upper right corner. Finally, cut one corner of the card to make it easier to keep them straight and in order.
To get started learning them, have your student lay them out, saying the answers in order, then looking at the back.
2x2 (look at back) is 4.
2x3 (look at back) is 6.
Have them go through them 5 times this way. Then lay them all out and tell your child to pick up the ones they know, checking the back to see if they are right. If they are not right, they put it back. Do it until they can pick them all up.
If you have two children, especially an older child who is weak in multiplication, let them take turns seeing who knows more. As they do it, it becomes a game of speed.
For those who seem overwhelmed or for those who have a “quitting” attitude, show them when they get to the 7 times table that they know most of them already. As a matter of fact, all they need to learn is 7x7, 7x8, 7x9, and 7x12, because they know the ones up to 6x7 and because 7x10 and 7x11 are so easy!
Helping our children appreciate good music is fun for them and fun for you too. This is beneficial and can be taught from preschool through high school.
Listen to one of the classics during homeschooling time. The brain is said to secrete a certain enzyme that feeds the brain when listening to classical music. There are many universities in Europe that have classical music playing continuously all over the campus. It is known to be very calming, too, for those who have antsy children.
Select one composer and listen to him every day for a month. Put his picture up somewhere where they will see it all month. Then read about him while your children color his picture, reinforcing all this information in their minds. You can read the biography from the coloring book, an encyclopedia or the back of the composer cards. (Pre-read them since some have had illicit relationships and there may be other information that you may not want to share with your child.)
You can also listen to biographies of some of the composers on 100 Greatest People tapes.
You or your high school student can search for information on the Internet or have your older students write reports. For the younger children, just listening and coloring is more than enough. This can be repeated 2 - 3 times over their school years.
Learning the days of the week and the months: Lay them out in order.
Geo Safari: make reduced copy and write the answers next to it as a test and to put in their portfolio. Use the blank ones you get by cutting up a poster.
Your children are all uniquely created and may be very different from you. My daughter loves to make and create crafts. Even though I do not like to do crafts myself, I provide my daughters with the opportunities, the supplies and the “how to” books. There are craft lessons of course, but much is missed when they are not allowed to learn it on their own.
Organized Play vs. Free Time
A very sad phenomenon is the lack of creativity in our children because of the toys we choose, the television we watch and the amount of “organized play” that they are involved in. Allowing children to “press through” boredom and come up with what they can find to do, invent, create or make is a gift that most parents are unwilling to afford their child. Instead they will give in to their child’s whining or pouting without realizing that they are robbing them of developing their mind and imagination.
The best way to stop this is to NEVER give into it and also penalize the behavior with your thrill that they can help you. Have some things in mind when you see them pouting or whining because there is “no one to play with” or there is “nothing to do.” Then do NOT give in by letting them out of it. Make them do the task you have assigned them with your excitement! They will stay away from bothering you and if they don’t you have gained free labor. Either way you both benefit!
Note: After class we will share our favorite “finds” in curriculum with each other.
My children love to use Read, Write & Type! Suited for ages 6-8. It’s priced at $79 on their site. They teach finger placement and it is good for letter recognition and phonetic sounds.
The Learning Company