How We Do History

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History is our favorite subject! And by no coincidence, it’s also the one we spend the most time on.

Mystery of History is our main curriculum and a springboard for diving in deep. It provides a very accessible, chronological journey from Creation on, and I love the integration of “biblical” and “world” history, because, really, it’s all history; it’s all His-story.

The writing is conversational and can be used for students from kinder to high school. This means that the whole family can learn together! At the end of each lesson, there are suggested activities broken up by age range, for a more customized learning experience.

Mondays and Wednesdays are our history days, and depending on the subject covered and how deep we want to dig, we spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours on our learning.

So, what does this look like for our family?
Typically, we gather around the table and I read the short Mystery of History lesson. We may or may not do the suggested activity that accompanies.
If the subject matter covers biblical text, we read the suggested verses, and the surrounding verses for a better understanding of context. (I use the MacArthur Study Bible because inevitably, questions come up, and the study notes are helpful). If I’m behind on housework, we turn on the audio Bible.

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While listening to the Bible, art journals are being drawn in. This keeps hands busy and minimizes wiggles and distractions. It will also provide a wonderful, tangible memory of our most precious school time.

To provide a good background and knowledge of ancient biblical history, I read aloud from my old college textbook, Encountering The Old Testament. Chapters are broken up by OT sections and then books, so that each section and each book of the Old Testament has its overarching themes, location, main characters, issues, theorized dates, archeological evidences, and issues laid out. The material is intellectually weighty, but I’ve found that if I read with enthusiasm, engage my children, ask questions and reward correct or thoughtful answers, they grasp SO much! I highly recommend this book, or a similar one!

One of the many perks of homeschooling is being able to really learn about a subject and to enjoy that learning. In order to accomplish this, I pull tons of resources to spice up the curriculum.

Used books are hugely helpful for this. We especially love Eye Witness books for their visual appeal. Our Student Bible Atlas is another great visual. Historical fiction adds yet another dimension to our learning. Whatever our particular Mystery of History topic, I try to supplement with an additional book or two.

Answers in Genesis has tons of great, free articles and videos on science and historical evidence and we use their site often (www.answersingenesis.org).

YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime also supply videos on historic topics, but proceed with caution and use discernment.

Pinterest provides a plethora of craft and activity inspiration for me. My kiddos are super hands-on and I find that whatever we build, act out, create, or play becomes committed to memory. I pin ideas and then, when the time comes, tweak projects to my own liking.
We’ve built our own Tower of Babel out of toilet paper tubes (see photo below), Stonehenge of wafer cookies, a ziggurat of Legos… While we create, our
discussion is on the history. We look at pictures and read about whatever we are making. This provides another layer for learning and it’s fun!

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I prefer delight over memorization, and never require memorizing dates or facts. (In fact, the only memorizing we do is of Scripture). I do want to solidify concepts though and a couple products I recently found help with just that.

The Classical Historian’s http://www.classicalhistorian.com Ancient History card game covers famous historic figures, landmarks, locations, and people groups. What a fun way to review facts! They also have an American History and Bible History game.

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Asmodee http://www.asmodee.com has another neat card game called Timeline. Each card depicts a person or event from history (Old Earth, Evolutionary view, but we deal with it) on one side, and again on the flip side, this time with the (assumed) date. There are various ways to play, but we enjoy trying to put them in order without looking at the dates.

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If it was up to me, we would only do history all day, every day!

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More On Math: Supplements To Our Curriculum

Yesterday I talked a bit about how we do math in our homeschool. Today I want to dive into the specifics we use to supplement our Teaching Textbooks curriculum.

I’ll highlight my two favorite fun resources and then do a quick run down of the rest. If variety is the spice of life, our math time is definitely well seasoned.

One of my passions is to make learning as fun as possible for my kiddos. My desire is for them to LOVE learning and to be passionately curious, life long learners. I try to choose resources to aid in the achievement of this goal.

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The Sir Cumference Series: A Math Adventure, by Cindy Neuschwander (www.charlsbridge.com) is such an engaging way to teach somewhat complicated math subjects. Set in the middle ages, Sir Cumference goes on quests involving mathematical predicaments and uses equations to solve his problems. The illustrations are eye catching and the storyline is interesting enough to hold the attention of my ‘tweens.

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Learning Wrap Ups ( http://learningwrapups.com/) are great for in-the-car schooling. We have two sets of multiplication and division wrap ups and my kids love to practice on them. Learning Wrap Ups solidify math facts just as well as flash cards and feel more like a game, especially for tactile children.

Mathalogical Liar Game by Edupress: (www.edupress.com)
A fun, quick whodunnit game of crime mysteries. Each player draws an alibi or two. The alibi using faulty math in their explanation is the guilty party! Children do mental math and then read their alibis aloud, deciding whether they are guilty or innocent.

Fractions Are As Easy As Pie:
Children spin the wheel and try to build a whole pie using fractioned slices. This vintage game is so simple, but surprisingly, it had us totally excited and adding and subtracting fractions like pros. I couldn’t find a link for purchasing the game (mine was second hand) but Games For Learning had a similar diy version here-
http://gamesforlearning-mary.blogspot.com/2011/10/easy-as-pie-fractions.html?m=1

Brain Quest Math:
(http://www.brainquest.com/products/)
We are HUGE fans of everything Brain Quest and their math skill builders are no exception. We keep them in our car for when boredom strikes. Math related questions are on the front of the cards, and the answers are on back. Kids can go through them on their own or quiz siblings and parents.

Intermediate Multiplication Dice by Koplow:
(http://www.koplowgames.com/)
Yet another way to get those math facts down. This three pack of dice features two twelve faced dice with numbers 1-12 and one multiplication dice. Players roll the dice and complete the math problem, either mentally, or on paper, depending on their individual ability. Much better than minute math worksheets!

50 Fill-In Math Word Problems-
Fractions & Decimals;
Multiplication & Division by Scholastic:
(www.Scholastic.com) These workbooks are super popular in our home. Short, Mad Libs style fill-in-the-blank word problems allow kids to practice their parts of speech while creating their own math problems to solve. SO super fun. I’ve even witnessed my kids pull these out during downtime, just because.

Math for the Gifted Student, a Flash Kids workbook by Barnes & Noble:
(bn.com) This is another favorite for us. Math for the Gifted Student is loaded with games, activities, and brainteasers all using math. The colorful pages and fun artwork make this workbook fun and easy on the eyes, all while challenging kids to think mathematically. Problems range from pretty easy to able-to-stump-adults. Good thing answers are included in the back!

On the Job Math Mysteries by Prufrock Press:
(www.prufrock.com) The biggest complaint I had in math class as a child was “but I’m never going to use this!” Well, On The Job Math Mysteries shows just how useful math can be. Each page features a real world work issue that can be solved using math. This will be our first year implementing On The Job and Real Life Math Mysteries. I have high hopes for both!

Real Life Math Mysteries by Prufrock Press:
(www.prufrock.com)
How many pallets of brick will I need to complete my new poolside patio? How many plants can I grow on my ten acre farm?  Much like the above mentioned On The Job Math Mysteries, Real Life Math Mysteries features the real world use of math to solve issues.

Process Skills in Problem Solving by Fan-Math:
(http://fanmath.com.sg/singaporemath/) This workbook by Singapore Math focuses on problem solving and thinking skills for students. I like it for its small, portable size. I can throw it in my purse and pull it out while we are out. And the answers are in the back, which this mom REALLY appreciates.

Daily Word Problems Math by Evan-Moor:
(www.evan-moor.com) I find that word problems are especially challenging and thought provoking for children. This workbook offers one often tricky, multi-step word problem a day to solve, and one was all mine could handle!

Skill Builders Math by RBP Books:
(www.summerbridgeactivities.com)
Another small, helpful practice book with a variety of math and critical thinking problems with answers included in the back.

How We Do Math

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As promised, here are our current math picks.

The biggest fear of mine upon taking the homeschool leap was teaching math. I barely scraped by with a tutor in my own math classes, so the idea of guiding my children through their studies was overwhelming, and it almost prevented me from keeping them home!

Then a wise homeschooling veteran introduced me to Teaching Textbooks. The program is completely online. It’s fun and engaging, easy to understand, and slowly progressing.

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We do 2 lessons a day, 2-3 days a week, year round and this system works well for us. Right now, my 5th grade son and 7th grade daughter are each going through TT level 6 and it feels like a good fit for their individual abilities.

The best part is, I’m not involved AT ALL! Teaching Textbooks takes care of all the teaching, quizzing, and grading. This provides me with free time to take care of my own responsibilities.

A huge part of home educating is incorporating real world lessons into our studies. This is my favorite way to teach! And there are so many opportunities to do this with math. We weigh fruits and veggies at the market. The kiddos calcluate tax on purchases and figure fair tips at restaurants. They help me to make wise purchases by calculating the best deal per ounce when we’re bulk shopping. Fraction work abounds when we bake. Allowances and savings, as well as paying off personal debts that they’ve accrued (we charge a percentage for cavities that need fillings, medical bills that arise from foolish decisions, replacement of lost items, and damages caused by carelessness), are more ways we do real world math.

We also keep a stock of fun math workbooks. These are handy to have around for when laptops aren’t working and for days when I have appointments out of the house. I try to bring my children with me most everywhere I go because I think it’s good for them to learn the sacrifice of being part of a family and that it’s good to be bored! We pull out workbooks at the carwash and the doctors, on long drives and when I need to meet with a friend.

In my next post, I’ll have a small explanation of each additional math resource we use.

Home Educating

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Is anyone else in shock about summer already wrapping up?

One of the biggest roles I play in life is that of teacher.
Home educating is one of my greatest joys and biggest challenges.

Though we do school year round, during the summer months, our load is lighter and I’m much more lax. Beach trips, play dates, and Lego building marathons often win out over more formal lessons.
And I’m okay with that, because living is learning.

During the traditional school year, we choose to be more structured and my life can be almost consumed with the task of educating older students (this year I’ll have a 5th and 7th grader; GULP!).

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping to share what resources we use in our home for each subject.
I’m super excited for the new year, and I’m looking forward to this being our best year yet!