Monday, October 19, 2009

A Totally Fun Thing I'll Totally Do Again

Since I began homeschooling both of my older kids, I've been amazed (every day!) at how different their learning styles and interests are. Ian is quick to pick up foreign language, can spell and read anything, and loves to write. He learns best by reading and repetition. Allie can do math problems in her head better than I can on paper, and she loves it. She's also wildly creative and easily bored. She learns best by doing, with lots of hands-on activities and illustrations.

Their differences are rarely an issue. I do their math and English/grammar lessons separately, and our history lessons combine reading and worksheets with art projects and crafts. One area that has been a challenge, though, is our language studies. We're studying Greek and Latin. (We did study French for a bit, but scaled it back for now.) Ian looks at a word or letter once and it never leaves his head. It takes Allie longer to understand, and sometimes she gets frustrated that Ian gets it so much faster and is bored by the constant memorization. So, after reviewing and reviewing and reviewing vocabulary and making worksheet after worksheet, I finally had an idea!

Presenting: Action Kid Comics! Each panel has a Latin verb (first person singular, so it stars Ian! And Allie!) And they do exciting things like: I walk!, I work!, and I shout! (Hey, we'll get more exciting as we go along. You can't start with I destroy! or, I build an empire!) They have to remember what the word is and then illustrate each panel accordingly. Simple, right? Holy cow, they had such a blast with it. They actually were all a-flutter with glee over how to illustrate "navigo." And me? I was all a-flutter over their excitement. It was so much fun watching them draw and to see how differently they chose to interpret each one. Adoro: Ian adores Pokemon, and Allie adores Kit, her American Girl doll. Navigo: Ian drew himself as an explorer, and Allie chose to be a Viking-pirate hybrid. Laboro: Ian apparenly works for UPS and was carrying a box marked "fragile," and Allie drew herself at her desk, reading a book.

And, hooray, the words are safe and sound in the little houses built for Latin in their heads*. We can move along.

*(What?, you say? Another learning trick that's been funny and successful: We built a house for each subject in our heads, and each house has to be so wonderful that the facts never want to leave. Ian's math house is pretty elaborate, since his math facts do tend to wander, so he built them a house made of gold and gemstones and they have lots of parties and cake. Sometimes bands come and play a show for them. And voila! The multiplication facts are happy at the lovely home in Ian's brain. I kind of wish I lived in the math house, actually.)

(Whatever works, right?)

Friday, October 16, 2009

few words friday

I'm writing this snuggled up in front of a fireplace in a cozy little room in the Tennessee mountains. I'm surrounded by bear statues that would make me roll my eyes if they were anywhere else, but here they're just adorable. We'd planned on hiking this weekend, but it's so, so cold and very, very rainy. (Also: No Dollywood.) However, the kids are overjoyed to just be in a room with cable, so they're happily, quietly curled up by the warm glow of Cartoon Network, building with Lincoln Logs and drinking hot chocolate. I'm happy, too. If I decide to actually get up and do something, I'll post some pictures. Y'all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday Showed Up Too Fast (Apologies to Space Week)

Part One:
Space Week! Still goin' on, just barely. But who needs Space Week for an excuse to study (and love) space? Not us! No, sir, we're rollerskating the rings of Saturn and penning love letters to Wernher von Braun and Yuri Gagarin year 'round. So now I'm going to put down my old copy of The Right Stuff (no joke, I just finished the part where the seven astronauts first arrived in Houston) and share some of my favorite links with you. If I've missed one of your favorites, please share!
Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill: One of our favorite places to go. We've seen several of the planetarium shows there, and the kids love them all. It's fun to wander around the building, some of which is beautiful and full of old paintings and statues, and other parts are very 1950s government building basement-esque. Even that's pretty great, though, because it's easier to imagine the Mercury program astronauts walking the halls on their way to celestial navigation training. (It happened here!) We're always looking for an excuse to mosey down to Chapel Hill, and this is one of the best.
HubbleSite: More than just gorgeous pictures, this site is loaded with stargazing information, podcasts, interactive thingies, crafts, and links.
Best of the Hubble Telescope: It is what it says: A round-up of the Hubble's best. Lots of lovely.
Amazing Space: HubbleSite's sister site, with lots of information and activities for educators. They have a few worksheets on the constellations that are very informative and easy to follow.
NASA: Obviously. Great, great site with videos, pictures, space news, interactive features, and a kids' club section with games and fun stuff
Raleigh Astronomy Club: Another site for the locals. Look for astronomy clubs where you live! They're great for offering stargazing sessions and classes, and are always excited to share their knowledge with curious kids and their geeky moms.
EvaDot: This site has some good podcasts on inpsiring our kids to learn and love science, invention, and exploration.
The Russian Archives give a nice little tribute to the first man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
(Speaking of Yuri, celebrate Yuri's Night every April 12!)
I Spy Space: This site has a thorough chronology of space exploration and several good articles. I especially liked the artices on Grissom and Chaffee.
Dreams of Space: Two of my favorite, favorite things in one place! Vintage children's books + space = bliss. (Also check out the blog that goes along with this site, and then go to see Space Alphabet, which someone posted on Flickr. Joy!)

Pay respect to Laika, our favorite muttnik.
Starchild: Videos and articles on space and space travel Yup, lots of Space...videos, news, forums, etc.
Astronomy (for Kids): Astronomy Magazine's kid section, with videos and articles on observation, nativation, and the solar system.

This is just the beginning! Stay tuned, my little star sailors, for part two, coming (hopefully!) very soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

(Halfway Through) World Space Week

(Black Hole, by Allie)

Hi, all. Like the title says, we're halfway through World Space Week, which is no small deal in our house. Later today, I'll post some of my favorite spacey links and resources that we're enjoying this week and all the other weeks as well. Right now we're getting up & atom, and here in a bit we're going to go to the IMAX theater to watch a 3D movie on Mummies.

(A Star, Close Up, by Ian)

(The Universe, by Annie)