My Family

My Family

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Writing about Kinetic Learning

     I'm happy to pass on some good news, well I think it's good news! lol I've written about our son being a kinetic learner and I was talking to someone about how I've had to create a few things while homeschooling our son because of his learning style. The woman I talked to about it is associated with "The Old Schoolhouse Magazine" and she's asked me to write a column on their website that is associated with the magazine. The column is being called Kinetic Connections, I had wanted it to be
called Kinetic Konnections but with it being associated with homeschooling she felt it wouldn't be appropriate to have one of the words in the title spelled wrong. I guess I see her point so it really doesn't bother me too much. I'm also excited and nervous at the same time. Excited about being asked to write a column but nervous about being able to come up with a theme for an article and write it on a weekly basis! It actually isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be because I guess I write so much that they have broken up my first two articles into installments for this month and next so I guess my only big concern is to come up with ideas for each article.
     So far, I've been writing a couple articles for each subject we've been working on with our son. That will only work for so long though. There aren't that many different subjects you can teach a child, at least until they get to high school. We won't be working on high school subjects for a while though. I've covered math and geography in my column so far and I'm working on an article about early learning next. Probably teaching a child their alphabet and numbers.
     I think I'll also post my articles here in my blog, unless the magazine has a problem with my doing it. Who knows, maybe some of my ideas will not only help other homeschoolers who are teaching a kinetic learner, but also children who have other learning styles. If anyone who reads my blog also homeschools a child who is a kinetic learner, I would love to hear from you if you have anything I can make any suggestions about. I like to help people if I can and I've always been pretty creative too.
If you subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, here's a link about my articles:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Help for New Homeschoolers

     Looking back, I really wish I had been able to connect with someone who would have been willing to give me a few tips, suggestions, and help getting started homeschooling. When we started, I had never heard of lapbooking, notebooking, unit studies, or had any clue about sites where I could find curriculum to homeschool our son.That was about six years ago and I have made connections, found homeschooling groups, and wonderful websites to help with homeschooling him.

     If I were to give advice to someone who is starting to homeschool their child(ren) now, I would tell them that homeschooling is totally different from public school. For one, you aren't teaching a whole class of children so you don't have to spend an hour teaching each subject, making sure each of those students understand what is being taught. Instead, you can teach until your children "get" what you are teaching, let them do a few problems, half a page, or all of a page of of whatever you are working on. Go at your own pace instead of what some school district or department of education tells you to. You can teach the basics of the three "Rs" or teach your child what he or she wants to know about a certain subject, like dinosaurs, robots, or princesses for example. Above all, you can have fun with your children while they learn too. That's probably the most important thing about homeschooling I think, finding fun in learning!

I think it would be really hard to say that I have one specific site I love to use while homeschooling. However, I think I could say I have two favorites with several taking a close second to them. One favorite site It's really great for free and low cost curriculum but it also has some wonderful free downloads that really helped me to learn a few things about homeschooling, like lapbooks, notebooks, and unit studies along with some really great tips for getting started homeschooling too. I finally found the site in our second or third year of homeschooling and probably visit the site on at least a weekly basis. My other favorite is which is a site where you can download an unlimited number of absolutely free books. The only thing is, the books are so old that their copyrights have expired. Even with that stipulation, I have found numerous books we have used through the years while homeschooling. I've downloaded curriculum like the entire set of McGuffey Readers, books about classical composers, and also inventors to name a few. Also, I've downloaded several books just for reading too. Our son really liked Tom Sawyer but didn't like Alice in Wonderland as well.

     I've mentioned lapbooks a couple times and you may be wondering what they are. I've used them two ways that I can think of while homeschooling although I'm sure there are probably other ways they could be used too. There are some wonderful companies out there that sell premade lapbooks but there are also many people who put them together for their children, then offer them for free download for others to use to their hearts desire too. Here's a list of sites where you can find lapbooks. I would strongly suggest trying one from a company that sells them before trying one by someone who is sharing because they usually give really good directions on how to put them together. Then, you could either look around to see what you can find that someone has posted or even give it a try making one of your own. Of course, that's my suggestion which you don't really have to follow if you don't want to. Here's my list:
Hands of a Child ( a company that sells them.
A Journey Through Learning ( a company that sells them.
Knowledge Box Central ( a company that sells them at great prices.
All three of these companies have some kind of free lapbook. Either a free lapbook every quarter or one if you sign up for their newlsetter. a site for free lapbooks people share they have created. a site where someone shares the lapbooks they have created, mostly religious but beautiful. a site where two ladies share the lapbooks they have made with their children. One of my favorites! a site where people have posted lapbooks they have created to download for free.

     Notebooks are also good to use with children while homeschooling although personally, they are better with older children who are able to write to an extent. After all, if you think about it the name implies to me that there is writing expected to get them done. Again, there are quite a few sites out there. Our son isn't much of a writer so I don't have much of a list yet. I'll probably find more once our son is older and can be expected to write more.
Hands of a Child ( a company that sells them. a site where two ladies share the notebooks they have made with their children. someone who makes her own notebooks for her children and shares them to download for free.

     Personally, I think unit studies are FANTASTIC! I really love them and our son seems to like them too. Basically, you can pick a topic and teach or learn with your child all kinds of information about that topic. Many times, you can incorporate many different subjects while teaching or learning about that subject too. For instance, a short time ago our son and I did a unit study to introduce our son to classical composers. During that time, not only did he learn about the composers and some of their music but he also learned about musical instruments, the orchestra, some geography, and history. It was great because while we did our study, our son went from not being interested in classical music to actually liking it. Right now, we're doing a unit about the seasons and US geography at the same time so you can actually do more than one unit at the same time or you can just focus on one unit at a time. You can also either purchase a unit study that someone else has already put together or do one on your own. Here's a list of sites I have gotten unit studies from although I'm sure there are others out there: You can find units created by several different publishers. Some of them are really great but some could be better too. Many are offered for a really great price though.
Intellego Unit Studies ( a company created by a mom of a special needs child. The units cover the basic subjects like science, government, and history. Many of their products are also offered at, some of them in bundles where you can get a discount for purchasing more than one study. Our son loves several of the studies we have done so far but there has been one or two he didn't like. We have used these unit studies for several years.
Amanda Bennett Unit Studies ( a company created by a homeschool mom. Our son has enjoyed most of the unit studies we have tried so far but we have only done them for a few months. Check out the weekly specials!

Hopefully after you have read this article, you have found something useful to help you homeschool. I know I would have appreciated reading someone's blog years ago when we started but I don't think I even knew what a blog was then and even if I did, I didn't know how to go about finding one specific to homeschooling. Although I know our son has learned quite a bit over the years since we first started homeschooling, I have too. I've learned how to find materials I need to teach our son a subject, how to search for sites with downloads that are helpful too, also I've learned to be patient with our son more too. Lastly, I've learned not to worry the big things because they will fall into line most of the time while we deal with each day, learning together as it goes along.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Learning About Composers

     I recently contacted the people at Amanda Bennett Unit Studies to see if they knew whether children diagnosed with autism were successful with their studies, especially children my son's age. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of four so we have dealt with a LOT of ups and downs for the last six years. I've learned that certain ways of teaching him works really well and certain ways works really poorly. I've also learned that certain techniques designed for all children do not necessarily work either! I don't recall the company telling me whether or not they knew that children with autism were successful using their studies but they did offer to let me try two of their products of my choice with our son. In exchange, I would write my opinion and experiences with them. I decided that I would write two different articles, one for each because I choose to try one of their Download N Go products and one of their Unit Study Adventures. Since the Download N Go is only supposed to be a one week study and the Unit Study Adventures is designed to be a four week study, I choose the one week study and let our son choose the four week study. One reason for this is because I have been wanting to introduce our son to composers of classical music along with their music and I thought that if I let my son choose the longer study, that he would want to learn the materials more than something I would possibly choose. So, we have completed the one week study during a break of the longer study and it's time for me to write about the experience. Here goes:
     Creative Composers is a one week study about five composers and their works with some information about the orchestra and the instruments included in it. There is SO much information included that you could easily make it into a two week study as long as you don't do all the the materials that are suggested or possibly longer if you really want to study JUST those five composers intently using ALL The suggestions included in the study believe it or not! 
     When we first started our study, our son didn't like the music he was being introduced to although I had played classical music a lot in the past while he was working on his schoolwork. The study depends on a lot of internet use so since some of the information is You Tube videos, since our internet is not exactly the fastest thing on the planet, I found a site called that allowed me to download the videos to my computer so we could watch them without the long hesitations that kept happening when we tried to watch them. This meant that I had to download the next days videos I would be using during the night before because they did take quite some time for each download. Each day had several videos so although I didn't mind doing it, it did become a slight inconvenience over time.
     The lapbook that is included with the study is really nice but I also had to download it before starting so it could be cut out and put together in preparation to starting our study too. Some people may be able to just print it out and let their children do the cutting and putting together but since our son doesn't like to do much cutting, I usually do it when we are doing a lapbook and have him help me put them together as we make the lapbook. This time, I decided that since I wanted the lapbook put together in the order that the activities happen, that I would go ahead and put it together and let our son add some decorations to it as we went along if he wanted to. The different parts of the lapbook don't require a lot of writing like so many other lapbooks we've put together in the past. In fact, some of the information our son wrote only required the name of the composer to be written down. Other parts needed a little more information but not that much per day. Once that part is completed, it a nice little booklet with some wonderful information about each composer. I wish the lapbook had included blank pages that you could fill in about other composers so you could use it if you continue learning about other composers once you have completed the study. I think I may be able to make it on my own down the line though. 
     A game is also included with the study. I kind of wish there was a pocket included so we could store it in our lapbook. Since one isn't included, I plan on making one since our son and grandson enjoy playing the game. One problem we had is that there are so many pieces, the boys won't play the entire game. I actually split the game into parts that have composers on them and parts that have instruments on them so we really have two games instead of one which actually works better. That way, each boy can play a game on their own if they want.
     When we started our study, our son didn't like the music AT ALL! He thought the music was boring and he told me he wanted to go to sleep. I was really disappointed because I really enjoy this kind of music. In fact, my plan when we started the study is to keep on learning about different composers one day a week using this study as a sample. I was sweating bullets at this point! As each day went on though, our son started liking the music more and more. Even our grandson would come sit on my lap and watch the videos that are included that show fireworks while you listen to the music. Sometimes, some of the others too. I think it's safe to say those were both boys favorite parts of the study in fact, fireworks to music.
     There are some really great sites that are included with the study. My favorite site that is included with the Amanda Bennett study about classical composers is Not only does it include information about the composers included in the study, it also includes information about a lot of other composers I would like to continue studying. It also offers some really nice downloads, like word searches, pictures to color, and an employment application. I know, I know, an employment application? My son and I would pretend to fill it out for the composer in question, as if he were applying for a job with an orchestra here in the US today. 
     Ages ago, when I first started thinking about teaching our son about classical music and their composers, I got a membership to you can also find them on Facebook here: Every month, the people who created the site pick a composer of their choice. When you get an email from their site, letting you know a new composer page has been created for the month, you simply click and log in, then you are taken to a page with a picture of a painting or drawing of the composer and the years the composer was alive with a brief biography of the composer below that. Then, lower down are links to other sites, short videos, and music downloads. Short but sweet with a lot of valuable information. A very valuable source if you are studying this topic in my opinion! If you would like to get an idea of
what the site offers, they have several freebies about different people, a Handel composer resource, a Monet artist resource, and a free sample of Fine Art Pages. Just go to the site I mentioned a couple sentences ago. I used a bunch of the material I've collected from the site and already had downloaded since becoming a member of the site that saved me a whole lot of time downloading some of the other videos. Especially because some of the videos that are included with the unit study by Amanda Bennett aren't able to download with the KeepVid site that I use for some reason. Most of them are simply the same music they suggested, just done by someone else. So I really only substituted the person performing, not the piece they suggest you listen to. The rest of the composers they have done in the past will be a wonderful starting point to studying more composers. Course Classical Composers has also included links to the other site Amanda Bennett mentioned so I guess it really is a good site for someone who is teaching about composers to use.
     So, what is my opinion of a child with autism doing a Download N Go study by Amanda Bennett? Well.... The studies are short and sweet so if your child gets bored learning about a topic he's not targeted on, like my son is with dinosaurs, it's a good way to encourage your child to learn about something new. You could always do one lesson in the study a week instead of doing the entire study in a week I suppose! They cover a wide range of material while also targeting one subject. We learned some geography and history that our son didn't notice he was learning, which I loved! If your child is targeted on one of the topics of the Unit Study Adventures, then one of those may be great for your child to do instead. I wonder if I could get them to do one on dinosaurs? Hmmmm, something to think about. lol

Friday, April 19, 2013

Teaching Government in a New Way!

There's a giveaway going on RIGHT now that might teach your children Government and even a little American History in a slightly new way. I really like it and I think it would even FINALLY catch our 10 year old's attention finally! I'm hoping we'll win a set because I'm not sure I would be able to afford it myself but who knows, if we don't win it I may see if we could swing picking up a set some way. If I have your attention, I guess it's time I tell you about the set and give you a link to take a look yourself.
The set is about Dubs, a golden retriever who loses his tennis ball and visits Washington, D. C. while looking for it in the first book. While there, he visits the country's great memorial sites--Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Air and Space, etc.--and learns something new about America and its greatness.
In the second book, Dubs actually runs for President against Felix the Cat. lol A fun, charming story  presents a cute, non-partisan look at how party politics and presidential elections work in America--and lets kids hunt for the missing ball along the way.
In the last book, Dubs and his friend Daisy go to Philadelphia to see the birthplace of the nation's Constitution. They visit the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin's home, Congress Hall and other fun places where our great nation wrote its charter and built the foundations of freedom for all. As usual, they also play with their tennis ball along the way.
All three books also come with  a plush Dubs in the giveaway. Are you ready to find out where it is
now? Well, here's the link:
The set is actually designed for children ages 4-8 but I think our autistic son would enjoy reading them and may even interest him to learn more about each topic although I'm pretty sure he won't be interested in the plush. Yes, he's older than the target range but sometimes children with autism tend to like things designed for children younger than they are. Besides, I'm pretty sure our grand daughter would love the plush! lol 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Are you ready for Easter?

     Good question, isn't it? There are so many ways this question can be taken. Are you teaching your child about Easter? Is it more than white bunny rabbits and eggs? If you are teaching your children about what Easter is really about, I'm in the same boat. I've found some really fantastic resources to do it with too! All of them are absolutely free also which for me helps an awful lot. You just have to pay for the printing if it's needed. Some of them are going to take you a little extra time to prepare but I think they will really help your child understand what you are teaching them.
     One site I really love for downloading free materials that I usually send to an office supply store and have them printed is the parent site or the newer site. You may want to take a peek at both sites because the publisher hasn't moved everything from his original, parent site to his newer site.  They are really great sites for 3D manipulatives. I've downloaded some dinosaur paper dinosaur toys for our son from the site. Our son LOVES them! Also, I've downloaded an entire set of 3D paper toys that you can put together to create an entire town of Bethlehem for the Christmas season. I've also downloaded a really cute 3D paper model of the rock room where the body of Jesus was placed after he was crucified. There's also a 3D picture you can put together and put on the wall.
     Now, for my favorite site for homeschooling materials...! Right now, the site is offering ten freebies to teach our son about Easter. The thing is, they are all hidden throughout the site as an Easter Egg Hunt for adults. lol Sometimes it can be pretty interesting and sometimes it can be pretty challenging. All the eggs have a link on Pintrest but a lot of people end up having to log on every time they use the link from Pintrest so that can be quite a hassle so I'm going to post the directions for each of the "eggs" here on my blog. I put the exact area on the site where you can find the egg link for the freebie. Next, in parenthesis I give directions where to find the exact area, then the title of the freebie, finally the publisher of the freebie. Here's the list:
 1. "About Currclick" (Main Page at bottom) for The Death and Resurrection of a King Lapbook with Study Guide by A Journey Through Learning
2. "About CurrClick Live" (Main Pate at bottom) for An Easter Adventure by Scripture Adventures
3. "Free Clubs" (left margin, Quick links, Main Page) for Simply Spring by Rainbow Horizons Publishing
4. "Live Classess" (left margin, main page) for Easter Skip Counting Cards by Eastern Wind Academy
5. "Hybrid Live classes" (left margin, under browse, live classes) for Anti-Coloring Book of Red-Letter Days by Anticoloring Books
6. "Publisher, Progeny Press" (left margin, under browse, click publishers then click Progeny Press) for Pockets of Time for Junie B Jones, First Grader: Dumb Bunny from Fortunately for You Books
7. Teachable Moments (left margin, main page) for A Roman Centurion's Story by Brandenburg Studies
8. Updated Products (Account tab at top of page) for Happy Easter Activity Booklet by Roots and Wings Homeschool
9. All products awaiting my review (Account tab at top of page) for Resurrection Copywork Project Lapbook by The Whole Word Publishing
10. My Library (My Library tab at top of page) for Stories from the Life of Christ Told to the Children by Heritage History
Now, not all of these freebies deal with what Easter is really about so once you download them, you will have to decide whether or not you are going to actually use all of them! Of course, there is  enough information that Easter will be taken care of for a couple years unless you cover material quickly with your children.
Also, on the main page, every week Currclick offers a product to download for free. This week, you can get Early Elementary Fractions WorkText (Textbook and Workbook) by A+Tutorsoft although the Easter freebies will be available until the first of April. By then, the freebie on the main page will change. Now this freebie has absolutely nothing to do with Easter but it's still nice to get free materials to help homeschool our children.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Having Fun with Science

I was looking for something to teach our son that was both fun and had something to do with science a while ago and went looking on the internet when I remembered reading about slime. Having three older sons, I remembered how much fun they had when they were younger playing with the stuff! I found several sites with how tos, instructions, and suggestions to the point that I was almost overwhelmed. I finally got it down to three sets of instructions that had the basics in common but with amounts differing. I then got busy and found all the materials needed to make slime, borax being the most difficult ingredient. Although the directions sound a little difficult to follow, it's really pretty easy to make slime. Since it's so easy, I thought I would share how to make it, whether you need a science lesson or just want to have a little fun with your children.

Glue (white clue is cheaper but clear glue will make a clear slime. I even used some glitter glue)
Water (broke open a couple highlighters and soaked wick inside in water for a couple days)
Food Color is optional

You will be making two solutions and combining the two to make the slime. In a bowl, pour your glue out of the bottle and refill with either clear or colored water and add to the glue in the bowl. I used a combination of glitter glue and clear glue. About one ounce of glitter glue and about four ounces of the other. If you want to use food color to color your slime, add three or four drops at this point. I used water that I had soaked the insides of a couple highlighters for a couple days, one blue and one yellow. Stir until the glue and water are combined. In another container, measure one cup of warm water and add one Tablespoon of Borax. Stir until the Borax is dissolved. Now, using a spoon slowly add the Borax solution to the glue solution while stirring. You will almost immediately feel the slime starting to form! You may not want to add all the borax solution depending on how firm you want your slime. Once your slime is too firm to stir, you can take out the spoon and continue mixing with your hands.

The borax is acting as the crosslinking agent or "connector" for the glue (polyvinyl acetate) molecules. Once the glue molecules join together to form even larger molecules called polymers, you get a thickened gel very similar to slime. If you have access to a chemical supply house, try a 4% solution of polyvinyl alcohol instead of the glue for a less rubbery polymer and one that is transparent showing off the color better. Another way to explain the science is to take a necklace and explain that the glue solution is like a pile of links, not connected. Once you add the borax solution, it's like having the links connect into a necklace.

I hope you enjoy making slime as much as our son and I did if you decide to give it a try. I know that not only did our nine year old son enjoy playing with it, so did our four your old grandson, my twenty four year old son, and our son's entire Cub Scout Pack at our recent Blue and Gold Banquet had a blast with it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Teaching Our Special Needs Child to Read

     Homeschooling a special needs child can be so challenging but also so rewarding sometimes. I used to tutor children when I was in school. I usually helped those that were younger than me but were also among the worst readers in their class or grade. A lot of times, they were children who just didn't catch on how to read with the rest of their class and ended up having to just go along with each reading assignment. I found the easiest way to help them learn to read was to teach them basic phonics skills. Our youngest son has been diagnosed with autism and reading delay. When it was time to start teaching him to read, I tried phonics since it had been so successful in the past. Well, guess what? Each and every time we worked on reading both of us were near tears! After trying phonics for a couple weeks, I went on the internet and searched for something that was designed to teach reading to special needs children. The program wasn't cheap but we found a way to get it. Once we got the program, I spent about a week reading over how to use it. For a couple months, we were doing fine but by the time we got to a certain point we came to a screeching halt. I called the company to see if they had any suggestions on how to continue going forward but pretty much everything they suggested, I had already tried. After trying and trying and trying to work through the step that had us stumped for more than a month. I finally remembered my mom showing me a copy of my grandmother's McGuffey Reader years before. I did a search to see if they were still available and was lucky to come across a wonderful site that posts books whose copyright has expired. I was able to download the entire collection for free!
     We've been using McGuffey Readers for about a year and a half. We took a summer off but when we started back at the end of the vacation, our son had forgotten just about every lesson he had heard so we had to start over again from nearly the beginning of the book. I believe our son is a kinetic learner, he does best when he has things like manipulative to work with. I designed my own flashcards with a word processing program that allows me to make a flashcard for each new word that is introduced in each lesson. I have our son do various activities like putting words in alphabetical order, using a word in a sentence, and matching the words to definitions.
     The good news is that after about a year now, our son is almost finished with the first reader. He's still not confident with his reading abilities. He's actually much better at reading than he thinks he is. We're trying to encourage him to read on his own. One thing we're doing is giving him extra time to play on his Wii for every book he reads. Another thing we're doing is having him read every other sentence at night instead of reading his books to him.