First off, what does kinetic mean for me? Well, the dictionary says kinetic means "1. pertaining to motion. 2. caused by motion. 3. characterized by movement: Running and dancing are kinetic activities." For me, it means hands-on activities, actually doing activities and not reading about them. How does that pertain to kinetic learning? It means doing activities, like making a salt dough or sugar cookie map in 3-D format instead of drawing a map on a piece of paper or making hard tack and other foods of the American Revolution and camping outside in cold weather to better help our son understand what it was like at Valley Forge. Add in the term Homeschooling a kinetic learner for me is really special for some children. Those are the children who really have problems learning in school. These are the group of children who have a lot of problems sitting for long periods of time and comprehending information from what they read. They don't learn from just reading, but need to do activities that help teach what they are learning about.
Our twelve year old son is diagnosed with autism and we've been homeschooling him since the age of four. We started homeschooling him just after learning his diagnosis and tried doing many of the techniques my husband and I were taught in school with. The only problem was, those very same techniques didn't work very well with our son for some reason! It took us a while and a lot of research, trying different teaching techniques. Over time, we figured out our son was a kinetic learner. If you try reading a chapter of history about any topic, then ask our son questions about what was read, he will have a totally blank look on his face. Now, change up the techniques by having him draw pictures while a chapter is read. Go outside and act out some of the activities or use plastic toys and act out the activities with them on the floor or with a container of sand like Paul Revere's ride or use several wood stakes and string to better understand the size of the Mayflower or a pioneer cabin for instance and you'll be doing activities to help teach a kinetic learner.
One thing we've done a lot of has been unit studies. There are actually companies which create unit studies and we've purchased products from two of them, Amanda Bennett Unit Studies and Intellego Unit Studies. One problem I've come across Amanda Bennett Unit Studies over the last year is that some of her unit studies are available from one website while some of her other unit studies are available from another website! It's really confusing and frustrating when one of the websites offers one sale for certain products and the other website offers a sale on other products, especially when only one of the websites offers a really fantastic sale website wide that isn't available on the other website. As far as Intellego Unit studies goes, when we first started using the studies I found out the products were actually designed by the parent of a special needs child and are designed with these types of children in mind. The only problem with many of their products is that many of the links in the products are no longer available to access. Once that happens, the company tries to find other websites that are close to the ones originally written into the studies, but in my opinion many of them really don't mesh as well as they should. Another problem when this has happened, the company will depend on the same substitute website too many times within the same chapter, which ruins the flow of learning for our son a lot of the time.
Since we've been doing unit studies quite a lot over the years, we've decided to try our hand at creating our own unit studies this year. So, what are some of the activities we do while studying? Here's an example of some of the activities we'll be doing while studying Ancient History, Ancient Egypt to be exact:
- Create and paint a 3D map of Egypt
- Print and complete “My Book About Egypt” by Bonnie Rose
- Download and put together a paper model of a pyramid
- Download and put together a paper model of a sphinx
- Make our own “papyrus”
- Write name using hieroglyphics on a cartouche
- Make a mummy mask
- Make a mummy case
- Watch videos about ancient Egypt, including Horrible History
- Download and make paper dolls wearing Ancient Egyptian clothing
- Make own Ancient Egypt clothing outfit
- Play the Ancient Egyptian game of Senet
- Have an Egyptian Banquet
- Create page for time travel scrapbook
I know that many of us just don't have the time to first do the research about an ancient civilization, then further research for activities that teach about the same ancient civilization. Next, to purchase supplies you don't already have for those activities and time to plan to actually do those activities. If you don't have the time, but do have the funds to purchase ready made kits, there are many companies that have created kits for schools and homeschoolers, so children can try their hand at making so many different activities. The only problem is, many of these activities will probably cost quite a few dollars. One company is called History Unboxed and another is Art in History. While History Unboxed offers a wide range of activities and crafts, Art in History only offers ceramic products. Both offer products one civilization at a time products although History Unboxed offers an entire year long special program at the beginning of each school year. We bought a subscription to the year long program from History Unboxed a month ago and have already received our first two boxes, but we have only started using the first box recently. I'll post about their program in a couple months, once we've really had a chance to try the program further. I also plan to try a couple of Art in History's products soon and I'll post about those too.
Between the problem of being able to afford ready-made products and finding the time to do research to teach our children, for many of us is a very difficult balancing act. I know there are many bloggers who have had the time to research and create, it's just a matter of finding the right blog or two, to help us find the right activities for our children to learn about ancient civilizations. I spent most of the summer reading many of them. Unfortunately, many of the same activities are duplicated on the blogs although you will find some absolutely fantastic and creative activities from time to time and blog to blog. Once you find a few blogs with different activities perfect for your children, you might consider searching those blogs for different ancient civilizations and activities. After all, if one blogger has just the right activities to fit your needs, there's an excellent chance the same blogger will have some perfect activities to help with the entire ancient history timeline you choose to teach your children about.
As far as websites to help with teaching your children, I would like to suggest a few gems I have found over the years and have already found quite useful to teach about ancient civilizations:
- http://gutenberg.org/ is a fantastic website with free digital books you can download to your hearts content! The only drawback is that each and every one of the books offered on the website has expired copyrights, so you already know all the books offered are pretty old. Ancient Civilizations have been around for a while, so many of the books you will find will probably still be very helpful to you.
- http://betterworldbooks.com/ is another fantastic website I love visiting often, especially when the site is having a sale! The site has a bargain bin with a really great price on books. While from time to time I have bought a book somewhere else on the site, most of the time I've purchased our books from this area of the site. I personally prefer library binding on my books, which seem to be a better quality of binding and last longer. Also, most of them have dust covers, which help the books stay in better condition over time, especially with little fingers using them a lot. Better still, the site doesn't do shipping charges so shipping is absolutely FREE!
- http://cp.c-ij.com/en/special/real/index.html#pcCategoryArea-0 will take you to the Canon Creative Park. This website I've used for history, geography, and science. They are wonderful free color paper models you can download and print, although many of them have really tiny pieces you'll have to cut out and glue together. These paper models are wonderful for older children to put together or if you're like me, have an adult print and put them together, then use them to help your children better understand what the buildings or vehicles looked like when they were built.
- http://papertoys.com/ is another website where you will find a wide range of paper models. While a majority of them are black and white, some of them are in color. The models are a little tough to download and are pretty small, they are still very educational and most of them easier for older children to build.
- https://practicalpages.wordpress.com/free-pages/paper-dolls/ is actually a homeschooler's blog, but her and her daughter have created some really amazing paper dolls and paper men from many historical periods and civilizations including ancient history, medieval history, Edwardian, Victorian, and many others. Although there are a couple other websites I'm planning on using from time to time, this is the best one in my opinion. The other websites have dolls that aren't as close to true human anatomy as this one is although the others are in color, I still think this site is the best. It also gives you more options to choose from for clothing too. You are welcome to search for another website if this one doesn't suit your needs.
- http://www.activityvillage.co.uk has a wide range of craft ideas, along with printables, coloring pages and puzzles. Don't go to this site JUST for history though! It's a great site for just about any subject you can name with a wide range of activities to help teach your child(ren).