Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back to School- Some Resources

So it is about that time of year, where everyone who homeschools is ready to start back at their work.
This usually coincides with the arrival of the new school supplies, and the mother's eagerness to start increases exponentially with the number of new books she has to try out!

Well, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but if you have been there, I am sure you know the feeling!
That being said, I have a few things I want to share.  Partly for me, and partly for everyone else ;).

If you want to teach vocabulary to your kids, as a subject rather than as an incidentally taught thing, you might like these resources.

Free Rice (of course)
vocabulary/10997 (apparently also has an iPad app)

Wordly Wise (you can apparently do a lot online)

SAT vocab tests

and lots on Quizlet- which is a fabulous flashcard site.  You can see other people's sets, make your own and join groups.  There are several iPad apps that work with it too.

If you are a little leery of the rather expensive grammar programs out there, maybe you would like to have one of these vintage grammar books?

Emma Serl's Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons have long been popular amongst homeschoolers.  I also discovered this site with some workbooks for the former on it.
Sheldon has a bunch of grammar books for free online.  His Primary Language Lessons can be found here.

William Henry Maxwell has a whole series of grammar books.  These actually go through a composition course too.

1.  First Book in English
2.  Introductory Lessons in English Grammar.
3.  Advance Lessons in English Grammar.
4.  School Composition
5.  Writing in English.

In fact there are also speech books and other grammars too... it is well worth trawling through his works on Google books or Google play :) (Google Play also has an iPad app).
Mary Frances Hyde has a number of them too.
Practical Lessons in the Use of English (Part I)
Practical Lessons in the Use of English (Part 2)

So, if you are interested in other grammars or vintage books available, you can check out these two threads from The Well Trained Mind Forums.  Vintage GrammarsVintage Books.

Other favourites of ours are the McGuffey Readers and the McGuffey Speller.
Eclectic Primer
First Eclectic Reader
Second Eclectic Reader
Third Eclectic Reader  (This one is a Google Play book, so I hope the link works for you :))
Fourth Eclectic Reader
Fifth Eclectic Reader
Sixth Eclectic Reader
Eclectic Spelling Book
(here is an outline of how one mother uses the McGuffey spelling book).

Between these resources, you can find yourself with a pretty amazing course of language arts!

(all the images on this page come from the books mentioned here).
I have mentioned several iPad apps, because I have first hand knowledge of them.  There are probably Android apps too, and maybe a Nook or Kindle app or two, I just don't know anything about them :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Peter Rabbit Study

I decided once again to do a Beatrix Potter/Peter Rabbit Study.  I have had a little help- from these three sites, and I have adapted them for a slightly different crowd.
Homeschool Share Unit Study:
This is a nice, fairly comprehensive study using the Potter books.  I would venture that you would work from topic to topic, using the recommended books, and each topic (i.e. rabbits/mice) would take approximately a week to do.  The age range is diverse, about 2nd grade and up.
Elizabeth Foss' Unit Study:
This study is aimed at a much younger audience, with a few things thrown in for the older students.  I would say the age range is Pre-K through about 3rd or 4th grade.
Nevertheless, it is a lovely study, well scripted.  It needs a few adjustments as it is not in a final format and you will have to adapt the reading suggestions to your own family.
Mary's Potter Study Links:
Mary has not really made a study you can follow here, but she has shared a wealth of links that are truly very useful.  Worth the browse :)

So, now my adaptation.

Week 1:  Peter.

My Dear Noel - The Story of a Letter From Beatrix Potter by Jane Johnson
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Mr. Tod by Beatrix Potter
The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Read Aloud: The Fairy Caravan by Beatrix Potter

Biography: The Country Artist by David R. Collins and Nothing is Impossible by Dorothy Aldis

Mama Craft: making Tams like Benjamin Bunny's tam stolen from Mr. McGregor's garden.

Teatime: Currant buns.  Try this hot cross bun recipe, just leave off the cross :)

History: mark the main events of Beatrix's life on a timeline.  Add in the publishing dates of each book as you read it.

Art: Read one of the biographies for Artist study.  And then for picture study, choose a favourite picture from Peter Rabbit and work with it.
Play with watercolours for an art project.

Language Arts: the homeschool share unit has a few language arts suggestions, either use these or Primary Language Lessons which can be found in Google Books.
Have your child read from your selected reader each day, or alternatively, alternate readings from one of the Beatrix Potter books with your child.
Elizabeth Foss suggests William Blake's the Lamb as this week's poetry selection.  Walter de la Mare and Christina Rossetti are also contemporary poet's of Beatrix Potter's that you might enjoy reading instead.

Science: the homeschool share unit has a few science things relating to rabbits.  Try to meet some in person- either at a pet shop or with a friend who owns them if you don't have any of your own.

Nature Study:  Beatrix is well known for taking walks around the countryside near her home- and she painted it often.  Why not do the same for your garden or local area you walk in.

Gardening: it is not too late to plant some salad vegetables.  The homeschool share unit has some good vegetable related activities.

Geography: Working with maps, mark the areas in which Beatrix lived or stayed.  Look at the book Beatrix Potter's Lakeland for lovely visuals.  Google maps the area in which she lived.

Extras: watch the video versions of the Beatrix Potter books- your local library will probably have them.
Take a look through this site which is well worth looking at :)

More later!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In Praise of the Old

So, having worked our way through half of 'The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading' (OPG), my 8 year old was getting bored.   She hated the stories, and reading was becoming very much the chore.
The problem with that, is that I am trying desperately to teach her that she should LOVE to read.  How can I teach that if the very book I am teaching her to read with doesn't help?

For a little while I had tried "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" (100 EZ).  She liked it better, but I found that she was developing some bad habits reading wise (she is, I believe, very slightly dyslexic) and I switched back.
And then I found the McGuffey readers were all online now- for free.  I downloaded a copy onto my new Christmas iPad, and started working through it with her.
What a refreshing change!  Suddenly she is EAGER to read the stories.  The old fashioned pictures capture her imagination and can be used to actually entice her to read.  Vocabulary is built into it, and it even teaches her to read script!

The cute fuzzy animals that frequently appear in the pictures help too ;)

Now, I should state that I find that both the other books I mentioned are fabulous reading books.  They have definitely helped us learn the letters, and different letter blends too.  In fact, I would think you could easily use OPG as a way to learn some of the letter blends as they appear in the McGuffey readers.  It is just that, for a child who finds reading a little difficult, or is a lot harder to motivate and make them WANT to read, a book like this is a gem.
Once we have her cursive writing lessons finished, she will end up copying the script sections in the readers too.

This is the picture that convinced her to read today. 
You can see the script here.

There is also a High School reader.  I think I shall work with my son through the readers too.  He has a few bad reading habits that need to be broken!

Speaking of my 12 year old, I have a few words in praise of the old for him too.  I have found that he positively loves the classics.  He has been reading through Anne of Green Gables, and before that worked through Tom Sawyer.  I cannot say he is the fast reader I am.  In fact he is an easily distracted reader (unless it is a book that is totally unrelated to school, in which case he is FAST and cannot be distracted from reading).  But he has discovered a love for the classics.  The giggles and chuckles heard from his corner when reading the Hobbit (although I really wish he had not learned some of the sayings in there- we have had an outbreak of 'Shut yer gob' ever since!) or Oliver Twist are a balm to a mother's heart.  I have all kinds of other stories lined up for him.  If he would just READ faster!

If you are interested in reading with classics or Old Fashioned books, you might enjoy these links.  I am not affiliated with any of them, neither do I control what you will find there- so be warned ;)

For a complete set of the McGuffey Books, hardbound and with a teacher's guide by Ruth Beechick, you can go to Mott Media and get them.

An Old Fashioned Education has some really good resources.  You can pretty much homeschool for free there :)

The Baldwin Online Children'sLiterature Project is a huge selection of wonderful old books that have been transcribed and put online for free.  You can also buy them from the site in real book and ebook format :)

Project Gutenberg is the best free ebook site online- you can get all the classics and public domain texts you want here.

Sacred Texts have some good free ebooks.  They also have a nice selection of Fairy Tales.

The Internet Archive has a huge selection of books to choose from.

Ambleside, of course, has a library of books and links to their choices online.

There are lots of free scanned books at Google Books online too.

Now, when it comes down to it, you can do several things with the books.  I prefer to download the Pdf format and read it on my iPad with my daughter- so she can see the pictures.
Otherwise I download the kindle or epub formats.  The former I can read on my iPad, the latter I can read on the iPad or the Nook (so it is my preferred format because I use it with my son).
If you like, you can also print out and bind it separately.