Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning Through Games

It's such a dreary day today. Makes me want to curl up and go to sleep somewhere and wake up again when it's bright and sunny out. But since I can't do that, I decided to look around and find something fun to do. I found some great word play games to play around with for a while. These look great. I'm going to show them to Dakota after the space shuttle launches. Right now that's the only thing he is focused on. I think I just heard them say there is 90 seconds to go until launch.

Sometimes I'm just not in the mood to do school work. And I know that he is not in the mood for school work. That's when I start looking around for fun and exciting things to do online. When we play word play games or building vocabulary games, I feel like he is still learning even if we are not doing his curriculum program. Right now it's hard to get Dakota to focus on school work. It's winter break week for the public school kids. Since his friends are home, he would much rather be playing with them than sitting down to the computer to learn about making words plural. Incorporating games makes the learning fun and exciting.

Well, it looks like the space shuttle Discovery is on it's way for it's last journey through space. It's time to get the boy over here and show him some of these fun games.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Writing a Blog

I started writing this blog about a year and a half ago. I don't really know why I started it. I wanted to keep a record of what we are doing for school stuff. I wanted all the cool classes and trips that we took to be saved. I think I've done a pretty good job of that. I don't get every event recorded but I do write about a lot of our favorite ones. I've written about some of the accomplishments that Dakota has made. I've written a bit about my journey with cancer and the recovery process. A blog is a great way to let people know what you're up to, who you are, and what you are all about.

So what should do you when starting a blog. I think a good way to start is by hosting a give away. I actually hosted a give away recently. The prize was a blog writing course. Once you let your friends know about it, they will tell their friends, and suddenly you have lots of people reading your blog. I love entering blog give aways. Last night I think I entered five of them. I hope I win at least a few of the.

I love writing. I don't know if I'm very good at it, but I love writing. I know this is not the easiest thing to teach our kids about. Just getting my son to pick up a pencil and write anything is like pulling teeth. But to give him a subject and tell him to write a story about it, that is really hard. He loves to tell me stories and then he will draw a picture to go along with the story the I have written down for him. But he is very reluctant to write anything for himself. Just signing his Valentine's cards too nearly a week. I think I will start looking for a homeschool writing curriculum for him. Something to encourage him to write on his own.

In the mean time, why don't you start thinking about writing your own blog.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Having Fun And Learning Too

I was talking to someone the other day about homeschooling. She commented that she could never homeschool because it would be so boring. She sends her kids to school to learn and then when they are at home she can do all the fun things with them. That really got me thinking. Does learning have to be boring? Is it boring? Or can you have fun with your kids while they are learning. I don't know about you, but we like to play lots of games while we are learning. I say we because I find that I learn something new almost every day. Learning does not stop when you graduate from high school or college. So, we play lots of games while we are learning. We like to play third grade vocabulary practice games.

I know some homeschool moms who talk about how hard it is to come up with weekly homeschool lesson plans. Now I think that would be pretty boring. Fortunately the curriculum that we use has the lesson plans all spelled out for you. There really is no advance planning that I need to do. We just go online and do the next lesson that comes up. Sometimes we skip around with the lesson plan. Right now we are not doing the multiplication but have skipped on to other areas of math. We'll come back to it when Dakota is more ready to look at it.

I don't think learning should be boring. It should not be boring for the teacher or for the student. What things are you doing this week to keep your learning fun and exciting?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Liberty Science Center

Yesterday we went to Homeschool Day at Liberty Science Center again. We love going to the science center and taking their special homeschool classes. It's also great fun meeting with our friends.

The first class we went to yesterday was called The Scientist In Me. They read a story about a boat sinking. Who made the boat sink, was it the donkey or the cow, or maybe the pig? No it was the tiny little mouse who made the boat sink. When he added his few ounces of weight to the boat it was just too much weight and the boat sunk. The kids then went to the tables where they guessed which items would sink and which would float. Some items were expected to float, like the piece of cork and the plastic cubes. But no one expected the wooden block to float. That was a real surprise.

In the afternoon we took another class called Clouds, Clouds, Clouds. The teachers talked about the differences between cirrus clouds and cumulus clouds and stratus clouds. Cirrus clouds are the wispy, feathery looking clouds. The puffy, billowing clouds are cumulus. And stratus clouds are usually in layers and look like a bumpy road. They usually mean rain.

The kids used cotton balls to show what each of the three main cloud types look like. They also made rain in cups. They each had a small clear plastic cup. The teacher put about an inch of water in each cup. Then the covered the cups with plastic wrap and that was held in place by a rubber band. They covered the top of the cups with an ice pack to show how it is cold in the upper atmosphere. They set the cups aside while they did their other activities. When they came back to their cups the plastic wrap was covered with water drops that had condensed from the hot water meeting the cold ice pack. By tapping gently on the plastic, they made it rain in their cups.

Finally we went to watch a demonstration of Nitrogen. First he showed that the nitrogen was boiling even though it was only 70 degrees in the building. He poured the nitrogen into a tea kettle. It set off the whistle in the kettle because it was boiling. Even though the kettle was giving off steam, the kids could touch the kettle and found out that it was very cold. Liquid nitrogen is over 300 degrees below zero. The guy who was doing the demo put three large balloons into a small container of nitrogen. He could do this because the nitrogen turns the gas in the balloon into a liguid which fits into a much smalled space. When he took the balloons out of the nitrogen, they resumed their original shape in a matter of seconds. Dakota was selected to come up front and asked to smash a balloon with his feet. Of course he could not even make a single tear in the balloon. The guy then dropped the balloon into the liquid nitrogen for a few seconds. He then put the balloon on the floor again and Dakota was able to rip it apart by stamping on it.

All in all it was a fun and educational day for everyone.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Is Spelling Really That Important?

I've talked a lot in the past about how my son struggles with reading. I recently bought a program called All About Spelling to see if this would help his reading ability. But you know what? I don't like it. And you know how it is if you don't like something, you don't use it. So it sits here unused. And we still struggle with reading. So what do you think of the importance of spelling? Is this something you spend a lot of time on? Do you spend any time on it? I know most of us do our writing on a computer. And every computer has a spell checker, right? So why do we even bother with spelling?

My father only had a third grade education. His father became ill when he was in third grade so he had to drop out of school and go to work to help support his eleven sisters and his brother. But my father was an excellent speller. To him, it was extremely important that we learned to spell well. He would quiz us on spelling words until he was sure we knew them. But that was a different time. I wonder if he would still feel this way today.

I think it's important to be able to spell. When I was sick and the drugs were making my brain fuzzy, I had trouble spelling. I even had trouble coming up with enough of the word to be able to use spell checker. One of the ways that I knew that the chemotherapy drugs were working their way out of my body was because I could spell again. It was a great relief to me to be able to spell. I also think it does help you read better.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my little one. I know he will eventually be a fluent reader. I can see improvement in his ability all the time. For a while I was considering tutoring for him. But I think he will get it when he's ready. Whenever I begin to have doubts, I just come back here and read my old blog posts. I remind myself again that it is important to let his mind develop as he is ready and not to push him beyond what he's ready for.

So dear reader, how important is spelling to you?