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Thursday, November 18, 2010

K12: Final

Well, it is done.  After several letters plastered with warnings, I decided to break the news to the teachers that this was just not working out for our family.  The children have lost initiative and I have lost desire.  I knew (and so did you) that we were wrapping things up with K12, but I have been trying to keep using some of the curriculum.

I sent emails to the teachers and went online to try to buy the books that we loved--and will have to send back.  Once again, the hope of getting some of the benefits of public school has wavered.  I guess if you don't jump through the hoops, you don't get the doggy treat.  Oh, well.  I'll remind myself that my tax money is going to educate children whose parents can't (or don't) choose to teach primarily at home.

It could be worse, right?

I'm pulling out my Thomas Jefferson Education book and reminding myself of the good that I've seen in my home over the past seven years--without the dollars/books/darling bulletin boards of the public school.

It feels good to come back to myself.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Photo History

We were studying history and began talking about the evolution of photography; specifically, it's place in historical record-keeping.  We looked at the first deguerreotypes and photos of stiff people--stiff because they had to hold perfectly still for the twenty minute exposure.  We watched the pictures change with the clothing and height of the buildings.  We saw the quality improve to the point of photographers capturing fast-moving battle scenes and tennis players.  We saw moments in time during the Civil War, World Expos, day-in-the-life of average people and more.  It was fun and interesting to a group of people who are so used to the commonness of pictures.  We are even spoiled to the point of knowing almost instantly whether we captured the desired shot.

I made an assignment to the children.  I asked them to take five photographs.  These five should be things that help define their lives in November 2010.  Anyone should be able to get a glimpse of their lives just by looking at the shots they choose.  They then learned how to edit the pictures and make a simple collage from my photo editing software.  The result is almost like a time capsule.  It was interesting to me to see what they think defines them right now.  

Here are their results, created, edited and captioned entirely on their own.

 (Daughter, age 9)

(Son, age 11)

What would your collage look like?  What would your children's show?  Are you sure?


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Time Lines

I love history.  It is my favorite subject because it encompasses nearly all others.  One of the most effective ways of cementing historical people and events in the mind of a learner is through the use of a time line.

For example, we are studying the decade of the 1880's.  (Because history rarely defines itself in neat, ten year increments, I added five years to the front and back of that decade.  It gives us a little more wiggle room.)  Our family knows the Little House on the Prairie stories.  If they know that Laura was a child when the Kodak camera was invented, when Garfield was assassinated, and when Krakatoga blew creating a tsunami that killed over 36,000 people, then those seemingly random events gain meaning.  When we study Edison and Bell with a time line, we can see that they were contemporaries, but they were twenty years away from the Wright brother's feats.  And knowing that Mark Twain was writing about Jim it was only a dozen or so years after the Civil War, clarifies the racial prejudice outlined in Tom Sawyer.

If your house is like mine, you already have maps and letters and bookshelves filling up your walls.  Where do you put a time line?  Especially one that includes world and US history, literature, science and inventions, math and anything else that you could want to place.  Here is one idea for you.

I took a roll of simple ticker tape

and drew lines the thickness of my ruler.

The children folded the ticker tape on the lines, accordion style, and wrote the year on the line.

Folded, it only takes up a small space.

Once it's unfolded, you can see history happening.  This is a newly made timeline, so we only have a couple of events, but we plan to fill it over the next few weeks.

Using different colors for different topics (Blue = US history, Green = Inventions, Orange = World History, Math = Purple, etc.).  As we study a topic, we put it on our timeline.  Today we studied decimals and the base ten Metric System (LeGrange lived during this time).  By relating decimals to the invention of Coca-Cola to Nellie Oleson, memory connections are sure to be stronger than if we had just learned how to figure decimals.

Try using this small time line tool to make history come alive in your home school.

By the way, this is a great resource for creating your curriculum based on a time line.


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