Archive for December, 2011


This is the first year I’ve really used English as a subject. I used to always do all their reading and writing as part of their history subject. Grammar was mostly done through online games. Spelling and vocab was just part of reading and writing. As I have more school-aged kids I’m getting more focused on teaching English more systematically. It also works best for the online curriculum I’m working on to assign books by grade level. History books have become more of an extra family-read-aloud thing since I keep all my kids studying basically the same thing for science and history.

I have two littles, a first grader, a fourth grader (all boys), and then my daughter is in sixth grade. I’ve been choosing their reading books from the Robinson and Ambleside book lists. I have used the books in several different ways. My first grader copies sentences from his book, which I often do by copying and pasting a sentence into this handwriting worksheet maker. I sometimes use this to have him write a sentence using something from the sentence. For example, once he copied a sentence with the phrase “worried wife.” Then he had to write a sentence with alliteration. I made a list of family members for him to choose from. He wrote a sentence about “grandma’s gum.” We have also used those sentences he has copied to learn about nouns. The rest of the time he just has to tell me what happened in the chapter. In first grade it’s normal to have to ask questions to get the narration from them. My first grader has been reading books from the Bailey animal books series. He’s only done one “book report.”

My fourth grader made it through the whole Swiss Family Robinson book. I actually put in the curriculum to make a diorama scene from the book, but he asked to pass and my daughter did one instead. I have not made him do full out book reports. He has used a couple of different forms to fill out after reading a book.  One from Jimmie  One I made   He has had to do writing assignments based on his books. He wrote comedy after reading The Peterkin Papers for example. He has had to write a biographical essay and an autobiography. He also has to write descriptive pieces and does lots of creative writing with prompts based on what he’s reading. The Little Princess turned out to be great for vocabulary, so while he is reading that there are lots of vocabulary exercises–puzzles, writing stories using the words, etc. I visit vocabulary and spelling from time to time. They aren’t something we do daily or weekly. I don’t like ruts. I tend to teach in circles. We leave and come back to things.

My sixth grader slogged through Captains Courageous. I used literature questions that I found online for that one. She laughed her way through Penrod. She learned about satire and read Gulliver’s Travels. She just finished Black Beauty and is writing a persuasive essay on animal rights. She has had to write full book reports. For Black Beauty she is reading literary criticism and writing her own opinion. I love using example essays online to teach how to write different forms. There’s a great autobiographical incident example for sixth grade. One of her books is Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott. Alcott has such great sentences that I have my daughter copy her sentence structure. We take a sentence. Then break it down. Here’s an example below. I like to put in bold any words I’ve recently introduced. I keep them in the forefront until they become part of the natural vocabulary. This is not an introduction for any of these words.

  •  While Jack was hopping gayly about on his crutches, poor Jill was feeling the effects of her second fall, and instead of sitting up, as she hoped to do after six weeks of rest, she was ordered to lie on a board for two hours each day.
  1. This is the first sentence of the chapter you read today. Let’s write one like it.
  2. First step. Write a dependent clause starting with “while.” Don’t forget to follow it with a comma. Then add an independent clause, one that could stand alone as a sentence. Example: While I was waiting, a dog came up to sniff my shoes.
  3. Next, Alcott uses a comma and a conjunction (, and). Let’s skip that part for now.
  4. The second part of her sentence starts with another dependent clause (which I believe is specifically called an adverbial phrase, but you don’t need to know that.) That’s followed by an aside, an extra description. Then the sentence is finished with an independent clause.
  5. Right now let’s write a dependent clause followed by an independent clause. Don’t forget to separate the two with a comma. And remember this has to go with your first sentence. Example: Until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, he eagerly circled me.
  6. Now, add in a clause after the first comma and make sure to use a comma after it. Alcott added there, “as she hoped to do after six weeks of rest.”  Example: Until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, as he obviously was after something, he eagerly circled me.
  7. Now, we have to combine the two together. Use a comma and a conjunction between the two sentences you just wrote. Example: While I was waiting, a dog came up to sniff my shoes, and until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, as he obviously was after something, he eagerly circled me.
  8. Add a particle adjective and maybe a metaphor or simile. Come on. See what you can do. Example:  While I was waiting, a dog came up to sniff my shoes, and until he was satisfied that I wasn’t the source of whatever scent he was chasing, as he obviously was after something, he eagerly circled me, a frozen statue on the corner of 24th and Main. (I underlined my participle adjective. I added the metaphor of comparing myself to a statue.)

December 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm 2 comments

Electricty Lapbook

This lapbook was completed by three of my kids. It is made from pieces of three different lapbooks that cover electricity and magnetism. In the curriculum I’m building the pieces are divided between the older and younger kids. I divided them further picking out some of the younger kid pieces for my first grader and leaving the others for my fourth grader.

Here are the links to the lapbooks we used. Not all of the pieces are pictured.

Younger electricity lapbook  (there are some links in the file)

Website on electricity

Older (homeschool helper) lapbook

Websites that go with the lapbook

We used this website as well for the older kids

Timeline website

Circuit game younger

Circuit Game older

Magnetism lapbook  It’s made for the Magic School Bus book. We didn’t have the book.

Website for info younger  older

Online games

And a variety of experiments that I don’t have links for. Here’s one.

We drew and built circuits, tested conductors and fooled around. If you have a kid into this, buy a mini hand held fan. Use the motor and fan blades to propel cars and boats.You can get these little motors at Radio Shack.

Here’s a cool video on circuits and human conductors.

It’s all in the curriculum I’m building and I get most of my links from my blog, Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers.
Links to All Things Free for Homeschoolers

Like the button I made for the freebies blog? My daughter’s making me artwork for a button for this blog. Coming soon…

December 5, 2011 at 9:30 am 3 comments

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