As always the latest super member units will be added to your account each month as long as you are an active super member. May’s units are:
As always the latest super member units will be added to your account each month as long as you are an active super member. May’s units are:
By Katie Kubesh and Kimm Bellotto
After months and months (what seemed like years and years) of cold winter and snowy days, it is nice to sit at my computer today with the windows open. A warm spring breeze blows across my arms as I type and I can hear the birds singing outside my window. Ahhh…Spring is here. Spring is such an awesome time of year. From the moment that I hear the first robin sing, I am anxious to go outside and plant something- anything at all. Luckily, my daughters share my enthusiasm and we are always excited to get our hands dirty. Exploring and planting can be much more than just dropping a seed in the ground! It can be a joyous and rewarding experience for young and old alike!
Gardening is such a great teaching opportunity. Your children can learn so much by tending flowers or vegetables or any other kind of plant. They’ll casually (and without even meaning to) learn about other living things, such as birds, insects, worms, and squirrels. They’ll learn about hard work and reaping what they’ve sown. They’ll learn to develop patience and caring. They’ll also learn about this wondrous and awe- inspiring thing we call life! And, if things don’t go quite as you’ve planned, they may also learn a bit about loss and disappointment.
Besides the informal educational aspects of it, gardening also offers a very pleasant way to spend some quality time with your children outside of schooling, on a regular basis, and with a mutual goal. It also gives you and your children a chance to get creative! How? By planning out what you will plant, where you will plant, which plants will be next to or near each other, and so on. Will you plant everything directly in the ground or in containers or a bit of both? Will you be creating a design or simple rows? The possibilities are endless!
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one other benefit of gardening… Exercise! That’s right! Gardening is great exercise! Raking, hoeing, digging, weeding, planting, and pruning for 30-60 minutes are just as good for you, and burn just as many (if not more) calories as doing aerobic exercise for the same amount of time! Plus, you and the kids will be doing this kind of physical activity outdoors and you’ll be taking in lots of vitamin D from the sun!
So, there you have it. Gardening is a win-win situation for the entire family! In addition, In the Hands of a Child offers a huge selection of Lapbooks and Note Packs that complement gardening and other springtime learning connections! Here are some excellent suggestions:
For your PreK to Early Childhood students, there is also a selection of wonderfully fun springtime Lapbooks to complete!
Plant a seed and grow a mind this spring with a Lapbook or Note Pack from In the Hands of a Child!
A few years ago I took a day trip with my three daughters who, at the time, were ages 6, 5, and 2. It was a 150-mile trip one way and we left at about 9:00 a.m. We stopped twice along the way to stretch and take a bathroom break and arrived at our destination in a little under three hours. Since I was traveling alone with them, I made sure I had plenty of things packed to keep them busy along the way.
Each girl had her own individual bag filled with her favorite snack mix and fruit. I also had coolers packed with water, juice, and milk. I knew they would be drinking a lot, so I also had the porta-potty packed in the back. Each child was equipped with a clipboard that had crayons, paper, colored pencils, and stickers. We had all their favorite CDs to listen to, lots of books, and small toys. Since we were going out to dinner with family and then to my niece’s college graduation, I packed a couple changes of clothes and a dress and sandals for each girl. We would be traveling back home that night, so I also packed pjs for each of them so I could just put them in their beds when we arrived back home. The back of my SUV looked like we were going on a weeklong adventure instead of just a one day trip.
We sang songs and played “I Spy” along the way, the two older girls played word games, and despite the pouring down rain, it was a pretty good trip. As I drove, I couldn’t help but think about the recent units I had written for In the Hands of a Child. For a few weeks before the trip I had been researching and writing two new units; Pioneers and Westward Expansion. As a child, I was always interested in reading books about the pioneers and people who made their lives on the American frontier. I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan and I can remember telling my mother, on more than one occasion, that if I could go back in time I would be a pioneer.
As an adult, I am still interested in that time period and the research I did for those two units was quite fascinating to me. So as I drove along, both hands on the wheel, windshield wipers frantically clearing the buckets of rain off my windshield, and cautiously trying to avoid the huge potholes that tend to pop up every two inches in the spring, I thought about what it would be like to be a woman on the westward trail. What if my husband decided to move our family 2,000 miles away to a place that has not been settled before? In the modern world of today, I would have equal input in a decision like that, but in the 1800’s I would have had to go along with my husband’s decision whether I agreed with it or not. In addition, I may have had to make that journey alone with my children.
Many of the pioneer women traveled the westward trails alone. Their husbands had gone ahead at an earlier time to find land or work and then sent for their wives and children later. I recall reading a letter in my research. It was a letter that a man had sent to his wife telling her what to pack for her trip and giving her tips for traveling. The tip that stood out most in my mind was, “make sure you don’t let our son jump from wagon to wagon.” Many children were injured and even killed along the westward trails when they jumped from one wagon to another.
It only took me an hour or so to prepare for our short journey, but when we go on vacation it usually takes me a few hours to pack everything. Pioneer women planned their trips for months. Not only did they need snacks and things to keep their kids occupied, pioneer women had to sew a cover for the wagon, extra clothes and blankets, and prepare foods that would sustain a 6-month journey across treacherous land. They faced illness, hunger, and death. They traveled across the dusty plains, deep rivers, and high mountains. They were strong, brave, and courageous.
When the girls and I were at my niece’s graduation a family friend asked if I had made the trip alone. When I told her that I had, she exclaimed, “My, you are a brave woman.” Well, I’m not exactly a pioneer, but I did manage to keep my daughters from jumping from one car to another along the way!
If you and your students have not studied the pioneers or westward expansion, I encourage you to do so! The westward expansion was an important time in the history of the United States. It is a history filled with interesting stories and adventures about men, children, and the women who traveled west in search of new beginnings.
By Katie Kubesh
When preparing to write a Research Guide, the first thing I do is go to our local library website and search the card catalog for books about the particular topic I am writing about. I make a list and then when I visit the library, it is just like grocery shopping…I simply head down the aisles and check the items off my list as I go. Just like the convenience items and junk foods that tempt me at the grocery store, the shiny, new books that are prominently displayed also distract me. The “New Book” sticker seems to call out to me more than a bag of chips on sale for $1.99 and what could be a 10-minute trip to the library often turns into 45 minutes.
It was on one of these trips to the library that not only the “New Book” sticker caught my eye, but the title. I Found a Dead Bird: The Kids’ Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death. Written by Jan Thornhill, this children’s book takes something that can be quite traumatic for a child (finding a dead animal) and turns it into a great learning experience. The book begins with, “I Found a Dead Bird. It made me sad, but I also asked a lot of questions like why did it have to die…”
With a sense of pride for finding a new book that was not only interesting, but also one that could help me (be sure to download our June Super Member unit, Animal Life Cycles*) with my research, I enthusiastically added the book to my bag and took it home.
The book includes information about life spans, what happens to an animal’s body after death, and how people cope with death. It is factual, to the point, but yet it is light and at times funny. The book had many ideas and questions and sparked lots of curiosity and conversation with my own children plus I found it very useful when writing the Animal Life Cycles Project Pack.
So, just like at the grocery store a quick trip to the library can turn into much more, but the great thing about picking up a tempting book with that “New Book” sticker isn’t nearly as fattening as the bag of chips I find for $1.99!
*Not a current Super Member? A Super Member at In the Hands of a Child is someone who has purchased a subscription to our Super Members Area to download one free ebook each month! To find out more about In the Hands of a Child Super Memberships, please visit us at www.handsofachild.com/shop and click on HOAC Super Memberships under “Categories.”
To find out more about I Found a Dead Bird: The Kids’ Guide to the Cycle of Life and Death by Jan Thornhill, visit her website at http://www.janthornhill.com/dead-bird.html
Each of us probably has his or her own way of folding towels the “right” way. The way you fold your towels may or may not be the same way your mother taught you and your own daughter may or may not fold hers the way that you taught her. I never really thought about the art of towel folding until the other day when I was folding towels with my three daughters. Each one has her own way of folding them; Sophie folds them in half one way and then another, Sammy folds them just like Mommy, and Ella just scrunches them up.
My husband said, “I can’t believe you are letting them fold your towels. You are such a perfectionist when it comes to your towels!” You know, before I had three girls that statement was correct. I have a certain way of folding my towels so that each one will fit perfectly on the shelves I have for them. There was a time when I would have been very distressed if my towels were not folded just right. Now that I have children, most days it doesn’t really matter much to me how they are folded, but that they get folded at all!
That is true for so many things in life. We all have a routine, a certain way of doing things that works best for us as individuals. But does our particular way of doing things work best for everyone? Probably not. For example, my folded towels might not fit on the shelves in someone else’s home. The way I teach my child about a particular subject may not work for another parent and his or her child. One of the advantages that I think many parents who homeschool have is that they realize that what works for some students does not necessarily “fit” the needs or skills of their own. They realize that what may be the “right” thing to do for some families is not necessarily the “right” thing for their own family. The challenge that homeschoolers face is seeking ways that works for each individual child.
For example, a homeschooling mom recently expressed her concern that five of her children enjoy doing lapbooking as part of their curriculum, but two of them do not. What could she do to make the other two enjoy that activity too? Well, she can certainly try to encourage them to do that with the others, but if they just do not learn well from that type of activity, then they may have to work together to find an alternative for the other two to work on. If you are homeschooling more than one child at a time, you will soon realize that each child has different likes and dislikes as well as skills and abilities.
Another challenge that many homeschoolers face is the concept of teaching many different age levels the same curriculum or even the same unit study. How do you approach the same unit study with a 12-year old as you do a 5-year old? Obviously a parent needs to change part of the study or adapt it to fit the skill level of both ages. The same idea is true for parents of children with special needs. Homeschoolers have the constant challenge of adapting to fit the needs of all of their children.
What about the reluctant readers or writers? A curriculum that is based solely on reading and writing is not going to go very far with a student who is reluctant or just does not have the ability to do this. Parents and teachers of students who are reluctant readers or writers have the challenge of finding alternative ways for those students to learn.
Adapting unit studies to fit the needs of your student can be easy. It is key to ensuring that you provide the best lessons for your student. Start with vocabulary. How can you make vocabulary words something that each of your children can learn with ease?
There are many things you can do to adapt vocabulary to younger children or reluctant readers including:
What about the older child or the advanced reader?
Encourage all of your students to participate in a unit study by adapting certain parts of it to meet their individual needs and skills. This is also a great opportunity to encourage your children to work together and share their talents and skills in order to accomplish a task together. To adjust a unit study for a younger child you can:
For the older students, it is just as easy to adapt unit studies. To adjust a unit study for an older child you can:
It is important to realize that not every child folds towels the “right” way! Encourage your child to find what works best for him or her in order to get the best education possible. Learn to adapt your curriculum and unit studies to fit the particular needs of each child. It may take you a little more time and energy- it may even cause a bit of frustration on both your parts, but the end result will be worth it! After all, it doesn’t matter how the towels are folded, but that the towels get folded at all!
By Katie Kubesh
Contrary to what it looks like outside my window, the first day of spring is March 20th. Here in Michigan the banks are still piled high with snow and a trek to the swing set requires thigh-high boots, a shovel, and a full set of snow gear. Once you reach the swing set, be prepared for some shoveling or you won’t be able to find the swings! Like an internal calendar, however, my girls are ready to ride their scooters, draw on the driveway with chalk (we have a small space of ice scraped away), and jump rope.
Over the winter, it becomes very easy to become inactive. Unfortunately, inactive kids become sedentary adults. This contributes to many things including a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer. Yikes! The good news is that as parents, we can help prevent those things from affecting our children. We can help our children become more active by being active role models and by creating an environment that inspires movement!
Some tips for making activity and movement a part of you and your children’s daily life include:
by Katie Kubesh
You have just purchased a new Lapbook from In the Hands of a Child. It is titled “Mollusks” and you are wondering what other activities or “things” you can incorporate into the unit to make it even more fun and exciting for your child! How do you make snails and slugs exciting to your child? Well, if that child is a 6-year old boy, you probably won’t have a problem…. but, not all kids like snails and slugs. Before you decide not to teach that particular subject to your students, look around and see what you can do to catch their interest!
We all know how easy it is to find fun things to tie into units like Curious George. I was amazed one summer when we did the Curious George Lapbook and I found so many great things to accompany our study! For example, we bought the Curious George movie soundtrack and took time out from our reading and writing for a little Phys. Ed as we danced to the tunes! The girls had lunch at a fast food restaurant with Grandma and came home with Curious George toys. When I did a workshop at our local library, I went with Curious George stuffed animals, books, CDs, you name it! Obviously, Curious George is a fun topic by itself, so that was an easy one.
How do you take a topic or unit study that might not be as exciting as others and make it interesting? Well, it’s all about the odds n’ ends! Look around your house or community and see what objects you find that will tie into the current topics you are studying. Take a more difficult topic like World War II… Why not visit a flea market or antique store and try to find some postcards sent from that time period. Or ask “Grandma” or “Auntie Gertrude” if they have any postcards or letters that were sent during the war that they could share! Who knows, “Auntie Gertrude” may have more than postcards or letters! What better way to learn about an event in history than to talk to someone who actually lived it!
If Great–Grandpa was in the military during World War II, ask if he has a sample menu from his time in the service (I recently found a Christmas Eve dinner menu from when my Dad was in the Navy in 1954. I made a copy of it and that will be sure to go in our Navy Project Pack some day!). Visit a military museum or memorial and include the brochure in the lapbook. Pearl Harbor is a big one, but not many of us can just fly our family to Hawaii, so check in your community or state to see if there are any memorials near you. We visited the zoo this summer and took pictures of the signs that had information about the animals. After we developed the pictures, we put them in our lapbooks – one picture of the animal and another telling about it! The same thing can be done when visiting a memorial or historical site. What were the dates of the event you are researching? Try to find pennies or other currency around your house from that time period.
There are many things that can be incorporated into lapbooks and studies of all topics! Even “Mollusks” can be made interesting…you might have to rent a “Sponge Bob Video” and have your student try to spot how many mollusk characters he or she can find, but at least it will add a some more fun!
Some other examples of “odds n’ ends” that you can use in your unit study include:
With just a little imagination, and some interesting odds n’ ends, your student’s studies will come to life and you will be putting laughter and learning together in the hands of YOUR child!