Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hands-on Learning!

This year my main focus for our home school has been to bring a hands- on approach to our learning. For one thing, it's just more fun for the kids. It also helps them to remember the concepts that they've learned. A couple of the subjects we've been able to bring this change to so far is spelling and math.

The program that we're using for spelling right now is Spelling Power. It's a great program, written by a homeschool mom. It contains all the most commonly used and misspelled words. I love the short lessons and the hands-on approach. After practicing a word by studying it, spelling it with her eyes closed, etc., she spells it in a textured surface.

We use a cookie sheet of cornmeal right now for a textured surface. Evie then makes up her own sentence with the word and then beads it on a necklace.

For math, we're using Math U See. I could be a sales person for this program. I LOVE it! It has made a world of difference in the way I teach math. It comes with DVD's that show you how to teach each lesson. Prior to using this program, I had a hard time simply explaining concepts to Evie. It resulted in her not understanding it and frustration all around.
After watching the lesson, you then work on that concept until the child masters it. They use blocks to teach everything which helps the kids to really understand what they're doing when they're doing paperwork later (which is so abstract). It's so different from the way I was taught! Apparently, most schools are seeing the benefit of manipulatives and are using them a lot now.

Here's Elijah with the Math U See blocks. He built 1-20.

Every day, I have the kids do a math speed drill from the Math U See site. If they don't get any wrong, a ribbon flashes with a banner that says that they got them all right. This ribbon really motivates them to work carefully. Evie has been getting it often and Elijah is still trying to get his first ribbon. His main trouble is hitting things wrong on the keyboard, otherwise he'd be getting ribbons too:)

It's funny, when I started homeschooling over two years ago, I really had NO IDEA how many curriculum options and homeschooling styles were out there. It wasn't until this winter that I started exploring all the options. This article really summed up all the styles for me. The Simply Charlotte Mason website is what made me get excited about the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. I love the idea of learning through living books. The description for living books from the SCM website says:

"Probably the most well known of Charlotte’s methods is her use of living books instead of dry, factual textbooks. Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject 'come alive'.”

I've been building a living book library at home now! I've found lots of great finds at thrift stores and raided my mom's library too:) Now I need to buy some more book shelves!


  1. You are inspiring me to blog again! Nope, no trips to Ontario for awhile. Interesting that you like MathUSee, the Christian school our children attend has switched their math curriculum to that and love it. However, for Sienna it has been too hard. She's learns differently though like Emily :-) I'll miss your comments on my fb pics. I hope your Eden is feeling better. My Silas is very sick, so hard to see them like that.

  2. What a creative learning enviroment you've built for your children!

  3. You can tell by reading your posts that you are very passionate about homeschooling Tracy. What a wonderful environment you have created for your children to learn in! I'm so glad Beth posted this link so that we can keep up to date with you. I often wonder how you are doing and I hope all is going well!

  4. Thanks Andrea and Sheila:)
    Lorrie- you should blog again, I miss your blog! Send me the link if you do start! Interesting that Sienna doesn't respond well to the blocks. Hope Silas feels better too...

  5. I'm so glad that you found something that works for you! I really love Charlotte Mason's ideas!

    I definitely think that the cornmeal/texture thing is really smart. I have a salt box (same idea) for Judah to use while learning to form his letters. We are doing Cursive First along with Spell to Write and Read. I haven't started yet, aside from letting him practice some letters in the salt box.

    We decided to go with Right Start for math, but it was between that and MUS. It is also very hands-on, and Judah seems to be enjoying it.

    I googled that homeschool conference that you were talking about. I think I want to go to it, but it's going to be $40 because pre-registration is closed. Bummer! I will probably bring Nathan along with me, but still need to find someone for the other boys.

    I love reading your blog! I wish we lived closer.