What is great way to eat popcorn, curl up with a pillow, and do school at the same time?
Watch a movie. Movies can enrich our homeschooling experience! Movies are fun!
Our first experience with using movies for school was Gidget Goes Hawaiian when we did a unit study on Hawaii. Since then, we have expanded to including monthly movies for history and geography.
Different scenes come to my mind from movies I've seen over the years. My idea of the Sahara desert comes from watching movies where the hero is trekking across the Sahara. The image I have of a Middle Eastern Bazaar comes from watching Indiana Jones. So many movies I've seen are set in New York City that I feel like I know that city though I've only been there three times in my life. Likewise, the Anne movies make me feel that Prince Edward Island is my second home. Movies draw you in and if they do a good job of making ancient, or more modern times, come alive, they will benefit your children.
In our house, we often start our study of a time period by working on a timeline while we watch a movie. When we studied the 20th Century decade by decade, we would work on a timeline and watch a movie.
As we pasted photos of President Wilson, Russia's Stalin, and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, we watched the exciting story of Sergeant York, a godly hero of World War I. Our next step was to learn about the Balkans, the step-by-step unfolding of World War I, the War to End All Wars, heroes like Nurse Cavell, and dog fighting. For us, it's been a fun way to introduce a new season of study.
Other times, we have used movies as a treat when we finish a unit study.
Whether we watch movies in the beginning, middle, or end of a history study, movies are a hit in our house!
Here are some of our favorites.
It started when my oldest son was in fourth grade. He needed to study geography, but I had never studied geography before. He was only in fourth grade, so I wasn’t too afraid. I found a LIFEPAC® set by Alpha Omega Publications® which cover the geography of the world at a fourth-grade level. We read all the lessons and studied the globe together.
But what do we do when they are in High School? What do we do when the classes we teach them can affect the rest of their lives? The short answer is that we do the same thing that I did when Zack was in fourth grade. We learn.
No matter what grade you are teaching, it is always best for you to understand what you are teaching before you begin. Sometimes that is easy. Most adults already know how to read, write basic sentences, add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Sometimes it is not as easy. You might not have done well in math, so you struggle with algebra. Many schools make students pick between history and geography at some point, so you might have holes in your learning of one or the other. Your student may be very interested in forensic science, which you never studied.
As with all decisions about our families and our homeschooling, we need to begin by seeking the Lord. You want to teach from God’s plan, not just make your plan and ask God to bless it. Pray about what classes your student should take. Pray for wisdom in selecting material to teach these subjects. Spend some time listening for the Lord to speak about these classes. Don’t forget to pray that the Lord would bless your time preparing and your learning as well as your student’s.
In Geography Co-op this year, I wanted the children to make beautiful maps of each continent so that they would look nice enough to hang on the wall.
"Well, I better die to that dream," I told myself.
I delegated the mapping portion of geography co-op to my friend Pattie.
Pattie took my instructions to heart and in order to make the beautiful maps happen, she started a contest, paying the winner in each age group a dollar.
Hey, a little free-market competition couldn't hurt.
The maps these children produced were gorgeous. Now, I don't know if they still would have been without the competition, but I was blown away!
Why does mapping matter anyway?
Benefits of Mapping
We love history in our house. We to love to read historical fiction, dress up, cook up old recipes, and sing historical songs.
We also like to study art as we move through time in our history studies.
One year we got a collection American Art posters from the National Gallery of Art to review. This was a wonderful combination of artists. And not just paintings. There was a poster of Native American baskets and another of architecture.
My favorite painting was of Paul Revere with his silver creations. I love that painting! We passed out silver pieces that I had inherited from my grandmother and talked about Paul Revere as an artist.
As time went on, we wanted to dig a little deeper into certain artists. We decided to choose a few like Gilbert Stuart, John James Audubon, and Norman Rockwell.
Elements of Art & Principles of Design
We kicked off our Homeschool Geography Co-op with a Plane Ride because our goal is to Travel Around The World through reading, crafts, mapping, and hands-on learning fun this year. Did I mention food and feasting?
This month, we were studying Europe, so we had another Geography Feast using Travel God's World Cookbook.
Each family made a dish from a country in Europe.
I made EZ Paella from Spain. Pattie made Swedish Cabbage Pudding (it also has ground beef and potatoes, too), Molly made Bratwurst and Sauerkraut from Germany, and Leanne made Fruit Crumble from England.
What delightful years I experienced in the first years of motherhood as God blessed me with baby girls first.
As we walked to the playground, we would pass the big yellow school bus. My heart would freeze. I would miss my children so much when they started school. Just thinking about it made me so sad. Why should someone else get to spend all day with them? They were my babies!
At the same time, I was passing the yellow school bus several days a week, I was meeting homeschool families at church who impressed me with their poise, confidence, good manners, and love for Jesus. I had to check out homeschooling.
As I prayed about the possibility of homeschooling with my husband Mike, we felt God stirring our hearts. We sensed He was calling us to ministry! The ministry of educating our children. Wow! What a high calling and privilege! Excitement stirred in our hearts back in 1990 and the following year, we took the plunge. Since then, we have never looked back.
Why do we homeschool?
Because God called us to homeschool!
We have been blessed to see so many blessings and benefits to homeschooling.
When we get together with other homeschool parents, we talk about all kinds of things related to homeschooling:
Why we homeschool.
Our philosophy of homeschooling.
What curriculum we are using.
Our homeschool co-ops and field trips.
How are children are growing in godly character.
All of that is wonderful! I love talking about all those things!
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that love is the heart of homeschooling, it's what motivates us, it's why we sacrifice.
We homeschooling because we love our children. We homeschool to express love to our children. We homeschool because we love God and want to teach our children to love Him, too.
Just as the heart pumps life to the whole body, love brings life to our home and our home school.
I’ve dabbled in art since I was a child. There always seemed to be other interests and priorities which prevented me from pursuing what talent I may possess. One of those other interests was homeschooling my children. As we worked through the years I met a few promising artists who were just not sure where to get training. Art school, after all, is very expensive, right?
This year I was blessed with the opportunity to take an acrylic painting class with the students in our homeschool co-op. I started learning so much after just one class.
However, what do you do if you don’t have access to a professional painter who will teach you or your children?
You go online!
One of our homework assignments was to paint a cherry using the Beginners Acrylic Still Life Course at the Will Kemp Art School. You can read about the project and watch this series of YouTube videos by going to his website: http://willkempartschool.com/beginners-acrylic-still-life-course-part-1/.
This page includes a list of supplies needed, some pictures of the project in process and loads of links and helpful suggestions. I didn’t have access to exactly all the same products and he used but my local Michael’s had acceptable alternatives.
Here is a really fun exercise to teach children to write clearly. We did this in our homeschool co-op, but you can do this at home with the whole family. It's very silly and will get all your writers laughing hysterically.
First of all, everyone writes directions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Simple enough, right?
Well, not so fast. It's hard to write directions. Often children are vague or write something else than what they are trying to communicate to their audience.
After all the direction papers were written, my friend Leanne gathered them all in a pile and everyone headed to the kitchen. Taking each page of sandwich directions, Leanne set out to follow them. Of course she had a knife, jar of peanut butter, jar of jelly, and loaf of bread.
Leanne made each sandwich according to the directions the child gave. If the directions were unclear, she followed them to funniest way possible. We all laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt. I got some photos I will share below.
The lesson of needing to be clear when giving directions hit home and the spent twenty more minutes talking about the "dangers" of not writing clear directions. The kids had a blast together learning to write more effectively. Now, that is learning at its best!
When you teach history, don't just expect your children to memorize facts.
Become investigators together and solve the history mystery.
When did it take place?
Who was involved?
Where did it happen?
Why on earth did it happen?
It all starts with curiosity and a sense of adventure. I will often start with an interesting story like this...
A royal couple was visiting a city in their realm on their anniversary. They were very much in love. But, they had enemies. Those enemies tried to kill them as they were on the way to big get-together. The enemies tried to bomb their car, but instead of hitting them, they hit people in the car behind them. After returning home to rest, the royal couple decided to go visit the folks that had been shot. They felt so sad they were hurt. On the way to the hospital, they were forced to take a detour into a side road. While they were trapped, a gunman shot both of them. They reached out to hold one another. The handsome Duke said to his beautiful wife, "Live, darling, for the children." I am so sorry to tell you that they both died. And that's how World War I began.
Now, I have made it personal and gotten my children's interest. What's next?
History is fascinating! What fun to explore other time periods, meet exciting people, and watch historic events unfold.
Immersion is a great way to learn and remember history. Simply immerse yourself in the time period by listening to the music, tasting the food, looking at the art, creating some of the crafts, and digging deeper into the people who made things happen, the places where they happened, and the events that did happen.
History immersion is made quite easy with history labs. We added history labs to our historical studies years ago, inspired by Diana Waring.
As a homeschool mom, my goal was to "travel back in time" for a visit. We cooked, baked, crafted, created, and enjoyed all kinds of things from whatever time period we studied. Studying pre-American Hawaii, we made a paper mache volcano and hosted a luau. Investigating Ancient Rome, we dressed in Togas, ate lying down, and had a Roman slave sale. Learning about Archaeology, we had our own archaeological dig after we created the different artifacts for each different layers of our tell.
When I was asked to teach history at a homeschool co-op, I decided to have discussion time followed by history labs. The children read at home and we discussed the time period together in a relaxed way, often laughing and doing some "imagine if" kind of thinking. The labs became an instant hit, so I kept doing them. Soon, I realized that the best part was that for most history labs, all ages could do the lab together. I loved that! We loved learning together as a family.
I'm not sure which we love more about history: historical literature or history labs. Let me tell you a little about history labs you can do in your homeschool or homeschool co-op.
Homeschooling has been a breeze and you love it: reading aloud, field trips, doing projects together, and learning new things. You are close to your child and enjoy life together.
One day you wake up and there is a new person inside your son's or daughter's body. They look the same--well, a little bit more manly or womanly. But, whoa, he or she is a completely different person. And yet, sometimes, they seem just like they did before.
What is happening?
Welcome to the Middle School years. Bodies are changing, hormones are raging, intellect is sharpening, and emotions are all over the place.
To experience joy and success in Middle School, you must determine to redefine normal for your young man or woman. Middle schoolers are transforming into men and women. That transformation isn't always easy.
Lavish your middle schooler with love and respect, whether they deserve it or not. Make yourself available as a listening ear and be a safe person they can pour their hearts out to.
On the positive side, middle schoolers are entering new phases of thinking, reasoning, analyzing, and other ways of thinking and learning. You can have intellectual and deep conversations with a middle schooler. They have interesting and exciting perspectives--it's so much fun to hear them!
This is the transition time between childhood and adulthood, both emotionally and intellectually.
History is exciting!
History is full of drama, intrigue, and stories.
Studying history is important to know the past, to understand our heritage, so we can plan for the future.
It breaks my heart to see some children and teens learn history in a dry, dreary way so that they end up hating the subject.
How we teach history can often determine if our students will enjoy learning about the past.
My children all love history! I think it's because we had so much fun learning history together.
Let me share how we learn history the fun way!
Travel Back in Time
There I was with a high schooler, a middle schooler, two in elementary school, and a preschooler who wanted to be involved. I felt pulled in so many different directions. I hadn't yet learned to teach literature, writing, arts, music, and history together.
Is it possible to teach all ages together?
Yes it is! You can even teach science together, too. Math, I was never able to do.
One thing I have found in teaching all ages together is that it builds family unity. It is fun to learn together and the togetherness makes it even more fun!
We enjoyed participating in 4H for many years during our homeschooling journey.
It was a wonderful blessing for our family.
Although 4H is a county and state government-run program, we were blessed with so many new friends who supported homeschooling nad encouraged us in our journey. Our 4H group was made up entirely of Christian homeschoolers.
In our group, each mother was also a helper, but the children were able to hold different offices in the club such as president, secretary, chaplain, or treasurer. 4H also exposes children to parliamentary procedure and the different offices of a club. The secretary took minutes, the treasurer collected dues and managed the money, and the chaplain opened in prayer. The children learned to make a motion and second that motion!
How 4H Enriched Our Home School