Have you ever made a quadrama?  I try to fill our home school with lots of projects to make the learning as memorable as possible. . . always looking for things that stick in their minds!  We do lots of reading and I have my kids make book projects of their choice about the things they read.  Today my daughter finished reading Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne (we love the Magic Treehouse series!).  It was time for a book project!  {Oh, and to find out more about book projects and other things we do to encourage reading at our house, go take a peek at our Bookworms page.} She decided to craft a quadrama for her project since a pyramid is the perfect shape for a book about Egyptian pyramids.  She loved the project so much though, that I predict many more quadramas in our future, whether … click to read more

Design A Postage Stamp

Your kids can design a postage stamp of their very own.  How cool would it be to be a stamp designer? This printable can be used for lots and lots of things.  Here are a few ideas: Design a stamp about a famous person or event you are studying from history. Make a stamp similar to a coat of arms, that represents significant things about a historical person. After learning about a country, design a postage stamp that would highlight something or someone important from the country. Make your postage stamp feature an important invention or inventor. Create a stamp based on your favorite book, author, or character. Make a stamp all about you.  Draw yourself in the center surrounded by things that represent who you are. Design a postage stamp about an important scientist and their contribution. Make your postage stamp feature your favorite subject, or even the job … click to read more

Poetry Books For Kids

I took my kids into our library with one goal in mind: have them fall in love with poetry.  I wondered if it was an insurmountable task.  I’ve read them poems lots of times before.  Sometimes they even like them.  Sometimes.  If it’s Shel Silverstein anyway.  But I was determined this time to help them enjoy a wider range of poems.  My end goal is for them to enjoy writing poetry, but I’m not sure you can ever truly enjoy writing poetry if you haven’t learned to enjoy reading and listening to it. I took my lofty goal into the library and headed over to the poetry books section.  There were so many to choose from!  I hardly knew where to begin.  I soon found myself falling back on some already old favorites.  I knew my kids would like them, but I also knew I wanted more than what we … click to read more

Printable Reading Record

My two oldest are voracious readers.  The younger ones not so much.  They still struggle with the mechanics of reading and as long as reading is a chore, it’s not fun.  My goal is to get them to the point where they don’t have to work at sounding out the words.  That means practice. A friend told me that she has her kids read 50 chapter books and then then they get a treat. Something big like pizza at a restaurant followed by a movie.  Good idea. Now, the kids have to practice reading anyway, but in order to avoid at least some of the whining I thought I too would issue the 50 book challenge.  My 2nd, 4th, and 6th graders have to read 50 chapter books.  My K student has to read 50 easy readers.  And my high school boys have to read 50 books on their level. … click to read more

Story Maps

Story maps are a great way for kids to begin to understand the basic elements of narrative texts.  They can begin by reading stories and learning to identify each element, and then eventually they will also be able to begin writing their own stories using what they’ve learned.  This printable story map can be used equally well for recognizing and recording each element in a book and as an outline for writing original stories.  Click here or on the picture below to get the printable Story Map. The characters, setting, problem, and solution are the core elements of any story.  Here are a few helps as you learn about each element. Characters First, read a story out loud and then just talk about the characters.  List them, tell what each one is like both in physical appearance and personality.  Draw a picture of each character using the descriptions.  List their … click to read more

Cool Ideas for Book Projects

My kids greatly prefer book projects to boring old book reports.  Here are some they did recently. Garrett, five, did this book project last week. He read Wheels! by Annie Cobb. For his project he thought of other places we use wheels, places not mentioned in the book, and he made his own book. First he drew pictures of each of the wheels he thought of.  Here’s my favorite: pizza wheels!Then I scanned each of his pictures into the computer, cropped it, and inserted it into a document I made for his book. On each page I used a handwriting instruction font to write the words he needed to include. I printed out his book, added a cover and sewed it together.  Then he wrote the words, tracing over the handwriting practice font. Finally, Garrett had to read and present his book in front of the audience of his family. … click to read more

Canterbury Tales for Kids

The Canterbury Tales is a fun bit of literature, so don’t wait until your kids are in high school to start learning about Geoffrey Chaucer and his tales. The Background The Canterbury Tales was written by Geoffrey Chaucer in England toward the end of the 1300’s.  I’ll give you a little framework for the setting of the tales:  Less than fifty years earlier the Black Death had swept through Europe, killing perhaps a third of the population, the peasants of England had revolted around a decade earlier, demanding rights {which they didn’t get} They spoke Middle English at the time.  This is after Richard the Lionhearted and Robin Hood, but before King Henry VIII, the guy who had all the wives and removed England from the Catholic church. The story centers around a group of travelers who have banded together for protection from bandits in their pilgrimage toward Canterbury Cathedral, … click to read more

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas Book Project

Every year we read several versions of “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” the classic poem by Clement Clarke Moore, often called The Night Before Christmas.  It’s really interesting to read the same poem over and over, but with different interpretations by various illustrators.  Today we read a very beautiful and classically illustrated one alongside the version by Mercer Mayer with his little critters.  One was done with oil paints and has a old-time, formal feeling.  The other was done in an animated style with animal characters rather than people. The difference in tone is amazing. We talked about illustration and what an illustrator’s job is. Then I opened up my memory trunk and pulled out a version of the book that I made when I was a little girl.  I used a collage style to create illustrations for the poem.  It was made with yarn, fabric, glitter, pom-poms – all kinds … click to read more

Harry Potter Wand Tutorial

Any of our long time readers know what huge Harry Potter fans we are.  Michelle lovingly calls her homeschool Copher’s School of Mishaps and Mayhem (a wee bit like Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry).  We both have house teams and award house points, vying for the envied house cups which are awarded at our End of Term feasts.  The kids are enrolled in Defense Against the Dark Arts (scripture study), and whenever possible we dovetail our other subjects in with Hogwart’s subjects as well.  Astronomy, Ancient Runes, and Potions (Chemistry) have all made it into the curriculum.  We also give our kids O.W.L.S in place of grades. I’ve been reading the series to my kids lately and thought it would be really fun to throw a Halloween Feast and call it a Book Project!  (If you aren’t a long time reader and don’t know what a book project is … click to read more

Making A Case For Fairy Tales

All people should spend time engaged in classic literature.  It stretches our minds and causes us to analyze issues, think about themes, and see the world a little bit differently.  I generally base my book judgments on whether or not a book changed me somehow.  From the time we’re kids we should be engaged in reading classics (or having them read aloud).  The most basic classic literature for kids consists of our fairy tales. There are a huge number of people out there who make the case that fairy tales should be a thing of the past, that they are not politically correct, too violent, or just plain teach the wrong things. I hear arguments like: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs should be re-titled because “little people” is the pc term. Cinderella will teach little girls improper gender stereotypes about a woman’s role being housework. Reading Sleeping Beauty will … click to read more