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

Topographic Maps

We have been learning about elevation and topographic maps and I could tell the kids weren’t quite grasping the idea of contour lines.  They understood that the lines meant a change in elevation, but couldn’t quite visualize the spatial concept of it.  I decided a hands-on lesson was in order. EXPLORATION: Topographic Maps With A Mountain Model I covered our school table with white butcher paper and got some colorful markers, dental floss, and some rulers out.  I made a big lump of salt dough and created a mountain with it in the middle of our table.  The kids all helped sculpt the mountain. We picked up the mountain and one by one, put it right in front of each kid, allowing them to trace the outline of the mountain on the spot in front of them using a marker.  Then we put the mountain back in the middle. Next, … click to read more

Hudson River School Art Cards

We created the printable Hudson River School Art Cards to help you teach your kids about fine art.  This is part of a series of art and music cards we here at Layers of Learning have created.  Each set includes postcard size images of famous paintings paired with a description card about each painting. The Hudson River School was begun in about 1825 by Thomas Cole and his friend Asher Durand in the Hudson River Valley and lasted until around 1900. It was part of the larger Romantic movement that was taking place in Europe, but instead of ruined abbeys being overtaken by trees, the Americans portrayed their cultural heritage, untamed wilderness. The themes of the Hudson River School include the ability to find and commune with the Divine in nature, the value of wild spaces and human interconnectedness with them, and how civilization encroaches on nature. The first generation … click to read more

Glass Marble Magnets

My kids love making glass marble magnets.  They decided to make some into little Valentine’s gifts this year.  You can make them in any theme; we’ve made alphabet ones, some that use each letter in a person’s name, lots of holiday ones, and seasonal ones.  You can also just choose some that have colors, designs, or paper that you like. Here’s what you need to make glass marble magnets:  glass marbles (we use the flat ones), button magnets, papers, glue, scissors, and a hot glue gun.  We also used nail polish for some of ours. Start by putting your glass marbles over various papers until you find the one you like the look of.  We used lots of pinks and hearts since ours are for Valentine’s Day.  This time we used scrapbook paper, but often we just use old magazines and find little bits that we like the look of … click to read more

Romantic Music Cards, Part 1

These printable Romantic Music Cards include portraits of famous composers from the Romantic period along with a card featuring one of the composer’s most famous pieces and a little information about the composer.  We included the composer’s name on the portrait cards, but not on the description cards so that kids can practice matching the composer to their music. We also created a second set of Romantic Music Cards, Part 2 for the later Romantic composers. Romantic Period Music The Romantic period in music is part of the overall Romantic movement that also included art and literature. It was a reaction to the order and precision of previous music and was characterized by emotionality. Many Romantic composers were fascinated with the wonders and power of nature.  Their pieces were composed to depict natural settings and seasons. Further this was the time of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle class. … click to read more

Teaching Spelling, A How To Guide

I never learned all the spelling rules.  I’m a natural speller and I kinda hoped my kids would be too.  I just look at a word, even one I’ve never seen before, and use my innate instinct to tell if it’s right or not.  Sometimes I have to look words up, but it’s a gut feeling that I know something doesn’t look right that sends me to the dictionary.  My kids got none of this instinct.  The spelling gene just kind of skipped over them. I’ve long maintained that the hardest subjects to teach are often the ones you are best at.  When something just comes easy to you it can be hard to break it down into easy chunks for someone who struggles with it.  It took me a long time to figure out the best way to teach spelling to my kids, but we’re finally making really good … click to read more

Civil Rights Bus Craft

This is a printable paper craft kids can do to help them learn about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. Inside the windows of the bus and in the door are some of the most important  leaders of the Civil Rights movement including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Ella Baker. We chose a bus because one of the major tools to gain publicity for the Black Rights cause and force change were the bus boycotts in Montgomery and other cities.  Also, many date the beginning of the Civil Rights movement to the day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and was arrested for it.  This is not the day that people began working for equality and civil rights, but it was perhaps the day that the movement entered the public eye. Before doing the … click to read more

Romantic Art Cards

These Romantic Art Cards are printable and intended to be a tool to help you teach your kids about fine art.  As we learn more about something we are more able to see with a trained eye and understand with a trained mind.  Therefore, the more we understand, the more we enjoy the art.  And that is the real purpose of fine art, to bring pleasure and understanding. The Romantic period in art followed the Neoclassical period and preceded the Impressionist movement, spanning from about 1800 to 1850. Romanticism included many different styles and subjects for painting but was unified by a few characteristics, especially emotion, nature, and current events. Romantic artists were trying to evoke feelings in their audience with the paintings they made. Often the subjects of the paintings were making social or political statements. Even landscape painters of the time wanted to evoke feelings of regret, longing, or … click to read more

Ice Marbles

Ice marbles are the perfect cure for the winter blahs.  We often start feeling really cooped up in the middle of winter with long days of homeschool and short days of sunshine.  These bright bursts of color liven us all up. They are really easy to make, but you have to plan ahead so they’ll have time to freeze before the sun goes down and it’s too dark and cold to play. Fill up some balloons with food color dyed water.  We used full size balloons (12 inch), but didn’t fill them all the way.  You can choose the size you’d like.  Tie the balloons off and set them in the freezer. Let them sit it the freezer until they are frozen solid.  When they are hard, take them out of the freezer and peel the balloon off of the outside. Then put them out in the snow to play … click to read more

Memorize the Presidents Printable Cards

Here are some “Memorize the Presidents Printable Cards”, with names and pictures of the Presidents of the United States in order.  Click here, Presidents of the US Memory Cards, or on the image to open the pdf to print. Print the cards onto heavy paper or card stock then cut them apart.  If you want them to last, laminate them. First practice getting the presidents in order from memory using the cards.  Then work on memorizing the presidents without the cards.  Take away a few cards at a time and say the presidents in order over and over.  In a week you and your kids can have them memorized. Presidential Fact Cards This second set of Presidents of the US Fact cards has one fact about each president.  Kids can match the fact with the correct president.  Work on getting these memorized as well.  We chose something (or two) significant about each … click to read more