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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

At this time of year, a favourite activity for many families is visiting the pumpkin path, going on hayrides, and picking out the perfect pumpkin. If you are visiting or have visited the pumpkin patch this fall, here are some fun activities you can do at home with your pumpkins:

Science:

PredictWill your pumpkin sink or float?  Test your prediction in the bathtub!

Math:

Have your children estimate the circumference of the pumpkin by cutting a piece of string the length they think is correct, and measuring how long it is. Then, actually measure the circumference, and see how close (or far!) their prediction was, and why

How much does your pumpkin weigh?  Again, have the kids make a prediction, and then compare their prediction to the actual weight.  You could also have your kids create a graph showing their prediction and actual heights and weights.

Open your pumpkin up, and take a look at how many seeds are inside. If your are feeling very ambitious, you could predict how many seeds there are, and then count them! (For younger students, this is a good chance to practice tally marks, or grouping and counting by ten)

After counting and washing those seeds, try roasting them, and eating them.  And of course, the pumpkin can make a wonderful pie! (These are great activities to practice measuring for younger ones.)

Language Arts:

Journal about the trip to the pumpkin patch, or create a photo booklet that tells the story of their trip….

Create an acrostic poem, using the letters from the word PUMPKIN to start each line of the poem.

Art

Paint a beautiful pumpkin patch picture. One of my favourite art websites, art projects for kids, has a great activity for this. You can check it out here.

Most of all, have fun, and enjoy schooling with your kids!

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Love to Write

How do we raise kids who love to write? We all know about the importance of the 3 “R’s”: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. However, while homeschoolers are traditionally very strong in math and reading, writing is an area that many struggle to fit in to their day. It doesn’t come in a neat package, progressing from a to b to c, and it can be difficult to motivate our children to write when there is no specific audience. Despite these challenges, giving our children strong writing skills and a love of writing and words is probably one of the best gifts we can give them.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions:

1.  Just as you make time for reading and math each day, make time for writing. Have everyone write each day for a certain amount of time, even if some days it is just 15 to 20 minutes. Have a set time so that your kids know what to expect and it becomes routine. (If you write  at the same time as well, it will help them to see that this is a life long skill.)

2.  Make it fun! Don’t edit everything your children produce, or expect spelling to be perfect. You will want to go through the editing process with some of their writing, and you can make that a big deal – edit for spelling and ideas, print it out on the computer, bind it together into a book form, etc., but don’t do this for every piece of writing.

3.  Get a good idea book, and run with it. One of my favourites is If You’re trying to Teach Kids How to Write, You’ve Gotta Have This Book! written by Marjorie Frank. It’s full of excellent ideas to inspire creativity.

4.  If you are doing multi age teaching, you can do this together! Give the kids all a topic to write about, but don’t stop there (or you’ll end up with blank stares and blank papers!) Come up with ideas together, and write them on a board. Think of some excellent descriptive words that you could use for your topic. Write a brief outline, so they have a framework to write from. Then each child can write their own story (your expectations will be based on their age and ability) or they can write a story together. One can scribe for the group, and they can go around the table sharing ideas or contributing sentences. Generating ideas together is also helpful for informational writing or written narrations, after you have read about something together.

5.  Have a younger child dictate a story to an older child, who scribes it for him or her. This is helpful for both students. The older child can encourage the younger child to express ideas in a sentence form, and at the same time, the older child is organizing what he or she hears into paragraphs, using correct punctuation.

6.  Make a new ending to an old story (or read almost to the end of a book and have your child write their own ending). Again, this could be a cooperative venture, or each child could do this at his or her own level.

7.  Find some fun pictures in magazines, and talk about what might have happened before or after. Write about it.

8.  Journalling is an easy and fun way to add writing to your day, and when kids journal about what they’ve learned, it helps them to remember it more clearly. A great idea is to take pictures while on a field trip, and use those pictures to illustrate the writing. As a bonus, these are always fun to look back on. Again, if they are stuck with a blank page, discuss ideas together, and talk about what you enjoyed or learned.

9.  Do a variety of writing! Write letters, lists, recipes, how-to instructions, poetry, power points… There are so many ideas, but the main one is….write!

Remember: Have fun, and keep up the writing!

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