I have to admit that I often will put aside the “extras” especially when we are in a particularly busy or stressfull season of life. I ( who used to be an art teacher) am especially embarassed to say that art is often “pre-empted.” I am trying in 2010 to put more emphasis on the fine arts ( especially music and art) in our home school. We are doing some art instruction together, and one of my daughters has just started an online art program which she absolutely adores. Do you regularly include fine arts instruction? Tell me what your home school does.
Why does writing tend to be one of our most challenging subjects? In our homeschool, other areas are typically covered with ease… maybe a few frantic moments with math… uhmmm…. But most of our agravation stems from making an attempt at writing. I have recently posted about my two older daughters and their current struggle with research papers. Well, to update you on that – we are still in the notecard process. It is going slowly, but going. Today, I have been thinking about my two third graders… twins, of course, and writing from their vantage point. Well, I don’t know if that would be too good. Their vantage point would be the abolishment of any type of writing at all. They have learned most of the parts of speech, and understand capitalization and punctuation, but still hate putting complete thoughts into print. They especially hate putting several sentences together into paragraphs. With this in mind – I decided I would check out what the writing standards for third grade consisted of. (I don’t know, I guess I am a sucker for discouragement…)
Anyway, I have to admit that I was absolutely shocked at what the standards consisted of. My third graders would cry and scream and scream and scream if I carried out the “write and rewrite and rewrite” advice. I have to admit, I was a bit disapointed that my third graders seemed to be a bit behind the standards for their grade, however, it gave me a new goal! You see, the standards are to be used as our “goals.” I have often said it is difficult for the homeschool parent to see all the cracks and gaps in our children’s education… but today I had a great opportunity. The magnifying glass was held up – and I could see some BIG gaps. Check out this post about “gaps.” The positive side is that we have several months before third grade is finished, and I hope to use these standards as a guideline for improving our third grade writing skills. Maybe by May they will be writing several paragraph stories with examples and comparisons… whooohooo wouldn’t that be great!!!
Did you know that this week is Geography Awareness Week?
Well, I sure didn’t – at least not until I had to search for some geography facts for my children. This prompted me to think about how much (or how little) focus I put on geography education for my children. In my search I saw that there are many statistics out there underlining America’s apparent neglect of geography, which obviously supports the need for a Geography Awareness Week.
Some of the blame for America’s shortcomings in this area is due to the fact that most people think geography consists of naming the continents, countries, oceans, rivers, capitals, etc. But that is just the “tip of theiceberg.” Here is a quote that I love from iGeo:
“Geography turns out to be much more significant than many of us realize. It is much more than knowing facts and figures. Geography is about spatial patterns and processes. It is about frontiers, centers and peripheries, about tourists, terrorists and refugees, about trade of food, clothes, drugs and digital data, about population growth, El Nino, tsunamis and earthquakes. It is the fascinating story of an ever-changing world. Without geography you get lost.”
Wow! from that description it makes me feel like I am not even scratching the surface with geography. Ok – this really got my attention. So, I began to look for some online resources that might help us put some oomph back into our geography time.
First of all, online education literally puts the world at your fingertips. (I know – corny joke…:)) What more could you want when your subject is geography? Here’s a small sample of some of the “treasures” that I found:
- Use Google Earth to visit any place you are currently studying.
- Check out Geography Awareness Week at MyWonderfulWorld.
- Test geography knowledge here.
- Check out this really cool clearinghouse for all things geography.
- Play geography games at Sheppard Software.
- How about an online textbook written just for kids about geography!
- Check out the really cool Rader’s Geography4kids.
We had such a good time looking and “playing” with each of these sites… so take a minute or two or an hour and participate in Geography Awareness Week by spending some time learning about our wonderful world!
Oh, and by the way… in case you were really wondering where Tonga is – Tonga is located east of the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific. (I just learned that in my online travels!)