Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vocabulary Strategies

A variety of vocabulary strategies may be helpful in assisting your child or students in activating, acquiring, and applying appropriate vocabulary. These strategies are geared for middle schoolers, so feel free to modify the activities to fit your child and his learning style. . Many of these activities are great for the right-brained visual learner.

  • Using a word processor, your child will type new vocabulary words in a word bank using their choice of font and color.
  • Give your child six to ten vocabulary words in which they supply the meaning and provide an appropriate matching sentence.
  • Have your child research vocabulary words you have given them, and using a word processor, create a three-column chart inserting the vocabulary word in the first column, a definition in the second column, and either a synonym/antonym, image representing the word, or an original sentence in the last column. 
  • Have your child create their own crossword puzzle, cloze passage, multiple choice quiz, or matching quiz using vocabulary you have supplied, or their own. Siblings can solve.
  • Introduce new vocabulary as “word of the day.” Your child will write the word, identify its root word, prefix, suffix, synonyms, antonyms, illustrate the word, and use it in a sentence. This can be made into a vocabulary book.
  • Using a word processor, your child will type new vocabulary words  into a word bank and create a picture dictionary by inserting digital images or
    clip art representing the new vocabulary.
  • Using Paint or some other type of graphics software, your child will create mini-posters that include the vocabulary word, an illustration, and/or a definition.
  • Using a word processor, word art, or concept mapping, your child will create a word splash of new vocabulary. Your child will add definitions, explanations, or illustrations of the vocabulary. They may also add text boxes, comments, or sound clips.
  • Using sticky notes, your child will label items around the house…air duct, linoleum, radiator, beam, sill, pane, doorjamb, couch, stove…They can take pictures of the item with the vocabulary sticky note attached in order to make a picture dictionary.
  • Using pictures from magazines, your child will select pictures that illustrate various vocabulary words.
  • Using vocabulary from a text your child is reading, they will write a short story.
  • Create a “word wall” in which your child adds words and definitions relating to a particular area of study. 
  • Have your child complete a “word cycle”.
  • Have your child predict the meaning of vocabulary words you have given him.
  • Have your child create a word explosion by choosing a root word and developing new words by adding prefixes and suffixes to develop new vocabulary.
  • Have your child act out vocabulary words for sibling to guess.
  • Have your child create a comic strip, or strips, complete with speech bubbles demonstrating the meaning of new words.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fraction Lessons

Most kids need to “see” fractions in order to completely understand them. All kids have different learning styles, but visual, hands-on lessons seem to make fraction lessons much more fun and very easy to comprehend. Having a solid foundation of basic fraction concepts will make the advanced concepts easier to learn.

So just when do we use fractions around the house? We measure ingredients when we make cookies or a casserole…an eighth of a cup of this and a fourth of a cup of that. We divide the hour when we tell time -- it's half past two or it’s a quarter of five. Mom and Dad use fractions when they plan their budget. Their boss uses fractions when he figures the payroll. Sewing is full of fractions as is carpentry.

The most common hands-on visual for fractions is usually cutting a pizza into slices. The light bulb goes off and kids “get it”. Drag out the measuring cups and measuring spoons. Have the kids help you bake cookies. Turn the baking into a mini lesson. If I bake 10 cookies and I want 5 of them, what fraction is that? I have 20 cookies and there are 4 of us, how many do we each get? Introduce the idea of splitting cookies in half. As your child gets better and understands more, begin doubling and halving the recipe. Change the measurements in recipes to improper fractions and have your child convert them.

When asking your child to reduce a fraction, you might get a blank stare. Try asking your child to reduce 5/15 by saying you get 5 out of 15 cookies so what fraction is that? It makes it easier for them to understand they get 1/3. Sometimes they way we say things makes it easier or harder for kids, and we certainly don’t need more math anxiety. Try saying “shared” rather than “divided” in some of your fraction word problems. It makes it easier to visualize.

Have your homeschooler work on fractions at the grocery store. The kids are having friends over Saturday and they want each person to have 4 cheese crackers each for a snack. Have them figure how many packages they need to purchase based on how many crackers they will need. 

Just try to have fun with your kids as they learn math using everyday life skills. You will both be happier.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to School: Fast or Slow


Are you heading head first back into your back to school homeschooling routine, or are you easing into it? If new supplies and resources are arriving daily, I bet you and the kids can’t wait to sink your teeth into the new year. If you are continuing unfinished plans from last year, you might just be inclined to ease into the new semester. Both paths have pros and cons I am sure. Start hard and strong and chance burning out too quickly. Start slow and a little too easy and it might be like pulling sore teeth to finally get back into the groove. A blend of the two methods seems to be the obvious solution, but how in the heck do you blend them??

One solution is to only introduce one or two new ideas or resources each day, or half the first week and the rest the second week. At least that cuts down on info overload and keeps the kids anticipating what is still to come. It also lets the kids get into the routine of a few of the new programs before having all of them thrown at them at once. Another method is to only school half day the first week and full day the second week. Let the kids play educational games the first week after the half day of instruction is concluded. Spelling games like Matching Definitions is a fun game and is an easy way to ease back into school work while still having fun.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Homeschooling On The Go

I am excited to have Katie from You.Me. Us, guest blog today at 3D Learners. Katie is a homeschool Mom who lives in a very techy family. Please leave her a comment today, I know she will enjoy reading it. If you get a chance, visit Katie's blog and be sure to read the guest post I shared with her readers. 

                               Homeschooling On The Go

First off, let me start by saying thanks to Jackie for giving me the opportunity to guest post on her blog! It’s really cool to be able to contribute to such an informative and fun homeschooling blog. :)

My boys are about to turn 8 and 13 and we are long time homeschoolers. We’re a bunch of tech-junkies, through and through. We don’t do workbooks. We don’t do textbooks. My kids wouldn’t write on paper if I didn’t make them…they’d write on their Bamboo Tablets and send an email. :/

On top of being homeschoolers, the hubs and I also work from home, which means we have a lot of flexibility in our days. We have family spread out across our state. We enjoy weekend trips and we enjoy a good Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention whenever we can get to one. We have two soccer schedules we need to keep up with. Add those things to a fine arts program for homeschoolers that they attend weekly, scout meetings and 4H meetings…well you get that we are on the go a lot. A LOT.

So how do we manage to homeschool while never actually being at home, lol?

Fortunately, I have been able (through web searching on my own, and through fabulous suggestions from other homeschoolers) to find homeschooling programs and resources that we can use pretty much anywhere!

Our core program, Time4Learning, is completely online based. This means that there’s nothing to install or download. My boys’ logins, as well as my parent admin login, can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. This is really great when the boys want to spend a few days with their grandparents…they don’t have to pack a computer or worry about traveling with one. Neither do I. I can check their grades/scores, see their progress and even schedule an activity or lesson for them, from any computer I can get to.

Both of the boys have an iPad, and those are constantly loaded with books to read. This way, they have a good collection always waiting on them, and we don’t have to worry about library books or trips to the book store (unless we just want to, which is always possible). Even though they can purchase books from iTunes/App Store, they also downloaded the Kindle app, which affords them the opportunity to have ebooks they can lend to and borrow from their friends!

Since they do love being on their iPads, they usually appease my need for them to be constantly learning, lol, with some great educational apps. My boys enjoy ones like 10,500+ Cool Facts, Math Master and Oregon Trail.

Speaking of apps… I think our most favorite online resource is the one we use as their spelling curriculum; VocabularySpellingCity. We have been using it for a couple of years now and I honestly don’t know how we did spelling before we found this site! I love that I can create my own lists. I love that I can find a TON of lists shared by other members when I’m being lazy. But what I love most of all, is they just released their iPad app! When we went to download that app on all of our iPads, you would have thought we were downloading a treasure map or something!

It’s still new, so everything from the website hasn’t quite found its way to the app yet, but there is more than enough to keep the boys occupied. All of their assigned lists are there and they can use those lists to do a spelling test and/or a vocabulary test, and to play games like Sentence Unscramble and HangMouse (a family favorite!). There are a few other games too, and you can even find additional lists without having to leave the app.

We love the site, and we love the app. It’s easiest to use when you have a data or WiFi connection, but you can use the app without that. You just have to make sure that you access each list and activity before you leave the connection. You don’t have to complete the activity, just load it. So it caches it within the app for later use. When you do this, you want to make sure that you don’t remove the app from the app tray, or power off the iPad, but that’s it. Also, if I forget to do that and I know we are going to be without internet, all of the sample lists on the app can be used without a data or WiFi connection, so I’m covered with something they can work on. :)

There is time that we spend at home, even though it doesn't seem like it. But with those two programs (T4L and VSC), I am always comfortable that we have more than enough to take with us when we go. :)

Katie is a computer junkie, workbook hating, TV watching, iGadget addicted, eclectic homeschooling, soccer mom. A not-so-country girl, living in very country small town, she has been homeschooling her two boys since 2005. You can get a little glimpse of her when you visit her blog: You. Me. Us.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Internet Safety

Are your kids safe? Are you sure?

When Alicia was 13 years old, she made headlines as the girl who was lured by an Internet predator—and survived.

Alicia was a shy girl from a close-knit family, but on New Year's Day in 2002, she did something completely out of character. She agreed to meet a friend she had been chatting with online for eight months.

Back to school time reminds me how important it is for parents to introduce or review Internet safety. Our children are our top priority. Homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike face the dangers of not only online predators, but cyber bullying, malware, virus threats…

“I can tell you it’s like going to a big, empty field and putting a big plate of ice cream on a blanket and walking away for an hour - and coming back and finding out how many ants and flies are there, because that’s what it’s like. It’s almost unbelievable how many people are out there, every day, searching in chat rooms for children.”

– James Murray, Police Chief, Peachtree City, GA

Chat rooms are not the only place predators hang out, they are everywhere. Internet safety is critical for kids and parents. You must make sure your child is operating in a safe environment while online.

Here are sites with great tips about Internet Safety:

Also, Google just launched  a new curriculum you might be interested in reading about. Here is what the site says:

Google has developed an interactive curriculum on YouTube to support teachers in educating students on how to be safe, engaged and confident model netizens.

The initiative is aimed at students aged 13 to 17 and will help them to develop digital literacy skills on YouTube that would be applicable across the web.

So how safe are your children? Have you chatted with your kids about what to do and not to do while on the Internet?

Leave a comment about how you teach online safety to your children.