Happy May! I’ve got a lot going on this month, as I’m sure you do too. Our calendar fills up quickly and we are all full of activities and weekend events. One new thing I will be implementing is my 10-Minute Teacher Calendar. Everyday during the week there is a new calendar topic (and one for each weekend) that you can use to engage with your children. Maybe it will include a 10-minute discussion over dinner, or maybe it will turn into something you want to explore deeper to learn more. The hope is that we can use this calendar to add a few minutes of education to our day, as well as giving us the opportunity to connect and have a quality discussion with one another. Want to give it a try? Download the calendar here: May2015 10 minute teacher and hang it on your fridge. Everyday I will be posting here about that topic with links, resources and books you can use to further your discussion and exploration, and sometimes a few extra topic ideas. Let’s get started!
May 1st is Space Day, generally celebrated the first Friday in May. This day was created to remember the advances and discoveries we have made through space exploration. Here are some links you might be interested in:
Space Day Information and Events
General Space Information
Games and Education
Books, Sticker Books and Flash Cards
Click on the images for more information
We love reading and we love history. There are few things more exciting than getting a glimpse into what life in the past was like, especially when it is presented in well-told tales or realistic “you are there” language. We love our history book – we use the Children’s Encyclopedia of American History. But we like to supplement, and find other interesting books that tell the whole story and not just bits and pieces. So we’ve recently found a few historical non-fiction series’ that I want to share.
Blast to the Past – This series is about a group of school-children that run into historic dilemmas and are able to travel back in time to address the issue. For example, in Lincoln’s Legacy, he almost decided not to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation and the children traveled back in time to help Lincoln understand why the proclamation was important and see that his decision would change the United States forever.
My Name Is America – This series features a different person in each book and is formatted as journal entries. We are reading The Journal of Augustus Pelletier: The Lewis and Clark Expedition and are enjoying learning about his journey, his struggles, and the things he encounters along the way.
My America – The same format as My Name is America, these journal entry books follow a specific character for two or three books, learning more about their life as you go along. We are finishing book one of Elizabeth’s journey in My America: Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth’s Journey Book One. My son especially enjoyed telling me about Elizabeth’s relationship with John Smith and Pocahontas.
On My Own History is a well illustrated account of historic events such as the schoolchildren’s blizzard, the Galveston hurricane of 1900, or the composition of the Star Spangled Banner. The stories are sensitive enough for younger readers, but address the true event in a factual light.
Do you have a favorite historical non-fiction series? Please share it with us!
Around here, we try to do math every day, although we do mix it up a bit. For example, last week we did one or two worksheets out of our Saxon Math 1st grade workbooks, he finished the last few problems in his 2nd grade Lakeshore Common Core Workbooks, he started his 3rd grade Common Core workbook, and we spent a day practicing counting money (I’d give him different denominations and he had to see how much it all added up to.) We got the common core workbooks because we wanted to see how it was different from what we were already doing, and I chose different grades because I wanted to see what he already knows and what we need to start working on. He actually really enjoys doing these workbooks, minus the in-depth explanation of how he found his answer.
Since we started adding Usborne books to our collection, we have found several new books and tools that make math fun to learn and practice. We love the First Illustrated Math Dictionary. The illustrations are so playful that my 3-year old loves to sit down and read it. She practices counting and names all the shapes she finds. The book covers everything in a fun and kid-friendly way from counting from 1-100, how to use a calculator, lines of symmetry, number lines, counting in groups and so much more. We love it. It’s perfect for pre-k and up.
The next step up is the Illustrated Elementary Math Dictionary. This book has the same fun illustrations but adds more difficult mathematics to the mix. This is a great resource for students, but is also super-helpful for parents! This one gives you the tools you need to understand the math your kids are bringing home, and how to help them work through the problems.
We also love the Wipe-Clean activity books. The repetition is great for practice and the kids use their books over and over again. Two of our wipe-clean books are two years old and we still use them on a regular basis.
Here are some other great books and tools that will help you learn and love math! Click on the images for more information about each item.
Math Center Kits are available for grades K-2 and the Mastery Box sets are available for addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Looking for something specific? Please feel free to message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help you find what you’re looking for!
How do you make math fun? What out-of-the-box activities do you like to do with your kids?
April is National Poetry Month, and while we are on spring break this week, I am getting together our poetry study for next week. We will be working on three different types of poems, rhyming poems, acrostic poems, and haiku. Rhyming poems are pretty straight-forward. In a couplet, every set of lines has a rhyme at the end, while triplets and quatrains are sets of three or four lines with rhyming patterns like AAA and ABA for triplets, and AABB or ABAB for quatrains. These will be fun and I look forward to seeing what my kiddos come up with. Here are the guidelines for acrostic and haiku poems:
Acrostic poems are fun and easy to write. Choose a subject, and the letters from your word begin each line of the poem. The lines of the poem should tell a story about your word. Here’s an example:
Fish have flippers and fins.
In the ocean and lakes they live.
Swimming, swimming everywhere.
Happily swimming without a care.
Younger children can use short words of course, but you can increase the difficulty of this task by choosing longer words. If you want to add another educational element that increases the difficulty, choose something you’re studying, like the Civil War, and see if they can include facts about their topic in the poem.
I remember writing haiku when I was a kid. I liked this style of writing because it didn’t have to rhyme, but still, it could get tricky with the syllable requirements. Here are the guidelines for writing a haiku:
1st Line = 5 syllables
2nd Line = 7 syllables
3rd Line = 5 syllables
Haiku originated in Japan and in their original form, should evoke emotion about nature-related themes, especially the seasons. However, for learning purposes, you can teach your kids the basic structure using any topic. One thing to emphasize is the ability to tell a story or compose a complete thought with limited words. Here’s an example of a haiku:
An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
We picked up a few books about poetry that we will use for inspiration. This is what we chose (the links below are affiliate links):
What activities will you be doing for National Poetry Month?
We welcome the month of April with pranks and jokes. Some say it originated when the calendar changed from Julian to Gregorian and the beginning of the year was moved to January 1st instead of April 1st. Years later, people who still celebrated according to the Julian New Year in April were teased and pranked by modern calendar observers.
Anywho, all joking aside, there are lots of things to celebrate in April: Easter, poetry, math, libraries, writing. So in order to celebrate properly, I put together a pack of writing prompts with April-related topics that you can download here:
Also, April is National Poetry Month and I found this amazing poetry book that I am so excited to share with you. Dare to Dream…Change the World (aff) used to be available on my Usborne page. I just found it yesterday when I was searching for poetry books. However, it seems to be out of print there now. I found it on Amazon, so that’s the link I am sharing here. I LOVE the format of this book. It features poetry by prestigious poets who are writing about famous people who have changed the lives of many. Some of the subjects include Jonas Salk, Nicholas Cobb, and Steven Spielberg. In addition to poetry about the subjects, you’ll find a brief biological portrait. Dare to Dream became a writing contest for children who entered their own poetry and nonfiction passage about inspirational people. The results of the 2013 and 2014 writing contests were turned into free downloadable eBooks. You can download those here:
We will be spending a lot of time on poetry this month. Do you include it in your reading or schooling? What poets do your children love?