Nonfiction Activity Page: Kaluga Sturgeon

Nonfiction Activity Page

I teach language arts at home and I bounce around between topics so my kids don’t get bored doing the same activity. We use the LifePac language arts workbooks from Alpha Omega as our foundation. This way we always have something we can open and go to. But workbooks can be dry and repetitive when you do them everyday. So I like to change it up by adding my own activities now and then.

We have journals that we use for different things. My first grader chooses something to learn about (usually an animal) and she draws a picture and writes two to three sentences about what she learned. She can read and write on her own but still needs help with spelling, so she tells me what she wants to write, I write it down on a small dry erase white board, and she copies it into her writing journal. My fourth grader uses his to write short stories or keep notes that he wants to remember and come back to later. He copied down all the roman numerals in his so now he comes back to it every time he needs to refer to it for his math assignments.

I also make my own worksheets. I try to make them interesting, about something they wouldn’t generally learn about in a textbook or frame it in a fun way. The worksheet I’m sharing here is about the Kaluga Sturgeon, an ancient fish that is endangered because it is frequently caught and used for caviar. I highlight and define new vocabulary words directly in the worksheet and include a few questions about the main idea, details, and text features. Download your copy below. Enjoy!

Kaluga Sturgeon_With Questions_BookwormHomeschool

 

 

Becoming a Writer

Untitled design

I’m an author. I love coming up with ideas to write about and I love bringing other ideas to life through written words. There was a time in my life that I didn’t think I could be a writer because I didn’t enjoy making things up. Writing fiction was not my thing. When I was in sixth grade I took creative writing as an elective and the teacher told me over and over again that my writing was wrong. My ideas weren’t good. I didn’t set the scene or perfect the plot or use the right voice. She crushed my writing spirit. But I kept going. I never shared anything I wrote because I assumed everyone would think it was terrible, like she did.

Eventually I started sharing my poetry. My friends liked it. And I actually paid to have my poetry published in anthologies stuffed with thousands of other authors – who also paid. I think you’ll find me on page 537, column 2, third row down. I kept writing.

Then something happened. I started college at 19 attending off and on at local community colleges. I avoided English 101 for a while. When I finally registered for it, I was excited (because I like to write), but I expected to get a poor grade and a lot of criticism. When I turned in that first writing assignment – an informational essay about computers and education – I shrugged it off immediately. I did my best. The day she handed the assignment back I was completely ready for the bad grade that was heading my way. But it never came. Instead, I was shocked to see an A+ with curly red comments about being well thought out and nicely structured. Huh. Maybe I’m not terrible.

Something else happened. I remembered a day in second grade. I came home from school and set up a spot on the floor in front of the TV with my markers and a pad of pastel-colored paper. I wrote my own story of the first Thanksgiving, complete with pictures of corn and Indians. And I liked it. I read it to everyone. I hung it up. Eventually I transferred it to my scrapbook. It’s still there. As I remembered this, I realized what my path was – I’m a nonfiction writer. That’s what I was meant to do. It doesn’t matter that I can’t make up stories about unicorns and furry trolls in faraway lands. That’s not necessary for my journey.

I did eventually branch out to making things up. Actually, my last book was creative nonfiction. It was my job to take the characters in the story through time to meet famous scientists who developed advances in electricity like Ben Franklin, Nikola Tesla, and Michael Faraday. It’s one of my favorite projects so far. I can’t wait for that one to be in print so I can put it on my bookshelf.

Over the last few months I’ve received two of my latest books in the mail, and I don’t think that is ever going to get boring. Opening a package to find a book that I wrote, and then watching my kids read it?! Whoa. So mind blowing. And I think back to that teacher who thought I was terrible and sat me down for a conference after class about how my writing just wasn’t very good. How many times her voice echoed in my head, discouraging and condescending. I kept trying. Secretly. But I kept trying.

Today, I get to be role model for my kids. I may not write the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but I wanted to be an author, and here I am with four books under my belt. I did it. So now when I tell them they can be whatever they want if they work hard for it, they know it’s true because I did it.

Do you have a writing journey? I’d love for you to share it with me!

Our Book List: What We’re Using for Preschool

preschool booklist

This year we are officially starting preschool with my daughter. While I won’t be forcing any work on her, I want to be prepared with preschool-level curriculum that she will be able to use and learn from. Last year was our first year of homeschool and she loved sitting at the table with us while we did first grade work and I spent a lot of time searching for things for her to do and modifying 1st grade work to fit her level. While my preschooler will spend a lot of time doing creative activities and playing with play doh or sand, this year we’ll be more prepared with other learning activities.

Reading:

Start To Read Pack – The Start to Read Pack introduces letter sounds and follows the synthetic phonics system. It comes with 8 beginning readers, an activity book that reinforces the letter sounds, and a colorful poster to help us identify and master our letters.

Very First Reading Set – This 15 book set includes level one readers that focus on shared reading – the parent reads one page and the child reads the next. The pages that children read helps them master word sounds and builds up reading confidence. The end of each book includes story review activities, sequencing, and phonics lessons. The set also comes with a parent guide and online resources for additional learning resources.

Start to Read Pack

Math:

First Illustrated Math Dictionary – We’ve got this on our shelf already but we’ll be using it a lot more this year. The math dictionary introduces basic math concepts from counting to shapes and so much more (great for pre-k through 2nd or 3rd grade as it covers fractions and symmetry and lots of other advanced topics). It includes activity ideas as well. We’ll focus on learning the concepts and use our math manipulatives kit (bear counters, rulers, pattern blocks, etc.) that we got for our math program last year. If you want to know more about how we use our manipulatives kit (because we use it all the time) read my math post here.

Wipe-Clean First Math – This wipe-clean activity book comes with its own dry erase marker so kids can practice their early math skills in a fun way. We have others from this series and they get used constantly around here!

first illustrated math dictionary   first math

Spanish:

My First Spanish Word Book – We’ll be using this book to match words with pictures as we begin our adventure in preschool Spanish. She’ll get additional practice from the books her brother and I use that are closer to his level.

My First Spanish Word Book

Writing:

For writing practice we’ll be doing a lot of pencil and paper, but we’ll also have these two wipe-clean books on hand: Get Ready for School abc & 123 and Ready for Writing.

get ready for school abc & 123   ready for writing

 

What will you be using with your preschooler this year?

Making a Case for Making Your Own Books

i dont like to write

My son does not like to write. He fights it. He doesn’t mind drawing and he likes to use his hands in other ways to create, and occasionally, when he gets his head set on something he will do the writing he needs to do to accomplish his goal. But if I ask him to write a paragraph about what he learned about weather or the American Revolution, we usually end up frustrated.

He likes comic books and creating his own, so in response to his aversion to writing I tried to come up with a way to help him make his own books based on the subjects we are studying. I call them Fast Five Fact Books. Each page has space to write one fact he learned about his chosen subject, plus space to draw an illustration. He writes really big, so just in case, I add extra lined pages. Also, sometimes he gets inspired to do more drawing or creating so I add extra blank pages for illustrations. For example, when he did the George Washington book, he used a blank page to make a timeline showing the order in which the facts he wrote about occurred.

He’s in first grade and still has trouble with the concept of summarizing, so the last few that we did I let him write facts from the book without forcing him to “put it in his own words.” We’ll get to that point, but right now it just isn’t worth the fight. Right now, I just want him to get comfortable writing. The nice thing about the Fact Books is that he can grow with them. They don’t pigeonhole him into a certain level. He can write what he needs to or wants to and I can help guide him along the way. Either way, it is a great way to help us reinforce what he is learning, and get in some much-needed writing practice.

These are a lot like notebook pages, but to him, the value is seeing that he has completed his own book that he can assemble and go back to read later. Because he loves to read. Currently, we are putting ours together in a three-ring binder so he knows where they all are and can go back to that binder to get the book he wants whenever he wants. I’ll be posting more of these very soon but in the meantime, here are the Fast Five Fact Books we have completed:

Fast Five Fact Book George Washington

Helen Keller Fast Five Fact Book

Clara Barton Fast Five Fact Book

Here are some other resources we are adding to our collection to help us with writing:

Write Your Own Story Book  Write and Draw Your Own Comics  i love words  i love people

Usborne Publishing Ltd. (UK) has no connection with these pages and does not sponsor or support their content.