Monday, September 30, 2013

Using Lego In Home Education - The Middle Years

lego homeschool
Lego is a huge part of my boy's lives and their love for it continues to change and grow in complexity as they get older. My kids loves the free play of the normal Lego blocks but are also developing an interest in the assemble kits. "Mum, Can I please get the Lego star wars deathstar? It's only $400...."
I've always known that Lego is 'good' for kids, for their developing creativity, problem solving and more. These reasons are more than enough motivation to encourage the use of Lego in our homeschool.
Why Use Lego In Home Education?
1. Kids love Lego, it's fun and motivating!
As delight-directed homeschoolers, I love using my children's interests and passions to impart different skills and knowledge. Lego is something I have used many a time to teach mathematical concepts, physics, engineering and even literacy. When a child is interested in a topic they have a motivation, a desire to learn and will readily accept and absorb what is being taught. Sometimes it's just me who needs to get creative and think of new ways we can use Lego in our homeschool!

 2. Lego Develops Creativity

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that children have more time and freedom to develop their creativity and imagination through play and free time.

3. Lego can be used across all academic areas

I'm slowly learnt to relax and trust my kids are learning through play even as they get older but we do often use Lego as part of our structured learning.

- Lego in maths
- Lego in literacy
- Lego to teach and explain physics
- Lego in engineering

Just this week I was told my 16 year old nephew who has always been a huge Lego guy is scoring top marks at school and wanting to pursue a career in engineering. He kindly donated all of his 'old' Lego to his young cousins (my boys) who's heads nearly exploded with joy when they saw the box full of assembled police cars, castles and people. It was like Christmas had come early! He is a great example of a child who clearly was not only learning through his Lego play but developing skills that are helping him academically and leading him to a hopefully, fulfilling career.

lego homeschooling
Ideas For Using Lego In The Middle Years......
Obviously the Lego kits are great for teaching kids to follow instructions and order....but there are plenty of other ideas that we have used.
1. Lego Ideas Books
lego homeschool
My boys LOVE these. There are 2 available. We borrow ours from the library but you can buy them at Target - they would make a great Christmas present!
You need a pretty big Lego collection to attempt some of the ideas in the book. We found a Lego specialist store in our state - the toy corner where you can buy individual pieces such as doors, windows, people etc as well as the bigger, more advanced kits if you are looking to expand your Lego collection.
2. Lego Documentary
I discovered this documentary about the Lego mega factory by accident on the national geographic channel - it was really interesting. Some of it is a little advanced for the middle year but the frequent images of Lego products being churned out of machinery held my boys attention for the most part!

3. Lego Social Events
Lots of homeschoolers love Lego and it's a great opportunity to help kids connect with others with similar interests.
- Lego playdates
- Show and tell Lego gatherings
- Lego technic groups (where kids can work together to build things..)
- Lego expos and shows - keep an eye out for Lego events in your state!
This is only the tip of the iceberg - there are so many great ideas out there for homeschoolers to use their child's natural love for Lego's to their learning advantage!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Brave Writer - Homeschool Writing Curriculum Review

We are struggling with writing at the moment. 7yo loves to write but is very resistant to the 'rules' of writing such as punctuation, capital letters etc. He enjoys most aspects of homeschooling but when I say we are going to do some writing I can see his body tense, his eyes roll and then the complaining starts....

We are currently trying out a few different curriculum to discover what is going to work for 7yo and Brave Writer is one of them. A fellow homeschooler suggested the brave writer 'jot it down' resource as I love curriculum I can use for both 7yo and 6yo and this resource is designed for kids aged 5-8.

The book introduces the idea of a 'brave writer lifestyle' and suggests this is the daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal rhythm in your homeschool that explores music, the arts, film, nature, literature, poetry and various writing practices in a natural, predictable flow.

It provides a guide, not a "to do" list of activities designed to support your child's learning and natural interest in the world around them.

writing curriculum homeschooling

What I like about this curriculum is that it keeps it simple, and fun. There is less forced sit down writing which is exactly what 7yo is resistant to and more enjoyment based learning and activities.

This year long language arts program incorporates 10 fun and engaging writing projects including a fairy tale project, art appreciation and a photo journal.

To get started we began with the photo journal project as I knew this would be highly motivating for both 7yo and 6yo. I asked them what they would like to make a photo book about and 7yo said he wanted to make a book about his rocks and minerals collection and 6yo said he liked the idea of taking photos of different things he does each day (as suggested in the book).

I really like the project ideas in this resource and also the general information and encouragement for homeschoolers included in the book.

This is undoubtedly one of the best resources for those who prefer a more relaxed, natural approach to writing in your homeschool.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this resource for the purpose of review. It is my honest and true opinion.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rocks And Minerals Study

geology homeschool

My 7yo has always been fascinated with rocks. So when he spied the national geographic rocks and minerals collection at our local newsagent his eyes lit up! I saw it as a great opportunity to foster his keen interest in geology and for me to learn something new along the way too.

There is something exciting about waiting for the next rock in the collection to arrive, going to pick it up and learning about something new.  And move over Justin Bieber (or whatever the female equivalent is these days) there's a rocks and minerals poster next to my son's bed!

rocks and minerals homeschool

I must admit that rocks and minerals don't intrigue me the way they do my son so I've had to be proactive in finding motivating and exciting ideas for exploring this topic.

To get some ideas on how I could expand on this interest I visited some of my favourite homeschooling blogs and sites. I discovered this idea on teaching the layers of the earth.

I followed the links and printed and laminated our own set of cards.

rocks and minerals study kids homeschool

We also went on to make our very own play dough model of the layers of the earth. Admittedly, ours wasn't as beautiful as others I found on the web but hey, we did our best!

I also purchased the magic school bus: inside the earth which we have read a few times together and discussed.

A trip to the museum to browse the rock section was also something we included in our study.

We have also had a good look through rocks and minerals for kids on youtube and even discovered this rocks and minerals website designed for kids.

I love seeing how motivated and passionate my kids are to learn about a topic that interests them. It still amazes me the things that spark their curiosity and I love being able to support them in their learning - just one of the many benefits of home education.

Who would've thought rocks and minerals could be so fascinating!