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Top Tips for Making Homeschool fun!

top tips for making homeschool fun

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Top Tips for Making Homeschool fun! is a post from Confessions of a Homeschooler. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Erica on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest! Also be sure to stop by her Community to join the discussion or her Store to see her latest items!

I love making homeschooling an engaging and hands-on experience for my kids!

My main goal when we started homeschooling was to make learning fun! Adding in tactile, hands-on, and engaging activities to our day encourages my kids to enjoy learning, and using all of their senses helps make the experience all that more memorable as well!

Finding ways to change otherwise boring, worksheet-type activities, into hands-on, tactile, and even kinesthetic activities can really help foster your child’s love for learning.

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Here are some of my tips for making activities hands-on and fun!

  • Get a cookie sheet, fill it with sand, sugar, or salt and let your child trace letters in the sand.
  • Practice writing on a white board with dry-erase markers (kids love those!)
  • Have your use a stamp and ink, then stamp inside the letter shapes
  • Cut letters out of construction paper, lace through the letters, poke the letters with a push pin (activities all available in my Letter of the week Preschool Curriculum)
  • Fill a gallon ziplock bag with washable tempera paint about 1/3 fill, then carefully seal the bag so it lays flat. Tape it to the counter and have your child write the letters in the paint. The counter will show through where your child presses.
  • Use Do-A-Dot Markers to fill in letter shapes
  • Use bubble magnets to write letters (Or make your own pom-pom magnets)
  • Use pattern block tiles to create letter shapes
  • Use dry-erase markers to practice wriring
  • Use Jumbo push pins or toothpicks to poke holes along a printed letter
  • Read TO your kids a LOT! Find SHORT books they are interested in and sit and read with them in the evenings before bedtime. Make it a routine. Find books with pictures as well, most beginner readers come with fun illustrations. And if they are younger get a book that is tactile as well.
  • Be patient 🙂 Reading comes with practice and lots and lots of patience! Kids will get it when they are ready, some earlier, and some later.

Another thing I loved making more kinesthetic and hands-on was our phonics and spelling practice. We used word cards to spell the words with Magnetic Letters. I just used a colorful little cookie sheet, and printed out her word list on paper, then cut them out.

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Letter Tile Spelling: I love using letter tiles! I have this colorful little cookie sheet, we practice spelling out our words on the tray with the letter tiles! It’s not only fun but also a great way to work on fine motor skills, letter recognition, and spelling all at the same time!

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Stair Phonics:

I used to do this with all 3 kids at the same time! They each got a question and if they got it correct, they hopped down one stair. If they were incorrect, they hop back up one stair. The first one down wins! Man, I miss these days!

  • Prek: Letter/number flashcards: Name the Letter & Sound 
  • Kindergarten: Show a CVC word card, have your child read the word 
  • 2nd Grade and up: I say a spelling word, have your child spell it 
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Hop Along Phonics

We also do the same type of activities with our Hop Along Balls. I’ll sit on one side of the room and they hop around in a circle. Each time they get to me, they have to answer a question to get through the gate, a.k.a. my arm or leg sticking out. 

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Some days I’ll even let them use the balls as chairs at their desks. Just simple movement helps them focus on the work at hand. I got our Hop Along Balls here, and I have to say it’s been the best money I think I’ve spent! They love these balls, even when not in school. Our “Jumping Phonics” usually ends like this, with everyone giggling and smiling and knowing their phonics and spelling words!

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Spelling Strips: These are are dry-erase wipe-off sentence strips. We use the cards to practice writing their spelling words on. I don’t know what it is about dry-erase markers but my kids love them!

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Alphabet Stamps: I love this activity, it works on fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, letters, spelling, and reading all at once! Simply give your student some plain copy paper, cute alphabet stamps, and some colorful ink pads, and let them practice writing their spelling words! Have them read the words back to you when they are finished.

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One of the lovely things about homeschooling is that we can meet our kids where they are and help them unlock any blocks they may be experiencing through our curriculum choices! Making activities hands-on and tactile can really improve their learning experience, help them focus, and improve memory retention too!

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration to make your homeschooling experience more engaging and fun for your kids!

The post Top Tips for Making Homeschool fun! appeared first on Confessions of a Homeschooler.

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Strew to Learn | Five Days of Inspiration and Support For Strewing In Your Homeschool

strew to learn five days of inspiration and support for strewing in your homeschool

What is strewing and how can it help you homeschool? We strew to learn in our day to day and it has made all the difference. This is all about how strewing works and everything you need to get started.

I love to sleep in, snuggled deep into my covers, all cozy warm while the world gets started without me.

It’s a little piece of Heaven.

Two of my children are just like me in that regard, and for that, they’ll always be my favorites. Shhhhh… don’t tell the other two. ::wink::

The other two are the type of morning people night owls like me love to hate. They wake up talking. Ready to tackle the adventures of the day. And they want to drag non-morning people like me along with them, not understanding why we can’t form coherent sentences right off the bat.

And so I thought I was doomed to be a homeschool failure from the start.

But I wasn’t.

Strewing saved my mornings, and taught me that learning really does happen all the time.

Our homeschool has evolved over the years as I’ve gotten out of the way, and let my kids drive their own learning. I fill our home with fun and educational games, open-ended toys, amazing books, engaging documentaries, and give the kids rich experiences, and then watch what they get excited about and give them more of it.

I strew to inspire learning, creativity, and a love of exploration.

People ask all the time about the things I strew and how to do it because I share about it on Instagram and during my weekly Facebook Live chats.

And to answer them — and you! — I’m bringing you a quick and easy, no-fuss, chock-full of inspiration and ideas, five day series to encourage others to incorporate more strewing into the day.

Strew to Learn - Five Day Series of Support and Inspiration for Strewing Success

The Strew To Learn In Your Homeschool Series

I hope this series inspires you to enjoy your kids and their learning more and more. You have amazing kiddos with great ideas, and those kids know what they love when they find it. When we act as facilitators of learning, rather than impart-ers of knowledge, we give our kids ownership of their own learning, and we make it more fun for them. And, truthfully, more fun for us as well.

 

What You’ll Get

  • One email a day for five days focusing on the benefits and practice of strewing
  • My best tips and inspiration for using strewing to create a more delight-directed and child-led approach to your homeschool
  • Access to a growing library of subscriber-only resources, discounts, monthly giveaways, AND my favorite resources for strewing, gaming, reading, and learning
  • Support and encouragement via weekly newsletters and in a brand-new private Facebook Community for Raising Lifelong Learners (coming soon!) readers and listeners
  • And, for those of you following the series during its inaugural weeks (before February 9th, 2018), a chance to win a rock and gem collection to strew — curated just for you by my kiddos as an example of one of their favorite things for me to strew (details below)

How to Join: Strew to Learn | Five Days of Inspiration and Support

Strew to Learn - Five Day Series of Support and Inspiration for Strewing Success

Do you want to see strewing in action?

Be sure to follow Raising Lifelong Learners on social media because we share the things we’re doing to encourage a love of learning and cultivate creativity every day — and you’ll be the first to hear about new challenges, posts, and podcast episodes! Can’t wait to get to know you!

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AlexaSchooling | Using the Amazon Echo for Homeschooling

alexaschooling using the amazon echo for homeschooling

“Alexa, how do you spell instrument? i-n-s-t-r- Alexa! Spell instrument. u-m-e-n-t,” my eight year old lays sprawled out on the floor surrounded by colored pencils, Calico Critters and their teeny-tiny musical instruments, and a blank book in which she’s writing a story about those to critters and the concert they’re putting on tonight. Our Amazon Echo Dot is by her side.

“Alexa, how do you spell auditorium?”

I smile and leave the room, knowing that we’ll all be treated to a read-aloud soon.

And a read-aloud from this particular kiddo is extra special. My third child — the 8yo — is a struggling reader. We suspect either dyslexia or a processing disability, but haven’t gone through formal testing at this point. She has been assessed and diagnosed with anxiety and sensory processing disorder.

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” ~ E. L. Doctorow📝 . I don’t teach writing. There… I said it. I’m a writer and reader who adores the written word above most things. But I don’t teach my kids writing. ✍️ . Despite the fact that I don’t teach writing, most of my kids are writers. They see themselves as people with things to share. They write stories and plays and lists and schedules and reports. They write all day long, and they share their writing with anyone who will listen. ✏️ . They’re funny, clever, and full of cool ideas. And all I do is leave blank books, spiral notebooks, pens, colored pencils, and markers all around and spell an occasional word. 🗒 . And I listen. 👂🏻 . Writers want to share their stories and know that what they have to share is valid and worth it. Don’t stress about the nouns and verbs and conjugations, mamas. Revel in read alouds and shared stories and scribbled on a blank page. You’re raising writers. 💕 . Share your little writers too & join in with the #raisinglifelonglearners January photo challenge. 📝💕📝💕

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And Alexa is helping her gain confidence.

I was hesitant to order an Amazon Echo at first. Honestly… the idea of a device waiting for the “wake up word” and listening all the time? It’s just creepy. But, we’ve gotten into listening to audible books more and more as a family, and I was planning to buy a bluetooth speaker to play the books from my library. I decided to get an Echo instead.

And I’m so glad I did.

The truth is, actually, that I ordered the Amazon Echo Dot on Black Friday and handed it to my husband when it came in the mail and told him he could give it to me for my birthday the next week. Cheating perhaps… but it’s a way to make sure I get something I can use instead of more fuzzy sleepy socks and another candle. This is marriage after 20 years…

AlexaSchooling | 10 Ways We Use Alexa for Learning

It’s funny, really, that I didn’t order the Echo Dot to be used in our homeschool. It was a totally selfish purchase. I wanted to be able to listen to a favorite podcast while doing the dishes or making a(nother!) meal, and I wanted to be able to say, “Alexa, play Wonder from our Audible library” from across the room. SO much easier than handing over my phone and connecting it to a bluetooth speaker.

But I didn’t count on all the great ways my kids would find to use it IN their homeschooling. And, isn’t that the way of it? If we get out of our own way (and theirs) they’ll find amazing ways to learn about everything.

They’re using Alexa for:

  • Spelling: All the kids have taken turns asking Alexa to spell words, though if I’m honest, none of them melt my heart as much as that 8yo struggling reader does when she uses it.
  • Probability: The kids found that they can ask Alexa to “roll a die” or “pick a card” and have been found charting the results and comparing them over several sessions to see what numbers and cards come up most often. What?! Who says math has to be taught with a text book?
  • Weather: I was tired of reminding the kids what the weather would be like each day to help them figure out what they should wear — and they fought me on the clothing choices anyway — so now I send them to Alexa and she reports the weather and they choose their clothes accordingly. It’s kind of fun to hear them ask about weather in other parts of the country, too, and sigh over places they’d rather be.
  • Timer: We need timers set many times during the day — when one is on the computer and another one wants to use it, when we need to be loading up the van to go somewhere, to know when to take the cookies out of the oven, to help a certain child know when to end the conversation so mommy can take a break… Alexa makes it easy.
  • Math: My younger two use Alexa to help them practice skip counting and to compute simple calculations.
  • Dictionary/Thesaurus: Did you know that you can ask Alexa to define words and give you synonyms for them too? My kids use this feature when they’re writing or trying to use new challenge words in sentences throughout the day.
  • Music: We use Alexa extensively for music. The kids can ask her to play a sampling of a composer’s work if we’re doing music appreciation. They can play songs they love for an impromptu dance party — It’s Raining Tacos, anyone?
  • Research: My kids ask a lot of questions. About everything. And I don’t always know the answers to their questions, much to their frustration. They now have a go-to resource they can sit by and ask all the things they’re dying to know right this minute. The cool thing about that, though, is I’ve seen the kids using those blank books we love so much to write nonfiction books about the animals or topics they’re “researching” through Alexa. When a kiddo is voluntarily writing a report, I call it a win.
  • Audio Books: This was my initial reason for getting the Amazon Echo Dot in the first place. We love our Audible subscription. I use the credits each month to buy expensive audio books that I want to have in my library, like the Harry Potter books, and then watch for discounts on other books to add for a few dollars here and there. We all listen, doodle, craft, play a game, etc. each day. It’s relaxing and saves my voice.
  • Podcasts: This is a newer addition to our homeschool. I’ve listened to podcasts for awhile, my husband is a huge fan of audio content, and my kids are loving several shows right now. We can ask Alexa to pull up podcasts we love and listen over lunch or snacks.

Alexaschooling - Using the Amazon Echo for Homeschooling

Pssst! You can grab a cheat sheet with all these ideas ready for you to print and post near your Echo. Just enter your email below and I’ll send it over to you!

AlexaSchooling | Fun Alexa Skills for Kids

I have to admit that the Amazon Echo can do a bunch of cool things through the add-on Alexa Skills users can activate either through the app or just by telling her to open them. Some of our favorites include:

  • The Magic Door: This is a choose your own adventure story skill that kids can follow along with. I haven’t loved all the stories, and they definitely need to add more, but it was fun for awhile.
  • Spelling Bee: Alexa can challenge kids to a spelling bee and adjust it to their age-level. Super cool — and way better than a spelling book!
  • Hangman: Another great way to practice spelling skills without a spelling program.
  • Jokes: Alexa tells jokes. You can ask her to tell you a joke, or specify that you’d like a knock knock joke. My kids love this, and it’s great for a little brain break when we need one.
  • Cat/Dinosaur/Dog Facts: Alexa has a skill for each of these topics and literally has thousands of different facts related to one of those three animals. “Alexa, enable Dog Facts Skill. Alexa, tell me a dog fact.” And on and on and on… Go! Drink that cup of coffee while the kids are being peppered with facts by Alexa!
  • Twenty Questions: Now they can play the game with someone who won’t become numb with the monotony.
  • Simon Says: This is another great brain break skill. Break up activities with this classic game.

These are just some of the Alexa Skills we’ve discovered and use during our day. I’m sure there are more and that I’ll add to this list regularly.

As for that super sweet struggling reader? Pop on over one afternoon and you’ll probably find her working on her next story — with her co-writer, Alexa.

I got the Amazon Echo Dot for myself... but I didn't count on all the great ways my kids would find to use it IN their homeschooling. And, isn't that the way of it? If we get out of our own way (and theirs) they'll find amazing ways to learn about everything...

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Homeschool Reading Curriculum for Kindergarten

homeschool reading curriculum for kindergarten

Looking for homeschool reading curriculum for your kindergartener?  Look no further than the Pathways to Reading Homeschool Basic Foundational Curriculum!  Research and evidence-based and adapted specifically for the homeschool setting!

Pathways to Reading Basic Foundational Reading Curriculum 1

When we decided to homeschool last year, I looked at about a zillion homeschool reading programs for my daughter.  As a former first grade teacher, I was PICKY with a capital P!  I knew I wanted something just like the curriculum I used when I taught.  So when I couldn’t find what I was looking for, that is exactly what I decided to do.  I asked permission from Pathways to Reading, since I had attended their week-long training back when I first started teaching, to purchase their curriculum and use it one-on-one with my daughter.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this decision.  My daughter grew so much as a reader this past year!!  Pathways to Reading has chosen to adapt their curriculum for homeschoolers!  Long story short, I have gotten to be part of the development of this adapted curriculum and it is AMAZING!

 

The BEST Homeschool Reading Curriculum for Kindergarten:

Pathways to Reading Homeschool is a foundational reading program for homeschoolers adapted from Pathways to Reading, a curriculum used in schools and clinical settings for the last 20 years.

  • Includes explicit and systematic instruction in all 5 reading pillars as identified by the National Reading Panel:
    • Phonemic Awareness
    • Phonics
    • Fluency
    • Vocabulary
    • Reading Comprehension

  • Emphasizes advanced phonemic awareness to aid in orthographic mapping (the process of creating a sight vocabulary where words are automatically recognized)
  • Rooted in the science of reading
  • Evidence-based with multiple research studies associated with school curriculum that show statically significant positive outcomes
  • Parent training, ongoing support, and supplemental videos to aid instruction

 

Orton-Gillingham Homeschool Curriculum

Pathways to Reading Homeschool adheres to the principles of Orton-Gillingham instruction, is multi-sensory and explicit in its approach towards phonemic awareness and phonics.  In addition, however, Pathways to Reading Homeschool offers advanced phonemic awareness to help students with reading difficulties, especially those with dyslexia.

 

Check it out now:

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7 Executive Functioning Activities for Small Children

7 executive functioning activities for small children

The basement was a complete mess. Boots, coats, scarves, and hats were strewn all over the floor — right next to the shelves and hooks on which they belonged. When I told my kids to bring their things to the basement, I wasn’t specific enough, I guess.

I didn’t help them scaffold and build their executive functioning skills and so, while I was frustrated, it was mostly with myself.

Executive Functioning Activities for Young Children-The basement was a complete mess. Boots, coats, and hats were all over... I was frustrated with the lack of executive functioning skills my kids displayed.

What is Executive Function?

The official definition of executive functions is that they are a set of processes that have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.

To help your child develop proper executive function skills you must be willing to allow your child to fail.

You need to give your kiddo a chance to figure things out for himself. If your child is attempting something that you know he can do then step back. However, this needs to be balanced with helping when necessary so the child doesn’t get too frustrated.

Basically, parent your child to be autonomous.

Executive Functioning Activities for Young Children

 

Activities for Young Children to Aid Executive Function Skills

Ask your child explain or teach you something. When you know something well enough you can teach it to someone else. This skill shows not only understanding of order but memory. Pick something simple such as making a sandwich or how to wash a dish.

Play games. Games provide an opportunity to exercise memory, order, and following rules in a low stress and fun way.

      

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Use a multisensory approach when assigning tasks. Orally explain task such as a bedtime routine to your child. If your child is old enough to read, then write the routine down. If not, create a pictorial routine. You may want to explain the routine while playing hopscotch or throwing a ball back and forth.

Encourage flexible thinking. Take an ordinary object and ask your child what it can be used for. Try to encourage your child to come up with as many out of the box ideas as possible.

Use simple worksheets to practice following directions. Puzzles, activities, and worksheets help little ones scaffold their direction following so that they can eventually follow multi-step directions without getting hung up. Try simple worksheets like the one below to practice on. (You can download your own copy of this worksheet for free by clicking the download now button and entering your email address. It will come right to your inbox.)

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Wordplay. Another way to encourage flexible thinking is with wordplay. You can create puns, read Amelia Bedelia books together, or tell silly jokes.

Encourage organization simply. If your child has a terrible time keeping her room organized, then provide simple solutions. Provide supply caddies and tote boxes that are clearly marked. For instance, put stuffed animals in one tote and shoes in another or whatever works for you. Use a supply caddy for art supplies so your child can easily see when something is out of place and correct it.

Simple steps that are visual can help a child practice organization.

Got any other tips for teaching little ones executive functioning skills? Share in the comments.

For more great parenting tips check these out:

      

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Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

meeting the asynchronous needs of your gifted child

I remember her online comment like it was yesterday.

Her seven-year-old was reading at an eleventh grade level, had just completed sixth grade math, was exceptionally emotional, and had trouble holding a pencil.

the aysnchronous needs of your gifted child

She was struggling to meet all of her daughter’s needs as a new homeschooling mom and was reaching out for help.

Other readers chimed in, some offering great advice, but others criticized her for “pushing her child” and said that “all kids are gifted;” they just show their gifts at different times.

And I felt for her.

Her child was asynchronous and she felt all alone, tired, and defeated. She felt like homeschooling her gifted child had been a mistake.

I remember her post because it was like she was typing out my own thoughts. 

How do you meet the asynchronous needs of gifted children?

The term “gifted” holds, for so many people, negative or even threatening connotations. But, like not all children have special needs, not all kids are gifted.

As defined by Webster’s, gifted means having exceptional talent or natural ability.

The National Association for Gifted Children goes further:

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.

Unfortunately people often confuse the term giftedness with gift.

Children are a gift. They’re a blessing. They are all important and have special talents, abilities, and struggles.

Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

 

What does a gifted child look like?

While gifted kids are as different from one another as anybody is from another person, there are some traits and characteristics that bear watching for if you think your child is gifted. Keep in mind that not all gifted kids exhibit all of these traits.

Gifted kids:
  • process information faster and more effectively than same age peers.
  • may exhibit a highly developed vocabulary earlier than most children.
  • speak in complex, grammatically correct sentences early on.
  • are continually asking increasingly complex questions that show insight and advanced understanding.
  • spontaneously begin reading at very early ages.
  • pick up on the nuances of language and can precociously converse with adults at early ages.
  • perseverate on topics of interest (focus intensely for long periods of time), and seek out their own exposure to these topics.
  • have depths of background knowledge about the world around them that surprises even their parents.
  • remember things with little to no repetition.
  • are critical and creative problem solvers, often finding connections between seemingly disconnected things.

 

How do you keep gifted kids challenged?

Knowing beyond a doubt that your child is truly gifted (through ability, achievement, and IQ testing) isn’t nearly as important as creating a nurturing and challenging environment in your home. Being the kind of parent that recognizes ability and interests, and then capitalizes on those to help their child learn is the best thing you can do for a gifted child.

So how do you do it?

  • Follow your child’s interests. Gifted children who aren’t challenged can often become undermotivated and turned off of learning altogether. An underachieving child can spend more time arguing with parents about homeschool than actually learning. By tapping into your child’s interests and focusing their learning in that direction, you can stimulate their motivation to learn.
  • Find mentors for your child. Is your child interested in programming, but you don’t know your way in and around technology? Find someone they can learn from. A computer-engineer friend might be willing to meet with your daughter on the weekends to talk and play around with computers.
  • Fill up the house with resources. Books, computers, DVDs, streaming video subscriptions, toys that inspire creativity, etc. all provide outlets for learning and thinking. It’s important to bring your gifted child up in a resource-rich environment and encourage him to become a lifelong learner.

Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

By tapping into your gifted child’s interests and strengths, you’ll motivate him or her to keep moving forward, and you can work on weaknesses within the framework of strengths.

Like the mother reaching out for help in meeting the asynchronous needs of her seven-year-old daughter, you may struggle from time to time keeping up with your gifted child. We all do!

Remember that you’re not alone and that gifted kids have special parenting and academic needs. Your child can and will learn, and you will be able to nurture his or her unique abilities.

Are You Homeschooling A Gifted Child?

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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Meeting the Asynchronous Needs of Your Gifted Child

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Awesome Books for Kids Who Love Nature

awesome books for kids who love nature

Getting outside in nature makes you smarter. Really! Look it up! Grab a copy of my new book, 100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever! and learn to love getting out and soaking up nature.

There are so many things to do outdoors. This book is filled to the max with activities, tips, and it all requires very little help from mom and dad. Turn your backyard into a museum where kids can learn and explore.

Awesome Books for Kids Who Love Nature

After you get done adventuring outside, make your way indoors to devour these awesome books for kids who love nature! From stories of forest critters to deciphing animal tracks there are sure to be some new favorites to discover in this list. Enjoy!

Awesome Books for Kids Who Love Nature

Compost Stew: Kids can learn how to make their own compost pile in their backyard. They will learn exactly what can be added and what needs to stay out.

Yucky Worms: Worms are yucky…. or are they? Once kids discover how worms live, they might have second thoughts about this slippery friend.

The Tree Lady: An inspiring story about Katherine Olivia Sessions who planted trees all around San Diego.

Life in the Ocean: This book is about the story of an oceanographer by the name of Sylvia Earle who fell in love with the sea when she was young.

Over in the Forest: Learn how to move like the forest creatures and make sure to stay clear of the skunk! Kids will have fun counting and rhyming their way through the forest in this book.

      

Whose Tracks are These?: Everything you need to know about the tracks that animals leave behind can be found in this book. It is also full of some great illustrations.

The Garden of Happiness: Even if you live in the city, nature can still be found in your backyard. This storybook is about an empty lot in the city that is transformed by a little girl.

Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: This chapter book is geared towards older girls. It is about women who made their careers out of the wonders of nature and how they overcame hurdles.

Nature’s Day: Travel to the farm and beyond and discover how the seasons change at every location. From the frozen pond to the fruitful fields, nothing ever does stay the same.

Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You: The author of this story brings nature and inspiration together to create a beautiful story that will soon become a family favorite.

The Great Kapok Tree: Kids will learn just how valuable nature is…. even when it is just a tree.

The Lorax: A Dr. Suess favorite! Although we may not have any Truffula trees, this story is a great way to get kids how to understand the importance of taking care of nature.

       

Do you have any awesome books for kids who love nature to add to the list? Share them with me in the comments! Happy exploring and reading to you and your family and don’t forget to grab a copy of my new book!

100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever a

More Themed Book Lists You’ll Love:

        

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Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

strewing in your homeschool to spark curiosity

I walked into the kitchen to find my youngest two kiddos (9 and 6) deep in concentration at the table. Glancing at the pile of tiny clay food, it was clear that they’d been up awhile. These two are early risers.

I’m not.

For my own sanity, and to keep them out of trouble (bright and creative minds are uniquely dangerous when it comes to too much unsupervised time), I started strewing things for them to discover a few years ago.

Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

Put simply, strewing is leaving something out for the kids to discover, piquing their interest. Putting things in the path of your kids — spreading a feast, so to speak, and letting the kids take from it what they will.

Strewing is popular with unschoolers, and I think it’s one of those things that anyone can adopt and pull into their homeschooling — or life. It’s a great way to incorporate more self-directed learning, giving kiddos ownership of their time and education. But, there are a few things to remember when it comes to strewing…

Strewing in Your Homeschool to Spark Curiosity

No Expectations

The first, and most important thing to consider when it comes to strewing, is that parents should have no expectations for how — or if — the materials will be used.

Really.

Strewing is all about sparking curiosity and letting kids run with it. You’ll set yourself up for disappointment as a parent if you’re putting something out as the start of a new unit study or because you think your kids need a bit more practice in an area.

Strewing fails when we get caught up in a desired outcome. If I strew space stuff — a book, games, maybe queue a video on curiosity stream, and put out some space tous, but the kids fiind a book on Ancient Egypt on the shelf and dive into that instead, it might feel like I’ve failed. And I did, if I set out to start a unit study on space with them.

But, when I keep in mind that strewing is about sparking curiosity, and not product placement, I realize that the Ancient Egypt play and conversation the kids are now involved in is a huge win. They’re owning their learning, and it’s a natural part of their lifestyle.

RELATED: Interest-Led Homeschooling And Your Gifted Children

strewing in your homeschool

 

It Can Be Anything

“What do I strew?” is probably the most common question I get when it comes to strewing. Most people who hear me talk about it get the whole leaving things out for the kids to find thing. They struggle with the what to leave out and the how to keep it from costing a fortune part of strewing. If you do too, I want you to relax.

Strewing can be just about anything:

  • books
  • queued videos
  • DVDs
  • games
  • toys
  • puzzles
  • building blocks
  • science kits
  • historic toys
  • art supplies
  • crafts
  • recyclables

Whatever you dream up — you can probably strew it.

To help you get started, I created a printable for you to download, print, and hang up in your school room or put into your planner to give you a bit of inspiration whenever you need it. Simply drop your name and email in the form below and check your email for your printable!

 

You can also learn more about our #StrewtoLearn email series and join in here! What cool things have you strewed out for your kiddos? Let me know in the comments.

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Great Books to Read with Your Kids in March

great books to read with your kids in march

Just as the daffodils are starting to break through the dirt and everyone is adventuring more and more outside, we cannot forget to take advantage of all these amazing books! Between outdoor adventures, St. Patrick’s Day, and Dr. Seuss’ birthday, there are many titles to choose from this month.

Check out these great books to read with your kids in March…

great children's books for march

What are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in.

Great Books to Read with Your Child in March

100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever!: First up on the list is written by yours truly. Since the weather starts to get warmer in March, this book is the perfect way to get outdoors and explore everything from bugs to animals. It is time to turn the great outdoors into a living museum for your kids!

Planting a Rainbow: This book teaches kids how to plant seeds and bulbs. It also gives them direction on how to care for those growing seeds. Big bonus! The illustrations in this book are amazing!

In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb: An adorable book with rhyming text and an excellent description of March in the form of a lion and a lamb.

Puddles: What type of joy can a rainstorm bring? Puddles of course! Grab your rain boots and get ready to explore puddles of every shape and size.

    

More Books To Read With Your Kids In March

The Wind Blew: Huge gusts of winds carry away everything out to sea. Before it is out of sight, the wind decides to bring it all back.

Kite Day: Take advantage of those high winds and get outside to fly a kite. In this story, Bear and Mole have to build their very own kite.

The Tiny Seed: Follow the life cycle of a seed along with the bright illustrations that can only come from an Eric Carle book.

The Curious Garden: A young boys finds a neglected garden and decides to take care of it. As soon as he the garden starts to grow it changes everything around him.

    

Great Books to Read to Your Kids for St. Paddy’s Day

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover: The old lady is back and hungry as ever in this classic with a St. Paddy’s day twist.

How to Catch a Leprechaun: This is a great book to read as you build a Leprechaun trap. Kids of all ages love to try and attempt to catch the magical Leprechaun who is impossible to capture!

The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day: There is so much anticipation the night before St. Patrick’s day. The Leprechaun trap is set… but will these kiddos be able to catch one?

   

Great Dr. Seuss Books to Read with Your Kids Anytime!

Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on March 2nd! Celebrate this incredible author by reading his silly yet wise stories. Here are some of our favorites.

Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!: Take a trip down thinking lane with this clever book that will get kids to explore their thoughts and all of the ideas that can come with it.

The Lorax: This book is a great way to introduce environmental awareness to kids. It shows the cause and effect of your actions when using up natural resources around us.

Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?: What a wise man Dr. Seuss was. Share that wisdom with your kids and teach them how to be grateful for everything they have.

What Was I Scared Of?: Give your kids a reason to not be scared of the dark with this cute story of a pair of pants… Scaredy-pants to be exact.

    

With all of these wonderful books to read will there still be time to tend the garden, celebrate the great outdoors as well as the silliest authors of all time? Of course! We are always looking for fun and educational ways to keep those kids busy and these books are the answer!

Feel free to share with me in the comments. What favorite books do your kids love to read in March?

 

More Fabulous Booklists For Your Kids!

    

Great Books to Read With Your Kids in March

100 Backyard Activities That Are the Dirtiest, Coolest, Creepy-Crawliest Ever a

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If He’s REALLY So Smart… When Gifted Kids Struggle

if hes really so smart when gifted kids struggle

“Boy is he an EXTREME thinker! If he actually took the time to sit and focus on his work, he could accomplish anything…”

when gifted children struggle

As helpful and positive as his preschool teacher thought she was being, words like this can set some of our most intelligent kiddos up for a lifetime of failure. So, why do some gifted children struggle so much?

If they’re really as smart as we say they are, why can’t some of them just do their work? Or behave better? Or act nicer? Or…?

I remember watching my son spin in circles in the back of his preschool classroom while the others sat raptly taking in their teacher’s read aloud. And cringing. Why couldn’t he just sit still? All the other kids were managing it.

Never mind that he understood everything that was going on in the story, and could recount whole passages, identify individual characters and speak to their motivation, inferring cause and effect at a much higher lever than any of his intently listening classmates. He couldn’t do it in a way that didn’t disrupt the others – or distract the teacher.

Related: A Kid with an Issue Can’t Be Gifted, Right?

Twice Exceptional Gifted Children

 

What do Twice Exceptional Children Look Like?

Twice exceptional children are gifted kiddos who struggle with other neurological, learning, or physical issues. Twice exceptional children can look perfectly ordinary in a classroom setting. Their abilities mask their disabilities, and their disabilities mask their abilities, making them seem perfectly average.

Sometimes, though, a child’s giftedness might shine through more than his disability, making it seem like he’s not living up to his potential. He seems like he should be achieving so much ore than he is, but is choosing not to. The reality is that his difficulties make it impossible to live up to his potential. He just can’t overcome them without intervention.

I remember the fall parent-teacher conference we went to when our son was in first grade. We were invited to look inside his desk to see what his teacher “had to put up with.” Our kiddo, who meticulously organized his action figures, cars, and LEGO each night before he went to bed, had a desk full to the brim with crumpled papers, broken pencils, dried out markers, and ripped folders. There was also a thick stack of unfinished worksheets in a folder.

Those were the ones he’d never turned in because they’d gotten lost somewhere in his desk or classroom. The teacher had recopied them and placed them in a new folder for our bright, hyperactive, wiggly, and sensory kiddo to work on instead of going out to recess with his friends.

Does this sound familiar?

Many twice exceptional children struggle with executive functioning issues, and can’t organize their thinking enough to turn things in, keep things organized (when they’re not interested), or follow multiple step directions. It doesn’t matter how smart they are, they just can’t do it. Their lack of organizational skills results in a messy desk, overflowing backpack, and problems keeping track of books and papers. Difficulties with prioritizing and planning make it impossible for them to complete assignments in a timely manner. They are easily distracted and struggle to focus and sustain attention.

Related: Homeschooling Twice Exceptional Kids

Twice Exceptional Gifted Children

 

Why Do Twice Exceptional Children Struggle?

The extreme frustration these kiddos feel when they can’t meet their own and others’ expectations, combined with the frustration of adults who don’t understand why a bright child does not achieve, can lead to conflict, misunderstandings, and failure.

Our twice exceptional kids can seem stubborn, opinionated, and argumentative, but they also appear to be overly sensitive to criticism. Many of these kiddos struggle with social skills which leads to feelings of isolation when they have trouble making and keeping friends. In order to avoid failing, 2e kids may try to manipulate the situation or simply refuse to try an assignment.

These kids are literally wired to struggle.

I mean, really, can you imagine how incredibly difficult it must be to have big thoughts swirling around your head, with the cognitive ability to understand things at a much deeper level than kids your age normally can, but have trouble spelling or reading words?

My 6 year old struggles mightily with sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and reading. She solves math problems for fun. Asks for science experiments and documentaries. Can converse at length about an incredibly intricate and imaginative world that lives only in her head. But she can’t read the simplest text. Her thinking is complex, but she lacks the skills to work independently because she has such trouble with words. It is incredibly frustrating for her.

And, since she already battles anxiety, the difficulties she faces with reading make her feel like a failure, and she acts out and argues when it’s time to read.

Yet she adores stories. She’ll look at the pictures in books for hours and listen to audio books and read alouds all day long. She can make the most amazing connections between what’s happening in stories she hears and the world in which she lives.

Related: Parenting and Teaching a Twice Exceptional Child

Twice Exceptional Gifted Children

 

Living a Gifted/Twice Exceptional Life

We’re in a wonderful position because with homeschooling, we can easily nurture her giftedness while remediating for her disabilities in a loving way. It’s often thought that kids need to have their problems solved before working on pushing their strengths further, academically, but research shows the opposite is true. When we focus on a child’s strengths and build them up, they gain the confidence they need to tackle those deficits.

When gifted kids struggle with anxiety, ADHD, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, or other struggles they need to be nurtured and built up by the ones they trust most – parents, teachers, and friends. It’s important to work together with the other people in your kiddo’s life to help them understand how best to help your child.

And your twice exceptional child needs to know what a gift he or she is to you. When someone says or implies that, if your child is so smart he should just get it and be able to be successful, you need to be the one to educate – whether it’s a family member, friend, or teacher.

You’re your child’s biggest advocate. And he’s perfect just the way he is.

Extreme thinking and all…

What “If he’s really so smart…” moments have you had lately?

You Don’t Have To Homeschool Your Gifted Child Alone!

The Learner's Lab

The Learner’s Lab is the community created just for your quirky family.  It’s full of creative lessons, problem solving activities, critical and divergent thinking games, and the social-emotional support differently-wired children and teens need most.

All from the comfort of your own home. 

This community was created to support children who are gifted and twice exceptional. We address topics just like this all year long, in a way that is educational and fun for children. They learn skills to help them cope and you learn how to help them along the way. 

We invite you to join us. Get all the details HERE.

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