Category Archives: Poetry

5th Grade Curriculum Ideas – Reading and Writing

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you as you teach, especially if you are looking for no-cost, low-cost options. I have spent less money than ever this year on curriculum, yet it has been our best year by far.

This year, Ian is doing much more on his own. I am directly overseeing his writing, grammar, and mathematics. We are using IEW, Grammar, Fix It and Singapore Math respectively. If you want to read more about these subjects, I posted about them here. In addition to these curriculum choices, we are doing a few extra things for these topics.

For writing, I am spending a few minutes per day dictating to him from Little House in the Big Woods. As I dictate, he writes. He always tries to spell everything on his own, and I will stop and correct him as we go. Sometimes, this spawns a discussion about various spelling rules. So far, this exercise seems to be more productive than regular spelling lists.

In addition,  I have just printed off some texts in cursive that I intend to have him trace. The first one I have printed is the initial paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. We should start this exercise tomorrow. While we haven’t formally taught him to write in cursive, we realize the importance of being able to read original historical documents. I also intend to order a book that contains pictures of some of the originals in order to have him practice reading them.

My excuse for not teaching him cursive was the fact that typing seems like a much more important skill right now. That, and he is still struggling with the physical motion of writing at all, although he is improving in leaps and bounds this year. So he will spend about 5-10 minutes per day typing. We have tried two or three typing programs geared towards children, but Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is still his favorite.

I have been reading to Ian like crazy lately. Not just living history and science books, but Uncle Eric too (which is his favorite series so far). We are also reading tons of fiction together. I am beginning to wonder if we should have gone with the Sonlight curriculum this year! On second thought, they are quite expensive, and we are doing well using whatever we can get our hands on.

I am simply falling in love with our local library. I never appreciated them because they have catered mostly to children, and I never had much use for them before. Almost all of their adult books are either outdated or pop-fiction, neither of which I enjoy. But now that Ian and I are reading together so much, I am rethinking my opinion of our library.

I think there must be a homeschooling family that is selling their old books to our nearest V-Stock, because I have found tons of great resources there lately.

Also, as I mentioned in my last post, we have found LibriVox quite invaluable. Right this moment, we are listening to nursery rhyme recordings.Educational Audio Since yesterday, when he listened to The Story of Dr. Dolittle in its entirety, he has listened to the first hour of The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, a bit of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, and now nursery rhymes. I know it seems he is too old for nursery rhymes, but I skipped over them inadvertently when he was younger, so we are filling in the gaps in his education. They are quite pleasant! I am also intending to use this site for catching up on some poetry and perhaps listening to a few things in Spanish. The usefulness of this site seems endless!

Wow, I had intended to fill you in on what we were doing for some of our other subjects this year, but this topic got away from me, so I will save those for another time.

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Devouring the Classics

Thanks to Ian’s recent leap in reading speed, I now have hope that he will be able to eat up books very quickly for the rest of his childhood. However, because he still doesn’t necessarily enjoy the act of reading itself, he still isn’t reading for pleasure. I must tell him to read, or it doesn’t get done. Even when I think I am being clever by telling him he can either go to bed or stay up and read for an hour, he chooses to sleep. Even when I allow him to earn money or lego pieces for his time spent reading, he still chooses not to. He flat out doesn’t like to read.

Because I still want him to read, but because I don’t want to torture him, I am only requiring him to read his Bible and 30 minutes a day of something else. (Right now, that “something else” is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.) So he still reads for about 40-45 minutes a day. Beginning in January, I am thinking of kicking it up a notch, by having him read for two 30-minute sessions per day.

Unfortunately, unless he suddenly develops a great interest for books over the next year or two, he won’t have time to read the classics during childhood. I don’t want him to miss out on this important aspect of our culture. The other day, while wandering around our local library, I stumbled upon some books on cassette tape. Many of them were classics. So I immediately came home and purchased a little Walkman from eBay.

Yesterday, my husband helped me hook the Walkman up to some speakers, and I played “The Boxcar Children” for Ian while he was playing Minecraft. He happily listened to the entire book in one sitting! I started to wonder if there were any online recordings of books in the public domain. After searching a bit, I stumbled upon LibriVox, which is a community of people who have recorded themselves reading books and poetry from the public domain.

The ClassicsAs I type this, Ian is listening to the last chapter of Doctor Dolittle. He has been listening for the last three hours while playing with his Legos, and that’s all it takes to get through the whole thing. So, needless to say, I am quite excited. With tools such as my local library and online audio classics to choose from, I feel as though he can listen to a classic all the way through at least once a week. It doesn’t feel like cheating because I am still having him read quite a bit, just not as much as I read when I was his age. I am just happy that he will be able to enjoy the classics growing up!

Homeschool on a Budget, by Joy Kita

Homeschool on a Budget

Excellence Without the Extra Cost

By Joy Kita

When you choose to homeschool your children, you are embarking on an adventure that will challenge your patience, enrich your relationships, and change the tone and rhythm of your days. There may be the occasional moments when you question the reliability of your sanity, but on the whole it is one decision that yields large pay-offs and little regret. It is also a decision that has the potential to become a monumental monetary investment. After all, a quality education is costly, right?

To get the best you must pay for the best—at least that is what some people/companies/curriculum providers might have you believe. Resist the urge to buy into the mentality that spending a lot of money is the first line of attack in educating your children, and take a moment to look at alternatives. You have choices—good choices that will elevate your child’s education to a higher level of learning and sophistication within a reasonable, frugal budget.

There are people in the world who believe that education should be free. These beliefs have led influential change-makers to create learning platforms that produce quality material for little to no cost. This is good news for the savvy homeschool family who wishes to teach and learn without the expensive price tags that adorn textbooks and classroom courses. Homeschooling on a budget for one child or ten is well within your reach.

Careful deliberation at the beginning of the year is essential to protect your wallet and time. Making a list of the subjects you wish to teach is a critical step. There may be a curriculum out there for everything, but that does not mean you need to purchase it.

Traditional schools have a rounded approach to learning: they teach a little bit of a lot of subjects to fill the gaps of time in a long day. You need not mimic the learning structure of public schools if another way suits you better.

If you identified the “core” of a child’s education, you would find yourself with three subjects to teach: math, reading, and writing. Other subjects are secondary to these, providing enrichment material that supplements and rounds out the learning journey. Curriculum publishers may offer an entire grade’s worth of supplies in a box, but that does not mean your child needs everything it supplies.

Math is an important subject, and many resources are available at different price levels. Workbooks are reasonably priced; the teacher’s manuals are not. Ask yourself if you need the teacher’s guide book. In the early years you may find that you do not. It is fine to go with the workbook only. As your child grows and the math becomes more challenging, you might consider purchasing an answer book rather than the teacher’s manual. Not everyone will need both.

Partner with another homeschooling family, buy together, and share. The Internet offers many websites that provide free printable worksheets to supplement textbook lessons. There are safe educational sites with math games to correspond with the material as well. Visual games can go a long way in providing clarity and understanding of many math concepts. Quick tip: Have your student write out his multiplication tables on index cards.

Reading is another critical component of your child’s education. There are families who rely solely on good literature to teach grammar, comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary with great success. Become friends with your local librarians, and take out stacks of books for free. Project Gutenberg is an online resource that offers thousands of great works of literature for free. Print what you need, or read straight from the computer. Visit garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores in search of great bargains on books. Quick tip: Organize a simple book co-op with other families, sharing your resources for free.

Writing is an expansive, stand-alone subject that confuses a lot of people. What is its scope? How many books and workbooks do you need to teach all aspects of this subject adequately? Actually, writing is not a complicated subject, and you can teach it well with few outside resources.

Take the subject of spelling, for example. Word lists that correspond with grade-level readiness are available online. (Do not be fooled into thinking you must stay within the confines of the lists for specific grade levels.) Hunt for words that are suitable for your student/school to learn. Use a list of words that your student misspells to create a unique, personal list of words to master. Identify spelling words within the quality literature your students are reading. Haul out the dictionary for definitions and alphabetizing practice.

Copy Scripture verses for penmanship practice and memorization purposes. Read poetry and create your own.

Don’t forget about creative writing. Make writing jars from tea canisters, and then put the names of characters into one, a variety of potential settings into another, and types of conflicts in a third jar. Students can then draw out a single entry from each jar and write a story based on those prompts. Quick tip: Use portable chalk boards or white boards for writing practice or dictation for younger students.

The three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic, represent the bulk of your child’s education; the rest of the subjects provide enrichment. Fill your days with science and geography, history and art if you desire. These are great subjects to use for child-directed learning.

Ask your children what they want to learn about. Find out what they are curious about. Don’t just follow them into the rabbit hole; dig it for them.

10 Best Websites That Offer Quality Material . . . Free!

1. Quirks and Quarks—Award-winning radio science program that delves into topical science inquiries. http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/

2. Ted Talks—Site that hosts video presentations of ideas worth spreading, from innovative change-makers around the world. http://www.tedtalks.com/

3. Enchanted Learning—Treasure trove of printable material ranging from simple coloring pages to labelled diagrams. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html

4. Spelling Time—Award-winning interactive spelling program. http://www.spellingtime.com/

5. Old-Fashioned Education—Directory of free homeschool curricula. http://www.oldfashionededucation.com/

6. National Geographic—More than just a magazine! http://www.nationalgeographic.com 7. Seterra—Geography quiz game. http://www.seterra.net/ 8. NASA—Top science material. http://www.nasa.gov/

9. Khan Academy—Free world-class education with a focus on science and math. https://www.khanacademy.org/

10. Kids Know It—Educational fun for the young and young at heart. http://www.kidsknowit.com/

Joy Kita is a mother of four and is the blessed wife of Stan. She has been homeschoolingfor seven years and is currently the director of a thriving co-op with more than eighty children. She is an author specializing in adventures for boys. Her newest book, Fable Nation, will be released by Brighter Books in 2013. She stays motivated by her all-consuming love for the Father. You can read her blog, Fluorescent Fingerprints, at http://www.joyamykita.wordpress.com, and check out her innovative publisher: http://www.brighterbooks.com.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at http://www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at http://www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

A prompt disguised as reminiscing…

Go through some old photos. Find a picture for which you remember nothing about the situation, and make it up. I think it would be fun to try a poem for this one!

Poetry and Music

I had to retype my poem from scratch the other day. It was either that, or scan it into my computer, and I didn’t figure you all would want to see the product of a very old typewriter combined with a beginning typist. White-out, smudges, and typed-over letters were everywhere! Anyhow, I was struck with how much it affected me to reread my old (and poorly metered) poem. As I typed in the last stanza, I got the chills. Should it have affected me like that since I am the one who wrote it? But it wasn’t the words; it was the message: we are the salt of the earth.

But I would like to know: What is it about poetry that stirs the soul? Why do we identify with it? Why is it that when something is worded beautifully, it resounds within us? Or as in my case, if it merely rhymes.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,

A fountain ever springing:

All things are mine since I am His –

How can I keep from singing?

Even deeper than poetry, music cuts us to the core and lays us open to our emotions. I came across these words while reading Our Last Great Hope. The words stirred me, and I sat there trying to remember the tune. When the melody came to me, I began singing out loud, which didn’t last long because I became choked up and couldn’t go on. Why does music affect me so? Or I guess it’s the combination of music and Truth. It breaks me…

Something Very Different

While dejunking the other day, I decided to look through some old notebooks of mine, and throw away as much as I could part with. Unexpectedly, I came across this old poem that I wrote back in eleventh grade. I don’t think I could write poetry today, because I’m too much of a perfectionist. I would worry a great deal about syllables, meter, accented and unaccented words, etc, all while trying not to sound contrived. There are probably some proper terms for those things, but since I am not a student of poetry, I don’t know them. Anyway, it’s not the greatest poem, but the message is clear and strong, and Jesse wanted me to publish it, so here it is:

Something Very Different

His life has seemed so joyful,

I’ve not understood.

While some have life so roughly,

Others have it good.

 

There seems a hedge around him –

Gentle, loving eyes.

Watching him from day to day;

Staying ’til he dies.

 

Of course he’s had his bad days.

Everybody does.

He said since he’s been born again,

It’s not like it was.

 

Many a day I’ve watched him

Laughing at mistakes.

Is there nothing that can hurt him?

No one that he hates?

 

There’s something very different

In the way he speaks,

But discord, trouble, chaos:

These he never seeks.

 

He’s always kind to classmates

Even when they’re cruel.

But they can never hurt him;

He’s nobody’s fool.

 

I like to be around him.

He will always talk.

If you have any problems,

He knows the way to walk.

 

He seems to have no troubles.

He’s happy every day.

How he always keeps it up,

I can never say.

 

He says that he’s a Christian.

I would like to know

What a Christian really is.

What makes their love grow?

 

Tomorrow I will ask him.

I’ll be happy too.

I’ll find out his mystery.

Then I will tell you.

My Streetlamp

Every light in the house is out.

I walk into a dark room and sit down to relax.

My eyes are naturally drawn to the only spectacle in sight.

I cannot see the source at all, but its brilliance is dispersed in hundreds of tiny droplets of water that cling to my window screen.

Tomorrow I will tell the world of my experience.

Naysayers will laugh and inform me of my mistake.

Streetlamps aren’t real.

But I saw –

The source?

No, the light hits the window above my line of sight.

Proof that streetlamps don’t exist. It follows then, that raindrops must make their own light; it is the only explanation.

For me, it is not enough.

I cannot see the streetlamp, but those raindrops aren’t like the rest – they are extraordinary. The happy, brightened orbs rejoice in the source. I am haunted by their proclamation of the light.

I cannot rationalize away the streetlamp.

For me, it is enough, and I believe.

One day, I trust that I will walk over the hill and behold the streetlamp.

I am persuaded by the light.