Tag Archives: flashcards

Non-Core Hour Ideas: Music

Okay, so we Missouri homeschoolers all know we need 600 hours of core subjects per year, but how do we fill the 400 non-core hours? Sure, you could just have your child reinforce core skills – we aren’t required that the remaining hours be something other than math, language arts, social studies, and science. But why do that to your children? Give them a much-needed break and allow them to enrich their lives by offering some creative topics for study. Some areas are rich with classes for homeschoolers. In our immediate area, we have gymnastics, archery, art, choirs, and bands. These are just the non-core offerings, and there may be even more that I am not aware of. Whether or not you have access to homeschool classes, almost every area will have a music teacher of some sort.

Putting your children into music lessons is a sure-fire way to fill some of that time. Here’s what I recommend: a 30 minute lesson once a week and 30 minutes of daily practice time. (Including lesson day, and here’s why: the sooner the student gets to the piano after his lesson, the better his retention will be – thus making it easier on him in the long run and improving his progress overall.) That totals an hour of music on lesson days, and 30 minutes on subsequent days.

If you would like to stretch those daily half hour sessions to an hour, I have come up with a few ideas for you. (If an hour or 30 minutes is too long for your child’s attention span, you can easily break the practice and extras down into 15-minute increments.)

Piano Play: Allow your child to sit in front of the piano and just make things up. Show him how to make simple chords (you can YouTube it or ask your music teacher) and improvise a melody. Or just let him experiment and see what kinds of sounds and rhythm he can come up with on his own. Children often enjoy this unstructured play time, and it can be a great stress reliever (especially if you allow them to express their emotions through the volume and tempo).

Flashcards/Theory: If you really want to get your children’s music lessons off to a flying start, flashcards are a great way to reinforce primary concepts. You can help your child make some (look for tutorials online), you can download them for free, or you can find an app that quizzes your music-learner. You could even go all-out and buy a pack. 😉 Spending time with flashcards each week will greatly increase a beginner’s sight-reading capability.

Listening: Choose some classical music (or any other genre they are interested in) and allow your child to soak it up as they eat, play, or do homework (best if there are no lyrics). I would even count contemporary music listening as non-core hours if I were making it a point to analyze it in some way after listening: what makes country music different from pop? What instruments, rhythms, or techniques does this specific genre use that gives the listener a clue to what kind of music he is hearing? If the student is advanced, you could even discuss chord progressions and voicing.

Singing: Find some songs on YouTube or a sing-a-long, and have your children learn the words and melody. This reinforces their memory skills and can be quite enjoyable. Also, you could look for songs that would benefit other subject areas, such as math, science, history, etc. (If you have several kids, they can play musical chairs while learning by rote. I use this technique with my choir kids, and it’s a great way to get them to sing the same words over and over and over again without showing the slightest sign of boredom!)

Make Instruments: Help your kids make a cigar-box guitar or a bean shaker. You can find tutorials online. Percussion instruments can be made from almost anything. Next, model rhythms for your child, and have them mimic you on their very own hand-crafted instrument. (You can play the same game with melodies instead of beats if you feel like singing, lol.)

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

FreeImages.com/Adriano Carvalho

These are just a few non-core activities off the top of my head. I’m sure there are many more that I am missing. Subscribe to my blog, and be on the lookout for ways to get music-themed CORE hours.

 

Can you think of any more non-core ideas? Leave them in the comments below.

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Alphabet Train Flashcards, Improved

CabooseYears ago, I created some flashcards with trains and letters on them. This was an effort to teach my child to sound out words by building trains. Today he is a fantastic reader! I finally made better (hand-drawn) versions of the trains and have printed them on flashcard paper produced by Avery. I am getting ready to set up an Etsy page so that you all can purchase these if you like. I will link to it here when it is ready. Note: the caboose and engine do not have letters on them, however the pack contains two of each letter and there are four different train car/color combinations, in addition to the caboose and engine.

Update: These are now available in my Etsy store: Engage and Grow.

Multiplication Breakthrough, 3 years later

Someone used the search terms “multiplication breakthrough” and landed on my site the other day. I don’t even remember writing anything like that, so I went back and reread the post I composed almost three years ago. Funny, I guess we didn’t stick with it because I don’t even remember doing that. However, we have had a new breakthrough just this school year. I had tried using flashcards in the past, but they didn’t really work. I don’t know whether it had more to do with his developmental level, his lack of focus, or what. But lately, they do work. Maybe it’s because I have changed my approach. For a while, we would do two or three cards until he knew them, then we would add one at a time, mixing them up sometimes to make sure he wasn’t just memorizing the order they were in. It worked! He now knows almost the entire deck, front to back. He’s very mathematically minded, so we have made it through five years of school without ever memorizing all the facts. He could always figure them out because he came up with a system. I had him explain it to me, and this is how he did it:

Two times a number is that number plus itself.

Four times a number is two times a number plus two times a number.

Three times a number is that number plus itself twice.

Six times a number is three times a number plus three times a number.

Five times a number is half of ten times that number.

Seven times a number is three times the number subtracted from ten times the number.

Eight times a number is two times the number subtracted from ten times the number.

Nine times a number is the number subtracted from ten times the number.

MathIt seems crazy and burdensome, but he got rather fast at it, and now he has a very good sense of how numbers interact with each other. Word problems are easy for him because he knows how math works. Distributive property is easy for him for the same reason. Now, finally, he has his facts memorized, but I believe that he is better off for having to figure them out for the last five years.

Homemade Spanish Flashcards

Okay, so I just spent the last several hours making Spanish flashcards to coordinate with Ian’s elementary Spanish curriculum (Monarch online – published by Alpha & Omega). I really like the course, and so does he, but it seems like it could be largely improved by some good flashcards. These are for the first unit, and all of the vocabulary words can be found in the second-to-last lesson in unit one: Meeting Esteban at the Beach. I know they covered a few more words in this unit, but I didn’t take the time to look through every single lesson to find all of the vocabulary words. As it stands, there are over 100 words in this file, all with nice pics to go with them. (I did add in a few words myself – maybe 10 or so, because I just thought they made sense.) I’ll most likely do this at the end of each unit, so if you are using the Monarch Spanish curriculum (or if you just want some free Spanish flashcards) check back occasionally. I tried very hard to make sure none of these pics had copyrights on them, but if you catch something, let me know, and I will change the file. I’m going to cut out each card and write the Spanish word on the back. I’m not sure I’m gonna write the English word on them at all, but I haven’t decided yet. I really just want Ian to associate the Spanish words with the items/actions they belong to, and not constantly be translating from English. Here they are, for anyone who wants them: Spanish Flashcards

By the way, if you want to make more, all I did was type in the word I wanted, followed by the word clip art. Then I just looked for pics that didn’t have a copyright symbol of any kind.

Post from the Past: Help with Math and Reading

This post was from last year; it’s incredible to read again and see how far he’s come in just one school year!

The best way I have found to help Ian get everything done is to make him do his least favorite subject first, and early in the morning at that. It used to be reading, and then math for a while, but I have no idea yet what this year will bring. It will probably be writing. Doing his least favorite subject first helped both him and me. Until we started getting up earlier I found that I would procrastinate beginning the school day at all when I knew we had to look forward to the dreaded subject, and all of the whining that accompanied it. So I just got Ian up early, and started the day with it. Sometimes we would even do it before breakfast. That leaves the rest of the day to look forward to.

I also have trouble getting Ian motivated to complete his work in a timely fashion. So I’ll tell him he has 2 hours to get done with math and play his video game. His next subject starts promptly when those 2 hours are up. If he spends 1 hour and 45 minutes on his math, he’ll only have 15 minutes to play. I think this is helping motivate him, but it’s a slow process. (If he could stay focused, his math would probably only take him about 20 minutes, but he gets distracted so easily. I keep thinking that he would probably be diagnosed with ADHD if I sent him to a public school.)

One of the ways I have failed Ian is by procrastinating in teaching him his math facts. I think he could finish his math in about 10 minutes (distractions aside) if he didn’t have to figure every single problem out from scratch. So we’re taking the month of September to work on flashcards. I’m going to let him answer as many addition facts as possible in 60 seconds. Then we’re going to see if we can add a couple of cards to the pile while completing them in the same amount of time. We gave it a try the other day, and it was definitely more fun than reciting facts. We’re also going to do subtraction and beginning multiplication and division, but separately for a while.

I don’t have any idea if you all are struggling with reading, but here is what I have done: I have prioritized reading way over science, history, etc. I figured the faster he could learn to read well, the better. I merely read Ian’s science and history out loud to him last year; we spent most of his study time learning to read better. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but Ian’s reading skills just took off when we bought him the Kid’s Day by Day Bible and had him read to himself from it every night. Until your child is really excelling in the basic areas: reading, writing, arithmetic – I wouldn’t worry too much about the other subjects, except Bible, of course, which you can count for history. You could also get some nature readers and knock out science while working on reading skills.

Help with Math and Reading

The best way I have found to help Ian get everything done is to make him do his least favorite subject first, and early in the morning at that. It used to be reading, and then math for a while, but I have no idea yet what this year will bring. It will probably be writing. Doing his least favorite subject first helped both him and me. Until we started getting up earlier I found that I would procrastinate beginning the school day at all when I knew we had to look forward to the dreaded subject, and all of the whining that accompanied it. So I just got Ian up early, and started the day with it. Sometimes we would even do it before breakfast. That leaves the rest of the day to look forward to.

I also have trouble getting Ian motivated to complete his work in a timely fashion. So I’ll tell him he has 2 hours to get done with math and play his video game. His next subject starts promptly when those 2 hours are up. If he spends 1 hour and 45 minutes on his math, he’ll only have 15 minutes to play. I think this is helping motivate him, but it’s a slow process. (If he could stay focused, his math would probably only take him about 20 minutes, but he gets distracted so easily. I keep thinking that he would probably be diagnosed with ADHD if I sent him to a public school.)

One of the ways I have failed Ian is by procrastinating in teaching him his math facts. I think he could finish his math in about 10 minutes (distractions aside) if he didn’t have to figure every single problem out from scratch. So we’re taking the month of September to work on flashcards. I’m going to let him answer as many addition facts as possible in 60 seconds. Then we’re going to see if we can add a couple of cards to the pile while completing them in the same amount of time. We gave it a try the other day, and it was definitely more fun than reciting facts. We’re also going to do subtraction and beginning multiplication and division, but separately for a while.

I don’t have any idea if you all are struggling with reading, but here is what I have done: I have prioritized reading way over science, history, etc. I figured the faster he could learn to read well, the better. I merely read Ian’s science and history out loud to him last year; we spent most of his study time learning to read better. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but Ian’s reading skills just took off when we bought him the Kid’s Day by Day Bible and had him read to himself from it every night. Until your child is really excelling in the basic areas: reading, writing, arithmetic – I wouldn’t worry too much about the other subjects, except Bible, of course, which you can count for history. You could also get some nature readers and knock out science while working on reading skills.

Last of the Train Alphabet Cards

Here is the final train alphabet set – freight car alphabet. I hope you enjoy them!

Edit: I am uploading the entire set now that I have it finished. It is all in one file. This should save you some footwork, lol. If you have any of the blank Avery Flash Cards 2-1/2″ x 4″, the Word Document file will print perfectly on them, as you see in the picture above. I’m not sure how well the PDF file works with them because I haven’t personally tried it. (I just now created the PDF for anyone who can’t download the Word file.)

Alphabet Train Flashcards – Word Document

Alphabet Train Flashcards – PDF