Friday, November 17, 2017

Geography by Christy Gould

My friend Christy Gould  did this amazing study with her kids on geography  I love it!  I hope you enjoy it as well.    

Last spring, a sort of perfect storm of book acquisition spiraled us into studying world geography this year. I was browsing a used curriculum sale when a world geography book (for practically free) caught my eye. As I tucked it away on a shelf for “future use,” a workbook on famous missionaries that I’d purchased a few months earlier caught my eye. (Clearly, I have a problem with buying things without a clear intention to use them.)

With both of those things in hand, I decided to splurge on a literature guide I’d heard great things about. GiveYour Child the World, by Jamie Martin, is sort of like Honeyfor a Child’s Heart with a global focus: lists of books – the best books – divided up by age and continent. I jotted down a quick plan for the year – a global overview in September, and one continent per month after that – and made a note of which missionaries we’d study for each. Then I opened up Give Your Child the World and went absolutely nuts putting books on hold at the library!

Since the beginning of September, lunch time has become our geography read-aloud time. I keep all of the related books in one place, so the kids or I can grab one or two every day and bring it to the table. We’ve had excellent discussions on food, water, poverty, disease, architecture, and more. The missionary studies are best suited for older elementary, so my oldest has done those on his own, while his next-younger brother helps with the generic geography text. Here they are, using our big wall world map to find rivers and lakes in Africa:

In order to synthesize the different information we’re taking in through fiction and nonfiction children’s books as well as the geography workbook, we’re making posters of each continent. I (well, my husband, truthfully) used the projector at church to project continent outlines onto the wall, where I taped up poster board and traced it on in pencil. Each time we read a story about a new country, I label that country in Sharpie. The boys have added mountains, big cities, rivers, lakes, and topography with markers as they learned about them.

Among the books I got from the library in September were two kids’ cookbooks. My children are not adventurous eaters, but I thought this might help broaden their palates. Sure, they all eagerly agreed that they would LOVE to try sweet raisin couscous for breakfast when we stood in the grocery store aisle and picked it out, but it was unanimously voted down the next morning. (By the children, that is. My husband and I loved it!) We’ll keep trying, anyway.

All of these pictures are of our Africa study, because that was our October focus. We’re well into North America at the time of this writing, and it continues to be a favorite subject as we read good literature and add details to our poster! We’re learning how to use the encyclopedia set to look up country facts, we’re reading chapter books set in different countries, we’re studying artwork and noticing differences between those children and ourselves. I made the decision to study geography this year on a whim, but I’m so glad I did!

Christy Gould is the wife of a pastor and a homeschooling stay-at-home mom to five boys under eight. When she’s not refereeing little-boy disputes, you can find her in the kitchen, whipping up real-food meals and toiletries in equal measure. She chronicles her adventures in homeschooling and life at

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Charlotte Mason article Summary by Amy Lapain

My sweet friend Amy Lapain summarized this wonderful article. I found it fabulous and thought you would too. She will check back and answer any questions in the comments.

This post is my narration / retelling of the article Improving Reading Comprehension Through Retelling as written in the Summer '08 Charlotte Mason Educational Review. This is part one...focusing on the background and current brain research.

There are five paths to long term memory
  • Semantic - understanding words
  • Episodic - associated with location
  • Procedural - repetition of movement
  • Automatic - conditioned response triggered by a stimulus
  • Emotional - feelings

Teachers rely on semantic but emotional is the most effective. The article gives potential reasons for this but I prefer less specific banter..It is what it is...I've seen it. In addition to reasons, the article also lists ways to enhance learning. Here are some we have done and will continue to enhance learning to make emotional connections.
  • Act out the book with "characters" 
  • Do real world math. Just yesterday at a birthday part a kiddo was adding up his loot for a future trip to target. 15+10= $25 bucks man! I have to caution myself on this. Sometimes just play should be is not ALWAYS a lesson
  • Field Trips (more on that below.
  • Draw during narration
  • Build Models- we did this as part of a homeschool lego class
  • Experience Books

Here are some things I WANT to do:
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Use various techniques such as videotaping to encourage narration
  • Ask less, listen more
  • Build a peer group, of just a couple of kid, to see if this encourages narrating. (More on that in a later blog as peer narration is talked about extensively in the article.)
  • Build more models

Making Connections
Another interesting point made is that those who are experts in a certain area tend to put info in much larger chunks. I know Andrew is a 'global' thinker. I recently blogged on my arts blog about how Andrew made a connection between waves in a puddle and the vibrations on musical instruments. I don't think this way- but i'd like to. I have a short long term memory. Aut-2-B-homerecently directed me back to the Childlight Reviews and an article on scaffolding learning. I had read it, printed it, and even narrated on it via my blog...and still I forgot quite a bit. But I do have the general sense in my brain. I wonder how you make those global connections better as an adult??? I guess just doing it more helps you get better;)

The next section in the article tells us more on this- the HOW to make connections.
The best way to relate information read or presented is to correlate it to personal information. This could include graphic organizers or even pictures from a field trip. We have done oodles of Experience Books so perhaps I will pull these out even as we re-visit the same places over and over again. . Other ideas to cement things to personal experience includes field trips. I ponder how the public schools do field trips all the time- but what do they DO at the field trips??? I have seen them at Cranbrook, the Detroit Zoo, and the Detroit Institute of Arts with clipboards, worksheets and pen answering specific questions as related by the teacher or instructor. I think providing direction is important and it often frustrates me that Andrew wants to go off in his own direction; but when he does that he often finds his own connections. I need to continue working on the GUIDED participation as I don't feel that is cemented yet but it is sometimes nice just to go for a walk and see where it takes us. It is difficult to toggle back and forth between the two. (Any suggestions are welcome.) But these connections / discoveries are much greater for the child when made by the child. We need to provide the scaffolding but let the child remove the tarp to discover what is underneath.

Spencer, Jennifer. (2008) Improved Reading Comprehension Through Retelling. Charlotte Mason Educational Review. pg 13
Wolfe, P. (2001). Brain matters: translating research into classroom practice. Alexandria, VA. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.