Free American Timeline Figures

Do you use a timeline? Timelines are as important to history as maps are to geography. Imagine studying geography without a map.

No matter how history is studied there will be some jumping around either chronologically or geographically. Using a timeline helps keep events in order. If the lessons are chronological, topics could start with Ancient China, move onto Mesopotamia, cover Egypt and then go back to China again. If the lessons are geographical a timeline facilitates understanding of what people were living and thriving at the same time, but in different regions. For example when the Celts lived in Northern Europe, the Romans lived in Italy, the Scythians lived in central Asia and the Chinese lived in Ancient China. They each have unique and varied histories and can easily be studied individually and brought together with a timeline.
Although we have not yet studied American history we plan to in the future. My free timeline figure posts have been some of the most popular. So I went ahead and created some to go along with American history studies. Free American Timeline Figures. Please feel free to print them out for personal or classroom use.

Here are links to the other timeline posts.

Free Blank Timelines
Ancient China Timeline Figures
Ancient Greek Timeline Figures
American Timeline Figures

This post is linked to:

Hip Homeschool Hop
Montessori Monday
Classroom Freebies
TGIF Linky
Sun Scholars
Teaching Blog Addict

Lesson Planning - Foreign Language

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Parlez-vous francais? Hable usted espanol? This week's planning series topic is foreign language.

Learning a foreign language has always been a goal of mine. I know a lot about French and Spanish, but have never had much of an opportunity to speak them on a consistent basis. But now, since we live in Germany I have lots of opportunities to practice German. Although I wouldn't describe myself as fluent I can converse well with native speakers.

Since learning language has always been interesting to me I've used many resources. Here are my recommendations.
Duolingo - It's brand new and free on the internet. Best for ages eleven and up.
Rosetta Stone - Very natural way to learn language. Best for ages nine and up.
Muzzy - Entertaining children's cartoon all in target language. Episodes begin with easy language and increase in difficulty. Some of the cartoons are disturbing to young or sensitive kids. Best for ages eight and up.
Salsa Spanish - Free entertaining children's cartoons in Spanish only.
Music and cartoons created for children who speak the target language are great tools for kids trying to learn those languages. I've listed some resources for Spanish and German in these two blog posts: Language Learning - German and Spanish and Educational Videos.

This year the kids will continue to study German and Spanish. In addition, my daughter is working on French and my son on Chinese. It sounds like a lot, but they work in 10-15 minute sessions two to three times per week per language. So they spend a maximum of 2.5 hours on language learning per week.

I'm interest to see how you are studying language and the resources you have found.


Multiplication Circles

I love multiplication circles because they can really help right brained creative kids understand multiplication. Plus, they are interesting for kids who already have a good handle on multiplication.

Completing one of the circles is a bit like doing a dot-to-dot using the ones digit of a multiplication table multiplier. Ok, so that was a bit confusing, so let me try an example.

For example, the numbers in the four times table are 0, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36 and 40. If you look only at the ones digit you should notice a repeating pattern of 0,4,8,2,6. Those are the numbers to use for the circle dot-to-dot. Try the other numbers to see some more interesting designs.
My eleven year old who was way beyond multiplication loved this activity. Malke at The Map is Not the Territory used a variation of this concept to create Christmas Ornaments. Check it out.

Click here for the free printable.
Free Multiplication Circle Printable

Please visit our math page to see more creative math activities.

Studying Poetry with Children

The variety of words found in poetry makes studying it on a regular basis a great way to increase vocabulary in an entertaining way. 

For several years I followed the Ambleside On-line poetry schedule. The poems of about four poets per year are posted or linked on the website. Each day we read a new poem plus reviewed a few we had read previous days. For my oldest who can easily comprehend anything, this method worked well. Poems I couldn't understand she could even interpret for me.

Unfortunately, my son does not comprehend poetry quite so easily. Therefore, the selected poems from Ambleside On-line were far too difficult for him. After several attempts to follow the same method, I abandoned it and switched to reading poetry from books aimed at much younger children. The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems and The Fat-Cats at Sea were two of our favorites from last year.

With my youngest we read many Mother Goose poems following the same method.

This year I will introduce new poetry books to the kids and see if they are interested in keeping a poetry notebook where they can copy down their favorites.

Since this post is part of the Homeschool Help series I plan to read the poetry posts of the other bloggers for more ideas. I hope you will join me.

Poetry - How and why to teach it. - Hammock Tracks
Waxing Poetical - Barefoot Hippie Girl
Poetry Smoothie - One Magnificent Obsession
Poetry Tea Time - Navigating by Joy
How do you teach poetry? - Every Bed of Roses

This post is linked to:
Trivium Tuesdays

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Thomas Edison Unit Study

We created moving picture films using the same concepts of the first films.

The Story of Inventions tells the story of several inventors and their inventions which changed the world. The phonograph was one of the first and most important inventions of Thomas Edison. After reading about the phonograph we watched this short video to see how it worked.

Then we watched this 30 minute video biography on the life of Thomas Edison. There are many great stories from the life of Thomas Edison. One of my favorites is about how he pulled a duck off it's nest to try to hatch the eggs himself.

Thomas Edison was the first person to build a business by employing inventors. One of the companies inventions was the moving picture.

After reading about his invention of moving pictures we watched this video and then the kids created their own moving pictures.

Since we are living in the age of computers the kids used the computer to create their moving picture films. Using Paint they created a series of slightly different images. Then the images were loaded into Live Movie Maker and viewed in quick succession to display movement. This activity combined today's technology with concepts of motion to show how movies were first created.

This video show a kid making a great metal detecting discovery.

This movie features a dancer.

To see more of our engineering activities please visit our Science page.

This post is linked to:
Hip Homeschool Hop
We Made That
Mom's Library

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Lost Cities - Mental Math Game

Lost Cities is a card game we play often for math. Single and double digit addition, subtraction, multiplication, and negative numbers are involved in every game.

Two players take turns playing cards in number order on their side of the board. Multiplier cards must be played before any number cards. There are five different colors each corresponding to a "mission". Players may begin as many or few missions as they like, but when the draw pile runs out the game is over.

Throughout the game mental math is constant as players calculate how many additional points are needed to have a positive scoring mission. Before the game begins, players agree on the number of rounds to be played. When each round is finished the scores are totaled.

Here's an example of how the game is scored.
Add the point value for the mission (color).
Subtract 20 points for having begun a mission.
Count the number of multiplier cards played for the mission, add 1, and multiply the mission total by the multiplier.

White: -20
1 multiplier + 1 = 2
2 x -10 = -20

Green: 51
2 multipliers + 1 = 3
3 x 17 = 51

Red: -15
2 multipliers + 1 = 3
3 x -5 = -15

Grand Total: 16

Both my six year old and eleven year old girls really like this game. My six year old can't do all the math on her own yet, but she can add up to 20 and play cards in the proper order. The more she plays the more she practices her math skills.

This Post is Linked To:
Mrs. H's Resource RoomRelentlessly Fun
Fourth Grade Flipper 
Hip Homeschool Hop 
Mom's Library
Real Family Fun
TGIF Linky
Family Fun Friday
Sun Scholars
Pin Me Linky

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
 ** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Lesson Planning - Geography

How do you study geography?
In the past we have done many different geography activities, but don't usually cover it as a separate subject. Rather it is discussed in context with other subjects. When studying history typically one week is set aside to focus on the map for the region we are covering. If we are reading about an artist or composer we will use the map to locate his/her town and country.

That being said, I have found a few resources that work great when covering geography separately. We love A Child's geography of the World. It is an older book but written in story format, and very entertaining. Unfortunately since it's out of print it can be difficult to obtain. Seterra is an on-line geography quiz game that's free to download. Mozart, The Wonder Boy is a good book to read while studying European geography and Mozart.

This year we will cover geography in conjunction with our other subjects. We are planning to cover Earth Science this year and I expect to cover a lot of geography. Beginning with the continents and oceans, we should locate different habitats, the Pacific Ring of Fire, and unique geological formations such as the Grand Canyon and the Great Rift Valley.

What are your plans for geography?

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This post is linked to: 
Manic Monday
It's Playtime 
Weekly Kids Co-op
Hip Homeschool Hop

Personal Cookbook for Kids - Writing

Isn't it great when subjects can be combined? Here's how we combined cooking and writing. Each time my son learns how to cook new meals he writes down the recipes in his personal cookbook. A larger class could create a similar cookbook by having each child write one recipe.

Although I refer to cookbooks for some meals, there are many things I prepare from memory. Simple foods such as oatmeal, eggs and grilled cheese I can probably make in my sleep. However, my son is learning how to cook. He watches and helps, but when he prepares them on his own he does much better with a reference.

My kids often complain about writing because the assignments lack a final purpose. What are we really going to do with all of those papers written about ancient Greece and the most interesting part of the human body? The personal cookbook is useful right from the start. He is motivated to write, because he loves to cook and to eat!

This post is linked to these great blog hops.

Homeschooling Teaching Style

Teaching three kids with different learning styles and at different levels is a big challenge. I can't imagine the challenge public school teachers must face with 25 or so students. This year I plan to make a few changes to the flow of our school day.

First of all I plan to organize the day into three main parts:

- Reading, Writing and Math
- Long term pursuits (music and language)

Nice Weather Afternoons - Outside play time and sports
Rainy Weather Afternoons - Afternoon walk, History, Science, Art and other Unit Based Studies

Evenings - Crafts/hobbies, preparing for bed, computer time, and reading with mom

Over the past two years or so my teaching style has drifted farther away from a loosely structured day to a day filled with teacher directed activities. Although I feel student led and teacher led activities are both important, I think both the kids and I would be happier with less teacher driven activities. The kids have proven time and time again that when they are given free time, they make good use of it by doing high quality activities.

I plan to work with my 1st and 5th graders together quite a bit, since they enjoy similar books. I can have them take turns playing math games with me and silent reading on their own. My son can read to my daughter and I hope they inspire each other with writing.

Here's what the other homeschooling bloggers had to say about teaching style.

Barefoot Hippie Girl- New Year, New Styles
Every Bed of Roses - Teaching Goals
One Magnificent Obsession - Christian Classically Eclectic
Hammock Tracks - Clear Goals
Navigating by Joy - Finding Our Way Back to Unschooling

The Story of Inventions - Gutenberg Printing Press

The book The Story of Inventions is about several inventions which changed the way we live today. The Gutenberg printing press is just one of the inventions. 
While reading the chapter on the printing press we watched two videos to help us better understand how a printing press works.



The Gutenberg Bible was the first book produced on the printing press. It was printed with two columns per page and space was left for illustrations and for fancy lettering. The book was printed in Latin and some bibles were never even decorated. The printing press lowered the price of books so dramatically that common people could afford the luxury once only available to the rich.

The Story of Inventions provides an excellent description of the process of inventing the press and how it changed the world. The book Breaking into Print by Stephen Krensky is the perfect companion. It explains the history of printing beginning with the Chinese through Gutenberg's revolutionary printing press. It is written in story format with illustrations and a timeline.

This post is linked to:
Science Sunday

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Selling Ice Cream

The kids learned the most difficult part of business - finding customers.

Since I helped the kids sell soda to high school students walking past our house on their lunch break five years ago, they are always coming up with new items to sell. Selling pop left a big impression on them.

Since most of their ideas have a major flaw, I usually just listen and wait for it to pass, but their plan to sell ice cream really sounded good. They estimated the cost of the ice cream, noticed that local ice cream stores were packed, noted the hot weather in the forecast, discussed whether to buy cones or cups, discussed what flavors were most popular, and calculated the price required to sell the cones in order to make a profit. After days of discussion and planning I was ready to support this project so we took a trip to the store.

They pooled their money and spent about $20 on chocolate, vanilla, strawberry ice cream, cones, napkins and gummy bears.

During the car ride home they estimated they purchased supplies for 36 cones and calculated the price they spent per cone.

Next, they prepared a sign which contained both English and German as we live in Germany, but there are many Americans also living in the village.

The sign included prices in both dollars and euros.

Coins for making change were placed into their money belt for the trip.

The cooler hadn't been used in a while, so cleaning was required.

It was loaded with the goods and ice they had made the previous day.

Finally they were ready to sell.

They returned 1.5 hours later quite disappointed and exhausted. They dragged the cooler about 2 km around the village in 90 degree heat and sold one cone. During the sale they discovered the ice cream was melting fast and decided they needed to return home before all of their inventory was destroyed. However, to their surprise, their customer really liked the ice cream and gave them a tip.

I felt so bad for them. They literally worked for hours and ended up loosing $19, but this was a huge learning experience. Not only did it require cooperation, planning, math, and art, but marketing skills as well.

My kids are a bit shy and have never wanted to order their own food at restaurants, ask a sales person in a store where the bathroom is, or any other task which requires talking to a stranger. Communication is a crucial skill in selling anything face-to-face.

My son was quite discouraged, but my daughter was determined to try again. After all, she still needed to recover her lost investment. They decided next time they will yell "Ice Cream for Sale" while walking down the street, carry a bell or something to make noise, and use a lighter cooler. If public school is in session they will try to go when the bus drops kids off.

They worked so hard and had a great idea. I hope they do better next time.

Lesson Planning - Art and Handicrafts

This series of link-ups is for educators to share ideas and lesson plans for the upcoming school year. This week's topic is art and handicrafts. To see the rest of the schedule please visit our Resources Page.

Although art and handicrafts are related, we cover them separately. In the past we have followed both Ambleside Online's Picture Study and the Come Look With Me series of books to study famous works of art. When using the Come Look With Me series we go through the books very slowly covering one picture every two weeks. We just read about the painting and answer the questions in the book. Then we set the picture as the desktop background on the computer. If there is a Mike Venezia book on the artist we read the book.

This year I plan to use the Discovering Great Artists projects in conjunction with Mike Venezia's series of Getting To Know The World's Best Artists. If all goes well we will read one book and do a project every two weeks.

Knitting, sewing, spinning, and needle felting seem to be the favorite handicrafts in our house. In the past I haven't really taught handicrafts during school time, but rather helped with projects the kids are interested in.

This year will be different. I plan to teach photography. My photographer friend's daughter used to teach my daughter to play the piano. During lessons I would help her with knitting projects and she taught me about photography. Not long after our chats, much of the conversations would show up on her blog in the form of weekend photography tips.

Weekend Photography Tips
Starting with what You've Got - Jan 21, 2012
Scene Modes - Jan 29, 2012
Zoom and Lens Distortion - Feb 4, 2012
Composition - Feb 18, 2012
Fill Flash - Feb 25, 2012 
Flash Diffusers - March 4, 2012
Lens and Focal Lengths - March 11, 2012
Getting the Color Right - March 25, 2012
Depth of Field App - April 7, 2012
Picmonkey and Point and Shoots - April 21, 2012
How to Shoot in Manual - May 5, 2012
Processing Pitfalls - May 12, 2012
iPhoto - June 2, 2012
All Those Old Photos - June 23, 2012
Cropping and Printing - July 2, 2012

I learned a lot from her and can see improvements in the photos I have taken since our talks. This year I plan to pass on my limited knowledge to my kids and hopefully spark a new interest.

How do you teach art and handicrafts?


This post is linked to: 
Homeschooling Hearts and Minds

Duolingo - Language Learning

In searching for a way for my daughter to begin learning French we discovered this awesome language learning tool. Duolingo is free language learning curriculum offered over the web. Both my husband and my daughter have been using it for a few months. They have used Rosetta Stone in the past and this free tool is very comparable. My daughter says she likes it because you earn points.

My husband likes it for several reasons. First of all the program accepts multiple correct answers. It may say in German - Translate this phrase into English. Die Frau trinkt Wasser. The woman drinks water and the lady drinks water would both be accepted as correct answers. Secondly, Duolingo explains some of the reasoning behind the grammar. He's learning German and there are many articles. It's often difficult to know when to use die, der or das. This program gives some background information on grammar. Third, if the directions say listen and type in German and you type in English instead, the program recognizes that and says oops..... try again.

It's amazing that a tool this good is totally free without adds, hidden fees, or some goal to sell you something. It's free because a team of linguists and scientists are trying to develop a better language translation tool. Homonyms and synonyms can be a challenge for native speakers, but they seem to baffle translation tools. The program stores translations by users and uses that information to put translations into context.

Living in Germany and being a native English speaker, I am quite familiar with translation tools. Although they work well enough for me to get the gist of whatever I'm reading, the word order and grammar could be significantly improved.

Duolingo offers Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese. Check it out!

This post is linked to:
Classroom Freebies

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