Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tips for Attending a Homeschool Curriculum Fair

I went to a a large curriculum fair today, for the second time in my life. Here are a few tips I have learned, some from others, some the hard way.

If possible, preview the vendors and a map online before the event. Have at least a general idea of items your family will need in the upcoming months and years. Spend some time reviewing the vendor list and familiarizing yourself with their products. Spend a little time looking online at prices so you can recognize a good bargain when you see one.

Bring a friend (or two). It's nice to have someone to chat with on the drive. It's nice to have a sounding board for ideas, or a second opinion. It's nice to have a second pair of eyes looking for that one item you cannot miss. I like to leave the kids at home.

Bring pre-printed mailing labels with your name and address on them. It's nice to have these to stick on forms for mailing lists, instead of writing out all your information over and over.

Know your budget. Bring some cash. If you use a debit card, and you are traveling to the fair, give your bank a call so they don't freeze your card for suspicious activity. Bring a backup credit card or checkbook.

Bring a tote bag or backpack, or rolling crate. You will need something in which to carry all your purchases. If possible, carry some outside to the car sporadically.

Always peruse the used book stalls and ask vendors about scratch and dent books. Ask about bundling. Haggle. Those folks want to carry home as little as possible.

If you can't get what you want at the fair, ask about any deals for ordering at the fair. You may get a hefty discount, or free shipping.

Take your time and have fun!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Portfolio Review Preparation

Here's a quick post about how I prepare portfolios for our county homeschool review.

About two to four times per month, I sit down with a stack of papers like this.

My first step is to sort the papers by child.
I end up with five stacks: one for each child, one of school printouts that will not go into portfolios, one of weird miscellaneous stuff that doesn't belong with school papers at all, and recyclables.

For the next phase, I grab my planner, date stamp or pen, hole puncher, and a pair of scissors.

Sometimes, my kids don't date stamp their work. The planner is helpful to remind myself what we were doing on what dates.  The scissors are for cutting off this stuff.

I take out anything that cannot be hole-punched and put in the binder.

Doesn't this stack look much more manageable already?

These odd sized things go in the front pocket of the binder.

After everything has been date stamped, I start adding things to the binder, in chronological order. I include an example per week from each subject. If the subject isn't obvious, I make a note on the top of the page.

I add photos by pasting them onto computer paper, adding a caption or date if appropriate, and add it to the binder.
I like to include photographs of our workspace, classes outside our home, social time, art projects that don't fit in our portfolio, our garden, travel, and pictures of the boys doing some of their work.

Anything that doesn't go in the binder goes into the large paper portfolio. I have one for each child. This is  also where any oversized projects get stored.
Repeat for next child!

I hope this helps someone else keep all this paperwork organized!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Teaching Time

Thing One (9) has a tough time with analog clocks. They are counter-intuitive to him. He thinks the long hand should be used for the hour hand instead of the minute hand. Here are some activities I put together to try to reinforce his memorizing the rules and trying to make it fun.

Draw a huge clock outside with sidewalk chalk. Or on a dry erase board or chalkboard. Have your child hold a short stick for the hour hand and a long stick for the minute hand. You call out a time and they move their arms into the correct position.

Play this fun computer game: stop the clock.

Try time flashcards. My set has analog on one side and digital on the other. Thing Two (6) can read the digital side, too, so he can help Thing One practice.

We have found one of these to be very helpful.  I love that the minutes are marked around the edges.

Here's an online one.  analog clock

Opera Unit Study

Here is an idea of the Opera unit study I have put together for my kids. We do music together despite the difference in age (K and 3rd grade).

Bantam of the Opera by Mary Jane Auch-a cute picture book about a rooster with a passion for fine music.
The Dog who Sang at the Opera by Jim West and Marshall Izen

Phantom of the Opera Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber
coloring page of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Die Walkure (The Valkyrie) by Eichard Wagner
Valkyrie coloring pages

Hansel and Gretel by Englebert Humperdinck
Read the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
or listen to the Golden Book version on you tube:
Metropolitan Opera Educator Guide 

Little Red Riding Hood by Seymour Barab
Watch the Golden Book version on you tube:

Metropolitan Opera videos on demand
You can "rent" a video for 30 days, or do a free 7 day trial. I think this would be an amazing tool to watch different versions of a production, and compare sets, costumes, and performances.

There are quite a few opera for kids CDs out there as well. Try your local library.

Design your own opera online game:
This is an extremely well done interactive game which lets the students try out various roles from the production of an opera, like lighting, choreography, costume, and props.