Saturday, May 24, 2014

Our History Timeline

We just recently finished the Story of the World Ancient Times text, instead of moving straight to Story of the World Medieval Times we decided to take the summer off and instead explore the historical sites around us.  With the warmer weather it just felt like the perfect time to start doing some history field trips. There are several sites near our house that pertain to the American Revolution and seemed tailor made for some educational outings. I however felt that the significance would be lost on our daughters (10 and 7) without some sort of  unit study on the American Revolution before visiting the sites.

 This is where it gets complicated. We are jumping some 1200 years into the future from where we left off in our history text. That has to be confusing for the kids. While trying to figure out how I was going to make this the easiest for them to understand I stumbled onto the idea of a timeline. How simple was that?! Problem solved! Oh........wait...........where do I put this timeline? In their notebooks? Well yeah you CAN but when I looked at the timelines people were making the papers for the timeline took up an entire 3 ring binder and had to be stretched across the floor every time you wanted to look at them. That wasn't going to work. I didn't want to have to drag a book out, clear out the space on the floor, and then fight the little kids wanting to walk on it every time the kids wanted to see the timeline. I needed something simpler. That was when I found a blog with a wall timeline. I was sold!

We are in the process of packing up our house to move however since we are military the move is more than a little uncertain. We have been "about to move" for 6mths at this point and no actual date for a move has arrived. So while we wait for official word we have started doing things like taking pictures down off the walls, packing the little nicknacks, etc. This meant I had tons of room on my walls for a giant timeline. I picked a wall in the living room that is clearly visible from the couch, where we just might do more than a fair share of our school time. I wanted the kids to be able to glance up when they hear a date and get a feel for where it falls on the timeline.  In a perfect world I would have done this BEFORE starting our history lessons but hey better late than never right?

Pretty bleak right? Yeah....I promise it looked a lot better a few months ago! That is Ralph the therapy bunny in the hutch I am sure he loved me taking his picture while he did his business in his litter box. Poor guy, so misunderstood.

Okay back to topic. I got out my hand dandy ruler, the "ugly" construction paper my kids refuse to use for their projects, my laminator, a pencil, and permanent marker. I first cut the paper down to a length that would fit in my lamination sheets, about 1/2in off the length. Then I drew strips as wide as my ruler (about 1.5 inches). Once I had a whole sheet of strips drawn I used it as a template to cut out 5 sheets at once, repeating as many times as necessary to get the desired number of strips.

I used green for 5000 BC to 1 BC, orange for O AD to 1799AD, and brown for 1800AD to present.

Once I had all my strips cut out, which only took me about 20min from start to finish, I started writing the dates on them. I started at 5000BC and then wrote the next date on the end of the next strip so when they were put together they made a cohesive time line. I counted down from 5000BC by 500's until I reached 1000BC. At that point I started counting down by 100's. When I reached 0 AD I again began counting in 100's until I reached 1000AD. From that point forward I counted in 50's until 1800 AD, where I started counting in 25 year increments till the present time.  Clear as mud?

After I had all the strips numbered I laminated them and got to work lining them up on the wall. I am pretty sure I drove my husband and older daughter nuts with this part of the project. I don't know how many times I asked "is it straight?" only to hear "it is FINE" back. Maybe Ralph the bunny isn't the only one who is misunderstood. It still isn't straight and it is driving me just a tiny bit nuts. I will deal with it however. If you are as OCD as I am you will want to use a laser level for this part. I had my oldest daughter hand me the strips in order. It was a good reinforcement for her on the difference in recording time between BC and AD. She was thrown a bit when I reminded her that we start with the largest number in BC and then count down to 0 only to count back up again in AD. We covered that as part of our history unit but you know how it goes, in one ear and out the other if they don't have a concrete use for the knowledge right that second.

Once the strips were all up on the wall I took our clear packing tape and went over the bottom  three rows. I have 6 children.......4 of those are under the age of 5. They touch things. You get the idea.

After I was positive that the kids couldn't come along behind me and rip down my hard work I moved on to making the photos to place on the timeline. I went through our Story of the World text and pulled out the major historical points. Once I had the topics I wanted to represent and the dates associated with them I began working on finding images to match. I really thought that it would be difficult but I found this wonderful clip art site that has images for everything you can imagine. If you are a true history buff I am sure you will want to use real images, but since my children are younger I was fine with cartoon  images. We just made a word document with the images, printed, labeled them on the back with the names and dates, and laminated them. That way when we do move they will be simple to put in the correct position at the next house.

I had my girls help me put the finished pictures up on the timeline. It was a good review for them over what we studied last semester. There was a lot of "oh yeah, I remember him" so at least they were kind of paying attention! It is looking pretty bare at the moment but I am sure we will fill it up quickly as we continue our studies. I am loving that we can use it for ALL of our studies not just history. Talk about a famous scientist? Add them to the wall. Read a non-fiction book about a topic that interests you? Add it to the wall. I would also like to add the pictures of the kids to their birth year at some point so they can see where they fall on the time line.

I really am looking forward to using this timeline in our studies!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Notebooking in the large family!

As I mentioned in my last blog post we are changing up the way we go about homeschooling our 4 oldest daughters. When we started homeschooling 3 mths ago we were flying by the seat of our pants. We pulled our girls out of public school in the middle of the year and had absolutely no plan in place as to how to go about doing this. We just knew that we wanted them home with us and that we were determined to make it work. So we got some recommendations for curriculum and jumped in the deep end. For the most part we LOVE our curriculum and are keeping the same curriculum for the summer and fall school seasons. What we are changing however is how we handle all the “stuff” that comes with the lessons. There is just SO.MUCH.PAPER that comes with homeschooling. It is a job all to itself to manage all the completed work for each child……..then multiply that by the 4 kids we have currently doing school work. It was mind boggling to keep up with it all. 

I had heard of the term Notebooking going around the homeschooling community and decided to look into it. At first I couldn’t understand what it was all about. All I found were blank worksheets with lots of empty boxes and lines for writing information. I couldn’t for the life of me understand how this was supposed to make my life easier. It just seemed like a ton more work to keep up with all these extra sheets of paper. People however kept talking about it so I looked into it again. Suddenly it just clicked for me. We are a pretty artistic family and we love to do hands on things like crafts, scrapbooks, etc. Once I started to figure out what notebooking was all about, basically a scrapbook for your completed work, I was sold.

I however didn’t want to use binders or regular lined notebooks for this.  Binders have the habit of getting warped in our family and notebooks get used for art paper and leave no clean paper for actual work. I wanted something that was durable and would stand up to the kids handling as well as be a clear “off limits” to snagging the paper for other things.  I found this tutorial about how to make your own notebooking journals for $5 each.  I was sold. I headed up to Staples and decided to have 10 notebooks made. I found packs of multicolored cardstock and just had them make each separate color into a notebook. The price at Staples was about double the price at Office Max (We don’t have an Office Max near where we live). Our notebooks ended up coming out at $10 per. Not terrible when you figure how much binders or paper would cost for the same project.  Plus these are super cute and we won’t be tempted to disassemble them in the fall to reuse the binders.

One of the things about notebooking that I don’t totally love is that you have to keep a stash of blank notebook pages at the ready at all times. You don’t want to be in the middle of a lesson and suddenly have to go look up a template and print the pages out right that second. I was able to find this file box at the Dollar Store for $6 and the 1.5in file organizers at Staples for $16 (yes my eyes crossed at that amount but I was committed at that point). I spent an evening printing out a million and one copies of several different templates and filing them in the organizers based on the subject or age level of the template. I do love having them all done and organized and the file box is light enough that it can be easily moved to the kitchen table while we are working and then put away till the next day.

The older girls got one notebook for History, one for Science, one for Math, and one for Language arts. 

 The twins each got one for their pre-k work.   

So far so good, the kids seem to be enjoying decorating the pages and getting their work arranged in the notebooks and I love having it all in one place and organized. Plus there is the added bonus of acting as a portfolio all on its own at the end of the year.





Individual School Boxes!


I am on a bit of an organizational kick these days. Something about the end of the regular school year and the start of our summer school session that has me ready to get everything sorted out and changed over. One of the things that has driven me crazy recently is the constant losing of school supplies. Everything has a place and in a perfect world everything would be *IN* it's place. Ah...yes this isn't a perfect world I forgot for just a second. I am fully back to reality now, and missing about 100 pencils. 

We decided to get each of our older girls a "school box" for all their supplies. We ended up going to 4 different stores looking for just the right box to start with. I didn't want a traditional box where everything is in once compartment and lays vertically all mixed together. We have several of those and they were just not working for us. I wanted something with a lot of compartments and that would allow the school supplies to stand up right for easy selection.       

We finally found these clear cosmetic organizers at Walmart in the bath section. I love them! They are heavy weight with handles and several different sized compartments. They however were a bit dull. I mean clear is clear and my girls were less than enthused about using them. Since I do like to keep my girls excited about school we splurged and bought some fancy duct tape to decorate the boxes.                                                              

When we got home the girls were chomping at the bit to get to decorating them. My 7 yr old had a bit of trouble controlling the duct tape so I helped her out on hers. My 10yr old however just needed a bit of assistance here and there. We covered the outside of each box, and my 10yr old decided the inside needed to be covered as well. One roll of the duct tape (about 6.5 feet) was plenty for the just the outside of the box but not quite enough if you wanted to do the inside as well. 

I also went through and put their initial on every single item in the box. On every crayon, marker, glue stick, etc. I find your school supplies on the floor and you are in deep doodoo. Our 7yr old has already lost one of her pencils and went searching behind the couch for it since she knew mom had counted the pencils and knew exactly how many were in the box.

I love that the boxes are portable and everything is in one place. No more searching for the crayons, or the markers, or goodness forbid you should need scissors or glue!  The girls are LOVING the boxes and they are coming in handy with our new approach to schooling: Notebooking. More about that to come in my next post however.


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