Wednesday, August 23, 2017

When Vocabulary is Really Expressions

Did you raise your eyebrows at this headline?
Did the headline turn your head?
Were you so surprised that your heart stopped?

These are three expressions that are should count at tier 2 vocabulary in our system. In upper elementary school, students should know these idiomatic expressions as part of their working vocabulary.  I'm about to go look up how the CCSS deals with them.

Moving from surprise to expressions related to difficulty...

Do you think that for ESL students, these expressions are as easy as pie?
If they put their shoulder to the grindstone, can they tough it out and master these expressions?
There's also a big difference between recognizing these expressions and learning to use them gracefully.

English, such as tough language.  So many influences, so much vocabulary and then, all these idiomatic figurative expressions many of which come from obscure sports references or archaic expressions.

Making money hand over fist refers to the physical act of stamping metal with the image that makes it an official coin. Literally, the guy doing it had his hand over his fist.

There you are in a business meeting and someone talks about hitting a home run or somebody being the quarterback. Geez, if only I had a coach to help me through this language game or marathon of vocabulary learning...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Very Vast Vocabulary

Just as learning to spell correctly is important, learning to use vocabulary words is also necessary.  One way we incorporate vocabulary words into our homeschool day is by using an online vocabulary program.  A fun game to play is a matching game--a word list is given on the left side of the screen and a list of definitions on the right.  The same game can also be played by using sentences in place of definitions.  There are also vocabulary flashcards used to review definitions and assigned vocabulary words.

Learning new words and expanding a students vocabulary is important to the growth of reading skills.  Just as it is important to practice and improve reading comprehension, it is also essential to broaden the vocabulary horizons of homeschooled students.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Importance of Reading Comprehension

An area of education that calls for frequent attention is that of reading comprehension.  When children are in preschool and kindergarten, the goal is to teach them letters and sounds so they can learn to read.  Learning to read, however, isn’t the only important part of this equation.  In addition to being able to read, children need to also hone their skills of reading comprehension.  

It’s not enough to know how to sound out the words and read them on the page.  It’s also incredibly important to understand what is being read.  To help your student hone their
reading comprehension skills, here’s a great course of action you can utilize:

  1. Predict what will happen next in a story using clues presented in text
  2. Create questions about the main idea, message, or plot of the text
  3. Monitor understanding of the sequence, context, or characters
  4. Clarify parts of the text which have confused them
  5. Connect the events in the text to prior knowledge or experience

By teaching your students the aforementioned steps, you can help them learn how to become an active reader.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Making Creative History Projects

Social studies is an interesting subject for upper elementary students.  Ancient civilizations, history, geography, civics, and economics are all topics likely covered in this time frame.  Learning about the past and how it affects the present and the future are topics in which students can relate.  Plus, with so much action taking place throughout history, it’s easy to find a time period in which students enjoy hearing the stories.  

Between reading lessons together or online, completing worksheets, and taking quizzes, social studies may start to get a little dry for students.  A great way to combat that issue is by creating engaging social studies games and projects.  Making clay writing tablets to represent cuneiform or constructing a wigwam with sticks and cloth are all ways to make history come alive in your homeschool.  Think outside of the box and get creative when thinking of a social studies project-- those always turn out the best!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Playing Games with Music

With the end of the year finally here, a great subject to focus on this month is music.  With all the different types of seasonal music being played over the next several weeks, this is a great time to discuss several genres of music.  Learning with and through music is a great way to expand the interests of your homeschooled students.  

Other than listening to music and discussing differences, a fun way to incorporate music into your school day is through online music games.  By introducing music to kids through fun and games, you are fostering a love for different types of music, musicians, and songs.   Exposure to arts and music at an early age often shown to have lasting impacts on children.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Spelling Lists for all Seasons

A great way to include seasonal activities in your homeschool is to create spelling lists made of seasonal words.  There’s a good chance that if you look around, you’ll even find monthly holiday  lists already created for you.  In November, you could assign a list based on holidays like Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving or on words that you might hear around Thanksgiving like food-related words.  In December, you can use word lists for Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve.  

Including lists for different holidays and events is a nice change of pace for students.  It allows them the opportunity to take a break from regular lessons, but still keeps them on track with learning and practicing spelling words.  Also, who doesn’t want a spelling list with words like turkey, dessert, cranberry, and gravy?!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Case for Cursive

Do you teach cursive handwriting in your homeschool?  Along with teaching typing proficiency, homeschool parents should also recognize the importance of learning proper handwriting skills.  Many people say that teaching and learning to write in cursive is no longer important for today’s children.  Some people disagree with that notion.

For instance, if your child doesn’t know how to write in cursive, they likely will not know how to read words written in cursive.  There’s an easy way to include cursive handwriting into your daily school schedule.  By assigning your children their spelling words to be written in cursive, they will not only be practicing their handwriting, but their spelling words as well.  Try out some cursive handwriting worksheets for your homeschooler this year!