Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lego Smart Creativity Contest Results!

I'm happy and thankful to announce that we won the Lego competition in the homeschool category! Well I say we...but it was truly the hubby and kids this time. I was the proud wifey/mama! It was really a wonderful experience. We were able to attend the Lego Education STEM Summit. Going in I was expecting maybe some negativity as far as homeschooling as all the other participants were either teachers from private schools or public schools. I couldn't have been more wrong! We so enjoyed meeting all of the other teachers that won the contest in their categories.

After a rather long drive ;) there, we arrived late afternoon and then went out to eat at a VERY nice restaurant with a representative from Lego, Debra Smith (who I cannot say enough good stuff about...she was wonderful!) and all of the other teachers that won in their category. I'm proud to say my kids were so well behaved (phew...but how could I expect any less? ;) and our family really enjoyed talking with the other teachers. The grand prize winner Dottie was a sweetheart!

The kids even met an astronaut!! Here they are with  Leland D. Melvin. His personal story is quite amazing I must add. He is in charge of the NASA education project. (they are linked up with Lego) Z has always been interested in outerspace and space travel so I feel so blessed that we had this opportunity.

Oh and I cannot forget that we were able to meet Stephan Turnipseed, president of LEGO Education North America. In fact I was sitting next to him at lunch! I really got a lot out of the Summit presentations and was once again really surprised how pro homeschool the presentations were.  It was very interesting hearing how Lego is used as a tool to teach science and technology and get kids in schools involved in wanting to learn.

I'm so thankful to God for giving us this opportunity! We will be giving part of our winnings to our 4H Lego/Robotics club.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

visual spatial learning

Visual spatial learners are those individuals that "think in pictures". This really fits with my son and quite honestly that is how I learn the best also. If I am on the phone with someone trying to give me directions somewhere it is completely useless. Regardless if they give me excellent directions I always have to google a map and look at it before it makes sense to me. For my son if he reads words on a page that are not accompanied by a photo or illustration he does not retain it as much. One of his favorite books is an early reader that is about some basic facts on George Washington. Each page has a basic picture on the other side that relates to what the other page says. Using the pictures in conjunction with the pictures he is able to remember basic facts about one of America's founding fathers. Reading comprehension happens best if he can see a picture of what he is reading about.

Another great way to teach this type of learner is by using manipulatives such as my favorite- LEGO! Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for ideas on using Lego to learn.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I admit lapbooking is something we have not done a lot of. We are traveling right now (more on that later...I'm finding it challenging to get on the computer to blog) and I was thinking how nice it would have been to have some lapbooks along to entertain on the long hours in the car.

WHAT IS a Lapbook ?

A lapbook is a very inexpensive way to bring together a topic into a collection of mini-books, flaps, using a file folder. It provides a space and pockets for drawings, graphics, stories, graphs, timelines, diagrams, and written work. With the subject you choose you can include writing, reading, art....The possibilities are limitless. It can be used for preschoolers all the way up to kids in older grades. The possibilities are limitless.

Here is a picture of a science lapbook that I found online.

That is one of the many neat things about lapbooks. You can make it on any subject. That fits right in with our ecclectic learning style. We sometimes do workboxes and this would be a really fun project to put in a workbox to add variety. You can buy already to put together lapbooks to print out and put in a file folder or if you are the creative type it is easy to pull one together yourself to go with your childs special interests.

We are planning a similiar road trip for next summer and I have big plans for a state and state facts lapbook! Do any of my readers have ideas for lapbooks to make or care to share lapbooks they have made?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Teaching your child to read

I must say that reading is one of my favorite things to do with writing coming in a close second. To instil that same love of books to my children has been a huge goal for me over the years. I started teaching both of my children to read around the same time. A~man was almost 7 and Z~girl was 5. I used the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy lessons". I was a bit nervous at first because it was a slow start the first couple of weeks with both children. After a month though Z took off with no looking back. At the end of that first year Z was reading two years ahead of her grade level. Ever since she has been a  voracious reader. I used to love the reactions of the librarians when she would check out over a dozen chapter books and bring them back less than two weeks later. She doesn't consume quite so many books at 10 but she still brings a book wherever she goes.

It has not been an easy voyage with A's reading yet still he LOVES books and loves a good story. Teaching him to read has involved so many different approaches. His online phonics program has been invaluable to him learning how to put sounds together and also learning how to comprehend what he has read. For him it has helped that he can hear it read, read it himself, and then answer the questions the computer asks.  Learning sight words was also invaluable as memorizing is fairly easy for him. Plus we try to have him read to us every day. Sometimes I will make a chart of blocks and he can color in a block for each 15 minutes he has read to us. Scattered throughout the chart I will put motivators such as-a trip to the game store, renting a movie of his choice, a trip to the dollar store, and the very occasionally trip to go out to eat with just one of us. (he loves the alone time even more than the food I believe) Another thing I have done with the kids is for them to make a menu (or me) and to play restaurant. I know this might not work with some children with PWS but it's never caused a problem with A~man. Or we have played store by me keeping old cereal boxes/drained soda and water bottles/pizza boxes and I have made them a list and they had to go "shopping" for what was on the list. This was also a great way to include math by them paying the cashier for the items. They LOVED this.

I'm  not sure if reading will ever be easy for A~man but I hope both he and his sister keep their love of books.


Monday, November 7, 2011


I need a do over for this week. Have you heard of a do over? (I'm not sure where the kids and I got that term) On a REALLY cranky morning we have been known to go back into our rooms for awhile...have some quite time and come back out and start completely over from scratch with a happier demeanor.

The start of my weekend was ROUGH. Female issues and kidney stones. Way too much info for my blog but it is suffice to say physically I am drained. I feel depressed mentally due to feeling so physically drained. I haven't been too cranky today just really really down. I admit it. Even if my name is JOY sometimes I really get down. My poor compassionate and empathetic daughter kept asking all day long "what's wrong?" "did I do something?" on and on. Finally what did she do? She went to the store and came back surprising me with chocolate that she bought with her own money.

Oh but in my stupor? I forgot a homeschool event. I know I know...life goes on but looking back I wish I would have told A~man...yes he bugs me with daily event planning but if he would have known I wouldn't have forgotten.

Here's to a much better tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hebrews 11:1

YOU TOO can blog!!

SERIOUSLY! I have been blogging since Jan 2005. I started out blogging somewhere else and ended up jumping over to Blogger a few years ago. My only regret was that I couldn't bring my old entries over here to blogger. I have been trying for ages to get my husband to start blogging as he is an excellent writer but he mainly likes writing fiction. (which might be interesting for a blog theme?) I have tried to talk friends into blogging about their life experiences but most just do not think that they are creative enough to do it or that they do not have enough time. I'm perhaps an atypical female as I do not like at ALL to chat on the phone. (much to my family in particulars displeasure) This most likely happened after having children. HAHAH. If anyone knows my son at all (well sometimes my daughter too) talking on the phone when my children are around is like skiing up a hill.  I like chatting in person OR sort of like the diaries of the past I like writing it all in my blog.

Not long after I started using blogger someone told me about a wonderful Blog Writing Course. I already knew the basics but I cannot tell you how helpful this course was for learning how to get people to follow your blog, (thanks people!) learning some about HTML, making your blog purty and easy to read.  (and so much more!) So it was very beneficial to me even as a somewhat seasoned blogger. Of course I'm still always learning...that's why I love to go visit so many blogs. My favorite thing about blogging is looking back over the years at what I have written. I'm NOT good at scrap booking...but as I understand it you can put your blog into book form if you want. I'm hoping to do this one day.

Now get out there people...and WRITE!!