Math: Tackling Troublesome Topics, by Cheryl

Kids learn at different rates. Some pick up reading quickly, some more slowly. The same is true for learning math. The pace of an individual child can vary, as well. A child may learn basic math concepts very quickly, but eventually hit a wall and need to slow down. What do you do then? How do you help your child or student scale that wall and take off running again?

Math has always been an easy subject for my eldest. His mind can handle numbers in ways that I cannot understand. When he hit a wall with long division, I was shocked! The joy he had felt during our daily math lessons was replaced by tears. We worked with manipulatives, and we practiced problems together over and over and over for days. I assigned 10+ problems each day for practice. “Drill and Kill!” That is how you master math, right? His frustration just increased. We needed a new plan.

First, I put away the math book. We had been struggling for a couple of weeks, we needed a break. It was almost Christmas vacation, so we took an extra week off from math.

Next, I found a series of videos on division from Khan Academy. One concern I had was that we might have failed to master concepts that allow understanding of long division. A good review of the topic was needed. I assigned my son math videos to watch for fifteen minutes per day.

After Christmas we came back to our book, and instead of drilling long division until we finished a page every day, we only worked on two problems per day. He talked me through one on the board, and I did all the writing as we talked through the steps. Then he did one on his own. After a couple of days we increased to four problems per day – two together and two on his own. After about a week of just a few problems a day he was able to go through all the steps without assistance.

Once the skill was truly mastered, with an understanding of how and why the standard algorithm worked, we flew through the next few lessons and easily caught up to were we would have been without the break. Slowing down for a few weeks eventually helped us to speed up because of the deeper understanding of the topic.

Sometimes we get stuck in the rut of believing that “more drill” is the best way to be sure that a skill is mastered, when what a child really needs is to slow down for a week or two. Sometimes a break from a topic allows the child to absorb what he has been learning, and he can then come back with a different mindset and grasp the next concept more readily.

The freedom to change course has been one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling. I can slow my kids down or take a break when needed. It can be hard to change the pace with a class full of students, but this kind of specialization in education can be the difference between a child’s loving or loathing math.

If your child or student is struggling with a topic in math:

1. Stop.

2. Take a break.

3. Go back to the basics.

4. Tackle just a few problems per day.

These are methods I have learned to use that foster success instead of allowing us to stagnate in frustration.

 

cherylby Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

Arts and Crafts Explained: Our Chalk Walk Experience, by Apryl

 

Recently I, along with my daughter and niece, had the opportunity to participate in Knoxville’s Annual Chalk Walk. Each year they open Market Square to artists of all abilities to create a chalk creation on the sidewalks. This was our first year, and we learned a lot!

1.  Come prepared. They provided us with chalk. Anything else was up to us. We brought felt squares for blending and masking tape. I will post more at the end about what I plan on bringing next year.

2.  Have a plan. We had sketches of what we wanted to do. This was extremely helpful. It would be very hard to work on the fly with so many people watching you!

3.  Know some basic chalk techniques. This was my first time EVER working with chalk for drawing other than using children’s sidewalk chalk with my kids!

4.  Be prepared to shift gears. I had to redraw my sketch a bit for proportion. I also ran out of a color for the skin and had to improvise.

5.  Wear old clothes. You WILL get dirty!

6.  Have fun! We enjoyed ourselves so much, and cannot wait to go back next year!

This is the finished piece my daughter and niece worked on.

This is my finished piece. It was kind of unfinished, but my old bones had had enough of the cold concrete!

Here are some other beautiful works in progress:

Now, for what I would do differently.

First, I would definitely bring knee pads! That is what affected my artwork most of all. It is hard to work if you are in pain.

Bring extra chalk. Although they had a table for trading in chalk, the colors you wanted weren’t always there. So, especially if you know you will be using a lot of one color, bring backups!

Bring a chalk line and mark out a grid. Have your sketch on a grid. It is hard to keep the perspective correct when you are working on the ground.

Bring lots of paint brushes, some water, and plenty of felt for blending. The water allows you to “paint” on the chalk, and you can use paint brushes for detailed work. I had neither, and it was very hard to get much detail on the rough concrete.

And finally, practice! I plan on filling our driveway with chalk art this summer in preparation for next year.

Wondering what kind of chalk to use?  Try these: Pro Art Chalk Pastel Set, 36 Color

To see all of the beautiful artwork created, check out the Dogwood Arts Festival album on Facebook!

 

Apryl–Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart.  She lives out in the country with her husband and aprylher three daughters. After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool.  When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were in the third and sixth grades.  Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.

Memoria Press Review by Megan: Timeline

I was very excited for the chance to review Memoria Press‘s (MP) timeline curriculum.  I have never used any MP products before, but I’d heard so many great things from my friends that I knew it would be good.

What I loved about this product was its simplicity. It’s not overly complicated; there are no frills, bells, or whistles. Our process included: learn about the key event, fill out the workbook, color in the illustration page, and paste the timeline card into our timeline book of centuries. This was simple enough to get done but involved enough to be interesting and memorable. My son loved doing the illustrations and narrations.

The beauty of its simplicity is found in tailoring this program to suit our needs.  In the handbook, each event is accompanied with an informational description. While my son and I didn’t cover all sixty events in the program, I did read the entire thing on my own. What a wealth of information! It was more detailed, informative, and sensible than much of my world history classes in high school.  And yet it can be a jumping-off point for even more reading and discovery. Take the Great Pyramids page, for instance. The description in the handbook is fairly brief. It is so easy to add other resources to this section. Movies, websites, and books can all be added if a child wants to know more (and believe me, they do!).

From the opposite side, it’s also very easy to supplement your regular history spine with this program.  All the events are clearly labelled and categorized, making it easy to use when you reach that spot in your studies. We aren’t studying much history at this point in time, but I can see that if we were to continue only using this program for the next few months, it would lay a solid foundation for more in-depth study later.

One more aspect that I loved it how it tied in various subjects in one place. While writing the key people and places, my son remembered from his grammar lessons that proper nouns should be capitalized. He had to erase a few mistakes and correct them, but he did this on his own. One time I did have to remind him that capital letters don’t go in the middle of words, but again he corrected it without complaint (unusual for him). I thought the picture above was cute. It’s the illustration that he did to go with Noah’s Ark. He drew the ark and the water but wanted to add the pilot whale so that it could spy hop, “something that only pilot whales do, Mom.” When I asked him about the fish out of water, he told me that some fish jump out of the water a lot. And he made the sky green because he’d heard that the sky looks green when there’s a tornado about to form (the tornado is the black shape in the middle of the page). I know it’s not very accurate, but I thought all his extra details were just so cute. I love how he is gathering all this information and processing it in every area of his life. This is the beauty of a classical education.

One thing to note, this program is written from a religious perspective. As a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I’ve tended to avoid any religious curricula. I’ve found it easier to use secular materials and add in my own beliefs. I’m happy to say that even though it was written from a religious perspective, the general descriptions from the handbook were easily adapted for our own beliefs. There wasn’t anything major, but my son and I did have some good discussions about our beliefs. We did some extra reading from the scriptures and I shared what my interpretations of it were (this was mostly in the Creation & Fall event).

My only complaints with this program is 1) that it is not a complete curriculum; it is a supplement and 2) that the workbook is not spiral bound. At $39.95, it’s a decently priced program if you use it for all four years. It is so informative and easy to use that I wish there were four separate curriculums, one for each year, with each one having more events. And the workbook not being spiral bound is just me wishing that all workbooks were spiral bound. I would love it if it were, but it’s not a deal breaker for something this great.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

megan

Megan–Megan is mom to three children: Pigby (boy, age 7), Digby (boy, age 4), and Chuck (girl, age 2).  She loves history, ballroom dance, and crocheting.  She made the decision to homeschool when her oldest was three and they’ve been on this journey ever since.

Memoria Press Review by Kristen: Timeline

Recently I was given the chance to review Memoria Press’ Timeline curriculum.  I had been eying this for awhile, so I was very excited to break out all the material and see what I had to work with.  I received the Wall Cards, the Flash Cards, and the Composition & Sketchbook.  First thing out of the box was the Wall Cards; I’ve wanted a timeline on the wall for years!  The Wall Cards are very sturdy, and the colors are crisp and easy to read.  The Flash Cards are identical in quality.  I particularly liked the Composition & Sketchbook, though, as it gathered together all of the history review I wanted to wrap up our study of major events in a way that was easy to reference.  The Composition & Sketchbook fit the bill.

  • Method:  We used this as a review with our history program, Story of the World 4.  After each major event I had my daughter (9), go back through the material and use it to fill out the Composition book entries for Key Participants, Key Locations, and Event Description.  After she finished, I gave her colored pencils and had her sketch anything she felt was particularly interesting about the event.
  • Pros:  The Composition & Sketchbook is great.  I have seen similar individual sheets on the internet, but having these bound together is crucial for kids that lose things easily, and the space for sketching was a very nice extra to have.  This isn’t going to be the spine of a program, but it is an excellent additional resource to have on-hand.  The Timeline cards themselves are very sturdy and easy to read and the flashcards were a big hit here.
  • Con:  The flashcards and workbook are very easy to forget to use if you have a week where you are just trying to get the basics done.  I would have liked to see more events from the Modern Era as there are only a handful and it makes the use of this book rather limited if you are focusing on that particular time period.  However, it includes events from all of time, so there are ample opportunities to use it later when you cover other periods.   I have absolutely no complaints about the wall cards, besides the above mentioned lack of modern dates, but they do cover the essentials (World Wars, Great Depression, etc).
  • Conclusion:  I loved the idea of this product and wish that I had been able to use it more consistently.  We are currently studying the Modern Era,  and I found that over the course of the review time I only had the opportunity to use it twice, due to the material we covered.  I anticipate making better use of this in coming months as we cycle back to Ancients and I have more material to work with.  With attention, this could be a wonderful addition to any history program and an excellent way for a child to remember the highlights of a time period and to keep those fresh in their mind.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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Kristen is a homeschooling mom of four, living deep in the heart of Texas. She loves history, running, and camping, and drinks more coffee than is prudent. Kristen blogs about her daily adventures trying to classically homeschool kids who would always rather be up a tree than writing anything, ever, at www.unsinkablekristen.blogspot.com

Memoria Press Review by Tamara: First Start Reading

I had the chance to review First Start Reading from Memoria Press, which sells for $42.95.  Although this program is designed for an older child, we used this with my 3 ½ year old daughter. She is able to sing her ABC’s, cut with scissors, and draw well with a pencil, so we decided she was ready for a gentle introduction to phonics.

This program is wonderful! It could easily be stretched over two years (pre-K-K or K-1).  It begins with simple phonemes like /m/ and /s/ and concludes with consonant blends and “magic e” words. By the time a student finished book D, she will be reading 4-5 sentence paragraphs.

The program features a large teacher’s guide, which gives simple scripts and questions to guide the student in his lesson. Four student books (A-D) accompany the TG. The lessons generally span two pages and are easily accomplished in 20-30 minutes or less. They usually include a new rule or phoneme, some handwriting practice, a few lines of reading, and a space for the student to draw. There was enough variety that Leah had no problems staying focused on the lesson until its completion. As the student progresses to the last two workbooks, fun stories are included. My kindergarten son read several of these later stories to me and declared them to be “very cool.” I was appreciative of the natural syntax in the stories, as some readers we have used feature very strange and stilted verbiage.

The teacher is encouraged to read aloud often to the child while completing the program.  Listening to Mom read was our reward for finishing each lesson. Other skills emphasized in the program are proper pencil grip, ear training, punctuation, and capitalization. This program would be an excellent stand-alone language arts curriculum for K-1st.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

by Tamara –  Tamara is a proud Kansas City native who was transplanted to Texas thirteen years ago. She has three boys and three girls, and is currently in her seventh year of homeschooling. Several of her children have struggled with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and other learning challenges. She tells them often that God must have something amazing for them in the future, as they are learning perseverance now.

Memoria Press Review by Cheryl: Timeline

Memoria Press’ Timeline program includes a Handbook outlining the program and containing summaries of each event. The summaries are used to help the students complete their Composition and Sketchbook. For each event the Composition and Sketchbook contains a blank page for students to illustrate the event and a notebooking page to record important information about the event. Student Flashcards are used to help students memorize dates, and Wall Cards are hung as a visual reminder of the order of events. The full package retails for $39.95.

I fell in love with the idea of memorizing a history timeline when I first began studying the classical method. Memorizing historical events in order as reference for later studies made sense to me. We tried a different timeline for two years, but I found it too cumbersome. We spent hours of our week trying to memorize the numerous events. About a third of the way through, we dropped it to make more time for our other studies. When I opened up the Memoria Press Timeline I was pleasantly surprised by the number of items to memorize, only half of what we had been trying to remember previously. It is doable without being the main focus of our school.

Each year builds on the previous year’s memory work. My oldest is in third grade. Third graders are only required to memorize eleven events. Fourth graders review the original eleven items and an additional twenty for a total of thirty-one events. Fifth graders memorize forty-two events and sixth grade students memorize all sixty events.

I used the curriculum with my third grader, and my kindergartener tagged along. We memorized two items each week. The handbook contains the answers that should be written on the student composition page. I used the handbook answers as a quick review of the event. Later in the week I had my kindergartener complete the sketch page (because she is my artist) and my eight year old the composition page (because he is my writer but does not enjoy drawing). I don’t have a place on the wall to use the wall cards right now, but the flash cards were great for a quick daily review.

My kids found the timeline activities fun and easy. I love the simplicity of the curriculum. It is an excellent supplement to any history program.

*Memoria press is a Christian company. The timeline begins with Creation. The five Biblical events could easily be skipped if you are looking for a secular timeline.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

cheryl

Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

Memoria Press Review by Emma: Timeline

I was recently given the opportunity to review the Memoria Press Timeline curriculum. We are history nuts, here and love almost everything Memoria Press, so I was really looking forward to working with the materials. I received Wall Cards, Flash Cards, Handbook and the Composition and Sketchbook.

The Wall Cards and Flash Cards are made of heavy card stock and have white words printed on a dark background, making them easy to read. The Composition and Sketchbook has just the right amount of space for summarizing what was learned. The Handbook contains a brief summary of each moment in history.

This program was a great way to review previous history learned, and to start to build a sense of when things happened during history. We went through one card every couple of days, just reading through the notations in the Handbook, then we’d find the corresponding cards and hang the Wall Card on our Timeline. After that, my son would fill out the pertaining section in the Composition and Sketchbook.

Pros: Easy to use, good quality materials, great selection of moments in history.

Cons: There were a lot of pieces to the program, and it was a bit hard to keep up with all of them. It’s one of those programs that are easy to forget to use during busy weeks. Images next to each event would make the Wall Cards more interesting.

Conclusion: We will continue to use the program as review, although I was only able to use the program twice during our studies due to the period in history we are covering. I intend to schedule this into our week and think it will be an interesting addition to our history studies.

Be sure to read what our other reviewers had to say about this and other Memoria Press products.

Disclaimer I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review on the Sandbox to Socrates blog. Opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of myself or my family and do not necessarily reflect those of the Sandbox to Socrates blog. I received no compensation for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review. This disclosure is in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

emma

Emma–Emma has been married for seven years, and is mom of two, plus one once-crazy dog. She’s been homeschooling for three years now in NC. In addition to being a wife, mom and educator, she is also a Graphic Designer.