Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cultural Geography Through Literature

Travel and Literature, quite simply these are two of my favourite things!

If I could be off traveling the world with my children right now I would be, wouldn't we all?!

Today we just opened one very exciting package that may just be the next best thing.

A special delivery from our new friend Crameye! He is going to be sharing his adventurous worldwide travels with us through his writing.

*I received he complete set of Series One from The Adventurous Mailbox, all opinion expressed from here on are purely my own and those my children.*

I have to say that I am most impressed with the attention to detail that The Adventurous Mailbox brings.

Even the shipping box, is sturdy, fully printed both inside and out and was addressed to include each of my three children personally.

Inside were three letters, one each for the kids and again personally addressed. Truly we haven't even looked at anything yet and I'm impressed already.

A little Crameye sticker is used to hold the letter closed. Inside, again addressed to the child, the letter goes on to explain just a little about the package they have received.

It also includes a card with their secret code to access Crameye's World, an online kids area where they can play games, win prizes and learn even more about the world around them.

The books come in yet another hard cover slip binder. This is such a huge plus for me, it means we can always keep the set together and can find them on our shelves quickly and easily.

Series One contains a set of 8 books, covering the countries of Finland, Taiwan, Brazil, Thailand, Greece, Tanzania, Peru and Peru Too. Currently there are plans in place to expand this range to 40 books.

Whilst we've looked through the package and so far genuinely like what we see we have decided to hold off making a start on reading about Crameye's adventures until next week.

I am going to use these as a read aloud so that all three of my children can experience this adventure at the same time.

But, sshhh, don't tell the kids! I couldn't help myself, I had to take a glimpse inside book one to see for myself what it was like.

Let's just say that I'm pretty confident that the kids are going to enjoy these immensely, they are absolutely written to the primary ages, but I also feel that lower high school kids will probably enjoy them also.

The writing style is really quite funny, frank, down to earth and clearly written by your average 12 year old boy (or there abouts because I don't actually know his age). Even though I only got a few pages in, I had already had a good giggle or two.

On top of the Adventurer Package of books and access to Crameye's World, you can also choose to add as an optional extra, access to The Teachers Lounge, where you can access lesson plans, printable resources and worksheets to use alongside the books.

I am really looking forward to getting started with these and the additional lessons from the teachers lounge.

I'll be back soon to share my kids reactions to the stories and lessons, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.

So, what are the costs involved I hear you ask?

Set One of Eight Books currently sells for $79 (USD)
Teachers Lounge Access is $20 (USD)

However The Adventurous Mailbox has offered a pretty neat deal for you to grab your own copy for your family.

The Adventurous Mailbox Homeschool Promotional Deal

Using the coupon code HSadventure at checkout, you will get the Teacher's Lounge for free (originally $20/must be in shopping cart for coupon to work) as well as $10 off the Adventurer Package Series One Books.

So, basically your family would receive the Adventurer Package (like the one I have just shown you) plus full access to the 100s of lessons in the Teacher's Lounge for just $69.00 (USD). The coupon code is valid until June 30th 2015.

I'll be back soon to share the details of our adventures with The Adventurous Mailbox.

Happy Homeschooling,

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Introducing Monsters Ed Academy

Today I'd like to introduce you to a home educating family from South Africa.

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"Hi, I'm Jo, and I am the voice behind the homeschooling blog Monsters Ed Homeschooling Academy.

I hail from Johannesburg, South Africa. I have been married to Steve for 4 years and am mom to Noo (11 years old, Grade 5), Koko (6 years old, Grade 1), Fifi (4,5 years old, Preschooler) and Pixie (2 years old, Totschooler).

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We are currently starting our 6th year of homeschooling 3 out of the 4 kidlets, Noo started attending main stream schooling in January 2013.

We use Clonard Distance Education's curriculum and have since we started homeschooling back in 2009. I love that I am in the position where I am able to homeschool my children and be there for every milestone, both at home and in the school environment.

We are traditional homeschoolers who are inspired by Waldorf and Montessori styled lessons. We often go to the the bush on holiday, either the Kruger National Park or to my mother's farm, FM Safaris.

Our last family holiday was at the Kruger National Parks and we saw 4 of Africa's big 5 in one day. It was amazing!"

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Oh wow imagine just a regular old family holiday where you are seeing all of those amazing creatures in one day!!! Jo's family truly are blessed to live in such a wonderful place.

Thanks Jo for taking the time to introduce your family to us.

Happy Homeschooling,

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Reading Response Activities - Play With Me

This term with our co-op group we decided to break our kids up into two smaller groups, which has been much more effective to be able to give them more targeted age appropriate activities.

So whilst the older group are off working on Creative Writing, the younger group have been working on Reading Response Activities, using picture books.

As I normally run the Creative Writing Group I haven't had the opportunity until this past week to have some picture book fun with the younger kids. I love Picture books, they are such valuable learning tools, even for kids that may feel they are beyond them.

Given that this was the seventh week for them doing these activities, the book I chose was much to young but as I already had everything prepped we went along for the ride anyway.

This particular activity is given a one hour time slot, so whilst you could absolutely extend the learning, what I am sharing today is everything we did in that hour.

Play With Me is the gentle story of a little girl trying desperately to interact with the animals she encounters at the pond. Only realising that after she is quiet will the animals actually come out to play.

Whilst I read aloud, everyone water coloured a pond, some of them chose to add in drawings of the animals from the story. We housed all of the related items to this book in a file folder, so they glued their ponds to the front of that.

Each week they have been working on quickly and easily being able to summarise the story of the day. On week one they were introduced to this simple Summarising Sheet. They were able to easily identify each part of the story based on what they have learned using this sheet every week.

You can find a copy of the Summarising Sheet over at Nicole's TPT store in her Reading Notebooks. She has a reading notebook for several grades in her store. I'm unsure if the sheet above is in each of them though, you may have to ask Nicole that question.

After our summarising discussion we moved on to a Story Puzzle, the children are free to draw or write on these, whatever they choose. Basically another simple round table chat about the elements of the story. It is really nice to see them interacting and having the opportunity to bounce off each other, often this is one area in home education that can possibly be lacking.

This particular reading response sheet is from this big Reading Response Sheets pack on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Each week, each adult (we take turns with running the various groups) chooses their picture book and the activities to go along with it, apart from the summarising which is done each and every week.

This reading response pack covers all of the basic elements of dissecting a story.

Finally, we played a quick game of Who Am I? Because I knew this would be very simple for them I placed the focus on giving one person at a time the opportunity to speak.

These kids have been working closely together for some time now and so with familiarity the more confident children generally are holding the floor and doing most of the talking and answering of questions.

So we played a little game of, 'who has the ball'. Whoever I threw the ball to was the only person allowed to speak, therefore they had their chance to answer in any way they chose. They really liked this little game!

You can download a full pdf of prinable activities to go along with Play With Me  over at Homeschool Share.

The past seven weeks has been a nice gentle way to ensure each of the children understood many of the reading response concepts and a good refresh for others that had already been exposed to these terms.

Next term they are branching into a Literature study based on an abridged classic (not sure which one yet) and I know that this term has been a good introduction to that.

Happy Homeschool,

Are you looking for other book unit ideas? Check out my Pinterest Board.

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