A Unit Study Inspired by “Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona”

We love well written historical fiction.  Last quarter, Raya read,”Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona, Young Slave of Mytilini, Captured and Sold as a Slave in Rome – AD 107” by Richard Platt. It was amazingly illustrated by David Parkins.

Iliona, the tween girl, was captured by pirates, orphaned, sold as a slave and separated from her brother.  Her day to day life and adventures are told in a fashion that takes back the reader 1900 years ago.

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To put things into perspective, we had to look at maps, research online and check our reference books.

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The Roman army was also full of Mathematical terms. Legion, centuries, cohorts all make up their army for defense.  Raya also learned the different percentages of the social classes of the people: slaves, freedmen, citizens and senators. So, I created some Math problems involving these.

Try to find parts of the story where you can introduce or extend Math lessons.
Try to find parts of the story where you can introduce or extend Math lessons.

 

To summarize how life was like for a slave girl, confined to her “master’s home”, Raya decided to create a “Roman Villa’.  As she worked on it using cardboard, cutter, brushes and acrylic paint, I continue talking about the Roman way of life (It was a lecture in disguise, actually.)

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She insisted on putting the tiles on piece at a time.
She insisted on putting the tiles one piece at a time.

 

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Oh no, the pool has a fish! Raya used her crafting skills to create this water-like finish:) 

 

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Top view

 

Raya loves to paint and create details,  I give her scrap material which she can use like this burlap packaging used for a gift we received.   She even put red beads inside one sack saying these were apples.  Most homes had their down domestic animals and vegetable garden.

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Front, Roman Villa

 

Back of villa with the domestic animals and vegetable garden
Back of villa with the domestic animals and vegetable garden

 

Without planning to be, this turned out to be a Unit Study.  Check this out why Unit Studies are good Benefits of Unit Studies from www.homeschool-your-boys.com!

I was so blessed with Raya’s determination and patience in putting this together. ( She loved making it so much that she ended up doing it during her free time.) Like mentioned in a previous article about Fun in HomesCooling,  a child learns more  when she is having fun. If she likes what she is doing, the more likely she will do an excellent job. This project was a testament to that!

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

How to Spot a HomesCooler !

HomesCoolers will definitely stand out  because we are alternative educators.  Despite being around our country for more than several decades,  HomesCooling is still a radical approach to educating children. After 13 years of HomesCooling,  let me share with you how to spot a HomesCooler and yes please appreciate them. They are treading through a very bold and daunting journey.

H – oarder!   Whether it be educational materials,  support groups,  activities for our students, teaching tips and advise from those who have gone ahead of us,  we love to Hoard! And sometimes, to a great fault. There is GIANT insecurity of not having what a traditional school can offer so we try to compensate, overcompensate. So you’ll always see us in bookstores (dropping by even if we don’t need anything), books fairs, “Book Sale” branches, searching online, etc. Of course, we  are limited by our financial budgets,  However, we sometimes try to rationalize purchasing “one more” thing by saying, we don’t a have huge tuition fee anyway. However the “Hoarder” in us will eventually calm down at some point.

O – verwhelmed.   This can happen several times a day which we can overcome as we go about our day.  However,  boulders of “Overwhelmed Feelings” can really railroad us for longer periods of time. Imagine taking care of all subjects while taking care of the home?  Imagine taking care ofALL subjects of MULTIPLE children and taking care of the home?  First time homeschoolers may be  more prone to this as they learn how to adjust and mix home life with education.  However, as time goes by and as more and more products of ones homesCooling surface, there is a switch from a negative kind of “Overwhelmed” to the positive kinds; “Overwhelmed with excitement, overwhelmed with joy, overwhelmed with ideas.” Beware she might just end up convincing you to HomesCool.

M– rs. Doubtfire.   This term came from a movie by Robin Williams.  Beginner HomesCoolers are also prone to a barrage of doubts.  “What am I doing?”, “”Can I really do this?”, “Will my children learn? ” , and “Am I destroying our children’s future” can actually set one into an avalanche of self-doubt. Doubts can either cripple us or make us humble and seek help. I have learned to commit our HomesCooling to the Lord and seek Him first.  I try to be quick to learn from others and to be willing to seek and avail of help.  Doubts can draw you to commit your family and your journey to God.

E -ager to Encourage.  I am a witness to this amazing transformation among HomesCoolers in this area.  A doubting teacher, through time and experience, begins to  willingly come alongside  and support others. HomesCoolers who meet other HomesCoolers is the one of the most wonderful fellowships ever as encouragement instantly overflows.

S -upport seeker. The Homeschoolers in the Philippines Facebook page, I set up a year ago, is the best proof of this. HomesCoolers are always in need of help in various forms. We are nearing the 3200 mark in membership!

C- haos Expert. This especially applies to those who have many students to teach. The more closely spaced the children are, the more chaos, and the more one becomes an expert to remain calm amidst so many things happening. I remember breastfeeding while teaching two preschooler and depending on my feet to reach stuff!  Calmness, one trait my close friends believe I possess, is borne out of years of homeschooling four children (and being the youngest of nine children, I guess).

O – bedient to the Calling.  HomesCooling is a calling. It all begins with that.  As new homesCoolers start their adventure, a lot of skepticism, criticism and opposition will come in many forms and various directions. However, if the calling is secure,  obedient HomesCoolers will definitely weather through, thrive, survive and flourish.

–  ccasionally Obsessed ( forgive us!).  Sometimes you may meet someone who is just  so into HomesCooling, and it just shows in every area of their lives. Well, HomesCooling is a lifestyle so that’s expected. So be gracious to those who can’t stop talking about it. Eventually, things will settle down at some point. Sometimes, it helps HomesCoolers to talk about it to destress.

L – lifelong Learner.  One of the best things about being a parent-teacher is “learning or relearning” alongside your children. I have become a passionate History (World and Philippine) reader, a multiple subject (including ART !) piano, baking, cooking, basic carpentry, Filipino games, volleyball teacher (and many other skills!) as a result of our HomeCooling. My love for reading has been re-ignited. I believe I have a become “better person” through the many lessons  I have had to learn and teach. HomesCoolers are definitely eager learners. It’s the only way we can infect our children with the passion to learn!

So there, HOMESCOOL tips on how to spot US.

 Deuteronomy 6:6-8  “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

Father’s Day Project

I wish a father could write this. Maybe one day I can invite my husband of 20 years and father for 16 years, Gilbert,  to write about how to make dads feel special on Father’s Day. Oh, we’ve all heard it again and again how men and women are wired differently, and so what may delight one, may not, the other.

But I guess we have shared “delights” and let me try to give you ideas :

  • Breakfast in bed is a good way to make a strong impact. This works for the usual, “earlier” riser wife. Make his favorite breakfast, set in a large tray or those “dine in bed” mini-table in a hotel room service fashion with some flowers. Involve the kids in preparation and bring it in with your kid/kids. If you need to wake up the kids, wake them for this! Daddies truly deserve the simple sacrifice!
  • Hand made cards with special messages. I’ve noticed that some teens, like my eldest, prefer digital cards or messages. He puts something together and say, “Check your email , Mom.” I guess what we can do is to give them reminders so they could prepare ahead. The younger ones still love to make cards and their personal messages are sweet.
  • If your husband likes massages, book his favorite therapist in advance. Add a foot spa or something!
  • As for store bought gifts. I have failed many times. After 20 years, I have yet to figure this out. But one thing I am learning is the process of getting to know each other is truly going to last a lifetime. If your husband is not one who will openly declare what he wants, one good tip, Gilbert has shared with me is to listen, and to listen well. Pay close attention and yes, ask relevant questions. Somewhere, somehow, you will be able to deduce a not necessarily expensive “tangible” item that will bring a smile from ear to ear. My advice, don’t give up. After 20 long years, I think I was able to give him my best tangible gift that he liked so much last April!

However, you can let your kids decide what to give Papa.  Don’t worry about whether he will like it        or not. It’s the child’s choice.  After all, it is not Happy Husband’s Day. Draw ideas from the kids and they can even use their own money/savings. It can even be a pooled gift from all the kids.

  • Let me share with you a  Father’s Day (or birthday ) project. We’ve done this twice. It can take a few days and so that’s why I am giving you lead time to do it.  We had a blast putting it together and it’s such a special time to look back at it from time to time.

One day,  I saw this children’s story book about fathers in the sale rack of a bookstore. It was beautifully written and illustrated. So warm and sweet. It focused on one very simple, common occurrence between fathers, and the children: being on Daddy’s shoulders.  The physical act was then carried on metaphorically through every page.

Up on Daddy's Shoulders by Matt Berry, illustrated by Lucy Corvino and Hans Wilhelm; Publisher: Scholastic Books
Up on Daddy’s Shoulders by Matt Berry, illustrated by Lucy Corvino and Hans Wilhelm; Publisher: Scholastic Books

 

Then a “light bulb moment” occurred, and there was no turning back. I thought to myself, what if I replace the faces of the photos in this book with the members of our family and have it colored Xeroxed and create a special, personalized book for Papa Gilbert. Oh I hope the author/illustrator won’t mind that I  used their material as a the backdrop of our gift.

Let me show you.

a.  Find that a good children’s story about Dads. Look for one that has good sized faces so it can be easily replaced. Sorry, I can’t teach you how to do this digitally but I am sure there is a way.  The book above was perfect but I am sure, there are other titles.

b.  Look at the orientation of the faces of the members of the family in this book  and try to look for hard copy photos (print if you need to) of each family member that can be pasted over the different faces of this book. Here are some examples of the pages of Gilbert’s book:

The challenge was who among the 4 gets to be on the page. Looking back, i should have placed a photo of all 4 kids with their Papa Gilbert.
The challenge was who among the 4 gets to be on the page. Looking back, I should have placed a photo of all 4 kids with their Papa Gilbert. But then I wanted a photo of a child on his shoulders for a full tie up with the title. Unfortunately though an Ironman Finisher, Gilbert can’t carry all four them on his shoulders!

 

Isn't this photo perfect for my basketball loving boys?
Isn’t this photo perfect for my basketball loving boys? See Marco with Bruno, the beagle.

 

Even Daddy Dony was an extra in this page. Isn't Raya so cool here?
Even Daddy Dony was an extra in this page. Isn’t Raya so cool here?

 

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You can embellishments ) in scrapbook lingo that means stickers, chipboard, dodles, etc) to perk the page up.
You can  add embellishments ( in scrapbook lingo that means stickers, chipboard, dodles, etc) to perk the page up. Do you like Gino’s hair?

 

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I super loved this page!

 

"Up on Daddy's shoulders, I can soar the hills and clouds."
“Up on Daddy’s shoulders, I can soar above the hills and the clouds.”

 

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Spot Mama Donna and Raya!

 

Mama Donna, Gino and his twin. wait!!!  We don't have twins. i think this was a favorite page!
Mama Donna, Gino and his twin, but wait!!! We don’t have twins. I think this was a favorite page!

 

So as you cut out faces and lay them out, add details. You can put some additional messages. Then  you can actually present this as the original copy and I am sure it would be truly special. However, since having 2 copies would be amazing. I decided to add a bit more effect and have the original pages color xeroxed in card stock paper.  I used card stock for longevity. Then we cut it to the desired size, and had it ring bound.  There are many ways other ways to bind the cards.

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Ok, you’ve got less than 4 weeks till Father’s Day 2015 here in the Philippines! Hope you find a special way to honor the fathers in your families.

Psalm 127:4-5 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Old Scrolls with a Secret Message: How HomesCool is that?

Oh my,  we  have  probably made so many  “old” scrolls and treasure maps as HomesCoolers! They’re just instant WINNERS for young children. Of course, you’ve got to create a setting to stir some excitement regarding the reasons behind such projects.  You can  easily find stories to set the stage for this or watch movies like maybe Indiana Jones ( the children friendly edition) or read material that include maps to treasure or scrolls with secret message. I particularly love stories from the Bible.

For our HomesCool, we had just finished a unit of how the Christian Bible was put together.  Of course, we had to discuss a lot of things first like how people began to write, or draw, what they used to create the figures or “letters”  and on what medium ( papyrus, clay, stone) to write on. For many years now, we’ve been using the Mystery of History for our World History and we are now in the 1600s!  (Imagine we began around 7000-10,000 BC??) and it chronicles the evolution of writing and many written works, one of which is the BIble.  For our 1500-1600s lessons, we learned of great men who fought to allow the “common man” to read and own a Bible: Martin Luther, John Wycliffe and William Tyndale.

Central material in our homeschooling. Using this for 10 years now and we are at Volume 3. snails pace but it works for us!
Central material in our homeschooling. Using this for 10 years now and we are at Volume 3. snails pace but it works for us!

 

To “vicariously” try to experience how it was to write messages prior to the the invention of mechanical movable  printing in the 1430s, I asked the children to make “hidden messages”.  Oh the passing of the Word of God during the 1500s  was exciting and dangerous.  It was possible that some had to write them and pass them around in secret. This made the kids excited and so working on this was really a breeze and fun!

But first, we had to create the “medium on which to write’! The Scroll!  So what makes a scroll look  real?  It has to be have the signs of “age” like discoloration, torn areas, and a rough, crumpled texture. So here is how to do it.

1) Choose a card stock paper or board paper in white/ beige range of colors. 12 x12 size or bigger is ideal since you may need to cut off the edges later for some dramatic effect.

2) Oh let the kids have fun : crumple and trample the paper. Pound it but don’t destroy it.

The crumpled, trampled sheets of 12x12 scrapbooking paper ( you can substitute with hard cartolina
The crumpled, trampled sheets of 12×12 scrapbooking paper ( you can substitute with hard carolina

 

3) Prepare some brown based hot tea. (Be careful with the kids around). I haven’t tried green tea on this so  I am not sure if this will create a similar effect. Let it cool.  Get an adequately sized tray or basin, where you can soak the crumpled paper for maybe 5 minutes.

Be careful with hot water when around children.
Be careful with hot water when around children.

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Don't oversoak since this may destroy your paper.
Don’t oversoak since this may destroy your paper.

 

4) Dry them under the sun. Make sure you put some paper weight on them on a windy day .

The wating begins. I love projects like this because it teaches patience!
The wating begins. I love projects like this because it teaches patience!
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Oh no, it rippled! But then we said, “But that makes it more real.” Could you imagine what the authentic scrolls had to weather through and how archaeologists have to be trained on carefully handling scrolls? Don’t you just love HomesCooling this way, when an “error” can be turned into a teaching opportunity?

Do they look authentic enough?

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And  for the exciting part! (  Looking back, we should have burned it first before the written message.)

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Safely, burn the edges with a tea light candle. Thinking again, I should have done this outdoors to be extremely safe.
Safely, burn the edges with a tea light candle. Thinking again, I should have done this outdoors to be extremely safe.

 

We got some “chalk” and started smudging to make it look more “dated” ! How fun is that!

We tied this activity with what we were studying in Christian Living/Bible subject, the  importance of God’s Word in a Christian’s life so the children memorized  the  Psalm 119:105  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”   So  for a while, at that moment, I felt a deep, overwhelming gratitude ( and I am hoping my children felt that too) for the heroes who have gone before us to make sure that the Word is passed on.

So now we came to that point of what to write in our “old scroll”?

Will they draw symbols, will they put a treasure map?  As they were thinking, I tried to give them ideas ( hoping not to quash their ideas but trying to steer them to tie the whole UNIT of study together). I just said, “Imagine yourself as a child in your current age, a  thousand years ago . What message would you like to give to another child your age?  ”

That got them thinking.  Then I said, since it was a period of dangerous times, you need to send your message in a secret code! Then you hear the most coveted HomesCool response of “Ooooohhh, Ahhhh”!

So off they went on making symbols for each letter of the English alphabet. Oh my, I was floored seeing how detailed and patient they were in creating their “code”. While doing this, I tried to save them by suggesting, you can also draw like the Egyptians (thinking how tiring this must have been for my younger 9 year old) ! But they were having fun! Who gets tired anyway when you are having fun, right?

Raya tested it first. She is into calligraphy now but opted to use sign pens first., fearing that she may destroy the scroll with ink and a calligraphy nib.
Raya tested it first. She is into calligraphy now but opted to use sign pens first,  fearing that she may destroy the scroll with ink and a calligraphy nib.

 

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Raya added drama using her knitting needles!
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Gino fretted a bit because of the spaces and misalignment of his “sentence” .  So teacher Mama said. ” Back in those days, it’s possible they had different rules ( and mentioned how the other cultures like the Japanese read their text in a different direction) and what you may think isn’t right now, may be really ok back then.” I had to stop myself from going further….. “Beauty is in the eye of the……..” Sometimes I get carried away, you know?

 

Now, here is the secret code :

Raya's secret code and scroll
Raya’s secret code and scroll
Gino's  secret code and scroll
Gino’s secret code and scroll

Now,  can you decode their messages?  Let us know if you got it!  I have to really give it to Gino and Raya for their amazing determination and patience in completing this unforgettable scroll!  Clap, Clap, Clap! Take a bow, kids!

Psalm 119:105  Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

2 Timothy 3 :16 All Scripture is God breathed. It is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness.

For Mystery of History books, you may purchase them locally from Homeschooling Solutions, Inc. 

Extraordinary Book Reports: For the Win!

After more than a decade of homeschooling, one of most prized treasures we’ve found as a family is the wonderful world of literature, children’s literature in particular.  Oh my,  if only I can take a year long break and hide in an island, and devour all these amazing classics and new titles coming fresh from the publishing house!

Though I was a bookworm prior to homeschooling, I was a “textbookworm”.  I had no choice I guess. I was a nerd who eventually completed a medical degree. In the earlier years when our homes always had a designated library (Oh, God bless my Mom for sourcing those books, books and more books from garage sales), I gravitated to Science books.  It was there that my love for the Human Body/ Medicine was born.  In the early 80s,  I remember that 4-5 volume series where several pages were dedicated to an illness (definition, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and therapy).

A favorite set of books in elementary
A favorite set of books in elementary

I am so thankful that homeschooling opened the doors again for reading and this time, we are discovering so many well written and truly nurturing stories (both nonfiction and fiction) .   With 4 homeschooled children at one point, I was happily forced to read all their assigned or chosen “books” per quarter so I could properly help them understand and process the material.

Sad to say, I don’t have very fond memories of “book reports.” For one reason or another, back in high school, it really felt more like a required chore. I remember getting tips like buying the “abridged” versions of the assigned material just to “get it done and over with.” I do, however,  remember enjoying Little Prince, The Pearl and  The Catcher in the Rye but how I wish I read more during free time and summer!

But all is not lost!  Thank God for the wonders of our “brains”!  We can still catch up  whatever we may have failed to “enjoy” mentally earlier.  Maybe that’s why I may be “virtually living my reading childhood” with my homeschooled students and have found ways for them to truly devour and enjoy their books!

In my process of learning how to inspire reading, I’ve found a vast amount of resources and ideas! And I would like to share with you some of my children’s books reports (level 1-4)

 

This is Marco's Fact Book on planting rice, the main subject of this amazing book on hard work and perseverance; Li Lun by
This is Marco’s Fact Book on planting rice, the main subject of this amazing book on hard work, courage  and perseverance; Li Lun , Lad of Courage. For a rice dependent country like ours, I just knew we had to read this.

 

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At level 1, Raya created this “school house” type of book report from a box of Papa’s bike part! Her book was a Sonlight recommended title, The Year of Miss Agnes.

 

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You can add details like “Vocabulary, Lessons Learned, Characters and the like” around the project.

 

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You can definitely expand the lessons as the reading material unfolds. Here Raya learns about the story’s setting, Alaska and the way of life of people there. Inspired by parts of the story where they created clothing from animal skin/fur, I taught Raya to make a yarn “pompom” (the one she sees hanging in bonnets worn in winter cold weather).

 

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Raya turns the inside of the box into a classroom based on how it was described in the story. Maybe this is where Raya learned how to pay attention to details.

 

Another amazing Sonlight recommended chapter book, Grain of Rice.   We had a whole unit on rice (we just had to for obvious reasons) and eventually also cooked rice and ate it!
Another amazing Sonlight recommended chapter book, Grain of Rice. We had a whole unit on rice (we just had to for obvious reasons) and eventually also cooked rice and ate it!  You can expand the lessons as the story proceeds. For this one, we had a lot to deal with for Math: Measurement, Multiplication and even Compound Interest.

 

Mouse and Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. a character description by grade 1 Gino.
Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary. a character description by grade 1 Gino.

 

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For the book, Family Under the Bridge, Raya (at level 2) did a character study focusing on the changes in  the main character,  Armand Pouly.

 

Al Capone Shines My Shoes
Marco read  “Al Capone Does My Shirts ” and did a report by creating a “lap book” with the detailed map of Alcatraz Island and important facts. He eventually read book 2 and 3 during his free time.  Photo credited to  Starwoodquilter.blogspot.com. I will create a separate blog post on encouraging a reluctant reader.

 

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I encouraged this book because we had plans to visit Alcatraz after that quarter. Quite amazing experience to be able to tie everything with this visit. Would you believe Mama teacher only chanced upon the book while browsing in Fully Booked, read a few pages and thought it may interest Marco.

 

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Imagine having read an entire series based on this place and then actually being able visit it soon after? What a blessing indeed!

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Historical fiction books are cool because it allows the child to understand a whole lot about the past in a very interesting and exciting manner.

 

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Raya decided to recreate a Roman Villa set in the 200 A.D. While working on this, she had a chance to learn about the way of life of the Romans, particularly a slave girl named Iliona.

 

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For this book, The Wheel and the School, Raya created a wheel to illustrate the parts of the story and other fun facts.

 

You can also use Filipino Chapter books !
You can also use Filipino Chapter books !  You may check Adarna House  or author’s XiZug’s site for more titles.  Instead of having to make an essay, I asked Raya to orally discuss the story and why students should vote for Andro (in Tagalog). This also allows her to practice conversing and I can correct her pronunciation  and accentuation.

 

Or use Filipino/Social Studies material from Adarna House
Or use Filipino/Social Studies material from Adarna House

 

The category where this post belongs to is Books & Beyond because the experience becomes truly endless when you have read a  truly good book. Creative book reports help young children as they to learn from and live through  a well written story.  Let me leave with one of Raya’s Art work about reading. Happy book reporting!

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Pretty Things in Raya’s Room

Mama Donna here. I asked Raya’s permission to enter her “room” .  Most often, as I drop by her room, I catch her creating something,  or I just see the finished product on display, or I find her “inspiring” her heart and mind with books, magazines or DIY/craft websites.

Created and hung 5 or so years ago.  It represents God's angel guarding her room.
Created and hung 5 or so years ago. It represents God’s angel guarding her room.

 

Are you ready to see pretty things?
Are you ready to see pretty things? (Raya was only five y.o)

 

Raya's Bulletin Board beside her door using cork board and chalkboard paint
Raya’s Bulletin Board beside her door using cork board and chalkboard paint

 

She did say that her room can get messy.  I say it’s a pretty kind of messy that feels like a breath of fresh air.   So let me show you several products of her room, the factory of pretty things.

Let me start with what she does  with canvas boards (available in any bookstore):

All girls love Instax!
All girls love Instax! Acrylic on canvas

 

Little girl peaking from a hot air ballon ( Gino at two y.o. called this Hot Bear Alloon!)
Little girl peaking from a hot air ballon ( Gino at two y.o. called this Hot Bear Alloon!), Acrylic

 

Inspired by a painting technique in one HomesCool Art lesson, Raya worked right away !
Inspired by a painting technique in one HomesCool Art lesson, Raya worked right away ! Acrylic

 

Raya read the book, "Shiloh" for her HomesCool Reading/Language Arts. It was a story of a boy and a beagle. We then had some lessons on how to draw a beagle and then she did this on her own.
Raya read the book, “Shiloh” for her HomesCool Reading/Language Arts. It was a story of a boy and a beagle. We then had some lessons on how to draw a beagle and then she did this on her own. Acrylic

 

This is no longer in her room. It was sold for a little boy's room in an art exhibit by L'arc En Ciel.
This is no longer in her room. It was sold for a little boy’s room in an art exhibit by L’arc En Ciel. Acrylic

 

This is the newest addition to her wall.
This is the newest addition to her wall. Paper cut outs pasted on canvas.

The one above came from a  room decor tutorial video from youtube.

A rose for Lola Emma's 80th is now in Lola's room
A rose for Lola Emma’s 80th is now in Lola’s room.

 

Mini Canvas with easel and paint pot
Can you spot the cap of a glue stick? Mini Canvas with easel and paint pot

 

Her doll's easel
Her doll’s easel

 

Spash lots of craft paint and add wooden letters
Splash lots of craft paint and add wooden letters.

Then there is also lot of sewing going on here:

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Doll clothes (except the pants)

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Pillow cases

 

Instax Case
The prettiest Instax case!

 

DIY stuff toys
DIY stuff toys

 

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UP, UP, UP and AWAY! When Gino was two y.o., he called this Hot Bear Alloon!

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Jumpers of a favorite friend
Jumper of a favorite friend

 

A DIY Rabbit names Puddles
A DIY Rabbit named Puddles

 

An apron for Tita Chel for Christmas
An apron for Tita Chel for Christmas

 

A gift for Papa
A gift for  Papa

 

More doll clothes, doll stuff
More doll clothes, doll stuff

 

And here are some of her sketches:

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Sometimes she just wants to make something out of everyday stuff:

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Doll accessories from small boxes, old DVD case, and lots of cardboard

 

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Raya loves watermelons as decors. Inspired from a craft website, using rocks and acrylic paint
Raya loves watermelons as decors. Inspired from a craft website, using rocks and acrylic paint

 

As I look around Raya’ room, I see God’s blessing on her hands and her character. My prayer is that she will remain faithful  to Him and productive for His glory!

Proverbs 31:  13, 17-19 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.She sees that her trading is profitable,and her lamp does not go out at night.In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

 

Be a Blessing!

Last year,  I was invited to speak in a homeschooling conference on the topic of “Conquering Homeschool Fatigue.”  As I was about to wrap up my preparation, God was quick to remind me of something very valuable .  I was reminded of this verse in Proverbs  11:15 , ” He who refreshes others will themselves be refreshed.”

It may seem quite ironic but truly the Word is true in this promise. Homeschooling will be tiring and draining if the direction is always inward. If all you’re in for is how to raise wonderful, smart and happy children, it is going to get tiring at some point.

As Christ’s followers, we desire to be part of the circle blessing not merely as recipients but also as givers. So we find opportunities in our homeschooling to bless others.  As early as toddlers and preschoolers, we can teach  the virtues of humility, compassion and  generosity. We can encourage ways  on how they can bring comfort and joy to others no matter how young our students are.

And as they say, “Charity begins at home.”  We then seek to extend the blessing to the one nearest: a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, a neighbor, a person in the hospital, a helper?  Who do you think needs encouragement ? Who do you think can you bless?

Blessings come in various forms such a commitment to pray  for a sick friend,  writing a get well soon card for someone in the hospital,   visiting a grandparent, or even just giving some cookies to a new neighbor.

We can incorporate this in our daily/weekly schedules. If you pray together as you begin homeschooling, then  have a short time discussing those who may need your prayers as a family. Write it down, if you have a  homeschooling prayer list.  Is anyone’s birthday coming up? Pray for that person.

As part of Language/ Creative Writing, you may challenge your students to write to their grandparents or some cousin who lives abroad.  For a coming birthday of someone you’d like to bless,  allot some time for Art to create cards.

In summary, here are some simple and doable examples :

1.  Card making  –  Make it your ART activity for the day  to make their own cards .

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Card Making – One of our favorite Art activities

 

Tita Chel so happy with Marco's DIY birthday card.
Tita Chel so happy with Marco’s DIY birthday card.

 

Card with buttons and cloth
Card with buttons and cloth

 

"Thank you, Raya!"
“Thank you, Raya!”

 

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For Lola LIssa and Lola Emma

 

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“Turn Art to bless a HEART.”

 

 

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Jesus is Born by Gino
Jesus is Born by Gino.

 

2. Making Gifts

If you have budding artists, you can encourage DIY gifts for Grandparents, Dads, or other loved ones. Raya loves to sew and paint:)  So for many years now, she has been giving hand made stuff and it has been really wonderful seeing the smiles as they unwrap their gifts. Gilbert and I have been recipients as well of this, from aprons to cross-stitched frames, to flower arrangements:)

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My homeschooled niece Kaila has an amazing gift of paper folding (origami). She created a frame for Lola Emma using this amazing talent!

 

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Raya’s secret Christmas gift to her parents.

 

3. Flower Arrangement –  Just google youtube videos on flower arranging for whatever flower you would like to do.

My parents are both in their 80s.  It has been  a difficult time health wise  and we have found ourselves in and out of the hospital for the past 2 or so years. Dad doesn’t engage much and prefers to sleep and lie down most of the time.  This is heartbreaking for Mom, his wife of 59 years!  So we all try to do our part to “cushion” the blow and yes, homeschooling is a great avenue to include your children in this endeavor.  For all their 59 years, we have witnessed, rain or shine, in good times and bad times, a bouquet of flowers from Dad  for Mom’s birthday, their wedding anniversary and Valentines. 🙂  For their 58th Wedding Anniversary and Valentine’s Day ( 7 weeks apart),  our homesCool decided to help Dad continue on with this lifetime promise — and included flower arranging in our Art/HELE activity. Oh it was pure joy. We sourced the flowers from Dangwa/ Alabang Market to save on cost.  Imagine for Mom’s 80th birthday, the entire clan attempted to give her 1000 roses  (some where in other forms like origami, paintings, printed on a dress or bag.)

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Even the boys helped cut flowers and arrange in vases

 

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Raya learned how to make a bouquet for Lola Emma and Lolo Dony’s 58th Wedding Anniversary.

 

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“We have to help Lolo fulfill his promise to Lola!”

 

4. Going the extra mile for others

For her 80th birthday, Language Arts session was turned into Poetry Making for Lola Emma. They read the poem during her birthdday celebration.

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Take a break from HomesCool and visit an elderly relative.  Here, I think, we also interviewed Owa about the Japanese War and how her family was spared from the rough times up north in Ilocos. We miss Owa, a constant source of stories who passed away last year.

The only Great Grandmother, Owa, my children had a chance to know and bond with. Miss you, Owa.
The only Great Grandmother, Owa, my children had a chance to know and bond with. Miss you, Owa.

 

5. Responding to people in need –

There will always be people in need around us.  And we can always find ways to help.    The Bible in Ephesians 2;10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  During the typhoon  Ondoy in 2009 when many areas in NCR and Central Luzon were flooded, we could not homeschool in a business-as-usual fashion.  We knew of  many evacuation centers near our home with Filipinos who will surely be blessed with warm, home cooked meals.  

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What started as a one family and one kitchen effort became a community movement as more homes sent food and volunteers for repacking of warm meals wrapped in banana leaves.

 

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The kids took their spots in the assembly line of making “binalot” with adobo and boiled egg with rice. On other days, it was lumpiang shanghai.

 

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We just thought that maybe after days of probably “instant noodles”, we could “refresh” others with this warm, home cooked meal wrapped in banana leaves.

 

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Kids packed, counted and labelled.

 

The "Binalot Movement" was so contagious, cousins and neighbors quickly came to help feed hundreds in evacuation centers.
The “Binalot Movement” was so contagious, cousins and neighbors quickly came to help feed hundreds in evacuation centers.

 

Typhoons will continue to come  so we try to do our part whenever we can .

Relief Goods
Relief Goods

 

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Rallied kids and other children to make cards for the children of Ormoc for Christmas after Yolanda struck in 2013.

 

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Inspirational books for the children of Ormoc. Kids helped wrap as well

 

God wants His children to love, bless and encourage one another. HomesCooling can provide many ways to teach this very fundamental foundational truth in life . So as  you teach, there are days when there will be a tug in your heart to do something for someone or for a family. Include your children in the process as you respond to this tug in your heart.   A time will come, you will be surprised when God will move your children’s hearts to bless someone.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Luke 6: 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Top 12 Favorite Projects, So Far!

Project week or weeks is our kids’ favorite time of our HomesCooling quarter.  Most of the time,  as we are completing the theoretical lessons (via discussions, reading, watching or videos), some projects are already  being conceived in our kids’ excited minds! Why do projects?  Having witnessed and experienced 13 years of HomesCooling, I’ve come to that relieving conclusion that our children learn most experientially. As mentioned in an earlier post, fun is crucial in unlocking the learning door.  In addition, when the child is able to teach the lesson back, demonstrate it or find ways to apply in real life settings, then we know learning had indeed taken place.

There are projects which may take the whole quarter to finish but there are those that can be done in one to two weeks.   Younger children will prefer those that can be done in a faster amount of time since they are in that stage that may have lesser patience and greater need for gratification in a lesser amount of time.  There are however projects that can be done in stages and even take a year to finish.

As a multilevel HomesCooling family, I’ve also seen solo and group projects. I don’t think I need to explain why group projects are more fun and enjoyable. There was a time however when I only had one student in eldest, Vince. I guess you could say it wasn’t totally done on his own because I was his partner and so it was still fun in that way. Oh I still remember those days with Vince when our small plastic animals, sea or land, would find its way to all sorts of media:  real sand, play sand, water, colored water, gelatin! Those photos have to be scanned since we weren’t using a digital camera then ( oh dear, a vintage HomesCooling moment there!)

What I love about group projects among siblings are the following:

1) The amazing bonding ( Can you imagine the fun? Can you imagine siblings  teaching each other, trying to resolve conflicts ? )

2) The priceless value of helping one another

3)  How learning is reinforced in all levels. As the project is being done, I maximize the time by reviewing the lessons and each child is able to hear each other’s lessons (it’s a lecture in disguise!)

4) Learning patience, cooperation, humility, leadership, being a follower, etc

5) Having “tangible” memories , a product that can serve as memorial stones of the learning and the experience

6) Project materials can focus on recyclable and inexpensive materials

7) Less load on the teacher  ( Hope the kids don’t get to read this part.)

As I tried to unearth HomesCool photos and interviewed the children, here are some of the BEST projects so far. “So far” because   some are still  hidden in photos in some  unreachable folder or in unscanned photos. I plan to make a separate post for each project in detail, with more photos. So here goes:

1.  Gino’s Sari-Sari Store

Gino's fundraiser project for a LEGO Toy:)  Siblings Marco and Raya came to give their full support
Gino’s fundraiser project for a LEGO Toy:) Siblings Marco and Raya came to give their full support

 

2. Gino and Raya’s Giant Car

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Can you see the details on the dashboard?

 

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Did you know that this had 2 license plates? One for Raya, One for Gino!

 

3. The Edible Cell ( Inspired by HomeCooled Josh Buizon and teacher Felichi Buizon)

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Can you name the parts of the cell?

 

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4. The Giant Art Attack in our Hallway ( years long project  with the help of  Painting Teacher Ms. Esther Mercurio)

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We now need more walls!!!

5.  The Giant World Map

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See how happy they are!

 

6. Roman Colosseum

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Peekaboo! A dungeon!

 

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7.  Raya’s Store

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8.  Family Belen /Nativity Scene

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9.  Gino’s Viking Ship

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Siblings helped make the shields in Gino’s ship. This was done after a lesson about the Vikings! All from recycled and scrap materials.

 

10. Energy Poster

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Search & Find: Find Thor! Three kids collaborated to summarize a whole quarter’s lesson on ENERGY.

 

11. Solar System 2015

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12.  A Radio Program in Tagalog

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Guess what DMRG stands for?
DMRG!
Complete with costume since from Mama’s experience TV/Radio Stations are cold ! With headphones and coffee mug for the win!

 

I hope this helps you include more projects in your HomesCooling day and experience its benefits.  Don’t forget to take photos so you can chronicle your journey.  I’ll try to make one post for each project so I can explain in detail.  And when I am able to secure more photos of other projects, I will just make updates.  If you’d like to share your thoughts about this post, please leave a comment.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Laro Collaborative Art Exhibit

I call this a perfect event for the entire family.  It had many things quite dear to me:  lots of  colorful and beautiful  art, children, our Filipino culture,  an advocacy to build a playground for children through UNICEF,  time well spent with my first Art teacher(Mommy Emma) and my students  (Raya & Gino), and the touching of ones’ heart by evoking so many childhood memories of play.

Creative Kids /Kids for Kids

Mommy Emma, Gino, Raya and I had such a grand time in this unique “celebration of every child’s right to play through the celebration of Pinoy games.” 

 

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I told my Mom to act “excited” as if to cheer for Raya as she jumped in ‘luksong tinik.” Did you know that Mommy Emma taught Art Appreciation in Maryknoll College and was the owner and directress of “Infant Jesus Kindergarten School” where most of the Pangilinan kids had their preschool years. The school was just 3 houses away from 11 Mahusay St UP Village!

 

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What’s a pamato, Mama?

 

Creative Kids dedicate their 20th anniversary to help raise funds for UNICEF and the building of a playground in a resettlement area in Calauan, Laguna through an artistic exhibit, fun activities and a fashion show.”

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As I went through each artwork, Mom who majored in Creative Arts in UP College of Home Economics, and I were in awe with every piece of art.  Gino and Raya  were amused as well as they saw some of the games featured in the art works which  their Lola and Mama played when they were their age!

As part of homeschool PE and Filipino, I have tried to expose the children  by playing “garter”,  patintero, luksong tinik,  limbo rock, sipa, sungka , and using the traditional trumpo.  For their birthdays, we  did some pabitins  and some form of “hit the pot (palayok)”.  Though not Filipino in origin, we also tried to play jackstones and mahjong.  Prior to visiting the exhibit which happened to be in our favorite mall, Alabang Town Center. I had a mini-lesson with the kids on Filipino Traditional Games and we focused on the Filipino hopscotch , or piko.  Hopefully we will be able to play this soon.  I also discovered that there were many   online videos featuring so many of these games !!!

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Bahay-Bahayan na! Nasaan ang sandok at palayok?

 

 

Didn’t we dream to have that nipa house?

 

Patintero, sino ang patotot?
Patintero, sino ang patotot?

 

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Tropang Trumpo!
Tropang Trumpo!

 

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Damang-dama namin ang saya dito ! Dali, punta na!

 

Guess what? Kaya mo ng "check mark", "falling star"and "hide in the cave" moves?
Guess what? Kaya mo ng “check mark”, “falling star”and “hide in the cave” moves?

 

Taob kayo sa laki ng tsinelas namin !

 

An additional treat for that afternoon  was seeing and chatting with the event’s main organizer,  our family friend, Bambi Manosa.  According to Bambi, they recently transformed her much sought after art school, Creative Kids Studio into an all-year-round project based art studio “where kids can come  together to help other children through their time and talents.”  The program is now called Kids for Kids.

With Creative Kids/ Kids for Kids Champion, Bambi Manosa. The Pangilinans and Manosas are family friends:)
With Creative Kids/ Kids for Kids Champion, Bambi Manosa. The Pangilinans and Manosas are family friends:)

 

So amazing were the art pieces created by the children of Creative Kids, that red dots were all over as most of the pieces were already sold.  Bambi mentioned that a buyer or donor could either buy and take home art work or he could purchase it, and donate the art work to a center for children chosen by Kids for Kids.

There are more activities lined up for this celebration of play and you may check http://kidsforkids.org.ph.  The link also provides information on how to join this advocacy and become another champion for children.

The Laro Collaborative Art  Exhibit runs until May 26, 2015 at the Activity Center of the Alabang Town Center.

If you’re in the mood to actually play these traditional games,  “Tara, Laro!” is set on May16 and 17 in different areas of  Alabang Town Center ( Activity Center, Town Plaza and Corte Extension). The link  has all details!

I recommend this wonderful celebration of play to all families!  Homeschoolers can even create lesson plans and unit studies on this:)  Thanks to Gino and Raya for the photos. We purposely didn’t post all because you should come and experience this for real!  You ought to see the colorful sungkas, the sipa and pabitiin artwork,  sculpted playthings and  the many paintings about famous Filipino nursery rhymes and riddles

Congratulations to Bambi Manosa, Kids for Kids, UNICEF,  Alabang Town Center and all  the other sponsors for this worthy, inspiring, moving and even entertaining, one of kind, art exhibit by children for other children in need.

A giant paper boat! Didn't we all make smaller versions for the flowing canals in our streets?
A giant paper boat! Didn’t we all make smaller versions for the flowing canals in our streets?

 

I grabbed the chance to write down my comments on that giant boat!  C

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Proverbs 11:5 “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

It’s More Fun in HomesCool!

A few days ago, I asked the kids what  were the best activities in our homeschooling journey. As expected, the best and most memorable were the most fun. One of the benefits of having many, multilevel children is   just having more people to enjoy the beauty and fun that comes with homeschooling.  Fun and laughter are truly precious . They are worthy goals to have in your homeschooling day:)

The kids when they could all fit using one desk!
The kids, back when they could all fit using one desk!

 

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Hang those letters!

 

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Water play is always a winner for preschoolers.
Would you believe we picked up trash and sorted them for Math, Science and Social Studies?

 

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Planting is always FUN!

 

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When they’re this small, you only need pillowcases!

 

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When we started homeschooling, “Messy” became our middle name.

 

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Pretend play will never run “out of style.”

 

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“Everyone wants to be a cashier!Didn’t we all? “

 

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Food Pyramid in the kitchen!

 

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Painting for a cause! Gawad Kalinga house in Paranaque

Oh, of course our priority is to develop godly character and set a good academic foundation.  However, i believe, we can ward off a lot of stress  in our day if we just added that “MORE FUN in HOMESCHOOL” goal.  In addition, FUN, for some reason, seems to lock the experience to our and our students’  memory very well.

For the one-child  homeschooling families, the suggestion is to hook up with a playgroup  or a homeschooling co-op/ support group. However, you can still have some form of one-on-one fun with young children . You just have to “think and wonder” like child and PLAY with them.  For those with more than one, just think constantly of activities (projects and experiences) that can involve all your students, no matter how young. It’s all more worthwhile if they’re having fun and helping each other in the process like this joint project of store for the boys’ only sister, Raya.

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What to do with a huge furniture box?

So how do you plug in fun?  I guess, it starts first with our mindset as teachers. We have  to believe in the value of fun. We have to learn to have fun ourselves. I’ve learned about this concept of “flow” almost a decade ago in a book entitled, “Motivated Minds, Raising Children to Love Learning” by Deborah Stipel and Kathy Seal.”   Let me quote:

Learning can be so intense and enjoyable that it hurtles a student into a state that University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow.’ Flow is a feeling of passionate focus, a pleasurable time when work and play merge, when you concentrate deeply to overcome complex challenges.

      Most people ‘remember a time, no matter how brief, when they were swept along by a sense of effortless control, clarity and concentration on an enjoyable challenge,’ explains Csikszentmihalyi. 

     Be on the lookout for the flow states in your child, because it’s a sure sign of intellectual enjoyment you can        encourage.”

Relays!
Relays!
More relays!
More relays!

So I embraced the importance of “flow” in our homeschooling schedule. And as I witnessed one flow after another, one child after another, and experienced the fun, the joy and the added benefit of real learning taking place—I just knew that we were doing something right.  The habit of thinking, “What could be a fun way (usually hands on and activities that involve movement–I have 3 boys!) to teach this concept?” became a lifestyle. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are days when learning can’t be fun due to certain subject matters or the children’s own preferences and/or moods, but more often the good FLOW days will outweigh the days when it seems like something is stuck in the drain and the “flows” are not happening. And I sincerely believe that the more FLOW days we have, the more mentally and emotionally ready, our students become for some lessons that can’t be taught through an exciting project or in a fun activity.

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Have fun homeschooling! CoolHomescoolHomes have fun!

 

Paul in Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice.”