A Fun Way to Teach Grammar

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Do you like Mad Libs? We love that fun and crazy game where the reader supplies the words for the blanks, and the book supplies the story base.

When we first discovered the game, my older daughter was probably in her tweens. It was great fun, and to this day, we both still enjoy it. There are some things even a rising college sophomore still find entertaining! 😉

Lately, we’ve introduced my younger daughter to the books, and even though she is not fully reading, and is just (informally) learning grammar – it is summer, after all! – it’s helping her learn what the different parts of speech are in a fun way.

If you’ve never heard of Mad Libs before, don’t feel weird; I hadn’t either until I moved to the States. The book gives you a story with blanks that you are asked to fill in with nouns, adjectives, verbs, numbers, colors, parts of the body, and foods. You can play the game by yourself by filling in the page that has only the blanks, and then read them into the story. If you have someone else to play with, or a group of people, it is even more fun, because of the extra input from others. You ask the other person(s) for the particular part of speech or type of word, without reading the base of the story to them. Because they are being asked to supply words only, the resulting story can get hilarious when read in its entirety.

If you’re struggling with teaching grammar, or if you just need another way to help cement the principles, be sure to look into Mad Libs. I'm a firm believer that the more fun we can make learning, the easier it is to help our children learn, and the more the lessons will be remembered.

Helping Your Child Develop Empathy


Empathy is defined as the ability to identify with, or relate to, the feelings, thoughts, attitudes and experience of others.

With more empathy comes more compassion and respect, lower crime rates, and more harmonious relationships overall. Even when we disagree with others, we can respect each other if we take the time to try to understand where the other person is coming from.

Although empathy comes more naturally to certain people, it is something we should all strive for. There are ways we can help our children to grow in this quality. Here are a few ideas:


Be Empathetic Towards Your Child

Be the example of what you want. If you want your child to become strong in the area of empathy, you need to model this behavior towards him/her. Always be willing to see things from your child’s perspective, and try to identify with his feelings. If your child feels hurt about something you said, see the situation from his perspective. Apologize to him for your harsh or uncaring words, and mirror back in your words what he has told you. Help him understand that you see things from his point of view - this is one of the best ways to show him what true empathy is all about.


Be Empathetic Towards Others

If someone has done something that made you feel upset, stop and think instead of lashing out. Let your child see you showing empathy in action. Think about the other person and what may have caused their reaction, words or attitude towards you. Verbalize it with your child so they can see the thought process behind being intentionally empathetic. This will teach them the process so that they too can begin to use it in their own thinking.


Teach Your Child to Care About the Plight of Others

Talk to your children about the struggles that others go through. Show your concern, and ask your child if they have any ideas about how you could care for and help those individuals. Stop any statements and feelings that show a judgemental attitude towards those in need, whether those needs are financial, physical, emotional or anything else.

Explain how people can end up in various situations through factors that are beyond their control. This helps your child to see their own privilege, and to understand that we should all show compassion towards every person we meet, no matter what situation they are in at the moment.


Find Ways to Give as a Family

A great way to show empathy in action is to volunteer. Join forces with the rest of your family and put your energy to use by volunteering your time to those who need it the most. Serve meals together at a shelter, or put together care kits for the less fortunate. My father was great at this - for many, many years he volunteered at a soup kitchen. One of my most enduring memories was of me going with him to help at that soup kitchen. If you can become friends with those you serve, or at least get to know them, it will be easier for you and your children to see them as fellow humans with whom you have much in common, instead of seeing them as charity cases.

Having empathy towards others is an important characteristic for our children who will someday run society. It is one of the greatest lessons anyone can learn. The more we can develop this characteristic in our children is the more likely we can help create a future that is better for us all.


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Teaching Your Child About Losing Gracefully

One of the hardest and most important lessons in life is learning how to lose gracefully. Just as we will have times when we succeed in life, we'll also have many times that we fail. Teaching our children to lose with dignity is a lesson that will last them a lifetime, as it is something they will need to draw on over and over.

As my husband and I parented our older daughter, we had many opportunities to teach her how to be a gracious winner and loser. Whether it was soccer or a card game, it was important to us that she learned how to be grateful when she (or her team) won, and to be able to authentically congratulate the opponent after a loss.

Here are some of my thoughts on how we can teach our children to lose gracefully.

  • Considering The Winner

Teach your child to consider others when they are in the middle of strong emotions. Although he may want to lash out angrily and be alone when he has lost a competition or something else that was important to him, what will this make others feel like? If your child loses and begins to throw a fit and act unkindly to others, how will this change the atmosphere for everyone?

Remind your child that when he wins, it is much more enjoyable when someone else’s anger isn’t stealing the spotlight. He needs to give this consideration to the winner as well.

  • Considering the Others Who Did Not Win

When your child loses an opportunity, teach her to remember all the others who also did not win. Everyone might be feeling down in the dumps, but all it takes is one child with a healthy perspective to change the way everyone feels. If your child’s sports team has lost yet another game, your child could be the voice of encouragement that reminds the others to keep trying, and lets them know that there are other accomplishments they can focus on.

  • Learning What You Can

Whenever there is a failure, there is a lesson that can be learned. If your child is disappointed by a big loss, help him to put things in perspective with your encouragement.

Perhaps your child can learn the importance of extra studying if he didn’t put in quite enough study time. Maybe he is learning a tough lesson about the character of a friend who dragged them down with their lack of effort on the project. Perhaps your child usually wins, and simply needs to learn the lesson of humility. For children who are good in many areas, losing can be difficult simply because it happens so infrequently. Whatever the situation might be, there is always something that can be learned, and valuable knowledge that can be gained.

  • Knowing Who You Are (And Owning It)

The most important aspect of losing is to remember who you truly are. This is a concept that even some of us adults haven’t grasped, but it is crucial to being able to both win and lose with dignity and grace. Build within your child a strong sense of self-esteem.

Teach her that her value does not come from what she can do, but who she is as an individual. From the time she is born, remind her that she is a special, unique person with a specific purpose on earth that no one else will fulfill in quite the same way as she will. This will build in her a foundation that will help her recover from the disappointment of losses, both large and small.

It's fun to win, and it is important to know how to lose as well. Learning this lesson when young will give your child the opportunity to gain experience to do both the right way.

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Fascinating Education – A Great Homeschool Science Curriculum

 

 

Usually around mid-year I start salivating over new-to-me curriculum, when the catalogs start coming in the mail. Well, it’s not quite the middle of the school year and I don’t get nearly as many catalogs as I used to, but I did find a really cool online science curriculum that I opted for a free year of, and I wanted to share it with you, in case you’re looking for one, or know someone who is. From what I have seen so far, this curriculum can be used as not only a middle school and high school science curriculum, but also as an elementary school science curriculum as well. I plan to use it to work with my younger daughter.

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4 Things I Learned From Coloring With My Daughter

Life lessons from mommy-daughter time? Yes indeed! Read on to see what I’ve been learning…

 

1. Coloring can be lots of fun!

Lately I’ve been enjoying coloring with my younger daughter. Hubby bought her an adult coloring book for Christmas (even though she is only 6), and we tend to color at night right before bed. It’s been a great winding down and bonding time for us, and I have to admit that I really do enjoy coloring. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it because my older daughter did not enjoy coloring. It’s nice to be doing it again!

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Q&A – What Curriculum Do You Use, and How Much Does It Cost?

One of my Facebook page readers, Kristi asked: “I am thinking of homeschooling my 7 year old starting next year for 3rd grade. What do you spend on average for your homeschool curriculum and what type of curriculum do you use? Thanks for the help.”

My answer:

Before I tell you what we used, I want to share my best piece of advice with you. Know your child’s learning style – and this is more than just whether she is a visual, kinesthetic or auditory learner. When you know how best your child learns, at what time she learns best, and so on, choosing curriculum, and planning participation in activities, becomes easier. The best resource I have found for this is a book by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson, called Discover Your Child’s Learning Style. The Book is available in a Kindle version and a paperback version. When we did the assessment in our household, our homeschooling life got a lot easier. I just wish I had discovered it earlier.

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Pictures Tell The Story…Or Do They?

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For the past few days, I’ve been sorting out photos on my computer and my backup drive for printing for my daughter’s senior board. It’s something I planned to do earlier on in the year, but being sick for five weeks means I am still playing catch up, even after many nights of going to bed way too late.

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