Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Listening and Doing

The curriculum choices I've made require a lot of reading on my part and a lot of listening on the girls' part. There are three main subjects that we do together that require a lot of these things: Bible, History, and Science. We enjoy these subjects, and usually tackle them all in the morning when we are fresh, but something needed to be done.

For one thing, Little Bit, my 7 year old daughter, was having trouble keeping the story lines straight in History. I don't blame her. Some of the lessons are long and complicated for a first grader. It's hard to keep up with all the characters when you are covering some one's entire life in one lesson.

Also, our science curriculum is dependent on a narrative response from the children. You know, "Tell me what you remember about ants." Pretty hard stuff when the lesson has been broken down over a week or more.

And then there is Bible. Bible doesn't confuse anyone. We are learning our way through the Old Testament chronologically this year. Many of the stories are familiar. But still....too much listening makes Jane a very dull girl. Right?

Thankfully, my children are both artistic. (That doesnt' mean they are gifted in art necessarily, but that they enjoy it.) We've stumbled on some ways to make listening more fun and learning more concrete this year and they have really been working for us---even with a four year gap between the children.

For History, I simply take some paper out and fold it so there are 8 rectangles to draw in. Then i read the lesson, stopping at important parts to suggest what they might draw. Sometimes they interrupt me, "I know what I'm going to draw, Mom!" Other times I make several suggestions and let them choose. They really stay with the lesson this way, and remember more afterward as well!
The 1st grader's drawings are not as clear as the 5th graders, but she knows what she drew!

A close up of the Pocahontas lesson by Sweetheart.

I don't remember what lesson this is from but the characters are saying, "No" and "YAS." :)
Even though these are done quickly, Sweetheart's attention to detail lets me know she really is listening.

I used an example about ants for science. Last week we illustrated each type of ant job and made little books out of them. We did the same for bees this week. The girls have already spotted two "scout ants" while out and about. The drawing really helps things stick in their minds. I believe in narration--don't get me wrong. But narration is oral and auditory. My visual learners need more than that. (So does their visual Mom!) I firmly believe the more modalities you can use, the better! (Especially kinesthetic if you have boys!)

Little Bit can't read this page, but she knows it's the ants that take care of the babies and larvae.

Sweetheart's take on the "robber bees" who steal honey from other hives.

The last subject we added something to help out with was Bible. This one was quite by accident. The book called for the girls to make a cave out of play dough for David to hide in from King Saul. We grabbed some play dough, some "Biblical looking" Playmobil people, and got to work.

And it just went from there...

"Moses" hits his staff on the water and turns the Nile into blood. Dora's Papi....um...the Egyptian, is shocked! I guess the Playmobil people were not handy this day.

Can you guess it? Rahab and the spies! See the red ribbon?

David and Goliath. See the stone in Goliaths forehead?

The serpent tempting Adam. Well, maybe we needed to grab some female Playmobil people too.

Would drawing or building help your children listen better? Would it drive you crazy as a mom/teacher? Would your children's listening be worse because of the "toys" in front of them? I suppose it varies depending on family.  But, I encourage you to give it a try and see how it goes! If you've sat in any long meetings lately, you might realize the need for something to do in your hands. Do you doodle? Twist your hair? Can you listen while you do those things? Do you already use something like this in your home school?



    I think this is great! I DO not do enough of this! I need to do more!!!! Hey in oriental trader I have to order some things in May-- there is a set of rubber duckies that are like bible characters-- want me to order them?

  2. I used to use silly putty (I called it "thinking putty" though...my boys don't need extra reasons to be silly! ;-) when we did our Bible time. I think it would have worked better if they were using it like your girls did to act out the story. It became more of a distraction at times as the boys were constantly wanting to show each other what they were making instead of just being quiet with it. The little egg containers eventually got lost and I never replaced them. I think I'll have to do something though. They DO need to be doing something constructive with their hands or they end up flipping pencils, making paper airplanes, squeaking their chair, etc... Both my boys like to draw. Perhaps I'll borrow your idea of dividing the paper up into sections for them to draw scenes or key concepts in.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  3. Those are great ideas, Brenda! I have one boy who definitely HAS to be doing something with his hands while listening. When he's just sitting, I get blank stares when I ask narration questions. If he's had something to keep his hands busy, he can go into these big long monologues with all sorts of details he's remembered! The difference is amazing. I really like your idea of giving them a purposeful activity, rather than just busying themselves with whatever!

  4. Isn't creativity in homeschooling a beautiful thing? to learn and ponder all at the same time... great post Brenda!

  5. I love the drawings. Our children have been quite busy this week with their artwork which has been a nice change. Normally, they are as artsy as I would like them to be.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)