Teaching Tips

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Presidents and Elections Unit Study

Presidents and Elections - A FREE unit study created by Cindy Downes that is designed to give primary-age children a brief introduction to the office of the President and the election process using library books, worksheets, art projects and Internet research. Each week, read the recommended book together, complete suggested activities, and obtain additional information by doing the suggested internet research. This unit is designed to be completed in twelve weeks, completing two, 1 - 2 hour lessons per week; however, you can customize it to any length, depending upon how much material you cover and how long you take to cover it. Recently updated with new links and worksheets! 

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Teaching Composition Can be FUN!

Most language arts curriculum teach grammar and mechanics, but spend very little time teaching actual composition skills. Here’s a resource that will make teaching composition fun for the kids.

Don’t Forget to Write for the Elementary Grades includes 50 lessons for ages 5 to 12, as well as a self-assessment checklist, evaluation rubrics, and common core curriculum standards.

Here’s what makes this book effective:

  • Each lesson includes activities to get the kids interested in writing such as a watching a video, building something, brainstorming, or role-playing. This sets the stage for the writing assignment.
  • Next, students are invited to discuss the prewriting activity. This prepares them for the actual assignment.
  • Finally, the students are given the assignment along
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Teaching A Foreign Language

Foreign language is a notoriously challenging subject for many Americans due to our relative isolation from the rest of the world. Even those who take a foreign language in high school or college rarely end up using it. In fact, only 26% of American’s speak a second language well enough to hold a conversation while more than 50% of Europeans are fluent in at least one additional language. So if you are one of the 74% of Americans that continue to struggle with a foreign language here are a few ideas that might make the process a little more enjoyable.

Experts agree that “immersion” substantially increase a student’s ability to retain foreign languages. Although trips to Mexico or Europe may be out of the question, there are other ways to create immersion opportunities for the whole

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Modern Pioneers in Classical Education: Susan Wise Bauer

One of the first Classical Pioneers of the 21st Century is an English Professor from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.

Susan Wise Bauer first entered the homeschooling community as a student. Though homeschooling was mostly unheard-of at that time, her parents not only created a solid educational environment, they followed a neo-classical style of their own design (including teaching Susan Latin at the age of 10). She was a good student, devouring everything that they offered her. Books were the central feature of her education and weekly trips to the library were a special treat. By the time Susan was 17, she had completed her studies at home and was accepted into college as a Presidential Scholar and National Merit Finalist. While in College, Susan earned a B.S. in

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Continuing Education

Even if you already have a college degree, continuing your education is a great way to bolster your teaching skills, and add inspiration to your homeschooling curriculum. Although there are countless resources on the market, I’ll give you a short list of my favorites.

A Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer is a book that helps homeschooling parents walk through the process of building their own understanding of classic literature. It’s a wonderful book with plenty of guidance. However, because it included some “assignments” to help sharpen your skills, it is best read within a group setting. If you have a few friends that are interested in studying literature, I would highly recommend this book.

iTunes University offers free seminars on a number of different topics from a variety

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How to Stock a Family Library

You can save a lot of time and money by stocking your family library with books that can be used throughout your homeschooling years. Here's what I look for when I go book shopping:

I look for biographies that make learning about famous people fun for kids. I especially like Childhood of Famous Americans, Opal Wheeler biographies, and Rookie Biographies . I know these are wholesome books.

I look for classic literature published with interesting illustrations. Because much of the classical literature is written in vocabulary that is often no longer used or difficult to understand, good illustrations help hold a child's attention. (I also keep a dictionary handy! Try reading Robinson Crusoe in it's original version and you'll see what I mean.)

I look for science and history books

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Six Steps to Creating Your Own Unit Study

Six Steps to Creating Your Own Unit Study

Most children learn better from using a variety of senses -hearing, seeing, and touching - than they do from reading textbooks and filling in worksheets. This is not to say that textbooks and worksheet should not be used. Rather, a good textbook and appropriate worksheets are essential for learning math, phonics and handwriting skills. But the use of hands-on activities, visual and audio materials, and good books make teaching and learning much more effective. Literature-based unit studies are an excellent way to incorporate enjoyable reading and activities that use all of the senses. You can buy Unit Studies already prepared or you can create your own to suit the needs of your family. Here's a simple way to create your own unit study on any

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Plants are for Spring

It's almost spring time, and spring is a great time to do a unit study on plants. Here are some fun resources for a quick plant unit. 

Scienceworks For Kids: Plants. This workbook has fun reproducible worksheets that your read/write students will like.

Hands-On, Minds-On Science: Plants. This has lots of hands-on activities that your kinesthetic kids will love!

Dissect a virtual cell: Virtual Cell Dissection

Or, get a real plant and dissect it for real! Wiki Lesson on Plant Dissection includes instructions, diagrams and worksheets.

Press flowers. YouTube video on making a flower press.

Take the Great Plant Escape - on online adventure into the world of plants.

Grow a garden: My First Garden. Here you'll find instructions for a garden as well as some teacher resources for

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