Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Carnival of Homeschooling: Homeschooling Pensieve

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good...

When I first read the Harry Potter books a few years ago, I fell in love with all 4195 pages of the saga. J.K. Rowling's ability to carry the plot over seven action-packed books, planting little elements along the way that seem unimportant when first mentioned but are ultimately of great significance to the greater story, fills me with the greatest admiration of her storytelling ability.

In addition to her great characters, Ms. Rowling creates a world that is just plain old fun to get lost in. And there are quite a few objects that inhabit that world that I wish were available in this one, like:

The Weasley Family's Clock

Yes, a cell phone with GPS can tell you where your family members are
at any given moment, but this clock is just so much prettier
hanging on the wall or sitting on the mantle. 

Mad Eye Moody's Mad Eye

This eye allows the wearer to see 360 degrees and through walls and invisibility cloaks.
Parents will see how this could be handy.

A Beaded Bag

Okay, technically not exclusive to the wizarding world of Harry Potter,
but when improved with an undetectable extension charm that allows you
to fit not only your house keys and lipstick but also a tent, changes of clothes,
food, and an entire library of books, it finds a spot on most homeschooling moms' wish lists.

But, hands down, my absolute favorite creation in the Harry Potter world is:

The Pensieve

This handy contraption allows you to take thoughts that you have conveniently removed from your mind (and stored in handy phials up on the shelf) and view them from another perspective at a later time. Being able to save the details of a memory so that you can revisit them later with greater perspective could be a very useful tool. And not only can you revisit your own memories, you can also share your memories with others to get their perspective.


Let's take some of the phials off the shelf labeled "Homeschooling," whether they be thoughts we've had before or those shared by others, and see what new insights they reveal to us once we access them through our virtual pensieve, shall we?

The phials on the shelf are labeled as follows (click on the phial label to view it via the pensieve):

10 Awesome Poems To Teach Your Kids; Hannah; Full Time Nanny

10 Signs Your Child Needs A Better Tutor Than You; Sara; Nanny Pro

12 in 12: January Update; Ann; Harvest Moon By Hand

Defying Gravity; Cindy; Get Along Home

I Love A PARTY!; Sue; Lifelong Learning
Learning To Read - Part 1; Misty; Homeschool Bytes

12 Homeschool Myths Busted By Homeschoolers; Karen; Homeschooling Athiest Momma

Learning About The Fascinating World Of Farming; Annie Kate; Tea Time With Annie Kate

Making Blood; Lisa; Golden Grasses

Homeschool Methods - Life Learning With Interest-Led Unschooling; Kelly; The Homeschooling Co-op

The Comparison Trap; Jolanthe; Homeschool Creations

 A Plan A Day Keeps Disaster Away!; Jamie; Homeschool Online

 An Inspiring Homeschool Family I Met; Christine; The Thinking Mother

 Rhymes With Australia; Nancy; Sage Parnassus

 10 Old School Devices Kids Today Don't Know How To Use; Tinzley; Nanny Flower's Kids Blog

And some dusty phials I rescued from the grips of the dust bunnies and Cornish pixies under the sofa:

Hero Journey Phials
Our girls (grades 8 & 9) did a study on the Hero Journey (also known as a Monomyth) at the beginning of this year, and now they are identifying Hero Journey elements in stories everywhere... including the Harry Potter series. The resources we used are all squeezed into this phial (be careful, it's a tad heavy):

The Hero Journey; MythologyTeacher.com

Hero Journey/ Monomyth illustrated with examples from The Matrix, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

And one last phial lost in a sock and returned to me by my loyal house elf:

How To Teach Harry Potter - A Semester-Long Course

Thank you for visiting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling! And a HUGE thank you to all of you who contributed.

If you would like to participate in next week's Carnival of Homeschooling (hosted by Jen over at Forever, For Always, No Matter What...), send your submission to by 6pm PST Monday CarnivalOfHomeschooling@gmail.com. (Check submission requirements here.)

Mischief managed...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Carnival Is Coming!

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling is stopping by A Life Supreme next week!

If you would like to submit a post for inclusion in the Carnival here, please send the following information to CarnivalofHomeschooling@gmail.com by 6pm (Pacific Time) Monday, Feb. 20th:

Title of Post
URL of Post
Title of Blog
URL of Blog

See you at the Carnival!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hooked On U2 Worked For Me!

Prima was a pretty typical five-year-old when it came to reading. She could pick out words on signs we passed, off food packaging in stores and on the kitchen table ("pizza" was the first word she read after we ordered it so many times during my "restricted movement" pregnancy with Secunda), and from books we read to her many, many, many times.

We had just moved from a state with moderate homeschool reporting requirements and a young-ish registration age (Maryland) to the strictest homeschool reporting state and an older registration age (Pennsylvania). Even though we didn't have to do school according to the state, Prima was ready and looking forward to it since we had been prepared to start in our old home.

School was going to be rather informal: lots of read alouds on various topics and in various genres. However, we would also start more "formal" math and phonics. For phonics, I chose Phonics Pathways by Dolores Hiskes based on the recommendation in the book The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer as well as praise form other homeschoolers. Prima hated it. I hated it. We spent 6 months using it (albeit on and off) and never got past the vowels (the first 5 lessons).

Just as I was feeling desperate, a new homeschooling family joined our church, and the mom offered to lend me Box 1 from her Hooked On Phonics set. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. It seemed gimmicky based on the commercials. But she swore by it, and her daughter (who was now using Box 2) was doing very well at reading at age 5, so we gave it a shot.

Not only did Prima love it, but Secudna, who had just turned 4, also thrived using it. (Actually, Secunda used to sit on the sofa looking at dinosaur books while I went through HOP with Prima. I didn't think she cared or was paying attention. Then one night I stopped in front of the girls' bedroom door to listen when I heard Secunda sounding out a word in her most recent library book: "I... I... Ick... Ick Thee... Ichthyosaur." She started joining us for HOP lessons the next day. {grin}) They flew through the first box! We returned the box to our friends but never moved on to Box 2 because we didn't need to (plus, the family we borrowed it from moved back to New Zealand). The girls started checking out books way above their reading level and just asked questions or figured it out.

Naturally with Terzo we tried HOP when he turned 5. Utter fail. Reading lessons ended in tears. He just wasn't ready. We kept reading to him (and his older sisters and his little brother) until finally, at age 7, he showed an interest and back to HOP we went. He loved it! He steadily worked through all five levels and became a very fluent reader in the end.

By the time Terzo was done with the entire HOP series, I decided to see if Quarto was interested in trying it out. At age five, he was really showing no interest in learning to read but he was interested in doing everything his big brother was doing, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Nope. He just wanted me to read to him. So I did and put HOP back on the shelf. Over the next couple of years, I would take HOP off the shelf and try a lesson with Quarto. No go. In the meantime, we had a "letter of the week" we'd do with he and his friend (who I babysat), and they would look for the letter of the week when I read to them or in other places, and when they found it we'd review it's sound and read the words they found that contained it. His friend (who was 2 years younger than Quarto) began to read. Quarto could care less. He could pick out his name and other familiar words ("truck" or "bug" or "mom"), but sounding out words eluded him.

Then, when Quarto was 7.5 years old, we gave each of the kids an iPod Nano for Easter. Quarto requested that I load his with U2 and Johnny Cash music, and I obliged. He listened to his iPod every day. During Quiet Time. Walking around the yard. Looking at books. In bed (I'd have to take it away so he wouldn't fall asleep with it). He loved it. He'd come up to me during the day and say things like, "40 is my favorite song. It's by U2. I like U2 like you, Mom." or "Rusty Cage is my favorite Johnny Cash song but Terzo likes A Boy Named Sue. Which do you like better?"

One day, Quarto was sitting on the sofa listening to his iPod (no surprise) when I noticed that he was staring at the player's screen.

"Whatcha looking at?"

"The music."

"The music?"

"Yeah. See?" [holds up iPod so I can see the screen and points as he talks] "It's 40 by U2. See? It says it right here. That's '40' and that's 'U2'."

"Cool. You can read that, huh?"

"Yeah. That's easy. It's just the number 40 and the letter U and the number 2."


[He takes the iPod back and looks at the screen again]

"Now it's Vertigo. That's U2, too."

"Yes, I know. I like that song." [I'm thinking, "Did he just say 'vertigo'?"]

"This is a different album. How To Dis... Dismantale An Atoemic Bomb."

"How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb?"

"Yeah. It's loud. I like 40 better."

[I grab the CD folder that contains the U2 albums and show Quarto the liner notes for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.]

"Which of these songs is your favorite from How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb?"

"Ummm.... Yahweh. But I like All Because of You, too."


[I didn't pass out from the shock. Almost, but not quite.]

That night, we started alternating reading pages in his bedtime stories. He still brings me his iPod to read to me what songs he likes that he's listening to. (His library has expanded to include OkGo, The Ting Tings, Bare Naked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, and Seamus Kennedy... and, of course, U2's newest album No Line On The Horizon. His favorite song off of that album is Magnificent."

So, thank you iPod and U2, for making my son a reader. We couldn't have done it without you.