I am always flying high when I return from a homeschool conference. I think of it as my teacher training. Doctors do it, lawyers do it, traditional teachers do it, why shouldn't I? It's an opportunity for me to hone my craft, learn new things and meet amazing homeschool entrepreneurs! More than anything, it's an opportunity for me to bond deeply with other homeschool moms. For the past 3 years I've traveled with a group of moms so that we can share the costs of transportation and lodging, leaving more in the budget for curriculum purchases. I had so much fun, and we literally sat up until 1:00 a.m. in the morning talking! But that's not the focus of this post. I wanted to share my top 10 picks from the HEAV conference 2013.
#1 101 Doodle Definitions. KingMan, the artist, always doodles on his notes. Now he can doodle his vocabulary words. He'll learn the definition by reading and drawing an illustration. For example, to remember the definition for ominous, he will sketch a black cloud. Brilliant concept and I know this will be an immediate hit!
#2 Shiller Math. I have been using Montessori based learned for LionHeart since he was 3 years old. I even took an online Montessori training certification. But many of the homeschool manuals (think teacher's manual) that I have come across are not very visually appealing. They are well scripted, but for a visual learner like me who needs to see it, they have not worked very well. I had visited their booth in the past, but this time I had a little more knowledge and I already had the Montessori materials. I just needed something to walk me through it step, by step. After having a lengthy conversation with the wonderful sales representative, I learned that many homeschoolers use Shiller Math to present the concept in a concrete representation and use Singapore Math to reinforce. Perfect! This is what I was already doing, I just needed more guidance. Shiller Math guides will now be leading the way. The guides will carry LionHeart through 3rd grade math.
#3 Prescripts Cursive Passages and Illuminations. Both of my children will learn cursive handwriting. I believe it's an important skill to learn despite the fact that many public schools don't teach it anymore. Can you imagine children in Japan not being taught Kanji because "everyone uses computers." Both of my children are artists and beautiful cursive writing is an artform.
#4 Words 2 Remember 4 Kids. Some days I feel like a referee and not a teacher. When my boys get to bickering, I'll whip out these cards and a Bible for a quick character building lesson. We can also use the cards for memorizing scriptures. I appreciate that children of color are included on the cards.
#5 Basher Books. I love these little books. They take intimidating subject matter and make it visually appealing and fun to read. I picked up Algebra and Geometry and Math. The books have posters in the back that can be used to review the grammar of the topic at hand.
#6 All About Spelling. I had seen this curriculum reviewed on many blogs, but paid no attention until I read that this multi-sensory program supports children who learn differently. I decided to go back and re-read all of those blogs posts. After doing so, All About Spelling was the first curriculum I purchased.
#7 Tibbar's Everyday Big Board. I never did a calendar exercise in our homeschool. Some things I think children can learn organically. Besides, I didn't have the wall space and it seemed too much like school. But LionHeart is always asking me the day of the week. Now he'll have his very own calendar board and we can do the month, day of the week, date and weather as soon as he rolls out of bed. Cute, well-made, small and right to the point. I love it!
#8 The Logic of English. It always happens. I go to a conference planning to purchase one thing and end up purchasing something completely different. But in this case it was a Godsend. Hooked on Phonics worked perfectly for KingMan, who I discovered during the Learning Styles workshop at HEAV is my "visual/auditory" learner. While LionHeart, on the other hand, is 100% tactile, body/kinesthetic. During Denise Eide's workshop Nerf Guns and Shaving Cream: Teaching Reading and Spelling To Children Who Can't Sit Still, she explained how these learners need to "see and feel" the sounds. I was sold. It will be the perfect companion program to the work LionHeart is doing with his tutor. I'm so glad I went to that workshop. The catchy title reeled me in.
#9 Exploration Education. As KingMan gets closer to high school and the inevitable text-based science course, I wanted him to enjoy another year of fun, hands-on science. Exploration Education looked like the perfect program to test out all of the knowledge KingMan has gained from participating in various STEM programs. The instructional DVDs walk us through the projects step-by-step and all materials are included. That's not even the best part. The elementary level program is perfect for LionHeart, thereby eliminating all possibility of a squabble over projects. In fact, KingMan will be the assistant when it's science day for LionHeart. Science is usually a class that I farm out to a co-op or a science teacher but we'll be tackling it at home this year.
#10 Portfolio 101. When I say I almost starting dancing at the Amanda Bennett Unit studies booth when I discovered this gem, I would not be telling a lie. But I held it together, calmly filling out the form. I am a part-time organizer and anything that helps me be more organized sends chills up my spine, especially when KingMan can participate in the process. I am so excited about starting a new year with a place to chronicle the children's endeavors over the course of a year. I plan to print it out, add photos, brochures, some work samples, and a 3-ring binder. Whola!
I have to mention The Primary Arts of Language: Writing Complete Package because everyone knows I'm a big fan of IEW. It's a solid program that truly teaches the "how" of writing as opposed to merely frustrating children with a bunch of writing exercises. I work with children all the time who plagarize unknowingly because they do not know how to create a "key word outline," a foundational skill in IEW. Imagine my delight when I learned that IEW now has a program that will put ages 4-7 on the path to writing well. But more on that later in a post devoted entirely to the program. Stay tuned!