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The story of our precious little girl's 17 months of life with Trisomy 18 (July 4, 2010 - December 15, 2011) and of us, re-learning to live "after Lilly."
"I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...." Psalm 139:14

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Homeschool tip: learning to tell time plus random tips

Hunter is 5 1/2 years old.  For the past 2 years he has asked to "do school" and has really loved using workbooks.  Wow - that made things easy!  No prep work necessary with a workbook - just open it up.

But a few weeks ago, Hunter suddenly stopped liking all workbooks except his lower case letter practice workbook.  I think we were both surprised at his sudden dislike.

I do NOT want to do anything to quash Hunter's love of learning, so I put the workbooks away.  Now I'm finding ways to continue teach him the same things - but without those newly shunned workbooks.

On thing is in telling time. Hunter made it up to the "minutes" part in his workbook before we put that away. He still wanted to finish learning.  So I bought a cheap clock at Walmart and handed it to Hunter to take apart.  Once he got it disassembled, I took the white clock face and a black sharpie marker, and wrote the minutes, 0-60, around the clock.  Hunter put the clock back together and we hung it low where he could easily see it.  It is working out perfectly!  He goes to the clock many times a day and announces what time it is.  A second benefit of this is that he is learning the double digit numbers that he was not sure of before.  For example, it he says "it is 11:5-3" and I can tell him it's "11:53."

3:00 means snack time!
Another idea I had was for Hunter to make some lapbooks.  You can read a summary of what a lapbook is here, but basically it is a file folder filled with information on a particular topic.  I figured I'd start with Hunter's obsession with washing machines.  I printed some related pictures from Google images, then we cut them out, glued them into the folder, and Hunter labeled the pictures.  (This was a good way to sneak in writing letters and numbers.)  I also found that as I handed Hunter pictures, he would tell me details he had learned about washing machine parts (from Repair Clinic videos on YouTube.)  For example, until he started rambling about agitators having "directional cogs" - I had never even heard of those things.  Ha!  (Best thing about being a homeschool teacher is that you get to learn so much too!  My public school education is severely lacking.)

There was room on the back of the folder for Hunter to draw his own happy washing machines, complete with detailed control panels and electrical hookups.  He spent about an hour doing this!  (C.W-H - if you're reading this you will see his tribute to soap nuts below.)

For math we are just playing around with manipulatives, using Inchimals, and working through the book Gobble Up Math.  I call Friday's "science Friday" and we do projects from his snap circuit kits, or something like this experiment with yeast:

In a container with a small opening, add 1/2 c. warm water, 1 T. sugar, and 1 T. yeast.  Stretch a balloon over the top.  The yeast will eat the sugar, creating a gas, and after awhile your balloon will look like this:

I got that experiment idea from The Big Book of Homeschooling by Debi Pearl.

One other thing is to read a lot together.  We've been having fun reading through the Frog and Toad stories again - Hunter and I both take turns reading pages to each other.  But also lots of non-fiction books.  Books on animals and of course anything about electricity is popular.

Finally, he spends a lot of time on his own making his own inventions and taking things apart and putting them back together (usually).  I think this learning stage is crucial for him.  Here is one fun thing he did for me - he was listening to a cd in the living room that I wanted to hear too, but I was in the kitchen.  (The walls of our old farmhouse are so solid that sound doesn't carry too well across the house.)  So he set up his baby monitor set (yes he bought his own set to play with) and put part by his cd player and brought me the receiver.  Now I could enjoy the music too while working in the kitchen.  (We're currently obsessed with Brother Down's cd "Old Paths New Feet" which is the psalms set to music (guitar, drums, violin).  We sing all these psalms on the cd at church, so the songs are familiar.)

yummy deviled eggs from our chickens!
One things I've learned from homeschooling is that it's important to be open to changing things.  Seems I'm always tweaking things.  I admit this is not always easy for me.

Tabby has her homeschool work, plus lots of self-imposed chicken learning and work.  Yesterday the boys and I watched her Silkie Bantum chicks for her while she cleaned out their home.

The puppies wanted to help gather up the chicks too!

Soon the chicks were back in their cozy temporary home in Tabby's room:

Notice the mirror - Tabby got the idea from the Fresh Eggs Daily blogpost "Brooder Box Boredom Busters."  The ideas cracked us up, but her chicks really are loving the mirror!

"This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24


  1. You are an amazing homeschool mommy!!! I must confess I rely way to much on workbooks. I really want to be more creative. It's amazing to me Hunter is reading already I still have a struggling reader that just turned nine:( Shayla just turned five and we are planning to do all about reading in the fall. What do you do to teach reading? I love your homeschool post they are very encouraging!

    1. Most days I don't feel very amazing! ;) Tabby didn't start reading until after she turned 6. We showed Hunter baby reading dvds when he was a baby - perhaps that's why he had early interest and success. Tabby finally "got it" with Sing Spell Read and Write. Hunter used that some to learn phonics.

  2. Love your ideas....and the kiddos!

    1. Thank you Sandra! Hope we see you sometime soon. :)