Thursday, May 15, 2014

3 Reasons We Study Primary Sources

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"The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." ~Aristotle

Studying primary sources first establishes a knowledge base rooted in the facts. A personal perspective can then be formed, and secondary sources strategically introduced.  


 "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." ~Thomas Paine

Not only must we learn the principles, but the context in which those principles were formed.  Studying a primary source means we study people, places, and events connected to it.


"The Bible must be considered as the great source of all truth which men are to be guided in government as well as in all social transactions." ~Noah Webster

Principles and truth are inseparable, and both are found within primary sources.

2 More Reasons...

  • Collecting and using primary sources simplifies our curriculum, as well as our home library.  

  • Primary sources are universal tools spanning across subjects and forming a connection between them.

Examples of Primary Sources

  • Documents (Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution)

  • Bible

  • Artifacts

  • Maps

  • People (Meeting & Interviewing, Journals, Recordings)

  • Nature

Class Discussion

What are your favorite primary sources? 

Happy Homeschooling!

Mrs. Redd

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

If I Could Pick Only One: My #1 Mastery Tool Pick For Art & Music

The subjects of Art and Music are themselves a tool for mastery by their very nature.

Creativity Crusher

The speed at which supplies accumulate is astonishing.  Especially when you are a nerdy mom like me whose favorite things in the world are brand new pens and notebooks.  I will choose a Back to School sale on supplies over a shoe sale any day (and I love shoes, too!).  


Clutter is my arch enemy!

Clutter stifles creativity by taking up precious work space and clogging up the learning atmosphere. It is simply all my ideas for projects manifested in the physical state.  

It's a slick fellow too, creeping in without me realizing it and then it's too late.  

It. Must. Go.

Time to Evaluate

I put the items in our arsenal to the test:  

  • How much do the kids love it? 
  • Do I love it?
  • Does it generate more or less work?
  • How many purposes can it serve?
  • Is it expensive or hard to find?

Drum Roll, Please

The winner for Best Art Supply is:  


Here's Why:

  • The kids absolutely and unconditionally love to play with clay.
  • It's a no-fail activity:   I can whip out the clay box anytime, take it anywhere, and apply it to any subject.
  • It's convenient.  Easily accessible and easily cleaned up.

And here's a real gem of a bonus:

When their little hands are busy molding masterpieces, their little ears tune in to Mommy.  Yes, that's right, they listen

Music to My Ears

For us, musical items don't tend to pile up, so I really don't have much to purge there.  I will, however, name our favorite tool for this subject too.

Background Music

  • Instrumental music CD's we found at Dollar Tree have been a priceless asset to our home. There are familiar classics, nature, upbeat, relaxing and patriotic albums.  If you want to create an atmosphere, this is the way to do it.  

How we use it:
I've been able to attach a different CD to each day according to the daily theme.  For example, we listen to patriotic music on Thursday, our Social Studies day.

  • Nursery rhymes and activity songs are a hit even with the older kids because they get to teach the actions to their little brother. 

How we use it:  

I turn on the CD to start our day on a positive note.  The lively songs help get the "wiggles" out, and we all get a little exercise in.  

Class Discussion

Post photos of your kids creating over at Mrs. Redd's Classroom Facebook page!

Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Vocabulary Building: The Ultimate Skill & The Key to Vocabulary Success

In Prior Knowledge: The Missing Pieces to the Big Picture, I mentioned that math fact memorization is essential to math because it creates reference points for higher math learning later on.  The same is true for vocabulary building, except that it encompasses all manner of subjects.  

That's why maintaining a well-funded vocabulary bank is a fundamental literacy skill

A Wealth of Knowledge

Think of vocabulary building as maintaining a line of credit:

You have been awarded with an unlimited amount of words to spend, and you pay back what you have used by depositing new words into the account.

The Key to Vocabulary Success

Learn new words however you learn them best, but the only way your deposit will be credited to your account is through using those words:  
  • Incorporate new words into daily conversations.  It's ok if the word sounds forced at first.  In fact, this is ideal.  It shows you are practicing.

  • Use the new words in some form of writing.  Think of writing new information down as engraving it on the brain.

  • Play games that you can insert the word into (Scrabble, Pictionary, Bingo, etc.)

Class Discussion

We learn new languages by building vocabulary like you would teach your native language to a child learning to speak.  

Which foreign languages are you learning?

Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd

Prior Knowledge: The Missing Pieces to the Big Picture

Memory Lane

I remember little things my dad taught me, such as how to color like a pro and to button up from the bottom.  Whether he knew it or not, those little tidbits held more insight than just their literal meanings as helpful hints.

Find the Flat Edge Pieces

My dad and I would put puzzles together, and his advice was to find all the flat edge pieces first.  This way you could put together the frame and have starting points for filling in the rest of the puzzle. 

Just like I always draw a crayon outline inside the lines of the picture and color evenly in the same direction, I  begin each puzzle by finding the flat edge pieces.

The Big Picture

I have a vision, although not as clear as the one printed on a puzzle box, of our educational journey's destination.  All the tiny pieces are jumbled up inside my head and in my notes.  

Over the better part of the last decade though, I have been sorting through those pieces to find the flat edges to build a frame for our Big Picture Puzzle.  

Those flat edge pieces are the prior knowledge we need to have in order to fill in the rest of the picture.  

A Simple Strategy

After I find the flat edges, I like to sort my puzzle pieces by grouping ones with similar attributes.  It's a given that I will find entire sections of the puzzle this way, and simplify the process.  

This method works, and I use it consistently.

I use memorization as a simple strategy to acquire prior knowledge, and build the outer edge of our Big Picture. 

Math Fact Memorization

Math fact memorization is essential to forming connections from the math category of our Big Picture Puzzle.

Here's why:  

  • By doing the work initially to memorize the basic math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, we are eliminating extra work later on when we are trying to focus on more abstract mathematical concepts. 

  • The kids get an academic confidence boost from knowing the answer.  This creates a positive association with math and learning in general.

  • By learning how to learn when they are practicing and reciting math facts, the kids are learning a basic skill that will carry them not only through math, but life in general.

Warning Label

Memorization should be used wisely.  It is not a universal tool.  It is best used on essential information with the intent to make learning more efficient.

Children need to comprehend and make connections, and the purpose of memorization is to create reference points to connect with.  

Class Discussion

Share some parental pointers you remember from your childhood in the comments.

Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd

More Math Links:

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Science of Literacy: The Solution That Could Save the World

A World of Trouble

It is overwhelming to consider the problems our world faces, but for every problem there is a solution that awaits discovery. Simply because we don't see the answer, does not mean it isn't there.  

Solutions at the Cellular Level

For all the problems, though, don't you think there are enough potentially brilliant people on this magnificent earth who are capable of finding solutions? 

Literacy is like a single cell that through a process of doubling itself eventually forms an entire being.

Planting Magic Beans

Plant a seed of literacy in someone's mind and nurture it. The world will harvest innovation and discovery because of you. 

Class Discussion

Set a goal for the number of people you intend to help become literate or improve their literacy skills and share it in the comments.  My number is 100.

Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Purposeful Literacy: A 3-Point Perspective

As I've grown with my children, I have learned that there is much more to education, literacy, and parenting in general than I ever imagined.  

First Things First

We must teach with purpose, but we must be clear on what that purpose is before we can succeed.

This is my philosophy on literacy and its significance.

Literacy is a life skill.

Just like potty training, eating and dressing independently, a child must develop strong literacy skills to be a fully functioning adult and have a strong foundation for further education.

Literacy is a responsibility.

One of our civic duties is to raise responsible and motivated adults to ensure a free society and better future. A child who is prepared with effective literacy skills can help find solutions rather than be part of the problem.

Literacy is a privilege.

In our culture, literacy is encouraged and supported for everyone.  We are even free to choose what we learn and where we learn it.  That is not the case in other parts of the world.  

We must remain a literate society in order to protect this privilege, and to spread literacy to those who are not as fortunate.

Class Discussion

What do you think of my literacy philosophy?     



Want to add something?  

Don't be shy! Tell me in the comments.

Happy Homeschooling!

A Short Social Study on Literacy

Literacy from a social standpoint is more than a worthy cause.  It is a parental responsibility that if left unfulfilled has detrimental effects on society as a whole.  

Rule of Thumb:

 A free society is an educated society, and a peaceful world is a free world.

Class Discussion

Comment "agree" if you agree.  Explain if you disagree.

Happy Homeschooling!
Mrs. Redd

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