Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday March 29

Admist spring cleaning, we managed to get in some innovations...
A sailboat trip for the dinosaurs and lessons on weight and floating
chalk drawings
reading magazines
reading books
reading instructions
And then some fun play with the little people

And our learning house for the day "a fort". We spent the majority of the day in here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In the counsel of many...

Perhaps some of you are visiting this blog as a result of the article and interview with me in Wisdom magazine.
Thanks for stopping in!

I'd like to ask you to share your mediated moments from your life with us here at my blog. Perhaps you have made some time to focusing on developing the habit of asking questions. Maybe you have found that mediating belonging to your child helped a breakthrough in learning.
Whatever you've learned, I invite you to share with us.

As homeschooling families, we need each other. We need to stand and support each other. We can all learn from each other and I'd like to invite you to share your mediated story here.
Please email me at a5minutemom@yahoo.ca with your story.

Let's grow together!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thursday March 25

We're enjoying all the fun that comes with marking the days towards Christ's Resurrection. We have been daily adding to our Easter tree and enjoying the stories of Christ as we do.
We love the book G is for Googol. What a great math story book!
Tried to stay away from the snake
We learned about Konigsberg Bridge Problem and then made our own version of it and tried to solve it.
We had some friends over for snacks
Mischief! (There used to be books on that shelf!)
Play time with our new village
The dinosaurs joined us for math today and let us use them as manipulatives
I love the Sally Ann. For 40 cents I got this game. I used to play it when I was younger. This is a great game to play and use mediated learning techniques on!
Out in the garden...to find bugs, dirt and worms
Many rounds of cops and robbers

Back in for some reading fun!

Bridging: Using Books to Make the Connection

A great idea that my friend Yvonne mentioned at the last Mediated Learning workshop was the idea of using characters or scenes from books to bridge a concept for your child.

Perhaps you have a child who is needing some self-regulation.
"Remember how Anne lost her temper with Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables? What did she miss out on for two years while she held a grudge against Gilbert? Do you think that if you continue in this behaviour you might miss out on something special?"

Perhaps you want to introduce the idea of self-change to your child.
"Remember the story of Paddle-to-the-Sea? Did Paddle-to-the-sea stay the same way throughout his whole journey? Did the little boat's facade change at all? Let's look at this past year of learning, can you see any way that you are like Paddle-to-the-sea--maybe you started out one way but ended up different?"

Perhaps belonging is an important element that needs to be discussed with your child.
"Why do you think the Pepper children were so happy even in their poverty in Five Little Peppers? How did they make each other feel loved and special? How do you feel loved and special and a part of our family?"

If goal planning is a concept that needs explaining, try this approach:
How do you think Pa knew how to build his own house in Little House on the Prairie? What steps do you think he took? Do you think you could use the concept of making a plan to tackle this problem? What kind of plan would you use?

Stories remain with us. That is the power of good literature.
Our children can see the progression of a character in a book because they are along for the journey as they are told the story. Let's use this to our advantage and use it as a way to bridge understanding to our children's learning.

What book could you use to bridge with today?

Tuesday March 23

Inspired by this post here, we made a tree to mark our Lord's journey to the cross. From birth to Resurrection!

And then cousins came which meant lots of play
in the closets with flashlights...
grabbing food in between stories of adventures...
kicking the ball...
shouting aloud...
laughing. Lots of laughing.

And then the first bonfire of the year! Yahoo!
(yes, that is a mini marshmallow we're roasting)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday March 22

We are spending more time in prayer as a family. This is a great book with history of Canadians who have given their lives for Christ and for prayer. Today we read about Jean de Brebeuf and his death which was astounding and probably the most severe martyring I've ever learned of
marshmallow castles from the other day
Drum lessons
reading loads of books
Number fun
Making the cross mentioned here
time to make some bread

Another human figure drawing. A vast improvement from the last, non?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How do you celebrate Christ?

With the Easter season fast approaching, I was recently asked how we celebrate Sunday morning on Easter weekend.
Here's one idea I'd like to share.

We paint a huge cross on newsprint paper and then hang it on our wall.
For the next few weeks any time an attitude, behaviour or sin makes an appearance, we repent of it and then write it down on a sticky note and stick it to the cross. We also add things that we'd like to see healing in our lives for whether physical or emotional.
On Saturday evening we will review all that's on the cross and talk about sin and how Christ has redeemed us and set us free.
On Sunday morning when the kids wake up, they will arise to find that all the sticky notes that had our sin written on it have been replaced with hearts. The hearts will say things like, "Forgiven", "It is finished", "I love you", "Paid for", etc.

Christ has set us free and it's worth celebrating in the most visual ways possible! Don't you agree?

What does your family do?
Check out this idea which we will incorporate next year once I get one of these.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

5 Reasons Why You Won't Try Mediated Learning...But You Need To

When I first heard about Mediated Learning from my facilitator, I thought, "That's nice, Louis."

First of all, it sounded ambiguous.
Second, I was new to homeschooling. I was still trying to crystallize our reasons for homeschooling thatI didn't give much thought to taking on something new.
And thirdly, it sounded ambiguous. I know that's number one, but I don't always catch on very quick.

But once I started talking to Joyce and Louis (our facilitators) I realized that there was more to Mediated Learning. Let's take a look at some reasons and see if we can't find a way to make Mediated Learning work for you.

5 Reasons Why You Won't Try Mediated Learning....But You Need to

1. Ambiguous, Cryptic and Other Words Authors Use to Describe the Word Vague
Sometimes I have had a hard time nailing down a clear definition of Mediated Learning. When I first started sharing it with others I would use the core to try to explain...and then I would stumble on my words and try and give a relevant example. And then I would be quiet because I could tell people weren't getting it and I wasn't explaining it well.

Here's what it boils down to: Mediated Learning is about...drumroll...teaching your child to think and to examine their thinking skills so that they can change, adapt and learn in any situation.

2.Been There, Done That, Own-the-oodles-of-curriculum-that-I-bought-at-50%-off-but-have-never-used to prove it
Perhaps Mediated Learning looks like one more gimmick. An elusive promise that says you will be more organized, your house will be cleaner, your kids will listen better, you won't ever fight about math again and you will be able to make them the most well-mannered, thoughtful and God-fearing kids in the world.
All of that is possible. But it's going to take time.
It's going to take some time to learn how to incorporate this approach to enhance your child's learning. It's going to take some time to reflect so that you can recognize what is a spiritual issue, a character issue or a cognitive issue. But guess what? Mediated Learning can help in all those areas!

3. “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” -Albert Einstein
If you thought about saying, "I don't have the time to learn this" then you aren't alone. I thought so, too.
But then I gave it some thought. Anything that has VALUE to me, I make time for....
Wait, did I just say anything of value??? Isn't that a Mediated Learning principle? To infuse value and meaning into what my child is learning so that it has greater significance to them?
I think so!
If my children understand the meaning and value behind math, will they be more likely to use it?
I think so!
If I can see the value in teaching my children meaning in their learning, can I take the time to learn how to do this?
I think so!

4.There's a method to my madness, and I can only take so much madness
You're saying, "I have a method of teaching my kids (CM,unschooling,Classical, etc). We're happy with it. We're in a rhythm and I'm not changing horses mid-stream."
First of all, can I just say something: Who changes horses mid-stream? Obviously, this statement came about because someone once tried it, but seriously, who does that? Probably some city slicker all wet behind the ears. I don't expect you to be one of those!
Second of all and back on track to the matter at hand, you don't have to stop doing what you are doing in your home. If it's working for you, great! Consider this the sprinkles on the ice cream, the syrup on the pancakes, the cheese on the pasta...you get the idea!
Just add this in to what you are currently doing and enhance your daily learning.

5. Why haven't you started yet?
Possible answers:
b)How do I get started? At the beginning, of course!
c) There is no one to babysit my kids when the course is going on.
OK, very valid reason.
The questions I have for you are: do you get a babysitter when you want some quality alone time with your spouse?
Do you get a babysitter for when you need some time away for yourself?
Do professional teachers have days where they learn a course and update their skills?
Can you arrange for the kids to be babysat at the event?
Where there's a will, there's a way.
It's not, "It can't be done!" The question is, "How can it be done?"
Wait, did I just employ a Mediated Learning method used for problem solving?
I think so!

There you have it.
5 reasons why you won't try mediated learning...but you need to.
Just try it!

St. Patrick's Day

I used to not giving a flying fig about St. Patrick's Day. The impish leprauchauns, all that gold at the end of the rainbow, etc. really left me ignoring this day. That is, until I read this blog post.
Then my view changed.
So, last night as I was contemplating the over-commercialization of this holiday, I asked the Lord for an idea to redeem it. And this is what I came up with.

At 11:00 pm at night.

It takes 20 minutes to whip this together, folks, so you can still do it today.

Green milkshakes
Green eggs
And a scavenger hunt.
This is the verse John 6:41
And it tells my girls that we'll be making Irish soda bread today
It also is a hint for our where to look for the next scavenger clue
In the recipe book
St Patrick used the clover to teach about the Trinity. So the first three clues are about the Trinity.
This one is about being a helper today like the Holy Spirit helps us
The next clue is hidden under the couch
Praying for others
Today we're making Irish blessings and the Aaronic priestly blessing on paper plaques for our neighbours
and the next clue is in the fridge
A short discussion on how we are to remain faithful to God in times of trouble.
We discuss the Great Potato Famine and talk about eating potatoes for dinner
The potatoes hold the next clue
Today we will follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick and share the Gospel of Jesus with others
On the fourth clue, my daughter recognized that we were doing a rainbow. I talked about the rainbow being a reminder of God's covenant promise to us. And asked her if she knew what kind of 'gold' we found at the end of the rainbow? Hope in Christ!
Our rainbow ends in the dishwasher!
Here is our pot of gold. Special treasures for my kids and some special treasures to make some cards for troops overseas to tell them that we are praying for them and that Jesus loves them.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where do I begin? May I suggest that you start at the beginning

If this is your first stop at my blog or your first look at Mediated Learning, you might be overwhelmed.

You might be having feelings similar to myself when I first looked at the Charlotte Mason method. I thought "I have no idea if this is doable. The outdoor bit sounds nice, but I don't want to read six volumes on homeschooling or run around using the word twaddle."
Lo and behold, I was in for a shock when I realized that the CM method, as it's common moniker has become, was extremely simple and doable. All it took was taking things one step at a time.
And while I don't exclusively use the CM method for teaching (I'm kind of like an eclectic/on-the-verge unschooler--which really means I'm still figuring it all out), I use many of the principles in her ideals about learning.

And I sometimes use the word twaddle.

So, let's get back to talking about ML and break it down.
Let's call it Mediated Learning 101.
How do I start? What do I do?
Do I start with cognitive functions?
Do I have to carry a dictionary in my purse at all times?
What is the difference between the core and criteria?
Are you going to make me use the word twaddle?
All valid questions.

Before I answer any of these questions, let me just clarify that I am not an expert in Mediated Learning (which henceforth will be known as ML). I am a parent who wants to be diligent to do all that the Lord puts in front of me to do. And right now, this is it.
So with my vast amount of expertise and many letters after my name (5 minute mom, phd in abc) let's go forward...

ML 101

Q.How do I start using Mediated Learning in my Home?
A. My question to you is, how can you incorporate asking questions instead of giving answers? Do you think you can, instead of giving a ready answer to your child's inquiry, ask a question to see if they can find the answer out?
When your child says, 'why does this happen', are you able to first ask, 'why do you think it happens'?
What is the difference between telling your child the answer rather than seeing what they already know about an answer?
Do you think you can expand their answer further by asking more questions?
To summarize: Ask,ask,ask questions
Read here about fostering time to focus on this new habit.

That's it. That's how you start. That's the whole 101 part.

Naturally, there's 101 part a,b,c and we'll get to those.
But let's face it...an elephant is easiest to eat when done one bite at a time.

Which brings up some important questions: Who eats an elephant? When they do eat an elephant, are they eating the tough skin? Do they eat elephant wrinkles? How long does it take to eat an elephant? Just how big is this metaphorical elephant anyway?

Tuesday March 16

My littlest was unwell today, so this is how we spent today:


Which one are you: A Mediated Learning Parent or Insane?

A great way to help our children develop thinking skills and model problem solving skills is to talk out loud while you do activities.
Now, since talking to yourself is a sign that shows your insane let me clarify what I am saying.
What I am saying is that you need to talk to yourself....
and your kids.
Basically, you need to model your thought processes for your children. This helps them understand how to tackle a problem, the various solutions you come up with to these problems and the different activities involved in the execution of those solutions.

To illustrate my point, here is a real-life scenario from my house.
Not far-fetched at all. ;)

The kids are colouring at the table and I am cleaning the counters.
Mom: "Ok, so I'm just going to clean up this counter and wipe it down so that it's clean. I want to put everything that's on the counter back where it belongs so that later when we make dinner, we can do it easily without having to be frustrated with a mess on the counter."
Eldest: "Mom, who are you talking to?"
Mom: "You guys...and myself. I'm trying to tell you about how I clean off the counters so that one day you, too, can clean off the counters!"
Eldest: "You aren't trying to give me another chore are you?"
Mom: "Just go back to you colouring."
Colouring and cleaning resumes.
Mom: "First, I see our plants need some water. 'Hey Polka (that's our polka dot plant), looks like you are needing some water today. Let's give you a little bit of love.' I'm going to give Polka some water and take off some dead leaves so that she's healthy. I'll put her back on top of the counter now and position her differently so that she gets some sun. 'Is that better, polka? I thought so.' "
Four year old: Mom, why are you talking to the plants?
Mom: How's that colouring coming?
Colouring and cleaning resumes.
Mom: I'm going to put these art supplies in the art closet. Actually, come here, you guys can put this back in the art closet. I asked you to do that earlier. Here, take this."
Kids put art stuff away.
Mom: Thanks girls. Now I'm going to take this box off the counter because it's blocking the window and...GET OUT OF MY YARD! "
I open the window and yell at the neighbour's cat who is trying once again to forage through my garbage.
Mom:"GIT! Yes, I'm talking to you, cat. Out of my yard!"
I shut the window with force which makes enough noise to scare the cat away.
Girls: Was that Pluto again?
Mom: "Yes, but don't worry about it. He's gone now. What was I doing? Oh right, modeling for you. ( A momentary thought on how yelling at the neighbour's cat might not be something I should be modeling). I spot a sock on the counter, "How did you get here? You aren't supposed to be up here. You should be in the laundry room! You know, I don't understand how it is that you can be here."
I put my hand into the sock and make it respond.
Sock:"Well, you see, I've gone travelling. I was supposed to be in the laundry room but I decided to stop here."
Mom:"Oh really?" Why was that?"
Sock:"Because one of the girls put me here. It seems that they got distracted from their chore and decided to put me here for awhile."
Girls: Mommy! You are being silly!
Sock: No, I think it was silly that you forgot to bring me all the way to the washing machine.
Mom: Would you like to go there now, Mr. Sock?
Sock: Yes. Yes, I would.
Mom: Who wants to help Mr. Sock go home?
Girls: I do! I will!
The sock is returned to it's rightful place and I finish up.
Mom: So now, I'm going to wipe down the counter and get rid of any germs that would be left on the counter.
I silently tell myself that I need to make more homemade cleaners. Which then leads to the need to put baking soda on my grocery list. Which then leads to the need to make time to meal plan today so that I can go grocery shopping tonight. Which then leads to the struggle of grocery shopping vs. blogging that I hoped to do and spend time with my husband and call my Mom and soak flax seed for the morning and call cousin Darla for a recipe and write a birthday card for someone and, and, and.....ahhhhh! ENOUGH! I say to all the voices in my head.

Wait...voices in my head.?
Is not that the sign of insanity?
Have I just lived through questions 1-10 in the Insanity Test?
All from trying to be a good Mediating Parent who role models thinking strategies?

Monday March 15

I have been thinking about teaching my four year old to print. We've done a couple of worksheets and games, but nothing consistent. And then to my surprise she announced to me today that she taught herself to print the alphabet!
Texture painting for St Patrick's day art
We found an old lapbook on the eye. We reviewed it and naturally it inspired us to do one today.
Reading together
Jumping game
Learning what a samovar is
Some great links for the history of St. Patrick's Day
History and copywork items-here
and crafts-here
Mischief! Yes, that is a clothespin in my son's hair!
Do you ever do those fun sticker books that label the stickers? We use the leftover bits for a lapbook....
See? Just cut the stickers out and make a lapbook page with them.
Reading, reading, reading

Yes, that's a diaper on the top of the living room fan!