Are you a homeschool mom who has an amazing degree in something other than education and now you're in the homeschool boat? Are you wondering if you have what it takes to keep the boat afloat? Well, before I begin to sound like dear old Dr. Seuss, I have some exciting news for you! This is the first post in a series I'm beginning about sharing a handful of noteworthy educational teaching methods you will find effective and your children will find enjoyable. The best part is, you'll be able to begin using them in your homeschool right away!
Honestly, I loved a lot of aspects of teaching in a public elementary school for six years. Yes, there were sometimes unbearable challenges, but there were those glory times as well. Those times when you're sitting on the carpet with your third graders, reading a really captivating piece of children's literature to them that they've never delved into before. (It's one more book in a unit you've created with stories that have settings from around the world.)
And then you talk about the forms of language in the book and they are so excited to be "getting it". They can't wait to be chosen to go up to the large sheet of butcher paper you have on the wall and write in a verb they heard, an adjective they picked out from the book and where the setting takes place.
Those are glory moments and there were many more, but I bet you have them as well with your children in your homeschool environment. I truly hope so! That is the moment when you feel...accomplished, satisfied, content, happy and fulfilled in what you're doing. It's often the moments that come along to keep us from feeling defeated and burnt out.
So that brings me to the first teaching method I want to share with you in this series, teaching from literature & using literature to support concepts.
So, let's inventory. Do we read aloud to our children? Do we read aloud to our older children? Do we talk about the book as we read it? Do we ask preview questions to get them engaged, like "What do you think Pooh and Piglet are tracking?", and "How do you think Laura feels right now since Nelly Olsen has been so mean to her?" etc. That's great.
If we are causing our children to ponder the thoughts and feelings, actions and reactions of the characters, that's a step in the right direction, but I'm also talking about more than that.
What on earth can you do with a book? Glad you asked. (wink, wink)
Here are some learning concepts and skills you can develop from reading one piece of notable children's literature:
1. Parts of Speech
2. Writing a Response to Literature (post to come on this)
4. Reading Comprehension Skills
5. Science Concepts
6. Social Studies Concepts
7. Mathematical Concepts
8. How to construct sentences.
There are more. You can pull just about anything from a good book. You obviously do not want to do this with every book you read, or do it in depth, but a good rule of thumb is to choose one piece of literature weekly or bi-monthly on which you want to focus and from which you want to pull a skill(s). You can also implement this in its most raw form as a Read Aloud.
Sample skill lesson for Teaching from Literature:
Find the verbs.
Objective: Identify verbs.
Implementation: Before reading the story, review or introduce "verbs" as action words. Ask your children if they can listen for or write down some things the character does in the story. (depending on ages).
During the Reading: Point out some verbs in the first couple of pages to get them started. Monitor to make sure they are hearing/writing verbs as you go.
After Reading: Let the children share their verbs and recall where they heard them. Flip back through the book to help them locate them.
How do I use literature to support a concept?
If you're learning about pumpkins, select a pumpkin related book. Learning about the pioneers? Select a great informational book about pioneer life or read a historical fiction chapter book to make that time period come alive! Rocks and minerals on the horizon for study? Use an informational book about geology.
Don't you just love great literature? Using excellent literature to both teach and support concepts and skills will be a very effective teaching method for you and an enjoyable experience for your children!
I'm talking being familiar with well written children's literature (Caldecott books, Newberry Medal books and there are more). But not necessarily those books exclusively, while they are a great place to begin. I'm talking about, do we purposefully and thoughtfully select literature and plan from it?
Did you know you can do that and it's a lot more enjoyable and effective for your children than only using a workbook to teach english, science or social studies concepts? Remember, as Sarah McKenzie states in her book, Teaching from Rest, curriculum is a resource and I'm so glad because I'd much rather teach using meaningful literature!
Before we can teach from a book, we need to carefully select a notable piece of children's literature. How do you know when you've found one?
1. Does it use complex sentences structures?
2. Does it have a moving story with dynamic characters or a moral?
3. Does it have well done illustrations, aesthetic, not comic looking (like Disney princess books. ugh.)
4. Is there a clear beginning, middle and end?
5. Is there a problem and solution?
6. Does it inspire us?
7. Does it move us?
8. Is the author praised and well-known?
9. Is it considered a classic?
10. Does it have rhyme, cadence, or alliteration, new vocabulary or can we develop an ear for word play?
These are just a few considerations. I know you can mostly tell a good piece of literature when you see it. If you need some suggestions to use with your children look at the Sonlight or Memoria Press grade level read aloud lists. These are both literature based learning.
The possibilities are endless depending on the book. Not only can you choose great literature to help teach a concept or skill, but you can also choose great literature to help support a concept. For example, when I taught Georgia Habitats (love), I used a piece of literature for each habitat we learned. You can snag my Georgia Habitat Learning Kit here if you have a third grader!
I hope you try it out or build on what you already do with more purposeful planning with good children's literature. Please let me know about your learning experiences and your "glory moments" using great literature!
Some other posts in this series: (more to come)
Effective Teaching Methods: Comprehension Questions
Want to know what methods, curriculum and resources we use?
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