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Archive for February 3rd, 2012

My biggest challenge in homeschooling this year has been to adapt the materials I have (mainly workbooks from Costco, interesting books from the library, and games/materials I’ve picked up at used curriculum fairs or the dollar store) to fit my 4th grade and 2nd grade kinesthetic learners.

According to Cynthia Tobias, author of “The Way They Learn,” you might have a kinesthetic learner if your child:

  • Has difficulty sitting still for more than a few minutes at a time.
  • Learns best by physically participating in a task.
  • Almost always has some part of his/her body in motion.
  • Prefers to read books or hear stories that are full of action.
  • Remembers best when he/she can do something with the information.

It took me two frustrating years of homeschooling my son before I connected the dots and figured out that he is a kinesthetic learner because I had always associated that learning style with people who are athletic, which doesn’t fit my son.  However, every one of the bullet points above describes him perfectly!  What a relief it is to know that God created him with his wiggles, and if it’s okay with God, then it should be okay with me.  Now, instead of trying to make my kids adapt to the way I grew up learning (in public school, which is primarily geared toward auditory learners, like me), I’m adapting to the way they need to learn.

There’s no such thing as a “typical” day for us because we thrive on change and variety.  We don’t always cover every subject every day, but we do cover a variety of subjects throughout the week.  Our activities today are a good snapshot of what kinesthetic homeschooling looks like for us.

8 a.m. – I fix breakfast for my husband and make extra pancakes for later in the week.  The kids aren’t hungry yet, so they play while I clean up the kitchen and have my quiet time with God.  I ask/beg God to help me know how to teach my kids, and write down the ideas that come to mind.

9:30 (ish) – We get dressed and eat breakfast.  My son finishes eating first, so he reads our passage from the “Day By Day Kid’s Bible” by Karen Henley, which is divided into 1 year of scripture readings.  We love it because it’s written in chronological order and simplified for children.  Our kids usually take turns reading a section each day.  Today, my son reads two passages because he’s really interested in the story, and I’ll never tell my kids to stop reading the Bible!  We also recite the names of the first 20 books of the Bible together, as well as the Lord’s Prayer, which the kids are memorizing.

10:15 (ish) – The kids have grabbed the hula hoops to play with, so I decide to turn on some dance music for their hula-hooping.  Soon, they’re laughing and spinning their hoops to the beat of the music.  I give them about 5 minutes, then tell them it’s time for math.

We get out the multiplication/division puzzles we made last week, since kinesthetic learners “learn best by physically participating in a task.”  I bought several kinds of die-cut paper shapes (i.e. bells, space shuttles, rainbows) from the dollar store last week, and made number triangles with multipliers on the bottom and the answer on top.  I gave the kids stickers to apply next to the multipliers to help them visualize the numbers they are multiplying, and cut each shape into 3 parts so we can also use them for division.  Last week we made puzzles for the multiples of 3 and 4, so today the kids take turns with each set, matching the right answer with each problem puzzle.  We then pull out the bottom right number so they can practice division.  They have a short hula-hooping break before switching to the other set.  Since my daughter finishes first, I grab a clock wipe-off board and drill her on her multiples of 5, using the clock as a visual guide.

10:45 (ish) – The kids are hula-hooping to the music again while I set out the materials I need to make gluten free bread.  We pull out their Brain Quest workbooks from Costco (which the kids like because they’re colorful and often fun, and I like because each page has a Brain Box that teaches the concept).   Today, they have to circle the words that are incorrectly spelled in a list of frequently misspelled words.  I help my daughter, who is younger, figure out the correct spelling of each word so she can write them down.  My son comes into the kitchen where I’m making bread, and spells the words aloud.  Since he’s not a fan of writing, I only require him to write the words he misspells.

Bananagrams!  The kids love using the Bananagram tiles (like Scrabble tiles) to spell words in crossword form because it allows them to physically participate in spelling.  I tell them that they’ll get one Skittle for each of their spelling words that they can fit into their Bananagram.  My daughter needs some help figuring out where to build some of her words, and my son wants to add his own words.  They munch on their candy rewards, then take another exercise break.  I’m ready to move on to our next activity when my son notices a Short-Cuts for Kids from the newspaper on electricity and asks to read it.  Since we value interest-led learning more than following plans, I agree to let him read while my daughter dances to the music, and take advantage of the extra time to get our bread in the oven.

11:30 – It’s the kids’ turn to teach me about math!  We get out the My Path to Math book, “Comparing Fractions,” which we found at the library.  This series of books explains math concepts with stories, colorful illustrations, and short activities.  Although my kids have been using fractions in their computer games – a great way for kinesthetic learners to do math – we’ve been learning the terminology (like numerator and denominator) through the book.  Today, the kids get to read and teach me how to complete a number sentence comparing two fractions.  I ask them questions, and they tell me what to write.  Sometimes, I use a stuffed animal puppet to hold the pencil and write down what they tell me to do because, as my daughter said, “Everything is more fun with stuffed animals.”

Noon – The kids take turns doing a typing program on the computer and practicing the piano.  Since it’s Monday, they have some new material on the piano, so I stay close by to help them.

1 p.m. The kids play together until the bread is done cooling.  Since we didn’t get going very early today, lunch doesn’t happen until 1:30.  They make their own sandwiches and continue their imaginary story while eating.

2:00 – It’s a sunny, warmish day (for winter), so I send the kids outside to play.  This is my first chance to turn on the computer and check email, so I fix a cup of tea and take a break.

3:00 – The kids get a snack and take turns reading chapters from the Magic Treehouse book, “Civil War on Sunday,” which tells about the field hospitals during the war.  My kids are really into American history (because I’m a history buff, and tend to put a lot of effort into making history fun), and my son is learning about first aid in Cub Scouts, so it’s perfect timing to read this story.  Since kinesthetic learners prefer books that are full of action, my kids enjoy learning about history through books like the Magic Treehouse adventures.  It’s tradition that they read the Magic Treehouse books in either a play tent, our jungle gym in the backyard, or a fort made from chairs and pillows.  So today, while one child reads, the other builds a fort.  They finish the last 4 chapters of the book and happily play in the fort.  I ask them some questions about what they learned, and we go over a few unfamiliar vocabulary words.

5:00 – When my husband comes home from work, the kids clean up the fort and help me do dishes while dinner is cooking in the oven.  Since my husband and son love all things science-related, we decide to watch a pre-recorded episode of Mythbusters after dinner – science in action!   The kids then get ready for bed and read whatever they want until they’re ready to be tucked in.  It’s been a full day of learning and fun, and when it’s my daughter’s turn to say her prayers she adds, “And thank you for giving my brother such great building abilities so he could make that awesome fort.”

It takes some extra work to accommodate my kinesthetic learners, but my most exhausting day of creative teaching is still better than my most exhausting day of frustration over trying to force my kids into someone else’s mold.  Do you have a kinesthetic learner?  Leave a comment if you’d like to see more posts with ideas for teaching these fun, energetic kids.

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