Hands-on Learning Projects Engage All Types of Students

From Our House to Yours

Hands-on projects in Creation to Christ bring history to life!
Hands-on Project of Roman Soldier
“R” Stands for “Roman” Soldier

Three days each week in Creation to Christ Emmett progressively works on a hands-on history project.  Projects closely correspond with the weekly history theme and give a creative outlet for him to express what he’s learned.  They use items I readily have on hand, and they are never the same from week to week.  Emmett adores his history projects!  In fact, he took these pictures himself this week.  He was so proud of his Roman decked out ‘soldier!’  His Roman soldier has a helmet, tunic, armour, belt, sandals, and travel pack equipment.  Emmett will not soon forget how a soldier in the Roman Empire was at all times ready for battle!

Hands-on projects engage every kind of learner!

It’s obvious hands-on projects engage children who are kinesthetic or tactile learners, who enjoy movement while learning.  But, did you know they also engage auditory learners, who enjoy talking about what they are learning?  They even engage visual learners, as they see what they create come to life!  Finally, social learners naturally enjoy getting to share their projects with us as moms.  So, every kind of learner benefits from hands-on projects!

Hands-on map drawings in World Geography bring history to life!
Hands-on Map Drawing in WG

World Geography provides a chronological approach to geography that is based on the history of exploration, discovery, and mapmaking.  It starts with the ancient cultures and ends with polar region exploration.  Ellen McHenry’s Mapping the World with Art gives step-by-step DVD instructions to help students make their own world map.  This is only one part of earning World Geography credit, however, it is one of Riley’s favorites!

Hands-on drawing of maps engages learners in a more memorable way!

As students study cartography and mapping through history, they connect in a more memorable way by making their own maps.  Riley understands first-hand how difficult it is to make maps.  This is something that cannot be learned from simply studying others’ maps!  As he reads about the struggles cartographers faced making maps, he can empathize with them.  It’s not easy to visualize that which you cannot aerially see.  Hands-on drawing helps him commit to memory what he is learning!

Hands-on Book of Centuries entries in U.S. History II bring history to life!
Hands-on Book of Centuries in U.S. II

U.S. History II marks the end of a 4-year journey of keeping a Book of Centuries.  Keeping a Book of Centuries is a Charlotte Mason hands-on skill that pairs well with high school students.  Printing, cutting, coloring, and gluing timeline entries helps students gain a  mental picture of individuals and events within a century.  Wyatt wanted me to snap a picture of this today because he ‘had an entire 2-page spread’ completed!

Hands-on compilation of a Book of Centuries gives high school students a keepsake of the history studied in high school!

Compiling this Book of Centuries provides a hands-on way to create a keepsake of history that has been studied.  This helps students commit to memory the overall flow of history, rather than memorize individual unconnected facts.  I like how the Book of Centuries is handmade and not just a preprinted timeline chart someone else made professionally.  Wyatt has made reference to keeping his Book of Centuries handy after graduating, just as a chronological resource.  Now that is truly a special high school keepsake from his time spent studying history!  My quizzes I took in history never made their way into my ‘have to have reference resources’ post high school.  I’m so glad Wyatt has something to show for his years of high school history he cares enough to keep.  This is just more reason to keep meaningful hands-on learning a part of Heart of Dakota from start to finish!

In Christ,

Julie

P.S. To read more about what other homeschool moms are saying about our hands-on history projects, click here!

Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 2

From Our House to Yours

Can you encourage personal style within the provided structure of Heart of Dakota’s plans?

You certainly can! In fact, as I shared last week, the opportunity for personal style is already part of Heart of Dakota’s plans. You may be wondering, then how are both included? Well, the daily plans provide specific guidelines for each school subject, which gives structure for each assignment. Structure might include which kind of oral narration to give, how many sentences to write, what headings to use, etc. So, needed parameters are given, but they need not squelch the creativity of personal style!

If you would like to see last week’s post (Part 1), click below:
Personal Style Within the Structure of the Plans, Part 1

How can students get creative with their personal style then?

Excellent question! Well, blessedly personal style is a natural part of a living books approach to homeschooling. Better yet, a living books approach to learning is already included in every Heart of Dakota guide! Narrations have structure, like which book to read, which pages to narrate upon, and which kind of narration to give. But, they also encourage personal style. Students can choose which parts to retell, what manner to retell them, and what connections they’ve made. This is the opposite of a textbook and workbook approach, which includes a more encyclopedia-like ‘facts only’ response. Similarly, the different assessments included in the structure of the plans are the opposite of ‘test and forget it’ assessments.

Do you have some examples of personal style being encouraged within the structure of the plans?

I sure do! I’m so glad you asked because this is what I wanted to share with you in my weekly check-in. Let’s chat about my son, Riley, this week, who is using World Geography this year. I’ll start with the Living Library one-sentence summary assignment. This assignment is harder than it seems! In fact, as Riley is my detailed narrator, trying to respond to his reading with a one-sentence summary is difficult. At the start of the guide, he chose the option to write 3 sentences on scratch paper first. Then, he took each of the most important parts from the 3 sentences and consolidated them into one sentence. Twenty-three units into the year, he no longer chooses to start with 3 sentences. In fact, he has become adept at writing a one-sentence summary with every part the guide asks him to include.

This assignment is the perfect follow-up to his Living Library reading. It does not ‘get between the child and the book,’ as Charlotte Mason would applaud. Keep in mind, this isn’t a required part of earning credit, but rather a way to earn extra credit. So, as a follow-up to the already extra reading of the Living Library, the assignment is kept appropriately short.

Living Library One-Sentence Summary Assignment
Heart of Dakota World Geography Living Library
World Geography Living Library One-Sentence Summary Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•certain pages must be read
•a one sentence summary must be written
•the main character(s), the main action taken, any important conflict, the goal, and the setting must be included

Personal Style:

•option to write 3 sentences on scratch paper first
•chose what to include in summary
•chose to read aloud summary to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This is an extra credit option in the plans, so if the summary isn’t the exact sentence you would have written – in the name of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the summary is limited to one sentence and includes the main character, a main action taken, a conflict, a goal and a setting.

World Geography Written Narration Assignment
World Geography Heart of Dakota Written Narration
World Geography Written Narration Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•read assigned Mapping the World with Art pages
•needs to be 3-4 paragraphs long
•must be read aloud to try to catch any mistakes
•need to stick to the topic, support it with details, write in the author’s style, include a strong opening and closing
•must use the Written Narration Skills in the Appendix to edit

 

Personal Style:

•pick his own details to retell
•decide whether to write 3 or 4 paragraphs
•chose whether to write in print or in cursive
•pick his own way to open and close his narration

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a quiz! So, if your student didn’t write what you’d have written – for the sake of personal style – let it be! However, structure demands reading, writing at least 3 paragraphs, reading it aloud, including noted parameters, and editing. If it’s not legible enough for the student to read aloud, that’s not ok either. This is just one more reason not to skip this step!

Geography Activities Assignment:
World Geography Heart of Dakota Activities
World Geography Activities Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•need to watch DVD Scenic Cruises of the World
•must make bulleted list of important things to experience or see
•need to make lists for 3 provided topics

Personal Style:

•decide his own details to include in his bulleted lists
•pick whether to write list in phrases or in sentences
•decide whether to write in print or cursive
•chose to read his notes aloud to me

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a composition assignment for English credit. It’s a response to a DVD viewing of geographical places being studied. So, if your student didn’t write complete sentences or certain facts – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the DVD is viewed and bulleted notes are written pertinent to each provided topic.

World Religion and Culture’s Assignment:
World Religion and Culture - Heart of Dakota
World Religion and Culture’s Assignment

Structure in the Plans:

•must read the assigned pages of the book
•need to answer each of the provided questions
•must answer the questions over multiple days as assigned

 

Personal Style:

•chose how much detail to include in his answers
•decide whether to write in phrases or in sentences
•chose whether to write in print or cursive
•pick to read his answers aloud to me (he orally shared his page numbers/quotes for #2)

A Few Things to Remember:

This isn’t a composition assignment for English credit. It’s a response to a DVD viewing of geographical places being studied. So, if your student didn’t write complete sentences or certain facts – for personal style – let it be! However, structure demands the DVD is viewed and bulleted notes are written pertinent to each provided topic.

Next week, I’ll share Part 3 of this series on personal style within the structure of the plans. That final post will be in regard to my son, Wyatt, who is completing U.S. History II this year. Hope you had a good week, ladies!

In Christ,
Julie

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Heart of Dakota

Living Books Bring History to Life

From Our House to Yours

The “Living Library” set of books in USII brings history to life.

In USII, Wyatt has been reading I’ll Watch the Moon for his living library selection. This book is a page-turner that just cannot be put down! The characters have so much depth to them, and his favorite is a holocaust survivor who brings hope and peace to all who know him. There are some hard things to read in this book! But then life is hard sometimes, especially in the aftermath of the holocaust. He worked ahead and did multiple journal entries each day at the end of the book because he just had to know how it ended. I’ll Watch the Moon is a gem of a book that is a rare find – thank you Carrie for choosing so carefully! To read more  about the “Living Library” books in this guide click here.

US II - Detailed Highlighted Written Narration
US II – Detailed Highlighted Written Narration

In USII History, Wyatt has been learning about “I Like Ike,” the end of the Korean War, Billy Graham, and McCarthyism. He did a detailed high-lighted written narration about his reading from America: The Last Best Hope. Answering some wonderful critical thinking questions really got him thinking deeply about what he read. The critical thinking question “State Department Worker: What should you tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?” put him in the role of decision maker. Reading the actual outcome is always interesting as well!!!

Writing a good research paper in World Geography takes . . . research!

In World Geography, Riley wrote a persuasive essay for Essentials in Writing Grade 10. He researched and wrote about the dangers of chewing tobacco. We know some young adult men not much older than Riley that chew tobacco, and it really worries Riley. It would be wonderful for them to stop! His essay explains the dangers of chewing tobacco, and he did an excellent job researching it. I like that he can choose his own topics within the realm of the requirements of the assignment. This allows him to be personally invested in his essay right from the start!

World Geography - Notebooking
WG – Labeled picture of Davis’ invention of the backstaff

World Geography History has had Riley learning about Davis’ polar journeys, Hudson’s and Baffin’s Bay, and Raleigh’s Ed Dorado. He drew and labeled a picture of Davis’ invention of the backstaff, which allowed navigators to have more accurate latitude readings. An important quote from Davis was also copied in the notebook. Earlier he wrote a written narration about Martin Frobisher as well. He is truly loving learning about all of these brave explorers!

Watercolor paintings in Creation to Christ are a great connection to the poetry of Robert Frost.

In Creation to Christ, Emmett first learned about Alexander the Great conquering Persia and then moved on to learn about Alexander’s entire empire. He used strips of paper to make his own ancient map of the places he has been reading about. He also drew the famous horse Bucephalus. Timeline entries on the Peloponnesian War, Philip of Macedonia gaining control of Greece, and the Reign of Alexander the Great were added to his notebook as well. He researched Olympia, which was so fitting as the winter olympics are soon beginning here! Don’t you just love it when the Lord makes neat connections between HOD history and real life like this?!? Finally, he drew the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Creation to Christ Watercolor Robert Frost
Watercolor of a sunset to go with Robert Frost poem “Acceptance”

One of his favorite activities this week was painting a lovely sunset to go with his Robert Frost poem “Acceptance.” He also enjoyed adding to his plant notebooking booklet. Researching and drawing the dead nettle plant, as well as copying a Bible verse beneath it, added another lovely entry to his growing plant book. Finally, we all enjoyed getting together at our house to watch the Superbowl!

What a terrific week! Hope you had a good homeschooling week too!!!

In Christ,
Julie