Tactile learners have the world at their fingertips, and that’s just the way they like it. They poke and prod, maneuver, knead and generally interact with whatever they are learning in the most physical way possible. Think about it, they have been doing it all their lives. As infants, they learned their first lessons about the concepts of love and caring through touch. Then their developing motor skills brought objects into their clumsy fingers so that they could learn about them through touch and taste and smell. Tiny feet wiggled to make bells jingle and they began learning about cause and effect. As they grew, they immersed themselves into the world with their whole bodies and often came out covered in mud and scratches. Don’t think that all of that movement is only about excess energy. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Kids wiggle and squirm their way to a better understanding of their environment and the skills they will need to get through life. Those with a heavy tactile lean to their learning needs often have the hardest time in a traditional learning environment. Sitting still can actually zone them out to the point where none of the new information makes it into their processing centers. This is why I am a big advocate of keeping your homeschooling environment as movement friendly as possible.
When my youngest - who is a very tactile learner - was small, I learned that making him sit still to do his lessons was counterproductive. If we did math while he hung upside down on the couch, he got the concept right away. If he was sitting with his feet on the floor and his pencil in his hand, we were doomed. He tells me that now he typically does math by visualizing the problem in his minds eye and using his pencil as a magic wand to break it into smaller parts, manipulate the numbers to their proper places, and work his way to the solution. In his opinion, writing the problem on paper turns it into a visual issue that is harder to work. I will be the first to admit that if I were to try math his way, my brain would simply shut down. It works for him though, and that’s all that matters.
This week, why not let your fingers do the walking toward some new learning experiences? Try these on for size:
1) K’nex are our favorite building toy. Basically they are a set of clips and rods that interlock in a variety of ways to give you huge options for building. My youngest went through a multi-month stage of building and perfecting a variety of rubber band guns with these little marvels. He explored critical thinking skills, research and development tactics, angles, levers, and all sorts of other skills and subjects all before his 10th birthday.
2) Identify and add coins while blindfolded to see how good you can get! Each coin has a different size and texture. Can you sort them into separate piles of the same coin? What about adding them just by how they feel? This will even come in handy at the store since you’ll be able to identify the correct change while it’s still in your pocket!
3) Build a house of cards! If you really want to do some heavy exploring into science and math, this is a fun way to start. You get to experience angles, shapes, structure and weight limits, air flow and its effects, seismic activity and much more. PLUS, you get an exceptionally good lesson in patience!
Sophie the fairy brought the day in with a very big sneeze! Her pixie dust flew through the air and got all mixed up with the snow that was falling. Each snowflake that touched a magic sparkle was changed and the results were pretty yummy! Fiddlebug, Bart and Craig ran outside and scooped up a nice big bowl of Snowman Parts Snack Mix to nibble on while they play. You can have a tasty bowl to share too. Here’s what you have to do (I underlined the ingredients I used for the pictured mix):
What you need:
Yogurt covered raisins or white cheese puff balls or Kix cereal for a less sweet mix (like snowballs to build your snowman)
Pretzel sticks (like snowman arms)
Coco Puffs Cereal or raisins (like snowman eyes)
Cheerios or chocolate chips (like snowman buttons)
Almonds or candy corn (like snowman noses)
A big bowl to mix it all up in
What you do:
Pour each ingredient into your bowl. Make sure your hands are very clean and mix everything together. Nibble away while you play!
For those students who learn well by hearing directions, most of their understanding comes from in-class lectures on material and discussion groups. A lot of auditory learners benefit from work spaces that allow them to talk their way through material that is presented in other forms. Auditory learners tend to read out loud. They figure out problems by talking their way through the situation to a solution. They are also very good at picking up tone and understanding how a speaker feels about the topic they are discussing. I have even known auditory learners who find quiet environments so distracting that they wear headphones while reading through material in order to let it sink in. In other words, auditory learners LOVE sound!
This week, why not try learning something just through your ears? Here are a few ideas for you to try:
1) Borrow an audio book from the library. Try to make it one that is a little above your reading level. After listening to the story, see if you can remember the plot better than if you had curled up with the book.
2) Learn a few phrases in a foreign language from an audio course. There are many to choose from, and libraries often have these on hand as well. If it works out well for you, this might be a great new extra curricular subject to add to your day.
3) Find an educational program on TV that interests you. Now, put a blanket over the TV so you can’t see the picture. You’ll be “watching” the program through your ears instead of your eyes. How was the experience the same? How was it different?
4) Do you have a project that you are working on? Plan it out ONLY by talking through it. Don’t write your directions down. Don’t draw pictures. Don’t pick up the pieces first. Just talk yourself through each step in the process. When you are done, see if you can complete your project without running into problems caused by forgetting steps or getting them out of order. Feel free to talk through each step as you work.
5) There are studies showing that listening to classical music while doing math can improve a person’s ability to understand math concepts. For the next week, put classical music on during math time. Look over your scores at the end of the week. Do they seem better? Did the music help you learn the necessary skills easier?
Gifts are great things to get! They make us feel special and thought of by the people who give them to us. A great way to give that feeling back to someone who got you a gift is to give them a Thank You card, and the most special Thank You cards are handmade of course! Craig had this great idea to make his without using scissors and wanted to share it with you.
What you need:
Construction paper (use as many colors as you want!)
A Crayon or washable Marker
What you do:
1) Fold a piece of construction paper in half to form two short rectangles.
2) Fold one of the short rectangles so the two short edges are about 1 inch from meeting. Set it aside. This will be the card that you will glue your snowman to.
3) Fold a white piece of construction paper in half and tear 3 half circles out at its fold. The half circles should be small, medium and large so that when they are unfolded they form the head, chest and base of the snowman. (You can always reshape them after you unfold them)
4) Use the glue stick to glue your snowman together.
5) Tear the decorations for your snowman out of different colors of construction paper. You can decorate it any way you want, so get creative! It’s easiest to glue the parts on to your snowman as you tear them out so they don’t get lost.
6) Once your snowman is all decorated, use your glue stick to glue it halfway on and halfway off of the short front edge of your card. This makes the snowman the new edge of the front of the card.
7) Tear parts to make a sign next to your snowman and glue them on the front of the card too.
8) Write your short message on the snowman’s sign. You can add anything else you would like to say on the inside.
9) Once your card is dry, go deliver a smile to someone you care about by giving them your work of very thoughtful art!
Craig wanted me to be sure to say that you can say anything you want on the card – you shouldn’t wait until someone does something nice for you to let them know how you feel about them!
Written words, pictures, charts and graphs, maps, and diagrams; these are a few of the visual learner’s favorite things. Information is absorbed by the eye, channeled down the optic nerve and processed into the brain’s vision center before travelling out to all the other important thinking spots between their ears. Pictures can be worth a thousand words and one word can paint a really detailed mental picture.
While visual learners can get a lot out of reading about far off places and things they have never heard of before, they should never limit themselves to simply learning from books. This week, explore visual learning with a few fun activities.
1) Find yourself a partner or two. Each of you should write a description of a silly monster. Make sure to use lots of adjectives and interesting nouns! Then trade descriptions with someone else in your group. Each of you should draw a picture of the monster that someone described with words. Once everyone had drawn all of the monsters, compare your pictures. See if you can match the pictures to the written descriptions.
2) Make a treasure map! Draw your living room as a map. Make sure to mark the hidden treasure with an X. Give your map to someone else so they can find the prize.
3) Make a pie chart to show your day. You can shape it like a clock. Draw a line from the center out to the time you wake up. Do you eat breakfast first? Draw a line from the center to the time you would finish breakfast. The line from waking up to ending breakfast will form a wedge. That wedge can be labeled “breakfast” or “waking up” or “morning things” depending on how you see that time. Each thing on your schedule will begin when the last one ends, so each thing you do will have its own wedge. Draw all of your lines and then label your wedges. You can color them in and decorate your page. Make sure to add special decorations to your favorite wedges!
4) Most towns and cities have special places. If you have a local visitor’s center, look through the information and find someplace that you've never been before. Read all about it! When you’re done, plan a trip to see the special spot. If you plan to do this often, make a scrap book of your travels that includes the brochures you first studied, and pictures from your visit. You can even write up a nice description of your day so other people will know how much fun you had!
5) As in the picture, choose one word and draw a picture that represents that word to the best of your ability. You may be surprised at how detailed your picture can become from just those few syllables.
Fiddlebug really wanted to build a snowman. The problem with his idea was that there was no snow for him to build one with. He thought as hard as he could, but couldn’t figure out how to make it snow outside. He asked Bart and Craig for their ideas, but they couldn’t think of anything that would make it snow either. Mother Dragon heard the three friends talking about their problem and came up with a great idea of her own that didn’t need any snow! She mixed up a batch of special clay and surprised her little dragon and his buddies with a way to make a snowman that will never melt away! You can have a Forever Snowman too. You have to be patient though; Forever Snowmen are a two part project and need a big person to help out! Here’s what you do:
What you need:
An old saucepan (pick one up that you never plan to use for cooking at a thrift store)
A long handled spoon
1 cup of sand
½ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cups hot water
Two small twigs
Toothpicks, pencils or other things to help mold and mark your snowman
What you do:
Remember, all hot parts and things on the stove should be handled by or closely supervised by your big person!
1) Mix sand, cornstarch and cream of tartar in the old saucepan.
2) Add hot water and stir.
3) Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is very thick and can’t be stirred.
4) When cooled enough to handle, form clay into three stacked balls to make a snowman. Form a carrot shaped nose and stick it to the snowman’s face. (Left over clay can be stored in an airtight container for later building.)
5) Press toothpicks, pencils or other tools into the clay and remove to leave imprints for eyes and a mouth.
6) Give your snowman arms by sticking the twigs into the middle ball on either side.
7) Carefully set your snowman on paper towels or a wire rack and put him in a safe place to dry. It will take him about a week to get dry enough to paint.
8) When your snowman feels like he’s made of stone, get out your paints and decorate him however you want! One of the best parts of Forever Snowmen is that they can look any way you want them to!
Fiddlebug and his friends were so excited about their Forever Snowman that they named him Sir Ned and set him by the castle in the playroom to guard the drawbridge. Fiddlebug, Bart and Craig know the castle is safe no matter how sunny and warm the day gets!
Mother Dragon wanted me to mention that this is a great project for permanent sand castles if you are going to the beach this year. What better way to save the memory than to build a Forever Sandcastle from sand you bring home from vacation!
Happy 2015! We are officially a week in. How is the new year looking so far? Are you ready for the adventure? Are you making amazing plans? Heck, are you staying warm? These are all important things at this time of year! Here at the Cassity House, we are tossing another log on the fire and putting one proverbial foot in front of the other after a nice couple of weeks spent outside of what passes for normal around here. The break was very needed. I'm sure you can understand!
So, what is in store for this year? Hopefully quite a few things to keep hands busy and brains growing. To start with, let's take a minute to talk about learning or, more specifically, how we learn. Did you know that everyone has a best way that they can receive and integrate new information? Some people like to read material. Some understand better when they hear directions and information. There are also those who learn best when they can have hands-on lessons. Most people fall into more than one category when it comes right down to it. Combinations of each form of learning enhance the experience to make lessons really stick.
Interestingly enough, everyone also has a worst way to learn. Often information received in this form slides right out of our brains because we simply can't grasp the concept in a way that makes sense to out own particular thinking processes. Often our brains simply tune out this form of input. When we are forced to learn in a manner that is difficult to process, the joy of learning disappears. Instead of reaching toward the next new concept, we claim we are bored or that learning is just too hard. My guess is that many students who struggle to pass classes do so not because they aren't "smart enough" to achieve better scores, but because they are attempting to learn in a way that does not suit their needs. This can lead to a lifelong avoidance of educational opportunities that dooms individuals to lower levels of achievement and robs our society of potential.
Over the next three weeks I would like to introduce you to the three main ways we learn. By understanding you and your child's best and worst ways to incorporate new information, you can begin looking at your educational plans from a new viewpoint. Whether you change how you teach in your homeschooling environment or add specialized tutoring to help your public schooled child better understand their homework, knowing different ways to teach any subject is sure to lead to a better overall educational outcome no matter how well things are already going.
This week, take a few moments to consider how you would prefer to learn how to put a bicycle together. Would you rather be left alone in a quiet environment to read the manual? Do you think it would be easy if someone read the directions to you while you listened and followed the steps? What about taking inventory of your parts and then putting them together by how they best fit or because you've taken a similar bicycle apart in the past and know how to reverse the process? Is there a combination of these options that sounds particularly good to you? Is there one that sounds like a terrible idea?
When you are done asking yourself these questions, ask your child. See how your answers compare. If you have more than one child, compare their answers as well. This whole exercise can be very enlightening. For instance, I happen to really like reading directions and find myself daydreaming often when I have music playing. My youngest tends to do better when he has his hands in the problem with music playing in the background. He gets easily distracted while sitting still in the quiet. If I were to insist that he put the bicycle together my way, he would spend most of his time completely distracted and making less progress than if he were to be able to embrace his preferred method. (Please note: online schooling programs are heavy on reading and quiet... It's a battle, people; A BATTLE. And it's not my battle to fight which makes it that much harder as a parent.)
While you do that, I'm going to put together some fun ways to explore the ways we learn. I hope you will take a few minutes to share your thoughts as we play our way to some handy new knowledge!
This time of year is rough on birds that don’t migrate south to escape the colder weather. If you live in a cold area, this gift will be especially appreciated. If you live in a warm place, have no fear! The birds will love this gift any time of year. Mother Dragon makes these for her feathered friends after Christmas each year as a special treat. She likes to set them in a feeder outside her kitchen window so she can see their bright colors in all the winter whiteness. What a great way to make everyone happy!
Here’s how you can make some for your own bird cookies:
What you need:
Dehydrated Orange Slices OR Plain Sugar Cookies OR Toasted Bread Cut into Holiday Shapes
Peanut Butter **optional**
Dry Fruit (raisins, cranberries, dry bananas, etc.) **optional**
Chopped Nuts **optional**
What you do:
1) Mix softened shortening, peanut butter, bird seed, dry fruit and chopped nuts in mixing bowl. This is fun to do by hand, but a little messy!
2) Spread or heap this mixture onto your dry orange slices, cookies or toast. This is ALSO fun to do by hand, but a little messy! (Remember to wash your hands after this step.)
3) Sing a nice winter song while you add these wonderful bird cookies to your feeders.
4) Watch at your windows for colorful feathery visitors to stop by for a treat. You may even end up with a furry squirrel or two!
Being a homeschooling parent for 13 years and an independent author/illustrator makes a person learn quite a bit about a lot of things. Now it's time to pass it on!