Using The Thinking Tree journals at Homeschooling6. Our way may not be your way and that’s absolutely alright and a good thing. Each homeschooling family is unique.
No cookie-cutter homeschooling means there is no right or wrong way to use your journals =)
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This week with the boys I had them choose 4 books from their stack. I thought it would be easier for them to actually finish a book. Choosing up to 9 is great because of the variety but it was a bit hard for my boys to focus.
So they still have their nine books but during the week they concentrate on 4.
Sometimes my boys just need a mama boost. My boys are in “Let’s get this done fast” mode. I’m trying to teach them not to rush through their school work just to get it done. I want them to enjoy learning. Take it slow, smell the pencils, see the paper, and create, write, and have fun!
Here are some pages from Brent’s journal. He’s using the Eclectic Learners Journal.
Before, Brent was drawing sloppy stuff so he could move on and hurry to finish. I said, uh-uh. I told him how important it is to slow down and really work hard, take your time, do this unto the Lord.
I thought his horse came out pretty good here.
I have sat with all my journal users and explained that they are allowed to get a book on nature and draw it. What they draw doesn’t have to be from outside. As long as they do their best. I’d prefer them to go outside and look for nature but all my boys see is a tree, clouds, grass, and houses. This is fine but they are drawing the same thing every day and not putting their best effort into it.
I do hope that they will look closer at God’s creation, look, seek, and find something in nature to draw but again, right now I’m okay with them using books.
Remember mamas, the curriculum is here to guide us. We are not slaves to it. If the nature page works better having my boys draw something from a book, I’m okay with that.
I have boys, so many of the pages are going to be of combat. I’d love to see something different but it is what it is and it’s okay. I’m praying that my boys will put more details into their free page.
I’d love for them to draw something other than war. I want to see what they are interest in. If they love dogs, draw a scene with a dog. If they are into Legos, rocks, artifacts, etc. I want to see that.
Right now Brent wants to go to the army so many of his pictures are of battles and I’m oaky with that too but I will ask the Lord to get Brent’s creative juices flowing as well!
Caleb is copying a lot of his spelling words in cursive because he writes more neatly that way. At the end of the day I’ll ask him to read the words he wrote. Sometimes he has trouble reading the word in cursive. Other times he doesn’t even know what he wrote!
Yesterday I suggested that he write the word in print on the left and on the right write the same word in cursive. If he’s not sure how to read or pronounce the word, he is to punch the word into an online dictionary and listen how it’s pronounced.
I also suggested for now, that he write his words from his spelling book: Spelling Time. Once he completes Spelling Time he can go back to finding words with 8 letters, 5 letters, and so forth.
He liked both of my suggestions. We are okay if his Spelling Time is not exactly what he suppose to do per his journal.
My boys need a helping – creative hand so I’ve given them some other ideas.
For instance with the Draw a Meal Plan I told them why not draw YOUR dream meal! If you could pick your meal, what would it be? And by pick their own meal I mean the sky is the limit. Pretend like we could afford whatever you want (like shrimp daily). Brent loves shrimp but it’s not something we buy often.
What a wonderful way for me to find out what foods my boys enjoy. Another idea I gave them was to search and see what others eat. If they lived in Germany what would their meal plan look like or in Mexico or even other parts of the country or time period. If we are studying about the Life of Jesus, what did his meals look like.
What did missionaries like Gladys Aylward or George Mueller eat? Find out and draw their meal plan!
I thought my boys journals needed a mama’s touch. When they weren’t looking I took their journals and added some color and notes. I want to make their notebooks a treasure.
When they open their journals, hopefully they’ll know how special they are to me.
Here is Ethan’s journal, he’s currently using The Library Based Curriculum Journal for Boys. In his journal I penciled in some lines and added a splash of color. I hope he likes it. He did request that I add lines. I know he’s old enough to put lines in himself but this is something I want to do.
I know this is suppose to be fun & delight directed but again, sometimes my boys need a little help. Brent was not even writing complete sentences and his writing was very sloppy. I gave him some some ideas but I didn’t see him improve any. Every time I’d check is journal the Reading Time part was sloppy and not thought out. I could tell he was rushing through the assignment.
Now I put post-it notes to give some direction. And at the bottom of his pages I leave encouraging notes like, “I love you Brent” or give ideas like, “What is your favorite animal?”. He doesn't have to draw it but at least we are communicating. Brent is very quiet and many times when I verbally ask him a question he shrugs his shoulders. It makes my mama heart sad when he doesn’t want to answer a simple question.
Here’s a page from the Christian Family Homeschooling Curriculum journal. Caleb was not even reading the pages! When I’d ask him at the end of the day if he read it he would give me a cheapish grin and say, “No”.
Now I write something at the bottom. I ask him to highlight what verse he appreciated most. Later I’ll ask him why or talk to him about it.
This page is also from the Christian Family Homeschooling journal. I want my kids to naturally add more to this page but I know for now I need to help so I asked a question, “What can we learn from this creature?”. I told Caleb he doesn’t have to write a whole lot, just bullet point or add words around the ant.
He knows that he’s to color it but I want him to go above and beyond. There are so many opportunities to learn using these journals. I want to unlock their creative side.
Now Annette on the other hand doesn’t need help from me to explore other interest. She’s been loving her Book of Useless Information. She’s diving in with gusto! In this picture she’s examining her mama’s fingerprint. More on that in another post.
As you can see my kiddos sometimes need a bit of help with being creative and a helping hand to see how they can and should go above and beyond with their education.
Right now this is how we are using The Thinking Tree journals and may I stress again, “It’s Okay” =)