Creating Roman Mosaics for Art and History

We have been studying Ancient Rome for our homeschool history, and decided to experiment a little with Roman Mosaics.

Our first experiment involved pieces of construction paper that we cut into tiny squares.  We filled them in a little haphazardly onto a piece of paper I'd hastily drawn a ship on.  It was fun and gave the kids the basic understanding of what a Mosaic consisted of.

But after some thought, I decided to create a more carefully planned Mosaic project for us (and for you!) in order to practice mosaics in a more mathematical, planned way.  This packet is for sale in our store, but let me run through it here, so you get an idea of what it takes to complete. 

There are three options for kids to choose from in the packet.  My daughter chose the Roman flower.  My son chose the Roman Ship.  Each child who is planning on completing a mosaic will need two sheets:  their design page, and the sheet that contains the tiles or "tesserae" that they will need in order to fill in their design.

There was a lot of scissor cutting involved.  I helped my five year old daughter to cut out her tesserae.  I'm not sure this would be the best craft for every five year old.  My daughter leans toward the artsy side and she enjoyed this immensely, but I actually set the age rating on this packet for 5th, 6th and 7th.

My son cut out ALL of his little tiles before he began gluing.  I'm not sure this was the best way to go.  The Roman Ship Mosaic is probably the hardest of the three options and involves the most tesserae.  But, he was determined with his system and kept all tiles of a color together in small piles as he cut the rest.

The Roman Flower has three different varying shades of pink or red, and there is a legend which explains which letter on the design goes to which color.  "Wine" or "W" was for the darkest red.  "Pink" or "P" is for pink, the lightest, and "R" or "Rose" is for the medium shade of pink.  So, you can work in a bit of color vocabulary with your lesson, which might be helpful.

We used regular, generic old glue-sticks and it worked just fine.  I do recommend card-stock for your print-outs to make it a tad easier for the tesserae to be picked up and glued down.

The tiles are small, but it looks so nice as the designs start to come together!

And the finished designs are beautiful and yet help convey the time and effort that it must have taken the ancient Romans to complete their own intricate works.

Check out our latest store addition:  Roman Mosaics for Art and History!  And share with us in the comments, how you explore Ancient Rome in your supplements and activities.

So You Finished "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" - What's Next?

There are many great phonics programs out there that assist in the early reading process.  We love this one by Distar:  "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons".

We have created many supplemental packets for helping your child stay engaged throughout the program and help liven it up with activities and crafts.  But here's the question I often hear from customers:

"We finished the program!  Now what?"

 So I'm going to take a moment to share what I have learned works well once you have finished this program.  These ideas might be helpful for other reading programs, too.  But this particular post is tailored to "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons".

BOB BOOKS:  In another blog post, I have mentioned the helpful BOB books.  These are not only helpful during the program but as supplemental reading materials after the fact, as well.

EARLY READERS:   One of the best things to do once you have completed the program is to get your child reading small books that they can find success at reading.  There is an entire section in your local library dedicated to these books.  It is called the "Easy Reader" or "Early Reader" section.

I found that my son had created an assumption in his head upon finishing the program:  somehow, he believed the only book he could read from, was the "Teach Your Child to Read" book.  So I needed to get him reading very easy readers to give him confidence to try reading outside of his comfort zone.  Let me share with you some of our favorite Early Readers:

These are the "Elephant & Piggie" books by Mo Willems, a brilliant children's author.  My kids love them.  We have checked out every one of these at one time or another.  I usually read them first out loud (if I can get to them first) and we all giggle over them together.  Then, my son pours over them on his own, and eventually is reading them out loud to his sisters.  Sometimes, I have him keep track of the books he reads with a Reading Log.

READING LOG:   Reading Logs are great when children are just discovering they can, in fact, read.  They are logging the books they have read, concretely.  Most Reading Logs require the child to print out the title of the book they have read, the name of the author and illustrator.  Some ask for the number of pages read and there's usually a place for the child to draw a picture from the book.

I eventually created my own Reading Log because we finished the one I had purchased.  There are many nice Reading Logs you can use, and it is good to vary them if you can, so your students don't get too bored with the daily practice.  I tried to create one that included all my favorite parts and gave the kids room to doodle or color if they wished.   There are several pages as options, some in color and some in black and white.  Plus, it's a Freebie in my store.  So, please, take advantage of it to get you started. 

But what about additional follow-up?  In "Teach Your Child to Read...",  the program makes silent letters small and therefore easily recognizable as silent letters.  They become easy for the children to ignore in this way, and I think it is a strength in beginning reading.  However, it is also something that needs to be addressed with a later program.

As the children get older, they might require a bit more reinforcement on the phonics rules regarding some of these silent letters.   For instance, let's spend a little extra time covering that when you see "ea" together, it almost always makes the long e sound.  Or, when you see a C-V-C word with an "e" at the end, the "silent e" almost always makes the vowel say its own name. 

CHALL-POPP PHONICS :  Let me suggest one of my favorite next level phonics programs:  The Chall-Popp Phonics series.

The Level A book (seen above) is very easy, very basic, a reinforcement of capital and lower case letters and sounds.  You *could* skip level A, if you believe your child has a solid mastery of the "TYCTR in 100 EL" program.  If you want a little reinforcement on the names and writing of capital letters and lowercase letters, then start here.  It doesn't hurt your child to spend some extra time here, and they will develop quite a bit of confidence as most of the activities will be quite easy. 

With my younger Kindergartner, I decided to take the time to do it while she was also in process on the "Teach Your Child to Read" program.  I like her having pages to do with ease.   And I like reinforcing her knowledge.  She can confidently have added practice before entering into the next level.

Most children will be ready to jump right into Chall-Popp, Level B (generally considered a 1st grade level).   Here you will get the added reinforcement of those phonics rules that cover silent letters and how we say sounds.  This will give the added practice needed.

WRITING:  The next thing to focus on is writing.  Have your student practice writing in just about any form, and every day.  If your student is not able to enjoy the creativity stretch of coming up with his or her own creative ideas to write about, consider buying some grade level appropriate writing prompts.

First up is this lovely Seasonal Bundle of Writing Prompts from the TpT store, Miss Martin's Classroom

These would be an excellent introduction of writing for our students who have just finished the "Teach Your Child to Read" program. 

They have a few lines for text and attractive images for kids to color or decorate as they would like. 

Miss Martin's Classroom has many writing prompt options to choose from. 

You can try out a small packet of one season, or purchase a larger bundle.  This one that I chose to show as an example is obviously for the four seasons.  Again, a perfect starter for next year!

Here's an awesome set from another TpT store for encouraging Narrative Writing

These great writing packets can be found at Raise the Bar Reading.

You will want to check out her preview for this particular bundle to get a closer look at everything included in this 76 page packet. 

When your child is ready to take that step into writing stories beyond one or two sentences, THIS is the bundle that will offer everything you need to help teach how to plan, form and begin writing narrative. 

If you're student is home-schooling, another great writing activity would be to find another homeschooling student for a pen-pal, so two students can write snail-mail letters back and forth.  Writing becomes very relevant to young children in this way, and besides:  it's so fun for them to get a letter addressed to their own name show up in the mailbox!

I try to vary what I use for writing, to keep interest high, because I have found there to be a bit of complaining about having to practice this new skill, at first.  But it is so important!  
Writing and honing the confidence of writing in students is an important facet of the reading process.

SIGHT WORDS :  And lastly, I like to use Sight Word practice to heighten fluency and practice of those basic little words.

 Here are a couple of games and activities that can be done with Sight Words from the TpT store,  Just Ask Judy.

Getting children to do activities like rolling dice and graphing their sight words is wonderful for mixing it up.  Printing sight words is fine, but how much more fun to make a game out of it? 

This has over 99 pages and is chock full of games with high frequency words (sight words). 

You can get a taste of it with this FREEBIE:  "Spot the Difference Free Sampler" 

These Sight Word Freebies are incredibly helpful to try out, because you don't always know what will work best for your particular student.

Some students might also respond to creative activities, such as in this "Sight Words Free" by Cherry Workshop.

But giving students plenty of opportunities to try a variety of activities, will just reinforce the sight words all the more.

Be sure to leave a "Thank You" in the form of a nice review for these teachers who are sharing their tried and true methods with you.

They will appreciate it so much!

This should be enough to get you started.  If you have additional ideas or favorite products that you love to use after your students have completed the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" program, please share it in the comments.  

How to Teach the Letter A

   The time has come to introduce my youngest daughter to the alphabet.

   Being the youngest, she has grown up watching her older brother and sister do their schoolwork and has been chomping at the bit for awhile, even though she is only three years old.

   There is no right or wrong age to begin teaching your preschool child early reading skills.  It has a lot to do with the individual child and their eagerness and excitement to learn.  All the same, while our letter of the week packet has a lot to offer three year old's, they definitely cannot do all the activities in it by themselves, as yet.  But let's look at what a smaller child can do.

   With young children, there are so many ways for them to experiment with letter-sound relationships.  The way I like to begin teaching the letters, is with a story.

   Let it be known, I didn't coach her to cry when the kitty "disappeared", but this does demonstrate one of the reasons why I use a friendly animal character to accompany children on their alphabet journey.  Glimmercat helps children to learn because young children love familiarity and routine in the midst of newness, and this is exactly what this friendly kitty establishes.

   So, I introduced my daughter to Glimmercat and shared the first story of how Glimmercat slipped off the letter A on her way to pick apples, and now she had a solid mnemonic introduction to the sound of aaaaa (short a).  At that point, she was ready for flash cards.

   There are only four flashcards in our Letter of the Week packet.  We try to keep it simple.

   I recommend letting children work together on these, after you first introduce them.  That way they are practicing "reading" the little words, connecting the letter words to the pictures, and feeling just a little important about all their knowledge in the process.  See what this looks like here:

Now that we have practiced our flashcards, there are millions of ways to learn just a little bit more about letter A...children will see and recognize it in street signs, they can cut the letter A out of magazines or junk mail, they can draw it in sand at the beach or in salt in a pan, they can point it out in the stories you read to them.

Speaking of stories, let's look at a few of the stories I love to read out loud and include in my letter A week!  I try to focus on one of the A subjects from our flash cards each day, so I have found fun children's books for each.

Feel free to print the above list out and keep it on hand the next time you go to the Library to check out some letter A books!

Interspersed with these books, you can purchase our Letter of the Week for A packet and print out easy crafts and activities for children that tie in perfectly with the subject areas in these stories.

Although some of the activities in this packet are intended for older children, (as mentioned) some will work perfectly with little ones, too.  Let's look at those!

This one above, is our Path of Motion Practice sheet.  I laminate this sheet (using clear contact paper from Dollar Tree) and then my daughter can use a dry erase marker to follow her arrows.  It's the perfect size for her small hands!

I believe it is important to teach the correct way to make letters from the beginning, but not at the cost of enjoying the writing process.  My daughter had several days of working on her letter A practice sheet.  Each time, I would remind her to follow the arrows.  Now she does the big letter "A" and the little letter "a" on her own, correctly.  And as you can see, she is able to do them perfectly:

We don't over-do this, by the way.  At age three, little ones can be done in five minutes or twenty.  My daughter is anxious to do "her work" because she watches her old brother and sister doing theirs.  To her, this makes "work" a delightful and exotic experience in her life.

We want to keep it that way for her!   Here's how we do that:  Crafts...

A is for Alligator

Simple Puzzles...

A is for Ant!

And anything Edible you can fit into your Letter Fun!

A is for Apples and Apple Pie!

As long as you fill your learning times with these engaging experiences, little ones will be able to handle more challenging attempts like this one with our Letter Maze that we modeled in our Teaching Lesson here:

Keep it fun!  Keep them coming back for more!  Children are already geared towards wanting to learn.  All we have to do is steer them in the right direction.

If you feel you need more concise or scripted lessons, those are also offered in our Letter of the Week packet, where we walk you through five days of fun learning experiences for each letter. 

Check out our store for more information about our Letter of the Week packet for A.

And feel free to share your own ideas in the comments...what do you love to include in your letter A curriculum?

Using Interactive Notebooks for Your History Study

I am really excited to share with you today's post, because I get to introduce you to another lovely Homeschool TpT creator, The Curriculum Mom!

The Curriculum Mom has created a fabulous Interactive Notebook that will work as a perfect supplement if you are using Story of the World, Classical Conversations or any other Ancient World curriculum for your History Study.

If you've never yet had the opportunity to use an Interactive Notebook, let me explain a tad about them.

An Interactive Notebook has been already set up with various activities, often involving cutting and pasting, and folding the paper into unique little places for children to take notes.  For instance, take a look at this page from The Curriculum Mom's product, "Bible and Ancient History, Daniel to Rome".   I love maps because it helps to set the various stories from history in their proper setting.  My son loves maps because....well, he just loves maps.   So, first he wanted to color the map in, showing land and water areas.

And then, we decided to highlight the areas that covered the Persian Empire during the reign of Darius I.  If you remember our former post, "Why You Need a History Timeline", you'll remember that we keep notes and pieces of items we work on, on our timeline.  Well, guess what:  this Interactive Notebook worked perfectly for adding in fun, little folding note pages on our Timeline!

This particular Interactive Notebook covers a ton of things that Story of the World, Volume 1 covers! So, there are pages for Cyrus, Alexander the Great, the Punic and Peloponnesian Wars, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar.  It also includes activities for the Jewish holidays, Purim and Hanukkah, and it covers the Biblical Daniel and Queen Esther.

I love the cute little pictures on the activities, because my kids love coloring.  Out came the fancy gel pens and the colored pencils.

And we began to fill in some of those spots on our History timeline, that we hadn't included before.

I was very excited when we reached Ancient Rome in Story of the World, because I couldn't wait to cover the Punic Wars and Hannibal.  And this Interactive Notebook has several fun foldables for this time period.  The Curriculum Mom actually has several other Interactive Notebooks that cover a number of different time periods, so you will want to check out her store to see everything she offers. 

As mentioned, maps are our thing, so we definitely cut out the one included that showed Rome and Carthage.  And then we got to read about Hannibal.

The Hannibal foldable that we chose included three sections for note-taking:  The Oath that Hannibal took as a youngster (to never be a friend of Rome), Hannibal's plan to defeat Rome (surprise them with elephants by land) and how Hannibal failed (Scipio attacked Carthage so that Hannibal had to leave).

Drawing pictures of pirate ships to remember Caesar's early victory in defeating them. 

My son is in first grade, and is ready for beginning note-taking, as you can see above.  But so that we didn't over-do it, we also experimented with drawing pictures that could also help us remember what we had learned.  So, I wanted to mention pictures here as an option for note-taking, because I realize we have some young kids starting out here, and you can still use these fun note-taking foldables for them, too!

The point is, to learn and have fun while doing it.  And as you can see by the large grin, that's what we're doing here!  Yay!

For more information about this awesome Interactive Notebook, head over to The Curriculum Mom and check out her store on TpT!  This is an excellent history supplement for many age levels!