August 15, 2011

Supplementing Traditional Academics


Like many of you, I try to incorporate the gospel in many different aspects of our family life. Once we started homeschooling, I imagined the easiest route to do this would be to take the resources of the world (geology books, math websites, etc.) and sprinkle in gospel principles wherever I could. Imagine my surprise when I realized that you could do the same thing, but in REVERSE! It may be obvious to you, but when I realized that you could take a gospel resource and sprinkle in traditional academics- I was floored!

We decided to test it out and experimented with The Friend magazine. In this month's issue of The Friend, they had historical facts about 1927 (the year President Monson was born) and a fun "Warm Fuzzies" craft for a rainy day. In fact, just a few weeks ago we were able to use a recipe from June's Kitchen Crafts section (Fruit Sushi!) while we were studying Japan. It made it extra special for my kids because the idea came from "their magazine."

Here are some other super simple ideas that I have found useful in several different subjects:

Compare and contrast the different styles of art in the illustrations throughout the magazine. We try to answer simple questions like "Does this artist use solid colors or shading?" or "Is this a realistic drawing or more like a comic book?" etc. Older children can answer more in depth questions like guessing what medium the artist used (paint, pencils, etc.). On a different note, you can also submit your own art to "Our Creative Friends" (instructions are in the back of each magazine).

Spend a few minutes identifying colors, numbers, or other simple words from the magazine in a foreign language. Once you have the basics down, try having them summarize the story in 1 or 2 sentences in that same language. You can also subscribe to (or find online) the children's section of The Liahona and read entire articles in the language of your choice there.

When children write in to The Friend (Friends in the News, Friends by Mail, Our Creative Friends, etc.), we read what they have to say or look at what they drew and then find where they live on a map. This is a super simple way to ease into geography. You can also do this while reading the stories. We find where the story took place on a map (pioneers in Wyoming, a family in Sweden, etc.) or make good guesses as to where it could have happened if it doesn't specify- just for fun!

The Friend prints many true stories from history, as well as historical fiction. We point to when they happened on our timeline or talk about the events that took place during that same time period.

We cut up the oldest magazines and use the various title fonts to reinforce letter recognition. We use these mismatched letters to form simple words and reinforce the idea that there are lots of ways that each letter can be written, but no matter how it looks, an A is still an A.

I have younger children, so the math we use is pretty simple. We work on number recognition with page numbers (What number is this? 47!) and addition/subtraction with the page numbers as well (We're on page 7. If we go back 2 pages, what page will we be on? 7-2=5). We also look up the scriptures that they quote for number sequencing (Alma 36...37... 38! Here's Alma 38). And our FAVORITE math activity is figuring out the measurements and fractions in the Kitchen Craft recipes!

Older students can practice reading the sheet music they print by singing a cappella or playing the songs on the piano. You can also listen to them online and even watch the music videos for most songs.

As obvious as it is, read the magazine out loud as a family (or listen to the stories online). Have your child read to you. Children's magazines are perfect for (wait for it...) READING! There are lots of pictures, the stories are relatively short, and they even identify and define some of the longer words right in the magazine!

Anyone can submit poems to Our Creative Friends or write thoughts about the magazine to Friends by Mail. This is a great way to get kids to polish their writing! You could also use the journaling ideas to practice informal free flow writing, handwriting, or just to get a good journal habit formed!

Are there any other ways you use The Friend at your house? My kids and I would love to hear your ideas!

Kristen is a mother to three young children. Their homeschooling adventures tend to lean toward the unschool side, with aspects of more traditional homeschooling styles coming and going as needed. The fluid, child-led learning style is perfect for her family because she plans to introduce her children to lots of God’s creations as they travel and (hopefully someday soon) live abroad. You can follow her various successes and failures on her blog, Mundo Classroom.

8 comments - Add a comment below -:

Christina said...

Wow you came up with a lot of ways to use the church magazines. I've been using them as a Reading, Writing, and Story Summarizing activities. But You gave me a ton of more ideas I plan on implementing. Thanks for your post today. It will definitely help my homeschool planning and progress.

Dana ♥ said...

Loads of great ideas! thanks so much!

Eve said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I agree--it was so neat when I discovered how to start from the gospel viewpoint and then add in academics. Kept my focus where I needed it.

Coombs Family said...

I hope you all don't mind if I just toot my own horn for a quick second...for those of you who have the August 2011 issue of the Friend that's pictured in this blog post, look on pg. 18-19 and that's my daughter, Carlene, and our family. It might be nice for some of you to point her out to your children & tell them that she & her siblings are homeschooled. I really wanted them to put something in the article about homeschooling, but they didn't. :(
Anyways, I just had to share!
Lisa in UT

Jen said...

We def need to use ours more....thanks for the inspiration, and we just finished Japan...fruit sushi would have been awesome! Now to find what my kids did with it! lol

Mrs. H said...

We love using The Friend in our school!
Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

The Osborne's said...

My little one love to read the friend, but usually reads it alone or we use it for FHE. I love these ideas especially the geography idea! Thanks for sharing!

mahani said...

Thank you so much for your ideas. Our daughter, Emma (6 yrs. old), is a homeschooler. She loves her Friend magazine! We look forward to her new school year. So glad you shared your ideas.