Entries from June 2010 ↓

More puns, please


If you’ve enjoyed some of my previous “punnish” posts, here’s another batch to brighten your Thursday. Happy punning!

  • The mime wanted to say something, but he wasn’t aloud.
  • Pencils could be made with erasers at both ends, but what would be the point?
  • After working for 24 hours straight he called it a day.
  • A baker stopped making donuts after he got tired of the hole thing.
  • My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned because I couldn’t concentrate.
  • I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure…
  • Have you heard about that online origami store? It folded.
  • I recently spent money on detergent to unclog my kitchen sink. It was money down the drain.
  • Sir Lancelot once had a very bad dream about his horse. It was a knight mare.

The reality

Businessman typing

“You will be judged, for your entire life, on the basis of how well you write. If you write well, people will think you are smart. If you write poorly, they will think you are dumb. That is perhaps unfair, but it is the reality, and you might as well face it now.”

–Robert Pasnau

Summertime: No excuse for chaos

In the first part of this article, Beating the Summertime Blues, I gave you all sorts of ideas for keeping kids cool, collected, and occupied during that typically looooooong school break. Have you had a chance to try any of them yet? I hope so! Just remember that even if you homeschool year-round, it’s fun to take a breather and enjoy some of the pleasures of summer!

Fun for fun’s sake is … well, FUN! But today, let’s also talk about ways to maintain some semblance of order during the summer. Just because summer affords more freedom, it doesn’t have to become a free-for-all!

Productive Projects

A Time for Routine

Summer is no excuse for chaos. Most kids thrive on routine, so try to keep a schedule. Assign regular chores, for example. Don’t let the kids sleep till noon. And expect them to be productive. We all want our children to be servant-hearted, right? This summer, help them discover the joy of ministry. For starters, make decorations for a nursing home. Volunteer at VBS. As a family, weed an elderly neighbor’s flowerbed or serve a meal at a homeless shelter or park.

A Time for Projects

Summer is also the perfect time to tackle things you can’t seem to get to during the year. Paint the bedrooms. Plant a garden. And don’t forget some structured activities too. Could you teach your children to crochet, bake, sew, or work with wood? How about including crafts, merit badges, 4-H projects, and yes, even schoolwork, in your summertime plan of action?

A Time for Skill-Sharpening

This doesn’t mean you have to pull out the math books. But do look for ways to keep kids on their toes with word puzzles, skill drills, and lots of reading. A quick Google search will yield all sorts of online skill-sharpening activities. Supervised, kids can also explore outer space, ancient Egypt, or a rainforest by visiting quality educational websites.

Creative Writing

Fun Writing Activities

Of course, don’t forget to throw in some writing for good measure. We’re not necessarily talking about full-blown compositions. Journals or diaries help youngsters record their experiences, dreams, and ideas. Letters to grandparents and missionaries bless the recipients and give practice in penmanship and prose.

Consider other assorted writing activities. With a little encouragement, your children can write and produce a play or radio drama, design colorful posters, or create travel brochures for places real or imagined.

If your school-year writing is fairly structured, let summer include more tall tales and stories. Search the Internet for “writing prompts” and let the fun begin!

Round Robins

Gather together after dinner and write round robins: Give each person, even Dad, a different prompt and set the timer. Every three minutes, pass papers clockwise and continue adding to the story that’s before you. When Mom says it’s been long enough, everyone should conclude the tale in front of him. After reading each story aloud, celebrate your authors with a plate of brownies.

Writer’s Treasure Box

Here’s a fun idea: Keep a Writer’s Treasure Box stocked with odds and ends from around the house, such as shells or rocks; game pieces; old eyeglasses, jewelry, or accessories; magnifying glass; newspaper; CD; scraps of luxurious and everyday fabrics; and magazine photos of scenery and people. Let each child choose three items from the box and begin developing a story, either written or oral, featuring those items. When they run out of steam, they pick something new from the box and continue spinning their tales.

Entertaining your family doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. When summertime rolls around, the livin’ can be easy if you have a plan in place. Include a bit of R and R, something wet and wild, and a few fun family times. You’ll approach the new school year renewed, refreshed, and ready to roll.

But while it’s here, do enjoy the season— even if you can’t find the frog.

From “Beating the Summertime Blues”
Copyright © 2006 Kim Kautzer
Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Summer 2006. Used with permission.

Intro to editing and evaluating writing

Ways to give your kids writing feedback, plus tips to help you overcome insecurity and doubt about editing and evaluating their writing lessons.

Grading and commenting on your kids’ writing is one of the most valuable elements of writing instruction. But it also gives the most grief to parents, who often feel unqualified to identify and evaluate written strengths and weaknesses.

Seeds of Doubt

A host of “ins” and “uns” seems to attack parents when it comes to writing, making us doubt our ability to edit and grade objectively. With regard to teaching or evaluating writing, do you ever use any of these words to describe yourself?

  • Insecure
  • Uncertain
  • Incompetent
  • Unsure
  • Inadequate
  • Unequipped

Many of us wear these monikers like millstones around our necks, allowing the weight of our insecurities to immobilize us. At worst, teaching and grading writing don’t happen at all, or at best we’re sporadic, leaving Mom feeling guilty and our children awash in frustration.

It’s not that we don’t think it’s important to give our children input. But don’t we all have excuses?

  • I’m afraid I’ll be too hard on my child.
  • I don’t know how to grade a paper—there’s too much guesswork.
  • What do I know about writing? I’m just a math-science person.

And heaven forbid Mom should set aside her worries and actually make a comment. The smallest hint of suggestion from you and the drama begins.

  • But I like it this way!
  • You’re always so critical.
  • You never like anything I write!

Myths about parent editing

As a parent, perhaps you simply don’t know how to give objective input. So either you don’t give feedback at all—and therefore see no improvement—or you offer suggestions that make your child feel picked on or rejected. To help you renew your perspective, let’s look at three myths about parent editing.

Myth #1 – Editing and grading writing are too subjective.

  • Fact: Learning to edit is a process for both student and parent.
  • Fact: Many aspects of a composition CAN be evaluated objectively.

Myth #2 – It’s too difficult to edit and grade writing.

  • Fact: The more you edit and revise, the easier it will become.
  • Fact: Familiarity produces recognition—you will catch on!
  • Fact: There are tools (rubrics and checklists) to help you.
  • Fact: You don’t have to find every mistake. Even addressing just a few errors can help your child’s writing begin to change course.

Myth #3 – Editing and grading writing is for professionals.

  • Fact: Many parents cannot find mistakes in their children’s writing—but you can improve your skills! If you feel weak in a particular area such as grammar or spelling, take a “crash course” to refresh yourself. Buy a second student workbook and study the subject alongside your kids.  Or, consider a resource like The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation to help you brush up on key rules.
  • Fact: You CAN learn to edit and grade. Programs like WriteShop Primary, WriteShop Junior, and WriteShop I are good examples of homeschooling products that guide and direct parents through the writing and editing process.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll not only gain tips and tools to make editing and grading easier for you, you’ll also learn ways to help your children participate in the process through self-editing and revising.

We’ll start next week with tips for Editing and Evaluating Writing: Grades K-3.

I also know that parents tend to panic more as junior high and high school draw near. So if you have older kids, you’ll be happy to know I’ve got you covered as well. Stay tuned!

Copyright 2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Is your child a budding novelist?

Ever heard of NaNoWriMo? Short for National Novel Writing Month, it’s an amazing writing event that takes place every November.

I love that NaNoWriMo also has a Young Writers Program that’s open to children 17 and under. The challenge? Pump out a novel in 30 days.

According to the website, “The only thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The high-velocity approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”

Free Resources

NaNoWriMo offers some great resources to help your students along their writing journey—“new and improved, 100% awesome, non-lame” Young Novelist Workbooks.

You can download the workbooks here absolutely FREE! Choose from:

  • Elementary Student Noveling Workbook
  • Middle School Student Noveling Workbook
  • High School Student Noveling Workbook

Ready for a crazy, roller-coaster November? Register here for the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program!

Street signs don’t have spell check

Does anyone else have the urge to pull out a bottle of white-out?

. . . . .

Stop by every 1st and 3rd Wednesday for a peek into the world of spelling, punctuation, or grammar gone wrong!

Beating the Summertime Blues

Beating the Summertime Blues by WriteShop

“Summertime … and the livin’ is easy.”

When George Gershwin penned those memorable lyrics, he pictured warm, languid days, fish jumping so high they fairly begged to be caught, and plump bolls of cotton bursting like popcorn in rich brown fields.

He never gave a thought to the homeschooling mother of five whose 2-year-old keeps standing in the toilet and whose dog just plowed through the newly repaired screen door. The only thing jumping at her house is the frog the 8-year-old let loose in his bedroom. There’s a month of schoolwork left but only a week in which to do it, because Mom has finally announced, “I don’t care what the teacher’s guide says—on June 14, we’re DONE.” She’s looking for a break, and summertime shimmers on the horizon like an alluring mirage.

Even if you homeschool year-round, everybody’s happy when Mom declares time off. Whether just for a week or till the September leaves start turning, a well-deserved vacation gives everyone a chance to regroup, at least for a little while.

As you cut up the first ripe watermelon of summer and look forward to a bit of a breather, do enjoy that juicy— albeit temporary—slice of paradise. It won’t be long before the chanting of the summer mantra begins: “Mom, there’s nothing to do!” So when boredom rears its lazy head and tempers rise along with the thermometer, it’s wise to have a strategy to keep the kids happy and maintain harmony in your home.

Mom Time

It’s easy to plan away the summer, filling the days with activities for your restless kids. Just remember: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Grammar issues aside, there’s a mountain of truth in those seven words. Refill your own empty cup so you have plenty to pour over your family when school starts up again.

Read a book. Who has time to read for pleasure during the year? Don’t let summer slip away without a satisfying novel under your belt. Stretch a hammock between two shady trees some lazy afternoon and indulge in a selection from your “I’ll read it someday” list. And just in case it should cross your mind, curriculum does not count!

Ask your husband or a trusted friend to occupy the children so you can go for a walk, work uninterrupted on a project, or take a needed nap. Or get away for a little while. Don’t even think about getting the dog groomed or dropping off the dry cleaning. I’m talking about refreshment! Bible in tow, enjoy a quiet time at the park. Browse a nearby book or fabric store. Window shop. Meet your sister for coffee.

For many women, a 30-minute retreat to the tub can multiply into hours of patient parenting later on. Grab a bath pillow, some fragrant salts, a glass of iced tea, and a favorite magazine or devotional and get lost among the bubbles. Whatever you do, don’t forget to post a “Do Not Disturb Under Penalty of Death” sign.

Ignore the notes the kids slip under the door.

And those little peanut butter- covered fingers wiggling under the crack? Ignore them too.

Outings and Activities

Why not turn your house into a cool refuge by playing board games or listening to books on tape as you sprawl out on the living room floor with the fan blowing? Set aside Wednesday afternoons for renting videos and whipping up chocolate milkshakes. Chairs, card tables, and sheets make a great fort. Build your fortress and enjoy a picnic under the dining room table.

Exercise is another great way to fill time productively. Kick a soccer ball around the yard, or hop on bikes or roller blades. Sign everyone up for a sports workshop or swimming lessons. Explore a nearby creek or hiking trail or simply traipse around the neighborhood.

Homeschool moms are pros at sniffing out good field trips … but why limit them to the school year? Fit in some outings to the zoo, beach, or city. Take in a children’s museum or look into special summer programs at other venues, such as a farm, botanical garden, or space center. Contact your fire or police department to arrange a tour. Don’t plan to go out every day, but do budget time for occasional treks to the library, movies, community pool, or pizza place.

Keeping Cool

How do you maintain your cool when the temperature takes an upswing? At home, pull out the hose and beat the heat by dousing your brood with a surprise squirt. Keep in mind that kids have long memories, so you probably shouldn’t turn your back on them anytime soon, if you get my drift.

You can bring a bit of winter to a sweltering summer day by visiting an indoor ice rink. For a cheaper chill-and-thrill, buy a couple of ten-pound blocks of ice and head to a grassy slope for some “ice blocking.” Simply set a towel atop the ice block, hop on, and whoosh! Off you go—sledding in summer!

And when you’re melting in the shade, there’s nothing like a frosty refresher to soothe irritable dispositions. Stir up a chilled pitcher of fresh-squeezed lemonade or treat everyone to frozen delights from the ice cream man. Even better, make smoothies, homemade ice cream, or floats.

(Next week, I’ll post Part 2 of this article, Summertime: No Excuse for Chaos, which will include some fun summer writing activities.)

Copyright  © 2006 Kim Kautzer
Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Summer 2006. Used with permission.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

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