Teaching My Children ASL at Home

For years I have been looking for a way to learn American Sign Language together as a family. I know that at some point my boys will need to learn a foreign language and I really love the idea of learning ASL. When they were babies I did a little baby signing with them: milk, more, eat, help. Sadly once they started talking I stopped learning and teaching them signs.

Recently I was introduced to DawnSign Press a company that helps you learn to sign in a very natural way.  They graciously sent us a copy of  The New Little Red Riding Hood and The New Goldilocks and the Three Bears to try out with my boys and we LOVED them both!

Are you looking for a way to add American Sign Language to your homeschool day? Come see what resource is making learning ASL easy, fun and great for the whole family! ©Monika Wisniewska | Dollar Photo Club

Learning American Sign Language with Once Upon a Sign DVDs

Each DVD has two parts. The main part of the DVD is the actual story. Your kids can watch as Little Red makes her way to grandma’s house and meets the wolf.  The actors all sign and there’s a voice over to help translate what’s being signed.

Once the story is completed (about 20 minutes) the second part of the video goes over some of the main signs that were used. This is the teaching part of the DVD.  One by one the actors go over the sign giving your child time to practice.

Take a look at the trailer for Little Red Riding Hood:

Why Once Upon a Sing is Great for My Family:

I was very impressed with the quality of these DVDs and how easy they are to use and to learn from.  Here are some of the things that really stood out to me:

  1. Great for multiple ages! One thing that I’m always looking for is resources that I can use with all of my children.  These DVDs are great for my older boys and I love that in a few years my little guy can use them as well.
  2. Deaf actors teaching the signs: When it comes to foreign language I have always been told that it’s best to learn from a native speaker. I love that the actors in these DVDs are deaf. My boys were able to see the different signs but also other things like facial expressions and using their whole body to convey emotions.
  3. Using familiar stories: My boys were able to pick up on a few signs right away because they were familiar with the story. They didn’t have to watch to learn the story and the signs. Beacause they knew these tales well they could pick up on how different words were signed as they were repeated throughout the story.  They also started looking for signs of words they knew would be in the story (like “wolf” or “baby bear”).

If you are looking for a resource for your family I highly recommend that you check out the Once Upon a Sign series.  It’s been a great way to introduce ASL to my boys and to motivated this homeschool mom to keep learning more and teaching my boys as well.

Be sure to keep up with DawnSign Press on Facebook and Twitter. And check out the Facebook page for Once Upon a Sign.


Teaching Geography with Literature

I already shared how I’m keeping geography simple for my boys this year.  I wanted to share one more way that we are enjoying geography but still keeping things manageable and fun: literature!

My boys love looking at maps. I have a few wall maps in the dinning room and they are always looking for different places. I noticed that whenever we would read a book they wanted to know where it was on the map.  Often there were no maps because it was a fictional story so I ended up searching the internet for maps for them. We had fun tracking Growly’s journey through three books, and drawing a map of Narnia as we traveled on the Dawn Treader and even followed our friends through the Hundred Acre Wood.

This post is sponsored by Bright Ideas Press

Are you struggling to make geography relevant to your children? One way that I have found to keep homeschool geography revelant, fun and still simply is with literature. Come see what books we're using this year!

©Valua Vitaly | Dollar Photo Club

Teaching Geography with Literature

We had a lot of fun working on maps from our fiction books but for this year I wanted to try something different. After looking around at a few options I settled on the Hollings C. Hollings books.  These stories are great with lots of details and have been a great addition to our lessons.  I love that the geography work is already written into each story. All I have to do is print off a map.

How We Use Hollings C. Hollings Books

In the spirit of keeping things simple I didn’t want to make things too complicated.  We have three steps that we use for our literature  based geography work.

  1. Read the book: each week I read a few chapters of the book with the boys
  2. Narrate: My boys narrate what I’ve read
  3. Mapwork: We pull out our maps of the area of the US that the book talks about and label places, rivers, oceans and track the journey of the main character.
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Each book focuses on a specific part of the country. Here’s what we are working on this year:

  1. Paddle: Great Lakes
  2. Tree in trail: Sante Fe Trail
  3. Seabird: Pacific Island (or Hawai’i/the Sandwich Islands)

With Wondermaps I can easily print off a map to go with each story to add to my boys portfolio.  A fun and easy way to learn about different parts of our country and practice some of our map skills. Don’t forget to print off a map for mom too!

WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press


Creating a Homeschool Schedule that Works for You!

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is lesson planning. Yes I’m weird like that.  I love makings lists and filling out calendars. I know not everyone thinks the same way though.  Truth is that creating a homeschool schedule is part of what must be done if you are going to have a successful year.  You do need a plan so that you can have a sense of direction during the year.

I’m going to walk you through the basic steps that I use to plan our entire year. Yes I plan for the year and no it doesn’t take a very long time. You can use the following steps to plan as much or little as you need to for your family. Each circumstance is different but the method still works the same.

Planning a homeschool schedule and lesson plans can be a daunting task. It doesn't have to be. You can plan for as long as a year or as short as a week without losing your mind. I'm sharing some easy to follow steps to help you out. Perfect for all homeschooling families, especially single moms and work at home moms!

©St22 | Dollar Photo Club

Creating a Homeschool Schedule

1. Vision and Goal Setting

The first step in creating a homeschool schedule is casting a vision: This includes creating a mission statement for your homeschool. I love this because it helps you to focus on what is important for your family. It could be subjects you want to cover or the experiences you want your children to have. Creating this mission statement will help you stay on track as you go through your year. It’s also something that you can pull out and read on those days when you are ready to throw in the towel.

It’s also important to take some time to set goals for your homeschool. Take some time and think about what you’d like to accomplis this year. Are there books you want to read, skills you want your children to learn or curriculum that you want to use? Write these down.  These goals will come in handy as you create your schedule, choose curriculum and evaluate progress.

If you need some help creating a roadmap for your homeschool this free webinar is a great place to start.

2. Yearly Plan

The second step is figuring out your big picture: Now don’t panic when I say yearly plan! You don’t have to write out a year’s worth of lessons plans. You just want to get a basic of idea of what your year will look like. What subjects are you going to cover and what days are you going to homeschool. Here’s a video of how I figure out our yearly calander. And here’s a free planning kit to get you started!

3. Quarterly Planning

Once you have a basic outline of your year it’s time to tackle some quaterly planning! I like to just simply take the yearly plan that I created in step 2 and break it down into quarters.

4. Weekly Planning

Then I take my Quarter plans and break then down further into weekly plans. These can be as general or specific as you need. I like used to write very detailed lesson plans now I like to have a basic outline of what we will work on each week.  I include the topics that we will cover each week but generally leave specifics like math, reading or spelling lessons out. It’s enough to just note that we will work on those topics during the week. I can also go back and fill in specifics later once I see what we actually get done.

5. Scheduling Your Day

The last step is to take those weekly plans and break them down into daily plans.  For us block scheduling works best. I like have one day a week to focus on one of our multi-age subjects.

How do you like to plan your homeschool schedule?

Plan Your Year Banner

For more posts about scheduling check out this link up from iHomeschool Network!

"Not" Back to School Blog Hop 2015