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Thanksgiving, Electing America's Leaders, Foreign Languages

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, November 19, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 90 November 19, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Have a Great Thanksgiving!
Helpful Tips
-- Math Games Website
Resource Review
-- Electing America's Leaders
Reader Question
-- Foreign Language Tips?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

To those celebrating Thanksgiving this week with their families,
have a wonderful, joy-filled time!

If you are looking for craft and lesson plan ideas for this week,
here is the link to EasyFunSchool.com's Thanksgiving index:


We won't have an issue on Friday, due to the holiday, but I'll
see you next Monday!

Happy Thanksgiving --



Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

"A great website for all kinds of math is www.coolmath4kids.com
There are DOZENS of lessons on everything math. It also has
cool puzzles and games."

-- Monique, HomeschoolingBOYS.com group member


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

KONOS Electing America's Leaders
by Jessica Hulcy
For more info or to order: www.konos.com

With the presidential elections ahead of us and the debates
already starting, this might be a great time to do teach your
kids and young adults about the election process. Electing
America's Leaders from KONOS is a hands-on, nine to ten week
study designed to not only teach students about politics, but
to inspire them to get involved and stay involved in the process
as they become adults.

More than just a study of the electoral process, Electing
America's Leaders is a well-rounded study covering topics such
as: the history of our electoral process, the different types
of governments, the electoral college, the three branches of
the U.S. government, the process of electing a president (includ-
ing requirements for running for office), our two party system,
who can vote for president, the inauguration, daily presidential
activities, and more. Throughout the study, students are chal-
lenged to look at our leaders and those who would want to be
president through a Biblical worldview.

As with all KONOS unit studies, activities and assignments pro-
vide lots of opportunity for discovery and discussion. Students
get lots of ideas and inspiration to get involved in the election
process at a grass-roots level. Students from K-12 will benefit
from this study, and there are activities that fit each level of
learner, however upper elementary through high school will gain
the most benefit from this thorough, Biblical approach to being
a prayerful, active and involved citizen.

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I know we recently talked about this, but is anyone incorporating
foreign language in any way other than with the computer? I have
used the Reader Rabbit Spanish computer games, but I am wanting to
incorporate languages more in our life. Does anyone know of games
or other books to use -- and how do you incorporate that into their
daily life more?

I speak some Spanish but want to include French (which I do not
speak), so knowing the proper way to pronounce is tricky."
-- Michelle L. in Oregon

Our Readers' Responses

"You didn't mention the age of your children, but the best way
to learn the language is to have a time when that is all you speak
(unless there is an emergency that requires quick speaking and
translation.) When the kids were fairly young and didn't have
good language skills yet, I would help them look up the words in
the dictionary. As they grew older, I stopped helping them look
up the word, but would help with spelling issues.

If they are young, get the Dora movies. You can set language to
Spanish and that is what they will hear. Get cassette language
tapes (most libraries have them still) and listen to them when
you are in the car or during quiet times. (We are working on
Japanese this way). Depending on where you live, see if you can
find a restaurant or other place where they will hear the langu-
age being spoken by people who learned it early. For Spanish,
check out the Mexican restaurants in your area, unless you are
in the southern part of the US from Florida to California, then
go to the local area for the Mexican/Cuban population. Explain
you are learning their language and would like help practicing it
during the meal. Other ethnic restaurants or locations in your
area can and will do the same. I have learned that Sushi restaur-
ants in Michigan are not just a place to practice Japanese, but
any language from Asia. Our last waiter was from Korea, but spoke
Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese. He was also the
owner of the new restaurant and very interested to hear our 5
year old granddaughter greet him in two of the languages and say
thank you in 8 languages. (She listens to her aunts way too much.)

If all you can find are computer programs, get the ones that work
on pronunciation and conversation. It is fine to know the words,
but if you don’t know the grammar, it will only confuse the ones
you are trying to reach. Another thing my daughter just reminded
me of – Rosetta Stone is giving away language kits to libraries
who ask for them. If your library doesn't have them already have
them ask. I believe any language they have can be requested for
free; additional copies need to be asked for." -- Melinda


"We have done several languages through the years: Spanish, Latin
(our classical stage), and now we have a language explosion! I
have mostly high school and middle schoolers and they are choosing
which language they will study through high school. One chose
Japanese; another Korean (I'm learning with him); another French.
This one also tried Gaelic but abandoned it. My second grader is
getting a smattering of Swedish from a computer site because she
has a new aunt who is from Sweden.

For Spanish and French, which I studied in high school, I still
had enough facility and memory to teach them using a typical
textbook. I buy these very used or borrow from our local school
district. Always get the workbooks; the student needs lots of
repetitive practice. You may need to search on the internet to
obtain these.

Latin was a struggle for all, but we used Mars Hill and then

For high school level Japanese and Korean, which I didn't know
AT ALL, this is what I did: I found the website of a local uni-
versity which offers these courses. I obtained the faculty email
addresses, and emailed a professor in each language, asking them
what text they use for their first year students. They both
answered promptly and were very helpful. I then bought the course
materials USED and discounted on the internet! Make sure you have
access to listening materials with a language you don't know well!

The Korean has gone very well (It's an easier language to start
anyway because of its ingenious invented alphabet which one learns
very quickly.) Japanese has not been so easy, but we keep plug-
ging along. My real goal is to have them ready or more than
ready for a college course in their language when they get there.

Can you tell we love languages?" -- Madelyn


"People learn languages in different ways: either emersion or for-
mal instruction. We have chosen to wait on the formal instruction
until our children are older (teens), but we use a lot of differ-
ent things to expose them to languages from very early. I believe
there is research to suggest that exposing children at a young age
to various languages creates pathways in the brain, making it
easier to learn that language later on.

Because we live in Texas and have many Spanish-speaking neighbors,
we have chosen to concentrate on Spanish as our second language,
although we don't limit their exposure to Spanish only; we have
movies in French that we have watched as a family, and we enjoy
the Signing Time PBS series which teaches sign language with chil-
dren doing the signing and music.

We have used many informal means to teach our children Spanish.
And it's helpful that their playmates speak Spanish at home. We
have Muzzy I and II, a BBC production using cartoons and music to
teach language. Our library has lots of children's books in Span-
ish and in Spanish/English. Familiar books like the Berenstain
Bears and Dora the Explorer work well for us. I have several
child-friendly dictionaries/wordbooks that we like to play with.
I found these at Half-Price Books. Also, many of the movies on
DVD have a Spanish sound track. We've watched several Disney
movies in Spanish. (I just grabbed a Disney video, Cinderella III,
and it has both Spanish and French sound tracks included.) We
have the Reader Rabbit Spanish computer game and several other
Spanish-language computer games, but again nothing formal requiring
workbooks. I have looked at the more formal language instruction
like the Learnables, but at this point our children learn better
by doing and playing and interacting with me, not from workbooks,
so we've decided to wait for now.

Attending a Spanish-speaking church, listening to familiar music
and hymns in Spanish, reading the Bible in Spanish and the same
passage in English are other ways friends have used emersion to
learn Spanish. We've listened to music and read from the Bible,
but we don't attend a Spanish-speaking church.

I hope this gives you some ideas to use in your home." -- Belynda


"Michelle, we have used Power Glide for German, Latin, Italian,
French and Russian, and have been very pleased. Power Glide
seems to do best at accommodating all the learning styles, which
is important in our family, because we are all so different in
that area. We used The Learnables for Hebrew, and my daughter
did great with it, but the rest of us had serious struggles.
Learnables seems to work best for auditory learners.

Sometimes we have a period of time (two to four hours) in which
we must speak only the language we are studying. Sometimes we
designate that numbers, colors, greetings, or some other category
of words will be spoken only in that language for a whole day.
Tapes or CDs are great for learning pronunciation, if you can't
find someone who's native to the language. Be sure to have a
good English-French dictionary on hand, too. Car time is a good
time to study foreign language if you're using CDs; it's a way to
productively redeem the time in the car which is otherwise often

You might try to find a Bible in the language you're studying,
and learn Bible verses. They should be available through agen-
cies which supply Bibles to foreign countries, or through inter-
national book stores." -- Mary Beth


"This is my first year homeschooling my son (1st grade) and because
I'm Cuban American, I've seen first hand -- over and over again --
how speaking Spanish has opened doors for me that would never have
opened had I not been bilingual. So naturally, I too am interested
in exposing my kids to Spanish, French and even Portuguese. It is
so easy at this age because they are like sponges; they pick up so
much even if we dedicate just 10 minutes per day. I found an amazing
resource for kids and adults that does a great job with languages.
It's called Rossetta Stone. My public library actually had it avail-
able for free (we would access it from our home computers), but recent
budget cuts did away with that free program.

It was sooooo good that I am in the process of buying their Spanish
program (kind of pricey) and going half with my sister-in-law who
lives next door and homeschools her 3 kids. I believe I was told
that each program comes with two licenses, so it's legal to share the
cost with another family. (Be sure about this though.)

What I love about Rosetta Stone is that the child gets to hear the
word/phrase, read it, and spell it. They are 'graded' (in a fun way)
by the program itself, so there's no need for a parent to know the
language the child wants to study. The word or phrase is pronounced
properly in the foreign language. Then with their headset and micro-
phone, the child repeats the word/phrase back into the microphone,
hears how they did, and then gets 'graded' on how accurate their
pronounciation is! Same goes with the spelling of the word. Kids
and adults of ALL AGES love hearing themselves in the headset... and
before they know it, thirty minutes have gone by and they have had
some serious FUN learning the language! Even the teens have so much
fun doing this that they don't see it as laborious.

Kids will need no assistance from mom (because of the head/micro
component). You don't really need to supervise them. It gives me a
good 30 minutes per session where I do not have to be looking over
his shoulder, helping with pronunciation or picture identification.
It's independent, fun work.

French was my first language as a child -- but I've forgotten almost
all of it. That doesn't matter -- because with Rosetta Stone the
parent doesn't have to speak or know the language. I can't say enough
about it. Again, it is kind of expensive but you'll use it from
kindergarten through college. You'll only need to buy it once. The
graphics are great and very useful to real life situations. The child
has many options each session to choose from. They can practice
hearing the word, then they are 'graded' on how well they write the
word in that foreign language (the key board has that languages' pro-
per accents, additional alphabet letters and everything), how they
pronounce the word, and how well they match the audible word with the
visual picture. Hope that helps to spark the flame for foreign
languages! Who knows, your child's exposure to another language may
inspire their going on a missions trip one day. Maybe ask the grand-
parents to chip in as a family Christmas gift." -- Cristina

Answer our NEW Question

"Hi everyone -- I'm the mother of '3 under 3' and am consider-
ing what option to choose in a year or two when my oldest (boy)
is ready for preschool and kindergarten. I live in a small town
where the school is apparently very good and most of the teachers
are Christians (one major concern of ours is based on current
public school curriculum's atheistic bend). I'd like to home-
school, but we're hoping for at least 4 kids eventually and I'm
just getting a taste of how busy life is! Having my son out of
the house a few hours a week is looking mighty tempting! What
say you -- let him do the first few years in public and then
start homeschooling -- or go straight to homeschool? Thanks for
the replies." -- Katherine B.


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