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Category Archives: Making Learning Fun

Making Learning Fun VI – Just Read! – Reading to Learn

Ok, see a common theme here in my posts?  “Textbooks are NOT the only way to learn.”

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE textbooks. But they truly are not the only means of learning as I think many of us had come to believe.

Simply reading a book, article, etc or being read to, offer great learning opportunities without dragging down a weary learner or really any student.

Case in point:

My 15  year old does not like conventional textbook learning. Getting him to do a simple assignment can be like pulling teeth. But, masha Allah, he is an EXCELLENT reader and loves to read. 

He’s read Raheequl Makhtum (biography of Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) about five times by himself (without my urging) and can spit out facts about battles and the like with no effort, alhamdulillah.

Each time he read the book on his own, no worksheets, quizzes, tests. But he can use vocabulary from the books he reads in context.  The other day he said he was “conveying a message….” he smirked as we said, “I used it correctly in context.”  And he does that a lot, insha Allah. No vocabulary tests or worksheets.

Reading Aloud

Even at his age, my oldest enjoys me reading to him from time to time. Many homeschoolers read aloud each day as part of their schedule.  You don’t have to bog them down with “schooly” type comprehension questions.  Stop every now and then and make sure they understand vocabulary or what’s being said.

After the reading, (but not necessarily right aftward) ask them to tell you what the story/article was about.  Did they like it? Name something they learned (written or oral).

Also do this kind of activity with material student has read on his/her own.

 

So if you ahave a child that loves to read, but hates more traditional textbook learning, take advantage of it and use that as your primary method of learning as much as you are able to.  (Though textbooks may just be necessary or easier for some topics). 

Also, if you child does like to read, try just letting him read his textbook at HIS OWN PACE.  (I admit its hard to not step in and break out with some worksheets). But, since we don’t have many books to read at home, I sometimes find my older son reading his textbooks.  I guess the learning is more natural and interesting when you don’t always have some worksheet, asssignment crammed down your throat. 

So I’m not saying I hate textbooks (they can be such lifesavers, alhamdulillah) but sometimes its good to take a step out of the box and see what can be learned.

Related: You might try some of the activities listed here in this post to have student demonstrate what has been learned.

 

Happy Reading!

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Posted by on September 29, 2008 in Making Learning Fun

 

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Making Learning Fun V: Using PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoints are an excellent teaching tool. They can be used as “textbooks,” tutorials, and exercises. They can be an excellent alternative (or supplement) to textbook chapters for many subjects.

You can make your own or download them free from the internet.

For Islamic PowerPoints:

I have many Islamic PowerPoints available in TJ’s Islamic Library. (link updated 10/29/13).You can find powerpoints on Aqeedah topics, Ibaadah, Quraan and more. Over 25 powerpoint books available.

For Non Islamic Subjects:

You’ll definitely want to make your first stop Pete’s PowerPoint Station(my favorite) for links to LOADS of free powerpoints on so many secular subjects from English to Geography to Math to Science, Social Studies and more…………………………………

If you are looking for a very specific topic, try the theme index, arranged in Alphabetical order.

 There are, of course, other sites to find free powerpoints but the one above is a great starting place for links to 1000s of free educational powerpoints.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2008 in Making Learning Fun

 

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Making Learning Fun: Keepin’ It Real

Textbooks are great, but real life applications of concepts can help to cement concepts more deeply, insha Allah.

Language Arts

Nouns

Instead of doing a grammar lesson from a book on nouns, introduce the concept (and you can use the book if necessary) then have student look around the room and list nouns that he/she sees in the room. Have student categorize these into people and things.

Have student list as many nouns that are places in 30 seconds (or a minute or whatever). “Compete” withyour child to see who can come up with more and this can make for a fun activity, my kids love it. You can limit it to nouns in the room or nouns in the ocean, etc.

Adjectives

Have student pick three objects and describe each one. Write these words on the whiteboard/paper. Tell student that these words describe nouns and are called adjectives. Have student write a sentence about each object using the adjectives he came up with.

Verbs

Have student watch a sporting video or another video that features lots of action. Tell him/her to come up with words to describe what is going on (dribbling, running, tackling, etc), and tell that these words are verbs.

 Proofreading

For older students, let them practice their proofreading skills for a purpose. Project Gutenberg has a Distributed Proofreaders program. They need help proofreading their texts and getting them ready for the web:

Description from the site:

“Distributed Proofreaders provides a web-based method to ease the conversion of Public Domain books into e-books. By dividing the workload into individual pages, many volunteers can work on a book at the same time, which significantly speeds up the creation process.

During proofreading, volunteers are presented with a scanned page image and the corresponding OCR text on a single web page. This allows the text to be easily compared to the image, proofread, and sent back to the site.

Proofread as often or as seldom as you like, and as many or as few pages as you like. We encourage people to do ‘a page a day’, but it’s entirely up to you!”

Once all the pages have completed these steps, a post-processor carefully assembles them into an e-book, optionally makes it available to interested parties for ‘smooth reading’, and submits it to the Project Gutenberg archive.”

To sign up, go to: http://www.pgdp.net/c/

Math

  • Use menus from your favorite restaurants and order a meal and have student add up the prices.
  • Have student add up the prices on your grocery list so you can budget.
  •  Have student survey how many of certain items there are around the house and graph. Have student survey family members of their likes/dislikes and graph.
  • Have student walk around the house and find numbers to round to the nearest 10 (look on food packages, in books, sales papers.
  • Have student write down sports scores from games and find the difference between the winning and losing scores.
  • Got tiles in your bathroom? Use multiplication to see how many tiles there are or how many cookies on a cookie sheet of cookies you are making, etc.
  • Use coupons to practice subtracion

Take the Class Outside

Sit outside of your study area and have class.

Take a walk and do class. Have student names the nouns he/she sees.

For math, count the cars that pass. Take a sheet of paper to record the colors of cars that pass and then later graph that data…….

 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2008 in Making Learning Fun

 

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Making Learning Fun IV: Creative Activities to show what you know

A question came up in one of my homeschooling groups about coming up with activities for student to demonstrate what was learned.  Of course tests are one way, but here are some other ideas:

  • Try to come up with real life applications of the concepts learned (example, learning about communities, make a map of your community, volunteer in your community, interview someone in the community coming up with questions based upon what was learned, etc)
  • Make a lapbook
  • Make a poster or other creative project to illustrate the concepts learned
  • Prepare/give a speech on the topic
  • Take a survey (make up questions related to the main points learned and then for example ask family members or neighbors if they knew such and such or what are their thoughts on such and such
  • Write a report
  • Write in a journal daily and summarize/tell what was learned
  • Student makes up a test on the material himself
  • Make a mini book on the topic/chapter
  • Write a letter to someone (or even you) explaining what they learned
  • Video tape a mini documentary on the subject with the student as the presenter
  • Make a board game with the skill cards being based upon the concepts
 
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Posted by on September 23, 2008 in Making Learning Fun, Teaching Tips

 

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Making learning fun III – Put down the pencil and paper

If you have kids that shudder at doing worksheets or problems from a textbook or you just want to give them a change, put down the pencil and paper and:

  • Do boardwork
    • To help keep easily distracted kids’ attention, do one problem at a time with student. Talk about the answer. Kids seem to love writing with chalk and whiteboard markers.
  • Do oral work
    • I have found that my two older boys (who are not textbook types) like to do the work orally with me so when I sense battles brewing, I do the work orally with them.
 
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Posted by on September 15, 2008 in Making Learning Fun

 

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Making learning fun

This question comes up frequently in my homeschooing groups: How can I make learning fun?

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to make learning enjoyable is to play games.  You can turn boring drill work into fun by making a game of it. 

A few ideas:

Tic Tac Toe. We made this into a learning game years ago by things such as math facts in the squares. You can also use skill cards so that you don’t have to write on the board. We’ve done spelling with this by requiring that a word be spelled correctly before placing a mark.  Here’s an article from Associated Content with more uses of tic tac toe as a learning game.

Then there’s always Bingo or a variation called cover up where the players must cover the whole board.

If you are teaching Arabic, games are a sure way, insha Allah, to liven up that subject for kids.

Last week, during teaching of the Arabic alphabet, we played what I think is our all time favorite type of game and its excellent for drill. I’m  not sure what the name of the game is, but we vary it and just call it the stairs game.  You draw a picture on the whiteboard or paper of some stairs or a ladder or a tree. On the steps, rungs, or on apples in the tree, you place Arabic or English letters, math facts, etc.  If doing the stairs or ladder, I draw a treat (lollipop, slice of pizza, etc) on the top.  Players must read correctly what is on the steps to advance.  To provide more drill, if one of my kids answers incorrectly, I make them go all the way down to the bottom (but try to be encouraging). This way, they get more practice.  I also tell them the correct answer if they got it wrong before they try to go up the steps again.  Sometimes the drawn treat suffices, sometimes I offer a real treat at the end or end of the day.

This worked extremely well for Arabic last week. I had the kids pretend that they were on a game show and had them introduce themeselves and tell a little bit about themselves. We made sound effects for correct answers and applauded them. They had a blast. It was so great to see them so excited about Arabic, masha Allah. 

Often, we turn flashcard review time into games as well on the fly.

So if you are looking for ways to make learning fun, try a game. They are great for practice/drill work. 

Or

How about adding a physical element to it?

Sometimes I have the kids do a funny physical activity after answering a question such as hop, skip, or kiss someone.  Or I might have them take a step towards a goal across the room for each correct answer. When my oldest daughter was learning suratul fatihah years ago, I would have her take a step forward towards me (at the other end of the room) for each ayah recited correctly.

 
 

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