Team Challenges – a review

I must confess first off, when I was contacted to review Team Challenges by Kris Bordessa, I was a little sceptical. I wasn’t quite sure it would be a good fit for a homeschooling family, especially one leaning towards unschooling. I expected a bunch of recycled indeas and the usal teacher/student instructions.

Boy, was I surprised.

First, when I got my hands on the book, I noted how professionally made it was. It’s about eight by ten, with a nice glossy cover and at least a half-inch thick. Even though it has regular binding on it, it still manages to lay flat, which is a good thing for a fun book like this.

In the first chapter, Kris talks about creativity, cooperation and communication. I consider myself and our family highly creative people. There were enough good points, that had I underlined all the ones I liked, the page would be half-covered.

Some might be tempted to thumb through the book and start in the middle. I would really suggest reading the first few chapters, as they have quite a gold-mine of tips within. Not only is this book good for people who work with groups of children (it made me actually wish I was back helping Brownies!) I can see how it would help *any* family group learn how to work together and have fun. Like the next step up from Family Game Night. I immediately thought of at least two families that I know who would enjoy this book.

We have done an activity similar to these before, and Ron has done something similar in one of his classes. Using straws, toothpicks, tape, paper and strawberry gummi candies, he had his students build either a structure to hold a book or a bridge.

Kris has a chapter on activities that are more improvisational or drama oriented, which personally appealed to me. There’s also a long list of answers that participants have to think of the questions for. I tried some on my children.

“The answer is ice cream.” I said. I got a blank stare from Addison, until he finally said “I’m eighteen. I’m exempt.” I looked at Meaghan and she said, ‘What’s for breakfast?” with a grin. Fair enough.

So you can see from the above, it is not just book with one kind of activity inside, repeated a hundred different ways. There is quite a wide variety to appeal to all kinds of learning styles. I can also see how things like vague, open-ended activities and/or a small time frame could turn off some participants. As with everything else, you could adjust that to your needs.

If you stop by Kris’s blog, you can request a FREE copy of her e-book, Ten Minute Tasks. It’ll give you a great idea of what her book is about. And I know my readers like free stuff.

(cross-posted to both blogs)

Blog Upgrade

We are upgrading WordPress to 2.0 tonight. If you experience any issues with display, just give us a few minutes. We’re not starting it immediately.

The upgrade will not affect Andrea’s blog, the forum or gallery 🙂

We’ll update this when we are done.

Update: All done at 9:45. We had to play with a few things after that. 🙂 It was fun!

The steal my words game

Last night, Emma and I played a very fun game for the better part of an hour. We had found the magnetic words I made for her, and I decided to show her a game.

The words are all scattered on the back of a metal tray, so I pushed them all over to my side of the board. I picked one word and held it up or put it in the middle. If she knew what it said, she could “steal” it from me.

If she didn’t know the word, on her own she tried to sound them out. She would look up at me to see if it was right or if she wanted help. I gave her a bit of instruction on blending sounds and stopping to say each letter sound from left to right. Interestingly enough, she knows the phonetic sound of almost every letter. She has been realizing that some letters (namely vowels) have more than one sound.

Other words, especially the names of family members, she already knew by sight. One of the words she quickly recognized was “love”.

Partway through the game, I could tell she had enough of sounding out words or guessing, and she had also realized that if she got close enough, I was giving her the word anyway. So she called me on it. Near the end, she would look at a word and say, “Um… you can have that one,” then grin at me.

She was still in the lead.

On a purely observational note, she spent quite a bit of time putting the family member’s names “in order”. The order that made sense to her, or one that perhaps she has observed herself, was by age.

Daddy, Mommy, Addison, Sarah, Meaghan, Emma.

Later, I showed her how to move our names around in order by height of the person. Unfortunately that left me further down the list.

Addison, Daddy, Sarah, Mommy, Meaghan, Emma.

After that, it was my turn to read the words to steal them back. I would sometimes pretend to not know the word, or say some word that was completely not it, like “elephant”. She thought this was marvelous fun.

A contest in the forum

We are having a Points Contest in the forum. Full details are in this thread.

Briefly: Members are awarded points according to how much they post. Extra points for starting new threads and referring new members. The prize? I thought you’d never ask. The member with the most points by the end of January gets a copy of The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom.

A fine prize indeed, so get posting.

(cross-posted from AtypicaLife.)

Links cleaned up from draft

In trying to prepare to start the year off right, here’s some links we had aquired and left on draft.

KinderArt – Art Lessons – Art Education: The largest collection of free art lessons and art education information on the Internet. (suposedly – I didn’t check.) Over 800 free art and craft lessons, activities and plans for K-12; Art for kids and Crafts for kids; KinderArt is located in St. Andrews by the Sea New Brunswick (Saint Andrews). And St.Andrews is an awesome place to visit in summer.

Edheads – Activities – for older children who can read fluently.

BBC – History – Games an awesome colection of online games and activities for different periods of history. Also for older children who can read fluently, or at least understand the deeper concepts. (In other words, it was a little over Emma’s head.)

I think I got most of these from Here in the Bonny Glen.

We also came across an excellent article called Not Homeschooling? What’s Your Excuse?.

Learn in freedom.