Welcome to Teaching with TLC

Teaching with TLC began as an educational outreach in 2006 to help encourage parents and educators. I'm a mom of five and an educator who enjoys sharing creative and practical teaching tips. Actually, I'm a bit obsessed with making learning FUN! Here's how you can get started:
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Enjoy making learning FUN!

FUN Ways to Teach American History

This school year my kids have been diving into American history and loving it! I enjoy learning alongside of my middle school boys in this subject area since there is so many fascinating things in history to discover. This famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt sums up how I feel about why history is so incredibly important to learn.

History was my least favorite subject when I was growing up. I did not like it one bit. Most of my teachers strictly used a textbook and did not add any excitement to this subject whatsoever. Even though I aced the tests, I graduated college with little "real" knowledge of history and certainly no passion for this subject area until.... 

I became a fourth grade teacher. I deviated from just using a textbook as much as my public school would allow me to. We watched superb history videos, acted out scenes from history, created art projects that tied into themes we were learning about, cooked recipes that were used during that time, and incorporated writing lessons to make history exciting to learn about. When I began homeschooling, I learned about more phenomenal resources and creative ways to teach history. Now my family and I LOVE learning about history.

Please note: This will be a post in progress as I will be adding resources to it throughout the school year. I recommend pinning and/or bookmarking this post so you can check back and see the final list of recommended resources. Also, this post is not just for school teachers and home educators but for ALL parents who would like to instill a love of learning history in their children.

Before we begin studying history in depth: My children first learn about geography. HERE are plenty of fun ways to teach geography to your child. I feel this subject area needs to be taught first, so kids can relate to where the events in history are taking place.

Teaching Tip: Here is an excellent visual that a college professor shared with me 24 years ago. (Typing that sentence just made me feel old.) Imagine a file folder cabinet that is filled with multiple files on different topics. That is your brain filled with many topics. The information in your brain's files is your "schema" or background knowledge about a topic. Everyone’s schema for a topic is different, depending on your individual experiences on what you have learned about a topic.

Our job as parents and educators is to first create a file folder. (Introduce a topic.) Next, we begin to fill that file folder. (Teach about the topic.) That file folder will be closed and reopened to fill over and over. (We can teach, move on, and revisit that topic again in the future.)

This is how learning becomes mastered. When our children are little, we introduce them to many topics and then continue to reteach those topics more in depth as they grow. We can also interweave these topics into their daily lives to make them more meaningful and concrete.

I like to reference the file cabinet example particularly for teaching history since so much of understanding history is based on the knowledge of events that happened beforehand. It is also a great reminder that children will not grasp everything on history the first time or two that it is taught, but their history file folder will still continue to be filled each time you reopen it. In fact, I am still filling my history file and hope to keep doing so all of my life!

Budget Tips: Many of the resources listed below can be found in your local library. You can also watch several of the episodes on television. In the past, I have split larger purchases with other homeschool families and we have shared them.

And now onto the list of AWESOME resources that make learning history FUN!

{If you have history resources that you have used and highly recommend, please share them in the comments below.}

I love using DVDs and television programs to teach history. Just think of how kids can easily recite lines and describe scenes in detail from everyday programs they watch on TV. Why not use that form of media to teach history? Not only will kids have fun watching the programs, they will also be learning a whole lot.

This television series is a perfect way to introduce young children to history. My middle schoolers still like watching these shows with their younger siblings. The character voices are provided by award-winning film legends, such as: Walter Croncrite, Annette Bening, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Ben Stiller and Liam Neeson. I purchased the entire series for $5.00 (and with free shipping) on Amazon!!! And that is not a typo- 866 minutes worth for five bucks! Now my family watches them in our van while traveling. Loving it!

Drive Thru History is my all-time favorite history curriculum for homeschooling. So much history is packed into these episodes that can be watched again and again. They are incredibly entertaining with lots of action and even humor sprinkled throughout. This video series is definitely my kids' top pick!

Dave Stotts, the driver and host of the show, explores the rich history of America in a fast and fun style all of his own.

Discover how faith and commitment to God and our country contributed to the founding of our nation.

Foundations of Character
This curriculum shares how the Founding Fathers' beliefs guided their actions. 

America: The Story of US
This series includes 720 minutes of how America was made. Outstanding cinematography by the History Channel- talk about making history come to life before your eyes!

I really like how this series shows a Biblical side that many other video series will leave out. We watch these together as a family.

Discover the fascinating truth of America's past by exploring the Bible's influence on American culture from government to education. Become an eyewitness to the nation's Christian heritage with an exclusive tour of the U.S. capitol, and enjoy the rich history of faith in the founding era.

TIPS: There are many other excellent programs on PBS and The History Channel. Check your TV guide. Also, several of the programs listed above have study guides included on the DVDs or on their websites. Make sure to check those out, too.

There are countless picture and chapter books that I use with my children. For the sake of not having a blog post that would continue infinitely, I listed my favorite series and a few of my top picks.

Who Was and Who Is Series
These easy-to-read chapter books provide quick glimpses into important Americans' lives. Kids enjoy the funny illustrations and the interesting facts.

History of US by Joy Hakim
This highly-acclaimed book series has even spun off into several television programs.

You Choose: History Series
These books remind me of the choose-your-own-adventure books that were popular when I was a child. The reader is actually submerged into the setting. Kids love these and so do I!

This series is comprised of historical fiction books written in the form of a diary of a young girl's life or a young boy's life during an important event or time period in American history. (The book pictured on top is one of my favorite read-alouds. Talk about being suspenseful and making the readers feel like they are actually on the Oregon Trail!)

Getting to Know the US Presidents Series
These books are a quick read and provide an overview of each president's life. Great for short introductions to each president.

This book has FUN written all over it (and inside of it!) It is filled with trivia and silly facts about our presidents that kids simply find fascinating.

The Bulletproof George Washington
A great read for older children. Colonial George Washington's perilous experiences in the French and Indian War are chronicled in this riveting account of God's providence and protection. There is something intriguing when learning about miracles, which also leads me to the next book.

Discover desperate circumstances in America's past and how men and women rose up with faith and courage and situations unexplainably turned around. (I recently ordered this book and can't wait to read it.)

This book takes the reader on a detailed exposition through the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. My homeschool group used this book as a study guide as they dove into learning together about our nation's founding documents. The older students really enjoyed this study group.

I have used these magazines for 15 years as supplements to units. They are filled with outstanding photography and facts. Kids also like the magazine feel of them, which provides a nice change to a standard book. I pick and choose the topics my kids are interested in or currently studying.

Everything You Need to Know About American History
This is my go-to for any history events that I need a refresher on. I also use certain sections for quick read-alouds and as a springboard for writing assignments.

This is the reference tool my children refer to often while learning the order of the presidents.

{Visit this post for more FUN ways to learn about presidents.}

Wee Sing America
What an excellent collection of patriotic songs!  I even have it downloaded on my phone to play when my little ones are coloring.

How can you unfold FUN? Every child should have a timeline while learning history and why not give them one like no other- a 15 foot fold-out timeline! I saw this at a homeschool convention and knew right away that I had to purchase it. This is a unique tool to engage your child in an adventurous trip through time - from the first day of creation to present day.


I will be adding much more to this list. (My allocated blogging time for today is used up as my family is mentioning.) Make sure to bookmark or pin this post to check back for updates, and remember to share your favorite resources in the comments below.

Enjoy making American history FUN!

Making Poetry FUN

Poetry can be so much FUN! My kids and I enjoy reading poetry, and we recently dove into a poetry unit, which included learning more about figurative language and various types of poems.

Many picture books use lots of poetry so most children are already familiar with the basic couplets and quatrains and the simple AABB or ABAB patterns. I wanted to further stretch my children's knowledge of poetry and show them different styles of poetry, so I first brought out my favorite poetry books by Shel Silverstein from when I was a child. What a wonderful blast from the past!

 I also enjoyed using poetry books by Jack Prelutsky when I taught elementary school.

Here are a couple of my favorite poetry collections. The Big Book of Poetry is a good assortment of all styles and For Laughing Out Loud is just plain FUNNY!

I couldn't forget the classic poems, such as Mother Goose.

My kids and I took turns reading the books mentioned above, but it is refreshing to hear a different voice reading poems. Poetry Speaks to Children is one of the highest rated poetry books on CD that kids really enjoy. The best part is most of the poems in this book are read aloud by the original poets. Listening to Robert Frost read Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening was very surreal.

After reading lots of poetry books, I had my sons choose two of their favorites to memorize and then recite them in front of our family. I did this as a child and still remember the poem I recited in fourth grade.

"Spaghetti, spaghetti, all over the place. Up to my elbows, up to my face......."
Good times! Anyone else remember memorizing poems?

To get their creative juices flowing, we began with making shape poems. Kids can spend days just creating different free verse poems or simple couplets using this site.

Here is one of Colton's poems.

I read aloud Words, Wit, and Wonder to my kids to help learn the fundamental tools of writing poems. It is written on a simplistic level that children can really understand.

Next, we reviewed figurative language so my boys can relate to why the poets use it in their writing. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing Poetry: A Step By Step guide to Writing Great Poems for the mid-upper elementary grades. I adapted it for my sixth and seventh graders and it was simply awesome!!!

My kids had matched the words and phrases to the correct type of figurative language. This was a terrific review activity to our study of figurative language last school year.

Now it was time to use our knowledge of poetry and begin writing poems. I reminded my boys that they are creating their own books that they can keep forever- something they will share with their younger siblings for years and even with their own children when they are older. Using this approach completely changes their perception towards their assignments, and they try to do their very best. They are not just completing assignments, they are creating masterpieces that will be treasured by others for many years.

Here are some examples of their poems.

Enjoy having FUN with poetry!

Grab some FREE Ebooks for yourself, friends, and family!

Hurry and grab some Ebooks for yourself and also gift them to friends and family without leaving your home and no money out of your pocket- Christmas shopping really can't get any better than this!

My blogging friend Shannon Long from Technology Rocks shared this post on how you can give an Ebook when it's on sale or free to anyone with an email account? Yes, I am for real!

{And you don't have to own a Kindle- you can download Kindle books to iPhonesAndroidsiPadsMacs and Pc's!}

But it even gets better folks...
Amazon will let you select when the Ebook will be gifted, which means you can purchase books on sale or that have gone FREE now and then give them for Christmas! Is that not totally cool?

So to celebrate the holidays, I am offering 3 FREE homeschool Ebooks valued at $27.85!

You can grab them for yourself or gift them to friends and family. This deal will only be effective from Dec 12- 16 so quickly make your list and check it twice and knock out some Christmas shopping while treating yourself, too.

This deal has expired but you can receive a 30% discount when you purchase all three books! Use this code TS6CZUBJ  and begin shopping HERE.

Make sure to follow Shannon's simple instructions on how to gift a book, so they will not even know that you got them for free- WOW!


Using Strengths to Guide Your Teaching

I heard an encouraging story today while attending Community Bible Study. It reminds me of how parents naturally want their children to excel in every area of academics and extra-curricular activities, but the reality is- God made each child differently for His purpose. He never intended for our children to excel in everything.

A Duck, Rabbit, Squirrel and an Eagle
from Charles Swindoll's "Insight For Living"

"Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So they organized a school. 
They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects. 
The duck was excellent at swimming; in fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying, and was very poor at running. Since he was slow in running, he had to drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused his web feet to be badly worn, so that he was only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable so nobody worried about that--except the duck. 
 The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming.
The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but he encountered constant frustration in flying class because his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. He developed "charlie horses" from overexertion, and so only got a C in climbing and a D in running. 
The eagle was a problem child and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing, he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but insisted on using his way to get there. 
A duck is a duck--and only a duck. It is built to swim, not to run or fly and certainly not to climb. A squirrel is a squirrel--and only that. To move it out of its forte, climbing, and then expect it to swim or fly will drive a squirrel nuts. (insert giggle from me) Eagles are beautiful creatures in the air but not in a foot race. The rabbit will win every time unless, of course, the eagle gets hungry. 
What is true of creatures in the forest is true of Christians in the family; both the family of believers and the family under your roof. God has not made us all the same. He never intended to. It was He who planned and designed the differences, unique capabilities, and variations. 
If God made you a duck--you're a duck, friend. Swim like mad, but don't get bent out of shape because you wobble when you run or flap instead of fly. Furthermore, if you're an eagle, stop expecting squirrels to soar, or rabbits to build the same kind of nests you do."
What is the message of the story?

Relax. Cultivate your children's capabilities. Maximize their strengths. Do not handicap their unique skills by spending too much time on making them average in everything. Help them create their own style, and appreciate your children for who God created them to be. Now back to the story- 
"Rabbits don't fly. Eagles don't swim. Ducks look funny trying to climb. Squirrels don't have feathers. Stop comparing. There's plenty of room in the forest."