Awakening a long dormant blog…

So when I started this blog, my youngest was just entering her teen years. She’s now a breath away from leaving them behind. So much has happened during this time and though technically I’m done with home schooling (though I am still very much involved in my daughter’s education at her request) I am never done with the learning process. So with this new shift of gears, I will once again attempt to share my experiences and resources on diversity and different learning styles.

I am, also, working on a book manuscript and write for two other blogs, while holding a full-time job as a single mom, so my goal is to post on a fairly regular basis… say more than once every four years, and make this blog one of my writing priorities for 2016!

Keep learning!

Note: I have temporarily suspended subscriber registration due to an incredible amount of spam users. I will set up a new feature that will make it easy to comment if desired but harder to spam.

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The Arts of the Islamic World – Smithsonian

Portrait of a Panter from Smithsonian One of my favorite ways to study history is through the arts. What better resource than the Smithsonian and their art exhibits? The Smithsonian Museum of Asian Arts provides a cornucopia of resources, including teacher’s guides and online tours.

Today I want to share with you the information they have about Islam, a religion most non-Muslims know little about. If western Christians and western non-religious folks know a little bit about Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, we know next to nothing about Islam, and what we do know is often tainted with fear and prejudice.

So I was delighted to find The Arts of the Islamic World. You can view the wonderful pieces the Smithsonian has through their online tour, which has gorgeous photos and corresponding information. To help you place the works of art within a cultural context, the Smithsonian offers a teacher’s guide.

Arts of the Islamic World – A Teacher’s Guide.
(Click on the photo for a screen shot of the Table of Contents)

The teacher’s guide provides a basic cultural and historical background, examples and background of various forms of art, as well as projects to do yourself. I enjoyed reading the first person accounts of what it means to be Muslim and how they practice. Various forms of Islamic art are explored and lesson plans are available for teaching different age groups or perhaps more accurately, levels of development and inclination so you can better modify it for your home use. It also contains a list of resources for further study and exploration.

We will be studying Islamic culture later this year, and when we do this will be one of the resources we use.

The Smithsonian is a great place to visit, and if you can’t, then using their online resources is the next best thing. Art creatively captures the unique perspectives of both cultures and individuals, at the same time showing us how similar we are in our humanity and dreams. I look forward to using this resource in educating ourselves about this fascinating culture, and will share other resources I find along the way.

If you’re aware of any other resources or have any favorites, please, don’t hesitate to share! Thanks :)

~Demian Yumei

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Lesson Plans for Spiderwick Chronicles

Here are some links to Spiderwick Chronicles lesson plans and worksheets.

From the publisher, Simon and Schuster: Some nice suggestions for various projects you can pick and choose. I especially liked the one about making a faerie house from natural materials, and tying it in to a writing project.

CurriculumGuide.pdf .

The accompanying WORKSHEETS are of good quality. They go beyond matching or filling in the blanks or finding words in word search puzzles, addressing the more creative side of students, while honing academic skills. There’s a nice worksheet on deductive reasoning on this page.

More WORKSHEETS. Including a boardgame and trading cards you create.

Even though we’ve read this book some years back, it might be fun to share them with the grandkids. We can modify some of the activities.

For more lesson plans you can go to and do a search on Spiderwick Chronicles. They are not free, but the most expensive one I found is $7.00. Personally, I think picking a few activities from Simon and Schuster, and maybe keeping a log of new vocabulary words you come across is pretty much all you need to do. You can kill a book and interrupt the storyline by interjecting too many educational activities.

Discussion, encouraging my child to share highlights, to express her ideas and understanding as she goes through the book, and picking things apart to meet standards later, if you must, is my preference for younger students. High school is more appropriate for literary analysis, but again, not at the expense of destroying your enjoyment of a good read.

A good story has something to say to you. You have to be careful not to drown it out with too many “right” or “wrong” answers, because every story is a personal conversation with the reader.

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Animal School Video

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a video even more when it puts together pictures in such a powerful way. What are we doing to our children?

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Website: Understanding Evolution for Teachers

Here is an excellent source created by the University of California Museum of Paleontology, “Understanding Evolution for Teachers“. The site for teachers is part of a larger site for evolution.

The section for teachers is divided into learning about evolution and teaching it.

Topics include the history, understanding of evolution, including misconceptions and relevance to our daily lives. The site is geared toward teachers with lesson plans, but there’s also a section that’s geared toward all readers, not just those who are teaching.

This is a very thorough website, neatly laid out with information and hands on lesson plans for teaching specific concepts. A very helpful feature is their search options. You can search according to grade levels, K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12, by topic or keywords.

To see everything laid out, their site index is neatly laid out and very easy to follow. They, also, have a very nice glossary with short concise definitions and pronunciation guide for most of the terms.

Web pages, also, have graphics to illustrate the points made in text. And while there’s a lot of information on the website, there isn’t a preponderance of text on individual pages, making it easy to read. Links lead the reader to other sections of the website for further study or clarification and/or to outside resources.

This is a great resource for both understanding and teaching evolution. It can be used exclusively or nicely supplemented with living books. While it’s not specifically for homeschoolers, the lesson plans I looked over can be easily adapted for use in the home.

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