Monday, April 2, 2012

Teach Them Diligently Convention Highlights and Some Mini Reviews

I had the amazing opportunity to attend Teach Them Diligently as a blogger a couple of weeks ago. A special thanks to my dear friend Rebecca from Moms Mustard Seeds for asking me to be part of the amazing blogger group. Warning this is a long post but it is worth reading the entire way through. There are some amazing companies to read about and some amazing FREE resources (of course).

She may will probably never hear the end of it for posting this picture. 

I drove to Teach Them Diligently with Kelli from Adventurez In Child Rearing. We had talked online for months and became good friends and I finally got to meet her IRL (In Real Life). She is an amazing homeschool mom of 3 boys.

I had a special blogger badge which was very cool. I even had a couple of people say to me, "Hey I have read your blog" which is even cooler. I had the opportunity to meet lots of amazing companies, speakers, friends and bloggers.

This convention was amazing. And the Nunnery family is even more amazing. They poured their hearts into this convention and it certainly showed each day as I walked around. I saw so many homeschool families beaming with joy and wisdom. And loaded down with curriculum. I am so blessed to have been part of their very first convention. There was a great vendor hall filled with large and small companies and a line up of amazing speakers. This is definitely a convention you will want to attend in the future. It was well organized. The registration check in was super quick and easy. If you plan to take the family you will not be disappointed. There were lots of great kids classes and even a playground. I actually saw kids who did not want to leave when their parents went to pick them up. They had lots of great food options (like Johnny's Pizza, Firehouse Subs and Chick-fil-A) for lunch and dinner which were all reasonably priced. The venue they chose in Spartenburg was great. It was very large and easy to navigate. It didn't feel like there were 4,000 + families there.

Sea of people.

If you missed the convention make sure you check out these links:

-Teach Them Diligently Bloggers and my friends who are all blogging about their experiences: Betty, Jamerrill, AmyKelli, RebeccaHolly Amanda
-Twitter Storify - check out all the tweets and photos that were posted live from the convention
-Kathy's Cluttered Mind Facebook page check out my timeline from March for posts and my photo album
-Get the Teach Them Diligently speaker MP3's which are now available on Rhinos Technologies Website

Back row:  Betty, Jamerrill, ME, Amy
Front row:  KelliRebecca, Holly,  Amanda

A few highlights:

Working At The Founders Academy Booth:
You may have heard me talk about Founders Academy before and that's because we love Lynn's classes. Lynn approached me about helping at her booth at Teach Them Diligently while she was speaking in some workshops. And of course I jumped on the opportunity to help her. Lynn offers online live classes through CurrClick for all ages. She actually just added two classes in April specifically for younger kids ages 5-7, Our Flag and Pledge of Allegiance (we will be doing this one). Each of these on sale right now for only $4.00. The cool thing is they are recorded and even after the class you will have access to the recording forever so you can always go back through them with your kids. If applicable Lynn will also provide you with links to further resources. Want to see what a Founders Academy class is like for yourself? Lynn has allowed me to share her convention SPECIAL page with my readers. Click here to view a recorded class, ebook and also the Freedom Friday series which includes videos/resources. Lynn is doing Freedom Fridays in cooperation with Rebecca from Moms Mustard Seeds. Want access to alerts about specials sign up on Founders Academy website or sign up for text offers by texting Founders to "32020"

Wow I got to hear several wonderful speakers. I think the primary reason anyone should attend a homeschool convention is to hear speakers. I mean the vendors are awesome too but the speakers always blow my mind and teach me the most wonderful things. So how on earth do/did I chose who to hear? Well I look for speakers who are covering topics that are pertinent to my kids learning styles, our homeschool style and that help me improve as a parent and teacher. Since I was over multi-tasking and had some trouble dividing up my time between meeting with friends, cruising the vendor hall, and helping Founders Academy I didn't get to hear as many as I had hoped but here are the few I did and some tidbits.

1) The very  first speaker I heard was Sonya Shafer who is with Simply Charlotte Mason. You can find them on Twitter and Facebook as well. She discussed who Charlotte Mason was and what her methods were. The first thing Sonya discussed was the Book of Centuries you can read more here and get a FREE download. She spoke a lot about copy work and said that, "copywork gives something interesting to write about an idea." She even has us practice some copy work too. 

I just love the Charlotte Mason student and parent mottos as well:
Student motto: I am, I can, I ought, I will. (my kids will be memorizing this soon)
Parents motto: Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. (I couldn't agree with this more)

She discussed various ways copy work can be completed and did a fun exercise with us where we had to memorize a couple of sentences in a poem and then re-write it without looking. This technique helps children with hand writing, grammar, spelling, reading comprehension and more. 

And she talked about picture studies. She had us do an exercise for this as well. The recommendation is that you pick an artist to focus on and do 6 of their works. Here is a quote from Sonya, "narration is a much higher thinking skill." If you want to learn more about picture studies check out this link.

Picture study workshop assignment. 

2) Another speaker I got to listen too was Cathy Canen. Cathy is with Writing Strands but was talking about  S.O.S! School on a Shoestring. You can find them on Twitter and Facebook as well. The workshop's focus was to inform homeschoolers that they don't need to spend a lot of money on curriculum (now I already know how to do this because well I am the queen of FreeBEEs) but I was curious and wanted to here her recommendations. I am glad I picked up a few good ideas.

Cathy says the first thing on your agenda should be figuring out what to teach and how you want to teach it. The determine what to teach. Since most people feel they need some sort of guideline she recommended using standardized tests, scope and sequences or grade level textbooks as a guide. One book she recommended was by Susan Wise Bauer called The Well Trained Mind. She shared a great quote from Project 2061 which is "teach less in order to teach it better."  Don't you just love that? Cathy's homeschool style is a lot like ours she incorporates lots of unit/topics studies which are focused on for 1 month. And uses the library as  their main resource. She has her children use the following system for their unit/topic studies: hear it, read it, write it, say it, display it, review it. She talked about how literature always has 4 parts and as children grown older they will always be able to figure these out which will make them better writers and readers:  setting, characters, conflict and resolution. If your goal is to have self guided learners than children must need to learn to reason through it. You as a parent should always play down whats done wrong and play up whats done right. She also used history timelines which are similar to the Charlotte Mason Book of Centuries. Cathy posted paper on their school room wall and had the timeline start at creation. Each of her kids marked their birth and then as they learned about topics they place it on their timeline. 

And lastly she shared her scheduling method with us:
A. Core and research for unit/topic study
B. Core only
C. Field trips, unit/topic study, drawing, sick days, appointments, etc.

So here is how a typical week may look:
Mon.-Schedule A, Tue.-Schedule A, Wed.-Schedule B, Thu.-Schedule B, Fri.-Schedule C

I thought that was such a good idea (of course right now we have more C scheduled days in our homeschool, lol)

Vendor Hall:
So I have a soft spot for three types of companies: small businesses, veteran owned and charity/not for profit businesses. I have chosen to highlight a few of these companies. Many of these vendors I spoke with at length and loved learning more about their awesome products. Some of them provided me with review items so I could help promote them (so keep and eye out). Several shared their wonderful knowledge and provided me with helpful tips and recommended books/resources.

Make sure you check out Rescued The Movie. They were not at the convention but they were my friend Kelli's sponsor and helped us with our hotel accommodations. 

My wonderful friend Founders Academy (see above for details).

Jericho The Promised Full Filled dvd. This movie is done using LEGOs. It is super cool and we already watched it several times (full review coming soon). Right now you can really help them out by voting for them to Get On The Shelf At Walmart.

Have you ever heard about A Journey Through Learning? They are the book in the picture with the colorful hot air balloon. They make some amazing lapbook products. You can purchase them in ebook or hard copy format. They even have lapbooks for Veggie Tale DVDs.

The Majesty Music / Patch the Pirate booth was filled with awesome cd's (I will be reviewing one of these too). There are actually some freebees on the Patch the Pirate website.

This was company is both a small and veteran owned business. Here is a picture of them with their granddaughter. Their business is Educational Materials Association and they make very simple educational board games. They have games for geography, history, presidents and endangered animals. They also sell very nice laminated posters. You can read more about EMA here. The recommended age on their games is 8 yrs old and up but they told me children as young as 6 yrs have played their games. I decided to purchase the Endangered Wildlife game for my kids. The owner of the company also gave me a laminated poster which is hanging on the outside of our schoolroom door. The games $18.95 and can be played by 1-6 players. Each game kit includes additional resources. The endangered wildlife game comes with a playing board, deck of 50 game cards, instructions/teacher's guide, 24 page resource booklet, reproductible activities & puzzles, endangered wildlife glossary, FREE folded poster and study guide, pre/post tests. 

Even kids as young as 4 1/2 can play. I made some adaptions to the game  instructions.

Tim Ostermeyer's book are absolutely amazing. His booth was one of the first I stopped by Thursday night. The photographs in his book were actually taken by him. Fun Adventure Wildlife Books is the name of his website and book line. He was very kind and gave me a copy of Snowballs Antarctic Adventures to review (coming soon) but I just loved his stuff so much I went back and purchased Snuggles the Japanese Alps Adventures. We will be using this in April when we are doing our primate study. Each of his books tells a great story, has fact boxes with 10 facts of each animal in the book, and a great moral. The penguin book even has a math fact. His books can be ordered through Amazon or you can contact him directly to place an order.

Aren't these gorgeous books? Gwyn was really excited when I brought them home and started flipping through the right away.

I love what Rice Bowls promotes and thought it would be a great opportunity for my kids to help someone in need. So I grabbed a Rice Bowl for our family.

Disclaimer: I want to thank Teach Them Diligently for providing me with FREE registration to the convention. In return I will be blogging, tweeting and facebooking about the convention. Many of the links found on my side bars and in my blog posts are affiliate links. As a result, I might get paid money and I will most likely spend the money on homeschool supplies or a hotel for the convention.


Rebecca said...

Hahah - you are welcome - I'm glad you could be part of it...true thanks goes to God and the Nunnery Family...and girl, you could have taken another picture, but oh vanity here, any longer....I was so incredibly overwhelmed with joy and information from the speakers, I didn't care how I looked.....Love ya!

Kelli Parker Becton said...

We had a great time! It was fun riding up with you and crashing at your place ;) so glad we got to spend the time together IRL - I enjoyed our nature walk at the falls too! The convention was awesome - but I do hate the picture of me - it's pretty awful - not ashamed of my vanity- girls don't like fat pictures ;) I'm working on it :) The Nunnery Family did a fantastic job of putting this convention together! I hope to attend each year! 

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