More Learning Together with Older Children

I recently shared with you a few ideas about how you can have your older children learn together.  It certainly isn’t as easy to do with older kids as it is when they’re younger, but it’s worth the effort to bring them together when you can!

One way to keep your kids learning together is to find an activity in which they can both participate even though they each might have a different learning goal. Cooking is a fun activity for kids of all ages—and a useful skill, too! Enjoy some time in the kitchen together and have one child work on reading ingredients or learning different recipe abbreviations while the other one doubles the recipe and works on adding fractions. If you’re lucky, you might even end up with dinner fixed, too! Nature walks would be a simple way to cover different topics. You could bring in poetry, art, and science all in one afternoon.

One of my favorite ways to bring my kids together is to travel. We frequently take small road trips around our state to learn about famous people and places and history and then add pictures and narrations to my son’s notebook. They’re learning all about Oklahoma together, not as a semester course with a textbook in school, but by seeing and doing and experiencing it for themselves. There is no substitute for experience, so if you can manage it, I encourage you to travel, even if you’re just taking short field trips around your town.

You can plan for all the different ways you want your children to learn together, which is wonderful, but sometimes they’re going to find a way on their own! When my son was learning about Benjamin Franklin we read about his father’s soap making business and decided to make some soap ourselves. My daughter was learning about farms at the time, but of course she wanted to make soap, too! I was just letting her tag along for fun, but as we had to choose what colors to make the soap, her brother ended up giving her an impromptu lesson in color mixing. She had a good time and learned something new in the process!

You can work and work at it, but if there is a large gap in your children’s ages you probably aren’t going to be able to have them learning together all the time, and that’s okay! Sometimes it’s nice to have some one on one time with your children. Even though a book or activity may be specific to one child’s studies, let the other children listen and participate if they want. My son enjoys hearing the same books he loved when he was small when I’m reading them to his sister and my daughter has learned so much from listening in on her brother’s lessons. The older one has lessons reinforced and the younger one builds background knowledge that will be helpful when she’s studying the same topic in the future.

Everyone wins when you learn together!

George Washington’s Teeth

President’s Day is on its way and if you’ve looked at your local library lately, there are so many children’s books on the different presidents that it’s hard to know what’s worth your time. Our library has 172 books for children on George Washington alone!

One of my favorite books on our first president is George Washington’s Teeth, written by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora and illustrated by Brock Cole. We’ve all heard different stories about George Washington and his terrible teeth, but this book gives us all the details in a humorous way and teaches us about some of the famous events in Washington’s life, too.

You might think a story about a president’s teeth would be boring, but the story of Washington’s dental difficulties is really enjoyable to read! The rhyming text makes it flow easily and there is a great deal of humor that kids will love, such as when Washington sees the results of a portrait painting session and cries, “It looks like Martha’s granny!” Cole’s pictures are fun and colorful and match the text well.

Tooth troubles aren’t the only thing to learn about here, though. Many important historical events are included in the story, such as the crossing of the Delaware and Washington’s first inauguration. Chandra and Comora also share information about the history of dentures and dentistry. After reading this book your children might not think their trips to the dentist are quite so bad!

In the back of the book there is a great deal of historical information to go along with the story. There is a timeline of George Washington’s life that includes his own words from his letters and diaries. Here you can see how major events in his life line up with his dental problems and you can read about how these problems affected his health, too. Ultimately, scientists think that Washington’s death may have been caused by a “chronic, untreated infection from the old root fragments in his gums.” Also sure to be interesting to your children: a picture of Washington’s last set of dentures, made from hippopotamus ivory.

George Washington’s Teeth is a quick and fun read that manages to pack in quite a bit of history. I love this book because it is enjoyable and informative for kids (and adults!) of all ages.  It would also be a great fit in February for the Teeth Unit and Lapbook or the President’s Day Lapbook, both available for free at Homeschool Share!

Happy reading!