Saturday, April 8, 2017

Homeschool Journal: Poster Power

Our home is... what's the word?  Oh, yeah, cozy.  With a family of 5 (6 when Zach is visiting from college) I have had to learn how to be smart with my use of space.

I'm also sort of obsessive concerned with the aesthetics of the main living area because my heart is in hospitality.  However, our living area is also our school area so the management of this space is often under my own scrutiny. 

When my kids were elementary age not only did we live in a house with a separate 'school room' but I deliberately managed my decor to be kid friendly. This isn't the case anymore though.  Teenagers are a different breed of youngsters.  Yet, I found out recently that certain tricks from their younger years are actually more effective in the older ones.  Or maybe just more effective in our simpler, cozy-home lifestyle!

I'm talking about educational posters.

Currently I have framed, on a cork board, a vintage colored poster of the United States to supplement our studies of U.S. History this year.  I reference it often, as do they.  It nestles next to our magnetic dry erase board, which I would love to have framed in wood so it blends better, but instead it is usually edged out with some sort of seasonal greenery, disguising the schooliness of it all!  A vintage looking globe and pretty basket of dry-erase markers are housed in one corner and an un-knowing onlooker might wonder if it is a school setting, a study setting, a missionaries meeting area, or just a retired teacher's attempt at vintage decor with a modern board in the mix.

This year, however, I found myself utilizing the blank wall space underneath in a more non-traditional way.  Our walls are plaster so I can't pop tacks in them as I use to in other homes.  But I can hang posters and print-outs on magnetic clips positioned on my dry-erase board and that is just what I did.

First, battle maps from the Revolution War took rotations every few days during class.  Then, a miniaturized constitution hung proudly for a few weeks as we moved into the establishment of our country's laws.  As that came down, we were entering our study on Chemistry in our 9th grade Earth Science book and a periodic table I scored at the Dollar Store a couple years ago made it's appearance.  More colorful and less keeping with my subtle tones decor in the main living area of my home, I was nervous about this one.  But I hoped.

My nervousness about this bright poster hanging in our otherwise homey-cozy space?  This same poster had hung in our craft studio where we once did science experiments and art class.  It had hung on our laundry room door in our last house where our school room was set up in our large basement which mostly just got used for computer games and morning get-togethers around the dry-erase for English from the Roots Up lessons... oh, and laundry when that door was opened and closed to the task.  No one seemed smarter on the Periodic Table of Elements for these attempts at subtle education.

Now? We do schoolwork at the same table we eat at and do Bible study at and sometimes have hearty discussions at.  This same intimate dining area is directly connected to our modest living room where the main couch faces the stage of our learning.  To stroll out to our back deck, one must pass through this educational alcove.

My hope was obvious: perhaps, this time, in seeing a study-related poster hanging in it's simplicity where they live and eat and breathe, my children may gaze over throughout the day and reinforce the information.

I tried this when they were younger.  I LOVED putting together billboards (it was always a nod at one of my favored jobs in High School student council).  But I never really noticed info being absorbed.  But now they are older, it was worth one more try.

So, imagine my excitement last week when, as we were having a totally separate, non-science discussion, they began talking about the elements and atomic numbers and relating it to a regular-life observation.  When I asked how they knew that, they explained knowledgeably, they had observed it on the poster I had reluctantly left hanging on the wall.


In the past I had sooooo much on my school room wall and, if I am honest, it was mostly decoration and I rarely ever pointed to it. Maybe part of the problem for them was not knowing where exactly to attend information so they chose not to attend any, other then what I directly taught them.  I just wanted a "school" room with all it's fandangles like I had grown up with and worked in as an adult.  But for my kids, simple and direct and hanging right-where-we were learning was what hit the spot.

There is power in posters.

It helped, too, that I kept drawing their attention to the hanging posters I have used lately.  For Chemistry, I gave them a personal sized one to reference for some of the smaller numbers which might not be so clear from their vantage point.

Poster Power. 

Don't underestimate it!  Don't over-do it either.  There are a lot of great posters out there.  Unless it is a map you are using regularly in your schooling.... or the alphabet or weather chart for those early learners.... (basically, something you are referencing daily throughout the year) my advice is to keep it simple:
  • Pick and hang posters which directly relate to the current lesson
  • Take them down when the unit is complete
  • Check the Dollar Store, you can often find great scores there (my chemistry posters even came with copy-able worksheets on the back which my kids ate up!
  • Reference the information on the poster throughout your teaching sessions, don't just use it as a pretty prop
Have fun!!

Our Homeschool This Week...


Dad had an episode on Sunday and we thought I was going to be flying out even earlier then early!  He is doing better though and surgery is still scheduled for next Friday (the 14th).  I leave this coming Wednesday (the 12th).  Hard to believe.  His doctor's appointments this week and last-minute preparations often interrupted the schooling routine but everyone was great sports about it.  They continued to work on their assigned reading and Brooke even found confidence to self-teach her composition which is great because I am going to be leaving her with a unit to do while I am gone!

On that note, we read through the Civil War battles this week. 

TIP:  Get excited about teaching!  It can make the driest material come to life!  Act shocked, disappointed, even excited as you read about events, actions, and even how things work... even if you already know the info, your kiddos don't and they will be more engaged with your narrations then without.  Also, don't be afraid to pause reading material to share related info in a side-note.

We only have one lesson left in our PACE History booklet on Civil War. I was going to have them work on a Civil War battle map but decided to leave that for them to do when I leave.

We will be ready to wrap up our formal schoolwork Monday so we can hang out together Tuesday and I can start packing since my flight leaves shortly after noon Wednesday.

I won't have anymore "Homeschool This Week" after this one until next school year.  But I will try to get some articles up on schooling and teenagers and how our long-distance learning is going.  So stay tuned!
 While I waited with baited breath Sunday to see if I was catching a quick flight out to help my dad, I worked on a Menu Planning notebook for the girls to use while I am gone.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  As usual, I put my own twist on it!  Included are tips for shopping, tips for cooking and recipes to go with the menu suggestions.  Most of which are family favorites, easy and my own.  I tried to pick recipes the girls have either helped me with enough to know how or ones that would be easy to figure out.  I should really do a photo-shoot and share on Menu Monday!

I attended a Facebook Usborne party recently and decided to order language books for the kids.  They may be high school but I figure it is like Rosetta Stone in book form: pictures with words to associate.  Brooke is fascinated with French and the book came with a reference in the back to help in sounding out the words.  She has enjoyed thumbing through it since it came.

 Thursday we ran some errands and then I took the kids for a rare treat:  ice-cream at a downtown specialty shop.  We had a bit to burn before getting hubby from work so we visited an antiques mall around the corner.  I love that my kids love antiques like I do!  Ashley made a great point: antique malls are like museums but better because you get to touch most of the displays!  I whole-heartedly agreed!!  Great field trip possibilities for older kiddos who are more skilled in not breaking things they touch then younger ones! 

Thursday we also finally captured that illusive haircut.  I forgot how fresh and even more handsome my man-child looks with a cut!

 Weeds were taking over my front gardening area.  A situation I desperately wanted to rectify before I left.  I don't know if my garden will get put in this year with my trip and all the unknowns when cancer is pronounced, but I at least didn't want a garden of weeds to present to the public at large!  The girls helped and between the three of us we made quick work of it after school books were closed on Friday.
 Clearing away weeds and leaves I found a patch of random green onions!  I planted seeds last spring but they never grew.  I thought our outdoor cat dug them up, yet here they are, about 2 feet over from where I put them!
Weeding helped make the flowers POP.  Bulbs planted by the previous owners are super fun to watch bloom in the spring.
Brenden finished his yard work (mowing and raking) and I sent him in to shower while the girls and I finished up.  We looked up from our task to see this in his window!  He is too funny.

 Speaking of things in the window, I planted herb seeds only a week and a half ago to get my window garden re-vamped.  A didn't expect to see them flourish before I left so I was super excited to see little plant babies peeking out. 

What have you been up to this week?


Linking up today with some of these...


  1. Very interesting tip about Poster Power and how it's working better now that the kids are older. Glad to hear the plans are coming together for you to be with your dad, and praying that all goes well for all of you. Thanks for linking up at HOmeschool Highlights!

    1. Thank you for the prayers and for always providing a great platform for homeschoolers to share!