Friday, December 21, 2012

Writing Ideas

Writing is always a great skill for everyone to continue to improve no matter what grade they are in. Here are ideas you might want to implement in your homeschool writing lessons.

  • Create a comic book or cartooning journal.
  • Write a shared story. You start the story off with the first two sentences and then have each of your children contribute a sentence or two until everyone agrees the story is complete.
  • Write letters to family members, especially the grandparents.
  • Write letters to soldiers.
  • Supply a daily writing prompt for your kids.
  • Have your kids write a “thankful” journal with daily entries.
  • Encourage your kids to keep a diary.
  • Show your children how to start their own blog. They will have to focus on writing if they want others to read their posts.
  • Find a newspaper article or magazine article that may be of interest to your children. Get them to write more about the characters of the article. What happened to them? What did they do afterwards?
  • Use headlines from the newspaper that you have cut apart. Lay out the different words to see what type of funny new headlines can be made. Let each child make a new headline and then write a short article for it. Funny or unusual stories are encouraged!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Beat the Winter Homeschool Blues

Don’t let winter keep your kids from having fun and learning. Here are some ideas for beating the winter homeschool blues.

  • Make a snowflake journal. Take the kids outside with a magnifying glass to examine snowflakes. Then, have the kids draw and cut snowflakes.
  • Make torn paper snow pictures. It is easy and mess free. Then, have the kids write about their picture.
  • Make a “snow” themed snack, maybe cookies covered with white icing.
  • Make shaving cream snow pictures.
  • Whip up some whipped snow.
  • Make snow ice cream--this was my favorite as a child.
  • Make snow angels and use food coloring to make snow pictures outside.
  • Make your own snow globe.
  • Make snow sculptures using different size buckets or pails.
  • Melt snow in a pan as you talk about different states of water.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Veterans' Day

Veterans' Day is an important holiday in the United States. In 1789 a law was passed to give money to soldiers who fought in the American Revolutionary War. In 1960, President Hoover signed a bill creating the Veterans Administration (VA).

Here are some ways to celebrate and learn about Veterans Day:

  • Have your child create a time line of events leading to the observance of the holiday.
  • If you know any veterans locally, suggest that your kids interview them about what it's like to serve in the U.S. military.
  • Research how American veterans were treated after they returned from various military conflicts, ranging from the French and Indian War to the Persian Gulf War. Ask your children to compare and contrast their findings. Also compare and contrast how women and minorities who served in those conflicts were treated.
  • Make thank you cards for veterans and mail or deliver them to the nearest VA hospital.
  • Draw and illustrate a picture or make a poster of Veterans Day, and what this holiday means. If you have family member currently deployed, have our child draw a picture of that family member serving our country.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Fun

I thought it might be fun to get a little “nutty” this month. November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month. Can you say Yum Yum!

Did you know that it takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter and that there are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches? Peanut butter was first introduced to the USA in 1904 at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis by C.H. Sumner, who sold $705.11 of the "new treat" at his concession stand.
Dr. George Washington Carver is referred to as the "peanut wizard" and father of the peanut industry. He began to study peanuts in 1914. He invented many things including the discovery of over 300 different uses for peanuts – such as making cooking oil, axle grease and printer's ink.

Here is a neat bit of trivia just for fun, "Arachibutyrophobia" (pronounced I-RA-KID-BU-TI-RO-PHO-BI-A) is the fear of peanut butter getting stuck to the roof of your mouth.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fire Safety

Fire safety is so very important. Would you or your children know what to do if a fire broke out in your home? Take time this month, fire safety month, to discuss and plan what your family needs to do to be safe in a fire emergency. This makes a great homeschool science or health lesson.

Start by learning about prevention. Are there any potential hazards in your home? Old cords, frayed or loose cords can be a fire waiting to happen. Are you overusing an extension cord? Do your smoke alarms work. Test them today.

Help your children draw a sketch of your home complete with escape routes. Practice fire drills by going over the different escapes from each room in your home until your kids have it down pat. Be prepared for any accidents by having fire extinguishers strategically placed around your home. Teach your children about Stop*Drop*and Roll. Teach them how to cover their mouth and nose with a wet cloth, how to crawl under smoke, and to never go back inside a burning building no matter what.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Columbus Day is celebrated in October to commemorate the historic landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. I am sure most of you know the little jingle, “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred-ninety-two.”

This is a great time to have some fun with your kids and enjoy entertaining a few crafts and activities. A fun science activity is to make an ocean bottle so you can create waves. You might enjoy a “green” project that involves a little recycling. Try making mini versions of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria out of egg carton cups. If you like to spy things, then this cardboard tube telescope is perfect for pretending to be Columbus as scoped out foreign land and ocean waves.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Some kids might think honey comes from bears if they like hearing Pooh stories. Some kids might think honey comes from the grocery store. Have a bee-utiful time this month learning about honey, flowers, and bees in science.

Bees make honey to feed their young and to have something to eat during the winter. Bees live in colonies. There are three types of bees in each colony. the queen bee, the worker bee and the drone.

Bees do give us honey, but they also are great pollinators. They buzz around looking for nectar and enable plants to produce the fruits and nuts we enjoy by carrying pollen from one plant or flower to the next. Sometimes farmers contact professional beekeepers to have them send honeybees to them in order to help their crops get pollinated.

Scientists have a hard time studying bees because they can travel up to two miles from their hive to look for nectar and if they get hurt or die, the scientist doesn’t know where to find them so he can find out why they died. Also, when scientists return to a hive they have been studying, about half the bees they studied on their first visit will be dead, replaced by new ones in the natural life cycle of bees.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Back to School Poetry

I thought it might be fun to share back to school poetry this month as an encouragement and maybe a laugh. After reading some, challenge your kids to write some back-to-homeshool poems.

A Dream of School Supplies
I had a dream of school supplies,
where paperclips could talk;
where poster paper hung around
with marking pens and chalk.

The stationery idled
while the pencils madly raced.
The clocks went 'round in circles,
and the glue sticks merely paced.

The binders were inseparable.
They bonded with the tape.
The workbooks exercised
and helped the stencils stay in shape.

Some calculators added
to the numbers in this land,
and music was provided by
a singing rubber band.

My dream was strange and truly cool,
but this was even cooler:
The dictionaries all looked up to me.
I was the ruler.
--Kenn Nesbitt

The Bells Are Ringing
by Roger J. Robicheau
The bells are ringing, to start school
Could you be thinking, it’s not cool
You want freedom, to live your way
To make each call, from day to day
The Summer passed, without those books
Why make a change, you liked the looks
Please stop and think, reach in your mind
The choice you make, could be a grind
You might end up, a lowly chump
Because you thought, you had the jump
Can you get by, on what you know?
Come on, be fair, probably no!
Look at yourself, and make the call
You better stay, your life could stall
Just work it out, make that twelfth grade
Embrace that Spring, greet your parade.

Back To School
When the summer smells like apples
and shadows feel cool
and falling leaves make dapples
of color on the pool
and wind is in the maples
and sweaters are the rule
and hazy days spell lazy ways,
it's hard to go to school.
But, I go!
~Aileen Fischer


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Labor Day

Summer is over and it is time to get back to work, school work that is. Labor means to work. President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day to be the first Monday of September. Labor Day was first observed on September 5th, 1882.

Whether it is chores around your home, or a paying job, lots of kids work. Some kids baby sit, deliver newspapers, walk the family pet, mow the yard, or help at the local food panty. Jobs are important. All of these jobs are important because they contribute to society - kids do make a difference.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

School Stuff

It is that time of year again, back to homeschool. It sure seems like the time off gets shorter and shorter each year. I know lots of homeschooling families school all year long, so “back to homeschool” really doesn’t apply to them.

For those that do take time off, getting ready to get started again usually means MONEY! You find that you need new school stuff. Just what is school stuff?
So much comes to mind when you think about what you might need for a near year of schooling, On a bright note, some things are free thanks to the Internet.

Here are some items or resources you might need this year:

  • graphic organizers
  • posters
  • curriculum
  • record keeping/homeschool forms
  • study guides
  • library cards
  • web site addresses
  • general supplies (scissors, glue, construction paper…)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tour de France

This month started off with talking about a mini unit on bicycle safety. For a little added fun, explore the Tour de France.

The term “bicycle” was not introduced until the 1860s. The French used the word to describe a new kind of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive. The Tour de France is one of the most famous bicycle races in the world. It began in 1903 and is considered to be the biggest test of endurance out of all sports. Lance Armstrong, an American cyclist, is the only rider to have won seven titles (1999–2005) after surviving cancer.

Look up race results from years past and compare times. Use a world map to locate the home country of racers. Where do most come from? How large are the crowds that gather to watch? What type of safety must be used along the race route? These are just some ideas to get you started. Have fun!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bicycle Safety

Sometimes it is fun to school outdoors. You might even bike to the local park if it is not too far from your home to study and have a picnic. Wait! Before you head out today, have you included bicycle safety in your lessons plans?

When I was a little girl in elementary school, bicycle safety was taught at school. Lots of kids rode their bike to school, so it made sense to make sure everyone knew the rules of staying safe on a bike. Those safety rules are still important today. Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike injuries, and at least 10,000 kids have injuries that require a few days in the hospital.

There are tons of great bicycle safety resources on the Internet. Find a few and put together a mini unit on bicycle safety for your kids. Like the old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry!”

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Hurricanes are also known as tropical cyclones and typhoons. They are mighty fierce storms that can cause violent 50-foot peaks and valleys in the ocean. Hurricanes also make a neat science, math, and history unit. All three subjects are easily covered when learning about them.

Some things to cover in your mini unit might include:

What is a hurricane?
Where do most hurricanes occur?
How does a hurricane form?
What is the life cycle of a hurricane?
What are the different hurricane categories?
What type of damage can a hurricane cause?
What are some ways scientist track hurricanes?
How do hurricanes get their names each year?

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Vexillology is the scholarly study of flags. Now that is a word I have never heard before, but it sounds pretty awesome to me. “My child is studying vexillology in history this week. What is your child working on?” Just kidding around, I know you wouldn’t try to brag like that!

Kids see flags flying all the time, at the post office, the bank, office buildings, the state capitol… It might be fun to do a mini study of flags. It can be a study of state flags, world flags, pirate flags… Talk to your children and find out what kind of flags they are interested in learning more about, then set sail for a high-flying adventure.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Evaluation Time

Some states require homeschool parents to keep records of what their child has done during the year. You might not ever be required to turn those records in, but it is always a good idea to have them filed away just in case. Besides, it is a great way to see the progress or lack of progress your student has made for the year. Even if your state doesn’t require this, you might want a record for yourself.

It is a good idea to keep records showing some of the following:

~Subjects studied
~Grades (if you keep grades) for each grading period, the semester, and the year.
~Mastered skills
~Areas of concern or areas you would like to see improvement
~Resources used
~Field trips taken
~Samples of writing assignments
~Books read by your child or books you read to your child

Monday, May 7, 2012


Trees are great for climbing, shading you on a sunny day, providing fresh air, looking beautiful and so much more. Kids can have fun exploring the trees in their neighborhood on a sunny day of outside learning.

You can do a mini study of trees in your state and then challenge your kids to correctly identify the five or so trees in your town. This challenge can be done as you run errands during the week. The kids will be busy trying to beat their sibling by identifying all five trees before anyone else. School can be fun you know!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dolch Words

About 50-75% of all words used in most school books, library books, newspapers, and magazines are in the Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary of 220 words (preschool thru Grade 3). That is why it is so important your child master those particular words…they will see them over and over again.

Since most Dolch words don't follow basic phonics principles, they really can’t be decoded (sounded out), they must be memorized.

The easiest way to memorize these words is via flash cards or online games. There are lots of site that offer Dolch resources for free. Tap in to them today and let the fun begin!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Earth Day Fun

Earth Day began on April 22, 1970. It's a day in which we think about our planet, our environment, and what we can do to help keep them healthy.

We need to teach our children ways to keep the Earth clean and healthy. Young kids can do this by making Earth Day crafts. Older kids can learn about reduce, reuse, and recycle. Another way to help the Earth is to shop carefully. Do you really need to buy something else, or will an item you already have work with a little modification?

Try planting a tree in honor of someone in your family. Help clean up and beautify areas in your local community or even around your own house. Turn off the television and other items in your house when you are not using them. They use electricity even when they are not on but are plugged in.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Iditarod Mini Lesson

Lots of kids love dogs, snow, and racing, so today, let’ look at the word “Iditarod” for a mini history lesson. It comes from the Indian word “haiditarod” which means “far distant place.” The Iditarod race begins the first Saturday in March, in Anchorage, Alaska, even though the actual trail is about 20 miles away.

The race was modeled after the All-Alaska Sweepstakes of 1907-08. Many people think it was started when the diphtheria serum was delivered to Nome, Alaska. The race became popular during the Alaskan gold rush in the late 1880’s to the mid 1920’s.

A driver (musher) marches dogs to pull his sled. Have your older child research when and why sledding began. Some people think it started when the first people crossed the Bearing land bridge into Alaska. Old parts and pieces were found.

This mini lesson can involve math, science, and history by calculating distances mushers drive dogs; estimating the combined weight of dogs, sled, and musher; pinpointing mushing routes on a map; studying the history of the mushing, including how the gold rush impacted it; learning about the wolves and later dogs that were used for mushing; find out why the price of dogs reached as much as $1,000 by the end of the 19th century; read about dog booties and why they were and are needed…

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How Do You Learn?

We are all different and we all learn differently. You might have a dominant style of learning or you might have a natural mix of learning styles. Knowing your child’s learning style(s) will help you deliver lessons that he can use the best. The three main learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

  • Visual-seeing and reading
  • Auditory-listening and speaking
  • Kinesthetic or Tactile-touching and doing

The visual learner has a great imagination. They might talk fast and easily forget auditory instructions. The visual learner uses his sense of seeing or observing things. Things that the visual learner uses or may benefit from using includes illustrations, diagrams, taking notes, sketching, seeing pictures, using flash cards, demonstrations, displays, handouts, movies, charts…
The auditory learner learns by listening. They can repeat things back. They like music and talking on the phone. Tone of voice and the words used can be important. They can be distracted by noise. The auditory learner transfers information by listening to someone speaking, listening to himself speak, or listening to sounds and noises. They can best use or benefit from listening to CD’s, reading out loud, NOT taking notes while someone talks, repeating facts with eyes closed, participating in group discussions, and more.

The kinesthetic learner uses the sense of touch. They learn best by touching, feeling, holding, doing anything that is hands-on learning. They need the experience. They often speak slowly and are very expressive with their hands. Kinesthetic learners benefit the most from physically doing something, working or studying in short blocks of time, using memory games, talking to in person rather than on the phone, taking field trips, marking in their book, and much more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fairy Tales

Fairytales or fables can be fun for kids of all ages. There really is lots you can do to extend the lesson. For example, if you are are reading Jack and the Beanstalk, talk about different types of beans. Plant beans and graph them as they grow. Experiment with light and no light. Younger kids can sort beans according to size, color, texture…, make bean and cheese quesadillas, act out the story, change the ending to the story, make a bean collage…

A fun activity is to write a family fairy tale involving all the members of your family. Create a story board. A storyboard will help us organize our thoughts by drawing pictures of the setting, characters, the problem, the attempts to solve the problem and the solution. Be sure to add color illustrations. Write a fractured fairy tale, they are my favorites!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Heart Smart

February is the time of year we exchange valentine cards, eat candy hearts, give candy in a heart-shaped box… Sometimes we cross our heart when we give our word to someone. Sometimes we sing about how our heart is overflowing with love for someone or something, or how our heart was broken. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever think my heart has actually been broken, maybe bruised a bit, but not broken. Whew! Thankfully, most of have healthy beating hearts.

Your heart is really a muscle, but it not shaped like a valentine. It's located just to the left of the middle of your chest (between your lungs), and it's about the size of your fist, and it looks red like meat. The heart sends blood around your body. The blood provides your body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs, and it carries away waste.

Have you ever wondered what your heart sounds like? Try building a stethoscope in this activity so you can listen to your heart.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


A good spelling curriculum includes a systematic approach to spelling using phonics and sight words. But you might be wondering why a child needs to focus on a formal spelling program when we use word processors with spell check.

According to Susan Jones, M. Ed., learning to spell helps to cement the connection between the letters and their sounds, and learning high-frequency “sight words” to mastery level improves both reading and writing.

Let your child play fun online spelling games for practice. My daughter is a visual learner, so I have her write her spelling word on a blank 3X5 index card and draw a picture of the word on the reverse. She is also dyslexic, so this works great for her.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Animals

What happens to animals during the winter season? Some animals head underground to stay warm and take a nap. This is called hibernating. Some head for warmer weather and better food choices. They are migrating. Those that stay where they are might begin to put on a heavy coat of fur to keep warm.

It’s always fun to try hands-on activates to reinforce what you are learning about. How about reading a book about animal tracks in snow, then try to make animal tracks in Crayola model magic. The white of the clay looks like snow. Animals have to work harder to find food in the winter. You can simulate this by hiding food in a large pan of rice (or something similar to act as the snow). Your child has to dig just like the animals do to find the food.

Have fun learning about hibernation in the following song.

Time For Hibernation
(Frere Jacques tune)
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Big black bear, big black bear?
Time for hibernation.
What is your location?
In a log, in a lair.
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, Hanging bat, hanging bat?
Time for hibernation.
What is your location?
In a cave is where I'm at.
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Garter snake, garter snake?
Time for hibernation.
What is your location?
In the mud, in a lake.
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Toad and frog, toad and frog?
Time for hibernation.
What is your location?
In a pond, near a log.
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Meadow mouse, meadow mouse?
Time for hibernation.
What is your location?
in a field, near a house.
Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Turtle friend, turtle friend?
Time for hibernation.
What is your location?
In the stream, till winter's end!