Looking for a different activity for your children this Black History Month? I recently wrote a lesson for WooJr, an amazing resource for educators and parents alike, that takes a look at a very different group of women in history. Titled "10 Black Women Pioneers to Know for Black History Month" this lesson provides an introduction to bell hooks, Nikki Giovanni, Nina Simone, Tarana Burke, Ella Baker, Alicia Farza, Opal Tometi, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Henrietta Lacks, and Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson.
Sometimes we forget to challenge our children when we homeschool. Unlike the more common form of schooling, homeschooling affords us the opportunity to take things slowly. We can reassess methods as necessary, and because we have more time to do so, we do not have to rush to get through the material. It is much easier to track the progress of individual students in a small setting. We do not need to focus on standardized exams and controversial regulations. Despite the freedom to go slowly and to make changes as we go, we can make mistakes.
My Math History
Let me begin by saying that math is not my strongest subject. While I struggle with basic math, I sail through the more advanced concepts. I have dyscalculia, a disorder that makes it difficult for one to understand basic number sense. I struggle with understanding the logic of how numbers work and memorizing basic number facts. A person suffering from dyscalculia may not realize that if one has “five bees” and another has “five cats,” or “five books,” both people have five objects. The aforementioned is what many call “number blindness.”
As you can imagine being number-blind can make grasping math very difficult. By the time that I received my diagnosis of dyscalculia, I was in eleventh grade and had been struggling with basic math for years. I carry that with me as I homeschool.
Read Alouds are all the rage in homeschooling circles, but the truth is that reading aloud to your children should be a priority even if your children attend school outside of the home. Many write off picture books because they believe that they are too easy/young for older children. However, when I was teaching High School English, I used them to teach literary elements/terms like irony, simile, metaphor, and more. I also used short stories as they offer uniquely, diverse viewpoints that help broaden a child (and a parent’s) perspective. I use read alouds to do two things: to help teach a concept and to foster a love of reading.
Here are a few suggestions for great read alouds. [Read more…]
First Americans are those many people call Native Americans. We say First Americans because they were the first inhabitants of the land now known as America. The term is less confusing because anyone who is born here is actually Native American. First Americans is a less ambiguous term and pays homage to the fact that they were already here before Christopher Columbus “discovered” America.
We are studying northwest and southwest First Americans. Using various media forms to learn makes the process more interesting and allows information to be disseminated in a more palpable manner. The Tornado is very receptive to movies and documentaries when used in conjunction with interactive notebooking and reading text. We don’t subscribe to a regular cable service but we do pay for Amazon Prime, Netflix, Curiosity Stream, and Hulu. We also utilize free services such as History.com.
Many people are turned off by Amazon Prime because it is a little difficult to search, but I was able to find some great documentaries that are free (as of this posting) with Prime Membership. I wanted to share the documentaries that we have watched that I believe are beneficial to the learning process. Most of them are short- no more than 30 minutes, and the content is easily digestible without being too Eurocentric.
Finding an online homeschool planner should not have been so hard. It should not have driven me to the verge of tears. It should not have made me SCREAM multiple times, but it did. It was tedious to say the least.I didn’t think I had too many requirements, but it seems that I was asking for a lot.
What time should you start your homeschooling day? This is a common source of anxiety for many homeschooling families. It was for us as well. Having come from a traditional school background (I was a teacher for five years before leaving to homeschool The Tornado), I was used to waking up at 5:00 AM to begin my day. That meant the she was awake that early as well. Our bedtime ritual began at 5:00 PM and she was usually asleep by 5:30 PM. I was also attending graduate school so between lesson planning, grading, and writing/reading for grad school, my nights did not end until much later. And we were all miserable.
When I left teaching the first change I made to our lives was to increase the amount of sleep we got. My daughter has always been a good sleeper so that wasn’t an issue. But I suffer from insomnia and struggle to fall asleep. Once I do, I can sleep for fourteen hours with no problem. Unfortunately, I rarely (even now) get more than six hours, and that’s being generous. Dealing with poor sleep health and trying to homeschool while cranky and exhausted made for pretty bad experiences.
At first, I thought that we had to start our homeschooling day on a “normal” schedule. We awoke around 8:00 AM and homeschooled right after breakfast. But it did not work for us. I work from home and need time to deal with business during regular business hours. The Tornado is not a morning person either, much like her parents. She struggles to focus in the early day and we both do better when we have a chance to ease into the day.
The solution for us was to start our homeschooling day in the early afternoon. We usually start at 1:00 PM, but we are flexible with that. Some days we manage to start earlier, most days it’s later. What I have learned is that we do what works for us and I no longer feel guilt of shame that I am not “normal” schedule homeschooler. When it comes to preparing our daughter for the real world, my husband and I believe that it is more important to teach her to do what she needs to do to meet the goals that she has set for herself. That means if she takes a job that begins at 8:00 AM, then she will know that she has to plan her life accordingly. Additionally, I think it’s important for her to know that she does not have to do things like everyone else. She can create a life of herself that best fits her body-clock.
So. what time should you begin your homeschooling day? At whatever time works for you.
What do you think? When do you begin?
Free Homeschooling is possible! Welcome to my new series. I will try to post this weekly.
The truth is that homeschooling can be very expensive if you get caught up purchasing tools and supplies. Luckily, there are numerous free resources available to help keep your budget from bursting at the seams. Here are are few of my favorite.
This is a full online-curriculum that allows students to learn independently online. You can change grades at any time by emailing the organizers or, if you upgrade to a premium account, through your on-line Parent Dashboard. This curriculum covers all subjects and the lessons are broken up by day (180 days) and your child can begin at any time. You do not have to do every lesson and we use it when things get busy around here. For the most part, this is a supplemental curriculum for us but it can be used as a spine.
Free online textbooks and online practice for children. Hevaily focused on STEM. Completely free but registration required. I print these out when I use them as my daughter learns better when she can highlight, take notes on, or write directly on the material.
Interactive learning tools that help supplement lessons. While not a full curriculum, the information here is invaluable. These resources are all interactive and are more or less available for use on PC/Macs, iPads, Android Tablets, and other mobile devices. Search by subject available. All resources here are completely free.
What are your favorite free resources? Please share in the comments!
This has been an interesting year! When we began homeschooling this year, things were going rather smoothly! I even did a video about how I planned and shared my weekly sheets that I created to help keep us on track. However, the thing is, often, the best-laid plans go awry when life kicks it up a notch. I worked hard at creating a system I believed was going to work had our year progressed in the same manner in which it began. Sometimes, things happen, and you have to step back to start anew.
You may remember that I was running my web design and social media business. I was working on six-week projects with concrete start and finish dates, and I had more time to homeschool all day if needed. Then, my husband and I decided that I would look for full-time employment that I could do from home. NextRep offered me a position as a customer service agent with their team. The work required that I train during a set time but then provide service during a pretty flexible schedule. Unfortunately, answering calls in my bedroom, as opposed to an office, was challenging and made what could have been a GREAT job a nightmare (the perils of downsizing from a three-bedroom to a two-bedroom). As I contemplated using my MS degree to go back into the classroom, I was contacted by a company with whom I had previously applied for a Social Media Manager position. They were looking for someone to work full-time and not necessarily from home. However, after the initial meeting, it became apparent that it was a great fit.
I now work about thirty-six hours a week for a steady, reliable income. I began the job two weeks before Christmas, and I was rolling full-steam ahead from the very beginning. I also continue to do web design as I have a few obligations to complete before deciding if I want to close my shop permanently.
Starting in a new position left, what amounts to, microscopic time for homeschooling in the way that I had planned. That is not true. I could have continued with the schedule and planning, but it was not in our best interest. Between ADD, depression, and anxiety (all mine), I decided that the best thing to do would be to sign Mya up for Time4Learning. I was hesitant at first because we had previously tried this online curriculum only to discover that Mya figured out how to buck the system (she’d click through really quickly for 30 minutes just to play the games). After reviewing the curriculum again, and deciding that because she was older now, she would be better able to understand the requirements, we signed her up again.
Within two months it became apparent that she was not retaining any information and that her learning style is not conducive to an independent, online, curriculum. I did what any parent would, and I cancelled our subscription and turned to something else. For the most part, we have been using the materials I had chosen at the beginning of the year and doing so in a very flexible manner. Rather than the massive amounts of scheduling like I was doing early on, I now make lists.
Enter the Bullet Journal.
Planning and organizing are a task that most people avoid.I love it but understand that it is stressful and requires too many components to ensure that I am doing things correctly. It’s not necessarily difficult. It’s just that there are so many options. Here were my requirements.
- A system that helped keep things neat.
- One book that I could carry around and that is it; a system that was simple and condense. I have been using a Passion Planner for two years which is a goals oriented planner for my everyday life and the Our Classroom Planner that I made and sell on Teachers Pay Teachers for homeschooling. But the truth is that it’s just too hard to keep track of EVERYTHING.
- A system that allowed me to utilize my natural desire to brain dump and list the things that I needed to do while providing flexibility and ease.
- No stickers
- No cute spread layouts.
- A simple pen and pencil system
The Bullet Journal is that system. It allows me to create the lists that I need (To Do List; Shopping Lists,; Book Log; Homeschooling Projects; Menus, etc,) all in one place. There is an index so that I can find things quickly and even with a massive migraine like the one I have had for almost two weeks, I can check things off without having to look at the glare of the screen. It works for me, and I’m shocked that I haven’t utilized it sooner.
If you are interested in how learning more about the Bullet Journal, head over to my personal blog and read 11 Tips for Starting a Bullet Journal Quickly.
New YouTube video up on my channel. In it, I talk about teaching reading comprehension and what I do to ensure that my daughter is getting the whole picture when she reads. Check it out below:
Tools that I mention in the video:
— Novel Notes (by me): http://ow.ly/101DVU
— Reading Response Journal Questions: http://ow.ly/101DVU
— Reading A-Z: http://ow.ly/101HFk
— Bloom’s Taxonomy: http://ow.ly/101ENa
Halloween is an exciting time in most houses as are Halloween Crafts. If yours is like mine, your child has been talking about and/or wearing her Halloween costume since October 1. I so enjoy watching her creativity come to life and even more so excited about how much her imagination has grown since last year. The Gerg has decided that she wants to be a “Classic Ghost” rather than her superhero staple of the years past. I admit, however, that she may change her mind again for the tenth time. It is so hard to keep up with her costume changes!
This week’s Little Passports blog Post, Easy 4-step Halloween Craft. is a great way to utilize your child’s endless supply of creativity. It is an easy Halloween craft sure to delight your darlings in disguise and I’m adding it to my list for this weekend.
***The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.
We’re about to begin our second week of World History, a unit created for our second block of homeschooling 4th grade. I wanted to share what we are doing and plan to share our progress along the way. Of course, this is designed for my 4th grader, but you can tweak it as needed for your child. And if you are interested in a AP World History curriculum, check out Interactive Homeschooling’s World History series.
- History for Homeschoolers: World History Modules- This is a new series of lectures by George S. Pabis, Ph.D., husband of project-based homeschooer Shelli Pabis. The lectures are less than 20 minutes long and provide short lessons through World History. I listen to this recording before planning my lesson as it is a great refresher for me. Additionally, Dr. Pabis provides vocabulary words that are important to know when studying each specific period. I choose a few of those words (sometimes all of them) to go over with my daughter prior to beginning the week’s lesson. I also decide if the the lecture is simple enough for my daughter. If it is, then I add it to our podcast selection. If I think it’s too complicated for her, I will summarize the lecture. What I like about them is that they are simple and fun.
World History Vocabulary
- Fertile Crescent:
- Podcast History of Our World: Mesopotamia
- History for Homeschoolers: World History Learning Module #3: Mesopotamia
- The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History(pages 108 – 113).
- Scholastic Ancient Civilization: Mesopotamia (p73 -94)
Activities (from Scholastic book)
- Mesopotamian Numerals to Solve Math Problems
- The Royal Game of Ur
- Recording Trade with Cuneiform
- Hammurabi’s Code of Laws
Activities from Story of the Word Activity Book
- Any activity in which she seems interested.
- Legacy the Origins of Civilization Ep.1 Pt.1
- Legacy the Origins of Civilization Ep.1 Pt.2
- Ancient Worlds: Part 1 Come Together at CuriosityStream (Membership Site)
- Architectural Marvels of Ancient Mesopotamia
- Mesopotamia: The British Museum
- Virtual Tour of the Oriental Institute Museum
- Map of Ubaid cities, and showing how far the Persian Gulf reached inland.
- Ancient History Encyclopedia
- Where in modern day is the land of Mesopotamia located?
- What does the name “Mesopotamia” mean and what was the significance to the people of the area?
- What kinds of crops did the Sumerians grow?
- What materials were the first Sumerian houses made of and how did they change later? How was the city designed and why was it designed in this way?
- Describe the Sumerian system of government.
- How did Mesopotamia differ from the Ancient Civilizations of Egypt and or Greece?
- Why is this area called the “Cradle of Civilization?”
- What developments are credited to the civilizations of Ancient Mesopotamia?
- Summarize the Epic of Gilgamesh.
- What did people in this area do for a living?
- Based on what you know, draw a City-State of Mesopotamia.
- What was Hammurabi’s Code?
- Create the Ziggurat of Ur in Minecraft using only the materials available in Ancient Mesopotamia.
ELA Interactive Notebooks are my favorite. We use interactive notebooking for every subject as it helps with note taking and reviewing. While most combine Reading and Language into one notebook, we have actually divided it into THREE.
- a Literature Notebook (for teaching how to critique and analyze literature)
- a Reading Notebook for exploring the habits of good readers
- and a Language Notebook for grammar
Here are some highlights of our books. I use elements of notebooking templates that I purchased from Teacher’s Pay Teachers. My favorites are Nicole Shelby’s 3rd and 4th Grade Interactive Reading Notebooks, Lovin Lit’s Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks, and Tangstar Science’s Interactive Notebook Templates.
When I was teaching High School English back in 2005, another teacher used Weekly Sheets to keep her students informed about what would be happening in the upcoming week. It was a practice many of us quickly adapted, myself included. I never thought to use it in our homeschooling mainly because it required that I be certain about what was going to happen… and that’s where I fail!
I have a HUGE problem with staying consistent in everything that I do. With homeschooling, I begin with Big Fat Hairy Goals (a term that I took from my time as a New York Teaching Fellow), but then I miss a day, and that turns into a week, and then it seems like everything is just out of whack. When I began planning for this year, I realized that in order to stay consistent, I needed to be (1) realistic (2) organized (3) focused (4) and fluid.
So once I planned out my six week block, I knew that I could produce weekly sheets that would move us forward by keeping us on track. The sheet is pretty self-explanatory and while I create them in advance, I do not give them to my daughter until we begin the week. This way if there is something that we did not get to that needs to be added, I can do so.
The Tornado loves having the sheets in her binder. She is able to see what we are doing and because I include her spelling and vocabulary words for the week, she can review quickly.
You can download the free Weekly Sheet template (a PowerPoint file) at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
It seems like I am always changing up the way I do things and I am. Reflection and adaptation are the two words that motivate my homeschooling efforts. I remain open minded about, and aware of, my strengths and weaknesses. To that end, we have revamped our homeschooling this year. Check out my video on YouTube that explains what we are doing, why, and how you can get started.
Leave a comment if you have any questions.
I’m in the process of planning for the new school year. That’s actually not true because I have decided to nix school years and just think of each year as a new session. So I am planning for our next session. In doing so, a friend from our homeschooling co-op introduced me to two blogs: Ed Snapshots and Amongst Lovely Things. I have been reading various posts on both blogs and noticed that I have never posted my Homeschooling Goals. These goals are what I want my daughter to learn and gain through our choice to homeschool. These are things that I firmly believe that she could not gain in an institutional school setting.
- I want my child to have a strong sense of self. To know who she is and from where she came and to understand what makes her unique. I want her to have faith in her ability to do her best and put forth a valiant effort. That perfection does not exist but that she should take pride in her work. And I want her to remain humble and grateful.
- I want her to have a solid grasp of her likes and dislikes while knowing that it is never to late to makes changes.
- I want my daughter to communicate well both orally and in writing. I want her to have a strong vocabulary and the confidence to share her thoughts and feelings and to know that self-expressions is a great source of freedom.
- I want her to question and to seek knowledge. I want her to remain curious and reflective while understanding the interconnectedness of all that she encounters. I want her to be open to different perspectives while using what helps/works from those to formulate her own. I want her to seek out the stories of her elders and to respect the knowledge gained from experience to guide her through life.
- I want her to appreciate culture (art, music, food/cooking, fashion, dance, etc.) and engage in these things openly for fun and knowledge.
- I want her to develop a love of reading and the written word. I want to her read and be able to discuss the classics as well as more contemporary works. I want her to be able to discuss the works of well-known writers while also looking to the lesser known ones for inspiration and understanding of the greater world.
- I want her to develop a love of language and to learn multiple languages through study and travel.
- I want her to have a working and accurate knowledge of history and geography and to be able to discuss the contributions of traditionally marginalized people.
- I want her to love and respect nature and the universe and the wonders of science and to see herself (and humans) not as the center of the universe but as one of many within it.
- I want her to have a strong working knowledge of financial security while understanding that happiness does not come from the amount of money one makes. I want her to be at ease with numbers and basic calculations so that she can make wise decisions about her finances.
- I want her to maintain her imagination and to use that to help effect positive change in the world.
- I want her to actively pursue physical and healthy activity and to respect her body and her mind.
- I want her to explore her world and to never be afraid to encounter change.
- I want her to be compassionate, empathetic, and accepting of others. I want her to understand that if one is to be free, than all must be free. Freedom is a right granted to all who share and occupy the universe.
- I want her understand what a healthy relationship/family/friendship is and to have fond memories of her time with her family. I want her to value her friendships and her family while creating healthy boundaries and taking time for self-care. And I want her to know that any relationship that she wishes to have will take work and requires nourishment.
What are your homeschooling goals?
Image Credit: Ky from Flickr
Over the past year, I have made numerous notebooks and journals. I’m practicing and developing prototypes to sell, but I also enjoy making them with The Tornado. Truth be told, she isn’t as excited about making them as I am, but she loves having personalized books for her notes, detective work, journaling, and now, her poetry.
We have been studying classical poetry and have been writing our own. In fact, we recently wrapped up our author study of William Blake and I had an idea to create our own poetry journals to keep track of our own creations, as well as phrases/poems that we read and enjoy. I have kept a poetry/quote journal on and off for as long as I can remember and it’s fun to look through some of them now and reread what I have written/found.
Here’s how to make your very own composition-styled notebook at home. This is a long tutorial so take some time to read it before you dive in to making one.
I’ve struggled with timing. I never know when to teach essay writing. The Tornado is eight, and while she writes blog posts and journal entries, the concept of essay writing seemed a bit daunting. But, she kept asking me how to write one and, because I am trying to incorporate more child-led learning into our homeschooling, I agreed.
Years ago when I was a high school teacher, I discovered that children have a natural aversion to writing essays. They seem to freeze in fright with the mere mention of the word, and the results very rarely reflect their skill or knowledge. So I decided to avoid calling what we were going to do an essay. I only said that we were going to answer some questions. That meant saving my favorite essay graphic organizer, the Hamburger, for a later date.
The Tornado has been reading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Her interest in Greek Mythology mirrors my own, so I’m happy to discuss these books with her. A few days ago she asked me why people think that girls are weak. That prompted a discussion about the stereotypes that society places on boys and girls. And that led to a comparison between our world and that of Riordan’s- a perfect opportunity for an essay. [Read more…]
I am a techie. Always have been. For some reason, I was able to understand computers, and from the moment I used my first one back in 1988, I just knew what to do. I’m a self-taught web developer, and I love having the ability to make computers do what I want. Suffice it to say that my love of technology is a large part of how we homeschool. We have an iPad and use several programming apps. My daughter knows how to type and understands the parts of a computer. She even has a blog.
Today, she designed her first web page. I am teaching her HTML, CSS, and PHP and we are hard-coding our pages and putting together a course that I may offer to others. We will be focusing on design principles and on writing valid code, but we will also have fun. My hope is to have her create a book review site for children that will run on a CMS that she builds herself.
I, along with several other awesome homeschooling moms of color, was recently interviewed by Ericka Taylor, the creator of and the visionary behind the new site Living Ma’at. It was a great experience and it was nice to share my family’s homeschooling philosophy and day but more importantly, it was nice to read about other Black homeschooling moms.
Whew! What a year. Actually, what a year and a half. Technically, we are completing second grade, but things have been moving slowly. Moving across country is enough to drive the sanest of people batty. For me, I am a complete mess. Between building a business from the ground up because we left most of our clients back east, trying to get acclimated to our new state, dealing with working from home with my husband, The Tornado’s mental, intellectual, and emotional growth, and this nagging desire to have a baby, life has been a barrel of monkeys. Throw a mountain of financial wows (read about how we and others homeschool through a financial crisis at home | school | life magazine) into the mix and the chaos has been strong with us.
The Tornado turned eight on Sunday and we celebrated with a party on Monday. It was a small get together of nine children and five adults that lasted from 2:00 PM to 8:15 PM. There was food, a splash zone, and a park with slides, monkey bars, and swings. And there was a bully. Here is the story as told by my daughter:
The Tornado: Mommy, there was a mean girl at the park. She tried to bully me.
Me: I’m sorry honey. Was it one of the guests at the party?
The Tornado: No. It was another girl. We were trying to figure out what to play and I asked if they would let me choose because it was my birthday and she said, ‘so, who cares?’ She was mean.
Me: I’m sorry that happened. What did you say?
The Tornado: Nothing. My friends stood up for me and told her that she was being mean and rude. It’s hard to be bullied when you have friends who stick together.
Me: So true!
The Tornado has always stood firm against bullies. She stands up for other children at the park even when she doesn’t know them and it makes us proud. But since moving to Arizona and feeling a bit displaced, I’ve often wondered if she was missing out on developing lasting friendships. That is totally my own issue though, not hers. However, this story has made me so happy. She has learned what it means to be a friend and she has learned that it takes support to take down a meanie! I am very happy.
On Monday, April 7, the premier issue of home/school/life Magazine will be available, and I am quite excited for several reasons. Truth be told; I miss magazines. I miss sitting on the sofa and reading insightful articles that spark conversation and action. I have not subscribed to a magazine in years because, as a homeschooling mom, there are very few that interest me. Most parenting magazines speak to those who have to send their children off to school daily and then must do the normal household duties. However, I am a work-at-home mom who has to balance that with educating my child. There are very different challenges for moms like me, and there are very few magazines that speak to either aspect of my life. Home/school/life is a welcome addition.
I’m looking forward to learning about how others are homeschooling. I learn so much from reading other homeschooling blogs, and it is nice to know that there is no perfect way to homeschool. Home/school/life magazine promises to offer a variety of perspectives for those who educate at home. Another bonus? They pay their writers!
As of now, only digital subscriptions are available for $15. When print subscriptions become available, should you decide hat you want a print version, you will only be charged the difference in price. However, I am offering a free digital subscription for my readers. All you have to do is comment on this post answering the following question:
“What aspect of homeschooling do you find most difficult to navigate?”
The contest will run from today, Saturday, April 5 -Tuesday, April 8.
*I have received a free digital subscription to home/school/life magazine for my introduction posts. All thoughts are mine and mine alone.
*image credit: Shelli Pabis
We’ve spent a lot of time on addition and subtraction in part because I wanted to insure that The Tornado had a good grasp of her fact families. I used to feel pressure to keep up with others who were also using Singapore Math, but I’ve become less concerned with the speed in which we complete things and more with the level of mastery we achieve. We just began multiplication in Singapore Math book 1b and The Tornado mastered the concepts pretty quickly. We decided to put together two instructional videos that help introduce multiplication.
In the first video, I explain the concept of grouping in multiplication. It is simple and basic.
In the second video, The Tornado explains the relationship between grouping, addition, and multiplication. There are are few errors in the second video and we will redo it to fix them, but I did want to share our first attempts.
I absolutely love the blog, I Capture the Rowhouse, and Farrar’s frequent posts about what her family is reading inspired me to share similarly here.We read a lot and I really want a better way of keeping a record of what we are reading. As I look for a way that works for our family, I will share some of the books we’ve been losing ourselves in for hours at at time.
Who Stole the Mona Lisa by Ruthie Knapp
Written in first-person, this book retells the story of the theft of the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, told by none other than the subject depicted in the painting. The book is illustrated with magnificent paintings by Jill McElmerry that help move the reader through time from de Vinci’s world to present day. We’ve read this six times since bringing it home from the library and not only is it an interesting way to introduce children to classic art and biography. Some activities that we done with this book include: order of events, answering the 5 Ws and H, and for art, painting portraits.
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard
When the children in her classroom refuse to listen to her, Miss Nelson hatches a plan to teach them a lesson. She disappears and a meaner, firming teach returns in he place. The children are determined to solve the mystery of their missing teacher and are desperate for her return. This is one of my favorite books and was shocked that we hadn’t read it yet. The Tornado was no fool and figured out what happened almost right away. but we enjoyed it even still. We discussed how people stereotype based on appearance and discussed foreshadowing and other clues left by authors to help guide the reader to a specific conclusion.
Most homeschoolers are doing it on one income. It’s tough, especially when financial worries have us on the fence about the decision tocontinue homeschooling. We try to save money on food, extracurricular activities, family outings and so much more by using sites like Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op, Groupon, Living Social, and others. But if you are like me and you need to make some extra money, then you are constantly looking for ways to generate income. Here are a few tips that are working or have worked for me.
Pre-History is the study of the world before there was written language/documentation. By its most basic definition, it is secular – although I have seen some religious bloggers use religion to teach PreHistory. However, because we teach from an evolutionary point of view, it was important that not only do we focus on Pre-History for a full year, but that we combine it with much of what is the foundation for study history: questioning, exploring, sorting through fact vs fiction, and understanding scientific reasoning.
When we decided to homeschool with a full curriculum, The Tornado was 4. She would be entering Kindergarten, and I was desperate for a curriculum that would take us through Pre-History without any religious interference. It was virtually impossible to find one. Seriously, it was virtually impossible. But then I found a Pre-History curriculum from someone named “Raising Scientist” at Lulu.com. It, unfortunately has since been removed. Truth be told, I thought it was lacking in a lot of areas, but it did provide a basis for what I would ultimately plan for my daughter. Below is how we taught Pre-History and the activities that we did to help further understanding.
This post uses affiliate links. Only items I have used personally are linked here.
What You Need
(B) = Book (A) = Activity (M) = Movie (NM) = Netflix Movie (APS) = Amazon Prime Streaming
- The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (B)
- List of areas to study
- Giant Evolution Timeline: Poster (A)
- World Prehistoric Illustrated (A)
- Discovering Prehistory (How it Works) (B)
- Evolution Revolution from Darwin to DNA (B)
- When Fish Got Feet, Sharks Got Teeth, and Bugs Began to Swarm: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Long Before Dinosaurs (B)
- I Dig Bugs: Amber Fossil Excavation (A)
- From Lava to Life: The Universe Tells Our Earth’s Story: Book 2 (The Universe Series) (B)
- First Dinosaur Encyclopedia (B)
- Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story (B)
- Walking with Dinosaurs (M) (NM) (APS)
- Prehistoric Coloring Books (Chose the ones you want to use)
UPDATED TO ADD:
If you are worried about the durability of your homemade dry erase board and if you read that after a while, the dry erase markers begin to stain, there is hope. My board does not stain because I used WET ERASE Markers only! And to clean the board, I use a damp micro-fiber cloth.
I realized early on that I was going to need a reliable dry-erase board if we had any hope of being successful at this homeschooling thing. My daughter is a visual learning, so we need a lot of space to draw, diagram, and practice. And while she does the bulk of her work on paper (notebooking, note-taking, and more), a dry -erase board makes life a bit easier.
I had my heart set on this board for a while, but quickly realized that I had neither the money to buy it nor the space to store the thing. We needed something that we could pull out when we were going to use it and something that would be easily stored under or behind a sofa.
And did I mention that it had to be big?
So, I made one. The board to the right was made for $15.99. I bought a sheet of melamine* from Home Depot (you can also use Mark-r-board or “white panel board”). I bought one 48 inch sheet and had an attendant cut it in half. I then had two squares. At home, I placed the squares back-to-back and taped them with Pink Duct Tape to keep them together and to cover the edges. And Ta-Da! My double-sided dry-erase board. [Read more…]
I can officially say that this school year has been a complete and utter wash, and we will be redoing the entire year over starting Monday. We hope to be able to complete all of first grade by the end of August 2013. And, I’m OK with that, I guess.
We started the year off strongly, on the heels of my husband’s thyroid surgery back in May 2012. We had good news (no cancer) and our days were filled with learning experiences. We were accomplishing so much. We planned to move in with my mother-in-law, a decision that came with a lot of stress but many benefits such as a back yard, more space, and endless possibilities. But then, out of the blue, she died. The woman who survived losing her husband three years earlier and breast cancer, and was gearing up for a kidney transplant, was healthier than we had seen her in a long time. She was driving again, helping us pick out tile and what not for the renovations to the house, and was so excited to be taking such an active role in her youngest granddaughter’s life. And then, in the blink of an eye, she was gone.
Needless to say, we took a break as we struggled to find a new, new, new normal. Not only did we lose an amazing family member, our plans to move were halted (for the 3rd time in 2 years). And while we lived in limbo for almost 5 months, my husband’s company was gearing up for yet another round of layoffs- 55 people to be exact. Fearful about what would happen, we discussed what to do if they offered a buyout: take it and hightail it out of NY. It was the perfect opportunity to relocate to Arizona, a dream that we hared for over a decade. It became a reality, and we decided to move by the end of 2012. This meant packing, getting rid of what we were not bringing, cleaning out the in-laws house, and finding a place and employment in a state that we did not visit. Thank goodness for great friends.
Our lives were filled with nothing but move-related activities from October until well into the New Year, which meant that homeschooling was just not going to happen in the regular way that we were hoping. We were using a lot of supplemental work, but the time between doing and reviewing was just too great to be effective. And the lack of a formal schedule has led to some serious issues from the little one.
The Tornado does so much better with a schedule. In fact, one of the reasons that we began using the Workbox System was to help add more structure and accountability to our days. A cross-country move will shatter any plan to tiny bits. She is acting out- not listening, arguing about everything, unwilling to focus on any “lesson,” and did I mention that she is acting like a 16 year old trapped in the body of a 6 year old.
There are so many reasons for this too: eating poorly, not enough sleep, no schedule, coping with loss and change, sensing her parents’ anxiety because were are both out of work…. The list goes on. Rather than fight every day, I backed off a bit and I let structured school days fall by the way side. But I realized that unschooling does not work for us. I should say that I re-realized it. In this house, we all need the comfort of explicit boundaries, rules, and expectations.
The plan is to get us back on track starting Monday. I hope I can find the energy to do so, though. Not having a job has left us to living a life a leisure and that’s a hard habit to break.
We began studying World and American History in September with an introduction to early civilizations and early means of trade. Specifically, we talked about the Iroquois American Indian tribe and their use of the Wampum Bead as a method for trade. Then we made our own homemade version. Here’s how:
- 2 c. flour
- 1 c. salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 c. water
Mix it all together until it forms a dough like paste. Let it sit for about 30 minutes (it should have a semi-hard crust). Pull different sized chunks from the dough and roll, flatten, or shape into beads as desired. Poke pencil-sized wholes in each one for threading onto string or wire. Bake the beads on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes at your oven’s lowest setting. You want the beads to harden. If your oven is taking too long, turn it up. It’s OK if your beads turn a light brown because you will be painting them. When your beads are done, allow them to cool before painting them. It may help to set the cookie sheet by a open window if it is cold outside.
Painting your beads is a lot of fun and is the perfect way to let younger children explore colors and patterns. While historically, wampum beads were mainly purple and white, some say that they also used red and black beads as well. We painted our beads in various colors and patterns because we are just too creative for our own good.
The first run of The World is Our Classroom is available for download at the new website http://ourclassroomplanner.com/. It’s free for the first 20 customers and then it will go on sale for $15.00. Head over and get yours now!
Here is a look at the inside of the planner. As of now, I am going to be offering the planner for free as a download. It will include the 12 month calendar sheets (religious holidays are not noted) and then 1 copy of each sheet. That way you can print it and punch holes in it if you would like. Eventually, I am going make the pages editable in Adobe, but I never intended to so that is not a priority as of now.
Love to hear your thoughts!
[book id=’5′ /]
I have designed a paper Homeschooling Planner (Year-round) that offers the following:
-52 Weeks of Gratitude Chart
-Year at a Glance (June 2012 – July 2013)
-Importing Reporting Dates (Fill-in)
-Family Read-Aloud Book List (fits 40)
-Family Field Trips List
-Student Info (for up to 4 children)
-Homeschooling Goals (up to 4 children)
-Subject Time Log (7 days/wk for up to 4 children for 52/wks)
-12 Dated Monthly Calendars from June 2012 through May 2013
– Weekly Schedule (summary- up to 4 children for 52/wks)
-Daily Planning (detailed up to 4 children for 184 days)
What else would you like to have in your Planner?
I always said that I would not be the kind of parent to take my young child to see a movie that was/is too mature for her let alone to an evening movie. I always thought it was a sign of irresponsible parenting. Granted, I usually witnessed parents lugging their young ones to bloody movies like “Gladiator” and “Underworld,” so my reaction was based on that experience.
But then we became parents and started homeschooling. We have been blessed with an empathetic young girl who is an old soul with a unique, albeit simplistic, understanding of the complexities of the world. And she love superheroes. She is a big fan of Spiderman, Captain America, She-Ra, He-Man, and Superman. She is fascinated by Batman (although we’ve agreed that he is a hero but not a superhero because he does not have superpowers), thinks the Joker is silly and bad, confused by Catwoman, and wants to fight the good fight. We watch all of the old cartoon on Netflix and borrow comic books and graphic novels from the library. In fact, her sixth birthday party was superhero-themed complete with homemade capes and Ironman paper plates.
Now I admit that we share a connection over this love because I am a bit of a superhero buff. So, the hubs and I made the decision to see The Avengers and after skimming some online reviews on different parenting sites, agreed that The Tornado would love it as well. Tonight, we went to see The Avengers and I am SO happy that we did. Here’s why:
[Read More at My Mercurial Nature]
As much as I hate infographics, this one is a necessity. What I find interesting is that even with all of this proof, people will still find a way to marginalize homeschooled students based not on facts, but instead based on the need to justify their own choices.
Created by: CollegeAtHome.com
She’s reading! That’s right; my daughter began reading about a month ago and it has opened up a whole new world for us as a family. Seriously, I finally feel like we can actually do this homeschooling thing now!
Truth be told, I have known that she could read longer than she has known. She mastered her phonics sounds by the time she was three and by the time she was four she had a pretty impressive bank of sight words. And then I would catch her reading random words but when she realized that I was watching, she would ask for help. By the time she was four-and-a-half, she was reading two-syllable words with ease but without confidence. Finally she admitted to me that she did not want to ready because she did not want to be a big girl. It was enough to tell me to slow down and I pulled back opting to take reading step by step and not rush.
Yet, the thought of teaching my daughter phonics, and yes, it has to be phonics as that whole language, balanced literacy crap is exactly that: crap – sent me into a full-fledged anxiety attack each time I thought about it. My biggest fear was that I would miss some crucial element and ruin any hope of my daughter developing a love of reading and words. Oh, I tell you, it was a dreadful experience – thinking about it that is. I spent a month initially scouring online forums, websites, blogs, educational books for the best resources that I could find and then spent more months research as we used some of the materials I found. And in the hopes of sparring any other homeschooling parents this torture, I present for you my list of the Best Teach Your Child to Read Help for Early Learners.
There is so much to update here. So much! I promise to do so soon.I designed this along with about 3 more pages to help keep my daughter busy while I was working and cooking during the Thanksgiving holiday.
So why the complicated design? We have looked at complex shapes and experimenting with color and distance using color. I wanted The Tornado to have designs that were a little more complicated and required a little more thought when it came to coloring. How can you use these?
- Color the background design in cool colors and the foreground design in warm colors.
- Make a Primary Colors only painting.
- Use 2 primary colors in the background and then mix those colors in the foreground.
- Ink using black pens, pencils. or marker