It’s January… thumbs up or down?

Yep, here I go stating the obvious again. I am curious though, is January going well? or is it a serious thumbs down time?

As home school moms, we all know January can go either way. I usually try to end the previous year with some down time, hoping against hope that it will renew my outlook and refresh my attitude toward my children and homeschooling. It’s tough though, it’s the middle of the year and there are a lot of issues that could get me down. Most often I’m beating myself up about not accomplishing everything that I had wanted to accomplish thus far, and that always gets me down. Over the years, I’ve tried to manage these struggles because as sure as it will rain – these struggles do come. There are a few simple things that I do that tend to help me combat those “thumbs down” times.

  1. You home school, you are the teacher and principal… a lot depends on you. No one else is going to make sure that you are ok… so YOU make sure. Take time off. No you don’t HAVE to get that project done this week, and believe it or not you can even cancel those extra music and art lessons.
  2. Do something that heals your heart. It’s different for everyone. Sometimes reading a book will help me, sometimes I need to pray, and sometimes I need to go away for a day or two. Sometimes just going to the mall alone or with a best friend will work wonders. Whatever your happy spot is, take a day or two to relish in it and allow it to feed your soul. Mom, you cannot help your children or your spouse if you are empty.
  3. Take a day to rearrange your school room. Change always brightens my perspective. I always think better in a neat and organized environment. So, I take a day or two to empty out, clean, and refit our schooling area. This really works wonders on my psyche. I find myself with my interest piqued once again, and ready to dive in.
  4. Take a day to enjoy your children without “requirements” or “being the teacher.” I know we, as parents, never truly get the day off… but take some time to just enjoy them…their smile, their laughter, their silliness… It just might be catching!
  5. Review the things that require your attention and time. Take a fresh look at your schedule. Is there anything that you really don’t need in your life? Cross it off… is there negativity that just brings you down? Cross it off. Surround yourself with things that encourage and motivate you. (Of course, we all know that life hits… and it just happens. But, the regular unnecessary negativity that we CAN do without – do without!)

Great Ideas for Christmas Break

Displaying Copy of SMG-fair.pngDisplaying Copy of SMG-fair.pngImage result for spellingcityI personally don’t like to take huge breaks from homeschooling. My kids tend to forget everything they’ve learning in a matter of days. So, no school for weeks… well, let’s just say it isn’t pretty. On the other hand, I do feel sorry for them… a little. So, I love to incorporate learning in a way that they LOVE. I do this easily with a mix of several free online resources that offer a range of learning games.

1. Learning Games for Kids – this site is one of my favorite because it has such a wide variety of games on so many different subjects. We have enjoyed learning keyboarding skills and even studying our multiplication tables there.

2. Vocabulary Fun is a perfect site to brush up on all things that have to do with vocabulary, grammar, and syntax.

3. Spelling City is a perfect place to revisit some of those spelling words that really stumped the kids in the fall. You can enter your own lists and the kids can play a variety of games, take a practice test, and even the final test. Say goodbye to the spelling test paper tiger!

4. Another fun site that we love is Science4Us. This site is designed for K-2, however my third grader and my 5th grader are both enjoying it immensely. If you don’t want to sign up for the paid service they have a boatload of the FREE videos available for guests.

5. Finally, if you have older highschool aged students, the Let’s Homeschool High School has an amazing directory of homeschool curriculum. I like the homeschool curriculum guides which give links to a variety of free resources. You could check for some free electives courses to take during the Christmas break!https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwLA0V0VW9uGSUFfTTNqMjU4bjQ/view?usp=sharing

For Homeschoolers on the Verge of Calling it Quits

Image result for quittingPiles of books, completed tests waiting to be graded, notebooks full of to do lists, scraps of paper, and pencils… all the miscellaneous daily products of homeschooling. As a “neat” lover, these bits of disorganization and mess just really push me over the edge at times. This is not to mention the daily stress of making sure that work is completed, books are read, and multiplication tables practiced. Sometimes, it just puts me in a… bad mood. It’s overwhelming, and seriously intimidating.   I have to admit, there are many times that I want to act like our youngest and sit on the floor and cry in a heap of pity party. Or. Maybe. just maybe… quit.

Then, as I sit and look at the mess surrounding me, I see the note placed on my desk earlier by my next youngest daughter. A note that expresses her love for me and thankfulness that I love her and take such good care of her. She’s thankful that we spend all day every day together, and she loves me even when I’m frustrated and grumpy. Wow. It’s clear she doesn’t see things the way I do… she sees it from the eyes of a child. The important things aren’t necessarily the cleanliness of our school room, or that her tests from 3 weeks ago aren’t graded. She sees the important things counted in minutes and days… time spent together. That’s exactly what homeschool is, and investment of time.

Forget the minor details, choose the things that will last and provide joy and amazing memories in days to come. Choose laughter, and take the time to purposely invest in your children. The tests that need graded will wait… in fact, they can wait awhile!

Isn’t it amazing how one little note of love and gratitude from an 11 year old can change your whole perspective?

Cake Decorating Day Oct. 10

I love using sneaky methods to teach my kids valuable lessons. One of the “queens” of sneaky learning is cooking. Let’s think for a minute, how many different things is a child learning when they are cooking?

Measuring

Following directions

Reading

Motor skills

Kitchen safety

Waiting for expected outcomes… hopefully teaching patience

Amazing Chocolate Cake Recipe

Mix together the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients. Put into 2 round 9″ or one 9×13 greased pan. Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes/ cool for 10 before removing.

2 c white sugar

1 3/4 c flour

3/4 c cocoa powder

1 1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 t baking powder

1 t salt

2 eggs

1 c milk

1/2 c vegetable oil

2 t vanilla

1 c boiling water

 

Icing (gotta have icing – it’s cake decorating day!)

3/4 c butter

1 1/2 cocoa powder

5 1/3 c powdered sugar

2/3 c milk

1 t vanilla

Cream butter til light and fluffy – Mix remaining ingredients together in mixer and spread on COOLED cake.

 

See original recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/17528/extreme-chocolate-cake/

 

Popcorn Month

I love using special days as a way to jump start an “interest study.” The month of October is Popcorn Month, and would make a perfect reason to study popcorn in a variety of ways.

History

PBS History of Popcorn

Small portion of fresh homemade Popcorn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Create a history of popcorn timeline along with loads of fun!

Geography

Take time to research which states are the top “corn producing” states in America. It’s great to know where your popcorn comes from!

Science

Exactly what is it that makes popcorn pop? Find out the science of popcorn.

Measure the popcorn prior to popping, after the corn has been popped, and calculate the difference in weight. What is missing?

Watch a video showing just how corn pops.

Video Showing How Pop Corn pops

Video on Popcorn from field to table.

Literature

As a creative writing exercise write an essay on the chronological story of popcorn from the field to your mouth!

 

Why in the world would you homeschool?

I started homeschooling a long time ago… over 11 years to be exact. When we started things were very different, and homeschooling was definitely not as easy or as accepted as it is today. But things have changed… what a relief!

What do you think has caused the change?

1) Socialization used to be the BIG topic. For good reason, when homeschooling started there weren’t many people to hang with. Which caused some families to be “loners.” Though I have to admit, even those that didn’t have loads of homeschool friends still turned out great… so in reality was there ever really a “socialization” issue?

2) The cost of homeschooling has definitely changed for the better. Homeschooling can now be done for very cheap or even free using the internet or the public library and some creativity.

3) The public schools are not what they used to be. In today’s world the public schools have all kinds of issues – we’ll save that for a later post. But let’s just say, I don’t let my children spend the night or go off with people that I don’t know. I definitely don’t know the school teachers, and my children would be spending more time each day with them than with their family. Somehow, I think that’s just backwards.

4) Homeschooling is actually a bit more convenient (at least for a big family) than sending children off to school. I can’t even begin to imaging what it would cost to buy school clothes and lunch foods and then preparing the afore mentioned each day. Not to mention getting them to school, to any extracurricular activities, and music lessons. It’s actually giving me a headache. Though there is more involved in preparing and determining what my children will learn each day, it is truly MUCH LESS STRESS.

What’s your view of homeschooling today?

 

Learn about Labor Day!

www.onlineeducationforkids.com great online webquest to learn more about Labor Day!

Labor Day is one of our national holidays, but do we understand why?

1. Go to this Explanation of Labor Day to answer these questions.

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

 

Who do most people credit for starting the celebration of Labor Day?

 

When did the first Labor Day occur?

 

Which President signed Labor Day into law?

 

What do other countries call their Labor Day?

 

2. Celebrate Labor Day with a special Labor Day Spelling List

3. Do a Labor Day craft with these super fun Labor Day Pinterest Ideas.

Summer Learning CAN equal FUN!

Summer… I look forward to it all year. I know, I am supposed to  be the mature one around here. Yet, I think I look forward to the more relaxed lifestyle that we lead during the summer than the kids do. It is just a much needed break that really renews and invigorates me. If it wasn’t for a bit of time off in the summer, homeschooling in the fall would be impossible.

Even though I like to take a break in the summer, I still try to keep the kids learning. Their little minds are so active and really are constantly learning in some way. Why not maximize on their cognitive interests? I try to organize several websites that I want the children to visit over the summer break to catch up on math or vocabulary. To make it as simple as possible, I add them to my favorites bar so all the kids have to do is click on each site I want them to visit.  These sites range in interest from vocabulary games to math and science fun. The kids usually have a great time playing and taking a break from the heat… while I sit back with a contented smile knowing that they really are learning through all that laughter!

Our Summer Homeschool

SUMMER LEARNING

Yes, we are… most homeschoolers are asking the big question right now. Should we homeschool during the summer or not? Well, personally… I need a summer break. Yet, for my kiddos I know that they need to give their brains a bit of a workout during the summer or when we start up officially in the fall… it will be a very. very. bad. day.

So, even though I plan on requiring a little brain work this summer… it won’t be alot and hopefully my kids won’t be forced to rebel!

1) Each morning, I plan to have them start the day with some lessons in Time4Learning Summer. Once they completed about six lessons (2 in each math, LA, and 1 in science and 1 in history). The lessons are typically funny and engaging and the time really flies by for the kids.

2) We’ll use Spelling City for their summer learning program that also includes fun games and interesting vocabulary lists.

3) And then we’ll read -read – read!

Getting Ready for Summer Learning

Cozumel, Mexico - Going here in January! Hope it is as beautiful as this picture suggests. :DI know, this post just might not be the most popular post – especially with the kiddos. Yet, this year I am realizing that I need my children to keep on working through the summer. There are alot of areas that I feel they are slack in and could use the extra work. We’ve talked about it this week, and I must admit I felt as if their stares would burn a hole right through me.

Though my children do school just about every single day, there are still some gaps that I have noticed. So, our goal this summer is to fill in the gaps and get ready for the next “official” grade.

My first grader has a bit of dyslexia. She is struggling with reading, and is getting pretty frustrated. I plan on keeping her working on basic phonics skills and small readers throughout the summer. We will use the first grade language arts lessons from T4L to help her review what she has already learned. I also love Bob books, and will use those in conjunction with a Disney princess early reader. (simply because she adores Disney princesses!)

My third grader does well with her writing and grammar… however, at our house this is the pivotal year for multiplication tables. She understands multiplication, but just doesn’t have the “facts” down. We will be working through those during the summer- getting them to the rote memory stage. I love using kids learning software along with other math learning games.

My seventh grade twins are both doing fairly well. They are currently writing their first research paper (translate- I’m losing my hair). They also have begun learning some basic algebra. So, during the summer we are going to continue using Time4Learning as a supplement and reviewing the spelling lessons through Spelling City’s customizable lists.