Back to School?

Is it really time for school… again?

Back to School?Okay – I have to admit that I look forward to vacation breaks from school just as much as the children do.  I have always looked forward to the breaks – even when I was a teacher.  I can remember feeling almost giddy after sending home all those wild first graders on the last day of school.  I have relished every moment of this summer vacation. Well, today it hit me – –  time is almost up.  I know, I really don’t want to remind myself.  Yet, in the back of my mind I have purposed that in this new year we will get a new start and hopefully a better go at things.

I am proud of the distance that the children have come in the last year, but know that we have gotten slack in some areas.  I guess my new  resolution would be to improve the “slack” areas, make sure Chloe really “gets” her multiplication tables, help Jordan get over the hump in Algebra I, show Slater how to write a research paper for the first time, and go on MORE field trips. I don’t know – maybe I shouldn’t make it such a tall order, but I have always been one for making big goals.

The new year is always a great time for a fresh start, especially when things seem to be too difficult to manage.  Homeschooling is no different. So often, by the end of summer, we feel like we are being dragged in to work.  I am sure that many of you feel the same way. Well, take heart! Look at the new year as an opportunity – a new book with no writing – – yet!  Start over – do whatever it takes to renew your outlook and encourage yourself and the children.  In other years I have been so discouraged with how the curriculum went that I completely changed what we were doing.  If you are feeling desperate – do something drastic.  I have found that a drastic change really perks the kids up too!

Personally, this past year went pretty well so for us so we will just tweak our program a bit and perhaps change our schedule.  Just a little “new” makes it more exciting to the children as well. I look forward to the fresh start – and new outlook.  Wherever you are on your homeschooling  journey – take advantage of the new beginning. It may make all the difference in the world, and by the way Monday morning will be here before we know it!

Where’s Your Summer Bucket List?

Summer Bucket List How to!I know we’ve heard a lot about bucket lists… but you’ve got to admit kids love making them. It’s almost like a wish list for doing things with your family and you can’t get much better than that! We’re suggesting you use the bucket list as a summertime way to get your kiddos writing and thinking. Here are ideas for making that creative bucket list for summer learning fun!

  1. Start by making the bucket list a way to have your kiddos use their writing and language skills. (sneaking it in!)
  2. Have some paper and colorful markers or pencils and stickers. (It’s gotta be fun!)
  3. Start by giving them 3 different sheets of paper. Tell them to make a list of crafts or things to do at home (watercolor, make cards), things to do away from home (feed the ducks), and places to visit (the kid’s museum in the next town over). Encourage them to make it as realistic as possible.
  4. Once they’ve made their 3 lists, have them review it and make sure it’s all things that mom and dad would actually do. Then have them compile their list onto one sheet with check boxes beside each item.
  5. Once they finish, have them decorate their bucket list!

For more bucket list ideas visit this cool collection of summer bucket lists.

Play fun summer vocabulary games!

Superheroes come in all sizes

Superheroes come in all sizes!

We all know how much children love super heroes. They are symbols of strength, justice, and good in an otherwise decrepit world. Superheroes can be much more than just a cartoon or a movie. Since superheroes are an awesome motivational tool why not use them to get your kiddos learning? Here’s a collection of some of our favorite superhero resources.

How Superheroes can inspire student to write

Superhero Writing

 

 

 

 

Be A Superhero with Spelling City Games

Game List

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Always Have to Be A Superhero

No Superhero Moms

 

 

 

 

 

Superheros Myths

Play Learning Games to Be a Smart Superhero

 

3 Things You Can’t Miss This Summer

3 Things You Can't Miss this Summer!For a long time summer learning was associated with punishment. Those who didn’t do well in school had to attend. But, today the education community at large is realizing that summer learning is far from a punishment but more of a necessity.

Research over the past 100 years proves the fact that summer slide exists and typically takes approximately 2 months of math skills and for lower income students 2 months of reading skills from their overall achievement. This in turn causes the teacher or parent to do a review every fall.  What if we changed that up and did something to keep from sliding at all?

What if I told you it only took about 30 minutes a day 5 days a week to keep away that “summer slide?” It’s true, that’s all it takes…and finding a few no cost ways to do it is like icing on the cake!

  1. Read.Read. READ. Most research suggests 6 books read during the summer will keep a struggling reader from falling behind. Remember not too hard and not too easy.
  2. Read ever day. Do something at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  3. Review what your student is reading each day to help them process and understand.

Sometimes, our kiddos need a little more than reading to maintain or catch up to where they need to be. We’ve found that summer is a great time to give specific attention to bridge gaps that have been widening during the course of the year. Whether you’ve been struggling with kindergarten math or need some help with standardized test practice for 8th grade or just a general drill and practice summer’s a great time to take care of it!

How to Train for Independence

How to Train for IndependenceWhen I started out on the parenting journey over 2o years ago, I didn’t realize that my goal would be to train my children for independence. Now that my oldest is about to get married, I’m a little sad that I did such a good job.

Why Train for Independence?

As a young mother desiring my children to learn independence seemed like the natural thing to do. I couldn’t do everything for them all the time, so to keep my sanity I began to teach them. I really didn’t realize at first what I was doing. I was just trying to survive. So, I taught my 4 year old how to operate the microwave, wash dishes, and carry laundry to the laundry room.  It seemed to work well… she was able to do far above what I expected from her and actually thought it was great fun to work like mommy. Boy, I had stumbled onto something!

Fast forward a few years, and jump into our homeschool life of learning with 6 children. It was hard for me to be there every minute trying to teach in the traditional style. (I learned real quick that didn’t work with 5 different grade levels.)  I had to once again teach my children to be independent in their approach to learning. It worked great. Many years ago I began to print out a weekly check sheet for each of my children. On the check sheet were all the things that were required of them each day. They simply had to do it, and check it off. No need for mom to holler, or get frustrated (unless they just ignored the check sheet – which happens sometimes!)

Each child had an individual set of assignments that they completed each day. Still today they have online lessons, but complete their other work independently unless they have questions about the material or particular problems. Independence!!

We are now in the process of building a house. With six children, there are alot of things that they can help with. Again, we come to the foundational idea of teaching them “how” to do something which in turn will enable to them to work independently now and in the future.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime. Chinese Proverb

How to Train for Independence

  1. Teach your child HOW to do the desired task.
  2. Expect more from them than you think they can do… and they’ll surprise you!
  3. Treat them with respect and encourage them to think and act independently.
  4. Make sure to give them plenty of love!!
Beauty and the Beast Learning Ideas

Beauty and the Beast Learning Resources

There has been a lot of hype about the Beauty and the Beast Movie, both for and against. Yet, with or without this new movie, the “Beauty and the Beast” story line is one that spans the ages. It’s an age old classic that has not lost it’s appeal… movie or not… it’s a good story and one that our kiddos enjoy! The original story was written in 1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It was rather lengthy, so it was abridged by Beaumont in 1756 and later by Andrew Lang in 1889. These latest versions most closely represents today’s story line.

An interesting twist is that some believe the story was inspired by a man in the 1500’s named Pedro Gonzalez. He had a condition called hypertrichosis which causes an unusual amount of facial hair to grow. He was brought to royal courts across Europe as a novelty and ended up marrying a Lady. Interestingly enough, many of his children also inherited his condition.

 

 

Up for a challenge? Read the original version translated to English. 

 

 

Ready to incorporate this into your regular learning? Try this Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit.

Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit

Looking for a writing prompt and spelling list to go with your book study? Homeschool Literature has a Beauty and the Beast Interactive Book Review with both of those.

Finally, if you love those fairy tale endings and want more books that are similar to Beauty and the Beast, here’s a great list of Beauty and the Beast Inspired Books you’ll love.

Beauty & the Beast Book List

 

February Freebies

Freebie February Top 5One of my favorite months is February… and not just because of Valentine’s Day. I love the Freebies that are floating around everywhere. So, to join the amazing efforts of Freebie February, we’re sharing our all time faves!

  1. Ultimate Classical Literature Unit Study Resource

This is an awesome resource for studying the classics. It has the free ebook, study notes, writing prompts, etc.

2. Free Printables on Earth and Space

These free printables are great! They would be perfect paired with a few books on earth and space making a nice little unit study!

3. Free Printables for High School Homeschool

These printables and downloads are pretty much everything that you would need to keep up with homeschooling high school.

4. Free Games for Drill and Practice

These are games are a great resource for practicing what your kiddos have been learning. With videos and games for almost every subject it’s one of our go-to resources.

5. Get a Free Spelling Resource 

This is my all time favorite resource. I used to teach 5 different levels of spelling to my kiddos. Now, I use this and spelling is a breeze.

Stressed out schooling?

oefk-stressedoutschool-1

STRESS. BURN OUT. I’ve been there… Have you? Homeschooling can be so rewarding – but it can also require alot. Commitment. Time. Energy. Finances. Each of these facets of homeschooling can cause stress and eventually burnout. Most often I find the fact that my kids “just don’t get it” the most frustrating.  Sometimes it seems like we aren’t even speaking the same language as our children. We teach them, instruct them, help them, and it appears to be echoing off of their cute little heads. What is the key to getting it to “sink in?”

…Speaking their language…  Each person is created with their own unique way they learn.  Some are concrete learners, some are abstract learners, some are sequential learners, and some are random learners. If we try to educate our children in a form that they can’t understand… they just won’t get it.

…finding their “learning style”…The key to learning is for us to determine what type of learners our children are, and to accommodate their learning styles. We need to build on how they learn to get them to learn. Most children respond differently to each type of schooling (traditional, individualized, online, textbook, Charlotte Mason, etc)

There are multitudes of great resources out there, definitely something for every learning style.  From organized textbook learning, to online learning, learning games, and even online writing courses there is  no need for our children to be stressed about learning.  Learning can be fun, and exciting… we just need to find the miracle key that allows all of that knowledge to “sink in.”

Top 5 Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes
Move over Mom, the kids are cooking!

I love this time of year, finally a holiday that really gets to the heart of things. Get your kiddos thinking in the right direction for Thanksgiving and keep them focused that way right on through the holidays. Some of the best Thanksgiving ideas are simple and family oriented.  But, isn’t that the best part of the holiday season? Spending time with family is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Our recipes aren’t just for the kids to eat… they are “kid-friendly” for the kids to help you cook. And, they help reinforce what the kids are learning in school. Cooking is an awesome way to make practical use of math skills and learning sequencing, and is one of my favorite excuses for moving school to the kitchen!

So, let’s get cooking with the kids!

  1. Ranch Mashed Potatoes – yep this is the perfect twist to the typical creamed potato.
    • RANCH MASHED POTATOES
    • Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer, uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes fall apart when pierced with fork.
    • Drain potatoes in a colander and return potatoes to the pot. Mash potatoes until smooth.
    • Stir in Ranch seasoning, one stick of butter, salt/pepper, and sour cream.
  2. Green Bean Casserole –
    • GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
    • Place four cans of DRAINED cut green beans into a 9×13 glass bakeware. Add 1 can of cream of chicken soup and a pint of sour cream. Stir till smooth.
    • Add 1 can of french fried onions on top (I know it sounds NOT kid friendly, but I have six who lick the pan)
    • Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.
  3. Ham and cheese rolls
    • HAM AND CHEESE ROLLS
    • Two cans of refrigerated crescent rolls, 16 slices of ham, and 8 slices of your favorite cheese. (Ours is swiss)
    • Roll out dough and lay out 1 slice of ham and half a slice of cheese each. Roll up each individual roll.
    • Place on foil lined baking pan.
    • Bake at  350* for 15-18 minutes.
  4. Cranberry Apple Cider Punch
    • CRANBERRY APPLE CIDER PUNCH
      • 1 cup fresh cranberries
      • 1/3 cup water
      • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
      • 4 cups apple cider (see note above), chilled
      • 2 cups ginger ale, chilled
      • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
      • 2 cups cranberry juice, chilled
      • Crushed ice
  5. Snickerdoodle Cookies
    • If you haven’t tasted these babies, you’ll be sure to swoon!
    • SNICKERDOODLES
      • 1/2 c butter
      • 1 egg
      • 1/2 c white sugar
      • 1/3 c brown sugar
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla
      • 1 1/2 c flour
      • 1/4 t salt
      • 1/2 t baking soda
      • 1/3 t cream of tartar (the magic ingredient)
      • ROLL COOKIES IN: 2 T sugar/1 t cinnamon
      • Combine wet ingredients and mix well, slowly add dry ingredients.
      • Chill dough for 1 hr.
      • Preheat oven to 300*
      • Scoop out dough and roll into balls and then roll in the sugar cinnamon.
      • Bake 10-12 minutes. (Don’t overbake)

Writing – Our Biggest Challenge – What’s Yours?

OEFK writingIt’s back to school time again! Have you gotten all of your ducks in a row? I think we are about there… but I’m still working through a few details. One of which includes correlating a creative writing study with our other curriculum. Creative writing, essays, and research paper writing are sadly the bane of our home school existence. Though I would love for my children to be great writer’s, giving them the individual attention that they need to accomplish this is another story. It’s always so difficult when we have multiple children that we are homeschooling, isn’t it?

My typical go to is technology… thus the theme of this blog. Online education helps a homeschooling parent of multiple children and when writing is concerned things are no different. Making great writers requires time, instruction, practice, and feedback…labor intensive for the parent for sure. However, using online resources is a super way to activate this learning without stressing out the parent. Some of my favorite resources include:
1) using online grammar games, parts of speech games, and even analogy games. This helps the creative thought process and ultimately the ability to write creatively.
2) Online writing courses (with individual attention and feedback at an affordable price)
3) Online FREE vocabulary instruction. This is a whole separate post in itself, but vocabulary instruction is fundamental to reading comprehension and ultimately successful writing.