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!

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

 

10 College Apps that will change Your Life

OE4K college apps

Every new college student wants to be on top of things – especially the when you’re a “newbie.” Technology, smartphones, tablets, and laptops can make that happen easily, but apps are an integral part of making the most of those tools. We’ve compiled a list of 10 of the BEST apps for making your first year of college…smooth sailing!

  1. Desmos – a super graphing calculator. Who wants to buy and carry around a separate piece of equipment?
  2. Go Financial Aid – a great tool for help with the FAFSA and other financial aid options
  3. Any.Do – a tool that helps students create daily to do lists in a checklist format.
  4. Ginger – an awesome app that not only spell/grammar checks, but also suggests corrections for writing errors! Your own personal pocket proofer!
  5. Koofers – a great educational aid that helps you study and practice for tests and quizzes.
  6. Easy Bib – awesome tool for creating those tedious bibliographies! Just scan the book’s barcode and it creates them for you!
  7. White Noise – perfect for creating white noise for studying when the world is crashing down around you! Also great for getting to sleep when your dorm mate is snoring!
  8. Google Drive – gone are the days of thumb drives and “saving documents.” Google drive is a free all in one resource that automatically saves your work and allows you to access it through your google account ANYWHERE! (includes documents, presentations, and spreadsheets)
  9. CamScanner – a great little app that allows you to take a picture of any document and turn it into a scanned image. You can export as jpg. Or pdf.
  10. EatStreet – A great way to stick to a budget and not be a starving college student, use this delivery type app to find the best deals on local food!

10 Delicious Recipes for Ice Cream Sandwich Day!

OE4K Ice Cream Sandwich dayOh yeah… ice cream sandwiches… aren’t they amazing? I think they rank up there with apple pie as America’s summer time dessert. Perfect for an afternoon on the porch with friends. Not only do we love them as they are, but we love them created into even better desserts. Layers of ice cream sandwiches and cool whip or pudding. We love them store bought, and we love them home made… Oh my, so YES – I’m all for celebrating this holiday, you know – – just for the kids!

  1. The classic ice cream sandwich  – of course!
  2. The cookie ice cream sandwich
  3. Salted Brownie Sunday Bites
  4. Chocolate mint stacks
  5. Caramel Chocolate Chip
  6. Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches
  7. French Toast Ice Cream Sandwiches – more for the adults 🙂
  8. Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches
  9. Ice Cream Tacos (cuz really tacos are just sandwiches shaped differently!)
  10. Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches

So, today we are totally off topic. Although I could say these recipes are “online” and they sure are giving me an “education”… LOL! Which recipe will you pick?

Get Techy with these 10 tools!

techtoolsDo you ever feel like a disk with out a drive when it comes to technology in your homeschool? Well, you shouldn’t worry about it. There are loads, and I mean. LOADS. of easy to use techy based apps and programs that will help your teaching and learn grow exponentially.

  1. Heads up– yeah the game. It’s super fun and easy to play… but did you know that it increases vocabulary? Sure – the idea is to use descriptive words to lead someone to say the “answer word.”
  2. Schoology – this is a free program that you can access on your PC. It is super helpful with putting together a course from a text, a pdf, an e-book, youtube videos, or even Khan academy. Great if you’ve got free resources you want to organize into something more cohesive. You can even add your tests and it will score them online! YAY!
  3. Kahoot – this allows you to create and share learning games for any subject!
  4. Padlet – great app that allows you to create a “scrapbook” of things that you need to remember or organize. Super tool for the homeschooling mom!
  5. Edpuzzle – you can use videos to teach your kids, but add a quiz or even your audio throughout the video. This means that as they are learning with the video you can track their progress with a quick check up quiz.
  6. Flippity.net – this is too cool for the homeschooler – you can easily take a google spreadsheet and turn it into flashcards, mad libs, spelling tracker – – lots of options!!
  7. Glogster – this lets you create multimedia posters. I can think of a lot of uses where the kids could use this as a reporting/project based learning.
  8. Mentor Mob this is somewhat like skillshare – where everyone shares “how to’s” with each other. You can learn alot of stuff on this site!!
  9. Explain Everything – interactive whiteboard
  10. Screen castify – this is perfect for using your own computer to teach something. Screencastify basically records what is happening on your own screen. Great for teaching a techy subject or a how to on a specific program.

…and just for a bonus you’ve got to try popplet! A super fun way to take notes, brainstorm, or study!

The Best in Summer Learning

The BestinSummer LearningUnfortunately our brains don’t stop once summer hits. Yet, who wants to work hard at learning – especially when there are so many fun things to do? Well, to be honest… I don’t. I’d rather sit by the pool and enjoy my summer… but I know… I know… we can’t let our brains (or our kid’s brains) atrophy. BUT – we gotta do it without stress.

Here are our favorite no -stress summer learning ideas!

  1. Need inspiration for learning – go to the king of inspiration – Pinterest!
  2. Find some great summer reading for middle schoolers and elementary age kiddos here!
  3. Choose an online summer school alternative!
  4. Bring a writing teacher along on your summer vacation!
  5. Get your kids hooked on a summer science program!
  6. Find great summer ideas for your homeschool highschooler.
  7. Have a garden? Use it as a learning tool – summer learning in the garden.
  8. How about a whole pinterest board on great books for summer reading?
  9. If “free” is your thing – check out free summer ideas for kids.
  10. Or – just break down and allow them to play computer games – but don’t tell them they’re learning games!

Getting Ready for College?

I’m sure one of you is in the same situation I am…about to graduate one of my children while trying to help guide her in making decisions about college and her future. Shew. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

One of our major concerns – right behind the graduation and party – is to find a way for her to attend college without costing a fortune or piling up huge student loan debt. When our oldest graduated, she determined that she was going to work and attend college. She also wanted to make sure that she didn’t acquire a bunch of student loans. The same goals apply for our second daughter. We’ve found a few a simple practices help to enable new students to keep these goals.

  1. Do test prep. You don’t have to pay someone to help you with this. A little effort and you’ll be able to find a lot of free online resources that can give you the test prep you need.
  2. Take your ACT/SAT as many times as needed until you score the same score twice. You’ll know you’ve reached a plateau then. However, the more you take the test, the more relaxed you get. This enables you to test more accurately. Make sure that you’ve researched and found out the minimum score needed to qualify for the state scholarship. This is one of the easiest scholarships to get  – so take advantage of it.
  3. Depending on the level of scholarship you were able to reach with your ACT/SAT testing, you  might have to find a few scholarships to top it all off. Let’s Homeschool High School has a great quarterly post that reveals TONS of great scholarships perfect for the homeschooler.
  4. Work. I know it’s popular belief that college students need loads of time to study. Rubbish. I worked a full time job (para pro teacher) and went to school 16+ hours each semester. My daughter worked a full time job and went to school 15 hours a semester. Not only can it be done, but it also requires you to budget not just your money, but your time! I’ve also noticed that it causes the student to be much more appreciative about their courses, their grades, and even the free time that they do get. Try to pay for your classes as you go. For example, make sure that semester 1 is paid for before you move on to semester 2. I know just this year, my daughter’s college opened up a payment plan so that students didn’t have to apply for a loan.
  5. Bottom line – work hard. If you make a little extra effort and try – with your college classes, assignments, tests, and with a job – you’ll be on your way to getting a great education without a lifetime of debt.