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.

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!