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

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!

 

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.

Highschool Homeschooling Summer Courses

highschool homeschoolIn our last post we talked about summer learning. Yes, we are joining the ranks of those that homeschool all year round. As a former teacher, there is something in me that just “balks” at that idea. My mind, my body, and my soul need the summer break!!!!!!  Uh – hem… excuse that…

Anywayssss… it looks like we will be doing Summer School – Lite Edition. As I mentioned before each of the younger kiddos need a few specific areas worked on, and our highschool daughter has a few areas that we neglected this year.

We have tried to incorporate “dual enrollment” with our highschoolers, and have begun this as well with our oldest daughter. They are doing dual enrollment with a local Bible College that I work with. By the time she graduates, she will have an Associate of Arts degree in Bible. This doesn’t really assist her with credits or course load when she enrolls in university, however, it does prepare her for how college courses are given and what is expected and required. We are a dedicated Christian family, and since our daughters are attending state institutions, we want to make sure that they are rooted and grounded in their faith. During these highschool dual enrollment courses, it is a great time for them to take inventory of what they really believe, study it out, and take a stand for it.

Dual Enrollment also acts as a “Wow” factor with the university and – as with her sister- they eagerly grant acceptance into their program. Of course, in this Associate’s degree there are other courses besides Bible that are required  including such things as a world history highschool course, Biology, Physical Science, English Comp., and Speech. Though she takes the course from the college, it actually counts as her requirements on her highschool transcript. Ahhh… the beauty of dual enrollment!

Have you used dual enrollment with any of your homeschool students?

Learning History with Summer Exploration

history homeschoolingYes, I love the summer. I love the fact that I can be lazy if I want… During the school year every day is like boot camp with six children. We have to have a schedule or things spiral out of control quickly. However, summer is a different story. I love the fact that I can be laid back, do whatever “I” want to do… but  I also like to continue to challenge my kiddos with constructive learning experiences. I am constantly on the look out for ways to accomplish this without making my kids do real “school work.”

One of my favorite ways to learn history in the summer is to explore historic sites. We live in the South, and there are so many amazing historical sites right in our local area. We love to go outdoors to learn, but before we do we usually try to study the topic. I love to use popular word lists and even some summer curriculum as a foundation and then head on out!  Here are a few of my favorite ways to learn a little history while having a big adventure!

1) Take a day to stop by all those “historical landmark” signs that speckle your streets! You will be amazed at what you can learn about your own neighborhood just by reading those signs!

2) Read a great book about a historical subject that took place in your area, and then go on a day trip to visit that site!

3) Google the era of history that you are wanting to study, and then research to see if any of that history overlapped within your state or locality. Take a visit to any museums or historical sites that may be there.

4) Visit your local Historical Society Chapter. They will have loads of information about what historical events happened in your area. They will also be able to tell you about museums and other cool places you could take the kiddos to visit!

How do you make your study of history come alive? Please share with us!

homeschooling

Where are the patriots?

“The vitality of a democracy depends upon the education and participation of its citizens.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

To be citizen of one of the greatest countries on earth is a privilege.  However, I contend that America could be greater – if somehow we could ressurect the ideas of the original patriots of our nation.  If only George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams…the original heroes of America… could be here today what would they say?

I think they would say, “Where are the patriots?”  What is missing in the children of today?  Where is the appreciation of freedom, the love of democracy, or the support of our republic. It seems like it’s “out of style” to be patriotic.  To cry when the national anthem is sung, or to put your hand over your heart when the pledge of allegiance is being said. (Which by the way, can children still recite the pledge?)  What is wrong with being thankful for a nation that is one of the last few bastions of freedom and liberty in the world. Many of our grandparents shed their blood to give us this freedom. A good dose of thankfulness for their sacrifice and others is in order.

I believe that part of the problem is that children are not being taught social studies in its entirety.  Social studies is the study of a people or culture, its past, and the ramifications that past has on its future.  America has a lot of history, that taught in its entirety would bring children to an appreciation of the sacrifices made to give us our individual freedoms.  In addition to that, each person in a democracy is expected to participate.  This is often called a participatory democracy – which we can see Thomas Jefferson alluded to in his quote above. Our government is designed in this manner.  We must participate.  Our representatives must hear us, so that they in turn can go to Washington to vote “the way their constituents” want them to.  That is why they are called “representatives” – they are to represent US.

Yes, America has made many mistakes but that is all part of growing, all part of history, and the study of these mistakes will help us to avoid mistakes in the future.  This is another important aspect of the study of social studies or history.  Generals study the histories of war – why?  To avoid making the same mistakes that other generals made in the past. History is valuable… for remembrance and appreciation, but also for wisdom in the future.

There are many ways to incorporate the study of history and social studies into your homeschool. I like to use literature based study, online president games, different social studies curriculum , and even incorporating movies.  Which by the way are a wonderful way to learn what it was like in those days. We just recently finished a great series called John Adams.  At one point in the movie (there are 6 hour long segements) at George Washington’s inauguration – I wanted so badly to BE THERE…  Iwanted to cheer on that quiet and humble yet determined new president of ours.  What exciting days they were – the birth of a new nation – and the men who tried to install laws that would keep the nation free and great for years to come.  But what price did they pay???  Many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were then considered traitors to the crown.  Many lost their homes, all their possessions, some had to flee for their lives and live in hiding.  What sacrifice – what price to pay – for us… for me to be free!

Let’s get excited… let’s relive that spirit of the early Americans… let’s love our country and be patriots that want to be a part of making America a great republic! In days like we are living in… what would George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have done?

Relaxed Homeschool…

 

The homeschooler is often looked at as the odd – the abnormal – the different…  But homeschooling is really cool – and I don’t mean popular.  Homeschooling is a wonderful family based way to educate your children, and a great way to destress your life and return to a more simple existence.

Stress seems to be the order of the day -and children often pay the price for it.  Lives are full and so busy that often children are rushed here and there without the ample opportunities that they need to investigate, learn, and grow.  Homeschool can be a relaxed sort of “cool.” A lifestyle where your chidlren learn in a fun way – where they can’t wait to do their “schooling” for the day. We enjoy being home together  playing and learning and just being family. 

If you are tired of being rushed here and there and want to change to a more simple lifestyle – give homeschooling a try.  There is an option for every type of family and every homeschooling need in math, language arts, science, and social studies.  Take inventory – make a change… relax… you’ll never miss the stress.

Summer fun = summer forgetfulness??

 

To me, summer is the best time of the year. Lazy days, pretty flowers (especially magnolias), and beautiful southern sunsets. ( can you tell we live in the South?) OK, we won’t go into the humidity at 8 am., the chiggers, fire ants, and soaring afternoon temperatures – that’s just beside the point!  But seriously, summer is great especially at our house because we take a break from school!

Yet, lately I have been second guessing that decision. I am concerned about how much “knowledge” my children lose during those lazy days of summer. What about all of the multiplication tables I’ve been cramming into the heads of my 9 yr. old twins? I KNOW those will be the first to go!! In fact, according to the Ebbinhaus Theory- after 2 weeks you only remember 35% of what you were originally taught.

So, after thinking about this for the last few weeks, I decided to have the children continue doing “modified” schoolwork throughout the summer. They will be using their online school curriculum. This isn’t so bad… and they haven’t said that I am a horrible monster… at least not yet!  Their online schoolwork is really quite fun, and they enjoy it almost as much as any computer game they have played. 

Well… I am looking forward to see how Fall goes… and the start of a new school year. Will it be easier for them since they have kept their brains going all summer?  Not sure, but we will see!