Getting Back to School

homeschool puzzlesThe holidays are such a wonderful time. In fact, for me… an oasis in the middle of the year.  I love just enjoying each day without the heavy duty schedule that we keep on a regular basis. This year, like any other it is hard to get back to the routine. To make things a little easier on “re-entry” I thought we’d have a warm up day. When we start back to homeschooling again this week, we’re going to begin with a day full of the fun homeschool activities that we rarely make time for.

1) Creative Writing – I thought it would be fun to use some figurative language prompts to get us writing creatively. We really enjoy fun writing, yet lately we’ve been all “business” with science projects and research papers.

2) Art – My children love for me to have a dedicated art class. Since, I almost became an art major – I LOVE it too… I just too often put it on the back burner!

3) Board games – these are our homeschool board games – they include games that help us learn multiplication tables, phonics blends, etc. We have a lot of these fun games, but again… put these on the back burner.

4) Critical thinking skills puzzles… my kiddos love these and I have a ton of books that I used when I taught school. I simply make copies and we do them together!!

5) Mazes. One of my all time favorite puzzle games… I have two very cool books filled with black line masters of the most awesome maze puzzles you’ll ever see. We are definitely doing some of these this week!

Using Games to Motivate…

home school gamesI know… schooling isn’t always the most exciting part of our kiddos’ day.  Well, I may think so, but I know that they have a different opinion. I have learned though, if I make school ALL hardcore learning then it WILL be the worst part of their day every day. I have had to make myself think ahead to include fun things into our daily routine. If I can include games and other types of fun learning exercises through out the day, MORE learning actually takes place. Over the years, my thinking has evolved. I have to admit I was the hard nosed “teacher” homeschooler.  However, today and six children later… I am more the “let’s make this as fun as we can” homeschooler.

Here are a few of my favorite choices to make learning as fun as possible.

1. For History I like to use the Time Traveler’s Series. It includes fun games and projects that we make every lesson. My kids love history because of this! Also, trivial pursuit is a great board game to play and try to integrate a little history.

2. For Science, we use the Apologia Series. We make scrap books of our science learning, and do all types of experiments. This year we studied Botany, and we did alot of our lessons outside with real live specimens from our backyard!

3. For English, I love to use online teaching writing games along with grammar games and worksheets. For spelling I enjoy using spelling games as well as vocabulary matching. Scrabble, boggle, and other such word games are great for reinforcing what you are teaching!

4. For math, we use manipulatives (beans, pencils, clown counters, base ten blocks, etc.) as well as games like multiplication bingo, match ups, and anything else that I can think of!

What are your favorite games to get your children interested and LEARNING?

Great Resources for Homeschooling on a Budget

As a homeschooling mom, whenever I come across awesome homeschooling resources that will make my job and my life easier… I get excited. I especially  love online homeschooling resources that do this. Most of the time these online resources are free… and that makes it even better! Over the past few months, I’ve found a few resources that I am especially enjoying. The following is my abbreviated list of my favorites…

1) My big favorite right now… schoology! I started using this this year for some college level classes that I teach… and have started using it for my children’s homeschool courses. You can simply input all the assignments and even make your tests/quizzes online. Schoology saves the course. This is great if you have many children. The course that you put together for them this year, will be available with all the assignments, tests, and quizzes for your other children later! (Yeah… for taming the paper tiger!!!)

2) Online geography practice with Sheppard Software… this year we have made our focus on geography. We started with states/capitals and have been using the games to teach where each are… it also has testing options. It is fun, and challenging!

3) For all educational areas, I find this vocabulary friendly site full of great games and drills. We like the phonics games as well as the educational videos. The kids have a good time and learn from this kid-friendly site!

4) We also love to watch the online educational videos at Learning Games for Kids. My children walk around singing the silly songs all day!