Friday, November 16, 2012

Homeschool Literature

Where are all the books by and about homeschoolers? Great question! is a super place to investigate. They offer book reviews by and about homeschoolers. They also offer resources you can use with your child.

You might want to begin building a library full of books by and about homeschoolers. You might even find books that tell how a homeschooler wrote their own book. I hope that it will encourage your child to write. I know my daughter did not really enjoy writing until I told her a homeschooled kid was the author of one of her favorite books, Eargon. That was all it took for her. She was suddenly determined she could write a book too. She has started and stopped several times. I am thrilled she tries. Right now, she keeps busy writing anime stories because she LOVES anime!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Turkey Time

"Gobble, gobble, gobble...." Almost a century ago, the wild turkey just about became extinct. Their habitats were destroyed when forest areas were being cleared. But don’t cry just yet…the wild turkey has fought his way back. You will now find them in 49 states--all but Alaska.

Benjamin Franklin was a big fan of the wild turkey. In fact, he was very sad when the bald eagle was chosen as a symbol of the United States of America. He was rooting for the wild turkey. Franklin called the wild turkey a "...more respectable Bird..." and "...a true original native of North America."

Interesting Facts About Turkeys:

  • Turkeys are large birds, related to pheasants. Wild turkeys are native to wooded areas of North America. (Turkeys were not mentioned by name in original accounts of the 1621 Plymouth Thanksgiving celebration. Wild turkeys would have lived in the surrounding area and may have been included in the fowl eaten at the meal however.)
  • Male turkeys are called toms. Female turkeys are called hens.
  • Only male turkeys make gobbling sounds.
  • Wild turkeys eat seeds, acorns, and insects.
  • Wild turkeys can run and are good fliers. Domesticated turkeys cannot fly.
  • Wild turkeys are not as fat as domesticated turkeys.
  • Domesticated turkeys are related to Mexican turkeys.
  • Spanish Conquistadors took Mexican turkeys to Europe in the 16th century. Turkeys were raised in Europe before the Pilgrims left there.
  • In this country, the average person in the United States eats almost 19 pounds of turkey each year.

Help your child learn what Benjamin Franklin had to say about the national seal of the United States of America. Ask your child to explain why Franklin thought the turkey was more appropriate than the bald eagle. Challenge your child to design a new seal -- using a turkey instead of the eagle.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reading and Spelling

Does your first grader have trouble with his reading skills? Maybe they need a little boost in spelling. Reading comprehension and spelling are a couple; they go together.

It is crucial for your first grader to master five basic skill areas–phonemic awareness, phonics, reading, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency in order to be a successful reader.

As your child learns, he builds upon these skills and the skills build upon each other. Check out a good reading skills pyramid to find out what your child needs to master and when.

A fun way to practice reading and spelling skills is by playing online games. Games help reinforce skills being learned.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tips for Homeschooling Your First Grader

#1 - First Grade is the Doorway to your Child's Education
Help make it a positive experience for them. If your child loves first grade, odds are he will enjoy the rest of his schooling.

#2 - Your First Grader is a Big Responsibility
Do not be all stressed out or start to panic. While this is an important time in the life of your child, you might not feel ready or prepared. Relax, breathe, and have fun. Your child will learn more than you ever dreamed, but only if you are calm and relaxed.

#3 - Your First Grader is Super Important
Build importance in your child and his first grade work. Show him in simple, small ways. For example, let him sit beside you when you read, even if he is not the youngest child. Let him have special school crayons or a special pencil for use only when doing schoolwork.

#4 - Your First Grader Owns His Work
If you have children younger than your first grader, do not let them work in his workbooks. They belong to him and they are his. It is his important work. Make his work special for first graders only. Then when your preschooler gets to first grade, it will be new and exciting.

#5 - Play Learning Games with Your First Grader
Word games and letter games are full of great educational benefits. Keep a healthy balance between work and play. When the work is too hard or frustrating, it might be time to pull out a few good games.

#6 - Focus on Reading
Reading is fundamental. It is the base of his learning pyramid. If your child learns nothing more than how to be great reader (with good comprehension skills) then he will be prepared for the rest of his school years. Center your first grade curriculum on your reading program. Do not leave out other subjects at all because they are also important. It is easy to incorporate writing, spelling, language, and phonics into your reading program. Science and history can be taught during story time, which is important to any good reading program.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Journaling is not for adults only. It is a great way for kids to express themselves and practice writing. It a safe place for them to be creative with their personal ideas. Journals are also a great way to preserve memories.

So, you might be asking, “How can I help my child start journaling?” Here are a few tips:

  • It must be fun for your child or they won’t do it.
  • Take them to the Dollar Store and let them pick out funky tablets; neat notebooks; fun pens, pencils, and markers; and even stickers. Tell them they can use the new supplies to not only decorate their new journal, but to also make entries in it.
  • Allow them to write about whatever they choose. Only supply prompts if they ask.
  • Tell them their journal is their to write down their thoughts, and it is NOT homework. Also, let them know it is private. They do not have to show it to anyone unless they want to.
  • Tell them they do not need to worry about grammar or punctuation. This is a place to get the thoughts out of their head and on to paper.
  • If they are not good at writing much just yet, have them draw pictures to represent what they want to say. Encourage them to write words under the pictures.
  • Tell them they can cut out words from old magazines and newspapers to use in their journal.
  • Model journal writing to your child by letting them see you write in yours, or better yet, the two of you can set aside a time to write in your journal together.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I Spy Bingo

I spy, you spy, we all spy ______. I Spy is a fun game, and it is very educational. This is a great game to play in the car (carschooling).

Start by making homemade bingo type boards. I am sure if you google blank bingo boards or something similar, you will find a place to print them. Once you have the boards, glue them onto cardstock, then go on a search for pictures. Either draw and color your own pictures in the squares or copy clip art from the web or out of a clip art book. You can easily store them in ziplock bags with dry erase markers or wipe off crayons and an old sock to use for erasing.

Here are two ideas to help get you started.

· Traffic/Road Signs-stop sign, yield sign, stop light, no U turn, do not enter, speed limit sin, one way, slow, school crossing…

· Vehicles- trucks, cars, semi truck, tractor, helicopter, train, motorcycle, van, boat, tow truck, airplane… you can also make some different colors if your child needs practice with colors.

Laminate your boards before the first use. Be sure to leave about 1/8th of an inch of the lamination when you trim them. This will help stop them from coming apart.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Homeschooling Your Way

The public school is set on No Child Left Behind. They have cut many classes and shortened others in order to teach to the test. Yes, reading and math are very important, but so are art, music, and homemaking.

Homeschoolers have the advantage of adding whatever curriculum choices and topics they want to their child’s education. What a blessing that is! You can go as fast or as slow as you need. You have the opportunity to teach to your child’s learning style. You can make the lessons as simple or as challenging as you wish, or as your child needs.

You can build responsibility and challenges in your child by adding crafts that take several stages and days to complete; more cooking and gardening and work with real tools; more complex fairy tales; and responsibility for a chore or a pet to name just a few.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Getting Started

First grade is where you find out just how ready your child is for the coming grades. It is crucial that you build a solid foundation. Without it, your child might struggle with the work that is ahead of them.
Make sure that you have everything you will need for the coming school year.

§ Curriculum and other academic resources
§ Paper (writing, drawing, construction, and scrap)
§ Pencils (regular and colored) and pencil sharpeners
§ Crayons, markers, and watercolors
§ Addition/subtraction flashcards, sight word cards, telling time cards, etc.
§ White board or chalkboard
§ Art supplies
§ Bulletin boards or charts of the ABC’s, numbers, days of the week, months of the year and so forth
§ Beginner readers and many books for story time
§ Field trips and activities planned for at the first half of the school year

You can find lots of the supplies you need at yard sales, the Dollar Store, used curriculum buys, other friends that homeschool… You can make lots of the items you need, and don’t forget to use the local library.

You definitely need to have a schedule. You do not have to have a strict schedule, but it is easier in the beginning if you have something to follow. You will want to bend sometimes to allow time for creativity, field trips, further exploration and more. Be flexible, your kids will thank you, and it will help you avoid burnout.

Do not forget to allow for breaks in your school day. The little learners need them the most. If you have an ADHD child as I do, then breaks are essential. Try not to schedule more than 30-45 minutes at a time. Then stop for a 5-10 minute break. Have the kids run around the back yard, get a drink, go to the restroom, or just stretch. Your child will actually learn more if you plan breaks into your day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Board Games

Games, games, and more games, that is what makes a dull, boring day come to life. Homeschooling families should have a wide assortment of board games at their disposal. Not only are board games great family-time activities, but they are also an excellent source for learning and reinforcing academics.

Keep the learning stuff as just your secret. If you tell your child you are going to help them work on developing small muscles skills, improve their memory, practice classifying, following directions, learning fair play, increasing their attention span, or improving their visual discrimination, they are likely to tell you they do not want to play. I won’t tell if y0u won’t.

A great place to pick up board games is at yard sales. Always check the game to make sure all the pieces are there before you purchase it. For fun, challenge your children to make up their own board game.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Do you include music in your homeschool lessons? Music should be an integral part of every homeschooler's curriculum. Even if you are not musical, it is easy to expose your child to a variety of good music. Try including jazz, classical, Christian, folk, patriotic, popular (familiar) music. Do not forget to include your children's favorites.

Children love music. They enjoy skipping, twirling, dancing, singing, tiptoeing, and resting to it. They can listen to music in the car, in their room, as part of a lesson, with the family… Allow them to enjoy music often and to express themselves through a variety of music in a variety of ways. Very soon, they will begin selecting their favorites, so get ready to play them over and over. I will not tell if you put in earplugs!

Use some of your art time to make homemade musical instruments. You can make them from everyday items. A simple google search will turn up loads of ideas. For example, your child can make a tambourine from two aluminum pie pans or foam plates taped together with dried beans inside. A drum can simply be a former oatmeal box. Bang two sticks . Ring bells if you have them. Just be creative!

Friday, June 15, 2012


First graders seem to enjoy art projects, so give them plenty of opportunities to draw, paint, cut, paste, and sculpt. Keep your art supplies in a special caddy or box that they decorate. Rubbermaid has divided totes that work great, or check the Dollar Store for totes.

Begin to collect art books and craft supplies from yard sales. You would be amazed at what people do not want anymore. Try to stay away from having your child color in coloring books. Encourage them to be creative by drawing and coloring their own pictures. There are books that have the beginning of a picture and your child completes it by drawing in the majority. This is good for kids who constantly say, “I don’t know what to draw.”

It is a good idea to always have plenty of plain white paper, colored paper, crayons, paints, scissors, glue, pipe cleaners, tape, sidewalk chalk, glue sticks, old magazines, homemade play dough… Put out some supplies with no instructions to follow. Tell your child to create as they wish. Watch out for a burst of creativity. If you have miscellaneous items such as fabric, yarn, cardboard, beads, sequins, spangles, googly eyes and such, put them out too. The more the merrier.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Flag Day is Everyday

June 14th is Flag Day. Celebrate then and every day. A flag is more than colored cloth hanging on a pole. A flag contains symbols that mean something to people. The American flag has thirteen red and white stripes that stand for our thirteen original colonies (states). It also has fifty stars, with each standing for one of our fifty states. Try making a flag that would mean something to you by using symbols to stand for important things in your life.

Your Own Flag

· 12 x 18 (or poster board)
· Markers
· Scissors
· Tape
· 3/4 " dowel (optional)
· Lamination or clear Con-Tact paper (optional)

1. Write your name (really big) in the middle of the paper. Decide what things in your life are important to you. It could be your hobbies, team sports, pets, church, or anything else.
2. Pick a symbol to stand for each activity and draw them on the flag. (Or you could cut the symbols from construction paper and use glue to place them on the flag.)
3. It is a good idea to laminate your flag or cover with clear Con-Tact paper in order to strengthen it.
4. You can attach your new flag to a wooden dowel if you have one. PVC also works. Put several pieces of tape on the left (short) edge and wrap this around your dowel so that your flag will be able to stand up.
5. Fly it someplace special!

Here is a great link for flag making.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

What is waste? Waste is anything we throw away or get rid of. Do you know about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? Introduce your kids to the terms and encourage them to practice the three R's of waste management. Practicing all three of these activities every day is not only important for a healthy environment, but it can also be fun too.

· Reduce-To make something smaller or use less, resulting in a smaller amount of waste.
· Reuse- You can "reuse" materials in their original form instead of throwing them away, or pass those materials on to others who could use them too! Remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure! It is fun to reuse things when you are crafting.
· Recycle-Don’t just toss everything in the trash. Lots of things (like cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard) can be remade into the same item or something new. Making new items from recycled ones also takes less energy and fewer resources than making products from brand new materials.

Here are fun 3 R songs your kids might enjoy singing.

EnviroKid (to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider)
Pesticides and dog poop
Soap and oil and dirt
Can go down the storm drains
What will they hurt?
Fish, birds and harbor seals,
Eagles, deer and squid.
Think before you use things
Be an EnviroKid!
Recycle and Reuse (to the tune of BINGO)
If you see *paper*, pick it up and put it in its place,
and put it in its place.
(*Replace paper with bottles, pop cans and cardboard.)
If your feet outgrow your shoes, do you know what to do?
and give them to Goodwill.

Recycle Boogie (to the tune of Hokey Pokey)
You put your plastic in, but take the caps off. You put your plastic in and recycle all about.
Do the recycle boogie and recycle all around, that’s what it’s all about (clap, clap).
You put your paper in, but keep the garbage out. You put the paper in and recycle all about.
Do the recycle boogie and recycle all around, that’s what it’s all about (clap, clap).
You put your cans in, but you smash them first. You put your cans in and recycle all about.
Do the recycle boogie and recycle all around, that’s what it’s all about (clap, clap).

Reduce, Recycle and Reuse (to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
Reduce, recycle and reuse,
Be smart with the things you choose.
Recycle paper, cans and tin,
Throw the cardboard boxes in.
Reduce, recycle and reuse,
And our earth we will not lose.
Recycle, recycle show you care.
Save some water, land, and air.
Paper, plastic, things we buy,
Can be recycled if we try.
Recycle, recycle show you care.
Save some water, land and air (and electricity!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Nature Study

Most first graders like to study nature. They have endless questions about the world around them. Spend time with your child finding answers for their questions. Encourage your child to explore, observe, and ask questions.

Plants seeds together and monitor the growth. Make charts or a timeline. Plant a garden and let your child harvest the vegetables and cook some of them. Make a bird feeder and observe the visitors that stop by. Catalog and classify leaves, bugs, seashells, and rocks. Take nature walks together. Do not forget your camera and notebook.

Books are very helpful, but rather than rely on books for all your information, use your own observations in the backyard and neighborhood first. Have your child make books about their own discoveries, and share them with others.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Weather Experiments

It is always fun to add experiments to your homeschool science lessons. First graders learn best when they can see and do, so go ahead and have fun with the following two science experiments.

Egg in a Bottle

· glass bottle with a long, narrow neck (an apple cider jug works well)
· boiled egg
· matches (adult supervision required)

Put the empty bottle on a table. Peel the boiled egg. Light a match and drop it into the bottle. Repeat about three or four times. Quickly put the egg over the mouth of the bottle.

The lit match heats the air inside the bottle. When air is heated, it expands and takes up more room. As the heated air expands, some of it escapes out of the bottle. When the matches go out, the air inside the bottle cools and contracts, which takes up less room. This creates a lower pressure inside the bottle than outside the bottle. The greater pressure outside the bottle forces the egg to get sucked into the bottle.

*To get the egg back out of the bottle, tilt the bottle and blow air into it. Make sure you get out of the way, because the egg will shoot out.

Blowing in the Wind

· a few plastic lids
· petroleum jelly
· magnifying glass
· paper punch
· yarn
· windy day

Punch a hole at one end of each lid. Thread each hole with a length of yarn and knot the ends of the yarn together to form a loop for hanging. Spread petroleum jelly over one side of each lid. Take the lids outdoors on a windy day and hang them in various areas.

Leave them outside for about an hour or two to collect what may be blowing in the wind (we have left ours outside for a few days). Retrieve the lids and see what they have collected.

Some of the items that may have been collected include insects, dirt, seeds, and leaves. Use the magnifying glass for further observation.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Windsocks are a great way to learn about the wind. Add a bit of fun to science today by making your very own windsock.

· sleeve of a large, old long-sleeved shirt
· needle and thread (adult supervision required)
· string
· wire (adult supervision required)
· small rock
· scissors (adult supervision required)

Cut one sleeve off an old long-sleeved shirt. Bend the wire into a circle. Make sure it is the same size as the top of the sleeve. Place the wire into the top end of the sleeve. Take the needle and thread, and stitch it so the wire will stay in place. You have just now made the mouth of the windsock.

Now, place the rock in some cloth on one edge of the wire. Sew it on tight to hold it in place. Tie the string onto the wire opposite the rock. Tie the other end of the string to a branch where it can move freely. The rock will keep the windsock facing into the wind.

Now that your windsock is working, grab a compass to find the direction of the wind.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Benefits of Pets

Recent research shows there is a big benefit to keeping pets. One benefit is that it helps relieve stress to those who like having animals around. The medical community is now using medically approved class of "therapy animals," mostly dogs that are brought to visit folks in nursing homes and such. Another benefit comes from walking your dog. You both get fresh air, social interactions, and exercise. You might want to include that as part of your P.E. program. Pets make good companions for lonely people too.

The most popular pets are dogs and cats, but there are also lots of people who have fancy pet rats (my family does), gerbils, turtles, fish, hamsters, ferrets, guinea pigs, and various birds. We also have five cats, two dogs, a cockatiel and finches, two cows, and four goats. I include the cows and goats because we bottle fed them and they are very much like pets. We also have chickens, ducks, guinea, and geese, but they really are not pets. They do not come to us. Well, the geese do, but that is only because they want to bite us; nasty little fellows.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


A strong vocabulary is crucial for better reading and comprehension. A fun way to increase your child's homeschool vocabulary is by playing games.

Here are a few ideas you might want to try.

· Bingo-Kids write meanings on blank bingo card, parent calls out word

· Vocabulary Pyramid-This plays just like the t.v. game. Divide a pyramid into 8 blocks and write vocabulary words in each numbered block. Four kids can play at a time in two teams. Two kids guess and the other two describe. Have the kids start at the top of the pyramid. The givers try to get receivers to guess the meanings by giving definitions or words related to the vocabulary word in each block. They move down the pyramid as they get each block correct. They get 1.5 minutes to complete the whole pyramid. They can pass if they need to do that. They can go back to any passed words as time permits. You can decide on a point system.

· Matching -Draw a picture or write words on a 12" x 12" piece of construction paper (cowboy, alphabet letter, dog…). Turn the paper over and draw 2" x 2" or 3" x 3" squares. In each square, write an antonym. Laminate and cut apart. On a second piece of 12" x 12" piece of construction paper, draw another set of squares. Write the correct answer in the squares. Laminate, but do not cut apart. Your kids should place the smaller squares on the larger square. They can then check their answers by turning over the smaller squares to form the picture.

· Play Concentration

Monday, February 20, 2012

Valentine Social Skills

Valentine’s Day is so much fun for many homeschool kids. It is a time to show love and share love. It is a time to be a friend. Valentine’s Day is a great time to work on social skills.

Talk to your child about showing love and sharing love with family members, friends, and neighbors. Have your child make a special craft for a family member. It can be a bookmark, college of the family doing things together, a lacy heart with a picture of the family member and them, or anything that catches their fancy.

Food is another way to share love. Food seems to bring folks together. What about making a heart shaped pizza? Simply make a pizza, but shape the dough into a heart. Add your favorite toppings. Heart shaped cookies are fun, too! Use a heart shaped cookie cutter. Decorate the cookies with red, white, and pink icing. Add sprinkles for fun, or use a fine tipped tube of icing to write Love, Family, Be Mine… on the cookies.

A treasure hunt is a fantastic way to have fun and practice social skills. Divide the kids or family members into teams. Use red and pink construction paper to write down clues for the teams. Hide clues around the house and yard. Each team leader get the first clue for their team which will propel them on a fun hunt. The team members must work together as a team. At the end of the hunt, the winning team will find a special Valentine’s Day gift as their prize. The prize could be candy for each team member, a holiday bookmark, a box of candy hearts… Look at the Dollar Store for prizes.

Most of all encourage your child to have fun and be friendly as they spread a little love.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Do you use carschooling or roadschooling for your homeschool? They are a little similar. Essentially, carschooling is educating your child while they are riding in the car. Diane Flynn Keith coined the term. It has become very popular in the last few years, not to mention how fun it is. We all have errands to run, vacations to take, rides to grandma’s house, time stuck in traffic jams, carpooling to soccer practice, trips to the bank, and so on. Roadschooling is hitting the road to school. Visiting places you are learning about.

Since you have a captive audience, use that captured time wisely. Quiz the kids, ask them to look for familiar or unfamiliar words around town, practice directional terms, tell stories, listen to educational CD’s (how to speak Spanish, addition facts, various music styles…). Play memory games, or if your kids know their ABC’s, you can call out a letter and have your child see if they can spot one thing for each letter of the alphabet. For example, if you say the letter “B”. Your child might say billboard, barn, or bench. It depends on what they see around them.

The point of carschooling is to work a little educational fun into lost minutes in your day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eclectic Homeschooling

Homeschooling is a wonderful adventure. There is such freedom awaiting you. You are free to choose what curriculum you will use. You are free to school at whatever time of day you choose. You are free to homeschool at any location you choose, whether that is carschooling, roadschoooling, or traditional schooling at home.

There are several types of schooling form which to choose. Some are traditional, unschooling, Charlotte Mason, unit studies, eclectic, classical, and so on. Many families choose eclectic homeschooling.

Eclectic homeschooling means you will pick and choose things that fit your children’s learning styles and interests. Sometimes, what works one year or semester, will not work the next. Sometimes, what works for one child will not fit the needs of your other kids.

In conclusion, eclectic homeschooling is simply providing an individualized education plan for each of your children.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Science of Snow

"How full of the creative genius is the air in which these are generated! I should hardly admire more if real stars fell and lodged on my coat."
--Henry David Thoreau, 1856

What would winter be like without beautiful, unique snowflakes? I love snowflakes because they are so delicate and each one is very different. Snowflakes begin life as an ice crystal about the size of a speck of dust. As they fall toward the ground, they link up with other crystals, forming beautiful snowflakes. The most basic form of a snow crystal is a hexagonal prism. As they grow, branches sprout from the corners to make shapes that are more complex.

Try designing your own snow art or making paper snowflakes in your elementary homeschool science classes. See how many different styles you can make.

Snow Art

White, Red, Dark Blue, and Black construction paper
4 plastic containers
Pickling salt
Epsom salts
White granulated sugar

Put 1/2 cup of water into each of the 4 containers.
Add 2 tablespoons of each of the following to each of the containers. (Alum, pickling salt, white granulated sugar, Epsom salts.)

Dip a Q-Tip in one of the containers and draw a picture on the black construction paper. Using another Q-Tip, dip it in a different container and draw on the red construction paper, and then continue to the white and dark blue. Use a different Q-Tip for each container.

Let your projects dry completely. Use a magnifying glass to view the crystals and geodes made by the salts, sugar, and alum.