Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Homeschooling: Braving the Rapids

{Read my disclosure policy}

White Water Rapid Days

I had the best intentions. After squeezing in one last week of summer with my husband’s time off from work, we planned to “start school” full steam ahead on a Monday. Books were stacked and ready, schedules were organized, and the table was cleared off. Still trying to catch up on laundry after a camping trip, I was optimistic that we would be ready to conquer our new schedule with the new week. Then, the kitchen cabinets almost fell off the wall! A few phone calls led to a repairman investigating the cause and discovering that none of the cabinets were attached to the wall properly. It was a miracle that they had not fallen already. The “quick fix” involved emptying everything out of all of the cabinets, six hours of noisy repair work, and then putting everything away again. Needless to say, the school day was shot, and my “best-laid” plans flew out the window.

Days are simply not predictable, no matter what my intentions might be, so how do I maneuver the rapids, while still moving forward?

Back-Up Plans

First of all, I have learned to scale back on things that take large chunks out of my day—letting some things go, and not being afraid to delegate. I prepare in advance for times when I cannot be available to work one-on-one with my kids, just as I prepared emergency substitute teacher plans when I taught in the school system. Some ways that I cover school when the day is quickly slipping away include:
  • Assigning independent reading
  • Having kids listen to an audio book
  • Letting kids do lessons from a workbook, such as vocabulary or handwriting
  • Assigning dictation work
  • Keeping a list of writing prompts handy, and giving each kid his own journal to write in.
  • Pairing kids up to practice math facts or learn vocabulary words with flash cards
  • Turning on a science, history, or literature related DVD
  • Sending kids outside with nature journals and field guides in hand to observe and study
  • Giving kids a project to work on, such as building a simple machine out of Legos, completing a geography puzzle, or experimenting with a science kit

Enjoy the Ride!

When the day gets in the way of school work, I don’t take it as a failure. Looking at the bigger picture and how far we have come helps to prevent discouragement. I don’t play the comparison game. After ten years of homeschooling, I have learned to use my schedule as a tool and not my master. If long term roadblocks occur, I pare down to the three R’s for a while and focus on the basics. Above all, it helps to breathe, put things in perspective, and remember why I homeschool in the first place.

With distractions, interruptions, and white water rapid days occurring when I least expect them, I do have to remind myself to cherish this time with my kids, so I hold on tight and enjoy the ride! And oftentimes, the  white water rapid days are more fun than the predictable ones.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Activities for Kid Detectives

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My youngest son LOVES to play detective. He's a Sherlock Holmes fan, and he enjoys trying to solve mysteries on his own. We searched high and low for a trench coat and detective hat, and lucked out with a nice coat from the thrift store and a Sherlock Holmes style hat from the dime store. With the addition of a mustache and Spy glasses (with secret rearview mirrors), he is ready to take on any case that presents itself. 

To inspire him, here are some activites I've found:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hearts for Home Blog Hop # 84

Welcome to the Hearts for Home Blog Hop!

Every Thursday over 20 bloggers host the Hearts for Home Blog Hop
The blog hop runs from Thursday through Wednesday, so please be sure to stop back by and share your family friendly posts throughout the week! As wives and moms, our hearts are to be focused on our homes, and we all can use inspiration and encouragement from time to time! 
So please share your posts on topics such as: faith, homemaking, marriage, homeschooling, crafts, DIY projects, recipes, parenting, and anything else that can be an encouragement to someone!  

The most popular post from last time was:

Free Spring Printables
from Monsters Ed Homeschooling

Check out some of my favorite posts from last time:

How to Throw a Rainbow Party
from Yellow Lab
Hands-On Science Fun!
from BJ's Homeschool

I hope you'll play along and share your posts this week, and maybe you'll discover some new ideas from all the fabulous links! Use the form below to enter your links. Please just kindly link back to this blog or display our Hearts for Home button in your post or on your sidebar.

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If you were featured this week, help yourself to one of our “I was featured” buttons to display on your blog!

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Happy Hopping!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Real Teens Read The Book Thief and Number the Stars

{Read my disclosure policy}

Our homeschool teen literature group has been busy all summer, reading some great literature and going on several fun field trips. We've added some younger students to the group, so we are now Real Teens Read/Real Kids Read. These students are a joy to spend time with, and it's been wonderful to watch how they are making connections to the literature as we go along.

We did a unit on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, with the teens reading both books and the younger kids only reading Number the Stars

After reading the books, the group met to watch the movie version of The Book Thief. It was interesting that the younger kids who had not read the book really enjoyed the movie, but the ones who had read the book were quite disappointed in the movie. There are several things from the book that were changed, and everyone agreed that the changes were either unnecessary or actually detracted from the theme of the story. It seems like that happens often when books become movies. The books are always better! 

When we met for our book discussion, the group ate lots of pizza while discussing the themes these books have in common, the historical events that inspired both books, and the relevance of knowing and understanding these events and themes today. 

Then, we made stars. Using aluminum cut from disposable baking pans, the kids cut out a Star of David, and then painted over it with acrylic paint. Many of the kids also chose to write "Shalom" with paint pens, then we punched holes at the top and strung a ribbon through.

To see what we've done with other books in Real Teens Read/Real Kids Read, visit this page!

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