Saturday, September 9, 2017

DIY games with a free Doctor Who Guess Who game printable!


If you've read my blogging long enough, I am a diy-er.  Is that even a word?  :)  I do enjoy making things with my own hands though.   My children enjoy games immensely.  We have always been a family without a video game player (shock).  And, when it comes to Minecraft or even computer games, they have a very limited time per week to play on them (2 hours per week per child).  So, we have turned to board and card games as a fun screen free way to play.  We have many games (an entire upright dresser full as well as a large stack on top of that dresser).  And, we are always on the lookout for more games.  I am going to show you how you can DIY a couple of very popular games.

HEADBANZ

This is a very popular guessing game which is loads of fun to play.  But, did you know, you can easily do it yourself at a fraction of the cost?  I made my own and all it cost me was a bit of time, paper, printer ink, and 2 sets of headbands from Dollar Tree.

(excuse the spelling mistake on Winnie the Pooh, I didn't notice it till much later.  We just play with it anyway)



I have made a couple of versions of this game over the years.  Its easy to set up to make the cards.  First we pick a theme we are wanting to work with.  So far, I've done books, Disney characters, and movie characters.  I just formulate a list (or have the kids do so).  And, then I go to Microsoft Word and print the words out.  First you need to make a table being sure it is 2 columns wide and  6 to 7 rows long.  Widen out your table so it looks like business cards.  Your font size should be about 28.  Use any font style you like as long as it is legible.  Then start adding your words.  I do one sheet at a time.  I just print each one as I am done, delete the words that I added, and refill.  Repeat this process until all the cards you want are done!



Next, you will need a set of headbands from the Dollar Tree.  Or Walmart.  Dollar Tree is cheaper though.  You will want the stretchy elastic type, not hard plastic.  I got 2 packs because at times we have a large number of friends over and I wanted enough for a crowd.  Armed with your cards and your headbands you are ready to play.    Don't know how to play? Well, this link will tell you how.  We play as if we owned the real game, which we don't.  :)


You can also make these for little people who can't read or not read well!  I saved myself a lot of legwork here by going to Google.  Search for flashcards that could be easily acted out like animals, parts of a story, people, or even some foods.  Be sure they have pictures and you are good to go!

BINGO



Bingo is another game that can be made for cheap and you can have a lot of variety.  The internet is chocked full of free Bingo printable from numbers, to alphabets, to various holidays.  You can find a ton online for nothing but ink and paper.  As a side note, I always use card stock for printing my games on.  Makes them so much sturdier.


For less than 5 bucks, you can get a bucket of these glass aquarium decor to use for chips for your games. We love these because they are study and just plain pretty to look at.  

GUESS WHO



Of all the games so far, this one has a bigger upfront cost (about 15 bucks) but that money can go a long way and make many other games, which makes the upfront cost worth it.  You need an older style Guess Who board like the one here.   From that one set of Guess Who boards a number of different styles of cards can come.


I am not the originator of this idea.  I bumped across this Lego Guess Who game and from there my imagination soared.  It took a bit of playing around on Word to come up with how to make the cards, but it was achieved.  I designed a Doctor Who version of this game that my kids have loved.  


For this game, you need two different sets of cards, the cards for the game boards and the cards you choose your person from.  Again, done on Microsoft word using tables, you can see how to do this one.  This one is a bit more time consuming since you are looking for pictures with different features for the guess work, but my kids of all ages have loved it.  



Would you like a copy of this game?  Well, I have it here to give to you completely for FREE!  Just go to the link here, stock your printer with cardstock, and you are ready to go.  I hope you enjoy it.   As a reminder, this will only work with the Guess Who game listed above.  There are other styles of Guess Who boards, but these will not work in there without a bunch of hassel.  Enjoy!



Happy Gaming!




Saturday, August 26, 2017

Let's Talk Literature and Poetry


While we are on the topic of Language Arts, lets take a moment and talk about literature.  Once a child starts to read, I really feel good literature is a necessary part of our children's education.  Finding out we had a child who was dyslexic did not change that.  I was intentional about making sure she got good solid literature in her life, even if I had to read it to her or have her listen to it an audiobook (more on that later).  

About 6 years ago, I decided I needed to be more forceful about it. My oldest 2 children were natural born classic literature readers. Oh, they read plenty of other fun stuff from the library as well, but they enjoyed reading classics, too.  So, I really felt they were well rounded in their reading.  However, when my first son came along, I found him only wanting to pick up graphic novels and comic books from the library.  He read a couple of other fun things as well, but nothing like I had seen my girls do.  It was then I decided to be more intentional.  So one summer I poured myself into this project.  I loved the book lists in Sonlight, Veritas Press, and Classical Conversations.  However, I knew I didn't want to devote to any one of those as my children's lists.  I did use them as my springboard and my literature lists were born.


Each summer, I go over them to be sure they will be a good fit for the child about to enter that grade level, especially in the elementary and middle school grades.  I also added books that were mostly appeal to boys or to girls at the bottom.  For the elementary and middle school years, I don't follow a theme.  I do like my children to have read through Shakespeare for Children and Little Pilgrim's Progress in the elementary years, but other than that it's basically a list to give them good literature to read throughout the year.   However, my high school lists do follow a pattern. 9th grade is American authors, 10th is British authors, 11th is Shakespeare and poetry, and 12th grade is Classical (Greek, Roman, etc.).  Each of the high school years also has a bit of theological literature mixed in it as well.  At the end of each one, they are required to submit a book report about the book and whether it was enjoyed or not.  I have really seen my children's literature expand since giving them these lists at the library and I feel I have accomplished my mission.


Each year, I take the time to put all the literature for the year on our school shelf for easier access.  We personally own all the books that I have on our lists.  We found out the hard way that it is easier this way.  Besides, who doesn't love a shelves full of good literature?  I know I do!  


If you look carefully, you will see little dots on the spines.  I have found that I like color coding the various grade levels on the books.  Try as we might, books do get dishelved at times and it makes it easier for all of us to find one with "the code".  I picked up these tiny color dots off Amazon.  I stick one on the spine and reinforce it with tape.  I know this way is not for everyone, but it works for me.

(literature dots - similar ones to mine can be found here)

When I discovered one of my children had dyslexia, I didn't throw in the towel on literature just because she was not able to read it yet.  Instead, I have made a new list each summer based on what I knew she could handle.  Each year I choose both books she could read to me (based on her current reading level) and chapter books she could listen to.  She is not required a book report for the ones she reads to me, however, she is required to give me an oral report and a drawing of her favorite part of the book with the chapter books she listens to.  I write down what she tells me orally so we have a record of her reading. I am thankful for our library who has a great collection of audiobooks we can check out using Overdrive.  I also utitlize Libravox as well.  Youtube also has a great collection of books being read aloud.  Its amazing what you can find once you start looking around.  We don't have a subscription, yet, for Amazon audio collection, but I have been tempted to do it.  I know we would get our money's worth between her needs, my one son who loves audio books, and our listening to things in the van as we drive.  


A word about poetry.  I love it!  I find it beautiful and sometimes even fun to read.  And, I also feel it needs to be a part of a child's life.  I have a steadily growing collection of it.  We incorporate it into our lives as much as possible.  Now, not all my children enjoy it, but we listen to it anyway.  One way I have added it into our lives is during National Poetry Month.  We spend time each day reading a new poem.  It is a simple but effective way to get some poetry in.  Another way is through Poetry Tea Times, which I plan to start this year with my children.  Once or twice a month, we will all gather in the kitchen, sip tea or lemonade and read poetry together.  I am looking forward to this this year.  Add poetry to your year.  You won't regret it.

Here is a list of a few anthologies of literature to get your feet wet in the area of literature....

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
The Book Tree by Elizabeth McCallum and Jane Scott
Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt
Honey for a Teen's Heart by Gladys Hunt
Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson
A Literary Education by Catherine Levison
The Classical Reader by Leslie Raynor and Dr. Christoper Perrin

That's all for literature today!  I will be taking a break for a couple of weeks.  School begins Monday and I want to put my heart and soul into getting our year rolling.  Until mid-September, blessings to all.



   

Saturday, August 19, 2017

How I homeschool - Language Arts, part 2


Today, I bring you the second half of my Language Arts post - Handwriting and Writing.  Truth be told, this is my favorite area of teaching my children. Without further adieu......  

Handwriting - 

I like to keep it simple when it comes to handwriting.  For the beginner, I usually purchase a simple pack of Kindergarten paper and we practice the basic letter formation for each letter and number.  I do the same process when they begin cursive (about 3rd grade).  Once they know that, then I move on to other handwriting courses.  When my big girls were small, we were given the A Beka kindergarten handwriting books and they were great.  But with my younger 4, I have either used books I got at Barnes and Noble, the Dollar Tree, or printed for free online.  Doing a quick Google search for free printable handwriting pages will give you loads to do.  


Once I got past the beginner stage and they were ready for more meaty handwriting practice, I move on to Draw Write Now.  There is both handwriting practice and drawing practice.  The instructions are clear and very easy and fun to do.  Each book is themed and extra learning about the topic they are writing takes place.  We have enjoyed them immensely.


For cursive, once we get past the beginner stage, we move onto Draw and Write through History.  Again, they get both handwriting and drawing practice.  And, again the instructions are clear.  We have enjoyed using these in the same timeline of the period of history we are studying.  For both of these series, they need to be ready to progress to whole sentences.  What I love the most is the fact that these can be used for many years and many children, my number one reason I purchased them.  The second reason is that the drawing part can be referenced for years to come.  

Writing -

Learning to write a story or report are very important skills for a child to learn.  It also helps I have a family full of children who love to write.   Over the years, we have used a variety of methods to get the task done.

For non-fiction writing skills like writing a descriptive report, a narrative report, or whatever, our grammar courses have provided the needed instruction there on the how to.  I have also had the children write about famous people as we studied a certain topic in either history or science, or pick a favorite topic to learn and write about.  This has given them plenty of practice in the report area of writing.  I also have found that giving them a check list to be sure they have all the parts they need for the report is very handy.  I mostly just do these myself, but for the purpose of this post, I looked for a handy print and go checklist for you.  This website has some really nice ones you could reference.  

For story writing, I have alot of different things, we enjoy.  First of all, 


Story Starters by Karen Andreola.  This book is divided up in content.  The first half or so has stories that she has written but lets the child complete.  She provides writing prompt questions, pictures (these are older in style but a treat to the eyes), and even extra grammar help to get the creative juices flowing.  The second half is pictureless and requires more thinking on the child's part.  We have loved this book so much.  I also use it as a time to stress good grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc, just like I would any other report or writing assignment.  



Another fun way to get the story writing process going is giving them art cards.  I have a few different kinds - art collectors cards (think Charlie Brown's bubble gum cards), postcards, cards I found in a game - all of which have famous works of art on them.  This not only allows them to learn about that particular work of art, but allows their imagination to flow at what could be happening in the art they are studying.  I have read some very fun stories based on an art card they have chosen.  A good source for art postcards is Dover.  They have a large selection to choose from, if you would like to go this route.  




Another way I have had them write stories is with word prompts. I have gotten my word prompt cards from Write Shop.  In fact, as of the writing of this post, they are given away some free word prompt spinners on their website.  Follow this link to get to them.  With the word prompts, they pick 4 different words or phrases randomly and put them into a story of their own design. We've had both serious and comical stories based on these cards.  My husband one time picked up StoryWorld cards.  These have delightful picture prompts and my kids have picked a couple and written stories, even small novels based on these photos.  Rory's Story Cubes are also great for story prompting.  There are a variety of different Story Cubes and you can mix and match them to your heart's delight.  


Last but not least, I want to share the Evan-Moor books.  Pictured here are just a few of the different ones I own.  They have been very handy to me in guiding the children through various parts of the writing process, whether it be stories, poetry, reports, or whatever.  If you can ever get your hands on these goodies, you will have a gem of help.

That wraps it up for how I teach Language Arts.  Next week, I will share my literature list and how I organize them as a final thought on the Language Arts part of my homeschooling.  Until then.......




Saturday, August 12, 2017

The big list of Solar Eclipse fun


If you living within the continental United States and have any contact  with any news source whatsoever, you probably know by now on August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse with follow a path from sea to shining sea.  Many people have revolved a vacation or even just a one day getaway so they can be in the path of totality.  However, if you are like us and cannot travel, not all hope is gone.  Almost all of the continental United States will get a view of at least a partial eclipse.  In our home, any eclipse, lunar or solar, is a time to observe the skies.  I have long loved observing the heavens.  I remember gazing out our car window on many occasions staring at the cloud formations or the stars at night.  So, even though we won't be in the path of totality, we are making a big deal out of the upcoming solar eclipse anyway.  

I have put together a list of information about the solar eclipse as well as some fun stuff you can do with your family to celebrate this upcoming phenomena.  Make it a big deal because it is!  Even if all you do is watch the livestream, it will be well worth your time.

Let's start off with the information about the day:

When?  Monday, August 21, 2017

Where?  Totality path can be see on the path below.  However, most of the United States will be able to observe at least a partial eclipse.  

click here for a downloadable pdf to a larger copy from NASA

Time?  At this link from NASA, there is an interactive map that when you click on your area, you get all the times and such.  Great resource!

What if I can't make it or don't really want to stare at the heavens for a long time?  Look no further than here.  There is a complete list of all the different places you will be able to catch a live stream of the action in the sky.  Really, it will be worth it no matter how you view it.

For much more information and even downloadable stuff, NASA has a whole website devoted to it. You can find it here.  

What is a solar eclipse?

I have gathered a few youtube videos to help you and/or your children learn what one is.  There is something for young and old to learn from in this list:

Crash Course is one of our favorite places to go to for information.  Enjoy this little video about eclipses.  Great for any age.


Dr. Binocs is a load of cutenss and fun.  Here is a great shorter video packed with information, great for your younger children.


Here is a fun little song to even help the youngest of hearts learn and understand what an eclipse is.



Here is one final video on preparing for the solar eclipse upcoming on the 21st:


Having fun with the solar eclipse:

First off - watching the solar eclipse whether travelling or in your own backyard

Let me emphasize SAFETY!!!!  One cannot just stare into the sun.  No way should you ever do that.  Staring directly at the sun can lead to eye damage or blindness.  But, there are lots of ways to watch this safely.  

Eclipse glasses - Amazon has an amazing selection of eclipse glasses that you can purchase.  Getting this close to the day, they are a bit pricey, but worth it if you want a view.  It is imperative they remain unscratched.  One scratch can cause an amazing about of damage.  I really cannot emphasize safety enough.  Here is a link to all the variety you can choose from.  But don't dawdle.  Some are selling out fast.  A quick hunt around the internet may garner you some better bargains. If you see one, please comment below!

DIY eclipse viewing - 


Nuturestore has a great list of sun and moon activities, but amongst it is a paper plate viewer you can make.   Check it out here.

Arts and Crafts, just for fun - 

Here is a youtube video link to how to draw a solar eclipse using chalk pastels


How about a t-shirt?   Here is a link for a t-shirt you can make.

Take the time a make a solar eclipse flip book.  This link will show you how.

For simple craft, here is one for little hands using coffee filters.  

Slime is all the rage right now.  Here is a link to make some galaxy slime. This stuff is really awesome.  She shows you how to make it in a variety of ways using a variety of resources.  She also has a plethora of STEM activities you can do with your kids having to do with the solar eclipse as well.  The link for that is here.

Last but not least, here is a funny story to show your kids (unless you own the book).  I had never heard of it till yesterday.  What a funny story.  However, I should point out, the animals in the story look directly at the sun.  If a little person is watching it, you may want to emphasize the safety rules again.


Do you like to celebrate with food?  I've got some ideas for you.

How about a galaxy themed food party?  Here is a list of snacks and treats to get your creative juices flowing:

finger sandwiches (chicken/tuna salad, meat, PBJ) cut in moon/star shapes
Sun Chips

Moon Pies

Sunmaid Raisins
Sunkist Oranges
Cosmic Brownies
Milky Way bars
Starburst
Eclipse Cookies - see some ideas below
Tang
Sunny D
Capri Sun

Eclipse cookies - 

Here are links to two different fun ideas.  One is easy and the other will take you more time. Take your pick.



Galaxy bark is a fun idea.  Here is a recipe for a good one.

How about Galaxy popcorn?  Here is fun recipe for that!

Want to plan a more elaborate occassion?  Here is link with some awesome ideas.

Want to keep it really simple and let someone else do the work for a special treat?  Krispy Kreme just announced the release of a special doughnut available in time for the the eclipse.  You can read all about this yummy chocolate addition here.

Final resources:

Here are a couple of other websites that you might find useful in your preparation for the eclipse.  


Experience Astronomy has a free video and lesson on the eclipse as well.

Plan to mark your calendar and get ready to have to some fun with the solar eclipse coming on August 21st.  I know we will!!!!   

Happy heavens gazing.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How I Homeschool - Language Arts, part 1


Today will be part 1 of the whole topic of language arts.  I want to cover what we do or have done with Grammar, Literature, Poetry, and Spelling.  Next time, I will cover writing.   It seems to need a post of its own.  

First, Grammar.....

I have used a couple of things over the years depending on what works best for my kids. We gave Simply Grammar by Karen Andreola a try first since I love her Story Starters (more on that next time) and all her other books, but my kids just couldn't grasp the language or the concepts with her book.  So, my girls gave these a try.


Pictured here is the first one; there is a second one as well.  My girls adored them.  Set up how a typical day with Charlotte Mason grammar would go, it covers a wide range of grammar study from grammar itself to picture study.  My girls loved its charm and flourished under it.  I loved that it didn't include diagramming (I hate diagramming and truly find it unnecessary, my personal opinion).  If I felt that they needed a bit more to it, I would add selections from English for a Thoughtful Child. These also have 2 volumes. These were great together and were a great fit for my oldest girls.  Today, someone has developed workbooks to go along with Primary Language Lessons and Intermediate Language Lessons which you can find at this website.  There is a link there for the second book as well.  I do wish they had been around for my girls.  


However, when I had my next 2 come along, boys, these were not working for them, for whatever reason.  They also found them boring, at least for their interest needs.  Now, I know Grammar is not always interesting but I find that if a subject is the least bit interesting to a child, they tend to do better.  So, my hunt for a good fit for them began.  I wanted to keep true to my Charlotte Mason roots, so I was introduced to First Language Lessons from Peace Hill Press/Well Trained Mind.


These fit what my boys were needing right away.  They also fit my needs for a Charlotte Mason style with reading, narration, memorization, stories, and all.  My boys found these much more interesting and my youngest 2 have enjoyed them as well.  Books 1 and 2 are now separated on their website into 2 different books, but when we began, it was all one volume with a division in the middle.  These are teacher intensive, but I enjoy it.  These cover 4 years of study.  I don't usually begin Grammar until a child has a good grasp on reading, about 3rd grade.  Then, we study steady Grammar for 4 years solid.  For 7th and 8th grades, I get review books from Spectrum that they can do on their own and review the topics we have previously learned.  The downfall to First Language Lessons is it does cover diagramming.  Now, if you love to diagram, this is for you!  However, as I mentioned before, I don't, so we skip the diagramming lessons (go ahead, I give you permission to gasp).  Overall, we have been very happy with these books.  And, they stick to our love of Charlotte Mason style

Next, Literature and Poetry.....

There are loads of lists available out there all over Pinterest and the internet, but I want to share what I do and what has worked lovely for me.  I want to give my children a good grasp on good literature.  There is no end to the reading that they could get from the library and my kids have dived into plenty of popular series - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Junie B Jones, Magic Tree House, Divergent, Hunger Games, etc.  These and much more have been read over and over.  But, I wanted my kids to experience solid good literature as well, books that have stood the test of time.  So, each year, I give them a reading list and they are required to work through it and write book reports.  


I got this idea from both Veritas and Classical Conversations (ironic that they both are Classical in style which I am not), but I loved their lists.  Veritas is quite extensive and thorough.  Classical Conversations seems to be a bit more doable.  So, I combined what I felt was the best of both worlds to formulate the lists.  Each summer, I re-evaluate them based on my child's interests, current reading level, etc and tweak them accordingly.  For high school, I have a set genre I want them to read each year (more on that in my high school posts).  These have worked well.  Once read, they have to complete within 48 hours, the book report.  Some of mine work well with a set sheet. I have used Homeschool Creations book report forms and have loved them.  Others enjoy typing up their own.  I give them a set number of words to write and they go to it.   I will be sharing more on this in a future post, so keep an eye out for it. 

A note on my dyslexic child...yes, she has a reading list as well.  I have hers set up very differently.  I wanted her acquainted with good literature, but she is unable to read it.  Here is where the blessing on audio books come in.   Our library uses a couple of different free audio book formats which we use frequently.  But, we have also use Librivox and YouTube for our audio books as well.  So, half of her reading list is audio chapter books to listen to, narrate to me her book report, and then draw a picture of her favorite scene.  The other half of her list are books that I know are on her reading level and that she can read to me.  I don't require book reports on these since her level is so low and she is reading to me anyway.  This has worked so well for her and she adores listening to her stories.


Having a good stock of poetry to fall back on is a wonderful thing. This is only part of our collection.  I enjoy adding them whenever I can.  And, I have found many wonderful others at our library.  Not all of my children enjoy poetry, but I feel it is an important part of literature so I am sure to include it as much as I can.  Hymns are always written in poetic form, so they can a healthy dose of it each Sunday as well.

Last for today, Spelling.....

And, here is where we have done a number of things.  I have a couple of children who are natural born spellers and thus have needed little to no help in that area.  They would write, I would correct the errors, they would rewrite and we would move on.  And, then I have a couple of children where spelling is a huge huge huge struggle.  I am a natural born speller, but my husband is not.  So, to have some of each kind is not really surprising.  What has surprised me is how long it has taken some of my kids to get it.  What seems so obvious to me is not so obvious to them. And, then there is the dyselxia issues.  So, we've had our challenges and still have them.  But, here are some things that I have used over the years.  


If you have a child who are natural spellers or just love memorizing lists, this is the book for you.  I have used it minimally but it works well with those types of children.  My one son will be using it next year.  He seems to do well with lists, so between this and fun times with Spelling City, he will do well.  He has struggled to learn to spell and only in the last year have we figured out his nitch.  I think this will go far with him.   We have also used the Spectrum Spelling series as well.  They are the typical spelling lesson book with lists, exercises, and a test on Friday.  Not all of mine have enjoyed these but they do make great review for a struggler.

For my big girl was struggling, Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason was what made life click for her.  Lots of memorizing and copywork but it did the trick and she finally got the spelling game.  There are five books in the series though I only needed to use parts of first 3 to get the ideas down for her.  But they will last you many many years of schooling if you should choose.



For my last 2 children, one of who is dyslexic, I will be using All About Spelling.  It ties in with her All About Reading which has taken to new heights of reading and I want to keep up with the consistency.  I haven't used the curriculum yet, but am excited to dive in and teach it.  She is excited to be learning to spell even though her reading level isn't that high.   I also plan to incorporate Spelling City into her day as well.


So, what is Spelling City?  Its an online spelling game site.  There are lots to do for free, if you want, but I chose to pay the yearly fee and expand the games, spelling lists, and much more for my kids.  They test drove it last year with the free stuff and thought it was the best. I plan to utilize it much more this year.

That's all for today.  Next week, we will talk about handwriting and writing which I felt go hand in hand and needed a post to themselves. Until next time......







Saturday, July 1, 2017

How I Homeschool - Science


This week I will talk about Science, which happens to be one of my favorite subjects.  There are so many fun things you can do with Science.  And, God's creation is always fascinating to study.


As any other homeschooler, I have tried a few different science curriculums - A beka, Bob Jones, Bright Ideas Press, read alouds from the library based on our current interests - but, hands down, Apologia science is my favorite for my kids younger years.   They fall in nicely with the Charlotte Mason style that I like with reading, narration, and all.  Each book covers a year and follows one of the days of creation with the addition of Physics/Chemistry.  And, they are also full of activities and fun experiments as well.  They are great as a read aloud all by themselves, or you can embelish them further with good reading from the library, which is my favorite way to approach any subject.


You can also purchase a very nice notebooking journal to go along with your study if you choose.  I enjoy getting them and then picking and choosing what we want to do to go along with it.  Also, these days, the books are also recorded onto CD for further review if you want to.  These are very new and I haven't gotten any of them so I can't testify to how good they are, but I am sure that are top notch just like all their products.  


I am also a firm believer in nature study as well.  I feel science shouldn't be just read about but explored.  A great way to explore science is through nature study.  My favorite books to rely on to spring board nature study ideas, especially if you are not a spur of the moment type are these.....

Comstock's Handbook to Nature Study - this is an absolute must and gem.  So full of ideas you need a lifetime to do them all.

Natural Science through the Seasons - a vintage book but well worth your purchase.  As the title suggests, it goes through the year.  There are even sturdy little calendars you can follow to help you along each day with studying nature.  A definite gem.

If you like a slower approach to nature study, Blog, She Wrote, has a year's worth of printable ones that are free.  They also have less per month which makes nature study a breeze to add in to your science.  

If you would like to know more of how we do that, please read my previous post here.

Back to science itself.  



I also find having some great activity books on hand are very helpful as well. I love love love the Usborne collections of experiment books.  Most do not require anything more than what you have in your own home.  They are easy and fun.  Highly recommended.  My Body has got to be one of our most favorite things to do when they are young when it comes to anatomy study.  Apologia has a nice one for older kids in their notebooking journal, but I love this one for the younger kids.   By simply tracing your child's body, they can place all their internal organs on a life size model of themselves.  Yes, it requires some wall space, but so worth it in my mind.  The last one, Giant Science by Evan Moor, is a gem if you like reinforcement pages.  I have used it off and on over the years.

Science, for me, also requires some hands on equipment to make learning more exciting.  Here is a little list of musts for our homeschooling:

Microscope
Telescope or binoculars
Safety goggles, one pair for each person, including you, mom
Magnifying glass or two
A good starter chemistry kit
Star charts
Sky charts, especially the different types of clouds
A good periodical table of elements - this book comes with a fun one and is just a fun book to read
Hands on human anatomy stuff - this company has a great selection
Magnetism kit
Model of the solar system
Toobs plastic animal sets - we started these years ago, even have them for various history studies, we love them (you can also find them on Amazon or at craft stores like Michaels and A.C. Moore)

These are all in my standard science kit for teaching.  You can obviously add or take away at your discretion.  Plus, the Apologia books includes a list at the start of their books, if you are choosing to use much of their experiments.  One other fun thing I have done over the years, especially to give my kids a taste of dissection is Owl Pellets.  Its a fun thing to do even if you are digging through Owl puke.  :)  By the way, it can be virtually.  You can be a certified barfologist.  Just visit this website.

As I have mentioned in my previous posts on various homeschooling topics, I love anthologies of literature.  Sadly, I don't have one for living science books.  However, I do have a link that I reference.

Simply Charlotte Mason has a delightful list of living books broken down by grade and subject

Plus, I love having Usborne and DK books on hand that they can study and look at.  DK especially has a books for every single subject in science.  They are colorful and packed with information.  We enjoy them immensely.  

And, that about wraps it up for how we do science.  What are your favorite ways to study about science?  Do you have a favorite curriculum you love?  Tell me about it in the comments.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Boys in the Sink


Today we are going to be talking about getting your boys in the kitchen, but not just the kitchen, but of all the household chores (btw, if you know Veggie Tales, you will recognize where that title came from).  I am a firm believer is making sure boys get taught all about household work.  Sometimes, we parents are archaic in our thinking.  Girls learn to do things in the house, and boys learn to do things outside the house.  While some of this should be true, not all of it need be.   When my kids were young and we knew we wanted a big family, I decided then and there my boys and my girls were going to learn things to help out.  I saw the stress other mom friends who were trying to do it all and knew that was not for me.  Do they have to do them till the day they die?  Nope, but I wanted them to be able to bless others and their future spouses by being able to do many things.   I made sure my oldest girls could run a complete household by the time they are 13.  This includes simple meal preparation, house cleaning, and laundry.  This came in so handy when my youngest 3 had to all be born by C-section due to breech presentations.  I could stay at the hospital and rest knowing my house was well taken care of it between my loving husband and oldest daughters.  When my boys were small, I began the same routine with them.  With a larger family and much more responsibility, I haven't met the 13 year old guide as quick with them.  But we are very close.  It does help, my children are older now and there are more ways to spread the work load.  Plus, my husband has things he wants the boys to learn as well, so it just takes more time.  But, the goal is still there.  I want my boys to be able to bless their future wives by being able to help out when she is sick or worn or just had a baby as well as provide.  That is my vision for my boys.



Start them while they are very young.  Teach them how to be happy while doing their work.  If you approach a job with a grumpy spirit, so will they.  Have some child size equipment on hand so they can help.  Little brooms and dust pans, kid sized work gloves and aprons, little buckets, sponges, dusting cloths, stools or stepladders for reaching, spray bottles they can hold themselves filled with non-toxic cleaners go a long way to getting the job done.  Put on some music.  We find when we are grooving, the job is so much more fun.  Expect mistakes.  Get messy (a little Ms. Frizzle here).  They will learn as they grow.  But teach nonethless.  A child can do more than pick up toys and keep their room tidy.  Way more!  As they get older, add to it slowly but surely till they can do most everything around the house from kitchen work to laundry to vacuuming and mopping.  My youngest boy is 7 and he does his entire laundry routine from start to finish, folding included (though he still is in training on the folding part).  As they get older, set expectations high.  They can handle it and is a great jumpstart for real life.  We, as adults, cannot go through life halfway.  Don't allow it from your older kids either.  If you are looking for some ways to get started, here are a couple of links for age appropriate chores.  They are a great to give you ideas to get your children moving.  You can always tweak it to fit your family.  

Focus on the Family - no printable but a good read
The Mob Society - focuses just on boys
The Flanders Family - this does have a free printable that is very good and a super springboard



The kitchen is no exception.  Start small.   We don't currently have a dishwasher, but a child at a young age, can empty the dishwasher.   When mine were small, I used mostly plastic so I didn't have to worry about breakage.  Its a season.  I had nicer stuff I would pull out for dinner and nicer occasions, but a plastic season is handy when your kids are tiny and need to learn to help.  If you don't have a dishwasher, start them out with handwashing by doing simple things like cereal bowls, sandwich plates, or plastic cups.  Teach them how to properly wash and get things clean.  You can gradually grow your routine as they get older.  My big boys can handle a decent quantity of dishes now (which is good since they help contribute to the large load).  

Expect them to help set and clear the table, put away food and condiments, refill water jugs (if you have them).  Teach them to sweep and mop.  My opinion is you helped make the mess, you can help clean it up.  Again, I want them to be a blessing to others some day.  They can easily learn these things.  They are not just a girl job.   Our current system is to have the boys do all the kitchen work one day and the girls the next.  It has been a great system and gets all involved.


I rise up and praise my husband for teaching the kids at a young age on Sundays how to meal prep.  He would start with them just making toast.  Then, he expanded to add more.  I followed his lead.   I taught them foods that they enjoy the most.  If they love to eat it, they will love to fix it.   Here is a little list of starter foods that a boy (or girl) can learn to fix:

Cooking scrambled eggs
Making toast
Pancakes
Tacos
Pizza
Simple soups, like tomato or chicken noodle, even if its just a can or ramen
Sandwiches (yes, these are good to learn so they can do it just right)
Quesadillas
Nachos
Chopping carrotts, cucumbers, or apples
Warming frozen veggies
Chicken nuggets and french fries
Macs and cheese
Warming leftovers

Notice these are all very kid friendly and super simple to do.  And, if they learn all these, they can literally feed a family for an entire day if need be even while they are young.  I don't know if any of my boys will be one to love to cook, but if they do, I won't be the one to stand in their way.  My oldest son has taken a fascination for the grill, so the last two summers he has been learning the ways of the grill and is doing well.  I will continue to teach more as he goes along inside the house and will do the same for his brothers.

There is a time and place for everything and sometimes paper plates are a wonderful thing.  Don't be afraid to use them.  And, if they allow your boys a few more minutes of training in meal prep, then by all means use them.


I hope this post was a help and blessing to you.  I am asked how do I get all that I do done, and my main reason for that is I have a good team surrounding me.  Yes, it was a ton of work when they were small, and I never thought I would do half of what I do now back then, but when you start reaping the rewards of all your hard work, you realize it was worth every single exhausting minute.  And, I hope that one day, my boys (and girls) spouses will be able to reap the benefits of their early training.  

Here are couple of other goodies from around the 'net.  

Chore Charts - if you love Pinterest, here is an entire board full of various chore charts
Blessed Beyond a Doubt (I love these and she always has fun printable "money" with it)
Do your kids adore Lego?  How about some Lego reward money?  
Proverbial Homemaker - great bunch of kitchen printables to set up a notebook, with both boy and girl themes (these are not free but so worth it)

Have a blessed weekend.