Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Christmas Gifts and Winter Learning

Christmas gift giveaway: We’re giving away 2 books this week: Science Experiments (for ages 5 to 10) and Science Experiments (for ages 9 and up). To enter, see details at the end of this blog post.

In addition, we’re focusing on things we can all learn as the Winter season settles in. Regardless of our age, we can all learn things from Christmas, the holidays, and winter, in general.

Here is a list of learning ideas for Christmas and the coming winter months:

1. The Christmas Story, of course. (The biblical one, not the BB gun one.) Regardless of faith or personal beliefs, it’s helpful to have an understanding of what the biblical story of Christmas is all about. Even Linus telling Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about, in A Charlie Brown Christmas, is poignant, no matter our age or beliefs.

2. And since we mentioned it, we can learn empathy and understanding through watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. As in most of Charles Schulz’s creations, we see children forgetting to be kind and compassionate, being temporarily too self-centered and unseeing of the “bigger picture,” until the light suddenly dawns. Witnessing this transformation in Charlie Brown’s friends helps children realize that they, too, can view things differently and in a more positive and perceptive way.

3. And also, since we mentioned it, we can learn the importance of family, tradition, and nostalgia in watching The Christmas Story – yes, the BB-gun one. Who has not been disappointed on Christmas, by not finding that “special gift” under the tree, or having the “day spoiled” by a disaster, such as a ruined Christmas dinner? But then having parents who understand those feelings, who put things into perspective or create ways to overcome disappointments, making those Christmases some of the most memorable of childhood.

4. Moving on from Christmas stories and shows – of which there are many wonderful ones, too many to mention in this blog post, but some which I know are special to you and your family – we encourage you to take a look at your own Christmas stories and traditions, and all you can learn from them. Write down your traditions and special events in a journal, then pass them on to your children and grandchildren.

5. Hanging Christmas lights from a tangled ball of last-year’s interwoven wires is a lesson in patience and perseverance! Doing this year after year either reinforces those qualities of patience and perseverance, or leads to developing an innovative way of storing those twisted strands of light. Maybe your child will be the inventor who creates a better way of organizing and storing those strands for next year!

6. Then there’s the electrical aspect of actually getting the lights to glow. There’s burnt-out bulbs, blown fuses, running extension cords to outlets, setting timers, synchronizing the motion lights to music, and determining the number of lights and strands required for each display! Plus understanding volts and wattages, and the meaning of the UL certification label on the lights. Christmas lights can lead to a thorough study of Electricity and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

7. Speaking of Mathematics, there’s baking and more baking to be done! Cookies, candies, a Yule Log cake, and Gingerbread houses to make! Not only does this require mathematical measurements of ingredients, but also critical thinking skills for constructing the special goodies. Plus, creative thinking and logical thinking skills come into play, when certain ingredients aren’t on-hand and substitutions have to be made, or the final result isn’t exactly as planned and last-minute, inventive tweaks are needed. All are learning opportunities, while still having fun!

8. Speaking of fun and creativity, there’s the wrapping of the gifts. Give younger kids boxes and scrap paper, ribbons, and bows (or, as the Grinch said, “ribbons, tags, packages, boxes, or bags”). Let them practice wrapping the boxes or perhaps wrap special items they’d like to share with others. Older kids can wrap thoughtful, hand-made items they’ve made for others.

9. And speaking of hand-made items, crafts made by family members to give to loved ones are always heart-warming and appreciated. And, as the Grinch also said, as he watched the Whos down in Whoville, clasping hands and singing on Christmas morning: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” With hand-crafted gifts from the heart, Christmas doesn’t have to come from a store. Children can learn, first-hand, that it means a little bit more.

10. Before we move on from Christmas – and all the potential for learning it provides – remember to write “Thank You” notes to everyone after Christmas. This “lesson” includes Cursive Writing Practice, Creative Thinking, Creative Writing, Envelope Addressing, Stamp Affixing, perhaps Post Office Visits, and most importantly, emphasizes Thoughtfulness, Respectfulness, Expressions of Gratitude, and overall Good Etiquette. Thank-you cards can be handmade, too, or created from recycled Christmas cards.

11. Winter is here! It arrives between December 21 and December 22 every year, in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the Winter Solstice. It is the shortest day of the year. It is the time of year when the Earth’s axis is tilted the farthest away from the sun.

12. Take time to observe this – to really, really observe it. On December 21 or 22, look at how low the Sun seems to hang in the sky, closer to the horizon line, almost directly in your line of sight. Notice the shadows of your house, building, or trees, and notice how far away the shadows stretch in winter, compared to where the shadows fall in summer.

13. Days are short! Or at least the hours of daylight are shorter. Look at your local sunrise and sunset times, and compare them to summertime sunrise and sunset times. Here, our sunrise is at 8:03 a.m. and sunset is at 5:23 p.m. on December 22. But in the summer, on the longest day of the year, June 21, our sunrise is at 6:16 a.m. and sunset is at 9:16 p.m. How many daytime hours do YOU have on your shortest day of the year in December? Compare that to the daytime hours available on your longest day of the year in June.

14. Cold winter wonderlands! Could the length of the day be part of the reason why it’s colder in the winter (less direct sunshine when farthest from the equator) and why it’s hotter in the summer (more intense sunshine for longer periods of time when closer to the equator)? Track the temperatures in a Weather Log over the coming weeks and months, and determine why some days are colder than others.

15. Precipitation! What changes warm rains to winter snows? When watching the snow falling one winter day, my son said, “Snow is actually white rain!” Perceptive, to a point. Scientifically, snowflakes form when ice crystals stick together, because of the colder temperatures in the clouds. The crystal formations then become heavy enough to fall to the ground – even though they often appear to be floating like feathers!

16. Make Your Own Snowflakes! Here’s a couple different ways. Click here: https://www.marthastewart.com/269342/crystal-snowflake, or Click here: https://gosciencekids.com/salt-crystal-snowflakes.

17. Make a Snow Globe, as simple or as elaborate as you’d like! Here’s a couple ideas: Click here: https://www.marthastewart.com/276346/how-to-make-a-snow-globe, or Click here: https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/home-lifestyle/crafts-diy/g41900770/diy-snow-globes.

18. Animals in the snow! After your first, nice snowfall, track animal prints in the snow. See how many different ones you can find. The first ones you see will probably be delicate indentations from birds’ feet on top of the snow. Then the paw prints of cats or dogs. And tracks from squirrels, rabbits, and deer. Follow their paths to see what areas they visited, and try to determine what drew them to those areas. To identify the prints, do a search online for “animal tracks in the snow.”

19. Animals under the snow! When walking on top of the snow, it’s strange to think of animals living underneath it. But chipmunks, groundhogs, mice, voles, and lizards live under the snow or in tunnels in the ground, where it’s surprisingly warmer. Frogs, fish, and turtles may stay on the bottom of ponds, where they burrow into the mud. Learn more about animal behavior and their winter homes, online or in library books.

20. Animals away from the snow! Many animals – like human “snowbirds” – migrate south or to warmer climates for the winter. You might miss your hummingbirds during the winter, but they are living it up in the southern United States, Mexico, or Central America. Do an image search for bird or hummingbird migration paths to see charts of where your favorite backyard birds might be living during the winter. Keep track of when they return in the spring, then when they depart again next winter. Keep this information in your Nature Journal, where you can refer to it again and again. Remember to feed the birds that do stick around your home for the winter!

The above activities can be interesting and educational for all ages over the winter. Plus, following where the activities lead is always entertaining, as well. Allowing children time and freedom to explore these topics can open their eyes to so much in our world that is amazing, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring – a feeling that can last a lifetime.

And, now, to enter the Christmas gift giveaway, just send an email to us at: EVHomeschooling@gmail.com. We’ll draw 2 winners in the coming week. One book for younger kids (ages 5 to 10) entitled 100+ Awesome Science Experiments for Kids. And one book for older kids (ages 9 and up) entitled 101 Great Science Experiments for Kids.

Happy Homeschooling and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Importance of History, Geography, and Social Studies

A Place in Your World

To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve been. Children need a sense of their place in the world, starting with their place in the family, their home in the neighborhood, their community’s businesses and stores, the boundaries of their town and their state, and where the neighboring towns, cities, states, and countries lie.

Children will be interested in knowing who started their town and why. Who were the earliest pioneers in their state, and when did their state establish its statehood? Who were the statesmen who worked hard to create the great state that children know as their home state? Who helped establish the United States of America, and where did America’s forefathers come from? Why did the earliest explorers to America leave their countries to travel to a land that was foreign to them? What was life like in the countries that those explorers left? How did life change for them?

As you can see, geography, history, and different cultures and lifestyles all revolve around one another. And they all help to establish a child’s place in this world.

Start with the simplest maps of your child’s neighborhood and broaden into state maps, world maps, and globes to help your child see where he is in this world. You can use storytelling as a way to describe not only his history and his family’s history, but also the history of his town, state, country, and world.

Mapmaking Fun

Children can draw maps, as large as they want, of their backyard, play areas, or the parks they visit. They can label the different spaces and use symbols for trees and paths, playground equipment, picnic tables, buildings, and playhouses. Then mark the routes they often follow, such as the path between the house and play areas, or the trek between the playground and parking lot at your local park.

Broaden their mapmaking skills as your children’s sense of community grows. Have them draw a map of your neighborhood or town, showing your house, the park, the nearby grocery store, gasoline station, the bank, post office, hospital, library, churches, schools, fire and police stations, and other pertinent locations.

Encourage children to decorate and label the maps in creative and colorful ways, then display them on a bulletin board. As they learn about new or different areas in their towns, have them add those locations to their maps.

Use nicely illustrated books about your state to help children learn all it has to offer. Create a basic map of your state and have children mark their town or community on the map. Next, have them locate and label the city that is nearest to their home. Then locate and label the capital of your state.

Now, using interesting books on your state, allow children to select points of interest or places they would like to visit someday, such as a state park, a cave, lake, waterfall, ocean, amusement park, ski resort, raceway, zoo, aquarium, museum, pioneer village, covered bridge, tower, or skyscraper. Have children locate and label those places on your state map. Visit those areas of interest as time and circumstances allow.

When children explore the places they have learned about, their world becomes much more real to them. Do the same with maps of the United States and the world. Although you may not be able to visit all the areas you would like, beautiful travel videos or DVDs can bring distant places right into your home!

Living History

History need not be dull or boring. History was, and is, made by living people, real people, people of the past, and people we may know today. Choose a famous person from the past and be that person. Research him or her; learn what that person was like, what he wore or how she spoke, where the person lived, what life was like when that person was alive, and how the culture or lifestyles differed from others.

Then create that person’s style of clothing from paper or cloth. For instance, if it’s Abraham Lincoln you’re emulating, replicate his stovepipe hat, black jacket, pants, and famous beard. If it’s Sacagawea, make a duplicate of her costume and papoose. Find pictures of famous people by using the Google Images search engine or checking illustrated library books. Then BE that person for a day or a week. Walk in their shoes - or moccasins - for a while!

Historical Biographies

What are some good biographies to read on historical figures? The Who Was Biographies, DK Biographies, and Sterling Biographies cover a wide range of historical figures, such as Davy Crockett, Joan of Arc, Frederick Douglass, Marie Curie, Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Steve Jobs, and more. Use biographies to learn more about each era’s events and lifestyles.

Crafting History

Bring out the craft box, construction paper, craft sticks, glue, markers, pipe cleaners, and begin crafting history. Help children construct medieval castles, Viking boats, the Mayflower, teepees and longhouses, western frontier buildings and wagons, or the White House.

Use illustrated library books on castles, boats, the Wild West, or the White House as guides for replicating the objects and for learning more about each creation.

Make pipe-cleaner people to inhabit the places your children create, then let the stories from long ago unfold. Hands-on activities always serve to raise a child’s level of awareness and help to embed the learning experiences in his mind for years to come. Whenever possible, incorporate hands-on activities into your daily lessons to help bring history alive for your children!

Happy homeschooling!

Friday, November 4, 2022

Fun Language Arts Activities

When learning is fun, children will naturally learn more. But even better, they will remember and retain more of what they learn. Here you’ll see how to thread fun through Language Arts. More subjects, topics, and activities will be added in the next few days.

Language Arts Activities

Language arts encompasses English, reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, composition, literature, drama, and poetry, listening and speaking, and related written or oral activities. Ideas and activities follow.

Reading Activities:

Reading need not be dull! Famous or popular movies are made from books and stories! If your children are not especially interested in reading, try reading movie scripts together, such as Disney movie scripts or family movie scripts featured on www.SimplyScripts.com. Use the scripts to act out the movie, and compare scripts to the book version of the story. Try writing your own scripts, too!

Turn your library visits into story scavenger hunts! Have children find books that will take them to another land, another planet, or an imaginary world. See if they can locate books by particular authors or stories that focus on a particular time period.

Make it fun! If your children are having no luck finding such books, see if you can help. Pull out a few selections from the shelves and point out the colorful pictures or delightful illustrations. Then wonder aloud what might be occurring in the story. Begin reading a few of the pages aloud, and soon their interest will be piqued.

Book suggestions and Reading Lists are available at www.KidsReadingCircle.com and https://www.rd.com/list/the-best-childrens-books-ever-written. The RD (Reader’s Digest) site lists “100 Best Children’s Books of All Time.”

Breathe life into the stories you read together. In addition to discussing the characters and events in the stories, create your own plays or dramatic performances based upon the stories. Or simply take turns reading the lines of the different characters in the voices that seem to reflect their personalities. This often results in fits of giggles and reading fun!

Read to them, share written stories with them, read newspapers aloud, and read information aloud, even if it’s the cereal boxes at breakfast or a sign in the dentist’s waiting room. The key to encouraging children to read is to read, read, read!

Parts of Speech:

Use illustrated books or even comic books to help children become more familiar with nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. After reading the stories, pick out the different parts of speech together. When done on a regular basis with stories children enjoy, you’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll learn the different parts of speech and how long they’ll retain this knowledge.

Here’s a fun activity many children enjoy. They can assign colors to the different parts of speech. Then, with colored construction paper at their fingertips, they can jot down the nouns they find in a story on red construction paper, for instance. They cut up those nouns on red paper and drop them into a jar or box. Then they jot down the verbs from the story on blue construction paper, cut up the verbs, and drop them into the jar or box. They can continue with yellow adjectives, green adverbs, etc., cutting up the words and dropping them into the container.

Later, they can shake up the container and select a red noun, blue verb, yellow adjective, green adverb, and create their own fun or silly sentences. Over time, as they continue to add colorful words to the container, they’ll have quite a collection of nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, all color coded and clicking in their mind. And they’ll become much better at spotting the different parts of speech in sentences as they read.

Writing Activities:

Brainstorm new story prompts or creative writing ideas together each day. For instance: What if time ran backward? What if you could read everyone else’s thoughts? What if you had webbed feet and a beak? Describe what your day would be like, or write a story based on your "What if" ideas. Keep a daily writing journal full of your creative thoughts and stories.

As a family, think about a story you’d like to write. Decide on the characters, setting, plot, and storyline. Then have each family member write his or her own version of the story. Read your stories aloud and see how similar or different the stories are.

In today’s digital world of texting, instant messaging, and e-mail, letter- writing is still an important skill. Children can hone those skills by writing letters on a regular basis to friends and families. Remind them to write thank-you notes for gifts or favors, as well. They can also write letters and thank-you notes to famous folks. What might they write to Dr. Seuss? What would they thank him for? What would they write to Pocahontas, or to Lewis and Clark, or to Mark Twain? They can write letters to other favorite authors, actors or actresses, or local heroes.

Spelling and Vocabulary Fun:

Use Scrabble game tiles, magnetic letters, or other types of letter tiles for spelling practice. See who can spell the words the quickest. See who can create the silliest word. Spell out words on each other’s backs with your fingers, and see who is the most ticklish as kids practice their spelling skills!

Spelling lists are available for Kindergarten through Grade 9 at www.HomeSpellingWords.com. For online spelling and vocabulary, browse spelling and word games at www.FunBrain.com/Games/Spellaroo.

More subject areas, topics, and activities are coming in the next few days, so check back soon!

Remember to sign up for our Weekly Newsletter in the Subscribe box on the right!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Weekly Lessons for All Grade Levels

Here are some Lesson Plan Ideas for this week, including Nature Journaling and Math in Nature.

Language Arts

- Why Nature Journaling works: "The long-time industrialized approach, the so-called factory model of schooling, has failed many.... Nature journaling, by helping learners become observant or immersed in, and reflective on, the world around them, sets the stage for lifelong self-learning from primary sources.... It incorporates sciences, local social and natural history, math, language, art, and physical education into one, integrated practice." (Clare Walker Leslie, from Keeping a Nature Journal).

- Read about the learning workshops based on Keeping a Nature Journal by author Clare Walker Leslie.

- See examples of Nature Journaling from the book entitled My Nature Journal: A Personal Nature Guide for Young People.

- Create a unique, artistically inspired Nature Journal of your own.

- Books on Nature Journaling: My Nature Journal: A Personal Nature Guide for Young People by Adrienne Olmstead. Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Leslie and Charles Roth. Nature Log Kids: A Kid's Journal to Record Their Nature Experiences by Deanna Brandt.

- As you write about and sketch scenes from Nature, immerse yourselves in Nature activities, such as rock collecting, leaf collages, nature scavenger hunts, inspecting animal tracks, insects, plants, and pond life. After sketching and investigating, notice how children begin seeing their world differently and more clearly.

- Journal writing activities: Have children regularly compose poems or songs based on some of their Nature sketches. Have them create imaginative stories revolving around topics inspired by their Nature Journals, such as a bird's travels, a rabbit's adventures, a tree's history, a flower's hopes, a seed's beginnings and future, a stream's journey, etc.

Social Studies

- View the beautifully illustrated Nature Journal of Aleta Karstad. Discuss the ways that sketches and writings from Nature can document the history and ongoing changes of a place.

- See how to make and keep a Nature Journal, according to John Muir, the inspiration for and first president of the Sierra Club. Read "What Is a Nature Journal" then "Make Your Own Journal."

- Learn more about John Muir, read his biography, and read quotes by John Muir at the Sierra Club site (https://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/bio/default.aspx).

- Use your Nature Journal to document the history of places near you. Sketch the way they appear today and date your sketches. Sketch the same scenes a month from now, and three months from now, remembering to date the sketches each time. Discuss the changes and how the areas might have looked 100 years ago, and 100 years from now.

- Take field trips to places of interest nearby, bringing along your Nature Journal. Sketch new buildings or stores that now stand where fields or woods once stood. Research the history of those areas. Find previous photos of those locations and sketch how the area once looked. How have the changes affected your community? What are the positive and the negative effects of the changes?

- Determine if any upcoming changes, developments, or new construction are being planned for your community. Sketch those areas as they appear today, before the changes or construction occur. Sketch the locations periodically, as the changes progress. You will have a graphic and descriptive history of those areas, which you can share with others in the future.

- If you sketch and document changes within your community, consider donating your Nature Journal to your local library or as an exhibit for special events at your local museum.

Math

- Research Math in Nature. Learn about Fibonacci numbers in Nature, patterns in Nature, and spirals in Nature.

- Fibonacci numbers can also be seen in flower petals and seed heads. Find flowers or seed heads in nature and sketch them. Or sketch those that you find on the Internet. Label and date your sketches in your Nature Journal.

- Learn more about Fibonacci numbers in flowers, shells, trees, leaf arrangements, pinecones, pineapples, and more.

- Find pinecones or view pinecones on the Internet. Then sketch your pinecones, noting the spirals in the cone.

- Make bird feeders from your pinecones for your backyard friends, too.

Science

- Create a "Backyard Wildlife Scrapbook" of your own Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

- Investigate the animals and plants, make your own "animal cards" or "plant cards", construct dioramas or poster displays of their habitats and ecosystems, and write reports or label your projects with descriptive paragraphs.

- Get more Nature Journal ideas from the Smithsonian's richly illustrated "Introduction to the Nature Journal".

- Create Journal pages for recording nature observations and drawing sketches of what you see each day.

- Remember to encourage your children's enthusiasm, ideas, and activities, and run with them! Allow them to lead you in new and varied directions, for fun, well-rounded learning your children will remember for a lifetime!

Life Skills

- The process of sketching and drawing helps children to learn how to focus in the "here-and-now." The end results of their artwork help children see how "effort correlates to results."

- Accomplishments and improvements in drawing capabilities show children how "practice makes perfect". They will see, and better understand, that building skills does require time and effort. But they'll also see that the process is fun and inspirational, making skill-building all the more enjoyable and worthwhile.

- Sketch "everyday life" scenarios, such as mom doing yard work, dad cooking, siblings doing daily chores, the family playing games together, family members caring for or playing with pets, the mail carrier delivering mail, the neighbor taking out the trash, etc.

- Read "Getting Back to Nature with Your Kids" (https://www.livingmags.info/features/back-to-nature) and "Nature and Kids" (https://www.ahaparenting.com/read/nature). Then discuss ways to enjoy the outdoors, while staying safe and healthy at the same time.

- Brainstorm all the fun outdoor activities you could take part in and make a list of them.

Arts and Music

- Create a unique Nature Journal and always keep it handy.

- Try illustrations from Aleta Karstad's journal.

- Listen to your favorite music while sketching, drawing, or painting. See if the music helps to inspire your drawings, or does it hinder your inspiration? What types of music are most enjoyable to listen to while you're drawing?

- Try drawing birds and learn about John James Audubon.

Check back often for more lesson plan ideas to come!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Learn Something New Every Day!

Learn something new – every day - with a book!

Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida hard at the end of September. For the first 2 weeks of October, thousands of families were without electricity, drinkable water, and many without a roof over their heads. Several schools were damaged, as well, and school was postponed for two or more weeks.

In addition to all the worries parents experienced during and after the hurricane, many also worried about their children falling behind.

Without power in their homes, they had no Internet access, and children couldn’t even connect virtually to schools, courses, or teachers.

Without water in their homes, kitchen science or hands-on experiments weren’t easily doable, nor were many crafts kids might normally do.

Simply surviving each day, and performing basic everyday tasks – without water or electricity – understandably consumed much of the family’s time, energy, and emotional and mental capacity. Caring for families, pets, neighbors, and devastated communities, without basic amenities we are all accustomed to, has been a daily challenge for them.

Several families turned to libraries and books as a way to keep their children learning during that time. For a while, libraries were closed, roads were closed, and gasoline was in short supply, so even trips to the library weren’t always a possibility.

That’s when many families gave their “home libraries” a closer look, finding books they had forgotten about or revisiting favorite books from an “educational perspective.”

Imagine what could be learned from reading and discussing the morals or lessons conveyed in books such as the following.

Then, going further and encouraging children to draw or color favorite scenes from the books, to write or deliver short book reports, and to create or compose their own stories, perhaps imagined or inspired from reading favorite books such as these:

* The Little Engine That Could
* The Ugly Duckling
* The Runaway Bunny
* Velveteen Rabbit
* Where the Wild Things Are
* The Giving Tree
* Town Mouse and Country Mouse
* Grimm’s Fairy Tales
* Aesop’s Fables
* Magic Treehouse
* The Incredible Journey
* Black Beauty
* Sounder
* Little House in the Big Woods
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
* Treasure Island
* Hatchet
* My Side of the Mountain
* Robinson Crusoe
* Swiss Family Robinson
* Wrinkle in Time
* Phantom Tollbooth
* Diary of Anne Frank
* To Kill a Mockingbird


These are just a few of the books that might be on the shelves of your home library. And they are full of wisdom, insight, and learning for any age.

Books can provide not only an escape from daily challenges during a hurricane - or any other time - but also offer reading enjoyment as they provide glimpses into another time or place.

Books such as these can touch on historic events, social events, survival strategies, and ways that children and families can overcome challenging circumstances or worries, no matter how big or small.

When you might grow concerned that your children are “falling behind” or “not learning enough,” just reach for a book. Something new is learned every time a book is opened!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Fall Learning Fun with Activities, Experiments, Crafts, Worksheets!

Fall Learning Activities:

Learn about the Reason for Seasons, Why Leaves Change Colors, and try the experiments on Leaf Colors and more, at these links. Then print some Fall Printables (below) to document your fall activities, too.

Remember to Subscribe (at right) to receive weekly lessons and activities!

1. The Reason for Seasons

2. Changes in Leaf Color

3. Leaf Color Experiment

4. Fall Activities

5. Fall Science Experiments

6. More Fall Science Activities


Fall Printables:

Document Fall Learning by printing some of these activity pages and worksheets.

1. Fall & Autumn Worksheets

2. Fall Crafts and Printouts

3. Printable Pages & Coloring Activities

4. Fall & Autumn Worksheets

5. More Fall Worksheets

Subscribe (at right) to receive weekly lessons and activities via email!

Happy homeschooling!


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

50+ Learning Activities for This Last Week of Summer


Summer is coming to a close. Autumn officially begins on September 22 this year. That means we have about 7 days of summer left, and we should all enjoy it to the fullest. Get outside, soak up the last of the Summer Sun, and savor it. Make this last week of summer fun, special, memorable, and educational!


Take the “Classroom” outside! As soon as the morning chores are done, head outside. Pack sack lunches, lunch boxes, a thermos, bottles of water, and snacks. Bring along backpacks, phones, cameras, binoculars, step counters or fitness trackers, books, field guides, notebooks, paper, pencils, pens.

Use your backyard, local parks, nature trails, or any green space for your “classroom” this week. Free your mind from daily worries and embrace the present moments spent outside with your children. Be open to whatever crosses your path as you observe and absorb your surroundings together. Try to visit different areas each day.

Flexibility is key this week – yet learning will occur! If your children are following a specific homeschool program and need to stay on-track, take the lessons with you. Allow them to complete lessons outside. Then engage with nature and let children spread their wings and explore.

As they explore the outdoors, what do they see? What can they do in this space? How do they feel here? What more would they like to do or see? Where else would they like to go? Encourage them to write or sketch these observations and feelings – Language Arts has now begun!

7 Days of Learning, 50 Activities

For 7 days of learning and 50+ activities, try these activities outdoors. You can do one activity per day, or all the activities each day, or variations of the activities every day, all year, rain or shine! And learning will naturally occur, each and every day.

1. Language Arts:
• Go on “Story Walks” along nature trails, in local parks, or in library gardens.
• Create your own “Story Walk” in your backyard or neighborhood green space.
• Read favorite books while swinging or relaxing in the branches of a tree.
• Sketch the scenes and vistas surrounding you, then describe why they're special to you.
• Read signs and plaques describing local areas of interest.
• Discuss things you had never noticed or experienced, and why they’re interesting.
• Write stories or essays about the places you visit and the things you see this week.

2. Social Studies:
• Create a map of your community parks, neighborhood green spaces, nature trails.
• Each day, draw the route you take, using different colors to indicate different days and areas visited.
• Describe landmarks encountered, such as gates or sign posts, trailheads or information displays, boulders or stone formations, waterfalls or creeks, bridges or boardwalks, monuments or memorials, etc.
• Learn the difference between “natural landmarks” and “cultural landmarks.”
• Research these landmark terms: geological landmarks, biological landmarks, architecture landmarks, archaeological landmarks, and see how they differ.
• Discuss how your local landmarks relate to the history of your town or community.
• Photograph, draw, or sketch these landmarks, and write about their history and importance to your area.

3. Science:
• Use field guides and binoculars to identify plants; wildflowers; trees; birds; insects; animals; urban wildlife; rivers, streams, or pond life; ocean, beach, or shoreline life, etc.
• Learn which birds, butterflies, or wildflowers are most common in your backyard or local parks.
• Plant flowers that attract birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees to your own backyard.
• Build bird feeders, birdhouses, butterfly houses, bat houses, or natural habitats that will draw beneficial animals to your location.
• Plan dozens of outdoor activities by using books such as Outdoor Science Experiments; Backyard Science and Discovery; Nature Smarts; Outdoor Science Projects; and Exploring Nature.
• Observe the sky and clouds overhead. What type of cloud formations do you see? What type of weather might they bring? How has the location of the sun changed since you left your house this morning? Draw or describe these in your Science Journal.
• Write about your favorite places in your Science Journal or notebook, describing why those areas felt special to you, and add photos or drawings of them, too.

4. Math:
• Consult step counters, pedometers, or fitness trackers to tally up total steps and distance of nature walks each day.
• Determine the time spent on each walk, and if using a fitness tracker, determine the number of calories burned per time and distance.
• For comparisons, run around a track or trail, and compare that to walking the same track or trail, in terms of steps, time, distance, and calories burned.
• Create a chart in your Math Journal or notebook, illustrating the daily steps, distance, time, and calories burned.
• Using the map from Social Studies, calculate the distance or miles between your house and the park, nature trail, creek, local store, downtown square, etc.
• Using the construction ideas from Science, calculate the size, dimensions, openings, slats, etc. for birdhouses, feeders, bat houses, and other outdoor science projects.
• Formulate and draw blueprints or plans for constructing these projects, based upon your calculations, then take photos of the completed projects.

5. Life Skills:
• Use decision-making skills on where to walk or explore the outdoors each day, deciding what items to take along, what the weather will be like, and what to wear each day.
• Use critical-thinking skills on how to reach the places you want to go, the best routes to take, the most-interesting paths or trails to follow, the many things you can learn.
• Observe and note everything around you – the good and the not-so-good – and discuss why it's important to observe your surroundings.
• Obey safety rules and “rules of the road” – watching traffic, even on nature trails, exercising caution at crosswalks, and paying attention to traffic signals.
• Be respectful of other walkers, hikers, bicyclists, horse trail riders, and others who are outside to enjoy a day in nature.
• Be careful and aware of the inhabitants of nature, from insects and snakes, to bears and wolves, to alligators and sharks – it’s their home, too, so maintain safe distances.
• Clean up after picnics and science projects, and leave no trace behind – in other words: “Take only memories, leave only footprints.”

6. Art:
• Draw detailed maps of trails or places visited each day.
• Paint or draw colorful sketches of butterflies on flowers, birds in trees, fish in ponds, waves along the shoreline.
• Try urban sketches of landscapers working in the park, tables and umbrellas in an outdoor cafĂ©, shopkeepers opening their doors, delivery trucks outside a storefront.
• Sketch a strolling musician, a plein air art event in the park, artwork in an art gallery, iron or concrete sculptures in the park.
• Learn about famous and not-so-famous artists, painters, sculptors in your town and the artwork they created.
• Try copying one of the artist’s artwork or creations, then try it again, in your own style.
• Take photos of all the artistic views you see on your walks, or outdoors in your own backyard, then sketch, paint, or create them from your photos.

7. Music:
• Listen – intently – to Nature’s Music: the birds singing to each other, the wind in the trees, crickets chirping in tall grasses, dry leaves rustling along the sidewalk, gravel crunching beneath your feet, the creek gurgling over rocks, waves crashing against the shoreline.
• Replicate these sounds of Nature’s Music the best you can, singing like the birds, whooshing like the wind, chirping like the crickets, gurgling like the creek.
• Create your own songs about nature, composing the lyrics and melody to express your feelings about being outside.
• Dance to the music from a concert in the park.
• Learn about the local musicians in your area and try to see their performances.
• Visit music stores and look at new music or instruments you’d like to learn to play.
• Perform a musical or create a play based upon your experiences in nature this week.

Remember to explore nature often, and enjoy the great outdoors, rain or shine, summer or winter, spring or fall – and enjoy it all!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Free Books to Read + Benefits of Reading

Here are 7 important benefits of reading, followed by 12 websites that provide free books for your children to read online.

1. Reading a book or story for 20 to 30 minutes per day is considered “brain food” for your children!

2. Reading stimulates and exercises various areas of the brain, and it enhances language skills and vocabulary skills every day.

3. Reading makes connections in the brain, building upon current knowledge and leading to additional knowledge and comprehension each time a new book is read.

4. Reading fires up the imagination and creativity, opening your child’s mind to greater possibilities, ideas, and inspiration.

5. Reading increases attention spans and concentration, helping children to focus better, stay in the moment, and stay on-task.

6. Reading improves test scores and skills in all subjects areas, including math, science, technology, social studies, art, music, as well as reading, writing, and language arts.

7. Reading is pure joy, taking us anywhere we want to go! Read together as a family, and encourage children to read on their own, to help establish a wonderful reading habit that will provide entertainment and education for a lifetime.

Free Books to Read!

Here’s a variety of Children’s Books for free. Read, discuss, dramatize, draw, explore, experiment - you’ll be learning every day! And you can start right now!

1. Storyline Online: Stories Read to Children

2. Free Children’s Stories: Free Children’s Stories

3. Magic Keys Books: Magic Keys Books

4. Story Jumper: Story Jumper

5. Story Berries: Story Berries

6. Free Kid’s Books: Free Kid’s Books

7. Shakespeare's Plays: Shakespeare Plays

8. Project Gutenberg Children’s Books: Project Gutenberg Books

9. Open Library: Open Library

10. Funbrain Reading: Funbrain Books

11. Epic Books: Epic Books

12. Reading Resources: Reading Resources

Local Libraries: Of course, your local library is one of the greatest free resources for reading! Besides stories and reading for pleasure, here's a few ideas for books on specific topics:

Book Suggestions on Specific Topics:

1. Spectacular Stories for Curious Kids (history)

2. World's Wildest Places and the People Protecting Them (social studies)

3. Super Cool Science Experiments for Kids (science)

4. Math Riddles for Smart Kids (math)

5. Ultimate Book of the Future (technology)

6. Organic Artist for Kids (art and nature)

7. Make Music: Creating, Playing, Composing (music)

Note: Keep a Reading Log, tracking the books and stories children have read. Include the title of the book, the author, and the date read. Have children describe why they liked the story, and have them sketch the cover or illustrations from the book. Tally up the number of books read daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. You'll be amazed at the results!

Happy homeschooling!

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Unschooling Activities, Curiosity, and Learning!

Children are born with natural curiosity. When their curiosity is suppressed, their learning is diminished. When their curiosity is encouraged with nurturing guidance, their learning accelerates. Unschooling focuses on interest-driven activities sparked by curiosity. Your guidance can help enhance your child’s curiosity, creativeness, and education.

Here are some unschooling activities that have been suggested by our readers. These are just a few of the many possibilities. Each can radiate out into further learning and even more activities. Below this list is additional information on why and how unschooling works so well.

Remember: Playing is learning! These activities and ideas can evolve into a world of learning!

Unschooling Activities Suggested by Readers:

• Daily explorations and play
• Hands-on activities
• Science experiments
• Invention projects
• Construction projects
• Composing or playing music
• Arts and crafts
• Drawing and painting
• Sculpting, clay, and pottery
• Puzzles and sorting games
• Pretend play
• Forts and teepees
• Scrapbooking
• Journaling
• Creative writing
• Writing books and stories
• Reading and researching
• Library trips
• New books or authors to read
• Drama, acting, and performing
• Dancing and singing
• Making videos and animations
• Board games
• Outdoor or backyard games
• Family games
• Nature walks
• Relay races
• Scavenger hunts
• Math manipulatives
• Cooking and baking
• Gardening
• Decorating
• Home projects
• Sports activities
• Recreational activities
• Family activities
• Camping and hiking
• Weekend trips or getaways
• Swimming and skating
• Surfing and skiing
• Gymnastics or wall-climbing
• Picnics and socials
• Field trips
• Museum and zoo visits
• Local tours
• Community courses
• Family discussions
• Family newsletters
• Family businesses
• Apprenticeships
• Internships
• Volunteering
• Life skills
• Interest-driven learning pursuits
• Independent learning activities
• Natural living and learning every day

Curiosity increases activity in specific areas of the brain, helping people to absorb and retain information longer. When you are interested and curious about a topic, your brain becomes more inclined to learn about it. Children who are allowed to ask questions, and to remain curious about the world around them, remain eager to learn.

Children are naturally curious about everything, and because curiosity helps them to learn, it’s a trait that should never be discouraged. Asking “Why?” is an innate part of the way children learn. They should always be encouraged to ask why, and to be encouraged to find answers to “Why?”

Unschooling is one of the most natural ways for children to seek the answers to their “Why” questions, and one of the most natural ways for children to acquire knowledge. You’ll want to keep their curiosity alive and encourage them to follow their interests as they learn about the world around them.

Children gain a huge amount of knowledge and skills between birth and age five, without formal schooling. They learn by experimenting, doing, trying and failing, then trying again. Rarely are they deterred, and rarely do they give up. Young children love to experiment. They enjoy trying things their own way, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll try another way. Just as curiosity is an in-born trait in children, so is the desire to learn new things.

Trying the Unschooling Method

If you’re not sure about the unschooling method, try unschooling during weekends, vacations, summertime, or any time! Watch them play, and you’ll see them learn. Encourage their curiosity, and guide them in finding answers and resources. Follow their interests, and you’ll learn right alongside them. You’ll certainly be amazed at how adept they are at learning through the myriad topics that interest them.

More Unschooling Activities

Children are eager to play, and, consequently, learn. Sometimes, though, they might feel that they’ve forgotten how to play, or can’t think of anything to do. Spend time brainstorming ideas together. Ask your children what they’d like to do if they had all the time in the world to do whatever they liked. Then explore those ideas together.

Revisit fun activities from the past, which they might’ve forgotten about, but which could interest them in new or different ways now.

Activities could include:

• Building simple models or 3D structures
• Performing plays based on books or movies
• Creating new types of board games to play
• Designing video games for handheld devices
• Learning to play new instruments and composing music
• Writing and creating comic books or cartoon strips
• Performing and making videos of scientific experiments
• Using LEGO sets or electronic kits to create new gadgets
• Cooking or baking new concoctions for the family

Every day provides multiple ideas for playing, unschooling, and learning. There’s no limit to what your children can do and achieve!

Happy homeschooling!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Hands-On Math Activities for Everyday Learning

Math opportunities surround your child every day. From telling time to food preparations, measurements, temperature variations, counting, adding, money matters, time requirements, sports scores, game strategies, construction toys, craft creations, algebra and building projects, distances and speeds, fractions and percents, fascinating Fibonacci numbers— your child can practice math in real life every day!

When children are engaged in real-life activities, they learn quicker and retain what they learned longer.

As Maria Montessori said, “What the hand does, the mind remembers.” This is especially true for comprehending math concepts.

Daily Math Fun and Learning

From shape-sorting games to determining the perimeter and area of each of the shapes, you can apply that exercise to nearly any object. Take that idea further by determining the perimeter and area of the room you’re in, as well as each room in your home. Go outside and determine the overall perimeter of your entire house or complex, then calculate total square footage. Which room is the largest in your home? Which room is the smallest? Why are the rooms and homes designed in the size and shape that they are?

In this way, a simple shape-sorting game has grown into real-life learning, making connections between basic shapes, living spaces, and home design. This is an important lesson: Take fun, simple games or daily lessons and make connections to the things that are real in life, the things that are a part of everyday life. This is when education and knowledge clicks, and learning makes sense and solidifies in a child’s mind.

With math opportunities all around us, it’s easy to practice mathematical skills each day. Simply discuss math concepts as you play together, do household chores together, cook and bake together. When you run errands or take daily walks together, determine distances traveled, the speed you’re traveling, and the time it takes to travel those distances. The more your children practice real-life math exercises, the better they’ll become.

Math Games

Board games and card games are great ways to develop and sharpen math skills, as well as reasoning and strategy skills. Bring out the board games each evening, on weekends, or anytime during the homeschool day! Play old favorites, such as Risk, Monopoly or Monopoly Junior, PayDay, or Chess. Try games such as Math Bingo, Math Lotto, Sum Swamp, Cloud Hoppers, Mountain Raiders, 24 Math Game, Pizza Fraction Fun, Adsumudi, Smath, Equate Math, and similar math games.

Play “store” and see what it’s like to open and run your own shop. Use play money or real money, “sell” retail items or consignment items, and keep a running inventory in your pretend store. Record expenses and sales in homemade ledger books, and determine the daily and weekly income—or income potential—of your shop.

Another fun business is the online game of Lemonade Stand. Kids will gain experience in nearly every aspect of a business: pricing, sales, inventory control, and handling the ups and downs of the economy over a period of several days. Make a pitcher of lemonade and head over to the computer and open your lemonade stand!

For math and reasoning games, visit the website FunBrain.com. There's Math Baseball, Cake Monster, MathCar Racing, Math Soccer, Measure It, Shape Surveyor, Guess the Number, Fresh Baked Fractions, and many more. Most of the games are available in Easy, Medium, Hard, and Super Hard levels for all age groups and skill levels.

Mastering Math Skills

Basic math, or arithmetic, includes counting, adding, subtracting, estimating, measuring, and calculating. As your children progress through the elementary years, additional mathematical skills will be introduced. When your child has grasped the basics, you’ll be able to help him build upon a solid mathematical foundation.

Math skills introduced in traditional schools move along so quickly, though, that if a child doesn’t catch them the first time around, they’ve often lost that window of opportunity. In your homeschool, however, if you see that your child is still struggling with basic subtraction, for instance, you won’t want to move ahead to more complex problems until he has mastered the basics. Fortunately, you have plenty of time for practicing basic concepts in your home. There’s no specific timeframe your child must stay within.

When your child has achieved true comprehension of subtraction, along with the ability to perform the calculations flawlessly, then he can move on to the next lessons. You will know without a doubt that he has truly mastered the skills he needs before moving ahead. With this solid foundation, he is ready for multiplication and division, fractions and decimals, estimation and measurement, problem solving, and more challenging mathematical equations.

Math Manipulatives

Using hands-on examples of math problems will help children better understand the abstract concepts that are introduced. You can use any objects for counting, adding, and subtracting, from buttons to beans to plastic animal counters. You can also use an abacus or counting frame with plastic beads.

Math manipulatives are available online or at retail or educational supply stores. However, you can often make your own. From poster board or construction paper, you can create coin-sized counters, pattern blocks, fraction circles, fraction slices, fraction bars, cardboard clocks, and mathematical charts. You can also make rulers, number lines, geometric boards, play money, and flashcards. And your children will enjoy the cutting and creative activities, too.

Everyday Math

Daily situations present excellent ways to put math skills to regular, logical use. In a normal day, your family can practice telling time as the minutes and hours go by. You and your children can estimate, then measure ingredients when cooking on a daily basis.

Practice money skills by regularly setting up "stores" in your home. Have children put prices on items gathered from the pantry or on toys or books gathered from their room. Make purchases, have children add up the total costs, pay with play or real money, and have children count out your correct change.

When grocery shopping, children can keep running tabs of the items you’re purchasing and see how close they come to the actual total. At the gasoline station, they can calculate the cost of your tank of gas. Then, based upon how many gallons of gasoline are in the tank and how many miles your car gets to a gallon, they can determine how far this tank of gas will go.

Every day offers mathematical problems that can be fun to solve, clearly showing children the importance of learning and applying math skills in real life.

Books and Activity Books such as Real World Math, Math Connections, Math Art, Math Wise, Real-Life Math Problem Solving, Real-World Math for Hands-On Fun, Hands-On Math Projects with Real-Life Applications provide interesting activities that help your child understand and relate key math skills to everyday life.

Remember to jot down activities and lessons in your lesson logbook or on our log sheets (available here: Weekly Planner Log link.)

Note: Some material published here include excerpts from my book, The Everything Guide to Homeschooling, by Sherri Linsenbach, available online or in libraries and bookstores.

Happy Homeschooling!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

500+ Science Experiments and Activities

Hundreds of Science Experiments and Activities will keep learning fun and educational this year!

With 500+ Activities, you’ll never be without a topic to teach over the coming year! And, of course, your children will be sharpening ALL their skills – reading, writing, reasoning, math, technology – while having fun with the experiments!

From Easy to More Challenging, the experiments noted here have clear, easy-to-follow instructions, illustrations, photos, and explanations.

Get Started Now!

400+ Experiments and Activities are illustrated at Scientific American, on topics such as Curling Metals, Airplane Launchers, Marble Roller Coasters, Wind-Powered Cars, Earthquake Structures, Blood Flow Models, Double Helix, Archimedes Screw, Building Bridges, Designing Cell Phone Stands, Art Science, Smartphone Science, Making Batteries, Making Rainbows, Making Robots, Making Rockets, and much more! There’s 20+ pages, each with 20 Science Experiments or Activities, for a total of 400+ Learning Activities! Click here:

Scientific American Experiments

100+ Experiments and Activities from Easy Science Experiments to STEM Activities and Rocket Science are offered at Science Fun. The experiments focus on popular topics often taught in school, such as Color, Light, Sound, Water, Electricity, Magnetism, Force and Motion, Weather and Air, Gravity, Density, Balloon Science, Chemical Reactions, Marine Life, Animals, Human Body, Dinosaurs, Fossils, Rocks, Geology, Crystals, Biology, Botany, Ecology, STEM and Engineering Activities, Rocket Science and Space Experiments. Click here:

Science Fun Experiments

40+ Science Experiments are shown here, with colorful instructions and explanations on the “why” behind the science concepts. See how to Create Clouds, Friction Racers, Anti-Gravity Chambers, Windmill Cams, Rainbow-Colored Xylophones, Popsicle Stick Harmonicas, Geysers, Rockets, and more! Click here:

Home Science Experiments

40+ More Science Experiments focusing on Life Science, Physical Science, and Planetary Science are available at Bill Nye the Science Guy’s site. Experiments include Temperature Time Warp, Bending Light, Marble Madness, Inertia, Barometer in a Bottle, Erosion Explosion, Twistin’ Tornado, and more. Click here:

Bill Nye Experiments

Log the Learning!

Note the Science Experiments, the Subject Areas, and the Concepts Learned through the experiments. Lessons learned and skills sharpened include Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Math Skills, Calculation Skills, Measurement Skills, Reasoning Skills, Critical Thinking Skills, Spatial Skills, Creative Thinking Skills, Reading, Writing, Journaling, Arts and Crafts, Geology, Geography, Social Science, and more. Jot down the lessons and activities in your lesson logbook or on our log sheets (available here: Weekly Planner Log link.)

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Weekly Homeschool Activities & Lessons: The World Around Me

Recent learning activities focused on your child asking: “Where in the World Am I?” and “Who in the World Am I?” (See previous posts from August 1 and August 4.)

This week, have your child think about: “The World Around Me.”

Learning opportunities abound when thinking about the many things that are around us: Air, Water, Grass, Trees, Flowers, Plants, Animals, Birds, Insects, Sky, Clouds, Rivers, Oceans, Mountains, People, and much, much more! Just one of these topics could result in learning and lessons for days, weeks, months, or years! And they're interesting to kids of all ages!

The Troposphere -- or world around us -- is the layer of the Atmosphere that includes these many things that surround us. Find our Troposphere in this colorful chart of our Atmosphere: Atmosphere to View. Read more about the Troposphere and other layers of the Atmosphere at that website, too.

Art Project: Draw and color your own chart of the atmosphere, similar to the one you saw above. Or use different colors of construction paper to create the different levels of the atmosphere. Determine where the Earth and the troposphere is. Then cut out and color shapes to indicate the Earth, mountains, trees, sky, sun, clouds, birds, airplanes, meteors, stars, spaceships, etc. Then glue them in their proper layers of the atmosphere. Discuss the ones that you see most often and the ones you see only occasionally. Why is that?

Fun Science Project: Create your own 3-Dimensional World. Use cardboard and boxes, construction paper, tissue paper, etc., to replicate the views you see around you. Glue “grass” onto the cardboard. Create houses, trees, and animals (from boxes and construction paper), flowers and plants (from colorful tissue paper), sidewalks and creek banks (from small rocks and twigs). Use your imagination to create your own 3-dimensional world!

Math Skills: Determine distances and heights: How tall are the trees around you? How tall is your house? How long is your sidewalk and how long is your street? How long is the river that flows through your town? How high are the clouds? How high do the airplanes fly? How far away is the sun and the moon? How far away are the stars? Write these down in a Science Journal. Make a Chart, showing the “shortest/closest” items, all the way up to the “tallest/farthest away” places.

More Math Skills: More on distances and heights: How far does our troposphere extend (about 10 miles)? How far is 10 miles? How far is 1 mile? How far is 5,280 feet (1 mile)? How far is 10 miles (52,800 feet)? How far is 1 foot or 3 feet? How long is the room you are in? How long is your sidewalk or driveway? Measure these with rulers, yardsticks, tape measures. Walk or bike 1 mile with your parents (5,280 feet). Ride 10 miles in a car with your parents (52,800 feet). Think of how all these distances relate in the world around you and above you. Write about these distances in your Science Journal or Make Charts illustrating these distances.

Field Trips and Photographs: Take field trips through your neighborhood, towns, and cities. Take photos of scenes in your world, such as fields, woods, rivers, mountains, parks, birds, squirrels, deer, horses, buildings, barns, bridges, benches, people walking, people biking, kites flying, planes flying, clouds drifting. Take field trips often, and take photos often, too. Put the photos in a scrapbook or journal. Describe this world around you, and how it changes from time to time, or from season to season.

Draw or Paint Pictures inspired by your field trips and photos. Display your artwork or keep your drawings and paintings in an Art box, folder, or portfolio. Draw or paint your world often. Always keep your art projects to look back on.

Read Books on Troposphere and Atmosphere, such as Stickmen's Guide to Earth's Atmosphere in Layers; Our Amazing Sky; Atmosphere: Earth Science; and The Layers of Earth’s Atmosphere. What more did you learn in these books?

Read Books on the World Around Us, such as Explore My World series; Exploring Nature Activity Book; Secret World of Plants; One Million Insects; Fascinating Animal Book; The Skies Above My Eyes; Sky Gazing: Guide to the Moon, Sun, Planet, Stars; and books on Around Town; Country Life; Farm Life; City Life. Discuss how these books relate to your world around you.

Music on Troposphere and Atmosphere: The Atmosphere Song by Math Dad. Have fun with this one!

Lessons learned and skills sharpened: Earth science, Life science, the World, Math Skills, Measurements, Calculating Distances, Social Studies, Communities, Reading, Writing, Journaling, Science Projects, Research Skills, Critical Thinking, Spatial Thinking, Creative Thinking, Arts and Crafts, Music, Field Trips, Photography, Scrapbooking, Painting, Drawing, and more. Jot down these lessons and activities in your lesson logbook or on our log sheets (available here: Weekly Planner Log link.)

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Homeschool Lessons, Learning Activities, Who I Am

An earlier, fun lesson focused on having your child ask: “Where in the world am I?” (See the previous post from August 1.)

Those Educational Activities covered Social Studies, Geography, Community, Map-Making, Math Skills, Reading, Writing, Researching, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Spatial Thinking, Reasoning Skills, Computer Skills, Arts and Crafts, Music, and more.

Now have your children ask: “Who in the world am I?” Remembering who we are and our place in the world is important for each of us, at any age!

Discuss Children's Sense of Self and who they are. Maybe they’re an only child, or one of many. What’s their place in the family: oldest child, youngest child, middle child, and how do they feel about that?

Family Tree activity: Create or draw a unique Family Tree or print one from a source such as: Family Trees to Print. Have kids list their brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, and even aunts, uncles, and cousins if they’d like.

Genealogy activity: To learn more about Family History, try creating a Family Record and Migration Maps, showing where one’s ancestors originated from or traveled from. Record details about ancestors in the Family Record or Create a Scrapbook showing your family’s history. For Family Records or Migration Maps, see these Genealogy Printables: Family Records to Print.

Family Interviews: Encourage your children to contact relatives and ask them questions about their experiences as kids, where they lived, how they lived, what they did as kids in the summer and winter, and how life has changed for them over the years. As parents, share details about your own youth, too.

Write this information in a Family History Notebook, or add the details in a Scrapbook or Family Record.

Do the Math: Use Math Skills to calculate each family member’s current age, based on their birth dates or birth year. Determine the year that a grandparent was 8 years old and riding a bike to the store. Or the year a great-grandparent moved across the country when he or she was 12 years old. Have your own children determine how old they were when they learned to ride a bike, or moved to a new location, or learned to play an instrument, or started a new hobby. Put this information in the Family History Records, too!

Hobbies: Children can think about their hobbies or special interests, and write about them in their notebook or journal. Which hobbies or activities have they enjoyed the most? Why? What new hobbies or activities would your children like to try next? Help them take the next steps to pursue their current interests.

Personality and Character: Why are hobbies and special interests important to us? It’s part of Who We Are. It’s part of our Character, our Personality, our Human Nature. Who Am I? I am someone who likes to ________ (fill in the blank!). Then go for it! Be true to your nature and follow your dreams!

Self-Description: Describe yourself, through writing, video, or audio recordings. Describe your Personality: your daily disposition, your happiness, your eagerness, your struggles or challenges, and how you feel about that. Describe your Character: your unique traits, your thoughts, your behaviors, your actions, and why you feel the way you do.

Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence: Think about what makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe it’s being good in math, reading, writing, art, or music. Maybe it’s being good at basketball or swimming. Maybe it’s organizing your collections, or building things, or science projects, or creating new ideas. Maybe it’s helping your sister or brother, or helping your parents. Every day, there’s things you can do that make you proud of yourself. These things increase your self-confidence, your self-esteem, your self-worth, your self-joy! Do these things as often as possible!

Self-Improvement: We all have room for self-improvement! If there’s things your child wants to get better at, remind them that they can “Try, Try Again!” Some say that if you really want to get better at something, do it every day – maybe 15 minutes a day, maybe an hour a day, maybe 2 hours a day, or even more. Depending on how badly your child wants to improve, help them set a daily practice schedule that works for them.

Self-Responsibility: What’s your child’s sense of responsibility to his or her self? Taking care of toys, books, collectibles, and art supplies might top the list for many kids. Brushing teeth, bathing, grooming, etc., are also at the top of the list. Keeping their room neat and organized can be a responsibility. They can also help with their laundry, sorting and putting away clothes. Having age-appropriate chores and accomplishing them can be part of their responsibilities. Having age-appropriate rules and following the rules is a responsibility. Being a responsible and helpful person is always part of Who We Are.

Art Projects: Create a diorama of your home, as simple or complex as your child would like. Have your child create paper figures of each member of your family, as basic or detailed as they like. Then place the figures in various rooms of the house, where the family can interact with each other. Place the family members’ names on the figures, label the rooms of the house, describe the events occurring in the diorama, and display it on a shelf. Have the diorama “tell a story” of your child’s life today. In a few weeks or months, make another diorama, depicting your child’s story at that point in their life. Have your child think about “Who I Am Today” compared with “Who I Was Yesterday.”

Games to Play: Family History Bingo, Family Tree Connection, The Genealogy Game, Ancestree Game, Pando Family History, The Family History Ball, Family Trivia, and even The Oregon Trail.

Books to Read: Who I Am; I Like Myself; Self-Confidence Building Book; I Am, I Can Affirmations; Unplug: 365 Fun Family-Friendly Activities for Kids; I Can Do It; Steam Kids Projects; Hobby Time Adventure Journal; Family Tree Activity Book; and more.

Lessons learned and skills sharpened: History, Social Studies, Math, Reading, Writing, Science, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Arts and Crafts, Research Skills, Scrapbooking, Journaling, Hobbies, and more. Jot down these lessons and activities in your lesson logbook or on our log sheets (available here: Weekly Planner Log link.)

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, August 1, 2022

Weekly Homeschool Lessons, Learning Activities, Where I Am

Some “school years” begin in August (which seems too early!), but we at Everything Homeschooling will begin providing homeschool activities and homeschool lessons this month, too.

To ease into your homeschool year, here are some learning ideas and activities, which will be fun and educational for your children this week. See the end of this post for ways to document homeschool activities each week.

Week 1:

Have your children ask: “Where in the world am I?”

Then think about that. Maybe their answers will include: Home. With my family. In a town or city. In the country. On a farm.

Then ask your children: What’s the name of your town, city, or neighborhood? What’s your address? Write this down.

How far do you live from the grocery store, the dollar store or convenience store, library, park, zoo, gym, museum, recreation center, and other special places?

Draw a map of your area and label these places on your map. Mark the location of your home on the map, too, along with your address.

Do the math: Determine how far each of these places are from your home. Use Google Maps to measure the distance and calculate the time it takes to travel there by car or by walking or biking. Or, track the distance and time it takes the next time you visit those places.

Write these details on your map or keep them in a notebook.

Print maps of the world, the United States, regional maps, state maps, and more here: Maps to Print link.

Label the maps, noting your location in the world, in the United States, and in your state.

Learn more about map making and reading maps, research different types of maps, view aerial or satellite maps, street maps, terrain or topography maps, and more.

Arts and Crafts Activities: Make your own map by cutting out colorful shapes to match states or provinces. Cut out an outline of your country from cardboard, then glue your states in place. Be creative, and use whatever colorful materials or supplies you have to make your map unique and decorative!

Music and Songs: On the Map Song; Geography Songs; 50 States Songs; 7 Continents Songs; and more.

Books to Read: Me on the Map; Where on Earth?; Beginner’s World Atlas; Fun with 50 States; Maps & Geography; Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia; Draw the USA; Draw the World; Geography Activity Books; and many more at your library or online.

Games to Play: World Game Board Game; Race Across the USA; Great States; Ticket to Ride; Map of the World Puzzles; United States Puzzles; and more.

Lessons learned and skills honed: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Community, Geography, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Math Skills, Map Drawing, Spatial Thinking, Computer Skills, Technology, Reasoning Skills, Arts and Crafts, Music, and more. Jot down these lessons and activities in your lesson logbook or on our log sheets (available here: Weekly Planner Log link.)

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Start Homeschooling, Educational Goals, Curriculum, Unschooling, + Homeschool Forms

Today's post covers How to Start Homeschooling, plus Educational Goals, Homeschool Curriculum, Lesson Plans, Unschooling, and Homeschool Forms.

As you prepare for the upcoming homeschool year, revisit – or create – a list of your educational goals for your children. If you didn’t reach all your homeschool goals last year, simply move them to this year’s list of goals.

Educational goals for your child might include:
* Developing a love of learning
* Enhancing curiosity in special interests or topics
* Finding joy in daily activities or hobbies
* Managing time and responsibilities better
* Volunteering in the community

Educational objectives and outcomes could include:
* Reading classic literature or books by favorite authors
* Trying more advanced science experiments and recording results
* Applying mental math skills or logic for solving problems
* Researching famous people or current events
* Focusing on daily life skills to increase abilities and self-confidence

From these goals and objectives, you can begin planning a curriculum (the knowledge and skills you’d like your child to acquire) along with creating lesson plans (the activities or studies that support or complement your curriculum).

Curriculum Plans

When planning a curriculum, consider your children’s wishes and input on what they’d like to learn in the coming year. Children will often surprise you with the wonderful ideas and learning suggestions they come up with! Together, you and your children can create a curriculum that is fun, interesting, and challenging to ensure a well-rounded education.

To create a curriculum, think about your educational goals, philosophies, or ambitions for your child. Then determine the objectives or plans needed to achieve those goals. These are explained more fully here:

• Educational philosophies center on what you believe your children should learn in order to achieve happiness and success in their lives. This can include morals and values, respect and responsibility, manners and kindness toward others, faith and spirituality, a love for learning, and a love for life.

• Educational aims or ambitions for your children could include life skills and self-reliance; critical thinking and reasoning skills; creative thinking skills; the ability to work well with others; to enjoy one’s work, life, and career; to show love and respect for one’s family; to be a responsible and upstanding citizen; and to contribute to one’s community.

• Learning goals and objectives should support your educational philosophies and aims for your child. For instance:
* Learning self-discipline and self-control is critical to a happy family life and career.
* Proper manners, social skills, and speaking skills are important when working with others or when contributing to the community.
* Good reading, math, science, or technology skills are imperative to all areas of one’s life, from daily living to getting ahead in one’s career.
* Artistic and creative skills add joy and meaning to one’s life.
* Healthy habits and life skills contribute to a long, productive life.

Write a Curriculum

Once you’ve determined your family’s philosophies, as well as your ambitions for your child’s education and the goals or objectives to support those ambitions, you can begin designing the curriculum. But don’t forget to consider your children’s interests and learning styles!

To write your curriculum, you’ll want to list your educational philosophies, goals, and objectives (see the Homeschool Forms link here), and keep them in a special folder labeled “Curriculum.” On the days when you forget where you are headed with your child’s education, reviewing the list of goals and objectives will be a great help!

A curriculum outline for Grade 5 Social Studies, for instance, could include:
* United States history
* Discovery of America and early settlements
* Colonial and pioneer life in America
* American Revolution and independence
* Westward movement
* Geography of United States
* Industrial Revolution
* Natural resources
* Cultural resources and relationships

Lessons and activities you do with your children will be based on the topics noted on a simple curriculum outline, similar to the above outline.

As you continue determining subject areas your child will study (i.e., Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, Science, Technology, Arts and Music, Health, and Life Skills), you’ll want to slant them toward the goals and aims that you have listed for your child’s education.

For instance, a goal for your child might be having a good, healthy life. Therefore, in studying the human body in Science, you might want to:
* Emphasize lessons on health and nutrition
* Focus on the way the body functions
* Learn how the bones and muscles work in tandem
* Determine how blood carries nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body
* Research the respiratory and digestive systems
* Point out how proper nutrition, exercise, and healthy habits help the body function as it was designed to function.

As you can see, once you have your goals established for your child (for example, being a healthy individual), you’ll be able to focus on the objectives that you want the lessons to convey (in this case, how to achieve and maintain a healthy body).

Children master skills at varying ages and rates. Keep in mind that your child might read well at age 6, but another might struggle with reading at age 8. Or one child might grasp the relation between fractions and decimals at age 8, while another might not grasp the concept until age 10. One child might write well in cursive at age 9; another may not display attractive penmanship until age 12 or later. So, consider your child’s unique skills and abilities when setting educational goals and objectives.

Less Formal Curriculum

Designing a curriculum might seem like a lot of work. Yet, most parents already have an idea of the educational goals or ambitions for their children, even if they haven’t written them down in a formal outline.

Most parents are already in tune with their children’s interests, abilities, and learning styles, so it might not be necessary to document the objectives of each lesson. You might not need to go into detail regarding the studies or activities that will complement your child’s learning goals.

Unschooling

Unschooling is a nice option for many families. In an unschooling environment, the curriculum tends to accommodate the children’s curiosity and their interest-led activities. Don’t worry! When children are interested in a topic, they will learn! Plus, they’ll retain what they learn for a longer period of time.

If you need to present evidence of the “curriculum” you use for your “unschooled homeschool,” you can illustrate how your children’s interests and activities (such as their hobbies, experiments, creative projects, talents, discussions or books read) accomplish the goals and philosophies your family believes in – even in an unschooling environment.

Convey the unschooled curriculum with photos or short videos showing daily or weekly activities, projects, or experiments. Your child can create artwork or build models or sculptures depicting various projects. Perhaps, together, you can build a bookcase or shelves to hold the projects, sculptures, art, experiments, and displays, then take photos or brief videos of that, too. This serves as proof of continuous learning, regardless of your family’s style of home education.

To record activities in a logbook, you may use our Weekly Planner Log Book forms. The log sheets can be viewed and printed via this Weekly Planner Log link. You may use the log sheets to plan your days and weeks in advance, or to easily jot down the activities and learning events at the end of the day.

Create Lesson Plans

Lesson plans are the activities or studies that complement and carry out the intent of the curriculum and educational goals for your children.

For instance, one of your goals might be for your child to play an active part in your community as a caring, concerned individual. Therefore, you might want to create a lesson plan for Social Studies that has the objective of interacting with others for the good of the community.

Lesson plans, for this objective, could include researching the history of volunteerism in communities. Examples could include Benjamin Franklin, who helped to establish the first volunteer fire department, or Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross through volunteering her services. Your children could read biographies of these people, as well as books on how to volunteer. Then they could write or share their thoughts and ideas on how they could help others in your community.

Other parts of the lesson plan could include drawing posters of volunteers, visiting the headquarters of local volunteer associations, and taking an active part in community volunteer programs, such as canned food drives, clothing or toy collections, animal shelter assistance, or visiting with the elderly in nursing homes. Be sure to take photos or videos documenting these activities, too.

In our next post, we’ll cover Lessons Plans in more detail. Stay tuned!

For the Homeschool Forms mentioned here:

Homeschool forms for recording your Educational Goals and Objectives are available for viewing and printing at this link:

Weekly Planner Log sheets for recording daily/weekly lesson plans or learning activities can be viewed and printed at this link:

Or contact us at EVHomeschooling@gmail.com to receive the forms via email.

Note: Some material published here include excerpts from my book, The Everything Guide to Homeschooling, by Sherri Linsenbach, available online or in libraries and bookstores.

Happy homeschooling!


Monday, July 18, 2022

Everything Homeschooling Returns 2022!

Yes, EverythingHomeschooling.com is returning here this year! The Covid pandemic is subsiding, thankfully. But it reminded us of something we've always known: learning can take place anywhere, anytime. Buildings or facilities, away from the security and comfort of home, are not required for learning. Why? Because children naturally learn every day. How? Because children are naturally curious, always seeking answers to their many questions.

We, as human beings, are born curious. It's an important driving force for how we learn. We are inquisitive, by nature, always wanting to learn more. We do not require teaching facilities. We only require people who respect our curiosity, our thoughts, and our ideas, who are willing to listen, and to provide guidance in finding the answers we seek. This is what our children need, possibly now more than ever before.

And we at Everything Homeschooling will be here to help guide and assist in your educational and learning adventures. If you have questions, email us at EVHomeschooling@gmail.com.

We'll be adding more information in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, think about the things your children have learned this summer, either on their own or with you. Ask them what new things they might want to learn, or new hobbies or activities they'd like to try, in the days and weeks to come. Learning will naturally occur as they pursue the activities they most enjoy!

Happy homeschooling!