Quadrama

Have you ever made a quadrama?  I try to fill our home school with lots of projects to make the learning as memorable as possible. . . always looking for things that stick in their minds!  We do lots of reading and I have my kids make book projects of their choice about the things they read.  Today my daughter finished reading Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne (we love the Magic Treehouse series!).  It was time for a book project!  {Oh, and to find out more about book projects and other things we do to encourage reading at our house, go take a peek at our Bookworms page.} She decided to craft a quadrama for her project since a pyramid is the perfect shape for a book about Egyptian pyramids.  She loved the project so much though, that I predict many more quadramas in our future, whether … click to read more

Travel Diaries

Travel Diaries

The inspiration for these travel diaries that I’m doing with my kids right now are based on a few truisms in my personal life. I loath crafts.  LOATH them. If we have a craft scheduled into our day, I will put it off until last and then find a way to not have to do it.  To me they are not fun, they are stressful.  Crafts with kids are something akin to getting your teeth drilled at the dentist, except the dentist really isn’t that bad. Karen and I were talking about that the other day.  Do you know that if she has a craft scheduled to do with her kids she actually has to exert self control to make herself make them wait till their seat work is done?  They use the craft as a reward.  I know.  Crazy. Also, I realize that Karen and I have created a curriculum that … click to read more

History Detective

Try out this history detective approach for your next history lesson.  Let your kids sleuth out the truth about a historical event. I’m a big believer in keeping a historical framework and teaching the history of the world in the order it happened, but that doesn’t mean my kids have zero choices when it comes to learning.  Each unit we do has all kinds of events that happened during that time period.  I almost always sit down with my kiddos as we start a unit and we glance through it together.  They choose some explorations and books they are interested in and we begin to form a unit.  As my kids get older (I’ve got a middle schooler and a high schooler now), I want them to do more of their own research and independent learning instead of relying so much on our read alouds and discussions.  Don’t get me … click to read more

Playing Store For Math

Learning about money is about more than just knowing what each coin and bill are worth, it’s about actually using money confidently to do everyday things.  Money is of course used primarily in financial transactions, especially when we go to the store.  So playing store for math makes sense. I’ve been doing math intervention, going back over basic principles of arithmetic with all four of my younger kids, because the older two were struggling with algebra.  You can read more about our math intervention. Money Basics First of all, kids need to know the basics.  You should learn or review these things before you begin this lesson. Names and values of coins and bills How to count money amounts How to count money amounts using different coins, like making 75 cents with 3 quarters or making 75 cents with 7 dimes and a nickle. How to make change.  The video … click to read more

Antarctica

Antarctica covers about 14 million square miles surrounding the south pole of the earth.  Because of its distance from the equator, it receives very little sunlight and it’s very cold there, too cold to support the growth of trees.   It’s much colder even than the North Pole.  The land is largely covered by ice.  It is mostly uninhabited, except for researchers and tourists.  Compared with other places on earth, it is very much an untouched continent.  Sir Peter Scott, founder of the WWF, said this about Antarctica: Antarctica is the only continent without any indigenous people.  It has no independent government and no economy.  It is governed only by an Antarctic treaty which many countries have signed and that governs how the land is used.  Thousands of scientists from all over the globe do research there, so even though we call it untouched as compared with other continents, the research facilities … click to read more

Children’s Garden

Several weeks ago my two youngest kids went out in the backyard with rakes and began to clear away the detritus from underneath some trees right by our back patio.  We’ve attempted to make it into a garden several times, but never had proper soil.  The weeds of north Idaho defeated us.  My laziness defeated us. But after the boys spent a couple of days raking and planning and picking up sticks and pulling weeds I didn’t have the heart to tell them I couldn’t be bothered.  So my husband went to some friends who have horses and got manure and I went to the garden store with the boys and picked out some plants. Getting the Grown-ups Involved We talked about annuals vs. perennials.  We also discussed how the area where they had planned their garden was shaded by some large poplar trees and so we would need shade … click to read more

US Postal Codes

Postal codes, or postal abbreviations, are short hand ways to write the names of states when addressing letters.  But they are also used in advertising, legal information, on news weather reports and many other places.  Typically in the upper elementary years of school, 4th or 5th grade American kids are expected to memorize the postal codes of the United States. The US post office has decided on standard two letter abbreviations for each state so that when a letter is addressed the sender, the receiver, and the postal workers can all see at a glance where the letter is headed or where it came from. For example Maine is abbreviated ME.  The postal codes are always exactly two letters, always capitalized, and never with periods.  Most states are pretty easy to guess from their postal codes, but some might be confusing.  Is AK Alaska or Arkansas?  It is Alaska.  Arkansas … click to read more

Draw a Story Starters

My kids' favorite way to do a quick writing practice.

One of the things I’ve been working on with my kids is just getting things down on paper when they are given a writing assignment.  They seem to have these mental blocks where they just stare at the paper. So I made these story starters to use during a timed “writing frenzy”.  Since you draw from four different idea bags, this method gives endless story starters. Before we start writing the kids chose one slip of paper from each of the baggies.  In one baggie is the topic, in another is the problem, in another is an adjective, and in the last is an object.  You can mix the cards around any way you like for your story.  In the cards drawn below, either the mom could be crazy or the math homework could be. The rule for our writing frenzy is that everyone has to write for the entire … click to read more

Design A Postage Stamp

Your kids can design a postage stamp of their very own.  How cool would it be to be a stamp designer? This printable can be used for lots and lots of things.  Here are a few ideas: Design a stamp about a famous person or event you are studying from history. Make a stamp similar to a coat of arms, that represents significant things about a historical person. After learning about a country, design a postage stamp that would highlight something or someone important from the country. Make your postage stamp feature an important invention or inventor. Create a stamp based on your favorite book, author, or character. Make a stamp all about you.  Draw yourself in the center surrounded by things that represent who you are. Design a postage stamp about an important scientist and their contribution. Make your postage stamp feature your favorite subject, or even the job … click to read more

Romantic Music Cards, Part 2

These music cards cover the late Romantic Music period.  The cards are designed to be printed on card stock then used to help kids learn about the music of the greatest composers.  The cards should be used in conjunction with listening to the pieces featured on the cards.  All of the music can easily be found online.  Below we have each of the selections in the art cards embedded as a YouTube video. The late Romantic Period was a continuation of the emotionality and nationalism of the earlier Romantics. Many composers wrote patriotic pieces and used folk songs and tales of their countries as inspiration. The piano and the orchestra remained the most important instruments for musical performances and opera and program music (music that tells a story) were both important through the entire Romantic period. But late Romantics became more and more free with their musical expression. They began … click to read more