Circuit Training With Kids

Circuit training with kids can be fun for them and you. The stations are short and the pace varies, keeping the interest of kids for the duration. I started doing circuit training with my kids this spring because three of them had Boy Scout merit badges or achievements they were working on for physical fitness.  The first day they whined a bit, but by the end of that first workout they were hooked. Here’s what we do First of all we have five stations each day because there are five of us, the four kids and me.  Then we rotate through the stations. Each rotation takes about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. We vary the stations each day. But every day includes the running portion, that’s a given. The time for each rotation depends on the runner.  When the runner gets done with his course, we move to the next … Keep on reading



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 … Keep on reading

Learning to Write Number Words

How to teach kids to write number words.

Part of math, numbers, and math literacy is learning to spell and write number words.  Kids need to be able to write the words after being given a number written in digits and they need to be able to translate the written version into digits.   My kids are a bit older, but still struggling with a few of the words and word forms.  You can read about how we are learning math from the beginning.  They know the number words, mostly, but it is not fluid and automatic. They have to think still when they hit the thousands comma and the decimal and they forget the dash between the thirty and the four when writing thirty-four. And they still misspell some of the words.  So my plan is to drill it until it becomes automatic.  I wish I had done it from the beginning when they were learning all this … Keep on reading

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 … Keep on reading

US Postal Codes

US Postal Codes Cards

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 … Keep on reading

Draw a Story Starters

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 … Keep on reading

Character Lessons Scrapbook

When my second oldest son was a toddler he was an absolute menace. He climbed the kitchen cabinets without a stool or chair, just by grasping the counter top with his hands and shimmying up so he could get into the peanut butter in the upper cabinet.  Then of course he would eat the peanut butter with his bare hands and, not liking the messiness of it, would wipe his hands on any convenient surface. He defeated the fridge lock and dumped eggs, milk, ketchup, and leftovers all over the floor.  He climbed over the baby gate to go up or down the stairs.  At nine months old he climbed out of his crib and that was the end of that.  He played in the toilet.  He ransacked my desk.  He opened the flour bucket and spread that everywhere.  He dipped in his diaper and spread THAT everywhere. He was … Keep on reading

More Skip Counting

Skip Counting

When I was a third and fourth grader my parents and my teachers tried desperately to drill the times tables into my head. But I knew I could not learn them. Of course that was self fulfilling and embarrassingly I never did learn them until I was teaching my own children. Overall the whole times tables thing was an early failure in a long string of math failures in my childhood and teen years.  But I could do the twos, fives, and tens with absolute ease.  Why could I do them so easily?  Because of skip counting.  In kindergarten and first grade we learned to skip count by twos, fives, and tens.  When multiplication rolled around those numbers were already at hand. In spite of understanding this, I have pretty much failed to teach my children to skip count.  Sometimes the things we think are so easy are only easy … Keep on reading

Math Intervention Without A Curriculum

Fluency means understanding and ten practice practice practice.

Last week CJ, who is thirteen, threw down his math book in frustration.  He just wasn’t getting it.  Even after I explained it.  Repeatedly.  In as many different ways as I could think of.  Even after watching Khan Academy videos.  Even after switching from Saxon to Life of Fred.  Algebra was just beating him up. Seeing the irreversible signs of frustration that would stop any learning for that day, I told him to put away the book and move to another subject.  I pondered the problem.  A few things occurred to me. Math Understanding Does Not Come Automatically For Most People Math is easy for me now, but it was by far my worst subject in school (except for that pottery class my sophomore year, but we don’t talk about that).  I made Bs in all my math classes from Jr. High pre-algebra to college calculus by doing all the … Keep on reading

Layers of Learning Reviews

Layers of Learning Curriculum

Can’t decide whether or not Layers of Learning is right for you? Are you curious what others think about Layers of Learning or just want to see how they are using it?  We have included some Layers of Learning reviews from around the web for you to see.    These are all reviews and feedback our customers have given on sites like Amazon, Rainbow Resource, and Teachers Pay Teachers. The first one is a long review from Rainbow Resource, who contacted us requesting to sell our units through their catalog.  The other Layers of Learning reviews are from various customers who have given us feedback.  Here’s what some of our customers have had to say about Layers of Learning: As a firm believer in the value of unit studies for homeschool families, I was delighted to have the opportunity to review this winning new curriculum. Written for a wide grade … Keep on reading