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

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 … click to read more

More 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 … click to read more

Math Intervention Without A Curriculum

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 … click to read more

Layers of Learning Reviews

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 … click to read more

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini

Zucchini and Parmesan cheese – a delicious match made in heaven!  Crispy Parmesan Zucchini is quite possibly my favorite vegetable in the whole wide world.  I love how quickly it comes together, because boy, do I need quick and easy by the end of a whole day of teaching four kids, doing laundry, and running errands.  Crispy Parmesan Zucchini helps all that melt away.  Just wait.  You’ll see the delicious crispy perfection in a moment. Here’s what you need: Zucchini, sliced into rounds 2-3 eggs, scrambled in a shallow dish Bread crumbs (you can use plain bread crumbs, or for even more zip, use Italian style bread crumbs and add some garlic salt into the crumbs) Parmesan cheese Here’s What You Do: Prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray.  I like to put aluminum foil down on the sheet before spraying it for easy clean up later. Once you’ve sliced the zucchini … click to read more

Layers of Learning Unit 3-20

Layers of Learning Unit 3-20 includes: History: American Revolution Geography: South Africa Science: Acids & Bases Arts: Crafts II Layers of Learning Unit 3-20 Description Make a John Paul Jones naval costume while learning about sea battles of the Revolution.  Learn about and try some Ndebele House Painting.  Use your breath to turn a solution from basic to acidic.  And make a personalized concrete paving stone.  All this, plus dozens more explorations, printables, library lists, additional layers, web links and more are included in Layers of Learning Unit 3-20. This is part of a unit study covering four subjects: history, geography, science, and the arts.  It is designed to be used family style with all ages from 1st graders up to 12th graders learning together.  Each book is in full color and includes printables at the end.  Learn more about the Layers of Learning Curriculum.   To learn more about the Layers of Learning program … 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