Why Should We Homeschool?

On the fence about homeschooling? Follow along with my new series, “Why Should We Homeschool?”

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The end of the school year is quickly approaching, and it is during this time that many parents may begin to seriously ponder the idea of homeschooling. Let’s face it. Our schools are in trouble, and if the past tells us anything, it’s a pretty sure thing that no amount of reform is going to change anything in the long run.

Having said that, the benefits of homeschooling are so much more far-reaching than academics that I’ve decided to write a series of posts on many of the advantages of educating your kids at home. While I could easily cover this topic in one very basic article, I don’t think I could adequately do justice to the myriad of blessings that come along with this very important decision of keeping your children at home.

I will be covering topics such as:

My hope is that this series will enable parents who are on the fence about homeschooling to see the big picture and realize that this commitment is not simply about academics but so much more. I invite you to follow along on this journey of why we should consider  homeschooling.

What about you? Can you think of any additional benefits I haven’t  mentioned? I would love some feedback on this!

 

Linking up with:

Thriving Thursdays

Think Tank Thursday

This Is How We Roll Thursdays

Family Fun Friday

The Homeschool Linkup

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

No Rules Weekend Blog Party

Friendship Friday

Pin Me Linky Party

Practical Mondays

Making Your Home Sing Mondays

Mommy Monday

Thank Goodness It’s Monday

Monday of Many Blessings

 

 

Free 12-Week Greek Mythology Unit Study

Learn Greek mythology as a family with these fun hands-on activities!

 

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

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I’ve always been completely fascinated by Greek Mythology and was so excited to find  D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, a beautifully illustrated compilation of classical Greek myths for my then-14-yr.-old daughter. To go with it, I purchased the Student Guide, which contains additional vocabulary, quizzes, and map work that were an awesome supplement to the book.

Recently, as I was going through some of our old homeschooling resources, I rediscovered the beauty of this book and decided to use it with my older elementary-age and middle school-age children; however, I knew that the student guide was probably not going to hold their interest. Since unit studies have been very successful for our family, I decided to attempt to create a study based on this book, and behold- here it is today.

While I did use this particular title as the backbone of the activities included, this study is very flexible in that it will work well with any Greek mythology book of your choosing. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

 

                                         Greek Mythology Unit Study

Recommended Resources:

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths- Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire– (I highly recommend this book above all others, as it is the foundation of all of the activities listed here.)

– Any book from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series- Rick Riordan

– Any book from the Heroes in Training series- Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Tornadoes– Gail Gibbons

A Komodo Dragon Hatchling Grows Up– Katie Marsico

About Arachnids– Cathryn Sill

Komodo Dragons- Giant Lizards of Indonesia – James Martin

Komodo Dragons– Thane Maynard

Extreme Weather– National Geographic Kids

Scorpions– Elizabeth Raum

Scorpions!– Laurence Pringle

Classic Starts- Greek Myths– Diane Namm

Vultures– Sandra Markle

Pegasus Marianna Mayer

Disney Storybook Collection

Vultures– Wayne Lynch

Vultures– Lynn M. Stone

Mythological Creatures– Lynn Curlee

– Greece! Rome! Monsters!– John Harris

– movies- The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters

Vocabulary:

mythology           idol                     Titan
god                         goddess             bountiful
Cyclopes               universe            sprite
nymph                   trident               lightning
invisibility            helm                  thunderbolt
iridescent              throne               ambrosia
nectar                     underworld      ichor
mortal                     immortality    strait
forge                        volcano            chariot
discord                    pain                   panic
famine                    oblivion            prudence
irreverent              grotto                constellation
pomegranate        eternal              wizened
lyre                          satyr                   muse
spellbound            sacrifice             offspring
centaur                   pegasus             chimera

Activities:

1. Read a section of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths together daily. (Literature, History)

2. Select several vocabulary words each week and practice writing them in cursive. (Language Arts)

3. Read one of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books as a family or independently. Write a book review when finished. (Language Arts)

4. Watch the Percy Jackson movies after reading the books. Write a paper highlighting the many differences between the books and the films. What did you think of these changes? (Language Arts)

5. Discuss the Gaea concept still held by some people in modern times. Is this biblical? (Social Studies, Critical Thinking)

6. Research pantheism, Wicca, and other pagan religions. What does the Bible say about these practices? (Social Studies, Bible)

7. Draw a cyclops. (Art)

8. Discuss the trident, the lightning bolt, and the cap (helm) of invisibility. Write an essay about which you’d choose and why. Read it aloud when finished. (Language Arts)

9. Draw a picture of Argus with his 100 eyes. Why is this a good quality for a guard? (Art, Critical Thinking)

10. Zeus would often disguise himself as animals or other objects when coming down to Earth. can you think of a time that God took another form? (Ex.burning bush) What would you disguise yourself as? (Critical Thinking)

11. Take a trip to a blacksmith shop. (Field Trip, Social Studies)

12. Hephaestus’s forge was in a volcano. Research volcanoes. (Science)

13. Build a clay volcano around an empty water bottle. When finished, pour in some baking soda, red food coloring, a little dish detergent, and vinegar. What happens? (Science, Art)

14. Try the same thing as above, but pour in some soda and Mentos candy instead. Did you get the same reaction? Why do you think that is? (Science)

15. No one knows where Aphrodite came from. Write your own myth explaining how you think she came about. (Language Arts)

16. Who does Eros remind you of? (Cupid) Draw a picture of him. (Art)

17. Make some beaded jewelry. (Art)

18. Cupid is the Roman name for Eros, and Venus is the Roman name for Aphrodite. Learn the Roman names for the Greek gods. (Language Arts, History)

19. Act out the story of the apple of discord. (Art, History)

20. Discuss the meaning of pain, panic, famine, and oblivion. (Language Arts)

21. Learn how to weave or watch a weaving demonstration. (Art, Life Skills)

22. Athena turned Arachne into a spider for being prideful about her weaving. Learn about arachnids. Where does the word “arachnid” come from? (History, Science, Language Arts)

23. Use blocks, Legos, or clay to build a representation of Poseidon’s underwater palace. (Art)

24. Learn how islands can be formed by earthquakes. (Geography, Science)

25. Draw your own rendition of Python. (Art)

26. The dragons of Greek mythology are mythical creatures which may have been based on dinosaurs. Today the earth still holds an island which is home to real dragons. Research the Komodo dragon and write a report or a fact sheet on them. (Science, History, Language Arts))

27. Orion was killed by a scorpion sent by Apollo. Write a report or fact sheet on scorpions. (Science, Language Arts)

28. Study the Orion constellation. Orion’s belt is very easy to locate. Look for it the next time you are out on a clear night. (Science)

29. What is a lyre? Listen to music from one. (Music)

30. Read about Hermes. Can newborn babies really do what the story tells us he did? Why or why not? (Critical Thinking)

31. Hades was not only Lord of the Underworld, but he was also rich beyond measure since he owned all the jewels under the earth. Where are precious stones found? Learn about this process. (Science)

32. Visit a cave that is open to visitors which exhibits geological finds, such as crystals. (Field Trip, Science)

33. Cerberus was a three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to Hades. Paint a picture of him. (Art)

34. Persephone was stolen away by Hades to become his bride. Discuss stranger danger. (Safety)

35. How did the Greeks use the story of Persephone and Demeter to explain the seasons? Find out how the seasons really occur. (History, Science)

36. Using a globe and a lamp or large ball as the sun, give a visual demonstration of how the seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis. (Science)

37. Dionysus, the god of wine, was raised around leopards and tigers, who were very fond of him. Make some paper plate leopards and tigers. Eat some grapes as a snack! (Art)

38. What does it mean that dolphins are the most human creatures? Read about dolphins. (Science. Critical Thinking)

39. Prometheus was said to have modeled man out of clay, while his brother Epimetheus made animals. Make some people and animals out of clay. (Art)

40. The story tells us that Epimetheus gave all of the good gifts to the animals and didn’t leave much for Prometheus to bestow upon the humans. In what ways are animals more gifted than men (speed, better sight, smell, hearing, endurance, etc.)? In what ways are humans superior? What is the most important thing we have that the animals do not? (Science, Critical Thinking)

41. Draw Prometheus and the eagle. (Art)

42. What does it mean to “open Pandora’s box?” (Language Arts)

43. Define greed, vanity, slander, and envy. Do you see these in the world today? (Language Arts)

44. Compare the biblical flood to the Greek flood. Study worldwide flood legends. Why do you think it is that secular geologists ignore these stories and insist that no worldwide flood ever happened? (History, Critical Thinking, Social Studies)

45. Write an essay on tornadoes, hurricanes, or typhoons. (Science)

46. Read the story of Helios. Why is it dangerous to look at the sun? Does this story make a good case for why it is best to obey your parents? (Science, Health, Safety)

47. Write about a time you did not obey your parents and something bad happened because of it. (Language Arts)

48. What are centaurs and satyrs? (Language Arts)

49. Draw the transition of Tithonus from man to grasshopper. (Art)

50. Write grasshopper facts. (Science, Language Arts)

51. If a pregnancy lasts nine months and Selene bore 50 daughters, how many months was she pregnant altogether? How many years is that? (Math)

52. In Greek mythology, satyrs live 10,000 times longer than humans. If the average human life span is 85 years, how long would the average satyr life span be? (Math)

53. Listen to a recording of a shepherd’s pipe. (Music)

54. Read the story of Echo and Narcissus. How does Echo’s punishment fit her name? (Language Arts)

55. What does “narcissistic” mean? How does this fit Narcissus? (Language Arts, Social Studies)

56. Make a set of reed pipes using drinking straws. (Art, Music)

57. In the Greek Olympics, winners would be awarded with a laurel wreath. Why? (History)

58. Define cunning, savage, and vulgar. (Language Arts)

59. Why was Chiron different than the other centaurs? Why do parental care and discipline make such a big difference in a child’s life? (Critical Thinking)

60. What word is derived from “Hygeia,” and what does it mean? Who was Hygeia? (Language Arts, History)

61. Re-enact a doctor’s visit. Assign roles of nurse, doctor, patient, receptionist, etc. Be sure to take measurements of height and weight, check temperatures, and give eye exams! (Health, Social Studies)

62. Learn about the Nine Muses. Write a list of their names and what they do. Memorize them. (Language Arts, History)

63. If there were nine Muses… (Math)
-How many eyes altogether? Fingers? Fingers and toes?

64. Orpheus’s wife was killed by a venomous snake. Research them. Do any live near you? Learn what to do in the event of a snake bite. (Science, Health/Safety)

65. The story of Orpheus claims that he found the entrance to Hades at the end of the world. Does the world really have an end? What does this tell you about how the Greeks thought the earth was shaped? (Science, Critical Thinking, History, Social Studies)

66. Radamanthus, a son of Zeus and Europa, was so wise he became a judge in the underworld. Who is the true judge of all? (Critical Thinking)

67. Learn about the American judicial system. (Social Studies)

68. Locate Crete and Thebes on a map. (Geography)

69. Pelops participated in a chariot race to win his bride. His opponent lost because of an intentional malfunction of the wheel and axle. Study simple machines. (Science)

70. Pelops initiated the first Olympic games. Watch an Olympic event. Videos of these can be found on YouTube.com (Social Studies, Physical Education)

71. Host your own Olympic games. Plan events, make your own medals, and don’t forget a laurel wreath! (Physical Education, Art)

72. In the tale of King Midas, he grew a pair of donkey ears. In what other story did a character grow a pair of donkey ears? Read “Pinocchio.” (Literature)

73. King Midas’s servant was so desperate to tell someone about the king’s donkey ears that he dug a hole in the ground and whispered it into there. Unfortunately, some nearby reeds heard it, so they whispered it to each other over and over again. Soon, everyone knew the king’s secret. Play “Whisper Down the Alley.” (History, Language Arts)

74. When an ancient Greek passed away, a loved one would place a coin under his/her tongue. What was this for? (History, Social Studies)

75. Read about Pegasus, and write a report. (Language Arts, History)

76. Study the chimera and the different meanings of the word. (History, Language Arts)

77. Melampus could understand animals and once overheard the conversation of some vultures having a meal. Write a report on vultures. Include a drawing or picture of one. (Science, Language Arts, Art)

78. If Melampus wanted 1/3 of the kingdom for himself and 1/3 for his brother, how much did that leave the king with? What portion of the kingdom did the brothers now possess? (Math)

79. Read about Heracles’s labor of retrieving the apple from the Garden of Hesperides. Eat an apple while doing so. (Language Arts)

80. King Minos’s half-man/half-bull son, the Minotaur, had to be kept in an underground labyrinth. Do a maze or make one of your own. (Math)

81. King Minos used a conch shell to find out where his servant, Daedelus, was hiding. The conch shell has long been thought to allow people to hear the ocean when holding their ear up to one. Is this true? What can really be heard? (Blood circulating through the ear) (Science)

82. Oedipus was able to solve the Sphinx’s riddle. Read some riddles aloud or make up some of your own. (Language Arts)

83. What is an Oedipal complex? (Social Studies)

84. Draw a harpy or a siren. (Art)

85. Jason defeated the fire-breathing dragon in order to get the Golden Fleece. Discuss fire safety. (Safety)

86. Visit a local fire station. Bake them cookies. (Safety, Field Trip, Life Skills)

87. Artemis once sent a huge boar to avenge her anger against a king. Write oa report or a fact sheet on wild boars. (Science, Language Arts)

88. Draw Atalanta hunting the boar. (Art)

89. Atalanta was very fast and won many races. Have your own race. (Physical Education)

90. Achilles was invulnerable except for on his heel. What is an Achilles tendon? (Science)
91. Read about the Trojan War. (History)

92. Build a model of the Trojan Horse using items from around the house. Be creative! (Art)

93. Look at pictures of the architecture in ancient Greece. Does any of it look similar to famous buildings in the US? (History, Social Studies)

94. The gods and goddesses would often commemorate heroes by placing constellations in their honor in the sky. Make a chalk pastel night sky scenery. Be sure to include your favorite constellations! (Art)

 

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling in PA- It’s a Piece of Cake!

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(Image courtesy of panuruangjan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Google “homeschooling in PA” and you’re likely to come across a myriad of articles and blogs lamenting the fact that it’s one of the strictest states regarding homeschool law. I myself am guilty of having written a rather lengthy diatribe about the injustices of what Pennsylvanians have to endure compared to other less-regulated states.

Since the end of the year is looming and evaluations are creeping up on us, I felt that now was the time to clarify that homeschooling in PA is not so bad after all. As of October 31, 2014, some changes were made to this law that make our situation much more palatable than it once was. Here is a quick overview of the changes, but I do encourage anyone with questions to visit askpauline.com for a more detailed description of what is expected of homeschool facilitators.

  1. Portfolios and standardized test scores are no longer to be turned into the school district. Present them only to your evaluator. All that is now required to give to the school district is the evaluation letter you receive from your evaluator. That’s it. If your school district asks for anything else, inform them that you are in compliance with the law.

2. Evaluator-signed high school diplomas are now given equal weight with accredited diplomas. There is no longer any need to go through a third party for your child’s diploma if you do not wish to.

Beyond these changes, there are also a few things I learned about the existing law that I either misinterpreted or was misinterpreted for me. Since my former evaluator was a bit strict, I always believed that the required log was to include a short description of what was accomplished each day, or at the very least, some check marks to show which subjects were covered. This is not the case. The log is merely supposed to be a book log. That’s it. Some people write the dates they use each book and include any websites, DVDs, or documentaries used. I do not even do that.

I spent years writing down what my kids did for “school” every.single.night. This is not easy when you have a large number of kids to do this for. It would sometimes take me a good hour or more just to do this. When I discovered that this wasn’t necessary, I just about (or maybe did…) break out into the “Hallelujah Chorus.” I wish someone had told me that years ago. I could have saved so much time.

As for documenting the 180 day “school year,” this can be done several ways. If you enjoy writing out a detailed log, you can easily number the days. Otherwise, you can simply mark off 180 days on a printable calendar. My own evaluator only asks for a written statement that we homeschooled for 180 days because she, like most homeschoolers, believes that requirement is silly since our kids are certainly home and learning every single day, since living and learning can’t really be separated.

So, if you’re new to homeschooling and are more than a little anxious about PA homeschool law, I’m telling you now… it’s a piece of cake.

Linking up with:

Mommy Moments Blog Hop

Thank Goodness It’s Monday Blog Carnival

Mommy Monday Blog Hop

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Wise Woman Link Up

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This Is How We Roll Thursdays

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The Homeschool Linkup

Large Family Living on One Income

(Originally posted in 2014)

Being the stay-at-home mother of eleven children, I always face the inevitable question- How can you afford to live on one income? It’s not something I actively think about often because it’s been a way of life for such a long time now. Lately, though, I’ve been getting many inquiries about not only raising children on a tight budget but homeschooling them, too. Since I am a staunch homeschool advocate, I really want to encourage women that it can be done! Today, I’m writing the first of a two-part series about living and homeschooling with limited funds. My hope is to help some of you who want so badly to homeschool but aren’t sure whether or not you can afford it.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Part 1- Living Frugally

The most obvious place to start would be how to live within your means. I think the most important thing to remember in all of this is that it can be hard. You may not be able to get your hair and nails done or wear the latest fashion, but you need to put it into perspective. What are your priorities? Sort them out first. Make sure they are in line with being willing to sacrifice. Believe me, you will sacrifice, but it will be so worth it. Of course all families have different budgets, so this is just a glimpse on how my family manages.

We are a one-vehicle family, and it’s twelve years old. I know some of you are probably gasping in horror, but this situation is doable, especially if you look at the benefits like:

– No car payments
– Lower insurance rates
– Less gas consumption

We rent our house, instead of owning it. This may seem counter-intuitive at first because mortgages are usually less than rent rates, but think about it. If the roof needs to be repaired the basement floods, the furnace breaks down- it’s not our responsibility. We also don’t have a huge bank loan to pay off in this shaky economy.

We rarely go on vacations. I mean RARELY. The last one was almost two years ago when we drove 1,000 miles to Fort Leonard Wood, MO to see our oldest graduate from boot camp and AIT training. Before that was tent camping on the beach in Wildwood, NJ…eight years ago. And that one ended in disaster, as a tropical storm decided to show up and wash pretty much everything we had there out to sea. My husband and son were literally holding the tent we were in, so that it wouldn’t blow away, but that’s a story for another day.

We do a lot of shopping at Aldi. Have you seen their prices? We don’t go there every week because there are some things they don’t have that we like, but we do shop there twice a month.

We only go clothes shopping once a year, usually at Walmart or Target because they seem to have the lowest prices on clothing. The rest of the year we do get a lot of hand-me-downs from friends and our church has a clothing closet. In this case, my children are really a blessing because they are so thankful for the clothing we get from others and never complain about it, and when we do take them clothes shopping, it’s like Christmas to them.

Most of our furniture is secondhand. Again, our church is such a blessing because the Helping Hands Ministry will locate furniture for anyone who needs it and will help set up a way to either have it delivered or will at the very least help load it into your car.

– We rarely, if ever, go to the hairdresser. My daughter, Devin, is excellent at cutting hair. (Arianna’s getting pretty good, too!). Also, once a month, my church- yes, my church AGAIN- has a free haircut day using licensed hairstylists who are either members of our church or who generously volunteer their time.

Craigslist is our friend. All kidding aside, other than major Black Friday sales, this is how our family acquires electronics. We actually just bought three laptops for about $600. We’ve never had a problem yet!

Perhaps the most important thing is this- WE ARE ALL CONTENT WITH WHAT WE HAVE. In a culture that is obsessed with the next best thing, so far, my kids have never gotten upset that we don’t have every gadget known to man. They are very resourceful and truly appreciate everything they do have.

I hope this post has helped in some way! Part 2 will get down to the nitty gritty of how to homeschool with a limited income.

If you have any questions or have some more tips on living frugally, leave a comment! I always enjoy chatting with you!

 

Linking up with:                     

Domesblissity

Home School Link Up

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Share the Wealth Sunday

Free Little House Unit Study

(Click here to find a downloadable PDF of this unit study and others.)

Of all the read-alouds I’ve shared with my children, the Little House series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, has, by far, been our very favorite. Reading it with my children has inspired us to try to live more simply and to truly be content with the abundant blessings we have. Additionally, this series has brought history to life for us in a way no other book has. How many history textbooks can boast of motivating children to want to learn how to churn butter, make molasses candy, and create corn husk dolls for siblings?  Continue reading “Free Little House Unit Study”

Homeschooling IS Learning in the Real World

Of all the frustrating accusations about homeschooling- and there are many- the one that really gets me is this:

Homeschooled kids are sheltered from the real world. They need to go to school to learn what life is all about.

Ummm…what?! How is it that kids who are living and learning in the community every day are being encouraged to instead spend seven hours a day in a building designed to simulate the real world?

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(Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I realize that we as a society are so ingrained with the idea of what school is supposed to look like that it can be difficult, if not downright impossible, for some of us to recognize that there is another way, but let’s think about this rationally.

While children in school are busy completing reproducible worksheets about counting coins, reading about the community in their textbooks, and watching  power points on the life cycle of a frog, homeschoolers are counting- and using- real money to make real purchases. They are accompanying their parents to the grocery store, the bank, and the voting booth. They are wading ankle-deep into a stream searching for foamy clutches of frog eggs, squealing in delight at the discovery of hundreds of tiny tadpoles darting about.

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(Image courtesy of radnatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

They are learning in the real world, not an imitation of it.

And isn’t that what school really is? It is a building designed for the purpose of teaching children what the world looks like through textbooks, worksheets, and the occasional documentary, but school policy very rarely goes so far as to actually let the students venture out into the world that the education department feels is so important.

At this point, some people may chime in and say:

But what about socialization? Kids need to be around other kids if they’re going to know how to act in the real world.

I understand the concern in this claim, but again, let’s think critically. Are there only children in the real world? When a child grows up and gets a job, will they only be working with other people around the same age and living in the same neighborhood? Taking these factors into account, I think it would be safe to say that homeschooled kids- all kids- need to be around other people in order to know how to act in the real world. And that is precisely what homeschoolers are doing.

They are visiting their lonely, elderly neighbors and listening to them reminisce about days gone by. They are baking cookies for the local firemen, police officers, and librarians to say, “Thank you for what you do.” They’re having friendly conversations with cashiers who now know them by name. And, yes.They are playing with the kids in the neighborhood everyday after school lets out.

Suffice it to say that the notion of kids needing to be in school in order to learn about life should be one of the most easily debunked and, in fact, should possibly be looked at the other way around. Maybe it is the kids in school who need the opportunity to experience life in its truest form- a life lived through experiences, not worktexts.

 

Linking up with:

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal

 

So What If We’re Socially Awkward?

(Originally posted in 2014)

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     But what about socialization?? Ah…the overused homeschool stereotype. The socially awkward child. You know the type. Those unsocialized homeschooled kids…drooling, shoes untied, shirt buttoned wrong, fly open…yeah, those kids. What? You’ve never met a homeschooler like that? Well, neither have I.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole ”socially awkward” homeschoolers thing. And you know what?? Judging by what I see where we live, we are socially awkward. Thank God.
     My children and I frequently go for walks…when there’s not twelve feet of snow on the ground. (Okay…I’m exaggerating. Ten feet.;-) ) Anyway, while we’re out, we usually pass by kids walking home from the middle school by our house. What an excellent way to reinforce our homeschooling decision! I honestly can’t believe the stuff I hear these kids saying. It upsets me…what kind of guidance do these kids have? And homeschooling critics think I should send my kids to school to get socialized?? No thank you.
So, as a retort to those who like to stick to stereotypes, I’ve come up with a new definition of ”socially awkward.”

Socially awkward– (adj..) not being inclined to conform to the norms of society; i.e.:

– having respect for parents and other authority figures

– refraining from using foul and demeaning language

– (usually) enjoying the company of siblings and other family members

– refraining from talking about drug use and promiscuity as if they were suitable goals to attain

– finding value and even enjoyment in menial tasks, such as cooking, sewing, and baking

That is my definition. I’m not saying that all of the public school kids that we encounter are like this. My children do have a few friends who are genuinely great kids. Unfortunately, in our city, moral values have been steadily declining for years. And we’ve got to remember- it all starts in the home.
I once was walking home with my daughter from a doctor appointment. There was a woman walking across the street with two young girls- one about middle school age, the other a bit younger. The woman was on the phone; then she abruptly hung up. She immediately turned to the girls and started screaming at them using all sorts of profanities. By this point, we had crossed the street and were walking behind them. Her outburst lasted several minutes until we turned and went down another street. I remember my daughter looking at me, eyes as wide as saucers. She was shocked.
A few weeks later, at Walmart, another woman had a similar outburst but to an even younger boy. Is this becoming the norm?
     I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been happier to be socially awkward. And maybe I’ll start taking some of these kids under my wing and teach them how to be socially awkward, too.

What about you? Is your family socially awkward?
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Free Famous Inventors/Invention Unit study

As a busy mom of eleven, I have become the queen of finding the simplest ways to do seemingly difficult tasks. Homeschooling is one of them. Although the prospect of teaching multiple children may seem daunting to some, I have found a wonderful reprieve in using unit studies. Right now, I am using unit studies with all of my elementary age children, and it makes things so much easier.

Recently, after using the same Creation Science unit study for twelve weeks, my children and I grew bored with it, but, unfortunately, I didn’t have any other unit study curricula we hadn’t already used. After searching online for free unit studies, I became a little discouraged because the vast majority of them rely heavily on printable worksheets, and, while that may work for some, I knew my kids would quickly tire of those studies, as well.

Out of sheer desperation, I decided to write my own unit study, and, surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. I eventually ended up writing several, all of which I did end up using, and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

Today I’d like to share with you the very first unit study I wrote, “Famous Inventors/Inventing.” This study is meant to last approximately 2-3 weeks, but you can always have the option of shortening it or stretching it out as you see fit. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

 

 

Famous Inventors/Inventing

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Recommended Resources:

Did You Invent the Phone Alone, Alexander Graham Bell?– Melvin and Gilda Berger
Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?– Margaret Frith
Inventions- FAQ– Valerie Wyatt
Ben Franklin and His First Kite– Stephen Krensky
The Many Lives of Benjamin Franklin– Aliki
So You Want to Be an Inventor?– Judith St. George
Imitating Nature- From Bat Sonar to Canes for the Blind– Toney Allman
Imitating Nature- From Bug Legs to Walking Robots– Toney Allman
Imitating Nature- From Barbs on a Weed to Velcro– Toney Allman
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory– Roald Dahl
khanacademy.com/engineering

Vocabulary:

invention         vibration             helicopter
invent                incandescent    airplane
phonograph     engineer             creativity
telephone         bioengineer       resilient
electricity         print                    determination
experiment      calendar             automobile
telegraph          lightning            genius
patent                machine             ingenuity
laboratory        submarine          lightbulb

Famous Inventors:

– Thomas Edison
– Alexander Graham Bell
– Benjamin Franklin
– Nikola Tesla
– Orville and Wilbur Wright
– Samuel Morse
– Henry Ford
– Leonardo Da Vinci
– George Washington Carver
– Johannes Gutenberg
– Eli Whitney

Activities:

1. Read So You Want to Be an Inventor?, then brainstorm new invention ideas. (Language Arts, History, Science)

2. Create a word scramble out of selected vocabulary words. (Language Arts)

3. Read a biography of an inventor of your choice. (History, Science)

4. Research an inventor and write a short biography. (History, Science, Language Arts)

5. When inventors apply for a patent, they submit a drawing and short description of their idea to the patent office. Choose a favorite invention idea from Activity 1, draw it, and write a short description. (Language Arts, Art, Science, Social Studies)

6. Thomas Edison worked on a train in his youth. Learn about trains and how they work. (History, Science)

7. Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Discuss the meaning of this quote. (Language Arts, Character)

8. Use Activity 7 to inspire a discussion on percentages. (Math)

9. Using common household items, build a 3-D model of invention idea from Activities 1 and 5. (Science, Art)

10. Research Samuel Morse and learn how to tap out your name in Morse Code. (History)

11. Thomas Edison’s mother provided him with a basement laboratory. It was filled with, among other things, empty jars and bottles, feathers, and rocks. Create a temporary lab in the kitchen or basement and experiment using materials similar to Edison’s in addition to: a magnifying glass or microscope, baking soda, vinegar, corn starch, and other household items. (Science)

12. Cut out individual letters from various magazines or advertisements and glue them to a piece of paper to spell out vocabulary words. (Language Arts)

13. Create “goo” by combining a box of corn starch, water, and food coloring (optional). Add water a little at a time and stir in a cake pan until it is the consistency of mayonnaise. This can be found on page 31 of Inventions- FAQ by Valerie Wyatt. (Science)

14. Write a story about an inventor using vocabulary words. (Language Arts)

15. Read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a family read aloud. (Literature)

16. Copy a page of a book by hand, then discuss how Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press not only made the creation of books far easier, but also inspired people to learn to read since books became much more accessible. (Language Arts, History, Social Studies)

17. Create a “mini-bot” by using double-sided tape to attach a cell phone vibrator and a button cell battery to the bottom of a very small toy. One wire from the vibrator should be under the battery. Attach the other wire to a piece of double-sided tape and stick it to the top of the battery. The toy should “run” around the floor. (Science)

18. Read about the Wright Brothers’ various attempts to achieve flight. (Science, History)

19. The Wright Brothers achieved flight in Kitty Hawk, NC. Find this on a map. (History, Geography)

20. Using a map of the US, measure the distance from your house to Kitty Hawk, NC and calculate how long it would take to travel there at 60 MPH. (Math, Geography)

21. Visit a toy or candy factory and observe the machinery used to create their products. Prepare a list of questions to ask beforehand. (Field Trip, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts)

22. Research Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and write a paper discussing the pros and cons of this invention. (History, Language Arts, Social Studies)

23. Read about Leonardo Da Vinci’s “prophetic” inventions, which never came to fruition until centuries after his death. (History, Science)

24. Study some of Da Vinci’s most famous “inventions,” such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. (Art)

25. Draw inspiration from Da Vinci’s work and paint an artistic masterpiece. (Art)

26. While Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, he did come up with the assembly line. Try making something that takes several steps (a sandwich, a simple foam craft, breaded chicken fingers, etc.) alone, then try again using an assembly line. Which was more efficient? (Critical Thinking, History)

27. George Washington Carver was known as the “Peanut Scientist.” Read about his life and enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (History)

28. Make a lapbook to showcase finished work from this study. Use your artistic talents to decorate it scrapbook-style. (Art)

 

 

 

 

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The Unschool Experiment

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Wow. It’s been about two years since I wrote my last post, and looking back, all I can think is, “My! How times have changed!” If you’re familiar with this blog, you will probably remember that the vast majority of my posts dealt with my concepts about unschooling and how we were integrating it into our lives. That time of my life is something that I now refer to as “The Unschool Experiment.”

A fair amount of time has passed since then, and my views on this homeschooling method have changed a bit. But first…let me tell you a little story.

John Holt, considered to be the Father of Unschooling is, by far, one of my favorite authors, and I find his ideas about the education of children to be altogether inspiring and quite beautiful. I discovered his books during a period in my life when I was experiencing some homeschool burnout and was looking for a more peaceful way for my children to learn at home.

Holt is a firm believer in a child’s natural ability to learn on their own, especially if they are freed from the trappings of conventional schooling. If a baby is able to learn to crawl, walk, and talk without any formal lessons, then it is only plausible that, if given the opportunity, a child can learn anything they value and deem necessary without any sort of outside coercion.

It was with these ideas in my head that I set out for us to become an unschooling family. Looking back, the first year of our “unschooling” endeavor was actually a bit more like relaxed homeschooling. We had some routines I was unwilling to let go of, such as family read-alouds, silent reading, and formal math curriculum. (Okay. Life of Fred. Not very formal but certainly more formal than most unschoolers would approve of.) Regardless, we were certainly doing less assigned work than we did in the past and much less than most other homeschoolers we knew, so, to me, we were unschoolers.

Eventually, I began to immerse myself in books and blogs about radical unschooling. As a Christian, some of their principles were quite alien and shocking to me, but I slowly began to fall for the blissful writings of these authors and figured that maybe if I let go of any structure at all, we would have this amazing, peaceful life where my children would be happily doing science experiments, reading great literature, and writing novels without any prompting from me.

At first, my children were elated. You mean we don’t even have to do math or listen to you read? Nope. Not even that.

I spent months waiting expectantly for my children to surprise me with ingenious inventions and innovative entrepreneurial ideas. It didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong. There were certainly moments when one of my kids would astonish me with something particularly unexpected, such as when my daughter built a working candy machine out of Legos. But these moments were few and far between. A very large amount of time was being spent on nothing more than watching YouTube videos and bickering over whose turn it was on the phone.

I tried to be patient and kept repeating to myself, Just say yes more! Maybe they needed to deschool some more, or maybe I was failing to see the value in what they were doing.
It may have been either of these things, but once family relationships started suffering and our house turned into complete chaos, I finally gave in and admitted to myself that this just wasn’t working. This “blissful path” I set my hopes on was not what our family needed, and it was far from blissful.

I am not going to go so far as to say that unschooling never works. I’m sure it does for many people, but it clearly does not work for everyone.

Our family needs the structure that accompanies our homeschooling days. We need to know what is going to happen when, and it is such an advantage to have activities planned to keep my kids busy for a couple hours a day.

I am no longer the rigid homeschool mom I once was, but I’m also not willing to let my kids have total sovereignty over their education.

Right now I am in the middle of writing a book on the practicalities of homeschooling, and I would like to share this thought I expressed in it with you today:

“There has to be a point that a parent will concede that this method just may not work for their child. As parents, educating our own children is not only a right but a privilege, and we must see to it that we are holding up our end of the bargain.”

And think about it…do our kids deserve anything less?

 

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The Unschool Experiment

Wow. It’s been about two years since I wrote my last post, and looking back, all I can think is, “My! How times have changed!” If you’re familiar with this blog, you will probably remember that the vast majority of my posts dealt with my concepts about unschooling and how we were integrating it into our lives. That time of my life is something that I now refer to as “The Unschool Experiment.”

A fair amount of time has passed since then, and my views on this homeschooling method have changed a bit. But first…let me tell you a little story.

John Holt, considered to be the Father of Unschooling is, by far, one of my favorite authors, and I find his ideas about the education of children to be altogether inspiring and quite beautiful. I discovered his books during a period in my life when I was experiencing some homeschool burnout and was looking for a more peaceful way for my children to learn at home.

Holt is a firm believer in a child’s natural ability to learn on their own, especially if they are freed from the trappings of conventional schooling. If a baby is able to learn to crawl, walk, and talk without any formal lessons, then it is only plausible that, if given the opportunity, a child can learn anything they value and deem necessary without any sort of outside coercion.

It was with these ideas in my head that I set out for us to become an unschooling family. Looking back, the first year of our “unschooling” endeavor was actually a bit more like relaxed homeschooling. We had some routines I was unwilling to let go of, such as family read-alouds, silent reading, and formal math curriculum. (Okay. Life of Fred. Not very formal but certainly more formal than most unschoolers would approve of.) Regardless, we were certainly doing less assigned work than we did in the past and much less than most other homeschoolers we knew, so, to me, we were unschoolers.

Eventually, I began to immerse myself in books and blogs about radical unschooling. As a Christian, some of their principles were quite alien and shocking to me, but I slowly began to fall for the blissful writings of these authors and figured that maybe if I let go of any structure at all, we would have this amazing, peaceful life where my children would be happily doing science experiments, reading great literature, and writing novels without any prompting from me.

At first, my children were elated. You mean we don’t even have to do math or listen to you read? Nope. Not even that.

I spent months waiting expectantly for my children to surprise me with ingenious inventions and innovative entrepreneurial ideas. It didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong. There were certainly moments when one of my kids would astonish me with something particularly unexpected, such as when my daughter built a working candy machine out of Legos. But these moments were few and far between. A very large amount of time was being spent on nothing more than watching YouTube videos and bickering over whose turn it was on the phone.

I tried to be patient and kept repeating to myself, Just say yes more! Maybe they needed to deschool some more, or maybe I was failing to see the value in what they were doing.
It may have been either of these things, but once family relationships started suffering and our house turned into complete chaos, I finally gave in and admitted to myself that this just wasn’t working. This “blissful path” I set my hopes on was not what our family needed, and it was far from blissful.

I am not going to go so far as to say that unschooling never works. I’m sure it does for many people, but it clearly does not work for everyone.

Our family needs the structure that accompanies our homeschooling days. We need to know what is going to happen when, and it is such an advantage to have activities planned to keep my kids busy for a couple hours a day.

I am no longer the rigid homeschool mom I once was, but I’m also not willing to let my kids have total sovereignty over their education.

Right now I am in the middle of writing a book on the practicalities of homeschooling, and I would like to share this thought I expressed in it with you today:

“There has to be a point that a parent will concede that this method just may not work for their child. As parents, educating our own children is not only a right but a privilege, and we must see to it that we are holding up our end of the bargain.”

And think about it…do our kids deserve anything less?