Apr 27

Rock Collecting

Have you ever used any of the following idioms?

  • as solid as a rock
  • between a rock and a hard place
  • be on the rocks
  • rock bottom

Rocks are everywhere. Many kids enjoy collecting rocks. I love rocks and I am a grown-up. My daughter loves to pick up rocks when we are traveling to various places. She tries to find unique rocks.

You can find rocks along the side of a quiet country road, by a river stream, in your backyard, or at the local park. You might even want to plan a rock hunting field trip if you get serious about rock collecting. Lots of people collect things–rocks, stamps, spoons, coins, dolls–just to name a few.

So think about teaching a unit on rocks.

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Apr 09


Mom, can I have this? I need a new set of headphones for my iPod. Mom, when you go to the store, will you pick up _____ for me? You fill in the blank on that one.

How many of you have heard or are hearing statements like these all day long in your house? What is a parent to do? For starters, teach a unit about money during math. Then move on to lessons about finance needs for a family and for a young adult. If we teach our children how to budget starting from an early age, we are setting them up for greater success in their financial lives as an adult.

Kids need a solid foundation about the real world. They need to know what it takes to be financially sound. If everything is handed to them when they are young, they will not be able to survive as an adult. They will always need Mom and Dad to help support them.

Do your child a huge favor and teach them how to set up a budget for their allowance, if you give an allowance. Even if you do not give an allowance, teach a mini lesson in which they make and set up a pretend budget to follow for a month. They will thank you when they are out on their own.

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Mar 25


Testing is a huge thing in the United States these days with No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I think it has caused major problems in the public schools rather than help make sure all the kids are learning everything they need.

It has led to teachers cheating so they can hold on their job. It has put too much pressure on them and the kids they teach. Students are shortchanged because so much as been taken away so they can focus on teaching the test.

NCLB is a great reason to homeschool. We have done public schooling and homeschooling. Homeschool wins hands-down. Sadly, many public school teachers are frustrated and their hands are tied. Some flat do not care about the kids. We have experienced both.

The homeschool laws in my state require us to test every three years; however, we don’t have any pressure to perform to a certain level or standard. The test results we get are more accurate since I don’t teach to the test. It truly shows strengths and any areas of weakness. I use the results to fine-tune our goals for the next year.

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Mar 06

Study Your State

Studying your US state can be very interesting for the whole family. You will learn things you never knew. It is also easy to incorporate math, spelling, writing and so forth in the study. One fun way to learn about your state is by making a timeline. You can also make a notebook with facts. Here are some facts to include in the notebook.

  • State name
  • Capital
  • State nickname
  • State motto
  • State flower
  • State bird
  • State tree
  • State song
  • Name of the Governor, U.S. Senators, U.S., Representatives, and the number of Electoral votes
  • Largest Cities by population and/or area
  • Year your state joined the union
  • Location (what US region)
  • Major industry
  • Manufacturing
  • Major crops
  • National parks
  • National memorials
  • Historical sites
  • Historical facts
  • Famous people
  • State wonders (waterfalls, lakes, volcanoes, etc)
  • State monuments
  • Tourist attractions
  • Climate
  • Average temperatures in January and July

Some other fun things to do are to make a salt-dough map. Be sure to include hills, rivers, etc. Find out how far it is from one end of the state to the other. Find out how far it is North to South and East to West. Given the speed limit, how many hours/days would it take to cross your state? Go bird watching and try to find your state bird. Collect leaves from native trees. Design a billboard to entice people to come visit your state or a specific location in your state.

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Feb 24


I bet your kids have complained about not wanting to do school at one time or another. “School is not fun! I want to play my DS. I wish I could just play games today.” I bet you sometimes reply, “School is not supposed to be fun everyday!” How close am I?

You can make school a little more fun by adding games into your daily lessons. There are good educational flash-based games available for your kids to play on the Internet. Most are free. You might even use them as an incentive for completing work for the day. If they do all their assignments that day, they can earn X amount of free time to play educational games.

You might also try lapbooking and making timelines to add interest to your lessons. Hands-on activities and science experiences are always winners. Another idea is to play board games like Scrabble, Apples to Apples, Life, Monopoly, and so forth. If you have access to a Geo Safari, your kids will enjoy playing it and it is a great teaching tool.

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Feb 06


The Earth is a large biome. There are lots of different environments with different temperature, moisture, light, and so on. Each of the areas or habitats has different animals and plants living in it. This makes complex communities. Each community of plants and animals within each region or habitat is called a biome.

Biomes are ecosystems where several habitats intersect. There are smaller biomes, which include grasslands, desert, aquatic, tundra, and rainforest.

The biomes on Earth have changed over the course of history. Some of the change comes because of man altering the habitat. Because of this, we need to be more aware of ways to conserve biomes in our community.

Biomes are naturally occurring, but you can create a controlled biome. The Biosphere 2 is a famous manmade biome. Try making your own biome and observing what happens.

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Jan 21


Do you fight the motivation battle at times in your homeschooling? I have. Whenever your kids seem unmotivated to do their schoolwork, stop and examine the situation. Try to isolate the main reasons.

Here are a few suggestions for motivating your kids:

  • Ask your children for input when you are thinking about courses of study. Let them tell you thing they are interested in learning. They are far more motivated to learn about something they are interested in.
  • Take frequent breaks or break work down into smaller chunks.
  • Take fun and interesting field trips.
  • Have school outside sometimes.
  • Use rewards and praise.
  • Discover your child’s learning style and teach to it.
  • Show enthusiasm, it’s contagious you know.
  • Always remember, this is NOT public school. Do things your way, not the public school way.
  • Have faith in your kids and let them know it.
  • Encourage your kids to learn a new hobby. They will enjoy researching it and learning about it.
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Jan 08

Write Away

By the third grade, your child should be writing quite a bit. To encourage independent writing, put together a writing station for your child. Your child will be able to carry the writing station to their bedroom, the living room, outside, or wherever they choose.

Find a plastic or rubber-maid carrying tote to store the supplies. The tote should have a handle and some compartments. Since the tote is small, storage is not a problem. Let your child use permanent markers (sharpies) to decorate the tote.

You will have to consider the things that interest your child when deciding what types of things to put in the reading station. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Stationery and writing paper
  2. Pens, pencils, crayons, and markers
  3. Erasers and a pencil sharpener
  4. Memo pads or index cards–great for short notes or to record quick ideas
  5. Stickers-great for decorating a story
  6. Manila file folders-used to store stories and to hold the stationery and writing paper
  7. Dictionary
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Dec 22

Internet Safety

Kids love surfing the Internet. As the parent, it is your job to make sure there is internet safety for kids. Cyber bullying, chat rooms, pedophiles, companies tracking you as you hop from site to site…there are tons of reasons to monitor Internet usage by kids.

Verify once a month that all the following are deleted:

  • Cookies
  • History
  • Temporary internet files and passwords

Verify that your anti-virus and malware software are current and run a full system scan.

Internet Safety Tips for Children

By Jerry Ropelato

Internet safety policies and guidelines can help make the Internet a safer experience for your family members.

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Place your computer in an open room with the monitor facing out. This allows you to see and control what is occurring on the Internet.
  • Educate your children about the Internet, both the positives and the potential dangers.
  • Bookmark child-friendly web sites. This allows your children to easily get to safe sites that they have used before.
  • Teach your children that Internet safety means never giving out personal information over the Internet.
  • Share your Internet child safety experiences, both good and bad, with others.
  • Teach your children to refrain from chat rooms.
  • Don’t install Peer-to-peer applications. A high percentage of what occurs with children and peer-to-peer applications is related to either illegal or immoral activities.
  • Teach children to crash and tell. If they encounter a bad experience, they should feel comfortable in immediately turning off the computer and talking with a parent about the experience.
  • Never allow your children to meet with someone from an online session unless the parent approves.
  • Know the parents of your children’s friends.
  • Teach children to never open email from someone they don’t know.
  • Never respond to an unsubscribe on a pornographic email. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing, of a sexual nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your ISP, and ask for assistance.
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Dec 04


Winter is a great time to include fun seasonal words in your child’s spelling list. You can include cold words, Christmas words, Valentine words and more. One of the benefits of homeschooling is flexible learning. That flexibility includes choosing your own spelling words and creating lists based on the season or the topic you are currently studying.

A child who has trouble learning spelling words might benefit from you teaching the words visually. Have your child draw a picture of the word on an index card and flip the card over to write the word in color on the back. Vowels or tricky combinations should be in a contrasting color. My daughter did well learning her words visually. There are lots of fun ways for a visual-spatial learner to practice spelling words.

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