Top 10 Signs You’re a Clutter-oholic – Thursday Topics

July 23, 2009

photo by asteegabo

photo by asteegabo

Homeschooling adds more time with kids at home, plus school supplies for the whole family = clutter trouble!

Since we’re on a de-cluttering theme this week, I thought I’d add a little humor – feel free to add to the list:

10 Signs You’re a Clutter-oholic

  1. You don’t startle at thunder, because you’re used to random loud noises when something in the house crashes to the floor from it’s precarious perch at the top of a pile.
  2. You love garage sales, always bring treasures home . . . and they never leave.  You shrug off your spouse’s questions about when you’re going to have a garage sale to get rid of all your junk.  (It’s NOT junk!)
  3. You just pay the lost fee for the occasional library book.  If you can’t find it in the couch cushions, under the car seat, or between the bed and the wall, there’s no telling where it is.
  4. You laugh when you hear others complain about dusting.  You don’t have to dust your surfaces . . .  All of them are covered in stuff.
  5. You have to launch into the history of an item to someone who is really listening, before you can throw it away . . . much like a eulogy.  After that, it can respectfully be laid to rest.
  6. Your one bottle of furniture polish lasts you 5 years.  You rarely clean all the way down to the wood so you can use it.
  7. If asked to throw something away, continual lists of possible uses, categorized by function, run through your mind:  craft ideas, as a food item, sewn into clothing, component of a recycled sculpture, use by other children, neighbors, starving children in Africa, etc., etc.
  8. When someone mentions ‘spring cleaning’, you ask, “Which spring?” 
  9. You have thick hot pads in the kitchen to give yourself time to dance around with a hot pan from the oven until you can clear a spot to set it down.
  10. You “Wow” your husband, kids, and friends by walking straight into a pile of stuff, moving a few things aside, and emerging with the exact item they were looking for.  “Just ‘cuz it looks messy, doesn’t mean I don’t know where everything is!”

Here are some more ideas on making household chores fun.

How about you?  Do you have a ‘clutter-oholic sign’ to add to the list? 

Or maybe a suggestion to help the rest of us keep the clutter under control.  We’d love to hear what you think!

Posted under Thursday Topics, Top 10

Favorite Chapter Books Your Kids Love to Read – Thursday Topics

July 16, 2009


Have your kids discovered a chapter book or series of books that bumped them from the “Do I have to read?” stage to the “Turn off the light.  Stop reading, and go to bed!” stage?

My 7-year-old daughter is still turning her nose up at reading, so I’d love some new ideas for a ‘princess’ reader.

Here are the ones that sparked my oldest son’s love of reading:


  1. Comic books – To get over the big change from picture books to ones with pages of just text, the classic comic books were perfect for my son.  We found the hardbound “Action Comic Archives” at our local library, which I was much happier with than current comic books.
  2. magic_treehouse

  3. The Magic Treehouse Series – This series was tons of fun for my kids.  Jack and Annie discover a magic treehouse where books transport them to all kinds of places and adventures.  The series mixes a bit of history, mystery, and adventure, plus frequent illustrations that together keep things fun for a beginning reader.  I would consider them at the 1st to 2nd grade level.
  4. animorph

  5. The Animorphs Series – What a great science fiction series for kids!  The kids in the series are given the power to ‘morph’ into any animal they can touch in order to help fight alien invaders.  My son loved learning what it might be like to be a hawk or a dog first hand.  The plots are full of battles, adventures, and mysteries.  A great read.
  6. harry_potter_7

  7. And no kids ‘love of reading’ list would be complete without all 7 of the Harry Potter Series.  There is something great about seeing a 9-year-old kid curled up on the couch with a book thicker than a dictionary and loving it.

I’d love to hear your book suggestions.  My son just finished the 7th Harry Potter book and is in the middle of the Hobbit, but I need some new ideas for my boy adventurer.  Please share in the comment section.  Thanks!

Posted under Books to Read, Reading Curriculum, Thursday Topics

I Need Gift Ideas! My Kids Have Too Many Toys – Thursday Topics

July 9, 2009


photo by tomeppy

When the kids’ bedroom floors are covered with toys and I’ve got a painful imprint of a lego on the bottom of my bare foot, I vow to never buy another toy until the kids can take care of the ones they have.

What should I buy for gifts instead?  With birthdays coming up, I could really use some good gift ideas that AREN’T toys.  I’d love to find some ‘educational’ gift ideas that will keep my kids busy playing and learning, instead of toys that end up on the floor or stuffed under the bed.  Is it just wishful thinking?

Here are some ideas that have worked for me in the past:

What about you?  Is there a ‘non-toy’ gift that your kids really enjoyed?  I’d love to get some new ideas.  Please share in the comment section. 


Posted under Homeschool Tips, Thursday Topics

How Do You Get Your Kids to Enjoy Writing? Thursday Topics

July 2, 2009


Being asked to write seems to get some of the biggest groans from my 9-year-old son. (Yes, even more than math!)  He always says that he HATES to write.  I think some of his difficulties are that he doesn’t spell perfectly and has to go back and correct a lot.  He also doesn’t like how slow it is to write and the actual process of putting letters on paper with a pencil seems like too much work for him.

So, I need some help.  I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on ways you’ve helped your children get excited about writing.  I’m also trying to find something to stimulate his interest instead of assigning work he hates and grumbles about.

Here are some of my ideas (but, I could really use some more!):

  • Find a pen pal and start writing letters:  A cousin or a friend who has moved away are easy to start exchanging letters with.
  • Write and illustrate a comic book.  Since they are heavy on illustration and light on text, the actual writing is less overwhelming and the project is more fun.  A simple comic book can be made by stacking blank paper together, bending it in the middle, and stapling along the fold.
  • Pick a topic and start a blog.  It doesn’t take much computer savy to start a free blog at a site like and distant family members will love the updates.
  • Start a journal.
  • Use a story starter – sometimes a question or fantasy idea can help kids start thinking.  “What if . . .” questions are a great place to start.  Here is a fun list of story starters.

What ideas do you have? 

I was thinking my son might need something to make the actual process of writing a bit easier so he doesn’t get so impatient with how slowly he writes. 

Thank you for your help!

Posted under Thursday Topics, Writing Curriculum

Where Do You Get Ideas for a Fun Summer? Thursday Topics

June 18, 2009


It’s summer.  The kids are going crazy.  We all want to do something fun!  Here’s what I need help with:

  • Where do you find ideas for fun summer activities?
  • Looking back, what did your family enjoy doing the most in the summer?
  • How do you choose a vacation?  A location?  What to see and do on the trip?
  • And even trickier:  How do you make it fun for the teens and the littles at the same time?

Would you mind sharing with me and the other readers?

Here are my ideas:

  1. Get a science museum membership or share one.  A herd of stir-crazy kids cooped up indoors during a summer storm can be frightening 🙂
  2. Pick up a local travel guide for the family from your library for your own neighborhood.  I’m amazed sometimes about the cool things right in my area I had no idea existed.
  3. Put the kids in charge of mini-vacations, not the 3-year-old, but maybe a 7-year-old with a lot of help.  Let them do as much of the following as they can:  (Here’s how this is school)
  • Tell them if they can find a fun place to visit within a day’s drive, you’ll make a mini-vacation of it.
  • You could do one a month in the summer with a different kid in charge each time.
  • Research locations, events, and history for the trip at the library.
  • Buy the tickets to any events or activities.
  • Calculate mileage.
  • Print the Google maps.
  • Make online hotel reservations (WOW, Mom!  $100 for ONE night at a hotel?!?).
  • Make a to do list
  • Make a packing list
  • Help younger kids pack and check their bags.
  • Etc.

(I got tired just typing that list – kids just don’t appreciate how much work it is to make sure they have a good time!  They’ll probably think it’s all fun, for a while.)

I’d love to hear your ideas.  Thanks in advance for commenting!  Feel free to post a link to a blog article you’ve posted on the topic.

Posted under Field Trips, Thursday Topics

What is your Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculum? Thursday Topics

May 28, 2009

Photo by D3 Dan

What’s your favorite math curriculum?  It seems kids love one and hate the other.  I think we all would appreciate your help and advice.  Would you take a second and use the comment section to tell us what math curriculum you’ve used, what you like and don’t like about it, and where to purchase it (if you remember).  Thanks!

I personally really liked Math-U-See, but couldn’t get any of my kids to enjoy it for more than a few weeks or a month at the most.  I also will on occasion pick up my worn copy of Home Learning Year by Year, (that I reviewed here).  I’ll grab one of the kids, find their grade in the book, and we’ll run through all the things they are “supposed” to know and see if there are any gaping holes – like when I realized that since I rarely use a calendar, my kids didn’t really know much about dates and months either.  🙁
But, for simplicity, cost, and mostly painfree math, we keep coming back to a nice set of inexpensive workbooks called Math Made Easy
We tend to learn most of our math during daily activities like cooking, shopping, playing Webkinz (we used the 3-ingredient cooking to learn permutations), etc.  Then, we use the Math Made Easy workbooks to do a few pages a day of grade level math to fill in any gaps.
I like:
  • The price – around $10
  • The workload – there are usually an appropriate amount of problem to learn a concept without overworking.
  • Easy reward system with a chart and star stickers for each page completed.
  • Colorful fun pages with Diego for the little ones and superheroes for the older kids.
  • Workbooks for K through 5th which fits with our family
  • Covers the important math concepts for each grade with a balanced level of repetition. 

I don’t like:

  • They end at 5th grade
  • Some of the math fact pages are a bit repetetive – but I just ask my kids to do a few and explain to me how they did them.  If they’ve ‘got it’ they can move on.

Your turn!  What math curriculum do you like best and why?



Posted under Math Curriculum, Thursday Topics

Homeschool Teen Social Resources – Thursday Topics

May 21, 2009


A reader, Cindy, mentioned she would like to see more information for homeschooling teens, since it is pretty sparse compared to homeschool ideas for younger kids.

I don’t have any teenagers yet, but my with my oldest (9-years-old) giving me a the occasional “Whatever!”, I’m not far off 🙂

It seems a lot of kids return to school during the high school years and it is more difficult to help those who don’t, find social outlets and friends.

How do you do it?  Have you found something that works well that you could share with us?

Here are some of my ideas:

  1. Church teen groups – Depending on your religious persuasion, many churches expend special effort to help provide wholesome activities and social groups for teenagers.  If you don’t currently belong to a church, ask around and find out from friends which teen group their family really enjoys.
  2. Volunteer – Choose an area that your teen is interested in and explore the volunteer opportunities.  Ask around locally or try a site like Volunteer Match to find ideas in your area.
  3. Intern or Shadow – Again, find what your teen is interested in, and find if they can shadow someone in that field for a bit or do a summer internship.  Many careers have shadowing and/or intern programs already set up.  Check with your local high school and college career centers for more info.  (I shadowed an emergency room doctor once a week for a few months before deciding to go to medical school.  It was a great experience!)
  4. Activities at the local high school – In many states, homeschool teens are welcome to participate in team sports, electives, and extracurricular activities without having to go to the regular classes.  It’s a great way to make friends and also to find low-cost activities like band, choir, drama clubs, and team sports.
  5. Host a group – Find a topic your teen and his/her friends are interested in, and help organize get-togethers, parties, and group activities.  You could help them put together a play, invite an author in to give them some novel writing tips, provide space and materials for building and launching rockets or drawing cartoons, help them launch a group blog, send them to the movies once a week and have them write a group review and rating for the local paper . . .  The possibilities are endless, and many times all you need to do is provide a bit of direction and resources.

Online Ideas:

  1. “Homeschooling Teens” on Family Education
  2. “Why Homeschool Teens” on HSLDA
  3. Search Yahoo Groups for Homeschool Teen Groups, or start one for your area.
  4. A-Z Home’s Cool Teen Resource Page

Your turn:  What are your best ideas to help and encourage teenage homeschoolers in their social life?

Posted under Homeschool Teens, Thursday Topics

How do You Teach Multiple Ages? – Thursday Topics

May 14, 2009


“Mom, what does this mean?”

“Mom, can you check my spelling?”

“Mom, I need help.”


I know we could all use a couple clones to get everything done, and teaching multiple ages of children is often challenging.

How do you do it?  Would you share some of your best ideas with us?  Comment below or feel free to post a link to your website or blog if you’ve discussed this issue there.

Here are some of my ideas:

  1. Puzzles – These seem to keep the youngest busy for a decent stretch so you can concentrate on helping an older child.  It’s also easy to sit and ‘help’ with a puzzle while helping a second child on the other side of you with their current project.
  2. Read to each other!  Having an older child read to a younger one is a simple yet awesome idea.  The older children work on their reading skills, oration skills, and patience.  While the younger child reaps all the benefits of storytime.  Even better, they are building better relationships with each other.
  3. Projects and unit studies – Many times a project or unit study can involve all the kids on some level.  The older kids may be doing the research and documentation, while the younger help shape the volcano out of plaster of paris.
  4. Set aside individual time – I often feel like I’m running around all day with not a ton to show by the end.  Somehow I’ve spent all day with my kids and yet don’t feel like I’ve really connected with them.  Just a few weeks ago, I decided to try and spend 10 minutes a day with each child – only them.  The kids love it and really enjoy it being their time that the other kids have to respect.
  5. Delegate to the kids – Put kids in charge of their own work as much as possible and have them come give you reports on their work, instead of micromanaging it.  They can plan out their schedule, choose their projects, decide on topics.  Sure, you can help guide them, but the more they do, the more invested they are in their learning.

How do you do it?  I could use some more ideas!!!

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Posted under Thursday Topics