Household Chores Can be Fun School Projects – We Hope :-)

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March 16, 2009

cleaning_s

It’s not homeschooling that is so hard, per se, it’s all the extra housework.  My house is being lived in, spilled in, colored in, eaten in, and on and on, all day long, when most other kids are in school.  This means more housework that the average family.

How is all this extra housework a plus?

  • Responsibility:  The kids are tortured blessed with many more opportunities to learn to clean up after themselves and take care of their things than their school-going friends.  Seriously, though, you have to work out a way to share the household responsibilities if you don’t want to dissappear under mountains of laundry.  I think this is valuable life training for the kids that teaches them accountability, how to self-start, and prepares them for that first college dorm or apartment of their own.

Here are some ideas to make it fun:

Sorting: 

Don’t waste school time doing sorting worksheets in a math book when you have real life!  When you start looking you’ll be amazed how much of your housework is sorting!

  • Sorting groceries – When you come home from shopping make putting away the groceries a sorting game.  Throw in a timer and if everything is on it’s right shelf before time is up, share a treat or game together.  (Knowing where all the ingredients are comes in handy next time you send someone for a can of something while cooking dinner.)
  • Sorting laundry – Start when their young, and kids actually think playing the “Who’s shirt is this?” game is fun.  A bit of silliness pretending Daddy’s shirt belongs to the baby goes a long way with the 3-year-old crowd.
  • Sorting toys into containers of ‘sets’ like Legos, cars, outdoor toys, etc.
  • Sorting everything off the floor of their room into separate piles:  clothing, toys, trash, books, and bedding.

“I can do it myself.” 

Kid’s may stop saying this after age 2, but I don’t believe they stop thinking it.  I think kids of all ages long to feel appreciated for their work and have confidence that they can do a challenging task well.  Here are a few ideas to share the household work at the same time you help your children to learn:

  • Picking out clothes to wear – Get over your fashion sense and let your kids wear what they can pick out and put on themselves.  If there are some particularly horrendous choices, you may want to do a clothing class about plaids, patterns, and colors and which ones go together the best – but at a different time than when they are dressing.
  • Cooking, plus how to use the stove and a sharp knife – These are great skills and confidence builders for the ‘Tween’ crowd.  Plus, food preparation takes a huge chunk of a busy mom’s time.  Share the duties as soon as your kids are able.  Check out this article about the lessons kids learn in the kitchen.
  • Encourage older kids to help out younger siblings:  Reading stories, with their ‘chores’ like cleaning up toys, getting dressed, playing games with them, etc.  They develop confidence and responsibility, plus it helps develop close relationships between siblings.
  • Event planning:  Put the kids in charge of planning their own birthday party, a playdate, parts of a vacation.  It may be extra work teaching them how to do it the first few times, but it will pay off in less work later and again, more confidence building life skills for your kids.

Basically, homeschooling is life and life is homeschooling.  If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to get done, stop doing it by yourself.  Look at your kids, involve them in your life, your work, your chores.  You are a family making a home and learning about life together, not by yourself.  And, amazingly, you’ll find that common household tasks have a lot to teach your children.  Here are some from our house:

making_ointment

Making herbal ointment 

harvest

Picking garden veggies.

bread

Pounding bread is a favorite at our house!  Check out the following video:

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Posted under Homeschool Activities, Parenting

Is Chemistry Confusing You? Try Chem4Kids.

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March 13, 2009

test_tubes_sWould you like to see a picture of crystalline iron found only in meteorites?  Check out these real word examples of elements on Chem4Kids website – a site dedicated to helping teach chemistry concepts to kids.

Here is some of what Chem4Kids has:

Enjoy browsing their site!

As always, though, I think science for kids is best experienced first hand with experiments.  Do you have any good ‘kitchen table’ chemistry ideas?

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Posted under Science Curriculum, Science Websites

Junk Mail, Collages, and Fun Art Class Projects.

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March 12, 2009

flower_doll_s1

“Doll Faces Flower”  by Brooke

Here’s and ‘oldie but goodie’ idea next time you’re looking for a hands-on art activity: 

Collages!  Remember how much fun we had doing those in elementary school?  Ok, we didn’t have glue sticks back then, and I remember eating the glue paste (it smelled so good!), but it’s still a great activity.  It’s fun, cheap, easy, and best of all, minimal mess.

  1. Gather up old magazines, newspapers, catalogs, preferably for things your kids are interested in like the American Girl Catalog for my daughter.
  2. Pass out paper, scissors, and a extra glue sticks.
  3. Let them cut and glue to their hearts content.
  4. You can suggest ‘Themes’ like the flower my daughter made from doll heads, making a car by finding and cutting out all the parts from different vehicles, making people, fantasy characters, even new Pokemon characters by cutting and glue various parts together.
  5. It’s also some great pattern opportunities including biggest to smallest, sorting, venn diagrams, etc.

Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite ‘easy’ hands-on and art activities?  I can always use more, especially when the kids are cooped up inside by the weather!

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Posted under Art Curriculum, Homeschool Crafts

Kids Cooking Ideas turn into Math Lessons

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March 11, 2009

cake_s

Blueberry pie cups, carrot cake, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (batch #1 VERY salty), and biscuits a bit like hocky pucks?

Guess what my 9-year-old has been doing for school this week?  Well in a bit of a fit, we threw our school work out the window (figuratively) and decided to try doing a ‘Project Week’.  My idea.  So, the older two kids could pick anything they wanted to learn, work on, create, build, etc., and would put in some effort every day with the goal being to show and/or demonstrate what they’d done to the rest of the family at the end of the week.

We had a mis-start with a Volcano lapbook (He wouldn’t spend time on it on his own, which defeats the purpose.  So I said, “Throw it away, and pick something you really want to do this time.”).  Then I suggested he take a cookbook and pick anything he wanted to make and do one recipe a day.  Success!  He loves poring through the book and making anything he wants, preferably desserts!

How is this school?  What could he possibly be learning?

  • How to read fractions.  (math)
  • How to read measurements.  1t of salt is NOT the same as 1T of salt.  A partially filled cup of flour is not the same as 1 C of flour. (math, again)
  • How to be careful around sharp knives, hot stoves, food processor blades.  (safety, operating small equipment, electricity, heat transfer, science, responsibility)
  • “Why is cooking even worth it if no likes what you make and throws it in the garbage?”  He says, with tears in his eyes after the very salty ‘gaggy’ cookies. (So, empathy for Mom cooking all these years)
  • Following a recipe.  (reading comprehension, sequenced directions)
  • All stages of a project:  planning, preparation, execution, and clean-up. 
  • (Here’s the clean-up rule that works for us:  I come into the kitchen like a detective trying to find some evidence that he was cooking.  When I can’t, he’s done.  Except for the finished food, of course, which my son informed me is also evidence he was cooking.  Hmmph!  Kids are such lawyers!) 
  • Seeing your work appreciated, when we all devoured the pies, cakes, and 2nd batch of cookies.  (achievement, accomplishment, pride in new ‘adult’ skills, growing up)
  • And best of all, spending time doing something you enjoy, serves others, and is school, all at the same time.

(I’m hoping we can transition him to a love of good EXERCISE programs after this cooking stint!)

How to you get your kids involved in the kitchen and cooking?  Any good tips?

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Posted under Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Life

Homeschool Carnival with a School Supply Theme!

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March 10, 2009

pencils_s

Renae has put together a bunch of great homeschool articles around the theme of her top 10 school supplies: HERE. It’s a fun read. As homeschoolers, we have to create the whole school environment on our own, so we’re always on a look out for good supplies.

It’s funny, but I’m looking at two new, unopened packages of bright yellow highlighters sitting by my phone. I couldn’t resist buying them because they, one, cost only pennies in a great sale, and two, I homeschool, so I have a lasting attraction to office supplies. A double whammie!  And now they sit there, waiting for some project that could possibly need twelve highlighters.  I have to remember my mom’s council a bit more, “It’s only a deal if you need it!”  🙂

Enjoy!

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Posted under Blog Carnivals

Some Great Ideas About Teaching Math and Multiplication!

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March 10, 2009

calculator_s

Need some math inspiration?  (We’ve often hit points where it doesn’t seem like anything we’re doing is working)

Check out the latest ‘Math Teachers At Play” Carnival for some new ideas.  She has gathered posts on Elementary Concepts, Arithmetic, Basic Algebra and Geometry, Advanced Math, Math Puzzles, and Teaching Math.

Sometimes it pays to try something totally different.  I’ll post about our latest math and school experiment tomorrow.  Enjoy

Have you tried any new math ideas that have worked well?  I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!

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Posted under Blog Carnivals, Math Websites

Not Sure if a Book is Appropriate? Check The Literate Mother.

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March 9, 2009

book_s

It’s a big milestone when your children finally start reading books on their own just for fun.  But, my son quickly followed in my footsteps and started checking out stacks of books to read.  So, how can I get some idea of what he’s reading and if there are topics I need to discuss with him or ask him to avoid reading?

Well these two awesome moms have put together reviews and ratings for lots of children and teen books on The Literate Mother website

They have personally read each book and given it a 0 to 5 rating for:

  1. language
  2. violence
  3. sexual content
  4. adult themes

They want to help parents and teacher be informed about book content so they can suggest, discourage, or be prepared to discuss reading material.  Thank you!

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Posted under Books to Read, Language Art Websites

Looking for Ideas for Homeschool Hands-On Projects?

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March 9, 2009

hands_s

Here’s a great blog carnival article with a collection of all kinds of hands-on homeschool projects:  Rock collecting, making paper, sculpting with discarded materials, plus my own playdough making tutorial, and more.  A nice collection of articles to get the ideas flowing.  Enjoy!
Do you have a favorite hands-on activity? Or a link to one? Please share 🙂

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Posted under Blog Carnivals, Homeschool Crafts

Toddler Lessons – Try a Shape Hunt!

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March 6, 2009

dice_s
What do dice, small Kleenex boxes, a Jack-in-the-box, and a red wooden block have in common?  Well, besides part of the mess all over the living room floor 🙂

They are all cubes!

So try this next time your toddler or pre-school age child is pulling on your pant leg and begging for attention while you’re trying to help the other 4 children with their school.

Send him or her on a Shape Hunt!

  • Pick a household example of a cube, sphere, cone, cylinder, pyramid, tetrahedron, or rectangular prism/cuboid.  Ie. soda cans, funnels, boxes, balls, sticks, etc.
  • Show it to your child and explain the characteristics of the shape.
  • Send them off to find other examples in the house.
  • Choose a tally/reward for each item found:  a small treat, a sticker on a page, a check mark on a chart, or make a chart and have them draw a small picture of each item they bring back in the coresponding section.
  • When you’re done display their chart proudly on the fridge.
  • Play the shape game as a distraction at the grocery car, during car drives, on the church bench . . . ok, I’m thinking of way too many places my pre-schooler is bored and needs distracting.

What fun ideas do you have for this age?  I find my 3-year-old gets impatient and bored when I’m trying to help the older kids.  I’d love some more ideas!!

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Posted under Toddler Tips

Last Chance for the Iditarod – It starts Saturday!

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March 5, 2009

dog_sled_s

If you’re looking for a fun idea for school these next couple weeks, try following the Iditarod Race which starts in two days – Saturday, Mar. 7th.

Learn about and follow the race at:

And don’t forget the great E-Iditarod Project that starts every year in January and involves the kids making a map of Alaska, selecting a musher and team to follow, and following the progress of their team on the race by posting to a blog as ‘their’ team reaches each checkpoint.  Here we are making our map of Alaska for the project:

drawing_map

Enjoy!

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Posted under Homeschool Activities, Social Studies Websites