Compound Words

If you want to enjoy homeschool then my biggest advice is to make it fun. You can have a good time with any subject if it is enjoyable.

If you’re fighting your kid to learn any subject, trust me, it will end poorly. Sometimes just by saying we’re going to do something fun, is enough to spark some interest.

*If you’re stuck and need some help connecting with your kids, so subjects are more enjoyable, message me HERE and I can help you figure it out*

Today, for language arts we were practicing making compound words. I had a simple lesson where we reviewed what a compound word is, and then we had some great activities.

So, what is a compound word? A compound word is a combination of two independent words placed together. For example: you can take the word water and the word melon, which are two independent words, and put them together to make watermelon, which is a compound word.

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My first page in the activity pack has six words broken apart, such as back + pack = and then you draw a line to the correct picture. It’s a really great way for kids to see how a compound word works.

Then, I have nine pages of compound puzzles! You simply cut up the puzzle pieces and try to make some matches. You can do a little bit each day, or if you have a little one who loves to play you can keep going until you find all the matches.

Finally, and this was my kids’ favorite, we made our own compound word drawings.

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We took a big paper and I folded the outside edges in, so they met in the middle. I then cut little flaps in the paper, so the kids could easily open it up. Then they wrote their independent words on the outside of the flaps, drew a picture, and then when you opened up the flaps it revealed the compound word with another drawing.

If you have someone who doesn’t want to write, simply glue on the puzzle pieces onto the paper and have them draw a picture of the word.

To download your activity pack, just click on the button below!

Three Easy Ways To Make Science Fun

This is a sponsored post; I received a free copy of Do You See What I See? for review purposes, but was not required to write a positive review. Also, this post contains affiliate links; 
see my full disclosure statement here.*

I like to consider myself a “cool” mom and one of my favorite skills is the ability to make something fun. For example, we deep clean every Monday, so naturally I call it Monday Funday, and who wouldn’t want to clean the showers and toilets when it’s called Funday?!? My kids, that’s who. Anyway, even though my kids don’t always appreciate my mad skills to make stuff fun, it often comes in handy with homeschooling.

I recently read the book Do You See What I See? High Altitude Evidence of the Worldwide Flood, by Chuck Renstrom. Chuck Renstrom believes that finding fossils in high altitude confirms the story of Noah, where the earth was completely covered with water during the flood. 

I recently used this book for science. I think you can keep things simple, but still have fun and actually learn some great stuff along the way too. So, here are three ways you can use this book to make your science a bit more fun.

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Three Easy Ways To Use This Book To Make Science Fun

* Go on your own treasure hunt

This book feels like a treasure hunt. Each page has pictures of images where you can search for the fossils. You can make it a fun game by seeing who can find (pick one of the images from the book) first.

You could have your kids take turns looking through the book, find an image that they like, and then they would close it and ask everyone else if they could find it. Super simple, and doesn’t require any prep work.

*Make your own fossil

How fun to make your own fossil? You can grab some dinosaurs at the dollar store, or if you have five sons like me, and you have a ton of dinosaurs lying around the house, you can just grab those. Then you’ll need something to make the impressions in, we made play dough, but sugar cookies would be really fun to do too.

 My recipe was simple:

2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water, then mix. You can add food coloring too. I did some yellow to give it a “rocky” look.

After we made our play dough we started creating our fossils. We used their feet, their head, and if you have a small enough dinosaur, you can use their whole body.

*Explore your own backyard to see what treasures might be there

This is probably my favorite. I LOVE going on adventures! The author is from Colorado, and most of his photos were taken in his own state. How often do we think need to go far away for an adventure, when there are usually really cool things in your own area?

You could explore your own backyard, explore your neighborhood, go in the mountains and explore, or even go to a dinosaur museum. There are so many different cool places to explore in Utah, so I will just list a few that we’ve done that my kids really enjoyed.

Some of the petroglyphs from Newspaper Rock

Some of the petroglyphs from Newspaper Rock

You can’t go wrong with going to Moab. There are so many amazing rock formations and so many great hikes. Of course you need to check out Delicate Arch if you head that way. Canyonlands is in Moab too, and it has some amazing rock formations. I actually prefer south Canyonlands because you get to hike into the rocks instead of being on top of them. On your way to south Canyonlands has a great spot called Newspaper Rock. It is one of the largest known collections of petroglyphs.  

If you’re really into rocks, Topaz Mountain is great place where you can dig for your own topaz, bixbyite, and other minerals. Word of caution, it is out in the open with little to no shade, so if you go out on a hot day, like we did, make sure to have plenty of water.

Canyonlands

Canyonlands

What Age Would Like This Book?

The great thing about this book is that it works for all ages. My older children enjoyed the beautiful pictures and evidences to a truth about Noah and the flood. My younger kids loved looking through the book at the awesome images to see if they could find the fossils, or just enjoyed looking at the pictures.

My girls equally enjoyed the book as much as my boys, but if you have a big dinosaur enthusiast, they would absolutely love this.

Where To Purchase The Book?

All you need to do is click on the Amazon link, and the book will be sent right to your door! I am all about convenience. I feel tired just thinking about packing up all my seven monkeys to go somewhere. Amazon is the greatest thing in my life right now; I mean, of course after my husband and children. :) Or you can order it directly from the author’s website HERE.

Christmas World Scramble

I have a love hate relationship with technology. I love the ability to look anything up instantaneously, navigate with maps, and I even like being able to see what is going on in other peoples’ lives with social media. However, one of the things I don’t like about technology is when kids just get handed devices whenever they are bored or having a meltdown.

My husband, bless his heart, doesn’t feel the same way I do, and he enjoys playing some games with the kids on his phone. One of the games is Wordscapes. It’s a game where there are some scrambled letters and you have to find as many words as possible. Once you’ve found all the words you advance to the next level.

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I knew my kids liked playing the game, but I had no idea how much it was going to help their spelling. My cute little seven year old’s spelling has increased so much from the little that he plays the game.

I was impressed, but I also didn’t want my kids to be on screens too much, so I created my own version of the game and called it Christmas Word Scramble.

I loved the look on my little Brigham’s face when he saw that I had printed these for him, and he’s already completed a few pages. These pages are really fun for your own homeschool, or if you have any class parties to go to these would be a great idea.

You can download the game here:

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The Only Thing You Need To Homeschool

After homeschooling for over ten years I can tell you the simplest trick in teaching your kids. You need to have a good relationship with them. That’s it. Everything else can be figured out if the relationship is there first.

When I started homeschooling I did all the cutesy stuff, we made elaborate projects, and I would study before each lesson to make sure I was really teaching my kids as well as possible. But the funny thing is, they don’t even remember those lessons. What they remember are the times we had fun, the times that we bonded, and they remembered any subject that interested them.

How does one connect and make that relationship with their own monkeys? For myself, I already felt overwhelmed, too many kids, too many responsibilities, how in the world could I fit in anymore? That is when I created Minute With Mom.

The more I write, the more I realize how many weird names I have for things. I created Minute With Mom several years ago as a way to check in with my kids and their schoolwork, but it has ended up turning into so much more.

Every school day I have a Minute With Mom. I do my best to have my kids do as much as their schoolwork on their own as possible. During Minute With Mom they would go through every subject from the day before and they would tell me about what they read, we would check their math, and go over anything they needed help with.

What I didn’t know was how much my monkeys loved their one on one time. People are not supposed to interrupt us, we’re still working on that one, and it is your time to just be with mom. Most of the time it’s just us going over their school, sometimes it’s deep conversations about something they love or something they’re struggling with, but mostly it’s just us, cuddling on a couch talking and enjoying one another.

Minute With Mom has NEVER lasted only a minute. it can range anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s super rushed and sometimes we take our sweet time, there is no exact science to it.

But oh my goodness, I am seeing the fruits of my labors. I have three teenagers and two tweenagers. I have only heard horror stories about how awful teenagers are and I braced myself to get through the teens years without losing my mind, but it’s been quite the opposite. I freaking love my teens and tweens. I have a great relationship with all of them.

I am not trying to pretend that they are perfect; they are very human as am I, and both of us make mistakes. I worry about them, especially now that their choices effect them a lot more than they did when they were little, but we have built a really solid foundation, and even though we each may get frustrated with one another there hasn’t been anything that we haven’t been able to get through.

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On my last birthday everyone was going around the table and telling me what they loved about me. Every single kid (that can talk) said they knew I loved them because I spent so much time with them. Ah, melt my mommy heart!

Connecting with your own monkeys doesn’t have to be grandiose. It can just be those small and simple things. Reading with them, talking to them late at night, playing with them, basically it is just spending quality time with them.







Linking Verb Match

Did you know there are four different types of verbs? Action, linking, state of being, and helping. For me, action verbs are the easiest to find in a sentence, but how in the world do you help your kid learn what a linking verb is?

I always like to use games to help teach a concept. My kids are usually excited to play, and when they are happy and having fun they are more likely to remember what I’m trying to teach them.

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A linking verb is a verb that links a subject with the predicate without expressing action. Or, you could say it links the subject with more information about the subject. There are many linking verbs, but some of the common ones are: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. To use it in a sentence you could say, “She is beautiful.” The is linked she with beautiful.

In my Linking Verb Match I have subjects, linking verbs, and predicates on different cards. You simply turn over one of each and try to make a complete sentence. I printed mine on different colored paper, so it would be easier to keep them separated. If you want to just print yours on white paper I put little shapes on the different categories so you can keep them in the right order.

Just click the button to download the game!

Making Memories With Mother Goose

We started our new term last week. To be completely honest, I wasn’t quite prepared on Monday. I had written down what everybody would be reading, and what we would be studying as a group, but I hadn’t purchased anything. Luckily, I was able to pull a lot of the books from my own library, but there were still a few holes.

One of the holes was our poetry book. Poetry has become one of the things the little monkeys really look forward to each week, to read more about how we do poetry just go HERE. I have really enjoyed using Poetry for Young People and as an added bonus they are really affordable.

I figured that because I hadn’t actually ordered something and my monkeys were already getting the tea set out that I would just use something that we already own. Have I mentioned I have a book buying problem? Anyway, I started scouring the bookcase for a poet we haven’t studied before when I found our awesome book of The Original Mother Goose.

I thought it might be kind of fun to mix things up, and I was right, we are having a blast! There are a lot of the classic nursery rhymes in the book, but there are also some that I have never heard of that are a little bizarre and they make us laugh so hard. Two of our favorites are:

Needles and pins, needles and pins,

When a man marries his trouble begins.

and

Dear, dear! what can the matter be?

Two old women got up in an apple-tree;

One came down, and the other stayed till Saturday.

Seriously?!? We laugh so hard when we read those. We have also studied the origins of some of the most famous nursery rhymes. You can read some of those HERE. I love the memories we are creating by laughing and having “tea”.

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North Pole Nouns

I have used dozens of methods to teach my monkeys throughout the years. I have found that if I can make something fun then I can help them be more interested in learning. That’s why I created a game that is Christmas themed to review nouns.

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It’s a fun board game where you pick a card, read the noun, then decide if it’s a person, place, thing, or idea. I even included an answer sheet, so kids can play by themselves.

You've Decided To Homeschool, Now What?

As you would imagine after homeschooling for so many years I often have people come to me and tell me that they too would like to homeschool, but now they have no idea of what to do next.

They come over or call me and ask me how in the world does one actually start homeschooling. In the past I think I overwhelmed people with 10+ years of experience and let the words just vomit out of me of different suggestions of how to make it work.

In this post I have broken down some basic steps of how to start homeschooling. Hopefully, leaving you a little more confident to take the plunge and give some type of direction so you’re not left floundering on what to do.

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You’ve Decided To Homeschool,

Now what?

 

Find Your Why

Just because you’ve decided to homeschool doesn’t mean that your life will magically become easier. There will likely be days where you will wonder what in the world were you thinking. If you can first find your why, then it is going to be so much easier to get through those hard days so you can enjoy all the great days.

My why has changed throughout the years; I started homeschooling simply because I felt like I should. Now that I’ve been doing it for so long my why is because I want to spend time with my kids, build strong relations with them, and I want to help them foster a love for learning.

I would highly recommend that you start with your why, so it will also give you a good idea of what direction your homeschool needs to take. 

Taking Your Kids Out Of School

This has been a question that I have seen pop up a lot of times. How do you logistically take your kids out of school? You call the school and let them know that you won’t be coming back. You don’t have to explain yourself; you can just do it. After all, they are your kids.

I definitely would always recommend leaving on good terms. If you want to give your teacher a thank you gift, then go ahead and do it, but you don’t have to feel guilty for taking your kids out.

Depending on the state you live in, you may need sign papers at your district. In Utah, you can either sign their paper at the district that says I’m homeschooling and I’ll teach certain things, or you can just write your own, which is what I did, and have it notarized. In Utah no testing is required for homeschoolers.

Detox Phase

My oldest three kids were only in school a very short time. When I pulled my kids out of school my oldest only had one month of 1st grade, my second son only had one month of Kindergarten, and my daughter had one month of Preschool. So you would think with them being so young that they would just jump into a new system of school. News flash, they didn’t!

My kids told me, constantly, that I didn’t do things like their teacher did, or they would let me know what I was doing wrong. The feisty side of me that loves sarcasm would usually answer them back with something that was a mix of frustration and anger. I didn’t know that there would be a detox phase after taking your kids out of school. Had I known, I am sure I would have been a lot more patient…hopefully.

Most people suggest that for every year your kid was in school to plan on a month of detox. So what do you do during that detox phase? My advice is to take it slow. Get out into nature, read great books together, help your kid find things their interested in to ignite their passion for learning.

Luckily for me, the detox phase didn’t last too long, and after a month or so we were starting to find our rhythm. There is no set time for how long your kids will need to detox, some may take months while others may take weeks. Just be patient and remember why you are doing this in the first place.

Choosing a Curriculum

Did you know that I am a beekeeper? A terrible one, but a beekeeper nonetheless. Anyway, I have been to dozens of beekeeping classes, I’ve read books, and I’ve even had a “bee whisperer” at my home. Do you know what I learned about beekeeping? That everyone does it completely different, and yet somehow it all works.

Homeschooling is the exact same way. If you asked 100 different homeschoolers how they homeschool, you would most likely get 100 different answers.

Some people like online schools, some have extensive co-ops they are a part of that gives them their homework for the week, some like un-schooling, and that is just the tip of the ice-berg.

I recommend using your strengths and individualize your school to your kids. If your kid doesn’t mind being at a computer, then by all means, use an online curriculum. If you enjoy putting together extensive lessons plan, then do it! I have tried a lot of different things and I like something that doesn’t require too much prep. I like to be able to learn right alongside my kids.

My favorite way to homeschool is using the Charlotte Mason style. I can go more into that in later posts. A blog I really like that gives an overview of how to transition into a Charlotte Mason method can be found HERE.

Social Experiences

And finally, my least favorite thing that people ask me, “How will my children get social interaction?” I could get up on my soapbox for a whole post all about homeschool kids and socialization. I will spare you my sarcastic comments about locking up my children in the basement, so that they never see other humans, so that I can hopefully ease someone’s troubled heart and mind about will their kid be socially awkward if they homeschool.

First, there are LOTS of socially awkward kids in regularly school, so if your kid was already socially awkward, then most likely they will still be socially awkward if you homeschool. But the great news is now you can teach them how to interact in social situations.

Second, there are so many opportunities for kids to hang out with other kids. We have church activities, scouts, band, plays, dance, sooo many different sports, all the neighbor kids, cousins, other homeschool friends, and the list could go on and on.

My kids often comment that they don’t know how kids in school have time to be social because they’re in school all day and then have homework at night.

Finally, being at school doesn’t teach you how to be “social” it is simply gives an opportunity to be with other kids your own age. Having your kids home really gives you the opportunity to teach them how to be polite, having manners, even though my boys still fart in front of me I promise I am trying, how to have a conversation with others, and so many other great things that you can teach them on how to be “social”.

These are some of the basics of just getting you started on your journey of homeschooling, and as always if you’d like some extra help just send me an email.

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Christmas Roll A Story

Can you believe that it is already Christmas season? Me neither.

To help you simplify your life, but still have some fun activities I have created a great writing prompt called, Christmas Roll A Story. These are so fun. You simply grab a die and roll to find your character, their description, the setting, and the conflict.

After you have found the basics for your story you get to write a fun story. There is also a space so your own monkeys can draw a picture. These are seriously some of my favorite activities to do.

Just simply click on the button to download yours.

Enjoy!

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Battle of the Brains, Term 1, 2018

My kids live for Battle of the Brains! It may be because the winner gets to be the keeper of the coveted silk flowers, or maybe just for bragging rights, but either way it is always a big hit.

I divide my school up into four, 12 week terms, and at the end of each term we hold our annual Battle of the Brains. It was something that I came up with years ago to encourage my kids to finish all their books and to also give them some incentive to try and remember what we have studied.

Before you think that this is just another suggestion that is going to be incredibly time consuming, let me tell you my little secret. I literally planned it this morning. No joke. After breakfast I hurry and snuck away and wrote my categories down. Then while we were competing I thought of one more, so I threw it in there.

There have been years where I have put in a lot more effort, but honestly, my monkeys don’t really care either way. The printouts are fun and I would have maybe thrown something together this morning, but my printer has died, so I went with what we had.

We had six different events this year: fitness, spelling, math, science, geography, and art. I will go through each of them so you can have some ideas of how to create your own. I wrote down the different categories on strips of papers and cut them up, so the kids could draw out the next event.

For the scoring, whomever won an event would receive three points, second place would get two points, and third place would receive one point. I didn’t show them the score because in the past if someone sees that they don’t have a shot in winning, they just kind of give up. It also made it more fun because they had no idea who was going to win.

Fitness: I decided to throw in a few events into fitness, just because I thought it would be fun. I was going to have them run a mile, but because Master George sleeps in the girls’ room they weren’t able to get their shoes. The girls were not sad about that.

Event 1: Plank hold. This one is pretty straight forward. Everyone holds plank for as long as they can.

Event 2: Death by squats. Every minute you have to be able to complete all your squats. The trick is, that every round you have to do an additional squat. I’ve done variations of this before and those first 5-10 minutes are boring, so we started our squats at five. Then when we got down to two kids, we would increase every round by two squats instead of one.

Spelling

I usually have done a vocabulary round where I take all our vocabulary words from the term and they have to write a short story using all the words. However, this year we switched up our language arts, so they all had different words. As we were playing I saw Boggle just lying there, and I thought that I could hurry and throw spelling into the competition. We just did two rounds of the game.

I seriously love Boggle and could play it everyday, so they were not surprised when I snuck that into the battle.

Math

We played a Bingo math game for this event. Whomever got the first Bingo won. If you got multiple Bingos before other people you could win more points. It’s a simple addition math game, so that way every one could play evenly. Sometimes it can be tricky having such a wide span of ages playing math games, so I try to make it as fair as possible.

I thought I had addition flash cards somewhere lying around my house. I could not find them anywhere this morning. I’m sure I’ll find them within the next few days. I was going to have the flash cards be the second event in math.

Science

I made this science game up years ago. We had studied the Apologia science books, so all the questions are straight from those books. We use an old Sorry game board, and everyone gets to pick some random thing for their player. I read all the questions, and if you get it right you roll two dice and move around the board. If I help you, you only get to roll one.

Geography

This year we have mixed our geography in with explorers. We have been singing the Explorer song from Sing ‘n Learn, and then reading about the different explorers. So, for this event they had to come with me to another room and sing as much of the song as they could remember. Whenever they made a mistake I stopped them. Whomever remembered the most words of the song won.

Art

Art has been the trickiest of the subjects to add into the competition. I had them blindly pick one of the paintings that we have studied for the term and they get five minutes to look at the picture. After the five minutes are up, they turn their paper over and get to draw or paint their painting. They have ten minutes to try to remember as much of their painting and draw as much detail as possible.

You are not judged on artistic ability, but by how much detail you included from your picture. This year was tricky because some kids had paintings with a lot of people in them, so the people weren’t super detailed, but they would have the right number of people, animals, and or trees. The ones who got a portrait added a ton more detail because it was just one person. I think next term I will have them all do the same picture, so it will be easier to judge.

After we completed all the rounds we then had our awards ceremony. Bella was our last winner, so she had the honor of awarding our new winner…. Joshua!!! He has already taped the flowers up on his wall. Super classy.

Then, after the battle all kids who have finished all their books are invited to my Pizza Party!! We have pizza and the winner of the battle gets to pick a movie to watch. Last night Joshua stayed up, who knows how late, to finish his last book. I’m glad he did because it always super awkward when everyone gets pizza except one or two people.

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Five Ways To Homeschool With A Toddler

Last year, when Master George was a newborn, I wrote a post about homeschooling with a newborn. Now that he is older, and much more destructive, I figured I needed a follow up post about homeschooling with a toddler.

To be honest, I’m not much of a baby person. I think they’re cute, but also a little boring. I really like toddlers. Yes, they can be tiring and rip things up, but you also can play with them, and I love the weird things they do. With that being said, toddlers can also be the most challenging when it comes to homeschool, and as homeschool pro, here are five ideas to help you keep your sanity, and keep homeschooling even with a toddler running around.

1. Rotate the toddler through the other kids as part of their school. I have had some wild toddlers and this is one that works really well. My current guy is usually just content to hang around us, but today he found sister’s mascara and painted himself, so on days like this I have one of the kids take Master outside and play with him until I am done. When Brigham was a toddler he was C-R-A-Z-Y! We had a daily rotation because he needed to monitored so much more. 

2. Have activities ready for your toddler. Some ideas are blocks, magnets, and if they’re not too wild, coloring book and crayons. And because I am spoiling my bonus baby I also have a bike in the house and a little plastic slide.

3. Have “school” stuff for your toddler. All my littles have wanted to be included with school, so I always make sure that I give them a notebook, or if I have a printout that I have one for my toddler too. No one likes to be left out.

4. Adjust your schedule. Does your toddler take a big afternoon nap? Then why not do your school in the afternoon? Having flexibility is one of my favorite things about homeschool.

5. Relax. If your toddler is sick, cutting teeth, or having a melt down because they just want mom, try cutting your schedule down for the day. Decide what’s the most important. Is it scripture study or real aloud? Do what the most important stuff is and let the other things be skipped for the day. I have my kids do as much as their school on their own as they can, so when Master is having a rough day I can do scripture study and read aloud and then just have them finish everything else on their own. One of the reasons we do school through the summer is so when hard days pop up my kids don’t get behind.

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Read and Feed

I have decided that I have been blessed with a gift to make up the coolest/worst names for things. I have great things like: Awesome Club, Monday Funday, Thursday Thidy (you read that right), and now my latest and possibly greatest: Read and Feed!

I am always looking for more ways to hang out and connect with my kids and one of the things I wanted to do was read to them at night. However, none of my monkeys thought that this was a good idea. So, how does a girl get what she wants and get her kids excited about it too? Just add food! That’s right, a few times a week I come down to my kids’ bedrooms and read while I let them feed. That makes them sound like little farm animals, probably because it's a little bit true.

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Anyway, Read and Feed has been a big hit!

Here are three ways that we’ve made it work: 

  1. My monkeys don’t care what the food is, they just love that I take the time to bring them something. Keep it simple.
  2. Pick books that are at your kids' level. Picture books work great! Even the big kids like them.
  3. Have fun.

That’s it. It doesn’t have to be this big, complicated process. Grab some grub and a book and make some memories with your own monkeys. 

Here are some suggestions for great books for Read and Feed. They work for all ages, but these are geared for 12 and under.

Any of the books from Dianna Aston, such as A Butterfly Is Patient and A Beetle Is Shy. The illustrations are beautiful!

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Anything from Shel Silverstein. His poetry is hilarious and his illustrations are awesome. One of my boys’ favorite was Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back. My books have apparently been well loved as they are looking a little sad.

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I found this great book at Costco one day, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip C. Stead. The book was made from 16 pages of notes that Mark Twain had left from a story he would tell his daughters. The story is fun and the illustrations were great.

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A book full of puns and math! Where do I sign up?!? Sir Cumference by Cindy Neuschwander was hilarious! 

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My seven year old LOVES any Mercer Mayer book. He has loved these books for years!

My New Normal

Today, we are starting school. Only it looks a lot different than usual; I will only be teaching half my kids. My oldest kids are in 11th, 10th, and 9th grade. They have decided to get their High School diploma and hopefully their Associates at the same time, so I am no longer homeschooling them.

You would think that I would be super excited that my work load just got cut in half, which is partially true, but I'm also sad that I won't be spending as much time with my big kids as I have been.

Whenever there is a big change in your life it now becomes your new normal. When you have a new baby, having a bigger family is your new normal. If you move, your new home is your new normal, and so on.

I have been homeschooling six little monkeys and now this year I'm only homeschooling three, it is my new normal and I'm working on how it changes the dynamics of our family. I get a little teary eyed that I won't be hanging with my big kids like I've got to do their whole lives.

It's been fun to reminisce all the wild things we've done throughout the years. Some things have gone terribly wrong, like the time I had them all build London and then I lit it on fire to teach them about the Great Fire of London. They all cried and did not find the humor in it. We've also had some amazing times where someone mastered a subject, or they were so incredibly excited to share with me what they've learned, and just all the times we've laughed and enjoyed being together.

That chapter of our life is now done and my big monkeys are ready to grow some wings and start a new adventure. 

My new normal is now to create some amazing memories with the four remaining monkeys. Just like any new normal there will be some time to adjust, but I know that things will work out because they always do.

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Julius Caesar

Another term done, and another terrible version of one of Shakespeare's plays. My kids picked Julius Caesar this term. Honestly, I am not 100% sure why studying Shakespeare is so amazing for your education; most of them are filled with murder and sleeping around. Surprisingly, those are two subjects that I don't usually teach about, but for some reason if it's Shakespeare it makes it ok?

After Googling around for all of 30 seconds it seems that the reason we teach Shakespeare is because it is popular culture and has withstood the test of time. So, basically I teach it because everybody else is doing it and honestly my monkeys really like making their weird movies.

If you want to read how I really teach it, you can read about it HERE.

My favorite line from this play was when Caesar is dying that he requests that a salad be named after him. I will be shocked if one of my children don't end up becoming an amazing writer. :)

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Battle of the Brains

My kids absolutely love Battle of the Brains. The big kids, who do online school now, made sure they were available to participate with us because everyone loves it so much. Battle of the brains is our end of the term party and review. We compete in different events and the winner gets to be the keeper of the flowers. However, one of my darlings lost the flowers, so now they are the keeper of a fake beard.

In order to come to my pizza party after battle of the brains you have to finish all your books for the term. Two of my monkeys almost didn't make it, but they stayed up the night before and hurry and plowed through their last book.

Our events this year were:

Vocabulary-you have to use all the new words we learned this term and write a short paragraph or story using all the words and use them correctly. 

Memorization-see how far you can recite our current memorization.

Fitness-this year we did death by sit ups. Each minute you add another rep, so minute one, one sit up, minute two, two sit ups, and it goes until you can't fit the correct number of sit ups in the minute. My kids all have six packs now. :)

Art-they have to look at a picture for five minutes and then turn the picture over and draw as much detail as they can. They are not judged on artistic ability, but how much detail they were able to remember.

Dictation-they have five minutes to review a poem and then I dictate the poem to them. You lose a point for every misspelled word or incorrect grammar.

Math-I had printed some simple math worksheets that everyone could do, but to make it more fair the younger you are the more time you get. 

Science-this is our game we made years ago that my monkeys insist on playing every time. It is a science game I made from our old Apologia books. This is their favorite event.

If you take 1st place in an event you receive three points, 2nd place receives two points, and 3rd place receives one point. 

Bella won again this year by one point, so she will be the keeper of the beard until the next battle.

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Top Three Reasons I Homeschool Through Summer

I feel that I have been asked a lot lately if we are doing school this summer. Umm, heck yes we are! And of course shirts are optional. :)

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One of the reasons that I homeschool is because I’m trying my best to foster a love for learning for my kids and how does one do that if we just don’t do school for three months? Answer, you don’t.

Before you think I’m some big terrible task master, and I’m honestly ok if you do, we do have a simplified summer schedule. We still read scriptures as a family and then the kids only have to do math, read their scriptures, and read their literature. Their literature does have to be a quality book, not some simple story about farts or how the average looking teen girl has the hottest boy in school after her. You know the kind of books I’m talking about; they’re the kind of books I affectionately refer to as garbage blarbage. 

So here are my top three reasons why I homeschool through the summer.

  1. Continued progress-I want to keep the ball rolling with my kids and instead of having to spend September reviewing everything we did from the year before, we get to just keep progressing.
  2. Built in buffer days-Because we homeschool all year it allows for us to take other days off without getting behind. Already this year we went as a family to Arizona to compete in a triathlon and we’ve taken the oldest three on their own trip to New York. It allows us to take days off when life happens like sickness, new baby, or a fun event pops up.     Schooling through the summer allows us to have the independence to take off days throughout the school year.
  3. Keep up with routines-I see other people struggle when their kids when they are home all day in the summer. I wonder if part of that comes from the lack of routine. My kids still have to get up at a certain time, do their chores, and complete their school work every morning. Our afternoons are open for whatever adventure we want to take, as many pool days as possible, and our bed times are a little later, but there is still structure in our life.

My final thought is that I want to give my kids a great life and having them just lie around binge watching TV all summer doesn’t fit what I’m trying create in my home. I only have a few years left with all my monkeys home and I want to do my best to give them the tools of learning and growing independently and for me I believe that creating a culture of constant learning is one of the ways to do just that.

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Science For Younger Kids

As my kids get older they do more and more of their subjects on their own. They enjoy studying what they’re interested in and also the independence. However, that doesn’t quite work for my seven year old. He likes the idea of being independent, but I still need to do most of his subjects with him.

When I was looking for something to do with science I knew it would need to be hands on, but I also didn’t want to have to make a huge mess every time we did science. I found a cute book about bugs. We just read a page or two and then I thought we could go on a walk when the weather gets warmer and try to find the bugs.

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He really likes the bug book, but I was having a hard time trying to get out and go bug exploring with him. So instead of going outside to look for bug we brought the bugs into our home. We  ordered some caterpillars and it was a HUGE hit! I also read to him this great book about butterflies. The pictures are gorgeous and even some of the big kids would sneak in when I would read it to him.

Having the caterpillars in the house was really fun. Even though we had a crazy caterpillar that ate one of the chrysalis. We affectionately called him the cannibal caterpillar. The other ones were given names like: Eaty and Climby, super creative. I wanted to film the butterfly release, but my darlings got a little too excited and did the release while I wasn’t home.

My little guy loved his butterflies and when they would land on the edge of the enclosure he would sit by them, talk to them, and try to pet their feet from the outside. And yes, he isn't wearing a shirt, apparently shirts are for suckers. I'm hopeful that at least he brushed his teeth.

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Battle of the Brains

This is the best day of our term, Battle of the Brains!! The monkeys compete in different events to see who gets to be the keeper of the flowers. This term we competed in the following events: art, dictation, memorization, geography, fitness, math, vocabulary, and science. 

I gave points for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place for each event. 1st place got three points, 2nd place got two points and third place got one point. Every term I do it a little different. Below the video I'll go into more detail of what I did for each event.

Bella was our big winner for this term and the new keeper of the flowers!! 

We also always have a pizza party after the competition. You're only invited to my pizza party if you have finished all your books for the term. We have had some terms where someone hasn't finished and it's always a little sad, but luckily all my monkeys finished their books this term and got to come. 

Art-They each got to study a picture, from the artist we studied this term, for three minutes and then they had five minutes to put in as much detail as possible into their picture. They're not judged on artistic ability, but how much they were able to pay attention to the details of the painting.

Dictation-I wrote down one stanza from a poem we studied this term. They had a few minutes to review the punctuation and spelling. I then take away the poem and dictate it to them. Whomever had the least errors won the event.

Memorization-We have been working on memorizing The Living Christ. I took each kid, one by one, into another room and had them recite as much of the poem as they could remember. As soon as they made a mistake their try was up. The winner who was whomever was able to recite the most from memory.

Geography-We have been studying about different explorers. They had to chart out where the explorers were from and where they went. The winner had the most accurate chart.

Fitness-This was super fun; we saw who could hold plank the longest. My little six year old won by holding plank for almost three minutes. I should clarify that it was super fun to watch, probably not as much fun to do. :)

 Math-We played two different math games. One was a matching game for multiplication problems and the other one was a subtraction game.

Vocabulary-We study 10 different vocabulary words each term. They had to use all 10 words correctly in a short story. They were judged on punctuation, correct use of grammar, and using their vocabulary word correctly in a sentence.

Science-This is our only event that's always the same. I have created questions from every science book we've ever studied. We use an old Sorry board game and they have to answer their question right to progress. The first one into home, wins.

Verb Charades

I just created another fun game to play with my monkeys. This is a game to help review action verbs!! I tried to create a game that included linking, helping, and state of being verbs, but it ended up becoming a big mess, so I simplified it and made it a fun charades game. You can download the game here!

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Picture Study

We divide our school into 12 week terms. Each term we study a different artist. I have some favorite supplies when it comes to learning about our artist. We study our artist just once a week.

First, I like to warm the kids up with a fun book about the artist. I have loved the books, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artist. I will read it our very first week. 

Second, I love the picture guides from Simply Charlotte Mason. They have a little biography about the artist and several beautiful prints. They also teach you how to do picture study, which is great for inept folks like myself. I will show a new picture about every other week and I take about four weeks to get through their biography.

Finally, I found an amazing book called Living Biographies of Great Painters. I will finish out the term with this little gem. It has some great stories about the artist.

At the end of the term when we have our Battle of the Brains, the kids will have to try to draw one of the pictures that we studied. They aren't judged on talent, but on ability to remember all the details. My favorite picture was when my son, who wasn't blessed with much artistic talent, drew Whistler's Mother. It was so terrible that it was awesome. I should have kept it and framed it because of how bad it was. We all had a good laugh, but in his defense, he remembered a lot of details and even won that event. 

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