What Homeschool Looks Like

by Tiffany in Homeschool

Lately, it just looks like a whole lot of play…

Playing in the Water - COSI

Geckos at COSI

Boys Who Play With Goats

Jurassic Journey Exhibit

Jurassic Journey


Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

8 Comments on What Homeschool Looks Like


Homeschool is Cool Resources for December

by Tiffany in Homeschool

History Workbooks and Texts for Homeschool

December was a short “school” month obviously so I do not have as much to report as far as cool new-to-me resources. But I do have a few.

I find that we are not using the Oak Meadow curriculum I bought. I guess even that is too structured for me. I think we are basically a mix of eclectic homeschoolers and unschoolers and we tend to learn in units and based upon our interests. We don’t feel like tackling each subject every week (or month) or often times we want to incorporate those subjects into other ones and learn by doing. For some things I like textbooks and book reading and for others I like worksheets and labs.. history, math, science. Writing and spelling happen by doing the first three. So we have been using some of the resources below and using some more unconventional means of learning. We have been taking hikes a couple times a week and identifying birds, trees, and other aspects of nature. I signed my son up for Art lessons at a local studio, plan to enroll him in a gym class with personal trainer, and we visit the zoo or the science museum to see the exhibits, due sponsored activities, or take in the latest IMAX documentary. A documentary on The Great Lakes and one on Geckos is coming up. This week he is going to a Monster Truck Jam. I swear the kid knows all the trucks and drivers as well as what they have going on mechanically.

One interest lead unit we just completed lasted from November through December. My son wanted to study up on Bearded Dragons. He read library books about them, did Internet research, watched YouTube videos, and learned as much as he could about these reptiles. Then he did a display project all about them… what they eat, where they come from, the conditions in which they live, how to care for them ,ect.

homeschool is cool

Then we ended the unit by buying him a Bearded Dragon and the needed setup. The Bearded Dragon was a gift for doing such great research and he worked for and paid for much of the needed gear. My husband managed to get some great deals for him. The 20 gallon starter tank, lid, and UVB light were only $10 at an auction!

Meet Sammy… I have to say I was not anxious to bring a Bearded Dragon into the home but he/she is a cutie!

A Bearded Dragon

We have also taken a step beyond our unit study and my son has started (with my help) a blog all about Bearded Dragons. The education continues as he writes and makes videos for YouTube and his blog.

Homeschool is Cool Resources

History Odyssey: Ancients – We are loving this history curriculum. It essentially uses the books pictured at the top of this post… The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1:, and History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations, as well as several books we can get via the library. All of these resources are beyond excellent and can be used in conjunction without the History Odyssey curriculum but I like how it is presented and executed.

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History – This book gets its own section because it ROCKS! The photos are beautiful, the info is wonderful, and it has Internet links that accompany each section that you can explore for fun stuff and more info. The section on Ancient Egypt for example has links to a resource for helping you recreate an Egyptian board game that young Egyptian kids would have played. Also a link to a place where your child can type in their name and see how it is spelled in hieroglyphs. This book could be a stand alone curriculum!

Educaching – We haven’t tried this yet but it is on our too-get list. We do not have a GPS device as of right now but we have wanted one for awhile so we can start doing geocaching which is to use a GPS to find hidden caches. It has become a popular past time and this is the first curriculum to pop up that caters to the idea. It uses geocaching to teach math, science, and social lessons. Any curriculum that requires hiking and exploring sounds good to me!

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain – Good book alert! My son and I enjoyed this book as he read to us. William Dufris’s homey voice invites listeners to settle in for a favorite family story. As Jonathan’s mother plans for a family christening celebration, she realizes that only Aunt Emma’s pot is large enough to hold stew for 20 relatives and that only Jonathan can be spared from the farm work to fetch the cauldron. Dufris coordinates his pacing and mood to Jonathan’s trek over the mountain–speedy and jaunty as Jonathan sets off reciting his mantra “there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain,” poky as Jonathan stops to feed forest animals, and elongated and exaggerated as darkness falls. How alone IS Jonathan as he hides under the pot to wait for help?

Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time – Admittedly we don’t drive so much that we need to make travel learning a big concern. But travel fun is always good right? Once every other week we do usually make a trek up North to visit with grandparents so this book has been nice for ideas. Mostly it is full of games that you can play on the road like Backseat Spelling Bee or Highway Hangman… good stuff.

This article on Making Curriculum Work for You from the Weird, Unsocialized, Homeschoolers blog.



Homeschool is Cool Resources for November

by Tiffany in Homeschool


This will likely be a new monthly feature here as I chronicle our homeschool adventures. I have found so many wonderful new resources or fallen in love once again with ones I used previously. Even if you don’t homeschool these could provide you with some great weekend activities too.

One thing I have noticed about the Oak Meadow curriculum I am using is that it, at this point anyway, is more like an outline rather than a full curriculum. Instead of giving you concrete lesson plans it gives you ideas or general instructions on what to do and what to teach. Thus I spend 30 minutes reading through the weekly lesson and then finding other resources to make it all happen. I am essentially using Oak Meadow as a guide while I create my own curriculum or utilize parts of other curricula. In this way it is very similar to K12 but K12 went a step beyond and gave you EVERYTHING you need, word for word, activity by activity. I would rather the loose structure of Oak Meadow but it also has me thinking I could just create my own piecemeal curriculum next year since I am kind of doing that anyway. We shall see. I do admit that I might be slightly lost since I started mid year and many of the current lessons are referring back to concepts and material we haven’t covered. Thus I skip those and do my own thing.

Anyway, here is my “cool resources” list for the month of November:

Pandia Press – LOVE, love love, their R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey curricula. They have 3 basics areas of study.. Earth and Space, Life, and Chemistry. We are working our way through the Earth & Space book right now and it has 12 unit studies and corresponding lab projects for each unit. Weather and Seasons for instance (Unit One) has six labs. It is VERY much a learn science by doing it method of study. PERFECT for my son.

I just ordered the History Odyssey (Ancients) as well so it looks as though we may be using Pandia for Science and History. The only issue I see with the History curricula is that it requires several other books, some of which are kind of pricey and not available at the library. I will have to use it for awhile and see if we can work around that. But again, since we are jumping into this mid year I think this will help with our history lessons.

BrainPop – Educational videos on tons of different topics. My son really enjoys them.

Handwriting Practice Worksheets – My son really likes to write and he enjoys copy work. I was psyched to find these handwriting booklets in various topics that interest him… ala Titanic. This is a GREAT resource. FREE too!

Netflix – Their streaming video service is wonderful for homeschoolers! There are an absolute ton of educational videos from documentaries about dinosaurs and WWII bombers to the Holocaust. Oh and plenty of documentaries and videos about the Ancients like Greece and Egypt.

Drawspace – Great tutorials and activities for art and drawing instruction.

Home Spelling Words – Lists of spelling words by grade and by week. This is very handy since Oak Meadow doesn’t provide spelling words for you.

Passport Template – I am going to teach social studies and geography by living it instead of by the book. We will taking an “imaginary” trip once or twice a month and I wanted a passport to stamp during our travels and found this one. During our travels we will be cooking food from that region of the world and observing their customs.

So what wonderful homeschool resources have you found lately? Please share!


Best Homeschooling Blogs

by Tiffany in Homeschool

Homeschool Curriculum

I am homeschooling again! Is it weird that I am the one most excited about it? Well, anyway a move and the many, many issues at the local school have given my oldest son and I reason to decide that homeschooling is in his best interests. This go round I have smartened up and decided NOT to use an online curriculum. Yes it kept me accountable and yes we knew exactly what to do and when to do it but it was so stressful and felt more like 5-6 daily hours of grueling homework rather than a relaxed school at home environment. This time I have decided to use Oak Meadow for our curriculum (with no online support). I bought a used syllabus on eBay and it is quite perfect for us I think… it has a slight Waldorf feel to it and it is no wonder because the creators of this curriculum were Waldorf teachers.

Also this time around I will not be his only teacher. I was VERY put out recently by my husband’s employer when they decided to switch him to second shift. I think I am going to be grumpy about it for a loooong time to come BUT it will mean my husband is home every day to help out with homeschooling. So I guess that is a bit of a silver lining.

One thing I have done this week is re-subscribe to all my favorite homeschooling blogs. I missed them so!! I prefer secular blogs but don’t mind a little Christian slant as long as it isn’t ONLY about that. Here is a list of my favorites.

1. Simple Homeschool – This blogs has several writers and lots of great info on keeping homeschool simple and organized. Today’s post was all about Circle Time, which is a part of the Oak Meadow philosophy.

2. The Homeschool Classroom – Every post is FULL of great resources and links.

3. The Curriculum Choice – This blog seems to center more on homeschool product reviews which is really helpful. it gives me ideas for new tools and resources.

4. Magic and Mayhem – This blog by homeschooling mom Alicia is awesome. I read it daily and wonder where does she get the energy?!? I love that much of their learning seems to take place by doing and living rather than by completing worksheets.

5. Stitching Life – Great project ideas on this blog. I bookmarked the Scream artwork post because I think my little artist would really enjoy that.

6. Teach Mama – MANY great projects and resources including many posts on outdoor learning.

Do you have any to add?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

17 Comments on Best Homeschooling Blogs


What Do Kids Really Learn in Public Schools?

by Tiffany in Homeschool

(My daughter in an Amish schoolhouse)

I have written much about homeschooling versus public schooling. I have done both and each has advantages and disadvantages. I pretty much allow my kids to make their own choice as to the type of schooling they prefer and all three are in public schools right now. But for weeks now I have been considering pulling rank and taking my middle child, my daughter, out of school and continuing her education at home. I always thought she would be the best equipped to handle public schooling but some changes in her mood and behavior lately are causing some concern. She is only in Kindergarten for cripes sake but if this year is an indication of more like this to come… I am so very afraid.

Academically she is doing well and this is no surprise.. she is a VERY smart cookie. Socially she is doing well, she has friends and she enjoys school for the part. So I guess I am the one with the problem. I have a problem with her being more than a little obsessed with how fashionable her clothes are. I have a problem with her throwing tantrums if I try to make her wear the wrong color, a skirt that has not been bejeweled in some way, or heaven forbid.. a plain t-shirt.  I have a problem with everything she wears or owns either adding to or detracting from her “popularity points” at school. No I am not kidding.

I have a BIG problem with my six year old little girl acting more like a freaking teenager with every single day she spends in these public institutions! I also see a problem when observant family members start using terms like “mean girl” or “diva” to describe some of her behavior lately and not because they dared say it, but because they have a point.

This just confirms for me that public schools are the WORST type of social setting for kids. They may or may not be good for education but for socialization and for exposing kids to good role models… they really suck. I am putting so much effort in counteracting the bad stuff she learns there that it just makes sense to pull her out altogether.

I have some big decisions to make over the summer. Do you have any advice or experience for me?