Homeschooling 101

Heather, from Only Passionate Curiosity, gives a lesson on Homeschooling 101!


“Alright Mama, so you made the choice to homeschool. You’re ready, you’re committed…. You have no idea where to start. That’s okay. You have time. For now, take the kids to the library, and let them grab a bunch of books. Taking a week, or two, or even a month or two to do nothing but read and explore the world around them independently is not going to ruin them or throw their education off track. If you are really worried, hand them a workbook for math or subscribe to an online learning program while you start planning out your homeschool- but DO take a step back and give yourself time to plan. Before you do anything else, you need to take a moment to think about yourself. You know that saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”? Well, that’s true with homeschooling too. Before you get started buying curriculum you need to take a moment to think about what your goals are for homeschooling, and come up with a game plan to accomplish those goals. Do you want more time outdoors? More freedom to learn what you want? More rigorous academics? More time as a family and more focus on your beliefs? There is no “one way” to homeschool. There are many different philosophies on education, so before you start looking for a curriculum, it is helpful to see which philosophies line up with your personal beliefs, wants and desires for your homeschool.”



DIY Paper Mache Bowls!



We love this DIY Paper Mache Bowl idea from Childhood101!

It’s nice and simple, so it’s ideal for kiddos who are new to paper mache.

We can’t wait to invite some friends over and have a paper mache soiree with the little ones!

Find the step-by-step instructions HERE.



Math Madness Wednesdays: Shapes, Shapes, Everywhere Shapes!


Shapes, Shapes, Everywhere Shapes (sung to the tune of Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs…at least, it is in my head!).  How many of you have noticed that kids might know their basic shapes, but don’t actually USE that knowledge for anything?  I enlisted my 10 and 11 year old to help me with today’s idea and even they said “Wow!  I didn’t realize that shapes really ARE everywhere!”.  How can we help kids see shapes in everyday items, not just on a worksheet?  We take them on a Shapes Hunt!  

That is just what we did today and the kids were in control of my iPhone to capture some pictures to go along with it.  Do you have smart devices in the classroom?  You could do the same thing!  Pair or group the students and go on a SHAPES HUNT (in the class, down the halls, outside, where ever you can!).  Grab this freebie organizer to have students remember what shapes they are looking for as well as letting them jot down what they found, where they found it, or even sketches of their found objects.  

After they go on their hunt, the kids can come back and share what they found.  Want to continue with this project?  We downloaded Comic Story by beyondf while it was free (it is only 99 cents).  She had fun opening the pictures in this app and creating a comic showing off her shapes.  

My daughter found some interesting shapes and realized which ones were the most difficult to find (trapezoid, hexagon, and octagon for sure!).  It led to a great discussion about why those shapes wouldn’t be as useful as some of the other shapes.  
After you have identified shapes and you want to continue practicing those shapes, you can let the kids play my newest WILD game for 2-D shapes!  It is normally $3.00, but it is 50% off on Educents this week.  Hop on over and snag it while it is on sale!

What do YOU do to help kids remember their shapes or notice the shapes around them?  Can’t wait to hear!  
Until next time,


Spring Has Sprung: Poetry in Elementary

garbage = 2 syllables, rainforest = 3 syllables”

Lesley from Practice Makes Perfect shares how she had her first graders create a haiku about the Earth for Earth Day!

“In case you don’t know, or have forgotten, a haiku is a traditional Japanese poem made up of 17 syllables, written in a 5-7-5 format, so the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables.  I’ve read that modern haiku is moving away from that format of 5,7,5 as long as there are 17 syllables, but I chose to keep it because I wanted to integrate the concept of counting syllables in each line.
I began with reminding the children what syllables were, and how now that we were becoming better readers, we would be challenged with longer words.  Longer words are made up of smaller parts called syllables, parts of words.  We practiced by clapping and counting the syllables in our names.  Then I gave them white boards, and posted one word at a time in my  pocket chart.  The children clapped and counted the syllables on their own, and I could quickly scan their answers to see if they were understanding the idea of syllables. I also had them insert the slash where they thought one syllable ended and the next began, but that wasn’t the main focus of the lesson.  Mostly I was concerned with their ability to count the number of syllables.”


Make a Notebook in 5 Minutes!

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

We say, why not do both?

Start by making this notebook from a paper bag and then take it with you on a learning adventure!

This handy little booklet from The House That Lars Built is small enough that your little ones will have no trouble carrying it around while you explore the great outdoors or visit a museum!

Find the directions HERE.




Make Your Own Educational Dry Erase Activity Book

Ivy shows us how to make your own educational dry-erase activity book with ease!

“I originally got the idea of making a dry erase book from my tot as I scoured the web for dry-erase activity sets to help with home preschool work.  I found some sites showing some good ideas about making your own by printing worksheets from the many available sources online, which I began to do until I came across some other exciting and inexpensive ideas. I love that I can find various printables in themes I wish to discuss, including holidays, in our home preschool work.  But, to be honest, I don’t like using all the ink in my printer to essentially print out coloring books.  On a trip to Dollar Tree several months ago, I came across educational activity work books with tear out sheets – the first sets were Sesame Street and some basic books.”

Read the rest of Ivy’s post here!


Egg Carton Flowers

With Easter around the corner, there’s a good chance you’ll have a few empty egg cartons around the house. Thanks to Toddler Approved, instead of seeing them as trash/recycling, we see these little containers as craft inspiration!

See how these simple packages bloom into beautiful Spring flowers! Get the how-to HERE!

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Students becoming Scientists!

Becca, from Foxwell Forest, shares how she gets her students excited about science! What a great idea!!

“When I was student teaching I discovered something that I never knew: I L.O.V.E. teaching science! Funny story-I discovered this while creating a plant unit for student teaching and I have the farthest thing from a green thumb out there. Seriously, I think a plant dies just when I look at it! Ha! Good thing that even dead plants work as great scientist projects! ;)

Now, whenever I tell my students that we are going to be scientists (a.k.a. have science) my kids let out a cheer that rivals the cheer that they give when I tell them we have gym! ha! Okay, so maybe the gym cheer is a *little* louder, but it’s pretty darn close! ;)

Here is part of the reason that my kids beg for science:
They actually BECOME scientists and get to wear Scientist Lab coats anytime that we do science!

Since science involves lots of hands-on experiments (which I LOVE) and often incorporates supplies and instructions that need to be handled and followed carefully, I came up with the idea to turn old, white T-shirts into scientist lab coats! During science, I address students as “Scientist {insert last name}.” All scientists must listen to the head scientist {a.k.a. me} or they will loose their scientist lab coat and the privileges that come with it. Trust me-I’ve only ever had to take away one lab coat and then there are no problems! At the beginning of the year, I ask parents to send in a clean, white t-shirt and then after learning about being scientists, I have the kids make their own lab coats.

Here’s how you can have your class become scientists!

I promise that not only is this very easy to do, but it is also very effective!

I have the students keep their lab coats in their reading book bags on their chair, so that they can easily get and wear the scientist lab coats for science!”

For a FREE SWEET SCIENCE experiment, visit Foxwell Forest. It uses Valentine’s Candy but can be used throughout the year!
What ways do you like to motivate and engage your kids during science? We’d love to hear your ideas!


How to help your child enjoy reading

What do you do when you have children who can read, but just won’t? Is a love for reading something parents and teachers can inspire in children, or is reading something we’re born to like or dislike?

To encourage your child to love and enjoy reading you first need to understand the factors that may be preventing them from enjoying reading.

More appealing pastimes
It’s no wonder that children prefer to play video games, chat with friends or just watch TV – these are more enjoyable activities because they don’t require much effort.
To make reading a more appealing alternative to video games why not introduce them to foolproof, age-appropriate, best-sellers? You can even start out with book that inspired a child’s favorite movie or television program. Before you know it, your child will be writing fan-fiction on their favorite books.
Boring, uninspiring books
Children don’t like wasting their time on things that are irrelevant or just plain boring, and who can blame them? Adults don’t either. Rev up the interest factor by trying out different genres and media for reading until you find what works for each child. For example, getting them an e-reader, so similar to the tablets they use for playing games, might motivate a child to read more.
Difficult and frustrating
If your child is having reading difficulties this will naturally draw them away from reading. Talk with the child’s teacher and focus on identifying and/or ruling out any learning difficulties. Ask the teacher if they have suggestions for a course of action that would help the child get interested in reading.
Often something as simple as assigning a purpose to reading (e.g. learning about how planets form) will make the activity seem more meaningful and appealing.
Cultivate a love for reading
It’s actually easy to get your child to enjoy reading. Here are the five first basic steps to achieve this:
1.    Recommend reading material based on things you know they already like. If that’s Batman, give them lots of comic books to start reading.
2.    Be a role model. Don’t sit with a tablet in one hand and your smartphone in the other. Read books, magazines, and newspapers. Put new books and journals in places your child usually hangs out. Even if it’s just out of curiosity, they will at least skim through an article or chapter!
3.    Organize activities around reading, like frequent library visits. Join a parent-child book club, play reading-related games like spelling games, and make family evenings together the time to bring out word board games like Scrabble.
4.    If your child is young enough for bedtime stories, make a habit out of it. Reading out loud will get your child to grow fond of reading and ask for more material to read on their own.
5.    Start building a home library with books you read together. This will be soon considered an ongoing, open-ended project where newly read books will be added to an ever-growing library.

Chassie Lee is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of Ultimate Vocabulary which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries



DIY Bright & Sunny Daffodil


Spring is in full bloom! Get into the sunny spirit with this DIY Daffodil craft from Mend and Make New! These sunshiny flowers make for a sweet gift to a grandparent or a darling room decoration! We love the idea of making a whole bouquet! Get the how-to HERE.