Little Log Cottage School

An Educational Blog to Inspire Creativity, Character, Grit, and the Love of Learning


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Spooky Stories That Won’t Keep Your Kids Up At Night

We combined literature and science this week with our Spooky Story and Skeleton theme.  With Halloween only a week away, I knew I needed to add some Halloween fun into our lessons.  Using an old Mailbox magazine as my guide, I found quite a few stories and activities to round out our studies this week.

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On Tuesday we read……

The Ghost-Eye Tree

Bill Martin is one of my favorite children authors.  The story has a repeating theme: “Why does Mama always choose me, when the night is so dark and the mind runs free…”

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Because of my yearly case of laryngitis, Miss Francis, our Spanish teacher, read this book to the class.

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We used the illustrations in the book to create our own Ghost-Eye Tree.

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Then we used a very thin layer of watered down black tempera paint to paint over the whole paper.  We were hoping for an eerie effect.

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Princess was pleased with the end product.

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On Wednesday we read…

FunnyBones by Allan Ahlberg

This is  a series of humorous books about the adventures of a group of skeletons.  My crew thought this books was hilarious.

We also watched Disney’s 1929 Skeleton Dance on Youtube.

 

On Thursday we read…..

Bone by Bone Comparing Animal Skeletons

Since we were reading about skeletons, I thought I would tie in some science and start learning about our skeletal system.  This book was such a great way to introduce vertebrates and invertebrates.  We will be doing some more practice on this next week.

Of coarse, we had to end the day with our puppets doing a skit about hurting their tibias, their craniums, and their femurs.  The puppets even had the audience finding their tibias, craniums, and femurs.  I have some REALLY GOOD puppeteers!

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Along with our crafts and Halloween party next week, we will be reading…

Dem Bones by Bob Barner

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

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The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll

Come back next week to see how we use these stories to guide our lessons!

 


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Busy Mom’s Guide to Hands-On Lesson Planning- Morning Work

Recently, I’ve been asked on how to plan hands-on, no workbook type lessons for busy mothers.  I thought it might be helpful to answer this question in a series of posts.

File Folder Morning Work

Now, before I get into how I plan and set up my lessons for the day, I think it’s important to know a few things.  When I first began homeschooling I had a 5, 3, and 1 year old.  So first off, I had to have some kind of structure to my day to keep the flow going.  My plan was by no means perfect.  Most days you would have mistook my house for a three ring circus.  It’s a challenge to keep your student on track and your toddler from peeing everywhere during potty training.  Because of these little incidents we have never kept a strict schedule.  I may not be potty training my crew anymore, but I’m still a mom and I’m still busy.  Unless you have a full time maid, a nanny, a chef, and a chauffeur, all of us still have meals to make, laundry to do, floors to sweep, kids to take to ballet and soccer, and the many other items to attend to on our never ending to do list.  So how do we plan and prepare hands-on lessons for our kids when we have so much to do?  Today I’m sharing with you the power of Morning Work, and my strategy for preparing it for each one of my kiddos.

When I was in the classroom, Morning Work was something used by every teacher.  Teacher’s would make sure to have their Morning Work set up before they left for the day, or they were getting it ready before the school bell rang.  When you think of Morning Work, you may think of worksheets or questions written on the board for students to answer on notebook paper.  I recently read a post from Play to Learn Preschool  that explained how she had file folder games set up for each student for the early arrivers.  I’m always looking for new ways to change things up and to add more hands-on lessons for my students so I thought I would give this idea a try.

I’d like to point out the reasons these Morning Work File Folder Games work so well:

1.  The kids love them.

2. There is not much prep work.

3. They store easily.

4. They will keep your child busy while you clean up after breakfast, change a diaper, ect…

5. It’s a fun, quick assessment of a skill.

6. You can take them anywhere.

7. They work for any age or ability level.

8. Students can work on them until the skill is mastered.

9. You can use them for any subject.

Here’s a peek at my students working on their Morning Work last week.

My Prek students work on alphabet matching games.

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If you have two children working on the same skill and they work well together, this is a two for one!

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Kindergarteners worked on extending patterns….

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And simple addition.

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The second graders worked on a subtraction game.

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Here is what you may need in order to make your file folder games:

  • printer
  • laminator (not necessary, but highly recommended)
  • file folder or manilla folder
  • scissors
  • glue

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How I use these games during the day:

  1. To keep my kids busy learning while I attend to other matters
  2. A way to practice a skill after I have introduced it
  3. A way to assess a skill

Here are some FREE sites to find file folder games:

Preschool Printables

Preschool Mom

Kindergarten…Kindergarten

The Homeschool Hut

File Folder Fun

File Folder Farm

File Folder Storage

There are many ways to store your file folder games.  We always begin our day downstairs, so I use hanging folders in the big section of my husband’s desk for the games we will be using that week.  I pull out the games before the students arrive and place them at their seat.

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I have a filing cabinet upstairs where I store the games  we aren’t using that day.

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Wouldn’t this make a fantastic teacher desk?  My husband built it for himself, but I keep hinting that it would be perfect for my lesson planning and such.  Every teacher needs a teacher desk!

File Folder Planning

I always try to plan out about an hour every week to print out and assemble my file folder games.  I may spend 30 minutes one evening finding and printing them out, and then another 30 minutes the next morning assembling them.  Sometimes I have my kids cut them out.

A Few More Tips

  • I always have a basket of books for each child to read.  If they finish their game before I can check their work, they know they are to choose a book and find a cozy place to read.  I go to the library every week and find books I think they will like, that they can read, and a few that may challenge their reading ability.  They are always excited to see what books are in the basket.
  • DON’T let your child clean up their game until you have checked it.  This way you can record if they have mastered the skill and can move on.  If you think they need more practice, let them play the game again the next day.

 

See you next week for some more hands-on lessons!

I Choose Joy!

 

 

 

 

 


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Yee Haw! Fall Fun With Adventure Story Book Club

Barn Dance

Adventure Story Book Club continues to be a fun part of our homeschool curriculum!  This month I chose to use the book “Barn Dance” by Bill Martin since it is getting so close to Halloween.

Do you have your fiddles and dancing shoes ready?  We’re getting ready to take you on a Midnight Hoedown!

This is such a fun farm book!  It reminded us of “Gobble Gobble Crash” by Julie Stiegemeyer.  It has simple rhymes and a rhythm that is hard to keep you sitting still.  The boy in the story can’t help but to sneak out toward the barn to see what’s making so much noise in the middle of the night!

To get our minds set in a fall theme we began each day with fall themed file folder games.

PreK students worked on upper and lowercase alphabet matching.  You can find the game here.

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Kindergarten worked on extending patterns and simple addition.  You can find FREE printables here.

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Pixie’s tutorial teacher gave her acorns to use as a math manipulative.  Such a great idea for fall!

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On Wednesday, after sharing the book with the class, everyone worked on fall themed centers.

Fall Color Book

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During reading groups, the kids read a Pumpkin Counting book.  Then they used pumpkin candy to stamp the number of pumpkins on the page.  This was a huge hit!

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I made a pocket chart activity for my PreK and Kindergarteners to practice their sight words.

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For a our project I gave the class various art materials to create their own scarecrow from the book.

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 Thursday I was at the grocery store right as the doors opened at 6:00 am.  I woke up in the middle of the night with a snack idea to end the theme.  We just had to have  haystacks to go along with our last day of Barn Dance!  After the grocery run I was ready to make these delicious treats with the class.

Here are the ingredients: butterscotch chips, peanut butter, Chinese noodles, and we added marshmallow cream

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1 Cup of butterscotch chips

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1/2 cup of peanut butter

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heat until melted

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This was one of our favorite activities.  I’m so glad I gave up a few extra minutes of beauty sleep to make this activity happen!

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While the haystacks set up in the fridge, my PreK and Kindergarteners worked on some fall themed cover and roll activities.

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My Second Graders used this FREE printable to write their own scarecrow stories.

 

 

 

You can download the Scarecrow Writing Scarecrow Writing

Finally we learned how to square dance.  Grab your partner and dos- i -do!

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Be sure to check out the other hosts and their Fall Fun activities!  Link up your own posts, too!

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Our Amazing Participating Bloggers:

Kersandra from Our Adventure Story

Andrea from Waldorf Salad & Cottage Fries Blog

Christina from Classroom to Homeroom Blog

Jennifer from Faith & Good Works Blog

Learn more about this monthly book club here:

Adventure Story Book Club at Our Adventure Story

Adventure Story Book Club on Facebook

Adventure Story Book Club on Pinterest

Link up your adventurous “Fall Fun” book activities below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Ten Ways To Use Life As Your Curriculum- Vacation Edition

Living is Learning

We’re back in the Boro after our annual trip to the mountains.

I had the best time ever.  Mr. B. had the best time ever.  My kiddos had the best time ever.

Because I always add some kind of educational spin on anything we do, this trip was not only fun and relaxing, but tremendously productive.

Here’s how I used living as our homeschooling curriculum.

1. I bought and used “Scavenger Hike Adventures and Mountain Journal”.

Mr. B. and I love to hike.  Every fall we travel to the Smoky Mountains and spend a few days hiking and taking in the breathtakingly beautiful views.  This year the kids were old enough to go on some longer hikes.  We used this book to follow clues to many exciting discoveries.  Skills covered: Following Directions; Sequential Counting to 50

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Our first adventure began with the Noah “Bud” Ogle Trail

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2. We found a beautiful quartz rock.

Thanks to our handy scavenger hike book, we learned the Smoky Mountains are very rocky.  Our first object to hunt for was a quartz rock.  This was a perfect opportunity to compare a quartz rock to the slate rock that was next to it.  Skill covered: Describe rocks according to their origin, size, shape, texture, and color.

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3. We found an old rock wall built by the pioneers. 

This may not sound like anything special, but we learned so much about the pioneers and how they farmed on the mountain.  This rock wall was all over the middle of the forrest.  We learned that it was built to clear the land for crops, to build cabins, and to keep the cattle out of the gardens.  Seeing the huge forest and realizing that it was once a cow pasture was pretty magical! Skills covered: Compare physical features of the earth;  Compare ways individuals and groups in the state lived in the past to how they live today

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4. We found a working water-powered grinding mill deep in the forrest.

Most of the time we only get to read about the evolution of technology in schools. When do we actually get to discover a 120 year old working water-powered mill in the forrest?  Now, that is my kind of history lesson!  Skill covered: understand the evolution of a technology over time.

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5.  See and explore a pioneer cabin and barn.

Again, we read all the time about one room cabins with four beds, but to see one?  This was so much fun.

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6.  We hiked at least two miles everyday.

Fresh mountain air, beautiful fall weather, and views worth the sweat.  That’s the kind of physical education I’m talking about!

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7. We found Blanket Mountain.

Everything we found in our Scavenger Hike book had a bit of historical information to go along with it.  “In 1802 surveyors were establishing the boundary line for a treaty with the Cherokee Indians.”  To mark the spot, they hung a brightly colored blanket on a tree on top of this mountain.  They now call this peak Blanket Mountain.   It’s important to learn the Cherokee lived along the Smoky Mountains long before the white settlers arrived!   Skill covered:  Explain the connection between a series of events in United States history.

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8. We found Laurel Falls

We don’t get out much in the Boro.  Most of our walking is to the library and back.

To hike up a mountain to a waterfall was pretty amazing for the kids.

And a little scary.  This hike had some sheer drop offs.

Skill covered: USE COMMON SENSE WHEN DANGER IS NEAR! (I can’t find this one on Common Core.  It must be a mommy skill)

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9. Moms are cool

Being a homeschool mom can have it’s drawbacks.  Not only are you telling them to pick up their room you are also telling them to concentrate on their lessons.

Sometimes it can be hard to let your hair down when you are in charge of your kids all day.

Except when you are on vacation.

Let loose.

Be wild.

Let your kids think you are cool.

Skill covered: Know and understand your mom is a rockstar. Sing her praises to the world!

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10. We earned over 120 points and became Frontier Explorers!

For everything we found we earned 10 points.  My Princess was very quick to add these all up.  They were all excited to earn certificates from the book.

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This was one of the best learning experiences that we have ever had.

We will be back for more hiking adventures and we will continue to use life as our curriculum guide.

Thanks for following along with us!

I Choose Joy!

 

 

 


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Star Student: Introducing Writing to Young Learners

 

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Is it time to start teaching your child to write?  I have found a way to give confidence and fun to writing!  I’m sharing a writing activity I found on the Teaching Channel.

Let’s face it.  Teaching writing is not an easy task.  Writing can cause a lot of anxiety in children.  It can even cause anxiety in ourselves as we prepare for the difficult task of teaching it.

I have 5 other students who join us for school several times a week, but this activity can easily be done with just you and your child.  The ages of my kiddos ranges from 4-8.  This activity works really well for kiddos who are beginning writers.  Even my second graders like to do it!

Here are the steps to include Star Student Writing into your day!

Materials for this lesson:

chart paper

marker

lined writing paper with a picture box

pencils

markers

crayons

Be A Reporter

After I tape up a piece of chart paper to the front of the classroom, I announce the Star Student of the day.  Friends, this is a very exciting moment for the whole class!  After putting on the star student cape, my smiling star student comes up to the front of the class and prepares to be interviewed.   Using a toy microphone, I tell the class the star student will begin taking their questions.  When a student raises their hand to ask a question I pass the microphone to them.  They will ask the question, “What is your favorite……”  I record the star student’s response on the chart paper.

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I will also draw a picture above of their favorite item to help my younger students read the sentence.

Purpose:  When I record the responses on the chart paper I am modeling how to write a complete sentence.  I begin every sentence the same way.  The students begin recognizing the star student’s name and the word favorite.  The interview piques their interest and gives everyone a chance to feel special.  Even my shy students participate in the interview process.

Illustrate and Write a Sentence

After we have 7-8 sentences written on the chart paper, I pass out lined writing paper with a picture box.  Students can chose a sentence from the chart paper to copy and to illustrate.  Some students only choose to illustrate.

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Young 4 year old illustrates sentences.

Some students attempt to write a few words.

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Young 5 year old writing a sentence.

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This is still a great activity for my second graders.  They get to see how to use possessive nouns and they focus more on the detail of their illustrations.

This simple activity is a great way to model writing for your child.    Continuing to do this will give your child the confidence and the pleasure to learn to write.  I am a firm believer that children learn best when they are exposed to fun, meaningful and playful lessons.

How do you incorporate writing into your child’s day?

 

 


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Ways to Use Cloudy With a Chance Of Meatballs

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs collage

The above picture is Princess pretending to be our meteorologist.  We very much enjoyed pretending to be a meteorologist after reading the book,“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

Connecting fun, literature, and other skills is always my number one goal when planning out my lessons.  “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” is a story of a grandpa telling a tall tale to his grandchildren before bed.  The tall tale is about a town that receives their meals from the sky!  Everything is great until the weather starts acting crazy and big storms of rolls, pancakes, and cream cheese and jelly sandwiches flood the town.   The town has to evacuate in order to save themselves!

Activities:

This is a great story to study tall tales and imagination.  It is also a great story to study about weather!  

Falling Food Words!

I used my leftover pancake patterns from our Tomie DePaola study and the kids also used red, brown, and white construction paper to make meatballs, mashed potatoes, donuts, and ice-cream cones.  I wrote letters, sight words, and spelling words onto each food item.  After reading the story on Wednesday, my Pixie climbed into our climbing tree and dropped the food from the sky!  Kids scrambled everywhere picking up the word food.  Preschool found and recognized all of the letter food, Kindergarten and Second Grade found and recognized the sight word food.

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Be the Illustrator

Wednesday’s class also chose a type of weather and illustrated it.

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Learn and Write About a Meteorologist 

After discussing and constructing an anchor chat on “What is a meteorologist?”, Thursday’s class made this cute writing craftivity!  My second graders used the anchor chart to practice writing complete sentences about a meteorologist.  My Kindergarteners and PreK students chose to write words and pictures about meteorologists.  We then glued the writing to the middle of a big piece of yellow construction paper.  I cut out a yellow hat and two white boots for each student.  Everyone made their own head and glued it all together.

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Here are the skills taught in this mini unit:

Tall Tales 

Sight Words

Identifying the Alphabet

Spelling

Comprehension

Science

Writing complete sentences

Geography

Vocabulary

Books provide so many fun ways to learn!  Be sure to check out these links to enhance your weather study!

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Weather Unit

Free Weather Unit for ages 3-9

Don’t miss any of the fun at Little Log Cottages School!  Sign up and follow along with us!

 

 

 

 

 


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10 Free Resources That Will Save Your Sanity!

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The following is a guest post written by Mandy Jones, from Life on the Moon.  

While I am fully aware of the fact that I am a rock star and can do it all (ha!), I was pretty freaked out this summer over the knowledge that, starting this fall, I would have three students in my homeschool. Sure, I’ve had three kids for five years but now the youngest is officially registered as a Kindergartener. This means he must be “instructed” for four hours on 180 days over the period of a year. Additionally, I couldn’t help but think that last year our homeschool was too “workbook” heavy and we didn’t do enough creative and fun activities to balance out the humdrum of the dry material. School just felt like hours and hours of workbooks. I wasn’t going to have another school year like that.

Insomnia plagues me. I also suffer from occupationally induced exhaustion. As a result of these two conditions, if we have an evening free of ball games, play rehearsals, church activities, and concert movies (okay, that’s a one-time thing but I had a BLAST seeing Duran Duran as directed by David Lynch. What!?), I tend to spend said free evening scouring the Internet for awesome resources that I’ve somehow missed before. These Internet searches have often proved to be fruitful and I’ve managed to put together a pretty decent set of anti-curriculum lesson plans this school year. So far, everyone seems to be enjoying school a little more and I’m able to use a lot of these resources for all three of my students, despite their age differences.

In no particular order, here are ten resources that have made my homeschool a lot more interactive and enjoyable.

Skrafty: This homeschool Minecraft server has been a great source of joy for all three of my students. While the classes are not free (many are under ten dollars though), the server is a wonderful, free playing environment for crafters of all ages. They love to make play dates with their friends to meet up on the server for games and sharing their creations. The best part, in my opinion, is that it’s heavily moderated and I feel it’s a safe environment for my kids. I don’t have to stand over them and make sure that they aren’t reading inappropriate chats and see inappropriate images.

Multiplication.com: My fourth graders were using an app on their iPads for memorizing their times tables. That was NOT successful. Once we realized that the app was worthless and we had to find something else, I chanced upon this website. So far we are just using the picture stories to learn the facts and review the ones they weren’t retaining. Still, I am seeing them come up with the answers more frequently and with greater speed. My children are rather verbal so I believe this has been an effective memorization tool for that very reason. Math facts will not be the death of us after all!

Writing Fix: My sister-in-law is an educator and she heard me complaining about the awful grammar curriculum I purchased at the recommendation of a tutor. I explained that I would be trashing it this fall and starting something else but I wasn’t sure what that was going to be. She showed me this website and I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it’s been. We’ve just been working through the lessons using picture books and so far we’ve completed four. We are taking our time on each exercise and thoroughly enjoying it. These lessons are an entertaining way to learn grammar, practice spelling, brush up on handwriting, and get creative with language. And to think… all without some boring dry workbook. I intend to continue using this site indefinitely. I’m particularly excited about the lesson based upon lyrics by the Cure. How amazing is that?

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Homeschool Share: This website has a lot to offer any homeschool family who prefers to not spend a lot of money on curriculum. From unit studies to lapbooking, the index is filled with activities to keep you and your children busy all school year long. Now, I’m not a big fan of lapbooks but I can get on board with unit studies. However, my favorite thing about the way this site is set up is that I can just pick and choose which parts of a study I’d like to add to my school plans. The rest of it I can just ignore. Studies about picture books that would appeal to my older students are a favorite of mine. I don’t recall having anyone read picture books to me once I was no longer a “little kid” in school and I think that’s a real shame.

The House-themed television series: The mom of my son’s friend told me about the PBS series Frontier House that aired about fourteen years ago. She said she’d been watching it on YouTube with her daughter and highly recommended it. So my older kids and I tried it. Immediately, we were hooked. We watched half an episode every time we ate lunch and finished up in only two weeks. Now we are set to watch all of the other House-themed shows we learned about since discovering Frontier House. Next on the agenda is Electric Dreams, a BBC documentary style show about technology and how it impacted family life in recent decades. A theme song performed by Phil Oakey of Human League and nostalgia? Doesn’t get much better than that! And it’s educational to boot!

Teach Preschool Science: A free online curriculum that is both simple and smart? Yes, please! My kindergartener wants to learn about science all day every day. That’s all he’s interested in which would be wonderful but I have two fourth graders who I’m homeschooling as well so I don’t have a ton of extra time to put together lesson plans for my little scientist. Thankfully, I lucked upon this website and I don’t have to! It’s laid out in an easy-to-understand way. Combine it with an episode of Bill Nye, The Magic Schoolbus or Wild Kratts, place a few books on hold at the library and, voila, you have a great curriculum for your little one who wants to know all there is to know about science.

Books Should Be Free: Exactly what it sounds like. Free books. Only they are free audio books, which totally rocks. We’ve listened to The Secret Garden and Peter Pan here. Another cool thing about this site is that you can stream the audio if you don’t want to download it. Also, if one was so inclined, they could contribute to this project by reading a book, recording it, and submitting it for others to enjoy.

E is for Explore!: What a fun blog! I’ve enjoyed poring over the many creative ways to incorporate interesting learning activities into our school day. My favorite lessons, however, have to come from this entry. Studying famous modern artists, creating art in their style, and then using said art to do math? Now that’s what I’m talking about.
(the link for “this entry”: http://eisforexplore.blogspot.com/2014/08/art-history-math-integration.html)

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Easy Fun School: There are many different lesson plans and ideas on this website but the ones I’m most crazy about are the simple unit studies based upon children’s literature. I love the ideas this resource provides for taking our chapter book reading to the next level without worksheets, book reports, and other run-of-the-mill elements typically found in literature study.

Mrs. Brown’s Art Class: The way I see it, there can never been too much art going on inside of any home or classroom. Mrs. Brown’s lesson plans are simple, easy to follow, and fun. She has so many great ideas. I also happen to believe that just because a lesson plan is tied to a certain grade level doesn’t mean that older students will not enjoy the project. There is nothing wrong with presenting elementary art to high schoolers. Confession: I’m nearly 37 years old and I thoroughly enjoy these basic art projects. Everyone deserves a chance to return to Kindergarten once in a while.

 

Mandy Ray-Jones is a homeschool mom of three living in Middle Tennessee. She is a writer, a blogger at Life on the Moon, a performer, a director, an aspiring stand up comic, a whole foods champion, a lactivist, a homebirther, a placenta eater, and co-owner of Ridiculous Chocolate. Follow her on Instagram @feltsoalive.

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