Category Archives: Homeschooling

Happy Pi Day!

With today’s date, March 3rd, most resembling the irrational number of Pi, (3.14159…..), it was fitting that math lovers across the world today held celebrations in honor of this most beloved number. Before joining all of our friends again like last year at the park for our very own Pi Day celebration, we had a little Pi Day fun of our own at home!

Last night, after seeing several Pi Day shirts, the children both jumped at the chance to create their own t-shirts to wear to our homeschool group’s Pi Day event.

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We decided to try our hand at it using scavenged t-shirts from around the house and some acrylic paint in varying colors.

(Who knew you could use acrylic paint on fabric? Turns out if you iron the paint after application you can!)

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They both loved the finished products!

Once the shirts were set to dry, we were in need of baking a pie to enter into our homeschool group’s Pi Day pie contest. Even though our chocolate fudge pie  placed first last year, we decided to try our hand at a new recipe this year. I stumbled across this simple Key Lime Pie recipe from Martha Stewart and knew that it would be perfect for my daughter to bake on her own.  She even let little brother have a stir or two.

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With the pie cooled, she then topped it with whipped cream and sliced limes arranged in the shape of the Pi symbol, of course.

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Afterwords, just for fun,

they took delight in showing me their pie holes.

Silly kids!

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With the pie set aside, it was time to explore the world of circles.

Using Fraction Rings, my little guy had a fun time matching the colors and pieces together to form circles.

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Once all of the circles were formed, with a little help from big sister he was able to identify all of the circles out of our Winnie the Pooh Shape Flashcards and match them all to the correct color circle of the Fraction Rings.

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When all of the flashcards and circles had been matched, he moved on to creating different size circles using our double sided peg Geoboard. This is a favorite manipulative at our house since you never know just when a rubber band will shoot across the room. With a little boy running about, there tends to be a lot of these ‘accidents’.

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After playing with circles for a while, it was then time to enjoy a quick lunch before heading out the door for the park. Circle sandwiches, circle tortilla chips with hummus, and sliced orange rounds awaited them on their circle plates.

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With our Key Lime Pie in hand, we left for the park to join our homeschool friends.

After a brief lesson on circumference, diameter, radius and the number Pi, the children paired off into teams and went on a scavenger hunt around the playground to find circles. Just as in the exercise from Groovy Geometry: Games and Activities That Make Math Easy and Fun, each team was then charged with measuring the circumference and diameter of each circle with string.

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Using their strings they were then able to see just how many lengths of the  diameter were needed until the circumference string’s end was met.

They were all shocked to discover that no matter how small or large the circle, three times the diameter fit into each circumference. Even at their young ages, they were all able to discover the number Pi!

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With all of the measuring and calculating complete, it was time for the fovorite part of the day– the Pi Day Pie Tasting Contest. The children were able to vote on the best decorated pie and best tasting pie before indulging in the many wonderful pies. Although we did not win this year, we were just as happy to see our friends, a brother and sister pair, be crowned the King and Queen of Pi Day!

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And of course, upon returning home, we just had to enjoy our own pizza Pi(e) for dinner!

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Happy Pi Day!

Did you unleash your inner mathematician today, too? Share with us how you made math fun today!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Many school aged children across America today celebrated the life and works of Theodor Seuss Geisel.  March 3rd marks the 106th birthday of this great man who authored and illustrated some 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss.

So, in honor of Dr. Seuss and to share my love of reading with my own children, we celebrated in our homeschool, too!

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My children have a special place for Dr. Seuss.  My daughter was able to enjoy reading his books on her own to her baby brother just shortly after learning to read when he was an infant. With so many different characters and silly rhyming sentences it is no wonder that the books of Dr. Seuss have brought so much joy to children’s lives for so many years!

The day began with none other than Green Eggs and Ham . Although at the start Sam I am did not like green eggs and ham, not here or there, my children did like green eggs and ham!  They liked them here, there and everywhere. They especially liked them in a house!

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They did miss out on the ham though, since our family is observing the Lenten practices of abstaining from meat on Fridays. Nonetheless, they still enjoyed their green eggs for breakfast!

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Once breakfast was finished,

it was time to make some Oobleck.
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Mixing 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water,

we were able to create our own sticky, slimy green goo.

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Although we did not have to save our fair town from the sticky substance unlike Bartholomew and the Oobleck, it was good fun to see just how messy we could be! My daughter especially liked how the Oobleck changed from a solid to a liquid right in her hands.

Upon getting all cleaned up, it was time for some fun with a few games.

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 Are You My Mother? was read before diving into matching our toy animals to their mothers on our animal flash cards. My son was so thrilled to be able to complete this task on his own.

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Once all of the animals found their mothers, it was then time to see if we could match our left foot to our right foot.

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The Foot Book helped to tell us the difference between opposites before we set out to match shoes together to their mates.

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My little guy insisted that he complete this game himself, and was quite pleased when he was able to complete it quickly and correctly.

We then read There’s a Wocket in My Pocket! and proceeded to have a little fun with our memories. With a tray of various objects, we each were able to study the tray before having to turn around while the others removed one item and quietly hid it in a pocket.

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Upon turning back towards the tray, it was each players turn to notice what object was missing. There were lots of giggles as we had quite a time putting our memories to the test!

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Once our memories were tried, we then read Hop on Pop. With sidewalk chalk in hand, we headed outside where we were then able to Hop on Pop ourselves! Upon writing “POP” all up and down the driveway, we then hopped away!

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Hopping on pop for quite a while, we paused to read both The Alphabet Book
and Dr. Seuss’s ABC book. We then practiced writing our ABC’s with chalk. My little guy is just learning how to form his letters and loved this exercise since he was able to draw them as large as he wished!

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Upon returning inside, the children then continued on with their ABC’s by playing a game of Match It ABC’s.  The game is self correcting, so even my son was able to play along without my help while I prepared a simple lunch.

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Once lunch was all cleared away, we had a bit of fun with creating our own silly rhyming sentences just like Dr. Seuss. Playing a few rounds of DK Games: Silly Rhymes helped us to see just how fun and silly language can be.

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We then moved on to reading Ten Apples Up On Top!
and tried our hand at stacking apples.

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We were only able to stack them 3 high! Since we were not brave enough to try our hand at stacking the apples atop our own heads, (for fear of making applesauce!), we decided to draw self portraits and use cut apples and red finger paint to make apple prints on top instead!

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The children thought this was more fun than creating applesauce!

And of course, to end the day we just had to read The Cat in the Hat,

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and fashion our own Cat in the Hat Hats out of construction paper!

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Did you celebrate the life of Dr. Seuss today by sharing the joy of reading with your children? We’d love to hear it!

Funnix Reading Program (Psst! It’s FREE!)

Fan of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons?

Then you may want to check out the Funnix Reading Program made by the same creators, Siegfried Engelmann and Owen Engelmann.

The program offers 2 years worth of continuation lessons after the book 100 Easy Lessons has been completed. Designed for both the teacher and student to work through together via the computer, during each 30 minute lesson the narrator will prompt the student with questions and it is the job of the teacher to check for accuracy.

Right now until February 16, the creators of Funnix Reading Program are offering the program as a FREE download. What better way to find out if the program is right for your homeschool than at the price of FREE!

The entire 220 page program (including workbook activities) is available for a limited time as a download before they increase the sale price to $38 after the promotion ends. So swing on over and snag your copy before it is too late!

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Fan of 100 Easy Lessons or Funnix? Or did another program work for your family?

Please share!

Happy Groundhog Day!

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.”

~British Candlemas verse

In medieval Ireland, St. Brigid’s Feast Day was once celebrated on February 2, as it marked the beginning of when signs of spring were nearing. On this day, people marched into church processing with lit candles which were blessed by the priest. The candles were then taken home to encourage spring to come out of the darkness of winter and to rekindle the hearth fire. The day became known as Candlemas.

Gradually, over time, people began to attribute the sightings of animals leaving their hibernation burrows on Candlemas day and seeing their shadows to whether or not spring was near or winter would last a bit longer. This old custom has been transformed into what we now call Groundhog Day.

We continued this old custom today in our home with the children rising a bit earlier than usual in the hopes of catching good ol’Punxsutawney Phil emerging from his burrow.

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They first filled in their Groundhog Day prediction sheets stating whether or not he would see his shadow.DSC_0538

We then caught the live streaming coverage from Gobbler’s Knob and discovered that Phil had indeed seen his shadow! My little man was quite pleased with himself to learn that his prediction was correct–6 more weeks of winter!

After viewing Phil’s shadow, we settled into breakfast only to find that he was awaiting us there! Although no shadows appeared, this adorable little guy from Mandy made our breakfast sandwiches a bit more interesting!

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A few good books were read from the library book basket. We found this new one, The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old, from our local library.

I was thrilled to discover that it actually mentioned St. Brigid and the origination of the Feast of Candlemas! Just as the title states, it was full of interesting facts and tidbits, both historical, scientific and religious–a definite must to have on our shelves!

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After reading, my daughter filled in the Groundhog Day Fact Finder worksheet that I had created, and my son had a fun time cutting and pasting the images for his little worksheet.
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A discussion of the seasons, orbits, and the planets ensued. We even attempted to see our own shadows outside, but were dismayed due to the heavy rains that poured down. As the above British verse states, since there was cloud and rain perhaps winter will be gone for good!

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Toilet paper tubes, construction paper, craft sticks, and some glue helped to transform these ordinary objects into this adorable little groundhog and his home.

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Happy Groundhog Day!

Missed the groundhog today? Don’t worry! You can find all of the worksheets here for next year!

Are you happy with six more weeks of winter or disappointed that spring will not be here earlier?

Share how you really feel!

Ordering the Days :: How This Pen and Paper Gal Runs the Show

Even though there are some fantastic online organizers and mobile apps,sometimes pen and paper is advanced as it needs to get.

For the past 8 years

of our marriage I have been a pen and paper gal. There is something that is just so intuitive for me to scribble out little notes and lists for myself.

And I know I’m not alone.

For if I was, the new daily planners that roll onto the shelves this time of year would cease to be available.

While Cozi, Evernote, and Pinterest are all wonderful and useful in their own rights, during school hours, in our household, we have a strict no technology rule that is fiercely enforced.

For Mom.

I’ve come to know what my time suckers are and have learned to curb their viciousness! Because of this, the home management/homeschool binder is almost always open in plain sight upon the kitchen counter. This is the backbone of how our household is run and how it continues to operate smoothly.

Even with the abundance of planners scattered across store shelves, I have yet to find one that encompasses all of the needs that I as a homeschooling mother and homemaker require.  Since their seams are indistinguishable, I  have always resorted to crafting my own.

The mapping out of our days is vital, and since our family strives to celebrate our faith through our Domestic Church, the use of Romcal‘s free program generator of the General Roman Calendar has been put to good use. Not only can you print out the year’s calendar with notations of the liturgical seasons and feast days, you can also upload it to several other supported formats, (so all of you Outlook and iCal users can sync up). While our family does add it to our shared electronic family calendars, I also choose to print off an 18 month yearly calendar to insert into the binder. The printed Romcal calendar is subjected to appointments, play dates, sports practices, community classes and vacation days being scribbled onto it’s squares–often times it is the first place for such items before they make their way onto Cozi.

With Romacal’s printed calendar inserted in the binder, a simple turn of the page enables me to note upcoming feast days while seated at the table for lessons, and affords me  the ability to jot down plans for our celebrations upon my Domestic Church planning sheet. This handy little sheet, with space for crafts, games, activities, books, devotionals, and recipes, along with other notes saved to Evernote and Pinterest, serves as a landing place for ideas that I stumble across and helps to jog my memory about what items I already have around the house to help honor a particular saint. I generally begin planning for the feast days we will celebrate about a month in advance, which allows time for the purchase of any craft materials and food items and the reservation of any books from our local library.

Since celebrating the Saints in our Domestic Church is not only a part of our family devotions but a component of our homeschool’s religion curriculum, pages for lesson planning are also found in the binder. An 8 columned two page spread, with ample space for notes and agendas for each subject area, along with the availability to note the dates, week of school, and special events, serves me well before adding the information into our family’s saved data storage.

Along with the lesson planning sheets, there is also to be found a page for  attendance records from Donna Young. Our state mandates three hours of instruction for a set number of days to be tabulated for each homeschooled student and this handy little form is a simple way for me to notate that requirement, as well as allows me to see at a glance if our homeschool is on track for the year. It also serves as my form to be turned in at the end of the school year to our county school board, which saves me a little bit of time and sanity come June 30.

In our home, books are abundant and are an integral part of our homeschooling day. To help manage the flux of books from the library, as well as from our own shelves, a book log is a must. For every book read as part of our curriculum, as well as those read for leisure by our daughter, each is recorded along with the date completed on this Donna Young form.

To ensure that comprehension has been maintained, we utilize Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure quizzes, also noting the score on the book log. This record can be quite impressive by the end of the school year, but it also helps to ensure that she is reading a range of genres and good literature.

Tucked just behind the book log pages is a handy little zippered pencil pouch which holds all of the year’s library receipts. Over the years I have purchased many a book that now resides upon library shelves thanks to my forgetting of due dates! While I have not completely conquered this monster, the retaining of the receipts, as well as noting immediately the due dates on the Romcal calendar, has helped to curve it immensely.

Even though schooling takes up the majority of our day’s hours, I am still the head maid, gourmet chef and personal shopper for our household, and have to ensure that all of the duties in my job description are not overlooked.

I am of the belief that even though we homeschool our children, our home does not have to resemble that of a classroom with scraps of cut paper on the floor and glue smeared across tables. I have found that a breakdown of the housecleaning tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual and annual duties helps for our entire household to know what needs to be accomplished. The list of chores to be completed also has space to note their completion dates. This has proved to be a tremendous help. Now everyone in the home knows where their attention can be focused, and we are not left to guessing as to when the monthly, semi-annual or annual duties were last crossed off the list.

Aside from keeping orderly living spaces, I am also responsible for serving three daily meals in our home. This can be a daunting task and much preparation is needed so that I am not constantly needing to pop into the store for forgotten items. Each Sunday evening I set aside time to prepare a weekly menu for all three meals, plus snacks and the occasional desert, taking care to note our schedule for the week, as well as proposed feast days to celebrate. Once the menu is set, the needed items are checked off the master grocery list, which is then tracked along onto my grocery shopping venture.

Since I am not only the main grocery shopper but also the main curriculum buyer, there is also space for all of the receipts from school related purchases and paid extra curricular activities. Although our state does not offer any tax breaks for homeschool families as of yet, the receipts help to ensure that our family has stayed within our allocated amount or to know if the budget needs to be adjusted for the following year. It also helps that all of the contact information for each item is in one place should there be a problem or missing piece from a particular purchase.

All of this, and often times more, are gathered together into a 2″ wide three ring binder which is then subdivided with file tabs. Each tab is labeled appropriately allowing for ease of navigation. The Weekly Menu, Master Grocery List, and Master Cleaning Checklist are all laminated allowing for each to be used over and over again from week to week.

Never had a homemaking/homeschool binder before?

Then I encourage you to take advantage of these resources and get organized in this New Year! You can assemble your own binder by selecting the images above and printing the pages that are of use to you.

With their help, along with Organizational Apps for the New Year and The Master Schedule, you, too, can be well on your way to Well Ordered Days.