Friday, November 6, 2009

Word Turkeys

The 6 year old and I have been working on nouns, verbs, and adjectives for the past few weeks, and I have been struggling to come up with new and interesting ways for him to absorb this knowledge. So, while I was browsing the (FREE) Super Teacher Worksheets website, I came across a cool turkey template that I thought would be perfect!

I'm not sure what this worksheet was originally meant for, but I have tailored it for our own purposes.

I printed out 3 pages. 1 for noun, verb, and adjective. Then, I re-wrote the existing instructions (cut BEFORE coloring?? Really? I don't think so.) and had my son fill in holiday related words. We are doing 1 turkey a week and displaying them as Thanksgiving decorations. Pretty sweet, huh??

This is a great example of what I love most about homeschooling - the flexibility to find my own creative ways to demonstrate a topic.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Failed Experiments...

As I mentioned previously, I purchased a Pandia Press Chemistry E-book awhile back. I have to admit that, up until today, we have enjoyed the content of this curriculum. face and hands are currently covered in lemon extract, and that makes me irritated.

The experiment we did today discussed atoms, and the instructions involved pouring almond extract, lemon extract, water, and cinnamon in to separate balloons and then inflating them. The point is to determine whether the scent molecules are small enough to pass through the balloon atoms. Sounds pretty straightforward, yes??

Umm. No.

First of all, I don't think the editors actually tested all of these experiments prior to putting them in the book. If they had, they would have clearly stated that you need an eye dropper (rather than a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon) to fill the balloons. Because, it is important not to get any scent on the outside of the balloon and that is IMPOSSIBLE when you are using a spoon-shaped device to pour liquid into the rubbery, cylindrical-ish neck of teeny-tiny balloon.

Secondly, they explicitly state that you are to use balloons that have never been inflated. WHAT?? I think we have all had near-aneurysms from trying to blow up brand new, try that with potent-fumed extract in the bottom. GACK!! And then, while trying not to burst a vessel in my eyeball, the lemon extract balloon EXPLODED all over my face. Many expletives later, I decided that 1 balloon with scent in it was more than enough to complete the experiment.

Technically, the experiment wasn't a failure because my son learned what he was supposed to learn, but he also learned some new and colorful language to share with his sailor buddies. I may need to do practice runs on these experiments the night before we do our lessons. I had a really tough time today, and now I'm a lemon-scented grump. :(

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thrifty Homeschooling

I frequently shop at the local thrift stores for my recycled apparel sewing projects, but I never realized how many homeschooling supplies could be found there too!

I got these awesome posters for only $2!
And these story writing posters came in the same bag with the items above:

Of course there are always books:
And, how about this sweet find for $1??
I don't feel like homeschooling should break the bank. People have been schooling their own children for thousands of years, and they have done it with few other resources besides their own experience. I am trying to follow that example and demonstrate to my son that opportunities for learning are all around us. But, sometimes posters, books, and child-friendly clocks are fun to have. Especially when they only cost a few dollars. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009


This week we took homeschooling on the road since we planned a visit to my in-laws out of state. I thought that the quiet "backwoods" haven of his grandparent's house would be a tranquil environment conducive to uninterrupted lessons. It didn't occur to me that grandma's house is a "rule-free-zone." After cereal for dinner, a shower of new toys, and hours upon hours of puppet play with grandma, I realized that my plans for scheduled lessons were deluded. So, instead of being the mean mom that taints the few days a year that my son gets to see his paternal grandparents, I just wrote the whole week off as a homeschool wash. We did get through one lesson early in the week, but his heart wasn't really in it and I doubt he even retained anything.

I plan to start fresh next week, and I even bought a Chemistry Curriculum via E-book from Pandia Press to inspire the boy. He loves to do experiments, and this lesson package is fabulous. I didn't expect to buy any pre-made curriculums for this homeschooling endeavor, but he is so interested in chemistry that I felt it would be worth the investment. Plus, it was only 30-some-odd dollars, so it's not as if I'm cashing in any bonds to provide this for my son. I definitely want to encourage his passions, and I'm confident this will add another level of excitement to our current activities.

I just hope that the trip to Grandma's isn't going to make lessons harder to focus on next week. He's always a little wonky after we get back from vacation. I guess I will just have to plow through the poutiness and woo him with new material. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Homeschooling is hard

I am obsessed with whether or not I am doing this "homeschooling" thing right. Am I giving him enough structure? Too much structure? Freedom to make his own conclusions? Skills to learn from his mistakes?

I have to keep reminding myself that education is a cumulative effort. That it is a progression. I need to step outside the present and realize that I am laying a foundation for the next lesson, and not prepping him to take the SATs tomorrow.

This homeschooling thing is hard. But, although I am harrassed by self-doubt, I can already see the difference homeschool has made to my son. He is excited to learn, fully engaged in each activity, and aware of his abilities. Regardless of whether I'm doing it "right" or "wrong," he is flourishing. I just need to teach MYSELF to focus on his success rather than my imagined failures. I'm sure it will get easier....eventually.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Left to their own devices...

One of the advantages to rearing an only child is that they learn independence pretty early. For example, as I was preparing dinner the other day I peeked around the corner and watched my son practice his handwriting - completely unprompted. I love that he has a passion for learning and an obsession with grasping concepts/techniques. I can't even count how many times he has erased and re-written a word until every letter is perfect. But, I worry about his fear of failure, and I consistently try to encourage an easy-going attitude towards making mistakes. It. Is. Really. Hard. I want him to realize his potential, but I also want him to cut himself a little slack.

I think his perfectionism is the source of his love of reading. He can just understand a word in context if he doesn't know the definition. He can't get enough of it. The other night, I went to bed around 1am, and I caught him awake, reading in bed. It's hard to punish a child for being unwilling to put a book down. Especially when I am often guilty of the same thing (which is why I was headed to bed so late that night). I, obviously, explained that he could finish his book in the morning and that sleep was more important. But, I felt like a hypocrite until I justified my actions by reminding myself that he is 6.

Back to the point, my only child takes it upon himself to complete a project or perfect a skill. He can often be found counting change, writing stories, and searching Google for information on flounders without any adult encouragement. He seeks his own knowledge on his own terms, and I am merely a guide. And I feel damn lucky to be his mom.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Easing in to it...

So, the badgering about when I am going to "start" homeschooling is starting to grate my nerves a little bit. It's as if my family and friends expect me to set up desks and a chalkboard, wake my son at 7am, and crack open textbooks. There is a serious misunderstanding about what this "homeschooling" idea is all about. The public school system has brainwashed most of us in to thinking that a child cannot learn without all of the bulletin boards, worksheets, and flourescent lighting of a formal classroom.

Well, today is my "official" homeschool start date. At least, as far as other people are concerned. I feel that I have been homeschooling since the day my son entered the world, but that is too much to explain to others. We are going to the zoo today, and my son has written a list of specific animals he wants to see, and has been prepped on identifying animals by whether they are mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, or amphibians. I am hoping this will be a fun and rewarding "start" to a fulfilling educational year.

And away we go....