7 Steps to Meal Planning Success

#homeschool meal planning

7 Steps to Meal Planning Success

1. Organize your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Throw away anything that has expired and anything that you’ve had for a year and haven’t used yet. Sort everything out and shelve it by type: Canned soups, veggies, and fruits lined up on one shelf; rice, pasta, and boxed side dishes in one place; a designated drawer for frozen meat. If everything is easy to see and access, you will be more motivated to cook, and you’ll save money by knowing what you have when you make your shopping list. Cleaning out the freezer is like going on a treasure hunt!

2. Choose simple storage options. Clear plastic containers with snap-on lids are great for keeping cereal, crackers, and cookies fresh. Small baskets make single-serve snacks easily accessible for kids. Recycled jars are great for storing beans, dried fruit, rice, and nuts. When you come home from grocery shopping, empty things into containers and put everything in its place. Freezer bags are such a money saver, allowing me to purchase large family-size packs of meat and divide it up when I get home.

3. Sort through cookbooks. Weed out the ones you never use and whittle down to a few that have recipes your family likes. Store them front and center on a pantry shelf or on the kitchen counter so you can easily grab them for inspiration. Use sticky tabs to mark pages to find favorites quickly. Write notes inside to remind you of alterations or substitutions, or for meals that bombed or were especially successful. Bookmark your favorite recipes online, and pin them to a Pinterest board to find later. Many cookbook recipes are available on the author’s or publisher’s websites, so you really don’t need as many cookbooks as you think.

4. Write down, or type out, every meal you can think of in your repertoire. Ask your family for help. Once you have all of them listed, sort them by common ingredients. For instance, group spaghetti, chili, sloppy joes, and beef tacos; and chicken pie, chicken stir-fry, and chicken parmesan. Now, consult your recipes for any additions you want to make to your list. Strive for at least 25 options. Check out my Easy Meals Pinterest board for some ideas.

IMG_1698-001

5. Create a master shopping list. Decide what common ingredients you need to stock in your pantry, such as canned tomato sauce, pasta, spices, flour and sugar, cereal, and staples like coffee, tea, and chocolate. Determine what ingredients you can live without, and don’t be afraid to skip them when following recipes. I will buy some specialty items, but I hate to waste money on a spice I’ll only use for one recipe, only to have it get dusty on the shelf. When planning your weekly shopping trip, consult your master list first.

6. Make your monthly menu plan. Look at your calendar, and choose meals accordingly: Crockpot meals for game nights; more involved meals for at-home days; quick and easy meals for field trip or co-op days. Be strategic about planning meals that you grouped on your list so you can cook large portions of a common ingredient and store the rest for another night. Take advantage of leftovers to create another meal: spaghetti becomes chili bean casserole; leftover chicken chopped up goes into chicken pie or becomes BBQ sandwiches.

DSC01441

7. Keep family mealtime a priority. A little advance planning will ensure that you’ll always be able to answer the question, “What’s for supper?” and you can gather your family together at mealtime. Enlist the kids to help with prep, cooking, setting the table, and clean up (Click here for some Kids in the Kitchen ideas). You can even incorporate cooking lessons into your schoolwork. Gather around the table together at the end of the day to celebrate, reconnect, and share.

 

 

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

The Homeschool Balancing Act

homeschool balancing act @homeschoolsurvival

 

Homeschooling and Getting it All Done

We moms know that life in general can be a balancing act, but when you throw homeschooling in with all the other stuff you have to get done, it can seem like an overwhelming task. On top of that, you might be teaching multiple grades, tackling high school subjects, or dealing with a curious toddler. Field trips, errands, sports activities, and trips to the vet keep you on the road A LOT. Some days, it seems like it’s time to get supper started before you’ve even pulled that first load of laundry out of the washer.

So, how do you manage the homeschool balancing act?

Well, I don’t really have all the answers, but after eleven years of homeschooling, there are a few things I’ve learned that I can share with you. First and foremost, accept that right now — this moment — this is life. Life isn’t a “someday when I catch up” moment. When you are in the thick of it with dirty dishes, piles of laundry, science projects on the kitchen counter, and fussing kids, embrace it, enjoy it, and make the best of it. You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating, your kids are only young once. Don’t save your best for “one day.” Live it now: enjoy this time with your children.

This realization brings me peace, which helps me maintain focus. And that leads to number two.

You will never catch up. Accept it. There will always be more meals to plan, more dirty towels to wash, and more math problems to figure out. So instead of wasting your time playing catch up, chart a course for what you want to accomplish each day, and let the rest go. It will be there tomorrow. My household list includes getting the dishes out of the sink and starting a load of clothes before bedtime. (I can, however rest easy even if there’s a pile of unfolded laundry hidden away in my closet and a full dishwasher waiting to be unloaded.)

For school, instead of looking at a daily schedule, I focus on where I want us to be by the end of each week. Which leads to my third tip: plan ahead, but be willing to go with the flow. Having a written plan for schoolwork helps keep us moving forward, but I also embrace those “light bulb” moments when they arise. Sometimes, spontaneity brings about the most memorable learning experiences.

If you’re in the midst of planning for the new school year, and the task seems daunting, relax a little, celebrate this season of life, and give yourself some grace.

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Aiming for Mastery

Aiming for Mastery @homeschoolsurvival

This time of year, many homeschool moms start discussing mastery.

How do you know when students have mastered a subject and are ready to move on to the next level? Some experts recommend that you complete at least 75% of a textbook to consider it credit-worthy.

But, what if you don’t use a textbook? Or, what if you switch curriculum mid-year?

According to HSLDA, “For courses that do not use a standard high school-level textbook (perhaps you are putting together your own unit study, or you are using an integrated curriculum), log the hours that your child spends completing the course work. One credit is approximately 120-180 hours of work.” (http://www.hslda.org/highschool/docs/EvaluatingCredits.asp)

With those guidelines in mind, I go one step further when evaluating my students’ readiness to move to the next level. I move ahead when they’re ready, and I don’t move ahead if they’re not.

It isn’t easy to let go of the feeling that you have to complete this or that, or that you have to check this or that box in the plan book. It is also a struggle when you have the feeling that you’re behind if you haven’t reached a certain chapter in the book by now. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been homeschooling for eleven years, and every year is still a new experience as we move into upper level high school classes. But, I decided it is more important that my kids know enough to move forward than it is to finish the book by a certain time.

Aiming for mastery is the goal:

  • When my youngest masters printing, we will move into cursive.
  • When my oldest masters Algebra I, we’ll move on to Algebra II.
  • We might set anatomy aside for a while and study ecology and astronomy during the summer months, and then pick up where we left off.
  • Even when 180 days have been completed, we will continue reading our read-aloud novel until we finish it, because we really want to know how everything turns out.

Equipping my kids with the joy of lifelong learning is my primary target.

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

The Importance of Field Trips for Learning

Homeschool SurvivalFun Summer Field Trips

Whether you take summer off from school or continue to homeschool year-round like we do, the warmer weather and more relaxed schedules provide opportunities for getting out and exploring your community through field trips.

Field trips are an important aspect of education as kids get to see, hear, and do. Oral histories and hands-on experiences lead to discovery learning, and this kind of learning really sticks. My kids recall things they’ve heard from the people who experienced them much more than from simply reading about them.

From perspectives of World War II as a young Jewish girl or as a young American soldier, to walking around in Shoeless Joe Jackson’s house, these real experiences leave a lasting impression on kids.

When I taught in a public school classroom and ventured out to a museum with my classes to see a Holocaust exhibit, not only was it the first time most of them had even been in a museum, but the artifacts and displays immersed them in the history we had been reading about. They got to see first-hand that history is real. Those kids will never forget that.

I’ve learned that all you have to do is ask, and people are more than willing to provide a field trip for you. (Don’t forget to send them a thank you note!)

The Ultimate Summer List of Free or Low-Cost Field Trips:

  • Art museum
  • American Legion museum
  • History museum
  • Baseball museum
  • Professional sports team training camp
  • U-pick farm
  • Organic farm
  • Alpaca farm
  • Goat farm
  • Dairy
  • Plant nursery
  • Grain mill
  • State parks
  • Fish hatchery
  • Horse stables
  • Zoo (membership saves money if you go often or have a large family, and is often reciprocal)
  • Veterinary clinic
  • Dental clinic
  • Nursing home
  • Restaurants (cost of food only, usually w/ a group discount and educational talk/tour included)
  • Grocery Store (Behind-the-scenes tours)
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Library tours/talks/classes
  • Post office
  • Fire station
  • Police station
  • City Hall (meet the mayor)
  • Airport
  • Television station
  • Radio station
  • Newspaper office
  • Book printer
  • Civic center
  • Free children’s concerts given by the local symphony
  • Children’s theater performances
  • Historical homes
  • Historical monuments
  • Manufacturing plant
  • Recycling center
  • Waste-water treatment facility

Click here to take a look at how I keep records of our field trips for school credit and print my field trip form.

Have any ideas to add to the list? Add them in the comments!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Interest-Led Learning for High School

Interest-Led Learning for High School via homeschoolsurvival.com

My son is becoming passionate about filmmaking, from script writing to directing to camera-operating. He started with a flip camera, then added a camcorder and a stop-motion animation program with a webcam.  He’ worked all summer one year cutting grass to save money for a “really nice” camera, and everything on his Christmas list is related to that (boom mic, lights, reflectors.) He now spends most of his free time writing scripts — pages and pages of scripts. Because of his passion for the art of filmmaking, I decided to craft an interest-led learning elective course for him for high school fine arts credit.

Stop Motion Animation

My son has already produced both live-action and stop-motion movies to the delight of all of our family members (grandparents make an especially appreciative audience.) Stopmotion Explosion: Animate Anything and Make Movies- Epic Films for $20 or Less has been a great jumping off point into the live action stuff that he really wants to do.
For part of his literature/language arts and elective studies, I have scoured the internet and other avenues to find resources to fit into our curriculum. It hasn’t been easy to find resources appropriate for teens, but I have managed to put together some things that are working so far.

Free Resources

Educational guides and lesson plans for movies such as Because of Winn Dixie, Hoot, Where the Red Fern Grows, Bridge to Terabithia, Narnia, Holes, City of Ember, and more are available as free downloads from Walden Media. We have used these guides along with the novels and the movies as “going beyond the book” studies.
We also found tons of resources for teachers and students at Oscars.org, including screenwriting, animation, visual effects, cinematography, and more. Although I don’t have any filmmaking experience, I’ve been able to piece together enough resources to help my son pursue his interests.

Film Curriculum

I’ve found some filmmaking books and curriculum as well, such as Filmmaking for Teens: Pulling Off Your Shorts and Movies as Literature curriculum from Design-a-Study. These are the base for our coursework, with all the other above-listed resources as supplements to this course.

The Movies as Literature course is an intensive study of movies as short stories. This program is not just about watching movies. Each movie studied includes 25 discussion questions, including topics for compositions and extended activities with either reading assignments, history research, or other movies related to the one being studied. Movies include both classic and modern selections, including ShaneThe Quiet ManRear WindowThe Maltese FalconE.T., The Philadelphia Story, and several more. For Shane, we read the novel before watching the movie, then the topics studied in this lesson included:

  • Character development vs. stereotypes
  • Film techniques
  • Plot development
  • Character motivation
  • Foreshadowing
  • Setting
  • Mood
  • Symbolism
  • Underlying messages about:  what makes a man, what makes a hero, whether or not the end justifies the means, whether ‘A man who lives by the sword, dies by the sword,’ the positive contributions of God-fearing families to settlements in new territories.

The student workbook isn’t required for the program, but I bought it so that I could make notes in my book and my son could have his own book to follow along in as we discuss the material.  Although this is a high school level course, a child strong in language arts could easily use this for eighth grade.

Enthusiasm for Learning

Above all, I want my kids to be excited about learning. If I can incorporate their interests into our curriculum, a huge plus to homeschooling, they are more enthusiastic and motivated. I love it when they ask me to “do school.”

I’d love to hear what you do for interest-led electives in your homeschool!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram

 

Embracing the Teen Years

homeschool

First steps, first words, first birthday . . .

We celebrate these milestones and look forward to them from the day our children are born. The teen years seem so far away, but they arrive before we know it.

Many homeschool parents look upon the teen years with dread. They worry about how they’ll teach more difficult subjects, how hard it will be to keep track of grades, and [gulp] Driver’s Ed. Unfortunately, some parents believe that they cannot even continue to homeschool the teen years: What if my teen is weird and unsocialized for life?

I’d like to reassure you that:

1. You can teach more difficult subjects. When my oldest was in kindergarten, I began having the inklings of doubt for his high school years. Algebra and upper level science scared me to death. A funny thing happened, though. As my son grew older, he also grew to become more independent. I don’t have to do the algebra and science; HE does. I am here to help him, and I coach him and facilitate lessons, but the real work is up to him. And, thankfully, there are plenty of wonderful homeschool materials out there that make these subjects not only doable, but interesting and even fun.

Some math curriculum is computer based, with a virtual teacher to lead the student through the lessons (DIVE CDs for Saxon and Teaching Textbooks). Dr. Wile’s Apologia science texts are written to the student, so I really only have to help by gathering materials for experiments and discussing the study guide questions with my son. The reading is up to him.

Spanish is pretty much self-taught using a computer based program as well. And, supplementary CDs are benefitting the entire family as we listen to them in the car and all learn new vocabulary. (Rosetta Stone and Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day).

History is similarly written to the student, so he does the reading, and I follow the prompts in the teacher’s guide for discussions (Sonlight, TruthQuest, Beautiful Feet). We’ve learned that there are tons of “helps” out there if we need them, such as supplementary notebooking materials, study aids, and tutors. (Donna Young’s free science printables, Harmony Arts free notebooking pages, and Khan Academy’s free tutorials).

However, even though my son is working more independently, I am finding that I am actually enjoying learning many things alongside him. I didn’t enjoy some subjects very much when I was in school, but I am discovering that homeschooling is producing a love for learning in me as well as in my kids. Don’t forget to sit down with your teen and learn alongside him! It will benefit you both.

2. You can keep track of grades. The only thing I do differently for middle and high school grading is to switch over to a system for letter grades instead of the Satisfactory/Needs Improvement/Unsatisfactory elementary grading system. There are many free resources to help you figure out how to do this, but don’t over think it too much. Establish a grading scale in the beginning (see your state’s department of education website for requirements in your state), and use the numerical grade on the progress report and report card. Include the letter grade alongside it if you’d like, but the numerical grade is what you will use to calculate GPA and class rankings.

3. Driver’s Ed is scary, but inevitable, so you might as well face your fears. When your teen is ready to drive, start out slow – baby steps! It isn’t easy to sit in the passenger seat, and I am still learning to trust my teen. I asked our insurance company to send us free materials for teen drivers. They sent us a booklet with mini-lessons based on driving scenarios and a DVD with tips and safety measures, along with warnings about driver distractions. There is also a pledge my son signed before getting behind the wheel the first time, promising never to text and drive, etc. (Some driving schools even offer discounts to homeschool families.)

4. Teens are weird anyway. They are goofy and gangly and want to stay up all night and sleep all day. Their rooms are disaster zones, and they eat everything in sight. They can be moody, stubborn, and too silent at times.

But, they are also delightful.

You will discover how fun it is to listen to their opinions on things, to get to know them as emerging adults, and to just hang out with them. Their independence gives you more room to trust them with greater responsibilities, which is an enormous help with household tasks, caring for younger siblings, and running errands.

Just remember that they are still children, and they still need your guidance, your time, and your love and affection. They never get to old for these!

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Homeschool Convention Survival Tips

Hitting the Road: #Homeschool Convention Time via homeschoolsurvival.com

Whether you’re a newbie homeschool or a seasoned veteran, homeschool conventions provide a valuable source of encouragement, information, and fellowship.

Hitting the Road: Homeschool Convention Time!

The first time I walked into a convention center for a homeschool conference, I had already been homeschooling for nine years, but I was immediately OVERWHELMED!

After attending several conferences over the past few years, I’ve learned a thing or two, which make the experience less-stressful and more valuable.

So, if you’re headed to a convention this spring, here are some survival tips for you:

  • Look at the list of vendors and speakers for the convention you are attending on the conference website, and note which ones you want to be sure to visit.
  • Make a list of any specific products you want to check out. Go to sessions sponsored by those vendors to learn more about them.
  • Keep a running list of items you might want to purchase after seeing them. I didn’t purchase anything on our first walk-through. I used that first time to “window shop,” and then went back to buy things later. This prevents extra trips to the car or having to haul around a bunch of stuff, and it also gave me pause to think before making an impulse buy.
  • Speaking of those trips to the car — pack snacks and drinks, and take breaks! Food can be pricey at convention centers, and many will not let you bring anything in, so use your car as home-base. Especially if your kids attend with you!
  • Schedule time for an initial walk-through, and plan to go back at least once more to be sure you cover it all. Planning to go back helped me prevent impulse purchases because I knew I would have time to go stop back by the booths.
  • Many vendors offer coupons or codes to use later, so you don’t have to feel pressure to buy at the convention.
  • Be flexible and willing to change your product list. I was surprised to find that some products were not what I thought they would be and to discover new products I never would have considered before seeing them and hearing the speakers.
  • Use DISCERNMENT! Realize that a convention is a money-maker for the host, and some (many) of the vendors might not necessarily have the same worldview, parenting philosophy, etc. that you do. Do your research! Be aware that vendors and speakers are presenting their best face at the conference.
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun! My goal is not to “shop” as much as it is to “see.” Bringing home a few new things is just a bonus.

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

homeschool survival

 

It’s the middle of the school year, and your child is not thriving or growing. You think it is time to pull him out of traditional school, but you aren’t sure you can do this. You might be wondering, can I homeschool? What will my family think? What will my friends think? How do I start?

I found myself in this same quandary a few years ago when we took the plunge and started on our homeschool journey. Okay, it was eleven years ago, but time has whizzed by like a shooting star.

I felt like I was literally stuck “between a rock and a hard place” when my oldest son was in kindergarten. It just wasn’t working out—he was unhappy, and I was unhappy. It was really due to a combination of things, but I could see the difference in his attitude and in his enthusiasm for learning. School was a requirement, not a joy. It was a place where he was under the care and influence of others all day without me. I would ask him how his day went and what he learned and did each day, but all I usually got in response was, “okay” or “I don’t know.”

After meetings with the teacher and the director of the program, and talks with other students’ moms, I began to discover what some of the problems were. Basically, however, he was not thriving in the classroom setting, and it was doing damage to him.

So, here I was, seven months pregnant and with a toddler in the house, bringing my six-year-old home to school. What was I going to do with a newborn and a toddler while I learned how to “do school” with my son? How were we going to break the news to the grandparents?

Well, you know what? We did fine. After a month or so of decompressing from the school routines, we began to find a rhythm in our days. We started off slow, with a simple curriculum to guide us, and my son eventually found his joy in learning again. My only regret is that we didn’t start homeschooling sooner.

So, if you find yourself stuck in that hard place, I’m here to tell you that you CAN do this. And, there are a bunch of us who have been at it awhile who would love to share our successes and failures with you.

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne onBloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

 

What to Read on a Snowy Day

DSC03771-003

We don’t get many snowy days where we live, but when we do, you will find my boys knee deep in it. Okay, maybe only bottom-of-foot deep, but it’s still heaven to them!

When they finally come inside to get warm and dry, what’s a mom to do with all that leftover energy? You can’t “do school” on a snow day, can you? Well, being that we are homeschoolers, why not turn a snow day into a unit study?

(This post contains affiliate links)

So, grab a cup of hot chocolate and plenty of marshmallows, snuggle under a warm blanket, and spend some quality time celebrating all things SNOW!

  1. Snow by Uri Shulevitz is a Caldecott Honor Book that depicts what happens in a village when a single flake of snow appears. Watch as this gray world suddenly becomes vibrant and alive. When you’re done reading, try painting your own scene with watercolors.
  2. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is the classic story of a little boy named Peter’s day in the snow. Peter makes interesting tracks in the snow by pointing his feet in different directions and by dragging his feet along. When you head back outside, see what kind of tracks you can make.
  3. Snowballs by Lois Ehlert is a fun picture book that uses collage illustrations. If you don’t have enough snow for a snowman (like us), gather some materials like the ones in the book or use scraps from magazines and junk mail to make a snowman collage on paper. You can also cut scraps from Christmas cards and leftover wrapping paper.
  4. The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader, another Caldecott Medal recipient, is a timeless classic (1948) that shows what happens to the animals when the big snow arrives. This book explores migration and hibernation, as well as depicting how the other animals prepare for winter. Pull out your nature journals and draw what the animals in your backyard are doing. Be sure to throw some seeds out for the birds and watch from your window to see what appears.
  5. The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson is a science lesson in picture book form. Learn how snow is formed and see enlarged actual photographs of snow crystals as if you were looking through a microscope. Take a piece of dark card stock and a magnifying glass outside to catch your own snow crystal and see what it looks like. This book might also inspire you to make cut paper snowflakes in different patterns to decorate your window!

Even if you don’t get snow where you live, you can always turn the air conditioning on and pretend it’s snowing outside! Everyone deserves a snow day once in a while.

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne onBloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

A Different Perspective on Homeschooling Algebra

 

Algebra - A different Perspective

Tears.

That is the first word that comes to my mind when I think of the word algebra. My past experience with algebra wasn’t great. I struggled to understand the concepts, spent hours studying, and got help with my homework from friends and family. I just didn’t get it.

When we decided to homeschool eleven years ago, I knew I’d have to face my fear one day in the far off future. I think algebra is one of the subjects that causes many homeschool parents to think they cannot continue through high school. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that far off future day arrived at my house this year, and yes, we are still homeschooling!

I still don’t get algebra, but we have discovered that trying something different and changing our perspective has helped make it a reachable goal. My son has the tendency to want to focus on reading and writing like his mama, so he isn’t too enthusiastic about algebra either. I realized that I needed to check my attitude and not let it reflect onto him.

Whether it’s algebra, chemistry, phonics, or spelling that make you break out in hives, trying a new perspective just might help you make it through your homeschool day and year.

Try a Different Perspective

Find a tutor, or at least find another family member or friend who can explain the material in a different way. A group of friends and I have formed a teen literature discussion group, which I am teaching. My background is in English, so this is right up my alley. I found a former math teacher who meets with my son once a week to review and explain things that are muddy.

Search online. My son and I have discovered many free resources for algebra online, and he is especially responding to the videos on Khan Academy’s website. These give my son a visual explanation and a different “take” on the concepts in his book.

If you’ve given a curriculum your all, and it still isn’t clicking, don’t be afraid to try something else. Our first algebra curriculum just didn’t have enough explanations, so we called it a wash and found a substitute. You can always save the other one for a different child, sell it at a used book sale, or pass it along to a family who could use it.

Break things down into manageable pieces. Instead of trying to complete an entire lesson in one sitting, spread it out and spend twenty minutes on it, then move on to something else and come back to it.

Stick with it every day. Because algebra is so challenging for us, we do it EVERY DAY. That keeps everything in our brains. Even if it just means watching a short video or working a few problems, daily exposure really helps us not have to go back and re-learn past material.

Don’t move ahead until you’ve mastered a concept. Even if it takes a few days to complete a lesson, it is important not to move ahead “lost.” One of the luxuries of homeschooling!

Sit down with your child, no matter what his age. Even a teen benefits from your undivided attention and should not be expected to work independently all the time. Just being there beside them to guide them through the lesson and offer support makes a world of difference in their attitudes.

Don’t cry. It’s only algebra (or phonics, or chemistry, or…)!

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.