What are you getting for back to school?

So here’s the question: What are you getting for school this year?

Most homeschooling families tend to be more lesson focused during traditional school times- when all the other kids are in school. Many homeschool charters and curricula and stores know this and focus on the same September-May calendar.

So what are you getting?

I know we need some supplies. We need new crayons and markets since ours have been destroyed by a summer of art 🙂 We need some more paper. But I’m not sure what else we are getting. I know we need to plan some theme
units and I think until that is done we wot be getting anything else.

Do you have any favorite supplies that are on your must have list? What are they?

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First fractions.

Fractions can be a hard concept to grasp. The idea of half or third is abstract. So to help the young ones learn, make fractions a practical experience.

We took a banana, strawberry, one-cup measuring cup, and pretzels out in the backyard.

We split the strawberry in half. I had Nicholas take the knife and cut the strawberry in half. Then we added two halves to get a whole. I then gave him the pretzels and asked him to break them in half. He managed just fine 🙂

We did the same thing with thirds but used the banana because it was bigger. Then we split the pretzels into thirds.

When we finished we ate the fruit and pretzels as a snack.

Then we learned what fractions look like while written. I gave Nicholas the hose and had him fill up the measuring cup I the 1/2 mark. He asked what it looked like and I said it was 1/2. Then he filled it up. I asked how much more he needed to make a full cup and he answered correctly. We repeated this with thirds. When he got stuck, we pulled out the pretzels and demonstrate again before trying the measuring cup again.

We had a blast outside and learned our fractions and how to use a measuring cup.

Park play day.

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I’m a big fan of making play count. Sometimes we are outside all day during the summer and it is hard to do book learning. So instead we turn to a different type of lessons and skills.

Motor skills are important. For the young set, parks are a great place to develop gross motor skills. For older kids, parks are places to learn to play together, to use their imagination, and grow.

For me and mine, we also learn German at the park. My husband is fabulous and teaches me what I need to know the night before. I learned the commands for: go play, have fun, run more. I learned the words for different types of park equipment and things we might do at the park.

Then I made the park a German zone. I spoke only German to the kids and let them speak only German. It was a fun hour that we couldn’t do in rainy weather.

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Sculpting from Styrofoam.

Feathers and colored pipe cleaners made great things to create with when using a Styrofoam base. They are colorful and yet sharp enough for kids to press into the foam on their own.

We often get packages from family. Many times these packages are filled with various Styrofoam pieces.

Now, normally the Styrofoam goes right into the recycling. But this time, we used it. We got a kitchen set delivered, and it was packed with a bunch of Styrofoam squares, cubes, rectangles, and other assorted pieces. I saved some of the thicker ones so we could do an art project later.

Here’s the great thing about using Styrofoam as a base for sculpting and art projects – no need for glue! Simply push everything into the Styrofoam and have fun.

I cut the foam into various sizes and shapes. Then I put the feathers and pipe cleaners out on the table and said “let’s go!” I demonstrated how to stick the feathers and pipe cleaners into the foam and then sat back and let the kids create.

It only took Abby (20 months) about 5 minutes to get tired of creating. But then she ran over to the kitchen and started playing there. Nicholas sat at the table for about an hour, creating all kinds of sculptures from the various materials. It was great to see him sit down and create something on his own – without my help or guidance at all. It was all his creativity that came out.

What was also neat was hearing the story behind each creation. I made sure to ask him to describe it to me, and he always gave me a great story. It was neat to watch him create the art and the story. He even gave his “best” one to his grandmother so she could have some of his art in her house.

It was a fun project that used things we already had around the house.

Google’s new “World Wonders” tool.

Google has been hard at work helping homeschoolers – even if they don’t know it.

They recently came out with their World Wonders page from their Cultural Institute. It has a link to various World Wonders. It shows the wonder in 3-D on the screen and you can tour through it. Some of the Wonders can be toured in various ages (they used computer modeling).

Even better are their educational guides to the Wonders. Google split out the guides by various grades, but someone who is excited could take a guide and make it match their child and educational goals.

These are really great. Not all of us can travel to all of these places. Some of them are expensive, some are simply too much hassle to get to. Others have health issues that preclude us from going. But by using the new Google tools, everyone gets to experience the Wonders.

We looked at the Palace of Versailles.  The model showed how it looked throughout the ages, and links as to how it was built. My son was fascinated with the idea of building without construction trucks. He didn’t realize that it could be done to build big things. This allowed him to see that people can build too – and they can build big buildings.

We then built our own Palace of Versailles using sugar cubes. They weren’t quite as wondrous, but we had a lot of fun.

Toddler Tuesdays: Pairs, letters, and shoes.

Abby learned about pairs – we used her dress up shoes to count to two and focus on pairs.


Toddlers are independent. If you have one, you already know this. If you are going to have one, beware! They like to do things by themselves. This includes things they don’t know how to do yet – like getting dressed.

We are spending some time learning about pairs. Shoes come in pairs. Socks come in pairs. Feet come in pairs.

Today we played with our dress up shoes to learn about pairs. They were a gift from grandma, and there are 4 pairs – all with different colors and decorations. I laid them out in pairs and pointed out each set. After counting “one -two” with each set, I said “This is a pair of shoes.” Then I mixed them all up. I asked Abby to sort them into pairs.

She cocked her head at me and said, “One-two.” Then she grabbed a pair and tried to put them on. When she got frustrated she brought me the shoes and plopped down in my lap. I helped her and she got up and walked around. I let her play for about 5 minutes before removing them from her feet and asking her again to bring me a pair of her shoes. She went and got the same pair. We repeated this whole experience about 5 times.

For letter practice I am back to Starfall. I print out a letter (today was B, yesterday was A) and we color it. I help her hold the crayon to write the letter a few times. Then I just let her color the pages.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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Math for All Seasons by Greg Tang

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We went to the library recently and had a lot of fun with Greg Tang’s Math for All Seasons.

The book has math riddles in it. But the riddles have accompanying pictures that help you solve them. And they have instructions for solving them. If your child doesn’t feel up to being creative, there’s always simply counting to solve the riddles.

This is the type of book that makes for good library reading because you can only read it do many times before try have memorized the riddles.

Library visits.

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The library is a great and underutilized resource. It’s filled with things you don’t have to pay for – mostly books.

We go to the library once a week. Everyone in my house has their own library card- even my littlest. It is a place that is a deprive from the heat of the summer.

Our library has a kids’ section. There are also puzzles and coloring pages there. Sometimes we go and read a bunch and sometimes we go and do their puzzles. Every time the kids get to check out 2 books. I check out more.

It’s a change of pace from reading at home. Plus, there are books on whatever they want. We don’t have the same options at home that we have at the library.

As a bonus, most libraries have free classes and programs. During the Fall and Spring our library has story time. They also have Lego building parties and chess clubs.

Libraries are awesome. Use them as trips during the week.

Independence day lesson

I probably should have posted this before July 4th, but we were really busy being outside, doing things with friends, and having a lot of fun. While I don’t like to take a vacation from learning during summer, we definitely cut back – friends are out of school and this might be the only time we can play whole days with them. The weather is great to spend time outside and enjoying everything. So we do cut back on lessons a little.

Here’s our Independence Day lesson:

I started by telling the story of the US as a colony: 

One time, a long time ago, England (and I showed him where England was on the map) colonized the US. England was in charge, and the people living here didn’t like it. Then we read the story of the Boston Tea Party. 

After the Tea Party, people wanted independence – they wanted to be their own governor. So there was the Revolutionary War. This war started with the Declaration of Independence (which we had to read 4 times because Nicholas liked it). Then the US won the war and because the USA.

It was a short, uncomplicated story – it’s important to keep to the basics so there is a framework the children can fill in as they get older. As it was, I still got a lot of questions about what a tax was, what a war is, why they had to fight and not talk, and how they got everywhere if there weren’t airplanes. These questions are important, and I answered all of them the best I can.

Then we colored American flags.

That was our whole lesson!

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