When the germs strike.

Germs invade our families. So what do we do as homeschoolers when we need to "do school" but we aren't feeling great?

Germs invade our families. So what do we do as homeschoolers when we need to “do school” but we aren’t feeling great?

It’s getting to be that time of year – the sick time. For some reason, our family does fine, and then we get hit with the bug that won’t go away for a month or so. What do you do on those days when the kids aren’t too sick, but aren’t feeling well enough to really do school work and learn?

When the kids are really sick, we rest and watch fun TV. I let my kids be sick when they are sick. But there’s always those few days when they aren’t feeling well, but aren’t really sick. It’s those days that sometimes stymie my mind while I am searching for things to do.

So what are my go-to activities?

  • Games: Canyland, Chutes and Ladders, Zingo, War, Go Fish, Sorry, Monopoly Jr., Boggle.
  • TV: I always keep a few prerecorded shows like Cat in the Hat, Discovery Channel stuff, Science Channel – we watch these then.
  • Movies: The Magic School Bus is anew favorite, Rock and Learn, Leapfrog, Discovery Earth…Amazon Prime also has a bunch of stuff that’s free and great.
  • Reading: You can never read too much.
  • Art: Drawing doesn’t seem like school work, but it sure works out the imagination.

There are more ways to skin the “meet my hours requirement for homeschooling” then there are people. All of the things above can be morphed into meeting requirements. Sorry teaches spatial skills and logic problem solving. Candyland teaches numbers and counting. Boggle and Scrabble teach spelling and grammar, Monoply Jr. is all about math…..You can see where this is going.

Making a fort is also one of our favorite activities on not-so-sick days. This is all about engineering and math and spatial recognition skills. It’s also about gross motor skills – doing the actual building.

There is always time to do bookwork schoolwork. It doesn’t take too much energy to set out all the pages they need to complete, or things they need to write. So there’s no reason to stress these activities when the kids aren’t feeling well. Anything can be made into a “school activity.”

Plus, TV can show them things I simply can’t. They can see stars born, volcanoes (no, we aren’t going to go visit one),  far away places, and things too small to see. I don’t mind educational TV – so there’s not reason not to use it when you need to.



Toddler Tuesdays: Workbooks we use.

Abby is different from Nicholas. She likes workbooks. I think she likes being able to turn the pages and finish something. Every time she finishes something and turns the page she says, “I finished my schoolwork!” It’s really cute.

Because she likes workbooks and worksheets, I have re-discovered the Kumon books. I used the numbers and mazes ones with Nicholas. But Abby doesn’t like mazes, she likes to draw and color.

Costco had a set of three on sale: Coloring, Tracing, First Mazes. The links are to the books on Amazon, because not every Costco has the same things.

I take one page out of each book in the morning and give it to Abby to do while I’m doing Nicholas’ math lesson. These are the only three workbooks I use with her. Otherwise we use handouts from Starfall for her numbers and letters. I use coloring pages of whatever we are learning for her to color while I teach Nicholas.

Here’s the main reason why these three workbooks made it into our school room and others didn’t: She can do these workbooks on her own – the pages are self explanatory.

The coloring workbook has a spot in the middle of the picture that she has to color the same color as the picture around it. So the grapes have a white dot in the middle – a little bigger than a quarter – that she has to color purple – like the grapes around it.

The tracing workbook has white and light areas for her to trace from one circle to the star. The maze workbook does the same thing – go from the circle to the star. She finishes in about 20 minutes – the same amount of time it takes me to do the “mommy” portion of the Saxon math lessons.  Nicholas then finishes he math lesson – doing his part – while I help Abby trace her numbers and letter of the day.

After this separate work, we do most of our lessons together – even if Abby is just coloring while Nicholas does his lesson. It won’t hurt her to learn about the history of the world, dinosaurs, rocks, or whatever we are learning about. It will only help her by exposing her to a wide variety of ideas early on.

Spelling again.

spell 1 We are headed back to spelling. Nicholas was told that if he finished all the spelling words and tests, then he could get a toy. So we are in week 9 and he’s finished all 12 weeks of spelling. What he didn’t know what that mom was going to make a new set of spelling words.

So this week I let him choose the first word and then we made the list out of all rhyming words. I’ve discovered that the more input he gets into his work, the easier it goes. So he picked the word “gain.” He said he had no reason, but he liked the way it sounded.

Then I made him find 6 words that rhymed with gain. He picked: Train, plain, main, grain, slain, chain. Those 7 words became his spelling words.

This week spelling should go pretty easy since he helped pick his words. At least that’s what I can hope.

Wetlands science experiment.

Here's a picture of our wetlands from above. Notice the large amount of dirt and mud floating in our "dirty" water. In a few hours, the water becomes clear.

Here’s a picture of our wetlands from above. Notice the large amount of dirt and mud floating in our “dirty” water. In a few hours, the water becomes clear.

We recently got the complete Magic School Bus series. The series is about a teacher who takes her class on a bunch of field trips to learn all about science. We’ve been watching one a day, followed by an experiment.

The one for today was about the wetlands. The movie went over what a wetlands is and does (clean water). In the show, there was even an explanation of how the water gets cleaned (the mud and dirty stuff sink, while the clean water rises and moves on).  First things first, we watched the movie. We also ate popcorn to make it a little fun.

We had been up to Lake Tahoe earlier in the week and saw a wetlands at the end of one of our hikes, so we had recently seen a wetlands. I asked the kids to remember seeing the wetlands and we talked about what we saw.

Next, we went outside and I gave each child a paper cup. They had to find some dirt. My kids are really efficient at finding dirt. Then, we poured the dirt into a glass casserole pan.

Why a glass pan? Because you will need to look at the side of the pan and see how the water and dirt separates at the end of the lesson. If you use a metal pan, you won’t be able to see the separation.

Next, we poured some water on top of the dirt and mixed it all up. This represents the dirty water that comes into the wetlands.

We let it sit for 4 hours. After we let it sit, we went back to look at the “wetlands” we had created. During the 4 hour wait we looked at our wetlands a lot. Somehow, my kids thought that if they kept watching it, it would go quicker (it didn’t). This was a good lesson in patience and waiting.

Sure enough, the clean water was on top and the mud and dirt was at the bottom.

This is just how a wetlands works – bringing the clean water to the top and the dirt to the bottom.

Since this is my children, we had to mix it up and do it again – letting it sit overnight this time.

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