Category Archives: homeschool

Morning Meditation

I love the tiles floors in our classroom. They have proved so useful this year! I use them in many ways but one way is to teach the kids to be still. For some time I taught English to students in China virtually. One of my students (11 years old) told me a technique her father used to teach her to study. He would have her sit quietly for a time appropriate to her age. When the time was up she got a treat. I started doing this with my kids at the beginning of the day.
My children are instructed to sit in the square. No hands or feet outside the square, no talking, no playing, be a statue. SJ closes her eyes during this time to tune out her brother and will often face away from him. KJ is wiggly (which is appropriate for 4) however, he can go the entire time without talking. The time is between 2 and 4 minutes depending on our morning.
 After meditation the receive a prize.
The objective is to teach them to be still on demand. As homeschoolers most of our day is spent up and about they are all over the classroom, the house and eventually outside. Compared to their counterparts in public school they move a lot. On Sundays at church they are in children’s church so they are able to sit still for the lesson and pay attention without any problems.
Meditation is a good practice the Bible tells us to “Meditate on the Word of God day and night.” Joshua 1:8 it also says to, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Math Families

If it seems like we are all over the place when it comes to math we are. I follow SJ’s interest and try not to discourage her by the order in which I think she should learn. The way I see it addition and multiplication are similar so are subtraction and division. So while she is hitting the ground running I am still trying to insure there are no learning gaps. So we have been talking quite a bit about math families. 
This was a pretty easy concept to introduce because shes learned about word families. This concept was picked up really quickly because as my oldest child SJ likes to be in control. The ability for her to catch her mistake has been invaluable to her.

When I walk by her before she has had a chance to finish and check her work she immediately covers it, not wanting me to correct her before shes reviewed it. I’m really enjoying the responsibility she seems to be developing. I want her to take pride in her work and do well and that seems to be the case…at least when it comes to math.

Bead Multiplication

Its no secret that my oldest is a STEM girl. She loves math so I am always looking for ways to foster and grow this love. We discovered this activity when she wanted to do math but not in her math book. I keep beads on hand for the kids. In this case I wrote various multiplication problems on SJ’s white board. She then used the beads to show what each problem looked like with the beads, Once she successfully answered the question on the board and with the beads she could move to the next problem. At one point both younger kids needed me so she answered all the questions and waited for me to check her work. 
This was a fun activity that allowed her to be creative as well as practice her classification skills. When starting this activity it is important that the student understand their one’s and two’s multiplication facts. These are to be understood but don’t have to be memorized. Once the student understands the task you are only limited by the amount of materials you have on hand. 
My five year old is very familiar with this activity but recently my four year old has shown he can show the multiplication problems he sees with the beads as well. This is why I homeschool. I love seeing what my children gravitate toward while its happening then discovering how I can help them be great!

Cup Games for Kids

This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping my sister host a baby shower. We had some cups left over and in the blur of exhaustion set the cups down on the floor by the front door. Days later (don’t judge me) I finally picked up the cups. Did I mention we have a dog, a various curious dog who I am sure put her nose in the cups. So what was I to do with these paper cups? Games!

I took the cups and put letters and numbers on them. I told the kids it was game day and I set the game rules they had a blast!

For the Math Game we used our Base Ten blocks and put the appropriate tens and ones inside the cup to make the number.

As the kids filled the cup I would stack them. They loved seeing the stack grow as a mark of their accomplishments.

We then flipped the cups over and used the letters to make words. Once the kids discovered a word I would write it on the white board. My kids are motivated by praise and a sense of accomplishment so seeing there progress is important for them.

I hope you and your kids enjoy these cup games!

Let’s Build A Car

What do you do with an empty box, bored kids and art supplies? You build a car! 
In the box above I have:
A hot glue gun
Pipe Cleaners
Paint
An empty egg carton
Star cut outs
Scissors
Round make up applicators
Styrofom or paper plates
A Shower curtain
The first thing I did was hot glue the shower curtain to my tile floor. 
This made for easy clean up and the hot glue did not damage my tile at all. 
Next I put some paint on a plate and let the kids apply it with the make up applicators.
They are kids and are going to make a mess but I find the applicators are easier to hold than paint brushes and you can throw them away after. 

While the paint dried I had the kids get started on coloring the wheels. The then put a star on each wheel. For the steering wheel I used the glue gun to melt a hole in the Styrofoam plate and use a pipe cleaner to secure it. 
We put the plate inside the box and pushed the pipe cleaner through the box. 
Egg cups from the egg carton were cut out to make headlights and yellow tissue paper was glued inside. They were secured to the front of the box using a hot glue gun. 
We used stars and pieces cut from a recycled box for the tail lights. 
The kids loved this activity and they still play with their car weeks later.

Lava Lamp Experiment

My kiddos ask to do experiments just about everyday! I actually will be reviewing a site that I joined for that purpose called Mystery Science in a different post. This experiment was very easy and a lot of fun. Most importantly you probably have most if not all these ingredients in your home already.

The experiment calls for equal parts oil and water, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer tablets. 
**We tried the experiment with aspirin and it fell flat so we re-did it with 
Alka Seltzer and red food coloring. 

First we put the oil then water into the jar and let it settle. 
I asked these questions: 
What is happening to the water? 
What is happening to the oil?
Next we added a few drops of food coloring. Add as much as you like we did 6 drops.
I asked: What is happening to the food coloring?
(If the jar is steady it should stay together and not mix very much. 

Finally we dropped in the Alka-Seltzer tablet and watched the magic happen. 
I asked: 
What is happening to the oil and water? 
Why do you think that is?
Since oil and water do not mix, the water bubbles caused by the Alka-seltzer float through the oil  causing it to take on the same effect as a lava lamp. When the mixture is shaken the oil and water in time will separate again rather than mix. 

Oobleck!

During experiment week this one was a hit! The objective was initially to have the kids walk on water. Due to the limited supply of corn starch we did this experiment in a bowl rather than our kiddie pool. 
Here’s what you need:
Corn starch
Water
Measuring cup
Food Coloring
Extras:
Shower curtain (for easy clean up)
Ball and car to explore how they react to the oobleck. 

This recipe is simple 2 parts corn starch one part water. The kids loved exploring to see the progression of consistency. Its extremely messy so here is a teaching hack I have learned. When doing messy learning I tack the curtain or table cloth to my tile floor using my hot glue gun.  
You’re welcome.
The kids had a lot of fun discovering how this liquid behaves (at times) like a solid. They were covered in oobleck by the time we were done. I let them play with it after our official lesson so they could mix various colors. 

Here are some questions and discussion points. 
1. What are the stages of matter? (We focused on three rather than five)
2. What stage is this in?
3. How does each stage behave? 
4. How do you know something is a gas? A liquid? A solid?

DIY Recycled Car Tunnel

For the past week or so the kids and I have been storing and stocking up on empty food boxes and toilet paper rolls. We knew we were planning for a project but we hadn’t quite decided what. Well while KJ played with cars in the corner of the classroom genius struck. 
A car tunnel!
I quickly pulled out the boxes, a plastic container we don’t use often and a glue gun. 
SJ drew a map of where everything should go then we put it all together. 
Parents I have three words for you: hours of fun! HOURS OF FUN!!
This is a great STEM activity. 
Vocabulary: Velocity, engineering, acceleration and deceleration
Questions:  How many seconds does it take for the car to go through the tunnels? Will it go faster or slower as we tilt the lid? 
You can even have your kids decorate the boxes adding an element of art to the project. When we were done with the project we carefully removed the tunnel pieces and placed them inside the container to use another time. 
Have fun with this project and please share your pictures of your tunnels below. 

Money Math


Today we had some fun with money! SJ(5) is currently working her way through Horizons 1 work book. She learned about money while working through the Horizons K book but for this level they are relating money to place value. 

This was the perfect excuse to pull out the base ten manipulatives. For this activity we used pennies, nickles and dimes. Though she uses quarters, half dollars and dollars in her math book. I think we will wait a little while to introduce them using base ten. 

I placed the money in different increments in front of SJ and she used the manipulative to assign the money value. 


We didn’t leave out KJ(3) though. I just used pennies with him and it was a great chance for him to practice counting and writing. He is having a hard time, confidence wise, writing without assistance but my husband and I have decided not to give in to his fussing about needing help at all. We have seen him control his pencil and though we don’t expect his work to be perfect we do expect him to try. When he is successful, which so far has been every time, he is so proud of himself. 


This was a great activity, the kids really enjoyed it and I think the younger children are comfortable with money they better they will be managing it in the future. 

Coding for Kids

One of the many benifits of homeschooling is the ability to teach your kids random, awesome things like…CODING!!. I stumbled upon this awesome website that teaches children code. 
My kids LOVE it. The teaching is broken into age groups the first group is geared towards kids who are ages 3 to 5. The first few lessons are simple things like teaching children to reach an objective. 
The first activity was about 4 squares. The objective was to move the character to the left one square. Once they saw an example the grid got bigger and I even threw in a few obstacles. You can see in the picture above that it took SJ and KJ the same amount of moves to reach their goal. Which was a lesson on taking different paths to reach the same objective. 

After the kids got the hang of it on the white board we decided to act it out. 
I printed out pictures of SJ and KJ’s favorite characters. I then had one child go into the living room while we placed the character face down along with some blank white pages.  

The child who placed the character had to direct the child who had just come back from the other room to their character using the sign below. They could rotate the sign to reach their objective but could not point to the picture. 

My kids are 5 and 3 and they really enjoyed this game. The next day when they got to start writing code on the computer they were able to follow along easily. We really enjoyed using http://www.coding.org and I believe my days will be filled with my children exploring new ways to make things happen.