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Fun Ways To Teach Parts of Speech

by Richele McFarlin

Learning does not have to be boring. Hands-on, active lessons are best for engaging the child and for memory retention. Below are five fun activities to teach the parts of speech. The 9 Parts of Speech: Before participating in any of the activities, review the following parts of speech with your student. Continue reading »

What Curriculum Should I Use For My 4 Year Old?

by Mary Ann Kelley

Recently on TheHomeSchoolMom’s Facebook page someone asked for recommendations for her soon to be 4 year old. It took me back to when I had a 4 year old and a 1 year old and had recently decided to homeschool.

I. Was. So. Excited. What curriculum should I use? Continue reading »

Why Homeschooling Boys Works

by Mary Ann Kelley

Today a friend posted a video called “War on Boys” to Facebook and it showed up in my feed with lots of enthusiastic comments. As I watched the 5 minute video, all I could think was how obvious the video’s assertions are, and yet how far public schools are moving away from addressing the truths presented. Not just limited to boys (many girls share these traits with boys), the video shows how the policies being implemented in schools reward quiet intellectual pursuits in young children while simultaneously removing the opportunities for these kids to explore and learn through play. Continue reading »

Instead of Curriculum: Bring Me Bad Writing

by Jeanne Faulconer

“Bring me bad writing,” I told my two homeschool co-op classes of middle school and elementary age writers. “Incorrect writing, wrong apostrophes, sentence fragments, typos, passive voice. Horrible stuff. Bring it.”

The next week, they marched in with an array of bad writing they’d found on websites, on convenience store signs, on gas pumps, in a letter from a college administrator, in text books, in novels, and in their own journals.

They had snapped photos, hand copied passages, bookmarked pages, and printed screen shots. Continue reading »

Build with Chrome: LEGO® Goes Virtual

by Jeanne Faulconer

As if homeschoolers don’t have enough of the real thing hidden under couch cushions, Google has just unveiled a new virtual LEGO® building site, Build With Chrome. A tie-in with the upcoming film, The LEGO® Movie™, the site features a 3D graphics technology that lets you build and display LEGO® creations using virtual bricks. While LEGO® has offered its own free building software for years, Build With Chrome is adapted for use on touch screens, including tablets and smart phones as well as on computers (with or without touch screens). Continue reading »

What I Learned about Homeschooling from Saxon Math

by Jeanne Faulconer

As you may have read over on my personal blog, I’m thinning my library of homeschooling books, and it’s an occasion for reflection. One of the things I finally feel free to do is to pass along my copy of Saxon Math.

Saxon didn’t work for us. In fact, it didn’t work in dramatic ways. We had multiple reasons for beginning homeschooling, but among the academic reasons was that the math taught at school was a poor fit and created a lot of stress and little math learning. Continue reading »

The Alphabet Walk: Learning ABCs with Rocks and Trees

by Jeanne Faulconer

Winter is a wonderful time to take Alphabet Walks with your children. In my part of the U.S., this means bundling up for the cold weather, but hunting for the ABCs in nature may be just the thing to get you and the kids moving on darker winter days.

The main object of an Alphabet Walk is to find letters that have been unintentionally formed in the outdoors. Perhaps crossing tree branches form an X against the blue sky, or a cat curved on your deck forms a perfect C. A front door wreath on your neighbor’s house is an O. The brickwork above the windows in an old Main Street building creates a V. Continue reading »

Learning Multiplication by Hand: Manipulating Math

by Jeanne Faulconer

In Instead of Curriculum: Math Games, I described some of the games I played with my sons to help them learn and practice their multiplication facts. Today, I’ll tell about some of the hands-on tools homeschoolers use to help their kids make sense of the basic concept of multiplication as well as related multiplication facts. Continue reading »

Instead of Curriculum: Math Games (Fun Multiplication Practice!)

by Jeanne Faulconer

You can drill and kill the times tables to help your kids learn multiplication facts – or you can play math games with them. Here are some of the math games that helped our sons practice multiplication painlessly. Continue reading »

Instead of Curriculum: Handwriting Practice

by Jeanne Faulconer

As regular readers know, I’m a big advocate of using accessible learning methods instead of curriculum. For some homeschoolers, this is in addition to their regular curriculum, and for others it’s truly instead of any packaged formal curriculum.

I’m used to hearing that you can’t learn math this way — that’s a common chorus among homeschoolers — but I was in a recent conversation with a homeschool mom who was all for the “instead-of-curriculum” approach except for handwriting. And by handwriting, she meant printing–learning to print. Continue reading »

Candle Making: An Autumn Craft

by Jeanne Faulconer

Longer hours of darkness are settling in on our part of the world with the fall season, and we could use a little extra flicker of light.

Candle making is the perfect autumn craft. The process is creative and rewarding, and the candles you and your kids make together are an autumn antidote to the days’ low angled sunlight and early arriving nights.

If I have a deficit as a homeschooling mom, it’s that I’m not very crafty, and I don’t enjoy or excel at handwork. However, making candles with my sons was one of our more successful craft endeavors, so I’m sure you can do it. Continue reading »

Instead of Curriculum: D’Aulaires’ Mythology Books

by Jeanne Faulconer

Some of my favorite children’s books are also wonderful learning resources you can use instead of curriculum. Among these are the oversize children’s classics about mythology by the d’Aulaires. The D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and the D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths delighted all my kids when they were pre-readers through their late elementary years, and I found that the understanding of mythology they learned from these books persisted through their middle school and high school years, when they needed to spot and comprehend literary allusions to mythology. Continue reading »

Get Ready for Spring with Field Guides

by Jeanne Faulconer

A library of field guides is an important resource for homeschooling families, and with spring just around the corner, it’s a great time to make sure you have what you need on hand to help with identification of birds, trees, insects, spiders, snakes, turtles, frogs, toads, and wildflowers. Our field guides have always been among the most accessible books in our house. Rather than shelving them with other books, I usually keep them stacked — with their spines showing their titles — right on top of a low book shelf or table near the back door. Continue reading »

Creating a Calendar with Children

by Jeanne Faulconer

A great project for the New Year is making a calendar with your little ones. I’m talking about making a calendar the old fashioned way, using fresh heavy art paper and your favorite combination of markers, colored pencils, oil pastels, or other media. I first got this idea from the Oak Meadow first grade curriculum, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum which I loosely followed from time to time and adapted for other ages as my family grew. Continue reading »

Quirky Interests Build Strong Kids

by Laura Grace Weldon

It is pure, unadulterated joy to be wrapped up in a pursuit that is generated by our own interests and fully engages our abilities. For Cameron, as for most of us, the end product isn’t the reward so much as the experience. That’s true whether the work we’re doing is raising children, building a business, filming a documentary or creating a series of paintings. When we connect deeply with what we do it’s a continual process of growth, learning and awareness. We’re not invested in the judgment of others. The satisfactions are much richer. Continue reading »

Spiders Are Our Teachers

by Laura Grace Weldon

We appreciate spiders in our family. A large orb weaver lives just outside the front door. Every night when we take the dogs out before going to bed we pause to appreciate the intricate web she’s rewoven. It has a lot to teach us about strength, symmetry, impermanence and beauty. Continue reading »

More Right-Brained Math Ideas

by Rebecca Capuano

While arithmetic may seem simple to children with left-brain characteristics, right-brain oriented learners often struggle with basic math in traditional classroom settings, which are more geared toward left-brained learners. Fortunately, math does not have to be difficult for these learners! Homeschoolers can use curricula, techniques, and strategies that can help the right-brained child learn math effectively. Continue reading »

5 Easy Ways to Add a Splash of Geography to your Homeschool

by Terri Johnson

Let’s face it… Geography is one of the most overlooked subjects in traditional public schooling and in homeschooling. Why? It is probably because it doesn’t seem very important to our everyday, busy lives. Do my students really need to know where Liberia is located? How about Chile? Is this relevant information or should we just spend a little more time with math, history and writing? Continue reading »

Writing 100-word Stories

by Kim Kautzer

Challenge your 4th-8th graders to write 100-word stories! Not only will this activity appeal to more reluctant writers, it helps drive home the importance of writing descriptive, concise sentences. Continue reading »

Speed Scrabble: Boost Spelling and Vocabulary

by Kim Kautzer

Pre-writing activities disguised as games make it so much more fun to learn and practice skills. Depending on the activity, you can teach or reinforce spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and writing. One of my family’s new favorites, Speed Scrabble (also known as Boardless Scrabble), would be a terrific way to address both spelling and vocabulary. Continue reading »