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December 2013

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Christmas Traditions, Journalism, Classical Music, Delayed Academics, and More

From the Editor

Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas season is in full swing. Longer nights and early evenings are ushering us closer to the start of winter later this month, and the question of what to do about Christmas comes up yet again – how to focus on keeping thankful and generous hearts while preventing Madison Avenue from unduly influencing our families. It’s a challenge, and these reflections on TheHomeSchoolMom blog are encouraging and full of ideas for your homeschool Christmas:

Our featured article this issue highlights Rebecca’s favorite Christmas tradition – I think you will like it. Have a great Christmas, and enjoy the newsletter!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley


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Teaching Calendar

December 3, 2013 — Illinois Admission Day – 1818

December 7, 2013 — Pearl Harbor Day – 1941

December 7, 2013 — Delaware Admission Day – 1787

December 10, 2013 — Mississippi Admission Day – 1817

December 11, 2013 — Indiana Admission Day – 1816

December 12, 2013 — Pennsylvania Admission Day – 1787

December 14, 2013 — South Pole First Reached – 1911

December 14, 2013 — Alabama Admission Day – 1819

December 15, 2013 — Bill of Rights Day

December 16, 2013 — Boston Tea Party – 1773

December 18, 2013 — New Jersey Admission Day – 1787

December 20, 2013 — South Carolina First to Secede – 1860

December 21, 2013 — Pilgrims Disembarked at Plymouth – 1620

December 22, 2013 — Beatrix Potter Died – 1943

December 25, 2013 — Christmas

December 26, 2013 — Tsunami in Indian Ocean – 2004

December 28, 2013 — Endangered Species Act passed – 1973

December 28, 2013 — Iowa Admission Day – 1846

December 29, 2013 — Texas Admission Day – 1845

December 31, 2013 — WWII End of Hostilities – 1946

View the entire calendar »

Educational Resources

DIY Journalism Curriculum for Homeschoolers

Joy at Five J’s shares the journalism course that she compiled for her 14 year old daughter when she couldn’t find anything ready-made that met her needs. Using the books, videos, online courses, and journalist resources that Joy shares, you can put together your own custom journalism course.

Classics for Kids®

Cincinnati Public Radio “brings classical music’s great composers to life through music and stories” with the Classics for Kids® radio show. In addition to broadcasting the radio show, the website is full of useful resources including classical music games, lesson plans, activity sheets, interviews highlighting music-related careers, show archives grouped by period, a composer timeline, and more.

More Citizen Science: Counting Seals

Last month’s featured article discussed how students can participate in citizen science at home. The
Weddell Seal Population Count Activity is an easy way for students to help scientists and get a feel for the practical aspects of field science. “Knowing ‘how many’ of any animal is one of the first questions researchers seek to answer when they study a population. Getting that answer is not always easy… Students can help scientists in the field monitor the Weddell seal population in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Using Satellite images students count the seal population over time in several traditional haul-out locations.” Just download the files (overview, background information for teachers, seal count tutorial, and source satellite images), and email your student’s counts to the email address on the page.

Recent Blog Posts

Contextual Learning: Homeschooling Through Fashion

Contextual Learning: Homeschooling Through FashionThis year in my role as a homeschool evaluator, I met a number of tweens and teens who are interested in fashion. As we went through their portfolio of work and talked about their year, I was fascinated with the ways they had woven their interest in fashion with their academic studies. Both of these girls (who did not know each other — they had arrived at this independently) had done extensive research to be able to portray the styles of other times and other places, and they could explain how the fashion reflected the culture, religious beliefs, gender roles, classes and roles in society, and daily life. They were articulate about the historical times and geography of the world as they di
scussed the observations they had made about fashion in these distant centuries and far-off places. Read more »

Delayed Academics: It’s All About Learning

TheHomeSchoolMom: Delayed Academics - It's all about learningMany experienced homeschoolers have long valued the ability to delay formal academics to create a more holistic early childhood education for their young children, with the understanding that this creates a rich foundation for later academic and life success. Today, parents new to homeschooling are embarking on homeschooling at a time when public schools are emphasizing early formal academics and implementing standardized testing of very young children, despite lack of evidence that these practices enhance educational outcomes for the children.As David Elkind (author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally) writes in “Much Too Early” for th
e website EducationNext, “Why, when we know what is good for young children, do we persist in miseducating them, in putting them at risk for no purpose?” Read more »

Instead of Curriculum: The Great Courses

Instead of Curriculum: The Great CoursesOur family has greatly enjoyed using The Great Courses audio and video recorded classes. The first of The Great Courses we used was The Story of Human Language, presented by leading linguist John McWhorter, who gives 36 lectures about the development of human language, why languages change or become extinct, dialects, how languages and their grammars affect thinking, and what the study of language can tell us about history and interconnectedness of early peoples.From there, we began listening to every Great Courses CD set the library had. They offer courses in science, math, fine arts, music, religion, philosophy, history, literature, living, language, business, and economics. But it’s the course titles that a
re really intriguing — such as Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World, Writing Creative Nonfiction, How to Listen to and Understand Opera, and nearly 400 more. Read more »

Featured Article

Our Favorite Homeschooling Christmas Tradition

by Rebecca Capuano

Christmas traditions: Our favorite - The GPPDAdvent calendar

It’s like fall comes and then…

Boom! You’re getting ready for Christmas.

Now, I’m certain that many of you homeschoolers out there already have your December homeschool-worthy Christmas plans in the works before Thanksgiving rolls around, and, well…yay for you. Me? The thought of Christmas plans doesn’t usually seriously cross my mind until the turkey and dressing have become turkey sandwich leftovers.

That being said, it’s usually not too much of a deal to get prepared, because many of our family’s Christmas preparations are traditions that we do every year. No stress, no planning — just pull most of it down from the attic on Nov. 30 and let ‘er roll. Homeschoolers tend to be big tradition-ers; traditions, after all, are things we do as a family over and over again each year, and Christmas traditions are especially meaningful.

No doubt there is the Christmas tree, but many homeschoolers include uniquely teachable Christmas traditions that help kids truly understand the meaning of the holiday. Putting together a Jesse Tree, baking Christmas goodies for neighbors, purchasing gifts from a relief catalog for those in poverty, doing a Christmas unit study, and putting up the nativity are all December traditions in which our family engages — the things that make the season meaningful, educational, and special.

But there is one tradition that might just be my favorite of all…

Read the rest on »

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