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February 2015

by Mary Ann Kelley
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College Costs, Snowflakes, Engineer Girl, Constitutional Convention, and More

From the Editor

As I write this, it’s the coldest day we’ve had all winter here in Virginia and I’m determined not to leave the house unless I’m forced to. I hope it’s warmer where you are! This month we have some fantastic resources, including a timely article to coincide with the upcoming due dates for most financial aid applications. In addition to the article, we have a free workbook for you to use with your teen. It helps your child evaluate college options and the cost of each by working through actual costs, projected budgets, opportunity costs, and more (the link is at the end of the article on the website). I hope it’s useful to you, and I’d love to hear how you are using it with your teen.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley

Teaching Calendar

February 19, 2015 — Chinese New Year – Year of the Sheep

February 22, 2015 — George Washington born – 1732

March 1, 2015 — Nebraska Admission Day – 1867

March 1, 2015 — Ohio Admission Day – 1803

March 2, 2015 — Read Across America Day

March 2, 2015 — Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

March 3, 2015 — Florida Admission Day – 1845

March 4, 2015 — Purim begins at sundown

March 4, 2015 — Vermont Admission Day – 1791

March 11, 2015 — Johnny Appleseed Day

March 13, 2015 — Uranus discovered – 1781

March 14, 2015 — Albert Einstein’s birthday – 1879

March 14, 2015 — Pi Day

March 15, 2015 — Maine Admission Day – 1820

March 17, 2015 — St. Patrick’s Day

View the entire calendar »


Educational Resources

Discover the 13 Colonies Free Study Guide

This 41 page notebooking unit and study guide contains a page for each colony for you to record facts (like the date it was founded, important people of the colony, and the geographic region), questions to spark deeper discussions about what was happening during this time period, three activities to make your learning interactive; including a craft, a game and a recipe, creative colonial drawing prompts, and a resource page full of books, websites and videos that you can use to aid your study.

Games Based on Nobel Prizes

The Nobel Prize website has an educational section with games and resources based on the prize winning work of the Nobel winners. Most of them are science-related (the few literature resources are unimpressive) and the games vary in quality.

The Constitutional Convention

We’ve been working through American history at our house, and in conjunction with watching John Adams (excellent mini-series for American history), we are using this website. It contains detailed information about the actual convention, biographies for each of the delegates (including lists by age, educational background,
occupation, and continental experience), an interactive map of Philadelphia in the late 18th century, and various other related resources.

Engineer Girl

Girls have lots of opportunities in STEM fields, and this site is a great resource for any girls considering engineering as a career. The site is “designed to bring national attention to the exciting opportunities that engineering represents for girls and women.” Engineer includes interviews, job descriptions, “Ask an Engineer”, competitions and contests, scholarship listings, and a whole lot more.

Recent Blog Posts

Homeschooler, Magician, Dad

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Homeschooler, Magician, DadAs a homeschool father, I was mostly in charge of going to work to pay the bills while my co-parent was largely responsible for the homeschooling, making food, organizing everybody, keeping us all alive–a ceaseless and thankless profession by most counts. Still, I have to admit, I was often jealous. I would go to the school where I was teaching, pouring my creativity and experience into creating lessons for other people’s children, most of whom didn’t want to be there. Then at night, I would collaborate with Kathy on our home curriculum–finding cool ways to explore the roots of Western Civilization or how to present division using chocolate chips–the creative engagement that attracted me to the teaching profes
sion. Needless to say, I often felt torn between the need to make a living and the wish to participate in my children’s education. Looking back now, I can see that those days when I did play hooky from my job in order to participate in my children’s education are some of the most powerful and meaningful memories I have of my children. Read more »

Ask Jeanne: When a Teacher Turns Homeschool Mom

Ask Jeanne: Homeschooling is hard because of my background teaching elementary school -- how can I let go of the desire for structure?Dear Jeanne,It’s so freeing to hear your thoughts about the effectiveness of a more informal education! I have realized that homeschooling is hard because of my background in teaching elementary school. It’s hard to shake away from formal lessons and expected structure, but, when I do, my active 6yo boy thrives! Sincerely, Teacher Mom

Jeanne’s response: Ah yes. All my elementary teacher friends say that this is the hardest thing for them. You are in good company here.Try to think about how much you did in a classroom was because you were in a classroom — with 25 kids who had to get through a set curriculum… Read more »

Winter Warmup: Making Snowflakes

Winter Warmup: Making Snowflakes (Credit: Image created using photo by Liz West under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license)Snowflakes are fascinating to children and adults. They are unique, beautiful, and tiny marvels of nature.Introduce your children to the fun of cutting paper snowflakes. Instructables has step-by-step text instructions with photos and diagrams to show you how to make six-pointed snowflakes. Six-pointed flakes are the most authentic, since they generally occur in nature with six points. This YouTube video by The Bookhouse is a great paper snowflake-cutting demonstration that is easy to follow: Rea
d more »

Ask Jeanne: Speech Delay and Reading Comprehension

Ask Jeanne: Would a speech delay directly affect the child's ability to comprehend and read simultaneously?My question is this: in your opinion would speech delay in a child directly affect the child’s ability to comprehend and read simultaneously – meaning, the ability to read words is good, however the understanding while reading seems to be disconnected. My little girl is turning 6 at the end of the month and although had a speech delay which was identified at 3, she is now within the “normal” spectrum … translated as: her speech and language therapist says she has caught up with her peers but still has some pronunciation issues. Read more »

Featured Article

Talking To Your Teen About College Debt


TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Talking to Your Teen About College DebtI’m a fan of natural consequences, but sometimes the lessons are too big – with consequences that last a lifetime – for the maturity level of the child. One such example is when a child wants to take on significant debt in the form of college loans. Most 17 year old high school students do not have the life experience to be able to understand the impact that taking on tens of thousands of dollars in debt will have on their lives.

While I encourage young adults to have freedom in making their own decisions, wise and carefully presented parental input is imperative in this issue. Most people would never consider advising a 17-18 year old to purchase a $80K house with payments deferred for 4 years (and a home loan has collateral — if you go into default, they foreclose and the debt is gone), yet are comfortable with student loans that have even more of a financial impact.

Few young adults who have never supported themselves financially can truly understand what they are getting into with student loans. A friend of mine opted for her top choice of colleges, a small private school, and ended up with over $50K worth of student loans. She got a good job with her degree, but even so, the debt informed every life choice until she was almost forty years old.

The opportunity cost of student debt is high — the trips that could have been taken, the option to stay home when kids are born, the kind of house that is affordable after the loan payments, and a myriad of other experiences lost when money is still paying for loans 20 years after graduation. Even in such circumstances as becoming disabled to the point that a person is unable to work, student loans may not be discharged without legal maneuvering — bankruptcy does not discharge student loans. High school seniors don’t have the life experience to be able to understand the legal commitment that they are making.

Read the rest »



Opportunity Cost. (n.). Retrieved February 14, 2015, from

Thanks to Karen B. for her assistance with this topic.

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