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January 2013

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Creating a Calendar With Children, Writing Teacher’s Strategy Guide, Interactives, Paper Snowflakes, and more

It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.  –Albert Einstein

From the Editor

I love learning, and I learn something new almost every day. Yesterday, unfortunately, I had to learn how to get soap bubbles out of my dishwasher after a helpful child used regular dish soap instead of dishwashing detergent. Thankfully I was home when it happened or it would have been a huge mess! Getting the suds out of the dishwasher turned out to be a lengthy affair.

I hope your new year is starting out organized and upbeat. If you have a minute, head over to our Facebook page and join the Roll Call, telling us where are you from, how long have you been homeschooling, how many kids at home, what your homeschool style is, etc. I love hearing from you all! Be sure to Like the page while you’re there if you don’t already follow us – we post links to inspirational and encouraging blog posts and useful resources, and it’s a great place to ask questions of other homeschoolers.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley


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Educational Resources

Teaching that Makes Sense
Teaching that Makes Sense is a one of those websites that is full of no-nonsense practical teaching helps, and The Writing Teacher’s Strategy Guide is no exception. Like all of the materials on the site, The Writing Teacher’s Strategy Guide is free and available as a PDF download. I knew it was going to be a useful guide when the title page was followed by this quote: “The best way to teach is the way that makes sense to you, your kids, and your community.” By acknowledging the uselessness of most writing assignments that have no relationship to a student’s reality, Steve Peha seeks to help students take back ownership of their writing in a way that makes it meaningful to the student. The 132 page guide is full of writing strategies, charts, and examples. All 22 downloads available on the site are listed down the left column, including this helpful Reading-Writing Poster Pack. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, you might also want to check out TheHomeSchoolMom’s Self-Editing Checklist.

Paper Snowflakes
With cold winter days ahead, it’s a great time to get out the paper and scissors and let the kids be creative. Paper Snowflakes has dozens (maybe hundreds) of snowflake patterns from which to choose. If your children prefer to design their own snowflakes, Martha Stewart has a tutorial that takes you through the folds needed to get started cutting a unique pattern.

How to Become President of the United States Poster
The first US Presidential election was January 7, 1789, and President’s Day is February 18. This resource is a nice addition to whatever you are using to cover the topic. It can be either viewed online, downloaded as a PDF file, or ordered for free (limit of 2) from the website. Shipping is free to US addresses. The 11×17 colorful poster starts with eligibility to be a US President and follows the road of campaigning through inauguration. Interactives
The interactives section of the Annenberg Learner site is full of interesting and varied interactive resources that are especially good for following rabbit trails of interest. The Annual Cycle of the Robin, Amusement Park Physics, Area and Perimeter, and You Decide: Jefferson or Hamilton? are a small sampling of the hundreds of interactives available for exploration. Great for cold winder days!

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Recent Blog Posts

Creating a Calendar with Children
Creating a Calendar with ChildrenA 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. Read more »

Homeschool Resolutions
Homeschool ResolutionsThe time just seems to pass by so quickly. And, lets face it, the year passes by quickly because each day passes by quickly. And isn’t that how it goes? Thinking about what we’ve got to do before we even do it, and then rushing to get it all done. So goes the day. So goes the month. So go the years. And when we look back, we wonder where the time went, and how we can get so much done and still wonder what, exactly, we’ve actually accomplished. This new year, I want to do it differently. I mean, just think about it. If somehow it all-of-a-sudden turned out to be our last moments in this world, and we had to reflect on what mattered to us to have accomplished in our lives, I doubt any of us would mention 90% of the things on our daily mental to-do list. Breakfast prep? Nope. Laundry starting? Nope. E-mail checking? Definite no. Of course many of those things do need to be done, so life can move forward. Yes, kids do need to eat. But what percentage of our time is spent doing the urgent rather than the important? And aren’t we homeschooling, at least on some level, in order to have more time for the important? Read more »


Play on Words
Play on WordsMy co-op kids have had fun with the warm-up we often do for our homeschool writers group. Before we begin writing and critiquing, we warm up with oral word games. In our writers group, by the time we’ve finished with the word warm-ups, the ice is broken, and the linguistic gears are well-oiled. We’re ready to settle down to read our poetry and short stories and practice offering precise and supportive critiques of what each of us has written. Read more »

Instead of Curriculum: Living Math
Instead of Curriculum: Living MathWhy do some homeschoolers choose not to use one of the many complete math curricula available today? And what do they do instead? To many homeschooling parents, math feels like the one thing that must be taught and learned in a systematic way even for very young children. Even many people who are otherwise attracted to or influenced by a version of interest-based learning or unschooling often say– “except for math.” Read more »

Featured Article

Creating a Calendar with Children

by Jeanne Faulconer

A great project for the New Year is creating 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.

Creating a Calendar

The four-to-ten-year-old set can often readily be attracted to creating this kind of family calendar, which provides numerous opportunities for learning. Depending on the age of your kids, you can start off with paper that you have already marked off into seven columns for the days of the week, along with six rows. You’ll want a separate sheet for each month of the year, but I recommend having plenty of extra template pages, so there are plenty of pages for experimentation.

You may be able to teach older children how to mark the grid lines themselves, but you don’t want to frustrate the younger ones if the task is over their heads. I didn’t use computer generated templates for this particular project, since I wanted all the work to be done by hand for a more organic effect.

Writing the month names and days of the week on each page of the new calendar is good copy work for those who are perfecting their printing skills. This process also helps solidify the order of the months and days, a common bit of social studies knowledge for the early years.

Adding the numbers to the squares to create dates is good practice for children who are solidifying their counting skills and learning how to write the number symbols. For those who learned how to write numerals during the fall months or during a previous year, creating a calendar gives them a practical application for the skill — they can see that being able to write numerals is useful. For those who have learned how to create the numerals 0-9, copying calendar dates into the squares can be the beginning of understanding how “the tens place” works by using the same symbols to create more numbers — 10 – 31!

Decorating the Calendar

Most fun is decorating each month according to the season or the predominant holiday for that month. January gets snow flakes, February gets hearts, March gets wind or depending on the year, Easter eggs, — and of course there are April showers and May flowers. You can emphasize the holidays, traditions, or special occasions that are important to your culture and your family, and make that the theme for the month…

Read the rest at TheHomeSchoolMom »

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