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November 2015

by Mary Ann Kelley
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From the Editor

Snead's Farm

As you teach the history of Thanksgiving to your children this month, check your own knowledge of the events with this excerpt from James W. Loewen’s book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. I am continuously amazed at what is omitted from or outright incorrect in the textbooks I used in school. I am so thankful to have the world of knowledge at my fingertips now! For more about how to teach accurate history, take a look at Loewen’s book, Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks & Get Students Excited About Doing History.

You’ll find some ideas for children’s Thanksgiving activities in our blog archives as well as Rebecca’s Confessions of a Homeschool Mom’s Thanksgiving which reminds us of the beauty in the chaos of dust bunnies, book piles, and (gasp!) whining children.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley

Teaching Calendar

November 19, 2015 — Gettysburg Address – 1863

November 22, 2015 — John F. Kennedy Assassinated – 1963

November 26, 2015 — Thanksgiving Day

November 29, 2015 — Louisa May Alcott born – 1832

November 30, 2015 — Mark Twain born – 1835

December 1, 2015 — Rosa Parks Day

December 6, 2015 — Hanukkah

December 7, 2015 — Pearl Harbor Day – 1941

December 14, 2015 — South Pole First Reached – 1911

December 15, 2015 — Bill of Rights Day

December 16, 2015 — Boston Tea Party – 1773

View the entire calendar »


Educational Resources

Free Paper Doll Downloads

Melissa Thomsen is a Christian, home-educated, illustrator and designer who currently resides with her family in Northeast, Ohio. She has illustrated 3 sets – Joyful Joyce, Clementine Curls, and Monday LIttles – of beautiful paper dolls that she offers for free download on her website. Also available for free is a 3 page Pilgrim coloring book.

Learn French

Free online guide to learning the French language. Spanicity and easyPortuguese are sister sites with free resources for Spanish and Portuguese.

The Energy Lab

NOVA’s website offers several online labs, including this Energy Lab with videos, research challenges, and more. My favorite part of the labs is the Meet the Experts area, where the scientists share not just about their jobs but their high school activities, interests, and schooling. The scientists’ bios (such as Michelle Borkin, who lists her high school activities as “Theater, Choir, Photography, Field Hockey,” or Phillip Chamberlin, who advises readers, “I was never the smartest kid in my classes but I worked really hard, which was more important to getting where I am. Just work and study as hard as you can, and it will pay off with a really fun job!”) bring an approachability to the science careers that they are now pursuing.

Recent Blog Posts

Bad News/Good News of Starting Homeschooling in High School

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: The Good News/Bad News about Starting Homeschooling in High SchoolStarting homeschooling during the high school years can seem intimidating or liberating — or both. There is both good news and bad news about starting out homeschooling in high school, but for many people the good outweighs the bad. Read More…

Thinking Outside the Textbook

Homeschooling not working? Try thinking outside the textbook.I’m a member of several homeschooling groups and email loops, and the most common questions are all related to, “It’s a battle to get my child to do her work. I thought homeschooling would be better for my child, but it’s all tears and yelling. For both of us. I may have to put her back in school.”The specifics vary, but many parents new to homeschooling are trying to recreate a public school environment in their home and finding that it doesn’t work. It’s not their fault. Most of us went to public
school; it’s what we know. We’re taught that this is the only way to get an education. That children won’t learn if we don’t tell them what to learn and force them do so. We shouldn’t be surprised when we find homeschooling not working under these circumstances. Read More…

12 Reasons Why Handwriting Is Important

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: 12 Reasons Why Handwriting Is Important1. The brain engages differently when we write something by hand as opposed to typing it on a keyboard or by touching a screen. Studies show that writing improves memory; students retain learning better when working with new ideas through handwriting instead of typing.2. Engaging the body in writing by hand helps make writing a more holistic activity. There is something uniquely physical and multidimensional about putting pen to paper to form words and sentences. Read More…

Scribes, Narration, and Homeschooling


Your child can’t hold a pencil very well? Your child thinks faster than she can write? Your child’s handwriting is illegible? Your child can’t compose in writing even though he can tell you a great story?

Your child might benefit from having a scribe.

What’s a scribe? That’s a person who writes for someone else. It’s sort of like the old days, when a boss dictated an oral message to a secretary who took it down in shorthand and then typed up for the boss to sign. It was still the boss’s writing — the boss’s composition — the secretary was the scribe.

If your child experiences difficulty with handwriting, you or another person more capable with handwriting (another adult, a tutor, an older sibling) can listen to your child tell a story or make observations and write them down. Then the story can be typed up or read back to the child — or the child can read it — so he or she can feel the power of having composed those very words.

Depending on the age, interest, and developmental readiness of the child, passages that have been scribed

  • can be illustrated by the child, so he is adding a personal touch, and connecting words with paper, even if it is through pictures rather than text
  • can be set in small portions as copy work, so that a child with weak handwriting can actually practice using his or her own words
  • can be bound into a book with other passages, creating the satisfaction of a finished writing project for a child who may feel timid about writing ability
  • can be reviewed for “mechanics” with a parent, so the child can learn about punctuation and capital letters
  • can be typed on a keyboard to be added to a child’s blog or kept digitally for other purposes, such as sharing with a friend or relative
  • can be the basis for keyboarding practice for a child herself

You can start scribing really naturally, just by asking a child to tell you a story and writing it down. I did this with all my preschool aged kids, and they always found it fun. For an older child, it’s sometimes easier for him to start if he’s seen scribing in action. I’ve taught in homeschool co-ops where half the kids use scribes during our freewriting and composition periods, making it easy for kids to try it without embarrassment. Some will want their own parents as scribes; others will prefer a different adult volunteer.

Read the rest  »

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