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October 2014

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Autumn, Computer Coding, Educational Games, and More

October 2014

From the Editor

For most of the US, October has perfect weather for getting outside and enjoying nature. From alphabet walks to seasonal tables to crafts and activities with leaves, there are lots of ways to get use nature to break the monotony of schoolwork. Older kids might enjoy autumn candle making or preparing for Rebecca’s ideas for Homeschooling Halloween (great for those who celebrate Halloween and those who don’t). It won’t be long before short days and cold weather have us spending more time indoors, so enjoy this last opportunity to get outside without having to bundle up!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley

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Teaching Calendar

October 13, 2014 — Columbus Day

October 13, 2014 — Cornerstone of the White House laid – 1792

October 14, 2014 — Martin Luther King, Jr. awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – 1964

October 18, 2014 — Alaska purchased from Russia – 1867

October 23, 2014 — Women’s Suffrage March in NYC – 1915

October 24, 2014 — Rosa Parks dies – 2005

October 28, 2014 — Statue of Liberty dedicated – 1886

October 31, 2014 — Nevada Admission Day – 1864

November 2, 2014 — North Dakota Admission Day – 1889

November 2, 2014 — South Dakota Admission Day – 1889

November 4, 2014 — Election Day

November 6, 2014 — Abraham Lincoln elected – 1860

November 8, 2014 — Montana Admission Day – 1889

View the entire calendar »


Educational Resources

Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine

Learning Tangent Magazine is an inclusive homeschool publication from founder and Editor-in-Chief Gail Nelson. Each quarterly issue is available online for free, and there is the opportunity to support bringing the magazine to print with indiegogo. I discovered the fall issue through a feature on genealogy for homeschoolers, which is a subject after my own heart. Also included are 9 Tips to Bring Foreign Language to Your Homeschool, and ongoing series about Teaching Photography to Your Children, a Mystery of History product review, and more. Spring and Summer issues for 2014 are available online as well.

The Site That Teaches You To Code Well Enough To Get a Job

Have a child that wants a job in programming? According to Wired magazine, “You’ll need hundreds of hours of practice — and countless mistakes — to learn the trade. It’s often more of an art than a skill — where the best way of doing something isn’t the most obvious way. You can’t really learn to craft code that’s both clear and efficient without some serious trial and error, not to mention an awful lot of feedback on what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. That’s where a site called is trying to help. Exercism is updated every day with programming exercises in a variety of different languages. First, you download these exercises using a special software client, and once you’ve completed one, you upload it back to the site, where other coders from around the world will give you feedback. Then you can take what you’ve learned and tr
y the exercise again.” This is great real-world experience for homeschoolers wanting to get into coding.

70+ Free Educational Games

Pragmatic Mom put together this list of free educational games separated by subject. Games include printables, online games, and free mobile apps.


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Recent Blog Posts

Educating Head, Heart, Hands, and Health

Educating head, heart, hands, and healthI grew up participating in 4H, and while I recommend the 4H program itself, I also find myself thinking a lot about the four “H’s” as they apply to homeschooling: head, heart, hands, and health. If you want a holistic way to personally assess your homeschooling, think about whether what your kids are doing is working in each of these areas. Read more »

Playing Music By Ear: The Hidden Problem (and what to do about it)

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: The hidden problem of playing music by ear (and what to do about it)It’s a skill we’d all love to have – the ability to play music by ear, and not need the actual musical score. You know, sit down at the piano, and just start playing whatever tune is in your head. There are so many benefits to such a talent: the freedom to express oneself musically, versatility in being able to put one’s music to good use for economic or artistic purposes, the ability to entertain and please others…and if we see the talent of playing by ear in our children, we are usually thrilled. And why wouldn’t we be? Read more »

BSA Merit Badges {Free Unit Studies}

Instead of Curriculum: Unit Studies withBSA Merit BadgesWhere can you find over 100 free high quality unit studies? Boy Scouts! The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program offers great merit badge materials to its Scouts, which my older sons used on their way to achieving their Eagle Scout ranks. Completing merit badge requirements was often a great addition to their study of science, history, culture, government, business, and technology, and they also learned some great life skills for staying fit and healthy, managing money, and dealing with emergencies. Read more »

Featured Article

Rhythms, Routines, Rituals

by Amanda Witman

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog:  Rhythms, Routines, Rituals In the Homeschool

Rhythms, routines, and rituals help us stay centered and on track as homeschooling parents, and they enable our children to relax and feel secure because they know what to expect each day. A thoughtful routine allows us to focus our energy in one area at a time, knowing that other essential areas will not be neglected. Well-established rhythms help us manage the ebb and flow of homeschooling and free our remaining energy to deal with the unexpected.

Establishing a rhythm removes some of the guesswork, giving us a ready answer to the question, “What comes next?” We can focus on schoolwork knowing that there is time set aside for outside play. We can make a last-minute visit to the park knowing what time frame will still allow us to get dinner on the table. We can go about our day confident that routine tasks will be remembered and taken care of.

It may take some time to uncover the rhythms, routines, and rituals that work best for your family. Keep trying until you find your way. Once you have some ideas, post them someplace visible in a form that everyone can understand (with simple words or pictures for younger children) so that the whole family knows what to expect.

Here are some ideas as you seek to find and refine the rhythm that works for you:


Observing daily rituals and following a routine helps to center and calm us as we begin the day. It can be as simple as first opening the curtains to let in the morning sun, then feeding the cat, preparing a cup of something delicious, and sitting down in a favorite chair for a contemplative moment before your work begins.

Modeling a morning rhythm for our children by having one for ourselves is a powerful example. Some children wake slowly, while others greet the day with every ounce of exuberance. How can you support your child’s inner rhythm and incorporate it into your expectations for the day?

Read the rest »

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