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September 2014

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Chemistry, Fables, Research, Unit Studies, High School, and More

September 2014

From the Editor

Happy September! I love autumn — the cooler days and fiery blazes of color invigorate me. This year I’m going to be adding some Civil War history to my fall season as I retrace some of my ancestors’ steps in the battles waged across Virginia. Genealogy research has led me to books written contemporaneously about the conditions experienced by my grandparents’ grandparents as they suffered through the brutal years of the War Between the States and I have a passion to see those places for myself. Because I live in Fredericksburg, it’s a short drive to many of the battlefields, and this year is the 150th anniversary of a significant battle for my 3X great grandfather at Cedar Creek. Following this history trail is just one more reminder of how passions bring learning to life no matter what your age.

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley


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Teaching Calendar

September 17, 2014 — US Constitution Day – Constitution was signed today in 1787

September 19, 2014 — International Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 24, 2014 — US Supreme Court Established – 1789

September 24, 2014 — Dr. Seuss dies – 1991

September 24, 2014 — Rosh Hashanah

September 25, 2014 — Bill of Rights proposed to states – 1789

September 26, 2014 — Johnny Chapman (AKA Johnny Appleseed) born – 1775

September 26, 2014 — Native American Day

September 30, 2014 — Elie Wiesel born – 1928 (Holocaust)

October 3, 2014 — Yom Kippur

October 4, 2014 — Sputnik launched – 1957

October 8, 2014 — Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

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

View the entire calendar »


Educational Resources

Middle School Chemistry

Middle School Chemistry is “a resource of guided, inquiry-based lesson plans that covers basic chemistry concepts along with the process of scientific investigation.” From the American Chemical Society (ACS), the free book helps students:

  • Ask scientific questions and investigate them
  • Design and conduct experiments
  • Understand their observations on the molecular level
  • Record and communicate results

The lessons can be viewed online with multimedia or downloaded as a 22MB PDF file. The lessons are also available in Spanish.

45 Ways to Avoid Using the Word “Very”

How do you express strong adjectives without using vague wording? This post gives 45 descriptive words to use that will help avoid the use of “very”.

Aesop’s Fables and More

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Necessity is the mother of invention. Birds of a feather flock together. These morals and more are found in the 600+ fables of Aesop which can be found transcribed online at (some with audio and images). A separate section of user-submitted lesson plans is also available.

Google Scholar

Like Google News and Google Books, Google Scholar is a search restricted to certain results, in this case scholarly publications and case law. As students learn to use reliable sources in their research, using Google Scholar is one way to help them conduct searches that exclude wikis and unreliable websites. The publications are academically advanced and often cover specific disciplines, making them most useful for high school level research. “From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.” Some publications are presented in abst
ract and the full text would need to be accessed at a library that subscribes to databases of scholarly works.


Recent Blog Posts

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 »

Homeschooling High School: Our 11th Grade Plan

Homeschooling High School: Our 11th Grade PlanWe are homeschooling high school all the way through. If you would like to see how we track credits and create transcripts, see Our 10th Grade Plan. If you haven’t checked out our free Homeschool Planner Plus download, you should take a look at it for creating high school transcripts. It is easy to plug in your courses and credits and the spreadsheet calculates your GPA for you.The 11th Grade Plan: DE English – This year’s focus is on composition through the local community college’s ENG 111 course. Over the course of the semester, students work to complete a research paper from the abstract topic proposal to the final draft. It is a challenging course that goes into the details of the process for a single paper instead of comp
leting multiple papers. Read more »

Help! My Home Is Overflowing With School!

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: Homeschool OrganizationWhether you’re just starting out or have been on the homeschooling journey for years, organizing your homeschooling routine can seem like an immense undertaking. The key to any successful organizational system is to keep it simple and make it part of your normal daily routine. The first year that I homeschooled my son Matt, I worked hard to make sure that homeschooling didn’t throw our entire household into chaos. By the time his little brother Mason was ready for school, I had gotten a whole lot better at it.Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about homeschool organization. Hopefully these simple suggestions can help you get organized, too. Read more »

Good Reasons To Quit Homeschooling

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: When It's Time to Quit HomeschoolingThere are some times when some homeschooling parents should decide to quit homeschooling.We’re used to cheerleading for homeschooling and supporting homeschoolers through temporary hard times. We’re accustomed to supporting people who have short-term or medium-term misgivings about homeschooling, but their kids are really doing fine, and they’re really doing fine.But if we’re really going to be “Homeschoolers Helping Homeschoolers,” as I’ve been writing about in this series, then we also have to provide support for homeschoolers who are making the decision to quit.What are some good reasons to quit homeschooling? Read more »

Featured Article

Educating Head, Heart, Hands, and Health


I 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.

Head: Are your children getting the knowledge they need and the opportunity to develop cognitively? This means not only learning facts, but learning to ask questions, learning to draw conclusions, and learning to think critically. Are they readying themselves for–or making progress with–skills like reading, writing, and computation?

Heart: Are your children getting nourishment for their hearts? Do they have opportunities to form meaningful relationships? Do they have opportunity to see and create beauty in the world? Are they developing empathy and care for creatures and people? Do they have mentors who can help them grow spiritually or philosophically?

Read the rest »

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