Homeschooling

Great Wall of China Project for Kids: Mini Bricks Review

pin image for Great Wall of China Mini Bricks Timberdoodle Review

Want to build a model of the Great Wall of China…

  • as a hands-on history project,
  • as a middle-school architecture unit, or
  • as part of studying Chinese history, culture, and geography in your homeschool?

My daughter has been attending Saturday Chinese school for years, so in conjunction with her ongoing Chinese language learning, I try to integrate cultural studies into our regular homeschool routine whenever I can.

Building a Great Wall of China model fits right into our studies, and is the perfect hands-on history project.

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Homeschooling

GraviTrax Review: Homeschool STEM and Physics

GraviTrax Review: Homeschool STEM Marble Run

Teaching Elementary STEM (Engineering!) and Physics at Home

We’ve had a lot of indoor time lately — and I’m not even talking about sheltering-in-place due to COVID-19! Since baby Lochlan’s premature entrance into the world seven months ago, our usual social outings have been stripped back a great deal. (Master Lochlan would rock a shirt with the phrase, “I was social distancing before social distancing was cool.”) Our family has always loved games and building sets, but this rainy housebound winter, we’re enjoying them even more than usual.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary GraviTrax set from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

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Homeschooling

Weekly Recap: Waffles, Viruses, and E-Books

As tempting as it might be, none of us can ignore this novel coronavirus any longer. Schools are closed all around us — our county has more than half of Tennessee’s total COVID-19 cases. But here’s the thing —

Taking COVID-19 precautions is a simple way we can actively love our neighbor.

Writer Lore Wilbert reminds us, “It is not panicking to practice social distancing, avoid crowds, wash your hands more frequently and for longer. Even if you fall in the not-at-risk-of-dying category, over 20 million Americans ARE at risk of dying because their immune systems are weaker. We should love our neighbors by showing restraint and care in our own normal schedules.

The world will keep spinning if you opt out of the conference, stay home from church or other large gatherings for a few weeks…

It’s a sacrifice, but it’s not panicking.”

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Homeschooling

Weekly Recap: Journal-Free Nature Walks & the Cold War

Tornado Relief: 3 Ways to Help

Our week began with the devastating Middle Tennessee tornadoes. Here, just south of the city, we escaped the damage, but so many of our neighbors in Nashville and Cookeville were not as lucky.

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  • Samaritan’s Purse teams have arrived in Middle Tennessee (you can volunteer or donate).
  • Hands On Nashville is coordinating tornado relief efforts, too. I hear local chatter about this organization often, although I’m not personally familiar with them.
  • The Home School CARE Foundation, an arm of the umbrella school we use, is collecting funds for affected homeschool families and communities. Donate here, and select the ‘General Fund’ option.

Continue reading “Weekly Recap: Journal-Free Nature Walks & the Cold War”

Homeschooling

Weekly Recap: Kampung Boy and Fractal Broccoli

What’s Happening in Our Homeschool?

This week, I polled you on Instagram stories and asked if you’d be interested in reading an informal weekly recap of our homeschool — a brief blog post highlighting books we read and resources we particularly enjoyed that week. 90% of you — well, 90% of you who voted — said yes. (And a couple of you, prompted by Aveline’s book reviews, asked if she’d include any of her opinions in the weekly recaps. You’ll have to read and see…)

This format is really old-fashioned blogging, isn’t it? The headline didn’t give you five reasons why you should click, and what I’m writing here isn’t hyper-focused on answering your pain point in three easy steps. By all accounts, this kind of informal writing is what the blogging experts say not to do. But through what I’ve observed in my blogging-since-2002 escapades, it’s that the personal, transparent, unpolished conversational elements have largely vanished from the blog scene. So let’s try it, shall we?

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Homeschooling

Chroma Cube: A Single-Player Game for Gameschooling

PIN IMAGE Chroma Cube: A Single-Player Game for Gameschooling in your homeschool

Using games as teaching tools is such a popular practice in homeschool circles there’s actually a term for it: gameschooling. Have you heard of it? While gameschooling might conjure up images of a large family gathered around the dining room table, it doesn’t always look like that. There’s a place for single-player games, too, especially logic puzzles which teach deductive reasoning skills. My daughter particularly loves these sorts of challenges!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary Chroma Cube from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. Aveline’s sweatshirt is compliments of Primary

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Homeschooling

Why Use Science Audiobooks? (An Apologia Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures MP3 CD Review)

Pin image for Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

Do you struggle with the available options for teaching elementary science? Over and over, I hear from overwhelmed parents who are stuck trying to figure out how to fit science in to an already-full homeschool schedule.

Maybe that’s you.

Maybe science is the one subject which keeps getting pushed down the priority list, and tends to eventually get left out altogether. Maybe you have the idea that science needs to be heavily hands-on, with dramatically impressive experiments all the time. Realistically, you can’t be the mad scientist too, on top of all the other hats you wear. And maybe you even feel a little guilty about that.

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Homeschooling

Why I Don’t Use THAT Popular Homeschool Booklist

That super-popular homeschool booklist? I don't use it. This is why.

You know that free homeschool book list? The one making the rounds across the homeschool world — along with the various free and low-cost curriculum offerings by the same author — the one which also includes a not recommended list dozens of titles long?

I don’t use that list.

I know, I know. It’s trending in popularity. It’s everywhere. It promises “wholesome” and “appropriate” titles, and ranks each one according to its “moral merit”. (It also provides a separate, but very lengthy, list of books which the author believes should be avoided.)

Don’t get me wrong. I do agree we should avoid certain books. Some books — like ones about the occult — aren’t even worth the paper they’re printed on. Libraries, too, are full of quizzically-named books like “Help! Haunted Werewolves ate the Cafeteria Lady*” — these always make me scratch my head. Literary merit? Moral value? Highly debatable! (*not an actual book.)

But the author of this particular recommended/not recommended reading list isn’t referring to books about werewolves and lunch ladies. When this book list decries books of questionable merit, it cuts out books like Clara and the Bookwagon (due to unkind parents who don’t value education), as well as Tirzah and The Year of Miss Agnes (because the main characters decide to pursue a path other than childbearing.) There are dozens more books similarly not recommended; this is just a sampling.

I’m taking a deep breath here.

Maybe you have parents who were less than kind to you.

Maybe you struggle with infertility.

This does not make you less than.

This does not make you “of questionable merit.”

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