Homeschooling

Finally, a Kindergarten American History Curriculum!

Sonlight's New Kindergarten American History Curriculum!Does an accurate American history curriculum for kindergarten actually exist?

A good homeschool history curriculum is difficult to find, isn’t it? And US history is particularly hard to teach.  I have very little tolerance for oversimplified books which whitewash the complexity of our nation’s beginnings, idolize outward morality, virtue, and character, or put Columbus and Washington on a pedestal of American exceptionalism.  But most truly accurate US history books are geared toward a much older audience, and aren’t designed to give a broad sweeping overview to sensitive kindergarteners or first graders. American history is messy, ugly, grim, and often brutal. Teaching true American history to small children — even with picture books — is not easy.

So how do we find accurate US history books which will capture the tender imaginations of precious five- and six-year-olds?

Continue reading “Finally, a Kindergarten American History Curriculum!”

Homeschooling

Don’t be a Pedagogical Snob

Your goal is to educate your child, not to replicate  a method, via the Don't be a Pedagogical Snob blog post by Gina Munsey, the Oaxacaborn blog [Disclosure: the Evan-Moor link in this post is an affiliate link. This means if you click and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.]

Classical, Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, oh my.

I love pedagogy. I really enjoy listening to speakers and authors like CiRCE Institute’s Andrew Kern and Memoria Press’ Martin Cothran talk about educational philosophy, the history of classical education, and what it means to teach thinking. I’m drawn to its thoughtful, time-honored idealism. And my daughter loves the deep academia of it all. The Christian classical education approach definitely resonates with us — moreso than any other homeschool method — and I consider us classical homeschoolers.

But I was chatting with my friend Megan (of the schoolnest blog) recently about the freedom which comes with not being a homeschool method purist. If you lean mostly toward one method but then mix in a twist of another approach, the educational philosophy police aren’t going to get you.

Really.

Continue reading “Don’t be a Pedagogical Snob”

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.

Continue reading “Great Wall of China Project for Kids: Mini Bricks Review”

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.]

Continue reading “GraviTrax Review: Homeschool STEM and Physics”

Homeschooling

5 Ways to Streamline your Homeschool for the Holidays

5 Ways to Streamline Your Homeschool for the Holidays

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day rush at us at seemingly breakneck speed, our calendars full to overflowing with recitals, shopping, family gatherings, and endless errands. Each year, we promise ourselves we’ll slow down and make time for what’s really important, yet each year we find ourselves captive to the tyranny of the urgent, swept up in the cultural chaos of Christmas.

We limp through holidays, then let out an exhausted sigh in January, wearily vacuuming up the fir tree needles and boxing up the nativity while vowing to do better next year.

Instead of resigning ourselves to overwhelm and lack of margin this holiday season, let’s redeem the time, as Paul instructs in Ephesians 5:16. But how can we hold the hours accountable?

Continue reading my Holiday Homeschool Survival Guide on the Veritas Press blog

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

Continue reading “Chroma Cube: A Single-Player Game for Gameschooling”

Homeschooling

Deconstructing Fundamentalism (without Rejecting Jesus)

A Response to Josh Harris:

When it comes to breaking news in Christian media, I don’t generally write a hot take. I tend to mull over disparate issues, ponder how they’re all connected, then write a response. And as a second-generation homeschooler who’s seen the good, the bad, and a whole lot of ugly, my responses usually focus on the cultural and theological shifts within homeschool subculture. (My article “Christian Homeschooling is not a Formula for Success“, for example, was a result of years of conversations with those inside — and outside — the conservative Christian bubble.)

But Josh Harris’ recent “I am not a Christian” announcement isn’t a hot take. It’s connected to that larger story arc, that ongoing cultural shift, that wide expanse of connectivity between rules and rebellion, between legalism and losing faith.

Continue reading “Deconstructing Fundamentalism (without Rejecting Jesus)”

Homeschooling

How to Create a Hands-off, Independent Morning Time

PIN IMAGE with text: How to Create an Independent Hands-Off Morning Time in your Homeschool

With the exception of coloring books, our homeschool morning time is designed to be nearly all audio. (And I’m talking tech, not read-alouds.)

Most homeschool morning times are family-centered, and are traditionally more teacher-intensive. But unlike the communal morning basket with read-alouds, I created this all-audio routine to be completed independently by my daughter, as a launching point for her day. She craves structure, and this set sequence of audio tasks calms her and settles her (and me!) into a great headspace for the day. We used this same routine last year, too, and it worked out so well for us.

While a morning time that’s not also family time might seem odd, the way I see it, we homeschoolers are together with our kids 24/7 — sometimes that even feels like 25/7 or 8. So I’m not too worried about letting go of some together-time for an hour or so in the morning. In fact, it’s been a lifesaver.

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Continue reading “How to Create a Hands-off, Independent Morning Time”