Adding Fun Into Your Homeschool: Games

When we talk about incorporating games into your homeschooling, many folks automatically assume that we are only talking about early elementary school. It is easy to think of games that teach colors and shapes or other basic concepts. I will mention a few of those games today, but I also want to think about games that can be beneficial for our older students.

Adding Fun Games Pinterest

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

One of our favorite types of game to play as a family is history related games. My husband loves history and will often join us for those types of games. My children have been really enjoying American History Timeline. You are dealt cards with various events from American history and each time you have a turn you have to place one of those spots in the correct place on the timeline of cards. Once you have placed the card, it is turned over to reveal the date. If it is correct, the game continues to the next player. If the card is in the wrong spot the player puts the card at the bottom of the deck and draws another card. The first player to successfully place all of their cards wins. We also really enjoy the history games from Home School in the Woods. She has a variety of file folder games that you can print and play focused on various time periods and historical locations. They are a great way to add a little fun to your studies.

In addition to history, there are several options to use games to work on geography. My children received Ticket to Ride for Christmas and have really enjoyed playing it. As they make connections and complete routes, they become more familiar with the United States and various major cities across the map. They also have a variety of other boards and expansion packs, so you could have maps of Europe and other locations. I certainly wouldn’t use it as my only geography study but it is a fun way to help cement knowledge or peak interest. Scrambled States of America is another great one that is even more directly educational while still being lots of fun. In this game you learn about the fifty states, their capitals, mottos, and other interesting information about each state. If you like computer based games, Stack the States is a lot of fun.

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There are a variety of opportunities for math games to add in a little fun. Some games such as Telling Time Bingo and Frog Pond Fractions were created with the express purpose of teaching math skills. While others are a bit more subtle in their math lessons. For example, Yahtzee and Monopoly both require players to use various math skills as they complete the game. My children also enjoy Life on the Farm and Act Your Wage, and I find both of those games to be more enjoyable than Monopoly and not quite so lengthy. When I asked about games on my Facebook page last week someone also mentioned, Smath which is like scrabble for math. I have not yet tried it, but I have added it to my wish list. You can also check out my post on using card games to help with math concepts.

In addition to academic subjects, I think games can be a great way to work on character traits as well as critical thinking. Games such as Clue and Guess Who? can be fun ways to work on those critical thinking skills. There are also a variety of cooperative games that are available. In these games children are working together to achieve the goal instead of competing. I find that these can be helpful with siblings who might be struggling with attitudes towards each other. We particularly like Wildcraft as a family and my five-year-old son enjoys Count Your Chickens.

For the preschool crowd, there are dozens of wonderful options for teaching cooperation, colors, shapes, letter, and beginning math concepts. I could write an entire post on the options but I will just share a few of our favorites with you today. When my older two children were preschool age, Leap Frog had a Letter Factory game. They spent hours playing that game and learning their letters. A favorite that has been around since I was a little girl is High-Ho Cherry-o. I also highly recommend pattern blocks, even though they may be considered more of a toy than a game.

There are so many ways to add fun into your homeschool day through games. I would love for you to share your family’s favorite games in the comments and tell me how you incorporate games into your homeschool days. Don’t forget to check out all of the other great blog hop posts today!

2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

CREW @ Homeschool Review Crew2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

Chareen @ Every Bed of RosesABC of Homeschooling

Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag Adding Fun to Your Homeschool Day

Erin @ For Him and My Family Large Family Homeschooling

Lori @ At Home Where Life Happens Learning Life Skills

Monique @ Mountain of Grace HomeschoolingHomeschooling the High School Years

Monique D. @ Early Learning MomHomeschooling With Autism

Yvie @ Homeschool On the Range 5 Days of Upper Grades Homeschooling

Abby @ Making Room 4 One More – Time Management for Homeschool Moms

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool5 Days of Homeschool Questions

Amy @ the WRITE BalanceYear-Round Schooling

Annette @ A Net in TimeHomeschooling.

Betty @ Lets Get RealHomeschooling High School

Cassandra @ My Blessed MessEclectic Homeschooling
Kimberley @ Vintage Blue SuitcaseRoadschooling with a Teenager

Yvonne @ The Life We Build5 Days of Relaxed Homeschooling

Destiny @ Some Call It DestinyEncouragement for the Homeschooling Mom

Karen @ Tots and Me…Growing Up TogetherA Peek into Our Homeschool

Cassie D @ Deputie TribeHomeschooling 6 Taking Care of YOU

Kristen Heider @ A Mom’s Quest to Teach Theme: A Quest for a Great Homeschool Year

Patti Pierce – Truth and Grace Homeschool AcademyMy Favorite Homeschooling Things

Wendy @ Life on Chickadee Lane5 Days of Nature Study

Jacquelin @ A Stable BeginningHomeschooling my final 4

Christine @ Life’s Special NecessitiesYes! You Can Homeschool Your Special Needs Child

Sally M – Tell the Next GenerationTips for Homeschooling Struggling Learners

Kim @ Good Sweet LoveLast Year of Elementary

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is doing an amazing sale this month! Buy One year get One Year FREE! We use this for several of our courses and one price covers all the students in your home for as many of their over 400 courses and you would like to use.

If you missed the sale last month, Tuttle Twins is doing a 50% off sale in honor of back to school! Simply use the code: SCHOOL

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Enrichment Studies has a great free fine arts memory match game this month!

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

Adding Fun to Your Homeschool: Contests/Competitions

Intrinsic motivation is a wonderful thing, but sometimes a little contest or competition can get students excited and motivated to do their very best. I have found that when I can tie schoolwork into a contest or competition my children will work harder and turn in work that is above what they typically do for a ‘regular’ assignment. There is also generally less grumbling and excited planning.

contests

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

While not every assignment can or should be a competition, there are lots of available options. Writing is one of the easiest subjects to incorporate this strategy. There are quite a few writing competitions available for a variety of prompts and genres, many of them are free to enter. We personally participate in writing competitions with the North Carolina Tar Heel Junior Historians and the North Carolina State Fair. The 4-H program also offers some great writing competitions. Having these prompts and directions can help students be engaged and excited about their writing. It also gives them the opportunity to get feedback from someone outside of the home about their writing. I found that this was particularly helpful to me when one of my children thought that I was too harsh of a critic. The feedback on their entries helped them realize that correct spelling really was important and noticed by other people.

Science is another great area to incorporate competitions. You could participate in a local science fair (or start one) and allow them to work through the scientific process. You could also work on things through Science Olympiad which would allow them to compete on a team in various science activities. Another option that we utilize are 4-H competitions. My children participate in Avian Bowl, Poultry Judging, and Poultry Skill-a-thon as well as other livestock and chicken activities. They also offer competitions in robotics, horticulture, and many other science areas. Students learn to be subject matter ‘experts’ in their fields and spend lots of time studying and learning together.

In addition to writing projects, my children participate in a variety of history projects through the North Carolina Tar Heel Junior Historians program. They are able to make models, film movies, create scrapbooks and more all while learning about North Carolina history. This is a great incentive for them to do their very best. I also appreciate that this particular program is really good at making them cite their sources and learn about good research. There are junior historian programs around the country and I highly recommend checking to see if you have a program local to your area.

If you have a budding artist or photographer there are lots of opportunities for competitions in these areas. My daughter has just gotten into photography after purchasing a camera at a local yard sale. She is going to be using the 4H photography curriculum and the photography courses from SchoolhouseTeachers.com to help her grow her skills and then entering her pictures into our state fair, Tar Heel Junior Historians competition, and a 4H spring competition. There are dozens of other small art and photography competitions that your student could enter to display their work and get expert feedback in order to continue to improve their work.

Last but certainly not least, I want to take a minute to talk about public speaking. I believe that public speaking is a skill that is important for students no matter what their career or life goals. As adults they need to be comfortable speaking to a variety of people in a variety of situations. We have found that 4H presentations have been a great way to improve my children’s comfort levels when speaking in front of a group of people. My oldest son has been participating in presentations for about seven years and I have watched him not only get more comfortable during presentations but also flourish in a variety of speaking situations.  He can interact with people in a confident and clear manner. This was a major benefit last year when he was running a supply trailer after Hurricane Florence. He interacted with volunteers, disaster victims, and the people and companies bringing in supplies. More than once people sought me out to tell me how impressed they were with his communication skills. I truly believe that 4H presentations are a big part of that success.

Contests and competitions are one way to add a little fun into your homeschool. Make sure to check back each day this week for a new way to add fun. Also, do not forget to check out some of the other great posts in this five-day blog hop. There is sure to be some help and encouragement for you.

CREW @ Homeschool Review Crew2019 Annual Not Back to School Homeschool Blog Hop

Chareen @ Every Bed of RosesABC of Homeschooling

Dawn @ Schoolin’ Swag Adding Fun to Your Homeschool Day

Erin @ For Him and My Family Large Family Homeschooling

Lori @ At Home Where Life Happens Learning Life Skills

Monique @ Mountain of Grace HomeschoolingHomeschooling the High School Years

Monique D. @ Early Learning MomHomeschooling With Autism

Yvie @ Homeschool On the Range 5 Days of Upper Grades Homeschooling

Abby @ Making Room 4 One More – Time Management for Homeschool Moms

Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool5 Days of Homeschool Questions

Amy @ the WRITE BalanceYear-Round Schooling

Annette @ A Net in TimeHomeschooling.

Betty @ Lets Get RealHomeschooling High School

Cassandra @ My Blessed MessEclectic Homeschooling
Kimberley @ Vintage Blue SuitcaseRoadschooling with a Teenager

Yvonne @ The Life We Build5 Days of Relaxed Homeschooling

Destiny @ Some Call It DestinyEncouragement for the Homeschooling Mom

Karen @ Tots and Me…Growing Up TogetherA Peek into Our Homeschool

Cassie D @ Deputie TribeHomeschooling 6 Taking Care of YOU

Kristen Heider @ A Mom’s Quest to Teach Theme: A Quest for a Great Homeschool Year

Patti Pierce – Truth and Grace Homeschool AcademyMy Favorite Homeschooling Things

Wendy @ Life on Chickadee Lane5 Days of Nature Study

Jacquelin @ A Stable BeginningHomeschooling my final 4

Christine @ Life’s Special NecessitiesYes! You Can Homeschool Your Special Needs Child

Sally M – Tell the Next GenerationTips for Homeschooling Struggling Learners

Kim @ Good Sweet LoveLast Year of Elementary

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is doing an amazing sale this month! Buy One year get One Year FREE! We use this for several of our courses and one price covers all the students in your home for as many of their over 400 courses and you would like to use.

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Enrichment Studies has a great free fine arts memory match game this month!

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

Mid-Year Goals, Book, and Art Updates

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How can 2019 already be half over? The year is passing quickly, but I’m pleased with the progress I’m making on several of my goals. First, we recently completed our goal of decluttering 1,000 things from our home. It was a family effort and it feels so good to have sold, donated, and trashed things that were no longer needed in our home to make space and reduce visual clutter. The children are also pleased that it makes cleaning up so much easier when there is less stuff.  We had promised them the chance to go out to eat at a restaurant of their choice when we finished our goal.  They debated on several fancier restaurants in town but ended up deciding on sushi and pizza.  We even decided to give it a go again and work towards another 1,000 things but this time including items from our storage room.

mid year goals pinterest

I have been keeping up with my reading goals this summer and I am looking forward to reading even more as we have a little vacation coming up later this month.  Since my last goals update, I have finished five more books and I am currently reading three others.  I have shared a list of those books below but want to take a minute to highly encourage you to check out A Homeschool Experiment if you are looking for a fun but encouraging summer read. This is a novel about a mom’s experiment in homeschooling that will have you laughing, crying, and nodding your head and she goes through the process of figuring out what works best for her kids while showing the real-life side of things.

 

Books Read

Currently Reading:

Upcoming:

 

We have not done as much hiking in other places as I would have liked but I have been enjoying walking and biking with my youngest two children several times a week right in our own neighborhood. This has been a great way to get some miles in towards my 100-mile goal and we have plans for more hikes when the weather cools off a bit in the fall.

I have been a little slack over the summer at getting our foot print art posted so I wanted to take a minute and catch that up as well. In June we did a family hand print art project for my husband for Father’s Day. I convinced him to let me get his hand print four times on the canvas and then I put the hand print of each child into one of his hand prints. I thought it turned out well and he has it hanging up in his home office. I even managed to get the baby’s hand print.

For July we wanted to celebrate summer a bit and so we have feet in the sand foot print art! I first brushed the baby’s foot with paint and then placed it into the sand before making the prints on the paper. We used sand from our sand box because I forgot to do it when we were at the beach a couple weeks ago. You could use any kind of sand that was available. I do recommend dry sand so it doesn’t clump as badly.

We are making progress on our goals, enjoying a little down time this month as our summer winds down, and getting ready to jump back into our ‘school’ schedule in September. I would love to hear more from you about your goals and the progress you are making. Also, don’t forget to check back every day this week for our blog hop!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is doing an amazing sale this month! Buy One year get One Year FREE! We use this for several of our courses and one price covers all the students in your home for as many of their over 400 courses and you would like to use.

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Enrichment Studies has a great free fine arts memory match game this month!

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

Library and Educational Services LLC (Review)

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Most of the reviews you will find on this blog are for specific products, but this review is a bit different. I had the opportunity to review a selection from the online bookstore, Library and Educational Services LLC. They were very generous in allowing me to pick out on book from the “Who Was…” series, an audiobook on CD from Lifehouse Theater, and $60 worth of books from their Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books. You can imagine the excitement at my house as we browsed, discussed, and made our final selections. There were so many to choose from but I tried to get something each of my children would enjoy.

We were already big fans of the “Who Was…” series and excited to be able to pick out a new one for our collection. When I realized how great their prices were, I went ahead and picked up an extra one at my expense.  The children were thrilled to receive Who Was Beatrix Potter? and Who Was J.R.R. Tolkien?. These are two of the authors that we were already planning to study this year so the books work nicely with our curriculum. IF you are not familiar with this series, they are short easy to read biographies that include lots of great information for young readers. I would recommend them for the 7-12 year old range, although my thirteen-year-old still enjoys reading them as a quick read.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Winter ArtAnd a Lesson onFlexibility!-1

Lifehouse Theater Audio books were new to me but we love audio books and I was excited to give it a try. We had a family trip to our state capital and used the time coming home to listen to their version of Pride and Prejudice. This was an abridged version of the story, much to the relief of my husband, but really well done. The voices were engaging and story was well represented. I thought it was a great introduction to the story and look forward to reading the full text with them in a few years.

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As I sat down to browse through the Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books, I could have easily spent hundreds of dollars on books. There were so many amazing titles to choose from but I tried to stick closely to my $60 budget. In the end, I chose three sets that I thought would be beneficial to our family. First, a set of two animal detectives books. These books are for early readers and were great for me to read aloud to my five-year-old son. They featured military dolphins and police dogs and he has loved hearing me read them and going through on his own and viewing the pictures. Then for my oldest two children, I picked up a set of Stories in American History. These four hardback chapter books each teach about a different part of American History. They are colorful and engaging but not ‘babyish’. Finally, I picked up a set of books for us to use together for nature study. The title, A Kid’s Guide to Animal Poop, made the children laugh and the boys were immediately drawn to them. However, while the title is a bit silly, the books are full of great information about each of the four animals that were represented in the series. They will be a great addition to our science and nature study this year.

Overall, I was very pleased with the prompt service and reasonable prices offered by Library and Educational Services LLC. They had a great selection of books and they were very high-quality books which I expect to last for many years. They also have a great selection of books on CD that I am looking forward to utilizing for some Christmas shopping this year. I was also impressed by the speed of service. The books were shipped out the very next day and arrived in about 3-4 days. As you prepare for the upcoming school year, you should take a look at the selection offered by Library and Educational Services LLC and see what they have that might work well with your curriculum choices.

Wholesale Books for Your Homeschool {Library and Educational Services LLC Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Our Sixth Grade Curriculum Choices

sixth grade pinterest

I am excited to share with you today the very best and only correct sixth grade curriculum! Just kidding! I firmly believe that there are many great programs. There are many factors that go into choosing the best curriculum for your child. However, I always like to share what we are using in case it helps someone find a program that works well for their family.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

My daughter is eleven and getting ready to start her sixth-grade year. When we sat down and discussed her goals for the year, she wanted to work on improving her running, her music skills, start her own weaving business, and read through the entire Old Testament.  As I sat down to plan her curriculum, I wanted to find ways to incorporate both the academic goals that I had for her as well as her own goals and interests.

For language arts, we are using a combination of four programs. This might sound a bit overwhelming but they each cover a different area and generally only require a few minutes each day per program. First, we are continuing to use All About Spelling. It is one of my favorite programs ever because it was such a game changer for our family. This program helped both of my older children to finally understand spelling and translate what they were learning in spelling to their everyday writing. Last spring, my daughter had the opportunity to try out Fix It! Grammar from IEW and we felt like it was a really good fit. The short lessons were effective without being overwhelming and so we are going to continue to use that program for Grammar.  For literature we are going to use Analyzing, Understanding, and Exploring Literature from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Finally, we are going to start working our way through Sharon Watson’s writing program Jump In. My son started this program last spring and we really liked it. She has various plans to cover this material in anywhere from one to three years. I plan on using the two-year track with my daughter.

For the last two years my daughter has used Math For A Living Education. She has really enjoyed the program and it worked well for her. I thought about switching her to something that she could use all through middle school (level six is the highest in this program), but since she liked it and wanted to continue, we decided to go ahead and finish out the program before switching to something new next year. I love that it is a very open and go program that includes lots of real-life application to help them understand why they need the math and when they will use it in real life.

For science, we are finishing up a science program that we started but did not finish last year: Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. We love the Apologia series but got behind due to the hurricane and switched our science focus to match what was happening in our lives. We are excited to dive back into this program and finish it out. We enjoy all of the hands-on projects and the creation-based approach to science.

We will be studying North Carolina History as a family. We love history and have spent a good deal of time volunteering at our local historic site, so the children are very excited about this year’s history line-up. I will be using a variety of books, our North Carolina Junior Historians program, the North Carolina Historic Sites, and a variety of other resources to take them through North Carolina’s history. We will also use State History from a Christian Perspective to get us started and get a good overview of North Carolina.

For art, she will work on lessons from You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels. She does not see herself as much of an artist, but has found that she can follow along with Nana’s simple and clear instructions to create adorable pictures. I think that the program helps her gain confidence in her art abilities and takes her outside of her ‘box’ and lets her try new things.  For music, she takes violin lessons from Practice Monkeys. We love this gentle and convenient approach to music lessons. She is progressing through the levels of the program quickly and enjoys practicing each day. She is also hoping to add piano lessons through the same program in January. I love that she can manage this new passion and is being responsible in practicing and ‘going to’ her online lessons without a lot of reminding. We are also going to incorporate some music appreciation materials during our morning time and evening education.

In addition to these programs, she will be doing Bible study each day and our morning time which will include read alouds, music appreciation, missionary studies, and more. Of course, there will also be lots of free play, field trips, and hands on adventures to keep the real-life learning going. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing more about what we are using for our morning time as well as the programs I am using for my eighth grader. If you have younger children you may want to check out Our Kindergarten Curriculum.

What are your favorite middle grades resources?

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is doing an amazing sale this month! Buy One year get One Year FREE! We use this for several of our courses and one price covers all the students in your home for as many of their over 400 courses and you would like to use.

Not Consumed is having a great FREE Homeschool Curriculum week this week including live chats, free printables and daily giveaways! make sure to check it out.

Free ABC Mouse Trial: Looking for a little summer education for your children when it is too hot to play outside? ABC Mouse is offering a FREE 30 day trial. This is a great way to give it a try and see if it works for your child.

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Enrichment Studies has a great free fine arts memory match game this month!

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

Home School in the Woods Time Travelers (Review)

After an unusually crazy year (thanks to Hurricane Florence) we were finally finishing up our school year at the end of June. About that same time, I was given the opportunity to review one of the Time Travelers U.S. History Studies by Home School in the Woods. I was tired, the children were tired, and we all needed a break. I almost turned down the review without even discussing it with them. However, I casually mentioned it to them because I knew they had really enjoyed it when we used the Project Passport World History Studies last year to study Ancient Egypt. To my surprise they both enthusiastically told me they wanted to review the product, even though it meant working through it on their summer break.

Pinterest

Since the children were excited about it, I agreed to the review and we turned it into a summer family learning project. We would gather as a family in the evenings a few nights a week and work through a lesson or two. We chose to review Time Travelers: The Early 19th Century because that was a time period my children were interested in learning more about. This program includes 25 days of lessons (five of which are project days to complete projects associated with the other lessons). The lessons include a text (generally 2-3 pages) which I read aloud to the family at the beginning of each lesson. This was the new information that we were learning for the lessons.

Then for each lesson there was a variety of activities. You could have each student complete all of the activities, especially if you were using this as a primary history curriculum or unit study. However, since we were enjoying this as a summer family project, I chose to just have each of my older children do one or two activities per lesson. This was enough to reinforce what was being taught but still kept it light and fun.

Time Travelers 2

The activities that were offered included a timeline, lap book components, copywork, maps, a song book, hands-on projects, and recipes. Students could also create a newspaper and write articles related to the lessons. We chose to primarily focus on the song book, maps, and timeline. In addition, we are collecting the recipes and looking forward to having a celebratory dinner when we finish this program in a few weeks. She even has a post on her blog with ideas on incorporating recipes.

I think that the timeline is so helpful, especially for old students, in helping to understand what things were happening concurrently and how different events impacted other events. My son enjoyed cutting out the timeline figures that went with each lesson and adding them to our timeline pages.

The map component for this program was really well thought out and added a lot to our discussions. It started with a base map in the first lesson and then added maps on clear overlays to help students understand how the country was changing during this time period. We printed off the maps, cut out the parts that had changed and glued them onto the clear sheets. Then the clear sheets were placed on top of the other maps making it very easy to conceptualize the changes.

My daughter has recently taken a strong interest in music and enjoyed creating the song book.  For the lessons that had songs, we would print out the words that were included with the lesson, read over them, and then find the song performed and listen to the song. They really enjoyed this component of the study.

While we did not have time to do all of the hands-on projects there were some really neat ideas included and we plan to go back and complete more of them. My five year old who was listening along with us, would really like to make the coon skin cap project once I get the needed materials. There were other projects like making corn husk dolls and making jumping jack toys (that one is coming up in our lessons this week and I know my son will enjoy it).

Overall, we found this to be a really fun summer learning project for our family. I think it offers a lot of flexibility to be used as a family or to be used as a more formal curriculum. If you were using it as a curriculum, I would recommend it for upper elementary school and possibly middle grades students. For our history loving family, I would probably have my middle school student take some of the lessons a bit deeper with further research but it would be a good base of study. If you were using this program for the year you would probably want to go through at least three or four of the various time periods over the course of a school year. You could also use these programs to supplement and add a more creative component to your other history studies. If you were using a program that briefly covered the time period, this could be a great way to go deeper into an area of interest.

I encourage you to check out all of the Time Travelers U.S. History Studies and to click on the graphic below to check out the other Crew Reviews which cover a variety of time periods as well as some of the other Home School in the Woods products. You can also see our review of Project Passport: Ancient Egypt from last year. Have you tried any of these products? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

World History (Project Passport), U.S. History Studies (Time Travelers) and Timeline Collection: A Collection of Historical Timeline Figures  {Home School in the Woods Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

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Our Kindergarten Curriculum

One of the most popular homeschooling questions I receive is, “What is the best curriculum for….?” I will be the first to tell you that there is no one right answer to that question. There are many factors that go into choosing the best curriculum for your child. However, I always like to share what we are using in case it helps someone find a program that works well for their family.

Kindergarten Pinterest

My son turned five in April and is beginning his kindergarten year this fall. Earlier this summer, when I was working on goals with my older two children, he wanted to set his own goals. I suggested learning to read or to write his name. He, however, had other ideas. He let me know that he wanted to learn to cook pancakes and fish, climb trees, and more about Jesus.  While I don’t think this is all we will learn in kindergarten, I did think they were worthy goals and a great insight into the mind of a five-year-old boy. I’ll leave the tree climbing lessons to his siblings but I do plan to teach him to cook pancakes and fish (though not together) and I am always happy to teach my children more about Jesus.

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In addition to his goals, I have planned out some fun curriculum for us to use to cover additional academic subjects. We do believe in a relaxed approach to kindergarten and what I have planned should take us about an hour a day not counting field trips, nature walks, and his fifteen-minute violin lesson. Since he is not yet showing any interest and has been resistant to learning letters and reading, we will be waiting to start formal phonics until at least January. I will re-evaluate his readiness in January and possibly start All About Reading or work some more in The Learning Dynamics Reading Program. I am also going to have him continue to use his Starfall subscription a couple times a week to continue his exposure to letters and phonics.

I will be using Five in A Row as our primary curriculum with him this year. This program is a great way to encourage an enjoyment of good children’s books and incorporate other areas of learning. Using this program, we will read the book of the week five times (once each school day) and complete various activities coordinating with the book. Five in a Row includes activities for social studies, math, language arts, art, and science. Each week I will choose from the variety of activities to engage and challenge him.

 

While Five in a Row includes some math, it is not a sequential math program. I believe that math in the early years should mostly be hands on and as real life as possible, but I like to have slightly more structured program.  Therefore, I am using a Calendar Math set and the Building a Foundation with Kindergarten Math course from Schoolhouse Teachers to create a math program for him. He loves doing math and is looking forward to getting started. He has really enjoyed using the Pattern Block Pack from The Crafty Classroom so I will also use those a couple times a week for independent work.

For science, we will be doing a mostly nature focused science study in addition to some of the science activities in Five in a Row. I am going to use a primary journal so that he can draw pictures of what we find in nature and then dictate a sentence about it for me to write at the bottom.  We will use our Peterson’s field guides and other resources to learn more about the things he finds. I am also planning to get him caterpillars in the spring so that he can learn about the life cycle of the butterfly.

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We will be studying North Carolina History as a family. At the kindergarten level this will mostly be listening to me read aloud, having family discussions, lots of field trips, and some fun coloring pages. We also already to historical interpreting as a family, so he has lots of exposure to history and has developed a love for the revolutionary era.  I believe that this will be a great introduction to the study of history for him.

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For art, he will continue to work on lessons from You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels. He has been doing the preschool lessons, but as he gets more comfortable I will have him do some of the regular lessons that are a little more challenging. He enjoys these lessons with ‘Nana’ so much and just last week as we were coloring a picture he told me that my picture was “almost as good as Nana’s.” For music, he takes violin lessons from Practice Monkeys. We love this gentle and convenient approach to music lessons and looks forward to them each day.

In addition to these programs, he will be joining us for Bible study each day and our morning time which will include read alouds, music appreciation, missionary studies, and more. Of course, there will also be lots of free play, field trips, and hands on adventures to keep the real life learning going. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing more about what we are using for our morning time as well as the programs I am using for my older children.

What are your favorite kindergarten resources?

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

Free Makeover Your Morning 5 Day Challenge! This is a great way to help re-focus and get your day off on the right foot.

Harry The Happy Mouse (Free on Kindle)

Illustrated Would You Rather Book (Free on Kindle)

Enrichment Studies has a great free fine arts memory match game this month!

Free Help Your Child’s Memory Book from All About Learning Press!

Apologia General Science (Review)

For years I have trusted Apologia with our family science curriculum and have been blessed with children that love science. However, I knew that as my son entered eighth grade this year I wanted him to start being more independent with his science in preparation for high school. This review of  the new Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition by Apologia came at the perfect time and I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

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I received the Textbook, Student Notebook, and Solutions and Test book for this curriculum. The curriculum was designed for junior high students and recommended for seventh grade. However, we are choosing to use it as an eighth-grade course and I think it works well for either grade. The course begins with an overview of the history of science and various scientist. It moves on to learning about the scientific method and documenting results as well as scientific analysis and history. After that overview it begins to teach about specific areas of science including astronomy, geology and paleontology, meteorology and oceanography, chemistry, life science, and more.  I felt like it was a great overview course to help prepare for the more specific high school level courses.

I was a little concerned about how the transition to independence would go with my son because he was so accustomed to doing science together and his ADHD can make organization a bit of a struggle. However, I was very pleased to see how well they laid out this program and the features that were put into place to help students transition to independent learning. While we had a bit of a learning curve the first couple of days from him not wanting to take the time to read the directions, with-in the first week he had gotten the hang of the lay-out and was completing his lessons independently.

The front pages of the student notebook are written to the parent and give grading suggestions and experiment rubrics.  Next comes a schedule that lays out what a student should be doing each day in order to complete the course in 33 four-day weeks. While we will probably adjust that schedule somewhat to fit our needs, I really appreciated having it all laid out and easy for my son to follow.  At the beginning of each day’s work in the notebook there is a checklist of the activities to complete for that day.  For a student that can get sidetracked or forget about multiple steps this can be really helpful in keeping them on track.

The notebook is very well set up and designed to help a student learn how to take good notes, use graphic organizers, learn related vocabulary and prepare for the end of module tests. There is a study guide at the end of each module for the student to complete and use as they study for the end of module test. In the back of the notebook, there are lab report forms for each lab that is included in the text book. These forms help walk the student through the entire process and then help them learn to write more formal lab reports to prepare for high school.

The test book includes a test for each module (except the last module on modern day scientists which does not include a test). The first two tests are designed to be open book tests and get the students accustomed to the testing process. The later tests are designed to be done without the assistance of the book after studying the chapter and review materials. The tests are reasonably short, ranging from 6-13 questions, and mostly multiple choice or matching questions.

Our experience with this program has been wonderful. I loved how easy it was to get my son started and help transition him to independence. He loved the variety of experiments that are included in every module (and I appreciated that they were simple enough that he could use mostly items from around our home to complete them).  We finished up the first two modules of this program and are looking forward to finishing the curriculum during this upcoming school year. I think this program will prepare him well for his high school level sciences.

I encourage you to check out Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition., if you are looking for a creation based general science for your middle grades student.  If you are not yet to the middle grades years you can check out my review of one of their elementary programs from last year. Don’t forget to click on the banner below and read the reviews from other Crew Members.

Exploring Creation with General Science, 3rd Edition. {Apologia Reviews}  Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Crafty Classroom Pattern Block Pack (Review)

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Pattern blocks are one of my favorite educational toys for young children because they have so many uses and are lots of fun. That made choosing to review Pattern Block Activity Bundle by Crafty Classroom an easy choice. I knew it was a great chance to ‘sneak’ a little learning in with my five-year-old son. He loves to play games and build things but is not yet ready for a lot of work book style learning.

I loved that my son was counting, matching shapes, practicing letters and numbers, and even improving his fine motor skills and he thought he was just playing a game.  There are hundreds of different patterns included in this 731 page digital download and each one has several different levels. You can print one out in color where they just match the shapes onto the mat, a black and white version where they are finding the shapes to fit into the blocks, and blank ones that require them to decide which shapes would best fill in the space.

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Table of Contents

I mostly used the black and white ones because I felt like the colored ones were too easy for my son but he would have gotten frustrated with the blank ones. I love that as he works with them and gets better, I can switch over to the blank ones to keep him challenged.

For each pattern he would pick out the shapes he needed and put them in the right spots on the template. Then he would count how many of each shape were used and write that down at the bottom of the page. I let him write on the page but if you had multiple kids using them or wanted to reuse the same template multiple times you could put them in a page protector and use dry erase markers.

I brought these out several times a week over the last month or so and let him pick from a selection that I had printed out.  The first day he did almost all of the numbers but most days he would simply do one or two of the pages and then move on to something else. I would also get them out whenever he asked for them and he enjoyed showing other people (grandparents, etc) his new ‘game’.

This set is very versatile and would be perfect for independent play, letter and number review, or as a scheduled part of your curriculum. Once we start our regular school days in September, I am looking forward to being able to use these a couple of times a week for an independent activity that he can do while I work with my older students. She also includes a variety of pages that can be used as extension activities with the patterns, having them draw and write about the pattern, do graphing, tally marks, or addition related to the patterns, and even a dice game with to use with the pattern blocks.

pattern block pinterest

We really enjoyed this Pattern Block Activity Bundle from Crafty Classroom and look forward to continuing to use it throughout the year. In addition to this pattern block packet, Crew Members have reviewed a variety of other products and I highly encourage you to click on the Crew Review graphic below and check out their reviews.

Hands-on, Low-prep and Ready to Go Learning - Tots to 3rd Grade {Crafty Classroom Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

The Heart Changer (Review)

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In a house full of readers, it is always an exciting day when a book arrives in the mail. My eleven-year-old daughter was very pleased to find out that she had the privilege of reading and reviewing The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio, Author before anyone else in the house.

We received the paperback version of this book; it has an engaging cover that draws the reader into the book. It was a relatively short book at only 111 pages including the epilogue. My daughter read it over the course of about a week and once she was finished I sat down one evening to begin reading it and read the entire book in one sitting.

Heart Changer Pinterest

I felt that this story helped bring a part of the Bible to life through the eyes of a young girl who plays a major role in the healing of Naaman but is not named with-in the Biblical text. This is the story of the servant girl, called Miriam in the book, who tells Naaman about the prophet Elisha and how he can help cure him of his leprosy through the power of God. The Biblical story focused on the power of God and the obedience of Naaman but this book tells the story from the perspective of the servant girl. I loved how it made me look at it in a whole new light and think about how important the obedience  of this unnamed servant girl was to the way the story unfolded.

Another thing I really appreciated about this story is that at the end of the book the author explains which part of the book are Biblical and which parts she used her imagination to expand upon the story.

Reading Biblical events in this format makes it really easy to connect to the characters and get a better understanding of what happened and how it affected the people involved. I really enjoyed the opportunity to read this book and I’m so glad that my daughter was also able to read it and discuss it with me.

The author has also included a free downloadable study guide on her website that gives some great discussion questions. It also shares more information about the author and why she chose to write this book. The questions were written in such a way as to help the reader not only think about Miriam and her story, but also to delve deeper into what they learned and how it could affect their own lives.

There are also some great ideas for researching and understanding more about the setting for the story of Naaman. Understanding what it meant to have leprosy in those times and the story of why Israel was taken captive. Finally, the guide finishes with some devotional suggestions to help you take what you learned even further.

I felt like the The Heart Changer was a great book especially for young girls (8-12) and would also be a good book for a mother/daughter to read together or as a family read aloud. It had a compelling story that makes you really think further about a real event from the Bible and how the lessons learned apply to our lives today. Be sure to click on the graphic below and check out the other Crew Reviews.

 

The Heart Changer {Jarm Del Boccio, Author Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.