Monthly Activities for 2014

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Abby and I found a list with monthly activities for every month of the year. We have decided this will be a fun thing to do. One of the activities is a year-long “Season’s Tree”. Every month you add something to the tree. So I’ll be adding that as well.

I’ll post each month’s activities near the end of the previous month. I’ll also post pictures of our “Season’s Tree” as we go. I hope you enjoy.

Make hot Cocoa and read a good book

Play Basketball

Make Super Bowl predictions and then Watch the Super Bowl

Learn to Ice skate

Cook and eat Black-eyed peas and cabbage

Make paper snowflakes.

Make popcorn snowmen

Make a q-tip painting of a snowman

Make Snowman bookmarks out of paper or foam.

Make snow ice cream

Read the poem: “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

Jan. 8th was Elvis Presley’s birthday – watch an Elvis Presley movie. Some suggestions that you can find on Netflix are: Viva Las Vegas, Speedway, Spinout, Kid Galahad, Clambake, Easy Come, Easy Go, Fun in Acapulco, and Roustabout.

January is National Soup Month – Make homemade soup.

The week of January 18 – 24 is National Pizza Week – Make homemade pizza

“Season’s Tree” – Mini snowflakes


Our Homeschool Weekly Wrap-up

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This week has been a slow week for us because of illness, but I wanted to get back in the habit of doing a wrap-up.  So here I go:

Grammar – We finished PACE 1066 and she has started 1067.  We are working on adjectives and adverbs again.  This time around it seems to be easier.

Reading – In reading Abby is reading “The Spy”.  It is a little harder book, so I’m allowing her to listen to an audio version, which she of course loves.  She does have to read a chapter review and answer comprehension questions.

Writing – This week Abby is working on a descriptive essay.  She had to pick something to describe and is now going through the essay paragraph by paragraph.

Spelling – Our spelling list this week is contractions, academic words, and two sight words.

Math – We have been working on pre-algebra, fractions and decimals.  Today we did stem and leaf plots and Box and Whisker.  This was a little tedious, but it is necessary.

History – This week we started studying Ancient Rome.  We are studying architecture, battles, religion and much more.

Science – We have finishing up our study of “flying things” in the next two weeks.  This week we have been studying for chapter 10 test.

Well that’s it!!

Our Homeschool so far.

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We started school this year early, because of the trips we will be taking.  Our start date was July 15th, so we are on week 10 this week.  I’d like to review what we have accomplished thus far.

In Grammar, we have been working on verbs and their tenses.  Present, Past, Future and the participle tenses.  It has been slow, but she is getting it!

In Reading she has read some great poetry, an epic poem, and has just completed the book Penrod and Sam.  She has also just completed a book review for that book.

In writing she has written an essay on “Micro Bats”, and has submitted it online for peer review. This was a neat experience.  She submitted hers and reviewed another person’s essay.  It has really helped her to be more careful in her writing.

For Math was are using Saxon 87 and she has completed lesson 25.  We are also working on Multiplication and Division review.

In History she has been studying ancient cultures.  We have done Greece, China and the Mayans.  We are now starting to read about ancient India.  For the Mayan’s, she did a Power Point presentation and presented it to our family.  For each culture she has done a timeline including economic, social, art, music and religion.  She also takes all kinds of notes of what she has read.

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We will use these timelines to then put them together to see how these cultures overlapped.  During the section on ancient China, she made a scroll with Chinese lettering of the Buddha’s five virtues.


In Science we have learned about birds, bats and flying reptiles.  We have completed a lapbook component, taken notes and done a crossword puzzle for each chapter.

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Some of the activities we have done have been recording what birds come to our bird feeders, we have taken some great pictures of hummingbirds, we have gone outside and measured the wingspan of several types of Pterosaurs and we have made a fossil egg.  We are about to start a chapter on insects.


As part of our school, we attend a co-op every Friday.  Our day at co-op includes an assembly, choir practice and then three classes that change every month.  This month we have art, book club and PE.  This past Friday we had an unexpected visitor who brought along a Sugar Glider.  She was so cute!  All the children were able to pet her and watch her climb on everything.

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Abby is also learning Hindi in anticipation of her visit to India.  She is working on Hindi greetings and other phrases she might need in India.  We found a good site for conversational Hindi, Hindipod101.

I’ll try and keep a journal here of our activities as well as pictures.

Webcast – Using your local Library

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Today I would like to discuss how we can use our local library.  I know that many of you use your library on a regular basis.  Are you using it at it’s full capacity?  Are there programs that you could be involved in that you didn’t even know about?  Are there programs that you could help start or be involved in?

Here at our library, one of the ladies has started programs specifically for the homeschoolers in the area.  This first program has been almost an overview of the library and how to use the different sections and the Dewey Decimal system.  She is planning on doing some other programs as well.  I wonder if you there are many other communities that would benefit from a program like that?

This library is also doing a summer camp.  It is for ages 4 and 5 & 6 – 11 and will take place in July for one week.  I’m not exactly sure what they will be doing, but I know they will have crafts and games.  They also have a summer reading program like most libraries.

Some other programs here at our library are a monthly game night and a weekly storytime.  It is for families and is a way to get families together and children off the computers and game boys for a little while.  There is also going to be a Literacy Workshop for children that don’t like to read.  They will be using the book, “Dussie” and will be tying it into a science project fair.  The Tweens and Teens group will have the opportunity to participate in a Science Fair and could win a Kindle Fire or a Nook.   They will also be having a Lock-in for the teens and tweens where they will be doing activities related to the book “The Hunger Games”.

I went to my library to find out if there were programs that I wasn’t aware of and got most of the information I just gave you.  But I also found out that they do beginner computer classes.  I went and talked to the lady in charge of the classes and discussed having computer classes for the home school children.  She was very receptive and wanted to start working on it right away. I think we could have many more programs if we would just take the time to suggest them and help out with them.

Using your library can be very easy.  Finding books that go along with whatever you are studying and also finding videos to enhance your learning are the most common things homeschoolers do at the library.  But did you know your library has classes, one seminars and much more available to you?

During the summer many libraries have programs for children to come and participate in.  Our library has this program.  There will be people reading books aloud, some arts and crafts, and a magician.  You might check with your library and see if they have something like this going on this summer.  If not, ask about getting it started.  Remember you might be just the person to get some great things going at your library.

If your library doesn’t offer some of these programs, you might go and suggest them.  Also I believe all children need to understand the Dewey Decimal system, so I have put together a “Tic Tac Toe” board (well a friend of mine came up with it) to help children understand the system.  The summer is a wonderful time to do this little reading project.  Your child will read different books from the sections of the Dewey Decimal system.  They will also read Biographies and Fiction titles as well.  When they have completed their board, they should be rewarded with a prize of some sort.  If you have a home schooling group, you might want to do this with other homeschoolers.  Our board looks like this.  If you are interested in this board just email me and I’ll send it to you.  My email is

I hope this webcast has been of some help to you.  If you have any questions or comments please let me know.  Also I would love some suggestions on topics for future webcasts.

Thanks and I’ll see you next week.


Literature Curriculum Webcast

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Today we discussed different Literature curriculum.  I explained that I had a hard time finding Literature curriculum as stand only curriculum.  Most that I found were part of a full curriculum program.  I did find a couple of sites that had some interesting programs.

The Simple Homeschool – – This website has reading lists available to help you find books on your child’s reading level.

Weaving The Internet Through Your Elementary Literacy Curriculum  –

Blackbird & Company – – This website has book study guides that are grouped by grade levels.

Common Sense Press – – This program is called “Learning Language Arts through Literature.”

Winter Promise – – This curriculum is not Literature only.  It incorporates Science and History.


Curriculum choices for homeschool literature, unfortunately, are few and far between, but don’t let that deter you.

Figuring out a way to implement a home-made curriculum is so easy, just do the following steps:

  • Sift through reading lists to find age appropriate material. (The easiest way I’ve found to do this is put into search “Reading level of …”.  Go to the Scholastic site and it will give it to you.)
  • Find a good literature unit to go with your picks to save time with vocabulary and comprehension questions (Choose books you’ve read and loved to make things even easier)
  • Make a schedule of how long you would like this literature unit to last (look at the chapters and decide how many per week is realistic for your reader to get through)
  • We create a Reading Journal for each book.  This is a place that she can write her vocabulary, answer chapter questions, and write journal answers as well.
  • Assign vocabulary prior to reading
  • Assign reading
  • Assign comprehension questions
  • Have them do a book report or poster presentation of the book

To show you what I mean, I have included some of the websites I am using for our Charlotte’s Web study.

For Charlotte’s Web:’s%20web%20guide&source=web&cd=7&ved=0CGQQFjAG&

After browsing through these different sites, I found vocabulary, questions for different chapters, quizzes, and many activities. I would then organized what I wanted to use.  Abby and I would look at the book and make a plan for her readings, she would make her reading journal and I would write her assignments down in her plan book.  Her assignments include readings, vocabulary, questions after reading, and activities.  To culminate the book I will assign either a book report, a poster presentation or some other book report style.  Some other examples for book reports are “make a book cover”, “Beginning, Middle and End foldable”, “Make a poster to Promote the book”, and many more.

I hope this helps.

The many other curriculum and websites presented were:

4 in a row –

Lightening Literature –

If you would like to view the webcast click here.

This next week we will be looking at how you can use the internet in your homeschool. My webcast will be on Thursday,April 12th, this next week.

The schedule for the next month is:

April 12th – Using the Internet in your Homeschool

April 17th – Handwriting Curriculum and Tools

April 24th – Organizing Your Homeschool – Tools and Suggestions

May 1st – Creative Writing – The Writing Notebook and Process

I hope to see you there.


Reading Strategies Script

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Good Afternoon!  Today we are going to discuss Reading Strategies.  Reading strategies are defined as strategies to help a child improve reading comprehension and fluency.

I’d like to first address fluency.  Fluency is just “how” a child reads.  How smooth and how fast.  I’ve never been one to feel as if a child needs to read super fast, but the faster and smoother a child reads the better his/her comprehension will be.  The best way to improve a child’s fluency is:

1) Read to your child modeling fluent reading.  This needs to be done for older children as well, as high as sixth grade.  We have found the best time for this is at night.  My daughter, evetho she is 11, still loves to be read to.

2) Have the child read aloud.  Pick a book and have your child read aloud to you.  At night or first thing in the morning is a good time for this.  Don’t correct your child too much, allow them to self correct.  If they are stuck, help them, but give them a couple of seconds to figure it out on their own.

In my humble opinion these two activities will do the must good in helping with fluency.

Now comprehension is another thing.  I have found that questions are good to test overall comprehension, but to keep a child interested and thinking about what they are reading they need more.  Years ago I found a wonderful book, but I haven’t been able to find to in print now.  I’ve also put together many activities of my own.

Any type of lapbook components are good to use. Let me show you one that is really simple to make.  I’m using 4 sheets of construction paper.  I’ve cut them down the middle longwise.  Then I layered the sheets about an inch and folded them down.  This gives you a layered book that you can use for vocabulary words, questions, and many other things.

Another very simple thing you can do is a hand with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why”, and “how” written on the fingers and palm.  This is how one looks.  Something like this can be done in minutes and can have your child thinking about the story or scene they are reading with very little effort.

Keeping a reading journal is another way to have your child do something related to their book everyday.  I made this sheet the first year I taught 5th grade.  For each book they read they would make a booklet with at least 10 pages in it.  Then each day they read and do the activity.  Let me read you a couple of the activities.  Day 1 – Illustrate the cover of you reading journal.  Look at your book’s cover for ideas.  Day 4 – Write a summary of the events that have happened so far.  Day 11 – sketch a poster that advertises your book.  Below the book write two sentences that describe the book.  Day 15 – Write a paragraph explaining why you think your book should be made into a movie.  Who would you want to be the star?

A couple of years ago someone showed me how to make a booklet out of a paper bag.  I thought they were so cute.  It also allows your child to use their creative skills.  You can use this book as a mini-book to tell about their book.  They can also be used as a book report, using setting, characters, conflict, resolution and ending.

I have many more of these types of strategies.  Make a web, a picture mural, character map, picture walk, word cards for vocabulary, cause & effect, a banner, a flag, letter to the author, writing an article, advertise-a-book poster, story chart, and a story map.  These are different types of things I have used in the past to keep the children attentive to their reading.  If they know they will do an activity after they read, they will pay attention to their book better.

If you have a reluctant reader or a child that is having trouble with fluency or comprehension, there is a website that has printable books on all levels.  I only have one to show you, but this is an easy way to have shorter books for a child having trouble.  There is a cost for this service, but I have really enjoyed it.  The website is .  This book is level H which is about second grade reading level.  They also have lesson plans for each book with activities and quizzes.

Another good tool to teach both fluency and comprehension is reading “real world” reading.  Newspapers, magazines, newsletters are some “real world” reading you can use. I have had my children do a current events type activity once a week.  This has them looking at things in a more personal way.



“Comprehension Today” by Diane Henderson and Jenepher Snell

“Real-World Reading Comprehension” by Carson-Dellosa Publishing Co.

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