Friday, April 11, 2014

Floating Letters-a candy experiment

Looking for a fun, cool science experiment you can do for Easter? Then look no further! So, what is it and what science tools will you need? It is called, Floating Letters. This experiment is super easy to do. All you need is 5 minutes and some candy: M&M’s, Skittles, and/or Jelly Belly beans will work. You will also need a bowl of warm water. Once you have your ingredients, you will have your child drop the candy into the bowl of water, logo side up. You do NOT stir the water. Within a few minutes you will be able to see the floating letters. So, what is happening? The letters that you see printed on the candy is made of edible ink, which does not dissolve in water. As the candy shell dissolves in the warm water, the letters just peel off and float. Of course, it is always fun to ask your child why they think the letters came off first, before you spill the beans ;)

"6 Candy Science Fair Projects for Kids." Parenting. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.
MCMEEL, ANDREWS. Floating Letter. Digital image. Parenting. ANDREWS MCMEEL PUBLISHING, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't be afraid to mix it up

Don’t be afraid to mix it up

While a boxed or complete curriculum might be easiest for the parent, it is possible that it just doesn’t fit your child’s learning style. Homeschooling is all about flexibility and that means that sometimes you just can’t force your round student into a square curriculum.

It is perfectly acceptable to pick and choose each subject and the manner in which that subject will be taught. Maybe your child is dyslexic and so a traditional language arts/reading program just won’t work, but the math from the same curriculum provider is a great fit for your student. You might have to have a more specialized language arts from another provider.

Those homeschoolers who choose their curriculum from many different sources are known as eclectic homeschoolers. Being an eclectic homeschooler means that you can individualize your child’s education and make each subject into just what your child needs to succeed.

Consider this, my daughter’s core curriculum is an interactive online curriculum, her foreign language is from a popular provider of foreign language instruction that comes in a yellow box. Her science is currently from a provider of traditional science curriculum for middle schools, and her physical education is at a dojo and a stable. We use each of these sources of instruction because it is what works for my daughter today. If tomorrow she needs something else, I will feel free to change to what she needs. Ah, the beauty of eclectic home schooling!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Choosing a homeschool curriculum

Choosing a home school curriculum

So you’ve decided to home school. The next thing you need to decide is what curriculum to use. For most new homeschoolers it is difficult to imagine the amount of work needed to make a complete course of study for each subject their child needs to study.

It can be overwhelming and I am not downplaying the stress it can cause. I was at the place some of you are now. Midway through a school year I pulled my daughter out of public school because it was just not working. I cried for weeks about becoming a homeschooler and didn’t know where to start.

If you are in that same situation then I have two pieces of advice for you. First, find out your child’s learning style. It is hard to believe but you might not know what your sixth graders learning style is if they have been educated away from you since they started school. Choosing a curriculum that will assist you in planning lessons and keeping records.

There are a number of online curricula to choose from, and there are also box curricula that provide you with traditional school type materials such as text books. Just match your child’s learning style.

The other piece of advice I can give you is that you should look for a support group in your area. They can be invaluable when it comes to sharing their experiences, and having people to go on field trips with. I would not have survived the first year of home schooling without more experienced parents telling me and showing me that home schooling was possible.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Safety and the sixth grader

Last time I mentioned letting your child surf the web. This time I need to mention something that seems obvious, but could be overlooked. It is important to monitor your sixth grader’s use of the internet. Remind them to use safe practices, such as not sharing personal information. Just because we have taught them about this in the past doesn’t mean that they don’t need reminding.

There are other places besides the internet where we need to remind our children to be safe. Sixth graders are growing more independent, and at the same time the world is becoming a more dangerous place.

Review with them the rules of the house, what they are allowed to do, what they are not allowed to do. I’ll give you an example of this. My sixth grader is perfectly capable of heating something in the microwave, or even putting something in the oven, like chicken nuggets. However, I had never told her that the rules had changed since she was little. The rule then was that she was not to touch the stove, or the microwave.

She came to me a while back and asked if I could reheat her tea. I told her to put it in the microwave for one minute. Her look said that was clearly surprising. “You mean, I have permission to use the microwave?” It seemed obvious to me that she would know that the rules had changed, but to her, it apparently was not. As they get older, the rules will change, and they need to know what the new rules are so that they can play the game!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Exploring Individuality

When we began home schooling I knew that straight academics was never going to be enough for my child. She is very curious and inquisitive. She has many interests and loves to follow tangents. I remember when I was young, reading encyclopedias and following the trail of “see also”, where at the end of each encyclopedia entry they showed other words or topics to look up. These topics were usually related, but could lead you a long way from the original thing you looked up.

I know that is an old fashioned example, but my daughter does a modern version of that same exercise. She surfs the web. She jumps from blog to blog, and subject to subject, searching for things that interest her, and in the process she learns a great deal about things that have nothing to do with school.

A great example of this is…her horse riding instructor told her that her assignment was to go and find different videos of people posting a trot. The videos my daughter found provided her with information about posting to the diagonal. Now this is a fairly specialized idea that she might not normally have even known enough to look up. When she went back to the stable, and the instructor started talking about diagonals, my daughter already had the information in her head. All she had to do was put it into physical practice.

Your child might have different interests, but any information he finds can help him become more knowledgeable about his hobbies, or goals. Who knows where that knowledge could lead. Our children have more access to more information than ever before. Letting them access that wealth of knowledge, at the very least, will make them well-rounded. It might make them brilliant!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


There are many choices faced by students today. There is more reading material today than ever before. And learning how to read the different types of material available is important to. It is not enough to just know how to read. I know, you thought that once you had a reader you were in the clear, but not so!

Knowing the characteristics of different types of reading materials not only makes it easier for your child to read, but also makes them better able to write different types of material. Let me give you an example. You don’t read poetry in the same way you might read a graphic novel. In the graphic novel you don’t have to be concerned about meter, or rhythm or rhyme. However, you will need to know that graphic novels are generally read from top to bottom, and left to right. If you don’t follow those “rules” it becomes hard to follow the story or know who spoke first in a frame.

Oddly enough, the whole point of this is that reading, any form, and any style of reading is good for your child. It doesn’t have to be a text book, or an autobiography for your child to gain knowledge or to read of an experience that she might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Comparative religion, what are all those holidays about anyway?

You do not have to be home schooling for religious purposes to recognize the fact that the time between Halloween and New Year is full of holidays spanning a large number of religions. Some parents will totally ignore those holidays that do not coincide with their own beliefs. Other parents don’t just ignore the other holidays, but will even attempt to discredit those holidays.

There are a number of families that will use this holiday season to present to their children the richness of diversity that exists in our world. Remember that it is not necessary to believe in the religion for which the holidays are important. Teaching our children that there are other beliefs, and comparing those beliefs to your own family beliefs, helps our children make their own decisions about what they believe.

You might even be able to use the holidays to launch a couple of lessons in history related to the time and place where the holidays originated. Maybe add these history lessons to your timeline, or reconnect to family traditions that might have been lost to time. If nothing else, you might even discover new traditions that you might want to include in your own family.