You are probably engrossed on finishing your lesson plans and forgetting all that nature has to teach. This came to mind when my youngest son and I decided to head to our local garden center on the hunt for plants. We had a wonderful time together and he was able to find the plants he wanted.
To my surprise he said he wanted to buy succulents. Aloe Vera to be exact. He taught me all about the healing properties of the Aloe Vera plant and why these types of plants worked well for him. As we walked around the tables of flowers and plants we learned what types we could use in our garden and what other things we might need for planting.
After such a wonderful afternoon I started thinking about other things we could do things that we would enjoy enough to create a meaningful spring. To read those fantastic ideas visit Forging Foundations where you can read my guest post along with some other wonderful spring inspirations..
“Watching the stars in the sky, planting little garden landscapes and hiking trails breathe more life into our homeschool. Every year spring saves our homeschool with it’s abundant opportunities waiting to be discovered. With the birds chirping and snow melting it is getting hard to keep the boys focused on indoor science experiments and endless reading about adventures on the seas. It is time to go outdoors!” Continue reading . . .
In my guest post at my friends blog, Forging Foundations, discover how the magic of stories brings these natural activities to life with the season saving spring. You also don’t want to miss out on this years Spring Series at Forging Foundations where you will get some great ideas and suggestions for your homeshool family.
Have you heard of S.T.E.M.? I hadn’t heard of the term until my husband and I coached a F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League team in Alaska. I wasn’t completely sure what it meant, you know, I know what the acronym stood for but didn’t understand why exactly science, technology, engineering, and mathematics needed to be “special“. I had always thought of these areas of study as a natural connection. While we were coaching our homeschool F.I.R.S.T. LEGO League team I soon realized that while the boys saw the connection they still were not putting the subjects together. While that has been said, it is fair to mention that our team did win First Place for Engineering. Other then joining a LEGO Team, I do suggest forming one, I have listed 10 easy S.T.E.M. activities for your homeschool that you can do with materials around house and with little expense.
Straws! I give these to little boys at the restaurant I work at when it looks like their parents are getting tired of entertaining them. I cut them up into a variety of lengths and challenge them to build something and show it to me after they eat. If you want to get serious you can visit Play Dough to Plato about building straw bridges,
Playing Cards. Not only can you have hours of fun using critical thinking and math skills you can build houses and towers with them!
Did I say VIDEO GAMES? Yup, Enter the National STEM Video Challenge using SCRATCH, Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, where you can design “interactive stories, games, and animations” for free.
Years ago, when my middle son was around 8 years old, we gave him a box that was filled with Duc Tape, foam board, craft sticks, paper clips and anything we could find that we thought he could be creative with. You probably have made one before but now there is a cool name for it: S.T.E.M. Inventors Box. Our little friend Anna from Anna, The Kid Engineer has an inventors box too.
If you don’t have amarble run you can make one from paper towel tubes! It looks like a lot of fun to put together. Hmm, I think you could construct a straw bridge to this project.
This wouldn’t be the easiest activity but it would certainly be a challenge. What are your thoughts on toothpicks? We already built bridges and houses with straws how about a pyramid with toothpicks?
Here is my favorite! It’s my idea however the idea was not as unique as I thought. I did find several resources for this science project and this Build the Three Little Pigs houses I found to be better used in a homeschool setting. The idea came from this Build A Tiny House .
These 10 simple activities will make bringing S.T.E.M., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, easy to bring into your homeschool. What other ideas do you have? There must be more. . .
Since the late 1980’s there has been a rise in the popularity of the graphic novel book. Not to be confused with the comic book. As much as I have enjoyed reading graphic novels myself when I was younger, much younger, the content has not typically been what I would have my son read. The purchasing of such a book has been avoided. Then my son received a graphic novel book as a gift. My mind has been changed after I read the book Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hick, published by Square Fish in October 2015. This 225 page book is intended for 12 to 16-year-old kids who want a fun easy read.
Maggie, the Homeschooler
It was surprising to me that I would have enjoyed a book as much as I did Friends with Boys. Young Maggie, the main character is relatable as a teenage girl. Her fears of the first day of high school are creditable because the author connects the idea of being the new kid and a freshman with the building maps showing were the classrooms are located, the cafeteria and the locker bay where kids sleep. Okay, so an area where kids sleep? That is an idea that should be shared with your local school board. There’s no one to talk to, have lunch with, she is alone. Until she meets a girl named Lucy and her brother Alistair. Lucy and Alistair have their own story and what they look like is shown in the graphics which really conveys their personalities. I liked being able to see the characters which is different for me because I prefer words to pictures. I found it interesting how the artist was able to show the personalities. And wait until you meet Maggies’ three brothers. You have the twins, Llyod, Zander and the oldest brother, Daniel. These brothers really care about their sister, Maggie.
Lucy and Alistair
Then we have Lucy and Alistair. These two have not been homeschooled. Their experience in high school seems realistic. I seem to recall seeing my friends go through what this sister and brother go through. Another reason to love this book! If you are a homeschooled kid you get a peek at public school. As the reader you see that Alistair does what’s right and stands by his little sister. As a parent this is something we want in a story. A story that shows the character doing what is right which is often not the popular thing to do. Faith Erin Hicks gives Alistair a fault that many people have but she shows the reader that even if you do the wrong thing at first doesn’t mean you can’t make the right choice in the end. Who can’t relate to doing that, right.
The Oldest Brother
While I like all the character’s in this book you might be surprised who my favorite character is. It’s not Maggie, although she is wonderful. It is the oldest brother, Daniel. I have seen him somewhere before, haha. I wonder if there weren’t an illustration how would he be described and would it fit my vision of him. I can say that his appearance fits his personality. He is funny, caring, easy-going, and it is obvious that he cares about his sister. It is great that he is involved in theatre. In my home school experience many of our kids get involved in theatre. I don’t know why that is a “thing”. I guess there is a lot of talent out there. But I digress.
The story is set in today’s time period in what appears to be a small town. Maggie, who used to be homeschooled, is off to public school and entering her freshman year. Yikes! As she has to tackle all these first year new kid issues she also has a ghost following her around. This character, the ghost, has remained a mystery to me. I kept reading portions of the book where the ghost is featured but while I kind of know who she is, I just don’t feel like her story, the mystery, was resolved. The ghost is important in bringing Maggie and Lucy’s families together. She is an important character I just don’t have any solid foundation about her. Solving the mystery as to why this ghost is following Maggie around is the BIG problem. It is the mystery that brings both families together.
I loved the message that this book has for siblings and families. First off, we meet Maggie and her dad who is the new police chief of the town. He is portrayed as an easy-going man. His wife left him after all the kids were ready to attend high school. I did not like that at all because I thought the author was going to put home school families in a negative light. I am glad I was wrong about that. Her brothers are funny and act as I would expect them too. The entire family is encouraging and let’s Maggie know that they are there for her. Loved that!
A Book Worth Reading
Friends with Boys surpassed my expectations! Shoot, how many times did I say “loved” in this review. Wonderful example of morals and values. Of how we can make mistakes but we can redeem ourselves too. A big THANK YOU to Faith Erin Hicks for creating Friends with Boys. I am ready to read her next book.
There are many advantages to lesson planning and keeping your sanity is one of them. When I finally came to my senses it was back in the middle ages (late 1990’s) of easy to use online lesson planning printables. There were some that I truly liked such as the free planners at DonnaYoung.org. She also created an Excel spreadsheet that was simple to use. The only downfall to online printables and spreadsheets is having to write everything into the planner or a lot of copy and paste. However, It was still more efficient than the other options.
I don’t recall where the idea of using Google Calendar came about but I thought it was a brilliant idea. It was one of those “Why didn’t I think of that.” moments. At the time I was already using a pre-planned curriculum and while our homeschool would have run much smoother if a lesson planner had been used I didn’t try it until this year. Sometimes I wonder why I waited. I can color code, repeat days without using “copy and paste”, share and easily add unexpected activities and lessons. It will make your homeschool life easier. You can watch the short video or read how I plan my lessons with Google Calendar below.
3. On the left side, you will see ADD A FRIENDS CALENDAR. Click on the plus sign and click the drop-down and go to New Calendar.
4. You are on the Settings page where you will create your new calendar. This is where you add a name and description for your calendar. I have named mine Homeschool and in the description, I like to have the school year and maybe the students’ name. If the state you live in requires more information you may want to add it to the description or add a link to a Google Doc that has the necessary details that your state law requires. Save your new calendar by clicking Create Calendar.
You can share the calendar with your students! To do that click on the calendar you just created that is visible on the sidebar. Click on the arrow and a menu appears. There are several options but for now, you are going to Share with Specific People. Click and on the right, you are taken to the section to Add People. Follow the prompts and remember to SEND.
5. Let’s add your main lesson/topic/unit study to the calendar. For this, I prefer to be inMONTH view which you can find at the top right between the search icon and the gear. Select the date you are going to start and click in that box. You can also click on the RED circle located in the right corner. A pop-up will appear. Go straight to MORE OPTIONS. That will take you to the page where you will be able to add all the details.
6. For this example, the main lesson is named LITERATURE/LANGUAGE ARTS. Because this study will last 4-6 weeks the date range will reflect that. Select ALL DAY. Make sure you have your HOMESCHOOL calendar selected not your personal calendar. You can see that in the sidebar on your right. Then SAVE.
What you are seeing here is how the calendar looks with the main lesson/unit study/theme/ for the weeks that it is being studied. Time to add the assignments for your study.
Creating the Assignments
7. To create the assignments in your lesson plan have the calendar in WEEK view. To switch to WEEK view go to the drop-down menu at the top right between the search icon and the gear. Choose the date and the time you will start the assignment. Click on that location and the details box will pop up again. You are going to select MORE OPTIONS.
8. This is where you enter the name of your lesson. To make it easy to read for our homeschool portfolio I name the event; Lesson Plan and then the topic. It looks like thisLesson Plan: A Wrinkle in Time.
9. In this example, we are going to have the class show daily, Monday through Friday, on the Lesson Plan Calendar and just for 1 week. Select the date of the week and the time the class will start and what time the class will end i.e. 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm. The dates should be the same. Below the date and time selection, you have the option to click off ALL DAY or choose what days the class is going to be on. click on the down arrow and click on EVERY WEEKDAY.
10. After the dates and times are filled out then you can add the assignments for the week in the description. You can read how I detail this in my blog post about lesson planning here.
This is how it will look after you have added the class to your Lesson Plan.
Color code each class for easy reading or color code each student.
After you set up your lesson plan in Google Calendar you will see how simple this is. Watch the video at the beginning of the post then read through the guide. Share how you use Google Calendar for lesson planning for your homeschool below. I’m sure there are some creative approaches out there!