5 Meaningful Ways to Plan Your Spring

 

 

A meaningful spring will yield a great education Click To Tweet

Is Spring Passing You By?

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.

Spring Inspirations

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..

“How could youth better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?” ~ Henry David Thoreau Click To Tweet
Spring time!
Bring Spring Into Your Homeschool

How Spring Saved Our Homeschool

Discover how spring can bring life into your homeschool
How Spring Saved Our Homeschool

“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 . . .

You may also get more reading ideas with activities in this blog post 10 Easy S.T.E.M. Activities for Your Homeschool

Spring Series

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.

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10 Easy S.T.E.M. Activities for Your Homeschool

10 fun and thrifty STEM activities

 

 

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.

10 Easy S.T.E.M. Activities

  1.  Read.  You probably new that would be the first choice , we are Book Bound, after all .  Some suggestions for S.T.E.M. reading are:  Anna, Kid Engineer by Dr. Shenek Alston, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawmba,  my son’s favorite, The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.
  2. From The STEM Laboratory you can use the LEGO Challenge Cards and other fun stuff.
  3. 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,
  4. Playing Cards.  Not only can you have hours of fun using critical thinking and math skills you can build houses and towers with them!
  5. 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.
  6. For the future pilot in your home join the Aircraft Engineering Challenge and construct an aircraft at The Homeschool Scientist.
  7. 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.
  8. If you don’t have a marble 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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 .

S.T.E.M. science books, reading, read

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. .  .

 

Anna Kid Engineer
ANNA, KID ENGINEER a wonderful book for inspiring S.T.E.M.

 

How to Motivate Your Son to Read

A Happy Boy Reading Books

After my oldest son moved away to college he confessed to me that classic books are a far better read than some of the nonsense published today.   My oldest son also told his Grandmother that he enjoyed poetry because I used to read poetry to him and his two younger brothers.  Yes, I did pat myself on the back and couldn’t be happier.  I felt successful.  If you noticed I have three boys and each one is different.  You know how that is, children are unique, and maybe that’s why you homeschool. To customize your child’s educational experience or maybe you purchased pricey curriculum and you are determined to get your son to read the material.  But it is not a simple process to customize or follow a curriculum.  If your son is not interested in the topic you are likely to feel him digging his heels in the dirt and your hair falling out.  What are we to do?

Go to the Library

When we first started homeschooling I had the fortune to learn about  Lifestyle of Learning an approach to homeschool that resonated with me.   A suggestion from the author was to take your children to the library and let them select books that they would enjoy reading.  This has been the best idea to motivate my sons to read.  Not only did they voluntarily read but I got to know their interests better.

Read-Aloud

Many of you may already have a special time to read-aloud together.  I have heard from many homeschooled children that this was a special time and a happy memory for them.  When your children are not reading on their own, it is an opportunity for them to hear great literature inspiring them to read quality literature in the future.  This is a great opportunity to share your love for reading and another time where you will discover your child’s favorite genre.  An important key to reading aloud is to not make this a drudgery.  Most young boys are active and will gladly sit while you allow them to do a quiet activity while you are reading.  My oldest son enjoyed sitting next to me while the youngest two built with blocks and colored.

Book Club

One of the homeschool groups I was a member of had the wonderful idea of a book club.  It was a book club for boys but I don’t remember if we just all happened to have boys or what.  Keeping up with your peers is an incentive to do about anything.  The boys met at our library (45 minutes from where I lived).  I can still see the big smiles on their faces.  I forget to mention that I was responsible for the book club.  Our first meeting was fun.  Jokes were told while the boys shared about what they liked to do and laughter filled the back meeting room as they ate cookies.  The first book was Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary.  They just thought Ralph, the character, was the neatest thing.  The boys read the books and enjoyed the comradery.

Reading Incentive

When I worked for a homeschool correspondent school we started a reading incentive program.  When the student read a certain number of books, depending on the grade level,  a small prize was given.  For each book read, a link to the bookworm, a paper creature stapled to the wall, was added with the students’ name and the title of the book.  The bookworm ended up twisting and turning through the office.  We had a lot of happy kids and satisfied homeschool parents.  To do this at home you will want to have a start date and end date.  Let’s say you decide that it will last for three months.  Your son is 10 years old and says he hates to read.  You want your son to feel accomplished.  Remember, the goal is to create a love for literature.  If reading 3 books would be an achievement for him then that’s his goal.  When you share this with him and he thinks 4 would better and that’s what he wants to do than follow his lead.  You know your child best.  If you believe that he will feel defeated if he doesn’t read four books,  then make it 3 books and 4 books would be a bonus.

Read, Read and Read

Read, read and read some more.  There is nothing better than a model like yourself.   If you enjoy reading then more than likely so will your child.  It can be hard though when boys don’t have a male role model that reads with them or is seen reading.  This is true across the board for many areas in a boys life.  You can research this further in The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  In my household, I am the big reader, not my husband.  Oddly enough my sons enjoy a good book but with video games and social media, it is a challenge.

Goal Chart

Not much different than the reading incentive idea is to use a goal chart to track the books he reads.  This is a nice visual that can motivate your son to complete the chart.  What is different from the reading incentive is that you can have a goal of 6 books for the year but have 12 on your goal chart.   The idea is much like a game.  Once the goal of 6 is achieved seeing that you can go further your son may think “I can do one more.”  and so on.  Of course, he may read the 6 books and be happy with that.

Be Positive and Encouraging

No matter if your son reads online magazines, articles, graphic novels or classic literature, recognize that he is reading.  Never be judgemental about what he is reading (within reason).  Take an interest and perhaps read what he is reading.  Be positive and encouraging.  He may not want to read Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens but instead, he would rather read The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Rey.  He is reading and that is a good thing.

These approaches have been collected from seasoned homeschoolers and they work.  The hardest part is finding what will work for your son.  And I hate to tell you, what works today may not work tomorrow.  You may not be aware that all the effort you put in today will be seen years later, like me.

What are some ideas for motivating your son to read?