The Picaresque of Ímagine Purple books (that’s the author in the top photo) are entertaining, they’re educational, and they have a Christian focus.
Entertaining: The books encourage young people ages 10+ to follow the stepping stones to their own path: Have Fun. Get Smarter. Although reading books is naturally slower than playing electronic games or watching action films, it does allow the reader time to use his imagination to create new worlds and solve dilemmas. As a teacher and amateur sleuth, Ímagine knows flash answers rarely come by accident. So, she looks for details other people have missed, pulverizes them into facts, and determines which are true clues. After mulling over these, she looks to see if they form a logical solution to a dilemma.
Educational: Along with mystery and adventure, The Picaresque offers a subtle forum with its informative Appendices in the back of the book. There, the reader can find character biographies, clichés/idioms, lookup suggestions, a punctuation guide, and vocabulary words. Almost a fictional travelogue, the books might be viewed as a vehicle for teaching history, language arts, and geography. Yet, the adventures of the main character are not dry and dusty. Ima has harrowing experiences and stumbles onto unexpected mysteries while walking through the late 1960s’ history. Sometimes, she has to delve into other centuries to get her answers.
Your child can travel through the 16 books in the series…. from Newfoundland to New Delhi. With each book, the content graduates from simple to more complicated plots and the vocabulary grows from 5th grade level to PSAT listed words. To solve the mystery in each Imasode your child’s critical thinking skills will increase, stretch, and perhaps surprise you.
You can find a summary of the books here.
5 Tips for Less Stressful Holidays
This is a guest blog post from the Texas Homeschool Coalition Association
Those unwelcome holiday visitors: stress, exhaustion, disorganization.
With the shopping, gift-wrapping, decorating, extra cooking, family obligations and special holiday events it’s hard to keep a healthy balance. Then when our children get overstimulated it adds to the holiday stress. With plenty of excitement, access to sugary foods, and regular schedules going out the window, less than desirable behaviors may surface. Add in homeschooling for one or more kids and you wonder where the “joyful season” went!
Why not give yourself some early Christmas gifts this season:
1) Plan to simplify and limit gift-giving
2) Take care of yourself; Get enough sleep!
3) Curb excessive eating or drinking
4) Say “no” to invitations when you feel overextended and try to maintain regular schedules
5) Use behavior and chore charts. They can lessen your burden and help kids stay on track. Want to know how?
Incentive Charts Ease Holiday Stress
There is no escaping the fact that you will have extra holiday obligations on top of regular family chores. Well, don’t forget to put the kids to work! Have a conversation with your children and explain why you need extra help at this special time of the year.
Most of us have memories of daily chore lists and you may already be using them, but specially designed chore charts can put a fresh face on the effort. Latitudes.org has suggestions for age-appropriate chores to consider. Use colorful holiday stickers to mark progress or let your child decorate the sheets. Just pick one or more free chore charts, download, print and go!
You can adapt tasks to focus on the holidays, like helping with decorating, making name tags for packages, or gift-wrapping (be sure to set any perfectionism aside!). These holiday tasks will be fun to mix in with the regular chores.
Be sure most of the chore items are easily completed so children get a sense of satisfaction without too much effort. Children enjoy a pat on the back for tasks that they are routinely doing as much as you do! Then add in one or two special extra chores that will make your life easier.
Rewards or incentives should not be expensive, in fact, they don’t have to cost anything. The goal is to make it motivating to the youngster.
Charts can make a difference for behavior, too
Sometimes an incentive chart is just what is needed to keep things running smoothly at home. You can easily adapt one to fit your needs. Whether you want to focus on sticking to routines, eating healthy foods, listening to advice, taking vitamins, or being gentle with the new baby, you can finetune the chart to fit your needs.
You can read more THSC blog posts at http://www.thsc.org. And if you happen to live in Texas, you might want to join their organization.
High School Success for Your Child
University of Nebraska High School: Resource for Homeschool Families
As a homeschool family, you are presented with many decisions as you provide your child with quality educational experiences. While homeschool families may have unique reasons for pursuing this educational path, one thing homeschool families have in common is the desire to prepare their child for success.
Success can be defined in a variety of ways. A student may be preparing to attend a 4-year university, the student might be working toward a career in athletics, or perhaps success creates a broader view of the world. Success also motivates the teachers and staff at the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS). The school, founded in 1929, has a rich history of guiding students across the United States and the world on their journey to success.
UNHS faculty and staff serve students with a college prep curriculum and understand that each student has his or her own unique journey and goals. University of Nebraska High School Principal, Hugh McDermott, tells students, “Look for the day-to-day real world connections you can make with your academic studies. Learning is a two-way street: teachers provide direction, support and help along the way and students explore the connections and relevance to their lives.”
UNHS gives home school families several advantages:
- Structured, yet highly flexible curriculum
- Courses written by subject-matter experts and designed specifically for the independent learner
- Full advising services
- Official transcripts, accepted at colleges and universities across the U.S.
- Math and world language placement tests
- A comprehensive, accredited diploma
- On-campus graduation ceremony
Through UNHS, students can take single courses as needed to supplement their at-home curriculum or earn an accredited diploma. The college preparatory curriculum helps students meet college entrance requirements, and it teaches them the skills they need to be successful during college. UNHS offers a full high school curriculum of core, elective, AP and dual enrollment courses.
A homeschool parent of three shared her experience with UNHS: “I’m very grateful for the UNHS program. To have my children at home has been a gift to my heart that I couldn’t begin to describe. UNHS has also given them the challenge and acquired discipline to succeed in college, and this will carry into the foundation for their adult lives.”
University of Nebraska High School is accredited by AdvancED and the Nebraska Department of Education. Additionally, UNHS core courses are approved by the NCAA. NCAA approval is another assurance that courses have been thoroughly reviewed and found to be “college prep”.
UNHS recognizes that a flexible schedule is important with many homeschool students. Open enrollment means your child can enroll any time of the year. With self-paced online courses, your child may access the work any time of day, any day of the week. Courses are designed to be completed in approximately 90 study hours. Students are allowed to complete courses as fast as 5 weeks to as long as 52 weeks. This means students can spend as much time as needed on concepts, projects and reading. Also, a flexible schedule benefits families who may have activities, travel or other busy schedules that would conflict with other specific time-based curriculums.
We hope the University of Nebraska High School will be a great educational resource for you and your children. We’d love to hear from you! To request more information and answer any questions about UNHS click here and/or contact Amy Moline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Important Reasons to Make Music with Your Family This Holiday Season
By Susan Darrow, CEO of Music Together LLC
This time of year, music often plays a bigger role in many people’s lives than it does during the rest of the year. School concerts, religious choir performances, seasonal community events, holiday hits playing on the radio — all offer abundant opportunities to take advantage of the physical and emotional benefits of music.
The magic of music shines exceptionally bright during the holiday season. It is important to encourage people to use this wealth of musical opportunities as a springboard for making music throughout the entire year.
Music can help families on many levels. It promotes development in babies and young children, bonds families across generations, and stimulates areas of the brain involved with motivation, reward, and emotion. Making or listening to music can actually result in increased levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the brain’s reward system.
Here are five reasons you should be making music with your family this holiday season:
- Music-making is beneficial to development. Music stimulates social, physical, cognitive, and emotional development and promotes language and concentration skills, confidence, and self-esteem. During the early years, active engagement with music promotes brain development and naturally supports growth essential to life and learning, as well as increasing the bond between children and their caregivers. It’s easy to get started making music with children during the holidays: Sing your favorite carols in the car, dance to holiday songs, take children to a holiday concert or musical. A 2014 Harris Poll commissioned by Music Together revealed that only a low 17 percent of parents sing to their child daily. Music development is similar to language development. Imagine if you only talked to your child once a day! We teach children language by continuously talking and reading to them. Similarly, the best thing parents can do to support musical growth is to sing and dance with their children, as often as possible. And what better time of year to bring more music into your child’s life than the holidays, when music is in abundance?
- Music helps us create and recall powerful memories. Music can spark the recall of past experiences. It helps the past “come alive,” giving us access to deep feelings as we remember an event or moment from the past. Singing while you decorate the tree, at a holiday party, or at a religious celebration can help form memories and bonds with extended family and friends that will be recalled for many years to come.
- Music relieves stress. The holidays, while joyful, can also be stressful. Singing can actually relieve stress. Studies show that singing has the ability to slow our pulse and heart rate, lower our blood pressure, and decrease the levels of stress hormone in our bodies. Play music in the car while navigating the mall parking lot or sing along to a holiday recording while getting ready for company. It will help you stay calm and, most importantly, model for your children a healthy way to deal with the stress of everyday life.
- Music connects us. The holidays can be lonely for some people. Singing, especially in groups, can relieve this loneliness by connecting us to others in ways that no other activity can. Recent research indicates that music-making as a shared experience can activate and synchronize similar neural connections in all those participating. This synchronization can result in feelings of empathy and shared intention that can promote positive social interaction and bonding. When you sing with others this holiday season, whether it’s during a religious service, at a community event, or at a family gathering, everyone benefits.
- Singing is intergenerational. Music is an ageless way to connect with older relatives and create ties between youngest and oldest family members. Plus, music supports the aging processes. In later years, participating in music activities helps keep the brain active and engaged and supports us physically, socially, and emotionally. Sharing memories of holiday music-making from their past and teaching those songs to future generations can be joyous for both the elderly storytellers and the family members listening, forming new, pleasurable memories.
Susan Darrow is the CEO of Music Together an internationally recognized, developmentally appropriate early childhood music and movement program for children birth through age seven. First offered to the public in 1987, the Music Together curriculum, coauthored by Kenneth K. Guilmartin and Dr. Lili M. Levinowitz (Director of Research), is based on the recognition that all children are musical. All children can learn to sing in tune, move with accurate rhythm, and participate with confidence in the music of our culture, provided that their early environment supports such learning. Music Together offers programs for families, schools, at-risk populations, and children with special needs, in over 2,500 communities in 41 countries. The company is passionately committed to bringing children and their caregivers closer through shared music-making and helping people discover the joy—and educational value—of early music experiences.
More at www.MusicTogether.com and www.facebook.com/MusicTogether.
Authentic Feedback Changes Everything – a guest article from Laurel Springs School
How do children learn? A central part of the learning process is feedback. Children need feedback to affirm their areas of strength, and help them address their areas of challenge. But there are different kinds of feedback. Consider a typical classroom environment, where a teacher puts a letter grade at the top of a worksheet, and perhaps writes “good effort!” This type of feedback is incomplete, and misses many opportunities to guide children toward mastery of the material. However, authentic feedback provides a comprehensive approach to helping children learn.
Authentic feedback consists of certain key elements. It must reference a learning goal, and identify tangible aspects of that objective. It should be actionable; in other words, it should be feedback that prompts a child to do something specific in order to improve their understanding of the topic. Authentic feedback is personalized and user-friendly. Finally, authentic feedback is not effective if it is random; children benefit when it is timely, ongoing, and consistent. Authentic feedback can be given in a variety of ways: via written notes, phone or video conversations, or in a face-to-face discussion.
Laurel Springs School, an accredited online school that is popular with many homeschoolers, emphasizes authentic feedback. Laurel Springs teachers have made it their mission to deliberately change how teaching and learning work through the use of authentic feedback. Unlike traditional schools that are not designed to recognize the unique learning style of each child, Laurel Springs provides personalized, collaborative, and interactive instruction. Their teachers work with academic department chairs to continually improve their approach to feedback with regular coaching meetings. Teachers challenge each other to look deeper into the feedback they provide children to see if it is truly meeting each child’s needs. This system, which is part of the Laurel Springs teacher culture, ultimately benefits each child, who receives meaningful responses to academic work that can be used as a basis for understanding and improvement.
How does Laurel Springs succeed at providing children with authentic feedback? First, their personalized learning environment allows parents, children, and teachers to share how feedback works best for them on an individual level, which enables teachers to modify their approach for each student. Next, teachers understand that children want to be acknowledged. Children put time and energy into their work, so it is extremely important for teachers to recognize and affirm that. When teachers find something personal to connect with in a child’s assignment, it shows the child that the teacher took the time to focus on that specific work in order to provide guidance that is unique to that child. In addition, children receive feedback that is timely and motivating, which enables them to apply advice to future work, or to ask teachers additional questions if needed.
It can be difficult to provide feedback for children who excel academically, because sometimes there are no major areas of challenge in a given assignment. However, authentic feedback prompts even gifted students to stretch their abilities. Consider one of the best practices used at Laurel Springs School, the “feedback sandwich.”
- Start with something positive.
- Focus on the product, not the child, but personalize the comments.
- Provide specific examples for change.
- Encourage improvement or offer a challenge.
The “feedback sandwich” approach is useful with all children, but is especially helpful when adapted for high-achieving children. These children will enjoy figuring out how they would re-frame the current assignment from a different perspective, or brainstorm ways to take a deeper dive into the topic by thinking differently about it.
Authentic feedback has a core question that can be used as a litmus test: is this feedback providing a meaningful learning opportunity for the child? Authentic feedback focuses on the connection between the teacher and child that honors the child’s academic journey. Laurel Springs teachers believe in the power of authentic feedback, which is central to providing personalized learning for each child.
To learn more about how Laurel Springs’ teachers help their students succeed with authentic feedback, contact our admissions office 800-377-5890.
Holiday Spice Sachets
Written by Renae C.
Instead of throwing out old spices, re-purpose them! There are many things that one can do with old herbs and spices but this time I have decided to make sachets. This is a super easy project that anyone can do with materials that most of us already have around the house. With the holidays approaching, now is the perfect time to get creative and festive!
First, go through all of your old spices. Find the scents you like best, and try to determine which ones will go well together. I had some cinnamon sticks, which I broke apart (careful – These things are sharp; I cut my finger doing it!). Sage and Rosemary are also great spices to use in your sachet.
Next, you will need some cloth. This can be scraps from a sewing project, an old t-shirt cut up into squares, or even old socks. You won’t want to use anything that is too thick as the smell needs to be able to penetrate the fabric, and you need to ensure that it will be large enough to hold the spices that you will add to it. I used a sash from one of my daughter’s old dresses that I cut up into squares.
Now all you have to do is place your herbs or spices in the middle of the cloth, bring the sides up to enclose the spices and tie them together. Any type of ribbon, string, or even a rubber band works really well for this. I used some wrapping paper ribbon for mine.
Voilà! You have a homemade, nice smelling sachet for free! You can place them in your dresser drawers or hang them in your closet to give your clothes a nice fresh scent.
Renae C. and her family are on a homeschooling journey that is very much a part of their everyday lives. Renae is happy to report that they are enjoying (almost!) every minute of it! Renae created and writes for More Than Mommy (www.mtmommy.com).
6 Unique Ways to Include STEM in Your Homeschool Routine
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM) education is frequently in the news—for good reason. STEM provides students with a foundation in critical thinking and problem-solving. This can be invaluable, even if a student does not intend to pursue a STEM career.
Some homeschooling families, however, may be intimidated by the thought of teaching STEM. Others are not intimidated by STEM subjects, but are instead seeking different ways to incorporate STEM into their homeschool curriculum. Whether you come from a STEM background or not, here are six unique ways to include STEM in your homeschool routine:
Consider reading STEM-themed books with your homeschool student. You can do this as part of a book club, as an independent reading assignment, or as a bedtime story. STEM-themed books can be found at all reading levels, and they do not have to be non-fiction to generate discussion and exploration.
- Hands-on museum experiences
If you are lucky enough to have a hands-on children’s or science museum in your area, you may wish to purchase a membership and become a regular. These types of organizations have exhibits that students and their parents can explore on a monthly or even weekly basis. In addition, they typically have special offerings, such as classes or demonstrations, robotics clubs, and summer camps.
- Lab activities and STEM kits
If you are not yet comfortable with STEM, searching for pre-written lab activities or purchasing pre-made kits that contain all the necessary materials can help you to ease into more complex endeavors.
- Open-ended play
A great way to encourage STEM thought processes (and to let students see how engaging STEM can be) is to allow your student to simply play. Encourage him or her to build forts and LEGO creations, to mix ingredients in the kitchen, to take apart the toaster, to create objects from piles of “junk,” and to otherwise let the creative juices flow. Create a “makerspace” in your home (or find one at a nearby university or museum), and then schedule in “tinkering” time. If he or she has ideas of what to build, let him or her go for it. If he or she has trouble getting started, assign a task to solve. (An Internet search for makerspace tasks or task cards can give you some ideas.)
- Real-life inquiry
Nothing brings STEM to life like trying to solve a real-world problem. A quick Internet search can find a number of real-world problems for students to solve. There are also organizations and competitions that bring together students from all over to literally “solve the world’s problems.” Engaging in a STEM education does not mean that you give your child all the answers; it means that your child will be able to brainstorm and experiment with different potential solutions. If one idea does not work, take what you have learned, tweak the idea, and try again. Project-based learning is another way to find meaningful problems for your child to explore. He or she can also look around and come up with their own problems to solve!
- Career exploration
Exploring careers can be a great way to see the usefulness of STEM skills. Shadowing someone in a STEM career, doing volunteer work, or participating in an internship are all ways to incorporate STEM into your regular homeschooling routine. Since homeschool students are not restricted during traditional school hours, they are able to explore more careers in a realistic setting.
STEM has become a buzzword in today’s educational circles because of the need for STEM skills in today’s world. Whether you are STEM-skeptical or just looking for better ways to help your child explore STEM topics, there are a number of unique methods for including STEM in your homeschool routine.
Dana Elmore is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.
How long does Thanksgiving pie last?
Here is the answer from eatbydate.com –
Lots of good info can be found on this page –
Just thought you’d like to know!
Interested in a Thanksgiving project that will focus on gratitude and giving thanks? How about Thankful Poems.
Amy from the website Let’s Explore writes, “Doesn’t Thanksgiving fall at a perfect time? Just when my girls start rattling off their extensive Christmas wish lists, I can pull out some Thanksgiving books and crafts and we can all reflect more deeply about what we are truly thankful for.”
Thankful Poems – a great way to get your kids to focus on what really matters.
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Kids love jokes – so why not surprise them with a few Thanksgiving jokes from the website Enchanted Learning. There really are some good ones!
For instance –
What’s the most musical part of a turkey? The drumstick!
If fruit comes from a fruit tree, where does turkey come from? A poul-tree!
Why did the turkey cross the road twice? To prove he wasn’t chicken!