Five Fun Ways to Homeschool This Week

It’s been forever since I’ve done one of these posts so I thought I’d throw out some fun alternative HS ideas for the week…

  1. Play a homeschool version of Balderdash. Write up a list of vocabulary words and make up some fake and real definitions.  Challenge the kids to name the right definition for each word.
  2. Start a micro-journal. Give the kids a blank sketch book and ask them to draw a picture of at least one tiny thing viewed under the microscope each day (with labels and a bit of info).  Alternately, have them draw the pictures on index cards and keep them in a recipe box.  Have other members of the family try to guess what various micro-drawings are.
  3. Set up a math obstacle course in the back yard.
  4. Head to a local nature center and play. Most have free admission and air conditioning, and there’s generally all sorts of fun actitivities to involve the kids.
  5. Make a map dart board. Spread a US or world map over a large cork board and hang on the wall.  Take turns calling off locations and then tossing darts to see who can land their darts closest.  For younger kids, try doing this with spitballs.  😉

And with that, I’m off to catch up on 1800 hours of TV shows that my sweetie taped for me while I was off playing in Nebraska!


Learning for Charity

Lately when the kids have been playing Webkinz I’ve asked them to do 50 questions in Quizzie’s Corner first, on various subjects.  It’s an easy way to sneak in some math, science, language arts and other subjects.

Tonight when Victoria came to say goodnight, she told me, “Hey Mom, you know how you have us do Quizzie’s Corner when we’re on the computer?  You should have us play on Free Rice instead.  I’ve been earning rice all night on all different subjects.  I’ve even been doing multiplication.”

(This from a kid who hates math!)

I’ve played a bit on Free Rice in the past, back when it was just vocabulary questions.  The basic idea is that you answer progressively harder questions (the better you do, the harder they get), and each one that you answer right earns rice that’s given to people in need.  Sponsors pay for the rice, which goes to the UN World Food Program (100% of the income goes to charity).

I had heard that they’d added other subjects but I didn’t realize how many.  There’s everything from chemical symbols to geography to language learning.  Best of all, since it keeps track of how well you do, it constantly adjusts to the right level of difficulty for each person.

Since Victoria is really interested in helping others, this is the perfect way for her to learn and study.  I think Anna will also enjoy it, and get a kick out of the tallies of how much she’s donated through her answers.

I think almost everybody knows about Free Rice at this point, but if you’re like me and had forgotten to visit often this could be a good time to give it another shot — and involve the kids!

P Night!

We’re all in various stages of illness here, me and Alex especially.  Tonight we had an easy supper of pizza and peas, and it seemed a little too alliterative to pass up.  The kids and I declared it P night!


  • Had Pepperoni Pizza and Peas for supper
  • Ate in Pink, Purple and Pajamas
  • Had Pink ice cream for dessert
  • Were Polite and Pleasant
  • Were Particularly Preoccupied with using P words
  • Made up P vocabulary Pages

I was sick in bed but I gave Victoria the assignment of having each child write up a Page of P words.  I said the girls could help Jack spell a Page of them, and they could use a dictionary or thesaurus to find good ones for themselves.

I got busy with my sick boy and Painkillers, but in the middle of the night I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I went downstairs and there on the living room floor were 3 pages of P words, one by each child.

Their lists:

Jack ~ puppy, peas, pear, pasta, pumpkin, pineapple, pencils, poop, pool, potato

Annalee ~ Pacific, painful, painting, palace, pajamas, pancake, panther, paper clip, paradise, part, passport, pea, peanut butter, pearl, pencils, pebble, pencilvania  (G!)

Victoria ~ pabulum, pall, panacea, papaverous, paucity, periwig, perturb, paucity, photon, planish, plaudit

I was quite Pleased and Proud!  😉

10 Fun Ways to Learn This Week

We’re firmly in the winter blahs around here so I’ve been brainstorming ways to perk up our HS days.  We have HS swimming tomorrow and HS ice skating the next day, but here are some other things that seemed like fun…..

1.  Write dictionary stories.  Have kids open up the dictionary to random places, close their eyes and point to words.  Pick 3-5 words and then write a short, short story (one page or less) using all of the words.

2.  Play the stock market.  Give the kids $1,000 imaginary dollars to invest in stocks of their choosing.  Track their value each day (for as short or long a period of time as you like), either online or in the newspaper.  See if they can make a profit.  If you like, graph how the stocks did over time.

3.  Have the kids write some book reviews for Amazon or Barnes & Noble online. 

4.  Put on tourism ads.  Arm the kids with some geography books and tell them to randomly pick a country or state each and find out some things about the area that would make people want to visit.  Have them write up notes on cue cards and then perform commercials to entice tourists with the facts they’ve learned.  If you like, videotape it!

5.  Reword famous poetry.  Give the kids a thesaurus and let them pick a favorite poem each from a book of classic poetry.  The assignment– change as many words as possible in the poem to keep the original meaning but completely rewrite it.  Example:  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet becomes A bloom by any alternate moniker would be scented similarly sugary.

6.  Find a little area museum or art gallery to visit.  Preferably one you’ve never visited before.  Most little local ones are free around here and they love to chat with visitors.

7.   Call an area nursing home to see if they’re interested in kids reading to residents (or coming along while you do).

8.  Play the ingredient game.  This one is good at figuring percentages and teaching nutrition.  Take turns grabbing food and drink items and see how many ingredients the other person can name.  The person with the highest percentage wins.  Example: a can of Mountain Dew has 13 ingredients (not that I would know of course, I wouldn’t possibly have one here on my desk because that stuff is total junk!).  You might guess that it has carbonated water, corn syrup, artificial flavor and a couple of other things, but would you guess the brominated vegetable oil?  (Yeah, ew.)  If you guessed 8 things of the 13, that gives you a 62% guess rate.

9.  Start work on a Junior Duck Stamp contest entry.

10. Make Monster FleshBe sure to click on why it works to get the science part of the fun!

5 Fun Ways to Learn Today

It’s another cozy day at home for us today, which I really enjoy. Here’s some thoughts I had for ways to fill it. Feel free to join in!

1. Silly similes. Teach the kids what similes are (sim-i-lees– comparison words that use “as” or “like,” as opposed to metaphors which say something is something like “all the world is a stage” or “a sea of faces”). Brainstorm together and list a bunch of predictible ones that everybody knows (black as night, quiet as a mouse…). When you have a nice list, have each child make up a new simile for each phrase. Try to be silly and creative, but still accurate. Then share your lists.

2. Make winter collages and cards from old magazines. We’ve been doing this to make our holiday cards this week and it’s lots of fun. I ripped pages out of a Vogue magazine and the girls and I cut holiday shapes out of them– trees, ornaments, boxes for presents, and so on. Then we folded cardstock in half and glued the collages and stickers onto the front of each card. I encouraged them to really think creatively and it’s led to some neat shapes and beautiful pictures.

3. Play Blackjack (21). Here’s the rules if you’ve forgotten how to play (this page also goes into the math benefits and is written specifically for playing with kids).

4. Start a recipe box timeline. We love our friend Tiffany’s index card timeline that stretches around her house at ceiling level, but it wouldn’t work in our house. What we’ve started instead is a recipe box timeline. The kids pick events to write up and illustrate on index cards and then we file them by date. The front has the year and the main event (along with a little picture sometimes), while the back has a few sentences written up for more information. This is a great way to get an idea of when things happened in relation to each other without needing a lot of room, and you can add to it every time you learn about something from history.

5. Play word concentration. Make up sets of index cards (or just cut up paper) with a word on one and a simple picture of the item on the other. If you have older kids, have them do this. My girls love to make up the cards for Jack. Make sure the words are clearly spelled out in large letters. Some examples are ball, door, arrow, cup, box and truck. Then shuffle them and put them all face down. Play with your child or just cheer him on as he tries to find matches in the fewest turns. (For older kids, use this to drill foreign language terms, match up capitols and states or remember word definitions.)

Have a great day!