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!

10 Fun Ways to Learn Today

We had fun doing some of the 10 fun things to do that I posted the other day so I thought I’d brainstorm 10 more.

1.  Make up polls and graph the results.  We’ve done favorite ice cream flavors and colors in the past.  We even graphed the favorite colors one in M&Ms (I bought Easter and regular colors to cover all the bases!).  Let the kids pick their own categories to poll about and call friends and relatives to get their votes.

2.   Report on a historical event as a news report.  Let the kids pick an event and play news reporters to fill in viewers about what happened.  If you have more than one child, let one be an anchorwoman, one a reporter, one a witness and so on.  Videotape it if you can!

3.  Chart the temperature.  Find out the highs or lows for the past month (or week) and plot them on a chart together, then see if you can find out what they were last year and plot them in a different color.  What sort of difference do you see?  What do the kids predict will happen in the next month?  Revisit it next month and see how close you got.

4.  Have a dictionary hunt.  Daryl had a teacher who did this years ago.  Leave a clue for each word, such as “it won’t be late on page 141” (punctual) and have your child search the page for a word that matches the clue/definition.  The last word can be a clue about where to find a little prize (like “in the appliance on page 337 you’ll find your reward” and hide it in the oven.  Okay, his teacher didn’t have the prize at the end but I think it adds extra fun.  🙂

5.  Memorize a short poem to perform at supper (or for grandma or grandpa).  Videotape them if you can.  Kids love to see themselves do anything!

6.  Alphabetize the spice rack, the DVD collection or the canned goods.

7.   Have a calorie guessing contest.  Gather up a bunch of foods and have the kids each estimate how many calories they think are in one serving of each food (be sure to tell them the serving size).  Calculate how close each guess is and figure out who got closest.

8.  See if you can land your plane in the right world city!  This site is addictive and educational, a winning combination!

9.   Have a long jump contest and keep track of the results.  Each contestant gets 3 jumps.  Record the measurements and then see if the jumps got better as they went or worse, and who jumped the farthest.  You can also figure out the average length of each person’s jump.  We did this today and 5 year old Jack was our best jumper (at 51 inches).  The kids wanted to keep jumping and trying to beat his record, but nobody could!

10. Reword a nursery rhyme, song or famous poem.  Use a thesaurus or just your imagination and change as many words as possible to write a new poem with the same meaning.  Tiny aquamarine fellow, arrive and play your instrument….  Bleat, Bleat ebony ewe, possess you any fleece?   😉

10 Fun Things…

…We’ve done here lately:

1.  Daryl and the kids stopped by the museum at Walnut Grove and talked to the new director of the summer festival about ideas for next year’s festivities.

2.  Victoria started making her own earrings.

3.  The kids played Kids’ Trivial Pursuit.

4.  Alex did lots of art while the big kids and I did Story of the World.  (Note:  I really want something else for world history next time.  Any suggestions?)

5.  We have start putting puzzles together at night after Alex is asleep.  Another note:  Anna tends to model like she’s acting a part.  I’m not sure what the faces mean!)

6.  Victoria made a lion mask from a pizza insert.  Here’s the work in progress.

7.  The girls did vocabulary photos.

Here’s haughty.

Here’s morose.

8.  I had the big kids run 10 laps each up and down the stairs.  Victoria decided to challenge herself and go for 50, and Anna decided to go for 40.  They made it!  Jack cheered them on after his mandatory 10.  🙂

9.  Jack entertained Alex.  He carried him around, jumped on the couch with him, gave him horsey rides and mostly didn’t scream when he tried to topple his block towers.  😉

10.  Learned to make this face!

10 Fun Things to do Today

It’s snowy and dreary here this morning. I desperately need to find the cleaning fairy and chain her to my kitchen, but I also have 4 mostly-darling children in dire need of some plain old fun.

Here are 10 things that are on our list of possibles today.

round clear glass plate

Photo by Bruna Tovar Faro on

1. Play hide the phone. This is one of my favorite games to play with toddlers and the big kids love doing it with Alex. Hide the phone, press the page button and watch the little guy happily tear through the house looking for it. 🙂 (Can also be played with ticking timers.)

2. Make miniscule art. Hand out index cards or other small pieces of paper and trace a circle in the middle. Have the kids use magnifying glasses, microscopes or just look very closely at whatever object they like (each in a different room). Have them use colored pencils, crayons or markers to draw what the object looks like up close, filling the circle like looking through a microscope. Afterwards, gather and see who can guess each object.

3. Make science, history or literature mad libs. Just find a short passage to print out and go through and underline some nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. If there are animals, sound effects or other quirky words, be sure to underline those too. Then go through asking the kids to give you those parts of speech, write with a dark pen over the underlined word and then read their altered passage back to them. Afterwards, read the original.

4. Draw digestive systems on their tummies. How many educational activities tickle?   🙂   If they’re old enough, let them do each other or themselves.

5. Start a tradition of having the kids leave a different short educational fact on the answering machine greeting every day. Encourage the kids to search books for good facts.

6. Have a vocabulary photo shoot. Find a list of words that are new to the kids and ask them to be actors and pose as the definitions. Be silly! Some possible words: ambiguous, cacophony, quirky, superficial, haughty, morose, lumbering, rabble rouser, cherub, mystique, porcine, villain, magnanimous, impish.

7.  Do a puzzle together.  The more pieces, the better!

8.  Make a sound muncher.  Got a child learning his letter sounds?  Use a paper bag to make a fun monster face and cut a big hole for a mouth.  Turn it upside down over an empty bucket or garbage can and pick a letter for the sound muncher to eat.  If today’s letter is B, your little one needs to go through the house finding things that start with B to feed the sound muncher.  As the object goes in, have your child say the sound and the word and make funny munching sounds.  You can also use this as a sneaky way to clean up, having all the items come from messy bedroom floors and afterwards being put in their proper places!

9.  Play historical who am I.  Take turns being a famous person from history.  Everybody can ask questions to try to figure out who you are.  It might help to hand out historical picture books first to refresh their memories and give inspiration.

10. Do video reports.  Let your kids pick any subject to read up on and then videotape them doing short reports on their subjects.  Encourage them to be creative, funny, use props, make up songs or poems, or teach their subject in whatever way seems most fun.  If you want, put them up on your blog and let other kids come learn from yours!