Posts Tagged ‘unit studies’

Organizing Your Homeschool

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Organizing your homeschool does not have to be difficult. In this video clip, I show you how to organize educational bins for unit studies in homeschooling:

As you can see if you look upwards, a lot of storage space can be found above your head. Look at the enormous amount of stuff that I’m storing above my head. It doesn’t affect any floor space. As you can see, it’s by years–it’s what we did for each homeschool year–and we went through the history of the whole world in six years. (We also covered all the sciences within those years.)

organizing-your-homeschoolFor example, in year 2 we studied human anatomy for a full year, so let me take that down real quick… When we did human anatomy, I just threw the things into this bin. I collected things from yard sales and used curriculum sales. You can get all kids of fun stuff. Here is a model of the lungs that we did, and the model of the human arm. We have X-rays of different parts of the human body; you can put the whole body together like a puzzle. Here are the skeletons of animals, and the bones like the femur are called the same thing in animals and humans. (So once you learn the bones of the human body, you can find and label animal skeletons, too!)

I have games about the human body, and books like Blood and Guts, which have lots of fun experiments about the human body. (It does contain evolution.) I also have coloring books of the human body, and diagrams to color for younger children. You also see I have different models, like the human heart.

So all of this is stored in this bin. That’s how I store things for different unit studies, so that the second time I teach something, it is so easy compared to the first time. As you make the different hands-on items for science or history, you can throw them into the bin. By the time you get to that time period in history, surprise, surprise! You open it up and go, “Wow! Look at all the stuff I have for the Revolutionary War!”

This is a small sample of my 2-hour video workshop, Organizing for a Fun Homeschool, where I show you every room in my house, and how I organize it for fun homeschooling.

We Were Supposed to Take the Summer Off

Friday, August 27th, 2010

take-the-summer-offWe were supposed to take the summer off, and we did in a lot of ways. This was the first summer ever that we didn’t do math for three months. We’ll see if it had any negative consequences. My son Stephen needed to practice guitar every day during the summer, and I didn’t want him to feel punished, like everyone else got to play while he worked. So I had my other children start a nature journal over the summer. My son Nathaniel has had a nature journal for a year now, because he begged me to be able to do one. Basically for the first 35 minutes after breakfast this summer, Stephen practiced guitar for 20 minutes, then he worked on his journal for 15 minutes. Everyone else spent 35 minutes on their journals.

Another thing we did this summer was to study insects. Insects are much more abundant in the summer, and our insect collection had been smashed by accident a few years back. The kids were so young last time we collected insects that they didn’t even remember doing it. So we studied insects by using the second half of the Apologia book Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day. We tied that in with their nature journals, and it worked out quite nicely.

When my husband left to the Czech Republic, we borrowed materials out of the library to study this country, to know where he was and what his surroundings looked like. We figured out about time zones, and we prayed for him each night. We had so much fun with our study of that country that we went ahead and studied several other countries, since we hadn’t done much geography the previous year. Our study of countries included a Mexican fiesta, since I had found a big sombrero at a yard sale for one dollar. Oh, and I almost forgot that we studied Spanish for three weeks intensively, with the older two children each filling in a whole Spanish workbook.

Sports skills were another thing we did this summer. I did it so that I would get some exercise and have more energy, and I wanted to get into shape. I wrote several blog entries about the sports skills we worked on, the most painful of which was volleyball. Basketball and baseball were fun, though, even though we all had slight sunburns from being outside so much. Badminton was my favorite unless there was a lot of wind, and the kids screamed in frustration when the birdie went way off course.

As you can see, we did quite a bit during the summer. I’m not even mentioning the work I did for my business, producing and recording new products for the fall and winter, and churning out three yearbooks. I’m always surprised at how much we have accomplished each year. But I’m tired as I go into the new school year, and this is not good. Maybe I’ll take a real break for a week or two, and when the weather changes, I’ll probably feel more alert. I hope so!

How to Make an Educational Display

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010


When studying a particular theme for a unit study, an educational display can spark interest in that study. It is a learning center and can be located anywhere in your house. My favorite place to put the display is on a low bookshelf. I like to include books about the topic, including picture books.

I also include other items such as games, puppets, magnifying glasses, models, puzzles, small plastic insects, or any other item that would make children want to study that subject on their own. This way your child is studying and learning whenever you are not there. This can enhance and deepen their learning.

For example, they might want to read a book that you don’t have time to read aloud to them. Or they can study star charts more closely, or reread a book already read. Or they can browse the insect identification book and find out what that weird insect was that you found on your doorstep last week. Of all the items in the display, the extra books are especially helpful. You can even make a display with only books, propping some up to generate interest.

If you want to learn more about setting up your house for learning, you will love my 2-hour video workshop Organizing for a Fun Homeschool, where I show you how I organize my  house for fun learning.

Insect Trap

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

insect-trapMy children are starting insect collections of their own, and they’ve been running around with jars and butterfly nets, trying to catch insects. One of my sons decided to dig a hole and put an open plastic jar in it. He packed dirt around it, placing four rocks, and then a bridge of wood across it. He said he read about the insect trap in a book and wanted to try it out.

So far we haven’t caught any insects with it. But I don’t think he left it out long enough. After a few days, he wanted the jar for something else, since plastic jars are insect-trap-2in short supply. We have glass jars, but the children aren’t allowed to carry them around, since we’ve broken several glass jars over the years. The children can make insect habitats in the glass jars, making the jars into mini-terrariums for the insects they catch. When the insects eventually die, they are taken out and put into an insect collection.

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