Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homeschooling High School: Sports

My oldest daughter is a talented competitive swimmer…and she’s homeschooled. The fact that my daughter is a competitive swimmer and is homeschooled was never an issue for her or for others until she entered her freshman year of high school at home.
Around here, high school sports are a big deal…a really big deal. As our daughter edged closer and closer to high school age, the questions began. “Where will your daughter swim for high school?” When we explained that our daughter would continue to be homeschooled through high school and that she would not be swimming on a high school swim team, more questions and concerns were raised.

In my area, homeschooling for grades K-8 is fairly common but homeschooling all the way through high school is not. Many teens are sent to high school specifically so that they can have the opportunity to play sports. While I completely understand the importance that a sport can play in a young person’s life, the decision is a difficult one for parents who were planning to homeschool through the high school years.

To read the rest of my article about homeschooling and high school level sports participation, please join me today at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.  Also be sure to read all of the great articles in Kris' fabulous series - 10 Days of Homeschooling High School.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Homeschooling High School: Science

Have you been reading the fabulous series about homeschooling through high school over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers?  Kris' series is a must-read for home educators who have children of any age.  Today is Day 6 of her series and I'm guest posting about teaching high school level science courses.  Kris has covered a wide range of topics in this series including:

Here's a sneak peek at today's post:

For years, you’ve been taking nature walks with your child, raising butterflies, and making models of the solar system. Science has been hands-on, low-key, and enjoyable. Science has never scared you or your child.
But now your child has reached HIGH SCHOOL! Now science, according to conventional wisdom, is really hard, intense, and definitely not fun. Most likely, you, or a well-meaning friend or relative, has serious doubts about your ability to offer a high school level science course at home.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why Is There Always a Mean Girl? - New Post at The Homeschool Classroom

The Homeschool Classrom
There were mean girls when I was in school.  I remember the taunts during my elementary years when fashionably-dressed girls asked me, “Where’s the flood?,”due to my too-short definitely-not-hip pants.  I remember comments from high school about my hair, my house, the length of my driveway, my fat arms, my lack of a date for prom, my lack of skill in gym class…the list could go on and on and on.  Perhaps in some ways, even 24 years after high school graduation, the wounds have never fully healed.
Why is there always a mean girl?
I admit it.  One of the reasons that my husband and I chose to homeschool was to avoid the ugly bullying and bad behavior of children towards one another which is not uncommon in most schools.  Sadly, though, we’ve been unable to avoid our daughter being the target of nasty behavior from other girls entirely.
Please join me at The Homeschool Classroom today to read the rest of my article about helping your daughters deal with nasty comments and ugly behavior from others.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review of Imagination Station Books and a Chance to Win 6 Books in the Series

Do your children enjoy exciting historical fiction?  Do you have a hard time finding educational, wholesome books for your early chapter-book readers?  If so, a new series of books from Focus on the Family may be perfect for your family!  

The Imagination Station series is written for children ages 7 and up and is absolutely perfect for early chapter-book readers.  All of the books feature large print, double-spacing, and pictures in most chapters.  The stories are fast-paced and designed to catch and keep a young reader's interest.  

The books make excellent additions to history studies.  The titles currently available cover a wide range of historical times and events including the Vikings, ancient Roman times, ancient China times, Bible times, the Middle Ages, and Plymouth Plantation.
Voyage with the Vikings - "Mr. Whittaker, a kind but mysterious inventor, has sent cousins Patrick and Beth to Greenland through the Imagination Station.  It's the year 1000, and they meet Viking Erik the Red, who is angry about the new God.  Mr. Whittaker wants the cousins to find a Sunstone, but what does one look like?  And what does it have to do with the mysterious letter found in the inventor's workshop?  Most important, can Patrick and Beth find a Sunstone before Erik's son Leif sails away with the Imagination Station on board his ship?"
Attack at the Arena - "'Stop the fighting-in the name of Christ-stop!'  Cousins Patrick and Beth are off on their second Imagination Station adventure.  Mr. Whittaker's mysterious invention takes them to ancient Rome where they must find a special silver cup.  Near the city gate, the cousins are separated when Beth is enslaved to the emperor and Patrick meets a wise monk named Telemachus.  All three end up in the famous Roman arena.  Telemachus wants to share an important message with the emperor, Beth wants to know how to get the cup.  And Patrick just wants to escape with his life!" 

Peril in the Palace - "The place - China in 2171.  The task? - find the golden tablet of Kublai Khan.  The problem? - just about everything!  On this adventure cousins Patrick and Beth are kidnapped by Mongol warriors.  Only the friendship of fellow traveler Marco Polo saves them from harm.  At the Shangdu palace, Kublai Khan dislikes their gifts and their message about Christianity.  Next, the Mongol magicians challenge the cousins to a spiritual power showdown, war breaks out, and Beth and Patrick are locked up to prevent their escape.  How do the cousins get the golden tablet they need to save Mr. Whittaker's friend Albert?  how do they escape the city and find the Imagination Station?  Enter the perilous palace and find out!?

Revenge of the Red Knight - "In this adventure, cousins Patrick and Beth meet Albert.  But they also meet with more trouble at Lord Darkthorn's castle.  The cousins are accused of stealing the very treasures they've been trying to return!  To save Albert and themselves, Patrick and Beth need to sort friend from foe, traitor from teammate.  And they must do it before the new moon.  That's when Lord Darkthorn will return and lock Albert in the terrible tower."

Showdown with the Shepherd - "Travel to the Holy Land, 1000 BC with Patrick and Beth.  Their goal is to find the menacing Master Hugh, get the Whittaker family ring, and then send Hugh back to 1450s England.  But problems await the cousins as soon as they step out of the Imagination Station.  First they meet an angry bear, later an angry giant. Set against the background of the David and Goliath story, the cousins must stop Hugh from changing history and helping the Philistines win.  Along the way, the cousins learn that having a giant faith is better than having a giant on your side."

My son and I both read "Problems in Plymouth" for this review.  While the book was a bit too easy for my 5th grade son (the books are perfect for early chapter-book readers), he still enjoyed the fast-paced story.

In Problems in Plymouth, readers will learn about why the Native Americans and the Pilgrims didn't always trust each other and the basis for conflict between them.  As well, the book also focused on the everyday lives of the people who lived at Plymouth Plantation and the Thanksgiving celebration.  The book was action-packed and the plot moved along at a fast pace.

The Imagination Station books are all written from a Christian perspective and I appreciated the references to prayer within the book.  As well, the values and actions of the main characters reflected positive character traits.   

Do you think your family would enjoy receiving all 6 books in the Imagination Station series?  Just leave a comment on this post and I will choose one lucky winner randomly to receive the first 6 books in this exciting series.  The books will be mailed directly from the publisher.  The winner will be chosen on Friday, November 11th at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

I received the the first 6 books in the Imagination Station series from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review of the book series.  No other compensation, monetary or otherwise, was given in exchange for my review.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week in Review - A Dead Tadpole, A Sinus Infection, and a Fun Science Activity

I'm so glad it's Friday!  While nothing particularly bad has happened this week, I've just been feeling tired, vaguely stressed, and overwhelmed.  I'm hoping to gain some peace and clarity this week-end!

Duncan was a bit upset this week to discover that his tadpole had died.  I have no pictures - that would be too morbid.  Our Grew a Frog is still alive, though.

Mason has had a lingering cough for weeks now.  On Monday, we decided that we had better take him in to see our pediatrician.    Our doctor diagnosed him with a sinus infection and now he is taking medication and still has a lingering cough.

We have been having small problems with our computer for a few months now.  After talking with a computer technician, we decided to upgrade our computer rather than try to fix the many problems.  We are definitely due for an upgrade and our computer gets a ton of use as we use it for business and personal use.  While we are having a computer technician transfer our data, the whole process is still a bit disconcerting.   I will be happy when we are all set up with our new computer next week!

Sadly, not a lot happened in our homeschool this week that was picture-worthy!  If I had taken more pictures this week, they all would have been the same - children bent over schoolbooks reading or writing.  While working on book-work is very good, it doesn't make for interesting pictures!

We started Friday morning with our weekly "watch all-together" history video.  We watched Dawn of the Maya.  For the past three weeks, we've watched videos about ancient peoples - the Incas, the Aztecs, and the Mayas.  

This afternoon, Duncan and I did a hands-on science activity that he's been looking forward to all week.  He saw the "Vroom, Vroom!" activity in his science textbook and he was very excited about trying it. 
The main question in this activity was, "Does the amount of force needed to move a toy car increase or decrease as the slope increases?"  He compared many different degrees of slope and found that more effort was needed to move the toy car up the ramp when the slope was increased and less effort was needed when the slope was decreased.
The toy car was taped to a 1 meter long piece of string attached to a plastic cup (the effort).  Duncan added one penny at a time to the cup until the car moved up the ramp to the top.  
He enjoyed predicting how many pennies it would take to move the car every time he adjusted the slope.
Our boys have a swim meet all week-end and Amber is away for the week-end at a church retreat (I will miss her).  I know that Monday will be here in the blink of an eye so I better get started on finding that peace and clarity!

Visit Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to read about what other homeschooling bloggers did this week!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adding Depth and Interest to History Studies by Taking History-Related Field Trips

We are studying early American history this year and I am so excited to be studying the early history of our country alongside my children!  We had the wonderful experience of touring a reproduction of the Santa Maria in September.  We took a guided tour of the ship that lasted about an hour.  The tour was delightful!  The tour guide was quite personable and was great at getting the children involved in the tour.  

Now, I love history field trips.  I dream of visiting tons of historical sites all over the United States with my husband when we are older.  I adore living history as well.  To say that my children are not as interested in history-related field trips as I am is definitely an understatement.  In fact, my children didn't even want to take the Santa Maria tour - they were eager to get over to the Science Center.  They did end up enjoying the tour and learning quite a bit more about Columbus' voyages, though.

Since my children are not usually over-the-top excited about history field trips, I found myself wondering why I even bother planning history field trips.  In thinking through the benefits of history-related field trips, though, I came to the conclusion that they are, indeed, very valuable and are definitely worth taking even with less-than-enthusiastic young people.
History-Related Field Trips Help Us to Gain In-Depth Knowledge
Focusing on one location, one event, or one historical artifact allows for more in-depth knowledge about a particular historical subject.  Before touring the Santa Maria, we had read quite a bit about the voyages of Columbus in our history programs.  Taking the tour helped to highlight to all of us that there was so much more to learn about Columbus' voyages.  We learned many new details about the voyages and Columbus himself during the tour.  

Visiting Historical Sites Makes Connections Between the Abstract and the Concrete
Taking history-related field trips helps to make connections between the abstract world of history books and the concrete world of experience.  When teaching young children, we often focus on making concepts concrete for them.  For example, we use manipulatives to teach a young child to add and subtract.  

The wisdom of making the abstract concrete, though, is important for all ages.  While we had all read about difficult conditions on the Santa Maria for Columbus and his crew, actually seeing where the crew slept and looking at examples of foods that were eaten made the voyages seem so much more real for all of us.
Duncan takes a turn pumping water out of the bottom of the ship with the bilge pump.
Words Take on New, Deeper Meanings
Bilge pump.  Tiller.  Capstan.  While we had heard those words before, I know that all of us gained a much deeper understanding of those terms after taking the Santa Maria tour.
The Santa Maria did not have a ship's wheel.  A tiller was used  to steer the boat by pushing it from side to side.  Interestingly, no windows were available to guide the sailor in operating the tiller.
Vocabulary words come to life on history-related field trips.  As my daughter stated in reference to the capstan, "Sometimes you just need to see something to really understand it."

History-Related Field Trips Awaken Imaginations
When visiting a historical site or a living history museum, you can insert yourself into the past for a little while.  Inserting yourself into the past awakens imaginations.  We begin to think about how we would have felt in that particular situation.  
What would it have been like to wear those kinds of clothes?  What would it have been like to operate a dangerous cannon on a wooden ship?  Did the sailors think the food was as bad as it sounds to me?

Awakening our imaginations and the imaginations of our children will, hopefully, lead to greater interest in and appreciation of history.  If history rises above a series of dates and events to an exciting tale of individuals with hopes, dreams, and loves then history becomes a very interesting adventure indeed.  History-related field trips can help make history an exciting adventure.

So, have you taken any interesting history-related field trips lately?  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ten Christmas-Themed Movies I Plan to Watch this Holiday Season

It's almost November!  I love to make my entertainment media Christmas-themed for the holiday season.  I've already started reading my first Christmas-themed novel of the season and plan to start watching Christmas-themed movies soon.  I've been working on making a list of new and old Christmas movies that I plan to watch this holiday season and am hoping to compile a long list from which I can choose over the next two months.  So, grab the hot chocolate and the Christmas cookies!  Snuggle up with a warm quilt!  Get ready to enjoy a movie that will get you in the holiday spirit!

1.  Christmas with the Kranks - I love this movie!  It's very funny and heartwarming at the same time.  I love the scene where Jamie Lee Curtis fights with another lady at the grocery store for the last special holiday ham.   

2.  A Christmas Story - My children won't let a holiday season go by without watching this classic Christmas gem at least once.  If you haven't seen this one, you better or "you'll poke your eye out!"

3.  Gremlins - While this movie may not pop right into your mind when you think of Christmas films, the setting of the movie is a small town at Christmastime.  My teenage daughter loves 80s films so I plan to watch this one with her this year.

4.  The Santa Clause - I adore this film and I even liked Santa Clause 2 quite a bit.  I'm going to make all of my kids watch both of these movies with me this year.  We'll skip the third movie in the series, though.

5.  Elf - Both of my older children have seen Elf and even quote lines from it.  I'm not sure where I was when they were watching it (probably wrapping Christmas presents or something) but this year, I'm definitely going to watch this one with them.
6.  It's a Wonderful Life - I've NEVER seen this!  I'm going to rectify this shocking holiday omission this Christmas season. 

7.  The Holiday - I adore this movie!  I plan to watch this sweet romantic comedy with my daughter since she enjoys the romantic comedy genre quite a bit.

8.  The Christmas Lodge - I haven't seen this one yet but last year I watched Thomas Kinkade's A Christmas Cottage and loved it.  I'm expecting a feel-good movie that brings tears to my eyes.
9.  A Christmas Romance - I just purchased this movie from Amazon for $6.99 after I confirmed it's not available to rent from Netflix.  Based on the extremely positive reviews on Amazon, I should really enjoy the movie.

10.  Mrs. Miracle - This one is a new movie for me as well.  I'm looking forward to a heartwarming tear-jerker.  I plan to watch Call Me Mrs. Miracle as well.

I would love to hear about some more great holiday movies to add to my list!  If you have some holiday movies that you enjoy, please leave me a comment with the names of the movies so I can add them to my list.

To read more Top 10 lists from other bloggers, visit Oh Amanda for Top 10 Tuesday.