Tuesday, January 26, 2016

january—homeschool fun in our house for the winter days

If homeschooling’s not an interest, come back another day this week…I’m going to do a book review of a gardening book I got for Christmas written by a well-known British gardener.

Oh, January. 

Those who have homeschooled know that it precedes what is known as the most challenging month of the school year—February; and by token of that, it has it’s own challenges.  It is always nice to get back into a schedule after Christmas vacation, but after that (and especially if you are in a cold climate and if a virus is going around) it gets kind of blah.  The walls start closing in.  It’s a good time to re-evaluate what you are doing and either change that up now (if it needs it) or plan ahead for next year, or just try to preempt February by coming up with some fun stuff ahead of time!  I thought I’d share some things that are working well for us this year, and some things the kids love to do that are educational as well.  (FYI my kids are 2nd grade down to preschool this year.)  All links are to Amazon but I am not an affiliate. 

Song School Latin

Oh my goodness, my kids love this.  They call it “Latin Monkey” and while they aren’t learning anything very rigorous, this is exactly what we needed to dip our toes into Latin this year with a 2nd grader and a pre-K’er.  We have the workbook, CD, and DVD (don’t see a need to get the teacher’s manual) and I’m so glad I went with the DVD option as my kids love to watch the weekly lesson (and it gives me a bit of a break too from having to teach every subject completely).  My kids are often singing the songs that are on the CD too.  Latin is probably their favorite subject all because of this.  My 2nd grader does the stuff in the workbook but my 5 year old just watches the DVD and sings the songs as he doesn’t read or write well yet. 

Snap Circuits


I actually picked our set up at a garage sale for a song (brand new!) and for “E” week we learned about electricity and the older kids got to experiment with our snap circuit set, which they really enjoyed.  Our set didn’t come with a manual but we found all the diagrams for making the various electrical circuits (lights, whistles, alarms, fans) on an online manual.



Again, something I found at a garage sale before I even knew what they actually were (and how expensive they were at retail price!).  The kids, especially our 3 year old, always ask if they can play magnets.  Our sets have geometric shapes and magnetic rods and balls which you connect to build structures. They are pretty neat, I even I enjoy occasionally building something with them when the kids are playing.  They are a great tool to learn about magnetism and some basic hands-on engineering.  The magnetic balls might be a choking/swallowing hazard if you have little ones in the house who are that way inclined, just FYI. 

Brambly Hedge Books


We are loving these books.  I actually bought the hardcover book with all the books in it.  It is reminiscent of Beatrix Potter’s drawing style with amazing little pictures of the mice’s little rooms underground or in stumps.  My kids get so immersed in looking at all the details, and the stories themselves are very cute too!

Story of the World CDs


You can just get the books of this history series too and read aloud for the younger ones, but this year we got the CD set for the first volume of this (Ancient Times) and the kids like to listen to it over and over.  I knew it was sinking in when our 5 year old son knew how to find Troy on a map and even called one his siblings Amenhotep.  :P  I have the activity book too and we’ve built a ziggurat out of legos and made the Nile delta with playdoh, among other fun things like salt dough clay tablets, etc.  I have heard “things” about some of the later books (inaccuracy/ bias)  so you may want to check those out before using. 

New Stove

Ok, this is just for laughs…but we bought a new stove at the beginning of January since the old one went kaput and the huge box it came in has give the children hours of entertainment when school itself is over.  Maybe not worth the cost of the stove, but a happy outcome.  :)  We are also refrigerator shopping so maybe they will get an even bigger box soon! 

Easy Grammar


Our 2nd grader may not love this every day, but these little daily grammar reviews make life so easy for me!  She does one page a day (four problems) and so far in 2nd grade they have been introducing and reviewing parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization, and sentence combining.  It should only take a few minutes for an independent and older student, but it does take us longer at this age.  However, it sets my mind at ease knowing she is building those important grammar skills each day! 

Ok, I went.  Now your turn…any tips for February??