Choosing Curriculum for your Homeschool

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So you’ve decided to homeschool. Great! Now what are you going to teach? Choosing curriculum can be an overwhelming task. Many people start by attending a curriculum fair and looking around….. but THAT can be an overwhelming proposition.

I always recommend to people that you should teach in a style and with a curriculum that you find teachable and enjoyable yourself. Are you structured? Flexible? Teach the way you function yourself and your kids will adapt. Later on as you see reasons to modify according to how they learn you can. But when starting out, go with what strikes a chord with you.

To help new homeschooling families decide where to look, I created this flowchart to get you at least pointed in the right direction. Make some basic decisions to get to some google search terms and narrow it down.

Remember. There are plenty of ways to do this the right way. You might have to make changes. But don’t be so overwhelmed that you never start. You can do this!

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Fun With Nature Notebooks

By Charmaine Wistad

Would you like to include a little bit of fun “school” during the summer months? Summer is the perfect time to start your children (and yourself!) on a nature notebook.  In the summer, your family will probably  spend a good amount of time outdoors – so why not take advantage of it and use the time to observe and draw nature.

Drawing notebooks can be readily found at just about any discount or variety store (including many large grocery stores). They come in various sizes, but I found that a 6” X 9” spiral bound sketch diary works best.

Start your nature notebook project by taking a little time to decorate the cover. Cut a piece of white paper the size of the cover. Have the kids cut out pictures from magazines of their favorite animals, plants, flowers, tress etc. and glue them on to the paper. Leave room at the top to label the book with permanent marker or a computer print out i.e. “Anne’s Nature Notebook”. Once the paper is decorated to the child’s liking, glue it to the book cover then cover both front and back with clear contact paper.  This will help keep the book in better condition when you get it outdoors and into some “natural” situations.

What to put in the nature notebook? Start by taking a little walk around the yard. Ask the child to simply look for something they find unusual or interesting. Then, date the first page and ask them to draw it in their notebook. You can use carbon pencils, colored pencils or both.  Later, as everyone becomes more comfortable with the notebooks, you can look up the item in a field guide and perhaps label the parts or write a little bit about it.

Be sure to take your nature notebooks with you when you:

  • Go to the Zoo
  • Visit a city or county park
  • Go hiking
  • On vacation

Visit Home-School.com for more ideas on nature notebooks.

Nature notebooks are a fun and easy way to encourage close observation of  the beauty that surrounds us everyday.  As your children add to their notebooks over the years, they will be creating a keepsake of not only what they’ve observed but of many good times together as a family.


Charmaine Wistad has successfully homeschooled her own two children from pre-school through high school.  Now she is turning her attention toward helping other homeschool moms. Through personal coaching, Charmaine helps homeschooling moms thrive… not just survive! Visit her website to try a complimentary no-obligation telephone coaching session.

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Plotting a Hurricane

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, this activity has real relevance for you.  Use it to practice before plotting some real hurricanes.

If you live inland, out of the path of hurricanes, this activity will lend impact to the weather news you hear about and overlook.

Either way, this plotting exercise is good practice for the scientific skill of recording!

Purpose

To practice locating coordinates on a map and to learn to predict the path of a storm.

Materials

Procedure

  1. On your map, make a small mark for each coordinate set from 1 -4 (below) showing the location of a storm named Kelly.
  2. Connect the marks with a dotted line showing the motion of the storm.
  3. Draw small arrowheads showing the direction of motion of the storm.
  4. In another color, predict with a dotted line where you think the storm will go.
  5. Look at the coordinates 5-10 to see if your prediction is correct.
  6. Finish plotting the coordinates 5 – 10, connect the marks, and draw the arrowheads showing direction.  You have completed your plot of Hurricane Kelly.
  7. Using a compass, draw a circle centered on coordinate 5.  The circle should be scaled to 100 miles in radius according to your map.  This circle shows the area which is affected by the hurricane directly.  Of course, the area of rains and slight winds will extend beyond this circle.
  8. To show the affected area of the hurricane at landfall, use coordinate 7 as the center of the circle.  All of the coastlines within this circle will undergo flooding.  Outlying areas will experience heavy rains and less flooding conditions.
  9. At the center of the circle, draw another, smaller circle of 25 miles diameter.  This smaller circle represents the eye of the storm at landfall.

Questions

  1. Where would you expect there to be the greatest flooding?  Highest tides?
  2. What is the direction of the wind at landfall?  Does this ever change?
  3. Where was the hurricane when it became a tropical storm? (This occurs when the wind speed hits 39 miles per hour)  An official hurricane?  (74 miles per hour).
  4. What happened to the hurricane after it reached land?

Time and DateNorth latitudeWest longitudeWind spd
1.Tuesday, Aug. 815°72°36 mph
2.Wednesday, Aug. 9, 8am14°75°40 mph
3.Wednesday, Aug. 9, 6pm16°77°52 mph
4.Thursday, Aug. 10, 8 am18°81°65 mph
5.Thursday, Aug. 10, 6 pm23°87°76 mph
6.Friday, Aug. 11, 8 am27°88°93 mph
7.Friday, Aug. 11, 6 pm29°92°112 mph
8.Saturday, Aug. 12, 8 am30°94°107 mph
9.Saturday, Aug. 12, 6 pm32°94°85 mph
9.Sunday, Aug. 13, 8 am38°95°35 mph

Now you are ready to plot some real hurricanes! Once again, you can download a hurricane plotting chart here.

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