Tag Archives: Homeschooling

6 Ideas for Nature Study in the Winter



The first dusting of snow fell last week, and today we have gotten several inches of the white stuff. My middle-school-aged son and I have been studying animals in science this year, so we are gearing up to have some fun with nature study in the winter. We have our bird feeders set out where we can see them from the warmth of the kitchen, and I am planning a hike or two as soon as it warms up just a tad. While spring and summer may seem like the optimum months for nature study, winter can be enjoyable, too.

Here are a few ways we enjoy nature study even when the temperature plummets outside:

  1. We put up bird feeders and keep a record of which birds visit our yard. We also like to experiment with different types of bird seed and feeders, to see which ones attract more birds. Right now, we have a clean vegetable oil bottle filled with regular bird seed and a suet basket.
  2. We check out animal tracks and compare them to our animal tracks guidebook to see if we can identify the animal that made each one. We see a lot of rabbit tracks in our neighborhood!
  3. Some years, we enjoy making temperature and precipitation graphs. We had so little snow last year that it wasn’t much fun, but we are off to a good start already this year.
  4. When it isn’t too cold out, we like using my son’s telescope to study the stars. We compare the stars that we can see in the winter to those that we normally see in the summer.
  5. We combine nature study and art by drawing winter landscapes. This is especially fun when we can take a trip to the lake and watch the geese on the water and the snow on the trees before we draw.
  6. When it is just too cold to consider going outside at all, sometimes we curl up with a good book about hibernation and stay indoors!

While it may take a little more planning — and a lot more clothing! — to do nature study in the winter, we feel it is worth it. With the fresh air, the peacefulness of being outdoors in the cold, and the different items to study, we have come to greet the first weeks of winter nature study like a long lost friend.

What nature discoveries have you found this winter?

Originally published at hedua.com.


Expanding Your Child’s Writing



How to Get Started With 4 Common Types of Writing

While not every child is destined to become a famous-or infamous-writer, everyone needs to write in a variety of writing typesduring his or her lifetime. From letters to speeches to reports, it is important to expose our children to a variety of types of writing. Here are descriptions and examples of four common types of writing: narrative, expository, persuasive, and descriptive, as well as some tips for getting started in teaching each style to expand your child’s writing.

Narrative Writing

Narrative writing tells a story based on a real or imagined event. Its purpose is to entertain. The primary goal of narrative writing is to relate a series of events. Narrative writing needs descriptive language and imagery to tell the story, in order to hold the reader’s interest.

Examples of Narrative Writing

  • Autobiographies
  • Biographies
  • Creative writing
  • Fiction
  • Epics
  • Epic poems
  • Fables
  • Fantasies
  • Folk tales
  • Historical fiction
  • Legends
  • Myths
  • Novels
  • Parables
  • Plays
  • Realistic fiction
  • Short stories
  • Tall tales
  • TV show scripts

Tips for Teaching Narrative Writing

Read a large variety of narrative writing to your child.

Have your child tell a story about an event that is meaningful to him or her.

Write down the five senses and ask your student describe aspects of the story that he or she can see, feel, smell, hear, or taste.

Ask your student to write details that make a word picture for the reader.

Have your child write a response to a piece of narrative writing, such as rewriting the story from another character’s point of view.

Use photographs as writing prompts.

Expository Writing

Expository writing is used to explain, describe, and inform. It requires strong organization in a logical order or sequence and often includes facts and figures. Expository writing is often formal, and casual language and slang is usually unacceptable in this type of writing. It does not contain personal opinions, but merely states facts.

Examples of Expository Writing

  • Blogs
  • Brochures
  • Business letters
  • Character analysis
  • Contracts
  • Diaries
  • Dissertations
  • Editorials
  • Encyclopedia articles
  • Flyers
  • Newscasts
  • Newspaper or magazine articles
  • Pamphlets
  • Policy manuals
  • Reports
  • Reviews
  • Speeches
  • Term papers
  • Text books
  • User manuals
  • Web pages

Tips for Teaching Expository Writing

Teach your child to organize his or her writing, perhaps using graphic organizers or outlining.

Read good quality expository writing to your child.

Ask your child to write about what he or she knows.

Begin by having your child write instructions or simple descriptions, such as how to make a sandwich.

Have your child write a comparison between two items.

Practice writing cause and effect pieces.

Persuasive Writing

Persuasive writing contains the opinions, biases, and justifications of the writer. It is used to persuade the reader to accept the author’s point of view, or to call the reader to action based on the writer’s opinions. Persuasive writing relies on specific details and examples for support, but does not rely on fact.

Examples of Persuasive Writing

  • Advertising
  • Book reports
  • Debates
  • Historical analysis
  • Letters to the editor
  • Literary analysis
  • Newspaper columns
  • Research papers

Tips for Teaching Persuasive Writing

Read a variety of persuasive writing, discussing the viewpoint and motivation of the author.

Discuss the difference between fact and opinion. Ask your child to label statements as fact or opinion.

Have your child write an imaginary letter to the editor on a current topic or interest.

After reading a piece of persuasive writing, ask your child to offer counterarguments to the author’s position. Then ask him or her to refute the counterargument.

Descriptive Writing

Descriptive writing focuses on describing a character, event, or place in great detail. It can be poetic in nature. The purpose of descriptive writing is both to inform and entertain. It attempts to evoke emotions. Descriptive writing might be used within any of the other three types of writing.

Examples of Descriptive Writing

  • Character sketches
  • Journal writing
  • Personal experiences
  • Poetry
  • Stories

Tips for Teaching Descriptive Writing

Read good quality descriptive writing to your child.

Read a plain sentence to your child. Then read the same sentence, but with a variety of descriptive words added. Discuss which one makes a better word picture.

Read descriptions in riddle form, and ask your child what the author is describing.

Create lists of descriptive adjectives and adverbs.

Blindfold your child, then have him or her describe items without using their eyes.

Take a nature walk, asking your child to use all of his or her senses when describing the experience.

Have your child look at the world from other points of view, such as from the top floor of a building or standing on a chair.

Exposing your child to a variety of writing can be a fun and educational experience for you both. What are some ways that you expand your children’s writing skills?

Originally published at hedua.com.

First Day of School Photos


We started school back in August, but with a high schooler and a middle schooler, this year just started off extremely busy, and I didn’t get our photos posted. So, here they are: First day of school 2015. Boo is a sophomore and Buddy is in the sixth grade. Time is flying by. I am so thankful to have the extra time with them that I get by having them home with me!

Buddy is a little taller than his sister now, which he is very excited about. But in this photo he  is taking full advantage of a hill and his tiptoes!




Sequential History



While I love homeschooling for the many benefits it offers my children, I am constantly amazed by how much homeschooling has profited my own education as well. For example, I’ll never forget studying ancient and middle ages history and discovering that there is a direct line between the early church apostles and the beginning of the Catholic Church. Our understanding of early history has been greatly enhanced by studying it sequentially. While this is certainly not the only way to go about studying history, it has worked very well for us.

So just what is sequential history?

Simply put, it is studying history in the order it occurred instead of jumping around to various time periods. Beginning with creation, it takes us four years to reach the modern day. Rather than studying Christian, American, or World History separately, we cover them all at once as we study a specific time period. While studying the 1700s, my children came away able to explainconnections between the American and French Revolutions that I had not understood as a high school student.

There are several advantages in studying history sequentially, including:

  • Understanding how Jesus Christ is an in integral part of historical events, as well as the role of the church in history.
  • Developing a clearer comprehension of how events in history fit together.
  • Making connections between the causes and effects of historical events, and between the consequences of historical events and events that are occurring today.
  • Creating a more global, rather than America-centric, view of history.

If you think that a sequential study of history might work for your family, here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Find a chronological list that covers major events in history. You can do this by searching online or using a world history book or encyclopedia.
  2. It is impossible to cover every historical event in detail, even when you are teaching sequentially. Choose the ones that are going to be most important for your children to understand and spend the majority of your time on them.
  3. Using a timeline helps reinforce your students’ learning. We’ve used a three-ring binder to contain our timeline, but other options include attaching butcher paper or a clothesline to the wall or using 3×5” cards filed in box. You can find historical photos online, draw your own, or purchase them. We use a set of beautifully-drawn timeline figures from Homeschool in the Woods.
  4. Use non-fiction books, such as the Dorling-Kindersley series, and good quality historical fiction to enhance your children’s understanding of historical events.
  5. Tons of notebooking pages can be found online, both free and for purchase. A notebooking page is a document, usually with lines, that includes drawings or photos of an object or occurrence. My children use these pages to record what they have learned about a historical event or person. We file them chronologically in a three-ring binder so that we can study them in order later on.
  6. Rather than just learning a series of events and dates, teach history as a narrative. Connect the events to people who really lived them. Read first-person accounts and autobiographies.
  7. Help your student make connections between events in history and current events by tracking them through time.
  8. If creating your own curriculum is overwhelming for you, a number of already-written curricula cover history sequentially. See below for several of them.

Ready-made curricula that follow history sequentially:

  • My Father’s World
  • Heart of Dakota
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • History Revealed
  • Story of the World
  • The Mystery of History
  • All Through the Ages

Originally published at hedua.com.

9 Ideas for Involving Dad in Homeschooling



How do you involve Dad in homeschooling?

While homeschooling certainly isn’t a gender-specific occupation, in many of the families that we know, the mom has the lion’s share of the responsibility for homeschooling. My husband’s occupation makes this necessary in our home, but it also has the unintended consequence of his being left out of a good amount of our day. Early on in our homeschooling, we began making a conscious effort to include him as much as possible.

Here are some strategies for involving Dad in homeschooling that we have used over the years:

Show and Tell. After my husband has had some time to change his clothes and move out of “work mode,” I encourage my children to show off some of their work from the day, especially if we have done a special activity. Art projects, science experiments, handwriting pages, and new reading material are all fun to show dad.

Supper Time Chat. My husband often spends part of our supper hour chatting with the kids about what they have learned during the day. He also enjoys quizzing them on spelling words or math problems. The children enjoy telling him about what they are reading as well, narrating Charlotte Mason-style.

Field Trips. We plan educational family trips for days that my husband is home from work. When possible, he also takes work off to attend field trips our co-op group takes as well.

Homeschool Activities. Our local co-op plans a variety of family activities throughout the year, such as a hay rack ride in the fall and a talent show in the spring. My husband makes every effort to attend these events. Not only are they fun for our whole family, but when we tell about this person or that at co-op, he knows who we are talking about.

Texts, E-mails, or Notes. When the kids were younger, and especially as they were learning to read, my husband would often leave them notes before he left for work. As they’ve gotten older, these have morphed into e-mails and texts as well. He encourages them to be diligent in their schoolwork and to obey mom, as well as letting them know he is thinking about them during the day.

Co-op Visit. We attend afternoon co-op classes once a week during the school year. My husband takes one afternoon off a year and visits our kids at co-op. They love having him there, and it gives him a better idea of what we are working on.

Dad-Friendly Classes. While my husband doesn’t teach any of our core classes, he does occasionally teach some elective ones. For example, he has given lessons in gun safety, carpentry, weight-lifting, and baseball.

Read-Aloud. Reading aloud in the evening, especially during the winter, has been a wonderful way to include dad in our homeschooling. (Tweet this!) My husband especially likes reading books to the kids that he enjoyed as a child, such as The Hobbit,Where the Sidewalk Ends, or Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Sports Activities. My husband works with our children on sports activities. Both of our children play competitive ball (softball and baseball). He spends time teaching them fundamentals, has coached their teams, and attends games.

While it takes some effort and time on both of our parts, including my husband in our homeschooling world has been well worth it.

What ways do you involve Dad in homeschooling at your house? Share your tips with us!

Originally published on Hedua.com.

Charlotte Mason Homeschool Method

Charlotte Mason Homeschool Method

Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the 1800’s. Her education methods went out of style in the modern school movement, but have been revived in recent years and have become popular in the homeschool world.


These are some of the important parts of the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy:

  1. Children are born persons; they are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and for evil.
  2. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life. Teachers use the child’s natural environment, disciplining of habits, and the presentation of living ideas in order to teach.
  3. Children learn to write by doing copywork, listening to good literature, giving oral narrations, and eventually writing written narrations and compositions. Students also write from dictation, read by the parent from quality literature.
  4. Lessons are short and pleasant, especially for young students.
  5. Students read “living books,” not “twaddle.” A living book is one that is written by someone who has a passion for the subject and is not condensed or altered. Twaddle would include most contemporary fiction series that talk down and undervalue the intelligence of the child.
  6. Art and music study are important parts of a Charlotte Mason education. Students are taught to enjoy classical music and famous artists in a gentle, natural manner.
  7. Student spend a great deal of time outdoors. Nature study is an important part of the school day.
  8. Handicrafts are taught in a Charlotte Mason school. This can be any number of activities, such as sewing, woodworking, gardening, and drawing.

Here are some examples of curricula and resources that follow a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education:

John Singleton Copley

Crestview Heights Academy John Singleton Copley

Self Portrait of John Singleton Copley

John Singleton Copley was born in Boston in 1738. He was the son of Irish immigrants Richard Copley and Mary Singleton. His father died when he was young. His mother married Peter Pelham in 1748. Copley showed an early interest in art, and he received training from his stepfather, who was an English engraver. Copley experimented with many media, including oil on canvas, miniatures on copper or ivory, pastel, and printmaking. After his stepfather’s death in 1751, Copley began a career as a mezzotint engraver, publishing his first portrait, Reverend William Welsteed , in his early teens. By the late 1750s he was well established as a portrait painter.

In 1774 Copley moved to London, then on to Italy, where he spent more than a year studying and painting. In 1775 he returned to London where he settled with his wife and three of his children, who had come from Boston. He exhibited two paintings, The Copley Family and Watson and the Shark, at the Royal Academy of the Arts (an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London), where their success earned him praise from reviewers and full membership in the academy. While he continued to paint portraits, Copley began to paint historical pieces as well. He took great care in creating these paintings, painstakingly researching in an attempt to make them accurate, with good likenesses and correct accessories.

Crestview Heights Academy John Singleton Copley

The Siege and Relief of Gibraltar

Copley painted portraits of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and others from Boston who visited England. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1791.

Copley died in London in 1815 after creating around 350 pieces of art.