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Cabin Fever Fun, A History Hobby, Juggling a Home Business

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, January 06, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 1 January 6, 2006
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2006 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Guest Article
-- Cabin Fever Fun
Helpful Tips
-- History Hobby
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information

Cabin Fever - by Karen Lange

Winter is here! Does anyone at your house have cabin fever? Here
are some ideas that might help ease the symptoms and revitalize
the learning process around your home.

Years ago I read about a homeschool mom who celebrated their
100th day of school. This mom would plan special games and
surprises for her kids to break up winter's routine. If you roughly
follow the public school schedule, the 100th day falls sometime in
February or March. If you do not follow it, think of another excuse
for a little celebration. The kids grow up quickly, so you might as
well enjoy your time with them as much as possible!

I decided to give the 100th day a try. Fun stuff that would fall in the
'educational' category was always a hit with the kids. Every year for
us was different; sometimes we would start the day with a little
math, English, or other project. Some years we wouldn't do any
bookwork at all. We would always play games; sometimes I would
plan a few in advance to sharpen a particular skill. And of course,
we always had snacks.

When the kids were young I'd give them stickers or some other
inexpensive treat. One time we had a treasure hunt, and the kids
had to solve the clues (with material taken from schoolwork) in order
to find the treasure. As the kids got older we'd go out for lunch, or do
a project that we'd been meaning to get to.

Often we would use the day to kick off a 'read-a-thon'. I started doing
'read-a-thons' to get the kids to read more independently. We would
set a goal - when they were young it was a certain number of pages.
As they got older, it was a certain number of short stories or books.
We chose a reasonable time frame in which to accomplish our goal,
and kept a chart of our progress. I made sure the time frame allowed
time for quality reading. I didn't want them tearing through books just
to say that they read them. I also participated because I wanted to
set a good example (and it didn't hurt that I love to read!). When we
met our goal, we'd have a little party, some other prizes or celebration,
like a fun field trip with friends.

Winter is also good time to work on a timeline. There are many ways
you can do this. One of my favorites is to do them on 3 x 5 index
cards and store them in an index card box. Have the kids draw a
picture on the blank side depicting the particular time period or event
(such as the Wright Brothers first flight). On the lined side, have them
write the date in the upper right hand corner and write a short descrip-
tion of the event on the lines below. Lay the cards out, either side up,
on a table, counter, or the floor to look at the timeline in chronological
order. This type of timeline is easily added to, as cards can be slid in
between each other. It is handy if you have limited wall space in which
to put a timeline, or wish to keep it in a compact space.

Kids of all ages and abilities can work on a timeline. They can illus-
trate it in cartoons, or with fictional scenarios, such as two historical
figures that lived at the same time but weren't likely to have met. The
more creative the kids are, the more likely they are to retain the infor-
mation. My kids did several cards for each historical unit study we did.
If they got stumped for ideas we looked through our books and other
materials for inspiration. A timeline need not be limited to the study of
history; all subjects have events, people, and contributions that can be

Perhaps these ideas won't excite your kids quite like when the circus
comes to town, but they might help break up a long day inside. Maybe
they will inspire you to make some hot chocolate or popcorn and make
a chilly winter day more fun!

About the author:

Karen Lange is the mother of three children (all homeschooled
K-12), a freelance writer and homeschool consultant, and the
instructor/creator of the Homeschool Online Creative Writing
Co-op. Visit her website at http://hswritingcoop.bravehost.com




[Here's your chance! Send YOUR ideas along to

Well, I didn't receive any tips from readers this week, so I will
share one of my own!

Need an inexpensive hobby that will occupy your child for hours
on end this winter? Make chain mail! That's right, the chain
linked "fabric" that knights wear. It is a relatively simple pattern
and even children as young as 8 can get the hang of it. While
some will be content to make simple chains, older kids will create
larger pieces to form into the various parts of a whole suit of
mailed armor. The bales of black wire are only $2.00 at Home
Depot or your local hardware store. The other tools would be a
small one-time investment. Basically, the wire is wrapped tightly
around a metal dowel and then links are formed by snipping the
circles from the coil that is created. My son uses a hand drill to
make it easier. Here is an animated picture that demonstrates
how this looks: http://www.chainmailman.com/img/anim/wind.gif

There are many ways to make your own rings! If you want
something lighter and easier to manage, you can even cut thin
slices of plastic PVC pipe and paint the links. There are websites
about the PVC technique. This might be a good option for younger
hands if you are sure to sand the links well. One way to sand
them is to put them in a bag of uncooked rice and toss them in the
dryer with the heat turned off.

But if you want to make the "real thing" out of metal links, here are
a few good websites to get you started:

(Click on "Mailmaker's Guide" at link above)





Do you have more ideas for inexpensive and creative winter fun?
Do you have a tip to make homeschooling a certain subject easier?

Send YOUR ideas/tips to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Last Issue's Question

Last issue's question was from Carolyn and regarded running a home
business while homeschooling. A specific problem cited was handling
phone calls with boisterous boys! Here are your answers for Carolyn.

[NOTE: My publication of these responses does not necessarily
mean that I endorse a product, activity, or suggestion.]


My husband & I ran our own business for about 15 years (Our
sons are 14, 15, & 16 now.) With 3 boys, they have extra energy -
that's a given... But with proper instruction & a little bit of their own
medicine, they can begin to understand the importance of being
quiet while someone (anyone) is on the phone. From the time my
little ones were 2, 3, & 4 - I could just raise my hand with one finger
raised, then two fingers raised, & if I had to raise that 3rd finger -
they would lose something... A toy, a privledge, a favorite dessert,
or they would get a timeout. When they got older and came into a
room talking, while I was on the phone, I would raise one finger,
point to them, & with my thumb give them the sign to leave the room.

I also took the time to explain to my boys when they were about 6,
7, & 8 why it's important to be quiet.

Explaining: If they were on the phone with their Grandma who they
were giving details to about what they wanted for their birthday &
some of their friends came in yelling and horsing around & having fun,
what would happen? Their Grandma wouldn't be able to hear him and
boom... She would be disappointed...

Explaining: If I'm on the phone with a customer and they came in, the
same thing would happen, but I may lose the customer thus not
making the money from that customer, thus not having the money to
pay for let's say: Food (no desserts or favorite food), Electric (no
computer, tv, heat, ac, refrigeration), Phone (no friends calling) etc.

When you explain things in their perspective, they can understand
more -- Christina in Florida


We don't have a home business, but the phone still rings and since
we live in Mountain Time, I often have to make phone calls during
the day concerning insurance or other matters to companies located
on the East Coast. So here's what I do with my two boys that has

Each of them have a list on the refrigerator of "school things they
can do on their own." It includes their handwriting book, spelling
workbook (just go to the next page), piano practice, computer pro-
grams for typing, foreign language, music theory or math drill, silent
reading, and art workbooks. It takes just a little bit of time to "prep"
these things, show the kids where they are located, and acquaint
them with their list. At our house, they are held accountable for
making the shift on their own when I get pulled away. This way no
chunk of a day gets wasted when things just happen. It also works
great for "teacher sick days!" -- Babette in CO


I have heard some good advice on this topic.
First, get set up with two distinct rings. You'd have a number for
business, and one fore personal, so you and the kids know before
you pick up, what is a business call.

If things are too wild, let voice mail take the call.

Having a cordless can also help, as you can walk away from the
noise to another part of the house, or even outside to limit the back-
ground chatter.

Have a box of toys/quiet books in a basket near the phone that you
only take out when you are in the middle of a business call. This is
to occupy the youngest...even a handy treat to keep their mouths
busy is worth it as opposed to sending them away to public school.

Keep your standards high for business calls. When you have to
beg off of an appointment, or return a call later, do not explain in
detail that the 4 year old has pudding all over him, or you are taking
kids to the physician. Just vaguely say you have a conflicting
appointment. Never make excuses for your kids; they are God's gift.
Do not talk them down or complain about them to others. They will
get the idea that they are too much trouble, and your business calls
are much more important than they are. -- Amy in Minnesota


The only way you can control children's poor behavior while you are
on the phone is to address it immediately when it happens. Then
eventually the problems should resolve. So if a client calls and the
kids start acting up, the mother should immediately tell her client,
"I'm sorry something has come up that I need to address right away,
may I call you back in just a few minutes?" Then she needs to dis-
cipline the boys. Perhaps put them in separate rooms with no toys
until she is off the phone, or in separate time out chairs, until she is
off the call. Then she needs to finish off the punishment, which
means adding chores, and/or taking away privileges. The chores
and/or punishments need to escalate every time it happens, until
there is at least a day that the problem doesn't occur. But watch
for recurrences. But in all fairness, she should sit them down and
talk to them BEFORE she implements this method. Also, she
might consider telling them that the punishment will be twice as
bad if it affects her working with a client. For example, if she
usually gives them a 10 min time out, then if she has to call a client
back, then it should be a 20 min time out. Other possibilities are
taking away whatever they were playing with when she had to
interrupt her call. If she cannot interrupt her call to address this,
then they will always know they can get away with things when she
is on the phone. IF she cannot address it when it occurs, then she
probably should consider either giving up her business, or home-
schooling...depending on her priorities. -- Sharon P.


I work from home and have 2 children. I am a counselor and do
direct marketing (flexible cookware). I also teach and lead groups
for my Bible Study, plus home school, of course.

The trick is to give the children equal time. You cannot expect to
spend 2 hours on the phone and they will entertain themselves. I
break down the work - 30 to 45 minutes or so doing calls, schedules,
writing, etc. It helps if they know when work time for Mom ends.
Then I spend time with the kids, such as school work or crafts or go
outside. When I taught in public school the kids went outside
regardless of the weather. Kids must run and move!

For time without me: we have a bounce around (those blow up things
for carnivals) but you could use a trampoline or let them ride bikes in
the garage (if it is safe). It is amazing what a cheap pop-up tent or
some blankets over a sofa will do for kids. Try this! This helps them
burn energy, use their imagination, and be distracted, so they will be
less rambunctious.

I also have mandatory reading/quiet time. It is good for them to be by
themselves. I started this when naps ended. Depending on the age,
they might be able to help with some work such as collate or file. It's
good training. Above all consequences! I need time to do things. I
do not react just because they say so. They must learn that just
because they are thirsty this does not mean I jump up and immedi-
ately grab them a cup of water. I do make sure basic needs are met
before I spend substantial amounts of time in "work" - so they have
had snacks, fluids, bathroom and then they must do the activity we
decide for as long as I decide. If a timer is necessary then so be it.
Timers help because they know there will be an end - most children
do not get the concept of time anyway. If they are warned more
than 2 times for interruptions, rudeness (whatever), then the third
time they are in their room and if necessary lose something (a toy,
TV, computer time, etc.) Hope this helps. -- Michelle in Oregon

This Issue's NEW Question!

"I'm looking into apprenticeship ideas for my son and daughter, ages
16 and 17, respectively. They have a wide variety of interests, but
I would like to help them find opportunities which will not only expose
them to new skills, but also apply toward credits on their high school
transcripts. Is anyone doing something like this with apprenticeships
or does anyone have suggestions for locating opportunities for home
schooled children? For instance, we have a few local dads who could
teach welding and a mom who caters. Is it appropriate to pay for the
training or to work in exchange? Anyone who has advice please send
it my way! Thanks!"


Do you have an answer?
Send your responses to: HN-answers@familyclassroomnet


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Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
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