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Spelling Fun, Where We Do School, First Lego League

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, September 01, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 35 September 1, 2006
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2006 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Helpful Tips
-- More Spelling Fun
Question of the Week
-- Your Questions
-- Your Answers
Editor's Pick
-- First Lego League
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information



Helpful Tip

More Spelling Fun

"I do something similar [to last week's tip] with my 12 year old
-- he also hates to write - I let him type most of his work on the
computer. We make up rap lyrics with the spelling words as we
march around the room/house and clap out the syllables. It gets
loud, but it works very well and he enjoys it! When I insist that he
handwrites something (like math problems) I have music playing.
We like classical - Tchaikovsky and Mozart especially."

-- Monique in Atlanta (HomeschoolingBOYS.com group)

"I would suggest trying spelling board games. You could also
play "Hangman," sing the words, dance/clap to the spelling of the
words, throw a ball back and forth to each other as you spell out
words, use magnetic letters on the fridge, write them in the dirt,
use sidewalk chalk, use Playdough/shaving cream, etc.

You could also let your child play some of the educational online




These are just a few of the many educational sites you and your
child may find to your liking! I would recommend you Google
"spelling games." -- Kristi (HomeschoolingBOYS.com group)


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

The Question

A few weeks ago on our HomeschoolingBOYS.com group, Tricia
asked the following question...

"We are currently finishing our basement and I have one room set
aside that will dual as a craft room, and will now be the new school
room. I think it would be great to have an area we go to for 'school'.
It might help with structure. I am a person who likes my order so I
really think I need a separate space where the kids can all go for
crafts, school, and homework. I hate having it spread all over my
kitchen at times. What do you all do?"

[Several of the answers we received are included below.]

The Answers

"Our family converted a spare bedroom into a classroom (I do
occasionally miss the spared bedroom, but consolidating the
school clutter is more important! LOL!)

Instead of school furniture, we opted for a large banquet-style
folding table (available at Costco, Sam's Club, office supply
stores, etc.) and some stackable chairs. We like this because
the boys can spread their things out over a large workspace,
and I can easily sit beside them. As for their supplies, I purchased
a 4-drawer carts with wheels for each of them. It's filled with all
sorts of pencils, paper, markers, and boys stuff - and it's THEIRS.
I love this set-up b/c it is flexible; if I need the room for our
portable bedding, then I can quickly fold down the table, stack the
chairs, and scoot the carts out of the way. We do the same thing if
we need to spread out over the floor to play games, etc.

As for stashing the larger "supplies" and "books", we bought very
inexpensive wooden shelves from the hardware store - they are
FUNCTIONAL, not fashionable. But a little paint, and you are set!

My favorite aspects about the classroom are both ideas from my
dear, sweet hubby. The first is a strip of 1ft x 1ft corkboard tiles
that wraps around the room. The boys hang their papers, reminder
"cheat sheets", etc. on the corkboard and literally surround them-
selves! LOL! The other MUST HAVE (in my own personal opinion)
is the large dry marker board. You can actually buy sheets of this
(large paneling-sized sheets) at big box hardware stores. We use
our dry marker board extensively!

We also put in some additional lighting -- school work needs to be
well-lit. Make your room a comfy place you WANT to be!" -- Cindy


"I used to have a special room for our daily lessons. I hated it!
I felt so confined and longed to be at the kitchen table. I finally
got rid of all my school desks and now we are ALL OVER THE
HOUSE! I love it! We do the bulk of our lessons at the kitchen
table. My boys will sometimes sit on the stair landing, on the
couch, behind the couch, in their rooms, on the porch, in their

My kitchen is usually cleaned up by 3-4pm and because most
meals (during the school year) are in the crock pot I usually
don't have a major problem with school taking over.

I do think it's fun to hear how each family is unique and special
in their HOME schooling journey. I hope your classroom works
for you." -- Rhonda


"I now have a closed in front porch that doubles as our craft and
school room. It looks more like a school because most of the
craft things are in cabinets. We are now blessed with built-in
cabinets with file drawers for each of my three kids with a laminate
top. It was a work station for nurses at the hospital where my hus-
band works. But before that, we had a large folding table for the
two older ones with the Rubbermaid rolling drawers for storage
and a bookcase and a small preschool table for the youngest. We
used stools then, now we have been able to upgrade to rolling
chairs. It's not a great big space, but it's just right. We even have
a dry erase board, a chalkboard and bulletin boards for their art
projects. It does help my children to focus and work more effec-
tively. They love showing off their classroom to their friends. I
think for them, it makes them feel like they are not so different
from their public schooled friends and vice versa. We are not
exclusively in there all day long necessarily. For reading and
taking tests my oldest prefers to go to her room. My son will do
that also, or go to the computer in the living room. My youngest
could live in their forever. It also helps me to be better organized
with the house (no school stuff all over the place) and with school.
I love it! I even have a desk and I can close myself in there to
work on school stuff or sew to my hearts content!" -- Tera


"We do most of our schooling outside. At a picnic table, in the
woods, on the front porch, etc. I do have a 'school room' set up
complete with maps on the wall, bookcases of endless books,
computer, etc. but we are seldom in it -- only on the most rainy
days or if we absolutely have to sit down to do something."
-- Tracy in South Carolina


"We have one 12 year old son left at home. We used to do school
all over the house. Our house is very small and I was forever having
to clear off the dining room table to serve dinner. My husband
bought a "tuff shed" with a barn style loft roof. We had it installed in
the backyard, finished off the walls and a heating system and lighting
put in. This was about 4 years ago. We love our schoolhouse!
There is a small love seat to sit and read together, one wall is all
formica counter, his old desk is in there along with 3 3x7 bookshelves,
2 wall length shelves for videos and reference books, plus the loft
where we used to store his musical instruments but now he has his
train sets up there. There are windows all around. It's beautiful.
My husband wishes he had one just like it for his office. It's a great
idea if you have the space. Our yard happens to be bigger than our
house. And my book collecting out grew the house. Now we have everything
in one place and a quiet retreat to do it in." -- Rebecca in Colorado


"We love doing school outside when the weather permits. I have
active twin 7-year-old boys, who listen to me read to them and
memorize scripture verses while swinging on their swings. We act
out poems, etc. on the trampoline (works real well for anything that
has to fall down or die!). They take "victory laps" around the house
when they finish a math page or read a book to me. Its lots of fun
for all of us." -- Chris in Wisconsin


"We've been homeschooling for 5 years and our first 2 yrs were in
an apartment so we just did school at the table (workbook stuff)
but pretty much all over the apartment. Then 3 years ago we
bought our first house and it has this wonderful efficiency apartment
with a built-in bookcase where in the middle we made desks for the
kids. The shelves are adjustable so that's nice. The room is an
L shape so on one wall we have the main computer then on the
other wall we have the other 2 not-as-nice computers but perfect for
the kids. The wall space is limited but still not bad. I love having
the actual school room so that most of it doesn't spread throughout
the house." -- Karie

Answer our NEW Question

"I have three children, a 7 year old, a 5 year old, and a 14 month
old. My question is how to deal with the interruptions invariably
posed by an infant while homeschooling. We have given it a trial
run this summer and as long as the baby was napping, everything
went smoothly. When she was awake, the instruction seemed
disjointed and disorganized and took much longer than I wanted it
to. However, we have gotten a lot accomplished. My 5 year old
has learned to read in about a month and a half of focused atten-
tion. The baby is VERY active, resists a nap schedule and is not
as willing to entertain herself as my older two children were. With
homeschooling, housework and other activities to fit into a day, I
am having a hard time seeing how we are going to get much
accomplished! I am trying to combine the instruction for the 5
year old and 7 year old as much as possible, but there are some
things a second grader and kindergarten age student can't do
together. Any suggestions will be much appreciated." -- Jennifer


Do you have some wisdom or practical advice for Jennifer?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net


Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

Editor's Pick

First Lego League - Robotics

This year my 14 year old will participate on a HOMESCHOOL
team for First Lego League. Perhaps you can find or start a
homeschool team in your area!

"An international program for children ages 9-14 (9-16 in Europe)
that combines a hands-on, interactive robotics program with a
sports-like atmosphere. Teams consist of up to 10 players with
the focus on such things as team building, problem solving,
creativity, and analytical thinking. Each September, a new Chal-
lenge is unveiled to FLL International teams across the world.
Over the course of 8 weeks, they stragegize, design, build, pro-
gram, test and refine a fully autonomous robot capable of com-
pleting the various missions of the FLL International "Robot Game"
Using the LEGO MINDSTORMS technology. They also search
the web, talk to scientists, visit the library and develop compelling
presentations based on the FLL International "Research Assign-
ment", which relates to a problem or opportunity facing the world


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