"" -- A Homeschooler's Notebook Subscriber.
An interactive, FREE, twice-monthly ezine packed with great reader tips, reviews, & practical encouragement for homeschool families.


Some of Our Sponsors


Landry Academy

Math Mammoth

Great Homeschool Conventions

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

Resource Links

All About Spelling
Homeschooling ABCs
Upper Level Homeschool
FIRETIME Notebooking
FREE Funschool Units
Homeschooling Help
More Homeschooling Help
HS Gifted and Talented
Homeschool Country Life
Beloved Books & Audio



Fitness Feedback, Find the Constellations, Is Grammar Important?

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, December 08, 2006

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 7 No 58 December 8, 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!




Notes from Heather
-- Fitness Feedback
Helpful Tips
-- Finding the Constellations
Winning Website
-- EduScapes
Reader Question
-- Is Grammar Important?
Additional Notes
-- Archived Newsletters
-- Email Support Group
-- Sponsorship Info
-- Reprint Info
-- Subscriber Info

Notes from Heather

Fitness Feedback

We had some wonderful reader emails after our 'fitness' issue! I'm
including below some of the great ideas and helpful encouragement
our readers shared. Thanks to those who wrote! -- Heather


"I moved my treadmill from my bedroom, where it had become the
best place to hang clothes and pile up clutter, to the back porch,
where it is now being used frequently! When my children (ages 10,
9, 7, 5, 5) are playing in the backyard, I can walk on the treadmill
and watch them at the same time. It is easy to squeeze in a 30-45
minute walk without any extra effort, since I would be out there
anyway! The added benefit is that the children can see that exercise
is a priority for me, too, and on the days that I am feeling lazy, one
of them is sure to ask me 'Aren't you going to walk on the treadmill
today?' -- A big reminder to walk!" -- Monique B., San Antonio, TX


"Our family enjoys physically challenging activities together. For
instance, we all take Tae Kwon Do. My oldest daughter is a black
belt, and we are coming up behind her. We also like to ride bikes
in nice weather (most of the time, here in Texas).

For us, the key has been making it a family activity. It is easier to
commit to, and 'fit in' the schedule that way. A year after the birth
of my fifth child, I was 50 pounds over weight and had vigorously
avoided exercise for most of my adult life. Changing our family life-
style wasn't difficult - but changing my way of thinking and doing was.

I started TKD with the kids, went on Atkins and feel better than ever.
I have more energy and stamina for my children now, and they have
the benefit of seeing a healthy lifestyle in practice from their
parents." -- Trish Bevill


"Find someone to be accountable to. I am often going to physical
therapy for my neck and my physical therapist keeps me accountable for
my excercise. I never know when he will ask me if I've been faithful
to do my walking, so I try to keep up with it because I don't want to
be embarrassed by having to say I am not doing it. Maybe you can find
a friend who will keep you accountable like this.

Another idea for those rainy too cold days to go out is to get a small
rebounder trampoline for indoors and jog on it. I put disco music on
my MP3 player and jog away to the beat of the music for 15 to 20
minutes." -- Marsha


"Everyone says it, but morning is the best time. Everyone else is too
tired to sidetrack you. Exercise videos are great. You can find plenty
of them that are only 30 minutes and if you look for ones that have
strength training and aerobics together, you can maximize your time.
Collage Video is the best resource www.collagevideo.com

I like to get up early enough to be able to do a video, get the cobwebs
out and then do my devotions. It was a struggle at first, but if you can
make yourself do it for at least 30 days, it will become a habit. Now
I feel bad if I have to miss because of illness or some other emergency.

If you don't like videos, try Jorge Cruise's 8-minute fitness books
(www.amazon.com). They're a great way to get started. Eight minutes
of strength training and a walk and you're done!

Don't rule out walks with the kids. When mine were little, one rode in
the stroller, one in a backpack, and I used one hand for the dog. We
walked everywhere: library, grocery store, Grandma's house. Park
farther from the store when you run errands. Take the stairs whenever

My husband and I joined a program at our local hospital where a
personal trainer helped us with exercise plans, food choices and
stress management. If you aren't able to get a personal trainer,
get a buddy (husband, other homeschooling Mom, etc.). You may not
be able to work out together, but having someone to hold you
accountable helps.

Keep a food dairy. You'll be shocked at how many 'treats' and other
bad choices are made. Try to keep desserts and treats to 1 or 2 a
week and add more vegetables, fruits and high fiber foods.

Don't give up! I got sidelined by an arthritic hip and it took two
years to lose the weight and get back on track. Plus I had to find
something to replace my hour long walks -- too tough on the hip.

Most important, take your concern to God. He's as concerned
about our health as we are (after all, we're his temple). Pray and
ask him for ideas and motivation." -- Liz


"I started working out with Denise Austin 2 years ago and I loved
the feeling so much my husband let me get a gym membership.
I love the gym because its my time and I am alone without the
kids or interruptions. The main thing is to do something 20 to 30
minutes a day, or, as Denise says, break it up in increments
throughout the day. Even the strength training is fabulous!!

Hey ladies, this is where I get my energy. When I first had my
3.5 year old I had no energy to keep up with him and I am 47
years old. Working out has saved my life and health (I have
degenerative disc disease). The best part is the stretching; I love
it!! Go to it -- you deserve it. Call it your allowance!!" -- Millie J.


"I too have difficultly implementing exercise into my daily homsechool.
However, my biggest motivator is that knowing I can still wear all my
clothes and I will be in great shape for myself! I have started getting
up every morning 30 minutes early and exercising. I only have 30 minutes
and I devote that for myself. My kids need a healthy and happy
mom/teacher. My kids have taken it upon themselves to get me a glass
of water in the mornings during my program. I think that it is essential
that you find a program that interests you. I love Tae-Bo! It works
great and they have many different videos. You have to take time out for
yourself, if only 30 minutes!! I have a treadmill but, I still love the
cardio and target exercising from videos. Also get you some handweights.
Weight training has proven to be more effective than cardio alone. Try
30 minutes a day and over a period of at least 6-8 weeks you will see a
change. The first step is knowing and then doing something about your
health." -- Dana S. in NC


[Editor's note: My friend, Melissa, suggested a really FUN idea, too!
Some rollerskating rinks have days/times open for parents to push a
stroller while they skate. When her children were all young, she'd put
3 babies in a double stroller and then one child would skate holding
onto the stroller! Great exercise but then there is all the work just
getting out the door... LOL]

Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

"I have never been able to find the constellations, a certain star or
the planets. Granted, I know that stars twinkle and planets shine
but I don’t know where each planet should be in the sky at any given
time. Well, at least I used to not know.

Recently, I found a program called Stellarium. It is a wonderful
program that allows the user to input their location and then… It
happens! The program generates a real time look at the sky. It will
list planets, nebulas, constellations, stars, etc. With a single click
of the button, you can see what the constellation looks like, how it
is drawn in the sky, zoom in on planets and see the actual phases
that planets and the moon may be in. It demonstrates what the sun
looks like with and without atmospheres. For so small a program, it
is power packed.

If you would like to learn more, go to www.stellarium.org. There you
can find screen shots and detailed information about the program.
Now here is the best part... it is FREE! No strings attached. We
have been using it for months now and we simply love it. I hope all
of you will enjoy it as well." -- Kathy in SC


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

Winning Website

EduScapes: A Site for Life-Long Learners http://eduscapes.com

This site features resources to help teachers teach literature, use
technology and other classroom helps, as well as providing information
in over 200 topic areas with definitions, photos, links and activity
suggestions. Use the already created webquests on the topics they've
selected or learn to create your own! Younger students will need you
with them, but middle through high school students can do the exploring
on their own. There is a LOT of information on this site, so don't let
that overwhelm you -- just dive in and look around. I bet you find some
real gems for use in your homeschool :-)

-- Cindy, Homeschooling From the Heart


**Through December 12th**, place an order of ANY size and receive
6 FREE gifts valued at over $45! As an additional bonus, all orders
over $75 will receive the book "When Homeschooling Gets Tough"
by Diana Johnson. Click the link below for ALL the details!


Last Issue's Reader Question

"How important is learning English grammar, beyond the basics of
noun, verb, adjective, adverb? My 11-year old son detests learning
about helping verbs, linking verbs, verb phrases, and all the nitty-
gritty of grammar. I don't think it's sticking in his brain at all,
and I'm beginning to think it's ridiculous to keep trying to force it
into his (sometimes thick, lol) head." -- Linda in Colorado

Our Readers' Responses

"Grammar is important to communication, but it can be a bit
boring or tedious to learn. I found a book that made grammar
fun for me -- it is titled 'Eats, Shoots, & Leaves'. It covers how
grammar changes the meaning of a word, phrase or sentence
in funny & unintended ways. (The title refers to Panda bears
-- they eat (bamboo) shoots & leaves but with the commas in
place, the malicious panda eats, shoots (as with a gun), and
leaves (the scene of the crime).

Also look into the style of jokes that use grammatical errors as
their 'punch line'; my boys love to tell jokes." -- Tricia in NH


"I only have a few words of advice. :-) Easy Grammar and
Daily Grams... These are straight and to the point and they helped
us through the boredom of learning some of this subject." -- Gina


"When I think about all the time my teachers spent teaching me
parts of speech and how to diagram sentences, I pity them for so
much time wasted. I don't EVER use this information in my day
to day life and I never will! Yes, there are grammar rules and there
are reasons we label parts of speech, but learning for the sake of
learning them is not the point. We learn this information so that
we know how to write and speak in a clear manner, so that we are
understood by all the other people who speak the same language
we do. The mechanics of communication are best learned by
communicating! Writing and speaking are the best ways to
become proficient at using the English langauage. When your
child writes something, correct his grammar and explain to him
the mechanics of sentence structure. Have him write a speech
and deliver it, offering ideas for improving his usage of language
at the end. Hearing English spoken correctly is the best way to
learn how to use English correctly. Children naturally know how
to speak the language that is their native tongue. One of the
reasons people are taught to diagram sentences in school is
becasue teachers have to do SOMETHING to keep all those kids
busy during the 60 minute English period. We have the luxury
of not forcing our children to waste their time doing something,
just to keep them busy, that has no bearing on their future ability
to be a worthwhile human being. Communication is a Life Skill
that all children need, and will be rquired to do throughout their
life. I have never once been asked by an employer to diagram
a sentence, or to tell them what a prepositional phrase is (or
where it belongs in a sentence). I have however been required
to communicate clearly and effectively in writing and through the
spoken word. The way that I have learned to do this best is by
doing it!" -- Jennifer in NC


"Since the grammar of the English language is the basic means
by which we communicate, I believe that a study of English
grammar is immensely important. Yes, I know that people can
communicate without knowing the difference between indicative
and subjunctive modes or what a gerund is, but there are times
when the need to be precise in communication makes a know-
ledge of those things very helpful. Having said that, I do under-
stand that the nitty-gritty details of grammar often do not stick in
a young child's mind, so the way that it is presented can be
important. Speaking from experience, I would say that it is good
to be going over the details of English grammar frequently during
a child's elementary and high school years, but this can be done
without a lot of hassle in memorizing, intensive review (cramming),
and testing. Rather, if we just keep going over and over and over
it again and again, even on an informal basis, it will eventually
sink in." -- Wayne W.


"I guess my first question would be, how well does your son use
grammar? If he is capable of using grammar correctly, without
knowing the 'proper names' of the word parts, then I would skip
it for a year or so. If he needs work on his grammar usage, then
maybe you could try a different tactic -- try dictation, for instance,
using the classics he might be interested in, or even a newer
popular book that uses grammar correctly. Remember, home-
schooling is about the individual student, and you can cater to
his needs in every subject. That's what makes it work!"
-- Val in Illinois


"Yes, it's important to understand how our language works. If you
can find the game Mad Libs, which is in notebook form, he will
really WANT to know what all these things are. This is a fun and
funny game, and it's fun to play anywhere. You can even play it
with him while you're driving. My 9 year old knows the parts of
speech because she has played the game for several years with
older sisters. When she was very young, she would have to ask
what each part was every time she came across it, but that's fine.
When playing this game, as I said, they WANT to know it!!" -- Debi


"I think English Grammar is very important, but I sure understand
that most boys do not! I suggest using a CD called GrammarSongs.
It comes with a workbook; you can use the workbook or not. I'd use
it only a little at a time. I also suggest trying your best to make
the lessons very short and sort of *fun*. Remember, homeschooling is
one-on-one tutoring, and you can get more across in two minutes
this way than a teacher can in 45 minutes trying to teach a whole
classroom. Make sure you have your son's attention, even if that
in itself takes a few minutes. Try making a game of it, like using
the wrong kind of verb or pronoun or whatever... see if he notices.
Try to determine if he connects more to these concepts visually,
auditorially (listening), or kinesthetically (with movement). Or try
writing your own paragraph with some obvious mistake in it. See if
he can catch them. Then tell him WHY they are mistakes. Praise
him for knowing the right way, then teach him the name for the situ-
ation. I hope these ideas help to make a very dry subject come to
life. In the end, we want to raise good, intelligent communicators."
-- Cathy


"Grammar is important for at least two different reasons. First,
everyone needs to be able to use correct grammar in order to speak and
write well. No matter how brilliant an idea or argument is, if the
grammar with which it is expressed is poor, it won't sound convincing.
I think the best and easiest way to learn grammar is simply by reading
A LOT of good books. It's a natural, painless way to develop a more
intuitive awareness of how grammar is used.

Regarding the more formal method of learning grammar: although it seems
like there is no reason why we should be able to identify and correctly
use personal pronouns, the subjunctive case, direct vs. indirect
objects, etc., it is necessary to know all of that stuff in order to
learn a foreign language, which your son will probably have to do

Maybe you could skip the formal grammar lessons for now, and instead
have your son spend that time reading. You could pick out a bunch of
books (fiction and non-fiction) for him that aren't too simple, and out
of that pile, have your son choose the ones that he wants to read. Give
it some time, and when you do go back to the formal grammar, it will
probably be a lot less boring for both of you." -- Sherry L.


"MadLibs are rather painless for learning some of the parts of speech.

When teaching a foreign language, a lot of English grammar sneaks right
in, also." -- Robin S.


"Have you looked at Easy Grammar by Wanda Phillips? It is still
grammar, but so easy and quick lessons." -- Aleta S.

Answer our NEW Question

"I read many stories about outstanding, homeschooling kids who
score high on the ACT's and other college entrace exams, and are
doing so great in college. This is wonderful!

My question is, what about the homeschooled young people who do
NOT score high on the ACT, and who struggle academically but who
really want to go to college? It's natural that they want to get out
and meet other young people. After age 18 most young people are
not content to stay at home.

And we wouldn't want that forever, either. Is college closed to these
kids because they are not good in some academic area which pulls
down their ACT score?" -- JS in Utah


Do you have an answer or some wisdom for JS?

Please send your email 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!

Our Searchable Newsletter Archive

Access the Homeschool Notebook issues you have missed...
or search on a specific word or phrase in issues all the way
back to January 2001! Just go to this link:


Interactive Email Group

In an effort to help our readers become more of an interactive
community, we have set up an email loop at YahooGroups called

Here is the link to sign-up!



There are opportunities for you to be a sponsor of this
newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
marketing@stretcher.com with "Homeschoolers-Notebook"
as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
become a part of this ministry!


All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
consent. It is assumed that any questions, tips or replies to
questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
the "Homeschooler's Notebook". [Occasionally your contribution
may have to be edited for space.]

Again, I welcome you to the group! Feel free to send any
contributions to HN-articles@familyclassroom.net or

Our main website is:

We also sponsor an incredible site with over 1,500 pages of helps!


This newsletter may be copied in its entirety without special per-
mission. To use any single part of the newsletter, please direct
your request to: Heather@FamilyClassroom.net


To subscribe, just send a blank email to the following address:

To unsubscribe send a blank email to the following address:


Next - Christmas with Toddlers, College for 'Average' Students
Previous - Practical Fitness for Moms... and Rainy Day Fitness for Kids!

     Site content copyright individual contributors and FamilyClassroom.net 2001-2011 - Digital duplication expressly prohibited.
Privacy Policy | Advertise