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Holiday Traditions, Playing Board Games, Living Math!

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, December 07, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 94 December 7, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
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Notes from Heather
-- Readers Share Holiday Traditions
Helpful Tips
-- Choosing and Playing with Board Games
Winning Website
-- Christmas Geometry!
Reader Question
-- 'Living Math' Method for 12 Year Old?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?


"One of my favorite traditions involves an ornament on our tree.
It's a simple, small mason jar with holly berries glued around
the top, and it hangs from a branch by a metal wire (you can
actually buy this jar at Michaels Arts and Crafts right now for
$2.99). We typically put our tree up the weekend after Thanks-
giving and my son hangs this special ornament low on the tree
where he can reach it because he knows that every morning a
special treat just from me appears in this jar for him. Treats
range from a lollipop... to a matchbox car, or even notes of praise
over a job well done. The treats are usually small and very
inexpensive and I do this every day until Christmas when the tree
comes down. He absolutely loves this time during the morning
and I love hearing him scamper into the living room and exclaim
with glee over his new found treat. Surprisingly, it's not the
toys or candy that he gets the most excited about... it's the
coupons to stay up an extra half hour that night or the chance
to plan our menu for dinner." -- Harmony in Florida


"We decorate the tree (not a real one, but that's okay with us)
Thanksgiving weekend. That gives me an extra day to get it done
and not stress out with school! I make sure we have special food
and Christmas music to celebrate when we are all finished. We
then have the whole month to enjoy. We enjoy the Christmas season
by going to specially lit neighborhoods and seeing the decorated
homes. There is a lot to do in our city, so we pick a few and
make the most of it! The Saturday before Christmas we get together
with my husband's family, where we've drawn names for gifts and
have a fabulous dinner. Christmas Eve is with my siblings and
their families, and we always enjoy our church's children's program
and candlelight service! Christmas day is ours and any extended
family that wants to is welcome to come over. Family is the
emphasis and I am blessed with a wonderful extended family on
both sides!" -- Nona in Oregon


"We put our tree up Thanksgiving night. We celebrate St. Nick
day (Dec. 6) by touring the town to look at Christmas lights,
and when we get home there are new PJs or a treat in their stock-
ings. After this we fully focus on JESUS. We read Christmas
books aloud each night, watch all the Christmas specials on TV,
eat popcorn, bake cookies, and have boiled custard and hot cocoa.
We participate in our church Christmas program. Each year in
our city, we 'travel' to Bethlehem Marketplace -- a church turns
their gym into Bethlehem with actors in full costume and it's
like you step back in time." -- Cindy


"My favorite holiday tradition is reading through a book called
'25 Days to Christmas' and the accompanying Scriptures, revisit-
ing with my children the prophecy regarding Christ and its
fulfillment when He was born. I also do a lot of baking, for
our family and as gifts, and now that my 6 year old daughter
really enjoys baking with with me, it makes that tradition
even more special." -- Jennifer


"We have many traditions that center around the Christmas season,
but my favorite is visiting the children's floor of our local
hospital on Christmas Eve. When my son, who is now 13, was only
a few weeks old he had to be checked into the hospital on Christ-
mas eve for a condition that later turned out to need surgery.
While we were there he received gifts donated from local organiza-
tions and families. We were so touched by this that every year
since then we have gone to the hospital with a small bear and
given it to the littlest baby on the floor. My son has learned
a lot form this over the years (he was just one when we started)
and it truly gives us the feeling of it being better to give then
receive!" -- L.P.


In the next issue I'll share more from our readers. Yolanda in
Indiana wrote to tell us about what she does to make things less
stressfull... plus she has some great holiday cookie recipes! Yum!

Do you have something to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net

Please put "holiday traditions" in the subject line. Thanks!


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Helpful Tip

Tips for Choosing and Playing with Board Games


I wanted to mention a website owned by a Christian couple in
Southern California. They have an excellent educational games
website. They have tested and tried all the games offered.
They homeschooled their children years ago. They are very
friendly and warm and will answer any questions you have.


Here are some pointers she gave me for choosing board games
for our children:

When choosing games for your children, keep in mind:

1. What is the learning style of your child?
2. Don't buy games that only you, the parent, would enjoy.
3. If the game ends up not being fun, feel free to change
the rules to make it fun.

*Learning Styles* (From: *Discover Your Child's Learning Style*,
by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson)

Performing Disposition: Move
Producing Disposition: Organize
Inventing Disposition: Discover
The Relating/Inspiring Disposition: Interact
The Thinking/Creating Disposition: Create

*Educational Games for Fun and Learning* compiled by Paul Munger.
It has a game index to help you effortlessly find games that are
suitable for a particular learning style or grade level.

*Rules for Using Games*

1. Never label a game "educational"
2. Parent should always play (at least at first)
3. Keep it fun
4. Know the game before you call the kids
5. Play often
6. Have a variety of games

*Adapting Games to Fit Your Family*

1. Have a partner help young players
2. Use games with a wide age range
3. Change the rules to suit your needs
4. Play for a specified length of time or play in segments
5. Allow children to invent their own way to play
6. Rotate a choice of games so everyone gets to choose a favorite
7. Keep learning styles in mind when choosing games

-- Contributed by Aimee M. - HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group


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

Winning Website

Christmas Geometry Anyone?

Print out the cool shapes at this website (PDF versions) on card-
stock, follow the directions to assemble, and then decorate with
trimmings, photos, etc. (or color with markers) to make some real
'conversation piece' Christmas ornaments. Cool stars here, too!


"Polyhedra are beautiful 3-D geometrical figures that have fasci-
nated philosophers, mathematicians and artists for millennia. On
this site are a few hundred paper models available for free."

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have son who is 12 years old and is a visual-spatial learner.
I am really thinking about implementing a living math method
instead of just using a textbook, which he usually finds boring.
I was wondering if anyone here approaches math in this way and
how do you do it? Could anyone give me a sample 'schedule' of
how they structure it? Would love to hear from anyone with some
advice in this area." -- Heather L.

Our Readers' Responses

"Heather, I think you'll find that if you implement a living
math method (which I highly recommend!), you will find that much
of it will be unstructured, as you will be allowing your real
life experiences to provide most of your material. Most real
life experiences aren't predictable. Your son might be earning
money of his own, which is a great place to start. If he's earn-
ing money from you, I would suggest that you add to his wages
insurance, taxes and maybe some type of retirement -- then with-
hold them from his pay. He would help you figure how much to
withhold. You could set up a savings program with him, paying
him interest on his investments. He should have a real bank
account, write real checks, make real deposits and keep his
account balanced. Help him shop around for a bank which will
give him the lowest cost service -- least minimum balance
requirement, free checking, etc.

Each month choose a financial situation and have him do a mock
project on it. For example, have him imagine that he is shopping
for car insurance or health insurance. He would call several
insurance agents and ask them what coverage they offer and what
the premium would be. He should tell them up front that it is
a school project and ask them if they are willing to help with
it, so that they know there will be no actual sale, and that
they are donating their time. Other ideas for mock projects
might include stock market investments; income tax; house or car
purchases; price comparisons of groceries, furniture or clothing;
household budgeting or things of that nature.

One year we had our children build bird feeders, and feed various
kinds of bird seed, measuring how much of each kind the birds
ate. They then formulated a bird seed mix customized for our
area. They used lots of math skills.

If you know a trustworthy person who uses math in his work, you
could try to arrange for your son to spend a day or two with him
on the job. Carpenters, accountants, bankers, farmers, merchants,
and mechanics are some ideas.

Have him help you pay your bills, balance your checkbook, and
allow him to sit in on your own financial discussions. As he
does these things, you'll easily recognize when he needs to learn
a new math concept, and you can then provide a more structured
time for him to learn it." -- Mary Beth


"If you will go to your favorite search engine and look up the
Charlotte Mason Method, you will find some wonderful articles about
how to approach all subjects in a more relaxed and effective way.
Since we have implemented these methods, my children have been
learning faster than ever before, and are far happier. For one
thing, I have always used math games and software that is fun for
my kids. We do have math textbooks that we rarely use, and if we
do, we do as much as possible together, which enables me to teach
as we go. We do more hands-on activities than anything else, because
it is my belief that the majority of children learn and retain best
by doing, rather than by reading or hearing about it. Remember that
there is little if anything in this world that we can do without
some type of math, so allowing your children to participate in the
figuring, plotting, planning, and measuring of any activity or outing
will help to strengthen problem solving skills. For example, which
brand of peanut butter is the best buy? Why or why not? If we only
have $100 to spend in this catalog, what could we order? If you have
a $20.00 allowance, can you purchase a $100 toy, or are you going to
have to save some money toward that toy? How long will it take?
These are all math lessons that everybody needs to learn, and they
are not best taught from a book." -- Laurel S.

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believe in all the positive things that home schooling has to
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environment than others?" -- Shannon M.


Would you like to answer Shannon's question?

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Next - Holiday Prep, Pre-Cursive Writing Tip, What Kids Do Well?
Previous - Holiday Stress, Cool Science Gift Ideas, What Makes an 'A'?

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