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Christmas Fun, Scientist's Apprentice, Independent Learners

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, December 17, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 97 December 17, 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!




Notes from Heather
-- Crafts and Fun for Christmas
Helpful Tips
-- Fighting Kid Clutter
Resource Review
-- The Scientist's Apprentice
Reader Question
-- Motivating a 12 Year Old Son
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Here are some links to really cool Christmas/Winter crafts
to keep the kids busy! Some are very simple -- you shouldn't
need to go out and buy anything. :-)


Make Your Own Snow Globe

Q-Tip Snowflakes

Tin Can Luminaries

Glitter Star Window Clings

And here are some last minute 'mini-units' you can enjoy with
your children!

Christmas and Geography

Legend of the Candy Cane

Gingerbread Mini-Unit

Jan Brett's 'Wild Christmas Reindeer'


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



Helpful Tip

Fighting Clutter - One Mom's Solution

My good friend (Jodi W. in Iowa) sent me a blog link for this
fun and creative tip. :-) Thanks, Jodi!



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

Resource Review

The Scientist's Apprentice
by Hilary Welliver

More info or to order: http://www.brightideaspress.com/SciAppr.htm

If you've ever been apprehensive about teaching science, you need
'The Scientist's Apprentice'! With this resource you can teach
a year's worth of fun, hands-on science in a unit study fashion.
Perfect for inquisitive elementary students, this book provides
a well-rounded introduction to four exciting science topics:
Astronomy, Oceanography, Anatomy and Earth Science. The author
provides a list of recommended books to go along with each unit;
usually only one or two 'main books' are suggested, so feel free
to set your kids loose in the library to find even more books on
each topic. If you choose to use the suggested books, the author
provides a weekly reading plan including page numbers to go with
the week's lessons. There are four Magic School Bus books that
go along with the four units and these books are easily found at
the library (though they are not essential to using this curriculum
-- it can and does stand alone without any supplementary reading

'The Scientist's Apprentice' teaches kids the importance of making
observations AND recording them. To that end, they encourage keep-
ing a science journal, graphing results and more. Of course,
reproducibles are included in the book so your students have a
framework for keeping lab notes, observations, doing reports --
and there's even ready-made page for graphing.

A few of the benefits of this course are:

*Units can be taught in any order -- if your kids are interested in
Anatomy then start with that one!
*An extensive and thorough explanation of how the curriculum works
and tips for teaching
*Ready to copy worksheets, puzzles and other crafts
*A variety of poems, games and songs to help in memorizing facts
*Activities and printouts that appeal to a wide grade/age range of
*LOTS of hands-on projects and experiments
*Most experiments use items found around the house, other items are
easy to find at your local grocery or supercenter
*Plenty of background teacher information you need to know in order
to teach the subjects

Teaching in unit study fashion can sometimes be a lot of work for
mom; the author of this program has done the work for you! She has
laid everything out for you while still giving you the freedom to
add or subtract from the suggestions to fit your family's learning
style. It really is better than a textbook and easier than a unit
study! Written by a homeschool mom, this 200-page manual is a
science unit study you and your children will enjoy.

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I began homeschooling in September of this year. My oldest is 12
and a 7th grader. We have 4 children, but because of some circum-
stances, we decided to just stick with him for now. My husband is
deploying to Iraq in Jan for a 2nd time and well, it might be too
much for me the first year with him being gone.

Anyway, my son prefers to not have much lesson time. He likes to
get his assignments, read the materials and do any work that is
assigned. I get a bit frustrated with this, but when we do a
lesson together, he does not seem like he pays attention. A few
of his subjects are computer-based, and those he really likes.
We haven't done a whole lot of projects or things of that nature
yet, but I would like to start after Christmas. So my question
is really how do you get your child motivated? The subjects he
likes, he really does well. But those he does not, well, let's
just say he is getting by. I know he can do better, but he does
not seem to *want* too. The flexibility of homeschooling works
for us, as I work part-time, and he seems to learn better at his
own pace. He knows that we expect him to do his best and to
apply himself... but sometimes...!

I would greatly appreciate everyone's wisdom." -- Becky in ND

Our Readers' Responses

"When my oldest (who is 26 now and a graphic designer) was in
6th-7th grade, he didn't like me to sit down with him and go over
the work. He would always say, 'just give it to me, Mom, I can
read it and do it myself'. So I did. Through reading books about
learning styles, I discovered that he was a visual learner, not
an audio learner like myself. He did best reading on his own; I
just confused him. He made good grades. It is not always neces-
sary to go by the books and do all the lecturing if he can get
it by doing the reading on his own. If you see that he is under-
standing the work and doing it correctly, I wouldn't worry. Find
projects he can do by reading his own books or finding things on
the computer. My 10 year olds found a TV channel that teaches
how to make origami and they made boats and penquins without my
intervention at all! Sounds like your learning style is like
mine and we need to understand that there is more than one way
to learn. Relax and enjoy it!" -- Nona in Oregon


"I started homeschooling the year my husband first went to Iraq.
It can be quite a challenge to do so during deployments! Anyway,
I have a daughter who just turned 12, and has been homeschooling
for 4 years. I would venture to guess that the goal of many
homeschooling moms is to develop independent learners -- those
who take the books, do the assignments, and turn in the required
work, whether it is textbook, workbook, narration, projects, etc.
If your son is willing and able to do the work on his own, I
would let him.

One note: Make sure to keep him accountable. My daughter does
*not* like me to go over her math lesson as though she can't read
the book herself, but she sometimes does need help. So, when she
gets her assignment done, I only go over with her the things she
got wrong, or I ask her to do them again. We do not assign grades.
You either get it right, and learn the material, or you do not
move on.

As for projects, if they are outside of the core curriculum, you
could consider asking him to pick from a wide range of ideas, or
to develop one with you, so he feels like he is involved. My kids
have always been more excited to do something they like (bake
cookies, write their own stories without using my prompts, etc.)
than to have something I give them that is outside their interest
range. As long as they are busy learning the topic the approach
does not matter -- if it works for your son, and meets with your
approval." -- Anne M.


"Becky, it sounds to me as if your son is simply an independent
learner. He's at the age between boyhood and manhood, and it
could be that he is growing in his ability to lead, and wants to
be his own leader in his education. He will be the man of the
house soon, and if you allow him to cultivate skills of manhood,
he will be a great blessing to you while your husband is gone.
You might try to find ways of incorporating his less favorite
subjects into skills of manhood, and maybe he will be more moti-
vated to work on them. For example, if he tends to neglect math,
involve him in your financial affairs: he could help balance your
checkbook or help you with decisions concerning budget and spending.
Ask his opinion. I would say, let him direct his own program,
with your approval, and I think you'll be very pleased with the
results. I would also mention that all students learn better at
their own pace; your son is not unique in that area. That's why
homeschooling works so well." -- Mary Beth


"I too have 4 children, homeschooling 2 at this point. My 12 year
old son (he is in 6th grade - we held him back after we pulled him
out of the public school) and yours sound very much alike -- only
motivated in the subjects or areas they like. Well, I took that
and ran with it! Let him be a interest-led learner. Meaning -- if
there is a topic he likes let him learn all he can about it. Say
for instance he likes flying or flight. You could incorporate the
history of flight, reading all books about flight, searching the
internet (for computer work), or compare and contrast essays about
flight then and now. There, you have 3 subjects taken care of in 1
study. We use a unit study approach. I sit them down before
school starts and ask them where or what they want to learn about
for the year. My son is a kinesthetic learner (hands-on). I let
him learn about what he is interested in. Our struggle was English,
but I jumped into the world of notebooking. He seems to like that
much better and found out he loves to write poetry. Now he's rhym-
ing all the time! I guess my suggestion would be to sit down with
your son and jot down his likes and dislikes. Do you know what
kind of learner he is? That may come through when you find out
his interests.

From my son -- 'Once you find out what he likes, run with it. For
example, if he did a project on Mount Rushmore, a hands-on learner
may wish to sculpt it from paper mache, or he could build a model
out of LEGOs. Let him type his work on the computer -- maybe every-
thing for now.'

Some topics of interest to my son are: piano, Egypt, Colonial
America, inventors, how things work, space, most Geography (we are
doing a unit on Wisconsin), and drawing. He loves to do research
on the computer for many topics, and loves to read mystery books.
His love for reading has grown dramatically in the last year because
of his interest-led learning. Please pray for the Lord's direction.
He will guide you!" -- Kellie and son Dylan in NY


"My son is a very visual learner as well. This year we switched
to a computer-based curriculum -- Switched on Schoolhouse from
Alpha Omega Publishers. He likes the extra video clips and tutor-
ials. He also likes the instant feedback on how he did. I still
try to do reading and have him do writing in addition to his 'com-
puter work'. He likes it much better than the traditional style
of curriculum we did last year." -- Sara S.


"We all tend to apply ourselves to those things we enjoy more!
My son tends to be the same way. I try to allow him to work as
independently as possible. However, I also have explained to him
that I need to know he knows the material before moving on. That
means he either needs to write out answers or do reports showing
his knowledge; he needs to participate in discussion of the mater-
ial with me, or he needs to do a project that shows knowledge of
what he's learned. I give him the choice within those parameters.
If I really feel he needs to do something he doesn't care to do,
I push him a bit, but try to balance it in other areas -- and I
let him know that's what I'm doing so he knows I care and I'm not
just trying to be a mean mom. Also, I see nothing wrong with
offering some kind of small reward for putting his nose to the
grindstone and doing his best on something he doesn't care for.
We all have times when we have to do things we don't like, and
often we don't do it out of a great motivation other than a pay-
check or some other reward that we look forward to in the end.
Best wishes with your home schooling journey, and thank you, your
husband, and your family for sacrificing so much to protect this
great country of ours and our rights to do things like homeschool-
ing!" -- Lori in PA


"There are some people that just learn better on their own, without
the aid of a teacher. I am one of them. Evaluate the subjects
that he hates, and see if he even really needs them, and if so,
is there another method of teaching them? I have been exploring
the Charlotte Mason Method, and there are a lot of wonderful ideas
for teaching subjects that are not often enjoyed. My kids really
like our new ways of doing things. Go to your favorite search
engine and do a search on Charlotte Mason, and the Charlotte Mason
Method to see if you can find any ideas that will help." -- Laurel S.

Answer our NEW Question

Note: This question references a reader question from an October
issue of our newsletter. Answers to Trish's question and also
Michelle's comments ("Don't Kill the Clam") can be found in the
following issues archived at our Homeschooler's Notebook website:



"As I read some of the responses to Trish's dilemma, I felt a pang
or two. My son and I have been 'butting heads' for awhile now.
While reading Michelle's comments regarding her daughter, I wondered
to myself if maybe I need more info on what type of learner my son
is. How do you find this out? He loves high-tech things like robots,
plus he is into space adventures, etc. He loves playing with his
Mega-Bloks... and he can reconfigure almost anything he sees or reads
about (that he finds interesting). The basics he does NOT like --
grammar, math, history, etc. How can I get him 'on board' with this
journey? Thanks for any and all suggestions/responses."
-- Debora in Georgia


Do you have an answer, advice, or encouragement for Debora?

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

Ask YOUR Question

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!

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