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Mystery Biographies, Juggling Children, Question Box Ideas

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 21, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 58 July 21, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. :-)


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Notes from Heather
-- Mystery Biography Fun!
Helpful Tip
-- Juggling Children
Resource Review
-- Sally Clarkson's 'Seasons'
Reader Question
-- Ideas for a 'Question Box'?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Fun with Mystery Biographies!


A few years ago I stumbled upon a cool out-of-print softcover
book called "American's Great" by Gene Moss.

In the book there are 100 mini-biographical sketches that are
written in such a way as to disclose only a few details at a
time about the person -- so you have to guess who it is going
to be about! The stories start with more obscure, interesting
but little known, facts about the person... and they slowly get
more familiar. It is fun to see who can guess the mystery famous
person first! (One family member is designated to read so no
one can peek ahead -- and you'll probably have to really hide
this book in between game sessions -- it is addictive!)

Currently there are 95 used copies at Amazon.com -- starting at
only a penny each! Shipping is usually $4.00, so that would be
your only cost to add this very enjoyable 'game' to a family fun
night -- or just share one or two each evening during mealtime!

Here is a direct link:



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


Let the Games Begin at BRAIN-athon Emporium!

Looking for FUN activities that will truly ENGAGE your child
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software demo downloads right on my website.

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Email: MamaPow@comcast.net - Get the latest e-News


Helpful Tip

Regarding Teaching Multiple Grade Levels...
(AKA Juggling Children)


"I rotate them. I have a weekly assignment sheet so they see
what they will be doing for the week ahead of time (For my oldest
son he always wants to know). While I am with one, the other two
pick something on their sheet they can do alone. If they need
me and can't do anything on the sheet, they read a book. I also
try to do some fun things with all of us like any experiments,
spelling bee (different words for each of their grade levels),
and fun games. We use candy like Sixlets or M&Ms and diagram
sentences. Each color represents a part of speech. They get
the candy if they correctly diagram the whole sentence. We use
pennies for the spelling bee; for every round you get a penny.
Mostly I try to keep it fun but when one won't stay on task and
won't attempt to complete their work they get to work after the
other two are done. HOMEWORK!" -- KM, HomeschoolingBOYS.com member


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

Resource Review

Seasons of a Mother's Heart
Author: Sally Clarkson
For more information or to order:

I am THRILLED to have this book back in print! It is one of my
favorites -- one I have read about once a year during the past
decade I've been homeschooling.

Author and homeschool mom, Sally Clarkson, has written a timeless
book of encouragement for moms, especially homeschool moms, no
matter what season you are in. It's as if she is sitting at the
table over a cup of tea and sharing her own experiences, both the
struggles and the triumphs. Sally offers personal insight and
practical advice regarding the unique issues we face during each
season of our lives as wives and mothers - from living with
toddlers, to watching as our older children leave the nest.

'Seasons of a Mother's Heart' touches on so many topics that are
indeed close to a mom's heart -- including discouragement, moving
from one season to another, being a godly wife, keeping things
in balance, the effort and commitment required to homeschool/train
our children and more. I love her words of encouragement to put
our relationship with the Lord first, then to focus on our family
before outside interests. To build a home, one must be purposeful,
not letting yourself get so distracted by the many 'good' things
that you miss out on the BEST things. She gently instructs
her readers to choose to follow scriptural principles in order to
lay a strong foundation for the family.

At the end of each chapter there are several scriptures to consider,
along with room for notes -- and a few words of practical applica-
tion, which I found extremely helpful to move me from 'warm fuzzies'
to action. Gentle but firm in her convictions, Sally Clarkson has
given each of us a glimpse into her own heart, and she urges us to
use the mirror of God's Word to look into our own. Like a good
friend, this is one of those books you'll find yourself turning
to again and again.

Until next time --
Cindy Prechtel


Last Issue's Reader Question

"Next year I am implementing a 'question box', one for each child
(I have a 13 year old and a 4 year old -- both boys). In the
question box I want to put questions for them to find the answer
to (for the 13 year old it will require some research -- for the
4 year old it will his 'daily task'). Some of my ideas are
answering science questions, fixing punctuation, grammar and
vocabulary in a paragraph, geography questions, researching
authors works, and of course some living math problems. Oh, I'm
also planning on adding fun things like 'Math Immunity' for the day!

I could make up all my own questions, which it looks like I might
have to as I haven't been able to find a good resource to use.
I'd like something that has age appropriate suggestions and/or
divided by subjects or even an article that could contribute to
suggestions of what to put into a question box. Any suggestions?
Thanks -- homeschooling parents are THE best resource in the world!"
-- Lori D.

Our Readers' Responses

"Lori, you might see if you can find some children's trivia type
games. You might be able to find some at thrift stores or garage
sales, or you could ask around and maybe find someone who would
loan theirs. Trivia games provide many questions from various
categories. Another good source would be materials from Critical
Thinking Press. They have riddles, puzzles, and all sorts of things
covering most of the subject areas. You could also have them make
up questions to put in each other's boxes. And if you're really
brave, you could have a question box for them to put questions in
for YOU to answer, perhaps with a reward if they are able to stump
you." -- Mary Beth

[Editor's note: 'BRAINathon-Emporium', a new sponsor of our Notebook,
has been a trusted distributor for The Critical Thinking Company for
many years! Since Mary Beth recommended their materials, I asked
the owner, my friend Cindy Powers, to make some specific recommenda-
tions for Lori. Her reply follows. -- Heather]


"Oh, I have some WONDERFUL recommendations! And a lot of them
are on sale. There are printable sample pages right on my website
of every single title from The Critical Thinking Co. (marked 'TCTC')

Logic & Reasoning:

'Dr. DooRiddles' TCTC, without a doubt
'Dr. Funster's Think-a-Minutes' TCTC, a 'sampling' of brainteasers
from TCTC books
'Mind Benders Warm Ups' TCTC
'Stories with Holes'
'Red Herring Mysteries' TCTC

'Dr. Funster's Quick Thinks Math' TCTC
'Scratch Your Brain' TCTC

Language Arts:
'Spelling DooRiddles' TCTC

'Intriguing Questions' - 100 Intriguing questions for kids (and
'Whose Clues?' - 6 titles in the series. Each page includes 5
clues to the famous mystery person (real or fictional)

That's a good start! :-)

-- Cindy Powers


"I have used the three volume set 'Information Please' by Pat
Wesolowski for several years with my children. They have to use
things like a dictionary, encyclopedia, math facts book, cookbook,
etc. to find the answers.

Here are a few places that sell it:


It is a fabulous resource!" -- Jennifer R.


"This site has several questions in different subject areas that
might be helpful.


This is a site that links hundreds of educational sites.


You should be able to find many questions for both boys." -- L.W.


"Hi Lori! What a cool idea! Like you said, 'homeschoolers are
the best resources'. I have been browsing a catalog from Teacher
Created Resources, and I think they might have what you are looking
for. The prices in the catalog can be somewhat on the high end,
however, I actually receive the catalog from ABC Teachers Outlet.
They mark everything in the catalog 10% off (they may not carry all
items). You can find them at http://www.abcteachers.com -- Or call
them at 1-866-552-9590 and ask them to send a catalog. I would also
check Christian Book Distributors (CBD) -- they have some of the same
books at more reasonable prices. You can search for 'Teacher Created
Resources' which will pull up about 500 items. I did notice that
most of their prices are 14%-20% off retail. I personally like to
look through catalogs first, then just go to the website to place
my order." -- Kellie in NY

[Editor's note: Here is our special link to CBD - Homeschooler's
Notebook earns 12% of every sale when you use it!


Thank you for supporting our Homeschooler's Notebook! -- Heather]

Answer our NEW Question

"I have 3 daughters - the oldest is 7 and the twins are 5 1/2.
I have homeschooled since birth and accidentally the twins are
going to be doing second-grade work along with their big sister.
(I had let them 'play' kindergarten when my oldest was doing it
for real and when this year started I had planned on them doing
Kindergarten and my oldest doing 1st-grade, but the twins kept
up with the oldest.) So, my problem is one twin is very gung-ho
about reading, is doing the invented spelling and reading every-
thing she can see, my oldest is very uninterested in reading and
seems to have trouble even sounding out simple words and gets
discouraged when any of us try to help her, and the other twin
is kind of in the middle of the other two. We take turns read-
ing just a page or two from the simple readers, but it seems too
easy for one twin, just right for the other and too difficult
for my oldest. Any suggestions on how I should handle reading
time? I had thought about doing individual work, but the others
get jealous when I spend time with just one. Thank you for any
advice." -- Laura


Do you have a solution or some wisdom for Laura?

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!

Need Immediate Help?

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7
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and let them know that Heather sent you!

This ultra-safe chat is supervised by experienced moms who are
there to serve and share their wisdom... or just offer a listening
ear and encouragement.


[Note: This ministry is especially for Christian parents, but
all are welcome. Email Luanne@educationforthesoul.com if you
have any technical difficulties.]

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