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Mystery of History, A Child's Geography, Microscope Buying

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 28, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 60 July 28, 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!




Notes from Heather
-- Mystery of History
Helpful Tip
-- Microscope Information Site
Resource Review
-- A Child's Geography
Reader Question
-- Not a Hands-On Learner?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Free Mystery of History Sample Lessons

My friend, Maggie Hogan, of Bright Ideas Press, has uploaded
some PDF files from the new student reader for Mystery of History
Volume III: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Growth of Nations
(1455 - 1707). If you've ever been curious about this curriculum,
but haven't had time to read very deeply at a curriculum fair,
this is a good opportunity to get a feel for what it's all about!

Here is the link to learn more...


And here are the direct links to the samples:



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



Helpful Tip

Before You Invest in a Microscope...

"The website www.greatscopes.com is a terrific site to learn all
you need to know about buying a microscope. John Lind, who runs
the site, has a downloadable PDF so you can save the info and
digest it -- it is quite extensive. There are a lot of details
around microscopes and he takes the time to explain -- for free.

I am not sure where I heard about this site -- it might have been

-- Michelle L. in OR


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

Resource Review

A Child's Geography Vol. 1
Author: Ann Voskamp
For more information or to order: www.bramleybooks.com

A Child's Geography is a refreshingly different approach to teach-
ing elementary children (K - 6) about the world in which we live.
Volume 1, 'Explore His Earth', lays a great foundation and serves
as a jumping off point for the rest of the series. Written in a
warm, inviting tone, children learn about the layers of the earth,
the atmosphere, climates, weather, earthquakes and volcanoes, lati-
tude and longitude, and more.

Author Ann Voskamp has taken a Charlotte Mason/living books approach
to the series, so each chapter is filled with non-fluff explanations,
supplemented with just the right amount of full color illustrations.
As you read aloud, there are breaks for the child to narrate or
'tell back' what they've learned. At the end of each chapter there
are opportunities for young learners to create postcards and other
notebook-style projects (templates are provided on the included
CDrom), get moving with 'Too Fun to Resist Excursions', learn more
with 'Further Explorations', and look beyond themselves with the
one page 'Reaching Out to His World' segment.

Although this is a robust curriculum, it is not overwhelming! In
fact, Ann does a great job explaining how to use the program, and
you are free to do only the parts you desire. While the additional
books/literature suggestions are enticing, there are only a few
provided, so you're not likely to feel guilty if you decide to
forgo a trip to the library. The hands-on activities use items
easily found at home or the grocery store. Some of the 'excursions'
simply require movement. In one lesson, while children are spinning
or dancing, they are learning about things like plate tectonics -
really! The not-to-be-missed 'Reaching Out to His World' segments,
which capture a specific topic from the lesson and show how the
Earth has been lovingly planned by God, should inspire us to thank
Him by reaching out to others. For instance, after learning about
the atmosphere, you will read about the ministry of Trans-World
Radio. This life-changing ministry would never have the far
reaching impact it does, were it not for radio waves traveling
through the ionosphere. The reader is encouraged to learn more
about this ministry, and, of course, to pray for those who are
using the air waves to reach those in remote or closed countries
with the Good News.

God has given us an amazing world to explore and enjoy - learning
about it should be a relaxed, fun experience that leaves our chil-
dren wanting more. A Child's Geography is perfect for those looking
to implement a 'Charlotte Mason' style of teaching in their home-
school, or for those who are simply looking for a fun, hands-on
approach to learning about our world.

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

Last Issue's Reader Question

"It seems that whenever I plan any hands-on science or math
activities, I end up frustrated and disappointed. Within five
or ten minutes of beginning the activity, my 9-year-old son has
wandered off in body or in spirit. I plan these activities
with such anticipation and eagerness, only to be let down by
his lack of interest or ability to stay with the task.

You'd think that a hands-on experience would be a welcome change
from workbooks. He's not crazy about workbooks either, but he
understands that a certain amount has to be done. I also have
a 7-year-old daughter and she's much more engaged by the hands-on

Should I pursue the hands-on learning and 'train' my son to
'stick with it' -- or back off until he takes the initiative?"

-- Chun Mei W. in California

Our Readers' Responses

"Dear Chun Mei -- You sound just like me. I love the activities
and hands-on science. I have found it does take some time to
engage my 2 girls. It helps if I let them pick the topic. But
it also helps if I remember that they are the ones actually in
school. For me, I get so excited I sometimes forget to include
them in the midst of what we are learning. I need to let them
do the pouring, measuring, mixing, etc.

Sometimes I like to tease them about what we will learn. 'Today
we will have an eruption' -- usually with baking soda and vinegar,
or 'Today we will make a big booger that stretches to the ceiling'
-- RealScience 4 Kids Pre-chemistry study on molecules from
GravitasPublications (www.gravitaspublications.com)

I have been homeschooling since the beginning and I learned just
last year that many programs are cyclical, especially science.
That means that they teach the same thing (bugs, birds, body,
space) year after year after year. I, personally, get bored with
this, and I can't teach something that I am bored with. I prefer
unit studies. So we study a topic that the girls choose as
deeply and for as long as they want.

I have also learned that none of us enjoy doing school past lunch-
time (during the school year), so science often gets left out.
This year we did science only during the summer and I wish I had
thought of it earlier! We had a great time with science, and I
did not feel overwhelmed by all the different areas of study I
had to cover each week." -- Michelle L. in OR


"We went through the same thing! It turns out my older son is
much more of an auditory/visual learner, even though at first he
thought he would enjoy the hands-on activities more. Maybe your
son just isn't a hands-on kind of guy -- and that's okay! My
younger son is very tactile, so we do much more than my older son
did. He is excited from beginning to end, so it really 'works'
for him. I wouldn't worry about it; there are many ways to learn!

My older son mostly reads or is read to, and that is by far the
way he does most of his learning. That's the beauty of home-
schooling; if something doesn't work, don't do it!" -- Trish in NY


"It could be that he's not a 'hands on' learner. But, even more
so, I think the key is his interest. Maybe involve him in the
planning of the lesson AND the planning of WHAT lessons will be
planned. I wonder if unit studies would pull him into the learn-
ing mode for a while? Research, read and write about his passion.
Then when he sees how fun it is, you can move on to the school
subjects you need to cover. But notice -- you sneaked in
researching, reading and writing?" -- Heidi in St. Louis


"For science activities, we usually try to keep things really
short and simple. Most of the activities we do don't take longer
than 5 - 10 minutes, so my children don't have the opportunity to
lose interest. My son will be 9 in the fall and my daughter is
turning 7 in two weeks, so they are about the same age as your
children. I make sure I have all the materials assembled and at
hand prior to starting the activity so that there are no unneces-
sary interruptions, and I make sure that I can explain to them
precisely what the activity is meant to demonstrate -- in case
they can't figure it out themselves. Also, I keep it very simple.

For instance, we are studying rocks and minerals currently. So,
to demonstrate how sedimentary rocks are formed, we put several
different types of soil in a jar in layers about an inch thick,
filled the jar half full of water, shook it up and watched the
different layers settle out. The only ahead of time prep I had
to do was to make sure that we had two jars on hand. My kids
dug up the soil to put in the jars, and added the water them-
selves. This took all of about ten minutes. I really think at
this age kids need to have short, to the point activities for
science." -- Jennifer J.

Answer our NEW Question

"I have recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I know other
families continue to homeschool with fibromyalgia and other
similarly difficult conditions. What advice do you have to help
our family as we continue to homeschool? My sons are ages 10 and
7 and my daughter is 4. Thank you for your help." -- Sara in SD


Do you have some experience, wisdom or practical advice for Sara?

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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and let them know that Heather sent you!

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[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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