"" -- 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



History Mystery, Rainbow Science, Homeschool Mid-Year?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, November 17, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 91 November 17, 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.


Save Money with Easy Way to Budget

Unique budgeting system helps you stop unwanted spending
and effortlessly get control of your personal finances.

"BudgetMap is compact, tidy, and amazingly effective."
- Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Living.

Carry it with you - it replaces your checkbook and fits
in your purse or pocket. Instantly see your finances as
you make each transaction. Eliminate month-end surprises.

See it now at:



Notes from Heather
-- History Mystery Challenge
Helpful Tip
-- Google 3D Ancient Rome
Resource Review
-- The Rainbow Science Curriculum
Reader Question
-- Beginning Homeschool Mid-Year
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Scholastic's "History Mystery" Site


If you have a child who enjoys a history research challenge,
or needs to learn how to research a topic, this is a great
way to add some spice in your day!


Questions from different time periods in history are asked and
clues are revealed one-by-one. Research (both internet and/or
library) is encouraged to find the answer! The questions are
hard enough not to guess easily, so the research aspect is
more of the focus.

After solving the question (or giving up, in some cases), the
answer can be revealed. After reading all about the subject,
the site provides web links for additional learning. It is
a fun way to introduce historical information and spark new
interests -- I'm going to show this to my kids today! :-)

-- Heather


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



Helpful Tip

Google Earth 3D Ancient Rome

"This week Google Earth added a new application layer: Ancient
Rome 3D. For those who already have Google Earth, you know how
informative and fun it can be. This new layer adds more than
7,000 sites, buildings and landmarks from Ancient Rome to Google
Earth! These are from around 320 A.D. and are shown in great
detail, some even allowing you to explore inside the buildings.

To download Google Earth, including the Ancient Rome layer, go
here: http://earth.google.com/rome/

There is a short informational video there and the link to
download." -- Jodi in IA

Side note: There is also a curriculum development competition
for educators, include HOME educators -- with some great prizes!



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

Resource Review

The Rainbow - Science Curriculum
Author: Dr. Durell Dobbins
For more information or to order: www.beginningspublishing.com

Let's face it, for most of us, the older our children get the more
intimidating subjects like science become. The middle school years,
in particular, are a time when our students are desiring more
independence in their learning, yet we know they still need guidance
and oversight. 'The Rainbow' meets the needs of both students and
parents, by providing a delightfully written, solid science program
that fosters independence and requires very little prep time or
previous knowledge from the parent.

A homeschool dad, who also happens to hold several science degrees
including a Ph.D. in Microbial Ecology, created The Rainbow. Written
from a decidedly Christian perspective, The Rainbow is a two-year
course covering (in order) physics, chemistry, biology, and earth
science. Each year's program is designed to take 32 weeks, allowing
for flexibility in scheduling. The first year covers physics and
chemistry; the second year focuses primarily on biology with 10 weeks
devoted to Earth science. The suggested plan of study is two reading
days followed by a third day dedicated to lab work.

We were so excited to receive the complete program, including lab kits,
for both years of instruction. If you have found yourself frustrated
with "never getting to the hands-on part of your curriculum", you
won't have that problem with The Rainbow! The complete program
consists of a softbound student textbook to be used over two years,
a teacher's manual (appropriately called the Teacher's Helper - but
more on that in a bit!), home lab books - one for each year, and ALL
of the required lab materials. I emphasize ALL, because, other than
a gallon of distilled water, everything else is included and labeled
in the lab kits.

The Rainbow's textbook is colorful and extremely well written. The
author uses a conversational tone and colorful, sometimes wacky,
illustrations to guide the reader toward understanding. The lessons
are short, usually only two pages, and conclude with a few "exercises"
- questions to be answered orally or in writing. I am impressed with
the way Dr. Dobbins has taken material that would fill several pages
in another text, and condensed it to such understandable and brief

You may be reading this review and wondering, "But, how much time do
I have to spend teaching this program?" The answer is, "Very little!"
I mentioned before the teachers manual, entitled "Teacher's Helper".
It allows you to understand what your child should be learning and
discuss the material with them, without your child(ren) having to
read the entire lesson themselves. This format allows the student to
have the independence they crave at this age, while allowing you to
provide just the right amount of guidance. On the days your student
has been reading from his/her textbook, you will find a brief outline
of the lesson's purpose, an explanation of the concepts covered, and
clearly written, concise answers to the questions in the "exercises"
section. By the way, I really like the term "exercises" because these
questions are not just fill-in-the-blank, but rather they require the
student to use critical thinking and provide a way for you (and your
child) to show that they have understood the concept(s) instead of
just memorizing facts. In other words, the questions require the
student to "exercise" their brain! On laboratory days, the author
provides a brief explanation of what your child did in the lab, what
should have happened, (this helps you be sure the experiment went as
planned) the "why" behind the experiment and, of course, answers for
any questions posed in the book.

After two days of reading lessons in the textbook, it is time for
hands-on learning. On this day your student will turn to their Home
Laboratory workbook, find the lab that corresponds to their textbook
lessons, and then follow the author's clear, step-by-step instructions
for carrying out the experiments. Because each of the four areas of
science covered in The Rainbow are color-coded, and with the system
of study (read two days, lab on the third), your student will be able
to move through the program with little or no scheduling on your part.
(There is no doubt that purchasing the lab kits from the author does
increase the cost of the program significantly, but although you could
conceivably find and purchase the materials used in the labs, you will
save yourself a ton of time and money by purchasing the kits.)

As part of the packaging for The Rainbow, the author provides a paper
titled "Parent Fortification". This paper seeks to aid the parent in
understanding the author's position regarding faith in God and how it
relates to the study of science. He also reminds us that our students
can study all of science and still remain steadfast in their faith.
When speaking of this program and its slogan "True Science", Dr. Dobbins
explains, "If this is True Science, it is because it yields to the
scriptures in every respect." While yielding to scripture as it speaks
directly to matters of science, Dr. Dobbins also believes that we must
not overstep our bounds where it does not clearly speak. Therefore, he
uses a cautious tone when addressing various controversial issues such
as evolution and the age of the earth. He reminds us that none of us
were there to observe these beginnings and various scientific theories
of both creationists and secular scientists have been disproven over
and over again.

The Rainbow is truly an excellent science course for junior high
students. Its clear teaching, conversational tone and ease of use
make it a dream curriculum for both children and their parents.

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

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have a 9 year old son that I am wanting to start homeschooling
after his Christmas break from public school, and I'm using this
time up to that to get prepared..

So... how do I just start up mid-year? Has anyone ever done that?
I am feeling so completely overwhelmed. How do I continue on what
he WAS learning, making sure he's on target with where he needs to
be and stay?" -- April

Our Readers' Responses

"April -- my advice to you is to relax, give him some time to
de-school (kind of like detox). I would concentrate more on interest
lead learning, allowing him to just be him. I know it will be hard
for the both of you -- you may have fears of him falling behind
academically -- but what hegains in self-confidence and character
will far outweigh some small back-step in math or language arts.
Learning should be fun; find out what he’s interested in and come
up with some unit studies, go on field trips, a lot of hands on.
Do your research for what you want to start when the timing is
right, but most of all just relax and really get to know your son
-- it will help in making those 'what curriculum should I use'
questions easier to answer."Deanne in NJ


"April -- I have been homeschooling for 9 years. When I took my
daughter out of public school, I tried to imitate public school
at home and it wasn't pretty. A lot of tears were shed that first
year and it wasn't what I envisioned homeschooling to be.

Since this is a life change for both you and your son, I suggest
you take a more relaxed approach the second half of the school year.
It will give you time to adjust to your new role and for him to
adjust to Mom as the Teacher as well. Does your son have a parti-
cular interest in Science or History? You can read biographies of
historical figures, do projects, watch historical videos or The
History Channel. Take a field trip to a local historic site. All
this counts as school work. For Science, the same idea... let him
choose something that interests him and run with it. The library
can be a great source for books on both subjects. It doesn't all
have to be sit down work in workbooks and textbooks. Doing it this
way will help you to form a bond and show him that homeschooling
is fun.

This will give you time to get your feet wet and learn about all
the wonderful curriculums and styles of homeschooling out there so
you won't feel pressured to spend a lot of money on something that
won't work for you. It will also give you time to see how your
son really likes to learn and adapt accordingly. Enjoy the
journey!" -- Chris E.


"April -- bless you, relax! One of the wonderful things about
homeschooling is that it doesn't take long to get a handle on
things. My advice is take some time to get to know your boy's
interests. I did this with my son and the first thing we studied
was mummies. By the time we finished, I had a great idea of what
his strengths and weaknesses were, which were a bit different than
what was reported by the school. This also made him very excited
to be homeschooled and it was a bit easier to get into the more
mundane subjects.

Don't worry about falling behind. When you are working with your
child, 100% of your attention will be on him, and 100% of his
attention will be on the subject. You will be able to accomplish
in about 15 minutes what commonly takes a day or two in a classroom.
Not that there won't be rough patches and setbacks -- there will.
But those can be overcome because you are dedicated to your child's
success. Get to know your boy and the education will come!" -- Anne


"I took my daughter out of a K-4 program about 2 months into the
year. I met with her teacher and took about a half hour discussing
things. I got tons of paper, including a whole workbook that would
have been used throughout the year, just by asking.

Most times you can find the same books the school is using in the
library or for sale used with online retailers. Ask the teacher for
a book list.

That being said, you don't have to re-create public school at home.
For my daughter and I, getting those resources from the school made
the transition easier. My daughter was in a K-3 program the year
before, but no daycare or anything. You may need an even longer
transition period since he's been in for a few years, but kids are
amazingly resilient. As long as you relax, whatever you do will be
just fine. Teach him to love to learn and you've got it made!"
-- Christine E.


"I pulled my son out of public school with less than half a year to
go in fourth grade.

I think the best thing we did was to de-school for a couple of weeks.
We spent time just reading together, going to the library, museums,
and just hanging out.

One of the reasons we pulled him out was that I felt he had learned
very little that year, so once we started 'school' I took it from
there. Following his lead, we explored things he was interested in
and then it was easy to see where to fill in the gaps.

I did not buy any school books that year; we just did a lot of
research online and at the library on subjects he was interested in.
By the time next fall came I had a plan together for that year. We
still mostly use real books and the internet, both because of our
budget and because I feel he gets much more out of the process. He
is now 14 and we are really loving home learning!

If you are being lead to homeschool, relax and know that you know
what is best for your own child." -- Laurie


"Hi April -- I took my own children out of school when the first
semester was ended, mid-January.We didn't have Internet and
didn't have many resources at all. I bought a few school books
from the 'friends of the library' for 25 cents each, and tried
using them. What helped is when we relaxed and did what the
children were interested in. My oldest was in 11th grade and my
youngest was in 1st grade. We did well just looking around in
the areas they wanted to learn. At 14, each took a high school
course through the mail, each got a diploma, and each have gone
on and are doing well in life. They are now 36 down to 25.

Years later, I also took my 2 granddaughters out of school at the
same time of year. We have the Internet now, and we have lots of
resources, but we still mostly follow their interests. They will
not learn what they don't have an interest in. It's the same in
school. I don't know about you, but I don't use 90% of what I
'learned' in school.

We go through history, whether or not they want to; math about
their grade level; we have science in different areas -- animals
and habitats, space travel, a few experiments to go along with what
they are reading about -- like making a volcano in the kitchen.
Today they had heart echo/scans (due to a family heart defect) and
they learned several things about the machine and how it works,
what the echo is, how the images get on the computer screen, and
they got to see a working heart -- their own! It was cool. Not
everyone can do that kind of science; we were just lucky for that,
and blessed not to have that defect. They also do some of their
math in the kitchen, cooking for us, experimenting with new recipes
I get online -- Home Ec. They are 13 and 14 now.

I also read books to them, a chapter a day. We are reading 'The
Secret Garden' now, and I am going to read 'Taerith', a great novel
by a young author who was totally homeschooled. It's a free read
online at: http://www.rachelstarrthomson.com/books/taerith-a-novel/

Go with your heart. Pray every morning before you get started.
The Lord will direct you in the way He wants you to go. A formal
education as they do in public school isn't actual learning -- look
at the high school graduates. Get into learning with your child.
I have learned so very much with my children and grandchildren,
about 17 years' worth... but I'm still learning!" -- Jan in MO


"I don't know your reasons for making the choice to homeschool,
but good for you! Starting homeschooling isn't just a continuation
of the classroom experience your son is used to. If it is not
working at school, it probably will not work at home.

If it were me (and I've been there), I would spend several months,
maybe the rest of the school year, deschooling -- the process of
undoing the things you didn't like about your son's public school
experience. If you must plan, and have to follow guidlines for
your state, see if you can plan different types of activities and
see what type of learning works best for your son. There are many
different approaches (you can read about them on the internet) --
classical, unit studies, text/workbooks, box curriculum -- and you
probably need to find out what works best for him. Maybe try a
text/workbook for language, a hands-on approach for math, reading
living books for history, and a unit study for science. I would
schedule loosely, with lots of time to follow topics or methods that
seem to click for you and your son, and not be afraid to ditch what
isn't working and follow what is.

Based on what you learn about your teaching style and his learning
style, then it might be easier to plan a currculum for next school
year. I would also use the rest of this year to address any
character training or other personal topics that might make your
homeschool more pleasant -- always a big issue around my house!
Good luck." -- Anne M.

Answer our NEW Question

"I homeschooled my children years ago; at the time they were K
and 1st grade. We have had them in a private school since. I
find that there are so many areas of their education that is
lacking. I constantly ask my hubby why they aren't learning
this or that yet. I am frustrated with math speed drills that
my children are constantly taking. I am frustrated that every
year in Science/Social Studies, the exact same lessons are being
taught. The school in which they attend is the best school in
our area, but for me, personally, much is lacking in their curri-
culum. Last time we homeschooled, I was very structured. I am
hoping this time to be more relaxed. It is something that I am
trying to do across the board in all areas of my life.

Currently I am researching the idea of homeschooling again after
this school year is over. I will bring all info to my hubby, and
we will decide at the end of January if this is something our
family should do again.

Our children are currently in the 4th and 5th grades.

If you have ideas, suggestions, or anything else that I might
find helpful, please write." -- Brandi


Do you have suggestions or encouragement for Brandi?

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

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to mailto: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
'chat' area where you can talk live to our homeschool counselors
by typing in a box. When you get there, just introduce yourself
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.


Our Newsletter Archive

Access the Homeschool Notebook issues you have missed...
at our archives! http://www.FamilyClassroom.net


There are opportunities for you to be a sponsor of this
newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
heather@familyclassroom.net with "Notebook Sponsorship"
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 mailto:HN-articles@familyclassroom.net or

Our main website is:

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


No part of this newsletter (except subscription information
below) may be copied and/or displayed in digital format online
(for instance, on a website or blog) without EXPRESS permission
from the editor. Individuals may, however, forward the newsletter
IN ITS ENTIRETY to *individual* friends (not email groups). For
reprints in paper publications (homeschool support group newsletters,
etc.) please direct your request to: mailto:Heather@FamilyClassroom.net

Next - Family Craft Box, Stocks for Kids, Back to Homeschooling
Previous - Readers Offer Cures for Curriculum Burn-Out

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