"" -- 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



It's January - Do You Know Where Your Math Manipulatives Are?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, January 04, 2010

                The Homeschooler's Notebook
     Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
   Vol. 11 No 1                           January 4, 2010
                      ISSN: 1536-2035                              
   Copyright (c) 2009 - 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.


  Unique Online Science Classes Begin Mid-January

  =>Young Scientist Anatomy & Physiology (4th-6th Grade)
  =>Pre-Chemistry (6th-9th Grade)
  =>Anatomy & Physiology (9th-12th Grade)
  =>CLEP / ACT Science Prep (10th-12th Grade)
  =>Forensic Anatomy (8th-12th Grade)

  Summer Anatomy & Physiology Camp in North Carolina!

  Free Online Seminar: "Top 10 Homeschooling Mistakes"

  ===>  Please Visit Our Site For Details...




  Guest Article
  -- It's Around Here Somewhere!
  Helpful Tip
  -- Rubber Band Invention Contest
  Resource Review
  -- Getting Started with Spanish
  Reader Question
  -- Dilly-Dallying in Florida
  Additional Notes
  -- Newsletter Archives
  -- Sponsorship Information
  -- Reprint Information
  -- Subscriber Information

       Guest Article

  It's January - Do You Know Where Your Math Manipulatives Are?
    by Barbara Frank


  Happy New Year!  It's time to take down the tree, send the Christmas
  decorations back into storage, and put the house back together.
  For those of us who homeschool, it's also time to get ready for
  another year of homeschooling.

  Even though we tend to think of fall as the beginning of the school
  year, we still have that feeling of new beginnings that January
  brings.  Others may resolve to lose weight or join a fitness center;
  we homeschoolers resolve to finally locate that terrific science
  book we bought at the curriculum fair last year, so we can start
  doing those experiments we promised the kids we'd do together.

  I used to put off plans for my children to study a certain subject
  because I couldn't find the books and resources I needed to use
  with them.  I remembered buying the items; I just couldn’t remember
  what I'd done with them once I brought them home!  It was depressing
  to have to send out a search party every time we needed a specific
  resource.  During our most hectic years, when I was homeschooling
  and still having babies, I was lucky to find time for even a quick
  search.  My favorite phrase was, "It's around here somewhere!"

  Who's Got Time to Get Organized?

  Homeschooling families buy and use far more books, art supplies and
  educational toys than other families, but have less free time to
  organize them.  When your children spend their days at home instead
  of at school, there's rarely a time when they aren't around.  Either
  you get organized with your children underfoot, or it will never
  get done.

  Then there's the thought of how you'd stay organized if you ever
  got to that point.  That's the challenge we homeschoolers face: we
  live in our houses more than most people, and so do our kids.  While
  other kids are away at school for seven or eight hours a day, ours
  are at home playing, reading, making art projects, and cooking.  The
  evidence is everywhere.  How can we keep on top of all the hustle
  and bustle?

  Lost Opportunities

  When you consider trying to get organized with the kids around, it's
  tempting to stay in your rut and just muddle through, the way you
  always have.  But think about how much time you spend looking for
  books or resources you need.  How many projects do you have on the
  back burner because you haven't found all the supplies?
  In the meantime, your children are growing and changing.  If you wait
  too long to tackle a project, you may find that your child is no
  longer interested in the subject.  A missed opportunity, and all
  because you couldn't find what was needed, even though you know it
  is somewhere under your own roof.

  Start Out Slowly

  The thought of organizing the whole house is way too intimidating
  to think about.  Instead, try starting small.  Schedule an hour a
  day to work on one area that's sorely in need of help.  If you're
  consistent about doing it five days a week, you'll make plenty of
  progress.  Seeing your progress will increase your enthusiasm and
  encourage you to keep at it.
  Don't decide that your goal is to get the entire house into perfect
  shape.  After all, there are people living in your house every single
  day.  It's not possible to keep it completely organized because it's
  a continually changing environment.  Just work on the areas that
  bother you most and have the most effect on your daily life.
  For example, while you may long to get your children's baby pictures
  organized, and maybe even beautifully arranged in a scrapbook, this
  is not a pressing need.  It's more urgent that you find, wash and
  fold the baby clothes before your new baby arrives.

  It may depress you that there are boxes of old tax records scattered
  around your basement, but it's more important that you find your
  algebra textbook (and the teacher key!) now that your 12-year-old
  seems ready to tackle algebra.  Try to steer your efforts toward the
  areas that affect you and your family the most right now.

  Establish Systems

  As you get an area organized, train yourself, your spouse and your
  children to keep it that way.  Choose specific places to store what
  you use every day.  Make sure everyone knows where things go, and that
  they will be held accountable for putting the items they use back
  where they belong.  For example, when someone finishes reading a book,
  it should be put back in the spot where it belongs.  Manipulatives
  should be stored in a designated container in a specific spot; whoever
  uses them should be held responsible for putting them back properly.
  Over time, putting things back where they belong will become an
  ingrained habit in each member of your family, and your home will
  stay fairly organized.

  Reaping the Results

  Be persistent in your organizing efforts.  If your family gets hit
  with the flu and you're forced to give up your daily organizing hour,
  get back in the groove as soon as everyone is healthy.  If the kids
  won't let you throw out their old toys, send the older ones to watch
  the younger ones in another room, and then start pitching things
  quickly and quietly.  If you're determined to get the job done, you

  The resulting small successes will buoy your spirits.  Only those
  who are accustomed to spending days looking for their scissors can
  understand how good it feels to open the drawer and find them where
  they belong!

  If your enthusiasm for homeschooling has been flagging, this may
  bring it back.  To be able to tackle new projects and finish old
  ones without wasting a lot of time searching for what you need is a
  wonderfully invigorating feeling.  Make it your New Year's resolution
  to experience it.

  Copyright 2010 Barbara Frank/Cardamom Publishers


  Editor's note:

  You'll find "115 Organizing Tips for Homeschoolers" in Barbara
  Frank's book, "The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling".

  Read our SPECIAL OFFER below to find out how you can get a copy of
  her book AND bless a friend, too!


  SPECIAL OFFER from Cardamom Publishers...

  Longtime homeschool mom Barbara Frank is going 'Back to Basics in
  2010' with seven monthly articles to help you raise your children
  with the basic skills needed to become self-sufficient adults.
  Subscribe at this link so you don't miss out on this new series!
  And to celebrate Back to Basics in 2010, Cardamom Publishers is
  offering a special BUY ONE GET ONE FREE offer on Barbara's book of
  homeschool basics, "The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling".
  From January 1-15, 2010, for every copy of this book you buy direct
  from Cardamom Publishers, you'll receive a free copy (reg. $13.95)
  to bless a friend, share with your homeschool group, or donate to your
  local public library so that other homeschoolers can benefit from
  Barb's advice, gleaned over 20+ years of homeschooling.  PLUS, she
  will personally sign each copy ordered during this special promotion!
  You don't need a promo code or special password for this offer --
  just place your order here:


  Every order received for this book during the sale dates will
  automatically include a free copy for each book purchased.  Buy 1, get
  1 free... buy 2, get 2 free... up to 5 free when you order 5 copies!

  Happy New Year from The Homeschooler's Notebook!


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


  Testimonials from the HomeschoolingABCs class...

  "I was sold on the first mini class and started the 26 week course
  after that!  Thanks for showing us how to start and stay going.
  We are excited with Homeschooling ABCs and feel comfortable knowing
  someone cares about our homeschooling experience being a success.
  All the planning is already done for us and we really like the
  freebies and weekly schedule that make each lesson personal and fun!     
  Please tell us this will never end, LOL -- no really I mean it!"
  -- Debbie in MD


  "Dear Terri -- I just wanted you to know that I really enjoy your
  Homeschooling ABCs course.  I'm learning so much even though I have
  been homeschooling  for some time now.  I also enjoy working on
  one subject at a time.  It gives me the time necessary to read the
  free material and for thinking it through.  Thanks a lot!  I am
  looking forward to the next sessions!" -- Myriam




      Helpful Tip

  Second Annual Rubber Band Invention Contest!

  Innovative homeschool students in 5th thru 8th grades are invited
  to demonstrate their ingenuity by creating an invention that
  incorporates the use of rubber bands!

  This exciting contest encourages engineering design, creative
  thinking and problem-solving, while incorporating national and
  state academic content standards.  More than $15,000 in prizes
  will be awarded!  The deadline is February 10, 2010 and the
  contest is open to all full-time students in grades 5 to 8 in
  the United States.

  Details for the competition are available online at:


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

      Resource Review

  Getting Started with Spanish
  Author: William Linney

  From the author who brought homeschool families the course "Getting
  Started with Latin", comes another well written program covering
  Spanish.  William Linney seems to have a knack for taking something
  complex like learning a new language and breaking it down into
  bite-sized lessons that anyone, young or old, can use.

  Getting Started with Spanish is specifically designed for homeschoolers
  and self-taught students of any age.  The program's 177 lessons take
  only a few minutes in the early stages and no more than 30 minutes
  as one progresses through the more advanced material.  Each lesson
  features clear explanation written in a friendly tone.  It's like
  having Mr. Linney sitting there with you.  I really like how grammar
  concepts are introduced as needed within the context of the word or
  phrase being learned.  After the instruction, each lesson has an
  exercise to complete with an answer key provided in the back of the
  book.  This is a self-paced course, so students can spend as much time
  as needed to master each lesson.  Since the best way to learn correct
  pronunciation is by listening and repeating what you hear, Mr. Linney
  provides free recordings of each new word and exercise as presented
  in the curriculum.  The recordings are available for download in MP3
  format so students can burn them to a CD to learn on the road or listen
  to throughout the day for additional practice.

  Like his Latin course, each lesson builds on the other.  The author's
  philosophy is summed up in his helpful 'How to Use This Book' section:

  "Teach one concept at a time and let the student master that concept
  before introducing the next one."

  As the student works through the lessons, they are free to spend as
  much time as needed.  Short lessons are perfect for young learners
  (with Mom's guidance), while older students should be able to navigate
  the course independently, moving as fast or as slow as needed to master
  the material.  

  If you've been intimidated at the thought of teaching a foreign
  language, you should definitely check out this affordable, well-written

  -- Cindy Prechtel, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

      Last Issue's Reader Question

  "I am having trouble keeping my oldest son, who is in 5th grade,
  motivated to do his school work.  I have tried everything.  He is
  not allowed any free time until his school is done, but he just
  dilly-dallies and does not care.  I do not want to punish because
  I do not want him to have negative associated with school; it
  should be fun.  Any help?"

  -- Stressed and discouraged in Florida

      Our Readers' Responses 

  "I don't often comment, but I believe in this system so much that
  I feel I just have to!

  I have recently discovered Sue Patrick's Workbox System.

  It has been a HUGE blessing for our homeschool.  It is simple, yet
  it works -- AND with any curriculum you use!  Each child has 12
  workboxes.  (I use plastic stacking drawers.)  They are numbered
  1-12 with velcroed numbers that are to be removed and placed on the
  schedule strip as each workbox is completed.  I put each subject in
  a separate box.  I also add fun stuff in some of the boxes to break
  up some of the work; the ideas are endless!  I also keep the lessons
  short.  We do certain subjects together as a family first, then move
  on to our workboxes.  The kids are enthusiastic about their work
  again.  They know that there are fun things mixed in with their work
  and they get a visual as to how much they are accomplishing.  There
  are also Yahoo groups with lots of ideas from other moms who have
  tweaked the system to fit their individual needs and budgets.  This
  has made our day go SOOOO much smoother!" -- Laryssa K.


  "Hi!  I have sometimes have this struggle with my boys, who are
  5th and 4th grade, one more often than the other!  For one of them,
  we struggled with this on a daily basis for over a year.  Now that
  they know their assignments won't change, the struggle has gotten
  a lot less... and often never occurs!
  I find a timer very helpful, especially for my younger one, as he
  is very competitive and likes to race it!  I also find it helpful
  to give them a list of all their assignments for the week.  That
  way they know what is coming and have the joy of checking it off
  as they finish. (Before I did this, one of my boys used to think
  that if he finished early I was going to sneak extra work in for
  him to do!)

  I have chosen not to use tangible rewards; I want them to do their
  school as a responsibility and giving their best to all they do,
  rather that to earn Lego or something.  However, I do point out
  that schooling takes time - theirs and mine!  If someone works hard
  and diligently and finishes early, then the time I had set aside
  for working with them can be used to play a game.  By the same token,
  if I have to waste my day at the table because someone has dallied
  when they were supposed to be working with me, then they will have
  to do extra chores as I have spent my chore time on school."
  -- El in Canada


  "I would suggest that you do an analysis of your son's learning
  style.  I'm wondering if you could find a different method that
  better fits the way his brain works.
  You might also try changing your overall approach.  For example,
  if you're using traditional curriculum, try unit studies for a
  change.  Let him select a topic that interests him, and develop
  an entire curriculum around it.  Let's say he likes the ocean.
  Read books about the ocean; make up math problems that have to
  do with the ocean; study Naval history and marine science; draw
  pictures of ships or marine wildlife; go swimming -- and so on.
  To make it a bit more fun, you might try showing up for lessons
  some morning in a costume that fits the subject matter.  If you
  are studying the ocean, wear something that resembles a diving
  suit.  Serve fun food that goes with a topic you're studying,
  such as crackers with crab dip. 
  At that age, boys sometimes need to get involved in more manly
  pursuits.  Could you allow him to plant a garden, build bird feeders,
  or raise an animal as part of his curriculum?  How about helping
  an elderly person with shoveling snow, lawn care, minor household
  repairs, or something like that?  That would make him feel more
  mature and responsible, and he might try to live up to that
  standard." -- Mary Beth


  "Homeschooling boys can be a real challenge as well as an honor.
  Something that really helped me recently with my two sons is a CD
  called 'Ballistic Homeschooling' by Hal and Melanie Young.  They
  have 6 sons and a daughter.  One idea for focus is when you see
  your son getting restless or that glazed look over his face, have
  him do 20 pushups or run up and down the stairs (what, play on
  the stairs?!) ten times.  My 7 year old likes to run out the door
  and around the house 2 times, then he comes back in sits down and
  gets back to work.  At first it seems like a game and they want to
  do it every few minutes, but we try to set goals, such as after 15
  or 30 minutes, or after completing a couple of really hard math

  It gets the oxygen flowing to their brains and allows a vent for
  that physical drive they have.  It works, and while they cannot
  play until their school work is done, we don't consider these 2-3
  minute refreshers as play and it is definitely not punishment.

  Check out The Youngs' website: http://www.raisingrealmen.com

  It is very helpful!" -- Ericka


  "Dear Stressed -- I had a similar situation with my middle son
  with his math when he was also in 5th grade.  I don't know the
  homeschooling laws in your area or the curriculum you are using,
  but I will share my experience and see if it helps.
  My son is very good in math.  I noticed he was dilly-dallying,
  staring at the wall, and his perfect grades started going down.
  It was beginning to take him hours to do things he already knew
  to do, and he was getting most of it wrong.  I tried offering
  incentives, like more extra-curricular activities, but that did
  no good.
  I finally realized, he was simply bored.  Busy-ness is not equal to
  learning.  I showed him some of the new concepts that were coming.
  I told him that if he finished his page and did a good job, we
  would start the next chapter in the morning.  He finished his page
  in less than 2 minutes, and all of it was perfect.  He was excited
  to start learning again, and even wanted to begin right away!

  I realized that the curriculum was not his teacher -- I was.
  Keeping him busy was just dulling his senses and tarnishing his
  love of learning.  I needed to individualize his studies to fit
  his needs.  I have had no problems since I learned that 'one size
  fits all' textbooks don't always fit well." -- Rose


  "There are several things I have done with my children that have
  helped with motivation, and I often will combine them or rotate
  them.  I have two older children (high school), and one 6th grader
  who still needs lots of motivation.  For her it really helps to
  have me do a lot of the work with her.  I know it seems like a
  waste of time when there's so much else that you could be doing, but
  it gets done so much more quickly, and frees you both up for so much
  more.  Even with math, I do the practice problems on a seperate white
  board while she does them, then we compare answers.  If either of us
  gets them wrong, we help each other find out why.  On things that
  are more independent, I sometimes offer rewards for doing it in a
  certain amount of time, or for doing extra work.  This could be as
  simple as a pack of gum, or it could be finishing a larger project
  in a certain amount of days for a field trip or special lunch out.
  Sometimes putting as much as possible in game form, or making it into
  a challenge of some sort may help, or answering questions verbally
  instead of writing them, or putting something to music, teaching it
  to the dog -- anything to spice it up!  We've done Shakespeare for
  several years now by acting out the plays with whoever is handy --
  this usually includes dressing up the dog, and giving her a different
  'voice'!  You know your child and what they enjoy... try to put the
  material in a form that works better!" -- Lori in PA


  "I wish I could offer a great solution, but I am dealing with the
  same issues with my 10 year old son.  I am honestly thinking that
  this must be a stage that many boys go through as I have seen it
  come up SO many times on the boards/lists.  Sometimes though, I know
  that just knowing you are not alone is helpful. 

  One thing I think helps is having a reward that you are willing and
  able to cancel if he doesn't follow through (a trip to the store for
  some gum, shooting hoops with Dad at the park).  If my son has a
  motivation to get done he does, but usually 'free time' isn't enough.
  Also, sometimes it just takes me focusing all my attention on getting
  him through the less desirable tasks and the rest he will breeze
  through on his own.

  I look forward to hearing from those who have already been through
  this, as I too am getting very discouraged and frustrated with my
  own son.  Thanks for your question." -- Sandy

     Answer our NEW Question

  "I have twin 7-year-old girls who are just like me - quick to pick up
  new things and are far above their grade level.  It is easy for me to
  homeschool them.  I also have an 8 1/2 year old daughter who is not
  like me.  We believe she takes after her father who doesn't remember
  reading until he was in 5th grade.  My older daughter has great
  difficulty reading, doesn't remember new info very well, and does not
  like to sit still at all.  I'm trying different methods with her, but I
  find I get very impatient with her and that doesn't help either of us.  

  I have all three girls doing '3rd grade' level work.  My question is,
  how do I learn how to help her learn?  My husband is no help because
  he's not the teacher type - he can't break things down - he just finds
  it easier to do something himself rather than teach it (he's a computer
  programmer).  I'm worried that my oldest may think school is too much
  work and I know she would not do well in school since she can't be
  still.  Any help would be appreciated."

  -- Laura in Missouri


  Would you like to share your thoughts with Laura? 

  Please send your answer 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!

      Subscription Information

  Here is the page where you can subscribe to all of our newsletters!


  And here is our searchable archive of recent newsletters:



  There are opportunities for your business to be a sponsor of this
  newsletter!  Read more about our VERY AFFORDABLE advertising here:



  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 - A Different-Learning Daughter
Previous - Free Legal Services, Middle School Science, More!

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