"" -- 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



Finding Time for the Fun Stuff

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, November 15, 2010

Vol. 11 No. 68, November 15, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.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.


The Keystone School is an accredited and licensed private school that offers teacher-supported distance learning courses for grades 6 – 12. We have partnered with homeschool families for over three decades in educating children at home through middle and high school. At Keystone you can enroll your child in a full course load, or supplement another homeschool curriculum with one or two Keystone courses. Whether your child's goal is to become conversational in Mandarin, get a head start on earning college credit by taking AP courses or brush up on English grammar, Keystone can help. Call us at
800-255-4937 or visit keystoneschoolonline.com to learn more.



Notes from Heather
-- MP3 Story - Extended Offer!
Winning Website
-- Ask Kids
Helpful Tip
-- Free Unit on Plants
Reader Question
-- Time for the Fun Stuff?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Free Sugar Creek Gang MP3 Story

I've continued to leave the links active if anyone would like to share our free story with a friend --


I also created 2 new coupons for use at www.BelovedBooks.com --

Take $5 off a $30 purchase = 5OFF30
Take $10 off a $50 purchase = 10OFF30

Happy holiday shopping! :-)

-- Heather


Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


Time 4 Learning

Time4Learning wants to know what you've got to say about our online curriculum. Your feedback helps us to improve and it helps other families make better curriculum choices. If you've got a blog or a website, you can help!

Learn how to become a reviewer in exchange for a 30 day membership.

Time4Learning is an online curriculum for preschool through eighth grade. Members get math and language arts lessons correlated to state standards. Science, social studies and art are also provided as a bonus for most grades.

Try our demos, browse the lesson plans, or become a reviewer!


Winning Website

Ask Kids

"This is a search engine designed exclusively for ages 6 to 12. It's a free, safe, fun way for kids and their parents to quickly and easily research school topics in a search environment that's safer and more age-appropriate than traditional, adult search engines."


Helpful Tip

Free Unit Study on Plants

"Hello -- My name is Susan Kilbride. I'm a homeschooling mom who recently wrote a book titled Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers. Through the years I have noticed that many homeschooling parents are nervous about teaching their kids science and often don't have the time to do the research required to set-up science unit studies for their children. I wrote this book with those homeschoolers in mind. As a promotion for the book, I have prepared one chapter, a complete unit on plants, for homeschoolers to use free of charge.

Here is a link to the free PDF Plant unit study:

Chapter 9: A Beginning Unit Study on Plants

Enjoy!" -- Sue Kilbride

Last Issue's Reader Question

"Hi -- I was wondering how people manage to get the 'fun' subjects done.  I have 3 kids - grades 6, 5, and 1 - and with 2 having learning disabilities, math and language arts take a long time.  I was happy to let things slide for a while, but now my boys complain they never get the 'fun' stuff.  I am so tired by the time we finish the basics that I am done for the day.  Anyone have any ideas?" -- El in Canada

Our Readers' Responses

"If we're having extremely long days, I either pick one day that week that is nothing but 'fun' subjects that can also teach math and language arts -- i.e. baking cookies (fractions), reading the recipe (reading), art, etc. -- or if the weather is nice, take a walk. One of the best reasons to homeschool for me is that it doesn't have to be just like 'school' every day. There are days I know when my son wakes up that he will not be able to understand anything I teach him in the traditional way -- so I use everyday life and make it work. It gives me a break from being a drill sergeant and gives him an understanding as to why we really need to learn this stuff. I also play a lot of games with him that teach him the concepts without him realizing it." -- L.A. in Florida


We like to start off our school days with a game or two... or three or four! I have stocked up on fun games like Blurt, Scrabble, Boggle, etc. These can be just as fun for non-readers if you tweak the rules a bit. Blurt becomes a great vocabulary lesson with each child getting a chance to answer their own question. Scrabble is wonderful for working on phonics, spelling, or even just letter recognition. Because my children range from 16 to 4, we will sometimes throw in a game like Candyland or Chutes and Ladders to give the youngers a chance to lead the game and 'teach' everyone else how to play.

If your kids are too antsy for a board game, move outside and do basketball math. Everytime they correctly answer a problem, they get a shot. Trampoline math is fun too... they have to bounce their math answers! Or do their lessons on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. If it's too cold, let them do their work on a window with dry-erase markers -- lots of fun and you get clean windows when they finish!

All this to say... their work can be fun, too. Don't feel like they need to fill in every workbook page for their work to be complete. You could teach entire curriculums without your children ever touching a piece of paper, but if they are enjoying it, they will still learn! Our books are tools for us to use, not masters for us to be slaves to. If the task of 'making it fun' seems daunting, let your kids come up with some ideas. You'd be surprised what they think is fun. Some kids love the idea of donning bathingsuits in January to jump in the tub and learn about measuring volume or painting words with shaving cream. Of course, my favorite school activity is cuddling on the couch to read with them for a few hours! Have fun!" -- Bonnie H.


"I sometimes feel like the fun stuff never gets done as well. Occasionally we will take a Friday to leave the book work alone and go have an art or messy science day with a local homeschool co-op. Starting today, we are doing a week-long unit study on Autumn where we will drop most of our regular class work and focus on enjoying the season. I plan to spend time at the park looking at all the leaves that are changing. I've never tried a unit study with my children ages 11, 9, 5, & 2 before, so we will see how it goes. You might try taking one Friday a month off and just doing 'fun' learning activities, or you may want to drop one serious subject one day a week and do something fun in its place. Find what works for you so you don't all begin to feel like school is drudgery." -- Melody B.


"We do a modified work box a couple of days a week and I make a point to mix some fun stuff into there. Then I know it will get done and the kids are motivated to do the not-so-fun stuff because they see the fun stuff coming up." -- Rebecca S.


"El -- I understand how that is. I don't have children with disabilities, but for me the responsibilities of aging parents cut into our homeschooling time. What worked for us is having at least one day a week when all you do is the fun projects and experiments. Or maybe on Tuesday and Thursday you can have a 'light' day with the math and language arts, so after lunch can be project time." -- Kris


"I have 5 kids, ages 9 to 2. I too felt the children no longer enjoyed school and I wasn't enjoying it either! This year we made a change and I ordered ACE. I am not that big a fan of workbooks, so at first we just used ACE for the basics (Math & English). I liked it so much (and the kids did too) that I ordered their Social Studies also. I think this workbook/self-study approach frees me up to do the fun things about school without the guilt/stress. We regularly enjoy field trips, read alouds, drama, music, science experiments, the library, and cooking/sewing -- which before I felt I didn't have the time to fit in." -- Laura


"I would try block scheduling or modified-block scheduling. Just do one or two subjects per day, or do Math and Language Arts daily, then just one other subject. You could change that last subject by day, week, or unit/chapter. Also consider having a 'fun' day each week -- perhaps on Wednesday or Friday, or whenever your local homeschool group has the activities you want to participate in. Go to the park and work or play, visit a museum, do some volunteer work, etc. You could also do three weeks 'on' of core lessons, then one week of supplemental/enrichment work -- or however would best fit your schedule. My son always likes having math all summer. That's when we do a lot of fine arts.

Have your kids pick the order of lessons each day. They may want to do the 'grunt' work first, then have time for fun. Or they may need the fun stuff first to keep them going all day. One idea is to have your 5th and 6th grader help teach the 1st grader. Also, try to combine the older kids' work as much as possible. You may also like a curriculum where all three kids are learning the same topics at the same time, like Tapestry of Grace.

Are you doing everything in your curriculum? You don't have to. Don’t be a slave to the content or the schedule. Do what fits your family best. If your kids know it, move on. Don't assign a lot of 'busywork' just because it's in the teacher's guide or plan. Just do what they need to learn the lesson objectives.

We participate in a weekly homeschool class cooperative. We meet for 11 weeks in the fall and spring. Just getting out of the house and working with other kids and talking to other parents can be a great break each week. Weekday sports and park play days are also fun.

You can also make a reward jar or chart. As your kids complete lessons, with good attitudes and hard work, let them work toward a fun goal -- artwork, field trip, movie, a day in their PJ's, etc. Just try and think outside of the [curriculum, school-at-home] box." -- Julie C. in Illinois

Answer our NEW Question

Handwriting Postures

"Hi -- I was wondering if anyone has experience or knowledge in various handwriting postures. My fourth child holds his pencil with all four of his fingers together on one side and the tip down by his pinky. I thought I should break him of it at first, but I wondered if anyone knows anything about the differences and the pros/cons of them? Thanks." -- Anna


Would you like to respond to Anna's question?
Please send your response by email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question for our readers?

Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll answer it in an upcoming issue!

Need Immediate Help?

Visit our Homeschool Encouragement Center! This is a live 24/7 'chat' area where you can talk with 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.


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 mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net.

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 - Peril of Praise; Hilarious HS'ing Commercial!
Previous - Challenging the Herd, Silly Boys, Heavens Above

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