Welcome to our Homeschool, by Mrs. Warde


100_7551Monday. After an extended break. I don’t know what possessed me.

Actually, I do. Sandbox to Socrates wanted to feature a “Day in the Life” for each of its contributing authors. I chose the Monday after Christmas break. Things started to go off kilter, but I kept recording because I thought perhaps it might be helpful to see that one of the advantages of homeschooling is flexibility when life doesn’t go according to schedule.

I have two students: Big Brother is seven years old in second grade; Little Brother is four and half in K-4. We also have Baby Sister who is five months old. People often ask how to homeschool with a baby. It isn’t always easy, but we manage pretty well most days.

Usually I try to begin our school day at 10AM, but on this day we didn’t start until 10:10 because as we assembled at the dining room table, I realized the boys weren’t fully dressed and I thought that should change. Handwriting was up first.This subject either takes a long time or goes very quickly, depending on a certain seven year old boy’s attitude. Big Brother did two pages in his workbook, and Little Brother, who insisted on getting his own work, did a letter page in his grocery store workbook.  Baby Sister sat in her high chair at the table with us and observed for most of the time. This day we finished handwriting at 10:40 and took a snack break.

After the snack we started grammar. A regular lesson only takes five to ten minutes, but I had to  make Baby Sister a bottle so we did not finish until 11:03. We then moved on to writing. It was story and narration day, so that was finished by 11:13. From Little Brother I got “Geppetto made a wooden puppet,” and Big Brother said, “The furniture was really simple.”

After writing we moved to the couch for spelling, which we did verbally. Little Brother sang all of his answers; Big Brother acted out all of his. It was review, so we finished by 11:23. Our reading lesson was also review and went quickly as well. By the end of it, Baby Sister had finished her bottle and was ready for a nap. I wasn’t feeling well, so I let the boys play while I took a break. Most days Baby Sister has to be held to fall asleep for a nap, but this day she actually slept on my bed by herself.

Lunch was a little late, but at 1:00PM I started math with Big Brother. We tried out some new ways to practice telling time. He is a kinetic learner, so we got some pvc pipes from his building kit, and I had him be the learning clock. I did it first to demonstrate the idea and then gave times while he pretended to be the clock. He loved it, and we have done it several times since.


Next we tried an idea I found on Pinterest. Using large paper circles,  I wrote the numbers one through twelve on the top circle and had Big Brother write the minutes (:05, :10, etc.) on the bottom circle.


Then it was Little Brother’s turn for math. We reviewed his math poems and showing the numbers one through ten on his fingers. Baby Sister set a personal record for a nap all by herself, but at 1:30 she awoke so we took another break while I attended to her needs.

A hilarious failed attempt at convincing Baby Sister to try cereal, an important phone call before close of business, a bottle, another short nap for baby, two or three diaper changes – and somehow it was 4:30!  In our house, if the schoolwork is not done by 3PM, it doesn’t get done. I scrapped our bone joint demonstration, rescheduling it for the next day, and just read Inside Your Outsides and a section about bones from The Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia.

Later that night I read a few short chapters from our read-aloud book before bedtime. Ideally AWANA verse practice and speech therapy homework would get done everyday, but this day was not exactly ideal.

Not ideal, but still a pretty good day.

Curriculum used:

Zaner-Bloser Handwriting, Level 1

First Language Lessons 1

Writing With Ease 1

All About Spelling Level 1

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at sceleratusclassicalacademy.blogspot.com

Observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, by Mrs. Warde


It is not easy to me to explain about hatred and intolerance to my children. They have lead a somewhat sheltered life; the idea of treating people differently because of how they look is a foreign concept to them and one that I would prefer not to teach them about. But you cannot teach bravery without teaching about fear; you can not teach about Martin Luther King Jr. without explaining injustice.

Our lesson plan for this MLK Jr. Day includes reading the books Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo and Young Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” , a Troll First-Start Biography by Joanne Mattern. The BrainPOP video for Marin Luther King, Jr. is free to watch, (please pre-watch, especially if you have younger children) and you can watch the footage of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech here, below. It’s almost 17 minutes long, so while my kids are listening to it I’ll have them coloring a picture I got from this website that will encourage the kids to look for other skin-tone crayons to color with instead of just “peach.”

For a sweet activity to explain how even though we look different on the outside, we’re the same on the inside, we will snack on M & M candies. First we’ll bite them in half to see how while the outside shell is different colors, they’re all chocolate inside. Then I’ll put an M & M in their mouths and ask if they can tell what color it is just by the taste. We’ll do that several times to make the point that they all taste the same.

Older relatives are a great resource for first hand experiences from this time period. We’ll be interviewing Grandpa over the phone to add to the lesson as well.

I don’t know how or if teaching about this will change how my children look at the world. They are only 7 and 4 1/2. But I hope that this will set a good foundation for further learning when they get older.

Thanksgiving in the Car, by Mrs. Warde


Every other year my father’s side of the family gets together for Thanksgiving. On those years we drive a full day’s journey there, spend the holiday with more than seventy family members, and drive a full day’s journey back home. No time to learn anything about the origins of Thanksgiving. There are a lot of ideas and lesson plans out on the Internet for learning about Thanksgiving at home, but not many for learning about it while in the car. Which is probably where half of families with kids are. So here’s my idea of teaching about Thanksgiving in the car (or plane)!

When planning a “car lesson” I try to consider how to give information, talk about it, ask for some form of output from the student, playing with the topic, and relate to it.

Give information: There are a lot of resources out there. If you already have a favorite book or movie to share, do that. We have just a few simple “First Thanksgiving” books including Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley, and one of my favorites, Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters. If you have a tablet and can access the Internet in the car, Scholastic has some neat video tours and slide shows with historical reinactors. Be sure to include this fact: Thanksgiving, according to Holidays Around the Year, was made a National Holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln.

Projects for output need to be simple because cutting and gluing in the car is not ideal! So I recommend making a Thanksgiving Activity Book from things you can print out from the Internet. Staple it together like a book and you won’t have to worry about papers all over the place. Pages to print out for various ages can be found at Blessed Beyond a Doubt, DLTK, and 3 Dinosaurs. I recommend at least one blank page or a draw-and-write page. Also, put a blank page in for the classic hand-traced turkey. This activity book can be as quick or as long as you think your kids would want.

Talk about it: You know your kids best. And who knows what questions they might surprise you with?

Play with it: This would have to be prepared ahead of time, but I think a fun idea would be for the children to color Popsicle stick puppets to act out what they’re learning. Incorporating what he knows into play helps my kinetic learner cement the information in his head. When my four-year-old joins in the play I can tell that he was listening.

Relate to it: Popcorn snack! This can be prepared ahead of time and keeps very well, especially if it’s authentically served without butter. Also, you’re traveling like the Pilgrims did, in a similar amount of personal space. You can talk about what it would be like to travel for several months in such cramped conditions. What about motion sickness, for example? When you get to your destination you’ll be dependent on your hosts for the Thanksgiving meal, just like the Pilgrims needed help from the Wampanoag to find food. And of course, you can always talk with your children about the things in your life for which you are all thankful.

This lesson plan can be adapted in length and depth to suit your own family’s needs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at sceleratusclassicalacademy.blogspot.com

Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day with Mrs. Warde

by Mrs. Warde

For the first holiday in our series going through The Big Book of Holidays Around the Year we will be observing Veteran’s Day (or Remembrance Day if you’re Canadian or Australian). Before learning about Veteran’s Day in preparation for this lesson I probably would have told you that Veteran’s Day was on a specific day of the week like Memorial Day. Nope, it’s always November 11th because it celebrates the Armistice of World War I.

I had hoped to have a book reviewed for this by now, but I have a bad cold and I’m not going to the library like this. Holidays Around the Year recommends the chapter book Veteran’s Day: Remembering our War Heroes and the website www.teachervision.com for more information. I really liked Brain Pop’s video on 9/11 that we used in September, so I went to look at their video explaining war. However, you have to pay for those videos. While they have a homeschool purchasing option it is too much for us at this time. Under its Veteran’s Day links the teachervision site has a few short videos for different ages. Here’s the one for grades 1-5.

There is also “The Story of Veteran’s Day” which I will read to the kids, as well as various activities for different ages. You can access seven different activities for free on the site before you have to pay for it.

I’ve always made a point to purchase the fundraiser poppies, but until I was preparing for this lesson I had no idea why the poppy was used as a symbol. It is because of a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor and soldier, during World War I. From Holidays Around the Year: “His poem refers to wild poppies that began to blossom on the gravesites of soldiers in the fields. This stirring natural event provides an interesting science link: Poppy seeds can live dormant underground for years and years without growing until the soil around them is disturbed. The dormant poppy seeds in Flanders fields were given a chance to grow when the gravesites were dug.”

Here is the poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

We are going to make a point to go out on Monday and find a veteran selling poppies. If you don’t have a veteran in your life to have your kids talk to, this might be a way to find someone willing to talk.

We will also make our own poppies. I found 11 Poppy Crafts for November 11 at momstown arts and crafts. We will likely be doing one of those, or one of the poppy ideas on the Memorial Day kids classrooms activities crafts board on Pinterest. We will be keeping whichever poppy craft we do up for at least a month since the idea is to remember, not to remember just once and then forget for another year.

If you’re interested in how our observation of this holiday turns out I’ll be posting about it on my blog the day of or the day after.

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at sceleratusclassicalacademy.blogspot.com

A Year of Holidays With Mrs. Warde

Teaching about holidays is one of our homeschool gaps. Besides Christmas and Easter we haven’t discussed or taught our kids much beyond mentioning “Oh, yeah, today’s Valentine’s Day,” or “What do you want to be for Halloween?” I really want to remedy that. I got discouraged last year when I picked up the Hurray for Today book and found a lack of actual facts, invented facts, and a completely anti-God viewpoint. This year when I was looking through the Scholastic dollar deals I found The Scholastic Big Book Of Holidays Around The Year. This book’s brief explanation of the different faiths that holidays come from is respectful and much better than pretending that none of these holidays came from any religious observance.

The book is written for teachers of regular-sized classrooms, and is adaptable for any elementary-aged child. It gives a brief summary of the origins of each holiday, the meaning of its symbols, and some activity ideas as well as several book recommendations. It covers all the major holidays, national and minor holidays, and even adds in some that I had never heard of, including the birth of Confucius and Hispanic Heritage Month. We’re not going to do every single holiday in the book this year. But we will be using it through the year, possibly for several years in a row.

My idea for sharing this with Sandbox to Socrates readers is to post a plan several days before the actual day so that you can celebrate along with us. The plan for November is to celebrate Veteran’s Day on the 11th and Thanksgiving on the 28th. (Unless it’s a worldwide holiday, we will be studying American holidays this year.)

The Big Book of Holidays Around the Year is now available for just $1 until November 8 through Scholastic Dollar Days! If you’d like to get it and work along with us or see all the things that we aren’t doing this year, check it out!

In the picture: Meet Builder Boy (6) Early Bird (4) and Lady Bug (3 months)

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at sceleratusclassicalacademy.blogspot.com.