Christian Kids Explore Chemistry Planning Session

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry Planning Session

This week I am laying out our Christian Kids Explore Chemistry notebooks. I am pretty excited to be teaching chemistry this year! Although I love the experiments in the book, I am planning on adding two or three more to our class each week.

I chose to keep the notebook divided by the units outlined in the book. Thankfully the CD that came with the book helped to print out the student pages for each lesson.

I did make a section for vocabulary. My boys are already doing a lot of writing in their other subjects, so I typed up the vocabulary on address labels. Then I created a page with outlined boxes in two columns. Since the labels are white, I chose to print the blank boxes on yellow paper.

My oldest does have an extra section for the elements. I found an extra book A guide to the Elements that gives a brief history about each element. Choosing 3 a week, he will do a notebook page on each element. My youngest will do the element cards as outlined in Lesson 4 of the book Christian Kids Explore Chemistry.

If you would like a cover page for your chemistry notebook here is the one I made for my boys, chemistry-notebook-page

Since I was on a roll with planning, your students might enjoy a little hangman with their chemistry vocabulary. This was a hit for our first class! hangman-chem

If you are looking for more information,  The Homeschool Scientist did a product review of Christian Kids Explore Chemistry.



Homeschooling, Teens and Contracts

Teens and Accountability

Some days my teens share scripture with me, cook dinner and ooze maturity. Other days they forget to do math or to take showers. Even melt in a mess of emotions when I least expect it.

I wish first thing in the morning,  I could knock on their bedroom doors and ask which one is coming to breakfast.

How do you keep teens accountable with schoolwork, when you never know which attitude you will have in the morning?

At our house we have a school agreement, a verbal contract. I have typed up a list of school subjects and activities that must be completed every week. I have printed off a stack of them and on Sunday I put the date on one and hand it to my teens. I want them each week to check off the subjects as they finish them up. They know that on Friday at 3:00p.m. They must have completed everything on the list. If they have not, then the weekend is cancelled. Now I do offer grace on weeks when our schedules have exploded, but I communicate any changes before Friday. My teens can ask for an extension, and after hearing their cases, I accept or decline the request.

I have seen other contracts that state very specifically what is expected and what exactly the punishment will be and is signed by both parties.

Currently our agreements are a verbal contract, although I am thinking about writing up a formal one. The past few weeks my son has been stating his assignments are done and upon close inspection, I am finding blank answers. It seems he is forgetting to ask the questions he has in order to complete the assignments. Maybe a written contract on having blank answers will cause you to lose your iPod for the weekend will help.

Have you used contracts with your teens?

High School and Internships

High School and Internships
This year I am blessed to have a senior and a freshman in my house. I am almost done with one and just starting with another. Every school year has looked different over our career as homeschoolers. This year Thursdays are Internship Day.

I went to the owners of the company I work for (Bright Ideas Press) and asked them if my oldest son could spend one day in the office each week. It would be a chance for him to learn some of the different computer programs and experience an office environment. He will be earning his technology credit for the time spent there. We will also document what other things he accomplishes and might be able to give him another credit in career exploration. I know he will learn life-skills that will serve him well in adulthood.

A close friend of the family is expecting baby #3. They already have a 3 year old and 17 month old. The agreement for this internship looks like this, during the mornings my daughter will be helping with childcare and in the afternoons some light housework. My daughter will earn a credit for health. Her human development book walks her through the developmental stages and Thursday’s have become her lab time. She will be able to focus on appropriate activities and nutrition for this age group. Once again we will log all her time and she may earn an additional credit.

Now since I still have 2 younger kids at home, they have also found an internship. My 6th grader is going to help me clean a friend’s home. It’s his chance to earn some money, which allows us to begin teaching budgeting and tithing. Not to mention the proper way to clean.

My 3rd grader is going to be the teacher’s assistant for my friend who runs a kindergarten co-op at her house. Although he will enjoy a lot of the activities, it is a great opportunity for him to be the leader. Not something he gets to do a lot of being the youngest of 4.

Have internships played a role in your homeschool? Are you looking for one? Try finding a small business owner or friend who can share their gifts. Start asking around, you never know what door may open up.

All American History Jr. Government Lesson

All American History Jr.
After a quick trip to the library to gather books on the three branches of government, I printed out the folderbook figures and notebook pages from the mini government lessons in All American History Jr.


All American History Jr Warm-up Lesson:

  • To introduce our government lesson I placed 12 items on a cookie sheet. I chose items that related to different kinds of government. Some of the items I found were: courthouse building, dagger, dart gun, queen figure, a ruler, pencil of the presidents, army men, and a crown.
  • Then I covered the items with a towel, putting 1 minute on a timer, I allowed my boys to study the items. When the timer went off I covered the items back up. Then they had a few minutes to write down everything they could remember.
  • First I uncovered the ruler and asked what it had in common with government. We discussed how government makes “the rules” we follow. Next I uncovered the crown and queen figure to discuss monarchy and followed by the dagger and dart gun to discuss dictatorship. The pencil and courthouse helped to discuss a republic and democracy.

Now that their brains were warmed up, we read a book on the three branches of government.

Instead of doing another folderbook, I chose to use the figures on a posterboard. I sketched out a 3-branch tree and we taped the folderbook figures on the poster. They cut out leaves and on each leaf they wrote a description on each branch of government. We hung the poster up on the wall to review for the next few days.

I really liked the larger visual of the posterboard and plan to complete a few more this year.

We did go ahead and add the figures for veto, how a bill becomes a law, and Electoral College. Now they are ready for tomorrow’s lessons.


All American History JR Planning Session

All American History Jr. Planning

Today I am spending some much needed planning time on All American History JR. Volume 2.

I am a planner, I love to have things done ahead of time, because the littlest thing can throw me off track, like no tape or printer ink ☺

First I printed out the coloring pages, notebook pages, maps and puzzles for the first semester. Then scanning through the lesson plans to know which map and puzzle go in which lesson, I put together their notebooks.

I use the coloring page at the beginning of each lesson, since my boys like to color while I read to them. Then I added the notebook pages, followed by the map and the puzzles. Any other additional work and activities can be added as we complete the lessons. Keeping their notebooks in chronological order.

I did design a fun cover sheet for their notebooks, later they will color in some of the images and add some stickers. All American History Jr Blank-AAH-cover

Last year cutting out figures, taking notes and assembling the folderbooks really slowed us down. This year we have assembled the books in advance. With a pencil, I labeled the back of the information inserts and placed them in a plastic bag. This way they can just tape in the information and decorate the figures as they read the lessons. My son finds it difficult to pull out the important information from the lesson, I am going to use the folderbook as a guide for that information, and then have him fill in the notebook pages.

I printed out the challenge cards and timeline figures and hired my teenager to cut them out and place them in a plastic bag. Now they are in my teacher bin waiting for school to start.

The week before we actually start school, I am going to spend that time completing the Mini-Government lesson. This should be a great way to ease back into school and get ready for this coming election year!


Are you planning for All American History Jr this school year? Have any ideas you want to share? Please leave it in the comments!


Political Map Done With Cupcakes


Political Map

My daughter decided to make a political map of South America for extra credit for her geography class. It was the last co-op class of the year and we wanted to celebrate the kids hard work with North Star Geography.

Creating a Political Map with Cupcakes:

  • My daughter can get 20 cupcakes per box of cake mix. This time we placed them together and treated them like a cake. She used black icing to create an outline of the country borders. She did her best to copy the outline from her atlas.
  • Once we outlined the countries we choose different colors of icing to fill in each country. It did take a little planning to make sure the same color did not get used for any countries sharing borders.
  • Next some blue icing for the oceans. We did decide to layer the icing so the gaps between cupcakes would be hidden. Most people don’t turn down a little extra butter cream icing. We really like the way the political map looked connected.
  • Now once the design is done, using toothpicks and address labels, we labeled the countries of South America.

For a little bonus we told her co-op that they had to name the capitals in order to enjoy a cupcake!

Of course creating a political map was easier then creating a topographical map but we might be up for the challenge over the summer. Yes the kids did know the capitals and were more then happy to answer the questions for cupcakes.

I recently have seen a periodic table done in cupcakes on Pinterest. Almost make me wonder if we could create an entire unit study on cupcake based lesson plans.

Political Cupcakes


Summer Reading Plan


Summer Reading Plan

We were at the library yesterday and saw the advertising for the summer reading program. I am always shocked how a sheet of paper, a strip of stickers and a chance for a prize motivates my kids to want to spend some of their summer reading!

So fast-forward to this morning, since our bible reading comes from our school curriculum and we are finishing that up. I told my 7 year old, go read you bible. He was immediately lost on what he should read and slumped on the couch. Hmm might need to offer some guidance here.

Summer Reading Plan for His Glory
A Family Challenge

I then remembered I had some great family activity coupons lying in a drawer, the kind of coupons that can get you ice cream for dinner or a special outing with dad. I grabbed a lovely red gift bag and added the coupons to it.

At the end of June, July and August if your reading chart is filled with stickers you can grab a coupon out of the bag! Hmm I might need to come up with a coupon my husband and I can strive towards. It always makes things fun when the kids can check to see how WE parents are doing.


DIY Science Board Game

Health Matters
DIY Science board game: Health Matters

My favorite way to end our science co-op; design a board game! Since we just finished our unit on the Human Body that became the theme for our game.

We decided to base our game on the actual game of “Life.” The goal: acquire a medical profession, buy a medical building and retire with the most money.

We choose 6 medical jobs: Surgeon, Doctor, Nurse, Pharmacist, Physical Therapist and Medical Clerk.

We choose 6 medical buildings: Hospital, Nursing Home, Medical Clinic, Doctor’s Office, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.

If you roll a 1 or a 6 you can switch salaries with any player.

The kids came up with 24 medical ideas for the Health tiles. For instance, “Find a cure for cancer, earn $100.” The tiles will be collected traveling the board and they can’t be read until the player reaches the retirement community.

Then came the real hard work, thinking of different things to write on the squares on the board. A few of my favorite: Lead the group in singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, For a healthy heart do 10 jumping jacks or Leave scalpel in patient pay $30.

Supplies for DIY Science Board Game:

  • We modge podged some Google images to the cards.
  • Typed up the words onto address labels to make the different cards.
  • Then used a black Sharpie pen and neat handwriting completed the board.

If you want to read about last years game “Journey to the Abyss” hop over to my blog post at Bright Ideas Press 

If you need some help in getting started with making your own DIY Science board game:

Math Formulas in Color

Math Formulas

When my son started adding instead of multiplying when doing area, and couldn’t remember to take ½ of the number when doing triangles; I knew we needed to stop and help his mind sort out the information rolling around in there.

First thing I did to help him is color code the math formulas, this really helps form a picture in his mind.

Since he was counting numbers into the trillions I wanted to review place value. It is a great math concept to color code. Place value cups can be a hands on way to learning place value.

Then we discussed what items in life that he could picture in his mind that had perpendicular and parallel lines.  We added the compass rose to help with perpendicular and railroad tracks to help with parallel.

To remember that perimeter is adding the numbers I used addition signs in the corners.

Then when we moved into area problems I shaded the problems to help him remember that area is the inside of the shape.

We did make the h in the triangle formula a little different, but in his mind angling the H and putting the right angle line on it helps him remember.

Now we have reference sheets for when we are teaching the lesson for the 20th time and it all “seems new” to us.

Take a risk and try adding color to math formulas and extra pictures to help remember how things are supposed to work.

Math Formulas2

A Nature Drive


Bald Eagle

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over and ….” Which begins our discussions on the nature drives we have stopped to observe.

This eagle fascinated us when we found him eating his noon meal on the side of the road. He did not seemed bothered by us watching or photographing him. It was the first one we had saw living in the wild.

Most of our observations of nature happen when we are driving down a country road and we come upon some magnificence finds. I bring the car to screeching halt, often putting the car in reverse so the kids can observe.

Sometimes we get out of the car, sometime we just roll the windows down, but most important we stop and watch.

In this day of technology my kids come prepared with iPods, iPads or phones that can take photos.  When we return home the internet answers most of our questions on what we saw.

Often we have to stop for a herd of turkeys that live near by. My boys wonder if they will hide more when it gets closer to Thanksgiving.

Yes, even rainbows and storm clouds have caused me to pull over for photos. My oldest son is always watching the clouds in the sky, he predicts the weather that way.

Nature Drive Observations:

“Mom do you remember when you killed that 6 foot snake?” I laugh and reply, “Gee, I don’t think the 1 ton van I drive was a fair match for the snake.”  But I stopped the van and the boys watched the snake for a long time.

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over to watch the bald eagle eat the rabbit?”

“Mom do you remember when you pulled over and helped the baby turtles get across the road?”

I need a bumper sticker that says, “I pull over for wild life”

Do you stop your car when you see something interesting in nature?