Learning Resources

Great Space Movies for Your Homeschool

Great Space Movies for Your Homeschool

These scientist-approved space movies offer a fascinating look at how our understanding of space travel has developed over the decades. (Plus they're fun to watch!)

Great Books for Studying Geography in Your Homeschool

Great Books for Studying Geography in Your Homeschool

Knowing where is as important as knowing who, what, when, and how. 

New Resource: Your Guide to Homeschooling 1st Grade

New Resource: Your Guide to Homeschooling 1st Grade by Shelli Bond Pabis

When I began homeschooling, I felt overwhelmed. There were too many books, blogs, and other resources. I wanted a short, sweet guide to help me get started teaching my son. I never found that, so I decided to write one myself.

I’m happy to announce that The Everyday Homeschooler’s Guide to Teaching 1st Grade is now finished and available for you! It’s short, but it’s also packed with information. This book will be helpful to any parent who has a child between the ages of 4-8 or thereabouts. “First Grade” is merely a guide. Not an absolute.

When we officially began homeschooling (that is, according to the state law), I asked, “What are 1st grade students supposed to learn?” Yes, there are books and websites out there that will tell you, and when I looked at them, I started to panic! Are you kidding me? A first grader is supposed to know all that?! 

I calmed down, and ultimately, I used those lists as a guide for some simple lessons, but truthfully, I didn’t teach even a quarter of it to my son that year. Instead, I realized that by creating an environment that would honor his questions and foster his creativity, he was learning more than enough. I knew it was important that I let him use his imagination, play, and start a good routine. When he was five-years-old, I decided to create priorities for our homeschool that are still helping me plan our goals six years later. And the daily habits I set in place that year have helped me tremendously as we dig into more academic work now.

I wrote The Everyday Homeschooler’s Guide to Teaching 1st Grade for those of you who want to teach your children, but you also don’t want them to lose their love of learning. There is a list (not an overwhelming one) about what 1st graders typically learn in school, but then I also show you how to start thinking like a homeschooler. The first grade is the perfect time for setting up good habits that will last throughout your child’s whole education, and I will encourage you to set up the habits that are most important to you. 

Also in this e-book you will find: 

  • a list of the most popular educational philosophies used by homeschoolers today
  • clickable resource links
  • how to create a physical environment that will foster creativity and learning
  • a tip on how to get your child to try something without forcing him/her
  • tips on lesson planning and scheduling
  • tips on how to meet other homeschoolers
  • a secular resource guide
  • suggested reading list
  • and more…

I hope you’ll check out the Table of Contents and Introduction here and also get back to me about this and other resources you’d like to see here on home/school/life. Amy and I are dedicated to making the home/school/life website a complete resource for families at every stage of homeschooling, so we want your input. Thanks!


Summer Boot Camp: 5 Ways to Get Excited about Teaching Literature

Summer Boot Camp: 5 Ways to Get Excited about Teaching Literature

How do you go from reading together to talking critically about books? It’s not hard to do, but a little guidance always helps.

READ THIS

Rethink Your Reading List: Get revved up for the coming year by throwing away all your preconceptions about what and how your kids should be reading and focusing instead on creating an environment where reading is a pleasure, using the choice-based method recommended by Nancie Attwell in The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers.

 

WATCH THIS

Let Imagination Run Free: Reading is all about imagination, and Mac Barnett’s Ted Talk about letting the magic of imaginary worlds infuse everyday reality. If you’re longing for more whimsy and play in your literature studies, this talk is a great place to start.

 

EXPERT ADVICE

Brush Up on Your English: It’s possible to study literature without digging into the English language, but it’s really not as much fun. Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue is a witty reference guide to everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the language we speak, from the origin of swear words to weird syntactical tics.

 

READ THIS

Shift Your Emphasis: Sometimes, you feel like you should be doing more as a reader—how do you teach your kids to read critically, intelligently, and thoughtfully when you’re not really sure how to do that yourself? How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading walks you through adapting your reading to a more rigorous bent—without sucking all the fun out of it.

 

LISTEN TO THIS

Make Poetry a Habit: It’s nice to think about making poetry part of your everyday life—and it’s easy to actually do it, thanks to the Poetry Foundation’s poem-a-day podcast, which features a poem (usually read by a poet) every day. Add three minutes to your routine, and make poetry part of your schedule.

 

This list is excerpted from our Summer Boot Camp Guide in the summer 2016 issue of HSL.


Summer Boot Camp: 5 Ways to Get Excited about Teaching U.S. History

History is more than just names, dates, wars, treaties, and timelines. If your homeschool history class could use a boost of inspiration, use this summer to kick things up a notch with these history resources and ideas.

History is more than just names, dates, wars, treaties, and timelines. If your homeschool history class could use a boost of inspiration, use this summer to kick things up a notch with these history resources and ideas.

READ THIS

Go Beyond the Textbook: History professor Will Fitzhugh believes that history teachers and students should be reading good history books—not just textbooks. Some of his faves for your summer reading list: Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough, Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer, Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson, and The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough.

 

WATCH THIS

History, Meet Technology: Historian Thomas Ketchell explores the complex question of whether facts matter in an age of instant-access information and how to use technology to make history relevant and engaging in this Ted talk. Ketchell’s ideas about Twitter and Minecraft in the classroom may not be a perfect fit for your homeschool, but they’ll definitely make you think about new ways of considering history.

 

EXPERT ADVICE

Rethink Where You Begin: If your U.S. History plans start on the Bering Strait bridge, historian Annette Atkins says you may be missing the chance to make history truly relevant for your student. In this essay, Atkins explains why she starts her history classes with current events—and how that gets students excited about diving into the past.

 

READ THIS

Shift Your Emphasis: The point of history isn’t to memorize a bunch of facts but to be able to interpret and analyze historical documents and events so that we can construct meaningful narratives about the past. Why Won't You Just Tell us the Answer?: Teaching historical Thinking in Grades 7- 12 walks you through how to shift your history studies from memorization toward interpretive and interrogative examination.

 

AIM HIGHER

Encourage Deep Research: The Concord Review publishes original historical research by high school students. For kids who are passionate about history, crafting a 4,000- to 6,000-plus-word essay in strict Turabian style to submit for publication can be a highlight of a U.S. history class. Browse some of the published work— it’s quite impressive—and consider encouraging your student to submit.

This list is excerpted from our Summer Boot Camp Guide in the summer 2016 issue of HSL.


Fun Posters for Your Homeschool Rooms

Maybe it's just me, but winter always seems like a fun time to spruce up the old school room (or living room or back porch or hallway). We've rounded up some delightfully nerdy posters to give your space a little lift.

Full of wacky examples, passionate about things like the difference between they're, there, and their, and illustrated by images like barfing pandas, the Oatmeal Grammar Pack posters may not be for everyone. But they're hilarious and packed with truly useful information for growing writers.

 

Fun Posters for Your Homeschool Rooms


I love the gorgeous DNA Double Helix print from Grammatical Art, but you can also find cool dinosaur prints, playful grammar posters, and other science artwork in this shop.

 

Fun Posters for Your Homeschool Rooms


Outmane Amahou's minimalist graphic prints condense the history of art to a few indelible images. There's a pretty healthy roster of options, so you can put together a wall to go with your art history studies.

 

Fun Posters for Your Homeschool Rooms


This groovy space alphabet by Fifty Five Hi's has tons of information and cool, vintage schoolroom style. The shop's Dino Alphabet is also pretty fab.

 


More inspirational than informational, the Be Radical poster by Ink & Sword makes science look good.

 


One of the most stylish anatomical posters out there, this typographic diagram of the heart by Ork Posters is a great science poster when your schoolroom is also your dining room.

 


I have a weakness for British history, so I am a little obsessed with this Kings and Queens of Britain poster by Supertogether.


7 Great Resources for: Young Chefs

7 Great Resources for: Young Chefs

Want to make cooking a regular part of your homeschool routine? These resources will help your kids get hands-on in the kitchen.

7 Great Resources for: Critical Thinking

From board games to books and curriculum, these are some of our favorite critical thinking resources for homeschooling.

Looking to add a little more critical thinking to your homeschool life this summer? We’ve got the scoop on some useful resources, from online games to full-blown curriculum, that will help you out.

nature study: What's At Stake? #18
Turn your next geocaching adventure into a test of logic. (You don’t have to be in Pennsylvania to play, but if you like the idea of playing closer to home, why not create and submit your own geocaching logic puzzle?)

 

board game: WFF’n’PROOF
Lots of games teach critical thinking skills, but this board game was developed specifically to introduce students to the fundamentals of symbolic logic. 

 

computer game: FTL: Faster Than Light
Your goal in FTL is always the same: deliver an important message to the Federation without getting captured or stalled by ship malfunctions along the way. But thanks to a pretty darn sophisticated game matrix, this 2-D game never plays the same way twice. Every decision you make, from quests you agree to take on to what upgrades you give your spaceship, affects your gameplay. This is a game that rewards thoughtful, intelligent playing over shoot-and-run-as-fast-as-you-can strategies.

 

book: What Is the Name of This Book?: The Riddle of Dracula and Other Logical Puzzles
Add mathematician and logician Raymond M. Smullyan’s puzzle labyrinth to your summer reading list, and your brain will get a serious workout. (The book includes solutions—with detailed explanations.)

 

workbook: Mind Benders
I know! We never recommend workbooks. But this series (with books for ages from preschool through high school) encourages to students to deduce increasingly sophisticated connections between people, places, and things to solve puzzles. It’s pretty awesome.

 

curriculum: Building Thinking Skills
It’s easy to find critical thinking resources for younger kids, and by high school, students are ready to tackle inductive and deductive logic—but what about middle school? The Critical Thinking Co.’s Building Thinking Skills curriculum is the perfect critical thinking resource for this in-between age.

 

class: How to Think Like a Philosopher
The University of Hawai’s’s Philosophy for Children program developed a toolkit to help kids break down big ideas by looking at some of the assumptions, implications, examples, and reasons behind them. Shelly Denkinger uses the toolkit as a basis for exploring everything from pop culture to Plato in this five-week class for high school students. It’s a great first step to more in-depth philosophy studies.