star wars

The Hero’s Journey: A Book and Movie List

The Hero’s Journey: A Book and Movie List

The hero’s journey is so prevalent in film and books that it makes a great jumping off point for a comparative literature study, and these texts are a great place to begin.

At Home with the Editors: Shelli's Kindergarten

Welcome to Shelli's kindergarten: a hands-on, project-based environment where learning is all about fun. #homeschool

Every year, Shelli and Amy open the door and invite you to step inside their homeschool lives. (Please ignore the mess!) We talk about the resources we're using in our own homeschools and how we structure our days. There are lots of ways to homeschool, and we don't think our way is the best—just the one that happens to be working best for our particular families at this particular time.  If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better! Today, Shelli's talking about how she homeschooled kindergarten this year.

This is my second time homeschooling kindergarten, and I can assure you, it’s so much easier the second time around! I know without a doubt that as long as I’m spending quality time with my son, reading to him, letting him explore, and most importantly, giving him free, unstructured time to play, I can’t go wrong with kindergarten. 

The nice thing about being a younger sibling is that you pick up so much information just by watching your older sibling. My six-year-old watches and sometimes participates in his brother’s lessons. He hears books read aloud that are well above his level. He can help out when we do a science experiment, and he loves art day, too. With my first son, I didn’t know any other homeschoolers until he was four or five, but my younger son has been going to play dates since he was a baby. 

My older son was in the third grade this year, so his work was harder and more structured than any year thus far. As a result, my six-year-old had much more structure to his days than his older brother did at six years old, but the upside to this is that he still had lots of time to play by himself while I was working with his brother. I think letting children learn how to play by themselves is so important. Not only does it give them important skills that they will need in the future, it is also very helpful to their parents in the present moment!

 

CURRICULUM

Language Arts

This year I’m slowly helping my son with his reading skills. I have tried a variety of resources (just like I did with my older son), and thankfully, I am much more patient than I used to be. We spend about 30 minutes on language arts three days a week. I don’t worry about whether he’s keeping up with his peers because I know from experience that it’s better to let children learn how to read at their own pace.

Here’s what I’ve used and will keep using for the foreseeable future:

In addition to this, my six-year-old has enjoyed listening to My Father’s Dragon, Charlotte’s Web, Calvin and Hobbes and a variety of storybooks this year.

Math

I use Life of Fred with my older boy, but that curriculum just didn’t seem right for my younger son. Instead, I’m using Singapore’s Primary Math Textbook 1A with Home Instructor’s Guide (U.S. Edition) with great success. Actually, I’ve been using it much longer than this school year. We do lessons three days a week, and I am carefully going through every worksheet, game and activity with him.  When we finish this set, I’ll move on to the next level.

I don’t worry about completing any curriculum in one school year. For me, I am more concerned about making steady progress at my son’s pace.

My six-year-old seems to love math. If you ask him, he would say he didn’t like math, but actions speak louder than words. This kid is always asking me math questions, he loves to count things, and he’s always noting the time. He even wanted to join his older brother in learning the multiplication tables! 

All other subjects

At this age, I don’t do any formal lessons in science or social studies. I am confident that through our daily life and major interests, he is getting all the instruction he needs for these areas. We watch nature, science, or history documentaries every day, visit museums frequently, and he attends classes and camps at the local nature center and botanical garden. 

I try to make every Friday “art day,” and we have read about artists, the history of art, and visited the local art museum. For history, we read books and watch documentaries. (My husband is a history professor, so I’m not worried about history.)

My six-year-old loves birds, so we have spent a lot of time observing birds, reading about them, drawing them, and listening to the sounds they make on our bird guide app. 

The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that if you are curious, engaged in life, and open-minded, your children will learn so much through their daily life. Very little instruction is needed. (Of course, for unschoolers, they feel no instruction is needed at all, and that works for many families too.) 

I do teach my children certain subjects, but mostly, I try to fill our house with books and tools, and I give them plenty of time to play and ask questions. Especially for kindergarten, this is all we need.  

Please offer your kindergarten tips in the comments section below.


Monday Pep Talk No. 34

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

3 FUN THINGS TO DO THIS WEEK

May the Fourth be with you! Shelli has a great roundup of fun ways to celebrate Star Wars Day on Wednesday with your family.

Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Find a participating shop near you, and score a shiny new comic book for free.

Get hands-on with a simple art project, and paint your own version of budding spring trees with this cake tempera paint tutorial.

 

3 IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK’S DINNERS

I have been craving these smushed lamb meatball burgers since I discovered them.

Shakshuka is one of my favorite quick dinners, and this smoky white bean version looks terrific. Think of it as an outside-of-the-box take on breakfast for dinner.

Shrimp curry with chickpeas and cauliflower tastes like you spent all day cooking it but comes together fast enough for an it’s-so-nice-we-stayed-too-long-at-park-day dinner.

 

ONE GREAT READALOUD

Celebrate Leo Lionni’s birthday on on May 5 by reading Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse, a whimsical story about a real mouse who years for the affection given to a mechanical mouse toy.

 

ONE THOUGHT TO PONDER

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.
— A.A. Milne

 

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (BECAUSE SOMETIMES YOU NEED SOMETHING STRONGER THAN INSPIRATION)

salted chocolate matzo toffee


Monday Pep Talk No. 22

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Monday pep talk, a little jump-start of inspiration to help you start your week on a happy note.

3 fun things to do this week

Friday (Jan. 29) is National Puzzle Day—celebrate by putting your puzzling skills to the test with some of the brain teasing puzzles in a book like A Case of Red Herrings or Mind Benders.

Obviously any fire-making project requires responsible kids and parent supervision — but how cool is this science experiment that shows you how to make fire from ice?

If you’re still channeling a lot of Star Wars excitement, you will definitely want to check out Code.org's galaxy coding activities.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

The au jus makes this easy French dip (and you can totally substitute deli roast beef for the home-cooked version with no negative side effects). My daughter insists this must be served with sweet potato fries, but I like a salad on the side.

This cheesy cauliflower soup will warm you up from the inside out — and it’s one of those soups that can make you fall in love with a vegetable you don’t normally seek out.

You probably already have everything you need to make this Filipino chicken porridge in your fridge and pantry.

 

one great readaloud

It’s Lewis Carroll’s birthday Wednesday (Jan. 27). so Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the perfect book to read aloud this week. Snag a copy of the Annotated Alice — the sidebar notes are fascinating.

 

one thought to ponder

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”   
― George Bernard Shaw

 

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}


Monday Pep Talk No. 13

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled dose of Monday inspiration—last week, we needed all the inspiration we could get to finish up our fall issue. (Have you read it yet? Because there's lots of inspiration in there to carry you through to the holidays.)  

3 fun things to do this week

If your clan is getting super-excited about the new Star Wars movie (please don’t screw this one up, guys!), perhaps you should get started on a Death Star piñata to tide you over.

What better way to celebrate Apple Day (Oct. 21) than with a trip to your nearest pick-your-own orchard?

Make your own Hogwarts library with this tutorial for making wizard school textbooks. (Don’t you think a fancy Arithmancy cover would make your geometry book seem 20 percent cooler?)

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Beans on toast is one of those dinners that you can throw together on particularly harried nights, and this garlicky white bean version is particularly yummy.

Celebrate Octoberfest with bratwurst with creamy apple compote. (Save the leftover compote to serve with pork chops later.)

Use your pastry blender to mix up the ingredients for these easy black bean burgers. (We like ours with sweet potato chips.)

 

one great readaloud

Dial-a-Ghost
By Eva Ibbotson
 

In the spirit of Halloween, pick up Eva Ibbotson’s delightful Dial-a-Ghost: A mistake at the ghost assignment agency sends the screaming evil ghosts to a nunnery and the friendly family of ghosts to a country house—which is lucky for young Oliver, whose guardian plans to scare him to death so he can seize Oliver’s inheritance. Of course, hijinks ensue.

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}


Stuff We Like :: 6.5.15

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

At Home

Perhaps the best part of this time of year is seeing all the critters around our house make homes and raise families of their own.

Right now we have a cardinal mama sitting in a nest right outside our living room window! When my eight-year-old discovered her making the nest, we got all giddy! I'm going to post whatever pictures I can on our Facebook page, so be sure to follow us there for updates.

 

Around the Web

My husband is always finding cool music videos for us to watch, and this week the boys especially liked this Star Wars spoof by the Piano Guys. After all, they are Star Wars geeks.

Speaking of music, my husband has been talking up the Songza app, and I think it's pretty cool too. It has some ready-made playlists for all your listening preferences! I only wish I had more time to listen.

My five-year-old loves dinosaurs. Does that surprise you? My husband has been telling him stories about Dig Dig the Dinosaur every night for about two years, but lately he has found some relief by showing my son these funny dino comics instead. (Only one year and 360 days of reading these every night to go!)

 

Documentaries

As I've written before, everyone in my family is a documentary junkie. These past few weeks we have been enjoying watching a wonderful set of documentaries on Netflix that are produced by Off The Fence Distribution. We have enjoyed Wildest India, Wildest Indochina, Wildest Middle East, and Wildest Islands, just to name a few! They focus on the wildlife of each region, but the shows also touch on history and the intersection where humans and animals meet. They are very unique and have shown us places that we have never seen before!

Also on Netflix, we've been loving Modern Marvels. Who would have thought that learning about food trucks could be so interesting?!

 

Homeschool

For a long time, I was wanting to find a way to introduce current events to my eight-year-old in a way that he would find engaging. Luckily, I found News-O-Matic in Apple's app store (it's also available in Google Play and on the Kindle). We have been experimenting with the free trial version, and it took awhile for it to become habit, but finally I found it worth it to purchase the unlimited version. ($19.99) The best part of News-O-Matic is that kids have the choice of reading articles or having it read to them. There are also slideshows and videos attached to some stories, and plenty of other ways to interact! The articles are kid-friendly while also covering important topics of the day.

 

Reading

A friend of mine loaned me I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and this book captured my heart! (You are probably familiar with Dodie Smith's 101 Dalmatians.)

I just finished reading The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate by Scott Nash to my eight-year-old, and he and I loved it. It does have some issues, though, so be sure to read my (forthcoming) book review before you buy it for your children .


Stuff We Like: Spring Edition

home|school|life's Friday roundup of the best homeschool links, reads, tools, and other fun stuff has lots of ideas and resources.

Shelli and I have been hard at work planning the summer issue (lots of good stuff coming up!) and some exciting changes to the website, but we’ve also been enjoying the pleasures of springtime life. Here are some of the things making us smile this spring.

:: I have been reading so much for our summer reading report in the next issue that I feel like I haven’t cracked a book for my personal reading list in ages. (Though I did reread The Boarded-Up House mystery with my daughter.) My 1st grader is reading (with lots of help) The Burgess Bird Book for Children and listening to Will in Scarlet as an audiobook. My 7th grader is reading nothing but manga and listening to the Beatles' Hard Day’s Night pretty much on repeat in her room. I think we may have a case of spring fever. (But I do have Station Eleven on my night table based on Suzanne’s recommendation!) —Amy

:: Am I the only person obsessed with Foyle’s War? I am a sucker for a period mystery, and it’s the perfect background for knitting. —Amy

:: I got sucked into the Pinterest vortex last year and made a quilt out of pillows, but oh, wow, am I glad I did. We have been dragging it into the backyard every day for school time, hang out time, and (not infrequently) dinner. It’s actually very easy to make but not so easy to store. And making it did help me stick to my personal Pinterest rule of one pin in, one pin done. —Amy

:: We have been having so much fun playing with The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting: Build a Weather Station, Read the Sky, and Make Predictions (one of the books from our spring issue’s nature resources roundup). There’s nothing like making your own barometer to appreciate the changeable nature of our springtime weather. —Amy

:: With spring’s arrival, we have been enjoying watching many songbirds move into our wooded yard to make nests and find food. My boys frequently refer to the iBird South app on our family's iPad to identify the birds and hear what sounds they make. (There’s an app for each region, so click on the link.) My boys have also enjoyed the Audubon Plush Birds they received at Easter, and I love them because they play real bird sounds, which are provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Seriously, I have yet to separate my 5-year-old from his wood duck, which he had been asking for for a long time! —Shelli

:: Since my boys (including the adult one) are total Star Wars geeks (and, frustratingly, two dvds checked out from two different libraries had too many scratches on them for us to watch), my husband recently purchased all the Star Wars episodes on iTunes. (It’s the first time they have been released in digital format — get all the details here.) Not only are we watching all six episodes, we are also watching all the “extras” that comes with it, and for us, that’s what makes this purchase worth it. The “making of” documentaries, deleted scenes, and other interviews with people who have worked behind the scenes are making this a fun, educational experience. Since we are watching only about 30 minutes a day, this is going to stretch out for weeks too! —Shelli

We picked it up at a library book sale thinking it looked fun, and sure enough my 8-year-old loved The Mad Scientists Club. Though this collection of stories is pretty old — it was written in the 1960s — it was still a fun, clever read. It’s about a group of boys who call themselves the Mad Scientists and get in all kinds of mischief as they outsmart the adults in their small town. My son is eager for me to get the next book in the series. —Shelli

What's your family loving this spring?


At Home with the Editors: Shelli’s Project-based Homeschool

At Home with the Editors: How Project-Based Homeschooling Works for Shelli's Family

When Amy approached me about working on home / school / life, we both agreed that we wanted a magazine and website that would welcome all homeschoolers no matter what their style or reasons for homeschooling. We continue to strive to bring you a variety of resources that will inspire you as you consider what is best for your family. Because we know most homeschoolers enjoy sharing the resources and insights they have learned through homeschooling, we thought we would start a series on our blog about our own homeschools. If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better!

This is my second post about our homeschool. In my first one, I listed all the curriculum and resources I use for the more formal part of my sons’ homeschool. Monday-Thursday we spend about two hours on our “lessons,” and on Fridays, we do an art lesson. But after our formal lessons, or on a day that I dedicate to it, I make myself available for what to me is the most important part of my son’s education – his own projects. These are projects that are completely initiated and controlled by him. I consider them important because it’s through these projects (or interests) that he is learning how to learn, how to do research, how to make decisions, what to spend his time on, learning what he’s really passionate about, and he is developing his imagination and problem-solving skills.

robotics-1.jpg

So what is project-based homeschooling, and how do I do it? I wrote the definition that you will find in home/school/life magazine’s Toolkit, the magazine’s guide for beginning homeschoolers (we define eleven of the most popular methods of homeschooling), so I will include that here:

Project-Based homeschooling (PBH) is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, and the term was coined by Lori Pickert. It is a method in which parents become mentors to their children in order to help the child direct and manage his/her own learning. Children may undertake long-term projects and will be given the time and tools that allow them to dig deep into their interests. PBH can be used in conjunction with any curriculum or style of homeschooling, from classical to unschooling.

But it’s much more than that too, and it’s not easy to explain how I do PBH in a blog post, so instead I’ll give you a few snapshots of what my son has accomplished while I have used these techniques. Though, in many ways, I was already following his interests and creating an environment where questions, creating, and discovering were encouraged, I am thankful for the tips I’ve received by following PBH. I’m not sure I would have mentored him as well without them. So I’ll try to explain some of what I’ve learned during this process as well.

i-GFNdxNr-L

When my eight-year-old was five, I learned to take one of his crazy ideas seriously. That is, an idea that didn’t seem educational at first and an idea that was going to be time-consuming, messy, and wasteful too. Instead of giving a quick, “that won’t work,” or “but you’ll need to do this to get to that work,” or “we don’t have time,” or “that would make too much of a mess,” I just let him do what he wanted and see for himself how it would turn out. This was his attempt to a make a Celery Lettuce Cake. (He learned for himself that it didn’t make a very palatable dish, but oh the fun he had! He took it so seriously, and I was happy with his effort.)

z 2011-14-L

When my son was interested in the Titanic, I began to understand how to let him lead a project and how letting him make mistakes was important to this process. It also taught me how a well-placed suggestion can be golden. This project even proved to me that enduring temper tantrums was worth it because in the end he had a product that was completely his own, and he was so proud of it! (Yes, I helped him make it, but he was the designer and director, telling me what to do. I only made suggestions when he was completely stumped and looked at me for help.)

cardboard model Saturn V-L

When my son wanted to make a model of the Apollo Saturn V, I learned more how to balance that “let him lead” with “help him when absolutely necessary.” But more importantly, I was able to see how important it is to show my son examples of other people working on projects, failing, and trying again. (This has helped those temper tantrums!) Watching the documentary When We Left Earth, which is about the NASA missions, was perfect for this.

carnivorous plant project-16-L

When my son was very interested in carnivorous plants, I had the opportunity to model to my son how we could seek out other experts to learn from. I also learned how some projects will peak but then stay in the background over years because my son is still interested in the plants, and he still grows them, although he doesn’t actively seek to learn more about them right now. But whenever we see them in a documentary or find a live one, we get very excited!

Some projects are short, others are long, and others meander like winding rivers, popping up here and there. I have learned to connect the dots in my son’s projects (journaling helps with this), and I’ve learned that his deep interests include nature, science, and building things….

Looking back, I also see how important it has been to create an environment where materials for creating and building were readily available to my son. It’s also been important for me to show him how to use these materials, say “yes” a lot, and not worry about the messes. We began making paper animals together when he was four, and slowly, I have seen that my son is a true builder and maker – someone who likes working with his hands.

pottery-6-L

Because I’ve let him use a variety of mediums, I have been able to see what he has a true interest in because these are things he continues to go back to and ask for more. One of these has been working with clay—to the point where he has taken pottery classes at a nearby studio. And also building lots of structures with cardboard, including a model of the Mayflower, a big robot, and two Star Wars ships.

2013-2014 cardboard creations-4-L

Each of these building projects, such as that awesome Mayflower ship, could have been a different kind of project. We did learn about the Mayflower, read a book about it, but it wasn’t the history my son had a deep interest in. As he continued on to make airplanes, boats and other things, I see he’s a builder and a designer. Even his special interest in Star Wars, I think, is largely due to his deeper interest in the models created in making the special effects and the robots used in those movies.

So it was not surprising that as soon as he learned what robots are, he became interested in that, and now he has a robotics kit. He’s teaching himself computer programming too. (I haven’t written about that yet, but you can see the photo at the top.) I have also noticed how he has watched NOVA’s Making Things Wilder at least four times so far. It, coincidentally, combines all his deep interests. (It’s about bioengineering.) The first time he watched it, he leaned forward in his chair, and said loudly, “I want to do that!”

Ben creating-1-L

My five-year-old also has interests, and I’ve been seeing him work through a few projects of his own, though they meander and they aren’t as likely to produce something solid I can show the world like his older brother’s creations. He has been interested in dinosaurs for a very long time, and we have read countless books, watched many documentaries, visited museums, and he plays with his toy dinosaurs frequently, making a sort of “dinosaur land.” (So don't worry if your child isn't into building, art, or tinkering. Projects are simply a long-term investigation into an interest, and what your child produces could take on many forms.)

I also do a lot of modeling for my younger son because it seems to be the best way to encourage him in his interests right now. For example, he loves to draw, so I started my own sketchbook habit, and whenever I pull out my sketchbook, I usually inspire him to do the same.

I have learned with both my boys that the best way to get them to do something is to just start doing it myself! Having my own interests, learning about things that I’ve always wanted to learn about, and casually sharing my own process of exploration with them, is one of the best ways to mentor without pushing an agenda on them. Even if they don't have the same interests, they are learning my behavior and investigation techniques.

I have also learned that it is okay to require certain work from them that I dictate (whether cleaning the house or doing a math lesson), but when it comes to their own projects, I should let them be in charge, and sometimes that means letting them quit before something is completed. I remind them of their work, encourage them, but if I ultimately want them to be in charge of their education, they have to take ownership. So I have learned to take away my own expectations of my children and let them blossom in their own time and through their own discoveries.

Are you interested in learning more about project-based homeschooling? I am always accessible to anyone who would like to discuss homeschooling or who has any questions. Just email me. If you want to talk on the phone, we can set up an appointment. (FYI: My advice is free! I love chatting!) Also, here are a few links for you:

  • You will want to read the book What Is Project-Based Homeschooling? by Lori Pickert, see her fabulous website, and join one of her forums. She is also very accessible through her social media, forums and even email, and she offers classes too.
  • I have written extensively about this journey with PBH on my blog, and I will continue to do so. See my page Project-based Homeschooling. There is also a very good interview with Lori on my site about beginning PBH with younger children. Click here for part 1 of that.

At Home with the Editors: Shelli's Homeschool

Inside Shelli's Homeschool: At Home with the Editors

When Amy approached me about working on home / school / life, we both agreed that we wanted a magazine and website that would welcome all homeschoolers no matter what their style or reasons for homeschooling. We continue to strive to bring you a variety of resources that will inspire you as you consider what is best for your family. Because we know most homeschoolers enjoy sharing the resources and insights they have learned through homeschooling, we thought we would start a series on our blog about our own homeschools. If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better!

This year, I’m homeschooling my eight- and five-year-old sons….or, 2nd grader and pre-kindergartner. But those grade levels are mainly for the sake of family members and my planning purposes. I don’t worry too much about grade level because I want my boys to learn at their own pace. So, while they may be at grade level in most subjects, they may be above or lower in other subjects. None of it matters to me as long as I see that they are progressing, and more importantly, becoming life-long learners, which I know they are!

When I started homeschooling, I felt strongly about a few things. First, I wanted my boys to be able to move around, play, and use their imaginations frequently. I felt young children learned through play more than through sit-down lessons, but there were things I thought they should be exposed to, and I still feel that way. Back then (which wasn’t very long ago), my focus was to immerse them in literature and storytelling and explore the world together, especially the natural world. We still do that, but as my boys get older, we are adding more to their curriculum, and we are also following their interests.

I let my children’s interests, abilities, and learning styles guide me when I’m picking out resources to teach them with or finding extracurricular activities. When it comes to my own teaching goals, I let my sons’ abilities lead me on what to stick with and what to wait on. But I especially want my children to have significant input in their education. I explain to them why we have to learn some things, and then we discuss what they want to learn, and we put a lot of time into their ideas and projects. I use project-based learning techniques to help myself in this area, and I’ll write about that in another post.

Having said all that, what do I use for their formal lessons? Here’s a list of what I’m using for my eight-year-old right now and also a few resources we have used in the past and that I plan to try again with my five-year-old when he’s ready.

Reading & Language Arts

The closest thing to a curriculum I have used for my eldest son was Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but we’ve used various resources over the past few years. One of his favorites was Starfall.com, and my five-year-old has enjoyed that too.

Now we use Brainquest’s Star Wars Workbooks because both my boys love Star Wars. He is currently using 2nd Grade Reading.

I can’t begin to list the books we’ve read together, or write about all the storytelling, or the puppet shows we did when he was little. Let’s just say our homeschool is rich in language arts. (But you can read my article, What’s in a Story?, in the Spring 2014 issue of home / school / life to learn how to start a storytelling ritual in your homeschool.)

In order to teach writing, I’m using some methods that I learned about on Patricia Zaballos’s blog, and I’m happy that my son has recently started dictating a book to me.

Photo by Shelli Bond Pabis

Photo by Shelli Bond Pabis

Math

My son loves the Life of Fred series. We are currently at Dogs, but we’re taking a break from it. I love Life of Fred too, but I find it lacking in teaching a strategy for adding and subtracting easily and helping him memorize the facts. Because of that, I have recently started both my boys on the Singapore Math curriculum, and I like it. Though it’s still too early to say if we’ll stick with Singapore, I think with both Singapore and Life of Fred, they’ll have a strong math foundation. I am taking my time with teaching math to both of them because I want to make sure they are solid on every concept before we move forward.

 

Science

There has been no need to do any formal science lessons yet. Our daily lives are rich with science because it has been my son’s biggest interest. We have learned a tremendous amount together through various resources. Together as a family, we watch nature and science documentaries everyday – yes, everyday! We also attend the monthly homeschool science classes at our local nature center. My son has also attended programs and camps at the local botanical garden. (You can read my Hands On Science column in the magazine for more details about our science activities.)

 

Social Studies

I have not felt the need to do anything formal here either. Through the documentaries, conversations with his parents, visiting places of interest, and celebrating the major holidays, we’ve got this covered. It also doesn’t hurt that daddy is a history professor. I am planning, however, to use the Story of the World books at some point. My husband skimmed the first volume and gave it a thumbs up!

 

When do I teach?

I do formal lessons with my boys Monday thru Thursdays for no more than 1 to 2 hours each morning after breakfast. Fridays are art days. (I get most of my art lesson ideas from home / school / life’s art columnist, Amy Hood.) I spend the rest of the mornings, and sometimes the afternoons, helping my son on his own projects, or we might go visit our friends, go on a hike, or do any other number of things that although my boys don’t consider “school,” I do. Most of all, they have plenty of time to move, play, and use their imaginations, which is what I always wanted for them.

 

Questions? Ask away! And please feel free to share what has worked for your family too.


Fun Ideas to Celebrate Star Wars Day in Your Homeschool

13 ways to celebrate Star Wars Day on May 4.

Fun list of ideas to celebrate Star Wars Day in your homeschool.

DO THIS

Pull out all your Star Wars-themed Halloween costumes along with the toy light sabers, and wear them all day. Be sure to say, “May the Fourth be with you” to everyone you meet.

Host a star Wars marathon by watching all the movies (or, you know, at least the good ones). You’ll want to do this anyway in preparation for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams and due in theaters next December.

Make Star Wars cookies with cute Star Wars cookie cutters by Think Geek, or order Star Wars M&Ms.

Make a Star Wars pinata that looks like Yoda or Darth Vadar, or buy this really cool pinata of the Millenium Falcon.

Make your own lightsabers. Use pipe insulation — wrap one end with gray duct tape for the handle, and use colored tape for the lights.

If you live in California, get an early start at the official Star Wars Celebration from April 16-19, 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center. There you’ll get to meet some of the actors from the movies and shows and maybe even George Lucas himself.

If you are in Seattle, you might enjoy Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume, a traveling exhibit at the Seattle EMP Museum. View 60 costumes from the first six movies and get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist’s work.

If your kids like Stars Wars and storytelling, they may enjoy the Star Wars Scene Maker app, which is made for the iPhone or iPad. It won “Best Creative Fun Award” at the 2014 Tillywig Toy and Media Awards.

Play a round of Star Wars Monopoly. (There are a few different versions, so shop around.)

 

READ THIS

If you really want to geek up on your knowledge of Star Wars, The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film or Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle will fill you in on all the nitty-gritty details.

 

Star Wars: Jedi Academy
By Jeffrey Brown
 

My eight-year-old adores the Jedi Academy series by Jeffrey Brown. The third book is due to come out this summer.

 

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars retells the classic space epic, Shakespeare-style. Forsooth! —by Shelli Bond Pabis