• homeschooling

    Online Classes – alternatives to Outschool

    Live online classes can be plenty of fun. One of the most popular places for them these days is Outschool, which is sort of the Uber of online classes. Outschool has hundreds of teachers who are private contractors, writing and listing their own classes. There is a convenience to having so many online classes all in one place, but there’s also a problem. As Outschool grows they get to set the rules and teachers become replaceable. So it might be worthwhile to check out these smaller locations. Places with Multiple Teachers: Gifted Conference Planners – specializing in classes for gifted learners with different teachers teaching science, creative writing, math, literature,…

  • homeschooling

    Riddle Writing Instructions

    Writing riddles provides a chance to practice several different things at once. The riddle writer has to think about the qualities of an object and how they can describe that object in vague terms. With each clue, the writer has to imagine how others might understand the clue. Writing clues which could be understood in multiple ways helps prevent the clue from being to easy. Sometimes it helps to start by picking a theme for riddle-writing. Riddles can be used to review science terms or to encourage one to think about a historic setting. A reluctant writer might enjoy writing riddles about things from his or her favourite movie or…

  • homeschooling,  poetry

    Train Poems

    If you’ve ever read a Thomas the Train Engine story, you might have noticed that the trains tend to speak in a particular rhythm. “I’m going to burst! I’m going to burst!” cries Thomas when his boiler is plugged with fish. “I hope it’s all right, I hope it’s all right,” Annie and Clarabelle (the train cars) whisper to each other. There’s a rhythm to the train cars speech that resemble the sounds of the train wheels jostling over the tracks. The stories are of course in prose but well written prose often contain elements of poetry. Thomas the Train Engine’s original author, Revered Wilbert Awdry, isn’t the only writer…

  • Picture shows a small Minecraft village.
    homeschooling,  minecraft,  politics

    Political Studies through Minecraft

    I have reopened my Minecraft server in light of the Covid-19 restrictions and the need to have extra online social activities for children. I host events a couple of times a week on Minecraft and Zoom, and the children play on the server whenever they want in between those events. One question came up recently that introduced some very fun questions about political studies. Some children asked if they could have special areas on the server where they set the rules. A child demonstrated what he meant with a list of rules and the punishments he wanted to enforce. Was this allowed, he asked? So I’ve been thinking about that…

  • Picture shows a child's hand holding a styrofoam skull. Text is "Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare: Alas, Poor Yorick, I knew him."
    homeschooling

    Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare through Play

    I love Shakespeare. As a teenager, my best friends and I would hang around in the attic of my house practicing acting out Mid Summer’s Night Dream.  We didn’t understand all the jokes at first, but annotated books helped us learn them and we became familiar with the rhythm and language of his works. I still hear my best friend’s voices when I read certain lines of the play. Later, as a parent, I was excitedly to introduce my children to his work. I started when they were very young, still at an age where they were playing with wooden blocks. We took to reciting a passage from Macbeth over…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    American Political Studies Resources for Highschool Student

    I am a Canadian homeschooling my children, but we can’t help hearing about American politics. So, my husband and I are insisting that our children learn to understand the American political system as well as the Canadian system. Here is what we are using: The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution is Paralyzing Democracy by Daniel Lazare. My husband recommended this one for understanding the limits of the American system. Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville. De Tocqueville was a Frenchman writing about America in 1831. He was incredibly optimistic about the United States and its potential. The West Wing, a tv series by Aaron Sorkin. This television show is…

  • homeschooling

    Day-to-day to challenges homeschooling

    I’d love to say that homeschooling was this paradise of cooperation between parent and children, where we do amazing fascinating projects and have plenty of fun. The fact is, most days are a strange tug-of-war between watching the children pursue their own projects and trying to get them to do just a little bit of schoolwork while also carving out a bit of time for my own projects. Every day is filled with little interruptions and distractions. Some are mild and simple. Some drag me down a rabbit-hole of questions about how I should be responding. Here are just a few: kids inventing their own games and wanting to tell…

  • history,  homeschooling

    Resources for Learning Akkadian and Sumerian

    My current hobby is learning ancient languages, in particular Akkadian and Sumerian. I take a multi-pronged approach. I use an app to help me memorize word lists. I make charts of words and work through workbooks and I watch youtube videos. I look at ancient texts and their translations to be able to see how words are used “in the wild” (in their conjugated forms). I copy sentences. I make lists of related words. Searching for Words The Sumerian online dictionary and Akkadian online dictionary are both very useful. There are app versions. Memorizing Words: I use the app Memrise. This is basically a flash-card app that asks you to…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    teaching civics with reflections on a small town council meeting

    It is Saturday morning and I’m watching a video recording of a town council meeting that took place several provinces away. I’m taking notes to write the story up for my dad’s newspaper. The strange thing is, I actually find counsel meetings kind of interesting. I love the little details of small town life. The minor hockey club asked for their meeting notices to be displayed on the town’s signs. This would add to the frequency of which staff would have to change the text on those signs. The administration is willing to do it but want permission to draw up a policy, because presumably if they put the hockey…

  • Biblical history,  homeschooling

    More notes on attempting to secularize Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World.

    This is the second part of a series of articles exploring the way that Susan Wise Bauer presents Biblical stories in her Story of the World curriculum. In chapter six of volume one she presents the stories of Abraham and Joseph. In chapter twelve she recaps this briefly while talking about the Hyksos invasion of Egypt: These enemies were from Canaan. Do you remember reading about Canaan? In your story about Abraham, Abraham heard the voice of God, telling him to go to Canaan. And do you remember what he thought? He thought, “Why would I go to a wilderness filled with strange, wild tribes?” It is important to note…