my experience and plans teaching with Minecraft

My kids and I are eagerly working on our minecraft server these days. We build scenes and then add non-player-characters (NPCs) the scripts of which we write using a plugin called Betonquest. The boys built a fairy kingdom full of mushroom houses. With their help, I wrote up conversations for the fairies based on Shakespeare’s fairies in A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. We added a nine men’s morris board built of a grass path, like the “the quaint mazes in the wanton green” that the Shakespeare’s Titania had said was “for lack of tread are undistinguishable.” For each snippet of Shakespeare Continue reading

using an incomplete knowledge of Shakespeare for meaningful discussion

I have written before about reading Shakespeare with kids so they gain some familiarity with the stories and another time I wrote about reading it with kids as part of discussion on language and exploring complex ideas. Today I write about yet another reason to read Shakespeare with children. Today my argument is that Shakespeare gives us a chance to look at the incompleteness of our own knowledge and what scholarship means. We get to do that, all while enjoying the works of a master who filled his works with such amazing jokes and clever ideas. A few years ago Continue reading

I homeschool with a village to help me.

There is a meme I’ve seen going around on facebook and twitter that says “I homeschool because I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.” The meme is sad on so many levels. It is incredibly sad to think of people feeling so isolated and at odds with their “villages.” Whenever I see that post, I have this urge to assure people that not all homeschoolers feel that way. I homeschool but I am grateful to the village that is helping me raise my children. I am grateful to the librarians who help us check in and Continue reading

The not “on-the-to-do-list” list

I wrote a to do list the other morning. I felt pleased about that. I felt ambitious about everything I was going to get done. By two in the afternoon I sat down to mark off what I had got done. There were only two of the seven things done. For a moment I felt dumbfounded, confused by why when I was trying so hard to do things I would fail at getting anything done. Then I started writing a second list. This is my list of things that were not on the to-do-list, but got done anyway. Mop up Continue reading

physical education for homeschooling

I used to think my family wasn’t very into sports. Sure, the kids do curling and swimming, but we’ve never signed them up for a summer baseball or soccer league. For the most part I figured that the kids were always outside running about so I didn’t really worry about physical education. I didn’t worry – until I signed them up for an eight week kids sports program. It was a great community program where the kids could do a different sport every week and what startled me was how clumsy my kids were with the balls. Even the basic stretches at Continue reading

Advice for Choosing Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschooling friends, are you starting to think about what curriculum you will be using next year? The Canadian Homeschooling Blogging Team’s blog hop for this month is about Choosing Curriculum, so I have decided to share my tips and commentary on choosing and using curriculum. I use good quality curriculum materials because I want my children to learn more than I know. I want them to learn math strategies that I’ve long since forgotten, and spelling rules I was never taught. At the same time the curriculum I purchase tends to be expensive. Someone put a lot of effort into making Continue reading

a big muddle of things that come together, sort of, at the end

Lots of things have crossed my facebook feed the last few days that feed somehow into questions I tend to dwell on. These are questions about how we know what we know, whether we can trust our own ideas, and whether telling someone they are wrong is inherently being mean. Thing one: a math fail My confidence in homeschoolers and homeschooling took a strange shake the other day when I saw a woman online offering some pizza pictures for parents to use to teach fractions. The problem was her pizzas were all cut into eighths in thin lines and then Continue reading

Homeschooling in Winter

I love winter, as long as my car will start. Yesterday I ended up at the library with a dead battery, so I had to walk around asking people if they would mind boosting my car. I had booster cables; that was a plus but I have trouble asking for favors. Yesterday I could work on teaching the kids to stay calm in stressful situations and to not be afraid to ask for help. As long as my car will start, I can take the kids to the toboggan hill. My city has gone through a little crisis over whether Continue reading

School supplies for Christmas?

“Poor kids,” one of my brothers said to me on the phone, “they get a whole semester’s worth of schoolwork as Christmas gifts.” That wasn’t quite accurate. They didn’t get a whole semester’s worth of schoolwork. In fact, they don’t realize they got any schoolwork for Christmas. Certainly I didn’t get them any schoolwork – unless you count the lego motors I’m hoping they’ll practice some engineering skills with. They also received some science books, a blanket with the periodic table, some lego gears, and a cookbook. I received a trilogy of Star Wars books rewritten in quasi-Shakespearean style and Continue reading

preparing to teach a class exploring world history through pirates

I haven’t been blogging much recently, because my free time has gone into preparing the course I’ll be teaching in January for the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. Today I want to write a bit about what that preparation looks like. The main thing I’m doing is reading, reading, and yet more reading. I’m reading books that are directly about pirates, but I’m also reading books that are just about the history of the time. Some of the books are popular nonfiction, some are academic. With each book I’m taking detailed notes, and combining the notes together. Today I had the fun Continue reading