Wax Museum – Authors

One thing Parker was bummed about missing in 4th grade in public school was getting to do the wax museum project. So of course we just incorporated it into our curriculum! In public school here they choose someone from Arizona and research them and then they have a “wax museum” where parents get to come and push a button for each “wax figure” that makes them come to life and they get to give their speech they have prepared. I don’t see much benefit from learning more about someone just because they happen to be from Arizona so we decided to switch it up and do different themes. This year we chose: authors!

Look how cute they look up there! Our oldest was bummed she was going to miss their presentations so we took video which I’m so glad I did because it will be fun to watch them over the years. Parker was a ham and after his presentation he “powered down” and froze again, it’s fun to see them have fun with these projects.

Anyway, I had them fill out these simple forms so they knew what type of information was most important. Simple but gets the job done.

Here is the download if you want to print copies:

The next step was to write out a summary in first person and then practice, practice, practice. Finally, they chose costume and we did the presentations. We chose authors on Monday, researched Tuesday, wrote out summary on Wednesday, practiced and chose costumes on Thursdays and Friday morning and then had the presentation on Friday afternoon. You could easily drag this out and have them read a book by the author and stuff like that but I wanted this done sooner so we could move on. Next year we are going to choose a scientist so I’m hoping to drag it out more then so we can learn more details about each of their accomplishments and maybe do some experiments ourself. I’ll probably have a list of scientists for them to choose from so I can have a general idea of what to expect.

Final reveal of this years wax museum:

Parker was Dr. Seuss

Andi was Lucy Maud Montgomery.

All in all it was a huge success and we’re excited to make this an annual thing. We learned a lot of interesting things about these authors but most importantly it instilled a curiosity in our kids about authors in general. We have been doing quite a bit of googling “Why did _______ write the book ______?” or “Interviews with ______” to learn about the personalities of different authors. I love seeing our children crave learning and want to take the time to look things up for the themselves. It’s one of the greatest blessings that come from homeschool, less “I’ll learn what someone else tells me is important to know” and more “I’m curious about this, lets learn about it”. It’s the best!

Star Student

One thing I knew we would take from public school and incorporate into our homeschool was star student. Who doesn’t love feeling special and singled out in such a positive way? Since we only have 3 kids we are doing homeschool with they got to be star student for a whole quarter. They have something special we do each week and they get the occasional candy with a little card on it which is always a surprise. For example, we may randomly leave a pack of EXTRA gum on their desk with a little note that says something cheesy like, “We think you’re EXTRA special!”

Here is a copy of the weekly items we do if you want to print it. I write in the ribbon the name of the current student of the quarter.

We use THIS poster for week 1 and since it came with so many we’ll be using these for a few years. I’m excited to see how much their answers change over the years for the same questions. With that being said, THIS one is cheaper and also looks like a fun one. There are a ton of awesome ones on Teachers Pay Teachers as well as THIS fun one from Oriental Trading.

Each year my husband makes a video for our kiddos on their birthdays of pics of them from the previous year so for week 6 we watch each of the videos for the start student. That may need to be changed for your household 🙂

One of the weeks the kids get the MOST excited about is the last week when they get their star student book. Each family member writes a page for the star student saying some things they appreciate about them, then as a family we fill our our top “10 Reason We Love You” and there is always a cover page and closing page that is designed specifically for each child.

Here is the printable version of the 10 Reasons We Love You if you are interested

Parker was our most recent student of the quarter and since he is obsessed with all things Star Wars this was his closing page of his book

Here is the file if you want to print it:

Tyson really outdid himself with Parker’s cover. Now we have to get as clever and fun with all the kids next year.

I’m noticing I tend to end most of my post the same way but it really is how I feel…friendly reminder that above all else it’s all about having fun and making memories so it doesn’t have to be perfect, just have fun with it!

xo,
Jenny

teaching our kids table manners

We may not use proper etiquette at all times in our kitchen but I certainly wanted our kids to at least have some decent table manners to apply both in our home and when they are in others’ homes. We would talk about a couple things here and there with the kids but once we started homeschool I knew I wanted to do a more proper “lesson” as part of our home ec class.

We started our lesson/discussion by learning about setting the table properly. I printed out a place setting for reference as we discussed it. (we used the #4 template. it’s simple and that’s all we need) Then we learned about some of the table etiquette:

  • wait for everyone to receive their food – we talked in a little more detail about what this would look like in different settings such as at home, a friend’s house or out to eat somewhere. We also talked about how you would handle some of the food at a restaurant coming and some not having their food yet. Of course we also talked about the WHY behind we why we wait
  • include everyone in the conversation – we went through some topics that are inclusive as well as how to steer the conversation back to being an open conversation. Again, we talked about the WHY behind the importance of including everyone in the converstaion
  • be open to trying new things – this has always been a rule in our house. You don’t have to like it and you don’t have to finish it, but we encourage you to try it. With that all being said, we talked during his discussion about what that looks like when you are in someone else’s house. Using phrases like, “I’ll try a little please” or “no thank you, but I’m excited to eat this____” and name another dish they are serving. We also stressed the fact that if there is nothing you like there you just wait to come home to eat, you DO NOT ask them to make something that is not at the table.
  • no elbows on the table and have good posture – this had been discussed around the table before so we just touched more on the WHY behind it
  • always say please and thank you – this didn’t take long to discuss since they are already rockstars with this habit
  • put your fork down between bites – ok this is less manners and more just a healthier way to eat. I do think that it is polite too because you are less likely to inhale your food or talk with your mouth full amongst other reasons. We did talk about the health benefits of it as well: being able to take the time to listen to your body and know when it is time to stop eating or when to ask for more.
  • help with clean up – we talked about this being after a meal, after a church activity or following a party. Look for opportunities to help clean up and see it as a way to SHOW your gratitude to your host.
  • compliment the host – thank them for the meal, thank them for having you over. We also talked about when you have been served a meal that you maybe didn’t love. You can keep it simple with, “Thank you for having me over.” or, “Thank you for dinner” and just keep it at that but if there was something you loved at dinner then call it out! What host or hostess doesn’t love to hear that someone loved something they prepared?!
  • depart with gratitude – “Thank you for having me” or if you someone is coming over to pick up their child from our house, “Thank you for letting them come over and play.” At risk of sounding like a broken record, we also talked about the WHY behind it. Parents take their time out of their busy days to make sure we set up playdates and run kids around and we’re happy to do it, but it’s also nice to hear appreciation for it.

There were a handful of questions and topics that came up while we discussed but I didn’t write them down. We had fun with it though and gave different scenarios of situations they may find themselves in and how they could handle it. We also had fun acting out good posture, being proper and the opposites of both. The next morning we set up the table for a nice family breakfast (which seriously never happens…we’re usually a cold cereal family so the kids were thrilled) and the kids put their table setting abilities and table manners to the test.

I patterned this lesson after what I found HERE along with what I remember being ingrained in me growing up. 🙂 We have great, well mannered kids and it was fun to see them get into it even more following this lesson. I’m all about allowing kids to be kids, it is a HUGE reason why we started homeschool but I’m also very determined to have our children look very young what it looks like to have good manners and be polite and considerate of others. Discussions and lessons like this help us achieve that.

xoxo,
Jenny

Reading Bingo

As always I’m going to make this short and sweet and right to the point. We started playing a regular “Reading Bingo” to encourage the kids to read more when they get in slumps.

The best part is there is a bunch of ways to play. See who can get BINGO first, play until a blackout, give a set time and they have to see how many they can get done and whoever has the most wins, etc. Our reward always changes…a small treat, stay up an extra 30 minutes, dessert on a weekday, etc.

And there you have it. Hope it helps encourage your littles to read, too!

Sight Word Bingo

This is a fun game to get your preschool &/or kindergarten age kids to practice their sight words. Our little Zoey is just starting preschool so she needed a lot of help at the beginning but she is already starting to catch on. She loves feeling like she is doing “real homework” like her siblings.

Recite a sight word, have them look to see if they have it on their paper and then mark it if they do.

The following document has 3 different cards with sight words on it and then a list of site words for you to use to call them out. Here is an example of what the cards/sheets look like.

That’s it! Super simple, fun for kids and free for you! Happy learning, happy practicing!

Here is the free document to download!

3 read out loud books for multiple ages

Here are 3 chapter books we loved and would highly recommend for families that have a range of ages they are trying to appeal to.

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh. This book is short, only 11 chapters and 54 pages. Based on a true story, Sarah travels with her father to a new colony to begin a new life where she learns to befriend new people and that the greatest courage is not to never fear but to be brave in the face of fear.

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates is an amazing read. One of our favorite books, it had all of us captivated from the very beginning. It is a great mixture of educational, you get a very real sense of what captured slaves had to endure, but it is also inspiring to read how Amos Fortune, son of a king in Africa, overcame the challenges set before him. You will find yourself moved, inspired, in awe and unable to put this page turner down.

Sometimes there is just nothing like a classic! I was so excited to read The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden to the kids and even more excited when they loved it as much as I had. This is a great book if you want to discuss how books can have multiple lessons all depending on the reader. A cricket, perhaps the most unlikely character to be in NYC, discovers a hidden talent and teaches those around him a valuable lesson in learning to slow down and enjoy the simple things.

I hope your family loves these books as much as we did. Follow for more book reviews to come!

Compound Words Practice

Some fun, quick pages to practice compound words. Great for morning work, refresher, summer or seasonal breaks when your kids need to do some worksheets to earn some more screen time.

The following attachment has these two documents and answer sheets.

I got majority of those words from some 6th grade worksheets I had seen but with that being said, our 2nd grader also did these sheets and was able to get them all.

Happy learning!

Math BINGO!

I am always trying to come up with new ways for the kids to brush up on their multiplication and this is such a fun way to do just that. I read the problem and they have to think of what the answer is and then look for it on their card.

Flashcards are only fun for so long but can you really practice multiplication enough?! It just makes math so much easier in the long run when they know them so well. At first you may need to play slowly depending on the grade level but eventually you get to the point where you try to see how fast you can go through.

Attached is the document I made for us to play. It has 3 playing cards and the problems I used to make them.

This definitely makes me want to come up with some more games to practice multiplication because this was a huge success.

Parts of Speech Game

While working on the parts of speech why not make a game out of it to keep them practicing?! You will need a Scattergories dice with letters on it and make your own dice template like the one below.

Once you print the template fill it out with the parts of speech you are working on. We did verb, adverb, noun, adjective, pronoun and then “your choice”.

Have your child roll the dice. Look at what part of speech has landed up and then at which letter is facing up. They have to give an example of that part of speech that starts with the letter that is shown. Example: you roll “noun” and “r” and you could say, “remote control”.

One of the great things about this game is watching your kids easily remember what each of the parts of speech is. I would quiz them here and there before on what an adjective or verb was and they would always hesitantly reply. Now, we can be out somewhere and I will say, “Verb, S, go!” and they will immediately respond, “verb is an action…squatting!” It’s always fun seeing progress in your kids! 👏🏻

If you don’t have a Scattergories die no worries! Just print two of the templates and fill one of them in with 6 common letters such as T, S, R, W, N, M.

Hope you have fun!

xoxo,
Jenny B