Interesting Hobbies for Homeschool Students

Playing a musical instrument, learning dance forms, picking up a foreign language and learning how to paint are common hobbies. They help children explore their creative side and also give the homeschool teacher a break from the regular syllabus and studies. However there are a number of other options that make for interesting hobbies. Here we discuss a few of them.

Astronomy

A simple telescope and a good web search are a great way to start out on this hobby. Teach your homeschool student all about stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets and anything else that you can spot in the night sky. Take a camping trip and use the telescope to better effect without the city lights interfering with your vision.

Bird Watching

Another fairly simple hobby to take up. A good pair of binoculars and a visit to the local park is all you need to start. Get photographs of the feathered friends you spot so that you can come back home and identify them. See how many birds the homeschool student is able to name after a couple of months of regular bird watching. If they are more artistically inclined make them draw the birds. Collect the drawings in a file as a record of birds that have been spotted.

Collecting Riddles, Tongue Twisters and Proverbs

This one is a hobby that needs to extra resources or materials from the homeschool point of view. Use the internet to find interesting websites that your homeschool student can find material on. Now ask them to write down the best stuff they like in either a hand written journal, or have them blog about it on a free blog online. Great way to keep them motivated is to share their material with friends and family members.

Up-selling

Doesn’t everyone love to get a bargain. Up-selling involves exchanging something you own and do not use, for something you will use. For instance your homeschool student can exchange an extra pen for play dough with a friend. The idea is to find a new home for old stuff you are not using,

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Didactic Activities for Homeschool Families

Formal lessons for reading, writing and arithmetic aside, there has to be place for having a good time with your homeschool students. Some activities that may be enjoyed by the whole family, but may still end up being learning opportunities are explored over here. You can add to the list with activities you favor.

Going for an Auction

While attending an art auction may not be very interesting to younger children, the slightly older ones may enjoy understanding how the whole process works. Explain the way it works to them before you reach the venue. Then once you come back home you can have a mock auction of your own. Allow them to auction of drawings and art work in exchange for sweets or treats. Or if you are particular about their sugar intake, you can use some other currency for them to trade with. Going through the full process of generating art and auctioning it can be a solid teaching experience.

Crossword Puzzles

These can be found in books, or downloaded off the internet, you can even find a few apps on your smartphone dedicated to crossword puzzles. Depending on the level of difficulty, you can have the homeschool students attempt them on their own or as a team. Special bonus prize for the ones who manage to solve it before anyone else. Great way to sneak in extra words in to their vocabulary. Plus you don’t need to restrict yourself to crossword puzzles, as there are a number of other games out there waiting to be played.

Researching Alternative Medicine

Through the ages the wisdom of grandmothers has come in handy when dealing with illnesses. A number of practices like feeding someone chicken soup for a cold actually have been scientifically proved to help the ill person feel better. It would make for an interesting project if your homeschool students found out what all they could do when they are not feeling too well besides popping antibiotic pills. Have them record what they are researching and make it an ongoing, fun project that everyone in the family can add to.

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Celebrate National Engineer’s Week this week!

Once a year, engineers and scientists all over the world go out into the community to inspire and educate the public about engineering, showing them how exciting it can be!

When I was teaching at the university, our engineer engineering department would go out into the community (usually at a huge outdoor plaza) and set up some of our incredible student projects to excite the local kids and inspire them to want to become engineers. (Most kids still think an engineer is the person who drives a train, instead of someone who designs machines like airplanes, cars, bridges… things like that.)

One time, as a demo for the public, Cal Poly set up their in-progress gigantic Human Powered Helicopter. Here’s a video of a test flight:

And here’s a video of the actual winner (not Cal Poly!) who created a design that flew and won the competition:

Teaching Innovation

Okay, so how can you share engineering with your kids and students? When I was a university instructor, one of the hardest things to teach was innovation and creativity. One way that I did this is with Odyssey of the Mind activities. Here are three of them you can do with your kids. Normally, kids are only given 8-10 minutes per activity, however you can do these activities as long as your kids are interested and excited about completing each challenge. Offer prizes if you feel that would add value to the challenge as well!

Building Bridges

Given: Ten popsicle sticks, 3 pipe cleaners, a ball of clay, 3 clothespins and a 12-inch piece of tape.

Challenge: Build a bridge that will extend over a 8.5″ x 11″ (or 9″ x 12″) piece of blue paper. Using match box cars, kids get 20 points for every car that is supported by the bridge. They also get 1-10 points for team work and 1-20 points for the creativity of the bridge structure (but these last two types of points apply only if it holds at least one car).

Flying Saucer

Given: Two paper plates, 20 toothpicks, 5 drinking straws, 2 plastic forks, 10 paper clips, marbles, 1 foot masking tape and poster clay.

Challenge: Suspend or elevate a paper plate above a table and put marbles on the plate without having them fall off. Students have 3 minutes think time when the team is allowed to talk, then 5 minutes to construct and finally 2 minutes to put marbles on. Note that there is no talking during the last two parts, but other communication is allowed. (If this is really hard for your kids, you can allow them to communicate through all three parts.)

Shipwreck

Given: Five paper clips, 5 straws, 20 wooden sticks, 2 10-inch pieces of tape, 6 rubber bands, a paper cup, pennies and a bowl of water large enough to float your structure.

Challenge: Build a raft that will float. The raft hold the paper cup while putting pennies in as weights, and each weight is worth 10 points. The problem is finished if the raft falls apart or could not float. Students have 2 minutes to think and 3 minutes to build the structure.

Going Further

If you’d like a more in-depth project to do with your kids, here are some of our most popular on our website:

You can learn more about National Engineers Week here!

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Finding Friends for Homeschool Students

Socialization is by far the most discussed issue regarding homeschooling. Those who do not homeschool their children feel that without regular school children will not know how to interact with their peers and authority figures.Time and again homeschool families have been asked to defend their choice. To provide proof that their homeschool students are indeed normal, well adjusted children who have no problem interacting with who they wish to.

The school is a good place for children to meet other children and make friends, but it is no way near the only place they can do so. There are a number of options for homeschool students to make friends with others. Here we go through a few such possible locations. Needless to say this is just an indicative list and many other options will exist. Find one that is comfortable for your family and try it out.

Sunday School

Even if your homeschool family is not overly religious, having the children attend Sunday School does more than teach them scripture. They will meet a cross section of children from different social and economical classes in church. The children will learn to get along with people from diverse backgrounds as they perform a common activity. Being charitable and giving back to society are traits that they will naturally develop.

Boy Scouts and Girl Guides

If getting along with peers while you do useful activities is necessary for socialization, you can’t ask for a better bet than the scouts and guides. They learn useful skills along with making new friends. The team activities will help foster team spirit and earning badges will make them feel motivated to do more good work. What more can you ask for.

Sports Teams

Playing a team sport is a great way to cultivate the personality of a child. They learn to get along with others, work towards a common objective, take advantage each other’s strengths and motivate each other to perform the best they can. You can pick up any physical sport and add the benefit of getting regular exercise to the long list of advantages here.

 

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Potential Drawbacks of Homeschooling

It would be great if life always went to plan. Everything you wanted to do, got done. No one messed up the day’s schedule and all was right as rain every single day. Unfortunately a homeschool teacher will know from personal experience that things rarely go according to said plan.

In fact most of them would even go so far as to say that things got done in the homeschool classroom despite the original plan. Staying flexible is not an option, it is a necessity. What are the potential drawbacks of homeschooling that you should be aware of before you decide to homeschool?

Time is Precious

There are only 24 hours in the day. When you begin to teach your homeschool students it cuts into the time that you would have had for other activities. Working or Single parents who homeschool will appreciate what a huge drawback it can be to lose hours and hours to homeschool. Being super organized is no longer a choice but a way of life.

Costs Add Up

It takes more than just the books and notebooks to teach your homeschool students. From setting up the homeschool classroom, to organizing your study materials and resources, there are going to be more than a few unplanned expenses that suddenly demand attention from your wallet. Needless to say catering for them will throw the budget out of kilter.

Patience is a Virtue that Seems to Disappear

While you may have the perfect disposition, being around your children all day, everyday can take a toll on your patience. Especially on days when they are restless and mischievous. Taking control of the homeschool classroom constantly can become quite a difficult task. You have to monitor and curb your frustration and anger all the time.

Juggling Different Grades and Learning Styles

Unless you are blessed with twins and triplets, all your homeschool students are going to be in different grades. Not to mention the fact that each child could be blessed with a different learning style. What works well with a visual learner will not work as well with an auditory learner. This will increase the work for the homeschool teacher.

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Iodine Clock Reaction Experiment

First discovered in 1886 by Hans Heinrich Landolt, the iodine clock reaction is one of the best classical chemical kinetics experiments. Here’s what to expect: Two clear
solutions are mixed. At first there is no visible reaction, but after a short time, the liquid suddenly turns dark blue.

 

There are actually two reactions going on at the same time. When you combined the two solutions, the hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) combines with the iodide ions (I) to create triiodide (I3) and water (H2O). The sodium thiosulfate (S2O32) grabs the triiodide to form iodine, which is clear. But the sodium thiosulfate eventually runs out, allowing the triiodide to accumulate (indicated by the solution changing color). The time you measure is actually the time it takes to produce slightly more iodide ions than the sodium thiosulfate can wipe out.

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Can You Afford Homeschooling As a Single Parent?

Yes it would be much easier to afford homeschooling if you could depend on two incomes, but most homeschooling families survive on a single income. So if you are a working single parent and want to homeschool, no one says it’s easy, but it’s totally possible.

Have a Budget for Everything

Planning out the expenses can make it easier to buy what is needed immediately and cater for what is required later. Get down all your homeschool classroom needs on paper so that you can budget for buying them. Also make a list of wants that you can save up to buy later. This way you will always know what to do with that extra money that you manage to save. Plus you can hand out the list to friends and relatives to give as gifts.

Use as Many Free Resources as Possible

The internet is like a cornucopia of treasures for homeschool families looking for free and affordable resources. Get into some homeschool forums online to get a better idea about what all resources are available online. This is better than doing random searches online and hoping to find something that clicks. Look for Pinterest boards that collect good resources as well. Ask your friends who are homeschooling about resources they use.

Make Life a Learning Point

The daily routine offers many opportunities to teach your homeschool students life skills that they will actually use even once they are grown up. Teach them to look after their things, to make their own breakfast and clean up around the house. This will also serve you well as their chores will help you get your housework under control. The older they are the more they can help around the house.

Get a Good Support System in Place

Since there is a chance that you may be unavailable due to work or illness to tutor your homeschool students, you need to have a back up plan. A friend or relative should be nominated as second teacher for your homeschool students. They will take over when you are unavailable. This way your children get taken care off even when you are not doing it personally.

 

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Hot Ice Sculptures

Did you know that supercooled liquids need to heat up in order to freeze into a solid? It’s totally backwards, I know…but it’s true!

 

To supercool a liquid, you slowly and carefully bring down the temperature to below the normal freezing point and it’s still a liquid. We did this in our previous Instant Ice Experiment.Since the temperature is now below the freezing point, if you disturb the solution, it will need to heat up in order to go back up to the freezing point and to turn into a solid. When this happens, the solution gives off heat as it freezes. So instead of cold ice, you have hot ice.

Weird, isn’t it?

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Homeschooling As a Single Parent

There is a general consensus in public opinion that homeschooling is only possible when there is a two parent family, where one goes to work and the other stays home to homeschool the children. The idea of a single parent, working as well as homeschooling, is difficult to digest.

The fact is, there are a number of such single parents out there who do manage to successfully balance the demands of a full time job as well as homeschooling their children. Here is how they manage.

Picking the Right Homeschooling Style

Are you as a family comfortable with classic homeschooling? Would you prefer to un-school? Maybe the Montessori method works for you or perhaps the Charlotte Mason method. The way you teach has to be in sync with the way your children learn. Pick the correct homeschool style of teaching and your battle is half won.

Working out the Classroom Schedule

If you have a regular nine to five job, you can schedule your homeschool classes in the evenings. A couple of hours is enough to cover the theory. Let the children carry the written assignments to the day care facility where they spend time when you are at work. You can also enlist the help of the adult at the facility to give your child the worksheets in an organized manner.

Plan Ahead and Organize

The one thing you can not afford to be is unprepared. Spend some time each weekend when you are off from the job to plan ahead for what all needs to be covered in the upcoming week. Having detailed lesson plans and activity schedules will make it much easier for you to handle what needs to be covered.

Enlist Tech Aids

Smart Phone Apps, YouTube videos, website based quizzes and a whole lot more can be used without direct presence of the homeschool teacher. Make a list of activities that you would like your homeschool student to accomplish using technology and let them learn on their own pace using these tools.

Stay Flexible to Handle Surprises

While having a plan is essential to success, it is important to be able to go with the flow when the plan gets messed up by life. Just stick with the basics and everything will eventually fall right back into place.

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Helping Homeschool Students Write Better

Writing is a primary skill that every child needs to master in order to get anything done. A homeschool student needs to be taught the proper process of writing to ensure that he develops the skill. Here are the steps that they should be taking.

Think About the Topic

There is a lot of information that can be shared when you write about a topic. It is important to know what you wish to communicate to your reader. Also consider the purpose for which the writing is being done. Is it to inform someone about something new? Is it to reinforce what is already known? Is it to showcase what you have discovered? Your slant on what you need to share will make all the difference.

Organize All the Available Material

Research is an important part of writing. You need to find out details that you may be sketchy about and substantiate them with facts. Everything you write should have a meaning and a purpose. Once you gather all the details, decide exactly what you need to write and what can be left out.

Pick the Right Words

The correct vocabulary can make a lot of difference. For instance you can use the phase “the smell of rain” and while it is correct, it will not make the same impression on the reader were you to make use of the word, “Petrichor”. They both mean the same things but the latter shows off your vocabulary.

Be Grammatically Correct

The most common grammatical errors are what bring down an excellent report or essay. Make sure that the sentence structure is correct when you write anything. Try and keep your sentences short so that you can avoid making more mistakes.

Proofread to Catch Mistakes

No matter how careful you are, a few errors will always sneak in to any thing that you write. By doing a proofreading of the written piece you will be able to find and correct these errors. Don’t try to proof read immediately, but wait a while after writing. This allows your brain to take a fresh look at what you have written.

Make Edits to Improve

As you revise your work you will find a number of edits that can help make it better. At sometimes you may need to add more facts, and at others you may need to cut down long winding statements that offer no value to the reader.

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