Traditional Science Fair Project

One of the main purposes for our science fair is to teach homeschool kids about the amazing world God has made and how scientists use the scientific method to solve problems.  As you probably remember from your school days the scientific method includs the following:

  1. Formulation a question. (What are you wanting to learn about?)
  2. Hypothesis (What question are you wanting to answer?)
  3. Prediction (What do you think will happen?)
  4. Test (What experiment did you do to test your hypothesis?)
  5. Analysis (What did your test prove? Was your prediction right or wrong? Why or why note? Note: it’s okay to be wrong…Thomas Edison sure didn’t invent the light bulb on his first attempt!)

We have found a wonderful printable resource for your science fair poster.  Just type in your answers and print off the pages you need.

What should my child do for a science fair project? Anything that uses the scientific method will be great. For some ideas, here are some webpages/books we have found to be helpful.

Janice Van Cleave books (found in the public library) about Anatomy, Chemistry, Science Fair, etc are great resources for those who prefer to browse through a book for ideas.

Note: Rather than a competition with one winner, our goal is to encourage all children to explore science. We look to see if kids understand what they have studied and can talk about it. We also like to see kids explain a truth about God or the Bible that can be gleaned from their projects.


Agape Lapbooking Class Monday Sept. 10th

Do you have an elementary age child and want to learn more about combining craft time and learning by using Notebook and Lapbooking? Come to this introductory class.  Everyone will go home with a resource list and a FREE lapbook template. Kids are welcome to participate in this class with their parent.

What to bring:

  • Scissors
  • Glue-stick and regular glue (e.g. Elmer’s school glue)
  • colored pencils or crayons

End of the Year Folders

In NC we are not required to do much in the way of record keeping, but I still enjoy doing it.  In the past I have kept a 3 prong pocket folder (for the prek-1st grade years) and a 3 ring binder for the older years full of the kiddos best work.  These are so fun to look through still!  I have also make yearbooks using picaboo or basic scrapbooking.  This year I saw a post about these cute little end of year folders, and I just had to try them for myself.  These are very bare bones as far as work samples go, so I’m sure I will still keep using the 3 ring binder method for a bigger chunk of their work.  But as a best of the best portfolio folder, these are terrific!

Here is Taylor’s cover page.

By the way, I just made this using the simple paint program on my computer.  If you want to try, you can probably do it fancier.

After Taylor’s Cover Page will come a list of her accomplishments for the year.  This includes a list of curriculum completed, classes and activities done, field trips taken, real life learning that happened, and how character is improving.

Taylor’s Accomplishments

 For 2011-2012 (5th grade)


  • Completed 1st 2 chapters of BJU Math 5
  • Completed Teaching Textbooks Math 5
  • 1st 2 chapters of Zoology 1: Flying Creatures
  • Completed Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures
  • A World of Adventure Unit Study: Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece
  • Completed Story of the World Volume 1:  Ancient Times
  • Improved typing speed and abilities
  • Completed 1st half of Sequential Spelling Book 2
  • Completed Level D of Spelling Power
  • Improved editing and grammar with Daily Paragraph Editing Grade 5
  • Completed a variety of writing activities in science, history, and language arts
  • Memorized Psalm 23 and Psalm 24 and Books of the Bible
  • Completed several chapters in the Bible using SOAP bible study method
  • Wisdom and the Millers


Classes and Activities:

  • Weekly play group
  • Candler Christian Homeschoolers Co-op (Zoology 2 and 50 states geography)
  • Celebration Singers Choir
  • Workshop with Jim Weiss on Storytelling
  • Hominy Valley Girl’s Softball Team
  • Pizza to Poop Class on the digestive system and healthy eating
  • AGAPE Christmas Party and Talent Show (Minute to Win It Game Show)
  • Valentine’s Party at Biltmore Lake Clubhouse
  • Co-op Christmas Party and trip to visit Day Stay Clients
  • AGAPE Spelling Bee
  • Snakes class at Mill’s River
  • Bird’s Class at Mill’s River
  • Amphibians Class at Mill’s River
  • Volunteer at Daycare


Field Trips:

  • Charlotte’s Web on stage
  • Vance Birthplace Civil War Reenactment
  • Arboretum including class on arthropods
  • Asheville Art Museum and print making
  • Ripley’s Aquarium in TN including class on fish adaptations
  • Carl Sandburg Home
  • F.B.I. hunt (fungus, bacteria, and invertebrates)
  • Flat Rock Playhouse performing Rutabaga Stories
  • Grove Park Inn Gingerbread House Competition
  • Made our own gingerbread houses
  • WNC Nature Center
  • Health Adventure
  • Knoxville Zoo
  • Vance Birthplace Men and Women’s Tools Class and a guided tour


Real Life Learning:

  • Lots about healthy eating, how the digestive system works, and weight loss due to mom’s RNY surgery
  • Various types of medication- their uses and their drawbacks
  • How to cook healthy, well balanced meals as well as plan for them by taking kitchen duties once a week
  • Organization skills in the home
  • How to use a family calendar to keep track of important events
  • How to follow a schedule
  • Beginning to learn about how to take a list of items that need to be completed and being able to complete them in a timely manner on her own
  • Keeping a house clean
  • Working cooperatively
  • Becoming a mother’s helper and learning how to care for toddler’s and preschoolers
  • Dealing appropriately with peers
  • Working through disagreements within the family and with friends
  • Responsibility for her own clothes care (washing, drying, folding, hanging)
  • Learning about pregnancy and how a baby grows and develops from a single cell
  • Planning and packing for a family vacation
  • Following rules and being under authority- even when you don’t agree
  • Beginning to learn about how home purchases work (loans, credit, real estate)
  • Servant evangelism
  • Hospitality
  • Caring for a pet


Character Improvements:

  • Becoming more honest
  • Developing patience with Isaac
  • Learning to show love with words and with actions


It’s truly amazing to me how much was accomplished this year because I felt like we weren’t doing enough…  This does not even include a list of books we read- and there was a TON.  Unfortunately, I didn’t keep up with a list of them, but I’m going to attempt to do that for this coming year.

After the Work Accomplished pages, there will be a sampling of her very best of the best work done throughout the year.  I’m going to try my very best to narrow it down to about 20-25 pages.  I will probably photocopy them and keep the originals in her 3 ring binder.  All of these pages, including the cover page will go into page protectors and then into a report cover folder.

I’m really excited about this!  I also have Isaac’s accomplishments for 1st grade listed, but I haven’t been able to find a really good photo of him for his cover page.  Guess I’ll just have to take one!

Comment and let me know how YOU like to keep records!

Learning Styles Assessment

For this month only, you can purchase a learning styles assessment through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op for a cost of $3.  That is a savings of 91%.  If you are not yet a member of the Co-op, it is free to join and offers all sorts of benefits even homeschool teacher and student ID cards useful for discounts of all sorts.  Here’s a link to information about the learning styles assessment!

Learning Styles Assessment

Planning for a New School Year Part 3: The Nitty Gritty

I am currently in the process of planning out our 2012-2013 school year, so I thought I would take you along for the ride and show you a real life example of how “I” plan a year.

I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing your own personal goals for your kids. In this post, I’m going to focus on educational goals.  I personally believe it is best to come up with these goals from your own head and prayer time, and not rely on a scope and sequence of someone else.  That way your goals actually are your goals and not someone else’s.  If you are coming up completely blank though, the book What Your Child Needs to Know When by Robin Scarlata can be helpful.  Or a simple scope and sequence found online is at World Book.  Before you go there though, I highly recommend you read the article Curing Scope and Sequence Syndrome.

My goals for Taylor (my 11 year old daughter going into the 6th grade):

  • Work as independently as possible (We are having our 3rd baby in the fall, so this is a necessity.)
  • Begin managing her own time and planning out how she accomplishes the week’s assigned work
  • Schoolwork accomplished in 5 hours or less a day
  • Improve paragraph writing
  • Learn to write a 5 paragraph essay
  • Improve report writing and research skills
  • Learn outlining to the 2nd level
  • Continue to improve editing skills
  • Improve spelling abilities
  • Read from a variety of genres and provide written narration
  • Increase vocabulary and learn to use word roots
  • Get a firm grasp of decimals and fractions
  • Prepare for algebraic thinking
  • Have fun learning about the Middle Ages while developing creativity with projects
  • Improve scientific thinking and improve science vocabulary

As you can clearly see, my goals for Taylor next year have a strong focus on writing skills.  It’s something that I would like to see marked improvement in and my choice of curriculum will reflect that.  I need her to work independently as much as possible, so I am looking at things that will help meet both of those goals.  We will also have a strong use of notebooking in science and history, so she will have LOTS of opportunity for writing next year. 🙂

Now on to my goals for Isaac (7 years old, going into 2nd grade)

  • Gain more independence by alternating working with mom and working alone
  • School 2-2 1/2 hours a day
  • improve neatness and speed in handwriting
  • learn to write a couple of original sentences on topic
  • improve in the mechanics of writing (punctuation, capitalization)
  • improve phonetic spelling and spelling of sight words
  • increase reading level
  • begin to read silently for enjoyment
  • continue memorizing addition facts
  • become comfortable with renaming in addition and subtraction
  • tell time easily
  • learn skip counting
  • have fun learning about the Middle Ages
  • have fun learning science and scientific thinking

After I have my goals written down, I make a Course of Study for each child.  I file this along with my goals in my teacher binder.  The teacher binder will need it’s own entire post though!  I use the Course of Study forms found here.  I also color code my kiddos for ease of finding their forms.  Taylor’s paper is yellow; Isaac’s paper is blue.  A course of study is just a list of what subjects you plan to cover in a year, and what resources you will use to cover them.

Taylor’s Course of Study

Isaac’s Course of Study

  • Bible- Finding God’s Promises, Big Truths for Little Kids, Bible, Beginner’s Bible
  • Math- BJU Math 2
  • Phonics- MCP Plaid Phonics 2nd grade, Happy Phonics
  • Reading-list of books to be determined
  • Writing- Writing with Ease finish level one, begin level 2
  • Science- Zoology 3, Junior Notebook journal, co-op
  • History- SOTW 2, Activity Book, Audio CD’s, co-op

After I have the goals, set curriculum selected, and course of study written out it’s time to plan out the calendar.  We always start back to school in July.  I’m thinking that this year I’d like to try a six weeks on and one week off schedule with very light work in December.  You, of course, can choose whatever schedule works for your family. 🙂

Once your books arrive, you can start planning your lessons!

Planning for a New School Year Step 2: It’s All about Style


September-at-Homeschool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you think learning should happen?  What about your child; how do they learn best?  If the answers are different (and they usually are), you are one of thousands of homeschoolers who have to learn to adjust and adapt.  Congratulations!  You’re in for an adventure!

Most of us came from traditional schools where learning happens with the teacher at the front of the room and the students sitting in their desks listening.  Some kids learn very well that way, but others just. can’t. do it.  I happen to have 2 kids that just weren’t made to be sitting all day long.  Unfortunately, that was originally how I envisioned our homeschool.  I always wanted to be a teacher and this was my chance.  {{shaking head}} Poor Taylor.  She just wasn’t made to fit my mold.  It took all of about one hour to figure that out.  By the end of our first day we were both in tears.  This was Kindergarten…

There are a lot of people more knowledgable than me about figuring out learning styles and teaching styles, so I’m just going to point you in their direction.

The first recommendation is again, Cathy Duffy’s book, 100 Top Picks for Homeschool.  The beginning chapters of the book really help you get your head on straight about your philosophy of education and styles of learning.

I found this website about a month ago that will walk you through your teaching style, goals, values, and your kid’s learning styles.  I did it myself just to see what it said. :-)   It’s completely free.  At the end of the (many) questions, it offers curriculum choices that might work for your family based off of the answers you provided about yourself and your kids.  It’s based off of Cathy Duffy’s book that I have already mentioned so this might be the way to go if you can’t get your hands on the book.  Be warned- it takes a long time to work through, but it also makes you think about things and that in itself can be beneficial.  It’s called Home Ed Expert.

Here’s a video about 9 minutes long that will tell you all about it.  It may be just what you’re looking for!


If you don’t want to put the time into that, here are some simple quizes to help determine your child’s learning style, your learning style, and your teaching style.

Another good book about learning styles is The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias.  It helped me a lot in understanding myself and Taylor and why we had such a hard time understanding each other.

Planning for a New School Year Part 1


The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster gives this definition for education:

“The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.”

"Noah Webster," painted by Samuel Fi...

"Noah Webster," painted by Samuel Finley Breese Morse, undated, oil on canvas. 84.7 cm x 72.7 cm. Image courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Compare that to the modern definition of education in the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:

1.a: the action or process of educating or of being educated; also: a stage of such a process
b: the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process <a person of little education>
2.: the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools
Pretty interesting contrast isn’t it?  The important thing here is to think about what education means to YOU.

If you are brand new to homeschooling (or you’ve been homeschooling for years and haven’t done this), you need to start with writing down why you’re homeschooling and what you would like to accomplish at the end of it all.  It’s super important to keep the end result in mind all the time.  A great book to help you work through this is Cathy Duffy’s 100 Top Pick’s for Homeschool.

The importance of the big picture can’t be stressed enough.  If you can’t get Cathy Duffy’s book, or you just prefer looking online, there is an ebook called Developing A Strong Enough Why by Chris and Ellyn Davis that may be beneficial.  Part of the introduction states, “In home schooling your children, if you have a strong enough WHY, the HOWs will take care of themselves. Most problems with home schooling tend to occur because parents get hung up over the HOWs of home schooling. And the reason is, they don’t have a strong enough WHY.”  Being a person that gets hung up on the HOWS of homeschooling myself, this statement really speaks to me.  You can read the rest of this ebook for free here.

You need to ask yourself questions like, “What is most important for my kids to learn?”  This isn’t meant to be specific, grade level skills like I want my son to know noun-verb agreement rules in 3rd grade, but more end result type goals, such as, “I want my children to know how to research thoroughly any subject they need to learn about.”

A website that can help you work through writing down your homeschooling vision can be found here.

So that’s it!  Step 1- Know WHY You’re Homeschooling and write it down!