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21 Winter Science Experiments for Kids

If you’re looking for some fun experiments to do at home, you won’t want to miss this FREE collection of hands-on learning ideas for both indoor and outdoor science time!

Here are a few of the activities included in the download:

  • Ice-cube-sized Igloos—what’s the special “glue” that holds them together?
  • Rock Candy Sticks—what role do “seed” molecules play?
  • Bath Salts—why do they improve the effectiveness of soap?
  • Crystal Snowflakes—how do they really form?
  • Snow Globes—why do the “flakes” sink in water?
  • Sugar Scrub—how does the sweet stuff clean your skin?

Take a few minutes to download your 21 Winter Science Experiments guide now by clicking the image below!

World Watch News – Current Events and News for Families

World Watch News is a blog sponsor and we received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. You can read my full disclosure policy for more details.

Talking about current events, especially when it involves politics, isn’t typically something at the top of my list. Do I try to stay on top of what is happening in the world around us? Absolutely. However, when it comes to getting my kids involved – well, that’s where things get a little more iffy.

More and more, we are inundated with news stories on every known topic and from a variety of views and opinions. Some of those news stories involve difficult or sensitive issues, and of course we don’t want our children stumbling onto something inappropriate. That said, we do want our kids to be aware of what is happening in the world around us and intelligently take part in conversations about important topics.

This year, the boys and I have started watching a new subscription-based video program: World Watch News. The program is targeted toward middle and high school students (younger students may participate as well, but parents may want to watch a few episodes before everyone jumps in). We are really enjoying the format and have found a few ways to use the 10-minute weekday program to add learning opportunities to our homeschool day.

What Families Need to Know about World Watch

In each weekday 10-minute video segment, viewers learn about a variety of topics: science, technology, politics, arts and culture, politics, natural disasters, and more. The stories are short, but well-developed, allowing students the opportunity to hear top news stories and discuss opinions after hearing the news briefs.

WORLD Watch delivers the news with age-appropriate current events, including issues ranging from science and technology, business and economics, natural disasters, military action, family and society, arts and culture, politics, and more. The program is the newest offering from the trained Christian journalists and editors at WORLD News Group, a news organization producing daily coverage of global, national, and cultural current events, with news stories and commentary grounded in facts and biblical truth.  

Parents will enjoy watching the series alongside their children as well (in fact, I would recommend it). Set aside some time each day to talk about at least one of the stories in depth with your children.

Be sure to watch my video review as well, where you’ll see a bit of the site and can hear my thoughts in person – because sometimes it’s nice to hear instead of just reading!

Our Thoughts on World Watch News

The daily segments have opened up some great conversations between the boys and myself regarding some of the recent news stories (COVID-19, wildfires in California, Supreme Court justices, and our upcoming election). Even though we’re all in the same family, we do have some different perspectives on issues, so this has been a good exercise in sharing differing views with grace as well.

Each day’s news segment include some “feel-good” portions as well, looking at stories that are happening around the world. Over the last several weeks, they have covered the restoration of Michelangelo’s Bandini Pieta, street-side classes in India, the US Open, and a look at the jury systems in the United States.

In addition to watching and discussing the program together daily, we’re using World Watch News to work on writing activities with our boys. After the program is over, the boys take a few minutes to summarize their thoughts on our daily news summary sheet (see end of post for the download).

For us, this has been a great way to “see” how the boys are interpreting what’s happening in the world around and also discuss how friends or others are viewing the same situation. While we don’t want our kids to just mimic us and our beliefs, we do want them to dig deeper and understand WHY they believe what they believe, and we are thankful we have the opportunity to be a part of that process!

One thing that I appreciate, especially with all the crazy that seems to be happening lately, is WorldWatch.news always brings the focus back to the key point: “Whatever the news, the purpose of the Lord will stand.” No matter where you stand on issues right now, that alone is a gentle reminder and encouragement to me each time – and there are many days I need to repeat it.

In short, do we love it and recommend it – yes. And we’re positive it would be a great addition to your home as well.

Start World Watch in Your Home!

Families can start their World Watch News subscription with a monthly option ($9.99/mo) or a yearly subscription ($79.99/yr).

Homeschool Creations readers will receive a SPECIAL limited-time rate of $69.99/year using THIS LINK.

Want a look at how WorldWatch.news is put together? Be sure to visit them on these platforms for video clip samples as well as a full episode:

WorldWatch.news | YouTube | Instagram | Facebook

Recommended ages: middle and high school. Parental pre-viewing is recommended for lower grades – you know your kids and what they are ready for. :)


Download the News Summary Printable

If you’d like to add WorldWatch.news to your daily homeschool time and also use the printable news summary we created, feel free to download it by clicking below!

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Since we’ve done this twice before, you’d think that our curriculum picks would be easy. BUT every year we evaluate how our kids learn and adjust based on their needs and input. One of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that we can tweak programs, switch up the grade level we teach a program, or even completely change to a different program. As I mentioned in this post – each of our kids has been different in their likes/dislikes and focusing on individual strengths is a definite plus!

Swim schedules have thrown everything for a loop in the past, and this year is no different, especially as our local public schools have shifted start dates, pool availability is all up in the air (thanks to COVID), and – well, life in general. Zachary has a fairly decent collection of credits having finished his freshman year, so we are keeping it a bit on the lighter side to see how things go, and we can add additional classes in later if needed.

All that said, below you’ll get a peek at our 10th grade homeschool curriculum choices – a look at the new (and favorite) programs we are using for the upcoming school year. An * depicts curriculum/programs that are new to us this year. 

*feed readers, please click over to the blog for some of the additional links to curriculum

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 6.5

Many of the books also have a video version, so we’re hoping to watch them together (after we read the books, of course) and compare the book to the movie version. It’ll be a little something fun we can do with our co-op friends. Here are a few in our queue: 




Literature

This year, reading/literature is getting quite a bit more “real” for Zachary. His entire language arts credit will be focused on the guide Introduction to Literature by Janice Campbell. Zachary will be reading roughly one book a month for our literature class and writing two to three papers based on each book or short story. For writing reference, he will be using the book Excellence in Literature – Handbook for Writers.

This is a class we will be doing as a small co-op (five kids total), which in the past has been a huge help for all the kids as they get a chance to see/hear what others pick up in their reading. We will be with quite a few of the kids that were in our personal finance class last year, so we are looking forward to getting to know everyone better!

On the side, we will continue working on spelling with our favorite spelling program, All About Spelling Levels 6 & 7 .

Math

We have the book version of Algebra 2, and again this year Zachary will be working on the online version of Teaching Textbooks Geometry (3.0). (We are excited for the 4.0 updates coming soon!) One thing that we will be doing a little differently: because our boys like to solve problems in their head and not work it out on paper, this year they are going to do the problems on paper and give their answers to me so I can enter them – and see the process they are using to work it out.

Last year Zachary had to work through a good chunk of Algebra 1 and Geometry because he let himself get behind, so this year should be a lot easier with only one lesson per day!

Chemistry

A few years ago we switched over to Discovering Design with Chemistry and really enjoyed using it. Before I went through our collection of supplies (big mistake), I ordered this chemistry kit from Home Science Tools. In my defense, I love ordering from them!!

The good news is that the kit they provided came with even more supplies than the last kit I ordered from another company a few years ago (and then had to go search for random items around our house). The bad news is I found the other lab kit when I went to unpack the new one – BUT, we are working on chemistry labs with a friend, so she will have her own set of materials to use. :)

History

We’re using Modern History, a new (to us) program this year, but one that a friend used with her kids and loved – so it comes highly recommended! While it’s a bit different than our typical course, this was one that Zachary helped me pick out – so we’re going to run with that!

One thing that we are looking forward to with this Modern History program is the online and interactive version that it provides. I’m still learning the ins/outs of the program, but it offers an iPad app that has video links for lessons along with other interactive features.

Logic

Introductory Logic is another new program for us, but we have loved the programs that we’ve used from Compass Classroom and it looks like it will be something Zachary will really enjoy. Depending on how quickly he decides to work through the program, he may also work on Intermediate Logic as well for an additional half credit.

Latin/Foreign Language

We considered doubling up in foreign language this year and working on a new Spanish program that will be coming from Compass Classroom (with Dwane White, but finally settled on working only through Visual Latin 2 , the second year of the video-based program we started last year.

Zachary has really enjoyed this program and done extremely well, so holding off on Spanish until next year and making sure he has a solid grasp on that. Last year he established a great routine each week for working through each lesson, so it’s also nice to have something that feels familiar.

Swimming

For those of you who have followed us for some time, our boys are both competitive swimmers and last year were practicing about three hours a day. Zachary has made some really big jumps in dropping times and in getting his technique down (watching him swim breaststroke is so much fun!). We’ve really tried to find a good balance with him as far as when to push and when to back off and let him lead.

We still aren’t certain when his practice times will work out to be as our team is working on finding available pool space, but we do know it will either be only mornings or only evenings – so there’s that! On the bright side, the mornings will be a little bit later than normal for the fall semester, so we will run with that if it happens.

Co-op Learning

We have a small group of high schoolers (Zachary and four girls) that will be meeting weekly to work on literature. Zachary will also be getting together with one of those girls to do the lab part of chemistry (because any labs are always better with a friend). 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Zachary the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

Grammar for Writers from Compass Classroom (Review)

Disclaimer: We received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. You can read my full disclosure policy for more details.

Grammar is admittedly not everyone’s favorite subject to teach. I will say that I DO enjoy it. It’s the English major in me rearing its diagramming-loving head.

That said, for those who do NOT enjoy teaching it, finding resources to help high school students in this area, especially ones that are engaging, can be difficult. Fortunately, Compass Classroom recently released a new program, Grammar for Writers, that may be the answer for some homeschool families.

Grammar for Writers is a video-based, self-paced course designed to help students and writers analyze their own writing, diagnose problems, and write better sentences.

The course builds on a native speaker and reader’s instinctive understanding of language in order to demystify English grammar and sentence structure. The course provides very concrete tools to analyze, diagnose, and repair writing problems.

How We Are Using Grammar for Writers

The lessons each begin with a video component and then are often followed up with a worksheet/quiz for review. Students can read along in the book and highlight if they desire.

Typically Zachary watches the video lesson and completes the quiz the same day, sometimes the next day depending on our timeframe. Not every lesson has a quiz to go along, so there are weeks we work through an additional lesson. Our overall goal is to complete at least three lessons in a week.

Several lessons can easily be worked on each week so the course can be completed in a semester. We had some catching up to do in a different subject area and were down to one or two lessons weekly for a stretch of time, so we won’t quite finish it before Christmas although we are steadily working.

If you’d like to relax the pace a bit, you can easily complete one or two lessons each week and extend the program over the course of the year. Personally I wouldn’t recommend this (just so the content stays “fresh”), but it would allow for the program to be combined with another 1/2 credit class for the year (we are using it in conjunction with Grammar of Poetry during the 9th grade year).

Ultimately, the scheduling part is really flexible for families. Since the class is either DVD or streaming based, you choose when to watch the lessons and complete the program.

A Quick Peek

Here’s a sample lesson from the first unit that will give you an idea on the teaching style of the lessons and what to expect.

  • 41 lessons video lessons (6.75 hours total)
  • Lecture Notes (transcriptions of the videos) in a PDF
  • Quizzes for almost every chapter in PDF form or in the printed book
  • A teacher key for the quizzes

Our Thoughts (and for You to Know)

Over the years we have used various grammar programs and, thanks to my love of grammar, our kids have worked consistently on their grammar skills, because I personally believe it is one of the most important areas to focus on in learning – i.e. so much that we do in other subject areas relies on our knowledge of grammar.

No matter what field our children end up working in, we want to ensure they have a solid foundation in writing and grammar.

We have some children that love (and excel) in the area of grammar and some that could take it or leave it (honest truth). Pretty sure that’s true for most of us in life. You either love the nitty-gritty stuff or you just want to be done with it.

Grammar for Writers offers a program that is more engaging than your typical workbook format. Through the video portion, the instructor, Jonathan Rogers, is very straight forward but keeps viewers interested. Each of the lessons is written out in the workbook as well, providing a way for students to follow along in the book as they watch the lesson.

Getting started with this writing and grammar program is very user-friendly. With the lessons on DVD or streaming, you can quickly pop in the first lesson and get going. We recommend ordering the spiral-bound book (we also have a PDF copy and print the quizzes off so the book isn’t written in).

Although the lesson is written out in the go-along workbook, I highly recommend watching the lessons, as tempting as it may be to only use the book, because there are times that hearing the context is important to fully understanding.

Periodically there are quizzes that follow the lessons (there is an answer key at the back of the book if you need some help). Most quizzes are relatively short and take under ten minutes to complete.

I honestly wasn’t sure that Zachary would like this program as much as he does. When we sat down to review how he feels it is going so far and get his input, he mentioned how much he enjoys the lectures and felt the instructor explains things very well (this is coming from the teen who wasn’t as strong in the grammar department earlier).

A few more thoughts:

  • Although they are labeled quizzes, most of the quizzes are really more of a wrap-up to the lesson to gauge where the student is – so more of a worksheet, if you will.
  • Jumping in to start the program is super easy – pretty much open and go!
  • Lessons are fairly short overall – an average of 7 or 8 minutes, but they vary in length.
  • There are a few lessons that can be subjective, for lack of a better word, when students are asked to re-write sentences to make them more concise or clear. On those lessons, Zachary and I talked through the quiz/worksheet together.
  • Some terminology for parts of speech may differ from what a child has learned, but s/he will quickly adapt (subject/verb vs. subject/predicate or “main line”).
  • Kids with a base in Classical Conversations or a similar homeschool teaching style will LOVE this program.
  • Moms who would like a little bit of a break and enjoy a solid teaching program will enjoy this program immensely. :)
  • If your child does not have a strong grammar background, this may not be the program for you. It is more from the approach that your child will have some understanding going into the program.
  • Personally I would love to see this fleshed out even more, whether through additional writing assignments/rubrics to create a full credit program, but for now we will settle with combining it with Grammar of Poetry during the 9th grade year for a full high school credit.

Our overall impression from using the program this year – this is a SOLID program for high school students. With an engaging instructor, in-depth lessons, it would be an asset to a homeschool family and a great half-credit option for high school.

Learn More about Grammar for Writers

Visit Compass Classroom to learn more about Grammar for Writers and other curriculum options offered. We recommend pairing this class with Grammar for Poetry (1/2 credit) in the 9th grade to round out a full high school credit.

  • Recommended ages: high school or upper middle school
  • Credit: 1/2 high school credit
  • Formats offered: DVD, Digital (Streaming), or DVD & Digital with a PDF materials or Printed (spiral-bound) materials

Don’t forget to download the sample of Grammar for Writers here for full information on what is covered in the program.

Homeschool Wrap Up – October 2019

This month has flown by! Overall the year feels different in so many ways – one kiddo overseas, another one spending more time out of the house with her job and the freedom of her own car, and so many swim practices for the boys. 

There’s a part of me that realizes I’ve been silent on social media (and the blog – who am I kidding), but finding our new groove this year and trying to focus on getting things done (there’s a balance there) has been the primary goal. And really truly, that’s a good thing. :)

Typically each year we take a break every six weeks, but at this point we are nine weeks in and going strong. Some days go more smoothly than others. Some days not so much. 

The 7th Grader

Taking pictures of Kaleb involves a lot of sneakiness. He is working quite hard this year on doing as much as he can independently. We work together on spelling and some of his reading, but otherwise he comes to me when he has worked through his primary subjects and we wrap-up the rest of his stuff together and review his answers.

We’re working through All About Spelling 3, doing 1 or 2 lessons a week, depending on our time. Kaleb has definitely gained more confidence in his writing/spelling this year. He still isn’t the world’s biggest fan of it overall, but he is trying, which is a huge jump from years past.

One thing we are trying with our reluctant reader is a book bingo this year. Because Kaleb is not a fan of reading at all (or writing), we are trying to encourage him to read some different books, branch out a bit, and we have some small incentives for him as he completes a book or row on the bingo card. He does have to complete a short summary on the book as well

If we wrap up a school day early, I try to throw in a fun educational game. I’m a huge lover of games, but the kids aren’t as much into them. Sequence is one of my personal favorites, and there are so many variations on the game  – Sequence Numbers has been the game this month. 

Kaleb and his Lego League group are prepping for their first competition in just a few short weeks. Last year their team went to the state competition, so they are hoping to do well again this year. They’ve added a new team member and switched up their robot, so it’s going to be fun to see how it goes this time around.

The 9th Grader

Zachary has been working hard the last several weeks to wrap up several of his subjects, specifically Algebra 1 and World Geography. Algebra is about a week away from wrapping up (woohoo!!) and geography was wrapped up this week (YAY!!!!). Although there are days that Zachary’s motivation can be lacking, it has been really encouraging to have him dig in and work hard to finish something up.

Most of our days involve working around our puppy friend. She’s a legitimate mess, but loves being the center of attention. All day every day. Sigh.

We celebrated Zachary’s 15th birthday this month too!! I have to secretly admit that it’s a bit of a relief to tell people that he is 15 – especially since he is pushing 6’4″. I know it sounds funny, but it seems that he has finally aged into his growth. :) 

Another first for our boy this month was a local homecoming with a group of his friends. It was so much fun hanging out with the other moms, snapping a million pictures, and just watching them enjoying their time together. 

I will say that finding pants to fit this boy – OY!! Amazon for the win!!

Some days (ok, quite a few) involve a teenager who likes to be in ANY position other than one that is conducive to working on the subject at hand. Please tell me we aren’t alone in this. :)

BUT – there are other days that go super smoothly. And wonderfully. And that’s a lovely thing. :)

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

Homeschool Wrap Up September 2019

As much as I truly want to share weekly updates, life has a way recently of flying by. My time on Instagram and Facebook has been limited. BUT our time with school has definitely been in high gear. 

We started our school year the first week of September. It’s the latest we have ever started, but after a crazy busy summer, two kids working, swim team, and still feeling behind from the rush of Laurianna’s graduation and then joining Mercy Ships – well, I personally needed to breathe a little. 

(Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here overall lately?)

I’m hoping to share a bit more on the whole “catching up” that I’ve been trying to do with life as we settle into a new year and adjust to a different season. 

But – how are YOU all doing this year so far? 

Despite my best intentions, we didn’t get a first day of school picture of the kids. So McKenna was more than happy to jump in and help out with that. She was even nice enough to include Laurianna – all the way in Africa. 

All that said – we have jumped back into school and managed to get into a fairly good groove overall. Most school days start rather early (M/W the boys are up at 4:45a and T/Th at 5:15a) for the boys’ swim practices. The boys have been doing really well with the early mornings (some days are a little harder than others). 

7th Grade Learning

Even though we have a school room, the boys often like to spend time working in the living room, especially since we have a new couch and can spread out a little more now. Kaleb is really enjoying the switches we made this year with his curriculum. It’s allowed him a bit more independence and he is working hard to do as much without my help. 

This is a HUGE step for him, especially with his reading. He is currently 7th grade and although he is still behind grade-level, he has been making some great strides – which has definitely been encouraging to both him and us, and helped tremendously with his confidence. 

Grammar and math are two of Kaleb’s “pocket” areas. Grammar is one subject he has always done well in. In years past, he has worked through the daily lessons alongside me, but this year it is another one that he has taken over independently (and is doing great). 

Kaleb has also been working slowly through Word Up Vocabulary – short video clips and then some online Quizlet work with the new words. 

Another area we’ve really been hitting hard is spelling. While there are days it seems we are going so slowly, we are really trying to make sure Kaleb really has it down firmly. This year has been a lot easier going (some things have “clicked” a little more for him as well as his willingness to jump in full force).

There are moments when I can sit and breathe as the boys work. Sometimes that means I can grab a little bit of reading time, but more often it’s catching up and trying to stay ahead (currently reading Homeschool Bravely, amongst other things). 

9th Grade Learning

Most of our days are spent with our puppy VERY close by. Sometimes more of a hinderance than a help. :) 

Zachary started North Star Geography  last year and we initially planned to work on it over the course of two full years. After he started back up with the program this year, he decided to wrap it up sooner, so he will hopefully be finished with that class at the end of October. 

Last year Zachary started Algebra 1 with Teaching Textbooks. While he did get a good chunk of the program completed, I will admit to not being on top of all of his work, especially once our year went a bit haywire at the end. We initially planned to work on the program over the summer – but that just didn’t happen. 

Admitting my shortcomings to you all – plain and simple. 

Now Zachary has had to step it up to finish the Algebra 1 lessons and then jump into Geometry as soon as he completes it – hopefully end of October as well!

A new-to-us class this year, Grammar for Writers, has been going really well also. This should be a one semester class (1/2 credit) for Zachary, so he has a little wiggle room with lessons if he needs to focus on another area. The video lessons have been engaging so far and Zachary and I work through the lesson quizzes together. 

One of the things I am so glad that we decided to do again this year is a small co-op for both biology and Personal Finance. Biology has been so much fun already – and quite honestly it’s been interesting to see how much Zachary really remembers (and how easily he can memorize – because let’s face it, sometimes I wonder about the teenage brain). When it’s something he ENJOYS, he is all in.

And personal finance, he absolutely LOVES. We were recently out with friends and the bulk of the time he spent explaining compound interest to all of the kids. It was rather hilarious to listen to, but again – when he loves it, he is ALL IN!

11th Grade Learning

The bulk of McKenna’s work has been independent, and she checks in with me with papers she has written, etc… but overall she is falling into her own routine for the new year. She started a new job and works two afternoons a week, and her fall drama/musical class started at the beginning of October. 

The Kid in Africa

Laurianna is adjusting to life on the Africa Mercy and doing really well. Since flying to Guinea, Africa at the end of May, she has since sailed to the Canary Islands (while the ship was in dry dock and getting prepped for Senegal) and then on to Senegal.

She has already decided to extend her time with Mercy Ships. Her initial return would have been in March, but at this point she has pushed the date into May. We’re still waiting on a specific date, but thankful she is settling in. :) 

You can follow along with her trip via her blog here: https://deeplyrooted.blog/

One thing we are thankful for is the opportunity to Facetime with her. The ship has wifi, and we sometimes have a spotty connection, but it’s good to be able to SEE her, even though she is so far away. 

It’s rather strange adjusting to life with one less kiddo in the house – and being a parent of one that is technically an adult – and learning how to parent from a different place in life. But it’s also a good adjustment too. :) 

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

 

 

 


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