Hurried Homemaker

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Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

April 3rd, 2013 by Rhiana

Child-led Learning: Animal Journal

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are all about making learning fun around here. Structure, schmucture! My kids are learning and having fun. What a crazy idea, right?
This week, we started a new Journal for the 4yo. She is fascinated with different animals. She recently wanted to learn all about bats and owls. We went online and to the library. She could tell you differnent kinds of bats, and was particularly interested in the ones that actually did drink blood from animals and how it didn’t kill the animal. She went through about four books on owls and loved telling me how she learned that there is are owls that actually are not nocturnal.
Her fascination with different animals is showing no signs of slowing. This week, I thought it would be fun to start keeping track of the animals she studies. And we created this Animal Journal. Like the Wonder Journal, this is a great way for her to practice spelling and writing, while being interested in the subject at hand. She made a list of 12 animals she wants to “investigate” (her words) and we began. We started with the Cheetah. She came up with 5 questions she wanted the answers to, and we read all about cheetahs and then answered her queries. We moved on the next day to Dolphins. I loved her questions: What color are their eyes? Why do they have teeth? How do they stay warm? How are they like humans? Why do their tails go up and down, instead of side to side (like a fish)?
I love that these journals allow for many learning opportunities: reading, writing, research, how to use the internet and library … all while encouraging her to learn what is exciting and interesting to her!
March 16th, 2013 by Rhiana

Child-led Learning: The Wonder Journal

The longer we homeschool, the less structured we get. And that is actually a really good thing! At this point, the kids essentially lead the majority of their learning. My 4yo naturally learned to read and write – because she wanted to. Does she do either perfectly? Um, she’s 4! I think you know the answer. My 11yo is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) girl. But, one thing they both share is their love of learning.

Several months ago, I noticed two words that are repeated by both girls a lot: “I wonder …”

These two words prompted me to begin what is now, essentially, the basis for our little “school”. Each of the girls has their very own Wonder Journal, created just for them. The idea is simple: write down everything you “I wonder …” about. Then? Get to exploring! We read, watch videos, and Google until their “wonder” is satisfied.

What kinds of things are in our Wonder Journals?

  • 4yo recently wondered how plastic is made. We read about plastic. We watched videos on plastic being made. We made our own plastic. Then? We learned about recylcing plastic.
  • 11yo recently wondered how engines are made. She researched different kinds of engines for three days. She is currently building her own.

The kids write in their Wonder Journal any time of day or night that they experience that “I wonder …” thought. When they get the urge to explore one of their wonders, they do (which is usually daily). Then, they record what they’ve learned. Bonus – this helps with writing, sentence structure, etc.


How to make a Wonder Journal:

  • 1″ white binder
  • notebook paper (I printed practice handwriting lines for the little one, but used regular notebook paper for the oldest)
  • your own little creative cover

It is so easy and fun!

March 8th, 2013 by Rhiana

Real Life Day and the Math Store

Homeschooling is such a blessing to us. Being able to do things at our own pace, on our own schedule is absolutely perfect for us. When all goes according to schedule, we get up and do a chore, school, lunch, finish school, chore, playtime, dinner, etc. I have a cleaning routine in which certain areas get cleaned on certain days. But there are many weeks in which all does not go according to schedule. The kids are learning daily, no matter what. However, we sometimes get behind on regular things, like housework or cooking and loading up the fridge with grab-and-go items. The last 2 weeks were get-behind weeks. We had company in town, then hubby went on the road. You know … life happened.

Solution? Yesterday was what I like to call “Real Life Day”. We occasionally have these, to play catch up. We sat down and the kids made lists of everything we didn’t get done (but should have) over the last 2 weeks. And we set forth a plan to get it all accomplished. While the kids help with housework most of the time, days like this are extra-special because I love seeing them not only work together, but work with me, toward a common goal. There is just something about teamwork that makes my heart smile.

Late in the afternoon (after all our goals were accomplished, but before dinner need to be made), the little one wanted to play “store”. I decided to grab this opportunity for a play-lesson. She brought me about 5 items from her play-kitchen and we gave each item a price tag. When we “checked out” of our store, we added up the items using a small white-board (no calculators in this store!), and voila! Lesson! I wrote in black, she wrote in pink. We used a number line for this particular lesson, but we use lots of different materials for math (but that’s for another post).


These are the moments that I love the most – getting a valuable school lesson in with play. What better way to learn, than through fun?

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