Football, Super Bowl & Geography

Love of Learning, Raising Leaders No Comments

Try one or more of these four fun geography activities this week, integrating Super Bowl and football into your plans.

Here’s a good outline map of the United States:

Find all the wild card teams and label them on a US map in the same color.  Find all the playoff teams and label them on the map
in a different color. Find Miami and label it as Super Bowl.
Read the rest…

Famous Football Players

Homeschooling, Inspire You Children, Love of Learning, Writing No Comments

My son does not like history as most of you know. But he LOVES sports! Do you have a child like this?

This week you can tie in sports with studies. What subjects can you do?

– History
– Writing
– Research

Choose a famous football player from a past Super Bowl. Write a report about his life and achievements.

If you are unsure how to help your child write a short 1, 3 or 5 paragraph paper, use Teaching Writing: Structure & Style. It’ is absolutely the BEST writing program to tie in writing with ANY subject area, even football.

*** For younger children who aren’t writing papers, let them alphabetize all NFL teams by city and mascot.

Wednesday Words: How Boys Learn

Homeschooling, Inspire You Children, Love of Learning 7 Comments

Today I have guest author, Michelle Caskey sharing on how learning differs in boys and girls.

by Michelle Caskey

The education of our sons could be in jeopardy! The number of boys who are on antidepressants has tripled in the last ten years. Boys are increasingly growing disengaged from school. They are also less engaged in the real world than they were in previous generations. Men only make up 42% of people who attend college. Also, most women who attend college will earn their degree while most men who attend will not.

Boys and girls are very different – I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it with my own children, and I believe it with my whole heart. I’ve recently learned that boys are even MORE different from girls that I had previously realized.

I just finished reading some eye-opening books by Dr. Leonard Sax: “Why Gender Matters” and “Boys Adrift”. These books include scientific evidence showing that boys not only behave differently than girls, they also hear differently, see differently, respond to stress differently, and think differently.

The things they can learn are very similar, but the way they go about learning is very different. Boys require a very different educational environment and teaching approach if we are going to help them reach their full potential.

Boys SEE Differently

Males have more rods in their eyes versus cones. Rods help us to see distance and speed. Females have more cones than rods. Cones help us to see color and shape. Because of this difference, boys tend to draw verbs with little color variation in their pictures while girls tend to draw nouns with lots of different colors.


When asked to draw a picture, Sally will draw a house with people and flowers and lots of pretty colors. Steve will draw a tornado which is knocking down a house – and his picture will look like a large black swirl.

Implications for teaching boys

Do not expect boys to draw something recognizable or to draw something with lots of colors. When we find fault in this way, boys begin to think that art is for girls and not for boys.

Allow them to draw verbs and to do it in a way that is fast and furious.

Don’t hold eye contact with a boy unless you’re disciplining him.

Boys HEAR Differently

Baby girls can hear ten times better than boys, and this difference gets even worse as they get older. Boys can only hear every 3rd word or so of soft-spoken teachers. When boys can’t hear what their teacher is saying, they tend to drift off – getting some boys the incorrect diagnosis of ADHD.

Boys also tend to make little noises wiggling and tapping pencils which are irritating to girls – but they don’t even realize they are making them.

Implications for teaching boys

Speak more loudly than you normally would and be very expressive.

Use lots of voice fluctuation and hand motions to engage boys.

While working with your son, sit down next to him, spread the materials out and look at them shoulder to shoulder.

Boys THINK Differently

We don’t know all of the differences in how boys and girls think but we now know that their brains are arranged differently. We’ve all heard that we use the left side of our brain for verbal activities and the right side for art. Actually, we now know that this is only true in males.

Males who have a stroke on the left side of their brain lose 80% of their verbal ability. The verbal ability in females who have a stroke on the left side of their brain is much less impacted, proving that their verbal ability is spread across both sides of their brain.

There are many other differences in how male and female brains are arranged. For more details, check out Dr. Sax’s books in the Parent Helps section of our Amazon bookstore.

Implications for teaching boys

Book learning is essential; but, without practical, hands-on experience, boys will hard a hard time grasping concepts that seem simple to us. They will disengage from their lessons.

Boys need real world experiences in their education which engage all of their senses.

Boys also need plenty of time outdoors.

Boys have a hard time processing their emotions. Don’t ask boys “How would you FEEL if…” questions. Ask them “What would you DO if…” questions.boydrawing

Boys like to have at least some control over their environments. Put each day’s schoolwork into a folder and let them decide the order in which they will complete it.

When studying literature, try these tips:

  • Have boys draw maps based on clues in the book.
  • Assign articles from the daily newspaper.
  • Have them read books with strong male characters doing unpredictable things (i.e., C.S. Lewis, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, Twain, etc.)

Boys SEE THEMSELVES differently

Girls tend to underestimate their own abilities. Boys tend to overestimate their own abilities. Boys also enjoy taking risks much more than do girls. The more a boy takes risks the more favorably they are seen by their peers.

Danger itself gives boys a pleasant feeling of exhilaration as opposed to the fearful feelings it causes in girls. Moderate stress also helps boys to perform better as adrenaline causes more blood to flow to their brain. Stress has the opposite effect on girls.

Implications for teaching boys

Boys respond well to a challenge if there are winners and losers.

A competitive team format works better than individual competitions for boys because they don’t want to let their teammates down.

Participating in single-sex activities such as boy scouts or team sports are very good for your sons.

If your son seems to crave danger, take these necessary steps:

  • Give them lessons with a professional (i.e., skiing) to help them to more accurately evaluate their own abilities.
  • Supervise your child. Their risk is lower if they aren’t allowed to be alone with groups of peers because they will be less likely to try to “show off” for their friends if an adult is present.
  • Assert your authority – don’t argue with your son. Don’t negotiate. Just do what you have to do (i.e., lock up their bike).

By the way, the optimum tempature for learning for boys is 69 degrees, while it is 74 degrees for girls. If you set the temperature so that it is comfortable for you, you may find your sons falls asleep or their minds wandering instead of focusing on their lessons.

If you have the opportunity to set up a single-sex learning environment for your children that works well. Try using different methods to teach your sons as opposed to the ones you use to teach your girls and you will be amazed at how your sons respond to your efforts!

Armed with this knowledge, we can set up more ideal learning environments where we can engage our sons and help them to reach their full potential. For more information, check out Dr. Sax’s books in the Parent Helps section of our Amazon bookstore.


Michelle Caskey is a homeschooling mom and the author of “Learn & Grow: Hands-On Lessons for Active Preschoolers” and “Teach Me About God: Hands-On Bible Lessons for Active Preschoolers.” For more information about homeschooling boys or about her books visit her website at

Wednesday Words: Suggested Course of Study

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Today I have guest authors, Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn, sharing on suggested course of study for various age groups.

Early Knowledge Level

Before age ten, the child is mostly dependent upon his concrete sensory experiences for learning. He is really in an Early Knowledge Level. This is the time to sow the seeds of honoring God and parents, developing the capacity for language and the appetite for learning, enriching the memory, and instilling a work and service ethic. This is the time to lay the foundation for the formal academics which will follow.

Ten things to do before age 10
1. Reading & Writing Intensive Phonics; copywork; start English language notebook
2. Oral Narration Daily
3. Memorization Bible; poetry; passages of literature; catechisms; Greek and/or Hebrew alphabet
4. Hearing & Listening Read aloud 2 hours per day from a variety of fiction and nonfiction; start History notebook; timeline
5. Family Worship Family Bible study morning and evening using Knowledge Level questions
6. Arts & Crafts Provide the time, space, and materials; develop elementary creativity; combine what you are reading aloud with arts and crafts to make projects
7. Field Trips & Library Start learning elementary library research; investigate the world
8. Work & Service Schedule for chores; visit nursing home, etc.
9. Discipline Establish first-time obedience
10. Play & Exploration Develop the imagination

Later Knowledge Level

Consider this basic maxim of Homeschooling: There is only so much time in the day. Keep this maxim in mind as you consider which of the many subjects your child will study throughout his school age years. What is the wisest use of each day’s time?

Before age ten, “formal” academics – a stack of textbooks and workbooks – is not necessarily the most important use of our time. At age ten, most children are entering the later Knowledge Level. This is approximately the age when children are ready for more “formal” academics. Around age ten, the light bulb goes on. The brain becomes physically able to make more complex connections, which, among other things, makes your child more able to handle abstract concepts and helps your child with self-management and self-control. The parent will be the most intensely involved in the child’s education from ages ten through twelve.

Ten things to do from ages 10-12
10 11 12
1. Family Worship Family Bible study morning and evening; Knowledge level questions; memorization
2. Literature & Reading Aloud Continue to read aloud 2 hours per day; memorization and oral narration; student reads good literature; oral interpretation
3. History History Notebook; use primary sources; biographies; history contests and projects; timeline
4. Composition Copywork; dictation; letters; journals; simple outlining
5. Spelling & English Grammar English Language Notebook; could use a prepared grammar and spelling course or use Webster Elementary Spelling Book
6. Latin and Greek Start Latin grammar at age 10 or 11; continue with Greek and/or Hebrew alphabet system; practice reading Greek from an interlinear
7. Early Logic Building Thinking Skills Book 2 BTS Book 3 Figural BTS Book 3 Verbal
8. Arithmetic 6th grade 7th grade 8th grade (pre-algebra)
9. Science Interest directed; read books on science; simple experiments and projects; collections; visit science fairs; provide tools
10. Art & Music Provide materials, space, and time Could pursue formal music lessons

Understanding Level

When children reach the Understanding Level, Homeschooling becomes interesting! Early teens are developing into thinking, questioning, reasoning creatures. They are no longer content to know what happened; they want to know why.

Alas, at this stage many parents become distressed because the curriculum is getting more difficult, and the children are asking more complex questions. We are no longer allowed to teach mere capitalization rules and addition facts. We must now begin to exercise our minds with our children! Because these children are developing the ability to think abstractly, we parents are being challenged to move out of our post-secondary-school-days comfort zone. As a result, many parents retire from Homeschooling and send their children off to a classroom school.

But this is not at all the time to give up. We encourage parents to persevere to the end. Remember, Homeschooling is for parents. How many of us went through school without learning anything in general, or without remembering anything in particular? We were neither interested nor motivated. We were simply serving our twelve year sentence. We now have another opportunity to learn these things as we teach them to our children. We have the opportunity to learn such things as the math we never understood, the science from a Christian instead of from a naturalistic perspective, the history they never taught us, the classical language they never offered us, and the logic they never allowed us to use. Homeschooling saves two generations: first the parents, then the children.

Ten things to do from ages 13-15
13 14 15
1. Family Worship Family Bible study morning and evening; Understanding level questions; memorization
2. Reading Aloud Continue to read aloud approximately two hours per day; oral narration
3. History & Literature Combine these two subjects; read classics; memorization; History Notebook; study history chronologically if possible; use primary sources; projects and contests
4. Composition Written narration; outlining; summaries; essays; creative writing; could use prepared curriculum
5. Speech & Debate Oral Interpretation; Speech; Debate
6. Languages Finish Latin grammar and notebook; begin Greek grammar and notebook
7. Logic The Fallacy Detective and Critical Thinking Book 1 Critical Thinking Book 2
8. Mathematics Algebra I Algebra II Geometry
9. Science Interest directed; science fairs and contests Earth Science Course
10. Art & Music Could pursue formal music lessons; interest directed

Father’s Role

We’ve covered the academics. But there is more to say: The classical homeschool is not just Latin and Logic. It is practically a way of life. We’ve made a bunch of mistakes in our homeschooling. Here’s one of them:

Fathers should be more than figuratively the head of your school. Children in the Logic Stage need their father. Of course, children of all ages need a father’s input, but the early teens are crucial. This is especially true with boys — boys need their father’s hand as they enter the teen years. It’s only been in the past half dozen years that we have begun to realize this in our own family. Oh, to go back and do things right! But perhaps others can learn from our mistakes. If Johnny is supposed to be writing out his spelling words and Daddy wants him to help with the lawn mower, by all means let the lawn mower win. Daddy only has so much time with the kids, so make the best use of it.

We suggest Fathers take over teaching Greek to the children. It will not only help the children, but help him in his study of God’s Word. Logic is also best taught by the Father. Here is an excerpt from an essay our oldest son Nathaniel recently wrote: “When I was about thirteen my parents announced we were going to study logic. What thoughts flitted through my anti-intellectual mind I can’t rightly say, but I imagine they weren’t good. Back then, my father had not yet taken on much of the responsibility for our schooling, and so the burden fell on my mother’s shoulders. If you don’t know what it is to learn logic with a woman, how can I describe it to you…” Now, we say this not to imply that mothers can’t teach logic, but only to suggest that perhaps it would be helpful if fathers took this over.

Wisdom Level

The Wisdom Level is the most creative level. The Wisdom Level takes the facts and theories and begins to apply them. Teaching will advance from the coaching and correcting level to the coaxing and directing level. You’ll be asking questions, leading discussions, and encouraging individual initiative and innovation.

During the Early Knowledge Level, parents are molding their children. In the Later Knowledge and Understanding Levels, parents are developing their children’s fundamental skills – giving them the basic tools. But in the Wisdom Level, though skills are still being developed, the child begins to pursue a particular course for life based upon his abilities, talents, and interests. Parents should assess their children’s abilities and talents, help them explore their peculiar interests, and encourage them in certain directions. Our role in their education will slowly change from instructor to counselor as the Lord begins to call them forward and lead them in other directions and eventually to marry and establish a new household.

Ten things to do from ages 16-18
16 17 18
1. Family Worship Family Bible study morning and evening; Wisdom level questions; memorization
2. Reading Aloud Continue reading aloud; oral narration
3. History & Literature Combine these two subjects; read classics; memorization; History Notebook; study history chronologically if possible; use primary sources
4. Rhetoric Reading; composition; oral interpretation; speech; debate
5. Government, Economics & Law American Government Christian Economics Constitutional & Practical Law
6. Languages Finish Latin grammar and notebook; Greek grammar and notebook
7. Logic With Good Reason; Rulebook for Arguments; Introductory Logic (Sproul) Introductory Logic video series (Wilson and Nance) The Art of Reasoning (Kelley)
8. Mathematics Advanced Math Calculus (if desired)
9. Science Biology Chemistry Physics (if desired)
Study scientific method; science fairs, projects, and contests
10. Art & Music Could pursue formal music course; interest directed

Don’t Try This at Home

If you try to follow a classroom model in your homeschool – dragging in the desks and chalkboard, conforming to a one-size-fits-all scope-and-sequence method, following a rigid bell-ringer schedule, and the like – you will probably buckle under the burden. That kind of schooling does not fit well in a homeschool environment. Rare is the pair of parents who have the time and the talents to bear such burdens. It will truly test your determination to homeschool. The great strength and advantage of homeschooling is that it releases you from the burdens of the classroom and invites you into the natural schooling environment of one-on-one tutoring in your own home.

Homeschoolers are raising a generation of custom-built children – no factory models here. We want to keep it that way. The classical model and method for education leaves plenty of room for the several different approaches to homeschooling. The goal of a classical style of Homeschooling is to tutor children in those skills which will make them able to teach themselves whatever they need to learn throughout their life. Our purpose is to show you that you can homeschool in a classical style.


by Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn. Copyright 1999, 2001. All rights reserved.

This is only a brief overview of the Bluedorn’s Suggested Course of Study. A more thorough discussion can be found in their Teaching the Trivium book, in their seminar tapes, and on their Homeschooling with the Trivium Email List.

Fun Math for Elementary Kids

Inspire You Children, Living Books & Classics, Love of Learning, Math 1 Comment

I found it…I actually found some math story books that your kids will LOVE!

And get this, while they love the story books we have for them, they will be learning math concepts (without knowing they are learning).  

Isn’t that a great way to “inspire not require”?  

I’m always on the lookout for ways to encourage a love of learning with my kids. Math Story Books were one terrific way I found to encourage learning math, especially with my non-math daughters.

Here’s a video “showing” you the math books your kids will love.


Get your own Math Adventure Books by clicking here.

Overstuffed School Schedules vs. The Learning Lifestyle

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Today I have guest author, Janice Campbell, sharing ideas on scheduling vs. learning.


by Janice Campbell

There’s a new school year coming up, and as you plan, it can be tempting to create a school schedule that would stagger a grad student. I know- I’ve been there. I’ve started school years with so many classes planned for my boys that we would have been at the table for most of the daylight hours if we’d done it all.

Fortunately, I always got a reality check. It usually arrived around lunchtime of the first day or so, with the realization that we’d finished only about 2/3 of the essentials, and there was absolutely no way that anyone’s attention span was going to last through the fourteen electives I’d planned.

Over time, I learned that we could study any number of topics without weariness if we did two essential things:

  1. Eliminate busywork
  2. Live a learning lifestyle

Eliminate Busywork

Busywork, in my opinion, kills the joy of learning for most children. There are always a few students who seem to enjoy filling in blanks in workbooks or writing answers to all the review questions in a chapter before taking the test. However, time spent doing those things is often time wasted.

I would much rather see young people reading attentively, annotating the text and taking notes, than filling in blanks. If they must take a test, have them take it after careful reading of the material covered. If they pass the test, they move on; if they don’t pass, they can do the relevant review questions.

This encourages students to pay attention the first time through, and to work efficiently so that they can progress more quickly. In math, it works well to have the student do all the odd-numbered problems. If he does them correctly, he can move to the next lesson, if not, he can go back and do the even problems.

There is no virtue in wasting time pumping out page after page of busywork when a concept is understood. It stifles natural curiosity, and wastes time that could be better spent reading classics, building relationships, or even playing outside. Gifted children can experience extreme frustration and burnout when they cannot move at their natural pace, and this is a miserable, pointless experience that can negatively affect them for many years.

Live a Learning Lifestyle

Rather than isolating learning in a daily four-hour block of time Monday through Friday, be willing to spread learning throughout the day. We listened to Lyrical Life Science, grammar, Spanish, and other song tapes while fixing dinner, read great books at bedtime, listened to classical music or audiobooks while cleaning house or riding in the car, looked at fine art and practiced drawing or painting on rainy days, and generally made educational activities a natural, enjoyable part of our life together.

We found that if study materials for those fourteen electives were in the house, they would usually be used. Not during the scheduled school day, and not always together, but someone would eventually settle down with the French-language Tin-Tin books, or get out the knot-tying or wood-carving kits and try something new. We read Macbeth together when the power went out and a storm howled around the eaves, and kept journals when we traveled. We never did the entire geography curriculum, but it was a fascinating supplement whenever we needed more information.

A lifestyle of learning means that resources are available when the time, interest, and circumstances are right. If students find that it’s safe to explore a new subject without suddenly being assigned an entire unit study on the topic (I’ve heard of that happening!), they will be much more likely to embrace the learning lifestyle and learn on their own.

Leave Time for Things That Matter

There is much to learn in order to be literate, and the school years can provide only a beginning. A lifestyle of learning can strengthen relationships, make family time more interesting, and build a strong foundation for future learning. Best of all, it won’t stifle curiosity and squelch delight in learning because you accomplish more in much less formally-structured time. Charlotte Mason was a strong advocate for keeping formal lessons short, while living a balanced life with time spent indoors and out, reading, learning, and playing, and I’ve seen firsthand that the learning lifestyle works well. I recommend it!

Janice Campbell, author of Get a Jump Start on College!, Transcripts Made Easy, and a forthcoming high school literature series, has been writing and speaking in central Virginia since the late 1980’s. Her four sons were homeschooled from kindergarten into college, using the principles she shares in her books, workshops, blog, and newsletter. Visit and to read more!

Make a Squash Book…What’s a Squash Book?

Inspire You Children, Love of Learning No Comments

That’s exactly what I said when I heard about a squash book. It’s a book that displays your photos. But, you can make it a fun, learning activity by having your children draw pictures of what they are learning in school.

Everywhere you see a photo in the example, substitute one of your child’s drawings about the topic they are studying. It could even be a continuous type drawing where your child draws the life cycle of a frog or the events leading to the Civil War. Use your imagination!

Click here for directions to the Squash Book.


ps.  All ideas are from

Baseball Activities

Homeschooling, Inspire You Children, Love of Learning No Comments

Try some of these baseball activities in your homeschool activities during the World Series week.  I’ve always been a fan of integrating your child’s interests with their school subjects.  Here are some fun ways to make homeschool or any type of school fun for your students.

Double Diamond Baseball Game

Problems Solving with Baseball

Take Me Out to the Ball Game – mixed activities with a variety of subject areas

Baseball Science

Homeschooling, Inspire You Children, Love of Learning No Comments

Are you a Science teacher?  or mom who likes to have fun with their kids?   

With the World Series in full swing, why not use baseball to discover science?  Here’s a site to help you get started.

You can try these science experiments at home, in a homeschool co-op or even in the classroom.

National Pizza Month

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Celebrate National Pizza Month with one of these educational activities.  I love to eat and so do my kids.  Why not take advantage of something you all love and use it to teach different concepts?  Education is so much more fun when you tie it into your student’s interests.  Here you go with pizza educational activities.

1. Making Pizza – Math
Materials: toaster oven, English Muffins, a jar of prepared Pizza Sauce, grated cheese.
Procedure: Students place two tablespoons of sauce on one half of English Muffin. Add grated cheese and toast in oven. Eat!!! Yummy!!!

2. Pizza Painting – Colors, Art
Materials: paper plate, tempera paint; red for sauce, black for olives, green for peppers, brown for pepperoni and tan for mushrooms. Sponges cut into the shapes of vegetables – cheap kitchen sponges work very well.
Procedure: students make their pizzas by first adding sauce to the paper plate crust and then adding their choice of toppings.

3. Pizza Patterns-Shapes, Math
Materials: crayons, strips of paper 2×8 inches, glue, macaroni or vegetable patterns ( I used the patterns from the Mailbox Magazine for vegetables).
Procedure: Students choose materials to make pattern, color, and glue to paper.

4. Pizza Book (class book)- Writing
Materials: Construction paper, writing paper, crayons, pencils.
Procedure: make a large slice of pizza using construction paper. Title it ..I Like Pizza.
Provide each student with a piece of paper cut to look like a slice of pizza. Student writes about their favorite kind of pizza. You can use a cloze format, “I like….((Cheese))…pizza.” or have students dictate or write on their own. Students decorate their page. Make into a class book for your library.

5. Pizza Puzzles – Art
Materials: stickers, construction paper
Procedure: teacher makes large 8 inch circles “pizza” out of brown or red construction paper. Place stickers on pizza representing a certain theme; eg. farm animals, zoo animals, letters, numbers, etc. Laminate. Cut each pizza into slices and place all in a pizza box. Students sort slices according to categories and then reconstruct each pizza.

6. Pizza Counting-Math
Materials: Pizza Spinners, egg cartons or small plastic clear cups, beans or small objects to count.
Pizza Spinners: use red construction paper to make 6 inch circles. Draw slices onto each pizza and program with numbers you are targeting. Laminate. The spinner is a large safety pin with a brad placed through the hole in the end. Stick through the middle of the circle. Makes a great spinner!
Program your egg cartons by placing stickers with the bottom with the same numbers as the spinner. If you are using clear plastic cups use a permanent marker to mark each with a corresponding number.
Procedure: Students spin the spinner and then count the appropriate number of objects into the container.

7. Pizza Dice Throw-Probability
Materials: Black line of a slice of Pizza. 1 or 2 inch cube. White circle stickers.
Program the picture to correspond with numbers you are working on.
For example: 1=red sauce 2=black olives, 3=green peppers, 4=brown pepperoni, 5 = white mushrooms, 6=orange cheese. Place the numbers on the corresponding objects in your picture. On white sticker write the number one in black permanent marker – color the sticker red and place on one side of the cube. Continue until you have completed your dice.
Procedure: Students roll the dice. They then color the corresponding section of the picture. For example; Johnny rolls the number one. He looks for the number one on his paper and colors it red.
( My kids love this!)

8. Pizza Alphabet/ number- Math, Reading
Materials: red paper plates with “slices” made with a permanent marker. Wooden clothes pins.
Write upper case letters around the outside of your ‘Pizza”. On the clothes pin mark the lower case letters. On others mark with numbers – clothes pins will have appropriate number of dots or the number word.
Procedure: students match clothes pins to pizza.


Homeschool Curriculum

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