Printers Fair

Traveling to events is what homeschooling is all about, right?! This one is in Carson, California, only 130 miles from Yucca Valley. Ok, maybe it’s a bit far, but it looks SO interesting! The Printers Fair isn’t until October 13-14, so you have plenty of time to make a plan.

Check out their website HERE for details. A day like this is a lot of learning packed into one family outing. History, science, language arts, social studies, and fine arts. Get the kids involved in planning out the trip, mapping, and managing the cost, you’ve got just about every school subject covered in one fell swoop!

“The Secret Garden” at Theatre 29!

A performance of “The Secret Garden” runs through September 24 at Theatre 29 in Twentynine Palms. This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid! Besides the obvious “performing arts” subject you’d find here, you could also tie this whole month into the performance. History, Language Arts, Art, Science, Social Studies, you name it! Here are some links to a few great lists of things related to “The Secret Garden”. I didn’t even know there was a movie!

Activities for The Secret Garden from The Chaos and The Clutter

For $4 you can buy a Lapbook printables set and unit study from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Of course, you’ll need to get the book somewhere! You can buy the book just about anywhere for under $5 and I highly suggest you have the book in your library instead of borrowing it. It’s one of those books you read over and over again!


Learning to Read

I don’t have much of my own to add at the moment, so I’ll pass along a short article about learning to read from “Teacher Tom”. My sons learned to read in their own time and without pressure from us. We read to them. We answered their questions. There were things to read around us. And eventually, all our children read. My husband’s daughter read around 4 years old, our oldest son around 5 years old, and our youngest son around 7 years old. They read and write as well as anyone I know that went through years of schooling. In a world filled with the printed word, it’s kinda hard NOT to learn to read! The simplest and cheapest reading program around is to pick up any book and read it to your child, point to the words on the page now and again, and answer them when they point to letters themselves.

BOOK IT! Program with Pizza Hut

If you have kids in grades K through 6th (ages 5 -12), you can sign up your homeschool with Pizza Hut’s “Book It!” program. It’s easy to sign up and set reading goals for each of your kids. When the goals are met, you receive free pizza coupons to give them.

Every time we got them we made a big deal about going out for pizza lunch with those coupons! The boys loved it.

Six Flags also has a “Read to Succeed” program that will restart closer to the Fall! I’ll be posting about that when it comes up.

June Family Shows at the McCallum in Palm Desert

It’s called “McCallum Theatre Institute’s 2016 Summer Session Festival” and has three shows, June 13, 15, and 17th, 2016. Tickets run from $10 to $15 for each show or $35 for all three. What a great way to start the summer off and introduce the family to the performing arts!

“In 2-1/2 weeks the McCallum Theatre Institute presents 3 unique live shows, allowing our educational partners to cool off at the McCallum with performances that feed the soul and awaken the imagination!

Monday, June 13, 2016 at 3pm – Miwa Matreyek – This is the first time that this LA-based multi-media performance artist has presented her amazing visual art at the McCallum Theatre!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 3pm – The Okee Dokee Brothers – A hearty welcome back to the McCallum stage for one of our field trip favourites!

Friday, June 17, 2016 at 3pm – “Walking the Tightrope” returns to the McCallum after a successful Aesthetic Education Program unit-of-study during the 2014-15 school year.

Tickets are very reasonably priced for family and friends to enjoy an afternoon previewing shows that will be featured on the 2016-17 Aesthetic Education Program.

This is also a sensibly priced opportunity for a really fun afternoon of live entertainment for visiting house guests who feel that it is too hot to sit by the pool and there’s “nothing on any of the 150 channels on TV.”

Go to the site and research the performances so that you know what you’re watching and can answer the basic questions your kids will ask. Look into theater etiquette too. It’s a little different than going to the movies! And, of course, there is always the tradition “after show dinner”. Going out to eat, even just for coffee and dessert gives us a chance to talk about what we liked and didn’t like about the performance while it’s still fresh in our minds.

Grammar Check

My sons are sticklers about words being spelled correctly and general grammar. I’m not sure where they got it, but it’s actually a pretty nice skill to have around the house. Whenever I am writing something that I really want worded well, I pass it over to them for a quick check. They catch mistakes that I never would have noticed and re-word things in much better ways.

Yesterday I heard them talking about “Grammarly”. They were writing an email to an online vendor about exchanging a pair of pants they had bought. When they ask me what they should say, I generally say “Something quick and simple, like ‘I want to exchange a pair of pants. What do I do?’ ” Apparently that’s just not good enough for them. After some time, they sent this.

“I would like to exchange some TLD pants that are too big. Also, in the same order I bought a Sunline shifter for a 2001 yz125 and I’m afraid that it does not fit, so I would like to return that, if possible.”


“I would like to exchange the pants for the same ones, just a different size. I installed the shifter on my bike, and it appears that the splined hole that goes around the shift shaft is too large. No matter how much I tighten the bolt, it wiggles and can move side to side on the shaft.”

And then,

“I have attached a video showing how the shift lever does not fit. In the video, it is torqued to 90 lbs-in, which is 2 lbs-in tighter than the stock value. I would like to exchange the pants for a size down, 36″.”

I’m just showing you what he wrote, not the vendor’s replies, mostly because I’m always amazed at how well they write and converse with others. We’ve never had “language arts” in the traditional academic sense. We’ve read together. We’ve written some things. We’ve played a lot of word games like Mad Libs and Scrabble. Here they are writing emails to people, commenting on videos and Facebook posts, and answering and asking questions on online forums.

That’s when I heard about Grammarly. The younger one said he uses it all the time and it’s great because it actually finds things that spellcheck doesn’t. The older one said he didn’t use it until now because he thought it just did the same thing as spellcheck. I asked about it and they showed it to me. We are all amazed and still wonder how in the world it works.

And no, I didn’t ask them to proofread this…but I may ask Grammarly!

Oxford English Dictionary

On February 1, 1884 the Oxford English Dictionary made it’s debut!

Check out this site for an interesting overview.

Have you ever been to their website? There are loads over interesting games to play and articles to read. It’s not like a regular dictionary that only gives you the current meaning of the word. It gives you the background of the word, where it came from, and when it was used too! Your local library may have a subscription to the whole site. If they don’t, tell them they should.

Oxford English Dictionary Website


I came across a Facebook post from HSC today that pointed me in the direction of another cool and free resource!

The Complete 10 Week Poetry for Kids Course

There are lots of ways you can use this for your homeschool. One would be to assign it to your kids but I doubt you’d get the results you really wanted. If you asked your kids if they are interested in poetry and if they wanted to go through the course with you, they’d get more out of it. But if you have kids like mine, they’re probably not interested at all. My solution would be to take the course myself, very publicly, and share what I’m learning with them daily. My kids love poetry but for a long time they didn’t even know! So much of their favorite music has wonderful poetry. I just needed to point it out a couple times when we were listening to music in the car. Now they point lyrics that really speak to them all the time. When I find poetry that speaks to me deeply, I tend to share it with them as well.

Sentence Structure?

I don’t think anyone invented language. I pretty sure that it naturally evolved. No one had an “ah-ha” moment about putting the noun before the predicate. “Mr. Norton walks.” So why do we torture children with diagramming sentences and picking out verbs, nouns, and adjectives? Someone at sometime (probably a word-nerd, someone fascinated with semantics or linguistics) heard all these words and sentences we naturally use, noticed a pattern of some kind, that most people used them in certain way, and decided to write down all these “rules”. Anyone that hears people speak regularly can pick this kind of stuff up naturally without ever knowing what a interjection is. But now we feel we need to sit young children down and explain these rules whether they are interested or not, as if they wouldn’t know how to speak or write if they didn’t know them in an academic form.

If you are fascinated by the rules of language, by all means study them! But you really don’t need to harass people of any age about it. If your children hear people speak in the dialect and form you desire, they will learn that language naturally. You can hear language in multiple ways. You can listen to conversation, watch TV or movies, play online role playing games, or read books. Just like learning to walk, your children learned to talk. They don’t speak like Native Americans in a old Western movie, do they? So why would they write that way?

Here are a couple links to get the juices flowing in your mind!

Sandra Dodd’s page about “Language Arts”

Unschool Rules!