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Thursday, June 21, 2018

How is THAT element used?

We all know oxygen is essential for respiration for most of the animal kingdom, and carbon is the essential building block of all living things. We know mercury is commonly used in thermometers, and calcium is responsible for strong bones. But did you know that your car might not start if not for antimony? Or that Rubidium is essential in the functioning of the GPS system so many of us rely on today?

The more you know about the elements of the periodic table, and how they relate to YOU, the better they will stick in your long term memory. A while back, I shared a favorite book, The Periodic Table: Elements with Style, that personifies the elements in ways that can help students get to know them better.

This week, I want to share another resource, the Periodic Table Matching Game by The Unplanned Homeschooler, currently on sale through the Learning Tangent marketplace for just $2.99.



This fun game is reminiscent of the classic Memory games we all played as kids, but uses real world enformation and colorful illustrations by Keith Enevoldson, an engineer who had me swooning at the concise and colorful way he made the periodic table so relatable.


Using the Periodic Table Matching Game, your students can learn each element's name, symbol, atomic number and even how each element is used in the real world. The game is available in a convenient download. Just print the pages on cardstock and cut out the cards, then play with as many or as few cards as you like.

Study by groups or periods, study just the nonmetals, the transition metals, the noble gases, etc. There are so many ways to study the periodic table using this exciting game. Make chemistry more fun and memorable by adding the Periodic Table Matching Game to your collection of resources.






Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Unplanner, 2018-2019 is available now!

Are you still searching for the perfect homeschool organizer for your family? Well, great news! This year's edition of The Unplanner is now available on Amazon for just $7.99.


If you are looking for a professionally bound homeschool organizer that is affordable, easy-to-use, and has attendance sheets for up to six students, you'll want to check out The Unplanner. There are lots of homeschool planners on the market, but The Unplanner is different, because it has just the pages you need, and none of the ones you don't, so you won't feel pressured by an overwhelming amount of blanks. And best of all, you won't have to print and bind your own pages to get the organizer you want!

 Here's a sample pic of pages from The Unplanner. Printed in a 6 by 9 inch format, with a beautiful, glossy cover, this organizer is easy to carry with you wherever you go, or tuck in a cubby or on a shelf with your other homeschooling materials.



 Make sure to check out my store to see my other books. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Making your wellness a priority

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been doing all sorts of things that made me happy this spring. Most of them involved dirty and exhausting work, like rebuilding a deck, cleaning up flower beds, planting flowers and power washing just about everything my hose could reach.

I literally ruined clothes over the past few weeks with layers of sweat, grime, grease, deck stain and even blood, but the work was so fulfilling, because I was doing things I couldn't physically do a year ago, before I made my own wellness a priority.


Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/143842337@N03/32758828946


What I didn't tell you in my last post was that for the last several years I have been dealing with excruciating pain on an almost daily basis. Last spring, it got so bad that I couldn't even pick up a textbook with one hand, or drive an hour from home without pillows propped under my elbows. I was suffering from psoriatic arthritis and even teaching was a challenge because of all the pain in my joints.

Like so many homeschooling moms, I wasn't doing a very good job of taking care of my own needs. My focus was on my family, but my pain was making it impossible to do my daily chores, teach lessons or even have fun with my kids. I couldn't put it off any longer. I had to find a doctor who was able to help me. 

Now, thanks to some pretty effective medication and months of physical training, I am stronger than I have been since my youngest was born, and that was ten years ago. Even better, with proper treatment, I am probably preventing additional damage to my joints and helping to preserve my future health the best way I can. 

Don't wait like I did


I am embarrassed that I let things get so bad before I got help for my arthritis pain. I knew, though, that this message was one of the first things I wanted to share once I got back online. We absolutely have to take care of ourselves and make our own wellness a priority.

Homeschooling takes so much dedication, it is easy to lose yourself as you tend to the tasks of planning and executing your children's education all while managing everything else that typical parents do. But the ten, fifteen, twenty or more years that a homeschooling mom might devote is too long to spend ignoring our health and well-being.

I have to say, I am so much happier and healthier than I was last year. I wish I had not waited so long to see a new doctor, or to try medication that I had honestly been afraid to take. It's been a game changer, with, thnkfully, little to nothing in the way of side effects. 

If you are feeling tired, worn down or in physical or emotional pain, please consider taking some time to address your health. The time you spend focusing on your own well-being is so well spent. You may think you are too busy, with your school schedule and taking care of your kids and your home, but a healthier you can accomplish so much more. Invest your time in feeling better, and make yourself a priority today!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

I've been doing the things that make me happy!

I took some time off this year, from the things that probably should have been on the front burners, to catch up with things I needed, or simply wanted to do. I let my blog go dormant for a few months, and I took several weeks off from school. I even quit cooking altogether for a while. 

And what did I do instead? 




I planted flowers. Lots of flowers, in baskets and pots and in flower beds that had been neglected so long I had to practically dig them up and start from scratch. 

I borrowed my mom's power washer and I washed all the things! If you haven't tried power washing, you should. It's addictive. I think, especially so for we mom types, whose work never stays done for long. It's so unlike laundry mountain, which just piles right back up the minute you get it knocked down. You can actually see the results of your efforts, and they are dramatic and beautiful, and last long enough for you to appreciate for a while.

I helped my dad and my son rebuild my deck, adding new railing and staining the freshly power washed boards that turned out to be a lovely light color, and not dark gray after all. 

The kids and I dug a hole, and not just any hole, but a huge rectangular crater in a rock-infested slope, 18 feet wide and deep enough to create a nice level space for the above ground pool we intend to enjoy all summer long.

And I took a lot of time to go to the gym with my friend, to eat better foods and get in better shape than I have been in the past several years.

Don't be afraid to let things slide


I probably lost readers during my hiatus, and I know I missed out on opportunities to speak. I was so late in putting together this year's Unplanner, I don't know if I will end up selling a single copy by the time it hits Amazon later this week. And do you know what? I don't even care.

I don't care that we "fell behind" and will be doing school through most of the summer, either, because I had so much fun through the spring. Besides, we're all pretty relaxed now that we're back to a somewhat normal class schedule, and after school, we can go jump in the pool!

Everything I did these last six months makes me happy. I'm loving my clean driveway and my fresh and welcoming deck. The flowers I worked so hard on lift my spirits every time I see a new bloom. And floating in my little backyard oasis, looking up into the trees takes me away from it all. I didn't know my life needed these things, but I'm sure glad I took some time off to make them happen.

Do something for you


There are 52 weeks in a year; not all of them have to be dedicated to school and housework. Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint to the finish. I think we need to take time for ourselves along the way, even weeks at a time if that's what we need. 

Please remember, the years you spend homeschooling amount to a huge chunk of your life, and you deserve to spend at least part of that time doing things that don't involve detergent or textbooks. 

You don't have to go dig in the dirt like I did, but do something that will make you happy, and that will have lasting results that you can savor over the weeks and months to come. You'll be glad you did.


Monday, January 1, 2018

The most important things your middle schooler needs to know

This month, my post, 6 Important Things Your Middle Schooler Needs to Know was featured on Year Round Homeschooling by Misty Leask. I was excited to help her kick off a month of insightful posts aimed at families who are homeschooling middle school kids.

There are so many lessons for middle schoolers to learn, and during this month-long series parents will receive a wealth of knowledge from many homeschool bloggers. You may find advice to help with teaching math, or science, or foreign languages. You may learn more about strengthening your child's faith.

But as I thought about what I would choose to share, I kept coming back to the realization that middle schoolers are at perhaps the most vulnerable age, in the middle of some of their toughest growing-up years, and what they need, more than anything, is connection; to know without a doubt that they are loved.

Hop over to Year Round Homeschooling to read my post, and read more about how you can shore up your middle school kids and give them the strong emotional foundation they will need as they move oh so rapidly toward adulthood.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The responsibilities of the homeschooled student

Over the years, I have had more heart-to-heart conversations with my kids than I can count, and many of those have been about our roles as homeschoolers. So many of us tend to focus on our own responsibilities, as educators, and largely forget to teach our kids about their own responsibilities, as students.

Don't fall into that trap!

When our kids grow up, they will face expectations both in their family life and in the workplace. We have to train them to accept their responsibilities as students with diligence and grace, to treat others - including us - with respect, and to focus on their goals.

In essence, a homeschooled student's responsibilities come down to five points, illustrated in this infographic. If they can successfully manage these five skills, they'll be better equipped to learn any subject and take on any adventures that life sends their way.


Love this infographic? Please feel free to share or embed it straight from Visual.ly!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Taking a practice run at the PSAT

Did you know students can take the PSAT for practice, without it counting against them, as long as they take it before their junior year? That's what my twins are doing, and frankly, I'm a little jealous.

Photo Credit: Tavia Fuller Armstrong


Knowing that students often raise their scores on the SAT and the ACT when they take it more than once, I can't believe more of them don't take advantage of the opportunity to take a practice run at the PSAT in their sophomore or even freshman years of high school. But they probably don't know that they can, or they think that it will count against them.