Archive for November, 2012

November 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on November 28, 2012.

This week my mother is turning 72 years old, though if you ask her, she might say she’s 75.  That’s right…her way of thinking is that if she tells you she’s older, you’ll say, “Wow! You look great for your age!”

Now that I’m a mother, I can look back on my childhood and appreciate the sacrifices and unconditional love my mother has given me.  My mom loved dancing, and she taught young children how to dance before she married my father.  She has never stopped loving dance, and she taught Dancercise when I was young, but mostly, she stayed home and took care of her home and children.

I don’t know if she ever had aspirations outside of family life, but I do know she doesn’t regret her choices.

If you had asked me when I was twenty if I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps and be a stay-at-home mom, I would have said, “No way.”  There were a lot of things I wanted to do, but having children was not high on my priority list.

Now, I credit my mothering ability partly to the example she gave me. Perhaps I can also credit my storytelling abilities to my mother.  My grandmother told me how as a child my mother would tell her friends outrageous stories.  For example, she told one of her friends that a man used to drive through Athens with a big truck, and he would pick up little children and take them to the river and drown them! My grandmother got a call from the friend’s parent for that one.

I can’t remember my mother telling me outrageous stories, but I can remember her tickling me until I fell off the bed and singing with her as she played the piano.  I remember her playing games with me to pass the time on long road trips, and I remember the prom dresses she spent too much money on to make me happy.

Growing up I had friends whose mothers were less than exemplary, and I could see that while sometimes I butted heads with my mom – probably because we’re alike – I was lucky to have her.  She has always been my biggest fan.  I’m certain that she’s the only person in the world who has read every word I’ve ever published.

I don’t have the words to express my deepest gratitude for that.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my mother it’s that I need to pay attention to my children. I need to want to know what they are willing to share.

My children will learn soon enough that the rest of the world cares very little about their needs, desires and the minor details of their lives. Though I hope they’ll find a community who supports and uplifts them, I plan to be the one who will always be there, no matter what.

I am lucky that I have a lot of people in my life who love me, support me, and would help me if I needed it, but my mother has been the one person whom I always knew I could turn to immediately, if I needed it.  There were times in my life when I lacked a community – I traveled and lived outside the country twice – but I always knew I could reach my mom at any moment.  That’s a feeling of security that every person deserves to have.

Happy birthday, Mom.  I love you, and I’m grateful everyday that you are my mom.

November 26, 2012

Worthy Reads

Homeschooling

The Value in Mistakes – Interest-Led Learning

What About Socialization? – Homeschool.com

Homeschooling works - the star online

Homeschooling a better choice for some – Franklin Park Herald, Chicago Sun-Times

Nova Scotia would be ‘worst place in Canada’ for homeschoolers if gvmt heeds new report – LifeSiteNews.com

Kenya to outlaw homeschooling? – One News Now

Education

Want to succeed in STEM? Listen to the experts! - Innovative Educator

ECE (Preschool) is no good for 4, 5 and possibly 6 year olds, expert says – Home Education Foundation – In some ways, I agree with this.  I think children benefit more from being at home with their parents during their early years, if their parents provide them with a stimulating, loving environment.  I don’t think kids need the kind of “socialization” that many people think they need at such a young age. Forming bonds with their family and possibly a close network of extended family and friends is ideal. However, I have read that preschool does benefit children from lower income families or families who cannot provide the a loving, engaging environment.  And I think shunning preschool altogether can hurt many families who have no other choice but to put more energy into their work than in their family life in order to survive.  What we need is to get our society to walk the walk and not just talk the talk about promoting family values!

Homework: It fails our students and undermines American education – SmartBlogs – I agree!  Kids are in school all day, and they have to do homework at night. When are they supposed to play?!

Schools Are Ruining Our Kids – Vanity Fair – Perhaps a little extreme, but it’s thought-provoking.

Parenting

Giving a Child Permission to Be Miserable – Motherload Blog, NYTimes.com

Four Hours of Screen Time? No Problem – Motherload Blog, NYTimes.com

Limit children’s screen time, expert urges – BBC News – I have already written about our T.V. viewing, but this makes me tempted to write a another post. I think many good parents read these kinds of articles and then freak out about their kids having any screen time.  But in reality, these articles are for the parents who aren’t involved enough in their kids’ education and individual interests.  Do you read books to your kids? Do you have conversations with them? Are your kids involved in activities outside the home? Are you doing projects together? Getting out into nature?  What kinds of programming are your kids really watching? I doubt it’s harming them.

Educating Boys

Educating Boys – ABC Sydney – Australian Broadcasting Corporation – Though this sounds like a good school, I don’t agree with the statement that boys are different because we nurture them differently. They are just different!  And we nurture each child according to his/her needs.

Why You Should Care About International Men’s Day – Blogging ‘Bout Boys

Storytelling

30 Storytelling Tips for Educators: How to Capture Your Student’s Attention – InformED – I was asked to share this article with you, and while I think it’s great, I also think it may overwhelm the novice storyteller!  Remember, to tell stories, all you have to do is begin… I am planning to write much more about storytelling for parents.  Trying to find the time….!  I hope you’ll bear with me.

November 24, 2012

The Junior Ranger Program

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, November 21, 2012. 

Ever since I learned about the Junior Ranger Program, I’ve been looking forward to when my son could participate.  Any child age 6-12 can participate, and it’s a great way to get outdoors, explore nature and learn about Georgia’s history.  It’s also a good way to teach about setting goals and working toward something.

In order to participate, all you have to do is pick up a copy of the Junior Ranger Activity Book at any Georgia State Park or Historic Site office.  You can also download the book online in pdf format at http://www.gastateparks.org/JuniorRanger

The book has a series of activities for children to complete, and a checklist for an adult to initial when they complete each activity.  Adults can help children with the activities.  There are three levels, and upon completion of each level, children will receive a junior ranger badge to display proudly wherever they want.

Level 1 is recommended for ages 6-7, and they must complete seven of the activities.  Level 2 is for ages 8-10 and requires 10 activities to be completed. Level 3 is for ages 11-12, and they must complete 14 of the activities.  Children may use the same booklet for each level, and the activities they did for their first level can count towards the next, if they want them to.

There’s information in the booklet for parents to read to the children so that they’ll become aware of things to stay away from when they hit the trails, such as poison ivy and venomous snakes. It tells you how to prepare and be safe while exploring the wilderness.  After this, there are several pages of activities for the children to complete.  Each page gives separate instructions for each level of participation.  My son is working on his first badge, Level 1, so the activities are fairly easy.

Some of the activities my son has done so far are identifying Georgia pine trees, taking a guided walking tour, observing wildlife, and visiting a historical site.  He only needs to complete three more activities to obtain his badge.

There are plenty to choose from.  He might identify plant and animal life in a body of water, or go fishing, go on a plant scavenger hunt, visit one more historical site, observe the night sky, or identify at least two nocturnal animals.  If my son isn’t into any of that, there are some other choices too.

With 63 sites statewide and a site 50 miles of every Georgia resident, it should not be hard for any child to participate in this program, especially since participants can take as long as they need to complete the activities.  You don’t have to do the activities in a state park either, although some of the activities such as visiting a historical site might require that.

When completed, all they need to do is present their checklist at any Georgia State Park or Historic Site office, or there’s an address in the booklet to mail the page to.  Participants who mail their page in will receive their badge in 2-4 weeks.

Occasionally there are Junior Ranger day camps or workshops that participants can attend.  These usually happen in the summer, and will be listed on the Georgia State Park and Historical Sites calendar of events: http://www.gastateparks.org/events.

Recently they have also started a Get Outdoors Georgia Gopher Badge too.  This is for kids 7-14 years old, and there’s a separate list of fun requirements for this badge too.  You can download the requirements for this badge here: http://www.getoutdoorsgeorgia.org/downloads/JrRangerGopherBadge.pdf.

If you are interested in this program, you’ll also want to subscribe to the Junior Ranger E-newsletter.  My son receives it at his own e-mail address, and he has fun reading about wildlife, viewing photos and doing some of the suggested activities.

For families able to travel, there’s also a Junior Ranger Program for the National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/learn/juniorranger.cfm.  I don’t know when we’ll get a chance to visit a national park, but my son has had fun using their on-line Junior Ranger program.  Children can play more than 50 games and learn about our national parks, monuments and historic sites. The website also tracks the children’s progress.

Whether you have some Junior Rangers in your house or not, I hope you get a chance to get outside and experience the healing qualities of nature this holiday season.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

{Thanksgiving Wreath}

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!  

We’re having a cozy Thanksgiving at home this year, and the only true activity we did besides cooking, eating, and reading our Thanksgiving books was make this autumn wreath out of cotton, natural items from our yard and natural items that my son’s cousin sent him last year from his yard in Colorado (a very cool X-mas present)! My son arranged these on some cardboard I cut in shape of a wreath and glued them down himself with a hot glue gun. (This idea and the cotton was courtesy of Dotty at the William Harris Homestead - thanks, Dotty!)

For more autumn and Thanksgiving activities to do with young children, you can read the post I wrote last year: November & Thanksgiving Activities With Small Children.  If you have any activities you want to share, feel free to post a link in the comments section.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I want you to know how thankful I am that you have taken the time to read my blog. I hope you are warm, safe, loved and happy.

 

November 19, 2012

Gift Ideas for Home Educators

Someone’s first Christmas

{Gift Ideas for Children} {Gift Ideas for Homeschoolers} {Gift Ideas for Anyone!}

This is a post I wrote last year, and I’m referring to it as I try to decide what to buy for the children on my list. I thought it might help you too as you get ready for this holiday, gift-giving season! Enjoy!

***

Do you have homeschooled children on your gift list this holiday season?  Or some precocious children who love to learn?

Homeschooling can be expensive or inexpensive, depending on how much parents decide to invest in it.  Curriculums can cost a pretty penny, but a lot of homeschoolers do without and use materials that they can find at the library or in thrift stores.

Still, the best way to get a child to learn is to lay some interesting materials around the house – a book on the coffee table, art supplies in an accessible bin, a game on a low shelf.  If they think that they are discovering it themselves, they are more likely to want to know all about it!  So homeschoolers will appreciate any extra help they can get to offer fun, educational tools to their children.

Here are some ideas they might love:

  • Family Memberships– What venues do they like to go to?  Most museums, zoos, aquariums and other centers have family or individual memberships that will allow a family/person to have free admission and/or discounts at the facility for a full year.  If you know that the family lives close enough to such a place, it might be perfect for them!
  • Art Supplies – I’m not talking about crayons and markers that you can buy at any grocery store (though kids love and need those too), but real art supplies that you can buy at art stores can make a wonderful gift.  If you don’t think it’s worth buying children good quality art supplies, I suggest you read this post at Camp Creek Blog, “In Praise of High Quality Art Materials.”
  • Ask what they need – You may just want to ask what they need.  Do you know what kind of teaching method they are using?  You may find a store that specializes in it.  In addition, for homeschooling families who purchase curriculum, they may appreciate it if you could chip in on the cost because some curriculums can be quite expensive.  Or perhaps there are certain books or other resources they want but aren’t able to afford.
  • Let’s not forget books, especially if there’s a subject the children are interested in or studying.  And remember, gift certificates will be appreciated too!

Here are some cool online stores that may help you find that perfect gift:

Are you a homeschooler with a wish list?  Please tell me what you would like to receive for gifts this year! Or do you know of another cool place to buy educational items?  Do you make them yourself?  Let me know!

November 17, 2012

Ft. Yargo State Park

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on November 15, 2012.

Autumn is the perfect time for getting out into nature, and we residents of Barrow County can’t forget the treasure that is in our own backyard: Fort Yargo State Park.  At least 400,000 people visit Ft. Yargo every year, and aren’t we lucky to have it so close that we need travel only a few minutes to get there?  It’s located one mile south of Winder on Highway 81.

We love exploring Georgia’s various state parks and outdoor recreation areas, but as the boys grow up, I intend to make sure they feel at home in Ft. Yargo.

I went on one of my first dates with my husband to Ft. Yargo, and even before we had children, we would sometimes go there and hike to the fort, which was tucked away in the back of the park.  Now it has been moved to a more accessible location, and the Ft. Yargo Living History Society has begun fixing up the blockhouse, and according to their website, they will be building a blacksmith’s shop, hunter’s cabin and enlarging the cookhouse.

The last time we went by the fort was on a Saturday, and we were lucky to meet the living history demonstrators. (They are onsite the 3rd Saturday of every month.) The demonstrators, who were in period dress, were heating up the mud oven to bake bread, and there was a pot of venison stew simmering on the stove.  My picky boys weren’t eager to try it.

Back in the day, Fort Yargo was located in the border area between the Creek and Cherokee nation.  According to the Georgia State Parks website, “The state of Georgia contracted with the Humphrey brothers to build a string of four forts across north Georgia to protect white settlers from Indians.”  Fort Yargo was one of them.

According to roadsidegeorgia.com, “The western push of settlers from the Georgia coast had slowed during the Revolutionary War, but not long after the war ended, settlers once again began to encroach on Creek land. Near the Creek town of Snodon settlers created tiny Jug Handle, essentially a tavern and inn at the intersection of a heavily traveled north-south Indian Trading Path and an east-west trading route.  To protect the settlers from the Creek Indians, Fort Yargo was built in 1792 by a Virginia settler…Captain Joseph Humphries.”

You can read more about the history and legends associated with Ft. Yargo at the Living History Society’s website: http://www.fylhs.com/history_and_legends_.html.

Today the park encompasses 1,816 acres, and has a beautiful 260-acre man-made lake with fishing, boat ramps, swimming and a beach open during the warmer seasons.  There are 18 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers, and events take place there throughout the year.  Campsites, cottages, and yurts are for rent, and there are at least three playgrounds, picnic shelters, tennis courts, disc golf, basketball and so much more.

Fort Yargo is an oasis in Barrow County, and I’m so thankful to have it nearby. My boys don’t need most of the amenities that it offers, though.  We go there to walk on the paths and sit by the water while they throw rocks and twigs into the lake. I’m not sure there will be any more pebbles left on the shore by the time they grow up.

Another perk to having a state park so close is that my son can easily participate in the Georgia Junior Ranger Program, which is recommended for children ages 6-12. I’ll write about that in my next column.

Go to http://www.gastateparks.org/FortYargo to learn more about the park and plan your visit, but take note that it will be closed to the public on Dec. 4-5 for managed deer hunts.

What is your favorite state park?

November 15, 2012

Worthy Reads

Homeschooling

In Berlin, Global Homeschooling Leaders Unveil Historic Declaration – The New American

Home-school proponent (Susan Bauer) well-versed in controversy – The Norman Transcript

a few rules for homeschooling and life, the marvel edition – Wonder Farm

The Year I Went to School and Why I Left – Huffington Post Teen – a very down-to-earth commentary from a 16-year-old homeschooled student

Am I Living it Right? (is the wrong question) – FIMBY – An inspiring post for any homeschooler.

Education

My View: Ten myths about gifted students and programs for gifted – CNN Schools of Thought

Harvard Wants to Know: How Does the Act of Making Shape Kids’ Brains? – Mindshift

My View: An open letter to George Lucas – we need your independent vision – CNN Schools of Thought

Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful? – Smithsonian.com

Revolt against high-stakes standardized testing spreads - Washington Post Answer Sheet

My view: Kindergarten redshirting different for each child – CNN Schools of Thought – I would have held my son back for Kindergarten if we were not homeschooling, but as this writer notes, it is not necessarily the right thing to do for every child. I am glad I’m homeschooling so that I don’t have to worry about it because surely there would be pros and cons to doing it.

Historian David McCullough: No ‘professional teacher should major in education’ – Washington Post Answer Sheet

Why ‘Googling It’ Is Not Enough – Mindshift

Miscellaneous

How Children Learn: Portraits of Classrooms Around the World - Brain Pickings – I e-mailed this to the six-year-old, and we enjoyed looking at our globe while looking at these photos.

Why Daydreaming Isn’t a Waste of Time – Mindshift

November 12, 2012

Creating New Family Traditions

Note: This column first appeared in the Barrow Journal on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 (you can view it online here), and shortly after, appeared on my blog. I’m re-posting it now because we’re entering the holiday season again, which can be stressful for many, including me. It’s important to think about what you want for your family at this season, and I hope this inspires you. Please leave me a comment and tell me about your favorite family traditions. (Psst…This also happens to be one chapter in my e-book, Then There Were Two: Essays on Motherhood.)

There’s a time when old traditions need to die, a time for new traditions, and a time when old traditions can be reborn with new meaning.

In years past, I have always felt a little lonely during the holidays.  I wished I had a big, happy family that didn’t live so far apart, so we could all come together and eat a lot of food, play games, and exchange stories.

My husband and I are usually invited to a relative’s home each Thanksgiving, and we’ve always gone, but this year I did an uncomfortable thing and turned down the invitation.  It’s because I began to think about what kind of memories I want to create for my two boys.

Except for my dad and step-mom, we rarely see our Georgia relatives during the year, so for my boys, it would almost be like visiting a stranger’s house on the holiday.  What do I really want for them?  I want them to remember the holidays in their childhood home with their loved ones.

So this year we’re going to have a cozy Thanksgiving at home, and we’ll make a big meal (big to us, that is), and we’ll start the tradition of stating what we’re thankful for at the dinner table.

This time of year has got me thinking about family traditions in general too.  A few years ago, I had a conversation with my brother (who is also starting his family) about how we need to create our own family traditions, especially since so many of our traditions were blurred by divorce and moving from state to state.

Shortly after having that conversation, my brother and sister-in-law sent me some books about creating family traditions as a Christmas gift.  The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox and Together Creating Family Traditions by Rondi Hillstrom Davis and Janell Sewall Oakes are beautiful books that have given me many good ideas.

Yet I’m aware that the best traditions spring forth spontaneously.  I have to be careful about stating, “Here is a new tradition we are going to start…” What if I’m the only one on board that boat?  Traditions need to be something the whole family enjoys.

We all have traditions whether we realize it or not.  Religions give us many of our traditions.  My family follows the Christian traditions of observing Christmas and Easter, and we’ll continue to do so.  Traditions can also be unique to each family.

In The New Book of Family Traditions, I read about a family that every month during the full moon, they go outside and roast marshmallows in the moonlight.  By coincidence, my family took a moonlit walk the other night.  We showed our son where Jupiter was and looked for constellations.  It was so much fun, I’m wondering if I could make that happen every month.  (Or almost every month?)

Traditions can be simple daily exercises.  Some people say grace before mealtimes; others enjoy a slow cup of coffee in the mornings (that’s me).  Come to think of it, I have already started the ritual of telling my five-year-old a story every night. Even if I feel uninspired and tell him a boring tale, he seems to love it, and I know that somehow this is imparting my love and beliefs to him.

And this is what traditions do at their best: They give a family or community a reason to come together and share their love and commonality with each other. This in turn gives an individual a sense of belonging.  I want my boys to feel that being part of this family is important. When life gets tough I want them to have a place to come to and feel loved.

This is why we’ll have Thanksgiving and Christmas at home from now on, and I’ll be looking for ways to expand our old traditions, making them more meaningful to us.  I’ll also be thinking about new traditions I can add throughout the year.

What are your traditions?  Old or new?  I would love to hear what your family does because it may give me ideas for my own.  Please leave me a comment.  And in the future, I’ll write about what kinds of traditions we have started or renewed.

You can view all my posts regarding seasonal traditions (which I’m still working on) here: Traditions / Rituals / Holidays

November 10, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Parenthood

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on November 7, 2012.

October was a rough month for us.  The boys got sick for the second time this fall.  All those wonderful festivals and things to do at this time of year got cancelled for us.  That didn’t surprise me. Now I’m kind of used to missing fun things because something comes up – that’s part of having kids that you learn about real quick.

What did surprise me was my reaction to my six-year-old’s stomach virus.  I thought I was passed the point of being an overreacting parent.  You know, when you have your first born infant, you’re overprotective and extra vigilant about everything.  When baby gets sick, your doctor is more concerned about calming you down than about the baby’s illness.

By the second child, you’re an old pro.  You don’t have to call the doctor anymore.  Colds and flus are dealt with at home.  When healthy, you overlook the fact that your son is crawling on an unswept floor, and you just sigh heavily and say a prayer when you see him lick the shopping cart’s handle.

But I have not been through a stomach virus such as this, and I was that much more hyper because a few months before this same son became dehydrated when he had a cold – he refuses to eat or drink if he has a sore throat.  So I was watching him like a hawk and pushing sips of water the best I could.

It was horrible, and my already skinny kid lost a lot of weight. It happened over the weekend too – kids always get sick on the weekends and at night when doctor’s offices are closed. So I pestered our doctor twice on the phone, and he assured me the virus was going around and my son would improve in time. It wasn’t fast enough for me, however, and if it hadn’t been for a more cool-headed husband, I probably would have taken him to the hospital.

This autumn the three-year-old is also taking us on round 2 of the terrible threes. (It’s not the terrible twos! It’s the terrible threes!) To top it off, he’s taken up screaming too. I’m not talking about temper tantrums – he screams when he’s happy, and he screams when he’s upset. It’s nerve-wracking to say the least.

His lack of volume control is also unfortunate for my husband who recently started working at home full-time. Sound travels through this house as well as it travels across water, so there really isn’t a quiet corner anyone can escape to. This whole season has been about adapting and adjusting to the ups and downs of parenthood.

It hasn’t been all bad. My six-year-old has impressed me with his ability to concentrate during our morning homeschool lessons despite distractions from his little brother. Two months ago I wasn’t sure we would make much progress on his math or reading skills any time soon, but suddenly my son is counting by 2s and 5s and reading is starting to click too.

Being sick also gave us the excuse to slow down and enjoy the autumn weather in our yard and do some painting and creating.  My six-year-old gets ideas from the children’s programs he watches, and it’s fun to watch him take on an art project and do it by himself.

We also enjoyed a fun, healthy Halloween week, which made up for missing out on some things earlier in the month.  We had a small Halloween party with friends, attended Bear Hollow Zoo’s “Boo at the Zoo” event, and went trick or treating in our neighborhood on Halloween night.  Oh, and I turned yet another year older, but let’s not dwell on that.

Whenever I experience the lows of parenthood, I remind myself that “this too shall pass.” Hopefully the upcoming holiday season will be healthy and stress free – for you and for me.

How has your Autumn been?

November 8, 2012

Homeschooling Kindergarten: Teaching About the Weather

Like the solar system, the weather was one other subject I decided to introduce to my son to last year.  All others (besides reading and math) were child-initiated.  For this, I mostly relied on books from the library and our own book collection (see below for list of books).  For our initial lesson, I stuck to an easy topic: the water cycle.

  • I don’t do this often, but I printed out some coloring pages for the boys about the water cycle at Kid Zone Science (scroll to bottom of page for links to worksheets).  If I use worksheets and coloring pages sparingly, the boys seem to like it.  (In general, they have not liked coloring books or drawing with crayons very much, but it does happen occasionally.)
  • After explaining the water cycle to my then five-year-old, we boiled some water on the stove and watched the steam rise: water vapor!  Then I took a glass of ice water and held it over the steam until it started to condense: rain!
  • We also made a weather chart, and we kept track of the weather for one week.  My son wanted to make another chart and keep going.

{Unfortunately, that never happened, and as we were studying clouds, I began to take pictures of cloud formations and had the idea to make a chart about that. Again, this didn’t happen.  Maybe it will someday, or maybe it won’t. That’s okay. Now I’ll leave it up to my son to continue his study of the weather.}

  • Again, at the time, my son began to get interested in the weather, specifically about hurricanes and tornadoes.  He checked out several books on these topics at the library and wanted me to read them to him.  I also let him watch some footage about hurricanes on YouTube, and now he definitely doesn’t want to be in one!  (You’ll have to decide what is age-appropriate viewing for your child. My son seems to look at natural phenomena with a scientific mind, and they don’t scare him as much as it would have scared me as a child.)
  • We also watched a cool YouTube video about weather balloons (“High Altitude Weather Balloon Launch”), and my son wanted to make a pretend one.
  • After his pre-K graduation last spring, my mother-in-law wanted to get him a gift for a congratulatory present.  He asked for a weather station!  It was on our back deck rail for quite a while until our new dog chewed it to bits. :(  My son liked checking the temperature and rain level everyday, so I may get him a better thermometer and rain gauge at some point.
  • We also had a bonus when we visited the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago this past summer.  My son picked “Tornado Alley” to watch in their Omnimax theatre.
  • And, of course, we’ve had our lessons reinforced in classes at the Sandy Creek Nature Center in Athens, Georgia.

As you can see, all of my lessons are pretty easy.  I don’t rely on a curriculum.  I pick topics I think I should cover (that he would like) from a typical course of study for his age range.  I use library books, YouTube, worksheets if they seem to help, and then I let serendipity take its course. 

Having a brief lesson at home has helped my son understand and process these topics when we’ve found other ways to learn about them: in his classes, at the museum, on T.V. or new books that might otherwise not have gained his attention.

Teaching this way has not been a stress on me, and so far, I haven’t lost my child’s interest in learning, which is most important to me!

Here’s a list of books my son has enjoyed listening to me read:

  • Hurricanes, Simon, Seymour
  • Hurricanes! Gibbons, Gail
  • Tornadoes, Simon, Seymour
  • Scholastic’s The magic school bus wet all over : a book about the water cycle, Relf, Patricia
  • Weather words and what they mean,  Gibbons, Gail
  • I Can Read About: Weather, Supraner, Robyn
  • How does the sun make weather? Williams, Judith (Judith A.)
  • Thunderstorms, Sipiera, Paul P.
  • Lightning, Herriges, Ann
  • Down comes the rain, Branley, Franklyn Mansfield
  • The Magic School Bus: At the Waterworks, Cole, Joanna
  •  Clouds, Rockwell, Anne
  •  All the colors of the rainbow,  Fowler, Allan

What have you used to teach your children about the weather?

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