Fire Safety Month

Unknown October is Fire Safety Month and there are many websites that provide printable and online activities for your students. This might be one may of those topics that you just can’t seem to get to throughout the year, but  it is a required subject for us who homeschool here in Ohio. I have a list of websites that have games, coloring sheets, and activities for your students.


Embark on the Journey has an awesome printable pack and resources for preschool through early elementary. There is also a list of books to read to your students or allow them to pursue on their own.

Ohio Division of Forestry has coloring and activity pages as well as lesson plans for teachers that pertain to wildfires. There is even a certificate for your child when s/he has completed the lessons.

National Fire Prevention Association  The NFPA has online videos, ebooks, and a phone app to help students learn about fire safety.

What about taking your children on a tour of your local firehouse? The firemen are happy to have visitors, just call to see when you can come for a visit. This would be a good introduction to your young ones so they won’t be scared if they see a fireman with his oxygen mask and helmet on since the firemen take the time to let the children see them put on their coats and masks.

Remember to change your smoke detector batteries and practice fire escape routes at your house. Above all, be prepared and safety conscious. :)

Dr. Who


I have been a fan of Dr. Who since before it became popular here in the United States. The doctor is an outer space fallible protector of the human race, and a detective as well. What makes him so popular is his quirky personality and genuine care for us humans as he rescues Great Britain (and the Earth) from alien space enemies.

Silhouette, the first book of this new series, pits Doctor Who and his earthly companions against a wealthy businessman who preys upon circus performers and the audience. How exactly was a man who had attended the Carnival of Curiosities murdered when the door and windows were locked? What was he trying to say when the name of one of the doctor’s companions was being written on a piece of paper by the dead man? What does this have to do with the doctor?

I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to reading more Dr. Who books in the future. Mr. Richards story was fun and intriguing, the very things I love about Dr. Who. If you have a senior high student that enjoys mysteries they will want to read this book.

About the author: Justin Richards has written for stage and screen as well as writing novels and graphic novels. He has also co-written several action thrillers for older children with the acknowledged master of the genre Jack Higgins. Justin acts as Creative Consultant to BBC Books’ range of Doctor Who titles, as well as writing quite a few himself. Married with two children (both boys), Justin lives and works in Warwick, within sight of one of Britain’s best-preserved castles. 

The FTC requires that I let you know that I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.



Dyslexia and Handwriting

With cursive writing being dropped from some of the public schools’ curriculum and teachers using it in the classroom less and less, I have been asked by homeschool moms what I think about continuing to teach cursive. I feel it is important, but I wanted to give more information to moms in order to help make an informed decision for handwriting instruction.  I have discovered that cursive is helpful to all students, but particularly dyslexic students. The School of Dyslexia, a blog for educators of dyslexic students, had a great article about this topic.

“Research shows that cursive improves dynamic interplay in the brain, improves fine motor skills, and can help improve the memory of the written concept.The research points to cursive writing engaging massive regions of the brain involving thinking, while typing or block printing keeps the generation of letters separate and less connective thought is involved.  When we are cursive writing, we are making connections from the right side and the left side of the brain; this helps build neural pathways and can increase mental effectiveness.  The brain is plastic, by which I mean it can change depending on how we train it, and cursive writing can help make the right and left-brain connections stronger.

As a school that teaches primarily to dyslexics, we often have students with fine motor challenges.  We often have students that have challenges with doing up buttons, tying shoes, these sorts of tasks.  Cursive writing naturally develops sensory skills, as the student understands angles, pencil position, and mostly motor planning to form each letter in a fluid motion from left to right.
Finally, memory can be greatly affected by the use of cursive.  As letters are connected to form words, more attention is given to the entire word, and by extension the entire thought.  It is easier for students, especially dyslexic and ADD students to think about what they are writing without losing their focus.  The continued attention and fluidity in writing often results in more long-term memory of the concepts.”

source: Derek Rhodenizer,Vice Principal, Heritage Academy 
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  from a post on School of Dyslexia

Here are some websites that have handwriting worksheets for you to customize:

Handwriting Worksheets

Worksheet Works

Junior High: EEK!

imagesWhen I began home schooling my children I had no intention of teaching them beyond third grade, but it is amazing how your path takes a different course than you intended. Each year my husband and I would discuss the previous academic year and look at the upcoming one to determine what we thought was best for our sons. After prayerful consideration we would proceed on to the next grade level of our educating at home.

The first 6 years flew by and I was thoroughly enjoying teaching, but seventh grade began to turn out differently. My son and I began to have conflicts and disagreements.  I realized that something had to change! Guess what that “something” was? Yep- ME! As my attitude changed, I realized that teaching middle school/junior high could be a lot of fun! (most of the time) My son never really found me half as funny as I found myself, :) but our approach to learning took a=on a different approach. We were able to study subjects more in-depth and have “life conversations” that I doubt we would have had otherwise. It even gave me the confidence to continue teaching senior high.

Why do I share all of this? I think there may be a few of you who need reassurance that you can teach junior high. Here are some areas where you will start to see junior high students begin to excel:

Doing independent work Your student will not need your help as much as they did in elementary school, but do continue to check on them and their progress. Helping them do this will be easier if you begin with a subject in which they are mastering.  After teaching the lesson, set the timer for 30 minutes and walk away! After the time has expired, come back and check on him and see what work has been done. Praise him and answer any questions about the subject. If more time is needed, set the timer for any additional minutes needed and leave the room again. As your student gains confidence and is competently completing assignments, add another subject.

Checking/following a schedule Give your scholar a daily schedule at first and eventually allow  her to write out her own with your supervision. This will help her  see the schoolwork load for the day. You can help her prioritize her subjects and help with her independence.

Checking their own work Show your pupil that you trust them by allowing them to check subjects. I would suggest one at the beginning, such as spelling because that will actually help them if they see the correct spelling once again. when first beginning this process, let them know you will be rechecking it to see of they have missed anything and to hold them accountable. After they have been able to do this successfully, spot check once a week. Do not allow a student to self-check subjects daily that they still are learning and developing. They still need you to catch errors and reteach to clarify the subject matter.

Finding a sense of humor Junior high students are a lot of fun! They are understanding the nuances of life and have finally gotten past the knock-knock  and chicken jokes. Schoolwork doesn’t have to be all work and no fun. Find the joy in the daily things of life. Take your junior high student out for a “date”. It doesn’t have to cost anything; a trip to the park to enjoy the outdoors, go window shopping, watch a favorite movie and fix popcorn.

The interesting thing that has happened in my life is that I now teach junior high. I love my students and helping them navigate through these years. I find it fun to throw puns at my student because they either laugh or groan, but I do get a reaction, which is right up my alley. :)

Speaking of, here are a few for you to try on your junior high student, educational of course!

  • Without geometry, life is pointless.
  • The roundest knight at King Arthur’s table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from eating too much pi.

Have a great week and enjoy your junior higher!






Tile Blocks Ideas and Giveaway Winners

imagesOh, the things you can do with wooden tiles! Young children love to play and manipulate small objects. Using 1 inch tiles can help with mathematical and other academic concepts.

Visually appealing, tile blocks can be used to help students with the following concepts:

  • sorting
  • color recognition
  • counting out the number of each color (You can decrease the amount of tiles according to the child’s ability.)
  • making designs You can make your own or download pentomino worksheets 
  • measurement (Line tiles up in various lengths and use a ruler or a tape measure to measure how long it is.)
  • demonstrate the concept of sets
  • demonstrate the concept of area
  • develop small motor skills
  • follow directions For example: Find a blue tile and stack a yellow tile on top of it. Now add a green tile on top of the yellow tile. Draw a picture of your stack.
  • independent work You can keep these tiles in a small tub and bring them out when your older children are doing school.


3 winners have been awarded a set of blocks. Please see the comments section to find out if you won.