The Merka Learning Club is a US based community of passionate parents, teachers, grandparents and anyone that want's to learn new and exciting ways to teach our children. They provide Educational Tips on how to teach our children in a better, more fun and exciting way.
Summer break is right around the corner, and everyone is ready for a break. Parents are ready to not have a school schedule anymore, and kids are ready to sleep in longer and play. Everyone anticipates days full of friends, laughter, and fun activities. That doesn't mean that the learning needs to stop just because school is out for the summer.
Having a nonacademic summer can cause students to digress two to three months in their skills. That means the teacher has to spend weeks reviewing and catching students up to start new material.
Just because it's summer doesn't mean you can't learn! Taking half an hour each day helps students close their gaps and perform better the next summer year.
How to Keep Learning Throughout the Summer
1. Make Time
Set aside time each day to learn throughout the summer break. Kids like to play and have plenty of free time throughout the summer, but they can take 15 to 30 minutes per day to learn.
You don't have to cover a lot in those 30 minutes. Try rotating subject areas throughout the week or use workbooks that are preplanned for the summer break.
2. Read Each Day
The most important task for each day is to read. If you have a reader, then you probably don't have to struggle too much to get your child to read. Make frequent trips to the library for new books and get books based on your child's interests.
Look into summer reading programs or groups. Most libraries offer reading programs that offer prizes to kids who read so much throughout the summer. If your library doesn't offer one, create a program for your kids as incentives to keep reading.
You don't have to include reading in that 30 minute period if you don't want. Some kids naturally gravitate towards reading as a desired activity. For some kids, it's hard to keep them away from reading! If your child finds reading difficult, then put it in the block of time.
3. Play Math Games
Use math games to help reinforce your child's math skills. There are hundreds of math games available online for your child to play, or you can adapt card games, such as Go Fish, to work. You can also find board games that are designed to help your child work on his skills, such as Sum Swamp and Prime Climb.
4. Work on Reading Comprehension
Working on reading comprehension helps your child understand what they' reading. You can find reading comprehension workbooks to use daily. Teacher supply stores or online outlets offer many choices for workbooks. No matter what your child's grade level is, you can find a workbook to help develop reading comprehension.
5. Have Children Work on Creative Writing
Summer is a great time to work on creative writing skills. It can help to improve your child's written language skills while giving your child a way to use their imagination during the summer.
Plan to have your child write a creative paragraph each week. You can either give him a topic, such as a family vacation, or let your child be creative and pick the topic.
You should have your child work on a rough draft, so you can help work out the errors. Make the final copy due at the end of the week.
6. Pick Skills to Develop
Pay attention to the skills that your child needs to work on the most based on the subjects your child struggled with the previous school year. Summer is the best time to work on those troubled areas, and you can use resources available to you.
The summer might be all about fun in the sun and swimming, but you can make time each day to work on education. There is always time for learning.
Springtime is a great time to teach your little kids about caterpillars. You can make the activities more advanced for older kids. Everyone loves caterpillars and butterflies!
Here are a few ways to start learning about caterpillars.
Learn the Parts of a Caterpillar
One of the first things you should do is learn about the parts of a caterpillar. Caterpillars have three body parts - a head, thorax, and an abdomen. Caterpillars have up to five pairs of short legs called prolegs.
Have your child draw a caterpillar in his nature journal. Label the parts on the drawing, and see if you can point on the parts when they see a real caterpillar in person.
Of course, reading books is a must any time that you want to study a topic in depth. You can tailor this section to your child's reading abilities, but most caterpillar books aren't too advanced. If you have toddlers at home, you can pick up some board books on caterpillars as well.
Perhaps the best activities to learn about caterpillars is to hatch one at home. You can purchase kits online with everything you need, giving you and your children a birdseye view on the transformation.
Older kids can use a graph to chart your caterpillar's growth until it hatches into a butterfly. Growth is slow, so they'll see how much time and energy is spent during this developmental stage.
Each day, your kids can check to see if there are any changes, and, hopefully, they'll get to see the hatching happen live. It's an awesome thing to watch. Kids of all ages find it fascinating as well as adults.
Try to Find Them in the Wild
Now, head outside and see if you can find caterpillars in the wild. Make it a scavenger hunt with your kids to see who can find the first caterpillar. Check your backyard and take a nature walk.
Once you find a caterpillar in nature, take pictures of it and have your kids draw it in their nature journals.
Unit studies are a popular homeschool method that is hands-on and usually literature-based. It can be used for all scholastic subjects, and you can gather all the subjects through the study of one topic. Unit studies allow you to teach different ages the same topic at different levels, so it's a great choice for families who want to teach their kids the same topic at the same time.
What Are Unit Studies?
Unit studies are an overview or study of a defined topic or theme that involves multiple subject areas into the study plan. This study of homeschooling is often called thematic units, and the parent uses multisensory learning when possible.
An example would be a unit study on airplanes. Students might study the evolution of airplanes (history), why airplanes work (science), read books about airplanes (reading), learn how to build a model airplane (math), and write a paragraph on his favorite airplane (writing).
The Benefits of Using Unit Studies
Parents often use unit studies as a way to dive into topics that the children are interested in learning more. The student gain mastery of these topics by exploring the subject from different angles. Children retain more knowledge with this method.
For years, unit studies were used in traditional schools, and homeschooling families began to adopt this method as well. Families note that using unit studies allow them to keep all of their kids engaged in learning and that their children find learning much more interesting.
Unit studies work well for many situations, such as:
Families who have multiple aged children.
Kids on the autism spectrum.
Parents who want to make their own curriculum
Those who want to homeschool on a low budget.
Anyone who wants to try a different style of learning!
Pros and Cons of Unit Studies
Unit studies can replace some or all of your regular subjects. You might decide to use unit studies on a short term basis to give everyone a break, or it might be how you plan to spend your entire year.
Here are some pros and cons that homeschoolers notice with unit studies.
Unit studies are hands-on and interactive.
They work for all learning styles.
You can work with your child's interest.
This approach is inexpensive because you can use information online, at the library, or anywhere.
Once the topic is done, you can move to the next topic.
There is no time limit to be spent on each study.
Unit studies are planning intensive. Parents need to put a lot of time into planning the studies.
Depending on the topic, it can be hard to fit all the subjects in the unit.
Tips to Create Your Own Unit Studies
Interested in organizing your own unit studies for your homeschool curriculum? Here are some helpful tips.
Spend more time planning the study. Make sure you have all of your resources and materials gathered ahead of time. It makes all of the lessons go smoother.
Pick some goals you want for each study. What do you want your children to learn and remember the most from this unit study?
Create a basic outline for each day and what you would like to accomplish. Remember, homeschooling allows for flexibility, so don't be upset if you don't follow the outline perfectly.
Check Pinterest for some ideas!
Look for ways to incorporate subjects. Are there any fun science projects that would go with the study? Look for field trips that would go with the unit.
Be ready to go down some rabbit holes and spend more time exploring the topic if your child loves it.
Earth Day is a day to celebrate the health and future of our planet. We should celebrate nature and talk about how we all can do our part to make this a sustainable place to live.
While you should work towards this goal all the time, Earth Day is a particularly great day to try a few activities to encourage this idea. Here are some you can try!
Clean Up Your Road
Head out with your kids and pick up trash along your road. Make sure your child wears some heavy-duty gloves. This activity embodies Earth Day and shows our kids that taking care of our world matters.
You might be surprised by how many trash items you find on your road. If your kids are interested, try to gather other members in your neighborhood to pitch in and help clean up as well. Take pride in your neighborhood and save the Earth.
Start a Recycling Area in Your Home
If you don't recycle, now is the time to start. Get your kids involved and start recycling in your home. Pick an area to place a few bins and show your children how to sort the recyclable items.
Check to see if you have a recycling center in your town that offers tours. Some recycling facilities will speak to kids about the importance of recycling. They can show your child how the process works and what happens with the items.
Plant a Tree
Trees are one of the most important parts of our Earth. Without trees, we wouldn't have clean air, habitats for homes, and so much more. Planting a tree helps to add to the health and wellness of the Earth.
Now is a great time to talk to your kids about deforestation and how it contributes to greenhouse gases. Did you know 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation?
Come Up With a Plan to Decrease Waste
Kids can create the best plans when they put their mind to a task. So, come up with a plan to decrease waste in your home with your kids.
That might be creating a compost in your backyard to help with kitchen scraps. Your family might decide to ditch plastic bags for good or purchase reusable water bottles to get rid of using the tossable bottles for good.
Ride Bikes for the Day
If you live in the city, try to bike wherever you need to go with your kids or stay home for the day. Explain to your kids that fewer cars on the road are better for our atmosphere due to the fumes vehicles release into the air.
Create a Backyard Oasis for Creatures
Put bird feeders, bird baths, butterfly baths, and more in your backyard. Make your backyard a place that creatures want to go, and they'll be more likely to stick around in the future.
By the middle of April, homeschool parents are anticipating the end of the school year. If you follow the traditional school calendar, summer break is approaching rapidly, and that's an exciting time for kids and parents alike!
The last month can be a make or break month for homeschoolers. It can leave you with an awesome feeling about the school year, or leave you feeling disappointed. Putting effort into your last few weeks of the homeschool year is worth it, and leads to you putting the best foot forward the next year.
It's so tempting to just stop short, but your finish line is RIGHT THERE. I won't lie; a few school years I stopped before our goal because I was tired and felt like I just needed a break. I regretted that choice, and it didn't leave a good impression with my kids either.
Do whatever you have to do to keep going. Plug in some more field trips. The weather is nicer now anyway than in the winter months. Try more outdoor learning. My kids love to go outside for readings. Listen to extra audiobooks and watch a few more documentaries. Just keep going!
Plan a Fun End of the Year Celebration
Planning something fun for the end of the year gives you something else to work towards. Do something fun to celebrate the end of your homeschool year! Throw a party and invite your family members over, or have a bonfire with fellow homeschool friends. We throw a large homeschool party for all of my local friends to celebrate!
Evaluate the Year
The best time to evaluate the year is when everything is still fresh in your mind. Think about what you thought of your curriculum. Did you like it or do you want to try something different? Have your kids found some new interest that they might enjoy learning more about next year?
Don't discount asking your children for their opinions. They might be kids, but their opinion matters when it comes to their education. Happy kids are more willing to learn alongside their parents.
Do Some Bookkeeping
Throughout the year, it can be easy to lose track of where you are in each subject and what was accomplished. Now is the time to update those books and records! Some things you might want to record include:
Subjects for each child
Grades, tests, and projects for each child
Books read or listened to throughout the year
Embrace the Break
As a homeschooling mom, I've found that I'm used to being busy. Summer break can be challenging because you're accustomed to the busyness throughout the year.
Embrace your break and relax - seriously! Take the available time to work on the hobbies that you love. Soak up all the extra time and invest in yourself as well as your family. Take a vacation and enjoy the summertime!
Plan for Next Year
Trust me, don't wait for the few weeks before school is supposed to start to plan. It'll cause you to be stressed In the weeks leading up to the school year.
Instead, take the summer to plan out your homeschool year. Research curriculum, set a general plan, pick some field trips, and pick goals for the year. Starting off the school year fresh with new goals and a good plan makes a huge difference!
Are you wondering what chapter book series would be great for your 8 to 10-year-old? These kids are typically in 3rd and 4th grade. They're gaining more independence and can read more extended and more complex stories. It's this time when the world of literature starts to open more for your child, giving way more options than before.
I love book series because kids watch the development of the characters and storylines. They can become more invested in the stories and the characters' lives.
Here are some excellent chapter book series for 8 to 10-year-olds!
If your kids like a good mystery, The 39 Clues is an excellent 11 book adventure series. The storyline follows Dan and Amy, two orphaned siblings, who are on a journey to collect 39 clues that will let them create the most powerful person on Earth. As the story unfolds, they learn about their family.
Depending on your child's reading level, he may be able to read the Chronicles of Narnia. It is a seven fantasy novel series that's considered to be a classic and must-read series. Narnia is set in a magical world where there are mythical beasts that talk and ordinary children. It showcases good versus evil.
Every kid this age loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid. It's like a rite of passage for kids to read this series. It is a series of 12 fictional books about a boy. However, they're for all kids not just boys. The books are hilarious, and they'll keep your child interested.
The Baby-Sitter's Club by Ann M. Martin
If you can get your hands on the classic Baby-Sitter's Club books from the late 1980s and early 1990s, you'll have a gem for your 10-year-old daughter and upward. The series has 78 books in total - WOW - and might be considered dated, but it's great
The story follows a group of close girls from a small town in Connecticut. They decide to open a babysitting business, and the books follow the successes and hardships that they face.
All kids, boys and girls, need to read this American classic that features nine books. The stories follow a young girl and her family as they move westward. Your child will get some insight into what a frontier family's lifestyle. While some of the observations might be deemed racist, it is historically accurate.
Does your child love to laugh? A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the three Baudelaire walfs, and they have some serious bad luck. It's a 13 book series, as the main characters endure relentless misfortune at the ends of their uncle, Count Olaf. The author's sense of humor keeps the book series going.
Spring is one of my favorite learning times, as the world comes alive again. Flowers bloom, trees develop leaves, and birds start to sing more. It's a great time to teach your kids about trees and their life cycle.
Every spring, my kids and I spend time focusing on the rebirth of the trees after a dormant winter. We learn about why trees go dormant in the winter, how leaves develop, and the photosynthesis process.
Some of this may be too advanced for your children, depending on their ages. You can adapt almost all lessons for your kids. Here are a few ways to teach your kids about trees that almost all ages enjoy.
Read Books about Trees
One of the first things you should do is grab a few books about trees. I like to have a guide that helps us identify trees when we're on a nature walk. Then, I gather books about the tree life cycle and parts of the tree. It's great to provide a general overview with books for your kids.
Starting a nature journal is a great project for the springtime because everything is coming back to life. There is so much to document!
Look for tree branches in your yard or along your nature walk that is full of buds about to blossom into leaves. Take a picture or sit down where you are and have your children draw what they see! Look at the small details. Don't forget to get a nature journal for yourself and document with your kids.
Do Leaf Rubbings
Kids of all ages love leaf rubbings. They're simple and a versatile project that keeps children occupied.
All you have to do is get some plain paper, a variety of leaves, and crayons or pastels. Put the leaves under the plain paper and rub the crayon or pastel over the leaf. The details will show up, and little kids love to do this! bn
Look at the Trunk
The trunk is one of the most important parts of the tree, so why not investigate it? If you have access, look for a cut trunk that shows the rings inside. Count the rings! Show and label the parts of the trunk
Another project is to draw the inside of a tree trunk in your nature journal. Make sure your child labels the parts of the trunk. He can also make a hands-on diagram with construction paper!
Make Leaf Identification Cards
If you have a laminator, you can make your own leaf identification cards. First, make cards with the tree name, leaving plenty of space below that to put the leaf.
Then, go on a leaf hunt! Once you find the leaf you want, put the card you made and the leaf into the laminator pouch. It will seal it shut, creating your own identification cards! Such a simple, yet enjoyable, project.
Homeschooling is the fastest growing educator sector in the United States. As more parents find themselves displeased with the local school districts, more are turning to homeschool, and that might include you!
Years ago, I faced the decision to homeschool my children or send them to school. It was a decision I debated for hours and days, long into the night, wondering if my choices were the right one. Now, years later, I know my choice was the right one.
You might be interested in homeschooling and wonder how to get started homeschooling your kids. So, I broke it down into a few simple steps. Each step might require you to do a few things, but it's easier than you might imagine!
Make the Decision to Homeschool
The hardest step is making the actual decision to homeschool. If your children are already in school, this step can be even harder because you know it will be an adjustment for your children.
Think about why you're interested in homeschooling. Here are a few reasons that homeschooling might be a good choice for you.
You want more family time, whether due to a strange work schedule or pressure from outside activities.
You want religious schooling for your children.
The local school districts don't meet your standards or receive low scoring from the state.
Your child is gifted and needs faster-paced learning to help keep him interested.
Your child is a slower learner and needs the steps to be broken down further for true comprehension.
Any reason can be a reason to homeschool. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself and your children that homeschooling is the right choice.
Remember - homeschooling is not a final decision. I often tell new homeschooling families this. Yes, it's a big decision and should not be taken lightly. It's also not a permanent choice, and you're more than welcome to put your child back in public school at another time.
Look at Your State's Laws
Each state has different laws. Some don't require notifications before you homeschool. I live in Ohio, and Ohio requires parents to notify the school district in which they reside of their intentions to homeschool once the child is 6 years old.
States also might require testing or a portfolio review after each school year. Make sure to check your state's requirements so you can be fully prepared for the year.
Now, it's time to pick your curriculum! This is the second hardest step. You're going to debate for hours and agonize over your selection for math and science. You'll wonder if they'll be good enough and if your child will like them.
Just like your decision to homeschool, the curriculum can be changed if you dislike it. I've changed curriculum in the middle of the year because I disliked it. Remember, the curriculum doesn't make or break your homeschool. Your attitude and desire to educate your children can overcome any curriculum.
Notify the School District, If Required
After you have your curriculum selected, it's time to notify the school district. Most states require that you notify the school district in which you live, not what your children attend. If you're unsure, look into investing in membership in the HSLDA. They can help you understand how to notify, and the HSLDA offers samples to use for notification.
In a few weeks, you'll receive an acceptance letter from the district stating that they received all of the needed information and that you're free to start homeschooling.
Homeschooling needs to be fun and enjoyable. How you treat your homeschooling and children will be a huge difference in the success and enjoyment. Play games, read a lot of books, take field trips, and focus on encouraging your child to love learning. A child who loves to learn will be successful.
Every child loves LEGOs; it's like part of their genetic makeup. LEGOs are more useful than you might imagine, and many parents and teachers find that they can use LEGOs to further their child's math skills.
LEGOs get a terrible reputation from parents - have you ever stepped on one? It's like stepping on a small needle or several needles at one time. You're pretty sure that the LEGO penetrated your flesh, but they are also a hands-on math resource that you probably already have available to you.
We often forget that some of our best math resources are right in front of us, and it makes sense. Math is life; math is the world around us. Why not use things in our every day lives to help children see that math isn't just some problems on paper? Math is real life, all the time.
So, if you want to help your kids explore math concepts with one of their favorite toys, here are a few ideas to get you started!
1. Teaching Fractions
Teaching fractions seem quite abstract to a child - what in the world is 4/5 of a pie? Using LEGOs helps your child understand a difficult concept, especially abstract concepts. You can use legos to build fractions and show them how to add fractions as well.
Believe it or not, LEGO created their math program for grades 1 and 3, and it is a hands-on math curriculum with guided lessons, student worksheets and more. The lessons come with ideas to ensure all of the students' learning styles are met. LEGO also included ways for advanced learning with each teaching. Pretty cool, right?
3. Understanding Multiplication
Helping your child understand multiplication groups just got a bit easier! One LEGO represents a group. Then, the student counts the studs on each LEGO to figure out the equation.
So, for example, if you grab three LEGO bricks each with four studs (that's three groups of four), it is 3 x 4. Then, they can solve the problem - 3 x 4 = 12.
4. Teaching Mean, Median, and Range
If you have a baggie of LEGO bricks of different sizes, you can teach your students how to understand mean, median, mode, and range.
For example, the students can sort the bricks based on the number of studs on each one. Then, they can figure out the total number of studs for the group total. After that, they can figure out the mean, median, mode and range.
It makes total sense to use LEGOs to understand geometry since you use them to build shapes and projects already. Now, LEGO doesn't create a brick for each geometric shape and topic, so you will have to supplement a bit to make this work.
6. Basic Counting
Let's not forget the most straightforward way that you can use LEGOs for math - counting. It's an easy item for your child to count. Later, you can use LEGOs to build and create different patterns based on color or number of studs.
7. Ready-Made Array
Instead of drawing arrays or modeling how to skip count with arrays, use LEGOs! Your student can work to understand the building block of multiplication and how it works.
Keep a bunch of LEGO pieces when you're working on multiplication lessons. You can use them also help reinforce the idea of area model, square numbers, and the commutative property of multiplication.
As spring approaches, you might be interested in some spring learning themes, and one of our favorite spring learning is about bees. Most kids have a healthy respect for bees because they know that they can sting them. We need to teach kids that they can respect and appreciate bees as well.
Here are a few things you can do with your kids to learn about bees.
The first thing that you can do is get some books that are geared for kids about bees. Most libraries have a good selection of books on bees and honey. Learning about bees is important, and books give your child plenty of background information.
It's time to look about a busy bee and everything that bees do during the day. The kids learn about these awesome insects. This book is a level 2 reader, so it's a better pick for older kids than the first choice.
A Honeyed History is part science and part history. This book celebrates the role that these important insects play in the ecosystem throughout the ages. Bees have played a part in history since Ancient times. Bees explores different methods of beekeeping as well.
Does your child have questions about bees? This is a detailed text with beautiful illustrations. A Honeyed History offers information about a bees' life cycle, social organization, how bees make honey, and what a beekeeper does.
Visiting a Local Honey Bee Farm
Taking kids to a honey farm is a great idea. It gives your child a firsthand look at the honey production. Ask around to see if you can find a honey farm or local beekeepers in your area. Some give tours for children.
One of the best ways for kids to learn is by seeing things up close. Kids can see how bees interact with each other and their movements. Certain beekeepers have displays that are like windows into a beehive.
Try Different Honey
Kids love to eat. Honey has different flavors based on the nectar and what type of flowers that bees sourced. See if you can find some local honey from different beekeepers, then buy some honey from the store.
Make a Home for Bees in Your Garden
You can create a bee and pollinator garden with your kids. Put in some plants that bees love to attract them to your garden. You can create a bee house for solitary bees.
This is a great way for your kids to get outside and watch bees in nature. Kids can watch the movements of bees, how they move from plant to plant.
Learning about Bees is Fun
Learning about bees is a fun thing! Bees are interesting, and you spend two weeks or more learning about them. Springtime is a great time for learning about them, and your kids will find this theme entertaining and educational.