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Educational Opportunities at Epcot for Homeschoolers is made possible by OrlandoFunTickets.com, a trusted resource for discount Disney World tickets.

As a homeschooling family, you know that learning doesn’t stop because the text books are put away. We seek out opportunities for our children to learn every day; whether it be a life skill like getting the oil changed in your car or reinforcing what you’ve been studying by pointing out real-life correlations. There’s no reason for learning to stop when you’re on vacation either.

Ok, don’t throw the rotten tomatoes at me! I’m not talking about dragging your encyclopedia with you or having the kids do worksheets every night before bed. What I am suggesting is that there are many opportunities for your children to learn new things while on vacation, if you just look for them.

Disney World is widely considered the most popular family vacation destination and for homeschooler with kids at Walt Disney World there are a multitude of opportunities to teach. Every Park has its educational points as Disney heritage involves as much about education as it is about entertaining.

You can bring your kids into the planning process of your vacation. Depending on how old they are, you can ask them to research and compare flights, create a route using Google maps, help plan and prepare snacks or entertainment or ask high schoolers to keep track of the budget.

A quick real-life economics activity would be have your older students help allocate the budget for entertainment and tickets. Have them research the various ticket options on the Disney World website and compare the to OrlandoFunTickets.com. (spoiler alert: if you’re planning on spending three or more days in the parks, get them in advance online. The savings really add up!)

Once you get to the parks, the educational opportunities present themselves, if you’re keeping an eye out for them.

Educational Opportunities at Epcot for Homeschoolers

The very basis of Disneyland was how facts and fantasy combine to bring about the potential realities of tomorrow. There is no better place to find this philosophy in action than Epcot. Educational opportunities at Epcot are part of the nucleus of the entire theme park.

Epcot Education

Walt Disney established the groundwork for Walt Disney World by creating his own municipality. It was based on his optimistic view of the future. His desire was to apply his philosophy of optimal behaviorism to his growing mastery of urban design. In so doing, he would create a new kind of prototypical city that would lead the way for the rest of the country. Various aspects of his unique vision tease us from around Walt Disney World; but when Epcot was created it pointed to many of those ideals. At the same time it celebrated Walt Disney’s experience with world’s fairs.

The resulting park is a permanent world’s fair that is subject to change as new possibilities immerse for our future. World showcase connects us to various cultures and Future World teaches young and old alike. Educational elements have been laced throughout even Epcot’s most thrilling adventures. For kids, there is much to explore and discover.

Invention and Discovery Chart

Though there is no official name (some call them science discs or science circles) and most people pass right over it without a thought, this chart is an incredible educational tool. This chart is part of the ground you walk on as you exit the breezeway on your path to the attractions of Future World West. Although three pavilions lie ahead, you should stop to observe this fascinating chart. One of the best educational opportunities at Epcot, it chronicles inventions and discoveries throughout recorded time. Each disc in the floor includes an important scientific event. These events include the year, the inventor/discoverer, the country and the era in which this took place. You could even take pictures of each one and turn them into flash cards.

Educational Attractions at Epcot for Homeschoolers Educational Rides at Epcot

Living with the Land is one of the most educational attractions in Epcot, because it gives a brief history of ecosystems and then a tour of agricultural techniques. The attraction emphasis the science behind growing food and the ways we can responsibly cultivate the land to create more food with fewer resources and less strain on the environment.

Spaceship Earth is the most straightforward educational attraction. It’s pure purpose is to teach guests about the history of communication. What an amazing story this is! It sweeps you through the ages from cave paintings to the internet using three dimensional tableaus to illustrate each new development in history. The finale of the ride offers an optimistic glimpse of the future based on the interests of each set of riders.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends may seem like it lacks substance, but beyond the fun characters and the entertainment, there is real education to be had at this aquarium. observe manatees, dolphins, sharks and more as you explore a simulation sea base. Special tours are available at an extra cost that include swimming in the giant tank for SCUBA and non SCUBA certified guests.

Educational Shows at Epcot

Reflections of China is a circle vision film in the China Pavilion at the World Showcase. This 360 presentation provides stunning and poetic imagery that displays remnants of the ancient past and the modern cityscapes that reflect their origins.

The American Adventure is an impressive show that presents the history of the United States in  a nutshell. Told from the perspectives of Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin this moving and educational show features an impressive use of sets and audio animatronics that rivals any classic Disney attraction.

Impressions de France is a film that provides an overview of the diverse regions of France and what it must be like to live there. It’s a treat for the eyes and a more casual presentation, but it shares much about French Culture just off of the impressions the film gives.

O Canada is another circle vision film. The aim of this production is to open your eyes to the wonder and diversity of Canadian geography and culture. Martin Short gives an engaging tour of all that Canada has to offer.

Educational Galleries and Exhibits at Epcot

Norway has an exhibit inside of the Stare Church midway through the pavilion. It’s a small gallery that features Norse mythology. Dioramas depict Norwegian gods in scenes from the myths, illustrating some of the stories found in the gallery.

America has a gallery dedicated to the art of Native Americans. This is a gallery inside the main show building next to the lobby. It’s an ideal way to make use of your time before the theater opens up for the next performance.

Morocco has yet another gallery. This one is easy to pass because the small building has closed doors and very little signage. Inside is an exhibit on the art of adornment, featuring various dress and accessories for Moroccan rituals, customs and traditions.

These are just some of the many educational opportunities to explore in Epcot. Disney World isn’t the only place to find educational opportunities while on vacation. If you’re looking for it, you can find educational value almost anywhere.  Do you know of any secrets or tips that I left out? Share them in the comments below and tell me what you would like to know about next!

This post was made possible by OrlandoFunTickets.

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The post Educational Opportunities at Epcot for Homeschoolers appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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This free Robotics lesson plan is made possible by hoopla digital, one of my favorite STEAM unit study resources. Please consider expressing your thanks to hoopla digital on Twitter or Facebook. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

To utilize time well in the homeschool classroom, I often try to integrate different curricular areas into my lessons. That’s why I love using STEAM lessons! STEAM lessons incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math to help your child receive a well-rounded education and develop their strengths. STEAM is also about incorporating futuristic ideas and design thinking. Your child is developing skills that will help them in the future. They may enter a career that doesn’t exist yet. The world of robotics is making so many things possible!

Here’s a robotics STEAM lesson plan to try with your student!

Robotics STEAM Lesson Plan

Lesson: Robotics

Grade Level(s): 7-9

Robotics STEAM Lesson Plan Introduction:

One of the strongest movements in the STEAM field is robotics. Allow your child to research innovative designs made possible because of advancements in the field of robotics. Career fields involving robotics are definite opportunities for young learners as they enter the future work world. For starters, students can learn to create their own robots with helpful STEAM resources found on hoopla digital.

This lesson begins with a video, ”What Will the Future Be Like?”. Then, your child will spend time researching careers in robotics with an engaging text book, Robotics Careers. Finally, your student will create a robot with simple materials you can find at home. The lesson should take about 5-6 hours to complete.

Robotics STEAM Lesson Plan Materials: Robotics STEAM Lesson Plan Procedure:


Watch ”What Will the Future Be Like?” PBS video. The approximately hour-long video, released in 2013, has some futuristic inventions that may be close to reality in 2019. Use this video to discuss what robotics has done to innovate education and the work world. What jobs could be replaced by robots? What does that mean for your child as they look for future-ready careers? What innovations are they the most excited about? What ideas would they create to help the future of communication, education, medicine and more?


Now that your child has explored the future with robotics and other innovative tools, have them look into careers related to robotics. Even though some careers are becoming obsolete because of robots, the future with robots is responsible for creating many jobs that don’t even exist yet! Have your child research Robotics Careers through the book of the same name. Your student may also choose to use reputable websites and reach out to engineers, computer scientists, and others in the field of robotics. Have your child fill out the graphic organizer as they explore the different occupations in the robotics field.


It’s time to create! After exploring futuristic ideas and careers, let your learner make their own robot from projects in Robotify It! Robots You Can Make Yourself. Make a bouncy solar bugbot with the directions on pages 10-13 in the book. Although the text is also appropriate for elementary students, middle level students will enjoy creating these unique robots with objects found at home. Your homeschooler will love this hands-on, engaging activity. Explore other robot creations in the book as well.

Materials Needed:

  • Book, Robotify It! Robots You Can Make Yourself
  • plastic lids or bowls
  • paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • craft foam
  • pushpin
  • ruler
  • solar cell with wires
  • double-stick adhesive foam
  • needle-nose pliers
  • three paper clips
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • wire stripper
  • vibrating DC motor with wires
  • electrical tape
  • clear tape
  • googly eyes
  • chenille stems
  • pom poms

Follow the simple procedure on pages 10-13 to make a robotic bug powered by sunlight in 13 easy steps.

This lesson plan gives your child an opportunity to research through video, nonfiction text, and hands-on learning. Give it a try in your classroom for your next STEAM integrated unit!

This free Robotics STEAM Lesson Plan is brought to you by hoopla digital.

hoopla digital is a category-creating service that partners with public libraries across North America to provide online and mobile access to thousands of movies, television, music, eBooks, audiobooks and comics. With hoopla digital, patrons can borrow, instantly stream, and download dynamic content with a valid library card. All content is accessible via hoopla digital’s mobile app and online at www.hoopladigital.com. hoopla digital is a service of Midwest Tape – a trusted partner to public libraries for nearly 30 years
For more information about the company, visit: https://www.hoopladigital.com/about.
Please consider expressing your thanks to them on Twitter or Facebook.

The post Free Robotics STEAM Lesson Plan appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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What to Teach When Homeschooling Eight Grade is part of our “What to Teach” series. Click here to learn what to teach for other grades. For even more details, check out the Year-by-Year Teaching Guide for Homeschoolers.

Eighth grade builds on knowledge and skills gained in seventh grade while exposing children to increasingly more complex topics. This year should also help prepare your child for more rigorous work in high school. Here’s a simple guide for what to cover and develop in eighth grade.

What to Teach When Homeschooling Eighth Grade Eighth Grade Language Arts

Among the topics your child should study in eighth grade are passive and active voice verbs, verb moods, and informal versus formal English. During this year, your child should demonstrate the ability to read and spell at grade level. Your eighth grader should also learn to use variations in sentence types, styles, and patterns to make a written passage more interesting, increase grade level vocabulary, and use new words appropriately.

Eighth Grade Writing

Among the things your child should focus on in eighth grade are producing written passages, projects, and reports that present clear reasoning and arguments across a variety of subjects. Your child should also demonstrate the ability to support arguments, opinions, and statements in written passages and use feedback and the editing, revising, and rewriting processes to improve writing.

Eighth Grade Math

Among the topics your child should focus on in eighth grade are decimal expansion of rational numbers, number lines, radicals, and fractional exponents. Your eighth grader should also learn and apply concepts related to linear equations, functions, and angles. During eighth grade, your child should also learn to apply the Pythagorean Theorem to math problems and calculate the volume and surface area of cylinders, cones, spheres, and pyramids.

Eighth Grade History

Among the topics your child should study in the eighth grade are the exploration of the Americas and the first Americans, colonial life in America, and the Mayflower Compact. Your eighth grader should also explore the American Revolution, study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and examine the early government of the United States.

Eighth Grade Science

Among the topics your child should study in the eighth grade are development and reproduction of plants and animals, cell division, and growth. Your eighth grader should also study genes, gene mutations, genetic diseases and genetic engineering. This year should also include study of natural selection, adaptation, and diversity.

Eighth Grade Health

Among the topics your child should study in the eighth grade are the importance of taking personal responsibility for one’s health and the characteristics of physical, mental, and social health. Your child should also explore social pressures, eating disorders, puberty, sexual behavior, and healthy relationships.

Eighth Grade Art

Eighth graders continue creating and exploring art using different mediums and tools. They may also view art, learn about famous artists, and observe art in its various forms.

For more details on what to teach when homeschooling eighth grade and the other 13 grades, check out our Year-by-Year Teaching Guide for Homeschoolers.

The post What to Teach When Homeschooling Eighth Grade appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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This Free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers is made possible by hoopla digital, one of my favorite STEAM unit study resources. Please consider expressing your thanks on Twitter or Facebook. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to allow your children to explore their passions. It’s not taking a break to build an app, learn about weather affecting your community, or read about planets and galaxies. All of the exploration your children encounter through reading, writing, watching videos, and creating relate to your homeschooling curriculum and goals, whether you are focused on a traditional curriculum or child-lead learning.

That’s why STEAM lesson plans are so valuable for homeschoolers at any grade level. The integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math allow for limitless opportunities for learning.

The last several weeks have brought incredible weather phenomena to various parts of the country. The Midwest is suffering from devastating floods after record breaking snowfall, for example. Spring and summer bring thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. A weather unit is such an exciting thing to study within STEAM!

One weather element that can be a bit confusing is humidity. There are so many fun experiments and resources to discover on the concept. Here’s a Free Humidity Lesson Plan to try with your student!

Free Humidity Lesson Plan for Homeschoolers

Lesson: What is Humidity?

Grade Level(s): 5-8

Learning Resource:
The Science of Extreme Weather (video)

Find it on hoopla digital
Find it on Amazon

What Are the Elements of Weather? by Joanne Randolph and Kathy Campbell

Find it on hoopla digital
Find it on Amazon


This lesson will begin with a video from the series, The Science of Extreme Weather (30 minutes) and will include a review of humidity (absolute and relative humidity) and states of matter which should take around 30 additional minutes. The experiment should take approximately 30 minutes to complete, review and discuss the results. Plan approximately 1.5-2 hours to complete the lesson.

You’ll want to grab the free printable graphic organizer and chart to complete the activity.


  • Clean empty paper cup (not Styrofoam)
  • Water
  • Two small thermometers
  • Cotton balls
  • String
  • Clear Tape
  • Book: What are the Elements of Weather?
  • Humidity Graphic Organizer
  • Relative Humidity Chart
  • Video: The Science of Extreme Weather, Episode 4: Extreme Humidity, Rain, and FogProcedure:

Watch The Science of Extreme Weather, Episode 4: Extreme Humidity, Rain, and Fog to give an overview of the energy in a thunderstorm that brings these elements.


Review pages 12-13 in What are the Elements of Weather? and discuss humidity, states of matter, relative humidity, and absolute humidity.

When someone is talking about it being muggy or a dry heat, what they are really talking about is humidity.

Humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air.

To understand humidity, you need to know that water can be a liquid (like rain), solid (like ice) or a gas. Gas isn’t usually seen, but you can imagine it like steam from a shower or from boiling water.

You might have already learned about them if you’ve already learned about the states of matter. If not, here’s a quick explanation:

Everything on Earth is made of molecules. Molecules are very, very, tiny. So tiny that you need a very special microscope to see them.

When molecules are really, really, really close together, it makes things that are solid. When molecules are just kind of close together, it makes things that are liquid. When molecules are very far away from each other, it makes things that are gasses.

Remember how it can feel muggy outside? When it’s muggy, you feel kind of wet, even though it’s not raining. That’s because there is water in the air, but the water isn’t liquid. The water molecules are very far apart, so it’s a gas that you can’t see. That’s when the humidity is high.

Sometimes, there is very little water vapor in the air and it feels dry. That’s when the humidity is low.

You know that humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. When you hear weather forecasters talk about humidity, you might hear them use the terms “relative humidity” and “absolute humidity.” When we talk about how muggy or damp it is, we’re talking about absolute humidity. But, did you know that the humidity can actually affect how the temperature of the air feels on our skin?

Absolute humidity is telling us exactly how much moisture is in the air.
Weather forecasters use a mathematical formula to figure that out.

Relative humidity affects how we feel temperature.


Fill out the Humidity Graphic Organizer to review definitions of humidity, relative humidity, and absolute humidity. Draw a graphic representation of each term. To bring a technological aspect in, your child may choose to use Google Draw or another tech tool to create the images and bring them in.

STEP FOUR: Relative Humidity Experiment

You’ve learned a lot about humidity so far. Let’s have some fun with this experiment to learn more about how humidity affects the temperature.

Materials Needed:

  • Clean empty paper cup (not Styrofoam)
  • Water
  • Two small thermometers
  • Cotton balls
  • String

Clear TapeProcedure:

  1. Turn the cup upside down and punch a small hole in it using a pencil or a pen. You want the hole to be big enough to pull the string through, but not too big.
  2. Cut a piece of string about 24” long.
  3. Tie a big knot at one end of the string and slide the string through the hole so that the knot is inside the cup. Pull it through until the knot stops (don’t pull the knot through the cup).
  4. Tape a cotton ball over the bulb part of one of the thermometers (the rounded part at the bottom) and get the cotton ball wet.
  5. You should have two thermometers; one with a cotton ball and one without.
  6. Tape the thermometers across from each other on the sides of the cup.
  7. Take your cup, a piece of paper and a pencil and go outside.
  8. Holding the loose end of the string close to your waist (the farthest away from the cup), swing the cup around (imagine you are swinging a lasso) for about a minute.
  9. Stop and quickly look at the temperature on each thermometer and write it down.

What did you observe?Did you notice that the thermometer with the wet cotton ball had a lower temperature than the dry thermometer? This is because when the water was evaporating, it was cooling the air around it. If you live in a very dry climate, this happens fast. If you live in a very humid climate, this happens slowly.

That gives you an idea of how relative humidity works. If you want to know what the exact relative humidity is, you can calculate the percentage using the relative humidity chart. If you’d like, you can try this experiment over again on different days, calculate the percentage of relative humidity and keep track of it!

Learning about humidity through reading, watching informative videos, and performing hands-on experiments is one of the ways homeschoolers can use STEAM lessons to bring the power of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math into their school day. This lesson uses the science study of weather, technology tools such as science instruments and video, art to visualize vocabulary words, and math to measure temperature and humidity.

Don’t forget to grab your worksheets for this free humidity lesson plan!

This free Humidity lesson plan is made possible by hoopla digital.

hoopla digital is a category-creating service that partners with public libraries across North America to provide online and mobile access to thousands of movies, television, music, eBooks, audiobooks and comics. With hoopla digital, patrons can borrow, instantly stream, and download dynamic content with a valid library card. All content is accessible via hoopla digital’s mobile app and online at www.hoopladigital.com. hoopla digital is a service of Midwest Tape – a trusted partner to public libraries for nearly 30 years

For more information about the company, visit: https://www.hoopladigital.com/about.
Please consider expressing your thanks to them on Twitter or Facebook.

The post Free Humidity Lesson Plan and Worksheet for Homeschoolers appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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This post is made possible by Typesy.com. Please consider saying “thank you” on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to teach electives such as foreign language, music, art, computer skills and typing. With that flexibility, however, comes the need for resources to help you teach those content areas. We often find ourselves wondering how to teach subjecting you know nothing about when you’re homeschooling.

While we all took math, science, writing, and reading courses as students, some of the exploratory areas are not as familiar to parents trying to give their children authentic homeschooling experiences. Here are some resources to help you learn how to teach subjects you know nothing about.

How to Teach Subjects You Know Nothing About When You’re Homeschooling

The education of homeschooled children isn’t limited to their parents’ expertise or experiences. There’s a wealth of resources for learning and teaching:

Homeschool Foreign Language

Rosetta Stone

One of the most popular software programs to help anyone learn a foreign language also has a huge presence in homeschooling. Learning a foreign language with the online subscription program is incredibly affordable and allows your child to learn at a pace that is comfortable for them and fits into your curriculum. Rosetta Stone’s program teaches language with an immersion program that doesn’t require translation. Learn any of 23 languages including Spanish, French, Chinese (Mandarin), Arabic, and more. The program comes complete with progress reports and monitoring tools to help your child. Rosetta Stone is also a great program for English language learners. Even if you know nothing about teaching or speaking a foreign language, you can use Rosetta Stone in your homeschool.

Homeschooling Parents

Other homeschooling parents in your online or local community have talents and resources to share. If you have a parent who speaks a foreign language, ask them if they would be willing to provide curriculum or teach your child. In exchange, you can help their children learn a special skill. Maybe you are an expert in the kitchen or have a particular artistic skill. Perhaps, you have a musical skill and can help a child learn an instrument. With any area of study, your group of homeschooling parents can be a valuable resource.

Homeschool Music

Music Appreciation

Teaching music isn’t just about reading sheet music or learning how to play an instrument. Exploring different types of music by taking cultural trips to local museum events that showcase local artists in different genres or even attending outdoor festivals. Churches are also great places to listen to instruments and choral music. Teach your children to appreciate a wide array of music by simply exposing them to various genres.


Although there is some questionable content on YouTube, the instructional implications for learning specific skills like playing an instrument are infinite. Everything from beginning guitar and piano lessons to learning how to play the ukulele or the flute is available in video form. Help your child find a safe and reliable channel and explore an instrument they would like to learn.

Homeschool Art

Art Museums

Take a sketchpad or an iPad and step into a local art museum to teach your child about different art styles and classifications. In addition to viewing famous local, national, and international artists, your child can emulate different styles in their notebook or tablet in order to practice their own techniques. By looking at a variety of different art styles, they’ll develop their own. Encourage your child to display their art at home and experiment with different materials.

Pottery Places

Most communities have pottery or ceramic shops where for an affordable price, your child can paint their own creation which is then glazed and fired for them to take home and treasure. Some pottery places may even offer memberships or special rates for homeschoolers. Check local community centers as well for ceramic or pottery classes.

Homeschool Computer Skills


Code.org has taken the K-12 coding world by storm with programs like “The Hour of Code”. You don’t have to code for one hour once a year, however, Lessons are available online to create apps and games using a variety of coding languages including HTML, CSS, and Javascript. It’s all free!


Scratch is a web-based platform from the MIT Media Lab that helps kids create their own animated stories and games. No previous coding knowledge is needed, and kids love to see their creations come to life. This program is also completely free.

Homeschool Typing


Today’s children may be computer literate and tech-savvy but knowing how to use devices does not always mean they are proficient at typing. Keyboarding is an important computer skill that is often overlooked in curriculum even in traditional schools. With Typesy, your children will use the same curriculum available to schools, but you will be able to tailor it to your schedule and children’s needs. Keyboarding and typing skills have vast benefits for your homeschooler. If your state requires computer-based state testing, being able to type can help them with test taking skills. Even more valuable, typing skills help your child be ready for their lives after homeschooling in either college or the workforce. Almost any occupation requires some keyboarding skills. Being able to type quickly and efficiently will help your child complete work and post-secondary schooling assignments with more confidence and clarity.

Another benefit to using Typesy is that it’s fun! These aren’t just standard typing tests. With a personal, real coach to help your child through a game-like typing experience, they will be ready to reach and exceed their typing goals. You’ll receive updates on their progress, and your child will be excited to share their results!

From learning a different language, playing an instrument, creating a work of art, learning to code, and keyboarding like a pro, there are bound to be subjects you know nothing about in your homeschool. Utilizing libraries, homeschooling parents, local resources, pre-packaged curriculum, and amazing online resources like Typesy, your child’s elective homeschooling experience will be rich and well-rounded.

This post is sponsored by Typesy.com. Typesy homeschool program offers the same comprehensive keyboarding curriculum used by top schools nationwide with super-easy setup for homeschool families. Parents get powerful reporting and monitoring tools and kids have fun while learning keyboarding skills. Learn more at Typesy.com.

The post How to Teach Subjects You Know Nothing About When You’re Homeschooling appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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This Free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers is made possible by hoopla digital, one of my favorite STEAM unit study resources. Please consider expressing your thanks on Twitter or Facebook. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

A few weeks ago, I shared with you how I create unit studies and a great resource, hoopla digital, for free eBooks, video and other learning materials. This week, I’ve taken it a step farther. As a continuation of my partnership with hoopla digital, I’m thrilled to have put together an entire unit study that you can download for free!

Free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers

Kids are naturally curious and love to learn about the world around them, especially when they can use their hands to explore.

This Free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers will help your child learn about the eight planets, understand the concept of gravity and the planets’ orbit around the sun. Packed with hands-on activities, these lesson plans are designed to keep children engaged throughout the study.

Planets Unit Study  Objectives: Learn the eight planets in our solar system, know one special characteristic of each; understand gravity and how the planets orbit the sun.

This study of the planets is comprised of five lessons and activities, appropriate for second, third and fourth grades. You can complete the unit around your current curriculum and schedule; whether you want to complete all activity in one day, do one lesson a day or one lesson a week, it’s up to you. Follow the lessons in order for a complete unit study, or pick one if you’re supplementing your current curriculum.

This Planets Unit Study can be completed at home or as part of a group, such as a co-op or scout troop. The resource materials (books and video) are available for free, with a valid library card, through hoopla digital. Materials needed for the activities are low cost, everyday items; most of which you probably already have in your home.

If you’d like to extend your study of the planets, or incorporate other subjects to make it a comprehensive theme unit, be sure to check out the list of additional resources at the end of this book. You can also visit our Homeschool Astronomy Resources board on Pinterest.

Sample Pages: Free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers This free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers is made possible by hoopla digital

hoopla digital is a category-creating service that partners with public libraries across North America to provide online and mobile access to thousands of movies, television, music, eBooks, audiobooks and comics. With hoopla digital, patrons can borrow, instantly stream, and download dynamic content with a valid library card. All content is accessible via hoopla digital’s mobile app and online at www.hoopladigital.com. hoopla digital is a service of Midwest Tape – a trusted partner to public libraries for nearly 30 years

For more information about the company, visit: https://www.hoopladigital.com/about.

Please consider expressing your thanks to them on Twitter or Facebook.

Download your Free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers

The post Free Planets Unit Study for Homeschoolers: STEAM Education appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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A lot of homeschool parents will admit math was not their favorite subject in high school. Even if it wasn’t the best part of your day in school, you have to admit, now that you’re all grown up, you see how important it is and how it plays a role in your every day life – and not just because you have to teach it to your kids. Making math meaningful for teens might seem like an impossible dream but I promise it’s easier than you think.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in occupations related to STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022. That’s an increase of about 1 million jobs over 2012 employment levels! Clearly it’s easy to see that today’s middle and high school students will need a strong math background to be competitive in the job market tomorrow.

Spending time with teens to make math relevant to them now can help them build strong math competencies to achieve success later. So how can parents engage their teens in math-focused activities that both can enjoy?

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Practical Homeschool Advice

Here are tips to help you capture your teen’s interest and make math meaningful in many ways, through encouragement, entertainment and empowerment.

Related: How to Create a STEAM Focused Unit Study

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Make It Real

This first tip isn’t difficult to do. It’s really a matter of identifying learning opportunities every day. Leading by example is the most powerful thing you can do.  Showing how math is used everyday can help teens understand its importance to their every day lives outside of school work. Are you cooking dinner tonight? Have your teen measure out the ingredients and ask questions on measurements if a recipe was doubled. Need to pay the bills? Have them do the math to calculate balances and budgets. Ready to purchase your teen’s first car? Sit down with him or her to figure out financing, insurance rates, monthly gas expenses and maintenance costs.

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Turn On The Television

Woa! Did I just tell you to watch television? Yes, yes I did. Use examples from TV and movies to show how math can be entertaining and exciting. One program that mixes entertainment with education is the CBS hit series “NUMB3RS,” in which FBI agent Don Eppes recruits his mathematical genius brother Charlie to help the Bureau solve a wide range of challenging crimes in Los Angeles.  Order a pizza and binge the show on Amazon (bonus: it’s available free for Amazon Prime members!) and talk about how match helped solved the crimes. If you want to take it to another level, you can access completely free lesson plans correlating with each episode, developed by Cornell University.

You don’t need programming with such an obvious connection. You can find math in a variety of television shows. For example, you can watch World of Dance (my current obsession) to practice figuring averages, since that’s how the final score for the dancers are calculated. Again, it’s just a matter of finding the opportunities.

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Take A Trip

You probably already schedule field trips for science, history and art, so why not be on the look out for math opportunities as well? Many popular tourist attractions also help stimulate young minds. When traveling on a family vacation or simply exploring the sights in your own town, visit math and science exhibits in museums, learning centers, colleges or zoos to show how math relates to teens’ interests and hobbies.

You can ask your teen to create the day’s agenda, calculate the shortest walking or driving routes to visit the attractions, or figure out currency exchange rates (if you’re lucky enough to be taking the trip to Europe you’ve been dreaming about!).

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Test The “Truth”

Balancing a checkbook is one practical math application but you can also show your teen how math is used in analytical and critical thinking too. Showing teens how to challenge what they are told by analyzing facts and figures in the media and on the Internet will teach them to test statements and think beyond conventional wisdom. Go through the newspaper or online news sites and discuss articles or current issues of interest to your teen. Challenge them to re-create the statistics used to support each side of a debate, or to double-check the charts and graphs for accuracy. Just because something is in print or on the internet, doesn’t make it true.

Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Look to the Future

Nothing helps motivate teens more than getting what they want. During the middle and high school years, many teens are thinking about their future and their careers. As they are considering different professions and occupations, show them how math is used in each one. Even if your teen isn’t thinking about becoming an accountant, you’d be hard pressed to find any job that doesn’t involve some level of math.

Just like English and reading, math coursework builds on concepts learned in earlier grades. Teens should be advancing in math every year. While your school district might have specific graduation requirements, what is more helpful is looking ahead to entry requirements for the colleges your teen wants to attend. Some may require higher level math classes than your school district.

Related: Is Your Teen Ready for a Part Time Job?

Helping teens plan their math education early on can make an impact on their educational and career opportunities later in life. The requirement for a strong math background is no longer just for engineers and scientists, and parents must plan ahead to ensure that their teens are prepared, no matter what career they choose.

When teens understand how what they are learning is valuable and practical, you’ll find that they will become a more active participant in the learning process – and that makes it so much easier on both of you!

The post Making Math Meaningful for Teens: Practical Homeschool Advice appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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This post is made possible by hoopla digital, one of my favorite STEAM unit study resources. Please consider expressing your thanks to them on Twitter or Facebook. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

One of my absolute favorite things about homeschooling is the freedom of not being absolutely bound to a traditional curriculum or course of study. If you are homeschooling based on the “child-lead learning” philosophy or using unit studies, you already know what I mean. Alternatively, if you are using a traditional curriculum, you still have a choice to venture into something else, if your child suddenly develops a passion for a particular topic.

I know some parents are starting to get anxiety attacks just thinking about not following the script. Take a deep breath. It’s ok. You can do this. Not only can you do this (yes, really you can), it’s actually a lot easier than you think it is. And, you know what? Your child is going to love it and you’re going to have so much fun.

If you want to make the leap into designing your child’s curriculum, be sure to check this guide on what to teach each year.

What is Child-Lead Learning?

Child-lead learning is a simple concept. Rather than following a set curriculum that tells you what to teach and when, you’ll nurture your child’s natural curiosity by providing opportunities for him to study topics that he’s interested in. Is your daughter fascinated by roller coasters? Does your son think that frogs are super cool? Maybe the kids wonder why slime is slimy? These are all learning opportunities. Your kids are already telling you what to teach them.

How to Incorporate More Child-Lead Learning into Homeschooling

Figuring out what your children are interested in isn’t too hard. Sometimes, you’ll find that they really get into something that’s being covered in your curriculum. If your child is in elementary school, you might find that they want to learn more than what’s covered in a text book. This is a great time to take a break and try something else.

You might find just the opposite – your child is completely bored with whatever the current topic is. Let’s face it – geology just isn’t for everyone all the time. It’s ok to skip that for now and find out what they would like to learn about. Think about how much easier it is to teach something your child actually wants to learn about.

What to Teach with a Unit Study

If you’re in the situation where your kid is bored and you’re trying to figure out what to teach, you can straight out ask them, “If you could learn about anything in the world, what would you want to learn about?” You might get some crazy answers – that’s part of the fun and the start of developing your own lesson plans. The next question to ask is “What would you like to know about xxx?”

The conversation might go a little something like this:

Mom: “If you could learn about anything in the whole entire world, what would you want to learn about?”

Sally: “Outer space! I want to learn about outer space.”

Mom:” Oh, yeah! That’s cool! What do you want to know about outer space?”

Sally: “Well, I wanna know what ‘outer space’ really is and black holes and if girls can be astronauts too.”

See there? You’re already getting the outline of your unit study together. You have the theme (Outer Space) and three lesson plan topics (outer space, black holes and astronauts/careers). If you keep talking, you’ll probably discover even more things your child wants to learn about outer space. If not, that’s ok. Believe me, you’ll find more things as you go along.

STEAM Unit Study Resources

Now, you’ll want to start gathering resources and planning activities that cover the topics. For me, this was the part that could become the most frustrating. Trying to “pull it together” every month or so instead of following a neat plan laid out by someone else can be time consuming and expensive. I recommend using the library as much as possible but even that can be a hassle to coordinate between co-ops, support groups, dance and sports, nap time and everything else that keeps us busy. Amazon is everyone’s best friend for 24 hour access to nearly anything at your door within two days but not everyone has the financial resources available to buy new books every month.

One resource that I adore is hoopla digital. If you haven’t heard of it yet, I am so excited to tell you about it!

hoopla digital – A Free Digital Library

hoopla digital is an amazing service that gives you access to thousands of media resources including ebooks, comics, audiobooks, music, movies and television shows. Everything is available to download and use instantly and all you need is a valid library card from a participating library. Unlike other digital services, all of the resources in hoopla digital are available all of the time. I’ve used similar services that show plenty of books but, for whatever reason, the ones I want are “checked out.” Not with hoopla digital. The only limitation you’ll find in terms of availability is the total number of downloads you can access per month, based on your library’s agreement. Basically, if you see it on hoopla digital, you can borrow it. No waiting.

What’s really cool is that hoopla digital has recently invested in a significant amount of STEAM education content. When you log in and search for STEAM content, you’ll find a wide variety of books, audiobooks, movies and television programs for all ages.

STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.

How to Use hoopla digital to Create Unit Studies for Child-Lead Learning

Using hoopla digital is very easy. You can access it online or mobile app and you can even stream movies or television shows right through your streaming device (Roku, Apple TV, Fire Stick, etc.) too. Personally, I find that searching using their website is a little easier and what I like to do is to use the website to add items to my “favorites” list and then access them through my mobile app.

How to use hoopla digital for STEAM Unit Study Resources

To get started using hoopla digital, first make sure you have a valid library card from a participating library. You’ll need to register at hoopla digital using your library card and your email address. After that, you’re ready to go. You can browse through each of the categories or you can search for something in particular and use the filters to narrow down the list. There are so many titles available, the search filters are definitely very helpful. You can even let your kids search and browse on hoopla digital by using the “Kids Mode.”

Deciding which resources you’ll use in your unit study will depend on a few different things. You’ll want to select one that are aligned with your child’s level of learning and choose a format that will keep his or her interest. You will also want to make sure that whatever you pick provides that answers your child is looking for.

Using hoopla digital and “outer space” as our example topic, you’ll see that there are just a ton of resources available. 479 to be exact.

You can structure your study so that it’s highly focused on outer space and the sciences related to that or you can create one that includes all subjects. There isn’t a “right way” or “wrong way” to do it. It depends on your objectives. If you’re simply doing a deeper dive of what’s being covered in your pre-planned curriculum, then you may want to keep it tightly focused. If you lean more towards a child-lead approach to learning, then you may want to consider adding literature, grammar and math.

You’ll notice in the photo above that there are two editions of the Time book “Outer Space.” If you investigate further, you’ll notice that one is a read-long version and the other is a traditional eBook. Kind of cool, huh?

Use a Variety of Resources in Your STEAM Unit Study

In addition to reading and reference material, I like to have at least one or two hands-on components such as science experiments or art projects. A quick search using “outer space science experiments” brought up this cool book.

And searching for a related video, I found this:

Bringing Your STEAM Unit Study Together

After you borrow and download your selections, you’ll want to go through them yourself. You’ll be able to create vocabulary lists and plan your activities based on what you read.

hoopla digital has such a wide variety of resources available on demand that it’s easy to pull together a unit study on the fly. Ask your library if they have a partnership with hoopla digital, register and dig into all of their new STEAM education content. Have fun! If you’re already using hoopla digital, come join the Modern Homeschool Family Facebook group and tell us what treasures you’ve found!

The post Create a STEAM Unit Study with Free Online Resources from hoopla digital appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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Dedicating your time to raising your babies and teaching them all there is to learn in your homeschool adventure is a big job. There are long days where, as a parent, you’re learning with your children and nurturing the way that they want to learn and the topics that they want to enjoy. As a homeschool mom, you’re going to find it harder to get time away and spend some time just getting in touch with yourself. The kids need you to take them to activities, join in with the learning and be there to comfort them in times of uncertainty.

While all of that is wonderful and you willingly and happily give your everything to the task at hand, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need time for yourself on occasion. You need time to remember that you’re you as well as mom, teacher, referee, taxi driver and sounding board. You also need to be able to prevent that homeschool burnout that comes with putting your all into your family and not having a break.

Homeschool Mom Self Care Tips

Sometimes, you need to carve out some time to focus on yourself for a change. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love what you do with your kids, but it does mean that it’s time to think about the options for your time that you take for you.

  • Exchange Play Dates. Homeschool communities are often thriving and if you are living in an area where there is more than just your family homeschooling the kids, then how about doing an exchange play date? One day, your kids go to your friend’s house while you get the chance to go and relax for a couple of hours and the next, they all come to you so your friend gets her time to herself. Just don’t fill the time with chores!
  • Learn something. While it’s nice learning with the children, it might be nice to one day think about learning something for yourself, for your own personal development. You don’t have to travel across the state to school, either, not when you can pick an online masters degree in school guidance and counseling to do from the comfort of home. This can open up new doors and new salary prospects for you for the day your own children move out.
  • Quiet Time. Scheduling in daily quiet time for the children to spend time with themselves gives you the chance to do the same. Grab a cup of tea and a book and settle down for an hour. If your children can benefit from an hour of reflective quiet time with a nap or book, so can you.

Choosing what to do for yourself for a change can feel so nice, because you put your children and your family before anyone else. You matter, Mom, so it’s time that you realize that and make time to recharge your own batteries. Regardless of how you choose to factor in time for yourself, you need to plan it so it actually happens.

The post Homeschool Moms: It’s Time for You Time appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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Winter is upon us and the weather is turning downright frigid in some areas. Let’s warm up with a few winter themed sensory play activities.

Wait, what is sensory play and why is it important?

Sensory play is any activity that stimulates your child’s sense of touch, smell, taste, sight, or hearing. Hands-on learning builds cognitive skills and helps to develop abstract thought. This will aid your child in problem solving and creativity.

According to a Michigan State University study,“Early childhood educators cannot overstate the importance of sensory play in the educational process. It is the foundation of all the skills children will use in school learning to read, write and solve math and science problems. Once a child has these experiences, they are able to draw upon the body memory and cognitive memory of their experiences when faced with new situations. Further,the process of observation is a skill in and of itself. Keen observation skills give a child an advantage in school and throughout life.”

Fun Winter Sensory Play Activities

Now that we know what sensory play is and why it is important, let’s get started on some incredibly fun winter themed sensory play projects.

Sensory Play Hot Chocolate Play Dough

Nothing is quite as comforting on a frosty winter day than a cup of delicious hot chocolate. The only problem with cocoa is that once you drink it, it’s gone and there is nothing to play with.

With this sensory activity, your child will create a play dough with a chocolatey aroma that will excite their sense of smell and spur their creativity. It is also super-duper easy.

My children played with this play dough for two straight hours!

  • Mix ingredients
  • Form into a ball
  • Knead and stretch
  • Play!
Hot Chocolate Play Dough Ingredients
  • 2 Cups of Flour
  • ½ Cup of Salt
  • ½ Cup of Cocoa
  • 3 Tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
  • 1 ½ Cups of Boiling Water
Hot Chocolate Play Dough Directions

1.  Put everything into a large bowl and mix it with a large spoon or spatula. Eventually, a ball will start to form.

2. Let the ball cool until it is just slightly warm to the touch.

3. Take the ball out and knead and stretch and roll with your hands.

4. Play, play, play! Cut the dough into different shapes, make chocolate snowmen, make houses and trees for your action figures to play in. Enjoy the great smell of cocoa and the satisfying feel of homemade play dough in squishing through your fingers.

Sensory Play Melting Snowman

I’m melting, I’m melting… In this sensory play activity, we’re going to create a snowman out of a baking soda mixture. This will be a lot of fun for your child as they will help to measure the ingredients that go into making the snowman and then use their imagination to build him.

After the snowman is built, dressed,and looking perfect, the real fun begins! We are going to do a science experiment and instantly melt our frosty friend. Your child will then get to play with the goopy mixture that was their snowman.

  • Mix dry ingredients
  • Add dish soap
  • Transfer to a bin and play
  • Pour vinegar and find out what happens
  • Oh no! I’m melting!
Sensory Play Melting Snow Man Ingredients
  • 2 Cups of Baking Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Dish Soap
  • ¼ Cup of Water
  • Optional- beads, twigs, buttons, etc.… to decorate your snowman
  • Vinegar
Sensory Play Melting Snowman Directions

1. In a large bowl mix the baking soda and the salt together.

2. Add the dish soap and mix thoroughly.

3. Add the water a little at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

4. Once the mixture starts coming together, transfer to a plastic play bin or a large baking dish with edges.

5. Form mixture into three snowman spheres.

6. Optional- Decorate your snowman with twigs arms, button mouth, bead eyes, little orange nose etc.

7. Pour vinegar onto your snowman and watch him melt. Use a pipette or a dropper to melt slowly or pour straight from the bottle melt immediately.

What happened? A chemical reaction. When you mix a base(baking soda) to an acid (vinegar) the chemicals react and release carbon dioxide. Science rocks!

Sensory Play Arctic Snow Dough

It’s freezing, and the ground is covered in snow, but it’s too hard to get the kids all bundled up to go outside to play. They will just want to come back inside in five minutes anyway. Should we just put on a Netflix holiday movie? Not yet! Bring the snow inside.

No, don’t literally bring in the snow, that will cause a huge mess. Make some arctic snow dough to simulate outdoor snow play. Your child will help create something that looks and feels like real snow and you won’t have to dry their mittens and boots afterward.

This is super easy and fun!

  • Simple & fun
  • Voila!
Sensory Play Arctic Snow Dough Ingredients
  • 1 ½ Cups of Corn Starch
  • A Can of Shaving Cream- The old school foam, not a shaving gel. Think Barbasol.
  • Small Action Figures
Sensory Play Arctic Snow Dough Directions

1. In a medium sized bowl mix the cornstarch and the shaving cream. Place it in the freezer for three hours.

2. Voila, you have created snow to play with indoors. Place the snow into a large plastic play bin or a large rimmed baking sheet.

3. Put in your action figures and toy animals and play in this winter wonderland.

What happened? Why does this look and feel like snow? The answer is surface tension. Shaving cream is made of small bubbles.When the cornstarch mixes with the shaving cream, the surface tension causes the cornstarch flakes to float on the surface of the bubbles. Science is so cool.

This post was authored by Nick Briers. Nick is an expat stay at home dad who homeschools his two children ages 8 and 6. He is a promoter of active outdoor play at topnotchplay.com.

The post Fun Winter Sensory Play Activities appeared first on Modern Homeschool Family.

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