Beating Boredom in Your Homeschool World

A bored brain is a brain that is not learning. If you have read or studied anything while you were bored, you know from experience that a bored brain has trouble creating short-term memories. With a bored brain, maybe you have read a chapter or two in a textbook but later had no idea what you have actually read.

For some families in the homeschool world, boredom can be a dark cloud that hangs over your good intentions. It is possible that this boredom is not just limited to the children but also to the parent(s) who are coordinating the homeschool efforts. While one might think that boredom sets in only for those who are using a very rigid homeschool method such as “school at home,” you might find that even the most unrestricted “unschooling” family can have moments of boredom.

One of the unique advantages of homeschooling is the ability to get up and change course. When you can feel boredom coming on, try one of these refreshers.

Take a Trip
Homeschooling does not mean you have to be always at home. Regular trips to the local library should already be on your weekly schedule. Why not go to the zoo, see a movie or drive to another state? Where can you go that will create new memories and stretch you outside of your comfort zone?

If you have contacts in other locations, why not arrange a day or overnight trip to see how and what others are learning? Let the children in the new home be the “presenters” to show off how they experience homeschooling. Later, you and your children could be the host to the family that first hosted you.

Create Things.
“Creating” takes planning, reading and math skills. This is not a break from homeschooling. Rather, it is the very essence of homeschooling.

bake something in your homeschool worldBake something that you have never baked before. Create a giant-sized mural on a roll of paper. Build a sculpture from recycled trash. Take some family time to plan a new color scheme for a room in your house and then paint the room. Create a garden in a container if space is limited or go plant a big garden in your backyard. Help your children turn a chapter of a good book into a piece of theater that they perform.

Go Volunteer
Volunteering for any charity or non-profit is a great way for you and your children to experience a wider view of the world. In most organizations, you can easily arrange to volunteer as a family group. Businesses do this all the time- sending groups of 8-10 people to one location for volunteer work. Take some time and have your children research various charities in your area then make a family choice as to which group gets your weekly volunteer hours.

Fighting boredom can be very easy when you are homeschooling. Yes, it takes time and energy. None of us began homeschooling because we thought it would be easy. Get moving and creative!

Bust some homeschool boredom today!

Sean Buvala, father of four homeschooled children aged teen-adult, writes frequently about educational and parenting topics. Come learn more about his book for dads at

Seven Ways To Increase Your Preschooler’s Vocabulary

homeschool vocabulary buildersBy helping your young child expand his vocabulary, you will boost his reading and writing skills. He needs a good vocabulary to decode and comprehend the words and sentences he is reading, and will be better able to communicate his thoughts and ideas for writing and speaking.

1. Talk with your preschooler whenever the opportunity arises.
Engage her in conversation about anything: the food you are cooking, the latest antics of the family dog, what both of you like about her favorite TV program.

2. Name everything.
Tell your child the names of the cooking utensils you are using, the animals in his Noah’s Ark toy set as you play together or the flowers you are looking at in the plant nursery

3. Read aloud to your child as often as you can.
Read the book your child chooses, but when it is your turn to pick the next book make it one she has not seen yet. Keep a stash of several books that have a few advanced words, such as “process,” “acknowledge” or “fledgling.”

4. Tell stories to your children. Bedtime is the traditional time for storytelling. However, you can tell a story while waiting in line at the bank, driving in the car (see this video) or whenever you have some moments of time to fill. Put in a few words that you do not think your child knows yet, such as in number 3. Be free with your descriptive words!

5. Categorize.
When your child talks about the neighbor’s cat, say “a cat is an animal.” Other examples would be “a pear is a fruit” or “a motorcycle is a vehicle.”

6. Add descriptive words. If your little one says, “look at the cat,” say back to him, “I see the black, long-haired cat.” The more often you use descriptive words in your speech, the more likely your child will also.

7. Ask probing questions about new discoveries.When your child finds a treasure such as a pretty rock, ask him questions about it. When she creates a drawing or receives a new toy, ask her to show it to you and describe it. Ask questions such as, “What do you do with it?” or “How would you like to display this?” This encourages your child to think about his answers. This reinforces his language learning.

These simple tips are some of the ways you can help your preschooler gain a larger vocabulary which in turn will benefit her communication, reading and writing skills.

The author, Michelle B., writes about education, homeschooling, literacy and gardening in the desert. See our reading suggestion in in our Amazon bookstore.

Home School Curriculum: Seven Options for Parents

If you are new to home schooling and haven’t a clue as to what to do about curriculum other than buying a set out of a catalog, there is a wealth of learning possibilities available to you. Many are free or low-cost. You just have to dig a little!

There are advantages to using boxed curriculum, if you have the money they require. If time is short or you really dislike planning, then a boxed set may be the way to go. On the other hand, if your budget is tight, there are many alternatives:

home school curriculum and lesson plans start with your kid1. Your child is the one being home schooled so start here. What does he love to do? Read mysteries, skateboard, collect seashells, play with his dog, and draw? For each of his interests you will be able to find books to read, documentaries, clubs, lessons, web pages, or activities. Build a unit study or theme around one of those interests. You may be amazed at what your child will learn if it starts with something he is truly interested in.

2. Check with your home schooling support group to see if a lending library is available. Some groups keep books about the different styles of home schooling while others may have unit study kits or materials arranged by learning subject.

3. Use the public library. Every library system is different; you will have to investigate to see what your library offers. If your library is in a city or county system, you may be able to request items from other libraries to be delivered to your own branch for you to pick up. Some libraries offer science learning kits, toys or musical instruments, or have hired or volunteer guests do experiments or magic or present plays, etc. You will find DVDs of movies, lessons and documentaries, audio books, foreign language CD sets, etc. Most libraries sponsor book clubs.

4. Use the Internet. I love having our computer nearby as it is wonderful to be able to look something up as we are discussing a subject and a question arises. You will find tons of learning resources such as worksheets, coloring pages, online dictionary, thesaurus and calculators, lesson plans, educational games and skill practice. Moreover, so much of it is free! Your kids will be able to take classes online as well.

5. What resources will you find in your own community? Look for Girl or Boy Scouts, 4-H, YMCA sports, community classes, the Civil Air Patrol, government student council, Toastmasters, community gardens, Parks and Rec events and sports, extracurricular activities at your local school. There are clubs for aviation, writing, horses, the arts, radio-control racing, bird watching, dog sports, etc. Do you attend a church, synagogue or temple? Is anything available for your kids there?

6. Take a second look at the people in your life. Grandpa fishes and is a top-notch cook. Grandma plays lively music on her piano. Uncle Joe is an avid bird watcher, and Mrs. Garcia next door loves talking about Shakespeare. See what potential you may find!

7. Keep a daily journal about the activities your kids do, such as science experiments, buying their own meal at a fast-food restaurant, exchanging a roll of dimes at the bank or building a model of Stonehenge in the backyard. All of these involve learning!

Learning occurs anywhere in so many variations that you can create your own curriculum for your own home schooling kids.

To learn more about home schooling and the many options available to you, please visit our website at You can follow us on Twitter at

Homeschool Preschool Activity: Lacing Cards

homeschool preschool curriculum- a lace cardHomeschool preschool activities do not have to be expensive. An excellent method for your preschooler to build fine-motor skills and strengthen eye-hand coordination is by playing with lacing cards. This type of activity also encourages focus and concentration on a task.

Lacing cards are available to buy where toys or teaching supplies are sold, but they are very easy to create your own. You probably have all the supplies at home already, so the cost involved is minimal. Another benefit of making your own lacing cards is that you can directly relate the subject matter to your child’s interests. Make a boot card for your little cowboy or a castle tower for the fairy-princess. You can make cards that fit what your child is learning about, such as Brachiosaurus for dinosaurs, a house for the letter “”H” or a character from a book you are currently reading together.

Homeschool preschool activity- lace card suppliesYou need thin cardboard, such as the back of pads of paper, or cut from a food box, like a cereal box. Now you need an image. Either draw an object yourself on the cardboard or find a design online or in a child’s coloring book. If you print the picture out, draw on a piece of paper or tear a page from the coloring book, you can simply use spray-adhesive or water-thinned white glue to attach the paper to the cardboard, or copy with a pencil. The image needs to be simple. If there are many lines in the picture a good idea is to use a fine-point dark marker, like black or brown, to trace over the lacing lines. It is best to have the lacing lines close to the edge of the card so a paper punch will easily reach them. If not, trim the cardboard back, or cut around the image.

Next, determine where you will place the holes on the picture. You can mark lightly with a pencil where the holes will be. When you are satisfied, go ahead and paper-punch them.

The final step is preparing the lacing string. A shoelace is ideal, but a piece of string or yarn works just as well. Tie the string to the first hole. You can leave the strings free of the card, but an advantage to tying them on is that they won’t get lost. Lace the picture yourself to see how much string is needed, and add 6 to 9 extra inches. If you use a piece of yarn or string, to make it easier to lace either dip the lacing end in white glue and draw it through your fingers, then let dry, or wrap a piece of tape around the end.

You can begin with one or two lacing cards, or make a set all at once.

If you are pressed for time, there are a number of very nice lacing cards for sale at places such as Amazon. However, don’t be afraid to try your hand at making your own supplies for your homeschool curriculum.

Michelle B. has been homeschooling for 20 years and continues to do so today. She writes about projects in gardening, education and literacy.

Fatherhood: 7 Inexpensive Things To Do With Your Small Child

Especially for Dads: 7 Cheap or Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time with Your Little Kid

Yep, money is tight but that is not going to stop you from being a great dad. First off, since this isn’t 1950 any more, I don’t have to tell you how important it is for you to find time to spend being Dad with your kids and not at your kids, right? With that settled, here are some ways you can do several fun things with your kids that will cost you nothing or are otherwise very inexpensive.

1. Take a walk.
Go walking with your children around the block, around the park, around your back yard if you must. You will most likely need the exercise to get rid of your growing middle and your child needs to see something besides the TV or the back of your head while they ride in your car.  Go to the Zoo Fatherhood programs2. Go to the zoo (or something like that).
Get off the expensive and mind-numbing amusement-park daddy-go-round. There are affordable places (like museums and zoos) for you to go where your child can see new things, touch a turtle, make some pictures and hear a dinosaur’s roar or the like. This is a huge learning opportunity for your kid and most of these places are very affordable to visit. Super hint: many museums have monthly or weekly free-admission days. I know this will be hard for some dads who do not like to be in places like this. News flash: This is about your kids, not you and your boring man-world. With my kids now much older, I regret not having done more of this with them when they were little.

3. Eat in an interesting place.
Sure, the in-front-of-the-TV space has become the new kitchen table. Try having more meals at the dining room table. Then, get interesting and have a picnic. Make sandwiches, grab some chips and celery sticks and go sit somewhere to eat. The park or the tables outside the mall will work just fine. You are making memories here, dad. Warning: this is for your little kids. Do this outside the mall with pre-teens and you might die from the dirty looks they will give you.

4. Tell your kid a story. No books allowed.
Yep, put down that storybook and tell your kids some stories. Look your kid in the eye and tell them stories in your own way. You will bond with them and help them with their future literacy at the same time.

5. Do some full-body finger painting.
No little child can resist finger paint. On a warm day, grab some big pieces of paper, put out the cheap finger paints and go at the art-thing with your toddler. We found a roll of cheap paper at the teaching-supply shop and watched our kid paint up her body and roll about on the paper. Now we had huge art and great memories.

6. Wash your car.
Frankly, you could wash anything with rags and suds and your toddler or preschooler would be happy. Get out buckets, sponges, plenty of dish-soap and your grubby clothes and wash your car. Or a fence. Or your front door. Or your dog. Wet-laughing will ensue.

7. Make cookies.
In the old days, you had to know how to make cookie dough before you could bake cookies. If you know how to do make dough, that is all the better. Short of making dough, you can buy pre-made buckets of cookie dough at nearly any grocery store. Buy the dough and a few inexpensive candies or sprinkles and you have baking fun. When you are waiting out the baking times, do number 4 above.

There are many more ways to spend some inexpensive time with your kid. Your time shared with a child is more important than the money you spend in that time. Dive in now as they will be giant tweens before you know it. Then, you will need a new list.


The author, Sean Buvala, has four children ranging in age from preteen to adult. He especially likes number four in this list (storytelling) as he is the author of the fatherhood training book, “DaddyTeller: How to be a Hero to Your Kids and Teach Them What’s Really Important by Telling Them One Simple Story at a Time.” You can get lots of free training videos and order the book at Or, follow his latest articles and vids from your perch at Twitter:

Preschool Activity: Writing on the Wall

Did you know that letting your preschoolers draw on the wall is a really good way to get them ready for writing? If done on a regular basis, activities worked on a vertical surface provide many advantages for them:

* Children gain strength in the back, shoulders and arms which increases stability for fine motor activities.
* The wrist is correctly positioned for pencil-holding, and grasping strength is enhanced.
* Good posture is developed.
* Finger dexterity is increased and fine motor flexibility and accuracy is developed.
* Eye-hand coordination is improved.
* Not only do these help build physical readiness for writing, but also for tasks such as using eating utensils, picking up small items such as coins, using art materials and even getting dressed!

So what are some activities preschoolers can do on vertical surfaces, if you don’t really want them drawing on the wall? Try these:

* Tape a large piece of paper to an outdoor wall or fence and supply large markers, crayons or paint and have your child make a mural. You can write large block letters to make a sign, such as “Welcome” or “Happy Birthday,” and ask your child to decorate it.
* Use a chalkboard or whiteboard.
* Children’s stand-up easels are excellent.
* Try a flannelboard, or make your own by attaching a large piece of felt to a piece of cardboard or plywood, or tacked on a bulletin board.
* The refrigerator is a great place to play with magnets, including magnetic letters. Try turning magazine or photo cut-outs into play magnets by adhering the paper onto cardstock, laminating or covering them with clear contact paper,and gluing on a magnet.
* On a warm day, give your kids a large paintbrush and a bucket half-full of water. Let them pretend to be house painters and paint the outside of the house or a fence.

* At bath time, let your child decorate the tub walls with shaving cream, bath soap-crayons or foam letters. When the bath is done, your preschooler can wipe his art off the wall with a clean sponge or rag.
* Give your preschooler a sheet of stickers and a piece of paper taped to the wall or clipped to an easel.
* Kids love painting on windows, such as sliding doors. Make sure they have washable window paint, or make your own by mixing powdered or liquid poster paint with clear dishwashing soap in approximately equal amounts. Be sure to spread newspaper on the floor beneath the window and cover the windowsill. Perhaps they can make holiday designs.
* Tack a piece of clear contact paper on the easel or bulletin board, sticky-side out. Let your child make a nature collage of feathers, leaves, seeds, flowers, etc. You can also use magazine cut-outs, torn strips of tissue papers or gift-wrap shapes. When your child is finished cover the art with another piece of contact paper, pressing it smooth.

Whenever you are preparing supplies for your child to create art or work on writing, take a moment to see if any part of this activity can be done vertically. The more often it is done, the stronger the results for your child.

Michelle B. is a veteran of 20+ years of homeschooling. She likes affordable homeschool materials.

Book Review: The Teen’s Guide to World Domination

(Editor’s Note: Our reviewer is a 14-year-old homeschooled teen. She shares her thoughts on review from a complimentary copy of the book.)

It isn’t very often that a book changes my perspective on things. However, The Teen’s Guide to World Domination by Josh Shipp was one of those books.

Right off the bat, Shipp tells you that the goal of the book is not about helping you dominate the world- but to help you dominate your own world by rocking at what you do and defeating the “villains” in your life.

Generally, the problem I have with most teenage advice books is that they try too hard either to appeal to teens, or become more of a cheesy life-coaching session than an advice book. Luckily, The Teenagers Guide to Dominating the World strays far away from these two pitfalls. Josh Shipp writes in such a way that when reading, you really feel as if that is how he would talk to you if you were sitting down together in person, making the book easy and fun to read.

In the book, Shipp talks about his often-painful childhood, but rather than looking for pity, he wants the reader to learn from his mistakes, and use them as examples, telling stories from his past as ways of showing you how he dominated his own world, and defeated his own villains.

The “villains,” as Shipp calls them, are described with names such as Pirate, Ninja, Puppy and Robot. Further into the book, there are step-by-step introductions to each of the villains. Josh describes how to know one when you see one, what their intentions are, and how to defeat them.

This book offers up witty humor, funny stories, and good, solid advice. It’s definitely worth the reading.

(Editor: You can find this book and others in our Home School Theater Bookstore.)

Kieran is the guest author of today’s post. She is a homeschooled teen in Arizona. In addition, she and a friend are the creators of their own fashion, fashion, makeup and beauty blog.

Preschool Homeschool Games: Playing Post Office

Young children are constantly engaged in learning about the grown-up world. Nearly everything they play is a reflection of their understanding of what happens in life.

Preschoolers love to pretend-play adult roles. One of the favored role-playing tasks is that of the mail carrier. Playing post office automatically opens up a variety of wonderful learning possibilities in the three R’s, as well. It offers practice in writing the letters in the alphabet, matching the name on an envelope with the name on the mail cubbie and beginning to read those names.

Be sure to write your child several short notes and mail them, too. She will no doubt come running to ask you to read them to her. She will try to do her own letter-writing.

Sorting and categorizing is a skill required in both reading and math, and this game will reinforce that skill. Your child will sort according to names on the cubbies, but you can also have your child sort by advertisements and personal letters, by size of the pieces of mail, or color, or symbol. How about gluing pictures of pets found in a pet store ad on the envelopes?

A shoe box is great for turning into a mailbox, as it has a removable lid for your little mailman to scoop out the letters. Whatever box you choose, cut a slot large enough for the mail to enter in the front or on top. It also needs either a lid or a folding flap. You can strengthen weak areas with duct tape, such as around the mail slot. See if your preschooler would like to decorate the box, but don’t force it if coloring is not her thing.

Your little mail carrier needs a place to deliver her letters. Make mail cubbies for each family member and the pets, too. Tape several empty boxes (such as cereal or cake mix) together, and cut off the opening flaps. Label each box with the person’s name in block letters. Don’t forget Fluffy or Rover! If you don’t want to use family members, you can use pictures of animals, colors, shapes, food items, etc glued to each cubbie.

Next helpful item is a mail bag. A shopping bag works very well, and most have handles long enough for a little guy to wear the bag from his shoulder. A grocery bag is okay, too!

Now, you need some mail. Hand over all your junk mail to your preschooler. You can buy a box of inexpensive envelopes and set it on the table along with stickers, colored pencils, pens, and paper. Let your preschooler get busy!

Michelle B. is a home-schooling Mom who has been at it for more than 20 years. For more information about preschool, this book teaches you more preschool learning games. (Editor’s Note: This is a great activity for your child no matter what education choices you have made for them, homeschool or otherwise.)

Homeschool Organizing Tool

Organizing Homeschool Supplies?

A very useful tool for organizing supplies in a busy household is the over-the-door pocket organizer. They are easy to find, in a wide price range, in different colors and sizes. Some will keep the contents out of sight, and in others the items will be visible. The pocket holders are excellent space savers when you have a number of small items that need storage but there is no room for a cabinet or bookshelf. My family has an organizer in nearly every room.

There is an organizer on the door of my husband’s office for his office supplies and one in the bathroom for toiletries. I keep my garden tools, knee pads, gloves, etc. in another.

My girls have a clear vinyl shoe organizer over their bedroom door. When they were younger, in the pockets they kept stored and on display their collection of fashion dolls. Now they have outgrown the dolls but not the organizer! Their little bean bag animals are the new occupants.

One of my favorite pocket organizer uses has been to keep track of our homeschool supplies. We keep this one on our pantry door. The pocket contents depend on what we are currently learning about. Sometimes they are filled with flashcards, or maps, or science tools. The pockets have been wonderful in keeping our viewfinder toy accessible and the discs organized by topic. Whenever I buy a set of discs relating to something we are currently learning, I have a space for it. Currently our pantry organizer is filled with pens, pencils, index cards, erasers, rubber bands, small notebooks, glue sticks and a paper punch.

What else can you use an over-the-door pocket organizer for? How about kid’s toys, such as Matchbox cars, action figures, trading cards, or doll clothes?

Science supplies, such as magnets, microscope slides, eye droppers, magnifying glass, beakers, test strips, or scale weights.

Math: small geoboards, rubber bands, manipulatives, flash cards, clock dial, play money. A clear organizer can also be used as a teaching tool to display one number card per pocket, such as for investigating place value or adding two-digit or larger numbers.

Art supplies, like paint brushes, watercolor trays, pencils, markers, acrylic paint tubes, packets of clay, and modeling tools.

Craft Supplies:magnets, pom poms, glue gun and gluesticks, feathers, seashells, pasta, strings, beads and buttons.

The organizer also makes a wonderful display holder for collections for your children’s current study: seashells, rocks, nature items, plastic animals or historical figures, or information booklets.

If you need to keep your homeschooling supplies in check, I recommend the over-the-door pocket organizer.

Michelle B. is a homeschooling parent in Arizona. We like the Homz Kidz 12-Pocket Over-the-Door Hanging Organizers