The “Not” Back-to-School Blog Hop {Curriculum Week}

"Not" Back to School Blog Hop at iHomeschool Network

It’s here!  The crazy weekly blog hop that will make us all feel wonderfully inspired and a teeny bit inadequate all at the same time!  Woohoo!

Hey, just keepin’ it real folks…

But seriously, as we all are getting started with our schooling, wading gently into the water after a low-key summer, the iHomeschool Network blog hop is the place to be.  Let’s get motivated!

Homeschool Planning 2012-2013

Speaking of motivated, have I mentioned lately that I’m up to my ears in planning?  Well, actually now it’s only up to my belly button, so I’m making progress.  Last week the living room looked like this:

Homeschool Planning

And now my supplies and materials are organized into nice neat piles on the floor instead and it looks like this:

Homeschool Planning

Progress, people!  That’s what I’m talking about!  (Don’t you dare say you don’t see a difference!)

So for those of you who don’t know much about me, here’s the scoop in a nutshell: I have four children whom I’ve been homeschooling for seven years (this year will be my eighth).  My oldest son is 12 and will be in 7th grade; my only daughter is 9 and will be in 4th grade; my two younger boys are 6 and 5 and will be in 1st and K respectively, though they are learning almost as if they were twins.  My youngest won’t be left behind.  He’s very stubborn and precocious.

We started out classically, but have moved into more of an eclectic homeschool, mostly due to the fact that I want to give the best, individualized education to each child, and each of my children is unique.  So we now base our structure loosely on the Well-Trained Mind skeleton and resources, but add a lot of Charlotte Mason methods, and whatever else I feel will work in our home.

This year is the first time I will be intentionally including the younger two in the bulk of our subjects.  For things like history, science, geography, and art, we will all learn together, get further into the adventure of notebooking (all together- fabulous!) and then my older two will have some independent work to take away as well.

7th grade curricula and resources

  • Teaching Textbooks Algebra I – We moved into TT last year for Pre-Algebra on the recommendation of our assessor (in Ohio we have to get yearly portfolio assessments if we choose not to do standardized tests) and we like it very much.  Before TT we used Saxon for Colin and it worked very well, but TT can be done independently which helps with Mom-time management.
  • Rod and Staff Grammar 7 – We’ve been using R & S since 4th grade and are very happy with the thoroughness and rigor of the program.  I’m a grammar nerd and get all giddy about diagramming, word roots, and stuff like that.
  • Thames and Cosmos Chem C2000 Chemistry Set and Mastering the Periodic Table – Our chemistry this year is going to be out of my comfort zone.  There will be a lot of experiments, some of which will include the younger ones, and I have a lot of peripheral resources.  (We’ve never used textbooks, and I hope to avoid them until highschool.)  Unlike history, which is chronological, all of our resources choose to go through the periodic table differently.  I’ll keep you posted on how things work out, but since I’m a non-science mom, this is the subject I’m least excited about.
  • History – We have always used the Well-Trained Mind resource suggestions and this is our second time going through the Story of the World series.  We are studying the Middle Ages this year (with activity book) and Colin will supplement with outlining and timeline work through the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and other living books.  One exciting new-to-us resource is Heritage History** CD sets of public domain books.  We have the Christian Europe and Spanish Empire libraries as well as the British Middle Ages curriculum (which includes supplemental resources in addition to the books) and there are great books for family read-alouds and independent reading for Colin.  We will be primarily using notebooking as a way to document all we are learning.  Notebooking Pages has a wonderful set of Middle Ages resources, including basic pages, and specific pages for people and events of the time.
  • Rosetta Stone German 3 – Colin is probably halfway finished with this program and we’re considering finding him an online highschool German course when he completes it.  Rosetta Stone has been great for our children’s pronunciation, understanding and vocabulary, but the grammar is all by immersion so there are no rules taught.  I’m looking forward to getting him the nuts and bolts to round out his German skills.
  • US Geography – We will be notebooking through the 50 states as a family.  This is something the kids enjoy immensely, and we try to take trips, watch documentaries, and cook fun cuisine from some of the states as well.  This year we’re planning a weekend trip to Tennessee.  (You can get a free sample of a state notebooking page set here!)
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive – We haven’t focused a lot on writing in the past in terms of curriculum simply because I didn’t think it was all that necessary yet.  I think good writing is incredibly important, don’t get me wrong; I just think that the way it is taught is counter-productive.  I think kids who read great literature, and a lot of it, will have a natural bent toward writing as they get older.  So now that Colin is in middle school we are focusing a bit more on it so we can build skills for high school.

4th grade curricula and resources

  • Math on the Level – Our sweet Maddy is not a math person.  We have tried a handful of different math curricula over the years and all have frustrated her until I finally stepped outside of the textbook box.  It was a scary transition, but looking back I see a lot of progress and a lot less angst.  Math on the Level is a non-traditional program that includes all concepts required to learn from PreK to Pre-Algebra organized in books that give tips and tricks for teaching each of the concepts.  It is teacher intensive and requires a lot of assessment on my part, but it has been worth it.  The company also has a very active yahoo email group that supports each other and answers questions.
  • Rod and Staff Grammar 4
  • Sequential Spelling – We took off of formal spelling last year.  I have never liked the traditional spelling curricula with the words per week that you have to write and rewrite until you memorize them.  I trust my children’s reading to give them good skills in spelling, and for the most part it has.  I am going to lightly work through Sequential Spelling lessons with Maddy just to add to her knowledge of spelling patterns.  SS is a program not based around levels of words for each grade, but instead on patterns and was originally created for dyslexic children.  One word list, for example, includes the words: all, stall, install, recall, and installment.
  • HistoryStory of the World, Volume 2 (Middle Ages), beginner level ebooks from Heritage History**, and notebooking.
  • Chemistry for the Grammar Stage – This classical-based curriculum was affordable, lays out all readings and includes all worksheets and notebooking pages.  Again, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the way our different chemistry resources each choose to go through the material differently, but it will simply take a bit more intentionality in my planning to make it work.
  • Rosetta Stone German 1 & 2 – Maddy’s just about done with German 1 and will be moving up this fall.  She sounds so cute speaking German!
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive – We’re doing the middle school level; I’m including her along with my oldest because Maddy loves to write and she can handle the activities.
  • US Geography – Notebooking all the way!  Here’s a free North American bird example for you to try out from Notebooking Pages.

1st grade curricula and resources

Kindergarten curricula and resources

Together we will cover art, music, health, nutrition, and life skills just through life and occasional notebooking.  My husband and I are classical musicians so our home is filled with the music of Bach and Mozart and Stravinsky and we “talk shop” often.  I also am an art junkie, and love to test myself and the kids on their knowledge of famous styles and techniques of the great master artists.  These kinds of things just happen in our home and I’ve learned that it is enough, that I don’t need to make sure I get a composer study in each week.  It’s just another way to embrace the actual reality of our life and not get overwhelmed with expectations that are inappropriate for our family or too high.

 

Whew!!  So there you have it.  Our plan for the year!  Link up with the “Not” Back-to-School Hop with your own curriculum plans!

**To get a free Spanish Empire CD library, purchase any other library or curriculum at Heritage History and enter code CHRISglo at checkout!  You must add the Spanish Empire CD as well and the amount will come off when you add the code.**

This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure page for details.

Homeschool Hodgepodge

(I’m also guest posting at Mary’s today about how to balance Teacher and Mom.)

This post is long but worth it!  Great resources and a giveaway at the end!

Homeschool planning (History)

As I mentioned yesterday (in my other giveaway post– be sure to enter!) I am deep in the throes of planning for next year.  I’m surrounded by tons of piles of this and that, at least a dozen lists that I have to consolidate, and a few new items that I am so excited to use!

We’ve always been an eclectic homeschool family, starting out with more of a classical bent but quickly moving to an overall living books philosophy that I can easily taylor to the needs of each child.  Since I’m not married to any one method, I have felt the freedom to experiment and explore different things, and as I mentioned in my post about our homeschool year’s personality, each summer I assess and figure out what will work best for the stage we’re in.

US Geography Notebook

Last year we started notebooking with a simple US geography project.  The kids loved it, and I absolutely adored having them all at the table working on their age-appropriate pages all together, instead of having to go from child to child individually.  It made things so simple, and I couldn’t wait to incorporate more notebooking in the coming year.

Enter Notebooking Pages: a fabulous site full of thousands of pages, with more being added each month, and now a new web application for children and teens to use to create fully digital notebooking pages.  I have become an affiliate for this company, and this means that I can pass on awesome discounts and specials to all of you!  Win-win!

Notebooking Pages is right now, starting today, having a huge back-to-school sale that you do not want to miss!  We’re planning on notebooking through science, history, poetry, and any other subject that would benefit from this method, and I can’t recommend the selection enough.  There are sets to purchase, but the best deal by far is the membership.  Click the image to get more information:

Notebooking Pages Sale!

The second resource I’m super excited to use is our new CD library from Heritage History. I have a middle schooler who is a voracious reader.  When I had the opportunity to become an affiliate for this company, and received the Christian Europe library of books to use in our own homeschool, I could not wait to begin.  Each affordable library includes dozens of books that can be downloaded onto an iPad or e-reader, and curriculums have maps, timelines, and other resources in addition to the books!

Heritage History- use code CHRISglo

Now that I’m actually planning and choosing which books to include from Heritage History’s CD library (we are going through year two of the Story of the World for our history which covers the Middle Ages), I am even more convinced about this resource.  So much so, that I’ve chosen to purchase at least one more CD curriculum for use this year.

My connection with this company also means that I can pass on savings and deals to you and I am whole-heartedly thrilled to do so.

One lucky reader will win a CD library or curriculum of her choice!

To enter, visit Heritage History and look at the selection of CD libraries ad curricula, and leave a comment with your first choice.  For extra entries you can:

*oops!  Forgot to mention to leave a comment for each entry so I can fully enter you!*

Giveaway open until 11:59pm August 8th.

Even if you don’t win the giveaway, Heritage History is offering a free Spanish Empire Library ($19.99 value) when you purchase any curriculum CD for $24.99.  Simply enter code CHRISglo at checkout.

And, by the way, any purchase you make from now until August 31 enters you to win a Kindle Fire.  Awesome!

Please know that I am only passing on these amazing resources because we are using them ourselves going forward.  I do not choose to be an affiliate for any company that we don’t fully endorse through use in our own homeschool.  Being an affiliate earns me a small percentage of purchases made with my code.  For more information, see my Disclosure page.

 

Curriculum Clean-out {Write-and-Wipe workbook giveaway!}

{{This giveaway is now closed}}

 

So I’m planning for the coming year.  And this is what it looks like:

I know.  Scary.  I sat there for hours today and finally had to quit when I began staring blankly at a wall, mumbling and drooling.

Since I wasn’t getting anything productive done, I did a little tooling around on the internet and happened upon Jolanthe’s Curriculum Clean-out link up.  I decided I had plenty of stuff we no longer need, so I’m linking up!

Our workbook junkie

We have one child who went through a seriously Cuh-RAZY workbook phase.  Our youngest, Zachary, at three, decided he wanted to do work like the big kids and wouldn’t take no for an answer.  He whizzed through workbooks so fast (actually doing them, not just scribbling) that we thought we’d go broke if we had to keep feeding his addiction educational habit.  We even asked my parents to get him the entire set of Explode the Code phonics books for Christmas when he was four.  They obliged.

I then found some awesome write-and-wipe workbooks for the PreK to 1st grade crowd and he was in heaven.  I got the whole set, and though a couple of them were used until they fell apart, most of them are still in good or great condition.

Curriculum Clean out giveaway

So this week I’m giving away a set of write-and-wipe books, and a pack of non-toxic Lakeshore Learning dry erase markers to one lucky reader! (US residents only)

Set will include: Get Ready for Kindergarten (books 1 and 2), All About Shapes, Count and Add, Think and Learn, and many more!

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me how old your children are.  I’d love to get to know you a bit more!  (Make sure you leave your email address!)

For extra entries, you can:

  • subscribe to Fruit in Season (or by email at the top of the side bar)
  • like Fruit in Season on Facebook
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Tweet this post or share on Facebook (use buttons below the post- easy peasy)

Leave a comment for each entry and I’ll pick a winner on Monday, August 7th.  Spread the word!  Don’t keep this to yourself. (And click the image for more curriculum giveaways!)

Curriculum Clean Out {Homeschool Creations}

Homeschool Mother’s Journal {Birthday edition}

Homeschool Mother's Journal

Yes, it’s my birthday!  I’m so glad you’ve stopped by!

In my life this week

I’m 39 today and am feeling very thoughtful about the upcoming year.  Getting older doesn’t bother me, never has.  I joke about it, but seriously I wouldn’t want to go back in time for any amount of money.  Each decade has had its challenges, and I’m sure the next one will be no different, but I feel I’ve learned something important with every year that has passed.  I want to do something bold and creative with my year.  I am feeling the need to redefine myself a bit.  I’ll keep you posted…

In our homeschool this week

We’ve wrapped up our year, finally!  It’s the first summer that we’ve actually schooled through, and I’m thrilled about that.  I’ve always wanted to retain some semblance of structure in our learning through the summer months so that the fall doesn’t hit us like a ton of bricks, but it’s never quite panned out.  This year, though, I tried something different.  For June and July we did basic subjects a mere three days a week.  That left a nice relaxing long weekend, but still avoided the brain drip that occurs with too much time off.  Only drawback to schooling through the summer?  The kids couldn’t figure out what grade to say they were in if someone asked.

Helpful homeschool tips or advice to share

Have a read-aloud book that you share with each child individually.  I started this weekly tradition a couple of years ago only with my oldest to make sure that he was exposed to literature that was more geared toward his maturity level and loved sharing the time with him.  Last year I started with my daughter as well, and we chose books with topics and characters that more resonated with girls.  Since she’s my only girl, voting on family read-alouds usually leaves her in the minority, though she still always enjoys the books we choose.  This year I will begin with my younger two boys and am so looking forward to that time with them, snuggled up in their beds.  Yes, this will mean that I will spend a half hour reading to each child individually (my goal is two kids per day) and it will take up a chunk of time, but the memories we make will be forever-memories!

I am inspired by

Color.  The more I explore in my art journals using all sorts of mixed media, the more my eyes are opened to how varied and vivid the world is.  Bright, bold, rich colors just simply make me happy.

Charcoal and watercolor art journal page in progress

Charcoal and watercolor

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing

In two weeks we’ll be off on our yearly summer adventure out east.  We’ll first visit wonderful friends in Maryland, then head to New Jersey to spend time with my parents, sister and her family, and finally to New York to visit my brother- and sister-in-law and their three boys.  It will be busy and fabulous, and I’ll use a lot of that time planning for the upcoming year, and doing a lot of doodling, thinking and writing.

My favorite thing this week

I was intentional about getting my hands in my art supplies more often this week and it made a huge difference in my mood.  I realized that my mind was quiet when I was focused on my art, and that’s a rare (coveted) thing.

What’s working/not working for us

Sibling love has been scarce around here lately.  So on Wednesday, I had a spontaneous idea to solve that problem.  I got a big piece of posterboard and put it on the coffee table.  I traced each child’s hands and then labeled each pair with their names.  I told them that since they don’t seem to be appreciating each other lately, I wanted them to spend intentional time thinking of how they are grateful for each sibling.  Then I asked them to write little notes and leave them on the hands for each person throughout the day.  The notes piled up, and the arguing mostly stopped.  Then Thursday was an even better day and they got along wonderfully!  Makes this mama’s heart happy!

Questions/thoughts I have

I have many thoughts and questions this week.  Most importantly I’ve been wondering where my notebook is that has all of my homeschool convention notes for the coming year.  I lost it and need it to start my planning process next week.

I’m reading

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov, which has been sitting on my end table for a year.  It’s very good so far, and not as challenging as I had thought.  The characters are unique and well-crafted, and the emotional depth is vivid.  I’m also reading 168 Hours on my Nook, which has an interesting take on looking at our time.  I also recently bought Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle and am waiting for my lovely UPS guy to bring it to me!

I’m cooking

With tomatoes!!  We have a ton of tomatoes coming from our garden, and it’s a beautiful sight.  Last year our harvest didn’t start until September, but this season we’ve been in full swing since early this month.  I’ve been making BLT’s, salads, and just eating them in slices with a touch of salt.  They are so good!  Last night for dinner, I made Jason and me a ciabatta bread with goat cheese, basil, and oven-roasted tomatoes marinated in a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Accompanied by red wine, of course!

Tomato saladI’m grateful for

Homemade cards and hugs from little arms this morning.  And for a morning to hole up in the library and write, pray and think.

I’m praying for

My children’s relationships, my husband’s work, and the needs of friends and family.

A video, photo, link, or quote to share

Come visit me on Pinterest where I have a board for the Summer Olympics, which starts tonight!

Come on over and link up to the Homeschool Mother’s Journal at the iHomeschool Network!

 

What my friends should know… {10*in*10}

10-in-10 iHomeschool Network

So it’s week 10 already?  Wow, that went fast!!  Here are my other 10*in*10 posts in this fun blog hop:

Top Ten Homeschooling Questions
Top Ten Reasons We Defy a Homeschool Label
Top Ten Reasons We Love to Homeschool (Poetry edition)
Top Ten Series for Middle School Boys
Top Ten Homeschooling Websites
Top Ten Pieces of Homeschooling Advice

 If you’re here, you’re a friend.

That’s how I think of you.  You read my thoughtful posts as I’m wrestling out my life and my faith.  You read my silly posts when my sarcastic sense of humor pops up.  You read my homeschooling posts, and hopefully learn from my many mistakes!

But what are the things I maybe haven’t told you, that you really should know?  The things that you would know if you were a local friend with whom I met for regular coffee chats or play dates with the kids?

Yes, I color my hair...

Yes, I color my hair, and yes, my kitchen is cluttered…

Here goes!  The real me, unbound and unashamed:

  1. I am a hugger.  I love to squeeze those that I love, whether it’s when they are celebrating, or mourning, or simply because I’m thankful for them in that moment.
  2. I am a lousy housekeeper.  It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have accepted this fact, and stopped trying to make excuses.  I’m not horrible, but I’m certainly not great.  My cleaning rotations are not as neat, tidy or frequent as some of the ones I see on other blogs (even the ones that claim to be homeschool-friendly) but I’m OK with that.
  3. I am a true book junkie.  It goes along with my main learning style, which is visual, and so when I have a problem or question, the first thing I’ll do is find a book about it and read to learn.  I thought, because I love the feel and smell of real books, that I would never get an e-reader, but I did cave and get a Nook to go overseas.  And I love that too, although when I have a book I need to really chew on, I use multi-colored highlighters in a real book!
  4. I think in images.  This is why my recent return to art has been so profoundly satisfying for me.  I’ve always been one to speak and write metaphorically about things, and come up with imagery to explain my feelings.  For example, in my work as a classical voice teacher I’m more likely to describe a sound I want my student to produce with a mental image, than with physiology.  Or when my husband asks how getting some art time makes me feel I tell him it’s like a “dry sponge that is immersed in a vast ocean and immediately swells with life.”  This is just normal for me.  My husband thinks it’s a bit weird.
  5. I am a true introvert.  If you were my neighbor, you’d know that I don’t often socialize (I feel badly about that sometimes.)  I love to be around a friend or two at a time and share deeply, and I love spending time with my family.
  6. I treasure friendship.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t feel understood, had no really close friends to share with deeply.  I had moved and was in the midst of creating this beautiful family I have with a husband who was trying to establish himself in his career.  It was a lonely place.  So therefore I do not take for granted those amazing women who give of themselves, and share their hearts and lives with me.
  7. I sometimes don’t want to homeschool anymore.  Yes, I have those bad days too, which is why it’s so important to have a back up plan.  But I believe so completely that it’s right for our family, and our children are thriving in this learning environment, so I have no real intentions of quitting, it’s just important to be honest about the fact that sometimes it’s tough.
  8. Sometimes I love homeschooling so much I want to convince everyone else to do it.  Just so you know how normal it is to vacillate dramatically between feelings of drudgery and the euphoria, I had to add this one.  And I can be obnoxious, on these days, in my gushing about how much I love it.
  9. I am a woman of highs and lows.  If numbers 7 and 8 didn’t give you a clue, here’s a newsflash: there is no “vanilla” with me.  I run hot or cold, with rarely any in-betweens.  This is also something I’ve come to accept as I’ve gotten older.  I feel things deeply, for good and bad, and sometimes am so whacked out of balance I need to pull back and just be alone.
  10. I’ll be 39 this week.   Ack!!  What should I do for the remainder of my waning journey to the big 4-0?  I need some way to chronicle this next year and make it a good one.  Any suggestions?

So, dear readers…what should I know about you?

Top Ten Tuesday

Visit Angie and link up your Top Ten for the week!

And hop on over to Today’s Housewife to read my guest post on Art Journaling!

Art Journal- Hopes and Dreams

“Hopes and Dreams”

Shakespeare {for the first time}

Peter Paul Rubens- Julius Caesar

Shakespeare with my twelve-year-old

I admit it.  I was a bit apprehensive about choosing and reading our first Shakespeare play.

I knew my son was ready this year.  His love for books and language is well-established and his reading level is excellent.  This past year has seen him read many more classics than years past, and retain and enjoy them all.  He read (and we discussed) Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes, and the Tripod Trilogy, just to name a few.  We’ve been studying ancient history, and when we came upon the wonder, power, and subsequent demise of ancient Rome, I knew we had to read Julius Caesar.

So we jumped in with both feet.

I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I planned on having him notebook through it a bit, read it aloud with me, study the characters and history.  Mostly, however, my goal was for him to enjoy it.  And now that we’re well into the third act, I am thrilled to say that our experience has been wonderful and that the drama has captured us both.

How I introduced Shakespeare to my middle schooler

  • We reviewed the history– we’d already been going through the Story of the World, complete with my son writing outlines and filling in his timeline, so we discussed what he’d learned so far.
  • We researched Shakespeare’s life- I used this flip book as an easy introduction, and looked up a bit more online.
  • We read a brief synopsis– We used Pink Monkey Notes (free online notes similar to Cliff’s) and read about the characters as well.  I learned about this website from Susan Wise Bauer this year at our homeschool convention and it has been an awesome resource!
  • I assigned a notebooking page on vocabulary, and also a compare/contrast paper- The vocabulary assignment was with words such as plot, protagonist, antagonist, climax, and theme, basics about a play’s structure.  The compare/contrast paper was between two characters of my son’s choice.  He settled on Brutus and Cassius and came up with some great thoughts, including quotes that supported his ideas.
  • We started reading– We each had a character or two per scene and read as dramatically as we could.  I often would stop and ask what Colin thought of the passage, or a specific line, to see how he was responding.  I think we did a good job in the drama department.  At one point my 5-year-old looked up with a frightened look on his face and said we should be reading something about people who are nice to each other.
  • We supplemented with notes about each scene- Pink Monkey Notes again.  There is a detailed synopsis with cultural and literary notes on every scene.
  • I kept it simple- What I did not want to do is overwhelm.  I wanted us to experience the text, the rich language, and the story together without weighing ourselves down with lots of busy work.

Shakespeare resources for children

  • I gained a lot of confidence and suggestions from this lens on Squidoo by Jimmie; it is chock full of great ideas and links.
  • I also have loved using my Notebooking Pages membership to supplement the play itself.  This site has thousands of pages available to meet any need you may have.  It would be a fabulous addition to any type of curriculum this year!
    Basic lined notebooking pages
  • This post from Lauren has some printables about Julius Caesar for younger children, in case you want to include them in your reading.
  • Before we ever read a real Shakespeare play, we had read aloud a couple of the stories from Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb.  It is very well-written and retains a lot of the integrity of the language while making sure it’s accessible for children.
  • This Shakespeare Can Be Fun series is also a great way to introduce the stories of Shakespeare’s plays with fun drawings by children.

 When do you plan on introducing the Bard to your children?  Or have you already?  Do tell!  I’d love to hear your experience!

 

This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure Page for more information.

5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop day 4}

5 Days of Family Games www.fruitinseasonblog.com/

Favorite Family Games {www.fruitinseasonblog.com}

I’m so glad you’ve joined me as I share our family’s favorite games!

Day 1: {Kinesthetic Games}
Day 2: {Math and Language Games}
Day 3: {Games of Strategy}

Sometimes what we need is a quick and easy card game.  They are transportable, usually simple to learn, and inexpensive.  We have a number of favorite card games that stay out at all times, ready to be picked up by the kids on a school break, or weekend morning.  A regular deck of cards can yield dozens of fun games (I’m a big solitaire fan myself), but there are other less traditional games that provide tons of fun as well.

Great family card games

  1. Spot It- This is one of those afterthought cheapy games that I picked up on a random trip to Target.  I think it was a stocking stuffer.  The idea is simple and it’s a fast-paced game that keeps little ones and big ones alike equally interested.  Each circular card has 8 images on it, and each pair of cards shares one, and only one, image.  Your job is to identify what matches.  There are a number of mini-games, each with a different objective, and this little game takes no time at all to play.
  2. Slamwich- There are many types of sandwich fillings in this vicious little game.  As the name suggests, depending on what card is played, players “slam” their hands down to claim matches and take the pile.  We’ve had quite a few “ouchies” but also a ton of laughs playing this one!
    Card Games {5 Days of Family Games}
  3. Phase 10 This game takes longer to play than the others in my list, but it is one of my favorites.  The age range is a bit older, due to the attention span required, but I definitely think it’s worth it to have around the house.  The game is easy to learn: there are ten phases (a phase being a specified group of cards) to pass throughout the game, and the first to pass all 10 in order wins the game.  Yet it’s not quite that simple.  Multiple people pass phases at the same time, and you keep points for the cards you have left after each hand is done.  It’s a fun evening activity for adults and older kids alike.
  4. Uno Attack and Uno Roboto We were big Uno players when I was growing up.  Of course, then it was only the basic game, and while that’s still fun, we love some of the extension games in our family.  Uno Attack has a nifty little contraption that spits cards at you on occasion (from 2 to 7 cards) when you press the button, making getting rid of your cards a bit more difficult.  Uno Roboto has a cute little robot that tells you what to do, shouts out random tasks on occasion, and says things like, “I like the way you look.  Go again!”  It records each player saying her name and distorts the voice, making it silly and perfect for the younger members of your family. Both of these games can be played with up to six people.
  5. Monopoly Deal- I mentioned my love for Monopoly in the Day 1 post.  But, let’s face it, Monopoly can take forever, even with the “quick play” rules.  Monopoly Deal takes some of the best competitive elements of the game and provides a 15-20 minute game.  The goal is to lay out three full sets (the same sets in the traditional Monopoly) before your opponents do, but there are barriers to overcome: keeping enough money in your bank to pay penalties your opponents choose; making sure no one steals your cards; and simply the luck of the draw.  We just taught our 5-year-old the rules of the game, and while he’s not up on the strategy of his moves yet, he enjoys the fast pace.

Only one day left!  And tomorrow I’ll share some really fun ones!

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5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop Day 3}

 

5 Days of Family Games www.fruitinseasonblog.com/

Welcome back to 5 Days of Great Family Games!

Day 1: {Kinesthetic Games}
Day 2: {Math and Language Games} 

Games of strategy and logic for the whole family

I love good strategy games.  They are also some of the most well-loved games in our home, especially for our boys.  There are so many educational benefits to logic and strategy games, such as critical thinking skills, improved concentration and attention, and math skills, to name a few.  We make them a regular part of our week and often begin a school day with a game or two.

  1. Chess– When I was three years old, my dad taught me to play chess.  Unlike other parents teaching difficult games to young, precocious children, he didn’t let me win.  Finally, when I started having nightmares about losing, my mom convinced him to go easier on me.  And yes, with that background it’s no wonder I’m still competitive, but I now have a twelve-year-old that can sometimes beat me.  Chess is a staple in our home (even the 5-year-old is pretty good), and it is probably taken out at least a couple of times a day for a quick game.
  2. Guess Who?– This is also a two person game, but one that is shorter and easier.  The two game boards are filled with pictures of various people, with different physical characteristics.  Your job is to guess the character your opponent has before he guesses yours, by asking key yes-or-no questions.  For example, if you ask, “Does your person have brown hair?” and the answer is “no” then you can rule out all of the brown-haired people.  It’s a great introduction to logical thinking.
  3. Castle Keep- This simple-to-learn building game challenges players to either build onto a castle of their own, or tear down an opponent’s castle with each turn.  It’s not always the easiest choice to make!  You can win with either action, so foresight and strategy is needed.  The little pieces/cards are pleasing to the eye and the perfect size for little hands.
  4. Stratego-  This knights and dragons fantasy game is a two player game that requires players to set up their pieces in a very well-thought-out and strategic way in order to protect their “flag”.  Our boys love this game, and they’ve improved so much in their thinking skills simply by coming up with ways to better set up their pieces, not to mention the actual movement of the pieces to attack and defend.  There are differing levels of play, the most elaborate of which has each piece performing special powers and actions.  I get confused, but the kids love it!
    Stratego- 5 Days of Family Games
  5. Professor Layton- My oldest son has recently become enamored with these Nintendo DS critical thinking puzzle games.  Even though they are single player games, I included this series because of the great skill-building they achieve.  The virtual world of Professor Layton challenges the player to solve mysteries along with the professor by finding and completing logic puzzles.  I’ve played these myself on occasion and they are definitely brain-busting!
  6. Settlers of Catan- This game, which we’ve had since Christmas of last year, is definitely my new favorite strategy game.  I love the challenge of choosing your areas to settle down and building an empire by trading and making wise choices with your resources.  It’s a great tangential lesson in supply-and-demand economics too!  This game is very involved, but our five- and six-year-olds can play with some help, or at least be on someone’s “team”.  The game is for 3-4 players in its original form and takes up to an hour and a half to play.  You can purchase extension sets to play with up to six players and there are more ways to add to Catan with differently-themed expansion sets as well.

What are your favorite strategy games?

 

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5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop Day 2}

5 Days of Family Games www.fruitinseasonblog.com/

In our homeschool we play a lot of games.  Games have the unique ability to make learning both fun and painless.  If you ever need instruction on a particukar game, you can find detailed videos on the Movie Box App. There are so many math and language games to choose from that we could easily play games all day to learn the basics!  Here are some of our favorites:

 Great math games for the whole family

  1. Dino Dice- This game was purchased on a whim from Rainbow Resource one Christmas for a stocking stuffer.  I believe it was only five dollars and easily snags the “best-bang-for-your-buck” title.  The objective is simple: you want to roll “herds” of herbivores to earn points, and need to avoid rolling the T-rex so it doesn’t eat any of the more docile dinosaurs, thus eating your points as well.  We have used this game to help with mental math, and it’s so fun and quick the kids don’t even notice I’m using it to sneak some serious math skills in there.  I also love that it doesn’t have a maximum number of players, something that is hard to find with all of the games out there that require “2-4 players”.
    Dino Dice math game
  2. Battleship- A classic game that is a winner in our house of boys (and even my daughter likes it).  Anytime the kids can sink, kill, maim, destroy or otherwise pulverize their opponents, I’m guaranteed a game that will last.  Battleship is the perfect, easy way to teach basic Cartesian graphing.
  3. Blokus This game is in my top three, and perhaps is in my favorites list because I always win.  Each player has a set of tetris-like pieces that must be fit onto the game board, and must simultaneously block opponents and spread her own influence across the board [insert evil laugh here].  The only drawback to this awesome game of spatial skills, is that our family of six can’t all play together.
  4. Farkle Party- Another fun dice game, Farkle Party has six sets of dice, making it a great game for our family to play all together.  Simply put, players roll the dice to earn points and win the game.  The basics give way to a bit of strategy and a fair amount of luck, as you learn the more intricate rules of the game.  This is one we play often!
    Farkle Party Dice Game
  5. Trifecta This little free app is a great way to have the kids practice facts to 12 when you’re out and about and they are getting on your nerves you need to kill a few minutes.  My friend Mary introduced me to this game, and I even enjoy playing it on occasion.  To play, you roll virtual dice and then tap on tiles (numbered 1-9) that add up to what you rolled in order to make them disappear.  There are 27 tiles in all and your goal is to get to zero (something I finally accomplished last week for the first time!)  While you can’t play together, the game is quick enough to take turns and get a competition going.

Great language games for the whole family

  1. Green Alligator This little gem has been a great way to include little ones in our games, and is excellent for working on skills of description, and verbal processing.  Each card has a picture of an everyday object or action.  The player looks at the card and describes the object or action without using the word itself so that the other player can guess it.  Whoever has the most cards at the end wins, but we usually do not play with a winner, choosing to play cooperatively instead.
  2. Apples to Apples I love this game!  We have the kids and junior versions, and will probably invest in the regular edition at some point as well.  It can be played with the whole family (and there are not many games out there for more than 4 players) as soon as the youngest can read a bit.  There are two types of cards- adjective cards, and noun cards.  The “judge” chooses an adjective card to share with the group, and each other player then has to give the card in his hand that he feels matches the adjective.  The judge reads the cards aloud and chooses the one he likes best.  Laughter is sure to ensue, especially when you have a preteen whose only goal as judge is to choose the card that doesn’t fit in the slightest.
  3. Bananagrams- This little game has pleasing scrabble-like tiles that go “chinkchinkchink” in the bag (am I weird that I like that so much??)  But I even like it apart from the happy noise it makes.  Your goal in this game is to build an independent crossword puzzle structure (unlike Scrabble where you add to a joint structure) and use up your tiles first to win.  It is a great game for younger players and early readers, since they can use simple words and not worry about what words others are using.
    Bananagrams

Do you use games in your homeschool?  What are some favorites for math and language?

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