Back to school time can feel a bit awkward for homeschoolers. Personally, I love seeing all the pictures my friends are posting online of their sweet children on the first day of school and the excited posts from my school teacher friends about the anticipation of a new year. The start of a new school year is a big milestone for many.
Though we homeschool year round, I usually make a point of recognizing a new beginning this time of year. We’ve gone to “not back to school” picnics. We’ve taken special field trips. We always take a picture on the first day of public school. It’s always good to mark milestones as they come.
But to be honest, sometimes it feels wrong to share our excitement. It feels like I am saying “What we’re doing is better than what you’re doing.” But that’s not it. What I want to express is this: What we’re doing works for us. We enjoy it. We want to celebrate it.
I am blessed to know several school teachers. My kids would be lucky to learn from any of them. I am so glad that there are people like them in schools across the world teaching our youth. I know that sometimes, people feel like homeschoolers are anti-teacher. I am not. I don’t actually know any homeschoolers who are. There are good and bad teachers, just like any other profession, but I feel like most teachers are in it for all the right reasons. What they do is admirable.
And I know so many moms who would love to homeschool, but can’t for whatever reason. Or parents who just do not want to homeschool, ever. It does not matter to me. All I care about is that kids are getting the best education they can in whatever form works for their families. If your kid loves public school or you found an amazing arts charter or you’ve found a way to pay for a great private school for your child – whatever your choice is, if it is working for you, I am happy for you.
I am not against schools. I don’t look down on other parents for doing what is right for their own family. I support whatever choice you make for your kids.
I just ask for the same support. It gets old feeling like I have qualify our educational choices all the time. “Well we homeschool because….” Because if I give a reason that can’t apply to you, maybe I won’t offend you. But in the end, we’re doing what works for us. I can list of dozens of reasons why it works for us, but that’s really not the point. My kids are thriving in a way I don’t think they would in another educational setting.
I am going to keep celebrating their education. I hope you do the same, no matter where your kids learn.
It can be hard to motivate kids to write. It can be even harder in summer when it’s sunny out and there are so many fun distractions. I put together this list of writing prompts to help motivate kids to keep writing all summer long.
1. You return home to find a package on your bed. Your parents don’t know how it got there. You open it to find…
2. You are on vacation at a cabin on a lake with your family. One day, you get up early to go swim by yourself in the lake. As you approach the shore you see what appears to be a sea monster come to the surface of the water across the lake. You gasp and then…
3.The familiar sound of the ice cream truck rises to your ears. You run outside to buy ice cream and find that this truck does not sell ice cream. This driver is selling…
4. Your dad takes you to the pool on a hot day. When you get there, instead of water, it is filled with Jello. What do you do?
5.You are off to Camp Flaming Arrow! You are excited for your first overnight camp, but when you get there, you begin to suspect that all of your camp councilors are actually ware wolves. What do you do?
6. A postcard arrives in the mail, addressed to you. On the front is a picture of a sunny beach. On the back, is a note, signed by you. You’ve never been to the beach. What do you do?
7. One day, you are swimming in the river with your friend, Dave. Dave sees something in the forest nearby. He says it’s a gnome and runs off into the woods. Do you follow him? What do you find?
8. It’s 100 degrees out. You are hot and sweaty and your air conditioner broke. Your mom brings you a popsicle to help cool down. Your dog looks at you and says “Hey! What about me? I’ve got a fur coat! Don’t you think I’d like a cool treat?!” What do you do?
9. One evening, you are catching fireflies in jar in your backyard. You take them inside to observe them. You realize that one of the glowing creatures is not a firefly, but a fairy! What do you do?
10. Your best friend calls and asks if you can come to a sleepover at her house. When you get there, she says she has a special guest. The guest is an alien from outer space! What happens next?
11. A large, white owl flies up to your house. It has a package in its talons. It drops it on your lap and perches in a nearby tree. What do you find when you open the package?
12. You take a trip to the museum with your family. Somehow, you lose sight of them. You walk down a long hallway and see a door that seems to be glowing. A sign on in says “Keep Out,” but you can’t resist. What do you find when you open the door?
13. You return home from a day at camp to find a “For Sale” sign on your house. Your parents tell you that you are moving to China. What do you do?
14. On a bike ride to the park, you something moving in the bushes off the side of the road. You stop to investigate and find…
15. It’s the 4th of July! Your family takes you to a fireworks show. It’s the most amazing display of fireworks you’ve ever seen. You decide you want to get closer to see the fireworks being set off and you find that there are no fireworks at all. It’s actually a group of wizards sending beautiful designs into the sky with their wands! What do you do?
History is filled with amazing women. I believe this so thoroughly that it’s the basis of my book series. The more research I’ve done, the more I am overwhelmed with some of these wonderful, world changing women. Some I was familiar with before I started researching and some previously unknown to me, and many others.
I think it is so very important for our kids, boys and girls alike, to learn about the amazing things women have done throughout history. It’s hard for today’s kids to fully contemplate how far women have come in a few generations. I think if they learn from the past, their future will only be brighter.
Summer is a great time for a fun mini-unit of historical woman. Whether you traditionally school or homeschool, it’s always good to make sure the kids keep learning all year long. I’ve provided information about 10 amazing women and links to learn more.
Image by H. J. Myers – http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004680180/ (Library of Congress), retouched version, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=478182
I knew nothing about Nellie Bly until about 18 months ago. I was so inspired by her that she is featured heavily in the 2nd book in the Nellie Nova series. (Estimated release date 12/2016)
Nellie Bly was not actually her real name, but a pen name. She was born Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. She was a journalistic pioneer not only because she was a woman, but also because she pretty much invented investigative reporting. She turned the world of journalism upside down when she pretended to be insane to to an investigation of a Blackwell Island’s Lunatic Asylum. She spent ten days living as if she were insane so that she could see the dark side of the care of mentally ill patients. Her reporting in The New York World caused a $1,000,0000 increase in New York City’s budget for the care of the mentally ill.
Later, she made an incredible journey around the world in just 72 days. And all she took with her was the small bag you see in the photo above.
Find out more about Nellie Bly here.
Or check out this book!
By Copyright by Underwood and Underwood (not renewed)
My first book, “Nellie Nova Takes Flight”is about a young girl’s journey to build a time machine to meet Amelia Earhart. So you can probably guess that I think Amelia was a pretty amazing woman. Most of us know that she was a pilot. Many think she was the first female pilot. That’s not quite true. Amelia was the 16th woman to obtain her pilots licence. What Amelia did, however was break many records for altitude and speed. She was the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic. She was a wonderful example of a woman bravely stepping into a role traditionally filled by men.
Amelia Earhart disappeared on an attempted flight around the world. Neither Amelia nor her navigator, Fred Noonan, were ever found.
Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.- Amelia Earhart
Read more about Amelia:
Or try this book.
Learn while reading a fictional tale about Amelia here.
By Margaret Sarah Carpenter – object page. Original upload was at English wikipedia at en:File:Ada_Lovelace.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=354077
Did you know the person known to be the first computer programmer was a woman from the mid-1800s?! I didn’t until I started looking into Ada Lovelace.
She was the child of the poet George Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke. Her mother was a mathematician and insisted she started studying math at the age of four. This was highly uncommon for the time. She excelled in math and science and at the age of 17 she met Charles Babbage, a met inventor and mathematician. She had the opportunity to watch him demonstrate a model of his difference engine, a huge mathematical calculating machine. This machine led to him earning the title“father of the computer.” While working with Babbage, Lovelace wrote out an algorithm clearly meant to be completed by a machine. During her time, her brilliance was not really recognized. It took many years for people to find her notes and realize that she’d written the first computer program.
By U.S. Congress – http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Jeannette_Rankin.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2153200
Jeanette Rankin was another happy surprise during my research. I’d never heard of her until recently, but I am so very impressed. She became the first woman to serve in the US congress in 1916. What makes this even more amazing is that is before women in the US had even gained the right to vote! But Jeanette (and many other amazing women) made sure to fight for women’s rights and the 19th amendment was passed in 1920. Though she only served two years in congress, she continued to work hard an activist. In addition to her passion for women’s suffrage, Rankin was also a pacifist and shortly after her term ended, she served as a delegate to the Women’s International Conference for Peace. She returned to politics when she was elected to House of Representatives in 1939 on an anit-war platform. She held her ground even after the Pearl Harbor attacks, voting against entering WW2. Rankin served until 1943.
By http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/photographs/vips.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3530165
Wait, wasn’t Audrey Hepburn just another pretty actress? No. She was so much more than just pretty! Audrey Hepburn was an amazing humanitarian. She lived in Belgium as a child, but her family moved to Holland when the Nazis began invading much of Europe in WW2. Though her parents were Nazi sympathizers, Audrey secretly donated money she earned as a ballerina to the Resistance. Hepburn later she retired from acting become a Special Ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund.”There is a moral obligation,that those who have should give to those who don’t,” she said of her work with UNICEF. Hepburn truly was more than pretty.
To find out more here
or check out this book.
By Nobel foundation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Born Maria Sklodowska in Poland in 1867, Marie was the daughter of two schoolteachers. She always loved learning. She later attended Sorbonne University in Paris where she studied physics and mathematics. In was in Paris that she met and later married scientist Pierre Curie and started going by Marie instead of Maria. They began working together and earned a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. She was the first She was the first woman to receive this honor. After Pierre died in 1906, she took over his position at Sorbonne. She went on to receive a 2nd Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry in 1911. Marie showed that women have a place in science.
“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie
7. Mother Teresa
By Manfredo Ferrari – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35010569
Mother Teresa was born Uskub, Ottoman Empire in 1910 (now called Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia). Her name was originally Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Her father died when she was raised by her mother, a devout Catholic. She decided at a young age that she would become a nun. Her focus became India and she devoted much of her life to serving the population of Calcutta. She dedicated herself to the lepers, the poor and the homeless. She won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. The recipient of this award normally has a banquet hosted in their honor. Mother Teresa asked that the money be donated to the poor. In 1982, during the Siege of Beirut, she saved 37 kids who were trapped in a burning hospital. She created a ceasefire and traveled into the war zone with Red Cross workers to rescue the children. Mother Teresa continued to serve those in need even as her health was in decline. She stepped down only a few months before her death in 1997. Mother Teresa will be made a saint later this year.
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”- Mother Teresa
By Leonard Crunelle (1872-1944) sculptor, photographer Hans Andersen (Own work for the photo.) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sacagawea is another woman who be featured in the 2nd installment of the Nellie Nova story. She was a Shoshone woman born in 1778 in Idaho. She was the daughter of the chief and was kidnapped at a young age by Hidatsa Indians. She was later sold as a slave to the man who would become her husband, Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader. Inspite of her hard upbringing, Sacagawea turned out to make quite an impact on history. She and her husband joined the Lewis and Clark expedition and she made the journey with her infant son on her back. She was valuable to the expedition as an interrupter with Native American tribes they encountered as well as for her knowledge of the landscape and safe foods t eat in the American West. She was so dedicated that when the travelers happened upon her own brother, she opted to stay with the expedition and was part of the team that made it to the Pacific.
Not much is truly known about her life, but what is clear is that Sacagawea was a brave woman who made an impact on history.
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6053610
Known as the female Paul Revere, Sybil Ludington is not nearly as commonly known as Mr. Revere. She was born in 1761 in Patterson, New York. She was the daughter of Abigail and Colonel Henry Ludington. At the age of 16, she made a similar ride to that of Mr. Revere -but her ride was longer. On April 26, 1777, her father received word that the British were to attack Danbury, CT,which was about 25 miles away. She rode 40 miles in the rain, shouting for troops to assemble at her father’s home. When she returned, over 400 soldiers had arrived, ready to fight. Later, President George Washington (then General) recognized her efforts. She continued to serve as a messenger throughout the war.
10. Rosa Parks
By Unknown – USIA / National Archives and Records Administration Records of the U.S. Information Agency Record Group 306, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4344206
Last, but certainly not least, is Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white person on December 1, 1955. She was arrested for this act of defiance. This began a boycott of the Montgomery public buses by African American people. The boycott was lead by non other than Doctor Martian Luther King, Junior.After 381 days, the supreme court ruled that public buses could not be segregated. But Rosa did a lot more than just refuse to stand.She went on to Serve as the secretary of the NAACP, found the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development and author two books. She was given the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor by President Clinton. The mother of the civil rights movement died in 2005, but her impact lives on still today.
I hope you learned something new about these great women. I hope this can be a starting point for a great study of women in history with your kids.
I am preparing to take “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” on tour! As this is my first book and first book tour, this is a new experience for me. I will be heading to the Dallas, TX area in early March. I am just a little excited. Or a lot.
So are the kids.
I am taking them with me. As a homeschooling mom of three, I don’t have a lot of options other than to take them with me. Thankfully, I picked Dallas as a destination because we lived there for almost six years. We have friends there who will help me out during events. That will make our trip so much easier. This trip is basically a trial run to see if I can handle touring with the book to other destinations with my sweet little brood tagging along.
My kids are great travelers. We’ve done a lot of road trips with them. We’ve had a lot of fun and learned so much that can’t be learned at home or in a classroom. It’a one thing to read about dolphins. It’s another thing all together to watch them jump and play in the Gulf of Mexico. But where there’s lots of driving, there’s often antsy kids. And when kids are away from their routine, be it homeschool or traditional schooling, a lot of parents get anxious about learning. I thought I would put this post full of tips together to help remind myself of all of the great experiences we’ve had on the road and to help other families as they embark on their own adventures.
Stephenie’s Tips For Keeping Learning Alive and Keeping Parents Sane on the Road:
Two of my three kids are great readers. They will happily read for hours, at home or on the road. We always bring stacks and stacks of books with us on the road. If you are worried about keeping up a school schedule, this can be a great way to keep up on assigned reading. We usually bring books they’ve chosen as well as some that relate to our destination. On our last few trips, we’ve added audiobooks as well. There is something wonderful about audiobooks. They keep everyone happy and engaged and as a bonus, their eyes are free to take in all the changing scenery. We’ve been going through the “Harry Potter” series on car trips and I enjoy that as I am also a huge fan of the books. It makes the time pass by more quickly for the parents as well as the kids.
If you will encounter geological features vastly different from those in your hometown as you drive, this is a wonderful time to discuss and explore geology. The depth of this discussion will obviously vary based on the ages of your kids, but if you are going to be passing somewhere like Mount Saint Helens or the Grand Canyon, you can learn a ton!
Whatever your natural surroundings may be, take time to stop and explore. First off, as much as you may want to get to your destination as quickly as possible, your kids will be happier if you stop and stretch your legs from time to time. Also, kids can benefit a ton from nature study. We always bring nature journals with us on the road. That way they can make observations about the world around them on a short hike. Younger kids may just doodle, but older kids can take notes on animals they encounter, plants they want to identify later, or tracks they find in the dirt. And did I mention they can get out some pent up energy? Because that matters on a a long trip. A lot.
If you pass a battleground, get out of the car and explore. Go slightly off course if it will make a trip to a great art museum possible. Get out of the car and enjoy new areas as you pass through them. There’s always something to learn if you just look for it.
While driving and when you get to your final destination, don’t forget that it’s okay to relax! You don’t have to schedule every moment. You and your kids will be happier and more open to learning if there’s time for fun as well!
I hope these tips help you enjoy a roadschooling adventure! I can’t wait to get on the road for my “Nellie Nova” tour with my sweet little assistants by my side.
After yesterday’s post, I thought it would be fun to share more writing prompts. If you have a reluctant writer who loves fantasy, check these out! I hope you enjoy them!
1. You wake up one morning and find that unicorns have taken residence in your backyard. What do you do?
2. You follow a rainbow to the end. What do you find?
3. Your cat speaks one morning and tells you that she is really a girl who had a spell put on her by an evil witch. What do you do? How do you help your cat?
4. On a trip to the beach, you meet a young mermaid named Coral. She invites you to visit her undersea home. Do you go with her? If you go, what do you see. If not, why not?
5. You’re given a magic paintbrush. Anything you paint will come to life! What do you paint? What happens?
6. On a hike with your two best friends, you decide to explore a cave. Inside the cave, you find a dragon! What do you do?
7. Your Great Aunt Matilda has a large collection of garden gnomes. You begin to suspect that they are actually alive when one throws a pebble at your little brother. What happens next?
8. A huge storm hits your town. Thunder and lighting rage for hours. A bolt of lightning hits your local library and inexplicably brings your favorite literary character to life. Who is it and what do you do together?
9. You think that your piano teacher is actually a wizard. Your suspicions are confirmed when he puts a spell on you for not practicing! He shrinks you to the size of an ant for two hours. What do you do?
10. One day, you wake up to find that you have wings! Where do you fly?
11. At a birthday party, the hired magician accidentally turns the birthday boy (your best friend!!) into a toad! What do you do?
12. You little sister tells you that she thinks your father is a ware wolf. What do you do?
13. You hear beautiful music coming from your garage every night at midnight. What do you find when you get brave enough to explore?
14. One day, the fish in your fish tank start talking to you. What do they tell you?
15. While playing in the forest behind your home, you find a village of fairies. Do you approach them? What do you learn about these tiny creatures?