Archive for Homeschooling

Heat confirmation via flip flops cuz the thermometer and hygrometer sure didn’t do it!

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Living in a city where we have to actually haul snow in from foreign lands to have the fulfillment of creating a snowman easily lends to the fact that summer comes quickly and intensely. Although we had one of the coldest winters on record, April finds us well into the 90s. Now, that’s official flip flop weather, if you ask me! Of course, those who visit from out of town would say that even our winter weather justifies the wearing of flip flops and shorts. These “out-of-towners” are easily identifiable, much like those who wield their umbrella at the strange wet droplets that so rarely fall from the portion of the sky God lent us.

Our state is full of the kind of parents that send their children out barefoot and fancy free in the midst of the liquid phenomenon. In fact, I can’t remember every seeing a drawn face propped by dejected limbs that wasn’t allowed to play on a rainy day. I never had a friend who perished from dancing in the rain. In fact, here’s a photo of two survivors who are alive and kickin’ today. That one on the right is pretty darn cute, too – good thing I married him before any of the other survivors snagged him up!

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As a school project about weather in the desert, we made a couple homemade weather devices…of course neither has registered one iota. That’s 100%…failure. The first is a thermometer made out of a straw, colored water, sculpy to seal the bottle and a bottle. The index card is simply for marking the liquid as it climbs and falls in the straw – of course, nothing has changed. Now, as I mentioned, we were in the 90s today which should have more than registered up this straw. I am thinking the problem may be that my bottle is glass instead of plastic. Perhaps we’ll change it out tomorrow and see what happens.

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The second project is a hygrometer. It is used to measure the moisture in the air. Naturally, this would be pretty much nothing in our state, but the gauge refuses to change. You set the meter by placing the contraption in the bathroom while you shower. It is built with a box, a needle, a penny, an index card, a paperclip and a strand of hair. The hair stretches from the humidity of the shower and is assumed to be at 10 on the gauge, or maximum humidity. You then set the hygrometer outside and the hair should tighten up as it dries out. Well, it didn’t.

I am assuming a few things could have gone astray. Perhaps one strand of my baby fine hair simply wasn’t strong enough to move the needle. Perhaps the needle is too thick and heavy to move at all. Perhaps it’s all a farce and someone is getting a kick outta reading about how people actually believe these things could work at all. At least if it were the last one someone would get a laugh out of this mess!

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An Apple a day – or two or three or four

Aside from the fact that most any techie will claim that Apple is the best (and ONLY) option for their computer, they also offer a ton of great educational resources on their websites for regular people like us! Also, keep in mind that Apple will give homeschoolers/educators a 10% discount on the purchase of a new mac if you simply bring in a book or two that represents your curriculum. We brought in a Weaver volume. Now, back to their website! Their website is multimedia and nearly every link will include video streaming of some sort. Be forgiving if it looks a bit like a Milly Vanilly (how do you spell that anyway?) video because the lips don’t line up with the words, you will benefit richly.

Check out theirDigital Documentaries, The Case of the Zany Animal Antics, Rocket to the Stars, KokoTV, The Case of the Prize-Winning Plants, orThe Case of the “Wright” Invention.

Or check out their Lesson Ideas categorized by grade levels and then further by subject:Primary, Intermediate, Middle School, and High School. These are great for teachers! Check out topics like Funky Fables and Fairy Tales, Poetry in Motion, How Does Electricity Work?, The Life of a Veteran, or Physics Day at a Theme Park.

The other feature I love on their site is the Virtual Field Trip link , The Holocaust Museum Experience: Exploring Daily Decision-Making, Into the Canyon, African Voices, Hydropower: Using a River to Create Energy, Lewis and Clark Then and Now: The Power of Journaling, and Slide Into History: The Story of Baseball and America.

You will see that these are not only interesting and thought-provoking media presentations, but that they often incorporate children as the presenters and they also offer actual lesson plan ideas to accompany the videos. There are online tutorials according to grade level application, or simply as an overview of the site as a whole on the upper right hand side of their main page for those of you who don’t necessarily fly by the seat of your pants like me!

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I didn’t know THEY were homeschooled

With school back in session I thought this to be a very appropriate post.  Our oldest had a great week – must have been a well deserved Christmas break she was enjoying!

Do you know what Sandra Day O’ Connor, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Edison, Pearl S. Buck, C.S. Lewis, Albert Schweitzer, Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell, George Washington Carver, and Cyrus McCormick have in common?

They were all homeschooled either for a period of time or for the duration of their schooling!


One of two thoughts probably just ran through your mind if you’re a homeschooler…

Encouragement: “Wow! I KNEW I made the right decision to homeschool. He/She really CAN become anything they want to be.”


Inferiority: “What was I thinking?! I don’t even know who half of these ‘prominent people’ are.”


Just a few tidbits…


Sandra Day O’Connor: Homeschooled at the family cattle ranch in Duncan, Arizona. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.


Woodrow Wilson: Born in Virginia in 1856, he graduated from Princeton (then known as the College of New Jersey) and the University of Virginia Law School, followed by a doctorate at Johns Hopkins University. He was our 28th President.


Franklin Roosevelt: Born in New York in 1882, he attended Harvard and Columbia Law School. He was our 32nd President.


George Washington: Born in 1732 in Virginia, he became our first President on April 30, 1789. “As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent,” he wrote James Madison, “it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles.”


Abraham Lincoln: Born in 1809 in Kentucky, he declared forever free the slaves within the Confederacy on January 1, 1863. He was the 16th President.


John Quincy Adams: Born in 1767 in Massachusett, he graduated from Harvard College. He was our sixth President.


Thomas Edison: Born in 1847 in Ohio, he was removed from school by his mother at age seven after she learned of his teacher’s dislike for his behavior problems (probably diagnosed as ADHD today). He invented the incandescent electric light and the electric lighting system that made it practical, safe and economical. He said, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”


Pearl S. Buck: Born in 1892 in West Virginia, she graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1910. She established the first international, inter-racial adoption agency, and called it Welcome House.


C.S. Lewis: Born in 1898 in Northern Ireland, he was arguably the most influential Christian writer of his day. A few of the books he authored are The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, The Four Loves, The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity.


Albert Schweitzer: Born in 1875, he was known as a humanitarian, theologian, missionary, organist, and medical doctor. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.


Mark Twain: Born in 1835, he published more than 30 books, hundreds of short stories and essays and gave lectures around the world. He penned such books as The Innocents Abroad, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Diary of Adam & Eve.


Alexander Graham Bell: Born in 1847 in Scotland, he invented the telephone at the age of 29. He began experimenting with propellers and the challenge of flight in the 1890s and he contributed to the production of four powered aircraft of his own by 1909.

George Washington Carver: Born in 1864 in Missouri, he was kidnapped as a child by the Confederate night-raiders but found and reclaimed by his father after the war. He was an agricultural chemist who discovered more than 300 uses for peanuts, and hundreds more for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes.


Cyrus McCormick: Born in 1809 in Virginia, his goal was to earn a million dollars when the average worker earned a nickel an hour. By age 50 he had done just that by inventing the reaper. His company became the International Harvester Company in 1902.




Well, I learned a lot just putting this post together! Does your daughter love to yack on the phone? Assign a report on Alexander Graham Bell. Is your son an aspiring entrepeneur? Have him check out Cyrus McCormick, who attained wealth but also gave it away. Does your child love to eat like mine? Have her do a report on George Washington Carver who had his hand in a lot of yummy inventions! Is your child struggling through behavioral problems? Encourage them with a report on Thomas Edison. Is your child a born leader? Direct them to investigate George Washington’s integrity. Here’s your chance to assign a report that they may actually enjoy! They are sure to be inspired. I was.

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Hellow frm th dumest stayt in publik edukashion.

So, today I did a search on the internet for the top ranked state in relation to public education. Although my hubby and I had realized our state was previously ranked 48th in the nation, we realized just how well we aim for the bottom bar when we realized we are 50th in the nation this year according to Morgan Quinto Press.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t want you to think that I don’t appreciate the efforts of the hard-working and highly dedicated teachers of our state! I know many of them personally and the passion that they hold for improving individual lives, if not the school system as a whole is unmistakenly evident. Our state is also faced with the very real challenges of border immigrants who come to Arizona speaking a foreign language which further inhibits their children from immediately excelling in the public school system. All of this, in spite of the fact that our teachers have very often become the disciplinarians (or frazzled in frustration because of their inability to be) as well as the sole encouragement a lot of these children receive simply because we are raising self-reliant individuals who are expected to thrive in the midst of minimal relational interaction because parents have been swallowed by the “two income family” reality.

I have to tell you that the factor that I believe weighs most heavily upon most of the border states’ ranking has to do with immigration, largely due to illegal immigration. I took the ten states with the highest legal immigration populations and evaluated their ranking in comparison to their geographic location. Almost all of the southern border states are in the the lower 60 percentile with the exception of Texas which is currently 24th. However, the states with the highest immigration population weren’t limited to the southern US border. In fact, NY (10th) and NJ (4th) were among them but still managed to rank in the top ten! So, what is the difference?

Take a look for yourself. The following ten states (listed in descending order according to immigration population) have the highest immigration statistics and are followed by their educational ranking as well as the origin of their highest immigration population.

California ranks 46th with 36% of their legal immigration originating from Mexico.
Texas ranks 24th with 51% of their legal immigration originating from Mexico.
New York ranks 10th with 9% of their legal immigration originating from India.
Illinois ranks 32nd with 24% of their legal immigration originating from Mexico.
Florida ranks 36th with 25% of their legal immigration originating from Cuba.
Arizona ranks 50th with 47% of their legal immigration originating from Mexico.
Georgia ranks 40th with 15% of their legal immigration originating from Mexico.
New Jersey ranks 4th with 17% of their legal immigration originating from India.
North Carolina ranks 22nd with 17% of their legal immigration originating from Mexico.
Colorado ranks 23rd with 32% of their legal immigration originating from Mexico.

These stats showed me that New York and New Jersey probably didn’t have a miracle education reform in as much as the immigrants that are most prevalent are from countries that value and instill education and English as a second (third or fourth) language from a very young age; keeping in mind that China is also among their highest number of immigrants. So, the bottom line is how can we place blame on teachers who are faced with classrooms filled with students who are desperately trying to interpret English, outside of the expectation that they will also interpret concepts conveyed in English?!

So, take a look at the list below to find out where your state ranks according to our nation’s educational standards. (The links will take you to your state’s board of education.)

Say a prayer for our teachers.

And someone PLEASE dig around and tell me what in the world Texas is doing right to rank 24th with the odds stacked against them!

© Victoria Sheahan, 2005

1. Vermont
2. Connecticut
3. Massachusetts
4. New Jersey
5. Maine
6. Minnesota
7. Virginia
8. Wisconsin
9. Montana
10. New York
11.Pennsylvania
12. Nebraska
13. Kansas
14. Iowa
15. New Hampshire
16. Rhode Island
17. Wyoming
18. South Dakota
19. Maryland
20. North Dakota
21. Missouri
22. North Carolina
23. Colorado
24. Texas
25. Delaware
26. Indiana
27. Michigan
28. Idaho
29. South Carolina
30. Washington
31. Ohio
32. Illinois
33. Utah
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Florida
37. Arkansas
38. Oregon
39. Oklahoma
40. Georgia
41. Tennessee
42. Hawaii
43. Alabama
44. Alaska
45. Louisiana
46. California
47. Nevada
48. New Mexico
49. Mississippi
50. Arizona

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