Happy Wednesday and Welcome to Finishing Strong!
Today we’re featuring a few of the best posts about homeschooling middle school that have been shared with us over the past few weeks.
Middle School is such a fun season for homeschooling. Your kids can think more abstractly, allowing them to discuss subjects at a deeper level than before. Plus, their passions and personalities are really starting to shine through, giving you opportunity to tailor their education, which can be a ton of fun!
Families are always looking for inspiration and ideas related to homeschooling middle school, so if you have any posts related to these middle grades, please share them below, as well as your favorite high school posts.
Homeschooling Middle School
Homeschooling Average Middle Schoolers: High School Can Wait! from 7 Sisters Homeschool
I Can’t Homeschool Because My Kids are in Middle School from Education Possible
Our Curriculum Choices for Middle School from Eva Varga
Middle School Homeschool Curriculum Choices from Hodgepodge
Use a Homeschool Student Planner for Organizing Middle Schoolfrom Starts at Eight
Homeschooling Middle School Doesn’t Always Mean Middle Way from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus
Next week we’re going to feature some of our favorite high school posts.
Bloggers, by linking up, you may be featured on our co-hosts’ social media pages or our Pinterest board. We may even select you to be featured in a future post!
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It’s time to share our learning spaces with everyone! We’ve been homeschooling for eight and a half years and our learning environment has changed a lot over that time. When Ethan, our 11th grader, first started homeschooling half way through first grade, we had just one small table in our living room and a bookshelf for his school things. As we added more children to the official homeschool roster, we added books, larger tables and we dedicated part of our playroom to homeschooling. Two years ago,when we began looking for a new home, we knew we were looking for some place special. It had to have space for our learning materials, our homeschool library, and our project spaces.
Essential Elements for Our Home Learning Environment
Our focus is not to recreate a school classroom in our home. However, with four kids immersed in learning throughout the day, it’s hard to miss that we homeschool. Here are a few “must haves” for our learning spaces.
- Bookshelves for our homeschool library- while we do use the public library extensively, it’s important to have a variety of print material in our home. Bookshelves are essential.
- Media Area- for the computers the kids use for school and projects. We keep them in the media room.
- Slate Chalkboard- I adore slate and we had a smaller chalkboard in our last house, but this lovely piece of slate is a recent addition to our home learning environment and as you can see it has seen a lot of use in the few weeks it’s been up. We do a lot of math on the slate!
- White Boards- I often use it for explaining things along with a chalkboard. Or to write down assignments and reminders for the day. And sometimes the kids work problems and their own explanations on the board. I keep portable white boards on hand too for working math problems and playing games.
- Large Table- for school work and projects. Though the kids can go to any area to do their work, they often work there together. We put it right in the large window so there would be plenty of natural light.
- Storage Cabinet- or closet for homeschool materials that are not books. We have one large wooden cabinet which was a very special gift from specials friends and we have bookcases in our basement which hold everything else.
- Project Work Space- We wanted to provide a place where each of our kids could work on their own and plan and work on projects. This is an essential for us because a place for diving into and leaving out their work is important.
Using Walls for a Homeschool Learning Environment
While it would be homier to not use posters and maps on our walls, the extra immersion is great for growing minds! The only thing I’d change? I’d put wooden frames around each one if I could!
- Maps- both US and World. I’d love a large physical map of the world too. We have a laminated set I bought at Staples many years ago.
- Periodic Table of the Elements- I went for the one that has pictures of the actual element by Theodore Grey.
- Calendar- a regular wall calendar is all you need, but I was compelled to buy a pocket calendar. I do not have calendar time! Conversation about the calendar has successfully taught all of my children the nuances of the calendar year. However, I keep a large calendar there for reference.
- Bulletin Board- for student work and other displays
- White Board/Chalkboard- previously mentioned.
- Student Work- on display this could be work hard earned, work done well, and art work. Love to display art work.
We make ample use of technology in our homeschool. Here are a some examples:
- Computers- two desk tops and two laps top for student use.
- Open DNS- is the filter we use for content at our house. It’s not perfect, but it works well.
- LEGO NXT- we’ve had NXT for many years. Our kids are active on FIRST LEGO League Teams and Dan coaches. We are eager to be able to purchase the upgrade EV3.
- Project Time- can include programming the NXT, Scratch, Alice, and other programming software for kids. Other software applications for word processing and presentations are encouraged.
- Digital Microscope- We have the Intel Qx3 which is a nice video scope and can take stills and video of the object.
- How to Homeschool with a Kindle- Tips on how to use Kindles and Kindle apps in your homeschooling.
How do you handle internet access in your home? This important question is surely a part of a homeschool learning environment. Dan wrote a series of blog posts on Internet Filtering & Access Control. He answers questions like:
- How do you control when your kids are on the internet with your router?
- How do you filter content once they are there?
- Using OpenDNS as your content filter
We have books in almost every room of our home. Here are a few tips on handling homeschool books and making sure they get noticed and read:
- Rotate books- especially if you don’t have room for all the books to be out or on a shelf
- Reference Books- should be easy to find and use. We have a magazine rack that is our reference shelf.
- Library Shelf- to shelve books we have borrowed from the library.
- Display Area- this is the top of the library shelf for us, but I use it to put out books I want the kids to notice and leaving the book open is very inviting!
- Coffee Table- is a great place to leave books you want kids to notice. Both the coffee table and the display area never fail to promote interest in a book. Try it!
- Organizing Your Homeschool Library- Helpful tips on storing and using books in your home library. You don’t want to miss this!
- The Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home- Ideas for how to make your home encouraging to readers regardless of age!
Other Learning Environment Links from Blog, She Wrote
Take a look at these other posts on our learning spaces- they are all still in use today.
- Our Supply Cabinet- this is where we store our paper and art supplies for school. This post gives a list of what we have on hand in there.
- Learning Spaces Full Tour- from last 2012. Things look nearly the same though we’ve upgraded some bookshelves and added more books!
- Displaying Art- a post on how we use student work all over our home.
Thank you for joining us today at Blog, She Wrote for a look at our learning environment. Please sign up to receive updates in your inbox so you don’t miss the rest of the Not-Back-to-School Hop and Geography Quests here at Blog, She Wrote!
Visit other homeschool bloggers to see their learning spaces this week.
National Shark Week begins on August 10, 2014. Are you studying the ocean or its creatures? Need a topic of focus because the summer is getting long? There are many resources available for Shark Week and I thought it would be a great opportunity to give you a new Geography Quest. Geography Quest: Shark Edition.
Species of Shark & Their Distribution
Ever wonder where various shark species are found around the world? A simple web search revealed some great sites for answering this question. Do some research and choose information to represent on a map.
- Shark Foundation Shark Database- This site contains shark classification and distribution information. It has an interactive map to visually see the range. You can click on an area in the world and see a long list of shark species found there. Use this information to map several species of shark around the world.
- Shark Trust- Traveling around this website will lead you to a Shark Sighting Database where you can see where people have sighted sharks. This is a great site to learn more about shark morphology and sharks in the news. Take a look!
- Habitat & Distribution of Sharks- Learn about where sharks are found in the ocean. Are they surface dwellers? Deep swimmers? What conditions are best for sharks?
- Shark Attack Map- From surfertoday.com shows where shark attacks have happened. Would your student like to make a shark attack map of his own?
- Choose Some Information from Your Research to Make Your Own Map- Choose one species or several or choose an area of the world to map all the shark species found there.
Map Shark Migration
Do sharks remain in the same areas of the ocean at all times? Do they travel based on the weather? Time of year? Food needs? Read about shark migration and make a map. A lot of shark tracking is going on, but it is by species. I will list a few sites here for you.
- Ocearch Global Shark Tracker- This is cool! A real time shark tracker with pings you can follow from the website. Tagged sharks are followed and you can see shark movement.
- Tracking the Secret Lives of Great White Sharks- Article and information on how Great Whites are tracked and what they conclude from shark behavior.
- Secrets of Whale Shark Migration Revealed- A National Geographic article on the activity of whale sharks.
- Shark Swarming Season- From the National Wildlife Federation. An article about the largest shark migration in US Coastal waters.
Shark Week Resources
There is no shortage of hype around shark week! Here are some of my favorite picks from my searches.
- Discovery Channel Shark Week- The Discovery Channel has shark programming all week long including live chats.
- National Geographic SharkFest- Take a look at shark week events here.
- National Geographic for Kids- This website has a focus on various shark species including a range map.
Shark Art with Chalk Pastels
Tricia at Hodgepodge is releasing a new chalk pastels eBook for National Shark Week. Check the links below for a shark art video tutorial along with the new book.
How to Draw a Shark with Chalk Pastels- Nana does a nice little Great White Shark video tutorial with her chalks. We enjoyed this!
You’ll find 10 shark tutorials with instructions for how to draw them in chalks along with information about the shark species. There’s a paragraph or two with general facts at the start of each lesson and embedded in the art directions are more tidbits about the shark! I loved this!
Through August 10, 2014, the new shark eBook is available for $5.99. Once shark week begins, the price will increase to it’s regular price of $7.99.
Gear up for National Shark Week by gathering your art supplies and making sure you check out the Discovery Channel’s programming. Trim up some mapping skills by having your kids do some shark research and map out the distribution and migration of sharks. Have fun!