How to Find Homeschool Activities and Groups

How to Find Homeschool Activities and Groups


“I love to homeschool but we get so lonely.” “Sometimes I’m envious of school kids because they have built-in friends- and so do the Moms.” “We want to join and Montessori co-op but aren’t sure where to start looking.” Do you relate to any of these statements? Have you ever had that moment of watching your children working on a lesson and thinking how lonely you were for adult interaction? Does it sometimes feel like you’re the only home educator in your area? We were made for community and our home education will thrive even more with the support of others who *get* it. Try these tips to find or create community in your area.

How to Find Local Homeschool Activities or Support Group

 

Library- The local library is a great place to start for many reasons. Often libraries offer activities for homeschoolers during the day. Even if they don’t, head to the library in the middle of the day. Chances are that the other Mamas and kids there will be other home educators. The local librarian should also be able to tell you when the homeschoolers they know of regularly come visit. Then all you need to do is strike up a conversation. Perhaps that other Mama has been coming to the library all this time hoping to meet another family too! Or ask the library if you can post a flyer on their bulletin board or in a newsletter. Set up a co-op, play date, or mom’s night out and advertise it at the library.

 

Search Engine- This might take the most legwork to wade through. However, it’s a great way to search for groups. Your main issue will be finding groups that are no longer active. Common search terms to look for are- “Your town + homeschool group,” “Your town + homeschool support group” “Your town + homeschool coop,” “Your town + home educators,” or “Your town + homeschool activities.” If you use a specific curriculum or follow a specific philosophy you can also try something like- “Your town + ShillerLearning,” or “Your town + Montessori.” If you’re in a smaller area or a suburb you may have to expand outside of your down to the county or nearest large down.

Facebook- There are so many options to find community on Facebook. Try using the same search terms as above. Or head to your favorite home education groups and search for your town, area, or state. If you can’t find anyone nearby try putting up a post. Another option is to browse the events tab. Often local homeschool activities are posted as public. You may also find an event that’s not necessarily targeted toward home educators but you can meet others at in the middle of the day.

 

Instagram- This one can take a bit more legwork. It can also be a great way to connect with others. Try searching based on tagged locations. Then you can DM other families you’ve seen a post about their home education adventures nearby. Or search for a # that might be pertinent to you. When we moved to our new area I was able to meet several other moms via Instagram! When you post, make sure to use relevant #s and tag your location if you feel comfortable. That will help others find you.

 

Bulletin Boards at the store- This is similar to the library. Lots of grocery stores have community boards. Browse them for local events and meetups or start your own to share there.

 

Churches- especially large ones- Virtually every large church has some sort of community for at home learners. These may not always be faith-based either. Often churches rent out their space for any groups who need them. If there are no larger churches near you, try a smaller one. Even smaller churches often have at least one or two homeschool families they could help connect you with.

 

Local Schools, or Charter School- Local charter schools frequently have bridge programs. These are programs where home education children come to school a couple of days a week and are at home the rest of the time. They’ll also sometimes have opportunities for homeschooling children to come in for special activities and programs. In most areas, local public schools also offer the opportunity for students to come in for specific subjects. These schools may not be able to directly give your family’s information but can pass yours along to others or give you advice on connecting up.

 

Umbrella School- Umbrella schools are not available in every area. These are schools set up specifically for home educating families. Typically you enroll in an umbrella school just as you would a private school. The umbrella school helps oversee you’re following all state and local laws, helps manage paperwork, etc. Some are set up with a bridge program, others are totally separate, and others have regular get-togethers.

Athletic programs, gyms, YMCA, etc- Just like the library. These can be awesome places to connect during the day, find programs from at home school families, or find community bulletin boards. Plus they often have excellent- and free- childcare so you can get a workout in and meet a new friend while your children connect with other kids!

 

Zoos, museums, science centers, etc.- Similar to the above, try heading some of these places. Often homeschool activities already exist in places like this. If they don’t, head there during the day to meet others. Or ask if there has been much interest in starting some sort of program. If enough people ask for it, often a program will begin.

 

Head to the park in the middle of the day- This one almost seems too simple, yet it is how lots of my friends have made relationships. Monday and Friday mid-morning/ early afternoon tend to be the best time. If there are kids at the park, it’s most likely they are home educating too! A growing number of parks now have community boards too- put up an ad saying you’ll be there every week at a certain time.

 

Reach out to your curriculum (or on the forum/ social media outlets for your curriculum)- If your curriculum is active on social media, use the tips from the Facebook & Instagram section to try to connect. Or head over to their forum and try to connect that way. Another option is to go directly through the curriculum. Shoot them an email and ask if they have any customers in your area. Companies are not always able to accommodate this but it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. They most likely have privacy policies that would prevent them from giving you a mom’s phone number directly- but they can help by passing along your number or email address.

 

Homeschool Conventions- This is one of the most built in places for the community. Hundreds of conventions occur every year. From small local conventions to large state-wide gatherings. We have a running list of conventions we’ll be present at and we share on our Facebook page. Even if you have to drive a few hours away, you should be able to connect with other families at a convention and make new friends!

Start your own!

 

If you can’t find a community, start your own. The nature study group I am part of was started a couple of years ago like this. A Mama wanted like-minded home educators and couldn’t find anything nearby. She started a little Facebook group first and it now has over 200 people in our area. We’ve now split up into several small groups that gather once a week.

 

Try posting an ad in a local newspaper or magazine. Take the leap of faith to ask that family you see at the park every week if she wants to start a group. Put up your feelers on Facebook to see if a friend-of-a-friend is interested. You’ll find a few tips above for starting your own homeschool support group or activity too.

 

If you truly are not able to find community in your local area, find an online group that resonates with you. I’ve formed beautiful friendships with others at home school Mothers via a couple of online areas. We communicate almost every day and have become great support and friends for one another.

 

Teaching our children, doesn’t have to feel lonely and isolating. It shouldn’t feel that way. Even though it can feel scary, you’ll always be grateful you took that leap to find community.

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Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

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Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.


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Why Your Homeschool Routine Can Benefit from Circle Time

“The education of even a little kid, for that reason,

does not focus on preparing him for school but life."

– Maria Montessori

 

A Montessori-style "Circle Time" can be used to kick off the homeschool day or as a transition. This 10 to 30-minute session can function as an anchor point in your day to keep your routine going and conversation about learning flourishing. What is Circle Time and how can you incorporate the mixture of routine, tradition, music, movement, conversation, collaboration, learning, and fun? Can it help with practical life skills?



What is Circle Time?

Circle Time is a time to gather all of the children together. It paves the way for questions and discovery in a relaxed, conversational setting. It is comfortable. The circle shape allows all students to equally see the person that is leading Circle Time and allows the leader to be able to see all of the children in the group.

When incorporated into your homeschool routine, Circle Time can help keep the whole family on track and motivated as you collaborate, review new skills or knowledge, convey treasured traditions, and have fun with group learning, music, or movement. Some examples of Circle Time activities include discussion of recent homeschool lessons, family read alouds, dancing to educational songs, noting the time, day of the week, the month. or the weather for students working on mastering those topics, or doing a group hands-on science activity.

It is an excellent way for children to reflect on what they have learned, what they enjoyed, what they would like to do differently, and create excitement about upcoming special events.

When to do Circle Time?

Circle Time can be done at any time of day. You can use this as a time to bring everyone together in the morning to start your school day or you can use it as a calm down activity before nap time. Choose a time of day that works best for your family and stick with that as often as possible. Children thrive on consistency and routine. They will look forward to Circle Time being at the same time each day.

Where to do Circle Time?

Be flexible with the location. Choose a spot that you and your children are comfortable. You can sit on the floor, around the table, on the sofa, etc. You can even take it outdoors!

Can older children participate in Circle Time?

Absolutely! There are so many topics that can be covered in a group setting. Art, music, science, geography, and history are all subjects that can be taught in a group setting and lend themselves well to group projects.

You can use Circle Tme as part of your family read aloud. Consider including props to get their imagination flowing. When you begin a new book, challenge your kids to a scavenger hunt to find toys, tools, and other accessories to recreate and act out scenes from the book.


What are the benefits of Circle Time for homeschooling?

There are benefits for everyone. It helps introverted students get more involved. Extroverted students get a time to share and gives them the stage.

Circle Time can be grounding for both students and educators. Use it to launch the homeschool day or as an anchor point in your schedule. It will help to keep you on track with your goals.

It is also perfect for reviewing information previously introduced. A daily review helps you to see how your children are progressing and plan accordingly.

You can also use Circle Time to plan for upcoming events. If you have activities that you need to prepare your children for such as an upcoming field trip, discuss the schedule and anything that you need to cover for the event.

Why Your Homeschool Routines Can

Benefit from Circle Time

Children love to open up and discuss things during Circle Time. You can use this time to discover your child’s passion and tweak the lesson plans if you need to. Follow your child’s lead and find subjects that will capture their interest. Do you have kids that love to discover new things on their own? Let them take turns leading the meeting time for the family.


ShillerLearning is excited to launch our new Circle Time Posters and BONUS coordinating student coloring books! Perfect for use as Circle Time discussion points and review, this set will be a wonderful asset in any homeschool. The beautiful color posters include: lowercase alphabet to practice letter recognition and sounds, numbers 1-10, colors, shapes, days of the week, months of the year, and the sign language alphabet. Bonus student coloring activity books are also included: My Alphabet Book, My Color Book, My Shape Book, My Calendar, and My Numbers Book. Students can review, color, and track their homeschool journey. It's an incredible bundle!

No matter what resources you use, give Circle Time a try. There truly is something for everyone. The conversational setting solidifies skills and prepares your child for the kind of collaboration that happens in life.

Tag @ShillerLearning on social media to show what you are doing with Circle Time.

Amanda Crawford

Amanda Crawford lives in East Tennessee with her seven children and husband of sixteen years. Amanda has a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture with a concentration in Education, a Masters in Instructional Leadership, and Ed.S. in Instructional Leadership. She taught high school agriculture for eight years in a public school. When her oldest was 3, Amanda transitioned to her new role as a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. To prepare for kindergarten with her oldest in 2015, Amanda excitedly attended her first homeschool convention where she and her family discovered the ShillerLearning math and language arts curriculum. Seeing how the kids were drawn to the hands-on manipulatives at the booth and then using the curriculum with her kids for about 6 months, Amanda joined the ShillerLearning team and has been helping other homeschool families through online events and at conventions across the country.

See Inside Our Kits

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)


A Non-Definitive Beginner's Guide to Printing Nomenclature Cards

Save money and stretch your homeschool budget by printing your own nomenclature cards.


 

As so many homeschool families do, you love having beautiful nomenclature cards and your kids respond so well – learning, sorting and playing games with the cards. But buying printed sets of 3-part cards for every new subject can become pricey - even cost-prohibitive.


Printing Nomenclature Cards: A Non-Definitive Beginner’s Guide



You can now buy digital files of professionally produced nomenclature cards from ShillerLearning and print them yourself! If you are new to Montessori nomenclature cards, detailed instructions and extension activities for a variety of ages and abilities are included with each set.

After you successfully print your first beautiful set of cards, you will be unstoppable. Nomenclature cards are used for preschool on up. Here are links to get you started:

 



This lovely set includes flags of countries and territories around the world. They are grouped and color-coded by continent and organized alphabetically. The color-coded borders on the cards make it easy for your child to keep the continents organized.

The cards coordinate with Montessori-colored continent maps and materials, perfect for including the flags in your world tour of the continents and continent boxes. You can also use the included blackline world map to create a Montessori-colored world map of your own.

This set will grow with your child over many years and skills. It also includes a 24-page World Flags Nomenclature Card Guide with Introduction, Printing Tips, How-to-Guide for Nomenclature Cards, printable blackline continent map for coloring (or painting), plus 7 printable color-coded, continent charts with the country/territory common name (in alphabetical order), official name, and country of control (for territories).


ShillerLearning nomenclature cards are designed for printing on 3x5 cards, but multiple cards can easily be printed on 8.5x11 cardstock with just a few clicks in your print dialog box.


Printing on 3x5 Cards

This is revolutionary. Printing on 3x5 or 4x6 cards means almost ALL of the cutting is eliminated. This is my favorite for ease of use and a nice, uniform, sturdy product. Many printers come with an option to print on 3x5 cards. This is of course ideal. If you have never printed on 3x5 cards before, I suggest trying 1 or 2 cards first to make sure you have it all figured out. (Unlike my first time when I sent 47 cards to be printed and had not set up my cards correctly!)

Printing instructions with screenshots are included with each set of cards, but I’ll share my personal experience.

First choose print the PDF file to access your printer’s dialog box.

Next go to advanced settings and choose paper size. Here is where different printers will have slightly different options. Look for a “3x5 index card” setting. Most Epson Workforce printers have this option. My HP Envy does not. But have no fear, there are still options. If your printer does not accommodate 3x5 printing, it most likely has a 4x6 option. (This is a common photo size.) Some printers have a special place for photo size cards and in some printers the paper guide adjusts to fit.


Here are some pro tips:

-Set the Scale to “Fit to printable area”
-Set Paper Size to 3x5 index card or 4x6 if you do not have 3x5
Under Paper Size if it is not working, experiment with other sizes until it works. My first time, I spent an hour --I know, I could have cut out all the sheets in that time! But now I know, and my cards are so lovely. It was worth figuring out my printer!)
-Choose Color, if that is an option, your cards will be vibrant and beautiful
-Under Pages choose “custom” and print just page numbers 1-2 at first, until you know you have the settings figured out

It is beyond the scope of this article to give specific directions for each and every printer. But, if you take the time with your first set of nomenclature cards to figure it out, you will save a great deal of time in the long run and have beautiful, professional quality cards.

 

Printing Multiple Cards on 8.5x11 Sheets

This is how most nomenclature card designs are designed to be printed, but it involves a little bit of prep work to be ready to use. Each card is cut out, then the picture and label parts are cut apart. We strongly suggest you print on cardstock. If possible, use a paper cutter to keep the cards uniform. They are much more pleasing to use if they are all cut to the same exact size. Cardstock is recommended as a sturdier material for your child to grasp and it helps avoid the frustration of paper pieces blowing around. Lamination is also a nice touch but it does cause sharper edges and corners, so parents with younger children sometimes prefer to avoid this.

To print multiple cards on an 8.5x11 sheet, simply select printing 4, 6, or 8 cards to a page - depending on how large or small you would like your cards. The outline of the cards becomes your cutting lines.

 

More new sets coming in 2022!

Oceans and Continents
Landforms
Famous Works of Art
Weather
States and Capitals
Courtesy Words Around the World


Hopefully you have been both inspired and empowered to start printing your own nomenclature cards. At ShillerLearning we are inspired to keep creating beautiful cards for you!

Comment below if there is a topic you would like to see covered.


Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is till homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces with them in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.

See Inside Our Kits

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)


6 Strategies to Maximize Learning Opportunities in Mistakes


The ShillerLearning philosophy says that every mistake is a learning opportunity; it encourages discussion and improves understanding of concepts and processes. This is true for all education topics, whether homeschool math or language arts, and life in general. The language used by home educators in identifying and correcting mistakes has a huge impact on how well or poorly children will learn from mistakes, avoid repeating them in the future, and even whether or not they develop a growth mindset.

 

 "In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I'm going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here's a chance to grow."

- Carol S. Dweck

 

Do you have a homeschooler that could benefit from that outlook? Are you getting excited about your child's next mistake? Mistakes will occur early and often. Parents with children that reach their full potential have a clear strategy for dealing with the situation.

Education expert Larry Shiller and the homeschool team at ShillerLearning suggest the following approach when a mistake is made:

 

1. Mistakes are opportunities to identify holes in the child's knowledge or approach.

ShillerLearning recommends employing the Socratic Method of questioning to help the child discover his or her own error. Once the hole is known it is usually easy to "fill." Be sure the reasons for the mistake are well understood before moving on: "This card says three thousands and you have two thousands. How many more thousands do you need to have three thousands? That's right: one more thousand. You may get another thousand."

If you child doesn't answer your question correctly, you have spotted an opportunity to better understand his or her thought process and why the mistake is being made.

 

2. Focus on the process, not the person. 

When they mess up, children (like adults) don't like to hear that they are a lesser person for it (because they're not). Blaming a child for a mistake can discourage the child from wanting to try anything other than what they excel at with very little effort or thought.

Instead focus on the process. Try using phrases like, "Does that seem right?" "I might've come up with a different answer; walk me through your steps to solve this problem." "I would've got that answer wrong too! Let's see how we can get to the correct answer and understand why it's correct." Or: "Maybe there's a different approach; let's start from the beginning." Children often spot and self-correct mistakes while explaining their process. If not, you will be able to spot the learning opportunity of the mistake in their process.

 

3. Go back to basics.

Revisit the Montessori Three Period Lesson of "This is, Show me, What is," which as explained in the ShillerLearning Educator Guide in the beginning of your lesson books. Yes, it is short, but don't be tempted to skip the Educator Guide! Those few pages include best practices to help you and your child get the most out of your homeschool math or language arts experience. The ShillerLearning YouTube channel also has a short video with Larry Shiller talking about the 3 Period Lesson.

 

4. Use the other learning styles.

New knowledge is best learned when it is concrete, explored with all learning styles (visual, tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic), before they are asked to work with it in the abstract. It is almost always a big hit to put the audio CD (or mp3s) on and sing and dance along. The manipulative index can be used to find an activity that uses a favorite manipulative. (You can also use the Find feature in a lesson book pdf file to do this.) If an activity is not your child's dominant learning style, don't worry, that learning style will be incorporated in another lesson. You can use your concept index to see the list of lessons that teaches a particular concept. You may find that your child likes to repeat activities (over and over) that use their dominant learning style. That's okay. Resist the urge to interrupt a focused and concentrated child.

By using all four learning styles to teach every concept, in the strategic manner used in a Montessori-based approach, your child will see and understand the concept before being asked to work with it abstractly. That experiential learning helps to prevent mistakes from happening in the first place and to provide a no-pressure way to self-correct when they do happen.

 

5. Be creative. Feel free to extend the activity or game in the lesson - or make up games as you go along should the urge strike. Give your child free time to explore materials after use with a scripted lesson. Kids can come up with amazing off-label uses for materials and discover new concepts with imagination, creativity, and curiosity.

The ShillerLearning homeschool blog, ShillerLearning.com customer downloads, and ShillerLearning social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube) open a whole new world of support and ideas to make learning multisensory and fun.

 

6. Keep a sense of humor. When a child associates math with laughter and warm feelings, it's bound to be a good and lasting one. Laugh together. Laugh at your own mistakes and verbalize your learning opportunities . Acknowledge limitations with a wink and a smile. Keep a sense of humor and positive attitude while you cultivate your own growth mindset and your child will likely model your behavior.  

 

All this discussion of mistakes - what about when the child does something correctly? PRAISE. We will explore praise more in another blog post. In the meantime, don't miss out on treating a mistake as an opportunity. Keep in mind that these tips work for all areas of home learning as well as life, not just homeschool math and language arts.

 

Let us know how they work for you!

 

Antoinette LaGrossa

Veteran homeschool mom of five children, Antoinette LaGrossa has been homeschooling since 2001. Having experienced her family’s frustration with multiple math programs, Antoinette understands the struggle that can come with teaching math. Everything changed in 2004 when she tried ShillerMath. She quickly joined the ShillerLearning team and has been supporting home educators for almost two decades - sharing hands-on learning tips, encouragement, and practical experience from homeschooling five very different children (no cookie-cutter molds here). Antoinette speaks at conventions across the country and is host of ShillerLearning’s Tuesdays@2.


See Inside ShillerLearning Montessori-Based Kits

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)


5 Tools to Find and Fix Your Child’s Learning Gaps


Do you sometimes feel that sense of panic as you realize your children’s education is entirely in your hands? You are not alone! Both parents with a background in education and those with no experience in the field, share those moments that stop them short asking, “What on earth am I doing?”

As a veteran homeschool mom of 27 years, who was also educated at home, I can assure you, as I have confided to many parents before you, “You are going to miss things. There will be gaps in their learning. You will not bestow on your children a perfect education. So, let go of your expectations of the perfect homeschool right now. If you don’t, your days will be long and disappointing.”

I quickly go on to also assure these deer-in-the-headlights new homeschooling parents, that it doesn’t matter what school they might choose to send their offspring to, that school will miss things, and leave gaps in their children’s learning. Even the best school in the nation, will be found lacking.

The homeschool parent has something very important that can not be replicated at any school; a deep love that will fuel them to learn all they can to help their children succeed! There are some amazing teachers out there, but none that can truly love your children like you do!

At ShillerLearning we strive to create products and curriculum to help you as the homeschool parent meet the educational needs of your children in ways that fit their personalities and learning styles. We are passionate about helping you inspire a lifelong love of learning in each of your children, which will give them the tools to fill in any knowledge gaps they discover in the future.

One of the tools Larry Shiller has created is the Personal Lesson Plan Builder. This unique tool will help you discover areas of strengths and weaknesses. It will also clearly reveal holes or gaps in their education and give you, as the homeschool parent, an easy and gentle way to fill in these gaps providing your student with a solid foundation to grow from rather than pushing them along with their peers, leaving a base filled with holes and increasing difficulty as they try to understand new concepts before establishing comprehension of the prior one's.

The way all these learning management pieces work together is almost like magic. Let me walk you through the process from start to finish.

 

1. Diagnostic Tests

We do not want to make assumptions about what a student knows or doesn't know, so we recommend that the educator start each student, regardless of age, at the first test from Book 1, with the introduction: "This should be really easy for you and will take you just one minute to do. Let's have some fun and see if you can get them all right."

Diagnostic tests are included with each math or language arts kit. Additional copies may be printed from your downloads for additional children in the family. Diagnostic testing may also be purchased separately if you are trying to decide between kit levels. If you are unsure where to start, call us, and with a few quick questions we will guide you.

Check the answer key. If the student answers all the questions correctly, praise and move on to the next test. If a question is answered incorrectly, the answer key is prescriptive: it tells you exactly which lesson(s) will fill the hole identified by this question. Best practice is to have the student do those activities before going to the next test (unless you are using the tests to decide between kit levels before selecting a kit).

When the student misses most of the questions on a test, stop testing. You have now identified exactly where he or she needs to be in the lesson book - and you have identified and filled all of the holes in his or her math or language arts foundation utilizing all four learning styles (visual, tactile, auditory, and kinesthetic)!

This can be a fun process and can take place over the course of several days or longer.

 


2. Lesson Plan Builder

With your child’s scored diagnostic test in hand go to our Lesson Plan Builder. You will find a tab titled, “Homeschool Freebies.” From the dropdown, choose “Lesson Plan Builder.” This takes you to one of my favorite pages. Find the line which corresponds to your child’s first test and simply check the boxes for each incorrect question or ones they struggled with.

Remember, this is not a measure of how well your child is doing; it is simply a guide to help you choose the lessons that they need and will inspire them to learn.

After you have entered the information from all tests you may fill in your student’s name and click “Show Lessons.”



3. Personal Lesson Plan

You can access the Personal Lesson Plans for all of your students in your downloads under see your existing personal lesson plans. 

Print your child’s Personal Lesson Plan list (list of lessons in order and lesson names). I suggest putting it in the front of a 3-ring binder. If you have a kit, a binder may have been included. Following the Lesson Plan, I recommend you insert the Completed Worksheet, and the Visual Tracking Sheet. These two record keeping tools will help you keep track as well as provide encouragement and motivation to both you and your student. These sheets can be found in your ShillerLearning Account under “My Downloads.” Scroll down to the Educator Helpers section for these tools and more.

If you purchased a kit, there will also a brand new PDF waiting for each plan with ONLY the lessons needed by that student. It doesn't get any easier than that!

If you don't have a kit yet, you also have the option of purchasing the PDF for the Personal Lesson Plan for $1 a lesson. (Call 888-556-6284 for assistance.)

 

4. Visual Tracking Sheet

Lay the Visual Tracking Sheet (available in your downloads) next to your child’s lesson plan and place an “X” through each lesson that is not on the lesson plan, giving a visual representation of what they already understand. Each time a lesson is completed your student may color in the box for that lesson. Watch their confidence grow as the chart fills up!


5. Completed Worksheet

This can be found printed on the inside back cover of lesson books, in your binders, or in your downloads.

Each day, note the date, time spent, then list the lessons that you completed with your child and for which they reached competency and closure. If either you or the child thinks a lesson should be revisited, note that lesson in the Lesson to Revisit column. Then in the right hand two columns both you and your child will initial, verifying the completion of the day's work and promoting the child's ownership of their education.


Now here is a piece of the Montessori magic.

One of the goals in Montessori education is for the child to learn to take responsibility for their learning. We emphasize that a child’s play and learning is their work and we want them to learn to initiate work and take pride in their accomplishments.

As the student becomes familiar with the curriculum and can read independently, you will likely discover that they will get out their book, and manipulatives and complete a lesson on their own. They will color in the Visual Tracking Sheet and fill out the Completed Work Sheet initialing their column and then bringing it to you for your initial verifying their progress.

When used in conjunction, as part of a cohesive learning environment, the Diagnostic Tests, the custom Lesson Plan Builder, the Completed Work Sheet, and the Visual Tracking Sheet can help to find and eliminate areas of confusion while building both confidence and a love of learning in your child.

All of the customer service representatives at ShillerLearning are homeschool parents and have personal experience using the curriculum. Please call us at 888-556-6284 with any questions. We love to chat with you and help make your homeschool journey just a little bit easier and more fun!

 

Catherine Donnelly

Catherine began her formal education journey in Montessori preschool. Following a short stint in regular school she was homeschooled from 5th grade on. After being her college's first homeschooled graduate, she and her husband decided upon home education for their five children. 27 years, and many adventures later, she is till homeschooling their youngest 3 children. The foundation of Maria Montessori's principles have been a consistent thread throughout their learning journey and Catherine was delighted to discover Shiller Learning and join forces in 2020. In her sparse free moments she can be found reading with her children (or hiding in a corner reading by herself); writing articles for her blog, books or various clients; playing with her children; or dressing up in various time period costumes and traveling to historical sites.


Want to See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits?

Language Arts Kit A (PreK/K-G1)

Language Arts Kit B (G1-G4)


Why This Geography Map Is Perfect For Homeschool

Why This Geography Map is Perfect for Homeschooling


 

Hajime Narukawa has created a map of the world that will turn your homeschool geography curriculum upside down. It fits in excellent with a Montessori homeschool approach and will surely get kids excited about active learning about our world. For decades we have used various updated versions of this classic map:

 

 

 

While familiar, it is an inaccurate depiction of the actual size, shape, and layout of Earth. It’s quite difficult to accurately depict something round on a flat, rectangular surface. The above map does an ok job but vastly distorts the size of the oceans (especially the Pacific), makes Africa way too small, and Greenland drastically too large. Antarctica is barely represented on the maps we’re all used to, when in reality it’s one of the largest continents.  

 

Narukawa’s creation is, perhaps, the most accurate map you could include in your homeschool studies. Called the AuthaGraph, this map divides the world into 96 sections, is then projected onto an inflated tetrahedron which unfolded become a rectangle. It was a multi-step process that resulted in what may the most accurate world map ever created. It won the Grand Award from Japan’s Good Design Awards and is now featured in student’s textbooks across Japan.  

 


 

As you can see, “AuthaGraph faithfully represents all oceans [and] continents, including neglected Antarctica,” according to the Good Design Awards, and shows “an advanced precise perspective of our planet.” This one-of-a-kind map can even be manipulated to feature any point of the world at the center and still be accurate.  

 

Still a work in progress, Narukawa states some areas are still distorted. However, this map is great for homeschoolers to provide a more accurate view of our world. It would also be an interesting launching point for your children to compare the standard map to what is more accurate. One of the creator’s goals was to accurately depict the areas near to poles so as to raise awareness of rapidly melting ice caps.

 

What do you think of this unique and revolutionary map? Is it a teaching tool you’d use in your homeschool classroom?  Comment below if you think so!

 


Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

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Phenology Wheel for Homeschool Nature Study

Phenology Wheel for Homeschool Nature Study


“There must be provision for the child to have contact with nature, to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in nature… so that the child may better understand and participate in the marvelous things which civilization creates.”

 

Maria Montessori


How to Start Using a Phenology Wheel and Why You’d Want To!

 

A huge trend among homeschooling families is nature study. In an era where we are indoors more than ever before in human history, getting our kids (and ourselves) outside more often is a huge benefit. In addition to the popular nature journal, a phenology wheel can be an excellent addition to nature study for homeschoolers and parents alike.

Phenolo What?!?!

 

Phenology sounds like something you might see on a nameplate at a doctor's office. In reality, phenology is the study and observation of natural events and cycles. Phenology is a fantastic way to get more in touch with the tune of nature.

 

What is a Phenology Wheel?

 

A phenology wheel is simply a way to document your observations in one spot. It allows you to make note of your observations and keep an easy-to-use record of what you’ve seen. Phenology wheels help us to stop and reflect on something we might not otherwise notice. When we work on phenology wheel, we notice the changes in plants, trees, wildlife, weather, and ourselves in a way we never have before. The wheel enables our children to notice small details and to grasp the calendar in a new way.

Generally, people draw their observations and use the wheel as a visual guide and enhancement to their nature journal. However, if you’re not artistic (or have a student who does not like to draw) the wheel can be written on instead. The wheel itself is simply a circle broken up into equal sections. Traditionally, the wheel is made to reflect one year, so it is broken up into twelve sections. We will use this model as our example.

 

How Do I Get Started?

 

Making a phenology wheel is easy. It just requires a compass, protractor, pencil, ruler, and art supplies (alternatively, a large enough circular object to trace would work). You can make your own or use the template we’ve provided below get it here.  
 

  • Begin by making a large circle on the center of your paper
  • Next, make a small circle within in- about a ¼-½ inch smaller than your first circle
  • Next, make a small circle in the very middle of your larger circle- a couple of inches across is good
  • Divide your two inner circles into even sections of 12 (this is a great math opportunity!)
  • Don’t divide up that outer ring you created
  • Time to label
  • Around the outside ring, label your seasons (people often color coordinate this as well)
  • The first “layer” gets the months of the year written at the top of each section
  • Leave the inner ring blank for now

 

How to Use Your Phenology Wheel

 

Now that you have set up your wheel, how on earth do you put it to work? To a certain extent, this is totally up to you. The natural world, your current science study, and the interest of your homeschooler can be your guide. Pick two different things to study throughout the year, we provide some ideas below. Also, pick a day of the month to make your observations (it’s ok if you get off a day or two in either direction.)

 

You’ll head out on your designated day each month and make your notes and artwork to have a beautiful visual record at the end of the year. The outer wheel and inner wheel can be used to observe two different things, two different aspects of the same thing, or one for drawing and one for written notes. As the year progresses, you’ll begin observing more astutely and keenly what changes are happening right under your eyes that you might not have otherwise noticed.

 

If desired, spend time studying what you’re observing from books and documentaries as well. Perhaps you could visit a local expert or arrange a class at a nature center. You can even adapt the science portion of your homeschool curriculum to include information on what you’re documenting.
 

Here are a few ideas for observation:

 

  • Use the outer circle to observe an animal, and the inner a place in your yard

  • Observe your household pet’s fur and habit changes throughout the year

  • Make note of the changes sees in a tree and an area with wildflowers

  • Go to the beach at the low time and make note of the animals seen on the outer circle, and tide times on the inner

  • Use the wheel to document the height/weight of your student(s), and something they learned, a first, or something they loved each month

  • Observe the sky and stars

  • Make note of the fur on your favorite zoo animal and any other changes taken in their living environment

 

This method can also be used on a smaller scale. Perhaps set up a wheel for a month or two observation of the growth of your favorite garden vegetable! Or if you live somewhere with snow, observe the different types of snowflakes and the weather when they fall. This is also a popular way to observe the moon cycles each night over the course of a month.

As you can see, there are countless ways to incorporate this tool into your homeschool curriculum. The entire family can observe the same thing, or everyone can choose to study something different. Depending on the approach you take, you could be including, art, science, research, reading, and math with this beautiful project.

 

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Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Amanda and her family reside in an Airstream parked in Washington State. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, she also blogs, works as a virtual assistant, and loves creating hand-lettering pieces.