Tuesdays@2

Tuesdays@2 with ShillerLearning's:

Antoinette LaGrossa


You may have already met ShillerLearning's Antoinette LaGrossa at a homeschool conference. Veteran homeschool mom of five children, she’s been representing ShillerLearning for 15 years, traveling the country presenting workshops helping and inspiring homeschool families just like yours. If you have yet to meet Antoinette, you’ll value her expertise and experience.

Each Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 Central, 12 Mountain, 11 Pacific), join Antoinette for a weekly online information session. It's your opportunity for a coffee break (we don't get many of those).

You’ll pick up tips on using multi-sensory Montessori-based instruction, as well as general homeschooling advice - and even an occasional guest. All you need is your favorite beverage (coffee, tea, green smoothie?), a device with an internet connection, and 20 to 30 minutes of time.

Mark your calendar for Tuesdays@2, starting with this Tuesday.

All you need to do is to sign up here. We’ll take care of everything else and send you the link.

Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help kids learn - and enjoy - math.Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).


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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. Typically, people are studying climate & seasonal changes. 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 homeschoolers can be your guide. Pick two different things to study throughout the year, we’ll give you 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.

 

Do you like this?

Check out more outdoor-inspired activities:


SUMMER ACTIVITY PACK FOR HOMESCHOOLERS


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See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs, works as a Virtual Assistant, and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

 


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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See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.


7 Tips to Incorporate Montessori Into Your Road Schooling

7 Tips to Incorporate Montessori Into Your Road Schooling


“I love the idea behind the Montessori philosophy but we spend so much of our day in the car- it’s too hard!”, “I would love to do a Montessori based homeschool but we’re full-time RVers and always on the road,” I hear these two phrases from people all the time.  

 

We live in a 200 square foot Airstream. While we’re not mobile yet, we live out in the country and spend an incredible amount of time in the car and space is incredibly valuable for us. I have over a decade teaching in Montessori Schools and knew we’d have a Montessori inspiration to our homeschooling. While a full Montessori homeschool room setup would be absolutely lovely, it’s doable to incorporate Montessori methods and ideas into your roadschooling. Be it roadschooling as a fulltime RV family, a family who spends a ton of time in the car and wants to complete school on the road, or you’re looking to get some school hours in while on trips this Spring.

Top 7 Trips to Incorporate Montessori Into Your Road Schooling:

 

1- Rethink your manipulatives. You’re obviously not going to want to be bringing along an entire moveable alphabet, golden beads, and a pink tower. Can you rethink these materials to be more car friendly though? Grab a magnetic set of letters (they make small magnetic boards specifically designed for spelling) & a set of small magnetic blocks or some Lego’s. Boom, you’ve got manipulatives that are easier to take along in the car!

 

2- Use file folders- Yes, the old fashioned file folders that we think about doctors offices storing patient data in. They are perfect to create mini-workspaces. You can attach a small pocket on the inside with a piece of paper and staple in printables of Montessori-based works.

 

3- Find an object bottles- Place several small items into a cleaned our plastic bottle, fill with rice or quinoa and you’ve got yourself a seek it bottle. A variation of this is often found in a Montessori classroom. Some families prefer to make a master list of all the objects for children to use.

 

4- Create small themed books- Small child-size books are great to bring along in the car. Create a book based on pictures of a blend your child is working on, an animal they’re interested in, or a word search book. These are great ways to bring along learning and keep kids interested in the car.

5- Create a “car school” box- Grab a plastic storage bin with a lid on it. As you find good, small, Montessori friendly items at your favorite stores you can keep them in the bin for your children to use.

 

6- Head to the hardware store before you hit the road- Color gradient matching is a great work for the road that can easily be created with free paint samples from the hardware store and adapted for all ages of kids. (If you’re not sure how to do this work, check out our most recent printable pack for the full work setup).

 

7- Rethink your rest stops- So much learning and exercise can happen at rest stops. Take a look at the informational signs, bring along your Montessori yoga cards for a quick workout and get a little bit of grace & courtesy practice picking up trash.

 

Roadschooling is a great way to keep your kids entertained in the car and fit in school time. Happy trails, we can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

 

Bonus idea- grab a couple of our CDs to listen to while you’re on the road, they help reinforce concepts and are catchy songs kids love.

 


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

Why This Geography Map Is Perfect For Homeschool

Why This Geography Map is Perfect for Homeschool?


 

Hajime Narukawa has created a new map of the world that is about to turn your homeschool curriculum for Geography 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 the 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 contents.  

 

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 recently 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

our rapidly melting ice caps. Homeschoolers could have some interesting discussion and study on climate change with this map as well.  


 

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!

 


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Colorado. She loves Colorado’s outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >

 

Do You Know These 5 Important Ways to Save Money While Homeschooling?

Do You Know These 5 Important Ways to Save Money While Homeschooling?


Money Saving Tips for At-Home Schooling

 

“I wanted to homeschool but when I looked into homeschool programs I felt like they were all too expensive.” A girlfriend shared this with me at the park as we discussed our kids education together. Parents with children in school spend anywhere between $200-$1500+ per student, per year on public school fees & supplies. At home school expenses can seem intimidating when a parent is looking to first start at home schooling.

 

Something that is important to remember when considering the financial implications, is you’ll be saving a ton of money on expenses you would be spending throughout the year. Commute expenses including wear and tear on your vehicle and gas costs driving to/from school (plus the added benefit of not spending an hour a day in the carpool line!), school lunches, extra fees for classroom parties, teacher gifts, school fundraisers, donation requests, etc. Homeschool programs can sometimes be as expensive as a school field trip, or with the right amount of looking free programs can be found. Most parents are pleasantly surprised to find they spend less in a school year than they did in a public schooling year.

ShillerLearning’s Top Five Money Saving Tips for Homeschoolers

 

  • Re-sell

 

This will mean something different to each family. Some families want a shiny new curriculum that they can resell it when their children are done. Other families purchase second hand curriculum or get hand-me-down curriculum from co-op friends. Check your local used bookstore and children’s consignment stores, they often have second-hand homeschool curriculum, sometimes in like new condition.   We occasionally have second hand curriculum offered on our website or join our Facebook community where people sell their Montessori inspired ShillerLearning materials when they’re completed with them.

 

  • Coupon!!

 

Don’t be scared, I’m not suggesting you go extreme couponing but keep your eyes peeled on coupons for craft stores. Those 40% and 50% off coupons can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars through your schooling time. The craft stores often have basic school supplies, organizing supplies, and great shelving for your Montessori materials. Check with the terms on your coupon, sometimes you can print multiples and go on different trips throughout the week or have each kid make a separate purchase. Also, check out mail in rebates, both through the store and directly through the manufacturer. Last year, I was able to get two reams of paper for 1 cent each and three packs of Sharpies for $1 each with rebates!

 

Bonus tip- Don’t forget to sign up for store loyalty programs. AND, often stores that offer an educator/teacher discount will extend this discount to at home schoolers. This is something they’re especially willing to do if you’re enrolled in an Umbrella school and can get a letter on school letterhead stating you’re a teacher for the school.

 

  • Think green & save green

 

Buy books second hand, find free eReader books through Project Gutenberg, host a book swap or visit the local library to keep your library fresh without spending too much money. Join a co-op and swap around Montessori shelf materials. Homeschool curriculum can be reused through multiple children in the same family, or resold. Curriculum in like new condition sells at a higher rate. Plus, it helps protect the environment. Consider using a job ticket holder and dry erase markers instead of writing directly in workbooks.

 

  • Shop Around and Ask for Price Matches

 

It pays to shop around. If you’ve got your eye on a homeschool curriculum, or a homeschool program you’d really like to attend, do your research. If you find the same curriculum, or a similar program, for less expensive, consider asking for a price-match. Local businesses are typically more than willing to do this as it helps them keep their business local. Online vendors can have prices vary up to 10% from one another. It pays to substitute a bit of your social media time to comparing prices and trying to get the best deal.

 

Bonus Tip- Don’t forget about web apps such as Ebates, Swagbucks, and Honey to get cashback or coupons on your purchases.

Do Your Shopping After School Has Already Started in Your Area & In the Spring

 

When I started homeschooling last year, we were also in the middle of a big transition in our living situation and had to replace virtually all our belongings. I went to the store the weekend after Labor Day to get supplies for the school year. There wasn’t a lot left, but enough of the basics remained. Best of all, they were 75%-90% off! The employee I spoke with at the store said they start marking supplies down the week after school starts and usually keep things available on clearance until they start setting up for Halloween. We were able to purchase everything we needed for our school supplies for under $25. Late winter/ early Spring is also a valuable time of year to start getting materials for next school year. This is the time of year many companies are attending conventions, and they often offer discounts to order curriculum during this time as well.

 

Want more money saving tips for materials? Check out these FREE Montessori Activities and Resources!


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >