Hard to believe we’ve reached the last year of middle school! Even though we’ve incorporated some high school level work last year, this year seems like a huge milestone.
We’re also starting the school year in a bit of flux. I’ve been the primary caregiver for my grandparents for the past three and a half years. Since both of them have now passed away, it’s time for me to get back in the the working world. That means restarting my small business consultancy – now in a city I’ve been living in for almost four years but where I don’t have many business contacts. We also need to find an affordable, safe place to live and move in the next few weeks. Anybody surprised that I’m a little behind on planning for the school year?
I’ve been researching open-source and online curriculum for a while. Not being tied to one curriculum works well for us and having everything online is especially helpful this year since I have no desire to move a year’s worth of books almost as soon as we get them. Fortunately, I have a student who is very much a self-starter when it comes to getting his school work done. Our homeschool planner does double-duty, outlining the “plan” for each week and recording anything extra that gets done.
My 8th plan isn’t fancy, but it should get us started and on track through the move at least. We can always add to or adjust as we go. Here’s the resources I’ve pulled together for our year so far… (more…)
For us, especially in the pre-school and elementary ages, homeschooling looked a lot like kids just go everywhere mom goes. These little sponges pick up so much, incorporating lessons and practice into everyday tasks. We even created a catchphrase, singing “Everyday Math!”, any time we had to figure some real life math problem.
Bringing kids along everywhere has some challenges though. The number one difficulty for us – waiting. Whether standing in line or long rides in the car, bored kids quickly turn into grumpy kids. Our solution was playing games whenever the need arose. Looking back, quite a few of our silly games laid important foundations in math, language and thinking ability.
#1 – The Alliteration Game
Take turns adding words to a sentence, each beginning with the same letter or sound. Sentences don’t have to be true but should be grammatically correct. Words can be added at any point in the sentence. Small words (articles, prepositions) don’t have to be alliterative. Example:
Grumpy gorillas grab
Grumpy gorillas grab grapes
Grumpy gorillas grab grimy grapes
Grumpy gorillas grab gross, grimy grapes
Grumpy gorillas grab gross, grimy grapes
Grumpy gorillas in Granada grab gross, grimy grapes
Grumpy gorillas in Granada greedily grab gross, grimy grapes …
Keep going until you’re out of words to add. (Our record is 35 words!) If kids get stuck, prompt with questions. What adjective could you use to describe the gorillas? How did they grab them? Is there an adverb for that? For younger kids its great for building phonemic awareness. Older kids get to practice and learn new vocabulary and reinforce parts of speech.
#2 – Higher or Lower
The classic number guessing game. One player chooses a number and the other(s) close in, being told higher or lower after each guess. Easily adapts for younger kids (1-10) or older (1-1,000,000). Develops number sense, reasoning ability and mental math calculations.
#3 – Share a story
Take turns telling a story. Start out by asking the kid(s) for a character and setting, the crazier the better. Then each person takes a turn, adding 2-4 sentences to move the story along. After the story is over, older kids can be asked to identify the plot, conflict, or resolution to add to the educational aspects.
#4 – Word Association
This one has only gotten more fun as my son has gotten older (and built a bigger vocabulary). Start with any compound word. Take part of the word and use in a new compound word or phrase. Continue, building the bigger chain you can without repeating. Or make the goal to get back to original word. Example:
Chips and dip
Stick in the mud
#5 – 20 Questions type games
I Spy… I’m thinking of a food, an animal, etc… Classic 20 questions. These types of games – where the chooser can only answer yes or no to the questioner – develop logical thinking and questioning skills and can be played with any child old enough to speak.
Do you have any games to add to the list? Share them below!
For more about how we’re using fanfiction writing in middle school check out this post.
Resources for students and parents
** An Important Note – Fanfiction is extremely popular. If it’s a book, movie, TV show, celebrity, or anything else in pop culture – there’s probably a fanfiction work (fanfic) about it. Writers range from preteen to adult and the content of their writings range from G rated to Explicit. Many sites give authors the ability to give a rating to their works, but ratings are self-determined and not consistently applied. Depending on your students maturity and level of responsibility, you may want to restrict access or discuss appropriate reading and what to do if a story they’ve started isn’t what they expected.
Sharing your Work
kidfanfiction.pbworks.com – Contains material appropriate for K-6 students. Submissions and comments are emailed to the site administrator who moderates for violence, language and adult themes.
teenink.com – National magazine and website with submissions sole from teens. Has a fanfiction section as part of the overall fiction & novels section. Also accepts poetry, non-fiction and art work. Submissions may be printed in national magazine or featured on website. Allows comments on submissions. Stories, comments and forum posts are filtered for content.
fanfiction.net – Large repository of fanfics. Must be 13+ to create an account. Self rating system K (all ages) – M (Mature themes, older teens and up). Per guidelines, explicit content is not allowed. Ability to filter by content rating .
archiveofourown.org – Contains millions of works. Must be 13+ to create account. Self rating system General Audiences to Explicit. Many works are not rated and ratings are not consistently applied. Mature themes and sexual content common. Ability to filter by content rating.
Google Docs – If you want to share student stories only within a small group, Google docs could work. Enable sharing with specific files, or create a shared folder in Google Drive and all documents within the folder will be able to be viewed by authorized users.
More options for sharing with the world at large include publishing your own website on WordPress.com, creating a Tumblr.com account, or sharing on wattpad.com. Each has it’s own benefits and drawbacks.