Christmas Break

Ahhhh, Christmas Break!! Time for a much needed retreat from school and lesson plans. If your homeschool is anything like ours, you need the break as much as your kids do. There are still tons of fun activities that you and your kids will not want to miss out on during this season.

One great activity for fourth graders is making their own Christmas gifts to give to family and friends. This would be a wonderful time for your daughter to learn how to crochet and make a scarf for dad, or for your son to learn some woodworking and make a spice rack for mom. If these projects seem to advanced you can check the internet for an overwhelming number of Christmas crafts to do with your kids.

Teaching About Thanksgiving

You’ve certainly taught your kids about Thanksgiving. But have they learned about the first Thanksgiving? It of course wasn’t called this at the time. There is so much to learn about this vast subject. There is the whole history of the Pilgrims and where they came from and why they came to America. There’s the Native Americans and what their culture looked like and how they helped the new settlers. Or you can shift your focus to which President made Thanksgiving a national holiday and what was going on in the world at that time.

These subjects can be advanced for gifted children or more simple for special needs learning. You can include spelling lists and word games to make the learning more fun. You may think that you’ve already exhausted the information for teaching your kids about Thanksgiving, but with some thought and planning there is always more to be learned.

Our Brave New Electronic World

I was thinking the other day about how many things we don’t use anymore in our techno saturated world! For instance, when was the last time you actually used a map to get somewhere? Most of us rely on GPS these days. Map reading seems to be going the way of cursive handwriting. It doesn’t seem to be something we bother to teach our kids anymore.

Personally I still love a good map! I feel they are still important to help kids learn geography. It’s fun to pull out the US Atlas and figure out how long it will take to get from where you live to Grandma’s in the next 3 states over. In fact, that sounds like a great homeschool lesson!

Planning for the New School Year

Have you decided what to use for your curriculum this year? It can be a tough decision or an easy one depending on how well what you’ve been using is working. The problem I usually run into once I’ve decided what to use is that I plan to do too much. It’s too easy to overestimate how much my kids and I can to in one week, or one day. Don’t forget to leave time for your kids to be kids! Some of the best learning happens when it is totally unplanned.

Summer Boredom Busters

I’m bored!! How many time during the summer do you hear that from your kids?? Try sending them off to play educational games. This will also help prevent brain drain over the summer.

Check out some of these great sites for learning games:

Your kids will have fun while learning and mom will get a break form hearing how bored they are!

Summer Reading

Summer is a great time to encourage your 4th grader to be reading. How do you get reading lists that are appropriate for elementary age students? I encourage you to check with your local library. Also a great site for homeschoolers to check is Homeschool Literature.com.

Some of my favorite books for 4th grade include:

If your child is a reluctant reader, you may want to think about audio books instead. The are a great alternative and can be listened to in the car on that summer vacation trip!

Non-book Learning

Are you feeling like you didn’t do enough with your kids this school year? It is certainly not uncommon for homeschool moms to feel like that. With summer around the corner and annual evaluations due, we start to feel like we are the ones who will be tested rather than our kids. Perhaps it will help to stop and remember all the non-book learning they got this year. Learning like that field trip to the history museum where they got hands on history. There’s all the time they spent in the kitchen learning measurements and other kitchen math. Some of the best learning kids can do never involves a book!

365 Days

The end of the year will soon be here. 365 days is a long time. So many things happen along life’s journey. Some things are just run of the mill everyday activities. There are also lots of days of joy about a new family member being born, a lost tooth, a favorite birthday gift, a special Mother-Daughter day or a special Father-son day, finally memorizing your multiplication facts, the loss of a family pet, a best friend moving away, getting stitches, moving into a new house, an awesome vacation, winning the homeschool co-op’s spelling bee… Memories are made everyday.

It might be fun for you and your kids to write down your memories so you can read them many years down the road. I would also suggest that you begin a scrapbook for the new year. It can be a fun educational project because it involves writing, art, history, math…Most of all, it helps the family bond.

Christmas Trees

Do you cut your own Christmas tree, or do you put up an artificial tree? We have done both. The artificial tree has a few benefits such as it doesn’t drop needles, I already have it so I don’t have to spend any money, I don’t have to add water, and I don’t have to drive anywhere to get it. Those benefits are great, but somehow they don’t always add up to the thrill of going to a Christmas tree farm and selecting your very own tree and chopping it down. What a great family activity!

You can make this adventure educational if you choose. Have your kids research different varieties of Christmas trees to see which one might be the best choice for your family. Have them make a chart showing the pros and cons of each tree they are considering. They can even draw and color a picture of the different trees.

Feeling a Little Burnt?

The excitement of the new school year has most likely worn off by now. Are you and your kids feeling a little burnt out? It might be time to relax just a little. Since the holiday seasons are upon us, try taking a break from your regular school routine. Add online educational games, holiday baking, holiday songs, holiday themed lessons and such to the mix. Let the kids help you shop for groceries for Thanksgiving and Christmas by putting them in charge of comparing prices. Have them write a Thanksgiving poem to share with the grandparents. Let them design your Christmas card this year. The possibilities are endless.

Just remember to take the hard-core learning a little slow and enjoy the ride. They have a lifetime to explore the world of learning, besides, they learn even when you are cooking in the kitchen, driving the car, or cleaning house.  The old saying about only being young once is very true. Before you know it, your fourth grader will be a senior.