Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Homeschooling Life :: Changing Gears - A Mini Semester

My youngest son has already finished his first term of 5th grade. Boy, that went fast! We have about 6 weeks before our Christmas break and since we homeschool the next six weeks will consist of a mini semester of learning. While we will still complete his daily work, (math, language arts, etc.), I'm changing the normal school routine by providing a few major differences to keep him engaged before the holidays. 

While change is not always a good thing for him, we've thoroughly discussed the upcoming differences to lessen any surprises and I've asked him about a few topics he might like to cover in addition to his regulars. He was very eager to help me make plans and he is really looking forward
to our new lessons.

Here's a peek at some of his additional educational experience and life lessons:

National Novel Writing Month (

November heralds this yearly festivity of writing daily to produce a novel within a single month. While my
5th grader isn't quite ready for this heavy writing load, I'm planning on adapting this wonderful concept to
meet his needs and my writing requirements. Each week, he will write mini books and 
learn how to develop the plot, conflict, characters, and even provide illustrations for each of those. 

A great book to kick off this writing lesson is The Library Mouse written by Daniel Kirk. The story focuses
on a mouse who writes a variety of stories that he shares with the children who visit the library and they, 
in turn, create their own little books to share with others. This is one of his favorites to read.

Art & Drawing

In addition to our artist study, we will begin taking a look at the works of naturalist John Audubon in 
preparation for our avian studies beginning next term. 

We will also work on creative arts via mixed media using several ideas and techniques presented by 
one of my favorite online art bloggers, The Artful Parent. She currently has several posts using 
natural fall elements with art techniques. Zentangling leaves in silver and gold is first on the list of fun
art projects.


Beyond nature study, I've got a plethora of great science experiments and activities planned to accompany 
our recent readings on Issac Newton and the adventures of Lewis & Clark. In regards to Newton, we will
be investigating matter, mass, friction, prisms, density, momentum, forces and more. Lewis & Clark's 
exploration has my guy interested in animal tracks, creating his own sextant, learning how to map
with the stars, and making his own candles. Check out some of my pins on Pinterest! 


My son is also very eager to delve deeper into the Native American tribes encountered by Lewis & Clark
during their travels. We'll spend more time reading up on the individual tribes and create a map depicting
tribal boundaries during Lewis & Clark's time. 

In addition, we will review the history we just completed in our first term and create an interactive timeline 
of events and people. I'm really looking forward to seeing what aspects of history he finds important 
to include on his timeline and why. 

Christmas & Winter Holidays Around the World

This was one of the topics requested to be covered during our mini semester and I am happy to oblige. 
I think cultural studies is always a plus and what better way to do it then through holidays and customs! 
We will start with Christmas and then work our way through the others - Hanukkah, Las Posadas, 
Saturnalia, Boxing Day, Festivus (just kidding!), and a few others. I'm hoping to find books in our library 
about all of these different holidays and allow him to find activities relating to them. Our children's 
museum is also hosting a program in early December about different Christmas traditions, so we
will be sure to attend. 

We will also read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol over the next six weeks. My youngest has performed 
in the theatrical production of the story, but I would really love for us to sit by the fire each day and 
enjoy reading it together. I can just see him now, curled up with his cat and drinking hot cocoa. 

Handicrafts & Community Service 

My youngest is planning to work on several handicrafts before winter break, mostly making Christmas 
gifts, but he also wants to learn how to weave his own fishing nets like Lewis & Clark and create a solar
oven to cook smores. 

He and I have a special project we will be attempting, too. It's called Kokedama and it is the Japanese art
of enclosing a plant's roots in a ball of moss and then suspending the plant to create a small hanging 
garden. It resembles the art of bonsai, but it is much simpler and less time consuming. 

Throughout the year, we work on various community service projects. This six weeks, he will be 
collecting canned foods for the Thanksgiving Food Drive, as well as working on several other smaller
projects. We will also be filling 2 bags for the homeless.
I'm hoping he also chooses a random act of kindness he can bestow upon someone.

We have a lot to accomplish in six weeks, but it will be fun and interactive. I know we will both enjoy it! 
As we move through our lessons, I'll share some pictures, our activities, and how it all ended up. Hope
your school year is moving right along and don't be afraid to change things up a bit to keep you fresh an 
an educator and your learner engaged in their lessons.

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