Like so many of you, our family is thinking more and more about the impact we make on our planet. While there are many great resources to teach children about conservation, nothing beats hands on experience! I’ve always wanted to compost, so this year we finally did the research and got started! Here is a look at what you need, plus tips from other composting families!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Composting: Tips to Get Started
What to Buy
If you have a big enough space in your backyard, there is no need to purchase a bin; however, if you have a smaller yard, as we do, or simply don’t want to use your yard space for a compost pile, there are great options for composting bins you can purchase!
After a lot of research, we purchased a FCMP Outdoor IM4000 Tumbling Composter. It is perfect for us because it doesn’t take up much room and is super easy to use. The kids love helping turn the bin!
The guide put out by our city recommends the Compost Bin by GEOBIN. It is easy to set up and very economical.
An easy way to collect your kitchen scraps before taking them out to compost is an indoor bin like the Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Compost Bin for Kitchen Countertop. It is small enough to sit on the kitchen counter and comes with a lid and charcoal filter so you don’t have to worry about a smell! Just to be clear, this isn’t actually for composting, just to collect the scraps until you can take them outdoors.
What does multicultural parenting look like in our family? Today I’m honored to bring you my recent interview on Talking Louis, part of their series of interviews called My Mixed Life. Read on for more details!
What does being a “world citizen” mean to me? How does being in an intercultural marriage influence how we are raising our children? Find out answers to these questions and more on this interview on multicultural parenting:
Looking for a simple, well-organized planner that you can customize to your needs? Tired of writing in all the Bahá’í holy days and Feast days into your planner? Want help planning family service projects and holiday celebrations? The Coral and Pearls Planner for Baha’i Parents is for you!
The Coral & Pearls Planner for Baha’i Parents was born out of my own need to have a planner customized for the needs of Bahá’í parenting, such as inclusion of Bahá’í holidays and space for reflection. In this 42 page planner, you will find pages monthly and weekly calendars, as well as pages to plan service projects and Holy Day celebrations.
This digital planner can be downloaded to your computer and printed as needed. Here’s what you will find:
Monthly Pages (includes Bahá’í holidays and Feast days)
If you are a homeschooler, don’t miss our Homeschool Supplement! As a homeschooler myself, I was searching for a planner that would fit my needs as a Bahá’í parent. While many of my needs & interests are common to other Bahá’í parents (and included in the main Coral and Pearls Planner), I also knew that there were other concerns specific to homeschoolers. In this digital Homeschool Supplement, you will find templates for fleshing out your family’s daily and weekly routines, organizing curricula and resources, as well as (of course!) lesson plan templates.
I also know how diverse homeschoolers are! There are so many ways of organizing a homeschool; therefore, I have included several different lesson plan templates, also recognizing that some of you may not use lesson plans at all!
The Homeschool Supplement is designed for you to print as needed. This way you can print only the pages that fit your homeschool. Inside you will find:
July 30, 2020EducationComments Off on Homeschooling Tips from a Veteran Homeschooler
The uncertainty of the coming school year has led to many people switching to homeschooling or at least considering their options. I have gotten a number of questions from friends and readers about what homeschooling is really like, and what resources I recommend. As a result, I decided to sit down and write out my top homeschooling tips based on my 5+ years of homeschooling, including favorite resources and how homeschooling is different from traditional school. If you have any additional questions, please ask in the comments!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Homeschooling Tips and Resources from a Veteran Homeschooler
One of the great things about homeschooling is that it is so flexible. There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers, so exactly how you go about it is really up to you! Structure, more flexibility, or no structure? Mostly online, some online, or none at all? You get to decide! While that freedom is wonderful, for many it may also be daunting. Read up on different types of homeschooling, such as classical (which we mostly follow), Montessori, Charlotte Mason, etc. and see what works for you.
2. Instruction time is less than you think.
With all of the homeschooling styles, however, one constant is that homeschooling instruction time is generally less than you’d expect, especially when compared to traditional schools. Consider that you are given more individual attention to their child than they would receive in school and that less time is taken up in administrative tasks like roll call and paperwork.
3. Your classroom may look very different.
While many new homeschoolers try to recreate a traditional classroom in their home (nothing wrong with this, some children work best in that setting!), oftentimes a homeschool work environment may look very different. While some of my friends are lucky enough to have a separate room in their homes that they’ve set up as a school room, my children usually do their work at our kitchen table (or, in the case of my oldest son, on the couch). But that is only some of the time. While we do a lot of book work, a lot of our instruction time is done outside our home – either in our backyard or at the park as we explore nature, or (when we are not in a pandemic) on field trips to museums and art centers.
For new homeschoolers, this may not “feel” like school, but trust me, your kids are learning tons! I’m sure my kids remember Alice in Wonderland much more because of the play we saw, and they always grasp a concept through hands on learning more quickly and fully than through lecture. And don’t discount the practical lessons they learn from helping with meaningful work around the house.
How do I get started?
1. Take time to figure out your priorities.
What is important to you? If you are planning to homeschool only for a short time, are there certain goals that you’re trying to achieve before your child returns to traditional school, such as improving math or reading skills? Does your child need more or less structure? Are you hoping to give your child more flexibility than she would typically get? Do you want to connect your child to nature? Do you want to read great books together? Do you want to focus on issues, such as racial justice, that aren’t well addressed in many schools? Once you are clear in your priorities, it is easier to pick a homeschooling method (see above).
2. Join a network.
I have done lots of research on educational methods and homeschooling, but still I’ve learned the most by talking with other homeschoolers. They are a great source of information as well as (also very important!) sympathy. Only another homeschooler can really understand what you’re attempting to do or what you’re going through while you do it.
It is easy to find Facebook groups for homeschoolers. My advice would be to join at least two of them: one local group and one specific to the method of homeschooling you are going to use. The latter will help you with homeschooling tips for putting your philosophy into motion. The local group can help you navigate local requirements as well as clue you in on local resources, like upcoming events or the best place to buy school materials. You may even start teaching together cooperatively. And of course, once we are able to mix more freely, you can get together for park dates!
3. Give yourself time to figure it out.
As with parenting itself, you won’t really know the best method for you and your family until you try some out. Keep your priorities in front of you, but allow yourself to change how you are going to achieve them. Over the years I have changed which curriculum I use with which child, how I organize our schedule, and what I have emphasized in our studies. To some extent this reflects my own evolution, while it also reflects how our family has changed.
When I began homeschooling, I had a five year old and a toddler. I only intended to homeschool my older son for about six months. He had outgrown preschool, and I was just biding my time until he was old enough for kindergarten. But as we began, I saw how he was blossoming in a way he never had in preschool. And (as my husband likes to point out, especially on the tough days), I discovered that I really enjoyed it! Now I am homeschooling all three of my children, ranging from TK to 5th grade. I am also much more clear about my homeschooling philosophy than I was when I started. But it takes time, which can be frustrating, but there is also a lot of joy and discovery in the journey.
What curricula do you recommend?
As with everything stated above, this really depends on your philosophy and your child’s needs. Below is what has worked for my family, which encompasses two very different learning styles. Most of what I am recommending is based on the Classical method, though most would work for other methods as well.
Here are the curricula, materials, and other resources I recommend:
Want to teach your children about racial justice but not sure where to begin? Looking for tools to incorporate discussions of race into your classroom? Luckily there are so many great resources available these days. You can find me today over at Multicultural Kid Blogs, sharing the best resources we have found from our bloggers and across the internet for teaching kids about racial justice. You’ll find everything from lesson plans to children’s books, plus much more:
February 27, 2020EducationComments Off on Keep Math Lessons Fun with Online Curriculum
Does your child struggle with math? Are you a homeschooling parent who dreads teaching math to your child? Keep math lessons fun with an engaging online curriculum! Read on to access a free trial, plus enter for a chance to win a subscription!
My 7 year old recently took a survey of our friends and family (kids and parents alike) to ask whether they liked math or science better. As a former member of my junior high school’s Algebra and Geometry teams, you might guess which I picked! Yet I was overwhelmingly in the minority. The results were 25 for science as compared to just 2 for math! (Thanks, sis! I knew I could count on you to love math as much as I do!)
I was floored, and yet it made sense. Over and over I hear from homeschooling friends how much they struggle when teaching their children math, either because their kids hate it, or the parents never liked it themselves, or both. And I’ve seen with my own children that the one subject they are most likely to put off until the end of the day is math.
Until we found an online program that was fun and engaging and that also ticked all the boxes for me as a parent and teacher. Read on to see why we love it, and how you can try it for free – and enter for a chance to win a free subscription!
Disclosure: I was sponsored by CTC math to review their comprehensive online math curriculum program and am excited to share my experience as well as an awesome giveaway! All opinions are mine alone.
Keep Math Lessons Fun with Engaging Online Curriculum
Is math time the most stressful time of day for you and your child? Try CTC Math, a fun and engaging online curriculum!
Engaging Online Math Lessons
Now that we’ve started this online math curriculum, my kids actually look forward to their math lessons. CTC Math is a computer-based program that uses short video tutorials with colorful graphics. These are then reinforced by interactive exercises. There is also the option to have the exercises read out loud, which is great for younger kids who may be just learning to read. Of course, it’s not just that the videos and exercises keep math lessons fun. That multi-sensory approach actually helps students grasp and retain the information more easily.
Easy to Navigate
My four year old was so interested in the CTC Math program after watching her brothers that she insisted on getting a chance with it. With just a brief introduction, my little preschooler is now able to use the CTC Math program on her own. That’s how easy it is to navigate! (Note: The lessons begin with kindergarten, but advanced preschoolers may be able to do some of the early counting lessons).
CTC Math is not simply a set of math games to reinforce what you are teaching. It is a full-fledged math curriculum that goes all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade. Although each video tutorial is short (keeping kids from losing interest), they cover each topic well. I feel comfortable that my children will get an in-depth understanding of each concept through this math curriculum, making my job as a homeschool parent so much easier!
Adjusts to Work for Your Family
One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that I can adapt my lessons to fit the needs of my children. CTC Math does the same. Your child can learn at their own pace – repeating lessons if needed, or jumping ahead. If your child is ahead in some concepts but behind in others, it is also easy to move between grade levels and find the exact lessons that they need. For example, my 1st grader was ready to move on to the 2nd grade level when it came to learning about place value, but still needed some reinforcement with his 1st grade addition. And if you’re not sure exactly where to place your child, you can use the diagnostic tests to hone in on exactly the level that they need.
Keeps Me Informed
Parents have a separate online portal from students, so I can get reporting on how my children are doing. I can log in from anywhere to check on how they’re doing, and even get weekly progress emails.
The pre-adolescent years are a time of great change, which often brings confusion but also growth. Kids have to deal with bullying, friendship, family issues, and discovering their own unique voices. For many, sports can be a fun way to sort through these issues while also exploring their own interests. Below are wonderful new middle grade books about sports that teach life lessons that kids this age often face.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the books below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Middle Grade Books About Sports and Life Lessons
Ollie dreams of being a pro wrestler one day, so he can win back the golden championship belt his mom lost to a cheating opponent years before. But it’s not until he is given a disgusting, old piece of gum that belonged to a former wrestling champion that this scrawny boy sees any hope that his dream might actually come true. Slamdown Town is the story of what happens when a kid is suddenly able to transform into the body of a pro wrestler. Ollie thinks it’s a dream come true – a chance to win back the championship belt, get enough publicity to save the local arena, and maybe even get revenge on his bullying older brother.
Yet as Ollie’s attention becomes more and more absorbed by his secret identity as a wrestler, it has grave consequences for his already lackluster grades and for his relationship with his best friend Tamiko. In the end, Ollie has to decide what is most important to him and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get it.
Slamdown Town is a super fun read, even for someone like me who isn’t a big fan of pro wrestling. It’s obvious that the authors are huge fans, and their (and Ollie’s) enthusiasm is infectious. Also, the dialogue is hilarious! I especially love Tamiko, Ollie’s best friend and a girl gamer who keeps Ollie on his toes. (And by the way, I love that Ollie and Tamiko are besties without any hint of romance). Plus the descriptions of his older brother and his attempts to be cool are particularly funny. A fun book that explores life lessons in a very unusual way.
When Jack starts fifth grade, he hopes that the bullying from the year before will stop, but instead it starts again with increased fervor. To make matters worse, he is afraid to tell his best friends and his parents, because he doesn’t want to look like a coward. Jack tries every solution he can think of to avoid the bullies, but they always find a way to make his life miserable. Meanwhile, his shame at not being able to handle the problem himself only increases.
Buddies, Bullies, and Baseball from TCK Publishing explores the all too common theme of bullying. What makes this latest book from Phyllis J. Perry different is that it not only gives Jack’s perspective as a bullied kid, it also helps him see how easy it is to be unfriendly people that are different. When Jack is assigned to help a new student from Germany, Jack struggles to be patient with Hans’ lack of English and frequent misunderstandings. Yet eventually he learns to appreciate Hans, in part through their common love of baseball.
When his bullies steal Jack’s prized baseball mitt, Jack knows they’ve gone too far and comes up with a plan to stop the bullying once and for all – but only after enlisting the help of his parents, friends, and teacher. A great book about friendship, courage, and knowing when to ask for help.
When my friend Daria from Daria’s World Music approached me about sharing her Indian drum craft along with a related children’s book, I was so excited! Daria and I have been friends for a long time, and I’m a big admirer of her work. She does such an incredible job of getting kids excited about world music. You can see below how much fun we had recently making the dhol Indian drum and reading a folktale about it!
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of some of the resources below for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Indian Drum Craft and Book
The dholis a drum from North India and surrounding areas, especially the Punjab region. This double-sided drum is hung around the neck with a thick strap and played with wooden sticks.
It is easy to do with resources you probably have on hand right now.
The kids loved getting to decorate the drums with their own designs, but best of all was running outside once they were done to find sticks and get playing!
While the kids were working, I read them The Drum, a folktale from India about a boy who longs for his own drum. Being from a poor family, however, he knows they cannot afford it. But when his mother brings home a magical stick, given to her by a mysterious stranger, the boy’s luck changes. He immediately begins a series of adventures, where his compassion leads him to help people in need, who each repay him as best they can. In the end, he gets his drum! A really fun story of a good-hearted kid being rewarded for his kindness.
These wonderful books celebrate African-American heroines by having black girls not just as side characters but as protagonists, in settings as diverse as rural Jamaica, a modern city, and a space station. The list includes picture books as well as an early chapter book and a graphic novel, because black girl magic is for kids of all ages! Be sure to hop over to Multicultural Kid Blogs read the full list:
Welcome to one of my favorite annual events, Multicultural Children’s Book Day! This event helps promote multicultural books for children and advocates for more diverse children’s literature. You can join in by participating in today’s Twitter party (see below) and taking advantage of the linky party and free resources listed below! Read on for more details about Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020.
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.
Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.
MCBD 2020 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board:
We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.