Is the Caesar Salad named for Julius Caesar? Or did he invent it? Did the Ancient Romans even EAT salads?
And so begins a fun learning experience for a Latin class that's tiring of chanting amo - amas - amat - amamus - amatis - amant!
I recently hosted a Latin Feast for my Latin I and II students in our homeschool day-school where they study the language together in small classes once a week. We use a traditional text (I like Glencoe's Latin for Americans), but we also try to supplement with fun stuff that will keep them interested when the conjugating gets old. While we ate foods that would traditionally be served at a dinner table in ancient Rome, we also dug into some trivia and busted a couple of myths.
In case you're wondering, the Caesar Salad has nothing whatsoever to do with Julius Caesar, or any ancient Roman for that matter. It was named for a restauranteur and originated in Mexico in the 1920s. The ancient Romans DID however, eat salad regularly.
We explored the idea of the ancient Roman vomitorium.
C'mon, don't look horrified. You've all heard about how the Romans would stuff themselves at a feast, then go into a special room to...ahem...MAKE ROOM for second or third helpings.
And that room is called a vomitorium, right? Let's decline it. 2nd declension, neuter. Vomitorium, vomitorii, vomitorio, vomitorium, vomitorio.
Except that's kinda-sorta a myth.
Vomitorium is indeed a Latin word (2nd declension, neuter). But it refers to the tunnels or alleyways that were built to allow for the rapid exit of huge numbers of people from a stadium or other large public place. The poor unwashed would "spew out" of these exits so that the fancy, wealthy folk could make a grand exits in style without waiting behind the little people.
So did the Romans slip quietly out of the dining hall for a few moments to "MAKE ROOM" for seconds and thirds? Probably. They went to the bathroom, which had no special name related to spewing of any kind. (And so, apparently, did citizens of many ancient cultures. A feast meant a feast, and you ate for hours and hours in order to avoid insulting the host, and sometimes you got full.)
I hope you're laughing and not turning green! I know that my high school Latin students were delighted to go on this trivia quest and myth-busting adventure with me!
What trivia and myth-busting adventures can you go on to keep your homeschool fun?
Coming Summer 2014 to our Ebookstore: Fun and Games with Foreign Language from 7Sister Kym Smythe! Keep an eye out for it. Kym has years of experience creating wonderful games to help students master foreign languages.
Paying bills in real life is not a lot of fun. But practicing the skills you will need to pay real bills later can be a lot of fun for high school students.
Our homeschool co-op has been tackling Consumer Math and Economics this year, and we used Alpha-Omega LifePacs and PaceMaker Economics (Globe Fearon) for the foundation of our curriculum, but some of the best learning has actually happened during the supplemental game playing we added to keep the class fun.
There are lots of online resources to help teens learn about money management, and these are some sites you might want to check out for supplementing your curriculum:
Practical Money Skills for Life - Financial Literacy for Everyone has articles, games, different types of calculators and videos among their free resources.
TeenDollars.org is the online business of Reading High School in Ohio. The "For Students" tab there has lots of simulation games to try. The "For Teachers" tab has free lesson plans, plus links to more games and resources.
In addition to online resources, we played old-school board games like Life and Monopoly immediately after learning about the financial literacy concepts that show up in those games. We also laughed really, really hard!
When my son Jonah offered to "help out" another player by "adopting" his kid (he bought him!) in a game of Life, it became one of the greatest running gags of our co-op year. Whenever Connor does something wonderful at co-op and one of the moms applauds him for it, the other kids say, "Yeah, sure, Connor's great...but don't forget he SOLD his kid to Jonah!"
There's lots of silliness involved, but there's also real learning. The idea that raising kids is expensive looks one way when you are the kid who's being told, "Sorry, we can't afford it right now." It looks very different when you are playing Life and find you have no money to put toward college for your plastic-peg children!
The concept of wisely spending money in order to make money becomes very concrete when you are playing Monopoly, carefully saving your dough, only to see your friend sweep a win by recklessly building hotels on every property.
What are some games you can add to your homeschool to learn financial literacy and maintain the FUN?
Another piece of preparing for responsible adulthood is Career Exploration. Vicki's etext is a guided, practical workbook that takes teens through an exploration of their gifts and interests, their struggles and personality quirks, and helps them find careers that might be a good fit. Click here to check out Career Exploration in our ebookstore. There's also a FREE questionnaire you can download to get you started thinking about the years to come in the work force!
Essay writing is so important. High school students do well to write lots of essays. But very few teens I know think of essay writing as one of the FUN things they do in high school. Here are some ideas to put the fun in that will keep them writing diligently.
Goofy topics still require sound reasoning and good writing. Let your teen compare and contrast 2 silly things like Batman and Superman or salty vs. sweet snacks.
Time to write a literary analysis essay? Let your teen pick a little kid's book like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish or Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom.
Persuasive essays really lend themselves to fun topics. If your teen was given permission to try to persuade you of ANYthing without getting in trouble, what might he or she pick? Even if you have said, "No more about it! You may NOT have a pet alligator!!" allow your child to write a persuasive essay on the topic and see how much effort goes into the assignment.
When you are preparing your student to take the SAT or to write essays under time pressure, try cooperating with friends and plan a practice-essay day. Yes, they will have to sit around the table and write two timed essays, but in between they can have lunch together, play a game, or do some other fun project. If you couple the hard stuff with some fun, they will be more likely to put their hearts into the tough part.
Has your teen read any good essays? Sometimes I find that high school students believe the essay to be merely a tool for torturing young people during their academic careers, and don't realize that essay-writing is truly an honorable form of written expression. Read some famous essays (satirical ones are particularly fun, in my opinion) and discuss what qualities about them are inspiring or challenging or irritating. Just search online for famous essays...there are oodles of 'em!
For a great series of Essay Writing Guides from Marilyn Groop, click here to visit the ebookstore.
Middle School Essay, Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced Essay Writing Guides, comfortably priced at $6.99 each, break the essay-writing process into manageable steps, and don't lose sight of the fun factor.
This year our co-op added fun to our study of World Geography by dedicating our Spring semester to student-researched topics from around the world, presented to the group using free Prezi presentation software online. The students evaluated each other's work on rubrics each meeting.
5 Things That Made This Fun For Us:
1. High school students are often a bit...weary of listening to their moms teach them stuff. They liked taking the reins. Here's a link to the sample Prezi I made to show them all the program and how our work would be planned for the Spring semester.
2. Using technology feels necessary to most teens. They have grown up in a digital world. Learning via tech is natural for them.
3. Rotating responsibilities meant that each kid had "easy weeks" and "hard weeks," and they all really respected their classmates' presentations when they knew it had been a "hard week" for that kid.
4. They taught each other tech tricks while they taught each other Geography. When one discovered how to do cool animations in his presentation, the others all went, "Ooo! How did you make it do that?" and an impromptu tech training session happened then and there. So much better than seeing, "Learn to use animations in Prezi" on the syllabus.
5. Peer pressure is sometimes a really good thing. One week my son put forth sub-par effort. Okay, that's an understatement. He totally threw something together last-minute and it looked like it. Instead of mom giving him the evil eye, sighing, and launching into a lecture, he had to face the evaluation of his friends on their rubrics. When his lame Prezi ended, they lovingly said, "Dude, really? You can do better." And next week his presentation was a zillion times improved!
How have you used technology to add some fun to high school homeschooling?
Here's an absolutely UNIQUE curriculum resource for studying World History. Why not study it from the perspective of the IDEAS that shaped cultures? Vicki Tillman and Dr. Micah Tillman's World History and Philosophy does just that. My son used this etext last year and really loved it. It inspired him to want to dig deeper into Philosophy (he's taking a follow-up course this year) even as he learned about the history of the world. Check it out here!
Simple as straws! When you want to work on place value with your elementary homeschooler, try Wayne Thorp's excellent hands-on project! Wayne is a math specialist (and Sister Allison's husband).
Helping a child get a grasp on place value is as important as understanding that specific arrangements of specific letters make words. Having just ten symbols (0 – 9) with infinite (literally) possible arrangements, a firm grasp on the concept of value being dependent on placement is imperative. How to teach such a vital concept? Simple as straws!
This activity can be done by an individual child or a group of children.
1. Gather several hundred (yes, 1000+) of any common household object. Drinking straws, craft sticks, and coffee stirrers work best. And a handful of rubber bands in various sizes.
2. Dump all the objects into the center of the workspace. Have the student(s) estimate how many are there.
3. Bundle groups of ten objects and band them together. Chat during this (long) section of the activity about what comes in groups of tens (fingers, toes) and how, when writing numbers, whenever we get to a new group of ten, something happens.
4. Once all bundles have been made (make sure there are some NOT bundled) talk about how many groups of tens there are. Show how those groups are named and recorded: 1 group is called ten and written 10; 2 groups are called twenty and written 20; and so on and so on.
5. Ask what happens once we get to ten groups of ten. Bundle ten groups together and give its name (if your child has not figured out that it is one hundred).
6. Put this hundred group together with some of the individual groups of ten and name and write these group (1 group of one hundred and three groups of ten are named one hundred thirty and written 130; and so on and so on). Make a group which includes the hundred bundle, some tens and some unbundled objects for naming and writing as well.
7.Bundle another group of ten tens for a second hundred. Repeat the activities in the previous paragraph. Proceed to bundle more groups of tens into hundreds until ten groups of hundred are made. Then bundle, give the name one thousand, and repeat the above paragraph’s activities making sure you name and record the numbers for each grouping.
This activity can certainly be broken up into a multi-day event. Keep all the bundles, they come in handy when one is counting into the hundreds and are a vital visual for adding and subtracting numbers which require regrouping!
One of our most popular books for parents homeschooling elementary children is our Social Skills for Children. This $3.99 downloadable ebook includes 10 activities for learning important social skills that build confidence and grace in children.
Speaking of place value, here's Sabrina's vlog on Place Value:
We are SOOO excited to introduce to you FREE apologetics curriculum from Good Answers Ministries.
Dr. Gerald R. Culley served as classics professor at the University of Delaware for 40 years. Since his retirement, he has been traveling to homeschool groups, Christian schools, and churches presenting his popular Good Answers lectures.
One of my son's favorite homeschool teachers has been Dr. Culley, who shares his apologetics with our local umbrella school. Seth says that the things he learned from Dr. Culley helped him solidify his Christian faith and be able to discuss controversial topics better.
Dr. Culley believes that his material should be "forever free", so although it is copyrighted, it is available at no cost in our ebookstore. The first 3 lectures may be presented in either of two ways.
-PowerPoint-based, they will run automatically with timed advances and narration.
-Alternatively, you may mute the sound and use the accompanying script to have a live presenter before the audience.
Please download this marvelous curriculum to share with your family or local community!
Here is a short video from Dr. Culley explaining his vision, along with some recommendations from local homeschoolers (including my son).
I never get tired of acrostics. Since homeschooling middle school years were some of my favorite times, how about an acrostic to celebrate?!
Learn to persevere in tough subjects
Encourage healthy friendships
Social skills and graces are necessary to build...
Only God's strength will pull you through some days...
Old and New Testament studies help build character
Love, love, love
NOW: You'll relate to Sabrina's Romans 8 for Homeschool Moms
I asked my Sisters to remind me of their favorite homeschool curricula for the middle school years. Take a look and then let me know about YOUR favorites:
Most of us tried lots of different publishers looking for the perfect vocabulary curriculum. By middle school, most of us had settled on Wordly Wise or EPS Vocabulary from Classical Roots. They present a good mix of challenge, critical thinking, and memorization. Our struggling learners worked on Pearson Education's World of Vocabulary.
Language Arts- Grammar and Mechanics
Well, there's no consensus amongst us, so I'll tell you my favorite. In middle school, I always use A Beka. It does a marvelous job of skill review and explanation of new concepts. It is comprehensive, has color workbook format, and is good prep for high school. (Although we always skip the sentence diagrams.)
We never found a writing curriculum that inspired creative thinking and fun while developing solid skills. So in our co-op, we devised our own. Now 7 Sisters has published the writing guides for you. For some creativity, 7th or 8th grades will probably get a kick out of our Introductory High School Poetry Writing Guide (written for novice high schoolers and appropriate for upper middle school, too). Also check out our Middle School Essay Writing Guide- non-threatening introduction to essays!
Language Arts- Reading
Real books. Newbery Winners, old classics, fun new novels. In co-op, we did unit studies and made study guides (we were aiming for no-busywork, don't-kill-the-book format with inspiration, background, vocab, and comprehension). Our most popular lit guides used by our middle schoolers have been: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, God's Smuggler, and Anne of Green Gables.
Also, for developing inferential skills and getting lots of classics read, we LOVE Edcon's Bring the Classics to Life. These workbooks abbreviate a classic novel and build in skills in a quick, easy format. While they are useful for elementary homeschoolers with reading skill, we have used them often with our middle schoolers to make sure they are solid in their inferential and comprehension skills.
Hands-on, in-depth, easy to use mathematics: Math-U-See. Wonderful stuff!
Humorous word problems, computerized instruction, scoring: Teaching Textbooks.
We had 2 schools of thought on this:
Unit studies like Konos done in co-ops.
Globe Fearon: Concepts and Challenges in Earth Science and Life Science. The 2-page lessons make learning quick and easy and helps kids ease into reading science texts.
Without a doubt: unit studies in co-op. (Sometimes we used Mystery of History with the kids because it has so many hands-on ideas.)
What are YOUR favorites?
(BTW- this is not a sponsored post. We are simply sharing ideas about homeschool curricula that we used and liked.)
In case you feel overwhelmed with your middle school planning, have some fun with Sabrina Juggling Jello.
Would you like to have breakfast with Vicki, Kym and Sabrina on Saturday at 7:30 before the first session for the day?
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See you at 2:1!!
I've homeschooled middle school a bunch of times. By the time I got to kid #5, I had some very specific goals for these precious and important years.
There is not just one way to homeschool and your goals may end up looking different from mine, but I am sharing mine today as a jumping-off point for newcomers to the adventure.
Goals for Homeschooling Middle School
I used middle school to introduce essays and longer papers with more details like citations, examples, and transitions. My kids who didn't just read for the joy of it, read more books- especially classics or Newbery Award winners. We didn't waste the fun of middle school by trying to imitate high school too early (jumping ahead and doing very rigorous work will be good for some kids, but lots of tweens need to balance fun and work).
2) Develop some strengths
Middle schoolers have the developmental need to be industrious. While some would prefer to simply be industrious at online games, all need to explore new things. As they find a talent, you can gently look for ways to develop it. My kids played sports, musical instruments, drew, memorized Scripture, wrote stories, re-enacted historical events, and more through middle school. It was a time to start trying on hats.
I did this for my kids by teaching them how to start and continue conversations, how to exhibit lady-like and gentlemanly behaviors, looking for quiet kids and talking to them. This SERIOUSLY adds confidence. Check our ebookstore for the social skills I drilled into my middle schoolers.
4) Take lots of field trips with co-ops or friends
You won't have so much time for field trips in high school. Get it out of your system now and you'll really enjoy the few you can squeeze in during high school.
These are the last truly carefree years. (Not that high school doesn't have fun- but the level of responsibility is so much higher then.) So have fun, lots of silly/zany fun!
What were some of your goals for homeschooling middle school?