Friday, 6 February 2015

Homeschool for a Day

In my city, we've been having a rough winter, weather wise. School has been cancelled a lot lately due to snow, ice, or whatnot. There's only so many days you can spend free-styling life before you want to have a plan. I had a friend ask me for some homeschool for a day tips, and it got me thinking that more people might want to hear some easy ideas to keep kids occupied, especially when it's too cold to simply shove them out the door into the snow! I decided to break the ideas I have by subject matter for easier use.


When you're home, experiment based science is going to be your best friend. There are lots of easy ones you can do with basic ingredients. The important thing is to get the kids to make observations and then write and draw what they observed. I've included some links for experiments we loved.

Clean a Penny with Chemistry Make sure you have a lot of pennies on hand. I made sure to have one that were in different states of dirty so they could see how dramatic the change was for the dirtiest.

Alka Seltzer and Oil Lava Lamp My kids loved this one like crazy. Experiment with how different amounts of alka seltzer tabs to see the changes!

Melting Ice This is beautiful and made entirely with ordinary kitchen items. If you don't have time to make a big block of ice, either use ice cubes or, y'know, get some ice from outside your front door. I bet an icicle would be phenomenal for this experiment!

Frozen Bubbles I can't think of better weather to try this one! If you have to go out, might as well do some science while you're out there!

Inflate a Balloon with Science We enjoyed this one a lot. All you need is a balloon, an empty bottle, vinegar and baking soda!


Another important thing to do is work on various elements of language arts. Here are a few ideas to help with that!

Composition This link will send you to some writing prompts, but you could just as easily invite your kids to freestyle and simply compose a story. You can also challenge them to write a rhyming poem.

Spelling A great follow up to composition is to identify any spelling problems they encountered. Make a list of all the improperly spelled words and get them to write them correctly about 10 times. This will help them remember the correct spelling for the future!

Word Searches This is just an example of the types of word searches you can find if you go and search them on the internet. Print out a few at a time and set them searching. 

Handwriting For younger kids, practicing letters and handwriting is always a good idea. Set them down with a piece of loose leaf and ask them to write each letter 10 times. When they're done, identify letters they had problems with and spend time helping them write them correctly.


Work Sheets Find some work sheets for your child's age and grade. Let them do the worksheet alone and then come and check over their work. This will help you identify and help with any problem areas.

Word Problems Just like the other work sheets, print out some with word problems as this will get them thinking in a whole new way.


Art: Google a famous painter and learn a little bit about them. Find out what was special about their style and then see if you the kids can mimic something about their work. You can also do a project where you show how mathematical shapes can be used to form the basic shape of any object.

Geography: Pick a country and ask them to do a mini research project. Population, language, cultural dance, food, music, and history are all fun points to touch on. Consider setting them a list of questions to look for.

Baking and Cooking: Let the kids cook with you. Explain why the flavours work together, what culture the food comes from and what is nutritious about the food choices.

Play: Don't forget to have fun! If you're snowed in, try making some of the many home made doughs for some sensory play. I love adding some peppermint extract to make even the most basic dough fun! This no bake recipe was incredibly popular with my kids and help up nicely next to the name brand stuff.

I hope these ideas inspire you and help you through these long snowy days!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

You Can't Take it With You

We've all heard the old expression "you can't take it with you" so many times that it has probably lost its meaning. On the most basic level, it refers to the fact that we can't carry our riches to the grave. To me, however, it means a lot more than money. When I was reflecting on this today in prayer, I couldn't help but be reminded of all the baggage I carry with me that I can't take with me beyond this life. Some of it I probably shouldn't carry with me another day, to be honest. Each one of us has some kind of baggage. When I call it baggage the first thought is never pleasant. We are all collectors in one way or another. Collectors of things, feelings, experiences and grudges. We cocoon ourselves with our possessions, both material and mental, and clutch to them for dear life. But here's the kicker, we can't take our baggage with us to Heaven. Obviously we won't be able to bring the physical stuff like our money, finery or heirlooms. That's the stuff everyone thinks about when they hear this expression. The fact is that we can't take our grudges, wrong thinking, pains or self-obsession with us. My need to have the next best thing has no place in Heaven, because God is the best thing that has ever been given to me, and in Heaven I will at last have Him to the fullest. Before I can open myself to the fullness of God's self-gift to me, I need to let go of everything that is weakly trying to fill that deep, abiding need.

This duty we have to let go of all the "it" that we can't take with us is hard work. It can take a lifetime and more.When I'm on my deathbed, I doubt I'll be able to look back and say that I have reached a level of perfect detachment from all earthly things. I'll probably still be clutching my pearls, holding a stray grudge for a perceived slight or a real injury, and wrong about more than a few things. Very few of us reach a level of complete detachment, and by and large we get the pleasure of recognising them as Saints. Now don't get me wrong, it is my goal to find myself fully prepared for Heaven (I am one to set the bar high), but I recognise my weakness and inability to accept all the graces God pours out on my broken little heart. So where does that leave me? As a Catholic, I have the supreme comfort of realising God has prepared for me a place where I can finish whatever unfinished work was due to make me ready for the joys of Heaven. Purgatory, which is by the way not just a sort of eternal waiting room, is a place where I will be able to work to the purification of my soul while basking in the hope of Heaven. My hope will always be for my long home, but I rejoice in God's gift of my one day temporary home, that is Purgatory. Purgatory and purge come from the same word. It means to make clean or pure. And for all my friends who love to purge all your extra "stuff", use the same spirit and purge any emotional baggage you have too. Since we can't take material possessions with us anyway, we should get a head start on Purgatory and start letting go of our spiritual hang-ups.

Here's the lucky thing, if your "it" is love, you get to carry every last drop of that. So if there's anything you want to pile up, fill the rooms of your heart up with beautiful memories, love of others, hours of prayer for friends and strangers, and acts of kindness to one and all. The more you fill your heart up with love, the less room there will be for the "stuff" that clutters up your life and your soul. Now that it's a new year, maybe we can take on the challenge to say goodbye to a little more brokenness and welcome in more love.