Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Recipe for Success

Today's topic for Home Education Week over at Principled Discovery is "Recipe for Success" -

share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.

First, here are some tried and true recipes that have given my kids hours of fun.

Simply pour about 2 cups of cornstarch into a mixing bowl, and add enough water to make it soupy. Pick up a fistful of the sloppy mixture and sqeeze it. It should hold together and feel a bit dry. Open your hand and watch the mixture melt before your eyes and drip through your fingers! Punch the oobleck in the bowl. Then slowly push your fingers into the bowl. Oh so much fun!!!

You need:
Borax ( find in the laundry detergent aisle)
Elmer's white glue
food coloring

Make a solution of 6 T. water and 1 tsp. borax in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 1 T. glue, 1 T. water, and a couple of drops of food coloring. Stir a scant 2 tsp. of the borax solution into the glue mixture. Stir until it gets thick. Knead the Gloop until it is pliable. Then roll it, bounce it, stretch it, pull it, snap it.... it is similar to silly putty.
* make sure child is old enough NOT to eat this
Store in a ziploc baggie in the fridge

Salt Dough
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 T. vegetable oil

Place flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Add boiling water all at once; don't stir yet. Let cool for 10 minutes. Now stir with a wooden spoon, and then when it is cool enough to touch, knead by hand to squish everything together. Add oil, and knead some more to form a smooth dough.

Great fun for studying geography! Make relief maps on stiff cardboard (pizza boxes work great) by drawing the outline of the landform and then covering with a layer of salt dough. Add mountains, rivers, lakes, etc. Let dry for several days, and then paint with tempera or acrylic paints.

Now, for my homeschool "recipe for success" - flexibility, fortitude, patience, and laughter.

  • flexibility - remember that you are a FAMILY, not a school; there WILL be interruptions, there will be illness and out of town guests and errands that must be run and broken down appliances and bad attitudes ... all those things that need your immediate attention; it is okay to go with Plan B or C once in a while; come back to Plan A as soon as you can

  • fortitude - homeschooling isn't for the faint hearted! There will inevitably be obstacles, criticism, and difficulties. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary says that fortitude is passive courage, the habit of bearing up nobly under trials, dangers, and sufferings. Just understanding that there will be trials and difficult days helps us not to panic; notice the word "habit" - a habit is a characteristic acquired through repetition! Homeschooling gives us lots of opportunity to practice fortitude!

  • patience - people will often say, " I just don't have the patience to homeschool!"; but patience is an acquired virtue! it is similar to fortitude - a habit that comes with practice; it is important to recognize that children and adolescents are not miniature adults, but are immature in their thinking and in their responses; it is my responsibility as the adult to set a good example and to remain calm and steady - even if I don't "feel like it".

  • laughter - Proverbs 17:22 says " a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones"; have fun together as a family - tell jokes, play charades, go camping, sing silly songs; sometimes it is important to just put aside the "to do list" and enjoy being together

As far as curriculum that I find effective, after 10 years of homeschooling I found a curriculum that pulled together all the elements I would have included if I had written it myself - Tapestry of Grace. TOG is an "integrated, unit-study approach to Classical Education" that is organized around a chronological study of history; utilizes wonderful living books; includes lesson plans for K-12 so all your children are included; and covers history, literature, writing, geography, worldview, fine arts, philosophy, and church history. It isn't the easiest or cheapest thing around, but it is wonderfully rich and varied and reflects a biblical worldview, showing both the good and the bad of the history of mankind, but through it all the threads of God's amazing grace and purpose for his creation. You can try a 3-week sample of TOG for free, either Go to Egypt or Sail to the New World. (I'm trying to get hyperlinked buttons for these loaded onto my sidebar, but right now I'm having "technical difficulties") TOG isn't for everyone, but it is worth checking out if it sounds appealing.


Renae said...

Thanks for sharing the great recipes. I always think I should make some goop, but I have yet to try it. Maybe I'll give that assignment to my son. :)

kim said...

I just found your blog recently. After eleven years of homeschooling I tried the TOG sample. These have been the best three weeks I can remember having in years. I look forward to ordering a years worth. Thanks for sharing.
kim (little sanctuary)