Author Archives: Heidi Ciravola

3 Ways to Take Your Homeschooling Outdoors

3 Ways to Take Your Homeschooling Outdoors from Standard Deviants Accelerate

As the weather changes and gets nicer, we find ourselves with a real case of cabin fever here. Once spring hits we all just want to be outside. Problem is…we still have work to do.

3 Ways to Take Your Homeschooling Outdoors

1. Get Up & Get Out!

Just pack up your homeschool! If you want to head to a park, we usually have each kid pack a backpack with their supplies, from colored pencils to tablets and I pack a lunch.

You can even just head out into your yard. We have a picnic table in the backyard where the kids will head out with some of their work and maybe a snack or lunch and enjoy the nice weather while they work.

2. Nature Studies

I usually plan to switch to nature study type activities for science when spring hits. Everything from gardening to flower identification, making birdhouse, learning about bees, insects and more. This allows us a ton of life science time and gets us outside too!

Here are some great nature study options:

3. Change Your Schedule

There are two ways in which we have taken to rethinking our schedule to we can get more outside time.

  1. During the winter months we really “hit the books” and work our way through as much of the bull work as we can. This frees up our schedule some when the warmer weather comes so we can get outside more. Allowing for us to take trips to the park and leisurely do some reading, math, etc. outside and then enjoy being outside.
  2. If there are subjects that have stretched out too long, we may just put them aside. After all, how many spelling tests do you really need to take each year!

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10 Must Read Books for Teens

10 Must Read Books for Teens from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Celebrate Teen Literature Day is April 16, during National Library Week. For me this opens up a great opportunity to talk with our teens about what they are reading and have read, and what they are interested in reading. It also gives us a chance to suggest some books for them to read.

I have compiled a list of 10 Must Read Books for Teens. While I know there are many choices out there and that each family and their values vary, this is a list of some of my favorites as well as classics that you might want your teen to tackle.

10 Must Read Books for Teens

1. 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher - Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face.
2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
3. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – he Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece and one of the greatest American novels. Its themes of sin, guilt, and redemption, woven through a story of adultery in the early days of the Massachusetts Colony, are revealed with remarkable psychological penetration and understanding of the human heart.
4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – That neither nature nor nurture bears exclusive responsibility for a child’s character is self-evident. But generalizations about genes are likely to provide cold comfort if it’s your own child who just opened fire on his fellow algebra students and whose class photograph—with its unseemly grin—is shown on the evening news coast-to-coast.If the question of who’s to blame for teenage atrocity intrigues news-watching voyeurs, it tortures our narrator, Eva Khatchadourian. Two years before the opening of the novel, her son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-beloved teacher who had tried to befriend him. In relating the story of Kevin’s upbringing, Eva addresses her estranged husband, Frank, through a series of startlingly direct letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son became, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general—and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault?
5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
6. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a violent world, in which two young people fall in love. It is not simply that their families disapprove; the Montagues and the Capulets are engaged in a blood feud. In this death-filled setting, the movement from love at first sight to the lovers’ final union in death seems almost inevitable. And yet, this play set in an extraordinary world has become the quintessential story of young love. In part because of its exquisite language, it is easy to respond as if it were about all young lovers.
7. Harry Potter Series – by J.K. Rowling – One day just before his eleventh birthday, an owl tries to deliver a mysterious letter the first of a sequence of events that end in Harry meeting a giant man named Hagrid. Hagrid explains Harry’s history to him: When he was a baby, the Dark wizard, Lord Voldemort, attacked and killed his parents in an attempt to kill Harry; but the only mark on Harry was a mysterious lightning-bolt scar on his forehead.Now he has been invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the headmaster is the great wizard Albus Dumbledore. This series chronicles Harry’s adventures.
8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – In a remote Hertfordshire village, far off the good coach roads of George III’s England, a country squire of no great means must marry off his five vivacious daughters. At the heart of this all-consuming enterprise are his headstrong second daughter Elizabeth Bennet and her aristocratic suitor Fitzwilliam Darcy — two lovers whose pride must be humbled and prejudices dissolved before the novel can come to its splendid conclusion.
9. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer – Bella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Bella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Bella, the person Edward holds most dear.Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires.
10. A Separate Peace by John Knowles – Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

Many of the books I chose because they are so often referenced in movies, pop culture, and compared to in great literary works. To not know such works as Gone with the Wind or Harry Potter would mean missing many inuenduos and references.

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National Poetry Month Ideas

National Poetry Month Ideas from Standard Deviants Accelerate

April is National Poetry Month! Each year the month of April is set aside as National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate poets and their craft. Various events are held throughout the month by the Academy of American Poets and other poetry organizations. In honor of National Poetry Month, introduce your kids to variety of poets, poems, and poetic forms.

National Poetry Month Ideas

1. Poet of the Day

Head to the library and take out some poetry books. Either read to, or have your children read aloud, poetry from a given author. Below is a list of suggestions to get you started. Each day you can choose a different poet to sample.

  • Shel Silverstein
  • Jack Prelutsky
  • Walt Whitman
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • William Wadsworth
  • Robert Frost
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Maya Angelou
  • John Keats
  • William Shakespeare
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • E.E. Cummings
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Henry David Thoreau

2. Getting To Know You

After you have created a list of poets for each day, let your children pick a poet or two they would like to know more about. Have them do some research about the poets they chose. You can have them answer questions like:

  • What is their full name?
  • Birth/Death Dates
  • Where were they born? Where did they spend most of their life?
  • What was going on in the world during their lifetime? (wars, specific movements, etc.)
  • Type(s) of poetry they were famous for
  • Names of famous poems

3. Try Creating Different Forms of Poetry

Poetic “form” is a set of rules for writing a certain type of poem. These rules can include the number of lines or syllables the poem should have, the placement of rhymes, and so on. Here are some examples of different forms of poetry to try out with your children.

  • Rhyming
  • Theme/Shape
  • Tongue Twisters
  • Limerick
  • Haiku
  • Free Verse
  • Acrostic
  • Diamante
  • Cinquain

4. Poem Starters

Try using some of these poem starters to get the creative juices flowing.

  • Nighttime
  • a color
  • spring, summer, winter, fall
  • the ocean
  • birthdays
  • tree swing or fort
  • family (brother, sister, cousin, mother, father)
  • vacation
  • car travel (space, train, bicycle)
  • animals

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Reasons to Include the Library in Homeschooling

Reasons to Include the Library in Homeschooling from Standard Deviants AccelerateDid you know that April 10th -16th is National Library Week? First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

Reasons to Include the Library in Homeschooling

1. Change of scenery

The library offers a warm, dry, well lit place to get up and out. If you are low on outside activities, or just need to get the kids up and out, the library offers a place to go. Go just to look at books, create a scavenger hunt for you kids to find things while there, or take your school work to do there instead of at home.

2.Internet & Computers

If you don’t have Internet or computers the library is a great place to go for these things. Don’t let your homeschool be limited because you don’t have them!

3. Books, books & more books

While we do purchase some books, we take most of ours out from the library. It can be very expensive to amass a collection of books, especially if they are ones that will only get read once! The library book collection is a great resource for any topic you might be covering. My kids always enjoy hitting the library to pick out new books to read, and new books on whatever our current science or history topic might be.

4. Movies

I can’t tell you how many educational DVDs we have checked out of the library. We used to make it a sort of treat, a sort of fun afternoon when we had educational DVDs to watch. Make some popcorn or a veggie snack and settle the kids down to a video that is relevant to what you are studying. It makes for a great change of pace and a little bit of down time for you!

5. Information

Not only does the library contain books and movies, but there are magazines, music, and in some even iPads! But another great bonus of the library are the people, the librarians. They are a wealth of knowledge and information when it comes to research. Google maybe the latest research craze but there is no substitute for the interaction with and knowledge power of a good librarian!

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Spring Nature Study Ideas

Spring Nature Study Ideas from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Spring is a great time of year to get up and outside. Many have been couped up inside for the winter and are ready to get out. Usually by this time the kids are restless and the lure of the sun and warmer temperatures is great. Spring Nature Study is a great way to keep the kids learning and moving!

Spring Nature Explorations

1. Start by making a nature exploration kit.

Include things such as:

  • Magnifying glass
  • binoculars
  • compass
  • plain paper
  • colored pencils
  • pencils
  • pencil sharpener
  • one and one small tin
  • two little jars
  • plastic bags (ziplock and larger)
  • handwipes
  • nature study books
  • camera

2. Read, read, read.

Check out a stack of nature study books from the library. Books about bugs! Books about flowers and trees! Books about birds! Then take them outside with you. Head to a local park, walking trail or nature reserve – picnic lunch in hand – and do some reading.

Getting out into nature and observing all the plant and animal like around you will inspire your kids to want to learn more. You can curl up on a blanket in the grass and check out things you have seen outside in your books, or simply pick a book and dig in!

3. Explore, explore, explore.

Here are some ideas of things to check out in your spring nature study:

  • pond life
  • frogs
  • worms
  • butterflies
  • flying insects
  • insects in the garden
  • bees
  • ladybugs
  • birds (robin, bluebird, ducks, sparrows, hummingbirds)
  • flowers (lily, daffodil, tulip, sunflower, lilacs, rose)
  • trees (apple, maple, weeping willow, pine, oak)
  • animals (rabbit, squirrel, deer, chipmunk, beaver, fox)

4. Make a nature journal.

  • Draw pictures of what you see on your nature explorations.
  • Take pictures with a camera.
  • Find images on the computer to print of things you have seen.
  • Write your observations down.
  • Include important facts you looked up and learned.

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Pot of Gold Craft for St. Patrick’s Day

Pot of Gold - Rainbow Twirler Craft for St. Patrick's Day from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Alright, here is a fun craft that is great for the coming of spring as well as St. Patrick’s Day! With a colorful rainbow, a fun twisty twirly motion, and a pot of gold at the end!

Pot of Gold Craft for St. Patrick’s Day


  • Plain white paper plate
  • Paint in a rainbow of colors (you could also use markers or crayons)
  • Black and yellow construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • String or yarn


  1. Start by having your child paint (or crayon, or marker) rainbow stripes across the front of the paper plate.
  2. If using paint let it dry. (A hairdryer or fan are great ways to speed up the drying process.)
  3. Flip over and repeat step one on the back of the paper plate.
  4. Once both sides are colored and dry, take scissors and starting at the outside edge of the plate, cut spirals.
  5. Cut out a black pot of gold and glue it to the end of the spiraled plate. Glue some yellow circles on to the front of the black pot for the gold.
  6. Poke a hole in the top of the spiral (the opposite end of the pot of gold) and insert a string for hanging!

More St. Patrick’s Day Fun:

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10 Leprechaun Books for St. Patrick’s Day

10 Leprechaun Books for St. Patrick's Day from Standard Deviants Accelerate

While leprechauns might not be the center or reason for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, they are certainly a front and center icon for this holiday. Kids delight in the little impish creatures and their antics. Here is a list of leprechaun books to delight kids of all ages!

10 Leprechaun Books for St. Patrick’s Day

1. How to Catch a LeprechaunYou’ve been planning night and day, and finally you’ve created the perfect trap! Now all you need to do is wait. Is this the year you’ll finally catch the leprechaun? Parents and children will love starting a new St. Patrick’s Day tradition with this engaging and entertaining book!

2. The Night Before St. Patrick’s DayNatasha Wing puts an Irish twist on a Christmas classic. It’s the night before St. Patrick’s Day, and Tim and Maureen are wide awake setting traps to catch a leprechaun! When they wake the next morning to the sound of their dad playing the bagpipes and the smell of their mom cooking green eggs, they’re shocked to find that they’ve actually caught a leprechaun. But will they be able to find his pot of gold? 

3. That’s What Leprechauns DoWhat do leprechauns do? They bury a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, of course. But as Mrs. Bally Bunion’s ox, Miss Maude Murphy’s hen, and Old Jamie soon find out, they can’t resist having a little fun along the way. For, besides burying pots of gold, mischief is what leprechauns do!

4. Jack and the LeprechaunIt’s St. Patrick’s Day, and Jack Mouse is visiting his cousin Sean in Ireland. Sean tells Jack about the myth of leprechauns, and Jack is determined to catch one for himself! Children will delight in learning about Irish folk tales and traditions and the customs of St. Patrick’s Day

5. 10 Lucky LeprechaunsCount from one to ten as one little leprechaun looking for treasure magically becomes ten silly leprechaun friends at the end of the rainbow! A humorous, rhyming celebration of St. Patrick’s Day!

6. The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever!Share in this leprechaun family’s charming St. Patrick’s Day celebration, complete with a fun parade and an Irish feast!

“The St. Patrick’s Day parade is off to a very fine start.
The Leprechaun family is marching with lots of heart!
Share in their dancing, share in their fun.
You’ll have the luck of the Irish when this day is done!”

7. The Leprechaun’s GoldIn this classic Irish legend, two harpists — merry-hearted Old Pat and ill-spirited Young Tom — set off for a contest to name the finest harpist in all of Ireland. When Young Tom realizes that Old Pat is truly the better musician, he schemes to be the winner — but he doesn’t reckon with the clever trickery of a mischievous little leprechaun.

8. Clever Tom and the LeprechaunThis picture book version of “The Field of Boliauns,” found in several fairy tale collections, is retold simply and effectively by the author/illustrator of Momotaro the Peach Boy. The story concerns Tom, who traps a leprechaun into telling him where his pot of gold is buried under a bush in a field full of yellow-flowered weeds (the boliauns).

9. Too Many LeprechaunsOn St. Patrick’s Day, leprechauns are lucky. But on every other day of the year, they make for noisy neighbors — and they’re turning the entire town of Dingle upside down! Fortunately, Finn O’Finnegan always has a clever plan brewing, and this time, with a little luck of the Irish, it’s a scheme that just might fool even the cleverest of creatures.

10. The Leprechaun Trap: A Family Tradition For Saint Patrick’s DayA children’s book that tells the story of the naughty Leprechaun that comes to visit an Irish-American family every Saint Patrick’s Day and the damage he causes when the children try to trap him and get his gold. 

Other St. Patrick’s Day Fun

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15 Awesomely Green St. Patrick’s Day Foods

15 Awesomely Green St. Patrick's Day Foods from Standard Deviants Accelerate

St Patrick’s Day is a global celebration of Irish culture on or around March 17. It particularly remembers St Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who ministered Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. Many people don green clothing and accessories in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Parties featuring Irish food and drinks that are dyed in green food color are often part of the celebration.

Green St. Patrick’s Day Foods

Needless to say St. Patrick’s day is a “green holiday”. From shamrock shakes to shamrock socks we celebrate in part by wearing and eating as much green as possible. So if you are in search of green St. Patrick’s Day foods, here are a few to get your imagination running! Everything from breakfast to dessert and from healthy to just plain junk!

1. Pancakes – Start of the day in true green fashion with green pancakes. Make your favorite pancakes, add some green food coloring, and maybe some whipped cream and Lucky Charms cereal to top it off!

2. Shamrock Punch – With 2 simple ingredients you can have this fun and tasty punch. Use one carton of lime sherbet scooped into a punch bowl. Add ginger ale and allow it to melt slightly before serving!

3. Guacamole – Made from the super food avocados – makes a healthy green treat.

4. Sugar Cookies – Sugar cookies are great for any holiday occasion because you can decorate them as you wish. Top them with green frosting and decorations. Use a cookie cutter for fun shapes like a leprechaun or pot of gold.

5. Shamrock Shake – Ahh, minty green happiness. Serve your kids up a green milkshake as easily as adding vanilla ice cream, milk and green food coloring into a blender together. You can also you green colored mint chip ice cream for a fun minty flavor!

6. Grape Kabobs – You can do these in two ways; the first is just putting them on a kabob skewer. In the second way you can put them in the freezer and make grapesicles!

7. Green Fruit Skewers – You can make fruit kabobs with green fruit such as apples, grapes, kiwi, pears, and honeydew.

8. Cupcakes – There are so many variations you can come up with here! From green cupcakes to green frosting. Mint flavored or not. Mix and match with a green cupcake and white frosting, or chocolate cupcake and green frosting.

9. Spinach Quiche – Oh what fun to make spinach quiche for dinner! To make it even more festive consider making it in a 4 leaf clover shaped pan!

10. Shamrock Wraps – You can use spinach or veggie based wraps that are green in color to make almost any type of sandwich/wrap for St. Patrick’s Day lunch!

11. Pistachio Fruit Dip – This simple to make green treat is simply pistachio pudding and cool whip mixed together. Add in some green apples and you have a wholly green and healthy treat!

12. Soup – How about some avocado or split pea soup to green up your day!

13. Salad – A salad of mixed greens with cumbers, beans, avocado, apple, pear, and whatever else you want to add.

14. Pickles!! – Create a snack try with things like pickles, green olives, green beans, and cucumbers.

15. Pesto – Pesto is a sauce we love to have with chicken. Grab some bow tie noodles, cut up some chicken and add pesto sauce for a fun and healthy dinner!

Other St. Patrick’s Day Fun

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Color Mixing Fun For Little Ones

Color Mixing Fun For Little Ones from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Yellow and blue make green. How many times did we hear that as kids? But besides yellow and blue, what other colors can you mix together to make a new one?

Little kids love working with paint and smearing it about. This activity capitalizes on that by turning painting into a fun and educational color mixing activity.

Color Mixing Fun For Little Ones


  • red, blue and yellow paint
  • paint brushes
  • white paper
  • optional – a chart or image of the primary colors and color mixing
  • gallon Ziplock bag


1. Take some time to talk about colors. You can check out the book, The Wonders of the Color Wheel by Charles Ghigna. With catchy rhymes and colorful illustrations this book is a great way to start!

“Three bright colors for me and you. Primary colors: Red, Yellow, Blue!”

2. Print out a color wheel chart and have fun painting and exploring with the mixing of colors.  You can have your children create a final color wheel of their own to use as a reference as they move through and explore painting.

3. Have your kids paint something using specific color combinations. Introducing terms like complimentary and supplementary colors, this fun and hands on way can help kids to more easily retain the information.

4. A mess free version – For a no mess way to have even the littlest aspiring artist play with mixing colors, you can use a Ziplock bag. Take one bag and lay it out flat. Put one large drop of each of two different colors. Be sure to have them separated in the bag. For example yellow and blue spaced out so they are not touching. Seal the bag and then give it to little hands to smush and play with. Watch as the colors mix to create a new color!

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10 Must Read Dr. Seuss Books

10 Must Read Dr. Seuss Books from Standard Deviants Accelerate

On March 2nd we celebrate the birth of Dr. Seuss. While he isn’t a great American hero he is a great American author. Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Seuss Geisel and is  best known for authoring popular children’s books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. From board books for littles, rhyming, colors, mischief and more, Dr. Seuss is a household name.

In honor of Dr. Seuss, here is a list of must read Deuss books. Some very well know, and others possibly not so much, but all worth the time to read and share with the littles in your life!

10 Must Read Dr. Seuss Books

The Cat in the HatPoor Dick and Sally. It’s cold and wet and they’re stuck in the house with nothing to do . . . until a giant cat in a hat shows up, transforming the dull day into a madcap adventure and almost wrecking the place in the process!

Green Eggs and Ham“Do you like green eggs and ham?” asks Sam-I-am in this Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss. In a house or with a mouse? In a boat or with a goat? On a train or in a tree? Sam keeps asking persistently. With unmistakable characters and signature rhymes, Dr. Seuss’s beloved favorite has cemented its place as a children’s classic. In this most famous of cumulative tales, the list of places to enjoy green eggs and ham, and friends to enjoy them with, gets longer and longer. Follow Sam-I-am as he insists that this unusual treat is indeed a delectable snack to be savored everywhere and in every way. 

The Lorax“Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.” Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth’s natural beauty. 

Hop on PopLoved by generations, this “simplest Seuss for youngest use” is a Beginner Book classic. See Red and Ned and Ted and Ed in a bed. And giggle as Pat sits on a hat and on a cat and on a bat . . . but a cactus? Pat must NOT sit on that! 

Horton Hears a Who!Horton is back! After his first appearance in Horton Hatches the Egg, everyone’s favorite elephant returns in this timeless, moving, and comical classic in which we discover that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” Thanks to the irrepressible rhymes and eye-catching illustrations, young readers will learn kindness and perseverance from the very determined and very endearing Horton the elephant.

The Foot Book – This is a classic to-tapping Seuss book for toddlers about opposites. “Left foot, left foot, left foot, right, feet in the morning, feet at night.”

Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?Hears an introduction for babies to the wonderful mishmash world of sounds. Listen to the cow’s moo, the frying eggs’ sizzle, and the thunder’s boom boom boom. There are plenty of noises for everyone!

My Many Colored Days - WithSteve Johnson and Lou Fancher whose stunning, expressive paintings reveal such striking images as a bright red horse kicking its heels, a cool and quiet green fish, a sad and lonely purple dinosaur, and an angrily howling black wolf. Using a spectrum of vibrant colors and a menagerie of animals, this unique book does for the range of human moods and emotions what Oh, the Places You’ll Go! does for the human life cycle. Here is a wonderful way for parents to talk with children about their feelings.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas“Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot . . . but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!” No holiday season is complete without the Grinch, Max, Cindy-Lou, and all the residents of Who-ville, in this heartwarming story about the effects of the Christmas spirit on even the smallest and coldest of hearts. 

Go, Dog. Go! From big dogs and little dogs to red, green, and blue dogs, dogs going up and dogs going fast . . . who knew dogs were so busy? And laughter will ensue at the repeated question “Do you like my hat?”

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Create a Word Wall for Early Readers

Create A Word Wall For Early Readers from Standard Deviants Accelerate

When my children were younger I surrounded them with toys, games, and books to encourage them to read and to learn to have a love of reading. One of the favorite things we had was what I called the Word Wall. This was a place for them to explore and play with words.

Create a Word Wall for Early Readers

Our word wall was nothing more than a magnetic white board with magnetic letters and words that I created for it.


  • Magnetic white board
  • Magnetic letters (we had sets of Leap Frog letters that I used)
  • Paper
  • Markers
  • Stencils
  • Laminator
  • magnets
  • Plastic bin


  1. Using a list of common site words I created word cards for our Word Wall. I color coded the letters in the words to match the color scheme of the Leap Frog letters.
  2. With a stencil and markers I made a whole list of words and then laminated them and glued magnets to the back.
  3. I filled a shoe boxed sized plastic bin with the letter and words that I created.
  4. We then used the letters and words to play games and create sentences.

Games To Play:

  1. Have your child pull out words and say them aloud. If they don’t know them have them repeat after you.
  2. You can place words on the board and have your child create them with the letters from the box.
  3. Use simple words to create sentences on the white board. We started with things like The cat, The cat and the dog, The cat and the dog ran.

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Chores for Kids – A List By Age

Chores for Kids - A List By Age from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Chores for Kids – A List By Age

Ages 2-4

Yes, kids as young as 2 can help out with the chores! Assigning chores is all about encouraging participation in keeping the house where they eat, sleep and play in a clean and tidy fashion.

This is a great age to work on picking up after themselves. Have clear spots for their toys, such as specific bins and shelves where each things belongs. When your child is done playing have them return each things to its place. You will most likely need to do this alongside them and it might help to make it more of a game, but instilling this habit early is a good place to start.

Along these same lines they can do things like throw out trash and place dirty clothes in hamper.

Ages 5-7

  • feed pets
  • sort silverware
  • clear the table
  • load dishwasher
  • fold towels
  • match socks

Ages 8-11

We readily keep clean-up wipes under each of our bathroom sinks and the kitchen sink. This makes it easy for everyone to quickly wipe surfaces and spills.

  • vacuum
  • mop floors
  • wipe down counters
  • do laundry (I had my son at the age of 9/10 do laundry with me for months so he could successfully do it from start to finish. He was the one who did the laundry while I was away at a conference!)
  • put groceries away

Ages 12+

At these ages your kids can be trusted with harsher chemicals and more complex tasks.

  • ironing
  • painting
  • babysitting
  • lawn care such as mowing and trimming
  • meal planning
  • cooking dinner

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How Many Subjects Do You Cover Each Day?

How Many Subjects Do You Cover Each Day? from Standard Deviants Accelerate

This seems to be turning into a series of sorts, maybe “An Inside Look at Homeschooling”, or “Homeschooling is a Lifestyle”. Either way there are a couple of major themes to remember. First is that every homeschool is different. Second is that it’s perfectly okay to be different and to do what works for you and your family!

How Many Subjects Do You Cover Each Day?

I had to chuckle recently as my 9 year old 4th grader looked at her weekly assignment sheet and commented about how she had every subject that day! I don’t think that is something that happens too often, but when we have a busy week we have to utilize any day at home that we have.

So that begs the question, “How many subjects do we cover each day?”

As a general rule we cover math and grammar/English every day. Currently we have classes outside the house on Wednesday so we cut back on formal studies that day. Practicing their instruments is something they do every day as well. (When I refer to days I am speaking of week days, not including Saturday and Sunday.)

Science is something we typically do twice a week. This allows us to spend a little more time on a given day to cover hands on activities and labs.

When it comes to history it depends on if we are currently doing unit studies or using a curriculum. When we are doing more in-depth unit studies we typically spend more time on one or two days a week, opposite the days we are engaging in science. We are currently using a curriculum where they are reading from text and other supplemental books and completing written assignments. With this style we typically do it 4 days a week.

Current Weekly Overview:

  • Math 4-5x a week
  • English 4-5x a week (this would include spelling, grammar and writing)
  • Science 2x a week
  • History 4x a week
  • Music 5x a week
  • Art 1-2x a month

How many subjects you cover each day will depend on the style of homeschooling you choose, the number of days a week you are schooling, and how much time you are looking to devote to each subject.

Other Homeschooling Life Articles:

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Math Card Games

Math Card Games from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Math is often a subject that we don’t love to teach and kids don’t love to learn. By making math fun, or better yet making it seem like they aren’t even doing math, you can help your child become confident in their math skills. A great way to do this is with a deck of cards. Yes a deck of cards can help teach many math concepts!

Math Card Games

Here are a handful of games to try out with your kids using a deck of regular playing cards.

1. Greater or Less Than

# of Players: 2

Materials: Cards Ace through 10 for each player with the face cards removed

How to Play: One player selects are card from their hand that they don’t show to the other player. The second player selects a card from their hand and places it face up in front of them. This is their “guess” as to what card the first player has selected in their hand. The first player then tells the second player if the card they laid down is “greater than” or “less than” the secret card they selected in their hand. Play continues like this until player 2 has discovered the value of players ones card. Players then switch roles.

2. First to 50 Addition

# of Players: 2+

Materials: Whole deck of cards, and scrap paper for adding if needed

  • Jack = 11
  • Queen = 12
  • King = 13
  • Ace = 14

How to Play: Deal two cards to each player. Each player then turns their cards face up and determines their sum. For instance Player One might have Ace + 7 which equals (14+7) 21. Player Two might have Queen + 10 which equals (12 + 10) 22. The greatest sum is 22 so Player Two keeps their cards and the rest are returned to the bottom of the deck. Keep playing and dealing until the total value of one players cards equals 50 (or greater).

3. Odd-Even Race

# of Players: 2+

Materials: Whole deck of cards

  • Jack = 11
  • Queen = 12
  • King = 13
  • Ace = 14

How to Play: Place one odd numbered card and one even numbered card face up in the center of the table. Deal out the rest of the deck evenly. Players race to get rid of all of their cards by placing their odd numbered cards on the odd stack and their even numbered cards on the even stack. The first player to correctly get rid of all their playing cards wins!

More Fun With Math:

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How Many Days A Week Do You Homeschool?

How Many Days A Week Do You Homeschool? from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Since homeschooling is not the mainstream norm, there are always lots of questions pertaining to how people homeschool. While some people might be malicious in nature, most are just curious about something they don’t know very much about. Hey, even us homeschoolers want to know what other’s homeschools look like!

Here are a few examples:

  • Do you have a homeschool room?
  • What curriculum do you use?
  • How many hours a day do you homeschool?
  • Do you homeschool everyday of the week?

How Many Days A Week Do You Homeschool?

The question today is, “How Many Days A Week Do You Homeschool?”

I know some that would answer with something about how they are always homeschooling. Homeschooling is a way of life, a sort of life long learning process, therefore everything you do could be included under the umbrella of homeschooling.

4 days a week is also a very common homeschool schedule. This gives you a day to catch up, rest, run errands, etc. Many who school 4 days a week also leave one day for a field trip, or play date outside of the house.

We tend to school 5 days a week and not on the weekends. This means we do any formal learning Monday through Friday. Some days we have a lighter load, others we might set work aside for a field trip, and most often we have our afternoon completely free because we get things done in the morning. (How Long Is A Homeschool Day?)

There are also families juggling multiple work schedules and need to school on the weekends. They might school once during the week or in the evenings and then get the bulk of their stuff done on the weekend.

Anyway you slice it, each family works out a schedule that is best for them. What works for one, might not work for another and that is okay. That is one of the great benefits of homeschooling!

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