Easy Ways To Handle Screen Time in Your Home

Easy Ways To Handle Screen Time in Your Home

In this day and age where there’s a screen everywhere you turn – on the walls, in our pockets, on our wrists – the temptation to allow those screens to occupy and entertain our kids is strong. We start off with, “A little bit of screen time won’t hurt. Let me put on the TV for them for just a few minutes so that I can get some stuff done,” only to realize, hours later, that our kids have watched an entire season of their favorite show. Or we hand them an iPad so that we can get an hour of uninterrupted work done, only to hear a meltdown when the battery on that iPad has died.

And then the day comes when we say, “Let’s go out and play,” and meet resistance because our kids would rather stay inside and play a video game or watch TV. Or they have a fit if we don’t allow them to take a tablet when we run errands or go out to eat.

So we ask ourselves, “How do I handle screen time with my kids so that they grow up to be well-adjusted human beings?”

Five Steps to Reasonable Screen Time

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

As a homeschool mom, my kids are home more than most. Consequently, they’ve asked me about watching TV / playing on their iPads / playing video games A LOT. For the sake of my own sanity, and for peace in our home, I’ve established a couple of rules and utilize available tools that allow my kids the pleasure and benefits of screen time while encouraging them to see the fun and find the pleasure in other activities.

Distinguish Between Types of Screen Time

In my humble opinion, all screen time is NOT created equal.

I’m a big believer in educational screen time, especially for students that prefer visual and interactive learning methods. An educational program that is well-researched and caters to young learners can teach visual learners more in 30 minutes than hours of reading and conversation. And educational apps allow kids to practice “boring” academic skills in a pleasurable way.

Video games, movies, and TV shows with little educational value are a different animal. I categorize them as entertainment, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if used wisely. The danger we run into is allowing our kids to believe that it is appropriate to spend the majority of most days simply entertaining ourselves. I’d much rather teach my children that, while entertainment has its place, there is pleasure to be had in learning, creating, and interacting with actual human beings (rather than the one-sided interaction they have with screen personalities).

In our house I categorize the following as educational screen time:

  • Educational / learning apps
  • Documentaries
  • Educational television programming (ex. PBS Kids, The Magic School Bus).
  • Video lessons
  • Online learning

Establish Rules for Access to a Screen

Establishing family rules for screen time and sticking to them limits incessant questions (“Can I watch TV?” “Can I play on the iPad?”) and parenting guilt. In our home, our family rules make a distinction between the types of screen time (outlined above).

I’m sharing our current family rules with you simply as an example. Please keep in mind that every family and season is different, so our family rules may not be appropriate for your family.

  • No video games (Xbox, Nintendo Switch) on a school day. Not even during the evening.
  • Only educational shows during the school day, after school work is done. For us, the official school day ends at 5pm, so my kids are allowed to watch TV / movies that I would categorize as entertainment after that time if they have completed all of their schoolwork and have behaved reasonably well. The exception to this rule is 30 minutes of educational programming that I’ll put on during lunch (see the next section for more details) while I eat lunch and read (how I recharge).
  • Only educational apps on their iPads during the school day, after school work is done if they have behaved reasonably well. I explain how I enforce this rule in the Screen Time Setting section further down. In this way, playing on their iPads serves as a reward for getting their schoolwork done in a timely way, while also allowing them to do some independent learning. I was inspired to go this route when I thought about my own childhood. I had a fourth grade teacher that allowed us to play a game on a computer in the schoolroom if we got our assignments done. It was first come, first served, so quite the motivator. This was waaaaaaay back in the 80’s, so the games weren’t very exciting (or educational, actually), but still a nice motivator.
  • Screen Time that is part of our schoolwork does not abide by these rules. For example, all of my kids have at least one subject with video lessons, so those are used during the school day. I assign my oldest schoolwork with apps like Rosetta Stone and Quizlet, so those are done during the school day as well. My oldest also has access to Minecraft on certain days of the week in order to complete his science lessons. And I try to incorporate educational programming (usually while the kids eat lunch) to cement science and history lessons.

Enforce TV Limits with Your Television’s Sleep Timer Function

As a homeschooler and someone that spends a lot of time with her kids, I don’t feel the need to eat every meal with them. On the contrary, meal times are a good time for us to spend some time apart so that I can regain my sanity recharge for the rest of the day. So I usually allow them to watch educational programming during lunch for a special treat.

The problem with putting the TV on during lunch is that, if I get distracted, my kids can easily “eat lunch” for a couple of hours watching show after show. The way I handle this is that I use the sleep timer setting on my television to turn off after 30 minutes.

Setting up the sleep timer for 30 minutes will allow my kids to watch one episode of an educational television series geared for kids (such as you might see on PBS Kids). In order for them to see an entire episode during that 30 minutes, I use the PBS Kids app on our Apple TV, or choose an episode of something like The Magic School Bus on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Once the TV turns off, my kids know that lunch is over and it’s time to do their Kitchen Chores.

Our TV’s sleep timer has made such a difference in my day that I seriously feel a deep sense of joy and appreciation every time I use it. I love it so much that I’d marry it. Just call me Mrs. Timer.

Limit Access to iPads / iPhones with Screen Time Settings

iPads and iPhones have fantastic parental controls in the Screen Time section in Settings. (Just be sure to put your iPad in a kid-safe case.) Simply click on the Settings app and find the Screen Time section on the left. I recommend poking around in all of the Screen Time settings and familiarizing yourself with them, but specifically look at the Downtime and Always Allowed sections.

screen time

Enable Downtime (see below) and click on Customize Days. My kids don’t normally get their iPads until after their schoolwork is done for the day, and I’d rather that they not have access to them until after our official school day is over (5pm). But if I do give them access to an iPad before 5pm (i.e. during the schoolday), the only apps they get access to are educational. I manage this by setting up Downtime from 8am-5pm on schooldays.

screen time

I then go to the Always Allowed portion of the Screen Time section and choose educational apps to be available at all times, even during Downtime. Any apps that I don’t mark as always allowed (see below) are grayed out on the home screen during Downtime. Note: You must download apps to the iPad in order to mark them as allowed during Downtime.

screen time

The following images show you educational apps that I allow my kids to use during Downtime. Some are free, but some require purchase or even a subscription.

Use Guided Access to Manage How Your Child Uses an iPad/iPhone

Another useful setting that you can use as a parental control is Guided Access. In order to use this feature, you’ll need to enable Guided Access in the Accessibility section of the Settings app.

Click on Passcode Settings and set a passcode or enable Touch ID (Touch ID can be convenient or infuriating – more on this further down).

You may also want to set Time Limits or change the Auto-Lock setting during a Guided Access session, but come back to those settings later after you’ve had some experience with this feature.

With Guided Access, you can keep your kids in a particular app. For example, let’s say you want them to work on telling time for 10 minutes. You first open the app, then triple-click the home button to get the following screen. (Guided Access needs to be enabled in Settings – see above.) `

You can simply click Start, which will keep your child in the app (based on the settings for Time Limits you’ve chosen). To end the Guided Access session, triple-click the home button and enter your passcode. If Touch ID is enabled, touching the home button will end the session.

You can also click on Options and play with the settings, depending on what you want to allow your child to do during the Guided Access session.

You may want to disable Touch if you want them to watch only a particular show, or allow them to use the volume buttons. Green means that item is allowed, gray means that it is disabled for the Guided Access session. In the image above, the child will not be able to use the Sleep/Wake or Volume Buttons, but will be able to interact with the game via Touch.

But what if you change your mind about the settings after you start Guided Access? Theoretically, you should be able to triple-click the home button to get back to the settings screen. But here’s where the Touch ID gets tricky. If you have Touch ID enabled, you have to be super-quick about triple-clicking because touching the home button will end the Guided Access session. But if you disable Touch ID in the Guided Access section of the Settings app, triple-clicking the home button during the Guided Access session should show you the settings screen and allow you to change the settings, and then resume your Guided Access session. I hope that makes sense!

While too much screen time is detrimental to how a child develops and matures, using screen time wisely can help us to manage our days in a way that allows parents to focus on other things while kids feel like they’re getting a treat.

Homeschooling During the Coronavirus Crisis

Homeschooling During the Coronavirus Crisis

List of helpful products and resources near the end of this post.

School closures across the country mean that families are unexpectedly homeschooling during the coronavirus crisis. Families like mine that homeschool can carry on as usual for the most part. Field trips, co-ops, and classes outside our homes may be canceled, but we are accustomed and equipped to educate our kids at home. We have schedules, supplies, and curriculum, so our poor kids are getting no/little interruption to their schoolwork and education. 😜

But how about families whose kids attend public/private schools? Schools in our area aren’t planning to open again for another month, and some districts are already saying that they will be closed indefinitely. School officials and teachers are working hard to help their students continue their education at home in some way, but it’s a HUGE lifestyle change for families, especially when one or both parents are also working from home.

I’ve had a couple of conversations with non-homeschooling family members about how to tackle this lifestyle change. Homeschool-specific advice doesn’t fully apply in this temporary situation, so I thought I’d share some thoughts and recommendations about how to get through this season of life. Please keep in mind that I’ve never worked as a teacher and do not have a degree in education (I do have a degree in computer engineering and 13 years working in the computer industry, so there’s that). This advice is based on my almost-five years of homeschooling our three boys (currently 5th grade, 2nd grade, and Kindergarten) while trying to turn the hobby of blogging into something more. I hope that it’s helpful to you!

Ok, let’s get started.

Define a Schoolwork Space

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

I highly recommend that you define a schoolwork space in your home. Typical after-school homework may happen wherever – living room, bedroom, kitchen – but doing ALL schoolwork at home is different because a lot more supplies/resources are involved and you’ll likely be doing some teaching.

Your two main needs will be a work surface (ex. desk, kitchen table) and storage. A solution that worked for us when we were moving and going through a minor renovation in our new home was a file crate for each child that held all of their schoolwork, along with a pencil case for pencils, erasers, crayons, markers, etc. You may also want your own crate with teacher supplies, like notebooks, pens, small whiteboard/markers, boogie board, etc.

The beauty of a crate system is that you can take it right where you need it and then store it in a closet when not in use, but really any shelf or cabinet will do. If you do store your supplies on a shelf or in a cabinet, I recommend that you find one close to your work area so that kids don’t wander off to another room to get a book or whatever and simply not come back because they get distracted. It’s little frustrations like that throughout the day that lead to chaos and turn an ok day into a bad day.

One note about using file crates – you may want to color-code your crates for your children. Even though I color-code my kids’ supplies, I purchased white crates for all of my kids because they are normally kept in our schoolroom and sit on their workboxes. But that turned frustrating after a month. Ideally, you should all be able to glance at the crate from any direction and know who it belongs to. And it really helps if you need to send a child to get something out of their crate. Rather than digging through a sibling’s crate and ruining your attempts at organization, they can go directly to their own crate and get what they need.

(I also color-coded their pencil boxes and even started wrapping the tops of their pencils with washi tape in their color so that there weren’t arguments over school supplies or who left their pencil on the floor/in the kitchen/in the laundry room(?!).)

Please keep in mind that your main schoolwork space doesn’t have to be the only place you do schoolwork. I’ve loved days that we’ve done schoolwork outside, at a picnic table or on a blanket or even in the trampoline. I wouldn’t recommend doing all schoolwork for a day in those locations, especially when you need a lot of supplies for a particular subject or activity. But reading and workbook-based schoolwork are good options for taking outside.

Define School Hours

I think that this will be one of the biggest differences for families that are accustomed to dealing with homework during the evening. You might think that it’s not necessary to define specific hours because you and your kids have the whole day to get things done. But please trust me when I tell you that during the evening, when you and your kids are tired (you from work and them from whatever), working through a lesson on fractions is the last thing that you’ll want to do. The temptation to skip schoolwork “just for today” will be strong, and before you know it a lot of days will have gone by and you’ll feel terrible and like a bad parent.

Please save yourself from frustration and guilty feelings by setting school hours and sticking to them. In my house, schoolwork starts after breakfast and Teacher Mommy is off-the-clock after 5pm. After 5pm, I will not teach or grade or help with schoolwork. And any child that hasn’t completed all of their assigned schoolwork that day doesn’t get access to TV or iPads during the evening. (More about discipline further down.)

Just know that you and your child won’t be doing schoolwork during the entire day. Likely their schoolwork will be spread out throughout the day between meals and chores.

Also, familiarize yourself with how much time your kids should be doing schoolwork each day, based on their ages. For homeschooling:

  • Pre-k kids should be fine with just about an hour (including activities with fine motor skills, number sense, read-alouds, phonics activities.
  • Kinder/1st Grade might be 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  • Myy 5th grader has about 4 -5 hours of work each day.

This might sound strange since kids are at school for much longer, but if you’ve ever volunteered in your kids’ classes then you’ve probably noticed that students aren’t “on task” the entire day. There’s time spent moving from one activity to another, recesses, and lunch. And besides all that, curriculum creators that sell to traditional schools (rather than homeschools) build “busy work” into the curriculum to aid teachers in class management so that they can do things like work with individual students or smaller groups.

Also keep in mind that kids have a short attention span. One rule of thumb I’ve heard of and used is to equate chronological age to minutes of attention span. So a kindergartener might have an attention span of about five minutes.

This will, of course, vary from student to student and activity to activity (my boys can focus a lot longer when Minecraft is involved), but it’s something to keep in mind when planning out your days. Spending an hour a day on math with your first grader would probably be a terrible choice leading to tears and heartache. You might be able to get away with it if you had your student do several short math-related activities during the day, but it really isn’t necessary for their math education. Short, daily lessons work just fine.

What I’ve seen in my home is that consistency is one of the greatest contributors to learning success. The rule of thumb I try to adhere to in our home is to keep most subjects/activities each day to 20 minutes or less for my younger kids. Sometimes a particular subject takes longer because my kids don’t stay on task or because I’m working with them. But I try to be aware of signs of overwhelm or saturation.

Create a Weekly Schedule

I’ve got great news for you! You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, do every subject every day.

But before we explore that idea, let’s first talk about how many days of schoolwork you should have per week. Would it surprise you to know that many homeschoolers “do school” only four days a week? This is usually to leave room during the week for a co-op, class, field trip, fun day, or catch-up day.

My family has adopted a four-day school week…sort of. Fridays are a combo of a catch-up day / fun day / Mommy-needs-a-break day. What this means for us is that, on Fridays, I try to give my kids assignments that don’t need any teaching and very little help from me. And I try to mix it up a little on Fridays, too. So my fifth grader might do Mad Libs for grammar and a crossword puzzle and online resource for spelling practice. My younger boys will work out of a drawing book for art and connect-the-dots (extreme version for my second grader) for math.

A pre-k student would be fine “doing school” only two or three days out of the week. But if they have older siblings, they might want to do some schoolwork along with them every day (see resources below).

Other ideas for Fun Fridays include educational games, crafts, baking together, or a fun read-aloud complete with special snacks.

Ok, now let’s get back to how often to do each subject. This will vary from family to family, but here’s how I try to approach each subject:

  • Every day (4-5 days a week, depending on your weekly schedule) – subjects where my kids are learning a fundamental skill, like reading, math, spelling, and handwriting.
  • 2-3 days a week – content-rich subjects, like history, science, and grammar.
  • 1 day a week – art, music fundamentals.
  • A subject like writing (not handwriting) will depend on age. It’s probably best to do a little writing every day, but I currently have my kindergartener write a sentence in a sight word journal twice a week, and my second grader does a writing activity twice a week, too. They both get some writing in most days in other ways.

Again, what subjects you do each day will vary from family to family and child to child. A child that loves art or science may want to work on what they love every day. A child taking piano lessons will probably need to practice every day. Just use your best judgement.

Create a Daily Schedule with Time Blocking

You may have used time blocking in your professional life, but it can be a big help to you at home, too!

Quick explanation – time blocking is the idea of setting up blocks of time for specific tasks. For example, I had an OB/GYN that saw obstetrics patients during certain time blocks during the week. When I called to make an appointment, the receptionist looked for appointment availability during those time blocks. A financial advisor might have some time blocks for client appointments, and other time blocks for working on financial portfolios. Time blocks should be treated as “sacred” and not interrupted by other tasks.

Without realizing it, I’ve used a form of time blocking (and you probably have, too) since becoming a mom. When my oldest was a toddler, we had time blocks throughout the day for meal times, playing downstairs, playing upstairs, playing outside, and nap times. Our time blocks established our daily rhythms.

So rather than setting up time-specific daily schedules, I recommend defining time blocks. Your time blocks may include:

  • Group Time – This might include a Bible devotional, prayer, a read-aloud.
  • 1:1 Teaching – This includes teaching a new concept, shared/guided reading, a read-aloud.
  • Independent Work – Independent activities will depend on the age and maturity of each child. My 5th grader has a list of his work for each day, and I highlight the items that he should do independently. This might include reading, a video lesson, or practicing a math concept that he’s learning. Younger kids will need mostly 1:1 teaching, but can do some independent activities (coloring, drawing, crafting, puzzles, etc.).
  • Outside Time – Playing in the back yard, taking a walk if you don’t live in a highly populated area and can keep up good self-distancing practices.
  • Chores – This might be a good time to instill some good habits by setting up a chore system. My kids each have a job to do after every meal (Kitchen Chores) and also help with their own laundry each week. (My fifth grader does his own laundry by himself, from start to finish, every Tuesday.)
  • Mommy Work Time – Many parents are working at home due to social-distancing requirements. Since these parents are also having to fill in as educators for their kids and likely don’t have live-in child care, I truly hope that employers are being reasonable with their employees. Regardless, you’ll need a big block of time, or a couple smaller blocks of time during different parts of the day, to get your work done. Even if you’re not working outside of the home, you likely have things that you need to get done and could use some focused time.
  • Free Play – This is where I tell my kids to go find something to do. They’ve got plenty to play with, lots of books to read, but I still get the “I’m bored!” complaint. There are a lot of ways to handle this time block. You could have bins for each day of the week containing activities that they get only during this time block. You could allow some screen time, allowing them to watch educational television (set the sleep timer on your TV to turn it off after a set time and put on Magic School Bus, PBS Kids, etc). You could set up an iPad to allow only educational apps during the school day (set up Screen Time section in Settings, specifically Downtime and Always Allowed). Or you could do what I’ve had to do a few times, which is to say, “Oh, sweet child, are you bored? Let me help you. Here’s a trash bag – fill it with all of the toys and games that bore you, and we’ll give them to a child that will enjoy them.” That usually ends the conversation and gets the kids interested in their things.

It’s much easier to think about time blocks than, “What are we supposed to do between 2-3pm?” I think of it as flexible planning because you can play around with the blocks until you find what works for you. It also helps you to group various activities in a sensible way.

For example, your older kids might have an Independent Work block while you work with your younger kids (1:1 Teaching block). Or all of your kids may have an Independent Work block while you have your Mommy Work Time block. Or you could spread a blanket in the back yard and have a Group Time, 1:1 Teaching Time, and/or Independent Work block, alternating assignments with 15 minutes of play (Outside Time block).

If you are working from home, I recommend having a Mommy Work Time block early in the day while your kids have Independent Work or Free Play blocks. The reason for this is that I find that, on days that my kids (or I!) wake up on the wrong side of the bed or are behaving badly or are resistant to my teaching and leadership, I have a really difficult time doing anything productive afterward. So try to get your most important things done in the early Mommy Work Time block, and then dedicate time later in the day to getting schoolwork done.

Determine What Schoolwork Your Kids Will Do

Ok, this is a difficult one because there are so many different situations. But I’m going to assume that, if you’re reading this, you’re doing school at home temporarily and plan to send your kids back to their schools as soon as the school doors open. Amiright?

So in this situation, the first thing you should do is get guidance from your children’s teachers. You’ve likely been in communication with them and are getting guidance, maybe even assignments. If not, check out the school’s website. When my oldest was in public school, the teachers at his school each had a webpage that they updated periodically with information about what was being covered in class. They even had links to helpful websites and resources. Look for the same from your kids’ teachers.

You’ll probably have to fine-tune after you get started and see how your kids are doing in each subject. For example, you might feel like they’re not being challenged enough in reading, but are struggling with their multiplication tables. An awesome thing about being so in-tune with how your kids are doing in their schoolwork is that you can customize their education and either challenge them more or slow things down a bit.

Look for areas of struggle. Your child may be struggling because concepts are being taught to him/her in a way that doesn’t fit his/her learning preferences. Or maybe they never learned an earlier concept well. For example, if your student hasn’t learned their multiplication tables very well, division is going to be a huge struggle. Doing more division problems isn’t the answer. Instead, it’s better to back up and focus on those multiplication tables again, maybe in a different way (see resources at the bottom of this post).

Discipline

Ok, let’s have a moment of truth here and talk about the least-fun thing about teaching your kids at home: discipline. This topic is so vast and complex that there’s no way that I could possibly do it justice in a blog post, but I’ll try to touch on some important points for you to consider.

<deep breath> Here we go…

  • Make your expectations and boundaries (rules) clear, along with consequences for not meeting expectations and breaking rules. Boundaries may include school hours (discussed above), respectfulness, cleaning up the school work area at the end of the day, etc. Keep it simple at first so that your kids have early success in meeting expectations.
  • You don’t need me to tell you that kids don’t always want to do school work. Especially if they’re struggling. If behavioral issues and non-compliance are due to academic struggles, spend whatever time you need to identify the point of difficulty and remediate. Trouble with handwriting? Maybe you need to work on pencil grip. Trouble with division? See if your student has a good grasp on multiplication tables. Trouble reading? Check their eyesight. You may have to try many different things to make progress, and may have to consider learning disabilities. This is difficult, I know, but keep at it.
  • If behavioral issues and non-compliance are simply due to a lack of interest, rewards may help. My kids don’t get access to TV or iPads during the evenings if they haven’t done their schoolwork and chores for the day. Sometimes I feel like this hurts me just as much as them, but I’ve followed through enough for them to know that I’m serious and won’t budge on this.
  • Brace yourself for behavioral issues, especially if any teacher has expressed concern or frustration with your child’s behavior. It’s easy to ignore negative comments from teachers and privately blame them for the problems, and sometimes there’s truth in that. But sometimes we’re not aware of how our kids behave when we’re not present. I speak from experience here. In our homeschool, I’ve dealt with a lot of what I would call oppositional behavior beyond typical childish defiance. And honestly, sometimes I’ve felt like it has broken me. There have been times that I’ve just sat and cried during really difficult moments. Some days, you may have to put the school work on the back burner in order to work with your child to accept your leadership in your home and behave with respect and civility to you and everyone else. This is easier said than done, of course, but totally worth the effort.

Helpful Products & Resources

I’ve put together a list of resources that I’ve used and liked. While I’ve used them for homeschooling, most are not necessarily homeschool-specific and could be helpful to you during this temporary season in conjunction with lessons and materials that you get from your children’s teachers. Most of these resources aren’t homeschool curriculum, but I did include a couple of curriculum items that you might try if your student is really struggling in that area. This might be a good time to get them on the right path before going back to their regular schools.

Some of the resources below are available as downloads. I highly recommend using Dropbox to store your downloads. Dropbox provides a layer of backup for your important files and allows you to access files across your devices. I store all school-related files on Dropbox.

Resources for Pre-K Students

Resources for Elementary Students

Handwriting

Reading / Phonics / Literature

  • Hooked on Phonics – Curriculum Alert! This is the curriculum I’ve used to teach all of my boys to read. I actually purchased it when my oldest was attending kindergarten at a public school. Whatever the school was doing to teach reading wasn’t working for him and his teacher expressed concern, so I decided to go the tried-and-true phonics route. Thanks to this, he was all caught up by the end of the school year (his teacher was amazed) and we just kept on going. My review of Hooked on Phonics may be helpful to you.
  • Bob Books – All of my boys have loved using Bob Books as a supplement to our reading curriculum. See my review on Bob Books for more information.
  • Confessions of a Homeschooler Literature Units<Printable> I’ve been using these literature units with my fifth grader this year, and they’ve been a hit. They are great for Interactive learners.
  • Kindle E-reader (Kindle Unlimited) – Kindle e-readers (NOT the Kindle Fire tablets) are great for older readers. A Kindle isn’t a great option for picture books or graphic novels, but is my preferred option for any book that is mostly text with few pictures. You can also use it in bright daylight, so a Kindle is great for an Outside Time block combined with an Independent Work block. Kindles are associated with an Amazon account, so I’ve set up an Amazon account specifically for my kids so that any e-books I purchase or borrow for them are download to their Kindle….and so that their Kindle isn’t loaded up with my own e-books. If you have a library card, check out Overdrive to borrow e-books for your kids from home for FREE and have them downloaded to their Kindle. It’s easy-peasy and an amazing option during this time when a library trip isn’t a great idea. You may also want to try out Kindle Unlimited.
  • Audible – I love audiobooks and have started using them with my kids. They’re a great option for an Independent Work block, especially for kids that love stories but struggle with reading. Audible is currently providing access to hundreds of titles for free.

Spelling

Before getting to spelling resources, I need to share my biggest spelling tip with you: teach spelling (encoding) separately from reading (decoding). This includes sight words. One of my biggest homeschooling mistakes was trying to teach my oldest to both read and spell sight words concurrently. I eventually realized that reading level is about a year ahead of spelling level, at least in the early elementary years. Reading and spelling are different skills, so I find it much easier to teach them separately.

  • Explode the Code Online – The Explode the Code workbooks have been a hit with homeschoolers for a while, but I prefer the online option as a supplement to our spelling curriculum because the software assesses your child’s skill level and presents appropriate lessons. I usually have my oldest work on it for about 10-15 minutes at a time.
  • Spelling City – This website provides games and activities to review spelling words. If you’re getting spelling lists from your child’s teacher, you can just plug them into the website and have your student work on it for about 15 minutes a day.
  • Reading Eggs – This is a fun option for Independent Work or Free Play blocks for your pre-k or early elementary student.
  • Evan-Moor Building Spelling Skills<Printable> This is my favorite approach to spelling so far for my middle boy, who is a natural reader but also a perfectionist that gets stressed out with tests. Evan-Moor is currently offering 25% off e-books through March 31, 2020.
  • Spelling PowerCurriculum Alert! If spelling is a weakness for one of your kids, you might want to invest in this book. If spelling tests are a huge stressor for your kid, though, you’ll probably be better off with Evan-Moor spelling workbooks.
  • Spelling Word Work worksheets<Printable> This is the resource that I’ve used the most from the Teachers Pay Teachers website. If you get spelling lists from your child’s teacher, you can use these worksheets to practice spelling the words for a week before testing them. If they still have problems with particular words, I include them in the next week’s word list (although you’ll want to make sure to limit the size of your word list each week – no more than 10 at a time, maybe even less).

Writing

Grammar

Evan-Moor Grammar & Punctuation<Printable> I was so impressed with Evan-Moor’s Building Spelling Skills that I decided to try one of their grammar workbooks, too, and have been very pleased. Evan-Moor is currently offering 25% off e-books through March 31, 2020.

Math

  • Times Tales – A great resource for kids working on their multiplication facts. There’s an app, too. Even my younger boys wanted to use it.
  • Dice Activities for Multiplication – My oldest loved practicing his multiplication facts with the games in this workbook. It really saved my bacon during his third grade year!
  • XtraMath – This is a nice alternative to flash cards and works well for an Independent Work block. It only takes about ten minutes a day and really helps with math facts.

History

  • The What Your…Needs to Know series of books are a great help for history since they include the content along with teaching tips. They also tie in related poetry, geography, and art lessons when they can. Students can read on their own or they work well as read-alouds (that’s how I used them). You can supplement with activities and leveled readers on the period of history you’re studying.
  • Liberty’s Kids – My kids LOVED this video series. Definitely consider it if you’re studying early American history.

Science

  • Carson Dellosa Science Interactive Notebooks<Printable> These are a nice alternative to typical worksheets and can work as a supplement or be supplemented with hands-on science activities. And they’re running a sale on eBooks through April 20, 2020.
  • Skrafty – If you have a Minecraft lover, they may love studying science on the Skrafty website. Skrafty actually has courses on many different topics, including history and technology, but my son has especially enjoyed a couple of the science courses.
  • Mystery Science – We haven’t used this website ourselves, but I’ve heard good things. And it looks like they’re all ready to help families dealing with school closures.
  • Little Passports Science Expeditions Subscription – My kids really enjoyed these kits. You can easily stretch out a kit for a month if you do science once or twice a week, especially if you supplement with worksheets or other activities along the same topic. Some of the activities are better than other, but in general they are enjoyable. The Science Expeditions subscription is better for upper elementary, but it looks like they now have a Science Junior subscription available.

Art

  • Draw Write Now – I love these step-by-step drawing books. I like using them as a supplement for both science and history if I can find an appropriate drawing related to our current studies.
  • Draw and Write Through History – This series of step-by-step drawing books is more advanced and for older students.

Foreign Languages

  • Rosetta Stone – I’m using the app version with my fifth grader. I’m not thrilled with the vocabulary aspect, so we’re supplementing with Quizlet (below).
  • Quizlet – This is a great tool that goes beyond simple flashcards. We’ve been using this app with great success for history, but it’s also a good option for foreign language vocabulary.
homeschooling during the coronavirus crisis
Homeschool 5th Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

Homeschool 5th Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

Today I’m sharing my homeschool curriculum choices for the 2019-2020 school year for my 5th grader, along with why I made these choices for this particular child.

(You can also read about this year’s curriculum choices for my second grader and kindergartener.)

Before jumping into our curriculum choices for fifth grade, please remember that you and I may be working toward different requirements for homeschooling, depending on where you live. So please inform yourself about your local homeschool laws! (I talk more about the importance of that here.)

Ok, on to our particular choices…

(Our general weekly schedule is toward the end.)

2019-2020 Homeschool 5th Grade Curriculum Choices

Group Subjects

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

In years past, I tried to save time in our days by doing history and science as a group. This worked pretty well for our first few years of homeschooling, but became more difficult as the boys grew older and their personalities and learning preferences became more apparent.

Last year, after defining what I know of their Learning Preferences so far, I realized that a group environment was not an ideal way for any of my boys to learn. So I let go of the group paradigm for the most part. For now, we still do our memory work (religious studies, poetry memorization) and read-alouds together.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is join-my-newsletter.png

Individual Subjects

Bible

5th grade curriculum choices

My 5th grader reads one devotion from One-Minute Prayers for Boys each day independently. I chose this book because the devotionals are short and clear. He writes the verse from that day’s prayer on a whiteboard at his desk, then writes a little prayer of his own into a journal.

5th grade curriculum choices

After he finishes One-Minute Prayers for Boys, he’ll work out of Kay Arthur’s How to Study Your Bible for Kids. I chose this book as an introduction to Bible study for my oldest because I thought Kay Arthur’s inductive Bible study method would appeal to my interactive learner. If it works out, will continue with other Kay Arthur kids’ Bible studies. If not, I’ll probably create my own copywork/journaling Bible curriculum for him.

5th grade curriculum choices

We’re also working on memorizing the books of the Bible as a group, but Spoken Word learning is my son’s weakest learning method. So I created some copywork worksheets for him to accompany our group work.


Math

5th grade curriculum choices

Math-U-See has been a staple in our homeschool from the start and has been a good fit for my oldest, so I decided to continue with Math-U-See Epsilon. I chose this curriculum because I like its mastery approach to teaching math, and also that new concepts are introduced only once a week or so (the way we use it), with intervening days being dedicated to practice and review.

You can see my review of Math-U-See here.


Literature

5th grade curriculum choices

After completing basic phonics instruction two years ago, I switched my oldest to using a reading list that I curated for him. He was a reluctant reader, so I required him to read for at least 30 minutes a day and tried to find books that I thought would interest him.

Mission accomplished! He now says that he looooves to read, and reads a lot on his own. So this year I decided to try out the Literature Units created by Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler. My goal is that my son will learn to read more closely and thoughtfully. I chose Erica’s literature units because my oldest is an interactive learner and really loves lapbooks.

As for our specific choice – I looked through the lapbooks Erica has available and selected a few that I thought might interest my son. Then I let him choose. But I know my kid and his love of candy, so I knew that he would choose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 😜

After he completes his current choice, I’ll guide him in choosing another one of Erica’s literature units.


Grammar

5th grade curriculum choices

We started using IEW’s Fix It! Grammar series last year. I wanted to try it because its unique approach to grammar (editing and marking up one sentence a day in a continuing story) seemed perfect for my interactive learner. We liked it so much that we are using it again this year. It’s a very good curriculum as-is, but it became excellent for us when I customized it by creating checklists for my son to guide him through the daily editing and marking process.


Spelling

5th grade curriculum choices

My fifth grader has used All About Spelling since we began homeschooling, but it didn’t work as well for my second grader and I had to find something new for him. I ended up choosing Spelling Power, so decided to use it with my fifth grader, as well, since I was buying it anyway. I chose Spelling Power because it looked like I could customize it to suit my son. And bonus: it’s supposed to be the only spelling curriculum I will ever need!

After receiving the book and reading through the lengthy introduction, I saw that they highly discourage customization of the program. Honestly, that kind of made me chuckle and kind of made me roll my eyes because no curriculum is perfect for every single student as-written. But I gave their method a go, just to see.

I’ve realized that no, my instincts were right, I need to customize. So we’re still in the process of finding just the right way to use Spelling Power that will allow both of my older boys to progress in their spelling skills without loads of angst and frustration.


Handwriting

One of my son’s delights is jokes/humor, so I was thrilled to come across Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles. Students practice writing words from jokes and riddles in cursive, then write the jokes and riddles themselves in cursive. Students can even cut out the jokes and riddles to create a booklet.

See my review of Cursive Writing Practice: Jokes & Riddles here.

We started using this workbook this summer and will continue using it until we’ve completed it. He’s also writing out the final draft of some of this writing assignments in cursive, so I’m not sure yet if we’ll need to find something new once he’s done with this workbook.


Writing

5th grade curriculum choices

We’re continuing using IEW’s Student Writing Intensive, Level A since we didn’t finish it last year. This is another very good curriculum that became great after I customized it by creating checklists and graphic organizers to fit my son’s preferred learning method.

Once we’re done with Student Writing Intensive, we’ll probably try IEW’s All Things Fun & Fascinating.


Science

I really didn’t have it in me to do a lot of science experiments this year, so I wanted a science curriculum that didn’t have science experiments as an integral part of the program. I also wanted to allow my son to continue with more delight-directed learning for science this year since I plan to move him to something more rigorous next year.

Since one of my son’s Delights is Minecraft, I decided to let him choose Skrafty science courses. He chose to start with geology. He should finish it in a couple of months, so if it goes well I’ll let him choose another course.


History

5th grade curriculum choices

For history, I chose BJU Press’ Heritage Studies 5. I’ve taken a unit study approach to history in the past, but really wanted a basic textbook curriculum this year to give myself a break. I like Heritage Studies because it approaches American History from a Christian worldview and has a colorful activity manual. I was also happy to discover that it includes mapping, vocabulary, and suggestions for hands-on activities.


Technology

5th grade curriculum choices

My fifth grader will continue learning about coding with a DK workbook – Coding with Python and JavaScript. Last year we used DK’s Scratch workbook, and it was very well done. So we’ll continue with DK as my son learns “real” coding.

I don’t know that we’ll finish this workbook. Coding is something that requires a certain personality, way of thinking, and level of maturity. If my son ends up hating it, I probably won’t require him to complete it. So I’m seeing this more as an exposure to computer coding.


Spanish

5th grade curriculum choices

We tried using Flip Flop Spanish last year as a group. While I really like the hands-on way this curriculum teaches Spanish, learning as a group didn’t work for us.

5th grade curriculum choices

For this school year, I decided to have my oldest learn Spanish on his own. I wanted to use Flip Flop Spanish since we do have it, but wanted to adapt it to allow my son to work independently and with a written element. So I’m experimenting by creating copywork worksheets based on Flip Flop Spanish. I’m also recording phrases for my son to listen to and repeat using the voice memo feature on my phone.


Typing

5th grade curriculum choices

My oldest used Typing Instructor for Kids to learn how to type a couple of years ago, but he came to me a few months ago and said that he was struggling with typing and felt like he needed more practice. So I put Typing Instructor back into the rotation. He loves the games and looks forward to typing practice.


5th grade curriculum choices

Extracurricular

Cub Scouts – My fifth grader will continue with Cub Scouts this year. I was somehow surprised by how much learning happens in Cub Scouts. The many shared experiences are a great way to make friends, and it’s also good bonding time with Daddy since my husband deals with all the Cub Scouts stuff. This coming up year will be exciting for my oldest since he’ll be moving up to Boy Scouts!

Homeschool Co-op – We recently joined a local low-stress homeschool co-op that focuses on social activities like park days with some educational opportunities thrown in. Just another way I’m trying to socialize my kid. 😜

Those are our homeschool curriculum choices … for now. I usually evaluate how things are going in December – adding, subtracting, and/or changing as needed.

5th grade curriculum choices
Homeschool 2nd Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

Homeschool 2nd Grade Curriculum Choices 2019-2020

Today I’m sharing my homeschool curriculum choices for the 2019-2020 school year for my 2nd grader, along with why I made these choices for this particular child. Of all of my kids, these are the choices that were the most difficult for me to make because my beautiful blue-eyed boy really hates working one-on-one, but he’s not quite ready to work independently. So sometimes it’s a Struggle. But I’ve got my fingers crossed!

(You can also read about this year’s curriculum choices for my fifth grader and kindergartener.)

Before jumping into my second grader’s curriculum choices, please remember that you and I may be working toward different requirements for homeschooling, depending on where you live. So please inform yourself about your local homeschool laws! (I talk more about the importance of that here.)

Ok, on to our particular choices…

(Our general weekly schedule is toward the end.)

2019-2020 Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd Grade

Group Subjects

In years past, I tried to save time in our days by doing history and science as a group. This worked pretty well for our first few years of homeschooling, but became more difficult as the boys grew older and their personalities and learning preferences became more apparent.

Last year, after defining what I know of their Learning Preferences so far, I realized that a group environment was not an ideal way for any of my boys to learn. So I let go of the group paradigm for the most part. For now, we still do our memory work (religious studies, poetry memorization) and read-alouds together.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is join-my-newsletter.png

Individual Subjects

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Morning Work

2nd grade curriculum choices
2nd grade curriculum choices
2nd grade curriculum choices

Morning Work for us is a binder that includes calendaring activities and any other work that either can be done quickly or doesn’t really fit in anywhere else.

For now, all I have in his Morning Work binder is a set of calendar pages that I’ve created for him in order to get accustomed to the way a calendar works. He also writes out the date in order to sneak in some spelling practice for days of the week and months. Besides, writing out the date is something that he needs to learn how to do.

Later on this year I plan to add some copywork/tracing of geography terms and maybe some history vocabulary.


Bible

My second grader reads one devotion from 365 Devotions for Kids each day independently. I chose this book because he loved The Beginner’s Bible, my absolute favorite Bible storybook. He loved The Beginner’s Bible last year so much that choosing 365 Devotions for Kids seemed like a no-brainer.


Math

Math-U-See has been a staple in our homeschool from the start, but my second grader decided that he didn’t like using the math blocks that are integral to the program. So I went on the hunt for something different for him.

I landed on Horizons Math, which is new to us. I chose this curriculum because it’s colorful and provides a variety of activities each day, which I thought would appeal to my second grader. It’s a spiral approach to teaching math, which is not my preference, but at this point the best math curriculum is the one that gets done while causing the least amount of drama in my house. 😜 We’re still getting acclimated to it, so not sure yet if it will meet my drama-free objective. 🤞

If you do choose this curriculum for yourself, you may want to pick up the worksheet packet, too, so that you don’t have to make copies of the many worksheets at the back of the book.


Reading

When my second grader completed the second grade level of Hooked on Phonics last year, we started reading through this I Wonder reader and will complete it this fall. I chose it because it has character-building stories, and was not disappointed because it has sparked productive conversations about behavior, habits, and heart matters. I also like that it includes both short stories and poems.

After completing this reader, my second grader will switch to a reading list that I’ve put together for him. The reading list is comprised of books that my oldest read when he was at this reading level, so we have most of them in our home library already.


Grammar

This is another new-to-us curriculum. I chose Evan-Moor’s Grammar & Punctuation for Grade 2 because it addresses one grammar concept at a time and then provides several days of varied practice for that concept before moving on to something else.


Spelling

This is my biggest fingers-crossed moment right here! We’ve used All About Spelling since we began homeschooling, but my independent second grader hated all of the one-on-one work it required, even after I customized the way we use it. I chose Spelling Power because it looked like I could customize it to cut out most of the one-on-one work and allow him to work independently. And bonus: it’s supposed to be the only spelling curriculum I will ever need!

After receiving the book and reading through the lengthy introduction, I saw that they highly discourage customization of the program. Honestly, that kind of made me chuckle and kind of made me roll my eyes because no curriculum is perfect for every single student as-written. But I gave their method a go, just to see.

I’ve realized that no, my instincts were right, I need to customize. So we’re still in the process of finding just the right way to use Spelling Power that will allow my son to progress in his spelling skills without loads of angst and frustration.


Writing

My second grader loves stories and fun pictures, so I chose Usborne’s My First Story Writing Book for him to give him an introduction into writing. I chose it because it covers the basics of story writing, like characters and setting, in a fun and interactive way.


Science

I really didn’t have it in me to do a lot of science experiments this year, so I wanted a science curriculum that didn’t have science experiments as an integral part of the program.

I chose the Carson Dellosa Interactive Science Notebooks because they are a fun, hands-on way to learn and organize new science concepts, they make suggestions for simple “experiment” types of activities that I can handle in this season of life, and they provide a way for my student to process what he’s learned in his own way.


History

For history, I chose BJU Press’ Heritage Studies distance learning curriculum for my independent second grader. I’ve taken a unit study approach to history in the past, but really wanted a basic textbook curriculum this year to give myself a break. I like Heritage Studies because it approaches American History from a Christian worldview and has a colorful activity manual.

I initially purchased just the textbook and activity manual without the distance learning option, but quickly decided to add on the online portion since my son really hates receiving instruction one-on-one. He very much enjoys having the instructor on-screen rather than in his face. 🙄


Art / Handwriting

There are only so many hours in the day, so the subject of art has low priority in our homeschool. And my second grader, who struggles with perfectionism, refused to draw anything. It’s cool with me if art isn’t his thing (it’s not my thing, either), but drawing and sketching went from a mere Dislike to a Difficulty and stumbling block in his other studies.

So I chose Draw Write Now to get him started on drawing since I used it with my oldest in the past and it worked well for him. Sometimes you just have to go with what’s worked before and hope for the best. My oldest also hated drawing to the point that it became a problem, but after working on drawings in this book once a week, he got over it and doesn’t hesitate to make his own little sketches. I’m hoping and praying for similar results with my second grader.

We’re using these Draw Write Now printables from 1+1+1=1, which include the handwriting portion of this art/handwriting curriculum.


2nd grade curriculum choices

Extracurricular

Cub Scouts – My second grader will be continuing with Cub Scouts this year. I was somehow surprised by how much learning happens in Cub Scouts. The many shared experiences are a great way to make friends, and it’s also good bonding time with Daddy since my husband deals with all the Cub Scouts stuff.

Homeschool Co-op – We recently joined a local low-stress homeschool co-op that focuses on social activities like park days with some educational opportunities thrown in. Just another way I’m trying to socialize my kid. 😜

Those are our homeschool curriculum choices … for now. I usually evaluate how things are going in December – adding, subtracting, and/or changing as needed.

2nd grade curriculum choices
Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum Choices – 2019-2020

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum Choices – 2019-2020

Today I’m sharing our kindergarten homeschool curriculum choices for the 2019-2020 school year, along with why I made these choices for this particular child.

(You can also read about this year’s curriculum choices for my second grader and fifth grader.)

Before jumping into my kindergartener’s curriculum choices, please remember that you and I may be working toward different requirements for homeschooling, depending on where you live. So please inform yourself about your local homeschool laws! (I talk more about the importance of that here.)

Ok, on to our particular choices…

(Our general weekly schedule is toward the end.)

2019-2020 Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Group Subjects

In years past, I tried to save time in our days by doing history and science as a group. This worked pretty well for our first few years of homeschooling, but became more difficult as the boys grew older and their personalities and learning preferences became more apparent.

Last year, after defining what I know of their Learning Preferences so far, I realized that a group environment was not an ideal way for any of my boys to learn. So I let go of the group paradigm for the most part. For now, we still do our memory work (religious studies, poetry memorization) and read-alouds together.

Individual Subjects

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

Morning Work

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum
Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

This is the first year that my little kindergartener is doing Morning Work. Morning Work for us is a binder that includes calendaring activities and any other work that either can be done quickly or doesn’t really fit in anywhere else.

For now, all I have in his Morning Work binder is a set of calendar pages that I’ve created for him in order to get accustomed to the way a calendar works. He updates our wall calendar with the appropriate date, then updates his Morning Work calendar.

Later on this year I plan to add some copywork/tracing of personal information, like first and last name, home address, and phone numbers.


Bible

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

The Beginner’s Bible is my absolute favorite Bible storybook because the Bible stories are faithful to the original without being dumbed down, and the language is for the most part accessible to early elementary students. I chose this book because my older two read through this book in past years and loved it so much that it’s now falling apart! Hopefully I can keep it in one piece long enough for my youngest to enjoy it this year.


Math

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Math-U-See has been a staple in our homeschool from the start, so I decided to use Math-U-See Primer for my kindergartener. I chose this curriculum because I like its mastery approach to teaching math, and also that new concepts are introduced only once a week or so (the way we use it), with intervening days being dedicated to practice and review.

You can see my review of Math-U-See here.


Phonics

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Hooked on Phonics was my choice for my little one because I’ve used it with my older two boys in the past with great success. My youngest actually started the kindergarten level of Hooked on Phonics almost a year ago, so he’s almost done with it. When he’s done with the kindergarten level, we’ll move on to the first grade level.

You can see my review of Hooked on Phonics here.

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Besides Hooked on Phonics, we also read a “real” book each day. Right now we’re working through the Bob Books sets that I have. My son LOVES these little books, and they’re a great way for my little one to feel like a big boy with a big boy book.

You can see my review of Bob Books here.


Handwriting/Grammar

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

My kindergartner used the pre-k level of Handwriting Without Tears to learn how to write his uppercase letters last year, so we’re continuing with the kindergarten level to review uppercase letters and learn how to write lowercase letters. I chose this curriculum because I love the gentle and clear instruction and have used various levels with all of my kids.

You can see my review of the pre-k level of Handwriting Without Tears here.


Science

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

I really didn’t have it in me to do a lot of science experiments this year, so I wanted a science curriculum that didn’t have science experiments as an integral part of the program. And besides, I need my kindergartener to learn the very basics of science.

I chose the Carson Dellosa Interactive Science Notebooks because they are a fun, hands-on way to learn and organize new science concepts, they make suggestions for simple “experiment” types of activities that I can handle in this season of life, and they provide a way for my little student to process what he’s learned in his own way.

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

We tried out this Kumon Sticker Science workbook last year, and my son loves it. We’ll incorporate it into his other science studies this year.

You can see my review of this Kumon Science Sticker Activity Book here.


History

My kindergartener will not be going through a formal history curriculum this year because I feel that it’s important that he get a better understanding of the world at large first by learning a little bit about geography, but he will be participating in some American history activities with my older two boys.


Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Geography

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

For geography I’ve chosen Skill Sharpeners Geography, Grade Pre-K. I actually meant to purchase the kindergarten edition, but this arrived so I guess I got a bit click-happy in Amazon. After looking at it, I determined that it’s appropriate for my kindergartener. I chose it because it has fun, simple activities that are age-appropriate.


Art

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

There are only so many hours in the day, so the subject of art has low priority in our homeschool. But after learning how to hold and use a crayon correctly last year (thanks, Handwriting Without Tears!), my little one developed a love of drawing and crafting in general. So I wanted to give this newly revealed Delight its place in my kindergartener’s school work.

I chose this Scholastic Step-By-Step Drawing Book because the drawings look age-appropriate and I think that, after becoming accustomed to it, my son will eventually be able to work out of it independently.


Extracurricular

Cub Scouts – My kindergartener is so excited to join his brothers in Cub Scouts! I was somehow surprised by how much learning happens in Cub Scouts. The many shared experiences are a great way to make friends, and it’s also good bonding time with Daddy since my husband deals with all the Cub Scouts stuff.

Homeschool Co-op – We recently joined a local low-stress homeschool co-op that focuses on social activities like park days with some educational opportunities thrown in. Just another way I’m trying to socialize my kid. 😜

Those are our homeschool curriculum choices … for now. I usually evaluate how things are going in December – adding, subtracting, and/or changing as needed.


Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum
American History Curriculum Supplement Review: U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

American History Curriculum Supplement Review: U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the links.

I’m using U.S.A Constitution Activity Book, published by Dover Publications, as a supplement for my fourth grader’s studies in early American history.

American History Supplement Review: U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

Traditional methods for teaching include lectures, textbooks, and living literature. Homeschoolers often use more hands-on methods, too, with craft projects. Since my oldest prefers interactive learning methods, I was excited to find this workbook full of fun puzzles and activities related to the U.S. Constitution and the history surrounding it.

How It’s Set Up

U.S.A Constitution Activity Book has 33 puzzles and activities related to the U.S. Constitution and the history surrounding it, with an answer key at the book of the workbook. Each activity is introduced with information about a topic of historical significance. The activities and puzzles themselves include mazes, word searches, spot-the-difference pictures, word puzzles, etc.

Teacher Prep

Teacher prep will depend on how you want to use U.S.A Constitution Activity Book. We’re using it as a fun diversion from our typical American history studies, so my son is pretty much starting on the first page and doing the pages in sequential order. But you can use it as a resource in a more thoughtful way by assigning pages as the topics on those pages are covered in your regular history studies. For example, you may want to assign page 9 when learning about states ratifying the Constitution.

Student Time

How much time a student spends on this workbook will depend on the difficulty level of the particular puzzle the student is working on. Most puzzles are pretty straightforward and will take less than 10 minutes to complete, but a few of the word puzzles may take a bit longer.

To whom would I recommend U.S.A Constitution Activity Book?

(Based on Learning Preferences and Three D’s I describe in earlier posts.)

Recommend to…

  • Students that do well with Interactive learning methods since this is an activity book.
  • Students that prefer to learn in an Independent way.
  • Students that love puzzles and games.
  • Students reading on at least a fourth-grade reading level.

I would NOT recommend to…

  • Students that do not learn well with Interactive learning methods.
  • Students that do not enjoy puzzles and games.
  • Students that are not fluent readers.

My Best Tips for Using U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

  • I find it helpful to check in with my student after he completes his activity page for the day. I check for understanding by having him read the activity introduction aloud and asking him what the activity/puzzle revealed to him.
  • Know why you’re using this workbook. Since we use U.S.A Constitution Activity Book to learn about history, and not necessarily to work on critical thinking skills, I help my son if he’s struggling with an activity.

The Last Thing You Need to Know about U.S.A Constitution Activity Book

U.S.A Constitution Activity Book has been a fun, low-pressure way to get in a little extra history learning on what’s usually a dry subject.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial