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Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

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The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


Make Learning Stick                                    March 9, 2011


Nancy Carter Picture 


"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin


When I was an education major in college, my teachers were always encouraging us to provide our students with opportunities for hands-on learning. Initially that was a challenge, because most of us grew up being taught primarily via textbooks, i.e. reading a chapter, answering the questions, memorizing dates and definitions, and doing worksheets.


We were amazed when our teachers validated that it was not only more enjoyable to do hands-on activities, but it was also more effective at helping the students to really learn. Need to teach addition and subtraction? Instead of just doing the problems on a worksheet or at the board, start with Cheerios. Need to review a chapter for a test with older kids? Have them play a game to review the material. (Our family loves learning with games and is excited about some that we'll have for sale pretty soon.)


The professors would encourage us to always look at our lessons and figure out how we could "bring the learning to life!" They would caution us not to default to teaching the way we were taught. Isn't that what so many of us homeschool parents struggle with? We're teaching our kids day in and day out around the house anyway, yet we're tempted to think none of that counts unless we do the bookwork like we did in school. Who knew that my education professors would be the ones who planted the seeds for relaxed homeschooling in my mind? Relax! Homeschooling is the perfect environment to bring learning to life.


As your school year is winding down, do you find yourself looking for some little extras to help bring learning to life in your home? That's one of the reasons we put together our Teacher's Toolbox website for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine subscribers. We've got history facts for each day, recipes, craft ideas, and unit studies that might be useful for you, plus you get access to all of our archived articles and digital magazines. Get your kids involved in picking out some fun activities from the website and enjoy!


~Nancy Carter 

Nancy Carter
THM Editor


P.S. Have you heard of The Homeschool Channel? It's a family-friendly, Christian video website especially for homeschoolers, with lots of neat videos: science experiments, interviews with homeschool speakers, encouraging sermons, etc. You can click here to see my interview about the importance of homeschool support on the Homeschool Spotlight With Mary Jo Tate (signup is required to access the website's features). This was the first interview I'd ever done via Skype. Just like my kids, I'm still learning!



Deborah WuehlerMercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor

As I was singing a hymn in church this Sunday without the hymnbook, my husband leaned over and asked, "How do you know the words to all these songs?" I have a rich heritage. I have been in church since I was a young girl and have been exposed to all kinds of Christian songs, including beautiful hymns. Did I learn them all overnight or even within one year? Not likely-I learned them over years and years of repetition, whether at church or at home.  


The important things in life are not always learned in a one-year curriculum, never to be seen again. That's why the Scriptures tell us over and over again to remember the deeds of the Lord. They also say to tell of His mighty deeds. When we teach our children a new concept and want to build on that teaching, we always remind them or tell them again what they've just learned. We teach in the Deuteronomy 6 fashion of pouring God's words and commands and precepts into their hearts while we are living our lives. We talk about Him at the breakfast table and on the trampoline. We discuss His creation and brilliance as we look around us, and we tuck them into bed praying to the God who made them, that the glory of God would be proclaimed in and through each child.


"Making learning stick" can be more important than we think. And I think I need to look at what I am really teaching and making stick. I look at one of my older children and see that I've taught that child to become easily frustrated. I must have been easily frustrated enough times that it really stuck-with the child. I look at another child and see that I have taught that child to sigh when faced with an unwelcome task. This is not exactly what I had wanted to stick. What I want to stick is what's good and right. I look at one child and see a self-initiated daily prayer time. I look at another and see a conviction to read the Bible before eating in the morning. We really need to evaluate our own responses and actions and think about the legacy they will leave. Whatever we really want to stick, we need to keep repeating. Not once, not once in a while, but daily, hourly, and for a lifetime.  


And what better way to teach this way than in home education? Our children are with us all the time. Let's strive together to make that time worth remembering.  


"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."  

Deuteronomy 6:4-9





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Gena Suarez

Hey from Gena

Gena Suarez, Publisher of TOS 


I really think there's only one way to make our kids' learning stick. And of course, if their learning sticks, our homeschooling experience has been successful academically, right? So what's the secret? The magic bullet? The winning formula? Well, I know what it is. I get it (after graduating two). Ready? Here it is:

Let them find their own way. Does this mean letting the kids go hog wild? Is the act of parenting itself to be boot-kicked out the front door? Not at all. You control the whole situation (you're the parent). But surround them with resources and enriching experiences (field trips!) and be willing to hit the library or go online together a lot for research.

See, Paul and I went over to Dr. Raymond Moore's house a couple of times. Remember him? He was on Focus on the Family in the earlier years of homeschooling. He and his wife, Dorothy, wrote Better Late Than Early. Great book. It'll remind you to relax with your kids and that they may just do better if you wait on the formal schooling (keep it casual and fun when they are young). Anyway, Dr. Moore offered us his llamas. Seriously. He tried to give them to us. On the spot. No thanks, Dr. Moore, can't do the llama transport to our unfenced acreage. Not available today to take your llamas. But we're here, so let's talk about education. My son isn't really doing math (I'm not so good at it myself). What say you?

Dr. Moore told me that we shouldn't even start formally teaching kids math (in most circumstances) until they are 14. Yeah, you read that right. 14. Now, that's his opinion. And there isn't a one-formula way for everyone. But I agree with him to a degree. I didn't teach my kids formal math either when they were young.
Fast forward 7 years: our oldest is now 21 and in higher math in college-straight As on everything. He turned out fine. We did math, but we didn't start cramming it down him when he was 5. Not even.

Your kids have interests. Find out what they are and pursue them. Dive HEADLONG into those pursuits with them. Make their interests yours and get excited about researching. Show them the joy of research! Here are some examples:

  • You have a 7-year-old all into ballet. She just wants to dance. She wanders around the house in tutus. Use this to your advantage (really it's to HER advantage). Get to the library and check out books on ballet. Teach her the history, where it came from, what ballet was like in Paris in the 19th century, and why football players engage in practicing the art. View documentaries, check out books, give her glossary words to learn (vocab, spelling) revolving around the practice. Dive-or should I say, promenade-in.
  • You have a boy who's 12. He can't read too well yet. All he wants to do is bug you about NASCAR. Okay. You've got your work cut out for you. Research its beginnings. Check out books on racecars. Let him memorize everything about cars that he wants to, and give him spelling quizzes and memory facts tests on NASCAR. He's learning-let him learn what drives him. Vrooom!
  • You have a kid who loves computers. He doesn't want to do his homework out of a textbook. He thrives on Switched On Schoolhouse. Instead of pushing a pencil, he wants to pull your printer apart and put it back together. He tries to morph a DVD player and a vacuum cleaner together to make some weird robot-and succeeds (the thing can chase you, so be careful). Give him the hours to figure out who he is. Let him do it. I have just described my son Paulie in this third example, the straight-A boy in college. Yeah, I didn't do too much formally with him. But we sure had fun learning art history (art was his second-favorite pursuit). He can tell you all about Impressionism and the antics of Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, among many other things relating to the history of art. But yeah, we let him tear the daylights out of our computers and make a mess of our living room. Today he's building apps for TOS Magazine. Good deal, huh? Glad all that learning "stuck."

Play, play, play with your kids. It's going to stick if it is something THEY want to do. Think about it. When you were forced to take some test to get a promotion or even the ones at the DMV, did what you "learned" really stick? Or did you take the test and then let the info slide back out of your brain since you didn't need it anymore? Now think about the stuff you have researched because it's near and dear to you, whether it's natural food, childbirth, homeschooling, gardening, food storage, or fixing something important to you. That kind of learning sticks because it's meaningful to the heart that's pursuing it. There's your formula! Not rocket science. Pretty easy.

Now finish reading this The Homeschool Minute edition and then get in there with the kids and pursue something cool with them. Find out what they love and grasp hands and jump in with both feet, together. Do it today and smile with contentment tomorrow.




 Join Us for Our First Expo Preshow Next Tuesday!


6pm EST:  

Should We Teach With Tech? by Terri Johnson
Join Terri Johnson of Knowledge Quest and for a lively session as we discuss many of the useful devices and software applications that can springboard and enhance our children's education. Education as we know it is changing rapidly and homeschooling families are embracing this new revolution. Will we survive if textbooks go extinct? Absolutely! We'll discuss technological resources for all grades along with some important considerations for high school.

7pm EST:  

Home Business and Homeschooling: The Dynamics of Delegation by Malia Russell
Combining homemaking, homeschooling and home business creates a unique challenge for the mother who strives to do all she does in a way that brings glory to God and her children to maturity. Being a modern day P31 woman has unique challenges, but using the right tools and attitude toward delegation can make the balancing act a delightful challenge rather than an overwhelming flood of responsibilities. Join Malia Russell, wife to Duncan, mother to five children, and the director of and as she discusses the Dynamics of Delegation.

8pm EST:  

How Do You Do It All? Balancing Family Life and Home Business by Mary Jo Tate
Home business blends well with homeschooling, but it can also create frustration, exhaustion, and chaos. You may be paralyzed by an overwhelming to-do list and become trapped in a crisis-management approach to life. You may even wonder what good it does to be working at home if you're too busy to spend time with your children. As a single homeschooling mom with four sons and a home business, Mary Jo Tate knows just how hard the challenges can be! She'll share powerful strategies to help you move past the juggling act and find balance so you, your family, and your business can flourish.



Todd Wilson The Familyman
Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries


A while back, my wife and I were lying in bed after an exhausting day of parenting. I don't remember the whole conversation we had in the dark, but I think it revolved around homeschooling and the feeling my wife had that she wasn't doing enough "school."


"You know, honey," I said, not trying to make light of what she felt, "the real truth is that our kids learn MORE during the non-school hours than they do during the school hours."


My school experience demonstrates that (and yours probably does too). I took all the math, science, and English a kid could take, and to save my life I couldn't solve an algebra problem, define a joule, or diagram a sentence today.


Why is that? Because the natural and best place to learn is not in a classroom memorizing formulas or equations. The best place to learn something and to make it stick is by doing life: by using math in areas of need, by writing because you want to communicate something, and by experimenting and failing.


That kind of learning sticks.


Your children learn by seeing, exploring, and doing the things that interest them. Making one write a report or give a speech about something that doesn't interest him doesn't make it stick any better. He may get an A on the report, but it still might not be "learned." It may make you as a parent FEEL better, but it is not a measure of learning.


The things children enjoy, stick . . . because they were made to stick. Because REAL learning sticks.


So step back a little and watch things stick.


Be real,



-P.S. I had a great time meeting lots of homeschooling parents in Memphis this past weekend, and in a few days I'll be making my way to Pittsburgh, Penn., for the Greater Pittsburgh Workshop and Curriculum Fair (March 12). I'll give a free book away to the first person to come up


Catherine Jaime, a mom of 12, is a 30-year homeschool veteran who has been writing books and developing games on a variety of topics (Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, the U.S. Constitution, Lewis & Clark, and many others) for more than 20 years. You can see more about her books/games at 


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It's Just Common Sense

Ruth Beechick, Curriculum Specialist 


Debbie Strayer, Homeschool Consultant 


It was a dark and rainy night. We were eating in the living room while sitting on the floor. All of the food was tropical, and candles lit up the room. Were we under a hurricane warning? No, we were completing our study of Swiss Family Robinson! For my children, experiences like this made their learning meaningful and, ultimately, memorable and useful.


Once our learning about survival, shipwrecks, and island fare found a place in my children's understanding, it became a reference point for other learning. We could compare other events to this story, and they would gain insight into new situations. Through the combination of reading, writing, discussing, and doing, they felt a mastery over what they had learned, even to the point of becoming critics when something they saw in the movie version of the story didn't match the book. Experiences make learning meaningful, and meaning makes the connection for learning to become permanent and useful.


Not all learning happens this way, but you will be amazed at how much can. Ask God to open your eyes to the opportunities for experiential learning around you. When studying Columbus, I noticed in the newspaper that three replica ships were coming to our area. Seeing the tiny Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria gave new meaning to the dedication and discoveries of Columbus. God had provided the perfect vehicle for deep understanding-and fun. Don't pass up the opportunity to make memories that become milestones in learning.


~ Debbie 

Read more from Debbie at


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  • Two years worth of quality educational inspiration in the nearly 200 PRINT pages of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine®!
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  • 19 FREE gifts!  It'll feel like Christmas all spring long as these gifts come rolling in and you start using them with your children. Hard copy books, DVDs, subscriptions to learning sites, and more. Click Here to see what we have waiting for you!  


Contest Central  

For the month of March, 2011   

Opposites Are Fun!


A high-quality hardcover book and CD, Opposites Are Fun! introduces children to the world of opposites. In its 40 pages, the book covers 58 opposites. The CD has two songs that cover most of the opposites contained in the book. The opposites range from simple pairs, like "up" and "down," to more challenging concepts, like "plain" and "fancy." The book is colorfully illustrated with bright pictures that will hold a child's attention and help him understand each opposite presented.

The sing-along CD is also a great tool. Its sweet and simple songs cover the opposites in the same order as they appear in the book. The songs are catchy and make remembering the opposites much easier. I have heard a few "learning" CDs in my time, and some of them are terribly annoying! This one isn't; it is very easy on the ears and almost relaxing.

This set is designed for 3- to 8-year-olds, which I believe to be an accurate recommendation. My 5-year-old just loved it. After reading the book and listening to the CD three or four times, he knew all but a few of the 58 opposites. And learning them didn't hurt a bit! My 8-year-old also enjoyed the book and CD, even though she already knew most of opposites. (. . .)


Read the rest of the review here. Win this book for your family!



Email Deb with your name and mailing address and the subject "Opposites are Fun" for a chance to win* this book!




Homestead Blogger
*Disclaimer and Legal Notice:
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC ("Company") is sponsoring the March Contest Central contest running from March 2, 2011, to March 31, 2011. You must be 18 years of age or older and follow all rules to participate. Entering the contest constitutes full and complete acceptance of, and a warranty that the entrant has read, understands and agrees to, all contest terms and conditions, including without limitation all of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC Contest Rules ("Official Rules") and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Writer Guidelines
 and Terms and Conditions for Submitting Queries. All Official Rules apply. Entry also constitutes full consent and unlimited permission for Company to print, publish, broadcast and use all intellectual property and personal information submitted as part of the Contest entry on the Internet and in any and all Company publications in accordance with the Rules. Entries become the sole property of Company and will not be returned. Employees and independent contractors of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, Contest sponsors, individuals or entities furnishing Contest prizes and their family members may not participate in this contest. Company reserves the sole, discretionary right to determine contest winners and to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the contest or the Rules at any time with or without notice or cause, subject to applicable law. See Official Rules for details.
No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

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