Almost Unschooling Grama Weekly Wrap-Up | December 2, 2016


Hope you all have had a terrific week! The grandkids got home from Pennsylvania so I got to play with them for a few days. So much fun! I’ll be doing some blog posts about the things we did soon. Now I’m off to Iowa to help my folks out for a couple of months. My mom is having surgery next week, so please pray for a speedy recovery!

If you are new to this blog, each week I try to categorize all the posts I do on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest so you can easily find the ones that fit your family. Subscribe in the upper the right-hand corner to get this blog in your e-mail so you don’t miss out!


Every year when my kids were growing up, I declared the time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas “ART MONTH”! We cut our formal lessons to the bare minimum and concentrated on making presents. A major activity was making cookies and treats for everyone we knew. I would buy tins at garage sales throughout the year and during “ART MONTH” we would fill them with mouth-watering treats. Are you celebrating “ART MONTH”?



This is geared towards groups, but my kids would have loved doing this right at home. What about your kids? You could use this for review with any book or lesson!



Do you know all of your neighbors? Have a baking day with your kids and then take goodies to them!






King Josiah lesson




Get some party noisemakers and reenact the story of Jericho! If you don’t have any, you can use this link to order some and you can help me out at the same time! I get a small commission.








Your child may exhibit these signs when he/she is preschool age, but if he/she doesn’t, don’t worry! The average age for a child to be physically and mentally ready to read is 4 -12. Don’t push it!

Ready to Read – Reading Readiness Signs and Checklist




Have your kids write a paragraph about how they would want to be decorated if they were a Christmas tree.




Make paper ornaments with vocab words written on the backs. Put them on the tree. Then have your kids pick one or two each day and look up what it means.




Ask your kids what they would do if Santa were stuck in a chimney.  Have them draw pictures and write a story.




Name your elves. Then talk about what kinds of characteristics they have. Are they shy? athletic? What kinds of things are they interested in? Woodworking? electronics? Then write a story about a day in their lives.

If you don’t have any elves, you can buy some through this link and it will help support this page!




Middle School – High School


Make a crossword puzzle from words in a Christmas song and let your kids guess which song the puzzle is about. Then challenge them to make one for you!














Make a Christmas tree from construction paper or felt. Then make several cards with numbers on them on different colored construction paper. Place these in a bowl. Have your little one draw out one and decorate the tree by putting that number of sequins, beads or pom-poms of that color on the tree. Older kids can pull two and add them together.






How to Play Dice War (Subtraction) Good Math Games


Middleschool and Up

Can’t say enough good about this game! It was a favorite at my house for years! If you don’t have it in your house, please consider buying it through this link and help support this page!







Is there a National Guard or a military base near you? Call to see if you can get a tour! Great field trip! Find out about how it came to being and where those stationed at that base have served.






Free music therory course!



Have your child pick his/her favorite piece of art you have in your home. It can be a painting, a craft, a figurine, quilt, or whatever they love. Then have him/her describe the piece. What is the medium? What do you like about the lines, colors, textures, etc.? Where is it in your home? What makes that place a good place to display it? And anything else they can think of to describe it. This could make a great dinner time discussion or a blog post for older kids!




Something fun to do with all those broken crayons!





Sensory Crawl Infant and Toddler Activity {Huggies Little Movers}




Ask Jeanne: Do Homeschoolers Get a Diploma?





More parents taking kids’ learning into their own hands



God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Almost Unschooling Grama Weekly Wrap-Up

Hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and may the spirit of Thanksgiving envelope every other day of your year!

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

— William Arthur Ward

If you are new to this blog, each week I try to categorize all the posts I do on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest so you can easily find the ones that fit your family. Subscribe in the upper the right-hand corner to get this blog in your e-mail so you don’t miss out!


Spend a little time studying the history of the circus and go to one if you can. Circus’ tend to have families as performers. Pretend you are a circus family. Figure out what you can recreate and put on a circus with balancing acts, tumbling, clowns, pet, and stupid human tricks.



Adopt a missionary! Send them letters, pray for them and do fundraisers for them! This is a great organization!






Read the story about how Jesus created new eyes for a man in John 9:9-12 to your kids. Then get some dirt, add some water (or saliva if you are really brave 😉 ) and let them play in the mud.








Riddles are a great way to teach your kids to think logically! Click on this link to find great riddle books while helping support this page!,aps,605&crid=16YSQS3CB735N&linkCode=sl2&tag=almostunschoolinggrama-20&linkId=42caec6440fd4338758ee4deac7e16a2




Great idea from Mommy’s Page!





I totally don’t agree that all children should write their names before kindergarten, but this post has some great ideas for helping your child learn!

A simple way to practice name writing… before kindergarten!





OK, another use for textbooks (There aren’t many 😉 ) … Show your child the glossary in the back of a textbook. Explain that the purpose is to help people with words they might not be familiar with and that it is in alphabetical order. Then have him/her write an instructional article and include a glossary.



Print out a news article, but remove the headline. Let your kids read it and come up with their own headlines. Then compare them to the original. Then look at lots of headlines online. Discuss what makes a headline that encourages people to read the article.



Middle School – High School


Choose a book you are reading. Pretend you are a director who is casting the actors for a movie about it. Then choose people to play the characters. These can be anyone! – Friends, historical figures, actual actors, even fictional! Explain who you would choose and why.





My granddaughter is having a ball making butter! Bet your kids will too!

Make Homemade Butter Thanksgiving Edible Science


Have your kids blow up some balloons. Then have them see how far they can walk with them between their knees. NO HANDS! Experiment by doing the same thing with the balloons between the elbows. Then try different sizes and shapes of balloons. Is there a difference between the balloons that are blown up slightly and those that are blown up taunt? What other kinds of experiments can you try?



How Much Weight Can Your Boat Float?










This cute bean bag toss is loaded with indoor PE with math possibilities! Challenge your kids to start by tossing into the “5” hole, then the “10”, “15” up to 25 or backwards. You can also add or multiply scores from each round to a preset goal. Make your own or buy through this link to help support this page!





Do some round robin math. One person writes a number sentence. The next person solves the equation and uses the answer in their number sentence, and so on … Play against a timer, or until someone can’t solve the equation or until the number can’t be read. So many ways to have fun with this!



Middle School and Up

The math you need to manage your money




Have your kids make a list of questions about family and email it to grandparents, aunts and uncles. Use the answers to compile a family history.



What are your family’s favorite foods? Do they come from your ethnic background or somewhere else? Can you find out when and where those recipes were first created?



You don’t have to live in a state with mountains to have elevation. What is your state’s high point and low point? Mark them on your map and go there if you can!





Check out this interesting post on the songs of the Underground Railroad!





How to Teach Art to a Curious Teen (When You Know Nothing About Art!)







Sticker Line-Up








Why Grade Levels Do Matter


This 19-Year-Old Homeschool Alum Just Became Ontario’s Youngest Ever Elected Member of Parliament





God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Almost Unschooling Grama Weekly Round-up November 11, 2016

Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are awesome, aren’t they? Back when I started homeschooling in 1986 there were 2 or 3 companies that catered to homeschoolers and they were expensive! Today, there’s so much out there it can be overwhelming! But, with a little creativity and help from the internet, you can practically homeschool for free!

Your time is valuable. I post enough educational ideas each week that you could put together individualized curriculums for your kids from them fairly easily  over the course of a month or two, but accessing all of them would take hours of scrolling each week. So, I am going to attempt to do a summary of all the ideas and links I have posted each week, (plus a few extras) all neatly organized according to subject category and age level. Feel free to pick and choose those activities that best fit your children! Subscribe in the upper the right-hand corner to get this blog in your e-mail so you don’t miss out!



Do you know someone who’s been deployed overseas? The holidays can be a very lonely time for them. Get their address and have your kids write to them. Send a care package in time for Christmas. Your kids will learn about letter writing, the military and possibly about the country where your troop is stationed. If you don’t know anyone, I have a son and a son-in-love who are currently stateside in the military. I’m sure they could get you the name and address of someone to write. PM me.



Free outdoor Bible verse scavenger hunt. Click here!



Challenge your kids to write a story with as many of the names of the Books of the Bible in it as they can.


Make a cartoon book depicting a Bible story!





Another version of “Mother May I”: Instruct your kids to “run like a turtle” or an elephant or a turkey, but stress that they cannot move a muscle until you say “Go!”. Then count down, 3, 2, 1, but don’t say “go”, instead say “Girl!” Count down again but go back to 2 instead of “go” … Mix it up a few times. Teaches listening skills in a fun way.



Challenge your kids to find a different creative way to say thank you every day this month!



Preschool Letter Recognition Activities




Cut several pictures out of a newspaper, mix them up and have your kids create a story from them.


Blogging for Kids



Parts of Speech Hunt: Take an old magazine article and have your kids highlight all the nouns blue and all the verbs yellow. Use different colors for other parts of speech. You can also make this more challenging by circling phrases, etc.


Middle School – High School


Have your teens pick a song that they think represents their life. Have them embed a video of it in their blog or in an email and write about why that song speaks to them. Counts as Music Appreciation too!



Pretend  you live in is a department store universe. What would your life be like? Write a story about the advantages and challenges such a universe would have.







Flying Pumpkins: A Force and Motion Activity



Love those activities that mix subjects!




Family Activities

Domino Math






Dump out your change jar. Count the coins. Then sort them by the years stamped on them and stack them together. Count the number of coins in each stack. Make a bar chart showing the number of coins in each year. Then figure out the percentage of coins in each year by dividing the number in a stack by the total number of coins from your jar.


Middle School and Up


Figure out how far you could jump if you were a grasshopper! Click here!




Have you ever taken a tour of your local post office? Great field trip!



History is just full of science! Imagine that!



Another duo activity! Music and PE here!

Thanksgiving Songs for Children – A Turkey Dance



10 FREE Thanksgiving Coloring Pages


December is coming! I always declared an “art month” during December. We would only do a skeletal curriculum of spelling and math drills. The rest of the month was devoted to making Christmas presents. The kids really learned to love giving! They were so excited to watch people open the gifts they had made themselves. 🙂






I’m working on doubling that again! How bout 10 years this time?




5 Reasons Why the Government Should Stay Out of Education


How to Motivate Your Kids to Get Their Schoolwork Done

This is where I deviate from radical unschooling. I really think there are some things that require a lot of discipline to learn, like spelling, playing a musical instrument, and math facts. If kids are allowed to work on them for a few days or even weeks and then not use it, they will loose it. I also believe that since I get a reward for almost everything I do that maybe is boring or unpleasant, kids should too. Do you use incentives? What kinds of things work for you?


Wow! I learned so much doing this post! Hope it blessed you!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Almost Unschooling Grama Weekly Roundup

Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are awesome, aren’t they? Back when I started homeschooling in 1986 there were 2 or 3 companies that catered to homeschoolers and they were expensive! Today, there’s so much out there it can be overwhelming!

Your time is valuable. I post enough educational ideas each week that you could put together individualized curriculums for your kids from them fairly easily  over the course of a month or two, but accessing all of them would take hours of scrolling each week. So, I am going to attempt to do a summary of all the ideas and links I have posted each week, all neatly organized according to subject category and age level. Feel free to pick and choose those activities that best fit your children! Subscribe on the right to get this blog in your e-mail so you don’t miss out!

Before we get started this week, I wanted to share this great quote that I found this week from C. S. Lewis:

“In those days a boy on the classical side officially did almost nothing but classics. I think this was wise; the greatest service we can to education today is to teach few subjects. No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty, and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life.”

It’s something Grampa Tom and I discuss quite often. Most schools (especially high schools and colleges) require subjects that don’t pertain to anything the student will need when they get out into the workforce in an effort to produce a “well-rounded education”. Not only is it a waste of time, but it produces bored kids who are quite willing to just skate by. Let your kids study what they want! If they should need any of the “extras” when they are out there, they will pick it up.



A traditional school is a perfect habitat for competitive, extroverted, academically inclined students. But if you put an angelfish in this shark tank, you are asking for problems. Make sure your child has the right habitat for learning. ~ Grama Sue

~ Grama Sue



Most newspaper companies are thrilled to show kids around. Call to set up a tour! Counts as Language Arts or Social Studies!


Combine the game of Twister (which is PE) with any other subject! Simply print out questions on red, blue, yellow and green stock paper and cut them apart to make cards. Then after the spin, draw a card of the corresponding color. The player must answer the question and then make the move on the spinner.

If you need to buy a Twister game, click on the link!



Experiencing the 10 Plagues of Egypt



Give your kids tubes of travel toothpaste. Have them race to see who can get their tubes emptied first. Then have them try to put the toothpaste back in. Compare this to our words. Oftentimes our emotions will tempt us to race to spill out words that hurt others, but if we give in to that, we won’t be able to put them back in. Encourage your kids to take time to pray before they speak!




Remember! Every time you play a board game with your kids they are practicing valuable reading, math and social skills! Have a game night regularly!


Winter Crafts for Kids – Marshmallow Names



Surgery to make contractions! Wow! Love this idea from The First-Grade Parade!

Middle School – High School

A vocab game with a purpose!




Give your kids a ball, a board to make an inclined plane and a timer. Have them time how long it takes for the ball to roll down the board. Then, challenge them to make the ball roll slower.

Build A Hand Crank Winch Simple Machine STEM Idea



Decide on a small terrarium pet such as a lizard or an insect. Study what the pet will need and create a habitat for it.





Print out this dot board. Young kids can roll one die and circle the number of dots they rolled. Older kids can roll 2 or more dice, circle those numbers and add them together.



Make multiplication drills fun with this free game download from Games4Gains!

Middle School and Up

Cool Math for Kids has lots of brain teasers! Check them out!



Introduce your kids to Native American pictographs and encourage them to write a story with them!


Legos are always a hit when it comes to learning! Study flags with this lesson from Momgineer!




Spend some time watching the election coverage on networks with opposing bias’. Point out to your kids the wording used that exposes the bias from each of the channels.



Because I had a Daddy/Daughter date with my dad at the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Symphony last Sunday! 🙂 Cute video about the kinds of instruments you will find at a symphony!



Doing jigsaw puzzles of classic paintings is a great way to study Art!

Pick some up here!



DIY American Ninja Warrior Backyard Obstacle Course



It’s time to clean up the yard and put your gardens to bed! Get the kids out there pulling up plants, mulching, raking, etc. Great PE activities!



Cardboard Beads Threading Activity for Toddlers



Practice using scissors with these free printables from 123 Homeschool 4 Me!



I too hear so many kids who want to be homeschooled. Many teenagers are fully capable of educating themselves.

Help! I Want to Be Homeschooled.



Homeschool Students SPEAK UP!



If you have a child who is prone to anger or emotional outbursts, give her a pinwheel. Tell her that blowing on the pinwheel when she is angry or upset will help her calm down and think better. Then when the meltdown comes, give it to her and encourage her to blow on it as hard as she can 5 times.


31 Days to a Well-Run Homeschool


Smart lady! This is where I differ from radical homeschoolers. I believe there are memory skills that need to be worked on every day like spelling and math drills. You can’t work on these things for a day or two and then pick it up next week and expect your kids to get anywhere. And I believe in carrot sticks! A radical homeschooler would not stoop to bribes. 😉

How to Motivate Your Kids to Get Their Schoolwork Done


Wow! I learned so much doing this post! Hope it blessed you!


God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Back in the Saddle

Over the summer, I’ve only been unschooling myself because my son moved to Keokuk and I haven’t had any kids. This week his wife went back to school and Grama gets to babysit and teach!

So what does an almost unschooling day look like for The Brown One and me? He’s only 3 1/2, so it looks pretty much like any stay at home preschooler’s day. We have a check off list so I keep on track that includes sorting, letter and number ID, shapes, phonics, counting and writing, but these things can look different from day to day and even from hour to hour.

For instance, this morning we read a book about trains. We counted the number of cars and animals and we looked for the numeral we had counted on that page. We looked for the letter t. We talked about how the letter t sounds like “t” in train and tried to think of other words that started with the letter t.

Then The Brown One asked if we could play domino math. Domino math is a game I made up that can be quite complicated for older kids, but our objective right now is counting and matching. We put the dominoes down face down and take turns drawing them out. After we draw, we count each side and then look to see if we can match them to a domino that is already on the table. The dots on the dominoes I have are colored. That makes it easier to match, but tricky too since 4s and 11s are both brown, just different shades 😉 There is no “winner” at this age. We just play until he gets bored with it and then of course we have to set as many as we can up on their edges until they all fall down!


We took break from “doing school”, had a snack, did dishes and watched “Team Umizoomi” Then The Brown One wanted to “do school” again so I helped him with some dot-to-dots I had printed off the internet. Then he wanted to paint so I set him up with that while I cooked lunch.

After lunch we went for a long walk outside for PE. He would run with the dog, while I pushed his little sister in the stroller. Then he’d sit on the stroller for all of 30 seconds to “rest” and then off to run with the dog again. When we got back we worked outside until quiet time. I think I wore the little guy out! If he wakes up, there’s some other activities we might get too, but if we don’t it’s OK. There’s always tomorrow!



Signs Done and Out!

They are done!  But not without peril to life and limb 🙁 Yesterday, Grampa Tom had to go to Carthage. I really wanted to get these signs done and I was afraid he’d get home just in time to take off again, so I decided to try to get them down myself.

This is where they were:

Up above that door in the rafters of the garage.
And this is what was below, ‘cept for a whole lot more junk. I had to move a bunch just to get the ladder in.

I got a couple of the smaller signs down with great difficulty and then decided I probably ought to tackle it from the other direction. As I took a step down, the ladder slipped out from underneath me. I grabbed the rafters and found myself hanging there yelling “Help!” Then it occurred to me that the only other people on the property were deaf and probably inside.

That wasn’t going to work. I thought about just letting go, but the ladder was underneath me and there was no way I could do that without risking impaling myself on the various pieces of junk and metal surrounding it.

My life flashed before my eyes. At least the long forgotten parts about how bad I was at monkey bars 45 years ago.

A word fell out of my mouth that shouldn’t have. Instantly I was convicted.

Once, years ago, I found myself driving a truck that was spinning out of control on the ice. Same thing happened. I thought to myself, “Now that was pretty stupid!” and decided to yell “Jesus” instead. The truck stopped instantly.

So, as I hung there, I basically had two choices. Hold on til Grampa Tom got home, or do something. I prayed, “Holy Spirit, help me!” and decided to let go with one hand and try to swing over to the sink. Don’t know how, but I made it.

Needless to say, I waited till Grampa Tom got home to get the rest.

Fear and impatience will make you do stupid things, but yesterday, God was merciful to me 🙂 And by the time you read this, the signs ought to be from the highway to here so a few more people can find us!

God Bless You All!
~Grama Sue

Reading Readiness and More


This is one of  The Brown One’s favorite books. It’s called WORDS: My First Words Book by Playmore Inc. I picked it up at a thrift store for a buck sometime back.

The Brown One is still a little too busy most of the time to sit still and listen to a whole book being read to him, but with this book it doesn’t matter. We flip from page to page as he pleases and “read” the words. I put my finger on the word he want’s to read and sound it out slowly before putting the whole word together. I talk about the different letters and the sounds they make and if there is a letter combination in the word that makes a different sound like “ch” or “er” I point that out too.  At first, he paid no attention to me, but now he is starting to repeat what I say.

We  identify colors; discuss living and non living things, where food comes from; explore celebrations; consider dressing for the weather; and count things in this book! Just from this one little toddler board book we’re covering language arts, art, science, social studies, health and math! You can do this too. Take any activity that your child enjoys and find creative ways to cover 2 or more subjects.


The Letter T

The Brown one can pick out the letter T on his alphabet mat!


We’ve been working on the letter T for quite a while now.  When introducing the alphabet, I always like to start with letters that will mean something to them. T is the first letter of The Brown One’s name.

We’ve been making the letter t with play dough, writing it on paper and in the air. The other day The Brown One even decided he wanted to make the letter T with some rocks. What a brilliant idea!


He made the t. Then I followed his lead and spelled out the rest of his name while he eagerly brought me rocks.

This morning after The Brown One pointed out the T on his alphabet mat, he wanted to know which letter was for Grama, so I showed him. Then he pointed out the letter y. He knew it was part of his name, but he couldn’t remember it’s name. Then he wanted to know what the letter Q was. That led to a discussion of queens. We made a play dough queen and then of course we had to make a crown!

 The aim is to make learning fun! Roll with it!

Planting Potatoes

Wish I had a picture of the look on The Brown One’s face when I pulled this monster potato out of my store room, but you’ll have to use your imagination.


“WHAT IS THAT!” He exclaimed.  I told him it was a potato that was trying to grow. I love spontaneous learning activities, so I suggested we cut a piece of it off and  plant it.


I explained that the funny looking things that were growing out of the potato were roots and that if we cut off a part of the potato and planted it in some soil it would grow more potatoes. So we put this section of it in a pot and cooked the rest for lunch.


A couple of weeks later The Brown One was delighted to find that his potato was growing!


Today was warm enough that we thought we could put it outside.


We put it in the middle of a tire and then  put dirt and some old hay around it.


Since it was pretty  tall we put another tire over it and more dirt. Then, since it’s still pretty cold and the chickens are able to get into the garden right now, we put a piece of glass on top. We will keep putting tires and dirt around the stem as it grows and see how many potatoes we can grow from this one little potato part.

This is a great little science project. We’ll get a little math in there too when we count the potatoes after we dig them up later.