Almost Unschooling Grama Weekly Wrap-Up | December 23, 2016

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! This year, I get to spend Christmas with my folks. My parents have always made Christmas a special occasion and it’s been a while since I’ve had the privilege of celebrating with them. My prayer is that during this holiday season each of you will experience the blessing that comes through honoring your family.

It’s been kind of a crazy week for me. My mom is much better, but my uncle had a slight stroke so I’ve been doing double duty getting him all sorted out and settled in rehab. He is doing amazingly well. Praise God for that! Many of the posts for this week, of course, have to do with Christmas. You may want to file those away for next year, but there are several Hanukkah and nonseasonal posts as well.

Can you imagine being forced to sell your 11 or 12 year-old daughter just so the rest of your family can eat? Yesterday, I learned about an organization that I really want to promote. It is FOOD 4 SCHOOL AFGHANISTAN. This is a small organization run entirely by volunteers so 100% of your donations go directly to poor families in Afghanistan. They save young girls from being sold or being forced into marriages at 11 or 12 by offering food to these families in exchange for sending all of their children (boys and girls) to school. While I’m not a big advocate of traditional schools, in this circumstance, I’m all for it! Please consider donating! FOOD 4 SCHOOL AFGHANISTAN

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!




The holidays are a perfect opportunity to snuggle up with your family and watch movies! This one looks like a full-length Chronicles of Narnia on Youtube! Are you a Narnia fan?



Brain Training Activities for Auditory Attention





Hanukkah starts at sundown on Christmas Eve. Why not make it a double holiday in your house? Search the internet for ways to make a homemade chanukiah (the special 9 branched menorah used during Hanukkah) and teach your kids the miracle of Hanukkah.


Research the Magi. Start by reading the story of their visit to Bethlehem in Luke. Then talk about how the Bible differs from popular depictions of them. Then challenge your kids to get online and find out as much as they can about them. There are several different theories about who they were and where they came from. Find out about the gifts they brought, their uses in that time period and the symbolism behind them. Older kids can write a research paper. Be sure they understand how to document their findings!


Cute Names of Jesus Ornaments free printable!







Have your kids write a story about a reindeer other than Rudolf. In case you can’t remember them all, here they are: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen





6 Tips for Correcting Pencil Grip




Read the story of Christ’s birth from the King James or another older Bible. Point out the differences in language such as openeth, thee, thy or hath. Talk about how language changes.Point out some ways language is still changing today. For instance, when I was young, many words like “pee” having to do with bodily functions or parts were considered taboo.  What differences have you seen in your lifetime? Share them with your kids.



Middle School – High School


Look up Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What type(s) of writing did he do? Read some of his work. Why do you think he is considered such an important author?





Don’t read this idea if you are easily grossed out! But then again, you are a homeschooler, you are used to choking it back for your kids!

One of my favorite activities was to buy a beef heart and dissect it. Beef hearts are very similar to a human heart in structure. Find a heart diagram to refer to before starting. Then find the vein that goes into the heart and the artery that comes out. If your kids are really adventurous, see if you can pump some liquid through it by using a syringe or turkey baster to put some liquid in and then squeezing the heart. Then cut the heart down the middle of the side. See if you can find the chambers. What else can you discover about the heart?




Grow an Amaryllis! Plant care counts as science and will bring a little bit of spring into your house this winter!



Since Hanukkah is all about the miracle of the oil, why not plan a science experiment using oil each day? Just google “oil science experiments” for ideas!







This one is from a kindergarten classroom, but you could easily substitute names of your family and extended family!





Gingerbread House Geometry: Edible STEM



Middle School and Up


Did you know that square numbers actually make squares? Fascinating post!

A Penny for Your Math


Make a simple quilt.

  1. Decide how big it will be. If you’ve never done one before, keep it small. A big one will be overwhelming.
  2. Decide how wide you want the border to be.
  3. Subtract the width of the border x 2 from your desired overall length and width.
  4. Decide how many quilt blocks you want to go across and down the quilt. Again if you are beginning, go easy on yourself. Limit it to 2 to 4 blocks.
  5. Divide the width by however many pieces of cloth you want to have going across the quilt and add 1/2 inch to that measurement. (The 1/2″ allows for 1/4″ seams.) Do the same for the length.
  6. From this, you can figure out the measurements of your squares. You might want, to make a trial quilt by cutting squares from paper and arranging them on a table or on the floor just to see how it will work before cutting your cloth. That way if you have made any mistakes you can correct them.
  7. Sew the blocks together.
  8. Add a backing and then a border. Remember, when you cut the border, it needs to be twice the width plus 3/4 inch to accommodate the seams and the thickness of the materials.

LOTS of measuring and basic math in this! Great project for a teen or tween!







Did you know there are homeschoolers in China? How awesome!


Look up “latkes”. Learn about why fried foods are traditionally served during Hanukkah. Experiment with different latke recipes and serve them each night during Hanukkah.


In Defense of Christmas | The Roots Behind the Pagan Roots




Free Hanukkah Songs and Rhymes for Circle Time





Food Art! Home Ec and Art all in one place! Challenge your kids to play with their food to see who can come up with the most “you hate to eat it because it’s so awesome” dish!




Little ones learn by exploring with their hands and their mouths. Why not make some letter cards by using a marker to make a large letter on a piece of cardstock, then decorate that letter with different sensory items such as pasta, bits of sand paper, chenille, or other items that have different textures each day. You could even laminate them and use foods that they can then eat once you’ve completed the letter.





Assign one child each week to help prepare meals. make sure they help you plan and shop as well!




Have your kids keep a food diary for a week. Look up calories, carbs and proteins for those foods. Look up the recommended percentages and compare them to what they eat. Discuss what changes (if any) they might want to consider making


Nutrition Activity for Kids





8 Easy Ways for Homeschoolers to Avoid Holiday Overwhelm


How to Take a Learning Break This Winter (+Giveaway)



Check out my Facebook page for the latest activities and plenty of encouragement. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have about homeschooling!


God Bless You All!


~Grama Sue

Structured Unschooling | Can it happen?


They really make me jealous! You know, those awesome radical unschooling types that never make a plan. They just wake up in the morning and follow any little (or big) rabbit trail that perks their or their children’s interests! I personally know a couple of ladies like this in real life. They pursue life one day at a time, their houses always look nice and their attitude is “If God wants us there, He’ll lead us to it.” One of them loves to take college courses. She doesn’t really care if the college courses lead to employment, she just loves to learn … and her kids … they are always following such marvelous pursuits … just for the love of learning! The other is older and her kids have left home, but she still has that same attitude. UGH!

You know what happens to me if I don’t have some structure? I wind up with 17 different projects demanding to be done right now, you can’t walk through my house and I’m stressed to the max from my lack of direction! Can you relate? Then keep reading. I love the concept of unschooling. As I understand it, the basic principle of “unschooling” is to guide your children based on what God has designed them to do. I love this idea, but, I have to have structure. And all the kids I have ever taught seem to need that too.

More than anything, this is why I call myself an “almost unschooler”.  In some circles, that makes me a failure. I shouldn’t even touch the term “unschooler”. It’s the old, “If you aren’t just like me, something must be terribly wrong with you.” box that all of us who are homeschooling profess to have left the traditional school system over. Really? Everyone and every family is different. We each must figure out for ourselves how God has designed us and live our lives in the way that works for us. If classical homeschooling is where your heart is at, go for it! School in a box? Go for it! Even public school. Right now, mostly because of their mothers’ health issues, almost all of my grandkids are in public school. If I could, I’d enroll all of them in Isaac Hills Home Learning Center, but distance prevents that and I agree with my kids that public school is the best choice for their families right now. But I digress …

So, how can you keep with the basic principle of unschooling and yet have structure?

  1. Study your kids.

What are their learning styles? What are they most interested in? Find ways to structure their learning experiences based on who they are. For instance, my daughter loved workbooks and fashion. She was my guinea pig, and I didn’t do the best job at it, but I let her do as many workbooks as I could afford, I centered math around how many beads it would take to make a bracelet type word problems and her grandmother taught her to sew. My youngest loved farming. We read from farm magazines and he and his dad figured out how much seed, chemicals and fertilizer he would need to plant the to-scale farm in his room for math.

  1. Teach your kids to make goals.

Start by asking them what they want to know. Have them write down 3 things they want to know more about or do. Help them break that down into doable bites – what can they do daily, weekly and monthly to get to those goals.

  1. Teach them to make lists and charts.

Create lists and charts for yourself to keep track of all that you have to do and use them! I used what I called a “daily assignment sheet” with my kids. True unschoolers would never separate life into subjects, but for me, if I ever needed to communicate what my kids were doing to the world (or the parents of the other kids I taught), I needed to break down what we were doing into the standard “subjects”. So, I had the categories of Bible, Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, Art, Music, Life Skills, Computer Skills and PE listed on our daily assignment sheet. Underneath each, we listed activities that we planned to do for each.

Under Language Arts we might have:

  • One paragraph journal
  • Learn two new vocabulary words
  • Read one chapter in ____________
  • Complete one online lesson on “_____ (grammar site)”
  • Etc.

And then in Math we might have:

  • Learn to count by 4s
  • Try to beat timed worksheet score
  • Play (math game)
  • Etc.

We would either check off or write in the time we spent doing each activity. And we left spaces for spontaneous activities should we want to go down a rabbit trail. Using this strategy, I was able to keep myself and my kids on-course and at the end of the day, week, month,  quarter or  year we had a way to look back and see just how much we had accomplished.

When your kids are just learning to read and write, you will have to do most of this yourself, but as they get older, your kids can do increasing amounts of this themselves. Eventually, they will be creating their own curriculum with very little oversight from you. In the process, they will learn time management, record keeping, and organizational skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

It takes some self-discipline to successfully homeschool. Most folks I know start out with school-in-a-box and then when they find they can handle that, they loosen up and wind up in a more relaxed to unschooling type of homeschool structure. That’s alright if it is what works for you and you can afford it, but if you want to skip all that, but still have structure, these are the 3 basic steps you need to take.


God Bless You All!

~ Grama Sue

Announcing Homeschool Doula Program | Homeschool Mentoring

Almost Unschooling Grama’s

Homeschool Doula Program
(Temporarily only available to Illinois, Iowa and Missouri residents.)


Thinking about homeschooling but don’t know where to start? Already homeschooling but frustrated? Confused by all the curriculum choices out there?

We all need someone who’s been there to talk with and to encourage us. When I started homeschooling, we were horribly financially challenged. I was also very sick and incredibly disorganized. But, I loved my kids and was determined to do the best I could by them. I started out thinking I’d just do it for a year or two and wound up teaching kids that weren’t my own 🙂

If I can do it, so can you! I’m here to help you with one-on-one guidance through all the questions and insecurities you will experience as you learn to establish an educational model that will work for you and your family. My goal will be to work myself out of a job. Most families will want to work with me for a year or two, but if you think you’ve got this after a month or you get to liking me and want to keep me involved long term, I’m good with that!

Through weekly phone calls, e-mails, chats and my Face Book page, I will help you:


Assess each child’s educational needs
Find activities and curriculum
Establish a schedule that will work for your family
Find support service you might need
Meet state requirements
Establish a good record keeping routine
Create report cards
Help you with strategies that will encourage your child’s love of learning


I’d love to do this for every family in the world for free, but, I can only help 10 families at a time and since I’m not independently wealthy yet, I still have to eat! This program will open January 5th, but to make sure that I have time to serve each family by getting to know you well, only one family will be accepted into the program each week.

A $25 registration fee gets your family a place in the line. Once you start the program, a $100 monthly fee will be required on the day of the month that your family starts. Pay by check, money order, Paypal or debit card through my Paypal account! Just let me know what you want to do and I’ll set you up.

I’m looking forward to working with you! Get your place in line now!