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How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

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How to Plan a Year-round Homeschool Year

Written by Amber Marie | June 29, 2018

Now that summer has hit, I couldn’t help but get excited for the upcoming school year. This past year I did a combination of Pre-K/Kindergarten curriculum for my five-year-old son. This upcoming school year will be his “official” kindergarten year. But where to start? How do you plan a school year, especially if you want to do a year-round schedule? This is where I went back to my experiences with planning as an elementary school teacher. The methods I share below are not exact steps I took as a teacher, but they are pretty darn close. And considering that I am a homeschooler now and no longer a public school teacher, I do have a bit more flexibility with my planning. So scroll down and take a look at how I plan a year-round homeschool year.

Step 1: Timing and Curriculums

The first thing I did was gathered my curriculums and a notebook. The notebook is to help with brainstorming what you’d like your year to look like. This includes how many days a week you want to teach, what subjects will you be teaching and how often, how many weeks or days of school will you have this school year, what breaks you want to schedule in, and so much more. Take a look at the image below for an example of the notebook page with all my school year brainstorming.

As far as curriculums go, I gather what I have and then I try to find the table of contents of any curriculums I may be using later in the year, but haven’t purchased yet. For example, I will be using the Good and Beautiful Level K Language Arts program, but don’t need it until September or October, so I will wait until then to make the purchase. Since I didn’t have this curriculum on hand, I needed to find the table of contents to help me determine how long it would take to teach the curriculum. You can find the table of contents for most of the Good and the Beautiful curriculums on Jenny Phillips website. Download the coursebook preview and it should be within the first few pages. As for other curriculums, christianbook.com has wonderful sample pages you can access and many of them include the table of contents for the different curriculums available. You can see this in more detail on my Youtube channel, Forging Foundations Homeschool Channel, in my planning video.

Step 2: Map out the year on a calendar

After you figure out the main details from step one, it is time to map everything out on your calendar. The calendar I used went from June 2018 to June 2019. You can download a year at a glance calendar for free online at timeanddate.com. You can customize it to start with any month. I plan on starting each new school year at the end of July, but if you would rather start in August or January or whenever, you can adjust the calendar to your liking.

Once you have the calendar in your hand, start by figuring out what week you want to start. For me, as mentioned above, we are starting the last week of July as many of our vacations will be complete by then. I started by labeling this as week one. From there I continued numbering the weeks until I reached a natural break from either a holiday or when I felt we would need one. Our family is expecting our third child mid-September, so I put a week there to break, however, I left flexibility for another week to be taken before jumping back into school if need be.

Continue this process of numbering weeks and break weeks until you reach the end of the year. It helps to know where you would like to end your year so that you can see how far from that point you are. This will allow you to spread your breaks out nicely so that as you approach the end of the year, you are not stressing about filling the time. Once I planned out the calendar on the ones I printed from timeanddate.com, I took it one step further.

I’ll be honest, I love technology, and I am a VERY VISUAL person. So color-coding and having everything in one place really helps me stay on task. So I used an excel template from Vertex42.com to help create a year calendar that allowed me to color code break weeks along with my four quarters (terms), and number the weeks. My example, along with a blank copy of a year calendar, can be downloaded below.

Step 3: Map out your Curriculums using a Scope and Sequence

This takes me back to my teaching days as we always had to pull together a scope and sequence for each subject we were teaching that year. Essentially, a scope and sequence is a plan that shows what lessons or units you plan on teaching during the weeks of your school year. In my example below, I broke my scope and sequence table into three groups: Language Arts, Mathematics, and Handwriting. I am not planning on using a History or Science curriculum this year as I am part of Classical Conversations and I feel my son gets plenty through this homeschool coop.

Under each subject, I split them into the different curriculums, or levels I was using. For example, for Math this upcoming year, I plan on finishing the Abeka K5 workbook that we started this past year. When we hit week thirteen, I switch curriculums and start using the Good and Beautiful Level K math. Having these two curriculums split up in the math column allowed me to visualize the timing better.

As you move further down my scope and sequence you’ll notice that as we get closer to week fourty, I have weeks called “overflow”.  Overflow weeks allow for lessons to be spread out over remaining weeks in case of sickness, or other interruptions to the schedule of our school year. For example, let’s imagine that we have a week where everyone is sick in our house. Well we can take that week off in school and continue where we left off the following week. Best part is we don’t have to stress about missing a week because each subject has at least four or five weeks of overflow allotted.

Now, you may be looking at my scope and sequence and wondering, “where are you getting all those lesson numbers?” This is where my curriculum table of contents come in. I take a look at the number of lessons listed in each curriculums and plan them out based on the number of days I allotted for each subject. Not only does this help me visualize how long a curriculum will last, but it also gives me a good idea of how much wiggle room I have to make adjustments throughout the school year.

For example, if a lesson or concept takes a bit longer than one or two days to explain to my son, I can adjust my scope and sequence accordingly (especially since I have those overflow weeks built in).  I won’t go and print a new one, but instead just make adjustments on the actual copy using sticky notes or pencil to cross out and adjust. However, if you have the time, feel free to change it on the computer to accommodate. Only thing I would suggest is make sure to keep the original handy so you can reflect at the end of the year. This helps with adjusting your next school year. The template for this scope and sequence can be downloaded below. Feel free to adjust to your needs and add more if needed.

Step 4: Get the Lessons Written in your Planner of Choice

So the school year is approaching and you want to make sure you start it off strong. This is the time to get your handy dandy planner out, whether it be a paper planner or an app on your phone. Take a look at your school year calendar along with your scope and sequence and fill out the first month of school. Now I wouldn’t go any further than one month at a time because LIFE HAPPENS! I would hate to see you fill out your whole planner just to have to erase a whole month later because you may have fell behind.

There are so many different planners out there from online ones to phone apps to paper ones that are very popular. I find myself enjoying the satisfaction of crossing something off with a pencil on paper. I did a lot of research trying to find a planner that would fit all my needs and although I liked a lot of them, there wasn’t something that had everything I wanted. So what is a mom to do but make her own. In the pictures below, you’ll see my planner, however, if you’d like a more in depth look, I’ll be doing a live session today at 3 pm on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for a quick look into my planner along with a Q&A for those who have questions about my planning method.

Once my planner is in hand, I will use my scope and sequence along with my year calendar to plan out the month. I’ll write down which lessons I plan to do each day and schedule in breaks. Having a month written in at a time helps me to stay on track with my school year. Now, obviously, there is a chance that life will still happen and a school day or week may need to be pushed back, but I don’t stress because all I need to do is change the lesson numbers listed next to each curriculum for the remainder of the month (rather than a whole year!!!).

So there you have it…how to plan a year-round school year. This may be too overwhelming for some and I totally understand. For me, this helps me stay accountable and stay on track so I am not wasting time during the school year.

One thing I do suggest is to keep all your planning resources in one place. As the year progresses, make notes of things that worked and didn’t. Take time at the end of the year to reflect on how everything went with the planning (this is where those little notes will come in handy to help jog your memory).  This time next year, I’ll have a video of my own reflection on how the school year went in regards to my planning along with the curriculums I used.

I truly hope this helped any of you struggling with trying to make a game plan for your upcoming school year. Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments below if you need anything clarified. Be sure to join me live today (June 29th) at 3 pm for a Q&A about my planning process. And don’t worry if you miss it, I’ll upload the video to the Forging Foundations Homeschool Channel after the live session closes.

Download the School Year Planning Bundle Now!

Did you like the planning resources I used above? If so, don’t spend time recreating the wheel! Download those planning freebies by completing the form below. If you are already a Club Member, this freebie will be listed in the Member’s Library under “Featured Freebies”

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

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How do you plan your school year? Do you use a year-round or traditional schedule? Share in the comments below. 

COMMENTS

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

Don't Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member's Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don't wait! Sign up today!

The Benefits of Gardening Tomatoes with your Children

Written by Amber Marie | June 20, 2018

I love being outdoors, especially during the beautiful season of summer. Summer is a time to make so many great memories from family trips to the beach, hot days at the pool, and eating ice cream and popsicles. One memory I’m excited to share with my oldest son is gardening. Our family enjoys growing our own vegetables and have picked a few different veggies to grow this year in our garden. My son was ecstatic when he got to pick a plant for him and his brother. We did some looking but it didn’t take long for him to spot the pictures of cherry tomatoes attached to the pots of some nearby plants.

“Mom, I want to get this tomato plant because we can eat these small tomatoes off the branches after they get red.” he said with the most joyful expression on his face. How could I say “no” to such an innocent request. So we loaded the seedling into our cart along with the other vegetable plants and made our way to the checkout line. He could hardly wait to get home and plant the seedling into one of our large planters. For me, I saw this as a perfect teaching opportunity for some valuable lessons in hard work, responsibility, and nature science.

Hard Work

Hard work is a quality that is learned through guidance and practice. As homeschoolers, we have to work hard to educate our children. It’s also our duty to instill this character trait within our little ones as well. What better way then to teach them through gardening. When we arrived home from the garden center, my son ran to the backyard and was raring to get planting. Before we could get started we had to gather all the materials, so I took the opportunity to teach my son about what was necessary to plant the seedling. After collecting our supplies (garden pot, trowel, soil, pebbles, and plant food), we began to assemble our pot in preparation for the tomato seedling.

For the rest of this post, join me over at Minnesota Country Girl where I have the privilege of guest posting for Summer in the Outdoors: A Homeschool Series of Gardening, Foraging & Nature Studies.

Read the rest of my post HERE

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooing

Written by Amber Marie | May 12, 2018

I get a lot of funny looks when I say I homeschool my son. However, those facial expressions change quickly to surprise when I mention I am a former elementary school teacher. So many people ask me “why I would want to homeschool my kids rather than send them to public school” among other questions. Normally, I give a quick run down of some brief reasons then go on my merry way. But as I sat down to think about it more, I was able to flesh out 5 things I LOVE about homeschooling that I (or my son) would never be able to get in a public school setting.

Read more about “5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling” over at Michelle’s blog With the Huddleston’s.

Be sure to check out the other wonderful posts in her iBlog movement series by visiting With the Huddleston’s and selecting “iBlog Movement” under the categories. All posts beginning May 1st are part of this special series!

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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How to Plan a Year-Round Homeschool Year

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Now that summer has hit, I couldn’t help but get excited for the upcoming school year. This past year I did a combination of Pre-K/Kindergarten curriculum for my five-year-old son. This upcoming school year will be his “official” kindergarten year. But where to start? How do you plan a school year, especially if you want to do a year-round schedule? This is where I went back to my experiences with planning as an elementary school teacher. The methods I share below are not exact steps I took as a teacher, but they are pretty darn close. And considering that I am a homeschooler now and no longer a public school teacher, I do have a bit more flexibility with my planning.
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Read More
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With just a short time left until summer you want to make the last stretch of the spring season count. Since we are short on time I have made a list of that has 5 ways to plan your spring using books and activities that will make this season memorable. It will bring a smile on your face every time you can look back on the memories that you created with your children. A meaningful spring will yield a great education.
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Free Resources
RightStart™ Math Lesson Books

How do you get outdoors to enrich your homeschool? Share in the comments below!

COMMENTS

3 Ways to Use Playdough for Math

3 Ways to Use Playdough for Math

Don’t Miss Out!

Sign-up to recieve updates on new posts along with special perks for Members. You will recieve exclusive access to the Member’s Library where you will find a variety of freebies for every subject. Also, Members get a special monthly discount code for products in my store. Don’t wait! Sign up today!

3 Ways to use Playdough for Math

Written by Amber Marie | March 13, 2018

If you haven’t learned already, I am a STRONG ADVOCATE for hands-on learning, especially when it comes to MATH (take a look at my post where I highlight the benefits of hands-on learning). As a teacher, I used to try and find any way I could to include manipulatives in the math lessons I was teaching. In my homeschool, it isn’t any different.

One of the most versatile manipulatives out there is playdough. You can use it for pretty much anything from teaching letter formation to counting to geography. You name it and playdough can probably be used to enhance the learning experience in some way. When it comes to math, children can use playdough measure and count or compare and contrast shapes and sizes. These types of play with playdough encourage stronger mathematical reasoning and thinking skills. According to the National Associations for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), “These play experiences [with playdough] encourage children to practice counting, learn about shapes (geometry) and how they relate to each other (spatial sense), and practice sorting and classifying. Such mathematical ways of thinking prepare children for learning more complex math concepts in the coming years.” Who wouldn’t want their children more prepared for future math skills? I know for me the answer is simple and playdough is easy enough to implement into my school day.

Therefore, today I’d like to share a playdough recipe I love (shared by my mother-in-law, learn about her in my first homeschool mom crush post), along with a few resources I’ve used from other homeschoolers. As a bonus, this recipe also allows for teaching basic fractions with measuring cups (for more on that see my post on baking and math). So without further ado, onto the recipe.

Playdough Recipe

Before this recipe, I had scoured Pinterest for playdough recipes but found odd ingredients or difficult instructions. I LOVE THIS RECIPE! It is so simple and you probably have all the ingredients right now in your kitchen (or can have them within two days using Amazon Prime)

One key ingredient for this recipe is gel food coloring. It helps keep the playdough from dyeing your hands (lesson learned when making slime). At first, when mixing the color into the dough, you will get color on your hands, unless you wear gloves. As for myself, I don’t mind a little color on my hands as it is normally rubbed off by the end of the day.

Your children can definitely help in making the recipe as there are no harmful ingredients except for maybe the boiling water at the end, which you will want to do yourself. We don’t need any trips to the hospital for third-degree burns now do we? Check out the recipe below.

 

The recipe uses staple items from your kitchen such as flour, salt, and vegetable oil. You may have cream of tartar in your pantry, but if not check out this one on Amazon. As mentioned above, you’ll want to use gel food coloring like this, instead of the liquid food coloring or each time your children plays with the playdough, their hands will be a wonderful color from the rainbow.

The first four ingredients are mixed in a bowl. This can be done with a spoon or a mixer, your choice. After mixed well, you will need to acquire some boiling water. The amount is unknown as you base it off of the consistency of the dough. One of these days I’ll measure it out, but for now, I just eyeball it. If you add too much (as I have done plenty of times), no worries, just add some more flour and your set. The dough should have the same consistency as playdough. It may feel a bit dryer to the touch, but it molds well and is as pliable as the store-bought stuff.

After the dough has cooled, separate it into smaller balls based on the number of colors you’d like to make. I made six baseball sized balls from one batch and made two of each color (green, red, blue). This is the part where your hands will get messy. To each ball, add a few drops of gel food coloring then mold and fold until the color melts into the dough consistently. If you want it darker, add a few more drops. CAUTION: I have tried to make colors by mixing primary colors and I always end up with an ugly gray. So if you want special colors like purple, pink, teal or whatever, just buy those gel food colors (it’ll save you a lot of headaches). Once the color is mixed in well, give it five minutes to set then let your children go to town!

As far as storage, I would suggest using plastic containers versus Ziploc bags. They hold up so much better and if you get ones like these screw-top ones, they are easy for younger children to open and close. Enjoy making this recipe with your children, then make sure to check out the awesome math resources below made by other homeschoolers and me.

Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Boiling Water (eye-balled)
Directions

  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Pour in boiling water until it can be mixed and forms a dough.
  • After cooled, separate into four to six balls.
  • Add gel food coloring and mix.
  • Let stand for 5 minutes before use.

 

Math Playdough Resources

After making your playdough, you are ready to use it for teaching math (or any other subject you wish). Below, I’ve shared three resources I have found useful in making my math lessons more hands-on and fun. Be sure to check out each homeschoolers blog post regarding the resources. And don’t forget to download my freebie for playdough patterns at the end.

Number Playdough Mats

The first resource comes from Playdough to Plato in a guest post by Kim, a homeschool mom of 7 years. She includes number recognition, formation, and counting on printable for numbers one to ten. Your child can form the number using playdough, place playdough sprinkles on the cupcake, then finish by making playdough balls for the ten frame at the bottom. At the top, you can use a dry erase marker or crayon to fill in the missing number. This is a great way to enforce number sense and number recognition.

Check out her post here and get the free download!

Playdough Shapes Activity

The second resource I’d like to share is from Kristina at School Time Snippets. Her printable shape cards are a great way to teach your children about making shapes. I especially like these cards because you can extend the lesson further and teach about the number of sides (toothpicks) and vertices (playdough). You can even let your children get creative and build 3D shapes.

My son really enjoyed using the playdough to connect the toothpicks and he sure did get creative and tried to build a tower. It helps to have blunt end craft sticks like these to help prevent poked fingers or mischief with pointy ends.

Check out her post here and be sure to download her freebie!

 

Playdough Pattern Mat

Last but not least, I wanted to share the freebie I made for playdough patterns. I discovered the usefulness of playdough with teaching patterns when my son was playing one day. I had just used colored bears to teach an ABAB pattern earlier that day. During quiet time, my son loves playing with playdough and I heard him call me over from the kitchen. When I entered the dining room, he had made an ABAB pattern with two playdough colors. Needless to say, I was impressed.

My printable only practices patterns using different playdough colors, but you are not limited to just colors. You can use cookie or playdough cutters like these to make shape patterns as well. The possibilities are endless.

 

This freebie has four playdough mats. Each includes a pattern key that you can color in or have your child indicate the colors with a small ball of playdough. There are six patterns your child can follow or they can create a pattern of their own. Try them out today by clicking on the button below. If you are already a member, you can find them in the Member’s Library. 

Whether you are teaching patterns, number recognition, shapes, or another math concept, playdough should be within reach as a manipulative. Playdough has many versatile uses that allow you to expand on your child’s mathematical reasoning and thinking skills. What better way to do this than with a fun manipulative like playdough. Also, there are many more resources out there for playdough so be sure to check out my Pinterest board specifically for playdough mats and other lessons.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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Do you know of other playdough resources? Want to share other ways to use playdough for teaching math? Share in the comments below.

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Baking with Math: Valentine’s Day Cookies

Baking with Math: Valentine’s Day Cookies

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Baking with Math: Valentine’s Day Cookies

Written by Amber Marie | February 12, 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commision if you click through and make a purchase. To read my full disclosure policy click here.

I LOVE BAKING! I could bake treats all day and not get tired of it. Pies, cookies, cakes, brownies, you name it, I bake it. I have instilled this love of baking in my sons (especially my oldest) as they love to help every time I pull out the mixer. Nothing makes me more happy to see the excitement on their faces when they get to take part in one of my passions.

Baking, however, is not an activity that lacks educational potential. Math is everywhere in cooking, especially baking. Think about how many recipes call for a cup, half cup or quarter cup of one or two ingredients. This allows for a perfect opportunity to introduce fraction basics. Learning about fractions doesn’t normally start until second grade, however, kindergarten and first graders learn some very basic concepts that help build a foundation for later fraction exploration. So let’s dive in and find out how we can do this!

The Lesson

With younger children, you won’t be focusing so much on the names of each fraction. Instead, you will reference fractions using the words “part(s)” and “whole”. You can introduce the names, however, don’t expect them to remember what they mean at this age. To help explain fractions, and later make the recipe, you will need measuring cups. The recipe only uses a ½ cup and a 1 cup so you won’t need any others unless you wish to work in some more advanced fraction practice (if your children are older, you can touch on equivalent fractions – i.e. ½ equals 2/4). Also, you will want some sort of food that is dry and can fill the cups such as rice, dry beans, or small pasta. We’ll get into the other ingredients and tools needed later when we get to the recipe.

To better illustrate the concept of part and whole use a real-life example such as pizza. This can help children visualize this relationship. Some tools you can use are a picture of a pizza that you can cut up, toys like this one or this one, or learning tools like these magnet pizza slices. Discuss how a whole pizza is one whole, but to eat it we cut it up into smaller parts (slices). You can take it further by talking about how many pieces make up a whole pizza and test out different scenarios (1 whole pizza split into 2 parts, 1 whole pizza split into 4 parts, etc).

If the pizza concept is too confusing, you could simply use a blank sheet of paper. Explain that the sheet is a whole sheet of paper. Then fold the paper in half and unfold it so they can see the crease (you can use a pencil to trace it if it’s difficult to see). Show them how after folding the paper, you have two parts that make up the whole paper.

Now it’s time to transition to the cups. Set out your two measuring cups (½ and 1) and a bowl of whatever dry ingredient you decided to use (we chose rice). Ask your children what they notice about the two cups in front of them. Let them explore by picking up and looking at them. If they don’t respond right away with any noticings, prompt with the following types of questions. The last one may be tricky depending on their age, but if you’ve baked with them before they may remember you saying it before.

Can you tell me about the sizes of the cups? (one’s smaller ones bigger)

Do you see any numbers on the cups? (1, 2)

What do we use these cups for? (measuring ingredients)

Introduce the two cups as measuring cups and explain that one cup is a whole and one cup is a part. Explain that the cup with a 1 and 2 on it (½) is called a fraction and represents a part of a whole cup, similar to the slices (or parts) of a whole pizza or paper. 

Tell them the “2” in the fraction tells them how many of that cup will make one whole cup (1 cup). To demonstrate this, let your children use the half cup to scoop rice out of the bowl and fill the one cup. Ask them to count how many small cups (½ cup) it takes to fill the big cup (1 cup). They should say it takes two small cups to fill the bigger cup. Tie this example back to parts and whole. The half cup is the part and it takes two parts to make the whole cup (1 cup).

To help them visualize further, you can use two wide-mouthed mason jars side by side along with a dry erase marker. Have your children use the one cup to fill one mason jar with water or your dry ingredient (whichever is easiest). Mark the height of the dry goods with the dry erase marker. Then have them use the half cup to fill the second mason jar, marking the jar each time you add a half cup (that way they can see both parts). Line the jars up next to each other and show your children how they are the same.

When teaching this lesson, keep your vocabulary simple (unless working with older children) and don’t try to over explain or complicate things. It may take a few times before they truly understand the concept, but that is part of the learning process. If you are more of a “follow-a-script” homeschooler, click the button at the bottom of this post to get my lesson plan with exact words to speak and directions on how to complete the lesson easy and quick. Now let’s move to the recipe.

The Recipe

This recipe is from Betty Crocker and has a few different ingredients and tools you’ll need to gather. While collecting everything, let your kids play with the measuring cups (add in a few more like a ¼ cup and ⅓ cup) and let them explore how many of each small cup it takes to fill the big cup.

Some of the ingredients in this recipe will be measured and added only by you, but there are a few ingredients that will use the measuring cups your children learned about today. You can also review counting with other ingredients like the eggs. If you’d like to take it further, you can introduce 1 teaspoon as a whole and ½ teaspoons as parts. These measurements are also present in the recipe and can enrich the fraction lesson. Below I will list the steps for completing the recipe on the left side of a table. On the right side, I will describe how you can further the math lesson with your children.

 

Ingredients

Cookies

Frosting

Tools


Rolling Pin

Cookie Cutters

(Valentines Shaped)


Measuring Cups and Spoons

Hand or Stand Mixer

Mixing Bowls

Cookie Sheets

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, the butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, almond extract, and egg until well blended. Stir in flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  2. Heat oven to 375°F. Divide dough in half. On lightly floured, cloth-covered surface, roll each half of dough 3/16 inch thick. Cut into assorted shapes with cookie cutters, or cut around patterns traced from storybook illustrations. If cookies are to be hung as decorations, make a hole in each 1/4 inch from top with an end of a plastic straw. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat all frosting ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Tint with food color if desired. Frost and decorate cookies as desired with frosting and colored sugars.

Teaching Points

In step one, you will encounter two mixed fractions. To keep it simple, split the ingredient into two groups. You can list the ingredient as 1 cup and a ½ cup.

Demonstrate this by having 1 measuring cup filled with powder sugar and a ½ measuring cup filled with powdered sugar. Set them side by side. Ask your child which cup represents the whole and which represents the part. This will help simplify the lesson to keep it focused on the basic fraction concept of part and whole. However, if working with older children (4th/5th), feel free to talk about mixed fractions in this part of the recipe.

You can reinforce this concept again with the flour. It helps if you have two 1 cup measuring cups, but if not you can explain that you will need to add another whole after adding one whole and one part to the recipe.

To review early elementary concepts such as counting, have your child(ren) count out how many eggs you need (have them read the recipe and look for the number).

You can further enrich basic fractions by showing a whole teaspoon and a half teaspoon. Demonstrate that it is similar to the 1 cup and ½ cup in that a ½ teaspoon is a part and a teaspoon is a whole. See if your children can remember how many parts (½ tsp) fills a whole (1 tsp).

There are many other math concepts you can introduce with baking these cookies, such as time (baking time), measurement (thickness of dough), and more. However, my suggestion to you is to keep it simple. Focus on introducing one concept each time you bake a cookie recipe. You can always review concepts you’ve already taught, but don’t introduce more than one skill in one lesson. It complicates the learning process.

One of the best parts of homeschooling is you can make learning authentic and what better way to introduce basic fractions than with shared memories of baking cookies! Stay tuned for more “Baking with Math” posts coming soon.

Want a more scripted lesson plan to introduce this concept? Do you want a picture recipe to help teach your children how to read ingredients and directions for baking? Download my lesson plan and picture recipe by clicking below!

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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Follow on Facebook

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How have you used baking to introduce math concepts in your homeschool? Have you introduced fractions in another “real-life” way to your children? Share below in the comments!

COMMENTS

A Day in the Life: Morning School Time

A Day in the Life: Morning School Time

A Day in the Life: Morning School Time

Written by Amber Marie | January 29, 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commision if you click through and make a purchase. To read my full disclosure policy click here.

Last week I shared my typical schedule for a homeschool day in our house. Today I’d like to give you a special look at how I run my morning school time. During this block, we complete Handwriting, Calendar, Geography, Classical Conversations (CC) Review, and Read-Aloud/Audio Book. This is what works for our family at the moment (especially with a toddler who has a tendency of sabotaging more focused lessons). So without further ado, let’s take a look at how this morning school time pans out.

Handwriting

After breakfast and devotional time (reading from a children’s bible or catching an episode of Superbook), my oldest will start his handwriting practice. It begins with a name tracing worksheet I acquired from Totschooling. I love this sheet because it gives plenty of practice and you can customize it for your child’s name and needs. Right now my son is more comfortable writing his name using all capital letters. I have him practice his name using both capital and lowercase letters, but I realize until he becomes more comfortable writing lowercase letters, he will continue to write his name freehand using all capital letters.

The second half of handwriting time includes printing letters using my Handwriting Workbook. Currently, we are working on the capital letter edition, but after completion will move to lowercase letters and numbers (coming soon). Depending on the page we’re completing, I may introduce a new letter and the strokes used to create the letter, or we may be completing a review and take a few minutes to go over the strokes for each letter within the review. I like to do the lesson on a whiteboard like this one, as it allows for mistakes to be made and corrected before moving to the practice sheet.

There are many practice sheets online for free, but I found they didn’t have exactly what I was looking for (instruction on how to write the letter, some tracing practice, and some writing practice). That lead me to create the Handwriting Workbook which includes a diagram of how to create each letter along with a line for tracing and a line for writing practice. Check it out at my store if you’re interested in learning more.

Calendar

Calendar time follows handwriting. During this time, my oldest uses a dot-it calendar while we complete this calendar magnet board together. We take time and go through a song for the months of the year while pointing to the designated month in the song. After, we talk about what month we are in right now and talk about the letter it starts with. My oldest will find the correct month (the one that matches what is on his dot-it calendar), then we move to the date. This is where the dot-it calendar really helps. We are able to see the day before, the current day, and the day after so we can review yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It also helps with number recognition and recreation. My son will use his dot-it calendar to find the date and recreate on the magnet calendar board.

Days of the week comes next. We sing a little tune to help remember the days then use the dot-it calendar to help us find which day of the week it is. My son will use the date and drag his finger to the top of the dot-it calendar to find the weekday. Then he will select it from the magnets provided and place it in it’s designated spot. 

My son’s favorite part follows. He rushes to the window to see outside and we discuss what the weather looks like. He loves trying to figure out the difference between “cloudy”, “partly cloudy” and “sunny”. And don’t get me started on how excited he gets when he can select “snowy” or “rainy”. Finally, we end with the season. The great thing about this magnet calendar board is the color of each month matches which season it falls in. It also transitions nicely into explaining patterns and how the earth has many different cycles, including the seasons. These methods are working right now, but I do eventually want to include a daily calendar booklet like this one, to enrich calendar time more.

Geography

Currently, in Geography, we are focusing on learning the continents. We began the year with CC review of the states, but as the states starting piling on, my son would get frustrated. I figure by the time cycle 3 returns, he will be more developmentally ready to handle all fifty states. Our geography time is very simple. My son has a map of the world with the continents and oceans. We sing a song I made up to the tune of “Do You Know the Muffin Man”. The song goes through all seven continents. You can check out my continent video here. Eventually, I will add a verse about the oceans, but for now, we want to get the continents down.

CC Review

As the morning progresses, we work our way over to the tv for some CC review. I like to vary up how I present my lessons throughout the day and my son seems to enjoy the way we review CC work. Youtube has many amazing videos to help with CC review and I find these ones for History to be great! I also created videos for weeks one through twelve of cycle 3 math grammar which can be found here on CC connected (disclaimer: you must be a subscriber of CC connected to access this link. Also, before clicking on the link, make sure you are logged in or you will get an error message).

We follow a block schedule for our review as I mentioned in this post. This approach to review helps take the stress of reviewing every subject every day of every week. I’ve included a table below to help illustrate our current schedule.

For this year, we are focusing just on the four subjects listed above, along with the timeline song. After we complete the blocks above we will repeat. Once CC is over for the year in April, we will transition to weeks thirteen through twenty-four. After practicing a few rounds of those weeks, we’ll spend the summer reviewing all twenty-four weeks of cycle three.

 

Read-Aloud/Audio Book

By this time in the morning, we have reached snack time. While the children eat, I will play an audio story from Stories Podcast or read aloud a book we recently acquired from the library. I have found my oldest (and even the youngest), enjoy spending time listening to stories while they enjoy a snack. There are many apps and podcasts available, but here are some of the ones I use in my homeschool.

This schedule and these activities are what works for our morning school time. As my boys get older, I know I will adapt what we do and how we approach our homeschool day. It took me some time to find what worked for our family, but I stuck with it until I found what gave a nice flow to our morning. I encourage you to try different things for yourselves. Test one schedule out for a week or two and see how you like it. If it works, stick with it, if it doesn’t, try something new. Eventually, you will find what schedule works for your family and what subjects are easiest for you to teach during your morning time.

Amber Marie

Welcome to my homeschooling blog. I’m a former educator turned homeschool mom. Homeschooling is a relatively new adventure for our family. Click my picture to learn more about my story and why I homeschool my family.

Follow Me On

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Spring is such a lovely time to get outside, go for a walk and simply enjoy being outside. It's good for the body, it's good for the mind and it's good for the soul.
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Felt Flowers Quiet Activity

Felt Flowers Quiet Activity

You create them, feel them, you transform them and invent some new species...Hours of fun for little fingers who like to manipulate and have an artistic touch. As a quiet activity or as a fun bounding time with mommy. Felt is one of my favorite material to use for creating educative activities for little ones
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5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

5 Things I Love About Homeschooling vs. Public Schooling (Shared by a Former Teacher)

I get a lot of funny looks when I say I homeschool my son. However, those facial expressions change quickly to surprise when I mention I am a former elementary school teacher. So many people ask me “why I would want to homeschool my kids rather than send them to public school” among other questions. Normally, I give a quick run down of some brief reasons then go on my merry way. But as I sat down to think about it more, I was able to flesh out 5 things I LOVE about homeschooling that I (or my son) would never be able to get in a public school setting.
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The Secret Garden’ BY F. H. Burnett – The Ultimate Homeschoolers Guide To Spring

The Secret Garden’ BY F. H. Burnett – The Ultimate Homeschoolers Guide To Spring

Spring time is a time of new beginnings, healing and growth. From reading the 'The Secret Garden' it is clear to me that F.H. Burnett understood the significant positive value to a child's mental, physical and educational health, when it comes to spending time outdoors with nature. This book is a calling to all parents and educators to let our children loose amongst the miracles of Spring and allow nature to nurture them just like it did for the three little children in this story.
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