Book Review & Activities: "I Am a Home Schooler" by Julie Voetberg
The Joy of Home Schooling
I Am a Home Schooler is narrated by nine-year old Teigen. She tells what it is like to be home schooled by her parents. It is an excellent book to share with your child. There is an immediate connection that this family does many of the things that your family does. Teigen describes her daily routine of studying and schoolwork in the mornings, and helping out on the farm and with the younger members of her family in the afternoon.
She recounts days when things go wrong and the schedule is changed, e.g. when her sister fell off her bed and the whole family needed to accompany her to the emergency room, - all schoolwork was cancelled that day!
Teigen emphasizes that plans can always be changed to further explore interesting things. For instance when the family was on a nature walk they found dried owl pellets. This resulted in investigations using the library, watching a science video and discovering what the owl ate for dinner.
The book also details how home schooled children can meet and interact with other students, take part in field trips, play on sports teams and join after-school gymnastics or skating sessions.
Teigen studies art and piano in addition to her schoolwork. She does sometimes wonder what it would be like to attend traditional school, but is quick to point out that she likes to learn at home, and does not have to be concerned about a school bell interrupting an activity in which she is engaged.
Families choose to home school for many reasons and there is an interesting notation at the end of the book that gives an overview of the home schooling process.
Throughout the book there are hand-tinted photographs by Tasha Owen which portray a family that is very comfortable with its chosen style of schooling for the children.
Activities That Are Full of Beans
Home schooling creates opportunities to investigate in greater detail various inquiries. Teigen tells that she has experimented with seeds.Begin your own seed activity by sharing a book such as The Seed by Barbara Vokes or A Seed is a Promise by Claire Merrill.
Obtain a number of white pea beans.
Plant several beans in a number of containers. Vary the light, water and temperature conditions of the plants e.g. place one container in the refrigerator. Keep a record of each plant's growth.
Place two bowls on the table and fill one of the bowls with water. Count the same number of beans into two piles. Weigh each of the piles on a kitchen scale and make a note.Put one pile of beans into the empty bowl and one pile into the bowl of water. Leave overnight. The next day, examine the beans in each bowl. Compare the weight of each pile of beans.
Measure each plant as it grows and keep a diary.
Take a handful of beans and estimate how many. Then count. Repeat several times.
Share books or poems that have a bean theme e.g. Jack and the Beanstalk.
Make a musical instrument. Place dry beans on a small paper plate. Add another paper plate on top and staple together. Shake to make a rhythmic sound to accompany a song. Make up a bean song to sing with the shaker.
Teigen mentions "We bake, and that helps me with my fractions, because I have to do a lot of measuring and adding." Discuss foods that contain beans (soups, stews, burritos). Choose a recipe and make a bean dish for dinner.
Reporting Material Changes
Teigen is learning about writing reports. She must find information and put it together "so that it makes sense"
Let us look at an investigation and a report that results from it.
Can something be changed by heating or cooling?
Place ice cubes in a bowl of hot water. Record how the ice cubes look before and after. How long did it take for the change? Repeat the experiment with a small bar of chocolate in a container placed in a container of hot water.
Set up a report: Title: Prediction: Process: Result: Conclusion.
Was Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Schooled ?
Teigen is reading about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Visit a bookstore or the local library and obtain any of The Little House in the Big Woods series of books. Share the stories and discuss how the family was home schooled. What important things did they learn? Is it a good example of home schooling?
Happy Learning on Vacation
Teigen's family went to Yellowstone Park for their vacation. Think back to a place that you have visited. What did you see? How was it different from your home town? Make a post card. On one side draw a picture of something that was typical of the area. On the other side, write to a friend and tell them about your favorite part of the holiday, and what you learned about the places visited.
Home Schooling Rocks!
After reading I Am a Home Schooler families who choose this way of life will concur with Julie Voetberg's narrator that they are happy to be home schoolers.