Geography For The Home Educated Child - Countries and Continents Part 1

Geography is one of the subjects that does not get full attention around here. Of course it doesn't help that after buying and using countless curriculum and books, I discarded them because they were not a good fit for us, I always ended up making my own lessons and later wished I would have saved my hastily scribbled notes for the next child.

This time, I decided to write them down in a unit study form and share the first lesson  with everyone.

 The unit study is written for early elementary ages, grades 1-4. Of course you know your child better than anyone and would know if  the unit would be a good fit for him.

Here is the disclaimer: I am not a professional writer and find it way easier to teach than write. Please bear that in mind before you judge my work. The units were written with my children in mind and how they learn and what I feel they should be learning. Obviously it is not going to be perfect for everyone. And it does not include the many, many topics of geography. I only included what I felt my younger children needed to know at this point in their lives. Also, I wrote most of this in the middle of the night and even though I edited it numerous times, I'm sure there are plenty of small mistakes that slipped in.  

  The first lesson includes e a couple fun craft projects. A pumpkin globe and an earth mobile. The instructions on how to make a pumpkin globe and the earth mobile are included in the lesson, along with the templates. However, if you just want to do something fun with your kids, here are the instructions and the separate templates for each.





Materials needed:
- printed continents stencils (stencil 1, stencil2 ), cut out stencils
- pumpkin (8-12 inch tall)
- paintbrushes
- blue & green acrylic paint
- Sharpie markers
Wash pumpkin with soap, dry it well. Paint pumpkin blue, allow to dry.

With a pencil, draw the Equator, then using the stencils, draw each continent. Antarctica is missing,because it would be placed on the bottom and would not be seen at all. Make sure to explain this to your child. Older children might want to try to draw freehand, using a globe for reference. Paint continents green.
Allow to dry. With a Sharpie marker, label continents and oceans and go over the Equator again.


Materials needed:
- printed stencil 1, stencil 2 (click for the stencils)
- cardboard (cereal box)
- white craft glue
- sand
- paintbrushes
- blue paint
- string or ribbon
Cut out earth circles, trace one of the circles on cardboard. Cut it out.

Paint the areas of water blue. Allow it to dry. Paint glue on the continents and sprinkle sand on it. Allow glue to dry. Glue the two continent circles to the cardboard, so the cardboard is sandwiched between them. Punch a hole in the top and thread ribbon or string through.

DIY Homeschool Is Awesome Lego Shirts

(UPDATE: Made some new stencils with hair and this time the stencil allows for easy customization. Posted it HERE)

 Homeschool is awesome! No question about it! Yes, it can be challenging sometimes, but overall is the greatest and most rewarding experience we ever had. To make sure the whole world (or at least the people we run into when we are out and about) is aware how awesome homeschool is, we made some Lego Movie inspired T-shirts with a few friends.

 The kids got really creative when it came to colors and later even drew in facial details with a Sharpie marker. I have to warn you, cutting the stencils takes time. I made 7 and it took me about 2 hours, which included trying to print a few right onto the freezer paper. It worked for the first couple times, then my printer decided to eat the freezer paper, no matter how many times I tried. And kids will need help.

First of all, you will need the stencils . Download the LEGO stencil HERE and HOMESCHOOL IS AWESOME stencil HERE.


  • t-shirts, washed and ironed
  • freezer paper
  • embroidery scissors and exacto knife
  • cutting mat
  • tape
  • iron (no steam, cotton setting)
  • acrylic paint in desired colors
  • cut up sponge, q-tips
  • cardboard (cereal boxes)
  • strips of cardboard
  • Sharpie marker  (warning: Sharpie marker on paint will fade in the wash.)
Print stencils, place on top of a 8.5 x 11 in piece freezer paper (shiny side down, paper side facing up), tape to a cutting mat and using an exacto knife, cut it out. To get perfectly straight lines, use a rules to help with the cutting.
When it came to the letters, it was too tedious to use an exacto knife. I simply cut slits, then used emboidery scissors to cut out the letters.

Place the stencils shiny side down on the shirts and iron it on.

Paint by dabbing the sponge on the shirt.
If using one color only, just paint away. However, if you want to make the different parts different colors, use some cardboard to cover up areas you don't want to paint over with a new color.

The best part was pealing off the freezer paper after the paint dried to see how they turned out.

Surviving The Hard Days of Homeschooling

While sitting on the couch trying to listen to my 8 year read his science lesson aloud to me, my 1 and 5 year old were loudly fighting over a book, in the meantime my 12 year came to complain to me about how he did not like his new curriculum just after the first lesson and my 15 year kept interrupting with questions about what I had going that day.  

On another day, I had to deal with a child throwing up while another smeared yogurt all over the table, chair and her own hair, then while trying to teach I had a screaming toddler bent on destroying our art cards, more interruption by older kids who supposedly know they should not be interrupting while I'm in the middle of a lesson and more complaints about school books.

 Homeschooling is hard. Being a stay at home mom is hard, add homeschooling into the mix and you will have grey hair even faster. 

But somehow, as we push through the periods of frustration, complaining, fighting, time outs and shear madness, there are beautiful moments of sharing, caring, listening and learning. And making mud pies to throw at the fence.

I wish I had a formula to deal with all the different challenges that come up continually. I did learn a few small but meaningful lessons that help me get through the hard minutes, hours, days weeks or even months. Because challenges can last months. The birth of a new baby, a child who is struggling with learning or simple stubborn, rebelious behavior (or all of the previous at once) can make a veteran homeschooling mom question her decision to homeschool.

  • Make a commitment. I always commit to homeschool the full school year. It may be tempting to put the kids in public school when times are hard, but it is a decision that should not be rushed. I also found that time has a way of taking care of things. Things always change, it just takes time.
  • Take a break. Sometimes we all need a break from our regular routine. My relationship with my children is more important than math facts or grammar. I have done spontaneous trips to the park, or simply declared school dismissed and put a movie on while I read a book on the couch. Sometimes doing a unit study for a few weeks does the trick. 
  • Take care of yourself. If I don't eat breakfast or get enough sleep, I am not a pleasant person to be around. And my bad mood tends to rub off on my family. I try to be mindful of this. And I keep chocolate for emergencies. 
  • Laugh. This is hard. When you are in the middle of an emotionally charged day, it is hard to laugh it off. But when I do, it eases the tension and my kids learn that it is OK to laugh when things are rough. It changes the mood right away and we usually find ways to solve the challenges instead of just facing them. 
  • Ask for help. I don't like to ask for help, but when I finally let go of my pride and do ask, I always learn something valuable from others. And sometimes it is just nice to have someone understand exactly what you are going through and offer comforting words. Or make you dinner when you have no more energy to give.
  • Do the basics. There have been times when that's all I could handle. Just a few subjects, the basics. Math, reading and writing. And that's OK. I have learned not to feel guilty if we only do a little bit of schooling for short periods of time. The kids still learn and sometimes life lessons are more important than algebra.  
In hindsight, no matter how hard life got, spending time together learning, and navigating through challenging periods together has always been worth it.