Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Can You Combine Classes for Kids in Different Grades?

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No matter how long we've been homeschooling, we are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! This series will try to answers some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another. 

How do you teach the same subject to kids at different grade levels at the same time? Can you group lessons together if your kids are close in age? How do you handle kids that are a few years apart but at a similar academic level?

Yes, it is possible to teach the same subject to kids of different ages and grade levels. In fact, most years in our homeschool I taught History and Science to two or three of my four kids together, and a couple of years I had all four together. In order to make this work, I generally read or summarized from the textbook we were using and tried to generate some discussion. I would ask comprehension questions, and would specify which student should answer. For Science, I always tried to choose courses that involve a lot of simple hands-on activities. These made it easy for all ages to participate and get something out of it. For History, I also looked for hands-on activities that could go along with the lesson. I gave the younger kids coloring pages related to what we were studying, while sometimes I encouraged the older ones to take some notes.

When kids are just a year or two apart in age, it often makes a lot of sense to have them study together. Reading, spelling, and math can sometimes be done together, depending on the abilities and learning styles of the kids, but that doesn't always work out. But in most cases, almost every other subject lends itself to teaching to kids that are close in age.

Homeschool co-op classes are usually designed to have two to four grades combined in a group. Our homeschool co-op combines all middle grades (5th-8th) in classes, and all high schoolers (9th-12th). So when I taught Creative Writing for high school students last year, I had freshmen, sophomores, one junior, and one senior. (If I remember correctly) This coming year I'll be teaching high school Literature and Non-fiction Writing, and although the class sizes will probably be just a little smaller, I'll still have a mix of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. The History, Science, Spanish, and French classes have been the same. And it works well! The class size is still small enough that I can grade each student's writing individually, and my expectations for a freshman in the class are different from my expectations for a senior.

Homeschool Highlights - The Week With College Plans on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
In our co-op, freshmen through seniors studied creative writing together and did great!

When kids are several years apart, but at a similar academic level, that usually indicates one of them has a learning difficulty or delay, or one is particularly gifted or advanced. I think these situations need to be treated with a bit more sensitivity to avoid hard feelings, but teaching at home is probably a better situation for avoiding that. Grade levels are more fluid in homeschooling and it's much more workable to have a student doing mostly seventh grade work even though they are struggling with discalculia and still in the fourth grade math workbook. Or be a high school freshmen who is gifted in math and able to work on trigonometry. It's also generally less of a social issue at home, even though siblings are certainly capable of teasing and belittling each other too. Then again, a parent will generally be on hand to put a stop to anything that crosses a line. From what I've seen in homeschool group situations, like co-ops, little attention is paid by the students to the fact that a classmate may be above or below the "grade level" that would match their age.

So the short answer is Yes! It's possible, and very often it's beneficial to combine classes for kids in different grades!

Do you combine classes? How do you do it? Leave a comment and let me know what works for you - or leave a homeschool question you're curious about.


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 ©2006-2019 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

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Friday, July 12, 2019

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog and our homeschool - thank you!

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Welcome to Homeschool Highlights! 
This weekly link-up is your opportunity to share some highlights of what is happening in your homeschool and in your world each week. If you write a wrap-up post at the end of each week, like I've been doing, we'd love to see what you're busy with from week to week. If you'd like to pick a favorite post from your week that spotlights a resource or activity in your homeschool that you'd like to tell others about, we're interested in those too. I'm keeping the guidelines as simple as I can, and they will appear at the bottom of each post, along with the link tool. I look forward to getting to know you, and I hope this will be a source of encouragement and good ideas for all of us.

Grab a cup of coffee and let's get started!

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Thanks to the holiday last week, last weekend felt a bit like a bonus! We did work on Friday, but in the evening, the hubster and I took in some more fireworks at one of the local fireman's carnivals.

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

We had a rather relaxed start to our Saturday, but in the afternoon we attended the wedding of one of Kennady's very good friends. The mom is one of my good friends. The wedding was outdoors and thankfully the rain held off until the ceremony and photos were done and we were all under the tent enjoying the reception! It was a beautiful wedding!

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Happy bridal couple with the bride's family


Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
A friend was nice enough to take a picture of the three of us!
Sunday was much as usual, except that there was no hockey, so we had a little extra free time. The kids decided they wanted to go mini golfing so we did that as a whole family, auxiliary kids and all. Most of us are atrocious at mini-golf, by the way! Another beautiful day that included this beautiful rainbow spotted low over the driving range. We also placed the painted rock we brought back from Brantford, Ontario.

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

After such a relaxed weekend that felt like vacation, we had a lot of work and school to accomplish during the week. Kennady started her online college class on Monday and has been finding her way around the online class set-up quite easily. There was some concern about whether she would miss deadlines while away at camp next week, but she has been able to work ahead some and did communicate with the instructor so that she won't be penalized if she doesn't get the writing assignment submitted until after next weekend.

We got her set up with her "grown-up" bank account this week, and she had opportunities to drive around on her own to see friends and run errands. She also got registered for her music ensemble and studio guitar class at the college, so I think she is finally mostly ready to get started as a full time student!

On our way home from the college yesterday, we stopped to do a little shopping, and wound up getting drenched as we gave up waiting for this storm to blow over. And crazy as it sounds, even though it's above 90 degrees, I was chilled the whole rest of the day.

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Reader Favorites . . . some of the most read posts here on Homeschool Coffee Break over the past couple months or so - thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing!



On my blogs last week . . .


Just A Second is where I share book reviews and other book-related things, and update on what's on my bookshelf. This week I finished and reviewed A Caribbean Mystery: A Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie and The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio, and I've been reading:

A parting shot . . . One of our stops on Thursday was the Goodwill. We found these shoes and had so many questions!! And honestly, I'm just a bit disappointed that we opted not to purchase.

Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Homeschool Highlights - The Week We Powered Through on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


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Homeschool Highlights guidelines:
  • Your blog should be family-friendly content, and your post should include something about homeschooling. If I don't see homeschooling in it, I might have to delete the link, and I feel bad when I need to do that. 
  • Please link directly to your post, not your blog's homepage.
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©2006-2019 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Virtual Refrigerator - Pineapples (From the Art Archives)

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog and our homeschool - thank you!

Pineapples - From the Art Archives on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted at Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Here's the most recent art, and a look back at this week's Virtual Fridge posts from past years.

A few weeks ago the Virtual Fridge featured this bridal shower gift for Kennady's friend. I'm showing it again this week because the wedding was on Saturday, so D and H are married and together now, and starting their new life!

together forever by Kat, June 2019

I went to the archives to see what kinds of art projects we had in early July of previous years, and noticed a bit of a theme . . .

PIneapple on the Virtual Refrigerator  - share your art posts on our Virtual Refrigerator - an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Bonjour by Kat, July 2018

Pineapple Throne on the Virtual Refrigerator  - share your art posts on our Virtual Refrigerator - an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Pineapple Throne by Kat, May 2018
Doodling Again on the Virtual Refrigerator, an art link-up hosted by Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Pineapple Doodle by Kat, July 2016
The Pineapple Throne was done in May but shared on the Fridge in late June that year, which is why it's included here. Do your kids have an element they tend to include in their artwork over and over?



Please say hello to the new co-hosts of the Virtual Refrigerator: Jennifer at A "Peace" of Mind and Kristin at A Mom's Quest to TeachI'm looking forward to seeing what they'll do with the Virtual Fridge! Our current link-up is open through the end of July, with anchor posts appearing on Thursdays.

Welcome to the Virtual Refrigerator art link-up! Join us and share the artwork created in your homeschool. We cordially invite you to add your link and then hop over to the other blogs and admire what's on their Fridges too! The Virtual Fridge link-up is open all month.
Virtual Refrigerator posts on Homeschool Coffee Break

Now it's your turn! Join us by sharing your art posts here on the Virtual Fridge!

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Click here to enter


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©2006-2019 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Heart Changer (A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review)


The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

I love a good story, don't you? A good story told well will keep my attention, even when it's written for a younger audience, and that's the case with this book that I'm reviewing. The Heart Changer is a debut novel from Jarm Del Boccio, Author.

The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Jarm (pronounced like 'Yarm') Del Boccio is one of the talented teachers at SchoolhouseTeachers.com and has a background in elementary and high school education. She was also a school librarian. Jarm has done a lot of traveling throughout her life and finds inspiration in the places she visits. As a writer with a passion for the Bible and for history, she "is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history."


The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The Heart Changer is Del Boccio's debut novel, a book geared for middle grade kids. The setting is the Old Testament time period, during the time of the prophet Elisha. The main character is Miriam, a twelve-year-old girl from the village of Shunem in Israel. Miriam is captured by the invading army and is given as a slave to the wife of a Syrian commander named Naaman. Miriam experiences fear, grief, and despair, but also finds unexpected kindness and grace as she learns what it means to trust in her God and to obey.


The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

If you're familiar with the Bible story, you'll recognize the name of the master, Naaman. The Old Testament book of II Kings tells us that Naaman had leprosy, and came to the Jewish prophet Elisha asking for a cure. It says that a young Israeli girl who was servant to Naaman's wife suggested that he go to Samaria to see the prophet. All we know about this girl was that she had been captured by raiders from Aram. Jarm Del Boccio took these few details, did some research, added some imagination, and crafted a fine story for tweens and young teens that focuses on this servant girl.

I found that the details are quite faithful to the original story, with a little liberty taken in how Elisha's instructions are delivered to Naaman, and Del Boccio has his wife persuade him to follow those instructions, while my Bible translation says it was his servants that convinced him. In any case - spoiler alert! - Naaman is cured when he obeys the prophet of the Lord, and so we see that a young servant girl had a great influence. And perhaps that little girl did indeed find peace and purpose in her situation as a captive far from home, just as this fictionalized account indicates.

The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

For those who would like to use the story as part of an Old Testament Bible study, character training, or history study, Del Boccio has provided a free Teacher's Guide at the publisher's website. This 12-page pdf includes some background and a little interview with the author, some of the author's insights on the character Miriam, and some discussion questions and activities based on the book. There is also some background on the Biblical background and setting. You'll also find some ideas for a Bible study or devotion, and a couple of Syrian recipes to try!

The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com



The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


What I liked best:
  • easy to read story geared especially to middle grade girls. It's simple and short, and although it opens with a raid on Miriam's village and deals with her captivity as a slave, there is nothing graphic, and nothing that would be particularly disturbing to most young readers. 
  • it's faithful to the Bible story.
  • the encouraging theme - a young slave girl made a positive impact because she tried to do what was right and kind, and was obedient to her God.
  • at just 111 pages, divided into 25 chapters, this book will not overwhelm reluctant readers!
What I need to mention:
  • If you would like to download and use the Teacher's Guide, it is not completely clear that it is a clickable download link on the publisher's website. It's simply a white background graphic with the text "The Heart Changer Teacher's Guide" just above the author's bio picture. It's so easy to miss! I'd recommend the publisher add a "click here" or other instruction to make it clear.
  • I was surprised and a bit disappointed to find a few minor grammatical and punctuation errors. Very minor - for example, a word usage mistake like "hoard" instead of "horde"; misplaced commas; and some awkward sentences - but I mention them because they were so unexpected. None of these little things took away from the readability of the story, but just gave me a bit of a pause.
Our bottom line: If you're looking for a good story for your middle grader, particularly for a girl, this little chapter book delivers a heart-warming story about having a heart willing to trust, obey, and forgive. 

The Heart Changer - A Homeschool Coffee Break Book Review on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

Would you like to read The Heart Changer for yourself? Here's what you need to know:

Visit the publisher's website:  Ambassador-International.com (this link is where you'll find the Teacher's Guide as well)

Visit the author's website: JarmDelBoccio.com
Pricing: The 116-page softcover book is available for $12.99. A digital version is also available - see the website for pricing and formats.

Age recommendations: Best for middle grade students

You can follow Jarm Del Boccio on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews.



 ©2006-2019 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

I have done my best to provide accurate pricing and links at the time this post originally appeared. Please be aware that these may change.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

What Assignments Do You Give for Literature?

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog and our homeschool - thank you!

No matter how long we've been homeschooling, we are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! This series will try to answers some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another. 

What assignments do you give for literature? Book reports? Literary analysis?

There are some fantastic curriculum packages for studying literature, especially for middle and high school grades. Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide from Writing With Sharon Watson, literature units from Progeny PressLightning Literature series from Hewitt Homeschooling, and Moving Beyond the Page are just a few that come to mind. But what if you don't want to do a whole course for literature? Can literature study be included as part of a general English course or as an accompaniment to a History course? Can you just choose some great books for your student to read and call that Literature, and if so, what kind of assignments or documentation would you use?

So many questions about literature! And I've found that for every homeschooled student that is an avid reader of classic literature, there are at least two that are not. Homeschool moms that love to read and those that don't generally agree that a working knowledge of good literature is important, and usually some study of literature is required for high school graduation.

It is possible to do literature study without buying a full year's worth of literature curriculum, and there are a number of ways to do that. As with most subjects, you can customize your study to your student's needs, interests, and ability. For students that don't like to read, or don't read well, or have little interest in literature, it's probably better to take a low-key approach to covering it. For example, choose a few important novels and a selection of poetry and essays that are relatively straightforward and relate to history or to something else the student is more interested in. We've used Exploring World History and Exploring America (both from Notgrass) because these courses combine History, Bible, and Literature. The literature portion as given is worth a full credit, but if time or interest is limited, you can do what we did - reduced the number of novels and awarded a half credit. The number of literature-related assignments can also be adjusted. I particularly like the Notgrass approach of reading the novel primarily for the value of the story rather than analyzing in detail.

So what kind of assignments? Students should understand some basics about character development, conflict, and themes in literature. So even though a full and detailed literature course isn't necessary, it's worth taking a look at an introductory course or a unit study that helps teach these literature basics. Browse the Language Arts section of SchoolhouseTeachers.com for lots of options! Exploring Literature (for 8th-10th grade) is just one of the many literature courses for all grade levels offered.



In elementary and middle grades, students can be doing book reports to summarize stories they've read. At some point during high school, they should be learning how to write a literary analysis, which is basically an essay exploring the themes or characters in a novel. Here's where a literature course will really come in handy! Just knowing what to write about, and how to organize this kind of essay will be a huge help. Most colleges will expect students to be able to write about literature and offer this type of basic course during the first year. 

So to answer the questions posed at the beginning: Assign book reports to younger students, and at least a couple of literary analysis essays to high school students. Discussion, comprehension questions, or simple essays about specifics in literature are also good assignments. You don't necessarily need a full and detailed literature curriculum each year of high school, but college bound students should be familiar with some classics and some basic literary terminology. 

See my related post:

Lots of Literature (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

Lots of Literature (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

And our reviews of some of the Literature curriculum mentioned in this post:

Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide (high school) 
Lightning Lit American Mid-Late 19th Century (high school)
Lightning Lit Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets (high school)
Progeny Press - The Scarlet Pimpernel (high school)

Moving Beyond the Page (middle school)
Progeny Press - The Cay (middle school)
Progeny Press - Treasure Island (middle school)


How do you cover literature in your homeschool? Leave a comment and let me know what works for you - or leave a homeschool question you're curious about.

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 ©2006-2019 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.