Make-It-Yourself Scratch Board

1d16a0a28745d1a0d94a7cd4673b3381cOn the coldest days of the winter season, when inclement weather keeps us inside, it’s necessary to find more indoor activities that encourage self-expression. One of my favorite artistic projects during this time of year is to make a scratch board.


1Scratchboard2-by-Fred-MarinInstead of creating a picture with pen and ink (or with crayons and colored pencils) on white paper, you can create a scratch board by making white lines on black paper. Scratch boards are heavy sheets of paper covered with two coats of paint: first a solid white layer, then on top of that, a solid black. You scratch into the black with a sharp point and “draw” crisp white lines into the black background. Your scratch board drawing is a reverse of your usual drawings, and it’s great fun!




White drawing paper

India Ink

A bit of soap


A scratching tool, such as a bent paper clip or a nail


1. Color a thick layer of white crayon all over your drawing paper.

2. Brush a coat of India ink over the crayon. A bit of soap added to the paintbrush helps the ink stick to the waxy crayon. Cover the crayon completely with a solid layer of black.

3. Let the ink dry overnight.

4. Scratch a drawing into the black ink. The crayon below the black shows through.


If you wish to make a rainbow scratch board, color with many different crayons in a bright rainbow pattern before inking your scratchboard. Your scratch art will be multicolored!


Enrolled or Independent?

Enrolled or independent? Many families who are interested in using Oak Meadow curriculum wonder whether their family’s needs would best be met through using our materials independently or enrolling in our distance learning program. This is one of the most common questions parents ask us as they seek to find the right homeschooling fit. We are happy to help you figure it out!

For some families, Oak Meadow enrollment is a bargain compared to local or distant alternative and private school options. For others, the cost of enrollment is out of reach, even with our tuition payment plan. For unenrolled students, our curriculum for each grade level can be purchased as a whole package or as separate books and used independently. Each of these options brings benefits and advantages to meet a diverse range of needs.


Some families appreciate the simple and consistent structure that enrollment provides. Enrolled students must submit completed work in all subjects according to a predetermined schedule. Within this schedule, there is room for a measured amount of flexibility, but families are expected to follow the general schedule and communicate promptly with their teacher if circumstances warrant an exception. This ensures that student work is completed and teacher feedback is consistently provided throughout the school year.

Wallach family 3
Image thanks to the Wallach family

Enrolled students have an ongoing relationship with an Oak Meadow teacher in addition to their home teacher (who is usually but not always their parent). Some parents find it very reassuring to have the support of an educational professional who can help guide their child’s progress through the year.

Sometimes a relationship of accountability with an Oak Meadow teacher can be the critical factor in helping a homeschooling family stay on track with their learning. Enrolled students, particularly in the younger grades, often work with the same teacher over the course of several years. This relationship can be motivating and inspiring for students as they develop skills over time. Teachers may be able to easily recommend supplements or other helpful resources to support the student’s learning. Some students respond better to feedback from someone other than a parent.

Oak Meadow is an accredited, private distance-learning school, and as such, enrollment alone may satisfy your state’s school registration requirements and bypass the need to register as a homeschooler. In some states, this may greatly simplify your legal obligation. It may even make homeschooling possible where it might not otherwise be allowed. In some states, funds or vouchers may be available to help families purchase approved curriculum.

Image thanks to Lindsey Hemphill

As an accredited school, students enrolled in Oak Meadow high school earn official school credit toward graduation. Enrolled students who complete a full course of accredited study receive a high school diploma from Oak Meadow School. Enrolled high school students receive an official transcript and free college counseling.

Because homeschooling requirements vary so much from region to region, we recommend consulting your local Department of Education, your school district, or the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to be fully informed about local laws and regulations relating to homeschooling in your area.


Some families need or want more flexibility than enrollment allows. Families who use Oak Meadow curriculum independently can fashion their own schedule and timetable for learning. Some independent families organize their learning in blocks, focusing on only one subject for weeks at a time before switching gears. Others pick and choose, using Oak Meadow curriculum alongside other materials to meet their children’s unique learning needs.

Oldenburg family
Image thanks to the Oldenburg family

Using Oak Meadow curriculum independently allows families to homeschool in their own way and on their own terms. Some parents team up and work together using the curriculum independently in a co-op arrangement, where multiple families help each other meet common goals within an agreed-upon schedule. Other families use a focused at-home approach to academics. Oak Meadow curriculum is designed to be adaptable to a wide variety of homeschooling situations.

For those who are using our curriculum on their own but occasionally need some guidance, our Homeschool Support service lets parents consult with an experienced teacher to help keeping things going smoothly.

Every family is different; you are the best expert on your own children and their unique needs. Enrollment will be the perfect fit for some students and parents, and independent use of the curriculum will work best for others.

For more information about enrollment vs. independent Oak Meadow learning, contact our educational counselors at the office (802-251-7250 or contact us via our website). Enrolled or independent, every homeschooling parent has their child’s best interests at heart, and we are happy to help you sort out which option is best for you and your child.

I'm Bored!

When I was young, I quickly learned that announcing I was bored brought on the intense displeasure of my mother. My brother, sister, and I didn’t say it very often because of that. Mom would say, “Only a boring person is bored! Go find something constructive to do!” Not very helpful when we couldn’t think of anything to do! Inevitably she would speak a list of things we could do, knowing full well we didn’t want to do any of them. “Go fold the laundry, and there are toys to pick up in the living room, and while you are at it, you could change the beds.” We would immediately run out of the house and go find something to do. Going outside was just the answer for my boredom! I never got tired of skipping rope, riding my unicycle, playing marbles with my brother, swinging on the swings, climbing trees, or the zillion of other things I could think of to do outside. Inside we played endless games of Scrabble, Sorry! and Monopoly. I also got really good at Jacks! I loved to doodle with colored pencils, and I liked to sit and read. I wasn’t an early reader. I remember not knowing how to read in second grade. We had just moved to a new state and I hid my lack of reading skills by pretending to be shy. So, when I actually learned how to read, I was really ready for a good book!

Reading a recent article in the newspaper about being bored really got me thinking. It stated that today’s many technological advances and devices don’t allow us to be bored. What if I had never been bored? What if I could have turned to my phone, the internet, video games, TV, or Netflix? Would I have developed the skills I have now? Would I love the outdoors and always be able to find things to do outside? Would I enjoy playing board games with my sister and brother and later with my own children? Would I have learned to enjoy reading? Would my art projects bring me joy?

I’ve recently read some studies about boredom. In each one researchers found that allowing oneself to be bored may increase a person’s creativity. I think my mom was right. Being bored–and finding ways to alleviate that boredom on my own–helped me become a more creative person. A creative person takes on boredom and turns it into something to do!

If you find your family turning on a device when boredom hovers, check out the list of ideas for screen-free fun in this great article, first published in Oak Meadow’s Living Education and later in Peggy O’Mara’s blog. It’s written by Deb Velto, mom, teacher, and Oak Meadow’s K-8 Program Director. I love her last sentence!




Animals in Love!

Oak Meadow’s science curriculum in grades k-4 offer blocks of animal study. Did you know that some animals have a natural and innate ability to share love with each other? As we find ourselves nearing the special holiday of love, Valentine’s Day, here are some fun facts about animals in LOVE!

What animals kiss? Snails do. So do many fish. One fish, known as the “kissing gourami”, has been observed kissing for as long as 25 minutes! Manatees hug one another and kiss, too.

What animal brings gifts to his sweetheart? Male spiders offer the female delicacies, such as a fly wrapped in a web. This is done for self-preservation in that the present keeps the female’s attention long enough to give the male time to get away before the female tries to eat him.

How to elephants show affection? They wrap their trunks around each other and swish their tails back and forth.

How to elephants fend off unwanted romantic advances? WIth a slap of the trunk.

What is the most family-oriented animal? The wolf. Wolves usually mate for life, and they even make a point of controlling their population! Generally, a “pack” of wolves consists of a father, mother and their offspring. Only two in each pack mate, but older brothers and sisters all help raise the newborn.

Which animal is best at playing hard to get? The lady porcupine who, if not interseted, will threaten the male by raising her quills!

Which are the least romantic animals? Zebras, wild horses and the male orangutan (who is a real brute).

Which animals are most romantic? Gorillas, elephants and lions all show affection and are very tender lovers to their mates.

If you are interested in some concrete evidence of animals sharing affection, I think you will love viewing the BuzzFeed Community’s selection of “40 Photos of Animals in Love“.

Also, if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to read last year’s Heart of the Meadow blog post on “Personal Visions for Valentine’s Day“, I encourage you to take a moment to read and reflect on the special love that you share with your children and all those you love.


February 2nd is Groundhog Day!

Today is the traditional Groundhog Day that arrives every year on February 2nd. It began as a European tradition that was brought to the United States in the 1880’s. It has been celebrated every year since then! How is the weather in your area today? It is sunny or cloudy? Will spring come early or late? Now, let’s do some Monday Magic Math with a calendar. Whether we have six more weeks of winter or six more weeks until spring, what month of the year and what day of the week is spring predicted to arrive?

12359728519_763ca15a4c_zIn Oak Meadow’s second grade course book, science lesson 13 (with the focus on animal characteristics) suggests making a card game to teach children about familiar animals. On one side of the card, the student writes a question about a particular animal’s character qualities. The name of the animal is written and illustrated on the other side of the card. Since the groundhog is not included in the science lesson’s list of animals, you could add a new card for the groundhog with questions, such as: What animal is also known as the land-beaver, marmot, whistle-pig or woodchuck? or What mammal hibernates in the winter and is famously known as the prognosticator or weather forecaster? 

1Groundhog-Predicts-Six-More-Weeks-of-Winter-it-Shall-BeTo learn more about the history of this furry rodent, CBS news offers a wealth of information in the article, Groundhog Day Tradition Casts a Shadow Back to Medieval Europe. It includes a “Groundhog Day Expert” quiz and a “Fun Facts Interactive”. Canadians also celebrate Groundhog Day with their special furry friend, named Wiarton Willie. I discovered a delightful National Geographic Kids production video on Kids Love Groundhog Day that you and your family might enjoy.

Happy Groundhog Day!