Morse Code

It is so easy to send a text message these days by way of cell phones or the internet, that it is hard to imagine that at one time there was no way to communicate with other people a distance away unless you used the postal mail. When Samuel Morse invented a way to send messages that were a code of electrical impulses, our lives changed forever! Those dots and dashes could be sent and translated over a distance making it possible to send emergency messages to places throughout the country. Many of you are studying, or will be studying, about magnetism and electricity in the 8th grade physics course. I found this fun website that translates a sentence that you write into Morse Code. You can then click “play” and hear the dots and dashes of the message. Send something to a friend! Here’s the Morse Code Translator.

Magic Moon

moon over water

The Moon
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

In the first and second grades, the Oak Meadow curriculum suggests creating a monthly calendar to observe and understand the rhythmical monthly cycles of the moon. In third grade, the syllabus explores the moon cycle and its effect upon the plants and animals. The fourth grade astronomy block offers a more extensive study of the moon, including a focus on lunar eclipses.


bloodredmoon03Next week, a total lunar eclipse will occur in the late evening of April 14th and in the early morning hours of April 15th .  It is known as the blood moon eclipse and will be visible across North America. This blood moon tetrad will reoccur three more times at intervals of six months. The video clip by NASA explains this special event in further detail. Here is another video clip from “The Weather Channel” to further whet your appetite! 


Many poets have written inspirational poems about the moon. The famous Robert Louis Stevenson bookStevenson poem, “The Moon”, has even been put into a lovely book format, whimsically illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson.





The following poem was written by Olivia Freitas. Perhaps it would be a good one for your children to learn and recite in preparation for viewing this upcoming, extraordinary phenomenon of the magic moon.


the moon the moon
shining brightly in a pool of water
the moon the moon
glistening so brightly on the ground
the moon the moon
like a white shining marble floating in the sky
the moon the moon
what would we do without the moon


Yes, You Can!

Sometimes the hardest part of getting started with homeschooling is believing that you can do it. I’m here to tell you that yes, you can homeschool!

Photo credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird.
Photo credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird.

There are many reasons that lead families to consider homeschooling. Often it comes up when a child’s school is not a good match for their needs. Sometimes it’s driven by a parent’s desire to guide their child’s learning in the context of their own values. Sometimes children need a more flexible schedule in order to pursue athletic or artistic training, and sometimes parents simply can’t imagine missing out on the excitement of educational discovery.

How do you know for sure if homeschooling is the right fit for you and your child? The decision to homeschool is a big one, and it is normal to have feelings of uncertainty before taking such a big leap.


Always remember that you are the #1 expert on your child. This means you have insights that classroom teachers do not have. You know your child’s learning style and can give him or her more targeted attention and personal support than even the best classroom teacher ever could, even if you have other responsibilities or children at home. Your intuition and your knowledge of your child are two of your most powerful assets as a homeschooling parent. None of us have all of the answers up front, but you can trust your heart to be a reliable tool for figuring it out as you go.


Parents with a wide range of educational levels and experiences can successfully homeschool. You do not have to be an experienced teacher to be able to homeschool your child! You also do not have to have an advanced education of any kind. One of the joys of homeschooling is learning new things alongside your child. Some common questions about homeschooling are addressed on the Oak Meadow website and here in this blog.

Photo credit: Asian Art Museum. 
Photo credit: Asian Art Museum.

If you find the word “teacher” feels uncomfortable, try thinking of yourself as your child’s educational facilitator. You don’t have to teach everything yourself; you can draw from many resources and engage other adults to help your child learn. There are many ways to support your child’s learning experience without doing it all yourself. Local enrichment classes, homeschool co-ops, library programs, wilderness days, volunteer positions, distance-learning programs, tutoring, hobby clubs, one-on-one mentoring…the possibilities are many. Be creative in your approach, and trust in your ability to coordinate the pieces that make up the whole.


A new adventure can feel easier when others who have gone before can share what they have learned. There are successful homeschoolers all over the country and all over the world. Many of them have organized groups that meet on a regular basis so that parents can swap ideas and children can connect with their peers. It really helps to know you’re not alone in this experience.

Photo credit: FitnessFreakLA. Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: FitnessFreakLA. Wikimedia Commons

If you’re lucky, there’s a homeschool group already going strong in your area. If not, it might seem at first that there are no local homeschoolers to be found. But don’t let that stop you from continuing to look! Ask at the public library, local co-ops, learning centers (history, environmental, museums, whatever you have nearby). Put up posters; start a playgroup or learning group. You might need to stretch your definition of “local.” You might even choose to seek community online. Check out Oak Meadow’s Get Connected page for more information about online resources.


Homeschooling can be as flexible or as structured as you need or want it to be. Some homeschooling parents work part-time or full-time and focus on supporting their child’s learning when they’re not at work. Others craft a patchwork schedule that allows them to be present as their children learn. Some engage the help of caregivers as part of their family’s homeschooling team.

Some families have demanding travel or training schedules, so they fit homeschooling in around those activities. Other families function best with a non-negotiable daily/weekly/monthly routine at home. All families are unique in their needs and solutions. There are a no “right” answers. It’s up to you to find and follow the rhythm that works for your family.

Legal Considerations

In the U.S., each state has a different take on what homeschoolers must do to stay in compliance with education laws. These requirements may seem overwhelming, but families have succeeded in homeschooling in every state and in numerous other countries. Start by contacting the Superintendent of Schools in your town or the Department of Education in your state or locality to find out what is expected. Remember that some of the people you speak with may not have experience with homeschooling and might have misconceptions about the state’s role in home learning, so be patient and persistent. The Home School Legal Defense Association has excellent information and resources, including up-to-date laws for every state.

Getting Started

Homeschooling is a big adventure, and most of us have no previous experience with anything like it. If you’re not sure where to start or how to proceed, there are many resources and curriculum packages available to take the guesswork out of it. Oak Meadow curriculum is designed to make it easy for parents and students to make sure they are not missing anything along the way. If you have questions, Oak Meadow’s educational counselors are happy to help.

Often when I tell people that my children are homeschooled, they say something like, “I could never homeschool my children.” Perhaps they don’t need or want to homeschool, and that’s just fine. It’s not right for every family. But if you want to homeschool, you can!

International Book Day


Today is International Children’s Book Day!

This annual celebration first began in 1967 to help inspire children with a love of reading from places and authors all over the world. This special day, April 2nd, was chosen because it is also Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, one of the most celebrated children’s authors in the world. andersen


Today might be a great day to visit your local library and search for new and exciting books with your children. If you would like to view award winning kids’ books online, I suggest viewing the Reading Rockets lists of 2014 Newbery and Caldecott Medal books, along with lists of books from other notable awards.

Words, words, words!

noah webster
Noah Webster
In 1806, he published the first American dictionary.

I love words! I know it may sound crazy, but I really enjoy using a dictionary! At our house we always have the dictionary out on a table ready for a quick look up of a word. I love how organized the dictionary is. Every word in alphabetical order! Putting the guide words at the top was a stroke of genius. (The guide words tell you the first and last words on the page so that you don’t have to bother looking down each page until you find the word you are looking for.) In the front of most dictionaries there are usually pronunciation guidelines that do help if you want to know how to say the word. The part of speech is there too! I think it’s fun to read all the different ways a word may be used in a sentence.

In your Oak Meadow vocabulary assignments, you are asked to write the sentences using the words in the context of your lessons. You should be able to find each of the vocabulary words in the lesson or book that you are reading. I suggest circling them when you find them in the text. That way you can easily see how they are used in a sentence. (Remember to use your own words and not copy from the book.)

Today you can get any dictionary on your computer, ipad, or whatever device you are using. I highly recommend that you get your own dictionary. It’s fun to have it within reach, write notes in, and bookmark pages. If you are looking for a good dictionary that will last you through the junior high years, find a Merriam-Webster’s Intermediate Dictionary.

St. Patrick’s Day – Crack the Code!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Every year, on March 17th, thousands of people don their greenest garb, search for four-leaf clovers, eat corn beef and cabbage, dance the Irish jig, march in parades, and search for the leprechaun. Whether you are Irish or not, it can be a joyful occasion for the young and the old.

st-patricks-dayThere are many famous Irish sayings and blessings that come to mind. One of my favorites Irish blessings is:

“May you always walk in sunshine.

May you never want for more.

May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.”


As a child, my favorite part of this celebration was wearing a bit of green (so I wouldn’t get pinched). I also delighted in imagining how a leprechaun might appear.luck-o-the-irish-st-patricks-day-wallpapers-1024x768

Here’s a leprechaun’s message for you!

Use some letter and number magic to crack the code and figure out the message below.

CODE: 1 = A, 2 = B, 3 = C, etc.

__  __  __       __  __  __       __  __  __  __       __  __

13   1   25       20   8    5        12  21   3   11        2    5

__  __  __  __       __  __  __ !

23   9   20   8        25  15  21

__  __ __       __  __  __       __ __ __ __       __

13   1  25       25  15  21        6   9  14  4         1

__  __  __       __  __       __  __  __  __

16  15  20       15   6         7   15  12   4

__ __       __  __  __       __  __  __       __  __

 1  20       20   8   5          5   14   4        15   6

 __  __  __  __  __        __  __  __  __  __  __  __ !

 5  22   5   18   25         18   1    9   14   2   15  23




I’ve been watching a homeschool group work each Tuesday night on a quilt. It’s been quite a process for them and I’ve loved seeing the fun they have together and the progress they’ve made!

I once visited a public library in Maine that had a quilt on a quilting frame in the front lobby. Each person that entered could take a needle and thread and add stitches to the quilting pattern. That was pretty cool! The finished quilt was to be auctioned off and the money was going to the children’s portion of the library. Making something for others is a very rewarding adventure. “Quilts for Kids” was founded as an organization that makes quilts for children in need of soothing during stressful hospital stays. People can even request a kit for making a quilt that would be donated to the organization. What a wonderful idea!

Quilts can be very intricate or very simple in their design. It takes careful planning as you put a design idea into connected squares or random shapes. I like the idea that some quilts are made from materials that are meaningful to the person, such as one made of the fabric from the shirts a grandfather wore, or I’ve even seen a quilt made out of old socks!

Here are some good books that have a “quilt” theme:

With Needle and Thread: A Book About Quilts by Raymond Bial, Eight Hands Round by Ann Paul, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson, The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy, and Ann Turner and Thomas B. Allen’s Sewing Quilts.

How do I describe a painting?

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.”
~ Edward Hopper

I love this quote by Edward Hopper. It reminds me that paintings are images that are expressed, just as a poem or composition has images expressed in words. It is often so hard to describe a work of art, especially these days when everything is made so visual. When my granddaughter was born everyone asked for a photograph right away. It was as though my descriptive words were not enough for them. They wanted more of a picture. I began to really look at her and tried to describe in detail what she looked like rather than send a photograph. It was really hard to do! Before we had photography, painters had the joy of painting what they saw, felt, or experienced in their world.

In some assignments you will be asked to describe a painting or write how it makes you feel. Sometimes I get responses like, “The color is dull,” or “I feel dizzy when I look at it.” These comments crack me up! If you haven’t been exposed to how to really look at a painting or work of art, it can be difficult to find the words. It always helps to know the history of the artist and the environment in which the artist painted. I love watching Sister Wendy describe and interpret paintings. The videos are very long, but well worth the viewing. She’s funny and so interested in the paintings! Her historical summary of when, where, and how the paintings were accomplished is outstanding. Enjoy! I’ve included a sample here: Sister Wendy