The Big Fat Notebooks you’ll want on your shelf this year

The Big Fat Notebooks you'll want on your shelf this year
Written by Jamie C. Martin of Simple Homeschool

I first heard about Big Fat Notebooks from LeVar Burton of Reading Rainbow (you guys know I am a fan!), who tweeted a photo of them. I was immediately intrigued, drawn to their bright colors and concept.

So when the opportunity came my way to partner with Workman Publishing and share them with you in this space, I gave it a definite yes. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this series, and now that we’ve had them in our home for a few weeks, I’m just as excited!

Since my kids hit double-digits, more than once I’ve looked nostalgically at our shelf of encyclopedia-type titles (like the Core Knowledge Series/Childcraft books), wishing there was something similar for older ages. Well, the folks behind Brain Quest have created it!

Here’s an overview:
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Sarah’s homeschool day in the life (with a 12- and 15-year-old)

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

The sky is just starting to lighten. From my regular perch I watch a new day come, wait for the riot of color as the sun pops up over the mountains. The next few hours are mine. This is the “me” time that stay-at-home moms crave: my creative time, productive time, devotion time, exercise time. I write, pray, run, plan, catch-up, check things off—and add things to—my to-do list. I shower quietly, without my ears tuned to the cries of “Mommy!”

You with little ones don’t have this—I know. Your little ones are your alarm clock.


But one of these days, you’ll have middle and high schoolers who sleep in late—and you won’t.

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Transition from Interest-Led Elementary to Middle School Years (2012 Curriculum Fair)

Written by contributor Renee Tougas of FIMBY.

Ages of my children: (almost) 13, 11, and 9
Educational Philosophies I pull from: Leadership Education, Literature-Based, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling

Our family has gone through a lot of change in the past year. We moved to a different country and have lived in three different provinces or states in the past twelve months.

My husband now works at home and our nearly thirteen-year-old daughter is going through her own monumental life change, moving from childhood to young adulthood.

These life transitions naturally affected our homeschool routines and the resources we use.

A couple of significant homeschool changes worth mentioning:

  1. We are English speakers now living in a francophone province. There is very limited English public library service where we live so we access more online resources than ever before.
  2. My husband takes a much more active part in our homeschool since moving. Specifically in the areas of his interests – computer programming, science and technology in general.

I’ve broken down our homeschool curriculum by subject, though in application we don’t live our days studying “subjects” so much as investigating, exploring and diving into our interests.
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Homeschooling Benefits for Adolescence

Written by contributor Heather Bruggeman of Beauty That Moves

In the spring I shared a post with you about Middle School Resources and Materials. In that article I referenced Maria Montessori’s thoughts on the middle school years; how she viewed that fleeting time is best spent.

It generated quite a bit of interest – for many of you there was a very real modern day understanding of Ms. Montessori’s century old words.

For today, I thought we could dig a little deeper in that direction. Let’s bring the spirit of those Montessori ideas home, and think about the benefits and gifts an adolescent might experience when homeschooled.

For the purpose of this article, when referring to “middle school,” I am writing about seventh and eighth grade. There is a particular explosion of development during these years, and some people, like Maria Montessori, feel this age group is better off with an alternative experience to the status quo.

Perhaps a good way to start would be to consider the three areas that form the whole child.
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Transitioning into the Big Kid Years

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

Let’s face it. Very few of us are completely untouched by public opinion, whether it’s barely beneath the surface or just an occasional niggling feeling. Even the most die-hard unschooler must wonder at some point: Are we on the right track? Am I doing enough?

If your students are under 11 or 12, keep relaxing. Please, oh please, enjoy these days. Snuggle together reading, spend hours doing crafts, take long walks and bend down to examine every insect. Bake a cake and call it science. Go to a museum and call it history. Go grocery shopping and call it math.

I have now graduated one student, who is in his first year of college, and I can say with assurance: I do not regret one single day that we spent decorating cookies instead of doing a math worksheet.

But the time does come to transition.

Generally around seventh grade, you and your student will be ready to ease into what I think of as the academic years—the move toward independence.  This road to independence should be a purposeful one. We have deliberately cultivated a relaxed approach to our lives, and in homeschooling and parenting, this translates at one level to relinquishing control little by little. Your child cannot become independent if you do everything for him because it’s the way you want things done.

So how do you make the transition from playdough to research papers? Slowly, but deliberately.
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