Other Ways of Using Puppets in Your Homeschool

May 4th, 2009


In the past I have written about the benefits of using puppets in your homeschool to encourage literacy. Here are a few other ideas for how you can use puppets to motivate your children and encourage learning in your homeschool.

~A puppet can help your younger child to develop language skills. Young children love puppets and are often willing to open up to them. Take advantage of this and have your child and tell the puppet stories. Ask your child probing questions to encourage more developed ideas.

~Your child can teach a puppet something you’ve recently learned about. For example, have your child explain a process in math or science to the puppet. The puppet can ask questions in order to encourage your child to add details to the explanation. This is a great way to assess your child’s understanding.

~If you are studying a particular historical time period, have your child make puppets that reflect the dress of the time. Then have your child create and perform a puppet show that includes historically accurate details. Music and art can be woven into the the performance as appropriate. Or your child could make puppets of a certain historical figure and have that puppet engage with the audience in character.

Try using puppets in your homeschool.

Photos courtesy of Wendy Piersall (@eMom)

US Geography Ideas for Your Homeschool

April 23rd, 2009

I recently posted about a funny song to teach US geography. Here are a few other US geography ideas for your homeschool.

~ Mom is Teaching has a link to an interactive US map that you might be interested in using with your children. I tried it out myself and had a lot of fun with it!

~ We have a US map puzzle that names the state and capital when you place the piece in. This is great for those kids who love doing puzzles. The multisensory nature of this puzzle makes it easier for children to remember the states and capitals.

~ We have flashcards for the United States with information about each state listed on the back of the card. You could make your own flashcards, but make them more like baseball cards. Research each of the states and record important information on the backs of the cards.

~ Make tourist brochures for the states that it would be most appropriate to vacation in. Include a map of the state and information about things important to tourists in it. You can even include photos of great places to visit.

~ Create a topographical map for a state. Use a large piece of cardboard as the base to draw the state on and make the topographical features with air drying clay. Paint the features, too. Create a key for your map.

Have fun learning US geography together!

A Traditional Literature Theme: Tall Tales

March 19th, 2009

Continue your Traditional Literature study in your homeschool with Tall Tales. These stories are short, fun, and engaging. If your children are resistant to reading, Tall Tales can be a great way to capture their interest.


~You can find copies of American Tall Tales here. There are also comprehension quizzes on this site.

~You can find a unit study on Tall Tales at German Town Academy.

~Tall Tales fit into a unit of study on the westward expansion. You can find general information about America in the 1800’s at this website. You will also find a host of educational resources at this website.

~Some Tall Tales are based on actual people. You can have your children research the lives of the Johnny Appleseed and Davey Crockett and compare the facts they find to the exaggerations in Tall Tales.

~You can make a lapbook on Johnny Appleseed. Homeschool Share has a free one.

~Have your children write their own Tall Tales. Remember to include exaggeration in the tales. Illustrations would complete the stories.

Photo courtesy of cliff1066

A Traditional Literature Theme: Fairy Tales

March 17th, 2009

Are you studying traditional literature in your homeschool? You can engage your children in this study by diving into Fairy Tales and adding a twist to the learning experience.


  • Your children might enjoy reading several versions of the same fairy tale. It is common to do a study on the Cinderella stories and compare the different versions of the tale. You can find a great lesson plan at EDSITEement. Write or act out the story from a different character’s point of view. You can even have your children write their own version of a fairy tale but from as if it is from a different culture. Research a particular culture thoroughly first and require that the story include information about that culture in the story.
  • Add fractured fairy tales to your study. Read the “original” version of a tale and compare it to the fractured version. There are many great fractured fairy tales available now such as The Fourth Little Pig, Just Ella, Sleeping Ugly, and The Paper Bag Princess. Then have your children write their own fractured fairy tales. You can even incorporate persuasive essays in your study. Your children can write from the antagonist’s point of view explaining why s/he was wronged.
  • Since many fairy tales were collected by the Brothers Grimm in an effort to preserve German folklore, you can do a research project on Germany.
  • Study Hans Christian Anderson’s life and fairy tales. (Beware that his tales do not always have happy endings.) You can also learn about Holland since Andersen was Dutch.

Photo courtesy of g.naharro

A Traditional Literature Theme: Myths and Legends

March 14th, 2009

Here are more ideas for using traditional literature in your homeschool this month. Try reading Myths and Legends.



Myths are creation tales that include supernatural activity. For a more detailed definition go to About.com.

  • Spark Notes is packed with information about mythology. It can be a great resource for you as you start to learn about mythology.
  • Have your children read Myths from various cultures such as Native American and Greek myths. Examine the themes that appear in those myth,s and create a grid to of those themes as a graphic organizer. You can also have your children illustrate the myths in order to help them visualize the stories better.
  • Discuss the religious nature of the myths that you read. Since most myths have something to do with creation, take this opportunity to discuss creation according to the Bible. You can even make a creation lapbook with your children. I found a free creation lapbook from Lapbook Lessons.


Legends are stories partially based on fact, but have exaggerated details.

  • Children of all ages, particularly boys, love legends! Who can resist the adventures of Robin Hood and King Arthur? These are great, action packed stories to read aloud.
  • Write a script for a favorite legend and act it out, or simply have your children choose a favorite scene to turn into a skit.
  • Since it is March, you can research the legend of St. Patrick at History.com. You can also find information about St. Patrick at RiverDeep.net
  • Write a modern day Legend after examining others. Have your children include illustrations of the legendary hero and his/her adventures.

Photo courtesy of Jorge-11

Puppets Encourage Homeschool Literacy

March 8th, 2009

Puppets can be a useful tool in your homeschool literacy program. Here are a few ways to use them with children eight years old and younger.


~Your beginning reader can read books to a puppet. Young children buy into the fantasy of the puppet interacting with them. Sometimes the presence of the puppet helps a child who is struggling with reading to relax and enjoy the experience. The puppet makes it fun to read.

~Your children can retell books by writing a script and using puppets. It is a fun way to encourage your children to reread a book and understand it well enough to capture the essence of the story. It also encourages your children to write a good script. Younger children will love to watch the puppet shows, too.

~You can make a read aloud more engaging with a puppet. My kids love listening to the puppet read stories, ask questions, and explain parts of the stories. They talk to the puppet. They also like touching it and even mimicking the way that I use the puppet. This tool can be especially helpful in engaging children who find it difficult to sit still long enough to listen to a whole book.

~Your children can teach the puppet. This is a fun way to have your child summarize a new skill or concept that you’ve been practicing. For example, the puppet can learn to sound out words or find rhyming pairs. The puppet can even find sight words in a story such as “the”, “what”, and “said”.

~You can research another culture with puppets. Shadow puppets are part of Indonesian culture. Your children can create a shadow puppet show as a culminating activity after researching Indonesian culture.

Have fun with puppets!

Photo courtesy of nickstone333

The Names of the Fifty States

January 29th, 2009

Are you learning the geography of the United States in your homeschool? TeacherTube has this funny song that can help your children learn the names of the states in alphabetical order. The song, “Let’s Learn the 50 States”, is sung by Teacher and the Rockbots.

Maybe your kids can come up with their own song about the names of all of the states and create a music video for it!

Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks

Snowflakes Are Falling In Your Homeschool

January 24th, 2009

It is the middle of the winter, and most places have plenty of snow. Learn about snowflakes this month in your homeschool.

~Wilson Bentley is famous for photographing snowflakes. He successfully photographed his first snowflake on January 15, 1885. Try researching his work and life. Watch this informative video about his life. It starts out told in the first person.

-There is a Snowflake Bentley website where you can find out more about his life. There are also copies of his photographs posted there.

-Read the following books to research Bentley’s life:

Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Book)

The Snowflake Man: A Biography of Wilson A. Bentley

My Brother Loved Snowflakes: The Story of Wilson A. Bentley, the Snowflake Man

~Learn about snowflakes. Go to the Cal Tech website for host of information.

-Read the following books to research snowflakes:

Snowflakes in Photographs

Ken Libbrecht’s Field Guide to Snowflakes

The Snowflake : A Water Cycle Story

-Observe snowflakes. How Stuff Works has a great lesson plan for this science experiment.

~Make snowflakes in various artistic ways. These books can help:

Snowflakes for all Seasons

Make Your Own Paper Snowflakes

Easy Tatting (Dover Needlework Series)

~At ProTeacher you can find a few math activities related to a snow theme. My two favorites are:

-Have a snowball fight. Write a math fact on a piece of white paper and crumple it up in a ball. Make a whole pile of these. Throw your “snowballs” at each other for a specified time. Then everyone takes turns reading the math facts out loud. Repeat.

-Use shaving cream on a table or desk as your snow. Have your child write in the shaving cream. Write math facts or draw shapes. Recite a number such as one hundred forty five and have your child write it in the shaving cream – 145.

Photos, Snowflake-024 & Snowflake-009, courtesy of yellowcloud

Verse of the Day
  • Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11, ESV)