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Graduation Open House Tips, Healthy Alternatives to 'Food Pyramid' Curricula

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, May 14, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 38 May 14, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Graduation Open House Tips
Helpful Tips
-- Fish Oil for Focus
Resource Review
-- Fun 'Extras' for Busy Hands
Reader Question
-- Non-'Food Pyramid' Nutrition
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Graduation Open House Tips

For many families, the time has come to start planning for
graduation open houses. Here are some 'tips' particularly
for homeschoolers!

First of all, ask your son or daughter what they would like to
do -- they might not want a large party at all, but would prefer
a smaller get together with family or friends. In a previous
newsletter I shared about a friend of mine whose son was so busy
in his tree trimming business that he didn't have time for an
open house! In fact, even the potential money gifts weren't a
draw for him -- he could make more money working that day. It
wasn't that he didn't enjoy being with family and friends; he
just looked at the whole affair in a very practical manner and
didn't care about following tradition. I think it is both wise
and polite to get feedback from your graduating student, since
the party is meant to honor them. 'Tradition' is a big pull on
all of us and it can sometimes become a snare in our lives --
just my personal opinion here!

Second -- if you have established that you will be having some
sort of get-together -- create a budget. Decide how much money
will be spent and stick to it. Figure out how many people will
be invited and how much food will be needed. Everyone expects
to eat at open houses, but there is usually a LOT left over! If
folks have more than one to attend in a day, they tend to eat
less at each. Plan extra 'filler' food -- cheap, filling food
-- for the younger children. Popcorn, pretzels, macaroni and
cheese, carrot strips, tortilla chips and a crockpot of melted
nacho cheese -- these are great for kids who just want to munch.

Next you might want to contact other families in your circle of
homeschooling friends and find out what dates they are choosing
for their own parties. Better yet, why not combine a few of your
children into a multiple-family open house? So many homeschool-
ing families have major overlaps in friend lists -- and those
who do combined parties have reported being thrilled with the
results. And think about this -- some shyer kids may be excited
about a big party, but will be relieved to share the focus of
it with another student. You can even combine budgets with 2 or
3 families and rent a nice hall or outdoor venue with sports
and/or recreational facilities to entertain siblings.

Get cooking! A fun party doesn't have to cost a lot of money.
Hire a caterer if you have the money and just don't have the time,
but if you are comfortable in the kitchen start baking/cooking
ahead dishes that can be stored in the freezer. What works well
for this? Lasagna, most casserole-type dishes w/o potatoes,
stuffed peppers (amazingly!), meatballs, cookies, etc. Just
Google 'recipes that freeze well' for more ideas.

Get creative! Don't leave that picture display you want to do
for the last minute, either. Get older siblings helping you on
this, if possible. If you aren't the least bit artistic or
'scrapbooky' (like me!) get an aunt or grandmother involved on
this early.

Above all, don't let stress become an issue. This is a wonderful
time in your child's life and you want the memories to be good
ones! Don't worry about making your home and yard picture perfect.
If you have some major project that simply *must* be completed,
try to do it early or brainstorm ideas about hiding and/or avoid-
ing that area. (For example - just close the door to that one
room that is forever messy and either lock it or put a ribbon
across it that implies it is not to be opened.) Whatever big
changes you feel compelled to make to your home, yard or garden
for this ONE day -- make sure you do them for your future enjoy-
ment and not just 'temporary' for the party. At least don't
spend a bunch of extra money you will regret later... or stress
over it!

Your graduate will thank you. :-)


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Fish Oil Supplement

"We have been giving our one son, age 11, fish oil capsules every
morning since he was about 6 years old. He was adopted at age 4
and I heard about it from other adoptive parents of kids who were
adopted from orphanages, as anxiety and attention issues can be
common for these kids. We can see the difference in his concentra-
tion and his anxiety when he has the fish oil. We give him 3
extra-stength capsules each morning (or 4 regular strength). We
use BJs brand but I know there are 'purer' versions online that I
am told might be more effective. We also have considered 2 in the
morning and 2 in the evening (instead of all in the morning) but
haven't tried it. Our pediatrician says it's fine to use fish oil
(although I doubt she 'believes' in it), but we also use iodized
table salt as it is rumored that fish oil can leech iodine.

He was in speech therapy for almost 2 years and twice I ran out of
fish oil the day of his appointment (or the day before) and both
times the speech therapist noticed the difference in him. The first
time she asked me if something had happened at home because he was
so 'off the wall' today, and I told her about missing his fish oil.
The second time it happened a few months later she came out and said,
"You ran out of fish oil again, didn't you?". So it's not just us
who can see the difference.

I figure that old saying that 'fish is brain food' has some basis in
fact!" -- Karen H. - Member, http://www.HomeschoolingBOYS.com


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

From Cindy - www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

"In our house we have a saying, 'Learning happens all the time'. The
resources at the following link were chosen for their 'fun' value, as
well as their learning value. We have used several of these resources
both as part of our curriculum and as fun activities for our children
to explore during their free time. Stamp collecting, making a blow gun,
oil painting, building a radio, knitting, and more!"

See them here:


Last Issue's Reader Question

"Does anyone have an idea where I can find a nutrition program that
focuses on whole foods and doesn't push the current US food pyramid?
I teach a small co-op group science class with students that range from
2nd grade to 8th grade; next year we are studying the human body and I
want to include nutrition. Our state homeschool convention was this
weekend and I talked with every vendor I could think might have infor-
mation; the lady who sells the whole grain bread stuff, Rod-N-Staff,
Christian Light Education, Common Sense Press, Richard and Debbie
Lawrence (who were there with Answers in Genesis), and a local home-
school family who has an organic dairy and raises grass-fed beef --
with no results. I'm used to adapting materials to fit the wide age
span, so grade level doesn't really make that large a difference. Any
help would be appreciated!" -- Sherry H.

Our Readers' Responses

"Check out Sue Gregg’s website (http://www.suegregg.com). You will
find a wealth of information on whole foods preparation. She has a
section on her site devoted to teaching and a cookbook devoted
entirely to cooking with kids." -- Lisa in WI


"Is there a 4-H group in your area? Several years ago we used some
of their food and nutrition workbooks -- I thought they were helpful
and my daughter enjoyed the activities. You can find materials at

Another possible source of information would be a university
extension office, if you have one nearby." -- Laurie


"Nutritionist Leanne Ely has written a unit study on healthy foods,
along with a separate book for Moms, available at Amazon. While I
haven't used the unit study, I have read and used other books by
Leanne Ely. Her approach to nutrition is that of a mother trying
to feed her family. Her advice is practical and she takes the guess-
work out of meal planning. Her 'Saving Dinner' books would be a
wonderful resource for any busy family. Leanne gives you a week of
main dish recipes with suggested side dishes and a grocery list with
everything needed for the week. I can't say enough good things
about this wonderful lady. All of her books are available at Amazon
but she also has a website, www.savingdinner.com, for a weekly menu
service. We have also used the menu service and loved it.

'Healthy Foods: An Irreverent Guide to Understanding Nutrition and
Feeding Your Family Well' is the book written for adults. One
editorial review said, '...common-sense, practical and helpful
information, beautifully wrapped up in her entertaining, humorous
and easy-to-read style. I recommend Healthy Foods heartily!'

The unit study is called 'Healthy Foods Unit Study: A guide for
nutrition and wellness' (Grade K-5). The book description at
Amazon says, 'With children suffering more than ever before from
obesity and too much sedentary activity, it's more important than
ever for parents to be proactive in their nutrition. This wonder-
ful unit study helps children understand how to make nutrition
work for them. It teaches basic nutrition, menu planning and much
more through interactive questions, projects and worksheets. A
great way to spend time with your child in the kitchen and a
perfect nutrition resource for homeschoolers.'

I hope everyone will check out Leanne's books and find them as
helpful as our family has. I am planning to use the nutrition
unit study over the summer." -- Angie B.


"Have you checked Rainbow Resource Center? www.rainbowresource.com
They have a nutrition section in their catalogue. Our family has
used 'Nutrition and Fitness' which is 50 lessons covering such
topics as fiber, protein, cholesterol, vitamins, metabolism, diet
and exercise, etc. It is promoted for ages 14 through adult, but
would be easily adapted for younger children. Some of Rainbow's
other resources might suit your situation better.

Another option might be to contact various organizations which
promote nutrition through their particular type of produce (grain,
honey, dairy, beef, etc.). They usually offer educational
materials free or at low cost. It would take a lot of time, but
you could develop your own curriculum from those. 'Alternative'
health care providers, such as chiropractors, might have some-
thing available also; they often promote nutrition, and might
even be willing to come and speak to your class. If you haven't
already checked your local library, it would likely be worthwhile
to see what they might have. Our University Extension Office
has an entire wall with shelves full of information on nutrition
and health. A call to your county agent might provide you with
more materials than you can carry home. Most of them are eager
to share their resources.

You could also let your students do the research and teach each
others about nutrition. You could assign each child a particular
vitamin and ask them to report on what it does for the body, what
foods contain it, symptoms of deficiencies -- whatever they can
learn about it. The children could compile notebooks.

You sound like an ambitious person -- how about a Health Fair?
It could be very simple, with each child setting up a booth
demonstrating his assigned topic, or it could be bigger, bringing
in people from the community to present such things as First Aid,
drug awareness, fitness, safety (bicycles, seat belts, firearms),
etc." -- Mary Beth A.


"Sherry, I recommend using the 'Eating Better Cookbooks' series
by Sue Gregg. The main set, seven cookbooks, is written from a
Christian viewpoint and they cover everything from menu planning,
food buying, and basic nutrition (promoting whole foods, lowfat/
high fiber recipes.) One of the cookbooks in the set, 'Lunches
and Snacks', is designed 'to teach children, ages 7 and above,
introductory food preparation, nutrition, and menu planning.
Nutrition quizzes for informal discussion are keyed to the
recipes.' 'Lunches and Snacks' also has a number of cooking
activities listed, broken down by age from 2 – 12. Mrs. Gregg
also sells a cooking course for teens and adults, but I am not
personally familiar with it. You can read about her background
at this page: http://www.suegregg.com/about/abouttheauthor.htm
or view curriculum here (scroll down the page for student guides):


I have used the series for years and have taught my kids to
cook loosely following the structure of her books. Have fun!"

-- Dana Wilson, Epi Kardia Home Education http://www.epikardia.com


"If you are used to adapting materials this will give a wealth of
information! Not necessarily written directly to the student,
though, depending upon the age of the student of course.
http://www.westonaprice.org/ has an enormous amount of informa-
tion on Nutrient-Dense Foods, Traditional Fats, REAL MILK, Soy
Alert, Pasture-Fed Livestock, Lacto-Fermentation, Truth in Label-
ing, Non-Toxic Farming, Prepared Parenting (and this is Pro-life
- preparing the bodies of both future dad and mom for the best
fertility and healthiest baby - not to be confused at all with
Planned Parenthood) and much more. This organization is very
much in favor of locally grown foods thereby supporting small
family farming ventures rather than factory food. Weston A.
Price Foundation President, Sally Fallon, has written a cookbook
'Nourishing Traditions' with articles in the margins of every
page explaining the need for wise food choices and proper nutri-
tion. This is far more than a cookbook at 674 pages. 'At last,
a successful challenge to the Politically Correct Nutrition and
the Diet Dictocrats!' " - Kellie


"I like the Weston A. Price foundation --
http://www.westonaprice.org/splash_2.htm -- and the Nourishing
Traditions cookbook/nutrition book. In addition, I've found
Dr. Andrew Weil's book, Eating Well for Optimum Health, to be a
very thorough but easy to understand primer on nutrition for the
lay person." -- Lisa S.

Answer our NEW Question

"I have a question for anyone who can help me. I have been
involved in a great co-op the past 2 years that meets once a
week for about 6-7 months in the school year. There is also
another co-op that I am very interested in also that we have
ties to. In the midst of deciding what co-op to go to next
year my husband and I are thinking to just take a complete
break from all co-ops next year and just do some field trips
and go to plays. The reason for this -- or at least one -- is
to focus 'inside the home' (for example more family time and
sibling friendships). We have 4 children and I feel sometimes
our focus is more on our friends and making new ones than on
family. Don't get me wrong -- I think this is a great way to
meet new people -- but I just think maybe a semester or even
a whole year off would do some good for our family situation
right now. Also I am thinking we are getting behind on core
subjects because one day is co-op and the next day is catch-up
on house stuff and school work... or we are just too tired and
need some rest time. What are your experiences with co-ops?
Keep in mind this is the only time we are around other home-
schoolers for the most part. Our church is all public school
but that doesn't seem to bother my kids. HELP! I NEED ADVICE!"
-- Missy in TN


Do you have experience or advice/wisdom to share with Missy?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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Tags: homeschool graduation, open house tips, fish oil supplements, omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil brain food, Sue Gregg cookbooks, health nutrition curriculum, nutritionist Leanne Ely, healthy foods unit study, Eating Better cookbooks, homeschooling tips

Next - Feedback from our Readers, Home-Grown Speech Therapy, Co-op Break?
Previous - When Faith and Curriculum Collide, Public School Teachers Homeschooling

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