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Monday Pep Talk No. 28

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

3 fun things to do this week

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

 

one great readaloud

  • I had not heard of The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay until I read an interview with Philip Pullman, who described it as his favorite children’s book. You might feel the same way when you finish—it’s delightful.

 

one thought to ponder

  • “Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”  ― Rumi

 

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}

Monday Pep Talk No. 25

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

3 fun things to do this week

Celebrate President’s Day (on Monday) by looking at the human side of the U.S. Presidents through 44 facts—one for each Commander-in-Chief—that you probably didn’t know, including the fact that Obama is a comic book nerd and that Van Buren popularized the word “OK.”

Random Acts of Kindness Day (Feb. 17) is one of our favorite holidays. Celebrate by being kind—we’ve got some great ideas in the winter issue, and there’s a huge list of suggestions on the Random Acts of Kindness website, too.

Build your own working battery using pennies and nickels to mark the birthday of Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (Feb. 18), the inventor of the electric battery.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

On busy days, one-pot meals like this kale and quinoa pilaf make the perfect easy dinner.

I want to come home at the end of a satisfying busy, cold day and eat slow-cooker pulled pork chili with cornbread dumplings, don’t you?

I want to eat spaghetti pie with pecorino and black pepper right now.

 

one great readaloud

Mark the discovery of Pluto (on Feb. 19, 1930) by reading all about the crazy history of the most controversial planet-not-a-planet in our solar system in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet.

 

one thought to ponder

To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: That’s enough for one man’s life.  
—T.S. Eliot

 

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}

Presidential cocktails


Monday Pep Talk No. 21

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

We’ll be taking a couple of weeks off this month to wrap up the winter issue (also, to be honest, to play video games and start some projects with our Hanukkah yarn), but we’ll be back with your regular Monday pep talk in January. And since we’ll be gone for a little while, we’ve padded this week’s pep talk with a few extra ideas to tide you over.

fun things to do this week (and beyond)

Celebrate Bill of Rights Day on Dec. 15 with an Oregon Trail-ish online game.

December 18 is Bake Cookies Day, which means you haven’t been procrastinating your holiday baking, you’ve just been waiting for the official day. (I’ll be making rum balls.)

Celebrate National Flashlight Day (Dec. 21) by making your own flashlights.

Put on a family production. It could be that I have read Little Women too many time, but I love the idea of putting on a holiday show in your living room.

Make your own fake snow, and you can have a snowball fight whether it’s a white solstice or not.

Get hooked on a podcast. A few to try: Professor Blastoff’s archives (sadly, no new episodes are coming, but this mash-up of science, philosophy, and humor can be addictive); the Tolkien Professor’s Tolkien chats (perfect for people who want to obsess—and I mean, really obsess—over Middle Earth), and the Infinite Monkey Cage, which is a little bit like what would result if Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, and Monty Python got together and decided to host a podcast about science.

 

ideas for holiday eating

I want to eat this white bean risotto with garlicky greens tonight—but I’m also wondering if there’s a version of this with black-eyed peas that would make an awesome New Year’s lunch.

This winter vegetable soup is one of those slow-cooker meals that you’ll be so happy to come home to.

Sweet potato and kale bubble and squeak? Yes, please!

This crispy coconut kale with roasted salmon and coconut rice is fancy enough to feel special but a nice break from all the rich roasts we seem to eat over the holidays.

Beef stroganoff with dumplings is the perfect dinner on a chilly evening.

Someone brought this poppy seed chicken casserole to every single potluck when I was growing up, and I still think this with a big plate of roasted broccoli makes the perfect dinner.

 

one great readaloud

 

 

one thought to ponder

 

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}

eggnog milkshake


Monday Pep Talk No. 20

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Can you believe we've been doing Monday pep talks for 20 weeks? Putting them together has been such fun because it really gets me energized for the week ahead (not to mention filling in some gaps in our weekly menus). I hope you guys are getting fun ideas from them, too.  

3 fun things to do this week

Monday is Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day, and while the idea of dressing anachronistically, asking strangers for the year, and reacting dramatically actually sounds pretty fun, a time travel movie marathon is an equally legitimate way to celebrate. We recommend Time Bandits, Groundhog Day, and Back to the Future—though you could certainly make an argument for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure or Midnight in Paris, too. (Or you could just watch Doctor Who all day.)

Celebrate Gingerbread Decorating Day (Dec. 12) by making your own gingerbread creations. (A basic house is all I can manage, but if you are crafty, you could make gingerbread Daleks or a gingerbread hobbit house this year.)

Grow your own crystal Christmas tree with salt and ammonia.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Slow-roasted onions take the eye-stinging out of Nigel Slater’s easy onion soup recipe but still deliver classic French onion soup flavor.

Get in the Hanukkah spirit with root vegetable latkes—which are delicious whether you are lighting a menorah or not. (Serve them with sour cream, applesauce, or—my daughter’s fave—tomato jam.)

This dijon and cognac beef stew makes a decadent weeknight dinner, especially if you serve it over a pile of horseradish-spiked mashed potatoes.

 

one great readaloud

Winterfrost
By Michelle Houts
 

When Bettina’s family forgets the Christmas pudding for their nisse—the tiny spirit that protects their farm—trouble ensues in the charming Winterfrost, which is full of details about Danish Christmases.

 

one thought to ponder

 

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}

two-ingredient Nutella brownies


Monday Pep Talk No. 19

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Are you still basking in the post-Thanksgiving glow? I don’t know if it’s the residual tryptophan or just the fact that it’s a post-holiday Monday, but this week’s pep talk feels particularly necessary!

3 fun things to do this week

Celebrate Dice Day (this Friday) by playing your family’s favorite dice games. (We love Can’t Stop, which is fast-paced and fun but easy for inexperienced gamers, and To Court the King, which is a little like a more sophisticated, strategic version of Yahtzee.

Hanukkah starts this weekend, which means it’s time to brush up on your dreidel playing skills. (If you need a refresher on the rules, here’s a handy one.) We have never had good luck making our own dreidels out of clay, so I am tempted to try this recycled CD version this year.

What better way to commemorate Sherlock Holmes’ first appearance in print (“A Study in Scarlet” was published Dec. 1, 1887) than by marathoning the BBC’s modern-day adaptation Sherlock? (This will also help you prep for the show’s upcoming New Year’s special.)

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

A fragrant mix of apples and onions puts a wintry spin on your standby chicken dinner—and makes your whole house smell so good while it’s cooking.

I like mine with parsnips and lima beans, but you can really use any leftover vegetables to make this spiced veggie rice with poached eggs.

For a warm-you-to-the-bones dinner, it’s hard to beat the classic ham bone, greens, and bean soup.

 

one great readaloud

Celebrate Georges Seurat’s birthday (on Dec. 2) by exploring one of his best known paintings in depth with Robert Burleigh’s engrossing Seurat and La Grande Jatte: Connecting the Dots. (A lot of kids' art books end up being biographies of the artist—which is fine—but I love that this one really focuses on the work itself.)

 

one thought to ponder

 

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration} 

The Sufganiyah


Monday Pep Talk No. 17

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Let the holiday rush begin! I don’t know about you, but in our house things kick into high gear just before Thanksgiving and don’t slow down again until January—and a weekly kick-in-the-pants of inspiration is pretty essential.

3 fun things to do this week

What better way to celebrate Homemade Bread Day (Tuesday) than by whipping up a loaf of bread in your kitchen? This no-knead recipe is designed for preschoolers, so it’s virtually impossible to mess up.

Take a virtual field trip to the first Thanksgiving (in 1621) at Plimoth Plantation. (Download the application first, and it will run faster than streaming it.)

Find out how much energy is stored in a single peanut with this simple (but fascinating) peanut power science experiment.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Warm everybody up with bowls of this 15-minute Greek chicken soup. It’s the perfect dinner on those grumpy, sniffly nights when everybody needs the food equivalent of a hug.

This easy shrimp-fried rice is an ideal one-pan dinner. (Sub tofu or chicken if your gang is anti-shrimp.)

This crunchy, spicy autumn salad with horseradish vinaigrette is exactly what a cold-weather salad should be.

 

one great readaloud

To gear up for Thanksgiving cooking next week, read A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat, a delightful picture book describing how four different generations of American families prepare the same blackberry fool. (This book is definitely on my list for best picture books of 2015.)

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration

hard cider sangria


Monday Pep Talk No. 15

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

November’s here, and we've got a little homeschool inspiration to help you start the month off right.

3 fun things to do this week

Election Day is Nov. 3, and just because the Presidential election isn’t until 2016 doesn't mean the local, state, and national elections this year aren’t worth following. Ballotpedia is a quick resource to help you catch up on big state elections worth tracking as the exit polls come in.

Celebrate Jellyfish Day (on Tuesday) by watching the documentary Vicious Beauties: The Secret World of the Jellyfish. (It’s free!)

Get into the autumnal spirit by making Kandinsky-inspired fall tree art.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Braised chicken with dates and Moroccan spices is one of our favorite comfort food dinners. Serve it over a big pile of couscous or rice.

If you’re looking for something to do with that spaghetti squash you picked up at the market, you’ll want to try this spaghetti squash noodle bowl with lime-peanut sauce.

This chicken parmesan bake uses leftover chicken and can be assembled any time and then heated up when you're ready to eat—win-win.

 

one great readaloud

Mark Marie Curie’s birthday (on Nov. 7) by reading A Thousand Bonds: Marie Curie and the Discovery of Radium, a collection of narrative poems about Curie’s life and scientific achievements by poet Eleanor Swanson.

 

one thought to ponder

 

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration} 

Adam and Eve (apple pie moonshine + salted caramel vodka)


Monday Pep Talk No. 13

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled dose of Monday inspiration—last week, we needed all the inspiration we could get to finish up our fall issue. (Have you read it yet? Because there's lots of inspiration in there to carry you through to the holidays.)  

3 fun things to do this week

If your clan is getting super-excited about the new Star Wars movie (please don’t screw this one up, guys!), perhaps you should get started on a Death Star piñata to tide you over.

What better way to celebrate Apple Day (Oct. 21) than with a trip to your nearest pick-your-own orchard?

Make your own Hogwarts library with this tutorial for making wizard school textbooks. (Don’t you think a fancy Arithmancy cover would make your geometry book seem 20 percent cooler?)

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Beans on toast is one of those dinners that you can throw together on particularly harried nights, and this garlicky white bean version is particularly yummy.

Celebrate Octoberfest with bratwurst with creamy apple compote. (Save the leftover compote to serve with pork chops later.)

Use your pastry blender to mix up the ingredients for these easy black bean burgers. (We like ours with sweet potato chips.)

 

one great readaloud

Dial-a-Ghost
By Eva Ibbotson
 

In the spirit of Halloween, pick up Eva Ibbotson’s delightful Dial-a-Ghost: A mistake at the ghost assignment agency sends the screaming evil ghosts to a nunnery and the friendly family of ghosts to a country house—which is lucky for young Oliver, whose guardian plans to scare him to death so he can seize Oliver’s inheritance. Of course, hijinks ensue.

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}


Monday Pep Talk No. 12

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Jump-start your week with our Monday pep talk, designed to make having fun a little easier.

3 fun things to do this week

Get sucked down the rabbit hole of Viking history on the History Channel’s website to celebrate Leif Ericson Day on Oct. 9.

Dig a little deeper into Byzantine history with the 12 Byzantine Rulers podcast. (It’s free!)

Use your kitchen time this week to teach everything from the big bang to Keynesian economics. (Some of these are a bit of a stretch, but that's what makes them so fun.)

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Some people get excited about pumpkin spice lattes; I get excited about butternut squash, which is the star of this butternut squash and farro salad.

Give your regular roast chicken an international upgrade when you make roast chicken with Moroccan spices. (I’d serve a big bowl of roasted vegetables and couscous on the side.)

Just the thing for chilly evenings when you want the whole house to smell delicious: baked onions with parmesan and cream. (The recipe is number five on the list.)

 

one great readaloud

 

Get into the Halloween spirit with a spooky story about a girl who can see ghosts and a boy who want to solve the mystery of his mother’s death. A Curious Tale of the In-Between is just scary enough to be fun.

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency{ because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration} 

sazerac


Monday Pep Talk No. 11

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Like that extra cup of coffee, our Monday Pep Talk will help you get motivated to tackle the week.  

3 fun things to do this week

Celebrate Virus Appreciation Day (Oct. 3) by conducting an experiment to see how rapidly viruses can spread. You’ll have to adapt this Tracking a Virus experiment to use with a smaller group (we taped drawings to our cups to represent different characters from Harry Potter), but it’s a pretty fun chemistry experiment that lets you see how viruses spread and how to track-back an infection to its source.

Celebrate Name Your Car Day (Oct. 2) by screening a flick starring a classic car with a name: friendly VW Herbie is the star of The Love Bug, or you can start your Halloween spookfest early with Christine.

Enjoy the changing leaves! Make a fall leaf animal alphabet with this fun tutorial from Martha Stewart.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

If you need a new idea for chicken (and who doesn’t?), this mustard-dill chicken may be just what you’re looking for.

Give your potato night an autumn twist with loaded sweet potatoes with spiced chickpeas, broccoli, and lemony tahini.

You could definitely add in chicken or lamb, but I think these portobello gyros sound pretty much perfect as-is.

 

one great readaloud

The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit by Sylvia Plath (yes! Sylvia Plath!) is a whimsically delightful picture book. (It’s out of print, but you can still find used copies for sale or look for it at the library.)

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration} 

spiked snickerdoodle milkshake


Monday Pep Talk No. 10

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Another week, another dose of Monday inspiration to help make it a great one.

3 fun things to do this week

Take advantage of Museum Day on Saturday, when you can get free admission to participating museums across the country. (Find the participating museums near you here.)

Celebrate the autumnal equinox (it falls on the 23rd this year) by exploring the relationship between the sun and the seasons with this National Geographic video.

Celebrate Math Story Telling Day (Sept. 23) with some of our favorite living math books.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Apparently, National Great American Pot Pie Day (Wednesday) is a thing, but even if it weren’t, how can you resist a beef bourguignonne pot pie?

This Greek flatbread pizza looks delicious — and it’s gluten-free! (You could definitely add some leftover grilled lamb if you had it hanging out in the fridge.)

For a twist on the spaghetti-and-sauce standby, make spaghetti with parmesan and rosemary pork sauce. It’s pretty much the same process you’d normally use to make spaghetti but with a totally different flavor result.

 

one great readaloud

The Hobbit
By J. R. R. Tolkien
 

Celebrate Hobbit Day on September 22 with a readaloud of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. (It’s so, so, so much better than the movie.)

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration} 

homemade milano cookies


Monday Pep Talk No. 9

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

It’s Monday again — and we’ve got just what you need to get excited about the coming week.  

3 fun things to do this week

Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on the 19th with some of our fun pirate study ideas from the summer issue.

There’s no better time to start a rock collection than Collect Rocks Day (September 16). The American Museum of Natural History has a great guide for beginning rock collectors. If you don’t have a rock identification guide yet, we like the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals.

Add more primary sources to your history lessons this year with Stanford’s awesome (and free!) Reading Like a Historian program.

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Southern squash casserole is the perfect comfort food for September —— warm and cozy but still full of summer flavors.

This sriracha chicken comes together in less than 15 minutes, but it tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen.

This pasta risotto is like a very posh macaroni and cheese — it would make a nice side for something like pot roast or brisket, but you could also serve it with a hearty salad and call it dinner.

 

one great readaloud

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones, a hilarious novel-in-letters about a girl who inherits some very peculiar chickens when her family moves to her uncle’s farm.

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency {because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration}

alive and kicking


Monday Pep Talk No. 8

home|school|life magazine's Monday Pep Talk has lots of fun ideas for planning your homeschool week.

Welcome to your weekly dose of inspiration to help make this week of your homeschool life just a little bit better.  

3 fun things to do this week

You probably won’t need much encouragement for this one, but Monday is Buy a Book Day. (Check out Book Sale Finder to find library book sales going on in your neck of the woods.)

Take advantage of the lingering warm weather to have a real-life Minecraft treasure huntin your backyard.

Have a Star Trek marathon this week to celebrate the series’ television premiere on September 8, 1966. (I think the Next Generation series is the most engaging, but you could go old-school with the original television episodes or screen the two newest installments in the franchise, too.)

 

3 ideas for this week’s dinners

Grilled green bean salad makes a yummy side for grilled chicken or steak.

There are a lot of steps in this grilled paella recipe, but since the end result is grilled paella, the payoff should be worth it.

This spiced Indian corn recipe will make you want to keep buying every ear of corn at the farmers market until they run out.

 

one great readaloud

The Twits
By Roald Dahl
 

Plot your vengeance against the horrible husband and wife in The Twits, in honor of Roald Dahl’s birthday on September 13.

 

one thought to ponder

in case of emergency (because sometimes you need something stronger than inspiration) 

sweet and salty truffle pie