Monthly Archives: March 2016

2016 PHB Homeschool Art Contest

PHB  Homeschool Art Contest!!! (2016)PHBART

I’m thrilled to announce I’m hosting my third, annual, nation-wide Homeschool Art Contest!  Here’s the details:

For Who:  Any child currently being homeschooled (either traditional or virtual charter school) in the continental U.S. in grades K through 8.

How to Enter:  

1) Read and abide by the Contest Rules.  Please click here to obtain the rules: Art Contest Rules (doc) OR Art Contest Rules (pdf)

2.) Create a work of art according to the theme: “SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY”.   Your artwork should also meet these requirements:

  • Art work must reflect the theme “SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY”.
  • Any homeschooled student in grades K – 8 can participate.
  • Must be on 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper
  • Art work can be done in any medium (pencil, crayons, colored pencil, paint, markers, etc.)
  • Art work must be created from the student’s imagination or through direct observation.  (No copying!  See contest rules for details.)

3.) Fill out and mail in your entry form and art work.  Please click here to obtain the entry form:  Entry Form ART Contest (doc) OR Entry Form ART Contest(pdf)

Deadline:  All entries must be post-marked by Saturday, April 30th, 2016.

Where to Send Art Work:  Please see Art Contest Rules (doc) or Art Contest Rules (pdf) for details.

Categories:   Entries will be separated into 3 categories:

  • Grades K – 2
  • Grades 3 – 5
  • Grades 6 – 8

Prizes:  1st, 2nd, & 3rd prizes will be given for each category.

1) 1st prize:

2.) 2nd prize:

3.) 3rd prize:

All entrants: will receive a certificate for participating in the contest.

Winner Notification:  Winners will be notified by email and announced on the Philadelphia Homeschool blog in mid May, 2016

Judging:  See panel of judges listed below (following the sponsors).

Special Thanks to the Sponsors who helped make this contest possible!

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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine:  ST-Main-900x900-1

Imagine the frustration you would feel if you couldn’t access the right tools for a job you were expected to do.  Do you ever feel that kind of frustration with homeschooling?  Just as a carpenter needs tools, you need the proper equipment in your teaching toolbox. At, you will find an abundance of inspiring lessons and helpful resources to fill your toolbox.  Do you need homeschool inspiration, support, or advice?  Discover, a FREE digital magazine. On the go?  Read TOS on your mobile device with FREE apps at  Need homeschooling resources? Order a free Homeschool Welcome Basket. Let TOS supply the tools you need to squelch your frustration and boost gratification!

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Berean Builders provides K – 12 science written by Dr. Jay L. Wile specifically for homeschoolers.  The material is rigorous science but written in a conversational style as if Dr. Wile was teaching the student directly.  Most courses require no special purchases other than the textbook, answer book, household supplies for labs, and a blank notebook.  High school biology and chemistry do require some specialized purchases if you wish to complete all the experiments.
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Answers in Genesis:
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics (i.e., Christianity-defending) ministry, dedicated to enabling Christians to defend their faith and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus particularly on providing answers to questions surrounding the book of Genesis, as it is the most-attacked book of the Bible. We also desire to train others to develop a biblical worldview, and seek to expose the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas, and its bedfellow, a millions of years old earth (and even older universe).
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K Love:

K-LOVE is a pioneer in the non-commercial, listener supported Christian music format. With over 446 signals across the United States, K-LOVE reaches millions of listeners each week and strives to deepen their relationships with Christ. K-LOVE features positive and encouraging music 24/7. Through the support of listeners, K-LOVE is committed to improving local communities by building strong partnerships with churches and other organizations. You can listen to K-LOVE in Philadelphia at 106.9, on our free app, or online at

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Special Thanks also to the panel of judges who are helping to make this contest possible:
Georgia Franchetti:
Georgia Franchetti is a homeschooling mother of six.  She and her husband, Matt, met as children in a homeschool group and have been involved in the homeschooling community for most of their lives.  Georgia studied art at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, and studied costume design at Temple University and Penn State.  She has worked as a summer camp art instructor, mural painter, and seamstress.  Always eager to try new things, Georgia has made jewelry, dolls, prom dresses, quilts, and has recently been learning to crochet.  She occasionally teaches homeschool art classes from her home.
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Abigail Fredette:
Abigail Fredette is a freshman at Drexel University studying animation and visual effects.  She has had over four years of rigorous artistic instruction, and aspires to be a professional animator in the film industry.  In her free time, she likes to draw and does freelance illustration for children’s books.  She has also had her work displayed in various galleries throughout the city of Philadelphia.  She loves pigeons, fantasy novels, and the Tuscan pesto chicken sandwich from Cosi.
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Sara Klein:CAM00383 (768x1024)
Sara is a wife and homeschooling mother of three.  Sara received her BFA degree from Tyler School of Art, Temple University where she studied Jewelry, Metals and CAD-CAM.   Her professional life included stints as a CAD-CAM modeler, designer and prototype creator.   However, none of these things could adequately prepare her for the challenge of motherhood…or homeschooling!  Sara currently runs a Classical Homeschooling community, tutors SAT students, teaches Sunday school, sings on her worship team and tries to find time to take a shower.  She still finds art in the beauty of the everyday.
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Anne Macha:Anne Macha
Anne Macha, BFA (Illustration, Arcadia University) is married with two children and lives in Philadelphia. Anne teaches art at a local school and has developed her illustration style through exploring art and design in diverse cultures.
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Julia Melone:

Julia is an artist, wife, mother, homemaker, and Jesus-lover who has lived in Philadelphia for eleven years. She graduated from Tyler School of Art in 2006 and thrives on creativity in daily life. Her hobbies include writing, photography, handlettering, and spending time with her daughters. She and her husband blog very occasionally at

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Delmalyn Vaughn:delmalyn

Delmalyn LaBrake Vaughn has a BFA from Kutztown University with a concentration in Communication Design.  She has completed numerous art courses at Main Line Art Center and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  Delmalyn has exhibited work in community art shows in Phoenixville, PA, Haverford, PA, and a juried show in Gwynedd Valley, PA.  She also has participated in and contributed paintings to various volunteer community art projects for non-profit organizations in Philadelphia, PA.   Oil, water color and acrylic are mediums of choice and she is always ready for any opportunity to spend time working in a studio with other painters!
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Kelly Wong:WP_20150226_002 (4)
 Kelly Wong has a background in architecture at Penn State University and has been teaching art classes for homeschoolers for 11 years. In her classes, she loves incorporating art history with introducing new skills and materials. She is currently the Costume Designer for ASH Theater Company in Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, when she is not being asked questions by her 4 children, she enjoys investigating historical methods of clothing construction, fabric shopping, hand sewing and pencil drawing.
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I am not a judge on this panel but will be working as facilitator and contest coordinator. Here’s a quick bio of me:me1

Gwen lives with her husband and 4 beautiful children in Philadelphia, PA, and has been homeschooling for over 13 years.   In addition to writing weekly in her blogs, PhiladelphiaHomeschool and U READ Thru History (a free online homeschool history curriculum), Gwen has written three homeschool science curricula and has been busy at work on her first children’s novel.   A committed Christian, Gwen seeks to exalt Christ in all of her work.
Homeschool Writing Contest Posted by Gwen Fredette on March 31st, 2016

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Grasshopper Plagues

Week 7: Grasshopper Plagues, 1800’s


Read K – 4: Clouds of Terror by Catherine Welch

5 – 8:  On the Banks of Plum Creek (pgs 142 – end) by Laura Ingalls Wilder 


For K – 4 only:

  • What were the “clouds of terror?” (grasshoppers)
  • What did the grasshoppers eat? (food from their garden, blankets, water – which they polluted)
  • What did the people do to try to destroy them? (shoot them, burn them, made traps)
  • Why did Mr. Lundstrom have to leave home? (to find work and send home money)
  • What did the family use to heat their home in the winter? (wood, cow chips: dung)
  • What type of house did the live in? (a soddy, a house built partially underground; the wall were made of dirt and sod)

For Grades 5 – 8:

  • What did Pa hope would bring them a lot of money to pay off their debts? (wheat field)
  • What did Pa desperately need before the harvest? (boots)
  • What was the “thin, glittering cloud” that moved faster than the wind? (grasshoppers)
  • What sound did they make when they hit the roof? (sound of hail)
  • Did the light change? (Yes, they blocked the sunlight)
  • What unnerving sound came from the millions of grasshoppers? (biting & chewing)
  • How did they try to kill them? (with fire)
  • What did they eat? (grass, wheat, willows, potatoes, carrots, beets, beans, corn, oats)
  • Why was it hard to sleep? (could still here them chewing; felt like they were still crawling on them at night)
  • What did Pa still have to pay off? (the house)
  • Can he pay his debts now that the wheat is gone? (no)
  • Why were the grasshoppers sitting with their tails in the ground? (laying eggs)
  • How many eggs were there? ( millions & millions; 40 eggs to every pod, a pod in every hole, 8 to 10 holes per square foot)
  • What did Pa have to do to support his family? (go east to work; live away from home for months)
  • How many miles did he have to walk? (couple hundred)
  • Why was this such a hardship? (old boots)
  • How did the grasshopper plague affect the cows, oxen, and horses? (starving)
  • The girls wanted to go to school, but couldn’t always because …? (needed to help Ma work around the house while Pa was away; couldn’t walk on the grasshoppers)
  • What weird thing did the grasshoppers do after the second plague year? (began marching west for 4 days straight; then finally flew away)
  • What were the wheels of fire? (tumbleweeds hit by lightning)
  • When did Pa have to use a rope to get to the stable? (during blizzards) Why? (couldn’t see)
  • What was a good thing about having such a cold winter? (no grasshoppers that Spring)
  • How did Pa get stuck in the blizzard? (couldn’t see where he was and fell in a hole)


K – 2: Using clothespins, chenille wire, a green marker, and googly eyes or paper, create your own clothespins grasshoppers.  This site gives you instructions:

3 – 4: Print off this picture of a grasshopper’s life cycle from this page: and color it in.  Then, using the information on this page: label the parts of a grasshopper on this worksheet: 

5 – 8:   Read Exodus 10: 1- 20 from the Bible.  Write an essay comparing and contrasting the plague of locusts from the Bible story with the account of the grasshopper plague here in the U.S. in the 1800’s. How do you believe a modern day plague of grasshoppers could affect our country?  Check out this Youtube video for footage on a recent locust plague in Madagascar:

Or this recent locust plague videos for an idea of how they looked:

Add a short paragraph to your essay on the possible effects of a modern day plague.  How do you think people would try to destroy them today?  Could it happen again in America?


Copyright March 31st, 2016 by Gwen Fredette

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Life in the Midwest

Week 6: Life in the Midwest


Read K – 4: Wagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner AND Read NOTE*

5 – 8:  On the Banks of Plum Creek (pgs 1 – 141 only) by Laura Ingalls Wilder AND Read NOTE*


In 1862 “The Homestead  Act” became law when it was signed by Abraham Lincoln.  This law gave any U.S. citizen 160 acres of unoccupied land west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains if they lived on the land for 5 years and made improvements to the land.  Thousands of settlers took advantage of this opportunity, including starved immigrants, newly freed slaves, and unmarried women.  Kansas was known as an abolitionist state and therefore became the area of choice for many African Americans.

Living on a homestead was tough.  Newcomers suffered from prairie fires, storms, droughts, and grasshopper plagues.  Because very few trees existed on the prairies, settlers often built their homes from sod.  (View the picture of the “Sod house” from internet: )

The “unoccupied land” west of the Mississippi River was occupied.  It belonged to the Native Americans.  They had been assured again and again under various treaties that the white man would not build on their land.  They fiercely opposed the construction of the transcontinental railroad because they assumed correctly that more and more white settlers would begin homesteads on their land.  Consequently homesteaders also had to be ready to defend themselves against Indian attacks.


For K – 4 only:

  • What state was the Muldie family moving to ? (Kansas)
  • Why? (Free land)
  • Why do you think the Native Americans shared their food with the settlers in this story? (possibly because they were intrigued by the African American’s dark skin, friendly Indians, etc.)
  • Why do you think the “Homestead Act” appealed to the Muldie family? ( freedom, free land, good community, African American community)
  • What dangers did the Muldie family face? (storms, prairie fire, boys had to travel by themselves, snakes)
  • Most of the families living in the town of Nicodemus were of what nationality? (African American)

For All Grades:

  • What did the roof of a sod house or a “dug out” look like? (Grassy hill)
  • What was a “dugout” or “sod house”? (Dirt house built partially underground)
  • What types of food did people eat on the prairie? (fish, rabbit, cornmeal, milk, candy, potatoes, goose, corn, plums)

For Grades 5 – 8:

  •  Most of the families living near the Ingals were of what nationality? (Norwegian)
  • Why do you think the “Homestead Act” appealed to them? (starving in Norway, free, good land)
  • What state were the Ingals moving to? (Minnesota)
  • What dangers did the Ingals face? (leeches, wild cows with dangerous horns, unruly oxen, storms, out in the cold, creek could be dangerous)
  • What chores did the children do? (milked cow, took cow to the herd, picked fruit)
  • What chores did the adults do? (cooked, cleaned, sewed, planted, harvested, built house, mended house, fished, hunted, stacked hay, cared for children)
  • What things did the girls want for Christmas? (candy, dresses, a coat)
  • What did they get instead? (horses)
  • Why?  (Their family needed them; they couldn’t afford to get the girls clothes and still buy horses)
  • Why did it take so long to have a wood house? (trees were scarce, had to work for a long time to have the money to buy wood)
  • How far did the girls walk to school? (2 ½ miles)
  • What happened to a student who misbehaved in class? (Punished with a ruler)
  • The Ingals often spoke of their “lean to”.  Look up pictures on the internet by typing in the words “Pioneer Lean to” under google images:


K – 2: Draw your own picture of the Muldie family living in a sod house.  Would you enjoy living in a sod house for a week?  Write the answer to this question at the bottom of your picture.

3 – 4: Draw a picture of a sod house.  What do you think were the three hardest things the Muldie boys faced while living on the prairie?  Why?  Write three short paragraphs to explain your answer.

5 – 8:  Do the following:

Copyright March 27th, 2016 by Gwen Fredette

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Booker T. Washington

Week 5: Booker T. Washington


Read K – 4: Booker T. Washington by Suzanne Slade

5 – 6:  Booker T. Washington (Journey to Freedom) by Don Troy

7 – 8: Booker T. Washington (Journey to Freedom) by Don Troy AND “Atlanta Compromise” speech:


  • T/F Booker T. Washington was born a slave. (T)
  • How was Booker freed from slavery? (Civil War ended; Emancipation Proclamation)
  • How was Booker able to attend school? (worked hard doing labor first in mines and later at Hampton Institute as a janitor so he could go to classes)
  • What was the name of the school Booker became principal of? (Tuskegee Normal School)
  • What was the building like? (a shack)
  • What skills did the school teach? (brick laying & printing)
  • How did Booker become famous? (gave speech in Atlanta, Georgia)
  • How did his book, Up from Slavery, change people’s beliefs? (People began to think differently about education and jobs for African Americans.  The book brought more money and students to the Tuskegee Institute.)

Questions for Grades 5 & up:

  • What speech by Booker has been regarded as one of the most famous and important speeches in U.S. history? (Atlanta Compromise)
  • Who was Booker’s real father? (unknown white man)
  • Who was Booker’s stepfather? (Washington Ferguson)
  • T/F Booker believed in the importance of hard work. (T)
  • What standard classes did Tuskegee teach? (English & math)
  • What happened to Booker’s first two wives? (both died shortly after childbirth)
  • Why was it unusual that Booker was asked to speak at the Exposition in Atlanta? (first black person to speak to a white audience)
  • How did people react to the speech? (white southerners applauded, northerners applauded, many blacks supported the speech)
  • What honors were given to Booker for his speeches and his role as spokesperson for African Americans? (invited to the White House and palace of the Queen of England, received an honorary master’s degree from Harvard, invited to mansions of millionaires, invited to university campuses)
  • T/F Segregation was a big problem during Washington’s life? (T)
  • T/F Washington spoke out against Segregation. (F)
  • What famous black man was a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute for many years? (George Washington Carver)
  • How did white Southerners feel about Booker dining at the White House? (upset, felt blacks and whites shouldn’t eat together)


K – 1: Booker T. Washington coloring page:

2 – 3:  Booker T. Washington:

4 – 6: Read the summary of Booker’s life on this page:  Then complete the following worksheets:

7 – 8:  Booker T. Washington’s speech at Atlanta was applauded many by southern whites, northern whites, and African Americans.  In essay format, discuss why these groups agreed with his speech.  Reflecting on what you’ve learned about the Ku Klux Klan, discuss why some southerners and African Americans might have been upset by his speech.


Copyright March 17th, 2016 by Gwen Fredette

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Great Chicago Fire

Week 4: The Great Chicago Fire


Read K – 3: The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 by Kay Melchisedech Olson

4 – 6:  The Great Chicago Fire by Janet McHugh OR The Story of the Chicago Fire by Conrad Stein OR I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis  (If you read this third book, be sure to read “Walking in Oscar’s Footsteps” and “Questions and Answers about the Chicago Fire and More” at the end of the book.)

7 – 8: The Great Fire by Jim Murphy


  • Why did Chicago burn so quickly? (poor houses made of wood, sidewalks made of wood, streets paved with wood)
  • Where did the fire start? (O’Leary barn)
  • What mistake did the firemen make? (went to wrong neighborhood)
  • Why were the fire fighters so tired? (there had been a drought and they had had to battle many fires in the previous days; they were exhausted and hadn’t gotten enough sleep)
  • Did people die in the fire? (yes, over 300)
  • How did the fire finally stop? (it started to rain)
  • T/F It was about 50 years before Chicago was finally rebuilt. (F)

Questions for Grades 7 – 8:

  • Who was blamed for the fire? (Catherine O’Leary, firefighters)
  • Did reporters present information on the fire in an unbiased way? (no)


K – 3: Create a shadow box of the Great Chicago Fire.   If you like you can type the words “Great Chicago Fire” on google images for ideas of how things might have looked then.

4 – 6: Write your own short story of a character or family trapped in a building during the Chicago Fire.

7 – 8: Reporters during the time of the Chicago fire often did not just report the facts – they often made the O’Learys, firefighters, or “the Irish” scapegoats for the start or spread of the fire.  Why do you think it was tempting to place the blame on someone?  How do you think the fire started?  Do you believe newspaper reporters of today look for scapegoats, stretch the truth, try to influence their readers, etc.?  Or do they just report the facts?  Write an essay addressing all of these topics.

Copyright March 8th, 2016 by Gwen Fredette



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Susan B. Anthony

Week 3: Susan B. Anthony


Read K – 3: Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Women’s Rights by Deborah Hopkinson OR Susan B. Anthony by Alexandra Wallner 

4 – 5:  Fighting for Equal Rights: A Story about Susan B. Anthony by Maryann Weidt 

6 – 8: Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Women’s Rights by Pamela Levin OR Susan B. Anthony: Daring to Vote by Barbara Parker



  • What things couldn’t a woman do during Susan B. Anthony’s life?  (Couldn’t vote, own land, be a boss)
  • What is woman’s suffrage? (the right to vote for women)
  • What did Susan do on election day in 1872?  (She went and voted even though it was against the law.)
  • What is Susan most famous for? (Her many speeches urging for changes in government so women would be considered equal with men.)
  • Did women finally gain the right to vote in her lifetime? (No, not until 1920; She died in 1906.)

Questions for Grades 6 – 8:

  • Why was Susan arrested? (for voting; it was against the law for women)
  • What religious group was Susan’s parents a part of? (Quakers)
  • What was the temperance movement? (Movement to oppose consumption of alcohol)
  • T/F Quakers believed in equality of the sexes. (T)
  • T/F Quakers believed in equality of races. (T)
  • Why did Daniel Anthony start his own school? (so girls could learn math as well as boys)
  • Name some of the jobs Susan held? (worked at mill, as a teacher, speaker)
  • What were abolitionists? (People who wanted to abolish slavery.)
  • How did Susan feel about slavery? (against it; joined abolitionists)
  • Who was Susan’s partner in the Women’s movement? (Elizabeth Cady Stanton)
  • T/F Everyone agreed with Susan’s and Elizabeth’s views on women’s equality? (F – many people insulted her and threw things at her as she gave speeches)
  • T/F Susan often traveled  50 to 100 miles a day to make speeches. (T)
  • Which amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote? (19th)


K – 3: Susan B. Anthony printable mini-book:

4 – 5: Susan B. Anthony worksheet:

6 – 8: Do this Susan B. Anthony worksheet: And then complete this Opponents of Women’s Suffrage worksheet: opponents women’s suffrage


Copyright March 2nd, 2016 by Gwen Fredette


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