Posted in Things to Do, Places to Go

Nova Scotia 2021 March Break Camps and Activities

Looking for Nova Scotia 2021 March Break Camps and activities? Here’s what’s going on for children and families during March Break across mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, March 15-19.


March Break Splash of Colour Art Trail
Halifax Waterfront Art & Mural Trail
Bundle up, get outside and head waterside along the Halifax waterfront to explore and find more than 15 works of art that will add a ‘Splash of Colour’ to your day… and your cheeks! Use this handy map to embark on your self-guided adventure as you meander and stroll from end to end of the 4km Halifax boardwalk. 

NSCAD March Break Camps Online
Brushstrokes & Beyond (Ages 11-13, Mon-Fri 10am-noon)
Comics (Ages 8-10, Mon-Fri 10am-noon)
Illustration (Ages 11-13, Mon-Fri 1-3pm)
Mini Box Town (Ages 8-10, Mon-Fri 1-3pm))
Web and Graphic Design (Ages 14-18, Mon-Fri 10am-noon)

Ross Creek March Break Art Camps
For ages 4-16. March 15-19 from 9am-5pm.$70 per day or $325 for all 5 days Lunch and snacks provided at no extra cost. Bus service is an additional $15 per day or $70 per week.
Many different programs to choose from, including msuic, space, scultping, comics, fashion, photography, and more.


March Break Activites at Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre
Baking Tea Biscuits
March 13, 2:30-3:30pm. Free.
Ms. June will share her tried and tested tea biscuit recipe along with useful baking tips. Feel free to share your own recipe.
Family Scavenger Hunt
March 18, noon-1pm. Free.
A neighbourhood walk and a fun scavenger hunt. Join in on your own or with others to seek out local landmarks and spot nature’s beauty as we enjoy the neighbourhood.
Healthy Snacks on the Run
March 18, 2:30-3:30pm. Free
Come and learn how to make Amy’s tasty snacks that are perfect for busy days! Don’t forget your storage containers.
Rainbow Textured Art
March 19, 10-11am. Free.
Enjoy creating with different mediums like gouache, markers, oil pastels, watercolour and more. This sensory art session is great for all ages and will explore colour through various materials.
Winter Sledding
March 19, 1-2:30pm. Free.
Bundle up for sledding down the hill outside of the George Dixon building.

CEED Juniorpreneur Camp
Halifax – Bayers Road
Developing Your Online Business
Ages 8-14, March 15-19, 9am-4pm. $180 snacks & Friday lunch included.
Engage in activities involving teamwork, innovation, critical-thinking, risk-taking and leadership. Campers will calculate costs, earn revenue, and enjoy the fruits of their labour, retaining their profits while they learn the challenges of running their own business. Participants will develop new skills and hone their existing ones as they learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Hatfield Farm Cowboy Adventures – March Break Family Bubble Roundup
Hammonds Plains
Families. Available March 13th-21, 11:30am-3:30pm.
Pricing starts at $199+ for up to 10 people. Additional people over 10 is $19.99+ per person.
Family bubble round-ups are mini round ups just for your family! Available rides leave the farm every 15 minutes starting at 11:30  ending at 3:30. They are 1 1/2 hour adventures back to Fort Clayton. With all you can eat hotdogs and beverages. There are ziplines, playgrounds, horseshoe toss and more! PLUS! You get a full day admission to the petting pens and playground at the farm.

Kitchen Door Cooking Classes
Knife to Meet You – The Kids Cook Supper Club Virtual Cooking Class
March 17, 5:30-6:30pm, ages 9-15
Pizza – The Kids Cook Supper Club Virtual Cooking Class
March 18, 5:30-6:30pm, ages 9-15

March Break Activities at Your Local Library
See your local library branch for what’s happening in your area or click on the link above to find yours.


Enjoy museum visits March 15-19.

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
Open Mon-Sun, 10am-4pm.

Museum of Natural History
Explore the wonders of Nova Scotia’s land and sea at the Museum of Natural History. From an eagle’s nest to the ocean floor, there’s something for everyone.

Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
March 13-21
Participate in family-friendly activities, including:

  • A Seek-And-Find activity.
  • Staff Demos at a Distance in our Franconia and Wireless workshops (located on the second floor in our Age of Steam and Cunard exhibit). You’ll see how traditional and inspired maritime crafts are made and how some traditional games are played!
  • Wanted! Can you find where Pete the Pirate is? (642 kB PDF) (Hint: He hides in various places and spaces, is pretty sneaky. Don’t catch him, just notify staff when you see him!)
  • Visit our numerous exhibits on the first and second floors, with a beautiful view of our Halifax Harbourfront!
  • Start and end your museum visit with a friendly chat with Merlin the Macaw our colourful museum mascot!

PLUS virtual March Break at home activities.

Museum of Industry
Here you will find technology, steam engines and locomotives, cars and coal mining. Children will love the hands-on fun, the trains, and the demos.

Fundy Geological Museum
Displays an ancient world and some of the oldest dinosaur bones in Canada. Meet some of the ancient creatures that lived here millions of years ago: the world’s first reptiles, early dinosaurs, giant dragonflies, an ancestor of frogs and a sow-bug-like creature as long as a baseball bat. Explore mineral treasures of Nova Scotia exposed when the great Fundy tides washed away the sea cliffs. See a collection of beautiful amethyst and agate gem stones.

Black Loyalist Heritage Centre
Learn the story of the world’s largest free African population outside of Africa, in the late 18th century in Nova Scotia. Enjoy the view of Birchtown Bay when you climb up the Shaw Turret, which commemorates all Black Loyalist communities in Nova Scotia. Enter the Centre’s Lindsay Gallery and immerse yourself in the multimedia presentation of the Black Loyalist journey from Africa to the American colonies, then to Nova Scotia and back to Africa. Explore the virtual copy of the Carlton’s Book of Negroes and search for an ancestor who may have experienced part of this incredible journey.

Firefighters’ Museum of Nova Scotia
Discover the history of firefighting in this province. See the types of fire engines used from the 1800s to the 1930s. Marvel at antique hand-drawn and operated engines such as Canada’s oldest horse-drawn steam engine, an 1863 Amoskeag Steamer. Take the wheel of a 1933 Chev Bickle pumper and see collections of antique toy fire engines, shoulder crests, patches and badges from fire departments around the world.


Discovery Centre March Break Camps
March 15-19
Science Fun for Everyone
Ages 5-7: $250 non members; $230 members
Spend the day getting curious about STEAM! Through fun, minds-on activities, campers will discover the science in the world (and space) around them!
Digital Discovery
Ages 8-12. Registration: $275 non members; $250 members
Join us for an incredible camp experience, encouraging curiosity while increasing confidence in technical skills and supporting collaboration with peers. Explore a variety of ICT topics including video game development, coding robotics and hardware.


Dalhousie University Camps
March 15-19 half-day camps for kids and teens
Climbing Skills
Ages 8-14. $210, 9-11:30am
Tigers Co-ed Basketball Program
8:30-11:30am for ages 8-11 and 1:00-4:00pm for ages 12-15. $225
Tigers Co-ed Volleyball Program
Gr 4-6, 9-11:30am
G4 7-9, 9-11:30am or 1-3:30pm

Horseback Riding Camp
Todd Hill Farm, Oakfield
March 15-19, $400 plus HST
Daily riding lessons, trail rides, horse care, mounted and unmounted games, horse safety, hands-on practice, pool time.

Skating at the Emera Oval
Pre-registration required.

Ski/Snowboard at Ski Ben Eoin
Ben Eoin, Cape Breton
March Break extended hours: March 15-20th, 9am-9pm

YMCA Day Camps
All Across Nova Scotia – contact the YMCA near you, or click on the link above to find yours.


Neptune Theatre School March Break Camps
March 15-19
Ages 4-15+

**Do you know of an activity that I have missed? Let me know and I will add it to the list of Nova Scotia 2021 March Break camps and activities. Thanks!**

Love, Luck &

Posted in Resources

Black Friday Deals for Homeschoolers 2020

Check out these terrific Black Friday Deals for homeschoolers this 2020 year (as well as Cyber Monday)! I’ll be adding to this page as more deals crop up over the weekend, so be sure to check back.

My Homeschool Coaching Black Friday Deals

Free Digital Homeschool Organization Pack with Coaching Call till Dec 4

3 Homeschool Coaching Calls for the Price of 2! Plus bonus till Dec 4

My Favourite Black Friday Deals for Homeschoolers

Compass Classroom: Up to 40% off Nov 27-30

ProWritingAid grammar checker: Up to 50% off til Nov 30

Maestro Classics Sale: CDs and activity booklets

Kids Cook Solo Program for ages 8+ Half Price until Dec 2

The Well-Trained Mind: 40% on all PDF and MP3 products Nov 30-Dec 1 only

Erin Condren Lesson Planners & more: 30% off Nov 27 & 30

Mondly Languages Lifetime Subscription (all languages): only $60 US with code BFSAVE40

Applied Math & Statistics Toolkit: Pay between $1.32-$19.94

Homeschool in the Woods: Hands-on history bundles on sale Nov 27-30

Make Over Your Mornings Course: Only $8.50

Make Over Your Evenings Course: Only $8.50

Mathletics: 40% off with code FRIDAY40

Craftsy Courses: 60% off with code BLKFRIDAY60

The Great Courses: Free trial + 20% off til Nov 30

See the Light Art: all video courses & workshops are 35-40% off


Rocketbook: 25% off these reusable, uploadable notebooks etc.

Amanda Bennett Unit Studies: 50% off with code THANKFUL 2020

classical academic press

Classical Academic Press: Nov 23-Dec 4

More Black Friday Deals for Homeschoolers 25% off sitewide

Funschooling: BOGO with code BlackFridayFunSchool til Nov 30

The Waldock Way Unit Studies (e.g. Harry Potter): 30% off

KiwiCo Crates: Up to 4 months free with code MERRY


Veritas Press: 20% off with code BlackFriday til Nov 30th

Music in our Homeschool: 20% off courses & printables

Mel Science: up to 3 months free on subscriptions

Jus’ Classical: 50% off all courses, ebooks, patterns with code BLACKFRIDAY2020

The Crafty Classroom: 25% off with code BLACK25 til Nov 30

Oak Meadow: Digital curricula 50% off

True North Homeschool Academy: 10% off single-semester classes with code THKFL10 Nov 27-29

Generations Christian Discipleship Curriculum: 20-50% off Nov 30 only

Know of any other Black Friday deals for homeschoolers I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add them!

Love, Luck &


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few bucks to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks so much for your support!

Posted in Homeschool Information

It’s Homeschool Registration Time in Nova Scotia

If you have already decided to homeschool your child this year, it’s homeschool registration time. September 20th is the deadline to register your child in Nova Scotia. It’s easy to register! Just follow these steps:

1) Click HERE to download the Nova Scotia Department of Education registration form.

All children ages 5 to 16 (re Amendment to Education Act Regulations, Section 3(1)) must be registered by September 20th of the coming school year (although if you’re starting mid-year this doesn’t apply). Registration must include:

in the case of previous public school experience, the last grade level attained; in the case of previous home education experience, the program level of achievement and estimated equivalent public school grade level; and identification of the proposed home education program” (Regulations Section 39 (2))

2) Fill out (online or on paper) your registration form. If you are registering your child for the first time (they have never been in a Nova Scotia school before), the Ministry will demand a copy of your child’s birth certificate, so you may want to include one with your registration.

In the Regulations, reference is only made to providing your children with an “educational program”. There are no stipulations as to what the “educational program” must be and can be whatever you feel is appropriate to give your child a well-rounded education. So, don’t agonize over filling out the registration form because this gives you complete freedom to choose whatever materials (religious or secular) you want and to design your own program that meets your child’s needs.

If you are using a curriculum that you purchased, you can say yes, your curriculum is commercially available, fill out the name and level of the curriculum and then your registration ends there – no need to fill out all the little subject boxes, although you could add the name of the curriculum in each box if you like. And don’t forget to sign it (they will send it back for a signature – ask me how I know)!

3) Snail mail or send your registration digitally.

All done! Homeschool registration time doesn’t have to be stressful.

Can you decide to homeschool in the middle of the school year?

Yes! Simply fill out the registration form and send it in whenever you decide to start. The September 20th deadline is just for those who have decided at the beginning of the school year.

For more information on starting to homeschool, check out the Getting Started Page and grab your handy dandy Getting Started Homeschooling Checklist while you’re there. And if you’re in the Halifax area, come to the Homeschool Informational Tea this Saturday!

Hope to see you there!

Love, Luck &


Posted in Homeschool Information, Resources

Yes You Can Homeschool and This Can Help!

The fact you’re here, reading this article tells me that you care about your child’s education. I know it can feel overwhelming for a parent considering homeschooling. There are so many things to consider, so many things to do, and what seems like so little time until school starts. So, where do you start?

Just start with what matters most to you. Make one small change at a time. Take one step at a time. You don’t have to get everything right to make a meaningful impact on your child. The fact is, homeschooling doesn’t have to take up a lot of time and it doesn’t need to cost a lot, either.

You are your child’s first and best teacher. You are smart, capable, and the best person to determine your family’s most important homeschool goals and create a path for your child’s success. I know you can do this! And I’m here to help if you get stuck or need more encouragement.

**PLEASE NOTE: The following sale is over – these resources are no longer available at 97% off although they are available individually if you’d like to look them up. Click here for some of the curriculum options out there to choose from**

Looking at all the resources out there and the cost and not sure where to start? I have great news! Right now, you can get homeschool inspiration and resources in one place with The Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle. Get 51 eBooks, eCourses, and printables to help you homeschool – from preschool through high school! It’s all 97% off for 5 days only.

Honestly, it’s a no-brainer. Even if you only homeschool this year and only use a few resources, you’ll get your money’s worth. The cost is just $29.50 US and most resources are worth more than that when you purchase them separately. Many of these resources are for you, the parent, such as the “Techie Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Digital Student Projects” eCourse (reg $24.00) that helps you learn to create digital projects that fit for any lesson plan. And “5 Days to Your Best Homeschool YearseCourse from my friend Ana Willis (reg $77.00) that shows you how to experience a more peaceful, joyful, organized, and smooth homeschool journey!

When you grab the bundle by Tuesday at midnight, you get this amazing bonus:

But wait, there’s more! (Haha, that’s so cliché). If you purchase via my link, simply forward me your receipt from the folks at Ultimate Bundles and I’ll gift you a copy of my Digital Homeschool Organization Pack. It’ll even help you organize your bundle resources so you don’t forget about them. It currently sells for $15 but it’s yours free with purchase. Simply send that receipt to [email protected]

And if you try the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle and don’t find anything you like (which I don’t think will happen!) you do have a 30 day money back guarantee.

Click below to learn more about the Ultimate Homeschooling Bundle!

Countdown Timer

Love, Luck &


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few bucks to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources, Homeschool Information

Can You Homeschool on a Shoestring?

Potential homeschool parents are always asking if homeschooling is expensive and how to make it more affordable. So, can you homeschool on a shoestring? Absolutely!

Entire homeschool curricula can be found online, as can books, games, worksheets, you name it. I don’t know how homeschoolers did it before the advent of the personal computer! To peruse a whole bunch of homeschool freebies I’ve found, you can click on Free Homeschooling Resources to see a list of everything I’ve shared in the past. And here is a list of some of the resources I’ve found to help you homeschool on a shoestring.

Online resources

Physical and local resources

Other than resources on the internet, here are some simple things we do or use to save money in our homeschool…

  • Library – we do not buy books we can find at the library – I use our local library’s website to search from home and can take a trip to the library weekly. Many books are also available in eBook format.
  • Dollar store – there are so many things we can use at the dollar store, from bristol board and tape, to books and workbooks
  • Free exchange or swap group – we used to belong to our local Freecycle group before it closed down and then joined a Facebook exchange group. We’ve received all sorts of great books and freebies as well as gifted unwanted items to others.
  • Re-usable curricula – we have generally use Tapestry of Grace as our core curriculum. Once you’ve bought all 4 years of the program, you have the outline for all 13 years of school, for as many children as you have. Plus, I have always saved the curricula I use with my eldest to use with my youngest when she gets to that level.
    The Well-Trained Mind is a similar curriculum (without a Christian world view), outlining all 13 grades, with many books available at the library.

There is also a book named Homeschooling on a Shoestring that you may want to check out for more ideas.

What’s your favourite resource for homeschooling on a shoestring? Please let me know what I’ve missed in the comments below!

Love, Luck &


Getting started homeschooling? Click the button below for your free checklist to help you get started!

Please note: This article was originally published in August 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few bucks to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Homeschool Information, Resources

Learn about Delight Directed Learning and Geek Schooling

In case you didn’t know, in addition to this website, I also run another website, Geek Schooling. I started it after having posted a lot about geek schooling here on Homeschooling in Nova Scotia and wanting to branch out and reach a wider audience beyond our province.

This week, I appeared on Shout Your Cause with Sally Hendrick. I had a such a great time chatting about my favourite topics. We discussed delight directed learning and geek schooling, including homeschooling during the pandemic, and more. Here it is! Just click the play button to watch below.

Do you incorporate delight directed learning in your homeschool? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you’re interested in the free mini-course I mentioned, grab the Geek Schooling mini-course here. Enjoy!

Love, Luck &


Posted in Homeschool Events

Canadian Homeschool Conference April 14 to 18 2020

We’re stuck in our homes. Homeschool conferences won’t be held in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick this spring (I was going to both of them so that makes me feel sad). Many parents are home with their kids for the first time, looking for homeschool information. Whether you’re a new or experienced homeschooler, we can all use encouragement during this difficult time. Enter my friends and fellow homeschool moms Ana Willis and Cori Dean. They’ve put together a new Canadian homeschool conference, yay!

Check out the first ever Canadian Homeschool Symposium this week! It starts Tuesday. And it’s designed to encourage, equip, and inform (and cheer up) homeschool parents in Canada and beyond.

The workshops at this new Canadian homeschool conference will be on a wide variety of subjects from the early years to high school and everything in between. And check out all the amazing speakers, including Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, Donna Ward of Northwoods Press, Peter Stock of HSLDA Canada, and Diane Geerlinks of NILD Canada.

I’m speaking on Wednesday and the conference starts Tuesday, April 14th, so register now and enjoy 22 live speakers plus lifetime access to all workshop videos on demand. Oh and I almost forgot, you’ll get a virtual gift bag of freebies and there are giveaways at this Canadian homeschool conference, too. Don’t miss out!

What speaker are you looking forward to most? Let me know in the comments below (it’s okay if it’s not me LOL)!

Love, Luck &


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy I make a few bucks to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Homeschool Information, Things to Do, Places to Go

I Hope You Dance in Your Homeschool

During week 3 of our new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m bringing you 5 days of fun schooling ideas for your home.

I have dance on my mind. For dancers, this is usually competition season. My daughter is usually preparing for exams, recitals, and perhaps a competition or two at this time of year. I got in on a competition myself back in 2016 and competed in a big studio number on stage with my daughter. Here we are backstage at the competition:

dance in your homeschool

When did you last dance with your children? Whether you are a trained dancer or can only step side-to-side to the music, you can include dance in your homeschool day. There are many amazing benefits to dance! It’s also an easy way to add physical education inside the home, especially on rainy or snowy days when you don’t want to go for a walk.

Here are some ideas for having fun with dance in your homeschool.

Moving to the Music

Pop some orchestral music on and hand your each person in your family a scarf to move with to the music. You can throw the scarf, sway with the scarf, make circles with the scarf, or anything the music moves you to do. The William Tell Overture finale is excellent for this, as is Holst’s The Planets, or even your favourite movie soundtrack. This is especially fun with young children.

Enjoy Historical Dance in Your Homeschool

How did people dance from the historical period you’re studying? If you’re studying the 17th or 18th century, try a Minuet. If you’re studying Modern times, have some fun with the twist, the polka, or the bunny hop! Or put on some music from your youth and show your children how you used to tear up the dance floor in your day.

dance in your homeschool
Enjoying Colonial Dance at the Fortress of Louisbourg

Cultural Dance in Your Homeschool

Are you studying a different culture? Learn the Mexican Hat Dance if you’re studying Mexico (here’s a fun way to learn the Mexican hat dance with young children), or some Indian Bollywood to go along with your studies of India.

dance in your homeschool
Bollywood Dance at Disney World

Dance In Your Homeschool with Gaming Consoles

Do you have a Wii U or a Switch? Enjoy “Just Dance” or the Wii or Switch Fit. Parents can dance too, it’s a hoot and it’s great exercise! (We like to pull Just Dance out for birthday parties and often the parents will dance in the background to some of their favourites while the children play).

Learn a Specific Style of Dance in Your Homeschool

Do you or your children want to explore a specific style of dance? Here are some of our favourites and some online resources.


Check out BreakSpace NS on Instagram, where my daughter and other bboys and bgirls have been sharing some quick, easy beginner tutorials. And check out VincaniTV on YouTube which offers free breakdance tutorials. My daughter says BBoy Vincanity has been around for a long time and is the introduction to the art for many young breakers.

Tap Dance

dance in your homeschool - kimberly tap dancing

Check out this tap visual dictionary website. Click on the links and a video will show you how to do each step, starting with the easiest ones and progressing in difficulty. And be sure to join the amazing Debbie Allen on Instagram as she teaches free tap classes during the pandemic crisis.

Tap has always been my favourite – this photo is me at age 16.


Here is a great ballet site, The American Ballet Theatre Ballet Dictionary which has definitions and photos for everything ballet.


Jazz is one of my daughter’s favourite dance styles. She’s pictured at left, dancing in her Jazz Initiative classes. Check out The Building Blocks of Jazz on Bluprint. It’s absolutely free until April 16, 2020.

More Dance in Your Homeschool Resources

For a roundup of free online classes available during the pandemic crisis, check out Dancing Alone Together on Instagram.

Whatever the style of dance you’re interested in, there are videos and books available at the library (and on their website) or YouTube videos online. And Bluprint offers a number of online dance classes (which are free until April 16, 2020). Of course, nothing can compare to lessons at a terrific, local dance studio, whether it’s for your children, yourself, or both. Enjoy classes at the studio then have fun practising daily as part of your homeschool day (once the pandemic crisis is over)!

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens.
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…
I hope you dance,
I hope you dance.”

~ from “I Hope You Dance” – song by Lee Ann Womack

Do you dance in your homeschool? What online resources are you enjoying? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &


Please note: This article was originally published in April 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I may make a few bucks to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Homeschool Information

Fun Schooling with the Abacus

During week 3 of our new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m bringing you 5 days of fun schooling ideas for your home.

Did you know that not only can an abacus help a child with math, but it can also make learning fun? What is an abacus? Do you imagine one of these?


That’s more of a toy and can’t be effectively used for calculations any more complex than addition and subtraction. An abacus is an ancient calculator that has been used for thousands of years. It is still in use today, especially in Asia and the Middle East. The word abacus originally comes from the Greek word abax for “counting board”. The Greeks used boards with sand on them to draw out their equations. The Romans used boards with grooves and beads or rocks. The abacus we are more familiar with originated in Asia.

Did you know the abacus, especially the soroban, can be used not only for addition and subtraction, but also multiplication, division, and also square roots? In 1946, a person using the soroban outperformed an electric calculating machine! The abacus can be a useful tool in your homeschool. It is visual and tactile, and its usage can be transferred to mental math easily. Once a child has done calculations repeatedly using the abacus, they can start to visualize them without using the abacus – math calculations can become a mental picture.

The Chinese abacus has 7 beads on each rod, with 2 on the top and 5 on the bottom, separated by one horizontal beam.

stock image courtesy of catwoman1
stock image courtesy of catwoman1

The Japanese abacus is called a soroban and has 5 beads on each rod, with only one on the top and 4 on the bottom, divided by one horizontal beam (the reckoning bar). It has at least 9 rods, and the number of rods is always an odd number.

Each abacus is set to zero when all of the beads above the bar are up (not in contact with the reckoning bar) and all the beads below the bar are down (not in contact with the reckoning bar). The units rods on the Japanese abacus are the rods with the dots on them. The units rod on the Chinese abacus is the one on the far right. For either abacus, on the units rod, if you raise one bead below the bar up to the reckoning bar, that represents 1. Two raised up to the reckoning bar represents 2 and so on. A bead above the bar lowered to the reckoning bar represents 5. To the left of the units rod, you will have the tens. A bead above the bar lowered to the reckoning bar in the tens rod represents 50. Two beads below the bar raised up to the reckoning bar represent 20, three represent 30, and so on. On the soroban, you can also show decimal places, to the right of any units rod.

Your child can make an abacus out of Popsicle sticks! Here’s a great how-to make a Chinese abacus at Simple Kids Crafts.  Consider adjusting the directions to make a Japanese soroban instead, because it’s easier to use and handle.

Once you have made or bought your own abacus, you can start using it with your children to make homeschool math fun! Here is an article on How to Learn Math with an Abacus.  (Please note they are using a Chinese abacus in the article, but you can easily follow the steps with a soroban as well.) Your children will have fun clicking those beads for a change instead of the usual pencil and paper. It sure beats counting on your fingers!

Start with addition and subtraction and then give multiplication and division a try. You may find your child memorizing the patterns each number makes. Once this starts happening, they may be able to use the abacus in their mind. Here is a handy, step-by step abacus lesson plan designed for Grades 4 to 6, complete with worksheets. (Please note it’s on the wayback machine since PBS has taken it down from its website, but you can still download the worksheets).

If you would prefer your child learn about the abacus and mental math from someone else, you could try a UCMAS centre. UCMAS has locations all over the world and their programs are for ages 4 and up. Unfortunately, the only one in Canada at this time is in Mississauga.

Are you having fun schooling with the abacus and trying one out or making one in your homeschool! Let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &


Please note: This article was originally published in April 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Posted in Homeschool Information, Resources

Spelling Fun in Your Homeschool

During week 3 of our new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m bringing you 5 days of fun schooling ideas for your home. Most of the ideas can be enjoyed now, but a few you can look forward to once things return to normal.

Spelling doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. Spelling can be fun! Toss those work sheets and spelling tests aside and give some of these resources a try for spelling fun in your homeschool. Spelling is important. Because spell check doesn’t catch everything!


SpellQuizzer is great for any age, especially if your child loves to type and hates to print or write. Drill spelling words on the computer by recording the words (and a sample sentence or definition for your child), OR let your spouse or a special guest do the recording for even more fun. My daughter used to adore being a special guest for her big brother’s spelling words. You can also use it to drill vocabulary words, foreign language words, and more! Learn more, check out our SpellQuizzer review and get your free 30-day trial here.

The Homophone Machine

Homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) are fun to learn about and they’re even more fun with the free online homophone lesson. Check out the free homophone machine at the bottom of the page! Your elementary age child will enjoy typing in words and phrases and seeing all the homophones appear. Try all the wonderful ideas and games suggested on the page for even more spelling fun.

Board Games for Spelling Fun

Board games play a big part in our everyday homeschool. Of course, Scrabble can be a great help to practise spelling. But there are many more games for spelling fun, such as Pick Two (which I adore) or Boggle. What’s your favourite?

Rummy Roots for Spelling Fun

Card games can add fun to your homeschool day, too! We’ve owned and used the Rummy Roots card game for many years. It is recommended in The Well-Trained Mind. We find it a terrific help for spelling words with Latin roots, studying Latin, and expanding vocabulary.

At first, when our kids were younger, we used it as a matching card game – simply matching Latin/Greek roots to their English definitions. Then we began playing the game properly – making compound words out of the various Latin and Greek roots, at first with two roots, and then with two or more. Recommended for ages eight to adult, I find anyone who reads well can play it.

Spelling Bees and Spelling Bee Resources

I wish I could have participated in more spelling bees when I was a child – I only had the chance to enjoy one spelling bee in my Grade 4 classroom. My son enjoyed competing in spelling bees when he was elementary school age, although I don’t think he ever quite enjoyed spelling as much as I did.

Spelling bees aren’t as proliferous as they once were, but they are still around. Check out your nearest spelling bee and use their resources to study! Start studying now and consider entering the Spelling Bee of Canada in future. Even if your child doesn’t want to compete in a spelling bee, you can join the Scripps Spelling Bee Word Club for free spelling bee materials!

To practise, let the child who just can’t stop moving jump rope, bounce on an exercise ball, or jump on a mini trampoline for some extra fun while they spell. The spelling words will even stick in their brain better with the exercise!

Learning to Spell for Little Ones

There are many enjoyable resources available for your little ones who are learning to read and spell. My daughter thoroughly enjoyed The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading. Spelling rules are so easy to remember when sung to the well-known tunes included in the program as “Rule Tunes.” And there are many more spelling games, including Bingo.

And check out the JingleSpells spelling songs CD by Talking Fingers. It includes 20 incredibly well done tunes. They’re catchy and fun to sing along with, including everything from country to rock.

Are you making spelling fun in your homeschool? What resource makes it fun for you? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &


Please note: This article was originally published in April 2017 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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