Extension Ideas for "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?"

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Extension Ideas for "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?"

Have you ever finished a book and found that you weren’t quite ready for it to end? Maybe the book was so good that you just don’t want it to be over, or maybe the book sparked so many questions in your mind that you feel the need to satisfy your curiosity.

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?My family loves to take intriguing books and explore the ideas and themes to the fullest extent. This last year, my older kids and I went through the book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? It quickly became one of our favorites of HBL F, and my kids were eager to extend and try out some of the ideas they encountered in the book.

The great thing about book extensions is that they are not necessary, so don’t ever allow add-ons to be a source of stress. If you aren’t enjoying the extensions or your kids feel no desire to go farther, just trust the book to be enough and move on. Sonlight books are perfect as-is.

But if your family is like mine in that you love diving deep into thoughts and ideas, extensions are an ideal way to satisfy that extra curiosity. I’ve included a chapter recommendation for each extension, but feel free to do any of these ideas any time during or after the reading of Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?

Money, Coins, & Paper

  1. Explore the changes in our paper money system over the years. Study the changes we have made to make our money more secure. (Chapter 1)
  2. Study the two-dollar bill. What are these bills worth and why? Are they still in print? Watch this short clip to learn more. (Chapter 1)
  3. Study unusual coins and bills such as the Sacagawea coin and antique currency. Visit a coin collector as a field trip. (Chapter 1 & 4)
  4. Start your own coin collection. You can start simple and collect quarters from all 50 states, or start a collection of coins from 1920 and earlier. (Chapter 1 & 4)
  5. What does a trillion dollars look like?  Check out this link with your kids to see. (Chapter 11)


  1. Try a bartering system simulation with a few friends. Each friend should bring a few items to trade. Can you trade until you have an item more value than you had when you began? (Chapter 4)


  1. Study the rate of inflation in the United States over the past few years. If the trend continues, what will the price of a soda be in ten years? In twenty? (Chapter 3)
  2. Explore the family budget. Making sure to explain that the project is all in fun and learning, appoint one child as mayor of the family for one month. Let them know that if the family is unhappy with their performance, they will not be mayor of the family next month. Give your child a monthly amount that must sustain the family. Take out all the necessary expenses first. Then, hold a “town hall” meeting to discuss how the remaining money should be spent. The child must decide how to spend the remaining money to keep their family members happy, so they can be mayor of the family again. The idea here is to feel a small amount of pressure that a politician might experience and to consider what leaders in our community face in economic-related issues. You can keep this activity simple or make it more challenging by considering taxation on your family members to pay for the wants and needs of the family. Of course, be sure they consider how would that affect their re-appointment as mayor of the family. (Chapter 8)
  3. Interview grandparents and great-grandparents. Ask about the price of sodas and cars when they were younger. How much did they earn per hour? When did they begin to notice inflation taking place? How did inflation affect them directly? (Chapter 4)


  1. Discuss wages. Hire your child to complete a job, such as baby-sitting or housekeeping, and pay them an hourly wage. Determine the minimum wage for your job and the hours required. Also determine how you will compensate overtime. Have them calculate what they will earn in one day of work? One week? What will happen if they take a 30-minute lunch break opposed to an hour long lunch break? What will they earn if they work two hours overtime?  (Chapter 6)
  2. Discuss the national minimum wage. Based on the current federal poverty level, how many hours do minimum wage workers need to work to rise above poverty level? Consider employers. How much does a fast food employer pay a minimum wage employee for eight hours of work? If they raised their hourly pay by 6%, would the take home difference make a noticeable change in their income? How much would it cost the employer to give each employee a 6% raise? Could the employer save money by purchasing an automated kiosk instead of a paid worker?  If you are able, interview a minimum wage worker and a minimum wage employer to hear varying perspectives on this issue. (Chapter 6)
  3. Explore what might happen to a given area when a farm that employs a few hundred workers switches over to mostly automated equipment, eliminating the need for much of the manual labor. How would that affect families and cities? (Chapter 6)

Recessions and Depressions

  1. Interview people who lived through The Great Depression. How did it directly affect them? What were their thoughts during that time? How did they survive? What was the hardest part about the Depression? (Chapter 7, 10, 13)
  2. Study the Recession of 2008. What caused it? How did it affect American families? What industry suffered the most? Why is that? Did the government take the appropriate steps to correction or would you prefer a different approach? (Chapter 13)
  3. Conduct a mock stock market exercise. Study the stock market pages in the newspaper. Discuss abbreviations and meanings. Give your child a set amount of pretend money and have them choose a few stocks in which they would like to invest. Have them watch the activity on their stocks over a few days/weeks. Have they earned money or lost money? What stocks are performing well? Why? (Chapter 10)

Supply and Demand

  1. Study the law of supply and demand. Chart gasoline prices over a period of time. Notice the times when gasoline spikes in cost are many times around high demand seasons, such as vacation season or holiday season when there is a lot of widespread travel. Coincidence? I don’t think so! (Chapter 6)

Federal Reserve and National Debt

  1. Write to explain your opinion on the government printing money as needed, rather than keeping money “gold-backed.” (Chapter 4)
  2. Compare the national debt of the United States with the debt of other countries. Look for trends in the national debt. Was there a time when the debt spiked? Did it drop? Research contributing factors. (Chapter 11)
  3. Research the current Index of Economic Freedom and rank countries accordingly. Discuss why countries fall where they do on the Index. (Chapter 12)


  1. Research velocity for five major countries. Which country has the healthiest economy based on velocity? Which has the most unhealthy economy based on velocity? According to your research, is velocity a good indicator of economic health of a country? Why or why not? (Chapter 8)
  2. Consider an allowance experiment. Give your child a small one-time allowance. What are their thoughts on spending the money? Do they want to run out and buy the first thing they think of? Or do they want to save at least some of it since they aren’t sure when they will get more money? How does this change when they receive a reasonable weekly allowance? What factors might make velocity go down in an economy? What factors might make velocity go up? (Chapter 8)
  3. Let your child do the grocery shopping for a few weeks. Give them a budget and guidelines for the project (they must get a protein for each day, etc). Let them know that they can keep up to 5% of the budget if they are wise with their purchases and have that amount left over. Introduce them to the sales circulars and discuss how waiting for a price cut can be beneficial when you are able. Assist your child in deciding when to wait to purchase an item and when to stock up. Explore how this exercise illustrates velocity in a large economy. (Chapter 8)

Feel free to pick one or two fun ideas, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, challenge yourself to try them all. For even more learning opportunities around money, finance, and economics, check out The Federal Reserve Education website.

To find out more about Sonlight's unmatched Read-Alouds, and our complete book-based homeschool programs, order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

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How Homeschooling Gives Young Athletes a Massive Advantage

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How Homeschooling Gives Young Athletes a Massive Advantage

What do Tim Tebow, Serena and Venus Williams, and Bethany Hamilton all have in common? All were young athletes who took their skill to the highest level possible, excelling beyond peers in their chosen sport.

But what places them in a unique group among many other professional athletes and Olympic medal winners?

They were all homeschooled.

To professionally compete, student athletes need the flexibility to train, travel, and study. Homeschooling offers exactly that kind of flexibility so children can balance the demands of athletic goals with academic requirements.

Homeschooling is a natural choice for many parents whose children are pursuing mastery in competitive athletics as an alternative to turning their child over to a coach and trainer.

With Homeschool, Travel for Competitive Training is Easier

Professional athletes need extensive coaching input. When your child reaches the level of  traveling for training, for camps, or for extended coaching, their school does not need to get put on hold. A homeschool curriculum can travel with them. This can give your child the competitive edge since they no longer have to fit training into the summer months.

It is no surprise that many Major League Baseball players come from cities near the equator. Optimal weather means they can train year round. This geographic advantage can mean the difference between getting drafted or passed up for a player with more training time.

The same advantage is available to homeschoolers who understand the training demands it takes to becoming a upper level competitor. Education does not have to impede nor be sacrificed for your kids to train, but as a parent you don’t have to step completely out of the picture. I love that homeschooling has kept us central in our kids lives even as they have spent many hours under the training of other coaches.

Homeschooled Athletes Can Create a Schedule That Fits Their Life

I’ve read that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to reach a master level with a musical instrument. I can assume that the same can be said for athletics, competitive sports, and any other area of intensive study. For a student athlete, that's three hours of daily practice for ten years.

Given travel, schooling, sleeping, and eating, fitting in the roughly twenty-one hours a week of practice is a challenge. Being able to shift our school schedule to fit our life—through homeschooling—has been a godsend.

We chose to use Sonlight’s four-day option. In the beginning, we had longer school hours for four days and one day off to have outside lessons. As travel for athletics began to take up more of our days, we continued with a four-day week, doing our main subjects on four days and science, projects, and electives on the fifth. This schedule helped us keep our school days shorter while staying on track for all the required subjects.

The families I’ve spoken with, who have multiple athletes training at the same time, often bring their school to the gym and study between sessions. There is no shortage of curriculum setups that will fit your students learning style while giving you the flexibility to meet their goals. With Sonlight, we take the day's reading selection with us when we have a long drive, a competition, or an early game.

Since homeschooling takes considerably less time than conventional school, we can actually finish our school before lunch time even on the road. With no homeroom, assemblies, class switching, or bloated electives to fill their open hours, our students complete all of their academics in under four hours. There is no need to fill their schedule with electives because your student is living them.

If Your Student is Thinking About Training Professionally

Homeschooling is a great way to chase you child’s goals while keeping your family connected. For our family, athletics has always been a priority. The older boys continue to play baseball in college. I will never regret the crazy life we lived to make sports a priority for them while balancing school and home life.

Athletics can demand a huge amount of time. One summer, between three boys, we were washing jerseys for seven teams. My husband was coaching three of them. The seasons were long: spring league to fall ball with winter hitting in between. These were the events that turned the pages of our family calendar. With all of the driving, hours of practice, and Dad playing the role of coach, homeschooling gave us the right amount of flexibility to still function as a family while letting our boys pursue their athletic dreams.

Enjoy Life on Your Terms as a Sports Family

By homeschooling, the boys had the chance to become athletically competitive while developing the depth of character that will carry them throughout the rest of their lives. Homeschooling helped us to build strong athletes and great men. These are the reasons student athletes, Olympians, and young hopefuls alike are turning to homeschooling to help them achieve their goals without sacrificing their education.

Take advantage of our 100% guarantee. No other homeschooling company can match our Love to Learn, Love to Teach™ promise. You can order with confidence that either you will have a great year, or you will get a full refund.

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Homeschooling as a Way to Genuinely Mainstream Special Needs Kids

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Homeschooling as a Way to Genuinely Mainstream Special Needs Kids

My 11 year-old son, Phineas, has significant learning differences. The classroom model of schooling might possibly be stretched far enough to mainstream him with his peers. But his specific challenges mean that full-time inclusion in a group of students presented with fifth grade-level work isn’t best for him or them.

Our local district utilizes resource rooms for special education that would bounce Phineas between a traditional class setting and a targeted group of students, seeing special teachers and therapists on a rotating schedule throughout the week—far from the ideal solution for a child who needs strict consistency to integrate information at all.

As he will soon be aging out of elementary school, the picture gets even more muddied; special education options narrow as children age, with a pointed focus on life skills and employment training.

The Wider Gate Homeschool Offers Special Needs Children

Interestingly enough, just as the professional school system would begin the process of pointing my son away from a more well-rounded education, Sonlight’s literature-based learning is opening the doors to something much richer for Phineas.

While he still spends plenty of hours each week learning and reviewing previous information and trying to meet new baseline learning objectives, he also has the opportunity to be immersed in a rich variety of subjects:

  • folk tales
  • classical music
  • Scripture memorization
  • missionary adventures
  • whole-world geography

Special education departments in public schools cut these areas in favor of time spent drilling information that can be measured on end-of-year tests and held up to IEP goals.

But quality of life, truly, cannot be measured. For example, Phineas has developed a love for poetry through exposure and joyfully sings bits of Scripture he memorized in song thanks to Sing the Word. Neither of those count as skills, but they certainly count as something that will contribute to his joy and character as he grows!

Truly Mainstreamed with Homeschooling

In the artificial environment of a classroom, a teacher (and an aide specially assigned to my son) is tasked with creating an inclusive environment for Phineas. But that means he's tied to

  • textbooks he can’t read
  • worksheets he can’t fill out
  • activities he can’t follow

The school calls this mainstreaming.

In contrast, homeschooling is true mainstreaming—an actual picture of what it means to be folded into a group of diverse students. Learning together from the same book—whether it’s a beautiful fictionalization of history or a detailed look at the flora and fauna of a far-off country—is a great leveler. All ears tune to one thread of information, and that thread weaves the listeners together. At the end of the day, that shared experience bubbles over into creative play and exploration that all can share, regardless of cognitive differences.

A poignant example of this truth happened recently when my family revisited The Boxcar Children as a part of our newest kindergartner's Sonlight experience. While my intended audience was one child, five gathered. Phineas was among them, and he sat in rapt attention as the story unfolded over the next several days.

Each afternoon, I watched all five children, ages 3 through 11, work tirelessly on the boxcar they were assembling in our yard.

They problem solved.

  • Mom shot down our idea to bring actual dishware outside, so how can we  improvise?
  • If we needed to wash things here, where would we go?
  • How long do you think we could stay out here if we had to?

They discussed characters, emotions, and behavior.

  • Do you think Benny was scared?
  • Why didn’t Dr. Moore just tell Henry everything he knew?
  • What would have happened if Henry had told the truth about his name at the race?

They lugged logs and swept dirt floors.

Together. With no aide running interference to help Phineas synthesize the information, and no written test for everyone afterward.

The Purpose of Learning

As the mother of a son with severe special needs, I understand the pressure to push for opportunities that allow every child to meet his or her full potential. I understand the tug of the school district’s special needs program or the workbook-based curriculum that will hit, over and over, on the basics.

I understand the pull to focus on those box-checking skills, like writing, counting, and reading. But I also know that an education which focuses only on those things—an education that leaves out the real heart of life—falls short of the joy that is real learning: being able to more fully appreciate the beauty of God’s world.

Every child deserves that gift—regardless of learning differences.

To find out more about Sonlight's flexible, book-based homeschool programs, order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

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Mapping Wild Island: A Hands-on Project for My Father's Dragon

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Mapping Wild Island: A Hands-on Project for My Father's Dragon

In the book My Father’s Dragon, a selection of Sonlight’s HBL A, we follow along as a young boy named Elmer Elevator travels to the Island of Tangerina and makes his way across to Wild Island on a rescue mission to save a baby dragon from the animals who are holding him captive. The book itself includes a little map inside the front and back covers, showing the area Elmer travels, the animals he meets along the way, and the places he passes.

My two young girls, ages 5 and 6, were intrigued by the maps in the book and loved to follow along and guess where he would be going next. So we made our own three-dimensional map of the area to go along with My Father's Dragon.

Supplies for a Map of Wild Island

These are the supplies we used, but please be aware this project can be made much less expensively by making your own salt dough or homemade play dough.

  • 1 sheet of blue display board
  • pencil
  • black marker
  • the My Father’s Dragon book
  • air-dry clay (or salt dough)
  • kiddy dough (or salt dough or any type of children’s play dough)
  • kinetic sand (or any sand or brown/sand-colored dough)
  • rocks
  • assorted jungle animals, sea animals, plastic grass and trees
  • paper
  • tape
  • scissors
  • other supplies you might want: paint, paintbrushes, cut out paper animals

Mapping Vocabulary from My Father's Dragon

If there is one thing I can not resist, it’s adding educational details to whatever we do. Our My Father's Dragon mapping project made it easy! We discussed vocabulary related to geography as we created the relief map:

  • Ocean: the vast body of salt water covering about three quarters of the earth's surface.
  • River: a large natural stream of water flowing in a particular course toward a lake, ocean, or other body of water.
  • Island: an area of land smaller than a continent and surrounded by water on all sides.
  • Shore: the land beside an ocean, sea, lake, or river.
  • Beach: another name the land at the edge of a lake, ocean, or other body of water. A beach slopes gently toward the water and usually has sand or pebbles.
  • Jungle: land covered with many trees, vines, and bushes.

Mapping Wild Island: A Hands-on Project for My Father's Dragon

Making the Islands of My Father's Dragon

  1. We were able to create the ocean by using blue presentation-style display board as our base, but if you wished, you could use cardboard or posterboard painted blue.
  2. Using a pencil, we outlined the shapes of the landforms, using the book as a reference. Then we traced over the shapes using black marker.
  3. We used the air-dry clay (you can use salt dough) to create a base for our islands.
  4. Once the air-dry clay was set, we used kiddy doh in various shades of green to create the middle of the islands, laying it right over top of the clay. You can also use salt dough tinted with food coloring to create the shades you wish. We left the shoreline white at this point.
  5. Once we had most of the island covered with green to represent vegetation, we mixed kinetic sand with orange and tan kiddy dough. Once we had a blend that looked particularly sandy but with enough dough to stick to our map, we applied it along the shoreline to create a beach. We found it easiest to roll the sand mixture into snake shapes and then flatten it into place.

Creating the Jungle and Adding the Animals

  1. Using assorted plastic grasses and trees, we created a jungle for our animals to live in. We used one type of tree for the tangerine trees on Tangerina and the other type of tree for Wild Island.
  2. Using bits of kiddy dough as a bonding agent, we set small stones along a path for Elmer to hop across to Wild Island. We also affixed a whale for him to step on in the same manner.
  3. We added animals to our map, taking care to find as many that matched those in the story, but of course, we improvised at times. We added all those we could and had fun discussing whether or not other animals might be there, too. Animals in the story included a cat, whale, mouse, two wild boars, two tortoises, seven tigers, a rhinoceros, a lion and a lioness, a gorilla, six monkeys, and seventeen crocodiles. We let our imaginations make up the animals we didn't have plastic figures for although my oldest did suggest printing out paper pictures of the animals to substitute.

Finishing with Elmer and the Dragon

When we had finally finished our map, my oldest son reminded the girls and me that we had forgotten the two most important parts—Elmer and the dragon!

Using his LEGO bricks, he constructed an Elmer Elevator mini-figure while the girls and I located an orange toy dinosaur that vaguely resembled a dragon. We attempted to place air-dry clay wings on him, but they were too heavy to stay in place. Instead we cut out paper wings and taped them to his back. A thread around his neck for a string finished the ensemble!

We then added various sea animals to the board to make it look more full and realistic, and sat back and enjoyed the next chapter of our story.

Sonlight History / Bible / Literature A

My Father's Dragon is part of History / Bible / Literature A

To find out more about Sonlight's unmatched Read-Alouds, and our complete book-based homeschool programs, order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

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6 Ways to Extend Window on the World

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6 Ways to Extend “Window on the World”

Cultural geography takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? It goes well beyond the facts of physical geography—such as landforms and bodies of water—and allows us to immerse ourselves in vibrant worlds beyond our own circle of familiarity. Cultural geography celebrates people, and  draws us in to their incredibly varied stories. And that’s why I love Window on the World, the full-color narrative encyclopedia scheduled in History / Bible / Literature Level C and Level B+C—and why I love spending a little extra time on geography, too.

Of course, you don’t have to add to what Sonlight has scheduled; a Sonlight education is complete on its own. This isn’t about adding guilt to your already-full days. If you’ve got enough on your plate as it is, skip right on over this post, and don’t allow these ideas to make you feel like you’re not doing enough. (Mama, you are enough!) But if you and your geography-loving students want to dive in deeper, homeschooling with Sonlight definitely offers you flexibility.

So how can we take the geography infused throughout Sonlight and bring it to life even more?

1. Attend Local Cultural Festivals

So much of the world is truly right at our doorsteps, and cultural celebrations such as Lunar New Year, the Highland Games, or Midsummer bring the world even closer to home. Wandering through a cultural festival is a completely immersive experience, and adds so much to static images on a page. The music alone makes a cultural festival worth attending! And I love watching live performances like shadow puppetry or traditional folk dancing.

If you have the chance to attend a similar event, don’t pass up the opportunity—and be sure to sample the delicious food, too. What’s available near you depends on your area, but even when we lived in a small town in the rural Midwest, we were able to celebrate Hmong New Year with our community.

2. Listen to World Music

No cultural festival where you are? Create the atmosphere yourself, and listen to some world music! Since the wide variety of popular music available makes it difficult and time-consuming to find a representative sample when searching from scratch, I like to use children’s songs to extend our geography lessons. I find YouTube works far better than online music streaming services. Use an online search term similar to “traditional [name of country, language, or culture] children’s songs”, and create your own playlist. (This is also a great way to get starting learning a new language!)

3. Learn Phrases in Other Languages

Even if you’ve already incorporated a full foreign language study into your homeschool day, you can still learn a few phrases in additional languages for the countries you study, such as “hello”, “Jesus loves you”, or the numbers one through ten.

Again, YouTube is an oft-overlooked treasure trove when it comes to language learning—searching phrases such as “learn numbers in [language] for kids” will give you a lot of options, even in more obscure languages. Want an extra challenge? Memorize this week’s memory verse in a different language! YouVersion’s Bible app for kids supports over two dozen languages.

4. Try New Ingredients and Recipes

Food fascinates me, particularly the difference in taste around the globe. Have you seen photographer Hannah Whitaker’s riveting photo essay on what children in various parts of the world eat for breakfast?

Tasting new foods allows you to experience culture in a way few other activities—short of actual travel—do. And in my experience, kids are more adventurous tasters than you might expect, especially if they are deeply involved in the creating the meal. Bring the meal full circle, and shop for ingredients in a specialty store outside your usual neighborhood.

5. Make Friends with Families from Cultures Other Than Your Own

The Bible is clear about the multicultural kingdom. Revelation chapter seven, verse nine provides us a glimpse of heaven, showing us “a great multitude no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.”

Doesn’t it make sense the community of believers on earth should reflect this diversity? You don’t have to be serving abroad as a missionary to mingle cross-culturally. Festivals, language classes, and grocery stores are a good place to start. Of course, do not approach this with an attitude of condescension, but of genuine interest. (People are neither a spectacle nor a museum exhibit!)

And cultivate gratitude by learning the realities of many other countries, too. I find difficult stories to be especially formative!

6. Use Your Markable Map

I understand how tempting it is to leave out the map activities indicated in the Instructor’s Guide; after all, how much excitement and educational benefit can you glean from simply running a marker over a wet-erase map? But as my daughter’s experience with literature-based geography taught me, you can learn a tremendous amount by simply plotting the locations you read about. Mapping creates connections between faces and places, and transforms geography into a living entity, teeming with people.

And people are how it all comes together, and geography comes alive. So dive in to Window on the World with a refreshed perspective, and focus on the human thread connecting each dot on the map.

Window on the World is part of HBL C, Intro to World History, Year 2 of 2

Curious to see what a literature-based, Christ-infused education might look like for your family? Go to SmoothCourse to explore your options.

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6 Extension Activities for Kids Who Love My Father’s Dragon

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6 Extension Activities for Kids Who Love My Father’s Dragon

My Father’s Dragon from History / Bible / Literature A is an engaging adventure through Wild Island. It's a favorite with my kids! Here are some easy extension activities you can do as you read through the book.

Does the book need extra activities? Certainly not. Reading and then discussing the topics outlined in your Instructor's Guide are plenty. But some families love crafty projects or hands-on activities tied to the themes of their Read-Alouds. If you are that kind of family, read on for fun extras to extend your experience with My Father's Dragon.

1. Make a Map

We recently made a relief map of Wild Island and Tangerina using air-dry clay and kiddy dough. Plastic animals represented the animals in the story and a dinosaur played the role of our dragon. The girls had great fun, and we ended with a three-dimensional visual to refer to throughout our Read-Aloud.

2. Plan a Trip

In the novel, Elmer plans a trip to rescue a baby dragon. Have your child plan for a real or imaginary trip by considering what to pack.

  • Will they need food?
  • Clothes?
  • A toothbrush?
  • How will they carry it all?

If you have a backpack or luggage available, they can try packing it to see how they would fit in the necessities and how hard it would be to carry.

3. Sample Citrus Fruits

On the island of Tangerina, Elmer is able to eat enough tangerines to fill him up. Take your cue from Elmer's meal and experiment with various citrus fruits. My girls enjoyed trying new fruits—everything from tangerines to key limes. If you have easy access to more unusual fruits, give those a try as well. Rambutan were surprisingly delicious although tamarind juice took a little getting used to.

4. Explore the Science Behind Brushing Your Teeth

Elmer packed a toothbrush for his trip to Wild Island. Children don’t always see the need to brush their teeth, but this science experiment will make it clear. You’ll need

  • 5 cups or jars
  • 5 eggs (possibly hard boiled to prevent cracking)
  • dark soda
  • coffee or tea (prepared)
  • vinegar
  • water
  • orange juice
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • paper towels

Place each egg in a cup and cover each with a different liquid, using water as your control. Record what type of liquid is in each cup, and have your child predict what will happen. You should notice the egg in vinegar begin bubbling right away.

The next day, check the eggs. Pull them out of the cups to compare them. See if any changed color or if the shell is partially dissolving. (You should notice the shell on all of them dissolving somewhat except the one in water.)

Return the vinegar egg and the egg in water back to their cups.

With the remaining three eggs, use a toothbrush and toothpaste to brush them. You should see that some (but not all) of the color will scrub off the darker colored eggs (especially if they are white). Compare the eggs to see which get the cleanest.

The next day, return to the egg in vinegar once all the shell has dissolved. You can take it out and have your children touch it. It should feel damp and squishy. It also will be somewhat larger than it was before. Place the egg on a paper towel, and you can see the liquid inside the egg start to soak into the paper towels. Your children can touch and play with this egg, but be prepared because if it breaks open, the inside may still contain raw, liquid yolk.

Once you have cleaned up everything, you can discuss what certain beverages do to egg shell and compare to how they affect teeth. Encourage your child to make connections between the eggs and the enamel on their teeth.

5. Play with a Magnifying Glass

Toward the end of the book, Elmer gives the monkeys magnifying glasses so they can see better to do their job. I simply handed each of my two youngest girls a magnifying glass and had them find three things to look at. Once they began, they kept trying to find more and more things to look at. Magnifying glasses are fun, and every homeschool family needs at least one on hand!

6. Read Sequels

My Father’s Dragon has two sequels, which your children will likely enjoy:

  1. Elmer and the Dragon,
  2. The Dragons of Blueland

They continue the story of Elmer and his dragon on more adventures and are a perfect extension to the first volume. My Father’s Dragon is also available on audiobook if your children would like to hear it again (and again).

Sonlight History / Bible / Literature A

My Father's Dragon is part of History / Bible / Literature A

To find out more about Sonlight's unmatched Read-Alouds, and our complete book-based homeschool programs, order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

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How to Make and Use a Loop Schedule for Homeschool

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Do you frequently run into days when you have more subjects on your to list than time in the day to teach it? Are you always wishing there were an easier way to carry things over to the next day instead of trying to cram it all in one? Would you like to spread your curriculum out over a longer time period or run a lighter schedule of many subjects during the summer?

If so, loop scheduling may work for you.

Loop scheduling may look complicated, but once you understand the concept behind it, it’s easy to use. To demonstrate the concept, let's take the easy-to-understand example of color-coded outfits.

The Color-coded Sequence of Outfits

Let’s pretend you are tired of deciding what your children will wear each day, so you buy 10 outfits for each child in each of the following colors and hang them in the closet in this order:

  1. red
  2. blue
  3. green
  4. orange
  5. white
  6. purple
  7. yellow
  8. black
  9. pink
  10. teal

The first day, you get your children up and dress them in red. The next day, they put on the blue outfits.

Maybe that day they need to go with you to the grocery store, but they’ve gotten their blue outfits a little dirty. No problem! You go to the next outfit in the sequence—the green ones. Later that night, they ask to change, so you dress them in the orange outfit next.

The next morning you're down to the white outfits. And so on.

Eventually, they’ll come around to the teal outfits and be out of clothes. Presumably, by then you will have done laundry, and the red outfits will be ready to wear again. So you start back up the top of the ten colors again with red.

Making the Parallel to Your Homeschool Schedule

Now let's apply that same principle to your homeschool schedule. Make a list of each of the subjects you would like in your loop and list them in order.

  1. Bible
  2. History
  3. Literature or Read-Alouds
  4. Language Arts
  5. Handwriting
  6. Creative Writing
  7. Science
  8. Math
  9. Art
  10. Music

When you begin your homeschool day, you start at the top and move down the list, doing each subject in order. Whenever you stop for the day, you mark off the last subject you completed. When you resume lessons again the next day, you simply pick up where you left off. Eventually you will reach the end of the list and start again at the top.

Wearing Jeans Everyday (Adding Block Scheduling to Your Loop)

What if you don’t want your children to be dressed from head to toe in red? Maybe they want to wear jeans each day just like I want to cover Bible every day.

Well, that’s simple. The jeans are a constant every day, but your kids still cycle through the different colored tops.

For the homeschool equivalent, you put Bible into a block schedule by itself and then cover the rest of the topics on a loop once Bible is done each day.


  • Bible


  1. History
  2. Literature or Read-Alouds
  3. Language Arts
  4. Handwriting
  5. Creative Writing
  6. Science
  7. Math
  8. Art
  9. Music

Fancy Schedules with Multiple Homeschool Loops

Let’s say your children don't want to wear jeans every day. They want to vary their bottoms on a loop schedule as well as their tops.  You can make a second loop of bottoms:

  • jeans
  • slacks/skirts
  • shorts

In this case, you use both loops at the same time. So your child would follow this sequence:

  • jeans with a red top
  • slacks/skirt with a blue top
  • shorts with a green shirt

Once you complete a loop, you repeat it. So the pattern continues for the bottoms while you keep working through the original list of colored tops:

  • jeans with an orange shirt
  • slacks/skirt with a white top
  • shorts with a purple shirt

Now let's apply double loops to homeschooling. Maybe you want a loop that alternates history and science every other day. Bible is still your daily subject. Here's how that looks in list form:


  • Bible


  1. History
  2. Science


  1. Literature or Read-Alouds
  2. Language Arts
  3. Handwriting
  4. Creative Writing
  5. Math
  6. Art
  7. Music

Each day you cover Bible. Then you study either history or science. And finally you work through the original loop.

Customizing the Loops

These loops can work however you want because they are easy to customize.  Some people like to study Bible, Math, Foreign Language, and Reading daily while looping History and Science into an alternating schedule. Other topics are covered three times a week on a separate loop.

As you can see, loop schedules can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. The loop gives you the order to cover topics so you know you are making constant progress in each subject.

Keeping Track of the Loops

Keeping up with where you are in your loops is simple. I have a written list of my loops, and I use those repositionable arrow tabs—the ones used to indicate where to sign a document—to keep my place.

The same idea works in my Sonlight Instructor’s Guide. I simply place a tab on the square I need to cover next in the loop.

Getting Off Schedule

Sometimes our loop schedules get thrown for a loop! But it's not a huge problem.

Back to our clothing analogy, let’s say your children were supposed to wear orange today, but instead were invited to a ceremony where they had to dress up and their clothes didn’t match what was on the loop schedule.

The homeschool parallel may be that your dish washer broke down halfway through Handwriting, so you gave your children an Art project to keep them busy while you try to figure out the appliance issue.

Here's the solution. When the odd situation is over, you pick up where you were as if nothing took you off your schedule. There's no need to stress if it takes a day or two (or twelve) to get back to your schedule. It’ll wait for you.

Benefits of the Loop Schedule

Loop schedules are great because they relieve the pressure to finish everything in one day while still keeping you from falling behind in any one subject. You can have one child on one set of loops and another child on a different set of loops.

These schedules help you keep track of what you’ve done and what needs to be done. They are perfect for stretching a History / Bible / Literature program beyond a typical 36-week schedule.

If you need to change your schedule or switch up how it works, simply make a new list, and you’re ready to go again. There’s really no wrong way to do them.

Try Sonlight—a flexible schedule that you can tweak to your needs. Order a complimentary copy of your catalog today.

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