The Best Homeschool Classes for Fall 2015

Every fall, we round up some of the coolest-sounding secular homeschool classes around the Atlanta metro area. There’s some really fun stuff this year (including the Special Topics in Literature: Buffy the Vampire Slayer seminar that I’ll be teaching in Dunwoody this fall), but these classes definitely caught our eye.


Level: Elementary
In a town that’s home to the Center for Puppetry Arts, there’s really no excuse not to get your puppet on. In this hands-on class, kids will learn to design and make puppets and get practice in putting on their own puppet shows.


Level: Elementary-High School
What cooler way to study animals and science than with real animals and scientists? Age-appropriate classes start kids out with simple topics like animal coloration and advance to high school-level investigations into conservation and veterinary medicine.


Where: LEAD
Level: High School
Put those critical thinking and analysis skills to work in this class, which focuses on creating, critiquing, and defending arguments. (I get lots of email from people looking for a high school debate class — here you go!)


Where: Marcus JCC
Level: Middle School
Think of it as super-charged P.E.: Kids will get to try everything from boating and fishing to climbing walls and archery in this energy-burning class.


Level: High School
Anybody can learn science facts, but this class teaches you how to evaluate, analyze, and make sense of the facts you learn.


Where: LEAD
Level: High School
What makes a game addictive? And what goes into conceptualizing a good game? This class helps you learn about game theory, playability, design, and other elements through hands-on projects and prototype construction.


Level: Middle-High School
Kids can test their theories in this hands-on lab with scientific equipment and expert guidance in the scientific method and project design.


Where: LEAD
Level: Middle-High School
Is it obnoxious to include my own class here? But I am super excited about this class, in which students will be creating and publishing a regular magazine of their own, doing everything from writing and conducting interviews, to copyediting and managing production schedules.

Fall Class: Special Topics in Literature: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Special Topics in Literature: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Age Level: High school (students should have some familiarity with literary analysis and critical writing)


Cost: $250 per student 


Schedule: Fridays, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. (Aug. 28-Dec. 11)


Location: Dunwoody


What this class is about: The seven-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series is a rich, self-referential work that operates as a modern myth or folktale, providing a context from which to ponder questions of meaning, ethics, existence, and contemporary culture. In a close, chronological study of this series, we’ll use literary and philosophical techniques to analyze and investigate the Buffyverse. In other words: We’ll watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and talk about what it means and why it matters.


What students will get out of the class:
— Students will engage in in-depth literary analysis — we’ll just be focusing these efforts on the television work of Joss Whedon rather than a more traditional text
— Students will practice a variety of critical approaches: psychological theory, Marxist theory, semiotic theory, poststructural theory, feminism, queer theory, and more through close readings of individual texts
— Students who opt in to a final paper will exit the course with a paper useable for the writing sample required for entry to college


What students should be prepared to put into the class:
— You should show up for class having read and screened the assigned materials for each session and be prepared to join the class discussion
— The weekly journal assignment is optional, but it’s a great way to focus your thoughts for class discussions
— Ask questions! Provoke controversy! Argue your opinions! Think deeper! 


— No books required for this class. (Teachers will provide handouts of essays and other materials.)
— Students will need to watch episodes of “Buffy the Vampire” slayer outside of class hours. (“Buffy” is available for free streaming via Netflix and Amazon Prime.)


This class is co-taught by Amy Sharony and Shelly Denkinger. To sign up, email Amy.


Booklist: Kin to Katniss

Katniss isn't the first teen to get caught up in a dangerous game. The Hunger Games victor may owe some of her strength and savvy to her literary predecessors — any of whom would make a great addition to your summer reading list.


A.D. 8 :: Theseus
Theseus volunteers as tribute in the deadly annual retribution exacted on his country by Crete.


1909 :: Elnora Comstock
Resourceful and determined, Elnora must take control of her own future when her mother cannot get over Elnora’s father’s death.


1924 :: Sanger Rainsford
A hunter, Rainsford becomes the hunted when he’s shipwrecked on an island owned by an insane billionaire in search of more challenging game.


1960 :: Karana
Left to fend for herself on a deserted island, Karana survives alone for eighteen years.


1968 :: Mattie Ross
Find her in: True Grit
Tough-as-nails Mattie is unflinching and determined to avenge her father’s death.


1979 :: Ray Garratty
Find him in: The Long Walk
A voluntary participant in a hike-to-the-death, Ray gradually discovers that the cost of victory is as high as the cost of defeat.


1985 :: Ender Wiggin
Find him in: Ender's Game
Smart enough to outsmart the government trying to manipulate him, Ender finds it hard to deal with the consequences of his life outside the government-controlled game.


1995 :: Lyra Belacqua
Find her in: The Golden Compass
Surly, unlikable, and unwilling to put on her nice manners, Lyra matches Katniss in bravery and stubborn determination.


1999 :: Shogo Kawada
Find him in: Battle Royale
Forced to compete in state-sponsored death games, Shogo cheats to save his friends.



Atlanta Homeschool Summer Bucket List 

44 ways to make memories this summer  BY ERIN FLY & ATLANTA HOMESCHOOL


[2]Blow bubbles


[3] Make sidewalk chalk art


[4] Go berry picking


[5] Camp out in the backyard



[7] Make a photo book of the past year


[8] Build a fort using cardboard boxes




[11] Make s’mores on the grill


[12] Have a water balloon fight



[14] Have an all-day movie marathon


[15] Practice making shadow puppets



[17] Grow an herb garden


[18] Play miniature golf



[20] Hula hoop


[21] Make your own pet rocks


[22] Play Marco Polo in the pool


[23] Go roller skating


[24]Set up a family bicycle wash




[27] Have a paper airplane race


[28] Play outside in the rain


[29] Have a watermelon seed spitting contest


[30] Make a summer music playlist



[32] Have a backyard circus


[33] Stage your own Summer Olympics events



[35] Have a tie-dye party in the backyard


[36] Have a family read-a-thon



[38] Make a backyard obstacle course


[39] Play flashlight hide-and-seek


[40] Visit a farmers market


[41] Build a Lego Atlanta


[42] Have a picnic





July Best Bets

Our picks for the best out-of-the-house homeschool fun this month  BY ERIN FLY

Get in the giving mood in the summer at Legoland Discovery Center. Bring a new and unwrapped toy with a value of $10 or more to receive a Kids Go Free voucher for free admission. 

Learn about the inner workings of the human brain and the latest neuroscience through interactive videos, games, models, and more. 

This is Now covers Alex Katz's landscape paintings over the past 25 years. 

Enjoy movies such as The Breakfast Club, Jaws, Ghostbusters, and The Princess Bride at the Fox Theater this summer. 

Enjoy a meal while watching what fools mortals can be at the Shakespeare Tavern. This production is good for all ages. 

This family friendly event includes ice cream vendors, live entertainment, and—appropriately enough—fitness routines. There are plenty of different flavors of ice cream that will keep everyone happy. 

At the High Museum's teacher appreciation day educators can get to view the High's permanent 
and special exhibitions for free with one guest. Homeschool teachers can get in with a copy of your declaration of intent or a teacher I.D. 

At Camp H20 elementary age children (1st through 5th grade) can go behind the scenes at the Georgia Aquarium, meet the animals' caregivers, and more. There are still a few slots available at this day camp.

This yoga class, for all levels, is open to everyone including first timers! All you need to bring to the class is a bottle of water and your yoga mat. 

Experience the wonders of the full moon while paddling at Lake Lanier. You can bring your own kayak or canoe or rent one at the park's boat ramp. 

At the Open Studio, teens can create with materials such as charcoal, paint, metal, fabric, and duct tape. Teenagers are allowed to create anything that comes to their mind with the materials provided. This is a drop-in activity any time between 5 and 8 P.M. Open Studios are free for all high school students.

Enjoy a variety of different foods at the Atlanta street food festival. This festival features more than fifty of Atlanta's favorite food trucks, local merchants, and live entertainment. A portion of the festival's proceeds will go to the Giving Kitchen.

Explore a forest of lights at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. This event has creative pieces made from hundreds of miles of optic fiber. 
This is a family friendly barnyard tale created with puppets at the Center For Puppetry Arts. Find out what happens when chickens go on strike and cows figure out how to type. 
Erin is Atlanta Homeschool's awesome summer intern and a recent homeschool graduate!