Finishing Strong #117: Hobbies, Student Passions, & Unschooling

Welcome back to Finishing Strong!

Finishing Strong is a place for families who are homeschooling middle & high school kids to meet up in order to share tips, encouragement, advice, and more. We know it can be stressful homeschooling teens, which is why we’ve built this community.

It is brought to you each Wednesday by the ladies at Blog She Wrote, Education PossibleStarts at Eight, and myself.

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In honor of International Women’s Day, featured this week is a post celebrating the work of Anna Botsford Comstock, the esteemed author of the Handbook of Nature Study. Her words are as valuable and relevant today as they were back at the turn of the 20th century when her book was first published, Nature Study with Anna Botsford Comstock.

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We hope you’ll take some time to check out the amazing posts that have been shared with us. We are so thankful to all of our readers and contributors who help make Finishing Strong a key resource for everyone homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

Middle School Hobbies20 Middle School Hobbies For Education by Our Unschooling Journey was our most read post shared last week.I really enjoyed this because it helped me to realize all we really do experience in homeschool. While the kids may not pursue each with fervor, her post is a little reminder of all that we have accomplished.

Opportunities for Homeschooled Teen

Relatedly, I also enjoyed reading Heather’s post, Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschool Teen as it provided encouragement for me to allow my kids to pursue their areas of interest in more depth. “High school is all about how to help your teens … [have] authentic experiences which prepare them for what lies ahead.”

It is so easy to fall victim to the comparison game. Even with over ten years of homeschool experience behind me, I still catch myself thinking we aren’t doing enough, we aren’t covering enough material. These two posts help me to realize that life experiences and child-led interests really can (and do) prepare students for their future.

Homeschool Teen Behind

On a similar note, I also enjoyed Ann’s perspective in her post, When You Fear That Your Homeschooled Teen is Behind. “College is NOT for everyone, and neither you nor your child are a failure if you decide on another path.”


As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

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  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
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  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

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Fly Tying 101 – Weeks Five & Six

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva

During week #5, we learned how to tie a Pheasant tail fly.  The Pheasant tail fly uses a lot of Pheasant tail feathers.  It looks really cool when it is all done though it was a little confusing to make.  The woman pictured behind me is one of the volunteers in my class.  She is considered to be one of the world’s best fly tyers.

Week #6 – The last week of the class was probably the most fun. We got to tie a Copper John. This one was really cool because we got to split the tail in half.

I really enjoyed Fly Tying class.  The volunteers said that they will have another class in the spring and if there is enough interest, they will do an advanced class.  I hope the other kids want to do it again because I would love to learn how to make more advanced flies.

They also have a summer camp in July.  I am going to write a couple of essays so that I can hopefully win a scholarship to the camp.  I think it would be a lot of fun.

Fly Tying 101 – Week Four

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva
This week in fly tying class we learned to tie a lure.  A lure is not actually a fly but a hook with flashy stuff to attract the fish.  Once they are lured in close, you can change your hook. You can sometimes hook them with just the lures, too.

I also learned in class about a fun Fish Camp in the summer.  It costs a lot of money so I am going to write two essays so I can maybe I can go on a scholarship.

This is a great fly tying website, Fly Anglers OnLine, Your Complete Internet Flyfishing Resource.  On the home page, if you go to the left column and click on FOTW (fly of the week), you’ll tap into thousands of fly tying patterns.
There are also three levels of fly tying courses (after you click on “fly tying” in the left column), and lots of other articles and information.   Warning:  this can eat up lots of your time, so it’s best to save it until after all studying and homework is done for the day.
Today my mom and dad gave me a fly tying kit.  It was my birthday gift.  They waited to buy it until after the class so they would know what kind of kit to buy.  I am really excited.

Fly Tying 101 – Week Three

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva

In Fly Tying class this week we learned how to tie a Zebra Midge.  We tied two similar flies that were very quick and easy.  It is a great sub-surface fly.  It resembles a mosquito larvae.

The tool that I am using in this picture is called a whip finish it does a whole lot of half knots at one time. This is a cool and fun fly to tie.

The person on the left is one of the teachers. He is very helpful. Below are the flies that I tied in class this week. They are very small.

The two on the right are ones that are coming to the surface to live the rest of their lives. They all have a small gold bead to resemble the fly’s head.

Fly Tying 101 – Week Two

Guest Blogger ~ Geneva

I love fly tying. Today we got to make a fly that is suppose to resemble the Caddis Fly. The Caddis Fly, in it’s early life or nymph stage, lives in a tube that it makes out of little pieces of rock and wood.

You can find them in creeks, streams, and some rivers. The trout loves to eat them, so this is a fly that works well on trying to catch trout.

You usually tie the fly with a small hook. This is a really cool fly when you are done tying it. One cool thing about tying this fly is that you use a torch and just catch the end on fire to make a butt.

This is my friend that is doing the fly tying class with me. I’m glad that we get to do it together. I think it is more fun that way.

Fly Tying 101 – Week One

My daughter has been interested in fly fishing since she was a toddler.  Fly fishing is a big sport in Central Oregon and we were surrounded by avid fishermen and women who loved their sport and were keen to share their passion with others.  The retail store, Orvis, even had an outdoor casting course downtown.  Our neighbor welcomed her into his ‘office’ on a few occasions so she could ask questions and admire his amazing collection of flies.  He even took us out for a lesson one afternoon for our first lesson in casting, Fly Fishing ~ A Future Hobby.

Since then she has occasionally talked about getting her own fly pole (though they didn’t make a weight light enough for her until now – she has grown, after all), taking fly fishing lessons, and even getting a fly tying kit with which to tie her own flies.  We never knew how serious she was until recently – after all, my husband and I aren’t fly fishermen.  Then again, we were not archers either until Buddy took up the sport.

Shortly after we moved to Northern California, a nearby children’s museum featured an exhibit on fly fishing that provided us a greater understanding of the art, science, and history of fly fishing.  Her interest was peeked even more and she asked for a fly tying kit for her birthday.

Serendipitously, at this same time, I stumbled upon an advertisement in a local publication of an upcoming fly tying class for youth.  Perfect!  We thereby informed her that we would buy her a kit upon completion of the course.  In this way, we could also make an informed decision about what type of vise and other tools to purchase.

She has been looking forward to this class for a couple of months now.  To make it even more exciting for her – a new friend we met this summer is joining her for the six-week course. Finding her passions is great – sharing that passion with a friend is priceless.

Over the next few months, she will be featured as a guest blogger to share what she has learned in fly tying class. I encourage you to follow along – I know she’d love to hear from you.

Week Two – Caddis Fly

Week Three – Zebra Midge

Week Four – Lures

Week Five – Pheasant Tail Fly

Week Six – Copper John