Online Education For Kids

…where homeschooling and learning is fun!

   Apr 16

Science for Homeschooling

Over the past few years, I’ve tried quite a few different science programs. Some of these programs were amazing, so were not so much. In any case we have posted homeschool science reviews throughout our blog, so I thought I’d collect them all here.

Our recent review of Science4Us – our youngest homeschooler’s favorite way to spend science time!

Great ways to teach preschool and kindergarten science with ideas and tips for getting their attention.

Teaching homeschool Vocabulary Tips is a great post to help us realize that vocabulary instruction does so much more than just help with spelling skills. Homeschoolers can use vocabulary methods and skills to enrich science and history.

How to Homeschool Elementary Science is one of my favorite posts outlining some of the basic methods that we use to teach science in our home school.

One of our favorite subjects to study in science in astronomy. The post Making Homeschool Astronomy Easy outlines what we do for our astronomy studies.

Our post on Homeschool Science has a great array of interesting topics on how to homeschool varying ages and topics.

The Gender Gap in Education… an argumentable post about this so called idea and how it applies to homeschooling.


   Apr 09

Ways to Enrich Your Homeschool Studies

We have been homeschooling for many years, and of course – have several homeschool curriculum resources that we love and use frequently. However, there are times that we finish up early or that a particular course of study just doesn’t go as deeply as we had anticipated. It is during those times that we usually reach for a few of our favorite supplemental resources.

History Homeschool Supplements

We love to supplement geography with Sheppard Software online resources. These include games and puzzles, and have been very effective at teaching my children their geography. Sheppard has a lot of other offerings as well… we’ve just used their geography section as a regular school supplement.

Science Homeschool Supplements

online science curriculum

Another amazing program that works well for our family is the Science4Us online curriculum. It is only for K-2 grade so it’s span of use is limited, however, the kids enjoy it immensely.

For the older kids, we use Khan Academy quite regularly to help out with various Chemistry, Physics, and math questions. When mom isn’t around to give them help Khan Academy is the next best thing!

Core Subject Homeschool Supplements

home education

For general supplementary enrichment we use Time4Learning. It’s a great way to round out your child’s education. We always do a main curriculum, while working on T4L as well. It is something we do when we need a break from textbooks, or just a change in the regular monotony of school days. It works great for us, is very interesting and fun, and challenges my kids in areas that I sometimes overlook.

BrainPOP

Another online resource that is great for breaking up the monotony is Brain Pop Jr. We use the ipad app, and they have a nice educational video that they post every once in a while. It presents and very educational topic, and is given using a cartoon style. The children love it and it usually gives them a little brain boost to get back to their other school work.


   Apr 02

Spring Ideas for Great Homeschooling

It’s tough to stay inside when the weather finally warms up! I we do try to stay in the house, I feel like I’m competing with something I’ll never overcome. The kids are distracted. Every bird that flies past the window grabs their attention. It’s crazy. So, during the spring and summer months I always try to incorporate something fun to make them still want to “keep their head in the game.”

1) Don’t fight ‘em – join em… we are now studying birds. Since, the birds are so interesting and they can’t keep their eyes off them- I think we will study them. I’ve got the Apologia science book about flying creatures and we have several bird guides for our state.

2) Incorporate outside time into your daily curriculum. Some people find that reading is an easy subject to work into the outdoors. It works great for us – we have several comfy outdoor chairs and the kids find a cozy spot and get to it!

3) Use Homeschool Spring Resources – I love to pin ideas on pinterest and then get back to them when I have time.

4) Homeschool Elementary can be so much fun when you add a course or two that the kids CHOOSE!

5) Take time to do some outdoor physical education. This counts as part of your homeschooling as well!


   Mar 26

Phonemic Awareness for Pre Reading

reading strategiesLearning to read is by far one of the greatest accomplishments of a person’s life. Yet, so often we tend to take this amazing feat for granted. As a homeschool mother, with each of my children I seemingly sweat bullets every time it came to teach them how to read. I guess I realized all too well how vital this ability was to their future success in school. Consequently, on the flip side of that…. is the realization that when taught phonemic awareness on a regular basis the child will eventually read when they are ready. It took me just six kids to realize that one!

When I begin to teach a little one how to read I always start with the basics. Here is a simple timeline of my process for providing them with pre-reading skills.

1) Start with basic letter recognition

2) Build to letter sound recognition

3) Teach consonant and vowels

4) Build to consonant and vowel blends

5) Teach children how to make ABC order

6) Build to consonant blends

7) Teach children how to decode words ( short sound, long sound, special sounds)

8) Introduce short words

9) Build on that!


   Mar 19

   Mar 12

5 Great Resources to help you Celebrate National Poetry Writing Month!

Did you know that next month is the official POETRY MONTH? What a great way to really focus on writing and studying poetry. National poetry month was started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 as an effort to get kids interested in writing poetry. As we all know…the study of literature in any form is always good. Recently we have even been studying spelling with alphabetical order worksheets. It’s great to incorporate a love of language in all your homeschooling subjects. I love all the great inspiring articles that float around the web during this time of year. In fact, I’d love to share them with you – in hopes that it inspires you as well. So, without further adieu here are some great suggestions for getting your kiddos writing poetry in the month of April and beyond!

1) Inspiration can be found at the Scholastic site

2)Great resources are found at the Academy of American Poets website.

3)I love this – 30 ways to celebrate!

4)Education world has some great ideas!

5) Here’s a lesson plan to help you formulate your own National Poetry Day plans!


   Feb 26

Review of Science4Us

online science curriculumThis week has already been absolutely crazy. Sometimes life just happens. In that case, how do you carry on? Does homeschooling get done? Well, sometimes at our house homeschooling gets a lick and a promise. If you don’t know what that means, it’s simple… we give it what attention we can and a promise to get back to it later. That’s exactly what happened this week. However, it also gave me a chance to really let my little ones explore a new science program that we’ve recently added to our curriculum. So, I’m going to let this post be a Review of the Science4Us curriculum.

The Science4Us curriculum was designed specifically to foster an interest and excitement in science learning for children in Kindergarten through third grade. Since most schools and even home schools have limited resources to spend on engaging students in science learning, this online curriculum can pique their interest and give them the foundations in science that they need.

The creators of Science4Us have this to say, “The major new development effort over the last three years has been STEM education. After some research, we decided that our contribution was to provide a curriculum to get students off to a good start in science. It strikes us as an ongoing disaster that two thirds of American students are already behind grade level in science by 4th grade and that they are not identifying themselves as interested or gifted in science.After decades of public consensus that a national priority is to make early science education into an investigative experience but with this goal remaining consistently out of reach, we decided to take a big initiative to try to make it happen. We launched development of Science4Us in 2010 with the goal of creating a 5E-based science curriculum which could realistically be implemented in all schools across the country without prohibitive costs or requirements for out-of-class teacher training.

After three years, countless trials, millions of dollars, Science4Us, a K-2nd digitally-delivered science curriculum, was introduced at NSTA in San Antonio in April 2013. Science4Us is based on NGSS, the Next Generation Science Standards, developed by Achieve for the National Research Council.”

It really sounds like the Science4Us initiative started with a sincere desire to improve science education across America. Since this curriculum is relatively new, there aren’t alot of homeschoolers out there that have written reviews. It is with this in mind that I hope to give you our opinion of how this program stacks up in the homeschool arena.

In our homeschool we have a First grader and a Third grader. I am letting the third grader participate as well just to see what she thinks of the curriculum.

Science4Us reaches Kindergarten through Second grade. Each grade covers Physical Science, Inquiry, Life Science, and Earth Science including properties of matter. Each of these topics seemed to be covered specifically with grade appropriate lessons. The program itself is easy to navigate, it is bright and colorful, and very attractive to younger children. My seven year old was able to log in herself and begin lessons with minimal help from me.

The lessons were interesting, and had clear application to the science concept that was being taught. As a Christian, my only issue was the history of the earth section. However, it is easy to skip the lessons that you don’t want to do. I appreciated the mix of things to do online as well as offline activities. I think this is one of the best science for elementary school curriculums that I have seen in a long time.

To sum up, here are the pros:

1) Science4Us was developed by qualified and experienced teachers and curriculum designers. It is obvious by how the various aspects flow with ease.

2) The curriculum itself is easy to follow, easy to understand, and enjoying. The children like logging in and working through the fun and interesting science lessons.

3) The lessons are not long and drawn out, but are pretty concise with a song, video, or story that the kids can watch to reinforce the concept that is being taught.

4) It is simple to track your student’s progress. With one click you can view what they have been doing, when, and what their score is at the moment. Great for an easy homeschool science option.


   Feb 20

Teaching Tip #1 – Lesson Planning

When starting down this road called homeschooling, some things can seem like insurmountable mountains that we just can’t climb. I know that many of my “first time” homeschooler friends feel like they just can’t do it because they know nothing about teaching. Well, if it’s really scary there are ways to get around that. Homeschoolers have so many options today it is almost unthinkable. There are online options that have online teachers, there are video courses that have teachers, and even computer programs that make learning automated. All the scare has been taken out of homeschooling!

However, if you are more of a hands on type of person. You might just want to learn a few “teaching” basics. Yes, just because we are homeschooling doesn’t mean that we don’t use sound “teaching methods.” These methods aren’t scary, they aren’t intimidating, but they are useful. One of the first things that I teach my students in my college Introduction to Education course is the basics of lesson planning. For those homeschoolers who really want to be involved in teaching and learning with their children and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty… this is for you!

Tips for making your own lesson plans…

Lesson plans are basically a way to focus instruction for maximum effect. It’s our bullseye – and we all know if we aim for nothing we will surely hit it!

1) To start at the very beginning, if you are planning a unit study you will need to begin with your overall BIG goal. What do you want to accomplish/learn for the study. Write your goal.

2) Determine how long you want the unit study to last. If it is a month. Then divide your study up into weeks and write goals for what you wish to accomplish each week.

3) Once your weekly goals are in place, you can make daily or lesson goals which we usually call objectives. These daily goals are more specific and should include “measurable” action words. Teachers will often start these goals off with “The learner will be able to…”

4) Now you’re ready for your lesson plan. Taking each of these daily objectives, you will need to determine how you’ll teach the lesson, which methods you will use and any materials or assessment that you want to include. When I teach teachers how to do this I encourage them to use this acrostic – GOMMA.  It’s something I was taught in graduate school and I feel it really helps keep things focused.

Homeschool lesson plan

5) I take the acrostic for each day and fill in exactly how I wish to teach the lesson along with any correlating tools. For example, if I am teaching a unit study on science then I might include in my daily assessment some second grade science worksheets. The assessment doesn’t have to be a test, it can be a time of Q&A, a worksheet, or even a drawing. It is simply a way for the student to show that they understood the lesson.

6) I usually keep my lesson plans and all accompanying materials in a three ring binder. That way they are all together and ready to use if I have to teach that subject again!


   Feb 13

Homeschooling? Is this normal or is it insanity?

homeschoolingAh… my homeschooling friends. There are days that we really need each other. Days that just being able to ask one another if my regular crazy is anything like yours? …and then the refreshing feeling when we are told just how crazy our fellow homeschoolers are. It’s great, and without it I know I would have been discouraged many years ago.

At our house we have a first grader, a third grader, two seventh graders, a tenth grader, and one in her first year of college. Days are full, busy, and always crazy. I do find that the older the children get the more independent they become. Which is quite a blessing. This allows a little more time for other things. Yet, my first and third grader require A LOT of my attention. So, until I get them functioning independently… I’ll be facing a big dose of crazy.

Most of my children have always preferred to do things on their own. However, there are a few of them that really have been dependent on me and have a difficult time breaking that. My twins, though in seventh grade, have been very dependent on me and up until this year had to have me in the room sitting there with them to work. This year, in order to help encourage more independence, I purchased them a video curriculum. This has definitely helped untie the apron strings.

My third grader is great, she can go in the school room and get out her books and get to it. She still needs review and help with certain problems, but she will work without my ever abiding presence. However, my youngest will only focus on school if I am sitting there beside her. This can make for difficult days especially since I work from home. So, most days I sit with my laptop right beside her desk while we work on numbers, letters, and 1st grade science curriculum. Some days I get alot done, and other days I get nothing but her schoolwork done. Seriously, nothing – not even a shower… and then dinner is something quick. So, there is the source of most of my crazy these days.  Sure, it’s a trade out… and it limits my personal freedom… but one day soon she will be grown and gone. My oldest had some of these issues and now she is in college doing her own thing. So, I know… it will be over soon… and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

So, there is my crazy for now… what’s yours?