Get Techy with these 10 tools!

techtoolsDo you ever feel like a disk with out a drive when it comes to technology in your homeschool? Well, you shouldn’t worry about it. There are loads, and I mean. LOADS. of easy to use techy based apps and programs that will help your teaching and learn grow exponentially.

  1. Heads up– yeah the game. It’s super fun and easy to play… but did you know that it increases vocabulary? Sure – the idea is to use descriptive words to lead someone to say the “answer word.”
  2. Schoology – this is a free program that you can access on your PC. It is super helpful with putting together a course from a text, a pdf, an e-book, youtube videos, or even Khan academy. Great if you’ve got free resources you want to organize into something more cohesive. You can even add your tests and it will score them online! YAY!
  3. Kahoot – this allows you to create and share learning games for any subject!
  4. Padlet – great app that allows you to create a “scrapbook” of things that you need to remember or organize. Super tool for the homeschooling mom!
  5. Edpuzzle – you can use videos to teach your kids, but add a quiz or even your audio throughout the video. This means that as they are learning with the video you can track their progress with a quick check up quiz.
  6. Flippity.net – this is too cool for the homeschooler – you can easily take a google spreadsheet and turn it into flashcards, mad libs, spelling tracker – – lots of options!!
  7. Glogster – this lets you create multimedia posters. I can think of a lot of uses where the kids could use this as a reporting/project based learning.
  8. Mentor Mob this is somewhat like skillshare – where everyone shares “how to’s” with each other. You can learn alot of stuff on this site!!
  9. Explain Everything – interactive whiteboard
  10. Screen castify – this is perfect for using your own computer to teach something. Screencastify basically records what is happening on your own screen. Great for teaching a techy subject or a how to on a specific program.

…and just for a bonus you’ve got to try popplet! A super fun way to take notes, brainstorm, or study!

Learn about Labor Day!

www.onlineeducationforkids.com great online webquest to learn more about Labor Day!

Labor Day is one of our national holidays, but do we understand why?

1. Go to this Explanation of Labor Day to answer these questions.

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

 

Who do most people credit for starting the celebration of Labor Day?

 

When did the first Labor Day occur?

 

Which President signed Labor Day into law?

 

What do other countries call their Labor Day?

 

2. Celebrate Labor Day with a special Labor Day Spelling List

3. Do a Labor Day craft with these super fun Labor Day Pinterest Ideas.

Summer Learning CAN equal FUN!

Summer… I look forward to it all year. I know, I am supposed to  be the mature one around here. Yet, I think I look forward to the more relaxed lifestyle that we lead during the summer than the kids do. It is just a much needed break that really renews and invigorates me. If it wasn’t for a bit of time off in the summer, homeschooling in the fall would be impossible.

Even though I like to take a break in the summer, I still try to keep the kids learning. Their little minds are so active and really are constantly learning in some way. Why not maximize on their cognitive interests? I try to organize several websites that I want the children to visit over the summer break to catch up on math or vocabulary. To make it as simple as possible, I add them to my favorites bar so all the kids have to do is click on each site I want them to visit.  These sites range in interest from vocabulary games to math and science fun. The kids usually have a great time playing and taking a break from the heat… while I sit back with a contented smile knowing that they really are learning through all that laughter!

10 Reasons Why Homeschooling is Exploding!

homeschoolAs a parent of six children, I truthfully cannot imagine our life without homeschooling. Yes, I know just from those few words I fit the “norm” of the weird – unsocialized- homeschool mom. For many that has been the big dividing line for homeschoolers – the opinion that others have of them. Which often these opinions aren’t based on any facts. Yet, in reality homeschooling is becoming more and more popular. People are turning to homeschooling by the hundreds, and the homeschool statistics are still rising. There are millions in America today that claim homeschooling as the method of educating their children, I believe that the following reasons have a direct correlation to this trend!

1) Desire for a safe school environment. (27% of homeschoolers cite this as their reason to homeschool)

2) Moral and religious reasons. The moral fabric of our nation is undoubtedly deteriorating and our children are the most susceptible.  The homeschool movement was greatly propelled by this reason to homeschool, and still to this day the statistics reveal that 78% of homeschool parents attend church regularly. (21%)

3)Dissatisfaction with academic instruction (19%)

4) People who move around alot, or who travel extensively –  this includes the military. I’ve been surprised to see just how many military families have chose homeschooling!

5) Health issues are often another motivating reason to homeschool.

6) Freedom to learn at one’s own pace- or to provide a non-traditional form of education. (5%)

7) Special education and the ability to educate without stigma. (5%)

8) Financial reasons

9) A desire to have more family time.

10) For all of the above reasons!

My opinion about Homeschool Learning

Forgive me… but today I just have something to say. I’ve been hearing so many “wonky” ideas on learning lately that I just have to put my opinion out there! So that is what today’s post is… my opinion.

Homeschool Learning takes on many forms from learning through vicarious experiences, online resources and even educational songs to texts, workbooks, and literature. From every aspect the homeschool learning process is amazingly flexible and resilient. There really is no limit to what you can do with education in your own home and done your own way.

The opponents of home school education will often downplay the positives focusing on things like socialization, political correctness, and religious education. Yet, the success of homeschooling I believe comes directly from what I mentioned above… it’s flexibility. You see, learning doesn’t take place in  a vacuum ( or classroom) as some people believe. Learning is organic and comes naturally in its most pure form. So, the natural learning that takes place in the process of homeschooling is essentially fulfilling each person’s innate desires to learn. Every person was created with a hunger to learn, how else can we explain the huge amount of information that is learned in the first few years of life. It’s the experiences that we have in life that altar that desire to learn, sometimes even snuffing it out.

In contrast, the simply homeschool life that encourages and appreciates learning the little things along with the big things is what makes our children life long learners… so there… my opinion.

5 Methods of Homeschool Scheduling

I must admit that I am one of the people who believe whole heartedly that if you can organize it – it will work better. So, of course, that ideology flows over into my homeschooling methodology. With six kids, I have been made aware that without organization our homeschooling endeavor really doesn’t work out well.  I am always on the look out for better ways to organize  our homeschool. Whether it is physical organization or the organization of how we learn – I always NEED ideas! So, while on the hunt for these ideas I came across some really great ways to organize your homeschool schedule.

First of all here are two things to remember… these two things help me keep my sanity!

1) Set your start time – I know some people are unschoolers and this just doesn’t work for that method… but for us… it does! Having a start time gives us a motivation to get going in the morning. Otherwise with this bunch we might just sleep till noon everyday and forgo schooling all together.

2)Stay flexible – I know, I know I just said set a start time and then I said – be flexible? Well, what I’m trying to say is – if you miss your start time or have many interruptions throughout the day don’t sweat it! You’re homeschooling! You can be flexible, it will work itself out.

Ok – now on to those methods of scheduling

1) Block scheduling – this method is when you divide your week into blocks of time and study one particular subject at a time. We have used this method in the past and we like it. It can be difficult when the kiddos start learning more advanced math… it seems to work better to keep that fresh on the brain daily!

2) Carousel scheduling – This is what we call a mix of all subjects every day. A little of this and a little of that scheduled throughout your homeschool day – just don’t forget to schedule some fun stuff too!

3) Daily scheduling – though similar to block scheduling this method sets aside one day for each subject.

4) Year round scheduling vs. 9 month/9 week scheduling. As a homeschooler you have the freedom and flexibility to choose how you want to homeschool. Of course, you will need to follow your state’s guidelines for how many days, etc… but you can work that into a full 12 month plan or fit it into 9 months.

5) Six weeks on one week off – this is a type of schedule made popular by the FiveJ’s and is referred to as a low stress schedule. This is the newest type of scheduling that I have found, and we just may be trying this next year!

…don’t forget to schedule some fun activities into your homeschool routines – like this make a word search resource! My kiddos love it!

4 Resources for Literature Based Learning

So much of our homeschooling is based on literature.  Boiled down, it is the written, oral, or practiced word that instructs. I’m not always able to sit by my children and verbally instruct them… this is where good literature comes in handy. I can find incredible resources in many places some of which are so much fun!

1) The local library – of course! This is an amazing resource for the homeschooler. We love using the library – as long as we keep track of which books we have taken out. There is also a wealth of information on the Galileo system. If you library uses this, you can get free access with a passcode they provide.

2) Invest in good books – books can be expensive… but we can usually find good resources through Amazon.com or on half.com.

3) Online resources – you would be surprised at the amount of books that are available through the internet. Many of the classics that my girls have read during their high school years have come from internet sources – all for free.

Project Gutenburg – free ebooks

Classic Reader

Litscape

4) Homeschool Literature is also a great place to find quality literature for homeschoolers. We love that site for many reasons but most of all because there is a whole section dedicated to literature written by homeschoolers!

Teaching Kindergarten Science

States of MatterFor most children, kindergarten is the introduction to school. It’s their first experience with what is expected and how they are required to function for most of the their school experience. It’s kindergarten that teaches the fundamentals… and that’s no different when it comes to learning about science at this fantastic age.

Before you jump in to learning and experiencing science, there is one huge thing that you must remember. The kindergartener learns by play! You can’t expect them to just sit there and read a book and learn everything they need to know. A kindergartener learns through experience via playing. So, as we teach this amazing child science we must remember this first and foremost. Science can be HUGELY fun, if they are allowed to experience the excitement of discovery first hand.

1) Make science fun, and to do this you need a good backbone. What in the world? Sure,  I am talking about your science backbone… your textbook. A really great text/or foundational science program can make a huge difference! We love using Apologia Science, and have recently started using the new Science4Us online program. Both offer very unique kindergarten homeschool science perspectives geared toward getting the young child very interested in science.

2) Use exciting ways to teach the facts. Don’t just assign your kiddos a page to read. Oh, I know not every homeschool parent is a science lover… but we’ve got to at least find a way to get across the facts in an exciting manner. If you have no clue how to teach a particular topic – relinquish it to the experts. You can show a science video for class one day – or watch a cool you tube science how-to, or even watch it yourself and then find a fun way to teach it to your kids.

3) Take that extra time to get prepared. I know… that takes some determination and planning but it will be well worth it in the end. Whenever I have taken the time to teach my kids science in an extraordinary way – they usually remember everything!!! I also love to use interesting and colorful printables for recording the science that we learn. Here’s a free science printable about the scientific method. You can use it to fill out inquiry about particular science projects/experiments that you are working on. Make your science experiments fun and amazing and you’ll have your kids begging for science every day!

Getting Back to School

homeschool puzzlesThe holidays are such a wonderful time. In fact, for me… an oasis in the middle of the year.  I love just enjoying each day without the heavy duty schedule that we keep on a regular basis. This year, like any other it is hard to get back to the routine. To make things a little easier on “re-entry” I thought we’d have a warm up day. When we start back to homeschooling again this week, we’re going to begin with a day full of the fun homeschool activities that we rarely make time for.

1) Creative Writing – I thought it would be fun to use some figurative language prompts to get us writing creatively. We really enjoy fun writing, yet lately we’ve been all “business” with science projects and research papers.

2) Art – My children love for me to have a dedicated art class. Since, I almost became an art major – I LOVE it too… I just too often put it on the back burner!

3) Board games – these are our homeschool board games – they include games that help us learn multiplication tables, phonics blends, etc. We have a lot of these fun games, but again… put these on the back burner.

4) Critical thinking skills puzzles… my kiddos love these and I have a ton of books that I used when I taught school. I simply make copies and we do them together!!

5) Mazes. One of my all time favorite puzzle games… I have two very cool books filled with black line masters of the most awesome maze puzzles you’ll ever see. We are definitely doing some of these this week!