Streaming and Learning

Not all that long ago, the only time I ever thought about using the TV (in any way) in my homeschooling, would have been if we needed a sick day for mom. And mom would have to have been really sick to default to that, lol.

But, how does that Bob Dylan song go? Times they are a changin’.

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Streaming video services have been on the rise. Why wouldn’t they be? They are cheaper than cable and you basically have everything on demand; you’re not looking through a guide waiting for something to air at a certain time or on a certain channel. Just as with so many aspects of technology, streaming video services are becoming valuable to homeschooling families, and not just for the latest season of The Flash! ;)

Do your kiddos have an interest in bees? There’s a documentary for that. Are they interested in cooking? There’s a TV show for that. Maybe as family, you guys are interested in learning about other world cultures? Yep, you can find films for that.

Here are a few links that have been recommended by other homeschoolers, covering many ages/grade levels:

**DISCLAIMER — only you as a parent can judge what’s appropriate for your kiddos. Goes without saying, but please understand that these suggestions come from many homeschooling families, each with different ideals and belief systems. :)

Netflix

Amazon Prime Video

YouTube

Do you have favorites that you’ve discovered? Add them in the comments below and we’ll update our list to include them!

 

 

Learning with the Election…

More so than ever before, technology and the internet are making sure we know it’s election season. More than just the commercials on TV, and more than just billboards, every single time we turn on our computers or check our phones, chances are we’re going to see something related to the election.

That’s not always bad. I mean, I do think it’s necessary to make sure that each voter knows about all of the candidates as much as possible, but it can get overwhelming when there is SO much information out there. How do you handle questions when  your kids ask about candidates and what’s in the news about them? How do you balance wanting them to learn about politics, yet shield them from the controversy when you need to?

There’s no one right answer when it comes to teaching politics, but there are resources out there to help! For instance, these fun election-themed writing activities are wonderful resources. Broken down by elementary, middle, and high school, there is something for every grade level.

Image via Time4Writing.com

Image via Time4Writing.com

Give these a try, and drop a note in the comments, telling us how you teach and/or shield during the election seasons.

The Accidental Homeschooler

January seems to be when many accidental homeschoolers are born. Maybe it was a bad few months in public school that led parents who never thought of homeschooling to give it a try.

Never thought about homeschooling being an accident? It can be, definitely. We never had any intention of homeschooling. I was a social butterfly in school and honestly enjoyed it. My husband, not so much, but even so never thought about homeschooling. Kids…well…they just went to school. It’s how it’s always been.

Two months into my oldest’s 1st grade year, we were done. He had changed. His whole personality. He went from loving school and being excited to go every morning, to asking every. single. day. if he had to go. Crying and trying to convince us in every way he could think of why he didn’t need to go that day. Neither of us were getting along with the teacher (which admittedly wasn’t ALL her fault), and there were several issues. One Friday afternoon in October, I walked angrily into the school office and threatened to pull him out if something wasn’t done. Well, imagine my shock when they called my bluff and said “okey dokey, sign here.” They handed me his withdrawal form.

Wait. What? That’s it? Crap.

We spent the weekend talking and talking and talking (and talking!) about options, only to discover that there really weren’t any options for us. Most of the private schools in our rural area were too expensive, and any schools that were affordable were so far away, it wasn’t feasible for us to get him there.

And voila. That was the moment we became accidental homeschoolers.

We discovered that family was mostly supportive of the homeschooling thing, so that following Monday morning was our first official homeschool day. We decided that we were just going to finish out 1st grade, and would probably put him back in school in 2nd grade. We finished 1st grade (albeit barely, lol) and thought well…that wasn’t so bad. Let’s see if we can homeschool 2nd grade. Turns out, we could.

Fast forward through a couple of years of struggling to find our groove, and a curriculum that fit not only their needs as students, but my needs as a busy and often far-too-scattered-to-lesson-plan parent.

That 1st grader is now an 11th grader. And yep, he’s still a homeschooler. My youngest, who is currently in the 6th grade, has never set foot in a public school. We ask each of them, every year, if this is the year they want to see what public school is like, but every year, the answer is the same. Nope, we’re good, thanks.

While homeschooling isn’t the right choice for every family, it was the best decision this family ever made. I’ll never say it’s always been easy, or always been fun. There have been arguments. There have been frustrated tears. But the happy moments, and the memories we’ve made and the relationship we developed as a family–those things have far outweighed everything else. :)

So now it’s your turn. Were you accidental homeschoolers? Share your story with me in the comments below!

image via Time4Learning

image via Time4Learning

Fall Crafts for Kids

I know, I know. This is a techie blog. But every now and then, even the most intense gadget-addicts need a screen break, right? ;)

This time of year is one of my favorites. The cooler weather means I get to pull out my hoodies (THE best thing to wear if you ask me) and spend a little more time outside. It’s also the time of year when the artsy and the craftsy parts of me get all twitchy and ready to make an appearance.

Fall crafts for kids can be super fun. They can be as easy or as involved as you like. And where else but the internet would you find more craft ideas than you know what to do with?

Here are a few crafts/activities that my boys enjoyed doing:

Thanksgiving napkin ring placeholders – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/256705247487838121/

Book to make after exploring pumpkins – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/256705247487706674/

Painted acorns – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/256705247487694034/

Now it’s your turn. Do you have some fun fall inspiration to share with us, and our readers? Please link to your own blog or pins (or instructional elsewhere) in the comments!

Happy fall! :)

T4L-Fall2015-Promos-Final-4

Preventing Summer Brain Drain

Whether you homeschool or not, summer brain drain seems to be a real issue. Kiddos learn and learn and learn all school year long, then when they take an extended break, end up seeming to forget so much of what they absorbed throughout the year.

What are some things that you can do to help prevent that brain drain?

Play online learning games. This is especially fun for those elementary aged children who love being on the computer. There are paid sites AND free sites out there with tons of games. One of my family’s favorite free sites is Learning Games for Kids. SO. Many. Games. :D

If your children are older, keep their minds active by practicing spelling and vocabulary word building skills. Vocabulary Spelling City can help with that, for all grades, K-12!

Go outside and explore. Seems basic enough but many people forget just how much they can learn from simply walking around their neighborhood or town. Nature, science, history…it could all be right there near you.

If you’re looking for something more formal than game play, as maybe a summer school program or a summer learning program that’s an alternative to traditional summer school, take a peek at how Time4Learning can help you during the summer months.

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What about you and your family? What tips and tricks do you have for keeping young brains sharp during the summer break?

Homeschooling in the News

As a homeschooler, I find it interesting to keep up with homeschool trends, and reading about homeschooling when news articles come across my feed.

Why? I’m not sure, lol. I mean…I *am* a homeschooler and have been for years, so I don’t need validation in my choice to home educate. Or do I? Maybe that’s what it is. Deep down, the more I read about how the “homeschooling movement” is growing, or how poorly some school systems are doing, the more I feel like the universe is telling me I made the right choice. :)

What are some great reads right now, as far as homeschoolers in the news goes?

This was a good story: What This Homeschool Mom Thinks About How the Government Regulates Homeschooling.

I also really enjoyed this Huffington Post article/interview: Homeschooling – Setting the Record Straight. 

So have YOU seen any good homeschooling stores in the news lately? Please chime in and leave the links in the comments!

Do you Symbaloo?

Can you believe we’re already a month into 2015?! I can’t either. Just crazy…

On this the blog of all things electronic/online (I totally said that a la The Godfather…”on this the day of my daughter’s wedding…” heehee), I think it’s time we talk about Symbaloo.

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What is it?

In Symabloo’s own words, “Symbaloo is a visual bookmarking tool that makes it simple and fun to organize the best of the web. You have all your favorite websites at your fingertips.” Sounds cool, yeah? It’s super simple to use, and super simple to keep everything pertaining to one thing (for example: homeschooling, elementary science, etc.) in one easily accessible place.

You can use it from a desktop, a tablet, even a mobile phone.

Ready to jump right in? Here are some symbaloo webmixes I can recommend:

http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/homeschoolwebsites
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/sciencesongs3 –
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/vocabularyspellingcity
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/wordgames2
http://www.symbaloo.com/home/mix/homeschoolwebsites
https://www.symbaloo.com/home/mix/educationalwebsites5
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/k2elementaryscience
http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/kindergarten-2ndgrade

Do you have some favorite webmixes of your own that you would like to share? Chime in and link to them in the comments below!

FUN Holiday Resources

My kids love this time of year. They love getting ready for Christmas, and they really enjoy learning about the other winter holidays that are honored and celebrated.

And to be honest, they love having a break from their “regular” homeschool stuff, lol. We have so much going on this time of year, it’s hard to maintain any sort of schedule or routine. Having said that though, I don’t want them doing nothing as far as school work goes.

So how can we continue learning, but have holiday fun too? By finding and using holiday resources like these:

Holiday word lists from VocabularySpellingCity – this site has TONS of holiday word lists. Use them to create fun printables, like crossword puzzles and word searches, and/or for online game play. Here are just a few lists pulled from their site…
*Hanukkah Spelling List
*Christmas Spelling List
*Winter Solstice Spelling List
*New Year’s Eve Spelling List

Here’s a great site for learning the Vocabulary of the Holidays.

Creative Holidays for Teens – great ideas from the Let’s Homeschool High School team.

Is your homeschool a secular homeschool? There are resources for you too! Holiday Learning Resources for the Secular Homeschooler.

Hope you find these helpful, and I wish you and yours a very happy holiday, no matter which holiday it is you celebrate! :)

I found this beautiful image here: http://www.pointsoflight.org/blog/2012/12/24/happy-holidays-and-happy-new-year

I found this beautiful image here: http://www.pointsoflight.org/blog/2012/12/24/happy-holidays-and-happy-new-year

 

Help for Busy Homeschoolers

This time of year is always crazy busy for us. We have family spread out and we do a lot of traveling to visit everyone. There are more activities with our homeschool group, and there are more things to see and do around us; Christmas lights, holiday parades, shopping, etc.

So it’s now, when I need the most help as far as quick homeschool ideas. Things I can find for them to work on, that I don’t have to put a lot of planning into.  I rely, not surprisingly, on the Internet for this help. Typically, I like to formally “break” for the month of December, but I don’t want the boys to do nothing, so we focus on holiday specific stuff.

The boys love learning about winter holidays other than the one we celebrate. Lapbooking or little unit studies are a great way to do this. They can make holiday specific recipes, learn and document about the history of the holiday (for my older one, this documentation could be written or drawn, but for the younger one, this is mostly drawn) and more.

Since spelling and reading are areas we rarely take a break from, they will also work on holiday spelling lists and go through some book reviews to find holiday related activities/books.

Share with me! What are some of your resources for homeschool help…holiday specific or not. :)

Printable Resources and Worksheets

 

A list of free printable resources and worksheets perfect for homeschool or as a school supplement.

Wait. What? Isn’t this the “Electronic Age” blog?

Don’t go anywhere…you’re in the right place! Normally we do focus on all things connected. But what do you do when you need/want to disconnect for a little while?

Whether you want stuff to have on hand if the power/internet goes out, or you want to hang out outside and away from home, or you just want to pull your kiddos and their eyeballs away from a screen for a bit, printable worksheets can come in really handy. So here are some of my favorite printables and printable resources:

Handwriting worksheets – I like to create our handwriting worksheets over at SpellingCity.com. Why? Two (or three if you count vocabulary practice as well as spelling practice) birds with one stone. I just grab some of their weekly spelling lists and viola! Done. ;)

Lapbooking printables – You can find TONS of lapbook resources out there…everything from the super detailed, all the way to the super simple. One cute such “simple” is this free lapbook pocket printable from Time4Writing.

Sample printable worksheets – Don’t really need a lot, or not sure what you need? You can find free and sample worksheets all over the web. Even paid curriculum programs like Time4Learning offer sample worksheets that you can print for free!

Game play – Not all FUN game play has to be done online (shock!). Some of our favorite (and free…there’s that word again!) game websites offer printable versions of some of their games. A word search from Vocabulary Fun or math crossword puzzle from Learning Games for Kids are just a couple examples.

What about things that you may need to print, that aren’t really worksheets at all? Things like templates, certificates, etc? Ask and you shall receive. :D

Printable Homeschool Transcript Templates
Printable Homeschool Diploma Templates
Printable Graduation Planner
Printable Homeschool Report Card Template
Printable Community Service Log

So those are some of my favorites. Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite printables and printable resources (free or paid) in the comments below!