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.

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.

T4L-SummerLearningMeme-2015-1

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!

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!

Summer Learning, Had Me A Blast…

Wait…that’s not how the song goes, is it? ;)

summer-school-blackboard-md

So let’s talk gearing up for summer. How many of you fabulous readers do school, in some form or fashion, during the summer? Do you have public/private schoolers that have to go to summer school? Is the summer a time when you need a little help with tutoring?

What about the homeschoolers out there? Do you take a summer break, or do you do the year round thing?

We homeschool and technically do the year round thing, but usually we end up finished with the current grade level by the end of July or so. So, there’s some time off because we don’t start the next school year until after Labor Day. This works out well for us. Because, my guys…I tell ya, if they had 2.5 – 3 months off from school, they wouldn’t remember A THING, lol.

In our break time, or if we need a light school day because we want to play, we focus on some things they don’t find “school-ish.”

Apps and games!

There are tons of educational apps out there, and honestly, spelling games on their Spelling City app is the least frustrating way we have to get them to do willingly do spelling.

Online games are a great way to reinforce and retain. You can find websites that offer free games; everything from math games and art games, to literature games online and Latin learning games. Game play usually equals fun, and I’m all about trying to make learning fun!

Now tell me. What are your summer learning plans?

Elementary Science

If you’re here, then you already know we love all things electronic/techie/gadgety/online. :D

Knowing that, it would make sense to share when we find something that appeals to us, and would more than likely appeal to our readers. With that, I’d like to let you know about a new elementary homeschool science program called Science4Us.

The Science4Us curriculum is a complete, standards-based, core science curriculum that delivers digital science experiences to early elementary students. While it would be a perfect addition to any homeschool, it would also be a great supplemental program for those in public/private schools.

They have some great interactive demos for both teachers/parents AND students! Head on over, give it a look, and come back and let me know what you think. :)

Free and Open Online Courses for High School

Homeschooling through high school can be tough, for both parents AND students! What do you do if your child needs extra help, or wants additional studies in a specific subject area? What if they want to start taking some college courses at home? If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a great deal of time thinking about transcripts, admissions, student loans and everything else that goes along with high school and college, as well as how much all of that COSTS.

Having said all that, I have something to share with you. It might be shocking to hear, but take a deep breath and continue reading…

Are you ready?

There are free courses available online. Free. Online. Available to everyone.

Still with me? ;)

Organizations like the Saylor Foundation have made college/continuing education courses available for a while, but recently launched open online K-12 courses (Saylor Foundation Launches Open Online K-12 Courses)! Their course selection is limited right now, but they do plan on adding more as they can. Immediately available is an American Literature course, as well as a couple of math courses. Oh, and all of these are aligned to the common core state standards!

In addition to the Saylor Foundation, major universities are opening up certain online courses for high schoolers. Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, Duke, Harvard, UCLA, Yale and Carnegie Mellon are just some of the major schools offering free courses right now! From Quantum Mechanics, to Classical Greek Civilizations, to Current Media Studies (and everything in between), there is something for everyone.

These courses would be great for beefing up transcripts (imagine applying to a college or university, already having college level courses under your belt!). They would also work well as a complement to your traditional curricula. If your high schooler is still undecided about what they want to pursue in college, trying out some different courses would be a fantastic way to explore career interests. And one last suggestion as to why you might want your child to enroll in one or more of these courses: keeping their brains engaged and sharp over the summer!

If your high schooler wants to attend a specific college/university, definitely check their course listings and see what they have to offer as dual enrollment or pre-college options.

Online Summer Learning

Brain drain. It happens all the time. Kids everywhere experience it. Young minds feel so fresh and full when the school year wraps up, only to feel slow and groggy and not as full when the next school year rolls around in a few months.

imagesSo what can you do to help prevent the summer brain drain in your kiddos?

Here are some excellent online resources that you have at your avail. These online resources can be a nice break from traditional workbook/textbook learning environments, and work well for homeschoolers and public/private schoolers alike!

Time4Learning – T4L is a fun, multimedia program for grades K-8 that has lessons and activities for language arts, math, science and social studies. It can be used for summer learning, but can also be used all year long as a core curriculum, or as a supplemental resource.

VocabularySpellingCity – VSC is an award winning program who’s mission is efficient game-based study of literacy skills. Their summer program is perfect for all grades, K-12!

Time4Writing – Writing, whether it be creatively or essay writing for the SAT (and everything in between), can be one of the hardest areas for students fighting brain drain. With T4W’s flexible course schedule, summer writing practice has never been easier.

These are just a few, of many, online resources out there. Share with us…what are your YOUR favorite resources and activities for fun summer learning?