Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: homeschool
Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschool. Show all posts

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How to prepare for a homeschool prom

https://www.flickr.com/photos/copa41/143827510

Homeschool.

Prom?

Wait a minute.  Do those two words actually go together? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, they do. And no, homeschool prom is really nothing like the clich├ęd depiction you might have seen on TV where one lonely homeschooled girl in a homemade dress dances with her weirded-out, public-schooled date in the basement while her grandma serves punch and her mom takes pictures.

Homeschool proms have actually grown in both size and popularity as homeschooling itself has taken off in recent years. With conservative estimates placing the number of homeschoolers in the United States at well over 2 million and growing, there is no shortage of kids available in every state for a high school prom. If your teens want to attend, you need to prepare early... here's how to do it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to plan the perfect co-op class

If you've been a homeschooler for very long, you might find yourself in the position to teach a class in your local homeschool group or co-op. Although some folks come by this skill naturally, for others, teaching a group of students can be a daunting prospect.


Teaching a homeschool co-op class can be an extremely rewarding and enriching experience, though, and seeing you take on the challenge can inspire your children to tackle opportunities of their own as they get older. So, here are a few simple and easy tips to help you plan the perfect co-op class, your way!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Favorite games for homeschoolers

We play a lot of games in our house. We always have. Not only are games great family fun, but they can be an excellent way for kids to learn. Once our closet was full of the all the children’s standards, like Candyland, Memory, Cooties and Twister, I found myself looking for new and better games. 

I wanted games that would be fun for the whole family, and challenging enough to keep the kids playing for a long time. I looked beyond the shelves at my local discount store, and found a whole array of games that are both fun and educational. 



After a while, I discovered that these lesser-known games are the ones my homeschoolers prefer, and the ones they still play with after years and years, while Candyland and Memory have been pushed to the back of the closet.

Here are a few of our favorite games that stand the test of time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

THE UNPLANNER, 2016 Do-Over Edition is available now!

Okay, homeschoolers, let's hear it. Who needs a fresh start?

As I've shared before, my first year of homeschooling, my planner was a disaster. It had too many blanks to fill in, leaving me stressed out. I messed up and planned ahead - in pen - and hated how messy everything looked as I had to scribble through my best laid plans and start again. And basically, I just gave up on it by the end of October.

I would have loved to have a crisp new planner to start again, without having to look at all those messy pages. But homeschool planners can be so expensive.



That's why I decided to publish a Do-Over Edition to The Unplanner this year! You shouldn't have to wait until the fall to start over with a brand new organizer and a fresh start, and at just $6.99, The Unplanner, 2016 Do-Over Edition, it's as affordable as a stocking stuffer.

Whether you messed up your homeschool planner, discovered that the one you purchased in the fall was not a good fit, or simply started homeschooling late in the year and want an organizer that won't waste months of calendar pages, I've got you covered!

Get a copy of The Unplanner, 2016 Do-Over Edition in my store for just $6.99 today. The calendars start in January and run all the way through a full 13 months, so you'll get your money's worth whether you use them the full year or just until the fall.

You deserve a fresh start!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When did all my friends become homeschoolers?

I first noticed it when a few of the moms in my homeschool group started hosting parties for things like Usborne Books, Thirty-One Gifts and Mary Kay. Several offered me a chance to host my own party, at home or online, and earn free gifts. But nearly all the people I might invite to a party had already been invited, because we were all in the same circle. All my friends were homeschoolers!

Had I managed to sleep through a social revolution, whereby homeschoolers had taken over the planet? Sadly, no, but just think about how much fun that would be. Alas, I knew that homeschoolers were still a small but growing minority in our society, so I had to ask myself, when did all my friends, at least the ones I see on a regular basis, become homeschoolers?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rfranklinaz/150250130
  

The ever changing friends list


If you are like me, you've probably noticed that your friendships have changed as your life has evolved. In college, your friends seemed like they'd be a part of your life forever. But graduation came, you got jobs, everyone moved off in different directions. I still have a few close friends from college who I really love, but it's hard to stay close when you're literally hundreds of miles apart.

Sometimes it's hard to stay close even when you're living right in the same small town. But as marriage, parenthood, work and other commitments take up time, you end up choosing who you'll spend your time with, often based on how much you have in common.

Homeschooling is a major lifestyle choice. It tends to put families on a different schedule than their public schooling peers. It shines a light on those who are critical and disapproving of your choices, and challenges those who feel threatened or judged by the fact that you chose something different for your children than they chose for theirs.

As shallow friendships fall to the wayside, the door is opened to new friendships, often with other homeschoolers who share much in common with you. You may miss the friends who've gone their own way, or you may even be relieved to be rid of some of them, because you've changed so much you just aren't compatible with one another anymore.

The change is gradual, but one day you look around and notice, like me, that you are surrounded by other homeschoolers... and you like it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

So long, monarch butterflies

It's been about a month since we first found our monarch caterpillars in the back yard, and a couple of weeks since we released the butterflies back into the wild. 


What an exciting experience it was to watch the caterpillars eat voraciously as they prepared to enter their pupa stage and then observe each day as we waited for them to emerge from their chrysalis.

As the first caterpillar's chrysalis began to turn transparent, and we could see the markings of the butterfly inside, we put a couple of zinnia blossoms from my mother's garden inside the terrarium.


After the butterfly emerged, late in the evening while we were out of the house, we gave it time to rest in the terrarium overnight.


The next day, we carefully transferred the butterfly to a portable carrier, being as gentle as possible so we wouldn't harm it or disturb the other caterpillar, still in its chrysalis in the terrarium.



Then we took the butterfly to my parents' house so that when it was released, it would be in the middle of a flower garden with lots of blooms, a perfect place to prepare for its long journey south.


The second butterfly emerged a couple of days later, apparently in the wee hours of the night. We went to bed and awoke the next morning to find it hanging from its chrysalis, gently turning back and forth.

We didn't disturb it for several hours, giving it plenty of time for its wings to dry before moving it to the carrier so we could release it in the garden. It flew up into a tree and sat there in the afternoon sun, fanning its wings.



We were able to tell by the markings that both of the monarch butterflies we raised were male. You can read more about determining the sex of a monarch butterfly here.



By now, I am sure our butterflies are well on their way to their southern destination. We hope that their journeys are safe and that their offspring return to our area for many years to come.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Don't skip the word problems

I recently read a post from a new homeschooler, who said that her daughter liked math, but hated doing word problems to the point that it was often a battle just to get her to do them. She asked whether word problems are really necessary, or if her child could skip them, since she knew how to do the math anyway.

I say, emphatically, don't skip the word problems!

I know, your kids may hate word problems, and you might be wondering why they really matter, especially if you are confident that your children already knows how to do the math required to solve them. But here's the thing. Word problems require different skills than simple equations, and your students need to master both types of skills for a few good reasons.

Preparation for real life scenarios


Word problems require students to first determine from the information provided what math is required in order to find a solution. This is a completely different skill than being able to complete math problems laid out as simple equations.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/4976397532

In real life, we're seldom presented with problems that are already laid out in an equation. Instead, we find ourselves answering questions like, how many pizzas do we need to feed our son's hungry baseball team if each of the nine boys can eat three slices of pizza and the pizzas are cut into eight slices.

We need added skills in order to parse out the information provided by a scenario like this and then determine how to come to a solution. That's the main reason why word problems are so important, they prepare you for real life math.

Preparation for exams


You'll want to pay special attention to word problems, especially if your child is college bound, because exams like the SAT, ACT and PSAT all have them. And if your child is not adept at solving word problems, their scores will suffer.

There may be no worse feeling for a student than freezing up on an exam question, knowing that the timer is ticking and the problem doesn't make any sense. Precious moments tick away, as you sit there, confused and frustrated.

Being unprepared for tricky word problems may cause your child to not only lose points on those questions, but also other math problems that they are unable to complete because they've run out of time.

Scholarship money is at play


I've told my own kids, who dislike word problems as much as any average middle schoolers, that these types of problems really are what separate the good math students from the great, especially with respect to scholarship contenders. Everyone competing for scholarships will have learned the basic math required to do well on the tests. But that added skill, of being able to read a complicated word problem and deduce what solution is required, is what will set the best scorers apart.

If you've neglected word problems, it's not too late. You can always start building your child's problem solving skills. Start with word problems that require math your child is already proficient at doing, so they can become confident at looking at math outside of neat little equations. Help them learn to think like a detective, and hunt for clues within the word problem that will tell them what question is being asked and how they'll go about solving it.

As the word problems get easier for your child, move along to more complicated math. Your goal is to help them learn to solve word problems confidently and in a timely manner, without confusion and frustration standing in their way.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Very hungry caterpillars head toward the pupa stage

The two large monarch caterpillars we found earlier this week are doing well. We couldn't spot the tiny one today, but we hope it is just hiding and growing. I wanted to post an update on the larger two, though, because things are definitely moving along quickly.

It has been two days since we brought the caterpillars inside and put them in the terrarium. The bigger caterpillar has entered the J stage of development, attaching itself to a stem in preparation for forming its chrysalis.



The smaller caterpillar is still a virtual eating machine. Overnight, it had devoured most of its leaves, so we added fresh leaves from the plant in the back yard. If it has not entered its J stage tomorrow, we'll have to hunt in nearby fields for fresh milkweed, because almost all the leaves from the original vine are now gone.



In the meantime, you can see how much the hungry caterpillar munched out of this new leaf in just a minute or so after we replenished its supply.

Here's a link to another blog, the Texas Butterfly Ranch by Monika Maeckle, and her post all about raising monarch butterflies. She has some gorgeous photos and lots of helpful advice. I love that there are so many great resources where knowledgeable folks have shared their experience and families like ours can not only get a great homeschool science lesson, but also learn what we need to know to successfully help a few more monarch butterflies survive.

Friday, September 11, 2015

What kind of caterpillar is that?

Tonight, just before the sun went down, my younger daughter made a fantastic find in our back yard. She spotted a large caterpillar on a vine that was wrapped in and around the hibiscus that stands at the corner of the house. 


Thankfully, I hadn't been very good about weeding our flower beds this year, because if I had, that vine would have been removed early in the summer, and the monarch butterfly that laid her eggs its leaves would have had to search for someplace else to reproduce.

If you look closely at the leaf my daughters brought inside the house, you'll notice that not only was there a large monarch butterfly caterpillar, there was a tiny baby caterpillar as well!



The girls were so excited to discover that they'd found monarch caterpillars, we decided to see if we could gather some more leaves and let the caterpillars grow safely inside the terrarium we'd used earlier this summer to keep Jackie Chan, the ninja-like tree frog we'd raised from a tadpole. We had released Jackie Chan in a tree outdoors a few weeks after he completed his metamorphosis, so the terrarium was ready for a new inhabitant.

We found more of the same type of leaves, from a vine in the milkweed family, and on them we found another monarch caterpillar and a whole bunch more caterpillars we couldn't identify.

"What kind of caterpillar is that?" asked my daughters? "Will they hurt us?"



I didn't know, but the fuzzy creatures in striking black and orange, with funny white tufts sticking out here and there certainly looked alarming to me. "Don't touch," I answered. "Let's look them up."

Using the same research skills we practiced when we identified the strange fungus growing on our walnut tree this spring, we looked for information online that would help us identify the unknown caterpillar in the back yard.

We found a caterpillar identification tool that let us check distinguishing characteristics to help identify our species, and discovered in just a few clicks that the caterpillar sharing the vine with our monarchs was none other than the milkweed tussock moth, which is commonly found eating the same vegetation as monarchs.

We left these caterpillars alone, and took the other monarch inside, along with several fresh leaves, so they would have plenty to eat. Then we set about researching monarch butterflies, how to raise them, and how they live in the wild.

We can't wait to see our caterpillars change and grow into beautiful monarch butterflies, and release them to help maintain their population. And you can bet we won't be removing their vine of choice next summer. In fact, we might even give it a little trellis beside the hibiscus, so the butterflies will have a place to lay their eggs next year.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Road trip tips for homeschoolers

One of the best ways for children to learn anything is to get out there and experience it for themselves. Whether you're learning about art, science, math, history or any subject at all, a first hand experience can make all the difference. But depending on where you live, you may find that the things you want your kids to see and do are not in your own back yard. That's when it's time to consider a road trip!



Road trips can be a fantastic learning experience for all kinds of families, but especially homeschoolers. That's because most homeschoolers have greater freedom to explore, and at different times of the year than their peers, and they have the ability to work learning adventures into their curriculum at any point in the course of their studies. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the most of your homeschooling road trips.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Improving memory work with music: A review of Cross Seven Classical Education

One of the most common questions homeschoolers ask is how to teach math facts to their kids in ways that will actually stick. It's so frustrating to go over and over the material, only to discover that your children have not retained much, if any of it. Unfortunately, this is often the case when it comes to basic math facts, like sums and multiples, and it's enough to make many new homeschoolers want to throw in the towel.

Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right way to present the material, though, that makes the difference and finally allows the information to register in your child's long term memory. Worksheets and computer games may not be doing the trick, for instance, because your child may be an auditory learner.

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Auditory learners, and almost all students, really, can benefit from having material presented in ways that stimulate more of their brain. Combining music, rhythm, and visual cues can give your child's brain more ways to process and store the information, and to remember it later.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What inspires your kids?

As homeschoolers, we have a unique opportunity not given to other educators. We get to spend time with our students, around the clock and for years on end, getting to know them as no one else can.

We're not like ordinary classroom teachers. We don't have a new class full of students every year, all coming from widely varied backgrounds, about whose home lives we can only guess. Our time with them is not limited to a scant nine months, a veritable blink of an eye in which to make an impression.

We're not like ordinary parents, either. We generally don't have to rely on a muttered, "Fine," or "I don't know," to glean a bit of information about our children's day in the few hours between the time they get home from school and bedtime. Our days are largely spent with our kids, learning together and socializing with families we are able to get to know one on one.

So, as homeschoolers, we might expect to have a better insight into our own kids than most, if only because of the gift of time we're able to spend with them, both on a daily basis and over the years of their childhood. But still, many of us wrestle with the question of how to effectively inspire our children to learn.

The magical key to learning


Wouldn't it be nice if we could find the magical key to learning and just unlock every bit of potential in our kids? If only we could hone in on that one amazing thing that inspires them like no other.

But in truth, most kids don't seem to work that way. They're remarkable individuals whose interests and fascinations change continually. It's okay if for a while they seem obsessed with one thing, be it dinosaurs or Barbie, Minecraft or bugs. And it's okay if suddenly, they're completely over that interest and on to something else.

Whatever excites your children's imagination, whatever gets them motivated to play, explore, practice and learn, those things are our keys to more inspirational learning experiences.

Building on inspiration


I've used lots of my kids' interests to enhance our homeschool experience. A few years ago, when my twins were raising a pair of fancy mice, Cocoa and Fluffy were frequent features in their art and writing samples. More recently, when I realized that they were filled with passion for Minecraft, we enrolled in a few sessions of Minecraft Homeschool to incorporate their love of the game into studies of creative writing and ancient history. And when my son discovered an enthusiasm for roller coasters, we used that to study physics and descriptive writing techniques.

My youngest is seven, and her greatest inspiration at the moment is our puppy, Loki. Loki makes her happy, and like many homeschoolers, she enjoys school more with her dog by her side.





He even inspires her school work. Take for instance the haiku she wrote last week.


LOKI

Loki is a dog
He won't give me his red ball
Because he loves it



As a homeschooler, you have the gift of time with your kids; time to see what truly inspires them and encourage them to follow those inspirations and learn more. Don't overdo it by painting their whole world the color of their current passion, but build on their inspirations, in simple ways, as if you were adding splashes of their favorite colors to a room. Look for ways to incorporate what they love into their learning experience, and you will make homeschooling that much more memorable and exciting for them. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

A review of 'Beware the Blackness! A Jellywonker Adventure'

When my friend, author Rebecca Black, asked me to review her latest book, I was thrilled. She sent me a free copy of the e-version of the book to share with my kids, and we sat down with it before bed one night to read the story.

"Beware the Blackness! A Jellywonker Adventure" is the second in the Jellywonker series created by Black. It follows the adventure of a little Jellywonker named Ted, who loves nothing more than cleaning the ocean and traveling around, learning about his big underwater world.


Ted the Jellywonker is joined on this adventure by his friend, Humphrey, a humpbacked whale, and Maud, a motherly pelican. What begins as an ordinary day turns into a long journey, north to Alaska, where Ted learns all about a major underwater mountain range, an unfamiliar habitat, and the effects oil spills can have on local wildlife.

Much like the combination of real photographs and whimsical illustrations, the book combines a fun and adventuresome story with real facts and lessons about ocean life and structures.

My homeschoolers like stories that give them enough information about the setting that they can go to a map and learn more. This book does just that. It also provides lots of opportunities for further research, on topics such as sea mounts and underwater volcanoes, aquatic birds, and how people can help address and prevent pollution from oil spills.

I liked that the book could be taken simply as a bedtime story for little ones, or read more in depth, as a learning prompt for older students. We look forward to reading more Jellywonker adventures in the future!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pond biology: Who's afraid of a little muck?

Last week, my girls had quite an adventure with their best friend. We took a little drive out to the country to visit our friends on their farm. The girls played with the dogs and cats, followed the baby chickens around the yard and helped feed the goats. They even got to watch two young foals playing in the field.

Before we left, though, we got out our nets and buckets to get down to the business we'd come to the farm to do. We were there to learn about life in the pond.


Pond biology was always one of my favorite subjects to teach as a naturalist, mostly because kids were always astonished at just how much life lurked under the surface of a still pond.

In our short time collecting specimens, we found at least two different species of tadpoles, including the leopard frog below and a tree frog that lost its tail the day after we brought it home. We also found a leech, a salamander and several species of aquatic insects. Who knows how many microbial life forms we brought home in our buckets!



Ordinarily, we would catch and release wildlife after observing it for just a little while, because most wild things belong in nature, not in captivity. But I felt comfortable keeping the tadpoles and frogs for a while, because I have experience caring for those creatures, and it will be an incredible learning experience for the kids to see them complete their metamorphoses.


I love these photos of our brave girls, wading in the muck searching for wildlife. It was a hot and sticky afternoon, and they got tired, but they had so much fun looking for just one more good sized tadpole before calling it a day.




Saturday, May 30, 2015

Homeschooling is the best!



I've shared before that I was a wildlife biologist back before, you know, I chucked all that aside to be a full-time mom and the Unplanned Homeschooler. Well, a post I saw today in one of my favorite Facebook groups really caught my eye.

Fellow homeschooler, Kara Alysce, shared photos she'd taken when she and her daughters went for a walk and happened upon one of the most awesome unplanned learning adventures I have seen in a while.

Kara and her girls happened across this gorgeous turtle. And guess what she was doing...


Laying her eggs! Look closely and you can see one of the eggs about to emerge from the cloaca.



And here's the best part. Kara didn't stop with just observing the turtle. She called a Turtle Rescue hotline to learn more, and shared that information with her girls and with all of the homeschoolers on the Facebook group!

Here is the post she wrote, shared with permission...

  • The girls and I went for a walk and we found this Mama Turtle laying her eggs! Homeschool is the freaking best! We learned that these Painted Turtles are on their own from now on. The Mama takes off and the father(s) only serve one purpose. His sperm can stay inside her for 5 years and each baby could have a different father! They will hatch under ground in 60-90 days. When they hatch, they will stay under ground all Winter. They freeze! Their hearts stop beating and freeze and when Spring comes, their hearts start beating again and they thaw. They come out of a hole the size of thumb and go on their way. Incredible.


Homeschooling really IS the best! Keep having those unplanned learning adventures, everyone!

The Unplanner is available now!

THE UNPLANNER is not like other homeschool planners you may have seen. Brought to you by the Unplanned Homeschooler, this organizer will help you record all of your amazing learning adventures without overloading you with pages and blanks you'll never fill in.



I understand that too much planning can lead to stress, anxiety and even feelings of guilt, especially for new homeschoolers. You don't need that!

What does THE UNPLANNER include?


In addition to helpful advice, you'll get attendance sheets for each of your students, Month at a Glance pages to help you track your appointments and upcoming events, Year in Review pages to help you record all the work your kids have done as you go and do a little light planning, and Learning Adventures pages to record the field trips, experiments and other special experiences you won't want to forget.


I designed THE UNPLANNER to cover a full 13 months, from July 2015 all the way through July 2016, because I know how frustrating it is to procrastinate and not get your new organizer in time. And priced at just $6.49, it probably costs less than what you would spend to print your own planner pages and bind them yourself.

THE UNPLANNER is professionally bound in a convenient 6x9 inch paperback, perfectly sized to toss in your bag and carry with you wherever you go. It has all the pages you need, and none of the ones you don't.

You can do this! You'll never feel like you're a failure at planning again. So relax, place your order, get your pencils ready and let's get started.


How to purchase THE UNPLANNER

It's easy! THE UNPLANNER comes in six versions, customized for 1 to 6 students. You can order the version of your choice from Amazon and take advantage of free shipping or order directly from CreateSpace by clicking one of the links below.

THE UNPLANNER from Amazon - $6.49






THE UNPLANNER for 6 Students - $6.49


And don't forget to check out my first book, The Unplanned Homeschooler: My Disorganized Path to Homeschooling Success. It's available in my store on Kindle or paperback. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Not one more day

Today I watched one of the saddest videos I have ever seen. In an excerpt from the Champion of Choices DVD, bereaved mother, Amy Briggs of New York told the world about her son, Daniel.

Daniel was a loving and caring young man, who had been bullied horribly at school for most of his life. His mom talked about how he helped a neighbor who had cancer until he died, then carried on assisting the man's wife after she was widowed. He was, for all accounts, a good kid.

But like so many good kids, he became a target for bullies at his school. And when he could no longer take it, he decided to take his own life.


Briggs wept as she told of how her son lost hope, and after a particularly awful text message from a classmate, decided to end it all. She shared how her son told people at school, and even the bus driver on his way home, but no one listened. No one did anything.

This bereaved mother told her son's story, begging viewers not to let the same thing happen to anyone else. "Do something," she said. Don't just stand by and let someone you know become a victim of suicide.


I see so many posts, at least a half dozen every single week, from moms whose children are being tortured by bullies at school. They are on the fence about homeschooling, asking for advice about whether they should pull their kids out of school.

I don't know if homeschooling might have saved the life of Daniel Briggs, or so many other young people who have committed suicide after years of being bullied in school. But I think if your child is being bullied, and you are worried about them, you should follow your instincts and do something. Don't depend on classmates, or teachers, or even counselors at school to save your child. 

Don't wait. Not one more day. Do something before it is too late. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sneak peek at The Unplanner, available by June 1

I've been putting together organizers for myself for years, including the pages I need to record all the important information about what we did, and leaving out all the superfluous blanks that I knew I would never fill out anyway. These streamlined organizers allowed me to do a little light planning, but not so much that it bogged me down and left me feeling defeated. 

My Unplanners, as I called them, gave me a place to write down what we did each day, in brief, and to record attendance. And I always included extra space for writing about our many field trips and adventures, because that's the part I want to remember the most.  

This year, at the regional homeschool convention, several moms told me that if I were to customize an affordable Unplanner for the number of kids in their families, that they didn't have to print out and have bound, they would buy them in a heartbeat. I thought, why not?

So here's a sneak peek at the cover of The Unplanner, this one customized for one student. I'll also have customized versions available for use with two to six students by June 1. 



The Unplanner covers the months of July 2015 through July 2016. That's right, I included a whole extra month because I know we're not all organized enough to have a new planner ready to go the day the old one runs out.

I understand that too much planning can lead to stress, anxiety and even feelings of guilt, especially for new homeschoolers. You don't need that!

The Unplanner has all the pages you need, and none of the ones you don't, so you'll never feel like you're a failure at planning again. Look for it in my store or on Amazon by June 1!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Free video lessons on the periodic table

You're going to want to share this post with all your homeschooling friends, especially those who are about to start teaching physical science or chemistry.

I was a bit of a chemistry nut. I spent the summer of my eighth grade year auditing a chemistry class at the local university, and the next summer volunteering as a lab assistant for a professor who knew how to get students excited about science.

http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1266636


I think most kids like chemistry, because its fun! Things change colors and explode, liquids become solids or gases, and everything happens right before your eyes. It's like magic, but with the answers right there at your fingertips if you're just willing to learn the secret formulas.

Parents are often afraid to teach chemistry, though, and this can lead to their kids being scared to learn. You don't want your kids to be afraid to learn about chemistry. You want them to be excited. Well, I just stumbled across a free tool that can help both you and your kids get excited about chemistry, one remarkable element at a time.

A team from the University of Nottingham put together a set of videos and lessons on the TED-Ed platform featuring the elements of the periodic table. They're called Periodic Videos. Starting off with a boom, you and your kids can learn all about hydrogen, the smallest element, and work your way through the periodic table one at a time until you've learned about them all.



I just finished watching the videos for hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, three of the most important elements in our world, and even after years of chemistry classes, I actually learned a thing or two I didn't know before.

If you register on TED-Ed, you and your students can take quizzes and learn even more after watching the videos. And it's all free! This resource would be a great way to introduce young kids to the periodic table, even before they are proficient readers, and a terrific supplement to any chemistry curriculum you are using for older students.

Please share this free resource with other homeschoolers, especially those who are feeling nervous about teaching science. It's just one of the many ways they can have fun with chemistry while educating their kids at home.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Free grammar and spelling lessons on Facebook

Sometimes free resources just fall into your lap, as did this little unexpected lesson in grammar and spelling correction I found on Facebook.



A woman in Wills Point, Texas made an angry post about a formerly homeschooled student who was selected as this year's valedictorian. According to her post, the senior had been in the public school system for two years before being chosen as the valedictorian, and that angered some in the town. The principal even reportedly protested the award, refusing to announce the young man as valedictorian.

According to this poster and other Facebook users from the Wills Point area, the school board will consider the situation, and possibly the principal's continued employment, at a meeting scheduled for May 28.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to let my own homeschooled students use the post as a free grammar and spelling lesson, because learning to recognize and correct errors is an important language arts skill. I recommend printing the gems you find on Facebook for your own children to correct. You can't beat free lessons that just keep on coming!

UPDATE: