Sunday, September 11, 2011

Favorite Homeschooling Find #2

I had actually planned to choose a different website as my second-favorite homeschooling find, but the need to occupy my four-year-old, hopefully in a vaguely educational way, prodded me to rediscover this little gem.  When Mr. D. was begging me to let him play a game on the computer, I quickly looked up "preschool games" and came up with  Starfall is a free phonics resource emphasizing phonics skills and early reading skills.  Mr. D. played happily on their website for over an hour, reviewing the alphabet and letter sounds.  They do have other resources for sale at the Starfall store and a full kindergarten curriculum available for purchase at, something I may explore for next year.  But for reinforcing basic preschool skills while keeping a little boy happy, I'm planning to keep this site on my list of favorites.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Favorite Homeschooling Find #1

The first resource that I am grateful to have for homeschooling is not free, but it enables me to access many free items.  I love my Kindle!  I can access many classic books for free, and it is easier to read them on the Kindle than on my ipod.  This summer I read The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew,which was free on the Kindle, to my girls as our bedtime reading.  I have downloaded Herodotus for a taste of early histories and the New Oxford American Dictionary for vocabulary study, as well as numberous classic books.

Yes, the Kindle is pricey, but you can purchase the wi-fi Kindle with Special Offers and Sponsored Screensavers for $114 or the 3G + wi-fi Kindle with Special Offers and Sponsored Screensavers for $139.  If you can put up with the advertising that comes with the price break, this seems to be the way to go.  I wish they'd had this offer available when I paid full price for mine.  If you just can't bring yourself to pay for another electronic device, many other devices (like the ipod, iphone, ipad, and other tablets) have a Kindle app available for download. 

If your taste runs more to contemporary novels or a packaged curriculum, this device may not help you tremendously in your homeschooling, but if you are integrating classics into your high school curriculum or just want to expose your younger ones to books like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, or The Five Little Peppers, the Kindle is as much fun as a trip to the library.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Buried in (Fun) Projects

I was putting off posting until I had time to go through some new lists of free resources for homeschooling, but I had to stop and write about my creative project consultant.  Miss J. has never met a project idea that she can't improve.  When I ask for a poster, she asks if she can create a 3-d display.  When I wanted Miss C. to write a story about an event that happened and she insisted she couldn't, Miss J. cut up some paper to make a little book that Miss C. could fill far more easily than the piece of paper I had given her.  Today, after considering the model of Mount Olympus that she was already making, Miss J. decided that she could better depict the complexities of Greek mythology by creating a video game.  So this afternoon, she spent an hour and a half using Gamemaker (which Mr. B. had taught her to use this summer) to create a computer game. 

Now, I have to admit, my first thought when J. spins my assignment in a new direction is usually, "Wait a minute..."  However, I'm slowly learning that giving her choices puts her in charge of her learning.  And isn't this what we want?  Children who are self-motivated, curious, and creative?  Now I just need to convince her to create the rubrics for grading the projects, too. ;-)