Month: May 2015

Educational Links

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Here are some of my favorite educational links with descriptions from their “about” page:

http://www.brainpop.com – Educational Videos

Founded in 1999, BrainPOP creates animated, curricular content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement. Our award-winning online educational resources include BrainPOP Jr. (K-3), BrainPOP, BrainPOP Español, and, for English language learners, BrainPOP ESL. BrainPOP is also home to GameUp, an educational games portal for the classroom.

In traditional, blended, and “flipped” learning settings, BrainPOP supports individual, team, and whole-class learning. At school and in informal learning environments, our characters help introduce new topics and illustrate complex concepts. Through “My BrainPOP,” teachers and students can keep a record of learning accomplishments through quizzes, game play, and activities. The My BrainPOP suite of features includes access to the Mixer, which lets users tailor assessments to meet all students’ needs, and Make-a-Map, our concept mapping tool. BrainPOP is also a great fit for mobile learning and BYOD classrooms: our educational apps – available on all major platforms – have been downloaded millions of times,and lauded in countless reviews. BrainPOP content is carefully mapped to the Common Core, aligned to academic standards, and searchable with our online Standards Tool. We are easy to use, with no downloading, installation, or special hardware required.

All of our resources are supported by BrainPOP Educators, our hub for free professional development and teacher resources like lesson plans, webinars, video tutorials, graphic organizers, and best practices.

BrainPOP was conceived by Avraham Kadar, M.D., an immunologist and pediatrician, as a creative way to explain difficult concepts to his young patients. Today, we’re used in more than 20 percent of U.S. schools, and are growing internationally. We take pride in our in-house team of educators, animators, and writers, who produce and continually improve BrainPOP, incorporating valuable teacher and parent input. Aiding us is a talented group of educators who serve as our Academic Advisors. We also partner with an array of educational game creators and other education technology companies and organizations.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com – Teaching resources for purchase and for free

We believe that real teachers create the most relevant and engaging educational resources. Our open marketplace model supercharges resource quality, quantity, and availability.

Bringing educators together forms a powerful community that shares best practices, raises the bar for all, and compensates our best curriculum developers (sometimes spectacularly).

In the end, everyone wins, especially students. And that’s what it’s all about.

http://www.scholastic.com – Free teaching resources and books for sale

Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) was founded in 1920 as a single classroom magazine. Today, Scholastic books and educational materials are in tens of thousands of schools and tens of millions of homes worldwide, helping to Open a World of Possible for children across the globe.

OUR MISSION
To encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy.

The Star Quilt

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A really good friend of mine celebrated her birthday this past January. I wanted to do something extra special for her so in between homeschooling, mothering, etc., I decided to make her what turned out to be the most complicated quilt on Earth. I do have some experience with quilting, but I do not like to follow a pattern, I should’ve been the poster child for the “Crazy Quilt” phase. I am not very good at cutting or measuring, or sewing for that matter. Unfortunately, these are the skills one needs to possess in order to make a Country Fair Award Winning Quilt. Who cares, I did it anyway! Here was my inspiration:

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Perfectly easy right? I decided I wouldn’t add those red banners and flower baskets and then it would be simple. Plus the colors and patterns would look awesome in her home which is an old farmhouse with a rustic appeal. I went to the fabric store with the picture, bought the fabric, a book on how to make the stars and I was ready to go. Twenty hours and a lot of frustration later, here is what my quilt front looked like:

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Not so bad in the first picture, right? Check out the stars in the second! How could that be? I cut them all out of templates that I measured perfectly. And, oh no, I sewed the longer side border wrong. Didn’t matter, I was determined to finish and from experience, I know that it always looks better when filled and finished. So onward to the finished product. At least the cat liked it! And the bottom picture is on her couch. You can also find a video of her opening it below:

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Luke and Alana’s Quotes

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Some of these quotes occurred during our homeschooling day:

9/16/14:
We just came back from San Francisco, CA and Luke was doing a reading comprehension about the Golden Gate Bridge. There were 8 words at the beginning to practice before reading the text so I asked him if he knew what each word meant. When we got to the word “pier” he said, “A place with a bunch of restaurants and shops.” Then I laughed and said, no, San Francisco messed with your brain, thats not what a pier is. Take that away and what do you have? He said, “Oh, a place for the sea lions.”

9/22/14:
We are studying the human body and we were watching BrianPop and Tim was explaining the “layers’” of the human body. They showed a figure of a human body and kind of stacked each system (Circulatory, muscular, cardiovascular, etc.) on top of one another. Alana sees this and immediately says, “No wonder I’m always hot”.

10/2/14:
The vet called me and said she would like Neptune to go for some more testing. It is going to cost me $500 in a week for the cat. I said, so much for budgeting, I’m trying to get ahead and then it’s always something. Luke said, “Maybe God just doesn’t want you to have a budget.”

10/3/14:
A question on the rocks and minerals test was: “Which of the following is NOT a characteristic used by scientists to classify minerals?” (a. hardness, b. volume, c. luster, d. streak)

Alana said, “well, it’s not volume unless they are on the radio talking about rocks. ”

12/18/14:
We were in the car talking about Christmas and hannakuh and I said you know Jesus was Jewish. Alana said, I thought god was American.

2/25/15:
We were at the local diner for dinner and Luke said do you think Hitler went to heaven or the other place? And then he asked Alana if she knew what the other place is and she said, “jail”.

Your Kids’ Quotes

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Don’t our kids come out with the funniest things….albeit not always at the most appropriate time, but still funny. You can find a few of my kids’ quotes here, but I want to hear yours too! Send me your kids’ funniest quotes with your name and theirs and I will feature them here!

Sock Snowmen

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In December, it was time to start creating holiday crafts with the kids. I couldn’t wait! We have a holiday open house each year and we always give something to our guests as a small gift for the holidays. This year I came across Sock Snowmen on Pinterest. It looked easy enough and was using materials we had at home so we decided to try it. I had just cleaned through my son’s sock drawer and he had sixteen socks all with a hole in the same spot on the bottom of the foot. I decided to use these, but although they were clean, I had to try to get them whiter. I soaked them in warm water with a mix of three tablespoons hydrogen peroxide, two small squirts of dawn dish detergent and a tablespoon of baking soda. They soaked for well over an hour and the water was brown! Success…well almost. After stuffing the socks with rice and creating the snowmen, they still looked like, well, used socks.

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I decided these were not going to be given out to my guests. Instead, we gave made pine cone ornaments decorated with glitter glue and ribbon.

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Props to tinybitzofme.blogspot.com. Her sock snowmen were beautiful and were what inspired me. She had the right idea to use unused socks. They look much better! Visit her blog on how to make them look like the snowmen below. Good Luck!

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The Imperfect Crafter

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I love crafting! I am easily inspired by others and come up with great ideas on my own. The only problem is that sometimes things that I envisioned perfectly in my head don’t always come out as planned. So, I decided to name myself the Imperfect Crafter. I have accepted that I will not be able to recreate every craft idea in my head or that I love on Pinterest into reality, but I will keep on crafting because I enjoy it! Under this category you will find some of my “fails”.

Our Homeschooling Journey

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Homeschooling today has become a choice amongst many families. Some families have never sent their kids to a formal school setting, while others decided to take their children out of school and provide education at home. Reasons for homeschooling vary from religion to special needs children to being unhappy with the education public schools are providing. Regardless of the reasoning, when making the decision to homeschool, a family needs to consider many factors, including the most important, how will the children obtain their education? This can encompass many questions such as: will one parent stay home to teach, will both parents take turns teaching, will you use a tutor, will you join a homeschool co-op teaching community, will you create your own curriculum or purchase one and what are your state requirements for homeschooling?

The decision to homeschool requires a family to reexamine their lives in every aspect from budget to patience in order to prepare for the homeschooling journey. If one parent stays home, are they giving up their job, therefore lowering the family income? If so, will that affect the family lifestyle in any way? If planning to join a homeschool co-op teaching community, is the teaching parent equipped with a skill or expertise in a subject that can be taught, and if so, can that parent teach well to a group? Does your state require you to register with them and show your lessons and portfolios to the local school board for approval? Does your state offer a tax rebate because you are a homeschooler and pay for expenses or even better, does your state refund some taxes because you don’t attend public school? Homeschool families also have to prepare themselves for the scrutiny they may be put through. Friends, family members and aquaitances will want to know everything from why you chose to homeschool to what content you teach and who you have to answer to in order to prove you are doing a good job. And, be prepared for the big whopper of a question that everyone will ask you: what about socialization? Even though there are infinite articles published on why it is a stereotype that homeschoolers are unsocialized, people are convinced your kids sit home alone and are never exposed to the outside world.

Luckily, we live in the age of technology and there are infinite resources at our fingertips. Families are able to connect with other homeschoolers around the country, use the internet and apps as teaching tools, find teaching resources and find out information such as state laws and homeschooling rights. The more knowledge you have before taking the homeschool journey, the easier your path will be to follow.