Happy Friday everyone! As promised, here is my first weekly blog entry about what our home education life looks like. I had a couple of folks ask me specifically about the resources I like, and I thought that would be a good place to start.
As a librarian and researcher at heart, my head is packed to the brim with great resources for kids of all ages, and I’m happy to give personal recommendations to any of you parents out there who want something specific for your progeny. But to keep myself from overloading this blogsite with titles and links, for now, I will stick to what we’re doing in the here and now.
Let’s start with Eva. I do things on a quarter basis, switching off history and science every six weeks. I like doing this, because then we can dig a little deeper into our themes. For this quarter, she is studying 3rd grade math, literature, Spanish, history, trumpet, creative writing, and typing. This is her first year completely home educated (we had a part-time arrangement for the last two years) so it’s all kind of new for us.
Ian’s schedule is similar, but has some differences, according to his needs. He is studying math (especially Algebra), literature, Spanish, history, drums, music theory, and Earth Science. He’s taking Earth Science, band, and jazz band at the local middle school (8th grade), but everything else he does at home.
So what about resources?
For math, we alternate days using Khan Academy and text-based work. We all love Khan Academy. It lets you study whatever math you’re ready for, and rewards you with progress star charts, moon badges, and energy points. Great fun. We have a huge white board downstairs, and plenty of lap white boards. The kids prefer those over paper and pencil, and that’s fine with me. They do their math figuring on the boards, and then answer the Khan questions online.
For that matter, we use the white boards with their textbooks too. Eva uses the Singapore curriculum, and Ian uses the Algebra I and Geometry I books from the Art of Problem Solving. I’ve never seen math materials that I like better. But ultimately they both prefer Khan, which is why I switch off day to day. We have created a “Math Quest” reward game for their text work, but I’ll talk more about that in a later entry.
This fall we’re studying the Renaissance period. So much to do here! To get started, I went to our public library and checked out everything I could find on the Renaissance and its people. I don’t have magic books here, just things I could find at the library on each topic – we especially enjoy picture book biographies. But I did find some pretty fun extras too.
First of all, Schlessinger put out really cute videos on the time period called Renaissance for Students. They did a set on the middle ages too, which we all enjoyed last year. Funny, beautiful, visual. A little cutesy, but it didn’t seem to bother the kids.
I also love The Renaissance Art Game – I found it in an art museum in SC this summer. Think Go Fish meets Renaissance artists. It has a beautiful book to go along with the game. We play the game every day, and pick a couple of cards to read more about in the book.
We’re also looking forward to building our Leonardo DaVinci kits by Elenco. I still need to find some fun hands on stuff for explorers and the Reformation, etc. I’m sure we’ll have to write and perform a play or a puppet show before it’s over!
Oh, and before I forget, we love the Horrible History books. Ian reads these, and Eva prefers the Magic Tree House research guides. But she’ll move onto the Horrible Histories eventually. They’re hilarious and shocking – just the combo to get kids interested in history. Order from Horrible Ray and tell him I sent you. He’s a fantastic guy.
Following our history topic, we’re studying the Canterbury Tales, followed by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. I cheat a little here, because my husband is a literature professor. So I’m using his vast experience teaching this stuff, combined with some wonderful adaptations for kids.
Our favorite version of Canterbury Tales is an adaptation by Marcia Williams, which is full of fun (and sometimes bawdy) cartoons, but we like Barbara Cohen’s translation too, which provides the important prologues that Williams’ omits. There are great kids adaptations for Shakespeare too for our younger Eva, but we’ll likely have Ian try his hand at the real stuff. And then there’s the movie staring Ben Kingsley that we’ll check out after we’ve read the play. Maybe we’ll make some Renaissance-y popcorn to go with it. 🙂
After we finish our history unit, we’ll plunge into robotics and simple machines using Lego’s WeDo Robotics kits. Eva’s public school teacher used this last year with her kids and loved it. Since Eva was only part-time, she hasn’t done it yet. I have to say, it looks like it’s going to be super fun.
Spanish and the Rest
Through the Bismarck Public Library, we can access a program called Mango for free. We’re working through lesson 1 right now. I like it. It shows you the words, and speaks them, giving you plenty of opportunity to repeat and recall. For typing, we use Typing Instructor, which we bought on a whim at Staples. We like it too. Don’t waste your money on the kids’ version. The adult version is plenty entertaining, and starts out at the very beginning. Music theory, drum and trumpet lessons are all private lessons, with a variety of books and resources chosen by the instructors.
When choosing my resources, I like to make sure that I mix it up with books, dvds, music, and activities. Eva likes crafts, and Ian likes performing, so I keep those things in mind when choosing the activities. The public library and the public school district’s library media center are life savers for me, providing expensive kits and media on free loan. Don’t know what I’d do without them.
So how about you: are there any particular types of resources that you love, or that you’re looking for your kids?
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