LibriVox is a great online source for free audio books. This means you and the kids can listen to lots of well known classic fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books — at no cost — right from your personal computer, smart phone, or tablet, by either streaming or downloading the audio files. The books available on LibriVox are books whose copyright has expired, meaning LibriVox volunteers can record them without violating copyright laws, and you can listen without paying a purchase price. Continue reading »
Instead of Curriculum
Real World Resources
Whether you are an unschooler, relaxed homeschooler, or just want to see your kids fall in love with learning, you'll find the resources and tips described here useful. From dictionary games to engaging audiobooks, these ideas help to turn your home into an environment rich with learning opportunities.
A great activity for your homechool group or co-op is a library scavenger hunt. Working with your librarian, plan a gathering for homeschoolers that includes sending the kids throughout the library to find resources, so they’ll get to know the library better. If the scavenger hunt is promoted by the library, you might even find some more homeschooling friends in your community if they show up at the scavenger hunt. You can organize the kids into pairs or teams (and have the youngest kids hunt with an adult), and send them out with a list of things for each child to find or do in the library. A sample scavenger list might … Continue reading »
Hosting an international exchange student can be a great experience for homeschooling families. We hosted a student from Ecuador, and while the commitment can seem daunting, having Isaac José with us for a school year enriched our lives.
What are some of the benefits of hosting an international student? Continue reading »
“Bring me bad writing,” I told my two homeschool co-op classes of middle school and elementary age writers. “Incorrect writing, wrong apostrophes, sentence fragments, typos, passive voice. Horrible stuff. Bring it.”
The next week, they marched in with an array of bad writing they’d found on websites, on convenience store signs, on gas pumps, in a letter from a college administrator, in text books, in novels, and in their own journals.
They had snapped photos, hand copied passages, bookmarked pages, and printed screen shots. Continue reading »
As if homeschoolers don’t have enough of the real thing hidden under couch cushions, Google has just unveiled a new virtual LEGO® building site, Build With Chrome. A tie-in with the upcoming film, The LEGO® Movie™, the site features a 3D graphics technology that lets you build and display LEGO® creations using virtual bricks. While LEGO® has offered its own free building software for years, Build With Chrome is adapted for use on touch screens, including tablets and smart phones as well as on computers (with or without touch screens). Continue reading »
Winter is a wonderful time to take Alphabet Walks with your children. In my part of the U.S., this means bundling up for the cold weather, but hunting for the ABCs in nature may be just the thing to get you and the kids moving on darker winter days.
The main object of an Alphabet Walk is to find letters that have been unintentionally formed in the outdoors. Perhaps crossing tree branches form an X against the blue sky, or a cat curved on your deck forms a perfect C. A front door wreath on your neighbor’s house is an O. The brickwork above the windows in an old Main Street building creates a V. Continue reading »
In Instead of Curriculum: Math Games, I described some of the games I played with my sons to help them learn and practice their multiplication facts. Today, I’ll tell about some of the hands-on tools homeschoolers use to help their kids make sense of the basic concept of multiplication as well as related multiplication facts. Continue reading »
You can drill and kill the times tables to help your kids learn multiplication facts – or you can play math games with them. Here are some of the math games that helped our sons practice multiplication painlessly. Continue reading »
As regular readers know, I’m a big advocate of using accessible learning methods instead of curriculum. For some homeschoolers, this is in addition to their regular curriculum, and for others it’s truly instead of any packaged formal curriculum.
I’m used to hearing that you can’t learn math this way — that’s a common chorus among homeschoolers — but I was in a recent conversation with a homeschool mom who was all for the “instead-of-curriculum” approach except for handwriting. And by handwriting, she meant printing–learning to print. Continue reading »
Our family has greatly enjoyed using The Great Courses audio and video recorded classes. The first of The Great Courses we used was The Story of Human Language, presented by leading linguist John McWhorter, who gives 36 lectures about the development of human language, why languages change or become extinct, dialects, how languages and their grammars affect thinking, and what the study of language can tell us about history and interconnectedness of early peoples.
From there, we began listening to every Great Courses CD set the library had. They offer courses in science, math, fine arts, music, religion, philosophy, history, literature, living, language, business, and economics. But it’s the course titles that are really intriguing — such as Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy, The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World, Writing Creative Nonfiction, How to Listen to and Understand Opera, and nearly 400 more.
When I tried to throw our dictionary out my oldest threw a fit. This is a very old dictionary. It was owned by my Great Aunt Mildred. The book is huge, with indents along the side for each letter of the alphabet. It’s also not in good shape. Threads are hanging out of a nearly Continue reading »
How YOU can get involved in real science!
There is a new craze hitting the streets, and hopefully this one is here to stay. It’s called citizen science. With the advancement of technology, it has become easier and easier for “regular” people to do real science. There are people everywhere interested in contributing to science, especially if it’s made easy for them. With citizen science, it is. Not only do citizens collect and report data, but they are becoming valuable helpers in analyzing the vast amount of data that is now available due to increased technology. The best part is that these are not just classroom activities, using hypothetical scenarios to mimic how science is done. While those activities are inherently valuable, think of the additional value of being an active contributor. Citizen science is a perfect way for homeschoolers to get a real world perspective on science. Continue reading »
Everyone has a comment on the increasing popularity of homeschooling. When I talk to people about homeschooling, they frequently mention the availability of “so much curriculum these days,” as if that is the single most important factor in being able to homeschool. Non-homeschoolers, prospective homeschoolers, and new homeschoolers seem surprised that many homeschoolers use learning materials that are not, strictly speaking, part of a homeschool curriculum. There are many reasons why people use other learning resources instead of curriculum. Continue reading »
Some of my favorite children’s books are also wonderful learning resources you can use instead of curriculum. Among these are the oversize children’s classics about mythology by the d’Aulaires. The D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and the D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths delighted all my kids when they were pre-readers through their late elementary years, and I found that the understanding of mythology they learned from these books persisted through their middle school and high school years, when they needed to spot and comprehend literary allusions to mythology. Continue reading »
Among my favorite homeschooling resources are our audio recordings by storyteller Jim Weiss. These stories provided many important cultural touchstones for my children during their pre-reading and early reading years, introducing them to historical, scientific, literary, and mythological figures and tales. This is where my children first learned of Galileo, Tom Sawyer, Shakespeare, Robin Hood, and Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading »
For many families, homeschooling provides amazing opportunities to reflect on, reconsider, and restructure daily routines and rhythms around what matters the most. They find themselves opting out of the rush ‘n go in favor of a slower-paced, more balanced, fully flavored schedule. Having more TIME is just one awesome by-product: time to slow down and do things your own way, with intention and purpose; time to establish routines that will nourish and nurture you, your children, and your family, your community, restore balance, and provide important flexibility; time to explore and follow your passions, get involved in community projects, try something new; to time to catch your breath, open yourself up to the possibilities and truly relish your time with your children. Continue reading »
“What do we get them this year?” It’s a question that goes through the minds of many a parent at Christmastime. The enigma of gift giving for children becomes even more challenging for homeschoolers who wish to bequeath presents that will be useful and worthwhile even once the Christmas glow has dimmed. And while that new English curriculum might be what a homeschooling mother would enjoy seeing under the tree, her children might not be quite so excited. So what’s a conscientious homeschooling parent to do? Where do homeschoolers go to find gifts that are educational in nature, but that children will also enjoy? Continue reading »