Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring has sprung!


Awwww... Spring is the air! I just love this time of year. The flowers are blooming; the days are becoming warm and breezy :)

This past week we have really been taking advantage of those breezy, breezy days. As you have probably already guessed, we have been flying kites. Kite flying, has always been one of my favorite spring activities, since I was a little girl. My kids also enjoy it! As soon as they noticed it was warm and windy, they were asking to go and buy kites! Even their cousin, who is a bit older (she is in high school homeschool ), was outside with us, enjoying this favorite pastime.


In homeschooling news, spring will also be all around our classroom. We will be doing an Easter/Spring Unit Study. Some of the things we plan on doing over the next several weeks will be a field trip to a Butterfly Garden, tons of themed worksheets, and fun crafts. We are also planning on going over the origin of Easter again ( kind of a yearly tradition in our homeschool) and learning about rabbits.

Until Next Time...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Learning Games For Review

Last week, I shared with you all, one of my favorite Home-schooling resources called Vocabulary Spelling City.
So, today, I am going to share with you another one of my favorites called Learning Games For Kids  (or LGFK for short)!

There are many reasons why I love this site. Besides being free, it has tons online educational games, songs, and printables; that help's my kids build skills in math, language, science, social studies, etc.
The site also has all of their stuff divided into categories: educational songs & videos, animal games, art & music games, math games, word games, geography games, brain games, science games, printables, just to name a few. So, it is super easy to find what you are looking for. Plus, this site is so easy to incorporate into what ever home-school curriculum you are using.

For example: When we are learning about the different United States, I used LGFK's US 50 States Games, as an added reinforcement. Or when my youngest was learning his ABC’s, the preschool games were such a BIG help. He always loved to listen to the ABC balloon song :)

Besides the above mentioned, below is a complied list of some more of our ( my kids & I ) LGFK favorites

 Top 5 Favorite's from LGFK

1.  Preschool Stories

2.  Typing Games

3.  Math Man

4.  Tetris

5.  Body Parts Jigsaw

If you haven't clicked on any of the LGFK links yet, what are you waiting for?
Go ahead, check them out ;)

Until Next Time...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Vocabulary Spelling City Review

Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite free resources, that I use with my kids.
                                             It is called, Vocabulary Spelling City!

What is Vocabulary Spelling City (Spelling City or VSC for short)? Well, it is an award winning, online game-based, educational tool for Spelling, Vocabulary, and Language Arts. (They also have lists for words in Math, Social Studies, and Science too.)

So, how did I discover VSC? Well, it was several years ago and I was on one of those home-school forums. There was a fellow home-schooler, that was really bragging about them. So, I knew I had to go check it out. I mean if it is free, what can it hurt, right? As you can see, years of use later, that I obviously loved the program. Luckily, my kids do too! Which as we all know, isn't always the case, when it comes to school work. The games and activities are so fun, compared to tradition workbooks, that it doesn't even feel like they are studying spelling. Hang Mouse and Letter Fall are my oldest favorites.

Besides all of the teaching resources, and their awesome new app, my favorite thing about this program is that you can either create your own word lists or you can use the pre-generated lists of words that are grade appropriate. Holiday theme's are my favorite ones. In fact, just a few days ago, I found a fun St. Patty's Day word list that was already created.

Of course, I also have made tons of my own ( they are so easy to make ). For example, my daughter is an avid reader. So, I will take her book's and use them to create the lists. Which makes it much more fun & interesting for her when, it is time for her Spelling lessons.
VSC is also helping with my youngest. Even though he isn't reading yet, he still is benefiting from some of the activity's, like the Word Video's. I plan on using their phonics and sight words spelling curriculum beginning lists very soon.

Another great thing about this program, that you might like to know, is that it was originally intended for traditional classroom use. So, you can feel confident knowing that it is aligned to those standards.
In addition, they offer a 100% completely Free version of their program, but for just $30/year, you can upgrade to their Premium Version ( you get 5 students per upgraded account). Plus, they just added free instructional videos, to help teachers and homeschooling parents, understand the program and options on how to use it successfully.

Personally, we used their free version for awhile in the beginning. I did decide later to upgrade, not only because I felt the $30 was affordable, but also because I wanted the extras you get with the premium version. I really like how the kids now have their own sign in area, and all the new games, etc. that we now have access to.
I defiantly recommend this program to anyone who home-schools or is looking for some extra help after school or during the Summer months.

Until Next Time...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Celebrating 10 years!

 It has been ten years ( Wow! Ten years already?!), since I began my homeschooling adventure. Yet, it seems like just yesterday, that I was getting started homeschooling. At the time, I only had one child, my two ( almost three ) year old daughter. For some "newbies", figuring out what you need to do, can be a stressful, confusing, overwhelming, and even fun. When I first began my Adventure into Homeschooling, I was all of that. Most newbies, like myself,  will have their share of trial and errors. Or as I like to call them" T& E's".

So, please don't feel discouraged when you come across yours, everyone has some bump along the way.

One of the first of my many T&E's, was getting the idea that you have to re-create the school setting at home. I had our spare room all decorated with teaching posters, dry erase board, and even a princess themed school desk, that I had found at a store. For some, this way of schooling works very well. However, for others...
Well, I think many of us have to "De-School" our mind set and learn what works for "our" school at home.

It took me a while, but I soon discovered that a more relaxed way of teaching & learning, worked best in our home-school. Today, our classroom is wherever we choose. Sometimes, it is at the table, other times the couch, or even outside. We no longer follow a typical school calendar, but instead school year-round; taking breaks when we choose.

Picking out curriculum, was another T&E moment for me. When I started shopping for curriculum, I decided that I would call around to some of the local private schools in my area. At the time I thought, what was good enough for them, would defiantly be the best route for me to go. Being new to the world of home-schooling, I thought that they would be a better judge of what was considered the best curriculum to use. In fact, I was so sure, that I ordered Kindergarten and 1st grade levels; of our boxed curriculum "recommendation" through A beka at the same time.

I do not advise anyone to purchase more than one grade level at a time. The reason is because children change and what works one minute, may not work the next.

By the time I accepted that the set-up I had created, was not working as beautifully as I had hoped, my daughter was half way through her 1st Grade year. We were both bored, unhappy, and she was  having difficulty's learning to read.

 A lot of parents feel ,that they need to finish the curriculum that they had purchased. Being on a budget myself, I understand. That being said, remember that if your child isn't learning well with what is being used, then it is not being used or saving you any money in the long run.

After many, many hours of getting support and ideas through several fellow Home-school friends, Homeschooling forum's, and Blogs, I came to the conclusion that I needed to figure out my child's learning style, before I could decide what new curriculum to buy.
( This was important, especially since we had another child. I really wanted to make sure, that I did not make another T&E )
Soon we discovered that she was a Visual learner!
So, we decided that an Online Curriculum, would be the way to go.
Thankfully, we found an Awesome program called Time4Learning. We use T4L as our kids core curriculum. There are many reasons, besides it's affordability, that we like this program.
For example, it's flexibility ( month to month payment option & it allows us the ability to school at our own pace.), offers Pre-K through 12th grades, and it's very user friendly features ( grading, record keeping, etc. ). Even though, any of those mentioned would be good reasons to use T4L. Our number one reason is because it works so well for our kids. I mean within months of starting T4L, my daughter was actually reading. Reading! That was big for us, as she had been struggling with the A beka curriculum previously. My son also has done well with the program; always eager to get on the computer to do his school work. I still remember when he was just starting his Pre-K lesson's. He was so cute! He would say,  Mommy, I want to play "Mouse"!

We also love to add new things and shake things up every now and then. School should be fun and interesting. So, don't be afraid to think outside your main curriculum ;)

As you probably have relised, Home-schooling is also a learning experience for "us" the parents, too. Some of our journeys, easier than others, but still worth the effort in the end. For myself, after all these years, I am glad I made this choice for my family & I am looking forward to next Ten years to come!

Until Next Time...