This is a guest post, written by John Hofland, the owner of ArtAchieve
It’s probably no news that adult coloring books have become big business.
- Sales of adult coloring books reached $1 million in 2014 and soared to $12 million in 2015,
- Three of Amazon’s ten best-selling books in 2015 were coloring books,
- YouTube has channels that let you WATCH other people coloring, and
- Coloring parties are popping up in libraries and senior centers.
Escape to Relax
One of the reasons for the new adult craze seems to be that coloring lowers stress and anxiety. There’s plenty of reason for this. It’s easy to get lost in an activity like coloring – so lost, in fact that one can forget about time, forget about eating, forget worries, forget to go to bed.
In addition, the books provide an quiet alternative to the perceived hyperactivity and hyper connectivity of modern life. Coloring is – let’s admit it – monotonous, and monotonous activities can bring calm. Besides, the paper books are an alternative to demanding screens and mobile devices
But there’s more than escapism involved here: Coloring can be productive.
Escape to Solve Problems
First of all, coloring, like other so-called mindless activities such as driving, showering, or gardening, can lead to productive mind-wondering and creative problem solving. In other words, quiet activities like these provide the necessary moments when we can step aside from our routines and consciously or subconsciously reflect.
ALL of us, (even those who say they don’t have an artistic bone in their body) are creative beings. Some create food in the kitchen, some create solutions for the workplace, some create strategies for teaching.
For all of these people, there is often an important step in the creative process: getting away. Let me explain. According to Arthur Koestler, between
- Step 1: Studying a problem and
- Step 3. Finding a solution, there is is the all-important Step #2.
Step #2 involves walking away from a problem to let our subconscious do its work before we can get to Step 3..
Think about it. We often “think” best when we are not thinking about an issue. Some of our best ideas may come to us when we are lying relaxed in bed, or driving the car, or pulling weeds in the garden.
Or when we are coloring. It often takes “escapist” creative activities for Step #2 to happen. That’s why “escapes” are important.
Escape to Rediscover Your Creative Side
Secondly, the coloring books offer a “creative” outlet for adults who don’t see themselves as creative. The books provide plenty of structure, along with the opportunity for safe, creative choices. All that’s left is for us to choose colors and stay inside the lines. Users often report, with relief, that you can’t really color “wrong.” Coloring is a fail-safe form of creativity.
Oddly, for kids, however, coloring books may not work this way. New York-based art therapist Nadia Jenefsky reports that “For children a lot of times coloring books can inhibit their creativity.” She concludes that children’s creativity lends itself better to creating art from scratch.
Escape to Thrive
Last of all, creative work helps us thrive. A 6th grade teacher who has started to include ArtAchieve art lessons in her classroom called me recently to say that, “Art classes have been such a gift for my kids, even though it was terrifying for them at first. All these years, they’ve been taught that they had to do things right, get right answers.”
She continued, “And now, for the first time there WAS no right answer, so how could they know if they were doing art “right?” But when they discovered that THEY could have good ideas, that was a revelation.”
“All of a sudden, they had something to offer. They are giving finished art projects to their moms for Mother’s Day. They point to their art on the wall proudly, and talk about what they like about their art – AND about their neighbors’ art.
In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert says, “We make things because we like making things. . . because human beings are possessed of something special, something extra, something unnecessarily rich, something that the novelist Marilynne Robinson calls “an overabundance that is magical.”
Gilbert might have added that we need to create because we were created in the image of The Creator. We, like the Creator who made us, are creative beings, so it’s no wonder we have a need to create, and it’s no wonder that creating helps us thrive.
America’s obsession with adult coloring is a cry for help (http://qz.com/650378/the-sad-reason-american-adults-are-so-obsessed-with-coloring-books/)
Creativity: A Choice, a Gift, and a Mission (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/creativity-choice-gift-and-mission-karine-veldhoen?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=050416%20enews%20tchrappre%20gm&utm_content=&utm_term=fea3hed&spMailingID=14387978&spUserID=Mzk2NzMwMjc4ODES1&spJobID=780214745&spReportId=NzgwMjE0NzQ1S0)
John Hofland is the owner of ArtAchieve, an online art curriculum
The 13th Annual Duck Tape Festival (yes, you heard that right!) kicks off next month in Avon, Ohio (just outside of Cleveland)—Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19.
This year’s theme is “Americana,” and visitors will be able to enjoy a free, three-day stars and stripes spectacular and experience many opportunities to show their pride for the USA: from a lively parade featuring floats made out of Duck Tape to a fun arts and crafts tent and life-sized Duck Tape sculptures. Of course, there will be delicious all-American food favorites, rides, family-friendly games and more. There’s even the “All-American” fashion show where Duck Tape enthusiasts can enter their Duck Tape outfits and show their pride on the Main Stage.
Sounds like fun! Please let us know on Facebook if you attend.
This is a guest blog post from Educents.com
As a homeschooler – or even as a parent – have you found yourself wondering how to gauge your child’s development and learning?
No two kids are alike – all kids learn and develop differently, even children in the same age groups. It’s what makes all kids so special and unique but it also makes it difficult to figure out how children are performing.
However, these “kindergarten benchmarks” from Educents experts can be great guidelines to help you figure out where your kindergartener might need a bit of your support, or where your child might be gifted!
Kindergarten Benchmarks At A Glance
- Kids should begin to learn how to read social cues.
- They should start to understand and recognize complex emotions.
- Kids should learn to empathize with both peers and adults.
- Kindergarteners should get a head start on counting and basic addition and subtraction!
- They should learn about quantitative things like height, distance, and weight.
- They should begin to take an interest in reading short simple stories.
- Kindergarteners should be able to retell familiar stories!
The Academic Growth Chart
- Kindergarteners should be able to count to 100 by ones and by tens, and be able to read, say-out-loud, and write these numbers – in both numeral and word form!
- They should be able to translate these counting skills to counting objects in groups as well.
- By the end of kindergarten, they should be able to add and subtract numbers at least up to 20.
- It is especially important that kids understand the concepts of addition and subtraction as “combining with” and “taking away.” That logic will help them lay the foundation to understand the most complex ideas of multiplication and division.
- One thing kindergarteners will learn to understand from watching you, and other mentors is to add using their hands!
- Some other concepts that your kindergarteners should begin to grasp: weight, length, height, and distance!
- By the end of kindergarten, your little learners should also know their basic shapes: squares, triangles, circles, etc.!
Reading and Writing Benchmarks
While they are building some impressive math skills, other kindergarten benchmarks include working on their understanding of the English language along with their reading and writing skills!
- Kindergarteners should know their alphabet and learn to associate different letters with sounds – sounding out some simple three letter words (bigger ones if they’re ready!).
- They should also begin to take an interest in hearing stories, and reading stories on their own – with your help if needed of course.
- With this newfound understanding of simple books and stories – your kindergarteners should learn to capitalize and use lowercase where and when needed (don’t worry if it takes some time!).
- The most fun skill they will learn during this formative time in their life will be retelling stories – telling you how their day went, or a funny thing that happened in their math class!
It’s important to see how kids perform with these kindergarten benchmarks, but the most important thing is to be supportive. If your kindergartener needs a bit of math help, or a little extra time sounding out a particularly difficult word – the most wonderful thing you can do is to be there for them!
Stay Connected to the Educents Community
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Help Your Homeschooler Become an Independent Learner
This is a guest blog post from Alpha Omega Publications
While independent learners tend to blossom in the homeschool environment, it’s a fact that not all children (or adults for that matter) are independent learners. Some kids naturally become independent learners based on life circumstances and learning style. They just take the bull by the horns. It’s also true that dependency on instruction is tied closely to a child’s age and maturity. The older children are, the more independent they tend to be.
The good news is homeschoolers who depend on parents for instruction can begin developing independent learning traits no matter their age. Encouraged growth of these traits can foster self-reliance and responsibility, both now in the homeschool environment and later in college or the workforce.
Traits of independent learners include:
- Curiosity – Independent learners want to find out more about the world. They seek out ways to explore. They learn from various angles and formats, not just traditional instruction. They are proactive and find ways to access additional lesson supplements on their own.
- Self-motivation – Forget bribery. Intrinsic motivation far surpasses any prize or reward system. Independent learners are motivated by setting internal goals to achieve. They are driven by their own personal achievement.
- Self-examination – Where have you been and where are you going? Independent learners know how to evaluate themselves. They can see their strengths and weaknesses. They strive for measurable progress and often chart their accomplishments and failures.
- Accountability – Responsibility means knowing what you have to do and doing it without anyone telling you to. The sooner a child becomes responsible for consequences, the less dependent he will be on outside sources for discipline or motivation.
- Critical thinking – Independent learners think critically of a situation. They examine all possibilities and often come up with multiple solutions. They don’t just memorize. Rather, they ask “why?” and formulate answers based on real-world observation and intelligent deduction.
- Comprehension with little or no instruction – Independent learners have an uncanny ability to read, visualize, or kinesthetically instruct themselves. No matter the topic or subject studied, an independent learner finds ways to understand material through application (generally trial-and-error).
- Persistence – Independent learners don’t give up. They strive to understand a concept as much as possible on their own before asking for help. They also apply self-discipline in not finding the easy answer to a problem. They teach themselves and generally only ask questions after failure to find a solution on their own.
Kids with high self-esteem and a strong academic record are more likely to become independent learners, while those who struggle with esteem issues or have chronic poor academic performance are less likely to convert to independent learning. It all starts inside the mind of your child with a positive attitude and true self-belief. That’s why it’s so important as a homeschool parent, to help your child become more independent by building a positive self-image and encouraging the traits listed above.
Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, educational books and games, support services, family entertainment, and an accredited online academy. To learn more, visit www.aop.com or call 800-622-3070.
Are you starting to plan summer activities? Are you looking for some fresh, new ideas? Maybe our 101 Things To Do This Summer list can be of help! It’s chocked full of summer fun. Plus, all the listings are educational! Click here to see the list.
You might also want to check out our Summer Fun magazine – many of the articles go hand in hand with the 101 list.
And it wouldn’t be summer without a Homeschool.com Summer Freebie Extravaganza! This year we’re focusing on info and listings to combat summer brain drain.
Summer – a fun and educational season!
Many parents are skeptical of their children playing video games. This is certainly understandable—the educational benefits of many video games are dubious. But not all video games are created equal. One game is increasingly integrated into classrooms and homeschool curriculums: Minecraft. Minecraft is a uniquely engaging game with a host of educational benefits and applications. Let’s take a look at a few.
Minecraft is different from many video games in that it’s a “sandbox” style game: Kids enter a 3D environment where they are free to build and do whatever they want. This unique experience inspires kids to think creatively, and rewards creation in the many forms it can take, from designing and building their dream house, to collaborating with friends to build their own worlds.
Minecraft can help engage students who might be turned off by the memorization of historical facts and dates. With Minecraft, you can import fully-reconstructed versions of famous buildings and landmarks, or build your own. What better way to bring history to life than going on a virtual tour of the Great Pyramids, the Globe Theatre, or the Coliseum? When kids get a closer look at these buildings, they can develop a greater understanding of the architecture involved, and compare and contrast how different structures were built.
Kids can learn the basics of electrical engineering with Redstone, the Minecraft equivalent of electricity. In Minecraft, you can dig and discover Redstone dust, and when you learn how to combine signal producers and signal consumers, you can power all kinds of devices and contraptions. Kids can use Redstone to build their own circuits and learn the basic principles of electrical engineering.
Programming with Java
One unique aspect of Minecraft is how customizable it can be. One popular way to customize is Modding, or altering the original programming code of the game. Kids can create their own blocks, ores, and other items, and share them with friends. Kids create their own tools and objects while coding and learning the fundamentals of Java, one of the most widely-used programming languages out there.
Math and Geometry
Minecraft has many natural applications to mathematics, and it has been used by many teachers to improve engagement and boost results. Teachers allow kids to manipulate blocks, construct more complex shapes, and solve geometric problems in Minecraft. One teacher in Los Angeles found his “Mathcraft” program “helped increase the math performance of his class from 18% correct at the beginning of the year to 83% correct during the end-of-year retesting, while drastically improving the academic culture of his class.”
Over 100 million copies of Minecraft have been sold— it’s a bonafide phenomenon, and many kids are already spending lots of time playing it. Why not harness some of this enthusiasm and apply it to your child’s education?
James Knutila is Editorial Lead at Tech Rocket, a great destination for kids and teens to learn coding, game design, and graphic design.
Have you seen our 101 Things To Do This Summer list?
Or our Summer Fun Magazine?
Lots of fun at Homeschool.com this summer!
Create Math Worksheets for Free
Math-Aids.Com is a FREE resource where you can make an unlimited number of printable math worksheets for the use in the classroom or at home. The flexibility and the text book quality of the math worksheets make Math-Aids.Com a very unique resource for people wanting to create and use Math Worksheets.
You can check out a video about Math-Aids.Com here.
Homeschool.com’s 101 Things To Do This Summer list is chocked-full of educational and fun things to do. Maybe your kids will be interested in some of the following–
|1. Make YOUR OWN list—what do you want to do this summer? Go camping? Swim weekly? Learn to ride a horse? Now share your list with your parents. Our list is great – but your list might be even better!
http://www.homeschool.com/Magazine/Volume01/Issue05/ (page 8)
|2. Choose a day – or two – and perform random acts of kindness. See how others respond. Browse Kindness Ideas, and share your stories as well.
Want to see the entire list? It’s here.
And you might want to check out Homeschool.com’s Summer Fun magazine as well – as every article ties to the 101 Things To Do This Summer list.
Summer freebies can be found here.
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5 Computer Skills Everyone Should Master
To be relevant in this digital age, it is absolutely necessary to have certain computer skills. They will not just come in handy for your career but they will be helpful in your daily life as well. In this regard, there are 5 computer skills everyone should master. With them, you will feel more confident and at ease at your place of work. Below is a list of the skills you should have on your fingertips at all times. Keep in mind that you do not have to be a genius; these are basic skills that are necessary in any office or home set up.
- Touch typing
Many people who have used computers for a long time have still not yet mastered the art of touch typing. It does not just make typing easier but it also helps to save time and increase accuracy. In addition, it allows you to use a keyboard optimally in a desired manner. The first thing to know about touch typing is that every finger is supposed to have an area in which it is based on the keyboard. In this regard, it is actually possible to type when you are not looking at every key. Through muscle memory, the fingers can learn how to touch the right key accurately. This will need a lot of practice though, so that you can master the skill.
To master touch typing, you must be in the right posture for optimal results. Your back must be kept straight at all times. In a right angle, your elbows must be bent ensuring that your fingers are properly anchored on the keyboard. Your head should be tilted forward with your face on the screen. Avoid shifting your body weight to the wrists so that you can be as flexible as possible while learning. For details on how to acquire this vital skill, visit Ratatype and get started. The good news is that you get a chance to take free typing tests as you gauge your progress with touch typing on the website.
This skill is not just about typing but it covers many areas that should be mastered accordingly. You must be in a position to understand the features of a word processing program. It touches on knowing how to format documents as well as putting layouts together to achieve the desired results. Mail merges are also a big part of this skill and knowing how to do this effectively is ideal. For any program, it is absolutely necessary to know how to navigate around the spelling and grammar check functionality.
This way, you are able to create documents that are correct, well formatted and accurate; free from grammar errors. Some people do not do a thorough job with this skill and in this regard, there is need for more training so that mastery can be achieved. Among other programs WordPerfect, Microsoft Word and Apple Pages are common word-processors.
This is yet another program that needs to be mastered accordingly. Unlike what many think, it is not just about entering some data into different cells. The skill is also about understanding how data works and how it can be interpreted to make sense. In addition, it is also about manipulating data so that it can serve a given purpose. In this regard, understanding formulas and functions therein will be critical. Knowing how to copy and paste different data while transferring is also important. This is a wholesome skill that has a lot of depth. Some of the most common software applications include Apple Numbers, Quattro Pro and Microsoft Excel. Therefore, if you just know a few elements, it is time to learn and master the skill wholesomely.
Most people use email but not many have explored the depth of emailing and the functionalities therein. It is not just about typing because there is so much to learn. First, you must know how to set up an email account as well as troubleshooting various errors that may arise. Email etiquette is another element that plays a key role in distinguishing those who have mastered the skill and those who have not. There are a ton of features like auto-reply and other rules that should be understood. You will be surprised about how much more there is to email and getting this skill is not just helpful but it is a lot of fun as well. Email applications include Apple Mail, Web-mail, Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express among others.
Going to Facebook and other social media sites does not make you an expert on Internet usage. This is an important skill that touches on a world of elements that should be mastered. With this skill, you will learn how to conduct effective and relevant searches. Another element is how to uphold safety on the Internet where you can avoid vices like viruses and online scams. Uploading and downloading different items and saving them online is another area that is highly important. Browsing applications that help implement this skill include Firefox, Apple Safari and Internet Explorer.
These are 5 basic computer skills; they are pivotal in having a fruitful experience with your device. When you have mastered all the above, you are able to become a highly productive person in your work or in any other area of life.
Bio – My name is Adam Fort, I’m an education strategist at Ratatype.com. This project helps children and adults to learn touch typing via online typing tests and lessons. I am in charge of developing the proper typing lessons and exercises for typists who want to improve their typing speed. I also have a commercial pilot’s licence which I’m proud of.