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May Day is May 1

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 2:00 am

My mother and my grandmother use to talk about May Day celebrations.  I heard about Maypoles and ribbons and flowers and dancing.  It’s a holiday we no longer celebrate in the U.S., but you can certainly incorporate it into your homeschooling, as a history lesson, a sociology class, or an art project.

My mother and grandmother celebrated the totally nonpolitical season of Spring.  For others, May 1 has a strong political connotation as it is associated with important labor protests in the U.S.  In acknowledgment of these labor protests, many countries (other than the U.S.) made May 1 their Labor Day.  May Day–what a dichotomous holiday!

As for the Spring aspect of May Day, people celebrated the start of spring by “going a-maying” or “bringing in the may” .  They did so by gathering flowers and greenery, by sprucing up their permanent Maypole or by erecting a new one, by dancing around the Maypole and by having May Day spring parades.

You can make your own tabletop Maypole by going to

Also, a book your younger children might like, is On the Morn of Mayfest by Erica Silverman which is all about a little girl’s spontaneous May Day parade.

On a more political/historical note, on  May 1, 1886 unions across the Unites States went on strike, demanding that the work day be shortened to eight hours.  These protests were bold and brave, and violent.  Many people were hurt.   Although the protests were not immediately successful in their goal, the eight hour work day did eventually become the norm.  Labor leaders around the world took the American strikes as a rallying point, choosing May Day as their Labor Day, and as a day for speeches, demonstrations, and politically based parades.

May Day–the holiday that has a little something for everyone!

Ann Simpson

Summer of My German Soldier–a Great Movie

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 2:00 am

One of my favorite movies of all times (and it was a book first) is Summer of My German Soldier. I saw the movie decades ago, and I still love it.

I would like to suggest, that as a reading/history/sociology lesson, you have your older child (6th grade or above) watch the movie; read the book, Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene; or read the book and watch the movie.

This movie is SO educational on many historical and societal levels!  Your child will learn about racial and religious discrimination and about true friendship and loyalty.

The movie can be purchased online, or watched on You Tube in stages, although I really don’t like watching it this way as the sound is less than ideal and personally, I like being comfortable when I watch a movie.  But the fact that it’s on You Tube is a huge plus as it allows you the opportunity to screen the movie to see if it is of interest to you/your family.

If you have your child read the book and then watch the movie, you can discuss the differences between the two.  This is a fun educational experience, because so often people prefer the original book over the subsequent movie.

Now, wouldn’t that be a surprise to your child!

And remember –fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

Baby Sign Language

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 2:00 am

My children are too old for this, but gosh, I wish I’d known about baby sign language when they were young.  Many people are signing with their babies.  If you google baby sign language, all kinds of companies and classes come up.

Think about it–signing with your baby is a way to communicate with her earlier and a way to relieve some of the frustrations she must feel when you don’t understand what she wants.

What I find interessting, is that baby sign language is NOT the American Sign Language used by the hearing impaired.  While there are some similarities between the two, baby signing is much simpler as it doesn’t require extensive vocabulary.  Following, are just a few signs you might make with your baby:

  • Bed–Tilt your head to the side with your eyes closed and lay your cheek on the palm of your hand.  Wow–that’s an easy one!
  • Blanket–Pull both hands up from your waist to end with both of your fists clutched in front of you.  This is basically, acting as if you’re pulling up a blanket.
  • Pacifier–Form your index finger into a hook and place it in front of your mouth.  Again–how simple!

Baby signing–a great opportunity to teach your baby early language and communication skills.

And remember–fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

PE Options for Homeschoolers–the Sky is the Limit!

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 2:00 am

In traditional schools, P.E. classes can be frustrating and embarrassing for our children, especially if our kids are not naturally athletic, if they are overweight, or if they feel awkward undressing in front of others (I STILL don’t understand the need for P.E. uniforms!).  As homeschoolers, we can teach P.E. without the negative experiences and P.E. can be FUN, like it should be!

When it comes to physical education options, the sky is the limit and runs the gamut of a walk around the block with Mom (which can be very educational if you take nature breaks along the way) to horseback riding (often kids can ride for free in exchange for stable work–and that’s a learning experience in and of itself)!

For P.E. options that are entirely free, think of sibling and neighborhood interactions.  A neighborhood game of kickball or 4-square, or a good old fashioned game of hide and seek (my kids RUN like crazy while playing hide and seek) are great fun.  Or maybe hoops with an older sibling!  These options offer socialization and bonding experiences in addition to physical exercise.

For a nominal fee, community programs offer many options, and experiences that we as parents, don’t have the necessary skills to teach.  Think tennis, ballet, karate, ice skating, or golf lessons.  And often organizations offer free lessons in hopes that your child is going to want to continue.  My daughter enjoyed a week of free golf lessons from the course just a few miles from our home.  She didn’t continue taking lessons, but I’m glad she had the opportunity to try her swing.  And she did find out that golf carts are a total blast!  We ended up buying an old electrical golf cart and the kids (with their Dad’s help) figured out how to make it run.  It’s amazing how one learning experience can lead to many others.

What do your children want to do…want to play…want to learn?  The sky is the limit!

Because really, fun learning is forever learning,

Ann Simpson

Make Science Fun

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 2:00 am

I have to admit, I never really liked science as a child.  But I would have, had we done any of the many fun experiments suggested on the following sites:

Science IS fun!  It doesn’t have to be the memorization of boring facts.

Make science fun for your child.

Because fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

Vacation to St. Augustine Florida

Filed under: Educational Adventures — kate @ 1:00 am

As I wrote about last week, we are planning to take a trip to Florida, and we leave tomorrow. We are going to visit the in-laws, but we’re also going to visit St. Augustine. Ever since we started visiting Florida, I’ve always wanted to spend a few days exploring the history of this neat city. It has no thrill rides, no audio-animated robots, and no theme parks. Instead, it is an entire community devoted to a single subject, the reconstruction of the first permanent Colonial Spanish town in America. St. Augustine is a kind of Williamsburg South, a collection of authentically restored buildings where people in costume explain and demonstrate Spanish life of the 1700s. St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European established city and the oldest port in the continental United States.

St. Augustine is one of the most historically significant locations in Florida. As Florida’s very first coastal town, it is home to historical attractions, as well as beaches that make it a popular tourist destination for people of all tastes and styles.

Having survived over 430 years, it boasts as the oldest city in the United States. In North American terms, St. Augustine is an ancient city, founded 42 years before even Jamestown was colonized by England, and 55 years before Plymouth Rock saw its pilgrims. I’ll keep you posted with photos and excerpts from our trip in the form of a “virtual field trip”, so you too can share in this historical city.

Never stop learning,

May Deadlines for Contests/Scholarships

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 2:00 am

At, we have a section on the left of our homepage entitled Contests and Scholarships.  If you haven’t looked at this, it might be of interest to you and your student, as the winners of these contests/scholarships earn quite a bit of money for their future education.

Contests that have May deadlines include:

The 2010 Sir John M. Templeton Fellowships Essay Contest

Topic – “Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state.  They forget the state wants to live at the expense of everyone.”

For Ages – Grade 12 — College

Prize – From $1,000 – $10,000

Deadline – 05/03/2010

Discovery Channel:  Young Scientist Challenge

Topic:  Students are challenged to create an engaging one-two minute science video. The topic must be selected from a pre-approved list that can be found in the Contests and Scholarships section on our homepage.

For Ages – 5th – 8th Grade

Prize – $50 – $20,000

Deadline – 05/27/2010

The History Video Contest

Topic – Create a short video based on any topic related to American history.  You can choose a topic related to your own local or community history or focus on an American history topic that interests you.

For Ages – 6th – 12th Grade

Prize – $1,000 – $5,000

Deadline – 05/28/2010

It’s not too late to get started, and regardless of the outcome, it’s a great learning experience.  Also, there are contests with June and later deadlines, if your student would like longer to work on a project.

We’ll update you on a regular basis.

And remember–fun learning is forever learning,

Ann Simpson

  • For Ages

St. Augustine, FL – Virtual Fieldtrip

Filed under: Main — kate @ 1:00 am

Yesterday we visited Castillo de San Marcos, which is located in St. Augustine Florida. Castilla de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fortification in North America. The fort was built between 1672 and 1695 and was built of Coquina (fossilized crushed shell stone) and other material (You can really see the shells on the walls of the fort!). Workers were brought in from Havana, Cuba, to construct the fort. The coquina was quarried from Anastasia Island across the bay from the Castillo, and ferried across to the construction site. Construction lasted twenty-three years, being completed in 1695.

This place is an impressive piece of history and is so much fun! It has a double drawbridge entrance which is located over a 40-foot dry moat. The fort stands on top of a hill located right next to the water. The structure is very impressive! It’s hard to believe this has been here since construction began in 1672! Each room in the fort presents information about the fort. The info varies from the ruling parties to the weapons to the people who lived in and defended the fort as well as the settlement. In one room, a video is constantly playing about the weaponry used during the battles fought at this fort as the Spanish (the original settlers and the ones who eventually stole it back from the British) and British (the ones who took it over after two sieges) fought for Florida. The fort even played a role in the Civil War as the confederacy held on to Florida. While here, make sure you go to the top of the fort and take in the views of the water, the historic downtown, and of the beautiful seaside homes lining the water across the way.

This monument also does a canon firing on the weekends and it is so cool! Find a spot early where no one can get in front of you and get ready for a history lesson for the kids. The gift shop has some cool stuff that is not too overpriced, which is nice for those of us who like souvenirs. Overall, it’s a great way to teach kids about history and have fun doing so. It’s also not expensive to get in either, and the tickets last for a week, so you can go back during your stay in St. Augustine.

We had a great day exploring this wonderful fort and the demonstrations were amazing. I would definitely go back.

Here are some great curriculum lessons to use with your kids when you go. Or, use it as a virtual field trip with your kids and teach them about St. Augustine without actually going.

Never stop learning,

Using Music to Teach

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 2:00 am

I have a tin ear.  I can’t play an instrument, except for very, very, easy piano melodies.  Yet, I LOVE music and I appreciate how easy it is to learn if music is part of the learning process.  Need to learn history dates?  If they’re in a song, no problem!  Need to learn math facts–put them to notes, and it’s a breeze.

Using music in your homeschooling will make education fun and entertaining, and the important information will stick–plus, in a way, you’ll be teaching music at the same time.  You can even choose what type of music you’d like to use in your lessons–sing song, a pop melody, or even rap/hip hop.

You can find resources for teaching with music at the following web locations:

This last link shows kids that have made their own songs and subsequent videos–what a great learning experience!  My own son made a number of videos when he was in high school.   They were humorous in nature, but they were a learning experience none the less.  After looking at the above link, I think we missed the boat.  We should have made some educational videos as well!

Because remember–fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

May Music Competition

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 10:12 pm

Melody Music Studios is offering music competitions in Lexington Kentucky, Indianapolis Indiana, Minneapolis Minnesota, Omaha Nebraska, Salt Lake City Utah, and the San Francisco Bay area.  This is offered to anyone, including non Melody Music students and includes piano, voice, guitar, cello, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, clarinet, and flute. There will be two age categories–8-12 year olds and 13-18 year olds.  Cash prizes (from $25-$100) will be awarded in each category.  The registration fee is $35 and the deadline for submitting an application is April 20, 2010.  Just go online to

Good luck.

And remember–fun learning is forever learning!

Ann Simpson

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