Spring into Reading! by Jennifer Campbell, from RedAppleReading.com
Spring has finally sprung, and it’s a great time for your family to start fresh reading habits. In honor of this much anticipated season, here are five suggestions for how you and your family can spring into reading!
- Indulge in a New Book - When was the last time you purchased a book purely for pleasure? Oftentimes we only visit the bookstore when our kids need a book for a school assignment. Why not take the family on a surprise trip to your local bookstore and treat everyone to a new book? Make an agreement to finish your books by a certain date and then celebrate with a special supper!
- Start a Book Club - Spring provides the perfect opportunity to begin your own book club. Invite friends and family to join you monthly or quarterly to discuss an agreed upon book. Take turns choosing what you will read so everyone will have ownership in the club. Remember, book clubs are not just for grown-ups – kids love getting together to chat about a favorite book as well. With a little forethought, you can come up with some creative activities related to their book; and instead of coffee, you can serve milk and cookies!
- Read Outside - There’s only one thing that beats reading a good book – reading a good book in the spring sunshine! After all those months your kiddos spent cooped up in the house, they are probably overdue for some fresh air! You don’t have to choose between reading and enjoying the outdoors; both activities can easily be combined. If your kids see you taking a book outside, they are likely to follow suit. So set the example by grabbing a book and a blanket and heading for the yard!
- Collect Books for a Local Charity - Many schools and public organizations could use some new books for their libraries. Your family can lead the way in organizing a book drive for your community. As a family, decide what charity/organization you want to receive the contributed books. Next, get to work gathering books from the people in your community. If a family member has an upcoming birthday, you could ask guests to bring a book instead of a gift. Instead of having people bring donations to you, go to them to collect gently used books. For more tips on how to hold a book drive, visit the Do Something website.
- Get Your Kiddos on Red Apple Reading - Another fantastic way to help your family “spring into reading” is by giving them access to a fun reading program! Sign up with Red Apple Reading and your children can easily access fun reading videos and games from any computer or laptop. Visit RedAppleReading.com today to learn more about this exciting reading program and spring specials.
Jennifer Campbell is a mom of 4 and blog writer for RedAppleReading.com. Red Apple Reading offers online learning fun for children ages 3 to 9.
Bringing Computer Science to Your Homeschool
By Chris Yust, from Homeschool Programming, Inc.
You probably already have the basic subjects covered in your classroom. Reading, writing, math, history, arts, science, geography, social studies…all of these things have an endless variety of resources available to you! None of them are likely that intimidating to teach either; after all, those topics were part of your own fundamental education. But how are you going to handle Computer Science? Today this critical subject is more important than ever, yet many teachers and homeschool parents are not sure how to get started!
Imagine providing a subject in your classroom that your students can’t wait to study. Tell your kids they can learn how to create their own computer games, apps, and websites, and watch their eyes light up. You will not have to twist any arms to get those homework assignments finished. Instead of sitting around playing video games, your students could be learning the skills necessary to write their own!
Growing Up in the Digital Age
Kids in school today have never known life without the Internet, laptops, cell phones, and a dizzying array of computer games. Your students may be more techno-savvy than you are! Using email, word processing programs, web browsers, and social networking tools are probably second nature to your plugged-in children. But how much do they really understand about what is going on underneath the covers?
Who is writing all the software that your kids are using? Computer scientists or programmers are the ones driving these innovations! Computer programmers understand the tools, languages, and techniques needed to create new software. While this may sound like an arcane, difficult subject, in reality computer programming is very accessible to every student. Modern, easy-to-use programming languages and robust, free development environments can be used by anyone with the proper training.
Find a Lifelong, Rewarding Passion
You might think that all computer jobs have been outsourced overseas. That’s simply not true! Research from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there is a real shortage of trained software engineers to fill the computing needs of local technology companies. Throughout the recent economic downturn, computer jobs have seen steady growth and salary increases.
Some of the more widely used computer languages in academic and professional settings today include Java, C#, HTML, Visual Basic, and C++. Skills your students build in these languages will not be thrown away as they move to the next level in school or business. A solid foundation in these languages can support a nearly limitless variety of applications from personal computers to robotics to mobile phones.
Your Most Popular Subject
Odds are that your own computer science experience is somewhat limited. You might never dream of trying to teach a programming language to your students based on an old FORTRAN course you suffered through 30 years ago. Fortunately, today, self-study courses from Homeschool Programming can guide your students step-by-step through the programming process with minimal teacher involvement. You don’t need a fancy computer lab. If your students are already comfortable using a computer then they are ready to learn how to write their first program.
The KidCoder and TeenCoder courses for 4th-12th grade students cover a variety of topics such as:
KidCoder: Windows/Game Series – Learn Visual Basic to write your own programs and video games
TeenCoder: Windows/Game Series – Use object-oriented concepts to write programs and games in C#
TeenCoder: Java/Android – Learn Java and Eclipse, study for the AP CS A exam, and write Android apps
You can provide a quality Computer Science education for your homeschool student even if you’re not an expert yourself. Let’s spark a passion for Computer Science in your student today!
About the Author
Chris Yust has 17 years of experience as a software engineer and is co-author of the KidCoder and TeenCoder computer programming courses for 4th-12th grade students. Find out more about computer programming and website design for kids and teens at www.HomeschoolProgramming.com!
Why Should I Learn This is an e-book put out by HomeschoolConnections.com. As the title implies, it deals with the age old questions –Why should I learn this? and When will I ever use this?
Have your kids asked these questions lately?
Do you recall asking your parents these questions when you were a student?
I actually asked these questions four times in my life—I remember each one—and now, I can look back and laugh at each instance.
The first time occurred when I was in grade school. I didn’t like to read. I used to pretend I was reading—I turned the pages and everything….but of course, my mother clued in right away. Then, when I was in high school—I asked the why questions about algebra and geometry. Just the other day, I was thinking that I should re-learn Geometry. I admit, I don’t use it in my daily life, but I admire female engineers—and they certainly understand geometry. I asked the why questions again in college—this time about why I was learning computers.
Wow—I questioned the need to know how to read, and I questioned the necessity of computers (clearly I’m dating myself. No one today would question the need to be computer savvy)!
In all those instances, this book certainly would have come in handy! That’s because this book answers those questions, and is a compilation of information from over thirty authors—so readers receive advice from a wide spectrum of experts. The topics covered include Economics, Geography, Government, History, Language, Life Skills, Literature, Mathematics, Art & Music, Pedagogy, Philosophy, Science, Theology, and Writing.
Even though there are many opinions, they all have a Catholic viewpoint. Although the book might be helpful to non-Catholics, it is meant for the Catholic audience. Excerpts follow. You can see the religious influence in the responses below –
Why should I learn Geography?
The study of geography helps us be better people, by
both appreciating God’s wonder in our world and by
placing ourselves in a much closer connectivity
our global neighbors.
Why should I learn Computers?
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, “Young people
in particular, I appeal to you: bear witness to your
faith through the digital world! … Employ these new
technologies to make the Gospel known, so that
the Good News of God’s infinite love for all people
will resound in new ways.
More secular responses are included in the book.
Why should I learn Spanish?
More and more businesses and organizations value
employees with oral and written fluency in Spanish—a
language giving access to one of the fastest-growing
markets in the world. Consider these statistics:
Spanish is the world’s third most spoken language,
after Mandarin Chinese and English, and ranks
second in terms of native speakers; today, almost 500
million people worldwide speak Spanish.
Spanish is the mother tongue of approximately
388 million people in 21 countries (Mexico: 102
million, USA: 45 million, Spain: 44 million, Colombia:
44 million, Argentina: 39 million, Venezuela: 28
million, Peru: 28 million). It is also widely spoken in
many more where it is not an official language.
Why should I learn Punctuation and Grammar?
Whether we like it or not, based on our words,
people judge us. Follow with me here, for a moment.
I’d like to take this idea of judging and play it out to
the end, to show what could happen, if you’re judged on
how you use punctuation and grammar.
If a person uses grammar incorrectly (not choosing
the right word or word order), then people catch it.
The reader realizes and remembers your incorrect
grammar. And based on what the reader sees, you may
be (unconsciously or consciously) put into a category.
The label, not educated, puts you into a category
where others may make assumptions about you that,
most likely, aren’t true. Judgment may lead others to a
lack of respect. Based on incorrect assumptions, poor
decisions may be made (like whether or not the person
hires you for a job). Grammar matters, for many
This book can be read in two distinctly different ways. It can be read cover to cover,
or it can be used as a reference book, reading only about the subjects that interest you at the moment.
It’s certainly thought provoking.
What would your answers be for the above questions?
Get the Math is about algebra in the real world. On the website, students can see how professionals use math in music, fashion, video games, restaurants, basketball, and special effects. Then, students can take interactive challenges related to those careers.
Video segments and interactive challenges focus on the math in:
- Music: Manny Dominguez and Luis Lopez, who perform as the hip-hop duo DobleFlo, write and produce music in collaboration with The Brooklyn Label, an independent record company. They draw on their math skills regularly, particularly when using music production software. The challenge prompts students to calculate the tempo (beats per minute) of an instrumental sample, so they can adjust the tempo of an electronic drum track to match it (Algebra I concept: Proportional reasoning).
- Fashion: Chloe Dao, a Texas-based fashion designer and the season two winner of Project Runway, uses math on a day-to-day basis. She asks students to use both algebra and their sense of style to modify a design in order to get the retail price below a target of $35 (Algebra I concepts: percent markup; writing and solving linear inequalities; cost analysis).
- Video games: Julia Detar,a videogame developer at the New York City-based company Arkadium, uses math when she develops online and Facebook games. Julia presents a challenge around a simplified “Asteroids”- type game that introduces basic concepts behind programming. Students use algebraic thinking to plot the path of a spaceship and avoid collision with an oncoming asteroid (Algebra I concepts: Coordinate graphing; rate of change; linear equations; distance formula; Pythagorean Theorem).
- Restaurants: Sue Torres, chef/owner of the restaurant Sueños, talks about the challenge of keeping prices on her menu affordable as prices rice. The teams analyze past avocado prices to predict prices for the next 14 months, and use this prediction to recommend a menu price for guacamole for the coming year (Algebra I concept: Line of best fit).
- Basketball: NBA player Elton Brand describes his path to a career in the NBA before posing a challenge related to free throw shooting. The teams use three key variables – release height, initial vertical velocity, and acceleration of gravity – to calculate the maximum height the ball will reach on its way into the basket (Algebra I concept: Quadratic functions).
- Special Effects: Jeremy Chernick from J&M Special Effects discusses the process of creating special effects for film and video, including one effect created for a music video by the band Freelance Whales. The teams are challenged to figure out the mathematical relationship between two important variables that affect the look of a shot – light intensity and distance from the light source (Algebra I concepts: Inverse relationships; inverse square law).
You (your teens) might want to check it out!
It will be fun. And fun learning is forever learning!
This is a guest blog post from Creation Illustrated
Do you ever wish your children would unplug from their computer and cell phones and spend more time in nature? Do you ever wish you could just slow down and stop to smell the roses? Well, our homeschool family had (and still have) these longings, so we decided to do something about it. We developed Creation Illustrated magazine.
Why? Because we found the greatest amount of stress relief and restoration out in God’s Creation, and we knew that others could benefit in the same way. After all, that’s how we were made — remember our first parents spending time in the garden learning eternal truths from their Maker? So to help regain these blessings, we wanted our publication to INSPIRE students and parents to pursue, study, and flourish in Creation — actually Christ’s method of teaching through parables about the things He made.
So rather than develop faster thumbs on cell phones, the whole family can read, learn, and engage in CHARACTER-building lessons that teach eternal truths that last a lifetime (and hopefully beyond)!
We were prayerfully led to divide Creation Illustrated into 3 sections — Creation Illustrated in Nature, in Scripture, and in Living. The Nature section has all the animal, bird, and outdoor adventure features that contain many lessons for mental development from stories like He’s the King (why Jesus is likened to be a lion). The Scripture section covers one day of the Creation week in each edition which provides Spiritual development with plenty of facts to support the findings. The Living section has gardening stories like Subduing the Earth (weeding with a tarp!), wholesome recipes like Marbled Yam Bundt Cake, a children’s story like The Disobedient Fawn, a youth photo contest, and an Instructional Guide to help glean the best morsels and encourage activity for improved physical development. This balance of the Mental, Spiritual, and Physical enrichment helps develop the whole person in a meaningful way — not our idea, it’s God’s design and desire for us from the beginning.
But in addition to these personal benefits that readers savor, our letters to the Editor from all over the world often comment on the stunning photography. In fact some readers call Creation Illustrated, “The Christian answer to National Geographic!” They collect all of the back issues because they never become outdated, and they even get FREEbies by signing up on our Creation Illustrated website.
Anyone who has not seen Creation Illustrated and needs to “Stop and smell the roses” can order a Free introductory copy here:
BTW–There was a recent study from the University of Michigan that showed people who spend ONE hour a day in nature have a 20 percent INCREASE in memory compared to those who remain indoors or in urban setting. To our SURPRISE, the study also revealed that simply looking at nature pictures had the SAME result!
And this is us—the family behind Creation Illustrated!
Ultimate Typing™ from eReflect uses video lessons, online demonstrations, interactive lesson suggestions, and fun games to teach basic and advanced touch typing skills—and it works for all ages. It’s especially good for kids. Because children can use the software to play games, they learn to type without realizing that they’re spending time studying.
Things I really like about this program include -
One license, multiple users – With Ultimate Typing™ 2015, you’ll get five user accounts for the price of one. Homeschoolers love family accounts!
Installed on any device-Computer-based training doesn’t have to be restricted to one computer. Once you have your account set up, you can access the software through any internet-enabled device. You can also download the software on multiple devices. Since Ultimate Typing™ 2015 is cloud-based, all of the user data is stored and synced across devices, so no matter what machine you’re using to practice with, all of your user information is always current.So – your children can use the family computer, their own laptops, and/or other mobile devices to practice touch typing. Typing in the car? You bet!
The program offers a mix of games and activities – Ultimate Typing™ 2015 uses a variety of lessons, activities, and games so that kids – and adults – don’t get bored while learning. Even better, status points are awarded for each activity and lesson completed, which motivates the student to keep practicing.
Expert video tutoring -Ultimate Typing™ 2015 uses video instruction to explain everything about hand position, finger movements, and keystroke sequences before each lesson. The user gets a complete visual guide to typing, and even a short course on ergonomics!
Integrated into any lesson plan —This program has atext import function. I LOVE this! You can link to online articles and other document resources that you’re using for lessons in history, English, science, or literature, and the software will use that text in its typing exercises. How cool is that!?! You can have each child use the same text, or individualize it for their particular lessons. Since they’re reading the text as they type, they’re learning more than just the correct typing techniques. It’s multi-tasking!
It’s affordable and the company offers a money-back guarantee – Ultimate Typing™ 2015 is affordable (less than $30) and they offer a money-back guarantee PLUS $50 if you’re not satisfied with how quickly your children are learning to touch type. From their website -
We’re so confident that Ultimate Typing will help you triple your typing speed—and increase your accuracy—that we will put our money where our mouth is.
If you’re not able to type blazingly fast with laser-like accuracy after using our software, we will not only give you a full refund of your money…we will also pay you $50!
FYI – the company also offers Speed Reading™, Ultimate Vocabulary™ and Ultimate Spelling™.
I like when companies offer multiple products. If I find one I like, there is a pretty good chance I’ll like their other products as well. It just makes choosing curriculum a little easier!
DEFINING SUCCESS: A HOMESCHOOLING MOTHER’S PERSPECTIVE
This is a guest blog post from Carreen Schroeder
NEW YORK ADVENTURES IN HOMESCHOOLING!
EXCITING ADVENTURES IN HOMESCHOOLING!
Thanks to a dear friend of mine for sharing with me a debate she had had with one of her sisters, I have had the burning desire to tackle this post.
My friend homeschools her youngest child but her older children all went to public schools. Her sister is a high school science teacher. When my friend mentioned to her that she would take her older children out of school on their birthdays, her sister was aghast, stating that this practice harms the children. They would ‘fall behind’ in school and would never be successful. Hmmm. It really got me thinking about how I used to be as a public school teacher – the paranoia, the stress, the very narrow-minded vision of what constitutes ‘falling behind’ and ‘success’ in the greater scheme of things. Does spending a special day – your child’s birthday – with your child, making her the focus
for that one day, hinder her or does it strengthen her in a multitude of ways? I guess it all boils down to our own personal definition of ‘success’, so here it goes:
“Success”, in the Webster dictionary, has two varying definitions:
the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
the correct or desired result of an attempt
To read more, click here.
Carreen Schroeder of New York Adventures in Homeschooling, has been a certified teacher in Ontario and in New York State since 1999, holding an Ms.Ed in Elementary Education, a B.A. in French Language and Literature and a Specialist in Special Education. She has been homeschooling her youngest of three daughters since 2012 and is passionate about assisting homeschooling families with free resources and homeschooling services. Visit Carreen at:
Youth Digital offers introductory, online tech courses for kids ages 8-14, empowering them to become digital creators, designers, animators, programmers and developers. The courses are fun, extremely interactive and very effective. In each course, students create a project from start to finish and learn important skills and software as they design and refine their projects. At the end of every course, students have an entirely new digital skill set and a finished product they can play with and share.
Mod Design 1 (their most popular course)
3D Printing & Modeling 1
3D Game Design 1
3D Game Design 2
App Design 1
Game Design 1
Game Design 2
3D Animation 1
These courses teach kids to program and code in Java, make Mods in Minecraft©, animate movies, model and print in 3D, design video games, develop their own mobile apps, and more.
Most courses are available for both PC and Mac, but not all are Mac compatible.
In the courses, students watch videos, respond to questions, earn badges, complete quizzes, and finish assignments as they step toward mastering critical technology skills and professional-level software. Instructional support is a mouse click away–all you need to do is click the Help button.
I took the 3D Printing & Modeling I course, which included 12 modules—about 30 hours of classes. This course teaches students how to make characters, buildings, cars, and scenes, using the professional program Blender (3D modeling software). You can see a video of the course here.
As a non-y person, I liked the ability to review material over and over again, until I got it down (and I did have to review multiple times). I liked that I was being taught a professional program—that I was being asked to stretch my abilities and learn something that is actually being used—rather than learning a less challenging option. And I appreciated the humor of the teacher, especially in assuring me (and others), that Blender Blunders are common-place, and easy to fix (I tend to freak when I make a technical mistake).
I found the course to be challenging, but doable. This is certainly a class you might want to take alongside your child. Maybe your student can even help you (I asked my son for help—although as mentioned previously, instructional assistance is available through the website).
Youth Digital’s mission is to transition kids (and olders) from being passive consumers of technology into tomorrow’s technology creators and innovators. That’s a pretty lofty goal—but after taking this course, I think it’s one they can achieve.
Reading Aloud: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Do you want your children to love learning, to love reading, to love books and be able to express themselves well? Of course you do. Do you need credentials or special training to make this happen? Absolutely not. You need only your voice, your child and books. Read to them. Read to them everyday and often. Read aloud over and over and over. It is that simple.
The Importance of Reading Aloud from Birth
Reading aloud is a gift that keeps on giving. It is a child’s ticket to language development—speaking, reading, and writing. From birth, a child’s language begins developing. The more multisensory exercise the brain gets, the more it will develop. Right from the start talking, singing, rhyming, playing, reading, and cuddling provides this stimulation. Reading aloud provides precious focused attention for a child and the parent. It is therapeutic down time full of uplifting benefits!
Reading aloud builds a critical bond with the parent through the sharing of sounds, letters, words, stories, questions, answers, emotions, problems and solutions. Long before children can read independently, their grammar, language conventions, phrases and expressions develop because of exposure to the language of the stories and the reader. Talking about the illustrations and stories- the words, ideas, and values shared- lays the foundation for speaking skills. This is where children pick up whimsical, colloquial and historic expressions. From interaction with books and their parents, children learn about the world around them, learn to solve problems and to express themselves.
Opportunities to Read Aloud in Everyday Life
Beyond books and stories, words abound. Look around you. Have a conversation about labels, cards, advertising, signs, license plates, mail, food containers and recipes. Remember though, a fruitful exchange is not one-sided. There must be give and take even if a parent helps the child by suggesting words, or helping the child point or clap, even laughing together counts! It is the exchange that builds language and instills a readiness to read.
Reading aloud is an expressive language experience. Voices, like music, have rhythm and a beat. There are pitch and volume changes, inflections and drama! Children naturally model the rhythm of the words read over and over by the parent. Be sure to read aloud with energy and expression. Have fun with it!
The Value of Repeating Words and Phrases
There is repetition in stories and a lot of it! Repetition is immensely valuable. It builds comfort and reassurance about language. It exposes children to many facets of reading—various print styles, letters, text, words, punctuation, the concept of whole stories (beginnings, middles, endings), patterns, word games, questions and answers. Repetition allows children to feel so comfortable and familiar with a story, they’ll join in recalling words or whole lines long before they can truly read. Books become reliable friends shared over and over. There is no such thing as a book read too many times! Repetition builds a child’s confidence, reassurance, and positive reaction to stories, setting the stage for wanting to read the words.
Many adults fondly recall being read to among their happiest times. Isn’t it wonderful that so much good language learning can occur during such a blissful event? There is no age limit for reading aloud. The benefits are never ending. Read aloud as long as you can; as long as children will allow it. Older children will often enjoy being read stories, poems or books they might not choose to read on their own. Another gift! Even adults enjoy hearing a story or book read aloud.
Give Your Child a Map for Reading
Children, having been read to regularly, will have been given a map for reading. Print begins to make sense because of the rhythm, rhyme and repetition of reading aloud. Parents add to their children’s wealth of experiences every time they read a story or book aloud. Children gain knowledge from both the story and its language but also from the very valuable exchange of ideas with the parent.
Every read aloud moment is an effortless teaching opportunity, so go grab a book!
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Math is a Skill
This is a guests blog post written by Logan Schoolcraft
Math is a skill. Just like welding, carpentry, running, singing, or any other worthwhile endeavor. Maybe people don’t give it enough credit, since it’s one of those things that we seem to use on a daily basis.
Perhaps that is part of the problem with some people’s math “skills”—they take them for granted and really don’t work on them. It’s like exercise. If you think you walk and do a lot of physical stuff during the day, but actually you don’t, you are probably not going to be in shape.
On the other hand, if you take time every day, (or some regular routine), to exercise, you’ll start to see and feel the impact it makes. The same is true of your math skills. Keeping sharp doesn’t mean doing math problems (or exercises) all day long. It simply means not letting the already developed skills deteriorate. If you do enough to develop new skills, then all the better.
I made a connection the other day when reading about Abraham Lincoln. He made the comment he was going back to his office to, “practice some more law.” That line got me thinking. He wasn’t going to go fill out another form and have someone sign it (even though that might have been done), but he was going to go look into more law. Law itself. Maybe read on it, study an old case, or develop his own current case.
It’s this “practice some more ____” that I want to instill. If you consider yourself a professional anything, then odds are you do quite a bit of that; whatever it is. Likewise, if I want to be a professional at math, then I need to do quite a bit of it myself. Just a little every day of direct study works for me.
Yeah, I’m one of the people who probably doesn’t need to practice and hone my math skills— especially the basics. But I have to tell myself that I’m not the same person who learned the basics years ago. Things will look and feel different. And I’ll come away with something new learned. Hopefully, I’ll be able to apply that to even more stuff I’ve learned along the way!
So don’t think of math as a bore or a class to be forgotten. Think of it as a skill to be held up and honored for all it can do for you. And if you get the chance to learn a little more…take it! (It won’t hurt you.)
“Habits are at first cobwebs, then they become cables.”
Logan Schoolcraft is a private math tutor specializing in distance math tutoring. You can find out more about him and his services at schoolcraftmath.com.