- The #1 Homeschooling Community

October 1, 2014

Storytelling with Buncee

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , , — dailynews @ 7:38 am


Storytelling with Buncee

Storytelling is as old as time itself. From cave paintings, to papyrus scrolls, all the way to Apple’s tablets – humans have told tales for as long as we can remember. Now, instead of scratching a rock against a boulder for hours to make a simple drawing, we can just drag and drop elements onto a digital canvas to create any kind of multimedia tale on!

As the importance of communication grows in our 21st century world, it’s important to create constructive and effective digital messaging. Here at buncee, our mission is to help anyone communicate creatively by providing creation tools that are fun and easy to use.

With buncee, you can:

  • express your stories in infinite ways. Use videos, photos, drawings, stickers, animations or any combination of these elements to bring your story to life.
  • share your creations like never before. Save some trees and send out your story via email, social media, or embed codes for websites and blogs.
  • create no matter your age or technical ability. Since buncee is web-based, anyone in any age range can easily create without the need to download software and learn difficult programs.

These are just two examples of fabulous digital stories kids have created on

My Day at the Beach:

Apple Brothers:

What was once revered as an age old art is now, too often, viewed solely as a bedtime ritual for toddlers. Storytelling, however, is a form of communication that everyone should embrace. We all have a story that needs telling!

For educators, storytelling:

  • creates a live and emotional connection between the students and the instructor.
  • builds a sense of community as students bond over the shared experience and act out the tales.
  • engages students’ imagination and inspires them to create stories of their own.

For students, storytelling:

  • builds creativity, critical thinking, and technological competency- all essential 21st century skills.
  • encourages children to see the value in producing original online content, rather than being passive consumers of the web.
  • engages students imagination and develops pride in their work.

Every child has their own story to tell, and no two buncees are ever the same:

Lock Lomond & Luss Highland Games:

On Thanksgiving Day:

Given the importance of storytelling, we are excited to see people embracing buncee as a digital tool to express their stories. We are proud to provide a space where creativity reigns supreme and play and learning coincide. Our easy-to-use tool allows people of all ages to share their story; and we are honored to be the place where students can share their stories, passions, family memories, and simply have fun creating original, digital content.

For more storytelling ideas and other buncee projects, check out the examples page:


September 29, 2014

Vote for Top Homeschooling Curriculum


It’s time to vote for your top homeschooling curriculum, products and websites. Let us know which companies  are your “Top Picks”.

We’ll be posting the results in October.

Thank you for your input!

September 26, 2014

Garlic Press & Fall Readiness



Summer is a time when families can relax and enjoy lots of great adventures together. It is also a time when many children forget much of what they learned in the previous school year. To solve this challenge, Jeanine Manfro, veteran teacher, children’s book author, and Mom, wrote four books in the Summer Activities for Fall Readiness series published by Garlic Press.

One of the great thing about these books–they can be used anytime–even now!  They’re not limited to summer.

This series, with a book for GP201 Kindergarten, GP202 First Grade, GP203 Second Grade, and GP204 Third Grade, will alleviate the end of summer blues when kids have forgotten the previous year’s skills and are getting ready to enter a new grade. The books also provide great practice for those in-between breaks during the school year or even practice during the year when kids need a little extra help.

Jeanine is no newcomer to writing activity books for kids. She earned her Bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from the University of Redlands. She then went on to teach elementary school in Rialto, California. With as many as seven different languages spoken in her classroom, Jeanine also earned her certification for teaching English as a second language.

Jeanine enjoyed developing creative and engaging lessons for her students which eventually led to a career in educational publishing. She started as an assistant editor and worked her way up to Editorial Director at Frank Schaffer Publication. There she wrote and edited hundreds of instructional books, posters, bulletin board sets, puzzles, games, and articles for teachers and parents.

This workbook series was developed with Jeanine using the same successful techniques to help children maintain the academic skills they have already acquired and to get a head start on the skills they will learn in the coming year.

Each book is divided into 10 one-week sections. Five of the reading/language arts pages and five math pages are provided for each week. The first half of the book is dedicated to reviewing last year’s skills and the second half provides a sneak-peek at what your child will learn in the coming school year. At the bottom of each page, there is a suggestion for an additional activity that you and your child can complete together to extend the learning even further.

Jeanine has presented at national and regional conferences for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and she has advised other authors with an interest in curriculum development and educational publishing. As a freelance author, Jeanine has written over 30 educational books and teacher guides as well as several children’s stories. In her work, she promotes effective teaching strategies and creative lessons that will inspire a life-long love of learning. Take a look at this series and inspire your kids today!

Like many small education presses, Garlic Press was started by a teacher who had an idea to create and share activities with fellow educators. When the very first book was completed to help struggling substitute teachers and offered to the district’s school superintendent as a professional development tool was turned down, Garlic Press was born.



Since 1974, Garlic Press has been committed to producing quality content for children, young adults, adults, and homeschoolers in math, English, literature, sign language, braille, and substitute teaching. Garlic Press is committed to continuing the traditions of quality that were the foundation of the company. Garlic Press is also committed to sourcing Garlic Press products locally—written, illustrated, designed, and whenever possible printed in the United States.

September 25, 2014

Unplug & Play!


It’s pretty safe to say that thanks to smartphones, laptops and social media, most of us don’t go an hour without being plugged into technology, let alone a whole day. Perhaps the most worrisome part of our dependence on technology is how it’s impacting younger generations’ abilities to engage in effective face-to-face communication. The topic of unplugging has been rampant in the media for a few years now and as a result there have been many books and articles written with ideas for how to take a break from technology.

Unplug & Play! 50 Games That Don’t Need Charging, written by Brad Berger helps families put down the iPhones and reconnect with one another. The book includes a variety of games including word scrambles, memory, matching and spelling, making it the perfect collection of games for any family game night or vacation. The book can even serve as a teaching aid at home, providing a fun and creative way to practice vocabulary and spelling.

The author came up with the idea for his book after years of creating and playing games with his friends and family. While the games were all different, he noticed one thing stayed constant – people weren’t paying attention to their phones or mobile devices. Rather they were talking and laughing with one another.

Things that make Unplug & Play! 50 Games That Don’t Need Charging especially nice:

  • All you need to play are pens and paper to get started.
  • The games are adaptable for your group. Young or old, big or small, everyone can partake in the fun.
  • The games help you get to know friends and family better. You get to choose the categories that interest you most.
  • The book is lightweight and paperback making it easy to pack for vacations, field trips, and carschooling.
  • The games aren’t mindless. To keep up, players must be engaged and pay attention.

Is it time for your family to unplug and play?



September 24, 2014

Open-ended Journal Assessments


Open-ended Journal Assessments – How can they

help your children?

by Renée Heiss

Standardized testing is the most widely used method of assessing a child’s mastery of a particular concept. While those multiple-choice questions test for memory, they do little to test creativity and problem-solving ability. Which skills do you want your children to develop? I much prefer seeing a child creatively working through the solution of a problem, whether that problem involves an academic subject or an ethical dilemma. Open-ended journal assessments provided through guided journal entries offer an interactive method to help your children boost their learning.

The use of a journal as an open-ended assessment has two advantages:

a)      It helps a child to develop verbal skills. When a child writes a response to a journal prompt, he must formulate the idea in his head and transfer that idea into a coherent statement on paper. He must include proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. And, he practices the disappearing art of penmanship.

b)      It allows parents to respond directly to the children’s answers in their journals, forming a parent/child dialogue of sorts. In doing so, the child learns the parent’s opinion of the journal entry, and can immediately see corrections to incorrect assumptions. You might even add a new question for your child to answer before proceeding to the next journal topic. Additionally, you can learn from your child about potential problems in her life when you read between the lines to find a deeper meaning and interpretation.

There are many ways to encourage open-ended responses. You might ask the child to tell everything she knows about (_______). You might ask her to pull one word from a page she is reading and expand on that word as it relates to the book. You might provide a picture prompt related to your topic. Or perhaps you can ask your child to develop her own open-ended question!

Open-ended questioning shows children that all their answers are valid. Even if you find an incorrect assumption from a journal prompt, you can still provide feedback without having the child feel that her response is wrong. It’s all in the way you word the correction – gently and with educational input rather than with judgment and disrespect.

Open-ended questions eliminate competition from the educational equation. Children won’t be able to compare number grades. Instead, each receives a completion grade and an assessment of in-depth reasoning.

Some people might argue that open-ended questions don’t assess all children in the same way and on the same topics. However, that argument fails the validity test – is it necessary to have all children learn the same thing all the time? Of course not! Each child is an individual and needs to learn at his own speed using his own interests.

So, to answer the question posed by the subject of this blog – are open-ended questions valid or weak? The answer is a resounding valid because they foster creativity, individuality, language skills, and interaction with parents. What will you do to prepare for your next open-ended assessment?


Renée Heiss is the author of the SHINE! series of themed learning modules based on the books published by Entelechy Education, LLC. Each module includes an open-ended journal-prompt assessment based on the theme. She is an award-winning retired educator and author of the books that feature The EnteleTrons, a unique trio of characters who teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), character education, and language literacy.

For more information, go to

September 23, 2014

Teach About Time – Ideas from TheDigitalTutor

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 4:00 am


Written by Jacqueline Smith


Today is a good day to teach your children about the calendar and the divisions of time. With a little thought, a calendar, some notebook paper and a pencil, you can have an enjoyable day of learning that includes history, spelling, science, math, and Bible. Here are some ideas.

Can your children recite the days of the week in order? Can they spell them correctly? Don’t forget about capitalization. Next come the months and seasons in their proper order. How many days are in each of the months? What causes the seasons? Even though TheDigitalTutor software curriculum will teach them all of this information, your children will have a better understanding of how to use it if you talk about it, and play mental and word games with them. This is a good thing to do during trips in the car.

Each week has seven days, each day has 24 hours, each hour has 60 minutes, and each minute has 60 seconds. Can your older children calculate how many minutes are in a day? Or how many hours are in a week? Talk about the current month, day and year; then talk about the previous month, day and year, and the months and seasons ahead. Can they calculate how many days until their birthday?

And finally, no discussion about time is complete unless we talk about what we should do with the time we have. Psalm 90 tells us, “The length of our days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have the strength… Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”



Jacqueline Smith is the mother of 12 children, 8 of whom are adopted and have special needs.  She is a contributing author for TheDigitalTutor computerized curriculum and the developer of the “Learning to Read with Jacqueline Smith” phonics program.  Learn more about her work at

September 22, 2014

Helpful Advice from Homeschool Programming, Inc.


Bringing Computer Science to Your Classroom

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: Web Design Series – Use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create web pages

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!


September 19, 2014

An Extravaganza of Experts? YES!


All good things must come to an end….even extravaganza events!

Visit’s Extravaganza of Experts while you can–homeschooling and educational experts  are standing by to help you take your homeschooling from ordinary to extraordinary!  Just -

  • Listen to up to  TWENTY excellent 30-minute interviews, at your convenience.  Pick and choose which ones interest you the most.
  • Use the comment area to…ask a question…share what you have learned…make suggestions…and more.
  • These knowledgeable experts have offered to answer your personal questions–but they’re only available for one week (September 15-21, 2014)!

Fun–and fun learning is forever learning!

September 18, 2014

There’s MORE – Extravaganza of Experts!


Have you had a chance to visit’s Extravaganza of Experts?

Visit now, and listen to up to 20 educational experts — find out how you can take your homeschooling from ordinary to extraordinary!

September 17, 2014

Extravaganza of Experts – Day 3!


You asked for it, and now we have it! Homeschooling and educational experts that can help you take your homeschooling from ordinary to extraordinary! Check out’s Extravaganza of Experts!

  • Listen to up to  TWENTY excellent 30-minute interviews, at your convenience.  Pick and choose which ones interest you the most.
  • Use the comment area to…ask a question…share what you have learned…make suggestions…and more.
  • These knowledgeable experts have offered to answer your personal questions–but they’re only available for one week (September 15-21, 2014)!

We are so grateful for the experts’ insights! Want to know a few of their suggestions?

  • Marilyn Mosley suggests you spend 25 to 35% of your curriculum time on your child’s interests. She also suggests you find 2 to 3 mentors in the community for each of your children to help them develop their talents and interests.
  • Mona Lisa and Kip Harding suggest you ask your children from the very start, “What do you want to be or do when you grow up?” and then help them explore that career.  It sure worked for them!  One of their daughters is the youngest med school graduate in the in the U.S., and another daughter is the youngest architect!
  • Architect Prakash Nair tells us that schools are now being redesigned so that they are more like homes, and he gives you great examples of why your home is the perfect place for extraordinary learning to take place.
  • Howard Berg believes that entrepreneurship is the future.  He says that by the time your children are 36 years old, they will have already had six jobs. He thinks that if you want extraordinary, you should help your children develop entrepreneurial skills.

Interested in learning more?  It’s easy!

Just go to !

Older Posts »

© Copyright, 2014, Inc. All rights reserved.
Web Hosting by Midtown Micro, Inc.