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An Unexpected Kayaking Lesson

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015

What I love most about homeschooling is the unexpected learning experiences that my children encounter on a daily basis. Although most of these experiences border on the ordinary side, yesterday’s experience was anything but.   As usual, my children attended their weekly homeschooling class at the YMCA. This consists of art, physical fitness, and swimming.  Until the last half hour, everything about their classes had been typical and like always my kids were loving every minute of it. As the children poured out of their gym class, I overheard them discussing  the beautiful Homezone art banner they had just created in art class. Then I heard other chatter (mainly from the boys) about how fun it had been to play dodgeball.  Once the kids had formed their two separate walking lines, they proceeded to march from the family gymnasium to the changing rooms. After helping my son change,  I very cautiously (and unfortunately without much grace),  lugged my sleeping 6-month-old and his infant carrier to the pool deck.  Then for the next hour, I watched their swimming lessons. The first group to swim was the beginner’s group, which included my son. Pride swelled, as I watched Cheshire float, kick and (almost) swim across the water.  His progress, although slow, has been steady.  Without reservation, he followed the swim instructors every command (something he struggled with just a few months ago).  Instead of reluctantly placing his face into the water, he enthusiastically submerged his entire head and methodically practiced his breathing when asked.  When it came time to kick, he instinctively grabbed his kickboard and ferociously kicked his little heart out.  And if that hadn’t been enough, he then went on to do one of the best black floats I have ever seen.  After two years of swim lessons, it was with great joy to see his fear of swimming replaced with cheer and confidence. As if my son’s progress wasn’t good enough (which of course it was), my daughter’s swim class continued to amaze me with an impromptu kayak lesson.   A few minutes later, after the novice swimmers transitioned to free swim, the advanced swimmers were outfitted in life jackets.  Then their usual swimming spaced doubled in size (one lane suddenly became two) and kayaks were ceremoniously pushed into the water.  After receiving instructions from the swim instructor,  my daughter cautiously took her seat in the kayak and began her first kayaking lesson. For me, it was amusing to see her paddle backward, thrilling to see her advance forward and it was a proud moment when I witnessed  her travel the entire length of the pool.  As you can imagine, she was very pleased as well.  When we finally left the pool she turned to me and said, “That was quite fun! Can I  do that again?” To this, I simply replied, “Maybe this summer you can take lessons or possibly in the fall, but right now let’s just enjoy the moment.” To this she smiled and my children and I all walked along, enjoying another great homeschooling moment....

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Biography: Resources on Julia Child

Posted by on Apr 17, 2015

Julia Carolyn Child (August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was born in Pasadena, California as Julia Carolyn McWilliams.  After receiving an education at both the Westridge School and Polytechnic School in Pasadena, Julia attended Smith College in Massachusetts. After college, she moved to New York City and worked as a copyright in the advertising department of W. & J. Sloane, an upscale home-furnishing firm. In 1937, she returned to California and spent the next four years writing, working and volunteering. In 1942, during WWII, Julia joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)and moved to Washington D.C., where she worked directly with the leader of the OSS, General William J. Donovan.  In 1944, Julia was assigned to a post in Kandy, Ceylon and then later to China.   It is in Ceylon that she met Paul Child, another OSS employee.  On September 1, 1946, Paul and Julia wed in Lumberville, Pennsylvania.  Their lives then took them to Washington D.C. and later to Paris, Franch in 1948. It is in Paris that Julia Child attends Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, studies under Master Chefs like Max Bugnard, and meets Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.  Together the three women, Child, Beck and Bertholle, write the world-famous cookbook  Mastering the Art of French Cooking.   This cookbook was first published in 1961. The Childs continued to move about Europe until they finally settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Julia’s first cooking show, The French Chef, debuted in 1963 and ran for the next 10 years. Julia Child spent the rest of her life cooking, baking, writing and starring in a variety of cooking shows. Julia went on to publish another sixteen cookbooks and starred in ten additional television series and specials. Julia Child’s kitchen which was designed by her husband, Paul Child, is now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C..  This kitchen served as the setting for three of her cooking shows. To learn more about Julia Child check out these great resources:     The Julia Child Foundation At the Julia Child Foundation, you can learn more about Julia’s life (through a great timeline) and her accomplishments. Julia Child at the Smithsonian  Virtually tour Julia Child’s kitchen (available in both flash and text versions) at the Smithsonian.  Here you can, explore her kitchen, learn more about the cooking tools and gadgets she used and read stories about her life. Go behind the scenes of this exhibit at What’s Cooking?.   Learn more about this kitchen’s journey and how it went from a simple kitchen in Cambridge to a full-fledged exhibit at the Smithsonian.  Listen to audio clips by Julia herself, as she talks about her kitchen in Julia’s Stories.    Visit the Project Diary section to learn more about:  Exploring Julia Child’s Kitchen, Talking with Julia, Packing the Kitchen, Curating the Collection and Creating an Exhibit. In the Resources section, the Smithsonian also provides a  recommended children’s book list, which consists of cookbooks, fiction and non-fiction cooking themed books.   PBS: Julia Child View (and print!) Julia Child’s recipes online. Watch full episodes, clips and more in the Julia Child Video Collection. The Julia Child Video Library includes episodes from: In Julia’s Kitchen, Baking with Julia (38 full episodes), In Julia’s Kitchen with Mater Chefs (37 full episodes), Julia Child: Cooking with Master Chefs (16 full episodes) Cooking in Concert Series, and The French Chef. Take a Julia Child quiz to find out “Which Julia Are You?”.   Amazon Prime...

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American History: Revolutionary War (Liberty’s Kids DVD Series for $5)

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015

Liberty’s Kids: DVD Series Recommended for ages 6 – 11 I purchased the Liberty’s Kids: Complete Series DVD set last week at Target.  At only $7.50 it seemed like a great deal, although Amazon currently sells it for $5.00 (which is an even better deal!).  We’ve watched four episodes so far and both my kids love it. Liberty’s Kids explores Colonial life in America.  It was a series that was developed by DHX Cookie Jar and first aired on PBS.  The series follows the lives of two teenagers (Sarah and James), a former slave (Moses), and an eight-year-old boy named Henri.   Sarah is a British loyalist while James is colonist and an American patriot.  This series includes 40 half-hour episodes was produced in 2003.  Guest voices include Annette Bening, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Ben Stiller and Liam Neeson. Topics include: Slavery Thomas Jefferson John Adams The American Flag The Boston Tea Party Paul Revere George Washington Benjamin Franklin Benedict Arnold The Ratification of the Declaration of Independence The Civil War Liberty’s Kids.com free Find online games, coloring pages and more Go behind the scene into the making of this series Visit the Library Archive to learn about 36 different historical figures, historical objects and 17 historical places In the Parents and Teacher’s Section, you will find:  short plays developed for children, lesson plans, historical facts, teaching tips,  activities, and...

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My Quest for the Perfect Cirriculum

Posted by on Apr 9, 2015

  When I first set out to homeschool, I thought choosing curriculum would be simple. First, you figure out the subject you want to teach.  Then you find some textbooks.  Then you purchase the textbooks… done!.  After all, I was the product of a public school education.  All we had were textbooks.  In elementary school, we received workbooks and maybe a few textbooks in the later grades.  In middle and high school we received a textbook for almost every class (art, music, and PE were the exceptions). Every year on the first day of school, my teacher’s would dole out these archaic and out-of-date (and often out of print) books.  Then upon my return home, my mother would create these magnificent brown paper bag textbook covers (thus preserving the book for future students).   The publishers of these books were almost always the same McGraw-Hill, Pretence Hall or Houghton Mifflin. To my amazement, my homeschooling curriculum options were not limited to three publishers but hundreds.  Very quickly, I became inundated with resources and materials. It was overwhelming.  There were secular homeschooling materials, religious materials, materials that were workbook based and other programs that centered upon hands-on learning and manipulatives. You could learn science from reading a book or from doing a different experiment every day of the year!  I remember thinking that it was all too much for me and that I needed help from an expert.  With this in mind, I signed up for my first homeschooling conference. I attended, hoping to have my question answered: What curriculum was the best?  I wanted a curriculum that would be easy to teach and easy for students to follow.  I wanted books and programs that were all inclusive; I didn’t want my daughter to miss out on anything.  I wanted to know the best reading, writing, grammar, spelling, science, math, and foreign language programs.  I figured that if anyone could help me in this endeavor, it would be veteran, homeschooling moms. Although the conference was a success, I did not get a simple answer to my question. I remember listening to these experienced homeschooling mother’s talk about their curriculum experience: how they had used one language arts program one year and then switched to another for a year or two and then to another program after that.  They curriculum hopped more than a child does who’s suffering from a severe Halloween sugar rush.  When asked if they could name their favorite science program, they rattled off five.  For reading programs, they rattled off fifteen. Mathematics programs were by far the worse, no two parents ever named the same math program; everyone used something different. I remember thinking that all of these resources must have been absolutely terrible.  If they were so great, why were parents constantly switching publishers, textbooks, and learning programs? Thankfully this is not the case, as I soon discovered at the used curriculum fair.  Feeling hopeless I wondered into the fair.  Used and new educational materials covered table after table, in the church’s small social hall.  The books, textbooks, workbooks, CD’s, DVD’s and other learning programs looked nothing like the material I had seen online or at my local bookstore.  This curriculum was fun, engaging and highly educational.  I soon realized that my quest to find the perfect curriculum was unnecessary.  All of these resources were more than...

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Free Entrance Days April 18 & 19 @ National Parks

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015

Free Entrance Days in the National Parks Mark your calendar for these entrance fee-free* dates in 2015: January 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Day February 14-16 Presidents Day weekend April 18-19 opening weekend of National Park Week August 25 National Park Service Birthday September 26 National Public Lands Day November 11 Veterans Day *Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated...

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Grammar: 8 Free Online Resources

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015

Whether you are writing or teaching grammar, everyone can use some grammatical help once in a while.  Luckily, there are several great resources readily available online  — and they just so happen to be free.     Grammarly free Grammarly has a free online tool that will check your writings for grammatical errors.  Errors are underlined in red or green.  Not only will it find misspelled words, but it also makes punctuation and word choice suggestions. You can also download an app that will run in Chrome and find all of your mistakes (for better or worse) in everything you write while in Chrome.  They also have downloads for Microsoft Office and Outlook. A free plagiarism checker is also available. They also have a blog where everything related to grammar is discussed, along with tips, quizzes, and trivia. Subscriptions are also available and they range in price from $11.66 – $29.95. Guide to Grammar and Writing free This guide to grammar and writing is sponsored by the nonprofit Capital Community College Foundation and is dedicated to the late Dr. Charles Darling (the creator of this online guide). A wealth of grammar information is contained on this site; charts, examples, and quizzes accompany each grammar lesson. This site contains over 170 online quizzes. Navigating the site is made easy by well-organized drop-down menus, a search box, and an extensive index. A FAQ section provides answers to a number of common grammatical issues, like “affect versus effect” and “beginning a sentence with the world and or but“.   Learn English Kids free British Council This site is created by United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities.  Learn English Kids has online games, stories, lessons and activities to help elementary aged children learn English. This site teaches spelling, writing, reading, and grammar. Registration is required to access certain areas of the website (registration is free). A variety of grammar rules is explained through short videos.  Printable worksheets and answer keys are included with each video (registration is required to access these worksheets). Contains printable grammar tests, quizzes and reference cards .  Grammar rules and brief examples precede the grammar test sections. Practice your English grammar with simple interactive online games. Learn English also has two other websites LearnEnglishTeens and TeachingEnglish. Onestopenglish  free & $ Onestopenglish.com is a teacher resource site, part of Macmillan Education, one of the world’s leading publishers of English language teaching materials. Grammar is explained in their grammar reference section.  These explanations are easy to follow and concise. You can also sign up for different weekly newsletters (lesson plan may be included). Registration is required to access this site and at least half of this site is for subscription members only (teachers/institutions). Online Writing Lab (OWL) free The Learning Center at D’Youville College This site is a good reference tool for teachers or older students looking for information regarding grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation. Use OWL to learn and review basic grammar rules.  The topics covered on this site include  sentence construction, common sentence construction errors, agreements and the parts of speech. Examples and online practice exercises accompany these mini-lessons. Online Writing Lab (OWL) free Purdue University At Purdue’s Online Writing Lab students and teachers can learn all about grammar and the mechanics of writing (among many other things). Grammar topics covered are spelling, numbers, adjectives, adverbs, appositives, articles, prepositions, pronouns, nouns and verbs. The parts of speech are covered...

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US History: Colonial Williamsburg (Free)

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015

Colonial Williamsburg This site is maintained by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  Colonial Williamsburg gives you a comprehensive look at what life was like during colonial times in America.  It is filled with images, audio clips, podcasts, slideshows, videos, live webcams, downloadable PDFs, games (for both adults and children), book recommendations, teaching resources, online collections,  and more. This site is broken down into eight main sections  History, Education, Publication, Research, Museum, Debate, Multimedia, and Kids. History Learn more about the people of Williamsburg (the founders, businessmen, housewives, servants, slaves etc.).  Some of the people profiled include  Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Martha Washington, Gowan Pamphlet (preacher), Gaby Burwell (slave), Catherine Blaikley (midwife) and John Montour (Native American interpreter). You can also learn about the clothing they wore, their gardens (past and present), historical places in Williamsburg, the occupations and trades of colonial people (apothecary, blacksmith, cooper, foodways, wheelwright etc.), and  The American Revolution (this is a separate website: www.ouramericanrevolution.org) Learn about fifes and drums (downloads, audio clips, videos, etc.) There is also an interactive map of the city which allows you to explore Colonial Williamsburg virtually. Education Learn more about in-person field trips, electronic field trips, downloadable lesson plans, and teacher resources. Read select articles from their Teacher Gazette E-Newsletter online or sign up here to receive a copy of this free, monthly e-newsletter. Learn about HERO, a  new multimedia library and e-learning environment sponsored by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  This is a subscription based service and homeschooling discounts are available. Publication Read the current Colonial Williamsburg Journal issue online. You can view and search old issues of this journal as well (going back as far as 1992). Shop for books, videos, DVD’s and music at their online store. Research Read about their current projects in their Current Project section, like the Market House Reconstruction project, the Capitol Ravine Excavation, and Project Archive. Learn more about archeology, history, architecture and historic trades in their Research Area. Visit other Online Resources, which include Virtual Williamsburg, The American Revolution, Slavery and Remembrance, Digital Library, eWilliamsburg and Principles of Freedom. Get visitor’s information on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library or search for materials online and visit their digital library. Museum Learn about the museums of Williamsburg and their collections. Visit their Online Collection which includes images of architectural fragments, artwork, ceramics, costumes and accessories, furniture, glass, household items, maps, mechanical items, musical instruments, quilts,  textiles, tools and equipment, toys and more. Visit their Online Exhibits, which includes a Portrait of George Washington, Historical Threads: Three Centuries of Clothing, Conserving the Murray Sisters, Coins and Currency of Colonial America, Mapping Colonia America and more. Videos, slideshows, podcasts and downloads are also available. Debate This section is called The Tavern, where citizens debate.  What is The Tavern? “In 18th-century taverns, citizens exchanged ideas and opinions about the events of the day. The Tavern renews that tradition, featuring thoughtful commentary on current events and how they relate to American history and citizenship.” (The Tavern) Read articles and blog posts, watch debates and subscribe to The Tavern updates in the Debate section. Multimedia Downloads, slideshows, video, podcasts, audio clips, ePostcards, an online photo store and games are all available in the Multimedia section. View the city live through webcams (Multimedia section).  Live webcams capture video from outside The Raleigh Tavern, Merchants Square, the Capitol, the Courthouse, the Armoury and the Market House Reconstruction. Kids At the Kid’s Zone:...

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1 Yr Subscription Bon Appetit Magazine $4.99

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015

Bon Appetit Magazine 1 Year (12 issues) $4.99 (Reg. $15)  @ DiscountMags.com Bon Appetit on Kindle Fire, iPad, and Nook are now included for FREE with your Print Subscription 1 Year (12 issues) $4.99 2 Years (24 issues) $9.98 3 Years (36 issues) $14.97 No Auto Renew and Free...

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Select LEGO Friends on Sale at Amazon.com

Posted by on Mar 29, 2015

LEGO Friends 41094 Heartlake Lighthouse $31.99 (2o% off) @ Amazon.com LEGO Friends 41093 Heartlake Hair Salon $ 23.99 (20% off) @Amazon.com   LEGO Friends 41037 Stephanie’s Beach House $29.00 (27% off) @ Amazon.com LEGO Friends Dolphin Cruiser $55.99 (20% off)  @ Amazon.com LEGO Friends 41095 Emma’s House $55.99 (20% off)  @...

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Toys R Us Bike & Trike Trade-In (Ends 4/4)

Posted by on Mar 28, 2015

Used Bike and Trike Trade-In Save up to $50 on any new bike or trike @ Toys R Us “The Bike & Trike Trade-In event offers parents the opportunity to trade in any used bike or trike in exchange for a savings of up to $50 on any regular-priced bike or trike (excluding ALL clearance bikes and trikes). After trading in a used bike or trike, customers will receive a coupon valid towards the purchase of a new, regular-priced bike or trike.” (Toys R Us)   Save $10 on any bike or trike priced $59.97 or less Save $20 on any bike or trike priced $59.99 – $99.97 Save $30 on any bike or trike priced $99.99 – $149.97 Save $50 on any bike or trike priced $149.99 or more  ...

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April Field Trips: William Sonoma Jr Chef Classes, LEGO Store & More (Free)

Posted by on Mar 28, 2015

Culinary Events & Classes @ William Sonoma Saturday, April 11, at 10 am Junior Chef: Lunch Box Lessons Saturday, April 18 at 10 am Junior Chef: DIY Homemade Drinks Saturday, April 25 at 10 am Junior Chef: Baking Bundts   Call your local store to register! Home Depot The following information is taken from Home Depot’s website: Saturday, April 4 (9:00 am- 12:00 pm) Learn How to Build a Chalkboard Planter Stand Come learn how to build a chalkboard planter stand FREE hands-on workshops; designed for children ages 5 – 12 All kid get to keep their craft, receive a FREE certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin while supplies last. Children must be present at the store to participate in the workshop and receive the kit, apron and pin. Kids Workshop activities are scheduled on a first come/first served basis. Please do not arrive before 9:00 a.m. Register online at Home Depot. LEGO Store Monthly Mini Model Build! The following information is taken from LEGO’s website: Tuesday,  7 (beginning at 5:00 pm until supplies last) LEGO UFO Visit your local LEGO Store on the first Tuesday of every month and you can learn how to build a cool mini model, and take it home – for free! Quantities are limited and offer is good while supplies last only. Models are not for sale and cannot be purchased. One free per child. Event is open to children ages 6 to 14 only. Ask a Brick Specialist for details.   Lowes Kids Clinic The following information is taken from Lowes’ website: Saturday, April 11 (10:00 am) See It Grow Build a wooden project and get a free apron, goggles, patch and more.  Spring is here and it’s time to start gardening! Your child will love learning about plants and watching them grow with this great kit! Register online...

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Mathematics: Khan Academy (Free)

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015

Khan Academy free Khan Academy is a non-profit organization founded in 2006.  The founder, Salman Khan, believed that everyone in the world should be entitled to a free education and from this belief Khan Academy was born.  Salman Khan has a BS in mathematics, a M.Sc. in electrical engineering and computer science and an MEng in electrical engineering and computer science from M.I.T..  He also holds a  Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. This is what you can find in their mathematics section: There are teaching tools available for both parents and teachers.  Parents and Teacher create their own logins to track student progress. They have Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese versions of the site. Khan Academy produced Youtube videos provide students with live lessons Math lessons are broken down by topic and skill level.  Videos and interactive practice problems accompany lessons. Early math (K-2nd Grade):  counting, place value, patterns, addition, subtraction, measurement, geometry 3rd Grade:  addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, measurement, geometry, place value, rounding, expressions, and patterns. 4th grade:  addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, measurement, geometry, place value, rounding, factors, multiples and patterns 5th grade: arithmetic operations, fractions, place value, and decimals, algebraic thinking 6th grade: arithmetic operations, negative numbers, ratios, rates, percentages, properties of numbers, variables and expressions, geometry, data and statistics 7th grade: rates, proportional relationships, ratios, negative numbers (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) fractions, decimals, percentages, variables and expressions, geometry, statistics and probability 8th grade: numbers and operations, solving problems with one unknown, two-variable linear equations and functions, systems of equations, geometry, data and modeling Algebra:  Basics, Algebra I and Algebra II, Linear Algebra Geometry Trigonometry Probability and Statistics Calculus:  Precalculus, Calculus, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus,  Multivariable Calculus Visit the Mathematics Section of Home & Schooling for...

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39% off Graco Pack N Play Playard with Bassinet, Tinker

Posted by on Mar 27, 2015

Graco Pack N Play Playard with Bassinet, Tinker $49.00 @...

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Our 2014 Family Road Trip to California

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015

The one year anniversary of our great homeschooling road trip is fast approaching.  Last April, (while 4 months pregnant), we took an impromptu road trip from Seattle to Los Angeles, California. We drove over 2,400 miles (round trip).  We traveled through mountains, farmland, cities, small towns and along the shoreline.  Our favorite parts of the trip were seeing Mt. Shasta, Mt. St. Helen and the redwoods at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (this was homeschooling at its best!).  It was an amazing trip and one that our whole family will treasure for a long time to come.  Sure, driving for hours on end was difficult with two kids in the car (and a third on the way), but it was completely worth it.   No matter how hard it was for my husband and I, it was something we wanted our children to experience… this great country firsthand.  It’s one thing to learn about geography from a book, it’s another thing to live it. Here are some of my favorite photographs from the trip.     So what’s your most memorable homeschooling road...

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43% off Graco Relay Click Connect Stroller

Posted by on Mar 26, 2015

Graco Relay Click Connect Stroller, Jaguar $186.97 (Reg. 329.99) @...

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