Monthly Archives: August 2010

Get a Free Copy of the Constitution


Hillsdale College is offering a free copy of the constitution. Limit one per order. Allow 2-3 weeks for delivery.

Labels: Freebies, History, This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Internet Fun for Toddlers and Preschoolers

MP900202028[1] Back in January, I posted 27 Ways to Use the Internet to Keep Your Toddler or Preschooler Busy. Since then, I’ve learned about several other fun and educational sites aimed at the younger crowd. So I thought I’d post an updated list.

  • Aven’s Corner offers preschoolers fun, educational games and activities.
  • Baby Gamer has collected links to games and activities for infants and toddlers and categorized them (i.e. A,B,C’s, Animals, Plants, Drawing, etc.).
  • Baby Smash is a free program that you can install on your PC. It not only locks the keys so that your baby can pound on your keyboard without damaging any of your files or applications, it also draws letters, numbers, and shapes while playing sounds. My daughter really enjoys this program and will play with it for 5 -10 minutes while I read to my son (which is a long time for her). Baby Smash is a copy/homage of AlphaBaby, which is for Macs.
  • BBC’s CBeebies site is sort of the equivalent of the U.S.’s PBS site, it has games and activities that correspond to the UK’s preschool television shows (also BBC Schools Ages 4-11 site has a multitude of learning activities, some of which, are aimed at preschoolers)
  • Birmingham Grid for Learning’s early Years Foundation Stage site has a variety of fun things for young learners
  • Boowa and Kwala has lots of games, activities, songs, printables and more.
  • Brain Connection has interactive activities and games that teach memory attention and sound discrimination skills.
  • Chateau Meddybemps provides lots of fun and educational games and activities for preschoolers.
  • Count Us In Games offers games designed to teach basic math concepts. The games can be downloaded to your PC also.
  • Crayola Creativity Central  is a collection of Crayola-themed games, coloring pages and other activities for preschoolers.
  • Crickweb has some preschool games and activities
  • Duplo Fun Zone – is a fun place for Duplo-themed games and movies for young children (I do want to warn you that the “movies” are just glorified commercials).
  • Fisher Price’s website has games, activities, and coloring pages for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
  • Funschool Kaboose’s preschool page offers games and coloring pages.
  • Fun with Spot is an adorable site with Spot the Dog-themed games, activities, coloring pages, and stories.
  • Goodnight Stories has some stories that your child can hear being read while she turns the pages of her own book (Make Way for the Ducklings, Guess How Much I Love You, etc.).
  • HiT Entertainment is the “home of popular children’s entertainment properties, such as Bob the Builder, Barney, Thomas and Friends, Pingu, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina, and more.” The site has games, videos, and activities that are based on their shows.
  • Jan Brett’s website offers games, activities, and printables based on her numerous award-winning books.
  • KneeBouncers is a website with games for toddlers. Toddlers do not have to hit specific keys to play the games, instead, any key will cause an interaction, such as a police car to sound it’s siren, a shape to appear, a balloon to be counted, etc.
  • Lil’ Fingers has online storybooks, printables, and games for toddlers. In addition, check out their You Tube Zoo, which offers 100 kid-friendly You Tube videos about animals, categorized by animal type.
  • Kent ICT – This site has literacy, math, and other miscellaneous games and activities, some of which, are appropriate for preschoolers
  • Literactive is a free phonics site with lots of pre-reading fun.
  • Literacy Center – This site can be viewed in English, German, French, or Spanish. It offers games that teach letters, shapes, numbers, and more.
  • Nick Jr. has games, activities, and videos based on their many popular preschool television series.
  • PBS Kids has games, activities, and videos based on their many popular preschool television series.
  • Playhouse Disney has games, activities, and videos based on their many popular preschool television series.
  • Sesame Street’s website is a place where your preschoolers can watch Sesame Street videos, play games, and more.
  • Seussville is the place for Dr. Seuss-themed games and activities.
  • Sheppard Software has educational games for preschoolers.
  • Starfall is a site devoted to teaching phonics with games, videos, stories, and more. Their “A, B, C’s” category has age-appropriate options for preschoolers.
  • Storyplace has online stories and activities, as well as printables, for preschoolers.
  • Storyline Online is a site with videos of famous people, such as Al Gore, James Earl Jones, Tia and Tamara Mowry, Elijah Wood, and more, reading children’s books out loud. Book titles include A Bad Case of Stripes, Stellaluna, Brave Irene, Somebody Loves You, Mr Hatch, etc. The site also gives related activities that you can do offline with your child.
  • Toy Theater has lots of games and activities for young children

  • Labels: Online Learning, Toddlers
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    Quiz That Matches Personalities with College Majors

    Questioning I learned about this free quiz today. It will tell you what major/career is a good fit for your personality. Obviously, life decisions should not be made solely on a ten-question quiz, but it might offer your student some direction if he is not sure what major he wants to pursue. Some of the questions were difficult for me to answer, but it actually recommended my college major and many of the things that I have pursued since college.

    Labels: Freebies, High School, Social Studies, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    Homeschooling in High School – College Conundrums

    This year my second oldest child will be applying for college. I got off easy with my oldest, who decided to attend community college for two years before attending university. I’ve been researching how to help my kids apply for college for several years, but still I have been caught off guard by some of hoops homeschoolers have to jump through in order to apply to colleges. In all honesty, the students don’t have that much extra to do, but we parents have to do all the work that public schools usually do. Except, it is not a streamlined process for us.

    So I thought I would start a series of posts about homeschooling through high school, in particular, addressing applying to college.

    With that said, the first thing I wanted to do is to encourage everyone to reconsider whether or not college is the right option for your student. As homeschoolers, we obviously are people who question society’s norms, yet many of us still find ourselves acting as if college is a given in life. In fact, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Marty Nemko states that 70% of high school graduates now attend college, which is up from 40% in 1970. The question that arises, therefore, is how many people actually need to go to college. Is it necessary for contractors to go to college? What about an entrepreneur? What about Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, both of whom have done quite well, despite having dropped out of college? Do the benefits post-college outweigh the money not earned due to waiting four years (or more) to start a career, plus the cost of college itself?

    Not only can I not answer these and other questions about college for you, but you cannot answer them for your student. You can sway your child though, attempt to guide him in the direction you would have him go. So it is important to consider if college is the right decision for him.

    I do not want to be seen as a college naysayer. I went to college, my husband also went, but did not graduate (note that he is the one in the family who makes the big bucks). My two oldest children are/will attend college. My 3rd starts community college through a high school program this fall, but does not plan to pursue college beyond her last two years of high school. I just want to remind people that abstaining from college does not mean that you cannot have a successful, fulfilled, and happy life. There are other options… such as:

    • Two-year college programs
    • Technical/certificate programs at community and technical colleges
    • Vocational programs at community and technical colleges
    • Apprenticeships
    • Entry-level positions
    • Self-employment
    • Military
    • Distance learning programs
    • Homeschooling/unschooling college (the next wild frontier that some homeschoolers are exploring)

    If you are interested in reading more these issues, I highly recommend The Uncollege Alternative: Your Guide to Incredible Careers and Amazing Adventures Outside College by Danielle Wood.

    Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    World Water Monitoring Day Offers Tons of Learning Opportunities for Homeschoolers

     image September 18, 2010 is World Water Monitoring Day. Here is a description from the official site:

    World Water Monitoring Day™ (WWMD) is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.

    An easy-to-use test kit enables everyone from children to adults to sample local water bodies for a core set of water quality parameters including temperature, acidity (pH), clarity (turbidity) and dissolved oxygen (DO). Results are shared with participating communities around the globe through the WWMD Web site.

    The test kits are free and in addition to helping with WWMD, collecting and analyzing a water sample is an excellent science lesson unto itself. This year, with the BP oil spill, the lesson is especially crucial. In addition, partly due to the oil spill, there are many, many educational resources for teaching about water quality available. Some of the many resources that might interest you are:

    • 4-H’s National Youth Science Day is October 6, 2010 and is focusing on water quality this year. You can purchase science experiment kits from them for $22.
    • Maps help put the BP oil spill into better perspective. This map and this map let you compare the size of the oil spill to where you live (this is very eye opening – it is about the size of half the state of Washington, where I live).
    • The EPA has lots of resources for kids about water and pollution, as well as a page of teaching resources
    • The National Wildlife Federation has a page devoted to the spill that summarizes the events in age-appropriate language and detail. In addition, they have a mini-newsletter for kids that covers the spill. They also have an easy science activity that helps to illustrate the effects if the spill. (Here and here and here are other similar experiments that are aimed at somewhat different age groups.)
    • The Gulf of Mexico Alliance has many lesson plans, as well as videos, podcasts, and other educational resources.
    • The National Marine Educators Association has many lesson plans
    • NOAA has a page for students and educators with various experiments for students
    • National Environmental Education Week has many lessons and activities for teaching about water.
    • The National Park Service has several activities about water for kids.
    • has many lesson plans for educators, as well as videos, podcasts, a virtual field trip, and more.
    • The USDA Forest Service has lots of information, worksheets, videos, photos, etc. about fish
    • The Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest has a lesson plan that uses art to teach about fish
    • The USGS has a Water Science for Schools page
    • The Audubon Society has a program for kids to raise money, called Pennies for the Planet. This year, funds raised will go to various coastal projects. There are also some pages to color and a free kit that you can request here.
    • Black Tides is a site that discusses oil spills with a graphical interface, it is more appropriate for middle – highschoolers.
    • Here is a history of oil spills. While, here is a history of the more famous oil spills.
    • Energy Kids discusses oil, where it comes from, how we use it, etc.
    • CNN has a detailed timeline of the spill

    Labels: Freebies, Online Learning, Science
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    Free Student Budget Planner

    Squawkfox has a good post about student budget planning, complete with a downloadable spreadsheet. It would be very helpful if you have a student heading off to college, but I think it could be useful for students still at home also.

    Labels: Freebies, Practical Life Skills
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    Free World Maps From World Vision


    World Vision is giving away free world maps (15,000 total). Limit one per household.

    Labels: Social Studies
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    Educational Discounts for Homeschoolers

    imageThis weekend is the big Teacher Appreciation Weekend at many stores (be sure to check with your local store to see if they’re participating). Most stores consider homeschool parents to be teachers (check with your local store, you may need to bring in some sort of proof of your homeschool status). This is a great time to stock up on homeschool supplies.

    • JoAnn Fabrics – Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15 – Show your teacher ID &  receive 20% off your purchase and a free tote bag. If you sign up for the JoAnn’s Teacher Rewards program, you’ll receive 15% off your purchases all year as well as a bonus 20% off coupon.
    • Big Lots – Saturday, August 14th – Teachers receive 10% off your entire purchase (with valid ID)
    • Office Max – Sunday August 15th – Teachers receive a free reusable tote and 20% off everything they can fit inside. Must be a member of the Max Perks teacher reward program, but can sign up on the day of the event
    • Office Depot – Dates vary by location. During Teacher Appreciation Week, teachers will receive 10% off their qualifying purchases, plus there will be a free breakfast on Saturday, giveaways, and more.
    • Staples – Dates vary by location. Receive a free thank you gift for first 100 teachers.
    • Michaels – Free Crop Event for teachers on Saturday, August 27, from 3pm – 8:45pm. Learn how to create fun bulletin boards, bookmarks, signs & more. They provide the space & an assortment of tools.

    Year Round Programs

    Other stores, such as Lakeshore Learning, are rumored to offer educator discounts, but I was not able to verify this online. In addition, local, non-chain stores may offer discounts. It never hurts to ask.

    Labels: Educator Discounts and Curriculum Sales
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

    Perseid Meteor Shower, Aug. 12, 1997. (Copyright/Credit: Wally Pacholka)

    The Perseid meteor shower is underway right now. This annual meteor shower has been my family’s best option for seeing meteors in year’s past as it offers so  many bright meteors (we live in a fairly well-lit urbanish area, so cannot see many astronomical displays).

    According to NASA:

    This year’s Perseid meteor shower peaks on Aug. 12-13, and it promises to be one of the best displays of the year. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a peak display of at least 80 meteors per hour. A waxing crescent moon will set before the shower becomes active, setting a perfect stage for meteor watching — weather permitting, of course!

    Labels: Science
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

    Meteorwatch Trailer

    While researching more about the Perseids meteor shower, I came across this interesting, but somewhat silly, video.

    Labels: Science
    Posted by Maureen Sklaroff