Squee!!

Just had to pop into T-T tonight to brag about my baby.  (No not THAT kind of baby, silly!!  When my biological clock ticks, I just open a new website!!) 

The source of my pride is SecularHomeschool.com which just reached the 500 member mark today!!  I know that in web terms, that doesn’t sound like much, but if you’ve ever tried to find other secular homeschoolers, you’ll understand that getting 500 of them together in one place is much akin to winning the lottery TWICE…in one WEEK!!

Besides the growth in numbers, though, the forum activity has just exploded in recent weeks, which has been so fun to watch.  Everyone is so supportive and helpful to each other, too…it’s like a lovefest over there.  Plus, we got a brand new header makeover today and a new logo!!

Come join us, won’t you???  Why shouldn’t you get in on the excitement, and help us get closer to the 1000 mark?!

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Keyboarding

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic

I have to think back a bit to remember my beginning keyboarding days.  It was called “typing” back in the day, and there were about eight of us in the back of a classroom listening to our instructor over the whir of the electric typewriters.  “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” A-a-a-S-s-s-;-;-;-L-l-l 

(zzzzzzz…)

But it worked, I suppose.  I took to typing quite well, and can easily break 90wmp when I’m on a roll.  My kids, however, learned typing QUITE differently.  And yet, even their techie keyboarding tools are quickly becoming outdated.  So I’m going to share with you a mixture of my favorite tried-and-true programs, along with some cutting edge tools that are in store for THIS generation’s typists.

  • Read, Write, and Type – – my absolute fave multisensory, multi-learning-style phonics program for kids!  By combining hearing sounds, typing keys, and writing words, in my opinion this is one of the best programs out there for young readers and keyboarders.  It’s also now available online!
  • If you are REALLY serious about having you or or child learn to type, you might consider a device made just for this purpose.  Both my boys perfected their keyboarding skills by using  The Writer
  • Another no-nonsense program I’ve heard great things about is TypingWeb.  You can even be “certified” by the Typing Institute of America (hey, sometimes those things matter to people!!)
  • If you have a dedicated typing program, but just want some fun practice, I highly recommend the keyboarding games at LearningGamesForKids.
  • If you, like me, aren’t sure keyboards are going to look very much like they do now in the next ten years, then you might want to have your child also focus on some skills for the very near future…touchscreen typing.  Think I’m kidding?  Check out this technology that could leave us key-tappers in the dust:
    My other question is…can accurate voice-directed typing be far behind??  In fact, maybe this whole POST is basically obsolete!! (((sigh))) I’ve never felt so useless in all my life…

 

To view ALL the Fridays’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints posts, click here.

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Environmental Education

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic My ecological footprint has definitely shrunk in the last ten years.  Our family has made both big and small changes to help nurture our favorite planet back to health. For instance, we’ve moved completely to cloth napkins, which I discovered you can get for about 10 cents each at most thrift stores – – cheap enough to keep even my messy family clean!  And we did the whole “lowering the thermostat by 2 degrees” this winter, which I honestly can say I’ve barely noticed.

Environmentalism has been an important issue for our family since our kids were knee-high to grasshoppers, so integrating environmental education into our homeschooling has been fairly seamless.  But if you have been looking for some concrete ways to study ecological concepts with your kiddos, here are a few resources you might want to check out…

  • First things first…to help your kids even understand why they need to be environmentally conscious, have the whole family take this quiz to get a good hard look at your ecological footprint
  • There is a social network for everything, but if your teen shows an interest in environmental activism, you might want to introduce him or her to Teens for Planet Earth
  • For the younger set, I really like EduGreen for interactive explorations into the environment
  • Of course the EPA has some great educational resources as well. Scroll down to the bottom of the home page where you can choose from elementary, middle school, or high school materials
  • If your kids appreciate hands-on learning, you might want to check out the GLOBE program for a chance to really get involved in the solution
  • Finally, just for its “coolness” factor, be sure to stop by Pulse of the Planet for a daily 2-minute “sound portrait” of planet Earth…just to build the love for our home

Check out the full collection of Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints here

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Art

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic I have just about the least amount of natural art talent of anyone I know.  Stick figures are the highlight of my art portfolio.  Thankfully, I married a fella with MAD art skills, so I hoped it would sort of even-out our gene pool.  The boys were lucky that they took more after their dad than me.

But when dad’s not around, you can bet that if I want to teach art, it’s going to have to involve the computer somehow.  So I thought I would share with you some of my favorite art-related sites on the web  – – just in case – – like me – – your idea of modern art also happens to be those cool Google doodles at the top of your search page!

  • Creativity Express Online– This awesome art program is like a full multimedia art curriculum. With great lessons on things like Lines, Shape and Form, and even Fibonacci! this is one of the premiere art programs available to homeschoolers. (Creativity Express is now offered as a free bonus elective for Time4Learning curriculum subscribers in grades 5 and up!!)
  • Art Attacks – comprehensive collection of great projects that can be done at home.  Also includes lists of everything you will need to accomplish each project.
  • smART kids – Chicago Museum of Art’s website for children. Includes interactive games and activities that help kids (7-12) get a different perspective on art.
  • KinderArt – probably one of the largest collections of free art lessons on the net!
  • NGA Kids – The National Gallery of Art Kids site, which has some way-cool online art gadgets for exploring creativity
  • Artcyclopedia – For looking up just about ANYTHING you could possibly want to know about art and artists
  • In the Gallery – Explore both a traditional and modern art gallery and see how what you think about the pieces matches up with professional art critics
  • The Power of Art – High School level material from the BBC about the affect art has on our thinking and our emotions.
  • Eyes on Art – sequential series of activities that lead teachers/students through exploration of many different aspects of the visual arts
  • Artsonia – and finally, what are you going to do with all that art your kids create?  Well, you are going to upload it to Artsonia where you can not only share it with friends and family, but even turn it into cool gifts!

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Just Exactly How Wired Am I??

wired So the first thing in my inbox today was a surprising email from Obi-Mom letting me know that we had both made a list for “Top Ten Wired Mom Blogs!”  I got that feeling akin to what Tom Hanks must feel when his agent calls him on the day of the Golden Globe Nominations.

Well, if Tom Hanks were a geeky homeschooling mom, of course. (hey, he DID wear that dress back in the 80’s!!)

Anyway, I had to think for a moment (not exactly pleasant before breakfast) what it means to be a “wired mom.” 

Does it mean I have all the latest gadgetry?  Not even close.

Does it mean I keep up with the latest techie news?  Ok, maybe a little in between the de-cluttering and the waterfalling.

Does it mean I am 100% obsessed with the world wide web?  You bet your cotton-pickin’-mobile-wifi-enabled-laptop it does! 

I’m a wired mom.  And if you need me…I’ll be here. 

On the web. 

Forever. 

Or until my charge runs out. 

Whichever comes first.

Share-It Saturday: Charity Gift Cards Make Great Holiday Gifts

Share It Saturday On Saturdays, (when I think of it, of course), I thought it would be nice to share one of my favorite blog posts I read during the previous week.  This way, you’ll get to see some of my blogroll up close and personal, and I get to share info that really spoke to me! This is from a cool blog I read daily called “Connect with Your Teens Through Pop Culture and Technology

I love this idea about a cool stocking stuffer for teens (and ANYONE, for that matter)

CHECK IT OUT: Charity Gift Cards Make Great Holiday Gifts

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints – What about Writing?

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One of the things I see over and over in homeschool forums and in homeschool-related email groups is a fear of teaching writing.  I don’t know if it is because we didn’t feel like we got adequate writing instruction ourselves, or we just put so much emphasis on the importance of strong writing skills. 

Truth is, though, that those of us with a B.A. in Writing aren’t immune to this fear.  I find myself sort of hoping all that reading my kids do will simply “rub off” on them without me having to do much actual instruction in writing!  ;)  But I am also a realist. So I’ve been doing some research lately on some very cool online helps for teaching writing to your homeschoolers of all ages.

  • I think I’ve mentioned before the great online writing classes at Time4Writing.  Each of my boys is going to be taking another one of these next semester.  There are classes for every student level – – from elementary to high school and college prep!
  • For a quick writing refresher, there are some neat Writing Videos at neoK12.
  • GrammarGirl is a fun and easy way to get your teens excited about writing.  She has terrific podcasts, a Facebook fan page, and even some actual paperback books with a quirky, fun style.
  • There is no better way to get young kids excited about writing than by letting them create their own picture book.
  • If you have boys, like I do, then you know how powerful graphic novels can be on motivation to write.  Maybe you already have dozens and dozens of pages of cartoon-style writing sitting around on your coffee table.  If so, one online tool you might want to check out is Lulu.com.  Lulu helps you self publish anything you want – – even graphic novels – – and turn it into a nice hardcover book, if you like.  (Talk about a great birthday idea!)
  • If your kids keep a journal, or you like the idea of having them journal as a daily writing assignment, you will appreciate the writing prompts at Writing Fix.
  • And some of my favorite all-time writing tools for students can be found at ReadWriteThink.  Take your time and check them all out.

I’m going to TRY to feel a little less daunted by homeschooling writing in the near future…how about you??