Early Edition: Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints – Thanksgiving

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic Yep, I’m kicking in this week’s HHH post a couple days early so that you homeschoolers can get in on some terrific Thanksgiving-related educational treats online.

I’ve come across most of these in the past few days, and just knew I needed a special post for sharing them. 


Please enjoy…and of course, have a


    Happy Thanksgiving 1


    Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Phonics

    fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic

    So I had a whole other post idea ready for this week’s HHH, but, the Sesame Street 40th anniversary has really done a nostalgic number on me. 

    Which number you say?  Well, the number THREE, of course…ah, ah, ahhh!!  (I used to love the Count and be terrified of him all at the same time!!)  I had this Fisher Price Sesame Street playset, and I would always make sure that the little figurine of the Count was poked deep inside the little Sesame Street garbage truck – – with the little plastic doors closed – – before I went to sleep at night. 


    This trip down memory lane made me think back to all the wonderful ways we studied phonics when the boys were younger.  We definitely watched our share of Sesame Street episodes, but we also found all kinds of other creative ways to have fun with letter sounds. We created letter sound “hopscotch” on our front sidewalk, listened to phonics songs, and played phonics board games.

    Of course now, there are also plenty of great online and software-based phonics helps.  One of my fave of all time is a program called Read Write & Type.  It addresses multiple learning styles at once, by teaching phonics, reading, writing AND keyboarding in one seamless program.

    Another terrific site that unfortunately came along after my boys were past the beginning phonics stage was Starfall.  This free program is one of the very best programs I’ve ever seen for introducing phonics in a fun, non-threatening, go-at-your-own-pace kind of way.

    And speaking of Sesame Street, one of PBS Kids other flagship shows, Between the Lions, has a terrific website with some really engaging phonics games, activities, and printables.

    I can’t forget to mention Time4Learning’s preschool program either, which has been completely revamped and created with all new activities this year.  When I was in FL in July, I even got to read for one of the interactive stories in the new curriculum, so if your kids use the program, don’t be surprised if you hear my southern “twang” from the computer! 

    And not to leave out you iPhone’ers, there are of course multiple phonics apps coming out just for your portable needs.  One I think shows real promise for its interactivity is Alphabet Air, which is designed for even the youngest of toddlers who are showing interest in letters and letter sounds.

    If you have any favorite phonics software programs, websites, or mobile applications, how about sharing them in the comments?

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    Nobody told me it could be like this…

    I don’t know what your take on the Blu-Ray players is, but mine has always been…what’s the point?  I mean DVDs work perfectly fine.  They are definitely a step above VHS because of the whole no rewinding thing, and they take up less space in the entertainment cabinet, so I see no reason to change-over to Blu-Ray. 

    UNTIL…our DVD went kaput.  Then there was a choice.  Do I plunk down money for another DVD player, OR move with the times and get a Blu-Ray?? Decisions, Decisions.  And with my birthday coming up in just a month, I knew that this new gadget would be attached to the celebration, so I decided it had better be one HECK of a gadget!!

    Thus began my search.  After a while I realized that for the most part, a Blu-Ray is a Blu-Ray is a Blu-Ray. 

    LG bluray UNTIL…I found it.  A Blu-Ray that was most definitely NOT just a Blu-Ray.  This Blu-Ray had network access.  Which means it connects to your home network, and lets you watch YouTube, Netflix Instant Watch, and even new releases via CinemaNow.  Oh-ho-ho-ho!!  Now that was a Blu-Ray worthy of my last year in my 30’s!!

    With one flick of my remote-hovering thumb I have basically TV-on-demand – – especially with YouTube offering more and more network shows, and Netflix having plenty of reruns of stuff I’ve been meaning to catch up on.

    This is the way TV was meant to be.  What you want, when you want it.  Sometimes, a techie just can’t resist the temptations and seducements of the “next big thing.” 

    I mean have you seen those refrigerators with the internet screen built right into the door?????

    Loose Ends and Giveaways

    I think I need to start a whole weekly meme called “loose ends Tuesday”, because every Tuesday seems to be dedicated to just that, lately.  So here goes…

    new logo If you haven’t entered the October giveaways at SecularHomeschool.com yet, be sure and stop by and enter before the end of the month.  I am giving away some premium accounts at Spelling City™ and some free preschool accounts at Time4Learning™.  You need to be a member of the site to enter.

    My other random giveaway-related item is from Blog2Print.  I’m thinking about taking the plunge and putting this year’s blog posts into a keepsake book.  I mean, my blog posts are pseudo journal entries, of sorts, and our family has been through lots of different things this year that I wouldn’t mind having record of. 

    blog2print With Blog2Print, you can take those posts and turn them into a beautiful book layout where you get to pick the cover (hardcover or softcover), the images, the order and number of posts included, and even which comments you want to add.  You can even get just a pdf of your book!

    And Blog2Print was nice enough to share a discount code with me that is good through November 9, so if you think you would like to order yourself an early Christmas present, now’s the time.  The discount code is for 20% off your finished blog book.  Here is the code: fall4b2p

    I hope you take advantage of some of these opportunities! Have a totally random Tuesday everyone…

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    Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Ancient History

    fridays hardwired homeschool hints 150X150 One of the coolest aspects of this interest-led learning gig is that I get to do internet research.  Have I mentioned that doing internet research is right up there with imbibing a well-prepared mojito for me?  Love, love, LOVE it!

    So when Uber wanted me to find some good sources of info on Ancient Greece, I was all over that like skin on a potato.  And of course Googling Ancient Greece takes you to sites that aren’t just about Ancient Greece, but Ancient Rome, and then those sites lead you to checking out Ancient China, and the next thing you know you’ve got enough fodder for a whole HHH post! 

    So if your “free form scholar” ever asks you for info on Ancient History, you are good to go, thanks to my rampant internet research addiction.

    As far as I’m concerned, it is impossible to study history of any kind without a good movie or two to supplement the often dry text of historical books, so be sure to stop by Historybusters for a complete list of history-related movies catalogued by era and age/grade appropriateness.  We even discovered a great documentary series on Ancient Greece that is available on Netflix Instant Watch!

    Probably everyone has used Mr. Dowling’s great “Browse the World” site, I suppose.  But I’m listing it for any newbie homeschoolers out there…just in case!

    What is ancient history without a timeline, and in my opinion, this is one of the most comprehensive ones, and links you to tons of great resources and images of whatever you are studying.

    When the kids were younger, we always included some great historical fiction and nonfiction books to round out our studies of different periods and eras.  A Book in Time offers a great reading list of historical books for kids.

    If you have some favorite Ancient History tools to tell about, by all means list them in the comments!

    Some Weeks Are A Little More Topsy Than Techie

    So I came home from that glorious Camp Greenville field trip on Sunday to a message in my inbox from one of the members at my SecularHomeschool.com website.  It seemed that while I was hiking and dosey-do’ing, a major tool of a person was busy hacking into the site. 

    I didn’t want to believe it was true, but alas when I arrived at the homepage, I was greeted with an ominously evil looking “you’ve been hacked” screen instead of the screenshot that I’m so used to – – the one that has my blood sweat and tears all pixeled in the right places. 

    Following that lovely revelation was the realization that even my admin page was out of access to me.  This asinine evil-doer really had my “balls in a vice”, as my hubby is wont to occasionally say.  Topsy-Techie was feeling a lot less techie, and a lot more topsy.  I had to call on my back-up crew…the REAL techies…who know what to do in these kinds of instances. 

    It was degrading and demeaning on so many levels.  If you’ve been following T-T for long, you will know that there are few things I detest more than having to grovel at the feet of the Geek Squadhands in ears My idea of “technical support” is anyone who is willing to replenish my coffee cup, take over the cooking duties, and ignore my language while I am tackling a particularly snarly technical difficulty.

    But I knew immediately that this particular snafu was way out of my league.  The stupid site had started hurling racial epithets and extremist Islamic propaganda by that time, so I knew it was time to call in the big guns. 

    Anyway, as humbling as it is, I’d like to dedicate this post to M and I.  My two knights in shining pocket-protectors who not only knew just what to do, but how to handle an renegade would-be know-nothing know-it-all techie.  Thanks to them, SecularHomeschool.com is back in business and humming along like clockwork. 

    Me?  Well, I’m still licking my wounds a bit.  All will be better soon, I’m sure.  Anyone have any easy technical glitch that they need advice on to help boost my morale???

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    Find Something Fun to Do with Goby – AppScout

    Come on…you know you are feeling bored today.  Listless. Lifeless. Nothing to do.  It’s a Tuesday, for crying out loud!  So what’s a homeschooling mom to do??  Check out Goby!

    Here are all the deets from AppScout…

    Find Something Fun to Do with Goby – AppScout

    Just wanted to share because it was “kewl”.  Have a great day, everyone!