Hardwired Homeschool Hints: My Favorites

It’s been a little longer than usual since my last post because I got hit with the creeping chest crud.  I went all through fall, all through winter, and into spring as healthy as a horse, then at the tail end of spring break…whammo!  Go figure.  But before I was struck down in my prime, I thoroughly enjoyed two blessed weeks of sleeping late and staying in my jammies till lunchtime.  Pure unadulterated bliss. 

So it’s back to the grindstone today…back to alarm clocks, schedules, and routine…back to the homeschool workaday life.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you.  I love our homeschooling life.  I love learning alongside my kiddos and finding out what makes the world go round.  I love seeing the light bulbs switch on when they finally “get” something they’ve been struggling with, and I adore watching the creative juices flow out of their brains while they are working on a project.  Most of all, I just love spending time with two of the smartest, funniest, most insightful, most curious – – and yes–geekiest young men on Earth.  Not that I am bias, or anything.

In honor of our homeschool hiatus, I thought I would dedicate a post to some of my all-time favorite techie homeschool resources.  For those of you readers who are homeschoolers yourselves, please feel free to beg, borrow, and steal from my suggestions.  For those of you who have children in school, pay attention, because several of these could be incredibly helpful for homework and school projects. For those of you who aren’t homeschoolers, just close your eyes and hold on tight, this post will be over before you know it!

  • t4l My favorite homeschool curriculum – – yep, you’d have to be quite a newcomer to my blog not to know the answer to this one.  Time4Learning has been the single most positive curriculum experience we’ve had since we started homeschooling nine years ago.  Kudos, T4L!

 

 

  • nettrekker My favorite educational search engine – – Nettrekker. Boy, do I wish this had been around back in the good ol’ days when I was creating my own curriculum.  I would have given my pinkie toenail for this tool when I was trying to find something, anything about why slugs curl up and melt when you put salt on them (yes, my guys wanted to do an entire unit study on the grossness of slugs)

 

  • library My favorite research resource – – if you guessed my local library, you’d be half right.  We do a lot of research at the library, but without leaving the house.  Most libraries subscribe to electronic libraries full of full text magazine articles, journal entries, and newspapers going back many, many years.  The only requirement for accessing and using these free resources is an internet connection, a library card and a password (available from your local branch).  Ours even has a subscription to digital resources as well, so we can often access audiobooks and ebooks for free, too.  And best of all…nobody shush-es us when we get too rowdy!

 

  • us My favorite curriculum supplement – –  United Streaming videos.  Over 7,000 educational videos on demand.  For visual learners, this is a resource that can’t be beat.  Want to know about germ warfare, riding in a hot air balloon, or how to multiply fractions, there is a video somewhere on this site about it.  So far the only time my video search has come up empty has been when I was trying to find out why Bono wears sunglasses indoors.  Otherwise, it’s all here.  For an even more in-depth combo of video/research, you might check out Cosmeo.  This site incorporates the United Streaming videos with reference materials for an all around homework helper.

 

  • cic My favorite educational television site – – Cable in the Classroom is a program that is aimed at making television more student-friendly.  Guess educators got tired of teaching kids about the world using old Mr. Rogers reruns, and decided to work to encourage cable programming stations to create quality educational programming.  The website includes highlights of upcoming programming, plus a searchable database for finding shows that match what you are currently studying. 

 

  • phrogram My favorite geek-infusion program – – Phrogram – – for lil’ geeks whose idea of learning a foreign language is Java, this is a terrific first-time programming program.  My son thrived on this preface to BASIC, and he has since moved on to other languages such as CSS, HTML, and C++. 

 

 

Keep in mind that these are just a few, a very few, of the many techie resources I have grown to love and use in our homeschool.  If you have some specific resource you have been trying to find, pop me a comment…maybe I’ll be able to track it down for you.  Well, it’s that time again.  The alarm clock has sounded, the dogs are stirring, and pretty soon it will be back to the ‘puters for a good hard day of learning.  If you don’t hear from me…just know that I am looking up how to fry eggs on top of the hood of the car in Wikipedia.  That is H-T’s “want to know” fact of day.  Hope there is also something in there about how to repair your paint job afterward.  Ah, the life of a homeschooler…

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My Spring Break To-Do List

It’s spring break for the Techies!!!  Two weeks of glorious, guilt-free techiness with little or no interruptions.  What shall I do?  What shall I do?  I know, I’ll be extra geeky and make a list……

  1.  Finish my computer recipe file.  You know those cute little boxes of recipes that get handed down from generation to generation?  Those are SO passe.  Now, you spend 800 hours typing your faves into your computer, filing them by category, cuisine, and ingredients.  Then you spend 400 more hours taking pictures of each of the recipes as you prepare them, then scanning them into the program for visual effect.  No more going to the little box and ruffling through it to find your needed recipe.  Nope, they are now right at the tip of your laptop…after you spend 5 minutes booting it up, then loading the program, then typing in the search terms.  Talk about a time saver! 
  2. Work on my digital scrapbook.  I “invested” in one of those digital scrapbook programs that lets you do all sorts of creative things with your pictures and memories.  I think I thought that if the project involved my mouse and flashing screen, it would be more motivating than big books of colored construction paper and various curvy cut scissors.  I may have been mistaken. It seems that pictures of us huddled over laptops at various seasons and holidays just doesn’t do much for the creative juices.  Maybe next year we could turn off our virtual fireworks display on the 4th, and go outside and see what’s happening in the sky?  Who knows?  There could be an inspiring Kodak moment there.
  3. Work on reunion emailsThis year is the dreaded 2-0.  Yep, you heard me.  20 years. I was graduating high school long before Hannah Montana was a zygote in the Disney incubator.  Before Michael Jackson had gone “Bad” and before Bono was a Nobel nominee.  So 20 years later, it is reunion time, and that means figuring out where all those crazy kids in the parachute pants ended up.  Hopefully, they all signed up at Classmates.com.  Otherwise, I’ve got my work cut out for me.
  4. 3D Landscape my flower gardenNothing says spring like digitally designing your petunia layout with your new gardening software.  Where else can you read about common pests, research new garden tools, read profiles of each of your perennials, and watch animated videos of your dream garden – – all in the same place!  This program has everything a green thumb could want: a garden care calendar, the ability to “see” your garden from every angle and in every season, and even a botanical game.  Wait, a botanical game?  I didn’t know that was in here.  How cool!  Name seven perennials native to the Southwest?  Oh, I can SO beat this level………….

Maybe I was getting a little too ambitious there. I mean there will always be summer break, right?  After all, most people spend spring break doing shots off people’s belly buttons, right?  So perhaps I was overshooting a bit.  Spring break is for fun, for frolicking, for becoming a Level 3 Master Gardener….Two main functions of leaves?  Are they kidding me?  I am going to OWN this game…

p.s.  While I earn my medal in microflora, I would sure love to hear from all of you…what are your plans for spring break?