Teacher Resources: Phone and Tablet Apps

UnknownWhere do you begin to look for good apps among the plethora of apps that are available? I have found a few sights that have apps from preschool all the way to high school. Best Apps for Kids has a review for each app and offers educational apps as well as ones to entertain. Family Education also has a list of educational apps, many that are free. Best Apps for Kids even have a Free App Friday! Speaking of free apps, here are a few to check out:

  • Kids ABC Letters Lite Preschoolers will enjoy this jigsaw puzzle approach to letters. The light version only has letters A to H, but you can download the complete version if you like it.
  • Play 123 This won a 2013 Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review and teaches preschoolers their colors, numbers, and shapes.
  • Fun Brain Jr. Looks like so much fun as it teaches number sense, alphabetical order, and pattern sets.
  • Stack the States This app teaches and reinforces the location of the United States with a fun colorful game.
  • Word Ball The Electric Company from PBS has a game that teaches spelling for children ages 6 to 8.
  • Brain POP Movie This extremely popular app has a new educational movie to watch each day. Kids view a short documentary and there is a quiz afterwards and each movie can be archived to watch later.  It received a 5 star rating from Common Sense Media.

Enjoy your day and I hope you find an app that will benefit your student’s education. If you have found some apps that you like, please share. :)




Homeschool Convention Tips

Homeschool Conventions are so much fun and are energizing! They are also just around the corner and it is wise to be prepared before you go. I have found some things to make convention experiences worthwhile and enjoyable.

UnknownTried- and -True Tips to Consider 

Be sure and pre-register This can save you money on the admission price.

Do Your Research before you go! Planning, even if just a little, can help with your convention experience. It will help you concentrate on what you need or want to look at and will make your time at the convention a fun event.

Speakers: Read ahead of time their bios, find out when they are speaking, and what topic they will be addressing.  If you have friends who have been to the convention before, ask them who they thought were beneficial. Arrive early since rooms can fill up quickly. If you are taking an infant with you, sit toward the back and at the end in case you have to duck out. Surprisingly (or not), those seats fill up the fastest.

Curriculum: Read reviews of curriculum to find out what you’d like to look at when you attend. Create a list of must-have curriculum and books and a list of would-be-nice-to-have books. Write these items in a notebook and give each one a few lines so you can write comparison prices. Don’t forget art and writing supplies! Estimate how much you can afford to spend.

Vendor Hall: The curriculum hall at the conventions are monstrously HUGE! Take some time to look at the map and note any vendors that are of particular interest to you. If you highlight or circle the booths you don’t want to miss that will help you when you go inside. Stay focused and concentrate on what you need first. After you have purchased your materials you will be able to browse without feeling pressured or frantic. You can feel free to supplement your foundational curriculum with other items at this point. (If you have any money left!)

Don’t become overwhelmed. Avoid the urge to buy the first thing you see. Use the notebook with the list you complied of items you are wanting to purchase. Compare the prices of  vendors of the curriculum. Be sure to note the name of the booth and their location in the vendor hall. For instance: Math U See, Aisle A, next to Rainbow Resource, near the end on the right. I need a landmark, maybe you don’t.

Stick to your estimated budget! I know it is tempting to buy, buy, buy! Only purchase those items you know you will use. If you go home and find that you really needed that skid of construction paper, order it online! It would have been difficult to fit it in your vehicle any way.

Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. You are going to be doing a lot of standing and sitting so wear what looks nice and provides maximum comfort.

Pack bottles of water and  healthy snacks. Food and drinks can be expensive and food lines can be long. You want to keep up your energy and brain power for the vendor hall and lectures! You also might not have much time in between lectures and you want to make use of the time you have.

Have some cash on hand. You will need money for parking and some vendors (Dave Ramsey) won’t take credit cards, although his booth does allow you to write a check or a debit card.

Take a rolling cart, suitcase, or a backpack that you can unload if it gets heavy. The car is probably parked a distance that you are only going to be able to make one or two trips maximum to the car, so be sure and take something that you know can handle the load. It is also going to be crowded so keep that in mind as you think about maneuverability of you and your burden carrier. :)

Consider asking your husband to attend. Dale accompanied me a few times and I appreciated his input about curriculum choices and viewpoint of the speakers we heard. If he can’t go, ask a homeschool friend to accompany you. Make it a fun time to be out and get rejuvenated.

Purchase the CD’s Couldn’t make it to hear all the amazing speakers? Why not buy the CD’s and ask a few friends to share the cost with you? This way you can listen to them whenever you like. If you think they would benefit more homeschool families, perhaps you can ask your local support group to purchase them for your lending library.

The Midwest Homeschool Convention is April 24-26, 2014 and held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here is a schedule if you are interested in attending. SCHEDULE 

Most importantly, have a great time!


Homeschool Convention Planning Sheet  Here is a planning sheet for you. It is two sheets with all subjects listed on it.  Print off as many as you like for your family. The picture is in black and white, but the document is in color. It is editable so you can type inside the boxes. :)


Teacher Resource Favorites

Italy lapbook coverI like looking for new resources that enhance my teaching. There are a few websites that I have as a “go to” when looking for ideas, so over the next few weeks I will share with you some of my finds. Today I am featuring lapbooks.

Unit Studies/Lapbooking

Home School Share is one of my favorites because the authors of these lapbooks have background information, ideas, and activities to accompany each of the lapbooks. There are several levels, beginning with preschool all the way through independent learners. There is a book that goes along with the lapbook, but if I can’t find the book at the library I have either substituted the book or not used one at all. Lapbooks are versatile and multi-grade leveled, which is perfect when teaching children of various ages and academic levels. I have used them with young students who cannot read yet all the way up to junior high students. If you are teaching several students, you can adjust the level at which you have them write the information and cut out the mini books. You will probably want to cut them out for your younger students and be their scribe. This lapbook was made by a 7th grader so you can judge accordingly to what you think your student is capable of completing. If it looks like too much, then use fewer mini books.

Italy lapbook inside

The above picture is the inside of the lapbook about Italy. Each of these pieces of paper has information the student has written inside of the mini book. This teaches summarizing and research, plus it’s a great way to have students write a report without all the fuss from them on the length of the paper. :)

Italy lapbook back

This is the back cover that has vocabulary words the students had to find. The following website is helpful to translate; give the definition of the word if you need it ; and the audio pronunciation of the word. Click here

Another nice aspect of this particular website is that it is FREE! The only cost will be ink and paper you need to print the sheets and a file folder that acts as your lapbook. You can download as many or as few of the templates as you like. I have written about lapbooks before and have other websites to explore. Check out these too:

Play Ball! (translated: Go Outside and Exercise!)

1195445636200577762johnny_automatic_playing_ball.svg.medToday is Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds and is a big deal to the city. There is a parade, former players come back to see the game and be involved in festivities, and some parents take their kids out of school to attend the game and be a part of the fun.  Opening day always signals the beginning of Spring to me. We are finally seeing glimpses of that season and I am happy to see the temperatures are going to be in the 60′s after seeing cold temperatures and snow for many, many months.

How about celebrating Spring by going outside and playing some ball? Maybe you don’t have enough children for a baseball team, but all sorts of other games can be played involving balls.

Ball Games to Play

Volleyball This may be difficult to play unless you invite some friends over and you have a volleyball net, but you can play a variation of the game. Draw a line on the sidewalk and see how many times the ball can be hit in the air from one side to the other without it falling to the ground. A point is scored when the opponent cannot return the ball or steps over the line, or the ball goes out-of-bounds.

Catch Just toss a ball back and forth. You only need two people to play this game, which is great if you have an only child.  Have your child count how many times s/he is able to catch it. An added bonus is that you can include math in there too!

Pickle A variation of catch, but is played with three people. One person is in the middle and tries to intercept the ball as it is being tossed back and forth by the other two players. You can keep score by seeing ho many times each person intercepts the ball if you want.

Two Square You can use the sidewalk as a dividing line or you can draw your own square on the driveway. The idea is to stand parallel to the line and drop a large rubber ball on the ground and then hit it to your opponent. If the other person doesn’t hit it on the first bounce, you get a point. The first one to 10 (or what number you decide), wins. Did you know you can even purchase a ball that is perfect for that activity? It is called a playground ball.

Four Square This is a variation of Two Square and you can bounce the ball is any of the other squares. This makes the game a bit livelier, since you have to keep alert. You can do “dropsies” where you get low to the ground and drop the ball in the opponent’s square.  You can also bounce it really high, trying to bounce the ball in the other person’s square and not giving them an opportunity to hit it before it goes out-of-bounds. Your opponent cannot catch the ball, but must hit it with their hand. Make up your own variations and moves with the game. Maybe the players have to hit it with their elbows instead of their hands.

Tennis If you don’t have a tennis court nearby, play driveway tennis.

Relay Races Why not use a baseball or a tennis ball and have the children balance the ball on the top of their shoe? The first player who completes an up and back lap wins. You can also have the players bounce a ball up and back, the winner is the one who crosses the line first.

Dodge Ball This is not one of my favorites because it seems like someone usually gets hurt, but if you monitor how hard the ball can be thrown, the kids love playing. Decide on boundaries before beginning as anyone who steps/runs out of the boundary sit sour until the game is finished. One person is the thrower and the other players attempt to dodge the ball until there is only one player left. The player who is left is the person who gets to throw the ball the next time.

Kickball This is played just like baseball, but you play with a larger ball and kick it instead of hitting the ball. This can be modified if you do not have many people to play.

Get out there and enjoy the weather! You will not only have fun, but the children are having physical education and you can burn off some extra calories too if you join in the fun!



The Early Bird Catches a Co-op

bird_wormI was reviewing some information I had posted in July about homeschool co-ops and thought I’d send a note about when to inquire about them. NOW is the best time to do that as many co-ops are registering families before the school year ends. I have listed some reasons for and against participating in a co-op since it is important to consider what you are committing your family to participate in for the year.

3 Reasons to Join a Co-op:

  • Co-ops can enrich your academic program. Many co-ops have science labs, art, music, and physical education programs available to students. You may not have the equipment at your home or it can be difficult to do these activities by yourselves.
  • Co-ops provide social interaction opportunities for your child(ren) and you. It is not only important for your child to meet other children, but it is just as important for you to meet with other fellow homeschoolers. You just might meet your best friend at a co-op. :)
  • Co-ops support and encourage you. There were quite a few times that I needed some suggestions or a person to discuss matters with in regards to homeschooling. It’s nice to have other women who are on the same journey as you.

3 Reasons to Not Join a Co-op:

  • It is time consuming. You will be away from home for at least half of your school day. Look at your  school calendar and see how you will complete your academic subjects if you join a co-op. You will need to make accommodations to accomplish this, whether it is for your children to do schoolwork before you leave for co-op, or do it when you return home, or do it over the weekend. My boys were early risers so we did a math lesson beforehand.
  • It is a commitment. Once you make the decision to be involved in a co-op you are agreeing to be there for the entire duration of that session. Some co-ops have semester-long classes and some have year-long classes, so be sure and see what that entails before signing up for classes.
  • You will be required to help. A co-op is different than a drop-off program in that you will need to volunteer to help in some way. You may need to teach a class or be a classroom aide, so be sure to check and see what is expected of you.

If you are interested in finding out about co-ops here in the greater Cincinnati area, click HERE for a list of local co-ops. I hope you find a group that works for your family.

If, by chance, you don’t get into a co-op you could organize a small group of your own, but that’s a topic for another day…