Less Screen Time

So I have in my head this great weekly wrap up on the rocks and minerals unit study we are doing right now. (Sorry, you’ll have to check back next week! ūüėČ But instead I spent much more time doing this…

and this…

and much less time on my computer.

Life is good!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

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Free French and Spanish Lessons for Kids Online!!!

We have been having a bit of a spring break this week. Kids rooms got switched around. Gardening finally got started. New vans were registered. Errands were squeezed in between. There was little time left for any formal schooling so unschooling it was. More often then I can count the kids were immersed in some sort of self-learning…math, reading, writing, art. But the highlight of our week this week was finding these ultra fun free foreign language sites for kids. I noticed Lily browsing through our French Picture Dictionary and writing the french names of animals on a seperate piece of note paper.

I was secretly thrilled inside because I took French in highschool and fell in love with the romantic language.  Granted, I remember very little of it now but I was hoping maybe to relearn alongside a little one as they have an interest.  We mainly work with Spanish around here as that is what is most practical.

So I wondered as she was asking about the pronunciation of animals if there was a place online where kids could learn and play and hear the language. And…thanks to google…we found 2 very cool French sites and 3 very cool Spanish sites. Wanted to share them here today for any other homeschool moms who also are looking for language resources that don’t cost an arm and a leg!!!

Free French Lessons for Kids

  • Learn French Online ~ Great site for kids with drop down menus that allow the kids to easily navigate. Allows them lots of practice to hear the sound and then practice using the words in interactive games. I even love the alphabet page.
  • Cartoonita ~ Videos here geared towards early elementary students that teach basic language concepts. Will remind you of a PBS style French site.

Free Spanish Lessons for Kids

  • Learn Spanish Online ~ Same site as above but the Spanish version with all the same great perks.
  • Noah Comprende ~ A PBS kids site with short video cartoons and interactive games. About a little boy named Noah who visits relatives in Mexico and does not speak the native Spanish. He is constantly getting into a pickle based on his ignorance of the language. Does a GREAT job at engaging the kids. Even my three year old loved this site.
  • Spanish Town ~ More like an interactive kids Spanish Dictionary online.
So, what else have we been doing with our school week?

*You can find all these resources and more at the top under the Free Homeschool Resources tab!!!



ARKive Videos…the new way to view nature

We were sent this amazing link through our homeschooling group.

ARKive

What is it you say? It is an archive of thousands of videos of animals in thier natural habitat. Get it ARKive!  Not only do you get the video, you get all the classification and habitat information right to the side of your screen. Amazing.

It is more captiviating then National Geographic because there is no narrator to get in the way of the experience. Just the animal in its natural habitat doing whatever it does.

I can see this being an ever useful daily tool. We just read Owl Babies (one of my all time favorite children’s picture books) then went to ARKive and typed Owl in the search engine and watched real baby owls.

“They look just like the picture, mom!” I heard as little ones sat captivated to the screen.

ARKive video - Long-eared owl feeding chicks at nest

I see whole new applications going on as we read through The Burgess Animal Book for Children!

Here’s another fascinating one we watched…a beaver felling a tree. Who doesn’t want to watch that? REALITY TV in its truest state!

ARKive video - American beaver felling trees and storing food for the winter

Added to my Free Homeschool Resources list under Nature Study!

Nikon D3100 Review and Picture Samples

As some of you may know, my trusty olympus point and shoot finally gave out. And I was having photo withdrawals as I waited patiently for tax refund money to come in to buy a new one. I’ve always dreamed of owning an SLR ever since I was a little girl. Well, my darling husband decided to use Valentine’s Day as a way to surprise me and took me out to buy the camera of my dreams. Since we still couldn’t afford the Nikon D90, I went with the next best thing…the Nikon D3100. A solid camera that will last me for years to come.

Last week we did very little schooling (mainly due to holidays, playdates with new people, an unexpected mold problem and house cleanup duty) so I had a little time to play. I watched some wonderful tutorials at Fro Knows Photos and will be back to watch some more. In the meantime, I’ve mostly been shooting in auto mode with the flash off to just get a feel for the camera.

Pretty basic to use so far. Only a little trouble with focusing (has 11 focus points that randomly redistribute where I thought I had focused…still need to figure out how to control those) but the picture quality and color clarity is out of this world and I have had lots of fun creating that bokeh I’ve always wanted to achieve (don’t I sound smart?). Here are a few of my samples from playing!

~ Portraits ~

 

~ New Life ~

~ Depth of Field Practice ~

F00d ~ Nature ~ Stills

~ Playing With Light Composition  ~

 

~ Night Lights ~

The Learning Room ~ Musical Schooling

Weeks Febraury  14 Р25

We’ve been musical schooling this week. A term I made up to go along with our car schooling! It’s been a light two weeks on my end, with planning anyway. We had the heart holiday off and two playdates and beautiful spring weather and my new camera to play with. So I’ve taken the “sometimes lame is better then best” approach the past two weeks by jotting down on recycled scrap paper 3-4 things I knew the kids could get done independently during school time that they needed to work on, mainly math and language arts. I didn’t worry about the plan being perfect or complete or even that it got written down in a notebook or at a certain time. I just made sure they had 2 hours of school work they could work on and I took 2 minutes or less before bed to jot it down on old paper for the next day. What did I do during the two weeks?

Week number one: clean mold. Yep, unfortunate but true. Who knew that doing 3+ loads of laundry a day and 3+ loads of dishwasher a day creates extra humidity which, if mixed with the cold temps outside, makes the perfect breeding ground for mold?

Week number two: dealing with colds and washing mud. Everyone here got change-of-the-weather colds from dramatic 65 degree weather down to 3 inches of snow again. And due to the front of the week spring weather, I had a mountain of clothes that were so caked with mud they needed to be rinsed in the tub before even hitting a prerinse. Then another prerinse, a soak overnight, a morning wash, treating stains and one more wash, a final rinse. Most everything came out clean so that’s good.

Back to the musical schooling

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we discovered an amazing new site called Rhythm Rhyme Results. It is a group of people who are trying to reach out to kids in a new and innovative way. We stumbled on them by mistake through you tube and my kids fell in love with the hip hop educational songs. Gabe was so enamoured of the 44 Presidents Rap that he decided that he will add being a president to what he wants to do when he grows up. I was amazed at the quality of the songs. The educational information packed into each one was incredible and it is not kid-watered-down songs but songs that resonate with truth and justice and higher thinking. It is not catchy little jingles to Barney-like music but true artistic, poetic hip-hop. And since there is no Lady Gaga music playing in our car (we are K-Love fans), it is a rare treat for my kids to partake in this style of music that naturally appeals to their sense of rhythm and love of dancing.

So, naturally, I had to download their music. I went to Amazon and downloaded all the songs I could. We called it homeschooling educational budget spending. And I, being that 80’s girl who loved making tapes of just the perfect mix of songs, mixed us up some CD’s. We mixed them in with some other fun educational CD’s we have from Have Fun Teaching CD’s and They Might Be Giants Science CD and a few free Animaniacs mp3’s and came up with a Grammar Songs mix, a Geography mix, a Science mix, and a History mix. I was so excited that I put it into practice immediately. We had to drive to Pop’s house for his birthday dinner and we listened to the Grammar songs on the way up and the History songs on the way back. Perfect car schooling. They were so good, in fact, that I will be listening to them on the way up to my mom’s Homeschooling Retreat tomorrow even though no kids will be in the car with me. Does that make me a nerd? I’m so making a copy for my sister to use with her preschooler class!

The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules. Anyway… I’ve started to make a tape… in my head… for Laura. Full of stuff she likes. Full of stuff that make her happy. For the first time I can sort of see how that is done. ¬†~ Rob Gordon in the movie High Fidelity

Linking with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

Organizing Technology

I am contemplating the New Year and how to best go about what the Lord has asked of me…mainly to use what I have.

And what I have is a lot!

So many pdf files saved from wonderful homeschooling mothers who share their visions and hard work openly wanting to knit community. For these women I am thankful!

I took last year to organize the files by creating folders and subfolders within folders based on subject. This worked well for maintaining a database of information on my computer and made it relatively easy to keep up with as I added new things throughout the year. I kept up the orginization and am still going strong.

Only problem…I forget what I have at my disposal. And there is a lot of good at my disposal! Some I can use now. Some I will use later. My quandry is in the forgetting. I forget the treasure trove I have and therefore don’t utilize the printouts.

While reading this post over at Amongst Lovely Things I thought to myself, I need some sort of system like this. It looks beautiful and I am all about mixing beauty with function But after my post¬†the other day¬†about crashing computers and bookmarks I started thinking more expansive. What if I did a whole system like this, not just Christmas?¬† Would I print out a full binder of printouts (maybe one binder per subject) with a table of contents in the front? Or would I make one binder with a sort of master list of all that I have saved on the computer? Would I convert my ever-failing file crate system (sorry, Dawn, just can’t seem to make it work for me!) into folders with master printouts? Or would all the printouts be missing the whole point of having them neatly saved and organized on computer?

My very unorganized desk/filing system. Can you see the two file crates artfully hidden under the miscellaneous mail, bills, and school papers?

What do you think, dear readers? Any other homeschooling moms dealing with this issue? How do you keep track of all those freebie goodies in cyber world and translate that over to your homeschooling orginization/utilization? Maybe I need the forum for this one! “Sigh”