Wierd Science is Fun! Free Videos and Experiments.

January 23, 2009


Looking for fun science experiments?

Check out Weird Science, a website that offers a nice list of science experiments you can try at home, along with videos you can watch before you try the experiment yourself.  The videos are great, too, if you just want to avoid another messy science kitchen day.  Now if I could just find a science experiment that magically cleaned the kitchen table, counter, and sink full of dirty dishes 🙂

Have you found a fun science site for homeschooling?  You’re welcome to post a link in the comment section to share with us!

Posted under Science Curriculum, Science Websites

Save your money on expensive Handwriting Paper.

January 21, 2009


I admit, among the awesome curriculum and school material gathering dust on my storage shelves in the basement are a couple reams of handwriting paper – in all the various sizes for progressive ages of students.

Why is it gathering dust and turning that nice shade of yellow that old paper turns? Because it’s easier to use online tools and print exactly what I want.

Here is my favorite writing website called Handwriting Worksheets.  What’s great about this site, is you can type in any copy work you’d like, poetry, scripture verses, famous quotes, or names, and print a sheet with the text dotted on the first line, and then the following lines will print typical handwriting lines (top and bottom solid, center dotted) with a nice little dot to show where to start each letter.

Even better, you can choose between basic print, D’Nealian style, cursive, and large and medium styles.

Also, if you have a pre-writing child who needs help, check out this great blog review by Jolanthe of a program called Peterson Directed Handwriting.

Posted under Language Art Websites, Writing Curriculum

Timez Attack Review! The best and FREE multiplication game ever!

January 19, 2009

Timez Attack

We found an awesome game called Timez Attack that does wonders for practicing the 2 through 12 multiplication facts.  Here’s a review of the pros, cons, and our own family’s experiences.  (my kids loved the free version of Timez Attack enough to fork over their own money for the upgrade.)

There aren’t many things more boring than doing times table flash cards over and over.  The designers of Timez Attack wanted to make math practice more fun, so they designed a real video game with a great environment, graphics, and monsters you defeat by knowing your multiplication facts.

And as their service to kids everywhere, the full functioning base version of the game can be downloaded for free.  If you want to upgrade to the full version, you get extra graphics and worlds to practice your facts.

Free Version Pros and Cons:

  • Pro:  It’s FREE!
  • Pro:  The math is complete = ALL the math facts from 2 to 12.
  • ProShows the concept of multiplication lots of different ways:  a matching number of creatures appear when the fact is presented, a matching number of dice-like dots appear on the door, and the multiplicands appear on the belly of the monster.
  • Pro:  There is ‘exciting’ time pressure to get the answer right.  The monster will ‘bonk’ you if you take too long.
  • Pro:  Children learn where the number keys are on the keyboard, and how to use them quickly.
  • Con:  You only have access to the dungeon level, so each time you complete a set of math facts, you start over in the same dungeon with the same monsters behind the same doors.  It can get a bit boring.

Paid Version Pros and Cons:

  • Pro:  All the great benefits of the free version.
  • Pro:  Two additional levels with MANY more graphics and interactions for the kiddoes while they are practicing.
  • Pro:  The game play is more ‘video-game’ like, ie. lava to dodge and rivers of fire to cross on the dragon level, moving platforms and crawling spiders to catch on the robot level, etc.
  • Cons:  It’s not free – the full version costs $39.99 – (However, this is similar to costs for a Wii, Playstation, or XBox Game)

Our family’s experiences:

  • Kids loved it:  My 9-, 7-, and 5-year-olds all loved the free version and got the rest of their school done so they could play “that cool math game.”
  • Played with friends: My 7-year-old daughter had two friends over to play and dragged them over to play Timez Attack.  The three girls played for half an hour, cheering each other on and racing to yell out the answers in time.  The same girls asked could they please play Timez Attack the next time they came over.
  • Spent their own money: After a month of the free version my children began begging asking politely for the paid version.  I refused, for a while (after all, the math is the same), but then made them a deal.  Any child who put $5 of their own money towards the upgrade could play it, and I would pay the rest.  All three of the older kids gave me $5 from their own savings.
  • Times tables before addition: My 5-year-old completed the 12th level and is probably one of the few in the world who knows his multiplications facts to 12 . . . but not his addition.  🙂
  • Just the facts: The only downside is the lack of real world application or word problem type practice, but I figure that comes in the regular math curriculum.  This game is to make the repetitive practice of the times table fun and addictive until you know them backwards and forwards.  Timez Attack does that better than any game or flashcard system we’ve tried yet.

Having my kids ask to practice math . . . it’s as gratifying as having your kids ask for seconds of broccoli 🙂

For other multiplication ideas, see these posts:

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Learn the Multiplication Times Tables Fast and Easy!

January 13, 2009

Lately for math time, my three oldest kids, 9, 7, and 5-years-old, sit around listening to stories like:

“A huge tree (three) decided it wanted to skate (eight). At the skating rink, he was having a grand ol’ time when the owner said he had to leave because he was so big and heavy he was leaving dents in the floor (denty floor = twenty four)”

We’ve finished the whole times table in 6 days or so, spending 10 – 20 minutes a day. Now we review the tables once or twice a week to help them get faster at with the facts.

What a fun way to learn math – listening and remembering silly stories. And unlike repeated boring numbers over and over, you’re a lot more likely to remember the denty floor and the big tree in skates.

Here’s the book: Memorize in Minutes : The Times Tables

And the teacher who wrote this book has a website, www.Multiplication.com with tons of great math ideas, games, and more. If you have a student struggling with multiplication, definitely give him a visit.

And to address the skeptics:

Two main objections to this method:

  1. It doesn’t teach math concepts or what multiplication actually means. You’re right. I teach that separately. This method is strictly an effective way to memorize a fact I want to know without having to calculate it.
  2. It takes too long – you have to translate numbers into ‘tree’ and ‘skate’, then remember the story, then translate ‘denty floor’ back into 24. Yes, it take a bit longer to start with, but your mind quickly learns and will eventually skip the whole story part and you’ll find the answer immediately jumps to mind. The more silly the story the easier you remember the facts with much less repetition. It’s fun, easy, and much faster.

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Ever wish you could run the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska?

January 3, 2009

A fellow homeschool friend Beth, pointed me to this great site:  The Iditarod Project.

It is aimed at helping students ‘virtually’ join in the famous Iditarod dog sled race held every year in Alaska.  If you don’t know much about the Iditarod, check out the official Iditarod website.  It is an amazing race over 1150 miles long across the rugged Alaskan wilderness that takes around two weeks of grueling endurance to complete.  It’s history goes back to the routes the dog sleds took to bring supplies in from to coast to the mining towns in the interior.  There are even heroic stories of dog sled teams bringing medicines along these routes in time to save many lives.

All you need to participate in The Iditarod Project is be a public, private, or home school and join by January 9th.  The project includes the following activities:

  • study the trail and musher biographies
  • create a wall-sized map of the trail
  • select a musher to follow in this year’s race
  • track the selected musher’s progress as the race occurs
  • post to each checkpoint’s blog as the selected musher reaches each stop on the trail
  • complete the problem solving tasks you find at each checkpoint’s blog
  • arrive in Nome vicariously with your selected musher
  • receive an official 2008 eIditarod class certificate for completion of the trail!

We’ll be joining for the first time this year – let us know what team you choose!

Posted under Geography Websites, Social Studies Websites

Enjoy Christmas and Homeschooling!

December 23, 2008

I hope you’re relaxing, reading holiday stories to the kids, maybe a few scriptures, making a batch or two of fudge and cookies, giving gifts, finding ways as a family to serve others, and all the other great holiday activities we remember best from childhood.

And try not to do too much of the snarling about the 14th pair of scissors you can’t find, the 3rd empty tape dispenser when you’re in the middle of wrapping, the very full cup of sugar your baking ‘helper’ let slip out of his hands, the snowy roads, the crowded stores, the tight budget, etc. 

Sometimes it’s nice to just take a deep breath and remind ourselves that it isn’t just the kids that need to remember the true meaning of the holidays.  Remember to smile and celebrate – after all, there are only TWO days until Christmas!

And if you’re looking for a fun Christmas activity, since homeschooling IS life, check out this great list of Christmas resources collected by:


Free homeschool resources

She’s a homeschool mom that has compiled a great set of resources to share with fellow parents.

Have a great Holiday!!

Posted under Homeschool Websites

LessonSense.com – Christmas Worksheets, Printables, Crafts and More!

December 18, 2008

LessonSense.com - free worksheets, crafts and printables

Check out another great internet resource full of craft projects, worksheets, and lots of printables: LessonSense.com.

If you’re looking for some Christmas craft ideas and printables, see their Christmas craft page for projects to make Christmas trees, stars, and even a cute stable with Mary and Joseph. 

Or check out their Christmas worksheet page which has the following:

Share With Us:

Have you incorporated holiday lessons into your homeschool? (Whichever holidays you celebrate)  Do you have any tips or ideas that might help the rest of us.  Please share by making a comment!

Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Social Studies Websites

Free Math Videos Done By Teachers – MathVids.com

December 1, 2008


Looking for some help with upper level math?  Math Vids is a new website, launched in March, that is connecting math teachers and students via online video math lessons.  As the website is getting up to speed collecting video math lessons, they are offering a free membership along with their paid subscription service.  So, if you have a middle school up through college math student, sign up right away while the free membership is still available. 

How it works: 

  • Math teachers (like you) make and contribute videos. 
  • Math Vids staff review the videos for appropriateness and accuracy after which the video is posted.  Student rate the videos and the best ones move to the top of the list. 
  • Since there are multiple videos on the same topic, so you get a variety of teaching styles, which makes it more likely one will fit you.

Are you a good math teacher yourself?  MathVids also offers an opportunity to earn free stuff, like a graphing calculator, if you can make high quality math tutoring videos that are consistently highly rated by the students.  It’s your chance to contribute and get a few prizes as well.

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

KinderArt and More Thanksgiving Fun!

November 27, 2008

Check out Kinder Art, which has one of the largest collections of FREE art lessons on the internet!  This mother-daughter team love art and have spent the last 10 years developing this awesome resource to share with all of us. 

The site has art lessons, crafts, teaching kits, printables, preschool art, holiday activities, and much more. For a sample, check out this whole page of fun Thanksgiving Art Activities:

Here are a few of them:

Other great pages on the site:

  • Kinder Littles – a whole section devoted to early childhood art education.
  • Drawing – Do you know someone who thinks he or she can’t draw?  Start here and enjoy!
  • Printables – Find lots of coloring pages and printable activities here.

Enjoy exploring Kinder Art’s website.  I sure have.

Posted under Art Websites

Thanksgiving Activities and a Great, ‘Almost Free’ Website!

November 26, 2008

Looking for some fun Thanksgiving Day activities?  Check out Enchanted Learning.  The site has over 20,000 pages full of printable worksheets, crafts, books, and activities on almost every topic imaginable.  I’ve enjoyed using it for years whenever I need a hand-on activity to go with what we’re currently learning. 

The only downside:  it has changed some of it’s content to membership only.  Many of the printables are free, but some are not.  If you end up using the site extensively, it may be worth it to you to pay the small $20/yr membership cost, which gives you access to printable versions of every page along with an ‘ad-free’ site.


Do you have a favorite site for printables of worksheets, crafts, and activities?  Share it with us in the comment section.  Thanks!

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Posted under Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Websites