Free High School Math and everything else you ever wanted to learn

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January 19, 2011

I was looking online for some ideas to teach Algebra.  I stumbled on these great videos all done by a man named Salman Kahn.  In each video, he picks one concept and then walks the viewer through it step-by-step.

It turns out that Salman Kahn had a younger cousin who needed a bit of long distance math tutoring.  From that small start, he has created the Khan Academy with thousands of YouTube videos explaining math concepts plus a myriad of other topics in short 10 – 20 minute chunks.

Read the inspirational story of Salman Kahn (under the FAQ tab), the man behind all the educational videos.  His ambition is to provide a world-class university level education to the world for free.   Khan Academy provides lectures similar to online universities from some of the best colleges out there.  His work is really a great contribution of knowledge to everyone in the world.

On his home page, he has over 70 video explaining the Algebra I concepts in an organized list.  Directly below it are another 180 videos working Algebra I problems with step-by-step explanations.

It’s an entire video Algebra I curriculum, entirely free!  If you explore the tabs and rest of the page, you’ll find videos on tons of other topics as well.

After my son finishes his Math 7 curriculum in the next month or so, he’s planning on working his way through the Algebra I videos.  We’ll post an update about how it goes.

Has anyone else used the Kahn Academy videos?  How did they work for you and which ones did you like the best?

Enjoy!

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Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

My 5-year-old wrote his first computer program with Scratch

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January 12, 2011

My husband found this amazing program, Scratch, that lets kids write their own computer programs without knowing a single word of programming language.  Best of all, it’s created by the MIT Media Lab with lots of funding to make it completely free!

This little program may not look like much, but the cool part is:  My 5-year-old wrote it!  He calls it “fat the cat”.

The cat starts spinning and gets bigger and bigger, thus the ‘fat’ part.

He wrote it using these innovative programming ‘blocks’ used in Scratch.  Here’s an example of a piece of his code:

You use the blocks to animate your ‘sprites’ (images), give them sounds, change their colors, and lots more.  Then, you can put a ‘forever’ block around the whole thing and have the action keep repeating.

There is no complicated code to learn, and kids aren’t frustrated by typing the wrong punctuation or variable by accident.

My 11-year-old son wrote and posted his favorite program:  Stick Gun Wars.

I know.  Four boys and I’m still trying to encourage their less violent ideas.

He loves the big Scratch online community where he is able to learn from programs other kids have posted.  He browses through the Scratch creations online and when he finds one he likes, he looks at the code to see how it was programmed.  And when he finally finishes one he is proud of, he can post it for others to see.

It’s saying something that the first week my kids had this program, all four of the older ones spent every spare moment programming, and still love to poke around on it months later.

Here are some links to get you started:

If you have any other good programming tools for kids, we’d love to hear about them!

Enjoy!

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Posted under Homeschool Software

My Best Toddler-Busy Idea After Having Five Kids

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January 5, 2011

I’ve finally found a simple way to keep my rambunctious toddler busy . . . and no, it’s not a new TV show or the computer (Yes, he is already a pro with the computer and loves Starfall and his Dora computer game.)

In fact, this works so well, I wonder why I didn’t figure it out with the first four kids.

Do you sometimes feel like you’ll have perfected your parenting skills about the time your last kid turns 18?  I guess my older kids should just consider themselves experimental parenting subjects.  🙂

Here’s a picture of my brilliant idea:  Toddler Boxes

I know it’s hard to see what’s in the boxes.  Here’s a better picture:

So, I went to the store and bought a handful of clear plastic boxes.  I looked for a size that was large and shallow.

Then I scrounged through my school and toy cupboards for ‘sets’ to put in the boxes.  Here what I looked for:

  • Not too many pieces.  There need to be few enough pieces that they can be dumped out and cleaned up without any help.
  • A mix of ‘learning’ with ‘toy’ sets, though there is a lot of overlap at this age.
  • New, new, new!  Rotate!  Every Sunday, we put everything away and the older kids help me find new things to put in the boxes.

What I like about them:

  • Jacob is learning to clean up with the rule of “Only one box out at a time.”  . . .Wait . . .  I have to say that again.  Jacob is learning to clean up!
  • He can entertain himself while I’m helping other kids!  (That could also be repeated)
  • He gets to use our nice learning sets that have been protected in a locked cupboard, or forgotten toys.  In the past, Jacob would get into the cupboard and just empty shelf after shelf before we noticed, creating a huge mess.
  • The older kids are attracted to the newly available sets and play with him.   I love seeing my kids working and playing together.

Ideas for toddler boxes:

1.  Playdough (recipe) – add some plastic utensils, cookie cutter, and a wooden dowel for a rolling pin.

If you hear strange sounds in the other room:  a rapid tapping noise followed by a soft humming, check to make sure your toddler isn’t putting dried playdough in the fan because it’s so fun to watch it splatter across the room. 🙁

2.  Play food like this wooden set my Melissa & Doug (happens to be over half off today for $8.50 – Borders also carries Melissa & Doug and often has single-item email coupons)

Don’t you love seeing your older kids enjoying time with the littlest?

3.  Pattern making sets.  For a frugal version, find any toy with multiples of similar items (army men, beads, matchbox cars), and make your own cards by drawing simple patterns on index cards for your toddler to copy.

4. All kinds of sorting sets!

I had no idea how much he would love to sort.  These sparkly puff balls were in the craft section of Walmart for a couple dollars.  The metal cups are condiment cups from Sams Club.  The first day he had this set he must have sorted, dumped, and remixed them 8 or 9 times.

5. Puzzles

6. Simple Games like Go Fish and Memory

We sure loved having Grandma visit this last week.

7. Stacking or Building sets

He’s really enjoyed this alphabet tower we got on an Amazon ‘under $10’ sale.  He also enjoys the garage sale Jenga set we found and anything else that can be stacked high and knocked down.

I hope that gives you some good ideas for your toddlers.  If you’ve used this type of method, I’d love to hear about any favorite sets your toddler enjoys.  Switching them out every week means we’re always looking for good ideas.

Enjoy!

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Posted under Toddler Tips

Online Resources to Help Kids Explore Future Careers

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January 1, 2011

(A big thanks for this Guest Post by Brian Jenkins, with some great websites for exploring future career choices – Enjoy!)

Photo by nkzs

Useful Online Resources to Get Your Kids Excited About Careers

One way to kids get excited about future careers is by exploring the world of work. Although most career information is designed for high school students and adults, there are some excellent career-based websites designed for kids. Through these websites, homeschooled children have the opportunity to explore a variety of jobs in diverse career fields.

Let’s take a look at some of the best career websites geared towards kids:

U.S. Government Portal

Kids.gov, the official kids portal for the U.S. Government, provides an extensive list of careers for children to explore. The website includes a grades K-5 section and a grades 6-8 section. The website also provides some very good career links for kids.

CareerOneStop

The Students and Career Advisors web page, provided by CareerOneStop, has a variety of career information and links to other useful CareerOneStop web pages. The section called “Identify Your Interests” helps kids answer the following questions:

  • What are your interests?
  • What are your talents?
  • How will they fit into a career?

The “Explore Careers” section helps kids answer the following questions:

  • Which careers are the best fit for you?
  • Which are likely to have job openings?
  • How much money can you earn?

(CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.)

What Do You Like?

What Do You Like? is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and offers information for kids about a number of career topics, including:

  • Law
  • Reading
  • Building & fixing things
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Music & arts
  • Managing money
  • Helping people
  • Nature
  • Social studies
  • Computers

Fun Works

The Fun Works website is designed for middle-school students. Kids explore ways their favorite activities translate into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers and other types of careers.

Fun Work’s web page, Fun Games, uses games to help kids explore a variety of careers. The website offers the following game categories:

  • Music
  • Arts & Design
  • Sports
  • Exploration
  • Technology
  • Medicine & Law

Mapping Your Future

Mapping Your Future is another website designed for middle and high school students.

Career Kids

Career Kids offers descriptions of a wide variety of careers.

GirslGoTech

GirslGoTech is a great website sponsored by the Girl Scouts. Girls have the opportunity to explore careers in science, math, and technology. The website includes a list of activities that may interest girls and careers associated with these activities.

Career Day

Besides using online resources, parents of homeschooled kids can also hold a career day on a weekend. Working parents discuss their own jobs and perhaps interesting jobs at their workplaces. Trades and professional associations as well as the local Chamber of Commerce may be helpful in finding guest speakers.

Through exploring a variety of careers, kids may find some careers to get excited about. There’s a good chance they’ll change their mind before entering college, but a strong interest in a few careers can inspire them to study harder and see a connection between education and interesting careers.


Brian Jenkins writes about a number of education topics, including careers in high school education, for BrainTrack.


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Posted under Career Choices

Where to find Free Ebooks – Guest Post

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December 11, 2010

(Thank you to Alisa Gilbert for this guest post on a few places to find free Ebooks!)

Places Homeschool Moms Can Find Free eBooks

Some of my favorite tech gadgets of late are eReaders whether it be a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader or even the super-cool iPad, which serves as an eReader among other purposes. Avid readers can carry around one of these lightweight contraptions capable of holding hundreds of eBooks instead of lugging around tons of books or filling their already overflowing shelves. I also happen to think eReaders are a great tool for a homeschooling mom.

These eReaders can be quite the investment (particularly if you opt for the iPad), so it’s nice to have a few web resources up your sleeve where you can download free eBooks.

    1. Probably one of the best-known resources for free eBooks is Project Gutenberg. The site allows you to search by author or title, and is chock full of excellent classic literature to supplement an at-home English or literature class. The site only offers books with expired copyrights; many of the titles were written by authors who have passed away, so no one’s losing money as a result of you using this site.Of the 33,000 titles you can download here, many are classics you likely have built into your curriculum, such as A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol (perfect for the holidays!) by Charles Dickens, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. For older students, there are more complex works, like Moby Dick, Metamorphosis and War and Peace. You can also find fiction works here other than the classics.

  • You can also do an advanced book search on the newly launched Google Books and download numerous titles in the public domain. All you do is mark that you are searching for titles that are “full view only” and your searches will bring up books that are available for download in their entirety. I found Great Expectations and The Jungle Book here in a casual search.

  • Sony’s eBook store is also a good place to find free eBooks in the public domain.

  • Another good site is Free E-Book, where in my most recent searches I found books like The Red Badge of Courage, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Call of the Wild all available for free download.

  • Barnes & Noble also has some titles available for free if you happen to have the Nook. Take a look at the free Nook Books available. You may want to be careful though. A lot of them are harlequin romance novels that probably won’t give your child the right kind of education! There are some useful titles, though, like The Scarlet Letter and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Enjoy!

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree.

Places Homeschool Moms Can Find Free eBooks

Some of my favorite tech gadgets of late are eReaders whether it be a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader or even the super-cool iPad, which serves as an eReader among other purposes. Avid readers can carry around one of these lightweight contraptions capable of holding hundreds of eBooks instead of lugging around tons of books or filling their already overflowing shelves. I also happen to think eReaders are a great tool for a homeschooling mom.

These eReaders can be quite the investment (particularly if you opt for the iPad), so it’s nice to have a few web resources up your sleeve where you can download free eBooks.

Probably one of the best-known resources for free eBooks is Project Gutenberg. The site allows you to search by author or title, and is chock full of excellent classic literature to supplement an at-home English or literature class. The site only offers books with expired copyrights; many of the titles were written by authors who have passed away, so no one’s losing money as a result of you using this site.

Of the 33,000 titles you can download here, many are classics you likely have built into your curriculum, such as A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol (perfect for the holidays!) by Charles Dickens, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. For older students, there are more complex works, like Moby Dick, Metamorphosis and War and Peace. You can also find fiction works here other than the classics.

You can also do an advanced book search on the newly launched Google Books and download numerous titles in the public domain. All you do is mark that you are searching for titles that are “full view only” and your searches will bring up books that are available for download in their entirety. I found Great Expectations and The Jungle Book here in a casual search. Sony’s eBook store is also a good place to find free eBooks in the public domain.

Another good site is Free E-Book, where in my most recent searches I found books like The Red Badge of Courage, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Call of the Wild all available for free download.

Barnes & Noble also has some titles available for free if you happen to have the Nook. Take a look at the free Nook Books available. You may want to be careful though. A lot of them are harlequin romance novels that probably won’t give your child the right kind of education! There are some useful titles, though, like The Scarlet Letter and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed byAlisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics ofbachelors degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:alisagilbert599@gmail.com.

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Posted under Reading Curriculum, Social Studies Websites

LeapFrog Fridge Phonics $10 Now

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December 6, 2010

My little kids enjoy practicing their letters with these LeapFrog fridge letters and they just dropped from $21.99 to $10.00, a great gift price!

Plus, a lot of Amazon’s Preschool Toys are 50% off.

Enjoy!

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

60% off Crayola Until Tonight on Amazon

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December 3, 2010

One more quick deal for your art supply cupboard (Because what homeschooler can’t use a few more art supplies?):

Since the Melissa and Doug toys sold out, Amazon is now offering 60% or more off a handful of Crayola gifts to finish out the day, like the:

Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush – $9.99 (originally $24.99)

or the

Crayola Crayola Color Twister – $6.00 (originally $14.99)

Enjoy!

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

50% off Melissa and Doug Toys Today Only

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December 3, 2010

Today, Amazon has 50% off a lot of their Melissa and Doug toys if you’re looking for a semi-educational toy for your toddler!  These are our favorite to use for the younger kids’ schoolwork . . . if you can call it school 🙂

They have two of our favorites included in the sale:

The Birthday Cake – I have blown these wooden candles out and made wishes too many times to count.  When a real birthday only comes around once a year, this is a great way to relive the excitement or heighten anticipation for an upcoming birthday.

The Cutting Food Box –  My toddlers have always wanted to ‘help’ in the kitchen, and they love using their own toy knife on the fruits and veggies.  Great practice.

A second deal is on the Melissa and Doug big floor puzzles:

Many are marked down with an additional 10% off if you buy $30:

This pirate is one of my boys’ favorites and it’s marked down to $9.82

My youngest loves their Safari Puzzle like this (a previous edition).  This one is 4 feet long with big pieces he can handle easily and lots of animals to keep his interest.  It’s also on sale for $9.99

And don’t forget to get a free 3-month Prime Membership if you’re a caregiver to get free 2-day shipping on any size order.

Enjoy!

(P.S.  I appreciate anyone who orders through my Amazon links, which supports this site!)

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains, Toddler Tips

End Tonight – 20 Free Homeschool Items at CurrClick

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November 30, 2010

CurrClick

Ending tonight at 10 pm EST, Currclick has 20 Homeschool Freebies as a ‘Cyber Monday bonus.’  If you’ve never tried Currclick’s electronic homeschool curriculum, now is a great chance.

For example, they’ve got a “Christmas Around the World Unit Study”, “Give Thanks” – a Thanksgiving history and scripture unit, a polar bear unit, “Polar Christmas” – a lapbook unit to accompany “The Polar Express”, and a lot more.

Enjoy!

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Posted under Homeschool Curriculum

Today – Set of Harry Potter 1 – 6 DVD Movies for $24

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November 23, 2010

One last deal today – A great gift for your Harry Potter Fan – or to add to your gift closet::

Harry Potter Years 1-6 Giftset (Widescreen Edition) – for $23.99 while it lasts!

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains