Sunday, September 25, 2016

University of South Florida (USF) Digital Library Children's Literature Collection and More

I live in Tampa Bay so I greatly appreciate the University of South Florida (USF) Digital Library collection. In fact, I appreciate all digital libraries that I come across. Though this one has a local angle that is very useful in my homeschool, all home educators could find something of use and value. The Children's Literature Collection houses numerous books that have passed into the public domain, yet are deemed valuable enough to preserve.

Here are links to some of the best resources available at the USF Libraries Digital Collection that I use. This is hardly an exhaustive list. Just check out the first link to see all they offer. These are just the collections I've used the most in my homeschool.

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Internet4Classrooms Saves Time in the Classroom

Internet4Classrooms might be designed for public school teachers managing classrooms devoted to Common Core, but that doesn't mean it isn't useful. If you're researching a subject and want links to applicable websites that offer educational value to your lesson, you might want to check out Internet4Classrooms. Again, the site is geared towards Common Core, but will save you time whether you are a straight homeschooler, making a unit study, creating a web quest or just looking for additional teaching material.

The site is fun and easy to navigate, provides a lot of information and even has information that will have you finding ideas for monthly, weekly and daily activities.

Kids today are on computers anyway. In my house, computers, tablets and Smart TVs are the norm. My kids learn in an interactive, online environment anyway. Why not take advantage of all the online, educational resources out there? If you're new to computers or the world wide web and feel overwhelmed trying to navigate the path to high-quality websites that provide educational content of value, check out Internet4Classrooms!

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Speaking And Listening Resources For Parents, Teachers And Child-Care Givers

Speaking and listening are two of the most important skills young children must develop. While there is plenty of focus on reading skills, it's important to recognize that language development begins with speaking and listening. From the time babies are born, they absorb information about their world through their senses. Hearing is incredibly important and children need to be exposed to different forms of auditory content. Speaking and singing to children, playing music, and listening to recorded content are all ways in which children develop these critical skills.

Once children learn how to speak, it's important to develop speaking and listening skills by engaging them in active conversation. Try to engage young children in back and forth conversations with at least five cycles. Ensure children are expounding upon topics and if they are asking multiple questions, answer them in order to keep the conversation flowing. Teach children that all conversations should involve a two-way flow, with one person speaking and the other person listening. Children must take turns in conversation and never speak over another. Volume control is also important and children must develop patience, manners and self-control when engaging in conversation.

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Engaging in conversation isn't the extent of speaking and listening skills. Children at the kindergarten level should understand and have the ability to follow directions. Shows like Dora the Explorer are great for teaching children directions. See the list of links below for some age-appropriate games that will help young children understand and follow directions.

As homeschooling parents, we have the advantage of being our child's primary teacher. We must ensure our children listen and respect us as well as show the same courtesy to others. Children must be taught to listen to others. They should have the ability to speak comfortably with other people as well. While many people teach children not to speak to strangers, children should feel comfortable in their own speaking skills to speak comfortably to unfamiliar people in appropriate situations.

Children should also have the ability to maintain a conversation by keeping the topic flowing. Children should learn how to ask questions, exchange information, present facts and verbally express their emotions Just as children should feel comfortable speaking, they should have confidence to begin, continue and end conversations. Conversations tend to change direction and children should learn how to stay on topic in a conversation, as well as know how to handle a conversation that has changed topics. Children should feel comfortable politely interjecting in currently established conversations as well.

Previous generations may have taught that children should be seen and not heard, but this is not sage advice. Children should speak freely and feel comfortable in the family environment that they will not be shut down when expressing their feelings. Instead of demanding children to remain silent, teach them to think before they speak. Children should not feel rushed to speak or behave in a verbally impulsive manner. They should know that there is nothing wrong with taking your time to properly express your feelings. If children become confused by a conversation, they shouldn't feel pressured into a response, but feel confident that they can calmly express their concerns, comments or questions.

The following videos are designed for those learning English as a second language. They are a good demonstration of proper conversation, engaging in back and forth dialogue and show the importance of displaying verbal manners in society. It isn't enough for children to understand how to particiapte in a conversation through speaking, but they must also demonstrate active listening skills.

Teach children to acknowledge what other people are saying by parroting back a portion of their statement or queestion, maintaining eye contact and showing that they are listening by either verbally agreeing or making a polite remark or nodding their head in agreement. Likewise, when we as adults engage in conversation with children, we should use facial gestures and comments to let them know we are listening.

Speaking and Listening Videos For The Young And Old

Speaking and Listening Resources for Parents, Teachers and Child-Care Givers

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Best Homeschool Freebies for Fall

Sept. 22 is the first day of fall, and we've found some of the best homeschool freebies to usher in the new season. Fall is a wonderful time of year. We celebrate the autumnal equinox and welcome harvest time. We associate fall with things like acorns and apples, as trees give up their fruit. We also harvest pumpkins which are commonly associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving. The colors brown and orange permeate decorations as we reflect upon the changing leaves. Fall brings a cool, crisp breeze to the air and temperatures lower. There are many wonderful learning experiences that take place during fall.

Fall is a great time for homeschool lessons in art, science, writing and poetry. It's important to note there is a huge difference between the way secular homeschool families and some Christian homeschool families approach fall. Halloween is a holiday that is practiced by some, but not all religious people. Symbols associated with fall, such as pumpkins and leaves are often embraced by those who choose not to celebrate Halloween. Instead of decorating with ghosts, monsters and witches, some choose to use pumpkins, leaves and cornucopias as their main holiday and seasonal decor.

Here are some wonderful freebies you can use with your homeschool classes.

Autumn Notebooking Pages

Christian Fall Decorations

Christian Decorations for Young Children 

Autumn Leaves Mini Science Project

September Activity Calendar

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Free Florida Invasive Plant Resources, Curriculum and More

Florida residents may want to check out the free invasive plant resources, curriculum and multimedia materials provided through the University of Florida. Children love to explore their surroundings and Florida is rich in plant life. Not all of the plants that flourish in Florida are native or helpful to the environment. Knowing which plants are productive to the environment and which cause harm is not a lesson solely for botanists.

Resources on the site are plentiful and every teacher or homeschooling parent is certain to find something they can use.

You can check out the resources here.

The following is just a small sample of the resources available on the site.
Protect Your Waters: Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers A website educating the public about the spread of harmful plants, animals and other organisms
Solutions for Your Life Brings you current, science-based answers–free
University of Florida Herbarium Focuses in plant collections, acquisition and care, research based on the collections, education and public service

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Free Money and Financial Resources from Practical Money Skills

Practical Money Skills for Life provides free resources for children, teens and college students to help ensure they are financially literate and prepared for handling money in real life situations. They recently had several comic books for students featuring the "Avengers" and Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy. "

The comic books are available online and may be restocked and ready for shipping soon. You can access the comic books online here: "Marvel's Avengers Saving the Day" and "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket's Powerful Plan."

You can order items simply by placing them in your cart. You will not be charged for the items and they will be mailed to you free of charge. There are other resources that you may download and/or view online.

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C-Span Classroom has lots of resources for teachers, homeschoolers and parents

C-Span Classroom has plenty of resources, freebies and teacher materials that are perfect for homeschoolers. If you're following the 2016 elections and want or need more resources for explaining the process to your kids/students, then check out C-Span Classroom.

C-Span has a huge collection of political videos on both their website and on YouTube so you can add lots of multimedia to your lessons.

The site is divided into categories and you can select from topics, opportunities for teachers to attend various conferences and workshops, on this day in history which includes applicable videos and video clips, constitution clips which feature various video clips of relevant information that pertains to the Constitution, lesson plans that are divided by category, bell ringers that provides resources for using C-Span with your social studies lessons, campaign 2016 that provides plenty of resources for following the election, C-Span Classroom Deliberations that provides students the opportunity to apply critical thinking skills to current political problems through dialogue and approved websites that are recommended for teachers.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Solstice and Strawberry Full Moon on June 20: Lesson Plans, Live Streams, Videos and More

It's June 20, and there is a rare combination of the summer solstice and a strawberry full moon. June 20 is the official first day of summer and the solstice means that the noonday sun will be at its highest position this year. As the summer sun rises to its highest point, today will be the day of the year that has the most or longest amount of sunlight. As the summer solstice means the sun is at its highest point, likewise the moon is at its lowest. Tonight's moon happens to be  a full moon, making the first day of summer a rare event.

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Native Americans named the 12 full moons each year according to harvests, seasons and as a way of marking time. Tonight's full moon is the strawberry moon as it signified a time when in June, Native Americans would prepare to gather the
strawberry crops.

The website Take Back Space TV is live streaming the full moon on both June 19 and June 20. You can see the live stream as it aired in the video below. will also stream the strawberry full moon live on June 20. They are a subscription site that offers members access to live astronomy viewing online. They are offering a deal where you can register for free, but their basic plan is $4.95 per month. Make sure to check out the terms of service and understand that if you register, you will be charged next month. Here is a link to their live schedule: Slooh

Slooh and the Farmer's Almanac joined forces and in addition to the live streaming coverage of the strawberry full moon, astronomer Bob Berman (Farmer's Almanac) will discuss the rare event. The last strawberry moon to occur during the summer solstice was in  1967, according to Earth Sky Astronomy Essentials.

Lesson Plans, Videos and More

  • This interactive animation lets users see how much sunlight planet Earth receives as it revolves around the sun. It takes Earth one year to make a full revolution around the sun.
  • Earth rotates on a tilted axis and orbits the sun: This teaching guide explores equinoxes and solstices (PDF)