Learning Fun for Kids Online

Home school and after school, kids online can access some great sites and games that are both educational and fun. This site reviews and links to the best, and also discusses some parenting articles and homework sites of interest to parents.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Peanut Butter Jar Storage and Cereal Box Crafts

Megan, a SAHM in Chicago, has a wonderful blog called PlumPudding where she blogs about a variety of crafts for children (among other things).

If you're looking for fun crafts to do with your kids, which use both the recycle and useful themes that we all like to encourage! -- you can wash out your plastic peanut butter containers to use as storage boxes for little treasures like Polly Pockets, Leggos, tiny farm animals, etc., (keep the lids from being lost with this idea).

Cereal boxes are another item well-used by crafty moms (like using the inside as canvases for painting), and Megan shows you how to make bookmarks as well as postcards and envelopes. Remember to round off all corners as the cardboard used in cereal boxes can make them uncomfortably sharp! These are truly green crafting ideas at their best.

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posted by Stephanie @ Sunday, April 26, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why is the Ocean Blue?

Parents - finally, the non-answer we've been giving all along is right: Nobody knows!

There are several theories as to why the ocean is usually blue. Some scientists believe that when sunlight hits seawater, part of the white light is absorbed and part is reflected. White light is composed of various shades (all the colors in the rainbow). Seawater does not absorb blue light, so the blue light is reflected outwards. Some scientists believe that suspended matter in the sea is responsible for its blue color.
Something else of interest:

Real forests grow in the oceans! Off the coast of California, Giant Kelp plants (large brown seaweed) can grow to 125 feet in length.

Cool beans.

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posted by Stephanie @ Friday, April 24, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Favorite Songs for Kids

Parents rediscover the joys of classic kids movies, nursery rhymes and stories when they introduce them to their children -- and one site that can be a source of word and melody help and fun is over the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Kids Pages where they have Sing-Along Midis and Lyrics to movies and musicals.

Remember Baby Mine from Dumbo?

Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine

Little one when you play
Don't you mind what they say
Let those eyes sparkle and shine
Never a tear, baby of mine
*sniff*

And who can forget Hakuna Matata from The Lion King?

Hakuna Matata!
What a wonderful phrase
Hakuna Matata!
Ain't no passing craze

It means no worries
For the rest of your days
It's our problem-free philosophy
Hakuna Matata!
*aahhhhh!*

There's Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! (Mary Poppins), The Tigger Song (Winnie-the-Pooh) and even Kermit's It's Not Easy Being Green:

It's not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold...
or something much more colorful like that.

It's not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ord'nary things.
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
or stars in the sky.

But green's the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain,
or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!
And I think it's what I want to be.
*happy sigh*

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posted by Stephanie @ Thursday, April 23, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More on Stress in Kids

I found an online booklet about stress in kids from the Child Development and Family Science Parenting and Caregiving Department of North Dakota State University. Called How Am I?, the easy-to-read text (in large type) explains that stress can be good or bad; tells kids the physical symptoms they feel are normal simply by getting them to check off those they have; and lists actions kids can take to deal with stress.

The "case studies" given are too simplistic. I would think it would be more useful if situations of stressors were more advanced than simply "my sister didn't come out of the bathroom", but it does demonstrate how kids can analyze a situation, including: their response to it, the consequences of their response and what they might try next time to change the outcome.

Related post is Stress in Kids.


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posted by Stephanie @ Wednesday, April 22, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 20, 2009

The World of Cleopatra

Learning adventures really do take place at Cleopatra's Palace on Discovery.com's Education section. By clicking on the correct image, whether it's people or places (including recent underwater finds at Alexandria), this site provides students (of any age!) with a quick and painless review of a fascinating era in world history.

For a more in-depth look at the life of this last pharaoh of Egypt, the Cleopatra Study Guide at About.com is well done.

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posted by Stephanie @ Monday, April 20, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fish Tycoon - for kids and kids at heart

Fish Tycoon is a virtual fish breeding game, which you download onto your computer. The object is to breed and cross breed fish until you find the 7 Magic Fish and solve the genetic puzzle.

You buy supplies like meds, eggs and special plants and then sell some of your fish in your virtual pet store.

These are your fish, and like real fish, you need to take care of them. Feed them, cure them if they get sick, breed them and make lots of babies!

Some general tips:

  • Use the species button frequently. Once you put a fish in the small isolation tank you can click this button to get family tree information as well as a suggested price.

  • To get money quickly, figure out which fish command the highest prices and breed them exclusively. Try to get the second tank as soon as possible so you can get two breeding batches going.

  • Do not overfeed your fish!

  • Don't get the unusual or rare fish eggs until you have finished researching food and environment. You will also need to have the heater and aeration system in your tanks.
NOTE TO PARENTS: If a fish develops a disease, the player must decide whether to attempt to cure it or euthanize it. Obviously, this is not a game for very young kids, but it is a great way to introduce a child to the realities of what's entailed in keeping fish.

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posted by Stephanie @ Thursday, April 16, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gardening for Kids

My First Garden is a site that was developed by the University of Illinois Extension for 4th grade children. Available in both English and Spanish, it's a child's guide to the world of fun and clever gardening. Kids learn the basics and fundamentals of gardening and how to care for common flowers and vegetables.

There's a teacher's guide which can also be used by a homeschooling parent of course; there's also a Garden Gallery where you and the kids can send a picture of the results of all that digging and planting.

I thought the idea of the Garden Ruler was great -- you measure your fingers and feet with a ruler, and write down the measurements. That way, out in the garden, you know that the tip of your finger to the first joint is one inch (for example). No more guess-timating or dirty rulers!

Go Green Thumbs!

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posted by Stephanie @ Wednesday, April 15, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kids Celebrate Earth Day with Activities and Crafts

From Coffee Ground Fossils (a recycling craft) to 5 tips on how kids can help the planet, Funschool has come up with a nice selection of activities, crafts and games relating to Earth Day (April 22nd).

My kids were recently subjected to a guest lecture at their school that they interpreted to be full of blame, fear and hopelessness. That approach is obviously not helpful in addition to being extremely frightening--adults need to present Earth Day in positive terms of nurturing and caring for something that's very precious and irreplaceable. We need to give our children hope in concrete terms of things they can do to help, such as this partial list from PlanetPals:

Things to do with paper, gift wrap or cardboard:
  • Use it to cover and protect your schoolbooks
  • Make your own paper dolls be a fashion designer and design doll clothes
  • Cover the walls in your dollhouse with gift wrap for wallpaper
  • Use bags or newspaper particularly colorful comics, for gift wrap....
  • Use old gift wrap, comics or wallpaper to cover boxes or cans
  • Use the back side of bags or gift wrap as practice paper for painting or studying the alphabet
  • Use your practice paintings as gift wrap--they can be colorful and special!
  • Cut it in squares and use it to make origami
  • Make a book, or album -- paper pages and cardboard cover -- use string or ribbon to tie it together
  • Make homemade paper
  • Make paper mache projects

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posted by Stephanie @ Monday, April 13, 2009   0 comments links to this post

Sunday, April 12, 2009

U.S. Citizenship Test (for kids) and more at World Almanac

There's a printable quiz at The World Almanac for Kids site (don't worry, it's got the answers!), and it asks those questions that you might just find -- some in a different format, of course -- on a real citizenship test. You'll need to scroll down on that page to find the test, for questions like:

  • How many stars are there on the American flag?
  • What are the three branches of the American government?
  • Who was the first president of the U.S.?
  • How many Supreme Court justices are there?
There are more printables available at the site, including:
  • an Environment Crossword
  • an Inventions Match
  • a U.S. Government Fill-In
  • a Fred Fabulous Fill-In (deals with geography)
  • an Animals Word Search
Take time to explore the entire site -- the Chapters tab alone will lead you to find answers to mind-bogglers like:
Have fun!

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posted by Stephanie @ Sunday, April 12, 2009   0 comments links to this post