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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

More on Math and Multiplication

use your fingersMath bingo is a fun method of reviewing times tables.

All you need is bingo cards that have numbers on them (the numbers of course being the correct answers to the times table you're working on), then call out the calculations that make up those number.

For example, let's say you're working on your 9 times table. You call out 9 times 7; your kids need to figure out the answer and see if that number (63) is on their card.

Having trouble with the 9 times? Use the 9-method!

Let's say you want to see how much 9X7 is.

Just hold out all 10 fingers, and lower the 7th finger. There are 6 fingers to the left and 3 fingers on the right.

The answer is 63!

Go ahead: practice building your speed with Underwater Times Tables, at a great site called What2Learn.com.

For more suggestions on how to help kids (Grades 2 - 6) memorize their times tables, see this page.

Okay, now who can tell me what 8 X 9 is? Come on!


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posted by Stephanie @ Friday, October 30, 2009   0 comments

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Online Virtual World for Kids

Based on the books by John Bittleston, The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks, an online virtual world for kids aged 7 to 14, is due to launch in the Christmas of 2009. I've signed up for the notification of its launch, and will try it on for size.

If reality lives up to the hype, it sounds good. The site says "parents can look forward to an educational and safe site for their children where they will be learning about history, geography, landmarks, famous people, inventions, animals and more. And for the children, they can expect hours of exploration fun."

Kids will be able to:

  • travel to factual and mysterious places around the world
  • travel through time and space
  • meet famous people from the past
  • play dozens of enriching and fun games
  • make new friends and party with them
  • buy exotic islands
  • build culture-inspired houses
  • wear clothes from different countries
  • explore secret locations
  • solve mysteries and puzzles
I've never read the books, so that's another thing to explore.


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posted by Stephanie @ Tuesday, October 27, 2009   0 comments

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Long Division

mathLong division (called the algorithmic process) is the next on my list -- I mean, my kid's list -- to learn.

The standard approach to solving long division is broken down into five steps:

  1. Divide
  2. Multiply
  3. Subtract
  4. Bring Down
  5. Repeat (if necessary)
In case you need a bit of a refresher, here are a few sites that explain and illustrate the process:
DoubleDivision.org is a site that introduces a different method of doing long division and has an easy-to-understand calculator that works the problem through with you step by step. Instead of five steps, double division has three:

Step 1 - Double, double, double.
Step 2 - Subtract off multiples.
Step 3 - Add up your answer.

The benefit of this system over the five-step system is said to be that
double division does not depend on memorizing the multiplication facts or estimating how many times one number goes into another. It may take 50% longer, but it is far less frustrating and probably easier to understand than long division.
Whatever works works for me!


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posted by Stephanie @ Saturday, October 24, 2009   0 comments

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spelling It Right

building blocksMaybe good spelling doesn't seem to be all that exciting or fun, but sometimes that's because too much guessing goes on.

Unlike spelling, math is an exact science: you learn the rules and apply them, you get the right answer. This makes it more like a game or competition. (Review multiplication tables by bingo and you non-believers will see how math can become fun).

When kids have to guess at spelling, they don't "win" when they get something right. They just get lucky--there's no "building blocks" going on. English teacher, Roger Smith, thinks that educated guesses are a step in the right direction.

For example, at his site Spelling It Right: Learn How to Spell Confidently, he gives weak spellers a fighting chance when it comes to spelling words with iffy vowels.

When you say words like "relative" or "information", the middle vowels aren't clearly stressed which can make spelling those words correctly a bit tricky. Mr. Smith has a trick up his sleeve that can help: think of another word from the same root, and maybe you can figure it out.

With "relative", he shows the word "relation".

With "information", he shows the word "inform".

Once he's shown you how, he gives you an exercise to complete:

Here's the root word: define. Complete this word: def_nition
Here's the root word: sedate. Complete this word: sed_tive
Heres' the root word: explore. Complete this word: expl_ration

and so on.

It's not just how to spell difficult or tricky vowel sounds -- the free worksheets cover syllables, consonant blends, prefixes, suffixes and word endings. Mr. Smith even goes into subject-specific words taken from science, geography and maths where he shows how the word is spelled and what the difficult bits might be.


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posted by Stephanie @ Thursday, October 15, 2009   4 comments

Monday, October 12, 2009

Free Mah Jong online

maj jong tilesIt's harder to find truly free games online. I like mah jong solitaire, and this version at by-art.com is absolutely free (no registration, no payment) to play online.

Follow the link to the home site of the author of the famous Mahjong solitaire game, Kyodai mah jongg. From there you can download a free copy of one of the older mahjongg games, a freeware, 16-bit, 50KB very simple game that runs on Windows 3.1/NT 3.51, 95 and up.

Notice all the variations on the spelling of mah jong. My dictionary even shows mah-jongg, but the definition is always the same: a Chinese game played by 4 people with 144 tiles.


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posted by Stephanie @ Monday, October 12, 2009   0 comments

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mind Your Manners! A Victorian-Era History Game

You can choose from several games with various historical themes at Montreal's McCord Museum of Canadian History.

There are two games in the Mind Your Manners section: the first I tried was The Victorian Period and it is very well done, with a welcome dose of humor--watch the answer-lady roll her eyes!--along with the lovely-to-look-at costumes and interesting factoids. My 11 year old found the vocabulary a bit daunting, but the gist of most of the messages is clear. The Roaring Twenties is more pointedly directed at Canadian history (Prohibition and so on), but it's still fun to see what people wore and what polite society dictates were.

Watch the Birdie is a similar type of interactive game, but it's not about manners per se. In this one, you take on the role of a customer or an apprentice photographer in a Montreal-based photography studio around 1870. You get to learn about what people wore, when telephones were commonly used and how photography was developing as an industry and an art form.

Well done Canada!

PHOTO CREDIT: Julia Freeman-Woolpert, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/706638


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posted by Stephanie @ Tuesday, October 06, 2009   0 comments

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Pumpkin Life and Preservation

My definition of a good site is one that has useful information and which is updated from time to time. That describes Pumpkin Carving 101 (which I blogged about last Halloween) to a "T".

There are products you can buy to prolong the lifespan of your jack-o-lantern, but before delving into the recommended product, Pumpkin Carving 101 gives you a free tip, saying:

One technique is to coat all cut surfaces of the pumpkin with petroleum jelly immediately after they have been carved. This includes a light coating of the entire inside of the pumpkin. If you can't do the whole inside, at least try to coat the design that you've cut into the pumpkin.

The petroleum jelly acts as a barrier to seal in the pumpkins internal moisture to help slow down the dehydration process of the pumpkin. You can use a finger to coat the eyes, nose and mouth but you may want to use a paper towel with jelly on it to coat the inside. It's less messy that way.

If you've got kids who love to get their hands messy, this'll be loads of fun!

Cold temperatures help pumpkin preservation too, so if you're going through a warm spell at the end of October, remember to keep your jack-o-lanterns out of direct sunlight.

About the photo: I like to use different members of the squash family to decorate not just for Halloween, but throughout the season. This photo is courtesy of a user at stock.xchng (www.sxc.hu).


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posted by Stephanie @ Sunday, October 04, 2009   2 comments