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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Panda Cam

Everybody loves pandas and what's better than to see how your favorite panda's doing at the San Diego Zoo on their Panda Cam?

You can read all about pandas from the Fun Facts page too:

  • Giant pandas are technically carnivores, but they have adapted to live mostly on bamboo.
  • Like other types of bears, giant pandas are curious and playful, especially when they’re young. In zoos, they like to play with enrichment items like piles of ice or sawdust, puzzles made of bamboo with food inside, and different scents like spices. 
  • Giant pandas have unusually thick and heavy bones for their size, but they are also very flexible and like to do somersaults.



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posted by Stephanie @ Wednesday, December 30, 2009   0 comments

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sketch and Smudge - online drawing lessons

Sketch Studio is an easy-to-use drawing program for children with built-in drawing lessons.

The lessons feature two animated characters: Sketch and Smudge. They work together, sketching and smudging, to draw pictures in steps. At the end of each step (or demonstration) the two characters wait, allowing the user to copy what was drawn, before proceeding to the next step

The lessons range from beginner to advanced. The simplest lesson consists of coloring in the outline of a tree frog. This lesson, although simple, demonstrates how to use the powerful smudging technique that is necessary in the more advanced drawings.

Every drawing created with Sketch Studio is recorded and can be replayed, by Sketch and Smudge, within Sketch Studio. When a child has completed a drawing he/she can press the Play button and Sketch and Smudge will recreate the drawing stroke for stroke. The child in me especially liked watching that!

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posted by Stephanie @ Friday, December 18, 2009   0 comments

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kids Know It - a network of free educational websites

Did you know that the lone surviving written record of Mayan history is three codices written in hieroglyphs on bark paper or that the Egyptian week had ten days??

Well, neither did I until I hit KidsKnowIt.com, a network of free educational websites. This is a great homeschool resource as well as one for elementary students researching a topic or just looking for a quick subject review before a test.

The format is simple: select the general subject (say, Geography). It's like opening an online geography textbook, written specifically for children, with each "chapter" (earth, atmosphere, oceans, etc.) available by clicking a link.

It's pretty comprehensive -- continuing with our Geography example, the topics covered are as follows:

Chapter One - Hello Earth
Chapter Two - Describing Our Planet
Chapter Three - Our Atmosphere
Chapter Four - Atmospheric Temperatures
Chapter Five - Atmospheric Pressures
Chapter Six - Atmospheric Moisture
Chapter Seven - Atmospheric Disturbances
Chapter Eight - The Hydrosphere
Chapter Nine - The Biosphere
Other subjects include: Geology, Spelling, Dinosaurs, Biology, Math, and History. There are learning aids including educational songs, memory building activities and free movies including science podcasts with Nana KnowItAll.

You'll have to ignore the advertising on the site (it's free after all), and note that the songs are user-submitted (although apparently vetted before being posted for use).


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posted by Stephanie @ Thursday, December 17, 2009   0 comments

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Children in Victorian Britain

BBC's Primary History site has a section about children in Victorian Britain, including facts about chimney sweeps, children in factories and at schools. In addition to a short texts, there are captioned photos, a Time Capsule game and videos.

I'm not particularly impressed by the Teacher's Resources section (documents in PDF format), but they might be used as idea springboards from which to create something a bit more interesting than, say, coloring a picture.

The site is suitable for primary school children and also covers Ancient Greeks, Anglo-Saxons, Romans, Vikings and Children of World War II.


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posted by Stephanie @ Wednesday, December 16, 2009   0 comments

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Learn to Sew Online

Now, you'll need an honest-to-goodness sewing machine, thread, material and pattern -- no virtual equipment available, I'm afraid -- but there are some sites that can teach you how to put those things together and come out with something recognizable that you've created by yourself!

For a free sewing book called Sewing Lessons for Beginners, you'll be visiting CraftAndFabricLinks.com. The book index looks like this:

Chapter One: Introduction To Sewing
Chapter Two: Choosing Your Pattern and Fabric
Chapter Three: Pattern Instructions
Chapter Four: Getting Ready To Sew: Lay-out And Cutting
Chapter Five: Setting Up Your Sewing Machine
Chapter Six: Now We're Sewing: Terms & Techniques
Chapter Seven: Pockets
Chapter Eight: Zippers & Buttonholes
Chapter Nine: Sleeve Installation
Chapter Ten: Darts & Pleats
Chart: Needle / Thread
and there's a Quick Index too which you can use when you simply want to click on a link to go directly to a certain task you need help with. This is not a kid's book: parents will need to read through with the child who is interested in learning how to sew.

To dive right into sewing, About.com has free Sewing Lessons available online--but to follow these particular lessons, you need to be willing to start with making an envelope-back pillow (a pillow case for throw pillows). I'd suggest saving Lesson 2 (about cording a pillow) for a bit later, and move directly onto Lesson 3, where you learn about seams (a sewing necessity!) and then maybe move on to easy-to-sew quilts.

For a quick start into sewing, perhaps the most straight-forward (rewarding) introduction is to simply sew appliques onto a t-shirt, sweatshirt or cotton bag.



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posted by Stephanie @ Tuesday, December 15, 2009   0 comments

Friday, December 11, 2009

Involved in Living History on People Speak at History.com

The website blurb says it best:

Using dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries and speeches of everyday Americans, THE PEOPLE SPEAK gives voice to those who spoke up for social change throughout U.S. history. THE PEOPLE SPEAK illustrates the relevance of these passionate historical moments to our society today and reminds us never to take liberty for granted.
Watch the videos on the site:
  • Mutiny in George Washington's Army performed by Mike O'Malley
  • The Declaration of Independence performed by Matt Damon
  • Susan B. Anthony's Suffrage Trial performed by Christina Kirk and Josh Brolin
  • J.W. Loguen's Letter to Sarah Logue performed by Benjamin Bratt
Getting the kids emotionally invested and involved in a story is one of the best ways to teach them anything -- and they're more likely to retain that information as opposed to data that's been drilled by rote, simply for the purpose of exam regurgitation.


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posted by Stephanie @ Friday, December 11, 2009   0 comments

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Countries of Europe

Most online maps tend to deal with the U.S. and State capitals, so I was happy to find a Europe Map Match Game over at KidsGeo.com.

You've got a map of Europe on your left and to the right side of the screen you'll find a country shape (and the name of that country) which you need to drop into the map. This is a great review for those places you should know (Albania or Macedonia, for instance) but forget, or the ones you get always get mixed up (Sweden and Finland anyone?).

There are twenty-one countries in total and if you (or your child) gets tired, a click on the CLUE button will light up the area on the map where you are to drag and drop the country in question.

If you're too sorely tempted by the CLUE button, and want to try without -- the Europe Map Puzzle at YourChildLearns.com might be just the drag-and-drop game for you! (It also doesn't have a timer, so if it takes you several hundred seconds to find Slovakia's home, you don't have to be embarrassed). You can also print out your map of Europe (maybe color in each country and label it) at YourChildLearns.com, ranging in size from one page to nearly 7' across!


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posted by Stephanie @ Wednesday, December 09, 2009   0 comments

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Safe Place for Kids on the Internet - SparkTop.org

SparkTop.org is a safe site for kids, and one that specifically helps those children with learning difficulties, including learning disabilities and AD/HD, understand that they are smart, have unique talents, and can succeed in school and life.

It's operated by the Professor Garfield Foundation (PGF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the FREE delivery of fun, engaging educational content. Jim Davis, Garfield creator, overcame asthma and stuttering as a child and feels that ALL of us have some challenge to overcome as we learn.

SparkTop,org is a place for kids to discover their unique ways of learning, develop their strengths and self-esteem, and discover strategies to succeed in and out of school. The online community provides a safe place for kids to interact, share their worries, concerns and successes, and get feedback from kids just like them.

One of the best slogans I read at SparkTop.org is actually in their FAQs where it says -- REMEMBER: Every kid learns differently, because every kid's brain is different. That's a good thing!


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posted by Stephanie @ Wednesday, December 02, 2009   2 comments