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.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Word a Day Wonder - a Great Learning Tool

By using words in very descriptive sentences, Word a Day Wonder is a truly fun and unique way to

improve your vocabulary. Each day brings an amazing fact or anecdote with an embedded vocabulary word.

This brand new site is lean, with no distractions -- one vivid image goes to the word at hand. After the interesting fact or anecdote is given (through which you learn not only the meaning of the embedded word, but also often something else of interest), a clear definition is set out, a few synonyms given and a link to further reading on the topic.

This is my kind of schooling: highly interesting, quick and memorable. Long may it prosper!

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posted by Stephanie @ Thursday, January 28, 2010   2 comments

Monday, January 25, 2010

Homeschooling - Learning Fun Through Recipes

There are so many wonderful packaged Unit Studies available to homeschoolers that you don't know where to start. Instead of buying something pre-packaged, how about starting with an idea and let your children's interests decide where to go with it.

Have you thought about starting a unit study in the kitchen... with a recipe?

You can certainly pick your own recipe to start your unit study, but here is an example of how it can work. The recipe I have in mind is for Beef Stroganoff. Your kids can decide which way they want to go with this, but here are some suggestions:

1. Investigate the different stories about the origins of Beef Stroganoff and decide, based on the evidence, which version may be the correct one.

2. Research the year the dish was invented and explore that time period. What important events were happening around the world then? Who was the US President and what was the US like at that time? What were the people in Russia wearing in the 19th century? What other foods were popular in Russia back then? What was the main mode of transportation during that time period? Get in as deep as you want on any of these.

3. What is a count? Draw and color a nobility tree showing the rankings of nobility from most important to lowest ranking. Is it still that way in Russia today?

4. Explore Russia geographically. Find it on the world map. Make your own map of Russia and include topographical items. Add bodies of water, mountains, cities, industry, and whatever else you want. Make charts of demographics. Create math story problems involving air or boat travel from Russia to the US, or from one city in Russia to another. Compare the size and circumference of Russia as compared to Europe and the US.

5. Learn about Count Stroganov and his family history. Create a play about his life.

6. Make a scrapbook by downloading pictures off the internet and then adding captions explaining the pictures.

7. Compare 5 different Beef Stroganoff recipes and notice which ingredients are the same and which are different. Make a bar chart of the ingredients from all the recipes.

8. Create a Russian newspaper with news items that might have happened in the 19th century. What kind of ads might they have had then?

9. Make beef stroganoff! You can have a Russian night and make a whole meal of Russian food. Visit some online Russian museums to understand what their dishes and utensils might have looked like and how they would dress for a meal.

10. Write a fictional story about a girl or boy in Russia.

These are ideas on how to go from just one recipe to a unit study. Other recipes work just as well. Take a look at your recipe for pizza and take a trip to Italy, or explore the Tollhouse chocolate chip cook recipe; there's a good story there. How can you go wrong with pizza or cookies?

The author of this article, Peggy Baron, is the editor of the popular Cookin' Kids Newsletter. Interesting themes, fun facts, silly clip art, easy recipes, kid jokes, cooking terms, and safety tips make this newsletter a hit with kids! Learn more about it at Cookin' Kids.com

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posted by Stephanie @ Monday, January 25, 2010   0 comments

Friday, January 22, 2010

Paper Snowflakes

Well, it's still cold and snowy outside where I am, so what better activity is there than brewing up a pot of hot chocolate and cutting out a heap of paper snowflakes?

At SnowCrystals.com, you get free instructions (complete with pictures) on how to fold and cut out paper snowflakes. They try to keep you honest here: they want you to hold out for real six-sided crystals -- since there are (apparently) no eight-sided or four-sided snowflakes in nature.

When you want to brave the cold and head outside and IF the snowfall looks interesting (with many crystal types of snowflakes and not just sand-like grains), grab a copy of the Snowflake Reference Guide on your way out. Have snowflake contests to see who can find the most different crystal types, and who can find the largest stellar crystals, etc.

I'm not leaving the comfort of my home (thank you), so I think I'll just make some very cool looking Ice Spikes after I finish cutting out a few more six-sided snowflakes.



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posted by Stephanie @ Friday, January 22, 2010   0 comments

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mr. McKeague's Math TV

Charles P. "Pat" McKeague is owner of MathTV.com. He's a mathematician (with a B.A. and M.S. in the field), college instructor, published author of math textbooks (covering everything from basic mathematics to trigonometry) and a speaker at mathematics conferences in California and nationwide.

He's also an excellent teacher who provides clear instructions on how to solve math problems as well as bits of life philosophy, like: Do something for the person you will be 5 years from now.

His website, MathTV.com, doesn't even require you to register -- you can start viewing the instructional videos (given by Mr. McKeague and student instructors) right away, or print out textbooks and practice tests.

Take a moment to explore the site in order to reap full benefits. If you need help with long division, for example, you click on Basic Mathematics, then Whole Numbers, then Dividing. Once you get there, you can choose which long division problem you'd like to see solved: if you want to start with a one-digit divisor, try 595/7; for a two-digit divisor, there's 9,380/35. You may prefer one instructor's style to another: I found Katrina a much more thorough teacher than Aaron, although Aaron is fine for a quick review.

If you wish to factor rational expressions to their simplest forms, look under the Algebra topic heading. Radians and degrees are found under Trigonometry, with perimeters, parallelograms and congruent triangles all found under Geometry.

Tip: full screen view makes the videos easier to see and you just press your ESC key to return to Normal Screen.


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posted by Stephanie @ Wednesday, January 13, 2010   0 comments

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Internet Safety for Kids Online

Nothing beats parental involvement and supervision, but there's a list of 10 rules for online safety at SafeKids.com that kids and parents should be aware of and talk about.

Remember -- children are programmed to give the "right answer" when asked a question, so it's crucially important that the privacy factor (which seems so obvious to adults) not only be introduced but also reviewed from time to time. Reasons backing up the need for privacy and safety don't have to explicit enough to frighten -- it's enough for kids to understand that there are bullies online (just like at school).

With cyber-bullying becoming a truly serious issue, it's not just strangers parents need to be concerned about. If your child has any kind of social media account (like Facebook or MySpace, for instance), make sure s/he knows how to delete suggested friends and decline invitations, etc., in order to maintain a semblance of control on the messages that flood in. Look through the spam box in your child's email account once in a while (and empty it). If it's full of spam that you don't want your child to see, simply open up a new kid-safe email account.


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posted by Stephanie @ Tuesday, January 12, 2010   2 comments

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Physics You Can See

With Magic Pen at Bubblebox.com, the shapes you draw are affected by gravity, friction and inertia. In order to complete the game (the goal of which is to collect flags by moving a given red ball or square over them), you need to draw OTHER objects in such a way that they push the shape or let it drop and roll in the right direction.

It's not just a matter of dropping a big ball that you've drawn onto the smaller given ball and letting it roll towards the flag -- sometimes you need to create a pin or hinge attaching shapes like wedges to help get you to the flag.

I'm a parent, so I'm no good at this game at all. I'm still on the first level, trying to figure out how to get my ball from one "building" to another. Any suggestions, hints or cheats greatly appreciated!

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posted by Stephanie @ Sunday, January 10, 2010   2 comments