Homeschool Help

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Homeschooling families in Georgia have received another helping hand – this time from Georgia Public Broadcasting. As a teacher, I had access to digital content along with a plethora of activities and blackline masters through GPB. When I began homeschooling our two children a month ago, I yearned to access the seemingly never-ending resource that GPB New Media and Education is. Now I have it and other Georgia families can, too – for free. And we know there’s no better deal than free!

Simply follow this link and the simple instructions for obtaining a new account. When I did, I received my username and password within 24 hours! Can anyone say “Whoo hoo!”

 

Super science resource for parents and teachers

Mystery Science

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I taught in public and private schools for 11 years. What I didn’t tell you was that although 9 of those years was in an elementary school, I only taught science once. That sounds incredible, doesn’t it? When I transferred from a middle school way across town to an elementary school which my oldest daughter had attended that was only 3 minutes away from our house, the principal structured the 4th and 5th grades so that teachers taught in teams. Each team consisted of a teacher who taught language arts, reading and math (me) and the other lovely teacher taught math and science. She taught her subjects of strength and I taught mine, which no one can convince me wasn’t beneficial for our students! The following year, the principal resigned, and all of the other teachers gladly returned to teaching all subjects individually. I was gleefully glad that our team was allowed to continue teaching as a team!

That leads me to this post. All those years of not teaching science could be considered a deficit as I teach my own children. I don’t know whether it is or not, but just in case it is, I’m fighting against it and for my children by getting my hands on as many science resources as possible. Mystery Science is one of them! I’m new to the site and still exploring, but I LOVE what I’ve seen thus far, including multiple hands-on experiments for each standard, interactive videos, activity pages, extension activities and recommended topic-relevant trade books! Not only are there many experiments to choose from, but each experiment includes a supply list and suggestions on where you can purchase some of the items. What child doesn’t want to learn how matter changes by melting gummy bears, Swedish fish, or jelly beans to demonstrate how matter can change via heating, helping to explain why so many toys are made of plastic! The child in me is raising her hand yelling, “I do! I do! I almost forgot to mention, that your first year using the site is free! FREE! There’s NO better deal than free! The site also features assessments for the units, so not only is Mystery Science a tremendous resource for the parents of K-5 students, but it is also a valuable asset to teachers! Go to mysteryscience.com to find out!

 

A Mom’s Reward

Family

Elijah woke up on a recent Sunday complaining of a stomach ache. As moms do, I automatically felt his forehead. It was ablaze! I immediately grabbed the fever reliever and gave him a dose. He and I fought that fever throughout the night and lost. When he awoke the next morning, he still had a fever, so I took him to his doctor. Elijah had strep throat and missed all but the last day of school. He missed his awards program. He missed his end-of-the-year party and all the other fun-filled events that occur during the last week of school. I was stunned when he got into the car at the end of the last day of school completely empty-handed – no award from the program he missed, no unfinished workbooks to complete during the summer – nothing.

Five days later, my husband, Lawrence, ended up in my email account by accident of course, and saw that Elijah’s teacher sent me a message stating that Elijah left school on the last day without his trophy and awards. She stated she really wanted him to have them, because he worked hard all year. “Trophy?  What trophy?” Elijah didn’t know anything about it. The following day, Elijah, Miranda and I trekked back to the school, eerily quiet without students, to pick up his belongings. Along with folders, workbooks and certificates of achievement, Elijah’s teacher handed him a sparkling trophy with his name engraved on it for earning the highest Star Math score of all 1st grade students in his school! Elijah said, “Thank you,” and skipped away. When I told him how proud we were of him, he replied, “It was just for math.” I guess he expected one for reading, too! In kindergarten, Elijah was learning how to solve word problems and adding two digit numbers. In first grade, the single digit addition and subtraction was too easy for him. So while he did that in school, at home, I’d give him three digit addition and subtraction problems to solve using regrouping along with the beginnings of multiplication. I gladly speculate that the extra work we did at home helped him to win that gleaming trophy!

Star trophy

Elijah is a bit of an overachiever. He once had a meltdown in kindergarten when he got the problem of the day wrong. Miranda ended up with the same teacher Elijah had the year before – a teacher we like a lot, but who thought Miranda would be like Elijah. I guess I could have warned her that she was in for a rude awakening. Our two little ones work differently. Elijah sees a page of math as an overgrown lawn to be mowed down. Miranda sees the same lawn as a total bore. So there were many days when her teacher would inform me on the car rider ramp that Miranda didn’t finish her work, that Miranda said, “I don’t want to do this,” that Miranda talked instead of worked. Miranda is a sweetheart, but I wasn’t surprised at all.

Beginning when Miranda was 2 and Elijah was 3, I’d sit them down at their little table set during the summers when I was off and give them age-appropriate work to complete. Elijah would mow it down! Miranda would say, “I don’t want to do that,” and walk away. I didn’t try to stop her. She was 2, and when she had enough, she had enough. At night as I put them to bed, we’d sing the alphabet, sounding out each letter among other educational songs. I did that, because I knew that learning doesn’t always have to occur via pencil and paper. Nevertheless, I worried about Miranda when she entered kindergarten, but soon learned I shouldn’t have. Apparently, I laid a solid enough foundation that even though Miranda doesn’t always do her work when she should, she does well in school – earning awards for high achievement in math and she’s reading two grade levels ahead. Her teacher and I both realized that Miranda didn’t decline to do some of her work because she couldn’t do it. To the contrary, she could and was bored with it. So when the write the numbers from 1 – 100 papers came home every week for what seems like three months, I didn’t make her write them every time. She didn’t need to. She could already count them and write them. Then on her own, she’d grab a sheet of paper and write numbers from 200 to 300 or 300 to 400. Miranda has written more of her own books than I can count, so if she doesn’t want to write from 1 to 100, I don’t usually force her to do so.

10

A mom’s reward for me isn’t just my children coming home with certificates and trophies. It’s feeling assured that they are doing their best. It’s knowing  that reading to them both while they were in the womb and introducing them to words via a variety of means, including but not limited to Your Baby Can Read, Starfalll.com and abcmouse.com helped to build the foundation they achieve from today. Some argue that exposing children at a very young age to formal learning isn’t good for them. Those people can take that stance with their children. I exposed our children to formal learning as soon as possible, because I believe children can begin learning earlier than we think. Mine did. Many other children can, too.

Reluctant Reader Summer Reader List

Brown-Girl-Dreaming-by-Jacqueline-Woodson“Brown Girl Dreaming,” is one of the books featured on Book Riot’s summer reading list.

I recently shared a post where I featured some of my favorite children’s books. I was inspired by a slide show by The Grio titled “30 Classic Books That Inspire African-American Kids.” Many of them were picture books. I was an avid reader as a tween, but as we know not all kids are. When I happened upon The Ultimate Guide to Books for Reluctant Readers Ages 12-13, by Book Riot, and saw it included some of my favorites, I had to share their comprehensive list with you. Here are some of my favorites from their list.

The-Giver-by-Lois-Lowry

The Giver! Oh, my gosh! I love this book! I first read it a couple of years ago with my 8th grade classes. It’s a story about whether to conform or to burst free from the status quo. It’s chock full of suspenseful moments that make it difficult for readers to put down and an ending that leaves readers wanting more. Fortunately for us, the author, Lois Lowery, gave us much more via three “sequels” that are available individually as Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. You can also get them together as The Giver Quartet box set.

Joey-Pigza-Swallowed-the-Key-by-Jack-Gantos

I love, love, love this book – so much so that as a teacher, I bought additional copies with my own money (as many teachers do) to ensure that my students could enjoy this book in groups. The story is of a boy who takes Ritalin daily and is learning that everyone doesn’t agree with his behavior. Behavior disorder is a serious topic, but the author gives readers many laugh-out-loud moments. I identified with Joey, because my youngest brother, Jordan, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I’m sure many young readers will connect with Joey as well.

Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid-by-Jeff-Kinney

The story, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, is set in middle school, but my 4th grade students loved this book! They also enjoyed other books in the series, which include – Rodrick Rules, The Last Straw, Dog Days, The Ugly Truth, Cabin Fever, The Third Wheel, and Hard Luck,as well as the The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book. The first 8 books are available as a set.

If you have readers who are so reluctant that they would rather listen to an audio book, Book Riot’s summer reading list includes some of those, too. I’m not suggesting in any way that children should listen to books as opposed to reading them. There are some books, however, that seem more compelling when listened to in addition to read such as Melba Patillo Beals’ Warriors Don’t Crywhich is not on Book Riot’s list.

Warriors

Warriors Don’t Cry is a stirring first-hand account detailing what life was like for the Little Rock Nine who were the first Black students to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. Some details in the book are heart-wrenching and brought me to tears. There is, however, an abridged version of Warriors Don’t Cry for younger readers. The unabridged audio version might be suitable for older middle school students.

warriors-dont-cry abridged

If you’re looking to save a few dollars, don’t forget to visit your local library.

 

Book NookThe People Could Fly

I recently came upon a slide show by The Grio titled “30 Classic Books That Inspire African-American Kids.” When I saw the cover of “The People Could Fly,” I was taken back to the fourth grade class where I read this story to my students. I remembered that as I read this book to them, I wished that slaves had been able to fly away from the plantations.

amazing grace

Then I saw the cover of “Amazing Grace,” and was taken to a time when I read this book nearly 15 years ago to my now 22-year-old daughter. We enjoyed the book so much, that I bought the sequel, “Boundless Grace.”

budnotbuddy

When I saw the slide of the cover, “Bud, Not Buddy,” I began to smile instantly! I’ve read this book to 4th, 5th and 6th grade students and they all enjoyed its. It features the theme of a boy trying to find his father and is one of my all time favorite young adult books. According to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, in 2013, just 93 of the 3,2000 published children’s books were about Black people. That’s only 3 percent. “Bud, Not Buddy,” author, the late Walter Dean Meyers, wrote an editorial on the issue “Where are the People of Color in Children’s Books?” that was featured in The New York times.

thesnowyday

As I clicked through the slide show and landed on the cover of “The Snowy Day,” I was transported back to my time in elementary school on Hilton Head Island. And that made me think of wading in the water at the beach with my cousins, picking wild black berries and playing freeze tag. The restoration of memories – the smells, the sounds, and the people you were with – is one of the things I treasure most about books.

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