Sunday, November 29, 2009

Resources: Online Writing Workshop

Resources: Online Learning Components for Holt/McDougal publications

Click on the subject and a state on this page:

And it takes you to a list of books. Click one, and you get to the online support page for that book. Some of these are chock full of activities, animated lessons, links, tutorials (like on math topics), online worksheets, etc. While some of these activities are very book-dependent, others are linked to a specific piece of literature or knowledge you can access elsewhere (like in a "complete works of O. Henry" book you could find in a library or elsewhere online or a math concept).

And they're free.

And useful even if you don't own the books.

Resource: Online Course on Web Research

If you follow the links on this page in order, this is a complete course on doing research online.

Resources: Online Current Events for Kids

Resources: Clickable Online World Atlas

GREAT Resource for homeschoolers

This one is a little complex to find at first, so bear with me.

Go to the Higher Ed Page on McGraw Hill's website:

On the LEFT side there is a box labeled "Browse Catalogs". Go there and click either main or specialty and choose a category from the bulleted list that opens.

That will open a list in the main center box on the page. Choose a sub-category. This should open a list right there below the subcategory. The number in parentheses tells how many books are in that subject. Choose a subject from the list. A list of books with cover art pops up. Choose a book by clicking on the title. Now look at the left side, below the "browse catalog" box. For some (but not all) textbooks, there will be an additional box that says "supplements and resources". For some (but not all) textbooks, on the list of supplements and resources is an "Online Learning Center". Click there.

The Online Learning Centers vary--some books have AWESOME ones full of useful resources (like the Astronomy one: ). When you click on Online Learning Center, it will take you to a home page for that textbook. On the left side will be a box. In that box, choose "Student Edition". That's where the good stuff is.

Once you click Student Edition, you'll get a mostly blank home page. On the left is a tab, sometimes big and sometimes quite small, with content links in it, including a box that says, "Choose a chapter." Do that. Choose a chapter and check out what's available--quizzes, web links, animations, activities, etc. Very cool and useful stuff. The Astronomy section, for example, includes a chapter summary that, combined with the web links for that chapter, are a complete astronomy course for children. It might not be sufficient for a college course without the complete text book, but it's great for pre-college work.

You have to explore some. Some of the textbooks have GREAT online learning centers, others have interesting ones--an American Music text's OLC includes a listening library with links to songs on iTunes and complete listening guides in Word format--again, not, perhaps, a complete college course in American Music, but more than enough for pre-college and introductory courses.

This is an incredibly valuable free resource for homeschoolers, even if it takes a little exploring to find the good stuff.

NOTE: I have done some research and am compiling a list of OLCs available for free. You can reach them here: with ideas on how to use them in homeschooling.

Full Humanities Courses Online

This is an incredible site. If you want to teach your children about the humanities, I recommend you explore it thoroughly. There are e-book guides to film, theater, and museums, visual illustrations of concepts from dance, art, music, etc.

Go see.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Real Life Mysteries: What do you think?: The Stones of Carnac and other Megaliths

The mystery: Why are these stones lined up like that?

The stones of Carnac aren't the only amazing and mysterious stones.  Check here for more information and links:

New Mini-Feature: Real-life Mysteries/What do you think?

For fun, I'm going to start posting links to information about real-life mysteries for kids to ponder. These are fun, keep curiosity alive, and give kids a chance for creative thinking based in fact, which is what scientists have to do all the time.

These won't show up at any regular times--just when I come across something, I'll post it.

Humanities: Time Lines

A Time Line is a chart that shows events and when they happened.

For example, go to this web page and make a time line:

Choose some events from your own life, like your birth, when you started school, etc, and generate a timeline for your life.

This is a really interesting website full of timelines:

This list of timelines helps us with all of humanities:,1573,612

Check out this cool time line:

Let's start a timeline to keep track of when we're talking about. Make a long line and put yourself at the end. Then put Ancient Egypt at the beginning, and fill in important world events between (birth of Christ, when Nephi lived, when George Washington lived, etc).

For more in-depth information about time lines, their benefits and limitations, and how computers are changing the face of humanities, read here: 
You can also look here: for even more complex information (suitable esp for high school students who are interested in programming)

Humanities: Ancient Egypt: Where is it?

Look at this map: Zoom out until you can see North America and Europe/Africa on the same screen.

See where we live?

Over on this other part of the map is Egypt today. Print this map, color it, and hang it on the wall for reference. Mark your house and Egypt.

Now click on Egypt and zoom in until you have a map just of that country. Print and color this, too. Point out the Nile river and some of the major cities. Click on "terrain" and "satellite" and talk about the different details you can see.

What kind of landscape is there in Egypt? Mostly desert, with a big fertile strip in the middle where the Nile river is.

Now click on this page: and look at the maps there. Finally, print and color this map, too, and add it to the others on your walls:

LONG ago (we'll talk about this more in the next lesson), Egypt really was just the area around the river. Everything else was desert that nobody really wanted. Look at the map and talk about what is on it. See how some of the cities are the same? They are very old cities. Talk about the individual cities. For example, Alexandria had the greatest library in the ancient world and one that people are still sad that it burned down.

You can look up some of these cities (Cairo, Alexandria, Thebes, Memphis, Heliopolis, etc) on wikipedia for more information about them.

Notice on the map that LOWER Egypt is at the TOP, and UPPER Egypt is at the BOTTOM. Why do you think this is? (It has to do with the direction the Nile flows....)

Spend some time studying the maps and discussing them, and then save them for reference for the next few months as we study Ancient Egypt.

Humanities: a note to get started

There are two approaches to teaching Humanities to children. One is to start with the present and go backward, with a sort of "this came from...." approach. The other, more common, is to start as far back as you care to and follow a more "this led to...." approach. I am more interested in the first, which takes what children can see around them and works backward to things that are unfamiliar.

My children were more interested in the latter.

So we're starting with Ancient Egypt.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Meteor Shower Alert:,2933,575092,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a4:g4:r3:c0.000000:b0:z5

The Leonid Meteor Shower is Monday night/Tues Morning. See debris burn up that was left in the sky the year Monteverdi was born and Mary, Queen of Scots, lost her throne to James.

To find out when and where you should watch, google "leonid" and your city/state name.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Computer Programming Ed. Tools, a Guest Post by J. Max Wilson

The kids might enjoy learning about computer programming with these free tools:

A visual programming language to create and share interactive stories, games, music, and art developed by MIT for teaching children the basic concepts of computer programming.  Oriented toward 8 years old and up.

Is like Scratch but designed for more advanced object oriented programming techniques and produces 3D animations, games, and videos.  It is geared toward middle school aged children.

ed. note:  You might also look here:
and here: