Archive for the ‘Free resources’ Category

Free Resource: Handwriting Worksheets Generator

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Today, I worked with Levi to learn to write numbers.  We did one set of numbers and he wanted to do letters instead.  Well, I thought, at least it is writing and not on the wall.  I tried a couple of different writing resources.  After some frustration, I finally hit Google and searched for writing worksheets.

I came across a site called The Amazing – Incredible Handwriting Worksheet Maker!  I browsed the web site trying to find something that did traditional print worksheets rather than cursive or a hybrid ones.

I found a print sentence worksheet creator and wrote a sentence with Levi’s name in it.  He loved it.  He called tracing the letters “giving them coats.”  At least I can get Levi interested in writing words on paper, rather than walls.  Anyone interested may want to check out http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/.

The Mesopotamians and Gilgamesh

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Levi likes watching They Might be Giants videos.  We are doing Mesopotamian history this week.   As a fun introduction we played “The Mesopotamians” video.

Then Levi watched The Epic of Gilgamesh (warning: it has a passing indirect reference to sex.  Most kids won’t understand it).  It is an interesting series of videos retelling this classical tale of Gilgamesh.  Levi really enjoyed watching this video and learned much about the story of Gilgamesh and his best friend, Enkidu.  Gilgamesh goes on a quest for immortality after the death of Enkidu.  The story addresses the human wish for immortality and the futility of that quest.

We will continue to  do the introduction study of the Mesopotamians throughout the week and continue through history throughout the rest of the school year.

 

Book Discussion: The Underground History of American Education – Chapter 1

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

This evening we took a drive and I read aloud from The Underground History of American Education.  The kids seemed to enjoy it, even if the concepts were far over their heads.  If nothing else, this submerses them in language and they find the cadence of my voice relaxing as I read aloud.

As promised, I have developed a few questions to spark discussion of Chapter 1.  These are just a jumping-off point.  If you have other questions to raise, we’d love to hear them.  Now, ready … set … discuss!

1. Gatto writes: “Something in the structure of schooling calls forth violence.” He gives modern-day examples of “slurs, aspersion, formal ranking, insult, and inference,” which he believes are “more deadly” than physical violence?  Does this match your experience with schooling?  Which do you believe is most detrimental: physical violence or emotional violence?

2. Throughout the chapter, Gatto uses the analogy of driving a car to illustrate attitudes about compulsory education.  He points out that very with few hours of training or experience, we allow practically anyone to operate a massive deadly weapon full of an explosive liquid.  Why, then, do governments require people to attend schools to learn skills such as reading and math?

3. In ancient Rome, a pedagogue was a slave trained as a drill master for young students.  Despite the negative connotations of its etymology, the word “pedagogy” is often used to describe modern school science.  Do the origins of the term reflect current educational practices?  If so, how?

4. Gatto argues that the public education system is based upon a Hindu model, which was used to keep the lower castes in place.  Andrew Bell, who is largely responsible for bringing this method to the West, called it an “impediment to learning writing and ciphering, an efficient control on reading development.”  Do you think that compulsory education has any effect on class relations today?  If so, what effects does it have and what are their causes?

5. Lincoln, Farragut, Edison, Franklin, Washington … Gatto lists self-educated people who did great things at a young age.  Today, some of these people would still be in middle school at the age when they accomplished their crowning acheivements.  Why does our society shelter children well into their teens or twenties?  What might be the effects of allowing teens more responsibility?

If you missed the first installment in this series, you can catch it here.

You can read the full text of Gatto’s book online.

Isaac and an Innate Curiosity

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Isaac sitting on a park bench

Isaac is almost 3 years old.  He is very curious about how things in the world work, sometimes to our chagrin–especially when it involves water or a piece of electronics.

Still, even through the headache and expense, his curiosity and interest is amazing.  He can operate either Mandi’s iPhone or my HTC Droid phone and get what he wants.  He can even remotely control (as can his older brother) our Mac Mini that runs our TV.  This is our second Mac Mini since Isaac helped the first one bite the dust.

Isaac repeatedly asks for  the”Alphabeta” video lately.  Here it is.  The pronunciation is off in a few places, but it is still fun (sounds a little like the 80s pop song “I’m Too Sexy”).  We are working to insure this curiosity is preserved.

Free Resource: Videos Teaching Greek, Latin and Other Ancient Languages

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

We were searching on YouTube for more “alphabeta” that Isaac wanted.  I ran across a YouTube channel by a gentleman named Kleber Kosta.  He teaches Greek (both modern and ancient) as well as Latin and a few others.  It is really interesting and very comprehensive.

Resource Review: TumbleBooks Library

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

I know that some in classical homeschooling circles are not fond of electronic media.  Some materials can be the equivalent of intellectual “junk food.”  Junk food is OK in moderation, but what about using electronic resources as an everyday part of your curriculum?  The Internet is an inextricable part of daily life in our family–in fact, our family wouldn’t be here without it!  I firmly believe content is much more important than format.  That’s why I really appreciate when I find a quality e-resource.  TumbleBook Library is one such resource.

TumbleBook Library is free to me (and to any of you who live in my hometown), since it is offered on the website of my local public library.  I’m not sure how it authenticates, but you may be able to access it from the link on the Marion Public Library’s home page.  If not, ask at your own library.  If they don’t have TumbleBook Library, chances are they offer some great alternatives!

A screen shot showing an e-book in the Tumblepad interface

TumbleBook Library includes interactive fiction and non-fiction titles for kids in the elementary grades.  If you’re looking for classics, there aren’t many in the collection. However, it does include many good quality selections from contemporary children’s literature.  Also included are several fun modern-day interpretations of classics, such as the version of of The Tell-Tale Heart pictured here (this one includes tell-tale beets).  Really, this fits right in with the classical education concept of introducing basic ideas to build on later.  When we get around to Edgar Allan Poe in later years, the story will sound familiar.

Once a book has been opened, the electronic interface is easy to control, even for young children.  Levi can easily navigate through a book on his own.  He isn’t able to handle searching and browsing yet, but an older child should be able to do so.  The stories engage children’s interest with animation and sound effects, but maintain a literary feel by providing the entire text along with the narration.  As the narrator reads, the corresponding words are highlighted in the text.  Some books even provide reading help, which allows users to click on a word and hear it pronounced.  Users can watch the book on “auto” mode, or navigate the pages manually.  So far, I have mostly used the e-books, but the database also includes games and puzzles that go along with the books.

TumbleBooks provides an excellent choice for entertainment and recreational reading.  I find it especially helpful these days when most library materials I bring home end up having helicopters drawn inside the covers.  TumbleBooks are delivered through a web browser, so we don’t have to worry about lost or damaged books.  I like to cue up several stories and play them for the kids while I’m working.  Of course, e-books are no substitute for sitting together as a family and enjoying a good, old-fashioned traditional book, but TumbleBooks gives us yet another way to enrich our home with literature.

Free Resources: Storynory

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

I briefly mentioned Storynory.com in a previous post, but I thought it deserved a post of its own.  This is one of my absolute favorite free homeschool resources.  Each week, Storynory posts a podcast of an audio story for children.  They share an impressive variety of tales, including classics, fairy tales, and fascinating original stories.  For free, you might expect amateurish recordings, but you won’t find those here.  Each professional-quality mp3 features one of several engaging storytellers.  Their “guiding spirit,” Bertie the frog, acts as a spokesperson and stars in several original tales of his own.

You can download all of the audio stories free of charge from their website, or subscribe by iTunes, iPhone app, email, or RSS feed.  If you prefer your children to follow along as they listen, the transcript of each story is published on the website.  I imagine the text would work well for copywork, although we haven’t gotten that far in our curriculum.  For variety, we incorporate the audio stories into the kids’ bedtime routine from time to time.  We haven’t done many long road trips, but I plan to load up my iPhone before we leave on our upcoming family vacation.

Storynory has become a staple around our house.  I understand the importance of reading to my kids, but with three kids under five, I don’t get much time each day to sit down and read.  Storynory allows me to expose the kids to good literature when I don’t have a free hand to hold a book.

Note: We did not receive any compensation for this unsolicited review.  We just wanted to share this wonderful resource with you!