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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

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.categorieschildren's learning games kids sites educational fun homeschool

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.categorieschildren's learning games kids sites educational fun homeschool

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.categorieschildren's learning games kids sites educational fun homeschool

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!

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.categorieschildren's learning games kids sites educational fun homeschool

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!

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 EarthChapter Two - Describing Our PlanetChapter Three - Our AtmosphereChapter Four - Atmospheric TemperaturesChapter Five - Atmospheric PressuresChapter Six - Atmospheric MoistureChapter Seven - Atmospheric DisturbancesChapter Eight - The HydrosphereChapter Nine - The BiosphereOther 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).categorieschildren's learning games kids sites educational fun homeschool

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.categorieschildren's learning games kids sites educational fun homeschool

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:TABLE OF CONTENTSChapter One: Introduction To SewingChapter Two: Choosing Your Pattern and FabricChapter Three: Pattern InstructionsChapter Four: Getting Ready To Sew: Lay-out And CuttingChapter Five: Setting Up Your Sewing MachineChapter Six: Now We're Sewing: Terms & TechniquesChapter Seven: PocketsChapter Eight: Zippers & ButtonholesChapter Nine: Sleeve InstallationChapter Ten: Darts & PleatsChart: Needle / Threadand 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.categorieschildren's learning games kids sites educational fun homeschool

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