We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Rachel D., the winner of the Youth Digital Mod Design 1 Giveaway!

Thanks to all who participated.  I wish everyone could have won!

For those who did not win, it looks like Youth Digital is running a 20% discount on either (or both) of their Amazon offerings:  Mod Design 1 or 3D Animation 1 with coupon code “YDPLU20”.

They are already listed at $199.99.  If you take the additional 20% off by adding the coupon code, each course comes down to $159.99.  Not bad!

If you do take the 3D Animation course, I’d love to hear about it.  We bought the App Design 1 (which, sadly, is not on discount) course for Molly, which she will be starting after Christmas.

 

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Whether it is online or off, I hope you all build something really great this year!

 

 

 

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A Gentle Reminder That The Youth Digital GIVEAWAY ends Friday

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If you are not interested in entering, then please just enjoy this moment with my favorite 6-year-old.

 

If you are interested in entering the Youth Digital Giveaway for Mod Design 1 (value $250) click on the Rafflecopter link on the right side of my blog (the one that says “a Rafflecopter giveaway”).  There are two ways to enter:  you may visit Youth Digital’s Facebook page for one entry and/or follow them on Twitter for a second entry.

If you win, you will be emailed a voucher for the course that you will be responsible for redeeming for your completely FREE course from Youth Digital.

I will be drawing the winner on 12/12/2014.  If you win, you’ll be contacted by email.  If I do not get a response within 48-hours, I will draw another winner.  Good Luck to everyone!

 

4 Summer Reading Programs to Prevent “Summer Slide” or Just for Fun

Do you worry about summer slide? According to Reading is Fundamental, “children who do not read over the summer will lose more than two months of reading achievement. Summer reading loss is cumulative. By the end of 6th grade children who lose reading skills over the summer will be 2 years behind their classmates.

We homeschool year-round because we don’t separate “learning” much from our daily life anymore, so we don’t worry about summer slide.  We do, however, change up our schedule about every 6  weeks or so.  Starting now, here are four summer reading challenges we plan to participate in.  The kids love charting their progress and “winning” prizes.  Join us!

 

Joseph, back when he couldn’t read, just listening.

1.  Read any 8 books, record them in a journal you print from their website, bring the journal to a Barnes and Noble store between May 20th and September 2nd, and Barnes and Noble will give you a free book.  Find more information here.

2.  For TD Bank members, they’ll will give K-5th graders $10 if you complete their  form (which you can get here), list 10 books your read, and bring it to a local TD Bank by August 31st.

3.  Kids who read any 8 books from the Pottery Barn Kids recommended list by July 31st will receive a free book at participating retail stores.  Our absolute favorite from their recommendations is What Sisters Do Best/What Brothers Do Best by Laura Numeroff and Lynn Munsinger, which is going for about 1 penny, used, right now on Amazon.  One penny!  We got it when JohnJohn was born and I find us coming back to it over and over because the kids just love flipping it around to read it forward and backward!

4.  Scholastic is trying to set a new world record for summer reading minutes.  Help them by reading and logging minutes between now and September 5th here.  You can win books and other prizes as you go.  Register here.

 

A Stack of Resources for Storytelling

Yes.  That is a fresh pack of markers.  Jealous???

Yes. That is a fresh pack of markers. Jealous???

One theme of our Winter homeschooling has been storytelling.  Like most kids, my children love to draw.  And they love to tell stories.  They don’t worry about being perfect or even about making sense.  They just have fun.  I’d like to credit our Letter Mondays and Sketch Tuesdays with getting the ball rolling but I am pretty sure that all this fun is just coming naturally to these kids.

The ability to tell a compelling story is a skill I want my kids to have in their toolbox.  Not only will it allow them to entertain others but, more importantly, it will allow them to advocate for themselves or others, which is something I am hopeful that they will always be able to do.  Writing a compelling story takes imagination, discipline, and the education to know proper language and grammar (three more things I want for my kids!).  Some say that storytelling is the ultimate weapon.  If that’s the case, I definitely want my kids to have it.

Here are some of the resources (in no particular order) that we are using to learn about storytelling right now:

1. Animal Party Doodles Place Mats by Author Taro Gomi.  This is a book of placemats that have an unfinished pictures with a prompt to get you talking and writing and storytelling.  We have these at home and in the car.  They are really great for restaurants.

2.  Don’t Forget to Write for the Elementary Grades: 50 Enthralling and Effective Writing Lessons (Ages 5 to 12) by 826 National.  This is a book of creative writing lesson plans that you can modify for whatever level you are teaching at.  The description says it is for ages 5-12 but the lessons are pretty detailed so I would say it will be more fun the older your kids get.  And when I say that, I mean I think it would be good for anyone interested in getting a prompt for writing, even adults!

3. The Second Anti-Coloring Book: Creative Activities for Ages 6 and Up (Anti-Coloring Books) by Striker/Kimmel.  This is in the same vein as the Gomi placemats in #1.  It is a coloring book that has black and white pictures with prompts, such as “Wouldn’t this person look better in a necktie designed by you?”  And then you can color in the picture of the tie.  We usually talk about what we think is happening in the photo too.

4.  Skill Sharpeners Spell & Write Grade 1 by Evan-Moor.  A basic reading, writing, and grammar & punctuation workbook.

5. S is for Story: A Writer’s Alphabet by Esther HershenHorn and Zachary Pullen.  I think you have to read a lot to become a good writer.  This is our favorite book on stories. It gives a different element of a good story for each letter of the alphabet.  And the explanations are wonderful.  This is one that adults can learn from too.

6. R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet by Judy Young and Victor Juhasz.  This one is like the Writer’s Alphabet, above in #5.  It gets pretty detailed and so is also a really great read for adult writers too!

7.  Draw Then Write, Grades 1-3 by Evan-Moor.  This workbook is really valuable because it has the student draw a picture of something specific, like a lion.  Then, it has the student fill in a few sentences with words from a word bank.  And lastly, (this is my favorite part!), it has the student write about that lion by answering the ever-important questions of “who, what, where, when, and why.” It adds a bit of discipline to the whole storytelling subject, especially for younger kids.

8.  Lined paper for storytelling.  You don’t have to buy lined paper but I do find that my children’s handwriting is better for it.   It helps them focus as they write their words — not just on their subject matter but also their form.

9.  A Sentence a Day by Samantha Prust.  I use this with Molly to practice editing but we don’t do it every day.  It is amazing how much time and attention one sentence can take!  Sometimes less is more.

10.  Washable Markers.  My kids like markers instead of crayons and nothing beats a brand new pack.

11.  Rory’s Story Cubes.  This game is just a bunch of dice with images on them.  We roll them and then each take a turn adding bits to a story using the images.  It is really fun with little kids because they get really silly.

12.  My kids love, love, love this video from Flocabulary:

13.  BrainPOP jr.  If you are looking for an App for an i-device, our favorite for storytelling (and a lot of other subjects too) is BrainPOP jr., which, when searched for “storytelling,” had about 16 short (each about 4 minutes in length) movies about, well, storytelling.  The App is free, as are many of the movies, although it does have two levels of paid subscriptions as well.  I think you can also access it via computer.

14.  Banish Boring Words!  by Scholastic.  A book of fun synonyms.  The book says it is for grades 4-8 but my 6-year-old loves it.

We have recently tried to pull everything together by working on a story for the PBSKIDS GO! Writer’s Contest.  It has been a fun project and I think Molly really learned from the process of editing her work.  It is definitely a fun and worthwhile project.  The deadline is still a couple of weeks away.  Check it out!

And how scary is that blueberry monster in Joseph's latest story?!?

And how scary is that blueberry monster in Joseph’s latest story?!?

Ready to write?  I would love to see what you are working on!  I’d also love to hear what tools you’re using with your kids.  Or for yourself.  And what do you think of ours?

My Best Day Ever!

I know this is, in part, an advertisement for Google.  But I don’t care.  I noticed that it is Doodle for Google time (deadline for submissions is March 22, 2013).  I wanted to share it because first, it includes homeschoolers (thanks, Google!).  Second, the theme is awesome.  This year, the theme is “My Best Day Ever…”

I love to daydream and I really try to emphasize gratitude to our kids.  So, thinking about what our best day ever will be OR what our best was gives us all sorts of good things to think about and imagine.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Doodle 4 Google is an annual program that invites K-12 students in the United States to use their artistic talents to think big and redesign Google’s homepage logo for millions to see.

It is a contest and the winning doodle will appear on the Google homepage.  Plus, the doodler will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and a $50,000 technology grant for his or her school (not sure how this works with homeschoolers) along with some other cool prizes.  I just think having kids have a project with a lot of freedom within specific rules and deadlines is great for homeschoolers (and, heck, all kids).

Forget your kids.  What was your best day ever?  What will be your best day ever?  I’d love to know.

Here’s Google’s fancy video to get you inspired…