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Websites for Homeschoolers…or for Anyone!

12 Apr

I’m not sure if I’ve ever technically been considered a homeschooler, but I do know that even before my kids were born, I never intended for them to wait until they got to school to start learning.

Their entire short lives (they’re 4 and 6), I’ve stocked up on educational supplies, created lesson plans, and scoured the internet for craft ideas.  We’ve made countless trips to museums and zoos, attended story time, and sought out just about every educational opportunity at our disposal.  Long ago, I also turned our office into a “classroom”—so maybe I am a homeschooler at heart!

Part of our "classroom" at home

Now that my son is in kindergarten full-time, and my daughter is in preschool part-time, I don’t need to put so much thought into planning out educational activities for them.  But I don’t think I’m capable of leaving everything in the hands of their teachers – it’s just in my nature!  I like to be involved as much as possible, which also includes volunteering at their schools whenever I can.

So from time to time, I still hit my favorite homeschooling-type websites for ideas on lessons, activities, crafts, and other ideas for fun things to do with my kids.

Check these out – I guarantee you’ll be inspired!

www.notimeforflashcards.com – craft ideas, book suggestions, and songs from a homeschooling mom

www.confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com – activities and downloads from a homeschooling mom

1plus1plus1equals1.blogspot.com – lesson plans from a homeschooling mom

belladia.typepad.com/crafty_crow – art activities for kids of all ages

www.artprojectsforkids.org – art activities for kids of all ages

www.preschoolexpress.com – activities and printouts for preschool kids

familyfun.go.com – crafts, activities, and recipes from Disney’s Family Fun magazine

sippycupcentralmom.blogspot.com – crafts and activities from a homeschooling mom

www.schoolbox.com – educational supplies

www.learningpage.com – lesson plans and worksheets for various ages

www.worksheetlab.com – free printable worksheets for preschool and Kindergarten children

I like to have as much of a role in my kids’ education as I can.  Much of the time, education comes in the simple form of fun.  My kids won’t be little forever, and I want to fill up our time with as many enriching activities as possible to create a lifetime love of learning!

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Cops & Robbers

27 Oct

Now that it’s fall, my children and I are able to spend more time outdoors again.  This summer was so hot that we wound up spending most of our time indoors.  Oddly enough, even the pool was too hot this year.

I love being outdoors.  When I was a kid, you could always find me outside somewhere, playing with neighborhood kids, swimming at the neighborhood pool, riding my bike, climbing a tree, having an acorn fight, judging a talent show, or making a hideout in the bushes.  My siblings and I did not go in until it was time for dinner.

Back in those days, we used our imagination to entertain ourselves.  Over the past few years, I have been trying to instill the same love for outdoors and innovation!

This weekend, a neighbor boy came over and I taught the kids how to play cops and robbers.  You split the kids into two teams.  Half are cops half are robbers.  You designate a “jail” and conversely, a robber “hideout”.  From there, the robbers pretend to steal (we pocketed leaves from the yard).

If the robbers are spotted stealing, the cops try and catch them.  If the cops catch the robbers, the robbers are escorted to jail.  The robbers can stay in jail for a minimum time limit (we made it two minutes, so the kids would not get bored).

If the robbers get away with the theft, they can bring the monies back to their hideout and stash it.  The robber hideout is “base”.  Robbers can also bust their partners or teammates out of the jail.  If no police are guarding the jail, one robber can save another robber.

The cops win if all of the robbers are jailed.  The robbers win if they confiscate “x” number of fake money (we did 20 leaves).  If you can find an enthusiastic group of kids, they might even help you keep the brown leaves off your lawn and they wouldn’t even know it; less raking for the grown ups!

Dallas CASA

2 Nov

A friend of mine who works for ORIX forwarded me this message from her company.  She sits on the ORIX Foundation board, and the Dallas CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) organization is very near and dear to their hearts.  Please read the following and help make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children by forwarding the message on to as many people as you can!  Check out www.orixfoundation.org for more info.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Can you spare a few minutes to change a life?

On an average day in Dallas County , nearly 2,000 abused and neglected children are in foster care because they cannot live safely at home.  These children are in crisis and desperately need powerful voices to speak for them.

Dallas CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a nonprofit organization of volunteers who are appointed by judges to do precisely that.  CASA volunteers make recommendations that help judges decide where the children can live safely and permanently.  For many children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant person in their lives during a frightening, uncertain time.

Since 1980, Dallas CASA volunteers have made a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of abused and neglected children.  With your help, we can continue to build a healthier, safer community for all our children.

Abused and neglected children need any help you can offer.  Please consider becoming a volunteer, telling others about CASA or spreading the word about our auxiliary groups, the Young Professionals and the Children’s Council.  One very simple way to help is to become part of Dallas CASA’s 30th Anniversary 30×30 Campaign.  Please take a few minutes to forward this message to 30 friends and colleagues and encourage them to learn more about Dallas CASA and ways to help abused and neglected children by visiting www.dallascasa.org.

Thank you for your time and commitment to changing the lives of children in our community.  You truly will be the difference in a child’s life.

Centipede

13 Oct

Recently my family and I spent the afternoon in Dallas celebrating my father-in-law’s 70th birthday with my husband’s family.  My in-laws live near Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.  If you’ve never been, it’s a state-of-the-art, beautiful children’s hospital which specializes in pediatric orthopedics.  They also have a really awesome playground!

The playground is huge, and is divided into several sections, which are all within a fenced boundary.  There is a playhouse, some statues, a restroom facility, a pavilion, a large playscape, a small playscape, a play train, monkey bars, bouncy see-saw, monkey rings, built-in musical instruments, tunnels, silly mirrors, and more.  The area is surrounded by huge trees, which provide a large amount of shade.

While playing this last time, we ran into a Nana and Peepaw, who were there with their four-year-old granddaughter.  Nana explained to us that they frequently drive in from Frisco to bring the children to this park.  (The park is open to the public, by the way, you do not have to be a patient to play.  It’s never crowded, perhaps because most people do not know about it.)

Anyhow, we had a total of four kids, ranging in ages from two to ten.  I was feeling energetic and full of inspiration, so I taught the kids how to play Centipede.  A bunch of the adults got involved too, which was really fun!  The kids started whining when we had to quit playing and go home!

Centipede is similar to a reverse of hide and seek.  One person is “it.”  The “it” person runs and hides somewhere really good while all of the remaining players stand in a designated area and count.  We counted to 30.  Once the players reach 30, everyone runs and tries to find the “it” person.  The goal is to find the “it” person discretely, because when you find them, you have to hide with them, and you do not want to give it away to the other players.  The object of the game is for everyone to find the “it” person and hide with them, creating a piggy backing or centipede, if you will!  The first person to find the “it” person gets to be “it” and hide the next round.

Centipede was particularly fun at this park because it was large enough to have a plethora of really fun/good hiding places.  The fact that so many adults got in on the action only made it even more exciting for the kids!

For more information about the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for children, visit their website at http://www.tsrhc.org/.

Kick the Can

15 Sep

Every time I think of my childhood, I smile!  I was raised in a suburb of Houston, and in those days, times were different.  I hung out with a gaggle of kids who were all about the same ages as my siblings and I.  In those days, we didn’t worry about being kidnapped, robbed, or beat up.  We were completely carefree.  In fact, we literally played outside during the summers from about 10am until dark.  Long before the days of  “helicopter” parenting, our own mom and dad let us run wild throughout our neighborhood.  In fact, we even rode our bikes up to convenience stores to purchase candy and ice cream!  Can you even imagine letting your grade schooler do that now?

In those days, the outdoors was our environment; it was our habitat!  We were forever swimming, biking, exploring, dancing, and playing games outdoors.  I hope to instill that same love for games and the outdoors in my own children.

This past weekend, I taught the kids to play Kick the Can!  It’s SO fun and anyone old enough to play Hide n Seek can play!  You create a large square or rectangular boundary (we used the natural square of the concrete driveway panel) for the “it” person to stand.  Someone kicks over an aluminum can and everyone runs and hides.  Again, the need to create a boundary is imperative.  The “it” person has to run, get the can, set it upright in the square, close their eyes and then count (we kept it simple to 10).  While the “it” person is counting, everyone else hides.  The “it” person, then has to look around the area, and if one of the players is spotted, they must come into the square.  Now, persons in the square may do whatever they need to (short of hurting the “it” person, or getting physical) to distract the “it” person.  If the “it” person is distracted, another player can run or sneak into the square and kick the can.  Once the can has been kicked, everyone inside the square is released, and is allowed to find another hiding spot.  A player wins when they have spotted every other player, and there is no one left to try and kick the can.

I’d love to hear from you!  What are some outdoor games you remember from childhood that you want to pass along to your own children?  Let’s maintain a love for nature, the outdoors, and get those bodies moving!  Don’t be afraid to play with your children.  Those are the times they will remember forever!

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