October 2012

Use Education.com for science fair projects

Homeschoolers love discovering science hands-on

Education.com is a great resource for homeschoolers. One section that I have been taking advantage of lately is their vast amount of science fair projects. My daughter is a hands-on kind of kid and many of the concepts taught in her Apologia science book can be demonstrated with science projects I find on Education.com's website.

You don't have to be planning a science fair (although homeschoolers can get together to have one) to use these experiments. Simply search the subject your child is learning about and scroll through the available project until you find one that interests you. 

It's never too early to start homeschooling

Children can learn before they even begin speaking.

I'd like to say that I started my daughter's education when she was only five months old. I don't think homeschooling just includes grades kindergarten through twelfth grade. It begins the second you start educating your children at whatever age that may be.

One of the first things I did with my daughter was purchase a book that only had one object on each page. For example, one page would have a ball on it while the page opposite it had a picture of a puppy dog. I'd show my daughter the pictures one at a time and point to them. Then I'd help her point to them. It wasn't long before she could point to the correct object herself. This was long before she could even verbally form words.

Consider lending your talents to other homeschoolers

Each homeschooling parent has their own unique talent.

If there is one thing I learned about homeschooling, it's that each educating parent has their own set of unique talents. When parents get together every so often, they can use these talents for the good of more than just their own children. Their children will also benefit from the talents of others.

My daughter's best friend has a mother who taught elementary school for over 9 years before retiring to homeschool her own daughter. She is currently holding an election class for 5 homeschoolers plus her daughter. My daughter is having a great time learning about the upcoming election process. The election class is only running a period of 6 weeks total, so it wasn't a huge time commitment, but it did present a unique learning opportunity for those 5 kids.

I'm the mom that doesn't mind getting a bit messy. This means the homeschoolers my daughter is friends with come to my house for pumpkin carving and painting, cooking baking at Christmas, and egg dying at Easter. Again, not a big time commitment.

The Communist Manifesto

A book that changed the world – For better or worse?

Socialism and communism seem to be rather fashionable these days. Every political rally has at least one booth promoting it. These political/economic systems get mixed up with ideas of social justice, which is odd because communist regimes in the 20th century have been the most brutal and murderous in history. It makes me wonder how many of these young communists have actually read Marx and Engles’ Communist Manifesto.

Get ready for All Hallow's Read

Plenty of time to buy up old Goosebumps books!

Two years ago, Neil Gaiman wrote a blog post in which he proposed that people give away scary books for Halloween. The idea caught fire on the internet, and has been a resounding success in the last two years. You still have a few weeks to get ready for this fun new tradition!

Just to be clear, no one (not even Neil Gaiman) (ESPECIALLY not Neil Gaiman) is advocating that you should give away books instead of candy at Trick or Treat time. However, you can certainly make books available in addition to candy. Many people have found that the books they gave away were - if you can believe it - as popular, if not more popular, than the candy they were handing out.
 
If you decide to give away books to kids who knock on your door, be sure that the books are age appropriate. Don't give a Goosebumps book to a four year old. That being said, kids in the appropriate age range (if in doubt, ask the attending parents) go ABSOLUTELY NUTS for Goosebumps books, and other serial books in that vein. 

Banned Books Week sheds light on censorship in America

Don't let the censors win!

Every day across the nation, books are being challenged and removed from public and school libraries. Why challenge a book? The people trying to enforce this censorship truly believe they are doing it for all the right reasons. For the most part, to protect the children. Protect them from dangerous ideas, dangerous thoughts, dangerous information.

But what it really boils down to is, someone complains to the library because they feel that The Hunger Games (which never mentions race, although it describes Katniss as "olive skinned" and Rue as "dark skinned") is racist. And the librarian who receives this complaint has to take it seriously.

Homeschooling fun in October

Fun fall activities you can do with your kids.

October is my favorite month when homeschooling. The weather begins to cool down and we spend more time enjoying the outdoors than any other time of year. The bugs are gone, the sun isn't making us sweat and the leaves are changing to shades of red, orange, and yellow.

There are plenty of activities you can include among your lessons throughout the month of October. Here are just a few of them:

Hayrides and pumpkin patches: Most farms offer free hayrides down to their pumpkin patches. Kids get to roam through the pumpkins and choose one to take home (for a fee of course). We always like to gather one pumpkin for carving and another for painting. Then we decorate the porch steps with them.

Corn mazes: Some corn mazes are simply mazes, while others have clues throughout them that kids need to put together to form a puzzle. Others, yet, are turned into haunted mazes at night if you like that sort of thing.

Moby Dick stages two modern comebacks

Ahoy!

Melville's classic tale of obsession, beloved by the literary set if loathed by high school kids being compelled to read it against their wishes, is set to receive not one but two modern updates next year.

The first is a version Vulture is calling "Moby Dick in Space." They describe it as "a psychological thriller about a space captain seeking space revenge on a space creature," which pretty much makes it sound like a certain recent Futurama episode. Officially titled Mobius, the movie is written and directed by Lynne Ramsay who recently finished We Need To Talk About Kevin.
 
The second Moby Dick project is called Lost Horizon, and is set to become an NBC series. Described as "a modern-day take" on the legend, rumor has it that M. Night Shyamalan may be directing the pilot episode.
 
The idea of M. Night Shyamalan directing Moby Dick is pretty mind-bending. I wonder what the twist will be at the end? Will it turn out that WE are the white whale, something along the lines of "To Serve Man?" (Spoiler alert: It's a cookbook.)
 
Originally published in 1851, Moby Dick has a lot to say to modern audiences. Everyone is aware (if only vaguely) that the book is about a sea captain who is obsessed with hunting down and killing the white whale that got away. But Moby Dick isn't just a high seas chase.