Saturday, August 30, 2014

H. A. & Margaret Rey Authors of the month! A. & Margaret Rey are the authors for the month for August!  They lived absolutely fascinating lives.  They were both born in Germany and also spent some time in Brazil. They both later sought refuge from the Nazis at Ch√Ęteau Feuga, an old castle owned by some friends in southern France.  As the Nazis approached Paris they both escaped on bicycles just hours before Paris fell.  They carried with them the manuscript for Curious George.  They then ended up in New York City and published Curious George.

When researching I found some fascinating resources.  The Jewish Museum in New York did an exhibit on their art.  It is wonderful to see their artwork.  The New York Times also did a piece on the exhibit and more about the Rey's lives.  The University of Southern Mississippi houses all of the papers of the Reys and has some information on their lives.

I have set up a Pinterest board with some ideas.  My favorite is this free preschool printable packet. I also love this unit study on Curious George and the Houghton Mifflin site with more information on Curious George.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Music Appreciation

On a happy note, let's talk about resources for teaching music.  I am musically challenged so I am always thinking of new ways to help expand my kid's musical horizons. publishing has a wonderful Music Appreciation Program.  It introduces children to seven different composers and includes biographies, a teacher's manual and music CDs.  It can be bought individually or as a set.  We are using it with some of our children next year.  Here are some more thorough reviews if you want more information. 

Classics for Kids is a wonderful web site for teaching kids about classical music.  The web site features music, videos, lesson plans, and newsletters you can sign up for.  It is a wealth of information.

I also love the Piano Guys.  They put together music videos with classical music while playing in interesting locations.   The song Frozen with Vivaldi is below. 

They also have a YouTube channel called Behind the Scenes where they tell how they made the video.

Some places to get you started.
~ Becky

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Find Your Homeschooler’s Career Path and They’ll Be Set For Life by JK Mergens

 Today's guest post is from JK Mergens  the author of the Learn Math Fast System.  I have had such a positive response to her first post I asked her to come back and visit.
  You can still purchase the books for $5 off with the code OHIO It is valid until August 31, 2014.  The coupon code is entered during checkout in the field below the "Phone Number" and "Email" fields, but it doesn't work with Paypal.  (Paypal customers may use  "Contact Us" form, tell JK the coupon code, and she will refund $5 to their account.) ) This post contains an affiliate link.  

Most little boys want to grow up to be a fireman.  Little girls typically want to be a veterinarian or nurse.  Never do you hear, “I want to be a Mechanical Engineer when I grow up.”  But if you have a child who enjoys math and is fascinated by machinery, then Mechanical Engineering may be the perfect career choice.  As homeschooling parents, the best thing we can do for our children is to help them select a career that interests them and then show them the path to get there.  
Our son grew up watching his Dad build houses, so the construction industry was an obvious career choice.  But our son was more interested in a job that climbs the corporate ladder than an actual ladder.  He really excelled in math, so my husband and I explained to him that an engineer is the person who uses math to make sure the houses will be strong enough to withstand high wind speeds and heavy snow loads.  His eyes popped open and from that moment on he knew he wanted to be a Structural Engineer.  Now we just had to figure out how to accomplish that goal.
We did some research and found that he would need to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering in order to become an engineer.  Before that, he would need to earn an Associate’s Degree; his path was set.  He graduated at 16, enrolled in college, took all the required classes, and by age 21 he had that degree. Today he is a successful Engineer. 
If you have a student who enjoys math, then engineering may be an excellent career choice.  There are several different types of engineering professions and knowing a little bit about some of them may help you find an intriguing career path for your math loving student.  
Transportation Engineer
Have you ever seen a map that shows a freeway with one of those “four-leaf clover” on/off ramp systems?  Have you ever noticed that some yellow lights stay on longer than other traffic lights?  And why do you suppose the angle of the road changes during a sharp curve?  It is all based on math.  A Transportation Engineer is the one who designs our roads and freeways and each decision is made using math.  If your child seems fascinated by this design, then this may be the career path for him/her.
Structural Engineer
Have you ever heard of someone wanting to remove a wall in their house, but uncertain whether or not it is a load bearing wall?  Well my son can tell you.  He combined his math skills with his construction knowledge and became a Structural Engineer.  He now spends his days calculating things like what size beams should be used in order for a building to be structurally sound.  How many and what size nails are required to make sure a house doesn’t sway in the wind or fall during an earthquake.  He can tell you how much concrete needs to be poured into the ground to make sure a tall sign won’t fall over.  He uses geometry to draw the construction plans and believe it or not, he uses algebra every day.   

Electrical Engineer
Have you ever blown a fuse in your house?  Did you have to go to the fuse box and flip a switch to restore the power?  That panel of circuits is what it takes to give your house enough power.  Now imagine the size of panel it must take to run a shopping mall.  That type of electrical panel needs to be designed by an Electrical Engineer.
An electrician runs wires through your house and hooks them up to the electrical outlets and lights.   An Electrical Engineer is the one who designs an electrical system.  For example, an airplane has miles of wires inside it to provide things like the little overhead lights and seatbelt signals.  An electrical engineer is the one who draws this system on paper for the electricians to install. 
To find out if you have a young electrical engineer, purchase a toy similar to this one at Toys R US and see how long it keeps his/her interest.

Civil Engineer
The next time it rains, have your children watch where the water goes.  Does it flow down the roof, into the gutters and then disappear into an underground pipe?  Does it run down the streets and drain into a steel grate?  Rain water has to be routed to the right place, so the streets and your yard don’t flood.  There are miles of pipes underground and they are all designed by a Civil Engineer.
Ask your kids where they think the water in the kitchen sink goes or where it came from.  They are both connected to another set of underground pipes.   A Civil Engineer has to make sure these pipes run downhill or are pumped uphill.  If you could see through the ground, you would see all kinds of pipes, tanks, and pumps.  That is called the infrastructure.  This is all the work of a Civil Engineer. 
If your family has ever been through a flood, explain to your child how it happened and see if he/she is interested in finding a cure.  Sometimes a tragedy can be the catalyst to a career path.
Mechanical Engineer
When I was a child, I watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on TV.  During a segment of that show called “Picture Picture,” Mr. Rogers would show footage of a factory at work.  I loved watching how the machines could do stuff like turn a roll of metal into soup cans and then seconds later they are labeled, sealed, and packed in a box.  Those machines are designed by Mechanical Engineers.  They use math and ingenuity to design machines with moving parts that will perform a certain task.  This is called automation.
One day when I was homeschooling my son, we spent a few hours making a little contraption that would ultimately turn on a little fan.  It started by dropping a ball down a plastic race car track.  That would trigger something else to cause a chain reaction until finally something heavy would land on the button that powered the fan.  It was much like the game “Mouse Trap.”
Try making a mini-factory or gravity-powered contraption during your homeschool day and see if it sparks any interest. We had a blast making ours.

Is Math Holding Your Student Back?
These are just a few examples of the many, many math related careers.  I encourage you to take a day to explore some career options with your children.  Look for their individual strengths and interests and then give them ideas of occupations that use those skills.  If math is holding them back from their dream job, try reading my series of math books, the Learn Math Fast System.  Even if your child is years behind in math, it’s not too late to give them the tools and power they need to get the degree of their choice.

  You can still purchase the books for $5 off with the code OHIO It is valid until August 31, 2014.  The coupon code is entered during checkout in the field below the "Phone Number" and "Email" fields, but it doesn't work with Paypal.  (Paypal customers may use  "Contact Us" form, tell JK the coupon code, and she will refund $5 to their account.) 

JK Mergens is the author of the Learn Math Fast System, a series of six books that teach 1st - 11th grade math using the unique methods she created to teach her son.  JK has been married to Mick, her high school sweetheart, for almost thirty years.  Together they homeschooled their only son in the beautiful state of Washington.  Her articles have been published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Red Deer’s Child Magazine, Edmonton’s Child Magazine, and in the June 2014 issue of the Washington State Homeschool Organization’s (WHO) Newsletter.  Her seventh book, High School Geometry, will be released later this year.  Please visit her website

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Authors of the Month for 2014-2015

We had so much fun last year with our authors of the month, I decided to do it again with 9 new authors.  I am looking forward to expanding our authors this year, and hopefully learning about some new titles. 

The intended audience of the books is PK-3rd, but my older kids love to revisit their favorites. I am going to gather the books from my personal collection and ask my local librarian to help me gather more by that author.  I am going to put them in a special tub/bin and keep them available for the month.  My hope is that by having them all gathered, I will be able to grab and read them.  I feel like personally I need to be more intentional about reading good literature to my kids.  When I ask them to grab a book we tend to read some less quality titles.  I am also hoping the older kids will read these to the younger ones as well.  

I will try to post these at the end of the previous month.  Hopefully you can join me on my journey. These are the authors I am planning on for this school year.  But, they are subject to change. I am choosing easy to find authors who have published many books. 

So here is the new list of authors for 2014-2015

September-H. A. Rey
October- Pat Hutchins
November- Cynthia Rylant
December-Chris Van Allsburg
January-Robert Munsch
February-  Kevin Henkes
March- Eve Bunting
April- Mem Fox
May- Leo Lionni


Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury by Mary Engelbreit

The Blessings of Friendship, created by New York Times bestselling author and artist Mary Engelbreit, is a playful and poignant treasury of poetry, Bible verses, and quotes that celebrate the joy of friendship. Children will learn from timeless sayings and poems what it means to be a friend - helping, encouraging, listening, sharing with, and loving one another. Colorful and whimsical illustrations bring these words to life, as children learn the value of friendship. Verses from the Bible give us instruction on putting others above ourselves, loving each other, and being kind to one another. This book will make you smile with each turn of the page, remembering old friends and new friends alike.

The Blessings of Friendship Treasury is a children's book illustrated by Mary Engelbreit.  The book is filled with bible verses and quotes of friendship by people such as George MacDonald, George Eliot, Edna Buchanan, and Charles Dickens.  The book is appropriate for children over five years old.  I believe little girls might enjoy it more, but there are illustrations of boys included in the book. 
I love Mary Engelbreit's illustrations.  The illustrations in this book are whimsical and heartwarming.  My favorite is the one of three girls as friends as children and then later as adults.  The book is filled with so many lovely kinds of people.  It is diverse racially and includes people with disabilities.   
The book is nice mix of bible verses, favorite sayings, quotes and wonderful illustrations.  I found myself going back to the different pages to revisit different quotes and find something new in the illustrations I had missed from the last time. 

I can recommend this book as one that you and a child will enjoy going through together  and sharing memories of the friendships in our life.  It would be a great way to talk about how to be a friend and how to make  lasting friendships.  I smiled as several friends came to mind as I flipped through the pages.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”