Monday, August 31, 2009

Make Friendship Bracelets

Friendship bracelets have been a favorite craft for kids for some time. The craft is also valuable for teaching fine motor skills, math skills, and language arts skills as well. Children involved in arts and crafts be shown how to use these same skills to make progress across the curriculum.

Friendship bracelets can be made from a variety of different materials. They are often accented with letter or other beads to personalize and decorate. Learning how to create these bracelets and making them is a way to increase fine motor skills for all children. The skills involved with reading and following directions, sketching, planning, and designing patterns that are more complicated involves language arts and math skills. It is important to teach children the math and language vocabulary without ruining the fun of the activity involved.

Resources for Making Your Own:

Beaded Friendship Bracelets Hands on Crafts for Kids

Beaded Friendship Bracelet Kaboose

BillyBear4Kids Friendship Bracelet Directions

BillyBear4Kids Friendship Bracelet Directions for Adding Letters

Cross Knot Friendship Bracelet

Floss Friendship Bracelet

DIY Friendship Bracelet

DLTK Basic Friendship Bracelets Directions

Family Fun Friendship Bracelets

Friendship Bracelet Instructions

Heather's Friendship Bracelet Directions

Kaboose Easy Braided Friendship Bracelet

Making Friends Chunky Friendship Bracelet

Making Friends Daisy Bracelet

Making Friends Diagonal Friendship Bracelet

Zoom Friendship Bracelets

Picture Credits miahalf0

Friday, August 28, 2009

Clothespins Craft and Learning Experience

The old fashioned clothespins, those without springs, have long been utilized for doll making. With the head, body and legs provided, children and adults merely had to provide arms, and clothing to have a toy ready to play. Modern crafters have created even more amazing dolls but children are still making the basic dolls to enjoy. These dolls become the characters of stories, move in to child created doll homes, and head off on child created adventures of all kinds.

Doll materials are easy enough to acquire. Craft stores, dollar stores, and even some department stores carry the old fashioned clothespins. The basic decorative aspects can come from many scraps and materials already found in the house. For those who want to purchase supplies and create more specific dolls the materials are readily available. I have included links and will be adding more as I find them on creative ways to make the dolls and to utilize them in fun play and learning situations.

About.Com Making Clothespin Dolls

Baby Clothespin Doll

Clothespin Bed

Clothespin Puppets

Cowboys and Other Professionals

Essortment Clothespin Dolls

Going Sew Crazy Clothespin Dolls

Halloween Clothespin Dolls

Instructables Clothespin Dolls

Kid's Birthday Party Clothespin Dolls

Kokeshi Doll

Pilgrim Clothespin Directions


This Little Project

Raggedy Ann Clothespin Doll Directions

Toy Soldier AllFree Crafts

Toy Soldier

Picture Credits: purejuice2 Eric Kilby

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Scout Projects

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts provide great opportunities for children to learn, grow, and provide life long memories and experiences. While many regions provide amazing training programs for leaders it is always helpful to know where to find scouting resources.

As a former Explorer Scout I am happy to provide these resources to leaders who need help. Yes, they do let the girls in.

Camp Songs

AllCrafts Crafts for Kids

Badge Matcher Girl Scout Badges Matched to Crafts

Boy Scout Trail

Chadis Scout Links

Culture Cottage

DLTK Scout Crafts

Exciting Scout Craft

Girl Scout Coloring Pages

Girl Scout, Brownie, and Daisy Crafts

Girl Scout Links

Girl Scout Resource Site

Guide Zone Girl Guides Girl Scout Resources

Kaboose Boy Scout Crafts

Kaboose Brownie Crafts

Kaboose Cub Scout Crafts

Kaboose Tiger Cub Crafts

Making Friends Scout Crafts

Retired Scouter

Scouter Network

Scouter Network Crafts

Scouting Resources Page

Scouting Resources for Boy and Girl Scouts

Scouting Web Daisy Resources

Scouting Web Craft

Ultimate Camp Resource

Picture credits:
brendaj Kurt Magoon

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

American Girl Doll Puzzle and Game Sites

The American Girl Dolls have long been a popular collectors item among children and adults. Adults also know that themes can help us engage children in learning and the American girls have engaged children in learning more about historical time periods associated with the dolls. Recently in doing some holiday research on games and puzzles I found some American doll sites and decided I would list them for those who might have an interest in using them with their children.


Paper Dolls from American Girl Site


Character Games American Girl Site

Addy's Games American Girl Site

Felicity's Games American Girl Site

Josefina's Games American Girl Site

Julie's Games

Kaya's Games American Girl Site

Kirsten's Games American Girl Site

Kit's Games American Girl Site

Molly's Games American Girl Site

Rebecca's Games American Girl Site

Samantha's Games American Girl Site

Word Scrambles

Addy's Word Scramble

Felicity's Word Scramble

Kit's Word Scramble

Molly's Word Scramble

Word Searches

American Girl Dolls

Our Favorite Dolls

Rebecca's Word Search

Make Your Own Puzzles

Make Your Own Word Search

How to Find American Girl Doll Puzzles, Games, and Crafts

Photo Credit Shoshanah

Monday, August 24, 2009

Use Real Math

There have been a number of math programs marketed with the concept of “real world math” as the core selling point. Few were ever really that close to the real world most of us recognize. As families continue to struggle with the economy there has never been a better time to teach real life math skills. This is never about frightening or burdening children with adult problems but teaching them to understand how math works in the real world.

As children get old enough to spend money they are old enough to start learning how money works. The older they get the more they can understand about money and budgets. While it is important not to scare or burden children with the worries of adult employment issues, failing cars, or shaky jobs, it is important in good times and bad for children to understand finite resources and the cause and effects that come with spending and saving.

When you are creating a master budget do consider how to have your children work with you on handling issues that impact their lives. I’m not advocating allowances or arguing against them. I’m discussing the money you spend on clothes and other items. As your kids get older work with them to understand how budget choices do have long term effects. For instance the impulse buy for the “must have jeans” can mean no other clothes for a period of time. While you may not actually make the purchase try journaling it and the purchase you actually make and see if the child still agrees in a month that the jeans were a better buy than the purchase you decided on. Kids do need to be taught not just impulse control but the consequences of having no impulse control.

Work on savings with children. Habits are hard to teach but once established are much easier to keep going in adult lives. Children who have never developed the habit of going to the bank and watching their savings grow often do not have that skill established going into adult life. Make the habit a life one which balances savings and expenses. If children are taught that all money has a balance between expenses that must be paid, charitable giving that is a responsiblity, optional spending, and savings, they have something to build on for the future. Most children do not have many expenses but saving for something they wish to purchase can be considered an expense that is separate from the other savings that are putting away. This can prepare them for the day they have real expenses that have to be paid before spending.

Emphasize the math used at home. All too often I hear even adult friends who are trained, skilled people who own their own businesses tell me they were never very good in school and they can’t do …. Well in fact to be successful in the businesses I know they are in they are very good at the subjects they claim not to have been good at school in, but they were never taught in the manner that made sense naturally to them. Math is found in the home everywhere. Make sure your kids are aware of the math they are doing every day even though it isn’t in a math book. Cook with them, work on craft projects, teach them to use tools, and your kids will absorb an amazing amount of math. Now just make sure they know what they have learned.

While doing more writing research I came across this free education site I thought people might find interesting. I will put it in the math resources as well.

Math in Daily Life

Picture Credit woodleywonderworks

Friday, August 21, 2009

Flat Stanley

I was introduced to Flat Stanley by a second grade teacher in the 1970’s. The 1964 story was imaginative and a great introduction to early chapter books. Along with the Littles, Flat Stanley was what got me hooked on the fantasy genre at an early age. The story was engaging and later got me interested in reading longer books like Stuart Little that had the same quality of adventure and strange unbelievable circumstances that some how seemed acceptable within the bindings of the book.

Since 1995 Dale Hubert has been running the Official Flat Stanley Project to promote literacy, interaction, and geography among children. There is his official site and hundreds of blogs and websites that work to promote the idea of children sharing some version of a Flat Stanley character with family and friends and receiving pictures and written details of their character’s travels. Stanley has traveled far and wide visiting with celebrities, Presidents, and even making a trip in the Shuttle.

This is a great project for schools, home schoolers and parents to consider trying with their own children. It is simple to start and a great way to open communication with relatives and friends that might not have an easy time starting a conversation with your child. The Flat Stanley project is relatively simple. The flat character is mailed to the recipient who has agreed to take pictures and document the journey. A virtual flat doll can be sent and documented as well. This is a great way for children and those who they are distant from to communicate. While someone may not normally talk to a child about their garden or normal daily activities a doll can open up communication and children do seem to be more interested in Gram’s garden when Stanley or Jane is there. (Children can name the doll what ever they wish.) It is also a way to introduce the child to an area they may not get to visit often. Local areas which we are used to seeing all the time can be interesting for kids to see pictures of especially when attached to a doll’s adventure.

I found some unique patterns for the doll to choose from and you are encouraged to make your own. Dale Hubert is even moving to travel bears and I’ve included that link here. Consider a small toy that has a connection with the child and the adults that will be communicating and that can become their connection for writing to each other. A beanie dog is welcome more places than a real dog and its regular adventures can become a means of regular communication between adult and child. Just a note about communication, adults need encouragement to continue the process. If your child is not responding to the activity it can be hard to get the other party to continue. It does not require a huge response. You can write what your child dictates, have your child draw pictures, and ask questions. However, it is hard to continue with no response at all. Read More

Flat Stanley Information

Flat Stanley Curriculum

The Official Flat Stanley Project

Boston Globe Article "Where in the World is Flat Stanley?"

Yahoo Flat Stanley Groups

Flat Travelers Homeschool

Flat Travelers

Flat Stanley Materials

Create a Journal

Flat Stanley CD Travel Case

Flat Stanley Journal

Flat Stanley Journal Part 1 Flat Stanley Journal Part 2

Flat Stanley Story Paper

Flat Stanley Story Paper

Flat Stanley Templates

Flat Stanley Template

Flat Stanley Double Sided Template

Flat Stanley Template Official

Making Friends Templates

Travel Teddy

Flat Stanley Suggestions For Organization

Bella Online Article

Flat Stanley Sample Letter

Flat Stanley Sample Letter for Participants

Other Flat Stanley Activities

Flat Stanley Activities from abcteach

Flat Stanley Quiz

Picture credit konaboys

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Literacy Improvement Using Extended Family

Some relatives more than others are willing to be involved with children’s education in a productive manner when they are given a direction or specific method to “plug in” to help. When a specific path is provided it can provide less friction and positive outcomes.

One area literacy experts are still pushing is encouraging parents not to abandon is reading aloud to children when children have mastered decoding. While children should be increasing the amount of independent reading they do, it is important that children still be exposed to books at higher comprehension levels and are still hearing models of decoding. Reading aloud provides both activities.

It is also important to vary the materials children have access to in order to insure that they are developing reading comprehension skills in all genres of fiction and non-fiction literature. As adults we tend to have our own preferences and these may or may not influence our child’s choices. However, introducing them to people who do read and enjoy genres that are different than what we are naturally drawn to can help children learn to enjoy different types of literature.

One book I would strongly suggest parents read is Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook. This give parents great strategies and specific resources on continuing the read aloud process. It also can be useful in helping engage extended family in choosing books to share with your child.

Not all relatives are going to get on board but many will if you can make the commitment simple and easy to handle. Even for distant relatives there are many technologies available that allow them to share a book with a child with or without a visual.

Also consider answers to those challenging what to get the child for birthday and Christmas questions. Some relatives truly do not know how to approach shopping for a child. Consider some easy literary options. Magazines are easy for most adults to purchase subscriptions for and many age with the child. You will need to tell the person when the child is ready for the next level but this can be a great learning opportunity for your child and a simple and often not overly expensive way for a relative to remember your child’s special dates. You can click this link to find some of the magazine links but there are many magazines for children that follow general and specific interests.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to School Math Warm Ups

Athletes know that it is hard to start running hard from a “cold start.” One should stretch and warm up before beginning any athletic exercise. Getting kids ready for school is really no different. Sending them back into school with a cold start can be very hard on many students. Give them a positive start to the school year with some warm ups.

Find age appropriate natural ways to reintroduce or continue to practice summer math activities. There are many household activities that require math. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, and house repairs are the most obvious. Many children’s games quickly fall into math practice. Children can be helped to remember math facts, measurement, fractions, geometry, and yes even algebra with some creative approaches.

Consider using math websites or other games to give children a chance to review or preview next year’s coming math attractions. This isn’t about drill and kill but more of that athletic stretch and preparation. The mind is reacquainting itself with old material and previewing new material that is coming. This is a chance for parents to find sites that will be useful in the coming year should your child need additional practice or challenges to stay motivated in learning.

This need not be a long procedure but a short time spent can produce dividends.

The following links are to areas on this blog that have math links sorted that you can use with your child to review, preview, or teach new math lessons.
Math Links

Multi Age Sites

Early Childhood Sites

Photo credit: whgrad

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Teach Children Sequence Skills

Sequencing skills are important across the curriculum. The ability to organize data in order is important not only in reading but critical for math, science and social studies as well. Teaching children this skill in fun, age appropriate manners early on helps children not to see this as a “new” skill but like many other skills just one that gets more complicated as they continue to mature.

There are packaged programs to introduce sequencing skills but photographs are a simple way to start with sequencing activities. Take pictures of simple activities, laminate them, and then use them as a fun activity with your child. Try to have them figure out what order things should happen in. Choose natural activities that your child is familiar with and those you are trying to teach like shoe tying.

This can also be a fun way to introduce young scientists to observation. When growing plants or doing other fun science activities take pictures of the activities. Show the seed the day it was planted, the day it emerges and so forth. Now you have your own plant cycle sequence cards to have your young scientist practice with which makes the process even more connected to the learner. The same can be done during any other science experiment. After the experiment is done, the pictures can serve as a great review lesson on what happened during the experiment.

Comics can also be a fun way to work on sequencing. Comic strips generally have a clear progression and kids can have fun putting together the strips in order to tell the story. Again laminating or contact paper makes these activities work better.

For those looking for commercial products there are plenty available. I have some listed below. There are plenty of other products available.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Help Your Child Get Ready for the Back to School Essay

In many schools some version of the Back to School essay is standard. It generally has something to do with what the child did during summer vacation. For some students the “essay” is merely a few sentences strung together to reintroduce the concepts of brainstorming and sentence structure. For others it is a more detailed assignment to provide a writing sample for the beginning of the year. What ever the level of expectations for the assignment, parents can help children prepare in a simple, easy, and relaxing manner before returning to school.

Before panic emerges we will not be discussing essay writing or practice essays in this blog. That is counter productive and tends to just make kids frustrated and bored with the whole writing process before they even get to school.

Instead I am going to talk about ways to activate prior knowledge. One of the challenges as teachers when we use this topic is while many children have had active summers, when presented with a topic about summer say they did nothing. So one of the first steps in helping your child prepare is to talk about what your child enjoyed this summer. It should a casual conversation, not a quiz. Try to generate some ideas and stories about the things you did as a family, adventures at camp, outings with friends, or trips to see family. These are things you want to be fresh in your child’s mind.

Take out some family photographs from the summer. Pictures are a great way to trigger memories and get children talking. They can also be a wonderful way to work on categorizing. Talk about the photographs as stories. Younger children may pick one photograph that they will write their sentence on. Older children may end up with three photographs that best tell the story of summer and these will be the three main ideas. Again you are not working on writing at all at this point just generating memories and helping to organize ideas into categories.

This may be a great time to make a summer scrapbook with your child organizing photographs and having your child help label them and putting descriptions about what happened where to help all of you remember later. You can transcribe what the child says. The focus at this point is oral generation of stories. If the child wants to write by all means encourage it. However, the key is generating ideas and stories, not forcing the writing process. The more able your child gets at generating stories orally, the easier it gets to work with moving that towards the physical act of writing. If you can improve the rehearsal process, you can have a wonderful impact on the actual writing that occurs.

Even if the child’s teacher decides not to use this assignment this year, you have helped your child organize summer memories and taught valuable strategies for brainstorming and prewriting for future endeavors. The more you rehearse organizational strategies the more natural they become.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Use Local Sources to Teach Kids about Government

I certainly encourage parents to teach children the structure of our government. There are some curriculum resources in the curriculum links to help you do that. I have included the link below. There is nothing more annoying than when our politicians from both parties misquote the Declaration of Independence for the Constitution. Even my fourth grade students used to ask me why adults did not know the difference between the two documents. So I certainly encourage parents to explore these issues with their children regardless of whether their children are taught at home or in school settings.

However, government can be an abstract concept for kids to understand. Many of the issues are distant and far away. Seeing government in action can be challenging. Local government is generally accessible for most people. Many selectman and city councilors are open to meeting with local constituents and future voters to discuss how government works. Scout groups often are one of the few groups that take advantage of the opportunity to meet with local politicians and learn how selectman and councilors make local government work. At the local level it is often a little less about party and more about issues that divide people. It is a chance for adults and children to learn about how local government really works.

Have you had questions for years about how your schools are financed? This can be the chance not only for you to learn but to educate your child about school boards and how they work together but separate from other governing boards in local cities and towns.

Not everyone is prepared to drive their children up to the state capital to see their local state representatives or to make appointments with their Federal Congressional representative or Senator. However, it is generally fairly simple to pick up the phone and make an appointment in your city or town to meet your councilor or selectman and to have a chance to get educated on local government. Especially with elections approaching you may find many willing to speak at home school groups or local schools about how local government works. Just ask.

Social Studies Links on this Site

Picture credit Svadilfari

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pretend and Creative Play Does not have to be Expensive

Children love to play house, store, and imitate adult real life activities. This has happened for centuries. Our store was an old split tree on a hill next to my parent’s house. It worked wonderfully as our own personal “Country Store” to pretend we had products to sell and exchange. Right next to the Country Store was a home with a built in cradle formed from tree roots. Pretend was more of a necessity than a gift from my parents but I have never regretted the lessons learned.

Parents today can give kids the same kinds of pleasures of teaching them how to create fun from virtually nothing. Have you ever noticed how much excitement comes from an appliance box? Children are naturally drawn to boxes and the bigger the better as they create homes, car parks, and all kinds of magical places from them.

Playing store has long been a tradition among children. While it has become a marketing bonanza for toy makers store can still be a great learning and play activity with little or no cost to families. One does not need a plastic store to play store. One can use a table, a tree stump, or any available space and a store is created. Pretend money or play money can be used. Dollar stores have been one of the best bargains I have seen for acquiring play money for children if you want to improve math skills while playing. Save the pieces from old board games that have fallen apart. There are always ways to recycle them into new activities. Just bag them and place them in an activities box for these occasions.

Yard sales are great resources for finding items to add to creative play activities. While fake food and other items can be fun, you may also be surprised at what inexpensive “real” items you can pick up for your children to play with at these sales. Instead of expensive child plates that are sold at toy stores look for couples who are upgrading their cookware and serving dishes. Often those first sets are unbreakable dishes that were given to them that are still in great shape. These can be great learning tools for children. Want some mixing bowls to try science experiments in that you don’t mind seeing destroyed? This can be the place to find them. Want plates you don’t mind being outdoors for an afternoon play tea? Again these can be a great bargain sites. Dress up items are another reason to check yard sales.

Just remember the focus of the activity is creative play. Kids don’t require too many things to make it come together.

Picture credit: twodolla

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keeping Children Active for a Life Time

Whether your children are in school or being schooled at home activity is an important part of a child’s education. Many schools have continued to restrict active time cutting recess and physical education periods. Parents need to help children find activities that help them meet that need to be active for health and educational reasons. We know physical activity has an impact on both.

Old Simple Entertainments are making a Come Back
It has been a pleasure to see self sustaining activities return to children’s activities. Hop scotch and jump ropes have returned to playgrounds. I have heard young children repeating jumping songs I have not heard in years. Books are actually being published to teach songs that have fallen to the side as the tradition was neglected. One of the reasons I like these activities is that they are independent, self-sustaining and require little adult intervention. Children can do them alone or with others. Some organization can be required to introduce children to outdoor independent games who have never experienced them, but once games appear, children begin to naturally organize themselves and continue to play.

Not Every Child is an Athlete
Many children enjoy enrolling in competitive sports, playing the game, and improving their skills. Win or lose they have a chance to play a favorite game. Not every child is drawn to sports but it does not mean they may not need assistance finding physical activities to pursue. Helping kids find a life a physical activity that they can pursue over a life time can be great for athletes as well. Not everyone has the ability or the time to commit to playing team sports over a life time but can enjoy a variety of activities that can be scheduled around an individual’s personal life and commitments.

Be willing to try a variety of activities. Swimming and swimming related activities are a great introduction for many kids. My Mom, sister, and I started water aerobics while still living at home. While I don’t have the opportunities to take classes at the moment, I still do practice water running and the other exercises I learned any time I get pool time. Many people have similar experiences with other activities once learned but carried on periodically through a life time.

Tennis, martial arts, tai chi, yoga, camping, hiking, biking, boating, gardening, and thousands of other activities are all things that benefit from planting seeds when children are young. Some will continue consistently and others return to skills long forgotten as adults with some of the basics still in place. Taking the time to expose children to a variety of activities gives them a basket to choose from over the course of their lives and encourages them to continue learning new activities to keep active and fit.

Just to be clear I am not advocating over scheduled children filled with formal lessons and a daily schedule. Many of these activities can actually be family friendly and fun to learn together. One of the reasons I think I have stuck with water aerobics for so long is the fond memories I do have of learning with my Mom and my sister. It was one of the few times the three have done something like that together. I mentioned camping and hiking because again that was a family experience for me. My older brother is the one who taught me about hiking and camping and the independent activities I did later were a result of the confidence he instilled in me with his lessons. This should be adding more quality family time, not decreasing it.

Check resource section for outdoor activities
How to Help Your Child Get More Physical Activity

Picture credit: joyosity

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Halloween Crafts Teach Math and Language Art

I have always been aware of the benefits of combing art and music in the curriculum. I have had the benefit of working with some very gifted teachers in art that created some amazing projects that brought the curriculum to life in ways I never could have imagined. Music teachers have taught me much about the wisdom of using music across the curriculum and been great resources for providing that opportunity. Schools traditionally do many arts and crafts type projects but we rarely have the time, talent, or resources to teach traditional crafts and research their benefits for teaching math and language arts.

Recently I have been researching plastic canvas, knitting, sewing, and crocheting for other writing projects I do. I did not see much of a tie between my blog and the work I have been doing until I started finding blogs that are encouraging parents and others to teach children the traditional crafts. Then I got to thinking about not just the practical life skills that come with knowing how to do these skills but the real ties between skills that are required and learned in these crafts and our struggle to find ways to teach these very same skills to our kids.

Math skills:


The most obvious is graphing. While more books are being printed on teaching and practicing graphing skills the best methods are still finding ways that kids see the practical use of the skill. While researching an article for plastic canvas the graphing implications became obvious since many of their charts are color coded. As children progress in learning knitting, crocheting, and plastic canvas they will need to get better at reading pattern charts which work in a very similar manner as coordinate graphs. I know when I have done counted cross stitch I have actually created more of a coordinate graphing labeling system to help me track. I would suggest teaching the craft first. However, when children have mastered the process, it is not a bad idea to explain that they have also increased their understanding of graphing and demonstrate how.

Sewing is one of the great practical ways to teach measurement. There is a purpose and goal to learn measurement and practical steps to learning it. Kids who want to learn to sew are motivated to learn the math skills embedded in sewing and there are many more than I will list here. The other crafts we discussed also require measurement and with motivation comes mastery.

Language Arts:

Following Directions:
I can’t tell you how many books and lesson plans are written on this topic. However, crafts provide the perfect motivation and natural consequence lessons on the market. Crafts require a student to be able to follow direction and there generally are natural consequences when the directions are not read, comprehended, and followed.

Cause and Effect:
As stated above the implications are clear. Students can see the positive and negative outcomes of their actions and identify the reasons (cause) and (effect) of those actions.

For other types of Halloween craft ideas to use with children look here.

I’m likely to broaden this into a fuller article later but the gist of it is clear. Teaching craft skills and then showing kids how these skills relate to specific learning goals is a wise choice. Scout groups often choose craft projects as an activity. I know home school groups do as well since my Mom was recruited by a neighbor to teach knitting first to her child and then to a larger group when it proved productive. Parents do have options for teaching their own children. I’m including links for learning plastic canvas, knitting, and crocheting. I’ve also included a links to articles for Fall Knitting and Crochet Projects and Plastic Canvas Halloween projects. Read more here, here, and here.

Learning Plastic Canvas

Knit and Crochet for Halloween

Teaching Crochet

Lion Brand Learning to Crochet

Learning to Knit

Lion Brand Learning to Knit

Picture credits: Teddy BearBarking Dog Designs flickr.comBat noricum

Monday, August 10, 2009

Need Help Finding Resources?

At the present time I have no plans to evaluate specific home school programs. There are many websites and blogs far more qualified to handle that task than I. From time I will discuss specific curriculum materials and you will see advertisement for products. However, if you have specific questions or interests in curriculum materials or strategies that you can not find answers to please feel free to leave a comment in the curriculum section you are searching or on this blog entry and I will do my best to help you find answers.

I make the same offer to teachers and parents who do not home school. If you do not find the materials you are searching for please leave me a note in the comment section describing what you are looking to find. I make no promises but I will do my best to help.

In conjunction with my other writing projects I am continuing to find new resources and material for articles. You will see this in updated links on the curriculum pages and new articles that appear. It is always helpful to know what people want and need as well.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back to School

This blog has a readership of public, private, and home schooling members. Most articles and links apply across the board, some more to specific groups.

Back to school is a term most strictly applied to those returning to school, but many home schoolers are also returning to a fall schedule, looking at curriculum, and school supplies for a new year. The suggestions in this article may or may not prove useful.

For those returning to a school schedule this may be a good time to think about reviewing and previewing prior to a new school year. Summer is always a good time to find activities that fit a child’s learning style. There are links for all curriculum areas on this blog. If your child struggled with a subject last year, this can be a great time to find an alternate approach to learning it. This can also be a great time to preview any challenges you might be headed for next year. Some districts post curriculum online, I will also list Ohio and MA frameworks links to give you some general ideas of what may be covered at specific grade levels. It can give you a starting point.

Consider making some file folder games to help get back into the spirit of learning:
File Folder Activities

Tips for saving money on school supplies:
Shop Wisely for School Supplies

How to get started on a schedule again:
Start a Back to School Schedule

Resources for the New School Year
Resources to Improve the School Year

Start the School Year with the Right Approach Improving Communication


Ohio Frameworks

Massachusetts Frameworks

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fall Fun

While we are still in the summer heat planning ahead is never a bad idea.

Fall can be a great time for family activities as the weather cools here in New England. Fall fairs, farm activities, and the beauty of the changing seasons provide a great opportunity to get out and get active. I will be listing local sites that are hosting special activities as I find them. Read more..

This site actually lists places across the United States for summer, fall, and even Christmas Tree acquisition.

Find a Farm Resource

Even with the great fall weather there are always those days that are not so friendly to outdoor activities. The resource section of this article has fall crafts, games, puzzles, and coloring sheets to do on the indoor days.

Coloring Sheets

Coloring Book Fun



Fall Coloring sheets and Crafts

First School



Artists Helping Children


Idea Box Fall Crafts


Kids' Turn Central Fall Activities

Step by Step Leaf Crafts

File Folder Games

Leaf Matching Game

Make a Leaf Matching Game

Numbers 1-10 Part 1 Game Pieces Numbers 1-10 Game Pieces Part 2

Pumpkin Patch Match

Scarecrow Colors

General Ideas

Activity Idea Place Leaf Ideas

Leaf Guide

Language Arts

Alphabet Dot to Dot

Apple Alphabet Dot to Dot

DLTK Printable Book

Enchanted Learning Fall Printable Books

Fall Poem and Color Sheet

Riddle Coloring Sheets

Word Ladders

Word Mining


Addition Picture Math

Addition Picture Math 2

Counting Leaf Book to Print bry backmanor

Color by Numbers Leaf

Counting Coloring Leaves Sheets

Kid Zone Autumn

Phonics Sheet Initial Sounds

Subtraction Picture Math

Subtraction Picture Math 2

Subtraction Picture Math 3

Puzzles and Games

Activity Village Mazes, Scrambles, Word Search





Word Search


Step by Step Songs and Fall Crafts

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Strictly by the Book Discount Books in Salem, NH

I am always on the look out for good shopping sites to buy books and resources for friends and family. I came across this store as a temporary store in the former Linens and Things building in Salem, NH after last Christmas. I still have books saved from that shopping excursion to use for the coming holiday season. The bargains were amazing. I was disappointed that it was only a temporary store.

Well that has changed. The store now has a lease and is doing regular business at the same location 290 S. Broadway, Salem, NH. It is near the Best Buy and Michael’s store in the same shopping plaza.

This is not a typical store but a clearance store for books. However, if you are a bargain shopper and willing to hunt this could be a great opportunity. There are typically great bargains on children’s books. They seem to have some connection with a Scholastic supplier as I have picked up quite a few Scholastic titles there. Last winter there were more adult titles, this summer more children’s titles. I suspect those who live around the area have the best opportunity to find regular bargains, those of us with limited visits find what we find in our more hit or miss visits.

Those who are looking for a traditional book store will not find it here. This is a store that requires searching. You will not be guaranteed specific titles. If you are looking for general age and categories you can find some amazing bargains. With books marked down 80% of the cover price it is well worth the effort involved to find those treasures. Happy hunting!

Eric Carle photo courtesy of bobcatrock

Clifford photo courtesy of Manchester Library

Monday, August 3, 2009

Vacations can be Fun Learning Opportunities

My husband and I returned from a New Hampshire vacation this weekend rested, relaxed, and energized to begin the work week. It is amazing what a week away from the world can do for your perspective and attitude towards the world.

What occurred to me on my vacation is how many learning opportunities were available to families across the curriculum. Learning was being continued in fun, exciting ways engaging parents and children in exploration of science and social studies with lots of math, language arts, music, and art thrown in for good measure.

The historical sites were obvious locations for learning opportunities. Some had wonderful prepared learning opportunities and others required more preparation and engagement from the participants. A tour of Castle in the Clouds provided a great example of directing children to specific learning objectives before the lesson begins. Each person was handed a tour package but in our group those with children had a specific paper handed directly to children in the group. When I pulled the package apart later I realized that while the adults were given a detailed map and description of the room, a creative planner had designed a pamphlet that listed specific items for visitors to find on the other pamphlet. It was a great method to get children’s attention and watching several groups it became the focus of a hunt to find the specific objects in the home.

This is a great strategy to use with kids if you have the materials to prepare ahead of time when visiting any historical site. If you can use the Internet to access specific highlights to create a list of “treasures” your child must locate during the visit, it helps keep them focused and interested in what is not always their first choice for a vacation stop. If the child has access to a digital camera and the site allows it, taking a picture of the “treasure” can become part of the game. I will confess I used the list we had as a review after the fact to remember what we had seen. This is something to do with your kids as well. It is a way to encourage memory using the list and any pictures to help them remember what items were and what they did. If you are visiting a popular site search the Internet before your trip. Sometimes the museum or school groups create guides and games to help engage students. They are generally free to download. Consider sharing yours with others.

Castle in the Clouds