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How to Have Fun on a Rainy Day

Summer doesn’t guarantee 100% sunny skies. These spontaneous and educational activities from Teri’s blog are perfect for the mild, tropical storms that breeze through in the summer months!

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It was a dark and gloomy day. No, really. The skies were filled with clouds, the air cool, and the sounds of the rain hitting the windows of our home was musical. I considered finding a show or movie for the girls to watch on Netflix while I did some house cleaning, but, instead, I chose to do something I had never allowed the girls to do. 

Rain, rain we want to play!

When it comes to playing outside and getting dirty, I am usually the parent who is uptight and would my kids find an alternative way to play. This day, I said, “What the heck!? Let’s learn how to have fun on a rainy day!”, grabbed the girls’ play shoes, opened the garage door and said “Run out there!” The girls were running in the rain and yelled with excitement every time a raindrop hit their skin. Their dream is to splash in the largest puddle ever and I often have to tug them away from the ones they spot when we are out and about after a rainfall, otherwise, they would almost dive in them! Had I known playing in the rain would make them feel like they were having the time of their life, I would have allowed them the opportunity sooner.

How to Have Fun on A Rainy Day

How to Have Fun on A Rainy Day

What is it?

I like to turn as many moments of the day as possible into learning time. Once we dried off and and the girls caught their breath, we started discussing what rain is and its origin. We looked at a couple pictures of clouds and I gave my best answers to their questions, but in the end, I leaned on a tool that has never steered me wrong.

Videos that Helped

When in doubt of how something works, look it up! My girls love to watch videos, so I love to find educational and kid-friendly YouTube videos . We used two videos, to help facilitate some fun and a lesson about rain. The second video is one of our favorites and I have used it for learning time for over a year to teach the girls about the weather.

Where Does Rain Come From?–Cine Kids

How’s The Weather?–Super Simple Songs

After running around in the rain and learning a bit about it, it was craft time!

Rainy Day Craft

Supplies We Used

  • Cupcake Wrappers
  • Glue Sticks
  • Cotton Balls
  • Q-Tips
  • Watercolor Paint
  • Small Cup of Water
  • Printer Paper (legal size, but 8.5 X 11 size works just fine)

How to Have Fun on A Rainy Day

What We Did

We took our everyday household supplies and created a rainy day scene. We took our cupcake wrappers and folded them in half and glued them to the paper. What is an umbrella without a handle? I drew umbrella handles and then left the rest of the craft up to the girls. With the cotton balls the girls created a sky similar to the one we had that day. With the q-tips and paint, they finished their craft by adding raindrops.

Rainy Day Crafts

Our afternoon of fun and learning was all created on a whim. What could have been a day to stay inside and possibly go looney with all the energy we had stored up, we decided to have sporadic fun and make the best of the gloomy day. Rain, rain we loved our play! We learned exactly how to have fun on a rainy day.

What is your favorite thing to do with your time (and with kids) on a rainy day?

About the All-Star Blogger

Teri WattersI’m Teri, a married stay-at-home-mom of two toddlers who wants to share my journey as I experience being a mommy, a wife, and life. Hopefully I can encourage you and your family to choose what is best for you and to not be afraid to be different!

 

 

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6 Easy Ways to Make Learning Engaging & Interactive

Hello fellow Educents lovers! I’m Jessica, the author-creator behind Joy in the Journey. I believe that learning is such an adventurous journey and I am dedicated to creating fun and engaging products that will simplify your lesson planning and enrich your teaching!

Educents Blog (16)

In my 5th grade classroom, I have found that the number one cause of disruption in my classroom isn’t “bad” or “misbehaving” students – it’s students who aren’t engaged. Involving the students in the learning will increase class participation and will motivate students, deepening their comprehension and retention.

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This is a common quote, but it’s used often for a reason – it speaks the truth. Students often need to feel involved in the learning of new material in order for them to retain knowledge and deepen their understanding of the concept.

You may be thinking, “I agree – but HOW do I engage my students?”

True, engaging students is easier said than done.

That’s why I have come up with 10 easy ideas to implement in your home or classroom that will make learning more ENGAGING and INTERACTIVE:

  1. Interactive Notebooks/Foldables

You’ve probably heard the buzz: Interactive Notebooks are taking the education world by storm. And for good reason: they are engaging, interactive, and a fun way to teach and review concepts. Interactive note-taking is basically what it sounds like: the students take notes on important vocabulary or concepts by writing on top of or beneath flaps that they have glued down in their journals.

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Here are some examples from my classroom:

I started out small: Last fall we used Interactive Notebooks in reading to discuss different story elements. In the Spring, I added in grammar journals to review the parts of speech. This year, I have also gotten a lot of value and important discussion started by incorporating Interactive Notebooks into our Bible curriculum (Bible Basics and Easter Foldables). I don’t do separate journals for science and history – we normally complete those by unit and just glue the foldables on a piece of construction paper or in a manila file folder.

I pass out the templates, the students cut them out and glue them into their journal. Then, during the lesson, we discuss the new or review information. Sometimes the answers will vary student to student, sometimes I have them work in pairs to write the definitions to important vocabulary words, and other times I dictate to the whole class what I want them to write. In the last case, I usually project the answer key on the board:

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My favorite part about the Interactive Notebooks is that it creates a built-in study tool that students can take home before a test without cramming or scrambling to fill out a lengthy study guide. They have done the work, have the information written down, and now just need to review it. For example, my students completed foldables for our Matter unit in science on a piece of construction paper (front and back). Then, a couple of nights before the test, they took home their foldables and “taught” their parents. No cramming, stressing, or late nights spent filling out a study guide. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!

Now, as a time-crunched teacher, you might be wondering when you’re going to fit in what seems to be such a time-consuming activity. At first, it does take time for your students to get the hang of it, but once they do, it becomes a valuable tool without taking up too much class time.

  1. File Folder Games

filefolder

File Folder Games are exactly what they sound like: games that are housed or glued into a file folder. File Folder games are readily available online (many for free), at education stores (Educents has them!), and even at the Dollar Store.

I use these in my classroom for early-finishers, for reinforcement of difficult concepts, and for a quick grab-and-go activities when I have a parent or tutor show up to help a student.

  1. Fly Swatters

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Fly swatters play a very important role in my classroom. Looking for a fun way to review math facts or important vocabulary? Instead of assigning another workbook page, write the answers to questions on the board, call a student up, and ask them the question. They can “slap” the answer with a fly swatter. To make it more exciting, pull two students up and make it a competition!

  1. SCOOT!

SCOOT is a game that can be used across the subject areas as a review or informal assessment. The game uses flash cards or task cards – but instead of the cards rotating from student to student, the cards stay fixed and the students move around the room. It gets them up, moving, and engaged in what they’re learning.

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Here’s how to play:

Place each card on a separate desk around the classroom. Give each student a tracking sheet. Have each student stand at a desk. Start the timer (I usually set it for 10 seconds or so) and have each student solve the problem at the desk they are standing at. When the time is up, call “SCOOT!” and have the students move to the next desk and solve that card. When the students have moved to all of the desks, have them check their answers against the answer key.

I have also done this when I want the students to look at their classmates’ projects. I set up the projects on desks around the room and have the students quietly rotate through the desks – saying “SCOOT” every 2-3 minutes

5. Shaving Cream

shaving

This year, shaving cream has become a staple in my classroom. Yes, real shaving cream. As in the fluffy stuff that men use to shave their faces with.

I first used it in a science lesson on clouds, but once my students loved playing with it so much, I decided to incorporate it into other subjects as well. I have the students clear off their desks completely and then squirt a small portion of shaving cream (just a little bigger than my fist) onto their desk tops. We then review spelling words or math facts using our fingers. At the end, we clean off the shaving cream and are left with sparkling clean desks and a good-smelling classroom! Plus the kids had way more fun than filling in a worksheet – another win-win-win!

6. I Have…Who Has?

I Have…Who Has? Is a fun game that requires content knowledge and expert listening skills. Here’s how it works: each student gets 1 card that has an answer on top and a question on the bottom. The students are listening for the question that they have the answer to and then pose a question to another classmate.

Here’s a visual to help explain:

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The game is played until all of the cards are read.

I usually use this as a test review. I take questions similar to those that will be on the test and use it as a refresher a day or two before the test. This gives the students an idea of what to study and also helps me to see if I need to review any specific vocabulary words or concepts.

I have created several “I Have…Who Has?” games to go with many topics.

Homophones:

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Sound:

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I have also created an EDITABLE file that you can use to customize for virtually any topic or subject. You can purchase it from my Educents storefront for only $5 and use it again and again.

Phew! Thanks for sticking with me – I hope you gleaned some good, practical, and easy-to-implement ideas from this post. Engaging students isn’t inherently hard, but it does take some planning and organization. Hopefully you can use a few (or all six!) of these ideas to create a classroom atmosphere that is fun, engaging, and interactive!

 

Jessica Lawler is a wife, passionate fifth grade teacher, new mom, blogger on Joy in the Journey, reader, cook, baker, crafter, and scrapbook enthusiast :)

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9 Tips For Homeschooling Your Child with Autism

Choosing to homeschool your child with autism is a big decision. Two of our four homeschooled children are on the spectrum and I’d like to share a few helpful nuggets of advice that might make your journey a little easier from the start.

1. Take Time Off

Many people homeschool their child with autism because they’ve tried the school system and it hasn’t been successful for them. You and your child may have built up negative associations with learning and just taking a week or two off to enjoy the change can do you both wonders. Go for walks, visit favorite places, paint, make music and read – whatever your child enjoys doing. These experiences lay the foundation for learning together at home.

2. Don’t Rush Into Buying Curriculum

Now that you’ve made the decision to homeschool, don’t make the mistakes we made. I immediately had timetables written up, materials purchased and tried to make our homeschool just like traditional school. Big mistake. Many of the resources are still unused because I bought them before discovering what worked best for us. Give yourself time to see what works, then set up your plans.

See: Adapting Number Formation Worksheets for a Child with Special Needs

3. Let Your Child Lead You

DD Flower

One of the benefits of homeschooling is allowing your child to lead instruction. Do what your child loves most and keep the love of learning alive.

Read your child’s mood and adapt learning and teaching based on what s/he needs. You know your child best, and if something worked on Monday but doesn’t work on Tuesday, it’s okay.

4. Work Where Your Child Learns Best

We spend time working at the table, but plenty of time working while rolling on the floor, in the garden (rain or shine) or out and about – in the woods, recreation center and at community events. My son Gabriel learns best when he’s involved in hands-on, active learning and through homeschooling, we can accommodate to his style. However, my older son James works best at a desk in his room, with his headphones on and with no distractions. Thankfully, homeschooling gives us this wonderful flexibility.

5. Work When Your Child Learns Best

Our eldest son, James, works best with a strict schedule. He feels more secure knowing exactly what he has to do and when he has to do it. He likes getting up early and starting work right away. He pauses for breakfast, then resumes work until he has achieved his planned tasks. Then, we sit together, discuss any items he needs help with and plan the next day. The rest of the day is filled with activities of his choosing. Our youngest son, Gabriel, responds best to flexibility in his schedule. He likes to sleep late, eat, and then move onto learning through a ‘little & often’ approach.

6. Focus On What Your Child Enjoys

Autism or no autism, nothing is as miserable as trying to force your child to work through a learning experience they don’t enjoy. Sometimes this is unavoidable but when homeschooling, you can alter things to suit you both.

For example, Gabriel does not like to write. Letter practice is difficult as is writing words in repetitive form. He does, however, enjoy working on the iPad – especially when there are sounds involved – so we practice letter and word writing in an app that plays music as he shapes the letters.

See: Discover affordable homeschool curriculum catered to your child’s interests 

7. Learn By Theme Instead of Subject

Gabe got the Cherries

Sometimes, traditional subjects are incorporated into what obsession my child has but are fun, enjoyable and not strict.

With Gabriel we rarely do math, art or language and instead we learn about space, the ocean or his current obsession. We incorporate most of the traditional subjects into these themes without him aware. In fact, for the past few weeks, we have spent most of out time in the kitchen learning science, math and language by cooking and playing with food.

8. Work With Your Therapy 

We work therapy into our school day and mix traveling to appointments with trips to the woods or other activities Gabriel enjoys. We can easily integrate therapy into our day by taking sensory therapy breaks, practicing speech when learning about our themes and generally making our entire day as “autism friendly” as possible.

9. Socialize How You Want

The biggest criticism of homeschooling is that children don’t get the opportunity to socialize and that socialization is especially important for kids with autism. We have the opposite opinion – if you hate socializing, don’t do it. Our kids have plenty of opportunity to socialize in the wider community, but we believe they lose nothing by not attending school and feeling out of place and alone.

About the All-Star Blogger

pattiPatti is a homeschooling mom of 5 doing her best to keep it together in a life of constant chaos. She writes about family life, homeschooling, autism and a whole lot more on Red Headed Patti. Her greatest ambition is to drink a whole cup of tea, without interruption, while it is still hot.

Discover more learning resources for kids with special needs

 

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What Kids Need to Know About Memorial Day – It’s More than a 3-Day Weekend

When we spot Memorial Day coming up on the calendar, the first thought is usually a fun-filled, three-day weekend. It’s easy to forget the meaning of Memorial Day as a day of remembrance.

Remind children of the real reasons to celebrate by adding a little Memorial Day history to your lessons this week. Below you will find fun facts to share, multimedia resources, and downloadable activities to help kids understand the importance of this very special holiday.

Facts About Memorial Day

  • The first Memorial Day was first celebrated in 1866 to honor fallen soldiers of the Civil War.
  • Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day” because Americans would spend the day to decorate the graves of all soldiers who died in war.
  • Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971 and was shifted to create a three-day weekend.
  • Although not as popular today, one tradition was to eat a picnic meal while sitting on the ground of a cemetery.
  • In 2000, Congress passed a law that requires Americans to pause at 3 p.m. to remember and honor the soldiers who died for our country.

Resources for Kids

Kids might be itching to get into the sun for their three-day weekend, but this video from History.com is entertaining enough to get an extra lesson in before school’s out.

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Memorial DayTIME has a useful slideshow to share with children at home or in the classroom.

The First Official Memorial Day – An easy-to-use timeline from America’s Library.

The Memorial Day Poppy – An article about the meaning behind the red poppy mentioned in John McCrae’s famous poem about war. The red poppy is now worn to commemorate veterans.

Women Who Gave Their Lives – A list of women who have fallen in every American war. Looks like a great starting point for a research project!!

Educational Activities for Memorial Day

Looking for activities to use at home or in the classroom? We have plenty of worksheets that incorporate writing, math and war research to help you weave Memorial Day themes into your curriculum.

Wars Around the World Lapbooks – EVERYTHING you need in order to teach this history of war is included. Includes lapbooks about Civil War, American Revolution, War or 1812, and more!

Civil War Activities for Kids – A fun printable pack of 19 puzzles, games, and quizzes including history timelines, a Gettysburg Address fill-in, math decoding puzzles, a Venn diagram puzzle, a printable board game, and more!

Memorial Day Activities for Grades 2 to 5 – Help bring awareness and celebrate the service of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard with this Memorial Day activity.

May Interactive Poetry Notebook – Includes an original poem about Memorial Day using sight words, concepts of print, rhyming, word families, and more!

Graphing Through the Month of May – Each May-related question can be graphed as pictograph or bar graph. Great graphing resource for first graders!

Memorial Day is about honoring those who served to protect our freedom. To celebrate them and their families, Educents is shipping all products within the US, for FREE this weekend.

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Make It Happen

No matter which way you choose to reserve this holiday, there are so many ways to communicate the importance of Memorial Day to our next generation. Will you take a moment of silence at 3 p.m.? Will you picnic in a cemetery? Tell us!

How do you celebrate Memorial Day? 

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How Minecraft Taught My Daughter to Read

Educents Blog - Minecraft

When I started homeschooling, I quickly realized that my kids were exactly like me – they loved to learn, but hated to be told what to learn. My kids explored their interests during the “unschooling” process and that’s when my 7-year old daughter fell in love with Minecraft. She was playing hours at a time and I, as a parent, was concerned. She’ll never learn to read if she won’t put that game down, I thought to myself. But I was wrong. Let me explain.

First, understand that my 7-year old daughter “HATES TO READ!” (Her words.)

I was hesitant to let go of my lesson plans and get too off track from reading lessons. But the “unschooling” process means giving my children the opportunity to explore their interests. In doing so, something amazing happened! Yes, my daughter was playing Minecraft for hours on end, but something changed!

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Also read: 10 Exciting Lessons For Your Kindergartener Using Minecraft

Minecraft players have to communicate in the game’s chat feature. My daughter has to read the messages, compose her own messages, and navigate the Minecraft map to finish projects in the game. The words came alive, they finally meant something to her and it clicked. She taught herself how to read!

You might be thinking, Sure, she figured out how to decipher some video game words, but she can’t actually read, just decode. However, isn’t that what reading is? Reading is decoding symbols strung together to form words, words form sentences, and then paragraphs, then chapters and books! That is exactly what happened!

About two months after my daughter started to decipher these Minecraft symbols on the computer screen, she picked up Charlotte’s Web out of our home library and read it from beginning to end without stopping to play Minecraft. My daughter, the 7-year old, who could just barely read her own name, picked up a book meant for readers two grades ahead of her and read just because she wanted to.

Letting go of my homeschool lesson plan wasn’t easy, but it has been truly a blessing. My daughter discovered her passion and fell down an educational rabbit hole. Now, she reads because she wants to.

About the All-Star Blogger

4b91b106a1c0ac1a6e89dce732c18f43Jodi Stevens is a mama of 6, married to her soul-mate. She started couponing back in 2007 to save her growing family some money. She enjoys snagging freebies, getting coupon overage, drinking coffee, polishing her nails, high heels and of course, her large family. Jodi is a full-time blogger, working on making ends meet, while prepping for the future.

More Minecraft

Want to turn playtime into learning time? Check out the Learn to Mod Minecraft software that teaches kids how to code! Or, discover more ways to add Minecraft to your lessons at home or in the classroom. 
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Adapting Number Formation Worksheets for a Child with Special Needs

When a child is showing readiness to begin writing numbers, you’ll want to make it as engaging and hands-on as possible. Before the pencil even touches the paper, explore number formation in a variety of ways.

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Number Formation Worksheets

Simply Kinder’s Number Formation Poems makes the transition from knowing how to count to writing numbers a breeze. For a child with special needs, however, there are adaptations you can make so the contents of this kit are fully maximized.

What the package contains:

  • 4 options of poem posters (including black/ white and color options)
  • 1 set of practice pages
  • 1-page parental guide
  • desk or table labels (best when child is able to hold a writing tool)
  • snap cube worksheets (snap cubes not included)

Why I like this package:

  1. poster sheets are simple, large, and attractive
  2. poems serve as mnemonics (memory aids) for both parent and child (and they are very catchy!)
  3. worksheets for extra practice and reinforcement
  4. worksheets were designed with hands-on interaction in mind

How to adapt the worksheets for a child with special needs:

Below are 8 suggestions for using this kit with a child who requires a little extra support. I recommend printing and laminating the cards you will use most often.

Adapting a worksheet

This pack from Simply Kinder is fantastic. With the following tips, this pack can be modified for students with special needs.

1. Begin with numbers 1 to 5. Rather than printing off the whole set of 10, work with a smaller set of numbers until your child has mastered them. Practice one number for several days or weeks before moving on to the next. Omit zero as it’s somtimes difficult for a child to understand the absence of a quantity.

2. Display the number cards. By having the cards of the numbers you are working on in a visible and accessible location, your child will likely choose to recite the poems or trace the letters spontaneously. Use the number poems while forming the numbers in the air. Model big motions as you chant the number rhymes. Have your child imitate or guide him hand-over-hand. You will surely share some giggles.

3. Be creative with tracing. Using the full-page cards, encourage your child to trace the numbers in a variety of ways, not just with a pointing finger:

  • Index and middle finger together (great for pre-writing practice)
  • A toy your child loves such as a car, a figurine, or a block
  • Have the objects “jump” or “slide” across a number symbol
  • A dry-erase marker (on laminated card)
  • You may need to guide your child hand-over-hand at first

5. Make the cards portable: Shrink the number cards by printing 4 per page. Then, laminate, cut up the cards, hole-punch at a corner, and add a binder ring to make a practice set for on-the-go. Make a set with the poems for yourself so you never forget them.

Laminated, hole-punched number cards.

Laminate and hole-punch for on-the-go learning.

6. Make the practice sheets meaningful. Use counters you already own and/or that your child loves such as LEGO or Duplo blocks, doll accessories, etc.

Hands-on learning with worksheets

Use LEGOs, Duplos, or snap-cubes for hands-on learning that complement the worksheets.

7. Simplify the worksheets. Children with special needs require tasks to be presented separately and clearly. The practice sheets in this kit invite a child to do two more more tasks per worksheet. This is often overwhelming for a child who has difficulty focusing. Rather than handing your child the entire practice sheet as is, break it up by cutting out and working on one activity at a time.

8. Use the worksheets as learning mats. Some parts of the practice sheets can be cut up and laminated to use as mats. For example, use the top part of both the counting worksheets and the snap cubes worksheets as reusable mats. Your child can use play dough to form the numbers or even to roll up as counters. These, too, can be hole-punched and made portable for numbers learning fun wherever you go!

Number Posters

Use the numbers worksheets as posters, learning mats, etc.

About the All-Star Blogger
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Gabriella Volpe is a homeschooling mom of a child with special needs, a certified teacher and the homeschool consultant for families of children with special needs. She knows first-hand what it means to struggle with educational planning for a child who does not fit the system and is limited by resources and products intended for children without disabilities. She helps parents find ways to adapt and modify the curriculum so they don’t have to spend hours figuring our on their on. She also helps after-schooling families of children with special needs navigate their way around the homework hours. You can find her at www.GabriellaVolpe.com.

Want to use some of Gabriella’s tips? Get started with Simply Kinder’s downloadable Number Formation Poems today!
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Easy Ways to Add Music to Your Lessons

If The Sound of Music taught us anything (aside from do-re-mi), it was that music is an essential learning tool. Memorization of facts and numbers is a lot more FUN for early learners when there’s a song to accompany each lesson. Not a musical person? No worries! You don’t have to be Fraulein Maria to add music to your child’s learning!

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Rock ‘N Learn programs teach and entertain with music, humor and fun characters. Learners ages 3 to 12 can learn about everything from the alphabet, to multiplication, how to tell time and Spanish using Rock ‘N Learn’s interactive DVDs.

For Early Learners

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Early Childhood CollectionAlphabet DVD, Alphabet Al’s ABC Board Book, Colors, Shapes & Counting DVD, Colors, Shapes & Counting Board Book

  • Alphabet Al leads youngsters on an adventure to explore letters and boost vocabulary. Rollie Roundman and friends teach preschoolers about colors, shapes, and counting up to 20. Eventually these concepts are combined for higher-level learning.

Early Learning CollectionNursery Rhymes DVD, Alphabet Exercise DVD, Dance With the Animals DVD

  • These DVD programs will be instant favorites with early learners. While being active, kids learn about letter-word associations, wild animals, habitats, and how to care for pets.

Math Resources

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Early Math CollectionAddition & Subtraction Rap DVD, Money & Making Change DVD, Telling Time DVD

  • Learn all about counting coins and bills and practice making change. Learn to tell time to the hour, half hour, and minute using traditional analog clocks.

Math Rap 3-PackAddition & Subtraction Rap DVD, Multiplication Rap DVD, Division Rap DVD

  • Whether learning facts for the first time or brushing up for speedy recall, it will keep your child focused and engaged.

Parents Use Music at Home

“This is my grandson, JJ, and he’s been watching the Sight Words I, 2, and 3 as well as the Letter Sounds, Phonics 1, Colors, Shapes & Counting, and the Phonics Easy Readers. He already knew his letters before watching the Rock ‘N Learn videos so I wanted something that could take him to the next level. Man oh man did we ever hit the JACKPOT!! The Rock ‘N Learn videos are a fabulous tool for us! Thanks so much! You guys really ROCK!” -Tracy C.

“My son was captivated by Colors, Shapes and Counting!! He is now three and knows all his colors, ABCs, almost all the sight words and is even using letter sounds to read bigger words!”

One of my children is an auditory learner, he reads it, he can’t remember it. But when he hears it, he knows it. All the songs were short and kept to simple facts. The songs had a good background beat that gets stuck in your head (something you want with memorization CD’s). The dictation was clear and very easy to understand. – Victoria, from The Snail Pace

Also read: 5 Ways to “Teach” Music To Your Preschooler

How Teachers Use Music in the Classroom

Use the musical elements of Rock ‘N Learn DVDs to add math, language, or science learning to the beginning of each day. As your students are getting settled in, turn on the DVD. As they methodically unpack and get out their homework or get organized, they will be hearing the facts repeated over and over to the beat of a cool hip-hop rap!

“Look at that funky little hamster on the front cover of the two rap videos! I mean, who wouldn’t watch that?”

“I am a firm believer in teaching with music. I have learned that using music helps students make better connections to prior knowledge and it helps with memory. Several times throughout the year, I would see my students singing songs that I had taught them while they were completing a test to help them recall how to complete a math problem. Music works! It’s like that catchy little jingle you can’t get out of your head. But with education embedded within. Score!” -Elizabeth, teacher from Fun in Room 4B and Beyond

Musical Learning in Homeschools

“The videos are animated with exciting characters (people and talking animals) who tell stories and go through different games and activities as they teach the concepts. There is A LOT of fun and catchy music and singing. Often the words are flashed on the screen so the kids are hearing it said or sung and seeing the word at the same time. This will help them to really learn each word. My kids, ages 8 and under enjoyed watching these DVDs.” -Gena, homeschooler from I Choose Joy!

Also read: 9 Ways to Bring Music Into Your Homeschool

Helpful for Special Needs Learning

“My autistic daughter loves her human body and life science videos. She has learned a lot and I can’t wait until the subjects come up in school! Autistic kids love videos, and I don’t mind her watching educational ones such as Rock ’N Learn. It is helping her answer tests better too. Highly recommend to parents of spectrum kiddos.”

Ready to shop?

There is SO much your little ones can learn by singing a song. Use songs to learn about Phonics and Science, or use songs to prepare for test taking and the first year Kindergarten! Check out all of the Rock ‘N Learn DVDs available at a discount on Educents.

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Educents Review: Introduction to Web Design for Kids

Educents Blog - KidCoder

My daughter and I were SO excited to try out Beginning Web Design by KidCoder Series. She loves technology and has wanted to learn some things about the behind-the-scenes for awhile now. When she found out she could learn to build her own web page, she was sold!

When we received the books and the CDs, we unpacked everything and got to work. Ellie started reading and I started downloading. I will admit that she was not as excited about the reading as she was about the doing, but she admitted that it was necessary to understand the background. (On a side note, if your child struggles with reading, especially with nonfiction reading, you may want to read it with him/her or break it into small pieces).Ellie coder reading

After she got the background knowledge she needed, Ellie was ready to work. She was able to learn where to find a lot of the files and items she doesn’t usually look for by following the directions laid out in the book. After reading and poking around a bit, she was able to complete a “scavenger hunt” and look for a secret message. She really enjoyed that part! What she didn’t realize is that she was putting in to practice what she had been reading about!

I liked that while the technology terminology isn’t always kid-friendly, KidCoder did a great job of breaking it down into understandable chunks, while not making it sound too babyish. This is not easy to do! For example, when explaining why opening tags need to be in angle brackets, they used terminology that many kids would be familiar with. They called the symbols “greater than and less than signs” and explained how they were like crocodiles eating their prey (the symbols look like crocodile mouths; the prey is the tag that is in the middle). When learning greater than and less than at school or at home, many teachers/parents use the visual of alligators eating the big number. Ellie instantly noticed that connection and the information “stuck” with her easier!

I also appreciated that they made it clear that different people have different ideas about how to do something. There isn’t one right way to code an empty tag, for example. Some people put a space before the slash in an empty tag while others don’t. They explain their reason for teaching us one of the ways over the other ways.KidCoder

There is a LOT of information included in this program! I can see it being used for an entire school year, especially for elementary or middle school students. We have not made it halfway yet, but have already learned so much! And, yes, I mean WE have learned a lot. I thought I knew quite a bit about technology, but I gained so many new insights to how things work, and more importantly, WHY they work that way! I am very pleased with the Beginning Web Design KidCoder program and can’t wait to see what Ellie makes with it next!

KidCoder offers computer programming courses for kids and teens. KidCoder courses include Web Design for Kids, Game Programming, and Java for Teens.

krista-pic-with-teaching-momster-logo-pinterest-size Krista is a teacher, mother, and educational creator.

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Mother’s Day Freebie, Last-Minute Gifts & Family Activities

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Scrambling to help your kids show their appreciation for mom? We have a last-minute gift you can print for FREE, a nice $10 for mom to use on stuff she actually needs, and lots of printable activities for the family this weekend!

Mother’s Day Printable Gift

Give a cool Mother’s Day gift that you can print at home for free (and fast!). These four adorable coupons from Educents are the perfect gift for a mom who appreciated a good bargain. Print these coupons and add them to your homemade crafts or include in your card for mom. She will be sure to cash in on this coupons year round!

Family Activities

But wait, there’s more fun to be had with mom!! Download and print these activities celebrating mom and complete them as a family.

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My Mama Earth eBook, Lesson Plan & Video – Celebrate motherhood and the special bond between a mother and child with this award-winning picture book.

Mother’s Day Activities – In this 14 page packet you will find fun activities you and your little ones can complete leading up to Mother’s Day.

Mother’s/Aunt’s/Grandma’s Activity and Craft – Need a last-minute gift for Mother’s Day? This is a very cute simple activity and craft that will be a keepsake for years to come.

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Mom – Kids can celebrate Mother’s Day by expressing the reasons they love their dear mom or anyone else they love!

Gift Card for Mom

Give ALL moms out there a free $10! In honor of Mother’s Day, Educents is providing all moms a FREE $10 Educents Gift Card. We know every day is Mother’s Day, but take a moment to send a special mom in your life a little note and a $10 gift card. They deserve it!

 

How does your family celebrate Mother’s Day?

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How to Create a Homeschool Portfolio (Without Keeping Everything!)

If you’re in the thick of homeschooling and haven’t a clue as to how to save this year’s work, keep reading! As a homeschooling mother, it’s difficult to overcome the urge to save every, little thing my kids make or do in our homeschool. But, it’s necessary to scale back on the paper and clutter we can accumulate in a single homeschool year! How does a busy, crowded family (there are 8 of us living in a 3-bedroom house) manage keeping all the important homeschool student work without adding to the chaos? We create homeschool portfolios for each child, each year.
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Here are six ways to create a homeschool portfolio without keeping everything!

  1. 320300354_a8e1ce5eef_bSelect carefully. Unless you have very strict homeschool regulations where you live (I don’t know of any state that requires you keep everything), it’s unnecessary to keep every math problem ever solved or any of those weekly spelling lists. Instead, pick a few pieces of work from each quarter that cover all subjects/extra-curricular subjects your child has learned. This shows progress made throughout the year and can give a benchmark to look back on when planning for younger children’s education, too.
  2. Pick some for fun. Now that you’ve made your careful selections of what you have to keep, consider a few items from the year that you really like. It doesn’t have to be a formal assignment. That funny doodle drawn on the back of a paper towel or the dough sculpture of the new baby are memories you don’t want to lose, ever.
    1st cake baked in our homeschool

    Take a picture of your child’s first kitchen masterpiece!

    (Other ideas that work well include the first cake they have baked, Lego sculptures, or even a photograph of a successful dissection in biology!)

  3. Scan and Save. Now that you have all your favorite picks, it’s time to digitize!  I have a small, single sheet scanner I love. I can take it anywhere in the house and scan when needed! Papers are carefully scanned and then saved to my computer in folders for each child that are specific to the school year. Our 3D projects (like that baby sculpture) are photographed with my digital camera and the photo files are added to the folders as well.

    Scanned Handwriting Document from Homeschool

    Take pictures of school work and upload to files on your computer. Better yet, a scanner is a great tool that can be taken anywhere in the house. Simply scan and upload!

  4. Backup to the cloud. Since computers crash and memories are valuable, we use an online storage service to keep our files safe – just in case. Most storage providers will give you some space for free, but if you need to buy extra storage, choose one that offers a discount for paying yearly.
  5. Share when possible! Don’t keep all the good work to yourself! I like to share some of the best work to Facebook and Instagram. Not only is it a good way to keep relatives and friends in the loop (and convince them that you really do fit schooling in on most days), but it’s a fun way to go back in your own feed to review what the year has blessed you with.

    Lego Structure at Homeschool

    Take pictures of your kids’ awesome Lego structures! Don’t forget to share on Instagram or Facebook because it’s great to inspire others, not to mention, it’s fun looking back on your own newsfeed throughout the year.

  6. Consider an album.  One other fun way to commemorate the school year and let the kids share in the memories is to turn the best photos and scans into a customized photo album for the year. Most photo book sites have deals throughout the year that let you get your book for a discount. Consider making an extra copy for Grandma!

If you have past years’ work that need to be digitized, saved, and stored, it’s best to get started with it a little at a time, and be sure to stay current on this year’s work. Don’t get overwhelmed! Part of the fun of the process is going back through everything and remembering how much you’ve enjoyed teaching your children!

Do you have any high-tech ways to save and celebrate your school year?

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Linsey is a work-at-home, homeschooling mom of 6 who loves to share her ideas for simple living at LillePunkin.com

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