Tinkerlab for Your Child’s Creative Mind

With my boys almost grown, I don’t often have activities for the younger crowd on my radar. But this book caught my eye and I am so glad it did.  The author, Rachelle Doorley, has some of the best ideas I’ve seen for engaging young children in creative play. We’ve all heard that a child’s work is found in his play. This book does an excellent job in creating an environment that encourages exploration and discovery that will delight your young learner.

The first section of the book outlines the steps to take in preparing your Tinkerlab and equipping it with a vast variety of supplies to encourage creativity and learning.  The author discusses what things to consider when setting up your creative space. She gives attention to things like organization, controlling clutter and handling messes.  She then gives recommendations for what supplies to include in your space and includes lists of suggestions in several categories. The next section is a wonderful discussion of how to create a “creative mindset” that will encourage your child in exploring and venturing out on his own.  Doorley concludes part one of the book with some thoughts on the idea that everything can be an experiment. She says, “A habit of experimentation is good for many reasons. Experiments teach children that there are multiple ways to approach a problem. When children solve self-designed problems, they learn how to think for themselves. Experiments also remind parents that they are colearners who don’t have all the answers. The spirit of experimentation, exploration, and pushing boundaries is at the root of innovative thinking.”

Part two of the book is where you’ll find the fifty-five experiments the author has gathered. She divides these activities into four groups. The first group entitled “Design” is all about creating with paper, glue, paint and other art supplies. The second group called “Build” focuses on creating three-dimensional projects with a variety of elements such as straws, toothpicks, string and items from your recycle bin. The third group is called “Concoct” and includes activities you can do using common household ingredients such as flour, water, vinegar and baking soda and soap. Some of these experiments are even edible. The final section is entitled “Discovery” and expands the activities to exploration outside the confines of the creative space you have set up. It includes activities such as examining nature, scavenger hunts and experimenting with light.

This book is aimed at an audience up to the age of six but I can see older kids finding plenty to hold their attention.

Free Kindle Books!

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I think most homeschoolers look for bargains when it comes to buying curriculum. That’s why the market for used curriculum material is so hot.

I ran across this post this morning for free educational books you can download for your Kindle. You don’t own a Kindle? No worries…you can download Kindle apps for your browser, smartphone, or tablet here. This means you can download and use these books even if you don’t own a Kindle. All you need is an Amazon account.

Take a look at these books on Frugal Homeschool Family. But don’t wait…they won’t be free for long.

The Threat of Pornography in the Home

I raised seven boys during a time when home computers and the Internet were gaining momentum. These tools have become invaluable resources for teaching your child at home. Unfortunately, left unsupervised, your child can get drawn into pornography. It happens innocently enough…a click on a link takes you to a less than wholesome site. Or curiosity takes control and the search engines like Google or Bing lead us to sights and web sites that our child’s young brains and eyes aren’t prepared to handle. Before long, this curiosity can become an addiction.

This video explains how pornography works on the brain and better yet, provides hope in that the addiction can be reversed. Continue reading

Ohio Homeschoolers Granted Equal Access

Ohio FlagGreat news for those families that homeschool in Ohio. Legislation was just passed that provides “… the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities offered at the district school to which the student otherwise would be assigned during that school year.”

In other words, a student is no longer required to enroll in their local public school system to be able to participate in sports, music, and other extracurricular activities.

Another significant provision of the bill is that homeschoolers can receive funding from the state’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Program (PSEO). This program pays for dual enrollment college courses at participating Ohio institutions of higher learning.

You can read more about the bill, including the text of the legislation, on the Home School Legal Defense Association web site.

Let’s hope that other states take notice and follow suit.

Resources to assist you

Homeschool Support Resources

Websites:

http://sherylmaxey.com/ (clickable links for resources listed)

http://www.home-school.com/ (lists articles, groups, events related to homeschooling)

http://homeschooling.about.com/od/magazines/Magazines_and_Publications.htm (a list of homeschool magazines)

http://www.nathhan.com/index.htm ( homeschooling special needs children)

http://www.homeschool.com/ (has message forums, resource lists and Podcasts)

http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com (huge variety of homeschool information)

http://groups.yahoo.com ( search for groups that interest you. If you type in “homeschool” you will get over 7000 results, also try “unschooling”)  Homeschool-Iowa and  Idea-2 are two of the largest state groups.

Books:

Homeschooling from Scratch (1996)  by Mary Potter Kenyon

Homeschooling: Take a Deep Breath-You Can Do This (2004)  by Terrie Lynn Bittner

Local Support Groups:

http://www.the-niche.org NICHE – state organization

http://www.sheepgroup.org SHEEP – Christian group in Pleasant Hill

http://www.homeschool-life.com/ia/heed/?public=1 HEED – Christian group in Johnston

http://www.iahomeeducators.org/index.php – inclusive group with a great page of other local groups to consider.

Audio Books: A Great Way to Forget the Winter Chill

At our house it has become tradition to spend the cold days of our Iowa winters listening to books on CD. We are often finished with our schoolwork shortly after lunch which leaves the long afternoons to work together on a jigsaw puzzle while we listen to a book on CD. We have listened to some wonderful books over the years and I wanted to share our list of favorites with you.

As my children have grown we have chosen more challenging stories but while they were younger we listened to books like these:

The Magic Tree House Collection by Mary Pope Osborne ( many sets to choose from)

Little House on the Prairie Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder ( there are several of these to choose from)

Your Story Hour collections (there are many of these to choose from)

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner ( there are many of these to choose from)

Charlotte’s Web by E B White

When the boys got older we listened to books that required a little more concentration like these:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis

Adventures in Odyssey by the AIO Team ( there are many of these to choose from and they are all good!)

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey ( this one is hard to find. Check your library)

Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr (this one is hard to find. Check with your library)

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck ( also by this author: A Long Way From Chicago, Here Lies the Librarian, and A Season of Gifts)

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater ( and the sequel – Looking for Bobowicz)

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

The Penderwicks by Jean Birdsall

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

Right now we are listening to the third book in a series by Trenton Lee Stewart called The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. This is by far our favorite series to date. The first two books are called The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey.

These titles and many others are available at your public library. You might also consider using a digital download service that many libraries are offering. This service in Iowa libraries is called WILBOR and is easy to access from your home computer. For more information about WILBOR check out my Examiner.com article.