3 Ways to Use Smilebox in Your Homeschool

I am a grandma. All eight of my grandchildren live at least a day’s drive from me. I don’t get to see all of their accomplishments and milestones. My daughter-in-law has found a fun way to keep all the long distance relatives up to date on the kids’ activities.  I regularly get emails from her containing Smilebox photo collages.  She does them for birthdays, new skills like riding a bike, vacations and even encounters with the tooth fairy.

Recently when we visited our Florida family we got excited about their tadpole adventure. A neighbor gave them some frog eggs which they  put into a fish bowl and added pond water and plants. We watched the eggs for a couple of days but had to return home before the babies arrived. We were disappointed that we couldn’t participate in the experiment but that disappointment dissolved quickly as we started getting regular updates about the tadpole population explosion.  There were pictures and video on almost a daily basis. One day I received this Tadpole Smilebox in my email. As I watched the videos and looked at the pictures I realized that this would be a wonderful way to share what goes on in our homeschool adventures.

Perhaps you don’t know what Smilebox is all about. Smilebox is a photo sharing service you can subscribe to that allows you to use your own photos and videos to make birthday cards, announcements, and many other personalized creations. You can add clip art and music too. It works like an online scrapbook that you can either keep for yourself or share with anyone who has an email address.  Over the past several years, my daughter-in-law has sent out over 300 Smilebox creations to share the activities and celebrations of her children.

Sharing with friends and family

Smilebox is a great way to share what you are doing  in your homeschool with family. It certainly is a wonderful surprise to be included in the lives of my grandchildren but it might also be a good way to convince the critics. We all have those who might think our homeschooling efforts are not so wonderful. Perhaps sending a Smilebox would soften their opinion a bit. You never know!

Family keepsakes that don’t take up physical space 

The longer you homeschool, the more “stuff” you seem to accumulate. It’s hard to part with all those projects and the memories that go with them. Creating a Smilebox is a great way to preserve the memories without taking up shelves of space in the basement. Younger students can contribute  to a Smilebox that mom is designing while older ones can easily learn to create their own Smileboxes.

Student designed projects

Once students learn the techniques to creating a Smilebox, the possibilities are endless. They can use them to document unit studies and book reports. If they include video, it gives them a chance to work on their narration skills as they describe what is happening. They can learn about design and layout for the best visual effect. It’s like creating a documentary all their own.

To get started making your own Smilebox creations go to Smilebox.com. There is a free version but for $3.99 a month you can access the full selection of designs. I would recommend subscribing to get the most out of the service.  To subscribe to Club Smilebox go here.

4-H: A Great Addition to Your Homeschool

This time of year I am alwa521924_10201304132179014_1214365667_nys reminded of our years in 4-H.  When my boys were young we had a 4-H club that met in our home for nine years. We started with about eight members and when we moved to Iowa the club had grown to over sixty.  This week our club back in Ohio is experiencing the exciting culmination of a year’s worth of hard work. The county fair is just winding down and well-deserved ribbons are being proudly displayed. It’s such a special time. I remember watching my boys putting on the finishing touches to all their projects, some details coming together much too close to the deadline for me! And now my grandchildren are getting old enough to experience 4-H too. They have actually joined the club we started so many years ago.

I believe that my boys are strong leaders today because of their participation in 4-H. It was in 4-H that they learned leadership skills but there was much more to it than that. They also learned something useful with each new project they took on. They learned to follow through and put in their very best effort. They learned to work in cooperation with others. They also learned to cook and take care of animals and to build with their own hands. 4-H was an important part of our homeschool experience. We incorporated the projects into our regular school day and learned things we might not otherwise have gotten around to.

The 4-H program begins with a group called Cloverbuds which is aimed at early elementary students. At age nine a child can become an official  4-H member and even run for an office. From there, students can remain members until they turn nineteen. There are dozens of project areas to explore. You can choose published projects that include all the instructions you need  or design your own projects.   The projects all easily work as unit studies that can be as simple or as in depth as you desire. The opportunities available through 4-H are so extensive I can’t cover all of them here. You will find all the details at the National 4-H website.

4-H is available in all fifty states and many countries around the world. To find your local 4-H community check out the Find 4-H page. 4-H is way more than shearing sheep and growing crops. If you think it’s just for farm kids, look again. You’ll be glad you did.