Monday, March 28, 2022

Technology Education for Homeschoolers

The following is a sponsored post in collaboration with MYTEK LAB and MommyMaestra. All opinions are my own.

I was looking over the Education Commission of the States' website the other day. They have posted a 50-state comparison for high school graduation requirements of technology, career/tech, and oral communications. I was so surprised about how all over the place the states are regarding technology education.

Technology Education as a High School Requirement

In my opinion, technology education should be one of the core subjects being taught and a requirement for high school graduation. 

At present, college-bound students should have something like this (Note: Years and credits can be used interchangeably):

  • MATH:  4 years
  • SCIENCE: 3 years, plus a Lab 
  • ENGLISH: 4 years
  • HISTORY: 3-4 years
  • WORLD LANGUAGE: 2-3 years of one language
  • FINE ARTS: 1+ year
  • PE: 2 years
  • ELECTIVES: Enough to bring the overall number of credits to 24+

Now, some states allow for computer science to be considered a world language. But this isn't always the case. 

Given our current global situation, EVERYONE is impacted by technology. And because tech is so ubiquitous and has such a profound effect on our lives, our kids need to be sufficiently taught about it.

What's Included In a Technology Curriculum?

But as a homeschool parent, I wonder about not just how to teach it, but WHAT to teach. Coding, 3D modeling, forms, HTML, CSS, themes, responsiveness....these are all vague technology terms that are jumbled around in my head. I know my kid would really benefit from learning some - probably ALL - of them and their applications, but I certainly haven't the slightest clue how to teach them when I'm still learning them myself.

However, I'm a great champion of getting help when I need it and leaving specific subjects to the experts when I can. 

Since I have a 4-year-old, I'm starting from scratch (pun intended), and my plan for his technology curriculum looks something like this:

  1. Typing (Elementary & Middle School)
  2. Digital Literacy (Middle School)
  3. Computer Science (Middle and High School)
  4. Cybersecurity (High School)

Online Tech Courses


Now I also have a 15yo. I didn't have a technology plan for him - it's been piece meal over the years. At least it was until we hit high school. And then I was introduced to MYTEK LAB, and I have signed him up for classes the last two years. Right now, he's finishing up his fourth semester with them. And what he has learned has blown my mind!

Last year, my freshman took Technology Lab level 1. You can read my review of their course here. He learned about programming fundamentals, web design tools, and general tech concepts. 

This year, they are diving deeper and some of what they are learning about includes:
  • Web Design II
  • JavaScript Programming I
  • VR Development II
  • 3D Modeling for 3D Printing II
  • 2D Game art II
  • 3D Game Development I
  • Linux Introduction I
  • Robotics II
  •  
Last semester, my son who is really into crafting, miniatures, etc., was wanting to create a physical object. It was totally unrelated to his class, BUT one of the tools he learned about in the course for 3D modeling led to him actually creating what he wanted because we contacted a 3D printer in town and sent them the file and they were able to create it in a day or so. 

(In case you are wondering, my son is very into Dr. Who and wanted to create his own miniature supersonic screwdriver. He needed a specific part that he couldn't create himself, so he designed it and we had it made!)

Anyway, the point it that these are not skills or concepts that I could teach myself. But having an online program that is professional and personal with easy access is a blessing for homeschool families like ours. 



MYTEK LAB Online Classes


The classes are live, but when you have a crazy schedule like we do, the great part is that you can also do them at your own pace because they are all recorded.  The pro of a live class, obviously, is that you can ask questions on the spot as you are doing the assignment. BUT for those of us whose kids are watching the recording while they do the activity, the company offers help classes on certain days. During these times, you can hop on Zoom and they get to questions in the order that they log in.

My son loves the classes and his teacher, Stephen Souders, who is great with kids. He is so laid back and teaches in a way that the students can understand. But what my son loves best is the assignments. Souders teaches concepts by having the student actually do it themselves. Some of the activities are things that the kids are familiar with - for example, Minecraft - so the students are really intrigued and engaged throughout the process.

Gradebook comments

And I love that we are able to create both a student account AND a parent account so that I can pop in and check the gradebook, which I'll need for my son's high school transcript. I can also see what the topic of the lesson was and any comments that my son and his teacher leave for each other.

To be fair, we have not done any other online computer programs, but we are really happy with everything my son is learning at MYTEK LAB. So it's the only experience I can speak about - and I'm doing it with pleasure. 

Try a Course this Summer!


If you'd like to try one of their courses, check them out this summer! They are offering a Summer Session: 3D Modeling and Animation during the month of July. They have two classes; one for ages 8 to 12, and the other for kids 13 and older. We're planning to do it if our schedule allows. It is absolutely worth the time and money spent!

Parents, you can also register for their semester courses here.

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Technology education for homeschoolers


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Self-Paced Economics Class for High School

Economics self-paced online course from Mr. D Math

The following post is in collaboration with Mr. D Math. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

As a parent of a homeschooled high schooler, I'm always on the lookout for a good elective. This semester, we chose to go with economics given how important that topic is in today's current news stream. And Mr. D's Economics class is exactly what we were looking for!

Elective classes are those a student takes that are outside of the required curriculum. Some count for one full credit (two semesters), others only count for half a credit (one semester). The number of credits your child needs in order to graduate from high school varies by state, but is typically between 22 - 26 credits.

Electives are a good way to for your child to explore their different interests, as well as to develop skills that they want to work on or further develop.


Quick Overview


ProgramEconomics for High School
Religious Perspective
Secular
Format: (Self-Paced) 
Recorded
Grades
5 and higher
Price: $
197
Credit: ½ Credit


Economics self-paced online course from Mr. D Math

Self-Paced Economics Lessons

My son is taking Mr. D Math's self-paced Economics class online. We've really enjoyed using Mr. D Math for classes, but don't be misled by the name! The company offers many different classes, not just math classes. In fact, you can read a review I did of their Flamenco Dance class last year. 

Other subjects include:
  • American Sign Language
  • American Grammar (Language Arts)
  • Training Like an Olympic Runner (Athletics)
  • Flamenco Guitar
  • Test Prep (ACT and SAT)
  • more...

Economics self-paced online course from Mr. D Math

How It Works

Mr. D has its own learning portal. Students login and are directed to their dashboard. There they can select the class that they are taking and go to the class home page. All the lessons are laid out in modules. I really like that students can't advance before they complete the lesson they are working on.

Each lesson has a certain number of sections. My son just starts with the first and moves on to the next one after he completes each one. Most of the sections have a video lecture, but some have PDF files to download and print. 

There are projects and quizzes, too.  

This course covers concepts such as goods/services, supply/demand, risk neutral/risk averse, free market economy/command economy/mixed economy, debt/deficit, monopolies, etc. 

The course also discusses opening a bank account, credit cores, calculating interest, comparing benefits packages, reading a paycheck/paystub, budgeting and more. 

Economics self-paced online course from Mr. D Math

What My Son Likes About the Course

My son is enjoying learning about economics. "So much stuff I hear about makes sense now," he told me. He also enjoys the learning interface, which is very easy to navigate. And he likes how the material is presented in order and the fact that he can't get lost or accidentally start the wrong lesson.

What I Love About the Course

I love that this is a topic that I don't have to teach myself. Because it's been a LONG time since I studied economics. And I simply don't have the time to add another course to study and teach to my plate. 

Knowing that my son's instructor is well versed in economic jargon and can teach it so that it makes sense totally helps me... AND my son!

Also, I want my kids to understand how the economy works and what causes the price fluctuations that we see happening today. I'm also nurturing my son's entrepreneurial spirit and hope this class helps him understand his own business and the outside forces that will affect the decisions he makes.

Finally, as a parent, I like that I can simply login to my child's account and look click on each quiz to see the grade he made. This makes logging those high school grades easy for me.

I personally strongly recommend this course as a high school elective. I think it would pair really well with a consumer math class. Together, they would really benefit students for living on their own. 

If you'd like to check out the class description or register your high schooler for this class, click here to visit Mr. D Math's website.


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Economics self-paced online course from Mr. D Math




Monday, March 21, 2022

Enjoying School Breaks as a Family: Easy Tips and Resources



The following is a guest post by Linda Robinson. This post contains affiliate links.

Each year, children get extended breaks during the spring and summer to enjoy time as a family. Here are five ways to make the most of these breaks this year, whether you stay at home or explore a new place.

Consider Camping


With the pandemic still raging on, the outdoors remains the safest way to enjoy yourself and remain COVID-free. That's why camping is an excellent way to spend your vacation. Plus, the physical and psychological benefits of your children spending time outdoors are unquestionable.

Keep in mind that you don't have to tent camp. You could rent a cabin, yurt, or other similar structure for a different way to get out in nature.

And as we all have experienced lately, the weather can be really unpredictable. So if your local weather is starting to turn chilly when you're planning your vacation, consider camping further south.
 

Plan a Day Trip or Two


If you're not off work during the break, you could plan for a few day trips rather than a lengthy getaway.

First, take into consideration your budget for these day trips. Ask your local parent or homeschool groups on Facebook for ideas on free or low-budget activities and events in your area. Packing snacks and a lunch are a great way to save money. And always look/ask for special events for homeschoolers, which may offer admission at a discount.

Additionally, think about your children's interests and plan something everyone will enjoy. You may need to plan more than one trip to accommodate everyone's interests. Even if finding things everyone likes isn't an issue, plan more than one activity to make sure your children get unique opportunities.


Choose to Stay at Home


If you can't take off work, you could opt to stay at home. Turn your backyard into a play area by getting a bouncy house or trampoline. Pitch a tent in the backyard and build a fire. Create an obstacle course out of items you already have in your home and have the whole family race.

Check out the MommyMaestra Pinterest board on Outdoor Fun for ideas on easy ways to make your backyard into an activity center your family will love!

@mahlkornel

Plan a Road Trip


You can avoid traveling on public transportation by planning a road trip. Have the family discuss places they'd like to visit and plan to see a few of those and possibly others along the way. Think of beaches, mountains, and outdoor landmarks. Research those places first so you can provide your children with plenty of interesting information about the sites.

Make sure you bring a camera, snacks, and ideas to keep everyone entertained, such as sing-along songs and road trip games. Consider taking journals for your kids to document the adventure. And when you come home, sit down as a family and make a scrapbook of everything you did along the way.

Plan for Safe Fun


As you plan your family vacation, make safety a priority, whether you're at home or away. This way, you can make the most of this getaway together!


Road-Tripping Resources for Kids



If your family is embarking on a road trip, help boost your kids' English or Spanish vocabulary along the way with this bilingual packet of 10 travel-related games. From Red Car, Blue Car to the License Plate Game, your kids can do each activity sheet alone, or with other kids. Just print and go.

Other (English) travel journals you may enjoy...



Other posts you may like:



Top image credit: evgenyatamanenko

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Linda Robinson is a working mom who dabbles in photography and French cooking in her spare time. She created her website, YouDidYourBest.org, to connect with other parents who work to bring out the best in their kids by encouraging them to chase their dreams and forgiving themselves when they fall short.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

St. Patrick's Day Mini Vocabulary Puzzles

 

It seems as though St. Patrick's Day sneaks up on me EVERY single year. But I still had time to come up with a free printable activity! This set of St. Patrick's Day Mini Puzzles is headed into the inboxes of all my newsletter subscribers by Wednesday morning. You'll also be able to buy it in my TpT store

This year's download is designed to help young students boost their vocabulary while practicing their reading skills.

With this print-and-go activity, all they have to do is cut out the puzzle pieces in the Answer Box and then match them to the image that depicts their word. All the words are related to St. Patrick's Day.

And you can choose to give them the full-color version, or add more time to the activity by having them color in the images first. And, yes, they are available in both English and Spanish. Just choose which version works best for you.

If you'd like to get a copy, scroll to the bottom of this post and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter below. It'll be going out Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. 


Other St. Patrick's Day Posts You May Enjoy

Hey! Consider getting one of my other printable activity sets dedicated to this holiday. There's something for kids of different ages, including a Preschool - Kindergarten Activity Pack, a Book of Words to color and practice writing skills, and finally a Brief History of Los San Patricios for older students. Read more about them here.


Subscribe to my newsletter for free downloads!

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Monday, March 14, 2022

18 Fun Felt Crafts for Kids


Kids love crafting and making things with their hands. Felt is a fun material to work with because it's soft, easy to cut into shapes, inexpensive, and doesn't fray like wool or yarn. We keep a treasure trove of felt in all different colors in our craft cabinet. We've made everything from felt dinosaur heads on clothespins to snowmen. At the bottom of this post, I've included a list of the felt-related supplies that we have in our house.

But first! Check out this list of 18 fun felt crafts for kids that will inspire you to get your craft on! 

These are all simple enough that a younger child can do them with a little help, and older children can complete them entirely on their own. From beautiful butterflies and felt flowers to fun pencil toppers for school, you're sure to find a felt project that your kids will love.

This post contains affiliate links.

Felt Projects Kids Can Make


  1. Felt Rocket Sewing Craft by Sugar, Spice & Glitter - This sewing project for older kids can easily be modified for little ones using a felt board by simply leaving out the sewing aspect and just giving them the pieces to assemble so they can create their own rockets in different combinations. Jennifer's tutorial, though, makes this sewing project fun and easy for older kids.

  2. No-Sew Felt Butterfly by A Cultivated Nest - These felt butterflies are simple and adorable. Little children will love them. But note that an adult will have to help a little bit by precutting the shapes and working the hot glue gun for one part.

  3. Felt Monsters by The Soccer Mom Blog - Another great tutorial. You'll need some poster board for this one. And I love that the final monsters are not scary at all.

  4. No-Sew Unicorn Felt Pouch by She Saved - Gaack! This thing is so cute, I want to make one myself. I wish I'd seen this 10 years ago when my daughter wasn't heading off to college.


  5. Felt Roses by Messy Little Monster - These are just lovely. What a great craft for your kids to make for Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, a birthday, or ANY occasion!

  6. Felt Apples by Fireflies and Mud Pies - These are great for a back-to-school activity, or for the letter "A" ("M" in Spanish), or even for celebrating the fall season.

  7. Unicorn Pen Topper by My Nourished Home - Here's another one my girl would have gone crazy for... and probably still would! These are a great way to dress up pencils and an incentive to write!

  8. Felt Ladybug Pencil Topper by Artsy Craftsy Mom - Equally cute are these fantastic felt ladybugs. They'd be great for celebrating spring, life cycles, Valentine's day, and the letter "L" ("M" in Spanish).

  9. Layered Felt Rainbow Magnet by Crafts by Amanda - This is a great project for practicing cutting skills. And it is very easy to put together. I'm adding it to our felt board collection.

  10. Felt Apple Pie by The Best Ideas for Kids - Do you have a little chef? Making felt foods is a must for little children. Especially if they have a play kitchen.

  11. Felt Pizza by Living Life and Learning - The felt pizza my 4yo has is one of his favorite "foods" in his play kitchen. Being able to add all the different toppings is crazy fun for kids.

  12. Felt Heart Necklace by Kids' Craft Room - I made felt heart necklaces for my daughter's preschool class once. Mine were way more complicated than these, which are so easy to make, your preschooler can do it!

  13. Four Seasons Felt Board by Crafts by Amanda - This is brilliant and on my list of crafts to add to our list here at home. What a great way to teach the seasons!

  14. Felt Corner Bookmarks by Ideas for the Home - Here's a great craft for older kids that promotes literacy. These bookmarks will be enjoyed by boys and girls alike.

  15. Minion Pencil Topper by Artsy Craftsy Mom - These are hilarious. If you have a minion lover in your house, this craft is a must.

  16. Felt Turkey by Living Life as Moms - Looking ahead to Thanksgiving, this felt turkey craft is fun for all ages.

  17. Felt Donuts by The Homespun Hydrangea - Here's another good addition to your kid's felt food collection. It's simple and super easy to make.

  18. Sunflower Craft by Made With Happy - This final felt craft is perfect for fall. But you can also use it as a counting activity (count the petals), or for a felt flower collection.



Supplies for Crafting with Felt


Here are my recommendations of basic supplies that we use when crafting with felt.




I also invested in this felt/dry-erase easel that we use A LOT!



And if you are looking for felt craft kits, here are some great ones on Amazon:



If you're looking for more art resources, check out these on MommyMaestra:



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Thursday, March 10, 2022

"The Park" Activity for Spanish Learners

 

Spring is trying really hard to push winter out and we are having some beautiful days that allow us to visit the park. Which makes this month's freebie from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, a perfect activity for young Spanish learners!

This month's freebie is an activity for learning park-related words. The Park: What Do You Like? Survey helps your young student learn the vocabulary associated with this place. This two-page download allows students to practice sentence building and conversation. You can also find an audio file below to help with pronunciation.

Download the printable file here

Download the audio file here


-----------------------------

Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Thursday, March 3, 2022

17 Dinosaur-Themed Crafts for Kids


You guys know that I have a 4-year-old. And he is all about EVERYTHING that is dinosaur related. I'm reminded of the
meme from Sheldon Comics that is of a graph showing the time in your life that you know the most about dinosaurs.

So in honor of my kid, I'm sharing this list of 15 dinosaur crafts for kids. We're already working our way through it!

Dinosaur Crafts for Kids


Each of these dinosaur crafts for kids are the perfect way for kids to use their imagination and creativity making their own prehistoric creatures! Whether it’s for a classroom craft, birthday party activity, or just for fun at home, there are so many awesome dinosaur crafts for kids to choose from!


  1. DIY Dino Bones Activity
    Do you have a young archaeologist in your house? Then this activity is for them! First, create your own dinosaur bones, teeth, and claws using air-dry clay. Then bury them. Then dig them up and record the data!


  2. DIY Fossil Dig
    This was part of my Summer of Fun series seven years ago! My son was 8 at the time and had a blast creating his own fossil dig. A list of materials is included.

  3. Handprint Dinosaur Card Craft
    Sam at Simple Everyday Mom has this super fun Triceratops handprint card that is pretty easy to put together. (My 4yo was quick to point out that it is not a Stegosaurus as I called it by mistake!)

  4. Paper Dinosaur Puppet Craft
    These puppets are perfect for story time. All you need is the free template, some construction paper (or colored cardstock), glue, and popsicle sticks. Then you can encourage your child to make up his own story using these puppets. :)

  5. Clothespin Dinosaur Craft
    This was the first craft we put together and my 4yo wanted to copy the color exactly. We didn't paint the clothes pins, though. And we used googly eyes instead of paint, but the joy he had was just as strong as it would have been if we had!


  6. Cupcake Liner Dinosaur Craft
    These are the cutest little cupcake liner dinosaurs! And putting them together is so simple. If you eat a lot of cupcakes at home, then you probably already have all the materials you need.

  7. Movable Dinosaur Craft
    Another great dino craft from Crafts by Amanda. This movable brachiosaurus (?) is 10 times the fun simply because his body parts move!

  8. Salt Dough Dinosaur Fossils
    These are crazy fun for little hands to make. And they even get to use their own dinosaur collection! All you need are 3 simple ingredients and then let the fun begin.

  9. Paper Plate Triceratops
    If you aren't afraid of a little paint in your little one's hands, then this step-by-step tutorial and video may be for you!

  10. Dinosaur Handprint Craft
    My 4yo is always asking to make handprint crafts, so this one from Mombrite is PERFECT for him...and maybe your child, too? I like handprint crafts because they let kids practice their tracing and cutting skills. Yay for fine-motor skill development!




  11. DIY Scratch Art Dinosaur Craft
    Here's another super clever activity from Messy Little Monster. Younger kids may need a little help with this one, but both they and older children with love this craft lesson. It involves creating a dinosaur from cardboard, layering it with media and then scratching it off to reveal the beautiful colors below.

  12. Tape Resist Dinosaur Bone Art
    If you're looking for STEAM activities, this is it! How fun is it to create your own dinosaur "skeleton" drawing using tape-resist paint techniques?

  13. Dinosaur Craft for Kids
    This is cute and fun for little fingers. Mom will have to probably cut out the pieces, though, for younger children. If you make several at a time, though, your kids can have a good time mixing and matching pieces!

  14. T-Rex Dinosaur Craft
    T-Rex is everyone's favorite. So this is an excellent activity for birthday parties or dino-themed classes. The best part is that Jeannie's template includes both a small and big version. :)

  15. DIY Felt Dinosaur Plushie
    Oh my gosh, this one makes me want to squeal. It's adorable! But not a craft for little ones to put together. Older kids or parents can make this easy plushie then give it to the younger kids to play with. Ha!


  16. Dinosaur Night Light
    For older kids who like more of a challenge, this one from Crafts by Amanda is the bomb! Your kids will love making their own night light while letting their imagination run wild.

  17. Bubble Wrap Print Dinosaurs
    Mess at its best! No one can resist bubble wrap - especially when you throw in a little paint!




Books & Printables


And if you have little ones, pairing one of these activities with a book - like this one from Laurie Berkner - is a win/win! I've even included a free download to go with the book. 

And for our bilingual learners, here's a printable set of dinosaur-themed puzzle cards with vocabulary in both English AND Spanish - you choose which language works best for your family.


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