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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

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Memorial Day
Category: Social Studies
Tags: memorial day

Google Homeschool Tags: google calendar hangouts app google maps app street view google maps

I've been thinking about how Google has become increasingly omnipresent in our homeschool. Besides Chrome being my main browser, and Google, my default search engine -- (BTW: here’s a useful infographic with tips for doing better searches) -- there’s Gmail, of course, and social sharing through G+, plus all the tools relating to them, such as:  


Google Calendar

I’ve always done “paperless planning,” --  creating, in Word, my own at-a-glance templates showing two grades at once – which, I figured, was mildly clever. Then I read about how some much more clever homeschoolers were using Google Calendar, and I made the switch. Although late to the party, I'm glad I finally arrived. Now, I have a calendar for each kid, and it’s very easy for them to just click into each subject and see what they’re doing that day. I attach any documents or websites we’re using, so all the information is in one convenient place. The calendar can also be set to send reminders via Gmail.

Google Docs

Google Docs are awesome tools for creating your own paperless lessons/worksheets on any topic. You can include links to videos and other resources, embed images, charts, and drawings, and include questions your learner can fill in right in the same doc. Here's an example. Click on the image to go to the document.

The sharing aspects of Google Docs are particularly useful. For example, If you make a copy of the above document, you can edit it: use it as is, or tweak it to suit your needs. Or make a copy and delete the resource areas so you have a blank to use as a template. It's a neat way for homeschoolers to share resources.

Group Learning With Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a text and video chat tool that can be used with a closed group, like a literature discussion circle. While I haven’t used this yet, I think it would have worked well for some co-op classes I was involved in. Our co-op met two or three Fridays a month, and one of the challenges we experienced, especially with ongoing projects, was keeping the kids engaged during the weeks we did not meet. We could have used Hangouts during those off weeks to brainstorm, collaborate, plan, and keep everyone on track, particularly in our video production class, and our journalism class where we were creating our own newsletters.

Even More Google Sites

As if that’s not enough, there is a diverse and ever-growing list of Google-related sites we’ve used, or will be using, at some point, such as:

  • Google Maps and Street View, which we’ve used to follow the travels of Dan and Amy Cahill as they hunt for the 39 Clues.

  • Google Earth Walks which has several math, science and social studies tours students can take. They can fly to locations and answer pop-up questions along the way. Many of the walks have answer keys.

  • US History Tours, also powered by Google Earth, enables you to visit and answer questions about historical events such as the American Revolution, the Lewis and Clark expedition, Civil War battles, and others.

  • RealWorld Math  enables students to take the math concepts they’re learning and apply them to a variety of tasks using information, images and tools in Google Earth. One lesson gives students practice solving volume problems using some famous geometric places (the Great Pyramid of Giza; the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the World Trade Center site). Other activities include: calculating time zone differences; estimating and measuring distances between landmarks, and others.

  • GeoGuesser  shows you a street view image of someplace in the world and you have to guess where you are by searching for clues in the picture (street signs, stores, people, etc.) You can narrow things down by continent, country, city and famous places, but it’s still pretty challenging. You can play by yourself, or email a challenge to a friend. When you’re both done with the contest, the results are emailed to you.

  • Google Maps Treks has lots of sites to explore, with great images and panoramic views.

  • My Maps can be used to make your own maps, (like, potential sites for my Eagle project). You can use different colors and markers to label locations. And, since it’s Google, your map can be shared with others if you’re doing group learning or collaboration.

  • STEMBite, a YouTube Channel started by a teacher who uses Google Glass to provide a first-person perspective on such topics as the physics of toys, chemistry in the kitchen, and biology in the backyard.

The internet has certainly introduced a plethora of new learning opportunities for all kinds of students. How do you use Google in your homeschool?

Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus
Tribute to Moms
Category: Misc.
Tags: happy mothers day mothers day quotes mothers day sayings mothers day ideas

* Mother’s Day, observed on the second Sunday in May, was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

* Celebrated Around the World: Mother’s Day is celebrated in more than 100 countries.

* Tributes to Mom:

   ** Gifts for Mother’s Day that Americans spend the most on include cards, flowers and dinners out.

  ** Let’s hear it for Mom! A traditional way to show appreciation is with loud and hearty clapping of hands, a custom that goes back at least to Roman times. Roman citizens applauded speeches and dramatic performances they liked. In England, those in the British Parliament approved of what someone was saying by shouting, “Hear him! Hear him!” (The shortened form, “Hear, hear,” we still use today). So, let’s all shout, “Hooray for Mom,” and give her a well-deserved round of applause.

 **A toast! How about raising our glasses and saying some nice words honoring Mom. It’s an idea that dates back to the Romans, who spiked glasses of wine with spiced toast during special ceremonies to pledge friendship. The toast enhanced the flavor of the wine by making it sweeter. This Mother’s Day, be sure to make your Mom the “toast of the town,” an 18th century custom that entails drinking to the health of a celebrated person – who better than Mom? 

* “Elbows off the table!” (and other well-worn platitudes): It’s generally considered proper etiquette to keep one’s elbows off the table during dinner, but the origin of this custom wasn’t necessarily about manners. According to one explanation, during medieval times, the common people were so eager to take advantage of an opportunity to dine at court, that they would pack themselves shoulder to shoulder on long wooden benches, leaving little room for arms on the table. Even today, following this rule can keep errant elbows from knocking over glasses and bowls, and creates more personal space. So Mom’s not really being a nudge. She’s just being practical. 

Other Classic Mom-isms There are many -- and many variations -- but these are some of my Mom’s personal favorites:

 Keep your wits about you!

You’ll get rickets! (if we didn’t eat our vegetables)

You’re not going out with me looking like that.

Because I SAID so!

Oh, fiddlesticks! Or Hells Bells! (to express frustration)

Finish your food; there are children starving all over the world.

This room is a pigsty.

When I was a kid, I had to walk miles through the deep snow to get to school.

What, you expect to be entertained 24 hours a day? (if we said we were bored)

This isn’t the Waldorf, you know.

Dont sit too close to the TV; it’ll ruin your eyes.

Let’s face it, if it hadn’t been for our mothers, we’d all have been standing in the middle of the street, talking to strangers, without our jackets. 

* “Now, as always, the most automated appliance in a household is the mother.” (Beverly Jones) Hey, Mom. Aren’t you glad that methods of cleaning clothes have progressed? Throughout dirty laundry history, Moms have done everything from pounding clothes against the rocks in a river, to dragging clothes through the seawater while riding in a boat. Not to mention washboards and all of that scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. Talk about labor intensive. Fully automated washing machines finally came along in the 1930s and 1940s – and a new day dawned. 

* The Old Gray Mare: If your mom colors her hair, she’ll be interested to know that particular element of her beauty regimen dates back to the Assyrians, circa 1500 B.C. Like the ancients, if Mom wants to employ natural dye methods, she can use what the Greeks used: yellow pollen, flour, or gold dust for blond. For brunette, she can try a Roman concoction made of boiled leeks and walnut shells. More daring Moms might want to sport the bright hair hues most often associated with 1980s punk rockers -- but the Saxons actually did this first, dying their hair red, green, orange and sky blue. 

* “Mama-mia, that’s a spicy meatball.” (1969 Alka-Seltzer ad slogan):  Just like “comfort” is associated with Mom, “comfort food” is associated with Mom’s Kitchen – or sometimes, Grandmom’s Kitchen. Those family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Just to smell them cooking takes you back to some warm, childhood memory – relieving pain, providing a sense of well-being. Kudos to all our moms who keep us nurtured and nourished – even if some of their meals, at times, result in some minor indigestion. 

“I love my mother as the trees love water and sunshine – she helps me grow, prosper, and reach great heights.” –Terry Gullemets

 Thank-you, Mom. And Happy Mother’s Day.

Much of the information on customs came from a cool book I checked out at the library: An Uncommon History of Common Things

 Fun book to read with the kids.  


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