Thursday, August 30, 2012

Are You a Technology Native, Or A Foreigner?

Just as soon as I think I am all tech savvy, my savviness is obsolete and I am back at square one.  I confess, I am not a native.  I think by virtue of my birth date, I am excluded as a technology native.  However, my children are fluent in the language of tech, so I keep pluggin' away and learning new things.  I try to keep up.  I am not ready to throw in the towel and be left behind quite yet.

Like it or not, our kids are growing up in a technological world.  It is a wise parent who navigates the world of technology and doses it out to her children in an age appropriate fashion, mindful of the bad that comes with the good.  None of us want to have children with mush for brains (think hours on end of fast paced video games etc.)  but on the other hand, I don't want my children to be ill prepared for the world they will live and work in as adults.  So, I am on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.  I blog, use a Kindle and have an iPad for work.   I have been through the Google App Training and have my whole life synced to the Google calendar.  (Lucky for you, you can only see the work part of the schedule.  No need for your blood pressure to rise with mine.)

I say all of that so that I can tell you this; there are a lot of cool resources out there in cyber space.  Really.

When I was in college, the best way to do research was to haul yourself to the Way Big University Library and make a home for yourself near the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature and the micro-fiche film.  (some of you probably are young enough that you have no idea what I am talking about)  A type writer and a bottle of white out were your best friend, unless you had a friend that could type better than you for a small fee.  Finding information was tedious.  It took time, and you took lots of notes.  Fast forward 30 some years and my son has an ipad he takes to class which records the lecture while he takes notes on the same device.  If he needs a file on his computer, the ipad connects to it remotely and he doesn't even need to walk back to his dorm room.  Everything he needs to know is in his hands as fast as he can "google" it.

So, back to the really cool resources.  I have found that following certain educational tweeters on Twitter is a great way to learn new things.  Melissa Edwards is one home school mom I follow.  I also find encouragement as well as some great ideas from blogs.  There are some excellent home school web sites to visit.  Facebook can also be used as more than just a way to connect with family and friends.  There are pages to follow that will plop little messages of encouragement, great ideas and new blog posts right into your newsfeed.

So, I think this might be a great place for you all to share with each other some of the great cyber resources you use on a regular (or not so regular) basis.  If you are a technology native, share your expertise with those of us who are a little more seasoned in life.  We need a push once in a while to feel more comfortable with all of this.  We also need some mentoring to learn how.

Your turn!  Make a comment and share your thoughts.  And if you would like to have a little workshop to learn more, let me know and maybe we can get together and help each other out!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kids' Collection

 Good morning!

I can't believe how fast this school year is flying by.  I need to start putting together the annual Kids’ Collection (a collection of student writing and artwork from this past year)  As in years past, I have collected some writing that the children have done for me, but I am sure they have done much more with you!  If you have anything that you would like to submit, please send it to me either as a hard copy, or in electronic form as a Word document or PDF file no later than April 23.  I would really like to get the books together and distributed to all of you before I get swamped in graduation!  Our middle son, Rob, graduates this year (where does the time go??)
And if I don’t get it done during the week of April 23, I fear it won’t get done till after graduation.

So, to recap; poetry, stories, artwork, reports or anything else you think would be interesting to share.  To me by April 23 at the latest.  Earlier would be better.

Thanks so much!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Just Love a Good Picture Book!

Today is National Children's Picture Book Day!  I just love a good picture book and there are so very many good ones out there.  I came across this list of Top 100 Children's Books of all Time.

I really enjoyed a walk down memory lane as I scrolled through the list.  Some, like Tikki Tikki Tembo and Are You My Mother, bring back powerful childhood memories.  I can still see my mother taking a huge long-drawn-out breath each time she said, "Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo has fallen into the well!"  And in our household, a crane was forever (yes, my mom and brothers still even now) referred to as a "snort".

Other books are cherished titles that I read with my own boys.  I adore I Love You Forever, and  Brown Bear Brown Bear.  The first I can never get through without getting choked up, and the second reminds me of those preschool/pre-reading days when the boys would memorize the text and think they were reading.

I also can't walk past a marvelous retold fairy tale.  A couple of my favorites in that category would be The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.

A more recent find that made the top 100 list is a book I recently sent to my niece in Tennessee for her birthday.  It's called Press Here, and it's just an awesome little book.  It starts with a single yellow dot, and the simple instruction to press it. From there you are sent on a  magical journey that shows you things are not always what you think...

Yep, I just can't help myself.  Children's picture books just make me giddy!  Check out the list  and take your own trip down memory lane.  I'd love to have you share some of your favorites and the memories that go along with them!

Still in one peace,


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

Infrastructure and communities have been the enrichment focus lately here at the Atlantic Home School Assistance Program.  Water, power, roads, bridges; boats, planes, trains, and automobiles!  It's really amazing when you realize that a mere 150 years ago there was hardly a road in the state of Iowa.  Take a look at a map now!  We have roads crisscrossing the entire state, and every one of them was built by someone.  The Romans taught us a lot about how to build roads.  They actually built them in layers, just as we do now.  Did you know the Roman empire had over 50,000 miles of roads, some of which (the Appian Way for example) are still in use today?

We are just starting to take a look at bridges.  Some of them are pretty amazing structures!  (Can you imagine going back to life without them?)  Beam bridges, arch bridges, truss bridges, cable bridges, suspension bridges, cable-stayed bridges and even bridge/tunnel combinations! (ever heard of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel?)  One of the country's oldest bridges is the Philippi Covered Bridge in western Virginia.  The double-barreled 286-foot long, covered truss was completed in 1852 by builder Henry Hartley and cost  just over twelve thousand dollars.   Another modern marvel is the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, (pictured above) one of the world's longest cable-stayed bridges, spanning the mouth of Tampa Bay.  It's a real beauty and has won numerous design awards since opening in 1987.

Well, we will be swimming in raw spaghetti and glue before long, as I attempt to mentor your kids in the building of bridges.  Hopefully I will have pictures to share in the future.  Until then...

Still in one peace,


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ok, right up front I need to apologize for being a terrible blogger this year!  Having a fuller schedule is wonderful, but I have not done a very good job of keeping you updated on the wonderful learning happening in our home school assistance program....sorry.

I am really enjoying seeing science through the eyes of children!  In late December we started delving into physical science.  I brushed up on force and motion (the big ideas) and tackled teaching Newton's Three Laws of Motion to young people.  We used stuffed animals and balloons to illustrate the concepts and even found examples of all three laws in children's books.

January has found us putting knowledge into practice.  The children designed and tested "balloon racers", speedy little vehicles that travel on a string course in the hallway.  We found through testing, trial and error, that design, balloon size and many other factors determine how speedy those little guys are.  We also learned how to calculate speed, and averaged distances and times.  (And learned that spit really accumulates in a balloon that is blown up over and over, and that when it pops, said spit is also a speedy traveler)

The next big idea was energy!  We started by timing ourselves running up a flight of stairs.  The stairway was measured and converted to meters.   We found our weight in Newtons and then did some scientific calculations to determine how many joules of work we did.  Then we used that to find out how many watts of power we used to run up the stairs.  It was really fun to compare and contrast our magic number of watts to the number of watts used by common household items.

But the energy fun in only beginning!  The last couple of weeks we have had a small solar panel and wind turbine in the room.  Ask you children about alternative power sources.  They have been coming up with lots of great ideas.  If you have a chance to stop by the room, you will see their plans for everything from televisions powered by hamsters running on a wheel, to solar/wind/water powered robots that will clean up your town!    Who knows, maybe one of these little ones will solve some of our world's energy problems.

So, that is the past couple of months in a nutshell.  Stop by anytime.  I enjoy your ideas and input, and as always, I love that you share your precious children with me.

For now,