April 27, 2013

Free Fractions Printable

One of the reasons I love schooling my children at home is because it allows each of them the opportunity to learn in his/her own style.  One of my children is a very kinesthetic learner.  She learns best when I give her a manipulative so she can really experience whatever it is she is learning.  So it was no surprise to me when she learned fractions that the fraction bars provided by her school were just the tool she needed to fully grasp the concept.  They were such an important part of the learning experience that I decided to make my own fraction bars and post them online for free.  Visit my CurrClick store to download your free copy.  Regardless of what type of school your child(ren) attend, having a set of these fraction bars at home can save time and frustration when solving fraction problems.


April 24, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: Free Poetry Audios

Sometimes reading poetry can be difficult if you aren't familiar with the rhythm  or tempo of the poem.  This is especially true for children who aren't practiced readers.  Here is this week's Mid-week Morsel to the rescue! Learn Out Loud hosts some of the best audio and video content on the web. Included in that is over 100 free audio files of poetry being read, sometimes by the author.  Entertain your family at home, or on the go with some classic poems.


April 20, 2013

Shopping Bag DIY

Earth Day is Monday.  It is one of my daughter's favorite holidays.  Her birthday is near Earth Day, and so she feels very in tune with it.  She is my little Earth Girl.  She loves projects that give her the opportunity to recycle, reuse, or reduce.  This year for our Earth Day project we re-purposed two of her favorite shirts into re-usable shopping bags.  She outgrew the shirts a couple of sizes ago, but couldn't bear to let them go, so with a few cuts and about 5 minutes worth of sewing we converted them to shopping bags she can use for years to come.  (Stains and all!)  The whole project only took about half an hour, and is simple enough for an 8-10 year old to do independently. Here is what we did...
Start with any t-shirt.  (Non-fitted shirts will give you more square bags.)
Choose old shirts from your closet or hit up your local thrift store.
Cut off the sleeves as close to the seam as you can without cutting the serged edge.
Not cutting the finished edge of the fabric will help prevent fraying.
Turn the shirt inside out and fold it in half.  Use chalk or pencil to mark where you
want to cut around the neck.  Use straight pins to hold the layers of fabric in place.
Cut along the line you drew.
Here is what it will look like at that point.
Flip the shirt inside out again, and sew a straight stitch across the bottom hem.
Here is the finished product.

What ideas do you have for recycling, reusing, and reducing?


April 18, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: Write a Poem

Most people enjoy poems.  However, many are intimidated by the thought of writing one.  Such was the case for my daughter.  She was asked to write a poem about summer for her Literature class.  Initially, she was overwhelmed.  She didn't know where to begin.  I helped her get started by showing her examples of different types of poems, and letting her choose the style that appealed to her most.  Next, we used a graphic organizer in her workbook to generate ideas and focus her thoughts.  I created a free graphic organizer for you similar to what we used.  She did a great job.  Here is her finished product...

Can you tell I'm a proud Momma?  As we started this process, I started gathering resources, not only to use with my daughter, but to share with you all as well.  Here they are...

The first step is to learn about different types of poetry.  ThinkQuest and Creative Writing Now were the best websites I found that really explained not only the basics of poetry writing, but the details of the different types of poetry as well.  

Now comes the hard part; actually writing a poem.  For a quick burst of inspiration, use Scholastic's Poetry Idea Engine.  It's a cute little website where a series of simple choices will help you build haikus, free verse, limericks, and more.  The folks at Magnet Poetry created a Kids Area where kids can use digital versions of their word magnets to build poetry online.  It's a great alternative when a blank sheet of paper is too daunting.  If you're looking for an all-in-one site, Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry 4 Kids website has great how-to's that explain the differences between types of poetry and give advice on how to write them.  However, if you're looking for ways to incorporate poetry into your curriculum, Poets.org has a great collection of curriculum and lesson plans available.

Finally, a poem is nothing if it is not shared with others.  First and foremost, I would love for you to get creative with the poem's presentation and post a picture of it on my Facebook page and my Google+ page.  I have also found a few other ways to share your child(ren)'s poems!  Scholastic allows you to upload the poem so that it can be shared on their website.  If your child has a competitive spirit, Library of Poetry and Poetic Power both run poetry contests.  Both contests are free to enter; and who knows, maybe your child's poem will win and be published!


April 13, 2013

The Bright Ideas Company is Now on CurrClick

The Bright Ideas Company is a project my husband and I started in 2007 as a way to share the teaching aids I created for our daughter.  Our sons are nearly seven years older and were already in school when Sadie was born.  Not surprisingly, by the time she was a toddler she wanted to have school also.  Never wanting to discourage learning, I indulged her, thinking she would loose interest quickly.  Boy was I wrong!  She loved it!  She quickly learned her letters & letter sounds, and was reading simple words by age three.  By four, she was counting to 100; even skip counting by 2's and 5's to 100 before kindergarten.  

Like most people, we have always lived on a budget, and effective teaching aids and easy reader books are not always cost effective.  Neither are they easy to find.  Frustrated, I decided to simply make the materials I needed to teach my daughter at home.  I wrote books, and created printables & games for her.  Many friends and family members had children about the same age, so I decided to give the materials a more professional look and share them with others.  I've always stated on my blog that the good life should be free...and it should.  Unfortunately, the real world is not free at all.  And so, we have listed our products on CurrClick at an affordable price.  However, I will continue to offer freebies and special offers for my blog readers.

Visit CurrClick to check out our product line.  I am currently in the process of reformatting all the materials I've made so that they can be available online, so more materials will be added as I get them ready.  Books are available as downloads to be viewed on your device or printed by you.  CurrClick does offer books as printed materials shipped to you, and I am working on getting that set up as well.  I will update this page when that option is available.  Here is a quick preview of some of our products.  

Available Now

Doodle Letters: Printable pages for the beginning writer.  Available in ball & stick print, casual print, and D'Nealian print. 

Sing & Sign: Letter Sounds and Letter Signs: A simple song sung to a familiar tune combined with American Sign Language make learning letters and letter sounds more fun and interactive.  

April 10, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: A Maths Dictionary for Kids

How do you explain what a reciprocal is?  What does FOIL stand for?  What is a hypotenuse?  How many times have you tried to help your child with his math only to realize that you either don't remember elementary math, or can't explain it in a way he can understand?  Perhaps you need A Maths Dictionary.  A Maths Dictionary is a handy little website I found containing over 600 common math terms, and over 250 printable math charts.  Whether you are helping your traditionally schooled child with homework, or  planning lessons for your homeschooled child, I think you'll find this website very helpful.


April 6, 2013

My 5 Favorite Apps (for Math)

Earlier this week I said that April is Poetry Month.  However, it is also National Math Awareness Month.  I decided this was the perfect time to bring back the My 5 Favorite Apps list.  So many of us are always on the go these days.  Take advantage of the free time your children have while they are riding in the car, or sitting in a waiting room and download these free apps so they can get some math practice.  As before, I have an Android phone, but I've done my best to find the iPhone version of each app.

5.  Math Workout - What I like about Math Workout is that it is 20 fast-paced questions.  It is simple and no frills, which makes it great for sneaking in a quick practice.  Here is Math Workout on iTunes.
4.  Math Attack - A great multiple choice math practice game that can include multiple operands.  Unfortunately, I did not find this game, or a comparable  alternative, on iTunes.
3.  Math Pack - As a mom, this is my favorite math app.  Math Pack goes way beyond simple flash cards.  There are options for division rules, fractions, decimals, and more!  It covers math from kindergarten through 8th grade, which makes it great for older kids too.  I did find Math Pack on iTunes, however it costs $0.99 there.
2.  Math Space - My daughter enjoys this game.  It's kind of like Asteroid meets math practice.  A math problem appears at the top of the screen.  Tap the corresponding enemy fighter to destroy it.  I did not find Math Space on iTunes, however Brain Warp appears to be similar.
1.  Math Race - This is my daughter's favorite math app.  She chose this as number 1.  It's a simple concept; correct answers power your vehicle.  The more questions you get right, and the faster you enter them, the better your race car does.  There is also the option to simply race as a nice brain break from math.  I did not find Math Race on iTunes, however Math Racing looks like a good replacement.

What apps can you recommend for math practice?  Comment below to share.


April 3, 2013

Mid-week Morsel: Shel Silverstein

                    Grandma sent the hammock,

                    The good Lord sent the breeze.

                    I’m here to do the swinging—

                    Now, who’s gonna move the trees?

                    ~Shel Silverstein

Spring is in the air.  April is here, and with it comes Poetry Month.  I couldn't think of a better way to kick off poetry month than with one of my childhood favorites, Shel Silverstein.  It seems nearly every student at one time or another has checked Where The Sidewalk Ends out of the library.  His poems are fun & unconventional, and take the form & structure out of reading & writing poetry.  His website is just as fun with event kits, activity booklets, and even a kids only area full of games, puzzles, and e-cards.  It's a great introduction to poetry for kids of all ages.