Monday, March 23, 2020

Hi friends! I hope you are staying safe and well at home. I am an introvert at heart, but I also don't like being told what to do.  I get depressed when I feel trapped at home. It's a constant struggle between needing space and wanting to go out and explore the world, ha ha! And that is a normal daily struggle, so this social distancing thing is really messing with my sanity! But, like most of you, I'm just trying to make the best of it. One day at a time, right?

I thought I'd pop in and share a few more resources that may be useful if you are tired of hearing, "I'm bored!" for the eight millionth time. 

Wild + Free is offering a Homebound Activity Kit for young learners. They have a wide array of content bundles to buy and download - everything from gardening and homesteading to outdoor adventures, art, music and more. If you click the link to the Homebound kit ($29 for the full set), there are 4 FREE activities to download and try.

Big Life Journal has put together a free downloadable Stay at Home Care Package with Indoor Games and Activities. Check out their website for additional activities and a podcast for kids.

Many artists are jumping online and offering free courses and downloads, which is fantastic. Be sure to check out your local small businesses to see what they are offering. It's a great way to give back to your community and help support entrepreneurs. For example, a local Virginia Beach muralist is offering free coloring pages at, and AR Workshops in our area have created Take and Make craft kits for curbside pick up - great for all ages!

If you are looking for something a little more active, Wonder and Wildness has a great tutorial for learning how to juggle.

Further, if you find yourself cooking at home more than usual, or just in need of some new recipe ideas, my long time pal, Gina at Kleinworth and Co, has an amazing blog full of delicious recipes in easy to find categories. You are sure to find some inspiration! While you're there, you might also check out her printables, like these cute spring coloring bookmarks, or these cursive writing pages

For many more ideas, check out my previous post of educational activities for home learning here

Hang in there friends! We'll get through this together!

By the way, none of these are affiliate links or ads (not that there is anything wrong with that). But I am currently just sharing a few favorite resources.  :)

Resources for Learning at Home

Friday, March 20, 2020

Making the Best of It
Resources for Learning at Home

Hey friends! I hope you are well and staying safe at home. As I promised in my last post, I've put together some no-nonsense learning resources for kids and teens (and even adults) to help get you through this new school-at-home reality. 

As a homeschooler for the past 12 years, I know first hand how frustrating and overwhelming it can feel to school at home (it's no walk in the park). But it is also full of unexpected joys, and can be richly rewarding. 

Be patient with yourself and your kids, and do your best to have fun by keeping your sense of humor along the way. You don't have to be a perfect teacher or a perfect parent. Just keep showing up. Find unique ways to navigate the ups and downs together. Sometimes plain old perseverance, or compassion in the midst of struggle, is the greatest lesson for the day. Those skills are often more important than grammar or algebra anyway. 

Without further ado, below are my recommendations by age group. Please review each site and use your own discretion as to appropriateness for your individual child's needs and maturity level. 

Early Childhood:
Starfall - free language and math activities for Pre-K - Grade 1. Greater access with paid subscription but there's plenty to get you started for free.
PoissonRouge - A site we loved when my kids are little, they have reduced their free activities to online painting only, but offer a free trial for 24 hours and have dropped subscription prices to only $14 per year if you wish to sign up. They have expanded their language, games and creativity exercises to include a STEM section. Worth checking out if you have exhausted your usual go to sites.
SwitcherooZoo - for animal lovers! Free games, videos and activities related to animals. Plus teacher resources and lesson plans if you wish to dig deeper. 
Highlightskids - like the magazines from your youth. Online games and learning activities for free. Hidden Pictures were my favorite. How about you?
Tumblebooks - online books for kids grouped by reading level, plus a few games and activities. You can choose to read along or read on your own. 
Mark Kistler - Free drawing lessons for kids.
Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems.
ReadingEggs - reading and math lessons for kids ages 2-13. Free 30 day trial. 
ParticleMen - Quirky educational songs by They Might Be Giants - try Seven, Roy G Biv and Seven Days of the Week
BrainPopJr - video shorts for littles. Some free resources and more by subscription.
Teach Your Monster to Read - monstrously fun reading adventures online and on their app.

Elementary - Middle School:
Kahn Academy -amazing free math and coding resources and more. They are currently offering free daily schedules for ages 4-18 to help keep your kids learning at home. 
Liberty's Kids - Cartoon episodes of American history.
Crash Course Kids - fun science episodes online.
SciShowKids - bite sized science episodes. Fun and free.
BBCEarthKids  - nature and science videos for kids. 
Or a little Origami might just be a nice change of pace?
BrainPop is offering a free 30 day subscription - we love their video shorts, quizzes and games grouped by subject.
The Kid Should See This - a collection of interesting video from around the web, organized by subject.
Generation Genius - science lessons grouped by grade level (mostly K-2 and 3-5, but a few others). They are offering a free 30 day trial.

Middle School - High School:
Thought Cafe - promotes education and critical thinking through video shorts.
Crash Course - thoughtful, entertaining and informative videos series by subject.
SciShow - edutainment for science-minded curious kids.
SciShowSpace - add on to the above. 
Kahn Academy -amazing free math and coding resources and more. They are currently offering free daily schedules for ages 4-18 to help keep your kids learning at home.
LifeNoggin - explaining the mysteries of life one video at a time.
BBCEarth - celebrating nature and science through breathtaking video.
Socratica - biology, chemistry, Python, SQL, study tips and more.
MinutePhysics - cool physics videos and other sweet stuff.

Be sure to check the websites or social media pages of your local libraries and museums. Most are offering free online resources for at home learning and virtual field trips! Support local where you can! For example in our area, Nauticus, The Mariner's Museum, Colonial Williamsburg and others are offering educational resources online. National Parks and Museums have offers as well.

Also check out apps - Stack the States, MathmateerWordScapes and Kami are a few of our faves.

You can also find lots of freebies and lessons for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. Most are well worth the nominal price and you can read reviews and view sample lessons before you buy. 

Yoga with Adrienne - free yoga lessons and meditation lessons.
TedEd - something for everyone. Check out the various channels to narrow down search results. 
CreativeLive - streaming free courses in photography, creativity and more. Learn something new!

This is by no means an exhaustive list - just some of our favorites. I'll post more resources as I can, but I hope you find something interesting here to get you started. 

Be well friends!

Back in the Blogging Saddle

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Hey friends! I know it has been a while since I've posted here. Life got very busy and I had trouble keeping up with everything. Things have certainly changed in recent weeks. I've gone from working full time and shuffling kids from activity to activity, to hardly working at all and being house bound. It all seems a bit like a sci-fi movie in the making.

I know many of us are worried, anxious, frustrated and fearful about what the next few weeks and months may bring. The constant flow of bad news and cautionary tales on social media and newscasts feels a bit overwhelming. But I have also seen an amazing outpouring of kindness, helpfulness, and generosity. One thing I know is true, now is the time for lifting each other up and offering support where we can.

Feeling helpless is awful and leads to despair, but feeling helpful is empowering and leads to hope. For this reason, it is more important than ever to find ways to help each other, and to build new pathways to a positive future, even if we aren't yet sure what that looks like.

While I am new to a life of social distancing and/or quarantine, I am not new to homeschooling (12 years now) or photography (8 years as a pro).  One of the things I found most overwhelming when I started each of those journeys was the sheer volume of information to sift through. Yes, there are tons of free and inexpensive resources available online, but many are worthless or simply lead down a rabbit hole of opt-ins, emails, and webinars with mere crumbs of useful info. With all my new found free time, I've decided to share some helpful resources that bypass the marketing mumbo-jumbo and take you straight to the good stuff. My hope is that it lightens your burden just a bit, if you are finding yourself suddenly "home schooling." I also plan to host a photography challenge for anyone looking for an outlet for creativity.

While these posts may not change the world or solve all of our problems, I hope that they will at least brighten your day and make your life a wee bit easier in these challenging times. I promise not to bombard you with endless links, and to share only information and resources that I have explored myself and found helpful.

A few quick educational links to get started:
Early ed through elementary - ReadingEggs is offering a free account for 30 days which includes language and math skills. No credit card required.

Elementary through middle school - BrainPop is offering free access for 30 days. You do need to sign up with your email account. No credit card required. They have tons of kid-sized videos and related games & quizzes organized by subject. We've used it for years and love it.

Photography & science related - today Nikon is hosting a full day of wildlife and conservation presentations by professional photographers.

Stay tuned for posts with more resources coming soon! Thank you for visiting and stay well friends!

On a personal note: sharing a recent image I took while testing out the Nikon Z6 Camera for a week.

Reflections. Not a great photo at first glance, but so much of me is in this frame - homeschool books on the desk, my kids’ art work on the fridge, a Dane staring back at me, the swing set my kids used to play on daily but have now abandoned, a sassy teenager at my shoulder, my wedding ring, the bracelet my grandmother gave me, my camera...all little reflections of a life lived, and the soul that brought them together. 


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