A Grab Bag of Useful Resources

2019_2_15 - A Grab-Bag of Helpful Resources_Sara Jones.jpg

Homeschoolers tend to be an individualistic bunch, so when looking for ways to teach our children, we often go beyond the standard lineup of textbooks and curriculum. Here’s a “grab bag” of resources that our family has found helpful recently:

The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, by William Boniface (novels):  In Superopolis,The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, Book 1: The Hero Revealed by [Boniface, William]everybody has a superpower . . . except for Ordinary Boy. He can’t glow like Halogen Boy, doesn’t have a sixty-foot retractable tongue like Tadpole, and has perfectly ordinary hands and fingers unlike Lobster Boy. Instead, Ordinary Boy relies on his smarts to save Superopolis from nefarious plots and evil villains. In addition to the entertaining characters and plethora of puns, the books also discuss concepts like supply and demand, or the election process. All of my children have enjoyed these books and are disappointed that the series is only three books long.

Ted Ed (YouTube channel): It’s not unusual for me to launch into an explanation of some scientific fact or phenomena, only for Sparkler to say, “Oh, yes, I know about that! I watched a Ted Ed video on it.” These short (less than 10 minutes) animated videos deal with science, history, and math on a middle- to high-school level. They include titles like Why Don’t Perpetual Machines Ever Work? and Why Are Fish Fish-Shaped? (Full disclosure, I haven’t watched all of the videos myself, so parents might want to preview them first.)

The King of Random (YouTube channel): They make miniature forges in their back yard, show how to carve a swan out of an apple, build popsicle-stick crossbows, and melt down 100 lipsticks in one cauldron . . . just to see what happens. This channel is chock-full of explosive, interesting, and rather dangerous experiments. It’s also very informative. For instance, can you really turn a charcoal briquette into a crystal by freezing it in peanut butter, as a popular video claims? King of Random tackles that challenge and then explains the science behind it.

DuoLingo (phone app): A few weeks ago, I noticed Darren saying foreign words into his phone. He’d downloaded the free app DuoLingo and was learning the basics of French through fifteen-minute daily lessons. Intrigued, I looked it up and discovered a vast array of language lessons available, including whatever they speak in the Game of Thrones universe.

I chose Spanish for myself. DuoLingo fits pretty effortlessly into my day. The lessons are a combination of choosing word-boxes, typing English translations, and typing words in your chosen language. They also include listening and speaking exercises. (And the app is very forgiving as far as accent goes.)

We even had our children choose a language for February School, just to get some basics down. I’m not saying that any of us are close to fluent. But with this nifty little app, we know a lot more of a different language than we ever have before.

The Time Traveler’s Guide to . . . by Ian Mortimer (nonfiction): Don’t be misled by the title; these are not science fiction, but history books about different eras in England. Mortimer has written three of Guides—one for Medieval England, one for Elizabethan England, and one for 17th-century England. These books are different from other histories, which tend to be dense and dry and focus on important events and people. These books instead talk about what ordinary life was like. They answer questions like “What would I wear?” or “What would my house look like?” or “What would I do for fun?” Excerpts from these books served as our history reading for this year’s February School. I, meanwhile, read all three of them in their entirety with pleasure.

Although we do use a lot of textbooks in our schooling, we enjoy the fact that we can also collect fun and unexpected ways to learn. What surprises are in your “grab bag” of useful resources?

—Sara

Photo Credit: iStock

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One Comment on “A Grab Bag of Useful Resources”

  1. dolphinwrite
    March 2, 2019 at 3:53 pm #

    I remember the phrase, there’s no “I” in team. Later, I often heard people talk with the word “we” whenever they made a point. We think this. We think that. As if, the more people are involved in an idea, the more purposeful that idea. While I understand the importance of cooperation and working together, that ideas accepted by the whole will have the “team” working together, possibly more effectively (buy-in), sometimes the individual, thinking outside the box, has the answers. Popularity is not always the key.
    I believe it’s very important for our youth to think for themselves, be able to reason and understand, apart from others. That doesn’t mean they don’t have friends. That doesn’t mean they don’t cooperate. But a group of friends, each able to think for his or herself, reason on their own, but also cooperate and work together in trading ideas, is important. And sometimes, a boy or girl will have to learn, while they may have the best idea, they may have to go along with the others because that’s what the group chose. Say, when they grow up, they’re working for a company, they may have to go along with the boss or “team,” even if they see a better way. However, in learning others’ ways, they will still be learning, but more importantly, able to cooperate and make use of alternate ideas. A lot of this can be learned in the home.

    Liked by 1 person

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