The NEW Industrial Revolution

One thing I really like to do is go to our local library and browse through the magazines. It’s a real treat because I would never order so many magazines and I certainly would never be able to keep them in the perfect order they do at the library!

Last week I happened upon an April 2014 issue of Popular Mechanics. It isn’t something I usually read, but the heading on the cover caught my eye. “25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream,” really inspired me to continue reading! I was spellbound for a good hour as I read about each of these interesting young new innovators. The write up on the woman Limor Freid really intrigued me. It wasn’t her vibrantly hot pink hair that intrigued me the most. It was her inventions and her mission. She was busy at M.I.T. studying for her master’s degree when she started a company called Adafruit. When I went to the website, read all about the company and what they offer, I felt like I just won a million dollars!

If you enjoy tinkering with electronics or are a budding engineer, you will love this! Try making the “MintyBoost” that charges your mobile device and is made in an Altoids tin!

 

What's a Wiki?

So many of my students have been using Wiki sites for their research and bibliographies, that I thought it was time to say, “STOP IT!”

Seriously! A Wiki site is not a reliable source for valid information. All Wiki sites are created and edited by ANYONE. That’s right! ANYONE. Any person that has a computer and the internet can put information onto a wiki site. Wikipedia is an example of a wiki site in which many people can edit, collaborate, add and delete information. There are no actual “authors” of the content. For this reason wikis are not used in schools as a reliable resource for information. Oak Meadow, like most schools, does not accept their use.

However, it may be fun to participate in the process of a wiki. It is an evolving creation by many! Here is a link to get you started:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

 

Morse Code

It is so easy to send a text message these days by way of cell phones or the internet, that it is hard to imagine that at one time there was no way to communicate with other people a distance away unless you used the postal mail. When Samuel Morse invented a way to send messages that were a code of electrical impulses, our lives changed forever! Those dots and dashes could be sent and translated over a distance making it possible to send emergency messages to places throughout the country. Many of you are studying, or will be studying, about magnetism and electricity in the 8th grade physics course. I found this fun website that translates a sentence that you write into Morse Code. You can then click “play” and hear the dots and dashes of the message. Send something to a friend! Here’s the Morse Code Translator.

Magic Moon

moon over water

The Moon
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

In the first and second grades, the Oak Meadow curriculum suggests creating a monthly calendar to observe and understand the rhythmical monthly cycles of the moon. In third grade, the syllabus explores the moon cycle and its effect upon the plants and animals. The fourth grade astronomy block offers a more extensive study of the moon, including a focus on lunar eclipses.

 

bloodredmoon03Next week, a total lunar eclipse will occur in the late evening of April 14th and in the early morning hours of April 15th .  It is known as the blood moon eclipse and will be visible across North America. This blood moon tetrad will reoccur three more times at intervals of six months. The video clip by NASA explains this special event in further detail. Here is another video clip from “The Weather Channel” to further whet your appetite! 

 

Many poets have written inspirational poems about the moon. The famous Robert Louis Stevenson bookStevenson poem, “The Moon”, has even been put into a lovely book format, whimsically illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson.

 

 

 

 

The following poem was written by Olivia Freitas. Perhaps it would be a good one for your children to learn and recite in preparation for viewing this upcoming, extraordinary phenomenon of the magic moon.

Moon

the moon the moon
shining brightly in a pool of water
the moon the moon
glistening so brightly on the ground
the moon the moon
like a white shining marble floating in the sky
the moon the moon
what would we do without the moon

moonspell

Yes, You Can!

Sometimes the hardest part of getting started with homeschooling is believing that you can do it. I’m here to tell you that yes, you can homeschool!

Photo credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird. Flickr.com.
Photo credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird. Flickr.com.

There are many reasons that lead families to consider homeschooling. Often it comes up when a child’s school is not a good match for their needs. Sometimes it’s driven by a parent’s desire to guide their child’s learning in the context of their own values. Sometimes children need a more flexible schedule in order to pursue athletic or artistic training, and sometimes parents simply can’t imagine missing out on the excitement of educational discovery.

How do you know for sure if homeschooling is the right fit for you and your child? The decision to homeschool is a big one, and it is normal to have feelings of uncertainty before taking such a big leap.

Expertise

Always remember that you are the #1 expert on your child. This means you have insights that classroom teachers do not have. You know your child’s learning style and can give him or her more targeted attention and personal support than even the best classroom teacher ever could, even if you have other responsibilities or children at home. Your intuition and your knowledge of your child are two of your most powerful assets as a homeschooling parent. None of us have all of the answers up front, but you can trust your heart to be a reliable tool for figuring it out as you go.

Teaching

Parents with a wide range of educational levels and experiences can successfully homeschool. You do not have to be an experienced teacher to be able to homeschool your child! You also do not have to have an advanced education of any kind. One of the joys of homeschooling is learning new things alongside your child. Some common questions about homeschooling are addressed on the Oak Meadow website and here in this blog.

Photo credit: Asian Art Museum. Flickr.com. 
Photo credit: Asian Art Museum. Flickr.com.

If you find the word “teacher” feels uncomfortable, try thinking of yourself as your child’s educational facilitator. You don’t have to teach everything yourself; you can draw from many resources and engage other adults to help your child learn. There are many ways to support your child’s learning experience without doing it all yourself. Local enrichment classes, homeschool co-ops, library programs, wilderness days, volunteer positions, distance-learning programs, tutoring, hobby clubs, one-on-one mentoring…the possibilities are many. Be creative in your approach, and trust in your ability to coordinate the pieces that make up the whole.

Community

A new adventure can feel easier when others who have gone before can share what they have learned. There are successful homeschoolers all over the country and all over the world. Many of them have organized groups that meet on a regular basis so that parents can swap ideas and children can connect with their peers. It really helps to know you’re not alone in this experience.

Photo credit: FitnessFreakLA. Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: FitnessFreakLA. Wikimedia Commons

If you’re lucky, there’s a homeschool group already going strong in your area. If not, it might seem at first that there are no local homeschoolers to be found. But don’t let that stop you from continuing to look! Ask at the public library, local co-ops, learning centers (history, environmental, museums, whatever you have nearby). Put up posters; start a playgroup or learning group. You might need to stretch your definition of “local.” You might even choose to seek community online. Check out Oak Meadow’s Get Connected page for more information about online resources.

Flexibility

Homeschooling can be as flexible or as structured as you need or want it to be. Some homeschooling parents work part-time or full-time and focus on supporting their child’s learning when they’re not at work. Others craft a patchwork schedule that allows them to be present as their children learn. Some engage the help of caregivers as part of their family’s homeschooling team.

Some families have demanding travel or training schedules, so they fit homeschooling in around those activities. Other families function best with a non-negotiable daily/weekly/monthly routine at home. All families are unique in their needs and solutions. There are a no “right” answers. It’s up to you to find and follow the rhythm that works for your family.

Legal Considerations

In the U.S., each state has a different take on what homeschoolers must do to stay in compliance with education laws. These requirements may seem overwhelming, but families have succeeded in homeschooling in every state and in numerous other countries. Start by contacting the Superintendent of Schools in your town or the Department of Education in your state or locality to find out what is expected. Remember that some of the people you speak with may not have experience with homeschooling and might have misconceptions about the state’s role in home learning, so be patient and persistent. The Home School Legal Defense Association has excellent information and resources, including up-to-date laws for every state.

Getting Started

Homeschooling is a big adventure, and most of us have no previous experience with anything like it. If you’re not sure where to start or how to proceed, there are many resources and curriculum packages available to take the guesswork out of it. Oak Meadow curriculum is designed to make it easy for parents and students to make sure they are not missing anything along the way. If you have questions, Oak Meadow’s educational counselors are happy to help.

Often when I tell people that my children are homeschooled, they say something like, “I could never homeschool my children.” Perhaps they don’t need or want to homeschool, and that’s just fine. It’s not right for every family. But if you want to homeschool, you can!

International Book Day

InternationalChildrensBookDay

Today is International Children’s Book Day!

This annual celebration first began in 1967 to help inspire children with a love of reading from places and authors all over the world. This special day, April 2nd, was chosen because it is also Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, one of the most celebrated children’s authors in the world. andersen

 

Today might be a great day to visit your local library and search for new and exciting books with your children. If you would like to view award winning kids’ books online, I suggest viewing the Reading Rockets lists of 2014 Newbery and Caldecott Medal books, along with lists of books from other notable awards.