Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quick Tip/Share: Writing and Proofreading

Have you ever wanted to have a way for your teens work proofread  by someone else so that it makes the editing/revising process a bit less painful for your learner and YOU? - If you answered yes, have I got a resource to share with you ! Its called Paper Rater. (primarily for Middle School writing and up)

This site is very simple to use. All you need to do is to cut & paste the piece of writing into the space and give the work a title and follow the prompts and submit the piece of writing.

I tried this and submitted a piece of my teens writing and I love it! It was really helpful getting feedback and information that wasn't coming from me, MOM.

The report that came back examined the following; Plagiarism, Spelling and Grammar, Style and Word Choice Analysis, Readability Statistics, Title Validation, Vocabulary and also graded the paper.

I really liked how I could read this over to my teen for a more "objective" point of view. Let's face it us Mom's who play Editor have a tough job critiqing our learners work and its just nice for us to have something that we can use to give feedback that is constructive and can be used as a great teaching tool.

I hope you get a chance to give this a try~ If you do let me know what you think!

Quick Tip & Share Series: Writing: An Interactive Model Bank

Elements of Lanaguage 
Have you ever wanted to find a quick writing model for your teen? I have.

Here is a neat interactive model bank that can help show and explain specific "kinds of writing".

It is interactive so if you click on the margins it explains the specific concept in more detail for better understanding.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quick Tip and Share: Literature Study~ a Reference


We are starting a new book for our Literature Study. It is a play by Arthur Miller called "Death of a Salesman".

I found this link that has resource materials and information in working with this piece of work.

The site is called Novelinks. It find it helpful and thought I would quickly share it here with my readers.

For the play "Death of a Salesman" there are several activities for reader to do. Some of the charts like the "K,W,H,L" was a different approach for us as was the Taxonomy for the information as well. We are using the Anticipation Guide as well I think this will be a great tool for writing a compare/contrast essay.

Further resources to review and possibly use:
Death of a Salesman Unit - this link focus' on poetry and the focus on family relationships.
Death of a Salesman - Toward the Examined Life - a series of commentaries and discussion questions to use
Teachers Guide 
A Quiz on Death of a Salesman 
Vocabulary work for Death of a Salesman

Update: * For my younger teen we are reading more books in the CS Lewis series. This month we are starting "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe". Here is a study guide with some activities we may pick adn choose from.

Feel free to share any particular resource you found helpful here as well~

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mind-Mapping for Lectures and Video Learning ~

One of the major differences we have seen in our home learning now that both boys are now in highschool is the increase of lectures and video learning. They use these in all the different subjects, even for English at times.

Trying to have the teens absorb all the information or a good portion of the information can be hard for a special needs teen. I have found some things that might help with processing the large amounts of information they are exposed to from a lecture or a long documentary/video.

My teens both use mind-mapping. Have you ever heard of it? It is a kind of diagram you create where your able to write down the main topic and all the other pieces of information that surrounds that particular main topic. From there, you might have sub-topics that are added from the main topics and you can add even more information that is more specific as they learn. I like to think of it as a visual outline of ideas and information.

Here are some examples and information on mind mapping~ ( and How to Make a Mindmap) It is taking my youngest teen a bit to get used to this form of organization. He was having a really hard time figuring out how best to add them to his Mind Map ( see photo). What is best for him, is to use online mapping tools so that the computer can organize the information more clearly in a written way and all he has to do is move things around to his liking and preference. When I showed him some online mapping tools he loved them, as you can imagine from seeing his first attempt at mind mapping about a video he was watching on the American Industrial period.

As he wrote his first one out I showed him how to do it, but he was convinced and even liked the idea of all those boxes and bubbles and said he wanted to try it his way. Well, a quarter of the way into his work he quickly could see it was going to be very hard to actually try and decipher all of this information into paragraphs without getting overwhelmed and frustrated. The answer? The online mind mapping tool!

Here are a few for you to check out; WiseMapping,, MindMup there are many more and some take a bit of learning how to use. But my teen seems to like WiseMapping the best so far.
photo credit
The video tutorial they have is really helpful, we really liked it. And I ended up cutting/pasting their "shortcuts" so that we can refer back to it as we use the program. In playing around with WiseMapping I found it a bit more cumbersome to use.

 They do have a tutorial on their site so that helped but some of my "child" topics I noticed was overlapping the "sibling" topics so I went looking over at the other mind mapping tool called Here is a video tutorial of how works. We may actually find this one better once we get to using it. In reading more I quickly learned that this site also isn't free, after you create so many "sheets" your told you hit your maximum of sheets and then are charged 3.00 per month.

Check out this mind map created for learning English Grammar.
photo credit 

Here is a book that you can get from Amazon on Mind Maps.

For younger learners, here is a beginners online mapping tool from Read, Write and Think.

So far the easiest one  I have seen to use is called Popplet. You can find it here.  The only problem with Popplet is your only allowed 5 Popplets then they charge you. So that is not really helpful.

In doing more research I finally remembered one that was shared with me way back a year or two ago. It is called Exploratree. They claim this site is free and provides templates for "thinking organizers" or you can create/customize your own thinking organizer ( just another name for a mind map or mind organizer). I am going to be looking into this site as well to see how this might help us. They have a tutorial you can view to learn more about these. While this one is great I believe its best used for the templates and the learners can fill them in. The program is a bit lengthy to go in and add things and move around.

Here is a mind map App you can get and add to your google chrome. Its called Connected Mind. You might like to try this one out as well~

Try out using mind maps for organizing information, you might find your learner really likes it. And this kind of tool is great for those teens with dysgraphia or are dyslexic and have trouble with writing long hand-written pieces~

If you try these, feel free to share what your thoughts are or if you find any you and your learner really like! ~

Friday, January 10, 2014

Teaching Watercolors~

Here is a great article that shows  how you might teach watercolors to children. I loved it. And I have done this before in the past it works out wonderfully.
photo credit

For our lesson we did an underwater scene with coral and it was really neat and then finished ours off with fishes that we drew and finished the details with pen/ink.

This lesson is alot of fun and easy to do~ it allows for a great deal of creativity. Enjoy ~!

Video- "Hackschooling" - Leaving the Traditional Education Method Behind

photo credit 
Here is a really intriguing video ( "This is What Happens When a Kid Leaves Traditional Education") of a young 13yo boy who talks about his home schooling. He has left the traditional homeschooling method behind and explains just how he does it. I loved it and it made me rethink a few things about what and how we are doing things with my own teens. Watch, you will love it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Drawing Course~ 
We are trying a new to us drawing course that I wanted to share with my readers. Its called Drawspace.   This looked to me like a simple, clearly designed, self pace drawing program that my teens might enjoy doing.
There are several lessons to be able to work on or you can choose to start right from the beginning like what we are doing. ( see Beginner Level).

I am hoping this winter they will be able to run through the entire Beginner Level. Will keep you posted with how they like it and any tips I can give as we go along~

update~ how cool is this video to get your new learner drawing~ crazy realistic drawing of Pepsi can and look to the right for more drawing video demos.

Happy Drawing! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Math: Comparing Fractions

We are just getting back to school and reviewing what we learned before our Christmas Break.  Math is an area that I planned to review more today than actually have the boys work a lesson just because there are so many concepts that they might not remember how to do.

We were reviewing fractions and the concept of "comparing" and my son wasn't actually remembering how to go ahead and do this. We looked over the previous lectures on it, since at the time he was learning it did not need to take notes but now he wished he had made a few notes on this topic.

As we listened it was still confusing so I pulled up the link practice he had done before Christmas and he found it much easier to understand.

I thought sharing this might be helpful since after looking at the quick method of doing this by cross multiplication and having practiced it on the game it seemed MUCH easier~ so here is the link resource:
Comparing Fractions: Computation Practice
Comparing Fractions from Math Playground

If you haven't ever used Math Playground you might be pleasantly surprised at this site and how great it is for trying to learn something or for practice games in a specific area.
Math Playground

Happy Reviewing!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Quick Tip/Share: Getting Back to Studies

We are heading back to studies this week. Ready or Not. This time of year can be really tough trying to reset our homes and learners to get back to a more structured and organzied plan for learning at home.

I sat down and thought of how I am going to get through this week because we have guitar lessons starting, doctors appointments with tests for me, and a teen just begining to feel better from being sick this week and another winter storm on the horizon. (sounds like most people doesn't it?)

I decided the following things would probably make things more manageable and thought I would share them here with my readers.

Here is my list I am going to try and follow for this week:

1. Let everyone know (friends & family) that you are no longer on Holiday Hiatus but are now going back to studies this week. ( this might fend off unwanted and un-needed calls in the am so you can actually get down to business without as much interruptions.  - TIP: I am shutting off my phone or plan on not answering it until we are done with studies or are on break. 

2. Begin by talking with your learners that it is going to be time to go back to their studies and that we will need to try and be better about bed times, eating and also start practicing a more structured schedule. TIP: For younger learners start a few days before scaling back on late night bedtimes. Move up your dinner time a bit earlier so that snacks are earlier and things settle down to where it is a more manageable bed time for an earlier morning the next day. 

3. Remind yourself that its only the first week back and that we need to be FLEXIBLE in just getting back to things. If its better to just start back with only a couple subjects for the first week then do so, realizing that the following week will be more of a ramp up as you go along. TIP: I am planning on slowly trying to ramp and get to whatever subjects we can get to considering the doctor appointments I have and lessons they have outside the home. This will help me to be a bit less stressed thinking I have to get every subject in every day right from the start. If your using HST (Homeschool Tracker Online) like I am, consider adding in the subjects and grades "after" you have finished for the day instead of following a schedule the first week or two. 

4. Plan out meals for this week so that you have lunches and dinners all lined up so that your not scurrying around wondering what there is for lunch and dinner. This saves time and stress on us. TIP: I plan on using the crockpot on many days this week since I will be in and out of the house this week and it ensures we will have a warm, hearty meal when we get back from our busy hectic day.  

5. Smile and give a hug to your learner. Remember why your home teaching and remind yourself of all the learners who are also getting back to the grind but have to wait out for a school bus or sit in a germ-filled classroom. I know my boys continually talk about this and are very thankful to be home for their studies. TIP: If you have teens or older learners like I do, bring this up to your kiddos at breakfast time so that everyone starts off on a good, positive note. I also encourage them to make a mug of Christmas Cookie Tea or maybe a Hot Cocoa for themselves before we settle in for studies. It helps set the right tone and makes things seem less structured and stress driven. 

6. ( I thought of one more as I get started with looking at things)- When starting out with the skill-based subjects ( math and grammar etc., ) consider before starting a lesson doing a quick review of skills before attempting the lessons so they have a refresher. This will save alot of melt-downs headaches and stress. TIP: We are going to read over math notes before math lessons start and also go over writing stylistic techniques and dress-ups checklist so they feel a bit more less in a fog and might be able to attempt their lessons with a bit more confidence and less stress. 

I hope these tip considerations help you as you get back to your studies. If you have any tips or suggestions I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions that you think might help someone as well.

Happy Learning!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Starting the New Year~

It's been a while since I have posted here. The Holiday Season has come to an end and we are starting to think about getting back to our studies next week. Is everyone ready for the New Year? Can you believe 2014 is already here?!

I made a few changes here and will be slowly updating things as we go along. One goal I have is to be a bit better at updating my readers as to what we are up to and how things are moving along~ 

We have made a few changes in our home learning and I am looking forward to sharing some of these changes, resources and ideas with my readers. 

So here is wishing all my LAH Readers a Happy New Year and a successful new year of learning at home~ 

Until next time~ 

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