Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recent finds

Best online dictionary for kids:

Best all-inclusive Social Studies curriculum: Heritage Studies by BJU Press. This curriculum includes Geography, Economics, Government, American History, World History, and Culture, so you don't have to worry about finding a separate curriculum for each. Available for grades 1-12.

Best states & capitals games online:
  • - a range of difficulty levels and different styles of games. The most challenging states/capitals games here challenges you to choose the correct capital for a given state from the entire list of 50 displayed capitals - surprisingly very difficult. There are also many more geography-related games and resources on this website.
  • - this states/capitals game gives you a capital which you must drag onto the correct unlabeled state - very challenging. This website also has many other geography puzzles and games, which can be found here.
  • - this is a nice multiple choice option which shows you a given state, and asks you to choose the correct capital from 4 options. Again, many more geography games and resources are on this website, and worth looking at.

Standardized Tests

If you've opted to give your homeschooler a yearly standardized achievement test to fulfill the government's requirement (as opposed to having your work reviewed monthly by a certified teacher), here are your most widely used options:

TestSubjects testedTotal test time (complete battery)Test difficultyReport
Cost Degree required to test
CAT/5® reading, language, spelling, math, science* and social studies* 2.5-3.5 hrsEasySimple$40No
ITBSreading, language (includes spelling), math, science*, social studies*, sources of information*, cognitive abilities*3-5 hrsMore difficultMore detailed$50-70BA/BS, OR teaching certificate, OR teach or taught in public school.
SATreading, math, language, spelling, science*, social studies*, listening*, thinking*3-6 hrsMost difficultVery detailed$50-70, +$20 app feeBachelor's, OR teaching certificate, OR teach or taught in public school.

These are just the basic considerations. There are other considerations out there, and a wide range of opinions about tests, if you go searching for them. But it helps to be able to see the "in a nutshell" info side by side, so there you have it. There are also other testing options, but they may or may not be approved for use in your state. These three are the most widely recognized, from what I've found.

The Cat5 test can be purchased here, and the ITBS and SAT tests can be purchased here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bill Nye resources

I don't need to tell you how useful Bill Nye's videos are in helping our kids get excited about science, and retain what they learn. The man needs no introduction. Instead, I'll just share with you a few useful links.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Automatic sentence diagrammer

Okay, this is just freaking cool. :) I stumbled upon this as a means to help ds9 better understand sentence structure. It's the Reed-Kellogg Diagrammer - a (free) tool that lets you type in your own sentence and then diagrams it for you, and lets you mouse over each section to see the word type and function in the sentence. I remember diagramming sentences as a kid, but I get the impression that this practice has been lost in most workbooks and classrooms since then. It's too bad - this little exploration was REALLY helpful to ds9 in understanding how a sentence is much like a skeleton, which "holds up" the other parts of the structure. And because this nifty little tool diagrams for you, ds9 can plug in sentence after sentence to see how the structure changes as he makes changes in the sentence. TOO COOL!!!