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  1. The Marshmallow Math program is excellent. It's for toddlers up to the early grades. It doesn't require any writing because it uses activities to teach. It's only $3.99 for the Kindle or Kindle app right now.
  2. I love the I Wonder Why series of books. They have one on reptiles called I Wonder Why Snakes Shed Their Skin: and Other Questions About Reptiles. We have lots of lizards living around our house. I once gave an assignment to watch their behavior and then we researched them afterwards.
  3. My 7 year old is really good at spelling. We use both Spelling Workout and Spell and Write. I think using both together has been very effective. It's a lot of writing but these books really work for her.
  4. I have the opposite problem with my 7 year old. I get books that blend fiction and nonfiction like Andrew Lost, the Martha Speaks chapter books, the Flat Stanley Worldwide Adventure books, the George series by Stephen Hawking and the Magic School Bus chapter books.
  5. Zula Patrol teaches a lot of science and it's also a lot of fun to watch. The Cat in the Hat PBS show is also good for science but it doesn't teach nearly as much as Zula Patrol.
  6. Look into the Charlie's Playhouse products. The Ancient Creature Cards and Giant Evolution Timeline Poster are really good. They have games and information.
  7. My 7 year old is teaching herself guitar with software called My Guitar. She loves it and actually wants to practice. It's very well done. The same company has another product called My Piano. I don't know how good it is but it's something to look into. The software is colorful and fun, so your kids will likely prefer it over a book.
  8. Thanks for all the advice. I wasn't aware of online rentals. I think I'll probably go that route and get her the My Violin software. I am concerned about the ear training aspect, so I'll steer clear of cheaper options. If she takes it seriously for a year or two, I'll probably look into lessons.
  9. I did look at rentals but they are about $25 a month. With that price, I feel like we would be well on the way to buying a pretty decent violin. My daughter really want to self learn as well. It's really more for fun and a challenge like she is doing with guitar. She's doing a lot of activities and doesn't want to add anymore. With two kids doing activities, I really don't want to pay for more either at the moment. She's been asking for a violin for weeks and doesn't seem interested in any other instruments. I definitely want to encourage her to teach herself things that interest her. But I also don't want to ruin violin for her, if she wants to take it seriously later on. So, I'm unsure what to do.
  10. Donna, Thanks for the information. I have read about ear training being a possible issue as well. I wonder if this is correctable if she did decide to take lessons in a few years. She has been learning piano for 3 years and is half way through the Yamaha Music School group piano program. I definitely want her to finish that. Piano is the instrument I really want her to learn. Anything else would be for fun. But if she does want to take violin seriously at some point, I wonder if being self-taught on a cheaper instrument will be a help or a hindrance.
  11. "She will probably get more out of gymnastics at this point, and you can move her to dance later, if that's what she wants. As a bonus, the gymnastic training will make her stronger and more flexible for the dance moves." Dance and gymnastics really complement each other. Gymnastics makes better dancers. But dance is also really good for gymnasts. One of my daughter's gymnastics instructors recommended ballet to the students to improve balance and coordination.
  12. My 7 year old is teaching herself to play the guitar using software called My Guitar. The software is excellent and she really enjoys using it. I bought a decent guitar separately and told her that I will get a much better one if she takes guitar seriously. The same company has a very highly rated violin learning software. They also have a starter pack that includes a cheap violin. My daughter is begging for it. While it's easy to get a decent cheap guitar, it seems like you have to pay far more for a decent violin. I would happily invest in a good violin later on, if she was really interested but I don't want to do that right now. She takes piano lessons, so I'm really not interested in paying for more music lessons either. But I don't want to buy a violin that falls apart in a few months. I just want something that plays decently and will give her some idea of how well she likes it. I have looked for used violins but even those are quite expensive for the good ones and renting is also too much. Has anyone ever used either a cheap violin or the eMedia Violin Starter pack? Has anyone used a violin in the $70-80 range? Experiences and advice would be appreciated.
  13. My daughter does both and loves both but has a preference for dance. She is a creative type, which probably explains the preference for dance. So, it really depends on the child. If they are more creative, go with dance. If they are more competitive, go with gymnastics. If you choose ballet, sign up for a class that is just ballet if possible. We first did a ballet/tap combo and she wasn't learning much. She now takes a ballet class and a separate jazz/tap combo. It may cause frustration if a child feels like they aren't making progress.
  14. I think reading is better because it's easy to stop and explain the meanings of words and give explanations of things kids might not fully understand. You could pause an audio book and do that in the car. But my daughter likes to listen to audio books on an mp3 player, so she misses out on those explanations.
  15. I homeschool through a charter school. They offer classes to the homeschoolers two days a week. The kids in the program run the spectrum from very social to very shy, just like in any public or private school. When kids are socially awkward and homeschooled, homeschooling gets the blame. But there are plenty of kids who go to school who aren't social either. Having said that, when you homeschool you do have to make sure your kids are getting plenty of opportunities to interact with other kids. But that's easy for most people to do.
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