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myfantasticfour

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  1. If money were no object and I were certain I could keep the stuff in some secure location, carefully organized, until time of need, and I had a place where the older ones could keep their experiments running and safe from younger ones (working on that, but the cleaning-and-finishing-the-basement-project rolls over another year)...then I would love to have those all-in-one packages she sells, like the Diamond one. But, money being an object, I have 7 of the Supercharged Science DVD curriculum volumes. They aren't just videos; there is also a printable worktext, for each one, that is a combination textbook, lab notebook, and student workbook in one. She has the student make apparatus to be used in experiments and activities, whenever possible, and from mostly common household items, and it's not the mindless following of directions that I recall labs in high school being (where most of the students had no idea afterward, what they did or why they did it). Learning to use things like the periodic table happens in her curriculum as it is needed for actual application, which is way more effective than having kids memorize things about it, that aren't attached to any real, useful, practical knowledge, in the hopes that someday they will indeed then be able to retrieve that memorized information. For instance, I just found the Periodic Table of the Elements and explanations of what it is for, and some background on atoms, on Page 6 of my printed-and-bound copy of the worktext accompanying Earth Science 2: Geology. I don't have a chemistry DVD curriculum from her, so I can't vouch for what is in that one. But I'm really glad I have the Supercharged Science DVD curriculum set that I do have, because my oldest can at least go through Life Science 1 on her own and have a far better Bio 1 education than most get in high school. It includes everything you need to know to select a good microscope if you don't own one, and how to use, clean, and maintain it, including wet-mount and staining techniques, and one of the experiments involves learning to extract fruit fly DNA in your kitchen. My only challenge is how to find her a space to set up and run her experiments, and making sure she has the "stuff" needed...which is why I need the basement finished, and also why I wish money were no object so we would have one of the pricy packages that ship every last item you'll need, to your door. But I haven't seen a better science curriculum yet.
  2. We use Khan also, but my kids don't like doing it every day, so we use it intermittently. The good thing about it (aside from being free) is that it is adaptive, and my kids like being able to do Mastery Challenges to "level up" skills quickly by answering a few questions correctly, in a row. And Khan does occasionally spot-check on things already mastered, and if the learner can't still solve a few problems correctly in a row, they are leveled down again, but still have the same opportunity to level up again. This seems a good balance between the common complaint against spiral systems that require too much review for some people's patience, and the alternative of simply believing that once multiplication is mastered, it will stay mastered indefinitely, without spot-checks. For my daughter, it didn't stay mastered without practice: she understands a lot of 7th grade math, but started getting things wrong due to silly multiplication errors, because apparently her multiplication tables were deteriorating from insufficient practice. I don't find Khan to be a one-stop solution for all math learning; it's more like a one-stop solution for adaptive assessment, with some video tutorials thrown in, that may or may not be helpful depending on the kid. My daughter needs more than just a demonstration of HOW to calculate an answer; she needs a much deeper understanding of what is really going on behind the scenes. WHY do we invert and multiply, in order to divide fractions? Since I didn't know that answer myself, it sparked a "hey, let's see what happens if we do THIS!" series of chalkboard experiments and I stumbled onto the logic of why, by trying out what happens if we don't. But I haven't found anything yet, that does away with the need for a real, live person (in our case, I am that person) who really understands the math concept down to its constituent subatomic particles, who can grasp what the student's hangup is, and then take the student with them on a journey of, "let's find out. What happens if we try it this way?" And so, I have devoted months to poring over books like "How to Teach Elementary Arithmetic" by Liping Ma, took a Coursera course on Mathematical Reasoning a while back (and loved it), and am basically having to ferret out every single grey area or ambiguity in my understanding, so that I can go with my child into any area of mystery, and with an open mind, discover it until it makes sense when viewed from any angle. I'm not sure that's a reasonable expectation for every homeschooling parent, and having a baby and preschooler in the interim, I couldn't start that process from scratch, now. All the services that promise to remove the need for that, and do it all for you, nicely automated, that we have tried, fall short somehow, in terms of the teaching/learning partnership. If most kids could learn and truly understand maths, by simply reading an explanation of how to perform the operations to get the desired answer, there would never have been a need for teachers, once books became mass-manufactured; everyone could simply read the explanation in the book, perform the operation according to the example, and that would be it. I have yet to see an online automated learning service or site, that is able to do more than either offer video tutorials similar to watching a teacher lecture at a chalkboard without taking any questions, and then offer workbook-like practice. Another problem with online-only, is that my daughter reports that it was impossible for her to become proficient at certain processes, such as long division, without the support of muscle memory. She didn't put it that way, but she wasn't able to get the process of performing long division at all well, until I had her do it on a chalkboard, in large writing, and touch each number with the chalk as she chanted the steps. That really made a difference in her not getting lost in the process and forgetting what to do next. The idea of involving gross motor movements and chanting aloud, to internalize a process into muscle memory that would support that process across platforms, was something I learned from Peterson Directed Handwriting, it really works. I didn't mean to ramble. Long story short, I doubt there is any purely online system that can offer the insight and support that a real live person that is face-to-face and able to work one-on-one, can, so long as that person either already possesses the deep understanding to help someone else understand conceptually as well as procedurally, or is willing to acquire that understanding. Otherwise, hiring a skilled tutor (going far beyond just an explanation of how to get the right answer, that any textbook or website already offers) might be wise, if possible. I've heard really good things about Mr. Gelston, who offers one-on-one tutoring in math, online. Haven't tried him myself, but probably will one of these days, because I was impressed after chatting with him online about his teaching methods.
  3. Things that have helped me a lot are: Buying only old dishes from the 1970's or before, that were made back when a cup of coffee was 5 oz. and a large mug, 10 oz, and a bowl that was for one person instead of a serving dish, held so little by today's standards, that you'd assume it was a ramekin now. Even dinner plates back then, were more the size of what we'd call luncheon plates or breakfast plates, now. Juice, if you drink it at all, should be in 4 oz juice glasses, and because modern "juice glasses" in dishware sets tend to be a whopping 10-12 oz, I recommend Goodwill or garage sales, for old jelly jar glasses that actually are 4 oz, or antique juice glasses. Not eating out as a general rule also helps, because restaurant portions just keep getting larger and larger, and set our expectations on "absurd" if we experience that too often. Eating only at the table, sitting down, when at home, and restricting all snacks to the kitchen, helps a LOT. If you have a ritual of bringing a treat with you, to sit at the computer, or read a book or watch TV, you can keep your treat ritual, just make it an attractive glass of water with ice and lemon, or seltzer, or a hot tea or whatever you prefer (so long as it's not a whipped-cream caramel latte). Eating more protein and fats, and far fewer carbs, really makes a difference for me, both in weight, and in how satisfied I feel. Anything too high-glycemic sets me on a blood-sugar roller coaster and invokes cravings and addictive behavior, if eaten in any quantity, so I generally reserve treats for very small, very pretty old-fashioned dessert bowls, eat in tiny bites, and with great relish, and only after a good, satisfying meal, so I don't feel the temptation to fill up on treats. I also learned, just this winter, to be okay with feeling the sensation of hunger. It's really not an emergency! I used to eat by habit, and feeling hungry had nothing to do with it. I wasn't even aware of the question of hunger; I just ate because it was time to, or because I was bored and wanted some stimulation of my taste buds. Now, I try to ask myself what I'm really after, if I go into the kitchen. And if I get hungry while preparing lunch, instead of munching something while cooking, I think about how much better the meal is going to taste, now that I'm hungry for it! And it's true: it does! Doing this has allowed me to reset my portion norms, and allowing myself to feel hunger before eating, and acknowledging that feeling hungry is not an emergency, that I can wait and will still not starve, has helped my stomach shrink a bit, I think, because now I feel satisfied on less than I used to require when I ate without really noticing that I was eating. Hope this helps any!
  4. Hoping I'm not being redundant (soothing a cranky baby so I didn't read all the replies first) but what about tights and braids? My daughter wore that for several years, except the braids. I had plans on her having long hair and wearing in braids, but she hated having her hair bound up in any way, so much, that I cut it in a cute chin-length bob with full bangs such that she still looked like a girl, but her hair didn't need anything done with it, to stay out of her face and food, while she played actively. That won't work with wild hair (my daughter's is straight with a slight bounce to it, and smooth) but if your daughter doesn't mind two braids or even a braid down her back, it's the most simple and practical way to keep long hair neat and tidy while an active little girl plays. If her hair is too short to braid reasonably, a ponytail on each side of her haid should do. My daughter wore some white mid-thighlength bloomers under her dresses when she was little, as well as tights. When they are white, and they are covered by the dress, it doesn't matter if they match because bloomers aren't meant to be seen, and white goes with everything. Hope that helps!
  5. This is a problem I have with almost all children's programming (USA at least!) that I see for television: they operate on the idea that demonstrating what NOT to do, for most of the show, and then showing a few quick minutes of resolution at the end, teaches kids good ways. It doesn't. Spending the majority of viewing time, seeing antisocial or unethical or simply unkind behavior and actions, normalizes that. Seeing a last few minutes of consequences, resolution, and everyone walks away happy, doesn't change the immersion effect of spending most of their viewing time, seeing bullying, crassness, minor violence, callous treatment of others, etc. I find I like non-USA kids' shows much better. This is about books, not screens, but the principle still applies.
  6. As everyone else said, we're all individuals and mileage may vary. But for us, a year in which we had ballet and soccer and homeschool groups to go to, was terribly hectic. Part of it was having a baby (now toddler) along and part of it, that we can't have any processed or convenience foods, or any restaurant food, so going out means packing up things I had to prepare from scratch. The kids got tired of the sports because it wasn't the "socialization" we all expected. It was kids who didn't know each other, being in each other's near proximity, while standing outside in the blazing midday sun listening to a coach and waiting for their turn to do something. No one can make friends at an organized youth club sport, if they weren't already friends, because there are no chances to actually engage the other kids or chat. Everyone comes there, does their thing, and leaves. But the worst part of that lifestyle was, we were always rushing even when we were home, because we were preparing to go out, or coming home and putting things away, preparing for meals and then cleaning up and preparing for bed, and it seemed like we just spent our lives at home, in transitional mode, always preparing for the next activity. It was a huge relief to stop, after the kids asked if we could just not have sports after that. Now, we're pretty cautious about commitments to go and do, and have made more time and space within our home, for relaxation, enjoyment, and pursuing interests, and it has made a great difference. We still go to the discovery museum, still go see good friends, and once in a blue moon drop in on a homeschool coop or group, but increasingly, reserve our time and energy for people we really WANT to see again, and things we really want to do, and don't do and see, just because it's there. Home used to be just a place we were when we weren't doing anything. Now it's the place where we do the things we enjoy the most.
  7. As everyone else said, we're all individuals and mileage may vary. But for us, a year in which we had ballet and soccer and homeschool groups to go to, was terribly hectic. Part of it was having a baby (now toddler) along and part of it, that we can't have any processed or convenience foods, or any restaurant food, so going out means packing up things I had to prepare from scratch. The kids got tired of the sports because it wasn't the "socialization" we all expected. It was kids who didn't know each other, being in each other's near proximity, while standing outside in the blazing midday sun listening to a coach and waiting for their turn to do something. No one can make friends at an organized youth club sport, if they weren't already friends, because there are no chances to actually engage the other kids or chat. Everyone comes there, does their thing, and leaves. But the worst part of that lifestyle was, we were always rushing even when we were home, because we were preparing to go out, or coming home and putting things away, preparing for meals and then cleaning up and preparing for bed, and it seemed like we just spent our lives at home, in transitional mode, always preparing for the next activity. It was a huge relief to stop, after the kids asked if we could just not have sports after that. Now, we're pretty cautious about commitments to go and do, and have made more time and space within our home, for relaxation, enjoyment, and pursuing interests, and it has made a great difference. We still go to the discovery museum, still go see good friends, and once in a blue moon drop in on a homeschool coop or group, but increasingly, reserve our time and energy for people we really WANT to see again, and things we really want to do, and don't do and see, just because it's there. Home used to be just a place we were when we weren't doing anything. Now it's the place where we do the things we enjoy the most.
  8. There must be a reason you don't want to use velveeta? Back when I could make such things (kids all have food allergies.. many of them, so we can't eat ANYTHING normal anymore), even though I am from Tejas and this sounds so non-authentic, my favorite ever was just a block of velveeta cut up into cubes, in a microwavable bowl, with an equal measure of really hot picante or salsa of your choice poured over it. Heat til steaming, stir, done. Maybe it had a block of cream cheese, too. It's been so many years. But it was unbeatable. Getting shreds of real cheddar to melt down smoothly into a homogeneous sauce instead of little curdles can be done, but it's a lot of hassle.
  9. You can catch them pretty easily by putting a large sheet of aluminum foil on the floor, with a pile of sugar in the middle. I have heard that if you don't have a queen, not only will they not behave naturally (because it's not a true colony without a queen, and without her, there is no future) and will die fairly soon. Best bet, I would say, is research suppliers, and make sure you get one that also sends a queen, and also check with your local agricultural extension service over which species of ant are legal and ok to get for your ant farm, because there may be problems with foreign invasive species, and if you get a colony plus queen of one of those, you can't then ever release them, and then you'll be stuck with a colony that outgrows the container and needs to split off to form a new colony, but just ditching them in the wild would be illegal as well as unconscionable. This is why I haven't done the ant farm thing yet with my kids. I just had to go and research first, like always, and I realized how complicated it could get. If someone else figures out all these caveats, I'd benefit from their knowledge, and go ahead with the ant farm project for my kids. It is fascinating, and there has to be a good way to go about it.
  10. Thanks for sharing that. It confirmed to me the reason behind my own deep dislike of the negative social interactions increasingly displayed as norms to very young children through television. I do wonder if this, alone, is responsible for what seems to me to be an increasing trend of normalizing social ugliness, in mainstream society in America. Old Barney episodes, Bo on the Go, and Caillou (mostly) seem fine to me so far, but the shows that aren't guilty of trying to teach something by using most of the airtime normalizing antisocial behaviors, seem few and far between.
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