Monday, November 23, 2009

204th Carnival of Homeschooling

The carnival is up at the Norfolk Homeschooling Examiner.

Steal this post.

The sponsors of our 2009 GUESS Homeschool Science Fair generously provided our young scientists with exciting prizes for the winners. Their donations also allowed us to underwrite the cost of all the kids' science fair day at the VASC, including an age-appropriate science class, an electricity demo, and an IMAX movie. Part of what we do to thank our sponsors is generating links for them on homeschool blogs and sites, pointing to their web presence from descriptive anchor text, to boost their Google ranking on those search terms. That's where this post comes in!

We need your help to spread these links across the internet, to say thank you to these businesses for supporting our young homeschooled scientists. If you have a blog, or site, and you can help us, please steal this post! For maximum impact on search engines, it's very important that the links go along with the post, attached to the appropriate text, so if you need the plain HTML to put into your blog, click here for a .txt file.

So, how can you help the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair?

1. Copy this post, or the .txt file with the HTML.
2. Post it to your blog.
3. Let us know when you've done it so we can link back to your blog!

Here's the part of the post we want you to "steal":

Thank you to the following homeschool-friendly businesses for supporting the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and the young scientists of Hampton Roads!

Green Olive Tree is an internet company based in Portsmouth, Virginia and owned and operated by a homeschooling family. They offer a broad range of internet services, from reliable web hosting to corporate infrastructure solutions and server administration.

SKS Science supplies homeschoolers and other educators with all the science supplies you need to turn your dining room table into a proper laboratory. Browse their site for test tubes, bottles, face masks and other lab supplies and books.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books. There's always an interesting curriculum find on these shelves!

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

The Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, hosts an online wonderland for budding scientists. With online science lessons, experiments to try at home, a science photo of the day, and new content added all the time, you'll love setting your kids loose on this site.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience -- from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Mariner's Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their spring homeschool series features lessons about the Civil War. Visit Mariner's Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming.

Virginia Air and Space Center was host to the homeschool science fair this year, and delivered awesome science classes for homeschoolers from their education department. The VASC is the educator resource center for the NASA Langley Research Center.

Thursday, November 5, 2009



History at Our House

Originally uploaded by Sherene Silverberg
Couldn't resist posting this pic of my kids as they do a History through Art lesson with Scott Powell from History at Our House.

Every Monday to Thursday, from 11-11:30 a.m., the children call into their history class. I've discovered the trick to keeping Ben focused to to have him bounce on a Pilates ball.

I always quiz them about what the've learned immediately after and before a lesson. I discovered that the children retain substantially more of what they hear when they bounce on the Pilates balls during the lesson.

I can't believe it took me so long to have them bounce during a lesson as I've used movement successfully so often in our homeschool. We practice Latin conjugations, declensions and translations while we walk, jump, climb stairs and swing. Ditto for math facts. Now I see it works for history as well.

I've transferred this lesson to the rest of our schoolwork. Now, when I teach them something new, I make sure they are sitting on the balls or marching around.

I feel sorry for all those children who are institutional schools all day and who don't get to move while they learn.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Plural of curriculum

I am writing on my blog to prevent me from being rude on a list. When will homeschoolers learn that the plural for "curriculum" is NOT "curriculums"? It is "curricula".

It's like the homeschooler in Hampton Roads whose address is "grammerworks@....".

I die a thousand deaths when I see homeschoolers make mistakes like this.

Promoting Happy Scientists

The Science Fair is nearly upon us. On Monday, 9 November, close on a hundred homeschooled students descend on the Virginia Air and Space Museum to show off their scientific prowess.

We have really great sponsors this year.

Robert Krampf, The Happy Scientist has donated 10 memberships to his website. We've been members of his website for a few years. My kids love nothing better than to spend an afternoon surfing his website. He makes science come alive in his videos and his experiments are easy for the children to do. Best of all, they don't require any special materials. The kids don't need me to run around buying obscure items, they just raid the pantry and cleaning supplies to make science magic. Our annual subscription of $20 is some of the best money I spend for our homeschool.

My favorite used book store, The Book Exchange in Norfolk is repeat sponsor. I've found homeschooling gems in this store. My entire library of books on American government and American history was bought at the Book Exchange for a fraction of the retail value. Everyone at this store understands homeschoolers and their needs. They go out of their way to help us. One of my deepest wishes is that every homeschooler in Norfolk would recycle their homeschooling materials and libraries through the Book Exchange which would make it an even better resource to our community.

Another repeat sponsor is Mad Science of Hampton Roads. These guys are a hoot. They are all about the drama of science while still providing instruction. One of the neatest things they do is to come into your home and do a scientific presentation with drama and flare at your children's birthday parties. What's not to love about an organization that entertains while it teaches?

e-Science labs is once again providing science kits to our winners. If you are looking for the best hands-on science kits available at the middle school, high school or college levels, e-Science labs is your best bet.

Their hands-on science kits are designed to fit with any curriculum or teaching style. Engaging online content is provided to supplement a complete series of hands-on labs and to reinforce key concepts.

Their kits are designed to be safer for students and friendly for the environment. Each kit is complete and contains everything a student needs to perform all of the experiments. Their PhD-level educators and scientists have written manuals that are clear, concise and easy to follow.

In both their hands-on and online content, they show how fundamental scientific concepts play a role in our daily lives. By making science relevant, they engage students and enable them to better understand the world around them.

Norfolk Karate Academy provides the best karate instruction in Norfolk. Mr Odom understands that squirrelly young children need gentle care to keep them focussed but at the same time, he allows no misbehavior. His karate classes provide the perfect mind/body balance by exhausting the young homeschoolers while at the same time teaching them mental discipline. I promised my kids that they could start karate with the Norfolk Karate Academy in the fall but life has conspired against us. I've had to swear on my life that as soon as we return from Key Largo in December, that they can sign up for Monday and Wednesday classes. It's going to be good for Mr Ben. He needs another male teacher in his life, especially one who takes no crap from bright young boys.

I count myself very lucky to live in Norfolk. We have many of the facilities you find in a large city without the stress of living in a large city. One of the biggest draws, for me, is that we have such a large, active and diverse homeschooling community. Best of all, we have our very own homeschooling bookstore, Moore Expressions.

I've had reason to thank them twice in the last few months. I needed to change both our math and our English curricula. I did tons of research online, but that only helped me narrow the list down to 2 contenders for each category. I can't tell you how much it helped me to be able to tootle off to Moore Expressions and page through my options. It particularly helped me to be able to page through many Singapore Math books as I couldn't work out where to place Ben and Shira. I ended up buying books two levels too low because we had not covered everything Singapore did. We spent a week barreling through the work and then when we were done, i took the books back to Moore Expressions where they gave me a store credit and sold them on to another homeschool family.

This is one store that Ben and Shira don't mind tagging along to as Moore Expressions has a great children's play space and they always meet fellow homeschooled children when we go there.

Puppets have always played a huge part in my children's creative play. Our favorite puppets are those from Folkmanis. I'm always blown away by how realistic and CUTE their puppets are. These puppets are in a world of their own. You want to hug and stroke their puppets instead of giving them to the kids to play with. I've lost count of the number of naps I've had while snuggling a Folkmanispuppet.

There are going to be more than a few happy children at the Science Fair as Folkmanis has again donated puppets as prizes for the younger set.

Are you looking for petri dishes, pipettes, tubing, test tubes or any other lab equipment? Look no further than SKS Science, yet another returning science fair sponsor. Their website helpfully allows you to search for equipment by scientific field. It's a little late for this year's entrants, but SKS Science has an entire section on their website devoted to science fair projects. I truly appreciate doing business with a company that is not just out to make a quick buck. They provide info for free to the community.

We have great museums in the Norfolk area. One of my favorites is the Mariner's Museum. I love spending time looking at the beautiful replicas of small craft from around the world. Their homeschool days are well worth it. Read all about the last one I attended over here.

Fellow homeschoolers Jon and Julia Berry are the owners of Green Olive Tree a web hosting and internet services company. They offer web hosting, dedicated servers, virtual private servers, enterprise anti-spam solutions, VoIP servers, hosted exchange, and server administration and security.

They also provide consulting for companies with complex infrastructure needs. Jon has been working in the Internet Industry for over six years and has the expertise to evaluate your needs and come up with the most cost effective solution possible.

Another returning sponsor is Brooks Systems. Brooks Systems has been a provider of cutting-edge technology for the residential finance industry for over 20 years. Brooks Systems has serviced and supported over 10,000 clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

They offer products that help maintain TILA and Predatory Lending Compliance. Customized solution programming is also available to solve many additional lending problems.

To all our sponsors, a great big thank you. Our children thank you for helping make this science fair possible.


I was planning on having Ben and Shira write a 5,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo, but life has conspired against us. November is going to a brutal month for us and I can already see that my kids are feeling stressed. I decided that adding writing to their workload will be the tipping point, so no NaNoWriMo for the twins.

I have no intention ever of writing a novel, however, I am taking up the challenge to write a blog post every day in November for NaNoWriMo. I need something to give me a good old kick to get me blogging again. I have all these things I want to say but then don't get round to blogging about it.

If your homeschooled kids are writing a novel for NaNoWriMo have them submit their novel to the The Book Arts Bash. I can't imagine a better opportunity for a child to have his/her writing critiqued by someone who really knows what s/he is doing. Judges are such luminaries as Holly Black, the author of "The Spiderwick Chronicles" and Sara Gruen, author of "Water for Elephants". The winners in each age category will receive an in-depth critique from a leading NYC or LA editor or literary agent.