AngLegs by Learning Resources: These things are awesome! They’re just little sticks that snap together, but the brain boggles at how often we use them. Our set has 12 each of 6 different lengths and two protractors. We have used them to discuss polygons, types of angles, angle measures, area, perimeter, Pythagorean Theorem, sums of interior angles, etc. AngLegs are affordable (under $20.00 for a set) and can be used for topics spanning several years.
Blogging: Seems like a no-brainer given that you’re reading this on a blog, but I’d like to explain why blogging is so awesome for our homeschool adventures. I love that Grace gets to practice her writing skills just about every day through maintaining her blog…she gets to address so many topics and styles of writing through her blog! It’s great to get feedback and encouragement from friends, family, and strangers who visit. Another nice perk? Computer skills. Word processing, hotkeys, photo editing (and inserting), and computer etiquette are just the few computer skills that come to mind. As the blog progresses, opportunities for new skills will present themselves. The blog is certainly a worthy pursuit.
History Pockets/Literature Pockets by Evan-Moor: These “pockets” are actually thematic activities in a variety of social studies and literature topics. The work is stored in pockets that you make in advance. We’re nerds around here, so we try to make our books of pockets match the theme. 😉 We’re currently (October, 2011) working on the Civil War pockets after having finished the “Moving West” pockets. Grace loves these! Social Studies went from her least favorite subject to something she looks forward to when we started using these. Each pocket contains a “fast facts” page and reading passages about the theme of the pocket and, of course, several activities. (I would use this as your only source of information on a topic if you’re going in-depth.) These books can be downloaded straight from the Evan-Moor site (for a fairly reasonable price) or ordered from sites like Amazon. We’re planning to work with some literature pockets next. 🙂
Mad Libs: What a fun and silly way to review those parts of speech, synonyms, and creativity! There are more Mad Libs out there than you can shake a stick at, so you’re sure to find some that appeal to your child.
Math Puzzles (wipe-clean cards with pen) from Usborne: These cards are great for road trips! The set includes 89 math activities on thick, bright, wipe-clean cards, a dry erase pen, and an answer set. The math concepts covered are quite diverse. Grade levels are not given for this activity, but it seems to me that the math puzzles would be appropriate for 2nd through 6th grade. The set costs around $10.00 and is available at the Usborne link above and Amazon. We picked ours up at a local science museum.
Mathological Liar from Edupress: We picked this game up the other day from our local education store. Grace loves it! I don’t think I’ve ever seen her quite so eager to do math. (We were still playing at 9:00 pm the night we bought it.) Each “case” includes 4 cards: each of the four cards has the case description on the front and one suspect’s “alibi” on the back. The alibis all include math. Your job is to figure out who is innocent and who is guilty…if the suspect’s math is correct, he/she is innocent. If the math is incorrect, the suspect is guilty. The game covers a broad range of skills and is available for several grade levels. The game comes with 50 “cases” for about $12.00.
Take a Hike: No matter what your curriculum, you can find something relevant while taking a hike. Ecosystems, erosion, plant life, animal tracks, the food web, and on and on. Hikes don’t have to be kept penned up in science topics either. Just think of all the counting, adding, and symmetry you could do with leaves. Or for something more complex, math models of populations based on found evidence. Or what about taking in first hand the inspiration for so many poems or settings found in literature? We even discussed social studies on the trail….just imagine what it was like for the British soldiers to try to get all of their horses and equipment through this terrain! Hiking is a great way to get outside and bring lessons into the real world….not to mention the bonus of doubling up for physical education. 🙂
Video Making: Here’s one that, honestly, surprised me. Making a video actually uses a great variety of skills. Obviously, there has to be a good grasp on the topic or concept being presented in the video. Also, a video is a great way to practice public speaking and narration, editing skills (gotta love those computer skills!), and creative thinking. YouTube channels are free and easy to create, so you can easily share your work with friends and family.