Friday, 18 January 2013

How We Homeschool - Part 4: Documentaries and Online

Sorry about the long delay in posting - life caught up with us and tsunami'ed all over our schedules. It happens. But without more ado, here's Part 4.

For homeschooling, our no. 1 resource is the internet. It has completely changed the way learning can be done. Today I will outline some of the amazing resources we use on a regular basis. Of course there are the wonderful websites I've written about earlier, but there are also:



Documentaries and Talks
Some resources we use all the time are ABC's iView and SBS. As the online versions of Australian TV shows, they have all the shows that the TV station - but it can be watched whenever we need. They both have wonderfully entertaining shows. They both usually have terrific history documentaries - SBS's documentaries usually have subtitles. ABC also has amazing science documentaries (Recent ones include the Private Life of Plants, by David Attenborough). We also watch Restoration Man and Grand Designs, as C loves designing houses and finds it rather interesting. Mythbusters is  regular show on SBS - a firm favourite with C since he was 2 years old. There are also usually great engineering shows, like Big Bigger Biggest or Engineering Connections, or even the slightly silly Bigger Better, Faster, Stronger. We've even been able to do languages through shows like Jung ein Europa.

Another great website is TED - which hosts a collection of talks on all sorts of amazing topics. It also now includes TEDed, which is for kids, so is a little more animated and visually interesting.

Another great set of documentaries are the One Minute Physics shorts.

All these websites and shows are a great way to supplement science, geography, history, foreign languages and even english.

On ABC iView, we have recently been watching Mister Maker, and have created a whole maker-fest focused on making things - anything! Raiding the craft cupboard has become a regular event. C keeps coming up with new designs to build - goggles being a firm favourite. We have then been supplementing with some Youtube videos on specific how-to builds. C was rather taken with the idea of steampunk goggles.

Parent Research
 When you're a parent and trying to feed a voracious appetite for knowledge, you need some good backup. Two of the best online backups are Hoagies Gifted Education Page and Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. I would be lost without them. They are a treasure trove of information. Relevant, helpful and easy to access. If you are looking for a place to start in figuring out how to homeschool your gifted child, these are a good place to start. Another awesome place to connect with other gifted homeschooling families is TAGMAX, which is a mailing list / forum, there's also TAGPDQ, which is for highly gifted, though not specific to homeschooling.

Fun Websites
There are a number of websites that are just - fun. Strangely some of them are also very educational.

Geek and Sundry
One of our family favourites is Geek and Sundry. Now a warning - not all content on this website is child-friendly, but most of it is 'safe' and lots of fun. Tabletop is a firm favourite, and has lead to a number of board game purchases that have not been regretted. Other channels that are favourites are On the Table, and the Flog, though their educational value is perhaps a little thin.

Geocaching
This is a wonderful website that gives you a great excuse to go out and explore your neighbourhood. Geocaching Australia allows you to search by postcode as well. It's easy to find caches - possibly even in very familiar locations (often parks)! We've been doing this infrequently - without a GPS device or a phone with GPS. We look up the latitude and longitude on Google maps and write out the exact location. As it's often in very familiar locations, that makes it a lot easier. It's a wonderful way to use a computer program to get kids out of the house!

Lego Science
There are a number of cool ways to use Lego to explore science, math and engineering. One of the first we have used, is Lego chemistry. This is fun, as there are experiments to do, and then the fun of building the chemicals in the reaction in Lego.  Other options include Lego engineering, and the Lego education website. There are also a number of homeschool blogs that work through some cool Lego experiments.

Nottingham Uni
These are seriously awesome chemistry and physics videos. C loves these, and has since he was about two. But we keep coming back to revisit the wonderful world of chemistry. They're short, pithy and full of explosions.

And that's it for today! Have fun and explore your world.

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