Geek Schooling at the 2017 Digital Homeschool Convention

digital homeschool convention

Geek Schooling at the 2017 Digital Homeschool Convention

The 2017 Digital Homeschool Convention has already started! It is an online event featuring homeschool speakers and a vendor hall without leaving the comfort of your own home (or paying for gas or other travel expenses). It is free to attend live (with the option to buy a complete access pass after it ends). I am excited to be a part of it!

Speakers and Sessions

Today is day five of the conference and you can enjoy my session on Geek Schooling for the next few days! You can also continue to enjoy sessions from previous days in the next few days, so you don’t have to miss a thing!

Other topics include all about working and homeschooling, getting started, homeschool methods, how to survive when you feel like quitting, and more.

Vendor Hall

Visit with some of your favourite homeschooling vendors and learn about some fantastic new ones in the vendor hall!

Don’t miss this event to help you get organized for the coming homeschool year. Register now, free!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few pennies to keep up Geek Schooling. Thanks for your support!

 

Geek Schooling at the Canadian Online Homeschool Conference

canadian online homeschool conference

Geek Schooling at the Canadian Online Homeschool Conference

**This event is over. Did you miss it? No worries, you can get an All Access Pass with lifetime access to all the recordings HERE. And be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to enter to WIN an All Access Pass. Good luck!**

The Canadian Online Homeschool Conference has already started! It is a virtual event featuring knowledgeable speakers, a vendor hall, opportunities to interact with other attendees, fun, and giveaways! All without leaving the comfort of your own home (or paying for gas or other travel expenses). It is free to attend live (with the option to buy a complete access pass after it ends). I am excited to be a part of it!

Canadian online homeschool conference

Speakers and Sessions

Today is day 3 of the conference and you can enjoy my session on Geek Schooling for the next 48 hours. You can also enjoy day 1 and 2 sessions for about the next 24 hours, so you don’t have to miss a thing!

Other speakers include homeschooling moms and owners of businesses you’ll want to hear from, such as Lisa Marie Fletcher (the host of the conference), Donna Ward, Louise House, Bev Rempel and me! Sessions include topics such as getting started, homeschool methods, all ages and stages including high school, subjects such as math and reading, and more.

Homeschool Community

Chats. Parties. Prizes. Used Book Buy & Sell. Connect with other homeschoolers and help create an environment of community and fun during this conference.

Vendor Hall

Visit with some of your favourite homeschooling vendors and learn about some fantastic new ones in the vendor hall!

Don’t miss this amazing event. Register now, free!

Giveaway!

And now for the giveaway! One of the lucky Geek Schooling or Homeschooling in Nova Scotia readers will win an all access pass, which means lifetime access to ALL the recordings from this event! A $97 value!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends at midnight Atlantic Time on Friday, February 10th. Winner will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few pennies to keep up Geek Schooling. Thanks for your support!

 

Science Fiction Books for Kids

science fiction books for kids

Science Fiction Books for Kids

If you’re like me and my Geek Schooling family, you may just find yourselves reading Science fiction books. While our bookshelves tend to be filled with Fantasy titles, you can also find some Sci-Fi among them. If you’re looking for more Science Fiction to read or want to be reminded of some favourites, here are some of ours. (Please note that what is suitable in our home may not be deemed suitable for yours – use your own discretion and/or read the books yourself before offering to your children).

A Wrinkle in Time Series by Madeleine L’Engle

Meg, her brother, and her friend are whisked away to a far off planet to find her father. It’s a strange series, but with such an original plot and characters, it makes for fascinating reading. This series is suggested for ages 10 and up.

Star Wars Novels

You know about the movies, but did you know that there is an extensive series of books that expands the Star Wars universe? Read novels set anywhere from 5000 years before the movies are set to 40 years afterward. Yes, you can even read all about the children of Leia and Han and company, although they don’t match up to the new set of movies. Click on the link above to download The Star Wars Novels Timeline to see all the novels and in which period they are set. There are a number of free titles for Kindle and ePUB (Kobo/Nook), so be sure to do a search for your e-reader. Written by a number of different authors, these books are suggested for ages 12 and up.

The Little Fuzzy Series by H. Beam Piper

It’s a fair assumption that you haven’t heard of this particular author. His novels were out of print for some time and you could only find them by combing through the shelves of used book stores. Piper’s books have recently been reprinted and are now available as ebooks. You can read the first book, Little Fuzzy, free on Kindle. On a planet named Zarathustra, a prospector named Jack comes across cute little ewok-like creatures when the planet is supposed to be devoid of sentient life. Piper’s books are more novella-sized, and are easy and fun to read.

Novels by John Wyndham

John Wyndham is one of the great (often post-apocalyptic) authors of Science Fiction. Here are a couple of my favourite titles:

The Day of the Triffids
In the aftermath of a world stricken blind after an unprecedented meteor shower, a man named Bill Masen finds another lucky person like him, Josella, who has also retained her sight. If a world turned topsy turvy by mass blindness wasn’t enough, they must try to survive attacks by triffids – 7 foot tall plants that can kill. Suggested for ages 13+, it does include some mild swearing.

The Chrysalids
The Chrysalids is set in a post global nuclear war future. It follows a boy named David (10 years old when we first meet him), who, in a society where people who are different are are banished, begins to realize he has a power that makes him different. Probably best for ages 13 and up. This is one of the first Science Fiction books I read when I was 9 years old and I loved it, and it was also a book studied in high school when I was 15.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This series is on our to-read list in our homeschool because so many of our friends have read and loved the books. In a dystopian future, children aged 12-18 are put in a lottery yearly and the “winners” are forced to fight to the death in “The Hunger Games”.

The Books of Ember Series by Jeann DuPrau

This is another series on our to-read list. We enjoyed the movie “The City of Ember“ and are looking forward to reading this series of books. They follow two 12 year olds living in a crumbling city underground, built for when the world above was destroyed.

While many science fiction titles and series can deal with some heavy, sobering material, I find this can often lead to some great discussions with your children.

What are some of your favourite science fiction titles and series in your home? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Fun Fantasy Fiction for Kids

fantasy fiction for kids

Fun Fantasy Fiction for Kids

If you’re like me and my Geek Schooling family, you may just love to read books in the fantsy genre. My whole family loves to sink our teeth into a good series of books. If you’re looking for more fantasy to read or want to be reminded of some favourites, here are some of ours.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

If you haven’t heard of Tolkien, you may have been hiding under a rock! Tolkien is the king of fantasy. These books have it all – adventure, excitement, fantastical locales and creatures.

The Hobbit is a great read-aloud even for younger children. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a huge, challenging work, which may be suitable for an advanced 10 or 11 year old, but often students aren’t ready until high school age or beyond. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies were brilliantly done, but do contain graphic violence, so be cautious with younger children. Go to http://www.theonering.net/ to chat about all things Lord of the Rings with other fans.

The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis

There is much debate on whether to start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which was written first) or The Magician’s Nephew (which is set chronologically first), but whichever book you start with, this is a great series. These books are suitable for all ages and make a great family read-aloud. There books are a big hit with Christians, because as you may know, they were written as a Biblical allegory, with the lion, Aslan, representing Jesus. However, I believe anyone can enjoy them.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

This is a fun series of four books, penned by a homeschooler. Starting with the book, Eragon, it centres around a boy and his dragon, battling against evil. The books are probably suitable for about age 10 and up, and are just as enjoyable for adults. Click on the link above for the official website, complete with activities. But steer clear of the movie, Eragon, it’s an immense disappointment if you’ve read the book.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

This series starts out with the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S. for some reason) and starts following Harry Potter as he turns 11 and finds out he is a wizard. He and his friends battle the forces of evil throughout the series of books, all while attending wizarding school.

Rowling is an excellent storyteller and the books get increasingly intricate (and longer) as the series progresses. As a result, this series is just as enjoyable for adults as for children. I would recommend it in general for children age 10 and up, although my advanced reader daughter started at age 8. Unlike some other movies, the movie adaptations of these books are very well done – naturally the books are better though! Click on the link above for the incredible, interactive Harry Potter website.

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

Starting off with The Lightning Thief, this series follows Percy as he finds out he’s actually a son of Poseidon, and thus a demi-god. Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it? But instead of a school, he attends a camp for demi-gods.

This series pales in comparison to The Harry Potter Series, but it is a fun way to bring mythological monsters and Greek godd to life, especially if you’re studying ancient Greece in your homeschool. Click on the official website link above to enjoy some games and activities. If you’ve read the book, the movie The Lightning Thief is a bit of a disappointment.

The Stone of Tymora Series by R.A. and Geno Salvatore

If you happen to be a fan of R.A. Salvatore’s works yourself, check out this Young Adult trilogy he and his son have written together! The story of teenaged Maimun is begun in the first installment, The Stowaway. Maimun comes across pirates, demons, and yes, Drizzt Do’Urden, too! (I have to mention that I had the distinct pleasure of meeting both Salvatores at Hal-Con in Halifax and they were delightful in person AND I got some books signed!)

The Wings of Fire Series by Tui T. Sutherland

This wonderful series for tweens is about young dragons known as the dragonets of destiny. They start out virtual prisoners and once they escape into the wide world of dragons they are plagued with doubts if they really are the dragonets of destiny from prophecy and if they are capable of making a real difference in the world. Sutherland These books make perfect read-alouds the whole family will enjoy.

What are some of your family’s favourite Fantasy series? We’re always looking for more!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

In Praise of Video Games

in praise of video games

In Praise of Video Games

When you think of playing video games and homeschooling, you probably imagine educational video games (i.e. for math). “Non-educational” video games are fun, but are also surprisingly educational. In praise of video games, here are some ways your kids are learning with them.

Learning to Read

My husband and I are both “gamers”, and love playing video games when time permits. Years ago, my son was motivated to learn to read in large part because I started playing a video game with him. Some of the characters in the video game were aliens and their speech had English subtitles. I told him he could not play by himself until he could read and he suddenly put effort into learning to read. (If you’re curious which video game it was, we’re big Star Wars fans and it was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic). There is even a book by James Gee entitled What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.

Critical Thinking

Besides reading skills, almost all video games involve critical thinking of some sort. The most obvious examples are puzzle-based games such as “Myst”. This video game first came out in 1993 and was a surprise success. Since then, many incarnations of “Myst” have been released. Today, “Myst” is also available for iPhone/iPod and various other formats, including “realMyst” for  iPad. It’s not an action-based video game – the player simply travels around stunning landscapes and uses their critical thinking skills to solve puzzles.

Physical Education

Children can increasingly get a dose of physical education through video games. Most recently, through playing the game Pokemon Go! on smartphones. Players have to walk in order to hatch those eggs. Even before Pokemon Go! game systems such as the Nintendo Wii started offering sports games, and more, that involve physical activity in order to play.

in praise of video games

Socialization

Won’t video games make children anti-social though? On the contrary – almost 60 percent of avid gamers play with friends. Another 33 percent play with siblings, and 25 percent play with spouses or parents. Many video games offer a social, online component and children have to work together in cooperation to achieve goals in the game.

For instance, “Minecraft” can be played online with others. We live in a rural area and there is no opportunity to walk to a friend’s house to play, but my kIDs do get to play with real life friends online. One November, before Remembrance Day, my son and his friends worked together and built a beautiful cenotaph inside the game in honour of our soldiers who have fought and died for us in past wars – I was so proud of them!

The Research

Research shows some benefits to playing video games. A couple of studies out of the University of Rochester came to the conclusion that video games improve vision and players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them, (improving such skills as multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town). Contrary to popular belief, research has also found that playing video games does not cause or increase aggression, but promotes cooperation and encourages gamers to control their aggression.

So, don’t be afraid to let your children play video games in your home and/or homeschool – it might just be a learning experience!

What have you caught your child learning through video games? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Learning with Angry Birds

Does your child love playing Angry Birds? If you don’t know what all the fuss is about – give Angry Birds a try now. At first it was only available for devices such as the iPod touch, iPad, smart phones, and Kindle, but now it’s also playable on your Mac or PC, Nintendo Wii, or even Facebook. There is an Angry Birds 2 available and spin-offs to choose from such as Angry Birds Star Wars I and II (our favourites), Angry Birds Transformers, Angry Birds Fight, and more.
learning with angry birds

Learning with Angry Birds

Why not make your own Angry Birds game in real life, once you and your children have played the video game? You’ll need:

• Angry birds and bad piggies – buy Angry Birds plush balls and bad piggies, knit Angry Birds with these free patterns, or sew an Angry Bird plush with this free tutorial
• Block set (an architectural set works well, or even the blocks from your Jenga game)
• A slingshot – my children made one out of a branch and some waistband elastic but have your children look around the house and see what they can use to make a slingshot

learning with angry birds

Set up the blocks with some bad piggies on them and slingshot angry birds at them. See who can get the most blocks and piggies down at one time, or work out a point system much like the one in the game. While you’re playing, discuss concepts such as arc and acceleration, where to stand to get the best knock-down results, angles at which you release the birds, and how far back you pull your slingshot before you release it. Perhaps your children would like to take it further and construct a trebuchet, a catapult, or other siege engines to launch their angry birds as well.

You can also purchase ready-made games instead of making your own, such as Angry Birds Space: Planet Block Game, Birds in Space Game, or K’NEX Angry Birds.

For more enrichment for your younger children, you can use these Angry Birds printables – two different sets of fun, free printables – one for preschoolers and one for kindergarteners.

For your older children, check out these physics articles:
• Wired Science shares The Physics of Angry Birds.
Angry Birds in the Physics Classroom presents questions with accompanying videos for physics students.

If your children are really enjoying all the Angry Birds fun, take your unit study further:
• into the kitchen for the whole family with the Bad Piggies’ Egg Recipes cookbook.
• how did this feud between the angry birds and the bad piggies start? Perhaps young children would enjoy writing a story all about it.
• if they’d like to act it out, they can make Angry Birds felt masks like these to dress up.

Do you enjoy learning with Angry Birds in your home? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Learning with Star Wars

learning with star wars

Learning with Star Wars

Do you have a Star Wars fan on your hands? We are HUGE Star Wars fans – all four of us in our household. I don’t know how many times we’ve watched the movies. My husband and I grew up with them on the big screen, bought the VHS tapes, watched them with our children when they came along, and then delightedly watched on the big screen once again when they were re-released. Eventually we bought the new edition on VHS and then DVD/Blu-ray.

The release of a new movie is a big deal in our household. When The Force Awakens came out, my daughter and I were involved in a theatrical production of A Christmas Carol so we couldn’t go to the very first viewing, but grabbed the late show with my husband and son. We did manage to put together cosplays for two of us. Here I am as Leia (from The Empire Strikes Back) with my daughter as Rey (from The Force Awakens).

learning with star wars

The movie was incredible by the way! We laughed, we cried, and we cheered. It’s a must-see. We can’t wait to see Rogue One this year!

We’ve been known to engage in all things Star Wars during a homeschool day. Here are some activities for your fans to start learning with Star Wars in your home or homeschool – pull them together and you have a unit study!

Physical Education

Lightsaber duelling! Believe me, you can really work up a sweat in a lightsaber battle! If you don’t have lightsabers, buy some foam swords available in almost every dollar store. Simply take off the “crossguard” (which typically on these swords looks like a circle with a slit in it), and it looks like a lightsaber. OR make your own (see Art, below).

learning with star wars

Art

Make a lightsaber. Grab some foam pipe insulation wraps from your local hardware store (or some pool noodles) along with some duct tape in different colours. Wrap the bottom “hilt” part of the saber in the usual silvery-grey colour of duct tape and then wrap the rest round and round in your favourite lightsaber colour. You can also do a search on the internet for other ideas – there are many “how to make a lightsaber” tutorials!

Your child can also learn to draw the animated Clone Wars or Rebels characters. There are books available at your local bookstore or you can visit StarWars.com to learn to draw characters and make puppets and other crafts, just search for “crafts.”

learning with star wars
My son when he was little, with his homemade lightsaber

Math

Play math games on the Star Wars Math CD-Rom. This is an oldie but a goodie, so look for it used. You may also want to check out the Star Wars Math Workbooks.

Language Arts

Read some of the many Star Wars novels available – there are versions for young children as well. Do a search for “Star Wars” at your local library. You can also make a language arts course for your child, or download the Star Wars: A Study of the Hero Myth from Live & Learn. It’s a few pages long and provides your high schooler with a rough outline for a half credit in English.

Foreign Language

Have a little fun with languages – do a search for “Star Wars languages” on the internet and learn all sorts of phrases in Ewokese, Huttese, etc. You can also pick up the book, Star Wars Galactic Phrase Book and Travel Guide for even more fun.

Science

Discuss the Science of Star Wars together. Can all those sounds be heard in space in real life? Discuss lasers and gravity. Have your high schooler read the book The Science of Star Wars, written by an astrophysicist.

Filmmaking/Cinematography

Study the films from a cinematic perspective. After watching, discuss directing, acting, and special effects. Watch a “making-of” documentary. Challenge your child to create some of their own special effects with a video camera or smartphone.

Drama

Act out a favourite scene from the movies, books, or animated series. Put this together with art and home economics, and you can act it out complete with costumes and props.

Home Economics

Knit Princess Leia buns from Knits for Nerds. Sew an outfit inspired by the Star Wars films or make a full cosplay like me and my daughter did for the Star Wars premiere. Make some Star Wars concoctions in the kitchen. Learn to make a Yoda cake, Wookie cookies, Clone War cupcakes, and more at StarWars.com – just searth for “baking”.

Many of these activities fit beautifully into a birthday party celebration! We made a round paper maché piñata, painted it up like the death star and attacked it with lightsabers at one of my son’s birthday parties.

Learning with star wars

Are you a Star Wars fan? How are you learning with Star Wars in your home or homeschool? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &

Laughter,
Kimberly

Welcome to Geek Schooling!

welcome to geek schooling

Welcome to Geek Schooling!

What is geek schooling? It means using yours or your child’s love for anything and everything geeky and learning through it. Children can learn through video games, comic books/graphic novels, science fiction, fantasy, super heroes, and more!

Whether you homeschool or your children attend public or private school, let me help you make learning fun with geek schooling. Stop lecturing your child to put the comic book down or get off the computer. Stay tuned for learning suggestions centred around particular fandoms, and using geek pursuits such as video games.

Check out our geek schooling adventures on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly