Get your kids hooked on Shakespeare with 5 easy steps

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Get your kids hooked on Shakespeare with 5 easy steps
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

This semester the kids and I have been diving deep into this popular history series, and recently I read aloud to them the Greek myth of the Minotaur.

Hearing the description of this half human/half beast, my Elijah (age 10) piped up with an eager hand raised and an observation:

“That reminds me of Caliban.”

Caliban, as in another beastly/human character from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which we studied last spring. And I loved that this literary allusion came from my 10-year-old son, who has developmental delays and hasn’t yet crossed the threshold to independent reading.

Every child can have a positive relationship with Shakespeare, if the master playwright is introduced well.
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How to get your kids started with electronics

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Little Bits and contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

How to get your kids started with electronics
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Playing with electronics has been a popular pastime in our family for about three years now.

It all started when my in-laws gave Jonathan a snap circuit set for his 8th birthday. He subsequently spent many happy hours consumed in thought, tongue sticking slightly out in concentration, as he experimented with different circuit combinations.

His enthusiasm spread to my daughter Trishna, who began to ask for a circuit set of her own the following year. At age twelve, she still plays with these on an almost-daily basis. She even took them on our trip to England earlier this summer, used them to build an AM radio and began listening to the BBC.

All of the above explains why I jumped at the chance for our family to review a new style of electronics set created by littleBits Electronics.

The main difference between these and snap circuits is that they are much more versatile, allowing more in-depth–and even practical–inventions to come from a child’s (or adult’s!) imagination.

I read a quote from a parent who referred to littleBits as “the electronics equivalent of Lego,” and that’s a brilliant way to describe these magnetic building blocks. 
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Curricula bliss: 12 products we couldn’t live (or learn) without

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Curricula bliss 12 products we couldn't live (or learn) without
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

Our family spent the first part of September on vacation–something we’ve made a tradition of the past few years. When most people head back to the grind of school and work routines, I love that we can celebrate our homeschooling freedom on an empty beach together!

Now that we’ve settled in back at home, the leaves are changing color around their fringes. Something about autumn calls us to new beginnings, to crack open dusty books, clear off shelves, and get to work once more.

Instead of sharing with you a curriculum plan for our year, I thought I’d share our curricula bliss. In all honesty, I don’t do much traditional homeschool planning–I refuse to map out a game plan for a whole year because I always reserve the right to change my mind along the way.

But I have come up with some overarching guidelines and goals–and right now these twelve products/programs have us pointed in the right direction.

We inspire, not require when it comes to academics–so the resources below are not essential elements in my kids’ education, but ones available for them to choose from.

I’ve marked the resources that we do together as a group with an (*) symbol. Those without an asterisk the kids can choose (or not)–many of these I gathered as a result of their homeschool compasses.

I call them curricula bliss because, well, for the most part, they make us happy!
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What’s so great about Life of Fred?

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What's so great about Life of Fred
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

If you’ve been homeschooling for long, you may have run across a math curriculum called Life of Fred. All of a sudden it seems to be taking the homeschooling online world by storm!

Here’s a short description of it:

Life of Fred is a series of math books that break the old pattern of drill and kill. Instead of nothing but dry exposition and endless exercises, they contain fun stories about Fred Gauss, a child prodigy math genius.

During his hilarious adventures, he encounters natural situations that call for solving math problems. Children actually want to read these books!”

I first mentioned Life of Fred on this blog back in 2012, and what I said then I still agree with:
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15 school supplies that just might change your life this year

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15 school supplies that just might change your life this year
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

The days are upon us: days of newly sharpened pencils, out-of-the-box crayons, and spiral notebooks waiting for original ideas to be added to their pages. Even those of us who school year-round or non-traditionally sense that fall cries out for new beginnings and fresh starts.

The shopping this time of year can be pretty fun for homeschool parents, too. We grab deals and stock supplies, all the while getting ourselves psyched about the learning coming up in the months ahead.

And while school supplies may never have actually changed someone’s entire life, I know I’m not the only one to feel a kind of thrill when stumbling upon the perfect tool that I know our family will use regularly in our pursuit of knowledge.

A couple of weeks ago I asked readers on my Facebook page to tell me the school supplies you just can’t live without.

Here are some of your top responses, along with links for where you can order them online if you can’t find what you need close to home. Many of these are available via Amazon Prime, meaning they could be on your doorstep in two short days!
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