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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Making Learning Fun for Homeschool or the Summer Slide

Disclosure: I was sent these items to review free of charge from MindWare. All opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review. I am including links to each item for your convenience but do not receive anything if you purchase them.

Now I have mentioned that I have not been posting since so much of my time has been going to homeschooling Hazel for the last six weeks of school. Her school year officially ends this Friday (at least at her old school). However the items I am sharing today we will continue to use all summer because they make learning fun!! Now we needed to continue with her spelling which we had from her school, her math workbook (which is really boring) to do money and fractions plus keep her addition and subtraction facts fresh, then in science plants and space and in social studies continue with the states which has been an on going activity and finish up Massachusetts history. Well MindWare came to my rescue to do some of these things and make them fun!! In fact Hazel wants to continue using these resources during the summer as well!! To start with learning about money we got the game Loose Change

In this game the players take turns to add a card to get it to equal $1. If you can get it exactly to $1 you will get a point but if you have to go over you will lose a point. Once $1 is reached (or passed) you start again. Throughout the game the players are announcing the total in play.
The cards have nickels, dimes, quarters and half dollar coins as well as special cards that have multiple coin amounts. This game reinforces the coins as well as practice in adding money and finding ways to equal $1. The game could easily be changed to use subtracting or even going to higher amounts. And the best part is Hazel and I like playing it!! 



To keep up with her addition I got her Double Addition Decoders: Addition by Evelyn B. Christensen. There are three types of decoder puzzles. Each has double digit addition problems to do and then there is an activity to do with your answers. Each activity allows for learning or practicing more math skills as well. The first helps learn about directions. With the answers there are instructions to move the spaces that correspond to the letters above the tens place and ones place (N, S, E, or W).

There are also ones with pictures. The user does the problems and then finds the square that corresponds with the answer and colors the square the color written above the problem. This is a good pre-Cartesian plane activity. 

The third type is to follow the row or column until you find your new answer. 

Hazel likes this last one a lot. She liked that you could check your answers by finding it in your row or column. 



Our final math item is Grid Perplexors: Level A. These are beginning logic puzzles. I LOVE logic puzzles and thought Hazel might like them as well. This book is written for ages 8 to 9 which is perfect for Hazel. She loves them as well and has done quite a few on her own. I did the first one with her, but she has done seven more by herself and often just does them without being asked. She just likes them like I do. And personally I think it is great to start kids learning about deductive reasoning at a young age. It will get them far to understand it.

Now we will look at some of the fun activities to learn more about the states. The first thing to share is actually a bit of math (counting) as well as learning about the states. It is Extreme Dot-to-Dot: Around the USA
Hazel former second grade teacher gave the kids these puzzles all the time. Hazel asked for this one. She loves doing them and of course counting over 1000 for some of the puzzles helps her learn her higher numbers. Since we just went to the Statue of Liberty during her April vacation we started with that dot-to-dot.

I had her start on the USS Constitution since it is part of the Freedom Trail in Boston which we started visiting recently, but haven't gotten to the USS Constitution (which is drydocked until 2018). She unfortunately hasn't finished it yet, so I took a picture of some of the solutions so you could see the completed puzzles.

You can see there are puzzles from all over the country. This is perfect for studying the states and the special places in them. Plus it helps them with their visual skills and counting skills. 


To learn about the states it is also important to learn where the states are. To help with this geography lesson we got Color Chart: United States. It is a large map (40" by 28") of the United States to color in. It comes with markers and a picture hunt.

Hazel colored in a few of her favorite states as well as the ones we have been focusing on. Each state has pictures to show different things about the state from animals, nature and more! Once we are done coloring them in she is going to hang it in her bedroom!

Another fun way to learn about where the states are and something special in each state is DestiNation USA. This gameboard is a map of the United States. The players have car game pieces and start on different states. The goal is to get to the special destination which is picked by a card and to visit the most states. To travel one has to be next to the state and have the right cards. We really LOVE this game and played it with one of my co-workers who also really liked it. 

I had trouble getting a picture since we got so involved in the game. There are little disks for each state and before playing they have to be put on the board in the correct place. There are different driving cards to move around the board and then the destination cards which tells where the specified destination is. The game instructions say to play for five destination cards or when the 48 state disks have been collected. We often play more than five destination cards because we do not want to stop. We have never gotten all the state disks off. This is a new favorite game here and we will continue to play it. I love how it helps Hazel learn the location of the states as well as the special points of interest in each one (the destination cards). Talk about learning that is fun!! Some other great resources we have for the studying the states are these books

Our final item is Extreme Mazes: Book 5. I will admit I got this one because Hazel really wanted it. She wanted this book the last time we got things from MindWare and I had gotten a different one instead. Oops!! Of course these mazes teach problem solving, fine motor control, and visual motor skills. These are pretty extreme mazes. She however seems to love doing them!!


She has done quite a few of them but I will just share one. The details in the pictures and mazes are quite amazing. I think my eyes would go a bit batty doing them!!

This week we will be sharing many of the resources I have gotten to help with our homeschooling month and that help bring some learning to home and summertime. One project I hope to do is put together a United States postcard exchange. Would you be interested in sending 49 postcards from your state and getting one from each of the other 49 states? If you are, drop me a note and tell me what state you can do. I have Massachusetts covered!! It will be first come first served for states!!