SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers – A Review

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to implement a variety of resources to encourage learning. While we are conservative on screen time in our home, especially with our younger ones, we know that visual media can be valuable. Understanding the learning possibilities through media, SmartKidz Media has created SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. We were able to review this media library over the past several weeks and I’d love to share a bit about it with you.

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers provides a wide range of educational videos and other resources. The topics include: animal kingdom, history, culture, science, music, sports and more. Along with the videos, SmartKidz has downloadable study guides, flash animated e-books, and educational games.

Smartkidz Media content is “streaming” so there is no need to download anything to your computer or device.  Since this is a subscription based program, there are no ads or pop-ups to deal with. SmartKidz Media Library has two options for subscriptions:  monthly or yearly.

A 14 Day Free Trail is available to see if the content would be appropriate and beneficial to your home. It does require credit card information.

How Did We Use SmartKidz Media Library in our Homeschool?

We used SmartKidz Media Library very informally in our homeschool.  Instead of using it to supplement specific topics we were studying, we just watched different videos that my children showed interest in. There is no doubt that the Wonderful World series about various animals was a favorite. My thoughts, initially, were that this would be great for my younger ones. It never failed that when the videos started, everyone gathered around to watch. Who can resist polar bears, beavers, elephants, and monkeys?

It was interesting to see, even when using it informally as we did, how often we learned about animals we had come across in our school readings. Seeing the connections being made is a wonderful thing!

Another set of the videos we enjoyed as a family were the How Did They Make That? series. In an afternoon we learned how marbles, candles, and money are made. In one episode, while learning about birthday cakes, we discovered where cream of tartar comes from. I will confess that I had no idea!

There are other selections that I am interested in viewing but I am slowly previewing content. While this media library is designed for families, everyone has personal standards for what their children are allowed to view. What is acceptable for my older ones may not be beneficial to my younger ones.

New content is added regularly to SmartKidz Media. Recently some history resources for World War II and The Cold War have been added. I know my older children will likely enjoy these when we reach those studies in our history. We are a documentary loving family!

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers has been a fun and educational addition to our resources. Using it informally on rainy afternoons or when we need a bit of downtime has worked really well. Children are always learning! I am working on a plan for using the World Wide Discovery Travel videos with a bit more structure. Perhaps we will take a few imaginary field trips around the world.

Want to learn more about what SmartKidz Media Library has to offer? Check out reviews by other Crew Members!

 

SmartKidz Media Review
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Read Aloud Thursday – May 2015

So hard to believe that May is almost over! Time to refill the basket with some new read alouds, I think. We have been reading, reading, and reading.

I posted about a few of the picture books we have read earlier this month. But I have a few more to share that we really enjoyed.

Hurry Up and Slow Down (Layn Marlow) is about two very different friends: Hare and Tortoise. As you might imagine Hare does everything fast and Tortoise does everything slowly. Tortoise likes to wake up slowly, eat his lunch slowly, and even plays games slowly. Hare is always telling Tortoise to “Hurry Up!” Until bedtime, that is. Tortoise just wants a nice cup of chamomile tea in a bit of peace and quiet. Hare wants a story. Just one. Because you’re so good at reading, Tortoise. Before Hare knows it, the book is over. “Hurry up and slow down!” Hare, busy Hare, thinks you need to take time to read a book and look at all the pictures. My book loving kiddos loved this one. I think they might have related a bit with the character of Hare.

Sidewalk Flowers (Jon Arno Lawson * Sydney Smith) is a wordless book. I am stretching myself by bringing home a wordless book now and then. They are not my favorites but I must admit that I enjoyed this one. A young girl is walking through the city, apparently returning home after a bit of shopping with her dad. As she walks she is collecting flowers. A few growing beside a post or in a crack in the sidewalk. After she has a lovely collection, she begins to share her colorful bouquet. A few placed on a dead bird, a few shared with a gentleman asleep on a park bench, and finally at home she shares with her mom and siblings.

The illustrations begin mostly black and white with just the girl’s red jacket and flowers being the splashes of color. But by the end of the book, the pages are full of color as the girl has shared her flower treasure. A very simple but lovely tale told in picture. My nine year old looked at this often and told my younger ones various stories. This is one wordless picture book that I could see us enjoying again.

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes (Nicola Davies * Emily Sutton) was not what I normally put in the book basket. But as I am stretching myself by reading non-fiction, I wanted to do the same for my younger ones. Science can be a beautiful thing and I did not appreciate that until recent years. Tiny Creatures shares and teaches about microbes in an engaging and understandable way for young learners.  Comparing the number of microbes in a drop of seawater to the number of people in New York City help to visualize how small these interesting microbes are. One of mine was not impressed to learn that these tiny creatures lived inside her! Another found that fascinating. Colorful illustrations that help children see the role of microbes was excellent. This was a favorite of my 5 year old son and 9 year old daughter. I definitely recommend this if you need a few books on your science shelf.

And there were more but I can’t blog them all, right?

For our Family Read Aloud, we finished reading Rascal by Sterling North earlier this month. It is one that my children will probably list as a favorite.

We are reading Boys of Blur by N. D. Wilson..I had planned to read it on my own and then pass it around. One evening, I was caught without a read aloud!  I grabbed it and there was no turning back. More thoughts to come when we finish it.

Tomorrow we have plans to relax at the library. I wonder what we will find?

Nature Study – When and Where to Make it Happen

I have already shared a bit on why I think Nature Study is important and what I needed to get started. The next hurdle? When and where were we going to make this beautiful thing called nature study happen?

At first, I had planned on selecting an afternoon that would be set aside each week. Fridays is often selected to be a day of Enrichment Studies so perhaps Friday afternoons? Hmm, why not?  I felt that I would really need to schedule it or it wouldn’t ever actually take place. Friday afternoons make sense, right? The week of work is done. We have checked off all the boxes, the books have been read and discussed, tests have been taken so now for the fun outing.

Well, not exactly. I don’t believe that it is even feasible to think that I will have two days exactly the same with nine children in the house. A little one might not feel well, an older child needs a bit of help with math, or the laundry mountain has gotten out of hand and calls for extreme measures. Or the weather for Friday afternoon turns ugly.

Flexing was the key. I decided that we would plan on Monday being our nature study day. If the weather or just life took an unexpected turn then we could flex and bump to a different day. I can easily do this because we don’t have extra activities to interfere with other days. Monday does not work out? No problem. Hello, Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.

But where would we go? We also have only one vehicle so we have to work around dad’s schedule. Thankfully we live in a small town and in a bit of a set back area. We have a  small wood next door that even has a small creek. Not only is it a favorite place for the children to imagine in, we can also study the beauty of nature there.

We happen to live in a neighborhood that was established before clear cutting was a common practice. A simple walk around the neighborhood can be full of many nature encounters. Flowers and trees blooming, birds, grasses offer much to study.   Bats have even been spotted while walking.

Our walks in the neighborhood almost always end up at the park which is right down the road from our home. While it isn’t always ideal for nature study, we can make it work.

I am also researching greenways in our area that we can plan trips to a couple of times a month. A drive up the road about ten miles or so will open up a wealth of possibilities. I am looking forward to our next outing!

When and where do you do Nature Study? I’d love to hear and be inspired. Next time I’ll talk about how we do nature study.