Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sandra Dodd Interviews on YouTube

Read more from Sandra Dodd on Unschooling.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our Courts

Here's a website that looks promising. It seems to still be under development, but I am especially intrigued by the "games" section which is supposed to be complete by the summer of 2009.

Our Courts is a free, interactive, web-based program designed to teach students civics and inspire them to be active participants in our democracy. Our Courts is the vision of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is concerned that students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation, and that civics teachers need better materials and support. On this site, you will find information and useful teaching resources for an engaging civics curriculum.

I'm curious about how other homeschoolers approach civic participation. One of the things that really impressed me about the very first homeschool family I ever knew of (years ago) was that the children were so aware of and involved in current events. The oldest (I think around age 15 at the time) was actually working on a campaign for a local politician.

Isn't the best way to learn about it to get out there and be involved? Are there any avenues of participation that you have found especially enjoyable? Any ways your kids have gotten involved that you would like to share?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Speech and Debate Tournament

Dear Kansas Homeschool Families,

We would be honored to have you judge speech and/or debate at the upcoming NCFCA Regional Invitational Tournament for high-school students.

This is also a great way for you to find out about adding this opportunity to your homeschool program.

Home-educated public speakers and debaters from five states will be competing in Overland Park from April 27-29.

To find out more information and sign up please go to ( We need over 400 community judges for this event, so please consider giving just three (3) hours of your time; I think you will find it worthwhile.

Simply visit to find out more information and register to judge.I hope that you are able to participate in this opportunity to invest in the lives of these young people.

Cheryl Reynolds
Host Coordinator and Kansas State Representative for NCFCA

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia at Union Station

only at Union Station in Kansas City
May 22-August 23!

Explore the science and wonder of Narnia!

Step through the wardrobe and into the wintry world of Narnia where in the midst of summer, you'll feel the snow on your face and experience the chill of the witch's ice throne first-hand.

Based on the C.S. Lewis classic books and Disney blockbuster movies, the
exhibition includes more than 150 original costumes, set dressings and props from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, as well as newly created educational hands-on activities and videos.

Click on the images to view the flyers.

They have a note up right now that if you purchase tickets prior to May 1st, you receive free tickets to Science City.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do you know your states?

Here's an online puzzle that will keep you entertained for a bit. You have to put each state in it's place on the map. Can you do it?

State Map

Thanks for the link, Claudia.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Interactive Brain Tour

I enjoyed this quick tour of the human brain from the Alzheimer's Association, and I thought there were probably a number of others who would find it interesting, as well.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Open Culture

Open Culture is a website my husband found. He's just been given his first MP3 player, a hand-me-down from our daughter, and he's become a big fan of the world of podcasts and lectures that he can download and carry it with him to listen to whenever he wants.

There is truly an impressive collection here - everything from free audio book links to foreign language lessons. It has a list of university lectures by subject from across the nation.

Television and music.

Science and law.

I warn you; it's one of those places (much like a great library) that makes you feel there will truly never be enough time in the world to explore every avenue of interest.

My oldest (age 13) has begun browsing the site. I think it would be a great resource for older kids and adults.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Home Schooling Continues to Grow

An article on homeschooling from 4Marks, a Catholic website.

The statistics in this article are mildly interesting.

A 2007 survey of home-schooling parents showed that a majority educated their own offspring for moral or religious reasons. But those who home school because they want a more untraditional approach are growing, now up to a possible 32 percent of all home schoolers.

But the article, for the most part, seems to be written as a response to criticism of homeschooling in general, and criticism from teachers (or at least one specific teacher) in particular. In fact, it is probably more accurate to say that the article was written with the point of embarrassing teachers, in general.

I have to ask if this "us vs. them" mentality is really what we want to be living as an example for our children. On the one hand, I read this article and find myself empathizing with the author. I've probably been party to countless conversations myself, blasting the public school system and those who participate in it.

Yet, some of my best friends are public schoolers (I count more than a few teachers among those I know and love) and it doesn't seem to get in the way of my friendship with them, nor my children's friendships with their children. Sure, there are questions and even occasional misunderstandings that come up. My kids, for instance, don't always fully understand school lingo and they aren't always pleased with some of the divisions the whole grade division seems to create among those they would like to spent time with. I may step up on a soapbox a bit too passionately at times for the comfort of my friends who have chosen different lifestyles for their own families. But similar gaps of understanding exist between my preference to give birth at home and my sister-in-law's comfort with the hospital, for instance. It doesn't --and shouldn't-- stop us from communicating and finding that common ground where we both can be passionate and enjoy each other's company.

Of course, the author and I are probably as far apart philisophically as the author and this teacher she is responding to. I am of that 32% she cites early in her article, and while it's easy for us to be on the "same side" when the statistics are convenient, the "us vs. them" between traditional homeschoolers and radical unschoolers (as only one example) can be easily as viscious and ugly on any given day.

I'll be the first to admit that I get bit of a thrill when I run into a school teacher (past or present) who tells me that they'd be homeschooling themselves in this day and age if they had young children. But I've also bit my tongue through countless insensitive remarks, and there is nothing that annoys me more than when people assume that because my children don't attend school, I am every homeschool stereotype.

I appreciate the author's point, and I share that feeling of anger and injustice when reading comments such as these... sometimes it just feels better to spout back, to throw a rebuttal out there and point out the justification for the path you are taking.

I know also that this teacher is not representative of the entire population of teachers, just as neither the author nor myself are representative of all who homeschool. I guess what I want to remind myself of is that I shouldn't carry a grudge for an entire population of teachers just because a few wish to speak out in ignorance or because they feel threatened by my choices. There's really no need for us to think of each other as enemies.

I think instead, if we just dedicated ourselves to being open-minded and available for dialogue -- to respond as we would want to be responded to -- then maybe the teachers could begin to understand and appreciate our choices more, and that we might learn to understand and appreciate the passions and ideals that led them to be teachers in the first place.

Thanks for the link, Rebecca.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Ritchie House (Topeka) Open House in April


My name is Robin Shrimplin and I am the education consultant for the Shawnee County Historical Society. I wanted to let your group know about the open house we are holding at the historic Ritchie House (built 1856) every Saturday in April from 10 am to 2 pm. The house is located in downtown Topeka (3 blocks east of the water tower) at 1116 SE Madison. The event is free and open to the public.

The Ritchie family were abolitionists and were part of the Underground Railroad network in Kansas. We are celebrating that history this April with
corresponding activities as follows:

April 4th - 10:30 am Performance: "The Underground Railroad In Kansas" by historian and educator Anne Hawkins as Mary Jane Ritchie.

April 4th - 1:00 pm Especially for Elementary Age Students: Special reading of the book, "Almost To Freedom" and a talk about the Underground Railroad in Kansas.

April 11th - 1:00 pm Especially for Secondary Teachers: A presentation about our new traveling trunk "Territorial/ Civil War Kansas."

April 18th - 10:30 am Performance: "The Underground Railroad in Kansas" by historian and educator Anne Hawkins as Mary Jane Ritchie. A

April 18th - 1:00 pm Especially for Secondary Teachers: Presentation on our new lesson plan: "The Killing of Leonard Arms: The Trial of John Ritchie Upon the Shooting and Death of Deputy U.S. Marshal Leonard Arms."

April 25th - Morning Discussion "Forts In Kansas" led by Tanner Carlson (our student intern from Washburn University)

April 25th - 1:00 pm Especially for Elementary Age Students: Special reading of the book, "Almost To Freedom" and a talk about the Underground Railroad in Kansas.

Please feel free to contact me for more information. My phone number
is 785-232-5622. Also feel free to visit our website.

For more information about our performer, Anne Hawkins, visit

We hope to see your group at the open house!
Robin Shrimplin

Fair to highlight alternative education

An alternative education fair for students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be from 10 am. to 3 p.m. April 11 at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont.

Representatives from all types of education, including, private, charter, virtual, religious, homeschooling and Waldorf, will have displays and answer questions.

The event is free, and refreshments will be provided.

Call 842-4882 for more information.

Kids Bowl Free

Here's a fun summer activity that might be available in your area. Click here for bowling alleys participating in Kids Bowl Free in Kansas.

If the whole family likes to bowl, there is apparently a family pass available at a very reasonable rate.

The Family Pass was created to allow for adult family members to enjoy bowling throughout the summer as well. The Family Pass costs $23.95 (except Royal Pin Leisure Centers, $29.95) and includes 2 GAMES PER PERSON PER DAY. The Family Pass is $23.95 and covers up to 4 adult family members. If you have 1 or 4 for family members on the pass, it is still $23.95 for the entire summer. This one-time payment covers up to 4 adults for the entire summer.

And if you are from somewhere other than Kansas, just click the 'home' link to find out which bowling centers are participating in your state.

Thanks, Roxie, for the link.