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Welcome to the blog section of Room613.
Here we'll be sharing some thoughts about Jewish homeschooling,
out of our unique experiences and perspectives. Kids are welcome to blog too!
We look forward to an open exchange of ideas.

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Yael Resnick
Group Co-Administrator


Ups and downs in the life of an imperfect homeschooling mom

November 2011 Posts


A Learning Experience
Blog Entry

Itís going to be a big year for science around here

Wednesday, November 9th 2011 @ 2:57 AM

I love this part of the homeschool year, when there’s a stretch of a few months between holidays and we can actually get some momentum going. I tend to add on “layers of learning” as the year progresses, and my kids start spending a greater proportion of their day on officially “educational” pursuits. So, today I researched options for science, and I’m so excited about two online resources I just signed up for, and thought I’d share.

For some reason, this year is shaping up to be big on science for my family. My daughters (ages 7 and 10) go to a nature science class one morning a week at our local Audubon center. And in general, we already do lots of exploring and discussing of nature and science, informally. And now, I’ve found these more formal, computer-based resources to round it all out and bring everything up a notch academically. 

First, I subscribed to a website called “The Happy Scientist,” which is basically a huge collection of videos, photos, lessons, and experiment ideas for an incredible range of science topics, all made in a very homey, accessible style by a fellow named Robert Krampf. Kids of all ages can watch the videos and enjoy the Science Photo of the Day, and older students can get more into the nitty-gritty lessons.

Some of the material is available free, but to access everything, you need to subscribe. Even at full price, which is $20 a year, I think this site would be more than worth it, but I ordered through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op and got a year for $10. (If you’re not a member of Homeschool Buyers Co-op, I highly recommend joining. It’s free, and you’ll have access to an amazing number of homeschooling resources at pretty extreme discounts.)

After checking out a lot of high-school science programs offered through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, I decided on Thinkwell Biology for my son (14). He is currently doing a Thinkwell Math course (as is my ten-year-old), so he’s already familiar with the format, and I think the teachers in their video lessons are engaging and usually quite clear in their explanations. 

The Homeschool Buyers Co-op doesn’t offer a discount for Thinkwell, but they do credit your account with 5000 “Smartpoints” when you buy a Thinkwell course through them, which is enough to purchase other educational programs that range from $50 to about $150. 

If you decide to use any Thinkwell program for your family, please consider entering my e-mail address where it says “Referred by” on the checkout form. (Send me a private message if you need my e-mail address.) You will be helping to support Room613 at no additional cost to you. Make sure you order through their homeschooling department, If you plan to join Homeschool Buyers Co-op, go there first and get the coupon code you will need to complete your order through Thinkwell.

Just to cover all my bases (it was so hard to make a decision!), I signed up for a free month-long trial at a site called Gizmos. It’s completely overwhelming but I love it! I’ll have to see if my kids love it, too. Meanwhile, I spent some pleasant hours this evening exercising my brain with their interactive, animated learning challenges. There are lessons supporting each “gizmo” and everything is very well organized, although the design of the site isn’t the most user-friendly.

And there you have it. One mother’s leap into the next chapter of the homeschool year. Next up: more Hebrew, more Tefillah, more Chumash—more of everything kodesh!


© / Jewish Education Alternatives