Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Audio books - FREE

Gutenberg and LibriVox offer FREE audio books for download or streaming. Our favorite so far is P.G. Wodehouse's Love Among the Chickens.

Do you have a good reading voice and a few hours to donate? LibriVox needs more readers.
* LibriVox Catalog
* LibriVox - to volunteer


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who are scientists, and where do they work?

Research scientists agree on the methods of scientific inquiry, and on particular conclusions based on objective evidence, but don't expect them to agree on much else. In fact, this diversity among researchers is one of the safeguards of science -- there is little room for global bias among a body of competing researchers which represents all religious beliefs and non-belief, the range of human and cultural perspectives, and various national backgrounds.

Consider, for example, the location of (and national funding sources for) the world's physics communities, versus the religious and cultural beliefs and national interests of the countries in which those universities are located.

Adhering to the sometimes tedious processes of scientific method and review, including repeated testing by various parties to ensure the validity, consistency, and predictability of results and conclusions, has proved to be the best way to discover -- eventually -- the real truth about the way things work.

World History

Here are some nice sites which introduce world history.

* The origins and migration of human species
* The history of western civilization in 4 minutes - see minute 2:48 to minute 6:48
* World history - short videos by Glencoe publishers
* The Neanderthal Museum's kids pages (in English)
* UNESCO Map of World Heritage sites
* International World History Project
* International World History Project -

Friday, November 13, 2009

FREE Learning Resources

Following are additional learning resources -- free!

The Gutenberg Project
The Gutenberg Audio Project
Gutenberg offers text and audio books free on line.

Harvard Classics On-line
Bartleby's offers books free on line, organized by bookshelves such as "Harvard Classics" and more.

Free Children's Books On-Line
These beautifully illustrated works offer materials suitable for every reading level.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kid Safety

Here's a great website on keeping kids safe, sponsored by John Walsh (father of kidnapping victim Adam Walsh) and other parent advocates.
This site also links to a map of registered offenders which includes photos, registered addresses, and other information.

Also, I found the Safe Side organization's DVD "The Safe Side: Stranger Safety" at my local library. Of the various materials I've seen, this is by far the best -- practical, straight-forward, yet non-threatening.

The DVD includes helpful information, carefully considered suggestions, and practice in knowing what to do and how to respond to inappropriate behaviors by (1) Don't Knows (people the child does not know at all) and (2) Kinda Knows (people whom the child knows, but who are not part of the child's completely-safe circle). "Safe Side Superchick" -- an engagingly goofy character who offers physical comedy, sound effects, and a lightly delivered but serious message, all reminiscent of Bill Nye -- introduces a very useful analogy: unknown dogs. In an exaggeratedly funny way, she demonstrates that a cute, adorable little harmless-looking dog, may not be harmless after all. Children are introduced to the idea that harmless-looking people may not be safe. Gently, she explains that no one can tell by looking at someone, whether that person is safe or not. Learning how to recognize early warning signs of inappropriate adult behavior and how to respond safely and appropriately are important skills introduced by this video series.

If you are interested in helping children who have been traumatized, please consider supporting Operation Fuzzy, a non-profit which provides care packages to offer comfort and reassurance to children who have experienced trauma. Read about their work here: The Franks Foundation. "It's the goal of the Franks Foundation to expand "Operation Fuzzy" to a nationwide program by January 2010."

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Support MIT's OpenCourseWare

"Free lecture notes, exams, and videos from MIT. No registration required."

I hope you will enjoy exploring MIT's OpenCourseWare website, an on-line library of course materials and lectures for more than 1800 college courses -- provided free of charge to the public, thanks to MIT's commitment to support educational access. Open Courseware is an invaluable contribution which provides one of the best realizations of the promise of the internet. MIT's bold initiative has been followed by similar efforts at other institutions.

There is much to see and learn, on every subject. Here is one of my favorites, a lecture by the engaging Professor Walter Lewin: Newton's Laws. (You don't need a math or science background to enjoy and make use of this one.)

Please also consider supporting this project with a few of your dollars, so that MIT can continue to provide public access to this treasure of thorough, reliable information. Following is an excerpt from a letter by Cecilia d'Oliveira, Executive Director of OpenCourseWare.

We continue to keep OCW vibrant and relevant by constantly adding new MIT courses, updating older ones, creating topic-related views into OCW content (like our environment and energy), and taking an active role in global efforts to enhance curricula using OCW courses as building blocks.

But we face an immediate challenge to the future of OCW. The initial grant funding for OCW has ended. Although we continue to reduce our operating costs aggressively, without major support, we will not be able to achieve our goals to enrich OCW, serve the MIT community, and effect greater change in the world. . . .

MIT pays for roughly half the cost of OCW directly, but your donation is an important piece of our funding puzzle. Your support during our Spring fund raising drive allows us to continue adding and updating materials, making OCW richer and more useful.

Since OCW was established eight years ago, the project has touched the lives of millions around the world. Please help us continue our efforts by making a donation to OCW today. Your contribution of $50, $75, $100 -- or whatever amount is right for you -- directly supports OCWs sustainability and growth.

Please visit to make your donation now.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kitty Hall: Studying Government

During this election cycle, we have temporarily diverted our homeschooling studies from ancient civilizations to the modern era.

Sophia Claire has built up a series of found-object "buildings" and has established a new government in our little kitchen corridor.

No, not City Hall, says Sophia: Kitty Hall, where duly elected kitties make rules and follow them.

Clinical Symptoms of Homeschooling

Six-year-old Sophia Claire had brought along a book bag filled with good things to read, when she accompanied me to my dental appointment. Kindly making conversation, the hygienist asked S.C. to name some of her "favorite story books."

Sophia paused to think before responding, "Well, the most interesting book I've read recently is a biography of Marie Curie which explains how she discovered radium."

Reacting with only a barely perceptible, merry twinkling of eyes, the hygienist smiled nonchalantly, "Oh! So, are you homeschoolers?"

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