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Monday, February 17, 2020

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2020 STEM Homeschool Conference Speakers

I am pleased to introduce you to the speakers at the 2nd annual STEM Homeschool Conference!

They are experienced homeschoolers, expert teachers, and subject-matter specialists! 

Carolyn Balch

Carolyn Balch started her career as a high school physics teacher in northern New Jersey and then in Kenya. From there she moved into museum education, first at a children’s museum and then at the Smithsonian. At each, she developed materials for families and students to help bring the engagement of hands-on exhibits into their studies. She left the workforce when her children were born but soon became involved in a school startup. 

She joined the middle school faculty, developing an exploration-based curriculum. This approach delivers content through experiments and activities. Doing labs every day can get crazy, but switching to a self-directed classroom where students worked at their own pace was a life-saver. It was amazing to see the students become busier and calmer. Now she writes full time as the author of Engaging Science Labs. You can find her at https://www.engagingsciencelabs.com where she offers experiments and labs for grades 4-8 and writes about science teaching and learning. Carolyn loves to show teachers and parents how to incorporate more hands-on activities into their scientific study. She’s not sure everyone will come around to an exploration-based approach, but she can dream.

Sandra Balisky

Sandra, formerly a high-school math teacher (M.A.), now homeschools her three kids and creates fun and "fun"damental Math courses for kids at https://math-makes-sense.teachable.com/. She shares her interactive, authentic learning activities, homeschooling stories, and passion for learning and teaching at R.E.A.L.-World Learners. You can view her products (including several freebies!) in her Teachers Pay Teachers store, or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.   

Tracy Borgmeyer

Tracy Borgmeyer is a mom and chemical engineer whose mission is to inspire our kids to be curious and confident about science. She is the author of SheLovesScience.com which shows readers simple and easy science experiments to apply to everyday life.

She also writes the Halley Harper: Science Girl Extraordinaire middle grade chapter book series because Halley is the hero that she wished she had growing up. The first book, Summer Set in Motion (2017), follows quirky science-loving nine year old Halley Harper as she uses the Laws of Motion to save her friends and her beloved Camp Eureka. In the second book, The Friendship Experiment (2018), Halley uses chemistry to get her best friend back and save her from a new mean girl. The third book in the series, Secret Rock Aftershock (2019) Halley discovers just how much life changes as an eleven year old and how geology can change everything.  Follow Tracy at https://twitter.com/tracyborgmeyer, http://shelovesscience.com/, and https://halleyharper.com/!

Ali Dunn

Ali Dunn is the founder of Me Two Books and the author of several children’s books including The Career Explorer: An Introduction to Career Development and STEAM Careers. She is also the creator of an ecourse, Introduction to Career Exploration. Prior to Me Two Books, Ali worked as a higher education administrator at Indiana University and The University of Tampa.  She has over 8 years of experience as a career counselor and adjunct professor.

Carla Jansen

Carla Jansen is a former high school science teacher (MA and National Geographic Educator) who now homeschools her five children and shares educational activities, freebies, and unit studies at Teaching Without Chairs and Preschool Powol Packets.  She is particularly passionate about hands-on exploration and child-led learning. She is currently writing several science and STEM themed picture books also, and invites you to join in that adventure at Turtle Trails Publishing.

Leah McDermott

Leah McDermott, M.Ed. is a homeschooling mama of two, and a former Master Educator who spent her early career working in inner city public schools, where she realized how little interaction students had with nature on a daily basis. It has since become her mission to help parents and teachers around the world bring more natural elements to their children’s everyday learning experiences.  

She does this mainly through her nature-inspired curriculum, A Child’s World, her one-of-a-kind parent training course Grow Your Natural Learner, and through multiple training programs, writings, and experiences for educators and parents.  
Leah has over 15 years of experience educating and working with children of all ages, from infancy to college years. She has two Masters of Education degrees as a Reading Specialist, K-12 certification, and Curriculum and Instruction Design. She has been featured on The Huffington Post and USA Today, and has been speaking and offering virtual and live workshops for teachers and parents around the world for the past six years.

Beth Napoli

Beth Napoli shares wisdom gained from 16+ years homeschooling her 5 daughters at Techie Homeschool Mom. She inspires and equips homeschooling moms to meet the needs of 21st century learners and incorporate more technology into home education. Beth’s not a computer expert; she just geeks out over cool web tools and online learning resources and loves to share what she finds with other homeschool moms. 

Beth is also the creator of Online Unit Studies, tech-driven internet-based thematic learning experiences and the hostess of the Techin’ Your Homeschool Facebook group.

Randi Smith

Randi is a former speech-language therapist turned homeschool mom. She adapts curricula and activities to support her two boys who both have learning challenges. Blogging at Peanut Butter Fish Lessons gives her a creative outlet in the sometime overwhelming chaos of homeschooling. When she is not teaching her boys or blogging, she enjoys reading, long walks while listening to podcasts, and exploring new places.

Krista Stith

Krista Stith, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Gifted Studies and Talent Development at Ball State University. With teaching pre-service educators, Dr. Stith is purposeful in providing inter-, multi-, and transdisciplinary educational experiences that tie technology and engineering practices to engage future teachers in STEAM literacy. While serving as the Director of the Gifted Center, she provides support to a wide audience of stakeholders (e.g., educational leadership, scholars, teachers, parents, and students) in a number of facets regarding high ability education. Her research interests are in design thinking attitudes, content knowledge, and skills of high ability students. She is the proud mother of Connor (6), Cailin (3), and Hannah (1) and her first children’s book, titled How to Keep an Owl Dry in the Rain, explores design thinking through the lens of children. She may be reached at kmstith@bsu.edu.

Kerry Tracy

Kerry taught 2nd - 7th grades in public schools for 10 years. She now creates teaching resources and delivers professional development to parents and teachers around the world to help them uncover more feel-good teaching moments in their lives, with brain-busting work disguised as fun. Kerry holds a master's degree in Design-Based Learning.

Redeemer J. Wonsiah

Redeemer is a Liberian with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He has been involved with STEM since 2017 and currently mentors STEM Club-Team Liberia.


JenJen comes from three generations of strong single mothers. She is the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a master in Entertainment Arts and Engineering. She is the sole founder and tech entrepreneur of an award-winning startup called Tiered World Studios (TW). The lack of access to high-quality STEM education in the poorest schools is known as STEM deserts. Just as a desert has an oasis, TW is creating STEM oases at kid-friendly spaces where kids engage in STEM, including art, innovation, and entrepreneurship (STEAMIE) with their omnichannel edutainment platform. The platform includes activities that are STEM.org Authenticated and a pilot script for a kids educational cartoon that is STEM Reviewed.

Register now for the 2020 STEM Homeschool Conference HERE! The conference includes lifetime access to all these sessions (and much more!), but once registration closes, you CANNOT get access every again!  This is NOT one of those events that will try to up-sell you recordings when it is all over! You must register before the conference ends to get lifetime access to all the sessions and session hand-outs!!

Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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Saturday, February 8, 2020

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Preschool Music and Active Movement Class!

Last year I started teaching a preschool Music and Active Movement class in our community, mostly so my preschoolers could make some new friends and get the benefits of an organized music class.

I decided to share the lesson plans here, partly to help anyone else who is planning preschool music lessons (whether it's in a preschool class, a homeschool co-op, a library, or just in your community!) and partly so I could find them again easily!

I like to have a theme each week and consistent routines within the class. The kids enjoy the variety of themes and the routines help young children adjust to a structured class.

These lessons are designed for 3-4 year old kids, but we have had siblings from 2-6 join in and have a great time too!

Each lesson takes about 40 minutes.

It is worth pointing out that in the first lesson (Moon & Space), I share more details about our Welcome Song, Good-bye Song, and a little more background about some of my inspiration for organizing these classes.

So, here are the lessons I've typed up for you! I hope they're helpful!!  And you're always welcome to reach out to me with any questions or to clarify anything that I was too vague on!


* and more coming! *

I also have a few music resources that are not whole lesson plans, but that you might find useful:


Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

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10 Fun Screen Free Ideas for Families with Young Children

Today I’m excited to introduce Stacy C. Bauer, a teacher and children’s book author who is joining us to share some of her favorite screen-free ways of playing with and teaching young children! (Photo credit: Stacy C. Bauer)

The first two years of my 10 year old daughter Camden's life were almost completely screen free. Granted, it was pretty easy: we had one child and we didn't have smart phones or tablets yet. Then, when Cami was 2 1/2, I had her brother Wyatt and she was introduced to screens.

Now don't get me wrong. A little screen time is okay. We all know what it's like to look forward to that half hour kid’s show so you can have a little peace and quiet, some time to take a shower or get the dishes done or time for yourself. However, we also know what it can be like when they’ve had too much time on the screen: tears, anger, yelling, arguing...it’s not fun. Maintaining a healthy screen time balance is important, so I wanted to share some fun, screen free activities we did with our children when they were younger:

1. Encourage them to use their imaginations! Play:

*Store: materials (all are optional): cash register or calculator, items “for sale” (can be anything- we just used things in my kid's playroom or bedrooms), grocery cart, baby dolls, play purse/wallet, play money/credit cards (our kids used our expired ones). Take turns being the cashier and the customer with your little ones. Show them how to ring things up and practice counting money and change. Practice good manners and being friendly.

*Ice cream shop. Materials needed: colored pom poms, ice cream scoop/spoon, play or real bowls and spoons, cash register/calculator, play purse/wallet, money, baby dolls. Take turns running the ice cream shop and being the customer. 

*Doctor's office. Materials needed: doctor's kit (purchase or make your own), baby dolls (or just yourself), play telephone (optional), doctor's notebook/pencil. Take turns being the doctor and the patient.

*House. Materials needed: really anything you want. We used baby dolls, cradles/cribs, play food/dishes, play cleaning supplies, blankets, pillows, even boxes to make a house. Practice being a polite and helpful part of the family. 

*School. Materials: whatever you have. Chalkboard, whiteboard, desks/chairs, pencils/paper/other school supplies, books and other materials. Take turns being the teacher and the student. Practice good classroom behavior (raising your hand, following directions, listening to the teacher, trying your best).

*Restaurant. Materials: table/chairs, play food/dishes/kitchen, notepad and pencil to take orders. Take turns being the server and the customer.

*Band. Materials needed: musical instruments (buy or make your own). Use your voice and the instruments to play/sing along with music or create your own! 

2. Create/build/invent: give your children things such as paper towel tubes, yarn, popsicle sticks, felt, rocks, shells, boxes, bubble wrap, feathers and let them create! If they need some encouragement: "What could we make with these? Should we make an animal? A monster? A fairy house? A new game?" See what they come up with! 

3. Get outside! Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, hopscotch, hide and seek, tag, the park, riding bikes, nature walk, print out a nature scavenger hunt (there are lots of free ones online), the beach, look for shapes in the clouds. 

4. Encourage their inner artist: let them make a book (my daughter made an animal book when she was in preschool), let them explore with paints, oil pastels, colored pencils, crayons (neon, glitter, scented), markers, stickers, gel pens, collage, glitter (put it in salt shakers to contain the mess)- the possibilities are endless!

5. Games: Some of my kid's favorites are puzzles, Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, Perfection, cards (teach them Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Slap Jack, Old Maid) and Checkers.

6. Books: My kids and I still make weekly trips to the library. The library has so much to explore. Most libraries have puzzles, games, scavenger hunts, blocks, play kitchens, dolls and more. Libraries have free programs for families like story times, lego days and science and music classes. Let your children choose their own books. My kids never want to leave! 

7. Build. Legos, mega blocks, wooden blocks, foam blocks, duplos, marble runs, magnets… there are so many things you can build with! Challenge them to build a city, a castle, a house, a secret hideout, a pirate ship, a school etc.

8. Encourage helpfulness. They aren't too young to help out around the house! Teach them to put away their laundry, feed the family pet, set the table, clear the table, dust- download and print off an age appropriate chore list. 

9. Do acts of kindness for others. This is the perfect age to talk to your child about doing kind things for others. Read some kindness books to introduce the topic to your little ones (this is a great one). Great ideas include making and delivering cookies to the neighbors, raking your neighbor’s leaves, inviting a friend to play, calling grandparents, making a card for someone, writing a library letter, or making a blanket.

10. Playdates/field trips. Get out of the house. Google "free events for kids" in your area or visit places like: the library, parks, beaches, pools, museums (lots of them have special days/prices for little ones), indoor play areas, the zoo, a friend's house, the mall, ice cream shop etc. Check out Groupon for deals and to try new places. 

There are so many great things you can do with your children and as they get older, they will develop their independence and be able to play with each other or on their own. 

If you’re like my family, when we are having a challenge with something at home (eating healthy, cleaning up toys, listening to mom and dad, being kind), we find a book about it. I use books to facilitate discussions with my children about things we’re struggling with. 

If you’re looking for a children’s book about maintaining a healthy screen time balance, look no further! I am currently running a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to publish my next book Cami and Wyatt Have Too Much Screen Time! I am super excited to get this book out there into the hands of families everywhere!! Want to support my book and get a signed hardcover copy of my book along with special rewards only backers of my campaign get?? Visit this link to pre-order your book now--in fact, everyone who orders on the first day (Feb. 4th) will be entered to receive a Cami and Wyatt MEGA Bundle with 5 books, valentines, and more!!.

Born and raised in a suburb of Minneapolis, Stacy C. Bauer is the author of the best selling Cami Kangaroo and Wyatt Too series of children's books. Stacy is married with two children and has been a teacher for 17 years. She is currently working on her third hardcover children's book. In her spare time, Stacy feeds her book addiction by staying up way too late reading. She loves music, traveling, playing games and spending time with family. You can follow her story-telling adventures on Facebook HERE. Don’t miss out on numerous giveaways during her kickstarter campaign- follow along on instagram.

Happy Educating,


Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

Never miss another post again! Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox! Sign up here!! 

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Monday, February 3, 2020

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Preschool Penguin Songs - Music & Active Movement Class

For our Preschool Music & Active Movement class this week, we focused on penguin songs!

Here is the outline I used to teach our 45-minute class for 3-4 year olds. In addition to our preschoolers, we usually have a couple younger and older brothers and sisters join in too.  ;) 

1- Gathering time: play with musical instruments bin. This week I also brought out a set of handbells for the kids to play with.

2- Welcome Song.

3- When I Sing LaLaLa by Janeen Brady. We do this and the welcome song with puppets:

4-  I introduced the theme, we talked about other animals that live in cold places, and we started with the Penguin Dance song. I like to start with a song that gets the kids moving a lot because it helps everyone relax and focus at the same time. For the Penguin Dance song, we listened to the words and acted out any actions we could hear:

5- We talked about how penguin moms lay eggs and penguin dads carry their eggs around on their feet, under their feathers, until they hatch. I passed out the shaker eggs and we all tried to carry eggs on our feet like a penguin dad. We also "played" the eggs our favorite ways and practiced "musical eggs" and "quiet eggs." Then we shook our eggs to this shaker egg song:

6- I collected the shaker eggs and passed out rhythm sticks. We practiced "musical sticks" and "quiet sticks," and everyone copied my clapping of the sticks in a constant rhythm. Then we stood at one end of the room and waddled like penguins to the beat of the sticks across the room. Finally, I played this song and we did a combination of finger play and clapping our sticks to the beat while it played:

7- Parachute Penguins: I pulled the parachute out and the kids took turns (3 at a time) sitting in the middle of it (as if it were the ocean) while everyone else made waves around them.

8- Parachute Penguin Balloons: Penguins love toys, so I tossed 3 balloons on the parachute, and we shook them all off a few times. I would have used balls, but we still have balloons left over from my daughter's birthday!

9- Parachute Den: like the classic "mushroom," we made a parachute "den" for all our little penguins to play in under the ice!

10- I gave each child a penguin number (between 1-10), then they all went under the parachute. When this song sang their number, they came out and helped shake more waves.

11- Seals and Sharks! Our favorite parachute game is when everyone sits around the parachute and tucks their feet under the parachute. One preschooler (or more, depending on the size of the group) starts out by being a "shark" under the water (parachute) who crawls around and tickles the other children's toes, turning them into sharks too. Before we played, we talked about how penguins have to watch out for sharks and large seals, so the kids could choose if they wanted to be a shark or seal!

12- Walk Around by Nancy Kopman. We walk around holding onto the parachute and doing the suggested actions in this song:

13- Goodbye Song.

I wanted to save these two songs to do with my own kids later, since we didn't have time during class:

I’m a little penguin
Black and white.
I waddle to the left
And I waddle to the right.
I cannot fly but I can swim
So I waddle to the water and jump right in!
(I'm a Little Tea Pot -- Sung HERE)


Happy Educating,

Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

Never miss another post again!  Sign up for our weekly updates newsletter and get links to all our posts once a week in your inbox!  Sign up here!!

Read More