Monday, May 16, 2011

Chess Anyone?

My kids (ages 6 and 10) both learned to play chess quickly and easily with two great products. One is called No Stress Chess, a two-sided chess game with a deck of action cards. The first side shows them where to place the pieces to start the game. The action cards depict each chess piece and how it moves.  The child moves only this piece on his turn. This eliminates the need to memorize all the pieces and their moves in advance, which is what overwhelms most beginners. After a few turns, the child begins to instinctively know how to move and capture with the various pieces. Once the children become comfortable with the moves and powers of each chess piece, they can flip the board over and put aside the deck of action cards and play chess unaided---the second side is a standard chess board!  The second product my kids really enjoy is a computer software game called Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster. Kids play 7 arcade-style games to learn chess basics, then put what they've learned to the test in the Intelligym, a training ground for future chess pros. Finally they can play in a tournament and try to defeat King Black. This is one of their first choices of games to play when they are allowed free-choice for computer time. They have learned some great strategies with this that I've never seen. It's awesome!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Join a Homeschool Support Group

If you are homeschooling and have not joined a homeschool support group, I urge you to find one. Even if you are confident in your own abilites, there are so many benefits from belonging to a group of like-minded parents and kids: organized field trips, holiday parties, curriculum fairs, fun and educational classes, used book sales and swaps, educational seminars, clubs such as Lego Club, Chess Club, Sewing Club, etc., group discount tickets to amusement parks, zoos, museums, etc., group discounts on skating lessons, twirling lessons, hockey lessons, etc., monthly gatherings for moms to swap ideas, service projects for the kids to do, and the list goes on...  Here are some pics from some of our homeschool group's outings and classes.
                                         Observing a bat during a field trip to some local caves.
                                                             Group shot in the caves.
                                                  Construction class using various materials.
                                                            More construction class.
                                                      Cooking class at local church kitchen.
                                                            Making ice cream in a bag.
                                       Making ice cream in a bag (notice the gloves---it's cold!)
                                                             Construction creation.