Category Archives: Uncategorized

Educational Media We Love (and You Will Too)

As a homeschooling parent, you’re probably always on the lookout for new ways to get your kids’ brains working. After all, you understand how awesome the world truly is, and sharing it with your little ones is your number one job.

Obviously, books, games, and puzzles offer endless learning opportunities, but many kids are eager to add to this collection of resources. Why shouldn’t they? Modern technology is an amazing thing, and can actually be an excellent tool that opens the doors to all kinds of new discoveries. The trick is finding the right games, music, apps, podcasts, and videos to do this.

We know you’re a busy parent, and that makes seeking out media resources a bit difficult at times. Therefore, we’ve collected a list of educational media for elementary school aged kids that we adore. Check them all out and let us know your favorites!

“Teach Your Monster to Read” Website and App

This program is amazing. It’s taught countless kids to read, and continues to so each and every day. The colorful characters and interesting storyline make it a super fun game to play, and most little learners are so engrossed in helping their monster out they don’t even realize they’re learning.

“Teach Your Monster to Read” is available on their website and as an app.

DragonBox Apps

An awesome set of math apps for kids, the DragonBox collection requires a bit of an investment, but is well worth every penny. These apps teach young students to play with numbers effortlessly, making math into fun puzzles rather than the stressful subject so many believe it to be.

We especially love their “Algebra 5+” app, although “Numbers” and “Big Numbers” are also great. Additionally, the company has two games for older kids, “Algebra 12+” and “Elements”.

Brains On! Science Podcast

Does your kids ask a lot of questions? Of course they do! Isn’t that what kids are supposed to do? Luckily, there’s Brains On! This awesome podcast asks the obscure questions we parents hear each and every day so we can get some peace while our kids go on learning.

As second runner-up for best kid podcast, we have to mention Tumble which is also fabulous.

“Giants of Science” Album

Everyone loves jamming to some good music. Why not turn your dance party into something educational? The Pop Ups’ album, “Giants of Science”, is perfect for a kitchen dance party or a long car ride. The album covers a variety of scientific subjects, and while it doesn’t dive very deep into any particular subject, it does offer a good opportunity to expose your kids to new topics.

“Giants of Science” can be purchased from iTunes or Amazon or you can listen to it on Apple Music or Spotify.

The Who Was? Show

A silly way to learn about influential individuals, The Who Was? Show introduces kids to such people as Amelia Earhart and Albert Einstein. The characters answer questions about themselves, educate viewers on the important things they did, and often star in music videos or other silly clips. All in all, this is a super fun way to start learning about historical figures.

The Who Was? Show can be viewed on Netflix.

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Creating the Perfect Curriculum

Back-to-school month is here, and that means it’s high time you choose your curriculum. For those who use a pre-built curriculum, this might be a bit overwhelming. After all, there are tons of amazing choices out there, and choosing just one can seem impossible.

That said, those who build their own curriculum have an even tougher task ahead of them. There are countless workbooks, textbooks, novels, materials, and teaching styles out there, and attempting to pick the best combination of things for your kid can certainly send your head spinning. Still, it’s a task that must be done, and in the end, it’s one that’s well worthwhile.

So where should you begin? Here are some of our top tips for building a curriculum that works for you. Take what you like, leave what you don’t, and try to have fun with it.

Know Your Child’s Learning Style

First, and possibly most importantly, you will need to know and cater to your child’s learning style.

If you notice your kiddo learns best while watching videos, find ways to incorporate videos into your curriculum. Have a more tactile learner on your hands? Use that to your advantage. Some kids may be avid readers and prefer to learn through reading novels, others may enjoy learning songs to memorize important things.

All of these learning styles can and should be catered to.

Factor in Their Interests

Of course, learning style isn’t all that comes into play when developing a collection of curriculum that fits your child well. Their interests should also be considered. A child who love Minecraft will love using this book in their schooling. Meanwhile, young actors may prefer to act out their history lessons, and little chefs may enjoy learning math through their cooking.

There are countless way to incorporate your child’s interests into their schooling. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking.

Use What You Have

Saving money is always a major bonus. Luckily, as a homeschool parent you have the freedom to recycle some of your school materials from last year. If you have books to pass from one kid to another, do it. Have markers from last year? Don’t buy new ones, just reuse what you have.

Take a look at your bookshelves and see what you can incorporate into your schooling. You may find some awesome inspiration while also saving a few bucks.

Keep It Simple

Complex curriculums may look good on paper, but generally speaking, they just don’t work. As a parent, you have enough on your plate without trying to juggle an enormous number of books and manipulatives. Keeping it simple will ensure your students stay on track even when life gets a bit too crazy for your tastes.

Relax

Are you freaking out about what to choose? If so, just relax. Choosing something now doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever. If you start one math book and your kid hates it, you can always switch mid-year. The same goes for any other resource you select, so instead of fretting about getting everything exactly right, try to enjoy the experience and learn from your mistakes. That’s what life is about, after all!

Add in Extracurriculars

You may be a super parent, but you can’t do it all. Instead of attempting to teach your little scholars everything, consider signing them up for some daytime extracurricular activities. This is beneficial because it gives your kids a chance to learn something new from an expert in that particular field. It also gets everyone out of the house, ensures your children get to socialize with peers, and gives you a much deserved break.

Not sure where to find homeschool classes? Check out our schedule! We offer several daytime classes. Whether you’re looking for art, writing, music, or drama, you’re sure to find something your kids will love here at The Loop.

 

Amazing Reasons to Head to Norman Art Walk

If you have yet to check out the Norman Art Walk, you really need to make a point of doing so. This amazing community event is the perfect way to see what the awesome artists in the area have been up to, get some new inspiration, and just have a good time.

This is a great event for families, and one you definitely won’t want to miss. Luckily, it happens on the second Friday of every month, meaning you’ll have the opportunity to experience it time and time again.

Fun for Families

The Loop is getting in on the Art Walk fun, which means there are now plenty of chances for family- and kid-specific fun. Drop by our location for a family drum circle or a quick guitar lesson. A family empathy tent will be welcoming all ages, and the kids craft is always fun for little ones. Parents can even choose to drop the kids off, so everyone can have a great time at this fabulous event!

Affordable Entertainment

One of the best things about Art Walk is that it is very affordable!

While this event is certainly something that most people would pay a lot of money for, the amazing folks who put it together have ensured the whole community can afford to join in the fun. This means you can check out awesome art pieces and take part in a variety of other activities without going broke.

That said, we do recommend supporting local artists and vendors whenever you can, and any money spent at this event will do just that.

Delicious Food

In addition to some fabulous artwork, Art Walk also features a variety of awesome local food trucks. From Greek food to snowcones, you can find something for everyone at this awesome event, meaning packing a dinner or eating before you leave is completely unnecessary.

Exciting Concerts

Every single Art Walk event features a free concert. From folk music to hip-hop, local musicians certainly do have a lot to offer, and the people of Norman just eat it up. Go ahead and join them at the next event; you might find a new favorite band, and you’ll definitely have a great time.

Local Shopping

During the Art Walk, local vendors are plentiful. This is wonderful of course, because it means you can enjoy some laid-back shopping while you enjoy all the creative pieces on display. This is an excellent place to pick up a gift for a loved one or a little something to treat yourself.

Participation Opportunities

Are you a creative person as well? Why not share your art with the community by setting up at Art Walk? The event organizers are always in the lookout for new participants, and they are open to all kinds of creative works. Go ahead and contact them to see if you can join in the fun next month!

Now that The Loop is a part of Art Walk, you simply must visit! Stop by on August 10 for the first in a series of awesome Art Walk additions by The Loop.

Fun and Educational Ways to Beat the Heat

There’s no denying the fact that summer is now in full swing in Oklahoma. The weather is hot, hot, hot, and even the thought of heading outside is pretty miserable. Still, we all need to get out once in a while. This is especially true for kids who need to run off energy.

This leaves us mamas in quite a pickle. Do we a) send the kids out to potentially fry to a crisp, or b) endure another day of couch jumping and wall climbing?

Luckily there are other options. Try these awesome and educational ways to beat the heat this summer.

Pool Scrabble

If you have a full-sized pool to work with, Pool Scrabble is a great way to help toddlers learn letters or older kids practice their spelling. Simply purchase several packs of sponges, write letters on each, toss them in the pool, and ask the kids to bring you a certain letter or spell out a certain word with the sponges.

Not only is this great letter practice, it’s also a great way to increase your child’s confidence in the pool.

Floating Fun

Even if you don’t have a full-sized pool, you can still have tons of fun by setting up a wading pool. Wading pools can be used for all sorts of educational activities, including experiments with floating.

Give your kids a variety of items and ask them to hypothesize whether each one will sink or float. Test their hypotheses and discuss the reasons for the results.

Another great floating experiment involves boat building. Hand your children a variety of craft materials and instruct them to create a boat with a sail. See which boat works best by placing them in the water and using a straw to blow into the sail.

Ice Cube Painting

Looking for a way to practice writing or spelling? Ice cube painting is a super cool way to get your kids to write without a single complaint.

To make your ice cube paint, simply fill an ice tray with paint and place the tray in the freezer. Once the paint has started to freeze—but before it’s fully solid—put half of a popsicle stick in each. When the paint cubes are fully frozen pull them out, grab some paper, take it all outside, and allow the kids to paint to their heart’s content.

Older kids can practice writing or spelling. Meanwhile, younger kids might like to experience with color mixing.

Treasure Hunt

This is another one that’s best done in a larger pool. However, it can be done in a small wading pool if you blindfold the participants and/or have them hunt for the treasure using a small shovel.

To play, gather all of the loose change in your home. Toss the change into the pool and have the kids gather as much as they can in their hands. Allow each player to keep what they find as long as they can count the change correctly.

Whirlpool and Wave Pool

Whirlpools and wave pools are extremely fun to make, and the science behind them is super fascinating.

Using your wading pool or a larger private pool, have your kids create a whirlpool by moving in a circle in the same direction until the water develops a current. Once the whirlpool fun is over, do some jumping or big splashing to create a wave pool.

Finish the fun by watching this video on the science behind wave pools and reading about natural whirlpools. You can also watch this super cool vortex experiment video and maybe even try it for yourself.

These are all awesome ways to get outside while staying cool this summer. However, some days call for a trip out of the house that still involves air conditioning. That’s why every family should consider joining us at The Loop this summer for classes, events, and activities that the whole family will love.

 

Educational and Affordable Oklahoma Getaways

Everyone deserves to get away now and then. Not only are vacations fun and relaxing, traveling is also a wonderful way to help your children gain new skills while also offering them fantastic, immersive educational opportunities. Therefore, you simply must plan a summer vacation this year.

Many of you may be thinking that vacation is out of the question. After all, tight budgets can definitely make travel seem impossible, and few vacation days make things even more difficult. However, by staying close to home and using a little bit of creativity, you may be able to do more exploring than you think.

There are plenty of great, inexpensive things to see right here in the state of Oklahoma. Below are my top 3 Oklahoma cities for a quick vacation.

#1: Lawton, Oklahoma

Lawton is a great place to spend a few days. Hotel rooms are super affordable, but we much prefer tent camping at Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area at Fort Sill. The campground is home to an awesome lake and beach, and includes two super fun water slides.

No matter where you stay, you will definitely want to visit the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, where you will almost certainly get to observe buffalo as they meander across the fields. This refuge also includes an interesting museum on the buffalo as well as plenty of grounds to explore.  Be sure to drive to the top of Mt. Scott for some awesome views!

Of course, no trip to the Lawton area is complete without a stop in Medicine Park. This adorable town has a rich history as a “cobblestone resort community”, and offers tons of great boutique shopping as well as some terrific eats.

#2: Weatherford, Oklahoma

Weatherford is another great place to see! Its most interesting attraction is the Stanford Air and Space Museum, which is incredibly engaging and educational. This museum is perfect for the space lovers in your life, but is still fun for the rest of the family for sure.

You’ll also find the Oklahoma Heartland Museum in this cute little town. This attraction has an enormous collection of artifacts, and the volunteers running the museum are a wealth of knowledge. Be sure to brush up on Oklahoma history before you visit in order to give the kids something to relate to while going through the museum.

Finally, you might want to make a stop at Wind Energy Park to see the giant base of a wind turbine up close and learn some cool facts about wind energy. While I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see this, it is worthwhile if you happen to be in the area already.

#3: Ponca City, Oklahoma

Last on the list is Ponca City. There are actually a surprising number of things to see and do in this city.

One of my favorites is the Pioneer Woman Museum, which focuses on the life of American women during the mid- to late-1800s. Not many museums make a point of focusing on women, so this one is pretty neat.

A second great option is Standing Bear Museum and Education Center, which focuses on educating the public about Native American culture. It is definitely a very nice attraction for expanding upon this topic.

Other options include the Conoco Museum and the Marland Estate, both of which come highly recommended.

As you can see, there are tons of great vacation destinations right here in Oklahoma. This means that you can take an inexpensive and short vacation this summer after all. Go ahead and start planning so you can get out there and start your roadschooling adventures!

Want something to do even closer to home? Join one of the awesome classes here at The Loop! Check our calendar for details.

Summer Nature Crafts for Creative Explorers

Summer is a great time to be a kid. The sun shines nearly every day, and the green grass and leaves are great for enhancing outdoor fun.

Generally speaking, kids will automatically reach for these natural materials when creating outdoors and nudging is not at all necessary. That said, it’s fun to get creative with your kids from time to time, and providing suggestions on how to use the natural materials they did is the perfect way to go about this.

Wondering what kinds of suggestions to make to your kiddos? Try these fun nature craft ideas!

Fairy Houses

Fairies are some of the very best mythical creatures out there. After all, what could be more magical than tiny flying people who live in the woods?

Of course, these tiny people do need places to live. Why not help them out by using the things you find in nature to build houses for them?

Rocks, sticks, and leaves can all be used to build walls, roofs, and furniture. Add finishing touches using acorn caps, flowers, and small things found around your own house, and you’ll have a home fit for a fairy king (or queen).

Rock Painting

Kids love rocks. Most kids collect rocks at some point in their lives, and many are reluctant to let go of their collections. Instead of displaying a collection of ordinary stones, why not make them into something colorful and pretty?

Take your paints, brushes, and creativity outside for the afternoon and help your child paint their rock collection. They’ll remember this day for years to come, and they’ll be left with an incredible souvenir to boot.

Nature Crown

Begin this activity by taking a nature walk. Have your child collect items they find pretty or interesting and return home with your haul in tow.

Once home, cut a strip of paper to fit around your child’s head and hand it to them. Instruct your young artist to arrange the findings from your walk on the strip of paper. When the items are arranged to your child’s liking, help them glue the decorations down. Staple the paper to create a crown shape, and place it on the head of your tiny nature explorer.

Shell Necklaces

If you visit the beach this summer, you will more than likely return home with a shell collection. Don’t toss them out! Instead, make some fun, colorful jewelry that your kids will want to wear everywhere.

Begin by rolling a ball of clay. Flatten the clay slightly and press a shell into the oval it forms. Using a straw, make a hole at the top of the clay shape and allow the creation to dry. Once dry, put a piece of string through the hole in the clay and wear as a necklace or bracelet.

Want to get even more creative this summer? Why not join one of our many creative classes? Pretend Drama Club, Let’s Get Sculpting, and music lessons are all fabulous options!

Why Kids Need Chores

Homeschooling is an enormous task. Not only are you responsible for the upbringing of a decent human being, you must also provide them with a decent education. Fortunately, this can be done in a variety of ways and most families find something that works quite well for them.

That said, many families get so wrapped up in giving their little ones academic lessons, they forget to take advantage of the fact that their children are at home and can be involved in the day-to-day household work and errands. This is too bad, because hands-on helping experiences are an important part of growing up, and one we are losing all too quickly.

For this reason, it’s generally a good idea to make housework a part of your homeschool day. By doing this, you will ensure the children are helping around the house on a regular basis and that the process doesn’t get brushed aside and deemed “unimportant”. Besides, a little help around the house is always a good thing for the busy homeschool mom or dad, right?

But why is it so important to involve your children in the household chores? After all, they’re bound to learn how to do laundry and wash dishes when they move out, and it’s so time-consuming to teach little ones to do these things.

Well, let’s take a look at what your child receives in return for his or her efforts.

Self Confidence

When your child learns a new skill or is thanked for a job well done, their sense of self confidence and self worth will grow tremendously. Because self confidence is so important in so many ways, this is a major benefit to having the kids help out daily.

Sense of Purpose

A child who works to help keep his or her home in tip-top shape is very aware of the fact that they are part of a team. By giving the child a specific set of responsibilities, you also give them a sense of purpose and belonging.

Respect

Respect is important in all areas of our lives.

  1. We must respect our belongings and the belongings of others.
  2. Respect for our space is a must.
  3. And, of course, respect for those who earn it is a biggie.

Involving children in household tasks helps them develop a sense of respect for their living environment, giving them an understanding of the importance of caring for their home.

Responsibility and Good Work Ethic

While some people are naturally more responsible and driven than others, you can encourage these qualities by expecting your children to complete their chores well and on time. Setting these expectations early on, communicating them well, and sticking to them will help instill good work ethic in your little helpers from the get-go.

Life Skills

As we said before, your kids are going to learn how to care for a house at some point. However, teaching your kids to fold clothes and sweep floors now will mean they are old pros by the time they have to care for a house of their own. This will make the process of moving out much less stressful.

Of course, these are just a few of the reasons to involve your children in household tasks. Looking for suggestions on how to get your kids involved in the chores without a fight? Consider attending Miss Cielja’s Empathetic Communication classes here at The Loop to learn how to create healthy relationships with your children through understanding and clear communication.

 

Summer Reading Fun!

Whether you’ve made the decision to take a break for schooling for the summer or go ahead and continue lessons throughout the season, reading should be a big part of your summer. After all, everyone knows that reading is a great way to gather new knowledge, explore the world, and even improve writing skills.

That said, reading should never ever be a chore, especially during the summer when kids should be having fun. Fortunately there are tons of ways to make reading fun. One of the best ways is through reading rewards programs, many of which just so happen to take place in the summer.

Wondering where you can sign your kiddos up to win cool prizes in exchange for fun summer reading? Try these options.

Metropolitan Library System Summer Reading Program

Perhaps the most well known option in the OKC metro area, the MLS Reading Program is a great place to start. Badges are earned each time a child reaches a milestone. These milestones include 5, 10, 20, and 30 hours of reading. In order to win prizes, participants must read a total of at least 10 hours at which point they earn a free book. Children who read 20 hours receive two books, and those who read 30 hours will have a book donated to a needy child in their honor.

Pioneer Library System Summer Reading Program

This program is very similar to the MLS program, and is likely more convenient for Norman resident. The prizes and goals do tend to vary from year to year, so we will have to wait and see what the details happen to be for 2018.

OKC Dodgers Summer Reading Program

The OKC Dodgers have teamed up with Sonic to offer an awesome summer reading program that baseball fans will adore. Every participant will win two tickets to a Dodgers game for each month long segment they complete. They will also be entered to win the VIP treatment at a Dodgers game.

The goal of this particular program is to read 20 minutes a day for 5 days each week, so it’s pretty easy to keep up with.

Half Price Books Summer Reading Program

Think your kiddo can read for 15 minutes a day all summer long? If so, you should definitely participate in the Half Price Books Summer Reading Program. By reading a total 300 minutes in June and July, you child can earn a $5 HPB gift card to spend however they wish.

Chuck E Cheese Reading Rewards

Okay, so this program isn’t really a summer-only program, but it is tons of fun. We especially like this one because it allows you to set your own goals, meaning it can be tweaked for each child. Simply print this chart, check a box each day that your child meets his or her reading goal, and take the completed log to Chuck E. Cheese for ten free tokens.

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading for Kids

If you’re not a fan of logging reading minutes, you might prefer the Barnes and Noble reading program. This one requires participants to read a total of 8 books. Once those books are read, the child will be presented with a free brand new book to take home and read. Super simple and super fun!

We love reading, and we know your family probably loves it as well. Why not make it even more fun by lining one of these awesome programs?

Strum Into a Passion for Music with Cory

Who are you? Tell me a bit about yourself.

“I’m a guitarist in Oklahoma City. I teach guitar lessons in the OKC area and own and operate GuitarLessonsOKC. My credentials include a Bachelor’s degree in Guitar Performance from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma as well as an M.A. in Leadership emphasizing business management. In addition to my education, I have also played around the country with various artist that include Grammy award winners a country music hall of famers.”

View More: http://twosticksphotography.pass.us/corymoon2015

What classes do you offer at The Loop?

“Private guitar, private piano, private ukulele, and occasionally group guitar and/or piano.”

When did you find your passion for music and playing the guitar?

“I have always wanted to play the guitar since I was small, I bought my first guitar at sixteen and have been playing since then.”

View More: http://twosticksphotography.pass.us/corymoon2015

What was it that triggered that passion?

“I got ahold of my dad’s tape collection in the late 80’s when I was very young. I listened to all sorts of stuff from The Cars to Chuck Berry to Iron Maiden. I fell in love with rock music at a very young age.”

What is you favorite thing about playing guitar?

“The flow. When you experience the flow of an activity of your passion, there really isn’t anything that compares.”

View More: http://twosticksphotography.pass.us/corymoon2015

What do you hope the community gains from your classes?

“Lots of kids who are passionate about the guitar and music.”

What would you tell someone who was considering joining your classes?

“Do it! Music is a gift that keeps on giving.”

Would you or your child be interested in learning to play the guitar? If so, contact Cory for more information today!

Explore and Express Through Art with Sandra Pruitt

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Who are you? Tell me a bit about yourself.

“I am just someone that loves making pictures. I got into art a lot later in life than I wanted. I played around a bit as a child, but thought that things need to be perfect. Now, I know better!”

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What classes do you offer at The Loop?

“Art classes! Explore the World Through Art, Great Works of Art, ceramics, and who knows what else in the future.”

When did you find your passion for art?

“I’ve loved art from afar for my entire life. I was in my 20s before I really began studying and experimenting with art. I was a perfectionist as a kid, so I never really thought I could do anything art-wise. I thought it had to be perfect to be good. Now, I let myself be me.”

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What was it that triggered that passion?

“Art is fun! There are so many different mediums, types, and ways to express yourself that, honestly, there is something for everyone. What you make doesn’t need to be “perfect” or a great work of art. It just needs to be something that you enjoyed making.”

What is you favorite thing about art?

“Did I mention it is ridiculously fun? I absolutely love trying new mediums and styles. I find new favorites all the time.”

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What do you hope the community gains from your classes?

“Confidence. I had a student once that came to get his artwork from me. He asked me ‘What did you want with this piece of junk?’ I told him that I thought it was wonderful and had used his art in an art show. He paused, stood up a bit straighter, and smiled. He continues to paint to this day. He told me he never would have painted again if it had not been for that day.

Understanding. My hope is that by focusing on art and cultures from around the world, it helps to educate and create more understanding about how other live.

Curiosity. Hopefully, working with a variety of mediums and techniques will whet your appetite to try more and more art forms.”

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What would you tell someone who was considering joining your classes?

“It is not about making something that looks like mine or anyone else’s. It is about you trying something new, learning about a new place or culture, and above all having fun making your artwork.”

Find info on Sandra’s classes on our calendar page and join in the fun right away!