Flexagons and other cool geometric paper toys

In today’s hands-on tutorials, you’ll learn how to make a flexagon, a most fascinating geometric toy! It looks like an ordinary paper hexagon with a front and a back, but hidden inside is a third side (or face) that can be brought to the outside by flexing the paper.

Flexagons are folded paper polygons that have the neat feature of changing faces as they are flexed. There are many types of flexagons. The names of flexagons tell the type of polygon and the number of faces.

Click here to go to the Flexagon introductory page with instructions on how to make a basic Flexagon.

Then to make a Hexa-hexaflexagon, go here.

Then to make a Tri-tretraflexagon, go here.

And THEN, to make a way cool FLEXTANGLE, go here!


John James Audubon: The Bird Artist

John James Audubon: The Bird Artist  (PDF ebook)

This little storybook has some truly gorgeous full color illustrations along with a touching biography of this gentle and gifted artist and naturalist. Many young students will really relate to him and his love of nature. This is perfect for reading aloud!

To download this resource, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save” to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key, then click the link and save to your mac.


American Sign Language University

Free American Sign Language course at American Sign Language University
American Sign Language University is a sign language resource site for ASL students and teachers. Here you will find information and resources to help you learn ASL and improve your signing.
There are hundreds of signing videos and resources on this site, including 30 free video lessons that are meant to cover 2 semesters for 1 full credit. Each lesson has Objectives listed at the top with links to other learning resources.  Each lesson has videoed vocabulary, sentences, and sometimes a videoed “story.” Highly Recommended!

Click here to go to the Sign Language Course site!

String Figures – the original “digital” learning toy

String Figures for All Ages! 

Can your kids have fun, improve their dexterity and learn about design and geometry from just a simple loop of string?

Check out this great collection of tutorials and cool designs for making all sorts of great string figures that have been collected from cultures around the world.  From simple “cat’s cradles” to “Jacob’s Ladders” and beyond, there are many fascinating designs and projects here that will keep some kids busy for hours.

This is old fashioned “digital” fun that incorporates all sorts of thinking skills that generations of kids used to enjoy. Why not give it a try?

Click here to go to today’s resource site.


What Do You See?

Screen shot 2015-04-09 at 6.02.15 PMHere’s a great freebie available this week from our friend Laurie Bluedorn – the first volume of her “What Do You See? A Child’s First Introduction to Art”. This is available in kindle format, which can be read on the Amazon kindle or on any computer or device using Amazon’s kindle reader app.

Here’s what Laurie says about this new series:

This curriculum is a gentle and easy introduction to art appreciation for children, ages 4-12. Our goal is to introduce children to basic concepts in learning how to look at a piece of art and evaluate it. In addition, we want to spark in the child a love for the great works of art.

Here are five benefits for your students when they love and appreciate art:
1. It will stimulate them to ask intelligent questions.
2. It will cause them to try to understand why the artist painted what he did.
3. It will push them to pay attention to details the artist placed inside his painting.
4. It will make them curious and perhaps try to paint something themselves.
5. It will stimulate them to research the life of the artist.

The students and teacher should spend a bit of time observing the painting, and then answer the questions. Since one of our goals is to learn to love art, we recommend that you ask the child to answer the questions orally, not with pencil and paper. We want to make the learning experience enjoyable for you and the children.

This first volume will introduce only one art principle — Center of Interest. A center of interest is the all-important part of a painting — that part of the picture where the artist wants you to look first and which attracts the mind. The center of interest often has the sharpest edges, the brightest colors, and the most detail. In addition, it often contains a color that doesn’t exist anywhere else on the painting. Keep in mind, though, not all paintings contain a center of interest, plus, unless the artist has told us what he intended his center of interest to be, there could be differences of opinion as to a painting’s center of interest.

This is a freebie now through this Saturday night.

Click here to go to the download page

Poems you must read before you die

Today’s resource is this wonderful collection of “poems you must read before you die”, aka. a personal” bucket list” of poems to memorize and remember.  There are dozens of short, beloved classic poems here that should be required reading (and perhaps memorization) for children. Highly recommended!

Here’s what Alysion (the author of this site) says about the classic poems she has collected here, and why they are important for your child’s education:

“The most important tribute any human being can pay to a poem or a piece of prose he or she really loves is to learn it by heart. Not by brain, by heart; the expression is vital.” —George Steiner

Some argue that to properly appreciate a poem you should memorize it, and that if you haven’t, well, you have not paid proper homage to the poet. Most popular poems roll off the tongue like song lyrics and, perhaps for that reason, best loved poems are easy to memorize. Favorite poems bear repetition. Memorize them and you can recite them at odd moments to amuse yourself. There may even be occasions when, instead of merely quoting a famous line from a poem, you’ll want to offer the complete stanza or the whole poem for consideration.

Poets often labor mightily over a poem. If you like what they’ve done, commit it to memory. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 he imagined book lovers committing entire books to memory. Doing the same for a few poems is effort well spent with interest to be accrued over a lifetime.

Click here to go to the site!

Front Porch Attitude

FRONT PORCH ATTITUDE – Lessons Learned from a Lifetime by Chris Sutton(PDF)

Here’s some great reading just for YOU over this weekend. We enjoyed this so little ebook of stories so much, we purchased the rights to it… just so we could include it here. You’ll love these warm and wise stories of life in the slow lane, which will remind you of the fleeting treasures we often take for granted. Just read and enjoy!

To download this PDF ebook, RIGHT CLICK HERE then “save link” to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key then click the link and save to your mac.

Boy and Girl Heroes

Boy and Girl Heroes (PDF ebook) 

A classic story compilation of short legends and true historical stories by Florence V. Farmer, in which the heroes and heroines of the story are boys and/or girls. Wonderful tales of brave young people from many periods of history that your kids will really enjoy!

To download this PDF ebook, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save link” to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key then click the link and save to your mac

Natural Oddities, Volume TWO

Natural Oddities: Volume TWO (PDF ebook)

Here’s a second great collection of these classic cartoons by Gus Mager depicting odd and unusual aspects of the flora and the fauna in the world around us — “Natural Oddities”. Strange but true facts about nature that fascinate young and old readers alike! Kids love this series… don’t miss it!

To download this PDF ebook, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save link” to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key then click the link and save to your mac.

Our Children In Heaven

Our Children In Heaven by James Maple, revised by Jim Erskine (PDF ebook)

Originally published in 1890, this completely forgotten little book by Dr. James Maple has truly been lost for decades. (There is a different book with the same title available other places online, but in our opinion this volume is far superior.) Its pages contain a well-spring of comfort for all who have lost loved ones, little or old, to death. When we discovered it on the dusty shelf of an antique shop (the owner did not even know he had it), we knew that we had to make it available to hurting families again. It is our hope that you will find these messages a sweet balm for aching hearts.

From the Preface:

CHILDREN are as a ray of sunshine in our homes, bringing joy and gladness. They come as angels of innocence and beauty, awakening new thoughts, kindling holier feelings, leading us to a higher and better life. A home without children, to me, is like heaven without angels; but our dear ones are not safe from the hand of disease and death. Truly the poet sings:

…there is no flock, however watched and tended
But one dead lamb is there.
There is no fireside, howsoever defended,
But has one vacant chair!

What a difference the death of a child makes in our hearts and homes. How it changes the tone of our thoughts and takes the warmth and beauty out of life.

How the little children love us, and no traces
Linger of that smiling angel band.
Gone, forever gone, and in their places
Weary men and anxious women stand.

The sermons embraced in this little book were written and preached at different and distant periods in a ministry of forty-five years, to comfort sorrowing parents who were mourning the loss of their dear little ones by the hand of death. They are now given to the public with the hope that they may be a comfort to many bleeding hearts.

NOTE: This book has been substantially edited and revised by Jim Erskine, and is copyrighted. Please do not redistribute or pass along to others, but instead please send folks here to obtain a copy.

To download this PDF ebook, RIGHT CLICK HERE then “save link” to your computer. Mac users, press the “control” key then click on the link and save to your mac.