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Regardless of your style of teaching, you often need just the right worksheet or activity. Often, your brain just can be taxed anymore. That is when you need a really good place to go for fresh ideas, or ready-made worksheet to save you some time. The site, http://www.abcteach.com, may be just what you need.

 

For $40.00 a year or $70.00 for two years, you can have access to over 35,000 printable worksheets on various subjects and grade levels. You have access to clip art for any type of classroom project or decoration. You also can find activities and templates for projects like book report forms, research note card forms, etc. You won’t find any annoying advertising either. There is also customer service available to answer your questions and give tips. Whether you need a learning center, or research project, or just a practice worksheet, you can find it on this site, and it is growing every day with more and more resources being added.

 

As part of the TOS Crew, I received free access to the site for about a month. For myself, I was unable to access most of the site, since I am almost totally DeafBlind. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to browsing the site. I had to get sighted help to get any help at all from the site. Accessibility is great for sighted users, but those who need screen readers will be unable to make sense of the page for the most part. I know the main page has 104 links that are recognizable to the screen reader, but I can’t seem to get to them or know what they are. It reads “Your online resource for children’s Education and thousands of free printable worksheets and activities plus over 35,000 pages of worksheets… Then it skips to a series of links in the highlighted Directories under “Sandy’s Picks.” Many of the links are icon links made of graphics, and there is a table with a graphic that contains the links. A screen reader just can’t access that at all. I hope the owners will work on the accessibility of their site. I have many parents of hearing/sighted children who are blind and deafblind themselves. They like to work with their children just like other parents do. These parents need resources, too. If you can access the resources with sighted help, you will find the .pdf format files are open to the accessibility options allowed by Adobe. Of course, that is only suitable for hearing blind because Adobe forces you to use their text to speech program. This program doesn’t allow access to a screen reader that allows braille access. Therefore, I can’t recommend this site for my blind and deafblind parents. Sighted parents will find it quite user-friendly, though.

 

If you need worksheets or activity ideas, this site will certainly give you a lot of help. Check out the ABCTeach site at http://www.abcteach.com for more information.

That is exactly the kind of questions I was asking myself when I first received the opportunity to review the site, PuppetTools. I have never been artistic in any way. My hands just can’t seem to make pretty things whether in paints, papier mache’, clay, even paper bags, socks, and construction paper with glue. In addition to that, why would I want to do it in a classroom? Ok, once in a while I could see letting young students do it for fun for seasonal art activities or even enrich a concept such as a lesson in history. I might be able to see even older students doing it to enrich speaking and drama skills as they provide learning and fun for younger students. This web site seemed to be suggesting more and even paying a subscription fee to learn how to make puppets. Doesn’t seem like the great start of a review the company was looking for does it? Boy was I wrong!
This site isn’t really about puppets. Well, it is, but it is more than just puppets. The site is presenting an idea, a philosophy. It could be a revolutionary idea, too, if enough people can “get it”. Many of us homeschoolers are already “getting it”, or we are least close. We saw that something was missing from regular education. Students are not learning like they should to put it simply. Why? We could debate forever on that subject and not get anywhere. Everyone has an opinion, but few seem to have a workable solution. Puppets might not be the total answer, but I think they might be on to something. Many parents are already beginning to put this answer into their homeschools because they want one thing. They want their children to love learning. That is the first step to making good life-long learners. Fun! Put fun back into the curriculum, and you will keep those children learning right past the stages they do in regular education. We all have watched our preschoolers go from begging to learn to do all kinds of “grown up” things to children who are bored stiff, and we have to push, bribe, and punish to get them to learn. What happened? Somehow, adults missed the boat when they began formal education. They forgot that learning can be fun, and anything learned while having fun is remembered long after the lesson stops. This site does an excellent job of presenting this “new” concept.
On the PuppetTools site, you will find many articles and video clips presenting this “new” concept of “Fun.” It will be hard to not become a recruit after reviewing these articles. Then the author presents how puppets can be your first step in bringing fun back into your curriculum. He has detailed descriptions, written and film clips, on how to make simple, but delightful puppets. He gives you patterns to make hundreds of puppets, and gives you the tips and confidence needed to design your own for your own needs. He gives you detailed information on how to implement these into your curriculum for any age group, including teenagers, and for any subject. There are also sections separated by educator, teacher, and parent. Each section has many different areas with film clips and documents giving you information, tips, sample puppets, basic puppet making skills, etc. The organization of the sites is well-designed to allow you to easily find all of the material provided. The pictures and film clips of the puppets in use and puppet making are extremely useful and are of good quality and resolution. The articles are all in .pdf format, so you will need to have the Adobe Reader on your computer which is a free download. This makes it very easy to access the information without worrying about Word versions and other technical concerns. This site is overflowing with detailed information to make your puppet making and fun making a breeze.
The site is subscription-based as mentioned before, but the price is very low. There is a $20.00 trial membership for 60 days to try it out first. Then the other membership is for groups such as scouts, public schools, private schools, homeschool associations, day care centers, etc. The groups pay one fee of $99.00 per year for all of their members to use. This really decreases the price per family when share in this manner. New tools and puppet samples and puppet making tips are added all the time, so purchasing year after year is still warranted and beneficial for all users beginning and expert. I am considering do the group for my school group of homeschoolers helping them to bring these ideas to their families. Why don’t you join me in helping the author spread the word about making learning fun? Check out www.puppetools.com. You only have one thing to lose- boredom!

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