Here’s another fun resource that being on the TOS Homeschool Crew brought to my attention.
Help Me 2 Teach is a reference site of links on a number of subjects. The ever-growing list includes the standard academic areas (social studies, math, science, language arts), electives (foreign language, music, arts and crafts, cooking and sewing, etc.) and teacher helps (quiz generators, flashcards, special needs helps, and more). In the past month, new topics have been added, such as lapbooking links.
I have to confess, I haven’t made as much use of the site as I might have. Just a few of the many links have gone a long way in our family. One link took us to a website with oodles of educational games–math, critical thinking, geography, and probably more. Our children have learned the names and placement of all the states in the U.S., I mean really got it down, not just kinda-sorta knowing, through playing these geography games. They’ve been doing math drills for fun. (Imagine it.) They’ve been working at problem solving. Talk about constructive play time!
Some of the links are old friends, but many are new to me.
One criticism I’ve heard of the site is that if you’re savvy about using the Internet and search engines you don’t need to pay for this service. I played around with this idea a bit, to test it out, and my answer is yes… and no. I’ve put lots of search terms into search engines and come up with long lists of sites to check out, some of which were appropriate and some of which were probably something I wouldn’t want the children to click on. In some cases, I didn’t come up with the same links as I found on Help Me 2 Teach‘s list.
Frankly, it takes time to do web searches, and depending on your filtering software (or lack of it) it can be a nerve-wracking experience.
The Help Me 2 Teach website has the standard disclaimer, that websites can change over time. You knew that already, I hope. In homeschooling circles there’s the infamous case of a well-known homeschooling magazine whose site license expired and was bought up by an unsavory company, so that anyone following a link to that formerly helpful site… well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
The links at Help Me 2 Teach have been carefully selected, and I get the impression that I could sit my child down at the computer to do research through the links at Help Me 2 Teach without the same degree of worry that I have when they use a popular search engine. (Though I still monitor their computer use. It’s just common sense.)
Ease of use:
Entries are coded so you can see suggested grade level at a glance (primary, elementary, secondary, and teacher/parent).
There’s a search box at the top of the subject list so you can search the Help Me 2 Teach site for a specific topic. When you enter your search terms, “You take potluck,” as my mom used to say. You might have to be a little creative to narrow down your search. For example, typing in “forest fires” brought up all sorts of weblinks related to forests and forest creatures but not necessarily what we were looking for. Sometimes you won’t find what you’re looking for. I’ve had good results in finding links to most of our current studies (meteorology, for example). On the other hand, I haven’t had much success finding out about forest fires. No site can link to every possibility, and yet, the author of Help Me 2 Teach has done her best to cover the basics. (You might even be able to put together an entire curriculum using these links.)
The links that do come up in a search of the site have a nice cross-reference feature, a category link. We typed in “knights” and came up with a site on the Knights Templar, not what we were looking for. The Knights Templar link is categorized under “Social Studies” and a subset “Medieval Times and Middle Ages” — clicking on that “Medieval Times” category link brought up a whole list of promising links.
If you just want to take a look at Help Me 2 Teach, there’s a three-day membership for a nominal cost of $4.95. The pricing structure makes the site more affordable as you increase the term of membership: i.e. you pay nearly five dollars for three days, but for twice that amount you get a whole month, and for about $30 you have access to the site for a year. That works out to about $2.50 a month, which doesn’t seem like much, especially if you use the Internet a lot for your schooling.
That one educational software site we found through Help Me 2 Teach was worth the price of a three-month membership, in my eyes. We’ve gotten so much use out of it! I’ve barely begun to explore the other links, but I think I’ll be getting my money’s worth, especially with that buy-one-get-one free offer.
Didn’t I mention that yet? Special through the end of the year: Buy one year for $29.95 and get a second year free. That works out to $15 a year, a pretty good subscription price for this product.