Midweek Break: Homestar Runner is BACK!

I am SO happy to see that HomestarRunner.com, is back, back, back, back again, and is live and running on Youtube!

Woohoo!!!

HomestarRunner.com used to be one of my favourite online haunts before Youtube. It’s biggest feature was the utterly hilarious flash animation cartoon series, Strong Bad Emails, where the cartoon character Strong Bad (because he is Strong and Bad, duh) would answer emails from viewers.

Strong Bad typing at his Tandy computer (Picture Credit: HomestarRunner.Com)

Strong Bad typing at his Tandy computer (Picture Credit: HomestarRunner.Com)

The site itself started off in 2000, but I only became a fan in 2004, just after graduating from medical school. Every Wednesday without fail, I would run home from work and log onto my computer for a new Sbemail. Whilst watching it, I would laugh myself silly and this injection of energy would carry me through to the end of the week.

Okay, I know that A Becky Lee discovered Strong Bad emails way before I did, but the person who actually introduced me to the site was the Aged P. She’d come up to the UK to visit me and we were chatting in my living room one evening.

I believe the conversation we had went something like this:

Debs G: What’s Meimei doing nowadays?
Aged P: Ah the usual. Everyday she goes on the computer and watches the internet.
Debs G: What website is she looking at?
Aged P: That thing, you know, the cartoon with the guy called Something Bad who wears a mask and talks in a scratchy voice like “Rarr rarr rarr rarr”.
Debs G: You mean Batman?
Aged P: No, not Batman. That guy. With the mask. He wears gloves and types on a computer and his name is like “Something Bad” and he has a pet, a yellow one which goes “weekweekweek”. It’s quite funny.
Debs G: I don’t know this one! Let’s find it. (Brings up Netscape – yes, this was a LONG time ago – and types “Cartoon website with bad guy in mask gloves computer”)

Up pops HomestarRunner.com and the Aged P points to the name “Strong Bad” in triumph. We click on it, and here’s the first Strong Bad email I ever watched.

The Aged P and I laughed ourselves silly and proceeded to watch video after video. Oh yes, I was completely hooked.

Here’s another one of my favourites:

And of course, who could forget the infamous Trogdor the Burninator?

I was so sad when the site stopped its regular weekly updates around 2009. This was because Matt Chapman, one of the Brothers Chaps who created the site and all its content, became the writer and director of the currently popular children’s programme, Yo Gabba Gabba (which, by the way, bears a striking resemblance to this Sbemail). I haven’t introduced the kids to Yo Gabba Gabba yet, but I am thinking about doing that soon!

 

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31 of the best (FREE) online learning resources for preschoolers

Over here in Singapore, there is tremendous pressure on children to excel academically, and many of Little E and J’s preschool classmates are enrolled in various expensive enrichment classes.

Although I am trying my best to avoid hot-housing my children, both J and Little E have a innate love of learning and I like to find ways to nurture and encourage them in their educational journey. Now with the June school holidays on the horizon, I find myself actively looking for meaningful home activities to keep them gainfully occupied during the day!

Here is a list of 30 of my favourite (free!) online learning resources that I find myself returning to again and again!

Phonics and Early Reading

With most schools returning to phonics to help children to learn how to read, these are some brilliant websites which will help you to reinforce what your preschooler is learning!

  1. Reading Bear – there are some very lovely videos to help capture your kid’s interest
  2. Progressive Phonics – this has some great e-books and worksheets too
  3. Starfall Phonics – the animations may be rather crude, but the songs are pretty catchy!
  4. Phonics4free – this is a series of videos and guides for empowering parents to teach phonics
  5. ABC Fast Phonics – A very simple no-frills guide to the basics which is good for parents who want to help their kids at home

Mandarin

Bilingualism is very important in Singapore with Mandarin chinese offered as a second language in most preschools. We speak very little Mandarin at home, so I have to find creative ways to expose my children to the nuances in both the spoken and written word. These websites have really helped me to keep my kids interested and engaged!

  1. Chineasy – This is a beautiful website which focusses on the pictorial nature of the chinese written script and helps kids (and adults) to remember chinese characters using gorgeous illustrations and beautifully animated teaching videos.
  2. CCTV Learn Chinese – This is an extensive library of videos aimed at teaching conversational chinese and touches on aspects of chinese culture and daily living as well.
  3. Fun Fun Elmo – Sesame Street has most recently developed a preschool mandarin programme featuring the ever-popular Elmo in a series of 10 minute vignettes! This first season is available on Youtube – and hopefully Sesame Street will release their subsequent episodes online too.
  4. Semanda  – These are some free printable flashcards which cover some basic concepts (such as colours, fruits, animals, vehicles etc) as well as some multiple choice style quizzes
  5. Hanlexon Chinese – This is a useful website for printing out writing practice worksheets. You can alter the worksheet to show the stroke order or allow tracing of the characters

Math

  1. Khan Academy – This site is brilliant for kids who already know how to count. J loves this because he can unlock achievement badges and trophies when he has achieved mastery of a new concept!
  2. Math Worksheet Wizard – Here is a simple worksheet generator to help reinforce simple counting, addition as well as subtraction.
  3. ScootPad – This has a basic free system for individuals as well as a subscription service for classrooms. The basic free system has both Math as well as Reading practice pages (but the Math pages are prettier), as well as some really fun math games!
  4. Math Game Time – this is self explanatory, but helps kids to reinforce their rote counting and number recognition skills
  5. Soft Schools – Here you can find some great free printable worksheets and online games to help grow little mathletes.

Art

These art sites are more for parents who are looking for simple, foolproof art projects for preschoolers as well as lesson plans to introduce kids to art history!

  1. Mrs Brown’s Art Class
  2. Teach Kids Art
  3. Art Projects for Kids
  4. KinderArt
  5. Museum of Modern Art NY

Science

These are a collection of brilliant websites that include some very impressive science demonstration videos as well as projects and simple experiments that you can set up at home!

  1. Science For Preschoolers
  2. Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop
  3. The Kid Should See This
  4. BrainPOP
  5. SESL Writing Wizard

Other Useful Resources

There are plenty of awesome sites out there that will inspire your kids to learn more about the world around them! Here are our current favourites that include everything from World History to Astrophysics :

  1. Typing Club
  2. Learning with Fun
  3. Crash Course World History
  4. NASA Kids Club
  5. The Good Stuff
  6. Smarter Every Day