Friday, October 16, 2015

Weekend Reads (Pick Three Each Week)

Share 3 to 5 Articles/Activities

My favorite homeschool blog posts and articles, found recently (or rediscovered)...


The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland was so enlightening to how public US kindergarten COULD be done better, and speaks to why I'm homeschooling my youngest.

Gracious Space
A short bit of valuable homeschool wisdom.

Tip Tuesday:  6 Tips To Stop Procrastination In Your Homeschool


The Nature Exchange, a pen pal experience where you swop some "nature" too.  How cool is that!

Teaching With Stamps
Includes a link to a great freebie

50 Free and Cheap Minecraft Books for Kindle
Alas, it makes me wish I had a kindle.  But thought I'd share it for the other minecrafter out there.

Homemade Wobblebot
A cute little robot you can make!

Check for more weekend reads every Saturday.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kindergarten Curriculum Review

This post contains affiliate links through which I can earn commission.

Below are the curriculum and materials we used for our first year of homeschooling, both ones we purchased and free resources we found.  I didn't get all my curriculum at once...I gradually added curriculum as the year progressed and I got a feeling for how my child learned.

We are still using all of these this year, though some of course at different levels.


I looked at a lot of reading programs...and I finally decided on none.  My son had already started blending simple words, and before we had even decided for sure we were homeschooling, we had started working through some simple readers, and that was working well so we stuck with it.  So, while we didn't use an "all in one" reading program, here's what we did use for reading, writing, and spelling....

Bob Books

I like the Bob Books Beginning Readers because, while simple,  the stories incorporate humor (my son laughs at a lot of the pictures, and laughter is great homeschooling medicine).  Compared to "real books" of course the stories are pared down, but that's the nature of readers.  They are meant to give a child an easy way to practice reading that gradually ads new reading concepts, and doesn't include "tricky words" (unless that's what they are introducting).    I also like the "Hooked On Phonics" readers, which we supplemented with as we had an incomplete set of those as well.

Progressive Phonics

Progressive Phonics is a site with free printable phonics readers and other tools.  I discovered this mid-year when we were struggling with our ch,sh and, th sounds...and someone on a forum suggested this.  It's a great program. Each section starts with an explanation of the new sound you will be learning.   The printable books are full of rhyming poems you read WITH your child.  The words your child should read are in one color, and you read the rest.  This is easier for kids who struggle with reading longer sentences.  I started switching back and forth with this and the Bob Books once I discovered this program.

All About Spelling

All About Learning 

All About Spelling is SO EASY TO USE.  It's one of those programs that you can open up, skim, take out the materials and start...with no prep.  It's been wonderful for helping my child to learn the rules of spelling.  They also have a reading program too, called All About Reading, which sounds wonderful, but was a little outside our price range.  Their spelling program costs a little less, and much of that is one time cost for materials that are used at every level, like the letter tiles.  It's also easy to find used materials online as most of the materials are non-consumable (not used up--reusable).

Print Path:  Lowercase at Last

Before I was teaching my own child, I had no idea what the big deal was about different letter styles.  I saw no issue with ball and stick letters (or others).  Once I started teaching my son at home immediately I saw how the "ball and stick" style was causing problems with how he formed his a, g, d and several other letters.    I realized I wanted to teach him another way.

At a local Mardel's bookstore I found a copy of Handwriting Without Tears and loved how the letters were formed and the instructions on how to form them.  But since my son only needed help with a few letters, I thought I might be able to find something cheaper on Teachers Pay Teachers to practice with (and of course started by looking for something free).  I found the A Free Sampler from Lowercase at Last by Print Path that had all the letters I was most concerned about.  But as I worked with him I learned he was iffy on some other lowercase letters too so I bought the whole Lowercase at Last Set for less than $5 and it was worth every penny.  I really wish that he was taught with this style from the beginning because it's so much harder to re-teach something a new way, but I feel like this is helping him in the long run.


Math U See

Math U See helped my son understand place value, which he really struggled with.  The way they teach it is very visual and hands on, and even incorporates a story (a bonus for an imaginative learner like my son).  And once he learned place value it helped him with counting larger numbers too.

We got the program later in the year after winging math for a while, so we are still working through this book.  Actually, when we got to addition, we took another direction because my son, who had struggles with memorization, had a "learning burst" where we were able to memorize addition facts by jumping them out, so I dropped this for a while to focus on that. 

I did find that the lessons, while excellent, did take a lot of prep.  Not "gather things up" prep, but watching and reading prep.  Math U See is designed to help teach you how to teach your children, which is what I wanted, but sometimes I had trouble taking the time to do the learning I needed to teach him this way.  Some people just show the videos directly to their children (which are designed to show how to teach the lessons).  While I see where that might make things easier, it didn't work for us.

So, I'm not sure whether I'm going to keep using this or try something else.


This year we focused on three main science topics:  Dinosaurs, Weather, and Caves (which touched on a lot of other chains, geology, life cycles, etc.).  We didn't use a curriculum for these, just made our own with a combination of activities we found on the internet, library books, cheep dollar store workbooks, museum trips, etc.   I'll be sharing the Unit Study we did on caves here on the blog some time in the future (still writing everything down).


Foreign Languages For Kids By Kids

I picked up a Spanish membership to Foreign Language For Kids through Educents, and their videos are the BEST THING I've ever gotten for teaching Spanish!  They are full immersion (completely in for the intro), but presented in a way that makes it easy for the kids to figure out whats going on and what the words mean.  My son was picking up phrases from the first video on.

When I got my membership, it included online access to the videos,  workbooks, and a few online games.   We only really used the videos.  The workbooks and games all required reading, and my child wasn't reading yet. I got a really good deal on a year's membership, but if you buy it at regular price I think just buying the videos are a better deal.

Though the deal I got them with is gone, these products are still less on Educents right now than on their main site. 

This post contains affiliate links (links though which, if people purchased products, I receive commission) to, All About Learning Press, and Educents.  All oppinions are my own.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I'm now on Blog Lovin...and more social media.

Hey folks.  I am now on Blog you can now

Cool huh? 

You'll also soon be seeing some other social media icons on my sidebar.  I've made a  Facebook Page and Pinterest Page too!   Twitter I'm all mixed up about.  See, I have several other blogs and I made a facebook page for each, and I am out of e-mail addresses and don't really want to make a new one.  I suppose I really should just pick one and use it for this but not sure which one.

IT'S BACK! FREE UNIT STUDIES (Through October 30)

 The Old Schoolhouse is offering some free complete Unit Studies through Educents through tomorrow, both for kids 8-13:  "Curiosity Files" and "WannaBe Series."

I've downloaded both of these, and though I haven't yet gone through any with my child (he's a little I'm saving them for later), they look GREAT.  These are FULL UNITS, and are very thorough.

The Curiosity Files include in depth units on all sorts of interesting scientific topics, such as Vegetarian Spiders, Blue Diamonds, Rogue Waves and Quicksand.  Though the focus is the science, they include  vocabulary, creative writing, handwriting, Bible Study  and in some units even a little geography and history.

The "Wanna Be" series is similarly in depth, and don't let the name fool you--this is NOT for younger kids.  Its a serious look at various carreers, including pilot, video game designer, veterinarian, missionary, farmer, military personnel, police officer, firefighter, doctor, artist, and chef.  If your child is interested in any of these fields, these units would be great for them to explore.

Disclosure:  This post contains my affiliate link to Educents

Friday, October 9, 2015

Caves: Free Printable Book

 I made a cave book for my kiddo while we were studying the Stone Age.   Pretty soon I'll be sharing our history lessons from Story of the World, but I wanted to share this now since there's a lot of other uses for this little book, especially during this season.  The center is designed to be cut out revealing a picture on a second page.  Subsequent pages could be used using these two pages again.

You could use this book to make a story or non-fiction book about...

Here's what my son did with it for the stone age (we are adding more pictures...actully not finished...but you can see the cover and the first page through the hole we cut in the center.  If I were to do this again I would have the second page be black construction paper and then have my son use light colored crayons to draw on top of it.

You could also shrink the size of this (easy to do in printer settings) and use this as part of a lapbook.

You are free to use this cave printable however you would like in your homeschool or for classroom or other educational or play use.  If you want to use it commercially, or make alterations and share it for free, see additional terms at the bottom of this page.

Click Links Below to Download Pages

My Favorite Cave Non-Fiction Book

We did whole unit on caves lasting several weeks using this book as our spine last year after visiting a nearby cavern (really, it would be more ideal for reading BEFORE going as it has several activities to do inside a cave, but it worked great as a follow up too).  I'll be sharing that unit eventually but it's going to take some time to write down. 

The book is beautifully written and illustrated, and chalk full of great information, activities, and experiments to do.  It encourages kids to look at one small square of a cave thoroughly...thus the name.  This is one of a series of various other environments (backyard, forest, pond, jungle, african savana, etc.).  

Link to book above is an affiliate link through which I
can earn commission. 


If you want to share this somewhere,'re welcome to share a link to this post and use a picture from this page (but please don't share the files directly, thanks).

You are welcome to make some alterations to this and distribute/share your altered version directly on your on blog or site, if you do the following:
  • The resource must be offered FREE.
  • You must keep my copyright info on the front page (adding your own info too  is fine...or moving it to another spot on the page, but it must still be there.  I don't care about the second page). 
  • Please let me know about it by sharing a link in the comments.  Most likely I'll add a link to it on  this page.
If you want to make alterations to this, but offer it commercially (for sale), we can work that out.  It involves giving me credit and letting me have a free copy to use myself or share with friends, but you will need to contact me at to sort out the details. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Days of Homeschool Blog Posts

Every year there is this event in October where bloggers of all sorts attempt, and sometimes succeed, in blogging on ONE  TOPIC for 31 days straight.   I am NOT going to attempt to do this...I am not that crazy.  But I am going to attempt to read some of the posts.

There are quite a few homeschooling topics in this mix...and to save you some time, I've listed all the obviously homeschooling related ones (and a few sort of homeschooling related... OK, so mostly all of the "family life" category could related to homeschool moms, but there are just too many to list all those!)

Note:  Some of these will list all their posts on the first day's intro, and others will not, so you will need to go to the blog main page, or possibly see if there's a tag related to this to click, to see the other posts.  

31 Days of....
Classical Education
Classical Homeschooling
Clay Play Fun
Confessions of a Public School Mom (written partially for homeschoolers)*
Crafted Colour Series 
Creative Homeschooling*
Dr. Seuss
Diary of a Mediocre Homeschooler
Homeschooling Made Easy
Homeschooling and Working From Home*
Kids Books We Love 
Learning to Sketch*
Lego Unit Studies*
Math Learning Success*
Life, Love and Learning Disability
New Kids Picture Books
Phonics Cards
Raising and Homeschooling a Child With Special Needs
There's a Book for That (books that inspire learning)
Tools to Memorize a Bible Chapter
Ultimate List of Homeschooling Questions
Useful Kids Crafts
Ways to Learn While You Play*

this is just here so I can find the links easily.  :-)

Tips for Raising Boys
Teacher Turned Momma*
Dates With Your Own Kids
Lies Modern Moms Believe
Organization for Normal People
Reset Your Home
31 Days of Texas
Christmas Printables

*Asterics are for my own personal use...please ignore them.

So, do you plan to follow any of 31 Day series?