Carnival of Homeschooling: We’ve Got Style!

August 25, 2009


Homeschoolers have Style!  Lots of it, in all kinds of flavors.

With the freedom homeschooling affords, comes individual style.  We can afford to experiment, jump around, take a leisurely path through phonics, or whatever suits our family best.

Check out these styles!





ChristineMM of The Thinking Mother shares thoughts about unique classes taught by subject matter experts that homeschoolers can take advantage of in her article The Thinking Mother: Homeschool Filmmaking Class for My Kids This Fall.

Shannon tells of her experience with filing a “notice of intent” to homeschool: Get this . . . posted at Mountaineer Country.

If you’ve wondered why public schools don’t teach based on skill level instead of age, Susan Gaissert writes about how that may be changing in:  Who is Leading When It Comes to Educational Innovations? posted at The Expanding Life.

Elena LaVictoire presents A few tips for Ohio homeschoolers posted at My Domestic Church.

If you’ve given some thought to a homeschool name or ID cards, Beverly has some tips in “Do You Name Your Homeschool?” at Beverly’s Homeschooling Blog.

Barbara, from Barbara Frank Online, motivates us with some encouragement for the new school year in Fasten Your Seat Belts…..

And Christine gives us her take on planning the school year and juggling paperwork in Planning the School Year at Our Curious Home.




Need a fun, make-at-home, game to liven up your school drills?  Kris presents Giant Board Game posted at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Kaye presents Rainy Day + Chuck E. Cheese = Happy Grandkids & Grandparents! posted at  “Chuck E. Cheese can be a great “friend” to grandparents who help with their grandkids’ homeschooling programs!”

Summer presents A Day In Our Homeschooling Life posted at Wired For Noise.




In How to Educate for Beautiful Results, posted at Pajama School Blog, Natalie Wickham shares the importance of identifying and working on the parts that ultimately contribute to a whole education.

Make sure to check out these great art ideas:  Julie Moses presents Follow the Yellow Brick Road- More Oz projects! posted at Kids Art Projects and Lessons at Ms. Julie’s Place.  “Just a few projects to get us going somewhere over the rainbow!”

Annette Berlin presents 37 Ways To Share Crafts With Kids posted at Craft Stew.  “If you love crafting, chances are good you want to share that love with your children. Here are some easy (and frugal) ways to help your child also develop an interest in crafting.”




Kathy presents her review of Andrew Peterson’s North! Or Be Eaten: The Wingfeather Saga Book 2: Homeschool Review posted at Reviews.

Dave Roller presents Reading Programs posted at Home School Dad.  “I wanted to share some of the reading programs my children have been participating in.”

Amanda gives an in-depth look into the history of the atomic bombs dropped at the end of WWII in The Daily Planet » Blog Archive » The “Little Boy” Was Dropped posted at The Daily Planet.

Stephanie shares her excitement about learning Latin for the first time together with her children in I Am Just The Lead Student, That’s All at All About Homeschool.

Ruby shares her insight into using computers, the internet, and online learning to have a positive impact in schooling with one article at Freehold2 called “Internet as a Teaching Tool” and another titled “Online Learning Benefits” at School’s Out.




Need some ideas for field trips?  Kristen Hamilton presents A Day in the Life – Field Trips posted at A Day in the Life – Homeschool Blogger.

If you’re trying to plan for fun AND learning this fall, check out this post:  The Family presents What to do, what not to do posted at Once Upon a Family.

Lynda at The Adventures of A Princess and the Bear writes Bear’ Geography: “about our doing geography and learning the continents with literature and lapbooking. We are making an apple pie in this post, to go along with the book, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

John shares thoughts along with the inspirational story of a Zac, a homeschool teen who sailed around the world alone.  He writes Home School Encourages Independence In  Learning and Life at Independent Learning and Home Schooling.  He says, “Rather than isolating students, home school encourages students to develop independence in the way they handle the way they live and the way they learn.”

Amy shares her summertime adventures in Summer Time Learning posted at Kids Love Learning.

We can all empathize with Janine at Why Homeschool who writes about struggles with starting backup with school in “Not Quite Ready to Start School.”



Margaret writes about her plans for not teaching history this school year at Semi-Schooling History posted at Two Kid Schoolhouse

Barbra Sundquist presents Do You Need to Get Angry Before Anyone Listens? posted at Barbra Sundquist.  “Have you ever found yourself thinking, “Why is it that I have to get angry to get what I want?”

Lynn shares her successful first week of school along with some great resources, ideas, and links.  Check out First Week of School Done! posted at Eclectic Education – Homeschool Blogger.

Ben presents 7 Ways to Save Money on Back to School Shopping posted at Money Smart Life.

Scott Palat presents Parental Involvement Affects the Academic Success of Children posted at TutorFi.

Freestyle – a bit of everything


Susan Ryan presents Open Education – It’s the Learning that Counts posted at Corn and Oil.  “There are many high quality, free learning resources available for homeschoolers, including MIT’s free online courses.”

Shelly presents Vintage Video – Jay Can Do It posted at Homemade Homeschoolers.  “This episode of Vintage Video – Jay Can Do It – is part of the Homemade Homeschoolers Podcasts. The post includes thoughts about the difference between how non-homeschoolers define “socialization” and how we at Homemade Homeschoolers define it. We hope you enjoy!”

And if you haven’t settled into a homeschooling style yet, check out Choosyhomeschooler’s article PURLs of Wisdom Blog » Choosing a Teaching Style or Homeschooling Method posted at PURLs of Wisdom Blog.

Help Aimee out with some new lunch ideas as she shares hers in Homeschool Talk: School lunches at Aimee’s Land.



If you haven’t done the soda bottle and Mentos experiment, you’re in for some fun.  See how Lara DeHaven did it in A Homemade Geyser posted at Texas Homesteader.  My boys are itching to do this!

And if you need some ideas to let your enjoyment and study of nature branch out into other science topics, check out Katie Glennon and her article: Using Nature Study to Study all Areas of Science posted at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage.



Leah at The Courtney Six shares Just In Case I Haven’t Mentioned It Lately…:  “My thoughts on why I’m so glad we homeschool.”

Amy at Raising Arrows presents “The Shame On Me Sea“.  The homeschooling parent’s life is often fraught with guilt. Amy writes about her own personal struggle to stay out of the Shame On Me Sea.

I’m grateful, too!

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Homeschool Carnival.  Thank you for all your contributions!

Please take a moment to comment and/or spread the word by posting to your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Next week the carnival will be held at Home Grown and submissions are due Monday, Aug. 31st at 6 pm.  Visit here to submit your post.

Or if you’d like to peruse previous editions, they are listed at Why Homeschool.

Thank you again to all those who took the time to submit posts and share!

— Misty

Posted under Blog Carnivals, Field Trips, Homeschool Activities, Homeschool Crafts, Homeschool Curriculum, Homeschool Life, Homeschool Websites

Favorite Chapter Books Your Kids Love to Read – Thursday Topics

July 16, 2009


Have your kids discovered a chapter book or series of books that bumped them from the “Do I have to read?” stage to the “Turn off the light.  Stop reading, and go to bed!” stage?

My 7-year-old daughter is still turning her nose up at reading, so I’d love some new ideas for a ‘princess’ reader.

Here are the ones that sparked my oldest son’s love of reading:


  1. Comic books – To get over the big change from picture books to ones with pages of just text, the classic comic books were perfect for my son.  We found the hardbound “Action Comic Archives” at our local library, which I was much happier with than current comic books.
  2. magic_treehouse

  3. The Magic Treehouse Series – This series was tons of fun for my kids.  Jack and Annie discover a magic treehouse where books transport them to all kinds of places and adventures.  The series mixes a bit of history, mystery, and adventure, plus frequent illustrations that together keep things fun for a beginning reader.  I would consider them at the 1st to 2nd grade level.
  4. animorph

  5. The Animorphs Series – What a great science fiction series for kids!  The kids in the series are given the power to ‘morph’ into any animal they can touch in order to help fight alien invaders.  My son loved learning what it might be like to be a hawk or a dog first hand.  The plots are full of battles, adventures, and mysteries.  A great read.
  6. harry_potter_7

  7. And no kids ‘love of reading’ list would be complete without all 7 of the Harry Potter Series.  There is something great about seeing a 9-year-old kid curled up on the couch with a book thicker than a dictionary and loving it.

I’d love to hear your book suggestions.  My son just finished the 7th Harry Potter book and is in the middle of the Hobbit, but I need some new ideas for my boy adventurer.  Please share in the comment section.  Thanks!

Posted under Books to Read, Reading Curriculum, Thursday Topics

School in the Car! Learn While You Commute – Tuesday Tips

July 14, 2009


If you find yourself spending more and more time in the car, try preparing a few portable school activities ahead of time to take with you.  It’ll make the travel time more fun for everyone, and you can squeeze a little more learning into the day.

Here are some ideas we’ve done:

  • Books on CD from the local library
  • Listen to Story of the World CDs – this series tells history in a chronological order and in a story format that my kids love to listen to.
  • Try out Brain Quest Card Games if you haven’t before.  They fit easily in your hand, have fun questions geared toward grade levels, and cover many topic areas.
  • Keep a box of story and/or picture books in the car.  Have older kids read the stories out loud to the rest of the family.  If you keep an exciting chapter book only for the car, the kids will look forward to car trips to hear the next part of the story.
  • Use fact card sets to teach, quiz, and play question games with, like this selection of Brighter Child Fact Cards.
  • Print up a map for the older kids, or get a Kids’ Road Atlas to help teach navigation.

We also like having an activity book or two to keep in the car:


Best Travel Activity Book Ever (Backseat Books)


Miles of Smiles: 101 Great Car Games and Activities


Are We There Yet (Backseat Books)

Do you have a schooling, parenting, or household tip to share with us?  We can all use new ideas!  Please share in the comment section.

Posted under Homeschool Curriculum, Tuesday Tips

Potted Plants – Fun and Responsibility for Kids – Tuesday Tips

July 7, 2009


If you’re looking for a project to get your kids outside, teach some responsibility and science, try a tomato plant!

I normally dread my kids seeing commercials on TV, but when my 6-year-old begged for a ‘Topsy-Turvy Tomato planter, I was intrigued.  It’s a hanging sack that holds the tomato roots and potting soil, while the plant itself grows out of the bottom of the sack, in the air and off the ground.

What a great homeschool project!

We quickly figured out you can do the same thing by cutting a hole in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket.  We gathered 4 buckets, each kid chose a plant, and the buckets are now hanging from a couple of 2 x 4’s suspended between the slide structure and our fence.  One of the kids chose a zucchini plant.  Who knew they could all grow upside down?


Each child is responsible for watering, fertilizing, and . . . picking and eating the produce – the best part.  It’s a fun introduction to responsibility, work, and its rewards.  Not to mention a good precurser to getting a pet.  If they can’t keep their tomato plant alive and watered, they aren’t ready for a pet.

Did you find something that worked well for you this week?  Share your tips with the rest of us!

Posted under Science Curriculum, Tuesday Tips

How Do You Get Your Kids to Enjoy Writing? Thursday Topics

July 2, 2009


Being asked to write seems to get some of the biggest groans from my 9-year-old son. (Yes, even more than math!)  He always says that he HATES to write.  I think some of his difficulties are that he doesn’t spell perfectly and has to go back and correct a lot.  He also doesn’t like how slow it is to write and the actual process of putting letters on paper with a pencil seems like too much work for him.

So, I need some help.  I was wondering if you could give me some suggestions on ways you’ve helped your children get excited about writing.  I’m also trying to find something to stimulate his interest instead of assigning work he hates and grumbles about.

Here are some of my ideas (but, I could really use some more!):

  • Find a pen pal and start writing letters:  A cousin or a friend who has moved away are easy to start exchanging letters with.
  • Write and illustrate a comic book.  Since they are heavy on illustration and light on text, the actual writing is less overwhelming and the project is more fun.  A simple comic book can be made by stacking blank paper together, bending it in the middle, and stapling along the fold.
  • Pick a topic and start a blog.  It doesn’t take much computer savy to start a free blog at a site like and distant family members will love the updates.
  • Start a journal.
  • Use a story starter – sometimes a question or fantasy idea can help kids start thinking.  “What if . . .” questions are a great place to start.  Here is a fun list of story starters.

What ideas do you have? 

I was thinking my son might need something to make the actual process of writing a bit easier so he doesn’t get so impatient with how slowly he writes. 

Thank you for your help!

Posted under Thursday Topics, Writing Curriculum

What’s Your Favorite Reading or Phonics Curriculum? Thursday Topics

June 25, 2009


Teaching a child to read seems to be the first big scholastic hurdle for homeschoolers.  But there are so many books and reading programs available that it can be a bit overwhelming.

So, I’m asking you experienced homeschoolers if you would share  your advice with the rest of us – especially for those who don’t really know where to start.

Here are some of my ideas:

  1. First is simply a book, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise.  Instead of spending lots of money on expensive phonics kits, you can buy this book for around $20 and it will guide you lesson by lesson through a very complete and fun phonics program.  I’ve had great success with it and wrote a book review here.
  2. My kids have also enjoyed the beginning readers set:  “I See Sam” – I really like that each book only uses words that have been introduced in previous books, so the child can read every word in the book, not just the ones teaching the current phonics principle.
  3. Finally, the amazing phonics and reading website: If you have an early reader, you have to check this website out.  It’s the best I’ve seen to grab a child’s interest while teaching reading at the same time.  And it’s all free – the Schutz family’s contribution to children learning to read.

Would you mind sharing some of your tips on selecting a reading and/or phonics curriculum?  What are your favorite books, early readers, and websites?  And why?

Posted under Books to Read, Reading Curriculum

Venn Diagrams – A Fun Math Lesson

June 24, 2009


Venn diagrams sound like a fancy and difficult math concept, but instead they make a great math activity for toddlers and up:

  1. Grab a handful of candy, colorful cereal, a set of toys, or anything else you can think of that can be classified into groups.
  2. Make two circles with shoelaces, cut-out from card stock, chalk on the sidewalk, etc.
  3. Have your child start describing characteristics of your set:  colors, sizes, shapes, number of legs, clothing, etc.  Pick two.  Then start sorting them into the appropriate circles, with items that have BOTH characteristics in the middle where the two circles intersect.

Here are a few examples:

  • Colors:  Blue candy in the left circle, red candy in the right circle, purple candy (it is BOTH red and blue) in the center where the circles intersect.
  • Shapes:  Shapes with straight lines in the left circle, shapes with curved lines in the right, a shape like a heart that has both in the center.
  • Toy animal:  Animals with hooves in the left circle, animals with tails in the right, and animals with both hooves and tails in the center.

More fun ideas:

  • Eat the ones in the middle when you’re done.
  • Close your eyes and the other person moves one item to the wrong section – see if you can figure it out.
  • Sort without telling the other the criteria and see if they can guess your sorting rules.
  • Add a third circle to make it more tricky.


Posted under Homeschool Activities, Math Curriculum

What is your Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculum? Thursday Topics

May 28, 2009

Photo by D3 Dan

What’s your favorite math curriculum?  It seems kids love one and hate the other.  I think we all would appreciate your help and advice.  Would you take a second and use the comment section to tell us what math curriculum you’ve used, what you like and don’t like about it, and where to purchase it (if you remember).  Thanks!

I personally really liked Math-U-See, but couldn’t get any of my kids to enjoy it for more than a few weeks or a month at the most.  I also will on occasion pick up my worn copy of Home Learning Year by Year, (that I reviewed here).  I’ll grab one of the kids, find their grade in the book, and we’ll run through all the things they are “supposed” to know and see if there are any gaping holes – like when I realized that since I rarely use a calendar, my kids didn’t really know much about dates and months either.  🙁
But, for simplicity, cost, and mostly painfree math, we keep coming back to a nice set of inexpensive workbooks called Math Made Easy
We tend to learn most of our math during daily activities like cooking, shopping, playing Webkinz (we used the 3-ingredient cooking to learn permutations), etc.  Then, we use the Math Made Easy workbooks to do a few pages a day of grade level math to fill in any gaps.
I like:
  • The price – around $10
  • The workload – there are usually an appropriate amount of problem to learn a concept without overworking.
  • Easy reward system with a chart and star stickers for each page completed.
  • Colorful fun pages with Diego for the little ones and superheroes for the older kids.
  • Workbooks for K through 5th which fits with our family
  • Covers the important math concepts for each grade with a balanced level of repetition. 

I don’t like:

  • They end at 5th grade
  • Some of the math fact pages are a bit repetetive – but I just ask my kids to do a few and explain to me how they did them.  If they’ve ‘got it’ they can move on.

Your turn!  What math curriculum do you like best and why?



Posted under Math Curriculum, Thursday Topics

Gives Kids Money and a Budget – Tuesday Tips

May 26, 2009



Next time you need to buy something for one of your children: clothes, party supplies, shoes,etc., try this:  Give them the money (a budget) and let them do the shopping.  Depending on their age and independence, you may want to offer help with sales shopping, reading ads, price calulation, list making, etc.

For Brooke’s 7th birthday party, I gave her $20 and said she could use it to plan anything she wanted.  Adults may scoff at $20 for a birthday party, but she acted like I’d given her a pot of gold.

We brainstormed party ideas and I helped her make a list for the grocery and dollar stores:

  • cake ingredients
  • ice cream
  • party favors
  • decorations
  • games

We agreed that she could keep half of whatever was left over.  (A little incentive to be frugal.)

Now, I have happy visions of the future where all my kids plan and organize their own birthday parties without any help from me . . . I can’t wait!

Have you had a great idea lately?  A tip that would help us all out?  Please share in the comment section!!

Posted under Math Curriculum, Tuesday Tips

Bright Beginnings, A Complete Curriculum for Early Learning – Guest Post

May 21, 2009

Thank you Jennifer from Homegrown Mommy for this guest post, a very complete and informative curriculum review:

This is the curriculum that I use for my two preschoolers – daughter, age 4 and son, age 3.  They love it and I love and you can’t get a better mix than that!

Here’s why I love it:

  • It is so complete.  Every subject is covered from top to bottom.  The lesson plan is completely laid out for each day including materials and tools you might need right down to snack ideas.
  • It is so simple to use.  As I said, the lesson plans are already laid out for you.  More than work already being done for you, the components the author uses are very basic and so easy to follow.  I pick up the book the night before or sometimes the morning of a lesson, pull the resources together, and sit down with my children.  Part of that simplicity is the age level that we’re talking about here, but the other part is the work that the author, Tammy A. Shaw, has already done.  And, she doesn’t use big crafts that take an hour to prepare or intricate lessons that cover too much detail.  It is very straight forward and age-appropriate.
  • There is room to breathe.  I don’t feel so constricted by the lesson plans that I can’t improvise on my own.  Some of the daily lessons are planned out, but some of it is *multiple choice*.  By that I mean you are given a spot to fill and lots of suggestions of what to fill it with.  There are days that I follow it to the letter and some days that I only take the math and language skills pointers.
  • My kids love it.  And, of course, isn’t that what it is really all about?  They really have fun when it’s time to *do* school.  I’m relaxed and feeling prepared and able which gives them confidence and a relaxed feeling as well.  They feel successful each day and look forward to the next day’s lesson.
  • It is not boring.  While the subjects are primarily the same each day, she attacks them differently so no one gets bored.  The hands-on activities are not always the same, the type of language skill and math activities are a little different each day.  It helps me to stay refreshed in my teaching!

When you order the curriculum, you receive two books; Book 1 is 190 pages and Book 2 is 217 pages.  Book 1 includes the daily lesson plans for 144 days, which can be broken up according to your needs during the week.  This book also includes a nice introduction which talks about the different ways you can use the books together.  Book 2 includes TONS of activities for God’s World (explained below), Phy Ed, Art, Snack time, and Music.  Even if you only bought the curriculum to use the ideas in Book 2, it would be well worth the money spent.  Phy Ed, Art and Music each have 72 different activities and there are 144 snack ideas.  At the end of Book 2 is over 60 pages of sheets that are to be copied for use with the daily lesson plans.  Everything you need is in these two books!

“God’s World” is a collection of 36 four-day-long unit studies of all different subjects from Birds to Zoo Animals.  For each daily lesson plan in Book 1, there is a “God’s World” heading and a blank spot where you get to fill in what unit study you are planning to do that week.  We really have fun with these!  The units are made up of topics that my children truly enjoy and each day they get more excited about what we’re doing.

The only thing I’ve had a struggle with isn’t necessarily a problem with the books – one author can only do so much and cover so many different areas.  I’m feeling like I don’t have enough visuals when telling the Bible stories to my children.  They aren’t necessarily saying or acting as if they are bored, but I really want this portion of the lesson to stick with them forever and I’m second guessing whether or not just words will accomplish that.  Initially, I considered buying a Betty Lukens Bible in Felt set to supplement what I thought was lacking, but the sets are between $150 and $200, plus you have to cut out all 600 pieces of felt!

Recently though, my husband and I converged to come up with a great idea to solve that issue.  I had been at a friends house so my oldest son could participate in a hands-on lesson about engines and I brought my Bright Beginnings and some other supplies to teach my two preschoolers and added my friend’s preschooler to the mix.  They have a big, beautiful home school room with a chalkboard!  I used the chalkboard to draw along with the Bible story.  My drawings are far from the best but it kept their attention a little better and I felt like I was using their ears and eyes for learning.  At home, we do not have a chalkboard, but we do have a large dry erase and there are lots of different colors for dry erase boards these days.  Voila!  Visual stimulation!

I was planning to take lots of photos of different indices and pages within the book, but the author’s website has several of those pieces already on her site, so I’ll just provide links to them here.

Overall, we are really enjoying our time with this curriculum!  The kids are having fun, it’s easy on me and they are learning about all the things that are very important to my husband and me.


“Thanks so much for reading my guest post about Bright Beginnings!  I’m Jennifer, owner of HomeGrownMommy, which is a site devoted to helping other families as they embark on this adventure called homeschooling.  Pertinent information that you need to make those important decisions is at your fingertips with book and curriculum reviews, how-to and what-for articles, tips and tricks, and so much more.  My site is a new one with fresh content coming nearly every day, so come along with me as we build it into an invaluable resource for homeschooling.
I started on my own homeschooling journey about four years ago when my oldest son started kindergarten and my second child was born.  We now have four children and transplanted from Wisconsin to sunny Florida, enjoying the sand and beach as much as possible.  My oldest is in fourth grade and is using the A.C.E. curriculum.  My preschoolers, ages 3 and 4, are using Bright Beginnings, Piano for Preschoolers, some of Considering God’s Creation along with other worksheets and “mommy ideas”!  My youngest is 10 months old and she is happily along for the ride, distracting the rest of us with her sweet smile.  I have really found my dream job in homeschooling and staying at home with my children while doing a little blogging on the side.”

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Posted under Homeschool Curriculum