Teaching On a Budget: For Teachers, Homeschoolers, and Moms with Kids.

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February 27, 2009

I’m a homeschool mom to five kids, ages 8 and under.  In some minds, that makes me either crazy or heroic, but I do have an interesting household most days.  See:

Buying school supplies for a large family means I’m always on the lookout for a good deal.  And there are plenty to be had if you know where to look.  Here are some of my favorites:

Educational Software

Did you know you qualify to purchase the education version of most mainstream software packages if you are a college student, a teacher, a homeschool parent, or on behalf of your child grade K through 12?  Yes, all you have to do is have a child in school to qualify! 

And these are full working versions of the software for a fraction of the cost.  You do need to read the education qualifications for the specific software to verify before purchasing, but usually it just requires an education ID of some sort.  A report card or one of the free IDS many children get now from the portrait companies at the beginning of the year works fine.  (Homeschoolers:  Get a free eligibility letter from Homeschool Buyers Co-op – see below)

For example, you can get the latest Microsoft Office Pro for $119.95 on The Academic Superstore, a discount of 70% off the same program sold for $395.99 on Amazon.  (If you decide to buy from The Academic Superstore, join Coupon Cactus first and get an extra 1.5% rebate – see this post)

The only downside is when an upgrade comes along you can’t get the discounted upgrade price since you don’t own a ‘Full Version’.  In the past, however, I’ve found that buying the educational version each time is still cheaper than a full version followed by the discounted upgrades.

Educational Internet Deals

  1. Freebie of the Day – This is a great site with a free homeschooling resource you can download each weekday.
  2. CurrClick – They sell lots of high quality electronic curriculum for decent prices, and if you sign up for their email newsletter you’ll get a free downloadable product each week.  We really enjoyed a recent free lapbook download about bees.
  3. Homeschool Buyers Co-op – For the homeschool parents out there:  Did you ever wish you could get the great discounts that schools get by buying bulk?  Well, that’s what the Walter family wanted, too.  So they started an awesome co-op that now has thousands of members.  They go out to suppliers and organize great discounted deals for all of us.  Best of all, it’s free to register.  Feel free to explore their site.  They also have lists of many free resources

Where to find Used Curriculum

  1. Homeschool Classifieds is a goldmine of curriculum listed by homeschool parents for very reasonable costs.  And unlike EBay, it’s free to list up to 7 items, with only a $5 charge per year to list more. 
  2. Ebay is always a good place to look for hard-to-find items.  Try using a couple newer features to help get what you want:  Saved searches can send you an email any time an item you’re looking for is posted. 
  3. Local Homeschool Co-ops usually have a curriculum sale once or twice a year with great prices and best of all, no shipping!  Find a local group here.

Teacher Discount Cards (for public school and homeschool teachers)

  1. Joanns – get a 15% off Teacher Rewards card from Joanns here.  If you are a homeschooler, you need to get a PEAH number first here before registering with Joanns. 
  2. Staples – Get a Staples Teacher Rewards card here, print a copy online to use right away, or ask for a card to be sent in the mail.  (The best deals are found the last month or two of the summer.)
  3. And check out this great page for more homeschool discounts including Borders, Barnes and Noble, Kinkos, and more.  (Caution:  there are broken links on this site, but still good links for some of the major retailers.)

All-in-all the internet has not just revolutionized teaching with more resources than you have time to get to, but it has done the same with finding bargains to make teaching supplies much more affordable.  Please share your tips on getting teaching bargains with us!

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Posted under Homeschool Bargains

Learn How to Protect Your Children, Feel Safe, and Stop Worrying

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February 26, 2009

With 5 kids, you better believe I’ve spent time worrying about how to keep my kids safe.  Plus, I have a 4th degree black belt, so I my kids should learn to foil kidnappers with perfect groin shots.  Hardly realistic, I knew, so I ended up like most of you:

  • I told my children, “Don’t talk to strangers”
  • I tried to ignore media stories about kidnapped kids.
  • I had one or two of those ‘fun’ discussions about what constitutes a ‘private part’ with instructions to come right away and tell me if anyone tried to touch them.
  • I basically knew I needed to teach my kids effective techniques to stay safe, but wasn’t sure how.  (Other than the groin kicks – I had those down 🙂

A few years back I found some much better advice by reading Gavin De Becker’s book, Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers SafeGavin De Becker is a man with a lot of personal experience with threats and violence coming from a very difficult childhood.  But, he turned that into a skill and is now a well-known expert in teaching others how to recognize specific danger signs that precede real threats.

Here are a few things I thought were very valuable in the book:

  • “Don’t talk to strangers” makes a lost kid afraid to talk to anyone, perfect bait for any bad guys around.  Instead?  Tell your child to walk up to a woman who looks like a mommy and say, “I’m lost.  Can you help me find my mommy?”  Since 90-something percent of perpetrators against children are men, just by choosing a woman, the odds of staying safe are upped considerably.  And by choosing a ‘mommy’ your child is likely to get quick help in finding you again.
  • “Violence almost always has detectable pre-incident indicators that we recognize intuitively.” (pg. 6)  Learn the 7 Survival Signals.  Learning to recognize these danger signs decreases my and my kids’ worry and fear.  I learn what to look for.  I teach it to my kids, and we are both more confident and safe.  
  • The test of 12 things your children should know to be assertive and not a victim, including that it’s ok to rebuff and defy adults if they feel afraid. 
  • Five “Signals of Denial” when we’re afraid to even think about specific dangers and instead spend all our time worrying and afraid.
  • Reassure yourself by remembering child abductions are covered intensely in the news and there are a lot fewer than it seems.
  • On the other hand, be eagle-eyed for any signs of child sexual abuse even and especially among family, friends, and other acquaintances.  Don’t dismiss anything your child mentions and work to make sure they are comfortable talking to you about it, even if it is a close relation or friend.  It is the opposite = very underreported and very common (90% of perpetrators are known to the child, almost always heterosexual males and the most common age abuse begins is 3!) .
  • I loved the clear and concise list to teach kids what is inappropriate behaviour they would need to tell you about right away.  (Instead of vague conversations about ‘IT’)
  • How to keep kids safe with babysitters, at school, with friends, when they are teenagers, etc., etc. 

I can’t recommend this book enough to parents everywhere.  Not only is it stuffed with great information, there are example stories all through the book which make it an engaging read.

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Posted under Books to Read, Parenting

Latest Homeschool Blog Carnival – ‘Stimulus’ edition :-)

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February 25, 2009

Southbank Ferris Wheel, Birsbane

Check out the latest Homeschool Blog Carnival at Judy Aron’s ‘Consent of the Governed’ blog .  Along with her political themed blog, she chose a ‘Stimulus’ theme to tie all the great posts toghether.  I thought that was pretty funny.  There are lots of great homeschool blog articles features, if you’re looking for an enjoyable browse.  Have fun!

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Posted under Blog Carnivals

A Homeschool Mom’s Great Math Blog – Let’s Play Math

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February 25, 2009

rules_s

Denise is a homeschool mom who knows math inside and out and has put together tons of great articles, ideas, and links in her blog with the great name:  Let’s Play Math!

Here are some of what I enjoyed on her blog:

Thank you for all the ideas!

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Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Looking for Answers to Your Homeschooling Nature Questions?

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February 25, 2009

elephant_s
Isn’t this a great picture of an ‘E-fant’?  (my 3-year-old’s favorite animal)  Learning about animals is a favorite part of early education and teaches children science, reading, comprehension, and lots more.

Check out Exploring Nature, a great natural science website with:

Much of the site is free, but there is also a nominal $25/yr to access some of their member only resources.  Enjoy!

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Posted under Science Curriculum, Science Websites

Is Math Too Hard to Learn or Teach? Try Living Math!

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February 24, 2009

math_s

Do you think you are bad at math? Does you child think he or she is?

Math seems to come up often in complaints about early education.

So, if you’re looking for a new approach, you might want to try Living Math which consists of:

  • Early exposure to math as it is used in real life, instead of contrived worksheets.
  • Not requiring mastery of math on a set time table
  • Liberal use of math literature and history to make math come alive and feel more real.
  • A goal to encourage a child’s natural love of learning (even while learning math 🙂

Julie Brennan, a homeschool mom of four, offers lots of Living Math resources on her website:

Enjoy!

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Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Need info for a Homeschool State Unit Study?

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February 23, 2009

globe_states

If you’re doing a unit study on one of the states in America, check out this website full of State resources including:

  • State facts
  • Links to TONS of great state-specific websites
  • lots of field trip info
  • local homeschool info

Thank you to The Homeschool Mom for compiling this great resource!

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Posted under Geography, Geography Websites

Swimming in February – Our Homeschool Kalahari Vacation

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February 19, 2009

kalahari

We’ve been gone a bit, enjoying a fun vacation at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio.  Not only did we love running around in shorts, T-shirts, and swimsuits in the middle of February, but we were there with a huge group of Homeschoolers as part of the Unschoolers Winter Waterpark Gathering.  ‘Unschooling‘ basically means that you don’t stick to any specific homeschool curriculum.  Instead, you use life to learn and encourage your children’s interests. 

The week was packed with lots of swimming and so many activities that we were running all over the place:  Webkinz parties, Pokemon trading, a Kid’s Marketplace, Dungeon’s and Dragons games, video games, two Talent Shows, dance workshops, a Medieval Ball and tons more!

Here are a few pictures of our fun (and socialization, which we take very seriously as homeschoolers – ROFL)

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Our beautiful Princess in her ball gown and hat for the grand finale, the Medieval Ball!

tim_dancing

Showing off his own dance moves – the definition of EXUBERANT!  Why can’t I suck off some of their energy and use it myself??

alex_tickets

He won the 1000 ticket jackpot in the arcade – and it took him FOREVER to decide how to spend them.

chris_cotton_candy

His favorite moment of the Conference:  buying his own bag of cotton candy at the Kid’s Marketplace.

tim_dressup

And dressing up in the kid’s lounge is always fun!

Sometimes homeschooling is just way too much fun!  We love this life!

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Posted under Field Trips, Homeschool Activities

Life on the Road hosts the Adventure Homeschool Carnival

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January 29, 2009

ferris_wheel_s

Here’s the latest Homeschool Carnival article hosted by Life on the Road, who puts an adventure spin on the articles this edition.

If you’ve never read a ‘carnival’ blog post, it’s basically a collection of links and descriptions of lots of interesting blog posts with a fun theme.  So, you can browse through the links, kind of like browsing through the booths at a carnival, and pick and choose what you like.

I find it a fun read every week to get a look at lots of different homeschool lives and ideas out there.

Enjoy!

Enjoy

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Posted under Blog Carnivals, Homeschool Life

Print a Bugzzle Triangle Puzzle from this fun Photoshop Tutorial

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January 28, 2009

Isn’t this a beautiful puzzle?  It’s eye-catching enough to stop even my hyper toddler for a second look.

bugzzle_puzzle

I was looking for a blank puzzle to print and found this Photoshop puzzle tutorial on how to design an entertaining triangle brainteasing puzzle. The trick is to arrange the triangle-shaped puzzle pieces so that the bug bodies all line up. It’s not as easy as it looks!

You may not know much Photoshop, but the author, Enrique Flouret, is nice enough to let us download the final products which are easy to print on sticker paper or simply glue to cardboard or cardstock, and cut out for a fun activity:

If you make one of these, would you mind commenting and let us know what materials you used and how it turned out?

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Posted under Homeschool Crafts, Toddler Tips