Send Me Your Blog Posts for the Homeschool Carnival!

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March 12, 2012

I’m hosting another edition of the long-running Homeschool Blog Carnival next week.  If you have a fun blog post that would be of interest to homeschooling parents, please send it to me so I can include it.  It’s a way to share with other bloggers and get some exposure for your blog.

Here are the specifics:

Submit entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling by sending an email to:  Entries are due by 6:00 PM (PST) Monday evening, March 19th. Please send the following information:

  • Title of Post
  • URL of Post
  • Name of Blog
  • URL of Blog
  • Brief summary of the post
  • (With “carnival” or “submission” in the subject field of the email.)

I hope to hear from you!  Thanks.  🙂


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Posted under Blog Carnivals

May 19 – Scratch Day 2012

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March 9, 2012

If your kids have been turned on to the extremely fun computer programming software called Scratch, you might want to check and see if there is a Scratch Day 2012 event in your area on May 19th, where they can link up with like-minded kids and adults.

If you haven’t heard of Scratch and have kids interested in computer programming, you’re in for a treat.

Check out my review of this intuitive programming interface that had my 5-year-old writing his first program the first day he used it.


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Posted under Homeschool Software

Want Your Home Schooler to Get a Head Start on College? Dual Credit Could be the Answer

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February 24, 2012

In a nutshell, dual credit is offered to juniors and seniors who are interested in earning college credit while still in high school. The credit earned simultaneously counts towards a high school diploma as well as a college degree if the student decides to enroll in a community college or university later on—hence the word dual. Dual credit courses are only offered through community colleges. While dual credit programs are highly publicized in public schools, many homeschoolers are unaware that they too have access to this opportunity that can give them a boost in their academic career. That said, to see if dual credit might be ideal for your homeschooler, continue reading below.

Saves Time: While traditionally it takes bachelor degree seekers four years to earn their degree, more commonly students are now taking five years to complete their programs. While the reasons vary (students decide to change majors or only enroll part-time for example) one thing is certain: an extra year means students have to spend more money on tuition, textbooks, and housing. Dual credit, however, allows students to get most of the basic college coursework out of the way (like Spanish I, Biology I and lower-division mathematics and science) so they can move at a much quicker rate. Some students earn so much credit that they enter college as a sophomore, and earn their diploma in three short years.

Saves Money: Students typically don’t have to pay to enroll in dual credit programs (although they are required to pay for textbooks and other class materials). But even the programs that do require students to pay give access to college courses at a huge discount—some a whopping 50%. This means that students can earn credit for the exact same course they could’ve earned in a pricey college for a fraction of the original cost.

Relieves Parents of Harder Subjects:  The beauty of dual credit courses is that if can give a homeschooler access  to harder subjects that may be difficult to complete at home, like chemistry with extensive labs, as well as give parents a way to escape teaching classes that they don’t favor teaching, like pre-calculus or biology.

Gives Students Peek into the Future: Lastly, dual credit courses give students some insight to what college coursework is going to be like so that they can better prepare themselves for the real thing. The best part? If a student doesn’t want to engage with a live professor just yet, there are tons on dual credit courses that can be completed online as well so he or she can take the courses in the comfort of his or her home.

( Image License:

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at accredited online colleges about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @

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Posted under Homeschool College Prep

SmartHistory – Is the Collosseum a giant kitty litter box?

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February 13, 2012

Have you ever thought of the Collosseum being compared to a giant kitty litter box?

Well, that’s just what one of the SmartHistory historians does as she explains how the sandy arena in the Collosseum worked in Roman times:

“…imagine the colloseum as a gigantic donut.  You have the inside, that’s the arena.  Arena, originally in latin meant sand.  On the floor where gladiators were fighting, they used sand to absorb blood and body fluids, you know like a gigantic cat litter, if you think about it.”

A bit gory, I know, but right up the alley of my Percy Jackson-loving boys.

SmARTHistory (now merged with one of our favorites: KhanAcademy) really gets students engaged in learning art history.

One thing I really enjoyed is how the site gets historians together and has them talking excitedly about their favorite areas of expertise, with videos, rotating models, images, etc., to demonstrate their points.

Some great parts of the SmartHistory website:

  • A rich, multimedia, art history course offered for free.
  • Learn by Artist – Like this page on Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Also study by ‘Time Period‘ or a specific ‘Style‘ of art.
  • Many themed articles about art history from the Introduction to Art History, to overviews of time periods, and explanations of art media.
  • Great unit-study resource.
  • Much of the content offered as free SmartHistory Podcasts you can take with you, listen on the road, or even while you’re in a museum looking at the artwork itself.
  • They are publishing some nice travel apps like Rome: A First Look ($2.99) and Rome: A Closer Look ($4.99) that will walk you through Rome’s historical sites as you travel and visit them.

How do you teach art in your homeschool day?  I’d love to hear ideas and suggestions.  Take a moment to make a comment, if you would.


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Posted under Art Websites

Review of Morphology – A fun, new game we count as ‘school’

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February 7, 2012

Last month, we just got a fun board game to test out and review, called Morphology.

Probably the best description is that it’s like Pictionary, but with objects.  Instead of drawing your word, you have to build it with a bunch of small objects like string, beads, cubes, pawn-looking pieces, etc.

Our family of seven, ages 3 and up, played with it during early December (so it wouldn’t get swamped in the Christmas rush of toys) and everyone loved it.  I know it says 13 and up on the box, but with a little help even the younger kids have fun with it . . . though my 3-year-old refused to build the word on his card and kept building Minecraft scenarios he wanted us to guess at:  “It’s a creeper and TNT.”  🙂

Here’s what the kids thought of it:

12-year-old son:  I like the ability to create anything you want in any form, shape, or dimension.

10-year-old daughter:  It’s really fun.  I love trying to build funny objects.  But, I don’t know some of the words.

8-year-old son:  I like building the things that it says on the card.  Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the other people are building.

6-year-old son:  It’s fun to build the stuff.  There’s stuff to use and you have time to guess.

3-year-old son:  I like the frogs!  Yes, it’s fun.


  1. Fun & Learning at the same time:  We now consider this game a way to take a fun break from our regular routine and still get some valuable ‘schooling’ done.  Here’s why:
  2. Vocabulary builder – While many of the words are known by most kids, there are plenty that aren’t, so they are building their vocabulary in a fun way.  (We usually had someone from the opposite team or a ‘non-player’ help with reading and explaining unknown words.)
  3. Spatial awareness and training – This game is a great ‘mind-stretcher’ for all ages as the builder tries to make odd pieces form a familiar shape and the guessers are trying to decide if the build is being done in 2D or 3D.  Is it a 2D flat picture of a table?  Or is it a 3D build of a table?
  4. Teamwork and communicating – A great exercise in getting your point across and understanding gestures, facial expressions, etc., all while you’re working together to figure out the answer.
  5. Social skills – Frustration, especially for younger kids, can flare up in this game as one person is trying to communicate the answer and the others just aren’t getting it, all the while, time is ticking away.  I actually like frustration in non-critical situations, because I think it’s a great chance to help kids practice how to handle it.  I try to use questions like, “How do you think you can stay calm when no one can guess your clue?”
  6. Many possible variations – When we first got the game, we started by just taking turns building a word and everyone trying to guess it.  We didn’t even use the game board.  This gave everyone time to practice the new skills of using objects to communicate while removing any time or win/lose pressure (to decrease the frustration level, if desired).  The game allows you to easily follow the rules or make up your own.


  1. The cards seemed a bit thin and easily bent, which makes sense for an age 13+ game, but not so durable for our crowd.
  2. Occasional words seemed uncommon and difficult to guess even if you did a good build, ie: acne instead of zits, and banjo instead of guitar.  We just added a rule that synonyms or “really close to the same thing” words would count as a score.

Overall, it’s a game that makes a fun variation from your typical board game and keeps the kids thinking and learning at the same time.


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Posted under Homeschool Curriculum

7 Ways For Homeschoolers To Prepare for College

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February 1, 2012

(Thank you to Carolyn for this great guest post!)

As a homeschooler, you are no doubt very proud of your academic achievements and will in all likelihood be ahead of the academic curve when you are ready to matriculate into the college scene.  Due to the one-on-one and focused nature of homeschooling many students are able to advance more quickly through their studies and are therefore ready to test out of entry-level college courses.  Math and English test scores are not generally a problem, but the other side of this can be the lack of extra-curricular activities.  To become competitive with public or private school students, you’ll have to reach out into the community to round out your education.  Here are a few tips and resources for homeschool kids to help them prepare for college in their high-school years.

1. Athletics

If you are athletically inclined, but don’t have a school team to join, try checking out your options at community centers around town.  A lot of kids that go to public/private schools and compete on their schools sports teams also play the same sport for a club team.  Activate your social skills and join in!

2. Science Centers

Depending upon your location many cities have science centers that offer classes.  I grew up in Oklahoma City and went to the Omniplex to take lab and astronomy classes in a homeschool group.  Check with your nearest science museum to see if they offer any sort of field trips for homeschool groups or would be willing to set one up.  We got to dissect frogs in the lab, visit the planetarium and tour the gardens.

3. Language Classes

Check community centers and community colleges for foreign language classes.  Most colleges will want you to have a least 2 years of foreign language and studying it out of a book with no interaction might not be as impressive by itself unless you at least pair it with some sort of interactive speaking class.  Libraries, churches, community centers and other resources in your local newspaper and community websites should list any offerings.

4. Volunteering

Due to the open schedule homeschooling provides, you should take advantage of the volunteer opportunities in your community.  Colleges love to see volunteering on your transcript and the flexibility of your schedule may open up doors for you to get involved in ways that public/private school kids can’t.

5. Tests

Before you apply to colleges you will need to sign up for either the SAT or ACT standardized exams.  Get a book of example tests and study them beforehand, it will help to know what you’re about to walk into.  If you are seriously advanced in certain subjects, consider taking College Level Exam Program (CLEP) tests to earn college credit before you even walk onto campus.

6. Shopping Schools

Most universities will offer tabs to explain what is needed for homeschool applicants.  Check out the Online Education Database or other college ranking information to help you determine where you want to attend.

7. Student Aid

Go to the FAFSA website to apply for financial aid once you have selected your institution.

Once you have taken these steps it will be time to get your transcript and letters of recommendation together and actually apply to the school.  Good luck!

Author’s Bio: Carolyn is a guest post blogger who writes on the subjects of higher education, registered nurse schools and the job market.

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Posted under Homeschool College Prep

If you’ve ever wanted to learn a little sign language . . .

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January 25, 2012

Check out this rich online resource called A.S.L.U., a free sign language website that offers lessons, videos, tests, quizzes, and everything you need to educate yourself to communicate with deaf friends and family.

I recently started working closely with a deaf woman in our church and really wanted to be able to communicate better with her.  I was pretty excited to find this site because the lessons were well organized and started out with valuable conversation tools I could use right away instead of just vocabulary lists.  I was frustrated with other resources that would teach me a bunch of words, but not how to ‘chat’ with my new friend.

It’s basically a full high school or college ASL curriculum offered online for free.  Take a few moments a day to do a lesson or encourage your children to.  It’s lots of fun, keeps the mind agile, and can help bridge a communication barrier in all kinds of situations.


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Posted under Foreign Language Websites

What do you do with crazy energy during the winter?

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January 18, 2012

Ok, I need some ideas. We’re reaching that point during the winter where the kids are going nuts from being stuck indoors.

What do you do to keep the kids active during the cold months?

If you have something that works for your kids, take a second and add it to the comment section and maybe we can come up with a nice list to help us all keep our sanity this winter.


Here’s my idea:

We got the two boys a mid-sized trampoline (8 feet, I think) for Christmas.  It just fits in the basement and we’re planning to move it out to the deck in the spring.  Before that, we’ve had good luck with a simple exercise trampoline and a blow-up jumping ball pit, though the blow-up was not very durable with five kids using it.  It only lasted a year or so.

What works for you?

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Posted under Homeschool Life

Quizlet is an amazing Flashcard Resource for learning almost anything

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January 12, 2012

Have you ever sat with your child helping them learn history facts, Spanish words, multiplication facts, or any of the myriad of facts they learn throughout their school years?

Next time, head over to this great website that has done most of the work for you already:

What we like:

  • It’s free, funded by ad revenues.  (You can upgrade to ad-free and ability to load images onto flashcards for an optional $15/yr)
  • It’s well-established, so almost any facts you’re looking to study will probably already have a set of flashcards entered for you by previous users – over 8 million sets!
  • A well designed dashboard showing all your flashcards, recently studied, statistics, etc.
  • Many learning methods including spoken flashcards for foreign languages.
  • Games to increase speed and fun with learning.
  • Groups – If you are learning in a group, you can get together, share flashcard decks, keep in touch and help each other.
  • Printable – A new feature allows you to print your flashcards if you need to take them with you.
  • Built from scratch by a high school sophomore into a thriving business.  Read his story here.

What a great resource!  Enjoy.

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Posted under Homeschool Websites

Take a break from writing and try the free TypingWeb

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January 9, 2012

If your kids are gripping about writing lessons, why not start teaching them to type?

I remember watching my toddler use a mouse better than his grandma and realizing that we are in a completely different world now.

So, why wait to teach typing?  In fact, I have to admit, I type much more nowadays that I actually write.

One of my BFFs (hey, old people can have BFFs, too), recommended a great site that her kids have been using to learn to type, for free:

What we like:

  • It’s FREE (There is an optional one-time $10 fee to remove ads and unlock extra lessons and games)
  • You can track your progress.
  • Typing games make it more fun to learn.
  • A free Teacher Portal:  If you sign up first, you can make a username and password for each of your kids.  Then, using the teacher portal, you can keep track of each child’s progress.  All the basics are free.  (They do offer ad-free and premium service options for $4.99 per student if you’d like.)

I hope you enjoy it, too.

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Posted under Homeschool Curriculum