Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TOS Magazine’s “Labor of Love” Sale

tos magazine The Old Schoolhouse is having an awesome “Labor of Love” sale on their print magazine subscriptions right now!  This magazine is one of my most favorite teaching resources.  If I hadn’t already renewed my subscription this past spring, I would definitely be taking advantage of this incredible offer!

From encouraging editorials to informational articles about teaching specific subjects; from product reviews to natural living how-to’s…each quarterly issue is stuffed with information that is helpful to both veteran and newbie homeschoolers alike.  I especially enjoy reading the “Show & Tells” that give me a glimpse into the real lives of other homeschoolers. 

If you’ve been considering getting a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine now is the time because The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is extending an extraordinary subscription offer to homeschool families. Receive a one-year print subscription for just $7.95 or a one-year plus current issue
subscription for $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter
issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue.

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Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31
through midnight on September 15. Once the 5000 are gone, they’re gone!
Hurry and grab this crazy price today!

Click here to read more about this incredible offer and subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. 


I am a current subscriber to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and this review is an honest reflection of my experience with this magazine.  I am receiving free Expo-to-Go tickets in exchange for this post.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Handwriting ~ A Review

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Recently, I had the chance to try out a “new to us” handwriting program ~ Peterson Directed Handwriting.  Peterson Directed Handwriting is a movement-based handwriting program whose goal is to teach fluent handwriting skills. 

The Peterson Method for teaching handwriting places emphasis on proper posture, correct paper placement, and gross motor movements.  On their website they provide numerous research-based articles that support the effectiveness of their movement-based approach to teaching handwriting.

Our Experience ~

Since my 3rd grader just began transitioning from print to cursive last year, I chose to use the Step 2 Beginning Cursive E-book with him.  In each of our daily 15-minute lessons we followed the 4-step process that Peterson recommends for teaching handwriting:

  • Step one ~ Illustrate and Describe (Introduce the movements)
  • Step two ~ Write in the air and say
  • Step three ~ Finger trace and say
  • Step four ~ Write and say

The Information Directory page of the Peterson Directed Handwriting website  contains a 15-minute narrated presentation which explains the “why” of this 4-step process, and detailed instructions on how to use this process to teach handwriting. 

My Thoughts ~

The Peterson way of teaching handwriting is very different from the way I’ve been teaching handwriting until now.  For example, my ds8 has always traced the handwriting model with a pencil when learning a new letter.  {Peterson Directed Handwriting advises that students should never trace a model with a pencil or crayon, instead they recommend that students finger trace the model.}  The Information Directory page of the Peterson Directed Handwriting website provides articles which explain why finger tracing is preferred over pencil-tracing

I must admit, ds8 found saying the action words out loud as he wrote the movement to be a bit awkward at first {step 4}.  But by the fourth lesson, it became more natural to him…and I could see that he seemed to be thinking more about the movements as he wrote the letters ~ and his handwriting did improve. 

After using Peterson Directed Handwriting for an extended period of time, I have found that there are some definite advantages to using their movement- based strategy, the most notable one being that ds8 seems to be more aware of the movements that his hand is making as he writes. 

I also appreciate the e-book format of this handwriting curriculum.  I sometimes found that I needed more than one copy of a particular page {so ds8 could practice a letter form or movement a bit more}, the e-book format allowed me to print the pages that I needed quickly and easily.  In addition, I can save money by using this e-book in the future with my younger children {instead of re-purchasing a new consumable workbook for each child}.

The cost of this 59-page e-book is $19.95 for an individual license {parent/homeschool use}.  I believe this e-book should provide enough material for one year of study. 

Visit the Peterson Directed Handwriting website to browse their numerous handwriting curriculum products ~ including more e-books for handwriting instruction from beginning print instruction through advanced cursive instruction, homeschool handwriting kits {on CD-ROM},  and supplemental tools for teaching handwriting.

Click here to see what my fellow crewmates are saying about Peterson Handwriting.

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I did receive a free copy of this product in return for my honest review of our experience with this product.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day-in-the-Life ~ School Day Edition

untitled This is "A Day in the Life” Week at the Not Back to School Blog Hop.

I should preface this by saying this is not a normal day in the life…but it is one of those days where the flexibility that homeschooling provides is such a blessing.

2:00 am Monday morning ~ ds8 is up with a hurting belly…he says he doesn’t feel like he needs to get sick, we had spent a couple of hours with friends at a park on Sunday evening and the kiddos {especially ds8} spent lots of time hanging from the monkey bars and bouncing on the seesaw, so I figure it’s probably a pulled muscle.  He is very uncomfortable so dh and ds8 head downstairs and put an Andy Griffith DVD on to distract ds8 from the pain.  I eventually hear ds8 laughing, and later all is quiet…they’re both asleep, so I can finally fall back to sleep.

7:00am ~ I wake up and sneak downstairs to check on dh and ds8…they are both still asleep, so I head back upstairs and read for a bit…hoping the house remains quiet for a bit longer…

7:30am ~ Everyone is still asleep, so I clean the upstairs bathrooms…I’d really like to climb back in bed and read some more,  but I know I should really do something a bit more productive :)

8:00am ~ I hear dh’s voice downstairs so I figure it is safe to head down…all the kiddos are awake by now, and thankfully ds8 is feeling much better :).  Dh usually works from home for a little while on Monday mornings…so he heads into our home office to get started.  I work on some morning chores {empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry} and then, since the kiddos are all playing happily {and not complaining about starving}, I head upstairs for a quick shower.

8:30am ~ I am clean :)…and it’s time to get breakfast on the table ~ this morning it is leftover baked oatmeal for dd6 and dh, toast for ds3, ds8, and me…and yogurt all around.  During breakfast I also read from our Keys for Kids Devotional…I notice that today’s devotional is part 3 of 3 {we don’t usually read it on Saturday and Sunday} so I read all three parts while the kiddos finish up their breakfast.  We all do our clean-up chores and morning jobs {dressed, make beds, brush teeth}.

9:30am ~ Time for Word World ~ ds3’s favorite show…all three kiddos end up watching it in the living room and while they are happily occupied I sneak in some computer time.

10:00am ~ Dh leaves for work, ds8 and dd6 follow him outside so they can holler and wave while he drives off :).  I switch the laundry, finish up on the computer and make sure all systems are go for school today.

10:30 ~ Calendar time ~ ds3 adds new numbers to our pocket chart calendar and chooses our weather card; ds8 writes the number of days of school, temperatures, and date information to our morning board; and dd6 makes the date with coins.  We sing the weather song, say the pledge, and I give the kiddos a “talking to” about being respectful while we say the pledge…

100_7026 11:00am ~ Circle time ~ we talk about this week’s family way {responsibility}, practice one of our songs for this term {America the Beautiful}, listen to and sing our Bible Verse song from Seeds of Praise CD {Amen}.  I also read a chapter from Catching Their Talk in a Box, and the poem “Hello and Good-by” from The Llama Who Had No Pajama {Sonlight Core K}.

11:30am ~ Ds8 comes out with me while I hang out laundry {it’s an unusually mild day here today}…ds3 and dd6 decide they would rather play inside with with some math manipulatives.  My mom calls while I am outside…we make plans for our trip to a Beth Moore conference this weekend {her birthday present to me}.  Ds8 goes to get the mail,  younger kiddos still playing happily…so I start another load of laundry.

12:00pm ~ Bellies are starting to grumble so I get started on lunch prep {cheese quesadillas, apples, peaches}, while lunch is in the oven I check email.  The kiddos are playing candy store with the math manipulatives.

100_7033 12:30pm ~ lunchtime

1:00pm ~ I work on wrapping a bunch of PBSwap books that I need to mail today…the kiddos work on their lunch clean-up jobs and play candy store for a while longer.

1:30pm ~ We head to the post office to mail PBSwap packages, and then stop by a local orchard for more peaches and apples.

100_7035 2:15pm ~ We’re back!  Time for math for ds8 and dd6…because of our late start {due to ds8’s late night} we only did Calendar Time and Circle Time this morning {we usually do math, spelling, and reading also}.  I decide to not worry about spelling and reading today…ds3 plays a computer game while the older kiddos do math at the kitchen table with me.

2:45pm ~ The kiddos take turns playing computer games {they each get 1/2 hour} while I head to the office to type up this post :)

4:00pm ~ Time to prep dinner…we’re having chili tonight and it needs to simmer for a while so I’d better get started :)…once I get the ground beef in the pan I notice that the sky is getting a bit dark so I run outside to get the laundry off of the line before my dry clothes get all wet :0

4:30pm ~ Kiddos computer time is over…I put an audio book in the cd player for us to listen to while we all do afternoon chores {I peel apples for dinner, the older kiddos sort and fold laundry, ds3 plays happily}.

5:30pm ~ Dinner is cooking, chores are finished…so I read aloud to the kiddos from our science book {Exploring Creation with Astronomy}.

6:00pm ~ Daddy’s home!  We sit down to eat dinner…our very fall-like dinner {chili and baked apples} matches the weather outside {drizzly and cool} :)

6:45 ~ Daddy reads to the kiddos from one of our devotional books while I begin dinner clean-up…after the reading, the older kiddos do their clean-up jobs.

7:00pm ~ We play a family game of charades {Daddy is full of fun family things for us to do :)}

7:30pm ~ Daddy gives the kiddos baths while I vacuum the downstairs and deliver the folded laundry to the proper rooms.

8:00pm ~ Both dh and I say prayers with the kiddos.

8:30pm ~ Kiddos are in bed…I settle down with my laptop to finish this post.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is not a normal school day for us…actually no day is the same around here, and very few days end up the way I planned, but I digress :)…anyway, ds8’s late night belly pain made for a later morning start than usual.  I am so thankful that we are able to change up our plans when we need to…we did science at 5:30pm, and that’s ok…we skipped reading and spelling today, and that’s ok too :)  

There’s lots more “A Day in the Life” posts over at the Not Back to School Blog Hop this week…be sure to check them out!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Schoolhouse Expo


It's back to homeschool time and registration is open for the online Schoolhouse Expo, October 4-8. It's five days of top homeschool speakers, fellowship, and fun door prizes.

Save $5 per ticket! Register between August 16 and midnight August 22, and you'll pay only $19.99. Plus you'll receive over $200 in free E-Books.
You'll be inspired by speakers including: Zan Tyler, Dr. Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright,Carol Barnier, Diana Waring, Todd Wilson, Davis Carman, Kim Kautzer, Lee Binz, and many more!

A special teen track is planned--the entire family will definitely want to listen to these special sessions. We've also planned a special focus on a topic that touches every homeschool--writing. Plus, an array of other topics that will inform and inspire you throughout your homeschooling years.

Don't forget, MP3 copies of each session comes with your LIVE event ticket.
Two special preconference shows on August 24 and September 21 with Dr. 
Jay Wile, Jeannie Fulbright, and Kim Kautzer!

Register starting 12:01 a.m. on Monday, August 16.


The theme this fall is "Celebrate Homeschooling!" We're going to celebrate the unique blessings of homeschooling, the beginning of another school year, our families, and the freedom to tailor our children's education to best meet their needs.If you cannot make the Live event,  then the October Expo To Go is just your ticket! You'll reserve MP3s from all of the workshops. This week only, pay just $14.95!

You can visit either of these links to get more information.




I am receiving free Expo-to-Go tickets in exchange for this post.

Girls’ Day


This past weekend dd6 and I had a Girls’ Day {actually, it was just an afternoon}…dd had been looking forward to it ever since big brother’s date with mom.  I owed my mom a birthday lunch {very belated}, so I called her up and asked her if she wanted to join us for lunch…

Dd6 and I began by stopping by Barnes & Noble for her free book…then we made a few more stops before meeting my mom at a nearby shopping area that had a ton of restaurants from which to choose.  Dd6 chose a new one {to us} ~ CiCi’s Pizza.  She loves white pizza, and she was hoping they would have some on their pizza buffet…not only did they have white pizza, they also had dessert pizza, cinnamon rolls, and brownies :)  Needless to say, she was very pleased with her restaurant choice.


After we had lunch, we stopped by a cute little courtyard in the shopping area for some pictures ~ dd6 absolutely LOVED the fountain…

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I was also able to get some sweet pictures by an arbor…

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And then I let her have a little fun on the bench by the arbor…while I snapped away :)

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And finally some pics of the girls…

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Note to self…plan more Girls’ Days :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Student Photos 2010 - 2011


The weekend before our first official “back-to-school” week, we stopped by an ice-cream shop for a treat…across the street was a library and outside the library was an adorable little courtyard area.  I grabbed my camera {just in case a photo-op presented itself :)}…and ds8 was immediately game.  He pointed out that there was a cool statue at the front of the courtyard that would make a great back-drop for his “school picture” {well, he didn’t actually use the word “backdrop”, he’s only eight…}

All three kiddos were actually game {usually we have at least one who refuses to smile}. 

First up, our new 3rd grader…always ready to smile for the camera :)

3rd grader ~ ds8 The 3rd grader ~ ds8

Our new 1st grader…

1st grader ~ dd6 The 1st grader ~ dd6

And finally, ds3…he actually smiled for his mama ~ yeah!

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I also got some very cute group shots…

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Stop by the Not Back to School Blog Hop for more Student Photos…

Friday, August 13, 2010

Learning Notes ~ Week ending August 13th

This week we added some more subjects into our day: history (Sonlight Core 2), world geography, and our First Language Lessons studies (ds8 is doing FLL3, dd6 is doing FLL1).

What we accomplished…

Morning Board/Calendar ~ Last weekend I finished putting together our new “Morning Board” (inspired by Homeschool Creations).  I introduced it to the kiddos on Monday morning…they loved it! 

100_6920Bible ~ We are enjoying our new Bible curriculum, Bible Study Guide for All Ages.  This week we continued our study of Joseph.

Language Arts ~ Ds8 began using FLL3…so far it’s been mostly review of information he learned in FLL2.  Dd6 was so excited to begin FLL1…she learned a lot by listening in on ds8’s lessons last year (we did FLL1&2 in one year), it will be interesting to see how much she remembers from his lessons :)

I am very pleased with the progress that dd6 is making with her AAS lessons, she has already completed the first three steps…and she is well on her way to finishing up step 4! 

I ordered another set of AAS student materials (through Level 3) for ds8…he is a very strong reader so I know he will probably speed right through most of the early lessons (that’s why I ordered through Level 3).  I haven’t added AAS to his day yet, hopefully I’ll be able to fit it in next week.

Math ~ Both of the older kiddos completed a couple lessons in their CLE Math books…and there was not as much complaining from ds8 this week :)  He claims to not like doing the daily speed drills…I always smile and tell him “but it only takes a minute” ~ it’s a one-minute drill :)

Sonlight Core 2 ~ We finished our summer read-aloud on Sunday evening…so we were ready to start our first Core 2 read-aloud, Red Sails to Capri.  The kiddos have enjoyed listening to it ~ and they are pleased that it doesn’t have as many cliff-hangers as our last read-aloud (so far).  We also began our history reading from Window on the World…I plan on tweaking SL’s schedule so that I can coordinate the readings from this resource with what we’re studying in geography.

Geography ~ When I saw Confessions of a Homeschooler’s new Expedition Earth geography unit last week, I was very tempted to purchase it…I am still trying to decide ~ but in the meantime we began our world geography study beginning with a study of the continents and oceans.  We reviewed each of the continents and oceans, read excerpts about each from Usborne Children’s Picture Atlas and The Usborne Internet-Linked First Atlas, completed an unlabeled world map (from TOS E-Book: Travel the World ~ June 2010 Planner Module), and sang the “Continents and Oceans” song from Geography Songs {the tune is quite catchy so we sang it many, many times…even the 3yo joined in :)}. 

Next week I plan to add science and circle time into the mix…

This post is being linked to Weekly Wrap-Up hosted by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Date with Mom

My ds8 and I had a date this past weekend…he had two completed summer reading club sheets to turn in for free books (thanks for the free books Barnes & Noble and Borders).  I thought it would be a great idea to add lunch out with me and call it a date :)

My ds8 and I do not get much one-on-one time together and I miss it (and I suspect he does too, even though he probably wouldn’t admit it).  He is growing up so quickly and he is really good company.

We headed out around mid-morning, hitting Barnes & Noble first.  He chose his free book, and on the way to the register, he found an awesome bargain book about baseball to add to his growing collection.

Then we drove across the street to Borders where he chose his second free book, and I found a bargain book that will be a great addition to both our geography studies and astronomy studies this year :)

Afterwards I snuck in a quick visit to Michaels {it was right next door…and I had a coupon and a list :)}.

Then we headed across the street to Chick-Fil-A…I cannot remember ever having visited Chick-Fil-A on a Saturday at 12:30pm ~ and now I know why :)  Since there were no seats, we took our meals to the van…I found a shady parking spot, turned up the A/C, and pushed my seat back.  Ds8 joined me in the front passenger seat.

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We had a wonderful lunch together…he read to me from his new baseball book, I read to him from the Chick-Fil-A records cards (courtesy of our Kids’ Meals).  I apologized to him for the fact that we couldn’t eat inside…but he said eating in the van was much better…and I agree :)

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our Homeschool Room (or rooms)


This week is School Room Week on the Not Back to School Blog Hop.  In our case, we have school rooms.  Believe me, I have tried to condense all of our school stuff into one room…I have reorganized books, moved shelves, but neither our school stuff, nor us can stay in just one room :)

First up is our main school room (this was labeled a dining room in our house plans, but it hasn’t seen a dining room table for many years). 

100_6914We have three bookshelves in this room right now.  The first bookshelf is where I keep the books that we are currently using (history, read-alouds, science, readers, etc.) .  The second bookshelf holds preschool items (toys, games, books) and miscellaneous reference items.  The third shelf houses our nature supplies and nature finds, favorite picture books, and more readers.

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In this room I have also created a calendar/morning time area.  Most of the items in this area were inspired by Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations.

100_6919In another corner of the room we have a little table where I keep drawing and writing supplies.100_6916Moving on to the living room…dh recently set up a little computer nook in one corner, now I can have one or two kiddos working on a computer game {educational of course ;)} while I work with another kiddo at the kitchen table (right next to the living room) ~ and I can supervise them all at the same time!  If you take another look at the close-up of our computer area, you’ll see that the kiddos have already made this space their own :) 

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And in our basement I have set up workboxes and desks for the two older kiddos…and a table with art and writing supplies at the ready.

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I even set up a little area for ds3 (he refuses to be left out)…I am still looking for a little table for this space…100_6906

My dh knows how much I LOVE bookshelves, so when we finished our basement, him and his dad built bookshelves along one entire wall {I really love that guy :)}…I use these shelves to store our games, lego sets, building blocks, puzzles, reference books, next year’s curriculum, anything that I want to have easily accessible for learning.

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I could also add a picture of our kitchen table (where the kiddos do math while I am preparing lunch), our living room couch (where we enjoy many read-aloud sessions), the living room rocking chair (where I snuggle with individual kiddos for their “read to mom” sessions)…I could probably take a picture of just about every room in our house~but I won’t :)

I hope you enjoyed this peek into our school rooms…be sure to check out more school rooms at the Not Back to School Blog Hop!


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