Homeschool Creations

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Amazon Giftcard Giveaway

I'm having a giveaway on my family blog, No Ordinary Moments, for a $25 gift certificate to Amazon. Head on over and check it out!!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Memoria Press

The thought of teaching Latin to my kids is just a little bit intimidating. And by intimidating, I mean 'push-the-thought-into-the-far-recesses-of-my-mind-overwhelming'.

I am comfortable teaching the basics to my kids, and with proper help I might even venture into uncharted territory of other subjects that are unfamiliar. But Latin just seems overwhelming.

Memoria Press, a Classical Christian education company, sent me several of their products to review. After using and reviewing the materials I can honestly tell you that Memoria Press offers some wonderful resources for homeschooling families ~ and they will not disappoint! Their products are laid out in simple and easy-to-follow steps that help make Latin a less daunting subject to teach.

What is the big deal about Latin, you ask?

~ Over half of the English words come from Latin
~ Latin is an effective way to learn English grammar
~ Latin teaches you how to learn. It is a challenging subject that requires goals and review.
~ Latin words are abundant in specialized fields {doctors, lawyers and astronauts}

About Prima Latin

Prima Latin is an introductory Latin program designed for K-4th grade and includes 25 lessons to use over the course of the year. During that year, children learn over 125 words in Latin, 30 sayings, 4 complete prayers, while learning important English and Latin grammar concepts. The accompanying audio CD provides help with pronunciation for each lesson as well as several hymns. Some of the material covered in Prima includes:

The Prima Latin Set ($32.95) includes a teacher manual, student book, and a pronunciation CD. If you are unsure of how to teach Latin, you can also order the Prima Latin DVD set ($90.90) which includes the teacher manual, student text, pronunciation CD, three instructional DVDs, and flashcards.

I was very impressed with the audio CDs and the instructional DVDs. Cheryl Lowe, the teacher of Prima Latin, is very enjoyable to watch and makes the learning fun. The manual is very clearly laid out ~ and not overwhelming at all. The lessons can be taught in small, manageable increments. You can view the table of contents, a sample of the first lesson (which we worked on), and also a sample of the teacher manual on the Memoria Press site. Prima Latin was written to transition directly to Latina Christiana.

About Primary Manuscript Copybooks

Copybooks are learning activities where children copy Bible passages, poems, and more to practice handwriting, while also memorizing literature, learning grammar, and practicing spelling. The copybooks use passages from the KJV and also provide space for coloring and drawing to accompany the copywork. If you are not quite sure how to implement classical education in your school time, the copybooks are a great place to start.

CopyBook 1 ($14.95) is targeted to K-1st graders and models a traditional manuscript font. It begins with how to properly hold a pencil and also instruction on creating proper strokes. The book provides 30 lessons and each lesson can be taught over a 5 day period in 15 minute increments. The lessons include Bible verse copywork and poems that are copied one line at a time. You can view a sample of one lesson here.

CopyBook 2 ($14.95) moves on to slightly longer verses and entire passages from Psalms {one line at a time}. It also includes the Doxology, several poems, and a list of the apostles. Book 2 includes 30 weeks of lessons.

CopyBook 3 ($14.95) includes longer Bible passages, books of the Old Testament, and several longer poems as copywork. Book 3 also includes 30 weeks of lessons.

You can also order a set of the three copybooks for $39.95 or the cursive copy book ($14.95).

About Christian Studies

Christian Studies is a 3 year program that uses the The Golden Children's Bible as a basis to teach the importance of the Bible, Biblical history, and Scripture memory. Each book provides 30 lessons that include verse memorization, facts to know, vocabulary, and questions about the lesson studied. Throughout the book there are maps, timelines and other activities that apply to the various lessons.

Christian Studies goes through the Bible chronologically and each year works through one-third of the Bible.

Christian Studies I: Creation to Moses’ Last Words
Christian Studies II: Invasion of Canaan to Jonah; Vision of Days to Come
Christian Studies III: Zacharias; Angel Visits Mary; Birth of Jesus to Paul’s Final Years; Letters of Peter; Vision of John

The teacher's manuals shows completed student pages as well as information in the margins for teaching the lessons. The manual offers suggestions on what to teach as well as additional resources for the lessons.

Christian Studies can be purchased as a set that includes the three student books, teacher's manuals and the Golden Children's Bible for $119.95. You can also purchase the books separately: individual student books for $17.95 and teacher's manuals for $20.95.

If you'd like to learn more about classical education, Memoria Press has some great resources on their website including articles on classical education, a newsletter, and a catalog. Every course you order from Memoria Press also comes with a 60 day guarantee.

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read reviews
about other products from Memoria Press.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Have a Question - Post a Comment

This is a repost from earlier, but I've been getting quite a few comments lately with questions ~ and answering the questions is hard when there isn't an email address to reply to {and I will reply!!}. The solution is simple {assuming you have a blogger account too}.

For some of you all, the return email is "noreply-comment" which means I can't reply directly to the comment that you leave. But I can reply if you check one little box that says "show my email address" in your user profile. It won't show up for anyone to see, except the person who's blog that you posted on so they can reply directly to you.

I promise it's safe - do you have your little box checked? I'll know if you comment! :)



Tot School ::22::

~ Kaleb is 29 months ~

So that a little certain someone doesn't get left out (and get the leftovers of my attention) I tried to plan three intentional activities to do with Kaleb every day this week. Some days that worked better than others (depending on our schedule). We did other things also, but my goal was three intentionally planned things. :) These are a few of the things we had planned.

The big news this week is PEDALING - all by himself!! :) Kaleb finally figured it out and has been riding around the backyard and taking rides with us too.

I have some two piece puzzles that match 'what belongs together' (i.e. socks/feet, toothbrush/toothpaste, etc...). I only pulled out 4 puzzles so that he wouldn't get overwhelmed/confused. We won't mention the fact that I can only find six out of the many puzzles...since there are at least six puzzles missing their match.

We pulled out the ring toss game to match colors and also play. Kaleb didn't want to try it from a distance, so we just sat nearby and played for a bit.

Kaleb loves the emotion bears. He has so much fun dressing up the bears (and matching/making outfits), but was so funny to watch imitating the different emotions that the bears show. He kept pretending that it was Daddy - and for some reason kept making Daddy cry all the time.

We pulled out the lacing beads and Kaleb did great naming several of the shapes (circle and star). He LOVES the stars!! We're still working on the names of the colors though!

The lacing beads served a double purpose and we ended up building towers with them too (with the eventual knocking down of said towers - doesn't every toddler??).

We did other activities too this week, but ended up our week celebrating all the HOT weather (90's) with a water gun fight. The kids got the little guns while Mommy and Daddy got to use the super soakers. By the end of the afternoon, Kaleb was s-o-a-k-e-d because he kept asking to be hosed by the soakers. :)

That's it for this week! I'm off to plan for this week since I found some fun puzzles at a yard sale!! Don't forget to visit Carissa at 1+1+1=1 for some more Tot School posts.


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our Storage Setup

Our desk space and school space is also known as our dining room. When we first started homeschooling I really tried to keep the two separate so that our dining room was a dining room. And it didn't look like a preschool had come in our house and thrown up all over the place.

Then I had a revelation. Ummm...we're homeschooling and it's ok.

I'm quick like that.

Once I gave myself permission to merge school and house (because it was completely self-imposed) things began moving around our house and coming out of hiding. Shelves came up from the basement and found their way into our room one weekend while my husband was away. Because I was truthfully getting a little tired of running downstairs to grab this or that when we needed it.

The majority of the toys/tubs on the shelves are all of Kaleb's 'special toys' for Tot School time with Mommy. The top shelf hold a lot of our science books in a tub {for Zachary}and the books that we aren't currently using to go along with our geography studies {the blue crate}.

This is where have school. And truthfully, now that the two have fully merged ~ I love it. I even have some other plans in the works for next year to make it even more fun for 'school time'. We have our world map, chalkboard (peel and stick tiles), colors and shapes for Kaleb, a white board, calendar and some more storage.

I've mentioned the chalkboard squares to you all before (just can't tell you how much I love them!!)

I used this calendar when I used to teach {and you all can obviously tell how long this post has been sitting in my 'drafts' folder waiting to get together...ummm...January???}. The calendar has been such a huge help with Zachary this year and even Kaleb. Zachary picked up on the days of the week, months of the year and counting very quickly, especially since we use it every day. Each month we use a different pattern to help with pattern recognition. In January our pattern went snowman, snowflake, snowflake...the pattern varies based on the month/theme. February is hearts (red/pink), March is flowers (purple/yellow), etc...and Zachary helps pick the pattern at the beginning of the month.

The books we use everyday for homeschooling are stored here. The basket on the floor holds the everyday books and worksheets. The shelves hold a bin with school supplies and math and learning games. The bigger boks that won't fit in our baskets stand on the shelf (our Galloping the Globe notebooks, etc...). The additional basket holds Zachary's papers and workbooks along with the kid's pencil boxes, etc...

Of course once school winds down for this year, I'm going to be re-organizing everything.


Because sitting still isn't something that I do well...and I have some ideas floating around in my head.

For next year I'm also looking at Sue Patrick's Workbox system, so I'm sure there will be some changes when that is implemented too. Just wanted to share what we're doing now. :)



Friday, April 24, 2009

Preschool Corner: Evaluating Progress

Over the last week {despite the fact that we have a few letters of the alphabet left to cover} we've just been having fun ~ all while I try to get a good idea of exactly where Zachary is in the scope of things.

The reason? The big ol' question of Kindergarten.

You see {and here's where the rule-stickler in me has problems sometimes} three of our kids missed our state's cut-off date age for starting school by just a bit. Zachary is the closest to that cut-off date but the beauty of it all is ~ I'm HOMESCHOOLING. So really...I can start him if I want, right?

But then I start to second guess myself and wonder if he is emotionally ready for it. And then I remember that he isn't going to be in a large classroom. It's just us. I'm the one that has to handle the emotions, right?

To boost my own confidence a bit, we've just been having fun and reviewing what he does know to see where he stands in the grand scheme of all things academic. Since the girls are starting their yearly evaluations, he wanted to do some things too. :)

The kid has been blowing me away ~ in a GOOD way! Here's what the little man has let me know:
  • he can count to 100 ~ by ones and tens
  • can identify numbers up to 100
  • counts with 1:1 correspondence
  • can give ordinal positions (first, last, second, middle)
  • he knows the days of the week, months of the year
  • he's adding single digits (under the sum of 10)
  • matching upper and lowercase (knows them all now by name)
  • reading 4 letter words and working on that silent 'e'
  • writes his own name and everyone else's too
  • knows his address/phone number, date of birth, everyone's full name, address...
  • names the continents and major bodies of water
  • fine motor and gross motor - definitely no problems there
  • definitely doesn't have problems expressing himself in any way, shape, or form
  • is telling time to the hour and doing better with half hour
  • tells time on a digital clock
After all this...I'm pretty comfortable starting him as a Kindergartner next year. Does it really matter? I'm not going to be reporting him to the school system yet anyway, so not really. But just in the back of my mind it helps give me a better idea on what to do and which direction to head (i.e. including him in studies with the girls more vs. doing things more independently).

The wonderful part of homeschooling is that it doesn't matter either way. Yes, I obviously want to keep them at their grade level (not below), but we have so much flexibility in going ahead if we want too ~ and keeping up with his pace and where he is at.

That is what I love.

Next week we will return to the alphabet posts, but just wanted to share what we've been up to. Hope you all had a great week!

About the Preschool Corner:

The Preschool Corner is a place for us to share the ideas we are using during our "preschool time" with our kids. You can join in the fun and record what you are doing in your house. Please link your exact blog post to the Mr. Linky below (if you have questions feel free to ask). Be sure to link back to this blog post so that your readers can find some other great ideas too!

The guidelines can be found here if you need them.

Share what you've been doing in your house this week!



Thursday, April 23, 2009

Making Sea Fans and Coral Reefs

Otherwise known as the Great Ocean Biome Diorama.

Say that ten times fast and you'll have a great sum-up of my week.

Laurianna has been studying about different biomes and she had to choose one biome and make a diorama of it ~ she chose saltwater.

Rather than having everything be flat and just a cut-out we decided to have a little fun and thought you might like to see how to make a few quick and simple 3-D underwater specimens of your own.

What You'll need:

~ needlepoint canvas
~ orange paint & a brush {or color you choose to make your sea fan}
~ orange {or other color} pipe cleaner
~ scissors
~ newspaper.

Make the Sea Fan:

1. Cut the needlepoint canvas in the shape that you would like your sea fan to be (a tree shape). The shape doesn't have to be exact - they're all different. :)

2. Paint the canvas orange {use the newspaper to protect your surface} and let it dry.

3. When the canvas is dry, use the pipe cleaner to make 'branches' and a 'trunk' on the canvas.

What You'll Need:

~ playdough or modeling clay
~ paint and a paint brush
~ radiatore pasta {small ruffled and ridged shaped pasta}
~ newspaper

Make the Coral Reef:

1. Form a ball with your playdough or modeling clay and flatten it just a little bit. Size will vary based on either your diorama size or what you are making it for. Our balls were about 2 inches in diameter.

2. Press the pasta into the clay to create a 'brain-like' pattern.

3. Paint your coral mass and let it dry!

{A few other notes}

~ The shark 'swims' across the sea. He is glued to a popsicle stick and travels along a slit at the top of the box.

~ We used blue tissue paper as our water and half a sheet of sandpaper as our ocean floor.

~ Laurianna drew fish, crabs, jellyfish and the shark to decorate her diorama. The fish are hanging by a clear sewing thread from the top of the box. We also used shells and coral that we found on the beach to decorate it a little more.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Touring Germany: Week 2

I admit it. I 'cheated' a bit this week. I found a fun way to teach the kids about Germany this week, all under the guise of a game.

Highlights Magazine offers spy adventure kits that include a puzzle, a guidebook to the country, suspect cards, a case file, and a puzzle book. I picked up one called "The Bummer in Berlin" (completely unused) at a book sale the week we started our study of Germany. When I pulled it out and told the girls we were going to solve a mystery in Germany...well, let's just say they were excited!! So when I say I cheated ~ we just followed along, learning discreetly about Germany through reading/searching for clues, and I had very little work to do!

Each day we completed several pages in the puzzle book to find clues, eliminate villains and tried to discover where the stolen item might be hiding. We used our guidebook (basically a book about Germany) to learn things about Germany and answer questions to find clues. We also used website links to get a little better look at some of the things we were talking about.

{I included a link to the Highlights kits here ~ it's set up similar to a book club. First one is free and you pay for the rest of the kits as you receive them. You can view a sample here. I am in no way affiliated with them - just wanted to pass the info along in case you were interested}.

  • Put our puzzle of Germany together
  • Learned about the Brandenburg gate ~ a 200 year old monument in Berlin {several of the suspects were trying to mingle in the tourist crowd}
  • Took a 'walk' through the Tiergarten, the largest park in Berlin.
  • Talked about the wall between East/West Berlin
  • Learned about the cuckoo clocks and the famous Black Forest

  • Traveled to Stuttgart and visited the Mercedes Benz factory
  • Learned about the autobahn and lederhosen
  • Learned about the importance of the Rhine River
  • Looked at pictures of a palace Frederick the Great built - Sanssouci {means without worries}
  • Traveled down the Rhine River and learned more about some of the other rivers in Germany (put together a crossword puzzle with all of their names)
  • Looked at some of the different castles along the Rhine River
  • Listened to the German numbers and also German phrases
  • Talked about the war and Adolf Hitler
  • Toured the Beethoven museum online
  • Learned about the Frisian islands off Germany's North coast (which I never realized were there....)
  • Solved our mystery ~ figured out what was stolen, where the thief hid it, and who did it!

Websites & Links we used:


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Homeschool Showcase is Up!

Be sure to check out Homeschool Showcase over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers today!. Kris is showcasing some great ideas from a variety of homeschoolers (yours truly included).


Sunday, April 19, 2009

WriteShop Primary

You may remember that a few month's ago I reviewed StoryBuilders from WriteShop. They recently sent me a new writing book from the WriteShop Primary series to try out with our kids. ~ and again I am loving their products!

WriteShop Primary is a writing curriculum for K-3rd graders that uses various activities, crafts and books to teach writing skills. Your child doesn't need any previous experience with writing and is eased into the process of writing a little at a time. Simple words and phrases are turned into stories and crafts and eventually projects to share. Book A is the first in the series and is currently the only one available, but books B and C will be released soon!

The Teacher's Guide

The Teacher's Guide for the Primary Book A is available in either print format ($26.95 plus s/h) or as an ebook ($24.25 for immediate download and no s/h). The guide provides:
  • planning schedules to use with your children to complete the book in one year or less (your choice)
  • help for teaching children at different levels
  • ideas/suggestions for creating a writing center
  • thorough explanations on teaching each lesson (Book A has 10 lessons), including the purpose behind the various sections in the lessons. Lessons include: lesson focus, theme, objective, materials needed, any prep required, and all activities for the lessons (view a sample lesson here)
  • step-by-step instruction (including sample dialogue) for using the lesson with your child(ren)
The Primary Activity Worksheets

The Primary Activity Worksheet Packs are reproducible worksheets that go hand-in-hand with the lessons in the teacher's guide. The worksheet packs are also available in print format ($4.95 plus s/h) or as an ebook download ($4.50 for immediate download and no s/h). The activity worksheets:
  • are fun and appealing to children ~ the graphics are very engaging (view sample pages here)
  • correspond to the lessons in the teacher's activity guide and are an important part of the program
  • contain evaluation charts to track your child's progress ~ not to grade, but record your child's growth
Our Time with WriteShop

We used Book A for a few weeks with the girls and had so much fun with it! The girls enjoyed the writing prompts and I was excited to see them gain a 'fresh' desire to write. After our morning time writing about our day, both girls sat down and wrote some short stories and McKenna even wrote a letter to her Daddy about her bad reaction to some medication. We skipped to the latter part of the book and worked on a writing activity about watermelons. The girls had to write seven steps on growing watermelons, so we researched a bit on the internet and then put together some mini file folders explaining the process. They even had a little art fun decorating their books.

Laurianna illustrating her step-by-step directions.

Starting Your Child

If you are unsure where to start your child in the program, WriteShop has created a chart for determining where to place your child. Each lesson does include extra challenge activities if your child is more advanced. You can also view the full scope and sequence of all three WriteShop Primary books as well as a chart of writing and other activities that are included in the lessons.

WriteShop offers writing programs for children from kindergarten through high school, so if these books don't apply to your children, be sure to check out the numerous resources that they provide for children of all ages! Don't forget that they will have more books coming in this series soon ~ I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read
other reviews about WriteShop Primary.


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Tot School ::21::

~ Kaleb is 28 months ~

Another low-key week here for the most part. We're getting back into our normal routine since my parents moved out last week and just 'breathing' a bit. I did get a few pics of some things we did, but at other times was just too plain lazy to catch it all on camera.

Kaleb has been disappearing and reappearing with tubs of his school toys and telling me what he wants to do {i.e. dumping it all over the floor and then pulling me to 'come'}. This next week I really want to plan 3 specific activities to do with him each day ~ ahead of time ~ and let the rest of the day go where he leads/directs.

I found some mini building blocks at a curriculum sale ~ which Kaleb happily ripped out of the box to play with for approximately 6.3 seconds.

After his unenthusiastic response to the blocks he discovered his sister's purse sitting nearby and decided that looked like more fun. Since it technically involved snapping and 'fine motor skills'. Besides he was having fun.

Another fine motor opportunity presented itself when someone under the age of 8 left a pair of scissors sitting out and Kaleb found them. Even though I didn't set up this as a teaching time, he was practicing those cutting skills ~ and it was just a coloring book cover.

We pulled out a bunch of our bug lacing cards to do too ~ attention span was fairly short again, but he did do a bit of the grasshopper before moving onto other fun things!

Our biggest learning experience this week involved REAL bugs...of the mini ant variety. Kaleb has been freaking out every time he sees a tiny ant. Literally. Screaming like a girl ~ hysterically. While it's been pretty funny, it was also getting a little old because the ants just don't want to go away. We finally taught him that he can squish them ~ you know, since he's BIGGER than they are and all!

Here he is showing us one of the 'crickets' {as he calls them for some reason}:

And here he is in full action ~ hunting and killing.

The ant-killing feat alone makes this week a total success in my book.

Oh yes, Amen!

Kaleb is also really starting to talk up a storm and pull so much together. One giant run-on generally ~ but hearing him talk and talk in that sweet little voice is just precious!! And along with the talking, he is becoming so much more of a little ham to go along. His facial expressions just crack us up {and the little stinker knows it!}.

Don't forget to visit Carissa at 1+1+1=1 for some more Tot School posts.


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Friday, April 17, 2009

Terrific Tot Sites ~ The Playground

You might be familiar with, but have you ever heard of The Playground? The best way I can think to describe it ~ the Australian version of PBSKids, but a part of the Australian Broadcasting Company.

.... {Read more at the Totally Tots blog}