Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Homeschooling Is a Labor of Love

I know how seriously homeschooling parents take their conviction to homeschool. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's “Labor of Love” subscription sale is a celebration of the commitment to homeschool, and they want everyone to know about the sale.   

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.

Only 5,000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31 through midnight on September 15. Once the 5,000 are gone, they're gone!

I personally have a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and love it!  Hurry and grab this crazy price today!

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was encouraged to blog about the Old Schoolhouse Magazine sale. In exchange, I will be receiving free Expo-To-Go tickets.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Directed Handwriting ~ Cursive

If you were like me, you probably had never heard of Peterson Directed Handwriting.  When I was asked to review this curriculum, I was excited because we had just recently started working on cursive and I was hoping this would be a good addition. 

According to their site, "The Peterson Method curriculum uses a unique movement based strategy to teach skills for fluency and legibility".  This is, what I think, makes Peterson different from other handwriting curriculums.  They do not recommend tracing and copying, instead they focus on air writing and then finger tracing, before writing.  They also put much more focus on proper paper positioning, pencil gripping, and proper seating.  Those are all things that I have thought about and we have worked on, but I didn't realize how important they could be.  Those three things alone, have changed our daughter's cursive dramatically! 



Rand H. Nelson, the contact for Peterson Directed Handwriting, is available to answer any questions you may have about this product. He maintains an Adobe Connect Meeting Room, and whenever possible, the room is open to visitors.  It supports voice over the Internet and tools for illustration, including video.  You can use the link HERE for a quick question, or send an email request to arrange a meeting in advance. Before reviewing the product, I had a 45 minute meeting with Rand where he explained the Peterson method and answered all questions I had.  I found this to be the most helpful part of the whole curriculum.  It was nice to know that at any time I could ask him for assistance. 

All this said, I feel like the website is very confusing!  From the main page, I am still not sure of the best place to go.  There is a ton of good information, you just have to dig to find it, which will turn many people off automatically.  You can find some good links and training presentations in the Information Directory, and you can also find some good information about handwriting assessment and evaluation on this Coaching page. 

One good thing about this program is that Peterson Directed Handwriting is not hiding anything.  They give you all the information you can possibly use to make a decision on what product to purchase, and if their product is right for you.  For those starting with cursive, you can begin HERE.  Rand even offers the complete, secured version of the e-book for you to review before you buy it. 

My Thoughts: The website really needs to be better organized.  I think that turns people away.  I struggled with it for a while before I figured out what I was doing.  If you can get past that, the program is great.  You can purchase the e-books so you can make as many pages as you need.

Thoughts of a 7-Year Old: My hand is still trying to get used to it, but it makes my cursive much prettier.

Find Out More: Peterson Directed Handwriting offers a wide variety of products.  You can find all cursive e-books HERE.  Cursive Step 1, 2, 3, and 4 e-books all sell for $19.95 each. 

My Crewmates are also reviewing Peterson Directed handwriting, so you can check out what they think HERE.

Disclosure: This product was given to Our Homeschool Reviews for free for review purposes, and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I have received no compensation from it and all opinions and experiences within this review are my own.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This Week's Blog Walk

I haven't posted one of these in a couple weeks.  Here are some blogs to check out this week from my fellow Crew members.  Happy browsing!

Creative Learners
The Homeschool Desk
Ramblin' Roads
The Stewards Steno
Mama Manuscripts
Train Up a Child
We Love to Homeschool
Day by Day in Our World
Acorns - or Homeschooling Nuggets of Gold
The Berry Patch

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

I'll be adding more freebies and samples throughout the day to Our Homeschool Reviews, so please check back, or better yet, follow along with Google Friend Connect on the right!

Try Swagbucks!
If you haven't tried Swagbucks you should!  Just click HERE to sign up.  Swagbucks allows web users to earn virtual currency by doing the things they do every day - search the web. You can then exchange that virtual currency for prizes.  My favorite prize is the $5 Amazon gift card.  I have been able to accumulate $50 in Amazon gift cards just by doing my normal online searching.

Home Depot Garden Club: B1G1 Bulbs Coupon
If you're registered with The Home Depot Garden Club, check your email for a B1G1 Spring-Blooming Bulbs printable coupon today. If you haven't, register HERE!

FREE All Bran Promise Pack
Go HERE and login or register to get a FREE All-Bran promise pack. The promise pack includes All-Bran cereal, bar and drink mix samples + you should receive $4 worth of coupons.

FREE Degree Men Sample (BJ’s Members)
If you’re a BJ’s member, you can head on over HERE to get a FREE sample of Degree Men V12 Invisible Stick Deodorant!

Coupon Roundup
Visit Deal Seeking Mom for her Coupon Roundup!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: The Breakaway

Monday, August 23, 2010

Homeschooling - Can You Afford It?

If you know anything about me, you know I like a good deal!  I use coupons, I shop sales, I buy used, and the clearance rack is my friend!  So why would that change when we are talking about homeschooling?  

Here are some tips to keep in mind to save money while homeschooling:

Set a Budget!  Have an idea of how much you want to spend each year and stick to it.  It can be really tempting to buy everything you see when you walk into a used curriculum sale.  Research ahead of time the prices for each item.  Write it down and bring it with you.  Just because all the other moms are equipped with roll carts and bags, doesn't mean you have to be.  Relax and look for what you need.

Make a Spreadsheet!  I started one when our daughter was in Pre-K.  I keep track of the item's retail price, how much I pay for it, and how much I sell it for. 

Borrow or Swap!  If you know someone who has what you need but they are not using it this year, see if you can borrow it or swap it for something you have for the year.

Use the Library!  If you have a well stocked public library nearby, this is a cheap way to find all those books on your reading list.  Take advantage of their interlibrary loan system.

Buy used!  Buy from friends or shop your local used curriculum sale if you have one.  This year I have had good luck with the Homeschool Classifieds.  It was pretty simple to set up an account and look for what I wanted.  I was able to buy and sell a few things, which worked out great!

Shop Sales!  Buy school supplies when everything is on sale, and during the tax-free weekend if your state offers it.

Shop Online!  I have found that if I can't find something used, I may be able to find it cheaper on Amazon or Books-A-Million.  Both offer free shipping if you buy over $25 and Books-A-Million has a 20% off educators discount for teachers.  You just have to sign up for the card and then register the card number to your account.

Join a Co-op!  Co-ops offer support and ideas that you would not have available otherwise.  If there is not a co-op near you, you could join the Homeschool Buyers Co-op, the world's largest purchasing cooperative for homeschoolers.

Hand Down!  We only have one child so we sell things after we use them, unless they would be a good resource for the future or they were consumable.  But for bigger families, hand down books and curriculum to younger siblings. 

Search FREE Sites!  If I can find a free online site that has games, resources, or materials, I will try and incorporate it into our schedule.  I try not to use too many, but they break up our day for time to time.  Here are a few that I like:

Art Projects For Kids - Free art projects for children
Donna Young - Free printables and resources
Starfall - Free service to motivate children to read with phonics
Learning Games for Kids - Free online educational games
Lapbook Lessons - Free Lapbooks and Lapbook Video Lessons
Homeschool Share - Free literature-based unit studies and resources
Timez Attack - Free online math game
Classics for Kids - Wonderful interactive site about the classics
Big IQ Kids Spelling - Free online spelling tests
Currclick - Sign up for their weekly freebie
The Old Schoolhouse - Sign up for their weekly newsletter

I hope this has been helpful!  There really are ways to stay within your budget so you can homeschool! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

I'll be adding more freebies and samples throughout the day to Our Homeschool Reviews, so please check back, or better yet, follow along with Google Friend Connect on the right!

Groupon Deal: Hot $50 Gap Certificate Only $25!!
$25 for $50 Worth of Apparel at Gap!  Click HERE!  This is good across the country in any Gap store excluding outlets. You have until 11/19 to use your certificate.

FREE Sample Pack of Kungaloosh Gourmet Tea!
Head on over HERE to get a FREE Sample pack of Kungaloosh Gourmet Tea ($3.95 value)!

Walgreens Photo: FREE 5x7 Folded Card
As part of the Walgreens 7 Days of 7 Deals promotion, today, August 19th ONLY, they are offering up a FREE 5×7 folded card! Just head on over HERE, upload your photo and create your FREE folded card. Shipping charges apply.

FREE 48 Page Pregnancy Planner!
Go HERE to score a FREE 48 page Pregnancy Planner by mail! Just add it to your cart and start the checkout process. Shipping is completely FREE too!

FREE Samples of Nexxus Hair Care Products!
Go HERE to get a FREE sample of Nexxus Therappe Shampoo, Humectress Conditioner, and new Deep Conditioner courtesy of Walmart! Allow up to 4 weeks for delivery.

FREE Sample Roundup!
Visit the Deal Seeking Mom for her free sample roundup!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Looking Up

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Online Schoolhouse EXPO is coming!

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 http://www.schoolhouseexpo.com/ to get more information.

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was encouraged to blog about the Schoolhouse Expo. In exchange, I will be receiving free Expo-To-Go tickets.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New to Homeschooling?

Are you considering homeschooling?  Do you have questions about it?  Are you confused with all the choices available?  If so, you are at the right place.

The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew is participating in a six-week Blog Cruise and the first topic of the cruise is “What advice do you have for those considering homeschooling or just starting out?”

 Officially, this is going to be our second year homeschooling.  Unofficially, we have been homeschooling since our first and only child was about two years old.  I have been researching the topic of homeschooling now for five years, so here is my advice.

  • Find a local homeschool group to participate in.  Meet some people and ask questions.  There are sure to be some other moms who will be glad to help. 
  • Contact your county to find out what the homeschool laws are in your area.  Each state is different. 
  • Try not to go to a large homeschool convention until you have researched curriculum on your own.  Conventions can be very overwhelming and may add to your confusion.
  • Take it easy your first year, especially if you are taking your child(ren) out of school to homeschool.  The first year can be a big transition for a child.  Try different things to see what works best for your family.
  • Don't worry about what other families are doing.  Reading other blogs and talking with friends can be encouraging, but can also be discouraging.  You may feel like you are not doing as much as other families.  Look for encouragement and ideas when talking to other families, but don't compare yourself.  Each family is different.
  • Be flexible.  There is no reason you have to follow the school calendar.  Take off when you want, start and end when you want, start late in the morning or early in the afternoon.  Take your own spring break when the schools are back in session.  It is your schedule so you can do what you want.
  • Relax and enjoy your kids!  You will be around them all day, so add some fun to your day.  Play games, do crafts, or take the day off for a field trip.  
I'd love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment on this post.  If you would like, you can follow my blog by clicking on Google Friend Connect on the right. 

Thanks for stopping by and come back next Monday to hear more.

Friday, August 13, 2010

2010 Schoolhouse Planner Review

WOW ~ This was all I could say when I received the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner, by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!!  I have been looking for a planner that is versatile and that would work well for our home.  When I downloaded this planner, it was much more than I expected! 

Let me start by saying that this planner is 614 pages in total, and so much more than it's name implies!  Yes, it does contain a calendar through 2013, yes it does contain weekly and daily schedules, assignments and attendance charts, planning forms, tracking and activity logs, report cards, and transcript forms (just to name a few).  There are literally hundreds of forms!  And get this, the planner is customizable, allowing you to type in information specific to your family and print the forms you need. Yahoo!  I just love that you can customize it because the main reason I haven't bought a planner is because I am too picky!  

OK, so here is where the planner becomes much more!  Not only does it have all of these great forms, but each month gives you a ton of educational information.  

July: Tips for managing your homeschool while managing your home
August: The benefits of joining a homeschool co-op
September: The value of reading the classics
October: Teaching your children good manners: It starts with RESPECT

I may have to just start with October!  ;o)  Seriously though, those just scratched the surface, there are several more articles and family fun ideas for each month.  And one of the best parts, I think, is that there are seven recipes each month.  That's 84 new recipes for the year!!  How great is that?!

TOS Magazine's Schoolhouse Store offers The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner for only $39.  Not a bad price considering you won't have to ever buy a planner again!  You can read more about it here and see some sample pages here.  If you would like to have it on a CD, you can purchase that here for just a few dollars more.

Disclosure: As a member of the TOS Crew, Our Homeschool Reviews wrote this while participating in the The Old Schoolhouse advertising campaign, making me eligible to win a prize. I received a free copy of the planner to facilitate the writing of this blog post.

This Week's Blog Walk

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not Back To School Blog Hop: Our School Room

Not Back to School Blog Hop

I'm a little behind on my post for the Not Back To School Blog Hop, but better late than never, right?!  ;o)

So our school room is just our extra bedroom, transformed.  It is actually our school room / movie room (but more about that in a minute).

This is where I keep all of our school books, by subject, in each cubby.  Its not too hard to organize it all since I just have one child.  She's in 2nd grade now so I have pretty much cleaned out all books from Kindergarten and below.

Her desk is in this room, but it is more her play desk than her school desk.  Each year it seems like we do school work in a different place, trying to find the best location.

For Kindergarten, it was mostly on the floor.  I tried to be as relaxed as possible.  Last year I tried to continue on the floor but she would get too fidgety, so we switched to her small table in the kitchen.

This year we are using the family kitchen table, which works well because I can be cleaning or doing other things nearby while she works.  It can also hold all of her work for the day, which I try to lay out for her before we start.

Also in the school room is her keyboard to practice piano.  We are looking into buying a used piano but haven't found anything yet.

Oh, and I can't forget to tell you how this school room is also used as a movie room!  Hubby hooked up a projector on a shelf in the closet.  When the closet is shut, everything is hidden.  We painted the room a dark blue and left a white space for the screen.  When it is time for a movie, we pull out the bean bag chairs and relax.

So that is our school room and school areas around the house!

Thrifty Thursday

I'll be adding more freebies and samples throughout the day to Our Homeschool Reviews, so please check back, or better yet, follow along with Google Friend Connect on the right!

FREE Shipping at Victoria's Secret - No Minimum
Today, 8/12 ONLY, Victoria’s Secret is offering up FREE shipping–No minimum! Just use coupon code FREEVSSHIP at checkout (make sure to check the box that you have an “Offer Code” when you start the checkout process) 

FREE Lunch Tote from Earth Fare
Grab a FREE lunch tote at Earth Fare when you take the Healthy Lunch Challenge. Ends September 17th.

Post-it Durable Tabs & Label Pads FREE Sample
Request a FREE sample of Post-it Durable Tabs & Label Pads. You'll also have the opportunity to register for Post-it Perks when you submit your information.

FREE Bic Velocity Easy Glide Ball Pen Instant Win
Be one of the first 1,000 people each day to register through 9/9, and you'll receive a FREE BIC Velocity Ball Pen!

FREE Goodbelly Organic Tote Bag
Get a FREE GoodBelly Organic Tote Bag when you refer five friends to GoodBelly, plus high-value coupons to get started!

Restaurant.com: $25 Gift Cards starting at just $2
Use coupon code BIG to receive 80% off at Restaurant.com and purchase $25 gift certificates for as low as $2.

M&M’s Brand Coupon Sweepstakes
Enter the M&M's Brand Coupon Sweepstakes daily for a chance to win a FREE single size package of M&M's brand chocolate candies. They will select 507,878 winners after the entry period ends at 11:59 a.m. EST on 8/27/10.

FREE Sample Round Up
View a Free Sample Roundup for the week at Deal Seeking Mom!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Stretching

Friday, August 6, 2010

Preparing Hearts for His Glory: Poetry

Preparing Hearts for His Glory introduces a different classic poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson in each unit. Each week she has to answer questions related to the meaning of the poem (which can be challenging), complete a creative writing lesson based on the poem's style, content, etc, learn something about the poet, and share the poem with another person. Each 12th week term she gets to choose a previously studied poem to memorize. We just started our 12th week, and she has decided to memorize The Swing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thrifty Thursday

I'll be adding more freebies and samples throughout the day to Our Homeschool Reviews, so please check back, or better yet, follow along with Google Friend Connect on the right! 

Free NetiPot Offer Returns
Become a fan of NeilMed Neti Pots on Facebook, and you'll be able to fill out a form to request a FREE NeilMed Neti Pot with mixture packets.  I actually just got mine today in the mail!  :o)

Free Nature Bounty Adult Gummies Sample
Go HERE to get a FREE sample of Nature’s Bounty Your Life Multi adult gummies!

Free S&H at the Disney Store
Get FREE Shipping when you buy any kids clothes or kids accessories at Disney Store. Use the promo code KIDSFREE at checkout. Offer ends 8/11/10.

Free Emergen-C Starter Kit
Emergen-C is offering up FREE Emergen-C Starter kits on Facebook! Just go HERE.

Free Flint River Ranch Pet Food Sample
Head on over here to score a FREE Flint River Ranch dog or cat food sample!

Free Biore Sample from Shoptext
There's a new ShopText freebie available. Simply text Pore to 467467 to receive a free sample of Biore Pore Strips and Scrub!

Post-It Super Sticky Notes Free Sample

Free Cheetos Zingers Sample
Head over HERE to request a FREE sample of their Cheetos Zingers.  You’ll have to log in to your BeSnackReady.com account or create one in order to get this sample.

Free Sample Roundup
Free Sample Roundup by Deal Seeking Mom

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Dancing