Monday, August 30, 2010

There is more than one way to teach handwriting.


I recently had a great opportunity to meet with Rand Nelson from Peterson Directed Handwriting.   He is so personable and completely willing to answer any questions and he offers online training. 

I received the cursive E book versions.  He gives you the basic strokes needed to learn all the letters, you then have your children learn, practice and refine these strokes (movements).  Then you move onto letters in the same format, learn, practice, refine. 

One cool thing about this company is that they can teach you handwriting on the computer. 
You need a computer and a Wacom Tablet.  They sell a software version called PDF By Hand.  Which really looks like a fun way to learn. 

An amazing thing about Peterson is that you can see ALL levels of the e-books here before you purchase any of them.  Which is really pretty convenient.  I mean how many companies let you completely see their material before purchasing? 

I received the Cursive E-books, however, they sell such a wide variety of products.  They even have complete pre-bundled kits per grade level.  Here is a sample of the 1st grade Homeschool kit.  They sell anything and everything you could want to teach handwriting, such as pencils of different sizes, pencil grips, position guides, teacher guides, workbooks, wall charts, even live personal training sessions!

At first their website was a little overwhelming to me.  It is just so full of information, but after a couple visits of varying lengths of time, I know realize what a valuable resource it is.  Whether you purchase their products or not, it is just a wealth of information.

While Emily already learned her cursive letters she had mentioned to me that she would really like to improve her handwriting.  I thought what an opportunity.  This is just the kind of product for that.  It does not just teach how to write the letters, it teaches how to train your muscles to write legibly.  Emily loved this handwriting, because she could see a big improvement after just a few times of practicing.  I have secretly always wanted to improve my handwriting as well, so I was going to give this a try for myself.  This is not a rigorous program, it only takes 10 minutes a day, consistency was key for us.  5-10 minutes a day every school day.  And we noticed a difference rather quickly.
Emily’s side by side pictures of the roll top and round top strokes.
Day 1                                 Day 5
DSC03160  DSC03161

Alyson’s side by side pictures letter “t” “i” “s” “u”
.DSC03158 DSC03159

I could tell a difference in both of our handwritings over time. 
There are four levels of cursive.  Each book talks about technique and each stroke used.  What I did was print off the stroke pages every day.  (Yes, that was alot of paper, but it worked.) And each day we would also practice a letter.  I have heard of other people laminating them, or putting them in a sheet protector and using dry erase markers to cut down on printing and paper costs.  We chose not to do that, because we wanted the feel of the paper and pencil as we worked on our handwriting.

The first book is for beginners, it introduces you to the letters and the strokes

The second book is more of a letter/stroke refinement book.

The third book is even more refinement.

The fourth book it perfecting your handwriting.

Each E-book for a single homeschooling family license is $19.95.

To see what other crew members are saying check out our crew blog!

{I received these handwriting E-books free of charge for my honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are mine.  Your experience may be different.}

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Using technology to teach.

This weeks blog cruise is about using technology to teach.

Yes, I use technology to teach.  I feel that I have to teach my kids how to use technology, and the best way is to use it.  So why not teach them two things at once. 

The technology I use most is the internet. 
We do have some of our favorite websites that have educational games on them. 

I also use some video games.  Katey has a Leapster.  Tommy and Emily have Nintendo DS’.  They have educational games, and some just for fun. 

I do download educational songs on their Ipods.  Such as skip counting songs.  They do also have non-educational songs on their Ipods as well. 

I do also use video’s to teach.  Sometimes we watch a show about a subject we are learning.  (We really like The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel.)

I do usually use this technology as a reward.  It works for us!

I also use technology such as the internet for me to learn how to teach things and get ideas from.

To see what others are saying about using technology in their homeschools check out the rest of the blog cruisers HERE!

There are some amazing resources out there!  

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Game Day!


In theme with our week we had a “game day.”  Where all we did all day was play games.


We played “Totally Gross” A fun science game.


We played “Topple” A balancing game.


We played “50 States Trivia” with some of our state flashcards. 


We really enjoyed being with each other, and playing these games.  Today was definitely one of those days when I realize THIS IS WHY I HOMESCHOOL.  To be able to be with my kids and enjoy moments like these!


I think I will schedule more games, or game days into our schooling.  Everybody was a good sport whether winning or losing.  And I do feel that we learned new things today. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Not a typical school day!


As continuing with our fun week off.  We went to the Water Park on a school day!  This was so nice.  There were no lines, and plenty of shade.  We were able to enjoy completely enjoy ourselves. 


There were huge, I mean huge buckets of water that would drop on you.   I was unaware of where these buckets dropped at.  When we first got there, I went to take a picture of Katey coming down a slide, and WHAM! A bucket dropped on my head.  Drenched me, my camera, Tyler, who I was holding.  UGHH!  Anyway we played all day.  I kept checking my camera.  And nothing.  Then finally toward the end of the day, I got it, I got it to work! 


Katey on one of the smaller slides. 


Waiting for the bucket to drop. 


Waiting for the BIG Bucket to drop. 


The big bucket.


The bucket dropping.


And again!


I didn’t dare go back in with my camera to get pictures of them on the slides.


I bought my tickets a while ago from Screamin’ Daily Deals.  I paid less than half price for our tickets.  I bought them knowing I was going to wait until public school started and my husband would take a day off work, so we could go during the week. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Not Back to School Party!


Our homeschool Co-op hosted a “Not Back to School Party” on the day the public schools near us started school.    While we have been back to school for a few weeks now, we took the day off to go.  We had a BLAST!

They had some soccer coaches there to teach the kids some soccer skills.



They had a really cool playground that all the kids loved playing on.

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We will definitely be going back to this park.

We actually took this week off of school and are having a Not Back to School Week.  Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nothing like a good time at the County Fair!


My entire life we have been going to the fair, State and County.  We even travel to other counties to take part in their fairs. 


This year we have been extremely busy during fair season, but we still managed to make it to our county fair. 


Opening Night we went to the Demolition Derby. 

They did this example of your brain on drugs and alcohol.  (The Slug Bug was a brain, and all the derby cars were labeled; drugs, alcohol, etc)


There were two rollovers in the main event.  Luckily no one was hurt!

DSC03068 DSC03071


I think that there is so much learning opportunity at fairs, (and alot of it is FREE).  However we did not do to many educational things at this fair this year.  Not everything we do has to be educational, right?


I hope that everyone supports their local fair, and festivities!  

We did have alot of fun at our County Fair. 


DSC03109  DSC03093


We rode some rides and saw some really big tractors.   


Then…….. the camera battery died.  


We did plenty of other fun stuff too. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homeschooling is expensive, or is it?

I honestly often wonder how I afford to homeschool.

It can be as expensive as you can imagine.  There are people that spend more money on homeschooling than the average tuition to a private school.  There are many expensive curriculum packages, even putting together your own curriculum can be expensive. 

Now, I don’t have that kind of money.  I also don’t think that more expensive always means better.  I am NOT saying these are not good, each person needs to choose what is best for their family. 

For me expense is a HUGE factor in how I make my decisions.  

Here is a list of some of my favorite resources that are easy enough on my budget.




BLOGS- some of my favorites are Latter Day Homeschooling, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Homeschool Creations, and Our Busy Homeschool

THE INTERNET- Some of my favorite websites are actually all listed on a local Elementary School’s website.  Check Elementary School websites near you.

YARD SALES & THRIFT STORES – They usually have great prices on books and everything really.

Now I do purchase curriculum in subjects I feel necessary, however I do take price into consideration. 

I did rework my budget in order to be able to afford homeschooling.  I had to cut back in some areas. 

I have also recently thought about having some type of fundraiser for my homeschool.  You know like selling cookie dough or something.  

My scheduling also helps me to afford homeschooling by not having to buy everything all at once.

Check out what others are saying about The Cost of Homeschooling HERE.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A day in my house

This weeks theme over at Heart Of The Matter is A day in the life of…


So I would like to start out with our schedule.  Which we do usually stick to.   I am not good at sticking to times, however I do stick to a routine.  If I fall out of routine (or if I let someone else fall out of routine) the entire house suffers. 


We all wake up between 8am and 9am.  Breakfast is usually on your own, (cereal, toast, waffles, fruit, etc) Whoever is around when Katey is ready, helps her.  After breakfast each person starts with their own individual routine.  Which includes getting ready for the day, and a few simple chores.


When done with that you begin school.  We use a form of workboxes.


  Around 12ish everybody cleans up their things and we break for lunch.


  I cook lunch, while they each do some more small chores, such as sweeping the hardwood floor, switching over laundry, (just nothing in the kitchen).  After lunch everybody loads their own dishes in the dishwasher and we do any group learning for the day, such as bible, read alouds, art, history, science.


  When we are done with that, or when Dad comes home we clean up and just have free time.  I cook dinner and we all eat together. 


If we have any evening activities planned we go to those. 


Around 8pm, we start are evening routine.  Which includes showers, taking care of any clothes on your beds.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Painting Rocks in Nature.

We decided the weather was just right to do some schooling outside.  We have been studying art and creativity quite a bit lately.  We decided to get our craft totes out and go outside.  At first we had no idea what we were going to do.  We began to look around and think.  We saw some medium size rocks in our yard.  We thought it would be fun to paint them.  


We decided there was no rules.  Do whatever you want with the supplies and the rocks. 


All of us decided to paint them.


I added some embellishments. 


We cleaned up and left them out to let the paint dry on the grass. 

Then that night Paul turned the sprinklers on and washed all the paint off.  Oh well, that’s what we get for leaving them out.  At least we have these pictures and the memories.  Now we will  get to redo them. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Congratulations on losing 100lbs!

My brother-in-law Matt has lost over 100 lbs since January of 2010!  That’s 7 months people.  (He had met his hundred pound mark the middle of July.  We had planned on having a 100 lb party for him at Texas Roadhouse.  (His favorite restaurant) It took us this long to be able to get everyone together. (out of town, working etc)
If you are wondering his secret I will tell you that it was NOT surgery!  It was plain old hard work, DIET AND EXCERSISE!  In the beginning he was going to the gym for about 15 minutes a day. That was all he could handle.   Now he is going about an hour each day.  The diet he is on is called Medifast.

Here is his "before" picture.


Here he is now.  He says he would still like to lose 100 more!  (How funny is it that he is wearing the same shirt.)

While we were at the restaurant it happen to be kids night.  They had some activities going on outside.  DSC03037 
The girls painted magnets.
And I drew with chalk. 

Matt, we are all so very proud of you!  We have seen all the hard work you have put into this, and all the sacrifices you have made!

While we were there we celebrated a birthday as well.  Paul’s Grandma turned 91!  She even got up on the saddle for us to give her a BIG BIRTHDAY YEE HAW!
Happy Birthday Grandma Rita! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Emily sang the Star Spangled Banner!

What an AMAZING night for Emily!

My kids have been BMX Racing for a few months now, and at every race they have someone sing the Star Spangled Banner.  Emily asked, "How do you get to sing?  So we went and asked at the registration booth!  They said she could do it! 

She sang it with another girl that had wanted to as well!  That helped for her to be less nervous. 

{sorry about the video, I was trying to run over there so I could get to it her in time, and I was a little late}
She said she can’t wait to sing it again!
I am so proud of her! 

She also got third place in the main event!  We are so proud of her. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Little Red Hen

I have heard of a type of teaching called Five In A Row.  While I don’t have the lesson plans yet, I thought I would try it out on my own.  From what I gather, you read the same book every day for a week, and choose different activity to go along with it each day. 


The book we chose to do first is The Little Red Hen.


The first day we baked pretzels, and that everyone needed to help, even with the clean up.  We also talked about how easy it was for all of us, and how much harder it would be if it was just one of us. DSC02988  DSC02999

We are not the best pretzel shapers, but we didn’t care, they were so good that they were gone within seconds.


We learned about farm animals.  We played with Katey’s farm toys, and acted out the story.  We practiced our animal names and sounds, and talked about what each animal’s farm job is.  (such as goats for milk, chickens for eggs, sheep for wool, cow’s for milk, etc)


While I didn’t come up with a weeks worth of activities, I really think that doing something that went along with the book as well as reading it more than once really helped my children get the lessons the book taught.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Student Pictures

Not Back to School Blog Hop

This weeks theme over at Heart of The Matter is Student Pictures.

I am lucky enough to know someone with a very nice camera.  I had asked him back in May to take some family portraits for me.  He graciously said he would.  We went down over to a nearby college campus to get some personality shots.  They all turned out great.  In fact I went a printed my favorites and burned the rest onto a cd and gave them to my Mom for Mother’s Day.  She loved the gift.

So without further ado, here are my children and their school pictures for 2010-2011.
Katey 5K
IMG_2873 IMG_2806
Tommy 11/6th                             Emily 10/4th

Tyler 1

My advice for the new homeschooler.


What advice do you have for those considering homeschooling, or just starting out?


My advice would be to prioritize what you want for your children.  As an example, my priorities are

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with me
  3. Character
  4. Academics

Then base your homeschooling style and curriculum choices around your priorities.

Now for me having academics last does not mean I want dumb children.  It just means that I look for those other qualities in curriculum first. 

My next advice would be to start out slow.  With the basic subjects first.  Reading, Writing, Math.  As you get the hang of it, you will know when you are ready to add in other subjects, such as History, Science, Art, etc.  However, you can about those subjects through reading, writing, and math as well. 

Next, Do NOT compare yourself or your children to others.  I am sure you will hear that from most homeschoolers out there.  We are all different in different situations.

Know that you will have bad days, everybody does, including school teachers.  Know that things will not always go as planned, you may be ahead of schedule, but most likely you will be behind.  It’s ok.   

When I was considering homeschooling I did alot of research, ALOT.  I checked out every book from the library on homeschooling. My favorite book was Homeschooling, Take a Deep Breath, You Can Do This.  I searched the internet, read blogs, etc.  I even began after-schooling, before I pulled them out of public school.  That way we could all get our feet wet with it before jumping in.   I also know that if things change and it really doesn’t work out.  The public school will be there.  However, I do not live day to day thinking that I want to send them back.  It just made me feel more comfortable in the beginning.  Now, I don’t even think of sending them back.  However, I have enrolled Katey in public school Kindergarten for a half day.  I have various reasons for doing so.  However, she will still be doing homeschool after school.  So we get that quality time together. 

To see what advice other have, check out The Old Schoolhouse Blog Cruise.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My school room…. umm house.

Well this weeks theme over at Heart of The Matter is your school room

***Update*** Since this post was written we have moved, here is our new school area!

I must say in my house, there is no spare room for a school room.   We just utilize each room in our house.   Alot of things are done in the kitchen, because that is where I have a small bookshelf that I store some supplies.  And recently I have incorporated workboxes into our school and they are also stored in our kitchen.  You can see how I did that here
Sometimes we learn right on the frontroom floor.
Sometimes we use our big picture window in the kitchen as a writing board.  This day we were learning how to play suduko.
We often have “reading picnics” outside in our yard, or at a local park.

My older two children each have a desk and a bookshelf in their rooms, that way if they feel they need to be alone to work quietly.  They can go their.  They also each have their own favorite and current reading books in there.

If we are doing a more active/ loud activity we usually head downstairs to the family room.  (Especially if the baby is napping.)  This was us doing our Mexican Hat dance with history vocabulary words.

I don’t even know if we had a specific room for school if that would work for us. Since I often need to be doing other things around the house as well as helping each child.  There are many days that I do long for a school room, I have often thought about turning our TV room into a school room, but I just don’t know if it would work for us.  I might try that in the future, but for now, this is what works for us.


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