Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

 Praise Song for the Day
By Elizabeth Alexander
Illustrated by David Diaz

This is poet Elizabeth Alexander's poem for Barak Obama's Presidential Inauguration. It celebrates all that has made America and the dreams and hopes that many still have.

"Some live by love they neighbor as thyself,
Others by first do no harm or take no more
Than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national
Love that casts a widening pool of light,
Love with no need to preempt grievance."

Artist David Diaz uses brilliant colors to create images that depict these themes.

This book is definitely worth checking out and sharing with your children.

What books are you reading today?  Care to join us in this weekly ritual?  Add your link below.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 7

If you're reading this (and have been with me from the start) I want to begin with a 'congratulations!'  We have covered a lot of ground and you have completed a lot of work!!  Do you feel ready to start?  Don't worry if you answer isn't a resounding 'YES!' as many of us don't feel quite ready most of the time.  This is ok.  (For those of you who do feel ready count this as another blessing.)

Step 7 is simple.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

No One But You
by Douglas Wood
Illustrated by P. J. Lynch

We always enjoy stories by this author. This is one we don't have in our personal collection.

The message is simple, yet powerful. No one but you can experience your life—the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and 'feels.' Many of us understand this and 'get that.'

But do you also realize that no one but you can do the thing that must be done that only you can do? That thing the world will miss out on unless you do it? This book pushes at that in a way children can understand. Something worth reading and sharing with others.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summer In Review

We've been so busy with so many things that I haven't shared with you several of the fun activities we were able to get into over the summer months.  Now the Autumn is upon us, I wanted to take a moment to post a few, several, no, some photographs of our time learning and growing.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

by Mildred Pitts Walter
Illustrated by Marcia Jameson

In this book the author lays to rest some of the fears people often have about the dark. She points out all the wonderful things that take place in the dark.

 A developing a mother's womb.

 Plants in the earth...

….our dreams.

It sparked some new ways of thinking about the darkness for my children. I think it may do the same for yours.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How Can I Afford Homeschooling?

For many homeschooling families this subject isn't always at the forefront of the initial decision to homeschool. If you're still making the decision to homeschool or have just thought that homeschooling can be an option for your family, it's important to note that there are expenses to homeschooling--some you may not have considered.

So, just how can you afford homeschooling?  Let me share some ideas.

Whether you plan to purchase an 'all-in-one' curriculum or not, there are monthly fees for items and activities you'll want to do with your children that if you aren't aware of can put a strain on any budget.
Here are just a few of the purchases homeschooling families regularly make:

  • Tickets to museums and other site-seeing venues
  • Gas for vehicles and/or passes for public transportation 
  • General supplies: crayons, pencils, paper, etc.
  • Group/Individual Classes such as swimming, gymnastics, music lessons, etc.

These are typically yearly costs:
  • Membership fees for homeschool groups and/or co-ops
  • Memberships to online resources such as teacher resource sites and gaming sites
  • Homeschool Conference Fees

Just as setting family goals, deciding upon a homeschooling method/approach and mapping out a schedule that matches your family's ebbs and flows are important, figuring out just how your family will afford to homeschool is crucial.

I've learned from experience and from listening to others that any family can afford to homeschool.  No matter what your budget is. The key is to plan out a budget that will accommodate it.

A word to the wise: You and your partner should have a detailed conversation about this subject. Both of you should know what the expectations are and how it will affect the overall household budget. This is one of the ways that knowing your family's goals can be used right away in planning for homeschooling.

A typical homeschooling family lives on one income. Adjustments are made, on a regular basis, to make this work. Perhaps you already know first hand that car-sharing, meal planning and watching your spending on expenses are all a part of this balance. With more and more families choosing to homeschool, you can now find single parents, full-time working parents, business owners and other entrepreneur types finding creative ways to make homeschooling work for their families, too.

Because it is important for each individual family to come to terms for themselves on what matters most, I will offer you some guiding questions to help you determine how best to create a budget that can include homeschooling.  I will then offer some ideas as to how you might make it work.
  • What is your monthly income?
  • What are your monthly expenses?
  • Can all of these expenses or, at least, your basic needs, be met on one income or do you need both incomes to make it work?
  • Are there expenses that you could eliminate? (For example, could you lower your budget for gas by using public transportation?)
  • Are there extras in your budget that you'd be willing to cut or eliminate to homeschool? (For example, can you limit or eliminate your cable bill, dining out budget, or clothing allowance?)
  • Have you thought about just how much it will cost for you to homeschool your children (see bring list of expenses above)?
  • Have you considered what homeschooling can/will do to your current budget?
There are books that offer homeschooling parents creative ideas and ways to homeschool for free or nearly free. I strongly encourage you to read the ones you can find at your public library.  Here are a few titles you might check out:
  • Homeschool Your Child for Free by LauraMaery Gold & Joan M. Zielinski
  • Homeschooling On a Shoestring by Melissa L. Morgan
  • Homeschoolers' Guide to Free Teaching Aids by Kathleen Suttles Nehmer
There are also whole websites, blogs and Pinterest boards devoted to helping homeschoolers find free homeschooling materials. Explore your options before settling on purchasing any curricula or other materials. A simple 'homeschool for free' search online will bring up lots of these sites.

If you find that you do need supplies, which, you will, always look for deals. Wait until the traditional school year begins as supplies are lower then.  If your state offers a tax-free holiday weekend, take advantage of those dates and shop then. Watch your local stores for clearance items. I am always surprised at just what I can find right after the 'Back to School' time has passed. Last year, I was able to purchase most of the supplies we are still using now (pencils, erasers, notebooks, crayons, glue sticks, etc.) by waiting until they were marked down further.

If you decide to use a curriculum, attend used book/curriculum sales. These sales are hosted by homeschool groups and organizations. They typically take place toward the end of the traditional school year (April, May or June) and in some places at the end of the summer (July and August). There are also online sites where homeschooling families sell curriculum/resources throughout the year. Some of these sites require a small fee to join, yet there are many others that do not--go that route whenever possible.

What else can you cut to lower your budget?

Meal planning is all the rage now. If you're anywhere near Pinterest, you know exactly what I'm talking about (smile). From freezer meals and meal sharing, to cooking from scratch and eating clean--all are ways to reduce the amount of money you spend monthly on food.  Many families find ways to better use the money they spend on food, thus creating money that can be devoted to homeschooling costs.

Thrifting: Purchasing clothing at thrift stores and/or consignment sales is another option for creating funds for homeschooling. Just as there are used book sales throughout the year, consignment sales are schedule around those same times too. Many growing families use this option since children typically grow a size a season. You can also find books and sometimes curriculum at this places too.  Keep your eyes open. 

Trading and bartering services with another family or going in on bulk items from a 'big box' store can also help cut your costs. There may even be co-ops in your area for this very thing. All you need to do is ask around. You may be surprised at just what the homeschooling families in your area are aware of and willing to share with you.

Using the library as your main resource for books and online resources will definitely lower your costs. Librarians are some of the first persons you'll want to make friends with as they can help you locate many things throughout the library system and online. I am thankful for the number of resources my library system carries that are COMPLETELY FREE and available to anyone with a library card.  This one way has helped keep my homeschooling budget low.

Asking family members and close friends to support your homeschool financially is another option. I'm sure that this would be a difficult request to make in that form, however, you could share your wish list of items and request that family/friends give those as gifts throughout the year.  I have asked family members (grandparents and aunts/uncles, mainly) to give us school resources for birthdays and holidays.  Initially, not all were on board, but now we regularly receive books and art supplies. We've also received games and other interactive learning resources.  I have also requested family memberships and magazine subscriptions as gifts. Over the course of this year we've benefited from instruments and lessons--all gifts from family and friends. The people you and your children matter to can assist in keeping your budget low.

Opting for yearly memberships to museums is a way to cut your costs for field trips and other outings. These memberships, although a big investment upfront, will usually pay for themselves by the second or third visit--depending on the size of your family.

Joining other families either through a homeschool group or co-op for group memberships and group discounts is yet another way to take advantage of personal savings.

I'm sure there are several of you reading this that are already finding and creating ways to make homeschool work for you.  I'd love to hear what you've found to work for your family.  I'm sure others reading this would too. Take a moment to comment below so we can continue sharing ideas in making homeschooling affordable to everyone interested.  Thanks in advance!

Be well.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

Peace, Baby!
by Linda Ashman
Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vreithoff

This book has a simple message—instead of fussing, fighting, pushing, shoving—make way for Peace, baby!

The story is written in rhyme and younger children will enjoy the predictability of "Peace, Baby!" at the end of each situation.

I think I enjoyed it a bit more than my three—but that may be because this is definitely a preschool book (and I am a 70's baby—smile).

Check it out to help your little ones with ideas as to other ways to interact with other children and adults in their lives.

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

The Granddaughter Necklace
by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
This is a precious story about a family tradition of passing down a crystal bead necklace. Each grandmother in the story passes it down to her granddaughter and relays the stories of the women before her who once owned it.

This tells the story of another family who can trace their heritage back seven (7) generations. Quite a powerful thing!

The book ends with the author looking forward to sharing this necklace with her own daughter.

Another book I highly recommend.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Post on Colorful Bloggers Network

Good Morning!
I'm excited to announce that I'm today's guest blogger on the Colorful Bloggers Network.
My topic is how to manage your homeschooling schedule.
I'd love to have to hop on over and take a read.
Please comment there to let me know you stopped by.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 6 Finding Support

One of the most important steps in homeschooling, once you get goal setting out of the way and settle into a homeschooling method, is finding support from others.

I believe too many of us think that we can brave the new world of homeschooling on our own. Whether or not you have the support of your family and friends, you cannot under estimate the need to be connected to other homeschooling families. (Now if you have family and friends who also homeschooling, count yourself among the blessed!!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

Show Way
by Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by Hudson Talbott

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not so much because of the story itself, although it is well written and engaging,  but because the author has shared her own story.  She has been able to trace her ancestors back six (6) generations! For those of us who are here in America as a result of slavery, tracing our heritage is a challenge—to put it lightly.

This story shows the importance of those beautiful quilts that were made as a "Show Way" to those who would try to escape to freedom (some made it, some didn't).

I highly recommend this book and plan to add it to our personal library.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 5 Planning

I know this is something I've written about before. The more I learn, from doing and by listening to the experiences of others, I see just how important it is. I also see that not too many of us homeschooling families value it and thus don't give enough time to it. Especially those of us who have been doing it awhile. If teaching is your thing (whether by training or by gifting) it's easy to trust your ability to 'wing-it' or 'go with the flow.' I know this is something I lean on strongly. However, there are subjects and topics that my children are interested in that I don't really know enough to do a lesson justice. As they grow and discover more things, this is actually happening a lot sooner than I had originally thought—and this is where planning come in.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review ::

We are finally back from vacation and I'm doing my best to get back into the swing of things.  It was so nice to be away and offline for awhile.  What's amazing is just how much I have to 'catch-up' on.

I'll start with the review of that I was asked to do a month ago.  Here's the first post about it which gives the statements about the site along with a brief right up about it. 

Please note that there are affiliate links in this post.

Here are the pros of this site that I found for my family:

I really liked that it was fairly easy to set up assignments.  It did take me a moment to figure out just where things were located, but the 'help' video provided on the site was extremely helpful (short & to the point, which is a plus)!

Pretty girl, my eldest, was the first one to start on an assignment.  I liked that the Spelling test 'talks' to her.  I was wondering just how this might work and was pleasantly surprised.

I also like that I control the list of words.  We have been using Spelling Power and this site works wonderfully with what I am already doing.  With Spelling Power students take a spelling test daily and only study words they don't already know.  With, we have a lot more variety in activities that help to reinforce the learning of new words (word searches, fill in the blanks, hang-man).

I really loved the added part of Vocabuarly development.  Spelling is only one part of learning words.  Knowing the meanings of words is also important to me as a homeschooling parent.

We added the app to our iPad & iPods so that each of the children could do a few activities with in their lists simotaneously, thus cutting our time for this subject/activity in 3rds.  I liked that!

I liked that on the report it shows how long it took for the student to complete each activity.  It also shows which words were missed--helping me know which words to reinforce.

There is also a pre- and post-test that can be assigned.

Here are some things I didn't like:

Once an assignment has been made it cannot be changed.  The only thing that can be editated are the students who are to complete it/them.

The App doesn't do the same things as the main site.  I sort of expected it but viewing the 'help' video about how to use it made it appear that it would.  Many of the activities are unable to play/work using the App.  This was a BIG disappointment for all of us.  In addition, the assignments can be completed on the app, however it does not record that they have been completed as part of an assignment (of course, there may be a step I missed but after a month, I have not been able to figure that out).

I've noted that Flash is required to use most of the activities on the iPad/iPod and at this point Flash is unavailable for Mac devices.  This is not's fault but it limited the amount of activities we could utilize and I was disappointed about that.

Despite the cons, I still really enjoyed the site and my children did as well.  It took us a bit longer to get through activities since we had to spread our time using the main PC, but we were able to try out all of the activities that were appropriate for my children in that time frame.

I believe I tested out the premium options for this site so am not sure what the basic membership would cover.  If you'd like more information about this site and the options you have follow this think to to learn more.

Overall, I give this site a 'good' rating.  It's interactive and you control the spelling lists and activities your child must study/complete.  I like it most because it compliments what I'm already using and gives additional 'fun' activities for learning words.

Hope this helps you if you've been interested in checking out

Happy Learning!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 4 Curriculum

It can be one of the harder decisions, once you've decided that you're moving forward with homeschooling. Should you purchase a box curriculum or should you try and put one together on your own?

First, let me say that with so many homeschooling families there is a wealth of information that you can gather from books and searches online. Starting from scratch is actually not something you have to do anymore for there are families doing just what you want to do who have already started down the road in creating the resources or at least cataloging them where you can find them with some ease.

So I guess the choice may be between piecing things together to match your family's needs, interests, and goals or finding a full boxed curriculum that has already done this.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 3 Learning Styles

If you're just joining the How to Plan Series click here to read the previous steps.

So where do learning styles fit into homeschooling? Depending upon which homeschooling method you're looking into for your family, you may be preparing or purchasing curriculum to use with your children. Knowing the ways in which your child/ren process and understand new things can be beneficial in finding appropriate resources and building lessons.

Over the years there have been divisions on just how many there are and what exactly they are. As an educator by training, I've seen them change names as well. You can do your own search on this topic but the two most recent ones I've done I found two lists. One with four learning styles: spatial-visual, kinetic, language-oriented and logical; the other with seven: linguistic, logical, spatial, musical, bodily, interpersonal and intrapersonal.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 2 Homeschooling Philosophies

So you've decided to move forward with your hopes to homeschool your child/children. You've taken the time to write out your goals, your ideas of how you'd like to your family to be. (If you haven't complete this first step, click here to read more.)

Now, take out those goals to look at. Knowing the direction that your family is looking to grow will help make finding methods and styles that work for you.

Homeschooling is as much a lifestyle choice as it is an education alternative. Your beliefs about child development, learning theory and life in general will influence the homeschool philosophy you embrace. Many parents begin homeschooling with a particular style and shift to other methods as they gain experience.

What fits? You know your child/children best and if you don't, you soon will. Every child and family is different. As you've found out in exploring your family's goals. Explore all the options. Talk to other homeschooling families, read books, search the internet, and choose to do what fits your family. As time goes by your style may change...enjoy the ride. And remember—there is no one right answer.

The following is a list of many of the popular approaches to homeschooling. This is not an exhaustive list. For anyone who has been in the homeschooling community, you probably already know how quickly new ideas and styles take shape and are created. I have taken some of the text from and those are marked as such. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

Good Morning!!

We found this book at the library last week and have been reading a story every day.  We haven't yet finished all the stories but will be doing that within a day or so.

This week's book share is The Jump at the Sun Treasury :: An African American Picture Book Collection and includes seven complete books within in it.

They are:
These Hands by Hope Lynne Price, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Can I Pray with My Eyes Open? by Susan Taylor Brown, illustrated by Garin Baker

Say Hey! A Song of Willie Mays by Peter Mandel, illustrated by Don Tate

A Big, Spooky House by Donna Washington, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

Granddaddy's Street Songs by Monalisa DeGross, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Alvin Ailey by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustarted by Brian Pinkney

Celebration! by Jane Resh Thomas, illustarted by Raul Colon

This collections has something for all the readers in your home.  It begins with a picture book and moves on to stories about history and life happens many of us can related to.  I liked that this series brought us new stories, as we'd only read These Hands before.  I really liked Can I Pray with My Eyes Open? and the children liked the call and response in Say Hey! A Song of Willie Mays.  The Boy enjoyed the surprise ending of A Big, Spooky House and both the girls like learning more about Alvin Ailey in this story about him.

What collections of stories do you enjoy?  We'd love to hear! Comment below.

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

We're sharing a book that has been in our personal library for a good while.  The kids have been asking me questions about why we're called 'Black.'  Sweetie-Pie always asks this questions and follows it up with, "because we're not, we're brown."  It's been challenging to give her information that satisfies her questioning.  When reading this book and looking through the photos, I was able to show her that being 'Black' or identifying as 'Black' doesn't actually mean we're that color.

The book is entitled Shades of Black :: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney, Photographs by Myles C. Pinkney.  The words are easy to read and understand with great photographs of children of various shades, eye colors, hair textures.  It's a great way to start talking to your children, whether their of African descent or not, about the variety of people in the world and how each of us brings such uniqueness to the greater community.

We think this is a book you'd enjoy as well.

What are you reading this Monday?  Care to share with us?  Leave a comment below with a link to your post or add the title and author directly.  It's always nice to find new books.

Happy Reading!


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