Archives For TOS Crew

Technology in Our Homeschool

Heather —  August 30, 2010

em at computer

I think this weeks Blog Cruise question is a good one. The question is:

Do you use technology (iPods, Computers, Videos, Digi. Cams,etc.) in your homeschool?

My Answer? Yes, yes and YES!

I honestly can barely imagine running our homeschool without technology. Especially as I am teaching high school age children, we are very open to incorporating technology.

Right up front, I will address the fact that I do believe too much technology can adversely effect your homeschool. Obviously, it is not great for kids to be sitting in front of a computer all day long. I have found it is important to establish some type of schedule for using some of our technology–and the schedules are not just for the kids! They make me get up and go for that nature walk. And I don’t want to hear whining if it’s time to get off the computer learning games…so it has saved my sanity, to have a plan and set timers.

That being said, I do think computers, ipods, digital cameras…items like ebook readers…all of these things can be wonderful teaching aids. I do think that having a college student and teenagers pushes me to be aware of the technology that exists. It seems like every week, I am hearing about new items and/or programs that exist in the world of technology. I woke up to a new operating system on one of our computers the other day…Ubuntu. Apparently, it would make that computer go faster. I am proud of my tech savvy kids. Need a program installed? Need things rewired or the new router installed…who am I gonna call…? My kids. They are amazing critical thinkers when it comes to hooking up tech gear.

So, let’s get down to exactly what tech stuff we use around here..

We have a couple of laptops and itouches that are networked. The kids also have the xbox and tv setup so they can watch netflix on there. I added another free app the other night so I can watch Netflix on my itouch. Pretty neat. I have a digital camera and I let the kids use that on field trips… we also use the itouch as an ereader. We also use podcasts and audiobooks… dvds and videos to reinforce different subjects we are studying.

Now, how do we use that stuff…

We use the internet in so many ways. Our world is amazing and I love being connected to learning communities…downloading ebooks and maps…teaching ideas on really short notice…whole downloadable unit studies–just with the click of these buttons!

We use many internet sites that have teaching programs–both free and subscription based. I have listed some that are great for little kids on my “Fun” page, which you can access by the tab at the top of this page. My five year old especially likes the Starfall page and Mathletics. But there are so many useful things out there for her age.

My older son takes several classes online. Currently he is using the math program ALEKS (you can see my old review for ALEKS) and he is also taking a Potters School Science Class (Apologia Biology) I like the Potters School because they have a safe community for kids to interact. While using the Potters School setup, my son also uses video and speech software to interact with the class. If you take a look at my “Homeschool Helps” page, you will see many of the items are computer based or have some type of tech “connection.”

We like to find stuff on Netflix that goes with our studies–they have a lot of educational movies on there!

One issue I have with having the older children using the tech a lot is that, while I do trust my children…I understand that they are not perfect and they may be doing something they should not (like messing around on email and facebook) when they are supposed to be working. I want to teach them freedom…but also responsibility. So how does Mom not hover over the laptops while they are working?

I have NOT had much luck with using computer protection systems–I find that while I am trying to block some things I consider evil or whatever, I will end up with many of the sites I NEED blocked. This has been an ongoing frustration for me. Just recently I got a TOS review product to check out called Lanschool. So far I am loving this! I will tell more when I really know how to use it, but so far this program allows me to monitor my kids while they are working and lets us send popup messages back and forth. While the kids are not thrilled I can choose to see what they’re doing, they know we are doing this and so they can take the laptops, etc and go off to another room…just whatever. They actually have a lot more freedom within this structure.

Really, I know I’m just scratching the surface here. There are so many ways to use technology in homeschools. I would love to hear from others, too.

Do you have some favorite ways you incorporate technology into your homeschool? Favorite learning sites? Please tell!

And do go by the Blog Cruise and see what other people have to say on this topic.

Curriculum CleanOut Giveaway

Heather —  August 24, 2010

I have a couple of items for the CleanOut. These are mainly for the older set:) My five year old is hiding everything else! Thanks, Jolanthe, for doing this!


The 2010 Curriculum Cleanout is going on now–If you haven’t stopped by, go check it out! I was looking through our stuff to see what I was willing to part with–because I have only been homeschooling a couple of years, I don’t have too much. BUT, I do have a couple of things!



  • Light Speed Math, Geometry Intro. I really like all our Light Speed DVDs. I’d keep this, but my son says he’s done…This one has video and a digital workbook. You can see the item, here. Value: 14.98

Another Math! (Apparently I’m not covetous of my Math Curriculum)


I liked all of these, but my kids are done with them. If you want to enter, just leave me a comment saying which item or items you are interested in!

For additional entries:

  • Sign into my reader
  • sign into my Google Friend Connect
  • Follow me on Twitter (quinnschilling)
  • “Like” Faith, Family and Fun on Facebook
  • Give me an entry into one of your giveaways! (I’m serious! I see so many good giveaways, but I always run out of blogging time. And, I could use a bit of luck. Add an extra entry comment if you add me:)

TOS Blog Walk, Week 8

Heather —  August 19, 2010
I enjoyed this gorgeous walk yesterday.

I enjoyed this gorgeous walk yesterday.

I have to say, this week on the TOS BlogWalk is a great week. For one, I get a turn!

Also, I recognize more than a few veteran bloggers and homeschoolers who have really fun and useful sites. So, take a peek and get some fresh ideas for your homeschool…

1. Ramblings from the Crazy House 2 –This homeschool mom of many has a lively and fun personality. Enjoy some ramblings!
2. Chicagoland Homeschool Network — This site is run by a one of the most gentle and kind Christian Moms I know online–and she is a mom to a pile of little ones. Be inspired!
3. Marine Corps Nomads — You will enjoy a stop over here–meet Munchkin and D, learn about gluten free living and military life….enter some great giveaways and enjoy wonderful photography.

4. Faith, Family and FunYou are here:) I know–it IS a hodgepodge of stuff. I try to focus, but there is always so much to learn about and write about! (And, I love getting products to review for my family — and to share through giveaways with yours)

5. Books and Bairns — I somehow do not know Mary Grace well, but her site is beautiful and she is also a mom to many, with a number of adopted children. Very interesting to read about their lives!
6. Chatter, Clatter and Things That Matter — Meet Heidi and her family–she has some fantastic reviews, tons of homeschool helps, and some adorable kids.
7. Canadianladybug Reviews! — This Canadian Homeschool Mom has great reviews and giveaways. Check out her Lobster Network, which makes it easy to share homeschool materials of all kinds.
8. Life at oak Grove — Enjoy stories about Canadian Ladybug’s cute little kids here:)
9. Home Sweet Home(school) — Get some practical homemaking, homeschooling tips here.
10. a glimpse of our life — I love Jennifer’s blog design. Enjoy lots of homeschool stories and personal blog posts here as well as great reviews.

TOS Crew Blog Walk Week 7

Heather —  July 29, 2010


Hmmm, here is the TOS Crew Blog Walk Week 7 already!

I have no exciting homeschool tips to go with this list of blogs…or even a finalized curriculum to show off. In fact, I am sitting at the computer, surrounded by catalogs.

Yes, I am one of those people who are still finalizing my plans for the upcoming school year. So bear with me and I will blog through and finalize our schedule…right now!

I feel really good about Sweet Honey. We will be doing Classical Conversations, Cycle 2 (CC), MathUSee, Mathletics, some All About Spelling… and some Mystery of History (I was not going to include that this year, but she asked for it!–that shows how much kids enjoy this curriculum). We will most likely add in some lapbooks and unit studies…maybe some review items for fun. I have a horse unit study from Amanda Bennett sitting waiting for her–I know she’ll enjoy that type of thing.

With her, I think I will go very slowly aside from the CC and see what her pace is. So far, she is a very eager student–she grasps ideas quickly and really enjoys the work–so teaching her is ridiculously easy. For her, I have no problem finding stuff to teach or do…the problem is giving her too much!

With Chef Kid, I plan to really focus on Math and Science this Semester. Last year, he covered quite a bit of History and Literature…lots of electives. We really did too many different things for my comfort. I want to scale back and focus.

He will continue doing ALEKS and take an online Apologia Biology with The Potter’s School. We will do some Mystery of History and Literature, and French. If we only do those, he will still be in good shape, following a General College Prep course of studies. And, I need to figure out how to help him pursue his dream of being a chef….

So, there I, We, have it!

And, this week’s Blog Walk actually has tons of smart, funny, veteran homeschoolers, so be sure to browse their sites and get some good tips!

1. Closing Time — this is a gorgeous blog
2. One Blessed Mamma— tons of curriculum reviews
3. El Cloud Homeschool: Busy Minds, Busy Hands, Busy Feet— this blog belongs to my FM from last year on the Crew!!
4. Alive in Spirit— a friend from last year’s crew…
5. Ozark Rumblings–another friend from the crew–so glad you are feeling better!
6. Army of 5–how does she have time to blog? She is a vet and homeschool mom, and I love her horse photos
7. Fenced In Family–another smart and busy writer mama
8. Debbie’s Digest–a kind and funny lady who has lots of resources. I love the new look of her blog
9. Footprints in the Butter –Honest talk from a busy mom with some really smart kids
10. Got Chai?–one of my favorite people! Denise, a lovely ballerina, talks about fitness, her family and homeschooling-all the while keeping you laughing….

* FYI-If you have any ideas for or questions about our curriculum, shoot me a comment. And if anyone has any curricula that would “go” with the Classical cycle 2, I’d be interested in hearing from you!


She's good on a trip...but she could be happier!

You know, many days, I will say to the kids, “today is a gift-let’s savor it and enjoy it, consider it a present”

But how many days do I show my child or friends the delight of a gift? How often do I hand them a surprise complete with ribbons and bows to untie, treats to enjoy?

When I downloaded Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others, I thought about this quite a bit. In all my practical, frugal homeschooling, I can be very efficient. I can make healthy meals and pay attention to my children…I can teach my children.

But, I know that, if asked, my children would not remember me as a marvelous, spontaneous gift giver.

My dad’s father died when I was very young. I remember just a bit about him. And, the one thing I remember is that he always had a surprise for me when I saw him. He would have a bit of candy or something—and would play the “which hand is it in?” game with me.  Such a simple little thing—but to a four year old, it was magical, in a world full of busy adults. Of course, Grandparents often do this. But, at some point, it seems like we often lose that ability to give a good gift. I’ll do that at Christmas, or birthday…

And, what most often stops those of us who don’t give sparkly, fun, unexpected gifts? Personally, I think it is because it takes a lot of creativity and often, money. And, I often do not have an abundance of either!

Oh well. Now, I can do better. Now, I have some creative tricks up my sleeve.


Now, this ebook I downloaded is entitled Travel Kits: a Simple Way to Bless Others….and the basic concept is that you can do some special little baskets and surprises and such for an upcoming trip.

You can do tons of things to help keep kids occupied on a long trip and for a lovely surprise… Carpe Diem!

I think it is a magical idea. And I was really pleased to read the ebook. What really shocked me was HOW MANY great ideas were in the book. There are 93 pages full of ideas! There were pages on choosing a theme for your gifts…to making this work for large families and big groups…and so many of the ideas made me say, huh. Why didn’t I think of that already?

One little idea I especially liked had to do with candy treats. I really try to give kids healthy food when traveling, otherwise, mine get so restless…but this idea is a gem—you can give the children candy, but in little containers where they are in charge of eating a bit every once in a while…and the way you package these makes the child want to do it!

I also love the idea of wrapping a bunch of small gifts and letting a child open these at certain points on the trip. You can decide when they can open the gifts using fun criteria, like:

You could open presents when you . . .

  • Cross a state line.
  • Stop for gasoline.
  • Spot a certain type of sign (speed limit sign, McDonald’s sign, sign with a state name in it, etc.).
  • Spot the name of a certain city on a sign.
  • See the odometer reach a certain number.
  • Hear a certain song or advertisement on the radio.
  • See a particular animal (e.g., horse, cow, eagle, dog, possum, goat, etc.).
  • Can recite a designated Scripture verse without error.
  • Finish reading the next chapter in a book.

Bingo with presents!

Anyway, I recommend this ebook. Use it as it is meant to be used (for traveling) or even use it to jump start your gift giving skills, like I am!

Here is what my little one is getting next time we have a big trip in the car–I am saving it for now and will be wrapping the items and doing a real surprise! I got all the little things at Target in the dollar bin. Some were even 50% off the dollar. I did not come up with a mighty theme, but, hey, I got it started and stored…..


Now, I am going with the theme of getting ready for school...and saving our memories...bubbles and headbands just because:)

OK. There really are too many ideas for me to tell you all about it. But, you can go to a sample of the ebook and check it out—and this includes the index!

Or, just go and download yours for $12.45. To download or read more, go to The OldSchoolhouse Store, here.

To see what my TOS crewmates have to say, click here!

A download of Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others was provided to me for my review and I have given my unbiased opinion.

Sailing north of Stuart Island

Image by mark.aaserud via Flickr

Well, The OldSchoolhouse Crew (TOS) journey for 2010-2011 has begun!

You will be seeing crew homeschool reviews pop up this week and hopefully, be able to learn about some practical, useful and fun curriculum.

The crew journey last year was a blast. I got to try out tons of new learning products and meet lots of great people. To check out some reviews from last year or to see why we homeschool, you can click on my Homeschool Helps Tab. I can’t wait to see what I’ll be reviewing this year…

This time around, I am also a First Mate with a mini-crew! I’d love to welcome these ladies to the crew and introduce them to my readers. Please check out their blogs for homeschool advice and inspiration.

Here’s our mini-crew logo. We are using an old sailing term “Know the Ropes,” because all of the ladies on this mini-crew are veteran homeschoolers who will be wise reviewers….they do Know the Ropes!

April at  Heartfelt Homeschooling
Denise at  Light, Liberty and Learning
Kimberly at  Until The Day Dawn Weblog
Sarah at  Ahoy Maties, My Homeschool Crew Reviews and 212 Mom

Watch for our logo and some great ideas for you and your family!

Purposeful Reading

Heather —  July 16, 2010
This one will read with me:)

This one will read with me:)

A good blog friend of mine, Annie Kate over at Tea Time with Annie Kate wrote a post today that reminded me of one of the reasons I love reading her blog…because her actions as a homeschool mom–and just as a person–are purposeful, considered and thoughtful.

Why do her posts strike such a chord for me? Well, I think it is that I tend to rush around a bit too much for my own liking, and have trouble sometimes, just sitting down and accomplishing things that I really want to do that take a bit of that sort of consideration and restfulness.

Anyway, today Annie Kate’s post was about keeping a list of books she has read, and participating in a meme that another blog friend, Kristin, over at A Day In The Life, is doing, called 52 Books in 52 weeks.

Not only did I absolutely love the list of read alouds Annie Kate included in her post, but because it is Summer, I was kind of struck by the meme. Hey, I want to do that, my mind just yelled. Which is funny, because I had seen that meme before, and thought Kristin was great for doing it…but I was too busy to really hear or care.

You can also go to the 52 books website...

go to the 52 books website...

Now, with Emma’s scare and diagnosis of epilepsy behind me, all the kids school, and whatever else seemed to happen to me–I’m pretty sure I’ve blocked some stuff out–it really has been a horrible year– basically what I now call my “lost Spring,” …now that’s behind me, and the book lover in me wants to read, wants to make a list, wants to sit down with ice tea and lemonade and do a read aloud, for God’s Sake!

There. I feel better. So, deep down, what appeals to me in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks meme is not whether or not I actually read 52 books. It is that I pay attention to an activity I love, and make a record of some of that….and especially that I add some read alouds, read lazily but with purposefulness, to any remaining babies who will sit with mom and listen…

51dzP4iA3lL._SL300_Wish me luck. If you want in, please join up. Take a look at Kristen’s and Annie Kate’s lists. Sit on the couch and read more than just “The Pigeon Wants a Puppy” by Mo Willams (we LOVE that one, but that’s like a warm-up-:)

If you have any ideas for great read alouds, please leave me a comment!

Anyway, this post kind of answers the 52 book question of the week–what makes me want to read a book? I always want to! I just have to make time. And, here’s a link to one of my reviews to get me started: Wholesome and Fun Summer Read For Teens, a review of Trouble With Treasure, by Susan Marlow.

TOS Blog Walk, Week 4

Heather —  July 9, 2010
Pacific Princess, aka "The Love Boat&quot...

Image via Wikipedia

Has it already been a month that the TOS Crew has been blog walking?? Time is going by so quickly…so many good blogs to peek at. Here are the  TOS Crew Blogs for this past week–hope you find some you really enjoy!

1. King Alfred Academy
2. Confessions of An Organized Homeschool Mom
3. Curriculum Reviews from Oak Creek Farmhouse
4. I Can’t Decide
5. My Life on A Taffy Pull
6. Losing My Tale
7. Made in His Image
8. Serenades and Solace
9. Our Village is a Little Different
10. SisterTipster’s Tell’n It!

I’d also love it if some of my homeschooling readers who blog would drop me a comment or an email about their blogs–I think it would be fun to highlight some of yours as well!