Archives For education

Photo 11

We had a fun “Box” Day!!

Well, this year I have been very quiet about my curriculum choices. Really, I have been trying to slow down and focus more on our homeschooling. Here is a list of what we are doing at this point:

2nd Grade Curriculum, Emma

  • Sonlight: Core B+C (World History from Creation to the Present)
  • Sonlight: Grade 3 Readers and Language Arts
  • English: All About Spelling, level 2, First Language Lessons
  • Bible: Sonlight curriculum and Little Keepers of the Home
  • Math: Life of Fred, Butterflies
  • Science: Real Science for Kids Pre-level 1, some Apologia
  • Additional History Resources: Mystery of History 2, Veritas Press Cards
  • Physical Education: Ballet
  • Choir

Overall, the biggest change for me this year is using Sonlight. Last year, I felt that all of Emma’s courses just did not mesh together very well and my husband and I decided to look at Sonlight again. This led to me getting the core B+C, which is a one year condensed study of World History. So far, I love the Sonlight. Having everything in one spot and for her exact age is very relaxing to me.

I also ordered the language arts package from Sonlight and I like the readers. I do not like that they cover a whole different time period than the time we are working on with everything else, though. Also, I like the way Margaret Wise introduces grammar with the First Language Lessons very much. So, for now, I am continuing to use the First Language Lessons workbook for our grammar, and using the Sonlight writing program portion of the language arts, and sticking with All About Spelling for spelling because I like that as well. So, the language arts portion is all a bit random, but seems to be working for her.

12th Grade Curriculum, Nick

  • History: US Government
  • English: Wordsmith Craftsman
  • Math: Geometry/Algebra, Life of Fred
  • Science: Apologia, Exploring Creation with Chemistry
  • Elective: College Prep Genius, Prep/Take SAT and ACT. course
  • Foreign Language: Italian
  • Computer Science
  • Physical Education

For Nick, we are kind of down to the wire! He will be taking the SAT soon and he is working on preparing for that. He is doing a lot of Math and writing practice. He is at a point where he could either go onto college or take another year to get ready and take some local classes. We are thinking his SAT scores will help us make the final decision. Should be interesting.

reading resource games

Games make everything more fun!

This Summer has been full of marvelous DOWN time. Aside from cleaning out our school closet and organizing all the paperwork, I have done no official school. Truly, I need the break.

Still, the learning continues. It is funny to see the kids accidentally learning. I find Nick engrossed in Popular Science magazines and Emma pulling out her All About Spelling Board and Science coloring books.  I guess Summer is our delight directed learning time!

With these things in my mind, I jumped at the chance to review a new reading resource from All About Learning Press. This is a full-color supplemental game book, Adventures In Reading with the ZigZag Zebra.

ziggy_supplement_cover__98503_stdEmma first met Ziggy as we used All About Reading (AAR) and All About Spelling (AAS) when she was younger. I continue to use these programs and she really enjoys them. I get no fussing when it is time to do spelling, and the child adores reading.

Anyway, I think my daughter may enjoy using manipulatives much more than I originally thought, as evidenced by how much she likes using the AAS. She loves the magnets and the cards, and the stickers and reward sheets are an extra nice touch.

When using portions of AAR, I feel the artwork is fantastic. I like the hardback books and the obvious dedication to quality. And, on top of all that, the underlying approach to teaching really works.

Can you tell I really like this curriculum?

Well, like I said, when I saw that the company had released a new fun product to go with AAR, I figured it would be good.

And I was not disappointed!

The creativity of some people just amazes me. I got a bright and colorful book of file folder games. There are nine games altogether. Each of the games reinforces skills taught in Level 1 of All About Reading. The games help kids:

“practice important concepts like blending, counting syllables, and recognizing vowels and consonants, and they will have ample opportunity to review the Phonogram and Word Cards from the All About Reading program.”

My daughter and I had a blast cutting out and “creating” our games. The directions are so simple and detailed, I appreciate that. The games are so colorful and truly fun.

making the AAR ziggy game 3

Working so hard! I love her “concentrating” face:)

The more I teach the more I value the things that actually make learning fun and exciting, not just one more chore.

While each of these games goes with a particular lesson, you can also play them just for review and for pleasure. In fact, my daughter is seven, and I was really worried she would be bored by the games because she already does read and is pretty advanced.

making the AAR ziggygame 2

You could also do these yourself and surprise your littles


placing the game parts together

everything has been carefully thought out. All pieces are included and easy to put together

pieces all fit inside folder

pieces fit inside front pocket

i love the game setup

you cannot lose the directions

But, games are great for kids and these were perfect for her. Because of her age, she was able to really participate in cutting and pasting and creating the games and she thinks Ziggy is “awesome”, so overall this was just a good experience for her.

And, she is learning all through the Summer of her own free will!

big brother plays game with em

older siblings help more when it is a game:)

What a great way to make learning fun for your child and yourself. I am already in line for the next one!

Some of the things I really like about Adventures In Reading with the ZigZag Zebra:

  • The price is great for nine (9) games, with each game having a real purpose.
  • Each game reinforces learning. All About Learning Press shares exactly what the kids are learning with each game. (You can see that here)
  • The quality of the games, the paper, the artwork is excellent
  • The pages are perforated for easy removal
  • The directions are super clear, and all pieces are included
  •  The games clean up and store well: you can store the instructions and game pieces in the front pocket provided in the book.
  • The games even have an overall theme of Ziggy traveling the world: you could tie this in with your geography.
  • The mascot, Ziggy, is adorable. My daughter loves this one.

Overall, I think this is a winner. For $19.99 you can add some fun into your Fall schedule with very little work. (in fact, your older kids can easily do any setup)

I also just have to share an old video of when Emma first got a AAR reader:

If you have not tried All About Spelling and All About Reading, I recommend those curriculums so much. They have just worked so well for us. I have to say, this is a subject I put very little time into with great results. Click the link below to find out more:

*I did receive the file folder games for free for my review. I am also an affiliate for All About Learning Press, so if you make a purchase from my links, I will get a bit of money. By all means, please do use my links if you purchase! But seriously, I do like this company very much and am proud to share about it.

**This book is sold separately from other materials in the All About Reading program.

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child using e-reader on iPad

It is Summer! An extra good time to relax and learn while having a good time…

As a home educator and a mom, I really count on technology to provide my kids with all kinds of resources and activities.

The tech resource getting the most use lately in our homeschool and home is my our iPad.

From using safari for quick research, to watching documentaries, to reviewing apps with whiteboards and algebra, my teens get a lot out of the iPad. My youngest really likes the iPad most for watching shows and playing games. I am okay with that, but I try to find at least educational games and things for her on there.

A new e-reading platform launched by Ruckus Media Group called the Ruckus Reader turned our iPad into a fun e-Reader for my baby!

The Ruckus Reader IS the main technology. Within that, there are loads of digital storybooks you can download for your children. Right now, I think there are about 30 titles that work with this format. The titles range from the storybooks to interactive readers (iReaders and eReaders) that have both the story and then games and maybe video as well, and also some of my favorites — the video books, great stories narrated by celebrities.

The titles are basically for kids 3 to 8. You will see old favorites like My Little Pony, Curious George, Crayola. Many publishers are working with Ruckus Reader, so there are many ebooks so far, and more are being added all the time. I just got a notice to go update and get a new ebook that was just added, in fact.

I like that there is a real variety of fiction and non-fiction, and the videos and such. My daughter is already a good reader, so I am not using the app to teach reading so much, but for the younger children, many of the titles are designed to build upon each other and help children learn to read, while the included games actually measure the child’s progress.

You can download Ruckus Reader titles individually, but it is great to download the whole library! The price is very reasonable at $24.99 for six months, as you get access to over 25 titles. OR, you can get the first title in a series for free, then pay $3.99 each or 2 for $5.99. My daughter and I loved getting the entire library, it felt like Christmas downloading like crazy!

Our favorite titles in this Ruckus Reader?

I love, love the SeaWorld Bookshelf. This includes Sharks, Penguins and Whales.

My daughters favorites include My Little Pony and Transformers.

We are both looking forward to one that is coming: Cyberchase!

There is a nice twist on this App, as it keeps track of my child’s progress and emails me updates, called the Reader Meter, weekly.

So what are the Cons?

  1. I worry that I will lose all the ebooks we have if I do not get this again in six months.
  2. I wish all the ebooks would stay under one main icon on my iPad (I hate having lots of icons all over the screen)
  3. Although the technology for the reading is designed around state standards, it is still a new technology. So far, my meter reader is a little off and doesn’t “know” that my child is a good reader. I have seen this with several of our technologies that keep track of childrens progress. It is still a developing technology.

What are the Pros?

  1. I have tons of really well designed eReaders, iReaders and Videos right on my iPad desktop.
  2. With the six month subscription, I have almost 30 ebooks already, o that is less than .99 cents an eReader, iReader or video. And, I will continue to get more.
  3. All are educational in nature and suitable for her age. She does not get frustrated and need help, but sits and plays.
  4. The titles include tons of characters she knows like Curious George and My Little Pony, plus old classic stories that she enjoys.
  5. Most of these titles have options so they can read the book to the child and they lead the child in the games
  6. The reader meter does keep track of what my child spends time on and I can eve email that info to her dad and grandparents (you can set it to email to up to four email accounts)
  7. The App notifies me when new titles are available.
  8. I love the little library shelves in the App. Adorable setup

All in all, I really recommend the Ruckus Reader App. Go take a look! You can connect with Ruckus Reader:



*I received a trial membership for Ruckus Reader in order to do this review. I have given my honest opinion.

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Heather —  September 15, 2011
Loads of FREE Lessons, games for kids

Loads of FREE Lessons, games for kids

You know, Kids seem to respect being asked to earn things. If you just give them things…well, they will take them, usually. But, they are proud when they have earned something.

Somehow, has tapped into finding a way to get kids to want to earn computer games through doing online lessons.

Who knew? You don’t have to hide learning IN games (although many do) you just have to make kids earn things. Have the creators met my Dad?

So, exactly what is BigIQKids game page for kids?

Well, children in grades k-12 can complete interactive lessons designed for their ability level in spelling, math, vocabulary, U.S. states and spelling programs. There is even a new SAT study portion and one of my daughter’s favorites is a section where you can hold Spelling competitions with family and friends and Math.

When I first went to the site, I was not so into the funny artwork. The graphics are big and bold and the site has electronic “tutors” who talk in computerized voices. It is different, but actually pretty cool. This site must have tons of programming and such. It loads super fast and all the lessons are very interactive. The tutors help the students by giving very clear direction on what needs to be done. Children cannot move forward in each lesson until each desired skill is learned. But, they can earn coins to play games in several subjects if they spend a bit of time.

You can use the content on the site in, say, spelling and vocabulary and math. You just choose age/grade levels…or you can import specific things you want your student to learn– like your own vocabulary list.

I like that the program is set up to email tons of information to parents. I have my settings set to get information on what Em does and I got all kinds of emails. For example:

bigiqkids email2

BigIQKids even tells me what to do next:)

Overall, I think this is a worthwhile site that really seems to appeal to children. Many portions of the site are available to use for free! You can also purchase a premium membership.

See what my crewmates have to say about Big IQ Kids.


I received a trial subscription to Big IQ Kids through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.


This week, I have a sort of “nesting” going on. I have a decent feel for what I want to do with the kids for curriculum and main schedule.

In many years, I have kind of “played it by ear” from there. I would know the gist of what we needed to complete that year for my kids to be well educated. But, I also like relaxing on the couch and reading good books, letting the learning come through slow and steady. Through experience.

I don’t like to be bogged down and frustrated by my own high expectations and by schedules and restrictions…so I just called myself laid back and tried to “go with the flow”.

Problem is, I’m not really that laid back. And, as the children get older and my energy wanes here and there –ha! yes, it does– and with five children and two of them being homeschooled, learning over fifteen different subjects, I need some order.

AS IN, I prayed and calmed myself…and it is what it is. I decided I NEED a schedule for survival this year!

I needed a clean bookshelf with a shelf JUST for the current semester’s books.

I needed a shelf for that day!

I needed a clean school closet.

I needed empty workboxes ready to be filled with the right curriculum.

I needed visual confirmation that this was coming together.

I really needed a hard copy schedule in MY hand. I figured I could handle figuring out 9 to 3:30. I still have some openings and may need to increase the time for some subjects, but for now, this helps.  A simple MSWord table document broken down by 30 minute blocks.

Tentative Schedule, Nick 2011

Tentative Schedule, Nick 2011 (click to view)

Tentative Schedule, Em 2011

Tentative Schedule, Em 2011 (click to view)

I decided I even needed to split up the kids classes into even and odd days to focus well on specific studies.

I needed to build in a “run errands” day.

I needed to end school at 3:30 so that emergencies would fit in…and my husband wouldn’t always come home to a room strewn with books and no dinner.

So, while I am doing a strange, laid back mix of curriculum that even includes Illuminations, I now have a tentative schedule.

I have cleared away non-essential schoolbooks. No matter how wonderful I think they are, if I’m not teaching it, it is out of my way.

I think one thing that stopped me from doing our schedule earlier was that I worried “Our” schedule wouldn’t look good enough to others. I was worried every other homeschool mom “had it all together” and our schedule would look silly.

That is NOT what I needed to believe. I have had tons of support from other homschoolers and I know that each of us choose the way for our families and we need to respect ourselves as well as each other.

My schedule works –ha, I think– for me. And that makes all the difference.

I feel GREAT. Ready to tackle actually teaching these things!

Oh, and I also picked these up for the hard days:



Good Luck!


Are you looking to complete your homeschool curriculum for this upcoming year?

I’m in the midst of figuring out exactly what we want to do…it is hard to not overwork my kids, there is so much great curriculum out here!

Anyway, I have more than I need and maybe something here is just what you need to round out your year. So, FOR SALE!

My paypal email is: Shipping is not included. I will ship media mail.

FOR SALE, High/Jr High

  • Exploring Creation with Physical Science. 2nd. edition. Fair condition. Does have some writing, highlighting. Beat up a bit. Will be heavy to ship, add media mail shipping. $65 new, asking $30 plus shipping

Text only.

Text only.

locPositive Action For Christ, The Life of Christ. Includes Teachers Manual hardback binder, Full Color Students Manual softcover, Transparency CD. Retails 42.95 for Teacher manual/binder, 18.95 for student book. Asking $30 for both. NOTE: the first 3 student lessons have been written in).

  • simply draw Simply Draw with Bob Parsons. In hardback binder, does not include dvd-that went missing:( Retails $37.50 on sale. Asking $15 in great shape, the careful child used this!
  • Set of Nine Stories From History Graphic Novels. Retails $6.99 each ($72) Asking $15
  • vocabaheadVocabAhead, SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Videos and Mp3s. Softcvr. Retail $12.95. Asking $5

For Elementary:

  • all togetherScott Foresman Social Studies, All Together, K-1 curriculum. Hardbk. new. Retails $43.47. Asking $15


  • Set of 4 Computer Video Games (work on pc/mac) for children– Elmo’s World, Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom, Dora’s Lost and Found Adventure, Go Diego Go’s Great Dinosaur Rescue and Safari Rescue. Retail from 16-20 each. Asking $10 for all 4.

I am also listing the curriculum I need for the upcoming year. If you have any of these and are willing to do a trade on something, I am interested, email me and maybe we can work something out:

High School:

  • Easy Grammar Plus. Nick’s testing results from this year in Grammar…necessitate this one!
  • Mystery of History Volume 2 (I’ll be using Illuminations, of course:) I have some $ saved from being an affiliate, but I really want to purchase Illuminations downloads for High School and Elementary and purchase MOH2.
  • An easy Spanish book/wkbook. Nick has done all sorts of “bits” of language, mainly online. We need to get serious without using too much of his energy on this

My Elementary One:

  • Math U See Alpha

Gosh, I need a lot to do what I’m thinking! Can you tell I’m a procrastinator? My husband and I were brainstorming today and finally…um…finalized what all I really want. So there it is:) Come September 1st, I WILL be ready, Haha!

Photo Week!
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Hi all! Welcome:) This week’s theme in the Not Back to School Blog Hop is Student Photos!  Join In by visiting Heart of the Matter and linking up.

I chose a few photos we got this past week as we wished Alison and Andrew Bon Voyage (they are spending a year in the Caribbean while Alison goes to Medical School~we will miss them so much!)





The crew:) A bit fuzzy, but I got them all at one time!

The crew:) A bit fuzzy, but I got them all at one time!

Week 2, Our Schoolroom

Week 1, Our Curriculum

Not Back to school hop

Our Schoolroom!
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Hi all! Welcome:) This week’s theme in the Not Back to School Blog Hop is Our Schoolrooms! This is a fun one for me as I love to see others schoolrooms and get ideas to use in my home.  Join In by visiting Heart of the Matter and linking up.

I hope you enjoy this peek into my home. I am usually very private but I thought this was a fun, easy way to share, using the video. (Excuse my voice, earache, sore throat going on here!)

Anyway, if you do not homeschool, come on over to our side, we often have cookies, and coffee and I am enjoying getting to know my children so much!

Honestly, homeschooling may sound odd, or at least difficult~but it is a very nice way of life for our family. I encourage you to consider it. I like passing on my world views, my love of books, my time to my kids. They are a blessing, indeed.

Now, for full disclosure {grin} I do have children in public school as well. Honestly, I wish they were home as well. I got into this homeschooling thing way after the pioneers, and I made the choice to only homeschool some of my kids (pretty much the one the public school was failing). Once I began, I then continued with my younger child.

So, its a busy place around here, with two highschoolers in public school, one homeschooled highschooler and an elementary homeschooler.

I tell you what, the time is going by so quickly!

Not Back to school hop