Let your voice be heard…


Have you ever tried Time4Learning? I am sure that those of you who read my posts have noticed that our family uses Time4Learning as a supplemental curriculum.  We enjoy the interactive computer based learning and the fact that most of it is just pretty fun!!  The kids love doing T4L and I am happy that they love learning this way.  For such a comprehensive, well designed curriculum, the price is quite nominal, but they have a really great trial offer… just thought that I would share it with you. 

First, you can try their program for a free month… all you have to do is submit a curriculum review at the end of the month.

Second, you can submit a review if you are already a member and recieve $25 for your first review.

Time4Learning wants to know how they measure up in the eyes of the parents and students that use the program.  In fact, they love to hear from us. 

That isn’t all – Time4Learning wants to help homeschool parents succeed, so they have developed a great online parent community.  This forum is free even if you don’t use Time4Learning.  You can access this forum 24/7 and get encouragement from other moms and dads that are in similar situations. In fact, most of the people on the T4L parent forum begin to feel like family.  It’s a great place to find answers, ask questions, find encouragement, and even encourage others.  It was in this forum that I learned how to deal better with my daughter who has a learning disability.  I was extrememly frustrated and didn’t understand how she could do some of the things she was doing… several people in the parent forum have chidlren with a similar disability, and were able to answer my questions and give me much encouragement!!  Great stuff… you gotta give it a try!

Literature Studies

If you are like me you try to get your children to read at every opportunity.  Since, we are directing their reading experience on our own, what should they read?  Have you ever wondered what books are considered “important” to read for your child’s age and grade level? I am listing books that are considered “classics.” Yes, I know there is a lot of good contemporary fiction, however, I feel that the classics are time tested, typically non-controversial, and proven to benefit. So, to be safe… we will stick with those. Also, an interesting new genre that has received its own website is Homeschool Literature.  This site is exceptionally interesting to those of us that homeschool.  There are book lists as well as books about homeschoolers listed on this site. Definitely a great resource.

4th grade  – many of these books are available at www.coreknowledge.org

More extensive lists are available at Seton home study.

  • King Arthur and the Round Table, by Malory, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • Robin Hood and His Merry Outlaws, by J. W. McSpadden, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Stevenson, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • Hiawatha, by Henry W. Longfellow
  • John Henry, retold by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
  • Johnny Appleseed, retold and illustrated by Steven Kellog
  • Paul Bunyan Swings His Axe, Dell J. McCormick
  • Paul Bunyan, retold and illustrated by Steven Kellog
  • Paul Revere’s Ride, by Henry W. Longfellow
  • 5th grade

  • The Secret Garden, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and The Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Story of Dr. Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting
  • The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, (a series of 7 books) by C. S. Lewis
  • A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens (recommended edition: The Whole Story, ISBN: 0-670-88879-6)
  • Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
  • An Old-Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott
  • Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
  • Blue Willow; and Hercales, by Doris Gates
  • Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift, abridged by the Core Knowledge Foundation
  • 6th grade

  • A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
  • Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
  • Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray
  • Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll
  • All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley – (Recommended edition: The Whole Story ISBN: 0-670-87801-4)
  • Call it Courage, Armstrong Sperry
  • Old Yeller; and Savage Sam by Fred Gipson
  • Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
  • Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
  • The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • The White Company, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • 7th grade

  • Kipling, R.; Captains Courageous – story of a boy who grows up in a few months
  • Lewis, C. S.; The Chronicles of Narnia – adventure stories, conflict of good and evil
  • Stevenson. R. L.; The Black Arrow – swift-paced adventure of soldier, War of the Roses
  • Stevenson, R. L.; Kidnapped – David, a cabin boy, fights off a villainous crew
  • Stevenson, R. L.; Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Wells, H. G.; The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds – science fiction
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens –
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emmuska Baroness Orczy  – abridged versions for this age
  • Many different types of biographies would be excellent for this age group
  • 8th grade

  • Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Grandfather’s Chair, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Otto of the Silver Hand, by Howard Pyle
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • O’Hara, M.; Green Grass of Wyoming – adventure with horses on a ranch
  • White, T. H.; The Sword in the Stone – boy must be made worthy to become king
  • Wibberley, L.; John Treegate’s Musket – boy involved in the American Revolution

  • O’Hara, M.; Thunderhead
  • O’Hara, M.; My Friend Flicka
  • Poe, Edgar Allan; The Tell-Tale Heart
  • Richter, C.; Light in the Forest – boy raised by Indians is reunited with his family
  • Steinbeck, J.; The Pearl – the consequences of finding a pearl for a man and his wife
  • more lists to come…

    Back to School

    Back to School

    Well, it is that time of year again. Time for getting back to it.  Time to get back to school. How are you doing?  Have you begun homeschooling yet, or are you still trying to get it organized? Are you still excited, or has the newness already worn off? For us, we have been at it about 3 weeks now. The children are still pretty excited and seem to be interested, but I am beginning to encounter a few of the same old pitfalls.

    First, something that started happening at the end of the last school term,  the children are starting to “rush” through work so that they can go play. It is always my desire to instill in them a love to learn, and I believe that they do – to an extent. This week I have tried to remind myself that they are “kids” and kids must play. In fact, at their age play is learning too. So, I had to come up with some guidelines to make sure that we are reaching our goals each day in “school”, before we try to reach our goals in “play.”  I have had to make the rule that they can’t go outside until all of their work has been checked, and fixed if needed.  Unbelievably, this has really made a difference. They know that they will have to fix or redo “rushed” spots, so they are doing a much better job. We had typically just done most of our work together, and I kept an eye on their daily progress.  This new “rule” has for the moment, fixed our situation.

    Secondly, I have been a bit discouraged with some of the resources that I had planned for this year. I needed a few more ideas and even some lesson plans. I have been able to regroup a little in this area by looking for resources online. I found some online lesson plans and even some free online study units. I think we will give these a try to see if it helps. I have looked back over my lists of free/cheap  online resources that I published this spring. It reminded me of a few that I had forgotten… if you have time take a peak…

    Foreign Language


    Free Resources

    Literature Strategies


    Smart boards, computers, netbooks, technology… and gadgets all arounds us… all that aside… Literature is probably the most powerful teaching tool known to man. Learning has taken place around the written word for centuries.  It is the core of knowledge, and every homeschool needs to take reading and literature studies seriously.

    What do you do to meet your homeschool literature needs? Many homeschooling families take advantage of our public library system and supplement their reading needs from exhaustive public library resources. Libraries almost always have the classics… which is a great place to start any literature study. Not to mention that the library is a great alternative to purchasing expensive books.

    Other families use the internet extensively for research, and for augmenting their reading with literature based resources.  These resources can take many different forms such as: literature unit studies, literature based word lists, color pages,  literature connected recipes, and on and on the list could go. Whichever method you use, the importance of literature in a solid education is fundamental. Research has proven time and again that the more we read the more we learn.

     I have recently discovered a new website that has compiled a FREE book list containing stories about homeschooling or homeschoolers. Isn’t that cool?  I have seen booklists about everything you can imagine, but never one that completely covers the homeschool culture like this one. For inspiration in finding some new and interesting literature for your fall studies… check it out… you’ll be hooked!

    Full many a gem of purest ray serene The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.   ~Thomas Gray

    A Love/Hate Relationship

    Language arts and math are the core of the core subjects, and the two subjects that present the greatest challenges to most students. In that respect, language arts most often presents a love/hate relationship to most people. They either love it and the English language’s impossible grammar, or they hate it. Yet, I wonder – is there a way to make all learners enjoy language arts?

    With the broad range of inifinte learning style possibilities, there is not too great a chance that we will ever find a cure all for the hatred of language arts, but in the meantime I think we can improve the general opinion. 

    Language arts tends to be a “dry” subject.  The general study of spelling words, grammar, syntax, and parts of speech just dosen’t lend much excitement.  However, coupled with a great reading curriculum,  excitement can be drawn into the “drier” side of language arts.  Yet, there are still other ways to bring excitement into the “hated” side of language arts. 

    When I teach Language Arts,  I definitely steer towards a more interesting approach to teaching this subject, don’t stick with a plain “text only” approach.  Mix it up – make it exciting – you will see a BIG difference in how children respond. We like to use as many language arts games as possible such as compound word games.  Make spelling interesting by using games to teach the words. I have mentioned Spelling City in previous posts, but it really does make a difference. Children’s outlook on spelling has changed across the country in public schools and home schools because this program uses games to practice and quiz the student. Don’t limit your creativity – if you can think of something to make it exciting – try it!  Children respond to someone who seems to enjoy what they are teaching – and they assimilate that excitement.  They see you excited about your subject matter, and they get excited… it’s contagious.