Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Guest Post: Living Math Books

Over the next year. . I have many friends to help me with keeping up the blog. So there will be a variety of guest posts by different authors. I will try to post as well. This week is from a dear friend of mine who wishes to be anonymous. So without further ado . . . Living Math Books

Math.. some love it.. Some hate it.  You would think as an engineer by training I would be in the love it category, but alas, not so much.  Teaching it to a challenging learner was not really a bag of fun either!  But, since my son is a reader, he gravitated toward “living math books.”  There is a website that details many living math books but here are some of our favorites.

We love the Dave Ramsey kids’ books.  The current ones on his website look different than the ones we purchased many years ago but I am guessing the idea is the same.  The child in the book had a ‘money challenge’ to save, or earn or give and it played itself out.  My son really enjoyed these.  

Many people in the homeschooling community are familiar with Life of Fred  Since we started homeschooling, they have increased their line of books.  But just recently I was even able to find one at the library.  I nabbed it up, took it home and just set it on the kitchen table.  Low and behold, he picked it up and read it.  The subject is algebra.  Funny story; he is in public school right now and did not do too well in algebra (although he excelled at geometry.)  If they taught it this way in school he might have done better.  (Alas.. there are always trade-offs.).

When my son was younger he loved the books by Cindy Neuschwander including the Sir Cumference series which uses Medieval times to introduce geometry (and other)  concepts at an early age. Another series along this same line are the books by Greg Tang including The Grapes of Math and Math for all Seasons.

Finally, we love the Basher Books and they have one on Math called, Math: a Book You Can Count On.   If you purchase scholastic books at all you can sometimes find these for a real deal especially as a group of books, but they are really inexpensive.  I really like to just strew books like this about and see what sticks.  Often concepts I never seemed able to “teach” were grasped when received in their own time

Monday, September 25, 2017

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey by Dion Leonard

Bring home the incredible true story of a friendship so strong that it crosses the globe! You will love the inspiring tale of Gobi, a lost dog who kept pace with an ultramarathon runner, Dion Leonard, across a vast desert. Follow their unlikely friendship through the challenges of an 80-mile race and Dion’s struggle to bring Gobi home for good.
Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey is the incredible true story of Dion Leonard, an athlete who was befriended by a stray dog while running an ultramarathon through the Gobi Desert. Named for the desert in which he found her, Gobi became Dion’s closest companion for 77 miles of the 155-mile race across China. The scrappy little pup ran mile after mile alongside Dion, through treacherous conditions and across raging rivers. He let her sleep in his tent and share his food, and eventually, his focus shifted from winning to the newfound friendship he and Gobi shared.
They crossed the finish line together—not first, but together—and Dion decided to bring Gobi home to Scotland. Just before they were about to leave, however, Gobi disappeared, setting off a worldwide search for the stray. In a town of more than 3 million people, the search seemed hopeless, but this tale of friendship will surprise and delight you as you find out what happens!
Join the almost too-good-to-be-true story of hope, friendship, and beating incredible odds in Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey by Dion Leonard.

Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey by Dion Leonard tells the true story of a dog named Gobi who was found by Dion Leonard in his race through the Gobi Desert. They finished together and Dion wanted to bring him home to Scotland. Unfortunately, Gobi went missing while Dion was making arrangements for her move. The book shares the story of how Dion found her in his search across China, and the many friends who supported him. Gobi lives with Dion today.

I am always excited to find quality books for young readers. I loved that his was a true story of courage and determination. The story is heartwarming and I felt good about giving it to my nine-year-old daughter to read.

She liked the book, and highly recommends it. She loved the races and when they found Gobi. She liked how the book was about the relationship between Gobi and Dion. She also enjoyed learning about the different places they traveled to including the Great Wall of China. There were wonderful photos in the book that made it more real.

This book is for fourth to sixth grade readers, and as a read aloud for younger student.  

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Narrative Assessments for Ohio Homeschoolers

For the 2016-2017 School year  I will gladly accept your portfolio and send you the form you need for your district.  Please know I accept portfolios year round and am happy to accept your portfolio at any time!  At this moment I am running about 2-5 days to get your paperwork back in the mail to you.  

I complete narrative assessments for Ohio homeschoolers.  The Assessments are portfolio reviews by myself, a certified teacher, that fulfill the Ohio Home Education requirement for 3301-34-04 Academic Assessment Report Option #2.  
If you would like to begin the process start by downloading the forms for the Freestyle Assessment for unschoolers, the Self Reflection Assessment for K-8th grade, OR the Self Reflection Assessment for High School for those who follow a subject curriculum. You fill out the forms, prepare the documentation, and sign them. Please email me for an instruction sheet that tells you where to mail them or how to send them to me electronically.  The instruction sheet also answers other questions. If you have trouble with the downloads, please email me.   Below are links  in Google Documents.   I am happy to help you so please contact me with any questions.

Becky Boerner

Freestyle Assessment in Google Documents
Self Reflection for K-8 in Google Documents
Self Reflection for High School in Google Documents.

Once you get there you need to do the following. 
If you click on the arrow button on the left hand side of the page you can download the file.
If you click on the print button you can print it out.

PS: If you can not access these files, try the links above in the document.  If you still can not access the documents, please email me and I will send you the files.  I am happy to do that!  

My portfolio pricing for 2017  is (1 portfolio) $35; (2 portfolios) $65; (3 portfolios) $95;  (4 portfolios ) $120; (5 or more portfolios) $150

I also accept PayPal, Check, or Money Orders (Contact me for more information.  Many families send me checks or money orders through the mail. )

Click on the arrow for pricing for 2 or more reviews.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Guest Post: Painted Rocks. .by Lisa McAfee

 My friend Lisa is helping me out again.  You know that any article that starts with the word camping is not one written by me. ~Becky

Camping is a great family activity to do in the fall since the temperatures are cooler and colorful trees can be enjoyed. I saw a facebook group called Homeschool Rocks and thought decorating and hiding rocks with encouraging words or pictures would be a fabulous idea for a fun activity while you are camping.  I have included academic areas for you in parentheses so you can see how it applies to school. :)
You Will Need:
a bucket of warm, soapy water
paper towels
a pencil
outdoor acrylic paints
paint brushes
waterproof markers
Elmer's glue
Modge Podge or some type of outdoor sealant
a plastic jar or another container
plastic grocery bags- one per person
  1. Collect First of all, you and the children collect rocks that you want to paint. The best kinds are smooth, especially for younger children since they will paint more easily.  (PE is covered since you are getting exercise hunting for rocks.)
  2. Clean After you have determined which rocks you would like to paint, clean them in a bucket filled with warm, soapy water. Rinse them and place on some paper towels to dry. The paint will adhere much better to a clean surface, and your children will be getting their dirty hands clean at the same time. (Health- Getting all that dirt and grime off is part of a healthy routine.)
  3. Paint Now it's time to bring some life to those rocks! Cover a table with newspapers, and if you have small children who might get paint in more places than the rock, cover them too (an old shirt and pants will do the trick). Depending on what design you want to create, you may want to sketch lightly on the rock before applying the paint.  If details are being added, then a waterproof marker would be helpful to use. Outdoor patio paints are preferred so the rock weathers well. Allow to dry for several hours. (art)
  1. Seal  In order for your awesome rocks to be enjoyed for a long time, a sealant such as Modge Podge should be used. This will make the designs weather resistant and shiny. NOTE: If you have used permanent markers on the rocks, apply a thin layer of glue before applying the sealant to prevent smudging. Allow to dry according to the directions on the jar. 41O7V5Vq2FL
  2. Hide No, not you, the rocks! Have the children go and hide their rocks so that fellow campers can find them. Be sure to hide them where others can find them and be mindful of not placing them where it would be a hinderance. Each person that has hidden a rock can write a clue for others to find their treasure, thus creating a scavenger hunt.  (clues- writing;  directions- math, social studies)
  3. Find Put all of the clues in a plastic jar or other container and have each participant draw out a clue until they are all gone. Give each person a plastic grocery bag. Tell everyone to see if they can locate that rock based upon the clue.  Have everyone go and search for those treasures! Help little ones who can't read.
  4. Display Enjoy all of the treasures collected by having a rock show.
Repeat this as many times as you like and consider leaving the rocks behind for others to find. 


Lisa McAfee -
I am an alumni home educator of two sons and Ohio licensed teacher with over 30 years of teaching experience in a variety of settings. I have been assessing homeschool students’ work for the past 17 years and enjoy helping empower and encourage homeschool moms with their homeschooling. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Update on Our Family

Hello Families,

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to connect with wonderful families. I love seeing your pictures, hearing about your student's milestones, and sharing with you in your hard times too. Over the years I have been privileged to connect with so many great people and hear your stories.

I wanted to update you on my family's life. On August 5 our 13 year old son told us he had a lump on his leg which led to us discovering he had Stage 4 Ewing Sarcoma. We were blown away.

He has had his second round of fourteen two-week chemo treatments (3-6 days of chemo and then we are home). There will also be radiation and surgery. We are looking at 10-15 months of treatment. Our church, friends, and family are trying to help us as we navigate this new normal.

As far as portfolios, I am still accepting them and will continue to accept them for the 2016-2017 school year. It might take me a few days longer so I appreciate your patience. My plan is to still accept portfolios for the 2017-2018 season, but I may need to make modifications to my system. I will post more details in January 2018.

If you would like to keep up with our family's news you are welcome to do so through our Caring Bridge Site.

Thank you,

Becky Boerner

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Guest Post: Starting School by Lisa McAfee

My sweet friend Lisa McAfee on starting school.  

Starting School 
When thinking about the first week of school, consider easing into routines and subjects. Sometimes setting a new routine can be one of the most difficult things to do after you have had a break from school.
Consider starting school midweek. As far as setting a routine for school, I always began school on Wednesday.  That way we had three days of school instead of a full week. It was an easier transition for the children AND for me.  We could get used to the routine in a more gentle way than hitting the school year full force.
Get a good night's sleep. The day will be much better if you allow time for everyone (including you, Teacher) to get a full night's rest. Going on little sleep makes it difficult to concentrate and focus. I know from personal experience! :)
Start every day at the same time. Whether you plan on starting at 8:00 or 9:00 (or later), have everyone ready to begin school and stay consistent. The first week may be begun an hour later since you are easing into things, but I actually found that when I did that my sons were not happy with me when they had to get up early the following week. Instead, I shortened the day that we finished school, and I made sure that emphasized that. lol
Eat breakfast. For years I would skip breakfast and then have to listen to my stomach gurgle and try to keep my mind on my work, all the while wishing it was lunchtime. That was not the smart and now I have my husband to thank because every morning he makes us a delicious, nutritious smoothie that he either puts on my desk or hands to me as I am flying out the door to teach. Breakfast breaks your fast and sets you on the road to teaching and learning.
Go over your schedule. I think it is good to preview the day with your daughter or son, even if you just say, "This morning we are going to be learning our numbers and practicing our ABC's."  Your child knows what is going to be happening and you have said it, providing some accountability to yourself as well.
Begin with a few subjects. As far as subjects are concerned for the first week, I just concentrated upon reading and math. I found a good read aloud book to start our day. With everyone beginning the school day on a pleasant note, we then went into math. Reviewing formerly learned concepts and providing successful experiences will set a positive tone for the year.
Celebrate the beginning of your new school year. You can end the day with a fun activity, a special dinner, or a board game your son or daughter likes to play.  Relax before going to bed so that you are ready to begin again.
You are a remarkable teacher and mother. You are going to have a great year! 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Contest: Amazon Card For the Solar Eclipse

Contest at the end of the post. Scroll to the end.  You so not need to live in Ohio or homeschool to enter to win.

I remember back in 1979 viewing the solar eclipse from my elementary playground in Kansas City. We made the pinhole cards and all stood outside with a warning that WHATEVER YOU DO, ABSOLUTELY DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN(!), etc., etc. I remember the sky turning a strange color and I remember our teacher being so excited she was practically bobbing up and down. It was an amazing experience, and I loved being outside for such a long period of time during the school day.

Coming up on August 21, 2017 from 2 to 3 in the afternoon, most of the US will see a full to partial solar eclipse. We will not have a full eclipse in Ohio, but it should still be pretty amazing, with the shadow of the moon crossing the nation from coast to coast. This kind of eclipse does not happen very often (last one: June 18, 1918) and is worth enjoying with our students.

Which leads me to the Ohio Homeschool Assessment summer contest. No, really! Since it has been about 40 years since I viewed my last eclipse I think we need to run a contest for a $40 Amazon card. Maybe you can use it to finish up school shopping, buy some coffee to make it through your morning, grab some books or music, or start your Christmas shopping. Any of those would be awesome!

So embrace the eclipse of 2017!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have problems please email me.

Helpful Links and items:

NASA Total Eclipse Site eclipse information

Fox News Story

Make sure they are Prime so they ship in time.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Berenstain Baers Bless our Gramps & Gran by Mike Berenstain

In The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran, the newest title in The Berenstain Bears Living Lights series, Mama, Papa, and the cubs decide it’s high time they honor Grizzly Gramps and Gran.

It’s almost Grandparents Day and the Bear family has never celebrated this special day before. So working as a team, the cubs, with a little help from Mama and Papa, come up with a fun and creative way to show Gramps and Gran just how much they are loved and appreciated.

Mike Berenstain has written and illustrated The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps & Gran for children 4-7 years old. The book tells the story of how the bear cubs plan to celebrate Grandparents day in Bear Country. Together the cubs brainstorm with their parents all the special things their grandparents do for them, and then come up with a plan to celebrate. The book ends with a page of suggestions for readers of how they can celebrate Grandparents Day with their grandparents.

This was a sweet story. The illustrations are in the tradition of Mike Berenstain's parents Stan and Jan Berenstain, and are colorful and engaging for young readers. The story has a nice tie-in with the biblical Noah, his wife and their many grandchildren. I loved seeing a family tree of Noah’s family.
I have never celebrated Grandparents day in the past. After reading this delightful story I decided that observing Grandparents Day with my kids is something that I would like to do. I am looking forward to helping my children celebrate their grandparents this year. I am also going to read the story to my preschool class at co-op and then have them make cards for their Grandparents. I highly recommend this book.

Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
  --Proverbs 17:6

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post has affiliate links. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Quick Start Homeschooling Guide.

Some people start planning to home educate their children from birth.  They attend curriculum fairs and conventions way in advance when their children are little. They have files with curriculum catalogs alphabetized and bookshelves set aside and marked.   If this is you then this post may not be very helpful for you. 

I have many families who write me and need to start home educating fast.   Usually their circumstances have not led to them having time to plan way in advance.   This is the Becky Boerner Quick Start Guide to home education.  It is a way to start home educating within a few days of deciding to home educate and/or something to do while you search for the perfect curriculum.  It is a bare bones approach that will see you through for a season, or longer if you continue to add to it.   

I am going to divide this Quick Start Up  by subject and age.  Please feel free to post comments or ask questions.  I will update this post throughout the year and it will be a living document.


You have two kinds of K-8 readers.  Those who are learning to read, and those who are reading to learn.  

K and up Learning to Read. 

With students who are learning to read I suggest 10-15 minutes of phonics reading instruction per day.  You are better off to do 10 minutes everyday than 30 one day, and then skip 5 days and then do more.  Small amounts of time done consistently will win the race.

I like Alpha Phonics.  It is easy to follow and I have had good success with it. You can use BOB books as beginning readers for your student. In this post I discuss more phonics options. 

K and up.  You need a library card.  Ask your librarian if you can  acquire a teacher card.  A teacher card usually allows you to check out a great deal more books, and sometimes there are no fines.  If you are looking for good books to read out-loud or have your child read Sarah Clarkson has a book called The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition She lists books and gives summaries so you are able to choose what you would like to read. The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition by Jim Trelease is another book that lists books to read. 


K-6  You need to teach basic math. Addition, Subtraction,Multiplication, Division, Shapes, Fractions, Measurement, Geometry.    A quick and easy program is MCP Mathematics.  Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade, and Sixth Grade.  They are basic books that will get you started.

7-12- Mastering Essentials in Math .  This is a good basic book to catch you up on math.

Another place to go for math help is Kahn Academy .  They have a wonderful feature which includes a summary page you can print to keep track of what your child accomplishes each year.

Writing/Language Arts

The most important thing you can do to improve your students writing  is to have your student  journal every day.  In their journal they can write about what they did today, what they learned, their favorite . . . , their future plans, pets, friends, etc.  Any grade can do this.  Get a simple notebook like this.

  If you have little kids than  get one like

 They can draw pictures and write on the same page.

If you want to do a spelling/vocabulary program, Modern Curriculum Press or MCP is  reasonably priced one.   Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, Grade 5, Grade 6,

Social Studies 

World History K-8

Studying History is a serious business in the home education community.  People have many opinions on what should be included, what time line to use, and which viewpoint to consider.    I have my own personal beliefs, but I am respectful of all opinions and beliefs.  So please decide for yourself  what is best for your family.   Please remember this is the "I need a curriculum fast guide."  If you need to think and study about this before making a choice please do.  But, if you need a basic history text fast read on.  

The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is a series for younger children.  It is student  friendly and also has worksheet and activities available.  It is dividend up chronologically into four books that are each designed to last for one year.  You read them aloud or your child can read them. Each book is usually under $15.

Also you can go to your library and check out many many great books on history, geography, cooking around the world, and government.  Take field trips around your city and the state.  Watch PBS documentaries, and other historical shows.  So many ways to study social studies.    

For High School Susan Wise Bauer has also written books for adults.  My dad really enjoyed reading her history books. There are three books divided up chronologically.  


There are many fabulous books on science.  You can check them out from your library.  If you want to do experiments the book, The Everything Kids' Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You!  is a great place to start. 

You can also watch documentaries, PBS, and I love the site Hooked on Science and write about it here.  You can garden, raise animals, go to the zoo, museum and take nature walks.

Many love to do nature journaling.  I bought my daughter the book Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You.   She has enjoyed the book and recommends it.  

I wrote a post on Conceptual Academy which has courses for high schoolers on Physical Science.
Some general helpful resources:

Reviews and discussed curriculum choices.  Everyone should own this book.

This is your basic how to give your child a classical education. 

  This books tells you what an experienced home educator wished she had done, or was glad she had done.

This post contains affiliate links.