Thursday, April 05, 2018

Phonics Museum App by Veritas Press year home educating has been rather challenging as we navigate the cancer treatments of our middle son. I have had to use different resources to meet everyone's home education needs.

I tried the Veritas Press App Phonics Museum with my kindergarten son. We have used the app along with the Memoria Press Kindergarten program. For us it has been a great fit. My son has learned to read and I feel like he has had more practice learning to read then he would have had with just our kindergarten program. I could not provide all the support he needed and the app helped me do that.
The app is only available for use with an iPad or iPhone. You can find out more about it here. I bought the one year subscription for $98.99. It is $9.99 for one month or $98.99 for twelve months. I have not seen anything else out there that is a systematic phonics program in an app format (but please let me know if you have).

I feel like this would be good for busy moms who want their students to be able to practice phonics on their own, whose students may need extra practice, and for anyone who uses the Veritas Phonics Museum Program and wants to use the app with it.

I have written customer support before and they have always been very helpful. If you read through the app reviews you will see that the longer you use the app the more data it uses. We have had to uninstall and reinstall the app several times. I am hoping that is something that should will be fixed in the future, but I feel like it was still worth it for our family to use the app. To me the good outweighs that issue.  Our son would not have learned to read as well without it.  I am hoping this might a helpful option for someone else as well. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Repost: Who controls the information?

As the end of the year draws near. . I am often in a quandary as to whether I should finish a textbook.  I found this post in the archives and reposted for me. . I hope it helps you. 

I think in theory most of us know that we are in charge of our home education.  We make plans, we decide what to study, and we tell the textbook what to do.  Well. . most of the time.  Sometimes I think we let the textbook decide what is best for our students.  We let the text decide how many problems our students need to do for mastery of a math concept, we let the text decide what stories are good to read, how much grammar should be included, and when our students should take a test.  In a way we give the text book authority in our lives, and it comes with enough stuff to keep us all busy.

Back in my Reading Masters program  I remember having this discussion with one my professors in our class.  He said that most of us will trust the text book over our ability to teach our students.  We will listen to what it says without questioning.  I was fascinated with that.  I am a rule follower and it is easy for me to follow the rules of the text book.

Knowing this about myself so  I try to modify how I deal with my math texts, and some other ones.

1. In Math if there are too many problems I  have my student do just the even numbered ones or just the odd numbered ones.  Some kids need a great deal of practice in some areas and less in others.  The textbook is just a resource.

2.  I remember that I do not have to do every question, activity, or suggestion in the book.  There is no textbook police.

3.  I do not have to finish the text book.  I remember my first year teaching I thought I did have to finish the Social Studies textbook.  I made sure we covered all 50 states in the text.  If the students wanted to work more on a state I said no . . we must finish all 50.  We trudged through.  I remember telling one of the other 4th grade teachers and she said.  "Wow, really??  We have never finished a text. "  I remember thinking, really??  I appreciated her for her wisdom.

4. Textbooks and books can be wrong. I can disagree with them.

5.  If a students knows the materiel I can have them take an end of the unit test and if they do well skip that section of the text.  Or we can just decide to.

6.  I try to remember that I know my students' needs better than the text.   So do you!

Do you feel the need to follow the text?    Let me know.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Contest: for TWO Amazon cards.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Recently I completed a genetics test and confirmed my English/Irish heritage.  In celebration of my Irish heritage, my wonderful followers, and all things good I want to give away  TWO  $25 Amazon cards!  Hopefully the Luck of the Irish will be with you and you will win!   

Please enter by the Rafflecopter below.  Please know I verify all winning entries.  If you need help, email me:

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You do not have to live in Ohio or homeschool to enter!  

To LEAVE A COMMENT:  Click on "Post a Comment" at the end of the post and a box will pop up. Leave the comment there.

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Thursday, March 01, 2018

Bug Science

One of my favorite part about spring is studying bugs. Kids love bugs.  Finding them, observing them, studying them etc.  We love  insects.  

I came across a web site from Orkin.  It is filled with free resources on insects with printables and lesson plans.  A quote from their site. . .

At Orkin, we’re passionate about the science of bugs. That’s why our entomologists and pest control experts worked together to create fun, interactive resources to help children become as passionate about science as we are.
Maybe there is something for you there.  Some other resources I like for studying insects. . .


Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Best Seat In the House

This is a reflection on homeschooling and having a senior.

Time . . . .I remember when my 17 year old son was young.  I remember when I had 4 children 4 and under.  The days were so long and I honestly thought they would last forever. . or maybe they just seemed like they would last forever.  I got up, got people dressed, fed everyone, cleaned up, played with everyone, fed them again, cleaned up again, more playtime, nap time (yeah!!), quickly ran around and tried to do laundry, cleaning or anything else I could do all the while watching the clock, put dinner together, survive the worst hour of the day between 4:00pm and 5:00pm and would wait for my husband to come home.  I added in home education, and I was convinced my life would go on forever in about the same way.

I have this feeling lately that I am looking at an hourglass that is emptying.  My son is a senior in high school.  I am not sure how that happened.  I am watching the end of the sand run out.  Though I am thrilled to see him grow up, and become a young man I can't help remembering that little guy I helped with math.  The one who danced with his sister just home from China on the train table.

I watch him interact with others, write essays, and explain his home education with pride at college and scholarship interviews.   He has embraced his uniqueness and he is happy.  Everything I could have hoped for I am watching play out.

Now to watch the last of the sand run out, and know another part of his life will begin.  Hoping and praying I have prepared him well.  So glad I home educated and had so much time with him. Glad I got to watch him become the person he was created to be. Glad I endured those long early days so I could I rejoice with him now.

So hold on friends.  The journey is worth it, and you will be so glad you stuck it out.  You have the best seat in the house.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Concepts Of Print. ..

I get many questions every year from families about reading.  How to know if their child is ready to read, how to help their child read, and tips for struggling readers.  My Masters is in Reading, and I am currently taking a reading class to keep my teaching certificate current.  I am hoping these posts will be helpful for families.   If you have a question you would like answered in a post please write it in the comments.    

Concepts Of Print (COP) or Concepts About Print (CAP) can be defined is a set of understandings about how print works.  A child acquires CAP before they are able to read.  Children who have CAP know which way to hold a book, know text has meaning, know words are made of letters, that text is read from left to right, and that there is punctuation at the end of sentences.

Students who grow up in print rich environments and are read-aloud to will usually pick these skills up naturally.  Below is a short video that is directed to parents explaining CAP.

This video is done by a teacher assessing if a child has CAP. You can teach these to your child each time you read a book to them.  Ask them different questions each time.  "Where is the title?  Where is the first page? Where do you start?"  The video will show you more.

If you want to check if your younger student has CAP here is a checklist assessment that will help you determine that.  You ask your student some basic questions and check them off on your paper.

Here are some apps that are helpful for building CAP.

The following are based on the Bob Books.  Bob Books Reading Magic Lite which is free at GoogleAmazon, and iTunes.  Bob Books Reading Magic #1 Reading Magic is 2.99 to 3.99 at GoogleAmazon, and iTunes.

Disney Story-time at iTunes.

The popular online program Starfall has a free app at GoogleAmazon, and iTunes.

 Let me know what you think, and any reading questions that you have!

Friday, February 09, 2018

Repost: Erzra Jack Keats books

I have fond memories of reading Ezra Jack Keats books as a child.  I still remember seeing the short film for The Snowy Day.

Keat was a fascinating man.  The Ezra Jack Keats foundation is  set up to use the royalties from Keat's books to make the world a better place for children.
Keats has written many books.   There are several wonderful activities on Pinterest using his books.

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 02, 2018

Go Figure. .. math web site.

  I was thrilled to learn about a wonderful new math web site by Kimberly, a homeschool student.  Go Figure is a project she has been working on. It is an wonderful site filled with the "elegant side" of mathematics.   Read below to learn more!  I love seeing what our fellow homeschoolers are doing. 

First Stop

Welcome to Go Figure! This is a website dedicated to showing the elegant side of math, the kind that gets less attention than it deserves. Math is not just about rote calculations: it’s about analytical thinking and creative problem-solving, and that’s what makes it so fun! This website is still growing, so there’s more to come. To subscribe to our email list and hear when new content is posted, click here.

More Information:  

Go Figure is a project designed to boost mathematical interest in middle school and junior high school students. Not only is math becoming increasingly important in an ever more technological world, but it also has a playful and elegant side that is too often overlooked. A lot of students see math as dull and difficult, and this mindset can artificially sway students who are on the fence about math. My goal is to promote an alternative approach: one that celebrates the beautiful side of mathematics and provides a path to learning the invaluable lessons – such as analytical thinking and creative problem solving – that it teaches.

I really only started seeing the beautiful side of math in middle school, when I started participating in math competitions. In my contest preparation, I ran into elegant math concepts I hadn’t encountered before, and I really enjoyed exploring them. Around the same time, I saw my friends starting to like math less and less, and I thought it was sad that they were turning away from it just as things were getting interesting. Over time I read more about the non-math culture in the United States and the way most students see math, and I wanted to do something to change this mindset. When I attended a Julia Robinson Math Festival in my area and saw volunteers helping students explore beautiful math problems, the atmosphere galvanized me to get involved in showing students that there’s a lot to like about math.
Quoted From The Davidson Website.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Winter Activities. . By Lisa McAfee

My friend Lisa McAfee.  

Wow! winter has been putting on a little show here in SW Ohio the past few weeks. It was so cold here for a period of time that the Ohio River had big sheets of ice on it! So, when inclement weather has you housebound with your youngsters, how do you keep them happy and still focusing on school? How about some winter-inspired activities?
·         Make paper snowflakes. You can back your creations with tissue paper either white or colored for some pizazz and hang them from the ceiling and close to a light source so you can see through the tissue. (art)
·         Play a Scavenger Hunt- Instead of just hauling the books out from their usual location, why not create a scavenger hunt to start out the day? Not only have the schoolbooks hidden, but add a treat for a special surprise. Clues could be:  Clue #1 Go to the room where you brush your teeth. (Hide the clue somewhere in the bathroom such as under the wastepaper basket or inside the vanity. Clue #2 Go to the place where we eat our meals. (Hide the clue under the tablecloth or a placemat or salt and pepper shakers, etc.) Clue #3 Look in the place where pots and pans are kept.  Clue #4 Find the place where you rest at night. Here you can have the books hidden under the bed. Clue #5 Bring all of your books to the schoolroom and there you will find the treasure to begin our school day. Your treat can be a piece of fruit, a cup of hot chocolate, a new Read-Aloud book, or whatever you think would be a fun idea to have as a reward. (reading, physical education)
·         Create Word Poetry- Do you have old grocery fliers or magazines that you can cut up for this activity? You can create a simple poem that has two lines that rhyme or you can create a free verse poem. You can make the poem's theme as simple as food if all you have is grocery fliers or as elaborate as you like. Since we are in the middle of winter, what about that being the theme? (language arts)
·         DIY Window Clings- with a little bit of glue and some paint your son will have lots of fun making these. I bet you would enjoy making a few too! (art)
·         Window Clings
You will need for each color:
2 tablespoons White craft glue (like Elmer’s)
2 -3 drops Liquid food coloring
2 drops Liquid dish detergent
1 small paintbrush
Combine 2 tablespoons of glue with 2 drops of dish detergent. Add a few drops of food coloring and you are ready to make your design! Lay a page protector down so that you can paint your design (using your paintbrush) directly on it so it will be easy to pull off when it is dried. You can create your own designs or use cookie cutters and paint inside of them.  Make your design about 1/4 inch thick. If you make it too thick it will take a long time to dry. If you are using a cookie cutter, let the glue set for a few minutes before removing it. Let designs dry overnight, poke with your finger to see if they have set well enough to remove from the page protector without tearing.  Carefully peel off of the page protector and place on your windows.

Make popcorn and cups of tea or hot chocolate and snuggle up with a great Read-Aloud book. I just finished the 1957 Newberry Medal, Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen. This is a delightful book about a family who is in need of a miracle for their father who has come home from the war and how an old homestead restores him and his family.  (language arts)

Lisa McAfee bio:
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, January 18, 2018

Repost: January Author Robert Munsch

Copyright on side of photo
The author for January is Robert Munsch.  I have been a fan of Robert Munsch since one of my colleagues shared the book I'll Love You Forever with me.  I also loved Purple Green and Yellow,   the story of a little girl and her markers.  This book makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.  An interesting contrast with I'll Love You Forever.

I found a short video and article about the story I'll Love You Forever.  It was a song that Mr. Munsch had in his head after he and his wife had two still born babies in 1979 and 1980.  After some time he put the song into a story and created the book.  Here is a video of him reading and singing the story.  He loves hearing others sing it as well.  He says it should be sung however you sing it.

I have fallen in love with his Official Author's page.  The site has a section where Mr. Munsch reads aloud all of his books.  It also has letters from kids and a biography.  I have started a Pinterest board with a few activities that go along with his books. I can't wait to read more of his books this month.

"I am a storyteller. I write books for kids, I talk to kids, and I listen to kids."  

Friday, January 05, 2018

2018 Assessment Give-Away!

Hello--The contest is no longer accepting entries and the winner has been announced.  But come back in January 2019 when I  do this again!  

Happy New Year!
I wanted to start the year off by giving away two FREE assessments (valued at $35.00 each).  These are the Assessments that I complete for Ohio Homeschoolers to fulfill requirement 3301-34-04 Academic Assessment Report Option #2. You may redeem your prize anytime between March 7, 2018 and July 15, 2018.

Use the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter. You may enter through January 16, 2018 at midnight.  Good Luck!

Please enter by the Rafflecopter below.  Please know I verify all winning entries.  If you need help, email me:

How to become a Public Follower.
To become a follower, look under: "I would love it if you would follow my blog publicly, Please click on "Follow" below."  After clicking on that button follow the steps.  You may use a Google Account, Twitter Account or Yahoo Account to follow.  Click on one and follow the steps.  In order for your entry to count you must follow publicly.  

To LEAVE A COMMENT:  Click on "Post a Comment" at the end of the post and a box will pop up. Leave the comment there.

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Please know that I verify the winning entry.  If you need help with a step please email me.   

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year! Guest Post Lisa McAfee

On Friday I will begin my contest for the Free Narrative Assessment Give-Away!  

Beginning the new year is a time to review how your school year has gone so far and what you would like to accomplish for the remainder of the academic year. Consider focusing on the following:
Academic goals- What were concepts and ideas your daughter learned since the beginning of the year? What are concepts that you want to have your son master by the end of the year? Write them down and review each month the ones that have been completed.

Personal goals- What goals do you have for yourself, both as an educator and personally? Have you considered going to a homeschool convention? If not, how about going this year?  Great Homeschool Conventions has several conventions throughout the United States. Do you have friends with which you can go places or call?  Consider joining a homeschool support group to encourage you on this journey (for information on groups in your area CLICK HERE)  or asking other homeschool moms to join you for a cup of coffee. If you have friends that do not homeschool, be sure to keep in touch with them too.

Marriage goals- For you who are married, homeschooling can put a strain on your relationship with your spouse. One thing that Dale and I did for several years was to have "couch time". We would set aside one night a week to sit on the couch and just discuss how things were going. Sometimes we read a book on strengthening our marriage, other times we had a powwow to discuss ways to parent and issues that came up with our sons.  Be sure to keep connected, because believe it or not, one day you will no longer have your children at home and it will just be the two of you again. :)
May this year be a wonderful and special year filled with great "Aha!" moments as you and your son and/or daughter learn about the world in which we live. May your home be filled with laughter and fond memories. May you enjoy your children and the opportunity to homeschool. Happy New Year!

~ Lisa

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.