Saturday, December 08, 2012

Ready Made Preschool Update

Last July I shared a program I was very excited about called Ready-Made Preschool.   I wanted to update you on how it is going now that we are in Week 11.

I absolutely love this program.  The activities are fantastic.  All the materials that you need are right there in the envelopes provided, or in the box.  There is very little preparation involved.  I gather the supplies and share the lesson with my daughter.  She is thrilled with the program and asks every day when we are going to do her preschool program.

I enjoy watching her get so excited about learning.  She is mastering her alphabet and numbers.  But, there is another piece I did not expect to gain from this program.  The program makes me feel like a better mom.  I feel like I am not failing one of my younger children and am giving her a great foundation for learning.

Coconut tree with letters after reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Making a web while talking about "W."

Cooking Chocolate pudding for "dirt" desert while studying the letter "D."

 She has really enjoyed the variety and quality of activities.  I would highly recommend this to anyone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Radical Article & Thanksgiving

I have never really felt that radical, but after reading this article I might have to reconsider.   It is an interesting article on home education.  I am always glad that I have the opportunity to home educate.  I can't imagine missing all the "a-ha"  moments with my children.  I love that part of it.

I am from a really big family. ( 19 kids big)  We all got together this last week for Thanksgiving.  There were 52 people there in all.  I have included a picture for your entertainment.

Kayes Thanksgiving. 
Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Free Chemistry Book Download

    Every once in awhile things just make you smile.  A friend of mine posted a download to The Golden Book of Chemistry.  Why is this so funny you ask?  Well, apparently this book was banned because the experiments could be dangerous.  But, my understanding is that you can download it now for free (remember I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV).
So use your best judgement on whether or not you should allow your children to read it.  It has some excellent explanations on chemistry. I felt more informed reading it. 


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Origami article on my son./Save a Work Sample

This is a fun article about my son.  I thought everyone might enjoy it. 

This is a great time to choose a work sample of your child's work in all subjects. Maybe a math page, a list of books they have been reading, a picture of a project they are working on, a writing sample, or science notes.   Take the sample, date the sample with month and year, and put it aside in a folder.  Then you are 1/3 of the way to completing your assessment for next year.  

Have a good week.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Fence Look!


I am thankful for my junior high son!  He has helped me to redo the look of the blog.  We went with the fence look.  It reminded us of our fence, and just sort of spoke to us.  (OK, we were down to that and some pictures of funky fish or $20 bills. )  It appears to be working and not disappearing, and we felt that was good.  I will be back to regular posting now.

The last few weeks I have been working on the Great Clothing Sort at my house, and I am almost complete.  Usually that means you can expect a heat wave to come through when I'm finished. So if there are unusually high temperatures this week, you can attribute that to my children having all winter clothes in their closets.   

A few pictures of our fun field trips to show you what we have been up to.

 Have a great week!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Under Construction


I have been having some trouble with my blog and I am in the process of updating and changing it.  Just wanted to let you know.  Luckily I have a junior high son or there would be little hope of me being able to fix this.

So watch for a new exciting look on the blog.  (OK, maybe just a new look, but that sounds so much better. )  Hope everyone is getting in the groove for the new school year.

Becky Boerner

Sunday, September 09, 2012


It is that time of year. Time to register for NUMATS. So what is that? NUMATS-Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search. So what is that?? The talent search is for students in grades 3rd-9th. Students in grades 3-6th can take the EXPLORE test. It is a test typically given to 8th graders. Students in grades 6-9 can take the ACT and/or the SAT.

So why would your student want to do that??? If your student typically scores in the top 10%, this is a great opportunity for them. An above grade level tests allows you to get a better academic picture of your student. The NUMATS web site has a great explanation about the program. The test is given all across the Midwest, and in other states as well.

The students who score in the top 1% are invited to Northwestern for an awards ceremony in June. Some states like Michigan and Wisconsin have their own awards ceremony. But whether or not your student scores high enough for an award, it is still a great opportunity for them. Some students are used to always scoring very highly on tests that are not that challenging to them. This is a chance for gifted students to be challenged. ( My son jumped out of bed the day of the test. He was so excited about the challenge.)

This might be your student as well.
Happy bubbling!!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Math About the House. . . Math Fact Mastery

I have shared before that I do not like doing math facts with kids.   But, I know  they are really important for a child to master to be able to move quickly through more advanced math.  I wanted to share a few ways we conquer this at my house.

We  love the Flashmaster.  The Flashmaster is a hand held computer that drills your student in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.  My son loves it.  If you have a child who has trouble getting the facts to stick, this is a great option for daily review.  The Flashmaster has several settings to review your math facts.  If you would like more information the web site does a nice job explaining how it works.  The advantage of the Flashmaster is you can take it with you, and  would be a great item to have in a waiting room.   It is pricey, but I think it is worth the money.  I am guessing  you could probably resell when you are finished.
Flash Master
Another program we used was called Quarter Mile Math.  It is also available at the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op.    We enjoyed this program as well.  They have a free down loadable demo.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Artner's Reader's Guide to American History. . a find.

I love to go to thrift stores, church sales, and yard sales.  I was at a boy scout sale and found the book  War Chief of the Seminoles .
I did not have any apps on my very old flip phone to determine if this book was of "value."  I just had a feeling it might be helpful in our history studies.  Plus,  it was only $1.
I got home and showed the book to my husband.  He loves history books and keeps up with the ones we have and would like.  He looked at me with sheer amazement and excitement.  "That's a Landmark book. . let's see if it is in the Artner's History guide. "  Sure enough it was.  It was even an out of print book.  Kind of fun.  The Artner's guide is a great resource for teaching American history for grades 3-8. Many of the titles can be found in the library.  I know we have enjoyed using it with our kids.  It might be helpful for you this year. 


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Who Should We then Read?

At our homeschool convention this year we picked up the two books Who Should We Then Read? volumes 1 and 2 by Jan Bloom.  Both can be purchased from Jan Bloom at her web site.  Jan and her husband travel to homeschool conventions around the US and sell them there as well.  

The more I homeschool the more we appreciate compilations books like these.  I appreciate all the hard work someone else has done to help me choose good literature for my children.    I really enjoy  being able to read Jan's lists of books and choose quality ones for my children to read. I appreciate the background knowledge she provides to help me do this.  I have found these especially helpful as I look for books for my tweens and teens.

~ Becky

Monday, August 13, 2012

What can only I do?

I read this again myself and thought it was worth reviewing as I plan for the upcoming year.  I hope it helps you as well.

One of the questions I ask when planning  is "What can only I do?" There are activities, subjects, and skills that I can do, and others really can not fill.   But I can use assistance in certain subjects.   There are items on my learning agenda that I know I can use help with. 

I try to think what can I have someone or something else do.  I like to use computers to help with homeschooling.  For instance, I really do not like doing math facts with my children, or honestly any child.  I used to assign them to my student's parents when I taught school.   There is really no one to assign them to in my house.   Please note:  I have been trying.  Luckily, I discovered Facts First.  It is a computer program that teaches and reviews math facts.  It is available from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  The Homeschooler Buyers Co-op,  SHOP AT THE CO-OP on and Save up to 93% ,has many interesting computer programs, group buys on books, and different interesting products for homeschoolers.  It was one of the first things I signed up for at my first homeschooling convention.  Maybe there is something there you can take off your to do list. 

So my thought of the week,  think about what you can get help with.  Here are a few more ideas that may or may not work with your situation.  I know that everybody's circumstances are so different.  Maybe an idea will lead you to an idea of  something that will help you.

1.  If you can not read every literature or history book in your program to your child, can your child listen to them on CD?  The library has many of these. 

2. Can online classes be helpful?  We love the math class my son takes through AOPS. 

3. Can a spouse or grandparent take something on?  My dad takes my son to OT(occupational therapy) every week.  They have fun and it helps me.  Have a spouse or grandparent read to your child. 

4. Can you hire a tutor for one subject or gather a group of homeschoolers to make up a class?

5. Is there  a class on DVD your student can take?  Is there a good DVD series they could watch each week?  You can check out so many from the public library.

6.  Could  your kids take turns reading to each other?  An older one reads to a younger one or vise-versa?  My kids enjoy this and it helps me tremendously.

7.  Is there a high school person who you may be able to hire to help you?

Just a list to get your started.  Hope it helps you find someone or something to help you. 

Happy Planning!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Math About the House . . . Money-Elementary

More money! In Georgia I taught with a lovely lady names Trudy.   Trudy was always making something out of practically nothing for her students to use in her classroom.  I would pop over just to see what she had that week.   She introduced me to the money die.  She had her husband, Mr. Turner,( whose name we actually did not know) made these amazing money die for her.

They are scraps of wood cut down in 1.5 to 2 inch square pieces.  Mine are actually not exactly square.  You take a one inch drill bit and drill down 1/8 inch.  I used the following money combinations for my six sides: 1 quarter, 2 dimes, 2 nickels, and 1 penny. Then hot melt glue the money onto each side.  I used real money.  I think you could use pretend money, but I would use a different glue.

The object of the game is to practice adding money.  You can use one or two money die. Each person needs a piece of paper and a pencil. 

1.  Roll the money die. 
2. The player writes down the first amount that they roll.
3. The next player rolls and does the same thing.
4. On the second and subsequent rolls the player adds the roll to the current total on his/her piece of paper.  They are working towards doing this in their head.  They cross off the last number and write down the new total.
5. Both players keep going until one player reaches a pre-determined amount. I would suggest  $1.00.

Variations on this game are to use two money dice.  Follow the above directions but roll both at the
 same time.

I found the game Presto Change-O at a yard sale for $1.  My kids have really enjoyed it.

Another good money game  involving money is Monopoly.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Math About the House. . .Money-- Early Elementary

Many of you know that math is my thing.  I come from a long line of people who do like math.  Growing up my father loved to make everything into a math problem.  He would encourage us to do the extra problems in the back of the book.  Life was about math.

Though I would like to say I am like my dad,  sometimes life gets in the way of thinking mathematically.  As home educators we have so many opportunities to incorporate math into our  life.  I thought I would begin to post some ideas(reminders)  of how to incorporate math into our day. I am planning on taking my own advice.    I am going to do these by math topic.  Today's is money. 

Change Purse Dump

Simply dump your change from your wallet and help your student count it.  Money can be a challenge for some kids.  This is a great way to practice counting money.
My old wallet  with change. 

Rolling up Change

Collect all the change you have been meaning to roll and take to the bank.  Have your kids count them.

The Great Exchange

This is a great dice game to play with your kids.  It teaches the idea of money equivalency.  You will need the following: one or two dice depending on the skill level of your student, many pennies, and some nickels.

1.  The player rolls the die/dice.
2. They take the number of pennies of their roll.
3. When they get up to 5 pennies they exchange them for a nickel.  I would recommend modeling this first, and having your child say out loud " I am exchanging five pennies for a nickel."  That seems to help them.
4. Continue taking turns. 

You can also play this with dimes.  You can change pennies to dimes.  I would start with nickels and pennies, and then move to only pennies and dimes.   As as your student becomes more advanced use pennies, nickels, and dimes.

The key to this game is modeling, and making sure Everyone announces what they are doing out-loud.
Playing The Great Exchange

~ Becky

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Mom Song. .

I just gave my children a lecture on what they should do while we are painting the kitchen.  My husband said he thought adding "I love you guys" at the end was a nice touch.  So, in honor of all the things we say as moms "The Mom Song."

Monday, July 02, 2012

Ready Made Preschool

Many of you know that I have seven children that range in age from 13 to 4 months.  I would be lying if I did not tell you that sometimes my little ones get a little squeezed out by things like writing, biology,  and comparing and contrasting World Wars etc.  It seems like the little ones can get the end of the day and my energy.  I did wonderful things with the older ones, but find I am a little more tired and busy with the last few.

I read  about Ready Made Preschool   on the Midwest Homeachool Convention we site.  I was so excited!  I went to her site and read about her program and was sold almost instantly.  She has everything you need to complete the projects in envelopes.   She includes art supplies, stickers, and copies all in folders divided by weeks.  I do not have to search my house for that elusive red puff ball that has rolled under my china hutch,  or set of wiggly eyes that another child has found and used to create a flock of birds on a scrap piece of wood.  It is all there!  I was so excited to hear about her program. 
Weeks 1-4 supplies
  I met Kate Funk at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, OH.  I bought the program Seasonal ABC's Level 1 on the spot.   Katie gave me everything in a white bankers box.  As you can see everything you need is in there. 
Look at the paint, spray bottle, extra pieces if I loose one, and wonderful teachers guide. 

The lesson plans are for 4 days a week and include a book you read every day.  I emailed Kate and she sent me a book list that goes with the program.  The books are not included, but  are probably already in your home or at the public library.
A sampling of some of the books in Ready Made Preschool.

I will let you know how it goes next Fall.  I am excited to have a plan for my little one for next year. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


When I taught in Georgia I was introduced to AIMS. (Activities Integrating Math and Science). AIMS is non-profit organization dedicated to helping you give students a solid conceptual understanding of math and science, built on research in best practices and brain-based learning.

I have always loved their hands on activities. They sell books that range in price from $20-$40 with activities by theme for grades Kindergarten through 9th grade. Some examples of themes are: Plants, Physics, Problem Solving, Probability, etc. They also have fabulous $2.00 activities you can download. If you live near a university with a Teacher Education Library, they sometimes have the books available to borrow. Inter-library loans would be another way to try them out. There are also free samples of activities on the web site.

My kids love the activities. The supplies are usually things you have around the house, or very basic science equipment. They also sell a small group/homeschool science kit. The activities include making predictions, making a graphs, and charting results. The charts and all forms are all made for you. The instructions are easy to follow.

This is a great way to add experiments to your science program, or problem solving to your math curriculum.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fiber Arts

This year we have been working on a fiber arts curriculum.   We choose to use Woolworks Curriculum by Harrisville Designs.  I met the author Lorna McMaster at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in 2011.  We have greatly enjoyed all the projects and teaching aids.  We have discussed types of wool, weaving, knitting, and the history of wool.  There are many parts and we will finish it up this summer.  Below are some pictures of my children’s work.  They have had an amazing time learning this year about Fiber Arts.  
Pot Holders are favorites.  We used the Harrisville Design loom.

We have a peg loom and lap loom.  We also use a backstrap loom

I found these Knifty Knitters and they were quite a hit.  I will never have to buy hats again.
There were knitting instructions in the curriculum.  I also talked to our local librarian who knits.  She set up a class to teach my children.  They will be knitting with her all summer.  We have also dabbled in crotchet.

We have had a great time with this.  I would definitely recommend the curriculum.  The author tells you how to make many of the looms, spinners, etc.  We  also went to an Alpaca festival to observe them spin their wool, touch the wool, and enjoy seeing the animals.  


checking out the fiber

Fun times watching the Alpacas.

Maybe this will inspire you to try it out next year.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How do I notify to homeschool?

There are so many good resources out there to help you fill out your letter of intent to start homeschooling.  I thought it might be helpful to link them here as a help.

PEACH Homeschool Network out of Dayton/Xenia has an excellent packet as well.  On pages 9-11 they give samples of how to write a curriculum outline for the year and a resource list.  I was very impressed.

My friend Lisa McAfee at Schoolmarm Ohio wrote about how to fill out the notification form.  She also has a post that explains items 6 and 7 more clearly on the notification form.

Another  resource is the HSLDA of Ohio.  They have forms and articles at their website. 

Hopefully this will get you started.  I save my form to my computer and just update it each year by adding curriculum and kids.

** Please note this post does not constitute legal advice.  It is only contains some suggestions.   **

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Fathers Day Printables

I saw this posted on the Persnickety Prints blog. 

  It is a printable for Father's Day.  I thought they were fabulous and printed 7 of them for all my kids.  I realize they are probably meant for younger kids, but I went ahead and let everyone fill one out. The answers made me smile, and we all had a lot of fun.  Here is the direct link to the PDF.

I am going to have the kids draw pictures for their dad and include these in a small book for him for Father's Day.  I think they will make him smile. 

~ Becky

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Portfolio Review Pictures.

The old saying is a picture is worth a thousand words.  In the portfolio review process a picture can tell a story and  become a sample that shows what your student has learned.  The following are some examples of the kinds of pictures that would  demonstrate what your child has accomplished during a school year.

Maybe a gardening project you did for science?

Maybe a K/1st grade book list?
Maybe an intermediate book sample?
Maybe your child's lap book work?

Or the results of a Co-op class?

All artwork for the year?

So think about sending me a picture via email, putting them in a power point presentation or printing some to send me.   I would love to see them.  


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Math About My House.

When I attended a workshop with Patsy Kanter she said. . .  "You know pennies are the best math manipulatives, you can still get 100 of them for a dollar."  That comment still makes me smile.  I love using pennies for little ones in math.  They are easy to use and you are able to teach money and basic math with them.  My daughter enjoys using them with her Rod and Staff math.

Place value  magnets

This was my math purchase for winter.  My son was having trouble with adding big numbers and place value.  I found these magnets.  For my son they were the key to learning place value.   We used our magnetic dry erase board to work with them.  You could use your fridge as well.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Unschooling/Freestyle Assessments

Reposted from last year.

I really enjoy reading the freestyle assessments I receive.  They are so interesting.   People often ask me for some ideas on what to write and send.  The following is what I have shared with them. Hopefully it will help you as well.  

I have seen freestyle assessments written in many different ways.  The key thing is to show the progress your child has made from last July/August to now.  Ohio law says the child must make progress within their ability.  So when I do this for my kids I try to think through the following questions.  How have they changed? What can they do now that they could not do a few months ago, several months ago, and a year ago?   What do I have demonstrates this? (pictures, samples etc.)  Lastly, what can I share that communicates this?  

As far as writing up the assessment, I have seen them set up by subject, by project, and just sharing progress. The following are some ideas to get you started.  I think once you get started you will be surprised at how much you have to share.

If you write by subject you might write about the following.  I am going to give many examples to choose from.  Please do not feel you need to use all of them.  These are to spur your thinking about your year. 

Reading:  Share the books your child has read or you have read to them. Maybe share a series they are into like the Boxcar Children, Arthur, or Henry and Mudge.  What magazines do they enjoy reading?  Is there a web sites they enjoy visiting and reading?  What your child is reading now versus the beginning of the year communicates the progress they have made. 

Writing/Handwriting If your child is writing tell me what they are writing. Tell me if they are making lists, writing their name,  writing stories, labeling pictures, writing letters etc.  If they are older, tell me about their creative writing, poetry, or journaling.  Send me a sample.   Do they write a blog, email letters to Grandma, or maybe record in a nature journal?   Tell me about it, send me a link, or take a picture of it.

Math: Share how your child is telling time, working with money, adding or subtracting, multiplying or dividing, using percents, and/or measuring.  Tell me about activities your child participates in like cooking, grocery shopping, or building with blocks or LEGOS ©.  Share games with me that you play that involve math.   If you happen to do any worksheets you can always send in one from the beginning of the year and the end. 

Science/Social Studies/History/Art/ Music/PE: For younger kids you might share experiences to demonstrate progress.  You write  about the museums you have visited, zoo visits, park trips, neighborhood walks, nature walks, music lessons, and any sports your child may participate in.  Do you attend the YMCA to swim each week?  Do you attend an art class?  Tell me about books they have read or you have read together, if they have completed any projects, or art work your child has created.  This is a great place to include pictures.   For older students share what they have learned this year, a class they have taken, and/or a research project they have been working on.  Having your child write a summary of what they have learned is a fantastic way to demonstrate progress.  

Another way share your student's progress is to write up your assessment by project.  For instance you worked on a community or family garden together.  You discuss how you preplanned by getting books from the library and  reading about plants, your internet research, the garden store you visited,  how you measured the rows, how you prepared the soil, did you count the plants, if you sold them the skills you used,  and anything else that your child learned.  You might include pictures of your child working in the garden, some notes your child took while researching, and a list of books your child read.  You might share the 1-3 projects that your family used to facilitate learning for the year.  Then maybe you share about trips, nature walks, park visits, any type of lesson, and art you do.

Recently, I have had families submit Power Point presentations to me.  They take pictures and write up the progress their student has made.  For instance, a stack of books their student has read, pictures of the art they have made, pictures of a math program or their student cooking with an explanation of the learning happening, or videos with their child playing an instrument, working on a project, or accomplishing a hobby.  Just an idea if you are proficient with Power Point.

You are trying to showcase what your child has accomplished this year.  Usually when I sit down and think about all we have  learned, I am excited about the progress my kids have made.   If you are working on learning most days you have made progress. This is your chance to celebrate by sharing it with me.

If I can help you in anyway let me know. Link to Freestyle Assessment

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Standarized Test vs. Narrative Portfolio Assessment

Reposted from Last year. . . 
A question I receive often is “Should I give my home educated student a standardized test at the end of the year, or complete a narrative portfolio assessment to fulfill the end of the year requirement for homeschooling in Ohio?”   I usually reply it depends on what kind of information you hope to gain.   One way to look at this question is to think “Do you want one picture of one moment in time, or a running movie with many pictures taken over time? “ 
A standardized test is a “snapshot “of a student at one moment in time.  A standardized test is scored in a consistent manner so you are able to compare your student to a group of students in the same grade who have taken the same test.  You usually receive a percentile ranking which tells you what percentage of the students taking the test your student scored better than.  For instance, if your student was in the 33rd percentile in math then your child scored better than 33 percent of students in the sample group from the publisher who took this test in math.
A standardized test is limited in that it is more likely to tell you what your student does not know versus what they do know or have learned this year.  A standardized test also dictates what the publisher feels is important for your student to know.  It does not take into account what your student has learned this past year. 
A narrative portfolio assessment is a group of work samples that reflect your student’s growth and progress over the last year.   It consists of many “snapshots” that come together to reflect what your student has accomplished this year.  You, as parent educator, get to showcase what your student has accomplished this year
Besides celebrating what your student has accomplished, a portfolio also helps you to plan instruction for the next year.   For instance, you realize you concentrated on learning your math facts, but did not spend as much time learning how to solve word problems.   Next year, you commit to working on more problem solving.  You look at your book list and notice that your student has mainly read adventure stories this past year.  You commit to introducing him/her to biographies, non-fiction, and /or some poetry next year to vary his/her reading diet.   I believe this is time well spent.  You are assessing your student’s needs and planning instruction based on those needs. 
A narrative portfolio assessment also gives you a chance to present what your child has accomplished to a certified Ohio teacher.  My hope is that when I review your student’s work I bring a different “set of eyes” to your student’s portfolio.   As an assessor, I try to provide encouragement to parents, insight into your student’s growth, and provide feedback to help you plan future instruction for your child.   My goal is to partner with you to celebrate your student’s accomplishments and encourage you on your home education journey.
Please click here to get started.  

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Narrative Portfolio Assessment Q & A (repost)

As the season for portfolio reviews has begun I wanted to repost this.  I hope it helps.  Please contact me with any questions.

Ohio homeschool law states "The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification."  A parent in Ohio has three choices on what they may send a with their homeschool notification.  1). Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test.  2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities. (3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent. (please note my understanding is that you would have needed to work this out with your superintendent last year when you sent in your homeschool notification.)

A written narrative is an option for an assessment report.  You have a certified Ohio teacher review work samples of your student's work to determine if your child has made progress in accordance with his/her ability last year.  The assessor then signs a form verifying that your student has  made progress, and you send that form to your school's superintendent along with your intent to homeschool the coming  year.

I am a homeschool mom who is also a certified Ohio teacher.  I am able to review your child's work samples, send you some encouraging notes, and send you the forms you need to send to your school district with your intent to home educate.    I enjoy reviewing work samples and love getting a chance to see the many different ways people home educate their children.  The following are a few common questions I hear in regards to narratives.

What if my student  is not reading?
You may send me a list of books you have read aloud  to your student, maybe the progress they have made in a phonics program,  and/or how many sight words that they know now as compared to the beginning of the year. 

What if I do not have physical samples that are easy to send to you?
You are welcome to take a picture,send me a link to a YouTube video, or write up what your student learned in that area.  I have enjoyed power point presentations, pictures of field trips and community gardens, and wonderfully written explanations about unit studies and cooking projects.  If you have questions on how to communicate what your student accomplished, please contact me.

What are you looking for?
I am looking for progress. I like to see that your student is completing  more complex math problems than he/she did at the  beginning of the year, I look at handwriting and writing samples to observe growth, and learn a great deal about your student from looking at the books they are reading now as compared to the ones they read in beginning of the year. I look at how your student has changed.   I do not look to see if you completely finished your history text book, made at least one salt relief map of a continent, and/or  if your bookshelves are organized by the Dewey Decimal system.  I am looking  for progress in your student by viewing his/her work samples.    (But, if your bookshelves are organized that way I would love to see a picture and know how you did it. )

I want to support you on your  home education journey.  I greatly enjoy helping other homeschool families. Let me know if I can help you this year!  Click here for how to get started.

Becky Boerner
Mom to 7 home educated children,  M Ed. in Reading Education.

Another  post  I have written dealt with standardized testing vs. a written narrative.  You may enjoy reading  if you are still pondering on what you would like to do for this year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Have I told you about my TV. . AKA . . .Audio Listening. . .

   We have had the same TV since 1996.  I thought we were all unique until I started talking to other homeschoolers.  Apparently, this is a trend.  We are all waiting for our old analog TV's to die.
   Oops, now I'm straying from my topic.

  Some time ago I started buying audios for my children to listen to.  It was in lieu of TV.  I thought I would share some of our family  favorites with you.

  Jim Weiss has many wonderful audio CD's.  Here's his company, Greathall Productions.  The first homeschool convention I attended he was next to speak in the auditorium that I was in.  People started filing in and seemed very enthused to see him.  I soon discovered why and sat on the edge of my seat as he wove his storytelling magic.  You can view his work by subject, age, and in chronological order.

We are also crazy about Adventures in Odyssey.  My children are glued to their audio players while listening to this.  We had a virtually silent car from our doorstep  to the parking lot of the Field Museum in Chicago.   You can download some episodes for free at the web site.  They also can be purchased through CBD or Library and Education.    My husband and I are always surprised at how involved we become in these entertaining episodes.

We also love Your Story Hour, The Jonathan Park series, and Lamplighter Theater.

Do you have any others you love?  Let me know.  I am always looking for more audios.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Places to Shop

What would you say if I told you my UPS man's name is Mike, and my children wave to him as he drives down the street, or runs a package to my door?  Or if I told you the postal worker who delivers my mail stopped and admired our new son for several minutes with my children and I a few weeks ago?    Well, I am a believer in online shopping.  My theory is why would I want to leave my home when one of the lovely people I know will deliver almost all I need in a brown box to me? 

I wanted to share some of my favorite sites with you.

Rainbow Resources   They have everything homeschool.  Their catalog is the size of a large phone book, and looks like one too.  They have books, toys, games, Cd's, DVDs. . . etc.  Their prices are much lower than other web sites.

This is my new favorite place.  Library and Educational Services.    They have great deals on books, Cd's and DVDs.  They run specials and have deep discounts.  You must declare yourself as a homeschooler to order.

Better World Books.  Oh I love this place.  They sell used books.  They have a bargain bin with books 3 for $10 or 4 for $12.  They have free shipping and have special sales to clean out their bargain bin.  They also give money to their literacy partners.  Fun to check out.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Welcome # 7!

It has been a busy winter here, and we are taking a spring break.  We added a son to our family at the end of January.  He is very well loved and never lacks for attention. 

 The joke around here is "It is finally noisy enough for the baby to fall asleep."  We think we are very clever.  

Have a good week!


Monday, April 02, 2012

Math Programs I have Loved. . . . ADD Math

Another resource I enjoy using is ADD Math.  (Arithmetic Developed Daily. )  It is a program that you complete about three times per week.  It starts in grade 1 and continues through grade 5.  The idea is to review all math skills during the year.  Each day you complete a few math problems, an oral problem, and a word problem. One day you will do problems with  money, another day measurement, and maybe another day probability.   You review all math strands throughout the year in a more consistent way.    It helps our kids to retain their math skills, and become better problem solvers.

ADD math teaches a specific method for solving  word problems.  For each problem you write out the information, second you decide which operation to use, third you write a math sentence with a box in place of the answer, and lastly you write the answer.  It is a nice way to systematically teach children how to solve word problems. You also are introducing the concept of solving for an unknown.

GROW publications also has daily reinforcers for science, social studies,writing and reading.  I find ADD math a great way to supplement my math program.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Math Programs I have Loved. . . . Math U See

    Most people seem to know about Math U See.  It has worked well for my son who is on the Autism Spectrum.  It has really helped him to learn math.  He is doing much better as he progresses through the program.  It is not a program that I would have personally liked as a child, but it seems to be a good fit for many students.

    The positives I see in the program are as follows.  First, you get DVD's which have Steve Demmy the founder demonstrating the lesson.  If you are not comfortable teaching math or just want your child to see someone else demonstrating a lesson, this is a powerful tool.  He has a lovely voice and we refer to him as the "happy man" at our house.  He has a great math attitude.  Second there are a limited number of problems on each page.  If you have a student who is overwhelmed by math this is great.   There are also many pages of practice and review in each lesson.  You can review them all or stop when your student has the concept.  A positive for some is that he shows many different ways to solve a problem.  He is really trying to accommodate different learning styles. 

    In my opinion if you think this is a program you would like to try, I would borrow this program first.  It is a commitment to a whole different way of thinking.  Which is good, but you want to know what you are getting into.

Happy Problem solving!!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Home Science Tools

Just this last year I discovered Home Science Tools.   I think they are a wonderful company with many wonderful science products.  They have many projects, dissection specimens, microscopes, and science related gifts for your student.  Many of the items are designed for use in a home, so you do not have to order 10 of this, or 15 of that. 

But to me the most exciting thing they offer is complete science kits for home-school curriculum. They offer kits for Apologia, Alpha  & Omega Life-Pac, Bob Jones, Christian Light, Monarch, and A Beka.  They also have kits for D.I.V.E., Real Science for Kids, and a few more. 

We bought a kit for the elementary Apologia experiments.  It was well worth it.  This way when you get to an experiment you have what you need. 

I also like to buy my kids science kits as gifts.  They seem to enjoy the fun of putting these together and learning something new.

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of spring!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Math Programs I have Loved. . . . Miquon Math

A few months ago I found a set of Miquon Math books at a thrift store.  It was quite a moment in thrifting history.  Now to tell you why I was so excited and why I like this math program.

I was first introduced to this program through Sonlight.  They recommended using it.  I was intrigued and bought one for my son.  I love this math program, because it is how I want to think, and want my kids to think.  It is the type of program where you  experiment and try to several different ways to do 3 x 3.  (3+3+3; 3x3; 27 x 1/3) You use manipulatives, find patterns,  and you experiment with math.  I enjoy working through the pages with my kids.

Their site describes the program in the following way:

Based on the belief that mathematical insight grows out of observation, investigation, and the discovery of patterns, the six workbooks of the Miquon Math Materials lead children through an exploration of mathematical relationships. Concrete models are not supplements to the written work but instead are the basis of it and are used continuously.

It just speaks to me.  But, it has not spoken to all my children.  My daughter who uses Teaching Texbtooks was annoyed by all the experimenting.  She wants to complete her math and be finished.  My son on the Autism Spectrum did not really like it either.  Just so you know.

It is a low cost program.  You could start with one book to see if it would work for your kids.  This part of the series is for grades 1-3(1-4).  They also have a Keys to Program.  More about that another time.  They have some downloadable forms on the web site you can check out as well.

Just some more math thoughts.  Have a great day!


Monday, March 05, 2012

Keep Filing. . . Binder for Veritas cards

We use the Veritas History and Bible cards.  They are a great fit for our family.  But, the cards have driven me nuts the last few year.  I tried punching holes in them and using binder rings.  The cards ripped forcing me to give inspirational talks to my children on how to handle them correctly.  By November my talk was losing some of its appeal both to me and my kids.  

This year I was lucky enough to find this blog that described how their family organized their Veritas History and/or Bible cards.  I was so excited, my husband who greatly appreciates organization was thrilled, and my children were happy to not hear another talk on the proper care of cards.  These binder and sheet protectors can be purchased from .    The specific ones I used were the 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 memo size. 


My binders.  I love the organization!! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Math Programs I have Loved. . . AOPS

I have written about The Art of Problem Solving classes and web site in the past, but it is worth sharing about them again.   It is truly a  very unique web site.  AOPS offers online subject classes for  Prealgebra  and up.  Their  classes are very affordable, and they are OK  with a variety of ages taking their classes.  The classes have a  big emphasis on problem solving, and your kids come out knowing math.   You can also participate in up to 3 online-class-sessions before dropping  the class for a refund.  AOPS continues to update and make their programs more user friendly.  I find them extremely responsive to my questions and appreciate their customer service.
They also have a  FREE program you can use called Alcumus.   Art of Problem Solving's Alcumus offers students a customized learning experience, adjusting to student performance to deliver appropriate problems and lessons.  They have a wealth of problems available for your student to solve.

The Art of Problem Solving does a nice job with gifted math students.  What I also like about them is that if your child is serious about math they have a very good reputation among colleges and math minded people.

Hope this helpful.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Math Programs I have Loved. . . . Teaching Textbooks.

I have a confession to make.  I love math programs.  I am constantly in search of the perfect math program.  Not as much fun mind as the search for the perfect purse, but still pretty fun.  I am always hoping that one of these days I will turn up the math program that will meet all the needs of all my children and be life changing.  At this point, I have not.  I actually have five different math programs going in my house.  So over the next few months I am going to share "Math Programs I have Loved."

I wanted to start with Teaching Textbooks.  Teaching Textbooks is a fairly new addition to our household math programs.  I bought it out of sheer desperation for my daughter.  Let me explain, I love math, and  I come from a long line of women who are very good at math.  My grandmother was playing competitive bridge up to the age of 94 while doing all the math in her head.  I pride myself on being able to figure any percent off in a matter of minutes.  My daughter is not like that.  She gets frustrated and does not have the love of numbers that I possess.  We both cried during math instruction.  I needed something that was positive for her, rewarded progress, and would help teach her math independently.  Teaching Textbooks did this for us. 

To begin their program they recommend you take a placement test.   I highly agree.  It was a very accurate in placing my daughter in the correct level.  You can also test the program online which we did.  That also confirmed it would be a good fit  for  my daughter.   They promised that I could return it within 30 days if I did not like it and that sealed the bargain.  I bought it at the Midwest Homeschool Convention.

When I talked to the Teaching Textbook staff at the convention they told me they do not like to talk about grades, but levels in their program.  Remember, I was desperate and would have called it whatever they wanted me to.  I would say the program is probably behind other programs at the same level, but, I do not think that is a big deal.  If your child switches into it and is doing harder work, the placement test will take them up level.

We bought the CD's and the textbook.  I am glad we have the textbook, because she shows her work in the book.  It is also nice to have a hard copy of what she is doing.  Plus,  I think it is good practice to be able to do math on paper.  Most high stakes tests are still using paper.  

For my daughter this is a fabulous fit. She is happy, there is no more crying, and we are better friends.   It has been worth every penny I paid for it.  We are on our second level.

If you have a child who is gifted at math and runs through things quickly.  Then I am not sure if this is the program for you. I think the repetition and spiral topics in the curriculum would probably be annoying to them. 

Hope this helps,

Monday, February 06, 2012

Blogs I follow. . .

I have to tell you I really enjoy reading others blogs.  I have to set a time limit on my reading time.  It can be so addicting.  I love blogs with contests and specialized interests.    Here is a random list of some.  Maybe there is one that will speak to you.


Lisa McAfee has a blog.  She homeschooled her two boys all the way through high school.  Her blog is Schoolmarm Ohio  She posts twice a week.  She has the looking back advantage.

My friend Amy posts about homeschool, autism, and gives away great stuff at Growing Fruit.

My friend Tammy shares her Charlotte Mason homeschool approach including homeschooling  a child with Autism.  She has blogged  for many year at Aut-2B- Home in Carolina. 

Large Families

Raising Olives is a large homeschooling family.  She has great contests and I enjoy her pictures. She has some practical homeschooling ideas for big families.

Smockity Frocks is another large homeschooling family.  I always love reading about people who live in Texas.  I mean that.  They just live larger or something.  She is pretty funny.  More good contests.

Large Family Logistics.  You have heard my love of this one in a previous post.    She does not post often, but I enjoy her posts.  She loves organization and it speaks to me.

My all time favorite author is Patricia Veryan.  She is rather obscure, but still a favorite for me.  Nancy Eads keeps her fan club going at Patricia Veryan Fan Club.  

Just a random aside.  Tell me your favorite blogs.  I am always looking.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Being intentional in the world of non-fiction.

Teaching children to successfully read non-fiction is often a forgotten skill.  It seems like we think if they can read fiction. . . they certainly should be able to read non-fiction.  That is not necessarily true.  Learning to read non-fiction is an important skill that we need to help our children develop. 
Below are a  a few ideas that may be helpful.

For preschool, kindergarten, elementary students I recommend simply reading non-fiction to them and talking to them about what you have read together.    Some further ideas to  help with comprehension would be to have your student  draw pictures of what they have read, write a one or two sentence summary, or tell you what the passage was about. (narration).

For Kindergarden/first grade students you can make a simple list of what they want to learn about a topic before they read a book.  That gets the student to actively engage their mind before reading.  Check the list at the end to see if any of the questions were answered.

A more advanced method for older students is the KWL chart.  There are different variations, but this is a basic one.  Write what you know about a topic, what you would like to know about a topic, and after you have read what you have learned.  I think it is a very good method to reading non-fiction.

Another graphic organizer for Elementary and middle school is the super six method.  The student writes down six things they have learned while reading a non-fiction text.   I would let the student know you will be asking them to do this after they finish reading a selection before they read it.

Lastly, for junior high students and high school students a great method for reading a text book is the SQR3.  SQR3 stand for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.  This article discusses the method in detail and is a great resource.  I think it is very helpful for high schoolers to have a plan when reading a text book.  We often assume our students can do this when they are not sure where to even start.  I believe this is an essential skill for older students to learn. 

Hopefully this is a good place to start.  Being intentional and teaching our students how to read non-fiction is critical to their education.  It is a skill they will carry with them throughout their lives.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The year is halfway over!!! Part 2

I wanted to write some ideas on what you can do if you realize that you're not going to make it through your curriculum.  Just some suggestions.

1.  Look through the curriculum, and find some parts you can skip.    Does your student already know a part fairly well you can skip?  Can you take some end of the chapter test and use that information to determined what parts you can skip?    Did you cover another part last year that you can skip?

2. Continue the curriculum through the summer.  We do math all year.  It seems that stopping math doesn't help at our house.  Sometimes doing something even 2-3 days per week in the summer will get you through. 

3.  Continue the curriculum through the next year.  Sonlight cores can be done in 18 months.

4. Double up on some parts.    For instance do two worksheets only doing every 2nd or 3rd problem on each one.  This is a good thing to do if you want your student to not completely skip something and review a topic being covered. .

5.  If it involves reading books, maybe get some on CD or downloads  from the library for some of the books covered.  Your student still gets the exposure, but it moves along faster.  Maybe listen to them in the car or while you are at an appointment.

6.  Can you substitute a one day field trip for a topic?  Can you carry that topic to the next year?

I am sure there are many more ideas.  You know your student best, and can determine what they need.


Monday, January 16, 2012

The year is halfway over!!! Part 1

  I think this is that moment in time for everyone where you realize the year is halfway over and chances are, you're not going to make it through your curriculum, or all you intended to study this year.  This can be a feeling of complete panic.  What will you do?  Will your child graduate?  Will you be in trouble with someone, the state, your mother, the national board of registered homeschoolers??  The good news is you're not in trouble (as I am sure you know).   The curriculum police will not come to your door.  You will even be able to move your child up at the end of the year.

I wanted to start by sharing a story from my first year of teaching.  I was terrified that I had to finish the social studies book.  I figured if I didn't, I'd be in big trouble.  As goofy as this sounds now.  I paced the whole thing out.  I had those kids jumping.  It was a 4th grade social studies curriculum where they had to learn about all the regions of the United States of America and the states within each region.  I got through all the regions and we learned about all 50 states.  I was done on time and figured I might be able to keep my job in Georgia.  I remember telling the principal that I had accomplished  this.  She looked at me with sheer amazement.  I told my fellow forth grade teachers.  They smiled, laughed, and said "We're just doing our best.  If we don't get to South Dakota, we really don't think it is a big deal."  I would be lying if I told you I was not surprised.

But honestly, all their students were fine in both classes.  I am fairly confident that it made little difference in the long run.  I pretty much stressed myself out and probably my students for nothing.  You see, most teachers do not get through the whole curriculum in each subject every year.    There are too many other things that come up along the way, they spend more times on certain parts, and there is simply not enough time.  Plus, the secret that I learned from my veteran colleagues was that curriculum are made by people.  They are not sent down from heaven and carved in stone like the Ten Commandments.  They are suggestions.  They are what a group of educators think a child that age should get through in a year.  They also give you more work than you can get through to look challenging and not leave you hanging in April.  They are made by fallible people.  They are really just suggestions.

Next week I will give you some ideas on what to do to sort out what is important.  Of course, they will also just be suggestions.

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Forms posted

January is a great time of year to start preparing for an end of the year assessment. You will appreciate anything you get done now in May.   Some simple things you can do.

1.  Try finding samples and putting them in a file folder.

2. Write down some accomplishments your student has made.  (put in above folder. )

3.  Take some pictures of projects your student has accomplished so far. 

4. Have your student do a writing sample and copy it.  Maybe copy a thank you note, or a list they have made, or maybe a story they have written.

5. Download the forms you need here and begin saving samples.  

Celebrate how far you have come this year!

All the best,

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The winner is. . . . .

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the contest.  I really appreciate all the support.  
The two winners are  Judy (homeschool penguin) and Laura Phelps!  Congratulations!

Please contact me for your 'you won' certificate. I hope they're a help to your family.

Please contact me if I can help you in anyway this year.  It's a dreary day here, but I know the tulips will shortly be emerging and it'll be time to finish up the school year.

Enjoy the day!!


Monday, January 02, 2012

Announcing Narrative Assessment Contest

This contest has ended.  Thanks

Happy New Year!  I wanted to start the year off by  giving  away two FREE   Assessments (valued at $30.00 each)  on January 12, 2012 at noon.    These assessments 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 1, 2012  and August 31, 2012.  
Here is how you can enter.  Please leave a way for me to contact you as well.  

Required for Entry--

1.  Become a Google  follower or let me know you are one and then leave a comment below.  (directions to do this are at the bottom of this email. )

Additional Entries:

2. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter and let me know in a comment. 

3. Post about this contest on a home school email loop or yahoo group and leave me a  comment.

4. Became an email subscriber( Follow by Email)  to this blog and leave me a comment letting me know you did. 

5. Blog about our contest and let me know in a comment. 

Please leave a separate comment for each of the above items that you complete.  You may have up to 5 entries.  I  will choose 2 comments  randomly to determine the winners.  

I am very excited  about this contest, and hope it helps 2 families out in 2012.  Thanks for reading and I wish you the best of luck!!   

Let the contest begin!
 PS  How to become a follower.
To become a follower--Under "Thank you for following! "   on the right hand side is a button that says  FOLLOW.  Click on that button and follow the steps to set up a Google account.  If you already have a Google account then use that one to sign in.    It will lead you through the steps.  Then come back and click on the word  COMMENT under this post.  A new window will open.  Scroll down to the end and write "I am following" in the box.  Follow the directions to post.  If you have have trouble please email me at for help.