Saturday, December 27, 2014

Author of the Month: 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."  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Come Back in January for the Narrative Assessment Give-Away!

Please come back January 2, 2015 for the Fourth Annual Narrative Assessment Give-Away!  I will be giving away two free Narrative Assessments valued at $30.00 each!  Very exciting. 

I have updated all my forms for the 2014-2015 school year.  This is a great time to download the assessment forms you need and put aside a work sample.  It will be May before you know it!!

Happy New Year!!!


A picture to remember May!! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Author of the Month. . Chris Van Allsburg

I remember the first time my college professor read us the Polar Express.  I had not heard of the book before.  She passed out silver bells with purple ribbons and told us to always remember that someone believed in us.  I did the same each year with my students and my children.  I was and still am fascinated by Chris Van Allsburg and his amazing illustrations.

Chris Van Allsburg has a wonderful website filled with his books, how he got started in art, and updates on his life.  There are many activities on my Pinterest Board using his books across the curriculum. There is a great interview on Reading Rockets about his life.

Enjoy reading his books this December.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nature Girl-a guide to caring for God's creation by Karen Whiting and Rebecca White

Being a “green girl” for God means more than just caring for our planet. It also means appreciating God’s creations and understanding our responsibility in caring for the earth.

Each chapter covers different topics like water, air, energy, recycling, and renewing the earth, and includes crafts, Scripture verses, games, quizzes, interviews with real people and quotes from real girls. The book also contains science-based activities, career ideas, plus resources for more information.

Part of the bestselling Faithgirlz brand, Nature Girl: A Guide to Going Green is a fun read for any girl who enjoys science or the outdoors and a great resource for parents, homeschoolers, and educators.

Nature Girl is a fun-filled book for girls ages 8-12.  The book has crafts, recipes, helpful tips, career ideas, quizzes, experiments, and ways to connect the reader to God’s creation.  It is formated so the reader does not have to read straight through the book, but  can choose a topic of interest and go directly to that spot.

I was thrilled to find this book.  The book is a wonderful way to engage girls in science.  The quizzes are fun and teach you to save water, encourage recycling, reduce your energy usage, and explore science careers.  The recipes include how to make air fresheners, body scrubs, smoothies, dog treats, and baked goods.  I was inspired to try some as I was reading!

All of the activities used items that are easy to find around your house or a local grocery store.  I loved that the book did not use technology, encouraged girls to work with their hands, and get outdoors!  The book would be an excellent way to supplement your science curriculum, as a central resource in a unit study, or just a fun gift for any girl who loves to explore.  I highly recommend this book!

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.”

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Author of the month Cynthia Rylant

For the month of November, I am thrilled to announce as our author Cynthia Rylant.  She is a great favorite in our family.  The Henry and Mudge series, Mr. Putter and Tabby series, and When I was Young in the Mountains are wonderful!  Ms. Rylant has a wonderful website that tells more about her life and her books.  She lived for a time in Ohio which endears her to all of our hearts.

There are many wonderful activities that can be used with her books.  I have set up a Pinterest Board with a few I have found.  Here is a wonderful article about her life and books as well.

So this November you can read In November by Cynthia Rylant and celebrate the Author of the Month.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Myths about Home Education

The year is underway, and hopefully you are getting in the groove of home education.  After having the privilege of talking to many home educators in person and through my business, I have found that I am not alone in believing some homeschool myths. Though none of us believe them every day, it is easy to let them slip in.

Myth:  I think his her homeschool day always flows way better than mine.
Fact:  Sometimes his/her day is better than yours, but sometimes yours day is better than theirs.  That sounds so simple, but when you are alone at your house and watching chaos ensue it is easy to believe that myth.  

Myth:  When others homeschool, their children sit around the table and smile up at them, complete their work without complaint, and do what they are supposed to do. 
Fact: Most families' kids are probably like yours and occasionally argue, act stubborn, and maybe even cry about doing their work.  (Of course, I have only heard about other children doing this.☺)

Myth:  Other people do so many amazing things with their kids all day long, while I am just trying to get through the day! 
Fact:  You do amazing things with your kids.  I have looked at hundreds and hundreds of portfolios over the past five years.  I have never looked at a family that did not do at least one thing amazingly well.  I never cease to be amazed at the creativity and ideas that flow from people.  If you are home educating each day, you are doing something amazing!

Myth:  Home Educated Children are always very grateful that you are home educating them, and regularly tell you.     
Fact:  You care about your children and are pouring out your life for them.  They occasionally will say something nice, but they are kids.  How many of us were that grateful to our parents until we left home?  Hopefully we can help cultivate grateful hearts, but know that kids are kids.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

How do I help my child become a good reader?

 I sorted through my kids winter clothes this week.  I wanted to post something that I loved from past posts on Ohio Homeschool.  I felt I needed to hear this again. Happy fall!

One of the ways we help our children become good readers is to give them direct instruction on how to be one.   The most effective and simple way I know to help your child become a good reader is by sharing your thought process with them as you read a book to them.    By sharing your insights and the insights below, you are helping your child to become a good reader.   I have divided up the process of  reading to before, during, and after.  Each part shares what a good reader does and then gives you some things to say to your child to share your thinking process. 

Before Reading, a good reader will think about what is the purpose of what I am about to read.  They will ask, "Am I trying to gain information on a topic or find out what happens in a story?"  By stating what you think the purpose of a story or text is  out loud you are modeling what good readers do.
A good reader will look at the title, pictures, headings, bold face print and begin to ask wondering questionsYou can ask these out-loud before you begin a story with your child.   I wonder what this story is about?  I wonder why that person is doing this on the cover?  I wonder what is going to happen in this story? I wonder if this is similar to another book I read?  I wonder if this relates to something else I have been learning?

During Reading a good reader will form pictures in their head about what they are reading.   You can facilitate this with your child by  sharing what pictures are in your head as you read a story.  "I am picturing the little girl sitting by the lake.  What do you see in your head?"  At first your child may say "nothing."  That is fine.  Encourage them to make pictures in their heads of what they are reading and keep sharing the pictures that you have.  
A good reader continue to ask wonder questions during a reading. You can pause in the middle of story and wonder out loud to your child.    I wonder what what will happen next?  Did that make sense? I wonder if why that happened? I wonder if this information verifies what I already know about  this topic or if it is new to me?
A good reader will reread a passage that did not make sense.  You can say to your child "That really did not make sense to me.  I am going to reread it."  Then reread and discuss the passage.
A good reader is able to make inferences when reading. You can say to your child, I think that character is implying (blank)   I think the author is trying to say (blank)   Making inferences is a big part of reading comprehension.  Let your child know what you are inferring to make sense of a story or text.  It will help them learn to inference.

After Reading a story or text a good reader will check to see if the predictions they made came true.  You can model this by saying," I was not right about that prediction and this happened instead.  It happened just like I thought it would.  My predictions were right. "  You can also talk about any predictions your child made. For non-fiction you might say " I did learn about (topic) just like I thought I would. I thought this what have better information on (blank).  This verifies what we learned on our field trip." 
Good readers are able to retell a story or summarize what they read to someone.  By sharing your retelling of a story, or sharing what you have learned, you model what a good reader does.  Asking your child to retell a story, or summarize is also helpful.

I try to do the above type of reading with my kids  1-3 times per week.  I do not think you need to do it every time you read something to them. At first it seems strange to stop in the middle of a book and reveal your thinking to your child.  But it is a very powerful way to instruct them on becoming a good reader.  It becomes more natural the more you try it.  Your child wants to hear what other good readers are thinking about. Especially when that good reader is you.  

You as a parent are a good reader and by modeling your thought process you give your child a true gift.  You are drawing them into the group of good readers, and that is a gift that lasts a lifetime.


Saturday, October 04, 2014

Time to put aside a work sample.

I am in denial.  I keep thinking that it is still summer.  That the days are still long and the leaves are still on the trees.
But it is October and we are into fall.  Which means that I have been home educating for awhile,  and I need to put aside some work samples for all my kids.

 Hopefully you are thinking the same thing.  You can date some samples and put them in a manilla folder, take a picture of the work samples with your phone and store them, and/or take a picture of a project.  The important thing is to have a sample from the beginning of the year.

So enjoy fall, and put aside some work.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pat Hutchins Author for October.

Our author of the month is Pat Hutchins!  She is written many lovely books including The Wind Blew.  I have enjoyed learning about Ms. Hutchins.  She does not have a web site, but her publisher Harper Collins  has a lovely biography about her. 

I have set up a Pinterest board with a few activities I have found using her books.  Her books are just so sweet and to be savored.  I enjoy reading them to my kids and love how  she uses beautifully simple language. 

Hopefully you will grab some copies of her books this month and enjoy reading them at your house.

Happy Reading!  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

You might be a homeschooler if. . . get really excited when your mom tells you can do the dishes and solve Two Minute Mysteries at the same time. find a moth in the backyard and insist that your brother look up on Wikipedia to find the exact species, and
...then see if that same brother will read you a story. get really excited to observe the 4 inch wide root that is running down the middle of the old drain pipe that is being replaced. think that your older brother's and sister's math manipulatives are blocks to play with. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Teaching High School: 5 Things to Remember Guest post by Lisa McAfee

Teaching High School: 5 Things to Remember

Time flies rather quickly and before you know it, you have a high school student! Don't panic, because in many ways teaching high school is easier than elementary school. With high school students they are able to be given an assignment and complete it without much intervention, if any at all.

Many thoughts were going through my head when I was thinking of the most important things to remember when teaching high school so I asked for help from some home school graduates, my sons. After much discussion, we narrowed it down to five areas that are important when teaching high school students.

Respect is one of the most important aspects of teaching a teen. If you show your student respect by treating them as a responsible young man or young woman you will see your child flourish. Speak to them as you would like them to speak to you; respect their privacy; respect their time; and respect them as young adults.

Expect your children to do what you have asked. Set realistic goals for your scholar and then help them to achieve that goal. If you are not sure what those academic goals are to be you can look at  websites such as the Ohio Department of Education. If your child is not sure if they are wanting to go on to college, prepare them as though they were going because it is easier to study a foreign language now then when they decide to go to college when they are in their twenties and one of the admission requirements is two years of a foreign language. Hold the academic standard bar high for your student, they will achieve those standards with your guidance.

Deadlines are one of the hardest things for us as a homeschool parent to hold our students to because we know what their schedules look  like; we know if they have had to work or had an illness. But, when your graduate goes off to college or enters the workforce, no one is taking into any of that into consideration. You are given a deadline and are expected to meet it. So, make that transition  for your high school student by setting deadlines.

Consequences should be in place and discussed in the event that your student does not meet the academic deadline or doesn't do the assignment that was given to them.  Discuss with them work that has to be completed and what will happen if they fail to meet the deadline.

Independence is what we want for our children. I know it was hard for me to think of my sons not living with us anymore, but I also knew that it was necessary for them in order to become adults. Was it easy? Not at first, but my sons are doing well and are happy living on their own. My youngest son told me the other day, "Thanks for not always checking up on me, Mom." I guess that's a compliment? :)
Wishing you well,
~Lisa McAfee

Lisa McAfee has graduated two boys in home education.  She tutors and teaches in Cincinnati.  She blogs at  at Schoolmarm Ohio.  She is also a dear friend.  The opinions she has expressed are entirely her own.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Mess Dectives and The Case of the Lost Temper by Karen Poth

A Lesson in Self-Control
In this Level One VeggieTales I Can Read, The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper, Bob and Larry have another important case … track down the Masked Door Slammer. But when the investigation doesn’t go the way Bob wants, and things go wrong, he begins to lose his temper.
Will a gentle reminder from Larry help Bob get his temper under control?

 The Mess Detectives and the Case of the Lost Temper is an I Can Read book by Karen Poth. This Level One book is around 32 pages and each page has around three to five lines on each page.  The story is the adventure of Bob and Larry as detectives who investigate the case of a door slammer.  The book follows Bob and Larry as they solve the problem of being annoyed with each other.

As a homeschool mom of seven and a former reading teacher I can say I have sat through hundreds of beginning reader books.  The story did not seem as contrived to me as other beginning reader books I have read over the years.  The story successfully solved a problem in a natural way with limited vocabulary and sentence length.  The pictures are delightful and engaging.  I can recommend this book for beginning readers. 

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.”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

H. A. & Margaret Rey Authors of the month! A. & Margaret Rey are the authors for the month for August!  They lived absolutely fascinating lives.  They were both born in Germany and also spent some time in Brazil. They both later sought refuge from the Nazis at Ch√Ęteau Feuga, an old castle owned by some friends in southern France.  As the Nazis approached Paris they both escaped on bicycles just hours before Paris fell.  They carried with them the manuscript for Curious George.  They then ended up in New York City and published Curious George.

When researching I found some fascinating resources.  The Jewish Museum in New York did an exhibit on their art.  It is wonderful to see their artwork.  The New York Times also did a piece on the exhibit and more about the Rey's lives.  The University of Southern Mississippi houses all of the papers of the Reys and has some information on their lives.

I have set up a Pinterest board with some ideas.  My favorite is this free preschool printable packet. I also love this unit study on Curious George and the Houghton Mifflin site with more information on Curious George.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Music Appreciation

On a happy note, let's talk about resources for teaching music.  I am musically challenged so I am always thinking of new ways to help expand my kid's musical horizons. publishing has a wonderful Music Appreciation Program.  It introduces children to seven different composers and includes biographies, a teacher's manual and music CDs.  It can be bought individually or as a set.  We are using it with some of our children next year.  Here are some more thorough reviews if you want more information. 

Classics for Kids is a wonderful web site for teaching kids about classical music.  The web site features music, videos, lesson plans, and newsletters you can sign up for.  It is a wealth of information.

I also love the Piano Guys.  They put together music videos with classical music while playing in interesting locations.   The song Frozen with Vivaldi is below. 

They also have a YouTube channel called Behind the Scenes where they tell how they made the video.

Some places to get you started.
~ Becky

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Find Your Homeschooler’s Career Path and They’ll Be Set For Life by JK Mergens

 Today's guest post is from JK Mergens  the author of the Learn Math Fast System.  I have had such a positive response to her first post I asked her to come back and visit.
  You can still purchase the books for $5 off with the code OHIO It is valid until August 31, 2014.  The coupon code is entered during checkout in the field below the "Phone Number" and "Email" fields, but it doesn't work with Paypal.  (Paypal customers may use  "Contact Us" form, tell JK the coupon code, and she will refund $5 to their account.) ) This post contains an affiliate link.  

Most little boys want to grow up to be a fireman.  Little girls typically want to be a veterinarian or nurse.  Never do you hear, “I want to be a Mechanical Engineer when I grow up.”  But if you have a child who enjoys math and is fascinated by machinery, then Mechanical Engineering may be the perfect career choice.  As homeschooling parents, the best thing we can do for our children is to help them select a career that interests them and then show them the path to get there.  
Our son grew up watching his Dad build houses, so the construction industry was an obvious career choice.  But our son was more interested in a job that climbs the corporate ladder than an actual ladder.  He really excelled in math, so my husband and I explained to him that an engineer is the person who uses math to make sure the houses will be strong enough to withstand high wind speeds and heavy snow loads.  His eyes popped open and from that moment on he knew he wanted to be a Structural Engineer.  Now we just had to figure out how to accomplish that goal.
We did some research and found that he would need to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering in order to become an engineer.  Before that, he would need to earn an Associate’s Degree; his path was set.  He graduated at 16, enrolled in college, took all the required classes, and by age 21 he had that degree. Today he is a successful Engineer. 
If you have a student who enjoys math, then engineering may be an excellent career choice.  There are several different types of engineering professions and knowing a little bit about some of them may help you find an intriguing career path for your math loving student.  
Transportation Engineer
Have you ever seen a map that shows a freeway with one of those “four-leaf clover” on/off ramp systems?  Have you ever noticed that some yellow lights stay on longer than other traffic lights?  And why do you suppose the angle of the road changes during a sharp curve?  It is all based on math.  A Transportation Engineer is the one who designs our roads and freeways and each decision is made using math.  If your child seems fascinated by this design, then this may be the career path for him/her.
Structural Engineer
Have you ever heard of someone wanting to remove a wall in their house, but uncertain whether or not it is a load bearing wall?  Well my son can tell you.  He combined his math skills with his construction knowledge and became a Structural Engineer.  He now spends his days calculating things like what size beams should be used in order for a building to be structurally sound.  How many and what size nails are required to make sure a house doesn’t sway in the wind or fall during an earthquake.  He can tell you how much concrete needs to be poured into the ground to make sure a tall sign won’t fall over.  He uses geometry to draw the construction plans and believe it or not, he uses algebra every day.   

Electrical Engineer
Have you ever blown a fuse in your house?  Did you have to go to the fuse box and flip a switch to restore the power?  That panel of circuits is what it takes to give your house enough power.  Now imagine the size of panel it must take to run a shopping mall.  That type of electrical panel needs to be designed by an Electrical Engineer.
An electrician runs wires through your house and hooks them up to the electrical outlets and lights.   An Electrical Engineer is the one who designs an electrical system.  For example, an airplane has miles of wires inside it to provide things like the little overhead lights and seatbelt signals.  An electrical engineer is the one who draws this system on paper for the electricians to install. 
To find out if you have a young electrical engineer, purchase a toy similar to this one at Toys R US and see how long it keeps his/her interest.

Civil Engineer
The next time it rains, have your children watch where the water goes.  Does it flow down the roof, into the gutters and then disappear into an underground pipe?  Does it run down the streets and drain into a steel grate?  Rain water has to be routed to the right place, so the streets and your yard don’t flood.  There are miles of pipes underground and they are all designed by a Civil Engineer.
Ask your kids where they think the water in the kitchen sink goes or where it came from.  They are both connected to another set of underground pipes.   A Civil Engineer has to make sure these pipes run downhill or are pumped uphill.  If you could see through the ground, you would see all kinds of pipes, tanks, and pumps.  That is called the infrastructure.  This is all the work of a Civil Engineer. 
If your family has ever been through a flood, explain to your child how it happened and see if he/she is interested in finding a cure.  Sometimes a tragedy can be the catalyst to a career path.
Mechanical Engineer
When I was a child, I watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on TV.  During a segment of that show called “Picture Picture,” Mr. Rogers would show footage of a factory at work.  I loved watching how the machines could do stuff like turn a roll of metal into soup cans and then seconds later they are labeled, sealed, and packed in a box.  Those machines are designed by Mechanical Engineers.  They use math and ingenuity to design machines with moving parts that will perform a certain task.  This is called automation.
One day when I was homeschooling my son, we spent a few hours making a little contraption that would ultimately turn on a little fan.  It started by dropping a ball down a plastic race car track.  That would trigger something else to cause a chain reaction until finally something heavy would land on the button that powered the fan.  It was much like the game “Mouse Trap.”
Try making a mini-factory or gravity-powered contraption during your homeschool day and see if it sparks any interest. We had a blast making ours.

Is Math Holding Your Student Back?
These are just a few examples of the many, many math related careers.  I encourage you to take a day to explore some career options with your children.  Look for their individual strengths and interests and then give them ideas of occupations that use those skills.  If math is holding them back from their dream job, try reading my series of math books, the Learn Math Fast System.  Even if your child is years behind in math, it’s not too late to give them the tools and power they need to get the degree of their choice.

  You can still purchase the books for $5 off with the code OHIO It is valid until August 31, 2014.  The coupon code is entered during checkout in the field below the "Phone Number" and "Email" fields, but it doesn't work with Paypal.  (Paypal customers may use  "Contact Us" form, tell JK the coupon code, and she will refund $5 to their account.) 

JK Mergens is the author of the Learn Math Fast System, a series of six books that teach 1st - 11th grade math using the unique methods she created to teach her son.  JK has been married to Mick, her high school sweetheart, for almost thirty years.  Together they homeschooled their only son in the beautiful state of Washington.  Her articles have been published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Red Deer’s Child Magazine, Edmonton’s Child Magazine, and in the June 2014 issue of the Washington State Homeschool Organization’s (WHO) Newsletter.  Her seventh book, High School Geometry, will be released later this year.  Please visit her website