Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review and Give-Away for OHIO Homeschooling Guide & Directory by Renee Brown

 This post contains affiliate links

Note to HSN Members:  I am so sorry.  I sent the email to HSN  on 3/29 about 2  weeks ago and it was not published until 4/11.  I apologize for any inconvenience as the contest has ended.  

I get many questions from families on how to start home educating in Ohio, about field trips, and available resources in their area.  I have recently had the privilege of connecting with Renee Brown and reading her e-book OHIO Homeschooling Guide & Directory.  Here is a summary of what is included in her book as listed on her web page. 

· Homeschool Legalities
1. Requirements for Home Education
2. Sources for legal assistance, if needed.
3. Academic Assessment Requirements, Options and How-To’s.
4. Recent changes to educational laws regarding home education.

· Enhancement Opportunities
1. Homeschool Co-ops, Support Groups & Meet up groups.
2. Enhancement Class Options


· Field Trip Destinations
1. Arts, Business & Industry, Farms, Nature Centers
2. History, Sports, Zoos and more.

· Homeschooling Methods
1. Teaching Styles
2. Learning Styles
3. Curriculum options designed for specific styles.

· Additional Support

1. Statewide Support Organizations
2. Local Retail Stores
3. Online Stores
4. Used Curriculum Sources in the State
5. My Favorite Curriculum
6. Online Support

I feel this is an AMAZING resource for families home educating in the state of Ohio!   Renee answers your questions and provides great resources to help you with your home education journey.  Renee tells you how to get started on Home Educating.  She walks you through the process of notifying your district to home educate in Ohio step by step.   She talks about different assessment opportunities in Ohio, and includes a link to my blog. 

 Her resource pages are filled with field trips around the state, local groups, and how to choose the best curriculum for your family.  This is the guide I wish I'd had when I started home educating years ago.  I found several organizations and resources in my area that I had not heard of.  She has done excellent research from which you will benefit immensely.

Now for the really exciting news!!  Renee has offered to give away one copy of her book to someone at Ohio Homeschool Assessments.  Please enter using  Rafflecopter below.  She also has provided a code  " HSA " to get the book at a 50% off.  The book usually sells for $5.99.  The code is good through April 30, 2014.

Good Luck!   Hopefully you will win, but if not, I would suggest you grab a copy at half off!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Renee Brown provided a copy of OHIO Homeschooling Guide & Directory for me to review.  I gave you my honest review, and was not required to give a good review. This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jr. FLL (Jr. First Lego League)

My son and I were lucky enough to participate in the Jr. FLL this year.  (Junior First Lego League)  The Jr. FLL is for kids 6-9 by January 1 of that school year.  It is a fabulous program that is perfect for home schoolers.

The program works in this way.  You are given a theme at the beginning of the season in August.  This year, the theme was Natural Disasters.  The team then narrows down to a specific topic within that theme to research, then they research the topic, create a model with at least one moving part based on their research, make a "Show Me" poster, and then attend a First Lego League Event to display their model and poster. 

Our team decided on earthquakes.  They boys did a great job researching and putting together their model.  They learned to work as a team, and how to effectively present their topic.  They worked on their model together, comprising and sharing ideas.  It was a great expereince for everyone.

Putting together a JR. FLL team is great for a homeschool co-op, kids in your neighborhood, at your church, or any local civic group.   There are many resources provided by Jr. FLL to help you as well. The rules are pretty flexible and all the kids come out learning about teamwork, research, and how to present. What is there not to love?  We had a great time!  


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Improving Math Instruction: Reviewing Daily

 I just took a class on math instruction to go towards renewing my Ohio teaching certificate.  I read an interesting book for class call Accessible Mathematics on improving math instruction for all students.  One of the ideas mentioned was daily review.   Daily review of math concepts learned in the past is so important to keep our kids on track with their learning.

They book suggested spending the first 5-10 minutes of math class/time asking 5-10 questions on past learning out loud, and having the student(s) write the answer down on their paper. The teacher should include questions on measurement, math facts, geometry, money, and data representation. 

Some math curricula include a review part within their program.  A supplemental resource is Evan Moor Daily Math Practice.  Here is an example of the 5th grade review.  It has five questions per day that review math for that grade level.  

Another program is Arithmetic Done Daily, or ADD Math.  I have written about this program before, and it is one I use with all my kids.  I like the daily review plus word problems that are included. I have noticed my kids know more going into a new math topic when we are keeping up with ADD math. 

Reviewing math daily is a great way to keep our kid's math skills sharp and used.  Math is so important, and daily review is one of the ways we move our kids forward in math.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Guest Post: Allison Haley

 Today's guest blog post is by Allison Haley.  Allison and her sister-in-law have created a portfolio system called Learning Keepers. It is a way to organize all of your portfolio information.  Read on to find out more. 

Why Portfolios Always Troubled Me
First, we had some great times and I wanted to enjoy looking back at those with my kids. Secondly, after years of homeschooling multiple kids, I practically needed a storage unit. It was always a struggle to compile the necessary papers for my year end review.  Now, my assessor simply logs in and does my review online. Finally, and most importantly, it pained me about what it really communicated about education. When a learning activity is done, you never look back. There was no connecting what we are currently learning with what we have done previously. Why work hard on beautiful projects and writing when they get the same treatment as clothes you outgrew five years ago? My heart knew it was not communicating the value that I really felt their education deserved. 

How I Document
I live in Ohio, so fortunately portfolios are one of the three options we have to document progress for our children. Even if it weren't, I would do exactly what I do today. To document our learning, I use's ePortfolio platform. Frankly, I believe in portfolios and the power they have for the homeschooling family so much so that I partnered with my family to build an electronic portfolio system. It was professionally built here in the United States for homeschoolers just like my family. My portfolio is the hub around which my entire homeschool functions.
LearningKeeper was built with the busy mom in mind. It is mobile friendly and will work on your computer or mobile device. You can set up your whole family in three to five minutes. LearningKeeper lets you add information for one or more students at a time.

What I Document
Each of my kids are different and my portfolio gives me the freedom and flexibility to show his or her individual progress as the story of his life unfolds. Since I can upload photos, videos, audio files, URLs, and anything else you can think of, I document things like:
  • Music Education and Plays
  • Sports Activities
  • Oral retellings and Authentic Assessment
  • Field Trips and Family Vacations
  • Service Opportunities
  • Hands On, Active Learning
  • Projects and Self Directed Learning
  • Science Experiments in Action
  • Role Playing and History Brought to Life
I use the reading log to track what my kids read for school and pleasure along with any projects related to each book. The Learning Log lets me journal quick notes about what we've done in certain subjects and with the ability to create my own subjects, I can custom fit it for what each part of my family is studying. Tracking grades is easy since the Grade Book lets me link each grade to the actual item the child has completed. While tracking attendance isn't required in Ohio, I do use it to keep track of when we've done school and when we've taken vacation days from regular work (although we all know the learning never stops!). 

Where I Document
When you really believe education goes beyond what is learned at a desk, it is clear to see why LearningKeeper is loved by so many families. I have the freedom to scan in papers or take photos of them with my mobile device. I can directly upload them to my child's portfolio. I love being able to document the learning when and where it happens. Where ever learning goes, so does my portfolio because I can add notes or files where ever life takes us!
Homeschool is about people; we’re real people too. 
Please e-mail us at or call us at 740-314-0032 to learn more about this new and exciting way to portfolio!
Alison Haley

Allison is a homeschool mom of four.  She has an MS in Education with a  specialization in Math and Reading.  The opinions shared are entirely her own.