Friday, December 28, 2018

Simple Joys by Candace Payne

Laughter that makes your stomach hurt, the perfect cup of coffee, a few moments alone with your Bible - these are moments of joy to be found on even the most difficult days. When you know you can trust God no matter what, lasting joy will be yours. Find your joy in Simple Joys: Discovering Wonder in the Everyday by Candace Payne.

Who hasn’t struggled with discontent, being overwhelmed, and the fight to be happy? You know that you have much to be grateful for, but sometimes the world feels so heavy and it’s hard to recognize the good stuff, let alone find and experience true, lasting joy.

Candace Payne, better known as “Chewbacca Mom,” reached more than 200 million people when her surprise outburst of joy at the simplest pleasure of a Star Wars mask went viral. Her story of struggling with loneliness, discontent, and unhappiness came out soon after, which made the world question: What makes her different?

“I could write a million words, books, and even songs to explain this,” Candace says, “but my gut feeling tells me you didn’t buy this book for a theology debate. You are reading these pages hoping to find joy - real, authentic, and unwavering in any and all circumstances. The kind of contentment that says, ‘I’m not only happy, but I’m satisfied as well. I have enough and I am enough.’ Because what I’ve discovered is this: contentment will often lead to more joy.

Simple Joys by Candace Payne is a lovely book.  Each chapter tells a story of simple joys in the author's life and then leads back to how we can find joy in our own life.  Each chapter has a verse in beautiful calligraphy at the beginning and artistic quotes throughout the chapter.  Each chapter ends with a spot to journal and reflect. 

I usually am the last person to know about anything, and even I knew about Chewbacca mom, Candace Payne. Her lovely laugh went viral in May of 2016.  This is a sweet book with many wonderful lessons.  Candace believes in joy and laughter, and seeks to find that in her life.

I enjoyed the calligraphy verses and journal page.  I found myself reading a chapter and then waiting a  day and reading another.  I love the size of the book, about 5 inches square and found it conveniently fit in my purse to read while I waited to pick up one of my children or waited for an appointment.  Simple Joys is a beautiful book to leave out on a coffee or side table.  It would also be a lovely gift book for  friend, or someone going through a tough time who needs to be encouraged.
I 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.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls by Jean Fisher

100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls is lovely hardback book with of biographies of one hundred different women of faith.  The book has an incredible variety of women.  Each of their stories is  presented in a two page spread with their pictures on one side and biography on the other.  The book includes lovely women like Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Prentiss, Rosa Parks, Henrietta Mears, and Naomi from the Bible.  I found the women were from a variety of backgrounds, time periods and walks of life.  I learned a great deal reading the stories and was inspired by their lives.

Both of my daughters loved this book.  Every-time I tried to read this book it was missing because my 13 and 10 year old daughters kept borrowing it.  My 13 year old said she liked how at the end of each biography there was a Bible verse that connected with each of the women’s stories. This is a wonderful book that would make a lovely gift for a girls ages eight and up. I highly recommend 100 Extraordinary Stories for Courageous Girls. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Reflecting on Home Educating a Gifted Student.

I was able to visit my son at MIT a few weeks ago. I was thrilled to see him, and he is so happy. He is doing better than I expected and I am so glad that I was able to home educate him.  I remember wondering how on earth I was going to home educate someone who was honestly brighter than I am and I desperately needed a compass.   These are some take-aways for me from home educating a gifted student.

1. Letting your student move through their schoolwork as fast as they are ready to is a good thing.

I remember hearing that back when my student was young. I let him go through math at his own pace. I am so glad we did that when he was younger, and continued to let him move at this own pace. College moves fast and no one at MIT is holding him back now. If anything, it has helped him.

 2.Teaching organizational skills, deadlines, and life skills are so important for your student. 

I was very worried about my student transitioning to college. I was afraid he would not meet deadlines and not use his time wisely. I kept asking him the first month how he was doing. Finally, he said to me, “You have underestimated your ability to teach time management.” He was surprised how other students waited till the last minute to complete assignments and did not have a schedule.  I was glad we had worked on that together.

3. Looking for math contests and other  opportunities to compete academically are  good for gifted students.

Bright students need challenges and competitions are good ways to do that.   For my students it was like a sport competition and good for them.  Things like Speech & Debate, Music Competitions, The National Latin Exam, and AMC (American Mathematics Competition) are great activities.

4. Online support groups are helpful for the teacher to grow.  

 I learned many ideas and learned what others were doing from online groups. Hoagies website, Davidson, and local groups were so helpful. I learned what to do next from other parents who had gone before me. They were so valuable on the journey.

5. Teaching your student to be an independent learner is a gift to them. 

There are times in college and life when you need to be able to learn independently. Don’t feel bad when your student has to self-study. They are learning a skill that will help them in the future.

The time with my student was so valuable, and I am so thankful for it. I remember being terrified I was not going to be able to teach my gifted learner. I am glad that the school made me frustrated enough to have to do it on my own. Because in the end, I was the one who had the best gift of all: watching my student learn and being part of that success.

Parents Weekend at MIT

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins

The fascinating stories and origins behind Christmas traditions such as the colors of red and green, the Christmas tree, caroling, nativity scenes, the Yule log, gift-giving, stockings, advent wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.
The cheer of a crackling hearth fire. Colorful cards from friends and loved ones. An evergreen tree festooned with ornaments. The golden traditions of Christmas—gifts, wreaths, stockings, carols, mistletoe, and more—infuse our celebration of the season with meaning and glowing memories. And, in ways you may not realize, they point us to the birth of Christ. Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas reveals the people, places, and events that shaped the best-loved customs of this merriest of holidays. Here are spiritual insights, true-life tales, and captivating legends to intrigue you and your family and bring new luster and depth to your celebration of Jesus’ birth. Discover how 

  • after eighteen centuries of all but ignoring the event, churches began to open the door for believers to commemorate Jesus’ incarnation.
  •  the evergreen tree, once a central theme in the worship practices of pagan cultures, came to represent the everlasting love of God.
  •  the magi’s three gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh—are filled with spiritual symbolism.
The traditions of Christmas lend beauty, awe, and hope to the holiday, causing people all over the world to anticipate it with joy. The stories in this book will warm your heart as you rediscover the true and eternal significance of Christmas.

My Review: 
Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins is a wonderful hardback book about the history of Christmas. There are twenty-six chapters that are arranged in alphabetical order with topics like Advent, Decorations and Ornaments, and the Yule Log. Each chapter tells the history of the topic and how it has changed over time. The book takes you around the world with the traditions of Christmas. 

I was so excited to find this book. Last Christmas our son was fighting cancer, and this Christmas we decided to embrace Christmas in a new way. Mr. Collins has a wonderful writing style where you feel you are coming into a personal discussion with him about the history of Christmas traditions. This book is very readable and perfect for children ages five to one hundred and five. 

The chapters are the perfect length to read aloud to your family and you do not need to read them in order. We have been choosing a topic from the table of contents and then reading aloud. There are lovely black and white illustrations that enhance the text. I found myself looking at the Christmas trees in the aisles of Costco differently after reading this delightful book.

I highly recommend Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas for your entire family. It will help you embrace the Christmas season and learn the origins of the traditions.

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.”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Reflecting on Home Educating Special Needs Students. .. The Road Less Traveled.

Some of you know I had two students graduate last year. One is Autistic and currently in a work program and the other is gifted and is going to MIT. Two very different wonderful experiences in parenting and home education. I wanted to share my biggest take-aways from home educating each. Hopefully they are helpful to you and all who take the road less traveled.

What I have learned home educating a student with special needs. 
I still remember the day. I was wondering what I was going to do with our oldest son and schooling. He had been diagnosed with autism and multiple other issues. I knew he would not make it in kindergarten and the special needs preschool was not going particularly well. I remember trying to get him on the bus for preschool and he would lock himself in the bathroom. He would lock the door as I would unlock it. I knew elementary school would not work for him. I was praying and the thought hit me. . . I could home educate him. So I began the path of learning about home education and how to make that happen at my house.

Currently my son is in a work program called Project Search that meets at Children’s Hospital. He enjoys it greatly, and loves being there. I feel our home education help prepared him for this. Here are a few things I have gleaned along the way.

1. Time spent on Life Skills is time well spent!

I am so glad I took the time to teach life skills! Emptying the dishwasher, laundry, cooking, greeting people, pleasantness etc. It is easy to get wrapped up in the skills of school which are important, but at the expense of life skills. Those are the skills his job program appreciates. Those are the skills that help him now.

2. Sometimes it is easier to do it yourself than to depend on others.

I am glad I put my time and energy in my child rather than trying to get others to do their job. For me this was very freeing! Home educating was a good fit.  

3. On the flip side. . . I was able to use the autism scholarship to get help.

I was able to use the autism scholarship in Ohio to get  help  for my son. An OT, tutor and special education coordinator who shared my philosophy of education worked with my son. They listened to me and were on my team. He was able to be at home in a less stressful environment. It gave me a time to be with my other six kids. I am glad I reached out for help and did the necessary paperwork.

4. You get more done at home than they do at school even if it does not feel that way.

When my son went back to school his last 2 years of high school, I was surprised how well he was doing. He was doing well and could keep up. At one point they told me he was ahead. The principal nicely told me that the standards were not as high as they used to be.

5. I am so glad we went at our own pace and learned for mastery.

I would sometimes worry we were behind. Were we doing as much as they were doing at school? Would he be able to get back in school if needed? At some point I gave that up, and I am so glad I did. Right now I am glad for the mastery of skills he has, glad we did our own thing.

6. I wish I had worried less. Really.

Looking back, I am thankful for the moments I enjoyed my time with my student. I also probably worried too much about what they were doing at "school". He did not need more school, he needed more life. I was not school and could do amazing things the school could not do. I had chosen a different path. I was glad I did. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Next:  Reflections on Home Educating a Gifted Student

Thursday, October 18, 2018

US Presidential Scholar

Our son was a United States Presidential Scholar for 2018.  He was one of 161 high school students from across the United States.  We attended the ceremony in Washington DC.  It was an incredible experience.   

Nathan nominated me as his favorite teacher.  So I am now a US Presidential Scholar Distinguished Teacher.    Though I am not sure if my other children are that impressed.  I am adding it to my credentials.  

There was an article about us in a Chinese newspaper.    I do not speak Chinese, but my sister in-law who is Chinese said it was a very nice article.  

Here is Nathan with Mick Zais from the department of education receiving his medal.   

The certificate we received from the Ohio Board of Education. 

It said . . . Nathan's achievement exemplifies the best aspects of  Ohio's Education system and made our state proud.   For some reason that made me smile.

Happy Friday!  You never know where homeschooling will take you! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Updated Post: Vocabulary: mapping a better future.

I enjoy reading to my children and listening to them read.  It is wonderful to see them engaging in text.  I have been listening to children read through my entire teaching career (over 28 years).  I often begin with the incorrect assumption that children know all words presented to them.  I have to remember to ask them if they know what certain words mean. 

I am trying to make more of a focused effort on expanding your students vocabulary.  I wanted to share some of the strategies that are currently helping.   Some familiar methods would be telling your student what a word means, looking it up in the dictionary, and trying to guess what a word means from reading it in a sentence.

Another strategy that is helpful for visual learners is Semantic mapping or word maps.  Here is a nice article that tells more. Basically, a word map is a visual organizer that promotes vocabulary.  I find it helpful to use in science or social studies, and with beginning readers.

Download this for Free on Teachers Pay Teachers
This is nice map for older elementary and middle school readers.   Here is another one that would be excellent for science for older students. This is an article that shares how to use mapping with students.   Lastly, here is one more article that discusses using this with older students up to high school.

For younger students I like this map.   It is very basic and easy to follow.  You could also just take a piece of paper and fold it in fourths to have the same vocabulary  map. 

I would recommend trying to do this 2-3 times per month as a realistic goal.  Try to focus on science and social studies for older learners and read-alouds for younger students.

There are many other methods, but hopefully these help your student to expand their vocabulary. 


Thursday, October 04, 2018

Cozy, Snowy, Cuddles illustrated by Fransesca Pesci

Winter is an exciting fun time of year for little ones, and Cozy, Snowy Cuddles Touch and Feel will help children thank God for all His wonderful wintry gifts. The soft art, touch-and-feel elements, and sweet message will appeal to the cuddliest little ones, making this the perfect holiday gift!
Little polar bear spreads joy and cheer to all the winter animals. He shares his thankful spirit with all he meets and leaves smiles and cuddles behind him. Cozy, Snowy Cuddles Touch and Feel is a great way to enjoy all the coziest aspects of winter with your little one—and thank God for the beauty and fun of winter.
My Review
Cozy, Snowy, Cuddles is a children’s board book filled with animals that live in the arctic who each meet our new friend the polar bear.   The book is written in A. B, C, B rhyming meter and has new vocabulary in upper-case, bold, colorful print on each page.  The book is a touch and feel book with different colored fuzzy material for each animal.  The book is intended for children in preschool and up.  I would say more specifically ages 3 to 6. 

First, for full disclosure, I have to tell you that I love polar bears and actually collect figurines.  I realize that is not a typical item to collect, but I do. So, a sweet board book that features a cuddly polar bear is a dream book for me. 

This book has beautiful illustrations with the sweetest, friendliest looking artic animal that I have ever seen. The cover is sparkly and appealing, and the touch and feel of the fur added nicely to this book for children.  This is especially fun for children in this age group who love to touch everything.  I felt like the text in Cozy, Snowy, Cuddles was excellent.  It was descriptive and would do an excellent job building vocabulary for 3 to 6 year-olds. 

I highly recommend this book for children ages 3-6.  It would make an excellent gift around the holidays, or a great “just because I love you” 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.”

Friday, September 28, 2018

Reading 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.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Fall Contest: Amazon card give-away!

Somehow September is almost over and Fall is here in Ohio.  Well, the calendar says fall is here, but around Cincinnati the weather is still acting like it is summer.   But, it is time for the fall contest as Ohio Homeschool Assessments.

I am going to be giving away  TWO Amazon gift cards to celebrate fall.   Maybe you can use it for a new book, some music, or a movie you have been wanting to see.

I am also running a bonus contest this year.  I am trying to build my book blog, Becky's Bookshelves.   I am running a contest there for another $25 Amazon Card and you are welcome to enter.  So many chances to win!

Good Luck!
Rules: The contest is open to anyone I can send an Amazon online gift card to. Please know I VERIFY all winning entries. If you need help please email me.  

If you are on a mobile phone. . go to the end of this post and click on the words "View web version" (It is under a HOME button)   It will take you to a page where if you look in the top right corner you will see the FOLLOW button.  Click on that and Follow Publicly. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Re Post: Tightwad Gazette


I posted this a few years ago.  It is one of those books that I pull out and read from time to time.  I always learn something new.  I think September is an expensive month, so reposting this might be 

This is truly one of my favorite books of all time!  Really.  If you are trying to save money. . you need this book.   Though it is not specifically about home education, it tells you amazing ways to save money.  I believe that Ms. Dacyczyn would have been an awesome home educator.

I discovered Amy Dacyczyn (pronounced like "decision") about 20 some odd years ago.  I remember when she was putting out a newsletter called the Tightwad Gazette.   We were so poor when my husband was in graduate school we would travel to the library to read the newsletter.  Which of course had to stay in the library.  Well, unless someone stole it from the library which did happen frequently in Atlanta, Georgia.  But, I do remember someone writing a note where the stolen newsletters should have been located that said, " Taking The Tightwad Gazette newsletter is not being thrifty, it is stealing. "  I still laugh when I think of that.

The Complete Tightwad Gazette is a compilation of her newsletter.  She never wrote the same article twice.  Impressive.  She discusses ways to be thrifty,  She was an interesting person, and her book is an excellent resource.  You probably will not want to do everything in it, but there are plenty of good ideas to get your started.  Some will find her ideas radical, but it depends how much you want or need to save money.

I found this interview of Mrs. Dacyczyn.  It gives you a little insight into her world.  I hope you enjoy it!
~ Becky

Friday, August 17, 2018

Night Night, Sleepytown by Amy Parker Illustrated by Virginia Allyn

The sun is sinking low, and Sleepytown is ready to say, “Night night!” Join bestselling author Amy Parker and award-winning illustrator Virginia Allyn in the latest Night Night adventure through Sleepytown, the charming little village where residents are drifting off to dreamland, just like your little one is sure to do.
Sleep may come slowly for many toddlers, and Night Night, Sleepytown is just the cozy story to help your little one nod off for the evening. Even the most stubborn bedtime resisters will love this delightful board book full of fun and silly characters who are getting ready for sleepy time in Sleepytown.
Amy Parker and Virginia Allyn, the same award-winning pair behind the bestselling books Night Night, Farm and Night Night, Train, team up again for this brand-new story that is equally appealing for little boys and little girls. Complete your collection with Night Night, Sleepytown today!
Night Night, Sleepytown is a board book for children ages 3-5 years old. The cover is puffy and designed for little hands.  Each of the residents of Sleepytown are cutely dressed animals ready for the part they play in their community.  This story takes you through Sleepytown where you say goodnight to different community helpers. 

This is a sweet book is filled with beautiful and detailed illustrations.  Each page is filled with friendly looking animals who are part of Sleepytown.  I enjoyed sitting with my child and pointing out the different animals, and what they were doing.  The details of the illustrations allow you to read the book over and over and still find something new each time. 

The book has a sweet cadence and follows a A B C B rhyming pattern.  My child was chanting along with me as I read the book each night.   It was great snuggle time with him before he went to sleep. 
I highly recommend Night Night,  Sleepytown by Amy Parker.  

 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.” 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Repost: The important things. . .

I was thinking about life skills today, and remembered this post from two years ago.  It was a good reminder.

Our oldest son is autistic and we are currently in the process of looking at group homes for him.  We went to look at one the other day.  I walked in and and I honestly was appalled.  The place had window air conditioners, and there was a big space I could fit my hand through to the outside next to the unit.  I asked the house manager and she was like "oh... we hadn't noticed that".  The place smelled moldy, the air conditioning unit in the room we were looking at did not work, the place was filthy, the carpet was disgusting, and she had not bothered to wipe the table we were all sitting at to talk.  When we left the apartment the house manager accidentally pulled the handle off the door.  Clearly the handle had been broken for some time but she acted like she had no idea this had happened.  Remember they get state and federal money to keep these places up and staffed appropriately.  I was taken aback.

But, then I got to thinking... there are at least five other hourly workers here.  She is in charge, and there are three people in charge above her.  Has someone not noticed that things are so bad?  I know at one time they were better because our case worker had seen the place five years ago and it was fine.  Didn't someone think to report this?  Didn't someone think it would be a good idea to clean?  Didn't someone notice that there was a big hole that birds and insects and rain and snow could get through?  Did this not bother anyone??

Then I thought about our home education (stay with me).  All those skills we teach our kids every day.  We have them do chores, we teach them to be polite, to right wrongs, tell us when things are broken, and to treat people with respect and dignity.  All of those skills that somehow can seem less important in the rush to do math problems, correct spelling, or write a well thought out paper.

But at the end of the day, doing more math problems really would not right this situation, or even correct spelling.  No one from the CEO to the hourly worker had enough sense to look in on this building that is falling apart and say, "Hey, things are not good here."  People with disabilities should not have to live in squalor.  No one should.

So as you go about your home education day, correcting your students, reminding them of the importance of good habits, teaching them to care for all people, and instilling values in them, remember that this is important work.  Sometimes it feels like we battle to instill good study and work habits and almost never get to academics.  But, that is not true.  All the work you do all day is valuable.   Sometimes it seems like we have to get through work habits and how we treat others to get to the real issue of math.  I believe that is not true.  These are really important skills that lead to helping our student complete work.  We can not see teaching those as less important.  They are crucial not only to our children, but those around them in the future.

Who knows.  Maybe someday your student will be the one who stands up for someone who can not stand up for themselves. They will remind others to be on time, and show them what a hard worker looks like.  And luckily, they will also be able to do the math to show them the cost of neglect.


photo credit: over you via photopin (license)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Under Construction . .

I am doing a blog redesign at Ohio Homeschool Assessments!  I am excited for a new look.  During the next week things will start to look different.  Let me know what you think!


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Repost: Assisted Reading with Developing and Struggling Readers.

I always get questions about how to help students with reading.  This is one of my favorite's for helping with reading.  

I have been reading a very interesting book called The Fluent Reader by Timothy V. Rasinski.  He has an interesting chapter on how to help students learn to read who are developing readers or struggling readers.  I knew all of the methods that he mentioned, but he backed up his methods with research and more effective strategies then I have seen in the past.

He discusses Paired Reading.  Paired reading is essentially where a more proficient reader, either a parent/teacher and child, older student and child, or two children read together.  Paired reading should be about 10-20 minutes at a time at least five times a week. It is recommend that the less proficient  student should be able to read 90-95 percent of the material accurately for this instruction to be the most effective.  The student and teaching reader read to together side by side.  The student follows along with his/her finger.  It is recommended that if the text is harder the teacher should read a little louder and match your reading rate to push the student.  If the text is easier then the teacher should use a quieter voice and provide less support.  When the passage is finished the teacher and the student should chat about the reading. The student should be allowed to read independently if they would like during this process.  This is really nothing new to home educators.  But what excited me was where he talked about a research study where the majority of students who participated in paired reading at least five times a week made 6 months of reading progress in six to ten weeks. (Limbrick, McNaugthon, & Cameron, 1985).  I have a video below that demonstrates this.

   The other interesting study was that which revealed the positive gains that students made when listening to audio books while following along in the text.  Students who did not follow along in the text did not make the kind of gains as those who did.  Here is an article that discusses the gains students made and some resources for audio books.  Here is another article that discusses the benefits for all readers. With many kids at many different reading levels my students often listen to audio books.  We mostly use the public library for their audio books and downloadable digital books.  I renewed my commitment to having them follow along in the book after reading these articles.

The last intriguing idea was that students who watched closed captioned programming made gains in reading.  At my house we turn on the closed captioning because there are so many loud people in our house making it challenging to hear a movie or show.  My students were pretty excited about this!

I am hopeful this helps you with some specific ways to help your struggling or developing readers.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Homeschool Planet

When two of my friends who quite honestly are vastly different told me that they used Homeschool Planet I thought that was interesting.  I should have stopped right at the moment and realized that this was something I needed to take notice of.  Instead, I foolishly delayed looking into it.

But luckily, I am no longer foolish.  This spring I took the plunge and did a free trial of Homschool Planet.   Within 3 days I purchased a year subscription which they added on to my 30 day trial.  It changed my life. Truly!

The Homeschool Planet is an online planning, calendar, and scheduler.  It is a way for you to post the lessons that your students need to complete AND more importantly at my house, know whether people have actually completed them!

I love this!  I pull up my view and say things like. . . Why is math not completed?  I am confused as to why you have not done that for two days?  Hmm, it looks like you will be doing math on Saturday.   I also say things like, WOW!  You completed all your work today. Look at how close we are to the end!  I am so proud of you!

The other part that has been powerful for my students is that it has the feature of moving all the assignments forward.  My students began to understand that not doing something adds it on to the end of the year.  It was a good visual reminder.

You can also add music practice, track grades, put your vacations in, send your students an email with their assignments, and much more.

So this would be a great time to try a free trial.    I HIGHLY recommend it.

Try the World’s Best Homeschool Planner for FREE!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Create! A Girl's Guide to DIY, Doodles and Designs by Ashley Mays

Ready, set, create! Whether you’re an aspiring artist or a just-starting-out doodler, Create! A Girl’s Guide to DIY, Doodles, and Design is the perfect book to inspire your creative side. From coloring pages to quick-and-easy crafts—like photo frames and duct-tape bags—and everything in between, this full-color book from the trusted Faithgirlz brand provides step-by-step guides to more than 50 fun and easy projects. Learn how to make your own DIY projects, create one-of-a-kind jewelry, and draw like a pro. Perfect for individual use or for sleepovers, birthday parties, and more, Create! is sure to bring out your inner artist.

I saw the cover of this book, and I had to know more!  Create is a crafting books for girls ages 8-13.  The book includes d├ęcor crafts, frames, duct-tape projects, jewelry, designs, doodling, and coloring.  The book includes crafting ideas with pictures, step by step directions, and ideas to elaborate on the crafts called “Jazz It Up.”  It is part of the Faithgirlz series.  

My girls are crazy about this book, and it already looks well loved.  They like the variety of the projects included in Create.  The book includes projects that you can easily do with supplies at your house, and other projects that require some basic supplies you would get from a craft store.  I told them to start with what they were able to do and make a basic list of what they would like to buy.   That has worked very well.   I felt like the crafts were realistic for this age group.  

The pictures are wonderful and give you a good idea of what the craft will look like when completed.   I enjoyed looking through Create and my daughters have spent hours gazing at the book.   It would be a great gift with a few supplies from the book included. I would highly recommend Create to anyone with tweens.  

  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

Some pictures of the crafts made by my daughters.  

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.”