Category Archives: Helpful

How To Homeschool

If you are new to homeschooling, then you might find this e-book about how to homeschool a valuable read. It was written by homeschooling families for homeschooling families. It is comprehensive without being overwhelming at only 12 pages. It is not a big download or a long read.

  • Learn Your Reasons for Homeschooling
  • Understand Your Child Academically
  • Learn the Laws
  • Learn About Learning
  • Get Connected
  • Go Online Your Year
  • Plan Your Day
  • Use the Right Materials at the Right Time… And For the Right Child
  • Keep a Portfolio
  • Learn the Lingo – A Homeschooling Glossary
  • Have Fun! 


Leave me a comment after reading the e-book telling me whether or not it helped, and why or why not. I am really interested because I recommend the book to new homeschooling families quite a bit.


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Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers

Susan Kilbride is a homeschooling Mom who happens to have a degree in biology. Early on in her own homeschooling journey, she noticed many parents were either intimated by trying to create their own science curriculum, or simply didn’t have the time. Susan began a quest to put together a resource for parents, teachers and kids that would not only be educationally sound, but fun for kids. The result was “Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers”. It is perfect for homeschooling families and classroom teachers alike.

If you are looking for quality science units, but simply don’t have the time to put a unit together, Susan’s book is perfect for you. If you want to supplement your existing science program, I definitely recommend taking a close look at the book. Those of you who might be a little scared of trying to put together your own science lessons for fear you might get something wrong, fear no more, the answer is just a click away.

Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers” is geared for ages 4-13 and is broken up into two different age ranges: 4-7 and 8-13. As the parent, or classroom teacher, you know best where your child or student fits regardless of age. There are ten chapters for ages 4-7 and 10 chapters for ages 8-13. The book also includes tests, answers, and worksheets. The back cover of the book has six full color camouflage pictures as a challenge for your child. I had to look hard for a few of them!

Each chapter is broken up into digestible parts, and includes needed information about the topic as well as supplies to carry out each  experiment. The learning activities are clearly scripted for you should you need that extra help. Each lesson has pictures and worksheets to help further explain the lesson.


The Human Body (ages 4-7)

  • Part 1: Digestive System
  • Part 2: Respiratory System
  • Part 3: Circulatory System
  • Part 4: Skeletal System
  • Part 5: Nervous System
  • Part 6: Recommended Movies

Atoms and Molecules (ages 8-13)

  • Part 1: Definition of an Atom
  • Part 2; Definition of a Molecule
  • Part 3: Crystals
  • Part 4: Characteristics of Molecules
  • Part 5: Parts of an Atom
  • Test

My daughter and I have used Susan’s book this semester. It is easy to follow because everything is laid out very well. My daughter is enjoying the experiments and learning at the same time. That is a plus for us both. Another reason I like this book is because it fits the learning style of my daughter.

The lessons build upon each other, so you might want to follow the order they are listed, however, if you have already learned about a particular topic, feel free to move forward or skim the lesson before moving on.

Most of the supplies needed for experiments are easily found around your house, the grocery store, or craft store. They are not expensive items at all. The lessons are not intended to be done independently by the child, but rather with a learning coach.

Here are links to free downloads for two different lesson samples:

Plants for ages 4-7

Check out Susan’s site for more freebies. *Note–the site doesn’t open in Google Chrome.
 Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and TeachersSee book at Amazon

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Free Family Organization Book

Amazon is offering a free Kindle Download for a Absolutely Organize Your Family by Debbie Lillard. I am not sure how long this book will be offered for free, so grab yours today.  You can’t “click to look inside” on the icon below, but you can on Amazon.

Absolutely Organize Your Family

Here is a product description:

Struggle Less and Savor More

Managing a family is no easy task. There are school projects to supervise, a constant deluge of laundry and toys to deal with, and after-school activities to drive to every night. It makes you wish you had an instruction manual to help you keep it all together—well, now you do!

Absolutely Organize Your Family is full of practical and effective solutions for all of your family’s organizational challenges. Debbie Lillard, professional organizer, mother of three and author of the popular book Absolutely Organized, offers all new “Absolutes of Organizing Your Family” tips to help you gain and maintain order in three key areas of your family life: Schedules, belongings and spaces. Inside you’ll find:

• Solutions for overcrowded and out-of-control schedules

• Advice on establishing morning, evening, and bedtime routines

• Strategies for organizing toys, collections, artwork, photographs, and more

• Ways to keep closets and dressers in order even in the midst of growth spurts

• Help for your child’s schoolbag, desk, and locker

• Methods of keeping bedrooms organized

• Ideas for creating a homework area to improve study habits.

Spend less time struggling to keep up and more time savoring everyday moments with your family. Start your family’s organizational makeover today.</p

About the Author

Debbie Lillard is a Professional Organizer and a mother of three. After starting her own organizing business in 2003, she appeared on several episodes of HGTV’s Mission: Organization. Since the release of her first book, Absolutely Organized (North Light Books, 2007), she has appeared on national talk radio shows and been quoted as an organizational expert in national magazines. She was recently interviewed for an article in the June 2009 issue of Real Simple.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1404 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Betterway Home (July 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003VYC9JC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
  • Lending: Enabled 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Giveaways/Freebies, Helpful


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From the Heart

Christmas! It is a wonderful time of year, but it can be hard on the pocketbook if you are not careful. Maybe it’s time to reflect on the season and gift giving with our children.

Gift giving is a wonderful thing and I am not suggesting we should abandon it, rather, just change our way of thinking and doing a bit. After all, what are we teaching our children? Most likely we are teaching them to shop, and to value material goods over anything else. My husband just calls it “crass consumerism”. The result is a society that is deeply in debt and piled high with needless stuff. Have you ever looked at how many yard sales there are each week?

What if you try creating new traditions with your sweet family — go Christmas caroling as a family or with friends, bake Christmas cookies, visit shut-in at the nursing home, wash someone’s car, string popcorn for your tree, offer to babysit for friends or family, shovel snow off the neighbor’s sidewalk, bake yummy pies to give as gifts, play football outside, send a Christmas note to a person in the military, volunteer at the food bank, create Christmas scrapbooks… All of these are either free or fairly inexpensive, but most of all they build strong family ties.

Look for ways to celebrate this year without having to buy so much. Personal gifts from the heart are usually most appreciated anyway.  Try giving a handmade coupon book to Grandma. I am sure she would love redeeming a coupon from her grandchild that was good for having a story read to her by her precious grandchild, or redeeming a coupon good for having them rake the leaves from her yard. Coupon books are excellent ideas to give to any family member.  Mom, help the kids make one for Dad.

I remember making my grandmother a very simple gift when I was very young. I took a little bottle and filled it with water and added food coloring. She kept the bottle until the day she died. I made my other grandmother a pet rock and she kept it until she passed away, too! As an adult, I was overwhelmed with memories and love when I found my simplistic gifts in their belongs as we cleared out their houses.

Focus on the true meaning of CHRISTmas this year. Build new traditions as you strengthen your family bond.

I wish you and yours a very merry of Christmas and a blessed New Year full of joy, good health, and prosperity-both financial and spiritual.


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Honoring The Military

How many homeschool lapbooking writers read this blog? Lap books are a fun way to showcase a study about the military. It is also neat to add lap books to your child’s portfolio.

When the Iran war was going on, I wrote a letter that was delivered to a service man. I did not pick anyone in particular. I let the organization I used decide who would get it. The service man who received my letter wrote back. We continued to correspond until he went home. He told me how much it meant to get the letters. It made me smile.


Encourage your child to actively honor the military (excuse the split infinitive). There are several ways to show you care, and they are all educational.

Here are a few examples to get you started.

· Letters-I know I love to get letters in the mail, so I can only imagine how it must feel for a soldier to receive one, especially from someone they don’t know. It shows them they are being thought about. Organizations like Operation Gratitude accept letters that they will include in care packages. If you have a family member, friend, or neighbor in the military, ask for their address and send them a letter. If your child is very young, have them draw pictures. Sometimes the person who receives the letter will write back. It only takes one stamp to mail letters to our military who are overseas. Educational Opportunities: Make sure you use good grammar and punctuation. This is great real life practice on letter writing and addressing envelopes. On a map, pin point where the solider is located once you find out, if you find out. Calculate the distance from your home to their location. Learn about the country the soldier is stationed in.

· Care package-Put together a care package. Include magazines, food that won’t spoil (check to see if there are specific food items that are not accepted. I sent a care package to a service woman stationed in Iraq and p0rk rinds, which were her favorite, were not allowed), socks, boot cleaner, toiletries, cards or games, books… are easy to send and not too expensive. You can get flat rate boxes free at the local post office. Don’t forget to include a letter and maybe a picture. To increase your chances of getting a return letter, include a stamped, self-addressed envelope; a few pieces of paper; a pen; and put them in your package. There is no need for a stamp on the envelope. In your letter to the Soldier, which you also put in the box, ask him/her to drop you a quick note. The organization, Any Soldier, is a good one to use. Educational Opportunities: Research what is and isn’t accepted in care packages, and why (some have to do with culture, religious beliefs, safety, and so on). When your child shop for items to send, have them follow a budget. Give them a calculator and a notebook to keep track of the money.  

· The Families At Home-Write a note to the family members who have a loved one serving in the military. We tend to forget about them. The kids of service men and women miss their parents. Educational Opportunities: Again, writing practice and addressing an envelope is the focus here. Locate the families home on a map. Calculate the distance from your home to their home, and calculate the distance from their home to their where their family member is stationed. Add all the distances up. Draw lines connecting all three locations on a map.

The best thing you can send is your SUPPORT! Tell them you are proud of them. Let them know you care. It only takes a minute, but your simple expression will make a huge impression.


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Do you have enough minutes in your day? It seems everyone is busy these days, especially homeschooling Moms. We are the taxi driver, master chief, nurse, educator, arbitrator, and domestic engineer for our household. How on earth are we supposed to find time to check our Yahoo groups, put our status on Facebook, update our Linkedin profile, read our tweets, text our friends, update the kid’s portfolios, or chat in our favorite forum groups???

I am sure you have met Organized Olivia at a homeschool group or local co-op? She has it going on, and is sure to offer tons of charts, calendars, and graphs showing how she schedules and organizes her day. Some people are just born with a natural talent for fitting 101 things into their day. I don’t know about you, but charts, graphs, and organizers just never seem to work out quite that great for me.  I need practical hands-on tools. Some days I simply want to shout, “Calgon, take me away.” Rats! What am I thinking, I don’t have time for that. 


I know you have heard the saying, “time is money”, so I am going to try to help you save a little time and money. While I am not Organized Olivia , I will share a few things that save time for me so that my days are more valuable

  • Portfolio–If you use Time4Learning, I hope you take advantage of their record keeping system. You can print whatever you need and add it to your binder, or you can save whatever you want on your hard drive, or to a flash drive. This sure beats handwriting everything.
  • Google Calendar–Set up a Google calendar complete with pop-ups and email reminders for anything you want or need to remember. 
  • Smart Phones–If you use an Android smart phone (not sure all smart phones do this) sync with your Google calendar. Check your email while waiting at the doctor’s office. I love that I can check it while I’m waiting somewhere or riding in the car (I don’t do this when I am driving). I delete junk mail and it also deletes it off my desk top computer. That’s one less thing for me to do when I get home. 
  • Facebook & Twitter–Use your smart phone to post to Facebook or Twitter with a simple click while you are waiting in line someplace.
  • Voice Texting–My favorite thing on my smart phone is speaking my text rather than typing it. It works great and really does save me loads of time, not that I am a big texter.
  • Yahoo Groups–Set your Yahoo groups to daily digest. Scan the titles in the digest and click or scroll down only to the ones you really want to read. Unsub from groups you no longer enjoy.
  • Nutshell Mail–I saved the best for last. I LOVE this service. Here is what they say:  Save Time Monitoring & Managing Your Brand on Facebook, Twitter & More…NutshellMail from Constant Contact tracks your brand’s social media activity and delivers a summary to your email inbox on your schedule.


I love Nutshell Mail because I don’t always want to go to Facebook or Twitter, or any of the accounts I have set up. Nutshell Mail sends a summary digest to me based on the time schedule I set up, and it includes whatever I want or don’t want to read. I can also decide how I want the groups ordered in the digest. I have mine set to include Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and The Homeschool Lounge.

It is really nice to get multiple social network info all bundled into one concise digest. It sure beats going to 8 different sites. And best of all, it’s FREE! You can add Yelp, You Tube, Foursquare, and Citysearch, if you use them. I have not ever seen another service like this.


My old Blackberry didn’t always work right. Sometimes it wouldn’t ring or tell me if I had messages. I got used to not carrying my phone with me everywhere I went since it didn’t work half the time. I recently traded my old broken phone for a new Android phone that is awesome. It has great time saving features, but I still don’t take my phone with me everywhere I go. And when I do, I  sometimes turn it off. I don’t like being tied to it.

I know you have seen those folks who have a phone growing out of their ear. They are constantly on their phone texting, talking, checking Facebook, or browsing the Internet. I don’t really call that multi-tasking, I think of it as time wasting when it is addictive.

Have you ever been trying to buy groceries while Chatty Charity is telling you all about her day? That one phone call drags out the shopping trip a good bit because it is hard to compare prices, remember to pick up everything, keep the kids under control, find a specific item all the while someone is gabbing in your ear.

Just do it–turn off the phone that is. You will thank yourself when you realize how much time you save when your phone is not attached to your ear.

Hmmm, with all my timesaving tips maybe I do have time for Calgon to take me away after all.

P.S. Please take time to post a comment on simple ways you save time. I know we would all love to discover your secret!


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Hands-on Fun!

I read lots of homeschooling blogs every day. I also participate in lots of homeschooling forums. The question I see posted most is what to do with the little ones while working with the older kids during school time. I have an only so this is not a problem for me, but I can easily see how it could be a huge problem for lots of folks. 

I ran across a blog yesterday that posted a neat busy bag activity for the little ones. It was snowflake building…patterning activity. If you have ever used tangrams, then this is similar. My Little Alberta Family posted pictures and directions for making the snowflake busy bag. 

This activity, in my opinion, is not just for the little ones. It is a great educational activity for older kids as well. Patterning activities are connected to the basis for all mathematical understandings. So get busy today and make some patternrific fun!



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