Help Your Kids Master Math

I am hearing so many rave reviews about these Math CD-ROMS that I am seriously wishing I could return to homeschool just so I’d have an excuse to buy them! Alas, they cost too much to be a part-time purchase, so I’ll settle for telling the blogosphere about this fabulous product:

Our public school currently uses Saxon Math, the program I used and loved back when I was homeschooling, so I’m content with my lot right now, but if ever one of my chidlren needs extra tutoring, I am *so* going to buy Teaching Textbooks! 🙂

Here is one homeschooler’s review:


From a Former Homeschooler

Now that my children are in public school, I appreciate those who aknowledge that any school system is as effective as the people are good. I recently tuned in to the Dave Ramsey show and heard him say the following:

“To say that all public schools are evil would be ridiculous . . . our kids went for a couple of years to a private Christian school because we were all concerned about the devil running the public school, but then we found out that the devil was there, too—turns out he is everywhere. We thought we had a protective cocoon for our kids, but if you are looking for a protective cocoon for your kids, it does not exist. You still have to parent, you still have to teach your kids. Parents have more to do with the way kids turn out than the schools do.” –Dave Ramsey

Self Reliance Lessons

Last week we baked bread and put up strawberry preserves as a family–a change from our usual routine that did not interrupt our homeschool studies, though it did cut in to our play time and chore time!

Screech helped wash the berries:

Then Buttercup mashed them (which wasn’t necessary, as I blend them in a blender. But hey–we were short on jobs, lol!)

While the jam was being made, Dizzy was grinding wheat flour to make us some loaves of bread from scratch:

All in all, a fun and educational day, but a little too good to be healthy because homemade jam+freshbaked bread=better than cake!

A Fun Way to Memorize the US Presidents

Renowned educator Charlotte Mason advocated the use of more stories (and less textbooks) in the classroom because children retain meaningful narratives better than dry facts. To help my homeschool students with history, then, I transcribed this fun memorization device from a youtube video in which a clever narrator helps people memorize the US Presidents in order by telling a story!


A Story to Help You Memorize the U.S. Presidents

(It works best if you picture every scene in your mind like a picture!)

Once upon a time, an alien came to earth from another planet. This alien was short and green and his name was Waj (1. George Washington, 2. John Adams, 3. Thomas Jefferson). Waj quickly began acting like an earthling by eating his favorite candy—M&M’s (4. James Madison, 5. James Monroe) and by putting on a very human-like baseball hat with an enormous “A” on the front (6. John Quincy Adams). While walking around looking for earth people, Waj met MICHAEL JACKSON (7. Andrew Jackson) who pulled up in a big VAN (8. Martin VanBuren) with his HAIRY SON in the front seat (9. William Henry Harrison).

The van that they were driving was like a monster truck because it had really big TIRES (10. John Tyler), but one of the tires was POKED (11. James K. Polk) by a sharp object, so they hurried and called a TAILOR (12. Zachary Taylor) to sew it up and to FILL MORE (13. Millard Filmore) air into it. This tailor used a special thread that made the tire so tough that it could never be PIERCED again (14. Franklin Pierce).

Soon everyone was celebrating the fact that the tire had been fixed, with a huge celebration that included fireworks the firing of some very big CANONS (15. James Buchanan). At this celebration, there was also a huge parade led by Abraham LINCOLN (16. Abraham Lincoln). After President Lincoln, Andrew JOHNSON (17.) went marching by, because both of the presidents named  “Johnson” came after presidents who were shot and killed.

After marching in the parade, Lincoln went downtown to apply for a GRANT (18. Ulysses S. Grant) because he wanted to buy some HAY (19. Rutheford B. Hayes) from the farmers. So, with the help of GARFIELD the cat (20. James Garfield), Lincoln went to King ARTHUR’s round table (21. Chester Arthur), and ordered tons of hay to be shipped to CLEVELAND, Ohio (22. Grover Cleveland). Lincoln also sent his HAIRY SON (23. Benjamin Harrison) to go to CLEVELAND (24. Grover Cleveland) and help him get the hay.

Unfortunately, they all messed up the hay order, and Lincoln was so angry with them that he banished them far away to Alaska, to the snowy Mount MCKINLEY (25. William McKinley). While walking up the mountain, the banished hikers saw lots of beautiful TEDDYbear roses (26. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt). At the top of the mountain, they were struck by such an icy DRAFT (27, William Howard Taft) that they all got a shaky case of the WILLIES (28. Woodrow Wilson) and they all started turning to ice and HARDENING (29. Warren Harding) because they were so COOL (30. Calvin Coolidge). To get rid of all the ice, they used a HOOVER vacuum cleaner (31. Herbert Hoover) to blow away all the snow.

Then they all went down the mountain, passing by some more ROSE bushes (32. Franklin D. Roosevelt) but not the teddybear kind. Once they returned to the town from which they had come, they all rejoined the parade, where they saw a figure marching in line that was so tall and stately that they could tell he was a TRUE MAN (33. Harry S. Truman) and this man was easily recognized because he had enormous EYES (34. Dwight D. Eisenhower). Next to this tall man was a tiny man, about the size of a KEN doll (35. John F. Kennedy). After the ken doll came JOHNSON (36. Lyndon Johnson), because both Johnson presidents followed a president who was killed. But this Johnson was different because he had NICKS all over his face (37. Richard Nixon). All of the parade marchers boarded a large FORD truck (38. Gerald Ford) that was pulling a CART (39. James Carter) full of RAGgedy Ann and RAGgedy Andy dolls (40. Ronald Reagan). All of the dolls had been stacked up into the tall shape of a BUSH (41. George H. W. Bush) so tall that nobody could CLIp the limbs (42. William Clinton). But when their truck turned the corner too quickly, the gigantic BUSH (43. George W. Bush) collapsed, and the sound it made was an enormous BAM!! (44. Barack Obama)

My new FAVORITE homeschool site!

I can’t believe I didn’t hear of this fabulous site sooner! Where has it been all my life?

Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog

Real reviews about real homeschool products by homeschool moms who know what they are talking about (and who know how to blog) and who know the sorts of questions we all want to ask about the books and programs we’ve never tried before.

This site is a must-read for homeschool moms!


Organic Movement

As in, organic dancing. Think soft and gentle movement, as opposed to the harsher, ligament-endangering dance styles:

My daughters have been attending a fabulous dance school that teaches dancing in a way that taps into the body’s natural ability to move with beauty and grace, rather than forcing it to fit some acrobatically challenging or dangerously joint-crunching moves (as is the case with ballet, gymnastic dance, and some other forms of dance that teach children how to manipulate the body’s natural capabilities in order to win points or earn money).

This healthy, more organic form of dancing is called the Isadora Duncan method. Here is an example:

I wish my own camera had been good enough to capture the amazing movements of my girls as they moved across the dance floor at their recital, but alas, someone else’s YouTube video will have to suffice. Here are some great stills of the girls, though:

Note the modest costumes? The lack of sparkles, spangles, and stage makeup? Yeah–it is another aspect of Isadora Duncan’s dance methods that I LOVE. It is Au Naturel in EVERY sense of the word!

And the boys?

Well, they were bored silly through the entire recital. They made poor Dad miss out on most of it, as he toted fussy toddlers around in the foyer to try to keep them quiet. Oh well–we can’t all be lovers of the arts! 🙂

The BEST Science lessons

. . .are the ones children learn from getting outdoors and living life! Not remaining confined in cinder-block buildings full of metal desks and artificial light.

Check out our most recent “Science Class” observation post–right outside our back door, in the awnings of the porch:

My oldest daughter, Prima, took these pictures, in addition to making lots of notes and diagrams in her science notebook, about the nest-building and child-rearing habits of backyard birds! 🙂

And this doesn’t even include our adventures in butterfly watching, firefly stalking, and birdhouse-observing!