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Fall Freebies now available!

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 8:46 am


mini Fall Freebie


Fall Freebies are now available at!  The freebies include free trials, free worksheets, free fall recipes and more!  Just click here to see all the goodies.

When you click, you might be asked to share your email address with us/join our homeschooling community. If you’re already receiving our e-blasts, and are asked for your address again – don’t worry, you won’t get duplicate information from us!  :)

We’re so happy it’s fall – and we’re so happy we can offer these very cool freebies!






Oak Meadow Health & Fitness

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 4:00 am Product Review


This is a product review of/for Oak Meadow. First, some interesting, general info about Oak Meadow:

  • Oak Meadow is a fully accredited distance learning school that meets rigorous academic standards.
  • Oak Meadow offers curriculum that is print-based by design to reinforce solid reading comprehension and study skills. Technology is thoughtfully integrated through the grade levels.
  • Oak Meadow has a distinguished faculty 
  • Oak Meadow has friendly, experienced educational counselors that support your homeschooling journey every step of the way, whether you are enrolled or use the curriculum on your own.
  • Since 1975, tens of thousands of families have used Oak Meadow. Their curriculum has been used in 39 states and 36 countries, and up to 600 students enroll each year.

I was asked to review their High School Integrated Health & Fitness Syllabus.

The Integrated Health & Fitness Syllabus develops a foundation in anatomy and physiology and includes a fitness component that fulfills one-half of the Oak Meadow yearly physical education requirement. The Syllabus includes chapters on:

  • What Is Health
  • Introduction to Anatomy, Skeletal and Muscular Systems
  • Nervous and Endocrine Systems
  • Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems
  • Fitness
  • Emotional Health and Personality
  • Stress
  • Mental and Emotional Health
  • Digesting and Urinary Systems
  • Immune System
  • Reproductive System
  • A Dietary assessment
  • Carbohydrates and an Introduction to Food
  • Fats
  • Protein and the Evolution of the Modern Diet
  • Vitamins and Minerals
  • And much, much more
  • There are chapters on the Reproductive System, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Conception and Parenting, and Sexuality

In addition to the Syllabus, the course requires reading from the following (included) books:

  • Health: Making Life Choices by Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2011
  • Human Anatomy Coloring Book, by Margaret Matt, 1982
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, M.D., 2008
  • In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, 2009

Also, pages 207-214 of the Syllabus contain a list of additional books that might be of interest.

To take this course, students must also get a heart rate monitor (HRM), which is not included in the course materials

The course requires students to read, research, answer questions (short answers), complete activities (projects and exercises), and write essays/research papers. There are no tests for this course.

What I like about this class:

  • The course teaches information that is valuable for life, and the materials are worth keeping long after the course is completed
  • The course is very thorough
  • Students are encouraged to research and make conclusions from their research
  • Students are encouraged to question what they are learning – the course realizes that conflicting info exists on these topics
  • Physical activity is stressed throughout
  • A Teacher’s Manual is available

If you’re interested in Oak Meadow, but your kids aren’t in high school, you can read a Fifth Grade Oak Meadow product review here.

You can learn about Oak Meadow here.

HUE Animation Studio: Technology for Learning

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 4:00 am


HUE: Technology for Learning

HUE Animation Studio contains everything that your children (ages 7 and up) need to learn how to create stop motion animation videos. Really, children of all ages can create their own stop motion films minutes after first installing HUE Animation Studio.

The HUE Animation Studio, winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award and Mom’s Choice Silver Award, comes with –

  • Animated software (single user license and CD)
  • HUE HD camera
  • Camera base
  • 1.8m USB cable
  • The HUE Book of Animation (very helpful!)

The HUE HD USB camera is a flexible plug and play camera with a built-in microphone. It’s great for stop motion animation, as well as for taking still pictures, recording real-time videos, video chatting, document imaging and visualization. The camera has unlimited positioning options. Users can either leave the HUE in its base or connect the camera’s flexible neck directly to a laptop’s USB port for mobility.

The HUE Animation Studio software has been specifically designed for educational use, with a user friendly, fully-featured interface. It can be used by anyone from novice animators creating their very first film, to experienced animators looking for a fully featured animation suite. Sounds can be imported either from your computer (did you know you can google for free sound effects?), or recorded directly in the software itself using the HUE camera’s built-in microphone.

The HUE Book of Animation Step by Step Guide walks you through the setup process and includes lots of fun ideas for creating your first movies.

What are the system requirements for HUE Animation Studio?


  • Windows XP, 7, 8 & 10
  • 1.4GHz processor
  • 512MB RAM (1GB recommended)
  • 350MB hard disk space
  • USB 1.1 connection (USB 2.0 recommended)


  • Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or higher
  • Intel processor
  • 512MB RAM (1GB recommended)
  • 350MB hard disk space
  • USB 1.1 connection (USB 2.0 recommended)

I really like this product for the following reasons:

  • Everything you need to get started is included. The HUE software includes sound effects, videos, printable backgrounds and activity sheets; and the HUE Book of Animation has step-by-step instructions for creating 20 stop motion videos.
  • The product comes with great getting started directions in the book. I really don’t like it when something arrives and putting it together/getting started is a difficult task.
  • If you get stumped, there are tutorials.
  • Plus, the HUE website has a constantly updated list of Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any questions which aren’t covered in the manual or online help pages, their customer support team is ready to help through the contact section of the website. Also, there is excellent customer service (very important when starting something you’ve never done before).
  • But don’t worry – it’s not difficult! In fact, the process is easy. It’s a breeze to add text and effects to animated frames, and to use the onion-skinning feature (onion-skinning is when a transparent image of the last frame you took appears over the live camera feed so you can create a smoothly animated sequence).
  • Animation develops and encourages creativity. Kids (and Moms!) come up with a story create characters, make them from clay or plasticine, design and make sets, compose soundtracks or select appropriate recorded music, and more.
  • Children (and again Moms!) have fun making a film, often not realizing that they are working hard, learning new skills, applying new theories and sharing fresh ideas. And budding film makers can easily work together. Who says socialization is a problem!?!
  • Homeschooled children can develop and demonstrate their understanding of STEM and the 21st century skills of collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving, all while having fun!
  • There is a wonderful pride of ownership over the end product, and it’s so easy to share with others. You can export your finished films ready for sharing on YouTube or share them with friends directly. Think how much the grandparents will love them!

HUE – fun for learning animation. Fun for learning new skills. Fun for learning technology.

Interested in other products offered by HUE? Click here.


Special Needs Homeschooling: Signs of Dyslexia



Special Needs Homeschooling: Signs of Dyslexia

This is a guest blog post written by Crystal Pratt


Is your child struggling to read, spell, or write? Is he or she having trouble with math as well? Such struggles could be early indicators that your child is suffering from dyslexia, one of the most common learning disorders in children.

Although this learning disability is often misunderstood- kids are perceived as ‘lazy’ or ‘slow’-research shows that this is far from the truth.

Most dyslexic patterns go unnoticed until about second or third grade, depending on reading level and learning difficulty. However, there are some general signs to look for in your child if you suspect a learning disability, which can be confirmed at later by a qualified professional (such as an educational psychologist). Here are the most common signs or patterns seen with dyslexia:

Reading difficulty. A reading level two years below his age or grade is a common indicator that your child may have dyslexia. This difficulty can usually be seen with reading simple single words: that, for, any, does, etc. They normally experience trouble decoding unfamiliar words as well as difficulty with reading comprehension. As a result, dyslexic children often read slower with laborious and flawed oral reading. This leads to a dislike of reading in general.

Poor spelling. Many dyslexic children have problems with spelling, especially short, simple words. They also produce ‘jumbled spellings’ in which words are written in the wrong order but with the correct letters – bule (blue) or siad (said). This jumbled spelling is a strong indication that visual memory is impaired.

Writing problems. Poor writing, as with spelling, is another sign that your child may be suffering from a learning disorder. Often dyslexic children write in mirrored images, writing words or numbers backwards. For instance, they commonly mix up the letters b and d or the letter p and number 9.

Difficulty with instructions. Dyslexic kids have trouble with 2-3 step instructions and following directions. In addition, they often have difficulty with planning and thinking ahead.

Poor sequencing skills. Many children with dyslexia have trouble with sequencing in reading (beginning, middle, end) and especially with math concepts (2, 4, 6, 8…), as well as confusion with left and right. They are often unable to process and store memory for sequencing, facts, or any information not yet experienced.

Be aware of these common signs. Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean your child has dyslexia, but you may want to follow up with a specialist to determine a successful educational plan for your child. Keep your options open and talk with other families for advice and support. Dyslexia doesn’t have to limit you or your child. With an appropriate teaching plan and in the right learning environment, children with dyslexia learning disorders can flourish.

If you have a child you suspect may have dyslexia or another learning disability, you may want to look into Verticy Learning as a way to help your child learn. Verticy specializes in home-based curriculum for struggling readers and writers. Verticy is a joint learning initiative of Calvert Education and Jemicy School.

For tips and ideas on how to encourage your child to read, common letter reversals, reading out loud, and the use of “spell check” tools, watch our video, Inspiring Struggling Students: Reading and the Reluctant or Dyslexic Reader.



Crystal Pratt is an employee of Calvert Education Services. She has been involved in education for 20 years. Crystal is a certified teacher, a writer, and a lover of all things that sparkle.


SRSD – Writing Success

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 4:00 am




A Writing Success Story You Won’t Soon Forget

As a teacher and/or parent, we care about our children more than we do ourselves. That’s just natural. We also care that they do better- that they have better opportunities- than we did. This article is about such opportunities and how it will shape your child’s future, as well as, their child’s future. Let me frame things for you:

I am a dad. I am not a teacher. I am autodidactic, which means I teach myself. And I know what I see: a country becoming more sophisticated while its children are falling further behind. That is why I don’t rely on public education as my sole source for my children’s learning. I’m very involved with my kids that way and I’m always looking for an edge.

Two years ago I stumbled upon a writing instructional method that changed my kids lives forever. And although my success story is worth telling, I want you to experience how powerful this writing strategy is from someone less fortunate than my children. Let’s call him Danny.

Danny was a middle school student struggling with reading and writing and had a significant learning disability. He was one of the lowest tested ELA students in his building. Suffice to say, Danny did not enjoy going to school. One day an assignment was presented to all the students, including his special needs class: Write an essay on ‘Why Every Vote Matters’. All entries would be submitted to the county essay competition.

And while the students in Danny’s class were diligent in their efforts, it was clear that, because of this particular population, none of those students had a chance of placing in the contest. Well, I couldn’t have been wronger (sic) and I will be forever re-assessing my judgment of others because, to my surprise, Danny, one of the lowest achieving students in his school, won his 7th grade category for opinion writing essays.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when awards would be given. All the winners went to the county courthouse that day and, while most came with a parent or two, Danny came in tow with his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, all dressed to the nines because it was the first academic achievement anyone had ever earned in his family.

Danny, proud as a peacock, went up in front of the district attorney, received his award and cried just as hard as his adoring family. Moreover, that day, Danny changed his tune about school and it forever changed his life.

His teacher would like to take credit for Danny’s transformation but, she admits, it was not her. It was a writing process that finally clicked for him: Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD). SRSD gave Danny the confidence he needed to succeed academically because of his new-found ability to write. To this day his teacher will profess how life-altering the award was for Danny and for her.

No, I don’t know how you, the teacher, handles the stress of today’s education. But I do know that there are ways to empower our children to succeed on their own. And SRSD is one of the most powerful tools. Just ask Danny and his teacher.



Marketing video pioneer Randy Barth  ( has been a video marketing documentarian since the days of VHS. Credits for Randy (@honceoui) include “Fighting to Rise Above,” the story of Olympic medalist Kayla Harrison; producing two feature-length movies; board member of, which provides sports therapy for at-risk youth; and serving as VP of Pixability, a Cambridge-based video marketing service, which Randy helped grow from tiny startup to hot YouTube property on the national stage. Today Randy focusses his energy within the literacy landscape through his company, LiteracyOnDemand with and Writing Whatever as his online course entrees.




TJEd – Rachel DeMille

this weeeeeeeek

Did you know that several of Rachel DeMille’s products were chosen by readers as Top Back to Homeschool Resources?  You can find the awards here, and sample her products here. Interested in’s Back to Homeschool e-magazine?  Then just click here

We’re having an entire Back to Homeschool Event!

Download her e-book, The 5 Habits of Highly Successful Homeschoolers – normally $5.99, and available for just 99¢ when you check out with coupon code 5Habits-FIX at the Leadership Education Store.

Diagnosis and Remedies: 8 Steps to Homeschool Bliss– TJEd Smoothies by Rachel DeMille


Ever wondered why some families seem to do so well with homeschool? Why some kids just seem to take to stuff naturally, while yours are freaking you out?? Here are some questions to consider, to help set the environment and remove any needless obstacles:


Have you ruled out vision impairment or muscle imbalance that affects focus? Schedule an eye exam. Is hearing an issue? Find out. It’s worth it!


Have you ruled out nutritional issues, like sensitivities that create problems with mood, behavior, attention, emotional equilibrium, sleep, etc.? Common triggers are sugars, additives, grains, dairy, processed foods, etc.

Obviously, all of us do better when we make healthy choices; but some kids (and adults) literally cannot function normally with these things, and more “extreme” care must be taken to remove allergens and triggers from their diet and environment.

If this is an issue in your home, it’s life-changing to make the special effort for these accommodations!


Have you removed distracting/addictive elements from your home and schedule? Common issues include too much: TV, video games, friend time, scheduled classes/clubs/lessons/sports, etc. For some kids, some families, some years – ANY amount of these can be too much.

Consider a 6-Month “No” to clear your time and take back your family learning life! (For help in owning your life and time, see Phases of Learning, Ingredient #7 and “Start the New Year Right“)


Is your home environment somehow disruptive to the learning and family relationships you idealize? Common issues include: too many toys, too much clutter, too many dishes/clothes/belongings that take too much time to care for or don’t have a good place where they are stored.

Consider a 6-Month Purge to take back your space, time and peace of mind! (For help on how to carry out a Purge, see Phases of Learning Ingredient #6 and “Start the New Year Right“)


Are you trying to copy “school at home?” It’s really easy to rely on the habits and experiences that are familiar to us, especially when we’re under stress or trying out new things. And yet, family learning is ideally a place for a different form to flourish. Invest in your own learning to lead out, by reading a classic book alone and/or with the family.

Do your homework by daily seeking inspiration in TJEd books and audios to help you stay focused and gain new insight on how it can look, feel and be in your home. (For pointers on how to take the lead in your Leadership Education home, see “Kindling, Carrot Sticks and Kidschool” and “TJEd and Riding a Bike“)


Are you comparing your worst day with your concept of someone else’s best day? Are you trying to implement a vision that’s not compatible with your reality (new baby; caring for an elder; lots of little kids no big kids; health issues)?

Take stock of what matters most to you (Really matters. Not the things that nag you, or make you feel crumby, but the things that you actually are willing to go into the fire for!), and fashion a new ideal that you can actually succeed in. (For a nourishing and nurturing look at how to homeschool in a crisis, see “Chaos and Measuring Sticks; or, Gorillas and Cats. Whatever.”)


Have you and your family successfully reconnected and detoxed? As with Step 6, whether it’s a renovation in your school format, a new move, a new baby, an illness, a loss or a big change in any area of your life, reconnecting the family in Core Phase helps to synchronize your energy, re-define your ideals and help each individual thrive in their areas of needed focus.

This is sort of a healing time that brings back a more natural harmony in the home, and restores the child’s (and parents’!) natural love for life and learning. (For details and examples on how to detox and reset, see “6-Point Plan: Advice for Newbies”)



If you found these helpful, rest assured – these are just the beginning! Effective and happy homeschooling is absolutely within your reach. With all of the other stuff out of the way, you’re ready to cultivate new habits – 5 Habits, to be exact! These “secret” habits aren’t really secret – and as you cultivate them, your family and homeschool will thrive, your stress will diminish, and you’ll feel clarity and joy in your family education journey.


Download our e-book, The 5 Habits of Highly Successful Homeschoolers – normally $5.99, and available to our readers for just 99¢ when you check out with coupon code 5Habits-FIX at our Leadership Education Store.


Transitioning from School to Homeschool

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , , , — dailynews @ 4:00 am




Transitioning from School to Homeschool

Sending your child off to school is a big transition. Making the shift to homeschooling when your child has been in school is another big transition. It may take some time to feel settled on the homeschooling path. Here are some things to anticipate as you make your way.

This is a big adjustment for you and your child. It may be a relief; it may be a challenge; it may be both. Give yourselves and the rest of the family plenty of time to adjust. Be patient and gentle. Expect to fine-tune your plan throughout the year as you get to know your child’s learning style and your homeschooling style and how they fit together. Involve your child in decisions when possible, so that he or she feels invested in the outcome.

Do not doubt your qualifications. You do not have to be trained as a teacher to be a successful homeschooling parent! Parents of diverse educational backgrounds successfully homeschool. Let go of the myth that you need to be an expert at everything to be able to facilitate your child’s learning. Seek others to help your child in the subjects you feel less confident in. Use curriculum written specifically for homeschoolers that includes strong resource materials for parents. Consider teaming up with other homeschooling families to team-teach certain subjects. We hear from parents who tell us how much they enjoy learning new things along with their child. You can do this!

You will most likely need to file an intent to homeschool with local, state, or provincial educational authorities. Depending on where you live, you may need to cooperate with periodic evaluations or have your educational plan pre-approved. In the U.S., every state has their own requirements; some are more complex than others. (The HSLDA is a good starting point for finding out about your state laws.) In some cases, the timing of your submission is critical. You may find it simplest to register with a distance learning school to fulfill state requirements.

Your child may grieve. He or she will be experiencing the loss of something central and familiar, even if the school experience was complicated and the reasons for beginning homeschooling were clear. Recognize that grief is not necessarily an indication that homeschooling is not working. Let your child tell you about what he or she misses most about school and work together to find new ways to meet those needs.

You and your child will likely spend more time together than before. If you have gotten used to having time to yourself while your child is at school, you may find that homeschooling feels very different. Consider your own needs as well as your child’s, and plan for support that will enable you to get some time to yourself when you need it.

if you work from home or outside the home, your work situation may need to be adapted if school previously filled the role of daytime caregiver. Consider all the ways in which your child is capable of being independent along with the things for which he or she needs support. Know that with dedication and creativity, many other homeschooling parents have made working-and-homeschooling work for them, too.

If you have multiple children, the sibling dynamic may become more challenging, particularly if there are younger siblings at home who are used to having a temporary period of time when they lead the pack or enjoy being an “only.” They may need extra support as they adjust to sharing your attention for more of the day. Or if some of your children remain in school while one or more begin homeschooling, they may need reassurance that each person in the family is getting their needs met in the best way possible, even if the solutions look different.

You may find yourself in the role of public relations manager. Friends, neighbors, and members of the school community will have questions about your decisions and your experiences. Face them with confidence and do not feel obligated to explain. Feel free to say, “We needed a change,” or “We’re finding our way,” and leave it at that.

You will need support. You may find that friends and family don’t understand your experience as a homeschooling parent – or your child’s experience as a homeschooler. Connect with others who can relate to your experience. Oak Meadow’s Facebook page and our other social media channels are a good place to start. There may be a homeschooling group already going strong in your area, but if not, don’t be afraid to reach out and start one so that you can get to know some like-minded families.

Your child’s social sphere will change. Social needs can vary greatly from person to person. What is your child’s social personality? How much and what kind of social interaction does he or she need? It may take some time for this to become clear, and it may happen by trial and error. Don’t worry about socialization! Do your best to connect with local homeschoolers during the school day or with old school friends after school is out.

Your family’s rhythms will change. Your wake-up time may no longer be dictated by the school bus schedule. You will have a chance to figure out when in the day your child is most receptive for learning and when they need unstructured time. Embrace the opportunity to revisit and revise your family’s routines and rhythms as you adjust to homeschooling.

Most importantly, trust yourself. Remember that you are the most qualified expert on your child. You will not be able to figure everything out before you start, and that is fine. In fact, it’s normal. Keep your expectations flexible. Be willing to shift gears if the first things you try are not quite right. You will make it through this transition. You are in good company, and one day you may be able to reassure another family who is beginning the process of transitioning from school to homeschool!

Amanda Witman is Oak Meadow’s social media coordinator as well as a musician, gardener, lifelong learner, and homeschooling mother of four. Oak Meadow provides flexible, creative homeschooling curriculum for grades K-12.



Did you know that was chosen by readers as a Top Back to Homeschool Resource?  You can find the awards here, and a sample of his products here. Interested in’s Back to Homeschool e-magazine?  Then just click here

We’re having an entire Back to Homeschool Event!

3 Steps to Help Your Kids

Become World-Class Experts.



In the book Outliers: The Story of Success, the author, Malcom Gladwell writes, “researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours…In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals and what have you, this number comes up again and again…no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time.”

So, according to the book, it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to reach world-class expertise in…anything!

But when do kids have time to be experts?

A typical hyper-busy student (homework,sports, dance, etc.) who discovers her talent by age 13, realistically only gets about 1 hour of practice per day (this is being generous).  According to the 10,000 hour theory, it will take 27 years to reach 10,000 hours (7 days per week).

That’s 40 years old!

But wait!  Marriage, children, bills, chores, repairs, tragedy, celebration, etc.  With all the life distractions, I estimate that 10,000 hours is not reached until her 50’s.  By this time,  “practice” has been spread out too much.  Her gift is now at best, a hobby.


 Part of the problem – balance.

As a school teacher I often hear, “we need to make students who are well-rounded and balanced individuals.”

Yes, well-rounded and balanced has its place, but has it gone too far?  Kids spend far too much time doing…everything: soccer, dance, homework, video games, tv, clubs, church, on and on and on.

Even in school– we want them to be good at math, science, language arts, social studies, art, FCE, TE, PE…

We don’t give kids time to be…great!

Society has too many mediocre novices.  We call them “Jack of all trades.”  Yes, we know people with deep expertise, but too often in something without passion.  They’re stuck in a job and excel at obligation.

Now, before you send me anger mail, let me say that I am a BIG proponent of a well-rounded education.  However, as I mentioned, I believe it has gone too far and is hurting us as a nation.

How will kids compete as adults in a global market if they are not given enough time to:

1.  discover their passion

2.  practice, practice, practice and become world-class experts.


A solution (3 steps)

1.  Don’t get caught up!  Don’t force kids to be soooo well rounded and balanced.  Yes, give them the foundation of skills and experiences they need, but give them enough time to really excel in their gifts and to truly be world-class!

2.  Give your child lots of experiences.  BUT, when she discovers her gift, let her do it!

*note – there is a difference between something your child loves to do because they …love doing it and their true giftedness.  Parents, it takes lots of time and observation to help your kids identify their true gifts…be patient!  Check out this book for more information

3.  Give her lots of time to practice, practice, practice.

orange_check(small)This is what society needs.

orange_check(small)This is what our kids need.

orange_check(small)This is why they are bored.


My wife and I began doing this years ago.  We have two daughters who love life.  They excel in their gifts (one drew the pic for this post).  They are still teenagers!  I figure they’re already more than half-way to reaching their 10,000 hours.

My wife and I now require 4 things from our daughters:

  1. Maintain time to know God (church, youth group, etc.).
  2. Chores and homework are complete.
  3. Friendships are maintained.
  4. Gifts: practice, practice, practice, practice, practice…

Our hopes:

  • Our daughters someday land great jobs doing skillfully what they love to do (with world-class expertise).
  • They support my wife and I, and buy us lots of cool stuff.  :)




Hey, do you have a student who has the gift of innovation?  You know, they love to build things, play with legos, put things together, take things apart, etc.  I can help them become world-class.

Wayne Kroeplin is a Technology and Engineering teacher.  He is the creator of Innovators Tribe. A place where students with “innovative super-power” can learn more about and practice their world-class gift of innovation.


SimplyFun – 7 Back to Homeschool Hints

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , , — dailynews @ 4:00 am


Did you know that SimplyFun was chosen by readers as a Top Back to Homeschool Resource?  You can find the awards here, and see more about SimplyFun products here. Interested in’s Back to Homeschool e-magazine?  Then just click here

We’re having an entire Back to Homeschool Event!


Starting the new school year is often challenging for both parents and children.  A little thoughtful planning can help. This blog offers a few suggestions to try to make beginning the new school year more fun.

1. Let’s play!
Play a few games, particularly ones that will help your kids review content they learned the previous year. Playing games will serve three purposes. Kids can review skills and feel confident about what they already know. They can also begin to anticipate learning new material. Game play also stimulates thinking and gets those brain cells working again.

2. We’re all in this together!
Set goals for the year as a family.  Share your ideas and say how you will support each other in meeting these goals.

3. I don’t want to go to bed!
Changing back to a regular routine after the freedom of summer and long days is hard. Involve your kids in negotiating a new schedule and figuring out how to keep it. Let them help determine the study time, free time and bedtime (with you setting the outside limits)..

4. I don’t want to get up!
Getting up and getting going is tough, especially when you haven’t had to do that for a while. To encourage independence and avoid conflict help your kids plan ahead.  The more your kids are involved in planning, organizing, and preparing what they want, the fewer battles there will be and the more self-sufficient the child will become.

5. I don’t want to study!
Let your child plan a creative study space with storage for books, papers, and work materials. Let him or her pick fun wrapping paper or contact paper to wrap boxes for cubbies or storage boxes. Look for great ideas online for making a fun space. Making their own space will encourage children to want to actually use it! Don’t forget to include some games for study breaks.

6. Read, read, read!
Hopefully, reading did not stop over the summer, but it often takes a backseat to outdoor play and late nights. Re-institute nightly reading before bed, sharing a book, or, for older children, letting them read before falling asleep. Reading every day is one of the most important things we can do, and that includes you, parents! You are the best model for your child.

7. It’s gonna be great!
Kids pick up on parents’ feelings, attitudes, and beliefs. If you are anxious, dreading the new school year, and moaning about what you need to do for them, they will feel negative too. So make every part of getting ready for school an adventure. Make every “task” playful, from shopping to organizing to scheduling. Involve the kids as much as you can in every activity so they feel ownership. If you relax and have fun, so will they!

About the Author

Dr. Toni Linder is Professor Emeritus at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver in Denver, CO. She is nationally and internationally known for her work on behalf of young children and their families.




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Hi, I’m Kelly and I homeschool my family. When homeschooling a houseful, we’re all looking for ways to make things a little easier but no less effective. We’re also careful, in my case very careful, with money and we tend to stay with programs that are easy for us. I’m homeschooling five kids and, while I have one who’s already through high school, I have several with some special challenges. Since it’s an ongoing bright spot in our curriculum, I was thrilled to be asked to write about how VocabularySpellingCity fits into our homeschool program.

First, a little background on how I homeschool. I need to give my kids math and grammar programs according to their grade level. We do the rest of the subjects as a family, using unit studies. Sometimes the topic of our unit is as broad as “Egypt”, and sometimes it’s as narrow as “horses”, or even “Appaloosas”. It’s easy to locate topical science, social studies, and art lessons that kids of any age can benefit from. It’s more challenging to find grade-appropriate spelling lists, vocabulary words and writing assignments to complement our study unit.

Enter VocabularySpellingCity! While you may know that Vocabulary Spelling City has an important role in classrooms, I can attest that it has also become a key resource in our home. Our family uses the site as our homeschool vocabulary program. I was thrilled that this resource also helped with spelling, writing and even penmanship practice, for use with practically any grade level.

I can usually find a vocabulary list for just about any topic or subject we are studying. Whether it’s science vocabulary listsmath vocabulary listssocial studies vocabularyphonics lists, and even holiday lists broken up by month.

I prepare separate spelling lists for each child, keeping in mind their personal spelling ability. For example, if we are doing a unit study about lions, the younger children might be assigned words such as mane and roar, while the older ones tackle savannah. I also check their writing assignments for words they’ve recently misspelled. In each child’s list, I include a couple of their own misspelled words, no matter whether the words fit the unit topic or not.

After typing their words into VocabularySpellingCity, most of my work is done. I have a premium membership, so I’m able to assign certain games or activities for whenever I wish. Usually, I’ll just assign an amount of time that I want them to study their spelling words, and let them choose which online games they want to play with their words. The games are a great way to study spelling, and my kids all have their favorites.

When I do assign specific activities, I choose the ones my kids are unlikely to choose themselves. They don’t get excited about having to alphabetize their spelling words, but it’s a lot more fun to do it on the computer than with pencil and paper. The sound effects and ease of correction make alphabetizing a painless task.

One of the available activities is to write a paragraph that includes their spelling words. I require a writing assignment for each unit. It’s easier for them to write a paragraph or two about our current topic when they have suggested vocabulary (their spelling words) right in front of them. I print their writing assignments and put them in the front of the notebook we keep for each unit. These little essays make a great introduction to the unit topic.

The handwriting and penmanship pages were an exciting discovery! I love multi-purpose assignments. Although effective practice, the instruction to write each spelling word several times often seems like pointless busywork to students. Adding a penmanship focus helps this activity make sense. I can choose the handwriting style and whether to include directional arrows, dotted lines, or other helps.

I’ll admit that my favorite part of the program is the spelling tests. Giving a spelling test to each child, correcting them all, and recording the grades has never been my favorite homeschooling task. VocabularySpellingCity does all of those things for me. I have the option of printing a report or a certificate. My younger children usually choose the certificate, which gets taped to our fridge. Since I have a premium membership, their scores are also available in my online gradebook, so I don’t have to worry about jelly smears!

Every time I explore the site, I discover additional resources to use in our unit studies. I consider VocabularySpellingCity to be one of the major labor savers in our homeschool program.

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