Moving Out of Homeschool Survival Mode with Online Learning: A Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Review

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This year was the first year that all six of my kids were “school-age”, and let me tell you, it challenged my homeschool organization and follow-through like no other year before this! I began the year in survival mode, just hoping that we’d make it through this transitional year without dropping too many of the plates I was spinning.

In years past, I had crafted our math curriculum from a variety of sources, but this year, I knew I needed a different approach as we transitioned into a busier season of homeschooling. So, I was thrilled at the opportunity to use a free trial of Teaching Textbooks 3.0 for five of my kids. I was hoping that the program would simplify our homeschool day and it did! As time went on, we found ourselves thriving instead of merely surviving! 

I received complimentary access to Teaching Textbooks for grade 3, grade 4, and Algebra and compensated for my time to write this review. I was not required to write a favorable view and what I share here is an honest reflection on my experience with Teaching Textbooks 3.0. See my full disclosure here.

Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Is Easily Accessible

I fell in love with the user-friendly nature of Teaching Textbooks 3.0 as soon as I logged on to the parent page. I was able to quickly check in on my kids’ progress, view their e-textbooks, and even print pages! Everything is in one place which saves me logging in and out of each student’s account. Less time logging in and maneuvering through pages means more time spent learning!

The read-aloud function is a favorite feature as well! It supports auditory learners and children who are struggling with reading by reading the problems and the solutions as needed. They can excel in math without worrying that their reading challenges will hold them back. This gives a confidence boost that is often needed for struggling readers. And confidence building helps us move from survival mode to thriving!

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Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Allows Us to Work Anywhere

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On your way to the dentist? No need to skip math for the day. Take it along! Waiting for a sibling’s soccer game to begin? There’s time for a math lesson! 

We love that Teaching Textbooks 3.0 goes wherever we do! I don’t have to lug along five different textbooks or sets of CDs. All I need is access to a computer or tablet. Laptops and tablets allow my kids to work in the car or doctor’s office waiting room. Heading to the library computer lab allows all five of my kids to work at the same time! Talk about a time-saver! Not only are we less distracted at the library, but each child is able to finish a lesson or two (sometimes three, depending on the student) in an hour of “library time”. 

Being able to work on math lessons anywhere means we’re more likely to keep our daily routine flowing. Preserving our homeschool rhythm and routine means we’re thriving!

Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Is Low Prep

Other than checking in on what lessons and topics my kids will explore for the week, there is no prep needed! Woohoo! I am free to spend my time reading aloud and playing games with my children! At the beginning of the school year, this first year of all six homeschooling, planning was consuming a good portion of my weekend.

Of course, our days were still brimming to full, but the hours were spent with my children, not eaten up by planning. This allowed me to be more present and move out of survival mode.

Once the lessons for the day or week were completed, it was simple for me to pop online through my parent page and take a peek at which concepts needed review and which were mastered. And grading is automated which also saves me time! More time means...you guessed it...thriving, not surviving!

Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Allowed Me to be a Math Partner Instead of a Math Teacher

The ability to step out of “teacher” mode and into partner mode was a gift I hadn’t anticipated, but it was one I gratefully accepted. Teaching Textbooks 3.0 allowed me to sit side-by-side with each of my children and work together. Whenever I could, I pulled up a chair alongside them  and listened through the lecture. (To be honest, though, I often watched from across the room while washing dishes.) Then, shoulder-to-shoulder, we explored the practice problems. We discussed how what we learned in the lecture applied to the problems. It seems simple, but this slight shift of having another “voice” sharing the information changed the atmosphere of math in our home. In my book, that’s a win! 

Now, it’s your turn! Check out this free trial of Teaching Textbooks 3.0 and experience firsthand how it can enhance your homeschool! 


Testing through a New Lens: A Homeschool Testing Services Review

Disclosure: My family received complimentary copies of tests for grades K, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. I was also compensated for my time to write this review. However, all opinions are my own.

Disclosure: My family received complimentary copies of tests for grades K, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10. I was also compensated for my time to write this review. However, all opinions are my own.

Testing was not something we look forward to in our homeschool. It had felt out of sync with our relaxed homeschool approach. We would rather spend our days reading aloud, watching documentaries, and skittering along wherever the rabbit trails may lead us. In the past, standardized testing felt like a departure from our organic, day-to-day routine.

Homeschool Testing Services has provided me with new insight! The motto of Homeschool  Testing Services is “Healthy Assessment Strengthens Families”, and I agree! I have come to see homeschool testing as a valuable learning experience for both me and my kids.

Homeschool Testing Services Provides Life Skills Practice

Throughout life, we all need to take a test, fill out a form, process information. Testing at home allows my children real-world practice with these skills in a relaxed environment. From my oldest to my youngest, they gained skills in test-taking. They learned how to handle their jitters and not to get hung up on answers that they were not confident in. They learned to go with the flow and to develop their perseverance.


Homeschool Testing Services Encourages Celebration

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As I reflect on our experience with Homeschool Testing Services and the results that they sent to us for the Stanford-10, I am encouraged to see how much my children have grown, not just in knowledge but maturity. They each have risen to the challenges that faced them within the year and made progress. Some are easier to spy than others, but they are all worth celebrating. Homeschool Testing Services reminds me to celebrate the small gains that my struggling reader has made, the giant strides my high schooler has made in math, and the steady progress of my daughter. I am grateful for the opportunity that Homeschool Testing Services has given me to reflect on our growth and to celebrate it! The tests helped me realize just how much learning we do, even when we’re not aware of it!

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Homeschool Testing Services Is User-Friendly

From the administering the test to deciphering the results, Homeschool Testing Services was simple for me to use. I was able to take a quick ten minutes to read through the directions of the test before settling in with my kids. When the results popped up in my inbox, I was also greeted with a video explaining how to make sense of all the statistics that come along with them! This busy homeschool mama was grateful for this! I pressed play on the video while I ate lunch and understood everything I needed to know about my kids’ results by the time the video was finished!


Homeschool Testing Services is Offering a Giveaway

Hurry! This giveaway ends on April 30, 2019! TEN winners will get their choice of Stanford-10 test. Prizes shipped only to US addresses. Enter here!

Happy Testing!






Mr. D Math to the Rescue: An Online Homeschool Math Review

Do you ever wish that you could just wave a magic wand and all of your teen’s math frustrations would disappear? Do you wish that you had a friend who could step in and guide your teen through the ups and downs of learning math with the same care and compassion that you bring to your homeschool? Mr. D is that friend! Within moments of logging in to our first live Mr. D Math class, I knew that Mr. D was everything my teens need in a math teacher.

I was given access to the  Pre-Algebra class  without charge and compensated for my time to write this article. However, I was not required to write a favorable review. The views that I share here are my own.

I was given access to the Pre-Algebra class without charge and compensated for my time to write this article. However, I was not required to write a favorable review. The views that I share here are my own.

Mr. D says, “Math is a language, a systematic means of communicating by the use of sounds or conventional symbols.” The idea is simple, yet powerful. Math is a language and Mr. D speaks the language of math in a way that makes senses to teens!

As my daughter and I dove into that first live class, I was immediately grateful for the chance to review the service.  I am always on the lookout for new ways to engage my kids, especially in math. It seems that their needs change almost as quickly as their socks, so I love to know our options in order to be prepared for when our math approach needs a change. This has been especially true as my little ones have turned into teens. They are more keenly aware of what works for them and what their own goals are for the future.

For that reason, I was thrilled to discover that Mr. D Math has been approved by the NCAA! We have a budding baseball player over here whose dream it is to play ball beyond graduation. I’m glad to know that we have options that will help him continue to homeschool and meet the requirements of the colleges that he may one day consider.

Mr. D Math is NCAA approved!

The following courses are NCAA approved:
Algebra I
Geometry
Algebra II
Pre-Calculus with Trigonometry  

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Mr. D is an Online Math Teaching Wizard!

Mr. D. knows his stuff and knows how to relate it to kids! It’s one thing to be skilled in math. It’s an entirely different gift to be able to explain math in a way that is inviting and encouraging to kids! Mr. D does this! The online classroom is warm and inviting as Mr. D encourages questions and effort!

Mr. D Math is Flexible!

Mr. D allows us to select the format that works for us. We can select from the self-paced program with generous email support from Mr. D and his staff, online curriculum and online class, or online curriculum and in-person class. We also have the ability to take Mr. D with us wherever we go! This means we can still carve out time for a little math exploration when we’re out for the day; at the library, waiting for swim practice to wrap up, or settled onto a blanket at the park. We were even able to download the videos and classwork to take with us! No more excuses for sweeping math to the side. We can enjoy a day out and still meet our assignment goals!  

Revisiting a topic and getting extra help is easy with Mr. D Math! A weekly extra-help session is available, and we are able to re-watch the lesson videos as many times as we need to! I love that my daughter can master the concepts of Pre-Algebra before moving on to Algebra!

Mr. D. is engaging, encouraging, and energetic!

All these traits that fly out the window when I’m tired or overwhelmed. Mr. D brings a calm, yet invigorating presence to the math lesson. Whether we were learning from a pre-recorded video or participating in a live class, we found our math anxiety melting away. At the same time, Mr. D’s enthusiasm for math is contagious! We found ourselves smiling along as we listened to the lesson. Math and smiling had previously been an nonexistent combination!

Mr. D Answers Questions Quickly!

Unlike many curriculum options, Mr. D is available to answer questions! With a quick email, my questions were sent and the response was typically received within minutes! Whether this was a question about a Pre-Algebra problem or a more general question about using the classroom, Mr. D’s replies were always speedy! As a busy mom, who juggles many tasks, I was grateful for the prompt answers to my questions. This meant that we stayed focused on math rather than letting our attention slide on to something else!

Mr. D Makes Math Easy!

It was a privilege to dive into Mr. D’s Pre-Algebra class with my daughter. Not only were the math lessons engaging and easy to follow for my daughter, the program was user-friendly for me! Mr. D takes the guesswork out of what skills my daughter needs to prepare for Algebra, and allows me to enjoy the journey with her!

Mr. D is a friend to homeschoolers!

Mom Guilt: How to Escape its Talons


Mom Guilt. Or, more accurately, Parent Guilt. It’s real. And it eats away at our confidence to parent with peace and connectedness. But does it have to?

I’ve been pondering this a lot lately as I navigate a new phase of parenting. With all six kids now school-age, our days are bursting at the seams with activities, leaving me breathless most days.

Questions swirl through my head. Did I spend enough time with the littlest today? Do I need to ramp up my efforts with science experiments for the nine-year-old? How can I help my teen through his math anxiety? The questions are endless. Essentially they are all asking…

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Am I doing enough?

These questions can lead to a barrage of negative thoughts about all the ways we’re not living up to our expectations and ideals. I didn’t read picture books to the little one. I didn’t take the time to sit with the teen and work through those math problems. I didn’t play that game that I promised.

In reality, the day could have flowed smoothly, but somehow I ended up focusing on all of the things I didn’t do, instead of those I did. I read aloud for an hour while the youngest four played with legos. I settled in next to the teen to listen to him share about the thoughts that have been rolling around in his mind. I prepared a healthy dinner that nourished us all. I drove an hour and a half to swim practice and played with my kids in the pool while we were there.

I feel the constant tug between guilt and good enough daily.  Recently, though, I started dabbling in mindfulness meditation with the 10% Happier app. It has helped me start to be more aware, more mindful, of when the questions and negative thoughts pop up. And boy, do they pop up more often than I realized!  

I am learning to let the thoughts flow without judging myself (at least some of the time). I know this is just the beginning of the journey and that I will always be evolving with it,  but I am trusting the process.

I am constantly surprised that just by naming the feeling, its power over me dissipates. “Hey, there’s that mom guilt!” Poof! Just by calling it out, by being mindful that these thoughts are popping up, I’m able to intentionally shift my focus from the negative, can’t-do-enough attitude, to the wow-I-did-a-lot today viewpoint.

Why am I fighting myself?

One of the most recent videos I watched on the app explained how we, as humans, seem wired to look for challenges even when everything is flowing smoothly. Wow! Truth bomb!

While I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in this, I’m sad that we seem to be fighting ourselves so often. This makes me even more eager to explore mindfulness as a way to step outside the cycle.

After some pondering, I am trying to reframe my constant questioning and worrying from the negative to a new, more gentle view. I am leaning into a new view of my questions. My questions are a self-reflection on the heart of my family.  My questions bring me closer to the truth for my family right now.

This may seem overly simplistic and obvious, but when we are stuck in this cycle of questioning → negative thoughts → questioning → self-doubt, it can be challenging to step aside and see it in a new light. By pausing to reframe my questions, I slow the way they swirl in my head and begin to sift through them to find their core.

Questions lead us to new insight

Our questions are a good thing! The essence of each one is asking, “Am I giving what I can right now?” Sometimes that answer may be, “No, I can carve out ten minutes in the morning to read to my little girl.” But sometimes, the answer is, “Yes, I am giving all I can right now and that is enough.”

I am learning to embrace this question, not to produce guilt, but as a beacon to guide my daily decisions, encouraging me to stay in tune with my family's needs. Embracing mindfulness is gifting me with the grace to watch the ebb and flow of these thoughts without judging them or myself. Questions that arise from mom guilt are simply tools on the journey of connected, peaceful parenting.

It is my hope that you find peace in your questions and that they bring you closer to your family’s truth.


Nessy Learning: Why This Reading Teacher Chose it to Homeschool Her Struggling Reader

Are you homeschooling a struggling reader?  Yeah, me too.  Even as a reading teacher, it's a challenge!  I equate it to throwing spaghetti against the wall.  Some sticks.  Some slides right off into a heap on the floor.  That’s how guiding a struggling reader can feel.  We search for solutions, the perfect one that will melt away our child’s reading challenges.  We try one after another.  We poke and prod, and sometimes, momentarily, we give up.  We feel as though our whole success as a parent, especially a homeschooling parent hinges on our child’s reading ability.  So when our children are delayed in reading, we feel off-balance and our confidence to teach them waivers. 

I know.  I’ve been there.  Multiple times.  The reading teacher in me is still humbled by the emotional side of my sons’ reading struggles.  I'm not immune to that not-quite-up-to-the-task feeling.  Thankfully, my training and experience have helped me to evaluate the quality of reading programs so that I don’t have to throw too many handfuls of spaghetti at the wall.

This Reading Teacher's Criteria for a Choosing a Reading Program:

  1. Orton-Gillingham based
  2. Engaging
  3. Plenty of Practice
  4. Personalized
  5. Budget-Friendly

Needless to say, there aren’t many programs out there that meet all of these standards.  The good news is that I found one that we love (and I think you will too)!  Nessy Learning!  It changes the atmosphere of learning to read from dreaded drills to engaging games. 

{I was given access to the Nessy Parent Pack and compensated for my time.  However, all opinions are my own and I was not required to share a favorable review.  BUT...I do love sharing amazing resources with you!}

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Nessy Learning is Orton-Gillingham Based

The effectiveness of Orton-Gilllingham based teaching for struggling readers has been proven over and over.  Nessy focuses on incremental instruction so that the student is not asked to work with phonics concepts that have not yet been taught.  If your child needs to strengthen pre-reading skills like rhyming and phonological awareness, Nessy provides it.  Blending and segmentation are practiced repeatedly to ensure that the student builds a solid experiential understanding of these essential skills.  One of my favorite aspects of Nessy is the teaching of the 6 Syllable Types!  Teaching these to my struggling readers has changed their approach to reading and spelling in dramatic ways.  They have moved from the guess and hope-for-the-best approach to segmenting words into syllables for decoding or spelling.  The syllable types are a powerful tool for all learners, but especially the struggling reader.  I love, love, love that Nessy includes them. 

Nessy Learning is Engaging

Log in to Nessy and you’ll see gameschooling at its best!  Whereas struggling readers typically need to spend hours and hours practicing skills, Nessy adds some excitement to those hours.  Nessy has become a wonderful addition to our reading practice.  And to be honest, there are weeks when Nessy is the reading instruction for the week.  I’m good with that!  When my son logs on and spends even a half hour of focused time playing Banana Wheels or any of the other Nessy games, I know he’s receiving quality practice and instruction.  It’s not wasted time or busy work.  It is a game.  It is learning.  Win! Win! Win!

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Nessy Learning Offers Plenty of Practice

Struggling learners need repeated experience with skills and concepts to achieve mastery.  Nessy provides it!  Nessy is full of fun games, videos, and printable worksheets.  All of these are great ways to mix up the format and keep things interesting.  One of the biggest problems I’ve run into with other programs is a lack of practice and reinforcement of skills.  I’d then have to spend time searching for additional activities and worksheets to fit what my son was currently learning.  Nessy changed all of that!  Instead of wasting time looking for additional worksheets or activities, I could spend that time reading aloud or playing games with my son, which meant even more experience and exposure to language.  And who doesn’t want that? :-)

Nessy Offers Personalized Learning

One of the greatest worries with an online program is that it will be a one-size-fits-all approach, marching our kids through one concept after another without focusing on mastery.  This only leads to frustration for everyone!  Nessy Learning adjusts according to your child’s performance in the games.  Additionally, you have access to reports and settings so that you are able to accommodate your child’s exact needs. 

The Nessy Parent Pack even includes access to Dyslexia Quest, a series of games which helps you to determine if your child struggles with some of the skills typical with dyslexia.  This isn’t a formal diagnostic but even as a reading teacher, it affirmed to me which areas my son was struggling with.  Of course, the kids just see this as the fun games on Yeti Mountain, but that’s the beauty of it!  Even my confident, self-taught readers love “playing Nessy.”

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Nessy Learning is Budget-Friendly

Private tutoring with a licensed reading teacher can cost over $40 an hour and it is well worth every penny, but the reality is that the big price tag of private instruction is not always feasible.  Nessy offers an alternative.  The Parent Pack provides a yearly license for one student to Dyslexia Quest, Nessy Reading & Spelling, Writing Beach, Nessy Numbers and the ‘Dyslexia Explained’ book for less than the cost of four tutoring sessions. 

Nessy even offers Freebies and Discounts!

Free trial

Dyslexia Explained e-book (Free)

Nessy Parent Pack (described above) (15% off using code PPBLOG15) This expires October 16, 2017

I encourage you to check out Nessy Learning.   Incorporating it into our weekly schedule has allowed me to catch my breath and stop throwing spaghetti against the wall!

Homeschool Planet: An Online Planner Review

I stood staring at the library shelf, desperately trying to remember the name of that book!  The one that I needed for our co-op meeting the next day.  If only I had remembered to bring the book list, then I’d be on top of things. 

I found myself saying that little phrase often… “If only I had remembered {fill-in-the-blank}.  The truth is life has challenged my juggling skills over the past year.  Homeschool activities, library visits, appointments of every kind, household tasks, remembering to buy birthday candles and ink for the printer!  When I think of all the little details that I manage as a homeschool mom, I’m brought to my knees.  It’s easy to let the magnitude of orchestrating the schedule overwhelm me.  This year, with six homeschooling children, I knew I needed to “up my organization game.” 

Homeschool Planet has allowed me to do just that!  After a few hours of tinkering with the program, I found many, many reasons to love it!!  Here are three!

{I was given free access to Homeschool Planet and the Brave Writer Lifestyle lesson plans, and I was also compensated for my time to review them.  All opinions, however, are my own.}

Online Lesson Plans!

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The Brave Writer add-ons are not your average lesson plans!  Opening them up, felt like I had stepped into the most encouraging homeschool conference.  Professional development for me, the homeschool mom: links to pdfs on topics like freewriting and copywork, podcast links that will inspire you to connect with your kids, and a treasure trove of wisdom right from Julie Bogart herself.  A daily dose of support!  Who doesn’t need that?!

Even as a seasoned Brave Writer Lifestyle homeschooler, I found fresh ideas to enliven our days.  With the Homeschool Planet format, I was able to easily rearrange the lesson plans to fit our family’s needs.  All I had to do was click and drag the activities from one day to another!

Lists: Books, Shopping, To-Do

Online Homeschool Planner Book List

My book lists go with me everywhere now!  So no more blank stares in front of the library shelves!  I have shopping lists for Poetry Tea Time, Book Clubs, science experiments and co-op.  And all those little details of to-do’s are right at my fingertips when I find five unexpectedly free minutes.  I used to spend those five minutes trying to remember what I needed to get done, but now I just glance at my list and get to work.  (Or I may just drink my tea while it’s warm and pretend I don’t have a to-do list :-). )

Portable & Print!

Online Homeschool Planner Print


I’ve always been a paper planner kind of gal so I was skeptical about moving my planning online.  Well, Homeschool Planet must have been reading the minds of all of us paper planner lovers because there are two print options: color or economy print!  I’ve enjoyed having my master plan for the month printed out and tucked into my homeschool binder, and printing the weekly schedule has helped my kids to anticipate upcoming activities.  Whichever method or combination of planning methods work for you, Homeschool Planet is adaptable. 

Homeschool Planet has quickly become a favorite planning tool.  I love when I find a resource that I can personalize to fit my needs.  Each home and family is different but we all need some organization to brings our good intentions into reality. 

Try Homeschool Planet's FREE 30-Day Trial!  It's plenty of time to fall in love with it!

 

Homeschool Planning: 4 Tools for Creating a Flexible, Focused Homeschool

Crafting a homeschool year can be a daunting task.  The curriculum catalogs trickle in like a monsoon, enticing us with the new and improved that we hope will solve all of our homeschool struggles.  If we just buy a different phonics program, our struggling reader will magically read.  If we plunk down a bucket of cash, the new math program will stop the math tears.  This may be true.  But often it's not. 

That's why creating a homeschool vision and looking deeply at the children in front of you is key to a realistic and productive plan.  Without taking the time to consider the learning styles of your children, the realities of your homeschool, and the priorities you hold, you are likely to find yourself in a cycle of frustration and impulse buying which will only lead to more frustration and wasted time and money. 

It's taken me ten years to recognize this cycle and find the tools I need to step out of it.  Along the way, though, I've learned a lot about what our family's needs and how to meet them.  The most important factor is flexibility.  With six kids ranging from pre-school to 9th grade, I definitely need a plan, to lay my intentions out on paper so that the details don't get swept away with the tide.  But these plans need to be flexible enough to allow for the ever-changing individuals in our home.  Here I am sharing 4 of my favorite homeschool planning tools that have helped shape our flexible plan for the upcoming year. Well, let's make that 5.  Homeschool planning is not complete without a steady supply of chocolate ;-)

{This post contains some affiliate links.}

The Homeschool Alliance

Homeschool Alliance

The Homeschool Alliance is hosted by Julie Bogart of Brave Writer.  Inside you'll find a wealth of wisdom and support that is like no other.  It's a safe place to ask your questions, share your fears and celebrate the joys of homeschooling.  I recently meandered through the archives and uncovered the gem of Planning Month (July 2016).  With a new stage of homeschooling ahead of me, it was exactly what I needed.  The webinar replay, readings, and community conversations were alive and relevant to me now as I plan for a high-schooler, a struggling reader, and everything in between.  Working through Planning Month left me with a sense of calm as I moved forward to planning the nitty-gritty of our homeschool.  It helped me look at the big picture and the individuals in front of me.  The best news is that The Homeschool Alliance will be hosting another planning month starting in just over a week!  Even if you join just for July, it will be well worth your time!

Plan Your Year Planning Kit

Plan Your Year Homeschool

Pam Barnhill's Plan Your Year Planning Kit was the perfect complement to the work I did in The Homeschool Alliance.  It helped me continue to focus in on our homeschool vision and goals.  From there, I was able to identify what books and resources would best fit my unique family of learners.  I love the practicality of Pam's kit.  It includes:

  • 79-Page Planning Guide
  • Over 40 editable planning forms
  • Audio workshops with Sarah Mackenzie and Mystie Winckler
  • Free lifetime updates and bonuses
  • Free Facebook community

And as a free bonus, Pam is including a student planner and audio workshop! (This offer ends July 2, 2017)  I love everything about this kit!  I can type right into the forms and print them out or print them and then write.  The Facebook community keeps me motivated and encouraged when I'm in the trenches of planning.  The planning guide walks me through the steps I need to craft a productive, flexible year.  And best of all, whenever Pam adds or updates new pages, they're available to all those who have purchased the kit. Forever! 

You can download a free sample right now.  I think you'll love what you find!

Your Morning Basket Guide

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We love our daily basket over here.  That basket of goodies that we dig into each day, usually in the morning but not always.  It's full of exciting read-alouds, beautiful art prints, poetry, music and whatever else we are obsessed with at the time.  The problem I run into, though, is not remembering what I wanted to do over the course of the week, month or year.  This left me frustrated, feeling as though I hadn't made the most of this special morning time.  Then I found Pam's Your Morning Basket Guide.  In it, I found all the pages I need to personalize our daily basket and enrich our homeschool days. 

If you're new to the idea of the morning basket or just need some inspiration to breath some life back into yours, you'll love all the other resources that comes with Your Morning Basket Guide.  From the video tour of Pam's morning basket notebook, to the Facebook community, to the Morning time snapshots and e-book guide, there is a wealth of inspiration and practical tips for starting or enlivening your morning time.  Even after years of morning time, I found myself learning something new and nodding in agreement with Pam's advice.  I think you'll love it.

The ProClick Binding Machine

ProClick Binding Homemade Planner

With all these amazing forms printed and ready to go, I was looking for a way to keep them organized without having to carry a clunky binder.  But I still needed a system that was flexible and able to add and delete pages as necessary.  Thankfully a friend recommended the ProClick Binding Machine.  With it and the ProClick spines, I'm able to use Pam's planning and morning basket pages to create my own planner.  This video gives a quick demo of how the ProClick Binding Machine works. 

I love it!  I print what I need, as I need it, and pop the pages into the spine.  I'm notorious for tucking papers into random "safe" places assuming I will remember where I put them.  Nope. Never happens. Instead, I wander around rummaging through stacks looking for that one paper.  So it may not be too bold to say that the ProClick is going to save my life.  

So there you have my four favorite planning tools (so far) this year!  What are you loving right now?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!  Happy Planning!

Personalized, Online Math Education with CTC Math

Managing the math education of multiple kids is daunting to say the least.  We've curriculum hopped for the past 10 years of homeschooling, always in search of the best program to accommodate the learning styles in front of me.   We'd meandered from program to program, piecing things together, in the attempt to find the perfect fit.  Along the way, I found myself wishing, hoping for a way to keep track of where we'd been and where we were going. 

Enter CTC Math
Exhale deeply. 
Find peace with Math.
 

That's what happened.  As soon as my account was activated, I hopped on to take a peek and I immediately saw how this program could work for all five of my school-age kids (grades k-8). 

{Please Note: I received a CTC Math membership free in order to give a review, and was compensated for my time.  I was not, however, required to give a positive review, and all opinions are my own.}

CTC Math Tech Savvy Visual Learner

The Tech-Savvy or Visual Learner

My 14 year old loves working online.  He finds videos extremely helpful when he wants to learn something new.  So CTC was a perfect fit for him.  The videos included in each lesson are straight-forward, yet thorough, providing several examples of the concept being taught.  Listening to the instructor while watching the math unfold on the screen is really effective for the visual learner that he is.  If he feels he needs to hear an explanation again, he simply replays that portion of the video.  When he's ready, he moves on to the problems. 


The Gets-Bored-Easily Learner

My 12 year old definitely lives by the motto "variety is the spice of life" and she approaches math the same way.  She prefers to learn from a variety of sources and styles.  CTC Math is the perfect addition to her math menu.  When she needs a break from the books, we hop online and find which CTC lessons will support what she is learning.  The program makes this so easy!  It is searchable and completely customizable.  While some programs allow access to only one grade level, CTC allows a student to work at multiple levels, creating a completely personalized math education. 

CTC Math Visual Learner

The Independent Learner

There are 2 ways to access the lessons in CTC Math.  The parent/teacher can assign tasks for the student to work through or the student can work through lessons of his choosing.  Either of these can be done following the scope and sequence of the program or in any order necessary.  These features allow the individual needs of the learner to be met while still providing a space for independent learning.  My 8 year old was on a roll with multiplication.  Instead of having to stop at what would have been the end on the second grade curriculum, he was able to roll along into the higher levels, all on his own.  I simply showed him how to search for multiplication lessons and sent him on his way.


The No-Nonsense Learner

If you have a student who is easily overwhelmed by busy workbook page or one who likes to just get it done, CTC Math is simple and straight-forward, providing an effective balance of instruction and practice.  The videos are uncluttered, without any unnecessary music or drawings.  The practice problems are follow the same simplicity, one problem at a time with immediate feedback as to the accuracy of the answer.  This is a powerful feature for students who learn best without extra stimuli, allowing them to focus wholly on that one problem without distraction.  It also helps to move things along for the "get 'er done" learner. 

CTC Math Confidence Building

The Confidence-Building Learner

We've all got one of these at some point or another.  The learner who needs to build up some confidence with a specific math concept or with math in general.  My ten year old is one of these learners right now.  He benefits from a hands-on approach and I was skeptical that I would find an online program that would meet this need. But CTC did!  As he reviewed place value, he was able to manipulate base ten blocks with a right-click of the mouse.  When he practiced rounding, a notoriously tricky concept, CTC provided a number line to bring the skill from the abstract to the concrete.  And because it was all online, my felt more "grown-up" while he practiced the concepts that tripped him up earlier in the year.  I was thankful that CTC provided him with the opportunity to review without feeling condescending or babyish, helping him to make progress without feeling like he was completing remedial work.  CTC provides an unlimited amount of time to work on each problem.  Nothing destroys confidence more unnecessarily than not completing a problem "in time."  The fluency will come as the confidence increases.  CTC builds confidence!
 

CTC Math meets the needs of all of us!

CTC Math family

Not only does CTC Math meet the individual needs of my kids, but it meets mine too.  It is easy to use and allows me to customize a week's worth (or more) of math instruction for multiple kids in a short amount of time.  I can hop on at any time to see their progress or edit their assignments.  For our family this is a win multiple times over.  Each child can use CTC Math as it best fits their needs and I can facilitate that with ease. 

Want to see how well CTC Math can work for your family?  Try it FREE for 4 weeks! 

Once you fall in love with it, save 60% off the homeschoolers price and get 6 extra months FREE!  That's a year and a half of personalized math instruction!

An Accidental, Mathematical, Poetical Teatime

“That’s my parawewogram!”

“No, it’s mine!  See?!”

“Oh, yeah. {giggle} Mine is hidin’ under the poetwy book.”  {giggle, giggle}

They’re arguing over a parallelogram?  They’re arguing over a parallelogram!  Woohoo!  This is big news!  Not the arguing.  That happens everyday. But the fact that these little ones even care about parallelograms at all. That’s the best news of the week. 

But I must confess, I didn’t teach them this.  It wasn’t some heroic effort on my part that blessed them with the knowledge of the parallelogram.  If anything, it was because I was lazy! 

You see, I’ve got six kids ranging in age from three to thirteen, and sometimes homeschooling all of them just overwhelms me.  Keeping up with six unique learners takes everything that this introverted mama has.  Sometimes I just run out of juice.  Do you know what I mean?  Have you ever felt that way?  That’s what happened on the parallelogram morning.

Every lesson doesn’t need to be laid out in the plan book.  The best learning happens, often by accident, when good things come together to create a spark of connection.  That’s what I learned on the parallelogram morning.

I woke up late, scrambling into the morning.  The list of learning activities I had planned for the day would require much more time than my late start would allow.  As I poured a strong cup of tea and dolloped it with honey, my phone dinged.  Another reminder from the library.  “That whole stack of books you took out.  They’re due. Yesterday.” 

In the first five minutes of my morning, I was greeted with all the balls I’d dropped.  Late library books, late nights and late mornings.  Late.  Late.  Late. 

I cheered myself with a few bites of chocolate while I piled the books onto the kitchen table - mostly math themed poetry books I’d been using to plan a co-op class.  I’ve homeschooled long enough to know that this day was headed one of two ways: into the nothing-goes-right kind of day or into the let’s-make-the-most-of-it-and-see-what-happens kind of day.  The choice was mine. 

Seeing those math books stacked up, knowing we needed to make the most of our morning, I grasped forinspiration.  Thankfully, I found a thread of it and held on tight.  We’ll do math and poetry together, all together. 

That’s when a little bit of magic happened.  At least that’s how I prefer to see the chaos that followed. 

Tangrams were dug out of the back of the closet.  Muffins baked in the oven, dangerously close to burning, while pages spewed from my printer onto the floor.  The geometric coloring sheets I’d bookmarked the week before were saving my day. 

In the midst of all this distraction I heard, “That’s my parawewogram!”

It stopped me in my tracks.  I braced for the argument that I expected to come.  And then melted as the exchanged played out.  My kids were learning from each other simply because I was lazy and hit the snooze button.  Simply because I had chosen a let’s-make-the-most-of-it-and-see-what-happens kind of day.  Simply because there was a spark of connection between my children and the engaging materials which were sitting way-too-close to a puddle of almond milk on the kitchen table.  Learning was happening despite my scatteredness. 

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One by one children found their places around the table, lured by the smell of cinnamon.  One by one, they picked up colored pencils and tangrams, rulers and poetry books.  Mathematical riddles, disguised as poems, were passed around along with warm muffins.  Belly laughs and quiet moments of concentration took turns dancing through our kitchen.  Our morning, though late to start, was long in the best sort of way. 

Math and poetry had accidentally collided.  And for that, I have to thank the snooze button. 

Want your own mathematical, poetical teatime? 
I’ve got the tools for you listed below.

 


The Stack of Overdue Library Books ( plus a few favorites)

The Best of Times, Gregory Tang
Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie, J. Patrick Lewis
Marvelous Math, Lee Bennett Hopkins
Math Curse, Jon Scieszka
Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices, Theoni Pappas
The Grapes of Math, Greg Tang
Math for All Seasons, Greg Tang

Our Favorite Math "Toys"

I love to "accidentally" leave math manipulatives and games out on the kitchen table.  My early risers find them there and dig into some before dawn learning.  As the rest of the crew wakes and meanders into the living room, games are underway.    They made a great addition to our poetry teatime too!

The Geometric Coloring Designs

These coloring pages are open-ended and created a lot of math-focused discussion at the level of each child.  We talked about patterns, angles, similarities and differences in shapes and lots more.

 

What are your favorite ways to sneak some math into your day?  Share in the comments!

A Magical Poetry Tea Time

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This post contains affiliate links.  by making purchases through these links, nurtured roots receives compensation at no cost to you.  thanks!

We sipped our “Twist-the-Time Tea.”  Eyes wide, we waited.  And then………….our laughter burst the silence.  Nothing had happened.  We didn’t travel back in time.  But it was fun to think about where we’d go if we could. 

This conversation began our Just Add Magic poetry teatime.  This amazon prime original show has captured my kids’ imaginations.  It’s rare that all six kids enjoy the same television show, but this one has won them all over. Mystery lingers from episode to episode and magic recipes are made to try to solve it. 

After binge-watching season two, the kids’ conversations were peppered with new recipe names and accompanying riddles.  They were composing poetry and didn’t even know it.  In their fun, I saw our next Poetry Tea Time.

Though I had a general plan, this poetry teatime was more on the spontaneous side.  A nasty cold had kept me from heading out for any special foods or decorations, but that didn’t stop our fun.  I rummaged through the pantry.  Popcorn, apples, peppermint tea and just enough ingredients to whip up some breakfast cookies.  (Poetry tea time in our house happens Thursday mornings as Poetry-in-Pajamas.) 

Armed with index cards and markers, I brainstormed some magical names for these foods and served them up with poetry books I had snagged at the library the week before.  Finding poems about magic proved difficult so I kept my definition of magic loose.  If it had magic in the title, it was added to the pile.

Featured Poem: from Poetry Teatime Companion
Spellbound by Emily Jane Bronte

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant sell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

 

Magical Book List:

Make Magic!  Do Good!
Poems of Magic and Spells
Sky Magic
Enchantment
Flower Fairies
Poetry Tea Time Companion: A Brave Writer Sampler of British and American Poems


Magical Teatime Foods:

Twist-the-Time Tea - Guaranteed to send you back in time.
Kernel of Truth Popped Corn - Sure to make you see or tell the truth!
All-Is-Well Apple Slices - Something wrong? Not feeling well?  These apple slices will make everything all right.
Bring-Out-Your-Sweetness Breakfast Treats - These cookies will help your sweet self shine through. 
 

Poetry Teatime Activity:

Creating new recipe names and riddles or make a riddle for one the foods on the table. 

Kernel of Truth Popped Corn

If the truth is what you seek,
Be sure not to peek
As you pop this corn in your mouth.
Keep your eyes shut tight
And prepare for the sight
Of what you will see in your mind.

Here are some of the new recipes the kids are working on.  I’m not sure some of them are safe!
Life-Giving Lollipops
Get the Giggles Grapes
Break Your Neck Bananas
Stretch Your Arms String Cheese
Re-do Raspberry Pie

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our Magical Poetry Teatime.  I'd love to hear from you!  Do you enjoy poetry teatime in your home?  If you do, what's your favorite poetry book or treat?  If not, what questions do you have about Poetry Teatime?  I look forward to chatting with you!