Link-up: You Might Be a Homeschooler… (10/3)

You Might Be a Homeschooler if you make curriculum deals in parking lots.

As homeschoolers, we all do those things that may be a little off-center. You know what I’m talking about. Those things that are normal to us, but may make others look at us and say, “You may be a homeschooler…” So link up and tell us what you did or said this week that made you or someone else say, “You may be a homeschooler…”

So, as I’m on Facebook making arrangements to meet a homeschool mom in a parking lot to sell her a textbook, it occurs to me that it’s the second time I’ve done so in the past three months.

You might be a homeschooler if you conduct curriculum deals in parking lots like some kind of confused drug dealer.

You Might Be a Homeschooler

Link-up: You Might Be a Homeschooler… (9/19)

You Might Be a #Homeschooler...

As homeschoolers, we all do those things that may be a little off-center. You know what I’m talking about. Those things that are normal to us, but may make others look at us and say, “You may be a homeschooler…” So link up and tell us what you did or said this week that made you or someone else say, “You may be a homeschooler…”

So, Thursday night, we read a book about bees Blake had gotten from the library. When we were done reading, I had more answers than questions: if every bee in the hive is the child of the queen, how do new hives get started? How many larvae get the royal jelly and grow up to be queens? How do the new queens get to their new hives, and how is there a group to take with them if they don’t have any children of their own yet?

So, of course, we had to look it up. I pulled out my phone, and we found a good answer online. I didn’t keep searching, but as that answer made sense to me, we didn’t feel the need to do so. Besides, amidst the original search results was a YouTube video, and Blake wanted to to check that out.

So we did, and watched a guy load a shipment of bees into his new hive. Then we watched another video in which another beekeeper showed us his relatively new hive (only two weeks old, I think), and how quickly the bees were building honeycomb. That led us to watching his earlier videos in which he actually built the hive.

By this time, it was after 10:30, and neither of us could keep our eyes open. But now I want a beehive.

Me: Now I want to beehive.
B: It will take a long time First we have to get a white suit, then we have to get a queen.

You might be a homeschooler if you use YouTube as late-night curriculum.

You Might Be a Homeschooler

How about you?

TOS Review: Veritas Press Self-Paced History – New Testament Greece and Rome

Veritas Press Review
Today’s review is for the Self-Paced History of New Testament Greece and Rome from Veritas Press. This online course is aimed at students in grades 2-6, but older students may enjoy it, too. Jack just finished 6th grade, and has no patience for things that he feels are “too young” for him (such as the preschool shows his little brother wants to watch), yet he really enjoyed the lessons. Continue reading

TOS Review: CTC Math


CTC Math Review
When my now-sixth-grader was starting first grade in a virtual school, he took a placement test that put him in third grade math. (And this was after absolutely no math instruction whatsoever.) We started him in second grade math, and he did well until he hit fourth grade math, when he started struggling. And that’s where he’s been stuck for a while. I really haven’t pushed him, but when the opportunity came along to review the 12-Month Family Plan from CTC Math, I had him try a demo lesson to see what he thought.

The demo lesson (in case you skipped the video) is for adding fractions with different denominators. Through the whole lesson, my son kept saying, “Oh! I get it now.”  The way that he was taught in his virtual school never made sense to him. I had even tried to find online tutorials to help, but nothing clicked. But Pat worked his magic, and my kid was thrilled. And I’m for anything that makes learning fun and exciting. We don’t do boring around here. 😉 (Which is one reason we also no longer do the virtual school, and have time for fun things like curriculum reviews.) The boy even liked Pat’s accent! Continue reading

TOS Review: Curiosity Quest

Curiosity Quest Review
Learning should be fun, don’t you think? I think so, and the folks at Curiosity Quest think so, too! We were excited to review two DVDs: DVD Combo Pack – Produce and DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea. I was as fascinated by these shows as the kids were.

Curiosity Quest is a show that answers those niggling questions we all have about everyday things. Joel Greene is a fabulous and entertaining host who dives into the types of adventures we’d all love to experience. He takes us inside factories, farms, and salvage yards to learn how it’s done. The show airs on some PBS stations, and is available on DVDs. Episodes are approximately 30 minutes each.

Each episode starts with a viewer question, and goes onsite to meet someone with a related occupation. Every few minutes, we are shown a “man on the street” interview segment in which people (often cute kids) answer questions related to the show’s subject. This segment is quite entertaining, as some of the people come up with totally off-the-wall answers. There are also a few “Fun Fact” segments thrown in. The show is geared toward kids ages 7-14, but my five-year-old and I both watched them along with my twelve-year-old, and we all loved them. They’re funny and informative – quality “edutainment”!

The DVDs are great on their own, or as the starting point to a unit study. You can watch the episode then spend some fun time doing your own research to learn even more! We didn’t go that far, but as we watched the videos, we paused several times to google our own questions. Sometimes the questions were answered later in the episode, but we didn’t know that when we looked them up. LOL We watched two episodes a day for three days, and one morning, the first thing the five-year-old said when he woke up, was, “Have we watched the orange thing yet?” Which somehow ended up with us googling what vitamins and nutrients are in oranges before we even got out of bed.

Continue reading

Can a Homeschooler Live a Minimalist Lifestyle?

I’ve posted several times over the past few months about decluttering. I’m not talking about just cleaning out a closet. I’m talking about 30+ moving boxes of junk that I’ve moved around the country with me — some of them for 26 years. I have two boxes left that I didn’t get to before I moved again this week. My ex-husband found four small boxes (mostly books, of course) and one large box (only part of the contents were mine) that I left when I moved out. Because I couldn’t find all my stuff because we had too much crap stored in the basement.

I grew up in a very cluttered home. Not dirty. Just cluttered. Well, some of the shelves were dusty, because who has time to dust four million what-nots? (I exaggerate. There were probably only three million.) I was just as bad. I collected unicorns. And Precious Moments figurines. And those cute Avon perfume bottles. And Garfield toys and figurines. And books. Lots and lots of books. Everywhere. My mom had lots of those, too, And by “too” I mean both of us had way too many books.

I was in my late twenties before I started even thinking about getting rid of anything. It had never crossed my mind. It didn’t matter that some things had been boxed up the first time my family moved when I was twelve. (If you’re really clever, you can now figure out how old I am.) Then we moved again six months later, in another cross-country move. Again, three years after that. I moved three times within the same town, then once to another state, and every time I moved, more stuff got put in boxes, and less stuff came out of those boxes. Who needs thirty boxes of anything? (Unless it’s chocolate, then we can talk.)

I went through some of the boxes, donating things, tossing some — and labeling and resealing half-full boxes. Why? I have no idea.

A couple of years later, I started selling my figurines and unicorns on eBay. I had so many that even after years of stumbling across them and selling who knows how many, I still found a large box full of Garfield figurines this summer.

So, here I am, moving again, and even after getting rid of all the stuff over the past few months, I still have So. Much. And I just don’t need this much stuff. And that’s just MY stuff. I can’t even talk about the kids’ playroom. When we moved here, Jack was 2 1/2, and there was one small bin of toys. Now we have two long shelves (8-10 ft) full of small bins–used to sort the small toys–as well as four huge bins on the floor — all of which are mounded up with toys. And the 50+ stuffed animals. And the thousands of Legos. All over the floor.

My ex has major hoarding issues, as well, and now that I’m back here (living in the basement — I seem to be forever living under other people), I’m reminded of how bad he is about that. So we all need work. X claims he wants help cleaning out, but the only way he’ll actually get rid of stuff is if I lock him out of the house and throw it away myself. It’s not my stuff to throw way, though.

But I can only start with myself and see what happens. Mainly because I’m so tired of trying to find places for all my stuff. I had two ebooks downloaded (collecting free ebooks was something I had to stop because I realized I was hoarding free ebooks as if there would never be enough to read) about minimalism so I read them both tonight. Don’t be too impressed. They were both only about 100 pages. They are books about minimalism after all. (Neither of these are free now. They were $2.99 each at the time of this post.)

I preferred Luxury of Less: The Five Rings of Minimalism by Karol Gajda. It’s written in kind of a chatty style, talking about his personal journey, and each chapter has a 30-day challenge, only one of which is to get rid of “stuff”. This book is more about your mindset.

The Art Of Minimalist Organization: The Minimalist Way To Organize, Clean, And Keep Your Home Spotless by Ben Night is more about a step-by-step process of how to remove stuff from your home and neatly store the items you do keep.

Both books are helpful in their own way. Minimalism stresses quality over quantity and being happy with your life and grateful for what you have rather than constantly wishing for more stuff, thinking that it will make you happy. Not that you can’t buy new things, but you make fewer purchases, and each one has a purpose — no impulse buys.

So, I’m looking around at the things I have here already and thinking about all the boxes I have yet to bring over from the apartment, and a good chunk of it is homeschool-related. I kept all of Jack’s old books in case he wanted to look back over them, or in case Blake wanted to. We have oodles of stuff for science experiments, and while neither kid is into crafts, Blake does like to draw, so we have all the paper, crayons, markers, pens, and pencils a kid could want.

Just *some* of the books I've kept "just in case".

Just *some* of the books I’ve kept “just in case”. Not sure if you can tell, but there are about 15 books in each stack.

We won’t even talk about the regular books these kids have. We could easily open our own little library here. (I’m not exaggerating this time.)

Then there are the puzzles and board games that every family has. Well, Blake really likes puzzles, so we may have more than our share of those, too.

One of the first things that set me on the path to decluttering and simplifying was reading something FlyLady wrote. At least, I’m pretty sure it was her. (And whoever it was, I’m paraphrasing.) If you’re a Christian, and you believe God will meet all your needs, then why do you hold onto things you don’t need or use “just in case you need it” ten years from now?

But I’m wondering if it’s possible for a homeschooler to be a minimalist? How much stuff do we really need to homeschool? I’m not talking about how much or how little to spend. I’m talking about how much stuff we keep around. I’m not quite ready to dump all the stuff yet — even the old school books, but it is something to consider. I have no trouble getting rid of clothes or shoes (just not the boots – I may need a boot intervention), but I can’t get rid of anything that is remotely educational.

Which would probably be fine if I didn’t see pretty much everything as educational.