Monday, August 30, 2010

We LOVE Peterson Directed Handwriting (Crew Review)

Having two young boys, I have tried out lots of different penmanship workbooks and methods. But it seems like no matter what curriculums I had tried, these boys of mine were content to continue on with their messy (often times illegible) penmanship.

One solution I found for my older son, was to start teaching him simplified cursive. It helped him to pay more attention to his strokes and enabled him to write for longer periods of time (and for me to still be able to read what he had written). My younger son, who is the only lefty in the family, is a completely different story. He forms all his letters incorrectly, writes so tiny you can barely read the words, and spacing? Forget about it!

But that was before we received several PDF Ebooks from Peterson Directed Handwriting to review. PDH uses a directed instruction approach that is largely based on movement. I wish I had known about this program when my boys were first starting to learn to write. What young child doesn’t enjoy movement? Anyhow, the program uses a cycle of development, practice, and application in order to engrain proper letter formation as a habit. The end result is legible handwriting with minimal effort from your child.

The first part of every lesson is to demonstrate the movements using word cues.The student then practices the movements using air writing, using the chants to develop a pattern of movement. The child is then ready to use the finger-tracing method to practice on paper. After the child is comfortable with these steps, it’s time for them to put what they’ve learned into practice by writing the letters as they say the movements.

I have noticed a HUGE difference when my son uses the word cues as he is practicing his writing. It helps him to focus on making the proper movements at the right times and to place his letters correctly on the guidelines.

I think it is pretty obvious to you at this point that we really enjoyed using this program, and it has made a huge difference in our homeschool. I just wish we had known about it sooner! Here’s the part where I share with you all the details of the program, and where you can get it for your kids:
  • Products Received for Review: PDH Print Steps 1, 2, & 3 (in PDF format)
  • Cost of product: Each individual “Step” is sold for $19.95
  • Format: Full color – Non-consumable PDF files
  • Skills covered: The program goes through 3 stages including print, slanted print, and cursive
  • Age range: K thru Adult
Other products available from Peterson Directed Handwriting are:
  • PDF by Hand E-workbooks (these utilize a graphic tablet and the computer)
  • Print workbooks
  • Position guides, pencils grips, triangular pencils
  • and much more!
I hope that if you have a child that is struggling with legible penmanship, you will check out this great program, it certainly worked for us!
Happy Homeschooling!

DISCLAIMER: This item was provided free for review purposes through the TOS Homeschool Crew.  I received no other compensation, and this review is our honest opinion.  Click the TOS Homeschool Crew banner above to read more reviews on this and other products by other Crew members.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Weekly Wrap up – Week 5

image Let me start this weekly wrap-up by saying this was a tough week. I can’t pinpoint any one reason, I think we are all just itching for our upcoming end-of-term break! It didn’t help that I got sick Friday (stomach bug) and haven’t quite gotten back to normal yet…

This week did, however, have some fun highlights that I am happy to share:

Being that both of the boys are studying plants right now, they were able to collaborate on a science lab this week.

IMG_0426 IMG_0425

Our lab involved germinating bean sprouts and planting them. The above photos were taken after the beans had been wrapped in wet paper towels and stored in a baggie for 24 hours. It’s hard to see, but on some of them, there was evidence of the shells breaking open in order to let the growing sprouts out.

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These photos were taken yesterday before we planted our sprouts in dirt and labeled them to observe over the next week or so. You can see that each bean has a fully formed sprout growing out of it. We did a lima bean, a lentil, and a great northern so we could compare the differences. Now they are in their clear containers. We set them out in front of the patio door for a few hours each day so that they can get the sunlight they need to make food and grow!

Right now, Drew is doing Science the Well-Trained Mind way, utilizing a book called “How Nature Works” and our Usborne Internet-linked Science Encyclopedia. I will be getting a few Apologia books this coming week to try out, and one of them is the Elementary Botany book. So we are excited to try it out! Isaiah is using the “Great Science Adventures” books to do Biology this year. I had never heard of these, but they were recommended via TWTM, and once I saw that they incorporated Dinah Zike’s foldables, I was sold! This past week was his first week, and he really seems to be enjoying it so far. Next week I will show you some pictures of the minibooks he has been working on.

Jazz had a bit of a slow paced week, as I had found some things that she needed some extra help with as I was grading her work last weekend. So we took some time to do some extra practice with divisibility in Math and did some extra sentence diagramming worksheets. I tried to find some fun, different ways to review these things, but sometimes you just need to practice, practice, practice!

Joey has been really good this past week and I think he is starting to adjust better to entertaining himself while we are getting schoolwork done. Daddy was home on Wednesday and Thursday, as usual, and brought some laughter to our evenings…

IMG_0423 IMG_0428 Friday, we didn’t do school because I was miserably sick. I am still fighting off a mean stomach bug and I’m hoping by tomorrow I will be back to normal. Luckily, no one else has shown any signs of getting sick, so here’s hoping!

See you next week!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up (our first 3 weeks)


It’s Thursday evening here, and man I am SO glad tomorrow is Friday! I haven’t posted any updates yet to share how the new school year is going because I have been so busy and just plain worn out!

I am amazed at the difference one more student in our homeschool makes. The fact that she is almost a high-schooler and has never been homeschooled makes things that much more interesting (and challenging). But I’ll share more about that later.

In the hustle and bustle of getting adjusted to new curriculums and new ways of doing things, we haven’t been able to enjoy a whole lot of the “fun stuff” I always try to incorporate into our days. The few projects we have attempted failed miserably. For example, our ming bowls…

Although the kids did a very good job molding them and thoroughly enjoyed the process, the clay we used shrank up while drying. This resulted in a few cracks. Ok, I thought, no big deal. We can use fresh clay to patch them up! Then this curious little monkey came along…

IMG_0328Since we had our projects drying on the table, right at his eye level, he just couldn’t resist touching. Long story short, the cracks became complete breaks that were beyond repair :( We had planned on redoing them, but we just didn’t have the time. Which brought a thought to mind: We definitely need a high up, out of reach shelf hanging on the wall to keep things like this safe from exploring hands. The kids were pretty bummed we didn’t even get a chance to paint and glaze our creations.

One fun activity we did get to complete was trying to reproduce different forms of Chinese pictograms. The kids each chose 3 characters and painted both the early and modern forms on page.

Now I think it would be nice to share a little bit about each of the kids’ studies and how they are doing so far.

Isaiah – 8

Isaiah has gotten to the point with his reading where he is hitting a wall, actually it’s more like a plateau. So we have been doing things other than our BJU Phonics and Reading 1 program. the first new thing we are trying is ETC Online. This is working out pretty well, and I am seeing improvement with his basic phonics skills. The second part of our new approach is using Rocket Phonics. At the HOTM conference last week, Dr. Guffanti (the creator of Rocket Phonics) shared a lot of great info about Kinethetic learners, and I got to ask him some questions about reading. So after listening to him talk about incorporating games and motion into your curriculum, especially when a subject is tough for the child in question, I decided to give it a try. So we started working through the lessons and games in Rocket Phonics this past Monday. So far, we are mostly reviewing the skills he has already learned. But he is really enjoying it and is able to actually sit and “do” reading for about 30-40 minute sessions daily without losing focus or getting frustrated. I think we have a winner! Isaiah is doing a lot more things on the computer now as part of my attempt to make his learning more engaging and exciting.

Drew – 10

Speaking of reading, I’m just dying to share a little Mommy brag. Drew has always been a pretty strong reader, but has never really enjoyed the process of reading. I have purchased any number of highly recommended books for boys his age, but none of them have really produced the enthusiasm I have been working for. The other day we went to the bookstore and I allowed the boys to choose a book. Drew recently read a few superman comics, graphic novels actually, and kept bringing me these $20 books. Of course, I was not planning on buying him a $20 book, so we went over to the young reader’s section. I happened to see the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, which I have heard lots of good things about. I talked him into it and we left to go get dinner.

This child read the book through dinner, on the way home, and for an hour after we got home! He kept giggling and rereading parts to me and his brother. He went to bed soon after, and I looked where he had placed his bookmark – he had read 65pp in just a few hours!! he read more today and is now over halfway through the book. It was a beautiful sight to come downstairs after waking up this morning to see both my boys, not vegging on the couch watching cartoons, but READING!! I am LOVING it!

Besides the reading progress, we have also changed latin programs for Drew. I realized, halfway through level 2 of Latin’s Not So Tough, that it was teaching him whole-to-parts latin instead of the parts-to-whole that the WTM recommends. So, we are now doing the Big Book of Lively Latin, and though it has been a bit more challenging for him, we are both learning way more from one week of this program than we did in 2 months of doing the previous program.

Drew is also really enjoying doing Logic stage Biology ala TWTM. He has not complained once about a single Science assignment, even when he is required to read and outline (he dictates, I type or write) from the Usborne IL Science Encyclopedia. I was worried about that being too challenging of a read for him, but he is grasping the material beautifully this far!

Jasmine – 13

Overall, Jasmine is doing well. We are having some issues with breaking some of her public-school, one in a classroom of 30 students mentality. She has shown at times that if something is too hard or takes too long, she won’t finish it. She has had a few days where she has had double assignments in a subject because she neglected to finish the work on the day it was originally assigned.

She does, however, take great notes for her notebooking pages in History, although I think we are going to be working on learning some outlining skills as I think she is being a bit too thorough and missing some of the key information. My goal is for her notes/outlines to be all she needs in order to study for an evaluation at the end of a week or a chapter. So far, she hasn’t done well on tests.

She has really been enjoying doing the transparencies for her TOG atlas assignments, though I am disappointed that she isn’t enjoying doing her timeline activities more. I am hoping this will change as she continues to adjust to homeschooling. Her writing thus far has been really good, and though she needs to hone her grammatical skills, her creativity is inspiring. She does a great job of getting her thoughts down onto the paper.

We also started our formal Latin and Logic studies this week, using materials from Classical Academic Press: Latin Alive level 1 and The Art of Argument. She seems to be enjoying these and while the Latin is pretty intense, between it and Lively Latin, Mom is getting a crash course! We are still wading through the introductory material from AofA, but she seems very pumped about learning how to argue logically and identify fallacies. I am really glad we are going through this program together, cause I have a feeling she is going to be pointing out the shaky arguments of everyone in the house. I will be prepared!! LOL

So I hope that gives you a decent idea of what’s been going on the past few weeks around here. As for me, this post has taken much longer to write than I had anticipated, and it’s now very much past my bedtime! I hope you had a great week and an even better weekend…



Thursday, August 19, 2010

Central Indiana Kroger Deals (8/19 through 8/25)

I have been compiling these lists for my own use for quite some time now, and I have had a few friends and family ask me about them, so I thought others may get use from them and save a little time to boot!

Please comment below if you find any of the links not working or any errors in my list. ALso, if you find additional Q’s, PLEASE comment!

Kroger Deals 8.18.2010 - Central IN -



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Get Organized with Ease! 2010 Schoolhouse Planner :)


No matter what kind of homeschooler you are, there’s a LOT to love about the all new 2010 Schoolhouse planner! It’s big, it’s beautiful, and best of all, it’s bound to bless you and your family every day as you utilize any number of the 600+ pages in this awesome resource. Yep, you heard me right, over 600 pages chock full of household and homeschool helps, recipes, articles, lists, and ideas to encourage and inspire every homeschool mom and family! Just take a look at some of the awesome pages from this how-did-I-ever-live-without-it planner…


Like the previous years’ editions of the Schoolhouse Planner you will find all these wonderful bits and pieces:

Calendar pages for 2010-2013
84 recipes
24 articles (that’s 2 per month)
24 must-know lists + those from previous years
High school transcript forms
Party planning form
Multi-age journaling and nature journal pages
Weekly and daily schedules
Co-op planning forms
Assignment and attendance charts
Book report forms, including elementary pages
Grocery and menu planners
Schedules for any number of children
Alphabet writing charts for copywork—print, cursive, and italic
Website login/password reference sheet
Bible study notes
Budget records
Christmas card list
Home care and maintenance forms
Alphabetized address list
Schoolhouse Store resource lists
Science lab sheet
Twelve-year planning pages
High school hours tracking log
Books read this year
Extracurricular activities log
Unit study form
Report cards

AND the best part is that you are not limited to simply printing off the pages and filling them in with your trusty pen or pencil. Oh no, this planner is in TYPEABLE PDF format! That means that you can customize each and every form before you print them off, and the printed pages will appear as though they were designed specifically for you.

In addition to the above list, this year’s planner also includes some brand new features that you’ll be sure to love…

  • Another daily planning page with customizable dates across the top and subjects down the left side.
  • An additional week at a glance form—choose the form best suited for your needs.
  • A marking period planner using six, 6-week periods with space for all subjects.
  • A quarter planner based on four, 9-week quarters—a great fit for your homeschool.
  • Homeschool requirements form lets you track laws or better prepare for a move.
  • Forms to track unfinished units as well as a unit study brainstorming template!
  • Testing forms now cover recording standardized testing and yearly assessments.
  • Bible reading takes on new meaning with the new Bible reading highlights form.
  • Another Bible reading schedule—this time enjoy the option of a chronological form!
  • Even pages to record instrument practice and extracurricular activities are here.


This is definitely an all-in-one organizational resource. Not only does this nifty planner include forms and references for every educational need, it has all your household details covered as well!

-Stay focused on high-priority tasks with a new daily to-do list!
-Keep from losing track of “one of these days” thoughts—record them!
-Expand on the schedule charts with a chore reminder form, another helpful tool.
-Plan crafts easily, note cost of supplies and more with the craft planning form.
-Schedule television viewing with a TV show reminder list—never flip channels again!
-Track important information with the computer information to remember form.
-Record all important car information to remember on a form for each car—easily.
-Gather homeschool research and ancestry records with the family tree form!


There isn’t anything that this planner doesn’t have. To get yours, for a super low price of $39, simply visit the Schoolhouse Store and place your order. As soon as you do, you will receive an instant download link and you can start using your planner immediately!

Happy Organizing!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

I won an award!!

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Yay! My first ever blog award!! A fellow Homeschool Crew member was kind enough to choose my blog as one of the recipients. Thank You so much Cow Queen! Please take a moment to visit her blog and say hello?

As a recipient of this award, I have been asked to:

1. Thank the one who gave it to you and link to their blog.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

3. Choose seven others to bless with the award and let them know they've won an award.

So here are seven interesting (I hope) things about me I would like to share:

  1. I have zero artistic ability. This makes me very anxious about teaching formal art to my children, therefore, I have neglected to do much besides craftsy type things with them. But this year we are trying something new! We are going to go through the lessons in “The Phonics of Drawing” together. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up finding my inner artist!
  2. The most recent book I finished is called “The Invisible Woman” by Nicole Johnson. It was gifted to me by a very kind fellow momma who attended the last AWI online conference with me. I loved it, it was a very quick read, and I HIGHLY recommend it to any mom who sometimes feels unappreciated.
  3. Homeschooling High School scares the dickens out of me.
  4. I can’t wait until my 8 year old son is reading more fluently, that way I don’t have to read EVERY SINGLE INSTRUCTION on EVERY SINGLE WORKSHEET he is assigned to do! Is that selfish?
  5. I am a chronic projects starter, but I don’t always finish :(
  6. I used to write poetry. A lot of poetry, every day. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem…
  7. My favorite movie (movies actually) would have to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have the boxed extended editions and have watched them back to back more times than I can count.

And now it’s time for the really fun part! I get to pass this award on to a few fellow blogs that I really enjoy reading! And the winners are (drum roll please)

  1. Amy @ Counting Change Again
  2. Julie @ My Elastic Life
  3. Jolanthe @ Homeschool Creations
  4. Heather @ Special Needs Homeschooling
  5. Mom’n’More @ Itsy Bitsy Learning
  6. Nikowa @ Adventures of a Quirky Mom
  7. Renae @ Life Nurturing Education

I will be sending you all an email to let you know you’ve won!

Thanks again Cow Queen!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back to School Deals


Ok, honestly, what homeschool mom doesn’t love school supplies? I personally get giddy when I see Crayola crayons and spiral notebooks for less than a quarter. Since it IS that time of year, I figured those of you who like to take advantage of all the awesome back to school sales would benefit from a great list of sale highlights, compiled by Tara at Deal Seeking Mom.

Happy Stockpiling!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

God Has Other Plans…

I have been thinking about writing this post for a week now, and it’s just not something I have been wanting to do. But seeing as how there have been so many of you visit my blog and share your well wishes and prayers, I feel it is important to let you know what’s happened…

On Thursday, July 22nd, we learned that we had lost our baby. I had a routine OB appointment, and was scheduled for an ultrasound to check up on the Sub chorionic Hemorrhage and to see if there was one baby or two. The first thing the midwife did was check for a fetal heartbeat via doppler. She tried for 5 minutes and couldn’t find it. We then had an agonizing one hour wait before we could see the us tech. I was trying so hard not to be dismal, but I just knew that something was very wrong.

The ultrasound showed no baby, no sac, nothing. Just my empty uterus :( Apparently sometime during my heavy bleeding, I miscarried. I was very watchful during that time, and I hadn’t noticed anything, so I had no idea. I did find it strange that I wasn’t really having many pregnancy symptoms, but I just figured that would catch up to me in my second trimester.

But alas, that is not to be. We have accepted our loss (as we are painfully aware that these things happen) and are going forward with life. We are very saddened by our loss, but we are taking comfort in the knowledge that God is in control and He knows what is best for our family. We completely trust Him and He has given us peace about the situation. The timing of this pregnancy was not the best, and we are trying to focus on knowing that when we do get pregnant again, we will hopefully be in a much more settled environment.

We have decided that once we get settled into the Army life and we have good health coverage, we are going to see about getting a full panel done to see exactly why I have continued to have issues maintaining pregnancies.

I am focusing my time and energy on loving and nourishing the four beautiful children God has already entrusted me with. I am so thankful to have each of them, especially in the light of recent events. They are all miracles in my eyes and we are so blessed to have them! I thank God everyday that He gave them to us.

I am sorry this news was so delayed, I am sure you understand how hard the past few weeks have been for us. I am so thankful for each and every prayer and well-wishes that you, my readers and my friends, have shared over the past month. I am deeply touched that you have kept my family in your thoughts.



Monday, August 2, 2010

NOT Back to School Blog Hop – Curriculum Week


I am SO glad that HOTM brought back this blog hop, it was so much fun last year to see everyone’s posts and get to know them better! This week starts week 1 of the blog hop, which is curriculum week. This is pretty good timing for me, as I just finished choosing the rest of my daughter’s books for the year.

What’s that I said? Daughter?! YUP, It seems that we are adding a third student to our little homeschool this year, my 13yo stepdaughter is joining the fun! She will be doing 8th grade, but we are treating this year as a transition year for her and we are focusing on filling any gaps she may have from struggling in public school the past few years.

Since she is the oldest, we will start with her!

Jasmine – 13 – 8th grade

  • Math – Saxon 8/7
  • English – Rod & Staff English 6
  • Literature, History, Geography, Religion, Writing – TOG Y1 Dialectic
  • Science – BJU Space & Earth Science 8
  • Latin – Galore Park Latin Prep 1
  • Logic – Critical Thinking Book 1 & 2
  • Spelling – Spelling Power
  • Vocabulary – Wordly Wise (2 books a year)

Drew – 10 – 4/5th grades

Note: Drew is in some 4th grade work still, we are working on getting him caught up this year. He struggled a bit last year, but he is really taking off now! I try not to put too much emphasis on the grade levels of texts we use, especially since many of the programs we use are advanced compared to the typical public school equivalents.

  • Math – Saxon 5/4
  • English – Rod & Staff 4
  • Literature, History, Geography. Religion, Writing – TOG Y1 UG
  • Science – Logic stage Biology ala The Well Trained Mind
  • Latin – Latin’s Not So Tough Levels 2-4
  • Logic – Building Thinking Skills Level 1
  • Spelling – Spelling Power
  • Reading – BJU Reading 4
  • Vocabulary – Wordly Wise (2 books a year)
  • Penmanship – HWT Cursive Success

Isaiah – 8 – 2nd grade

  • Math – finish BJU Math 2 and start Math 3
  • English – Easy Grammar 2
  • Literature, History, Geography, Religion – TOG Y1 LG
  • Science – Time4Learning
  • Spelling – All About Spelling Levels 1-2
  • Phonics – Finish 2nd half of BJU Phonics 1
  • Reading – Finish 2nd half of BJU Reading 1 and start BJU Reading 2
  • Penmanship – Peterson Directed Handwriting (current review)

And of course, we will be trying lots of great new products out in our homeschool thanks to the TOS Homeschool Crew. Which means that this “iron clad” plan (ha!) will probably go through various changes as the year goes on. But then again, when do I ever stick to my original plan?

Make sure to check out the other participant’s blog hop posts here, and don’t forget to join the hop yourself, too!



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