Originally Sent: 5/15/2014
May 15, 2014
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Cool Stuff I Found at
I love homeschool conventions! The leaders of your state or regional homeschool organization plan and work year-round to bring you speakers and exhibitors to inspire, equip, and encourage you in the homeschool journey. Not only do the speakers spark (or renew) the vision for strong families and home discipleship and education, but the exhibitors also minister to parents’ need for encouragement, and they provide tools for teaching.
This month, let me share with you some of the interesting tools I’ve found in the exhibit halls I’ve had the privilege to visit so far this spring. Let it suffice to say that my youngest child is 25, and I’ve still managed to spend more than $250 (so far) this year at homeschool conventions! Here are some nifty products and companies you might want to check out:
Picture This! The PictureSmart Bible has revised its reproducible pages for use by families or co-ops (or home Bible studies). This multi-level resource introduces a basic overview of each book of the Bible in a way that is engaging for all ages. (I bought both the book and the CD version.) Draw your way through the Bible! For preschool through adult. New this year: Supplemental pages for K-3rd, and a three-book Learning the Word for Life series aimed at upper elementary through adult.
In the Victory Camp game by Victory Kreations, camping provides the context for developing character qualities such as compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, patience, and forgiveness. Designed for ages 5 and up, the game also includes a set of cards and instructions for non-readers, as well as the standard reader pack. And I love that it is printed on a vinyl banner fabric (no more cracked game boards!) and packs up into a camp backpack. (They don’t yet have a website, but you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-816-8653.)
HeartBinders Bible memory lessons for preschool through middle school. Your little one can memorize Psalm 91 in NKJV with visual aids, and your elementary student can learn the same psalm in Hebrew!
Scripture Memory Fellowship—Value-priced materials in KJV or NKJV
Songschool Latin with CD introduces children in primary grades to Latin in a fun, engaging manner. (This book made me want to learn Latin!) Classical Academic Press also offers other levels of Latin, as well as Greek, Spanish, and other classical subjects.
Tell Me More from Auralog—foreign language programs for ages 11+
Fun & Games for Families
See the Victory Camp game listed under Character (above).
Simply Fun—Learn and connect through play. A few of my favorites are Clover Leap (strategy and parts of speech), Share a Berry, and Are We There Yet? (As you might guess, it’s a travel game for kids!)
Bring that “Are We There Yet?” game (above) with you on your road trips using Michele Zavatsky’s travel publications as your guide!
15 Minutes Outside (365 ways to get out of the house and connect with your kids) by Rebecca P. Cohen—Everything from making a cabin-fever-prevention kit to hula hoop games and leaf tic-tac-toe. Families get so busy, sometimes our main outside-together time is just getting to and from the car—so Rebecca has 365 suggestions to help us make outdoor time more purposeful.
In Carol Barnier’s book, The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles, she highlights many of the non-traditional methods she used to teach her son to remember things, including games and ditties. So I was tickled to find Ditty Bugs, Carol’s CD of “50 powerful memory rhymes that will lock in learning for your students.” The disc includes both CD and mp3 formats, as well as printable text.
Nature’s Workshop Plus has all the wacky science gizmos that my husband loves to play with! Fun science for kids of all ages. Their Thinking Putty (great for tactile learners and wiggly kiddos) and Speed Stacks game are on my wish list.
I know a lot of kids who would be fascinated by Crime Scene Investigation Science, by Pam Walker and Elaine Wood (two levels: elementary or 6th-12th).
Creation.com offers “Homeschool Corner” and has more than 7,000 free articles available online.
Creation Studies has some nifty science guides for 3rd-6th grade (younger if you read it to them); titles include physical science, chemistry, earth science, and physics.
Ring of Fire Science has teaching guides and activity guides for hands-on studies of earth science, especially geology, from a Christian perspective.
Mission Imperative’s Live Seminar Series had so many wonderful choices, it was hard to narrow my options, but I came home with Mike Snavely’s The Mystery of the Dinosaurs (a biblical perspective on these amazing creatures).
Various Teaching Approaches
Moving Beyond the Page—Tools for gifted learners from K to 7th grade.
BiblioPlan—History-based units, easily adapted for use in co-ops. Uses Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World series.
Homeschool Legacy is a series of once-a-week unit studies, each outlined for you and designed to last 4-6 weeks; multi-level plans are included.
Learning Adventures chronological unit study guides (history based) for grades 4-8 (adaptable for K-3rd using optional supplements); lessons are planned for you and include all subjects but math.
My Father’s World has revised several of their grade levels, updating the formats and making the materials even more user friendly. The kindergarten and 1st grade packages looked so appealing, and the literature collections were hard to resist! MFW has also added a $24.95 guide for “synergy groups”—or co-ops of MFW families. The simple manual highlights activities from each week’s lesson plan that would lend themselves to group use (and the good news is that those items then come straight off your plate in your weekly lesson plans!).
Joyce Herzog has not only revised her popular Choosing and Using Curriculum (which includes a comparison of seven different reading approaches and the pros/cons of each for various types of learners), but she has some nifty tools for learning. Her Early Learning System includes hands-on, manipulative-based mental exercises to encourage thinking skills using large muscle activities, art, drama, and games. See her math materials, below.
Character Concepts for Preschoolers by Marilyn Boyer of The Learning Parent helps children learn to apply 12 character qualities in their own lives. My 3-year-old granddaughter loved me to pull this out when she came to visit! Buy the Mom’s Guide separately or in one of the kit options.
Sonbeams is a Bible-based preschool program.
Busy moms will appreciate Ready-Made Preschool, with two levels of hands-on activities for preschoolers: Level 1 for younger preschoolers and Level 2 for 4- or 5-year-olds. Materials for these literature-based packages come pre-cut and prepped and may be purchased for a full year or in ten-week increments.
You probably already know Crown Financial Ministries for its stewardship resources for adults, but did you know they have materials for ages 5-7 (The ABC’s of Handling Money God’s Way) and ages 8-12 (The Secret of Handling Money God’s Way), each with a central story focusing on stewardship?
My Box of Ten is truly manipulative based; the activities and manipulatives are the lessons. First of a hands-on math series from Joyce Herzog; preschool through multiplication (about grade 2 or 3).
RightStart Math—Math for preschool through middle school; manipulative-based for concrete learning to encourage mathematical thinking.
Life of Fred—Practical math for middle school and higher; available from Queen Homeschool.
The Academy of Arts Ministries brings a one-week drama camp to you! You provide the venue and the students; they provide the props, costumes, training and direction to put on two productions by the end of the week. (For elementary through high school.)
The Struggling Reader includes diagnostic inventories to help pinpoint weaknesses
Language Lessons (for little ones through high school) from Sandi Queen; follows a Charlotte Mason approach to language arts.
Here to Help Learning is a professionally produced, fun, interactive web-based membership service to teach writing, focusing on communication that brings honor to God. A low monthly fee per family (under $7) gives all the students access to this mom-friendly service (six years of lessons, culminating in writing a book).
Notgrass Company’s Uncle Sam and You is a civics course for grades 5 to 8. Their unit studies include Celebrate Thanksgiving, Celebrate the Savior, and The Olympics. Their Draw to Learn series is for all ages.
Queen Homeschool’s Learning History through Living Books series is just one of the Charlotte-Mason-style materials available from this comprehensive publisher.
Diana Waring has not only revised her family-friendly history series, she has added elementary—age supplements and the Experience History through Music series.
Geography Matters offers Trail Guide to Learning unit studies (includes all but math)—Paths of Exploration and the new Paths of Settlement units for various ages; includes study of primary source documents, biographies, and more. Also caught my eye: Galloping the Globe (ages K-4th) and Cantering the Country (1st-6th).
In the Soldiering through History series (DVDs with study guides), students from 6th to 12th grade learn about the lives of soldiers in the context of their historical time periods (could be appropriate for younger students with interest). The 30-minute videos are professionally produced by a homeschool family with a focus on family-friendly content, with the feel of a history re-enactment.
The Family Hope Center offers a seven-DVD workshop on how to assess your children, springboarding from Family Hope’s unique integrative and developmental progression chart. For families needing more personalized help, they offer a three-day intensive parent training conference. I picked up a copy of their DVD, Understanding Child Brain Development (produced in collaboration with IEW, The Institute for Excellence in Writing), as well as a DVD to share with parents of children with special needs (DVD available in six languages).
SewTeachMe.com offers eight different modules in kit form or on CD for teaching sewing skills to all levels.
Heritage Makers offers a digital scrapbooking club to help you design your portfolio or family yearbook, to make a family storybook your children will want to read over and over again!
Etiquette Factory helps kids of all ages-from preschool manners to getting along with your college roomie!
At HomeschoolWorks4U.com, their learning specialist helps parents with diagnostic testing as well as with visualizing and verbalizing, especially for children with special needs. Target age range is 5th to 12th grades.
Bethany Christian Services offers specialized therapy for pre- and post-adopted children in distress, as well as for adoptive families (and of course, other adoption resources).
As you browse your local convention hall, jot down a few of your favorites and let me know what you liked and why. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!
Wishing you vision and inspiration,
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant
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