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Winter Reading Ideas, Memorization Tip, Homeschooling Cheaply

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, December 09, 2005

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 6 No 48 December 9, 2005
ISSN: 1536-2035 Circulation 22256
Copyright (c) 2005 Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend --
We all need to be helping each other with our homeschooling!

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Notes from Heather:
-- Winter Reading
Helpful Tips
-- Easy Memorization
Question of the Week:
-- Your Questions
Reader's Response
-- Your Answers
Heather's Picks
-- Narnia Unit Studies
-- Subscriber Information
-- Sponsorship Information


As the snows move in on us in Michigan today, my first instinct is to
snuggle down under the covers and pretend it is my day off. But,
alas, I need to finish this article and then go open my bookstore and
continue to pack and ship Christmas orders for our main audio series
"Sugar Creek Gang". I can't seem to get the CDs and cassettes into
the album cases quick enough this year! I should be rejoicing! But
sometimes at this season all I can say is "Bah, humbug".

As a working mom, my heart is always at home. Especially at this
time of year I would rather be home continually with my children
doing all those extra-special activities like baking and making home-
made gifts. I never seem to get there!

This year, however, I am resolving to make time for my favorite
activity -- reading aloud to my boys in the evening. Winter is always
my favorite season for reading together because we can hunker down
in blankets and sit together around the woodstove. When we moved
out to the country in 1999, we invested in a wood burning stove. I
had all these romantic ideas about chickens and goats and burning
our own chopped wood! Only the stove remains. But the one we
bought has a glass door so we can view the fire and I love to sit and
watch it. It is the best practical investment I've ever pushed for!

A few years ago we snuggled on a cold, snow-covered night reading
"The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I highly recommend read-
ing this one in the winter! We lived through the long days of twisting
hay and the shorts bursts of life-giving warmth derived from the
quickly burning bundles. The intense heat of the previous summer,
when father and daughter had harvested the hay into stacks, was
long forgotten. It is a book that made us thankful for our lives of ease
but also created in my boys a desire for the character of fortitude and
the excitement of survival. If you can make the time, try this read
aloud for all ages!

Here are some other books I recommend for reading aloud -- for both
boys and girls:

Born to Trot by Marguerite Henry (a book within a book!)
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield
The Good Master (and The Singing Tree) by Kate Seredy
Freddy the Detective (and other "Freddy" books) by Walter Brooks
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Especially for winter:

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan (true WWII resistance story)

And a few good ones my husband suggested for Christmas:

The Gift of the Magi (a short story by O. Henry)
The Story of the Other Wiseman by Henry Van Dyke

Most of these books should be easy to find at a local library. I sell a
few of them for 1/2 price with any audio purchase at my online store:


Do you have a favorite read-aloud recommendation? Please share!
Send your ideas to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Does your family make home-made gifts to give during the holidays?
Please share! Send your ideas to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net



[Here's your chance! Send YOUR ideas along to

This week's helpful tip is from Lisa Preston of

A Memorization Tip!

How would you like to memorize phone numbers in 8 seconds and
recall them weeks later? A month ago I was at a play and saw an
advertisement for an alto saxophone. I didn't have my purse at the
time, so I put this memory tip to use. I can still remember the

It takes just a few seconds of concentration. Close your eyes and
imagine a blank screen in front of you. Then take an imaginary mar-
ker and write the number in the top left hand corner of the screen.
Look at the number in your mind (make sure it's in the top left hand
corner). Say it to yourself.

That's it. After a few times you'll become a pro at this technique. At
night when I am reading a book, I use this tip to help me remember
what page I'm on. Even if I don't come back to the book for several
days, I just close my eyes and see the page number on my brain

Your child can utilize this tip when memorizing math facts. Trouble-
some spelling words can be learned this way as well.

This memory technique comes from researchers in neuro-linguistic
programming. These folks have tracked eye movement and recall,
and have found that when trying to remember details, people look
to the top left.


Have you a question for our readers to help answer?
Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if a wise subscriber can't help you out.

This Week's NEW Question

I am looking for information regarding using tutoring services to home
school my 11 year old special needs daughter. She has ADHD and
Central Auditiory Processing Disorder and would really benefit from
one-on-one instruction, but I do not think that I am the person for the
job. Has anyone done this successfully? -- Linda G.


Do you have an answer for our reader?
Send your responses to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Last Week's Question

I have been seriously thinking of homeschooling my 11 year old
daughter. Our public school system is in the middle of a strike
and I have kept her home due to the unsafe situation. I am
wondering how to get started and where I might be able to find free
or inexpensive curriculum. I am a stay at home mom and cannot
afford to fork out hundreds right now due to my husband's job being
downsized. I appreciate any helpful hints. -- Michelle in Ohio

Your Responses

[NOTE: My publication of these responses does not necessarily
mean that I endorse a product, activity, or suggestion.]


Each year, we review what we've spent on our homeschooling
supplies and what was most effective. When we started home-
schooling as a family, I was so focused on the cost that I wasted
money on materials that were cheaper, but we didn't use. I failed to
consider what my three boys would (#1) use and (#2) help them
learn and (#3) enjoy the process of learning. A great resource we
use year round is www.HomeworkHelpTonight.com. If you select
the grades you need and the subject, you'll get a comprehensive
list of what's out there and roughly what they cost! I feel in charge
of my children's education and staying in our budget. We use a
combination of free website learning tools, books, field trips and
some online educational resources that we pay monthly. It seems
to be working great. -- Joanne


I have been homeschooling for only 4 years, but I've found some
ways to cut expenses. The internet is a great resource. I use the
book "Homeschooling Your Child for Free". I picked it up at
Amazon.com. Also, your local library is a good place. We read
aloud books and then use internet resources to make it into a unit
study. Look into your local 4-H program. Ours publishes workbooks
on every project they offer - gardening, computers, childcare- these
are very reasonably priced. Our local homeschool oranization has a
textbook exchange every year. Get to know other homeschooling
families, this is the best piece of advice I can offer. -- Rhonda


I just came across a resource called virtual homeschool international.
It provides all you will need as long as you have a computer. They
only charge $15 a year for your whole family.

The website is: www.vhomeschool.net/mambo/


AmblesideOnline.org offers a free Charlotte Mason curriculum
online, you would need to buy math etc... but this uses real books
for the curriculum, many of which you could find at the library or a
used book store. Also some of the books are online free of charge.
An explanation of the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling is
free on the site also. -- Cheryl


With internet access and a public library, you can homeschool with
very little money, but you do need to invest your time.
MathFacts.com will allow you to print off worksheets and answer
keys at no charge. Libraries have great Kitchen Chemistry Science
books to check out and Robert Krampf (online) will send a weekly
science experiment at no-charge. Reading is always great and
writing about what is read (or questions you ask) gives practice in
writing and penmanship. A lot of the homeschool sites have great
unit studies ideas for language and history using just your library
and a notebook. Check homeschooling with notebooks. There is
a wealth of information out there for homeschooling on a budget
(most of us do). -- Lucinda


One of the very best things I did as a homeschooling mom was to
get a subscription to www.edhelper.com It was well worth the $40 I
spent on it. It is only $20 for either grades pre-k thru 8 or $20 for
9-12. I got both together as I have kids in 2nd, 3rd, 8th and 11th
grades. I loved how it has spelling words and worksheets, vocabu-
lary, math worksheets, history, science all kinds of worksheets.
Saved me from buying lots of workbooks. The money I saved I
spent on getting extra ink for my printer. -- Lisa M. in Maryland


I am new to homeschooling. This is my first year. I would suggest
going online and inquiring for any free programs. I did and found 2.
One of which 3 families that I know of participate and they recieved
free computers for the children to use and free textbooks and a
teacher that is available for them to reach in case of questions etc.
We didn't know about this option until after we paid for a home-
schooling program. So, there are free programs available. You just
have to find them. -- Linda


Other suggestions received included:

Libraries and library book sales - www.booksalefinder.com
4-H Clubs, scouting, LEAH groups
Homeschool co-op classes
EasyFunSchool.com - free unit studies!
Thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army
Educational DVDs like "Standard Deviants" from NetFlix.com
Volunteering at a food pantry (math, inventory, compassion!)
"Teen Court" and "Student Statesmanship Institute"
Friends and relatives with specialized skills - apprenticeships

Thanks to everyone for your input!


Today is the opening day for the new Chronicles of Narnia movie,
"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Have you read the book
or will you be seeing the movie? Here are some unit study ideas
to incorporate into your schooling:

EasyFunSchool.com's mini unit:

Old Schoolhouse Magazine's unit study:


There are opportunities for you to be a sponsor of this
newsletter. If you are interested, drop an e-mail to
marketing@stretcher.com with "Homeschoolers-Notebook"
as the subject. We'll send you some information on how to
be a part of this ministry!


All contributed articles are printed with the author's prior
consent. It is assumed that any questions, tips or replies to
questions may be reprinted. All letters become the property of
the "Homeschooler's Notebook". [Occasionally your contribution
may have to be edited for space.]

Again, I welcome you to the group! Feel free to send any
contributions to HN-articles@familyclassroom.net or

You can also find helpful links at our website:

And more great resources and links at Lynn Hogan's original site:


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Next - Homemade Ideas, A Gift for Baking, Tutoring for a Season
Previous - 'Real Life' Relaxing, Chronic Illness, Tea Time!

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