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Leaving the States - What Necessities to Bring?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, February 02, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 9 February 2, 2009
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2009 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible.




Notes from Heather
-- New Newsletter Team!
Helpful Tip
-- Homeschooling with ADD
Resource Review
-- Igniting Your Writing
Reader Question
-- What to Take Overseas?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Changes for the Homeschooler's Notebook Ezine

I have some exciting news! As of January 1st our Homeschooler's
Notebook newsletter has partnered with 'The Homeschool Mom' family
of websites and newsletters -- to bring you even more great

You can sign-up for and manage subscriptions for all 3 of our
newsletters here: http://thehomeschoolmom.com/

Also - help us spread the word!

If you know a business interested in reaching the homeschooling
community through our readership of close to 15,000 subscribers,
please direct them to our new site for advertising information:


Thank you for your support and encouragement. :-)

-- Heather


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net


"Two years ago I learned about FULL YEAR NOTEBOOKS and it has
changed the way I schedule homeschooling. I plan each child's work
for a year at a time and they each have a notebook with their lessons.
It takes me a lot of time during our off months to do the planning,
but it frees up more time for me during the school year because my
planning is already done!"



"I have been homeschooling for 14 years (we are graduating our
first this year) and finally found a system that keeps us organized.
It is called the Full Year Notebook System. The planning part has
helped my children to learn to be more independent and plan their
school time more efficiently. I am no longer having to search
folders, drawers, etc. for completed work. Their daily schedule and
all paperwork they have completed are organized into their notebooks!"

Find out more! http://www.full-year-notebooks.com/


Helpful Tip


Homeschooling ADD Kids - BLOG for tips, methods and conversation
on how to homeschool kids with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
and other learning differences.

"This is a great site for free unit studies for kids. They post
new ones every Monday."


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Igniting Your Writing!
Author: Sandy Larsen
For more information or to order: www.homeschoolwriting.com

In my house we have a love-hate relationship with writing! On
one hand we know how important building good writing skills is
for our kids' futures AND we know how proud they are when they
finally complete an assignment; but on the other hand there's the
long struggle to get it done. Of course, you may have children
for whom writing comes naturally, but who also have occasional
writer's block or just need to liven-up their compositions.
Whatever situation you face in your home, 'Igniting Your Writing!'
can help to bring more joy and inspiration to the writing process.

While not a complete writing course, Igniting Your Writing
provides enough exercises to spread out over one or several years
of instruction. Each of the 24 lessons includes three skill
levels: Start-Up, Intermediate, and Advanced. This means you can
reuse the lessons as your students progress academically over the
years. Instead of assigning grade levels, the author encourages
you to choose one of the three levels based on your young writer's
ability. This also means that you can use this with several
children at the same time - each working at their own ability

Author Sandy Larsen begins the book with clear instructions to
parents/teachers on how to use Igniting Your Writing, providing
suggestions for scheduling and lesson order. The lessons them-
selves are written to the student and are light-hearted, yet
challenging for each skill level. We found ourselves actually
having fun as we read her entertaining examples and came up with
our own fun words, sentences, titles, etc. Lesson objectives and
other teacher helps are provided for each lesson at the end of the
book. Topics covered in 'Igniting Your Writing!' include: word
order, run-on sentences, parts of speech, getting ideas, creating
a character and setting, similes, inferences, descriptive writing,
creating good titles, point of view, dialogue, editing/rewriting
and more. Igniting Your Writing is spiral bound, so it lays flat
for easier reading, and it's non-consumable, too.

I really like Sandy's emphasis on the writing process - the rough
draft, rewriting, editing and final draft. She often has students
do their exercises on scratch paper (paper that is already used
on the other side) so they can learn that editing and rewriting
are important skills for ALL writers. In addition to being a great
supplement to your language arts program, the concepts taught in
Igniting Your Writing can be used and reinforced each time your
child encounters an assignment in other subjects. Most of the
assignments are short, making it easy to add Igniting Your Writing
to your routine once a week, once a month, or however your schedule
allows. The entertaining lessons provide a nice break from more
tedious language art studies.

The ability to communicate effectively is a skill each of our
children will need to possess as they move into adulthood.
'Igniting Your Writing!' is another useful tool to consider adding
to your teaching resources - Sandy's passion for encouraging and
inspiring young writers is evident throughout this helpful (and
lively) course!

-- Cindy Prechtel, http://www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I've got a question, and I'd love some feedback from more
experienced homeschoolers.

We live overseas, though we are currently stateside for a few
more weeks. Our oldest is 4, and I'm excited to start homeschooling
with her sometime in the next few years. This next year, I'm just
going to focus on learning to read in a very laid-back manner -
she's very excited about this, and is showing all the 'signs' that
she's ready to learn to read.

There's a good chance we won't be back in the States for two years.
This means it would help tremendously to pack *now* most everything
we'd need for homeschooling for the next few years. We can receive
mail, but it is very expensive - it's cheaper to pack extra suit-
cases for our flight.

Because we're limited in what we can take, I'm trying to streamline
our supplies as much as possible. There's just so much good stuff
out there! My question is this - What do you recommend we pack
and take with us for about ages 4-6? What's worthy of our precious
luggage space? Because there's so much good stuff online, what
resources would you recommend using instead of traditional curriculum?

Thanks! I really appreciate being given this chance to throw my
question out there." -- Tsh

Our Readers' Responses

"Dear Tsh -- Well I guess that's a loaded question since I would
forego all the clothes to take all my books. But then again, I
love books. You are right, however; there are so many good
curricula out there. My first suggestion is to find out how
your daughter learns. Is she a visual learner (needs to see
things in print), is she a audio learner (learns by listening),
or is she a kinesthetic learner (must use her hands or a hands-on
approach?) I spent so much time and money on the wrong stuff for
my oldest who is a kinesthetic learner. Fortunately for me, I
have the storage space to house it for my younger three who are
each one of the above.

I would suggest investing in some online subscriptions for print-
ables. The two I use the most are from

http://teachervision.fen.com and http://enchantedlearning.com

TeacherVision I believe is $40 for a year, and Enchanted Learning
is $20 for the year. Also, I would do a search on 'Preschool
printables' and when she gets older 'free printables' or 'free
______ (fill in the blank - Math, Science, English, History, etc.)
printables'. Not that you want to bog her down with printables,
but for now it might be the best way to go.

She is still young, so you can really just teach to her interest
for quite awhile. I use the unit study approach, and it works
quite well. However, my unit study approach is just a little
different in that my 13 year old is doing different subjects
than my 8 year old, which is still different than my 3 year old
-- although my 3 year old picked some of the same topics as my 13
and 8 year olds such as Medieval Times and Pirates. Unit studies
seem to work with every learning style also. They can be tailored
to suit all of your needs.

We pray God will keep you safe on your journey. He will meet all
your needs (Philippians 4:19.)" -- Kellie ~ NY


"Dear Tsh -- In 1998, we took our 4 children (aged 5, 8,10, and 14
at the time) to East Africa. Knowing that we would be there for
3-4 years, I also had to be choosy in what home school materials
I packed.Here are some general ideas. First of all, I would
recommend you find out if there are any other homeschooling families
already where you are going. Then ask them what curriculum they
already have that they might not be using at this time and could
lend to you. Ask them (or the American embassy) if there is a
bookstore where you can purchase identification guides to the local
flora, fauna, birds, etc. Hopefully you will be able to use these
guides as a basis for science exploration, writing assignments,
etc. Also ask if there is a library with English reading books
you can check out to supplement your curriculum. If you bring
along a specific math curriculum, you may be able to substitute
local materials (nuts, seeds, rocks) for counting/sorting/etc. I
was glad that I brought along measuring cups and spoons for kitchen
math and science activities because none were to be found in local
shops. I also brought along an inflatable globe (or you could use
a foldable cloth world map). While simple art supplies like glue,
paper and scissors could be found in local shops, I brought along
powdered tempera paint in blue, yellow, red, black and white so
that my kids were able to mix all the other colors they wanted.
For art, I recommend The Lamb's Book of Art by Barry Stebbing. It
covers a wide variety of subjects, takes more than one year to
complete, and can be easily adapted to younger ages. If you bring
along a computer, there are many educational games covering a wide
variety of subjects that will enhance your printed materials. Take
advantage of any local parks or recreational activities that come
your way and make lasting memories of your time overseas. Choose
materials that fit your children's learning styles and that you
enjoy yourself, so that all of you will be motivated to succeed.
God bless your homeschool." -- Rhonda in Florida


"We live in France and we arrived with 4 and 7 year old daughters.
Our youngest is now 6 and is reading fluently. My daughters both
learned to read practically on their own through the exposure of
lots of good read aloud time and conversations about sounds.
However, I wanted to cover the basics in phonics for the future.
I assumed I would be able to structure a relaxed approach to school
via the Internet as it was too expensive to ship curriculum over.
My discovery: putting together a coherent step-by-step plan for
progress can take hours and hours of scouring the Web for good
resources -- plus the time to put it all together.

I wish I had done the following: Find a PHONICS program you like
and buy it (since you are looking ahead, not for right now) along
with the workbooks or whatever. A HANDWRITING program. I would
suggest 'The Complete Book of Handwriting' by American Education
Publishing (McGraw-Hill) as it covers printing and cursive in one
book, with all the practice pages you need.


Handwriting programs requiring further books to continue to the
next level are not practical. A MATH program. No matter how low
key you want to make it, having a good step-by-step program on
hand will save time and stress, and you'll be prepared for your
daughter to advance quickly if that suits her. I recommend the
same 'Complete' books: 'The Complete Book of Math - Grades 1-2'
(don't let the grade put you off - they start at the beginning)


and 'The Complete Book of Math Games':


These workbooks are big, colourful and low-key, but cover all the
concepts. One excellent choice I did make was Ray's arithmetic -
one tiny text --


and the guide to it written by Ruth Beechick:


Very basic, very compact, mostly mental math. Ray's plus the others
are a nicely rounded out curriculum with a mix of manipulative,
mental and work text learning.

I have recommended the 'Complete' books for our situation being
overseas, having limited space, and your daughter's age. So many
curriculums to love out there but not all are PRACTICAL.

Finally: 'The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury'. This is a
MUST HAVE! 40 all-time classic favorites in one book! There is
also an Illustrated Poetry book - get this too.


All the paperback copies of good children's books you can get your
hands on! Check out Heart of Dakota's list of books for 'emergent
readers'; they are all keepers. Bring a nature encyclopedia.

The Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos - soooo good!


Hope this is helpful from one who has been there!" -- Kimberlee


"Tsh, here's my suggested list:

1. Her Bible, not a simplified version. Susannah Wesley taught all
of her 17 children to read using the King James Bible, starting
with Genesis 1.

2. A good assortment of quality literature from places such as
Lamplighter and Beautiful Feet. Take what you can, but you don't
need a huge number of books; you can read them to her at first,
and eventually, she'll enjoy reading them herself over and over.
www.lamplighterpublishing.com and www.bfbooks.com

3. Some art and craft supplies. Some can be reusable, such as
modeling clay or wikki sticks, but also take a supply of paper and
markers if those will be unavailable. A small wipe-off board and
some dry erase markers would probably serve you well.

4. A few song books. Isaac Watts' Divine and Moral Songs for
Children is wonderful, and it's small and light weight.


We loved the Piggyback Song books by Warren Publishing House:


and the Wee Sing books:


Check Sing 'n' Learn at www.singnlearn.com for more great ideas.

5. Don't worry about math. Measuring tools that you probably
already have available make the best math manipulatives. These
would include money, measuring cups and spoons, a ruler and tape
measure, a thermometer, a calendar. Raisins, peanuts, popcorn
and beans work great for teaching almost any math concept.

6. If you have room for a few simple field identification guides,
it might be fun to identify vegetation and animals, especially if
that area has different things than you normally see here. A
nature journal doesn't take up much room, and provides excellent
science activity for young ones.

7. For writing, do copywork from the Bible or from the song books,
and have her write letters to friends and family in the US. She
could also keep a diary of her experiences.

8. Don't overlook the wonderful opportunity you have to learn
about the area where you're living. Language, culture, cuisine,
meeting the people; all provide rich learning experiences unique
to your situation. If there are museums or other attractions there,
be sure to take it all in while you have the chance." -- Mary Beth


We have been homeschooling for 20 years, six kids. Here are some
of our invaluable resources.

Explode the Code Phonics - Also could be used for handwriting,
reading aloud (not stories). Super easy to use. Almost self-explan-
atory for the child from the first book. Minimal teacher prep,
maximum phonics benefits. Also, my kids truly enjoy it. I did not
buy it for years because of the graphics. (I am an artist.) That
was a mistake. http://familyclassroom.net/CBD-ExplodetheCode.htm

Little House on the Prairie series - read aloud, history, later
reading to self. Also, the Caroline years, Martha years, etc.
(many by Wiley) are very well written and historically interesting.
We did not like 'The Rose Years' as well.


A test prep book for each year - provides an instant scope and
sequence for each grade. Fun to do at the end of the year, or in
the middle, to see where you are or what you need to brush up on.

What Your 1st, 2nd, 3rd (through 6th) Grader Needs To Know series:


- Also helps with scope and sequence. Great to read aloud and covers
everything from art and geography to poetry, math and literature.
Pictures and stories are useful references. I just tick off and
date in the table of contents for record keeping. Sometimes we drop
everything else and do this for a few weeks in January for a break
from the usual." -- Jannell in SD

Answer our NEW Question

"My son is a bright child who is in his 2nd year of homeschooling,
so I call him a first grader. His reading and math skills are
right at grade level, but getting his writing up to par is a trick.
I have tried 'Handwriting without Tears' and it seems to help.
However, we are not writing on a daily basis as I face a lot of
resistance. Any ideas? Is it okay for him to still be writing
lists and occasional sentences, or do I need to try to catch him
up to the public school standard?

We homeschool with a constructivist approach and it seems to work
well, by following his current interests. Any ideas on improving
writing motivation is helpful." -- Katie


Do you have input for Katie?

Please send your answer to: mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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