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The Thinking Toolbox; Readers Suggest Affordable Curriculum

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 10 No 24 March 26, 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
-- Podcast News / Reader Feedback
Helpful Tip
-- The Thinking Toolbox for Logic
Winning Website
-- Paper Models of Polyhedra
Reader Question
-- Affordable Curriculum Suggestions?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Podcast SPECIAL with Yours Truly! :-)

Dear Readers --

Please join Jodi Whisler and I as we discuss our Dr. Seuss style
story "The Trouble in Bedubble" -- AKA Dr. Seuss Meets the CPSIA.
The Consumer Protection law that has us all reeling (with its
crazy assumption that every children's product is a banned, hazardous
substance until proven otherwise) has wreaked havoc on small craft
and clothing businesses, the mini-bike industry, libraries, and more.

Listen in to "Grace Talk Soup" with hostess JoJo Tabares on Thursday
April 2nd at 11 am Eastern time and you'll get to hear me reading
our soon-to-be-published book as well as discussing the implications
of crazy laws enacted by our government. Communication (or the lack
thereof) is important, especially when Congress is passing acts they
rarely take time to read! We have an ongoing modern case of "The
Emperor's New Clothes" -- and no one wants to take responsibility.

Where: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/19736
When: Thursday, April 2nd - 8am PST/ 11am EST

Join us live via your computer:

Join us live via your phone:
Phone Number: (724) 444-7444
Call ID: 19736

Can't join us live? Listen to the recording any time after the show:

PLUS: Weekly Feature - "I Love Language"

Are you confident that you are being understood when speaking to
your child's doctor? Are you sure that they know exactly what you
need when you finally get to the right menu option at your mortgage
company? Do you know why your small business isn't going where you
feel it should? Is it possibly because you aren't communicating
skillfully and efficiently?

If it is... or if it even might be, you need to join us every Thursday
morning on Grace Talk Soup for 'I Love Language', starring Lucy
Linguist and Ethel the Editor. Laugh along with these two crazy
compadres of Communication FUNdamentals, one spoken and one written,
while gaining valuable knowledge and important tips on improving your
business, your family and your life, simply by refining your everyday
communication skills.

Lucy Linguist - http://www.artofeloquence.com
Ethel the Editor - http://www.awordaptlywritten.com
Starring in "I Love Language" on Grace Talk Soup:


Feedback from Lina -

RE: 'Homeschooling Around the Babies' Reader Question

"Thank you so much for all the advice! It was so encouraging to
hear the wisdom of those who have gone before me. I've already
begun to use some of the tips and, most importantly, I have relaxed
a bit about this year's system.

Thanks again for providing the newsletter!" -- Lina


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


The Easy Truth about Homeschool Transcripts

"The Easy Truth about Homeschool Transcripts is so easy, I'm
actually excited to sit down and create my son's transcripts!
If you're thinking about homeschooling through high school,
this book will remove all your fears around credits, course
descriptions, and grades, and will help you translate your
student's homeschool work into the language of college
admissions officers! An awesome tool for all homeschooling
parents!" -- Jill Bell in Washington

"I love your stuff and will be telling others to check you out."
-- Jeannie Fulbright, Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.

"Your transcripts and records were the best organized and
documented I have seen." -- Bryan Jones, Associate Director of
Admissions, Seattle Pacific University

Get your copy of 'The Easy Truth about Homeschool Transcripts'

Just visit this link: http://familyclassroom.net/truth.html


Helpful Tip

The Thinking Toolbox for Logic

"Logic, fun? Oh yes, when it's The Bluedorn Brothers teaching it.
Their fantastic and colorful book, 'The Thinking Toolbox' is one
of the most inviting, entertaining and useful books on logic I've
yet to find. Similar to 'The Fallacy Detective' in format, 'The
Thinking Toolbox'
takes you even further into the exciting world of
logic. Building upon introductory logic, it can be used independent
of or as a companion to their previous book, 'The Fallacy Detective'.
The book is a toolbox, with thirty-five lessons and exercises acting
as 'teaching tools' to help in thinking tasks. These invaluable
lessons cover things like: when is it dumb to argue, the five rules
of brainstorming, analyzing opposing viewpoints, and how to list
reasons why you believe something. The book is versatile and would
work well in a classroom or homeschool setting. Our family has
enjoyed doing the exercises together, and I was presently surprised
at how much I personally learned about logic and reasoning. Every-
thing in 'The Thinking Toolbox' is useful, vital knowledge, and
necessary for preparing your children for life on their own. Give
your children a blessing -- use 'The Thinking Toolbox' and teach
them how to think." -- K. Davis, www.HomeschoolBuzz.com

Read all the great reviews here!


Incidentally, HomeschoolBuzz.com has LOTS of excellent reviews of
other resourcesat this page: http://homeschoolbuzz.com/reviews.html


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

Winning Website

Paper Models of Polyhedra – http://www.korthalsaltes.com

These 3D geometric shapes have fascinated mathematicians for years!
Now your student can try their hand at making 80 paper models --
just click on the pattern title, print on heavy paper, cut and begin
folding. Although you can print straight from your web-browser
window, the PDF versions are much better (a link is provided for
the PDF version of each pattern). Some of the patterns will be
more suited to high school students, but many are easy enough for
elementary/middle school children that like to work with their hands.

-- Cindy at www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am starting my third month of homeschooling and my son is doing
pretty well. He sleeps a lot -- possibly due to his medication for
seizures at night. Sometimes he is too tired to do much, so I get
in what I can. He has OT and Speech therapy 3 times a week, so he
is tired from that -- and he has separation anxiety when they try
to take him in without me.

I am struggling with finding curriculum -- I am using workbooks and
making up my own papers. He is in 3rd grade but works at 1st to 2nd
grade level. I need to find something soon that is affordable. Any
advice you could give would be greatly appreciated." -- Robyn

Our Readers' Responses

"(((( Robyn )))) -- Your first year of homeschooling sounds
much like ours. I have found Ambleside Online to be a great
resource. One of the best things (aside from how inexpensive it
is) is that it can be taken outside the home. There is so much
reading of wonderful stories, which you can get online for free
or at the library. You can take the books with you and while you
are waiting for the therapy sessions to start, you can be reading.
Or you can look to see if your library carries books on tape/CD
and listen to the stories in the car.

Praying for you and your son, and knowing he is benefiting greatly
from your decision to homeschool, even if it's hard to see right now."
-- Sara H.


"For affordable curriculum I would highly recommend using Spectrum
. They are available from about $7 - 10 each and they have
various subjects (Math, Language arts, Reading, etc.) available for
Pre-K to 8th grade. They have character workbooks which are more
colorful -- or 'Starburst' that are more formal. I especially liked
using them for math and Language arts." -- Sandy G.


"Dear Robyn -- I've been working with my granddaughter the last 7
years. I used to wake her at 8 am so we could get started by 9 am.
This school year I've decided to let her sleep and wake naturally.
Much easier to work with! Her sister gets up early and doesn't
mind working on her own until the older one wakes up -- and we do
the things that I am involved in. She is also on anti-seizure meds
and she sleeps a lot. If she doesn't get the rest she needs, she
has seizures even with the meds. The oldest is several grades below
where others her age are, but they don't have her mental problems.
I doubt she'll ever get past 4th-5th grade math. Do what YOU think
he needs, not what others are doing or think you should be doing.
When he first wakes up, and if he's cranky, start the day with prayer
-- maybe a scripture -- and then go into something he really likes
to learn about. Slip in the other things as you can. Keep the stress
level down for both of you.

There are a lot of things you can find online. If you can't afford
the ink -- a big problem for me -- ask friends to help or go to the
library. It still costs, but maybe you can find change around the
house for a few pages at a time. I don't get curriculum because we
can't afford it. I was using Abeka -- just getting math through
them -- but I can't even do that. A lot of things on the Internet
are free. We collected a lot of books from garage sales and such.
I have a set of encyclopedias for Science, and one for History, and
the regular encyclopedias. Plenty of information in them!

Good luck and best wishes." -- Jan A.


"Hi, Robyn -- I feel your pain. We have 4 children; 2 in public
school and the oldest in an online program in the homeschooling
category. Then there is the little guy -- he's the one with the
OT and more issues than I thought a 2 year old could even have.
He makes it difficult for our oldest to get school done.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about an alternative that may work
for you, or maybe not. But it's at least something worth looking
into. The online program my son does is extremely flexible; they
focus on boosting self-esteem in learning with the kids -- and the
program is based on mastery.

Our oldest is in 8th grade, but doing 5th grade math to fill in
the gaps he has from lurking in the back of the classroom and not
paying attention for so many years in public school. He is able
to take a look at a lesson -- and if he thinks he remembers the info
he can take the assessment to see where he stands. If he gets less
than 80%, then we work on that lesson. There are also extra lessons
included that are optional for if there needs to be a little extra
help there.

I have no ties to this program aside from being a mom whose child
is in this -- so this isn't an advertisement or anything, just advice
from one mom to another. Also, the lessons don't come from you, so
you are free to take that time to help him with his other problems.
And, it is considered public school, so you don't pay a cent -- not
even for books. Some states also offer a computer for use during
the year for free. There is the option, however, of having him
marked as 'home school' so they don't have to take the big test that
is causing all these kids so much anxiety (WASL where we are). And
he also wouldn't have to log P.E. time. This is the option we
currently have.

Take a look at the program and check out a few sample lessons. Oh
yeah -- and your son will have a teacher that will help you every
step ofthe way; you will be his learning coach. You are incredibly
involved, as you would be with home school, but without having to
take extra time coming up or finding lessons. It is k12.com.

Good luck!" -- Heather S.


"Hi Robyn -- www.learningpage.com is free and has lots of resources
for preschool to grade 3 and a little beyond. You may find them
helpful because you can view the pages before you print them off."
-- Lynn C


"Robyn -- Sounds like a lot is happening in your lives right now.
I have a daughter who is going into Kindergarten and she has some
speech issues as well. I discovered lapbooks this year (they can
span a lot of age groups and also you can modify them to pertain
to older grades). I have been doing some with my daughter while
her siblings are working on their school work. She loves them --
and the best part of it is that you can get many of the lapbooks
ready-to-go free off the internet.


Most of the lapbooks on this site use many of the books that children
love. I really wish I would have tried lapbooks sooner with my other
children. I would encourage you to try them. Unit Studies are also
great to do in the areas that really interest him. There are lots
of sites that have free or cheap unit studies ready to use.

Enjoy your time together!" -- Monica


"I love Singapore math -- these are easy workbooks that take you
from very basic math through to higher levels. It is a slow and
incremental process. As in the more expensive Kumon private tutoring
program, the student should start at the lowest level to get used to
the program, understand the program concepts, and gain confidence.

We have three children -- one 20 years old, then a 13 and 11 year old.
Singapore really helps with math. For Language arts we use ACE Pace
booklets and supplement with videos. I always started with the lowest
level in the booklets and my kids were able to advance 2-3 grade levels
in one year because of it.

To help your child with being so tired you may consider nap or quiet
time. The other thing I did for my youngest is create shorter lesson
times with more frequent breaks to rest, play, and just get up and
walk around. It really helps to use a timer for the shorter lessons.

My 20 year old and 11 year old both had orthodontic related speech
problems and had to have speech for years. Once the orthodontist
finished expanding their jaws, we no longer needed speech. We paid
for speech through private pay some years and our medical insurance
covered some years. You may want to consider checking to see if the
speech therapist can come to your home; ours did and it was really
helpful. Also, we found a student who was learning to do speech
therapy through a local college. She came over to the house and
helped with the lesson/practice time and worked directly with our
regular therapist. This gave us some free time to clean, cook, rest,
or spend with the other two children. Good luck." -- Sheila


"If you google 'used homeschool curriculum' you will see a list of
websites that sell used curriculum, some of which are very cheap.
If you belong to a local homeschool group, they will often have a
used curriculum sale to allow members to exchange curriculum. HSLDA
now has a used curriculum auction on their website for members. EBAY
and Half.com are two other possibilities. A catalog company called
'Rainbow Resources' has discounted curriculum and I've heard that Rod
and Staff is both inexpensive and effective, but I haven't personally
used it." -- Debbie


"I've homeschooled now for 10 years and spent a lot of money. Some
resources have been beneficial and some wasted and not used. What I
use now is mainly books I have along with the library. I try not to
buy anything else. Read real, *living* books for literature, reading,
character building, history and science. The only book you should need
to purchase or borrow would be a math book. Look into homeschooling
magazines or newsletters on the internet for creative ideas in most
subjects, including writing. Remember, we don't have to mimic the
public schools in the ways we teach!" -- Cindy in OH


"Hi! I would strongly suggest attending a Carole Joy Seid seminar.
She is a Christian pioneer homeschool mom who teaches you how to teach
your children everything they need to know (from K through High School)
with a math program and a library card (ie, you do not need to purchase
an entire curriculum and stress out because they can't/won't complete
it). It is a classical literature-based program and it is amazing.
She also teaches you not to stress out about where your child *should*
be based on state standards. She is amazing and will reaffirm your
decision to home school for sure! Check out her website:


If you cannot attend a seminar, please consider purchasing a recording
of her basic seminar called 'A Literature Based Approach to Education'.
It is the *best* thing we ever did! Good Luck." -- Kathy M.


"Hi Robyn -- You can expect this first year of homeschooling to be
a time of realizing just how differently you and your son can do
things now that he's not in school. You can figure out what works
best for you and your son, which might be quite different from what
works for some other homeschooling family. One of the great things
about homeschooling is that we each get to tailor things to what
works best for us. There are all sorts of approaches to homeschooling,
from school-at-home to unschooling, and no two families do it exactly
the same. Another difference -- for your son now -- is that he doesn't
have to keep up with the schedule of the typical school day. If he's
tired in the mornings, perhaps you'll let him sleep longer since he
no longer has to catch the bus or be in class by the time the bell
rings. You may have already noticed that it doesn't take nearly as
long in the homeschool setting to cover the same material being taught
in the school setting. (Of course, if you're concerned that your son
is excessively tired even given his medication and schedule, it seems
you'd want to run that past his doctor, if you haven't yet.)

Now that you're making more decisions about your son's education,
perhaps you'll also want to extend the decision-making to other things.
Specifically, if he experiences separation anxiety during OT and speech
therapy, maybe you can talk to the therapists and ask if you can be
present in the room. It seems that today more professionals require
that parents not be in the room with their children -- this even
extends to dance classes, gymnastics, and the like. The argument is
that children get distracted when their parents are present, and they
don't pay attention to the teacher/therapist/etc. However, just like
it would be hard for your son to concentrate on his school subjects
if he's tired, it seems that he'll have a hard time concentrating on
OT and speech is he's focused on that fact that you're not there with
him. If the therapists aren't open to your being in the room, and you
disagree, then maybe you'll want to look for other therapists who
recognize that different children have different needs. Perhaps with
you in the room, you'll even be able to learn techniques that you can
use at home, to supplement what your son is doing during scheduled
therapy sessions.

Regarding choosing curriculum and the cost, if you have access to the
Internet and a library, then you've got it made! Homeschooling can
pretty much be as expensive or as inexpensive as you want to make it.
Especially at your child's age, simply reading with him will go very
far. If you want lesson plans or math worksheets, you can probably
find them on-line for free. Also, if you join a group of homeschoolers,
you might be able to borrow curriculum to use, or just to check it out
to see if it would be something you'd be interested in buying. Many
of us have purchased curriculum and found that it wasn't right for us --
it is best to test it out first, if possible. There are a LOT of
curriculum choices specifically targetted toward homeschoolers. You
could try an Internet search to locate homeschool supply catalogs,
and sign-up to receive them by mail. Most importantly, enjoy your
time with your son." -- Amy in Delaware

Answer our NEW Question

"Hi -- We are new to homeschooling. I have a very active son in 3rd
grade and he is slightly dyslexic. I have heard that the 'Sequential
Spelling' program would be a great help. Does anyone know any other
programs that would help with this challenge?" -- Nicole


Would you like to share some suggestions and/or experience with Nicole?

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

Ask YOUR Question

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