What We’re Into – 2014

Reading Rainbow App

The Power of Apologetics by Chap Bettis

We Choose Virtues


Math Drills App

Diane Craft for special needs

Chelsea Tutorials

Apologia Live Refresh

Landry Academy – does good retreats

Seeds Family Worship

Bible Story Printables

Daily Focus by Alpha Omega


Tapestry of Grace – Primer for grades K4-K5

Handwriting Without Tears app

Nest videos:

A handy tip: start with your smallest people first.

Key To … math books:

The Gospel for Children

Home Art Studio for Kids

Little Pilgrim’s Progress

A Case For… Kids by Lee Strobel

I Saw the Angel in the Marble

Mavalus Tape

Do Hard Things

Ask Dr. Callahan for advanced math

Merrill Readers for struggling readers

Mind Benders

Five In A Row

Jonathan Park Adventures


What I’m Into – The Impressions Edition

  • Great book about teaching writing.  The Writer’s Jungle and  Fantastic resources on her website for free. Bravewriter.com 
  • Homeschooling with a Meek & Quiet spirit
  • Thornton W. Burgess animal stories, bird book is free on Kindle (age group 5 and up) – Charlotte Mason, recommended previously by Debra Hoosier
  • Leading Little Ones to God
  • Sally Michael books: God’s Names and God’s Promises
  • Window on the World – the kid version of Operation World – Mark the places you read about on a world map, use it for geography
  • Hidden Treasures by Doorposts – a study of Proverbs for kids, includes fun artwork, the stuff the company puts out is a bit dated, but high quality stuff.
  • Valentines is a great opportunity to talk about God’s love being the reason we love, especially helpful with Littles
  • A Child’s History of the World by V. M. Hilyer, not written from a blatant Christian perspective, evolution-warning, but still an opportunity to talk about world view. (Leann and her daughter wrote in the creation story in the margins.) It reads like a story. Short chapters. Very conversational. (doesn’t include supply lists or activity suggestions, but you can easily develop your own ideas)
  • Shakespeare Can Be Fun books
  • Focus on the Family radio theater of Chronicles of Narnia
  • Day One publications dayone.co.uk about C.S. Lewis (and other great books about famous and admirable people)
  • How to Study Your Bible for Kids by Kay Arthur, Discover For Yourself for Kids – inductive Bible study series for kids, lessons are a little long, break them up into week instead of day-long
  • According to Sheryl Turner: the best thing you can do for your kids is: TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
  • Also according to Sheryl: play with your kids. Hedbanz (can be modified and say “only use adjectives/nouns, etc. to describe). Can also be a reward for doing your work. Spot It  and Blunders (a manners game)
  • Settlers of Catan for older kids. Ticket to Ride (also available on iPad)
  • Debbie – Veteran Mom: create a love of learning with your youngers. Don’t stress about the little things, the workbooks, etc. In theory, they can learn all they need from the time they are 12 to 17. Just living life with you will give them all the life skills and learning skills they need to succeed in life.
  • Great easy readers of Bible stories with great pictures. Perfect for new readers. Mary Manz Simon 
  • Hands on learning algebra, similar to Montessori concepts. Hands-On Equation Learning System by Borenson.com and is appropriate for 3rd and 4th graders
  • For visual learners – Math-U-See
  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting App that is interactive so they can trace the letter with their fingers and it’s animated with consistent verbal instructions.

Summer Fun Ideas

Here are the ideas and links for summer fun we discussed at our last meeting. We’ve added several to the list since the meeting, so make sure you check it out. Have fun!

Mount Ruffner

Great list of 75 fun summer ideas

Young Artist League

Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum – $8 a person

One Nineteen wellness center – Cooking Class

DeSoto Caverns

Fresh Air Family

Camp Marannook

Free movies at Rave, Patton Creek, Lee Branch and Alabaster (schedules not online yet, use Google!)

Homewood’s Friday night flicks – look for Steel City pops

Helena Buck Creek

Grandparents.com – 101 things to do with kids in birmingham

Vestavia bowl – kids can bowl free

Local farmer’s markets

Oak Mountain State Park – nature trail, day camps (cheap)

Gardendale splash pad

Helena Waterfall at Buck Creek with shaded park and playground

Horse camp at Red Barn off of 119 and horse camp in wilsonville $120/camper/week

Gymnastics camp in Leeds – $40 email: kidflipper5@yahoo.com

Hiking trail on 41 past treetop, gravel lot with a trail to sportsblast

Spring Garden Learning summer camps (include ballet, science, and music)

Art Camps and Workshops for K-8th taught in Meadowbrook. Email kelly_belhaven@hotmail.com for more information.

Botanical Gardens

Moss Rock Preserve


McWane center science camps

Latin Camp

Horse camps during the month of June. Email ketchamfamily@bellsouth.net

Favorite iPad Apps

Hi Ladies. A bunch of you have added iPads to your homeschooling bag of tools. April asked me to share a blog post I did about our family’s favorite iPad apps. Click here and happy downloading!!!

Lora Lynn

February Meeting Notes and Links

Our February meeting featured a panel discussing organization. These are some links that were mentioned:

E-mealz – meal planning

 Shopping List App for iPad

 Southern Savers

 10 lessons I learned from 30 years of homeschooling – Michael Farris

Record Keeping, Is it worth the trouble?


Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

Large Family Logistics – by Kim Brenneman

Read This

When you get something in your inbox from three different people, from three different circles of life…you take the hint. You run with it.

You may have seen this already. If not, buckle up…


Tagged ,

10 Days Of…

Ladies, if any of you are reading this, I thought you might be interested in an upcoming blog round-up.  It’s called 10 Days of Homeschooling. Various bloggers will blog for 10 days about their given topic and it all centers around homeschooling.  At least one of these is bound to apply to you!  Go check it out!

Technology and Homeschooling


Before we geek out, I wanted to add some perspective to our evening. 

By choosing to homeschool, we’ve made the choice that we will use up much of our time in educating and training our children.  I like to think my time  became twice as valuable when I gave up driving my kids to school every day.

It is our job as the mother and the teacher to PROTECT our time.  We are to use it wisely, spend it well.  We also need to protect our hearts and our appetites.  We do not want to waste emotional time or energy on things that are not praiseworthy or encouraging.

Technology, in general, is designed to save us time.  Where would we all be without our washing machines, our dishwashers, our mini-vans?  If you view technology as a tool to help you do your job better, and you hold every new-fangled gadget and app up to the light as “will this help me do my job better REALLY?’ then you will be able to make wise decisions about how to make technology work for you.

There are generally two schools of thought about using technology, especially among homeschoolers.  There are those that fear it, afraid of what they will be exposed to, afraid of the time that it will take up.  Then, there are those that embrace it, but can sometimes over-use it, rely on it too heavily, and invest so much time in enjoying technology that they forget what they intended it for in the first place.

Here is the thing I want you to remember with my talk:  If you fall on the first end of the spectrum, please don’t dismiss everything out of hand as “too complicated,” or “too risky.”  The internet can be used for some awful things.  But it has created so much good as well.  To throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak, would be to shut the door on opportunities that have NEVER BEFORE been available to us as mothers or as teachers.  As with everything, Exercise Discretion.

On the other hand, if you embrace technology and love it muchly, as I do, then know that we need to take every moment captive, we are accountable to God for every moment, and we need to question our motives on our use of technology, and we need to always remember The Most Important Thing is not answering our email, but in doing our work to glorify God.  Our time with our children is precious.  To waste it on things that are measured in gigabytes and bandwidth is foolishness.

So I am here tonight to help you think about how you might use technology to better your time.  There is an array of options out there for homeschoolers now and some fantastic tools that really will make your lives easier.  They are worth learning how to use these tools, because the time saved in the long-run far outweighs the learning curve.

In addition, you can garner so much encouragement and support from various blogs, forums, and websites.  It’s easy for us to feel isolated in our homes all day, but the internet tends to metaphorically open doors and tear down walls, building relationships that are uplifting and yes, even healthy for us.

Let’s start with the basics.

First, imagine you don’t know about all these new-fangled toys out there today, but you’ve got email and you can “get online.”  What is the best way for you to use the internet to encourage you and inspire you as a homeschool mom?


Read blogs, read informative websites, read online magazines, but find other like-minded people on the internet and listen to what they have to say.  When you choose your “daily reads” carefully, I think you will find that they give you ideas and encouragement that far exceed what you could come up with in your own little corner of the universe.

Before you hop online, though, we need to talk about the criteria that you use for picking websites.  I have a series of questions that I ask myself before I allow myself to “subscribe” to a website or blog’s RSS feed (more on that in a minute).

  • Does it have a positive tone?  Negativity is not allowed.  I must protect my mind at all costs.
  • Is it complimentary of children and spouses?  I want to leave a website feeling good about the people I spend time with all day.  Listening to someone else complain about their family often makes me feel gripey, too.
  • Can I garner ideas, information, inspiration, or encouragement from reading this?  And it’s okay if something just makes you laugh.  Not everything has to be “educational.”  But make sure if it makes you laugh, it also fits the other criteria I mentioned earlier.

Okay, so now, let’s start with my favorite websites and blogs to read.

Informative sites (reviews, encouragement, ideas):

http://thecurriculumchoice.com/ – show off the toolbar

Blogs:  (can include the same things, but they are written by individuals)


If you’re wondering why anybody would ever blog, especially a busy homeschooler, here’s a great article about why it’s so helpful to homeschoolers:  http://www.hsclassroom.net/2011/01/blogging-the-journey/

iPad (or iPhone):
That had a list of apps to get me started in each subject.  Most if not all were free.

Example of how I use it:  To pull up maps, to give individual assignments.  Can also use iPhone.  iPad works better when you have a crowd as it is easier for everybody to see.  Plus, it’s super fun.

Google Calendar:

Google Docs:  Give example of the mom who assigned her kids papers, they wrote them in Google docs, shared them with her, she used the highlight feature to edit them, emailed them back and forth, and so on.  She could know they were meeting their deadlines without standing over them.

Google Reader:  If you like reading blogs for inspiration or encouragement, or to keep up with loved ones, the most efficient way to read blogs is through a reader.

Why Google and not Word??? It’s accessible from anywhere.  Traveling and forgot that special worksheet you made?  Pull it up anywhere.  EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE A GMAIL ACCOUNT.


mathusee.com for worksheets or online practice, all free
ixl.com (there is a fee, but if we got enough to sign up, we can get a group rate)



Some curriculi are more technology savvy than others.  Most of them have websites, but some of them use technology better.


If a company that has good tech support and is technology savvy appeals to you, I can recommend from personal experience Tapestry of Grace.  They even have a digital version that is cheaper than the paper version and allows you to access it or print it as often as you like for a lifetime.

Or Math U See


Ambleside Online – http://amblesideonline.org/index2.shtml

The Duggars use Alpha-Omega all online.  (Switched On Schoolhouse?)

Useful for keeping in touch with relatives, but folks also use it for online co-ops, virtual classrooms, or to interview grandparents or others for projects and such.  A great resource.




Sometimes, I’m too lazy to take a field trip.  YouTube to the rescue.  We’ve learned about shearing sheep, Aesop’s Fables, Greece, The Great Sphinx, all from the comfort of our couch.  WARNING:  Always preview the videos before you start wandering YouTube with your kids looking over your shoulder.  I speak from experience.  However, it’s a great resource and I would caution you again not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Use good judgment and you can get so much educational value out of a FREE website.

Forums and Groups:

There’s another mom like you somewhere out there.  Someone with the same burning questions, or the answer to all of yours.  The magic of the internet makes the world just a little bit smaller.  For example, some curriculums provide online forums for people who use their product.  This means you sometimes get direct access to the authors and creators of your curriculum.  Their perspective can be invaluable and, if they have a good forum, they are usually very helpful.  Also, other moms who are further along in a study than you can answer questions.

Show example of TOG Forum:    http://tapestryofgrace.groupee.net/eve/forums/a/cfrm/f/2061049621

Sometimes informal groups are born from like-minded mothers.  The TOG moms took their party off the forum and to a wildly successful yahoo group just because the format lended itself better to encouragement and relationship building.  Sometimes, that’s not what you want, but in this particular faith-based curriculum, it was a really good thing.

If you get involved with one of these large forums or groups, a few tips to help manage the influx of information:   First, recognize that the resource is there FOR you and that you do not have to be a slave to reading every single email that comes through from that group.  If I join a particular yahoo group, I set up my email client so those emails go into a separate inbox.  I only read those when I have time or when I’ve asked a question and am waiting for a response.

You can also sign up to have discussions delivered in “digest” format, which means rather than getting ten emails, you get one mail with titles and links to all the other emails, if you choose to read them.

And if, hypothetically speaking, you look in that inbox one day and there are 5000 unread emails in it, hit delete.  You have my permission.  Also, consider unsubscribing from something that may be a distraction or a frustration just because it ISN’T getting done.

Book Purchasing:

Paperback Swap – I got my book list for next year, put them all on my wish list, and posted a stack of books I got at a yard sale for five bucks.  I shipped out nearly 15 books and got credits, and have spent the last six months gathering almost every single book on my book list for next year.  I will probably only have to purchase 4 or 5 by the time we’re ready to start.  Definitely worth the time, if you can be patient.  Homeschoolers have figured out this little gem and the wait list for a book can be long.

Abe Books

Curriculum Swap:  http://www.theswap.com/forum/Blah.pl?c-CA/

Book Cataloging:

Delicious Library

Library Thing http://www.librarything.com/

Just please know that my ultimate goal here today was not to show you neat, new-fangled stuff or to show off my iPad, but to show you resources you might use to help you use your precious minutes better.
Please remember that Productivity should not be the Goal of using technology or of any of our lists or lesson plans.  To glorify God in every moment is the goal.  Hopefully you will be able to find something useful in all of this to help you take your moments captive and to use them better.  And if you didn’t, by all means, throw it all out.  But my ultimate purpose here tonight was just to help you find a way to use ALL  of your minutes for God’s glory.


From Our Last Speaker

We are pleased to share with you the link recommended to us by Amy during our last meeting:

The Good Enough Homeschooler

We hope you all were encouraged and inspired.  Have a happy Thanksgiving!


This is the website for Impressions, the homeschool support group sponsored by The Church at Brook Hills.  We hope you will all benefit from the links and articles provided here.  If you would like to receive our blog updates (including meeting reminders and links to useful websites and hand-outs) then subscribe in a reader or via email.

We chose the name Impressions based on the Scripture of Deuteronomy 6:4-8

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

We hope that you will all be encouraged as you make lasting impressions with your children.  Blessings…