September 2012

Free lapbook lessons

Learning can be fun.

When my daughter was younger we did a lot of lapbooks. Lapbooks are a great way to get younger children learning without them even realizing. They feel more as if they are taking an arts and crafts class. The great thing about lapbooks is that you can use them in virtually any subject. is a website resource for homeschoolers who enjoy creating lapbooks with their children. I wish I had known about it back when I did these with my daughter. The website has a comprehensive list of lapbooks that you can print from your home computer. Some of the categories include:

Bible: Under the Bible lapbook section you'll find a lapbook page for each letter of the alphabet. You'll also find over 246 pages that tell your child the history of the Bible from Genesis all the way to Revelation.

Alphabet: Alphabet lapbooks help your preschoolers and kindergarteners learn their alphabet. At the same time they'll be learning all about bugs and insects, so it is like a grammar and science lesson combined into one.

What do we expect of our authors?

Hint: A lot.

A lot of people are tearing into J.K. Rowling lately with the release of her new, not-for-kids novel. It's just too good a story, it practically writes itself: "Beloved children's author is not a nice person." This Salon article rightly takes a New Yorker interview to task for being snarky about Rowling's personality.

But why should it matter? Who cares if J.K. Rowling is prickly and distant? That doesn't change the Harry Potter books a bit. It also reflects badly on our celebrity starved culture, that we want - nay, demand - anything different.
Stephen King is a victim of this phenomenon from the other direction. How many interviewers have been surprised to discover that King is, in person, a pleasant and congenial person. I guess they assume that the man who wrote the world's most popular gore and horror novels would be a vicious, snarling beast.

Create a private blog for your portfolio

Keep all your records stored on a private blog.

Although keeping records is not a law in my state, it is in many others. Daily logs with topics studied and the length of time spent on each subject are often required, as is proof that certain tasks were completed. Keeping all of this information on a blog is ideal, as it frees up the mounds of paperwork that would result in having to write everything down.

First, a homeschool blog should be kept private to protect your child. This is easy to do with Blogger. Simply create a blog title and URL (best not to use your child's name or any identifying information), and then click “Settings,” and then “Permissions.” Change the permissions to private. Then the only people that can view the blog are the ones you give the log in information to.

Must-have supplies for homeschoolers

Stock up on these items each September.

Now that I've been homeschooling for nine years, I have a good idea as to which supplies my daughter and I need to stock up on in order to make it through the year without having to go back and forth to the store.

Index cards: Index cards are a must. We use them for so many subjects. First, I have my daughter write her spelling and vocabulary words out on index cards each week to make studying them much easier. Next, we use index cards for gathering research for essays and school papers. The index cards also come in handy to create an outline on for an oral book report. When my daughter was younger, we used the cards to make multiplication flash cards.

Poster board: I usually grab at least 10 sheets of poster board for the year. We use one to create a time line for history, another to create collages based on what we are learning in science. Of course, there are always other projects that pop up throughout the year. Last year we did a project on the Civil War. The poster boards come in handy for art class as well.

Free Literacy Printables by Laura Candler

Worksheets for grades 3 through 6

I love the Internet. It is so easy to find free help with homeschooling. This past week I discovered Laura Candler's website, which is filled with free printables to be used with your child's literacy courses. The printables can be used with any child in grades 3 through 6.

After clicking on the Literacy Printables link, you'll see over 30 printables that you can print out absolutely free. The first printable that caught my eye was the Paper Chain Connections, which gives students a fun way to record a book's title, author and any connections the student made throughout the book. 

Bedbugs infesting library books

Another reason to switch to eBooks!

There is a terrifying thread at Metafilter, about bedbugs in library books. I first learned about this problem a few years ago, but at the time it was "leading edge" enough that a lot of people dismissed my worries. I didn't care; I'm paranoid and broke, and I can hardly afford to fumigate or bake all my possessions or whatever. So my fear of bedbug infested library books is part of what drove me to a Kindle.

Sadly, my early research is turning out to have been prophetic. Bedbug infestations are hitting libraries hard across the country. It's such a bad problem that the Travel Channel has dubbed libraries one of the top 10 places to get a bedbug infestation.
A library may seem like an unlikely place to find a bedbug. But as with thrift stores, everything in a library was once in someone else's home. Many other someone's homes, actually. And where do many people read? In bed. The "stack of books on the bedside table" is practically a cliché.

Get your audiobooks from

It may seem pricey, but it's worth it.

I have been hearing about for years now, but I resisted getting an account. I could borrow audiobooks on CD from the library, or download them directly from our library's online service. You can buy them from used book stores, of course. And then there are the shadier, less legitimate ways of obtaining audiobooks in MP3 format, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

But if you listen to a lot of audiobooks - and my contention is that you should - then these methods all eventually fall flat. The library's selection is poor, with low turnover. The same is true for their downloadable content, because each library only has a certain number of "copies" of the digital files, which are often "checked out" and thus unavailable for download. The used book store's selection is shabby, and one grows tired of constantly stalking the free download. It's fine for new audiobooks, but if you want an older audiobook (and by "older" I mean "more than three months"), you're out of luck.

Make use of Pinterest

A great homeschooling resource

I've been discovering more and more used for Pinterest every day. I started off collecting recipes I wanted to try, but now I see how valuable a resource it is for homeschoolers.

There are several homeschooling families you can follow on Pinterest. They pin books that they find work for their kids, activities, field trip ideas, organizational tips and much, much more.

If you don't have an account at Pinterest, go ahead and create one. It is totally free. You'll need to download a free browser that will allow you to pin things you like. First, you'll need a board to put the pins on. You can call it “Homeschool” or “Homeschool Resources.”

On my Pinterest board for homeschooling resources, I have free lap book lists, favorite curriculum and a pin to a really cool geography site that allows my daughter to learn all of the countries on each continent.