Homeschool Freebie: Math Mammoth Percent

I like things that are free and here is a good one. Math Mammoth is offering the Math Mammoth Percent ebook for free, now through August 18, 2013. The book is designed for middle school students or students performing in math grade levels six through eight.

If you are unfamiliar with Math Mammoth, this is a good time to check them out. They do not sell their math worksheets and curriculum directly, you have to go through one of several vendors, like the Home School Buyers Co-op,  to purchase it. All of the products are available for download, some are available in print and CD format.

Click here for the free Math Mammoth Percent ebook.

Hope you find this useful



Posted on 16 August '13 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Freebies, Homeschool Curriculum, Thrifty Homeschooling. No Comments.

Gauging Success: Why Standardized Tests Miss the Mark

I am opposed to standardized testing for a number of reasons. It does not give an accurate picture of a student’s ability or progress. Some children, mine included, do not test well. For some reason when my youngest son knows there is a time limit on a test, he freezes. This is a talented and gifted child, yet if you were to look at his standardized tests score—you would think otherwise.


My youngest struggled with reading after I pulled him from a charter school. At that school, they grouped 1st grade students by reading ability. In his group—he was forced to read out loud. This was something that he was very uncomfortable with and when he struggled, the teacher allowed the other kids to make fun of my child. Now, entering the 8th grade, this still haunts him and I believe this is why he does not test well.


Standardize tests are supposed to show you where your child is academically as compared to other children of the same age and grade. But what happens to kids who have test anxiety? Their scores are low. Low scores can keep these kids from getting into gifted programs like the Duke Talent Identification Program.


So how should we judge a child’s progress? Use a record book system like 4-H. The record book tracks a child’s accomplishments, community service, awards, and projects over the course of five years. Why not apply this to the school system? The record book provides a much better picture of the child’s true ability. Although it would be difficult to use on a national level, maybe we need to get away from having a plethora of standardized tests that cannot be compared to each other and instead go to a record book format for tracking student progress. The record book should have a standard format, so it can be used by teachers even if a child changes schools.


Standardized tests just do not work. Public schools and the No Child Left Behind Act  created a “teach the test” atmosphere at most public schools. Teachers and administrators have been caught changing grades and some have been brought up on criminal charges. This is insane. What is needed is a way to accurately judge a student’s ability without having such high stakes.


This brings me to the topic at hand. If I ignore the standardized testing scores for my son, how do I judge where he is academically? He shows me in other ways how well he is doing. My two youngest children are very active in competitive shooting. One of the events, YHEC (Youth Hunter Educational Challenge), demands that the competitors take a written test as well as show mastery in wildlife identification, safety trail, compass and map skills, and mastery in shotgun, .22 rifle, archery, and muzzleloader.


My youngest, age 13, took 3rd place on the written test. Out of 190 kids in his division, he had the 3rd highest score. That is how I measure his success. He studied, he practiced and he performed well.


My next youngest is 18 and will be heading off to college in the fall. His goal is to become a biology specialist for Arkansas Game and Fish. He has plans to get a master’s degree in biology and possibly a doctorate. That is how I measure his success.


It is time to do away with a system that is not working. I would rather have my kids put together a record book highlighting their accomplishments over the last 5 years than have them subjected to standardized tests. Especially since the test results are arbitrary at best and they do not give you a good idea of where your child is academically—unless you have one of those rare kids who test really well.



Posted on 10 June '13 by , under Standardized testing. No Comments.

Tell the U.S. Government to leave the Romeike family alone

What is up with the U.S. Government? In a case that I find mind-boggling, the Department of Justice is looking to deport a German family who came here under the promise of political and religious asylum. After being granted asylum in 2010, the Romeike family moved to rural Tennessee and continued to homeschool their children. They are law abiding people. The kids are good kids and they don’t get into trouble. Uwe Romeike supports his family by giving piano lessons. And yet, the Government says they should go back to Germany. Wow.


This is not a political blog. I have enough on my plate dealing with breast cancer and getting my high school senior ready to enter community college in the fall. I really am not in a mindset to take up a cause. But, this situation should scare every homeschooler in the United States. Why? If the Romeike family is deported, we all could lose our right to homeschool our children.


Is homeschool a fundamental right?

The U.S. Attorney General’s position is this situation is that the right to homeschool is not a fundamental right. That is why the Justice Department is trying to deport the Romeike family. Our Government is claiming that the Romeike family does not have the right to raise their children as Evangelical Christians in a homeschool environment. They say that in Germany that homeschoolers are not a recognizable group because not all homeschoolers are Christian and not all Christians homeschool their children. Since when do you have to be part of a group to seek asylum?


What happens to homeschoolers if the Romeike family is deported? It sets legal precedence that homeschooling for religious reasons is not a fundamental right. Get that–not a fundamental right. It removes the protection under the Constitution for us to homeschool our children.


Michael Farris and the HSLDA have an alternative agenda

Many people, especially those who are not Christian, feel that Michael Farris does not always have the general homeschool population’s best interest at heart. Sometimes this is true. He follows his path of very conservative Christianity—he is not secretive about that. Other times, he is dead on and this is one of those times. This is all about the possibility of losing our rights to homeschool and to raise our children as we see fit. Check out Glenn Beck on the Romeike Family situation


A brave new precedence

Our legal system is a set of laws that are interpreted by precedence. We get to homeschool legally because judges across America interpreted the U.S. Constitution to protect homeschooling under personal freedoms and fundamental rights. This case, brought against the Romeike family says that homeschooling is not a fundamental right. That overturns precedence and sets a new one. The  next time a school district says that parents allowing their kids to be truant or that a divorced parent says their kids must attend public school against the other parent’s will, our homeschool kids will be going to public school if the Department of Justice has its way.


I am still confused as to why the U.S. Government would force a family back to Germany where they are sure to lose custody of their kids to the German Government. How is ripping a family apart a good thing. Got to the HSDLA’s website and sign the petition. Yes, it is that important.


–off my soapbox now


Posted on 22 March '13 by , under Homeschool Politics, News, Politics. No Comments.

Review of One Year Adventure Novel

Lynda Altman

Lynda Altman, writer


I had my doubts about the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum until I tried it. We are using this program for my high school senior and my 7th grader. The program will guide your child through the process of writing an adventure novel over the course of a school year.

An Overview of One Year Adventure Novel

This is a curriculum for middle and high school students. I think it is too involved for an upper elementary school student–even a very gifted one.


The first part of the year is spent having your child learn to get the ideas out of his head and onto paper. He will learn to organize ideas and thoughts and improve the creative writing process.


This is not a grammar and spelling program. It does not focus on sentence structure and writing mechanics. If you are looking for that sort of program go with something else.


The second part of the curriculum walks your child through the process of organizing and writing a novel. This may seem like a daunting task for a novice writer, but if you follow the steps laid out n the CDs, it is not difficult.


The One Year Adventure Novel is an all inclusive curriculum. Lessons are on the CDs. The map and workbook have everything laid out for you. Your job as a parent and educator is to make sure the lessons are completed on time and you need to be a good listener. Another thing I like about the program is that you can purchase more than one workbook if you have multiple students or if you have younger children that will use the program later on.



The curriculum does everything for you. There is no preparation for lessons on the parent’s part. A parent or other adult will need to be a good editor/director. This means that you listen to the ideas and help your child get them out onto paper in a clear and concise manner. It will also mean that you need to learn to lighten up with grammar, spelling and sentence structure until your child is ready to produce a finished product. The goal of the program is to get him to write a novel. The all-in-one design is especially helpful to me while I am homeschooling and fighting breast cancer.


The curriculum is well organized and it is perfect for students who work well independently. I found it was helpful for me as a writer to watch the lessons. I am always looking to improve my writing.



There is a lot of work involved with the curriculum. If your kid does not like to write, this may not be what you are looking for. You will need to assess why your child does not like writing. If it is because they have a hard time getting good ideas on to paper, this program will help. If you kid just hates to write and would rather compose music or do anything else, then you may want to skip this one.


The first part of the year goes slowly. If you are looking to get right into writing a book, you have to wait. The first half of the year is important to the creative process. Take your time with the program and do all the lessons.


Hope you found this helpful. Leave a comment and let me know.



Posted on 26 July '12 by , under Cancer and homeschool, Homeschooling through high school, Reviews. No Comments.

Get Kids to Eat Veggies with a Taste Taste

Portrait with vegetables

Use creativity to get kids to eat vegetables

It is difficult to get kids to eat vegetables. Many don’t like the bitter taste of some veggies like broccoli, cauliflower or green leafy vegetables. You can get kids to eat veggies with a taste test. This home school lesson plan will teach children about the scientific method and data collection. The activity works best with multiple children. If you have an only child, invite friends over to help.



Talk about the scientific method and about data collection. Ask if your kids know what a blind taste test is. Inform them that they will be conducting a blind taste test with vegetables and dipping sauces.


What you need

This lesson plan uses four different dips; hummus, almond-miso dip, creamy tofu dip, and bean dip. Click here for the recipes.


1) A variety of sliced raw vegetables. Try broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, sweet bell peppers and jicama.


2) Paper for data sheets, ruler and pencils.


3) Plastic cups for dipping sauces.


4) Labels for the sauces, use the letters A, B, C, and D.


5) Water for drinking in between tastes.



Place dipping sauces in cups marked with letters. Write down which letter belongs to each sauce but do not share the information with your children. If two adults are available, have one mark and record the sauces and the other adult can work with the kids.


Place a tray of assorted sliced vegetables on the table with the dipping sauces.


Have each child make a data sheet. Put four headings on the top of the paper labeled A, B, C, D. Use a ruler to create four equal columns.


Taste test

Each child should select a vegetable from the tray and dip it into one of the sauces. They should mark on their data sheet if they liked the sauce or not, and indicate which vegetable they selected. Very young children who cannot write, can draw a smiley face or a frown to indicate if they liked the dipping sauce.


Have each child drink water before tasting the next dipping sauce (with a new vegetable slice.) Continue until everyone has tasted all four sauces.


Compile the data

Have a master data sheet. Select one child to count and make tally marks in each column. When all the data is collected, have the students make charts or graphs to show which dipping sauces were preferred. Ask the children if they think their choice of vegetable influenced whether they liked a particular dipping sauce or not.



Posted on 23 June '12 by , under Free lesson plans and ideas, Science lesson plans. No Comments.

Planning for Fall 2012

This coming homeschool year will be a challenge for me. I am still undergoing treatment for breast cancer and I have to allow travel for treatment into my homeschool planning. I have started planning for fall 2012 because it is going to take a lot of work and organization on my part to keep everything under control. My biggest challenge for this year is budgeting time and money. For the 2012-2013 school year, I am homeschooling a high school senior and a 7th grader.

High School

Ideally, I would like to dual enroll my high school student in the local community college. There are fees and costs associated with this and I am not sure that I can afford it. Student loans are not available for high school seniors. Scholarships for high school students do not exist. It is already a struggle for me to make ends meet, I will have to see what I can do. Looks like I will need to find more writing clients so I can swing this expense.

I was a slacker this past year with record keeping and it is going to take a lot of work to get the high school transcripts in order. My breast cancer surgeries and chemo took up the better part of this past school year. It is crunch time. I plan to get the transcripts in order prior to starting school officially in July.

My final challenge with my high school student is to get him ready to take the ACT in the fall. He is almost ready, but there is still work that needs to be done.

7th Grade

Planning for the 7th grade for 2012-2013 is another challenge. I will be using lots of free curriculum, Hippo Campus is a great resource. The Home School Buyers Co-op is another resource for free curriculum. We are focusing on getting ready for high school and preparing for college. Homeschooling has taught me that I need to start preparing in middle school for college. Keeping records begins now.


Keeping to a strict time and financial budget is a must for me. Planning for the fall will require me to balance writing full-time, cancer treatment, and homeschooling full-time. Without a decent planner, I would be lost. My first goal was to go over the household expenses and come up with a budget. That was an eye-opener. With the financial budget in place, I have to work on a time budget.

Time is a commodity that seems to slip away. I know that I will be driving to and from the homeschool co-op and performances at the Walton Arts Center. My cancer treatments, once every three weeks, are two hours away. On treatment days, I cannot work and I am not there to supervise home school. Careful planning is required on my part to keep everything on track.

This year I will need to replace my car and a couple of computers. Right now, this is not in the budget, so I will have to hold several garage sales and keep things very tight in order to find money for this. I do not do car loans, anything I buy will be for cash. There is a lot of freedom in not being a slave to a car payment.

I expect to have all of the planning for fall done by the end of this month. We start homeschooling again in mid-July. With all of my planning, I expect this coming school year to go a lot smoother than years past.



Posted on 20 June '12 by , under Cancer and homeschool, Homeschooling through high school. No Comments.

Cancer changes everything

This Mother’s Day I am thankful to be alive. In November 2011, I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. It is a good thing we caught it early. My battle with breast cancer has taught me many things–mostly that I am blessed with a wonderful family and caring friends. My diagnosis changed everything–homeschool now revolves around my treatment program.


Every 10 days I travel two hours each way for cancer treatment. Sometimes it is labs and a visit with my plastic surgeon. Other times it is for chemo and visits with my oncologist. Very little homeschool gets done on those days. Chemo days are overnights and I am exhausted by the time I get home.


My body hates chemo and all the drugs I have to take to battle its side effects. One drug leaves me with horrific bone pain for a little over a week. Walking and hiking–two activities we love–are put on hold, as just walking across my living room can be a challenge. The same drug leaves me in a drug induced fog for several days–preventing me from driving and doing anything that requires cognitive thought. Although these are my personal challenges to face–it has a direct impact on my family life and that includes homeschool.


Prior to cancer, homeschool was almost a daily routine. This has changed dramatically. My husband and kids have had to take over most of the housekeeping and cooking. One of my kids is a high school junior. He can do a lot on his own, but there are days that he needs help with the material. My other homeschooled son is in the 6th grade. He needs more attention than his older sibling. Homeschool now revolves around how well I am coping with my cancer treatment and trips to the cancer center.


We used to take summers off. My kids are very active in 4H and summertime means camps, conferences and trips. May is when the shooting sports competitions start. There are three weekends that my boys will be competing at the state or national level. Both of them have shooting sports as one of their 4H projects. This year, we will be homeschooling in between travel and camps. It is the only way I will be able to keep both boys on track.


My breast cancer diagnosis has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. Learning to be flexible is the first lesson I had to learn in order to keep homeschooling under control. I have thrown hard fast schedules out the window and instead are taking homeschool on a day by day basis.




Posted on 12 May '12 by , under Cancer and homeschool. No Comments.

Well Planned Day Homeschool Planners on Sale

September is traditionally a back-to-school month. To celebrate the fact that we homeschool our children, The Well Planned Day is offering 25% off of all their planners. You should take a look at the planners.

I own one of  The Well Planned Day planners and it is the most helpful planner I have used. It contains room for scheduling 4 students and a teachers schedule. It allows you to completely organize your household. This planner has made my life a lot less stressful. Weekly catechisms and daily scripture reading is included for those who like to have this. Another bonus is reprints of articles from Home Educating Family Magazine.

Click on the link to find out more about the Well Planned Day. Use code septsale to get the discount.

Hope this is helpful


Posted on 2 September '11 by , under Coupons, News, Reviews, Thrifty Homeschooling. No Comments.

Quarter Mile Math Makes Learning Math Facts Fun

We use Quarter Mile Math in our homeschool. I really like this math program. It is not a full math curriculum–instead it is a fun way for kids to practice their math facts.

The program is simple–Your child competes in a quarter mile race against four other opponents. During the first few rounds, kids race against a computer opponent who is destined to lose (although the child is not aware of this). After each race, one of the computer generated racers is replaced with the child’s last score. After five races–the child is racing against himself in quest for the best score.

The program is a lot more fun than flash cards and other math drills. Check out my full review here.  You can go out to the Quarter Mile Math website to download a free trial.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.



Posted on 26 August '11 by , under Reviews. No Comments.

Review of The Well Planned Day Daily Planner

Every homeschooler needs a planner. Without one, it would be impossible to keep up with everything that needs to be done in a day. I need a planner or calender in order to organize my life. In my world, if something is not on the calender, it does not exist. It has taken me a long time and lots of trial and error to finally find a planner that is almost perfect for me. The Well Planned Day daily planner has everything I want in a planner with a price that is reasonable, that is why I decided to purchase one as my planner for the upcoming year.

Prior to using the Well Planned Day, I had a calender for all events and a separate schedule for homeschool lessons. This can become an issue when a field trip or 4H activity conflicts with the homeschooling. I would have to go back to my lesson planner and change it to match my calender. This is way too much work for me.

The Well Planned Day offers me an all-in-one planner. It has a place to write in everything for the month and it has a weekly view. I really like the budgeting features and shopping lists.  A teacher’s planner is included and you can add student schedules for up to 4 children. Having everything in one place works best for me.

Other features of this planner include inspirational articles on homeschooling from the Home School Family Magazine, report cards and progress reports, and the ability to keep track of grades. This is very important for college bound high school and middle school students. You can easily create a transcript if you use this planner to keep track of the grades and credits.

Thrifty homeschoolers will like the price. The Well Planned Day planner in a spiral binding, is $24.95 as of July 2011. A pdf version where you print out the pages you need is available for less. Other options include planners for high school and middle school students and a binder designed to hold more than one planner. The binder will zip closed to keep everything neat.

Christian homeschoolers in Arkansas will enjoy the weekly view which includes a catechism, proof text for memorization and a quote that relates. The Well Planned Day uses the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Overall, I am impressed with The Well Planned Day daily planner. Although there are some features that I will not use, the overall planner is of great value to me and well worth the price. If you decide to purchase one, let me know what you think.




Posted on 18 July '11 by , under Homeschooling 101, Reviews. No Comments.

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