Where to Go on Facebook to Swap Homeschool Stuff

swapSometimes it helps to have a little direction instead of the trial and error of investigating groups only to find they are not what you were looking for. If you meander around Facebook regularly, you may find these groups are worthwhile checking into to swap homeschooling books and materials.  Some of the groups offer the materials free, just for the cost of shipping.

This is something we investigated as a possibility for Schoolin’ Swag, and just decided it was not a direction we wanted to go in. So here is some help if you are looking to change things up in an economical way (aren’t we all?):

https://www.facebook.com/groups/HomeschoolFreecycle/ Homeschool Freecycle

https://www.facebook.com/groups/hsucs/ Homeschool Used Curriculum Swap

https://www.facebook.com/groups/239853779482578/ Used Homeschool Books and Curriculum for Sale or Free

https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolBargainsAndMore Homeschool Bargains and More

https://www.facebook.com/groups/hscurriculumswap/ Homeschool Curriculum Swap

https://www.facebook.com/groups/158947230864513/ Homeschool Swap: Canada

https://www.facebook.com/TheHomeschoolSWAP The Homeschool SWAP

https://www.facebook.com/groups/138629366323079/ Homeschool penpals/postcard exchange/geo-cac/book exchange/activity bagswap

https://www.facebook.com/groups/222126747798926/ Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace

https://www.facebook.com/groups/215568998597147/ Used Homeschool Curriculum Sale

Also, check out our Schoolin’ Swag Pinterest board for websites outside of Facebook where you can buy, sell and trade homeschool curricula!


Homeschooling for Newbies

newteacherFirst–you can DO this!

What is available online these days for homeschoolers is SO much more than I had starting out. I remember feeling rather lost and overwhelmed, even with the few options that were offered at the time!  Here are my suggestions for getting yourself off the launch pad:

  1. Decide why you wish to homeschool. Write those reasons down and put them somewhere that is easily accessible. This will be your version of a “mission statement”. The days will come when you question yourself, and you need to have these for reference! Trust me on this.
  2. Check with the Home School Legal Defense Association site, so that you know what the requirements are for your state.
  3. Get yourself a supportive network. You need this. Of course, I’ll recommend my group, Schoolin’ Swag, on Facebook! You need a place to talk with veteran homeschoolers. A place where you will feel safe to ask any question, and voice your concerns.
  4. Do a learning style evaluation for your child(ren). I wish I had done this at the start. It would have saved me some frustration and also some cash! Find out how your child learns best, so that the purchases you make will be investments and not wasted money. I also suggest that you do this evaluation for yourself, because your learning style affects your teaching style. You may very well have to think outside your own box to most effectively teach your kids.
  5. Get shopping! 🙂 This is the fun part. I love free resources, because if I find along the way that something is not a good fit, I’ve not lost anything except a little time in trying it out. There is SO much available now online that is free and also good quality. I will be posting many items here as I have time.  For now, scoot over to Schoolin’ Swag. Every day we post freebies and blog posts that are guaranteed to bless your socks off. We have many knowledgeable people there, including my three Admins, to help you sort things out. Click on the Files tab, because there are lots of wonderful things there…and you can also use the search option at upper right (use it just like Google) to look for topics of interest.

There you go! You are already off to a great start! Stay tuned for more great encouragement!

What do you DO all day??

multitaskerIt is not the norm to be a SAHM (stay at home mom) anymore.  June Cleaver is a thing of the past. The economy is such that many ladies feel the need to work to make ends meet. If you are one of those ladies, who has to work and then come home to juggle the rest, I congratulate you!  We have more single moms than ever before.  Just in those times I’ve had my husband out of town, I have felt the challenges…know that I’m in the stands rooting for you, too!!  I am grateful I can do what I do.  We do without a lot of stuff to make it happen, but I suspect when it’s all said and done, years from now none of us will care much.

Because what I do is uncommon, it is often misunderstood. SAHM’s are viewed as unambitious sometimes. Lazy, maybe. Living a luxurious  lifestyle as we eat bonbons and watch soaps.  That is not what my life looks like.  Here is what my day looks like:

  • About 7am: Make bed. Do meds. Do exercises. Put tea on to brew. Grab my daily cup of “go juice”  and try to scoot through my Bible study time (typically daily reading sent to me via email from ESV, also Valley of Vision, and The Quiet Place, before the youngest gets up (she’s an early riser). Maybe…hopefully… get dressed? No, I don’t wear my pearls to wash dishes or my Sunday shoes to stock the linen closet.  I’m not June Cleaver. lol
  • 8-9am: Grab some muffins and tea. Check if anyone needs help on my Facebook homeschooling group (I pop on throughout the day to keep my sanity–I am online for most of our main school stuff anyway– since that is usually the only adult conversation I have most days, my husband being gone working most of the time), and post the freebies and deals for the day.  Open Cozi calendar and check what each child has scheduled for school.  Open Time 4 Learning and check that yesterday’s progress was accomplished for the oldest two, and see if any papers need to be printed for today’s lessons. Open Easy Peasy and see if anything needs to be printed for the youngest, and/or gather supplies that are needed. Get Katie’s desk set up and papers laid out for the day.
  • 9-10am: Get kids through chores (collectively, they take care of making their beds and keeping their rooms picked up, trash, cat box, bathroom,  dishwasher and the oldest does her own laundry), fed, ready for school day. Do devotions with Katie and review her ABC memory verses thus far. Older kids get started on their school day.
  • 10-12 noon: (not necessarily in this order): Guide Katie through all of her subjects, plus handwriting her signature in cursive and memory verse in printing. Throw laundry in. Clean up kitchen from breakfast. Help Michael along with any subjects in which he needs help. Discipleship (see Deut. 6:6,7). Throw laundry in dryer. Referee (our situation allows our kids to know each other pretty well…which is a blessing, and a curse. 😉 ).  Answer the phone (my husband is a pastor, so the phone is very busy). Plan supper. Read with Katie and do review of phonics and sight word cards.  Referee again. Throw more laundry in. Check on our oldest to see if she needs help (she keeps her own schedule, and must turn in things by 10pm). Sweep kitchen. Tidy, pick up, tidy some more (having everyone home 24/7 means your home is never officially “tidy”…lol).
  • Noon-3pm-ish: Lunch, PE (which can mean anything from going to the park, walking, biking, Wii Fit, trampoline, or even this), check spelling words, have the oldest demonstrate her weekly ASL skills, assign engineering project for middle kiddo, finish up any remaining school work. More discipleship. Check records in Time 4 Learning to be sure lessons are completed and check grades. Experiments and art projects. Try to remember the rest of the laundry! Select elective activities for each day’s lesson plans for next week (Basic Cooking, Biblical Counseling, American Sign Language, Engineering). Tidy some more. Make shopping list for Friday. Answer the phone some more. Referee some more. Sweep the floor again. lol
  • 3-5pm: Check the homeschool group for needs. Fix supper. Plan and gather resources for tomorrow’s school day. Begin to plan the lesson for Jr. Church, decide the snack, print any necessary resources. Make mental notes for Sunday’s bulletin. Tidy…again. 😉
  • 6-7pm: Supper
  • 7-9ish: Relax with the family. Work on personal writing projects.
  • 9-10: Bed time.  Mentally go through the day, realize that although you felt busier than a one-armed paper hanger, you still didn’t get everything done…and once more there are crayons, shoes, toys, socks, scattered hither and yon. Tuck everyone in. This is when we have some of our most meaningful conversations.
  • 10pm: Fall into bed, fairly used up, but grateful.

Lather, rinse, repeat.  What does your day look like, SAHM? 🙂

The One-Armed Paper Hanger Lives!

The only things I needed to buy for school this year…and it came to less than $30! 🙂

Oh yes…I’m still here. 🙂  Things have been a whirlwind here lately, so I’m having to juggle some priorities.

As you may know, in the space of a few weeks, we candidated at a church, which called my husband as their pastor, we packed, cleaned, and moved all our stuff (with the gracious help of friends).  We then had VBS at our church (the Lord blessed with a wonderful turn out for both the children’s morning program and the teen’s evening activities).  I was corralling kids from 9 until noon, unpacking like a crazy woman all afternoon, and then back to the church for the teens from 6:30-9:30.  Very busy days!

Now, we have only a few boxes remaining in the house, and things are feeling more like home.  This past week, I put my nose to the grindstone and got (at least) the first month of lesson plans done for school…which we’ve bumped to the first week in September, all things considered.  Wow, so grateful for amazing internet tools!  I began combing through resources several months ago to set up lessons for all three kids (1st, 7th and 10th grades).  The Lord helped me to find wonderful things (every bit of it free) as well as a superabundance of things I did not need, but simply could not allow to disappear back into the abyss of  I’ll-never-find-it-again-unless-I-bookmark-it-but-how-many-things-does-a-person-really-need-in-their-favorites. So I started “Schoolin’ Swag.”

If you are on Facebook, and have an interest in homeschooling, come join the group!  We have 300+ members now, with new friends being added every day.  Each day there are new freebies, tips and deals from all over the web.  I figured it was one way to help others who were in the same boat as I was…feeling overwhelmed, combing through scads of URL’s (some dead, some great, some not so much).

I’ll just share two tools here that I have really enjoyed.  The first is from GoalForIt.  This site offers free chore charts, with lots of templates and options.  There are very cute ones, and some that are more streamlined for tweens and teens.  Here is a screen shot of our Katie’s, for example:

The kids get to choose what buttons they want for checking off their responsibilities, and they can earn “moolah” if you wish (which translates into minutes for computer time in our house).

Another tool I am grateful for is Home School, Inc.  At this free site, I have set up all my lesson plans for all three students, and the various options allow me to print attendance records, report cards, etc.  I can keep track of each student’s progress daily, and it gives them one easy place (for older students) to independently move through their day, checking off their work as they go.  I just entered instructions for each course, and URL’s for where they need to go to find their work for the day.  It required a few hours of my time, but it will help things to go much more smoothly when school has begun.  Here is a screen shot of my main page for all of our courses:

Here is a “School Today” page for our 10th grader:

This view shows here how many courses she has each day. If she clicks on “View Week,” it gives her the week’s assignments at a glance. She also has the option of clicking the down arrow on any given day to see that day’s work. The small boxes next to each date indicate if that day’s work has been complete.

So this gives you a pretty good idea about where I’ve been.  Looking forward to a great year. Once the dust settles, I’ll share more postings with you here.  TTFN! 🙂

The Old Chalkdust Trail–Writing Challenges

I don’t really feel motivated at this point in my life to begin another blog, but with starting up the “Schoolin’ Swag“* Facebook page, the creative educational juices have been flowing.  So, for now, I’ll post a few things in the category, “The Old Chalkdust Trail”. 🙂

Today, I want to share something that I have begun trying with our son, Michael.  Michael has some reading disability issues, and some ways that it translates into his writing (with backwards b, p, d, q, 2, 5, 6,9).  He has hated writing.  It requires an incredible amount of focus for him.

About a year ago, I noticed that Michael liked reading a whole lot better when it was “compartmentalized”…like in a comic book format.  I checked out all kinds of comic books from the library (he really loved Missile Mouse, so we bought him a couple for Christmas).  Then, just recently, I began wondering if the same thing might help his writing.

Michael is very creative in his story-making skills.  Here is an excerpt from a how-to essay he put together a couple months ago, entitled, “How to Make a Galactic Grilled Cheese”:

It’s lunch time, space cadet. You are hungry.  You can’t even boil water!  How will you make lunch?  Oh no!  I am here to save the day!  I am Grilled Cheese Man!

Your first mission is to retrieve cyber bread and space butter.  Your second mission is to find a flying frying pan.  Of course, your prime target is moon cheese.

Here are the steps to deploy your galactic grilled cheese sandwich:

First, energize your flying frying pan.  Setting number 6.

Second, get the cyber bread and space butter out.  Install space butter on one side of one piece of cyber bread.  Then put the cyber bread on the flying frying pan, space butter side facing south.

Third, put two pieces of moon cheese on the cyber bread that is on the flying frying pan.

Fourth, take another piece of cyber bread, put space butter on one side, and put it on top of the moon cheese that is melting in the flying frying pan.  Confirm that space butter side is facing north.

Fifth, take space dispatula and rotate entire sandwich continuously until it turns solar golden on both north and south surfaces.

Last, remove galactic sandwich with dispatula, place on food saucer and wait for de-heatification.  Then dispose through your food portal.

Clever thinking isn’t the problem…it is the execution (and believe me, he feels it in the truest sense of that word) of writing it down.  I have found that he does better when he skips the handwritten draft and sits down at the keyboard.  It sort of bypasses the vortex machine in his brain and, because he knows the keyboard by rote, it flows a whole lot more smoothly this way for him.  However, I don’t want him to bail totally on the actual pencil-in-hand process.  So…

This semester I asked Michael if he’d like to try making his own comic strip.  He jumped at it, and I was overjoyed!  He began with very simple ones.  Here is a cute sample:

I make him do them in pencil, so we can edit and learn grammar/spelling.  This has been a great project.  Perhaps, if you are encountering some similar challenges, it may be something you’d like to try as well!  We are gradually getting longer installments of this project.  He is saving them all in a notebook.  He excitedly tells his siblings about his creations…so I think we’re on the right track!  I thank the Lord for opening my eyes to this opportunity to help my son succeed. Grace.

*If you are on Facebook, join the “Schoolin’ Swag” page…lots of freebies and resources and helpful chat!  Over 100 links so far! It’s an open group, just click on the linked words. 🙂

Schoolin' Swag–Win a Copy of "If" by Amy Carmichael

I haven’t blogged much about homeschooling because for the past two years we’ve been doing a virtual academy.  This next school year, however, due to an overdose of standardized testing, our son’s special needs, and some other factors, we’ve decided to hit the “old chalk dust trail” once more.

So, in my quest for good, solid, cheap (or even better…FREE) curriculum, I began to accumulate quite a list of goodies.  I just couldn’t keep it to myself, so I started a group on Facebook called “Schoolin’ Swag”.  If you are on Facebook and are interested, just search the name and request to be added.  It is an open group.  We’ve been having a lot of fun, and already have in excess of 80 great links for helps, printables, curriculum and more!

Something else going on in the group is a contest to name our homeschool.  Currently, it is “Heeney Homeschool” (I know… *yawn*).  Join the group, offer some suggestions for our school (if we name it, we’ll get attached to it, right? 😉 ), and you may win a copy of “If” by Amy Carmichael.

Come join us!