Google The Unplanned Homeschooler

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review of 'Home for School: The Twins Learn about Homeschooling'

As more and more families decide to pull their kids from public school and give homeschooling a try, there is a need for children's literature that can help them understand and get excited about the experience. That's why I was so excited when I found out that my friend, Gail Nelson, the editor of Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine, was writing just such a book.

Based in part on her own experience homeschooling her twin boys, "Home for School: The Twins Learn about Homeschooling" shares the story of a mom and dad who decide to begin homeschooling after the end of their sons' school year. Letting the boys finish out the year and enjoy the class field day with their friends, the parents in the book surprise them with the news that as of the end of the school year, they will officially be homeschoolers.

The boys have some concerns, like how exactly the whole school at home thing is going to work, but those concerns are addressed in exciting ways, as they learn that they will be able to spend more time researching the things that interest them, taking field trips, and meeting other homeschoolers. And then the giant box of books and science experiments arrives!

I really enjoyed my sneak preview of this book, and I think it will help a lot of new homeschoolers transition more easily from public school. The watercolor illustrations are fun, and kids will definitely be able to relate to the characters, and see that they are not alone in this exciting adventure. If you are new to homeschooling, considering withdrawing your kids from public school, or know someone who is, this book might be a perfect and timely purchase.

Plus, if you act before May 30, 2016 you can enter a drawing to win one of five free copies of this book in a giveaway from Goodreads. Good luck!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thanks for the great times, Disney Infinity team!

My kids took a picture this week to send to the developers on the Disney Infinity team. They just wanted to say thank you for all the work they put into the game over the years, and that they are sorry that they lost their jobs. 

I'll be honest, I wasn't entirely sad to read the announcement earlier this month about the death of Disney Infinity, but that's just because it had become such an obsession around our house since the release of version 2.0.

Our family had completely missed the first wave of the wildly popular gaming phenomenon. We never stood in long lines, anxiously snapping up figures from the original platform, and my kids really showed no interest in spending the kind of money it would take to join in the craze.

But then came the release of Disney Infinity 2.0, with figures from Marvel's Avengers. And Christmas and December birthday gifts from their uncle started them off on a collection that would be hard to resist.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My kids are addicted to McCormick seasonings

I made Mexican crock pot chicken and a pot of brown beans for dinner tonight because I knew I was going to be busy with the Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition sale for much of the evening and I wanted something easy. We had to run out for a bit in the afternoon, so I set the beans on simmer and when we got back, the house smelled just like our favorite Mexican restaurant. The onions and spices in the chicken filled the air with such a savory aroma, anchored by the heavy scent of the simmering beans.

It took no time to shred the chicken and turn it into enchiladas. My son ate three plates full, but he's 14. He can handle it. I joked with the kids, saying, "I'm a GOOD cook!"

My son replied, "Grandma says her mom was a good cook, too."

I agreed, "She was!" And then I noted that she used McCormick, too.

McCormick seasonings are kind of a thing around our house.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Review of 'Brick Themed Activities for the Year' by Gypsy Road

This month, I was privileged to review a copy of "Brick Themed Activities for the Year," a bundle of unit studies to do throughout the year with your little Lego fans. All three of my kids are Lego fans, so I was excited to try out some of the lessons with my youngest.

If you like holidays, and you like Lego, this is definitely a product meant for you. With holidays from New Year's Eve through Christmas, and even selections for birthdays and back-to-school, you can truly use Lego blocks and minifigs to learn through the whole year. 

It's springtime now, but my daughter wanted to check out the Halloween activities. There were clever writing prompts, math pages that related to real world situations, coloring pages and more. Best of all, they featured some of her favorite minifigs and included ideas for projects she could build. 

Look for this fun package of lessons below in the Unit Studies #2 bundle in this year's Build Your Bundle sale. (affiliate link) But hurry, the sale ends in just a few days! After that, the pack will be back at its regular price on the Gypsy Road homeschool blog.

One Week Only - Ends 5/23/16 - Save 91% on the Unit Studies #2 Bundle

The Unplanner, 2016 - 2017 Edition is available NOW!

Are you looking for an organizer that won't overwhelm you? I was suffering from serious planner anxiety, brought on by homeschool planners with an excess of pages and blanks that I never seemed to be able to fill out, and schedules that too often went awry. That's why I created The Unplanner, a homeschool organizer that helps users record what they did more than what they plan to do. 

Are you looking for an organizer that won't overwhelm you? I was suffering from serious planner anxiety, brought on by homeschool planners with an excess of pages and blanks that I never seemed to be able to fill out, and schedules that too often went awry. That's why I created The Unplanner, a homeschool organizer that helps users record what they did more than what they plan to do.

With an attendance log for up to six kids and both a Month at a Glance calendar to schedule important events and weekly calendars to record what you did each day or week, The Unplanner can keep you organized just enough to stay on track without overdoing it. With easy to use pages for recording the curriculum you use, the books your kids read, and those special learning adventures like field trips and experiments, you'll be able to remember all the good stuff, too!

You can get your copy of The Unplanner for just $7.99 in my store. That's less than most printable planners would cost to print and bind, and way less than most other professionally bound planners on the market! Buy directly from CreateSpace today, or from Amazon later in the week.

A review of 'Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism'

One of my most memorable experiences as a homeschooler was taking my children to see the traveling exhibit of Claude Monet's water lilies triptych at the St. Louis Art Museum. These three massive paintings, each canvas 7 feet tall and 14 feet wide, are owned by three separate museums in the United States. They had not been shown together since the 1970s, and the chance to see them as they were meant to be was an opportunity we could not miss.

Claude Monet's Water Lilies from the St. Louis Art Museum

I was awestruck, standing in a darkened room with a limited number of guests, silently taking in the beauty of an artist's work I had only seen in pictures and prints. I took my glasses off and looked at the canvases as Monet would have looked at them, or close to it, as my vision is not quite as impaired as his was when he painted these masterpieces in his old age. As the colors converged in my blurry sight, the images took on new life and I could almost believe that if I reached out my hand, it would permeate the water. I felt deeply connected to the art and the man.

Not everyone has a chance to see incredible art up close and have this sort of moving experience. I know, growing up in rural Oklahoma, my opportunities were limited, at least as compared to those who live close enough to stop in at a major museum whenever they'd like.

Maybe that's why I am so impressed with the Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism unit study by Beth Napoli of Loving Learning Freely. This interactive unit study introduces kids to artists like Monet, daVinci and Picasso, whose work they probably already recognize, but also includes artists like Klimt and Dali to introduce forms which may be less familiar.

Gustav Klimt's Kirche in Cassone

With several artists to study, each representing a different and unique style, students can become familiar with a wide range of artistic movements, spanning more than four centuries. And the interactive elements in the study will help kids feel more in touch with the art than just flipping through the pages of a book.

Your students may not have a chance to see the work of these great masters in a museum any time soon, but they are sure to get excited about building and sharing their own virtual gallery. Having completed a unit study like this one, your whole family will have a more complete appreciation of the experience the next time you get to visit a museum in person.

Look for the Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism unit study in the 2016 Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition sale from May 16 through May 22. (affiliate link)

For one week only, it is part of the Fine Arts bundle, where you can also find my History of Rock and Roll unit study and several other awesome products all at one stunningly low price. Get the whole bundle at 90 percent off the list price before it's gone for good! Oh, and if you pick up another bundle to go with it, you'll get a third one for free.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The hidden costs of free virtual public school

You've heard the saying, "All magic comes with a price!" That's what I think of every time I hear about a family choosing virtual public school because it is free.

Yes, the state-run online public school options are usually free of charge, come with a full set of curriculum and certified teachers to instruct your kids. Many even include money to spend on extracurricular activities or computers for your kids to use at home. It's hard to ignore the extensive prize packages that accompany enrollment in a virtual public school.

But like magic, all education comes with a price, and what appears to be free always comes with strings attached. Here are just some of the hidden costs of virtual public school.