Monday, August 18, 2014

The Omnibus is Back!

This is the third year of i Homeschool Network's ebook Omnibus.  And it is starting today! This is a huge sale with all kinds of homeschooling ebooks as well as mp3's-- this year there are 83 (yes, eighty-three) ebooks and 24 audios, and all can be purchased at once for the price of only $25.

And this sale truly has "something for everyone," as this photo shows . . .

There are curriculum resources such as an entomology unit study, Middle Ages history book and notebook pages, help for writing essays, Trees fact cards, and Gentle Shepherd's Picture and Writing: Older Ages creative writing work pages.

There are books with plans for preschool . . . several different idea books and complete preschool curriculum resources-- such as 101 Independent Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Mary Ellen Bream, God's Little Explorers Preschool Curriculum by Stacie Nelson, and Raising Rock Stars Preschool by Carisa Hinson.

There are all kinds of homeschooling planners . . . if you've been looking for ways to organize school and household plans, there are a variety of approaches presented among the ebooks in this Omnibus.

There are books with art projects, cooking, and lots of valuable homeschool advice (Help! I'm Homeschooling, by Tricia Hodges, Homeschooling 101 by Kris Bales, Homeschooling High School by Marie-Clair Moreau, Simply Homeschool by Karen DeBeus, Large Family Homeschooling by Amy Roberts, and more).

"Omnibus" means a volume with several items previously published separately. In this case, they are still separately published but all available at one time and place . . .

These ebooks are in both PDF and Kindle format, and if you'd like to have a DVD with the entire collection, you can purchase this for an additional $8.

Any way you look at it, this price is an amazing offer . . . and it will be available for this week only (the sale ends at 11:59 pm ET on Sunday, August 24, 2014).

To see more info and a list of all the items in this year's Omnibus, take a look here.

The downloads for purchased ebooks will only be available until September 25; please do not delay in downloading them.  See the FAQ or contact iHomechool Network for more infomation about downloading.

DVD's can be purchased until Sept 20 (and can only be purchased by those who have first purchased the usual Omnibus format).

The deadline for refunds is Sept 5 (Positively no refunds will be given if the file host shows that you have downloaded any files).

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fact Hunts! for research

I always looked forward to "Fact Hunt" day when teaching my kids, because of two things-- first, I knew it was an open-ended, interesting assignment that they would enjoy, and second, I would get to read the facts they collected and enjoy looking over the info; sometimes "ordinary" and sometimes very unusual.

We usually did this assignment once a week, with kids who were in middle school.  They would take a certain topic-- for example, "citrus fruits"-- and use whatever sources they wanted (since modern times and the internet this has always been online searches, but some of our oldest kids did use books back in the day . . .), making a list of 10 facts about the topic.

There were no requirements other than finding 10 facts-- they didn't have to write complete sentences, or find any certain types of things.  The whole idea was just to give them a short research project, to get them used to the process of doing "research."  (You know, the kind of thing you need to be doing when you're writing reports and research papers, and also just learning in general.)

To keep time and a schedule from getting in the way of just enjoying the assignment, the kids would do the fact hunt as the last thing in their morning schoolwork . . . so if it took them a few minutes longer or shorter, there were no worries or pressure.

Since this was one of our most favorite writing projects to do, I wanted to make a short ebook about it, with lists of suggestions for topics.  So now, (drumroll, please) a "Fact Hunts" ebook is ready!  And even more awesome, it is also a freebie, available to anyone on our website.

Here is what the cover looks like; there are 12 pages total, with ideas given for 4 years of fact hunts.
Come and see! Please download and try these out, if this sounds like something you might like to include in your homeschool.  And also, please share the freebies page link (but not the ebook itself; we'd like people to be downloading it from the website) and let your friends know about this research writing resource!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Home Learning Ideas -- Age Group Pages

When in the last few years of teaching our own nine children, I wanted to write out some ideas for home teaching.  I thought of some of the things we'd learned, and what might be helpful to others when thinking about the upcoming school year, and lesson plans.

So I wrote some articles with "ideas" for home learning.  They have been up on my Gentle Shepherd website for awhile, but just recently I noticed they needed a few typo corrections and some revisions.  So the newly revised versions are all up now--

There are five different documents; for preschool, kindergarten, primary grades, upper elementary, and middle school.  All of these are downloadable from the website (follow the instructions at the top of the page, to download), and they can also be read on the site.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Styrofoam Prints -- Easy to Do, with Great Results!

I was looking for a technique to use for printing that would be somewhat similar to lithography (a design is etched into something, then ink-- or paint-- is applied, then paper is pressed on).  But I didn't want to use regular oily printing inks, and didn't want to have to purchase expensive special materials for scratching into . . .

After a little searching, I found this idea: printing using styrofoam from styrofoam picnic plates!  This looked very interesting.  Styrofoam plates are easy to find, at very little cost. Some styrofoam containers could also be repurposed for this, such as meat trays or fast food holders.  Using a large styrofoam plate gives a pretty big flat area (the center) -- so the tilted edges can be cut off, and this flat area can be used for making a drawing.

Using a pen cap that is kind of pointed (not the pen tip itself; that would cut into the styrofoam instead of pushing it down), a simple design or picture can be drawn in the styrofoam.

Then paint can be added, by brushing some on with a paintbrush, and then a print can be made by either pressing paper onto the styro etching surface, or picking up the etched and painted styrofoam piece and pressing it onto paper.

As you can see, you'll get a mirror image -- so if you want to put words in the design, keep it in mind that you'll need to etch in a mirror image of the word (write each letter backwards, and write from right to left).

Each print made with this technique is a mono print; you can reapply paint to make more of the same, but if you try to make more than one without repainting you will probably not have a very vivid print.  Here are some examples: the tulip on the left is a first print, and on the right is a second print made without repainting.  Sometimes a kind of faded appearance does look nice; so you can experiment with doing reprints, if you want to achieve a lighter look.

So the next time you have some leftover styrofoam dishes or containers in the house, remember "styro-printing!"  You might like to repurpose some containers and try this out; or you can easily find a package of styrofoam plates at the grocery store-- I was glad to find that this material was so easy to make designs in (with a blunt, rounded but kind of pointy instrument-- a knitting needle or crochet hook could also work for this; I think another time I'll try using those . . .)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Savouring the Past but Moving Forward as a Post-Homeschooling Mom

This summer is the beginning of a new season for me . . . life as a post-homeschooling mom.  I think I will always see myself as a "homeschool mom" just because it has been my life for so many years (30 at least -- my oldest child will be 33 this year).  But things will be different now . . . just as being a mother never really changes but once your children are grown you have a different kind of relationship with them, there will be different ways now, for me to use my interests in learning and education, and to apply my own creative energies.

I'm going to keep designing and completing some more curriculum projects -- because I have a "ton" of files in my computer that are just screaming to get out . . . and besides that, it is just something I like to do.

I'd also like to really take the time to get training in graphic design things -- like uses of Adobe Illustrator/InDesign/Photoshop.  And I have some books for this already . . . they are here, just waiting for me . . .

Since I like doing artwork, I'll probably continue to experiment with various techniques and ideas, just as my own work instead of leading/teaching my kids.  But I also have the opportunity to volunteer in my grandchildren's classroom for art, so that will be a prized activity once a month :)

These past few years, my son James and I have really enjoyed learning about music history-- dabbling in it, coming across some fascinating things and interesting styles and people . . . and I will plan to continue this in my own way, as I write more posts for my Notes and Notions music adventure blog.

And while he is pursuing his own individual interests in music -- playing guitar, bass, piano, harmonica, singing and whatever else he decides to do either on his own or with others, I am going to be continuing independently on my own musical path, as a songwriter and composer.

So just because I'm finished with homeschooling, it doesn't mean this blog is going to end. Yes, it has been a "homeschooling blog," but I'm still here, still wanting to explore and learn and discover . . .  so I will be sharing bits and pieces of that journey here from this point forward . . .

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A New Literary Device Every Week? The Writer's Toolbox

Have you ever heard of "synecdoche"?  How about "chiasmus," "epistrophe," and "metonymy"?  I had no idea there are so many different types of literary devices -- tools that can be used in writing, to give clarity and embellishmentsa to communication.

Most people are familiar with a few of the well-known literary devices -- like simile, metaphor, irony, and alliteration.  But if you'd like to be introduced to more, just take a look at The Writer's Toolbox, by Patricia and Megan Samuelsen.  This mother-daughter team has written a book that can be used in introducing students to thirty-- yes, THIRTY-- different literary devices.

The format is to give examples, using short excerpts, from various literary texts, and with additional explanations, for one literary device at a time.  After demonstrating how it is used, there are exercises to help the student gain greater familiarity-- he/she is shown more short excerpts and asked to comment on how these are using the literary device.  Then, in a further exercise, the student writes sentences using the literary device.

This book is to be used with high school students, but I couldn't resist using a few of the lessons with James, starting in sixth grade.  We went through some of the more commonly known literary devices, and after doing the book exercises, he made a sentence and picture to demonstrate each writing tool, on a small wall poster.  Here is his first poster; we added to the poster with each new lesson.

And here is his second poster.

We revisited these lessons this year (eighth grade), just briefly, introducing one more of the literary devices.  The book is interesting, and the lessons have helped James learn quite a few tools for writing.

I can see that if used at the high school level, learning these literary devices would be helpful both for writing and for analysis of literary works.  They also present some very unusual vocabulary-- words like "liotes" and "polysyndeton."

The devices are arranged in four groups, and there is a written review quiz at the end of each group.  An appendix gives definitions and examples for all the literary devices, in alphabetical order.  And in another appendix there are instructions for two games (for a group of students) that can be played to practice the names and definitions.

The Writer's Toolbox is available online, at

How about it-- would you like some "synecdoche" with your "personification" and "alliteration"?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Mermaids Have Arrived!

The mermaids are here!  Yes, they're ready to swim right up to your couch, table, or felt board!  I made this design a couple of months ago, when our young granddaughter had a "Little Mermaid" birthday party. Then a little while later our son was in a youth theater version of Disney's Little Mermaid (he was a sailor and also changed costume to become a "tentacle" assistant to Ursula).  So I made a lot more mermaids and donated some to the souvenirs table at the play . . . and now there are some of these watery world creatures up in my Etsy shop, Fuzzlemania.
They all have long hair, but for some it is straight (like the one above) and for others it is wavy (like these two below).  I used the basic person shape pattern from Fuzzle Family Felt, and adapted it to have a mermaid tail instead of feet.

Here's a picture of the "Mermaid Assembly Line" in process:

As I said before, these mermaids can swim anywhere!  on a couch (as in this picture), table, rug, bed, or even on the kitchen floor (they are very magical and great at swimming); do you know any young girls who might like to play with them?