Monday, April 13, 2009






From Today to May 15th:
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I was searching for chore charts for my boys the other day and found the most amazing reward chart program ever!!! The program is called My Reward Board. You enter your children's names and how many points they can earn per week. There are individual charts for each child with pictures for those that can not read yet. There are chores cleaning rooms, feeding pets, just about anything a child might have to do around the house. There are also health related chores such as brushing teeth and taking a bath. There are behavior "chores" such as no back talking and no fighting. Each child gets their own "room" that has all kinds of activities as well as their chart, scoreboard, and even a dresser to keep their reward coupons and certificates of achievement. The chart is so much fun that even my 13 year old runs downstairs every night to get his points in. There are four different animated "stickers" that whoop and cheer when the child puts them on the board. This is especially entertaining to my four year old. My seven year old absolutely loves the point system and that you get a special reward for a perfect day when you do all your chores.

Here is a picture of the chart below:

There is an additional chart that is for goal setting for things such as potty training or grades. This program has so many features and activities that I haven't even had a chance to play with them all. There is an allowance piggy bank feature that I haven't even had a chance to fully investigate yet. At the end of the week they get to "cash" in all their points and there is even a feature to remove undeserved "smileys" and another to give demerits or take away points. There is a treasure box in each child's room, when they click on the treasure box the reward coupons move across the screen and play fun music that pumps up your child's adrenaline. These coupons are already set up for you, however, you can add your own special coupons, delete existing coupons and you can change the point requirements on the default coupons. I am absolutely in love with this program and my middle child who used to whine about doing chores, now whines if he has trouble getting them all done so he can have a "perfect" day!! What a change from over a week ago when I couldn't get him to even pick up his dirty clothing. Their rooms are cleaned, they complete all their daily grooming without being asked, and I have not had to yell at them once to get them done!!

You get a free 15 day trial to the program and I recommend every one of my readers try this program. You will not regret it and for only $19.99 after the trial it is pennies to relieve me of the stress of nagging and grounding for chores not done!! Thanks My Reward Board!! Click on the logo below so you too can start your children on this amazing reward program!!

Interview With a True Nebraska Homeschool Pioneer

My first homeschooling interview was with Janna Ryan. I have known Janna through our local homeschooling group and was thrilled to have a chance to find out more about her family and their homeschooling life.

HP: How long have you been homeschooling and what grades do you teach?

JR: I was homeschooled myself starting the year it became legal in Nebraska, we were one of the original families. I was in 4th grade and homeschooled all the way through high school. I have 6 children of my own now, the oldest is 12 and they have never schooled anywhere but at home with me.

HP: Janna, since you were homeschooled as a child how has that affected how you homeschool? What do you do differently? What methods that your mother used do you currently use with your children?

JR: The biggest thing it did for me personally I think is that it blew the argument "What about socialization?" out of the water for me as far as my own kids were concerned. I learned first hand that socialization is all up to you, if you don't want your child to socialize - they won't. If you want them to socialize - you will find ways for them to do so. My siblings and I were some of the most socialized people I knew when I was in high school.

I strongly encourage reading to my kids and I lead by example just like my mom did with us. My 3 oldest (12, 10, 9) are all very good readers and nothing makes me smile more than waking up in the morning to find my 10 year old son sitting at the dining room table reading a book because he has finished his worksheets for the day (he's a morning person :-)

Good or bad, I'm not quite as stringent with the curriculum as my mom was. That may change over the next couple years.

HP: What is your all-time favorite curriculum or homeschool book that you have used in teaching your children?

JR: Abeka's 3rd and 4th grade history books are the best history books of all time. The 3rd grade is biographies of great Americans which helps build a love for learning about people's lives and the 4th grade is a fantastic American history book.

HP: What is a curriculum/book that you tried but were not happy with or did not work with your children and their learning styles.

JR: My Father's World is a great program that works wonderful for many families - it was so not right for me! The 3rd grade math book did NOT work for my oldest daughter when she was that age - the format of the book was very unfriendly to her mind - I think we got through 12 pages of math in 2 months, amid many tears and much screaming. I changed math curriculum and life went on. Now my 2nd daughter comes along and picks up that same book (minus the 12 pages) and zips right along no problem. Just goes to show that it is not a particular book as much as a particular child.

HP: If you could give a first time homeschooler or a mom thinking about homeschooling one tip or resource to get started what you tell them.

JR: My #1 tip: You are not teaching in a public school - don't run it like a public school. You don't have to teach from 8-3 and make them sit in a desk all day and flexibility is the biggest advantage homeschoolers have - so be flexible!

HP: Do you operate a home business or work outside of the home?

JR: I own a Christian Dance Studio that is actually connected to our home (or vice versa). I teach classes 3 days a week from 4-9, but I get to have my 5 oldest children in class with me periodically through the days so that is fun and I love what I do. I am fortunate that I can supplement our income doing something I love without ever really leaving home.

HP: I know like many homeschoolers you get the socialization question. How do you respond to those questions?

JR: I kind of answered this at the beginning of the interview, but to elaborate... I have 6 kids - they are each others best friends, if we never left home they would still be socialized beyond what many children are. But they also go to Children's Church on Sundays and Wednesday nights, dance classes with many other children 2-3 days a week, 2 of them are in gymnastics, my oldest babysits, they have many friends (homeschooled and public schooled) that they spend the night with (our house or theirs) and they make friends everywhere they go. I simply don't see that as a problem in our lives :-)

HP: Anything else you would like to tell other homeschoolers or those that are thinking about homeschooling? ;-)

JR: If you are even considering homeschooling then chances are high that God is putting it on your heart. Who better to teach your children than their mother - the person who knows them better than anyone? Don't underestimate yourself or your kids!

Janna Ryan is an excellent mother and homeschooler and is one of the many families that inspired me to start homeschooling my children. She is well known for her wonderful dance instruction and I absolutely love her blog. She features various authors throughout the year and has amazing book giveaways!!

Visit Janna's Sites Below:

Another Amazing Spelling Program

I had the extraordinary privilege to try out another spelling program this week. It is called SpellQuizzer. SpellQuizzer is a product of TedCo Software which was founded by Daniel Hite. This program will work with ANY curriculum that you are currently using and is so user friendly that even your children can input their own spelling lists. It's like a paperless flashcard system that your child can do over and over until they master their spelling lists. By using a simple microphone which can be purchased at Walmart or Radioshack, you can dictate the words and sentences right into the computer so that your child can hear them. If you do not have a microphone you can still use this program by putting in "hint" messages to help your child recognize the word. I really found this feature to have multiple purposes. Not only is this an excellent spelling program, you can use it to enhance your child's vocabulary!! Just simply put the meaning of the word in and have your child type the word!! It's that simple!! You could also drill math facts and one word or small phrase answers to almost EVERY class!! Below is the main screen to the program. Simple and to the point without having to have an instruction manual to operate the program.

Next is the main Quiz Screen. This is void of distracting graphics and allows the child to focus completely on the task at hand. There are also fun sound when the child masters or misses the word.
SpellQuizzer is a spelling program for helping children learn their spelling words. SpellQuizzer is spelling software that helps students practice their vocabulary. As I mentioned the program can also be used for drilling facts such as one word answers to your child's history tests, multiplication facts, and much, much more!! Plus did I mention that you get a free trial to the program!! What could be better than that!

Crazy about Veggietales!!

VeggieTales - Healthy Family Entertainment!

Okay who doesn't know Veggietales and hasn't seen at least one of their cartoons. We are all huge fans of the Veggietales series and love absolutely EVERY one!! My favorites would have to be Madame Blueberry and Esther. Veggietales is produced by Big Idea which also produces 3-2-1 Penguins. My children absolutely love those videos as well!! If you click on the graphic above so you can have even more fun!! Big Idea has created a website with games, information and even a store where you can purchase videos and products. There is even a section for parents!! Check it out today!!! Don't forget to play Flight over Bumblyberg while you are at it!! It's a great break from homeschooling when it's too cold to send them outside!!

Our Favorite Spelling Program

This year we decided to go with something a little different that our usual Abeka Spelling program. My amazing homeschool friend and neighbor brought this book over to my house for me to review. I absolutely fell in love with it at first site. The program, Spelling Power, was written by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon, who left her job as a teacher at a private school to homeschool her daughters. One of her daughters had trouble with spelling like she had as a child so she began to research and experiment wtih methods that would help her daughter. I will briefly sum up how this curriculum works. First of all you pretest your child to see what their spelling level is. There are two tests, and once those are finished you are directed where to start your child for the year. Unlike most spelling programs, you take a test at the BEGINNING. When you purchase the edition that we did you get a disk that has all the forms, worksheets, etc. to print out for your children. If you have an older version, you can find the disk online or you can workbooks that have the forms for you. You start testing your child and through this testing process you go word by word. Once your child has missed three words, you stop the test and then there is another worksheet for their mispelled words. This worksheet helps them through the process of studying the mispelled words. There are other fun activities that can be done to help them with spelling such as painting the words or drawing the words in sand to help an active learner. These can be found on the disk or there is a card set that can be purchased separately if you purchase the older edition that does not come with the CD's. The next day, you start the testing process again and you start with the mispelled words and continue after the third mispelled word. The child is not tested on the words they spell correctly. Our set came with the computer game. this is especially fun with my boys as once I key in their lists and then dictate the words through the prompting of the program through my microphone, I can let them test and retest at their hearts content until they get the words. My computer loving boys are thrilled to do spelling now and even fight over who gets to do their spelling on the computer first. We also recieved a DVD in which the author takes you step by step through the process and thoroughly explains the program to you. It's like taking a teaching seminar and once you have watched it, you are ready to jump into the program!! The best part about this program is that it works for about 2nd Grade - College or Adult level spelling. What a bargain when we were spending a lot more for yearly curriculum through Abeka or Saxon! You can get these books on Christian Book Distributors or new and used on E-Bay. I would love to hear from those of you who have also tried this program to see what your experiences have been with it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

He Has Risen!!!!

This is by far one of the best videos using clips from the Passion of the Christ that I have ever scene. The song is New Again featuring Brad Paisley and Sara Evans and is done with Brad being the voice of Jesus and Sara being the voice and thoughts of Mary. It's a tear jerker and I hope it touches you all as it did me. God Bless You This Easter!!