Physics with a BANG!

Check out the following information on an upcoming Physics demonstration and lecture through the University of Chicago:

We would like to invite the Chicagoland Homeschool families to our 3rd annual Physics with a Bang! Holiday Lecture and Open House at the University of Chicago.

Physics professors, Heinrich Jaeger and Sidney Nagel plan to present their favorite physics demonstrations during the Holiday Lectures on December 12th (repeated at 2:00 pm and 4:30 pm). From 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm, there will also be an opportunity to talk to University of Chicago scientists and engage in hands-on activities during our Open House.

A website about the event can be found at:

This location of this event:

Kersten Physics Teaching Center
5720 S. Ellis Ave.
Chicago, IL

For more information contact:

Eileen Sheu
Outreach Director
University of Chicago
Materials Research Center
(773) 834-9916

Philippe Guyot Sionnest is the organizer of the Open House. Sponsored by the James Franck Institute, the Department of Physics, and the Materials Research Science & Engineering Center

Art Classes in Naperville or online!

The Masterpiece Newsletter
What’s New at Masterpiece Art Instruction December 2009
Karine’s Local Art Classes at The Learning Vine
Spring 2010:

Karine will be teaching the following art classes at The Learning Vine Homeschool Program in Naperville.  See the Learning Vine website for more details.

  • Drawing and Rendering I and II (grades 2-8) on Friday mornings
  • Advanced Drawing Class (grades 8-12) on Friday mornings (Waiting list only.)

Click HERE to learn more about these classes.

Masterpiece Online Academy

Masterpiece Online Academy

Start classes when it’s convenient for you – enrollment stays open once a class has been launched. Students have four months to complete a course.

Art supply lists with Dick Blick part numbers will be provided for easy, online ordering at

The Masterpiece Online Academy offers online courses for junior high, high school, and adult students.

These courses have the following components:

  • Online classroom
  • Video demonstrations
  • Printable lessons
  • Teacher critique of each completed lesson
  • Masterpiece credits that may accumulate toward a Masterpiece Academy Certificate (16 credits needed)
  • Economical Option: Audit only (no teacher critique or credit)

Students will need:

  • Online computer access with Windows Media Player
  • High speed internet connection (DSL or Cable)
  • Access to a scanner or digital camera.
  • Adobe Reader software on your computer. (Download for free at
  • Art supplies (see individual classes)
  • Time – One to two hours per week, per class, to do the work.

All Classes:

  • Tuition: $59.99 per class
  • Fee for Auditing only (no teacher critique or credit): $29.99
  • Duration: Enrollment will last for four month after registration. Complete at your own pace.
  • Masterpiece Credits per class: 1 (Credits go toward a Masterpiece Certificate, not college credit.)

How to Register:

  1. Visit the Masterpiece Online Academy E-School.
  2. Choose the class desired.
  3. Create a Global Classroom user name and password or log in if you already have one from a previous class.
  4. Pay for the class using a credit card or PayPal online or over the phone.

See our list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Black Friday Sales

Department and electronics stores aren’t the only ones with amazing deals this week.

If you find yourself with some extra money in your budget, or relatives asking what you would like for Christmas, or maybe you just want something a little educational to give your kids this Christmas season . . . you will want to check out the amazing sales taking place at various homeschool vendors.

I’m sure to miss some, but here are a few of the deals that I have come across recently:

First, a freebie from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine — a holiday planning guide. Free to download!

If you do some shopping in their store and spend more than $50 you also receive over $300 in bonus gifts for free. They have additional bonuses if your total increases. Check out their 4th annual Black Friday Special for details.

CurrClick always has great freebies everyweek, and this week they will also have a Black Friday giveaway. Be sure to check out their website during the day this Friday, November 27th. They are sure to have some great stuff both at great prices and free for the taking. also promises to have some great deals in honor of Black Friday. They will offer 35% off most of their products starting November 24 and continuing through the 30th. While at their site, make sure to check out their freebies also. Great inspiration that will cost you nothing.

Hands of a Child also has deals, especially for the Super Members. They have extended this, and I just got this email:

You’re in luck because we’ve extended the sale for everyone staring November 26th through midnight on November 29th (EST Zone)

All Project Packs in any format are 35% off

Everthing else on our site is 20% off

Visit our website at to shop starting on November 26th!

Code: BlackFriday

Be sure to hit apply to see the discount in your cart during step 4 of checkout.

And, don’t forget the Scholastic Sale right here in the Chicago area.

Field Trips to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Two homeschool field trips have been set up to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The organizer has arranged for 50 seats for each.

The first performance is on Friday, February26, 2010, at noon. Tickets are $8.50 each. This is a special school day performance of the Mozart Experience.
The second event is on Friday, April 30, 2010, at noon. The cost is  $7 per seat. This is also a special school day performance of a family tailored event, the Firebird.

Money is due by December 14, 2009.

To confirm details or for more information contact Julie by phone at 708-484-5014

Note: This field trip is not connected with the Chicagoland Homeschool Network, and is posted here as a service to area homeschoolers looking to connect and benefit from organized group activities.

Looking for Phonics tutoring for your child?

Betty Davis, published author of How Jill Learned to Read Using Phonics and educator for more than ten years is offering resources and classes to children aged four through twelve in reading and writing. You may  check out her website at Funn with Phonics Tutoring.

She has designed this program that walk children through three main levels of reading mastery.

From her website
Level 1:

Students will clap , march, and sing as they learn the sounds of the alphabet. Art and other forms of media is used  to support the phonics concept that is being taught that  week.  Each week students’ are taught a new word family that is associated with a particular short vowel.

Level 2 and 3:

For students who are familiar with the word families associated with level one, level 2 focus on learning blends, while level three focuses on long vowels, digraphs, and diphthongs.

Based in McHenry County, Betty is available to meet at public libraries throughout the Northwest Suburbs.

For more information, feel free to contact her by email at:

Or see her website:

Scholastic Warehouse

Great deals abound at the Scholastic Warehouse sales!
Great deals abound at the Scholastic Warehouse sales!

These sales can be more a temptation than a blessing at times, but we have found some great finds at the Scholastic Warehouse sales, and with Christmas around the corner, you just might be in the market for some gifts.

Check out their website for locations and hours. They have a number of them around the greater Chicago area, and chances are you might find one within driving distance for you.

Also, make sure to take advantage of registering online. Then you will receive a coupon good for an additional $10 off your purchase of $50-$100. From experience, it is pretty easy to hit that $50. Not because their items are expensive, but because they have so much to choose from. You will come away with a nice stash of books and goodies for that amount of money.

Happy shopping!

TOS Crew Review — Mystery of History 3

A couple years ago I heard about a history text that caught my attention. It focused on not just the important events and people of history, but God’s working through it all, and from a biblical perspective. I kept an eye out for it at used book sales (my main avenue for accumulating new curriculum), but it never reared its cover.

No wonder. I have no desire to let go of this book either, and will move Volumes I and II closer to the top of my “Buy for homeschool” list.

It brings us all together to study one history, from the kindergartener to the middle schooler. I love things we do all together, and the kids learn even more from each other, even their younger siblings.


: Mystery of History Vol. 3 student reader and companion guide
Details: This full color history text offers 84 lessons beginning in the Renaissance and ending in early American history.
Price: $59.95 for the text and $29.95 for the CD of the companion guide (various packages available on their site as well)

What we loved . . .

  • Scriptural basis. The book clearly looks at history and historical figures from a Christian viewpoint. The title tells it all, history is His story.
  • Adaptable for a variety of ages. Although a bit above me four year old, my five year old will listen along and grasp the basics of what we have read and discussed. Activities are varied for the different ages as well.
  • Related activity ideas. Some projects get a little involved, but lots of creativity and greater in depth study comes out of these extra tasks.
  • The book is very high quality. Beautiful pictures, sturdy cover and pages, well written, interesting to read, and just overall impressive just to look at.
  • Pretest quizzes to see what we already know (which was generally nothing . . . ) While these asked questions that were a bit specific (e.g. True/False: Columbus returned to the New World with 17 ships on his second voyage), it showed us how much we had to learn, and got us excited about the chapter ahead.

Challenges we faced . . .

  • Some of the daily readings ran a little long. I probably could have split them up into a couple days, but they are well written and engaging, so it was hard to just stop in the middle and pick up another time.
  • As great as the book is with its wonderful pictures, there were times they talked about a person or place and I thought, “Where’s the picture?” Thanks to the internet, we could of course find our own, but I did feel there were some gaps in that regard in the printed material.

I have no hesitation in recommending this product to anyone looking for a Christian based history curriculum that can work for a variety of ages. I definitely plan on purchasing more Mystery of History books after our experience with this one. Whether used exclusively or to supplement other secular sources, this book deserves a place on your home book shelf.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This curriculum was provided to me free of charge from Bright Ideas Press as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Finding Encouragement

A key to homeschooling well, on at least a somewhat consistent basis, is to maintain a vision.

Without direction, without hope, without a goal in sight, we will likely flounder, often.

Where do you find your encouragement, your refocusing? Do you have goals in writing, or at least clearly in mind for homeschooling your children?

First and foremost, we must turn to the Scriptures for their direction and wisdom. God’s love and strength come in abundance to carry us through even the toughest days.

I want to share a little secret that has helped me recover my enthusiasm time and again for what I do and why I do it. In addition to a daily quiet time in His Word, I listen to and read from fellow homeschoolers often:

Blogs — many homeschoolers blog about their ideas, their inspirations, their rough days, and their high points. I have found encouragement in reading about others’ successes and struggles. If you need to track down some good ones, check out the Homeschool Blog Awards.

Recordings — Most mornings I squeeze in at least a quick walk and while walking I listen to my MP3 player that actually doesn’t have music. It has something that inspires me far more — the workshops from the ICHE convention. I bought the whole set and put it on my player so I can listen to it in snippets each morning. Tedd Tripp’s talks could be listened to repeatedly in my opinion. So much wisdom out there, both online and through recordings.

Read books — Most homeschool moms don’t need encouragement to do this more often. 🙂 But, if you find yourself a little travel weary in your homeschool journey, you may want to restock your nightstand. I don’t always read homeschool related books, but try to always have at least one book in addition to the Bible that encourages me either spiritually or as a mother or wife. When I keep those roles in their proper perspective, homeschooling somehow remains a joy.

Homeschooling Magazines — I especially enjoy The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for its variety of practical articles as well as refreshing encouragement, there are lots of other great magazines out there, too.

What books or speakers have you enjoyed or found great encouragement in? Favorite websites, blogs, etc.? Fortunately we don’t homeschool in a bubble, and we can draw so much encouragement from each other, whether face-to-face, through the internet, or through books and recordings.

These sources of encouragement have definitely Worked for Me.

Homeschool Blog Awards

This is a re-post of some earlier information. The earlier post did not contain the links needed to find the vote:

As important as voting in our regular elections may be, this post has nothing to do with those. Rather, I am referring to the annual Homeschool Blog Awards. Each year this group run website comes together to recognize homeschooling bloggers who make a difference in the bloggy community.

Whether you are a blogger or not, this contest can introduce you to some great bloggers, and can be a great source of encouragement, inspiration and ideas.

The blogs have already been nominated, and now the voting begins.  I would encourage you to take some time to check out the blogs and vote for some of your favorites! If you are so inclined, I would love your vote for my blog as well. My blog, Delighting In His Richness, was nominated in the “Best Cyber Buddy” Category. ~Thank you!

Voting ends November 21.

Squishy parents?

Kevin Swanson says:

Children perpetually test the structure and foundation of the home. Some are clandestine in their test methods. Some do it with wild thrusts with sharp sticks. Some do it every 15 seconds, some every hour or two. But they all test the boundaries for signs of squishiness in one way or another. A house without consistency is squishy.

He goes on to contrast consistency and squishiness and points an unwavering finger at common “squishy” practices. As I did, you might identify with more than one of these tendencies. Threats, bargains, inconsistent punishments, and laziness should have no place in our homes.

We all slip into bad habits now and then, and we then need to repent and start over. That, too, becomes a lesson for our children to learn from. Homeschooling puts an extra dynamic in the parent-child relationship. We spend all day with our kids. That provides times to succeed and fail. We will do plenty of both.

Consistency definitely must play a key role in quality, loving, godly parenting.

Near the end of the article Swanson makes this accurate assessment, “There is no perfect parent. But there are repenting parents. This is the life of the Christian parent, and it is the best example we can hope to give to our children.” I will fail, and don’t want to hide my failures from my children necessarily. I will apologize to them for not parenting as I should have and as we together revel in God’s grace and mercy toward us, we start yet another new chapter in parenting. We all need a fresh start now and then.