Free Homeschool workshop available for your group

Matthew Bullington is a homeschool graduate who was paid to go to college, and has now produced a variety of resources specifically targeted to help homeschoolers prepare for college.

Along with resources, he also gives workshops.  He is going to be traveling through Illinois the week of September 20th through August 25th, and if I can find an interested group in the area I would be willing to give a 90 minute free workshop on one or two of the below topics of your choice:

-Earning College Credit: Details on Dual Enrollment and Credit by Examination

-Financing College: Details on How to Locate Scholarships, Grants and Alternative Ways to Reduce the Cost of a College Education

-Standardized Exams: Preparing for the ACT and SAT

-Homeschooling High-School: How to Approach College Preparation with Confidence

-The Application Process:  How to Make Yourself Marketable to Colleges and Universities

-Is College the Right Choice?  College and the Alternatives

If you would be interested or know of a group that might be interested in having a workshop and would like to know more details please contact Matthew by e-mail or cell.  Please feel free to forward this to other groups!

Contact: Matthew Bullington

Phone: 615-653-6816 (Cell)

Website: or


“Wonderful!!! Full of information but taught with the heart of a homeschooler.  Just what our family needed to start our college prep with confidence!”

–Jamie K, previous workshop attendee

“The wealth of information that you gave that will ultimately save me boat-loads of time. Plus I feel that I got incredibly beneficial information that I wish that I had known in my highschool/college career.  Now I feel that we can get funding for college.”

–Kim A, previous workshop attendee

“Matthew Bullington, honors graduate of both his homeschool high school and his 3 1/2 years at Middle Tennessee State University, has produced an excellent and very thorough two-part DVD series giving homeschool parents and their Junior and Senior high school students step-by-step guidelines to prepare for all aspects of college.  In conjunction with the DVD series, Matthew has also developed a web site at and workshops to assist homeschool families in this journey from homeschool to college.  We highly recommend Matthew to you as an excellent coach and his DVD series as a most-helpful road map to guide you and your students alon the path to a successful transition from your homeschool to college.”

–Claiborne and Lana Thornton, parents of three, homeschooling over 25 years, President of the Tennessee Home Education Association

TOS Crew Review — Peterson Directed Handwriting

I like finding people passionate about their products. Rand Nelson falls into that category. If you want to know the ins and outs of handwriting and have lots of rationale for teaching a certain methodology, he is your man. And, Peterson Directed Handwriting is your product.

Product: Peterson Directed Handwriting
: Peterson Directed Handwriting offers an involved handwriting curriculum based on lots of research. The books begin with posture and procedure as well as teaching actual letter formation. I received the print books.
: $19.95 for each e-book

What we loved . . .

  • Foundational. Peterson Handwriting offers lots of rationales and instruction for establishing good writing habits that even help pre-readers. Too often kids get into bad habits quickly in teaching themselves to write. Peterson addresses these and helps prevent or change them so children can write well fluently.
  • Step by step. The product doesn’t rush into the writing. Students have four steps to follow — Illustrate and Describe, Air writing, Finger tracing, and finally write and say. This helps to ensure success by the time they take pencil to paper.
  • Reuseable. Because this is an ebook, one purchase will satisfy all your kids. Copy and recopy as needed.
  • Helpful. You don’t face this alone. Aside from a website full of articles and helps, Rand is available to personally answer questions and guide you through effective use of this product.
  • Informative. The website is packed with information on how to teach handwriting. It also will help you understand why certain expectations are important. The even have a page full of coaching helps to guide you the teacher through the process.
  • You can preview the product. You cannot print it out (you obviously need to pay for that option), but on their website you can see the complete product before you buy. One of the challenges of purchasing online is that you can’t flip through the pages and really see what you are getting. With Peterson you can! Look at the book, look at the table of contents, look at all 65 pages if you want. You know exactly what you are getting when you buy these ebooks.

Some considerations . . .

  • Lots of preperatory reading and pre-teaching. The actual writing is the goal, but there are lots of steps and instruction before you get to that point.
  • Not for every student. While the printable pages can be used by any student, the methodology might not be a good fit for all students. My son loved the verbal cues that matched the movements and the other prep steps. My daughter found them cumbersome. She likely did not really need all of that to get the point across, but it did definitely cement it in her thinking and habits.

Peterson offers a great product for beginning writers, or for those that need to relearn due to poor writing habits. It does involve a lot of teacher intensive time to make sure the student truly settles into the best writing habits. In the end, the time invested is worth the effort as these are habits that will last a lifetime.

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

Disclaimer: This ebook was provided to me free of charge through Peterson Directed Handwriting 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.

Homeschool Mom’s brunch

Following invite to Homeschool Mom’s brunch to help you start the school year off on the right foot. This is coming quickly, so be sure to RSVP asap to hold your spot.

No Place Like Home

Cordially invites you to kick off your school year with Rob Rienow of Visionary Parenting

Rob is husband to Amy and they have been blessed with six children. He is a speaker (, author, and Family Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton, IL. He will encourage us as Women of God growing our children in the Light of the Lord. As a homeschool dad himself, Rob will share the priority of passing faith and character to our children, uplift us as homeschooling moms and cheer us on in our homeschool year ahead

He will instill in us the Godly confidence that homeschooling is worth the difficulty and sacrifice of our time and energy! Come and join us for a lovely brunch while getting Charged Up for an Incredible Year of Hero Building!

Questions or R.S.V.P. to Michelle Larsen: or (847)697-8813

Living books

In reading on Charlotte Mason’s style I came across a term I have heard many times now — Living Books. She says this about choosing reading material:

For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time
when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well
told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry
DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will
demand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas
and pictures of life.

She warns against twaddle, a word I just love.  So, I have started a vigilant hunt for books that breathe.

We read living books because we love them, they bring us together. They prompt incredible conversations. Even my little ones surprise me with the observations that they make about a book and its connections with real life. They bring something to our home school that no unit study, hands-on project, or even a field trip can. They spark the imagination and make creativity soar.

Some look alive, but hold nothing of value beyond the front cover. Others look old and dry and yet have carried us on amazing adventures. How do I know? Where do I find a good book?

Just wanted to share some great resources for finding a good read:

Ambleside Online — This website builds directly off of the Charlotte Mason philsophy. It assigns a time period for each year and can and is used by many as the core of their homeschool. We used them loosely for a couple years. Now, I still refer to that site because the book lists are excellent. We have loved probably 90% of the books we found through that site.

Curriculum reading lists — I started looking through other curriculums (like Sonlight — which we also used for a year) to see what books they recommend at various grade levels. Lots of great recommendations made it into our reading list this way as well.

Five in a Row — For books and accompanying activities, these books can give you plenty to choose from. Books that have stood the test of time, and you will love reading and rereading with your kids.

The Book Guardians — This is a brand new site for which I will be a contributor. Be sure to check it out over time as more books get added to its ranks. It will list books and share in 10 key areas if they have content that might need consideration. I talked more about it on my blog post about book reviews.

Common Sense Media — This site offers a number of reviews, but does not seem to have a strong moral slant. I did not find the reviews as helpful because I tend to have a stricter standard on what I deem appropriate reading for my kids. Still, definitely some value in the sheer quantity of books they have reviewed.

Christian Children’s book reviews –A good site, but seems to review only Christian books.

Focus on the Family has a book review section — Some good reviews, but they seemed to be lacking a depth in their recommendations and information provided. Does come from a conservative preference morally.

Facts on Fiction — Lots of reviews and clearly targeting key areas of concern. Alphabetized and easy to find what you are looking for.

1000 Good books — compiled by 25 homeschool moms, you can find 1000 of their recommendations. That should keep you busy for a while!

Many books also offer lists and reviews:

Honey for a Child’s Heart

– What Shall We Then Read

– Hand that Rocks the Cradle (from the Bluedorns)

Books Children Love

Invitation to the Classics

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Finding the time:

With six kids, five of them now school age, the trick is finding time in a day to read books. We have employed a variety of means to do so. We read a bit each day. Sometimes at bedtime, sometimes in the afternoon. We have a silent reading time each day as well. Books on CD also help. We listen to these in our rooms, at bedtime, and definitely in the car. We “read” an extra book or two each month by listening in the car. And, it keeps the kiddos quiet while we travel!

Looking for some recommendation? Here are some of our favorite books:

The Little House on the Prairie series

The Princess and the Goblin

Gone Away Lake

The Calico Captive

The Endless Steppe

God’s Smuggler


Robin Hood

Galileo and the Magic Number

And, every year we discover a few more favorites. Stay tuned to hear what we unearth this year.

Please add some more resources or book favorites of your own in the comments. We are always looking for well loved books.

This post linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Science classes in Oak Forest

CHESS homeschool group is offering the following classes on CPR, First Aid, and dissection to support your homeschool.

Class size is limited ~ register early!

To register for the following classes:

email Sandi Grutzius at and designate the class and time you would prefer and then a second option if the class is full. Upon confirmation of availability, send a check made out to CHESS to Sandi Grutzius, 16620 Grant Avenue, Orland Park, IL 60467.

CPR and First Aid Training

The instructor will be Robert Niemic, father of five homeschooled children, Firefighter/Paramedic for the last 18 years, American Heart Association CPR instructor, and founder of How 2 Save a Life. How to Save a Life was created to provide CPR and First Aid training using the American Heart Association guidelines.

The CPR instruction

This class offers three hours of training in adult, child, and infant CPR. Bob will demonstrate the use of an AED or Automated External Defibrillator and will teach skills needed to help an infant, child, or adult who has stopped breathing, is choking, or has a cardiac emergency. Upon completion, students will receive an AHA CPR certification card.

CPR Class – Tuesday, October 26 9:00 – Noon, or 6:00 – 9:00.

The First Aid class

In this three hour class students learn how to handle a wide variety of medical emergencies including heart attacks, diabetic emergencies, stroke, shock, trauma, environmental emergencies and more, should you ever be faced with one. As a student you will leave the class feeling confident that you will know how to handle many difficult situations in public or at home. At the end of the class, you will receive an AHA First Aid certification card.

First Aid Class – Tuesday, October 26 1:00 – 4:00

Both classes meet on the same day, October 26. Each class has a fee of $16 for CHESS members.

After the September meeting, both classes will be open to non-CHESS members for a fee of $20.

Classes meet at Grace Fellowship Church in Oak Forest, IL and are open to ages 12 and up. Parents are welcome to certify. Payment is due upon registration


YUCK 103

(for Jr. and Sr. High students)

Dr. Lainna Callentine has a great love for teaching. She is a pediatrician, home school mother, and former classroom teacher with a certification and masters in elementary education. Dr. Callentine continues to have wonderment for the beauty of God’s creation in the human body. She left formal medicine in the ER to stay home and home school her three children. However, she still practices her hobby of medicine at a Christian clinic in Bolingbrook

Yuck 103 – The Circulatory System

– Young scientists will be able to experience and examine some of the vile and wonderfully disgusting elements of life. In this hands-on lab, students will study the circulatory system. Activities include dissecting sheep pluck (trachea, heart, and lung unit), blood typing, and investigating the forensic chemistry of blood types. See the fascinating innards of God’s creation. Two sessions of this 2 hour class are available.

Thursday, November 4 ~ cost $20/student for CHESS members

9:30 – 11:30 or 1:00 – 3:00

cost $22/student for non-CHESS members

Coming in 2011

– Plan to join us for YUCK 104 and YUCK 105 in the winter and spring as we investigate the digestive system and the central nervous system.

Timber-Lee Science Class

Camp Timber-Lee, located just to the North in East Troy, Wisconsin, offers a homeschool science program for the serious high school science student.

This class spans the full school year and includes time spent at camp, books to read, lab work, and written assignments. Building on Jay Wile’s well known science texts from Apologia, these experienced teachers challenge the students to grow in their faith and academics.

The early bird discount period has already ended, but it is not too late to get in on the class for the upcoming school year. Find all the details on the Timber-Lee site.

Bug fest

The Red Oak Nature Center, part of the Fox Valley Park District is having a bug fest this coming Saturday, August 21.

The time will be full of fun with activities, crafts, competition, and lots of learning. This event is geared to the whole family.

When: Saturday, August 21, 9-noon

Where: Red Oak Nature Center
On Route 25, one mile north of Route 56
2343 S. River St.
North Aurora, IL 60542

More information: 630-897-1808

Photo cling

On Wednesday, August 18, Walgreen’s is offering a free photo cling, one per photo account. This is part of their seven days of deals going on this week. Note: If you are checking this on Tuesday evening, you will see their deal for Tuesday, but after midnight the photo cling should be their featured daily special.

Now, with a new school year just around the corner, I immediately thought about far more than just that cute picture of my kids languishing on my camera’s memory card.

These photo clings can be up to 11×17 in size. So, how much educational content can you cram into that space?

Here are some ideas I came up with:

– Time line figures

– Maps

– Diagrams

– First day of school photo

– School information (your schedule, expectations, inspirational quotes, etc.)

– A serene picture to serve as a mental pick-me-up on “those” days

– A flag

– Flags from around the world

– Presidents

You could even make a game out of it. Match countries with their flags, put presidents in order, put together a diagram of a flower or a model of the solar system.

I can seen your wheels turning, so go order your cling for free (you will have to pay shipping which is $5.99. Most deals you can opt to pick up in store and forgo the shipping charge, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with this product), and please share your ideas here or on our facebook page as well. And, if you decide to use it for that memorable picture from your summer vacation, it will also be well used.

Free and inspires creativity, that works for me!

Meteor Shower tonight

An easy science lesson for you tonight. A spectacular presentation without any effort on your part, aside from maybe providing the bug spray.

Here is the description from the National Geographic website:

The 2010 Perseids sky show reaches its peak Thursday night, with a moonless sky providing near-perfect observing conditions late Thursday into early Friday, astronomers say.

The Perseids should be most visible between 3 p.m. ET on August 12 and 2 a.m. ET on August 13. A very thin, waxing crescent moon will set about an hour after sunset, leaving behind a dark night sky for the Perseid meteors to shine. (Read about another sky show this week featuring a planetary triangle.)

Observers in Europe and North America should see the most meteors at the start of the peak, while in Asia the best show should be early Friday, according to Raminder Singh Samra, resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. (See asteroid and comet pictures.)

People in the Southern Hemisphere should be able to see the 2010 Perseids too, Samra said, but it won’t be as brilliant as up north.

—With reporting by Andrew Fazekas

This should already be visible now as the sun sets and will continue through the early morning hours.We should have a clear sky and a dim moon, perfect for viewing.

Here’s some more information on getting the best glimpse of the meteors, and if you want to learn a bit about the background to share with your kids as you watch, check out

CLA Rummage sale

If anyone is interested, you might find some school equipment useful to your homeschool at this rummage sale at the old Arlington High School building, now Christian Liberty Academy. The article only really mentions lockers, but I am sure there will be a lot of other finds as well:

Rummage sale of furniture and equipment from old Arlington High School.

When: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 12-13; 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Aug. 14.

Where: In the cafeteria of Christian Liberty Academy, 502 Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights.

• Money raised: Will be put toward Christian Liberty Academy’s scholarship fund.