Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Photoshop and PSE Digital SB Tips

Digital supplies by www.designerdigitals.com. Click layout for complete supply list.

Last night I spent some time scrapbooking and realized that I've learned lots of little tips and tricks from watching Designer Digitals short videos. They have allowed me to act like I know what I'm talking about---lol! Check out their YouTube channel for a library of digital scrapbooking information. Here's the latest video:

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Peterson Handwriting Review

Recently I was given Peterson's PDF By Hand E-Workbooks For Cursive Writing to review. The Peterson method is based on 4 steps:

1. Illustrate and Describe
2. Write in the Air and Say
3. Finger Trace and Say
4. Write and Say

You can get an overview of the method by visiting the Peterson online presentation (click photo below)

The Peterson method focuses on muscle control and movement ---which is something my 8yr. old daughter has a little difficulty with when it comes to handwriting. I was excited to try this handwriting program with her to see if it would be a good fit.

I received an e-book workbook in PDF format. As an added bonus, you could also use a digital tablet to practice writing on the computer. I thought that was a cool feature since I'm a digital scrapbooker and just happen to have one. I knew that would also be a motivator for my daughter to practice.

As I guessed, my daughter was eager to practice on the computer. The problem was that she reverted to old habits (like holding the pencil wrong) because writing with a tablet pen was a new skill. I still love this aspect of the program, but would hold off or let her gain a little more skill using the tablet first before introducing it for handwriting practice.

Unfortunately, I had a hard time implementing this program in our homeschool. I have been using the same handwriting curriculum for over 8 years and the Peterson Directed Handwriting curriculum was very different from what I was used to using. Peterson is more structured and was a little too teacher intensive for me. Before starting, you  need to read all the tips, tutorials and manual to be able to teach it correctly. Though Peterson has a ton of useful information on their site, I felt like I had to work to find the information. My e-book did not include enough teacher background information to make me feel confident in implementing this program. The upside is that once you understand how to teach it, the actual teaching portion is not time-consuming. You can usually finish a lesson in 10-15 minutes.

The second problem I had was that it was an e-book. This could also be a positive because you can print the pages you want, but I think we would have done better having an actual workbook.  Peterson Directed Handwriting does have print books available, and we might have been more successful with the Homeschool Complete Kit rather than the e-book.

This curriculum would be best suited for a family just getting ready to teach their children how to write, or if you need to go back to the beginning with a struggling hand-writer. There is a set method and I do believe that if followed consistently will produce good handwriting. Rand Nelson, aka Mr. Pencil, provides excellent support and is very willing to answer questions and share information.

Peterson Handwriting Main Website
Peterson Directed Handwriting Store- prices vary depending on product and license. There are a lot of options available.

So even though this program was a little difficult to implement in our home, I did learn more about the handwriting process, why muscle control and movement are important, and how to correct some of my daughter's bad writing habits. For more reviews on several different versions of this handwriting program, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclosure: I was given this product for review purposes only. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tot School: 8/23 - 8/27 (24mo)

We're slowly easing into Tot School, Preschool, and big kid school. Since I've organized a little area for my 2 youngest, they have been loving having their own workspace. So even though I don't have anything officially planned yet, I have been putting activities out for them in their bookcase.

This week I let little DD try her hand at beads. It was a little challenging for her but I love how this picture shows how much she was concentrating on the task. I purchased these farm beads from Wal-Mart years ago and have never seen them since.

She also enjoyed working on a puzzle. I really need to get more chunky puzzles because she loved telling me the names of the animals and then putting them in their places.

One evening this week it was so nice out that I felt like going on a walk at our local museum. They have wonderful gardens and we enjoy going on nature walks there. When we arrived we were pleased to find out that the symphony was there! We came on the tail-end of the concert, but the little girls enjoyed hearing the music. I'll have to remember to hit more of these concerts next summer.

Digital Supplies by www.designerdigitals.com

And this layout has two of my favorite pictures of the week. These pictures were taken while at the museum garden after the symphony. The little girls loved looking at the goldfish in the ponds. It was such a nice, unplanned evening!

See more Tot School Ideas:
Tot School

Digital Scrapbooking

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Learn About China Kit

China Learning Kit

While planning our Expedition Earth geography unit, I remembered that Jimmie (from Jimmie's Collage) has a friend who makes China Learning Kits. I've went ahead and ordered mine (I can't wait for it to get here) and wanted to let you all know of this opportunity, since it will take a little time for it to arrive since it's coming from China.

In the kit you will receive:

  • Chinese papercut
  • Chinese knot
  • Red packet with currency
  • Chinese flag
  • Postcards
  • Bookmark
  • Red scarf worn by young Communist students
  • An informational brochure about the things in your packet
  • Honeycomb lantern
  • Stickers

I think having some hands-on items from different countries and cultures always adds a wonderful dimension to learning. Each kit costs $14.00 USD. You can find out more information about the kit and directions on how to order by clicking on this article: Learn About China Kit.

Don't forget about the Expedition Earth giveaway! If we reach 100 entries, I'll be adding another to giveaway! We're getting close....



Thursday, August 26, 2010

Expedition Earth Giveaway

We've got our passports ready to embark on our world tour via Expedition Earth: A Journey Through God's World. This downloadable curriculum was compiled and created by Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler. (Erica is also the creator of The Letter of the Week curriculum that we are also using this year). I knew I wanted to teach geography this year, but needed some direction. Expedition Earth is just what I needed to help me plan my year.

Expedition Earth covers 31 different countries and has lesson plans for each day of the week (M-F).  I appreciate that everything is laid out for me. Erica includes a craft supply list and book list for each country, which makes gathering supplies easy. If you only school 4 days a week, or only want to hit geography a couple times a week, you can easily use her plans as a general outline for the year.
(click the photo above to see a free sample of Brazil week)

Erica has included printables for each country, a passport and stickers to document the journey, greetings in other countries flashcards, prayer cards plus report forms. She also has a printable binder cover plus tabs for each country. I love that she makes organizing so easy!

In order to complete the curriculum you will have to either purchase or check out from your library the books listed in the curriculum. I was surprised at how many I already had at home.

Target grade levels: K-3, but we are tweaking it to also include 4th-5th grade by adding some research/fact-finding and map work.

Price: $15.00 downloadable product -- no waiting! :)

What I also love about this curriculum is that Erica is offering Expedition Earth: Discovering God's Animals for free. It fits in so nicely with the curriculum and I am really looking forward to using this component with my younger kids.

I also have a continent game to go along with this unit:

So Erica said I can give one of you her curriculum for free because she's nice like that! She has so many great ideas that you will want to make sure you are following her blog and/or following her on Twitter. You might want to give her a little comment love thanking her for all her printables. She has been such a blessing to me and other homeschoolers!

Giveaway Rules: Now Closed

The winner will receive a link to the download of the curriculum Expedition Earth: A Journey Through God's World, valued at $15.00. No actual product will be received.  This giveaway ends on Sept. 1st, 2010, 9:00pm EST. Please make sure there is some way for me to contact you.

Mandatory: Leave a comment and tell me what country you would like to learn more about. That's it! I like to keep things easy. :)

Challenge:  If we reach 100 entries, I (Spell Outloud) will also give away a copy of the curriculum, so spread the word! Whohoo! We did it, so now there will be two people who will win the Expedition Earth curriculum!

If you'd like additional chances to win this curriculum, check out Mama Jenn's blog. She's also giving away a copy of this curriculum. Deadline for hers is 8/27.
The Expedition Earth geography curriculum was provided to me free of charge for review and giveaway purposes.  I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homeschool Room is Finally Finished!

Just a few months ago I had this big mess on my hands with no plan. It was discouraging. I had to merge everything from my office and homeschooling supplies all into one room. I didn't know how it was going to get done. (See Homeschoolers with Messy Rooms Unite)

After praying for a plan, browsing the internet looking at other homeschool rooms, things started to fall into place. (Progress with the Homeschool Room)

And here's the final version! Now that the space is functional, all I have to do is finish getting the lesson plans ready. My younger girls have already started to do Tot School and some Preschool stuff. They are loving having their own area!

 You can see more pictures by clicking above.

For more homeschool room inspiration check out the blog hop at Mama to 3 Blessings.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tot School 8/16-8/21

We are slowly starting to get back into the groove of things after taking a long break of doing formal activities. My youngest DD turned 2 recently and as a gift she got a tot-sized table and chairs from IKEA. This has motivated both girls to want to do activities at their very own "work table" as they call it. :) They have been doing lots of drawing. In fact, my 3yr. old called her dad while at work one day and asked him for a mailbox because she wanted to mail him letters (we had been letting her put her drawings in our real mailbox but we were all getting tired of the every-other-minute wanting to go out there.) To all of our surprise, dad came home with a real mailbox for her! Both my 3yr. old and 2yr. old have loved having their very own mailbox. I'll have to get pictures of it up soon.

Other things we did this week w/ 3yr. old dd:

Painted wooden letters with paint markers. (See Altered Letter Post)

We did some sorting of objects. I couldn't find our tweezers or tongs so she just used her fingers. Our sorting tray is from a Melissa & Doug bead craft my 8yr. old had received. I thought the box would come in handy for Tot School.

She had so much fun sorting that she asked to do more. Here she is sorting erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree.

23mo. DD also joined in:

 - She did her own letter painting
-  Played with Playdough
-  Rode her little car and Strider pre-bike
-  Sang songs
-  Colored ( a little too enthusiastically. I now need to go purchase some more Magic Erasers--lol)

Tot School


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Altered Letter Craft for All Ages

The other day I had a couple of extra kids spending the day with us. In those situations I like to have a fun craft planned that they can bring home. Since the kids in my house that day ranged from 2yrs. - 12yrs., I came up with a craft that they all could do. :)

paper or wooden letter (we used a large chipboard letter found at Hobby Lobby)
decorative paper
Mod Podge
Optional: scrapbooking decorations

First we painted around the edges of our letters with craft paint. We only had to do the edges because the front of the letter is covered with paper.

Next I ran our papers through my Xyron 900 Creative Station. Basically it makes the whole sheet of paper one big sticker. When crafting with kids, this is one of the easiest (and cleanest) way to add adhesive to a large surface area. If you don't own a Xyron, you can use a thin layer of Mod Podge on the letter and place the paper over the letter, or use spray adhesive. The goal is to have continuous adhesive coverage so none of the paper lifts off the letter.

Then I cut around the letter with an Exacto-knife. Make sure that you are cutting on a glass mat. I use a piece of glass from an old picture frame. The key with cutting with an Exacto-knife is to have a sharp blade and to move the paper along with the knife. After the letter is cut, you can seal the letter with a thin coat of Mod Podge. Then after the Mod Podge is dry, add any embellishments you want.

Here are the older kids' finished letters. You can add them onto a canvas, corkboard, door etc.

Since I knew my 2yr. old and 3yr. old were going to want to join in the fun, I purchased smaller wooden letters for them to decorate. I pulled out our paint markers and they had fun decorating their own letters.

I even made my own altered letter craft along with the kids! My creation is posted today on the Designer Digitals' Blog---check it out!

Related Article:
How to Create an Altered Composition Book

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Monday, August 16, 2010

School Daze Digital Stickers (and uses)

Isn't this just the cutest kit? These are digital stickers by Mindy Terasawa  from www.designerdigitals.com that you can use for digital scrapbooking or personal crafting projects. What I love about digital products is that you can use the same kit over and over and over again.  Here's what I did:

I thought that these would make adorable labels for our school supplies. I put them on bins and boxes. The blank apple labels actually had my kids' names for labeling specific things.

Then I decided to make some school word-wall cards for my preschooler. I'll laminate the cards and use them on our wall (once I decide where I'm going to put our word-wall) I could print a second set and make a Go-Fish game.

Finally, I made some apple-themed mini-note cards. I thought this would be fun for a little creative writing center at the beginning of the year.

So digital supplies aren't only for digital scrapbooking pages! I love to turn to my digital stash for homeschool and organizing projects. Here are a couple more cute School-Themed digital kits from Designer Digitals (click on image for link):


Digital Scrapbooking

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Schoolhouse Planner from TOS

Navigating all the responsibilities of running a home, establishing routines, planning long-term school goals, schedules, course-work, field trips, co-ops and more can be rough sailing if there is no plan. The Old Schoolhouse took all those needs into consideration and created a one-stop family and school planner to help ensure smooth sailing in the year ahead.

The 2010-2011 Schoolhouse Planner is more than an ordinary planner. It has tips, ideas, informative articles, check-lists and customizable forms to help organize every area of your life. In fact, this planner has over 600 pages! (Don't worry, you don't have to print them all!)

Here are some highlights:

Household: meal ideas, menu planning, maintainence checklists and more.

Spirit: Bible reading charts, Bible study notes and more.

Family: chore lists, computer information, birthday and anniversary planners and more.

Homeschool: calendar pages, subject sheets, testing forms, co-op planning forms and more.

Not sure? Well take a peek for yourself! The Planner Sample

Order it now:
The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner- $39.00! (E-book format)
The 2010 Schoolhouse Planner- $44.00 (CD version)

I was given this planner by TOS and am writing this post as an ad for a contest at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I am currently using the product represented in this post to help plan my school year and life. Now all I need is someone to actually come and help me do what I planned--lol!

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