Learning Table has a new home.
Come visit us at learningtablehomeschool.com!
This blog uses affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Free eBooks for Read Across America Day

Sylvan Dell Publishing will be participating in Read Across America Day by offering all of its award-winning eBooks FREE to read at www.sylvandellpublishing.com on March 2. Participants will have access to Sylvan Dell’s full eBook Site License including eBooks with auto-flip, auto-read, and selectable English and Spanish text and audio. This is in addition to the free activities available every day including a “For Creative Minds” educational section, 40-70 pages of free teaching activities, three quizzes, and a related websites page for each title.

Sylvan Dell co-owner and editor Donna German states, “We are proud to offer children a simple way to participate in Read Across America Day. By offering our full eBook Site License we also make it easy not only for children to read and explore our great books, but we make it easy for parents and teachers to use each book as stepping stone to learning with our “For Creative Minds” section and our free teaching activities.”

Sylvan Dell Publishing’s mission is to excite children’s imaginations with artistically spectacular science, math, and nature-themed stories. Founded in November of 2004, Sylvan Dell has grown to include more than 75 authors and illustrators in the United States and Canada, and 70 titles—honored as finalists or winners of over 70 book awards. Sylvan Dell’s Science and Math Through Literature Program integrates science, math, geography, character skills, and language learning through fun, cross-curricular activities.

To participate in Sylvan Dell Publishing’s Read Across America eBook event, simply visit http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/ on March 2 and click on the Read Across America icon in the upper right-hand corner of the website. For questions or concerns, call Sylvan Dell Publishing directly at (877) 243-3457 or email info@sylvandellpublishing.com.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cooperative Learning: Cultural Exchange

   Our homeschool support group held an International Festival this year, and we gathered to learn about the countries the different families studied.  Each family that participated signed up to research a country and prepare a presentation about that country.  We all brought food inspired by the countries studied, and the kids each had an opportunity to speak in front of the group.  This not only provided a wonderful learning opportunity, but it also gave the kids practice in preparing a speech and actually speaking from a stage to an audience.  Some kids did a "show and tell" while others simply read from a paper.  Some came in costume, and some played music.  After lunch and the presentations, each child was presented with a "passport," and they visited each "country" to get a stamp.  Some host countries even handed out souveniers like coffee from Uruguay and a street map from London.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


My "Out and About" bag.

   When life gets in the way of HOME-schooling, we take school on the road.  My mom is scheduled for surgery this month, and we have had to take her to some doctor's appointments and will be taking her for her outpatient surgery next week.  I have a bag that I keep stocked with my essentials for taking school with us.  It's easy to find a spot in a waiting room to work on schoolwork and make the most of "waiting" time.  It is also nice for times when the other brothers are in art class or music lessons.  We can go grab a cold coke and sit at Chick-fil-a for a half hour and get some things done.

   I keep my bag packed with writing journals and a writing prompt book, a combo Dictionary/Thesaurus, a paper trimmer/ruler, a pouch of pencils, pens, erasers, mini-stapler, scissors, a glue stick, tape, and a sharpener, a pouch of colored pencils, a geometry supplies kit, my nature journal, a legal pad, and a magazine or my Kindle for me. 

   When we are going to be out for awhile, I add in whatever school books I want to bring along.  Good choices for us are handwriting, vocabulary, math, and readers, but it varies depending on what needs to be done and how much time we will have on our hands.  Sometimes, I add the kids' nature journals if we are going somewhere that we can hang out outside.

   The time passes faster when we are occupied, and I don't feel like we are wasting time or getting behind on schoolwork. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

And Then There Were Five...

A pile of cuteness

   We are foster-parenting a mama kitty for our vet.  My son's cat was recently diagnosed with an enlarged heart and congestive heart failure, and our sweet vet knew that having a slew of kittens to take care of would be good for all of us.  Mama cat arrived last week and settled in nicely.  Saturday, during the night, she had four kittens, and it was like Santa had come Sunday morning when the kids got up.  I was hoping that they'd get to witness the birth, but the kittens are irresistible, and the kids are already in love with them.  They are only temporary guests, though.  When they are weaned, they'll go back to our vet to be placed for adoption.  With three cats and a dog, not to mention all the smaller critters we have, we will have to let them all go.  But, for now, we will pamper them and shower them with attention and love.  Does staring at kittens all day count as science?

Guess what I did?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Giveaway winners!

Congrats to Melanie and Stacy, winners of the ACT book giveaway, and thanks for your kind comments!  I've emailed you with details for claiming your books.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Record Keeping: School Log

When we started homeschooling, I used pre-made lesson plan books, but over the years my system has evolved to simplify the record-keeping process for me. Homeschooling is more challenging in some ways with my kids' grade levels spaced widely apart, but easier in that my oldest has become more independent. Since my oldest is transitioning to high school work, I have made some changes in the way I keep track of everything, and I keep a main notebook for my youngest two while my oldest has a planner of his own.

Here's how my notebook is set up...

I use an Avery Protect & Store Binder with a storage pocket attached inside the front cover. This binder is sturdy enough to reuse, and mine has lasted for three years so far without breaking. I keep CDs, phonics games, and flash cards inside this pocket so everything is in one place = easy to find.

I have a CD of my boys' "school" portraits attached to the first page of the binder in a self-adhesive CD storage sleeve. When everything  is filed for the year, I know where to find it.

Monthly Planning

The monthly calendar section is next, where I note all our activities and special events like music lessons, field trips, sports practices, birthdays, appointments, etc. I use the Well-Planned Day planner for this, and since it is three-hole punched, I can store it in my binder and pull it out to take on the go. {Click here to read more about the Well-Planned Day planner.} There is also room on the side of each monthly page to write down notes or journal things I want to remember about our month.


Lesson Planning

My lesson plan section includes five tabbed dividers for each student, one for each subject. Behind those are copies of  schedule pages or tables of contents  from their school books. I just check each thing off as it is completed, but dates could be added in here as well. I also insert completed activity sheets in the appropriate sections.

Book Lists

Next, I have a section for our book list pages. I write down all of our read-alouds here and the date each one was completed. Each of my boys keeps a separate notebook with a book list for books read independently. I make copies of these at the end of the school year and include them in my file with the rest of my planner pages.

Portfolio Pages

After the book list section, I have a section for storing essays and other papers the boys complete. I save pretty much every essay or story, etc. Next, I have sections for field trips and activities such as music recitals. I use page protectors to save items in these sections--programs from recitals, brochures, etc.


Having everything in one place and keeping it really simple works best for me. I can flip to a section to find out what page or lesson we are on, and checking things off as they are completed not only shows us how far we have to go but also how far we've been. I also keep the boys' report cards in a divider pocket. I remove pages at the end of each grading period, and at the end of the year, I sort everything out and file what I want to keep for safekeeping.

 I'd love to hear about your record-keeping system!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Giveaway and Review: ACT and College Preparation Course

Win this book!

   ACT and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student by Dr. James Stobaugh contains 50 lessons covering English, math, reading, science, vocabulary, and essay writing.  Dr. Stobaugh's approach is to start preparations for the test in eleventh grade and follow the course over a period of either 50 weeks, completing one lesson a week, or 50 days, completing one lesson per day.  Along with the book, a downloadable essay workbook is also available which covers the mechanics and style of writing an ACT essay.  The appendix includes sections for vocabulary helps, book list, reading journal, devotional journal, and Greek and Latin morphemes.  (The book list covers literature that would be useful to read beginning in ninth grade for preparation for both the SAT and ACT, as well as college itself.)  Other highlights are the devotional format of the book and the useful test-taking insights and stress-reduction strategies.

   One really great thing about this book is that it is packed full of information, but in a manageable format.  The body of knowledge required for college preparation seems overwhelming, but Dr. Stobaugh has
organized this book so that students can tackle the "elephant" one bite at a time.

   James P. Stobaugh's ACT and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student is one of several resources available from Master Books for high school students and their families.  They also have books like  SAT and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student, Already Compromised, Fish Out of Water, and Coming Soon – History Curriculum for 10th – 12th grade by Dr. James Stobaugh.

   For a chance to win ACT and College Preparation Course for the Christian Student , "Like" Master Books on facebook, and come back here and leave a comment on this post telling me you did.  One winner will receive a hard copy of this book, and one winner will receive a digital copy.

   Comments close on February 14.
Comments are now closed--thanks for stopping by!

{The publisher has provided me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.}

Friday, February 3, 2012

DIY: Bridal Shower

The scrabble letters spell out "FEATHER YOUR NEST."
   My beautiful niece is getting married in June, and I threw her a bridal shower last week.  She's in school out-of-state, so we have to fit all the wedding details in when she comes home on break.  I had fun decorating with a bird's nest theme, and she got tons of gifts to help set up her first home.  We kept the food simple, but it must have been good, because most of it was gone when it was all over. 

I printed off some bird prints onto card stock, trimmed them
 a little, and put them inside some thrifted clear vases.

Pepperoni Pinwheels and
Spinach Gruyere Puff Pastries were a big hit.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day

   It's a rainy day here, so we won't see our shadows today, but apparently Punxutawney Phil saw his and predicted six more weeks of winter.  At any rate, Groundhog Day is a goofy holiday, but who doesn't need an excuse to be a little goofy for a day?  Two of our favorite Groundhog Day books are:

   Gregory's Shadow is a  classic book written by the author of Corduroy (my middle son's favorite book of all time.)  Just before their appearance on Groundhog Day, Gregory and his shadow become separated.  How will they find each other?  Here's a short lesson plan with activities related to this book, including making shadow puppets and doing a science experiment with shadows.

   Gail Gibbons' Groundhog Day explains the origins of the holiday and includes facts about groundhogs and hibernation.  Gail Gibbons' books are favorites with us.  Lots of learning packed into a picture book!