Mom Tested, Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop #2

The second ultimate homeschool blog hop from #MomTested. Bloggers, share your best posts. Homeschoolers, find awesome resources and encouragement for your homeschool journey @ www.vicki-arnold.com

Mom Tested, Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop

And we’re back for another round of the ultimate homeschool link-up. Be sure to check out last month’s edition of the Mom Tested, Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop! We had a lot of bloggers link up some great resources.

We have three posts to feature that were the most clicked links from last month’s blog hop:

  • Tot School Planning Form from Wildflower Ramblings :: This is such a great resource for planning Tot School, a concept that I’ve recently become exposed to. I am currently exploring it for my youngest. If you have a “must have” Tot School resource, PLEASE be sure to tell me about them in the comments.
  • The Free List from Only Passionate Curiousity :: This is a huge list! I know from experience that these things take a lot of time to put together, so be sure to drop a thank you in the comments to let her know you appreciate it! (Bloggers LOVE comments…just saying 😉 )
  • Montessori Geography Stamp Sorting Box from Hands-On Homeschooler :: What a neat tool for homeschools!

Homeschool Newsletter

Don’t forget to sign up for the Homeschool Newsletter that launches next week! I’m working on an exclusive giveaway just for subscribers as a bonus to my 12 Days of Christmas in July giveaway series that I announced yesterday.

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Join the Mom Tested Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop #2 @ www.vicki-arnold.com!

Calling Homeschool Bloggers!

You are cordially invited to link up your best three homeschooling related blog posts in the linky below. We want your best! Have more than three? Save them and come back again next month.

We currently have three co-hosts for the Mom Tested, Family Approved Homeschool link up. Your link will be shown on each blog when you enter it below. Then next month we will feature the top posts from the previous month in each co-host’s blog.

Meet my co-hosts: Dollie at Teachers of Good Things and Cassondra at Beyond the Cover.

We would appreciate a link back to one of the co-hosts’ main posts (like this one) to help spread the word about the link-up. After you drop your link in the linky below, please be sure to hop around to a few other blogs and comment on, tweet, pin, or share your favorite finds. This is what makes a blog hop FUN and beneficial to everyone.

If you would like to add a button to your blog for the Mom Tested Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop, fell free to grab this photo and link it to http://www.vicki-arnold.com/category/mom-tested-family-approved/:

Mom Tested Family Approved - a family of blog hops for home, homeschool, and soon recipes!

Bloggers Link Up!

Mom Tested Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop #1

Disclosure: I use affiliate links on this blog. They cost you nothing and using them helps support this blog. If have more questions, check out my post What are Affiliate Links?

Mom Tested, Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool link-up! Come join the blog hop.

Mom Tested Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop

Mom Tested, Family Approved has expanded! I will no longer be co-hosting the Mom Tested Family, Approved Home link-ups. Here are the previous link-ups the Mom Tested, Family Approved Home team co-hosted:

Coming up next for the Mom Tested Home team is Everything Food Prep. From canning to meal planning to bulk shopping, bloggers will be linking up their best food prep posts.

I will not be co-hosting the Home link-ups anymore because I will be moving to the new team for the Mom Tested, Family Approved Homeschooling link-ups! This means that beginning every 2nd Tuesday of the month, you will find an awesome selection of homeschool links. I am excited to bring these resources to you each month. Starting NOW!

Special Announcement for Homeschoolers

I recently became an affiliate for Hearts at Home curriculum store. They are sponsoring a giveaway for $75 and you get to choose what you win! More details:

Click Here to Enter Now!

An Invitation to Homeschool Bloggers

Calling all homeschool bloggers! You are cordially invited to link up your best three homeschooling related blog posts in the linky below. We want your best! Have more than three? Save them and come back again next month.

We currently have three co-hosts for the Mom Tested, Family Approved Homeschool link up. Your link will be shown on each blog when you enter it below. Then next month we will feature the top posts from the previous month in each co-host’s blog.

Meet my co-hosts: Dollie at Teachers of Good Things and Cassondra at Beyond the Cover.

We would appreciate a link back to one of the co-hosts’ main posts (like this one) to help spread the word about the link-up. After you drop your link in the linky below, please be sure to hop around to a few other blogs and comment on, tweet, pin, or share your favorite finds. This is what makes a blog hop FUN and beneficial to everyone.

Mom Tested Family Approved Ultimate Homeschool Blog Hop!

You can add a Mom Tested, Family Approved Homeschool button to your blog or post, too. 🙂 I can not get a grab button code to work right, but here is a button if you would like to use it.

mom-tested-family-approved-button

You can link it to: http://www.vicki-arnold.com/category/mom-tested-family-approved/ I apologize for the inconvenience, I will try to get it fixed before next time.

Websites Frugal Homeschoolers Need

Websites frugal homeschoolers need to know about.

Homeschool mamas are probably some of the most frugal people I know. Our budgets are usually limited, so we are always looking for great deals. Recently I shared some frugal websites for online shoppers. As I was putting that together, I realized I knew of several that were homeschool specific. And voila! A post was born.

Here is your friendly notice, I use affiliate links on my blog. Not every link is one, but I am required to tell you that I do use them. Confused? Read my post, Blog 101: What are Affiliate Links? for more information.

Now, onto the websites for frugal homeschoolers.

Websites for Saving Money on Homeschool Curriculum

  • Amazon :: Amazon is often the first place I look to find various books. You can find books, workbooks, CDs, DVDs, and ebooks. There is also a section on the site called Amazon Gold Box Deals where I have found especially great deals on things like art supplies and electronics (like a sewing machine). If you use Amazon more than a few times each month, consider investing in a Prime membership. You get free 2-day shipping, access to movies and videos via streaming, and you can borrow certain ebooks on your Kindle for free. The shipping savings is enough to make it worth it for our homeschool.
  • Homeschool Classifieds :: Like the classified section of your newspaper, but online and only homeshool curriculum and related items. I’ve bought and sold on this site with great success.
  • Facebook :: Seriously. There are Facebook groups for buying, selling, and trading homeschool curriculum. What I like about this is that you can see the items before buying. You can also find Facebook groups for homeschool related freebies and frugal tips geared specifically for homeschool families. You can find groups for specific curriculums, life circumstances, and faith beliefs. Here are two to get you started: Homeschool Deals and Freebies and Affording the Homeschool Life.
  • Half.com :: This site is owned by eBay, but is not an auction site. It is very similar to buying used books on Amazon.
  • Half-Priced Books :: I recently found this section of the HPB website, you might find what you are looking for there. Personally, I prefer their physical clearance sections. I have found many awesome deals there over the years. Just the other day we picked up six American Girl books for $1 each.
  • Miller Pads and Paper :: Maybe I am the last homeschooler to have discovered this place, but man am I glad to have found them at the homeschool convention in April. I missed out getting to see them in Nashville at Teach Them Diligently. Nevertheless, they have excellent prices on notebooks, sketchpads, and the like.
  • Rainbow Resource Center :: Discount Prices on many popular curriculum items.
  • Hearts At Home Curriculum :: A discount store with most popular homeschool curricula available. Best pricing I’ve found so far on A Reason For Handwriting workbooks.

Websites for Finding Free Homeschool Resources

Free Homeschool Deals :: Free resources for just about everything you could possibly need relating to homeschooling.

Bible Based Homeschooling {on a Budget} :: Find free biblical homeschooling resources.

Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies :: Weekly giveaways and subscriber only freebies.

CurrClick :: You can find all sorts of things available here. There are also freebies offered with coupon codes to watch for.

Topic Specific Resources for Frugal Homeschoolers

Free Kindle Books for Kids :: Ben and Me – There are a LOT of classic, living books here. This is a great resource for Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers.

iEducation – Free Apps for Homeschooling :: Ben and Me – Marcy has just about every subject covered here.

Learning Photography in Your Homeschool for Free :: My first post at Free Homeschool Deals. If you have a student interested in photography, but the subject intimidates you, check it out.

Free and Frugal Ways to Learn Art in Your Homescool :: I covered art basics, drawing tutorials, painting tutorials, pastel tutorials, and more in this Free Homeschool Deals post.

Free and Frugal Resources to Teach Composer Study :: This post pairs well with my huge list of books for composer study. Yes, I compiled both. No, I’m not bragging, just want to bless as many people as possible with my work. Seriously.

What would you add to the list?

Tell me in the comments below, but first sign up for the homeschool newsletter I have launching in July. Trust me, frugal homeschoolers will NOT want to miss this!


The Ultimate Homeschool Planner by Debra Bell {a review}

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner & The Ultimate Daily Planner for Studets {a review}

It is time for another review for Mosaic Reviews! I received both planners for free so that I could scrutinize, um, I mean review them. In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should mention that I have seen these planners floating around the homeschool and blogging communities for a while now. I even checked them out a couple times online, but could never get past the cost. I tend to fall in the cheap, um, I mean frugal side of life. Want to know if I still feel the same? Keep reading.

We shall start with The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, a planning system designed by Debra Bell. My first impression was that my mailman needs to learn to read, “do not bend” does not in fact mean “bend in half”. Once I smoothed out the wrinkle in my cover (and attitude), I dove on in. First impressions of the actual planner, it’s purple. Purple, people. Purple just so happens to be my very favorite color. The cover is nicely designed and I love that it is plastic (easy to wipe off…) and has a pocket on the inside of both the front and the back cover.

The first pages of the planner are four years of year at a glance calendars (one, card-stock page…nice), an information page for you to fill out, general info about the planner and the other planners (like the student one we will discuss below), a welcome letter, and table of contents. Table of contents? Why would a planner need this? To label all the information that follows, of course. Things like what pages the user’s guide starts on and where your one-year planning grid, student goal setter, and family priorities pages are.

The planner walks you through how to plan your homeschool year. Step. By. Step. Debra tells you how often you need to do this, which seems ridiculous. I mean, come on, do I need you to tell me that I need to have a yearly, monthly, and weekly planning time, and what I need to do on those days? Apparently, the answer is yes. You see, I am a planner. I love, love, love, love to plan things. Love. This is all fine and dandy, but sometimes I spend more time planning than doing. I always feel like I might miss something.

Basically it goes like this, first you sketch the big picture, then you divide up what parts of the big picture you want to work on, and then you set the tasks that will walk you towards your goals.

Then! Then you get to map out what you have going on in your life for the next year. You fill out the year-at-a-glance calendar (slightly tedious since it is not numbered, which is really a good thing since you can use it for any school year) with dates that are permanent or semi-permanent (holidays, off days, regular field trips or co-ops…you get the picture). After that, you set some goals for your students. What I love about this is that it does not just cover the academic, but character goals you may have as well. Next come family priorities, resource lists and then the monthly calendars.

Best of all? There are examples of how to use these pages in the user’s guide section. As a visual person, I loved this. I loved seeing examples to get my mind going. There is space for up to six students in all of these pages.

And then we come to the meat of the planner, the weekly pages. These are just awesome. You break your week down on four pages. First page, you set your weekly Bible plan, Battle plan (explained in the user’s guide), Prayers, and Hospitality/Outreach. The top of the page includes an inspirational quote as well. Second page, you record your week’s memorable moments (achievements) and evidences of grace, where God showed you His goodness, mercy, faithfulness, provision, etc. The third and fourth pages are your actual lesson plan pages, you have six rows of six columns (excluding your label boxes) to use as you need (examples in the user’s guide). There is also a column of smaller boxes for notes, supplies, and appointments. Also, another inspirational quote.

After the weekly section, comes a small section for recording grades, reading lists (six), field trips/outside activities record, some encouragement for homeschooling moms, a chart for plotting homeschool high school (with an example), and a year-end review.

I love that this planner is essentially a homeschool lesson planner, gratitude journal, record keeper, and goal-setting journal…all in one!

Now, there are a couple things that I would love to see added to make it just perfect (well, for me anyways).

1. All the great information kind of gets lost in the shuffle. I used some Post-It tabs to mark the sections in mine, but they don’t match. Visually, this is annoying. I would love to see coordinating tabs available.

Tabs added to my Ultimate Homeschool planner

2. I would love to see coordinating curriculum planning sheets available. They would not necessarily have to come in the spiral bound book itself, but maybe an add-on pack that I could tuck in the back pocket. I used plain paper to do this, but it would be nice to have a guide to break down what curriculum I need to consider looking for by subject. (By the way, I know this is really picky…don’t hate me for it).

That’s it really. I love this planner and as of now, I will be buying one each year to help me plan our homeschool.

The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students {a review}

Now, a little about the student planner. This post is already over 900 words, so I will keep this short and to the bullet-point. 😉

  • Love the size, plastic cover, and colors (bummer about no pockets though)
  • LOVE the little journal like entries at the front to record what your student’s favorites are each year. A little time capsule.
  • Study-smart student toolkit = great information for students
  • Includes month-at-a-glance calendars that my daughter thinks are great (I like them, too.)
  • Weekly assignments pages? LOVE that they include a “quiet time” check box each day, also the columns to mark when an assignment was finished and approved are great (helps me keep track!)
  • I like that the student can track their grades, reading list, and activity log themselves as well
  • There is a section called Active Lifestyle Activity Log for the President’s Challenge that would be great for helping homeschoolers to remember physical education is needed, too!
  • The handy reference section includes a timeline of U.S. and world history; U.S. map with capitals, time zones, and population chart, world map with current political boundaries; a chart of the scientific method; multiplication and division chart; conversion and measurement equivalency charts; general grammar and good writing guides; recommended reading list for middle schoolers; greek and latin roots chart; and finally a notes section
  • A cardstock page with four years-at-a-glance (and pocket!) and stickers for marking events on the calendars round out this awesome planner!

I will also be using the student planners for my kids because I like how the end-goal is independent learners. I see how these will help train my students to take responsibility for their work over time (explained a little more in the homeschool planner).

Overall, I’m kind of in love with these planners. And it has nothing to do with getting them free, I actually need to get at least one more. I am debating whether I need one of the student planners for my soon-to-be second grader, but the almost fourth grader will definitely need one. They are worth every penny of the cost (if you use them, of course).