Apr 16

Pinterest Project of the Month – Round Two

That's Pinteresting

Over a year ago, I planned to do monthly posts where I shared my favorite Pinterest projects. I did one post, then puttered out. I love Pinterest projects, life just gets away from me sometimes and I don’t do the things I plan to do. I was inspired by this link up with the TOS  Review Crew and decided to revive this old idea. So here is round two of my Pinterest Project of the Month. I am going to give you three of my most recent Pinterest finds. The first two are household cleaning products and the last one is a homeschool organizing tip. The last two ideas are a precursor to an upcoming post on homeschool planning that is coming soon.

Floor Cleaner on Pinterest

I have laminate floors in my dining room and I have tried dust mopping, mopping with water only, using PIne Sol, but everything I try seems to leave smudges and smears. Thanks to Nature’s Nurture, I was able to find a solution. I found her recipe for laminate floor cleaner spray Pinterest and my problem was solved. Now I simply take a few minutes to spritz the spots and use a microfiber cloth to wipe away the smears. Voila! Smudge-free floors. I will keep this on hand for years to come. I left out the essential oils in my batch. (It does have a strong vinegar scent, so make sure to allow time for the odor to evaporate if using it before company is coming.)

Simply use equal parts water, rubbing alcohol and vinegar, (start with one cup each) 3 drops Dawn dish detergent and essential oils (optional). Pour into a 24 oz spray bottle and you are ready to go.

Floor cleaner recipe

 

Homemade Febreeze on Pinterest

I love my Homemade Febreze  from Fake It Frugal. I have made this up multiple times and will probably never go back to the expensive name brand. Using only baking soda, hot water and fabric softener, I have mattresses, pet bedding, and cars smelling nice again. This really comes in handy and is so easy to make.

Febreeze recipe

 

Weekly Binder from Pinterest

I have been using a binder for my older two boys for the past two years to help them stay organized and on track with their schoolwork. They have a weekly assignment sheet inside the front cover and tabs separating loose papers from each school subject. The pin in the link above caught my eye and after going to The Planted Trees blog, I was inspired to run out to the store and get the supplies I needed to overhaul our binders. We use Sonlight curriculum and the assignments are set for a 4 or 5 day week. So I used her idea to create tabs with pockets for each day of our school week. I plan to stuff worksheets in each daily pocket and the kids will move them to the back side of the tabbed pocket when completed. They are moved to the back of the notebook when mom grades them in the To Be Filed folder. I can see this really helping me stay organized and eliminate some of my paper clutter.

binder systembinder system

Yearly File Box system

The last Pinterest project that I wanted to share is again related to homeschooling and is a variation on a method I used in the past. I was inspired by this pin from My Joy Filled Life on setting up a yearly file box system.

I made folders for each week of school, which I will portion out into Monthly files when I set up my school calendar. As I take time to pre-plan this summer, all the assignment sheets, worksheets and activity ideas I come up with will be stored in the folder for the week that I plan to assign them. Then I can simply pull them on Sunday nights from the specific weekly folder and load the kids binders with there work. I also created folders for specific subjects and one for mom’s planning ideas that I can toss random items in as I find ideas. I hope this will help to curb the clutter during the next school year and keep me more organized.

yearly planning

 

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Pinterest Project of the month. I will be back next month with another project idea inspired by Pinterest.

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/16/pinterest-project-of-the-month-round-two/

Apr 10

Homeschool Cooperatives – Choosing Classes, Enrichment or Academic?

Homeschool Co-ops

Thanks for coming back for Day 5 of our discussion on homeschool cooperatives. We have defined cooperatives (don’t forget to enter my giveaway), discussed the benefits of co-ops, mulled over things to consider before joining a cooperative, and starting your own co-op. Today we will finish up by having a brief discussion about choosing classes.

Enrichment

The first co-op we attended was mainly for enrichment. I define enrichment activities as those things which enhance our homeschool experience but are not necessary and not necessarily a part of my homeschool plan for the year. While some co-ops of this type such as Fine Arts co-ops, Park Days and Field trips fall into this category, if you can’t participate in these, there will not be a big gap in your children’s education. We have found these enrichment activities to benefit our kids especially in the younger years when the pressure to cover necessary material is less. I love the idea of having someone else encourage my kids in art, music, and physical education but as my children are getting older, I find that extracurricular activities are taking a back seat in our educational goals. We found that a purely enrichment co-op once a week was taking too many school hours away from our base curricula. When we changed to a smaller more personal co-op where we had a chance to have more input into the classes, we were much happier.Homeschool co-op art class

Academic

The co-op that we are currently a part of has about 10 families and we brainstorm together to come up with classes that fit our scope and sequence. We have chosen to have a writing class, a science class and one enrichment class. This last year we did Chemistry and Physics together, reading a textbook at home for two weeks and then meeting to do labs and discussion together. We have been working through the Institute for Excellence in Writing material as a group and have really improved our writing skills. The kids really benefited from the deadlines for poems, papers and reports and they enjoyed reading their work in front of their classmates. We are planning to do some book studies next year and expound on our writing skills with critical thinking exercises, essay question etc. We will study anatomy and physiology and have a geography/art class. This has seemed to be the most balanced combination for our family. I have a student in preschool, elementary and middle school, so the broad range makes it a bit of a challenge. We will carry the anatomy theme from 8th grade down to K5 with the preschool studying the 5 senses. The art/geography class theme will work for K5 to 8th and the preschool will study world cultures. I suggest that if you have a lot of choices at your co-op, try to choose things that will make your course of study at home easier. If you need help with science, look for science related classes and activities. If you are like me and can’t draw stick figures, look for art classes. Make sure that the classes you chose complement what your goals are for your kids in a given year.Book Club

Thank you for joining me this week. I hope to do a follow up post next week listing some great resources that we have used or would like to use in our homeschool co-ops.

Today is the last day to enter our giveaway of the book, Homeschool Co-Ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out by Carol ToppHS Co-ops by Carol Topp

April Blog Hop

Here is a list of some of my bloggy friends who are participating in this week’s blog hop and the topics they will be covering. Please take a minute to support them and check out what they have to say about homeschooling.

Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog ~ Christ-Centered Character Training – complaining

Michelle @ Faith, Family, and Fridays ~ Clearing Out the Clutter in your Heart

Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Educational Apps – Day 3

Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos ~ Celebrating Lent – crafts

Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling ~ Spring Schooling

Brittney @ Mom’s Heart ~  Relaxed Homeschooling – A Day in the Life

Lisa @ A Rup Life ~ Our Favorite Books – Day 3

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/10/homeschool-cooperatives-choosing-classes-enrichment-or-academic/

Apr 10

Homeschool Cooperatives – Starting Your Own

Homeschool Co-ops

This week we have been talking about all the facets of homeschool cooperatives. We have talked about the definition of a co-op, the benefits of a co-op, and things to consider before joining a co-op. Today I want to give you some tips on starting your own co-op. I have participated and helped to plan some activities in our local co-op, but I have never started a cooperative myself. I am sharing the things I have learned from experience and research.

Start with a Statement of Purpose

This may seem unimportant, but clarifying what the group will be about is very helpful in the long run when growing the group or explaining the group to new members. Have the start up group brainstorm and agree on a simple, direct statement such as,

We will strive to educate kids from preschool to middle school in a Christian environment where parents lead by example and every member contributes

This simple statement lets others know that this group is Christian, and doesn’t offer high school classes. It also eludes to the fact that parents must participate. Make the statement clear and concise.

Consider a Code of Conduct

This is another item that may seem unnecessary. If you take the time to have these policies in place at the beginning, you have some tools available to help mediate conflict down the road. If part of your code of conduct states that no profanity will be used on the premises and you have each family sign a statement agreeing to abide by the code of conduct, you will have a way to back up your policies if a situation arises where a family is in violation of that code.

Have a Clear Explanation of Fees Upfront

If there is a registration fee, a fee per student, a supply fee for copies and ink, required curriculum purchases or a donation to the church, etc, make sure it is disclosed initially so a family is aware of the cost involved in joining the group. Hidden fees can be frustrating for families on a tight budget.

presentations homeschool cooperatives

 

Start Small

Smaller co-ops are easier to manage and as things progress and you get your feet wet, you can grow the group. Start with a group of committed moms who are willing to do their share of the work. A successful co-op is one where everyone participates. In a small group, you need every member to contribute for success. You don’t want your co-op to turn into a babysitting service. If parents are uneasy about teaching, pair up moms to teach in teams and that can ease some of the stress of newer members or moms who lack confidence in the beginning. Consider teaming moms with a more experienced teacher so they can learn from each other.

 

Book Club Homeschool Cooperatives

Have Clear Leadership

Set up a director and depending on the size of the group, you may need a secretary to handle finances. You may want an activities director a photographer if you plan to do a yearbook, a supplies coordinator, etc. Depending on the size of the group, you could also have someone over the different age groups if your group is large (i.e. nursery, preschool, elementary, middle, high school).

Homeschool Co-op Science

Don’t forget to register to win the book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out by Carol Topp. The giveaway ends Friday!

This post has been linked to a special five day blog hop from the TOS Review Crew. There are a plethora of topics to peruse if you simply click the graphic below. Grab a cup of coffee or some chocolate and enjoy some great reading!

April Blog Hop

Here is a list of some of my bloggy friends who are participating in this week’s blog hop and the topics they will be covering. Please take a minute to support them and check out what they have to say about homeschooling.

 

Michelle @ Faith, Family, and Fridays ~ Clearing Out the Clutter in our Homeschool

Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Educational Apps

Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos ~ Celebrating Lent

Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling ~ Spring Field Trips

Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog ~ Christ-Centered Character Training – fear

Brittney @ Mom’s Heart ~  Relaxed Homeschooling – Just Another Day

Lisa @ A Rup Life ~ Our Favorite Books – Day 4 Adult Self Help

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/10/homeschool-cooperatives-starting-your-own/

Apr 09

Homeschool Cooperatives – Things to Consider

Homeschool Co-opsFor the last two days we have been talking about homeschool cooperatives and how they can benefit the homeschooling family. We defined co-ops and talked about the benefits of cooperatives. Today I want to talk about the things to consider before joining a cooperative. How do you know if a co-op will be a good fit for your family?

Ask Questions

The most important thing to do is ask questions. Talk to the director and moms who have been involved with the co-op. Get as many details up front as possible. Consider the following details:

  • Distance – figure travel time and gas cost into your decision
  • Curriculum – will the things offered at co-op be extras or things that will complement your curriculum choices for the upcoming year.
  • Cost – figure in materials, lunches, gas, etc.
  • Parent participation – Do all parent’s teach classes or assist? Will you be required to provide supplies or plan lessons? Do you have time for that at this stage in your life?
  • What age/grades does the co-op serve. Will there be something for each child in your family?
  • Start and end times – If you have babies, all day co-ops may be hard on the little ones nap schedules. If they start too early in the morning, think about whether you can get out the door on time each time the classes meet.
  • Will taking time away from your planned curriculum cause stress- Will you be missing one math lesson a week? Will this cause you to get behind so that you can’t complete a whole year of material. I chose to have my kids get up early on co-op day and do a math lesson before co-op. All of my other things I have adapted to a four day schedule so that on co-op day we are free to have the classes count as our entire schooling for the day.

Consider Your Season of  Life

Is this the right season for participation?

There are lots of different seasons in life. If you have lots of toddlers, are caring for elderly parents, are dealing with family illnesses or have special needs children that are requiring lots of extra time and attention, you may find that cooperatives only increase the stress in your life. Make sure that you consider your schedule, extracurricular activities, church responsibilities, etc before you commit to a cooperative. You can still have a successful homeschool without participation in a cooperative. If one of the above situations describes your season right now, let yourself off the hook. DON”T feel guilty. Your kids will still be socialized. While cooperatives can be great, they are just a tool and are not the reason we decided to homeschool our kids in the first place. Look at the ages of your kids, take stock of your families’ needs and goals and make an informed decision. Never forget the home in homeschool!

reading outside

Don’t forget to register to win the book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out by Carol Topp. The giveaway ends Friday!

This post has been linked to a special five day blog hop from the TOS Review Crew. There are a plethora of topics to peruse if you simply click the graphic below. Grab a cup of coffee or some chocolate and enjoy some great reading!

April Blog Hop

Here is a list of some of my bloggy friends who are participating in this week’s blog hop and the topics they will be covering. Please take a minute to support them and check out what they have to say about homeschooling.

 

Michelle @ Faith, Family, and Fridays ~ Clearing Out the Clutter in your Heart

Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Educational Apps – Day 3

Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos ~ Celebrating Lent – crafts

Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling ~ Spring Schooling

Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog ~ Christ-Centered Character Training – complaining

Brittney @ Mom’s Heart ~  Relaxed Homeschooling – A Day in the Life

Lisa @ A Rup Life ~ Our Favorite Books – Day 3

 

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/09/homeschool-cooperatives-things-to-consider/

Apr 08

Victus Study Skills – Developing Study Skills for Life (A Review)

Victus Study Skills Review

Building study skills is a much neglected subject in the homeschooling community. As a second-generation homeschooler, I remember being in college and having to learn to take notes from lectures, make notecards, etc. When I was a student, there were not many homeschool products available to teach this invaluable skill. As a homeschooler, we aren’t always prepared for these types of situations with the relaxed setting of one-on-one tutoring that most students receive. When I received the opportunity to review the Victus Study Skills System, I knew that this was going to be a great help for my middle school student. I received the Teacher Edition and the Student Workbook for my honest review.

Victus Study Skills Review

 About the Product

The Victus Study Skills System is a ten-lesson course for students in grades 5th-12th, but may be applicable for younger grades with more teacher involvement. The course is designed to be used over the course of a week in one hour sessions covering two lessons a day. Middle schoolers may find a pace of one-half hour or one lesson a day over two weeks more manageable. 

The Latin word victus means a way of life. It is the aim of the Victus Study Skills System to equip the student for success in academics and in life.

 

Victus Study Skills Review

 Victus Study Skills System 

Teacher Edition – $40.00

 Student Workbook – $20.00

There are three foundational cornerstones that the program is built on:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. Where do I want to be?
  3. How do I get there?

As you progress through the material, you are taken through the process of  setting personal objectives, reviewing your current study habits, looking at the types of learning styles and determining your strengths, creating a personal mission statement, looking at your priorities and setting measurable goals. Time management is discussed along with selecting appropriate learning environments. Organizational tips and scheduling suggestions are given. A specific method of study is taught using the acronym PQRST.

study skills

P – preview

Q-question

R-read

S-state

T-test

Tips for developing skills in active listening and note taking hints are given with engaging activities suggested throughout. There is a special section on test taking strategies and preparation. The materials end with a short thirteen question review test of the materials.The appendix has several helpful items such as:

  • a set of flashcards reviewing the PQRST method
  • a goal setting worksheet
  • organizational tips
  • a time-management exercise
  • and more………

How We Used These Products in Our Homeschool

Study Skills materials

Shortly after receiving the Teacher Edition and the Student Workbook, I skimmed the material and mapped out a plan. I decided that we would cover the material over two weeks since my son is only eleven. We planned to do a lesson a day over ten days. We worked through the lessons one at a time in a quiet place one-on-one. I read the notes in the teacher’s edition and had him follow along as I lectured. He filled in the blanks in the student workbook and we had some great discussions along the way. The material was helpful and interesting and there was no complaints from my son as we worked though the program. We practiced some of the methods in our reading of our science textbook. I had Drew use the PQRST method when reading assignments. He liked this method and we are going to try to make this a habit. We also plan to organize our binders using color coding for the fall. I think having things color-coded and keeping items in reach will help him become more successful during study time.

 

 Our Opinion of This Program

using Victus Study Skills

My son stated after completing the program that he liked the materials and feels that it will improve his study habits, organization and test taking in the future. As a mom and teacher, I found some of the material to be things I had already learned over the years, but there were some great tips to be had in the pages of the workbooks. We especially enjoyed working through the learning strength sections and the test taking chapter. We will be taking standardized achievement tests in a few weeks and this information was great to teach my son in preparation for this event. One of the tips was to use a PDCA model. Plan, Do, Check/Act. This model carries over into many areas of life as we learn to set goals and accomplish tasks. Another great tip was to guess the answer before reading the choices in a multiple choice test. We are planning to use the appendix as continued review and implement more of the ideas into our homeschool this fall as our curricula increases in difficulty. You will simply have to get your own copy and check out all the great tips and exercises in this book. We loved it and I am planning to use it again as my son enters high school in a couple of years. I will teach excerpts of some of the test taking tips with my younger son before standardized testing. Currently we only take math tests, spelling tests and vocabulary quizzes in our homeschool for the elementary level, but as we begin to have more exams in the middle and high school grades, this information will be invaluable. I believe that by incorporating some of these study habits such as the PQRST method and organizing materials we will begin building a great foundation for study skills that will serve us well in our homeschool for many years to come.

Victus

If you would like to see what others are saying about the Victus Study Skills System, click on the graphic below.

To stay updated and find out more information on these products you can connect with Victus on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @VictusStudy

 

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/08/victus-study-skills-developing-study-skills-for-life-a-review/

Apr 08

Homeschool Cooperatives – Benefits

Homeschool Co-ops

Thanks for coming back for Day 2 of my five day series on homeschool cooperatives. Yesterday, we defined homeschool cooperatives and explained the different types of co-ops. We are going to continue our discussion about homeschool cooperatives and how they can enrich your homeschooling experience. Today I would like to talk about the benefits of working together with other homeschoolers.

Benefits

  • Support - While some families are successful going the homeschooling journey alone, most people benefit from support. Joining up with other families has enriched our lives by giving us much needed support from grounded, experienced homeschoolers. We have found this support through relationships we have made at co-op. We have the ability to ask questions and watch other homeschool moms who have gone ahead of us in the journey and can guide us through each new phase of homeschooling. My oldest is completing 6th grade this year and I am charting new territory in the area of middle school, so I was blessed this year by the support from moms who had already “been there, done that”. Support also comes in the form of being able to have help in areas where mom is weak, which leads to my next point:
  • Educational Benefits - My kids have enjoyed learning everything from art to writing in our most recent co-op experience. We have greatly benefited from the experience of other moms and dads teaching abilities. I was rather intimidated by the thought of teaching my son to write well. There are so many materials available, I didn’t know where to start. I wanted him well-prepared for the future. Taking a writing class at co-op was just what we needed and it has provided the opportunity for him to learn to write, speak, illustrate and share his thoughts. We have also gained much educationally by doing science classes together. The material seems to come alive when we can do experiments together and have discussions about science in a group. We learn from everyone’s varied perspectives. The opportunity to have feedback from other mom teachers can be invaluable for your child. Assignments with firm deadlines can help mom with accountability and follow-through.
  • friendshipsFriendships - We have formed what I think will be lifelong friendships with families through homeschool cooperatives. We have been able to spend time together and build relationships that are just not possible in other venues. Our kids have been able to form bonds and reach out to kids from all ages and stages of life. It has been a very positive experience for us.
  • Financial Savings - Our co-op has the benefit of meeting at a church. We give a donation to the church at the end of each semester to help offset the cost of utilities. This keeps our operating costs down and we usually pool our school supplies, snacks, etc so that separating light waveswe don’t have many fees for the classes. We decide on the topics and curricula we will use early in the year to allow plenty of time to budget for materials. This year we taught Chemistry and Physics at the elementary level and found that by doing many of the experiments together, we could purchase the supplies and spread the cost over the whole group, rather than each individual family conducting the same experiment on their own at home. This was a significant savings for each family.
  • Socialization and Fun  – Doing things together just sometimes makes things more fun. Our kids love packing lunches and eating outside with friends. Moms make connections and swap stories. Good times are had and memories are made. I believe that most homeschoolers are more socialized than their public school counterparts, but having group interactions with kids their own ages helps relieve mom guilt and grandparent concerns when they are present.
  •  Unique Opportunities - We took one semester to explore a class we called “Life Skills” and split the boys and girls into separate classes. We rounded up moms and dads with specific skill sets to teach things from pasta and bread making to changing tires and checking the oil in cars. We have had the opportunity to experience history fairs, ministry opportunities such as making parachutes for the purpose of dropping Bibles, radios and Christian literature over guerilla-controlled jungle areas as a homeschool group. We are preparing right now for our first science fair.

I can’t cover all the benefits we have received from participating in co-ops and homeschool group activities over the years. I know that cooperating with others has brought life and encouragement into our homeschool. I hope you gained some fresh ideas and maybe some encouragement today that you don’t have to go at this homeschool journey alone. Even reaching out to one other family and working together on something can make learning more interesting.

Join me tomorrow as we discuss the downside to cooperatives and whether a cooperative is right for your family.

Don’t forget to click over to our giveaway and enter to win!

The giveaway ends Friday. We are giving away a copy of Homeschool Co-Ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out by Carol Topp

This post has been linked to a special five day blog hop from the TOS Review Crew. There are a plethora of topics to peruse if you simply click the graphic below. Grab a cup of coffee or some chocolate and enjoy some great reading!

April Blog Hop

Here is a list of some of my bloggy friends who are participating in this week’s blog hop and the topics they will be covering. Please take a minute to support them and check out what they have to say about homeschooling.

Lisa @ A Rup Life ~ Our Favorite Books – Day 2

Melissa @ Life Off the Paved Road ~ Fit From Home

Michelle @ Faith, Family, and Fridays ~ Clearing Out the Clutter in your Head

Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Educational Apps -Day 2

Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos ~ Celebrating Lent

Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling ~ Spring Schooling

Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog ~ Christ-Centered Character Training – fighting

Brittney @ Mom’s Heart ~  Relaxed Homeschooling – Masterly Inactivity

 

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/08/homeschool-cooperatives-benefits/

Apr 07

Homeschool Cooperatives – Defined plus a Giveaway!

Homeschool Co-opsWe have been personally blessed by participating in homeschool cooperatives. After pondering this and being immersed in planning for our fall homeschool cooperative, I decided to write a week-long series on homeschool co-ops. Join me this week as I share from my heart and experience with homeschool co-ops. Visit each day this week and be sure to enter to win my giveaway of the book,

HS Co-ops by Carol Topp

Homeschool Co-Ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out by Carol Topp

Cooperatives Defined

For the sake of the new homeschooler, I felt it important to define a homeschool cooperative. The word cooperative is defined on dictionary.com as:

1.  Working or acting together willingly for a common purpose or benefit.

2.  Demonstrating a willingness to cooperate.

There are many groups in the homeschooling community that call themselves homeschool cooperatives, or co-ops. They range from a very small group of two families to hundreds of students and families. The point is to join together with others in the process of educating your children and cooperating with each other to accomplish this common goal.

Types of Cooperatives

Most cooperatives fall in to one of two categories

  • Academic – setup for the purpose of accomplishing academic studies in a group environment.
  • Enrichment-type activities to supplement educational goals set at home. Some examples might be field trips, drama, art, physical education, social activities and/or other activities that enrich the homeschool but are not necessarily academic subjects.

Before you can choose to join or start a co-op, you need to find out what type will meet the needs of your family the best at your current stage of life.

When we first heard about co-ops, we found one local group in our area that met on a weekly basis for activities at the local civic center. We had dance classes, PE/Game time outside, and other enrichment-type activities. My eldest was a preschooler at the time, and this setting helped me meet other homeschooling families and begin to make connections. It met a need I had for fellowship with other moms and allowed my sons time to get to know other homeschoolers. If we had participated in this when my son was older and learning to read, write, etc, it might not have fit in so nicely in our schedule.

Our next experience with co-op was when my boys were in K5 and 4th grade. This was a large co-op with many options for kids of all ages. It met weekly for about 10 weeks each semester. I had a one-year old and a nursery was provided. Each mom was expected to teach or assist for two teaching periods with a break during one period for fellowship.

Our most recent experience has been with a smaller group of about 10 families that grew from a summer writing class. We tried it out over the summer and found that the format pleased us. All of the families worked well together and we wanted to continue the class. Since we were going to get together every two weeks for the writing class, we discussed combining our efforts and doing science together as well. We soon rounded out the time by adding a life skills class for boys and one for girls. This allowed us to spend a half day together and get in enough hours to count as a school day. We added activities for the younger kids and a co-op was born.

No matter what your experience, I hope that you will join me this week as I share with you some of the things we have learned along the way and some of the info I have gleaned from other sources on the topic. Here are some of the resources I have enjoyed that cover homeschool cooperatives.

Homeschool Co-ops  101

 

 

I am currently reading, Homeschool Co-ops 101 by Karen Lange available in e-book format and paperback from Amazon.com

Karen Lange shares her experience over the years with her three kids participating and leading co-ops. Some of my ideas for this series are gleaned from this resource.

 

 

 

guide to homeschooling

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell

I have heard Debra Bell speak on numerous occasions in person and I am never disappointed in what she has to say. This book is a new homeschooler’s go-to guide and covers almost every topic under the sun including homeschooling cooperatives. A definite must-have for every homeschooler.

 

 

 

This post has been linked to a special five day blog hop from the TOS Review Crew. There are a plethora of topics to peruse if you simply click the graphic below. Grab a cup of coffee or some chocolate and enjoy some great reading!

April Blog Hop

 Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below and come back every day this week for more great discussions on homeschool cooperatives. 

Here are some of my bloggy friends who are participating in this week’s blog hop and the topics they will be covering. Please support them and check out what they have to say.

Brittney @ Mom’s Heart ~ What is Relaxed Homeschooling?
Lisa @ A Rup Life ~ Our Favorite Books – Day 1 – Board Books
Melissa @ Life Off the Paved Road ~ Fit From Home
Michelle @ Faith, Family, and Fridays ~ Clearing Out the Clutter in the Home
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Educational Apps
Lisa @ Home to 4 Kiddos ~ Celebrating Lent Introduction
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling ~ Spring Schooling – spring field trips
Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog ~ Christ-Centered Character Training – How We Do It

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/07/homeschool-cooperatives-day-1-defining-a-cooperative-plus-a-giveaway/

Apr 05

Learning to Lead by Example

I used to be the type of mom who tried to get everyone on board with my schemes by nagging. See if any of these comments sound familiar.

Take your shoes off at the door!

Choose a healthy snack.

We need to spend less time on electronics.

Go outside and play.

 

I want to encourage good health in my home. in the past year or so, I have been making some life changes. I have started running. I have completed several 5K’s and a 10K. I have started a low glycemic diet and almost eliminated sugar from my diet. I decided that I couldn’t wait on everyone else to get on board. I realized that the changes had to be made for ME and by ME. I want to be healthy for my kids 10 years from now. I don’t want to be one of the parents of my mom’s generation who so poured into their kids, that they neglected to take care of themselves. Now this is not a pass on neglecting your kids, but I believe that I am a better mom when I feed myself nutritious foods and exercise regularly. My stress levels decrease, I feel better physically and I am able to lead my kids by example. When they see mom choose a healthy snack instead of a soda or candy bar, it is influencing what they see as normal. After losing 29 pounds with these small changes, I have gradually seen my family start to come on board. We are out walking the dog, my husband has run 3 races with me, he recently set out to lose some weight himself and my boys are becoming more aware of their food choices. My daughter(4) will ask me sometimes at meals,

“Is this Trim Healthy Mama?”

Color Run to your healthToday, we spent the morning running a 5K. I ran with my husband and was able to keep up with him the whole way! (He is fast compared to me) These little accomplishments are such an encouragement. My 11 year old ran the race with some friends and our youngest son cheered us on!

I am finding that I need to let my kids see some of the rules in action. If mom takesher shoes off at the door, takes media breaks, chooses healthy snacks, and goes outside to play, the kids are much more likely to follow suit and take my advice.

 

Let’s resolve to encourage our kids by setting the example for them. Who knows, they may begin to follow our example!

 Run to encourage good health

Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/05/learning-to-lead-by-example/

Apr 02

Purex Crystals Limited Edition Fabulously Fresh Scent – A Review and Giveaway!

Crystals-LEFF-Insiders-Websi

About the Product

Purex Crystals

 

I recently joined a team of Purex Insiders to receive new products to test and review. My first product sample I received for review was the Purex Crystals in-wash fragrance booster Limited Edition Fabulously Fresh scent. This product is made of 87% natural crystals. The product is meant to be placed in the wash at the beginning of the washing cycle and is safe for front loading or top-loading washing machines. You may also use them in HE machines.

 

Purex crystals

 

You place the crystals directly on top of the laundry and NOT in the liquid softener dispenser. The scent infuses your laundry with scent that lasts for weeks. It also does not reduce the absorbency of towels. There are other scents available including Purex Crystals for Baby. I  was so excited to try this product.

How I Used the Product

I immediately decided that I wanted to try this product in my homemade laundry detergent recipe. I make five gallons at a time and my biggest concern with my homemade recipe is there is not much of a scent to the detergent. I have tried adding essential oils and different scented detergent, but nothing really did what I wanted it to do. Enter Purex Crystals….

purex crystals

 

The first thing I did was to take a couple of capfuls of the crystals and place them in a heat-proof bowl. Then I boiled a kettle of water and added it to the bowl.

I stirred until it was dissolved and I ended up with a very heavily scented concentrate.

 

 

Using Purex Crystals

 

Then I simply poured the mixture into my homemade detergent and gave it a good mix.

The end result was a wonderfully floral scented detergent. I was so happy to find a solution in this product.

 

 

My Opinion of the Product

We went from stinky laundry…….

Purex Crystals

 

To fresh laundry….

Purex Crystals

Thank you PUREX!

Register to win a $1000 shopping spree courtesy of Purex and a one year supply of Purex Crystals. And if you don’t win that, you can just enter my giveaway below. Share this with friends because three of my readers will win!

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Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/04/02/purex-crystals-limited-edition-fabulously-fresh-scent-a-review-and-giveaway/

Mar 31

Captivated – A Documentary Challenging You to Evaluate Your Use of Media

Captivated Movie Review

I was recently provided with a copy of the DVD Captivated, Finding Freedom in a Media Captive Culture produced by Media Talk 101 for review. After reading the synopsis of the documentary and watching the trailer, I felt that this video may speak to a need in our home. I grew up in a Christian home where we removed the television from our home for a season. I fondly remember evenings playing games indoors, tossing around a baseball or playing tag in the yard, and times reading God’s Word on the front porch. We made a choice not to let media and entertainment take center stage in our life. It was not easy and it only lasted for a season, but nonetheless, I look back on it as beneficial. Fast forward thirty years, and the advances in technology are astounding. We are bombarded on every side by computers, smartphones, gaming devices, social media, the ability to record our favorite shows and fast forward the commercials, and the list goes on. How do we as Christians use discernment when making media choices for our families? How does media use affect us on a daily basis?

Captivated Movie Review

The award-winning Captivated DVD is available for $16.95 with free shipping at the time of this review. The running time is 107 minutes and there is over two hours of bonus features on the DVD. The DVD is intended for adults but is approved for all audiences. You will find interviews from well-known media experts and Christian leaders such as Ray Comfort, Dr. Jeff Myers, Dr. Ted Baehr, Kevin Swanson, KP Yohannan and more. There are testimonies from individuals representing every facet of media from a Nascar fan to a woman addicted to Farmville. As they share their stories, you begin to see a pattern. As media usage increases, freedom to enjoy the outdoors, time with family and God decreases. We only have so much time in a day and one of the messages of this DVD is to use the time we have on this earth wisely. Parents will be encouraged to lead by example in encouraging our kids to make wise choices regarding media usage. The DVD is broken down into five sections labeled:

  • Consumption – discusses the facts of media consumption in our society
  • Content – explores the effect media content has on our lives over time and how it can erode our moral fabric
  • Captivity – this section reveals the enamoring factor of media and how it can easily take us captive
  • Battleground – we learn about the battleground of the mind and how we can choose the diet that we meditate on and feed our souls
  • and the Freedom that can be found in allowing Christ to direct our media choices and the blessings that others have found from taking media breaks

After watching the Captivated DVD from Media Talk 101 with my husband I was challenged by the interviews and interesting researched facts about media. This documentary reminded me that media has a great potential for negatively affecting our families when given a wrongful place in our lives. Producer and co-director Phillip Telfer with the help of award winning director Colin Gunn seeks to challenge believers and the church to take a look at the influence media has in our lives and begin to make wise choices regarding our media habits. I was moved to tears at the end of the video as I reflected on how much time is wasted on media in our home. I think about the work that needs to be accomplished for Christ’s kingdom and I think of all the Christians, including my family, sitting on their sofas night after night wasting precious time watching TV, playing video games and reading statuses on Facebook. Is this a sin? I don’t believe media and entertainment are sins in and of themselves, but can we find ourselves captivated by other masters than the Lord Jesus Christ? My answer is absolutely yes and the world makes it so easy to be drawn in little by little.

Captivated Movie Review

 

So what will I do with this information? How will it affect me? After considering the content of the documentary, I was challenged to evaluate my personal use of media. Will the moments of the remaining years of my life be spent wisely, or will I waste precious time on media. I took a hard look at my own consumption of media and realized that I need to take media breaks occasionally. I need to take time to unplug and enjoy quiet time with my family that is uninterrupted by the noise and addiction of media. Although I love technology and it is a big part of my life as a blogger, I need to learn to say no and unplug more often. I am challenging myself to set aside Sundays to turn off my cell phone and stay off the laptop to give myself time with my loved ones, time with God and time to read and play the piano. I have talked with my husband about trying a one to two week TV turnoff and computer fast over the summer as well. This documentary may not speak the same message to you, but I promise that you will learn some interesting facts about the effects of media on our society by watching this film. I found it very educational and inspiring.

You can connect with Media Talk on Facebook and Twitter and if you would like to read other crewmates opinion of the DVD, click the graphic below.

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Permanent link to this article: http://conversaving.com/2014/03/31/captivated-a-documentary-challenging-you-to-evaluate-your-use-of-media/

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