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Resource of the month

Each month, we will highlight a resource we think just plain needs to be shared. Do you have a resource that you think should be in this lineup? Send me a note!
If the list gets long enough, we may just make this a weekly feature!

Salisbury Zoo

posted Sep 8, 2013, 4:54 AM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Sep 8, 2013, 4:55 AM ]

This year, I'd like to highlight our local resources, and what better way than to start with our local zoo?? 

The Salisbury Zoo, tucked into one end of Salisbury's City Park, provides a unique look at animals from all over the Americas. It's intimate park setting offers a beautiful, easy walk, and close-up views of the animals who call the zoo their home, every day of the year, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Enjoy a picnic and some play time at Ben's Red Swings, an accessible playground just outside the park's west entrance before or after your animal adventure.

If you'd like something a bit more structured, the education department hosts homeschool programs every first and third Thursdays of the month, featuring a different topic related to their animals each month. See the schedule on the Zoo's "Events and News" page (linked above), and don't forget to scroll down to view their other seasonal events.

Planners, Part III: The Paper

posted Jul 16, 2013, 7:09 AM by Angela Bourassa

The last category of planners is really the first category: Paper. Back in the early days of digital planners (Palm Pilot, anyone?), I was firmly attached to my Daytimer, and swore that it was preferable to the buggy devices that had to be docked and synced with your PC. Short of fire or catastrophic flood, my paper planner would never fail me, I reasoned. 

Well, those were the days before cloud sync, but sometimes that paper planner is exactly what you want. Below are some popular ones that may be the perfect fit for your planning, old-school style.

This is just a sampling. There are so many planners - particularly printable ones - that we could never compile a full list. 

Well-Planned Day - This is where the software I talked about in Part II got its start. And, like the software, it really is a full-service household planner for homeschooling moms: monthly calendars, weekly lesson planning pages (for four students), grades, report cards... space for weekly menus, shopping lists (grocery, books), holiday planning, household maintenance, finances, and an essay for each month, all rolled into a beautifully illustrated, bound (and surprisingly slim) volume that spans a full year, July-June. (Oh, and they have planners for your students, if they're old enough to be self directed)

There are weekly Bible verses and catechism, if you're so inclined, as well.

So, if you felt drawn to their software, but torn because you prefer a paper format, here's your best-of-all-worlds solution!

Type: Spiral bound
Cost: $26.95  
Features: All of them. There is nothing they have overlooked, including perforating the shopping lists for east tear-out.

Donna Young - The great site known for all sorts of printables - handwriting, notebooking, math practice, you name it - also has planner sheets. These collections cover every manner of planning and recording your homeschooling year, from monthly calendars to lesson plan sheets, to journal pages and lists. 

Print the sheets you want, and bind them in your preferred method: 3-ring, Circa/Arc, take them to Staples and have them professionally bound, even. Add shopping and household maintenance lists, and you've got an all in one planner for your whole life!  

Type: Printable
Cost: Free
Features: Customizable, print the pages that pertain to you. 

And, in no particular order, I will rattle off some other paper (you-print) planners that are lurking out there. Give them a view and see if something speaks to you!

Colorful Homeschool Planner from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Lots of pages to customize your own, landscape orientation. 
Type: You-print
Cost: $5  
Homeschool Planner and Student Assignment Book Pages from Mom's Tool Belt
Make your master planner, and a student planner for the kids. 
Type: You-print
Cost: $24.95 lifetime membership (which includes all past, present and future planner pages in all areas, including household and homeschooling)
Ultimate CM Planner from Homeschool Swag 
Charlotte Mason style planning and journaling. 
Type: You-print
Cost: Free  
The Homeschool Planner by Heather Bixler
Planner pages, as well as some uncommon, and useful, pages for project and experiment planning, book reports, etc. In addition, there is a members' area where custom forms can be requested. 
Type: You-print
Cost: $7 for life, but sign up for the newsletter and get a $5-off coupon. 

Planners, Part II: Subscription

posted Jul 10, 2013, 6:40 AM by Angela Bourassa

This week, I want to give you some more web-based electronic planners to play with. These are subscription based - either monthly or annually - though the cost is, in my opinion, reasonable, and each has a trial period for you to fiddle with it and see if it fits your learning style and recording needs.

First up is HomeSchool Minder.
The first thing you'll notice about this web-based planner is the clean user interface. Don't let its uncluttered appearance fool you; this planner has lots of tools and a fabulous menu of reports. 

Lesson planning is simple, and classwork and assignments (gradable) are broken out by course and student. Rescheduling is a simple "drag and drop" on the customizable calendar. The only thing missing, in our trial use, is an incrementing copy feature for lessons, and I have no doubt this feature will be coming, since they are constantly rolling out updates. 

And just in case you want to see how things work, there are lots of well done video tutorials. 

Type: Electronic - web
Cost: $4.99 monthly or $39.99 annually
Trial: 30 days, full access

Scholaric is next on our list and, again, you will find a clean interface with very straightforward tools at your disposal. The program has fewer bells and whistles than some others, but that's not always a bad thing.

One week at a time is displayed in the lesson planning module, and discreet drop down menus allow you to customize the features of courses and individual days. You can repeat incrementing lessons over any number of days, and can bump lessons back and forth in the schedule if you find yourself a day behind or ahead. 

The only reports appear to be a report card and daily student agenda. 

If you plan weekly, or record your lessons as you go, daily journal style, this planner would be an excellent choice. 

Type: Electronic - web
Cost: $3 monthly
Trial: 30 days, full access

Finally, we have a web planner that was released last year, with great anticipation: My Well-Planned Day.

If you're familiar with the paper version of this planner, you know that this is an all-in-one go-to for the homeschooling parent. (And if you're not, I'll fill you in with my next planner segment on printed planners.)

The web-based version is no different. Customizable for your whole family? Yes. Chores, appointments, menu plans, shopping lists? You bet. It even has expense tracking. On the run? Sure, there's an app for that! And it's all packaged in a beautiful (and changeable) interface that is in keeping with the visual appeal of the paper planner from whence it sprang. 

Type: Electronic - web
Cost: $65 annually
Trial: No trial, but lots of video tutorials to give you an idea of how it works.

Next week: Going old-school with paper planners

Planners, Part I: The Free

posted Jul 4, 2013, 5:05 PM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Jul 4, 2013, 5:08 PM ]

There is no way I could break these up and and parse them out month by month. There are too many, and too many of us our using our summer to plan the coming school year. So, for the month of July, I will be pelting you with cool planners. 

I haven't used all of these, though I have, at some point or another, at least fiddled with them. Do look for reviews when you find one that interests you; sometimes a pretty website masks some pretty significant issues with the product, just as (in at least one case) out of date looking user forums may raise an eyebrow, but their customer service is quick and professional. 

Today, I present, in honor of Independence Day, the free ones. Here are three to get you started.  Have fun! (Click the green labels to take you there) 

This planning and reporting tool has been around for quite a while and, though it's not entirely free, their Basic edition is, and it's what hooked many of us early in our homeschooling. 

They offer both downloaded (PC) and web versions this software package. 

Plan lessons, record days, keep track of books and other resources. Adjust your schedule in a few clicks. Print daily, weekly, monthly agenda, and lots of other reports. Be warned, though: there is a learning curve with HST. Luckily, they provide a nice user manual and helpful videos to show you how to get the most out of their huge menu of features, and have a long history of outstanding customer service.

Type: Electronic
Cost: PC version is free (HST Basic) or $49 (HST+), 
         Web version is $7.50/month or $60/year
Trial: TGHomeSoft does not offer a trial version of HST+ or HSTOnline, however, you may purchase a 30 day license for HST+ for $5, or a single month of HSTOnline for $7.50

This free web-based planning tool is quite robust in its own right. In addition to slick scheduling features, it provides a full complement of reports, including transcripts. Organizational features make it easy to 

There are video how-to tutorials for not only the main features, but different approaches to using them.

Type: Electronic
Cost: Free
Trial: No trial of this free planner. It's free. (You do have to log in at least once a year to keep your account active, and they'll send you an email before that year is up, to remind you)

Again, this is a free, web-based, fully-featured planner and tracking tool. A single family login accesses the planner, then mom (and dad!) have password protected teacher identities. Kids each have their own interface, which provides their daily agenda and allows them to mark off work completed. 

It is not as complex as some of the others but, in this case, I think that is an asset. 

Type: Electronic
Cost: Free
Trial: No trial of this free planner. It's free. 

Organized Christmas

posted Nov 1, 2012, 6:30 PM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Jun 4, 2013, 3:29 AM ]

I know it's not a homeschool specific site, but we're homeschoolers and, let's face it, we have a LOT on our plates (and many of us have a LOT on every surface of the house, too, not that I have any idea of what that's like <cough cough>
Anyway, I thought we might all benefit from a little organization so we don't hit the new year as quivering, stressed out masses under our own dining tables. 
Enter, Organized Christmas. They will take you on a daily countdown of preparation and inspiration, delivering you to a relaxed, enjoyable holiday. 

Guest Hollow

posted Oct 4, 2012, 8:13 AM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Jun 4, 2013, 3:29 AM by Angela Bourassa ]

Guest Hollow

You know how they say, "You get what you pay for"? Well, our October Resource of the Month, Guesthollow.com, throws that old saying right out the window!  Jenn, of Guest Hollow, is an absolute WIZ at creating interesting and thorough lesson plans  - and complete curricula offerings - that follow a Classical education model. She also shares wonderful printables and reviews. And she does it all for free. 

Click the pic! Fiddle around and enjoy the awesomeness that is Jenn!


posted Sep 1, 2012, 7:04 AM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Jun 4, 2013, 3:29 AM by Angela Bourassa ]

If you're like me and many other homeschoolers, "box day" - the day when your second favorite man, the UPS driver, shows up on your porch with curriculum and school supply purchases - is practically a holiday in your house. CurrClick may beat out Charlie, our UPS driver, in popularity here, though... or they are at least neck-and-neck!

CurrClick has a tremendous offering of affordable, ready to download offerings from many publishers in the Perennial Favorites category for homeschoolers, as well as new-to-us companies. In addition, they offer live classes in several subject areas, taught by passionate, qualified instructors.

Huge selection, great prices... instant gratification! Charlie who?

Hearts at Home Store

posted Jun 20, 2012, 9:08 AM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Jun 4, 2013, 3:29 AM by Angela Bourassa ]

Click here to checkout this sale!

Didn't I already put up a resource of the month for June? Well, yes I did, but the Hearts at Home summer sale was too good to wait for!
I love Hearts at Home.  Their selection is excellent, customer service unrivaled, and their prices are some of the best I've found.  And that is outside of their sales!  Oh, and guess what? They're homeschoolers, too! 

Click the banner above, and browse around for your favorite resources!

June 2012 - Book Adventure

posted Jun 13, 2012, 8:53 AM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Jun 13, 2012, 9:36 AM by Angela Bourassa ]

Book Adventure allows parents and teachers to create reading challenges for their students! Browse books according to grade level, create challenges and prizes, or volunteer to be a quiz creator!

Sign up as a teacher on the site, and select Many Paths of Natural Learning - Eastern Shore as your school under Maryland > Caroline County (or zip code 21629), or click the "My district/school is not listed" link and create your own. 

August - Homeschool Buyer's Co-op

posted Aug 6, 2011, 8:18 AM by Angela Bourassa   [ updated Aug 6, 2011, 5:52 PM by Angela Bourassa ]

Homeschool Buyers Co-op
#1 Way to Save
As they say at HBC, "School districts get discounts - why not homeschoolers?" Well, thanks to the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op, we do!
They have negotiated exclusive discounts for everything from curriculum to hotels, and every month they present multiple offerings for time-limited group buys they have negotiated with publishers.  And freebies? Yeah, they've got those, too.
From core curriculum to electives, from art to SAT test prep, they probably have what you've been looking for. (And if not, they take requests!)
Membership is simple: Click their logo above and create your free account.

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