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Cursive ABC Flashcards and Posters – Free Printables

Many of you requested a cursive version of the beginning sounds alphabet flash cards and alphabet wall posters to use with your children. These are some of my favorite printables because of the colors and pictures, so of course I wanted to help you all out!

Each card and poster features an image whose initial sound begins with that letter. There are two sets of cards, one featuring cartoon images and another with real pictures, so you can choose which ones you prefer.

Cursive ABC Flashcards

The cursive alphabet flashcards are a fun size for children. We have a set printed off onto cardstock and laminated. They are on a jump ring so we can hang them easily near a desk for quick reference. Each of the flash cards is 2” x 3” in size or about the size of a deck of cards.

Cursive ABC Flashcards

 

Cursive Alphabet Posters

If you are a classroom teacher, or have more space on your walls, you may want to download the Cursive ABC Posters. The wall posters show how the upper and lowercase letters are formed, giving children a great visual on letter formation.

Cursive ABC Wall Cards

These posters are 8 1/2” x 11” in size and one set features real images {they match the Beginning Sounds Poster and several of the other Preschool Alphabet printables} while the second set has clip art images ~ both are cute!

 

Additional Printables You May Enjoy… 

Alphabet Flashcards Alphabet Wall Posters

 

Prefer a standard handwriting font? You can grab a copy of the ABC Flashcards and ABC Posters here.

A few other related printables that may help you out as well…

You can find more Early Learning Printables {all for FREE} on my website. Have fun looking!!

 

Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2013-2014

This year marks the beginning of our eighth year homeschooling. Typing those words seems so very strange. I truly cannot believe that it has been that long!

Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2013

Our children will be in 1st, 3rd/4th, 5/6th, and 7th grades. Our 7th grader is working hard to finish two years of curriculum during the year so that she can complete the 8th grade by the end of the year {gulp!}.

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

 Here’s a peek at what we’re planning to use this year. It’s entirely possible that I’ve managed to leave something off the list – which means I many edit it as the year progresses!

History {Daily}

Mystery of History-1

Our ‘core’ focus this year will be Mystery of History Vol. 3 by Linda Hobar. In addition to the main book, we are using the following go-along digital pieces from Bright Ideas Press:

Bible {Daily}

Language Arts {Daily}

Spelling {Bi-Weekly}

All About Spelling-1

Writing {Daily}

Reading ~ {Daily}

  • 1st Grade ~ finishing All About Reading Level 1 and then moving on to All About Reading Level 2
  • 4th Grade ~ All About Reading Level 3 {when released} and then books at reading level for independent reading.
  • 6th and 7th Grade~ Books at reading level to go along with Mystery of History 3. We will  be tracking books using our Reading Log and writing reports using this Book Report Form.
  • Entire family ~ We will also have read-alouds for the whole family during the week and I’m working on that list. The bulk of the books will go along with our studies, but we want to include some other fun books to read during the year too.

Math {Daily}

Science {Varies by Grade}

Handwriting {Daily}

Art {Once a Week}

PE {When I Remember…}

Spanish {Bi-Weekly}

Curriculum Choices from Years Past…

If you’d like to see what curriculum we’ve used in years past, click on one of the posts below. Grade levels taught each year are listed with the posts.

Additional Resources: Unfamiliar with some of the curriculum choices above? Follow the links below to learn more about the companies and resources:

What is on your curriculum list for the upcoming year? Join up with the 2013 Curriculum Blog hop by clicking on the link below.

Curriculum Week in the 2013 Not Back to School Blog Hop

 

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How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum for a Child with Special Needs

As a former special education teacher, children with special needs are very dear to my heart. Today I am excited to have Kathy Kuhl, author of  Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, share her insight and advice to families on choosing homeschool curriculum for a child with special needs.

 How to Homeschool Children with Special Needs

Choosing Curriculum for a Child with Special Needs

Folks often ask me to recommend homeschool curriculum for their child with special needs. But it’s like asking me to recommend shoes. I have questions: what size, width, and activity? Any color they can’t stand? What have they tried and how did that work—or not?

Every child is unique, but here are my steps to shopping for curriculum.

1. Study your child first, and make a short list.

With a child with special needs, we parents are tempted to focus on weaknesses in basic skills and academics. List them, but also notice strengths. Passing math or spelling is something to celebrate! Being able to explain 27 kinds of horses, rocks, or locomotives is a strength—even if you hear way too much about it. Note those passions. If your child loves music, drawing, storytelling, or talking to people—even if they aren’t good at it yet—write that down.

Build your plans around their passions, strengths, and weaknesses. When you’ve got that written (keep it short), you are ready to:

2. Set goals for the year.

  • Not too many. One friend showed me her goals for 3 months. But I couldn’t do them in a year. You might hire a special education consultant to help you be realistic.
  • Don’t neglect basic life skills, whether it’s learning to wash hands, fix dinner, balance a checkbook, or deal with a disagreement with a friend. If the child is doing something that drives you crazy, like not putting away shoes, even that is a candidate for your list.

3. Network with other families.

Now that you know what you want to focus on, ask friends with kids with similar issues what they use. Don’t know anyone homeschooling a child like yours? Join Yahoo lists and online forums. Search the groups’ archives, in case someone asked your question last year.

If you aren’t on any Yahoo lists yet, search Yahoo groups for “homeschool” plus whatever special needs you are working with; e.g. “homeschool deaf,” “homeschool dyslexic” and also more general lists, like “homeschool special needs.”

4. Get a hands-on look at curriculum.

If you can go to a homeschool convention, go. Handling the materials, you learn things a catalog or website won’t tell. How big is the type and spacing? How colorful? How many practice problems? Are there alternate versions of quizzes and tests? (Some of us need second and third chances.) Talk to the representatives—many know plenty.

Remember, these are often small businesses and homeschool families, so support them by purchasing from them. If you need time to go home and think, ask if they’ll extend that convention discount a week.

5. Watch for bargains.

Sometimes you’ll find something marvelous that doesn’t fit your plans. Perhaps you had other plans for science, but then you saw something you know your child would love. Does it fit your larger goals?

pinkshoe

Image courtesy of Kathy Kuhl

Last month I was looking for a pair of ivory pumps. I never imagined I’d buy pink slings. But I saw a cute, well-made pair, marked down. I realized they fit my wardrobe. I changed my plan, but kept to my goal, and kept under budget.

By studying your child, setting goals, networking, handling the merchandise, and thinking creatively when you find unexpected bargains, you can turn the chore of shopping for curriculum, into—if not fun, at least a satisfying shopping experience.

imageKathy Kuhl, the author of Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner, helps parents help kids who are gifted, discouraged, challenged – or all three. Kathy is a veteran homeschool mom and former classroom teacher. Visit LearnDifferently.com to sign up for her newsletter and find great resources.

Homeschool Basics

This post is a part of the Homeschool Basics series. Be sure to read the other posts if you are just joining in. For the record, I am not an expert. I’m a homeschool mom who is sharing what she’s learned so far along the way with her own family.

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Learning Jar Activities

Our bookshelves and bins are full of learning manipulatives that have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle. Thanks to an idea from Ami at Walking by the Way, we’ve found a fun way to add them into our school time and also fill those time gaps that inevitably happen in our homeschool day.

  Learning Jar Activities

Meet our  Learning Jar. Stuffed inside this jar there are bunches of colorful pieces of paper. Each of the colored slips has the name of a learning manipulative or activity written on it. Pssst…I’ll share a list below of some of our favorites!

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On each of our kids Workbox Weekly Grid schedule, there is a small card for a ‘jar activity’. When there is a lull in their schoolwork or they need to wait for my help during the day, they open up the jar and pull our a slip of paper that is their color and work on that activity. Each color is for a different child – purple: Laurianna, yellow: McKenna, blue: Zachary, and green: Kaleb.

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Once the activity is completed, the slip of paper is dropped into the finished jar. Certain children have been know to otherwise ‘stack’ the jar in their favor to get the same activity each day {ahem}.

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The basket is stuffed to overflowing!

A few of the activities are stored in a bin on our school shelves and there are others located around the school room. Before writing activities and names of games on the paper slips, I went through the room shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer, and wrote down the names of everything in a notebook.

At one point I even got all crazy organized and had the activities divided out by categories, but that eventually was put aside. Then the paper slip writing began and the jar was filled to overflowing.

Ideas for Your Learning Jar

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Here is a list of the learning games, puzzles, and other activities that we have listed in our Learning Jar for the kids to grab and do. Keep in mind, some of these may involve another child, so if someone isn’t available, the kids will grab another slip and save that one out to use as soon as they can!

Don’t forget to take a peek at Ami’s list of learning ideas – she has many that we don’t use! :)

Puzzles and Learning Manipulatives

Educational and Other Fun Games

Learning Printables and Ideas

    Have a few of these learning printables ready to go and add them to your list!

 

What are some activities and games that you would add to your Learning Jar? I’m always on the lookout for new things to add! Would you leave a comment with your suggestion?

 

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How to Navigate Homeschool Standardized Testing

Homeschool Standardized Testing

 

Pages of unfilled little circles can seem overwhelming. For many homeschool families, the words ‘standardized testing’ might strike a chord of fear. Although the tests are intended for the students, they can be a bit of a challenge for the parents as well.

Homeschool standardized testing was something that scared me to death at first. I was worried that our children would somehow massively fail the test and red flags would begin going up all over the county school offices and our children would be brought in for further evaluation. {For the record, that didn’t happen – grins}.

We live in a state where one of our yearly assessment options is submitting results from a standardized test beginning in the first grade. After reviewing the different testing options, we elected to use the IOWA test – it wasn’t as intense as some tests, but also covered a bit more than some other tests we reviewed. For consistency, we have used the same test each year to gauge our children’s progress. While our state only requires us to submit test results for three specific areas, we work on the entire test.

Are You Required to Use Standardized Tests?

Some states require yearly testing starting with younger children, other allow more relaxed testing standards, and other states require no testing at all. Remember that testing requirements vary from state to state, so be sure to check your state laws and know what is required from you and your children {check HSLDA for current information}.

There may be options for end of the year assessment other than standardized testing that can include a yearly portfolio, assessment by a certified teacher, etc. Again – know your state laws and do what you feel is right for your family based on the options available in your state.

For additional help, be sure to visit this post: Know the Homeschool Laws of Your State.

The Process of Standardized Testing

Choose a test that works for your family. Once you have determined the type of testing that is required for your state, you’ll need to find a test that will work for your family. Things to consider when choosing a test: Are you able to be the test administrator? What is the cost of the test? What areas are you required to test?

There are a multitude available, and below you’ll find a quick link to several of the most common test choices. Tests are available to order through various companies, so be sure to look around before deciding on the vendor.

    • IOWA Test of Basic Skills {ITBS}
    • Stanford Achievement Test
    • California Achievement Test {CAT}
    • Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills {CTBS}
    • Peabody Individual Test (PIAT)

HSLDA has a great resource page for families listing various testing choices as well as vendors that carry various tests.

Administer the test. Depending on the test you choose to use with your child, you may be able to administer the test yourself {be sure to get certified in plenty of time before the tests}. Some tests will allow you as the parent to test your child, while other require someone else do the testing for you. In our area there are private schools that will administer the test for a fee.

Testing time usually take 2-3 hours a day over the course of several days. Depending on your child, you may be able to squeeze more into a day. Our older children are now at the point where they don’t want to drag it out, and they request to get it done over the course of 1-2 days.

For some great test taking tips, be sure to check out this article from HSLDA: 7 Test Taking Skills to Teach Your Child

Return completed test. Once the testing period is completed, you’ll need to gather your testing materials and return the test and any additional testing materials to the vendor for grading. We typically send our results via certified mail so that we can verify they were received by the vendor.

Interpret and submit testing results. Trying to decipher all the numbers and norms can be a bit tricky. Here are a few articles to help you navigate the number maze:

Tips for Standardized Testing

Be prepared! Spend some time the week before you begin testing reviewing the materials yourself {if you are the administrator} and preparing your child for what is coming.

Choose a testing environment that works for you. While some of your children may do well with lots of noise and action going on around them, quiet may be needed. You know your child better than anyone, so be sure to remove any distractions from the testing area {maybe a pet is a favorite distraction or your child is distracted by external noises}.

We’ve had different scenarios each year, but typically try to find a quiet spot away from other children to work on testing. There have been years we’ve had additional help {i.e. I tested a friend’s child while she watched my other ones} or we’ve had a fun movie marathon for the other kids to ensure some quiet time for testing.

Have lots of pencils, erasers, and necessary tools on hand. While super sharp pencils are wonderful, slightly dull pencils work a bit better to fill in those circles. Inevitably our children manage to break numerous pencils, so we keep a supply on hand along with the large erasers to help with any mistakes.

Some tests may allow for scratch paper or calculators, so be sure everything is in place before you begin. That way you won’t need to go scrounging for things at the last minute.

Take lots of breaks and make it fun. Before testing begins, I pull out snacks {as well as a few fun treats} and plan some break activities for the testee so s/he is ready to go. Every few sections of testing we take a quick break to grab a quick treat, take a bathroom break if needed, and then get back to work. After a good chunk of testing has been completed, we take a fun break to play Wii or something similar.

Hint: Be sure to avoid snacks that are messy and/or greasy – they could stain testing materials!

Get plenty of rest the night before. This pretty much goes without saying, but sleep {or lack thereof} can make a big difference in how your child will perform on the test. Don’t forget that mom needs to get some rest too!

Watch your attitude. This is just a test. If you are showing anxiety or hovering over your child, it can affect how your child responds to the test. We have one child who gets very emotional when she doesn’t fully comprehend something that is being asked on the test. Before testing I always remind our children that they do not have to score perfectly, know every answer – and it is ok if they don’t! They just need to do the best that they can.

CELEBRATE!! Our testing time typically marks the end of our school year – take a night to celebrate with an ice cream party, a special dinner out, or something unique to your family. Make it a night to remember!

 

Things to Remember for Before and After Standardized Testing

  • Know your state’s deadlines for turning in testing results. Our school district has a date for submitting testing results that differs from a few other key dates we need to remember {submitting our letter of intent, etc…}.
  • Leave ample time for test taking, returning the tests and receiving test results. Typically turnaround time is between 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the time of year that you test. Be sure to order and schedule your testing and leave yourself some wiggle room for sick kiddos so the testing results will be received in time to submit them to the appropriate offices.
  • Keep a copy of the testing results on file for your records. Several years ago we switched school districts and the school district we moved from refused to forward any of our testing and school records on file to the new district. Every year I made duplicate copies of the letters and testing results that were submitted, so I was able to quickly copy those and mail them in.

How Much Does Standardized Testing Cost?

If you are administering your own test, you can expect to pay between $20 to $50 on average. Some families choose to have someone else proctor the test, which can add an additional fee. The cost will vary based on the test that your family chooses to use for testing and also on the age/grade level of your child.

For example, we use the IOWA test {ordered from BJU Press} which actually dropped in price for our older children this past year. Part of this is due to the materials that are provided for testing. Because I am able to administer the test to our children, we do not pay any other fees other than return mailing to the company for scoring.

Keep Your Perspective

Standardized testing is simply a tool to assess your child’s progress. This isn’t a pass or fail test. For our family it has been a way to also look at the homeschool goals that we set at the beginning of the year and compare how those areas match up with what they were tested on. There have been years where one child has struggled in certain areas, and then the next year that child improved remarkably.

Remember that standardized testing is only a ‘snapshot’ of the progress your child is making. There is so much more to your school year than what is summed up in a few pages of a test!

Does your state require testing? What test has your family used for standardized testing? Do you have a helpful tip to help make standardized testing easier? Leave a comment and share!

Homeschool Basics

This post is a part of the Homeschool Basics series. Be sure to read the other posts if you are just joining in. For the record, I am not an expert. I’m a homeschool mom who is sharing what she’s learned so far along the way with her own family.

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Homeschool Basics Series

Over the last few months I’ve been running the Homeschool Basics series and answering some of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received about homeschooling. There are still more posts planned in the series, so stay tuned over the next two months.

Are you enjoying it so far and finding it helpful?

In case you are newer to this site, here’s a quick sum up of what we’ve covered. Just click on the graphic to go directly to that post.

Have a question that you don’t see answered? Please feel free to leave a comment and ask! I’d be happy to squeeze in a post or two.

What are the homeschool laws in my state What Age Should I Start Homeschooling Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png
Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy Goals and Purpose in Homeschooling How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum
How to Plan Your Homeschool Day Homeschooling in High School When curriculum isn't working - www.homeschoolcreations.net
How to Homeschool on a Limited Budget How to Homeschool Multiple Ages copy Weekly Homeschool Planner 300 FTF copy

 

A Few More Posts You Might Find Helpful…

  • Creating a Homeschool Binder
  • Organizing Homeschool Paperwork
  • A Homeschool Classroom

     

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