Monday, February 28, 2011

Math U See Stewardship Curriculum Give Away!!

Homeschooling is not just about the three R's, it is also about teaching life skills. Stewardship of money is one of those basic life skills we must teach our children. Math U See has the perfect curriculum for doing just this!

Stewardship comprises 3 books, the Teacher Manual, Student Text and Devotionals. The Teacher manual and student text contain 30 lessons on a variety of topics from checking, to comparison shopping, to the cost of operating a car, to maintaining your home. The Devotional has 38 lessons on financial principles based on the word of God.

Here is a sampling of chapters from the Stewardship teacher manual…

■Earning Money
■Percents at the Store
■Credit Cards
■Comparison Shopping
■Evaluating Phone Plans
■Best Value/Best Price
■Large Ticket Purchases
■Automobiles, Purchase

Plus, it teaches from a Biblical perspective! It's never too soon to start teaching your child God would have us handle our finances!

Now for the fun part! I am giving away ONE Math U See Stewardship Curriculum plus you will also get a Family Worship Book and His Story My Story!! For one(1) entry you can Follow My Blog. For one(1) entry you can "Like" Molding Minds Homeschool on Facebook. . For one(1) entry you can Share On Facebook or on on your favorite social media site (to share just cut and paste this blog into your status and let me know where you shared). For one(1) entry you can follow Molding Minds on Twitter. This is a total of FOUR(4) chances to win! Please post a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry and be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you at if you win!

Winner will be draw on March 15th !

Free Subscription to Family Fun Magazine!

We love this magazine and for a limited time you can get a 1 year subscription for free. Plum District is offering a $5 subscription to Family Fun as one of their deals. Even better though, is that new members will get $5 off of their first purchase! This means this deal is FREE!!! The $5 credit is only good with email referrals so in order to get it you will need to email me your email or leave it as a comment on this post and I will send you the referral link. Go through the link in the email and you will get your credit!

I use Plum District all the time so I can tell you that this site is totally legit and Disney's Family Fun is a great magazine!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Knowing Your Homeschooling Rights in Texas

We are blessed to be living in a state that has no homeschool regulation, but that doesn't exempt us from sometimes having to deal with others who are ignorant of the Texas Homeschool Laws. Occasionally, especially with those who pull children out of the public school system, find themselves face to face with CPS, truancy officers or a school district demanding proof of homeschooling. Hopefully this information will help you know what to do should one of these come knocking on your door.

1. Know the law.
Texas has no requirements, other than a courtesy letter to your school when you withdraw, for homeschooling. You are not required to get approval of your curriculum, use an accredited curriculum, have a teaching degree or check in with the public school. Once you hand the letter over and withdraw your child, you are completely free of any obligations to the school. There are no minimum hour requirements. Homeschools must be conducted in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum consisting of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship; no other requirements apply.

2. Know your rights.
We all hope that this never happens, but should an official come knocking on your door it is important that you know and are confident in your rights as a parent. First, stay calm and be polite. Manners go along way in diffusing emotional situations. Remember that as misguided as they are, most officials are trying to have the interests of your children in mind. Per the 4th amendment, you are not required to submit to any search that is not accompanied by an official search warrant. Even if you are being threatened, stand your ground. Even if you have nothing to hide, stand your ground. You should also say as little as possible to the agent.
If the agent persists without a search warrant you may want to consider calling the police, but I actually suggest you take step 3.

3. Call a lawyer right then and there.
The HSLDA is an organization specifically for homeschoolers who may find themselves in this situation. Because Texas is such a homeschool friendly state, most of us will probably be ok without joining, but if you find yourself facing a situation that you need a lawyer for they are well known. If you call the lawyer with the agent there, the lawyer is often able to get the agent to see reason.

Remember that no matter what is going on, that your attitude and how you handle the situation is a reflection of your testimony! Be sure that your reaction is firm, but still glorifying to God. Also, this post is not meant to scare. These cases are VERY rare in Texas!

I did my best to provide information that was helpful. I did not read every page of the sites that I referenced. Laws vary from state to state so be sure to check out your state's laws.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Carnivorous Plants Lesson Plans and Resources

Uncle Lonnie always buys the best presents; that is, according to my girls. This time we were surprised with a package that contained a Carnivorous Plant Growing Kit. The girls are more than excited about this! Yesterday we planted the seeds and now have it outside germinating. It takes a while to grow the plants, but I can't wait to not have to hang fly traps in the kitchen.
Here are some resources to help your schooler learn all about carnivorous plants. Be aware that some of these sights may use some evolutionary language:


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meeting Meteorologist Dan Henry

This is one of the things I enjoy most about homeschooling. I have been blessed to be able to set up several really fun activities for our group, but so far this one has been my favorite! Today we had an enrichment class with Fox 4's local Meteorologist Dan Henry!! Ok, so I'm not sure if he counts as a celebrity, but I am telling you that I was star struck enough to be very giddy over getting to meet him!

Dan told us all about how he predicts the weather to what to do if you are caught in severe weather. He even took some questions (and we now know that miss O knows that 3+3=6!). The kids had so much fun, as did the adults and I have listened to the girls talk about the weather all day! Brianna has even requested watching the news so that she can see Dan on TV. I think she is a bit "star struck" Hehe. She has no idea what she is talking about, or maybe she does, but she needs to know if there are any upper level lows coming to Texas!

Even Luke had some questions!

Be sure to check out my post about weather unit studies. There are alot of great resources there, including some freebies! And of course watch Dan Henry on Fox 4 News!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Deal on National Geographic Kids!

Plum District is having a great sale on National Geographic Kids! Get your subscription for just $12!! This nearly a 50% savings! Plus if you are new to Plum District you will get a $5 off your first purchase making this deal even sweeter!

I made a mistake! If you are a first time plum district buyer and would like to get the $5 discount I have to send you an email invite. If you would like the email invite please send me a message at or post your email address in the comments box! I am so sorry for the confusion but still want to offer you the chance to get the discount!

Boudreaux's Butt Paste Review

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boudreaux's Butt Paste. All opinions are 100% mine.

There is nothing quite as painful as taking off a diaper and finding a red swollen bottom. My children all had sensitive bottoms as babies and this presented quite a problem when we needed to choose a diaper rash cream. After trying several brands we discovered Boudreaux's Butt Paste! While other cream's either exacerbated the rash or did nothing at all, Boudreaux's was gentle, easy to apply and best of all it worked.

Boudreaux's Butt Paste is a diaper rash cream that was specially formulated to treat and sooth diaper rash and is pediatrician recommended. Boudreaux's has been featured on many well known and respected shows such as the Tonight show and the Today Show, as well as being featured in People Magazine!

What this natural mama  likes most about Boudreaux's however, is the option to buy a version that is made of  ingredients such as beeswax, Peruvian balsam and other natural ingredients!

Don't just take my word for it though! You can try Boudreaux's Butt Paste for free by mailing in a request for a free sample! Just scroll down and follow the instructions given. While you are browsing the site, check out the other great products that Boudreaux offers. I know you will love it as much as we did.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day Craft: Yarn Hearts with Corn Starch Glue

The girls wanted a Valentine's Day craft and after seeing this in my Family Fun Magazine, I thought we would give it a try.

Corn Starch Glue
Multi-color Yarn
Cookie Cutters in Desired Shapes
Parchment Paper

Corn Starch Glue Recipe:

1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of corn starch

Mix in a sauce pan until combined then slowly heat until the mixture becomes an opaque sticky paste. It will resemble shortening. You will want to stir constantly and stay with the pan because it changes fast!


Cut yarn (I found a skein that had blended colors at walmart for $1.47) into 8"-12" strips
Place cookie cutter on parchment (works best on shiny side)
Push into glue and run fingers down to get excess off (this gets messy so best to have a paper towel near!)
Lay yarn into cookie cutter
After you put as much yarn as you want into the cookie cutter, tear a small piece of parchment off and use it to press the yarn down into the cookie cutter. When you are satisfied with the way it looks gently remove the cookie cutter.
Allow to dry for at least 24 hours.

Enjoy! Great for Pre-school on up!

Homeschool Blog List Link Up

There are so many great homeschooling blogs and I want to be sure to share them with you! Rather than me trying to make a list myself, since I am bound to miss some great ones, I am offering this link-up page which will be kept under my resources tab. If you are a homeschooling blogger feel free to add your blog by using the mr.linky box below!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Homeschooling in the News: The Evolution of Homeschooling.

The same tired arguments about social skills, as if play groups and sports teams are the only ones capable of teaching our children how to socialize, but other than that it is refreshing to see an article that shed's a positive light on homeschooling and the homeschooling movement.

Anne Gebhardt’s kids are learning about geography -- in her dining room in
Bedford, Texas. It’s not your typical schoolhouse, but it’s one that Gebhardt
says is serving her six children well. "We can teach our religious values to our
children freely,” says Gebhardt. “We can teach anything that we want."

Gebhardt is part of a growing trend. Across the county, an estimated 1.5
million children are home schooled and that number's growing. In the span of
eight years, home schooling has grown nationally by almost 75 percent.

Read the rest of the article here...

Baked Donut Recipe

A friend of mine posted some pictures on facebook of some donuts she had made using canned biscuits. I thought, since we are cooped up inside due to the weather, that it would be fun to to make a slightly healthier version with the girls!

The recipe I found bakes the donuts instead of frying them and I swapped the processed ingredients for natural raw ones. Well, except for the butter. I went to put that in and realized I was out of raw butter so had to use my husband's country crock. I also used whole white wheat flour as I just can not get myself to like the texture of whole wheat.

1 1/3 cups warm raw milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons raw butter
2/3 cup rapadura is best but anything is better than white sugar
2 eggs
5 cups all-purpose whole wheat white flour
A pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt - just until the flour is incorporated. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. This is where you are going to need to make adjustments - if your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place (I turn on the oven at this point and set the bowl on top), and let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. Most people (like myself) don't have a doughnut cutter, instead I use a 2-3 inch cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. If you cut the inner holes out any earlier, they become distorted when you attempt to move them. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately if not sooner.
Makes 1 1/2 - 2 dozen medium doughnuts.

Be sure to visit 101 Cookbooks for some great recipes. A lot of which use whole food ingredients!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

American Girl Samantha Valentine's Lapbook

Currclick has a great deal on American Girl Samantha Valentine's Lapbook! For just $1.00 you can get this great Valentine's Day lesson plan and lapbook for your Valentine's Day but only until February 15th, so get it quick!

Phonics Vs Whole Word Reading

If you have a TV then you know all about the Your Baby Can Read that promises your that your baby, as young as 6 months old will learn how to read. Sounds amazing doesn't it? And we all want to give our children a head start with reading. But what is the science behind these types of whole word reading methods and are the better than teaching phonics?

Whole word reading or whole word language, is exactly what the name implies. Instead of breaking the word down into individual sounds, it teaches the child to look at the word as a whole and memorize it by the way it looks. Kind of like looking at a picture of an elephant and memorizing that picture as an elephant except with words.

Benefits: Children can be taught whole word language reading at a young age. It also, generally results in faster results. This may be beneficial to struggling readers. Visual learners have also been shown to benefit from whole word reading. Whole word reading is believed to give better understanding of the text being read.

Cons: Children who use only whole word reading may have difficulty decoding complex words, because of this, whole word reading also leads to greater reading inaccuracy. Spelling unfamiliar words may also be an issue since the reader has nothing to base the spelling on.

Phonics, uses sets of rules to break down individual sounds and blends in order to decode words. Once these rules are learned, readers learn to recognize and obey the rules instantly.

Benefits: Because phonetic rules give a reader the ability to decode, the reader is more likely to be able to read unfamiliar words. Spelling is usually easier for readers who are taught phonics since the reader is able to apply the rules learned.

Cons: Phonics rules can be repetitious. Early readers may have trouble with comprehension due to the constant stopping to break down words. This usually passes as the reader becomes more proficient.

Which is better? Most likely the answer is both. A combination of phonics and whole word reading in the form of sight words will give the ability to decode words but also give the reader words that s/he does not have to decode. Readers who fall severely into visual learning may benifit more from whole word while extreme auditory learners will most likely thrive on phonics.

(Just as a side note)How do I feel about Teach Your Baby to Read? I actually think that it is a bad idea. Besides the fact that there is no scientific evidence that says that early reading is good for baby, you also have to sit your very young child down in front of a TV and then in front of flash cards. I am all for just for letting your baby be a baby!

Whole Language Curriculum Resources
Phonics Approach Curriculum Resources

Monday, February 7, 2011

I'm Just a Sinner Saved by Grace

Homeschooling does not make me more of a Christian than those who send their child to public school. Homeschooling is not a magical cleansing of my filthy unrighteousness or that of my children. Homeschooling does not equal the grace and mercy, justice and punishment, and faith and repentance required to save me or my children from the fate we deserve. Homeschooling does not mean that we are more virtuous, less sinful, or more deserving of Christ's favor. Homeschooling is not Salvation.

We do not homeschool because we believe it is a way to be saved. The Bible very clearly tells us that ALL HAVE SINNED (Romans 3:23) and that there are NONE RIGHTEOUS (Romans 3:10). The Bible also clearly tells us that SALVATION IS NOT BY WORKS (Ephesians 2:8) but through REPENTANCE(II Corinthians 7:10) and Faith IN JESUS CHRIST (Romans 10:9) and that once we are saved NOTHING CAN "UNSAVE" US (John 10:28).

I still believe it is just about IMPOSSIBLE to send a child into the public school system and have them come out whole, but I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BELIEVE that homeschooling is our salvation.

How could I boast of anything I've ever seen or done?
How could I dare to claim as mine the vict'ries God has won?
Where would I be had God not brought me gently to this place?
I'm here to say I'm nothing but a sinner saved by grace

I'm just a sinner saved by grace
When I stood condemned to death
He took my place
Now I live and breathe in freedom with each breath of life I take
Loved and forgiven
Back with the living
I'm just a sinner saved by grace

The Gaither Vocal Band "Sinner Saved By Grace"

Saturday, February 5, 2011

3 Things Every Homeschool Should Have

When I first started writing this I actually had a list of your typical supplies. You know, your art supplies, pattern blocks, and the like. Half-way through, however, I changed my mind. I am getting way ahead of myself. While those are some things that I think would benefit you greatly in your journey, there are a few more important things that I believe every homeschool should have.

1. A Vision or Mission Statement.
As a family(or at least with your spouse) plan a time to sit down and write down why you chose to homeschool. It doesn't have to be formal or fancy, but it should reflect your long term goals for your child's educational and spiritual welfare. Pick a Bible verse (or several!) that encourage you and inspire you. When things get rough or when you feel like you aren't doing a good job, go back to this mission statement and re-read it. You may even chose to hang it in your homeschool space as constant reminding of why you chose to homeschool. If you need help starting your mission statement, feel free to visit mine. It is written formally, but you can write yours however you like!

2. A Great Planner
I know some people who can fly by the seat of their pants and get a lot done, but for the majority of us we need at least a basic plan. I don't neccessarily mean a "" plan, but at least something that sets some goals and helps us keep track of what we have done. I suggest A Well Planned Day. This planner has places for up to 4 different children and includes nifty little encouragements, catechisms, grocery plans, and spaces for keeping track of the budget. At the beginning of each month is a place for goals and at the beginning of each "semester" places for keeping track of attendance and grades. This has been a time saver for me!

3. A Library Card
I honestly do not know how any home functions without a library card; when we check books out it is by the dozen! I know families who have up to 100 books at a time out! The library will save you tons of money on books you would have had to purchase, plus most libraries have educational DVDs and some, like ours, even have "quiet rooms" with a white board and desks for you to do some of your lessons at! Trust me you NEED a library card!

I hope that you will take some time to think about these things and that they encourage you in your homeschooling journey!

Picture Credit

Friday, February 4, 2011

The School House Expo

We all need encouragement from time to time, and expo's and conventions are a great way to get that encouragement, but sometimes finances or time prevents being able to travel. The Schoolhouse Expo is just the encouragement you are looking for. Enjoy great speakers that will appeal to teenagers as well as mom's and dads, and best of all The Schoolhouse Expo is a Christian expo, so you will hear all about homeschools hottest topics from a God-centered perspective with the convenience of being on-line!

The Schoolhouse Expo also offers a virtual vendor convention. Take a virtual walk through various vendor booths and learn about great curriculum and resources for homeschoolers! Download the vendor guide for a list of great freebies!

Tickets are normally $29.00, but are on sale right now for just $19.50 until Feb 9th! For this great price you will get access to all of the great sessions on homeschooling(in MP3 format so you can listen again and again!), a FREE one year subscription to Legal advantage, plus you will be entered to win a family vacation to Great Wolf Lodge!

To keep up with all the great happenings of The Schoolhouse Expo be sure to visit their facebook page and sign up for email updates!

The Curriculum Clutter Bug

Oh, look at this. It is shiny and new. My kids would love this. Look at all the pretty pictures! The sales guy said that after just 2 weeks of doing this my kids would be able to do statistical math while standing on their heads and quoting Shakespeare. The cover is red and red is Keira's favorite color. It is so crisp and NEW!!!

I have discovered that I am not a good candidate for buying curriculum ahead of time. Most of the time I am great with buying ahead, especially to save some money, but for some reason I can not do this with homeschooling.

Today I cleaned out our homeschool room, yet again. I found curriculum that I forgot I had, curriculum my kids wont be old enough to use for a good 5 years and curriculum that I am not even sure why I bought. Probably just because it was on sale and it looked good at the time. I am easily distracted by pretty pictures and a well played sales pitch. While of course my initial examples were silly, if I was to take an honest look back I would have to admit that my purchases were, if not for those reasons, still pretty silly. Worst of all, I am now guilty of being wasteful, and a poor steward of resources purchased and given to me. I was contributing to chaos and because of the chaos was being a poor manager of my time. Who knew that my having too much curriculum clutter would contribute to my sinning? Wow, it sounds bad when I look at it from this perspective.
Too much often leads to losing things, losing things leads to re-purchasing things, which leads to coming home and finding the thing you lost and just re-bought. It is a vicious cycle!

I actually stopped buying ahead about halfway through last year, (and yes my girls are only in 1st and 2nd grade. Does that tell you something about this bad habit of mine), and over the last few weeks have been pulling out things that were forgotten and are no longer needed or that my girls can not use within the next year. Some is going to go on Amazon and some will be donated. I just can not stand the clutter any more!

So here is my oath from now on, "I, Anna, do solemnly promise from here on out, to only buy curriculum after I have done serious research and prayer, and to only purchase one semester ahead."

I encourage you to take some time in the near future and sort through your curriculum. See what can be sold or given away. Simplify. Make sure that you are not being distracted by mounds of unused curriculum and next time you go to buy, think and pray first.

Picture Credit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Valentine's Day Lesson Plans and Activities

Crafts are all over the Internet so I am going to give you a few resources for lesson plans and educational activities with a Valentine's Day Theme. Some of these would also make great gifts for your special someone(s).

Lesson Plans:

Valentine Lapbook Ages 5 and up
Will you be my Valentine? Valentine’s Day is a day to send cards, candy, and maybe even flowers to loved ones. Learn the history, customs, and traditions of this lovable holiday in the Valentine’s Day Project Pack from In the Hands of a Child. This 64-page project pack includes a 10-page research guide and 16 hands-on activities to help your student learn and celebrate Valentine’s Day!

L is for Love
L is or Love introduces preschoolers to two greatest commandments as presented by Jesus. Biblical references include Matthew 22:37-40, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Romans 5:8. L is for Love includes basic preschool skills such as phonics, less than, writing practice, bar graphing, L words and counting. Easy to assemble, hands on activities encourage interaction and retention!

Designed to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten by introducing Biblical knowledge, language skills, math skills, social studies skills, and science skills to preschool age children through hands on activities and practice. All lap-books include an art activity, sight words and a memory verse. In addition, there is a list of extension activities to strengthen the skills presented in the lap-book

Valentine's Day Bible Verse Copy Work

Valentine's Day Science:

Fizzy Bath Bomb

Candy Science

The Science of Sugar

Language Arts, Math, Cooking, Art and Other Subjects:

Healthy Hearts Musical Chairs

For more great ideas visit Teach-nology.

Shared at Raising Homemakers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hip Wrists Bracelet Giveaway

Hi friends! I want to introduce you to my new hobby/home business, Hip Wrists Jewelry Designs!

To celebrate my new venture I would like to share some of my designs with you and give you all a chance to win one!

Since it would be pretty one sided for me to review my own jewelry I will skip that and get right on with sharing some of my favorites.
This bracelet is from my Fields of Brass line and uses Vintaj eco friendly brass to give it a vintage look. The lucite flowers and big natural focal stone give it a look that is great for spring.

This orange and white lampwork is another of my favorites! Bright lampwork beads mixed with bali beads make this a perfect summer bracelet!

Don't care for clasps? Wrap bracelets are the answer! This purple and turquoise wrap would look great with a pair of jeans!
I can also do custom work for you! Need a specific color or style? Just send me an email at with Jewelry Order in the line and I will make sure that with your help we create the perfect piece for you!

The great thing about my bracelets is that they are affordable. I carry something in every price range. From the eco friendly Vintaj bracelets that run an average of $30 to single strand bracelets that run $10. And make no mistake, I still take care to make sure that no matter how much you are paying you are getting a well made piece of jewelry.
Now here is the fun part! For my blog readers I am offering a 25% coupon just for mentioning this blog! Plus I am going to give away a gift card worth $25 to a lucky winner! For one(1) entry you can Follow My Blog. For one(1) entry you can "Like" Molding Minds Homeschool on Facebook. For one(1) entry you can "Like" Hip Wrists on Facbook. For one(1) entry you can Share On Facebook or on on your favorite social media site (to share just cut and paste this blog into your status and let me know where you shared). For one(1) entry you can follow Molding Minds on Twitter. This is a total of FIVE(5) chances to win! Please post a SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry and be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you at if you win!
Winner will be draw on Feb 10th!