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Hi! I have been away from my blog for far too long, I know. We have been busy, busy, busy (and I am lazy). Dana is currently starting a series of in-depth retesting and re-evaluation at Children’s Hospital in Columbus. We are still homeschooling and still struggling with his severe dysgraphia, which I worry will seriously impact any future academic study success. I am hoping they can help with that.

As we start into his high school years, I find myself balancing our plans between giving him a curriculum that will satisfy a college or technical school (should he decide to go) and providing him with the knowledge and skills that I know will be critical to him for the rest of his life. For some reason, thorough grounding in nutrition (even general health), sex education, and financial literacy seem to receive, at best, only a minor nod in high school requirements. Not to mention other life skills, like shopping, cleaning, etc.. To me, these are possibly the most critically important things for him to learn. Thankfully, since we homeschool, we can cover those. The problem is in finding material to use.

Each year I research online to hopefully identify text books and material that best meets his needs, interests and abilities. When I purchase regular textbooks, I buy them used on eBay or Amazon, usually. In some cases, though, there is just nothing available, or what is available is of low quality or is otherwise unsuitable, or needs to be supplemented. Fortunately, I have found material that is either low cost or free that we are going to try. In some cases, it is in pdf format and must either be used on the computer or Kindle, or be printed out and put in a notebook or bound some way. In some cases, you can actually receive free printed material through the mail and not even pay shipping! In some cases, books are available free as e-books. I will cite some examples which we will be using at some point in the next 4 years.

FREE BOOKS
Financial Literacy: Along with some little books from Bluestocking Press, that seem impressive, we will use some paper back books in a series called “Building Your Future” from The Actuarial Foundation. These 4 award-winning educational books, accompanied by teacher’s guides, are available free on request from the Actuarial Foundation.
(I also purchased “Life Prep for homeschooled teenagers” by Barbara Frank, on Amazon. This book covers a lot of basic skills, including financial)

FREE E-BOOKS
Sex Education:
(Acknowledging the fact that many do not approve of too detailed sex education,(a mistake in my opinion), I will caution you to check the content of these books before sharing them. Since they are free, this is easy to do.)
These books are available in several formats from CK12. I downloaded them to my Kindle, but also have the teacher guides in my computer in pdf format in case I want to print them, or portions of them. Titles include: “Your Changing Body”, “Human Biology- Sexuality”, “Human Biology-Reproduction.” These were written for middle school to high school ages.
Science and More: CK12 also has many more text books, particularly in the sciences, some of which we will likely use. Usually, teacher guides are also available, and sometimes student workbooks can be downloaded. They are all free.

FREE TEXT BOOKS IN PDF FORMAT
Physics – Electricity:
Due to Dana’s strong focus on computers and electricity, we will probably go a bit further than most in his study of those areas. I located a site where you can download free open-source textbooks written by an instructor who was disappointed in the textbooks available for his students, so wrote his own. They are for upper high school or beginning college level. Visit “Lessons in Electric Circuits” to download.
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There is a strong move toward providing college students with downloadable, free textbooks in e-book format. Sometimes these may also be suitable for upper level and/or advanced high school students as well. Check out “Open Access Textbooks“.

I have only scratched the surface here, I am sure. If you have a free resource for high school students, please post a comment to tell us about it!

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The Codeshield is a small add-on to the Arduino Board and enables students to get started on electronics projects very quickly (lesson plans included).

If you are interested in teaching electronics to your students, please check out the crowd-funding campaign: http://igg.me/at/codeshield


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He has certainly come a long way!

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My listings on eBay


I am finally getting around to listing the many homeschool books and supplies that we no longer need on eBay. If you are looking for something, check out the list now and then by clicking HERE. If there is something you are looking for that you think I might have but haven’t yet listed, let me know. I f I have it, I will list it with both a bid and a buy it now price. I really need to clear out some stuff!!

Cheese Balls!


I am sure we all have those times when we are too rushed, everything is going wrong, the kids are not those perfect children we swore we would raise, and we start to turn into the Hulk (again). Sometimes “those times” seem to be coming along every day. Well, if you haven’t yet read it, you really must read “Taming the Hulk”, a “life-of-a-mother” short story by Karen Cantwell.  Read it to find out how cheese balls can save the day, and maybe change your lifestyle.

If you enjoy this story and want to read this and more Barbara Marr  Life-of-a-mother along with some mystery shorts, you can get “The Chronicles of Marr-nia Short Stories” to download free for your Kindle right now.


If you are looking for resources for teaching that don’t cost an arm and a leg and will work for your kids and meet their special interests, I want to share some great freebies I downloaded recently. Just about everyone knows about the many great videos online, like Khan Academy for math, science and more. Here are some links you may or may not know about.
The first two I found through http://www.homeschoolfreebie.wholesomechildhood.com/ If you don’t belong to this free site, you should.
KISS Grammar grades 1-12: student workbooks and teacher’s guides: http://home.pct.edu/~evavra/KISS.htm
Lessons in electronics (high school-early college level books) http://openbookproject.net//electricCircuits/
( I have found several great teaching/learning texts like the two above that were written by very knowledgeable and experienced teachers/instructors/professors who were so frustrated at the lack of availability of good texts that they ended up writing their own and making them available for free. The two above have since been tested and edited.
Long ago, I purchased the great SuperCharged Science kit with materials and videos on CD. My boy fell in love with the videos and projects/experiments. This freebie will give you a taste of it for summer science fun.
Science Activity Manual and Video collection from Aurora Lipper: http://www.superchargedscience.com/lnc512-1b.htm  (available for a limited time)
I also download lots of free e-books to my Kindle for reading to my boy or having him read. Most are for pleasure reading, but some are history or science. The CK-12 science texts are good. I recently got “Logic to the Rescue” and “Castles and Chemistry” that are stories which encourage and teach thinking skills and the use of logic in an entertaining way. I also got “Charles Dickens’ Children Stories”, “Thomas Alva Edison: American Wizard,”  and a number of classics. Not only are they free, but my boy can also download them to his iPod Touch as well as having them on my Kindle Fire, and both are in color. Even the pdf files from other freebies are readable on these devices. 
Finding freebies requires the same judgment on quality of materials, suitability for learning level, learning style and interests that you should apply when purchasing materials, but at least, if it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost any money (except for the ink and paper you may have used to print. I printed the grammar book and spiral bound it.) I have never been one to purchase “school in a box” curricula, but “pick and choose” can be expensive, too. I am spending a lot less these days and getting some great stuff!
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