The Homeschooler’s Guide to the Galaxy

Space.  The final frontier.  Are you getting ready to tackle astronomy and study space in your homeschool?

Don’t Panic!

I bring you the Ultimate Guide To Studying Space!  I’ve compiled some of the most commonly referenced and recommended astronomy resources from a variety of homeschool circles.  I hope this list of resources and links helps inspire your imagination and ignite your journey into the cosmos.

**Please note-although I have tried to include as many resources as possible, my own knowledge of materials stem from a secular perspective.  However, in the course of our homeschooling journey I have personally found that I’m able to utilize many Christian resources by tweaking them to work for my family.  It is my belief that some of the secular resources in this list can be utilized by those with a biblical perspective by catering it to their needs as well.  As with all resources, preview it before sharing with your children.

In trying to compile a listing of both secular and biblical perspectives I have reached out to Christian friends to ask for their personal recommendations.  I would like to thank Jay Ryan from Classical AstronomyDr. Wile from Science in the Beginning, and John Wilkerson from The Wired Homeschool for taking the time to share with me some of their favorites. 

**If you have suggestions for a curriculum that you feel should be included in this list, please leave a comment.  

When applicable I will note whether the listed resource is secular or from a Christian perspective. However, those hoping to know which resources are from a Young Earth viewpoint will need to do further research into the individual Christian resources for clarification.

Homeschool Astronomy Curriculum

 Astronomy Reference Books for use with younger students

Astronomy Related Picture Books

Astronomical Reference Books for older students/adults

Astronomy Documentaries

 Astronomy-Related Websites

Online Astronomy Courses

Planetarium Software for real-time 3D visualization of Space

Telescope and Binocular Sellers

Dark-Sky Observing Site Directories

Astronomy Apps

You Tube Channels

Astronomy Related Music

*Please keep in mind this guide in no way way reflects EVERY resource that’s out there.  Feel free to email me or leave a note in the comments if you have a favorite you’d like to see added. 

The universe is immense and so are subjects that the ladies over at the iHomeschoolNetwork have compiled into Ultimate Guides.  Be sure to check out the {almost}infinite assortment of topics available for this year’s iHN Ultimate Guide collection.


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Homeschool Show and Tell Link-Up #1

Welcome to the first week of Homeschool Show and Tell.  Here you can share the fabulous finds and fun resources that you utilize in your homeschool.  Sure, you can share curriculum if something is truly rocking your world, but I’m envisioning the primary focus of the Show and Tell to be on those little items and resources that you stumble upon that make the educator in you squeal with delight.

If you blog, feel free to grab this image for your post.  It’s not necessary in order to link-up but it’s available for those that want to link back.  If you don’t blog I’d love for you to share your resources in the comments section or by using the hashtag #HomeschoolShowAndTell on your favorite social media outlet.

 My Show and Tell item:

Laura and Grandpa – Discovering Science Together books

You don’t have to adhere to a Charlotte Mason educational approach in order to appreciate living books.  Homeschoolers just love living books– books that are written by someone with a passion for a certain subject; books that grab your attention with their narrative storytelling versus the traditional dry text-book style of other resources; books that educate AND entertain.

Recently my girls and I attended a Family Night at a local museum and met the author of one such living book.  Dr. Robert H. Krupp has centered his life around his passion as he strives to instill a love of science and a sense of awe for the marvel of our universe into those he meets.

His series of children’s books, Laura and Grandpa Discovering Science Together, are his attempt to foster in children the desire to ask and ponder the whys, hows, and whats that surround them.


By using a story telling format and adding in easy experiments that families can do together, Dr. Krupp has creating fun and engaging science books for young children.

My girls and I were lucky to be introduced to his books at the museum where stations had already been set up so we could complete some of the experiments outlined in the books.

But perhaps the greatest perk of this particular series is that it gives us a chance to make our own grandpa the central figure to our day’s learning.

Now It’s Your Turn!

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Why We Switched to Math•U•See

Back in January I posted a painfully honest post about how math was just NOT working out for us.  The stress, agitation, and anxiety I was feeling must have connected with some of you because that post garnered tons of comments and emails.  In fact, that post still gets a steady stream of traffic.

I appreciate everyone’s words of encouragement more than I can adequately say.  It was such a rough time for me – floundering around like that without a true sense where we were heading.  My fear of failure in math rapidly metastasized and infected all aspects of my homeschooling life.  I won’t say I was on the verge of giving up; but I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit I questioned my decision to homeschool more at that time than ever before.

I’ve had a few readers ask me what exactly about Singapore Math wasn’t working for us and as much as I try to pinpoint it, I can’t.  I’ve stressed that I’m not mathy; I needed more hand-holding.  In any event, as a natural consequence to my faulty planning and presenting of the material, my daughter struggled with grasping and retaining the lessons.

Here– A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  In a couple pictures I’ll show you how I knew we HAD to switch.

Mira likes to draw.  During school, she’s perfected the ‘doodle’.  Seriously, ALL of her workbooks and papers have some stick figure scene or unicorn party drawn into the margins.  Sometimes it’s related to the lesson but, more often than not, just some random doodle.

Here’s a glimpse of her Latin and phonics workbooks:

Cute, huh?  I swear if she quit doodling during her lessons our school day would be done in half the time.  I used to try and make her stop but she likes it, and if a couple minutes added to each lesson help us get through our day happily, then doodle away my dear daughter.

And sometimes, as in the case of the doodles in her Singapore workbook, they serve as warning signs:

There are pages of these sad despondent faces in her Singapore books.  When these faces became the designated doodle to her math lessons– that, my friends, was when I knew with certainty that something had to change.

So after researching tons of curricula and even hosting a Currriculum Chat, I finally settled upon our next course of action:


Mira’s Math-Man

We’ve only been doing it for a couple weeks now so I’m not going to attempt a detailed review at this time. I can’t say with certainty whether or not this is going to be the sought-after math curricula of my dreams. Already there are a few things about it that I don’t care for, but we’ve only just begun so we’ll stick with it and see how it plays out in the long run.

For me, the DVD video lesson component to Math•U•See is worth its weight in gold.  Mira likes to see Mr. Demme interact with the students in his videos and she’ll race to answer a question before the children in the video.

So Sad-Face Singapore has been replaced with Math-Man.  A creation Mira came up with while I was loading up the DVD lesson for the day.

For us, it’s a darn good exchange and I’m hoping Math-Man is here to stay.

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Dude, Where’s My Puppy?!?

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I Love Latin and You Can Too! – Teaching Latin to Elementary Students with Song School Latin

Latin with young children?  Why- elementary, my dear Watson.  At least it can be- with Song School Latin!

When I started our homeschool journey and contemplated the idea of foreign languages I felt rather unmotivated until a chance encounter with Classical Academic Press - the makers of Song School Latin (SSL)- piqued my interest.

Maybe it was the exoticness of Latin or the fact that I already had humdrum personal experiences with French and Spanish from my own school days.  Whatever the reason I grabbed Song School Latin 1 a few years ago and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

We’ve been using Song School Latin since 2011.  I loved their first book so much that I waited (rather impatiently, I might add) for SSL2 to be released and stretched my daughter’s lessons from SSL1 to try and fill in our time until 2 came out.

It was so worth the wait.

Honestly I love Song School Latin 2 even more than Song School Latin 1; and I already LOVED Song School Latin 1.  My preference probably stems in part from the fact that 2 slowly introduces more grammar concepts and begins conjugation work versus the more vocab-centered SSL1.

What I Love About Song School Latin

  • Song-based – The SSL CD is filled with kid-friendly songs with your choice of Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciation.  What kid doesn’t like to sing?  Why not sing in Latin and learn a thing or two?
  • Ease of Use – Nothing makes me happier than having a solid resource that’s not only fun but easy to implement.  SSL requires minimal prep time.  Just open and go!
  • Extras Not Needed but Recommended- It’s possible to give your young child a solid introduction to Latin using nothing but the Song School Latin Student Workbook. The lively CD is included and the workbook itself is gentle enough that parents with no Latin background can still easily teach their students.  If frugality is steering you right now, stick to the basics.  However, if you have a little extra to splurge on you can easily give your child a fuller immersion by adding on SSL’s bells and whistles: DVD, Monkey Match Card Game, and Teacher’s Manual which includes additional activities and worksheets that work great for delving deeper or using as review.
  • Make Connections - With their Grow Your English and Famous Saying sections, SSL makes it easy to connect the dots in your child’s education by giving
    relevant tidbits and facts that you can use to reinforce your other subjects.  We started a classical co-op, Classical Conversations, this year and SSL has helped my daughter immensely with the Latin memory work the co-op throws at us every week.  Song School Latin 2 introduces Latin conjugations and it was amazing to watch my daughter’s face light up as she realized she already knew the conjugations and was able to ‘see’ with SSL what’s happening to a verb when you conjugate it.

 How To Implement Song School Latin with Young Children

  • SSL is gentle introduction to Latin grammar geared to early elementary.  However, it can be made even more gentle by starting off using just the CD and holding off on the workbook.  You can read about how I did this with my pre-k children here.
  • Be sure to utilize Classical Academic Press’ supplemental website where you’ll find free coloring pages, games, and videos.
  • Grab your SSL CDs the next time you get in your car.  Our SSL songs are a staple of our car rides and a fabulous resource for carschooling.

See?  Latin, my dear reader, can be elementary after all.  Be sure to check out Classical Academic Press to see the wide assortment of resources they offer for multiple languages and subjects.

Play With Your Latin With These Fun Supplements

Now that you know about all the fun your children could be having with Song School Latin, how about a chance to win your very own full program!!!  Thanks to the very generous folks over at Classical Academic Press one lucky reader will win their own complete package set of Song School Latin 1 OR School School Latin 2!  Winner’s choice!

*  * *And that’s not all!  Classical Academic Press is offering my readers 20% off everything in their store.  Use the code TS20 to receive 20% off your entire order. It is good on all products, except online classes and Singapore Math, and expires April 5th, 2014.  Classical Academic Press offers resources in numerous subjects: Latin, Spanish, Greek, Logic, Writing and Rhetoric, Bible, Poetry, Reasoning and Reading, Art and Drawing!

Me?  I’ve had my eye on these “Dare to be Wise” shirts for awhile.

Follow the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter!  Good luck!

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Coming Soon– SHOW AND TELL Link-Up

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place to “meet-up” to show and tell about fun-finds and must-have homeschool items?

While in desperate need for a jolt of motivation, some local homeschoolers and I planned and hosted our first ever Curriculum Chat.  It was a huge success.  Homeschooling parents came together with no pretense of purchasing anything and instead focused on showing off things that work (or even sharing why things don’t work) in their homeschool.

It was fun, informative, and a great way to get introduced to things that otherwise might not have come onto your radar.

Wouldn’t it be fun to replicate that same experience for our online community?

With that in mind, I’m planning to host a Homeschool Show And Tell Link-Up on the first and last Monday of every month.  I’d love for you to share those fun toys, books, games, websites, apps, etc. that you can’t live without.

Sure, you can share curriculum if something is truly rocking your world, but I’m envisioning the primary focus of the Show and Tell to be on those little items and resources that you stumble upon that make the educator in you squeal with delight.  (You know, materials that probably don’t have a review written about them already available online.)

The first link-up will go live on Monday, March 31 and I’d love for you to join me.  If you blog, feel free to grab this image for your post.  It’s not necessary in order to link-up but it’s available for those that want to link back.  If you don’t blog I’d love for you to share your resources in the comments section or by using the hashtag #HomeschoolShowAndTell on your favorite social media outlet.

I can’t wait to see what you share on March 31!

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Zeezok Music Appreciation Curriculum

Sometimes I’ll catch myself becoming deeply aware of a single moment.  It can be a look, a phrase, or just a particular event that sucks me into a sort of slow motion reverie where I just know a lifelong memory is being made.  So it was the first time I took my 6 year old daughter Mira to the symphony.  Although my recollection for most of that night is vague, I can vividly conjure up Mira’s face after she heard– NO!- felt the climatic 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th performed for the first time.  I told her to close her eyes and try to experience the music with her other senses.  After a few moments, her eyes popped open, her mouth formed a perfect little ‘o’ and she breathlessly explained “Oh! It’s like riding a roller coaster!”  And BAM! The moment seared itself into my brain; and just like that I KNEW music would play an integral part of our homeschool.

. . . Which is why I’m so excited to have found Zeezok!

I’ve always enjoyed classical music and have already been including it in our life in one form or another.  I follow these simple tips for fostering a love of classical music.  However, having no background in music myself, I wasn’t really sure how to teach music aside from instrument lessons.  And I knew I wanted more.

Thankfully, Zeezok’s Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades Book 1 is giving me much more. It’s a comprehensive music appreciation curriculum geared for elementary students but easily adaptable for older children as well.  Book 1 covers 7 composers: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini and Schubert.

What’s Included in Zeezok’s Music Appreciation Collection:

  • Student Activity Book
  • Opal Wheeler Biographies on the composers
  • 5Disc Music CD set 
  • Lapbook CDrom

Zeezok’s Music Appreciation collection is centered around the beautiful biographies of Opal Wheeler.

“Each composer’s childhood and adult life are vividly described in individual biographies. Every important incident is mentioned and every detail of the stories is true. . . It is more than the human side of these books that will make them live, for in the music the great masters breathe.”

Along with the endearing biographies you’ll receive a Lapbook CD that comes complete with all the bells and whistles you’ll need to create your own colorful and educational lapbooks.  I’ll be the first to admit that I never appreciated lapbooks before- it always felt like busy work to me.  But I also never wanted to spend the time or energy researching materials, images, and text to use.  With Zeezok’s Lap Book CD everything is there ready to go.  I printed out a couple sections to add to our lapbook each day and let my children have at it.  There’s something soothing about watching your young children make their own interactive book.  My daughters took immense pride in their lapbooks and still love to proudly show them off and share all the things they’ve learned.

*My review and photos will focus on the Schubert biography and accompanying resources.

Why I Love Zeezok’s Music Appreciation Collection

  • 28 weeks of comprehensive (yet flexible) lessons. I was able to easily cater these lessons for my family’s needs. Lessons are rich and detailed and children will learn not only about music but the history, geography, and character traits of the composers.  The workbook is filled with hands-on activities like the lapbook exercises, tasty recipes, and handwriting practice.
  • Pre-planned weekly lessons  so I can ‘open and go’ with minimal prepping. The longer I homeschool, the more I appreciate quality planned resources.
  • Easily adaptable for a wide range of children *not limited to elementary*- A blessing for homeschooling families with multiple kids! I look forward to reusing parts of this curriculum with my children as they get older and we can delve deeper into the stories together.
  • Opal Wheeler’s beautiful and entertaining living books -the spine of the program.  Can I just say I totally ♥ these books!!!

Opal Wheeler’s biographies are captivating living books.  The stories are engaging and fun, the illustrations beautiful and charming, and the addition of the composer’s music lends another layer to the lessons.  My girls have been taking piano lessons this year and loved looking over the music and attempting to read it for themselves.  Zeezok includes a 5 disc CD set of all the music from all the biographies so you can literally stop and experience the music for yourselves.  Indeed- it’s quite instrumental to the program. ;)

Since my kiddos are young (with only one daughter officially elementary aged) we ended up breaking the chapters into two or three separate readings.  This worked better for the short attention spans I was dealing with from my 3, 5, and 7 year old children.  Even by stretching our reading out like this I was still easily able to incorporate our lessons and activities with ease.

In fact, by spending more time with each composer, our appreciation for them only grew stronger.  We seem to run into classical music everywhere and my girls’ awareness of it sometimes exceeds my own!

Expand Your Zeezok Music Appreciation Experience

  • Be sure to look up local symphonies, orchestras, and opera houses near you.  You’d be surprised how often these composers’ works are performed and you might just be able to tie together a live performance into your studies.
  • Pick up the optional Coloring Pages and Bingo Game available through Zeezok.
  • Add to your collection of Opal Wheeler’s composer books by downloading the audio MP3s from Zeezok.
  • Supplement with the fabulous audio collection “In Words and Music” -an informative series of CDs that brings to life the lives of notable composers by interspersing their stories with snippets of their music.
  • Give your child the gift of their ‘very own’ symphony for their next birthday.
  • Add Classical Coloring to your routine.  It’s fun AND easy!

Music; it’s everywhere!

And now you can help turn your children on to music by utilizing Zeezok’s all-in-one Music Appreciation curriculum.  Be sure to check out the rest of Zeezok’s amazing lineup of educational resources to enhance your homeschool experience.

* * * There is a 10% discount on all orders until March 21, 2014 with the coupon code ihomeschool.

Get to Know Zeezok:

Zeezok Music Appreciation Giveaway

One lucky reader will win one music appreciation curriculum ($169.99 value!).  This giveaway is hosted on multiple blogs – one winner will selected from all entries.

Please note the following about the giveaway:

  • If a customer purchases the set during the giveaway, and subsequently wins it, Zeezok will issue a refund of the purchase price.
  • Prize shipped only to US mailing addresses.
  • Giveaway open until March 20, 2014 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Winner will be chosen and notified Friday, March 21.

Follow the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter!  Good luck!

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Screen Time


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On Her Way to a Classical Education

Stella completed the second volume reader in her All About Reading Level 1 program.  Her excitement exploded when she realized the very last story in this book was about her favorite type of animal- a pig!  (I can still recall Stella’s elation when she began her AAR journey with the PreReading-Level and literally kissed the letter ‘P’ card’s pig picture.  See the infamous kiss photo here.)

I can’t stress enough how much of a joy All About Reading has been for our house.  It’s ease-of-use to implement is great, yes, but–

The real magic of All About Learning Press’ products is in the confidence to learn and the desire to read that they instill in it’s young students.

To me- it’s priceless in our quest for a classical education.

For my thoughts and experiences on using All About Learning Press resources check out my previous collection of posts:

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They Grow Up So Fast . . .

Our little girl is getting big.

I’ve never had a pet before, let alone a puppy, so this whole experience has been a bit of a whirlwind for me.

She’s a cutie though; I think we’ll keep her.  ;)

Do you feel it’s beneficial for children to grow up with pets?

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