NOTE: Some of the links below are referral links for the Homeschool Buyers Co-op or Homeschool Planet. This means that I will receive referral points toward products or discounts if you choose to join the co-op or purchase something that I have shared. Thank you for your support!
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love to organize and plan, but anyone who truly knows me well also knows that I could still use all the help I can get! I've gone through an array of different options for homeschooling planning... including not doing it at all (!), which just wasn't very productive. I've used bound, pre-printed planners from an office store, e-files from popular websites/blogs that I've printed myself at home, and a hybrid Excel-based but partially printed concoction of my own creation. Yet I was still curious about what other options were out there (am I the only one with an insatiable need to look into just about all things homeschooling?)... was there something I was missing out on? Indeed, there was! But now I've had the chance to use Homeschool Planet, a computer-based homeschool planner from Homeschool Buyers Co-op, over the last few weeks (just in time to plan for the upcoming school year - yay!) and am quite pleased to share my review of it with you now!
About Homeschool Planet
Homeschool Planet is a powerful, flexible, customizable online all-in-one planner. It is available as a subscription and can be paid for yearly or monthly. There is a myriad of aspects and features, including but not limited to things like:
My Experience & Opinion
I love Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I think they are are great company and often recommend them. In fact, it's the only company that I currently have a referral link to on my website (did you notice there are no other ads or affiliate links or anything for sale here?), so that must be saying something about my sincerity of support for them! They do a great job offering support and resources to the homeschool community (sounds right up my alley) and their planner is no exception!
Homeschool Planet is well-thought out with a lot of attention to detail throughout the program. It is fairly easy to navigate and learn to use, with a familiar calendar style default presentation. At first, I wondered if it was really necessary to use something like this... why not just use my Google Calendar or spreadsheet system? Oh boy, I had no idea what I was missing! This planner is so much more powerful with far more features.
This is the first time I've used a planner and felt like it conformed to me, instead of me trying to work within a structure designed for someone else! Just about every aspect has some level of flexibility (there are edit buttons all over the place, haha)... yet it's designed in a way that you can just log in and get going, without having to set up the framework from scratch. I was able to change the background & theme, choose which features and widgets to display, and decide how I wanted things laid out. Since we don't use grades with our kids yet and don't need to track attendance, I was able to leave that out (but I did look over both features and even those had options and were made convenient to use).
Of course, I did still have to input our schedule and lesson plan for the most part. However, I was happy to receive a free pre-made Homeschool Planet lesson plan from their Lesson Plan Marketplace for one of the curriculum programs we use and there are more that they have available to choose from, all designed to make things even easier by laying everything out and populating your calendar for you (with options to change stuff, of course)! Some of the free lesson plans include All About Spelling, Veritas Press, LifePac, Mystery of History, Wordly Wise, IEW Fix-It Grammar, Math Mammoth, Saxon, BJU, Meet the Masters, and more!
The lesson plan that I chose to try out was a history one. I found it helpful, but I did notice that I had to manually go through and remove assignments from every week that we did not plan to do, having to do with the historical fiction books that my girls would likely read all in a few days, so I didn't need them broken up into assignments over several weeks. But removing them was easy (albeit a bit monotonous and only slightly time consuming) because I just unchecked the boxes next to those assignments when importing the lesson plan. It took less time to do that than it would have had I needed to plan and type it out myself! I was a little bummed, though, that more of the curricula we use was not yet included in the available lesson plans, but there was an option to contact Homeschool Buyers Co-op to let them know what I'd like to see. I can't wait until they add more!
So I did say it is fairly easy to use, BUT it did take me some time and watching a few videos to really understand the features and know what everything was for and how to use it all. They say it doesn't require hours to learn how to use it and I would agree with that, except that I think spending the time to watch their tutorial videos did help me find more value and get more out of the planner. You see, I did sign up for a free trial of this planner in the past (a year or two ago). I logged in, looked and clicked around a bit, but didn't fully realize the full potential, so I never really tried to use it. This time, I took the time to settle in and get a real feel for it, and I'm glad I did.
The simplicity and ease of making changes to our schedule is probably my favorite part of this planner! I mean, really? What homeschool family is actually able to make it through a year (heck, even a week!?) without something unexpected coming up or needing to change course a bit? If you are such a family, I need you to come teach me how! In the meantime, I'm over here trying to cross things out and re-write my plan for the week or jumping on the computer to alter and re-print the next few months - all of which takes mental energy and extra time. But now? Oh my goodness, NOW I just click a little box and BAM! Everything is shifted for me. Ahhhh! (Me? Type A? Well, maybe a little...) No more scribbles on my calendar and no more trying to see what would work best to fit things in that we missed. No more re-writing task sheets for my kids. No more fuss over schedule changes! It's. so. easy.
Another feature I love is the resources page - it's a place to keep track of things that we might plan to use to complement or support a lesson. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten a cool book or science kit or saved a link to a great video or helpful website... and then totally forgot it ever existed. That is, until months after we covered that lesson or topic and then we are all bummed we missed out on the opportunity to include those cool extras. Now I can input the resources we acquire and even attach them to the lesson/assignment they fit best with and then the miracle happens - I can remember to use them! (Oh, and some of the pre-made lesson plans Homeschool Planet offers have website resources already included, which is a nice time saver and perk.)
So with all the amazing things about this great computer-based planner that I love, I definitely appreciate that I can print the daily digest! I can take it with us and I don't have to be always logging on or looking at the computer throughout the day. Besides... sand from the beach isn't good for my laptop, now is it? And we have to fit in those beach days and road-schooling adventures!
It's simple: I would absolutely recommend trying this one to see if it suits you. You might love it or you might hate it... some people thrive with technology and others stick to a simple notebook... it really is a personal preference thing. But either way, whether you usually use a paper planner or a computer-based approach, this one is worth considering!
And for June (until June 30th at 11:59pm EST), Homeschool Buyers Co-op is offering a FREE 30-day trial of Homeschool Planet AND a FREE lesson plan! Check it out. Take advantage of the free trial and give it a full try (dig in and make sure you see all that it offers).
If Homeschool Planet is something that you are interested in finding out more about, feel free to click on the banner below to see lots more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew. You can visit the Homeschool Buyers Co-op website and/or visit them on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.
For military families...
"Operation Homefront is happy to announce the start of [their] Back-to-School Brigade where we provide backpacks and free school supplies to military families. [They] have over 50+ locations for official events. Check out [their] website at www.operationhomefront.net/event/list."
There is an event scheduled for Schofield Barracks on Jul 28th.
"IMPORTANT: If you already have a registration profile built, please make sure all information is up-to-date, especially your child's grade, before you register." #BTSB2017 #1Mil1Fam
Note: I'm not associated with this program. This is NOT a sponsored post or paid advertisement. I'm just passing the information on in case it is helpful to some of my followers.
My daughter (Big Sis, age 9) was interested in learning more about American history from the Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. She is a ravenous reader and remembers so much from story books she selects. We encourage her to pursue her interests and thus were pleased to have recently received these for reading, consideration, and review.
Please note that though Rush Limbaugh is a well known political voice, this review is focused solely and entirely on the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series and is not a statement of, or encouragement for or against, any particular political standing. In our home, we encourage learning and entertaining ideas from all perspectives, we dig into beliefs that aren't our own as well as those that align with what we believe, and we study history (and other subjects) from various sides, as fully as we are able, with the goal of a better understanding of our world.
The Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series are storybooks, not textbooks, that are designed to make history come alive and be fun, so they have lots of fictional components alongside actual historical information. The set consists of 5 chapter books that have between about 200-250 pages each. When the books arrived, I unpacked them and was struck by the presentation (they were packaged well and wrapped in a shiny blue ribbon) and high quality. I love that they are hardcover and that the pages aren't just white, but rather have a historical appearance to them (though they are a bit glossy, they are off-white and have a textured look).
The stories involve magically jumping back and forth through time between modern day and American historical moments. They are very patriotic and attempt to mix a silly story with learning facts and events from history, progressing from the pilgrims through to early Presidents over the course of the five books.
Since there are homeschoolers of all different backgrounds, styles, and approaches that follow my blog and visit my website, including both secular and faith-based, I would like to note that this series did not seem to be expressly or heavily faith-based. There are brief and occasional mentions of God, religion, silent prayer, etc. here and there. This is not surprising, however, since religion and faith (of many kinds) played a role in many events of our nation's past.
The first few books end with a quiz of sorts, called "Liberty Asks", with questions about the story. However, I didn't see the same type of questions in all of the books.
It's also helpful to know about the "Rush Revere's Homeschool Depot" website, designed to compliment the book series with resources for homeschool families, like study guides with answer keys, stories, "Revere's Library" with additional info, challenges, and even scholarships!
Since Big Sis was the primary reader of these books, she wanted share a review of her own with you, so I will include it here (I added the book titles in brackets). She was quite excited and pleased to write it and hopes you find it helpful. She wrote:
"The Rush Revere series is about a man named Rush Revere and his talking, flying, time-freezing, time-traveling, turning-invisible horse named Liberty. Rush Revere is a substitute history teacher at Manchester Middle School. He introduces Liberty to the class and a student called Freedom realizes what the horse can do. Another student, Tommy, soon gets let in on the secret. Later, two other people (Cam and Elizabeth) find out as well. The characters go on time travel trips many times in the books, all to observe and learn about American history firsthand.
In the first book [Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims], there is an introduction of main characters and everything, they visit the Mayflower, and they interact with pilgrims. My favorite part of that story was when William Bradford invited Rush to the First Thanksgiving.
In the second book [Rush Revere and the First Patriots], they meet patriots like Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, and Paul Revere. They don't like King George III, the Stamp Act, or taxes. It is actually in this book that we meet Cam.
The third book [Rush Revere and the American Revolution] is about the American Revolution, battles, and the Declaration of Independence. I'm reading this one right now. So far, I liked the part about the candles being used to send a signal, especially because I like codes. 'One if by land, two if by sea'.
I haven't read the other two books yet, but it looks like the fourth one [Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner] is about the Star-Spangled Banner, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and the last one [Rush Revere and the Presidency] is about the early presidents, like George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. I can't wait to read them both.
I loved the Rush Revere books. They were really fun! I think they are historical fiction and they helped me learn things I didn't know about history and remember more about stuff I did know. I would tell other kids about them and I think kids around my age would like them if they like time travel, horses, and history. If they don't like history already, maybe they will after they read these."
I also spent some time reading and looking over the books and did read a few chapters with my daughter. The author has a casual, easygoing, chatty style of writing, cracking corny jokes and talking directly to the reader now and then. I felt there was a good balance between "learning" and "fun".
We read some of it out loud to Lil Sis (age 7) and she thoroughly enjoyed listening as well. It was easy to read and engaging for kids, highlighted many significant events of American history, and seemed to capture my daughters' interest and spur them to ask more questions - which is always fantastic! I found that both girls were incorporating aspects of history into their play, talking about famous figures and historical items and artifacts as part of their games and activities, which I thought was pretty neat. Obviously, a lot of it is sticking with them.
The books all have a lot of beautiful color illustrations, both cartoon-like enhancements to the story and historical art, images, and artifacts. Big Sis really enjoyed these pictures and said she spent a lot of time studying them. (She said her favorite from the story itself was the one where Elizabeth came around a corner and found out their secret about Liberty.) I do believe they added a lot of value and interest to the stories. I didn't particularly care for Rush's big head on the illustrated body, but it didn't phase my kiddos. (I also felt the name Rush Limbaugh was oddly and awkwardly bigger than the books' titles.)
The Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series opened up the door to a lot of discussion about our history and, for that, I am thankful. They made the subject fun, intriguing, amusing, silly, and memorable. And best of all, they sparked an interest in my daughter to learn more and increased her love of history! Because there are points in the books that express certain views, I would recommend the series to families but encourage parents to read through first, or better still, alongside their children. Most of all, since my daughter enjoyed the series so much, I would say it is worth a look!
If you'd like to find out what other homeschool families thought about this book series, click on the banner below to find lots of other review links. For more information, you can also check out their website and/or find them on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
The 2017 School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) Open House is coming up in October this year! It is only offered every two years, so take advantage of this opportunity if you can!
It will be held on Friday, October 20th from 8:30am-2pm & Saturday, October 21st, from 10am-2pm, at the UH-Manoa campus, SOEST buildings.
"The SOEST Open House presents a diverse array of entertaining and educational hands-on activities and demonstrations, which highlight the research conducted by [their] faculty, students, and staff." They have info and exhibits on all kinds of topics, like " volcanoes, tsunamis, El Niño, planetary exploration, hurricanes, coastal erosion, marine ecosystems" and more.
If you plan to go with a group of ten or more, they do ask that you use their Group Reservation Form to reserve a spot.
For more information, please call 808-956-3151 or email email@example.com.
While I am NOT affiliated or associated with this event or UH/SOEST, I have only heard great things and rave reviews from fellow homeschoolers about this event, so I'm passing along the information to you. If you attend, please do feel free to get in touch and let me know what you thought of it!
Don't forget about the "Used Book & Curriculum Fair", hosted by Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii (CHOH) on June 24, 2017 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Calvary Chapel Komo Mai Gym (98-1016 Komo Mai Drive, Aiea).
"Open to CHOH subscribers and non subscribers! Admission Fee: $1 per person over the age of 5 (this includes buyers, sellers, and their family members)."
For questions email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AND they also have a "Navigating the Curriculum Maze" event that same day, from 9-10, at the same location. Looks like they will be discussing curriculum options. Might be helpful for those of you new to homeschooling. See the bottom of their webpage for registration info.
Note: I am not affiliated or associated with this sale. This is not a paid ad or sponsored post. Just passing on the info in case it is of interest.
Ho'omaluhia Botantial Garden in Kaneohe offers a "preschool hour" on the third Tuesday of each month, from 10:30-11:30am.
Here are some upcoming dates and themes:
June 20 - Seeds Large and Small
July 18 - Teddy Bear Picnic (Bring your bear and lunch)
Aug 15 - Fruits for your health
Sept 19 - Fish and shoreline walk
Activities include stories, crafts, and nature walks. Walking shoes, rain gear, and insect repellent advised.
Note: I am not affiliated or associated with Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens. This is NOT a sponsored post or paid ad. I'm simply passing on the information in case it is of interest to someone. Please direct any questions to the botanical gardens or program organizer.
For many families, school is coming to a close for this "school year", while others homeschool year round. Either way, if you're looking for a summer camp or program, I have a list of lots of options to choose from!
And NOW, for those looking for some faith-based programs, this year's vacation bible school (often referred to as VBS) program webpage on OHM is now up! You can find it HERE. It provides a list of VBS options at local churches here on Oahu. Most show the location and many include the ages and prices, though some listings do not yet have details if they were not available at the time the page was posted. The list is probably not all-inclusive, but it does have all those that I'm aware of thus far. If you know of any other programs, please feel free to contact me with any info you have and I'll try to get it added!
No matter what your family has planned for this summer, I wish you all the best and a summer filled with joy, peace, and aloha!
Here's some information regarding some class opportunities for homeschoolers here on island...
"Harmony Options Day Private Pay Students
Harmony is accepting private pay students in grades K-8 who would like to enroll in our Options Day courses. These courses are offered on oneday during the week in a four hour block of time. Students may enroll in just one class or all four if desired. Our Options Day program allows children a day to be involved in a variety of elective classes, as well as providing a positive and fun social venue for many homeschooling, independent learning, and online students.
The cost is $35 per class/per student/per 4 weeks of instruction. (Classes are coordinated around school breaks and holidays.) There are a total of 28 Options Days offered throughout the school year, and a variety of choices are available, such as Lego Robotics, Piano, Fitness Fun, Cooking, Art Around the World, Photography, Group Games, STEM, Karate, and more depending on location. Each Options Day site is unique, and site managers work to provide specialty courses that are specific to their group of students.
If interested in finding out more about joining Harmony Options Daystarting Fall of 2017, please contact:
Your Site Manager or
Harmony Onsite Programs Director
Note: I am not associated or affiliated with Harmony. This is not a paid ad or sponsored post. I'm just passing on the information in case it might be of interest to someone. Please direct any questions to Harmony or the site manager or programs director listed above. Thanks! Enjoy!
For any of my followers/readers that happen to be active duty military...
You are eligible to receive free admission to several "Blue Star Museums" on island this summer! These include:
According to their website, "Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America. Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day." For more information on Blue Star Museums, please see the Frequently Asked Questions.
Note: I am not affiliated or associated with these museums or the Blue Star Museum program or the NEA. This is not a paid ad or sponsored post. Please direct any questions to the museums or organizations mentioned above.
When my oldest was little(r), we participated in Kindermusik classes for a few months. I recently found out there are some new classes available here on island, so I thought I'd share the information with you.
They are music & movement type classes for early childhood. When I last communicated with the program organizer, they charged an $80/month fee with a 50% sibling discount, but you'll want to contact her for the latest tuition/fee info. You can find out more information from the website: http://kmwithtara.kindermusik.com/
Note: I am NOT affiliated or associated with this program or it's owner/teacher, nor do I receive any benefit from sharing about it here. I'm simply passing on the information in case some of you might be interested. Please direct any questions to Tara at 808-634-8435, as indicated in the image above.
I'm a homeschooling mom of two, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.