Caring for Pets

FullSizeRender“If we get a cat, I promise I will help take care of her!” are the words that my sons spoke to me when they wanted a pet. Well, you know how that scenario ended up going. :) Belle lived for 15 years and well beyond the boys staying here at the house. She died a few years ago and we really didn’t have any intention of getting a new cat, but then Oreo came along… He was going to have to return to the SPCA and I thought his chances of being adopted again weren’t going to be that high. So, I talked my husband into taking him in and he been here since the fall. I promised Dale I would take care of him….

So, how does this tie into homeschooling? I think making the decision to have a pet and care for it is part of  education. Now, maybe you don’t want a pet or can’t have one, so please excuse this post. I wasn’t paid by any of your children to write this post either. :)

Researching what type of pet that will fit your family is a practical way to incorporate a number of subjects because of your child looking at different breeds of dogs or cats, birds or fish, etc. (language arts) Not only that, but what type of environment does it need? (A cage, an aquarium, a dog house- science) What type of food does it eat? How much will it cost to take care of it? (math creeps into this!)

Pets can teach our children a number of things, responsibility being one of the most important lessons.  Feeding, cleaning up after them, and grooming can all be duties that are delegated to several members and incorporated into the chore list.

Patience seems to be a character trait that pets bring out in me. Oreo has a propensity to begin letting us know he is hungry two hours before we feed him. He is extremely quiet  the rest of the day until it comes to his belly clock telling him he needs to eat NOW!  Waking up at 4:00 in the morning to a plaintive, insistent meowing at our bedroom door can be extremely frustrating! So, one black and white cat helps me with showing kindness when I’d rather not.

So, when your child asks for a pet, you can think of all the ways that critter can help your children with school and living. I hear Oreo calling right now and he still has 60 more minutes until he gets to eat. Patience… patience…


Showcasing your Student’s Work: Health, Safety

Health, first aid, and fire safety are topics that we are to cover throughout the academic year as part of homeschooling here in Ohio. How do you show this has been accomplished? Here are various ways this can be done.

  • Textbooks are the easiest way to cover these subjects through a health curriculum such as ABeka or Bob Jones. You can also go to Cathy Duffy’s website and read her reviews on various curriculums. CLICK HERE You can bring the book, have your student answer the questions that are in the book, or write down some of the topics you discussed.
  • Library books and discussions about the topic are a natural way of covering a topic . Write the title of the books you read and a brief summary of what you discussed. Some books even have activities that accompany them, such as  Nick is Sick. This book is a beginning reader book, so your student can practice reading to you too! :)
  • Movies such as the Magic School Bus provide a springboard for discussion of health topics. The Magic School Bus Inside Ralphie is an episode where he is sick and the children get to see firsthand what is happening with germs being attacked. You can use the receipt from the library or take a picture of the cover of the DVD, or find the description of it on the internet. You can even watch it on YouTube!
  • Safety and/or Health Fairs are offered various times throughout communities. If you go to one of these, pick up the coloring books or handouts that are age appropriate. Incorporate those into your school day and file away with your other papers for your portfolio review.
  • Fitness programs such as what is offered at the YMCA or  a community center are fantastic ways of fulfilling the health and physical education requirement. Instructors reinforce what you have been teaching at home. :) There is usually a description  of the course or activity that can be added to your portfolio of your student’s work.
  • Sports programs such as Upwards or local teams can count for health as well as physical education. Coaches discuss hydration, stretching before games, conditioning, and eating well. If you have a team picture or a game schedule that will be proper documentation.
  • Create a first aid kit for your car and/or your home. Have your child help you make up a list of what items should be included. What a great way of teaching first aid and safety without having to get a CPR dummy. (Although,that is a great idea!) if you need help in knowing what to include for your kit, CLICK HERE for the American Red Cross site.
  • Babysitting courses or a self defense class are not only helpful, but are practical too. If you saw the advertisement for the class, include that for your documentation. There are usually certificates of completion or photo opps that can be included for your review.

Here are two books you can check out on health topics.



Showcasing your Student’s Work: Writing

Showing student work for a portfolio review in the area of writing can be done in various ways. Whether you have a student who is just beginning to write or a student who is authoring a novel, samples of work can be included in their portfolio review.

Primary Grades

Simple words and/or drawings are ways of writing and communicating so include those as part of your budding author’s portfolio. Can you guess what this is representing? If you guessed the fourth day of Creation you are right!



If you have a child that is not yet writing, but loves to tell stories, be the scribe and write it down for them. You can read it back to them and they can illustrate parts of it. The important point is that they see themselves as an author, being able to communicate through writing.

Beginning writer’s work can also be samples of writing the alphabet or practicing their name.

Elementary and Middle School

Children love to express their love and, while you may not consider a card  to be “writing”, it is because a thought or idea is being communicated.  Put those in the portfolio as part of language arts.


What about lists and jokes? Yes, they count too! My son Ian had this eight page book that was nothing more than a list of animals and a name next to it. He had a lot of fun with it and would carry it with him throughout the day. I would see him scribbling something in it and then chuckle to himself as he read back over the list. The funny thing is that I just found that list the other day when I was cleaning out some of his old artwork!

Here are other ideas:

Short stories and chapters of books

How-to do something (play a game)

Writing a letter (take a picture of it before you send it off in the mail)

Book reports

Short research project (1-2 pages on various history or science topics)

For you who have techie children and families

Emails to a grandparent

Blog (Some of your children may be contributors to a blog or have their own.)

Facebook messages








10 Portfolio Organization Ideas

images-1As you begin to collect work samples of your students work the question that may come to mind is, How should I best display the amazing work that my student has completed this year?” It really is a matter of personal choice, but I am listing some organizational ideas to help you.

  • Bring workboooks of the school year that has been completed. This is the most common form of displaying a student’s work if you are using traditional textbooks.
  • Binders are a great way to show looseleaf papers and other work that is not from a workbook. Tabs are helpful to use as headings for individual subjects if you combine them in a notebook. You could have one large binder for all work or several smaller binders for individual subjects.
  • Accordion pleated folders are helpful since you can place wok samples in each of the slots and label each separate subject. For example: Math, Reading, Handwriting, Social Studies, Health, etc.
  • A large box such as one that holds reams of paper works well if you have binders to bring or large items you’d like to show me. (artwork, models, etc.) I am only suggesting, and this is by no means a requirement! :)
  • Pictures on your phone are an easy and portable way to show activities and projects if you don’t want to bring them and run the risk of something happening. You may have had your student do a class that was on the computer and have no way of printing off the answers. You can take a picture of the screen with the scores for the year if you like.
  •  Voice recordings on your phone are helpful if you would like to ask questions about progress or want to show progress that is being made in reading.
  • Scrapbooks/yearbooks are a wonderful keepsake and a snapshot of things you have done over the year. They serve a dual role because they help me as an assessor to see what kind of activities you have done, but they are yours to show for years to come.
  • Descriptions of co-op classes your student was a part of help document classes that you did not teach at home. If a syllabus is available for a class you can include that too.
  • Program guides from ballets, music performances, or certificates of completion for a gym class or a babysitting course, etc. help to document what your student has done.
  • Badges from scout programs such as American Heritage Girls or Trail Life are great for showing topics of study that are more difficult to document such as fire safety or first aid.

I realize this is only scratching the surface on how you can organize your student’s portfolio, but I hope this gives you some ideas. As you can see from what I have listed above, there are a variety of ways to document and display work. Use whatever means works best for you and feel free to come up with other ideas.


Free Portfolio Review Giveaway! Winners Announced


 Thank you to all you ladies who entered the contest. The winners are Larissa H and Mei Ling! You each receive one free portfolio for the 2014-2015 school year.

With over so many entries for the contest I was glad to use a random number generator.  If you are ever in need of a similar service I recommend   RANDOM.ORG offers true random numbers to anyone on the Internet. The randomness comes from atmospheric noise, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs. People use RANDOM.ORG for holding drawings, lotteries and sweepstakes, to drive online games, for scientific applications and for art and music. The service has existed since 1998 and was built by Dr Mads Haahr of the School of Computer Science and Statistics atTrinity College, Dublin in Ireland. Today, RANDOM.ORG is operated by Randomness and Integrity Services Ltd.

Free Portfolio Review Giveaway! Closed

Woo Hoo! It’s that time of year where I give away two free portfolio reviews! If you are interested in having a chance to win one of the reviews (a $40.00 value) there are six ways to enter.  Each way gives you one chance. I will draw one name for each portfolio review on January 31 and post who won on my blog February 1.

“So, how do I enter a chance for the giveaway?” I am glad you asked! This year there are even more ways to win that last year.

  1. Subscribe to my blog. Write a comment that lets me know!
  2. Like me on Facebook. There is a link to my Facebook on the right side of my blog. Write a comment below to let me know you are following.
  3. Write a comment below about why you like to homeschool.
  4. Direct a friend to my blog. Write a comment below that lets me know you did that.
  5. Sign up for a portfolio appointment (March-July) and let me know you want to enter the giveaway.
  6. Recommend me to a friend and have them mention your name (this month) when they schedule a portfolio review. Of course, I am always appreciative when you recommend a friend to me- THANK YOU!

I hope you win!


~ Lisa