Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Free Shipping: CBD

CBD is having free standard shipping on orders of $35 or more.  This offer ends on July 14, 2014 at 11:59 PM EDT.  The notice I got for this said it was "Homeschool Free Shipping."  I didn't notice any restrictions on what you could buy with the free shipping code.  However, the notice did link to the homeschool side of CBD.  So, here's the link to CBD/homeschool.

Code:  437080

-A

Monday, July 7, 2014

Buying Used Books

Its that time of year again - the old school year is gone and I'm slowly getting ready for the next one that starts for us in 42 days (not that I'm counting.)  I tend to slowly get organized and stocked up over the summer just so I'm not bombarded all at once just before we start.  This includes, but is not limited to, locating where I'm going to get a hold of all the books we'll be reading that aren't available through our library.

 A while back I wrote this post that gave some sites for buying used books.  It still holds.  I hope you find it useful.  Just for helpful purposes, here's a list of the sites where I do most of my book shopping.

Amazon.com - OK. Nothing exciting here.  I'll just add that I did venture into buying a used book off of Amazon a while back.  The book I got was not in the condition I expected.  In that instance I contacted the seller through Amazon and politely explained my situation (I had paid for a "like new" book but what I got contained highlighting on many pages which was not up to par with their own description of "like new.")  I asked for the situation to be rectified and it was to my satisfaction.  So, just know that there is a risk when buying used books, but going through vendors like Amazon can help protect you if you are worried about that sort of thing.

Half.com - This is an Ebay offshoot with the difference being that there are no auctions.  You simply look up what you want to buy and who's offering it and choose.  Be careful that you take note of shipping costs and the rating of the seller.  I have found many of our books here with quite a few purchased for under $3.

Better World Books - Buy used.  Free shipping always to anywhere.  Great prices.  I have used BWB several times without any problems.

Homeschool Library Builder - New and used books at some decent prices. 

Alibris - New and used books, movies, audio books, music.  I have purchased books from Alibris several times and have no complaints. 

Powell's - This store is located in Oregon.  I have not used them myself, but the person who recommended this store to me was a very happy customer.  They have a large selection of new and used books.  With an order of $50 or more you can get free shipping or pay $3.99 flat rate shipping for any other order (doesn't include DVD's).  See the site for more details.

Thriftbooks.com - Through my orders with Half.com, I ended up with some books with a packaging that had this website on it.  So, I looked them up.  I don't have personal experience with this site, though it does look promising.  It's set up much the way Half.com is.  They have some discounts such as getting 15% off for telling a friend, free shipping on all U.S. orders, and $0.50 discount per item that ships from the same location when you order multiple items.  Prices start at $2.99.  Be sure to check the "Deals" tab and any current promotions. Hint:  When you click on the link "About Us" they list a number of vendors they work with. These vendors are worth looking up if you want more options for used books.

When I just can't find what I'm looking for used, I do look at buying new.  Here are where I've purchased from and been happy (other than at the above)

Christian Book Distributors -  Large selection and decent prices.  Also, the one time I had to call about an order that was damaged in delivery, the person I talked with was very friendly and helpful.

Good Steward Books - I find this vendor at the homeschool conventions and always find myself happy with their large selection.  Prices are decent. Domestic orders over $25 receive free shipping.  See the site for more details.

Schoolhouse Publishing - I also find this vendor at the homeschool convention and find that they carry many of the books my curriculum calls for.  Its a family run business.  I like that their catalog contains lots of good descriptions of their products - because they've tried them! Be sure to look on the "Promotions" tab for discounts.  Free shipping for orders of $100 or more and there is a code for 5% off your first order.  Prices are very reasonable.

Rainbow Resource - Who in the homeschool world doesn't know about Rainbow Resource?!  (BTW, if you haven't, just be warned that if you ask for a print catalog, its the size of a telephone book for a very large metropolitan area.  Get your highlighter ready!)  Free shipping for orders of $50 or more (with some restrictions).  I have ordered from RR in the past and have no complaints.

Barnes and Noble - Honestly, B&N is my last resort bookstore.  The prices are more expensive than my other options.  However, with a teacher discount card I can get 20% off educational related items (does not include music or movies...or the cafĂ© :(  If I need to order online (extremely rare for me since there are a few stores in my area) there is a free shipping offer for orders over $25.  See the site for details.  If you shop with B&N often, you can get a membership which gives you a deeper discount on items and free shipping.  Again, see the site for more info. 

As always, if you order from any site, be sure to know their return policies up front.  My listing of the above sites is in no way to be taken as an endorsement, guarantee, or any other promise of service that will be between you and the vendor.  My experiences with the companies I listed, when applicable,  has all been positive though that will not guarantee you the same.  Though I hope it is. 




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Free and Discounted Shipping: IEW, Timberdoodle

IEW is having a free shipping promotion.  From July 1-10 you can get free shipping on domestic orders along with a free downloaded audio talk and a free Freedomship & Entrepreneurial Education DVD with Nature Deficit Disorder audio CD with your order (while supplies last.  Shippable orders only.)

Code:  SHIP-FREEDOM14

Type in the code at checkout.

Timberdoodle is having a $4 shipping sale for the 4th of July which includes some discounts on select items.  The sale ends Friday, July 4th at 11:59 PM, PDT.  The $4 shipping offer is good only in the lower 48 states.

-A

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My Kid Wrote a Paper. Now What?

It turns out Blogger likes one computer in my house.  That one computer is the one that sits in the corner turned off most of the time.  So, my apologies for the scant amount of posts this last year.  Maybe over the summer I'll make friends with this machine and things will go much better.

I can hope.

Meanwhile, writing continues to be the subject that causes me the most trouble when it comes to homeschooling my kids.  Once again, I've been on the lookout for ways to improve both how to teach my students writing and how to evaluate what they've written.  My two oldest have really improved their writing.  I'm so proud!  Yet, it's so unfair to them that I assign writing projects for them to complete but cannot get them evaluated within a reasonable amount of time for my feedback to be of any use.  I've just come to that conclusion now that we're almost done with school for the year.  Brilliant.

 About a month ago I started looking at online writing programs that would help me in this area.  It still may be the answer for one of my progeny, but the price tag is too overwhelming for me to have both my older students go that route. 

Yet, I found something interesting.  Some online writing instruction companies have a service where you can submit your child's paper and (for a fee) they will provide feedback for you.  So, while paying big bucks for an online writing class may not be in your budget, if you need your child's research paper evaluated, you can send that in and get some helpful feedback and instruction.

Here are a couple of companies I found that will do that:
Write at Home: Write at Home offers online writing courses, but they also offer a pay per paper service with two options; You can submit one paper and get feedback or pay for feedback on a paper with three drafts.  Prices are based on the length of the paper.  According to the website, turnaround is less than a week.

Write Foundations:  Write Foundations offers online writing instruction as well as what is called the Parent Pro program (look toward the bottom of the page).  The Parent Pro program allows you to control the writing curriculum and assignments while submitting the papers to the writing coaches for evaluation.  They allow for each paper to be submitted twice - once for feedback and a second time for review to see if the recommendations were followed.  The Parent Pro Program has options for 1, 5, or 10 papers.

What if you don't want to commit to a complete online writing program but you sure could use help teaching how to write an essay or research paper or a story?  There are a number of places you can go that have short classes to teach such things.  The two websites mentioned above are options.  Another site I've been looking at is Brave Writer.  You can find multiple offerings for short writing classes here on subjects such as expository essays, poetry, journaling, and many more.

There are many, many options online for writing help.  These are just a few that I've been eyeing for next school year.  Perhaps next year we'll settle into a writing rhythm that suits us.  Till then, if you're in the same spot as I am, try signing up for the daily writing tips from Brave Writer for some good ideas and "like" the Write at Home (no spaces) facebook page for the daily grammar challenge and a few good writing pointers.

-A

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Christian Book Reviews for Kids

I think I've mentioned before that when it comes to reviewing a book for my kids, I often use Common Sense Media.  It has tons of movie, game, music, and book reviews that spell out what is in the content of each with a seemingly unslanted view.  Also, fellow users can also post a review or comment of the same material so you can get an idea of what other kids and parents think of the material.  Very helpful.

While snooping around on a homeschool forum, I found mention of another book review site, Squeaky Clean Reviews.  These are reviews of books from a Christian perspective.  After looking through the site, I thought it worth a mention.

Books are listed in alphabetical order so finding a review is pretty straightforward.  Though, a pet peeve of mine, if the title starts with "The" expect to have to look through the "T" section.  The reviews contain information on different aspects of a book including the plot, morality, violence, drug and alcohol content, sexual content, and cruel or profane language or content.  Then, based on the review, the book is given an overall score on fun and values.

My impression of this site is that I find it helpful and will most likely consult it the next time my kids ask me about a book I know nothing about.  I appreciate that while the reviews do address areas I have concerns over and that the reviews are done from a Christian perspective, they aren't "preachy" or seek to wag fingers at anyone for a reading choice (at least the handful, of reviews I read).

The  site does have its limitations, though.  The database is still a bit limited.  As more people come forward to write a review, this will change. (Reviews are submitted by volunteers as well as the site owner.  See the website for more information.). Also, only one review is submitted per book.  This helps avoid confusion from opposing reviews, but it also means a lack of viewpoints on the book.  While the reviews are supposedly from Christian readers, there's no guarantee that any reviewer will have your exact set of values in mind when writing their piece.  You really can't expect that from any site.  I tend to lean on the side of sifting through a number of reviews to see if there are conflicting reports or a theme of concerns that crop up.  With only one review allowed per book, this limits my information gathering.  However, if you know of concerning content that was left out of a review, you can contact the site and inform them.  The site states that they will then consider revising the review.

Overall, I think Squeaky Clean Reviews is worth a look when deciding on literature for the kids to read.

-A

Sunday, March 30, 2014

9000 Bodies

During our study of WWII, we read about the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy.  We read about the casualties and the sacrifices given that day.  Lives lost.  It was a staggering number to consider.  Sometimes visuals help.
 Around that time we heard about "The Fallen" an art installation by British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss.  This project was to stencil in the sand, a body for each one fallen on that historic day.  Amazingly, as they were working, people began to show up and help.  By the end of the day 9000 bodies were stenciled in the sand.  Then, gradually the tide washed them all away.  It was a tremendously moving and symbolic representation of that event.


To read about the project, go The Fallen 9000 website.  To view the pictures of that day, visit their gallery.


-A

Monday, February 24, 2014

Reading Anne Frank's Story

This last fall, our  history studies led us to the time period of WWII.  Specifically, we were reading about Anne Frank.  In the TOG curriculum, this comes around in Year 4 about Week 15.  There is a reading assignment for the Lower Grammar level in week 15 that is about Anne Frank.  The same subject is optional for Upper Grammar and non-existent for Dialectic and Rhetoric.  I thought that was unfortunate.  Anne Frank and her diary put a face to the persecution and danger lived by the Jews at the time.  I definitely wanted my kids to learn her story and so found books for all of them to read regarding her life.  They are pictured above.

The Story of Anne Frank by Brenda Ralph Lewis was the book I read to my lower grammar student.  It was very age appropriate.  The only disturbing thing about the book was that I couldn't finish it without crying.  My daughter didn't understand but opted to wipe my tears for me. 
 
I have the sweetest daughter, EVER!

The book did a great job of talking about her need to go into hiding, the danger in hiding, and what happened to Anne and her family afterward all in an age appropriate way.

For my Upper Grammar student, I found the book Anne Frank's Story Her Life retold for children by Carol Ann Lee.  I am uncertain if this particular book is still in print.  The "for children" in the title is what really drew me to this version.  The book is a telling of the Anne Frank story that follows her from birth to her eventual death.  At only 102 pages, it was a very manageable read for my 9 year-old.

When it came to my Dialectic student I thought, "He's old enough to read the diary itself."  I then purchased a used copy and handed it to him to read over Thanksgiving holiday. 

Please understand that I have never personally read Anne Frank's Diary.  I have only seen movies and read about her life.


So, this is where I would caution anyone wanting to do the same as I did.  It was only later that I realized that Anne Frank's Diary is, indeed, the musings, thoughts, and feelings of a teenage girl.  I had no idea that it contained what it did.  To be more specific, there are excerpts in the book that were not altogether appropriate for my 12 year-old boy to be going over.  Examples?  Anne talks about her period, at one point she goes into great detail regarding the female genitalia, multiple instances of romantic encounters with Peter, and her views of intimacy before marriage just do not agree with our own convictions.

No, we're not complete prudes.  We just felt that our kids (especially my son) didn't need to read about these thing in this context.  Besides, we felt these entries didn't really help to convey what we wanted him to learn from the book.
 
When I found out about these entries I quickly went through and put post-its on the sections that I would prefer my son not read and handed it back.  My son, meanwhile, was not heartbroken.  He can with all honesty say that The Diary of Anne Frank is not among his top 10 literature choices.  In fact, he had only been skimming the book to get an idea of what it said.  It was one time I didn't discipline him for not paying attention to his reading.
 
My own personal recommendation is that if I were to do it again, I would have my son read an edited version of Anne Frank's diary or a book about Anne Frank.  I had thought of just watching a movie, but the movie I previewed contained some parts that mirrored the diary, so we passed.


After everyone was all informed on the Anne Frank story, we went on a virtual tour of the annex at The Secret Annex Online.  Its a fabulous resource.  It retells the Frank story very well and you can see the annex and look up the people and the history all at the one site.  It could very well have been substituted for the reading if we had been running out of time. 

-A


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