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Sunday, December 18, 2011

A homemade book for Christmas

Homemade Christmas cookies!
What better gift is there than a good book?

Books stay with you. You live in them, and if they are especially helpful, life-giving ones, their words come back to you when you are in tight spots.

I have put a tutorial here about how to bind a good book. If I were to give one as a gift, I would fancy it up a bit; perhaps spring for a colored file folder, print out colored labels, add a ribbon for holding one's place, etc.

Printing one's own book and giving it away is wonderful because it can be unique--there are so many wonderful authors and titles that have lost favor in modern times, and yet are so rich!

Our children love to receive books--they know to expect them from me this time of year, and so they look forward to it. Besides making them, I gather them from all sources; thrift stores, online, etc. 

Here are just a few ideas of those online that can be printed out and gifted: words of one syllable These are the results of a search I did for books written "in words of one syllable" for early readers. Many titles to choose from here.

Snuggle up to a good book!
Charlotte Yonge  Here are the results of a search for the authoress. She is considered a truly "Christian" author of the Victorian era--some criticized here for being "too" Christian.

Elizabeth Prentiss Another wonderful authoress--penned the well-known "Stepping Heavenward" which I discovered via Elizabeth Elliot.

G. A. Henty Every young man should read a few of these!

George MacDonald This author is a household favorite. C.S. Lewis enjoyed his writing immensely.

Rudyard Kipling  Little children love his Just So Stories--our favorite is How the Elephant Got His Nose.

James Baldwin He had an engaging way of writing about history--fun stories to share aloud or alone.

Sunshine for Life's Pathway I recently discovered this one, and I found it very interesting. This one presents much food for thought and meditation on all sorts of Biblical subjects--even some humor. Consider this little ditty:
When Adam, waking, first his lids unfolds,
In Eden's groves, beside him he beholds,
Bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, he knows,
His earliest sleep has proved his last repose.

I'm printing this one out as a "Merry Christmas to me" present, that is, after I get all of my other projects finished...we're hoping that you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Homeschool

The three wise-men following the star of Christ!
Someday, I am going to begin planning in July for December...someday when all of my children are grown and there isn't anyone left to plan for!

Meanwhile, in the real world, I need to face the facts; there is no way for this mother to keep up the grind of formal homeschooling during the holiday season. Besides, if I did my children would rebel.

Instead, I try and do a stress-free "Christmas school". Every one of those nifty craft projects that were too messy or time-consuming to do at any other time, Bible study, poetry, Christmas stories, original compositions, are all very much a part of my December plan.

The children begin their salt dough creations!
For one thing, every one of my children knows that the holidays mean salt dough creations—the children love to work in this stuff almost daily. Good thing Sam's Club sells a mega box of salt for only 98 cents! We work, bake, and then paint and decorate them. Many of these turn out to be wonderfully sweet decorations that are saved as keepsakes and hung on the Christmas tree each year.

Next, we also love to create Christmas cards—of different varieties. These are great, sneaky ways to get the children to do some unofficial copy work while filling the insides with creative poetry—and because others may see these, the handwriting, spelling, and grammar receive closer attention! 

God's Word is precious!
For Bible study, I am having the older children study the nativity accounts from the Gospels and then complete a comprehensive, written narration. I am also requiring them to memorize a Christmas carol from our hymnals and play at least the melody on an instrument of each person's choice (around here that means keyboard, guitar or recorder).

Creating a family newsletter is another great way to keep the kids writing. It is a cinch to fix up a first-rate booklet to send to family and friends via desktop publishing. I have used PrintMaster to create newsletters in the past. It is so enjoyable to include family photos, scans of original artwork, prose and poetry the children compose themselves. The funniest stories we ever included were the ones dictated to me by the tiniest children in the family—verbatim!

Besides these, there are so many great resources for coloring pages, mazes, crossword puzzles, cut-outs, etc. for free on the Internet. Here are a few of the sites I am using this year:

A time of thanksgiving...
Activity Village

I am using the Christmas decorating pages from Activity Village, both as activities for each of the children, and coloring in and laminating a set of each to use as a file-folder game. The snowman set from the Disney site is perfect for one of these folder games as well.

Activity village also offers a series of coloring pages covering the nativity with lines for narration or copy work! I have printed and copied some mazes and dot-to-dots for my tiny ones from here as well.

For Christmas math we just allow the kids to purchase gifts for each other—the practical application is worth 50 workbook pages! reflect on all God's blessings!
Of course, there is also a lot of hand-crafts happening in all sorts of secret ways and places for Christmas gifts—I can't share all of that here for fear of giving away some surprises!

Additionally, one should never discount the baking of yummy cookies and other good things—we are cracking out the "What Einstein Told His Cook" book to delve into the "why's" and "how's" of sugar, etc. Science with a smile!

What are some of the ways you like to incorporate stress-free learning during the holidays?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Technology is not necessary for a good education

Here is an interesting piece on just how wonderful it is for children to be able to live without the constant intrusion of electronic gadgets--besides the Waldorf method being so closely related to how we homeschool everyday!

The smartest, most creative and innovative people in our nation know that children need time to play and think before they get used to being limited to the spoon-feeding of media of all types.

Guess what's not on our Christmas list this year?--technology!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Announcing Homeschool Sanity—the book!

Recapture the best of the past!
It's not easy being a homeschooling parent today. Educating one's children is a huge responsibility. There seem to be more "answers" than there are questions! Everyone has a textbook, or a method, or a philosophy. But how are we supposed to figure out just what path to take?

We want our children to have the very best and to grow up with the God of the Bible as their frame of reference; but the best way to accomplish this seems to be just out of our reach!

For more than 23 years I have been asking these same questions about education. During my own journey, I have read books and research by the most insightful and influential homeschooling leaders such as—Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, Ruth Beechick, Charlotte Mason, John Taylor Gatto, and many more. They were true pioneers of the current homeschool movement and all were dedicated to the welfare of children and their families.

Although their messages were often diverse, I began to identify a common theme. In the last few years I have discovered the Eclectic Education Series, and all those threads began to reveal an incalculably rich tapestry of education resources, that for many were lost to the past.

My heart was burdened with the realization that there are many others just like me—that are seeking a way to simplify their homeschooling into a coherent system which makes room for a child's personality and gifts, but at the same time gives him structure as well as discipline.

I have come to realize that the modern educational systems and methods are strangely unique in our human history, and they have failed us abysmally. Never before have we had so much knowledge at our fingertips, and yet, the literacy rates of our nation's school systems are at an all-time low. Despite the fact that we live in the information age—the divorce, homicide and suicide rates are at all-time highs. Our children face greater challenges today than we would have ever dreamed, nevertheless, many don't have the tools to handle these new demands and pressures.

It is time we threw out the progressive educational philosophies and ideologies which have lead us here. We need to turn back the clock and promote the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom. We must revive the unswerving Christian devotion that used to be lived out by our predecessors before the present narcissistic influence of humanism took over!

We can rediscover the tools of learning that helped our forefathers overcome the great obstacles of their time, that have only recently been replaced by "dumbed-down" work texts and worthless statistics which require no higher thinking on the part of young learners.

Homeschool Sanity: a Practical Guide to Redemptive Home Educating is my attempt to communicate a way back to common sense learning. It is a pathway back to the simplicity and joy of gaining the knowledge born out of the reverence for the God of the Bible. It is a journey filled with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.

This book is easy to read. Even if one only has time for perusing, something useful and encouraging will be achieved (I have included a few pages in this article from my book for your consideration).

It is full of colorful and engaging graphics, helps, charts, templates and resources. Even the busiest mother will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as she reads just how easy it is to give her children an education that will be a blessing to them for the rest of their lives!

Here is a small portion of what I have included in Homeschool Sanity's 160 pages:
  • An overview of the different methodologies of homeschooling
  • A brief history of education in America
  • Preschool
  • Reading and literature
  • Grammar
  • Arithmetic 
  • History
  • Science
No fancy psycho-anything here. I have rediscovered precisely why things used to work, and why they are so very broken today. I hope to lead the way into a fresh attempt to bring back the best of the past in order to prepare our children for the best future possible.

In essence, I have tried to make learning the "old" ways as convenient as possible for our modern lifestyles.

This is why you will find many nifty charts and templates ready for your use. You will discover a catalog of successful methodologies for your own re-education. If you are like me, you will not feel tired and anxious after you read my book; you will be refreshed and filled with real hope!

Many thanks to Dollar Homeschool for the wonderful resources offered in the form of the Eclectic Education Series. This book would not have been possible were it not for the opportunity I had to write the guides for each of the wonderful Eclectic collections.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tutorial--Printing and Binding eBooks

There are so many wonderful, old, and mostly free books online--one just can't help but download them and pour over them from one's hard drive. But reading these and sharing these, especially with children for their education, is another story.

I have decided I want to read these, not in their electronic form, but in as close to the look and feel of a "real book" as possible. I also want to make sure that if I go to all the trouble of printing and binding, these books will last as long as possible, so that as many of my children as possible can enjoy each one.

I have done general how-to's for printing and binding options before, but here is a step-by-step breakdown of how I print and bind mine.

To begin with, I have an auto-duplexing printer, meaning it automatically prints on both sides of the paper. This has been a blessing for me! I use the HP Office 8000 Pro. Besides its auto-duplexing feature, I chose this one because the cost of ink was so low--just over 1 cent per page! (the cartridges have a 2,200 page yield, and yet cost the same as cartridges for any other HP inkjet meant for personal use).

After bringing up whatever book I want to print, whether in PDF version or in Microsoft Office, I pull down the file menu and click on the print option.

Within the print window I click properties. In the next dialog box I select "booklet printing." I then check the "OK" box. When the original print window returns to the front of the screen, I plug in the pages I want to be printed.

This is a very important step. Even if a book is 400 pages long, it is best not to print any more than 20, double-sided pages at a time. 

Printing just that many pages allows for any errors, because when you print in booklet form the pages are numbered in a very specific way so that they will be in sequence when they are bound together. Also, printing just a few pages at a time allows you to bind them together so that they look and behave more like a book when you are finished.

I keep a tally sheet close to the computer and list each set of pages, such as:

61-80, etc.

I put a check on the left hand side of the number as I begin to print, and on the right side of each number as the printing has been completed. This simply tallying system has saved me so much grief as I am often interrupted while going through this process.

After I have printed all of the "booklets" and stacked them in a staggered way so they will not become confused, I begin the process of stapling each booklet in the middle. I try and stagger the staples, which helps the spine of the book to be more even when I finally glue all of the separate booklets together.

I then proceed to fold each carefully along the stapled middle. I use some sort of instrument (in this picture I am using the barrel of a marker) to make sure the fold is crisp and precise.

 After folding I stack the separate booklets up in order. Then I use two rulers with some binding clips to hold the pages as I use a hot glue gun and a Popsicle stick to glue the pages together. After the pages are glued, I measure the spine.

I then take a manilla folder, which has fold lines already in the middle, and measure just how many folds will be necessary for the spine of my book. In this instance, I find I will have to add another crease, so I use a ruler and the blade of an open pair of scissors to score the folder so that the crease is neat and crisp.

I use my paper cutter to cut the length of my book cover to just a smidgeon over 8.5". I then proceed to measure the sides of my book, making sure I allow for the spine, to a little over 5.5" each.

I then use my hot glue gun in the gutter of the manilla folder which I have just cut, and quickly apply the booklets I have previously glued together. I use my fingers to make sure the spine of the book is well-adhered to the folder.

For added security, I apply a bead of hot glue just inside the front and back covers, where the pages meet the spine.

I like to take some of the time between printings to design front and spine covers for the finished book. I use Microsoft Publisher to do this, but one could use PrintMaster, or even the open-source program GIMP.

I like to create a sort of "sticker" to put on the front of the book by using an interesting image from the PDF of the book itself. It is easy to clip one of these, copy it using either by pressing down the control key and the letter "c" at the same time, or right clicking the image and selecting "copy." I then open up the graphic design software and paste the picture (again, using the control key and the letter "v" at the same time, or by right-clicking and selecting "paste" in the drop-down menu).

I have been able to enhance my cover designs by taking advantage of the many black-and-white vintage images at Clip Art Etc. I have especially enjoyed their decorative letter section, which make my otherwise bland covers look a bit more "Victorian" and appropriate!

The spine cover is done by using one of the banner designs from Clip Art Etc. and filling it with the title of the book and the author or publisher, where appropriate.

Of course, it is important to estimate the size of each of these "stickers" before saving and printing them!

After I have printed and cut out my labels, I place them on the book where I would like to see them glued, then draw a light pencil line around them. I then put a light coat of Elmer's rubber cement on the front of the book and the back of the label. After both of these dry, I put the label on the book (this is an old graphic designer's trick--it is a much better method than simply applying and pasting a paper object).

My last task is to cover the whole book in clear plastic laminate; if I am going to this kind of trouble to print and bind a book, I am going to make sure it lasts through more than a couple of children!

Measuring the clear paper.

Cutting off the corners helps when wrapping the plastic around the cover.

Folding the plastic under.

Adding a bead of melted glue on the ends helps with security and longevity.

Opens and feels like a "real" paperback book.

Two finished products--printed from Living Books Curriculum

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The church in your home, Spurgeon

This quote is taken from Charles Spurgeon's devotional book "Morning by Morning", published in 1866:

If there be such a Church in our house [Philemon 2] let us order it well and let all act as in the sight of God Let us move in the common affairs of life with studied holiness diligence kindness and integrity More is expected of a Church than of an ordinary household family worship must in such a case be more devout and hearty internal love must be more warm and unbroken and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christ like We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of Churches for the Holy Spirit has here enrolled a family church in the inspired book of remembrance As a Church let us now draw nigh to the great Head of the one Church universal and let us beseech Him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of His name.

Monday, October 31, 2011

An encouraging rhyme

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for his grace;
Behind a frowning Providence,
He hides a smiling face.

This is a quote from Cowper, as published in the McGuffey's 5th reader.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why use some old books?

I received this recently via email:
I'm really thrilled with our eclectic approach this year.  It's been a bit slow going but I'm muddling through lots of information.  My children really do enjoy the McGuffey readers as there is no busy work.  It's simple yet deeply thought provoking, and pure  - whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely (Phil 4:8)....think on these things - that's been my homeschooling verse that the Lord keeps putting on my heart and no other curriculum or whole books have really fit until now.  It almost seems too simple, yet I can see that my children are thinking, really thinking.  It's refreshing!--sent by Patricia




children that are really thinking,


these are the ways these books are herein described.

Whatever is based on God's Word is timeless.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Important video for Christian parents

I just discovered this today--a wonderful video exposing the truth about American public education.

Facebook for Eclectic Education Series

Aaron Jagt, the gentleman who produces the Eclectic Education Series on CD, has begun an new Facebook group--this should be a place where folks can have their questions answers concerning using the McGuffey Readers, Ray's Arithmetics, etc.

Here is the link:

Eclectic Education Series Official Group

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sweet quote for today

I love the sweet little verses from the past that gave children helpful moral reminders. Here is one we read today in A Hive of Busy Bees, a little book that my children have always loved, published in 1931 and written with the same moral tone as the McGuffey readers:

Politeness is how we do and say
The kindest things
In the kindest way.

The book is in the public domain and can be read here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The importance of homekeeping

His mother kissed his plump, brown cheek.
I was recently introduced to a gem of a little book, The Nest Among the Honeysuckles, as I was perusing through the findings of Happy Hearts Homeschooling. 
This sweet book was published in 1855 by the American Sunday School Union and is full of stories for little children which illustrate Biblical living. 
After printing and binding the book last night, I sat down to read a bit of it so as to be familiar with it when I begin to share it with my little children. I was so delighted and encouraged to find the following passage concerning the "stay-at-home-mom", that I just had to share!

Our robin has been a keeper-at-home ever since those four bluish-green eggs demanded her attention. She has occasionally left, for a few minutes at a time, to procure food and drink, or to take a little exercise; but she has never forgotten her quiet abode, and the duties which there require her almost constant presence. She loves the green fields, the leafy trees, and the clear blue sky, and delights to hop about with her mate over the fresh grass and the clean gravel-walks; but better than all she loves those pretty eggs, which lie so cozily in the bottom of her straw-built nest.

Before she commenced house-keeping, she was very fond of travelling, and many a mile has she wandered, over hill and valley, in company with her friends. She assisted at concerts, and was universally admired; but she had the good sense to give up these enjoyments without a murmur, when higher claims called for her undivided care. Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well; and the robin will doubtless be repaid for the unwearied patience with which she performs her unostentatious duties. Some people are inclined to think domestic labour dishonourable, and the cares of house-keeping a burden; but our feathered friend is wiser than they. She does with her might what she finds to do, and she does it heartily. Every act of duty, faithfully and cheerfully performed, is acceptable to God; and his children do his will when they endeavour to attend to their various occupations in such a way as he can approve. If all house-keepers felt that, in attending to the different departments of their work as they should be attended to, they were honouring Him who has made this care necessary for the comfort of families, it would be a blessing to themselves, and to who all who dwell under the same roof with them. We cannot consider any thing which we do to please our heavenly Father of small importance, and no favour can be degrading which he requires of us.

We may all learn a lesson from the robin who lives in the honeysuckles, and we shall see how she was rewarded for her devotion to the employment which Providence assigned her. The wisest of men, in describing the character of an excellent woman, says: "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her." "She will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life." Our feathered friend's husband is absent much of his time (as most gentlemen are obliged to be) from his well-ordered home; but he always thinks of it with pleasure, and hastens to it whenever he can find time to do so. Sometimes he only stops a moment, but it is a precious moment to them both, for their hearts and interests are one. They are cheered, in their separation, by the pleasant memories of these brief interviews, and by bright anticipations of future enjoyment.

I have observed, Mr. Robin thinks it of importance to look nice at home, as well as when he is abroad. I have seen him alight on the walnut-tree, and carefully arrange his toilet, before going into the presence of his wife. She must feel complimented by this delicate attention, indicating so high a regard for her, and such anxiety to preserve her esteem. I should not wonder if she was a little proud of her handsome husband. However this may be, I am sure it is her greatest happiness to deserve his respect and love, and honourably to perform all the duties which devolve upon her in her married life.

American Robin

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The blessing of Godly schoolwork

My dear son Josh was giving me an oral narration of his McGuffey lesson the other day, and it was amazing to witness the joy on his face.

Josh is 17. He is of the age that demands authenticity; his need for idealism and genuineness is often foremost in his mind.

This is why he is filled with great satisfaction when he reads these old books.

His lesson was number 47 in the revised McGuffey's 4th reader, entitled, "The Creator".

Here is an excerpt:

But there is one fairer than the rose. He that made the rose is more beautiful than the rose. He is altogether lovely. He is the delight of every heart.
To think just how many children read these words in times past. To understand just how far we have fallen, and just why our culture is in the mess it is today.

To be so thankful my own children are blessed with these materials once again.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Home book-binding and Dollar Homeschool review

A day at a frontier school.
I am always looking for better ways to help my readers discover the simple, wonderful world of 19th century learning. I have recommended all sorts of resources, from the high-end, hard-bound sets of reprints in these blessed materials, to downloading free eBooks from Internet Archive and Google Books.

I love all types—I have three sets of hard-bound McGuffey's Readers, Harvey’s Grammars, Ray’s Arithmetics, etc., besides having downloaded, printed and comb-bound a number of these books and other resources which my children are using (Once I did 12 books at one time—my dining room looked like a publishing house!—HP loves me).

Recently I received a number of CD’s containing what was entitled "The Eclectic Learning Series" published from the 1830's to the early 20th century in the mail from Dollar Homeschool. I was curious as to how user-friendly and useful these collected works would be for myself and others, so Aaron Jagt sent me a copy of the set so that I could review them.

Aaron has done a great job of putting a pretty comprehensive compilation of these old tomes together. I was pleasantly surprised to find much more was included than is listed on his website. Each disk was like opening a present at Christmas!

For instance, I wasn’t expecting to find sound recordings of lectures on the godly nature of mathematics. I can imagine hours sitting and listening to these while the children are sketching or doodling on a hot summer’s afternoon.

Also included is a series of books which attempt to teach grammar and composition through literature, using both copy work and dictation. I had just been researching such an approach among the free books online, so it was such a relief to find that one had already been included!

There is enough material in the history section for copy work, narration, timelines, etc. to last many years—including poetry.

I have become an enthusiast of 19th century learning materials because they were formulated and used during a time our society was greatly influenced by Biblical Christianity. Professor McGuffey himself was a Presbyterian minister. Also, to a great extent, these materials were created before many of the most radical “reforms” of Horace Mann and John Dewey were accepted "at-large" and implemented (although their eroding influence is evident even in the revised McGuffey readers of the 1880’s).

I get excited when we use these materials because of the clarity of thought, and the respect paid to the learner. No dumbed-down content here—economy was a necessity of the past, when paper and ink were precious, especially in the frontier schools. Each word, each number problem, was well-thought out and meaningful. The curricula of the age were free of “busy work”, making them just perfect for application in homeschools and tutoring programs where consistent, concentrated instruction is the preferred method.

I know many of these books are available for free online, but I also know the sites on which they are offered are not always reliable, and I have recently found it difficult to find many of the titles necessary for a well-rounded Eclectic Series education (discovering the entire set of revised McGuffey’s editions can be like chasing a snake through the grass). It can also be confusing with all of the different versions of each of the Ray’s Arithmetics, for instance. I could see spending a bit of money in order to own this compilation for the duration of my children’s homeschooling educational years.

I did some figuring to help show the actual costs of these materials. I found there were 109 books total included in this package (if I have not missed any). This does not include the audio CD. If the asking price is $160, this makes the books cost approximately $1.47 each!

Of course, these are “digital” books—not easy to take to one’s room and study, unless you happen to have a number of computers for each child or a few of those nifty “reader” devices or an iPad. These devices would make the use of these excellent "digital" books much more “portable”.

For myself, I prefer to have the “tangible” form of books. I like turning pages and making places for more books on my library shelves. This is why I am planning on printing and binding a number of these books.

I figure that, on my little ink-jet, I should get about (700-800) pages per cartridge, that is using the “economical, black-only” setting. If I select "two-to-a-page" printing, this means I should be able to print about 15, 90-page books or seven to eight, 150-page books per cartridge (at $26 per cartridge). This makes it approximately $1.73 - 3.46 per book (or twice that for a three-hundred page book).

The paper is not very expensive, since I purchase it in ten-ream boxes from either Sam’s Club (free shipping) or a local office supply store where it was on sale (I noticed a ten-ream box on sale at Office Depot for about $25). This keeps my paper for a 90-page book (with the “two-pages-to-a-sheet” mode selected) at about $0.27!

Dollar Homeschool’s agreement states a person can print up to four copies of each book for personal use, which is plenty.

So here’s the breakdown in current prices for binding a 150-page book, using the “economy” and “Two-pages-per-sheet” settings:

$1.47—average cost of digital book
$0.50—miscellaneous expenses
$7.97 per book! (or $0.03 - 0.05 per page)

This is such a frugal way to go, even if one has to put in a little “sweat-equity” in binding the books, especially when compared to other curriculum options. Even finding these materials is challenging.

These books are non-consumable, so they can be passed down from child-to-child, making this a one-time purchase for many years’ worth of learning.

I went on line and compared the costs of a popular mathematics curriculum to what’s included here—an entire elementary course in mathematics would cost upwards of $600—and then there would be the expense of replenishing some of the consumable workbooks required for the course.

Printing the books included on the Ray’s Arithmetics Dollar Homeschool CD, that is all 39 of them, would equal about $348 (and you probably wouldn’t want nor need to print out all 39).

Printing and binding all of the basic McGuffey readers, at the $0.03 - 0.05 per page rate, would cost approximately $51.94 - $84.30.

For our little homeschool group, I am considering purchasing my own manual comb-binding apparatus. I am looking seriously at the Fellowes Star for about $55 on this site. It would make sense for us, since I love binding up books and booklets and should make it worth the initial investment in little or no time!

My oldest daughter is looking into the “click and print” option which is being offered by a number of printing houses. I will try and post her findings at a later date.

I am also considering printing up “booklets” of assigned material printed from the digitized books and catered to each child, which might include some note booking pages. In my thought processes are some extra practice booklets compiled from the White's and Dubb's math books. It would also be fun to create note booking pages for the Nature Study book.

It must be obvious that these materials would have to be supplemented with more up-to-date publications as well. A good set of encyclopedias and the Internet are a good start, and a library card would be a frugal way to round-out and complete a good education with these "digital" books as the foundation. Still, for the cost of just one year’s curriculum for one child, it is nice to own materials enough for many years (for example, Rod and Staff complete 1st grade, reading and math, costs $132)!

In case you feel as lost as I did when I began my homeschooling journey, Dollar Homeschool offers a Yahoo discussion forum with a number of archived discussions which helped me enormously when I began this review.

I do wish that the Manual of Methods was included on the McGuffey’s CD, as it really helps to clarify the use of these books in teaching reading—even takes one through the different methods in a more succinct way than I have ever read it expressed. I’m going to suggest this to Aaron Jagt so this may be changed in the near future.

If you are like me, prone to “creative meanderings”, then these materials are for you. Using these books allows me to enjoy my creative side, while giving me a basic structure that is sound and Biblically-based, free of a lot of the nonsense found in so many of the expensive alternatives of our present day.

My Ray's Arithmetics and McGuffey's Primer Helps go perfectly with this set for teaching basic math and beginning phonics and reading!