Izzy on KindleJoe and I LOVE books. If there is anything I am tempted to hoard, it’s books. I love getting lost in a good story and learning new things from the experience of others. I even love the smell of books- I’m a NERD that way.   And no one can dispute the value of books from a learning standpoint.  As we have learned about our nation’s founding fathers, a common thread among their stories was how much they treasured the wealth of knowledge found in books and regularly sought out ways to borrow, purchase and acquire them.

Unfortunately, when you live in an RV, van, skoolie, or travel trailer, books are not really your friend.  A plethora of volumes will quickly weigh a rig down and make driving conditions unsafe. This is particularly a challenge for roadschoolers using book-based curriculums. Multiply that by our FOUR kids, and you can imagine what a dilemma that poses for our family.  You can imagine the inner struggle I have: I want to have books. I want my kids to LOVE books. But we really can’t afford to have the weight of books in our traveling tiny home.

So what do we do???

We have had to come up with some creative solutions to our book problem:

  • We enjoy stopping at Half Price books and other used book stores to browse books. At theses stores, we can return used books (for a teeny, tiny commission/credit) and buy new books. So far, we still have more books on hand than we should (weight-wise), but this helps keep “real” books in the hands of the kids so that they are not on screens all. the. time.
  • Libraries tend to have a “Friends of the Library” section where they fundraise by selling older books for very cheap. All of us enjoy browsing through these sections as we visit libraries to do our schoolwork.
  • A lot of campgrounds and neighborhoods have “take one, leave one” libraries. This is a great way to off-load old books that others can enjoy, while giving us an opportunity to scope out new reading possibilities.
  • Each of our kids has their own Kindle Fire on which they can read books. We like Kindles because they have great parental controls (monitoring time spent on the device and the content they can access) and a free reading app that is accessible on virtually every device.  Not only do the kids have access to great books they can read and listen to, but they can also play games and download movies to watch. If you’d like access to kid-friendly games and activities (especially great for entertainment while traveling!), you can enjoy an Amazon FreeTime Unlimited free 30 day trial by clicking the link below.  If you choose to continue once the trial period ends, it costs only $3 a month for one individual plan.

Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Free Trial

  • Kindle offers many free books which the kids can enjoy. There are SO MANY classics accessible to the kids to download for free!!  (Did I mention FREE?) Kindle also offers an “unlimitied” program, which allows you to read as many books as you want for one low monthly price.  You can click the link to learn more.

Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

  • We listen to books on Audible. Again, I have one account that is accessible to all of the kids. We enjoy listening to books together as a family when we are driving. Or if the kids like, they can attach their headphones and listen on their own device to the book of their choosing.  Audible is running a special right now that gives you an opportunity to try it out for your next roadtrip FREE!!

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

  • We can check out books through our public library’s ebook lending library. 3MCloud, Overdrive and Hoopla are popular apps that libraries use to disperse eBooks to their patrons. The kids have these apps downloaded onto their Kindles and can check out new books for free.  Check with your home library to see what apps they employ.

IMG_0771The good news: whether you love the idea of eBooks and audio books, or prefer the joy of holding a bound volume in your hand, there are options!  All it takes is a little creativity.

If you would like to check out Kindles for yourself, I’ve provided clickable links below to see some of the different Kindle options available.  Amazon is currently offering some great deals on Kindle packages for Valentines Day!

Fire Tablet 3-Packs: Starting at $109.97

2-Pack Kids Edition Tablets: Starting at $149.98

And if you already own a Kindle Fire, but find it is outdated and not working as well as it should, Amazon is offering a great “upgrade” deal (click the link below):

Fire Tablets: 25% off Trade-in + Amazon Gift Card

How does your family approach the conundrum of books and nomadic life? If you have other ideas/options, PLEASE, share them in the comments below!

Keep Doing Life Deliberately,

Trisha

***This post contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated should you choose to make a purchase by clicking through our links.  This does not cost you, the consumer, anything extra and helps us to continue bringing you quality content.  Thank you for your support!😊

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calculator-calculation-insurance-finance-53621.jpegTeaching spelling might be a bit challenging, because I have to adapt to my kids’ different learning styles. (Click here to watch my latest video “How to Teach Spelling in Homeschool.)  But math…I am NO math genius. Though arithmetic never posed many problems for me, algebra kicked my butt on a regular basis as a teenager. I never flunked, but it certainly did not come easy to me. Looking back, I wonder if my brain was just not quite fully developed enough in that area to grasp concepts that came much easier to other kids. Who knows? Now that I have taken algebra at the highschool level, college level, and have to help my 13 year old daughter, I feel like I am FINALLY starting to “get it.” And now that I get it, she is starting to surpass what I ever learned.

Ugh.

Well, to all the mathematically challenged homeschool parents out there, there is good news. There has never been as many resources available to parents to teach their children as there are now. I have been so thankful to have a mom with a teaching degree to pass on tips and tricks to me, as well. And I am thankful for the many different curriculums and helps available. I’d love to share some of them with you!

  • Saxon Maththe curriculum we used with all of our kids during the grade school years and beyond. Saxon is not colorful or fluffy. It’s been around a long time- I remember using it for pre-algebra in the 8th grade. But what Saxon lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in substance. It is extremely thorough- teaching kids mastery in math facts, slowly building skills as they gradually add concepts from one day to the next. Our oldest daughter used Saxon all the way through Saxon 8/7 in the 7th grade.
  • Teaching Textbooks (a computer math program that instantly checks and records grades) is available for all ages. We switched to Teaching Textbooks when our oldest was an 8th grader and she tested into Algebra 1 (with a history of Saxon Math). We now have two children using Teaching Textbooks and it has been a huge blessing to our family!! Both of our girls detested math more and more as they got older and the material became more challenging. But when we made the switch to Teaching Textbooks, their attitudes improved tremendously! This curriculum is visually stimulating, has little characters that encourage your student(s) whether they answer correctly or need to try again, immediately corrects their work, and keeps a record for you. Parents can easily go into the record book to adjust grades or erase problems so students can try again. This curriculum has preserved my homeschool mom sanity just a bit longer!!
  • Saxon CD ROMs Saxon does put out teaching CD ROMS for their 4th grade and above curriculums that you can purchase in addition to textbooks. These CDs contain a lecture, practice problems, and work through each problem found in the text, if desired.
  • DIVE CD ROMs– These CD ROMs also accompany the middle to upper levels of Saxon Math. They include a proposed syllabus to help you stay on track throughout the school year and finish the curriculum. The lecturer encourages students to write down problems as he explains examples and challenges students to keep a positive attitude. I really liked these CD ROMs. The examples are NOT the same ones found in the books.
  • Xtra Maththis is an app that you can purchase (currently $4.99 on the IPhone) that makes practicing your math facts fun and easy. It can be used for multiple students and sends mom or dad a weekly report so they can see the progress their kids are making. It takes 5-10 minutes 5 days a week.
  • Manipulatives– This is something that my mom tipped me off to very early in our homeschool experience- and I’m so glad she did. Several grade school curriculums will require that you purchase a set of manipulatives, which may or may not include a plastic clock with moving hands, plastic shapes, a balance, linking cubes, counting bears (or another animal for teaching arithmetic in a fun way), flash cards, etc. There are lots of household items you can use, though, to teach early elementary math concepts and make it fun: beans, buttons, grapes, tongue depressors, pencils, etc. These types of items help make learning fun.
  • Tutoring– Sometimes math can just be daunting- especially in the highschool years. If you find yourself in that place, consider calling a local highschool or college and talking to a teacher/professor. Ask if they can recommend students that would make good tutors. You can also seek out the many afterschool tutoring centers that are now available.
  • Khan Academy videos– I have never made use of this resource myself, but many people have recommended Googling these videos as another option for help with upper lever math problems.

So there you have it! Those are our best tips and tricks for surviving math. What recommendations do you have based on your family’s experience with teaching math? We’d love to hear from you! PLEASE, leave your tips below!!Sp

Keep Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha

*I am not currently an affiliate for any of these products and do not receive a commission for any purchases made. We have enjoyed and appreciated these products and commend them to you based on our experience.

School is so different from when I was a kid- in large part to the boom in technology. I remember typing English lit papers on our dinosaur computer (even by standards then, it was a dinosaur) with the spindled printer paper. The computer lab at my small-town highschool was fairly new, and I didn’t have the foresight to see how important taking a computer class would be for my future. Fortunately, I was a kid and a quick learner. My college years grew my skills immensely- from using email to word processors to the internet. My young married years quickly acquainted me with social media, and now, here I am, writing a blog and posting videos to YouTube (click HERE for a tour of our homeschool room!).

Fast forward to 2018, and here I am, a parent, and my kids can work remotes, video games and Minecraft in circles around me. Trying to navigate their technology usage is not only a challenge, but a chore. And yet, in some ways it is a beautiful blessing. Here are three thoughts that I have regarding technology in the home/homeschool classroom:

Benefits

As our kids are getting older, we find ourselves teaching more difficult subjects, checking more assignments, and recording completed work. For this reason, I have come to appreciate the technological resources available to us more and more. We have taken advantage of CD-ROM teaching cd’s: a Spanish program to guide the kids through learning a foreign language, and even entire math curriculums for our oldest girls. We did this: one, because they were struggling at the upper levels with their former curriculum; two, because it was far more captivating and rewarding to use the computer program; and three, because it automatically graded their day’s work, saving mom and dad a ton of time! As a bonus, the kids look forward to using the computer interspersed between their other subjects. It’s a nice break from textbook learning.

Accountability

If our kids are going to have access to the internet, they MUST have accountability. There are tons of ways to go about this, but some of my favorites are:

  • Kindle Fire Tablets: These tablets are inexpensive and have easy-to-use parental controls. You can set a curfew for your kids and control what hours of day they have the ability to use the tablet. You can easily limit what kind of access they have to the internet, videos, apps, shopping, books, music, etc. You create a parental control password and enter it to change any of the settings at any time. While this is not a perfect system for keeping kids safe or out of trouble, it definitely goes a long way.
  • Covenant Eyes: This is a web based company that can filter all your technology, as well as send emails to accountability partners of your choice, highlighting websites of concern. This allows parents to see and visit websites their kids are visiting and discuss with them the wisdom of their choices (or lack thereof). This is great accountability for parents, too.

Boundaries

There are a lot of great reasons to limit the amount of time that kids are in front of screens: increasing physical activity, the addiction factor (the addiction factor of screen time has been compared to the addictiveness of some illegal drugs- you can Google it), the radiation concerns of people being in proximity to tablets, phones, lap tops, etc. for hours a day and the concern for a link to cancer and disease, the lack of social interaction with others sitting right next to them, and the list can go ON, and ON, and ON… Even at our kids’ annual checkup this week at the doctor, the information sheets sent home with them recommended no more than 1-2 hours a day of screen time. So, that being said, there is good reason for creating limits for the use of technology. Some ideas we have employed are:

  • We have a designated hour each day when the kids can use tablets or computers. This includes video games, email, video chat, etc. This way we can easily keep track of when they are on technology and not taking advantage of our inattentiveness.
  • Before the kids can utilize their hour for technology, they must complete all of the day’s assignments, do their daily chore, practice their piano homework, and read silently. If they fulfill their responsibilities, they get their hour or so. (They can and will take advantage of mom and dad’s failure to hold them accountable- so I have to be diligent to check over their schoolwork. This is an area we are constantly working on.)
  • Extra hard work in school will gladly be rewarded with a bit of extra time on technology. For example, our son is extremely self motivated to finish work quickly so that he can have more time on the tablet. We are happy to oblige a bit more time if he has worked hard, worked well (quality work) and with a good attitude!

So there you have it. We are learning and growing right with the kids. What benefits, boundaries and accountability tools have you used in your home with technology?PLEASE, comment below! Your thoughts and experiences are of value to us and can be a blessing to others.

Keep Doing Life Deliberately!

Trisha