Handwriting – Tips, Tricks and Curriculum

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Good afternoon.  Today we will be discussing Handwriting.  I have found some neat tools, some websites, and curriculum that I hope will be of some help in finding what works for your child.

The first website I found  is a website you can make your own handwriting sheets. You can use letters, words or sentences.  I am using verses.  I’m picking a verse per week that I want her to learn, I then give her a sheet like this ** the first two days.  I than give her an sheet like this ** the third day and then another sheet like this ** the fourth day.  On the fourth day she is to decorate it to give away.  This came from “A reason for writing”.


Another great thing that I am beginning to use is “The Calendar Notebook”.  It isn’t just for handwriting, it is mostly for math.  But it has a sheet in it that the child writes their name once a month.  So that they can see how they improve over the year.  The daily math sheets were for k – 2 grade, so I made one for the older grades. **  I’m excited about using this.  If you are interested in this notebook, please email me at cstanley@afr.net  and I will send you the link for the notebook.  If you would like the sheet that I created for older children let know that as well.

Some of the tools that I have found are:

Shorter pencils are great for encouraging proper grasp and decreasing the tendency to use an inappropriate grip.

Weighted Holders help with proper grip.

Handi-Writer – comfortable device that promotes correct positioning and hoding of a writing tool.

Another tool I found was “Make your iPad a writing tool” – This website talks about using certain apps to allow children to practice handwriting on an iPad.  And you know how much children love to play on iPads.



The different curriculum I found were:

Handwriting without Tears-


A Reason for Writing –


Draw… then Write –


Universal Publishing –


Horizons Handwriting –


Another great site I found that had handwriting lessons was:

Donna Young’s site –



Some sites that were suggested by listeners were:

Draw, Write, Now – This is a good curriculum that includes drawing lessons as well as writing.



New American Cursive:



Using the Internet in Your Homeschool

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This webcast could have been titled “Internet Projects”, since that is what was discussed.  I did a lot of reseach looking for interesting projects that homeschoolers would be interested in.  I found so many!  The first website I found had a list of projects.

Online Projects for Kids – I did find that there were some links that were broken (no longer worked).  Here are some of the projects I thought were interesting.  There are many more.

The Elephants of Cameroon – looked interesting.  Join the North Carolina Zoo and a team of researchers on an interactive project to track and study elephanst in northern Cameroon.

Bucket Buddies – Students around the United States and other countries will collect samples from local ponds to answer the question: Are the organisms found in pond water the same all over the world? Participants will: Identify organisms in a water sample. Compare their findings with other participating classes. Determine which, if any, of the organisms are the same in other, more distant water sources. Look for relationships and trends in the data collected by all project participants. Bucket Buddies is recommended for elementary school students (grades 1-5) .

eIditarod Project – very cool.  time – register in Jan. This link was not working on the Projects website, but I found it through google.  As classes prepare to follow the Iditarod Sled Dog Race this year, consider joining the eIditarod project! We are an elementary school with a Science-based curriculum just outside Washington, D.C., and we would love to have you join us!
Participating classes will study the trail and musher biographies, create a wall-sized map of the trail, select a musher to follow in this year’s race, track the selected musher’s progress as the race occurs, email the project as the selected musher reaches each stop on the trail, receive a response from us here at the project each time you write, complete the problem solving tasks we send you via email, arrive in Nome vicariously with your selected musher, submit your final written task ( a letter to your musher) to the project for publication on our website.

GeoGame Project – The object of this game is to try to learn where the TEACHER PAL classrooms are located, and learn a little United States geography at the same time.

Another website I found that had many projects was  The Center for Inovation in Engineering and Science Education

I looked under the “Real Time Data Projects and found some very cool looking projects.

The Stowaway Adventure – using live remote sensing data from cargo ships at sea to take students on a virtual adventure. Focus is on math concepts and navigation.

I clicked on this one thinking it was about music.   Musical Plates – Explore the relationship between earthquakes and plate tectonics using real time earthquake data.

Wonderful World of Weather – This real time data module has been created for use by students in the elementary grades to allow them to investigate weather phenomenon both locally as well as in other places around the world.

Another great website is:  Quest Nasa

This website has 27 projects listed  Internet Projects Registry   On this website I found a project that I really loved.  It is called The Day I was Born Project  I really like this project.  The students research what happened in the world on the day they were born.  Then send in a report to the project.  The project is compiling a history book with all the data that has been sent in.  I love that there is a tangible result to this project.

Another project I found that I am planning on doing myself is  Skype R’ US  This project is from a 1st grade classroom in Iowa.  They want to Skype with classrooms in every state.  They are not even close.  I called Mr. Fenstermaker, the teacher, and ask him if he would be interested in talking to homeschoolers.  He was very excited.  He said he has never had a homeschool class participate, but he thought it was a great idea.  I asked him if I could present his project and he said yes.  They would love to Skype with any homeschoolers that were willing.  So if you could participate it would help their state count.  He has a map on his website showing which states they still need.  My homeschool co-op group will be Skypeing with them in May.

There were some websites that were suggested during the webcast.  One of those were School House Teachers, one our viewers thought that there were projects on this website but couldn’t find them because of a new website format.  I went to the website but couldn’t find them either.  You might have more luck.  If anyone does find them please come back and leave me a message.

Another suggestion was Lego Quest.  This is good link.

The last suggestion was PBS Kids Go; Design Squad Nation.  There were many, many projects on this site.  Some were interactive and some were not.  But this is a wonderful site!  I plan on spending some “quality” time checking this site out.

One of the things we discussed on the webcast was that many of these projects were great for boys.  We seemed to be able to find many things for our girls, but very few for our boys.  So this gives us some options for those active boys.

I hope these projects get you inspired to go out there and find one to participate in.

See you next week!


New Schedule for Webcasts

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I am going to have to change my schedule for the next couple of weeks.  The Homeschool Channel will be streaming the Homeschool Conference from Memphis, TN, so I will not be doing a webcast for April 10th.

My new schedule is:

April 17th – Using the Internet in Your Homeschool

April 24th – Handwriting Curriculum and Tools

May 1st – Organizing Your Homeschool – Tools and Suggestions

May 8th – Creative Writing – The Writing Notebook and Process

Hope to see you there!

Literature Curriculum Webcast

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Today we discussed different Literature curriculum.  I explained that I had a hard time finding Literature curriculum as stand only curriculum.  Most that I found were part of a full curriculum program.  I did find a couple of sites that had some interesting programs.

The Simple Homeschool – http://www.the-simple-homeschool.com/elementary-reading-list.html – This website has reading lists available to help you find books on your child’s reading level.

Weaving The Internet Through Your Elementary Literacy Curriculum  – http://www.lite.iwarp.com/weaveint.htm

Blackbird & Company – http://www.blackbirdandcompany.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=18/ – This website has book study guides that are grouped by grade levels.

Common Sense Press – http://www.commonsensepress.com/covers.htm – This program is called “Learning Language Arts through Literature.”

Winter Promise – http://www.winterpromise.com/ – This curriculum is not Literature only.  It incorporates Science and History.


Curriculum choices for homeschool literature, unfortunately, are few and far between, but don’t let that deter you.

Figuring out a way to implement a home-made curriculum is so easy, just do the following steps:

  • Sift through reading lists to find age appropriate material. (The easiest way I’ve found to do this is put into search “Reading level of …”.  Go to the Scholastic site and it will give it to you.)
  • Find a good literature unit to go with your picks to save time with vocabulary and comprehension questions (Choose books you’ve read and loved to make things even easier)
  • Make a schedule of how long you would like this literature unit to last (look at the chapters and decide how many per week is realistic for your reader to get through)
  • We create a Reading Journal for each book.  This is a place that she can write her vocabulary, answer chapter questions, and write journal answers as well.
  • Assign vocabulary prior to reading
  • Assign reading
  • Assign comprehension questions
  • Have them do a book report or poster presentation of the book

To show you what I mean, I have included some of the websites I am using for our Charlotte’s Web study.

For Charlotte’s Web:





After browsing through these different sites, I found vocabulary, questions for different chapters, quizzes, and many activities. I would then organized what I wanted to use.  Abby and I would look at the book and make a plan for her readings, she would make her reading journal and I would write her assignments down in her plan book.  Her assignments include readings, vocabulary, questions after reading, and activities.  To culminate the book I will assign either a book report, a poster presentation or some other book report style.  Some other examples for book reports are “make a book cover”, “Beginning, Middle and End foldable”, “Make a poster to Promote the book”, and many more.

I hope this helps.

The many other curriculum and websites presented were:


4 in a row – http://www.fiarhq.com/


Lightening Literature – https://www.hewitthomeschooling.com/Materials/mLightning.aspx




If you would like to view the webcast click here.

This next week we will be looking at how you can use the internet in your homeschool. My webcast will be on Thursday,April 12th, this next week.

The schedule for the next month is:

April 12th – Using the Internet in your Homeschool

April 17th – Handwriting Curriculum and Tools

April 24th – Organizing Your Homeschool – Tools and Suggestions

May 1st – Creative Writing – The Writing Notebook and Process

I hope to see you there.