Category Archives: Homeschool Hangout

A New Site & A Giveaway!

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I have a new site!!!! If you are here only for homeschool material, I have something for you. I have spun off my homeschool material to HomeschoolHangout.xyz Now don’t worry, my homschool stuff will still make it over here but more like an aggregator. That means there will be a delay.

To celebrate, I have an awesome giveaway over on HomeschoolHangout so pop over and enter!

A Look at Word Build Online

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Hi guys, it is Jacqueline, and today we are looking at Wordbuild Online by Dynamic Literacy, LLC

Wordbuild Online is a completely online hands-off morphology (the study of the forms of words) curriculum/unit for students who are already reading but need to learn words or prefixes and suffixes and how to build words. I started with Foundations Level 2 for my elementary school kid and I went ahead and did Elements Level 1 for my high schoolers to help make sure they have a firm grasp.

You purchase the units individually (at about $30) and then assign them to the students using the free parent and student accounts you create.  You get to keep each unit for as long as it takes for your student to finish it. Each unit ranges from 25-34  lessons. 

From the parent dashboard, you basically put your student into a class and you will receive emails every time they complete an activity. There aren’t any real details in the email but from the parent dashboard, you can see a lot more. 

I was looking at my 15-year-old’s progress report (in the video) and she was doing Elements Level 1. The guidelines say when you start, regardless of how old you are, if your student is past the  Foundations, possibly like sixth grade and up, then start at the first class of Elements regardless of how advanced your student is. 

Basically, the reporting tells me how long it took them to do each thing, what their score was. and their rating (it looks like four is their highest). If they complete a lesson and you think they didn’t do well enough or don’t have a firm grasp on the material, you can reset it. 

Other than that, I don’t really have to do anything. Looking at the high school class and it says they were learning the affix “ment”. So compla-ment and how it modifies words. For the younger ones, they’re kind of learning some of the other modifiers. Like the first unit in Foundations Level 2, it starts off with how to use “ly”. 

It’s good. It’s fun. There’s a gamification element that kids love. You can allow them to work as fast as they want or tie them down to like one lesson a day. If you’re wanting them to take time and you think they’re just gonna rush and not soak it in. So depending on your student, you can make that decision and you can modify it as you. 

So it’s something fun, but there’s a little “but” here. They ask you to define words as the student, and there isn’t necessarily a super right answer. And when I say that, I mean, I did a test one because my daughter had told me this who’s in high school and I kind of shorted some words and left words out of a definition that would really, you know, affect it. And it didn’t really seem to catch it. It’s more of a rudimentary practice using the definition the kids already know and adding a modifier to the definition. Kind of more of a drill. But not to say it’s not good. You just need to be very clear on what it does. If you’re looking for a definition of the word quickly to build the vocab associated with the word quick, this doesn’t do that. But it does really help them to learn how to modify and build words. If you want to check their choices and definitions, you can do that part by part. But if you are looking at hands-off, it is great too for the morphology.

So final thoughts. This is great. Especially if you have a student you just wanna make sure has a firm foundation and prefixes suffixes, what words mean and how they build together. I think that’s an important concept that not everyone gets. I really like the fact that it is a completely parent-independent online learning situation. If you’re looking for independent activity, it’s fun. They get to take a break from the pencil and paper. Get on the computer. That’s a great aspect of it. So on the whole, I really like it!

Check out some other parents’ thoughts and find their reviews over on the Homeschool Review Crew site!

CHEFA, A Local Homeschool Look!

Today I’m going to be talking about CHEFA, or Christian Home Educators of the Fresno Area. This was filmed in the last Academic Year, so prices have changed. If you like this kind of localized video talking about different groups in different areas? Do me a favor and leave me a comment so I know to seek out more of this information.

So I’m in Fresno, and full disclosure, I’m an active part of this group and I’m on the Board. When I was first starting to homeschool it was kind of hard to find out what all the interesting activities and things were in my area for homeschoolers, so that’s why I am talking today about CHEFA.

CHEFA is a Christian support group for private homeschoolers in the State of California who are in the Fresno area. What does that mean? It means we do not educate your children. We are not a school and we are not a co-op. What that means, co-ops tend to have one day a week where everyone gets together and everyone takes turns teaching. Someone’s running this group and we’re going to educate your kids either in core subjects or not core subjects but it’s usually planned out for the year. School obviously, we’re educating your children.

But CHEFA is a support group. We cover families so you buy a family membership and list which of your children are being homeschooled. Only the parents and children who are being independently homeschooled in California are going to be covered. Specifically, any children in the family that is in charter or traditional public grade school will not be included in the membership. Family membership for new members is $55 a year. Once you are a member you will have opportunities to renew at a discounted price for future years.

Now different support groups have different levels of activities and different areas that they cover. For us, we do a variety of things but we are a volunteer-led group. We may have classes, we may not have classes. We tend to do a Sports Saturday program that is similar to intermural sports, meaning it is casual, and whoever can make it joins. It looks a little different every year depending on who’s running it That is one of the joys of a volunteer organization Sports Saturday is a huge reason we joined when the kids were younger. It is included for free in your membership and that is cheaper than any other single sport, much less a year’s worth. Any activity that doesn’t have a cost is usually free to members, like sports, but some activities cost to cover the expense (think supplies, rentals, etc).

All it takes to run most activities is to have 2 non-related parents want to organize it. So if you want a painting day, park day, or a field trip it can be done. That is also when you figure out how much a participant needs to pay to join that specific thing.

Another big pull for membership is when your kids get into high school and junior high. We have something called CHEFA Youth and we have different activities that are aimed at that age group. There are often game nights, contra dances, Christmas parties, and a lot more. This is actually a reason that some charter school parents make a point to pull their kids out in 7th-12th grades. It is a great social group for your students to bond with!

Another huge reason people join the senior year experience. The senior year for any homeschooler is always just a little different than if your kids went to public school. So what we have is a senior leadership team of students and they plan fundraisers and activities all year. They have a senior Bible study, fundraise for their activities (including traditional graduation), and even have senior class clothing! There is often (when covid isn’t an issue;) a senior trip and sometimes other trips that get organized. The graduation is always gorgeous and gives the students to put on a cap and gown with their friends and family. It includes speeches and musical performances, you will never miss out on the traditional experience with graduation.

CHEFA is a great group and if you are in the Fresno area looking for a way to meet people and have great experiences with your kids then you much check us out. There is a new member meeting you would have to attend but that is it! (Secret, I am currently leading most of the new member meetings;)

If you have a local-to-you group and you would like me to make a video about them, please let me know. We’ll talk about it and see if it fits in (it probably will).

Free Reading Comprehension Tests Online

ReadingComprehension Everyone knows that I am a huge fan to getting kids reading! I do not believe that reading always has to serve some great academic purpose but still you want to make sure the kids are understanding what they are reading. An occasional book report is a great option or even a story board or lapbook but you don’t always have time (or care) to do a huge project.

Sometimes you just want a quick check to make sure they understood the book and to maybe get some measurement for rewards!!! There are some great sites with quick and simple reading comprehension tests for tons of books. These are great resources for homeschoolers and teachers to use all year. They are also great tools to make sure your children don’t suffer the summer slide when it comes to reading by them staying engaged and reading! And they are all free!

  • Fun Trivia has literally thousands of quizzes available! Not only do they have a ton of quizzes available for K-8th but they also have a Young Adult section(with the Hunger Games;)! It is well organized by authors last name and there is also a section for series books. You have your choice of HTML version where you answer all the questions at once or a more quiz like format. In the true quiz format you will have you”point” value go down based on how long it takes and if you need a second chance.
  • Children’s Books Quizzes over at SoftSchools has a variety of quizzes also. Their list isn’t quite as extensive but they are just the quizzes. There isn’t a rewards system or even an account creation step. Just pop in and take the quiz. I think that most of the books are really 4th grade and under but there are a variety of Harry Potter books also. They even have Henry and Mudge for your early elementary students.
  • Book Adventure  is no longer free! But is a great site that is built for rewarding. You input what rewards are available to your student and then track what quizzes they take. This is aimed at K-8th and there are a lot of book options.

These are great tools but they are just that. You don’t have to quiz on every book or any for that matter. They are just tools for you to use as you see fit!!

(Updated 2021)








3 Unexpected Ways for Your Kids to Celebrate Earth Day (and an Unboxing)

We all know the traditional ways to celebrate Earth Day. Often it is suggested to just recycle old materials in your green and blue garbage cans and pick up trash. But we can do better with our kids!

  • Recycle used materials by creating crafts and toys! You can use those crafts as décor or gifts or even toys! They can make display shelves out of shoeboxes. Pencil cups and vases out old cans and jars, decorated with pieces of cloth, ribbon, or even with magazine images!
  • Have an Earth Day movie day! Watch Planet Earth or some other nature documentary to let your kids fall in love with the beauty of this planet. They won’t help but care what we do to it once they see the images and how it all works together.
  • Volunteer to make the world better! No, I don’t mean just to pick up garbage but that and more. We are going to be volunteering with Harvest Fresno to work with Beautify Fresno. Donating your old toys and clothes also helps the world! So volunteering at a community closet also is a great win.

Products in the Video

Do It Yourself No-Cost Driver’s Training for California Homeschoolers: Homeschool Hangout

Today we are talking about how you can conduct your child’s driver’s training in the state of California if you are a private homeschooler for no cost. Yes, you heard me. You can legally conduct your own driver’s training for your child as an independent homeschooler in the state of California. How awesome is that? 

So first up, I am not a lawyer. I do not pretend to be a lawyer. I don’t even play one on television. This is purely what has worked for us and is not constituting any form of legal advice. Once again not a lawyer not giving legal advice.

We all know in public school now that they don’t really offer driver’s training and many don’t even offer driver’s education. As a homeschooler (and just a person who values money) I was very intimidated by the cost of paying for driver’s training. So when I started hearing rumblings by people who’ve been around a little longer than me saying you don’t have to pay for driver’s training. I was like what? So the real question is, how do I save $400 for 6 hours of instruction? To be clear, driver’s training is usually just about 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. I got pointed in a direction by a friend and the research began! 

This is the process that worked for me. I will be very honest, I’ve read a lot of the education codes having to do with homeschooling in California. I didn’t really find anything in the DMV write ups (vs forms) or in the education code regarding this. Basically, I haven’t found a law or law explainer. Mostly, I just found forms. But, I have done this process from the beginning all the way through to a licensed driver with my 17 year old. We are about to begin it again with my 15 year old.

You can use this process to do both driver’s education and driver’s training. We only did driver’s training. Frankly, our time was worth the $10 we spent on a Groupon for a driver’s education class. But as I said, this is a process good for both if you would like.

The big part of this experience is going to be guided by the DMV form DL396. Basically, this goes to the occupational licensing section of the DMV. So let’s take a look at that form real quick.

A Look at the DL396

  • The first thing you do is choose your type of school. If you are here, I am assuming you are a Home School or Private Satellite Program.
  • Now enter your basic information. This will match the PSA information. A CDS code is only issued to schools with more than 6 students so if you are part of a PSSP, you need to get that from your group admin. For those of us with less than 6 students, we don’t have one. Nor do we have a School ID number. Don’t worry about it, leave them blank.
  • You are the requester, not your PSSP if you are in one. This is basically where you want it and who they will follow up with if there are questions. 
  • The date of request is the date you are doing this.
  • At the bottom of section one you can put the dates you need them. If you want them ASAP you can put today’s date but if you don’t need them until the next semester, put that.
  • In Section 2 you just select what applies to you. We are not public or charter schools. So don’t check it;). Then check the next 2 boxes in Section 2. This just says that you are going to teach the actual law and responsibility to your student and keep the records. 
  • In Section 3 there are a variety of boxes and you only choose the ones that apply to you. 
  • You are not a private secondary school really. A school like Fresno Christian or Memorial would qualify as that. Don’t check those.
  • You will need to include a copy of your PSA.
  • Decide if you are doing both Driver’s Education and Driver’s Training and mark the appropriate boxes.
  • You are not teaching “non-classroom” Driver’s Education. If you hire out Driver’s Education, they will issue the completion certificate. So leave all 3 of those blank.
  • Section 4 is just your expected amount of students for the year. That’s it.
  • Section 5 is where you list anyone who will be part of the official teaching and mark parent. Because you are a parent, you don’t need to worry about a teaching credential or a background summary.
  • Then sign it.

That is it for that form! Next, we move onto DL396A. Another fancy-sounding form but it just requests supplies. You put your school name at the top and select what you need. Remember that you are a homeschool. The majority of items come in private secondary or homeschool. So just make sure you choose the homeschool option. 

You will also need to keep a copy of DL803 in your drawer. Some people say to send in a copy every year, I haven’t found anything official that actually says that. So I just keep it in my file cabinet. It tracks your issuing of the completion certificates. You don’t actually do anything with it but keep it in case there are rogue certificates out there, you can answer for where yours went.

That is basically all there is to it! You need to mail in the completed DL396, DL 396A, and a copy of your PSA. You will get your supplies in the mail and are good to teach! There are more stories and anecdotes in the video but this written article seems to be long enough to bore you. So I leave you to watch the video for all the details of how we personally handle it with our kiddos. Let me know if you have any questions!

A Look at the BJU Press Algebra 2

Looking for awesome videos on homeschooling? Check out Homeschool Hangout over on Youtube! Also, join our Facebook group for support and resources (Homeschool Hangout by NerdFamily).

Is there a great Algebra 2 Curriculum out there?

Algebra 2 isn’t a subject most people are excited about but it is a necessary evil;). I took a look at the BJU Press Algebra 2 curriculum that I am currently using with my 4th student. Let me start off by saying that we love this curriculum but it isn’t for the faint-hearted but you also don’t need to be an Algebra 2 whiz to teach it to your student!

How hard is it to teach this Algebra 2?

We are math nerds. I was a math tutor back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. But let’s be honest, I didn’t remember Algebra 2. I wasn’t even phenomenal when I took it. But have no fear. The Teacher’s Edition goes through all the concepts thoroughly and every single problem is done with all the steps. These are the most complete Teacher’s Editions I have ever seen! Seriously, includes all the steps and even logic. Have a student get stuck on a review problem? No fear, they tell you where the original concept was taught.

How we went through this curriculum was from the first problem to the last, with every problem getting done. But this isn’t how everyone needs to do it. The curriculum has different assignment options and of course, you can always just do what you want;). We have 3 students who are going to have to take multiple semesters of calculus so we wanted to make sure they have a firm foundation. It also means at least one of the kids took a year and a half to work through it.

This is an intense curriculum that really prepares your student to go on to take college-level Trig and Pre-Calculus without any problems. But you don’t have to make it as intense as we did. The curriculum is about $90 but for that, you get the textbook and 2 Teachers Editions. You can also purchase test answers (we don’t test), an e-text, and online instruction for an additional fee.

Do you have a fear of Algebra 2 or teaching it to your student? Let me know what I can do to help! Looking for a different curriculum? Leave me a comment. Looking for awesome videos on homeschooling? Check out Homeschool Hangout over on Youtube! Also, join our Facebook group for support and resources (Homeschool Hangout by NerdFamily).

How to Start Homeschooling in California

Aren’t you tired of your kids coming home with outrageous ideas? Tired of having to do everything according to the public school’s schedule? Well, you have options.

First, this is a how-to for someone who is going to do it alone in the State of California. Meaning no “homeschooling” group, you are responsible for everything. This is not legal advice but a gleaning of all the information I have. 

So you need to get a file folder and put the following information in it.

  • An attendance record that has your child’s absences only.
  • Have a resume for yourself and/or your spouse that includes any schooling or training you have. (There is not an educational requirement, you just need to have some background proof of some) You also could put in a copy of your transcripts or diploma of your highest level of education.

Then you will need to file a PSA (Private School Affidavit), which some of us still refer to by the outdated R4 name. You can go over to my walkthrough of the form if you have any questions. Everything is done and submitted on the computer. You need to print off a copy and keep your confirmation code (just in case).

So what else is expected of you? You will also have to instruct in English (unless your student is currently learning English, in which case it needs to be at least 50%). You will also have to make sure you teach at least the “accepted” subjects. You can go to the Content Standards on the Education Department’s site to get grade-level goals (though not required). You also need to keep a basic course list. Mine is basically a book list.

The subjects for 1st to 6th (there aren’t rules for kindergarten):

  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Health
  • PE

That is it! Remember, we have all seen the current school system so it can’t be that hard! Good Luck!