Posted in Homeschooling

Our Online Resource Library

In the last post I hinted at some new resources that we are now using so now I want to share the details in case somebody else can find it helpful as well.


We are not new to using online resources but we haven’t been consistent with them. We have been using things like ABC Mouse, BrainPOP and Reading Eggs for a while.  It can be difficult to keep track of resources, remember logins and the cost can add up if signing up for several services which is why I tended to stay away from most of them.


This is why I was thrilled to become part of a new online cooperative that simplifies everything while offering substantial savings on some of the most popular educational resources.


This was a modern case of “being in the right place, at the right time”.  I just happened to be online and on the right group when a discussion was talking place of a new an online cooperative offering a charter membership with great benefits.


The main benefit of being a charter member of the Griffin Cooperative Academy is access to a Clever portal, this is a one-stop dashboard linking a plethora of resources in one screen, many of them with 1-click login.   The membership offerings have varied slightly over time but it’s a great value.  The added benefit is the one clock login for several other services that people buy separately making it easier for the child to access everything from one place.


Some of these resources are free but others would cost a lot more if purchased “a la carte”.  Being a member also gives you access to discounted pricing on other products, you would need to join to be able to see the current list.  In addition to the educational resources, we get a free academy e-mail and Microsoft Office Online so the value is definitely there.


My favorite thing is the Clever Portal.  I no longer have to remember logins, keep track of bookmarks, etc.  Now I just log onto my dashboard and click the appropriate icon.  This means that we are using our online resources more, it’s less work for me and it’s more fun for the kids.
If you already subscribe to an online service such as Time4Learning, you can easily access that account through the same portal.
When you join you will be invited to an exclusive Facebook group where you can get more details on how to get setup, view a video walking you through the portal and ask questions.   The group’s founder has a lot of great plans and ideas and is working hard to add new things so please bear with her as there may be some confusion or kinks here are there while things are ironed out.
To learn more and sign up visit
Disclaimer:  This is an unsolicited and unbiased review, I do not get anything in exchange for you signing up with the exemption of access to whatever new products the academy is able to purchase with your fee for the enjoyment of all members.
Posted in Homeschooling

Homeschooling during Hurricane Season

We are alive and in a better position than many.  I haven’t blogged in a while because things have been very busy in the Fox Den.

Last month we took a vacation to Tennessee, we took a lot of field trips, got to watch the Solar Eclipse and more. There was a lot to tell but I never got a chance to blog about it, those of you that follow on Instagram and Facebook got to see a couple of updates.

Our curriculum was one of the first things I packed during our evacuation

Earlier this month life was disrupted by Hurricane Irma threatening to come over and destroy our area.  After a stressful week of preparation and evacuation, we dodged a bullet as the storm shifted and we avoided catastrophic damage.  We are blessed that our home only suffered a broken fence and lots of fallen limbs, other people in our area weren’t so lucky.

It took some time to clean up and get back to normal from that only to have my world shaken again by Hurricane Maria’s destruction in the Caribbean.  Its direct hit on the island of Puerto Rico destroyed the infrastructure and 7 days later its population are still in desperate need of help.  That is where I was born and raised so the past week has been very stressful for me as communications are still affected in many areas and I have a long list of people that I know that have not been accounted for (22 as of this writing).

So I have spent this week helping in any way that I can, I am unable to donate lots of money or supplies so I have found creative ways to contribute.  I have been spreading awareness, telling others how they can help, putting pressure on the government to send aid.   I have spent countless hours glued to Zello, an app that I downloaded for Hurricane Irma that I didn’t use then, listening to Puertorricans that don’t have enough of a signal to make a phone call seek help and provide updates on the situation.  I have been using the information that I hear to help update a registry on the status of people on the island and update it to a database so that their friends and relatives in the mainland can know that they are safe while they wait for phones and internet to work again.  I have also been able to use my specialized skills to help mothers in Puerto Rico be able to breastfeed their infants during this emergency since they don’t have current access to formula or clean water to prepare it.

School was “different” for a few days while we cleanup the mess left behind by Hurricane Irma

It has been stressful, I have cried a lot, I don’t remember the last time that I had a good night’s sleep but at least I feel like I am doing SOMETHING to help.

During all of this, I have somehow managed to keep homeschooling.  We did take a few days off “formal” schooling during Hurricane Irma but learning never stopped.  My firstborn will now rather watch the Weather Channel than cartoons and he can give you a detailed lecture on how hurricanes are formed and what environmental variables determine their strength and trajectory.

We may not be covering all subjects every day but we are not falling behind on our books.  We are still using our products from the Critical Thinking Company but we have added some new players to the equation and are trying some new things.  I will go into more detail about that in the very next post, don’t worry, you won’t have to wait as long to find out!
Posted in Homeschooling

DIY Science Kit

There are so many cool experiment kits in the market that it’s easy to get carried away buying them all. They are great for the parent that doesn’t mind spending a bit more to get everything they’ll need in a neat little package. Alternatively, you can invest in a homeschool science lab kit for a lot of money but I don’t have that type of budget. For a while I would grab kits on clearance at Barnes and Noble or during Amazon lightning deals but the quality of many is plain horrible and you are limited on the experiments that can be done with them.

I had been drooling over the Magic School Bus Science kits for over 2 years but kept telling myself that I would just be paying a premium for licensing and pretty graphics so I decided to make my own kit.

Most of our experiment ideas come from blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, etc so I paid attention to the most common items in them and made a list. A lot of these items can be found at the dollar store.

Still due to the length of the list the cost does add up so I created our kit over a period of time, I started it back in 2015 and got some generous contributions from a friend and I still occasionally find something new to add.

I am 99% complete, still trying to find a cheap microscope that isn’t total junk but we have enough to do most experiments that we come across.  I have a couple of items not on the list but the items below will suffice for many elementary level science experiments.

My list:

  • 1-2 Clear Plastic Containers with Lid (quantity depends on size)
  • 4 Good Plastic Disposable cups
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Assorted Batteries 9 Volt, C, and D are the most used
  • Balloons
  • Beans
  • Bouncy Balls
  • Candles
  • Coffee filters
  • Corks
  • Cotton Balls
  • Disposable Plastic Gloves
  • Distilled Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Insulated Wire
  • Large Handkerchief
  • Lemon Juice
  • Magnet
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Marbles
  • Measuring Tape
  • Modeling Clay
  • Paper Towels
  • Pennies
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Protractor
  • Purple Glue Stick
  • Push tacks
  • Rubber bands
  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Stirring stick
  • Stop Watch
  • Straws
  • String
  • Tape
  • Test tubes
  • Thermometer- immersion
  • Thermometer- outdoor
  • White Vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Yard or metric stick
  • scale
  • safety goggles
  • basic microscope
  • basic telescope
  • droppers or pipettes
  • food coloring

What else is in your kit?