Thursday, July 22, 2010

Travel Kits

Our family loves to travel. Sometimes though, the traveling part can get a little trying. Long car rides or sitting in an airport waiting on a flight that is several hours delayed can make even the most patient person a bit irritable.

Recently I was asked to review an e-book (from The Old Schoolhouse) entitled Travel Kits-A Simple Way to Bless Others by Donna Rees. Donna gives a variety of ways to entertain the whole family while traveling. Whether your kit is for a toddler or a teen, a grad or a grandparent, she not only gives you gift ideas but clever ways to package them. Who ever thought of using an ice chest or a hat to store gifts? It certainly does make the presentation more exciting. Don't think this has to be expensive. Some of her kits contain dollar store toys, lollipops and even library books that can be returned after the trip. Items can be wrapped in pretty paper or simply in yesterday's newspaper. There are 14 chapters filled with ideas for any age-from babies to elderly-plus a bonus section full of links, recipes and more. For $12.45, it's a great deal! TOS provided me with this book to review. Though I received it for free, I have given an honest review in this post. To see more reviews on this same e-book, check out the Crew Blog.

I was so inspired after reading all the personal stories in Donna's book that I made my own box of blessings for my two girls going off to camp. I purchased $1.00 plastic storage boxes to hold a gift to open each day they're away. My girls were off to ballet camp for 2 weeks-dancing up to 5 hours a day. For their gifts I chose things like hair clips, a pretty water bottle, a mini first aid kit, Chap Stick and some little bags of candy. I also added stationary, cute little pens and a mini flashlight. I wrapped part of the gifts in some left over Valentine's paper; the others I wrapped in tissue paper. I used a favorite devotional to find Bible verses that I then printed out and tied on each gift with a ribbon. I included a Bible verse 'streamer' for them to decorate their dorm room with. In my case, I dated each gift. Certain items like the water bottle needed to be opened early on so they could use it at camp. Finally, I included a small card with a ballerina on the front and a personal message inside. My girls were thrilled and deeply touched to have a bit of home with them at camp.

God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). With Donna's book it makes it easy to be a cheerful giver…and traveler. You can find her book and a variety of other materials for mom and child at The Old Schoolhouse.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Online School Solutions

One of the many things I love about homeschooling is that there are so many options out there. In my 8 years of teaching the girls, we've used everything from basic textbooks/workbooks, a classical approach with living books and this year we'll be changing to an all computer based curriculum. One avenue we personally haven't explored is online schooling. Recently I read about an option in our area- The Keystone School. I was really surprised at what I learned. They offer the typical subjects and electives that you would expect from any 'school'. In addition to that they have certified teachers available for support, along with a learning coach and guidance counselor. For those hs parents who work or are just super busy, this would take a real load off of them.
The part I liked the best were the extras. I know that some homeschoolers can feel really alone at times. Keystone has an online social hour for the students to 'hang out'. They also have discussion boards and a newsletter. For those who travel often, as we do, they have a cultural experiences seminar where you can share your travel experiences. All of these things are available for the middle school students. The high school students have these options along with being able to join the National Honor Society, write for the newspaper and participate in a virtual graduation.
The one and only downside I saw was that it could be a bit pricey for some families. Besides that it really seems like a wonderful way for middle and high school students to receive an education and socialize while still being able to keep a very flexible schedule.