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Happy Birthday, M.K. Rawlings

August 8

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953).  the celebrated American author of The Yearling, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939. (edelweiss)

Although The Yearling is the most common of Rawlings work among home education curriculum sites, according to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society, Rawlings lead an interesting life in which she developed into her writing.

“It is so easy for me to live their life with them, that I am in some danger of losing all sophistication and perspective. I feel hurried sometimes, as though I must get `written out’ in this country within the next few years, because so much is no longer strange or unusual to me” (45). In this statement she is showing the strong empathy she developed for her Cracker friends which she would eventually convey to her fictional characters. Her vision would culminate in The Yearling, which powerfully evokes the scrub life she lived with the Fiddias and other scrub friends, including Cal Long and Barney Dillard, who taught her how to hunt and fish, identify plants and animals, and survive in the wild. In the 1930s and early 1940s, Rawlings would make use of this material and write her famous Cross Creek-area works Golden Apples (1935) and Cross Creek (1942) and her big scrub novels, South Moon Under (1933) and The Yearling (1938), the last of which won her the 1939 Pulitzer Prize and fans worldwide.  ~ Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society

The Yearling

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Recommended Reading Level:  RA: 3-A R: 6-A

Parent/Teacher: Advisory/Discussion Level

Recommended Curriculum/Literature Guides:

  • Veritas Press: Sixth Grade Literature
  • Ambleside Online: Year Pre-7
  • Total Language Plus: Study Guide Grades 8, 9, 10

Personal Notes:  I am intrigued by Rawlings history in Florida, and the writings that came from it.  Unfortunately, not many of these are considered Juvenile Fiction or Young Adult Fiction.  I recommend reading Cross Creek or The Sojourner to review their suitability.  There are a variety of Short Stories, Poetry and Letters if you would like to learn more about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

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Happy Birthday, Betsy Byars

August 7

Betsy Byars (1928-? )  Well loved children’s author who wrote many family themed books. “Making up stories and characters is so interesting that I’m never bored. Each book has been a different writing experience. It takes me about a year to write a book, but I spend another year thinking about it, polishing it, and making improvements. I always put something of myself into my books — something that happened to me. Once a wanderer came by my house and showed me how to brush my teeth with a cherry twig; that went in The House of Wings.” copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved. (

Betsy Byars is a Newbery Medal winner and a National Book Award winner. Her books have appeared on the best books lists of the American Library Association, School Library Journal, and American Bookseller, among others. (

Multiple Biographies – LibraryPoint   Autobiography

Many of Betsy Byars’ titles have been in print for some time.  I recommend searching through her Author page on your favorite book/ebook site.  See below for just a handful of Byars’ books, great for the whole family.  RA: K-A  R: 3-6

Tornado is included within the Sonlight Grade 3 Readers list, and Heart of Dakota’s Emerging Reader Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and Bigger Hearts for His Glory.

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Happy Birthday, Barbara Cooney!

August 6

photo found on pinterest

Barbara Cooney (1917-2000) was a renowned children’s book author and illustrator who published more than 100 books. Born in Brooklyn, NY, she lived much of her life in Maine and focused often on the culture and landscape of that state, and her artistic style portrayed a rural New England full of peaceful tranquility. A two-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, she was the recipient of countless other honors and distinctions, and was declared a “Living Treasure of the State of Maine” in 1996. She once said, “Of all the books I have done, Miss Rumphius, Island Boy, and Hattie and the Wild Waves are the closest to my heart. These three are as near as I will ever come to an autobiography.” (

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Notes: Cooney’s illustrations became an integral part of telling the story in classic children’s picture books.  Folktales and fables, and few original works by Barbara Cooney create an extensive read-aloud, reading library for any family.  RA: K-A  R: K-A

  • Miss Rumphius (written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney) AmblesideOnline Aux
  • Island Boy (written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney) AmblesideOnline Aux
  • Eleanor (written and illustrated by Barbara Cooney)
  • Roxaboxen (illustrated by Barbara Cooney) Five In a Row: Volume 4 Literature
  • Chaucer’s Chanticleer and the Fox (illustrated by Barbara Cooney) AmblesideOnline Yr 2; Veritas Press: Easy History Readers 4th grade
  • Ox-Cart Man (illustrated by Barbara Cooney) AmblesideOnline Yr 0



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Happy Birthday, Herman Melville!

August 1

Herman Melville (1819-1891), born August 1, found early success with stories inspired by his adventures in the South Seas. His fortunes declined with the 1851 publication of Moby-Dick, now recognized as a masterpiece but scorned by Melville’s contemporaries. The author was obliged to work as a New York City customs inspector and died in obscurity, three decades before the critical reassessment of his work. (  In addition, Melville published additional works of poetry; his first on the Civil War, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War.

[showbookcover isbn=”9780142437247″ display=”excerpt” align=”right” width=”200″ action=”bookview”]


(click image to see more information) 

Recommended Reading Level: R: Grades 9+ RA: Grades 8+ For younger ages, try the Dover Thrift Edition.

Parent/Teacher: Advisory/Discussion Level

Recommended Curriculum/Literature Guides:

  • Sonlight: American Literature Core 400
  • Veritas Press: Omnibus VI 1st Semester Primary Reading
  • Ambleside Online: Year 10
  • Literature Guide: Sparknotes available


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Information on Speech and Debate

via Speech and Debate for High School | texashach4homeschool

Wanted to share information on Speech and Debate.  You can see my entire post by clicking the link above.

Many times I get asked what is required for High School.  If your child/student is in 8th or 9th grade, you want to have a general idea of what they want to do.  Will they go to college?  Into what interest/degree area are they leaning?  Do they have a college they want to go to?  Are they interested in Dual Credit college courses? of these answers are important so that you can plan their High School education.  In general, the state education agency has a list of required classes needed for graduation.  The state may also have a list of requirements for homeschool families.  Once you have a list of these courses, you can start to investigate your student’s college and major interests, and their corresponding degree plans.  For example, my son is interested in a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics at University of Texas at Dallas.  In order to plan his dual credit courses at the community college, I printed the required courses for the degree plan.  Believe it or not, English credit was not required.  So I can plan to have him complete his last credit (of 4 total) of English either at home or through the college.

One credit that is required for High School is a semester credit of Speech.  For UT-D, they require a Rhetoric credit, which appears to be a step above a Speech credit.  As my son is not a confident public speaker, I have been researching options for completing this credit at home or through co-op.  If you have a student that might excel in this area, you may be interested in Speech and Debate clubs.

To help with this topic, there is a great article through Great Homeschool Conventions on the 8 Benefits of Speech and Debate/Why Speech and Debate by Suzanne in 2015.

  1.  If you would like to complete a Speech curriculum at home, I recommend starting with Rick Green‘s Power of Purposeful Communication.  You can get the Combo Pack as well which includes his Living with Purpose. (I do not receive any commission for this recommendation.)
  2. Check your local homeschool group for Speech co-op classes and/or clubs.  In North Texas, we have DFW Speech and Debate that offers Summer Camps and Clubs It is important to investigate what is available in your area, as they have early registration deadlines in order to participate in the next year.
  3. In addition, the NMA (the Leadership Development Organization) produces a Leadership Speech Contest every year with monetary prizes.  The NMA has local Chapters and Councils that can assist you in getting connected.  They have their local contests in early Spring, so usually deadlines to participate are in January or early February.  Winners can then go on to compete nationally, fully supported by the NMA.  In North Texas, you can e-mail our local contacts: Jean Christopher or the Nokia Speech Contest Chair Peter Burns.
  4. Check out your local homeschool convention (This Crazy Homeschool Life 2018 List).  Many times, they have a Leadership or Speech and Debate group for the weekend that works with high school students.  It’s a great opportunity to discover talents and skills, as well as looking great on the high school resume!
  5. As mentioned above, registering for the Speech course through the local community college, is a great way to get High School and College credit simultaneously.

Sound Speech Student Text

I would like to recommend Bob Jones Sound Speech.  This text has been successfully used in our co-op for a Speech class.  They currently do not have it available on a streaming class.

A Beka Books also has a Speech for Today (Amazon Associate link to used titles) course that is available on their streaming list.



If you have suggestions for Speech and Debate opportunities, please feel free make recommendations in the Comments section.  Thanks so much!


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Homeschooling for High School: PSAT

“What do you recommend?” is a question I get all the time. And my standard response will always be, “It depends on your family lifestyle, learning styles of your students, and your homeschool goals.” As per my Full Disclosure, the following is based on my own personal experiences and will not always produce the same results. I highly recommend you seek your local support group as well to assist you.


In my previous post “Homeschooling for High School: Preparing,” (here) I encouraged parents to begin planning and preparing for High School at the 7th and 8th grades.  College Exams like the PSAT, SAT, AP and CLEP should also be a part of the plan.

October is PSAT Test-taking time.  Although considered the precursor to the SAT, the PSAT is extremely important, and not to be missed.  As it is offered only ONCE A YEAR, this test can easily be missed.  2017 dates are October 11 (Primary) and October 14 (Saturday).

PSAT Options

Taking the PSAT helps to prepare students for taking the SAT.  Although developed in similar manners, the PSAT has been adjusted for grade-level.  In the last couple of years, two (2) additional PSAT options were introduced.

  • PSAT 8/9 – the PSAT 8/9 now has testing dates in the Fall and Spring.

The PSAT 8/9 tests the same skills and knowledge as the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10—in a way that makes sense for eighth and ninth graders. It measures what they’re already learning, shows them whether they’re on track for college, and lets them know where they need the most improvement. That means students have time to tackle these areas long before they take the SAT.

Source: PSAT 8/9 Educator Overview | SAT Suite of Assessments – The College Board

  • PSAT 10 – the PSAT 10 is similar to the PSAT 8/9, but has adjusted for tenth graders.  By providing additional practice, and relevant scores, the PSAT 10 can help students prepare for taking the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT.
  • PSAT/NMSQT – I’ve always been told the PSAT/NMSQT is most relevant for 11th graders to be eligible for the National Merit Scholar awards.  It is critical to be prepared to take this test, many scholarships come from the performance of this test.
    • Who: 11th- and 10th-graders
    • Where: At school (public or private)
    • When: Wednesday, October 11, 2017. Other options are Saturday, October 14 and Wednesday, October 25. (view PSAT/NMSQT calendar)
    • Scholarships: Used by scholarship programs, including the National Merit® Scholarship Program, to look for eligible students.

Source: Taking the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 | SAT Suite of Assessments – The College Board


As the site says, “To sign up for the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 just get in touch with a local school.”  Most public schools will be offering the test for their students, and usually, they will have a handful of spots for taking the test.  I also recommend contacting your local Private Schools.

To find a school near you, use the College Board’s School Search form.

Practice and Prepare – and Practice again

Practice, Practice, Practice!  Practice tests and preparation materials are available from the schools and  While there, take the time to create a Log-In for College Board.  You will be using this log-in to register for the SAT tests, have scores sent to schools, and to view scores.  Another perk of registering, you can use the Khan Academy SAT app.  Your student can sign up to review a question each day, take a practice SAT test, scan it, and receive immediate feedback.

If additional practice is needed, Kaplan and Princeton Review have test centers in and around metropolis areas.  They offer test preparation classes, as well as SAT practice tests.

*I believe any of the SAT practice tests will help to prepare for the PSAT as well.


  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store.  They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families year round!  They may be connected to a local co-op or support group that can provide SAT and PSAT preparatory classes and seminars
  • Shop the publishers directly!  College Prep Genius has a great study program for mastering the SAT.
  • For the out-of-print, and hard to find pieces, I’m including Amazon pictures and linksBy clicking links into Amazon Marketplace, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase.  It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction.

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*Not all materials are the same, and there are no guarantees of high scores or scholarships.  Again I say, Practice, Practice, Practice.

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Homeschooling for High School: Preparing

“What do you recommend?” is a question I get all the time. And my standard response will always be, “It depends on your family lifestyle, learning styles of your students, and your homeschool goals.” As per my Full Disclosure, the following is based on my own personal experiences and will not always produce the same results. I highly recommend you seek your local support group as well to assist you.

High School planning should begin about the 7th or 8th grade.  As requirements for graduation are varied for each state, and college admissions are as varied as the colleges themselves, research and planning should begin early.

When your student is in the 7th or 8th grade, you will want to make decisions regarding whether your student will be going to Dual Credit classes, what classes you want to complete before graduation, and look at the pre-requisites and requirements for accomplishing your High School goals.

Source 1 –

A great place to start is high school seminars through your local homeschool groups in your area.  To find one, begin with your State Homeschool Support Association.  Generally, they will have a list of homeschool groups by area.  I highly recommend joining your state organization, as they are one line in defending your home school rights.  Home School Legal Defense Association is the first line of defense, and you can learn about them at

Our local homeschool group, Christian Educators Resource Center, provides a Homeschooling? How? Seminar, followed by a Homeschool High School DNA workshop.  We offer these free at our facility, and sometimes through the local library.

Source 2 –

Homeschool Bookfairs are a great place to gather tons of information on homeschooling, dual credit, SAT/PSAT test taking, and many other topics.  Although they only come around once a year, the homeschool bookfair can help you decide which planning products will help you get organized for high school homeschool.

Source 3 –

My favorite thing in the whole world is a Planner.  Something to keep my crazy, chaotic world organized.  Planning and organizing for homeschooling a high school student, as well as preparing for college, requires tools.  I have two (2) favorites right now, Jean and Judah Burk’s Home School Prep Genius (College Prep Genius); and Glenda Durano’s The Christian’s Guide to College Admissions (Junior and Senior Editions).  Each of them provide guidance and steps for preparing for College.

A good planner will not only help you keep ahead of all that needs to be done, but will also provide a place to keep your high school records.  A simple search for “home school high school transcript” will provide you with many different links to tools for creating report cards, high school transcripts, and high school resumes.

  • has been one of my favorite sites for documents.
  • has a variety of downloadable documents and planning tools.
  • has transcript templates, as a variety of other homeschool documents.



  • Shop Local! – As a bookstore manager myself, I highly recommend shopping your local homeschool resource store.  They work really hard to be there for their homeschool families year round!  They can help you find the best curriculum for each of your children.   If you have trouble finding one in your area, let me know!
  • Shop the publishers directly!  These publishers put much energy into creating great homeschool resources,  so I recommend shopping their web-sites:
  • For the out-of-print, and hard to find pieces, I’m including Amazon pictures and linksBy clicking links into Amazon Marketplace, I do earn a small commission based on your purchase.  It doesn’t change the listed price, it just supports my glorious book addiction.

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