I took the girls to see Santa this weekend. We held off of other Santa events so that they could go with their cousin. This was the first time their little cousin got to Visit Santa. It was a special moment the look on her face when he came in and said HO HO HO was priceless. I wish I had gotten a picture of it. Along with getting to see Santa they got to make reindeer food, and Gift for a parent. I had to close my eyes while they built it.
Yesterday was the first day I've had a chance to get into the shop and do some serious work. We pulled the cab and bed off the 53 so that I could weld in some major components of the build. We used the gantry crane to make lifting the cab off easier and safer than trying to carry it with just two people. We now have it set up on blocks and jack stands so that its safe and secure. Its also blocked up so I can get in and do some finish welding and body work. The bed has been disassembled for media blasting and body work. It has one small dent on the rail that needs to be pulled out with a couple studs and the puller. The frame is coming along, we are at the point where I can finish up some welding and we can get it sand blasted and painted.
I had two major components to get welded the motor mounts and the transmission cross member that we modified to fit the new LS1 engine. We originally bought a set of dirty dingo engine mounts for a LS1 we were told these particular ones fit the frame of a 53. Turns out that they don't fit and instead of spending more money on something different I simply used my welding abilities and a chop saw and made them work. In this hobby its all about modification. So here are the lower engine mounts and the modified transmission cross member. This is the stock transmission cross member. It needed to be doped a couple inches to work with the new transmission. The original is made of a box tubing. I used the chop saw to cut out a section that was just deep enough to lower the transmission the correct amount. Then I used some heavy plate to box in the area that I cut out. I bolted it back in the frame and welded up the modifications.
This is the back wall of the shop we have added a few more signs and posters to the wall. Its really starting to look good. We still have room for a few more Led signs.
This is Mary Lou the 48 she is getting a new front end and a rear end upgrade. Every girls dream right.
Back at the beginning of fall I talked about me and the girls marking maple trees. Our hole jungle adventure was for this review. We discovered a company called Tap My Trees if you have maple trees on your property you are going to want to check them out. Tap My Trees is a company that offers maple sugaring supplies. They have books on how to get started. They have kits with everything you need to tap your first maple tree. They even offer pictures and directions on how to identify different types of maple trees. This is our winter science project so you will see a few post on it between now and the time the sap stops flowing. Maple Sugaring is a science experiment that taste yummy.
The basic idea of sugaring is turning sap into a yummy syrup you can eat. You must do this during a specific time of year. The night time temperatures must be below 32 degrees and the day time temperatures must be above 32 degrees. Sap generally flows for around 4-6 weeks. You drill a hole in a Maple tree (you can tap several varieties of trees) In this hole you insert a spile and hang a bucket from it to collect the sap. The sap will run out of the tree into the bucket once you collect a large amount of sap it must be boiled down. Sap has a lot of water in it and you must remove this extra water from the sugary part of the sap.
3 Aluminum 2 gallon buckets to collect the sap as it drips from the spile.
3 metal lids to prevent leaves and bugs from falling into your sap once it has left the tree.
3 spiles or taps that you put into the tree so that the sap may exit the tree into your bucket.
3 hooks so that you can hang the bucket from the spile.
1 drill bit that is 7/16 so that you can drill the perfect size hole for your spile
Cheesecloth: for filtering any solids you use this when you transfer your sap to the storage container.
1 Maple Sugaring at Home book: this little gem tells you everything you need to know including identifying maple trees and how to boil down the sap to turn it into maple sugar.
It has almost everything you need to get started. It has enough buckets and spiles to tap three trees. In addition to the kit you will need a cordless drill and some clean empty food safe jugs to put the sap in when your buckets need to be emptied. You will also need a large pan to boil your sap down in. You will want to boil the sap down out side. Boiling the sap produces a large amount of moisture and it can peel the wall paper off your walls. So its best to do it out side.
The weather is not quite right for tapping trees yet but I want everyone to say tuned because me and the girls will be documenting our sugaring experiment as soon as the weather is right to begin tapping our trees.
I am very pleased with the kit from Tap My Trees. The buckets are nice and heavy, and they came with lids to help keep leaves etc out. I also love that it includes the correct size drill bit for the spiles. I never can find the bit I need and I spend 20 minute digging in my giant bucket of bits looking for the right one. The Maple Sugaring at Home book is great! It helped us to identify the correct trees easily. It also has great directions for tapping the trees and it leaves nothing to be confused about. It is really a great book to have around if you are going to try maple sugaring. Just about everything in the kits is reusable for years and years as long you take care of it. The only thing you might need to replace is the cheese cloth and after a while the drill bit as those do get dull after a while. Both things are affordable and easily replaced when needed.
The only thing I think is missing from the kit is bottles, to bottle you syrup after you have boiled it. We are planning on processing it in mason jars.
Now we wait for sugar snow. For us that's typically mid January to late February. Stay Tuned to Updates!
For some reason after my my grandma passed away my girls begun to see sun sets in a new way. They would look out the window and declare "Grandma is painting something beautiful for us tonight" I think in a way it helped them cope with the loss of someone they loved so dearly.
She must be thinking of us again tonight. Hear is the start of another beautiful painting.
What do you do when Thanksgiving Dinner is over ? Make apple butter of course. I know we are a crazy bunch. A sweet friend of ours donated 40lbs of apples in exchange for a couple jars of our apple butter. After we cleaned up form Thanksgiving dinner and everyone went home. Me and the girls decided we might as well get started. It took us about 30 minutes to peel core and slice all the apples. This is how we did it.
40 lbs of peeled sliced and cored apples takes up two big stock pots. We put them on the stove with some various spices and what not. Then we let it begin to cook down. Takes around an hour give or take a little.
Then you combine them into one pot. Blend it with the immersion blender thingie. Then you have to let it cook some more. I know its thick enough when my spoon stands in the pot.
Look at all those clean jars just waiting to be filled. Ok they had to be heated in the oven before they could be filled but you get the point.
Ta Da 40 lbs of apples turned into 24 beautiful jars of homemade apple butter. Its all sealed and waiting for us to eat this winter. We will share this bounty with my sisters and the sweet friend of ours that donated the apples. I think its a good trade off for a few jars of apple butter.
Like me, my oldest struggles with multiplication tables. She has been working on them for months now and cant seem to get past her 3's. I discovered Times Tales on accident I was surfing the internet looking for something that might help her. I came across it in a google search and though that's a new idea and started checking it out. I emailed and ask about doing a review and they said sure. I received the digital download version of Times Tales you can go here to the exact product http://www.timestales.com/TTDOWNLoadPage.html. It is currently $19.95 and you can download it right away. I love downloads because well I'm just not good at waiting for things.
Times Tales uses simple fun stories to give your child a "memory peg" that allows them to quickly recall abstract facts. It comes in 5 parts. There are 2 Video files, and 3 PDF files that you download. The PDF files have test, crossword puzzles, flash cards and cube game. The video files are the lessons that your kids watch to help them learn their times tables. We see them more as stories than lessons. In this program times tables are taught in story format instead of the standard hear they are memorize them. They have given the numbers fun names and characters. Then they teach a little story to help you remember each times table. The program covers 3x6, 3x7, 3x8, 3x9, 4x6, 4x7, 4x8, 4x9, 6x6 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 7x7, 7x8, 7x9, 8x8, 9x9. Basically all the really hard ones that I never got memorized when I was in school.
I had hotrod girl start with video 1 she really enjoyed the video I didn't hear one single complaint about having to watch it. When she was done she came in telling me all these silly stories. I ask her show me and explain each story. I have found that having her explain things back to me really helps her. She took me in and showed me the number characters and explained the story that went with each one. I gave her the practice test that came in the PDF file. I had her do each problem and tell me the story as she was doing it. She was able to point to the problems on the practice test and tell me the story that went with the problems. I was blown away after watching it just one time she was already starting to remember some of them. She got hung up on a couple but I am sure a another time or two watching the lesson and a little more practice with the games and flash cards and she will have them down.
I love the combination of visual and audio learning. The stories make them easy to remember. I couldn't believe that she is already remembering the stories after watching it one time. I keep thinking why didn't anyone think of this when I was a kid. It covers all the upper multiplication tables which are the hardest ones to learn. It has some flash cards to practice with and a practice test and then a Test. It also has a dice game that you get to put together your self and a set of instructions on how to play. Its fun and it really does help with remembering them. They recommend you take a week between part 1 and 2 of the video lessons. During this time you should use the flash cards and games to practice. The dice game was her favorite by far. I would like you to check out the sample video below that gives you a great idea of what the lesson are like.
Over all we love the program its fun and it really does help. We are still watching the lessons and practicing but its helped Hotrod girl a bunch she is now doing way better with those upper times tables. I think its well worth the reasonable price tag and I hope you will give it a try too.
This is it the official end of the 2015 Review Crew. We have all voted for our favorites and if you click the banner above you can view all the amazing winners and you can read post from fellow crew members about how they voted.
Me and the girls really struggled with who to vote for this year we loved so many of the products we reviewed. I think all of our favorites were winners this year. Though I don't think we really had anything that wasn't a favorite we even drew names out of a hat for two categories because we just couldn't decided.
Hear are the Winners, click the links to read my reviews and other crew members reviews!
Congratulation's to all of this years Blue Ribbon Award winners!
What do you do with two kids that hate shoes. I guess I might have been a little lax this summer about making them put on shoes when they went out side. The yard where they play is grassy and I really wasn't all that concerned about it. But now its and its now a bit to cold to be running a muck bare foot. I have now started requiring them to wear boots and socks before heading out doors. They were disgruntled by this but accepted that they must. But then we got some rain and I informed them they could not go out to play in it because it was too cold to be all wet. I got called a meanie ! a meanie can you believe it my near to prefect little girls said I was a meanie. What's a mom to do in this type of situation....... then I had the brilliant idea buy them Rain gear so they can play in the rain and not get wet that's what. I am now Super Mom fixer of all problems! Gotta love it when it works out that way.
Its officially getting cold in our neck of the woods. We fired up the outdoor wood furnace this week. With winter comes the clearing of brush and the trimming of trees and bushes. The girls are getting excited about tapping the maple trees. This winter we will be building a bigger garden bed out of rock collected from the local landscape (aka the hill behind the house). Our current raised beds are made from recycled boards and there just is not enough room to grow everything that me and the girls want to grow. So this winter we will start expanding. Me and the girls will collect rock and build a stacked rock garden bed. It will most likely take all winter to get enough rock to make the bed. But once its done I think It will work quite well. This will be our first experience building a rock structure with out mortar. If you have any tips we would love to hear them.
I am sad to say this is my final Crew Review for 2015. I am how ever proud to announce that its a great product from GrapeVine Studies~https://GrapeVineStudies.com. Me and the girls have been working with the Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob. We received the digital download for this book. It comes with a teachers edition and a student work book. The student workbook is around 73 pages and it contains 12 lessons. Its basically a chronological study of the characters and events of the Old Testament from Creation to Jacob and get this you use stick figures to do it. Cool Right! Stick Figures are right up my alley. I cant draw a lick. By the end of the level your kids should be able to recite around 10 memory verses and draw the beginning of the Old Testament timeline.
The teachers book is great it covers both level 1 and 2. Its very easy to teach from and its well laid out. It gives you some teachers goals and student goals to strive for. It even has little pictures so you can see what your kids should be drawing. The teachers book does have some color what you read to the kids is in green. The stick people are also colored so that you can tell the kids which color to use when they are drawing. I don't have a colored printer so I emailed GrapeVine Studies and ask if it was OK for me to just save the file to my Ipad and use it from there. They said that was fine, and it has worked out really well for me. I printed out the girls work books and put them in a three ring binder. Its simple and works well for us and I can file it away when they are done.
The Student work book starts out with a Timeline. We had so much fun doing the drawings. Although I think the girls figures were much better than mine. The girls were already a little familiar with this portion of the bible as they had covered it in Sunday school a few weeks ago. How ever they said GVS (that's what the girls call it) was way way better, they actually ask if the Sunday school teacher could get it for class. Each lesson has drawing pages for the student to do. Then it has lesson review questions, a student drawing page where they can draw their favorite part of the lesson and an area to write a verse. At the end of the lessons there is a timeline review and a memory verse review.
The lessons have been taking us around 20 minutes or so. We do them about three days a week. The girls like to take their time drawing the pictures. You can see a sample of one of the girls timeline drawings on the left. As you can see they are fairly simple drawings to make. Which is perfect so that the younger kids can work in the same lessons as ones that are a few years older. This is a big time saver for me since I only need to teach bible study once that day and I don't have to plan a separate lesson for the other child. Although we did not use it GrapeVine also offers a traceable version of this student book. Which would be perfect for kinder and pre-k kids.
I have really enjoyed the simplicity of teaching this Bible study. The teachers book makes teaching the lessons flow smoothly. For the age range of this level 1 book I feel that it covers this part of the Old Testament nicely. Its not over their heads and yet it give a fair amount of information. The girls are so excited to hear the lesson and do the drawings that it has been a real pleasure to use. If you take a look at the image below you can get an idea of the different levels and age groups they are designed for. I am looking forward to trying out the next level.
We have been eating our science homework. Really we have! If you don't believe me check out Ann McCallum Booksathttp://AnnMcCallumBooks.com/. Me and the girls have been having so much fun with the Eat Your Science Homeworkbook. The book sells for about $16.95. Its basically a book packed with edible science projects that help you kids under stand science in a hole new way. With this book me and the girls turned out kitchen into a laboratory and our food became our science experiments. Cool Right! Well we though so.
The girls have enjoyed all the experiments in the book and we have done most of them. The Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna was just there favorite so I decided to show it off for the review.
The girls also happened to be learning about the earth when this book came in. We had just started a unit on rocks and how they are formed. To be honest the girls were a little board with my explanations and pictures. So I brought out the Eat your Science Homework book. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna. I though what could be more perfect! I of course handed the book off to the girls. They did some reading discovered the recipe and we got to work. I set out the ingredients for them and let them go at it. While they were working I took the chance to go over the lesson that was in the book adding to it and explaining further where I thought I might need to. It was a huge hit and the girls made this wonderful pizza Lasagna to demonstrate how sediment is made. It was a blast and they made a huge mess but the lesson stuck. Its been well over a month since we made Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna and the girls still remember the lesson.
We have actually made it for dinner a few times since it was so yummy. Each time they make it they tell me how everything starts out as separate layers and then as heat and pressure are applied they begin to melt and mix together. We recently did some digging in the back yard and the girls found some sedimentary rock and came to PoP to explain how it was made.
The book its self gives a lesson then an experiment made of food. Everything you make is edible. We had most of the ingredients already in the house. You can also download a teachers guide from the website. I found it to be a great bonus to the Eat your Science Homework book. Its got some great tips and bonus lessons the go with the Eat Your Science Homework book. The pictures in the Eat Your Science Homework book are great. I wish I could draw that good. The lessons in the book are wonderful. They had just the right amount of details for the girls age levels and they were fun at the same time. The girls understood exactly what it was telling them the first time. I probably could have done with out all the extra explaining because the lesson did such a good job. The book also has a great glossary in the back. The girls have been learning to use one so this was a great find. The book also includes a safety in the Lab section that has kitchen safety rules. A science review area and an index. The girls have had so much fun with Eat Your Science Homework they want all the other Eat Your Homework books. Be sure to click the banner below and check out all the other Ann McCallum Books.
Today I want to tell you about Brinkman Adventure~ http://www.BrinkmanAdventures.com. Me and the girls got our first experience with an audio adventure. We were sent The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3. The girls were not sure what to expect with this one they had never even heard of an audio adventure. I how ever remember my parents talking about the old radio shows when they were kids. I have even heard a few of the old recordings so I knew what to expect. We dropped into The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3. Season 3 covers episodes 25-36. It contains 4 Cd's and 5 hours of audio adventures. In this season the Brikman family returns to tell more missionary stories and adventures. Everything from smuggling bibles into a country where they are illegal, to being threatened by wolves. They travel all over the world from Ecuador to Kashmir, Alaska even Africa. The Brinkman Adventures are based on a real live family. The names have been changed but the actors and actresses play themselves. Many of the events are based on real events that have been embellished a smidgen. The Missionary stories that are told are based on real Missionaries from around the world and their experiences while doing their work.
I was a little worried the program would be confusing since we were dropping into season 3. But it was very easy to follow and it was exciting. The first time we played it was in the car. It takes us an hour to get into town what better time to hear an audio adventure right. Basically the kids couldn't get away from me and they would have to give it a chance. At first the girls were like mom what is this. I made them be quiet and listen for a little bit, soon they were drawn in to the story. When we got home they kept asking what happened next. I made them wait for the next trip into town. Soon the girls were asking to go places just to hear what was happening next. We have been listen to the adventures a few times a week when we need to go some place.The car is proving to be the best place for us to listen and really take in the lessons and the stories. We often pause the Cd so that we can talk about things that happened to the Brikmans.
The quality of the audio recordings is very good. The voices are clear and easy to understand. They use such expression and feeling when telling the adventures that it pulls you in and makes you feel as though the wolves are really chasing you. In a world of overstimulated kids. The audio adventures are something unique to experience. It requires the listener to turn on there imagination. There are no pictures to look at there is no video. Just an exciting story told by an amazing family. By leaving out the visual aspect the girls turned to their imagination to create the image of what was happening in the story. I have taken the experience to the next level by asking the girls to listen to an episode and then draw what came to mind while they were listening.
We have really enjoyed Brinkman Adventures Season 3. I would love to get some of the earlier episodes so we can catch up on what happened before season 3. Everyone should click the link below and see what the other Crew members are saying about The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3.
I am a sucker for a cute Bible, I have a hole collection of Bibles actually. Now that the girls are getting older I have been looking at bibles for them. A few weeks a go I got the opportunity to check out a new bible designed for the tween aged girl. Its called Faithgirlz Bible its another great zondervan product. You can find it here http://www.zondervan.com/faithgirlz-bible-niv. It sells for about $39.99 and it is a complete NIV bible.
The unique thing about this bible is the cool cover. Its shiny for one thing, it has that adorable owl on the cover and get this its got a magnetic closure. I love the magnetic flap it just sticks shut and they don't risk wrinkling up the pages. Because lets face it kids are not gentle and they have a tendency to toss there books into their backpacks. Its got some great features inside to help them understand themselves and the the scripture a bit better. The in-text features are written by Nancy Rue.
Some of my favorite Features are:
Book introductions: this tells you the who what and why of each book.
Bring it On!: are quizzes to help them with their understanding.
Words to live by: are verses that are perfect for memorizing.
Oh I Get it: is the feature that helps you answer all those questions you have always had.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this bible in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. no was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own or that of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
Hotrod Girl is trying out a new computer based learning program, The vendor is Standard Deviants Accelerate and we were given access to there Homeschool Courses for a year we will be using the arithmetic class.You can check it out athttp://www.SDAccelerate.com/. I hadn't heard of this one tell it came up for review on the crew. It is a video rich online learning system. It has different classes for grades 3 to 11. Standard Deviants Accelerate or SDA as Hotrod girls is calling it. Is an accelerated learning program that uses accelerated learning techniques to help a child learn at a faster rate. I am going to recommend you visit the site and read about the accelerated learning technique as they explain how it works far better than I ever could.
What I can tell you is how well it is working for Hotrod girl. She is only in third grade so most of the classes were above her level. But we got to try out one of the math classes. She struggles a bit with math and I am always eager to try something new. For us accelerated learning is a new concept and I though it might help her out.
I had a bit of trouble getting started with the program. I used my account to enrolled her in the arithmetic class, but I didn't realize that I had to give her a separate log in with her own email. Once I figured that out with some great help from customer service we were ready to go. (customer service is very fast) I started her on the arithmetic class which is geared for grades 3+ or ages 6 and up. It is designed to teach children all the basics of math so that they have a solid foundation to move on to the next level.
She logs in on her own, I have the email and password she needs to use written down for her. One she logs in it shows the classes that she is enrolled in, for her it just shows arithmetic. She clicks on the class and down below it, it shows a list of the areas that she need to complete. I had her start with addition/subtraction and area she was already comfortable with. Since we are trying to build up her math confidence, I wanted her to start with something I knew she would do well with. So she would look to where is says addition/subtraction then it gives her lessons below it ending with a review/quiz. Once she clicks on a lesson it gives her a video lesson. Then it offers some other selections across the top. There is a vocabulary tab with all the vocab used and the definitions, A diagram area which is like practice problems. There is a Quiz tab and an written answer tab. We have not used the written answers tab yet. The vocabulary has been very handy for her to use as a reference point.
She says she likes the videos and that they are easier to understand. She also likes that they are short and to the point. I like that when she takes the quiz for that lesson if she gets one wrong a little arrow pops up that says see video. She can click this arrow and a video opens to show her how to do the problem correctly. It also gives her the option to re-take the quiz and print the quiz. I love that the program is showing her how to do it correctly and not leaving her to figure it out on her own. Its a big help when I am working with snoopy so that she doesn't have to completely stop working to wait for me to come help her. It gives her the opportunity to try listening to the explanation again then if she is still having trouble she gets me and we work through it together.
For teachers there is an administrative tool box where you can view grades, grade written assignments, edit the rubric, and see progress reports. The progress reports were a little tricky to get at first. It showed me a a pie graph of sorts broken down into different areas: subject review, act it out, written responses and text/quizzes. You click one of these areas and it brings up the child's grading for each area. We mostly just use the text/quiz area it shows the class the lesson weather it was quiz a pre-test or post-test and then the actual grade for the test/quiz. Of course everything is printable which is great for portfolios.
While SDA arithmetic is a good program and she likes the explanations and GETS them. We are having to supplement some because it just doesn't give her quite enough practice. I can see the other classes being great for middle to high school students.
Some of the other Crew members used different classes in SDA and I really want to encourage everyone to check out what they have to say about them. It will give you a great idea how the classes we were unable to try work.
Presenting the The Ultimate Homeschool Plannerfrom Apologia Educational Ministries ~ http://www.Apologia.com/. I started home schooling about 4 years a go. Since that very first day I have been on the constant look out for the perfect homeschool planner. I have decided that there probably is not any one perfect planner. That is because every family needs get something different out of there planner, but thankfully there are options. For me the Ultimate Homeschool Planner is one of the best non computer based options that I have found. Right now it sells for $29.00 comes in different colors, Yellow, Orange, and Blue. I received the blue one for my review which just so happens to be my favorite color.
The Ultimate Homeschool Planner is a 52 week planner that allows you to plan for up to 6 children in one neat spiral bound book. It includes a whole host of features so I am just going to list my favorites for you:
Spiral bound construction with coated covers and pockets.
Plans up to 6 children with 6 years of calendar planning.
Resource List pages.
Student Goal setter pages and character goals page for each child.
Pages to Record grades for up to 6 children for 6 subjects.
Reading list pages for up to 6 children
Field trip and activity Grid
Wide margins for notes and prayers
Ability to organize activities and lessons for up to 6 children by day or subject
Scriptures for thinking on (I need these they help to remind me of the important things.)
Directions on how to use the thing (yes I actually needed these directions I know I'm a dork)
I actually read the directions on using this planner. When it first came in it was so thick it felt a little overwhelming. So I just started with the directions on how to use it. Turns out the planner is rather simple to use. The directions how ever were easy to understand and got me going with it quickly. I like it when something comes with easy to understand directions.
I will probably never get around to using all the features of this planner. But I am using a good portion of it to help me get started with planning the next school year. Right now I am using the resources list. Its basically a place to list all the resources you will be using. I am using it to get together a list of our main curriculum's for the new year. This is a huge help I tend to write them down on little scraps of paper then loose them before the year is over. Now they are all in one place and I can add and change them as needed, I recommend writing in pencil. The weekly planning grid is where I will be keeping all of the girls daily assignments and how long they spend on each class. The grids are big enough for me to be able to write all there assignments in for the day. There is also a side area for notes supplies and appointments. I am using this note area to total the amount of time the girls spend on lessons each day. That way at the end of the week I can just add them up quickly and carry the total over to the next week. I also love the inspirational verse at the bottom of the pages. At the end of each week there is a memorable moments/achievements and a Evidence of Grace section. This is where you can make notes of the kids achievements or document things they have done for others etc. I like to write down little notes, like when Hotrod girl finally mastered her 2's in multiplication or when Snoopy made it to another reading level. I am using the monthly planner for writing down things like Dr. appointments, Field trips and co-op days etc. It also has a little notes section along the side and bottom, and it has a bible verse at the bottom right. The months and dates are left blank so that you can fill them in with the months and years that you need. Since ever homeschooler starts there school year at a different time the blank calender's are a big bonus. I don't have six blank months at the beginning of my planner. My planner starts with July 1 instead of January 1. I don't usually have much to write down in this section but it is handy to have just as a calendar of your school year. It is also nice to have a place to mark down your scheduled holidays and or vacation days. The Records section is a big area for me. The one in this planner does several things that are useful to just about anyone. I am required to keep a record of how many hours they spend in school each year and I also need a way to show progress. I do this by keeping grades for each class the girls take and noting how much time we spend on each class. The records section has a place for grades so this is where I write down the actual grade they are getting in each class. The record keeping section also has a place for a reading list and field trips or outside activities. We do lots of field trips so I like to be able to keep track of where we went and when. I love a good reading list, we read lots of books from the library so this is super handy to document what books we have checked out and read for the year. Many planners leave out the Reading List and for us this is important and a huge plus. Hotrod girl now does more writing in the reading list area than I do. She has discovered that she like keeping track of how many books we have read for the year. I have been trying to decide what my favorite feature of the planner is. Its been a tough decision but I think my favorite feature is that I can keep track of both girls in one book. Everything is together and I cant misplace anything. It also doesn't require internet or a computer so it can go with me where ever I need to go. Even camping! I want to encourage everyone to click the link below and read what some of the other crew members are saying about The Ultimate Homeschool Planner. Each of us use it in different ways so come take a look!