Monday, April 25, 2016

St. Paul Visits Paphos, Cyprus

St. Kyriaki's Church in the background,
with the ruins of St. Paul's Church in the foreground
Saint Paul was one of the greatest Saints of Christianity. He wrote much of the New Testament, and influenced the Christian Church to an immeasurable degree.

Under the inspiration of God, he gave us such beloved and powerful passages as

I Corinthians 13


Romans 8


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Yet, he is constantly maligned in modern culture, both by secularists and by some Christians who fail to understand who he really was and what he really taught.

False claims abound that St. Paul was a misogynist, promoted slavery or other such nonsense.  He is wrongly painted as a authoritarian, domineering figure who picked on those weaker than he was for his own power trip.

But, the real actions and life of St. Paul are simply ignored. His works are neglected, and misquoted by those who falsely speak against God and His Church.

A real glimpse into the life of St. Paul can be seen at "St. Paul's Pillar" in Paphos, Cyprus.

Here is the Pillar where St. Paul was tied with ropes and beaten bloody with a lash because of his Love for God. Here is the man - weak in his flesh - who was willing to suffer any amount of pain and hardship for Love of his Savior.

This image of St. Paul being beaten - weak, a prisoner, bloody, in chains - is not the image that those who would malign him portray. Where is the domineering figure who pushes around women and slaves for his own power trip? He didn't exist.

Here is St. Paul, as he described himself in 2 Corinthians 11:

. . . I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? . . .

All this because if his Love for God!

There was no one lowlier in Roman culture than a prisoner! Women were often quite high ranking and powerful. Contrary to our modern concepts, even slaves could hold impressive jobs like Doctor, Teacher, Actor, Banker or Skilled Craftsman .  But, a prisoner on the verge of a death sentence was the lowest of the low. The weakest of the weak. But, God's strength was made perfect in the weakness of St. Paul! 

His weakness - his status as a prisoner and eventually as a Martyr - was the vehicle that God used to spread the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.

St. Paul's Pillar, where he was tied and beaten with a lash for love of Christ

Archaeological site in the foreground, with Church in the background

The Pillar of St. Paul

Map of the Ruins of St. Paul's Church, Paphos, Cyprus

Another view of St. Paul's Pillar

Mosaic Flooring in the Ruins of St. Paul's Church, Paphos, Cyprus

Ruins of St. Paul's Church, Paphos, Cyprus

St. Kyriaki's Church in the Background with St. Paul's Church Ruins in Foreground

If you found this post interesting, you might also like these:

Bible or the Constitution? 

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Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Most Un-Christian Word in the English Language 
Mrs. Good & Mrs. Bad, The Story of 
ONE Sin God Doesn't Care About 
Peace Sign, Origin & Meaning of 

St. Anna, the Grandmother of Jesus
St. Euphrosynos, Patron Saint of Cooks
St. Lazarus, Whatever Happened To? 
St. Nektarios of Aegina

Virtual Visit to Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Teaching Math: Home School for Cheap or Free

Even if you're bad at math, you can teach math well - for cheap or FREE!
In educating my daughter, one thing I know is that I want her to be better at Math than I am!

I was a victim of "New Math." By the time I was done with high school, I was pretty good at the logic that was needed for math, but horrible at computation. Simple facts like 7+3 or 8x6 required me to count or double numbers, rather than just know the answer. Which meant that when I took Algebra, I could do the equation properly, but still get the wrong answer. I lost my confidence, and became anxious when presented with numbers. I became very frustrated with math, and was convinced that I had an undiagnosed numeric learning disability.

From my own math experience, I can confidently attest that the "learn math reasoning and skip the drill" philosophy - which is central to Common Core, and is rewarmed "New Math" is a complete failure. Reasoning is important - but if you don't automatically know such facts as 8+4 or 7x9, you will never REALLY be proficient in math. Successful math instruction requires BOTH drill AND reasoning!

A few people have asked how I could possibly home school math when I'm bad at it. Well, there are three tricks, 1) I know good resources, 2) I learn WITH my child (just like we do for Greek!) and 3) In case of emergency, I have a husband who is smarter than me! ; )

As it happens, we haven't really needed to use the third trick much, because 1 & 2 are working so well. But, one day when we get to Calculus . . . .

Turns out, Math is pretty easy to teach - even if you're not good at it! There are so many wonderful resources out there! And they're cheap or free! : )

The great side effect? I am becoming better at math as my daughter learns math! Turns out there wasn't a learning disability, but rather there had been a teaching disability!
It never ceases to amaze me when home schooling parents talk about the high cost of "curriculum" - there are SO many free resources out there! 

These are the ones we use and love (okay, there are days my daughter doesn't always LOVE them - but she's learning math and as she masters new concepts, THEN she loves them. And I love them because I know that they're providing her with the skills and education that she needs in order to know and love math! : )

I glean homeschooling ideas wherever I find good ones, and I was impressed by Dr. Robinson's recommendation that children should spend about 2 hours a day on Math.  His children have excelled in mathematics, and this seemed to me to be a very helpful idea. We don't time each subject, and I'm sure that there are many days when we don't reach two hours, but the idea that we shouldn't just do 15 minutes of drill, but should really immerse ourselves in math for a long time each day has been a beneficial one. By using a variety of resources, we break up the time so that it is possible to focus. So, yes, we use ALL of the resources below (just not all on the same day)!

These are the resources that we have found most helpful thus far:

Counting Books - In infancy, I began reading my daughter baby books that taught counting. We counted babies, birds, toys - everything. On each page I would read the text, "9 baby ducks" for example - then count the ducks, one by one. This way, she learned how to count and one-to-one correspondence without any real work for either of us! Most of the books were gotten from the thrift store or were gifts. Sometimes they were even gifts that were bought from the thrift store!

Double 9 Dominoes - These (thanks to the recommendation of a friend) were one of our most helpful addition resources. My daughter would look at the two groups of dots and add them up. This taught her not only to know that 5+5=10 but to know what a group of 5 and what a group of 10 looked like. She could say the numbers at a glance without counting the dots. (I always discouraged counting to add - even from the beginning. We would count to understand the concept, but never for drill. These usually run about $10.

Skip Count Kid Bible Heroes- this is a favorite audio CD for the car. It teaches skip counting by every number from 2 to 10 - and ties each skip counting song in with a Bible story. In preschool, my daughter could skip count most of the patterns which meant that she could (unwittingly) do simple multiplication. For instance, she asked how many cans of food were in a case, and she could skip count three cans by four rows (or vice-versa) and figure out the answer on her own. When we started multiplication, she just sailed into it, thanks to this CD! Currently, this resource can be downloaded for under $10. - but it is priceless!

Starfall - as with reading, Starfall has nice, fun math games for little kids. And, part of their site is free.

Mnemonic tricks for addition - I created simple mnemonic tricks for each of the addition facts, inspired by The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas. This way, there was never any counting on fingers, simply thinking of pictures and giving answers. Because I know from experience that counting is a VERY bad habit that leads to lots of wrong answers in higher math.

Xtra Math - Xtra Math is the source of everyday math drill. It is essentially just electronic flash cards, but timed by a machine, so that the answers must be given in 3 seconds for mastery. This is a great resource - and FREE!

Khan Academy - Mr. Khan is a wonderful teacher. He introduces math concepts like Perimeter, Area, Angles, Place Value - and on and on. And, there are practice questions, mastery questions, and all sorts of virtual badges and awards for progress. My daughter enjoys this program and finds the awards very motivating. One serious flaw is that Khan Academy has no drill. It teaches reasoning well, but cannot be a stand-alone program because it is lacking in this vital area. It is central to our math instruction - and we love it - but it cannot stand alone. Khan Academy is free for everything from introductory addition to college level math, science, and lots of other subjects.FREE!

ICT Games - I love these games. They're older and slower so are less about eye hand coordination, and more about math. There are great ones about bonds of 10, and making change at the grocery store, and many others. And, they help make the school day a little more fun! And, it's FREE! 
I cannot speak highly enough about this site. There is a short video with a mnemonic to teach each of the multiplication facts by memory, a puzzle or two to reinforce the fact, and lots of fun video games to practice. This is a site that my daughter looks forward to visiting, and has even been known to spend time on when it was her "day off!" And, it's FREE

ABCya  - has lots of great games - even some for upper elementary like games that work with calculating fractions and decimals. Also a great "Christmas Lights" game for the holiday season. FREE!

Peter Pig's Money
Your kid can learn to count counts without making a mess all over the floor! Can't beat it! And, it's FREE! 

20 FREE math questions a day on a variety of topics and levels.

Math Songs
Mr. R's World of Math & Science. Free Site with helpful songs. My favorites are Fraction Songs for teaching things like numerators & denominator. FREE!

Tick Tock Clock - 
Practice telling time by matching a digital & analog clock. FREE!

Workbooks from the Thrift Store
Although I'm not a huge workbook fan, they are handy while traveling. Also, there's something to be said for getting used to doing math on paper with a pencil : ) I find many wonderful workbooks at the thrift store. Families buy them, use a couple of pages, and fail to stick to it. Then, they donate a nearly-new book, and I find it for - usually - under a dollar : ) Right now, we're using a Kumon Multiplication book that I got for 99 cents. 

Just another site for basic math drill. It's a nice, prettier alternative to Xtra math some days. It has a "fun" look to it. And, it's FREE!

Soccer Math
Fun practice for adding two, two digit numbers. After you get the right answer, your player gets to try to kick the ball into the goal. FREE!

Sheppard Software
This site has lots of free, helpful games for learning math skills. One of our favorites is Fruit Splat. The games are enjoyable, but well designed so the student is actively learning. FREE!

elearning for Kids Math
Lots of great stand-alone lessons here to introduce or practice math concepts. My daughter really enjoys this site. The lesson on Mean, Median & Mode was great. I find that this is a great site to plug into for variety on those days when we lack motivation, or energy for a more traditional approach - like on sick days or snow days. FREE! 

Multiplication Quick Tricks from ABC Teach
This is a downloadable booklet that helps hone quick multiplication tricks. It has been quite a blessing to us! FREE!

Divisibility Rules Printable from ContentedatHome
Need to know at a glance if a number is divisible by 3 or by 8? This Chart will be a HUGE help! FREE!

Free Math Worksheets
When we travel & don't have internet access, sometimes we have used worksheets like the ones on this site. This is also a great help in preparing a portfolio - since it provides a "paper trail."

If you liked this, Check out my other Homeschooling Posts:
Teaching Music: Homeschool for Cheap or FREE!
Teach Reading with Confidence: Homeschool for Cheap or Free
Design Your Own Mini Unit Study 
Home School for Cheap or Free: Why Greek is Better than Latin!
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Reading
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Conversation
2 1/2 Minute Homeschool Lesson Planning
10 Homeschool Lessons from ACE Curriculum 
The Perfect Homeschool Organizer  

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Teaching Music: Homeschool for Cheap or Free

 Teaching music is rather daunting for a home
This beautiful keyboard was a gift from loving family members : )
schooling parent who is not a musician. Here in Ohio, home schooled children are required to have music education. This was one of the things that concerned me when I first set out to home school. As it happened, I found out that music is one of the easiest subjects to teach - even for non-musicians!

Thinking back to my own early traditional music instruction, there were three main components.

1) Singing songs at school with a group.

2) Formal lessons from a piano teacher.

3) Attending musical events, like concerts, with my family.

When I broke it down like this, it was much easier to duplicate the good parts, and fix the bad parts!

1) The singing of songs, and familiarity with valuable cultural music was simple! 

If there was a song I wanted to teach, I could simply pull it up, often with lyrics on Youtube. Like this:

I soon discovered that there was all sorts of information that could be mastered at the same time as learning music. A win-win! Like these (and many others):

The names of the tribes of Israel:

The Traditional Greek Orthodox Christmas Hymn:

The States and their Capitols:

We also got CD's to sing along with in the car for everything from math to Bible memory.

We use many CD's and music downloads to learn things like Handel's Messiah, traditional Christmas Carols, and other songs.

We also listen to Greek Orthodox Chanting on CD - which I've just discovered is also available free online, with lyrics!

For these lessons, I use MANY CD's that I already had before my daughter was born - which saves a lot of money.

The biggest bonus to this part of our day? I usually turn this music on when we're doing our morning routine - so that we can be educated while we eat breakfast, and it also makes for a relaxing, enjoyable morning. 

Greek Orthodox Learn To Chant Audio 

But, we still needed music theory and an instrument.

2) What a Blessing when I learned about Hoffman Academy! 

Joseph Hoffman gives FREE online Piano lessons on his website! This is SO much better than the formal lessons I had when I was a child. Mr. Hoffman is gifted at teaching children - his lessons are both easy to understand and enjoyable. We can progress exactly as we are ready. When I was a child, piano lessons were exactly once a week whether I knew the material or not. Usually I had not practiced and was not ready for the next lesson. My teacher was frustrated, my Mom was paying for it, and I was embarrassed and felt like a failure! On the other hand, my gifted, diligent sister had to wait a week even if she mastered the material the first day. Not so with Hoffman Academy. The diligent child who is ready can take a new lesson every other day, whereas the one who misses too many practice sessions can wait until they have practiced enough. And the one who just doesn't get it can watch it again. Best of all? It's all FREE! (Did I say that already?)

I am learning more piano online than I ever did as a child taking lessons - but my daughter is learning even more than I am! She learns both theory and performance - important things like how to read musical notation, and fun things like how to play "Jingle Bells."

Hoffman Academy does charge for accompanying materials, like sheet music and accompaniment tracks, but the prices on these materials are excellent - probably much less than you'd pay for similar materials required by a traditional teacher. And, it is possible to take the lessons without the materials - just not ideal. 

I don't know where I originally read about Hoffman Academy, it was on someone's blog, but I cannot remember whose - and I have since seen it in a couple of other places. But, I cannot praise it enough. It is WONDERFUL! Check it out!

Many THANKS to the sweet family members who gave us a beautiful Keyboard as a very generous gift! : )  We actually took the first 20 lessons on a toy that we had around the house before we were given this lovely gift!

 Hoffman Academy - Free Piano Lessons! 

 3) The final component is musical events

In our Church and in our community, there are endless opportunities (often Free!) to attend concerts, or to be in events like Christmas Nativity plays. These opportunities round out our music education.

Our local music conservatory has performances by students, too, and some of them are free! Contact your local conservatory to see if they offer free student recitals.

As you can see, teaching music in home school can be really easy for a parent, fun, and free!

Check out my other Home Schooling Posts
Teach Reading with Confidence: Homeschool for Cheap or Free
Design Your Own Mini Unit Study 
Home School for Cheap or Free: Why Greek is Better than Latin!
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Reading
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Conversation
2 1/2 Minute Homeschool Lesson Planning
10 Homeschool Lessons from ACE Curriculum 
The Perfect Homeschool Organizer  

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Teach Reading with Confidence: Homeschool for Cheap or Free

The teaching of reading is, perhaps, the scariest of undertakings for a Homeschool Mom. Our culture has led us to believe that the teaching of reading is something magical and mysterious best left to the professionals. And, even the professionals meet with about a 20% failure rate in modern America.

When I began teaching my daughter to read, I encountered a book that was a huge blessing to me. I truly believe that my finding this book just when I did was an act of Divine Intervention.

It was a book that my Mother (who was a professional teacher by trade) had mentioned to me many years before, and when I saw the title on the library shelf, I decided to check it out. I was SO glad I did!

The author explained in detail how and which reading teaching methods worked, and which didn't and WHY. For a tiny bit of investment of my time - perhaps 2 or 3 hours of reading - I had the answers I needed to proceed with confidence and without doubts. Within 4 months, my daughter was able to read ANY word she encountered (not just the words on certain lists). By the end of that academic year, she had read more than 1000 pages with multiple sentences per page.

I liked that this method of teaching my own daughter at home allowed her to learn to read well when she didn't meet public school requirements of age and "readiness" such as being able to pack her own backpack at the end of the day, cut with scissors, or follow three instructions without being reminded.Those skills and age requirements are important to a teacher's ability to manage a large group of children, but don't have anything to do with a child's ability to learn to read.

The book was a classic originally written in 1955 - a classic which modern educators often refuse to follow, despite the fact that the "modern, scientific" methods are substantially less effective than the methods in this book. In fact, the "Common Core" forbids using this proven method, and mandates methods that don't work as well (as do many other government mandated education programs ) .

The author of this book analyzed English and demonstrated that English is a phonetic language. Although some "experts" allege that English "breaks the rules" more than half the time, the author of this book could demonstrate - by computer analysis - that English words are about 97% phonetic. And, he could demonstrate that although some students are born with dyslexia, the huge majority of cases of dyslexia are acquired - through anxiety producing, ineffective modern teaching methods.

What is really sad is that many people who want to profit off of a sight reading program will falsely claim that English is not phonetic without offering any analysis of or evidence for their claim.

Instead of failed methods, such as "whole language," and sight reading, he advocated Intensive Phonics First - with NO sight reading instruction (the only words I taught by sight if I recall correctly were one, once, eye and of).  Many programs pretend to teach phonics when in reality, they teach mostly sight reading with a little phonics thrown in. That is often the case in public schools where children are given stacks of sight word flash cards while their parents are told, "Don't worry! We're teaching phonics!" This method is VERY different from that.

What was really great about the method taught in this book was that it was SO straightforward and simple to use. We didn't have to endure the misery of drilling sight words - at all! In fact, drilling sight words was forbidden because this is one of the main causes (and perhaps the only cause) of acquired dyslexia.

 I didn't have to invent games or crafts or busy work instead of teaching reading.  And, it was all done in well under a year. No dragging out a reading program for 5 years, as many do.

It wasn't always fun for my daughter at first, there were days when she objected and argued, but it produced a great love of reading, and now that she is proficient, she reads for enjoyment so much that I have to stop her! 

I taught my own daughter using this method from day one. But, I also taught another child by this method AFTER he had been held out of first grade for one year, and THEN failed out of Public School First Grade. When he returned to school, he was put up to the next grade because these methods had worked. Although I strongly favor the early teaching of reading for a variety of reasons, no matter what age you begin at (altho it works best when used FIRST!), this method works great!

These are also the methods that were used in the A.C.E. School that I mentioned in another post - the school that had ALL of its kindergartners reading long passages from the King James Bible before the end of the year!

And, it's a method that ANYONE can use - assuming that they know how to read themselves. 

And, it's cheap or free!

What's not to love?

This is the book:
Why Johnny Can't Read

Here are great resources to use with this method:

Reading Preparation

Much is made of "reading readiness." I don't place much stock in such ideas - in that I don't think a child needs to be interested in reading in order to learn it well and enjoy reading after mastery. But, she does need to know her letters, the sounds they make, and how to identify them. I prefer to think of these as reading prerequisites rather than reading readiness.

In order to accomplish the prerequisites to reading, we employed four main methods.

1. I sang the alphabet song with her.

2. I read her many alphabet books for babies and toddlers, and I read each page like this, "B says buh - Ball!" "C says kuh - Clown!" and "C says suh - Circus!" this way she easily learned the names and sounds of the letters well before she was potty trained.

3. I read Bible Story books and many other books to her while she sat in my lap. (we also greatly limit videos and have no TV in the home- so she was INTERESTED in books. TV KILLS academic interest)

4. After she learned the above, I would ask her questions like "FAN - What sound does it start with? What letter makes that sound?" and "TOP - What sound does it end with? What letter makes that sound?" "CUT - What sound is in the middle? What letter makes that sound?" When she had mastered this skill, I knew she was ready to start formal reading instruction.

These were the resources I used to formally teach my daughter reading:

Meet the Phonics videos - I got these from the library - they were great. Needless to say, we did not use their "Meet the Sight Words" video. They can also be found on Amazon

Reading with Phonics by Hay Wingo - This link is to the actual textbook we used for our primary text (although I used an older version, pictured below). It is priceless. Some teacher's editions of this book also contain the student text, so you might be able to save money by buying a teacher's edition. Prices vary greatly since this book is out of print. I found mine for about $22. Your library might also have it. We finished this book before we started reading stories and books, with the exception of a few Bob Books and Starfall Books that reinforced the Phonics topic we were learning. It STUNS me that there are "packages" out there that cost thousands of dollars and take as much as five years to cover the same material that this inexpensive book covers in about 120 pages and about as many days.

Starfall - this is a great activity site with lots of fun games, puzzles and reading books online. They also have a great set of beginner paper booklets which we really enjoyed. Although the paper books have a free online version, I felt that buying the paper set was worth the money because it helped by daughter learn to love picking up a book to read. Starfall has a free section and a paid section -we only tried the free components. We used them for hours and hours!

Don Potter Phonics Resource Page 
This is a priceless (but free! : ) site of phonics instruction information. Includes a link to the free excellent teaching text, Blend Phonics and many other wonderful resources for the teaching of reading.

Bob Books - are a classic. Very approachable, decodable beginning phonics readers. Available at many libraries.

McGuffey Readers
We had these original readers from my Mother's house, and used the first few to teach basic reading. I found that they weren't as effective Reading with Phonics by Hay Wingo for teaching basic phonics, but after phonics were well-established, McGuffey Readers really helped with Mastery.  They're also easy to find as free online text - like at Project Gutenberg (although with online versions you may not get the same original as is available thru Mott media.)

Bible Story Books - My Mother always said that if you use the Bible for learning, God will Bless your learning. We used Bible Story books for our primary reading text, and now we use the Bible for our primary reading text. There is no need to buy a "reader" when you have Bibles! (Although we do use a huge variety of other reading books, too!)

As you can see, this favorite Bible Story Book was and is well-loved!

After my daughter had learned and substantially mastered phonics, I used a couple of "sight word" texts with her for fun and practice. My late Mother had left her own copy of "Dick and Jane" and we also used a Bible Sight reader. I had two caveats when using these books, 1) no guessing and 2) sound out every word until it is automatic - no memorizing or drill! I also used these in conjunction with other books that had to be intensively sounded out (like "The Beginner's Bible for Toddlers") so that we were still getting rigorous, daily phonics practice.

A Bible Story Sight Reader - there's nothing wrong with these simplified books AFTER phonics have been mastered.

My Mother's Copy of "Dick and Jane" from the Early 30's

Teach Your Monster to Read - I discovered this one in 2018 - long after I wrote this post. But it is a nice fun reading game for little ones (preschool to early reader). It DOES teach sight words, but is phonics-intense. Your little one might enjoy using it to supplement the work you're doing.

Much is made of the few words that "don't follow the rules" in English. Usually this is because those who are attempting to teaching read don't know the rules themselves! Most English words follow rules, but some of those rules are more obscure. In some instances, I'd teach a small "word cluster" that followed an archaic rule "would, could, should" or I'd simply say, "Sound out this word. It's spelled M-o-t-h-e-r but when you sound it out, it sounds like "Mowther." But think of the sentence it's in, how do we really pronounce the word that goes there?  Of course, we say it "Muther!" This way, my daughter never had to break away from her good habit of sounding out to use a bad habit of guessing. And we never had the misery of sight word drill.

After I finished teaching my daughter to read, I also encountered this great site, which might be a wonderful resource for you in this endeavor: Don Potter Phonics

If you want to teach your child to read, check out  Why Johnny Can't Read and then use these great resources. You'll be so glad you did!

Keep an eye out for more Homeschooling Cheap or Free posts in the coming weeks! : )

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Check out my other Homeschooling Posts:
Design Your Own Mini Unit Study 
Home School for Cheap or Free: Why Greek is Better than Latin!
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Reading
Home School for Cheap or Free: Greek Conversation
2 1/2 Minute Homeschool Lesson Planning
10 Homeschool Lessons from ACE Curriculum 
The Perfect Homeschool Organizer 
Teaching Music: Homeschool for Cheap or Free 

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