How to Help Your Child Prepare for the SAT

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High school juniors across the country are preparing to take the SAT in the next few weeks. At this point, you may be wondering what you could possibly do to improve your score.

How to Help Your Child Prepare for the SAT

Here are some steps to follow in the next few weeks to make the most of the remaining time.

14 Days Out — Get a current snapshot of your skills

If you haven’t already, take an SAT practice test. Your score and skills analysis will give you a clear starting point for planning. Organize a study plan with these steps:

  • Identify your good areas that you want to make great. Every student has a strong suit; figure that out and optimize it.
  • Identify the areas that need the greatest improvement, and, here’s the key: find the few highest-impact skills in those areas that will produce the biggest impact. Focus on those high-impact skills.
  • Prepare a detailed study schedule that charts your expected personal growth over the next two weeks, including specific goals for your areas of focus.

A well-trained tutor can help use the practice test data to focus your efforts so you can improve during the time that remains.

10 Days Out — Work on time management

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with some of the test construct and high-impact skills, you need to start to think about time management. How are you breaking up your time for the reading passages and questions? How much time are you spending on the easy and medium math questions versus the hard questions? These nuanced time-management decisions can have a big impact on performance.

7 Days Out — Take another practice test and assess progress

At this point, take another practice test. Assess your growth in your scores and skills. What has grown? What hasn’t? Now, target the skills that need the most attention and focus there for the remaining days.

1 Day Out – Summarize & Review

With the end in sight, it’s time to consolidate your lessons learned onto one sheet. What high-impact skills are most important for you? What grammar rules, math formulae, reading strategies are the most helpful? And what time management approaches optimize your performance best? Write these down for review and bring them along in the car ride on test day morning. And be confident! The key is that you have insight into your own personal performance and you know how to personalize your own test-taking approach to meet your specific needs. That’s the key to success.

About Matthew Pietrafetta
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of the test preparation company Academic Approach.

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Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Water Bead Sensory Play

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Kids LOVE playing with water beads. It’s a great sensory activity.

Follow this simple recipe for creating your own water beads!

Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Water Bead Sensory Play


  • Colorful water beads
  • Warm water
  • Airtight container with lid (shallow rectangular containers work better than bowls or small deep containers)
  • Old measuring cups, plastic spoons, plastic eggs, seashells, or toy creepy crawly bugs.

Optional: a few drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, or lemon essential oil.


Pour ½ of mixed color water beads in large shallow container.

Add 4-6 cups of water. Let sit overnight.

If beads have not expanded all the way add another 2 cups of water.

Add fun objects for sensory play: measuring cups, seashells, plastic spoons, toy snakes and bugs, abc letters or beads, dinosaurs, ramekins, old jars, etc.

When done playing put the lid on so the water beads don’t dry out.

As needed, add water and a few drops of eucalyptus oil to kill pathogens.

Picture-8-300x168This Sensory Play recipe was provided by Katie Vega.

Katie Vega is a mom of 5 in Columbus, Ohio. She is an internet marketer, marketing/branding consultant, and e-book author. She began her career in the Network Marketing industry in 1999, and over the years has totally transformed  her business to use her passions and talents. In early 2013 she left her job to build her business at home part time so she could homeschool her children.


One of her passions and goals  is to show moms with ADHD or behaviorally challenged kids how they can manage the chaos at home and run a profitable business without losing their mind!


Visit to learn more.


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What to Teach When Homeschooling Preschool

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While there aren’t any hard and fast rules for what to teach when homeschooling preschool (it’s mostly about playing with them and loving on them), this guide will provide some suggestions on what to cover to prepare them for Kindergarten.

What to Teach When Homeschooling Preschool

At this age, children learn primarily from play, interacting with others, and observing the world around them. Each child learns at his or her own rate as well, and there’s no set of facts or concepts your preschooler absolutely needs to know at this age and stage. The list below simply covers what your preschooler may learn during this period.

Preschool Language Arts

This is the age and stage at which your child will begin to recognize and identify letters of the alphabet. By the end of preschool many children will be able to identify all of the uppercase letters, some of the lowercase letters, and the sounds the letters make. Your child may begin to recognize his name when printed out and make solid attempts at writing it himself. He may also write some other short words, such as mom, dad, dog, and cat.

Preschool Reading

At this age and stage, children typically love being read to and looking through books on their own. Many pretend to read books, which is a precursor for reading. Reading to your child for even a few minutes per day can encourage a lifetime love of the written word.

Preschool Color and Shapes

During preschool, your child will likely learn the names of shapes and colors or add to those she already knows. This stage is also marked with more accurate naming of the body parts and objects around the house.

Preschool Math

In the preschool years, children learn to recognize and identify numerals up to 10. They also learn to count to 10. Many are also ready for basic additions, such as saying that one toy plus another toy makes two toys.

Preschool Art

At this age and stage, your child is likely ready to begin cutting with safety scissors, tracing, and using glue and paste in artwork. He may also begin to make recognizable drawings and paint with a paintbrush.

For more details on what to teach when you homeschool Preschool and the other 13 grades, check out our Year-by-Year Teaching Guide for Homeschoolers:

Click the arrow in the widget below for a preview of what’s included!

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Now Available! The 50 States Notebooking Unit

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Notebooking can be a valuable tool for your homeschool program. But just what is notebooking exactly? Essentially, notebooking is the process of gathering written notes, facts, answers images, and other educational items in a single location—usually a notebook, though you might use a binder or a folder instead.

The purpose of gathering these things together is two-fold. One is to reinforce learned information, making it easier for your child to retain and recall facts, and another is to keep a record of the knowledge your child has absorbed. Both are important purposes, and homeschooled children (as well as their parents) often feel a sense of accomplishment when looking back at their notebook pages and seeing all they’ve explored.

Above all, notebooking is fun. For many, it feels like building a collection, except you and your child are collecting knowledge rather than coins or bottle caps!

Our “Learning the United States of America” notebooking pages can easily fit with your current curriculum, providing a fun, easy way for your child to record the facts he or she has learned. However, you do not need a separate curriculum to use these notebook pages. They can also act as a standalone, complete unit study, and you and your child can use Internet research and/or the library to gather the facts to record on each notebook page. No matter how you choose to use our notebook pages, they are sure to become an integral part of your homeschool program.

There are two versions available, full color or coloring book style. Get your by clicking the appropriate button below!

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Resources for Learning About New Year’s

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Yes, I realize that Santa hasn’t even come to visit yet! I wanted to get these cool resources for pulling together a quick lesson plan on New Years in your hands so you actually have time to enjoy them!

Resources for Learning About New Year’s

Here are some links you can use to create your own “on the fly” New Year’s Unit Study:

Learn About New Year’s Around the World

Turn your New Year’s Eve celebration into a multicultural one!  Have you children pick a country or two to learn about. Locate them on a map, read about their New Year’s traditions and prepare some food from that country.

New Year Around the World Facts:

Read this interesting,  fun collection of facts about traditions from around the world.  You’ll learn about customs in Greece, Columbia, Scotland & many more countries!

Traditions from Around the World:

Find out even more about the history and traditions of New Year’s. This site offers and extensive list of countries. We just wrapped up a study on our heritage, this will be a great tie in for us! Find the country you are interested in and click on the link to learn more.

How to Say “Happy New Year”:

Have fun learning how to say “Happy New Year!” in other languages.

Lucky New Year’s Eve Food Traditions from Around the World:

Read about food traditions and try to prepare some yourself for New Year’s Eve.  NOTE: There are a lot of pop-ups on this site.  Be sure to have your pop-up blocker on for a better experience.

Calendar Concepts

What better time to reinforce time and calendar concepts, or even learn something new about the history of the calendar? If you kept a family calendar this year, you can review the events of the past year and have your children create a time line.   You can print calendar pages and have your children decorate each month, filling in the special days and holidays.

Calendars: Counting the Days:

This site is just a wealth of information about the calendar!  Read through the different pages to learn about the history of the calendar, how to measure time and the different types of calendars used today.

Assignment Discovery:Days and Months:

Watch this short video to learn how the moon is connected to the calendar.  A nice, quick and to-the-point lesson!

Printable Calendars:

If you want your children to create calendars, this is a nice place to find printable ones for coloring or customizing.

Just Plain Fun

Maybe you’re just looking for some good, old-fashioned, coloring pages, printables and crafts?  There’s lots of fun and learning that can happen with paper, pencil, scissors and glue!

New Year’s at Danielle’s Place:

A nice collection of ideas.  My favorite is the FREE printable “pop-up” New Year’s card to make.  Let your kids make a few for friends and neighbors.

New Year’s Word Search:

Just print and circle the words!

Bright New Year Mobile:

This fun craft project, from Crayola, will liven up your home on New Year’s Eve.  You probably have all the supplies you need on hand: construction paper, colored pencils, gel pens, glue & glitter glue, scissors, hole punch, ribbon and recycled foam trays.

Will you be doing some fun learning this New Year’s?  Or, do you have a learning idea or resource for New Year’s?  Share it with us in the comments section below!


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8 Free Middle School Math Activities

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“When are we ever going to use this?”

If you have a middle schooler (or teach them), you’ve probably heard this question about Math. Truthfully, we all know that we use math at all levels of education from Kindergartners counting out crayons to adults figuring taxes.

What makes kids “get it” is bringing math to real life. Middle schoolers aren’t thinking about balancing a checkbook or figuring out miles per gallon on their vehicle, but we can help them make those connections. Taxes are at least a few years away, and most have mastered counting back change. Understanding the practical applications for Math practice today can help students apply their learning into adulthood.

Free Middle School Math Activities

Here are 8 free math activities to help your middle school student learn and grow with real-life math.

1. Table Talk Math
Sign up on this site to have prompts and articles delivered to help facilitate math discussions at home. When parents can help carry on conversations about learning in any context, it will help students understand its value!

2. Football Math

These activities can be adapted for other sporting events, but it’s never too early to prepare for the biggest game of the season. Yummy Math gives dozens of ideas from Fantasy Football picks to analyzing whether or not a team should go for it on 4th down or even comparing the quarterback ratings of those with and without facial hair. Hey, the last one may be a little in left field (don’t let the baseball metaphor confuse you), but it does make learning fun!

3. Top Speed

This is an authentic learning activity from (an educational network) to help students understand the relationship between distance and speed and using linear measurements. Students determine their top speeds while running skipping, and walking and then test the relationships between speed, distance, and time. This works best with a group, but it can be adapted in a homeschool setting.

4. Inquiry Maths

Fueled by mathematical statements or prompts, students generate their activities and explore through inquiry. The menu on the side has a list of categorical prompts and even options for students and teachers to create their own statements.

5. Plan a Dream Vacation

It doesn’t get more real and fun than planning a vacay on a budget. It’s Fine in the Middle gives you the steps and resources to implement this project for students who finish other work early in the classroom, but it’s really relevant for all learners. Knowing how to manage money early may, in fact, help them take that dream vacation in the future!

6. What’s Behind the Price of Gasoline?

This economic lesson from includes a lesson, student, and teacher resources to teach about supply and demand, OPEC, and the world implications of the cost of oil.

7. Financial Literacy Lessons for Middle Schoolers

14 lessons with teacher and student resources are included for everything from budgeting and living on your own to credit cards and consumer privacy.

8. Start a Small Business

Thirteen Ed Online has hundreds of lessons on a variety of topics. This financial literacy lesson walks students through what it takes to start a small business.

Give your students something they can apply to real life situations through these authentic math tasks!


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Sensory Play DIY Recipe: Silly Putty

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Every kid loves silly putty because it’s squishy and messy. If you have carpeting, keep this as a kitchen or outdoor only activity.

Silly putty is fun to play with, they have a unique texture and their chemistry is definitely therapeutic.

Who knew you could make it out of simple ingredients you probably already have lying around the house?

Sensory Play DIY Recipe: Silly Putty


• Pitcher
• 4 oz water + 2 cups of water
• ¼ cup Borax Powder
• 4 oz Elmer’s Glue (school or glitter glue, NOT washable.)
• Food Coloring
• Bowl
• Fork or spoon


In the pitcher pour 2 cups of water. Add 1/4 cup of Borax powder and stir for 30 seconds. There will be borax that doesn’t dissolve, that’s ok.

In a large bowl pour 4 oz of clean water. Add 4 oz of Elmer’s Glue (store brand is ok).

Add desired amount of food coloring and stir until it’s well blended.

Add 4 tablespoons of the borax water to the bowl of diluted glue and stir continuously. It will begin to get thick and stick to the fork or spoon.

Add 1 tablespoon of borax water at a time to the bowl and stir until there is no watery glue left.

Then Scrape the bowl with the fork and remove all of the putty from the spoon. The silly putty will be a little watery at first.

Flatten, fold and knead putty until the consistency is how you want it.

Store in an airtight container or plastic egg to preserve.

Tip: For transparent glitter putty, use glitter glue instead of traditional white glue.


Picture-8-300x168This Sensory Play recipe was provided by Katie Vega.

Katie Vega is a mom of 5 in Columbus, Ohio. She is an internet marketer, marketing/branding consultant, and e-book author. She began her career in the Network Marketing industry in 1999, and over the years has totally transformed her business to use her passions and talents. In early 2013 she left her job to build her business at home part time so she could homeschool her children.

One of her passions and goals is to show moms with ADHD or behaviorally challenged kids how they can manage the chaos at home and run a profitable business without losing their mind!

Visit to learn more.


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Free Thanksgiving Unit Study Guide

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This free Thanksgiving Unit Study guide contains some of the best resources for putting together your own theme unit to use in your homeschool. Ok, not just “some.” There’s actually nearly 100 resources … and they are all FREE!

Free Thanksgiving Unit Study Guide

In this guide you will find ideas and resources covering a range of topics including:

  • History
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Fine Motor & Cognitive Thinking Skills
  • Crafts & Hands-On Activities
  • Recipes
  • Complete Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Each of these resources are completely free!

To create your unit, simply browse through each of the categories, select as many (or as few) as you want to use and decide what order you will use each resource. You may want to complete one item from each category each day, or one item a day.

Grab your Free Thanksgiving Unit Study Guide below. That’s it!  No strings, no catch!


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6 Resources for Teaching Children with Dyslexia

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If your child has dyslexia, you may worry that homeschooling will not completely meet their needs, or you may worry that you won’t know how to properly teach your child with dyslexia. That said, many homeschoolers have learning disorders like dyslexia and many parent teachers have learned to work around it, or even with it, to benefit the student. With the right resources and the proper knowledge, you can do exactly that.

6 Resources for Teaching Children with Dyslexia

Dyslexia 101:  Truths, Myth and What Really Works by Marianne Sunderland

Here’s a great book written by a dyslexia parent with comprehensive chapters like:

  • What is Dyslexia?
  • How to Know if You or Your Child Has Dyslexia
  • Everything You Need to Know About Testing
  • Reading Instruction That Works
  • Navigating the Public School System
  • Everything you Need to Know to Start Homeschooling Your Dyslexic Child
  • When to Hire an Educational Therapist
  • Dyslexia in High School and College
  • Encouragement for Parents
  • Tips for Teachers
  • Hope for Students

She also has an entire website devoted to homeschooling students with dyslexia. It’s packed full of great info so you should definitely check it out.

Dyslexia Training Institute  Here you can find great webinars on such topics as how to teach kids with dyslexia as well as a tutor certificate program. They gave solid, evidence-based guidance for parents and teachers of children with dyslexia.

LD Online   One of the best informational sites on learning disabilities and ADHD, LD Online is a great source for info on teaching children with dyslexia. There are hundreds of really useful articles, a detailed resource guide, and much more. It has some of the best information around and even covers important things like the transition to college.

Dyslexic Advantage   From the writers of the book of the same name, this is an excellent site full of information and research about how dyslexia could actually carry an advantage. Once you understand this, it will make it easier to teach with your child’s needs being met.

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity   This is a good all-around site that makes a fantastic case for learning all about dyslexia. It’s useful to parents and educators alike.

The Unappreciated Benefits of Dyslexia  ,Wired Magazine – Here is a great article by Rock and FernetteEide. They wrote the book The Dyslexic Advantage. This will help tie in any loose ends in your curriculum. It will help you see how there can be advantages to having a condition like that. All you have to do is find the strengths and then play on them.

There are many, many more resources out there and it’s all about looking them up and putting them to good use. As a homeschooling parent, you’re used to doing research and creating your own way of doing things. Now you can spend some time learning more about dyslexia and understanding how the brain of a dyslexic child works. Then, you will be better capable of teaching in such a way that they can understand. You can actually use the dyslexia as an advantage, as some of the resources explain.


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Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Herbal Play Dough

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Play dough is beneficial to help strengthen little hands and get them ready for the pencil and scissor skills they’ll need in your homeschool. Together with herbs,with their own distinct smell, they work well to give kids a great sensory experience.

Here’s a great recipe you can use to create your own herbal play dough.

Sensory Play DIY Recipe – Herbal Play Dough


• 4 herbal tea bags of your choice (can use dry herbs of your choice, ie: lavender, chamomile flower,
• rosemary, anise seeds, basil, rose petals, etc.)
• 2 cups of water
• 2 cups white flour
• ½ cup of salt
• 4 tbsp cream of tartar
• 1 tbsp oil (my favorite is Coconut Oil)


Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and steep 4 tea bags for 10 minutes. Remove teabags.

Add flour, salt oil and cream of tartar. Stir over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until it forms a ball in the center of the pan.

Remove ball from pan and knead on lightly floured surface. Tear open tea bags and knead leaves into dough.

Store in an airtight container.


Picture-8-300x168This Sensory Play recipe was provided by Katie Vega.

Katie Vega is a mom of 5 in Columbus, Ohio. She is an internet marketer, marketing/branding consultant, and e-book author. She began her career in the Network Marketing industry in 1999, and over the years has totally transformed her business to use her passions and talents. In early 2013 she left her job to build her business at home part time so she could homeschool her children.

One of her passions and goals is to show moms with ADHD or behaviorally challenged kids how they can manage the chaos at home and run a profitable business without losing their mind!


Visit to learn more.

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