Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Fundamentals of Writing with Jim Baumgardner of Sarah Books

Welcome to class students!!! We have a guest teacher today, his name is Mr. Jim Baumgardner!

Mr. Baumgardner is the author of the  award winning Sarah Books series. You can read a bit about him and his books by visiting his website.

However, today, he has graciously offered to teach all of us, students both young and old, on the Fundamentals of Writing. What an Honor!

I am thrilled to have Mr. Baumgardner share his expertise with us, and help our students in the area of writing.  What a gift for us, as homeschoolers, to have the opportunity, to learn from an award winning author!

Thank you Mr. Baumgardner for sharing your time and your talent with all of us! We are truly blessed!

And now, pull up a chair, gather your students and join us  for lesson one in our teaching series.

Mr. Jim Baumgardner............

Fundamentals of Story Writing

Ideas—Where Can I Find Them?

So you want write a novel. Or, maybe you have been given a school assignment to write a short story. Whatever the reason, you need a story that will capture the reader and keep him or her interested to the end. How do you go about it?

Whether it’s a short story or a novel the principals are much the same. You need a strong beginning, a satisfying middle, and a terrific ending that ties everything together. Now get a sheet of paper and start writing. What? Oh, you don’t have any ideas. Hmmm, that is a problem.

Let’s think this through and maybe an idea will come. You can find ideas everywhere: reading, television, at the mall, conversations with friends, the newspaper, things that anger you or make you happy, Bible stories, Mother Goose, Grimms Fairy Tales, history books, family history, and ______. You fill in the blank. Capturing the imagination is what you want to do, whether writing fiction or non-fiction. If your imagination isn’t stimulated, you’ll have nothing to say.

Another technique is to take a familiar story, like a fairy tale, and rewrite it. Let’s take for example: “Hansel and Gretel”.  Make the children ornery, not the father and the step-mother. The witch’s challenge is to get rid of them. How about making “The Three Little Pigs” vicious razorback hogs that terrorize the countryside threatening a frail little mama wolf, weak from giving birth to her babies. You get the idea.

Play, “what if”. Take something you love to do or maybe a game you like and ask what if things were done differently. What if the sun didn’t come up one day? What would you think? How would you react? Where would you go? Why did it happen? Will this be forever?

What if Major League Baseball decided umpires are no longer needed? Write about what that would do to the game and fans. Who would be in charge?

The key with brainstorming is that no ideas are discarded. The trick is to come up with as many ideas as possible, regardless of how outlandish they may seem. Do this with friends, and write all the ideas down.

How about some ideas now? Okay, here are some starters and it should stimulate your mind to come up with others that interest you.

1. You find an old lamp that has washed up on the beach. Drying it off involves rubbing it, and when you do a genie pops out and offers to grant you three wishes. How do you answer?

2. You are riding in a car and your friend is driving. While listening to the radio the station breaks in with a news bulletin. You friend slams on the brakes, jams the car into park, and jumps out running down the street through traffic. Why?

3. Write about a family tradition. What does your family always do on a holiday or every summer?

4. Any strong emotion you have about something is a good place to start writing.

Within your story include descriptive details that convey the sights, sounds, textures, odors, and flavors of an experience. Can we hear the rumble of a stampede? Give us the smell of dust up our nostrils on the wind blown prairie? Describe the taste of stale water. Deliver to your readers the magnified squeak of the rusty hinges on the gate that leads to the old haunted house down the street.

Remember precise wording is better than vague words and phrases. "The Snake River ran deep, rushing wildly through the canyon” tells more than "The River was dangerous." The question naturally comes: How was it dangerous?

Instead of “He gave her some pretty roses” be more specific. “He gave her twelve, long stemmed, red roses.”

Write What You Know

The Sarah books are set in 1858 Ohio. How do I know about that time frame? I’m old, but not that old. It takes research! Write stories on subjects that excite you, and you want to learn more about. Make a list of questions your readers will want answered, and then answer them. I try to inform the reader along with telling a story. My books have been noted by others as informative in learning 19th Century history. Here is an example of weaving into the story historical information which gives insight into what was happening during the time Sarah lived:

“What are those men doing in that field?” Sarah pressed her nose up tight against the window.

“Cain’t rightly say,” the old lady answered.

Everyone eyed the men as the cars began to slow to a stop at the station. Doctor Baum, Granny and Sarah had finally arrived in Cincinnati.

“Sarah, I believe those men are playing the game of base ball.” Squinting his eyes in thought, he tried to recall a memory. “I heard of it when I went through New York City, not long after my arrival from Germany. I believe they called one of the teams the Knickerbockers.”

“Base ball.” The girl whispered the words that really meant little to her. “What does that man do with the big stick he’s holding?”

“He’s called the ‘striker,’ and he tries to hit the ball when it's thrown. If he does, then he runs to the first base.”

“What do the others do? When do they try to hit the ball? Or do they? Is there only one striker? What’s the ball made out of? How do you know who wins. What are…”

“Let’s go, girl!” Granny cut off the questions. “We gotta git one of them cabs to take us to the Burnett house. While we be fetchin’ to the hotel, Doc can sort out the questions.”

Notice three things the reader learns about baseball in the year 1858. The name of the game is written base ball not baseball, the batter is called the striker, and there were teams of which one is called the Knickerbockers.

If you are not writing a paper on an historical event or an historical fiction story, you still need to know your subject in order to write an effective and interesting paper. Example: You have decided to tell about your involvement with the Girl Scouts. The paper will include why you like the scouts, how long you have been with them, what you do in service, what friendships have developed because of scouting, and several other things that are important to you. To round out your paper you should give a brief history of the Girl Scouts, some examples of famous people who were scouts, and maybe even some objections offered by folks who are opposed to the Girl Scouts with your answers to those objections. The latter items involve research. When writing think of the following and answer them in the story: who, what, when, where, why and how.

Here are some places to get you started in doing research: The local library, local historical societies, visit historical sites, new and used bookstores, and the internet.

Next: Developing characters and choosing a setting for your story.

Jim Baumgardner

Saturday, June 26, 2010

TOS Crew - Blog Walk - Week 3

How are all of you coming along on your new exercise routine?  What  routine you ask??  You know the one, our Blog Walking!! The best thing about this form of walking.. blog walking,  is that you can get your walking in at any time of day. Even, late at night... in fact that is the best time for it.. when the house is quiet, and you have a few minutes to get to know some new friends!

This our 3rd week of getting to know the crew mates of the 3rd Voyage of the TOS Homeschool Crew!  Take a moment to get to know some of our crew mates! And don't forget to join us in July... you will begin to see the reviews rolling in!  Our mission is to Steer You to Great Homeschool Products!!

Here is your Walking Assignment for Next week! Enjoy! And don't forget to leave comments and get to know each of your crew mates!!

All American Family

Growing Fruit

Learning to Teach
Stairsteps Homeschool Academy
Kingdom Academy
Living Sola Gratia
The Cow Queen
Peace Creek on the Prairie

Happy Walking!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Disney's Not Back to School Days Rally and Home Education Conference

The Best Homeschool Field Trip Ever!
That’s what kids say who have participated in the official Not Back to School Days Rally and Home Education Conference each year. Memories to last a lifetime are made as homeschool families experience the combination of an exciting academic environment with an unforgettable vacation, conveniently encompassed inside the Disneyland® Resort, plus all the conference action you expect at your leisure. Come and join the fun and make Not Back to School Days a tradition in your home education adventure!

Come & Join Us
Disneyland® Resort is the perfect place to enjoy a family vacation, meet new homeschoolers, and get recharged. You will have many unique opportunities to share your experiences with those who are seeking information about home education throughout the week. Come and join the fun and make Not Back to School Days a tradition in your home education adventure!

Conference Fun
Discount Group Accommodations & Park Hopper® Tickets
Y.E.S. Classes taught by Disney®
Disney® Performing Arts Workshops
Group Activities for All Ages
Delicious Group Buffets & Entertainment
Magic Music Days Homeschool groups can perform in the parks!
Conference Speakers, Exhibits, & Workshops

Passport to Magic!
This year, our theme is Passport to Magic! Each participant carrying one of our custom activity passports will receive stamps for every activity completed. Participation in team and individual challenges as you play in the theme parks will earn tickets for various drawings, raffles, and giveaways. Be sure to attend our Farewell Celebration and Banquet, where the biggest prizes will be given away!

Preview: The Fundamentals of Story Writing

Last year while serving on the crew, I had the opportunity to review Sarah's Wish by Jim Baumgardner.

My family and I simply fell in love with Sarah and her story! Not only that I have a special place in my heart for Mr. Jim Baumgardner.  His writing is humorous, educational and just plain fun!

You can learn more about Sarah, by subscribing to her newsletters here. You can even follow Sarah Books on Facebook!

And you can follow Mr. Baumgardner's blog clicking here.

Now, I have a special treat for my readers young and old. I will be having a guest blogger coming up very soon, and he will be none other than Mr. Jim Baumgardner himself!

He will be writing a series of entries titled, 'The Fundamentals of Story Writing'.  These entries are sure to help anyone who is interested in the art of story telling.

Won't you join us for this fun filled and educational journey? If you haven't already, either follow my blog, or subscribe, so you won't miss a single entry!

I would love to hear from all of you ....Are you or your students, budding authors? Are you working on a story, even if only in your mind. Leave a comment, tell us about it. Or do you have a question about story writing?  Leave that in the comments as well!!

I look forward to learning with all of you!

Graphics Toolbox Tuesdays - What's Wrong With This Picture

For this weeks installment of Graphics Toolbox Tuesdays, we are looking at something that you the parent can create over and over again, to help your special needs child.

With this project you might choose to print out these projects, however, you can also put them in a photo album on the computer and just flip through them.

Many special needs kids have a problem at look at the big picture. They cannot look at something and find items that do not belong, for example.

So I made up two samples of  'What's Wrong With This Picture' cards, that can be used with your special needs kids. These cards I made a bit obvious, however, depending on the needs of the child, and the age of the child, this might be where you start. As time goes on, you can make more subtle changes in the pictures. The possibilities are endless.

So look below and see if you can see what's wrong with these pictures.....

In the above picture, it is plain to see that we have added a crown on this soccer players head.. clearly not the appropriate head gear for a soccer match! As well as changing the soccer ball to a football.. one of my teenagers thought that was quite clever, considering we are the only country that refers to it as soccer and not 'football'.  With both of these changes, I used an irregular frame to pull out the image from it's original background and then added it into this photo. You can use this feature for many different reasons, not just the 'What's Wrong With This Picture' card.


In this photo I placed an apple in the pitcher's hand,  using the same technique as described above.  We also changed his show to a purple color. We used the color change option for that. We framed out the shoe, by tracing around the outline of the shoe, and then we were able to change only the color of the shoe.

As you can see Graphics Toolbox is a versatile tool that can help enhance your child's educational experience, no matter their age or learning abilities.

If you would like more information on Graphics Toolbox, please visit our website at

or email me at

Graphics Toolbox equips homeschoolers with cutting edge tools to enhance their education today, and give them the skills they need to be competitive tomorrow.

Monday, June 21, 2010

TOS Crew - Blog Walk - Week 2

Here we are again! Our second week of Blog Walking! This is my kind of exercise! I can get to know my friends, both new and old from the comfort of my own home! Have you started to meet some of the awesome crew members who are at the ready to shed light on some awesome homeschool projects?

Once again, we have a line up of 10 blogs for you to visit and meet their awesome authors! Remember to leave them a comment! I know they each are looking forward to meeting all of you!

Happy Walking!!!

1. Second Star to the Right and Straight On Till Morning
2. Surviving The Testosterone
3. Family Style School
4. School Around The Bible
5. 1628 The Story of The Goebels 5
6. Morris Family Madness
7. Homeschool Musings
8. Homeschooling (and then some!)
9. Heartfelt Homeschooling
10. following Him home

See you next week!!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

CHEA of California 27th Annual Homeschool Convention- Pre Registration Deadline EXTENDED!!!!

Don't miss out.
Times are still tough for many families. To allow more people to take advantage of the pre-registration savings, CHEA has extended the pre-registration deadline of the Annual Convention and Annual Leadership Conference to Friday, June 25.
The 27th Annual CHEA Convention is in Pasadena, July 16, 17, & 18. By pre-registering, you save $13, and if you become a CHEA Member (or are a CHEA Member) at the time of registering, you an additional $30. (Online pre-registration will be open until midnight.)

The Annual Convention is a family affair. In addition to the Teen Conventions(ages 12-18) and the Children's Convention (ages 4-11), other family activities are planned.

The Pasadena area boasts many family-friendly attractions, some of which are within walking distance of the convention center and hotels.

Make your plans now to join other homeschoolers at the Annual Convention.

Annual Leadership Conference

The pre-registration deadline for the Annual CHEA Leadership Conference has been extended to Friday, June 25. The Leadership Conference on Friday, July 16,  is a separate event and requires separate registration. Pre-registration is by mail only and should not be mailed after June 25.

by Marilyn Rockett

Please forward this eNews to your friends who may not receive it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Start Your School Year Off Right!!!!

Are you getting ready for the new school year? Need some help getting organized? Just wish you could have a personal friend to walk you through all of the planning bit-by-bit? Cindy Rushton, has given me permission to share a resource that she developed just for this purpose. I am so excited to give it to you! It is a audio and ebook set that she actually sells on her website, but she is giving away to help us get familiar with her resources. Here is the link:

Let’s Get Ready for a New School Year Super Set!

Let’s Get Ready for the New School Year Mommy Planner…
Ebook by Cindy Rushton

Need some help gearing up for the new school year? Wish you had a friend to take you by the hand and help you plan your year? You will LOVE this! It includes a quick Mommy Planner with a potpourri of planning sheets from all of Cindy's products to help you get started on the right track with your homeschool planning. It is full of goodies! AND YOURS...

Download Part One

Download Part Two

PLUS! Companion Audio! :)
Let’s Get Ready for a New School Year–Audio

Download by Mp3

Isn't that FUN?

After you finish this resource, if you need more help, you will want to check out Cindy's Organized Mom Super Set. It includes audios and ebooks that will help you in even MORE detail. I love it. It is one of my favorite resources for getting organized and on the right track for my homeschool year.

Best news! This week she is offering a special when you order that set. You also get free access to Cindy's huge audio set, Organization 911! Help for the Messy Mom and her NEW Let's Get Organized for the New School Year Seminar Set. Check out the details here:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Graphics Toolbox Tuesday- Thank You Notes!!!

Last year while serving on the TOS Homeschool Crew, we reviewed a product called Graphics Toolbox by Great Software Tools.

It is a product that I really enjoyed! About a month ago, I joined the Great Software Tools team, as Homeschool Sales Specialist.

In that capacity, what I am going to be doing, is posting on my blog each Tuesday - Graphics Toolbox Tuesday - a project that my family and I have completed.

My desire is to show you, all the wonderful things you are able to achieve with Graphics Toolbox and how those projects can impact your family and your homeschool.

What we created this week is a Thank You note. We created a personalized Thank You note to send to our Pastor's son who spoke at my daughters graduation.

Here is the original photo.

So, what I did first was create a frame, and crop the picture. Once the picture was placed I wanted to color in the border. I decided I wanted to have two colors. I actually was able to pick out colors from within the photograph to create the border. Both color's come from Larry Chappell's tie.

In the next step, I was able to layer in fancy lines. These fancy lines are cataloged in Graphics Toolbox. You can choose the color, and like in this example, I layered in 2 different lines to achieve my desired affect. Once I was happy with the fancy lines, it was time to add in the text. What you see below is the finished graphic.

Now, it is time for printing. With Graphics Toolbox you have the ability to print the image in a manner that you will not have all that extra paper folded into the card. Like with many of the other card maker programs.

When printed, it comes out looking like this..

Now, if you were printing several cards, you could also choose to print two, one on top of the other, and then simply cut between the two.
Since I only needed one, I printed only one, and then cut away the excess paper.

And then you simply fold, and fill in the inside of the card....

This entire project took me about 20- 25 minutes. Now, it only took me that long, because there are still features that I am learning. I imagine that my next thank you card will only take me about 10 minutes or less to make.

Tune in next week to see what else you can make with Graphics Toolbox!

For more information about Graphics Toolbox, you can email me at

Just added.........
We just whipped up this up for a friend of my daughter....
This is the computer image....

And here is the finished product....

This one did not take nearly as long... and I created an irregular frame, and pulled the music notes out of another picture.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

TOS Crew - Blog Walk - Week One

As our 3rd voyage for the TOS Crew is gearing up to set sail, we thought we would take time to meet all of our crew mates! Each week we are going to list 10 of our crew mates and their websites.

Our hope is that not only will we get to know each other, as we take time and focus on each other's blogs during their features week, we hope that each of you will take time to get to know the crew that has signed up to help you find great homeschool products!

We begin our tour with...........

1. Reaping a Harvest
2.  Pink & Orange Coffee
3. Live, Laugh, Learn!
4. Mrs. Mandy's Musings
5.  The Fantastic Five
6.  Refined Metals Academy
7.  Just A Moment in Time
8.  Providence Farm
9. My Journey
10. Petra School

Thanks for visiting and we look forward to seeing you all next week!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FREE Nasa DVD for your Homeschool!!!!

My friend Heidi just posted on her blog that you can order a FREE DVD from NASA!
Here is what they say about it on their blog...
Are you ready to take a Journey to the Stars? The American Museum of Natural History and NASA have joined forces to produce a planetarium show about the amazing variety of stars that dot our cosmos--exploding stars, giant stars, dwarf stars,neutron stars, even our own star! But you don't have to go to a planetarium to experience this mind-blowing journey. NASA will send you a DVD, for free!

Now go on over to Heidi's Blog and order your own today!!!

Thanks Heidi, for sharing this great resource!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Joy in a Quiet House

It has been a quiet day here on the home front. Quiet for many reasons!
Mom, has lost her voice! Yes I am talking about myself in the third person!

It is amazing how much you use your voice every day! I mean, I know that I use my voice every day, but boy, when you can't use it, you realize what a helpful tool it is.

However, it has been a wonderful way to take a much needed rest! Isn't it amazing how God will give you exactly what you need even when you don't realize you need it!

You see, the month of May has been a whirlwind of activity around here! We took a vacation, a school vacation. We went on several awesome educational field trips!

The TOS Homeschool Crew was winding down our 2nd voyage, I had a few reviews due, and at that time Homeschoolblogger changed their format. Which I am loving, though it is taking time to learn!

We also were planning our homeschool group graduation, for 8th and 12th graders. It was an amazing day! But alot of leg work! Though very worth it. At the top of this post, is a picture of me and my daughter on her special day!

Here is one with our daughter and our Pastor's Son, Larry Chappell, who was our speaker at the graduation. Bro. Chappell works with our teenagers, and they all just love him! We were honored that he spoke to our teenagers!

Here is one with a couple of her friends!

If you can't tell from the pictures, the day turned out lovely. What started out as a small affair, grew into a ceremony and reception for 200 people!

So needless to say, a much needed rest is in order. However, my nature is not to rest! I tend to try to just keep on going!

With the loss of my voice, I have been able to stay off the phone!!! I have been able to finish up on some reading that I have been meaning to do!

One of the best parts, is I learned a great lesson! And that is.. if I speak quietly, my children respond quietly. I love it! Yes, I knew that, however, I , often times, much like my children, have a hard time with my volume control! Just ask my mother! This has been a long time issue! So now that I am speaking softly all day.. for several days now, their responses have been nice and soft! I like it! Note to self, keep speaking softly, even when voice returns.

Thank you Lord for giving me the rest, You knew I wouldn't take on my own!