Virtual School Resources: 2012   

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Virtual School Resources is on hiatus!

Dear Readers,

You have probably noticed there has not been a lot of posting here. I have been extremely busy on my other blog, Virtually Yours, and it has become a full time job! I plan to continue to post about education on Virtually Yours, and eventually get my book finished!

I haven't made the decision to give up Virtual School Resources, but there will definitely be very little posting here, at least through the end of the year. I hope you'll visit my other blog!

Thanks to all my subscribers! No need to unsubscribe. I'll be back!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Win The $10,000. Scholarship Sweepstakes from GradSave!

I've been sharing with you recently about the awesome program GradSave offers for saving for college. It saddens me when I talk to people who think college is not an option as they just don't have the money. Planning for college should not happen in your child's junior year! I have a junior, and we have been planning for college since she was born! That does not mean you should not do it at all if you do already have a child in high school, but it does mean you should begin right away. 


The U.S. Census Bureau reports each year on the difference in salaries from an individual with a college degree versus just a high school diploma, and it is typically double! I feel like it is my job to give my kids the best start in life I can, and for us, as a family, education plays a huge part.

You can open a GradSave account right now (it's free!) and start with as little as $10. Make a commitment to continue to add and watch your college fund grow! The GradSave site has lots of information available to you, too, like how to open a 529 account so you can receive the special tax benefits allowed by your state (529 plans can differ from state to state.) You can even read testimonials from Happy GradSavers!

Right now GradSave has a special promotion saving you $10 when you open and make a deposit in a GradSave account! You'll see the $10 come off when you check out. Easy!

I'm excited to share with you a way that you could win $10,000. to begin or add to your child's scholarship fund! 

The GradSave $10,000 Scholarship Sweepstakes is easy to enter! You could be their next scholarship winner! What are you waiting for? Good luck!

I will be chronicling our journey to college over the next couple of years, so I hope you'll be back to read more. I'd love it if you subscribed!

Eligibility. If you are an individual legal resident of the United States (except for the State of Rhode Island) or the District of Columbia and are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry, you are eligible to enter the Sweepstakes. Our employees, their immediate family members (spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, siblings, children and grandchildren), and our affiliates, advisors or advertising/promotion agencies (and their immediate family members) are not eligible to enter the Sweepstakes.

Prize. We will award one (1) Grand Prize Scholarship that will be payable, at the option of the winner, either as (i) a deposit of $1,000 per year for the next 10 years into a child’s college savings fund ($10,000), or (ii) an up front payout of $4,000, which represents the present value of an investment in a college savings fund for a 1 year old with withdrawals starting at age 17 and a 6% compounded annual rate of return on such investment (This just shows you how a college savings fund grows…); provided that, if the winner is a resident of the State of Florida or the State of New York, such winner must select the upfront payment of $4,000.  IN THE CASE OF A SINGLE PAYOUT OPTION (I.E., OPTION (II) ABOVE), ACTUAL FUTURE VALUE OF SCHOLARSHIP MAY VARY BASED ON THE RETURN RATES OF YOUR PARTICULAR COLLEGE SAVINGS FUND AND/OR THE AGE OF CHILD.

Odds of Winning. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Certain promotions will be held where additional entries will be awarded as prizes for action, which may include liking us on Facebook, entering free photo contests, etc.  Check our home page at www.gradsave.com for more information on these free promotions.


This post was sponsored by GradSave. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Free Halloween Printables!

My blogging buddy Cheryl over at Moms & Munchkins has the most adorable Halloween printables available for free! 
Visit her and see for yourself!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Give the Gift of College Education with GradSave!


How often have you wondered what kind of gift would be really helpful to new parents? I've been to so many baby showers where the mom-to-be got tons of diapers and other baby items, some that will probably never be used. And clothes? I am thinking only people who don't have children buy outfits in 0-3, right? Unless they were preemies, they wear that outfit once! Don't get me wrong, I remember how awesome it was to open all those great gifts at my baby showers. Having so many new items for my girls was so much fun! But here's a question. How many people would remember what you got them ten years later? It's not that it wasn't a great gift, it's just that they are in a different place now. However, if you had given them a $25. or $50. gift card for GradSave, they would have started a savings plan for college and that money would have grown tax-free from the time they put it in the 529 account! Do you think they would remember that gift?

Setting up an account with GradSave takes just a couple of minutes. I know, because I set mine up! You make a profile page for your child (or grandchild!) and let family and friends know about it. They can just go to the link you provide through email, Facebook, or other social media outlet, and they can buy a GradSave gift card to make a contribution. It really is so easy!

And right now you can save $10. on your GradSave purchase! That's right, $10! Just go to GradSave and place your order and you will see $10. deducted when you check out! I told you it was easy!

I'd love to hear about your experience with GradSave! Be sure to come back and share how easy it was for you to give the gift of college education!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Free Reading Horizons Webinar

Teachers know that not all students respond to the same instruction with the same degree of understanding. Effective teachers know how to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of each learner. Whether you are a traditional classroom teacher or a teacher of students with special needs, Reading Horizons Discovery was designed with you in mind!
This webinar will address:
  • The new format of the Reading Horizons Discovery direct instruction materials specifically designed to enhance our proven program.
  • A description of the various resources provided with each Reading Horizons Discovery lesson that were created to save teachers time when planning lessons.
  • Elements of Reading Horizons Discovery software that were expertly constructed to provide highly-individualized instruction, including a unique "Response to Intervention/Instruction Loop."
Title: Reading Horizons Discovery: Enhanced Differentiated Instruction
Date: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Time: 3:00 PM EDT
This is a free webinar. Sign up today so you don't miss it!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Family Entertainment Extravaganza!!


Welcome to the Family Entertainment Extravaganza!
Big thanks to Tales From the Nursery and Callista's Ramblings for hosting this great event where a group of awesome bloggers are giving away amazing prizes to share with your family!


Have you heard that The Magic School Bus turned 25? 

I'm excited to be giving away a first time on DVD 3 pack of 
The Magic School Bus!
Entering is easy! 
Just follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below!





Thursday, September 13, 2012

GradSave $1,000 Challenge

I have a Junior in high school so we are starting to plan for college. As of now, she wants to go to a very expensive private art school. Some of the students who have graduated from this school have gone on to work at PIXAR and Disney, which is her dream. We want to give her every opportunity to accomplish her goals, but $40,000 a year is a LOT of money!

I'm reading every book I can get my hands on to learn more about scholarships and any grants available to her. It's a lot of work, but I think it will pay off.

I just recently read about a program that is NOT a lot of work, and I'm joining! GradSave is giving away *$1,000. to the first 10 people who reach the GradSave $1,000. challenge. Why? Because they want to show you how easy to is to begin a savings plan for your child's college education!

Here's all you have to do:

  1. Open a GradSave college savings registry and start saving.
  2. Share your GradSave $1,000. Challenge on Facebook and email to friends and family.
  3. Contribute yourself and let family members know they can help.
Check out the GradSave $1,000. Challenge and get started today!

This post is sponsored by GradSave.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Virtual Schools should NOT be viewed as an Investment opportunity

I have wanted to write about this for some time, and I can't be quiet any longer.

K12 has had so many problems in so many states that it is affecting the public's perception of the validity of virtual schooling. I find this disturbing as my children attend a virtual school that is amazing. Florida Virtual School has been such a blessing to our family. These teachers want to see my children do well, and they have.

One of the owners of K12 is billionaire Michael Milken. Does the name ring a bell? Perhaps because I was a stockbroker before I had kids, I know the name well. Michael Milken went to jail for securities fraud. Check out this excerpt from an article in BloombergBusinessweek from June of 2011:

"K12 expects to generate $500 million in revenue this year—it earned a $21.5 million profit last year—and its stock has doubled in value since the company went public in December 2007. The financial success of K12 has shown that Milken—the 1980s junk-bond king, convicted felon (securities fraud), and health-care philanthropist—has figured out how to profit from public schools. But while online education may have paid off for Milken and other investors, it's less clear that K12 is benefiting its students."    
                                                  BloombergBusinessweek

And from the Spokesman Review, August 1, 2012
"K12 brought in a profit of about $13 million in the last fiscal year. Total revenues were $685 million, an increase of 31 percent over the previous year. The company estimates the market could grow exponentially in the coming years – to between $5 billion to $50 billion. To keep profits high, K12 has told shareholders it will cut costs next year by $20 million."


My blood boils just reading this. I don't know the answer, but I do want to say to my readers, PLEASE investigate fully the virtual school you choose for your child. I have seen for-profit private schools get in trouble, and yes, it is sad, too, but when a company that has such a huge share of the online school market is showing horrendous results for student progress and making that kind of money, Houston, there is a problem.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

App Review: How My Body Works

How My Body Works, a new app from De Agostini, one of Europe's largest publishers of entertainment and educational publications, is a fun way for kids to learn about the human body. Featured as Italy's App of the Week, this is De Agostini's first entry into the U.S. market. 

This is such a fun way for your kids to learn about the human body! 3D female and male models lead you through an interactive adventure through the human body, to explore the body systems and organs.


If you've seen the classic book, How My Body Works, you will recognize this information.  My 13 year old is taking biology. As much as she loves science, she is really struggling a bit with this honors biology class. I think this app will help her tremendously.

Gorgeous artwork makes these lessons so appealing, and so much more interesting than a boring textbook. Our kids are so into technology that textbooks have become boring to them. The interactive features of this program will keep their interest much longer than a book ever could. The characters and sounds are so cute! Your kids might just forget they are learning!

Covering the sensory system, circulatory system, digestive system, respiratory system, locomotor system, nervous system, reproductive system,  as well as the urinary and lymphatic systems, this app is extremely in-depth.


The sensory unit is free, and is a great way for you to try the app out. Buying the extra systems is well worth the price. Wouldn't it be cool if, instead of playing games, your kids asked to play How My Body Works? 

I can't wait to hear what you think! Come back and share!


I received a complimentary app of How My Body Works for purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Too Cool For School Giveaway Hop~The Magic School Bus!


Welcome! You've found the Too Cool For School Giveaway Hop hosted by BloggerPR
Summer has come to an end. Can you believe it? 

Many of us have already started school again, but we're still scrambling to replenish those school supplies and get all of the requirements on those supplies lists. 

To ease the pain of the end-of-the-summer-blues, BloggerPR decided to host a giveaway hop to help everyone win some of those back to school necessities!  

This event will run from September 1st through 9th, which gives you plenty of time to 
hop down the linky list below! 

But before you go, enter to win a 3pack set of the newly released Magic School Bus on DVD! 
This set is being released for the first time this week! You can read all about The Magic School Bus 25th anniversary in my review where you can also find a link to printables you can use with the DVDs!
I'm so excited about this that I'm giving it away on Virtually Yours, too!
Enter in the Rafflecopter below!

Each blogger is giving away prizes valued $20 or more, so be sure to visit everyone! 
Good luck and have a great school year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Free Printables!

Have you visited Education.com? This is a great site for a plethora of information including activities, finding a school or even a college, and LOTS of free printables! You may find that you would rather just have the workbook at your fingertips when you want it, and you can order them here, too. You'll find workbooks for every age, and every subject! 

Visit today and let me know what you find!

Have You Considered Renting Textbooks?

Textbooks can be so expensive! We just paid $275.15 for two textbooks for our oldest daughter's college classes. I can't imagine what we will have to pay when she is taking six classes next year! I don't want to think about it.

After finding Campus Book Rentals, I may never buy another textbook! I checked on the books we just bought, and we would have saved almost $100! Here's one of the books we just bought:

It's so easy to search for books. I just put in the ISBN, and my books came up with pricing and other details. Many books were a lot less expensive to rent, but this is a brand new book. Watch this video to see how it works:


I told you it was easy! 


Another thing I love about Campus Book 
Rentals is that they give back through the Making a Difference Program, which supports a couple of different 
charities. One of those charities
is Operation Smile, where children with cleft palates and other disfiguring facial deformities are able to have life-changing surgery that they probably never would have received otherwise. Just look at this before and after photograph!

The next time you are looking for textbooks, check with Campus Book Rentals first. You'll be saving money, which will put a smile on your face, and you'll help put smiles on the faces of these kids through Operation Smile. That's a win-win in my book.

Come back and share how much you saved by using Campus Book Rentals!

This is a sponsored post by Campus Book Rentals. All opinions are truly my own.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Have you seen Study Dog?

More and more companies are coming out with phonics programs, which, in my humble opinion, is not a bad thing. According to an article in the Huffington Post, high schoolers are reading books appropriate for fifth graders. If my child was in that group that needed help, I would do whatever it took to improve their ability to read. This isn't a subject a parent should take lightly. It's not like that marine biology class that may never be discussed again. This inability will follow them all their lives.

Though there are programs that help the struggling older reader, the time to really focus on reading is when they are young. Finding a program that engages the short attention span of most little ones is so important. When your child asks to do another lesson, you know you are on to something.
Study Dog looks like it would hold the attention of any young child. Its engaging, colorful format looks more  like a fun game than a learning tool. You'll also find tools for charting your child's progress, which, according to the Study Dog website, is pretty stellar; 6 million kids have learned to read better.

The price of Study Dog isn't too bad, either. If you pay for the year, it's just $4.99 month. It's more if you pay by the month, but you can do a free 7 day trial, and then you have 30 days to cancel for a full refund. It's would certainly be worth the money for me if I still had a young child in the house.

Check out Study Dog and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blogorama Bonanza Back 2 School Event!

Welcome to the 2012 Blogorama Bonanza Back 2 School Event hosted by Jyla's Three Of Us Giveaway, Ice Fairys Treasure Chest, & Mommies Point of View. Thanks to the amazing sponsors for providing awesome products for this prize package giveaway.  Be sure to visit each blog from the linky below and enter for your chance to win more great prizes! This event will close on August 28, at 11:59 PM EST Time. Have fun!


One winner of my giveaway will get two awesome books! 
Do you try and try to have devotions in the morning with the kids? 
The second book is 101 Great Gifts Kids Can Make
These are easy low cost gifts and most can be made without help from Mom!
Enter to win both books in the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now go enter all the other great giveaways at the blogs below!

                           






Sunday, August 19, 2012

Homeschool Giveaway's End of the Summer Event!

Welcome to our end of the summer giveaway! This group giveaway has prizes valued at over $1,000 total! Taking your suggestions into consideration, we have decided to offer one winner per prize pack! There are some WONDERFUL prizes below ~ be sure to enter to win & tell your friends!

Don't have Facebook or Twitter? No problem! You can write reviews, leave comments, email your friends, and more as extra entries! See the Rafflecopter for details! Our sister site Hearts at Home Curriculum Store is offering a prize pack valued over $200!

We LOVE Homeschool in the Woods Time Travelers History Studies! Up for grabs ~ 7 titles valued at $28.95 each to one winner!

Titles: New World Explorers, Colonial Life, The American Revolution, The Early 19th Century, The Civil War in America, Industrial Revolution Through the Great Depression, & World War II.

If you win and would rather have a gift certificate, you can choose a $125 Hearts at Home Gift Certificate instead!

Discover Intensive Phonics Software is perfect for children ages 4-9. This interactive software teaches all of the skills needed to read words of any length.

The software appeals to young children with games and characters. Perfect for beginning readers, struggling readers, and children with dyslexia.

Thank you to Virtual School Resources for offering this great prize valued at $199!

Maestro Classics presents Classical Music for Kids performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra - Stories in Music CDs!

This giveaway, valued at over $150 includes a special collection of 9 Stories and Music CDs: Peter and the Wolf, The Story of Swan Lake, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, My Name is Handel, Casey at the Bat, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Tortoise and the Hare, Juanita the Spanish Lobster and The Soldier's Tale.

Bright Ideas Press is offering a Mystery of History package to one winner! Winner's choice of 1 Volume Package below!

Volume 1 $148 Value: The Mystery of History Volume 1, Super Supplemental Collection
Volume 2 $85 Value: The Mystery of History Volume 2, Notebooking Pages, Coloring Pages
Volume 3 $105 Value: The Mystery of History Volume 3 Student Reader, Companion Guide CD, Coloring Pages

A+ Multi-sensory Interactive MATH Curriculum - Premium Edition. Winner's choice from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1. Retail Price: $125

Full-year MATH curriculum with comprehensive course contents and "to-the-point" multimedia lessons that include audio, computer animated visuals and text. Also included are worksheets, exams, parents' solution manuals, recommended lesson plans, electronic grade book, and more! Click here to checkout samples, videos, and read more!

The Homeschool Village, owned by my friends Jenn Perry and Jamerrill Stewart (a contributor here), is a great place for homeschoolers! You will find encouragement, reviews, and everything homeschool related here.

Frugal tips, great links, field trip ideas and more abound at The Homeschool Village! Check it out today!

They are offering $100 Amazon Gift Card! Think of all the cool things you can get at Amazon!

I LOVE Confessions of a Homeschooler! Erica offers so many wonderful things - everything from tot school to elementary printables & digi scrapbooking stuff! Lots of FREE printables and great things to use in your homeschool!

This giveaway, valued at over $75 includes: Letter of the Week, K4 Kindergarten, Expedition Earth, Road Trip USA, Composers, Artists, and Lit Units!

Alphabet Alley is offering a wonderful package that will make a perfect Christmas present! Yes ~ Christmas will be here before we know it!

Alphabet Alley provides toys that engage the souls of children while introducing God’s Word into their hearts.

This giveaway, valued at over $50 includes: 1 Child is Born Magnetic Playset, 1 Happy Birthday Jesus Jigsaw Puzzle, 1 Christmas Go-Fish Card Game, 2 Child is Born Sticker Sets, 1 In A Manger Matching Game, 1 Our Wedding Day Jigsaw Puzzle, & 1 Our New Baby Jigsaw Puzzle!

All About Learning offers programs that teach thoroughly, so your child can succeed amazingly! One winner will receive a $50 gift certificate that can be used towards any purchase!

All About Spelling is a complete, comprehensive spelling program with no gaps.

All About Reading is a scripted, open-and-go program developed for busy parents who want to teach reading in the most effective way possible.

Ready to enter? We will draw one winner for each individual giveaway package above. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. The more extra entries that you do, the better your chances of winning! Mandatory entry - Subscribe to our Giveaway Blast!

It wll be helpful to know your top 3 selections in case you are drawn as one of the winners! You can leave that info below in your comments. :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Review: Discover Intensive Phonics by Reading Horizons

Don't you find that our kids are expected to know so much more at such an early age? I remember when my oldest was going into first grade. I had only thought about homeschooling at that point. She had gone to preschool each year for the typical Mommy & Me at 2, a couple of hours in the 3year-old program, and a half day for the 4 year-old class. Then she went to a private Christian school for kindergarten. My girl was learning fast and I just knew she would do well once she got to regular school.

You can imagine my surprise when my little rocket-scientist-to-be brought home a letter from her teacher telling us that she would be put in the lowest reading group. The LOWEST! I read to her every day! She knew how to read several of the books I read to her daily. I just could not believe she wasn't in the top group! Wake-up call! Evidently, the school she was in for first grade had an amazing pre-K and K program and most of these kids were on a third grade reading level. 

So, I scrambled. I bought a popular reading program (this was over 10 years ago) and got to work. The program was phonics based, and she took off reading. Within about a month's time, she was in the group just under the top level. It was a lot of work, but we did it. I only wish I had known how important it was to prepare her before she got to first grade.

When I was asked to review Discover Intensive Phonics by Reading Horizons, I jumped at the chance. I try to bring my readers the best educational resources available. The website looked amazing, and I couldn't wait to see what the actual program looked like.


I have to say I was initially overwhelmed when I got the package. For purposes of the review, they sent me a lot of information so I could really see how the program works. I must also add that this program is currently used in many school systems. I really love that they have a program for young kids, but also offer a different program for older struggling readers. According to a recent article in Huffington Post, high schoolers are reading at a 5th grade level. From that article:

The results come from "What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools," a report by Renaissance Learning, Inc. The data covers book-reading records for the 2010-2011 academic year among 2.6 million students in grades 1-12 from 24,465 schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

I don't know how you feel about those statistics, but I find it frightening. As parents, we need to take back the responsibility of being sure our kids are reading at grade level. 

Using this program is easy once you understand the layout. The teacher's guide is in units and sections, and you'll find extras depending on whether students have had phonics instruction. Once you get the hang of the guide, you'll find the instructions easy to understand:

"At the conclusion of this lesson, students will begin to practice writing their names. Provide each student with a sample of their names written on lined paper."

This lesson continues with vowel instruction for the letter "a." That is all you will do for the first day. I have to add here that for homeschoolers, you could easily go through several of the lessons each day. I love that the program teaches writing, as well! You will also see different styles of handwriting so you can use whichever style is used in your child's classroom if they are in school. This is important as schools want the students to stick with one method.

The program I received also came with 4 readers. I like that they don't make the readers look like they are for 4 year olds as we often need to use them with older kids.

There is also an elementary CD provided with further instruction to maximize the program's materials. All in all, this system would be perfect to use with a beginning or struggling reader.

This program now comes as a software download, as well, making it even easier to use all it has to offer. You'll get a user name and password which gives you access to lessons. Each time a lesson is completed, your child will have access to other lessons. I think most children will be able to sit on their own to do these lessons, with a parent waiting in the wings in case they run into a problem or question. Future lessons are locked, which would be incentive to my kids to work at a good pace so they could unlock the next lesson! Your child will also learn vocabulary words after completing each lesson as this program boasts 10,000 vocabulary terms. Again, the student can earn points to progress to the next level. You even have options to change the way the background looks and make the voice a female voice or male voice, depending on your child's preference. 

Once your child has begun reading you will be able to access the library where you'll find 225 non-fiction passages from topics on sports to world leaders, and ranging from level 1 all the way up to level 12.9. You will have everything you need to prepare your child to be a fluent reader with this program.

After looking over both programs, I would definitely order the software over the books version. That's just my opinion, but I know most kids would rather be on the computer than looking at another school book! It would be a nice break from their other classes, too. 


If you have a child that is not reading, or not reading well, you need to check out Discover Intensive Phonics from Reading Horizons. Don't take my word for it. The company offers a 60 day money back guarantee. In fact, you can even try the program right now for 7 days for free. 

I would love to hear about your experience with phonics programs, and especially with Discover Intensive Phonics if you've used it. Please share in the comments below. 

I received a program from Reading Horizons in order to write this review. All opinions are my own. 

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