Monday, February 25, 2013

A Blog Planner Review

I have never gotten into the habit of planning my blog posts. I just wrote reviews and in between wrote about homeschool activities and other things my children did. While I have been blogging I always noted my review posts on my regular monthly at a glance calender in my lesson plan book.  This way I could see what was coming up in terms of reviews as well as other activities so I could plan field trips and writing commitments. I just wrote other blog posts when I thought of something or had the time.

Now as a member of Mosaic Reviews I once again have regular reviews to write and post on my blog. In order to keep from just having reviews on my blog I need to become a little more intentional about writing on other topics as well. Since I have more flexibility with those topics I need to be more organized in blog planning. Thus reviewing a blog planner is a great first review.

Recently I took a look at the Yearly Blog Planner created by Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations. She has graciously made it free to download from her blog.

In the blog planner download you will find:
  • Monthly at a glance calendars
  • Weekly calendars with two weeks on a page
  • Checklist for reviews and giveaways
  • A list to keep track of link up
  • An Ideas in my head list
  • A page for listing website user names and passwords
  • Checklists for keeping track of affiliate information
  • Social media checklists

There are other blogging help forms as well, but these are the ones I see myself using the most or first.

Jolanthe has described in detail how she put together her own blog planner in both words and pictures. These are very straight forward and simple, so it should be fairly easy to make a dedicated planner using the blog planner printables and a 3 ring binder.

I put my blog planner together somewhat differently. First of all I did not make a separate blog planner instead I put the pages I am currently using in the front of my planning binder. Secondly I printed them only on one side as I really don't like trying to write on the left side of a three ring binder with the rings under my hand. I know this will use more paper in the long run, but its not as annoying to me.
Most pages of the planner feature a simple plant or butterfly picture which enhances the design rather than distracting from the information on it. Thus it is designed to be printed in color. I like the simplicity of the page design as it is pleasing to look at, yet is not distracting. There is plenty of space for each entering information each day on both the monthly and weekly calendars. I did find the lines for the idea page and website info pages to be kind of small and when a number of lines were used on a page it became trickier to read. I really like the space for jotting down all the important details about a product for a review or giveaway. Being able to write down all the specifics about a website and product will save me so much time when writing a review and double checking my information. It will also help to have these specifics in one place on a full size piece of paper, not on scraps all over my desk.

This is a very comprehensive and complete blog planning system.  It features space for recording so many more details and information than a small time blogger like I would use, yet at the same times provides space for information necessary to blog growth and maintenance. This blog planner would be great for a blogger who would like to grow and improve their blog as it provides a lot of room for personalization and at the same time reminders of many things bloggers can do to make their work more visible.

Several other members of the Mosaics Reviews team also used and reviewed this planner. If you would like to find a blog planner, but don't think this one would work for you, other team members reviewed other planners as well. You can find links to all the reviews at the Mosaic Reviews blog.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Have We Been Up To ?

Despite my intentions to write weekly I just don't seem to get it done. I think it has now been three weeks since I wrote last, but here are a few highlights.

One of the selections in daughters literature book is the Phantom Tollbooth in a drama format.She has loved the movie since she was really small, but has never read the book. So she was very excited when she ran across this selection in her book. We decided to skip ahead to it and have been reading through it the last two weeks. We had to recruit little brother to read with us ans there are so many parts. Thankfully he reads well so he can do it with us and I think he is enjoying it as well. Because they were familiar with the movie they knew what the story would bring, so I had them draw a map featuring the places in the story before we started reading. We have completed reading the script, but have some analysis to do yet. I also plan to include some background about the author as well as make our own lapbook.

In history we have been talking about Ancient India and China. So far we have mainly just read, but I am hoping to do some projects and activities this next week. Both Daughter and Son enjoyed hearing and reading about the Terra Cotta Army.One activity Daughter did was try her hand at Chinese calligraphy. She didn't use paint or brushes, just pencil, but had fun with it.

Earlier this month we went to the homeschool class at our library. The theme was the human heart and heart health. They reviewed how the heart works, thought about exercise and its benefit to the heart, made a simple model of blood flow in the heart as well as using a stethoscope to listen to their heart.

On a different note, I have started reviewing again with a brand new review team, Mosaic Reviews. Mosaic Reviews is a great group of people, some whom I already know from other things I have done online and other people I look forward to getting to know. This is a sister program to Homeschool Mosaics, for which I am privileged to write a monthly column. I have already received several nice products to use and review. The first reviews will be posted shortly.

Hopefully in another week I will have some more interesting activities to share. In the meantime we'll keep plugging away and looking forward to spring.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Hodge Podge of Activities

Well its been several weeks of good intentions for writing here, but it hasn't happened.

But even though I haven't written, I have taken some pictures so I'll share them and briefly explain them.

The first pictures is a sample of cookies my 11 year old daughter made. When we go to the library I insist each of my children pick out a minimum of 1 fiction and 1 non fiction book each. One week Daughter picked out a cookbook,decided she wanted to make something and picked out cookies. They are a simplified version of Black and Whites. She made these pretty independently. I helped her find a couple supplies and with melting the chocolate. They were quite tasty.

Both of the children have been interested in the Solar System and Space, but Son seems to have a longer lasting, greater interest. He has been studying constellations for science lately. One day they both decided to make a picture of the solar system. They simple put together 4 sheets of black construction paper and used a variety of art supplies to make the planets, asteroid belt, and stars.  Although they don't show up to well in the picture there are clusters of stars in each of the four corners of the large picture. These stars of made from Glow-in-the-Dark fabric paint. (The only glow in the dark material they could find at home.) While it is faint, they do glow somewhat when the light is first turned off.

Another fun activity around here has been playing/experimenting with the Snap Circuits set they received for Christmas from an Uncle. I am not sure, but I think the project pictured is a flying saucer type project. The ride discs spins while the motor is on and when it turns off the disc lifted up and flies off a short distance. They are both enjoying all the projects, but the first time they did this the end was a very neat surprise. Needless, to say Snap Circuits has been used quite a bit since Christmas.

Last week we also spent several hours one day at the local history museum for their homeschool day with the theme of The Civil War. This included a couple one person theater productions and two classes learning how to read and interpret primary source documents. One focused on written documents and the other on maps, photos etc. Craft time featured the opportunity to make banners or pennants similar to Regimental Flags from the war. Attendees also had the opportunity to view the special exhibit about the Civil War. Many of the events explored the unique situation of Missouri during the war. Part of the reason for that was the governor left his office and joined one side and a good portion of the rest of the state went to the other side.

For read alouds we are working our way through one of the volumes of the My Book House collection. I happened across these on the sale table at our library shortly before Christmas. I had heard about them before and so when they showed up there I grabbed them. Even though a couple of the volumes are below my childrens' interest level, we have been enjoying many stories.

Daughter has finished her Chemistry course so I want to share some of her projects in a separate post.