Book Review on Charlotte’s Web By Gino Simpao: Why I Enjoyed it



Charlotte’s Web is a story of a pig named Wilbur. He lives in a farm with a bunch of other animals, but only developed a good friendship with Charlotte, the spider. They became friends because Charlotte was the friendliest of all the animals, she was always available to talk to, and she was kind.

I enjoyed this book, and looked forward to reading it everyday. Let me tell you the reasons why. One of the main reasons is what I told you about earlier. It is their friendship. Their friendship felt very special. Charlotte was a perfect fit for Wilbur. Whenever Wilbur wanted talk to her, she would always listen, and she would be very positive and encouraging. She was the one who helped Wilbur with his main problem.

Secondly, I loved how the story was very exciting. Each chapter had something for me to look forward to. There was never a time where the story became boring or dragging.

Next, I was very fond of  the different characters in the story. There were the geese, the sheep, the rat named Templeton, and even the humans. The different personalities made the story more interesting and amusing. The conversations among the animals were also very funny and witty.

Overall, I highly recommend this book because of the good friendship, set in an exciting plot, with interesting characters. I hope you read and enjoy this book as well.

Sneak Peek on PHC 2016’s From Roots to Wings’ Session on Starting Your Homeschool Journey

If you are attending the 2016 Philippine Homeschooling Conference: From Roots to Wings, after the oh so relevant and powerful keynotes speakers,  there are various workshops in the afternoon dedicated to address the various seasons or concerns of every homeschooler.  I was assigned the topic on Starting Your Homeschool Journey,  If you are just about to start, or would like to  refresher  or some recalibration, come to this session.

It is my prayer and desire to be able to assist each one who decides to attend this workshop as they launch into the wonderful, amazing, exciting, faith stretching, pruning, heartwarming, memorable, truly worth it , once in a lifetime experience of HOMESCHOOLING!

So, here is a sneak peek.. summarized in three words and three simple introductions on what we will be able to take up in 45 minutes.



It is the beginning. It is a a new chapter in your life.  Or it maybe, there may be a need to re-start and jump tart. Hopefully, we get to give you some principles and yes, practical tools on creating your learning environment, learning about educational philosophies, learning and teaching styles, “classroom” set up/management, scheduling .


You are not simply bringing home your child’s former school into your home. This is YOUR journey. It is personal, it is unique and yes, you will have to carve up YOUR own path. Many principles, materials, best practices, and joint classes can be shared with other homeschoolers, but in the end, it is YOUR JOURNEY.   Let me help you, carve YOUR own journey,


Whether you plan to only do this for a year or for a lifetime ( haha, there are days that homeschooling will feel like that though),  it is no SPRINT. I would like to see it as a marathon where you need to know   the distance and the distractions/disturbances/detours /dangers/delights that will lead you to the finish line, prepare well for it, and enjoy the ride, or should i say the run! It won’t be easy and you’ll need a whole lot of commitment, but there are amazing rewards along the way and if you finish well, wow, wow, wow is all I can say.  I will try to guide you as well as you prepare to tackle  the day to day “to dos”  yet have a solid grasp on the bigger picture of homeschooling.

Let me end this short introduction with this saying from  Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. ” 

Luke 14:28-29 Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you.

phc-2016-from-roots-to-wings-fb-banner to register!

3 Weeks to Go to the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 !

I would like to make an appeal to all homeschoolers to make time to attend this once a year gathering of Philippine Homeschoolers !  Consider it a wise investment for your homeschooling journey.  I can assure you that it will truly be more than “Worth it”.  I still vividly remember the first big conference I attended at the St Francis Square with Ms. Debra Bell, the author of the The Ultimate Guide for Homeschooling (available locally at Learning Plus Book Store).  And  I still remember the warmth, the peace, and assurance that filled my my heart after listening to her speak. One thing I remember quite well, and still find myself quoting her again and again.  Though not verbatim, this was the most  impactful message for me then, “Instill the love for learning! Oh, your children will have many gaps for sure since we can’t attempt to cover everything. However, when your children come to the point that he realizes he has those gaps, he will gladly and passionately learn what needs to be learned. So chill!”

This year’s line up  is truly exciting. Imagine 4 keynote gifted speakers tackling these life changing, essential homeschooling /parenting topics? Mother-Daughter Homeschoolers, Ms. Deonna Tanchi- Ms. Joy Tanchi will tandem teach on “Building a Firm Foundation“.  An international well sought after speaker and education expert, Mr. Andrew Pudewa will be handling, “The Art and Science of Helping Children Learn Well” and superb and dynamic speaker, founder of the Catholic Filipino Academy, Mr. Bo Sanchez  will share about,  “Leaving a Legacy for Our Children.” If these powerful messages do not encourage you to homeschool forever (Joke only!), and to do so with a bigger, worthier picture in mind, I really don’t know who or what will.

To get a better view of what’s in line, here is the planned program:

screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-10-05-17-pm screen-shot-2016-09-30-at-10-05-31-pm

 Wow,  I am so excited to see from the details of the program that as the conference’s title clearly says, “From Roots to Wings: Homeschooling Through the Stages”, this conference indeed meets every homeschooler or soon to be homeschooler where they are currently at!

Wait, did you see my name on the program? Yes, I will be handling one workshop on “Starting Your Journey” with the emphasis on “Your” as I will try to help homeschoolers personalize their journey as they carve their own homeschooling paths!  Oh, please, click here and register soon. And if you are part of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines Facebook Group, wouldn’t this the perfect place to finally meet all the other homeschoolers and so we can actually engage with one another beyond profile photos ,updates and comments?

Apart from all this, I so love browsing (yes, can’t shop much since our last homeschooled son (of 4) has all the hand me downs and shared material from his older siblings) in the exciting expo ( 50 or so  booths) of homeschooling/parenting material! I remembering purchasing my most favorite and most used material and learning tools from homeschooling conference expos!

Just in case, you are not yet convinced to join us this year, I searched online for more reasons to attend this year’s homeschool conference, and viola, guess where I was led to?  Our own keynote’s speaker, Andrew Pudewa’s blogpost on “Why Attend a Homeschool Convention This Year?”

“Teaching is the overflow of the soul of the teacher to the soul of the student.” To do that, of course, the teacher’s soul must be full. Yes, we can read stuff. We can watch videos. We can pray. But for so many of us, the busyness of life makes all those things we can and should do to fill ourselves up somewhat less important than the crisis of the moment. (And in homeschooling, there always seems to be a crisis of the moment!)

In reality, a conference is a retreat—a place to gather with like-minded people, see and hear new ideas, ask questions, and contemplate. Even if the talks you attend aren’t the “incredible” talks that change one’s life, there are ideas everywhere, and I’ve found that one small idea from an unexpected source can improve my life forever. Sometimes those ideas don’t even come from speakers or workshops, but from one-on-one conversations with other homeschooling parents.

So, see you there! If this post made you finally decide to click and register, do leave a comment at the end of this post, please!

P.S. I’d like to personally invite you as well to support Visions of Hope Foundation booth as it participates to raise funds for educating and caring of poor children in our country.  They will be selling new elementary and high school Philippine textbooks (in marked down prices)  along with  foundation shirts and mugs.  The Homeschoolers of the Philippines pins will be sold in this booth as well.  Visit us, ok?


Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”


National Homeschooling Day Tagline Making Contest is On! Join Now!



Here are the mechanics:

  1. Only members  of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines, Teens and Tweens Homeschoolers of the Philippines and Homeschooling the Early Years  FB Groups are eligible for join.  
  2. Multiple entries are allowed per family.
  3. The tagline must be original.
  4. The purpose of the tagline is to promote homeschooling.
  5. Email all entries to Include your full name and mobile number in your submission.
  6. Deadline for all entries will be on Oct 19, 2016,12 noon.
  7. Winning tagline will be announced via Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page and the family will be notified via email. Winning tagline will be used for all marketing and event collaterals for the first ever National Homeschooling Day for the Philippines on March 3, 2017.
  8. Prizes include Family Passes (2 Adults and 2 Children) for Kidzania-Manila, Pure South Organic Products Gift Pack, Assorted Homeschooling Materials for the entire family, Homeschooler of the Philippines shirt and pins and a Star Wars Umbrella. Prizes are worth around 8,000 Pesos!

Processed with MOLDIV



Making Science Come Alive Part 2 : The CardioVascular System

So, we’ve covered the basic cell and how these cells are viewed as part 1 of this Science series.  Since our homeschool microscopes are not as versatile or powerful, we can either ask them to draw using a simple worksheet the various images (usually there are pre made slides in a microscope kit) of various samples of “tissue’.  Or you can make your own simple slide of hair, a tiny speck of dust, water from pond, or even your own blood ( if you can prick yourself for some sample).  We can opt to just google for “microscopic image of _____________” and let our students copy and color using the same worksheet  and identify them.  As they do this, you can read aloud more about the cells they are copying. We worked on copying a bacteria, fungi and a heart muscle cell (as part of our upcoming lesson).   You may opt for other cells like an amoeba, a virus, skeletal muscle or skin cells.  The options are limitless. 

We also did to make play dough images of some cells we learned about.

The skin ( Epidermis, Dermis with the hair and glands, blood vessels)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)

At this point, it would be good to remind your students that  a billion/trillion cells make up a organ/system in your body.

We then proceeded to discuss the Cardiovascular or Circulatory System.    When kids encounter big words as such, be sure to train them to try to understand these words by trying to get into root word analysis.  You may also introduce a bit of Latin as well and explain why anatomy terms mostly are based on Latin words.  Cardio – heart, Vascular – Vessels or passageways for blood. Circulatory – circle, or circulate.  It is a continuous cyclical process of pumping and receiving blood. So with the remaining play dough we had (oh these tubs were awesome finds, maybe 10 years ago from Toy Station in Rockwell) We had all colors! Now were down to the last tub (like an ice cream tub), pink and it suited us well. A doctor friend really thought it was closely resembling a hear which we dissected in anatomy class way back. We first read about the heart/circulatory system and watched some videos . You can ask your kids to take notes as you watch.  You may opt to use these templates  or worksheets to demonstrate basic parts of the heart. Here is another video. With a good model or diagram to follow, Gino then has a go!


Can you identify the basic parts? Right Atrium, Tricuspid Valve, Right Ventricle, Left Atrium , Mitral Valve, Left Ventricle, Interventricular Septum (This is an opened up view of heart, if you lift the front covering. Ask your student to get the amount of dough equal to his fist, that is approximately the size of his heart. Now here is a tip:  Arteries- AWAY. They bring oxygenated blood AWAY. Arteries, Away.  As for Veins… forgive me here.. VACK. as in Back. They bring blood blood back to heart/lungs for oxygenation. There are a few exceptions like Pulmonic Artery, brings blood from the Right Ventricle to the Lungs for oxygenation .
A Breast surgeon friend said, “Wow, may coronary arteries pa.!” Arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood! We had to do that so I could explain what happens in a heart attack!

Forgive me for my excitement but now that the students know the basics, we can spice it up a bit by giving some examples of abnormalities or illnesses of these organs. I punctured a hole in the wall of the heart that decided the left and right side and said, many babies are born with holes in these walls. Many naturally close at some point but others may need surgery to close the hole because you can’t have blood from different chambers mix!

Then you can even go further and demonstrate what happens with blocked arteries that may cause hypertension or even a coronary attack ( heart attack! Please remember attack involving the decreased or lack of oxygen to the heart is a heart attack while that which involves blood supply to the brain is a cerebral stroke.   Can you google what is the medical term for a heart attack?  Comment below for your answer. If you want to extend the lesson, you can even talk about Healthy Practices in keeping your arteries clog free!

He actually should not be smiling here because his artery (using play dough and a toilet paper roll) is completely blocked!

If you have a stethoscope at home, have a go and listen to each other’s heart!  Count the beats per minute. Use Math here. Multiply the number of beats per minute  x number of minutes per hour, then hour many hours per day and viola, you can figure out how “awesome” our heart is!  While you’re at this, do some 5-10 minutes exercise and listen to your heart again. Your kids will truly be amazed at the big difference in  the beats per minute soon after you  move around!  Without a stethoscope, you can use your own pulse taken using your index finger on your inner side of wrist or on your carotids in your neck. Try to get your own pulse.  Do not use your thumbs for they have their own pulse! For older children, you make them research about the common pulse points and let him/her demonstrate such as this! You can assign a pulse log so he can see variation within the day! How exciting? Sorry! am really a nerdy Science person!

As mentioned, I super love relating seemingly Academic Stuff to “deeper stuff”.  I would probably use the verse below as we start the day and eventually relate it to our Science lesson on the heart. How does one spiritually and physically guard ones heart?  Wow, that’s a valuable application exercise , right there!

Oops, there was just so many things to share about this system, we will have part 3 then for our genetic material/ DNA topic. Have a heartfelt, heart full session with your students!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.


Making Science Come Alive Part 1

I love Science. It is just so fascinating.  I still remember devouring that TIME magazine issue in the late 1980s featuring the amazing discoveries about that immune system. That and all the World Book Encyclopedias on Health really propelled my quest to earn my degree in Medicine.  Though Medical School was tough, the awe and fascination for the wonders of Science lingered.

I guess, that’s why I am a very enthusiastic Science teacher.  I have this feeling that I will do the subject such injustice if our Science lessons become boring and tedious.  I have to say that these materials have helped make our Science Come Alive:

So here is just a sample of what we went through in Science the past weeks. Our lessons were:

  • Cell and Cell Theory
  • Microscope/Use of Microscope
  • Parts of the Cell
  • DNA / Introduction to Genes
  • Plant/ Animal Cell
  • Cells->Tissue->Organ->System
  • Cardiovasuclar System
  • Introduction to the Hematologic System ( Blood)

When I think of how to teach a specific lesson, I always consider the following:

  1. How to  make it interesting and applicable
  2. Integrating the various senses ( Sensory Activation/ Integration) through use of interesting videos, doing step by step projects, looking for stories that can also reach out to other aspects of the student’s life ( emotion/ character/beliefs)
  3. What is available ( and of course, the 3 Rs of reuse, reduce, recycle) : Materials and Reference Materials/ Models
  4. Relate it to current events
  5. How to turn lessons into unit studies and find connections with other subjects (Sometimes, I can only find connections to one subject, but there are times, a whole unit study is born) .
  6. If Art projects can be incorporated

As I keep all these in mind (sometimes I take notes , but many times, ideas comes in a spur of the moment fashion), I then mix, combine, balance and alternate.  I try to intersperse lessons so as no to create information overload,  note taking fatigue or boredom: a bit of lecture here, then a video there and then working on steps in a project later on.  Is there a formula? No, just trust your instincts or better yet, a more “scientific”basis would be to observe your student’s non verbal ( or verbal, if they’re bold enough) cues if they need a break or need to spruce things up a bit.

So let me share with you our lessons through photos:

It’s good to start with the basics of Microscopy and Cell Theory.  Simply because the students need to understand how “microscopic” cells and details have been discovered and visualized.  We purchased a basic middle school level microscope with 1200x as highest magnification many years ago and with 4 children, it was a good investment. I think it was less than Php 2000.00 then.




You may use a simple worksheet template for this as well.  You can also check some youtube tutorials on the use of a basic microscope.

In trying to explain cells or atoms,  I used to use styrofoam as a learning to tool.  However, we had this cloud foam product for the longest time in a cabinet of boxed toys/activity kits. Oh wow, what a treasure ! It looks like cells and they attach together like play dough! Eureka moment indeed.



And so we go deeper in the the study of cells : structure and parts. Many years ago with our older boys, we did the edible cell in our homeschool Monday Gang,  The cell was made of rice, vegetables and macaroni uncooked noodles.  (I’ll try to look for a photo!)  The cytoplasm was made of rice glued as the floor on an illustration board and the organelles were from carrots, cabbage, onions, mongo seeds and other veggies that resembled the cell parts.  The cell membrane was made up of elbow macaroni!

This school year, we decided to follow Apologia Creation Science Anatomy and Physiology Textbook’s activity using everyday pantry or kitchen stuff.  We improvised on a few things. Look!

Can you identify the main organelles in our cell?




So we then proceeded to  cells make up tissues and groups of tissues make up organs.   Look at Gino’s heart, lungs and liver!


I’m getting too excited here but will have to take a break!!!!   Watch out for Part 2 as we delve into a the Circulatory System and dissect the DNA!


1 Corinthians 12:12-20

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

The Magical World of Read-Aloud: Make It a Habit

I began reading aloud to our children when they were inside my womb.  And since I was pregnant every 2 years for 8 long years, there was a lot of reading going on and whether you were around me or inside me!!!! You see, our eldest son loved bedtime and yes, nap time stories!  We began exposing him to giant 8×10 photos of faces at a few weeks old, board books at 2 months, giant picture books when he could sit at 6 months and books with simple plots around 10 months or so.

Oh my, we have memorized so many books because  there were all time favorite ones that had to be read again and again.” We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one, I am not scared! ”  “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree,”  “And I’ll huff and I puff, and I’ll blow your house down,”  “Pip-pero-pembo-rosa-rembo, char-bari, ruchi-pip peri-pembo!”  “…. The spider didn’t answer. She was very busy spinning her web.”  ” I do not like them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse.I do not like them here or there.I do not like them anywhere.” and so many more lines !!!

So, when our eldest was around 15 months, I was pregnant with our 2nd who most likely enjoyed the daily, and yes,  twice daily bonding of stories through books our eldest would pile up when it was time for nap/bedtime. And somehow that was our story, for the coming babies and toddlers.

It has been 18 years since I started reading to our children, and yes I am still at it with our  2 youngest  children for bedtime.  I am thankful that homeschooling all of them has made READING A LOUD a given, something that’s all part of a day’s work.  But reading a loud never seemed work really, it was really precious bonding where adventures happen, questions are asked, minds are opened, hearts are aligned and imaginations are ignited.  I can still hear the giggles, the shrieks of suspense, and loads of laughter as I try to recall the amazing books we have shared together as a family.  I can still remember how imagination and humor have tweaked certain stories  eventually turning them to  laughing sessions! Yes, laughing until your eyes start to tear—those were precious times indeed.

There are so many articles out there.  Evidence abounds.   You can search or read a few here.  Experts say it only takes 15 minutes of Reading Aloud a day to make a world of difference.

So, please, while your children are young, carve out that time and make it a habit. You’ll never ever regret it, this I can promise.

Here are some simple tips to make reading a loud a habit:

  1. Start them young.   Yes, while at the womb and just keep books around, available and accessible for every stage of their growing years.
  2. Choose good books. From  board to picture books,  from Bible storybooks to actual chapters from a book of the Bible, from simple stories with rhythm and rhyme to simple storybooks, from short stories to chapter books, from short novels to biographies, there are thousands of titles to choose from.   You can check this list.  Try to include local material like the stories from Adarna House,  OMF,  or Tahanan Books.  Some of our favorites were: “Chenelyn, Chenelyn, Putot, Ay! May Bukbok ang Ngipin ni Ani!”  For young ones, avoid those books with characters they see on TV or on gadgets.
  3. Establish a routine that best suits your schedule. It takes two to Read-A-Loud. It will only work if both the reader and the “reedee”  ( haha , invented my word there!) are both available and up to it. Parents can take turns.  Bedtime seems best but if breakfast is more doable, then make that your daily habit. If daily is not possible, then aim for maybe 3x a week . Make up on weekends!  For as long at it is happening, then that is good. Consistency and sustainability are important to maximize the countless blessings of this habit.
  4. Turn off all gadgets during READ-A-LOUD time, yes, including the reader’s phone.  Or,  make a “no gadget rule for bedtime!”
  5. With older kids and chapter books, you can assign portions to be read by your child. And for a shared experience, do not read ahead. Discover the book with your  children.
  6. Try to “live” the story.  Change tone or type of voice depending on who is speaking. Adjust your “reading” depending on the mood of the story.
  7. Be affectionate and show how eager you are to bond.   Do lots of hugging, tickling and hugging!
  8. Do book exchange with a group of friends (but don’t rush to exchange the book that your child is  attached to, okay? ) so you don’t have to spend.

All four children read on their own now.  Though, I am still get to read to my younger children (ages 13 and 11) , I know these precious days when I can still have their complete attention are numbered. So, here I am sharing with you to encourage you to pick up that book, let  the other things on your to do list, wait and read-a-loud.

Proverbs 18: 15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

The Manila International Book Fair 2016: Top 10 Picks and a Bonus!

I think I was absent in the Book Fair scene for more than 5 years. This year, the only reason I went was because I needed to go to DFA for my 3 children’s passport renewal  appointment. Hello!!!  DFA Aseana was like 5 minutes away from SMX MOA.  How could I pass the chance?  I also saw it as a field trip for my youngest who has never gone to such a huge assembly of books in our country! The fair runs from Sept 14-18, 10AM -8PM. Tickets are at Php 20.00, Php 15.00 if students can present their IDs!

My kids are not very fond of “shopping” or “window shopping”.  It may be  because 3/4 of them are boys and my only daughter may have formed a similar view through the years.   They are very practical people. Buy what you need then go.  Given my own commitment to stick within the budget and never to make the same mistake of hoarding material in the early part of our homeschooling years, we agreed 90 minutes, which extended to 2 hours because I kinda got lost.

It is unfortunate that the event’s website is down:( at the very time, it needs to be up and running. It is down now as I write.   Try it again another time, maybe it will work. So let me direct you to their FB page. They have the entire itinerary there for the different workshops ( some free, some with reasonable fees).

I am not attempting to make a comprehensive post. How could I given 2 hours to walk through aisles and aisles of more than 200 exhibitors/publishers?   So, let me just share my highlights. My top 10 picks!

  1.   Seeing our preschool material once again: Sing Spell Read and Write.   My 2nd son couldn’t help but reminisce as he looked at some of the story books that were part of the kit. Yes, we did it all: All About, Off We Go, On Track, Raceway, Grand Tour 1 and 2, and yes, even a very old edition of Trophy Workbook.  Having 4 children, we were ok to get the  Pre-K set and the Combo set since we were going to reuse all of the material for sure for the the kids. I just purchased the manuals separately. Oh how I loved this material!  Deonna Tanchi was the one who recommended this set to us. It was also a blessing that Teacher  and Reverend Pat Capwell of the Institute of Foundational Learning ( a good friend of Sing Spell Creator Sue Dickson) offered her expertise in training many homeschooolers, around 10 years ago in CCF Alabang. Yes, I am a certified Sing Spell Read and Write Homeschooling Teacher!

This material is being sold by Mind Mover Publishers. Check out their other materials on their website!  I liked the fact that they were selling the material separately (workbooks, books) but they were pricey. The All Aboard US edition workbook was being sold for 1.200! Ouch!  The agent mentioned a price of $357 plus 20% shipping fee for the entire set. (I hope the agent was referring to the Combo set -Kinder  and Level 1). We purchased this more than decade ago for something around Php10,000  (through a balikbayan box I shared with a co-homeschooler). It was super worth it, having 4 children! The pre -K kit was then around $80.00.





This is a rare sight: an almost 6 footer 15 year old laughing over some of the SSRW readers!


The entire set I am referring to looks like this:

2. Meeting Jolly Phonics for the first time.  Jolly Phonics from the CD Book International Inc Booth

Knowing sounds first before the name of the letters!   This is similar to the principle of Sing Spell Read and Write !   The agent I spoke with mentioned that many preschoolers in the UK are moving towards using this principle.  Several PAREF preschools in Metro Manila are into Jolly Phonics.

Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children and teachers, who can see their students achieve. The letter sounds are split into seven groups as shown below. ( uk)




Some of books offer “tactile” experience as children use their fingers to trace the letters, similar to the Montessori way of using sandpaper, sand, or materials with texture.



I love it that the material seems to be very FUN to do with your children ! The materials range from Word Books at Php 380.00 to Workbooks/ Student Book sets from Php400 to Php4000.  Classroom Aids are from Php500- Php 5000.  Starter Kits/Classroom Kits/School Kit Editions range from Php 37,000- 160,000. I am hoping though you can pick and choose and buy some of the material per piece. I was really JOLLY looking through their material!

3. The Php 100.00 books   (Sorry, I forgot the name of the booth! Just look for the stash of books that’s arranged as seen below!!!)

I am fond of listening to videos by Pastor Francis Chan 🙂
A good preschool workbook for Filipino!
Time for Christmas Shopping?

4. Character Books @ Php100.00 each from Paulines!   If you buy 5, it’s Php90.00 each. Sister Mildred  T. Chan said the more you buy, the more discount is given.   These are also sold in Paulines Stores in SM Malls and online via  I am not certain if discounts are only  given at the book fair though.  You may email for inquiries.




Look at the vast issues discussed! This could be entire Character Education Curriculum!

5. Homeschool Add Ons!  Wow,the biggest protractor, compass and triangular rulers! I also forgot the booth name but you won’t miss this for sure. S-K-E-L-E-T-O-N ALERT!


“ANG PROTRACTOR! BOW!” We had a laugh trip with these… What if you were in a regular school and was asked to bring a protractor, and you brought this!

6. Brother Sewing Machine at National Book Store ( Powerbooks at the malls,however, can offer 3 month installment for BDO cards). The sales person at the booth mentioned that these are only offered via straight payment. We love BROTHER. Our 5 year old machine is still working well:)



7. Fully Booked offers 20 percent off! I have been wanting to read a full length book by Angela Duckworth.  I listened to one of her Ted Talks on Grit and wanted more. So happy with this find! Take a peak and listen to the video posted.

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8.  Php 65.00 for each of these Modern Heroes for the Filipino Youth by Bookmark.


9. Though I only managed to touch the first copy off the press, I actually had my best surprise : seeing the entire team behind this pioneering project!  The 3 writers, Ms. Joonee Garcia, Ms.  Michelline Suarez, Ms. Divine Reyes and illustrator Mr, Benjor Catindig.  Copies of public consumption will be available tomorrow.

It is like Mystery of History, Story of the World, or Horrible Histories series….Filipino Edition!
Ms. Joonee Garcia, the sweet girl with orange tote is my husband’s batch mate in high school. She has been my children’s piano teacher for several year, truly an amazing artist and educator, and now a writer. You never fail to amaze me, Teacher Joonee!

Get your copies from Tahanan booth for a discounted price of Php 150.00!

10.  Beautiful Card Sets by Vidal Tan, a boy with autism . Php 20.00 !  Yes, no typo error, Php 20.00 for a set at Bookmark.




And my BONUS for the day, yes for the 2 hours I had alloted was,,, drumroll please…..was seeing my “young padawan” Ching Tan-Sy.  Yes, she was part of a disciple group of teens I was leading while I was in college. Oh wow, 200 booths, dozens and dozens of aisles, 10 hours of the opening hours, 5 days of the book fair and I only alloted 2 hours and viola, we end up in the same booth at the same time, with our homeschooled and formerly homeschooled kids! Isn’t that  more than amazing???! It’s quite telling of our seasons…. she was purchasing Math materials for her  preschooler and I was getting College Review Test Booklets! This was indeed a highlight of my day!


So don’t you agree that was the most productive 2 hours ever?

I am not sure if these will help , in case you want to plan your “moves” for your visit (and avoid the traps! I have noticed though that some booths had really awesome set ups and displays! They may be quite interesting to visit with younger children!). I can imagine how full it will be over the weekend, so I guess, it is best to really check the places you’d like to visit so you can have a better strategy with these images I’ve uploaded.







Ladies and gentlemen, “My Manila International Book Fair 2016 Haul! Bow!”

Piled up!
Spread out!

And best news, I was within budget!

If you’d like more tips on how to maximize your visit, please visit  two posts from fellow homeschoolers: Que of the and Teresa of Thank you, Que and Teresa!




Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” 
― Charles William Eliot

Homeschooling and the Bigger Picture! Don’t Get Lost in the Daily Grind


We chanced upon our box of puzzles recently and have begun doing puzzles before we started our lessons this week.  These puzzles must be so happy. Some have faded, or lost a piece or two but truly seeing them all brought back happy memories of homeschooling our 4 children.

When our set up was more geared for the preschoolers and lower primary years,  we had various boxes for puzzles, tinker toys, blocks, play dough,  card games, pretend play stuff  or music tools. Activity sets were gems for those who had multilevel children.  They were valued in terms of “how long it can keep your child engaged” currency!!!  This was important as you tried ( and tired!) to teach 4 children at the same time!

Our puzzles then ranged from 4  to 200 pieces.  Gino, who has not seen these puzzles for a while, was just too excited to be reconnected with them!

However, I noticed that he struggled with one set and needed my help a bit.  I sort of gave reminders on how to attack a puzzle. At that very moment, I  recognized that the main challenge for him was not having the “bigger picture”.  Since the boxes of  the puzzles were bulky, I had thrown them away. So there was no image to base the puzzle pieces on. We had no idea (or totally forgot) what that  puzzle was all about.

It then dawned unto me how this often is a the scenario for many homeschoolers. We can get lost in the daily tasks and lesson plans, we can get lost in putting the pieces of the the so called puzzling life of a homeschooler and totally forget the bigger picture.  Before we know it, a little bit of irritation or frustration here and there  snowball into discouragement and desperation.  If you need to see the bigger picture again, please check out a series of blog posts on setting a good homeschooling foundation and working on the bigger picture for your homeschooling journey.


The “big picture” is our true North.  Our compass on  tough days. An  anchor to remind us to  press on.  My son could have gotten so frustrated but he puzzled on! Without a literal “image” to base how pieces fit together, he had to rely on some tactics in creating the image from “scratch”.   Such is life, right?


Eventually, the image became clearer. We realized it was “duck mailman” putting letters on different mailboxes. As he “envisioned” the image more clearly,  the task at hand  became easier  and he became faster in fitting the pieces and eventually completed the puzzle. Well, that’s what we  thought was coming until we realized we were missing one piece. Such is life indeed. You can try and do what is within your control but in the end, there will be glitches.  There is no perfect way to educate our children. There is no perfect school, and yes, there is no perfect homeschool.


For as long as we have set our goals, and know where we want to go, for as long as each day somehow brings us closer to that goal, then all will be well.  We then must know  the “image” of our puzzles, with the pieces representing each homeschooling day.  That’s how we stay on course and press on. Remember the pieces won’t automatically fit together, right? So, you really need to PRESS ON.

Apart from creating a solid  foundation (with the links I have uploaded in this post) of our own homeschooling, participating in milestone homeschooling events is also one good way of recalibrating and realigning ourselves to our goal. I really look at homeschooling conferences as BIG picture events.  It’s such an amazing reminder why we have chosen this journey as homeschoolers.   It is also the best way to get all pumped up and receive all the encouragement that can last you all through the years of your homeschooling. May I  then invite you to consider joining the Philippine Homeschooling Conference 2016 this October?  Please check this link to know more about this exciting event coming for all homeschoolers of the Philippines.  To register, click here.



Provers 29:18 ( The Message) “If people can’t see what God is doing,  they stumble all over themselves;  But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed.”

P.S. If you can incorporate puzzle activities for multilevel kids, go ahead, It’s really a superb, mentally challenging way of bonding with one another. See what cooperation can do!!!! Similarly, in pushing the homeschooling movement here in our country, we all have a part to play: a puzzle piece to contribute so let’s join forces and see each other on October 22, ok?

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Effective Stress Busters for every Homeschooling Parent!

Let me share with you how I have somehow reduced unnecessary stress with some very simple tips. Stress is Life’s middle name. It is inevitable.

One of the most important advice is  to shut your phone off! If you have a landline, let your loved ones call you there for emergencies.  Check your phone only during breaks. If this is the only thing you can safeguard and apply, you would have removed a whole of stress in trying to homeschool our children while being connected to all our contacts! 

And yes, there are many ways to reduce the amount of stress we face as we homeschool. Let me share my tried and tested tips.

Homeschooling is a teacher mommy or daddy’s full time job. Just like any other occupation, homeschool teaching has its own set of challenges and so, we also need to find ways to learn how to reduce stress  in our workplace , the homeschool classroom.

So here goes:

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  1.  If you truly believe in the power of prayer and meditation, make it a number one priority for the day.  We may differ in the manner / timing this is done.  Most prefer to do it at the first hour of the day while the kids are still asleep, however there are those who would rather do this at the end of the day.  Of course, the are days, we rush or miss out on this precious time, but don’t ever let that be the norm.   The battle they say is won on our knees.
  2.  Dress up, and look good:)  I don’t get motivated if I homeschool in home clothes. That’s just me. I feel better if I am dressed in ready to go clothes and yes, with fixed hair and some make up.  I am also ready for surprise visits, or if I suddenly need to leave.   Sometimes, when I have more time, I actually put more make-up.   Lest all the make up (which most moms have too much off) expires, and become harmful, by all means, use them. I’d rather have a toxic day looking smart and well than having a toxic day and feel “ugly.”
The day I wore red! Why not ? ( I never wear red so at least, I can while we homeschool!)
The day I wore red! Why not ? ( I never wear red so at least, I can while we homeschool!)

3. Move!  Find an activity that will make you move: running?  a sport?  a dance class? or simply be your child’s PE teacher! Learn badminton together, or aim to run 2 or 3 km and watch youtube tutorials on specific sports!

We love tennis!
We love tennis!

4. Keep your workplace in good condition (with  an acceptable level of organization, reduce the stress points in your classroom  <eye sores like clutter, excess amount of material, misplaced stuff, “i don’t what to deal with you” papers/ things>.


5. Do something new or  different every week (or if it works for you, do such things more often). Fly a kite on a windy day,  take a bath under heavy rain, or just take your books and work in a coffee shop, in a park or in bed!

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6. Reconnect with friends from your childhood!  I have found regular reunions with people you grew up as one of the most effective distressing times. There is just so much laughter as we look back! Ang says!

Here with classmates from Grade 2! We joined the Mega Magazine Independence Day Campaign! In return, we got a free makeover and shoot! We’ve recently become more deliberate in seeing each other regularly. A few couldn’t make it for the shoot but these are some of my  grade school besties, Noreen (right), then Mian and Michelle (left).

7. Be a blessing to others. Make it part of your agenda to encourage others.  Be purposeful and deliberate. Remember it says in Proverbs,  “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed!” That is so true!

Here with German volunteers, Mona and Matilda for Visions of Hope.
Here are my friends in the Vision of Hope's Rose of Sharon Boarding Facility for Homeless street children. I taught them how to make yarn pompoms:)
Here are my friends in the Vision of Hope’s Rose of Sharon Boarding Facility for Homeless street children. I taught them how to make yarn pompoms:)
Celebrated morning of my birthday with these lovely ladies of Rose Sharon:)

8. Take time before homeschooling session to jot down your non-homeschooling “must dos” in a notebook or planner.  Check the list out during breaks or while your children may be doing independent work ( which is a luxury ! ).  Do not  attempt to do a non homeschool task which you are sure will consume too much time during breaks.

9.  Involve children in helping with chores or assisting you in organizing your working area ( Today, Gino assisted me in organizing receipts, wrapping a gift and putting plastic cover on a book.) Gino helped me deal with a box full of receipts!

Gino was my assistant today! Thank you, Gino!

10. Make it a habit to declutter your hand bag, to reduce its weight and try (I struggle here) to keep it organized and neat. And always put car keys and parking ticket in the same place all the time. Nothing pressures me more than having a abyss-like bag and endlessly digging to find what you need!

If this list is overwhelming, try to choose 3 to start implementing and see the difference in your stress levels! Hope these work for you!  If you have more to add, please feel free to comment!


One more thing,  attend a regular activity with other homeschoolers to destress and know you are not ALONE.

Educating for Life Coffee time for homeschoolers
Educating for Life Coffee time for homeschoolers.

Why not join this year’s HAPI (Homeschoolers of the Philippine Islands) and Educating for Life’s Philippine Homeschooling Conference come October 22, 2016?

I will be involved as one of the workshop speakers, please come! Click on this link to register now!


1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.