Reading “Shiloh” for the 4th Time and Still Loving It!

Gino is about to complete his reader for this month, Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This will be my 4th time to read and discuss this material in maybe 10 years as it has been an  a required reader for all of our 4 children.

This was how the first copy looked around 8 years ago. I think I borrowed and reborrowed a friend’s copy and eventually bought our own copy. The cover has even changed! See below.


For some readers, I began using  some accompany workbooks or supplements to help “maximize” the learning experience.  I have used the Total Language Plus  (TLP) series for other titles like Charlotte’s Web, The Cricket in Times Square, The Wheel on the School, Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe, Christmas Stories, Twenty One Balloons, Where the Red Fern Grows, Courage of Sarah Noble,  The Whipping Boy and after using Total Language Plus several times, I started doing my own DIY version of  book review lessons/ extensions of Reading via notebook activities.  For non TLP titles, I just either created exercises and reading comprehension questions in notebooks or downloaded study guides or activities.

Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.
Online, Total Language Plus materials may be ordered from; Locally, Learning Plus carries these titles as well.

“Shiloh” is a fairly easy read for levels 3-5 with some guidance on some “slang” or even colloquial terms.  It deals with a very familiar, close to home “kiddie”  subject: “a beloved animal/ pet that needs to be saved.”  Both boys and girls will easily get hooked with the suspense and captivating plot.

Set in an Appalachian town of West Virginia, devoid of all digital modernities children are so accustomed with nowadays,  Marty and all the other characters become a part of very thought provoking, interesting yet unsettling plot.  The twists and turns are exciting and you would not be surprised if your child asks to read more than the assigned chapter for the day!

I appreciate the ways in which this story will allow your children to think through their motivations, their plans, and decision. It will give you a springboard to teach valuable moral lessons on honesty and integrity, righteousness, respect and honor.

It will provide the venue for you  and your students to dig deeper on the areas of compromise,  rationalization and justification and of the  questionable belief that “the end justifies the means. ”

In this world of uncertainties, where the  boundaries of right and wrong can be made to appear blurry, this material is truly spot on in challenging our children to think and reflect.

The book costs  about Php 290.00 from National Book Store or Fully Booked. Truly worth every peso!  Every chapter is overflowing with opportunities for deep reflection and pondering.  Your children can easily draw valuable insights from the situations presented in the the story!

To create lesson extenders, or to help you have a richer experience of the story, you  can download good study guides on it by just googling the key words : Study Guide on Shiloh, Reading Comprehension Questions for Shiloh, Lesson Plans for Shiloh. I particularly liked this one and we’re completing it this May 2017.

My daughter who loves to draw, paint and do Arts and Crafts painted her own version of “Shiloh” when she read the same story several years back.

Raya read the book, "Shiloh" for her HomesCool Reading/Language Arts. It was a story of a boy and a beagle. We then had some lessons on how to draw a beagle and then she did this on her own.
As her Art activity,  Raya painted “Shiloh” using acrylic on canvas.

So, I encourage you to give this book a try.  It may hook you to the habit of having good and well thought of discussions with your students!

James 1:22- 25 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Gino’s Book Review: Why I Enjoyed “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”

Happy and blessed 2017 to all. Hopefully, this post will start the ball rolling for this blog that was put on hold for the holidays and CHRISTmas celebration /trip.   I hope I can say that I will attempt  one post a week in 2017 (my husband Gilbert actually suggests 2 short posts a week)as one of my New Year’s resolution.

Well, I’d like then to present my first post for 2017.  It is made possible by my guest blogger, my only remaining homeschooled son , Gino (check what he is up to at IG #ginosgimmicks)! Enjoy!

This is our 4th time to do this book in the Simpao Homeschool !
This is our 4th time to do this book in the Simpao Homeschool !

Claudia Kincaid is an 11-year-old girl who wanted to run away from her monotonous and unfair life at home. She chose her brother Jamie, who was the second youngest of her three brothers to go with her. They both went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and stayed there for a couple of days. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, one of the characters in the story, narrates this book.

I enjoyed this book for several reasons: the first is about Claudia and Jamie’s relationship. Any brother and sister could easily relate to them. Their arguments throughout the book made it very entertaining and amusing. But despite their arguments, they always had to agree or compromise so they could continue their adventure.

The next is the mystery of the story. It added a huge twist in the book. It went from just their everyday lives in the museum to them trying to solve a mystery about the famous artist known as Michelangelo. It made the story a lot more interesting. As a homeschool lesson, it was very helpful because I was also learning about Michelangelo as I was reading this book. We were learning about him through our Read-A-Loud book “Michelangelo” by Diane Stanley.

A Sonlight Recommendation

I also love how the book is very detailed. The author included many unnecessary, but very humorous parts. Another reason is that the story is told by one of the characters, Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler. She added a lot of funny side comments.

Overall, “From the Mixed Up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler” is a wonderful book. It is definitely in my top 10 most favorite books. I recommend this book for 10+ year olds. I hope you give it a chance, and love it just like I did.


James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.


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.

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.

img_9279 img_9280

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

Curriculum Counseling!

The first question non-homeschoolers ask homeschoolers after they have learned about your decision to home education your children is most likely about socialization issues. The first question that most homeschoolers ask each other will most likely  be about curricula/ homeschool providers.

I still remember Deonna Tan-chi’s (one of the pioneers of homeschooling in the country) story about heading to National Book Store soon after they decided to homeschool to purchase all the locally produced textbooks of their children’s levels. Without the information online then and all the material available now, her options then were less and simpler. She just found a way to make it work with their 5 children.    After homeschooling 4 children of 4 different levels, I can truly say that  the abundance of homeschool materials can be seen as a double-edged sword. You can either swim and drown or you can swim and do a wonderful stroke with  the sea of materials!

I really can’t put a comprehensive list of what’s out there. Wow, I will drown! This post will probably have a part 2 in actually sharing with you my personal journey with our own curriculum but for now let me share with you some important principles in decision making re curriculum.

1. What works for others, may not work for you thus a certain level of trial and error may be necessary.  That’s why it makes more sense to borrow first if you have friends who have gone ahead. However it you choose to borrow,  treat material with respect always. It ain’t yours, dear!

2. Regarding purchasing material, you can waste money in rushing, hoarding and bandwagon decision making.  Know what you have and know what you need. Do not purchase add-ons for books with lessons or subject matters that are easily taught online too.  Use what you have first.

3. Once you have decided, stick to your material and abandon only when absolutely necessary.

4. Choose material that:

  • can be used and reused for multilevel kids.
  • suits what you hold dear in terms of learning and education principles (educational philosophy)
  • contain assessments (seatwork, quizzes or test if that is valuable for you or is a requirement in your chosen provider)
  • suits the learning style/s of your student/s, taking in consideration their developmental stage as well 
  • the is doable for your current set up in  terms of time, availability, abilities
  • enhances creativity and promote real-life connection and application
  •  is within your homeschool budget

5. Your decision to go independent or hook up with a homeschool provider may affect your choice of materials.

Some providers may require only a limited type of material or may require that you use the material they publish.

The list below is no way comprehensive but having been in the homeschooling circle for over the decade now, here are some materials that’s been widely used. You may google each one to find out more about them. Just type away and you’ll get a wealth of information about all of these material.

  • Sing Spell Read and Write
  • Kidstarter Curious Curriculum (
  • Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
  • Easy Grammar
  • Rod and Staff
  • Bob Jones University
  • Five in a Row
  • Horizons (part of Alpha Omega)
  • Alpha Omega Publications (Lifepacs)
  • Living Heritage Academy Paces (School of Tomorrow)
  • Abeka
  • Apologia Science and Apologia What We Believe Series
  • Singapore Math
  • Saxon Math
  • Charlotte Mason Program
  • Mathusee
  • Spellusee
  • Calvert Homeschool Program
  • Seton Homeschooling Material
  • Mystery of History
  • Story of the World
  • Eps Publishing
  • Voyages in English
  • Catholic Filipino Academy
  • Science by Pearson Publishing
  • Following God series
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • Sonlight Curriculum
  • Filipino:  Binhi, Liwanag at Landas, Sanghaya
  • Social Studies:  One Country, Pluma, Philippine Pride, Kayamanan
  • Books by Adarna, Hiyas, Tahanan and Lampara
  • and due to pandemic homeschooling: so many online resources including Deped Commons on Facebook

Am sure, I’ve missed a whole lot more. Please do write on the comments below if you would like to suggest other material for our readers.

Let me share with you what we’ve used these past 13 years!

Sing Spell Read and Write Pre K Level
Sing Spell Read and Write Combo
Sing Spell Read and Write Combo
Sonlight Pre-K
Sonlight Readers
Apologia What We Believe Series
We tried this for several years before switching to Apologia What We Believe series
We tried this for several years before switching to Apologia What We Believe series
Apologia Exploring Creation Science Series (
History is no longer a mystery! Our favorite!
Another favorite. Mathusee! Thank you Steve Demme



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Rod and Staff’s Language/ English Books
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For thorough Philippine History or researching or storytelling



We tried Binhi, Liwanag sa Landas and Sanghaya for teaching Filipino but ended up using lots of story books/ chapter books and a Filipino Conversation teaching guide.

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Another favorite!



Got this from Powerbooks 10 years ago
These 2 books were available in Fully Booked BGC 8 or so years ago.
Fully Booked
Fully Booked
Fully Booked
Typing from Data Blitz
Typing from Data Blitz

This post was originally written on my 13th year of homeschooling, around 5 years ago. Many more materials have come in, so many online resources are now available.

See this diagram and I hope this helps you decide.  Happy choosing and homeschooling!

For Goodness’ Sake, Take Time to Study Shakespeare Part 2


To prepare us for our Shakespeare unit, we began with learning as much as we could about his life in general.  In addition to that, it really helps to have some sort of idea on the major lessons in ones homeschool calendar so you can somehow adjust the activities before, during and after the unit so you can prepare and supplement we with the other lessons that happen in ” class”.  I knew months ahead that we were doing Shakespeare early this year so already had the following:

Purchased this from Fully  Booked. I must say, it is such an interactive, delightful book.
Purchased this from Fully Booked. I must say, it is such an interactive, delightful book.
My son read his life story last quarter for his Reading.



Just to add a bit of fun, we added a bit of Elizabethan (ruff) fashion to our favorite Hippo's get up,
Just to add a bit of fun, we added a bit of Elizabethan (ruff) fashion to our favorite Hippo’s get up! A dear friend also lent us some valuable resources!

It was also  so timely that theater group, Rude Mechanicals Theater Company ,through good friend and our children’s piano teacher, Ms.Joonee Garcia invited us to the  preview  of their presentation of  “Twelfth Night”. Thank you, Joonee!! If you’re interested to gather a sizable group to watch Shakespeare, contact this theater company, leave a comment on their webpage.

We were able to view several scenes. Though the English script was challenging to follow, we got it!We got confused, there were a bit of disguises, there was love  and a whole of things going on,  and yes this theater did in 1980s fashion, yes complete with 80s music! So when we went back to our books and research, we learned about the plot of this play.

Prior to beginning the unit, I saw these two for Php 75.00 in Book Sale SM Southmall.

Don’t expect much for 75.00 pesos. I could imagine how difficult it is to make a Shakespeare play into a reader for children. Together with King Lear, there were areas for grade improvement in grammar and writing! But they served their purpose, the children read each of the stories and got the plot and the elements of Shakespeare’s literary work.



Usually, the teacher reads the assigned chapters or pages in the readers in advance. A list of new words are identified and students can be asked to find the definition and use these words in sentences.  Spelling tests can be done. Open ended reading comprehension questions can be laid out.   Answers can be oral or written. When certain parts of the story relate to real life or current events, you may decide to pause and discuss.

I mentioned several links in the previous blogpost on Shakespeare to extend your Language Lessons. Our lessons and activities on puns, homophones and homonyms were really fun!

For Language, we focused on this compilation of famous lines and phrases from Shakespeare.  Isn’t he brilliant?   The kids chose lines and analyzed each them.





We further extended this to Filipino wherein we studied common Filipino idioms or phrases.  Knowing ahead that we will be doing Shakespeare, I made some early preparation by tweaking our Language and Filipino to focus on descriptive words or adjectives, poetry, narrating a story, elements of a story,  We had daily poetry reading for good exposure and eventually the students created their own poems.  There are countless resources online that equip teachers on how to teach poetry.  Just google it, “How to teach poetry to elementary/ middle school/ high school?” students.   Check this one out.

Soon, everyone was in this Shakespeare mood, even in fashion! Our favorite Hippo earned a “ruff” throughout our lessons. This came from those round cake placemats!

Just to add a bit of fun, we added a bit of Elizabethan (ruff) fashion to our favorite Hippo's get up,
Just to add a bit of fun, we added a bit of Elizabethan (ruff) fashion to our favorite Hippo’s get up,

Speaking of fashion, Raya wanted to research and create a “booklet” on Elizabethan fashion. So she researched and got her paints and pens and produced this!


This was the title page of Raya's booklet that opened up like a spreadsheet.
This was the title page of Raya’s booklet that opened up like a spreadsheet.

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She even got me to try and for one session became the teacher to her Mama student.  I wanted to learn how to create a Elizabethan gown.   My lack of  knowledge and drawing skills compared to my teacher daughter showed in my art work! But I so loved the experience and even hearing my now daughter saying, “You’re good Mama, You can do it.  Draw more!”  was priceless. What an encouraging teacher she was!( and she really did remind me days after that and until today to drop everything and create). Sharing with you my own version of Elizabethan gown:


We also learned a whole lot about  the entertainment and culture during the lifetime of Shakespeare. The events surrounding  the building and rebuilding of  The Globe Theater was very interesting. The bustling activities and drama (oh see, a pun, right there!)  and every day events that revolved around this theater was simply too good not to further learn about.



Check this short documentary about the Globe Theater.  If you’d like to see inside the reconstructed Globe Theater Today in present day England.

Raya,my level 6 student was learning about Circles in Math.  Do you somehow know where this is all going to lead to…. well,  how else can we best teach parts of a circle, apply the importance of learning about area and circumference of a circle?   Why not…………..   ok, this has been long!  Let me make this a suspenseful series in Shakespeare fashion!    Part 3 of this series will eventually take you to a step by step process on how we put the Study of Math ( Circles) and Shakespeare together! Time to gather all your recyclable and coloring material. Time to stretch those finger muscles and yes, let your creatively run wild!  We shall be building soon!


Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

For Goodness’ Sake, Take Time to Study Shakespeare (Part 1)

It has become my habit to check the children’s list of lessons per subject  at the beginning of every quarter  (Our homescool is set in 4 quarters per school year). I usually do this by opening the children’s textbooks and scanning through the the table of contents. For this past quarter, what stood out was “Shakespeare!”  Oh dear, did you know that “For Goodness’ sake” is attributed to the famous bard (a professional storyteller in the Medieval culture)? Well, now you do!


This type of preparation allows me to get a bigger picture of what we are all getting into and how we can incorporate certain lessons for a “multidisciplinary, multilevel and blended” type of learning.  At the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I focused on tackling the subjects separately. Eventually, I realized that  “merging” lessons from various subjects or creating lesson plans that revolve around various subjects in one activity or project seemed to be more effective.  Projects employing a whole lot hands-on activities made learning more fun and relaxed.  All of this combined made it also more doable for us with 4 homeschooling students.   For years and years, this approach made much more sense to me. In seeing the lessons ahead, I could plan to advance or hold back  (or even skip or scrap, yes scrap!) some lessons depending on how the lessons will somehow blend and fall into place for maximal learning. For instance, this past quarter, I knew  we were going to meet Shakespeare in History, specifically Mystery of History Volume  3.  I then tweaked our Language and Filipino lessons to include Descriptive Language, Poetry Reading, Elements of Poetry/ Plays. In Math, I knew that my older daughter was going to learn about circles, including solving for the area and circumference so at the back of my head, I was actually playing with the idea challenging the children to create a replica of Shakespeare’s famous Globe Theater. For Reading, I purchased a few cheap books that discussed Shakespeare’s life story and presented two of his famous plays in a way that my two level 6 and 4 students could appreciate.  (This was actually a really EUREKA moment because I had found some of these books from SM Southmall Booksale for php75.00 each!) This coming quarter, we may for Social Studies and Philippine Culture, study some of our own well know writers !!!

Just to add a bit of fun, we added a bit of Elizabethan (ruff) fashion to our favorite Hippo's get up,
Just to add a bit of fun, we added a bit of Elizabethan (ruff) fashion to our favorite Hippo’s get up. Guess where that ruff came from?

So far the Study of Shakespeare, this is what was somehow going on in my head…..


In addition to all that, I also searched for good online resources to supplement our study. Little did I know that we were setting up what experts identify as “blended learning“.  The online sources varied from simple worksheets, teaching videos,  lesson plans/text, documentaries to actual  performing arts videos. I did a quick preview of an award winning movie entitled Shakespeare in Love (and took note of the  inappropriate scenes) since the  Elizabethan language, culture, and historical scenes were portrayed well in this movie.  And of course, who could resist the beautiful Viola in Gwyneth Paltrow?  I just love how they merged fact and fiction and made it very entertaining and yes educational. The movie had the elements of confusion, mistaken identities, tragedies, deaths, and yes of course, love!  Since we already knew the basic facts from our discussion, research and reading, we could not help but appreciate (and not get confused!) this historical fiction movie!



Along the way, we bumped into a controversy ( and yes, there is an ongoing online petition calling for an investigation on the authenticity of the claim that it was William Shakespeare himself who really wrote all his famous literary works!) We listened to both sides of the argument. It was really interesting and mind-boggling!

The inspiration in tackling Shakespeare with so much excitement and passion started with this online image:


Wow, who would have thought all of these “lines” would be attributed to William Shakespeare?  As the children’s interest were ignited, I gave them this task. “How sure are we that these lines really came from William Shakespeare?”  “Do we just accept it as such just because this image says so?” ( In doing this,  I am trying to teach the children to be circumspect in curating information sourced online. This is part of making our children digitally responsible netizens.)

So I asked the kids to choose phrases from the above image and use a worksheet I created to review and study these lines.  My older daughter was assigned 10 while her younger brother was assigned 5 lines.  See her work below.


Gino, our level 4 student also had his own !


He also read a simple chapter book on King Lear and broke down the elements of a tragedy this way:

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We further extended the lessons on English to include:

A dear friend, and our children’s piano teacher, Ms. Joonee Garcia loves to lend us material that could help supplement our learning.  We were ecstatic when she sent us this  “Masterpuppet Theatre” activity pack!



Oh thank you, Teacher Joonee, through this “World of Shakespeare at your Fingertips” activity, we read lines (with some English accent,  of course), acted out, changed some backdrops on the theater stage and had loads of fun!

For Filipino, we also discussed commonly used  idioms/sayings/ proverbs.  Examples were: “suntok sa buwan, pay may tiyaga may nilaga, matigas ang ulo, itaga sa bato, makapal ang mukha” For more example, check this out!).  I ask the student to write some of these in Tagalog sentences and read them aloud.  We also read and tried to understand some poems in Tagalog.

I do not really create a day to day lesson plan because I have tried many times and  I really never end up following my plan. I also adjust along the way as we see how the lesson is progressing. Most of the time, some activities come to mind on the spot and we implement right away. There are times however that we have to delay some plan due to necessary preparation. But most often than not, we create our lesson plan “as we go”.  As much as possible, we want to be more flexible especially when the children decide that they’d like to pursue some aspect of the lesson.  For instance, my crafty and artist daughter Raya decided to do a  History and Visual Arts output  focusing on Elizabethan Fashion for Women. She was planning to create a magazine type of presentation.

Let me show a sneak peek of  some of the kids’ outputs which I plan present more thoroughly in a PART 2 post on Shakespeare.



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Watch out for Part 2!

Start thinking and planning your own Shakespeare Unit!

Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

On Clouds and Looking Up

I came home from dropping my son at his classmate’s house for carpool. My heart had been heavy and burdened with many circumstances beyond my control and then I looked up for a while and witnessed this:


I took a shot right away and reflected on how we can be so “spent” by always looking down or across.  There are so many things we can complain about when we get used to always just looking at eye level or looking down. I saw that morning’s view as God speaking to me to look up, to look to Him, the Author and Perfecter of my faith as in Hebrews 9:22 “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.” 

And so that scene of layers of clouds stuck in my mind and I asked my artist daughter, Raya (see her works in “Raya’s Room Category” in this blog)  to teach me how to create simple clouds using watercolor, water, watercolor paper and some tissue.

Here are the steps:

  1. Use water color paper. We used a small watercolor pad from Fully Booked. It was about the size of 1/4 of a long bond paper.
  2. Using a palette, put a tinge of blue watercolor paint and water it down to create a very light blue.
  3. Using a medium side brushed, dab the watered down blue and start brush in streaks like so:
Spread your brush dapped in watercolor/water across creating various shades of blue.

4. Before the paint dries off, get a tissue and start blotting off some of the wet paint and create “cloud like” patches.



5. You can add other colors or details.

Isn’t it pretty?

As we were about to end our homeschool day, we read poems from our Language textbook.  Lo  and behold, our assigned poem was about “Clouds”.  Isn’t such homeschool days simply amazing?  If we hadn’t done our Science already for that day, this lesson may have been extended to study about types of clouds, cloud formation, and weather in general. So we read the poem and thought of various ways to describe “clouds” — adjectives, similes and metaphors,  and to describe movement of clouds, using adverbs and action verbs!


This Art/Language activity is so simple. Preschoolers will enjoy it for sure.  I remember many  lessons, when the children were younger,  we had a unit on clouds and we used a  book entitled, The Cloud ( a book I got from book sale),


For older kids, you may use Science reference books or online sites.

Hopefully, this lesson lands on you on a day with bright blue skies dotted with lovely patches of clouds. Don’t forget to go out and look up. If it is cool and windy, lay a mat, and lie down with your kids. I love looking at clouds and imagining what figures seem to be coming out of the clouds.

Here are some of the amazing ones I’ve found online:

From an article on cloud formations from uk :article-2291921-188FF3B5000005DC-636_634x457 article-2291921-188FF3D4000005DC-632_634x449

All three photos are sourced from (

I cannot verify  the veracity of this photo but this caught my eye on Facebook:


The “cloudy” day lifted my tired heart and weary eyes indeed. May this activity also lift you up. After all,   it is always a blessing to LOOK UP:)


Job 37 :15-16 “Do you know how God establishes them, And makes the lightning of His cloud to shine? “Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds, The wonders of one perfect in knowledge.”

Exodus 13:21-22 “The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.?”