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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair Update!

fair button 2-001As 2-year-old Emmie would say: Oh my Gawsh!

When I put out a call looking for bloggers who would be interested in helping to create a virtual homeschool curriculum fair during the month of January, I was hoping to find a team of 5-6 homeschoolers who were willing to share some in-depth posts on what is working in each area of their kiddos’ home education.

I now have a list of 18 bloggers who’ve expressed an interest in participating! And I’m still getting messages. And some questions about how this is all going to work…

Can I say that I’m excited to get started…but also a little flustered with so many people watching?

But, you know what? This isn’t about me. I can see that this is going to be an awesome event that we can all benefit from.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks.

What is the 2012 Virtual Curriculum Fair all About?

It’s end of the calendar year and, for many, the middle of the “school” year, a time when home educators tend to evaluate what they are doing with their kiddos and how well it is working. Sometimes we realize we need to make a change, either right away or for the coming year.

But we’re not always sure, exactly, what that change needs to be. There’s a plethora of homeschool reviews on the internet (I’ve written quite a few myself), but reviews often don’t give you the whole picture. There have been plenty of things I’ve reviewed that seemed great the first few weeks I used them…but 8, 9 weeks later, suddenly the gears start grinding and what I thought was a perfect fit for one of my kiddos needs some major tweaking or even a replacement.

Sometimes a sound, well crafted program just isn’t the right program for your child.

The idea behind the Virtual Curriculum Fair is to give other homeschoolers a peek into what you are doing with your kiddos that works for you and why.

You can write about a particular curriculum that you use. You can talk about a particular method. You can talk about a book that you use as the basis for a study. The purpose is not to promote any particular product or service, but to share wisdom. What you write about is totally up to you (I will give a few guidelines later, but I promise, they are brief and meant to help, not hinder).

Give us a true picture of how you do things in your learning environment. We don’t expect unicorns and rainbows.

What changes did you make? What did you throw out or ignore? Is there a subject you simply don’t cover? Why? Is your child having specific issues that you needed to address? Did you try 4 different expensive math programs, only to find out that a free program on the internet was the answer for you? Tell us about your journey.

When I got the idea to create this Virtual Curriculum Fair, I wanted to benefit as many people as possible, not just this circle of readers or that circle of readers. With so many participants, that might be a bit of a challenge, but this is what I’ve come up with.

This will be a “blog carnival,” running through the month of January 2012 and hosted here at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds.

Each Monday, a new theme will be introduced that concentrates on a field (or fields) of study:

  1. January 2nd---Playing with Words: the Language Arts. This theme can include phonics, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, literature, etc., etc., etc. Latin and foreign language studies could also go here.
  2. January 9th---Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and some Science. This theme can include anything to do with mathematics, mathematical thinking, numbers, arithmetic, symbolic logic, critical thinking, and math-y sciences (physics, chemistry, etc.).
  3. January 16th---Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science. This theme can include history, geography, world cultures, worldview, biology, botany, geology, etc., etc., etc.
  4. January 23rd---Seeking Beauty: the Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World. This theme can include any of the arts, as well as handicrafts.
  5. January 30rd---The Nuts & Bolts: Pulling it all Together! This theme can be really practical, and include any helps you use for organizing, making plans, keeping little ones occupied, remembering to do your laundry, etc., etc. Or you could take a spiritual approach to it. I encourage you to use this week to explore how you get it done,whether it’s due to scheduling and planning or putting your faith in a higher power or somewhere in between.

Each Monday, participants will post their article for that week’s theme and send their links to me. At the end of the day, I’ll add all the links to my post here and email participants the complete list of articles which they can then add to the bottom of their own posts

So, how can I Participate?

The question has been asked: Do I need to write a post every week to participate?

No. Much as I would love to have each and every participant write about each of the themes, I know all about how we all have lives outside of our bloggy selves. You may participate as much or as little as you like and still be a part of this project.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Email me at or leave a comment on this blog post with the following information (note, I will post an intro to the Fair before the end of the year with everyone’s blog links):
    1. your name as you would like it to appear
    2. your blog’s name
    3. your blog’s url
    4. your email (I won’t share it with anyone, but I need to be able to contact you, you’ll see why in a minute.)
  2. Start thinking about what you want to share, now and get writing.
  3. I will send out a reminder via email of the next week’s theme each Friday. Not to nag you, but because we all forget things sometimes.
  4. (UPDATED) Post your article to your blog anytime between the Saturday before that week's topic goes live on the host blog and Monday at 9pm EST (that’s UTC/GMT -5 hours). In other words, for the second week, you can post anytime between Saturday, January 7 and Monday, January 9 at 9pm.
  5. Email me at with the direct link to your post and the post title.
  6. Once I have all the post links, I will send emails out to all participants with the complete list. I ask that everyone copy the list and add it to the end of their own post. You will be giving your readers instant access to all of the articles and the backlinks will be good for everyone’s blog.
  7. Encourage your readers to take their time throughout the week visiting the other blogs and reading the articles. If the Virtual Curriculum Fair goes well, we just might do it again in 2013!

Are there any post guidelines?

Just two: be honest and be civil. Winking smile

I think you’ll see that the themes are pretty fluid and some subjects could easily fit into more than one theme. If you feel your post topic fits with the theme, go for it! As long it is about how your are educating your children, you will not get a message from me telling you to post it next week or whatever. Seriously, this is your Curriculum Fair as much as it is mine.

You can write about curriculum, yes, but you can also write about teaching techniques, philosophy of education, resources you use, a favorite book you like to use, pretty much anything.

It does not have to be all positive, either. Maybe you’d rather talk about what didn’t work, was a bad fit, or a waste of money. That’s perfectly fine. Just be specific. The more details you can give, the more you are helping others.

Maybe the way one of your children learns math is completely different from how another does…and you want to talk about how you were still able to accommodate them both with the same curriculum by supplementing or making other adjustments. That’s just the type of thing we want to hear about.

You can compare competing products (as long as you’ve used them both yourself). Or tell us how you combine products. That’s also fine. I know often when someone is reviewing a product, they are not allowed to mention other products by other companies. That’s not the case here.

I encourage you to include pictures or even video of your children using whatever you are writing about. Especially if it’s a project based curriculum, we would love to see what the hands-on activities are really like. Pictures can make things much clearer.

But, most of all, have fun with it. Participate as much as you would like, but don’t feel obligated if you are busy with life one week (or more). If you find that you have more than one post to contribute in a week, I suggest that you post any additional ones later in the week and then make sure that your Monday post links to them.

How can I show everyone I’m in the Virtual Curriculum Fair?

This is totally optional, so only display it if you want to. It points to the “2012 Virtual Curriculum Fair” tab above where I will link all the relevant posts and information. The button will display at 150x150 pixels which will fit most sidebars comfortably:

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Did I leave anything out? Feel free to email me or post any questions in the comments. Thank you so much!


  1. This sounds great! January is going to be a weird month for me but I'd love to try and participate. So here's my info, hoping that I can actually pull it off:

    1. Lori @ NotSoSuperwoman
    2. NotSoSuperwoman's Homeschool, Reviews, and More

  2. Susan, I sent my info to your email. Thanks for the button!

  3. Would love to participate.Just sent you an e-mail.

  4. Great Joelle, I just sent you an email back. ;0)


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