Homeschool Helper App: Review and Giveaway!

Record keeping for homeschooling isn’t always easy. Although I live in a state with minimal requirements regarding record keeping, I keep lesson plans, grades, field trips, and attendance in a notebook so I can easily see where we are. My main reason is to help me stay on track and know where my girls are at in their learning. In the past I was spending a good hour or so at the end of the week grading and recording grades. Bleh…not my favorite part of homeschooling, but definitely something I felt was necessary. 

When I purchased my iPad one of the first apps I wanted to download was the Homeschool Helper App. I had heard of it about a year ago and really liked what I saw. This very functional app is available for iPad, Android tablets, Nook Color, and in the Amazon store for Kindle. The $4.99 cost is well-worth it once you realize all this app can do! In addition this is a one-time purchase with no need to pay for updates. 

The first thing I noticed about this app after installing it is just how pretty it is. Many of the life-management apps I have looked at are very functional, but also very sterile. I love the look of the opening screen for this app because it feels so personal. I quite often have my steaming cup of tea by my side as I work on record upkeep and I’m very much a pencil and paper kind of girl for the most part. Using this app makes me feel happy and not like I’m turning into a technology zombie. I appreciate the effort that the creators put into making this eye-pleasing in addition to being extremely functional. 

As for the features, wow there are just so many! As I began to use this app I would find myself enjoying features I never thought would have been included. One I particularly like is the inclusion of field trips. We try to take 1-2 field trips a month as a family. I kept a mental list of what we did, but now we have a formal list. I do not have to report at the end of the year to our state or create a portfolio, but it is really nice to be able to look back and see some of the fun we’ve had. 

I can add as many students as I want which is a nice feature for families with lots of kids. My three girls were very easy to setup. My oldest two are receiving letter grads and my youngest daughter receives effort based grades. I like being able to have it both ways and that I have the ability to set how the grades are calculated. I can also enter up to 14 subjects. I thought that was more than I could ever need, but I ended up using all of them for my oldest daughter because I included things like art and computer.

The lesson planning feature allows you to input lessons for each day and every subject. You can also track what lessons have been taught and which ones are still waiting to be covered. This would be very nice for families who create their own curriculum and lesson plans. Since we follow a pre-planned curriculum this has not proved as useful for me. I do make a weekly checklist but it is still fast for me to do this as a pencil and paper project than it is to type into my iPad.

I really like the grade calculator because I prefer a points based system and the grade calculator allows me to do that and then quickly input the number onto the subject page. I would prefer a points only system as and option since that is what I’m most comfortable with using, but this is working out fine. 

I printed report cards for my girls last week and they were so beautiful! I easily sent them to my e-mail and now have a lovely printed record of my girls grade including their school name, attendance record, and exact grades.They are attractively designed and look as formal as traditional report cards. 
A lot of thought and time has been put into the creation of this to make it as user-friendly as possibly for homeschooling families. It was intentionally created as self-contained with no need for the internet so that it can be used 100% of the time. This is nice for us since we do not have 3G capability on our device. The only feature I could think of that I would like is to be able to set quarters and semesters at the beginning of the setup. Right now I can print grades from any date range and create my own quarters/semester. 
Take a moment to also learn a little about the family who created the Homeschool Helper App! They are homeschoolers and I think this is very evident from how easy and functional this little app is.
Now for the giveaway!!!! One of my readers will be blessed with a code to receive this for free for the iPad app!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Disclaimer: I was provided with this app for my iPad for free for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received. 

Every Homeschooling Momma’s Dream: A Laminator!

When I started homeschooling my girls I began perusing all the sites and printables. I kept reading, “You can laminate these to be used over and over!” So I looked into laminating at an office supply store. At nearly $3.00 a page this is just not a reasonable option! Little did I know I could actually have laminating in my own  house! 


I was so excited get the opportunity to review the new Purple Cow Laminator from MyBinding.com! First of all, how fun is that name? Who can’t love a Purple Cow Laminator? I have no experience with any laminator except those incredibly huge ones in schools on those really big rolls. Do you remember those? I taught music for two years at a week-day summer camp where I laminated up a storm. They were so hot when they were finished and I was always afraid I would burn myself on them. Not to mention how big the thing was. 

When this laminator arrived I was shocked at how small of a box I received. This was just the first of many pleasant surprises about this laminator! 

It’s also so cute! I love the purple color and it’s compact size makes it very easy to leave out so I can use it whenever I feel a whim to laminate something…which is happening more and more. 
I mentioned that there were several things which surprised me about this laminator. Here is a list…

1. It’s both hot and cold (There is such a thing as cold lamination?)
2. A home laminator is a much simpler machine than I imagined.
3. It is ready quickly, within about 7 minutes.
4. Laminating pockets are AWESOME!
5. It never really gets hot and the resulting lamination is nice and warm. 
6. The whole process is mostly hands free.
7. I can laminate up to 13 inch pages!!!!

So here is the process…

1. Plug in and turn on the lamintaor.

2. Choose the hot or cold switch depending on your laminating pockets. 

2. Place your page to be laminated in a laminating pocket.

3. Feed the pocket into the tray and let it go once the page is “grabbed” by the machine.

4. Wait patiently (Not very long though!)

It’s really that simple! 

When I’m not homeschooling or just being Mommy around the house I’m teaching piano to 24 students. I am so incredibly blessed to have this part-time job from my home. Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time making games and activities especially for my younger students to aid them in their music lessons. I have often thought that laminating these items would be a wonderful thing, but laminating is so expensive. Because of this long-held desire I chose to laminate some of these items first! 

As you can see it’s completely hands free! I remember when I used to laminate at the school I taught at I had to hold the paper on the way in and straighten the laminating roll on the way out. It was really a pain. This little beauty just grabs the page from you and does it’s job. Fabulous! Here is one of my lovely ladies trying out our newly laminated music game!

The second thing I laminated was…don’t laugh…plain colored paper. I know that seems silly, but when I tell you why you’ll understand! My oldest girls share a bedroom and a closet. They are very close in clothing sizes, but not yet close enough to share clothes. They often get their clothes mixed up. I laminated purple and pink pages (My girls’ favorite colors!) and hung them in the closet as dividers. Voilà! Instant organization makes this Mommy happy! 

I think my favorite feature of this particular laminator is its size. I’ve already mentioned that it is compact, but I honestly didn’t expect to be able to leave it out all the time. It sits on the top of the shelf and is so pretty too. My daughters of course love it because it’s purple! 

While I can’t compare this laminator to others similar to it, I can tell you that it exceeded my expectations for a home laminator. I was even impressed that when I cut the edge of the lamination too close I could fix the seal by refeeding it through the laminator. It also comes in a 9 inch version

Take a look at the whole Purple Cow line at MyBinding.com. They have great customer service and are quick to answer e-mails. You’ll love doing business with them!

*I recieved this laminator from MyBinding.com in exchange for an unbiased review. No other compensation was received.