Educating the heart, mind, and soul in the Catholic tradition with online classes

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Friday, September 17, 2010

How to Manage Toddlers and Homeschooling

Update: The live webinar was wonderful. You can view a recording of the event by clicking HERE. (Remember to click on the Video icon at the top right corner.)

I am so thrilled to announce that Homeschool Connections is hosting a series of free webinars between now and February (aka Burnout Month). This series is sponsored by mater et magistra, THE Catholic homeschooling magazine.

Our first webinar is just around the corner and presented by Homeschool blogger, Mary Ellen Barrett. Mary Ellen's topic is one that we all struggle with -- what to do with toddlers underfoot as we homeschool.

Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (7 pm Central)
Duration: 1 hour plus Q&A
Presenter: Mary Ellen Barrett
Description: Toddlers are cute, funny and full of energy which can be both the delight and destruction of your homeschool day. This webinar will give you some tips and tricks to gainfully occupy those wonderful little people so that you can work with your older children and keep your home (somewhat) intact.

A little preview:
  • Building marshmallow buildings
  • Kiddie pool school
  • Circle time
  • And many other ideas.
Presenter's biography: Mary Ellen Barrett is the home educating mother of seven children. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic as well as being on the editorial review board for mater et magistra magazine. Mary Ellen is also a frequent contributor to Catholic Exchange. She speaks often on topics related to homeschooling and bereavement. Mary Ellen lives with her husband of seventeen years and seven children on Long Island in New York. She can be found blogging at Tales From the Bonny Blue House.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Student Video Contest; Win $50!

Homeschool Connections
It's Show Time!

Inspired by the recent YouTube videos put together by our instructors, Homeschool Connections is having a Student Video Contest!

First Place Prize = $50
Second Place Prize = $25
Third Place Prize = $10
All entrants will receive a $10-off coupon for any future Homeschool Connections live course.

The fine print:

Eligibility: Students currently or formerly enrolled in a Homeschool Connections live course or Subscription Service.

Theme: "Why I Love Homeschool Connections!" Your video should let other Catholic homeschool students know what makes Homeschool Connections special and why they should consider being a part of our home study program.

Publication: Entry into this contest implies that Homeschool Connections is free to publicize your video and use it on their website, blog, Facebook, YouTube channel, and Twitter.

Privacy: No last names or private information in videos to protect students' identities.

Length: Approximately 2 to 4 minutes.

Entries can be from individuals or teams (team members split the prize)

Entries can be as simple as sitting in front of your computer's webcam or as complicated as using video and editing software.

Video should include our website,

The Top Three Videos will be chosen by Homeschool Connections' staff. They will then be posted to the HC Facebook Fan Page where fans will vote for their favorite. Winners will be determined by the number of "likes" by fans. Fans can only vote once.

Dates: Contest starts September 20 and ends October 8, 2010 at midnight Pacific time. The Top Three will be announced October 11, 2010. The Facebook voting will take place October 12 to 15 at Noon Pacific time.

Email entries to with:
  • Link to your video on YouTube
  • Your full name and home address so we may issue prize check
  • Email address
  • Name of video and length

How to record a video from your webcam on YouTube:

1. Sign up for a Youtube account if you don't already have one. It's free and takes 5 minutes of your time.
  • From, click on Sign up
  • Create your account
2. Click on "Upload"
3. Click on "Record from web camera"
  • You might be prompted with a Privacy Settings popup. Simply click Allow.
4. You will see an image of yourself in the window provided.
5. Click the Record button.
6. Click the Stop or square button in the lower left corner of the button once finished recording.
7. You can then either Publish, Re-record, or Preview. Click Publish if finished with recording.
8. You are done with the recording part.
9. You can disable comments and set privacy.

Now, if you are happy with the video you can click on Save Changes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Adult Online Classes: Catholic Apologetics

Update: This live course has concluded and is available now as a recorded course through our Unlimited Access! Service. This is a great way to learn at your own pace when your schedule allows. To subscribe or learn more: Adult and High School Catholic Online Classes

We are very excited to announce our newest adult course through Aquinas Connections. Gary Michuta, Catholic apologist and author, will be leading us through the hows and why of Catholic Apologetics.

Gary taught a similar course for high school students through Homeschool Connections and it remains our most popular recorded course. It's not just Gary's grasp of apologetics and biblical knowledge that makes his classes special; it's his deep love for all things Catholic and his natural gift of communicating that love to his audience.

Anyone who takes this course will walk away renewed in their faith and ready to evangelize.

Practical Catholic Apologetics
(click above to register)

Course dates: Thursdays, October 21 to December 16, 2010. There is no class November 25th for Thanksgiving
Total classes: 8
Starting time: 8:00 pm, Eastern (7pm, Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Fee: $100 for all 8 classes

Course description: These classes will focus on apologetic material that has been developed in the field and proven to helpful and effective. You will learn two or three lines of explanation/argument concerning such doctrines as salvation, sola Scriptura, the papacy, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Mass, intercession of the saints, and Mary.

Upon completing the course the students will be able to give an effective defense of the most often attacked Catholic doctrines and practices. You will gain confidence in defending the Faith and have a better appreciation of how Protestants read and understand the Bible.

Course materials: No required books.
Optional materials: Recommended if you would like to expand on the course: The Gospel According to James McCarthy, Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger, and How to Wolf-proof Your Kids, all authored by Mr. Michuta. Each book touches on points made during the course and explores them more deeply. All are available from Grotto Press.

Equipment requirements: Students are required to have high-speed internet. A headset with microphone is recommended. If you don't have a headset, you at least need speakers.
Availability of recorded classes: Recordings of classes are provided to students within 24 hours and available for 6 months for your review. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the recording and/or course contents in any form is strictly prohibited.
Misc: Mr. Michuta is available in between classes for questions and comments.

Instructor's biography: Gary Michuta is the author of Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger: Did the Catholic Church Add Books to the Bible? [Grotto Press, 2007], and How to Wolf-Proof Your Kids: A Practical Guide to Keeping Your Kids Catholic [Grotto Press, 2010]. This unique book gives Catholic parents and educators valuable insights into the deceptive tactics used by anti-Catholics and concrete suggestions on how to combat these methods. Mr. Michuta was also the co-host of the radio show Hands on Apologetics Live. He is a frequent guest on various Catholic radio shows such as Catholic Answers Live (EWTN), Searching the Word (Relevant Radio), and the Son Rise Morning Show (EWTN). He gave his “inversion story” on The Journey Home (EWTN) and he worked as an uncredited consultant for Steve Ray’s Footsteps of God video series (Ignatius Press). Since 2003, Mr. Michuta has developed apologetic material for the Eastern Church Re-Evangelization Commission (E.C.R.C) to aid the Chaldean Catholic Dioceses. Gary currently offers classes on Apologetics to Catholic parishes around the country.

Practical Catholic Apologetics
(click above to register)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Free e-Books Online

I've been considering a Kindle for some time now. However, I love books. Not just the words but the whole experience of holding a book. The smell. The feel. I've gone back and forth and, now, I am finally ready to make the jump.

Here at Homeschool Connections, we use a lot of classic books and most of them can be found for free download on the internet. I have take advantage of some of these free books but not much as I'd like as it isn't easy to read on my computer. Reading on a Kindle (and I imagine other book readers are similar) really is much like reading a regular book. You can even make annotations in the columns and highlight passages.

Of course, there is the public library and inter-library loan. However, there are times when even the classics are hard to get via inter-library loan (Our small town library didn't even offer inter-library loan until a few months ago!), a book is needed for an entire semester, or needed quickly.

With all those free books out there, the Kindle may very well pay for itself easily within a year. It has been advised to me to forget the Kindle and go for an i-Pad but that is out of many homeschool budgets including mine.

Following are several websites that offer free books online:

Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project

Bringing Yesterday's Classics to Today's Children
. We're using this currently for our Ancient Greece and Rome courses, including Famous Men of Greece and Famous Men of Rome.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

From Calvin College, though loaded with lots of Church Fathers and Catholic saints. It even has large selections from Summa Contra Gentiles
. We've used this site for Chesterton and Tolkien titles.

Google Books

In addition to classics, authors have uploaded current books. Also offers magazines.

Gutenberg Project

THE original producer of free e-books.
Over 100,000 books. We've used this one extensively.

Heritage History

Similar Baldwin Project, only dedicated exclusively to children's history books

Internet Archive


Free audio books!
We also used this one for Chesterton and other titles.

Literature Page

Classic books, plays, stories, poems, essays, and speeches, from the creators of The Quotations Page.

Many Books

All free books in a wide variety of genre. They contain books from Project Gutenberg, and has links to Librivox when available. You can download them already converted to a variety of formats if you don't want to go through Calibre.


This site has titles you will not find anywhere else.

TextKit: Resources for Greek and Latin

Our Latin textbooks for this year are from this website.

As with any book, make sure anything you download is acceptable. Even classics contain trash.

I'll put these links up in the sidebar here at the blog so you find them there in the future.

Happy reading!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reading List: Middle School: Ancient Greece

One thing we strive to do at Homeschool Connections is help parents give their children a quality education at home without breaking their bank. We are always mindful, as parents ourselves, of the importance of providing our children with the best of the best but at the same time we all have a fiscal responsibility to our families.

Our middle school history teacher has provided the following reading list for his students this semester. All of the required reading is available completely free online. Here is his book list (some links will have purchase information but if you scroll down you'll see the free book).

Famous Men of Greece, by John H. Haaren and Addison B. Poland
Pictures from Greek Life and Story, by Alfred John Church
The Story of the Greek People, by Eva March Tappan
Our Young Folks' Plutarch , by Plutarch, ed. by Rosalie Kaufman
The Odyssey for Boys and Girls by Alfred J. Church
The Boys and Girls Herodotus by John S. White