Products We're Using

10/2015
We're using this program right now, level 1. My daughter loves it so far.

Save and Organize Those Receipts to Earn Cash!


These days, you can save a great deal of money from that little bit of paper that you used to just chuck into the trash when you got home (or sometimes before you got home). There are many programs and apps that will pay you to upload a picture of you receipt.  I've earned over $200 in about a year and half from one program alone. The others, well, not so great amounts such as this but still worthwhile.

I'll share with you some of the programs I have used a little later, but regardless of which program or programs you use, you've got to keep your receipts in check or you could be losing out on some dough (the green kind). So I thought I'd share with you my  developing system of keeping track of my receipts. It's simple and obvious but there have been times that I just chucked my receipts in my purse and forgot about them and missed out on possible earnings.

Storing Your Receipts Until You Process Them


From the Store to Home
In the past, when I've gotten my receipt from the store, I've stored it in my wallet or just threw it in my purse. I never had one designated, easy to get to space. So I would have to dig around my purse for my receipts. I finally got smart and designated a pocket on the outside of my purse that was easy to get to so I could just toss my receipt in quickly on my way out the store.

At Home Storage
Most of the time, my receipt would just stay in my purse until I remembered to process them. And often, the period to submit my receipts often came and went and I missed out on potential earnings. So, I decided to find a spot to put them in to get them out of my purse.  I made up some simple paper pouches (I make pouches regularly at my house for one thing or the other as I don't usually have a nifty organizer or whatnot to put stuff like this in).

I have three pouches:
  • New receipts
  • Partially processed receipts
  • Processed receipts
Storing Receipts for Receipt Rewards Programs

New Receipts Pouch
Obviously new receipts go in the new receipts pouch.

Partially Processed Receipts

Partially processed receipts go in the next pouch. Since I participate in multiple programs, I may not get the chance to process them all in one sitting (the baby demands that I "follow" her, another one needs help in the bathroom, food is about to boil over...etc etc etc) so having some place to hold the receipts to show that I've started them, but not have not yet completed them.....very handy!


Tip for Processing Receipts:

Besides the pouch, I have another tip for partially processed receipts because sitting in the pouch is not enough. Let's say I have four programs that I want to submit receipts to: Walmart, Receipt Hog, Ibotta, and Snap. And, I've only done the processing for Walmart and Receipt Hog. I put a W and an R on the receipt that lets me know I have submitted this to Walmart and Receipt Hog.


So when I sit down the next time to process, I know I only have Ibotta and Snap left to process for. This simple trick has been so very helpful!

Another thing that I've done for this in process pouch is write my "codes" for the different programs on the back. I don't do so many programs that I think I will forget what my codes are, but this helps me remember to submit the receipt to all my programs that it qualifies for (sometimes I do forget to do them all).


Processed Pouch
The processed pouch could be a trash can, but sometimes, just sometimes, for one reason or another, a receipt didn't get properly processed from a program (maybe I cut off the date in my picture or it was too blurry). So, if  I have a processed pouch and the program gives me the chance to resubmit, well I've still got the receipts handy and didn't potentially throw away money because I had thrown the receipt away right away after submitting it.

So that's it. That's the gist of my system. My pouches aren't the sturdiest so I think the next go around I may try them with cardstock and possibly laminate/contact paper them.

But, another thing that I have told myself I want to work on:

Setting A Regular Time/Day to Process Receipts
I've unfortunately thrown away a lot of receipts whose submission deadline (usually 7 days) had passed. Bummer. So, I decided that it would be a good idea to set a regular day and possibly time to process my receipts so that I wouldn't forget.  Ideally this would be maybe 2 times a week or so.

I haven't figured out the most opportune time to do it yet, but I am thinking that I may set up phone reminders (maybe through my calendar---I love those) to remind me.  My best times are in the morning and I think Friday (Jumuah) and maybe one other day spaced out might work well. Because usually, I either process the receipts right when I get home (or at least I did in my early days of receipt programs) but as of late it has become--I'm fishing around in my purse and oh darn, I hope I didn't miss the deadline for this receipt so I'll drop everything and do it now even though it's not the most convenient time.........

Receipt Programs I Currently Use

Below are the programs I currently use. If I have a link for a given program, that links takes you to a post (or set of posts) I've written about it.
(All the programs above--as well as those below--can be found in the Google Play Store. They may be available as well in the Apple App store but I don't know. Walmart Savings Catcher has an online web app so you can use it even if you don't' have a smartphone).

I used to use:
  • Jingit ( I don't really use this one anymore because it's slightly inconvenient. You have to select the items to get money back on BEFORE you head to the store and you have only 24 hours to submit your receipt so it's kind of inconvenient. But, I have cashed out on this so I know it is legit.
  • Checkout 51 (for a long time, I was having issues charging my phone so I stopped my receipt programs except Walmart Savings Catcher, which you can do online. When I started using my phone again, I forgot about this one (probably because there is a $20 minimum cash out and it takes a while for me to accumulate on it)
Something to remember about Receipt Programs
Some programs have a minimum amount that you have to earn to be able to cash out.  If you find that it takes you way too long to cash out, it may not be efficient (but if you do use it from time to time it may eventually add up so you can cash it out).

Follow TJ HOMESCHOOLING's board Grocery/Shopping Incentive Programs on Pinterest.

How do you keep your receipts organized? (or do you???)

Do you use receipt reward programs? If so, can you add any to this list?



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SoCal Field Trips - the AV and Beyond

We don't go on a lot of field trips, but I'm hoping to change that.  Below are a list of field trip ideas in Southern California (with an emphasis on those in the AV and surrounding areas). Sprinkled throughout are a few posts of our field trip adventures.


Antelope Valley

Blackbird Airpark (Palmdale)
"Blackbird Airpark, an annex of the Air Force Flight Test (AFFT) Museum at Edwards AFB, was officially dedicated on September 27, 1991. It is the world’s only display of a Lockheed SR-71Atogether with its predecessor A-12, along with the once ultra-secret D-21 drone and the only remaining U-2 “D” model in the world."  (Blackbird Airpark Site

We've tried to go here a couple of times but it was closed despite being during park hours, so hopefully one day we'll make it in. You can see the planes from the road though.


Musical Road (Lancaster)
Takes less than 30 seconds to see (or rather hear) but still very neat! Learn about it and see video of it here.








Prime Desert Woodland Preserve (Lancaster)
 "First proposed in 1985, the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve is the result of the efforts of many local residents and the Lancaster City Council. This scenic location nestled within an urban area has been established to provide visitors an opportunity to learn about the animals, plants and the region in which we live, as well as a place to simply relax and enjoy nature."

Neat little place but you definitely don't want to go in the summer heat. You can walk the trails and visit the Interpretive Center. There are also presentations given.

I'm looking for our pictures from this visit, but you can visit site to learn about its hours, etc and see pictures.


Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

"Each spring, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve comes alive with the seasonal surprises of the Mojave Desert Grassland habitat. The duration and intensity of colors and scents vary from year to year. The wildflower season generally lasts from as early as mid-February through late May,with a variety of wildflowers creating a mosaic of color that changes daily."

We've been to the reserve but not actually in it so I am hoping to catch it next spring, god willing.


MOAH - Museum of Art & History (Lancaster)
"Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH) houses a collection of post-war period and contemporary art in the areas of painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, photography, film, installations and new media.The museum also houses a collection of art pertaining to the Antelope Valley region. This art was created by artists that lived in, worked in or were inspired to create by the region. Rotating art exhibitions focus on contemporary artists, as well as the art housed within the current collection."

Visit the site for information on hours and special exhibits.


Western Hotel Museum

"Built around 1888, the Western Hotel Museum is downtown Lancaster's oldest surviving structure." Located in downtown Lancaster. Visit the site to learn about its hours. 










Antelope Valley Indian Museum (Lancaster) 

"Built in the 1920s among towering rock formations in the Mojave desert, the museum is a unit of the California State Department of Parks and Recreation system."

Visit the Antelope Valley Indian Museum site to learn more about the museum and its hours of operation.









Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park
"Added to the State Park System in 1988, Ripley Desert Woodland is located just west of the Poppy Reserve on Lancaster Road at 210th Street West. Donated to the State by Arthur "Archie" Ripley, the park protects and preserves an impressive stand of native Joshuas and junipers which once grew in great abundance throughout the valley. Today, only remnant parcels of this majestic woodland community remain in the valley, the rest having been cleared for farming and housing."

Haven't made it here yet but it is on our list, god willing.

Visit CA.gov's park page for this park for hours and other information. Admission is free.


Between AV and Santa Clarita

Vasquez Rocks (Aqua Dulce - between AV and Santa Clarita)
Natural Area Park is a 932-acre park located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains, in northern Los Angeles County,California. We went here and it was awesome!!!!!! Totally different (but better) than I had anticipated.  Lots of television shows and movies  have been filmed here.

Read about our trip here (at the above link)





Santa Clarita Valley

Newhall Aquarium Learning Center (Newhall)
Neat for little kids. It's not very big at all but my kids still enjoyed it. Read about our experience here.






Los Angeles Metro Area
These are places we have been itching to go to but haven't made it yet!


  • The Getty Center (site)The J. Paul Getty Trustn is the world's largest cultural and philanthropic organization dedicated to the visual arts. All the homeschool charter schools that we've gone to in SoCal have always had field trips here but we've never made it.


Newhall Aquarium Learning Center - Field Trips in the AV and Beyond

In the Santa Clarita Valley there is a cute little aquatic center called Newhall Aquarium Learning Center and we went there earlier this year.  It is located at 24631 Arch St, Santa Clarita, CA 91384 and while it is extremely small, my kids still enjoyed it.

It has maybe 5 tanks or so and the kids get to touch some of the creatures!









  


And there are little souvenirs and hand crafted items that you can purchase to help support the center.



You'll go through this quickly but younger kids will probably really enjoy this (even a few of the big kids said it was neat)


Donations are accepted but not required for entry.



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Field Trips in the AV and Beyond - Musical Road in Lancaster Makes Your Tires "Sing"

This makes for a super short, but neat field trip.

What's it all about?


The Civic Musical Road was built on Avenue K in Lancaster, California, United States, on 5 September 2008.[7] Covering a quarter-mile stretch of road between 60th Street West and 70th Street West, the Musical Road used grooves cut into the asphalt to replicate part of the Finale of the William Tell Overture. It was paved over on 23 September after nearby residents complained to the city council about noise levels.[8]

After further complaints from city residents about its removal, work began to re-create it on 15 October 2008 on Avenue G between 30th Street West and 40th Street West — this time, two miles away from any residence.[9][10] This road is named after the Honda Civic. It opened two days later.[11] The new section on Avenue G is only in the far left lane of the westbound side of the road.


The road appears in Honda Civic commercials. The rhythm is recognizable, but the intervals are so far off that the melody bears only a slight resemblance to the William Tell Overture, regardless of the car speed. It is likely the designers made a systematic miscalculation which affected all the groove spacings. (Wikipedia)

So where is it now?
It is located on Avenue G between 30th Street W and 50th Street W. To experience it, start at the intersection of Avenue G and 30th Street W and head west. You will see a sign telling you when it begins. You have to be in the lane closest to the median.




Below is a great video (not ours) of what it's like to drive down the musical road. It takes  less than 30 seconds to go through but it really is neat.





Vasquez Rocks - Field Trips in the AV and Beyond

Vasquez Rocks 04-1977

This is one of the few field trips that we have been on thus far in/near the Antelope Valley.   It is located in Aqua Dulce which is between the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita.

"The rocks’ history began in prehistoric times when the sandstone rocks were uplifted at a picturesque angle, showing their jagged red features. In 1874 Tiburcio Vasquez, one of California’s most notorious bandits, used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature. The park is a popular hiking, picnicking, and equestrian area and has been used in many hit movies, television shows and commercials."

We were in for a treat when we went because when we got there, we didn't know that you get to climb up on the rocks. The kids loved it!!!!! 
My 17 year old climbing on the rocks at Vasquez Rocks
Be prepared for some walking (we weren't and we brought a stroller and had to lug it around). As I said, you can climb on the rocks and there is also an interpretive center with information about the rocks and artifacts and even a few birds in an exhibit outside.  Visiting Vasquez Rocks is free and there is also a gift shop on site.

We spend about a couple of hours here so it's a nice, easy field trip that won't take all day if you don't have that kind of time.







In the Interpretive Center:






Outside among the rocks:






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Antelope Valley Homeschool Charter Schools

The Beauty of Joshua Trees (16399451559)

Here are a few homeschool charter school options available in the Antelope Valley.

Antelope Valley Learning Academy

This school is located in Lancaster and they have a tuition free homeschooling program.

  • Students can choose from exclusively all at home learning or they can take optional classes at the campus.  If you are looking for more structure, this is a good program because they give parents pacing guides of the assignments.
  • Students are required to turn in all assignments from the pacing guide (not just samples).  Students are assigned a supervising teacher and the parent and student must meet once every 20 days (really just monthly). Parents must turn in attendance logs at those meetings.  
  • Students are required to participate in state testing each spring.  
  • Students are required to participate in physical fitness testing in grades 5, 7, and 9.
  • Students are given traditional public school textbooks (which you return at the end of the school year) and although you must use the textbooks they choose, you do have some leeway as far as math and you can use programs like Saxon, Math U See, and Teaching Textbooks.
My kids were enrolled in this school for about 2 years and they liked it. We are not enrolled any more because our high schoolers are in public high school and I took out my elementary and middle schoolers out because it was hard to keep up with all the assignments since I was homeschooling several kids. Otherwise, if you don't mind the monthly meetings, I would recommend this school.


iLead 

iLead is a relatively new school and we just found out about it in spring 2015. It is available to students who reside in Orange and Los Angeles counties (maybe Riverside too, I can't remember) and it is tuition free. They have different options, you can attend school at a campus (iLead) or you can totally do independent study  at home (iLeadExploration - which is what we are enrolled in.) If you are looking for flexibility, this school so far seems to be a good option. Each year, each student is allotted funds for curriculum. (This year elementary and middle school students were allotted $2,000 and high schoolers get around 2400 or 2600). You are not given the funds, but you put in an order to your EF (Education Facilitator) and he/she will place the order for you.  You not only can purchase books, but also online and local classes (art, martial arts, dance, sewing......) with your funds, even computers. All the materials have to be returned when you take your kids out of the school, but there's a great variety of resources you can get, including copy paper and ink each semester.  You get to choose your curriculum  as long as it is not religious based.  You have to meet with your EF once a month for him/her to collect your samples, but you only have to turn in 2-4 samples per learning period.




Desert Sands Charter School

This is a tuition free high school charter school in Lancaster. It belongs to the same Learn4Life organization that Antelope Valley Learning Academy is a part of and they have many schools throughout California

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Odd or Even?

Odd/Even Printable
I started out making my daughter a little chart for our morning meeting time's number of the day activities. But while I was at it I thought, gee this could make a cute sorting activity for even more practice, so I turned it into a sorting printable.

Odd/Even Sorting Activity



It comes with 32 number sorting cards (not all shown here)


Odd & Even Sorting Activity



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Our Math Morning Routine - aka "Mommy Morning Meeting"


My seven year old and I have been getting in the swing of things lately with a morning math routine (although it's ok if we don't do it til the afternoon--my daughter coined it "Mommy Math Meeting" this morning). I like starting off our day with this routine because it's excellent for review and kind of gets us revved up for school.

Currently, this is what we are doing:

Counting

  • Count to 100
  • Skip count by 10s (forward and backward); count dimes (eventually we'll move onto 5s and 2s, inshaa Allah)

Calendar Concepts

Months/Year Concepts - I use a reference chart I made up and she:


  • Tells how many months are in a year, when asked
  • Recites the names of the months in order (with me)/li>
  • Identifies the last and first months of the year and her birth month
  • While looking at our chart, tells me what month comes before/after a month I call out
  • Tells me the number of days in a year (right now, I have it on the chart and I just tell her and as she gets more familiar, then I will have her tell me when asked, in shaa Allah
  • Tell me what a year is (the time it takes for the earth to go around the sun
  • Eventually, we'll get to the concept of leap year, in shaa Allah
  • I emphasize that the months of the year cycle (repeat)


Days of the Week - Again, I have another chart with the days of the week that we use and she:

  • Tells me the number of days in a week
  • Tells me what day comes before/after a day that I call out
  • Tells me what day is 1st, 2nd, etc
  • I emphasize that the days of the week cycle (repeat)


Seasons - we use another chart and she:


  • Recites the seasons in order, starting with the current one
  • Answers questions about what season certain events occur in such as:
    • leaves falling off trees
    • it snows/is very cold
    • new plants/flowers grow
    • it's hot, people go to the beach often
    • sometimes she offers up other activities/phenomena that occur in different seasons
  • Again, I emphasize/remind her that the seasons are in a cycle (repeat) and I often mention that this is something beneficial for us that Allah has created (cycles that help us keep track of time and help us depend on this regularity)

Change the Wall Calendar 

We have a cute wall calendar and so after we are done with the review activities, she changes the date for the day.

Number of the Day 

I pick a number (right now we are just going in counting order and I started on the number 49 which was in the lesson of Saxon that we started on this past week. With this number we do several activities:
  • Tell if the number is odd or even
  • Make the number with place value blocks (or draw what they would look like in place value blocks)
  • Add 1 from it, subtract 1 from it, add 10 to it, subtract 10 from it
  • Write the number in word form
  • Show a few different ways to make that amount in coins

Lately I have just been asking her to do the above activities on a blank piece of paper, but in the past we have used Number of the Day worksheets. You can check them out in my Number of the Day Tag or view my Calendar/Morning Meeting Board at Pinterest for worksheets from others.

Name/Date Writing 

 Lastly I have her write her name daily along with the day of the week and the date and season. ( I give her a sample to copy from) This is mostly for handwriting practice as well as for her to start to learn how to spell words simply by daily repetition



This routine may sound like a lot based upon what I have outlined above, but it typically goes pretty quickly. Here's is how our morning meeting went today:

  • Calendar Concepts: 4 minutes
  • Counting/Skip Counting: 7 minutes (my daughter likes to skip and jump around the room as she is doing this and she gets distracted easily. Today she proclaimed "it was very breathtaking!"
  • Number of the Day: 6 minutes
  • Name Writing/Date/Season Writing: 5 minutes

So all in all, we spend roughly 20 minutes on our morning meeting.

At this point after the routine,  I kind of gauge where she is and see if we go onto actual math class or do math later in the day. (sometimes she is gung ho to continue and other times it's a lost cause).  My goal is to at least do this routine everyday even if we don't get actual math class in.

Printables

When we started back up with our morning meetings, I used hand-drawn reference charts, but this week I finally got around to making some up on the computer. I like these as they have my prompts/questions on there so all I really have to do is grab each chart and ask the questions on there (though after doing it often, I generally know off hand what questions I want to ask, but this helps me not forget)

The Month of the Year Learning Poster



The Days of the Week Learning Poster



The Four Seasons Learning Poster





Morning Meeting Book


Morning Meeting Book

Morning Meeting Book
(There was a typo on the Days of the Week printable, but it has been fixed!)

Morning Meeting Book


In addition, check out my Calendar/Morning Meeting Pinterest Board for more ideas for morning meetings (which can be held in the afternoons as well!)