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Limitless Creativity

The creativity of God never ceases to amaze me. He created plants that grow underwater, He created diamonds and dandelion dust with equal ease, and He called a single woman with no children to write for the Christian homeschool market.

I wasn’t homeschooled as a child. I went to a very small private Christian school. My mom wanted to homeschool, but it was the early 1980s, and the legal aspect of homeschooling in my state was terribly intimidating. But when my sister and I weren’t in school, our mom was always making up learning games and projects for us to do at home. Though she never taught professionally, she has a teacher’s heart.

I’ve always had a heart to write for God. I think I was about 9 years old or so when I started my first “book.” It was a really sad attempt, but it was an attempt! I started developing my writing professionally in 2003. I worked on several projects, but my heart was writing for kids. In 2011, I felt God nudging me toward homeschooling, though I had no idea why. I went to the CHAP convention in Harrisburg, PA, and picked up tons of information. One of the countless freebies I took home was an issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. I joined the mailing list, wanting to learn more about homeschooling. A few months later, they put out a call asking for writers to volunteer to write curriculum for a new site they were developing for families called SchoolhouseTeachers.com. It took me all of about three seconds to decide to join.

I began helping the newly formed team of writers brainstorm and create curriculum about everything from art to history. I love history, but art? That was a stretch. But that was the beauty of writing in a team. My weaknesses were someone else’s strengths, and by working together, I learned more than I ever imagined was possible.

So I’m a non-homeschooled single woman with no kids who has never loved any writing more than writing for homeschool families. In another surprising turn, I’ve moved from part-time volunteer to full-time staff and now serve as the Executive Editor of SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

I’m looking forward to speaking at the 2017 Write2Ignite conference about connecting with the homeschool market and creating products that both entertain and educate. I’ll also be giving a presentation on “Hard Truths for Tender Hearts,” which touches on another passion of mine, sharing stories of the persecuted Church with children in a sensitive way that they can understand without frightening them.

I encourage writers to learn how they can connect with and serve the homeschooling market. But more than that, I want to encourage everyone to never underestimate or doubt the limitless creativity of God. Never decide that you aren’t qualified to do something you know He’s calling you to do. He called a shepherd to become a king and a Pharisee to become a missionary. What is He calling you to do?

Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.

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What Does It Mean to Write for the Homeschool Market?

What Does It Mean to Write for the Homeschool Market

We’ve talked a lot this year about creating materials with the homeschool market in mind, so it’s important that we know whom that market represents. If we’re going to visualize our ideal reader, there are some things we need to understand. One of the common misconceptions about homeschooling is that it’s done only on the fringes and that a very small number of families choose to educate at home. That was true in past decades, but not any longer. According to Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, “There were an estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during the spring of 2010.”1 That’s a lot of families that you can reach with your material! Take a look at a few fast facts:

  • The homeschool market is currently a billion-dollar industry.2
  • Homeschooling has seen an average yearly growth of between 2 and 8 percent over the last several years.3
  • Homeschool enrollment is outpacing traditional school enrollment by seven times as many new students.4
  • On average, $400 to $599 is spent annually on each homeschooled student.5
  • 68.1 percent of homeschool families have three or more children.6

Christian publishers, as well as general market publishers, are taking notice:

  • In August, 2013, Zondervan released the Homeschool Mom’s Bible.7
  • YWAM Publishing has released unit studies and curriculum guides (2001–present) to complement its popular Christian Heroes Then and Now series by Janet and Geoff Benge as well as their Heroes of History series and Heroes of History for Young Readers series.
  • Christian Book Distributors has dedicated a section of its website to homeschool resources and sends out dedicated e-blasts and catalogs targeting homeschooling customers each year.
  • In 2000, Random House debuted a companion series of nonfiction study guides to the popular Magic Tree House books titled the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker series.

When you reach out to one homeschooler, you also connect with his or her friends, family, and homeschooling support groups. Homeschoolers love to share news about great resources. Consider that a Google search of homeschooling blogs returned over 2,000 matches from Weebly, over 38,000 matches from WordPress, and more than 79,000 matches from Blogger.8

And the growth of homeschooling doesn’t stop at the US border.

  • Canada: An estimated 60,000-80,000 homeschoolers in 2006 has risen to approximately 100,000 today9
  • Australia: An estimated 20,000 homeschooling and distance education students in 1995 has risen to approximately 30,000 families in 201210

Writing for the homeschool market is:

  • Connection
  • An extremely rewarding ministry
  • Fun

Equally important as understanding what writing for the homeschool market is is understanding what it’s usually not:

  • A fast way to self-publish and make lots of money
  • An easy market to break into (it’s just as hard as any other market)
  • Writing to a homogenous group of people who all share the same dreams, goals, and core beliefs

Homeschoolers are just as diverse as the broader children’s market. They each have specific sets of values, expectations, and goals. So who homeschools?

Who Homeschools?

There’s no one mold that all homeschooling families fit into. Research shows that people from varied ethnic and religious backgrounds are choosing the homeschooling option. According to Dr. Brian D. Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute, “A demographically wide variety of people homeschool—these are atheists, Christians, and Mormons; conservatives, libertarians, and liberals; low-, middle-, and high-income families; black, Hispanic, and white.” In addition, Dr. Ray states that “homeschooling is quickly growing in popularity among minorities. About 15% of homeschool families are non-white/nonHispanic (i.e., not white/Anglo).”11

Families are choosing to homeschool for many different reasons. For some, it’s the desire to shape curriculum and teaching style to each child’s needs. Others have observed that home-educated students typically outperform public-school students on standardized test scores. Some families choose to home educate to share their beliefs and values with their kids and to strengthen family bonds. For others, it’s the concern over things such as drugs, violence, and bullying.12

The key to remember when you’re writing for homeschoolers is to know whom you want to reach. It’s virtually impossible to write for everyone. As it is in writing for the broader children’s market, so it is in the homeschool market. You must know your purpose, your audience, and your call.

Whom are you writing for? Who is your ideal reader, and how are you meeting his or her needs? Please share with us in the comments!

  1. www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html.
  2. www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/14/sunday/main4447823.shtml.
  3. www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html.
  4. www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/07/Report-Growth-in-Homeschooling-Outpacing-Public-Schools. See also nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91 and nces.ed.gov/programs/projections/projections2020/tables/table_02.asp.
  5. www.nheri.org/research/nheri-news/homeschooling-across-america-academic-achievement-and-demographic-characteristics.html
  6. Ibid.
  7. zondervan.com/9780310431473.
  8. Research performed May 17, 2013.
  9. www.hslda.ca/assets/pdf/summary-final.pdf and correspondence with Member Services, HSLDA Canada, September 6, 2013
  10. learninfreedom.org/homeschool_growth.html and www.hslda.org/hs/international/Australia/default.asp
  11. www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html.
  12. Ibid.

Bonnie-Rose-Hudson-200x200Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.

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Christmas in July: Planning Seasonal Products Early

Christmas in July-Planning Seasonal Products Early

It’s July 1st. I’m having trouble getting my head wrapped around that. It means half the year has passed. It means all those things I committed to doing in July (when it was still months away) are suddenly due now. And it means the Christmas holiday will be here before we blink.

I know—you’re probably groaning because I mentioned Christmas. I’ll admit it. While Christmas is, in many ways, my favorite time of the year, it also brings with it increased pressures and demands. One way you can relieve a few of those demands is to plan and prepare your holiday-related products and specials now instead of at the last minute (which I have been guilty of doing so many times in the past!).

If you create printables and curriculum for the homeschool market, there is, in my opinion, no more exciting time than the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. Opportunities to bless your readers abound, and the opportunities to reach new audiences also flourish. Blogs everywhere will have special link-ups and roundups for holiday resources. The Pinterest boards that are dedicated to sharing holiday content are too numerous to count. And who hasn’t at least considered shopping those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales?

The first year I was blogging more seriously, Black Friday took me totally by surprise. In October, I started seeing calls on social media to submit Christmas-themed products. Thanksgiving doesn’t generally cross my mind until the calendar flips to November. I was unprepared. I had one Christmas freebie I had made in the past. I guarantee you that I shared that one freebie almost everywhere I could find out about that year!
The next year, I am embarrassed to say, I didn’t start planning much earlier. But a few intense weeks of work produced a Thanksgiving activity pack and a Christmas activity pack. The Thanksgiving pack has been downloaded more than 1,300 times; the Christmas pack more than 3,000. While small numbers for some, they absolutely stunned me.

I learned something that year. There are a LOT of Thanksgiving and Christmas materials out, but there is also a HUGE need for it. Kids need activities to keep them busy on long car trips to visit family or during unplugged holiday time at home.

This brings me to this year. I can expect to start seeing requests for holiday material within the next four months. What can I do now to prepare? I can:

  • Brainstorm and develop ideas
  • Determine if there are graphics I will need to purchase and find them now so I can buy them on sale if the opportunity arises (I love Black Friday sales on graphics, but that won’t help me prepare my Thanksgiving products.)
  • Start creating holiday products
  • Plan sales and decide if there are additional new items I need to create to release at the same time
  • Locate and join group Pinterest boards that share holiday content
  • Be sure I am connected with online groups who will share opportunities for holiday-themed promotions

Have I started getting ready? Well, I bought some really cute fall graphics and I have one idea of something I’d like to do for fall! It’s not much of a start, but I’m learning.

One month at a time.
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Bonnie-Rose-Hudson-200x200Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.

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Puzzling Over Puzzles: How to Write Puzzles for Kids

Puzzling Over Puzzles-How to Write Puzzles for Kids

One of my favorite things to create is puzzles! If you enjoy creating history and language arts resources like I do, the types of puzzles you have at your disposal to make learning enjoyable are virtually endless. Here are just a few types I’ve enjoyed making over the years:

  1. Word searches and crossword puzzles. Don’t underestimate these simple but fun puzzles. Word searches are great spelling practice. They also work well for familiarizing kids with key terms and names.
  1. Decoding. Decoding puzzles are easily adapted to any age and are another great tool for familiarizing kids with names and places. They are also a great way to sneak in a little math practice! You can make the code key as simple or complex as you like. For example:

A=1, B =2, C=3, T=20, Z=26 can be used with simple addition problems where the first letter is 2+1, the second letter is 0+1, and the third letter is 15+5 (C-A-T). Of course, you can be as inventive as you like and make a code that looks like this: A=36, C=72, T=96 and make the puzzle read 8*9, 6*6, and 12*8 (C-A-T).

  1. Fill-ins with word banks. In this type of puzzle, you give kids a paragraph or more about a certain topic and include blanks for them to fill in with the right word, chosen from a word bank. You can also use this puzzle to help kids become familiar with famous quotes or passages.
  1. Timelines. There are endless varieties of timeline puzzles for history topics. You can have kids arrange facts chronologically, have them memorize and fill in specific dates, or do other activities.
  1. Word scrambles. Word scrambles are another fun way to familiarize kids with key terms and phrases and help them practice proper spelling.
  1. Letter board puzzles. Letter board puzzles are structured like crossword puzzles—but without the clues. To create this puzzle, provide a list of possible words and terms. The student has to rely on spelling and logic skills to find the correct placement of each letter.

Letter puzzle

  1. Matching and multiple choice. Don’t overlook these classic examples of ways you can vary the way you present information in puzzles for kids to enjoy.
  1. Tile puzzles. Give the students a set number of tiles and instructions on how many letters they will need to use to make the correct answer.

Tile puzzle

  1. Graph decoding. This is another variation of a type of puzzle that can be used to help students find the letters they need to spell words that fit a theme or topic.

Graph decoding

  1. Missing sound. Filling in missing sounds is a fun way for little ones to take part! You can combine simple phonics and basic handwriting to familiarize young children with key words, names, and terms.

Missing Sound

Don’t forget—any time you get stuck for ideas, you can always pick up an inexpensive puzzle book at the store or scour free online printables to get your creative juices flowing!

What types of puzzles would you add to this list?
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Bonnie-Rose-Hudson-200x200Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.