Improve your speech, concentration, and even your singing with Forbrain!

 {This review made possible by Forbrain -  Sound For Life LTD and the Schoolhouse Review Crew}

When I found out that the Crew would be reviewing a bone conduction headset from Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd I was more than just a little curious.

Having worked with a neurodevelopmentalist and speech therapists with Supergirl, I am familiar with the importance of audio memory to brain organization and optimal function.  Forbrain - Sound For Life Ltd states that this device can improve memory, attention, and speech.  The more I looked over the website the more convinced I was that Tailorbear and Turtlegirl would benefit just as much as Supergirl.

Reading aloud with Forbrain can increase memory, focus, and concentration!

Forbrain is a device that maximizes the natural audio-vocal loop that every person uses to analyze, assimilate, perceive and adjust information received and produced through sound.  For details on this loop and how Forbrain works check out these links: The Auditory Process, and Forbrain's Audio Technology.

Tailorbear was my primary focus during the review period. She wears the device for approximately 20 minutes a day. We aim for 5 days a week. Sometimes she stands. Sometimes she sits.  Sometimes she walks around. Most of the time she reads aloud from her novel for her literature study. Sometimes I hear her singing.

She shared with me that when she uses Forbrain she is better able to focus and concentrate.  Turtlegirl and I both noticed that Tailorbear's singing has improved. Though she has a lovely singing voice she doesn't always stay in the right key.  Now she is much more likely to stay on key.

Forbrain!  Read the Review at www.circlingthroughthislife.com

She stopped using Forbrain for a week and I noticed that she did not get as much school done.  She was more prone to be distracted and failed to stay on task.  I am making Forbrain a requirement for every school day for her because it helps her.

Turtlegirl ran into some difficulties with using Forbrain. She is prone to migraines and after using Forbrain for a few minutes she does begin to get a headache.  She uses it for a much shorter period of time and only once or twice a week.  Even without using it for the prescribed amount of time she noticed some positive changes.  Here's what she had to say about her experience:
 Even after the first time I used Forbrain, I noticed an increase in my ability to focus. It was a little weird how after I took off the headphones, everything sounded different, but I'm not sure what that means. I have noticed a positive difference after using Forbrain. I am more aware of the way my voice sounds when I talk. (Example: I can hear that I'm kinda monotone and don't emote well with my voice.) And when I hum, I can actually hear when I go off tune. I'm no longer as tone deaf as I used to be.

Forbrain is easy to use! One suggesion is to read or sing poetry aloud.

I recently started using it with Supergirl. Since she cannot do it independently the way her sisters can, I needed to make sure I committed to working with her.  Supergirl has DiGeorge Syndrome.  She also has brain injury from in utero strokes. DiGeorge affects many different areas including speech. I knew that I wanted to use to Forbrain with Supergirl because she is a "poster child" of sorts for the type of therapy this device can provide.

She is developmentally much younger than her chronological age so I have her working for 10 minutes a day rather than the 20 that a typical 18 year old would do.  Currently we are using Forbrain while we do our Poetry Memorization.  She recites the poems she has memorized already and then we work together on memorizing the current poem.  I will say a line and she repeats it.  I will often repeat words that I knew she struggles with so that she can practice them with the device.  Certain sounds are nearly impossible for her but my hope is that by using Forbrain her speech will be come more clear.

I plan to begin using Forbrain with her during her phonics lessons with Logic of English.  We will be working with phonemes and phonograms and I think she'll be able to improve her speech patterns while improving her reading fluency.

Forbrain is an asset that I think every speech pathologist and speech therapist should have access to.  I see this tool as being a way to continue to work on brain/neurological development and improvement with Samantha.  I also see this helping Tailorbear to improve her focus and concentration which will help her with studying for her senior year and preparing for post high school education.

I am very impressed with this device and the improvement I see in my daughters.

Click on the banner below to read what other members of the Crew had to say about Forbrain!

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review

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Making Time for Reading by Listening!

How did it get to be June already?  And nearly half way through at that!

I have lots of things I want to write about but today I want to talk about reading.  About what I've been reading actually.   At some point I want to talk about reading aloud and how important it is and how reading aloud to older children and teens is just as important as reading aloud to your toddler, preschooler, and early elementary kids.

I suspect that reading aloud to other adults and being read aloud to as an adult has benefits as well.  Benefits beyond being able to use an audiobook to multi-task.

Making Time to Read by Listening at Circling through This LIfe

Speaking of audio books and adult multi-tasking let's talk about the fact that I am making time for reading by listening!  I have three books on audio right now that are in my  "currently reading listening" pile:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen ~  Yes, I have read this book before and yes I have seen the Colin Firth version of the movie (mini-series!) multiple times as well as a few other versions.  Supergirl is very familiar with the story because she loves the mini-series.  We're listening to it together.  Well she started listening to it and I was reading it but we've switched to listening to it.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett ~I have never read this book but I know it is a classic.  Supergirl and I started listening to this one together.

Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews ~ I started out reading the Kindle version of this Meg Langslow mystery but my loan ran out before I was finished with the book.  I was able to pick it up as an audio book for just $4.99 so I did.  I am thisclose to finishing it.

And one that is in my Finished Pile:

Beric the Briton ~  G.A, Henty ~  well actually we listened to an Heirloom Audio Production which is like an audio drama and is an adaptation of the book.  The crew will be reviewing this later this summer.  We finished this one in three sittings!   We plan on listening to it together again.  I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would.

I do still have several "real" books in my currently reading pile but I'll talk about those some other time. I want to mention that I am reading the third book in the Atlantis series.  If you like science fiction combined with action and adventure then you will enjoy this series but make sure you clear your calendar as these books are next to impossible to put down once you've started reading!


Sunya Publishing ~ Two Fun Math Games {Crew Review}

If you are a long time reader of my blog you may remember that we are a game loving family.  We play games just for fun as part of our family holiday traditions but I also like incorporating games into our home school.

Learning math facts can be boring. Math drill can be boring.  It doesn't have to be that way! Sunya Publishing has two games that make mastering your facts fun.  Members of the Schoolhouse Review crew were sent their choice of Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Adding & Subtracting or Sunya - The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing.  As a crew leader, I received both games.

Sunya Publishing ~ Math Game!  Review at Circling Through This Life

About the Games

Both games state they are for 1-5 players.  The games come with a Teacher/Parent guidebook, two decks of cards and a special number line.  One deck contains 55 number cards, 2 wild cards and 3 operation cards (e.g. + - =  ) and the other contains 30 Riddle cards.

The basic premise of the game is to build number sentences using cards from your hand alone or combined with cards already in play.  The first person to "go out" shouts "Sunya" and wins the game. After shouting "Sunya" the winner takes a Riddle Card.

The dealer deals four cards to each player and sets up a basic number sentence such as 3 +  2 = 5.  Players take turns trying to get rid of their cards by playing them on the number sentence.

Adding Game laid out to play Sunya Publishing Review at Circling Through This LIfe

The instructions for the game are very wordy and sometimes confusing. However, playing the game and referring to the guidebook when needed worked just fine for my family and we were able to start playing quickly.

About the word "Sunya"

Sunya is a Sanskrit word that means empty or void of any quanity.  Sanskrit is the ancient and classical language of India. Our modern number system was invented by the Hindus in India 1500 years ago and accepted in the Arab world.  It was introduced to the West as the Hindu Arabic Numeral System.

I found it fascinating that there is a connection between the word 'sunya' and our word for 'without quanity',  zero.  Sunya was translated as 'sifr' which then became 'zephirum' which is the Latin name for the symbol 0.  That symbol means "the absence of any quantity." We get our word 'zero' from the Latin 'zephirum'.  It's not a direct connection to the word 'sunya' but it is a link!

My Recommendations

For both games I recommend starting with the basic game and and omit the 0 & 1 Rule. Mr. Latell states that "this rule may be waived when playing with young children just learning addition and subtraction."   I think that omitting the rule for those who are new to the game and adding it in after everyone knows and understands the basic game keeps the game fun and low key. Having played with the rule and waiving the rule, I think it is more fun with the rule.

Our Experience

Supergirl loves the game. We've been playing the Adding game because she's not yet ready to play the Subtracting one. She often needs to refer to the line for help.  Rather than hold our cards in our hands we lay them out on the table as suggested and we help each other create the number sentences.

Turtlegirl and I have played as well but we've played Multiplying as well as Adding.  We played just for fun and fellowship. I think her favorite part was the riddle card.  We even had Dad involved at one point!

Dad played the Dividing Game!  Sunya Publishing Review at Circling Throug This Life

I started playing The Adding game as a form of solitaire in the evenings when I'm trying to earn more swagbucks.  I enjoy the challenge of trying to create number sentences. It's become almost addictive. I tried it with the Multiplication version but I prefer the Addition for my solitaire playing.

My Thoughts

If you like card games, then you will enjoy these games.  I have decided that it is a fun way to reinforce learning math facts with Supergirl but Turtlegirl and I really enjoyed playing it on our mother/daughter date. We were playing just for the fun of it.  It reminds me a tiny bit of Crazy 8s and other similar card games where you need to match the card in the discard and the object is to get rid of all the cards in your hand, but I like this better because it develops thinking skills and for students solidifying their math facts it provides a fun way to practice.

We'll be making this a regular part of our math game rotations with Supergirl.  I also plan on continuing to play it as an alternative solitaire.  

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}

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Five Things This Week May 20th

I know it isn't May 20th but Friday is the day I aim for.  Remember several weeks ago I said I would be posting sometime Friday-Sunday.

This actually a Five Things from the past few weeks since I haven't posted a Five Things for a couple of weeks.  (Have I even posted one in May???!!!)

1.  We finally got our van back.  We did not have it back in time for Pascha but we got back in time for Mother's Day.  Thanks to some wonderful, giving, sweet friends though we were all able to make it to the services. We didn't get a a family photo but Boobear and did this selfie on Pascha!

Boobear and Mom on Pascha!

2.  Boobear has finished all her requirements for being a music minor. She will be focusing on her senior year on her new major and a second minor in Religion.  She won't be taking private piano, piano ensemble, or even choir next year.  I'm bummed but I'm glad I got to see her in all the recitals that she did for Freshman, Sophomore and Junior years.

On the night of Boobear's last piano ensemble!

3.  Aren't these gorgeous!  My oldest brought them home for me for Mother's Day!

Flowers for Mother's Day!

4.  Supergirl has been begging to do art like her sisters. We finally got around to starting ARTistics Pursuits.  She is so proud of her vase and flowers.

Supergirl drew a vase and flowers!  Then she colored them in!  Circling Through This LIfe

5.  Tailorbear took some great photos of Turtlegirl.  I think we'll be using this one, maybe, for High School Graduation Announcement!

Turtlegirl ~  Class of 2016!


More than Just Music Appreciation!

{Thank you to Zeezok Publishing LLC for providing the Music Appreciation: Book 1 for the Elementary Grades for this review}

Music has always been an important part of my life and I wanted to share my love of music with my daughters.  We focused more on being exposed to different music types and just appreciating the variety of styles of music.  I never used a formal curriculum.  That is, I didn't until now.  Thanks to Zeezok Publishing LLC I have found the most amazing homeschool music curriculum!

Amazing and wonderful  complete homeschool music curriculum  #hsreviews Circling Through This LIfe

With Music Appreciation: Book 1 for the Elementary Grades you get far more than just a music education.  As you study each composer you also study geography, culture, language arts, history, and more! Each composer has his own 4 week unit.  You do not even have to start at the beginning of the book.  I let Supergirl choose which composer we should start with.  She choose George Frederick Handel. When we finished Handel she insisted we start Beethoven.

The Program Overall:


I want to give an overview of the program as a whole, describing each of the required components before I talk about how much fun we had studying Handel.

* Music Appreciation Student Activity Book

This ginormous consumable book is three hole punched with perforated pages so you can easily tear the pages out of the book and put completed pages into a notebook.  I only tore out pages that we needed for cutting and pasting and left the book intact.  In the front section you will find a table of contents, an introduction, a scope and sequence, and a very helpful music disk track list.  At the back of the activity book you will find the endnotes for all seven composers. Each of the seven composers has a self-contained section divided into 4 weeks of study.  The answers for each of the activities are included at the end of each unit.

Supergirl completes a page in the activity book of this wonderful homeschool music curriculum #hsreviews Circling Through This Life

* Music Appreciation Music CDs

These 5 CDs include all the music for the program. For Handel we were able to listen to "The Harmonious Blacksmith" and the "Hallelujah Chorus." In addition to select musical pieces discussed in each biography book, there are specific listening activities.  For example with Handel we learned about the Oboe.  After reading about the Oboe, we listened to Track 8 on Disc 3 "Oboe" so that we could hear the instrument.  Another music listening activity in the Handel unit had us listening to "Identify Contrasting Music Styles" and we listened to specific tracks and then answered the questions in the activity book.  Both the activity book and the biography book list when to listen and which track to listen to.  I appreciate having that all laid out for me!

* Music Appreciation Lapbook CD 

This CD contains all the booklets and folds to create a lapbook for each composer!  One thing that I appreciated about the lapbook was that there was no writing involved!  This makes it perfect for younger students.  This lapbook is different from lapbooks that we have done for other subjects. With the Music Appreciation Lapbook you are creating mini-books with additional information not found in the The Great Musician Series biography books. For example one of the mini-books we created included information on the city of Venice.  We assembled it together.  Supergirl has really improved in her cutting skills! Then, I read it out loud. Finally, Supergirl glued it onto the file folder. This activity extends the learning by giving us more information about Venice, a city that Handel visited.

Front cover of Handel Lapbook; Music Program #hsreviews at Circling Through This Life

Inside the back portion  of Handel Lapbook; Music Program #hsreviews at Circling Through This Life

Inside the back portion  of Handel Lapbook; Music Program #hsreviews at Circling Through This Life

I did not like that we had so much extra unused spaced. I loved that the disc included instructions for assembling the file folders and that it told me exactly where to place each piece but after completing Handel, I've decided that with Beethoven we will create all the mini-books and then I'll decide what type of file folder assemble I want to use.  I don't think I will use two file folders like we did with Handel.

* The Great Musician Series

These seven biographies written by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher are the heart or core of the program.  Titles include:

  • Mozart The Wonder Boy
  • Franz Schubert and His Merry Friends
  • Sebastian Bach the Boy from Thuringia
  • Paganini Master of Strings
  • Ludwig Beethoven and the Chiming Tower Bells
  • Handel at the Court of Kings 

Supergirl likes to "read" the books!  #hsreviews Music Appreciation Curriculum Review at Circling Through This Life!>

Handel and Beethoven each have 4 chapters.  In both of those books there are pages of sheet music sprinkled thoughout each chapter. In Handel we read the story behind "The Harmonious Blacksmith" and after the story there is the sheet music. I can't play the sheet music but that's ok because we just listened to the track on the CD.  Handel at the Court of Kings begins when George Frederick Handel was very young. Chapter one begins with the town crier shouting about a missing boy.  The missing boy?  None other than little George.  He had heard music and ran off with the band. We've only just begin Beethoven but Supergirl was delighted that it begins at the beginning with the birth of Ludwig.

Having Fun with Handel

When we started the program, I had it in my head that we had to read the whole chapter, which was very long, and then we could start the activities.  We took several days to read chapter one and then we began to work through the activities. When we finished week 1, I decided to change things up and we would overlap reading the book with working through the Student Activity Book. The suggested pace is four weeks per composer but we ended up taking about 1 1/2 weeks to complete 1 week.  This slower pace works better for Supergirl.

Supergirl cutting out a minibook; Music Program #hsreviews at Circling Through This Life

Supergirl had this to say about learning about Handel:  "I like how we read about how Handel was a little kid and how he went outside to listen to the music and his family tried to find him.  I like how we read it together. I love the lapbook! I liked talking about the questions. I liked finding the places on the map where Handel went. I liked eating foods that Handel might have eaten. It was fun."

I think she just really likes the food related activities included for each composer!  We started Beethoven and she insisted on having oatmeal for breakfast because "Beethoven ate porridge and oatmeal is like porridge"  She also urgently called me to "come here!" She was sitting at the table flipping through the activity book and found Hayden.  She spotted ice cream.  "Look, Mama!  I can eat ice cream!"   I think we'll be moving on to Hayden when we finish Beethoven.

Zeezok Publishing LLC  Homeschool Music Curriculum review at Circling Through This Life #hsreviews

This is a wonderful curriculum that can be used for children from elementary through 6th grade.  I think 7th and 8th graders would be able to use it as well.  Want to know more?  Click on the banner below to read more crew member reviews of this program.

Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

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