Showing posts from May, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Today is Memorial Day.  I know that there are lots of activities, parades, and bbq’s happening today.  Some are celebrating the beginning of summer.  (It sure doesn’t feel like summer here at all), Others are honoring all service members past and present, alive or dead.  Some are just enjoying a day off from work and still others wish to celebrate but don’t have the day off. For me Memorial Day is about honoring those who have DIED, specifically those who died IN SERVICE (started with Civil War, I believe) and less specifically those who had served at some point and died and then even more globally loved ones who have died. Though I am truly grateful those who are PRESENTLY serving, and those who have served but are STILL ALIVE, today, I focus on remembering those who have died. May their memories be eternal. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II.  My father fought in Korea.  Two of my uncles fought in Vietnam.  None of them died in battle or while still on active duty, al

TOS Review: Read for the Heart

Because we love to read and because we strive for a literature rich environment to support our literature based approach to home education, I eagerly filled out the interest form for Apologia Educational Ministries’s , Read for the Heart because “I am always looking for great books to read to my girls.  This book looks like it will give me some great ideas”.  Read for the Heart was not what I expected. I expected a book that listed some great books that I could read to my children or that my children could read to themselves.  Yes, Sarah Clarkson shares great literature in several categories but this book is different from other "read aloud list” type books I’ve read. Miss Clarkson, a home school graduate, was raised in a literature rich environment.  As I read the first few chapters, I kept thinking, “this is what I hope my children have to say about our home school.”  She confirms for me the choice I made as a parent to place a high priority on books. In the first four c

Read Aloud Challenge 5/26

I’ve had such a busy May that it should not surprise me that it is the end of the month already but it does.  Time rocketed by me during May and I missed posting last week about the Reading Aloud Challenge. Not only have we NOT finished any of the books I’ve posted about, but for most of them we’ve not even made any progress.   Despite my desire to make reading aloud a priority in our lives, this month I’ve really struggled.  I decided to give myself permission to relax about the reading aloud and encourage the girls with their independent reading.  I also decided to spend some time reading for me.  There are benefits to having your children see YOU reading for pleasure. And it’s not that I haven’t read aloud, it’s that I wasn’t reading aloud our literature choices.  Ok I haven’t read aloud to BooBear or Turtlegirl but I have been reading aloud history/social studies to Tailorbear and Supergirl along with some science. You can read my past Read Aloud updates here .  Debra at Footpri

TOS Review: Considering God’s Creation

I was familiar with the name Considering God’s Creation .  I knew it was a creation based science curriculum for elementary students. The authors, Sue Mortimer and her sister, Betty Smith, created this science program for their own children.  Published by Eagle’s Wings , Considering God’s Creation (CGC) utilizes a notebook approach to learning.  As students work through the program they create a notebook that is “simple to store and impressive to show to family and friends.” I had planned on using this with both Tailorbear (6th grade) and Supergirl (working at a 1st grade level).  The program states that it would be appropriate for grades 2-7.    Because the units stand alone and are not dependent on each other, I let Tailorbear choose the topic that interested her most.  She choose “The Universe, Stars and Planets".  My plan was to use this with both girls and add in some of the “Digging Deeper” suggestions for Tailorbear. For every lesson CGC includes a “Digging Deeper” se

TOS Review: All Together Social Studies

Vendor:  Pearson Product: Scott: Foresman Social Studies Title: All Together Intended Age: First Grade Price:$43.47 Main Website: Product Page Website: All Together Web page for ordering: Price Chart This resource is divided into 4 sections: Explore the United States: These glossy pages are numbered E2-E16.  There are 7 two-page spreads focusing on one state and introducing a particular social studies topic such as History, Culture, Geography, etc. Social Studies Handbook: These pages are bright and colorful but not glossy.  Pages are numbered H2-H26 and divided into subsections: Citizenship Skills, Research Skills, Geography Skills. The Units : This is the bulk of the book and contains the lessons Reference Guide: These pages are numbered R1-R27 and include subsections of Atlas, Geography Terms, Picture Glossary, and Index. The heart of All Together is the Unit section. Unit 1: Time for School Unit 2  In My Community Unit 3  Work! Work! W

TOS Review: Wordy Qwerty Online Edition

I’ve said it before: the beauty of the Review Crew is finding some gem of a product.  I have to confess that I wasn’t really interested in reviewing this one.  I didn’t have any children in the target range (grades 2-4).  I knew that it was too advanced for Supergirl and that it was below Tailorbear.  But now I am so excited to tell you about Wordy Qwerty Online Edition from Talking Fingers because I really like this product!  Targeted for 2nd to 4th graders who have learned the basics of phonics and are ready to learn how to build words in English, Wordy Qwerty teaches 20 spelling rules in 20 fun-filled lessons.  You can download a detailed scope and sequence chart here .  The scope and sequence chart doesn’t just show which rule is taught, but also displays specific items covered in each activity of each lesson. There are 6 game like activities for each lesson: Pattern (Spelling Rule) —in this activity children sort words into two groups and look for a pattern.  From the pat

Must. Calm. Down.

Right now I feel like life is just spinning out of control.  I’ve got so much on my plate and so much that I have to do.  My head is spinning as I try to figure out where to start.  Do I start with the last review I have due this week, or clean my bathroom?  Maybe I should start with doing school with Supergirl using the review products that have reviews due next week?  Maybe I should start with getting school done with Tailorbear who is finishing up her 6th grade work? I am grateful the the sun is shining because that sunshine is keeping me from becoming MORE of a screaming maniac.  I am also grateful for blogging which at this very moment is helping me to sort out all this BLAH inside my head. I keep asking myself two things:  HOW did the house get this messy and out of control? and WHY did we let it get this way?  I don’t like the answers that I hear quietly whispering in the back of my mind.  Can you hear the whispers?  Routines,  Habits,  Lazy,  Priorities, Lazy, Tired, Lazy, Ro

TOS Review: Mad Dog Math

One of the fun things about the Review Crew is finding products that I never would have found on my own.  Mad Dog Math-At Home is one of those products.  Mad Dog Math is available in two formats: pencil & paper or interactive software.  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the software with a 12 week license. Mad Dog Math is different from other math drill programs we’ve used.  Most of the drills we’ve done have focused on adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing by the same number.  For example all the problems in a set will have +2 (3+2, 4+2, 7+2 etc). Instead,  Mad Dog Math uses “Fact Families”.   The fact family for the number 3 would include these facts:  0+3, 1+2,  3+0, 2+1, 3-0, 3-2, and 3-1.  This is an aspect of the program that I love. The Fact Families approach is not the only thing that sets this drill program apart.  This second difference is how I got my reluctant tween daughter to try the program. “Do I have to? It reminds me of every other math drill

Preview: The Music of Robert Pierre

Robert is just a typical teenager who enjoys water basketball and being with his friends.  Or is he? Meet Robert Pierre, an 18 year old High School senior set to graduate this week.  This Christian singer-songwriter has just finished recording the vocals for his third album.  Hailing from the Orlando, FL area, Robert as begun rehearsals for a few summer festivals. His new CD is due out later this summer, but I had the opportunity to listen to his EP and I get to share these four songs with you!  If you like contemporary Christian music with an upbeat, feel good tempo you’ll want to check out these songs.  I particularly enjoyed “Jesus” and as the mother of teenagers, I appreciated the fourth song “Identity”.  I think hearing about standing up for your faith in midst of peer pressure is more effective coming from another teenager than from a parent or another adult. This EP by Robert Pierre is available on Noisetrade.  You can go to to

TOS Review: Wonder Maps

Our family has recently had the opportunity to try out Wondermaps from Bright Ideas Press.   Wondermaps is a customizable collection of over 350 maps.  Mapping is a great way to add geography skills to any literature rich home school.  Product name: Wondermaps Vendor: Bright Ideas Press Age Range All ages Price: $49.95 Format: Software available as download only or download + CD Operating System: Available for Mac or Windows Website: I  want describe how Wondermaps works but I think this tutorial clip does a far better job explaining the product than I could. Features that I appreciated: Alphabetical Indexes of maps. There is an alphabetical index of maps for the two section that covers the World, Continents, Regions and Nations, and United States Chronological Index for the Historical Maps section.   Thematic Index for the Thematic Maps The Teacher’s Guide section which includes a tutorial video, a Quick Start page and a user manual as well as li

Thinking Back on the Crew Year

I can’t believe how fast the year has gone!  The Crew year starts in mid-June and we’ll finish up the year at the end of May.  Jodi, our lovely Blog Cruise hostess, encourages us to share our favorite homeschool experience in relation to our participation in this year’s Crew. I don’t know how to pick out ONE favorite experience so I’ll share three specific experiences. First, I  want to share about something that happened early in the crew year.  Our Vendor Liaison Crew Leader, Brenda kept a list for us of upcoming vendors with links to the website.  This list whet our appetites and kept us guessing as to which particular product we might receive.  There was a vendor on the list that I was sure I did not want their product.  Just what in the world would I do with it?  Why would I want it.  It seemed geared for the classroom; how would it possibly work in a home environment?  I was sure this was one product that I did NOT want.  Well, my name was on the list.  Remember this was very

31 Days to Clean Challenge Days 6-10

Like I posted with my Reading Aloud Challenge , this wasn’t such a good week for cleaning either.  I might not have completed as many cleaning tasks as I would have liked, but I did get a blessing from one of the readings: Day 6, the 6 item list. The author, Sarah Mae, sums it up this way: Every night before bed write down the top six things, in order, that you need to accomplish the next day (no more than six). then, go systematically through the list, completing the tasks in order, crossing out each thing as you go. (p. 17) The idea of a to do list isn’t new to me.  It’s the narrowing it down with which I struggle.  I tried this one day towards the end of the week but I found myself asking “6 specific or 6 general?”  “Can I pick six things of housework *and* six things of home school?” Even though I only tried one day, I realized that I do need to narrow it down to six things.  This week, I’m going to choose 6 things that I MUST do.  I’m not going to try to categorize thing

TOS Review: IEW Teaching Writing Structure & Style + Student Writing Intensive C

  If there is one subject that I feel inadequate to teach, that subject would be writing.  I’ve been formally home schooling  since June of 1999 when my oldest daughter turned 4 years old.  For 12 years I have hunted and searched for some program or resource that I could use to teach writing skills to my children. I didn’t lack assignments, I lacked instruction.  Program “X” would assign writing 8 sentences, yet leave me wondering how do I teach them how to write 8 sentences?  Another program would tell me that my children needed to write everyday and that writing everyday would be the key to learning how to write, but they failed to tell me what to write or how to write.  My children didn’t know HOW to organize their thoughts. They didn’t know WHAT to write. Still other programs required so much “coaching” and “mentoring” that I felt I had no time left to teach any other subjects never mind the fact that I didn’t know how to coach or mentor! Despite my desire to make writing a prior

Read Aloud Challenge May 12th

This was not a good week for us for reading aloud.  We just didn’t get to it.  I did start a couple of books this week: This is Tailorbear’s Read Aloud for her Sonlight Core 4 (now called Core E), In Search of the Source, by Neil Anderson.  It’s a true story of how the Folopa people received their the Bible in their own language.  This is my third time reading it aloud and I am enjoying it as much this time as I did when I read first to BooBear and next to Turtlegirl.  The other girls are allowed to listen in as well but it is only required listening for TailorBear.  We’ve really only really just started it.  I am hoping for some nice weather so Tailorbear and I can go outside to read together. I’ve started a new Yesterday’s Classics book to Supergirl.  Dooryard Stories by Gudrun Thorne-Thomsen.  This is going to be our “Wednesday wait in the van for her sisters to come out from piano lessons” book.  Since it’s on my Nook it will be easy to just bring it along and it gives us so

TOS Review:

My 10th grade daughter has been wanting to do more to take care of herself. When we found out about, Boo Bear eagerly asked me to fill out the Vendor Interest Form for the crew.  She knew this would be something she could do on her own and take responsibility for her own health. According to the FAQ, is an “online fitness and nutrition community that delivers daily fitness, nutrition, wellness, and motivation content to students and teachers across the US”.  They provide a place for kids and teens of all ages to get moving. “encourages everyone to: GO get active, TRY something new and BE your best!”  Their fitness videos are led by certified trainers.The nutrition information is approved by GoTrybe's own registered dietitian. When you create an account with you get to choose which the Trybe that fits your grade level.  There are three: ZooDoos for grades k-5,  Trybe180 for grades 6-8 and NextTrybe for grades 9-12. Members earn p

It Can’t Be Done

My family has been on a Stargate kick here lately.  We’ve been watching 1 to 2 episodes most nights for some time now.  I don’t remember what season we are on now.  It could be season 8, but I want to say season 9. My daughter just informed me that we are indeed in season 8. In last night’s episode, “ Avatar ”, Teal’c, is trapped inside a virtual simulation game. The game is in learning mode and creating the game based on Teal’c’s thoughts and wishes. Teal’c wants the game to be harder.  He wants it to be more realistic. The game adapts and becomes more realistic.  The fail safe fails because in reality Teal’c would never give up so the game won’t allow him to “give up” or quit.  Deep down, almost secretly, Teal’c also believes that the Goa’uld can’t be beat. Since the point of the game is  to defeat the invasion of the Stargate base and since ultimately the Goa’uld can’t be beat, the game cannot be won. Teal’c becomes discouraged.  He can’t quit and he can’t win.  The rest of the

31 Days To Clean Check In Days 1-5

This was not the week to start a challenge!  We were starting back to school after having 2 weeks off for Holy Week and Pascha.  That meant we were really supposed to hit the books hard because we had 4 weeks (now 3!) left of this school year. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve been sick.  I haven’t been sleeping because I have this horrible cough.  I also ended up with two out of four sick children.  I made the command decision that we would do what we can and that I will just plan on repeating the 31 day challenge over and over again. Christian at Joyful Mothering proposed a 5 day a week schedule. This means that we’ll be going past May 31st.  She wants to allow for days off to avoid burnout.  Oh yeah and to allow for life to be well life like it was for me. I intend to follow the 5 day idea but I suspect that I won’t be taking Saturday’s off.  We typically allow for projects and deeper cleaning on Saturdays.  If I do one or 2 projects on Saturday, I won’t feel quite so pressured tryin

TOS Review: Andi’s Fair Surprise

Supergirl and I have been reading an adorable book from Kregel Publications .  This book, Andi’s Fair Surprise , is part of the Circle C Beginnings Series by author Susan K. Marlow. Supergirl is learning to read and is not quite ready for reading chapter books independently, but I thought we could try reading it together.  I took the time to underline words I knew she knew and I would read until I got to an underlined word, then she would read it.  This was good reading practice for her but we weren’t enjoying the book.  So we stopped and we started over using the book as a read aloud. Andi’s Fair Surprise is the story of 6 year old Andrea Carter of Circle C Ranch and her trip to the California State Fair.  She wants to bring her pony for a chance to win a blue ribbon but she is told that she is “too little”.  While at the fair, Andi discovers a ring toss game.  She really wants to win the cowboy hat and spends all her money trying to ring a peg.  Discouraged and disappointed when

Reading Aloud Challenge 5/5

Wow, today is May 5th.   Today my father would have been 75 years old.  I miss him.  He wasn’t a book person though.  I don’t remember ever seeing my father with a book in his hand nor do I recall my father ever reading to me.  He might have.  Maybe.  When I was very small but I doubt it. I have no memory of my mother reading aloud to me either but I suspect she did.  She introduced me to books.  She always has a book around that she is reading.  When she was here visiting last time, she even went to the book mobile with us and checked out a book.   I have fond memories of riding my bike to the library to check out books. Yesterday was a bright and beautiful sunny day.  My girls needed to be outside so I shooed them out with books!  I love reading outside.  We often do our read alouds outside in the summer.  We’ve only had two nice days so far this spring but neither of them allowed for reading aloud together outside. I’m sick (again!) and haven’t done as much reading aloud.  The “

TOS Review: Yesterday’s Classics

Do you or children like to read?  Do you like e-books?  Do you use a literature based approach to home education?  If you answered yes to any of those questions you’ll want to know more about this bundle package of e-books from Yesterday’s Classics .  I love to read.  My children love to read (and be read to!). I use a literature based curriculum to home educate my children.  I do not like e-books.  Or rather I didn’t until I discovered Yesterday’s Classics. Grab a cup of coffee or tea or whatever hot (or cold) beverage helps you relax.  Let’s talk about e-books from Yesterday’s Classics . .  Yesterday’s Classics republishes out-of- print classics from “the golden age of Children’s Literature , the era from 1880 to 1920.”  They have history books covering the great civilizations such as Greece and Rome and literature books including poetry and hero tales. The books encompass 22 genres! There are books for young children, books for upper elementary and even books for high school