Friday, September 27, 2013

My Week In Images

This rainstorm.....

because even though I love the summer, the soft rain is lovely.

This pink rose.....

because the rose season is almost over.

This candied ginger....

because everyone deserves a treat once in a while.

This writing class in our co-op, courtesy of Mr. Pudewa of IEW....

because my son actually listed writing as one of his favorite school subjects.

This creation....

because occasionally I do let my children play with their food.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Real Math

If you know me in real life, you know that I am not a math person. But real math; the kind of math you use in the kitchen, around the house, and in the grocery store, is the kind I get.

And being the frugal kind of person that I try to be, I like those deliberate moments when I can show my kids how math helps them find a good deal.

This particular lesson was inspired by those dumb candy machines that stand outside the grocery store. You know, those little things that ask for a quarter and give you the smallest handful of sugary candy, or a silly toy that breaks by the time you get to the car.

And the item in question?


One of my favorite candies, actually.

First, we all went to the store and bought Skittles three different ways:

From the candy aisle, in a 2 ounce bag....

From the bulk section, where you dish it out into a bag yourself.....

And  a quarter's worth, from the candy machine.

Then we laid all of them out on the table and compared.

First, the vending machine candy.

This is what we got for 25 cents:

A measly 11 candies.

Next, the bag of Skittles, which cost 68 cents and weighed a little over 2 ounces.

Finally, we laid out the same amount of Skittles we would have gotten in the 2 ounce bag, but bought in the bulk section.

Just visually seeing this comparison was compelling; Nutsy announced that any candy bought at candy machines as a rip off.

Now the math started. By figuring out how many ounces were in a pound, and doing the multiplying and dividing, my older ones were able to see how much of a cost difference we had here.

The results?

Candy from bulk: $2.48 a pound
Candy from Skittles bag: $5.44 a pound
Candy from rip off candy machine: $8.00 a pound.

Crazy, huh?

This was a big eye opener for my kids....I don't usually ever let them buy from the machines but they will try to ask. Since we have done the experiment they haven't asked, and think twice about buying it in the candy aisle. This lesson probably will backfire on me though....we have a huge bulk section at our store that sells everything from mini snickers bars to dried fruit to gummy bears. But at least when they have permission to buy, they will be doing it wisely.

And the best part of this lesson?

Getting to eat all of the Skittles.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I can't believe it is going to be October next week. What happened to September?

What I'm listening to: Bookworm is practicing her piano right now. It's a lovely sound for a Monday morning.

What we're learning: This week the older kids are writing a paper about electrolysis in chemistry. Dasher has a new spelling list in Logic of English, and Nutsy is still enjoying her Reading Kingdom lessons. We are all learning about the Law and wilderness wanderings in history.

What I'm watching: The weather change. We had some rain over the weekend, and it is a tad cooler this week. Don't get me wrong; there are some things I like about fall, but my favorite season is ending....

What's cooking: This week I am making a Chicken and Black Bean Salad, Vegetable Stir Fry, and hamburgers.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful for all the sunshine we get here. It makes me smile when it comes through the window in the morning.

What I'm creating: I am creating a cleaned out closet. We have a closet that is under our stairs so it is perfect for storing things. Or, in the last few months, stashing things that don't have a place in the house. So, I plan to go through it over the next week or two and do some organizing.

What I'm praying: I am praying for wisdom. Not just for myself, but for those of my friends that have teenage children. That God would guide me (and them), as we choose deliberate times to talk to our kids about heart issues, character flaws, and life ahead.

What I'm planning: Well I have my first 4H Communication Project meeting tonight. I am planning to talk about the different kinds of presentations, and do a couple of fun activities to get the kids more comfortable with public speaking.

What we did this last weekend: Saturday we went to our yearly 4H fundraiser. Our grange puts on a breakfast and the kids do all the serving. There were over 300 people there and the kids were busy the whole time. Yesterday we went to church and Sunday School, then to a park with friends for a picnic lunch and fun family baseball game.

What I'm looking forward to: We have some fun stuff planned this week/weekend that I am looking forward to. I am also looking forward to co-op...our chemistry class is getting interesting.

A picture to share:

~Nutsy, making pancakes for breakfast this morning....

Friday, September 20, 2013

My Week In Images

This thrift store skirt.....

because if you know me, you know I am not a shopper, but I do love a good deal.

This pesto.....

which I froze for Pesto Turkey Sandwiches next week.

This lime tree....

because it is such a blessing to have it.

This itty bitty lizard.....

because I am a sucker for my girls and the things they find outside.

My dining room table.....

because the days when it is covered with play cars is numbered.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That today flew. Seriously. I did my morning stuff and then plunged directly into school; that went into the afternoon and then I had a few errands to run. Home for dinner, and this is the first bit of time I have had to sit down and write.

What I'm reading: In literature I am reading aloud the sequel to the book we read last year by Gerald Durrell. It is titled Birds, Beasts, and Relatives, and tells humorous stories about his childhood on an island in Greece. Beware though, there are a few places where I am paraphrasing....

What we're learning: This week the older two are writing a three paragraph story in their writing class. They are learning about story sequencing and fun dress-ups they can use to make the story more lively. In history we are still learning about Egypt; the younger two are looking through elementary books I have about Egyptian life. And in memory work I am having all of them memorize Psalm 121.

What's cooking: This week we are having a leg of lamb that a dear friend gave us. It is from one of her lambs that she butchered, which makes me nervous that I will mess up this gorgeous piece of meat. I am planning to have green beans, rosemary baked potatoes and a salad with it. Other things on the menu? Indian Curry and Pesto-Turkey Sandwiches.

What I'm buying: Today I headed out to Costco...always a fun place, especially with all the samples. And I found a great deal for coconut oil...

What I'm praying: As you know, I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse Crew. (All my homeschooling reviews come from this wonderful company.) Over the weekend, one of my crewmates unexpectedly went home to be with the Lord. I am praying for her husband, two young boys, and extended family, as they deal with the days ahead.

What I'm planning: Well it is my turn to teach in our Chemistry class this week in co-op...I need to watch the lesson and do some lesson planning.

What we did this last weekend: We traded kiddos with one of my best friends for a day....all the girls went to her house and her son came to mine. The guys repaired under our sink and made it look like new. Sunday we went to church and then had friends over, and then back to church for an excellent sermon on Daniel 8. What a comfort to see how God is in control of all things.

What I'm looking forward to: We have co-op this week, which we always look forward to, and a quiet weekend ahead.

A picture to share:

~Today's Together School:

History: Pyramid by David Macaulay
Bible: The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study by Starr Mead
Memory Work: Psalm 121
Art: Starry Night (Van Gogh); The Gleaners (Millet)
Literature: Birds, Beasts, and Relatives by Gerald Durrell

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Week In Images

 This silly bird.....

because he chirps and sings and squawks and loves hanging out with us.

These wonderful helpers.....

because it makes my heart glad when I walk into the kitchen and they are helping me in this way.

This flag.....

because I will never forget.

These making for Tabbouleh....

because it hit the spot with our Gyros for dinner one night.

These peas.....

growing taller and taller each day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

{Crew Review} ~ Logic of English: Essentials

Understanding English is more than just being able to read. It is spelling, vocabulary, composition, and so much more.

And Logic of English has some great products that help you teach your young ones about our beautiful, yet sometimes complicated language.

 photo LOE_logo_wide_inv_3d_70_zpsc2eceeb2.png

What It Is:

Logic of English is a full reading/grammar curriculum. There are two different levels: Foundations and Essentials. I received the Essentials package to use with Dasher.

Meant for ages 7 to adult, this comprehensive reading, spelling, and grammar program is very teacher friendly. In fact, the first 69 pages of the teacher manual are devoted to introducing you to the program. Logic of English begins by focusing on Phonemic Awareness, which is basically the sounds that make up speech. Being made aware of the relationship between the sound of speech and how words appear in print is an important part of reading. Next, the student will learn how sounds come together to make words. They will be taught to see patterns, learn about rhyming, and identify syllables. Another emphasis of the program is to begin with cursive; this can help prevent common printing mistakes and is a more natural way to learn how to write.

The lessons are broken down into parts:

Part 1

Phonograms: These are the sounds that are systematically introduced to the student. Flashcards, teacher-led activities, and worksheets are used to reinforce the sounds taught.

Exploring Sounds: This section includes more phonic activities and exercises that aid the student in identifying different phonograms.

Spelling Rules: In each lesson a new spelling rule is taught. These include ones like the GH being before the letter T, or knowing to double an F after a single vowel.

Part 2

Spelling Dictation and Analysis: In this section you will dictate the spelling list to your child. There is emphasis on breaking the word into individual sounds and tips for difficult spellings.

Spelling Markings: These are marks that the student will make on words to remind them to see multi-letter phonograms as a whole. For example, seeing  sh and ai and saying them as one sound.

Part 3

Grammar: Grammar rules are taught using the spelling list. Parts of speech and punctuation are also taught in this section.

Dictation: Hearing, and then holding a sentence in their memory while they write it is an important skill to have. Many of the lessons have dictation exercises.

Composition: This sounds daunting for beginner students, but these simple exercises help students to build sentences using the words they have been taught.

Vocabulary: This section teaches compound words, roots, and adding prefixes and suffixes.

There are also optional activities that are listed; these are conveniently marked with a symbol that denotes its learning style (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and creative). These are varied and include interactive activities and creative exercises to further teach the concepts in the lessons.

What You Get:

This is what I received from Logic of English:

Essentials Teacher's Manual $95.00
Essentials Student Workbook $25.00
Basic Phonogram Flashcards $18.00
Spelling Rule Flashcards $15.00
Phonogram Game Cards $10.00
Game Book $15.00

You can purchase these items separately, or purchase them in a package. The Essentials package comes with even more goodies.....a Spelling Journal, the Grammar Rule Flashcards, Advanced Phonogram Flashcards, a Quick Reference Chart, and a second set of the game cards. The package can be bought for $187.20, which is a $24 savings if purchased separately.

Included in the Teacher Manual is a very helpful Teacher Resource section; this has all the spelling lists, basic phonograms, spelling and grammar rules, and a helpful grammar guide for writing sentences.

The Phonogram & Spelling Game Book was a great resource. This book contains a ton of games using the provided game cards. Ranging from Go Fish! to Phonogram Basketball, to Spelling Word Memory, these proved to be a creative way to learn the phonograms. The book is divided into sections and include Active Games, Card Games, Sensory Practice and Spelling Games to name a few. At the back of the book are templates and reproducible cards.

The game cards come with two sets, one in cursive and one in manuscript. This helps your child become more familiar with reading cursive sentences.

The Student Workbooks also come in two formats, manuscript and cursive, depending on what you would prefer.

 photo EssentialsWBs_zpsa0cf995a.png

How I Used This:

The first thing I did was open to the beginning and read the teacher section. And what was very impressive to me was the versatility of this curriculum. A late reading elementary student to adult -age student can use it, a struggling speller, a young reader, an emerging reader, and even an ESL student can benefit from this program. There is a whole section for each of the above categories; with tips and sample schedules. There are some prerequisites to this program; before beginning Essentials, it is suggested that your student have basic phonemic awareness and know how to sound and write the letters A-Z.

Reading the struggling reader portion made me think of Dasher who has really had a hard time with reading and writing, so I decided to use this with her. I did spend a few days preparing and familiarizing myself with the curriculum and then we dove in. My goal was to teach one lesson a week. I divided up all of the sections and parts and we met, just the two of us, three times a week to go over the material.

I started at the beginning, even though at times she felt that what we were doing was silly. For example, in the first lesson we sat and said each of the sounds together and talked about what our mouths were doing. This does make sense if you think about it; we hear sounds and put them together to make words and sentences, so knowing exactly what your mouth should be doing when talking is important. We progressed rather quickly through the first two lessons, and starting slowing during the third week. And this is where I started really loving this program; you can easily slow things down and spend more time in the sections when needed. This was also where I started using the Optional Activities, and playing more of the games in the Phonogram & Spelling Game Book. The games were extremely helpful in reviewing the lessons, and were fun to play as well.

What I Thought:

I was pretty impressed with this program. It truly was all-encompassing. I loved it that we would sit down for 30-60 minutes a day and get grammar, spelling, composition, dictation, and vocabulary done. The pace was good; like I said it is very easy to tailor it to your child's needs. And I really appreciated the combination of oral and written exercises. Dasher has a hard time with writing, so being able to spend a chunk of her school time doing oral activities with me was a plus. There are convenient lists of materials needed before each lesson; it listed all the spelling cards, game pieces, and few things from around the house (red pencil, a dice, paper bag, or bell) that you would need to complete the lesson.

The flashcards were very helpful. Below you can see her reading the QU one.

If you turn the card over, you can see examples of the spelling rule. This was very helpful for Dasher; she liked seeing exactly how that rule affected the words.

Every fifth lesson is an Assessment and Review. The Teacher Manual gave specific things to be looking for in your assessment and also listed review activities if needed. The emphasis is not on judging or grading, but mastery. It is also stressed that mistakes will be made, and that part of learning is sometimes forgetting and then remembering. I really loved this. My goal is for my child to master reading and spelling, and to not be discouraged by their mistakes.

The most impressive thing about this program? No complaints from the student. Dasher really, really liked this. Every single day that it was on her schedule she was bugging me to sit down with her and do English. She began to enjoy writing, and together we saw her improve on her spelling. I am super excited to continue using this with Dasher this year.

You might ask what comes before Essentials? It is Foundations, a complete reading, spelling, handwriting and phonics program for those ages 4-7. Other members of The Crew reviewed that, and still others reviewed Logic of English's Rhythm of Handwriting. See what they all thought by clicking below.


 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

{Crew Review} ~ Time4Learning: Online Learning

Let's face it, we are in the age of everything computers and the internet. So I am not surprised when I see more and more opportunities for learning online. Time4Learning is just that, a place for your students to learn online.


What It Is:

Time4Learning is a great tool for homeschoolers. Meant for pre-K through 8th grade, this easy-to-use online program can be tailored to fit your needs. Divided by grade levels, the program offers Language Arts and Reading, Math, Social Studies, and Science.

Grade 1 photo Time4learninggrade1_zps28d16052.jpg

I received a six month subscription at the 1st grade level. Here is a sample of what your child would learn at this level:

Language Arts and Reading: Consonants, short and long vowels, variant vowels, singular and plural, and reading comprehension.....

Math: Whole numbers, operations, shapes, time, measurement, and graphing.....

Social Studies: Human needs, historical sites, map symbols, and states.....

Science: Habitats, life cycles, seasons, and animal classification....

There is also a bonus Language Art Extension section. This compliments the Language Arts section and has added vocabulary, reading themes, and sentence writing practice.

But our kids rarely fall into the same grade in all their subjects. (At least mine don't!) So Time4Learning lets you, the parent, decide to either go up or down a grade level in any subject. That way you can tailor-fit the program to your child's needs.

A large part of the program is the parent resources. Here you can see the spelling lists for each grade level, you can download worksheets, see science lesson supply lists (for grades 3-8), and view lesson plans for each grade.

One thing I did was create a Weekly Activity Planner. All I did was fill in what grade levels I wanted her to do in each subject, enter the start date and end date, (August through January) and the program instantly filled out a day by day schedule for her. This made it very easy to tell her what to do each day; when she would log on, there was an arrow pointing to the topic she was to complete. It also told me which topics had worksheets to print out, showed her progress, and told me if she had a quiz or test to do.

What You Get:

Time4Learning is available by monthly subscription. You can purchase a Pre-K through 8th grade membership for $19.95, with each additional student being only $14.95. Time4Learning also offers four high school courses for $30 per month per student. This is a truly online program; you don't need to download anything and can access the site from any computer. Time4Learning also allows you to pause your account if needed, and has online forums and chats for teacher help.

Time4Learning highly recommends watching the short tutorials on the Parent Administration Page before having your child begin. These were very helpful in navigating the site as a teacher. After viewing, you will be able to track attendance, time spent on topics, and assign work.

Scope and Sequence photo time4learning1_zps32c9d4c1.jpg

You can see above the many activities for each grade level....there are hundreds of activities for your child to do. And there is an extensive curriculum overview on their website too.

How We Used This:

I decided to have Nutsy use this program. When I first received it, I looked through the scope and sequence and decided to put her in 1st grade math, and 2nd grade science and social studies. Right away she started struggling with the math, so I went in and changed it to Kindergarten. Because she has had some math, we skipped ahead a few weeks into the Kindergarten math schedule. Lots of the lessons were interactive; asking the child to click on certain things, or to put things in order. Some of the lessons were read aloud to her, with animated voices. Other lessons were not read to her and had a sentence or two to read at the bottom; this was a bit frustrating for her since she is not reading proficiently yet.

According to her schedule, she had eleven activities to do each week. I had her log on three days a week and do 3 to 4 activities each day, which took her between 20 and 30 minutes. Since we were not doing any formal learning in August this turned out to be a great way to supplement and give her some 'school' to do. At the end of each section there were quizzes; these were not audible and were multiple choice.

What We Thought:

I had visions of Nutsy doing her school time on the computer with me periodically looking over her shoulder, but it didn't turn out that way. Even though she is now eight and can read at about the first grade level, the parts of the program that were not audibly said were too hard for her to read on her own. I needed to stay close by, to help when she needed to read something from the screen. I also noticed that if I wasn't there to supervise, she tended to hit the forward button before completing tasks on the current screen; again this was due to her not being able to read all that it asked her to do. She was also annoyed by one of the character's voice; it sounded like an adult's voice that had been sped up to sound like a child's, and at times was difficult for her to understand.

One thing that both she and I loved was the Playground. You, as the parent, can set a minimum lesson time (I set it for 20 minutes) and a maximum playground time (I set this for 10 minutes). So for every 20 minutes that she worked on a lesson, she earned 10 minutes of play time on the Playground. There was a plethora of games to play games, hide and seek games, and tic-tac-toe were her favorites. This idea gave her added incentive to work on her lessons and was also a fun break as well. You can also give no time on the Playground if you so desire.

This is a secular program. We didn't run into any overtly anti-Christian ideas, although when she did the section on Life Cycles and it was talking about babies coming from mothers, and mothers coming from grandmothers, it said that "We can't tell where it started." She turned to me with a questioning look on her face and said, "What about Adam and Eve?"

I struggled with this program for her. As she is progressing in her schooling, I am finding that she needs one-on-one interaction. She needs me to sit down with her and go over the things she is learning. While I could do this with Time4Learning and sit with her while she listens and does the lessons, I would rather be the one teaching her during our times together, and use computer time for independent learning. Part of our struggle might have been her age; I could see how my two older daughters would have done much better with this program and would have appreciated the scope and sequence.

This would be a great resource for supplementing your homeschooling subjects, or something fun to do while on summer or Christmas break. And this isn't just for homeschooolers! Time4Learning is also a great resource for those wishing more for their kids during the summer and in the afternoons to supplement their schoolwork.

Other Crew members reviewed other grade levels; I enjoyed reading what they thought, and I am sure you would too! Click below to see what they had to say about Time4Learning.

 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif

Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am going to miss summer. Already it seems that it is getting light later in the morning and that the sun is setting earlier. Today it is a hot one here (101 degrees), so I am savoring my favorite weather.

What I'm listening to: The laundry going upstairs. Yes, it is a Monday.

What we're learning: School is now in full swing. This week the older ones are learning about Robert Boyle in chemistry and the Middle Kingdom in ancient Egypt. The girls are enjoying Reading Kingdom and are plugging along in their phonics books.

What I'm watching: The US Open is finishing up today...we taped it all last week during the day and then watched it in the evenings. And we even had most of the kiddos interested too.

What's cooking: This week I am making a couple of things in the crock pot....Teriyaki Chicken and Falafels. I'll also be making a Japanese dish called Tonkatsu and as usual, homemade pizza on Friday night.

What I'm buying: Well, we are going out later today to buy 75 hot dogs, 50 cans of soda, and other condiments. Mr. Lego is on the California Avian Bowl Team and they are going to nationals in Kentucky in November. He has received gift cards from a few grocery stores and so we are having a hot dog fundraising dinner this week at our 4H club meeting.

What I'm creating: I have two reviews to write, plus I still need to come up with a schedule for the Communication Project I am leading this year in 4H. Today is going to be busy....

What I'm praying: There are people in our congregation who are struggling with either illness, injury, or post surgery healing, and I am praying for God's mercy and peace as they go through this week.

What we did this last weekend: Saturday we went through all the bedrooms and took 4 big bags to Goodwill. The kids are getting older and we are transitioning out of plastic food toys and dolls. Saturday evening we were inspired by the US Open and went to play worked really well with Mr. Lego and I on one side and My Sweetie on the other. Yesterday was church and then we went to the assisted living center for their service. Then home with friends for bean burritos and games.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to our 4H meeting this week, not only do we have the hot dog dinner and club meeting, but all of the officers are leading an interactive orientation. I am also looking forward to co-op...we will be getting into writing assignments for the older kids.

A picture to share:

~The first day of school in September 2009. Crazy how the school room has changed. And crazy how quickly they have grown.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Week In Images

Seeing these leaves on the grass out back.....

because they make me think of pumpkins, Gingerbread Lattes, and warm fires.

This Chinese Painting that we got to see the artist paint.....

because it is amazing to see what talents God has given others.

This cutie doing her school.....

because it was a good day.

This lovely peach cobbler with ice cream....

because starting co-op with one of my best friends is a reason to celebrate.

This Key Lime Pie.....

because it was a wonderful way to use up limes from my lime tree.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday Musings (On a Tuesday)

What I'm thinking: That I am ready for school to start, and that I'm not ready for school to start. I'm ready to be back on a schedule again, and ready with all the books. But I'm not ready yet for co-op (starting tomorrow!) and I still have a little scheduling to do to finish planning out the month.

What I'm reading: I am re-reading a book that my dad let me borrow called The Fields Are Adventure by CA Stephens. It was written in 1912 and is a fun book about farm adventures post civil war. I'm thinking about reading it aloud to the kids....

What we're learning: We started school this week! We did about half our subjects today....the other half will be added tomorrow during co-op. Let the formal learning begin again!

What I'm watching: We have been watching lots of tennis lately...the US Open is in full swing and both my Sweetie and I have been enjoying it. My favorite has actually been the rain delays because they show highlights from previous years. Seeing Agassi, Jimmy Connors, and Jennifer Capriati have been fun. And have also made me feel old, since I remember watching some of them live.

What's cooking: Tonight I am making Green Pepper Chicken in the crock-pot, and tomorrow, since we'll be at co-op most of the day, I'll be making Chalupa in the crock-pot. Also on the menu this week? Chicken Broccoli Casserole and Bean Nachos.

What I'm creating: Well, the normal year all starts this week, and we have our first 4H meeting tonight. This is only a planning meeting for the officers, but Mr. Lego is now president and will be leading both tonight's meeting and next week's club meeting. Plus, our State Avian Bowl Team (which Mr. Lego is a part of) will be fundraising by selling hot dogs next week so we need to get hopping with purchasing those supplies. I'm creating lists of things to bring and stuff to get. The speed of life seems to be picking up...

What I'm praying: I am praying for a relative of a friend of mine, who just found out that they have cancer. They'll be doing more testing this week to determine the treatment.

What I'm planning: Well later today I need to plan out our co-op's writing class, and I have my 4H communication project to plan out too.

What we did this last weekend: On Saturday we did things around the house, and my Sweetie took the kids swimming. Sunday we were at church and then had our fellowship meal. Monday was Labor Day so we headed up to my friend's house for her annual Labor Day party...the weather was weird and rained on and off most of the day, which made the volleyball playing interesting!

What I'm looking forward to: I am really looking forward to co-op tomorrow. It is going to be just two families in size, with 8 kids ranging from eight years to sixteen. But it is with one of my dearest friends which makes meeting weekly for school oh so lovely.

A picture to share:

~ A treat for the first day of school....