Friday, August 29, 2014

My Week In Images

 Images of my week.....

This crazy ride.....

because we had a great time and didn't get dumped off.

These beautiful feet......

because looking down at it made me smile.

 This fearless little girl.....

because that is why I call her Nutsy.

Great friends......

because I am truly grateful for them.

These four students......

because this is the last year that I will be teaching all four of them. {Mr. Lego is a senior!}

Monday, August 25, 2014

{Crew Review} UberSmart Math Facts

Looking for a way to review those math facts? Then UberSmart Software might be just the thing for you.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

What It Is:

UberSmart Software has a wonderful math review program called UberSmart Math Facts. Meant for ages K-6th, this no-frills math review system is perfect for homeschoolers.

Before you begin, you create an account for each of your students. This way, you can create a custom set of math flashcards for each of them to work through.

How does this work?

Learn: This section of the program teaches the math facts. There are two sub-sections: Beginner and Intermediate.The Beginner flashcards are dots, which look like the dots on a dice. Your student will see the problem come up on the screen, with multiple choices for the answer. They will select "show", and then the correct dice top is left remaining.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
{In this example the dice showing 3 is the correct answer}

In Intermediate, the math fact is shown (5+5; or 6+7) and then when "show" is clicked, the answer is given.

Practice: This part focuses on repetition of the facts. You can choose from three different ways to do this. The first is Dot Cards (Beginner). These appear exactly as they did in the Learn section, but now, your child must choose which of the dice shows the correct amount. The second practice option is Keyboard Entry (Beginner). On the screen a one or two digit number will appear, and your child must enter the same number using the keyboard.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

The third way to use Practice is Flash Cards (Intermediate). The math facts are given in flashcard fashion and the student will enter the correct answer using the keyboard. All of these exercises are timed so this can give added incentive to your kiddos.

Test: There are two different types of tests to take: Assessment Test (Beginner) and Mastery Test (Intermediate). Both of these are assessment type tests. They vary in length, depending on how many facts your child can recall. At the end of the assessment is a report; this tell you in what sections they excelled, where they had problems, and which sections they could not complete based on their ability. The Mastery Test covers all four math areas; addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Compete: This section is a timed flash card exercise. Your student chooses their age range (elementary, middle school, high school, or adult) and what math facts area they want to be tested in. Then the timer begins and the math facts start. At the end of the exercise, they are told in what percentage they fall with the average population.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

What You Get:

With your download, you will receive access for up to eight math students. And for only $24.95 this is really a great deal. You can also purchase a Professional Version for classroom schools. And it conveniently works with Windows 7, 8, XP, and Vista.

You can customize each of your students accounts, and after the Assessment Test, will know exactly what they need to work on. On the home screen is a Report Tab; here you can see their progress in all areas, how quickly they answered questions, and their percentage of correct answers. You can also change small things within each account under the Maintain Tab, such as the seconds per problem, or the upper limit of the multiplication and division questions. The multiplication and division problems do go from 9's to 20's.

How We Used This And What We Thought:

I had both of the younger girls using this the last month or so. It was the perfect time to be reviewing our math facts....those facts that I didn't want to lose during the summer. I went in and customized each of their accounts so that they were working right where they had left off when we stopped school for the summer. 

Nusty was working on her addition and subtraction facts. I had her take the assessment which showed that she needed help with subtraction. This was the perfect fit for her; repetitiveness is key with math facts and I saw a marked improvement in her speed. She really liked the timed exercises in the Compete sections and kept trying to get a better percentage.

Dasher is struggling right now with her multiplication facts. This was where I did like being in control of what she worked on; she works best when working with just the x2 facts, or x10 facts, so I would go in and enter what I wanted her to work on. She did not care for the timed sections of this product; those type of things make her nervous and she gets upset when she can't think of the answer and has the clock counting down for her. This was where I was very appreciative of the ability to turn off the clock (even though it did keep running and told me how long it took her). I was also able to go in and adjust how long she was given to answer the questions.

Now if I would have asked my girls what they thought of this product, there would have probably been some groans. But seriously, who enjoys going over math facts? This is one of the many things that we have to learn, and like it or not, it is a part of our school life. I really did like the no-frills way that UberSmart helped my girls become more proficient at their math facts.

Other Crew members reviewed this product; check out what they thought by clicking below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Church Camping Trip 2014

Last week we had our 2014 Church Camping Trip.

We headed to the same place we have gone to in the past, but to a different section of the campground.

Lots more trees and flat places to put our tents.

One of the other big differences was that there was none of this:

Because of the drought here in CA, the water was super low, and the jump would have been close to 50 feet, so no bridge jumping this year.

Instead we found a place to put up our volleyball net.

The first day a bunch of people went over to the opposite shore to get a couple of logs to play with.

This was tons of fun.....the trick being to see how long you could stay up.

This happened.....

and then a second later it looked like this.

One afternoon a bunch of us headed across the spillway to the other side to explore. I didn't bring my camera because I wanted to swim back, but we found lots of cool rocks, did some cliff climbing, and found this amazing mud beach.

Seriously, when we would step into it we would sink up to our thighs in mud. Which led to an insane mud fight, of course. When looking at all the boys I literally could not recognize them, they were so covered in mud.

We had our usually yumminess for food......

And each evening we would stay up late playing games.

With the ever present Gummy Bears.....

One night all the ladies played a crazy game of Wits and Wagers....

In the mornings our pastor led us in devotions where we talked about being content. There were some very good lessons learned.

Lots of good friends {purple friends},



And smiles.

Our last night was a Skit Night.

Nutsy was in a couple of them...

And we adults made up our own song titled "If You Go A-Camping".

The only mishap happened when we saw this guy at the edge of the campground.

And one morning we found this.

And guess what that big bugger did; he ate all of my bread. And get this - he bypassed a whole bag of processed, store-bought bagels and ate every single crumb of my homemade bread.

Another camping year gone, but such good memories made.

{My camping peeps}

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Curriculum Choices 2014

It is that time of year again, when we start school back up.

Here is what I am thinking to use this year with my kiddos....

The Older Ones

These are my older two, who are in 10th and 12 grades this year. (Okay, did I just really type that?!?)

They are doing most of their subjects together this year.

Math: Abeka Consumer Math.  This is meant for the 12th grade level but I think Bookworm will be able to keep up.

Literature/Theology: Self Paced Omnibus I from Veritas Press. I reviewed this over the summer and really fell in love with the format and what is covered. This year both of them will watch lectures, answer questions, and read Gilgamesh, Hammurabi, The Odyssey, Plutarch, Aeneid, Socrates and lots more.

Grammar: IEW has come out with a new version of Fix-It Grammar; I am reviewing this very soon and plan to incorporate it into their school schedules.

Science: This year our co-op is going to go through Christian Liberty Press' High School Biology course. And yours truly is teaching it....I am still lesson planning but am excited to teach this fun science to the high school aged students.

History: My friend is teaching this to our co-op, and we are using Biblioplan's Middle Ages book. Along with discussion questions, they will also have literature assignments from that time period.

Writing: Incorporated into our co-op, all the high school students will be required to write essays each month, based on what they are learning in science and history. We use IEW's Student Writing Intensive as a spine, with a focus on essay writing.

Foreign Language: This is where the kids are going to be splitting up: Mr. Lego is actually going to be taking a Spanish class from our local junior college. This is a great opportunity for him, where he will get to experience lectures and homework assignments in a classroom situation. His one semester class will fulfill a year requirement for foreign language. Bookworm has opted out of taking a foreign language this year, and will wait until she is 16 and can also take the class at the college.


Dasher is my child who struggles in school....I go at a much slower pace with her and do lots of her subjects one-on-one.

Grammar: We will continue doing Logic of English. Ever since I reviewed this last year I have loved using it. It cover phonics, reading, vocabulary, handwriting, spelling, and comprehension. We usually spend at least an hour a day doing these lessons.

Math: This is the one subject Dasher really struggles with. In fact, she has most of the symptoms for dyscalculia. Because of this we use a variety of math resources and kind of do our own thing. This includes Right Start Math and Math U See worksheets, plus lots and lots of tactical manipulatives including Wrap Ups, the abacus, and number blocks. We will also utilize online resources like Mathletics and Math Rider.

One of the other things I am having her also do a couple times a week is Hear Builder Auditory Memory. This software program helps her to remember details and improves her short term memory.

Reading: She is not a natural reader so as part of her daily homeschool schedule she has a 20 minute reading time. And the books she will read this year? Books from Adventures in Odyssey and a biography of Handel.

Geography: This year I am having her go through Geography I from Memoria Press. This will give her a good overview of Europe, N. Africa, and the Middle East.

History: She will take the Middle Ages history class in co-op; during the week I will supplement it and read aloud to the younger two from The Story of the World and other literature sources.

Science: The younger group of students in our co-op this year are going to study Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology. They will use the Notebooks and do the experiments in the book.

Writing: The younger kids in co-op will continue doing Student Writing Intensive from IEW. This year we will focus on reports and creative writing.


Grammar: She will be continuing with Foundations C. We will probably finish up with it at the end of the first semester, so she will then move right into Logic of English. Again, this covers so much....phonics, reading, vocabulary, handwriting, spelling, and comprehension. I LOVE it.

Math: We started Singapore Math last year and she is really responding well to it. So we won't change a good thing....

Science: She will also take the co-op Anatomy and Physiology class....Apologia has Junior Notebooks which are perfect for her to use during the class.

Reading: I will have her read for 15 minutes every school day....and I'll let her pick out simple chapter books from our collection.

History: She will listen in on our weekly history class in co-op, but I will supplement with daily reading. mapwork, activities and coloring pages from Story of the World

Handwriting: This year I decided to go with A Reason For Handwriting. I love that she is copying straight scripture in the workbook.

I also have some fun stuff for her to do while her siblings finish up school each day.....

These iron-bead thingys are a huge hit with the all of my girls. I have a stash of them in the schoolroom so she can get into it in the afternoons while the older ones are still working on school.

 And I have a drawer full of watercolor paint and brushes too.

I have puzzles, those rubber band looms, and a geometric shape tack set, which she loves to use to make all sorts of shapes.

Together School

Each year I do less and less in our Together School....we are definitely becoming more spread out in our subjects! The one thing I will do each school day that is required of all my children is Bible. And we will continue to go through Bible Doctrine for Teens and Young Adults by James Beeke.

With the younger ones I will still go over English From the Roots Up and have a daily literature reading time.

And that is the plan.

Of course, the plan changes from time to time. Since I review products, I incorporate them into our daily school, and sometimes they become long term subjects. Or, I find that a certain curriculum doesn't fit my child's learning style, so we'll switch it up.

But it is nice to have a plan, and to know where we are headed.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Week In Images

 This roadside vegetable stand.....

 because I love getting my produce there.

This bowl of tomatoes.....

because they were from my mother in law, which made them all the more special.

These sweet girls.....

because they won't stop growing, even though I ask them very nicely.

This delicious plate of food.....

because I had fun making it up as I went.

This surprise party.....

because my husband planned it all and pulled it off, just for me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

{Crew Review} Mathletics

The online homeschooling world is always expanding, with new products and tools to help us homeschooling mommas.

From 3P Learning, Mathletics is a fun place for students in K-12 grades.

Mathletics Online Math Review
What It Is:

This online math program is meant to supplement your current math program, and it does it in lots of fun ways.

On the side bar of your child's home page are the many options they can choose from.

These include:


This is the meat of the program; in each level there are different topics that you or your child can choose from. Within those topics are individual subjects to pick. The student does not need to go in order and can jump around as needed. Nutsy is in the 3rd grade and the topics she can choose from are:

  • Counting and Cardinality (19 subjects, including Concept of Zero, Count by Tens, More or Less)
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking (10 subjects, including Subtracting from Ten, Adding to Five, Doubles and Halves)
  • Numbers and Operations in Base Ten (6 subjects, including 1 to 30 and Making Teen Numbers)
  • Measurement and Data (8 subjects, including Compare Length and Everyday Mass)
  • Geometry (10 subjects, including Sort It, Left or Right, and Solid Objects)

These activities use questions to help your students excel at these math subjects, and are meant to reiterate your current math curriculum. The student reads the questions and then types in the correct answer.

A buzzer lets them know if they were right or wrong, and at the end of the questions the student can review what they got wrong. At the end of each topic list is a test, where you can evaluate their progress.

Live Mathletics

This is another fun aspect of this program. When you click on this button you can choose a Computer Challenge or World Challenge. The World Challenge will match you up with two or three other "players" from around the world and you will race each other in a timed math facts game.

 Problem Solving

This area of the program is where your child can choose different games to play. Some of the headings for the types of games are Division, Money, Data, and Venn Diagrams. For instance, in one game under the Position heading Nutsy had 50 moves to move a mother bird around a grid to collect worms for her baby.

She had to choose carefully and not make any extra moves or she did not have enough to get back to the nest.

Concept Search

This feature is two-fold and has both an Animated Math Dictionary and Concept Search.

The Animated Math Dictionary is actually pretty cool. You click on a math word (acute angle, decagon, height) and it not only give you the definition, but shows you a photo or animation as well.

The Concept Search is much the same, except you are learning about mathematical concepts, such as Cubed Numbers, and Eratosthenes. (Don't know what that is? I didn't either. It is a method of locating prime numbers by eliminating their multiples.) Mr. Lego would have loved this feature during his algebra class last year!

Rainforest Maths

This area is another set of games. You can choose from seven levels that go up to 7th grade math. The games come from four sections; Number, Algebra, Measurement, and Space (geometry).

In the measurement section Nutsy was dragging the movable tape to measure distance.
Times Table Toons

This final section is obviously a tool to teach the times tables. These are songs that list the math facts for each times table (1x2 =2, 2x2=4...) The songs are a bit repetitive and don't vary too much; the facts are repeated in rap like fashion. Nutsy was not too impressed with this section...the one thing that I did like is that the math facts are written as they are said in the song so you can easily follow along.

As you play the above games and do the activities, you will earn points which count towards certificates. You might think that this is nothing, but Nutsy loved watching her daily and weekly points increase as she played the games and did the math problems.

What You Get:

With your subscription you will receive a year's access to Mathletics. At the time of this review they are running a special; each subscription is only $59 per child. They do offer family discounts which go down in price with the number of children. You can sign up for a free trial for ten days to try out the program.

The subscription comes with parent access as well, with your own password and user name. From here you can edit your child's account, including their grade level. Here you can also access the Instant Workbooks.  These downloadable workbooks have problems for all levels, including Algebra. These can easily be printed and used as extra work for your students to do.

On the parent homepage you can also see the scope and sequence of each of the level. You can access your child's account and see their progress, certificates earned, and weekly reports. There is also a Task Manager, where you can assign certain topics or activities for your child to do.

How We Used This And What We Thought:

I had Nutsy use this program. She loved being able to choose the games to play and topics to go over. Since we are on summer break I let her do the choosing; when we begin school up in a couple of weeks I am going to use the Task Manager and assign her things to do that coincide with her math curriculum.

The games are very interactive and age appropriate. I also liked it that you can play it multiple times. In some sections you need to play certain games before 'unlocking' others; this gave her incentive to do some of the harder games that she might not have tried to play. And she loved being able to see her progress each day, as she added points to her weekly total.

Let's face it, math can at times, be a drag. This online math program changes that, and gives students a fun and engaging way to learn math. I am also going to check out the older age levels; in looking at the Instant Workbooks I saw ones that included Trigonometry, Financial Mathematics, and Geometry. These are a great ways to get in that extra math practice and to help your child excel at math.

Other Crew members reviewed the other grade levels; check out what they thought by clicking below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer