Tuesday, June 28, 2016

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ Veritas Press

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review a product from Veritas Press. This company is a great resource for classical Christian education. I received the Self-Paced Bible: Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

What It Is:

This is a Bible course that is completely online. There are 128 lessons to watch, that each take 20 minutes to a half hour to complete. By the end of the lessons of Old Testament 1, your child will have learned all about the first 32 major events of the Bible, and have a timeline of these events memorized.

Four lessons are used to teach each event. The course begins at the beginning, with Creation. Then it moves into The Fall, Cain and Abel, Enoch and Methuselah, and so on. The lessons are interactive and very engaging.

In the video lessons, we were introduced to Abigail and Asher, two people that re-told the Bible story. They also interacted with a couple of cartoon characters as well. You also meet their parents and other family members.

Throughout the lesson are small quizzes, matching exercises, moving correct answers into boxes, and scripture verses. Some of the activities were looking up verses and answering questions, others were questions based on what Asher and Abigail had taught them in the lesson.

There are also graded tests throughout the lessons as well - one aspect of the program that I liked is that the screen would reflect that the test was graded, so that the student was aware, and be that much more careful answering questions.

The lessons also show what typical life was like in Bible times. Asher and Abigail are processing corn in one lesson, and in another, Abigail is helping in the kitchen. There are also lessons that include art history, and show depictions of Biblical events in art.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

How We Used This and What We Thought:

I decided to have Nutsy use this. She is 10 now, and at a good age for this program. I loved that she could independently work through the lessons.She would get her Bible, set it next to the computer, and sign herself into the program. I would listen in to the lessons at times, and really liked the way they presented the events. There is an animated cat and gnat that follow along as well which she wasn't too excited about - she has a thing for animals that talk.

But she did like Abigail and Asher, and really listened well during the lessons.

There were a few times when I needed to help her with some words in the questions. And when she needed to read a Bible passage, if it was a long one, we would trade off and each read every other verse.

As she progressed through the lessons, I was very happy with the amount of review that is done in subsequent lessons. Even in later lessons, she is asked in one of the activities to put the days of Creation in the correct order. I felt that the program was very thorough and did just the right amount of reviewing.

Years ago I had done the hardback version of Veritas Bible, so I do own the Veritas Press Bible Flashcards. The Bible events correspond to these flashcards and the timeline the students memorize (And learn a song too!) is based on the flashcards. The flashcards are not included but are sold separately, but don't feel like you need them to use the Self-Paced Bible; there are interactive online ones that you can access during the lesson.

Nutsy though, did like having the cards in her hands, and would put them in the correct order as she sung the timeline song.

I really was quite impressed with the Self-Paced Bible, and how it covered the events of the Bible completely. We are actually finishing up with our schooling this week (except for Crew review items) and I do plan on having Nutsy continue to use this as her Bible curriculum next year.

There are other levels that Crew members also reviewed, plus some of them reviewed a subscription to VeritasBible.com Check out what they thought by clicking below.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Musings

Wow, it has been a LONG time since I have done one of these!

So long, that it took me some time to find where I had saved my template of questions that I use.

Anyways, here is what I am thinking about today.....

What I'm thinking: That our family is going to change a bit in the next month. Last December Mr. Lego enlisted in the Air Force Reserves. He leaves at the end of July for 8 weeks of BMT, or Basic Military Training, and then another 4 months of tech school. All in Texas. All on his own.

What I'm reading: Not much right now. I am halfway through the 5th Harry Potter book, but haven't picked it up in a couple of weeks.

What I'm listening to: Pandora is playing some Little Big Town right now.

What we're learning: This is our last week of school! We have been on a modified school schedule since fair ended, and only doing math, Bible, reading/phonics, and Crew review stuff.

What I'm watching: Last week the kids showed us The Finest Hour. It is the true story of an amazing sea rescue by the Coast Guard and a good movie to watch.

What's cooking: This week I am making a Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry, Japanese Curry, and Spaghetti. Tomorrow I am making BLT's so we don't have to heat up the kitchen....we are in day 3 of temps over 100 with the whole week looking like it it going to be that hot.

What I'm buying: Flip flops at Old Navy. Right now they are only $2 a pair.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful to be a wife and mother. I am humbled, awed, convicted, sanctified and loved by these amazing people that I call my family.

What I'm creating: Well, I am helping the girls prepare their 4-H record books. They fill in all they did in community service, leadership, communication, and write a biography, fill in project reports and expense sheets. It is lots of work, but necessary and shows the importance of keeping good records.

What I'm planning: State fair is in 12 days. This is not even as busy or as crazy as county fair, but the girls still work with their animals to prepare. So I am planning times when we can get up to my friend's house to see the goats.

What we did this last weekend: The girls and I attended a wedding shower for a dear friend's daughter on Saturday. Then Sunday we went to church and heard an excellent sermon on Matthew, then to a park to brave the heat for our church picnic. Then some friends came over to jump in the pool.

What I'm looking forward to: We have dear friends coming from across the country to visit this weekend, and then our annual 4th of July party up at our friends house with other church families.

Pictures to share:

 {Nutsy doing the dishes in her swimming suit. Yep, it is summer here.}

 {On a date with My Sweetie.}

 {Working with their goats.}

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ LearnBop

Math is such an important skill to learn. And algebra is a must for my high school students. Bookworm is coming to the end of her required learning, so when the opportunity came up to review LearnBop, I decided she would use it to study algebra.

LearnBop for Families Review

I received LearnBop For Families. I chose the Single Student Plan and its 12 month online subscription. They also have an option for a Family Plan, with access for two to four students.

What It Is:

I did have a higher math level in mind when I was selected for this, but LearnBop actually has levels from 3rd grade through high school. There are some activities that those in 1st and 2nd grade can do as well. The high school courses offered are algebra 1, algebra 2, and geometry.

    Setting up the account was very easy. On the teacher dashboard I chose her level as algebra. Then Bookworm got on and chose her own avatar (a celebrity chef) and took an assessment to see where she should be placed in algebra. The program then set up a Road Map for her to follow, based on how she answered questions on the assessment.

    There are thirteen units in algebra. Within these units are unit concepts. To go through the concepts, students watch numerous videos and then have Bops to solve. A Bop is basically a set of questions that cumulatively teach the concept.

    LearnBop for Families Review

    The website is very easy to navigate - at the top of the dashboard there are these tabs:
    •  Learning Roadmap - here you can see all units of algebra 1, and exactly where your student is on the map.
    • My Progress - this shows some very specific stats: all concepts the student has learned, when they accessed it, how long they spent, and the percentage of mastery of the concept.
    • Achievements - this tab shows what achievements, or medals, your students has earned. You can earn these by completing units, working for certain amounts of time in one sitting, and mastering concepts.

    How We Used This and What We Thought:

     Bookworm began the program by watching some videos. She really thought that they did a great job of explaining the concepts and giving a good understanding of the problems. There were a few videos to watch, but each one built on the previous one.

    As she began to do problems, we ran into a few issues. She was getting lots of wrong answers, even though she believed they were correct. LearnBop assumes that higher level students are working independently, so there is a button they can select if the student feels there is an error in the program. She did this, and explained the issue in the comment box. This came directly to my email inbox, and then I was able to click on a link and see her exact answer in the problem. I looked over the problem, and realized that the error was with the program. The student email has an email address in it that I then sent the issue to.

    I did like this feature; many times a student might feel that they are correct, and this way, the parent can go over their answer and confirm whether or not the student is right.

    LearnBop was very prompt in responding. They did fix that issue very quickly and she was able to move on with the concepts.

    Unfortunately, we continued to run into errors. These were not grammatical errors, but ones where she was marked incorrect when she had entered the correct answer into the field.

    The support staff was very prompt in trying to help us and did try to fix each error we found. The only problem was that they could not go in and re-do her answers, so this did drag her mastery percentage down very low.

    One thing that both she and I loved about this program were the helps. If a student got the answer wrong, the program then walked them through each of the steps or hints, of the problem. Many online programs either say "incorrect" and have the student re-try, or, just give the right answer. But LearnBop walks students through each step, in a very interactive way. This is HUGE in algebra! You can very easily miss something in one of the many steps to solve a problem, and being walked through it step by step is the best way to master concepts. This is where I felt that LearnBop really helped her to understand algebraic concepts.

    I do hope that they can work through the bugs of their program. We were unable to finish the unit because of all of the issues, but I do feel that this online math company is on the right track.

    Other Crew members reviewed other grade levels and I don't believe had as many issues as we did. Click below to see what they thought!

    LearnBop for Families Review

    Crew Disclaimer

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    {Schoolhouse Review} ~ Progeny Press

    Literature is a huge part of our schooling. And I love using unit study-type learning when I teach. This particular study comes from Progeny Press and is focused on the book Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. The product is Mr. Popper's Penguins E-Guide and it comes as a digital download.

    You might recognize Progeny Press; I went back into my blog archives and I have reviewed three other different literature studies by them over the years:

    What It Is:

    This is a literature study meant for grades 4th through 6th. Mr. Popper's Penguins is a lovely story about an ordinary house painter who loves anything Antarctica. His dream comes true when someone offers him a male penguin from the South Pole. That leads to getting another penguin, a female, and then yup, soon there are ten more little penguins running around. The twelve penguins are eating them out of their home so Mr. Popper decides to train them to do a circus act. The story follows them through their adventures and finally ends when the Poppers realize that the penguins will be most happy in a new home in the North Pole. This timeless story was written in 1938 and continues to be a read aloud favorite.

    Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
    The book is not included in the E-Guide, but can be purchased from Progeny Press.

    Mr. Popper's Penguins E-Guide is opened with Adobe Acrobat. I received two downloads - one was the actual study and the other was the answer key. I really appreciated there being two separate files; my kids are smart homeschoolers and can easily look up answers if the answer key is in the same file. Having separate files keeps that temptation at bay.

    The guide is interactive, meaning that students can either enter answers into the computer, or print out the worksheet pages and write it in by hand. In the study guide, the book is divided into 6 sections. Each sections covers 4 chapters of the139 page book.

    Each section has sub sections as follows:

    Vocabulary - Activities include putting a vocabulary word into a sentence, determining from context the meaning of words, looking up words in a dictionary, matching words, and more. Some words are: debris, neglected, ventilating, stupor, and predict.

    Questions - short answer questions about the story line that can be answered in a sentence or two.

    Think About the Story - These questions are more thought-type questions that can be answered in two to three sentences.

    Dig Deeper - These questions focus on the characters and the reasoning of their actions. Many times these questions asked the students to look up a verse or two of scripture and compare it to the actions in the book.

    Optional Activities - Hands on learning is the best! In this section there are suggestions that range from making maps, writing assignments, historical notes and suggestions for further study, and discussion ideas.

    The study is meant to be completed in about ten weeks.

    How We Used This:

    I decided to use this with the younger two girls. The guide suggests having your child read the book in its entirety before beginning the sections. But since Nutsy is right at the 3rd-4th grade reading level I decided that I wanted to use this as a read-aloud, so we went through the sections as we read through the book.

    Literature time is one of my "School Musts", and along with Bible and Math, needs to happen every day we do school. So it was very easy to plop ourselves on the couch and read for a good 20 minutes. The girls would draw pictures of what I was reading.

    After we read the first four chapters, we started in on section one. I loved learning the vocabulary words that we had just been reading in the story. Some days I required the girls to hand write their answers and other days we did the questions orally. We aimed to do one page of the study guide per day. One day, the vocabulary section asked them to write a sentence using the words, so I had them do it as their handwriting for the day.

    And I did ask all of the Dig Deeper questions orally - we found that it did encourage conversations and further thinking about the story.

    One question had the students examine Mr. Popper's prideful attitude about his penguins. Good pride (in Christ, in faith) and bad pride (before men, or pride in sin) is discussed. There is section where there are Bible verses listed - and are conveniently written out - that the students read and then decide if they are talking about good or bad pride.

    What We Thought:

    Going over the above Bible lesson as part of the lesson is why I love Progeny Press. When I teach, I cannot imagine not examining everything to scripture. And Progeny Press is an excellent tool that studies high quality literature but yet also focuses on the Bible.

    My girls loved doing this study. Looking back at the other titles I have reviewed I did notice that I usually taught Progeny Press at the higher levels (middles school or high school). This was the first elementary one I have reviewed and I did notice one thing. I realized as we moved through the guide that I was hoping for more hands-on activities. There were a few scattered throughout - my girls loved making a map of the world and playing a fun penguin egg game - but I did wish there were more suggestions for hands-on learning.

    There are suggestions to make some items, such as a poster board or display, but I would have loved to have seen templates for such a board and more hands-on, artsy activities.

    But honestly that is really a small thing. Progeny Press does such a great job of making literature come alive and through the questions, incredible discussions come about. I loved the depth of the vocabulary words and the variety of the worksheets. And I especially loved the focus on scripture and good character.

    At the end of the study is an overview, which can used as a test. There are also pages of additional suggested activities that can be used to further study Antarctica, penguins, historical explorers, and 1930's America.

    I was quite happy once again with Progeny Press! They do an amazing job of creating literature studies with new ones coming out every month.

    There are many other titles that other Crew members reviewed that range from Early Elementary all the way through High School. Click below to read what they all thought too!

    Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}

    Crew Disclaimer

    Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    My Week In Images

    These girls.....

    because their giggle make me smile.

    This yummy sandwich and salad......

    because I love homemade dinners that don't heat up the house.

    These boys......

    because I could not imagine them NOT playing in my living room together.

    This sight.......

    because I am seeing a lot of it right now. And in case you were wondering, she is doing great.

    These tortillas......

    because I should have been making them from scratch years ago.

    This treat.....

    because I love visiting the little Japanese store in downtown Sac where they make these fresh each day.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2016

    2016 County Fair is in the Books

    We have gone through another year of county fair.

    Want the numbers? This year our group had a total of 14 animals with at least 7 different competitions between 10 members.

    Including our time spent setting up, we were there for seven days, and since a thoughtful child of mine kept track of the number of hours we were there, I can tell you it was just over 70 hours of time spent at the fair.

    So we do settle down, and bring in a coffee maker (an absolute necessity), food, chairs, blankets, and whatever else we need. I told at least once person that this is like camping, but only in a barn with 1000+ other animals. And I am not kidding about that animal number. There were 867 spots in our auction, plus other breeding animals there too.

    But we do have a blast, and I thought I would share how the week went.

    Day 1: Tuesday we set up our pens at fair and then headed over to the animal farm to get them all into the trailer.

    All was going well until we noticed this:

    Thankfully the farm we are at had a small pump, so while we waited, we were entertained by the trailer occupants.

     We got all of our tack unloaded and the animals snug for the night.

    Day 2: Wednesday was our day to set up decorations. We have these big fence lines that we brace on 2x4's and have all of our stall cards on with our decorations.

    When we are putting these massive things up I am cursing their size, but then the rest of the fair, when I can see our display from across our massive barn, I love them.

    Then I go through the whole cursing thing again when we take them down.

    This year, for the first time, our fair put both of my goat and lamb projects together, in the same space.

    This day we also had weigh in for both lambs and goats. We did have one goat that did not make weight, but we knew it would not ahead of time and so it was not a surprise.

    End of day 2 - the decorations are up and we are ready for the fair to begin!

    Day 3: Thursday is Goat Competition Day. We are there at 6:30am, cleaning out pens, feeding, washing goats, and getting ready.

    Nine of my members competed in two different competitions  - market and showmanship, and in all different classes.

    Everyone did such a great job!

    In market, out of the top 8 spots in champion drive, three of them were from Clover.

    We had some time in between classes, and so My Sweetie started a game of Bluff with the kids.

    The next competition is showmanship, where Nutsy won junior goat showmanship. She did a great job and really deserved to win. In seniors Dasher got 3rd and Bookworm got 2nd.

    We didn't finish competing until almost 5pm.

    That night our project had a pizza party. It's funny how before fair I have all these good intentions of being sanitary, disinfecting everything, and setting up a spot outside the barn to eat at. But by the end of show day I find myself on a goat stand that's been used all day, sitting right next to the goat pen, munching on a piece of pizza.

    Tonight was our families' turn to have barn duty, so we hung out until 8pm.

     Great job, girls!

    Day 4: Friday is lamb day. If our fair ever had both lamb and goat competitions in the same day I think I would really go insane.

    We were there even earlier this morning since our show started at 8am. Bookworm's lamb was a true winner and won champion 4-H Suffolk.

     Dasher was up next in her market class of crossbreds.

    She also competed in showmanship but the last couple of days had been sick so she did not show as well as she could have and did not place.

    Bookworm had been having a hard time with her lamb - sometimes it is hard to switch between goat and sheep showmanship - so she spent some time working with it and getting some advice.

    And the results of senior sheep showmanship: Bookworm got 3rd and was very happy with that result.

    These two are best friends. I love watching them and their relationship blossom.

    Day 5: Saturday was the first day where we did not have an early morning. Well, not that early.....we still had to feed the lambs at around 9am. Today was a hanging out kind of day.

    But not for Nutsy. By winning junior showmanship, she qualified to compete in masters. So she spent the day working with other species.

    At one point I went all over looking for her, and found her in the dairy ring, talking with some FFA kids about showing dairy.

    I was super impressed with the older kids at our fair. There were quite a few that helped her out, and spent a lot of time coaching her.

    Day 6: Sunday is the Junior Livestock Auction. This is a real auction, so we are there early - 7am, to wash the animals and get into whites.

    The girls had sent out buyer letters a couple of months ago to prospective buyers. They then spend a few hours before the auction, finding the people who they have sent letters to, and bringing them over to see their animals.

    This is now the fourth year we have done this. Each year they meet new business owners, see ones that they have met before, and have adult conversations. Each year they hear more of, "Oh, good to see you again! What have you been up to this year and where is your animal?"

    This, people is another of the many reasons why I do 4-H. What an amazing opportunity, and one that give you confidence, maturity, and poise.

    All of my kids made it into the ring and got at least market value for their animals.

    This year my girls were privileged to be invited to help with the Sale of Champions. A girl in our lamb project had an amazing lamb and won overall supreme champion, and so they asked Nutsy and Dasher to hold the ribbons and for Bookworm to set the legs in the ring.

    At the end of this long day our project has a potluck, and my group surprised me with a signed photograph and a lovely card.

    Day 7: Monday is the final day. Or the I-can't-believe-we-are-still-here day. Our market animals go to market (literally) early in the morning, so we are there at 6:30am again, to clean and wash everything out.

    The half hour car ride each morning gets quieter each day; I think this morning I had some kids still sleeping.

    But the exciting thing happening today is Master Showmanship.

    Nutsy even went and found some horse people to work with her yesterday after the auction, and has really put effort into learning more about the other species.

    She really is the smallest one out there.

     Dairy cow was first. She had a young one that was pretty feisty.

    Dairy goat was next.

    Here she is talking with the other competitors. This was a great bunch of kids, and as they went from species to species, they each shared information with the group.


    Goat and lamb.


    Horse, which she told me, that behind goat and lamb, was her favorite.

    We sat for a bit and waited for the results. The microphone was not working, so when they started calling a name, I thought they were starting with last place. Her name was called next, so I assumed she was in 5th place, and when our group screamed for her, I yelled too, because you do that as a parent, no matter what the placing.

    Until I saw that she was carrying a little box back with her to her spot. And I noticed her ribbon was blue. And then they stopped calling names.

    Nutsy had won Junior Large Animal Showmanship!

    I was so surprised that I didn't get any photos until later.

    But we did get this, in front of the banner, with the senior 4-H winner and the FFA winner.

    And then this, with her shiny new buckle.

    Finally, that afternoon, we clean out everything we had brought in, and take it all home. 

    Each year, I am so thankful for the things we learn and the experiences we have. It is so much hard work - even after we finished the next day we went and cleaned out pens at the farm, and then washed and disinfected all buckets and equipment.

    But hard work is good.

    And hard work pays off.