Tuesday, May 23, 2017

{Homeschool Product Review} ~ The Typing Coach

Typing is one skill that I feel is very important. Over the last 5 weeks, I have been reviewing The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach. And here's all about it.....


The Typing Coach



What It Is:

Typing Coach Online Typing Course is exactly how it sounds. The course covers basic typing skills. The lessons begin with Home Row and then moves through all rows in turn, shift keys, numbers, and practicing.

The course uses three types of instruction - audio, visual, and written. The audio sections are clips that you play on your computer. These explain the concepts and topics. There was a video that did explain correct posture which we found very helpful.  There are also videos that explain the testing process, as well as a half hour video that explains the Typing Coach method. There is also nice music to listen to during these sessions! There was also a few things to print out: The Student Packet,  Learning Checks, and Progress Chart. These printouts are very useful - the student uses the packet each day as they practice.





Working at the suggested pace of one lesson a week, students move through the lessons. At the beginning of each lesson they listen to an audio lesson and then use the page in the packet to practice. They can use any word processing software to practice in - we used Google Docs. Once they feel they have mastered that lesson, they can take a test at the Practice and Testing Center. There are three practice checks for each lesson. The trick to the practice sessions is to either shut off the monitor or tape a paper over it, so the student is not distracted by what they are typing.

The student will need to get through the minute long test without any mistakes. Once they pass all three tests they can move on to the next lesson. We found that spending  a week per lesson was not achieving the goal of complete mastery - Dasher worked very diligently and we ended up spending an average of 8 school days on each lesson. I do appreciate the goal of mastery in this program - you do not move on until you are scoring 100% on the tests.


How We Used This and What We Thought:

I had Dasher using this product. She had been begging me to find a way to teach her typing so she was very excited to start this. We spent a couple of days watching the videos and familiarizing ourselves with how the program worked. I also printed out all of the printables and made them into a little book for her.

She began with the posture lesson. I loved it that posture was emphasized - to me this is very important and I was glad to see that there was a whole lesson in this. The next lesson was Home Row. She listened to the audio lesson which was about 12 minutes long. In the lesson, the instructor explained the keys in Home Row, and which fingers to use. There were also tips that were very helpful as well.

After the audio lesson came practice typing. This is found in the Student Packet. There are four lines of jibberish words - around 20 characters for each line. Each time she practiced she was to try to type these lines without any mistakes. After a few days she was still not mastering, so she did go back and re-listen to the audio lesson as suggested.




Finally she felt she was ready for the test. The testing is done at their Practice and Testing Center. You do need to log onto this site with your email - that way the test results will be emailed to you.

The first test you take is called Home Row Learning Check and the small print says that it is in the Student Packet. I assumed it was the lines she had been practicing in the Packet so we covered up the screen and she had one minute to type out the line.  We were disappointed when test was finished and she got every character wrong. I looked through the other packets and then found it in the Learning Check packet. She went to retry the test and we found out that the system makes you wait 48 hours between tests.




The testing did prove frustrating for us a couple of times. Once here, but then another time, since the screen was covered, we didn't realize that she had the caps lock on, and was once again locked out of a testing session for 48 hours. But then I do understand that since mastery is the goal, constant testing is not a way of achieving this. Like the instructions say at one point, "I don't expect perfection....just no errors." A very good goal indeed.

So far, we are working on the fourth lesson. She is following the instructions and making sure she doesn't peek at the keyboard. She is seeing progress and is excited to be on the road to typing. Sometimes she really struggles with not being able to hit the backspace key to correct her mistakes. We have also found that she needs more practice than maybe others that used this course - after you pass the third lesson your practice sessions are actual words (vs. jibberish) and she did find herself memorizing the content. I would have loved to have seen more practice pages for those students that needed more time on each lesson.

There is an option for slower paced students - the program does offer Slower Paced Lessons. These divide the first three lessons into six audio lessons. The packet practice pages do remain the same, which can be quite repetitive.

I hope to have her finish the program over the summer. She is excited to be learning to type, and I am really liking this online typing program. Check out what others thought by clicking below!

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Images Of My Week

 My Week.....




This bowl of guac and salsa.....



because not only was it delicious, but it brought back lovely memories of a beautiful place.







This dear friend.....


 because she encourages me, prays for me, and is dear to my heart.








This succulent.......



because surprisingly, amazingly, I haven't killed it yet.








These colors.......



because they are our county fair colors, and right now my garage is full of fair things.






This very proofed bread dough......



because I am blessed to have a daughter who loves to bake.






These precious friends......


because it was a joy to spend Mother's Day with them.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Goat and Sheep Update 2017

As of today, we are T-minus 12 days until fair.



This year is the busiest yet. Each of the three girls has a sheep and a goat. And we are the only other ones that are keeping our animals on our friend's property, so we are out there every single day except Sunday, working, cleaning, and being with the animals. The only way I am doing this without going nuts is that Bookworm now drives, and does three days a week, while I take the girls the other three days.




 {Nutsy and Ariel}





Our gate system has worked really well and we have only had a handful of escapes.

 {tightly shut gates}






With all of the rain it got pretty muddy so we didn't clean out as often as we would have liked. Now that it has been dry for a spell, we've been able to clean out and keep the odor down.



 {hard work}



We are also feeding two kinds of feed and a supplement, which we mix in by hand.


 {feeding them right}





Since we can only sell one animal at fair, three animals are coming home and will hopefully be shown at state fair. Bookworm and Dasher are selling their sheep and Nutsy is selling her goat.

{Fey and Dasher}





We struggled with mites this year and treated them with injections  and topical medication. Bookworm  and I got pretty darned good at giving subcutaneous injections to the goats.



 {Bookworm, working the drive with Scorpius}



The bulk of our time is spent training them. One of our secret weapons is seen below - a mirror. I went to a thrift store and found one for cheap. This way, the girls can see how they look in a mirror, how the legs are set and if the top line is good.


 {looks good}





We'll have good days and bad - I tell them it is 2 steps forward and 1 backwards. And it does seem like that - we'll have two great days and then next have a bad day, where the goat jumps, refused to walk, or won't drive. But the girls know they need to show them who is boss, and work with them until the y have a good moment. 

{showmanship practice}





Going back and forth from goat to sheep can be tricky, they are lots of small differences and you drive and brace them in totally different ways.




 {good job}





We also love on our animals lots. These guys are babied and really taken care of. 

{goat hugs}



So it will only get busier, but it is a good busy, as we learn life lessons, do hard work, and have a great time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

{Homeschool Product Review} ~ Algebra for Breakfast

Don't you love the name of this product I was asked to review?

Algebra for Breakfast and their video-based math enrichment program is kind of like breakfast. Small bits of hands on algebra that give you an head start in this sometimes difficult field of math.


Algebra for Breakfast


What It Is:

Algebra for Breakfast teaches algebraic concepts to elementary students in a very hands-on way. Yes, I did just say algebra for elementary students. The creator of the program, Bob Hazen, believes that even children as young as five can understand algebra, and has spent much of his career finessing his program that really does teach algebraic concepts to young students.

Math is really hard for Dasher - she has struggled with it for a long time now, and after doing a bit of research I know that she does have dyscalculia. She specifically struggles with math symbols and values. We have found that when she has math manipulatives she does a much better job, so I look for curriculum that stresses hands on learning.

When researching about this company then, I was very excited to read that math manipulatives are a huge part of this program. Using manipulatives to teach algebra? I was pretty excited about this.

There are three main components to Algebra for Breakfast:



Manipulatives




The program uses Mortenson blocks. These colored blocks show all of the numbers. You also need math dice - there are a few fun games you can play to teach concepts. The other thing that you receive with the full package is a CD of skip counting songs.



Online Video Lessons

Each topic has at least one video to watch. Some of them have a short minute-long introductory video that explains the goal of the topic. These ranged from about 4 to 7 minutes. The videos are of Mr Bob Hazen, the founder of Algebra for Breakfast, teaching a class of children. He has a special set of the blocks that are magnetized, so can easily be seen on his whiteboard. He lead the kids through the concept and has them use the blocks to show value and unknowns. When you purchase a subscription, the lessons are released in groups of ten, every week or so.




I was given access to both levels that are offered: Grades 3-4 and Grades 5-6. Dasher has strengths and weaknesses in math and so I decided to look over both levels and then put her in the one that fit best.

Really whatever grade your child is in in math is the grade you should choose. Each of the levels has different content, but there is some topics that are repeated in review. But the topics are targeted to each math level.




Worksheets

Almost all of the lessons have a downloadable worksheet. This single page goes over what the student was just taught in the video.




What is great is that there are a couple of options for purchasing this: you can purchase the whole package, which includes the Mortenson blocks, math dice, and skip counting songs, plus access to all lessons. Or if you own the blocks already, you also have the option to purchase the online material alone.




How We Used This and What We Thought:

There are a few beginning lessons that explain how to prepare for the actual instruction. There are some playing cards to make and the manipulatives are explained. Then you get into the meat of the lessons. After looking at the lesson headings I did decide to put her into the Grade 3-4, but for review purposes I did check out some of the lessons in Grade 5-6.

Since it was called Algebra for Breakfast, we decided to do this right after breakfast, or really the first subject of the day.

Dasher would get the blocks out and then set the laptop up and we would watch the lessons together. I loved the amount of teaching in the videos. It was the perfect amount of instruction and explained the concept well. I will mention that he is teaching a classroom of children and at times he had to remind them to pay attention, or to get out the correct blocks.




After the first couple of lessons, Nusty wanted to join us, so she also sat and watched. After we watched the video, I would print the worksheet and they would complete it. The total time we would spend doing this was only about 15 to 20 minutes. And after the first couple of lessons, I was very excited to see her beginning to understand unknowns. Mr. Hazen is able to explain to the students how to see squared numbers, unknowns, variables, and equations, all with the manipulatives.

This was a really great fit for her. One of the lessons had her playing a game that showed positive and negative numbers. For the first time ever she told me that she understood how to add them together. At times in her current math book she comes across a question like this one:

n + 14 = 48

She had told me in the past that looking at problems like this is like reading something in a foreign language, but last week when she was asked this, she got out her blocks and was able to solve it.


I watched a few lessons from Grades 5-6 to get a feel for that level. Some of the topics are similar, but the lesson is taught with 5th and 6th graders in mind. I do plan to finish up Grades 3-4 and continue into the next level.

I was really impressed with this program! I am really excited, especially with Dasher's struggles, to find a program that will help her understand algebra. I really had no idea how I was going to tackle that one with her, but thanks to Algebra for Breakfast, I feel like we can handle it.



Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Images of my Week


My week......

These goats.....





because they are a big part of our daily routine right now. We are now only 20 days until our fair and things are only going to get busier.







This tea cup......




because it was my mom's. I love that I have them in my cupboard and pull one out every now and then. Precious things should be used.







This zucchini......




because they were easy to make and quite delicious.







This view.......



Because My Sweetie and I have been walking each evening, and it is soothing to my soul. It's a time when we can both talk and enjoy God's creation.







These outside games......



because I love seeing My Sweetie play with our kids. This one is the baby, but not for much longer. Yes, she is growing up too.





This photo, which reminds me of being in an amazing place with My Sweetie......



because it was good to get away and spend time with just him.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

{Homeschool Product Review} ~ Lamplighter Publishing

As a lifelong learner and homeschooling mom, I am always looking for good quality literature to read to my children. So when the opportunity came up to review a book from Lamplighter Publishing I was a bit excited.

The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}

First, a bit about Lamplighter Publishing. This wonderful company strives to re-print and edit high quality literature. Their aim is to "develop Christ-like character one story at a time". Through their many many books they want to encourage children to pursue good character qualities and traits. Children are easily influenced and reading stories that promote good morale and integrity is a wonderful way to guide them down this path.

For this review I received the book Helen's Temper and its Consequences. The hardback book itself is of very high quality and is 123 pages long. This book was written in 1872 by Mrs. George Gladstone and is perfect for ages 6 and older.






The story begins with two sisters. The older one Helen is intelligent and studious, while the younger one Betty is not as smart and is quick to speak. Both girls hear the story of The Good Samaritan in their Sunday School class and then providentially, they meet a poor, crippled girl. Their reactions are very different: Betty is kind to the young girl and befriends her and her family, while Helen, who is selfish and conceited, wants nothing to do with the poor girl.

As the story moves on and Betty continues to encourage the girl, Helen becomes more and more hateful of her, and eventually does something very terrible. Through her grandfather, she realizes the evil in her heart and repents of her sin. And then unexpectedly, she is the recipient of love and mercy from the very one she tormented.

Throughout the book there is an emphasis on good character and helping those in need around us. There are also scripture references periodically quoted throughout. There does seem to be lots of emphasis on good works and being able to choose to do right, and so as we read this I did stop to talk about how it is Christ that changes us, not ourselves.

I really liked reading this book aloud to my two younger girls. We would stop often and talk about the story. In the story line some of the dialogue is of Helen, talking to herself. She cares too much about what others think of her, how her friends might think of her if she was seen talking to a beggar, and is very concerned with her outward appearance to others. We were able to talk about how, deep down inside us, we each struggle with things like this. We all have sinful natures, and without God working through our parents, grandparents (in the case of Helen), and scripture, we would still be dead in our sins.

I loved the ending of the story. Beware, it is a tear jerker. (As many Lamplighter books are!) I loved the mercy and grace shown, and the gentle reprimanding from the grandfather. I do wish that there was more of an emphasis on salvation by Christ alone - this is a very important part of my faith, and I felt the book focused more on good works and living a good Christian life.

But the story was a very good one, and one that I would recommend as a great read aloud. There were many opportunities for discussion as we read, and I cherished those talks with my girls. Any literature that encourages good character and brings about great conversations is a winner, and I was very happy with this book.

Other members of The Crew reviewed a book from Lamplighter Publishers, click below to see what they thought.


The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}


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