Monday, February 20, 2017

Home School in the Woods (Product Review)

Lindsey has been studying the Middle Ages this year, and so I was thrilled to get a chance to review the
HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages from Home School in the Woods to enhance our study.   This down loadable product contains everything (except card stock and paper) needed to build a history notebook that spans 8-12 weeks in your homeschool setting.   
This program is laid out in 25 "stops" as the student works through the history time frame.  Students create hands on projects such as a passport, suitcase, timeline and a newspaper, to name a few.  Clear instructions are included, and printables are clearly marked both on the printable and in the instructions to keep the learning fun, organized and stress free.  There is a 2-3 page text portion with each stop, followed by clear, concise instructions. There are also MP3's of audio tours that go along with the lessons.   This added a much appreciated new aspect to the the Middle Ages!

The first "stop" was pretty time intensive on my part.  I spent the better part of a Sunday afternoon printing out components, assembling items and preparing for our first day of working through the packet.  This process included printing out the timeline, creating the suitcase and printing other items necessary for the duration.  Once I got past the preparation that went into the 1st "stop", I'd spend only a few minutes over the following weekend to print out the next weeks items.  Other than my printing out the necessary items, Lindsey worked independently throughout this project.

I decided we'd do a "Stop" every day, Monday-Thursday.   By the end of our first week, I was THRILLED to hear Lindsey say she was actually liking history now.   This is no small thing, as she typically does not like history at all.

One disclaimer, is that not all the "stops" have equal amounts of work in them.  Please be sure to look over each one to decide which is the best way to break up the work for your student.  Doing the one full stop per day was a bit aggressive on my part as it sometimes pushed Lindsey int to a much later school day.   Honestly, now that the review process is complete we'll slow down and probably only do1-2 per week.
There are lots of hands on projects, along with coloring, cutting/pasting and reading.  I can honestly say that she has learned and retained more information about the middles ages in the few weeks we've been working with this product, than she has the entire year.   The real shocker is that she's asked to do another one of the project packs for next year.  Ya'll this is HUGE!

The instructions also include bigger projects like building a sugar cube castle (using 10-12 boxes of sugar cubes), head pieces and costumes.   We bypassed most of those for now since we're on a pretty strict budget at the moment.  I would like to go back and make the castle when funds allow.   We did however make "gold coins" out of pure maple syrup, and they were yummy.
Be sure to check out the newest Project Passport, Ancient Greece!    Ancient Rome is currently in the works and expected in early 2018.

To read other reviews by the Homeschool Review Crew, click here.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up - Snow Tubing in the Heat

The girls went on their first snow tubing adventure this past weekend with their church youth group.   The funny this is, that the temperatures hit the mid 60's while they were there.  You can see in the background that the snow had started to melt.    They had a total blast, so that's all that matters.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, hat, child and outdoor Image may contain: 1 person, child, shoes and outdoor

Image may contain: shoes and outdoor 
 Image may contain: snow and outdoor
Basketball season ended this week.  They lost their final game to the ginormous guys from the boys home.  I loved this game though.  Lindsey was guarding a boy who was over 6ft. tall, and as they were running down the court their was a train wreck and they all started to fall.  Somehow this tall kid grabbed her and set her back on her feet as he was falling, and kept her from ending up on the bottom of a big pile of big kids.  Then he uttered the only two words I've heard his say all year, "You ok?"

Later in the same game, at the final buzzer, one of the biggest guys on the other team went down with a twisted knee.  He wasn't getting up, and nobody, including his coach was paying attention.   The teams had already lined up for their end of game hand shakes and Olivia saw that he was still down and walked away, went over and talked to him, then grabbed him with one hand and pulled him to his feet, and walked back to the line up with him.   Ya'll it's stuff like these two incidents that make he realize that there really are some good kids running around out there.  

Olivia had her final orthodontist appointment this week.  She has officially been released from his care, and unless there's an issue with the retainer (lost or broken) she doesn't have to go back.  Glad to have that behind us!  She of course does have to wear the retainer at night time, and while they said it doesn't have to be every night now, she's in the habit and we'll go with it!

Olivia has had several labs in science this week.  The most interesting was comparing water samples under the microscope.   We went down to the park and collected samples from the fish pond, the stream and the lake over on the other side of the park.   Both kids were mesmerized watching all the little "things" moving around in the slides we made.  I deliberately DIDN'T use a tap water sample, because I didn't want to risk neither of them ever drinking water again, ahem.  Ask you can see, we don't have a high dollar microscope here.
Lindsey had one lab this week, it was a fail.  We were supposed to create a bottle rocket with
a soda bottle, water, alka seltzer and a cork to plug the bottle.   Either my alka seltzer was a total dud, or the lab was because the blasted thing never blasted off (snicker).
I hand an impromptu brunch with one of my gal pals on Thursday.   This was one of those times I wished I had a fancy phone that takes photos.  We had Nutella Waffles, two HUGE Belgian waffles layered with Nutella, whipped cream and was amazing.    Any guess as to what I'll be trying to recreate at home this weekend?

I finalized out income taxes this week, now I wait for our return so I can start ordering curriculum.   Then comes one of the favorite days ever, BOX DAY!!

Archery starts tonight (for 8 weeks).  The championship basketball game is Saturday and we'll go cheer on the ginormous boys home team.   Other than that, it's a low key weekend.  I'm hoping to get the house cleaned and have time to do some recreational reading.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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Monday, February 13, 2017

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas - Volume 2 (Review)

Imagine, if you will, sitting down with 38 seasoned homeschool moms and picking their collective brains in an array of 57 varying topics.    Well, that in a nutshell sums up The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas-Volume 2, without the pressure of making small talk, grins.

The 57 topics are covered in 260 pages, and are broken into  seven overall categories.   Those categories are as follows:
  • Ages & Stages:  Teen and Beyond
  • General Homeschool Helps
  • Learning Resources: Language Arts
  • Learning Resources: STEM
  • Learning Resources: Training Hearts
  • Learning Resources: Unique Needs
  • Managing Your Life:  Unique Homeschool Situations
How's that for a pretty broad range of insight and help?

Like I said, this is a 360 page book. However, there are no advertisements, affiliate links or pushes towards a specific vendor.    One article entitled "The Best Curriculum Recommendations from iHomeschool Network Bloggers" lists favorite vendors by categories (i.e. math, geography) but again, no affiliate links or urges to buy.

If you have friends who are new to homeschooling, this would make a wonderful "welcome to our crazy world" gift!

You can pick up either a print copy or kindle copy at Amazon.

I was given a free download of this product for review purposes only.   I was given no other compensation, nor was I required to write a positive review.
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up - Springlike, Almost

We're almost to the end of our basketball season and I realize I haven't posted photos yet.   Both girls are on the same team, so here's our official sisters pre-game photo.   I don't know why Olivia has started wearing that bandana when she plays ball, but it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon.
You know how I've said that Lindsey is half the size of some of the other players in the league?  Well this next photo proves my point.   Lindsey is on the right and her teammate (who is NOT the tallest boy in the league) is on the left of the photo.   The fact that she's made it through the season uninjured is a major victory as far as I'm concerned!

Monday through Wednesday we had spring like weather.  It was in the 70's and BEAUTIFUL.  Thursday morning it was in the 30's, and by Thursday night we were back in the teens with some snow flurries!  My day lilies had already come through the ground, and a few of my other bulb flowers too.  I'm thinking they're not going to do well after this, but time will tell on that.

Academics are going well.  I'm still holding out hopes we'll be wrapped up by mid-May, but just found out there may be some "issues" next month that could throw us behind, sigh.   Time will tell on that as well.

I've spent a lot of time this week trying to finish up my curriculum picks for the upcoming year.  Olivia's math and American history are the two that I just can't get nailed down.    She loves history and so I'm trying to find something that she can really sink her teeth into with research and hands on items.   Math, well yeah....I'm trying to pick one that will work well and not cause a melt down.  I have decided to go from Algebra 1 to Algebra 2 this year and then we'll do geometry the following year, so that's half the battle, right?

If you have a student who is learning the multiplication tables, or needs some remedial work with the tables, check out my review of Times Alive.

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Times Alive (Product Review)

Although Lindsey is midway through her 6th grade year, she still struggles a bit with not having memorized all of the times tables.  Even though it's geared for younger kids who are just learning their math facts, I decided to give Times Alive by Times Tables the Fun Way a chance to bring her up to speed.   We were given a three month subscription for this review.   Some students can finish the program with success after only one month, so subscriptions are on a month to month basis.
Times Alive offers interactive, online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way.   Multiplication facts 0-9 are covered in this online product.  The website is easy to use, and kid friendly with lots of brightly colored graphics, cartoon character voices and easy to remember stories and songs.    The site includes fun, quirky videos and songs to help students remember their math facts.   I will say the songs are slightly annoying, simply because they get stuck in your head, as well as the kids head, while your student is learning.  However, the fact that they get stuck in your head does prove the effectiveness of this learning method, grins.
Each lesson has some speed drills, with a page of multiplication problems and the program keeps track of how quickly they compete the drill.   The correct amount of drill problems is also recorded for you.  There is built in review with each lesson.  The photo below is part of the review process, asking students to remember the story that went with the 7x7 fact.   
There are only 18 short lessons, which your students can redo as many times as necessary.  Additionally, there is a student progress report (pictured below) that allows both the parent and student to see which lessons have been done.  This report also shows test grades, and gives a key of what type of activities are included in each lesson.
If students don't do well on the pretest or test, you can hit "Clear" and it will permanently erase the score, and the student can then redo the test.   Since you can print the progress report, I suggest you print it before making any changes/redoing the tests and then you'll have a comparison for when they redo the work.

Please note that the program remembers each child's records as long as they are logging in from the same electronic device.  If your student uses a laptop for part of the work, then logs on from another device it will not cross reference the work that has been done.

Like I said at the beginning of the review, Lindsey is 11.   She completed all the lessons in two days of working with the program.  The lessons are short, so she plowed through pretty rapidly.  She did pick up on the fact that the songs and graphics are geared more towards the younger crowd, however she still thought it was fun to use and she really did improve on her 7, 8 and 9 facts.

To read other reviews of this program, click here.

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