Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Review of the Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com

Notebooking is something that has always intrigued me for our school, but I have never really looked into it until recently.  We were given the opportunity to review the Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com and I finally got the opportunity to figure our what notebooking is all about.  I can't believe that I haven't started using this in our school before now.
Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews, notebooking, journaling, homeschool notebook pages

Notebooking is creating a personal notebook of learning.  Your student can notebook about anything - experiences, new information learned, insights, sketches, drawings, creative writings, reflections, and any other way you can think of to get your students' thoughts down on paper.   It is taking the information that your student has learned and letting them express it on paper while showing the knowledge they gained in their own words, images, and personality.
Little Miss working on her Summer Mini-Book
Her work on George Mueller's biography (please ignore the spelling errors as I just wanted her to focus on writing what she knew not spelling for this).
The Lifetime Membership from NotebookingPages.com that we received to review is a plethora of notebooking pages and resources.  This site features thousands of notebooking pages for their lifetime members.  There are topical pages, theme pages, and they are perfect for any subject or study your students are working on.  They offer pages on art, copywork, character study, famous men and women, geography, history, music, nature, science, timelines, and so much more.  Their pages can be used for Kindergarten through 12th grade.  The pages feature a variety of layouts and multiple line formats (regular lines and dotted lines) so they can be used for multiple grades.  As part of the Lifetime Membership you receive ALL of their current notebooking products, ALL of their future notebooking products (which they produce regularly), and access to tutorials, tips, and videos.  They also have a search bar and table of contents to help you find what you are looking for faster and easier.  With the Lifetime Membership you get unlimited access to download and print all their products so you can do that when it is convenient to you.  You can also print their pages as many times as you need to for your students.
A glance at the member dashboard

So many notebooking categories
I wanted to review this product because I thought that Little Miss would really enjoy the notebooking pages.  She likes to write creatively and I thought this would encourage that.  It really did.  We are on summer break so I don't have her writing as much as she does during the school year, but I did find the 3-D Mini Books that I thought she might like to start out.  I picked out a layer mini-book for her and printed it off.  I gave her the pages, showed her where she needed to cut it out at, and let her be creative.  The assignment I gave her was to create a mini-book of what she wanted to do this summer.  She happily accepted the assignment while I began reading through the "Easy Start Guide" and printing off the pages to set up my binder as it suggests.  Little Miss loved creating her book and she had me print off more of the mini-books so she can write some stories.  I also had her work on writing out what she had learned this year about George Mueller.  I used the "Famous Missionaries Blank Notebooking Pages" for this as they have several missionaries pages, but they don't have one for George Mueller yet and we had read a book about him earlier this Spring.  She enjoyed going through the book and picking out the details that she wanted to remember about him.  She filled one page and asked if she could write another.  Then she asked me to print off more blank missionary pages so she could use a different book we read earlier in the year to write down the things she remembered from those stories.  I also printed off some music pages for Little Miss to write about her piano recital she was in.  I found a reading log to print off for her so she can keep track of summer reading.  Every time I login to NotebookingPages.com I find more things to print off that are helpful to us.
Along with your Lifetime Membership you get access to this Easy Start Guide along with helpful emails to get started.
This Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership is a product that I never knew how much I needed it until I began reviewing it.  I wanted to do the review because I thought Little Miss would like the notebooking, but once I started looking at what I had received I realized we were missing out in our school by not doing notebooking.  I am now a HUGE fan of notebooking and it will play a large part in our school from now on.  As I continue to work on printing resources for my master binder, I find more pages I want both of my kids to work on in their own grade levels.  I also find more useful videos, tips, and resources every time I log in.  I honestly love this product and the possibilities are endless with it.
Videos to help you be successful with notebooking.
You can find our more information about NotebookingPages.com on their website.  They do offer free resources which includes a 600 page sampler of their notebooking pages, but you can purchase the Lifetime Membership for just $97.  That may sound like a lot but remember you pay it once and get lifetime access.  You can also find NotebookingPages.com on Facebook and Twitter.  You can check out the Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership that we received here.  Also you can check out what my friends on the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about this membership by clicking on the banner below.
Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews









(P.S.  This post does contain affiliate links which means I will get a commission if you decide to purchase anything.  I signed up for the affiliate program after discovering how much we love notebooking.  It is a product I highly recommend.)



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Review of the Self-Paced Bible by Veritas Press

One of the primary reasons we chose to homeschool our kids was and still is to insure that they have a strong Christian foundation and because of this I am always on the lookout for curriculum about the Bible.  A Bible curriculum is exactly what we found when we recently had the chance to review the Self-Paced Bible, Old Testament 2: Judges to Kings from Veritas Press.  This Bible curriculum is packed full of facts, dates, places, and more for your student to learn.
Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review
Veritas Press is a company that was developed as homeschool parents saw the need for a better Classical Christian Curriculum.  They researched many products that were on the market when they were homeschooling their children and became convinced they wanted to teach history chronologically with the Bible integrated into recorded history.  They started developing their products based on the fact that they wanted their children to know the relationship between what they study in "history books" and what they read in the Bible.  Veritas Press has grown tremendously since they started their journey and they now offer many curriculum choices, online classes, and even the Veritas Press Scholars Academy.
We received a 12 month subscription to the Self-Paced Bible, Old Testament 2 Judges to King from Veritas Press to review.  This  online Self-Paced Bible course has 128 lessons that cover 32 major events from the book of Judges through Second Kings.  It helps students learn about the early years of the people of Israel to the exile to Babylon.  It features music to memorize the chronology of the events that take place during this time period.  It also uses memory tools for names, dates, and places of this portion of the Bible.  The course features activities, projects, worksheets, and tests.  It uses real people dressed as characters to tell the stories of the Bible.  Students get to know young Levi along with his friends and family who help him tell the stories from Judges to Kings.
Little Miss was excited to work on this online Bible course from Veritas Press.  I thought this would be a good opportunity for her to learn more about the Old Testament and the time period of the Judges.  We haven't spent a lot of time going over this area of the Bible prior to receiving this course to review.  Once I got her logged in and ready to go, all she had to do was click the launch button to go into the lessons.  The lessons usually started with a video featuring the main character Levi.  She was glued to the screen to hear what he was telling her and to see who would be in the video with him.  Sometimes it was members of his family with him or friends and sometimes the videos featured Levi's animal friends.  After she watched the videos then she got to work on activities, questions, worksheets and test depending on how far she was in the lesson.  The course automatically keeps track of where you left off and it also automatically grades everything which was nice because we didn't have to try to remember where she was at in the course.  Little Miss worked through several lessons of this Self-Paced Bible course.
Little Miss really enjoyed meeting the characters and thought that Levi was funny.  The videos captured her attention and she enjoyed watching them.  The games were fun for her, but she did struggle with them a little bit.  The struggle was not the game itself, that part she understood, but the struggle was using the keyboard to play the game as she doesn't get to play on the computer a lot so she kept hitting wrong keys.  Then she would run out of time and have to play the game again until she got through it.  She also liked the memory song about the Judges and was working really hard to learn it.  I have heard her humming it throughout the day.  Little Miss liked the review questions that were included in the lessons as they were fun and colorful.  She did not do as well on the worksheets as I hoped she would.  She would forget some of the information she learned because she didn't focus as hard on remembering the information she was being taught as she did on the characters.  She is so used to other programs that will let her try again to get answers right that she just assumed that this one did that too, but it did not.  It only grades the first time you do the worksheet so if you get a lot wrong, you get a bad grade.  Once the worksheet is graded you can go back and complete it again for practice, but it does not give you a new grade.  So Little Miss was a little frustrated that according to the grade she sees on her dashboard she is failing this course.  I had to remind her that even though her grade was not good, she was still learning and this was a new subject area for her.

 Overall we really liked the Self-Paced Bible, Old Testament 2: Judges to Kings from Veritas Press.  I think that it is a very thorough Bible curriculum and there is A LOT to be learned from it. I really liked how easy it was to use and how easy it was to navigate their dashboards in the student and parent sections.  I appreciated how interactive and fun it is because Little Miss didn't even complain that she had to work on school when I asked her to do her lessons.  She just ran to the computer.  After letting Little Miss work through some of the lessons on her own, I found she focused better when I sat down with her.  Even though you can't get a new grade on worksheets and tests after you initially take them, I found Little Miss did better when we worked through a lesson twice.  I am not sure if she just wasn't focused the first time or if it is just because it is new information for her.  We worked completely through 5 of the lessons in the review period and she started on the 6th lesson only working about 3 days a week on this.  She would have been further along if we had not went back to review some of the beginning lessons.  We will definitely continue to work our way through this course because I really want to see Little Miss complete it.  We definitely recommend this product and I will be checking out their other Self-Paced Bible courses for future use after we finish this one.
Like I mentioned earlier, Veritas Press has several products that they offer including several other Self-Paced Bible courses.  These courses come with a 60 Day Money Back Guarantee and you can view sample lessons on their website.  You can find out more about Veritas Press on their website and you can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and  Instagram.  You can find the Self-Paced Bible course we used here.  Please go and check them out.  Also be sure to check out the reviews from my friends on the Schoolhouse Review Crew by clicking the banner below.  This time we were reviewing several of their products so you don't want to miss these reviews.
Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Be Prepared

A Glimpse of Normal Blog

This week in our area we have had some severe weather and more is predicted.  We were lucky and the last batch of storms missed us, but friends a few towns over are still waiting for power to be restored 2 days later.  I am writing this on a day they are forecasting some pretty terrible weather for our area even though I won't be posting it until another day.  You see I am trying to be prepared.  We lose Internet easily and with what the weatherman is predicting, it could totally happen that I have no way to post.  This along with all the warnings from the weatherman about the possibility of severe weather got me thinking about how prepared my family is.  It reminded me that I needed to review our weather emergency and fire emergency plans with my kids and the little girl I babysit for.  My kids are old enough to understand why we have a plan and why we need to be prepared without it scaring them.  We live where storms happen regularly and it is best to have a plan of action before storms arrive so that my kids know what to do when I say "GO!"  Here is our plan for 2 different situations.

Severe Weather Plan (Tornadoes and Severe Thunderstorms)
1.  Leave shoes and socks near the basement door - We have carpet downstairs but under that it is concrete and lightning can travel through concrete.  It is always a good idea to have shoes to put on when we head down to the basement during a storm.
2.  When Mom or Dad Says GO You GO no matter what - My kids know that during a storm if we say GO, they head directly to the basement without questions.  Once downstairs and safe, they will ask if they need to get in the safe spot.
3.  Have a "Safe Spot" - This is what we call our spot that we go if we would have a tornado.  It is our spot where we take cover and wait it out.  Our kids know this spot and they know that they don't come out of it until they are told it is okay unless there would be a fire emergency.
4.  Keep Emergency Supplies Nearby - We have a storage pantry in our basement so we have food and water down there.  We also keep candles, flashlights, and other emergency items downstairs just in case.
5.  Practice Your Plan - We have practiced our plan so our kids know what to do.  We usually practice this at least once a year.  Unfortunately we have had to use our plan, but fortunately we have never had a tornado touch down at our house.

Fire Emergency Plan 
1.  Get Low!  - My kids have been taught to get low because smoke rises.
2.  Find the Nearest Exit - The kids are old enough to be able to open the doors and windows.  They know how to get the screen out of the window if that is the way they have to go out.  We have had them both practice this.
3.  Leave Everything! - We have told them multiple times not to stop to grab anything, just get out.
4.  Head to Our Meeting Place and Stay There - Our meeting place is our apple tree.  It is a safe distance from the road and a central location where emergency personnel could find us.
5.  Practice Your Plan - We do have fire drills.  The family needs to know what to do when an emergency happens.  We have had our kids practice climbing out the windows (don't worry we do not have a second story) so they know what it feels like.  We've practiced it during the day and at night.  Fortunately we have only ever had to practice, but I want to make sure we are prepared.

Do you have an emergency plan?  Do you practice them?  If you don't have plans in place, please take the time to create one and share it with your family today.  Don't wait until an emergency happens to get a plan.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

MySchoolYear.com Review

Over the years of homeschooling I have always kept records for our attendance, grades, and lesson plans.  Although I have been consistently doing these things, I don’t feel like I have ever been very efficient at it.  I have always thought that there has to be a better and easier way to track all of this information and that is what I discovered when I recently had the chance to review My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from MySchoolYear.com.  I received an annual membership to this online site so that I could check it out, work with it, and see what it is all about. 
MySchoolYear.com ReviewHomeschool Record keeping Tracking Reporting Planning Organization Transcripts Report Cards High school Lesson plans

MySchoolYear.com is a website that allows you to quickly set up your school, add multiple students, set up a schedule, and then quickly create classes and lessons for your students.  It helps you set up everything you might need in your school using prompts to help remind you of things you might have forgotten.  The site has 4 main areas – Homeroom, Planbook, Reports, and Teacher’s Aid.  The Homeroom area is designed so you can visually track the status of every student at a glance. It has charts for attendance and school hours, a reading log, and you can quickly glance at other areas the site is tracking for you.  The Planbook is your tracking tool.  This is where you can create your lessons and once they are created you can mark them complete, reschedule them, or change the lesson entirely.  You can see what is overdue, current, and upcoming.  The Planbook also allows you to search, filer, and sort classes and lessons.  The Teacher’s Aid section is where you will find reminders of what you need to do next.  It prompts you to enter lessons, class times, and more to help you keep accurate records.  The Reports area allows you to create various reports and awards to give your student throughout the year.  The reports are based on what you are tracking and the grades you are entering.  You can even create transcripts, report cards, and lesson plans in this area.  MySchoolYear.com also has areas for tools and setup that help you create exactly what you want in your lesson plans and grading.
This shows the reports you can create, the tools area, and setup area.
This shows the lesson plans I entered, where you can create a plan, and lesson plan tools.
Like I said at the beginning I have always kept records for our school, but I don’t feel like I have ever been very efficient at it.  The only exception to this is tracking our attendance.  It is our only major requirement for our state and I have always done this very well.  Other than attendance, I have always felt like I have had a VERY time consuming process of tracking grades and lessons.  So I was really excited to find out all about MySchoolYear.com and really see what the My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) could do. I was very impressed with what I found.  Their site is very easy to use and it is very helpful with the prompts it gives you to keep entering more details.  Once I got logged in, I was quickly able to add a school schedule, my students, and then start adding classes for next Fall.  I also added a reading list for each of my kids for books they are working on reading this summer and will be adding to it once I know what books we will read for school.  I like how easy it is to create lesson plans in this program and they even have a feature for repeating plans so that you don’t have to keep typing the same thing over and over.  I was tested the program on this by putting in a general lesson plan for Buddy’s math.  I set up a repeating schedule that he does one lesson of math a day starting with lesson 1 on our first day of school and ending with lesson 180 on our last day of school.  I was able to add general instructions of read through the lesson, complete sample problems, complete homework problems, and complete any worksheets for the lesson.  Then I checked my work in the Planbook and I can quickly pull up Buddy, math, and see what I have assigned.  Once he starts working on these assignments I will also be able to see what he has completed and the grades earned along with anything left undone.  I did the same with some classes for Little Miss.  As I figure out what we are working on for each student, I have been adding classes and assignments for them.  The Homeschool Record Keeping has been great for me to add to as I plan out our school year.  It was quick and easy to figure out our attendance days for next year and to mark days that we will have off.  I can search date ranges to see what the kids should be working on or lessons that I have entered in.  I can see all their information at a glance in the homeroom.  I can filter my search in several different ways or I can see the big picture for our school year.  One of my other favorite things about this program is that it sends you an email each with with the assignments that are due that week.  How cool is that?  I am really loving working on this program and how easy and user-friendly it is.  I will definitely continue using this program throughout our school year and I will be updating it as I get further into my planning for next school year with more detailed lesson plans and information.  I am also very excited that once we begin our school and I have graded work, I can just enter the grades and this program will calculate everything for me.  I will know how my kids are doing on a daily basis and that is awesome to me.
The weekly emails, Teacher's Aid prompts (I added the pushpins to cover names), and repeating lesson plans.
I would definitely pay to use the My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) from MySchoolYear.com.  They offer a couple of different pricing plans.  You can pay $5 a month or you can save money by purchasing an annual plan for just $40.  You can discover more about MySchoolYear.com on their website.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  You can learn more about the My School Year (Homeschool Record Keeping) here.  You can also see how my friends on the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been using this program by clicking on the banner below.
Homeschool Record Keeping {MySchoolYear.com Review}

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Review of LearnBop for Families from LearnBop

Math is just one of those subjects that students tend to have a love/hate relationship with, but what if there was a program available that made math fun and taught students step by step while detecting what they are missing?  A program like that is exactly what we found when we recently reviewed LearnBop for Families from LearnBop.  This company has been offering their math program to schools for awhile now, but they just recently began offering LearnBop for Families which is geared towards homeschool families. 
Math Help, Math Tutor, Online Math Tutor, Tutoring, Statistics, Geometry, Algebra, Pre-algebra, Trigonometry, Math Problems, Fractions, Decimals
LearnBop for Families is an online program that is designed for students 3rd grade through 12th grade.  LearnBop has developed a step-by-step learning system that teaches students to solve math problems on their own.  Their program helps to find prerequisites that the student might have missed at the current grade level and in previous grades while they are working their way through the lessons.  This program is self-paced and simulates one –on –one learning like having a personal tutor would.  Students can master math faster, catch up on previous grade work, and even get ahead.  LearnBop for Families also gives parents math help in the dashboard area by allowing you to work through the same material your student has access to, you can see the progress and achievements of your student, and you have the ability to adjust the level your student is working at.  You can purchase plans for just one student or up to four students and their plans start at just $14.95 per month.
Roadmaps Available
This is where the student can see their progress
We received a one year subscription for the Family Plan of LearnBop for Families from LearnBop to review.  It was very quick and easy to set up the parent account and in that account is where I set up accounts for Buddy and Little Miss.  Once you get your students set up you can choose their “Learning Roadmap” which is what they work on.  You can set up the roadmaps by grade or subject and they also have High School Roadmaps for upper level math.  I set Buddy’s level to 8th grade and I set the level to 3rd grade for Little Miss.  I also chose a roadmap for myself so that I could see how this program worked.   I set my level to 8th grade so I could help Buddy if he got stuck and it is good prep for teaching his math this fall.  Then I just had each kid start working through their roadmap to see how far they could get.  They worked on this program at least 3 days a week and sometimes more.
Building Blocks to work on
Each level of the roadmap starts with a warm-up that determines what the student knows on the subject.  After the warm up, the program determines where you should start on the lessons.  The lessons are broken down into “Building Blocks” which are the foundations they need before they can master the overall concept or “ Unit Concept.”  The lessons usually begin with a series of videos that thoroughly explain the building blocks you will be working on and they give examples.  The student watches the videos and then they can  work on the “Bops” (problems) for the lesson.  They have to achieve a 90% mastery in the “Bops” before they can go on to the next part of the lesson.  They continue doing this they master each area.  They can see their progress as they go by checking the meter at the top of the page.  The area where the meter is tells them what percent of the lesson they have completed, how much more they have until the concept is mastered, how many videos they have watched, the number of Bops completed, and how long they have worked on this section.  They can earn achievements and milestones for their work.
Concepts to work through
Both kids liked working through LearnBop for Families.  They felt like it was easy to figure out where to start each time and find their way around the area they were working on.  They really liked watching the videos and being able to work at a pace that was comfortable to them.  Both kids were challenged by this program.  They thought they had watched the videos closely and knew what to do, but there were times they struggled through some of the “Bops.”  Buddy was challenged because the material he was covering in the Bops was new material and the concepts seem very similar to him.  This made it challenging for him to answer the Bops because he found that he really had to sit and think through each individual step of what they were asking him to do.  He got a little frustrated with that because math used to be an easy subject for him, but now he is at the stage where math is getting hard and you have to think step by step rather than just quickly get an answer.  It is really just something we have been working on with him to get him to go step by step for math.  So LearnBop was really good for him because it forced him to work step by step rather than just skip ahead and guess an answer.  Many times when he tried to just guess, he would get it wrong.  When he took the time to think it through, he did fine.  He did like that he could get hints when he got things wrong to show him why he got it wrong.  The hints did not give the answers, they just helped break down the process for you to think through the steps.  Buddy did say he likes working on LearnBop and wants to keep working at it.  I think he is enjoying being challenged.
The Mastery has to get to 90% before they can move on
Little Miss learned that she really has to read through each problem and do exactly what was asked of her.  When she did this, she did very well at LearnBop.  If she didn’t read carefully, she made mistakes which frustrated her.  She learned she had to slow down too.  I think she kept forgetting she was learning new concepts and thought she was reviewing instead.  For the review period, I kept Buddy working on Grade 8 and he did well, but was he worked slowly on it.  Again these were new concepts to him so it took him a little longer to work through them even though he was working consistently on it.  He is about 68% of the way through his first unit.  Little Miss started out in 3rd grade and got frustrated.  At first I didn’t have time to sit down with her and figure out why she was so frustrated so I switched her to 1st Grade (they do offer work on some of the lower grades just for concepts) so that she could review and have success on the program.  Once I got a chance to sit down with her and see why she was getting frustrated, I realized that it was because she wasn’t reading the problems as carefully as she could have been.  Her frustration was her own fault and my fault for not sitting down to work with her sooner.  Once I worked with her, I bumped her up to work on 2nd grade work and then finally back to 3rd grade.  She completed 1 entire unit in 1st grade, a partial unit in 2nd grade, and a partial unit in 3rd grade.  Now that she understands that she has to go slow and work step by step, she has been much more successful at LearnBop and wants to keep working on it.
The Roadmap they work on
I am only a little way through the unit I am working on.  I have not been able to sit down as consistently and work on this program, but I really love what I have worked on.  I love the login process.  I login in and then I can have each kid login (they click a button and it takes them to their dashboard) through my dashboard.  It is easy, quick, and I only have to remember my password.  I love the dashboard and that I can quickly switch and see how each of my kids are doing, how long they worked, and the progress they made.  The dashboard of this program is super easy to navigate and just very well put together.  It is probably one of the easiest dashboard’s I have come across for online programs.  I really appreciate how thorough the videos are and how they take the time to break down the concepts that are being taught.  I also really like that there is a set percentage that students have to obtain before they can move on.  I know that they have to do the work to move on, it isn’t just do one problem and go, it is hit 90% before they can move on.  I also love that if you get the problems wrong, the program encourages you to try again (you can also restart the problem).  If you continue to get the problem wrong, it has a button to show hints.  The hints don’t giveaway the answer, but they point you in the right direction and help you see what step you need to think about to answer the question right.  If you continue to get the problem wrong, the program breaks it down step by step starting with true and false questions for each part.  In many cases for both of my kids, the true and false questions helped them have that “aha moment” and they figured out what they did wrong.  Overall we really, really liked LearnBop and will continue to work on it.  It has been a great tool to keep my kids working on math through the summer.
My kids loved earning achievements (these were for Little Miss)
You can find out more information about LearnBop on their website, Facebook, and Twitter.  You can find out more about the LearnBop for Families that we received by clicking here.  You can also read the reviews from my fellow Schoolhouse Review Crew members and see what they thought about LearnBop for Families by clicking on the banner below.
LearnBop for Families Review

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Meet the Family

It has been a very long time since I told you about our little family.  Now that I have been blogging more, I thought it might be fun for you if I shared who we are.  My hope is that as my children get older and my blog grows, I might be able to get a few guests posts from my family members.  I am totally keeping my fingers crossed on this one.  So without further ado here we are:IMG_1141
Cassandra – This is me!  I started this little ol’ blog way back in 2012.  It has truly been a place to share all the things rolling around in my head.  You really never know what I am going to post about because, honestly, I never know what I am going to post about.  I love cooking, baking, reading, music, watching tv, blogging, crafting, my family, my friends, shopping, and most of all I love God.  I am a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a church member, and a homeschool teacher among other things.  I did go to college for teaching, I have a degree in Business Education.  I married my high school sweetheart and love him dearly.  He is amazing!  I grew up in the city, but now we live in the country so while I am still a work in progress on being a “Country Girl,” I don’t miss the city anymore.  I love the beach and traveling.  I am a foodie and a Food Network addict.  IMG_0417
Handsome Hubby – We can call him J too, he won’t mind.  He doesn’t usually get mentioned or appear on the blog because he likes to be behind the scenes so I do my best not to rat him out.  Ha!  He is an amazing guy with a huge heart!  He is very talented at sports, building things, and gardening.  If I happen to post about our garden, it is all his hard work, he has the green thumb in this family.  He loves God, his family, his friends, football, running, and chess.  He is an amazing leader for our family and just makes things happen around here.  IMG_1273
 Buddy – You have probably seen this very handsome young man in my review posts.  He is one amazing son!  Buddy is kind, gentle, smart, and funny.  He makes me laugh every day.  He doesn’t give up on things and he challenges himself to step out of his comfort zone regularly.  This boy loves God, has an amazing gift for Bible verse memorization, and has a servant’s heart.  He loves anything outdoors, mountain biking, and of course, Minecraft. IMG_0389
Little Miss – This girl, oh where do I start?  She is all princess, but rough and tough in the same breath.  You have also seen her in my review posts.  She is amazing too!  Little Miss is funny, energetic, caring, and smart.  She comes up with the best one liners at just the right time.  She is our free spirit artist that loves to create things.  She is determined, creative, and outgoing.  She doesn’t give up easily.  She loves Jesus, making other people smile, and surprising people.  She loves anything fashion, princess, or music related.

Solomon - This old husky is 12 years old.  He is loving, faithful, and acts like a puppy sometimes.  He is definitely not as wise as his name suggests, but he is cute, cuddly, and full of personality.
Kevin a.k.a Cutie - This is Little Miss' cat.  He is an outdoor cat due to my severe allergy of cats.  She originally named him Cutie, but Buddy decided he needed a Minion name and renamed him Kevin.  He is pretty sweet and just loves hanging around outside.  He lets the kids do all kinds of crazy things to him - like sending him down the slide or pushing him on the swing.  He also follows them around like a puppy dog, we really believe he thinks he is a dog.
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All of us together – This is all of us from the last time we had our pictures done which was a couple of years ago.  This photo was taken by Photography by V, she is super talented and a loved friend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Change Up

A Glimpse of Normal, change, unit studies, homeschool,

Every year we look back at our school year and see what worked, what didn’t work, and make decisions for the next school year.  This past year was a good year.  I survived teaching 2 different grades, helped to homeschool the little girl I babysit for, participated in homeschool group, and I had the opportunity to become a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  So what does all this have to do with the change up?  Let me tell you, but first let me tell you that I have struggled to write this post.  Why?  Because what I am going to tell you feels like I am speaking out against a certain curriculum and I am very scared that this is how that post will be received, but that is not my intention at all.  I still really love the curriculum that we have used in the past, I stand behind it 100%, but it is time for some change.

Honestly I have been stuck in a curriculum rut.  I found something that worked for us me and I just stuck with it.  We have been using Sonlight for both of our kids for the past several years.  It is a great curriculum and being an avid reader, I really love it because it is highly reading based.  While I love the ease of opening the planning book and having everything already planned out for me, it just hasn’t been working for Buddy.  He was learning a lot from all the reading, but over the last 2 years he has started to really dread school.  It started in 6th grade that he began to dread school and got even worse in 7th grade.  Buddy is a typical boy and will tell you that he doesn’t like school if you ask him, but deep down I know that he enjoys learning.  What I stubbornly realized after this year is that it was the curriculum we were using that was causing him to dread school.  Buddy really enjoyed many of the books we read this year, he has even talked about reading some of them again because he liked them so much.  What he didn’t enjoy was the amount of time we spent reading our curriculum each day.  Between reading for history, reading for part of language arts, reading for science, and reading for Bible, he was up to reading over 4 hours a day which is A LOT for a 7th grader.  I really had to dig deep and ask myself what I would have liked at his age and even though I have always loved reading, I can’t tell you I would have loved reading those subjects for 4 hours a day.  Now reading for fun, I could totally do that for over 4 hours, but curriculum stuff, not so much.  After chatting with some other homeschool mom friends recently, thinking over the past school year, and praying, I  knew that we had to do something different with our curriculum or we would continue to just make school a dreaded thing for Buddy.

It was funny to me that I had been thinking about this a lot and I felt that God was trying to get me to open my mind about our school curriculum again.  I really think that He has been trying to show me this for awhile, but I had closed that door – we had our curriculum, it worked okay, why change it?  I know that it was God that helped me find the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  It has been through the Crew that we have been trying different products for reviews and finding some awesome resources that have helped me see that I don’t have to just stick to one thing.  I know that God helped me get my spot on the Crew and I am so thankful for it.  I am thankful they picked this little blog to be a part of the Crew, that they let me wipe the dust off of this blog, and have encouraged me to be a regular blogger again.  I have found a creative outlet again that I do enjoy.  I know that God put the right homeschool moms in the right place at the right time for just the right conversation that confirmed my thoughts.  I am thankful that my hubby listens and makes suggestions and when we chatted about changing things up for Buddy, he was completely on board.  We sat down as a family and had a conversation with Buddy about if he wanted to change up our curriculum, what kinds of things he thought he would like to take out and add in (for the record he made suggestions, hubby and I have the final say), and we told him what we were thinking.  Buddy was on board and definitely willing to go in a new direction. 

So what are we changing?  We will not be doing Sonlight with Buddy this year.  We will however continue on with Sonlight for Little Miss, her reading doesn’t take near as long since she is at a lower grade.  I still feel that Sonlight works for her and she is loving all the reading.  For Buddy we have chosen to go in the direction of Unit Studies.  We will be doing in-depth studies of topics.  We are still working on picking the topics and I am doing the research to find materials for the unit studies.  He will still have language arts, math, and science textbooks, but then we are trying to work some of the history into the unit studies.  We will work some of the other subjects into the unit studies as well.  I don’t really have more details on what all the Unit Studies will include yet as we have really just decided to go this route in the last few weeks and I am still in the research phase.  Buddy has picked some great topics for some of his unit studies and I will share those with you in a later post when I have more put together.  We will also be doing reading for our unit studies as I know that every topic we will pick has books that will go with it.  I am really excited to make this change for him and I am excited to see his love of learning come back.  I hope that he doesn’t dread school so much this fall.  I am also blessed that we have found so many great products through the Crew that I can use to fill in and also enhance our studies for both kids.  I do admit that I am a little nervous to tackle lesson planning again, but I know that I can do it. 

Let’s chat!  I would love to hear your feedback.  How do you decide what to do for curriculum in your homeschool?  Have you ever used unit studies? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Drinking Gourd E-Guide - A Progeny Press Review

I love the fact that I am raising readers, but I don't always know if they comprehend what they read.  This is why I was really excited to receive The Drinking Gourd E-Guide from Progeny Press to review with Little Miss.  This downloadable study guide is a great resource for you to check and see if your students are understanding what they read.
homeschool, literature, faith-based, christian, critical analysis, book study
Progeny Press is a company that started out when Michael and Rebecca Gilleland were homeschooling their own children and saw a need for quality study guides with a Christian perspective for Classical Literature.  They started out by writing 18 study guides and today they offer well over 10 study guides in several different formats.  The study guides that they write are designed to teach children to analyze what they read while checking their comprehension.  This was our first time exploring a Progeny Press product, but it definitely won't be our last since they have study guides for lower elementary right up through high school.
Little Miss and The Drinking Gourd
We received The Drinking Gourd E-Guide from Progeny Press for Little Miss and I to review, but if this title doesn't appeal to you, they do have other titles in this age range.  This E-guide is for lower elementary (grades 1-3).  We had to obtain the book, The Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo on our own, which was available at our local library.  I could have also purchased the book from Progeny Press because they do sell the books they have guides for.  The link to download our E-guide came via email with instructions on how to download the study guide.  It was super easy to download and then I printed it off so we could work on it.  This study guide was very well written.  It had a "Note to Instructor" that clearly explained how to use the study guide, suggested what other materials we might need, and gave Internet references along with a note for parents to check the sites before allowing the students to.  The guide included an about the author, a synopsis and a background so I could see what we would be reading about before we dug into the book.
We also read this book as part of the "Before-You-Read Activities"
The E-guide also included "Before-You-Read Activities" that help introduce the subject and story to the student through activities.  The activity that we completed from this section was to read Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter.  Little Miss really liked this book and she liked the story behind the song that slaves sang as they followed the Drinking Gourd.  Reading this book gave us a chance to discuss what slavery was, the Underground Railroad, and why slaves wanted to get away.  After we did this, Little Miss read The Drinking Gourd by F. N. Monjo.  She also really enjoyed this book and after she read it on her own, she read it to me.  We began working our way through the study guide.  First we worked on the vocabulary section.  I had her try to answer all the questions herself before I would help her because I wanted to check her comprehension.  She did very well on this part and if there was a word she didn't know we tried to break down the sentence first to see if she could pick up the meaning and she did.  Then there were study questions for each chapter.  Little Miss wanted to try the on her own and she was able to complete most of them without my help.  The ones she did need help on, were a little harder but they also gave us a chance to discuss different ideas like freedom. Bible verses and how they fit the story, and feelings of the characters.  In just a few weeks she has been able to get a little more than half way through the study guide.  She sits down and works on it a little every day.  The last part of the study guide has "After-You-Read Activities" which she has already looked ahead and found.  She is looking forward to doing some star gazing on some upcoming camping trips to see what constellations we can find besides the Drinking Gourd  which we taught her to find when we were camping for Memorial Day.
Working independently on the study guide
We really enjoyed working on this E-guide from Progeny Press.  I felt it was very well written and very thorough, yet easy enough for Little Miss to be able to work on by herself.  It gave us a chance to have discussions on many topics.  She has discovered a new topic that she wants to learn more about, the Underground Railroad, and the guide has a list of more resources we can look into and we definitely will.  I really love it when a product encourages more learning, that is a company I will turn to time and time again.  She will be finishing up the guide in the next week or so and I will be adding some of the suggested resources from our E-guide to our school year this fall.  I will definitely be checking out Progeny Press for other study guides at other levels especially since I will be putting together unit studies for him for school this year, these will work beautifully for that.
Here is an example of her work (I didn't worry about spelling for this).
You can find Progeny Press at their website, on Facebook and Twitter.  You can find The Drinking Gourd E-guide we received here.  Please make sure to go and check out all that Progeny Press has to offer since they do offer so many guides for so many levels.  There are many, many titles to choose from with Progeny Press.
Little Miss is excited about being able to find The Drinking Gourd in the sky.
Please check out the reviews from my friends on the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The Crew is reviewing many of the E-guides that Progeny Press offers.  I know I will be checking out the reviews.
Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}