Wednesday, June 20, 2018

4th of July Wreath Tutorial

I love creating simple, but cute crafts especially ones that my 9 year old daughter can help me with.  This simple 4th of July Wreath was just that...a craft my daughter could help me with.  I have been wanting to make a new wreath for our front door for the 4th of July for awhile now so when the supplies for this one went on sale, I knew the timing was right.  I bought my wreath form at the dollar store, but they don't always have them.  When they do have them I usually buy a few and save them for future projects.  The rest of the supplies I got at a local craft store when they were having a bogo sale so that it made my wreath project cost only about $11 to make plus our time.  I wanted my wreath to be really full looking so I used extra tulle, you could get away with only 1 roll of red and 1 roll of white tulle, but your wreath may not be as full as mine turned out to be.
4th of July Wreath Tutorial, A Glimpse of Normal, Easy Crafts
4th of July Wreath
Supplies Needed:
1 and 1/2 Roll of Red Tulle
1 and 1/2 Roll of White Tulle
1 Roll of Royal Blue Tulle
10 " Wire Wreath Form
I did buy extra rolls of tulle just in case I needed more.
1.  Cut each color of tulle into approximately 6 inch pieces.  So the pieces will be 6" wide and 6" long.
2.  In three of the wreath form sections, we alternated red and white tulle for each row of the form.  We simply tied the piece of tulle on and then tied it one more time to secure it. 

3.  In the last two sections of the wreath form, we tied on blue pieces of tulle and occasionally added in a white piece for the "stars" of the wreath.  I just tried to make sure that my white "stars" didn't line up with each other.
4.  After we got most of the pieces of tulle tied on, I went back and looked for spots that needed to be fuller and added more in those spots. 
Depending on how full you want your wreath and the size of your wreath form, you may need more or less tulle.  I wanted our wreath nice and full.  This wreath should be able to handle the weather.  If it gets wet the tulle should dry quickly and just need to be fluffed up again.  We have a screen door and a roof over our porch areas so our wreath should be fairly protected from the weather.  I would love to see your wreath if you create one so please come back and share it with me here in the comments or on my Facebook page.

*I did include Amazon affiliate links for the supplies just in case you don't have a craft store near you.  If you purchase anything from those links Amazon will pay me a commission on your purchase. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Review of the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar

We are in summer mode at our house and we don't officially do school in the summer, but I do want my kids to keep their skills fresh and their brains working through the summer.  Since it is summer, I try to find things they can do to have fun while exercising their brains.  The Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar does exactly that.  We recently got a chance to review their programs when they gave us a 12 month online subscription to try.
MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs, A Glimpse of Normal
We have reviewed the programs that MaxScholar offers before, but let me take a minute and remind you about them.  MaxScholar is a comprehensive reading and language-based program.  It is designed to help students improve their reading skills, language, and their performance scores.  They offer many different programs for students that are Pre-K through 12th grade.  These programs include Pre-K Phonics, MaxPhonics, MaxReading, MaxWords, MaxMusic, MaxVocab, MaxPlaces, and MaxBios.  Each of these programs have several lessons and levels in them.  Certain areas have games that your student can play.  This online program is very engaging and highly interactive.  It is also available not only on your computer, but you can get an app for your mobile device.

How Did We Use this Online Site?
I used this online site with both Buddy and Little Miss.  I thought this would be a good chance to work on reading and comprehension for both of them over the summer.  I also wanted them to work on their vocabulary skills which this program does a nice job with.  I know that my kids like programs that mix in fun with the real work.  It was very easy to get both kids set up and ready to login to MaxScholar.  Once they logged in I had them take the placement test under the MaxReading section so the program could decide what level to have them work at.  I know that both of my kids are good readers and they don’t struggle too much, but I always like to see where their comprehension levels are.  Little Miss ended up testing in at a third grade level this time which didn’t surprise me.  The placement test is very thorough and she has a tendency to read quickly and miss some detail so while I know she is a good reader we are always working on looking at the details with her.  Buddy tested in at a level 10 which is right where he is at in school since he just finished 9th grade.  Some of the questions involved root words in both Latin and Greek and he just didn’t know them, but I didn't expect him to either.  We just started focusing on vocabulary this last year so he had to guess at many of those questions.  He did much better on the placement test this time than he did the last time and I think that is because he sort of knew what to expect.  After their tests, I let them pick the areas of the program they worked in each time they logged in.  Buddy had completed a lot of the MaxPlaces last time so this time he worked more in the MaxVocab to build his vocabulary skills and he worked some in the MaxReading.  Little Miss worked more across the board and used several of the programs.  She loves the MaxMusic (at least the artists I let her work on) and the MaxPlaces.  She has also been doing a lot better in the MaxReading and MaxWords this time around.  Both of the kids like being able to work on their own level in each part of the program.  They have the option to pick and choose what they can do based on what they have unlocked by completing levels.  Once they complete enough levels in areas, there are games they can play that will help them practice what they learned in the levels.

What Is New?
When we reviewed these programs a couple of years ago, their site was pretty easy to use and navigate.  Now I think they have made it even more user-friendly.  I know for a fact that the teacher dashboard where you can view reports and usage is much easier to use.  In my opinion it is easier to use now and much more streamlined.  Just by logging in to my teacher's account and clicking a couple of buttons, I can see what areas my kids have been spending time in and the progress they are making.  It is also easier now to find out what level your student is working at in each of the areas of this program.  Another new thing is that you can now have the stories in MaxReading read aloud to you.  Little Miss tried this out one day when she wanted to do a reading lesson, but didn't want to read.  It read the story aloud to her and all she had to do was listen and then answer the questions like normal.  I think this would be very helpful for younger readers and for struggling readers.  Each program also directs you through using it.  I think the program did this before, but now it seems to be even more detailed which makes the site easier to navigate.  Also in the teacher's area, I can use the program on my own level so that I can see exactly what my kids have to do and the kinds of things they are learning.  I like this because I can try it without bumping up their level since my level of learning is different than theirs.
This was the quick view of my teacher dashboard early on.

What Did We Think?
Overall we were pleased with the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar.  We liked the variety of programs they offer and the variety of levels that the kids could work at.  I really appreciated that both of my kids could work on the programs offered by this one site and they both found their favorite areas to work in.  I also liked having the parent dashboard that I could log in to so that I could see what they had been working on and how they were doing.  I really appreciated how quickly I could navigate the parent dashboard and the graphs the program created for me so that I could glance quickly and see the progress or I could create reports and get a detailed view.  I liked that how I could view the work as a whole from the dashboard or I could break it down by subject for each student.  Both kids had a lot of fun on this website and they want to continue working on areas of it.  My only complaint about this program is that I personally disagree with some of the artists they use for the MaxMusic and some of the people that students can read about in the MaxReading.  Some of the artists I did not let my kids work on because we won’t listen to their music.  I would like to see a wider selection of musical artists, but my kids did a good job of asking me which ones they could work on before they went into an artist.  Many of the people my son could read about in the 10th level of MaxReading were rappers and just not people that my son would want to read about or people I want him reading about.  I personally feel that there are a lot of other people this program could have students reading and learning about.  There were many great people to read about in the MaxBios so I am not quite sure why they chose rappers for the MaxReading.

You can learn more about the Reading Intervention Programs that we received by clicking here.  You can learn about all that MaxScholar offers by checking out their website.  You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.  You can also learn more about these programs by clicking on the banner below to read the reviews of my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew. 
Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Don't Break the Bank Decorating

Decorating the house can be really expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  There are certain items that are always going to be expensive like the couch and they are the items that I definitely recommend making sure you buy quality items, but these items will last you many years.  Today I want to talk about all the other decorating and how you can do this without breaking the bank.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I love to decorate my house, but I also love to do this cheaply.  When I don't spend a ton of money on decorations, I don't feel bad if I want to change them out or if they are just temporary pieces.  There are several ways that I save money on decorations for our house and I want to share them with you.
  1. Watch for Sales - If you are looking for a specific item or love the items at a particular store, keep an eye out for their sales.  Just by watching their sales, you can pick up the item(s) you have had your eye on for a great bargain.
  2. Use a Coupon or Reward - Many stores offer coupons - printed or digital and/or reward programs that you can use to get special discounts.  I know our local craft stores carry decorations and they offer coupons.  If there is an item I have had my eye on and I can't wait for a sale, I will use a coupon or rewards points to get discounts.
  3. Stack Coupons/Rewards with Sales - This is my favorite way to get decorations for our home.  I will wait for a sale and a coupon that I can use to get extra money off the sale price.  Also I will use my reward points to get extra money off.  Not all stores allow you to stack coupons, sales, and rewards, but don't hesitate to ask about doing so because it can save a lot of money.  
  4. Shop the Clearance Aisle - Many times I find great decorating items in the clearance aisle of my favorite stores.  You never know what will be there, but it is always worth a look. 
  5. Buy Holiday Decorations AFTER the Holiday - I very, very rarely buy a holiday decoration during the season of the holiday.  I usually wait until after the holiday to buy my decorations because then I can pick them up for 70-90% off when the stores are looking to clean off their shelves.  I then store them in a decorations tote for the holiday to come around again.
  6. Ask for a Discount - Many times I have found items on the clearance aisle or rack that have minor damage - part of something has come unglued, missing a piece, or it has a scratch.  If it is a decoration that I think I can fix I will point out how the item is broken and ask the cashier if this is the best price they can give since it is broken.  Some stores will give you an extra discount.  One store told me they could give an extra 10% off the item if I thought I might return it or an extra 20% if I wasn't going to return it.  The item happened to be a clock that was missing the back for the battery pack, but I wanted it as a decoration and it didn't matter to me if it ran or not so I opted for the 20% discount.  
  7. Dollar Stores and the Dollar Spot - I check the dollar store and Target's Dollar spot when I am near them just to see what they have.  I have found cute jars for decorations and other things in these places.  Sometimes they don't have anything I like and other times I hit the jackpot.
  8. Garage Sales - These are also hit or miss, but I have been able to pick up some really cute things pretty cheap at garage sales.  I think we all like to switch out our decorations at some point so garage sales are great places to look for items.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I love this sign for the words on it.  I got it on clearance and then reduced further because the "Worship God" line needed to be glued back on one side.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I picked up this clock on clearance and asked for an extra discount because it didn't have a back for the battery pack. It didn't matter to me if the clock worked on not because I just wanted it for decoration, but the store did reduce the price because it was missing the back for the battery pack. It works and I just put tape on the back of the battery pack to keep them in.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thrifty Thursday, Saving Money
I picked up this jar on a clearance aisle at the end of the season for this product line and then I purchased clearanced out flowers to put in it for a decoration.  Later it might end up in my kitchen as a utensil holder, but because I picked it up cheap I don't mind changing my mind about what I want to use it for.
These are the main methods I use for buying decorations without breaking the bank.  I love to find a great deal and decorating at the same time.  How do you save money on decorating?

I linked up here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Review of Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc.

Little Miss has been really interested in learning about art lately.  We have tried several different programs, but many of them just assume that she knows the basics already and start by drawing complicated things that frustrate her.  This is why I was interested in receiving Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary which is part of the ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. to review.
 ARTistic Pursuits, A Glimpse of Normal
ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. has created a homeschool art program that teaches children to create art while developing their observation skills.  Their program helps students use their critical thinking skills while they learn about creativity, art history, art appreciation, and various techniques to create real art using real materials and tools.  The lessons allow the student to make choices about what and how they will draw so that their work is truly their own and they are creating one-of-a kind creations.  This company offers programs for students in grades K-12.
We received Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary to review which is part of the ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray line of books.  There are currently 6 books in this entire set which covers multiple subjects for young students.  They are in the process of getting 2 more books ready for this set.  The Art for Children book that we received features 18 lessons, a materials list, a "Teaching Simply" page, a list of objectives for each lesson, a shapes template, and both a DVD and  Blu-ray version of the 6 video lessons.  The book is designed so that it is easy to teach your student art even if you are not an artist yourself.  Each lesson tells you what materials your student will need for the project.  It also has prep notes for the teacher which give you an idea of what will happen in the next lesson so that you can be prepared for any discussions that will take place.  The prep notes also give ideas of how you can use the lessons in larger settings with multiple children.  Some of the lessons have a video to watch that explain the technique and supplies being used along with showing the appropriate drawing methods.  The lessons consist of reading about a topic with your child and then discussing the questions presented in the reading.  Each lesson also has a specific famous portrait for your child to study along with questions to answer about the painting.  These exercises are designed to build your child's awareness of art while using their critical thinking to determine what is happening in the painting.  Then students get a chance to compose their own work of art based on a recent experience. They are encouraged to put in specific details based on the lesson and painting they read.  Each lesson takes only 10-15 minutes to teach and then whatever amount of time it takes your student to draw their picture.  Of course the video lessons vary on their amount of time, but they are fun to watch along with your child.  The specific goal of this book is to have your child start understanding art vocabulary not just the written vocabulary, but being able to discuss what they see visually.  This is why the learn about the art concepts of composing, imagining, colors, observing, shapes, folds, forms, texture, oil pastels, landscapes, still life, animals, figures, watercolor crayons, portraits, cutting, communication, and drawing shapes.  This book is designed specifically for use with students in grades K-3, but can be used for older students too.  It is available for $39.99.
This was a lesson on blending colors.  Little Miss had fun on it.
Little Miss was a little upset with me when we first got this book in to review because she is not in grades K-3.  Then I explained that even though this book is designed for younger students, she could use it too because it will teach her the basic terms, techniques, and things to look for so that she can build her art skills.  We started with lesson one which was a video lesson so that Little Miss could see that these lessons are not just for younger grades.  The video was very well done.  It was easy to follow, fun to watch, and the host, Ariel, did a great job of showing what students were supposed to do.  Little Miss saw that anyone can learn from these lessons and it made her want to work through more of the book.  Since she is older I encouraged her to take her time on her drawings and focus on the little, fine details of each picture.  The next time she worked on the lessons I had her read lesson 2 aloud to me.  It discussed how artists compose and she could really relate to this topic because she does play piano and we have talked about composition before.  She also liked looking for the details in the painting, The Courtyard of a House in Delft by Pieter De Hooch.  She thought it was fun to think about what was happening and why the artist painted it the way he did.  She also liked that when it was her turn to compose, the book told her to paint a picture of something she had seen lately.  She chose to make a drawing like the sample one in lesson 2 because she wanted to practice drawing lines and adding depth with lines.  For the other lessons that she has completed, she has skipped around in the book and worked on the ones that caught her attention that day.  The lessons do not seem like they have to be done in order for older students.  Maybe this worked okay for Little Miss because she has worked on some other art before this book.  She has finished 5 of the lessons and is currently working on a 6th lesson.   She has seen how learning the basics presented in this book is helping her build her overall art skills.
She did the lesson on still life and drew her "friends." 
She has been working on her self portrait.  She has been working on getting the eyes right and she is really improving on them.
I like this program for Little Miss.  Even though it is geared towards younger children, it has taught her to be aware of art around her.  She will look for the things she has learned about in the lesson when she is drawing or looking through pictures.  She looks for focal lines, use of color, and she looks for shapes in drawings and pictures that she can use as a base to add detail to.   This book has definitely helped her build her skills.  I appreciate that I have found a resource that teaches Little Miss art because I am not an artist and I have no clue what to look for when I am looking at art.  I am thankful that this book and video series does that for me.  I will have Little Miss continue working on the lessons in this book because I am seeing her use the concepts that she is learning in her every day drawing and art work (she loves to anything to do with creating art so she is always creating something).  You can learn more about the book we received and the others in this series by clicking here.  You can learn about more about all the products that ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. has to offer by checking out their website, Facebook, and Twitter pages.  You can also learn more about the books in the series we received by clicking on the banner below to read the reviews of my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew because we were able to review several books from this ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series.
Artistic Pursuits Full Video Lesson Grades K-3 {ARTistic Pursuits Reviews}

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Review of Classical Composition I: Fable Set from Memoria Press

There are so many different ways out there to teach your students writing that it can be hard to figure out what product to use.  I want Little Miss to be a good writer, but I need to find a product that moves at her pace, builds a solid foundation, and will set her up for future writing courses.  This is why I was interested to see what the Classical Composition I: Fable Set from Memoria Press was all about when we got the chance to review it recently.
Classical Composition I: Fable Set, A Glimpse of Normal
Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that was started back in 1994.  They produce simple classical Christian education materials for home schools and private schools.  Since 1994 this company has grown a lot and they offer various subjects of study for preschool through twelfth grade.  They even offer an online academy for grades 3-12.  They are definitely a resource that I check when I am searching for curriculum in our school because they offer curriculum for so many classes
The Classical Composition I: Fable Set is designed to be used by students in grades 4-12.  It includes a set of 4 instructional DVDs, a Student Book, and a Teacher's Guide.  The student workbook is consumable so if you are working through this with more than one student you will need a workbook for each student.  The student workbook has 20 lessons that are divided into parts so that this course can be completed in a full school year.  Each lesson begins with reading one of Aesop's Fables which is followed by learning vocabulary from the fable.  Then students study the concepts of recognition, reversal, and suffering in each story by listing examples of each concept.  Next students look at a different variation of the story by taking a sentence from the story and coming up with synonyms for the bold words in the sentence and rewriting the sentence using the synonyms.  Then students create an outline of the story and practice re-telling the story in their own words using their outlines.  Next students paraphrase the story using specific literary concepts that are taught and defined.  Then students use "Reduction" to rewrite the story (telling the story from the end to beginning).  The students then practice more variations and finally write a final draft where they pick one of their paraphrased writing to edit and polish to turn in.  Each of the lessons that we worked on took us about 1.5 weeks to complete working on a little bit each day.  The method this composition set uses teaches students to analyze a story and then interpret it in order to retell it to others while using both their imagination and the reader's imagination.  They learn all about narrative writing and what it means to use recognition to describe the fables.  It all sounds really complicated, but don't worry because Memoria Press has you covered on this composition set.  Not only is the teacher's guide extremely detailed so that you can easily open it and teach the lesson to your students, but the instructional DVDs entirely cover each lesson so that you can turn it on to the right lesson and let it teach. 
The instructional DVD.
The teacher's guide.
When we first received this set, we started by putting in the instructional DVD and watching the introduction.  This introduction was a great way to find out the what and why of this program.  It explained in detail the process this curriculum uses and the methods behind it.  This helped Little Miss understand more of what was required of her with this one and it helped me know what I should expect from her for her work. Next up we started watching lesson one.  Brett Vaden, the speaker on the DVDs, is very clear, concise, and easy to understand.  He does speak slowly on the DVD, but it is intentional so that he can be understood by all.  The videos do move at just the right pace and are easy to pause in the right places so your student can work.  Little Miss was eager to get started and after we read the story again (he also read it on the DVD), I went over the vocabulary words with her.  I had her write the definition right near the word she was defining in the fable so that she could be reminded what the word meant each time she referenced the fable.  Then we worked through recognition, reversal, and suffering and finding examples of these in the story.  At first, parts of these concepts were tricky for Little Miss to figure them out, but the more we discussed them, watched what the DVD said about them, and worked on them in the lessons, the better she understood them.  Then came her favorite part, the variations.  This is where she got to think of synonyms for words and rewrite the sentences using these synonyms.  This taught her to look for different ways to say things when writing and to look for more powerful words that convey thoughts better.  She liked being able to work on variations twice in each lesson.  I think she could have spent an entire day working on variations.  Up next Little Miss learned about creating an outline of the story.  We haven't worked much on outlines with her yet so this was a fairly new concept to her.  She did well picking out the major points of the story to be the main points of the outline and then the minor points to be supporting points to the outline.  Then came learning literary terms and putting them into use.  These literary terms were new concepts and they took a little bit of practice to get right, but that is okay because it kept her building her skills.  Next she worked on reduction which is telling the story from the end to the beginning.  Little Miss liked doing this and she was very good at writing out the story in reverse order.  Last was a final draft where she could pick which paraphrase of the fable that she wanted to polish up and submit to me for grading.  It was easy to grade because this curriculum gives you a rubric to follow for grading.   Little Miss continued working through the lessons like this.  So far she has completed a few lessons and is working on lesson 5.  She likes being able to be creative with parts of the curriculum and she is having fun reading and learning Aesop's Fables.
Variations were Little Miss' favorite part of the assignments.
I do like the Classical Composition I: Fable Set for Little Miss.  It is a good, solid writing curriculum.  It is teaching her a foundation for writing that she can build on for years to come.  There were parts that were hard for Little Miss, but the more she worked on them, the better she understood them.  While this curriculum says it is for grades 4-12, I think it would have been a little too hard for Little Miss last fall when she started 4th grade, but I think it will be better suited for her this fall when she is in 5th grade.  I think this because it is more in depth than other programs we have used and it requires deeper level thinking with all the literary terms, outlines, and in-depth concepts.  I do like this curriculum and think it is very good, but recommend it for higher grades.
You can learn more about Classical Composition I: Fable Set we received here.  You can learn about all the products Memoria Press has to offer on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.  Click the banner below to read the review of my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew because Memoria Press was generous enough to allow us to review several different products.  I know I will be checking out the reviews to learn more about the other products The Crew received.
New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}

Founder's Day Sale at MyFreezEasy

One way I make cooking easier for myself is to take the time to make freezer meals.  It means setting a day aside to spend one day prepping a bunch of meals to go into the freezer that I can pull out later and cook according to the instructions.  I don't do this all on my own, I use and follow their meal plans.  They have a lot of them to choose from.  I pick the ones I think my family will love and then print off the grocery list and directions.  I gather all my ingredients for the meals I have chosen and then I prep them according to the directions.  It is truly easy to use and follow.  I might spend a day prepping, but when we are busy and on the go it is great to have meals already ready in my freezer.  I have not found a meal on there that my family hasn't liked.  This summer I plan to stock up my freezer again with meals from MyFreezEasy because I know how convenient they are to have on hand.  Today and tomorrow (6/6/18 and 6/7/18) MyFreezEasy is having a Founder's Day Sale.  This means that you can save money on their memberships.  They are offering the following deals - $10 per month, $30 per quarter, or $95 annually for their memberships.  There are so many amazing recipes every month and so many different ways to cook them that the options are endless.  Take a look at the sale and see for yourself.  In the meantime, I will be picking out what recipes to prep for my freezer next.

P.S. - This post does contain my affiliate link for MyFreezEasy.  This means if you choose to purchase a membership, I will receive a small commission that is paid by MyFreezEasy, not you. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Build 'Em Up

I often find myself saying, "Can't we all just get along?" lately.  Sometimes it is to my kids, sometimes it is to teens in the youth group, and sometimes it is to other adults.  It seems like there is just so much bickering and arguing happening between people lately.  I even see it on social media and it just bugs me. 
A Glimpse of Normal, Build Em Up, Encouragement, God, Christian,
I'll be the first to admit that when I am tired or stressed out I can be snarky and hurtful if I am not careful with my words.  I don't like that part of me and it is something I am constantly working on because it is not who I want to be.  It is certainly not who Christ calls me to be.  Christ calls us to be like Him and He certainly wouldn't tear others down or intentionally hurt others with His words.  He told the truth out of love, built others up with His words, and showed compassion.

So how do you do this in today's world where people are encouraged and applauded for speaking their minds, even when it is rude and hurtful?  You choose to be different.  You choose to speak truth, not just bold, hurtful truth, but truth with love and kindness.  You choose to build others up.  You look for the good in people at all times.  You be kind.  You be polite.  You encourage.  You love others even when they aren't be very lovable.  This isn't easy, but it is worth it.  There will be times you will have to bite your tongue or think hard about what you will say before you say it.  After a while, it will just come naturally, even on your bad days. You can even find something good about people who drive you crazy or people that have hurt you.  Doing this will help you accept those people and build them up even if they have hurt you and you don't want to be around them.  Also make sure you aren't tearing other people down behind their back.  If you wouldn't say whatever you are saying to someone's face, don't say it behind their back.  The world tears us down enough on it's own.  All you have to do is take a look around you and you will find a billion ways the world says we aren't good enough or won't measure up.  Is that really who we are?  Absolutely not!!!  God tells us we are created in His image and that is way better than anything the world says about us. 

So take every opportunity you can to build others up instead of tear them down.  It's the little things you notice about people that can build them up - a nice smile, a contagious laugh, a talent someone is good at, pretty eyes, noticing when they are doing a good job, and on and on.  Step out, be bold, and build 'em up. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

A Review of Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co.™

We love puzzles and mysteries in our house.  They make us really think and come up with multiple solutions which helps our critical thinking skills.  Anything I can do that builds these skills now with my kids will help them later on in life.  This is why I was intrigued to receive Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co.™ to review.  Little Miss has been using this book to improve her critical thinking and detective skills.
A Glimpse of Normal, Thinking skills, Math, Vocabulary, Critical Thinking, Language Arts
The Critical Thinking Co.™
Critical thinking is the process of identifying and evaluating evidence to guide decision making.  It teaches you to study the evidence at a deeper level so that you can make informed decisions about what to do with that evidence.  This type of deeper level of thinking and analyzing evidence is exactly what The Critical Thinking Co.™ has been striving to teach students since 1958.  This company offers over 200 books, ebooks, and Apps that help children learn to think at deeper levels.  Their products help teach your child to identify and evaluate material using in-depth analysis.  They offer products for students from toddler age through 12th grade.
Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 is a 32 page book for grades 4 and up.  It is a collection of fun and easy detective cases for your student to solve.  These cases require students to read carefully while analyzing the information of the case to figure out who committed a crime.  It is designed to build your student's observation skills, reading comprehension, and deductive and inductive thinking skills.  At first glance the cases in this book seem like they will be easy to solve, but upon further reading you will find that they are more detailed and little words mean a big difference when figuring out the innocent parties versus the guilty party.  This physical book is available for just $8.99.
I taught Little Miss to highlight what she thought were key facts.
Each of the 12 cases start out with a crime being committed.  Then we are given clues that tell more about the crime and the four suspects that may or may not have committed it.  At the end of each case, each of the suspects are allowed to say something (or in the case of animals, their owners say something about them) that may or may not clear them from being the guilty party.  Each sentence in the case and the statements from the suspects are numbered so you can refer to them while sorting the clues.  Each case also includes a page to write up your thoughts about the each suspect and the thief of the case.  Students are instructed to use full sentences when doing this and use the sentence numbers as reference points so when you are checking their answer you can see where they got their fact.  At the very back of the book are the answers to each case.  The answers not only tell you who the thief is but they also tell you why and why each of the other suspects could not be the thief.
Little Miss was pretty curious to find out what this book was all about when it came in the mail.  We read through the instruction page that told how to solve the cases.  This page told her what kinds of things to look for, how to decide if something was a fact or an opinion, how to decipher vague statements, and more.  It even warned her that the mysteries in the book would not be easy, but not to give up. So she started on her first case and I encouraged her to see what she could do all on her own.  She read "The Car Thief" and sat there thinking about it for a minute.  Then she started to look for clues in the reading to see what she could figure out about this case.  She also read the suspects' statements to see what they had to say about stealing the car.  Then she thought about it all for awhile and asked what to do next.  I told her to decide if there was one suspect that she could definitely rule out and then go from there.  This got her going on the case again and she had to re-read it to put all the clues together.  Eventually she figured out what she thought was the solution and why and she wrote out all the facts on the fact page.  Then I checked her answer in the back of the book.  She got this case right.  Little Miss continued to work through the book.  She didn't have to work the cases in order because they don't build on each other.  So she would flip open her book to a case that interested her and work on it.  After each case she would have me check the answers to see if she was right or wrong.  If she got the case wrong, I would just tell her that she was wrong and she should look more closely at the facts.  Then she would usually figure out what clue she had gotten wrong and figure out the right answer.  If she got stuck on a case, I would sit down with her and we would use highlighters to highlight key facts.  After I showed her this method, she seemed to be faster at solving them.  Little Miss was able to and happy to complete the whole book in the review period because she didn't want to quit working on the cases.  She has already asked if she can work on more books like this.
This is what the "fact page" looked like before Little Miss filled it out.  I didn't want to show it with her answers so I didn't give anything away.
I love that the Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 has improved Little Miss' critical thinking skills.  It has forced her to slow down and read carefully and even read the cases multiple times for the little details.  Some of the cases were tricky if you didn't read very carefully.  There was one that was about dogs and she missed the clue that said the dog was a girl because the first time she read it, she read quickly.  The clue said something about the dog's owner takes her out of town to where he works.  That is tricky, but it taught her to read more carefully and I was happy for that.  I like that this book worked her logic and reasoning skills.  She had to not only read the clues, but also figure out which suspect they pertain to and if it made them look innocent or guilty.  There were cases that at first reading, all four suspects looked guilty.  It wasn't until Little Miss sorted out the clues that she could figure out who was innocent.  Little Miss loved having the cases to solve.  She stuck with them and had fun trying to figure them out.  I think 4th grade and up is a very accurate age range for this book because it does require deeper concentration and careful reading.
We definitely recommend Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 if you want to work on critical thinking skills.  We will be checking out the other resources that The Critical Thinking Co.™ has to offer so that I can find the next book for Little Miss to work on.  The Critical Thinking Co.™ has been very generous to offer my readers a coupon code to get 15% off and free shipping so see the picture above for details.  You can learn more about all the different books and products The Critical Thinking Co.™ has to offer on their website, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.  You can learn about the Critical Thinking Detective Book 1 we received by clicking here.  Please check out the reviews of all the books the Homeschool Review Crew got a chance to review by clicking the banner below because we all got to review different books.  I know I will check out their reviews to see what book we should order while we have such a great offer from The Critical Thinking Co.™ .
Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}