Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hey St. Jude

Sharing from Marlo Thomas:



Read the inspiring story at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/hey-st-jude-legendary-song-for-new-generation_b_1890419.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&ir=Fifty&src=sp&comm_ref=false.

"Wildflower Mini" by Dandelion Dust Designs and FREEBIE!

I am so ready for fall and just loving all of the fall kits coming out, but perhaps you have a few pictures left from summer to scrap, or are just craving those brighter summer kits?  Dandelion Dust Designs released a delightful mini-kit this week, "Wildflower Mini."


Pick the mini up exclusively at ScrapTakeout:


Download the free QP from Mediafire.  Click image below.  PU only.


Happy Scrapping!  

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "Wildflower Mini" kit in exchange for a layout.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Moon river, wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end, 
waitin' 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me

(moon river, wider than a mile)
(I'm crossin' you in style some day)
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way

Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after that same rainbow's end, waitin' 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me




Andy Williams
By:  Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer

Schoolhouse Review: Homeschool Legacy

We were excited to start out the new school year with this great "once-a-week" unit study from Homeschool Legacy, Forest for the Trees.  It is a 4-week comprehensive unit study for grades 2-12 that covers tree identification, tree anatomy, what trees provide, forests, and forestry.  This was great for several reasons.  First, we live near a national forest, the Croatan, so we have resources for such a study easily available to us.  Second, one of my sons is considering being a forest ranger "when he grows up," so this unit provides spectacular practical education in that area.  And finally, and this is just so exciting you are going to jump up and down with me, the unit study includes the completion of his Boy Scout Forestry Merit Badge!!  Why hasn't someone come up with this idea before?  Several of Homeschool Legacy's unit studies include the requirements for badges from the Boy Scouts of America or from American Heritage Girls (which my girls are hoping to do at some point if we move to an area near an AHG chapter).  Homeschool credit and a Scouting badge with one unit study?  Yes, please!




As you would expect with a good unit study, this study covers:
Science - simple botany experiments and identification of plant life, keeping Nature Journals.
Social Studies - discussion of famous "tree people," history, and we worked in some geography while talking about national parks and forests.
Language Arts - includes reading lists for older and younger students, both for family read-aloud-time and for individual reading time, and there are writing assignments.

I love that the study also includes:
Art - My kids loved the fact that one of the books on the reading list was about how to draw trees.  I'm not sure that all the trees in their Nature Journals are actually indigenous to this area, but they sure enjoyed drawing them!
Family Devotionals designed to emphasize the awesomeness of God's creation - You cannot beat those units that allow you to tie your family devotionals with Dad in the evening into what you've been studying in school.
Recipes
Outdoor Physical Activities

I am ashamed to admit that one of my favorite characteristics of this study is that it required no advance preparation on my part.  Sharon Gibson had done all the work for me.  I will admit this here, though, because I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not the only homeschooling parent who runs short on prep time for multiple students and uses unit studies for just that reason!  This unit was easy to use with multiple age groups combined.

We started by taking the included reading lists to the library on our library day.  We have a rather small library, and I could only find 2 or 3 of the exact titles there.  The author had already suggested, however, that similar books (with close Dewey Decimal System addresses) could be used.  We substituted these books, thereby checking out a goodly portion of our library's books on trees, and my youngest was quite happy to have his own list of picture books for which to hunt.

We began with the novel My Side of the Mountain, as the author suggests, as a family read-aloud.  My oldest had read this several years ago, and in fact it is one of his favorite books.  The others had not read it.  I also found an old movie made for My Side of the Mountain, with which I plan to surprise my children next week (if they don't read my blog and find out first)!  This first novel, being the longest, is used for the first two weeks of the study, and there are shorter family read-alouds for the remaining two weeks.

Warning:  If you use this unit study, and specifically the novel My Side of the Mountain, your children will be desperate to adopt a peregrine falcon as a pet.  Go ahead and plan a trip to a zoo or aviary where they can see one!  (We had to go to a zoo and see one after my son read the book the first time.)


After reading through this much of the post, you may still be asking yourself, what exactly is a "once-a-week" unit study?  Well, the idea is that you do your reading throughout the week, and you just work on the hands-on stuff, field trips, etc. one day each week.  This particular study was designed for four weeks.  We read a chapter of our read-aloud each day, and the kids did their own reading each day.  Then on one day each week, we put aside some other work (or finished early) to do the family devotional, take the field trip, do the experiments and writing assignments, work on our Nature Journals, etc.  The unit study even included a suggested schedule for what to do each day during the month, which was helpful when we were getting started; but of course, in true homeschool fashion, we quickly adapted it to meet our needs.  This type of study is terrific if you use unit studies as a supplement to your regular curriculum, as it easily schedules around your other classes and gives you a break from the normal routine one day a week.  If you would like to use Homeschool Legacy's unit studies as an entire curriculum for history or science, the author suggests combining any four of the units for a full course of one of those subjects.  Overall, the curriculum is completely adaptable to your needs.  I wish I could list all the activities in the unit for you here, as they were so much fun and fit together so well, but I guess you are going to have to check it out for yourself to find out that much detail!

My girls wanted me to show you their lovely tree drawings!















Nature Journal


If I have piqued your interest enough, here is what you need to know to obtain your own copy:

The Product:  Forest For the Trees Once-A-Week Unit Study (comes in physical print form)
Vendor:  Homeschool Legacy, http://www.homeschoollegacy.com
Ages:  Grades 2-12
Price:  $15.95

Homeschool Legacy produces a number of other "Once-A-Week" Unit Studies.  Click the banner below to take a blog hop around and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of some of them.

Photobucket

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the Forest For the Trees Unit Study for the purpose of a fair review. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: A Cry From Egypt

Photobucket

Great Waters Press, which published the practical guide to Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young, has two new books coming out.  Schoolhouse Crew Members were given an opportunity to review a copy of Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship, or A Cry From Egypt.  I reviewed A Cry From Egypt.

PhotobucketA Cry From Egypt was written by Hope Auer and illustrated by Mike Slaton, both recent homeschool graduates themselves.  Hope Auer has been writing stories and plays since she was very young.  She began writing A Cry From Egypt, the first book in The Promised Land Series, as a school assignment when she was only thirteen and her family was studying ancient Egypt!  This historical fiction book deals with the period before the Exodus, when the Israelites were still in slavery.






Photobucket

How would you feel if you had been a Hebrew slave living in ancient Egypt?  What would your life have been like?  Furthermore, what would it have been like to be a Hebrew child in slavery in ancient Egypt?  I think that pondering this question really brings the truth of what happened home to children.  After all, of the adult Hebrews who left Egypt, only two entered the Promised Land.  The children who walked out of Egyptian slavery were the ones who later established the nation of Israel.

My children and I really loved this book.  We used it as a read-aloud leading up to our study of ancient Egypt.  I have always loved historical fiction, and I use it quite a bit in my homeschool.  It gives us a chance to put ourselves in the shoes of someone living in that time period and that situation.  I think it gives us a greater understanding of what we are studying.  I especially like historical fiction that is accurate in all the facts that we do know.  Many times, writers take a lot of literary license with history, changing the facts for the sake of the story, and for me, that kind of ruins the experience.  I'm not really identifying with the characters in history if the history is fictitious.  Hope Auer did her best to stick to the facts she had learned from the Bible and from history, and I was impressed by the extent of her research.  She did an excellent job of staying authentic.  My kids and I discussed how much of the book was factual, how much was likely, and which things were actually not likely to have happened.

For instance, my oldest pointed out that the Hebrew children probably would not have been calling their God "Yahweh" in general conversation, since the Jewish people traditionally have refrained from saying that name because of the admonition in the Ten Commandments not to use the Lord's name in vain.  In fact, our modern Jewish friends write "G-d" rather than writing out "God" and taking the risk of breaking that commandment.  I then pointed out that before the Exodus from Egypt, the Ten Commandments had not yet been given, so the tradition of not saying the Name could have actually come much later.  I'm not even sure that those children would have known the name "Yahweh," as that proper name seems to have first been given to Moses, and the people would not have known it until he taught them.  The Scriptures generally said, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" before that time.  The Scriptures, however, do not say definitively that the name "Yahweh" was not used prior to the burning bush, and so the story may be entirely accurate.  We really cannot know that answers to these questions, and my point is not to take issue with the book at all.  My purpose was to get my kids delving into their history and discussing such questions, and it worked!

I think this was a good learning experience.  We look forward to reading the rest of the series when it is published!

In addition to accurate historical content, I enjoyed knowing that Hope had begun this book when she was a child herself.  Reading a book about what children would have experienced from a child's point of view is enlightening.  I hope that even more than learning about history, that it has made my children think about their own faith, about the identity of the God we worship, and about their place in His plan.

If you would like to read this delightful book for yourself or with your children, advance-reader copies are available for $12.50 each, and currently with free shipping, at http://acryfromegypt.com/store/.  The book is recommended for ages 8 and up.

PhotobucketA Cry From Egypt is being published by Hal and Melanie Young of www.RaisingRealMen.com.

http://www.facebook.com/raisingrealmen
http://www.facebook.com/childreninchurch
http://acryfromegypt.com/store/



Photobucket

To see what the rest of the Crew thought of A Cry From Egypt, as well as the book Children in Church, from Great Waters Press, click the banner below.
Photobucket

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of A Cry From Egypt in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Slice of Autumn" by Dandelion Dust Designs

YES!  I am ready for Autumn and Autumn Kits!!!  I love "Slice of Autumn" by Dandelion Dust Designs!



You can pick up the kit exclusively at ScrapTakeout.


Then click below to download your free quickpages from Mediafire.  P/U only.




Happy Fall, Y'all!

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the "Slice of Autumn" kit in exchange for layouts.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: America in the 1880s

I must admit that as I finished up with our study of The War Between The States (sorry, I'm a southern girl!), I was about to shamelessly plug on toward the turn of the century, glossing right over the decade of the 1880s.  After all, what thing of any importance happened in the 1880s?  I mean, you know, besides the completion of the Washington Monument, the gift of the Statue of Liberty from France to the United States, the invention/development of the telephone, and a few dozen other things I seem to have forgotten learning about in my own history classes?

Luckily for me, Marshall Publishing's DVD America in the 1880s:  A Decade of Progress came at just the right time.  I started out thinking I would just show my kids the DVD one afternoon as a quick survey of the decade.  As we watched, however, I realized how much our other curriculum was missing that I needed to cover.  I ended up using it as the structure for a unit, showing the DVD in clips; we would watch a segment and then learn about that part, and then watch another segment.  We used the free study guide from the website, then branched out from there.  I used the study with all of my children together, from 2nd through 9th grade.

This DVD brought a tremendous visual aid into our studies.  It uses a combination of live re-enactments, actual historical photographs, documents, and photos of buildings and other objects that have survived since that time period to teach about the decade.  The kids enjoyed trying to figure out which pictures and videos were original and which were newer (the little ones did not realize that the modern video re-enactments could not have actually been filmed in the 1880s, so that in itself was something they learned).  In addition, we are blessed to have pictures of my husband's family that date to that time period, which I showed to the children.


America in the 1880s provided a comprehensive look at well-known facts as well as little-known trivia from that decade.  It included famous people, architecture, inventions, tools, sports, clothes and style, politics, railroads, Indians, outlaws, unions, music, authors - just about anything you could hope for in a unit study about a decade.  My daughter was fascinated by the fashion, while my oldest son was interested in the baseball trivia he could later discuss with his dad.  He's glad we no longer think that "real men" don't use catcher's mitts in baseball!

We also enjoyed the bonus feature: an old film from the archives about the life of Alexander Graham Bell.  In addition to talking about his inventing the telephone, the film documented his work with the deaf, which was extraordinary for his time.


Marshall Publishing's America in the 1880s DVD could be used as a stand-alone survey documentary, but I would encourage you to use it as a catalyst to a larger study covering those years.  The mixed media used in the program really helps to bring history to life.

Here's what you need to know in a nutshell:

The Product:  American in the 1880s:  A Decade of Progress DVD
Vendor:  Marshall Publishing
Website:  http://www.marshallpublishinginc.com
Ages:  All ages
Price:  $24.95 currently on sale for $19.95!
         In addition, just to thank you for reading the blog review, Marshall Publishing is currently offering free first class shipping on the DVD (a $7.95 value). Just use coupon code TOS27 at checkout!!

Marshall Publishing produces a number of educational helps to be used alone or in conjunction with other curriculums.  Last year, I enjoyed the opportunity to review the book and CD for Lots and Lots of Firetrucks, which I also used as part of a unit for my first-grader.  TOS Crewbies have reviewed several of Marshall Publishing's DVDs over the past few weeks.  To see what they reviewed and what they had to say, click the banner below.

Photobucket
Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the America in the 1880s DVD for the purpose of a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Another Light Bulb Joke

Here's some humor to "lighten" things up for you:

Q: How does a home schooler change a light bulb?

A: First, mom checks out three books at the library on electricity, then the
kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a
skit based on his life. Next, everyone studies the history of lighting
methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles. Next, everyone takes a
trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices
and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99
and pay with a five-dollar bill. On the way home, a discussion develops over
the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the
five-dollar bill. Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches
dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed. And there is light.

(author unknown)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Homeschooling and the Performing Arts

Today I am a guest blogger at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!  Head over there to see my article on Homeschooling and the Performing Arts!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Little Chapel That Stood

"We raised up the flag from the dust and the pain.
Freedom that's lost must be won again."



The two good giants fell on that grave day in September, eleven years ago.  People died.  Rescuers saved lives, and some of the rescuers gave their lives.  My son's friend lost his dad at the age of three.  We do not know why God allows evil people to commit such atrocities in this life, but we know that, just as He controlled Leviathan and Behemoth in the ancient story of Job (Job 40-41), He has put a limit on evil's power in this world.  The border that the devastation could not cross on the 11th of September, 2001, was the unassuming little Chapel of St. Paul, located behind the Twin Towers in New York City.  The blast left rubble in a huge wake and tore the tree adjacent to the Chapel out of the ground by its roots (as is memorialized in the sculpture below), but the building itself was not affected.  


Throughout the day, rescue workers hung their gear on the fence around the little Chapel.  Some never returned to pick it up.  It was a little bit of solace on that day, a reminder that God is still in control.

I never heard anything about the Chapel of St. Paul in the media, and I did not know anything about this story until I saw the chapel when I went to New York several years after the tragedy.  I was awestruck by the simple story and the simple building.  I told my children the story every year.

Last year I found a beautiful picture book that illustrated my sentiments.  The Little Chapel That Stood, by A.B. Curtiss, is a lovely testament to the chapel, to those who lost their lives that day, to the strength of the survivors, and to faith.  It can be ordered from http://www.amazon.com/The-Little-Chapel-that-Stood/dp/0932529771, or you may see it online (free) at http://www.abcurtiss.com/graphics/books2/l_chapel/little_chapel1.htm.

If you are like me and have children, pre-teens, or young teens who do not remember the day that changed their history, and you have been looking for a book to help them understand, please take a look at this poem/story of tragedy and hope.

Remember.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Scripture Memory Verse List

Do you ever wonder which Bible verses to assign to your children for memory work?  Not that any of them would ever be the wrong ones - after all, the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God!  But you know, Judges 21 - the story of finding wives for the almost-decimated Benjamites - might just not be what your kindergartner needs to memorize this month.

My kids have had a number of lists of verses over the years from Awana, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, camp, and their homeschool curriculum.  I decided for this year that I'd like to have one compiled list on which I would challenge them all to work.  I am including my list below, in case anyone else is looking for something similar.

I broke my list of verses down into three levels.  The first one is mainly single verses for my youngest to memorize.  Each level is roughly in Biblical order, except that the first one starts with John 3:16, since that is the first verse each of my kids memorized.  The second level has passages with several verses each for my older kids to memorize, and the third one has some multiple-verse or whole-chapter challenges.  I have realized that some of the passages on my second level are as long as those on my third level; that is probably because at least one of the kids memorized it earlier on and I already had it written down.  I may need to re-sort for the younger kids.  Some of the passages in Levels 2 and 3 include verses that were previously memorized, but are now being memorized as part of a larger passage.  The kids may learn these in any order they wish.  We keep verse journals in which they can write down the passages they are currently memorizing.  Each passage on this list has a clue in the parentheses beside it - possibly the topic of the verses (i.e. Fruits of the Spirit), the first few words, or a phrase from a song which helped them to memorize the verse.

The third level list is fairly short and will probably start growing as the kids complete the items on the other levels.

We also have a "One-Minute Club," in which I challenge the kids to do flashcards or some other activity in various subjects in under 60 seconds for a prize.  I often include the Bible verses in the One-Minute Club challenges.  The shorter ones are, of course, easy to recite in under one minute, but the incentive keeps the younger kids working.  The most common prize for a short verse is 10 extra minutes on the Wii.  They each start with 30 minutes on the Wii each Saturday, so if my 2nd-grader memorizes 3 verses in a week and recites them each in under 60 seconds, he can double his Wii time and get to play for an hour on Saturday.  If he's memorizing 3 verses a week, that's fine with me!  The older kids can already say some of the longer passages and the books of either the Old Testament or New Testament in under 60 seconds.  I am impressed by anyone who can say all of the books of the Old Testament correctly in under 60 seconds!!

So here it is, no frills, just the list of verses we are working to memorize this year:


Scripture Memory List

Level 1

John 3:16 (love)
Genesis 1:1  (beginning)
Deuteronomy 6:5 (greatest commandment)
Deuteronomy 31:6 (Be strong & courageous)
Joshua 1:8 (meditate on Book of Law)
Joshua 24:15  (As for me and my house)
Esther 4:14 (For such a time as this)
Psalm 19:1 (Heavens declare the glory of God)
Psalm 37:4 (Delight yourself in the Lord)
Psalm 46:10 (Be still and know that I am God)
Psalm 63:3 (your love is better than life)
Psalm 96:1 (sing to the Lord a new song)
Psalm 113:3  (From the rising of the sun)
Psalm 118:8 (almost Center Verse of Bible)
Psalm 118:24 (This is the day)
Psalm 119:105 (Thy Word)
Psalm 139:14 (fearfully and wonderfully made)
Proverbs 18:10 (name of the Lord a strong tower)
Proverbs 30:5 (every word of God is true)
Isaiah 9:6 (prophecy of Messiah)
Isaiah 26:3 (perfect peace)
Isaiah 40:31  (Wait upon the Lord)
Isaiah 43:5 (do not be afraid)
Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you)
Daniel 1:17 (our school name)
Zephaniah 3:17 (mighty to save)
Malachi 3:10  (Tithing)
Matthew 5:44-45a (Love Your Enemies)
Matthew 6:24 (God and money)
Matthew 7:12 (The Golden Rule)
Matthew 16:26 (what good will it be to gain world but lose soul)
Matthew 17:20 (faith as small as a mustard seed)
Matthew 21:9 (Palm Sunday)
Matthew 21:21-22 (receive what you ask for in prayer)
Mark 16:16 (believing and baptism)
Luke 10:27  (greatest commandment)
Luke 19:10  (seek and save what was lost)
John 11:35 (shortest verse)
John 14:6  (way, truth & life)
Acts 2:38 (repenting and baptism)
Romans 1:20 (evidence of God in what has been made)
Romans 1:25 (worshipping created things rather than Creator)
Romans 3:23 (all have sinned)
Romans 8:28  (all things work together for the good. . .)
Romans 10:9 (confession)
Romans 10:17 (faith comes by hearing)
Romans 16:19  (wise about good, innocent about evil)
II Corinthians 9:7 (cheerful giver)
Ephesians 6:1 (obey parents)
Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ)
Colossians 3:17 (whatever you do)
I Timothy 4:12 (don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young)
Hebrews 11:1 (faith comes by hearing)
Hebrews 11:6 (faith)
I Peter 1:3 (living hope)
Revelation 2:10b (crown of life)
Revelation 3:20  (I stand at the door and knock)
9 Fruits of the Spirit - list them in any order
10 Commandments - list them in the correct order
Armor of God - list the parts in any order

Level 2

Books of NT - 27
Books of OT – 39
Genesis 12:1-3 (God’s Promises to Abraham)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (verses in mezuzah)
Ruth 1:16-17  (your God will be my God)
I Chronicles 4:9-10 (prayer of Jabez)
Psalm 1 (Blessed is the man)
Psalm 23  (The Lord is my Shepherd)
Psalm 136: 1-3 (thanksgiving)
Proverbs 3:5-6 (Trust in the Lord with all of your heart)
Matthew 5:13-16 (Salt & Light)
Matthew 6:9-13 (The Lord’s Prayer)
Matthew 6:19-21 (treasures in heaven)
Matthew 6:33 (seek ye first)
Matthew 10:32-33 (confession)
Matthew 16:15-16 (Peter’s confession)
Matthew 22:37-40 (Greatest Commandment)
Matthew 28:18-20 (Great Commission)
Luke 24:1-8 (Resurrection)
John 8:31-32  (truth will set you free)
John 15:12-13  (greater love has no one than this)
Acts 8:36-40 (Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch)
Romans 8:14-17 (adoption by God)
Romans 8:38-39 (nothing can separate us)
Romans 12:1-2  (being transformed)
I Corinthians 10:11-13 (no temptation beyond what you can bear)
I Corinthians 11:23-26 (The Lord’s Supper)
I Corinthians 15:1-8 (The Resurrection)
II Corinthians 4:7-12 (treasures in jars of clay)
Galatians 5:22-23 (Fruits of the Spirit)
Ephesians 6:1-3 (obey your parents)
Ephesians 6:10-18 (armor of God)
Philippians 1:3-6 (I thank God for you)
Philippians 2:12-18 (do everything without grumbling)
II Timothy 3:16-17 (all Scripture is God-breathed)
Hebrews 4:12-13 (Word of God alive and active)
Hebrews 4:14-16 (Jesus is the Great High Priest)
James 1:22-25 (looking in a mirror)
James 2:14-19 (faith without works)
I Peter 3:21-22 (baptism)
II Peter 1:5-8 (qualities of a Christian life)
I John 4:7-8  (love)
Jude 1:24-25 (Jude Doxology)
Revelation 3:14-16 (Church in Laodicea lukewarm)
Revelation 21:1-8 (New Heaven and New Earth)

Level 3

Exodus 20:1-17 (The Ten Commandments)
Psalm 100  (praise & thanksgiving)
Isaiah 9:1-7 (prophecy of Messiah)
Daniel 1:8-21 (more about our school name)
Matthew 5:1-12 (The Beatitudes)
Luke 2:1-20 (The Christmas Story)
John 1  (The Word became flesh)
Romans 6:1-6 (baptism)
I Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter)
Colossians 3:1-17 (living for Christ)
Hebrews 11 (The Hall of Fame of Faith)



Happy Memorizing!  :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

September WordArt Challenge at ScrapTakeout

Have you joined the challenges at ScrapTakeout?  You have all month!

Here's my entry for the September WordArt Challenge.  Download Dandelion Dust Designs' free word art and design a page for the contest:


Join the challenge here.  If you love the rest of the page, keep checking Dandelion Dust Designs' new fall kits this month and check back here for a free quick page after the kit is released!  

Happy Scrapping!  :-)

"Tropical Paradise" by Dandelion Dust Designs and a Freebie

The fall kits are beginning to come out (Yay!), but you may have a few last summer pictures to scrap.  Seriously, I don't think I know anyone who has all their vacation photos scrapped.  So here's Tropical Paradise by Dandelion Dust Designs!



You may pick up the kit exclusively at ScrapTakeout:


Don't forget to come back for your free Quickpage!  Click image to download from Mediafire.  PU only.


Happy Scrapping!  :-)

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of "Tropical Paradise" in exchange for layouts.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Math 911

Photobucket

Professor Martin Weissman has been teaching Mathematics for 50 years.  Passionate about the subject, he desires to help students overcome their fear of Mathematics and to master it.  In his years of teaching, he felt that students needed fewer explanatory textbooks and more illustrative examples to help them understand how to do higher math problems.  To that end, he developed the Math911 tutorial software.

Photobucket

The Math911 tutorial software download generates problems for students to solve in Introductory Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, Statistics, Trigonometry, and Pre-Calculus.  No answers are marked "wrong."  The student must get a certain number of problems "correct" to prove mastery and move to the next level.  If the student does not understand how to do the problem, he may click on a button for step-by-step instructions to see the problem being solved.  He may follow these step-by-step instructions for as many problems as necessary to understand the process.  Professor Weissman wanted to give students practice, practice, practice in all types and variations of problems.

Photobucket

I used the Introductory Algebra course over the summer with my son who is starting 9th Grade and Algebra I this fall.  There were a lot of things we liked about the program.  By continually generating problems, the program provides my son with all the practice he needs, giving him immediate feedback and step-by-step instructions when he needs them, enabling him to master the concepts and saving me a lot of time and effort grading problems done on paper.  Some PDF files that function as a textbook and explain the concepts can be downloaded free from the Math911 website for the Introductory Algebra course ONLY.  I feel confident that my son is now ready for Algebra I/Intermediate Algebra this fall.

Update:  This is what I get for trying to post a review early - there is more information to cover!!  I realized in a recent email from Professor Weissman that "Introductory Algebra" is Algebra I, and "Intermediate Algebra" is Algebra II.  I was thinking that "Introductory Algebra" was like Pre-Algebra, and since I've never taught Algebra before, I didn't realize the things we were covering were the things I would find in an Algebra I program.  What this means is that my son is almost through Algebra I now and will soon be ready for Algebra II.  How exciting!!  :-)

We will continue to use this program for advanced drilling, but not for our main curriculum, because the remaining classes do not contain any kind of textbook instruction.  Professor Weissman - who answers emails quickly, is extremely helpful, and seems like he is probably a very good teacher to me - explained to me that he feels that students do not need the textbook instruction nearly as much as they need to see the step-by-step problem solutions, and that he feels this program is adequate as a full course curriculum for high school Math.  I have a feeling (please forgive me if it seems I am speculating too much) that his students probably do fine with this method, since they have him to explain the mathematical concepts to them.  For many of us homeschool moms, however, it can be a bit intimidating to explain higher math concepts on our own (or, you know, just google them!), and we feel more comfortable with a textbook curriculum.

To be honest, for the price he is offering the Math911 curriculum, I can afford both, and I will gladly continue to use the Math911 program along with our other curriculum, probably all the way through high school.  It is a valuable tool, and Professor Weissman is currently offering it for a fabulous value.

The complete Math911 program is available at http://math911.com/ for the discounted price of $49.95.  That includes all the subjects listed above.  As a special back-to-school offer, you may try a free download of the Introductory Algebra course from the website.  Tech support is always free.  The age range is 12 and up, or any student who is ready for Introductory Algebra.  The program is downloadable and works on PC, but not Mac systems.

For a VERY limited time, there is a special back-to-school coupon code on Professor Weissman's website, taking another $40.00 off the price of a flash drive, so you can have this great tutorial software for only $9.95 plus shipping!  (Note that if you choose the download option, there is no shipping, but the coupon code is only for the flash drive.)  The advantages to having the program on a flash drive are that you may then use it on any PC computer in your home, or even at the library or elsewhere.

Click below to see how other Crew Members used this product, and how they liked it for various Math levels:

Photobucket
Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the full Math911 curriculum download in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

Schoolhouse Review: Reading Kingdom


During the summer, we were not getting up early, keeping a normal school schedule, or working on our normal curriculum, so it was a good time for reviewing things like reading and math drills in a fun and relaxed way in order to improve the kids' skills for the fall.  My six-year-old has been using ReadingKingdom.com.  Developed by Dr. Marion Blank, Director of the Light on Learning Program at Columbia University and one of the world's top experts in reading, this online subscription program may be used as a drilling or practice program to supplement whatever curriculum you are using.  It distinguishes itself from other programs by using Dr. Blank's patented six skills method for reading success. These skills include sequencing, motor skills, phonics (phonemic awareness), meaning, grammar and reading comprehension.  It is designed to be a fun, game-like drill program that pre-K through 3rd-graders will enjoy using to learn to read.




The program has bright, fun graphics, and it may work well for you if you have a student who is beginning to read up through a 3rd-grade reading level who types fairly well on a physical keyboard or an on-screen keyboard and who is motivated by computer learning programs.  The on-screen keyboard option in the program is a nice feature for early computer-users or for anyone who would like to use the program on a tablet or iPad.


Unfortunately, the program was not a good fit for my son.  He is already a fair reader, but he has hunt-and-peck typing skills at his ripe old age of 6.  He was not able to type some words and sentences in the time allotted, and so the skills survey threw him back to a much earlier reading level, at which point he was very bored with the lessons.  I must emphasize at this point that Reading Kingdom's customer service had a quick response time and was VERY helpful.  They moved his reading skill level up and explained to me how to go into the settings and increase the response time he was allowed.  They also directed me to more exercises for typing skills.  My son's typing skills are adequate for other reading programs that he's done, and he was quickly bored by the typing exercises.  Moving his skill level up and increasing the allowed response time was helpful, but it was not enough.  The program seemed to have excessively long pauses in some areas, and then speed through others.  Some directions were clearly stated, and others were not.  My son would, for instance, not know to hit the "space" bar in a particular place and would type the first letter of the next word instead.  Once the program had moved on to the next place because his time had elapsed or he had hit the wrong key, there was no way to go back and correct the mistake.  Being a hyper-perfectionist, he became extremely frustrated.  Meanwhile, even at the higher level, he was still frustrated and bored by the excessive repetition he experienced with one word at a time, but then the program would launch through entire sentences, and then go back to repetition of one word.  We worked on the program for several weeks, but I think that because of his energy level, frustration with sitting still, and general impatience with the program, it is not a good choice for him.  This is not a general frustration with any computer program that requires him to sit still, as some do work for him, but the combination of factors with this program is problematic.  

Reading Kingdom may work well if you have a child who enjoys working on the computer and is patient with various speeds in programs, and the customer service for the program really is excellent.

You may try Reading Kingdom free for 30 days to see if it is a good fit for your child.  To learn more about the patented six skills method, click here

To find out more about whether Reading Kingdom will work for you, explore the following information:

Product:  Reading Kingdom online subscription website
Ages: Age 4 through 3rd Grade Reading Level
Price:  When you sign up for the Reading Kingdom, you receive a free 30 day trial. After that, subscriptions to Reading Kingdom are $19.99/month (with no monthly minimum), or $199.99 per year (20% off). Additional children in your account get 50% off ($9.99/month or $99.99/year). You can cancel your subscriptions at any time.  Contact the vendor for information on volume licensing discounts.  If you cannot afford to pay for the program, you may apply for a scholarship that will allow your child to use the program for free.

Sign up for your 30-day trial here.

Read what my fellow Schoolhouse Crewmates had to say about Reading Kingdom by clicking the banner below.


Photobucket
Disclaimer:  I received a free subscription to ReadingKingdom.com in exchange for a fair review.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.