Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week Ending 6/2417

This week has been an extra busy one! Issac finally got his end of year testing finished, so I can try and start thinking about curriculum for him for next year. Some of his testing worried me a little because he seemed so behind in a few areas. He just doesn't seem to "get" punctuation, capitalization and often forgets his parts of speech. We've tried several things and they seem to work, but they don't stick. All we can do is keep moving forward :) I paid the extra fee for the curriculum recommendation and a few were the same as last year. That frustrated me a little because I know some things he did better in than last year. It's almost always been 2 steps forward and 1 back with him.

My husband and I celebrated our 21 wedding anniversary this week. We haven't actually celebrated, but the day came and went (lol) Our middle child was getting her wisdom teeth out that night, so the timing just wasn't right. I was really shocked to hear that she needed her wisdom teeth out. She seems too young! I know I had mine removed the Christmas after I was 18 and our oldest just had his out right before his 18th birthday. I just didn't expect it for her being 15. Both she and her older brother have always been late getting teeth in and losing them as well. She's done really great and I'm thankful we have such a great dentist!

Issac's off to my mom's for a week and I'm hoping they have a wonderful time together. She's never had him alone for a week, so we found a local camp that he could attend during the day. It's a full day camp, but she's planning to pick him up after lunch, so they have time together. My brother is going to get him 2 afternoons as well, so I think he'll have a great time! He was so excited when I told him Thursday.

We finished up 2 great reviews this week. These 2 were in my top ten of items that we've been blessed to review this year.  We were given the entire Rush Revere Series and Issac has really loved those! Our middle was also working on Unlock Math-Geometry. She said even though she dislikes math that Unlock Math is her favorite. That's HUGE praise coming from her! If you have any interest in trying Unlock Math please use this referral code-http://unlockmath.refr.cc/VPNNQ93.  You'll get $50 off your annual purchase of Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1 and I'll get $20.  We'll both win :)

Next week I'll be posting my review for Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling.  Issac and I have really enjoyed the books we've been reading while using this item.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: UnLock Math-Geometry

UnLock Math
Math has been a bit hit or miss in our house. We've used various programs and some have worked for some of the kids and some for the other.  Our middle child has disliked math from a very young age :( She struggled, she felt she didn't understand and we'd spend HOURS working through problems in her lessons.  About two years ago we switched programs and it seemed that she was starting to understand math better. I was very happy and we moved forward.  That seemed very short lived and we were back to the complaints, struggles and basically tears.  When I checked out the website for UnLock Math I realized this program might be what my daughter needed.  We requested the UnLock Geometry and jumped right into it.  Since my daughter has had such issues with math she was not very excited about this review. I on the other hand felt the way this program was setup might be just the thing to help her.  
UnLock Math
Every lesson has the same basic sections.  You have the warm up, a teaching video, practice problems, stay sharp and a challenge question. The warm up gets the student ready for their math lesson. After they watch the daily video, which teaches in bite sized chunks, they practice what they learned in the practice problem section.  They review what they've previously learned in the stay sharp and ultimately get a challenge question that might be something they haven't studied yet.  There is also a gradebook section where you can check and see how your child is doing on all sections. There are fifteen section in the program and they are as follows:
Prerequisite Skills
Logic & Proofs
Distance & Length
Angles, Lines & Transversals
Triangles
Polygons
Circles Pt. 1 & 2
Perimeter
Area
Geometry in the Coordinate Plane
Triangles Pt. 2
Transformations
3D Geomety & Volume
3D Geometry & Surface Area
We spent quite a long time in the first section, prerequisite skills.  I felt that my daughter really needed a good foundation to move forward in the program. One thing I really liked is that you can go back in if you feel they need to redo the work. We chose a grade that we felt was acceptable and told my daughter if she fell lower than that we needed to redo the lessons.  She wasn't really happy about that because she didn't want to redo any lessons. I explained to her that it wasn't a race to finish the program, but to learn and understand how to do the work.  Geometry was actually the hardest math I ever dealt with. I did better in Calculus than Geometry because it's just hard for my mind to process those angles and really all things Geometry (LOL) I feel like my daughter follows in my footsteps, so I wanted to really help her get a good foundation. I like how the program is setup because I think it's the best  possible way for the student to learn and excel with the material.  
I asked my daughter what she liked and disliked about the program and this is what she told me. She really liked that the videos were made with a "real" person. Other programs that we've used seemed childish to her because there were cartoon type characters.  This gave her the feel of a real class setting and she could focus on the video better because she felt she was somewhat engaging with a teacher.  She also liked that she could see how to work a problem if she missed it. She will often come to me when she misses one, but honestly she gets frustrated with me because she feels they are so easy for me and not for her. This gives her the chance to see what she did wrong without feeling stress in the explanation.  Another thing she liked and I LOVED was the printable reference notes. My husband has been telling our daughter for YEARS that she needs to take notes, so that she can easily refer back when she has a question. She doesn't like to take notes, doesn't want to take notes and that hurts her ultimately when she's doing her math. With UnLock Math there are printable reference notes with every lesson that have all the information you'll need. That's been a huge resource for her and it might be my favorite part of the program :) I think she's realized how helpful the notes can really be while working the problems. I think for her it might be a focus issue of paying attention to the lesson AND trying to take notes. Some of the things she didn't like were that she felt there were "too many sections" of problems to do and that frustrated her somewhat. She said she'd prefer just having the warm up, video, stay sharp and the challenge.  She understood that the different sections had a specific purpose, but she felt the practice problems and stay sharp were too much.  She also felt that when she missed a problem it would be nice if there was a second chance for her to try without having to go out and do the lesson over. Let's say there were 10 problems and she missed 5 of them. She would prefer having a second chance on those 5 right when she was doing the lesson verses having to go back in and redo all 10 to have a better score.  Even with all her complaints about math and doing the problems she told me this past week that she prefers UnLock Math over all the other programs that she's done in the past. This program can be completed in about nine months if used daily. My daughter moves at a slower pace, but I'm just excited that we are getting positive comments. 
 One last thing to mention is the customer service.  UnLock Math may have THE BEST customer service that I've ever experience with any program.  We ran into a few glitches along our journey, but with this being the newest program that's always to be expected.  The times that I emailed with questions I got very quick responses and once even a phone call.  Matthew was the one I dealt with and I just can't say enough good things about him.  Once the program wasn't working and I needed to empty my cache. He could have made a big deal about that not being an issue on his end, but he suggested I do that and told me to let him know if it didn't work. He never made me feel that my questions or concerns weren't important. Great customer service can make or break a company for me and that's just one more thing to bump this company up a notch in my opinion.  
 
UnLock Math
UnLock Math currently has just a few programs available.  They have UnLock Pre-AlgebraUnLock Algebra1UnLock Algebra2 and UnLock Geometry. The one change I would make would be to have these programs available on disk or have lifetime access available. When I purchase materials I'm always thinking will they work for another child of mine. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. UnLock Math is a little more expensive then the other programs we've used and I wish there was a way to use it with more than one student.  It will be 5 years or so before our youngest is ready for Geometry and I'd love to be able to try this program out with him.  
If you want more information check out this sample lesson or check out their social media sites: FacebookTwitter or Pinterest.  Also check out what my fellow crew members thought.
Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series

Adventures of Rush Revere
One of Issac's favorite sayings is now rush, rush, rush to history! He's learned this catchy phrase while we've been reviewing Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh.  Rush Revere has been on the radio for years letting America know his political thoughts.  He's decided to branch out in a new direction and teach history to our children is a fun and memorable way.  He and his wife have teamed together to bring us five fantastic books, the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series,  to teach our kids the story of America. These books are beautiful to look at.  They are hardback with beautifully illustrated covers.  The pages in the books also have an aged look about them as well as some fantastic pictures throughout the stories.  We received ours beautifully wrapped in a blue ribbon!

I think the pictures helped Issac get engaged because he wasn't just sitting there listening to a bunch of words. There were visuals for him to look at and help his understanding.  Also learning about history from a horse that jumps back in time gave learning a new twist.  
Adventures of Rush Revere
Adventures of Rush Revere
We decided we'd read the books in order just to help Issac keep track on events, dates, etc.  We read every night before bed, so that's where we started our adventure. The more we got into the books and the more engaged we got we expanded to reading during the day as well!  We started out with Book 1 in the Adventure Series: Brave Pilgrims.  I'm really glad we started out with this one because it gave Issac a good understanding of why America was founded.  We read about how the pilgrims left England because they wanted a fresh start and not to be persecuted for their religious beliefs.  As the book starts we meet Rush Revere, a history teacher that loves to dress in colonial clothing.  His sidekick, Liberty, is a talking horse who also can disappear at will! Rush Revere is substitute teaching at Manchester Middle School in the honors history class.  He's got a fun take on how to teach history to his students.  During this book Rush Revere, Liberty and two students from the class, Tommy & Freedom, time jump back to the Mayflower.  They meet William Bradford & Myles Standish as well as many of the other people moving to America.  They may be jumping back into time, but they are still using Rush Revere's cell phone to take pictures :) Throughout this book they jump to several different times to see how the pilgrims are adjusting.  Freedom learns how to plant from Squanto and they get to help celebrate the first Thanksgiving as well.  

We then moved on to the second book in the series, Book 2 in the Adventure Series-First Patriots.  The story continues as England is trying to hold on to the pilgrims and not let them be free.  I think this was one of Issac's favorites because of the Boston Tea Party. I honestly don't know if Issac's ever heard of the Boston Tea Party, but the way it was portrayed in this book, I don't think he'll forget it!  In this book we add two new students, Cam and Elizabeth.  Cam loves history and is very excited to join the group whereas Elizabeth is the principal's daughter and she just wants to cause trouble for everyone!  Rush and his kids jump back into time and meet some of the wonderful people from our history such as Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, King George III, Samuel Adams, George Washington and John Adams. 
Moving on to the third book, Book 3 in the Adventure Series-The American Revolution. In this book we meet Dr. Warren who is a local doctor, but working behind the scenes for the patriots.  This story taught us more about Paul Revere and his part in history.  We learned what one if by land, two if by sea meant.  Lanterns were put in the window of the Old North Church.  This was a warning system to all that were involved in helping Paul Revere make his ride a success.  
The fourth book, Book 4 in the Adventure Series-Star-Spangled Banner, truly helps us all to understand what it means to be patriotic. In this book we learn that Tommy's grandfather isn't doing well.  Rush Revere decides to take the kids to Washington, D.C. to cheer everyone up.  He even includes Tommy's grandfather! Here they take on a top secret mission to learn all about Washington, D.C. that they can.  They meet James Madison and even share dinner with him. They head to the Constitutional Convention, the capitol and many other important places from history.
In the final book, Book 5 in the Adventure Series-Presidency, we learn about what it means to be president and how the process works.  Without some of our founding fathers I'm not sure where the county would be today.  They gave our country a stable base from which to build further on.  The crew got to experience George Washington taking his presidential vows as well as his farewell address.  
One thing that we really enjoyed about these books is the way the material is presented.  Kids are the main  characters and I think that always helps children relate better to the material being presented.  Issac picked up on the historical figures and information because it was presented in such a fun way.  We all know that a horse can't travel back in time, but it's a fun vehicle to move around in the world of history.  I think these books would be wonderful for middle school age children to read alone and help them build their interest in learning history.  Some older elementary students would probably be able to read this alone as well, but for my son he would have lost the context of what he was reading.  The chapters are a little too long for his comfort, but he really enjoyed us reading them aloud. 


Here's a picture of Issac after we finished the first three books in the series.  
Another wonderful thing about the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series is all the extra stuff that they've come up with to go along with the books.  You can read the books alone or you can use their fun activities that they've come up with to expand your learning on American History.  They have study guides, activities, games and even scholarship opportunities  You can also follow their social media: FacebookTwitter and YouTube as well as read what my fellow crew members thought.  
Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

Thankful Tuesday 6/20/17

I'm thankful for my husband today.  We will be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary in just two more days. I think it's a true test of how love changes over time. When we first got married we spent every minute together even if he was watching tv and I reading a book in the same room (lol) Add kids into the mix, several health issues and his injury two years ago. Times have NOT always been good and I'm sure there were days that both of us were ready to walk away. We said our vows in front of God, our family and friends and that's what we remember when times are tough. It's easy to love someone in the good times and when life is going smoothly. When the turmoil hits and life isn't fun it can be hard to push through those times.  God is with us every step of the way and sometimes we just need to remember that and keep pushing through the hard times. I'm thankful for my husband and excited that we have many new adventures to look forward to having together.  Here is a picture from our wedding.





Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 6/18/17

My husband has had a rough two years due to an injury on the job.  He's in daily pain and I have to say that some days, most, haven't been pleasant around here over the last 2 years.  We've been trying to get back into doing more things together and I've noticed his irritability lessening some :) I think he had a wonderful day today thanks to his children. Our daughter really tries to go out of her way on holidays to make it special.  She made my husband several personalized gifts this year as well as spending a large chunk of pet sitting money she just earned on some gifts.  He was over the moon with all of them. One of them really touched him.  She made a painting of bricks and drew 2 trowels on it since he's a brick mason.  That really touched him and he told her it seemed like his birthday with so many gifts! She also made him a peanut butter pie and cooked fajitas for the main meal!

Our youngest has this thing he does where he wraps up his toys and books and gives them to people for their gifts.  Today he gave my husband a pack of cards and an atlas that were all his (LOL) Carl actually loved the atlas and didn't realize it was one of Issac's usual gifts :) He did make him a nice card where he drew a picture of the two of them playing cards.

Today is our oldest sons only day off, so it was nice that it fell on Father's Day! I think it made it a perfect day for my husband to have all the kids here.  We watched tv, played cards and just hung out together.  Love days like this and I'm so thankful that I have a wonderful husband to be a loving father to our kids.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thankful Tuesday~6/13/17

Today I'm thankful for our Lee Co. 4-H Extension Office.  They are so wonderful with the kids and offer a variety of things to do.  When I was growing up 4-H was basically taking care of animals and then going to the fair with them.  At least that's all I ever heard them being :) My kids were introduced a few years ago from friends that were taking over a local homeschool group.  My kids enjoyed the time with friends, the trips, the service projects, the games, etc.  This year the middle and youngest did their first presentation. I wasn't worried about the middle because she seems born to speak in front of others! The youngest I just wasn't sure about.  He told me what he wanted to talk about and I wrote it down for him.  He practice, but honestly not enough in my opinion. That night I had planned to take pictures and video, but he decided at the last minute that he didn't want me to. He got up there, hit most of his points while looking right out at us! He missed talking about one section, but still made his time and that made him happy.  They thought he did a great job of not looking at his notes, so I was really happy about that.

Another things he really enjoys are the summer camps.  For the last 3 or 4 years he's gone to 2 camps each summer. They are usually 4 days long for about 3 hours each day.  This week he's in horticulture camp and he loves it. Yesterday they planted hydroponics lettuce as well as lettuce in a regular pot.  Today they talked about pollinators.  This is one of his favorite camps because they go to a local park for a field trip on the last day!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: Marsh Media

Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }
Our two older children have each done a health class before because I just felt it covered lots of subjects that need to be covered (LOL) I don't think either of the kids thought it was that interesting or really learned much from it. Jump forward to Marsh Media and their wonderful and interesting way to teach health to kids! Their videos are interesting and full of facts while keeping the student entertained and engaged.  There are lots of subjects that should be covered and some are harder than others to discuss.  Kids don't always want to talk about hygiene, but it's something that needs to be discussed quite frequently as they get older.  There are videos on hand washing, brushing teeth, lice, nutrition, AIDS, puberty education for girls and boys as well as some videos for those with special needs and many more.  Marsh Media is venturing out into the homeschool community with their Homeschool Special.  You can receive access for 1 year to all 59 of their videos to watch and use in your homeschool.  The price is very reasonable at $50.00 for a full year of access to all the videos.  We watched quite a few of the videos and they ranged in their content. Here are a few of the videos that we watched:
Go Slow Whoa
Keep it Clean
Aloha Potter
Blood vs. Germs
Beas Own Good
AIDS Facts for Kids
I Know How to Act
Take Care of Your Teeth
Take Care of Your Ears
A Boys Guide to Growing Up
We really enjoyed the first video, Go Slow Whoa, because the video was set up like a game show.  It was the good foods verses the bad foods :) We learned the basic food groups, about whether it's better to eat fruit or drink fruit juice and well as that the food you eat is a recipe for your body.  We also learned about go foods and slow foods.  Go foods are those that you can eat almost anytime.  Some of those items are: veggies, fruit, skim milk, low fat yogurt, lean meat, fish, egg whites and beans.  Slow foods are those that you can have a few times a week. Those are fruits with added sugar, sports drinks, baked chips & pretzels, dried fruits, white bread and rice, pasta, whole eggs, peanut butter and ham.  There are also the WHOA foods that you should only have every once in a while.  These are fries, donuts, large amounts of cheese, fried hamburgers, fried chicken, cookies and cakes, candy bars, ice cream, mayo, butter, chips and soda.  We were shocked by some of the facts that we learned!! The average person eats 100 POUNDS of sugar in a year.  Also, that one can of soda contains 1-13 TEASPOONS of sugar.  I know many people try to avoid high fructose corn syrup, but the average person still gets over one PINT a week!! We also learned that the average person eats 4 POUNDS of salt EACH year! This video was chalked FULL of valuable information and the kids didn't see it as them being lectured to about eating right. It was all done in a fun, but yet teachable way.  
Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }
One of the other favorites was Keep It Clean Hygiene.  This was for 5th-8th grades and we enjoyed the "rap" type feel to it.  I think most kids enjoy when there is music to what they are learning and it helps them to remember facts as well.  One of the key points in this video was that to get along in the world you need to be clean.  I think most kids don't even realize when they get stinky and need to bathe (LOL) This video told the kids that nothing smells better than clean skin! One thing I liked was that they said inexpensive shampoo works just as good as the more expensive stuff. I think sometimes our kids get caught up in using certain soaps, shampoos and sprays. It's ok to use those things, but sometimes the very cheapest items work just as well.  We also learned that acne is MOSTLY genetics.  Girls get it younger than boys, but boys usually have more and worse outbreaks.  I really hadn't thought about or realized how much genetics played into acne. I know so many people will just say wash your face, don't drink sodas and have too much sweets. While that can help, ultimately nothing you may do will be helpful if it's in your genes.  
Health Education Products for K-8 {MarshMedia }
So many things to learn in these videos and they really are well done.  I know that puberty may be a hard subject to talk to kids about, but sometimes there are ways to make it easier. Sometimes letting your child read a book or watch a video before you talk can be very helpful. It's a great way to get the conversation started and sometimes you need a little ice breaker for certain subjects:) Marsh Media has been providing quality educational materials to schools since 1969.  They are branching out and hoping to work with homeschoolers to provide them quality health materials at an affordable price. If you are interested in their Homeschool Special check out https://marshmedia.com/pages/homeschool-offer to get more information.  This is really a wonderful approach to teaching some of our basic health subjects to our children.  Check out their social media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube as well as what my fellow reviewers thought:
MarshMedia Reviews

Week Ending 6/2417

This week has been an extra busy one! Issac finally got his end of year testing finished, so I can try and start thinking about curriculum f...