Sunday, May 1, 2016

Week 47 - Pond Science, Warm Weather and a Sleepover!



I think we are all feeling the effects of Spring.  We have been hard at work all year on school work, and we all feel the need for a little break.  But this week we had a ton to get get done.  Joey has been working on his 4H Bottle Rocket project.  He has almost finished it and needs to make his presentation board when he finally decides what he wants to highlight.
Launching was very popular that morning!

 Everyone had a blast seeing how high it would go.
 Caty planted some lettuce in our greenhouse.  It was warm this week, so we took advantage of what warm weather we were getting.
 We also did some bike rides and walking.

Lydia is trying to decide what she wants her final project to be for her 4H art project.  She has been messing around with the 3D hand art.

One day they had a water balloon fight.  I have to say I love those new kits where you fill 100 balloons in no time.  Great time saver for me, someone who is sensitive to the latex in balloons.



They had a lot of fun, and didn't even whine much when they had to pick up the balloon mess.

We had a field trip to a veterinarian clinic.  Here the doctor is showing them x-rays of a dog that had been hit by a car that morning.  He was talking about the damage.  We saw a lot of interesting things and learned about veterinarian life.


Joey is also working on Exploring Ponds 4H project.   His secchi disk came in, so we headed to the pond he is using for his study.



We saw lots of frogs!


Measuring the pond.

While we were exploring the pond, Lydia and Brayden were practicing their archery shooting.


Playing games with Caty.

Caty decided to Cut her hair so we had to go to the stylist and get it fixed.  It's a shorter bob now.

Brayden and Lydia had archery also.


They were all waiting anxiously for their first sleepover with their friends.  They have never gotten to do this before.

Lots of fun....cotton candy, homemade pizza, popcorn
 A scavenger hunt (with a treasure chest of candy at the end)
 Fun in the hot tub
 Photo booth

 Ice Cream sundae bar with all the kids favorite toppings.
 Toss and talk ball
 Decorate your own coffee mug
 Glow in the dark dance party
 And the next morning, all the girls went to the stable and went horse riding.


It was a long busy week, but we survived!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

YWAM Publishing - Heroes of History - John Adams Review




This year we started back on American History.  We have spent the last few weeks studying the Colonies and the American Revolution.  We were excited to get chosen to review the Heroes of History - John Adams ($9.99) book and John Adams - Digital Unit Study ($9.99) from YWAM Publishing to go along with our studies.

We received a print copy of Heroes of History - John Adams, and the Digital Unit study downloadable guide that corresponds with the book.


John Adams is such an overlooked man in history.  He was very intelligent and thought things through.  He dedicated his life to the colonial movement and spent many years apart from his family to help with the Colonial Government.  So I assigned Joey to do some extra research on him using the Heroes of History - John Adams book.

The Heroes of History - John Adams book is very well written.  I would recommend this for upper elementary through middle school.  Joey is at a late middle school comprehension level, so it fit perfectly in for him.

The story starts out with an exciting, attention-grabbing story that will get your child wanting to continue reading.  But the book covers the life of John from an early school age through his death on July 4, 1826.  There are 17 chapters, and Joey was able to finish the book in about a week.  But the possibilities are endless for how you choose to use the book though.  Joey read the material and used the comprehension questions from the Digital Unit Study.  But if you are working on this for a family project, you could use it as a read aloud and work on projects together based on John Adams life.  You could space out a study for about a one month period, using both the Heroes of History - John Adams book along with the Digital Unit Study - John Adams.

The Digital Unit Study was very easy to download.  I saved it for easy reference.  It is a PDF, so I was able to read it on my laptop screen, and I only printed the pages that I wanted to.  There are a few pages that are great to print and that includes a mini-biography, a map of the 13 Colonies, and a timeline for John Adams life.

There are many project suggestions throughout the Digital Unit Study.  One of the project ideas suggested was to create a display corner about the life of John Adams.  As you learn about his life, the kids can add display items that they create about him.  It could center around a timeline, a copy of the Declaration of Independence, famous quotes, or maps of where his travels took him.  What an awesome idea!

There are six comprehension questions for each chapter in the book.  I simply re-typed the questions into a word document for Joey to type up answers to me.  You could also verbally discuss the questions with your students.

The Digital Unit Study covers topics of geography, history, literature, creative writing, public speaking, art, and reading comprehension.  Suggestions include ways for you to easily adapt this study from your youngest students through high school age.  They also include ways to increase your student's research skills and hands-on projects for multi-sensory learners.  Field trip ideas are also included to make it so your student can really see how John Adams lived.

We have used many of YWAM Publishing Heroes of History books through the years.  I have loved every single one of them.  It's really a great way for your student to learn history without being overwhelmed.  I enjoy reading them, even as an adult.  The Digital Unit Studies just take the work out of your lesson planning.  I can't wait to continue our time through history while using the Heroes of History books.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out different books in the YWAM Publishing Heroes of History and Christian Heroes series.  Take some time to see what stories they reviewed and how their families enjoyed the product they received.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Apologia Educational Ministries - Writers in Residence Review


Apologia: Writers in Residence Review

Writing is not one of my favorite programs to teach.  I am not a fan of diagramming sentences and I understand how hard it is to put your thoughts into words.  To be quite honest, our kids struggle with enough learning delays that I fighting with a strict writing program is just something that I do not want to tackle.  Then I would only be making myself and the kids miserable.  I was pretty excited to get a chance to review the Writers in Residence program ($89.00) from Apologia Educational Ministries.

We received the Writers in Residence Volume 1 set, that includes the 576 page All-in-One student workbook and also the Answer Key.  



Created for Students in Grades 4 - 8, Writers in Residence has been created to incorporate both writing and language arts into one program.  By using  strong literature models, examples are provided for students on not only the parts of speech, but also the best examples of writing styles.  Each unit is broken down into manageable modules that are meant to encourage and not overwhelm your students.  

A suggested daily schedule is provided at the beginning of the workbook, so that your student can work through independently or it can even help you with your lesson planning.  



This schedule came in handy, especially when I first started using Writers In Residence.  I wasn't sure how much Lydia would be able to tackle.  It was nice to see in print this suggestion.  You can follow it very loosely.  Some sections, your student might be flying through and you might be able to accomplish more than you expect.  While other lessons they may have to spend some extra time on.  

Throughout the program, there are interviews with Christian Writers.  These were a nice encouragement, especially when reading stories about authors who didn't even enjoy writing when they were kids.  

Writers in Residence uses the Six Traits of Writing model and encourages children to really look at their own writing based on these traits.



I really like that this program is basically all in one large book.  I do not need an extra teacher's manual to go along with it.  When we are traveling this a great benefit.  We did receive the Writers in Residence Volume 1 - Set that includes the separate answer key.  This does allow me for an easy check for those lessons that I am not working on directly with her.  

Each module allows your student to look directly at their own life experiences to write about.  They are just starting to live life, but can use these life events to not only write non-fiction reports but also turn them into fictional stories with fictional characters.  

Each section also includes rubrics to help your student follow a checklist of each step they need to be completing.  Each one of the short modules has enough practice to introduce a topic and give each student practice without being overwhelming.  They do not need to write a huge paper with each section.  

Some of the topics covered are writing letters and memories, how to take notes, interview people, and even essay work.  During all these various modules, language arts topics covered include adjectives, verbs, adverbs, subject/predicate work, all with the help of Roald Dahl.  Yeah, there is a section on Adjectives with Roald Dahl.  Who better to help teach your students?!!?  

Writers in Residence seemed like it might be an overwhelming program to use, but after we started using it I realized I let the size of the workbook make the judgement for me.  This program has been very easy to use.  Lydia has been progressing very well with her writing.  I think she really appreciates the length of the lessons.  She is not stuck sitting and writing for an hour.  I like that you can easily use this program on a reduced weekly schedule, since not everyone does school 5 days a week.  

If everything continues well with Lydia, I foresee us starting Writers In Residence with Caty in another year as she grasps more reading lessons and starts writing.  Writers in Residence has really been a great addition to our schoolwork to help with the dreaded writing time.  So far there has been no screams of panic that it's time to do writing!  That is saying a lot coming from Lydia.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to review the Writers in Residence Volume 1 language arts/writing program.  Take some time to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog and see how they enjoyed using this program in their homes. 


Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
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A+ Interactive Math Mini-Courses Review





We have been using A+ Interactive Math Online Full Year Math program for a couple years now.  I really enjoy the ease of use and the explanations that are given to the kids on how to work through their math problems.  The boys enjoy using A+ Interactive Math because they can get through their math lessons very easily and it doesn't take them all day to finish.  That is a plus for kiddos with short attention spans.  

But A+ Interactive Math has now created Math Mini-Courses that allow kids to concentrate in one area that they may be struggling in.  We were excited to get a chance to review these programs.

Some of the programs included in the Math Mini-Courses include:
  • Elementary Fractions
  • Elementary Multiplication
  • Elementary Division
  • Place Value and Number Combinations
  • Tables, Charts and Graphs
  • Elementary Algebra
  • Elementary Geometry
  • Time
  • Advanced Fractions
And Many More.....A+ Interactive Math Online offers 20 different Math Mini-courses to help your students continue advancing in math.

We had the opportunity to try out the Money Math Mini-Course ($12.99 per year) and Measurement and Conversions Math mini-course ($15.99 per year)  Both of these are areas that the boys need extra help and concentration in.  So I was excited to try them out.

It was very easy to set up our account and each one of the boys has their own Login ID to get to their courses.  In fact, there is usually very little set-up that you need to do as the parent.  The interface that A+ Interactive uses is very easy and does most of the work for you.

Joey has been using the Money Math Mini-Course.  It includes information on topics such as counting money, making change, and even budgeting.  Something that he is working on with his current 4H money project, and something that he needs to really start thinking about as he gets older.



Included in the Mini Math Courses are extra printable worksheets for reinforcements, as well as quizzes and tests to check how much your student has retained.  

The user Interface is point and click.  That is great for the boys, because it means they can log into their math and work on it independently.



Brayden is working on Measuring and Conversions ($15.99 a year), something he also needs extra work in. 


He is covering both Standard and Metric measurement systems and getting extra work in finding area & Volume.  I also like that there is a bit of time included also.

Brayden thrives with online math.  He is doing a great job working his way through the Measuring and Conversions program.  There is a summary report that you can check on under your student login, but parents can also track their student's progress under your parent login.



The ages that these programs work with are very open.  If your student is advanced, then they would easily be able to use the Math Mini-Courses early.  But if your student is struggling, then they can easily use these programs without feeling like the programs are childish and too young for them.  Joey is 15 and using the Money program, so that tells you how open the age-range is for the program.

We have been using A+ Interactive for over a year now.  I tried to switch the boys to a different math program, one that involves books rather then online, it has been a rough few months.  I just wanted to see how different their math performance would be, and it is clear to me that they would suffer if I moved them to a different type of program.   

We will be sticking with A+ Interactive Math and their Mini-courses.  It is very easy to use and if you ever have any problems, the creators of the course are always there to help.  In the almost two years we have been using them, we have never had any issues though.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out the Math Mini-courses from A+ Interactive Math.  Take some time to visit their blogs to see how they worked with their families.


Math Mini-Courses {A+ Interactive Math Review}
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