Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What we are up to this week....

We did end up a day behind last week.  I thought we might catch up on Sunday, but we didn't get to.  So we did kind of a combo of part of Friday's important stuff and part of Monday's stuff to start and catch up.  But here's what we are working on this week....

Math - Essential Math skills Story Problems and Teaching Textbooks
Grammar - Time 4 Writing (Adjectives and Verbs)...watch for the review
Spelling - Spelling City...watch for the review
Health - First Aid booklet
Olympics unit - We are still going to watch, but will finish learning about the sports in the next few days.
Science - Making frost, invisible oils on our skin, and Super Soapy Boat
Top Secret - Ireland
Reading Comprehension book from Scholastic
Handwriting and Typing

Math - Essential Math Story Problems and Teaching Textbooks
Spelling - Spelling City...Watch for the Review
Projects - Cats - Purrrfect Pals
Science - Penguins
Handwriting and Typing
Reading Comprehension book from Scholastic

Math - Math U See Addition 8s
Science - Birds
Language Arts- First Language Lessons (new poem and pronouns) and her Reading Comprehension is Jack and the Beanstalk
Reading - Reading Kingdom.com .... Watch for the upcoming Review
Literature - We are still working our way through Wizard of Oz
Typing - Reading Kingdom includes early typing skills!
Social Studies - How to get along and American Girl Manners
Handwriting - Early cursive practice during reading time

Letters - R
Math - UmiZoomi booklets and PK Math book
Activity choices - Nick Jr. Boost online, Cutting/Glueing booklet, Leapfrog booklets
Science - Birds
Literature - We read last week, but didn't finish our Carl books.  So going to finish our Carl books and start on another set.  Caps for Sale, Katy No Pocket and Millions of Cats and we are going to Watch No Rose for Harry.

In History, we finished reading about Pilgrim life.  We watch America - The Story of Us section that included info about the Pilgrims.  This week will be be reading about Adding the 13 colonies.  We talked about why people moved to America last night and will read the books now.

Everyone have a wonderful week!!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mastering Essential Math Skills


Math is not a strong subject for half our house.  Some of us get it, and others of us do not!
Mastering Essential Math Skills is an asset to any household to help strengthen or even "master" those important math skills. It includes a DVD video with an instructor taking you through steps for each section.  I really liked that the sections were short, because attention spans do not last a long time around here.

Some of the benefits of using Mastering Essential Math Skills:

  • Short, concise, non-intimidating, self-contained lessons
  • A "Helpful Hints" section as part of each lesson, which insures that parents and students alike will understand new concepts
  • Includes an illustrated step-by-step teacher/parent guide and solutions
  • Requires only 20 minutes per day
  • Daily number fact speed drills
  • Consistent review is built into each lesson
  • Fun and exciting…students feel successful and develop self-esteem
  • Prepares students for all of areas math curriculum, which they will need in their future classes
  • Most of all, the program produces dramatic results


We had the opportunity to use Mastering Essential Math Skills Elementary Grades 4-5.  The dvd had some good explanations on how to do the problems.  Joey didn't mind the worksheet practice.  In fact, they seemed to be helpful in him learning.  He was working on basic skills daily.  The sessions were short and the practice work was only about 15 problems usually.  Which were very helpful with Joey's attention span.

Unfortunately, Joey still struggles in Math.  This is an extremely weak area for him, so overnight improvement will not happen.  He did make some improvement in understanding the steps to solve problems, but not as quickly as I would have hoped.  (But my hopes were pretty high.)  He still has trouble with some of the new concepts with each daily worksheet.  Since we have started though, he has had his assessment and the assessor explained that kids with Joey's learning disabilities will not be able to retain the same way.  Especially when it comes to basic facts.  As long as he has learned steps......then there is improvement.  So really he did make improvement so far.  

The one thing that Joey really missed was computer interaction.  We normally use a program that tells him whether or not he done the problem correctly and what he needs to do to fix the problem he may have gotten wrong.  I was able to let him work on math more independently by using that program.  This required more hands-on with me.  Which is not a bad thing, because he may continue improving with more interaction from me, versus the computer.

We are still sticking with this program though, to see what happens.  You never know when the switch will be flipped in his head...lol.  His assessor said he had definitely made improvement!

Mastering Essential Math Skills is available:

Available in two levels:

Elementary Grades 4-5 includes:

Middle Grades/High School includes:

Whole numbersIntegers
FractionsCharts & Graphs
DecimalsProblem Solving
Ratio & proportionsNumber Theory & Algebra
PercentsProbability & Statistics
GeometryGraphing on number lines and coordinate systems

We also had the opportunity to try out the Problem Solving Mastering Essential Math Skills book.  This book has several short Story problems on each worksheet, along with a few math review problems.  Story problems is a weak area for both boys.  Brayden doesn't want to take the time to read the problem.  This book had everything already for me to use, so that they could practice "reading to solve" the story problems.  


The problems were easy to go through with the boys.  The practice is what causes the improvement.  And we saw a improvement.  And that is saying alot with our boys.  Would I recommend this product?  Yes, I would recommend this to other parents of kids with special needs or "typical" kids.  Depending on your child's level, the work can be independent or hands-on with a parent or tutor.  And you cannot beat the price....all the work is done for you, except grading.  I don't have to create story problem worksheets if I am using this program.  Saves me time!!!

You can purchase Mastering Math Essentials products here.  Prices for various levels range from $11.95-15.95. Still not sure if this is what you are looking for, you can take a look at some samples of the various levels offered here.

Check out what other Crew Mates thought of their Math Essentials products.  Visit their posts here.


*****Disclaimer......I received Mastering Essential Math Skills free of charge for the sole purpose of this review for TOS Homeschool Review Crew. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal - Week 9

So this won't be the "normal" Homeschool Mother's Journal.......

We had a really good week.  It got a little crazy.  We decided to sell our old mini-van.  We were hanging on to it, but it needed some extra TLC.  We really didn't have the time or money to invest more into it.  So it was time to let someone else to enjoy a larger vehicle.  But that threw a little wrench in our week.  But the new owners were excited, and needed a bigger vehicle.  We had to meet them at the bank on Friday.  So the kids ended up with an impromptu day off because I figured I would throw a bunch of errands on that day.

As most with special needs know, if the day gets off track or disrupted in any way....watch out.  You will most likely not be able to get your day back to where it should be.  And Friday was one of those days.

So because of all that, we ended up a day behind on our schoolwork.  I will work on blending in those lessons on next weeks work.  I am trying hard to keep them on track, and not stray from our lessons too much.  I am keeping in mind though, that if we are doing an appropriate substitute activity for what I have down, then it's ok.  It's weird to have a lesson plan for a laid back plan for learning.  But with 4 of them....I have to have a guide to follow or we would never get anything done.

I also spent a whole day remolding crayons for the Kids Party favor business.  Krayon Kreations was an idea to give Joey a look at all the hard work in small business.  I don't think he's quite caught on yet.  We are actually getting ready for a craft show toward the end of September in a local town.  So I have lots and lots of product to make.  We'll share some pics next week as I get more made tomorrow.  It's a great idea in theory, but a lot of extra work for me.  The kids cannot pour the melted wax.....so lots of work for me.

We did work on the standard subjects.  We did Math, Spelling, Science, Phonics, Reading, Grammar, and some History.  History was one we fell behind on.  We didn't finish reading about Pilgrims daily life.  Also Joey and I didn't finish learning about all the sports we were going to look up for our Olympic Study.

Brayden started a 4H book on Cats called Purrrfect Pals.  He is very excited about Cats right now.  So we are going with it.  Here he is holding one of the stray kittens that my parents rescued.
 Joey did two science experiments.  The one was food coloring with celery.  We did not have great results with this...we tried twice.

I started reading this book with Joey.....did not realize how off it was.  It painted such a pretty picture of Squanto's life.  I am surprised they didn't tell us that he paid the sailors to take him to England....lol.  I made the book disappear so we didn't have a repeat of our North Korea study and Joey ranting about propaganda.  
 This was a neat little book for the girls.
Joey started a 4H Curriculum on First Aid.  Here he is learning how to cut a butterfly bandage.  It turned out really nice.  It even pulled the pieces of paper together.
 Here was his second experiment.  String of spikes.  We haven't gotten the results yet on this.  It's sitting and waiting...lol.

Lydia finished the first 40 lessons in Headsprout.  She is having trouble realizing though that the same words she has been learning, are the same words in the books she is trying to read.  For some reason she is not making the correlation...who knows why.  We are going to work with Reading Kingdom (watch for the review) and Reading Eggs (for sounds) in the next few weeks and just keep reading.  We also started learning about Birds in Science.  This next week, the girls and I are going to go Bird Watching just like the American Girl Lanie did with her little sister.

Caty and I did a lot of reading and working on some letter review for a couple letters.  She worked on cutting and math skills.  She had an attitude all week, so she played a lot of computer games.

The kids swam quite a bit this week.  Just needed to get them out and wear off some energy.  Lydia also had a nasty cold.  And Joey, Brayden and Caty had a weird stomach virus.  So all the kids were not at the top of their game this week.   I ended up with a sinus infection, and drinking apple cider vinegar for two days to start feeling better.  I won't doubt that treatment ever again..lol.

One of the things I have been working on is scheduling and researching field trips.  I also am prepping for the art class that I will be hosting this upcoming school year.  I am getting a bit excited about it as I find all these great things.  I just hope all the kids have fun!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!!  And a great upcoming week!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Ramblings about our Life

We have had a huge amount of family drama lately.  Not that we need anymore drama in our house...lol.  It's kind of like an off-Broadway, Vaudeville mix on a daily basis.

But as I was sitting here and thinking about things, I have decided that I need to stop worrying so much about certain people.  They make their choices whether or not they want to be in our lives.  We cannot force them.  Who knows, maybe they are uncomfortable with our type of special needs and all the unknown and fog that we walk through daily.  Maybe they just don't know what to say or how to act when around us.  Maybe they are co-dependent and think we have to be in constant contact.

I love our little family.  I try to keep smiles up constantly, but my true friends and hubby know how worn down daily life makes me.  It affects my health.  Many families with special needs children have parents that have stress induced illnesses.  So I know many of you out there understand the daily struggle to get through the day, even when you are not feeling good at all and plain don't want to get out of bed.  Life still has to go on.  Kids need fed, appointments must be kept and tantrums/meltdowns are had.

I say I wouldn't change anything, but let's be honest.  If I could change some of the struggles that all of our children face on a daily basis....I would.  Any parent would so their children would not have any pain either physically or mentally.

But yet I wouldn't want to change Joey's 'Class Clown' personality.  He just wants people around him to be happy.  Even after he struggles through a manic episode or impulse issue, he still wants to make sure someone around him is happy.  He is always willing to help.

I would wish Brayden would stop obsessing over so much processed foods, but hey he is opening up more to natural foods.  He eats baked chicken (as long as it has bones), certain veggies (both canned and cooked fresh--such as carrots).  He too tries to help so much.  He tries to help so much that Joe could drown in the amount of canned soda he keeps bringing Daddy to make sure he doesn't get thirsty.  He has so much love, and doesn't know how to express it.  He gives hugs, and his beautiful hazel eyes and those huge eyelashes that he has just melts your heart.

Lydia is so headstrong.  She wants to be a teenager, and yet still a little princess girl.  She can make me so frustrated that I scream into pillows at the top of my lungs.  And then she tries to help do something so little that I forget why I am truly upset with her.  And for someone who wants to be a teenager sooooo bad and move to Canada to meet Justin Bieber, she sure likes to cuddle up on the couch and read American Girl Books and watch Shirley Temple movies.

Caty is following along as a 'mini-Joey'.  She has this little pucker she does when I am leaving.  She licks her lips before she kisses me goodbye, because "Dry kisses are not as nice!" she says.  I don't know where she got that...but it's so cute!

My hubby Joe puts up with the kids and me both.  Some days the stress just about kills me and I rant at him, and he reminds me...hey you are not mad at me take some breaths.  And then he says "You look like you could use a hug."  He lets me rant to get it out of my system.  He doesn't rant, not much.  I don't know how he keeps it all inside.  But he always checks how I am feeling, even though he knows what the answer will be.  I sometimes forget to take the time to do that with him.  To be honest, I can see why so many marriages fail when there are kids with autism.  But we work together and that is the key....we have to work together.

It's time to sit back and regroup...focus on just our family, their needs and how we can support each other.  What does each one of our family members need, and that includes Joe and myself.  Because we have to remain a team to make it through each day.  Two are strong together, but having God on our side makes us even stronger.

I think that will be the goal this weekend.  Time gets away and goes by so fast.

It's so frustrating on most days to see the struggles Joey faces, even though he doesn't even understand that he is struggling.  Same for Brayden.  Lydia is so headstrong and bold, you can barely see her frustrations and her inability to understand all that goes on around her.  And some days she tries to be such the big girl and "help" us out.  Not realizing how much "help" she still needs.  And then poor Caty, coming up at the end of the train.  Wanting to be a big girl, but gets overwhelmed at leaving "babyhood" behind.  (definitely sensory issues).

Joe and I sit back and try to understand and make sense of the madness that we call our life.  14 years we have been tag teaming and some days we get so worn down.  But we have to keep a mindset of a rubber ball.  Someone may punch us down and try to let the air out...but as long as we have each other we can bounce back up high....and we'll always be full of hot air ;)

So let people or family say what they may about us.  We know who truly love us, and we know who are true family members are.  They are always there to support us.  Because that is what family does, whether you are related by blood or not.  That is what we try to instill in our kids, and will continue instilling in them.

Please everyone, take a few moments and remember those around you who love you and care about you.  Show them that you appreciate it and how much they mean to you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Watch out Jaime Farr...Here Comes the Homeschoolers!!!

Who remembers M.A.S.H.??  And Klinger???  Oh and Tony Packos and how much he loved the Toledo Mud Hens?  Well we live near where Klinger called his Hometown.  And we got to visit the Toledo Mud Hens Stadium.....this was the Super Fun tour of the year!!  Even though Jaime Farr will be in town soon for the Owens Classic Golf Tournament....we homeschoolers got a chance to check out a favorite of Toledo.

All homeschool moms out there know that in most cases, we moms are the ones that take the kids on the majority of the field trips.  Since they are generally during the week, that's when Dad is at work.  But every once in a while, one of those field trips happen where we have a large number of dads.  Last year, for our group it was the Wind Turbine Field trip.  This year....it was a Behind the Scenes tour of the Mud Hens Minor League Baseball Stadium.  It was just one of those fun field trips.

It was a good thing that it was so fun...and so much anticipated, because it was at about 105 degree heat index!  Good thing the locker rooms and basement were air conditioned!

Welcome to Fifth Third Field....Home of the Toledo Mud Hens.  They are a farm team for the Detroit Tigers.  Now that was info that my brother and his family provided for me.  The kids were soooo excited (as were Joe and I) that their cousins and Uncle and Aunt got to go on a field trip with us!  If you are not familiar with a farm team.  They basically train and groom the minor league players for specific teams, in this case the Tigers.  They also provide a place for injured Tiger players to recover and not lose out on practice.

 We even got Brayden to go that day.  He watched the clock and was very nervous.  But he said he enjoyed it.

 I had to set up two separate tours.  Here's our family waiting for the second group to arrive.  There was a half hour between the tours, so the kids sat in the gift shop and played catch.  The people were super nice and didn't care at all.  That's my nephew in the blue hat, and my niece in the pink hat.

 Our tour guide talking with my niece and her mom (my SIL) Lisa.  Joe (my hubby) is listening in to the conversation.

 The Visitor Dug out....We couldn't visit the Mud Hens dug out due to construction between home games.
 The view....pretty bad.
 That's why the benches are tore up.  The guys sit on the back of the benches and their cleats tear apart the wooden seats.  (That is info from my Sporty Brother...lol)

 They were super excited to see a pop machine in the Visitors Lounge.

 Hanging out in front of the Visitor Lockers

 Batting cages....for practice
 Then we got to visit the Mud Hens Locker Room....how cool.  These are broken bats that they sign and use for donations.
 Check out the uniforms.  This was very cool!!!
 My brother Bob, and niece Bryce.

 The Mud Hens lounging area...a lot nicer than the Visitors Lounge

 My niece, Bryce
 The Media area for during games.

 The original Stadium...Ned Skelton
 How Caty spent most of the trip...trying to find a drinking fountain....she is always thirsty.
 Lisa took our picture in front of the field!
This was really a fun field trip.  So neat to see all the behind the scenes areas.  Looking forward to more "Outside of the Box" field trips.

What are some places that your groups have visited?  We are always looking for ideas.