Thursday, October 29, 2015

Maestro Classics - The Nutcracker Audio CD & Curriculum Guide Review

The girls absolutely love The Nutcracker Ballet.  They love listening to the music over and over again.  So we were very excited to get the opportunity to review The Nutcracker - Stories in Music from Maestro Classics.

The Nutcracker ($16.98 CD, $9.98 MP3 Download) is the story of Clara who receives a Nutcracker as a gift.  In her dreams he comes to life and becomes a handsome prince.  She and her prince go on many adventures together as they battle the Mouse King and visit the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The Nutcracker - Stories in Music has the playtime of just under 60 minutes.  It includes excerpts from every section of this great ballet by Tchaikovsky.  The sound quality of the music is excellent.  It really bring the story to life as Jim Weiss tells you the story of the Nutcracker.  This is such a wonderful way to listen to a story.  You can relax to the music and enjoy a story too.  We have found the Maestro Classics - Stories in Music are a great addition to our art/painting time.

The Nutcracker kept the girls attention as they waited for each segment to continue anxiously.  I was a bit worried that they were not visually seeing The Nutcracker, since normally we watch it or have seen the ballet live a couple times.  But they said they could lay back and visualize the play as they were listening to the music.

You might ask, why buy Maestro Classics - The Nutcracker - Stories in Music audio.  Well you not only get a high quality music cd, but you also get a download curriculum guide to go a long with your purchase.

The Downloadable Curriculum guide allows you to turn The Nutcracker - Stories in Music into a full unit study.

Suggestions are given for activities in history, geography, science, nutrition, language arts, art, literature, and the study of ballet.

The downloadable guide contains links to help you with websites that you can visit to help you with your lesson planning.  So it's really an all-in-one curriculum guide.

We have spent the last couple weeks learning about the history of the nutcracker and also watching videos on simple machines.   We have learned more about the history of fairy tales.  And it is all in a very fun way.  Many people do not realize how educational and convenient having such a resource available to them.  So as your child's interest is peaked in ballet or nutcrackers, you can continue to educate them through interest led learning.  But all the extra work is done for you in this guide.

We also didn't change up the other stuff that we were doing.  The activities can be done for as long as you would like.  So I snuck in various ballet themed items during the week to our discussions.

Caty is very frustrated right now with her reading delays.  She felt better when I popped in The Nutcracker and gave her some coloring sheets to color while she was listening.  She also got up and practiced her various ballet moves she learned last year from classes.  She made up her own moves to this classic.  What a great way to accommodate a short attention span, build confidence, and give her multi-sensory options.

All the activities are also open for all ages.  So you can use this with several varying ages, which in our case is 15 to 7.  It will help planning to not need to worry about so many different levels.

We have had the privilege to review other Stories in Music from Maestro Classics and we absolutely LOVE all the stories that we have listened too.  They are a great addition to any classroom, road trip, coop, or just a relaxing afternoon for someone who is frustrated while learning to read.

We can't wait to get more Stories in Music from Maestro Classics.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to review products from Maestro Classics.  To see how they enjoyed the products in their homes, take a few moments to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog and read for yourself.

Maestro Classics Review

Crew Disclaimer

Apologia Educational Ministries - The Ultimate Homeschool Planner Review

Planning is a huge part of every homeschool mom's life.  You need to plan lessons, meals, appointments, clubs, and coops.  The lists are never ending.   If you have multiple children, the workload increases and so does the need for organization.  We recently had the opportunity from Apologia Educational Ministries to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner designed by Debra Bell.

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner ($29.00) offers families, not just 48 weeks worth of planning pages, but also insight on how to organize your homeschool and life the best way you can to meet your family's needs.

Debra Bell offers many suggestions on how to organize your homeschool, including suggestions on how to break up your planning sessions so that you do not feel so overwhelmed with this stage of your year.  One of her suggestions is to look back at your previous year as you are starting the planning for your next year.  Take a look at what worked and didn't, and make adjustments according to that.  Setting priorities is also important, and making your family life a priority is very important.  Debra covers this all in a brief planner user guide in the front of the book.

 Included in The Ultimate Homeschool Planner are the fairly "typical" planner items that most homeschool families track.  There are field trip pages to record trips you go on.  A resource list is available for each student so that you can easily track which one of the kids will be using various curriculum.  Other standard forms include book lists, grade charts, and transcript charts.  There are also pages at the end of the book to fill out how your year went.  You can write down setbacks, challenges and progress that you have made.  This will make it easier for you to start planning the next year.  

I have been using electronic word documents that I created to plan out the kid's weekly plans.  So I was a little uneasy about switching back to a paper planner.  But I dug in as soon as we received it.

After reading through all of Debra Bell's suggestions, I moved into planning out our week.  Each week in the Weekly Planner is broken down into sections.  There are your student planning pages, a weekly plan, as well as a spot to write down memorable moments/finished projects from the week.  The Weekly Plan has an emphasis on your family's spiritual education.  

The Weekly planning pages have room for 6 students and areas for 6 subjects.  I unfortunately had to separate this into the whole page for 4 students, because quite frankly I could not write small enough to fit the information in the spaces.  The areas are not small, but each lesson for the kids usually has some info to put with it.  So after a little creativity, I was able to Set the 4 kids up on the pages.  The space at the bottom that is left is where I write down group projects plans for the week.

On the right side of the page, areas are set up to make a project supply list, appointments and any notes you might need to remember for the week.  I write my plans in pencil so that I can easily make adjustments as I need to each week, since like most people we have constant adjustments and changes.  This is the main reason I was nervous about using paper instead of an electronic planner.  I wasn't sure how I would handle the inevitable adjustments.

The first week went fairly smoothly.  The adjustments were fairly minimal.  And I was able to record our weekly accomplishments before I entered the next week's plans.  

There are pockets built into the cover, which have come in handy to keep their readings logs in.  The reading logs are not really "homeschool reading list" long enough.  So I easily keep those extra pages in the pockets.  You can also keep other items, like your Excusal letter from your district or possible curriculum choices for the next year.  

I am working on Debra's suggestions of time allotments for planning and we have started using Student pages to help the kids with their organization skills.  I have to say I do remember why I was hesitant to give up paper planners before.  

I am able to see all the kids without flipping between screens.  It is easier to include their group lessons and duplicate assignments for the boys (who do some of the same projects).  

The cover of  The Ultimate Homeschool Planner seems to be very durable.  When we travel, this makes me nervous.  Books have a tendency to get damaged being crammed in and out of the suitcases.  So I definitely need something not only easy to use, but also durable.  The spiral binding is made of a flexible, heavy duty plastic that seems crush resistant in my briefcase.

The Ultimate Homeschool Planner really does provide almost everything that a homeschool family needs for their school planning needs.  The only forms that are missing might be specialty forms required by your state, such as hours tracking.  Debra Bell has created a wonderful planner at a reasonable price for families.  I know that I cannot print planner pages and have them bound in at an office store for at low as $29.00.  I have found myself convinced to continue using The Ultimate Homeschool Planner for the remainder of our school year.

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out the The Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia Educational Ministries.  Take a few moments to read about how they used this product in their homes and what worked or didn't work for them.

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

American Girl Josefina - Josefina Learns a Lesson Reading Comprehension Questions and Activities

I am very excited to have just finished the reading comprehension guide for Book 2 in the Josefina series.  Josefina has been a favorite of Lydia for a long time.  She is excited that the local American Girl Club has cycled back around to this character.  So I am creating a set of study guides to use with the books.

This reading comprehension guide includes vocabulary and questions for each chapter.  I also included 1 or 2 extra project ideas.  At the end, I created a answer guide to help out parents if they are grading.  

You can use this either with the older books or the new BeForever books.  The only difference is that the BeForever books are the older book combined and rebound in a new fashion.  Instead of 6 individual books, there is now only 3 books.  You can easily match up chapter titles, instead of chapter numbers with the new series.

Enjoy!!!!  You can download this freebie at the link below.

American Girl Josefina - Josefina Learns a Lesson - Book 2 

The study guide for Meet Josefina is found below:

American Girl Josefina - Meet Josefina - Book 1

**Please email me any corrections that you might see or information that I may have missed:

Please note my terms of use:
This is for personal use only. I am providing them free of charge. You may use this at home or in a classroom. You may print as many copies as you would like. You may share the link to our blog to others interested in our packets.
You may not:
Sell or distribute this file. Host this file on your website without
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Friday, October 23, 2015

Week 21 - Guy Fieri, New Jersey, Chemical Reactions and James Madison

Brayden is a Guy Fieri fan!!  He loves watching Guy's Grocery Games and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  Oh and that kids cooking show that he was in with Rachael Ray.  I heard earlier in the week that Guy Fieri was making an appearance in Ann Arbor.

They had recipes from his cookbook.  Of course the kids didnt want to try any.

Freezing and waiting for Guy get there.  They started drawing.

Caty snuck away from us.  I saw her near the front.  Didn't know she weasled her way all the way up until I saw her on the big screen.  She was really bold and just started talking to him.  It was hilarious.  He loved her.  Even gave her a cookbook, since she was a "cooker" like him.

 The smile on Brayden's face the whole time he saw Guy.

That night we made Asian chicken wings from the cookbook he gave Caty.  Brayden was super excited to help with this.  But it really turned into a Mom only project because of the frying.

Then to keep with the grill theme, Joey has been begging to try and make pizzas on the grill.  So I got that project going too.  We made grilled pizzas with homemade crust.  They all loved this!!

The kids had buckeyes at Costco last weekend and they loved them.  But poor Joey was left diary and no peanuts.  So we made buckeyes that Joey can enjoy!!!  Even Brayden got into making these and he was sneaking the sunbutter before dipping them in the chocolate.

I also showed them how to make popcorn balls this week.  They didn't like the blue raspberry, but Joey said the sprinkles were good.

But we did more than cooking this week.  They were back to their regular lessons.  We had a few struggles with wanting to finish the workload, even though it is really not that bad.  But I expected it considering they had the week off from table work last week.

This week in group, we started Explorers of the New World.  We learned about Columbus and the true story of his exploring in the New World.  I was trying to come up with a cool project to help them remember routes and after seeing someone using balloons to create globes, I thought, why not try a pumpkin.  So the next few weeks we will be adding the routes of the explorers onto the globes they started this week.

I had to repaint their work.  They started out using tempra.  It peels, do not use it.  Use acrylic paint.

I was going to have them draw on the continents, and realized how frustrating it would have gotten.  So instead printed out continents and they colored them and glued them on.

Here is Lydia's globe marked with Columbus' voyages.  They added Vespuci on Thursday.  I didn't get an updated picture.  Will next week after we add Magellan and the voyages of the Spanish.

They boys were reading extra, beyond what we talked about as a group.  They are reading child biographies on Magellan and Columbus' hero Marco Polo.  They will switch up next week.

The kids signed up for a Drawing Basics class that another Homeschool mom is teaching near us.  I was nervous about how the boys would react to this new concept.  The girls love to draw little pictures.  And Joey usually does....but Brayden has never really shown a big interest in this area.  They actually all enjoyed the class.  Brayden isn't keen on the "homework" and practice he needs to be doing, but he survived.  Joey has done a great job with his work so far this week.

A historical event in our town this week, they tore down our old water tower.  The kids and I went down to watch some of it get taken apart.  It was cool to see the welders up high.  I turned it into a drawing project.

Lots of lines and shapes made up the tower.  So they were to draw the tower.

They also brought their backpacks full of their schoolwork to do while we sat and watched.

Poor Caty wasn't feeling great at the beginning of the week.  We visited the doctor, and he's suspecting acid reflux maybe due to food sensitivities.  So she started meds.   By Wednesday she was back feeling like she could do cartwheels and Thursday she was doing handstands again.  We still have some exhaustion issues we need to address.  So I am just keeping an eye on her diet and her behaviors.  For right now, she can eat without tummy aches.

I let her slide with a little less work.  She did work on double digit subtraction with borrowing.  We practiced our words using the Wilson Reading System and she did some lessons in Reading Kingdom.  We also learned about hibernation/migration and how some animals adapt to the new season.  She did a poll on my Facebook page of what people would like to do.  She chose hibernation, and I chose migration.  The majority of those who participated in the poll chose to migrate to warmer conditions.  She watched the Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot about That on Migration.

Lydia is chugging along in her Chinese course.  She still loves it.  She started reading the American Girl Josefina series.  She decided to try American Girl club again.

For science this week, we learned about how elements got their names and how chemical compounds get their names.  We discussed why it's so important to have the same name, especially for dangerous compounds.  I am trying to include in more experiments, even when there are not really a lot in their textbook.  This week we did the age old colored milk and film canister rockets.  We have done both these before, but they have so much fun with them.

Brayden was getting impatient by the time we tried to video tape the rockets shooting off.  But we had used almost a half a box of alka-seltzer by then.  That's a lot of

This week we learned about James Madison in Presidents.  We watched a video about him and learned that one of his favorite foods was ice cream.  (Shhh...we had ice cream twice this week in his honor.)

Our state this week was New Jersey.  We found it on the map and practiced our state capitals.  Then we watched Aerial America on New Jersey.  We spent a lot of time there the last couple years, so we recognized several of the landmarks that they showed in the video.  Our project to go with New Jersey had to do with Campbell Soup.  Since Joseph Campbell opened his first plant there, we chose to learn also about Andy Warhol and his soup can art.

Last year we saw this art at the Museum of Modern Art while we were in New York City.  Caty fell in love.

Andy Warhol ate Campbell's Tomato Soup daily for over 10 years.  That was his life.  So we recreated this artwork ourselves this week.

We watched this video on Andy Warhol...

and also

We did a little bit of everything.  Did not do any field trips this week.  Maybe next week.  I have a couple places we would like to go before the snow starts falling in Northwest Ohio.  The kids did enjoy some of the warmer than normal temps that we had this week.

Hope everyone had a wonderful week!!

Linking up with other homeschool moms at:

Weekly Wrap-Up