Real Life Homeschooling – Finishing Out the Week

I can’t believe that this is the final day of the real life homeschooling Blog Hop. Today I will share how we ended up finishing out the week.

We had a successful week, everything was finished and she ended up with almost an entire extra day of Spring Break.

When I looked at the spreadsheet Tuesday night I was happily surprised. AJ had finished her spelling, math,  and literature for the week. She only had Bible, Science and History left.

Tuesday night was a late one. I didn’t get to go to bed until 5am because Grandma had an accident around 1 in the morning and had to be showered and changed. I threw her sheets in the washer and then she ended up wanting breakfast. After a few hours she was tired and happily went to bed. At that point I crashed! Things like this happen quite often around here and that is one of the main reasons we don’t have a strict schedule. I didn’t end up waking up until about 11 am.

I decided to take a shower before even thinking about school work. That is until AJ walked in the bathroom and read the Bible reading for the day to me. She told me that she already finished the worksheet for it, and she was ready to work on her history next. When I got out of the shower I found her, already showered, dressed, and hair kind of done working on her history. (We are working on how to do her own hair so she will be ready when she goes to camp this summer.)

Working on History flash cards - Real Life Homeschooling

A few minutes later she was finished with her vocabulary and we went over the book of Joshua in the Kids Bible Handbook. I have to say that book has made Bible time so much easier! It breaks down what happened in each section and really helps both of us to understand the Bible.

We finished up the day by re-watching the science videos and looking through the library books on weather. At about 12:30 school was over and she was officially on Spring Break.

We had a very successful week, but it isn’t always that way. Sometimes Grandma is up all night and we don’t get any sleep, on those days school work doesn’t really get done.

You may have also noticed that there was not any art, grammar, or writing on our schedule this week. We aren’t doing a formal art program. Art is done as it fits in with science and literature, and is really focused on one week in every history unit. The history program is actually very hands on and fun, but this was the first week in the new unit where we had a lot of reading and listening to do.

We have been using copy work for grammar for the last few months. Spelling You See has taken the place of copywork for now. If we continue with it after the review period (which I am almost positive we will) then we will probably add back in some additional copy work a few times a week. We also use the daily grammar from schoolhouseteachers.com. Once we get more use to the new schedule I plan to add that back in.

Writing, the dreaded subject, wasn’t on the list because we finished the last unit in composition and I didn’t want to start a new one and then have a week off for Spring Break in the middle. I haven’t found the perfect program for writing and am looking for a way to make it more enjoyable for AJ.

A successful week where everything was accomplished!

So that was our week. She finished everything on the spreadsheet and had almost an entire extra day of Spring Break!Thanks for joining me and I hope you were given a real life look into our homeschool!

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
Here are a few of the other bloggers who are participating in the blog hop, check them out!
Indy Homeschool
The Open Window-An Autism Blog
Creative Madness Mama
Hopkins Homeschool
Tots and Me…Growing Up Together
Our Journey
Crystal Starr
A Little This … A Little That
For the Display of His Splendor

Real Life Homeschooling – Some Days Take a Little Longer

Today is Day 4 of the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. This week I have been sharing a typical week in our life, even though each week is a little different. These posts are all based on the week before Easter, because this week is Spring Break and 5 posts about us doing nothing would be pretty boring! Here is how our third day of the week, Tuesday went.

Real Life Homeschooling - Some Days Take Longer

On Monday night I noticed that AJ wasn’t feeling too well. I soon found out that when she was with her grandma over the weekend she went swimming! The pool is not heated and it is still too cold to swim. We had just discussed this and told her that she could not go swimming a week ago, so when she woke up feeling sick I was more than a little irritated.  If the situation would have been a little different I probably would have just skipped school for the day and we would have just made it up later. But after finding out that she completely disobeyed and went in the pool knowing that she was not suppose to, I decided that she would have to just deal with school. Am I a mean mom? Maybe, but in life there are natural consequences and this was one of them.

Tuesday we were off to a slow start. We started school around 10 am. First we worked on her Bible study, and then she did her Bible reading for history.

Putting God First with Bible reading in our Homeschool!

Once she was done with her Bible reading we decided to work on spelling. She did her chunking, read the passage to me, and then asked if she could study some of the harder words for a few minutes before her final dictation. That caught me off guard! I gave her a few minutes to work on her spelling and then we started in on dictation. The dictation is suppose to be stopped after 10 minutes, but when I told her time was up she asked if we could finish. She ended up working on it for about 20 minutes, and was very proud of herself when she corrected it. There were over 100 words in the dictation and she only missed 3! Talk about a boost in confidence. I think Spelling You See is really going to be an answered prayer for us!

Spelling You See - Final Dictation.

After spelling she went and got dressed and did a few chores that she didn’t do before we started school.

Real Life Homeschooling Chores are just another part of school!

We were going to go onto science, but my leg was swelling so badly that I had to go inside and put it up. We decided to work on Star Toaster. It is this amazing reading program that uses an online story, a game, videos, and so many other exciting features to make learning fun. I have a full review coming soon, but here are the basics. She logs in and reads a chapter in the story, The Orphs of the Woodlands. Throughout the story she learns different vocabulary words, character traits, nutrition tips, and math skills. At the end of each chapter she has to do jobs (answer questions) to earn stars so that she can take care of her Orphs (orphaned animals) that she is helping. It is a really neat program and she really enjoys it. She was really into the story, so she ended up working on it for about an hour.

Working on Star Toaster - An Amazing online program for kids in grades 4-7

When I finally told her we had to move on she ended up finishing up her A+ math for the week. The first chapter was really easy, but she enjoyed it. I am crossing my fingers that the rest of the chapters will be as well done. She crossed off math for the week and noticed that the next day’s spelling was a Daily Puzzler from Schoolhouseteachers.com She loves those and asked if she could work on that next. As you can tell by the picture, she was starting to feel a little bit better.

Working of Daily Puzzlers from schoolhouseteachers.com

After crossing off spelling for the week, it was time for science. Today we were learning about clouds. I had printed off a worksheet about the different types of clouds, but I had a hard time telling them apart. (See you don’t have to know all of the answers, just how to find them!)So we decided to do a google image search and learned more about the different types of clouds.

Learning about clouds using a google image search.

After finishing the worksheet we went outside to see how many types of clouds we could name.  Sadly, it was clear as could be other than this little cloud.

Learning about clouds, and this was the only one in the sky!

AJ sketched the cloud, and then it was time to make a cloud in a bottle.

Real Life Homeschooling - Hands on Learning

She had a lot of fun with the experiment!  After science it was time to finish up history. Today she had to do the first half of her vocabulary for history. I decided to try something different with this unit, and had her make flash cards instead of just doing a worksheet. She liked it and I think that she will practice the flash cards more than she will study them in a book, time will tell though.

Real Life Homeschooling -Flashcards for history vocabulary

When the history cards were done she had to read two more chapters in Because of Winn-Dixie. She surprised me and finished the book! She even took the test and aced it! This may seem like a little thing, but this is the first book that she has EVER read by herself, that doesn’t have pictures, where she has really read it and was able to answer questions! This was HUGE!!! After working and pushing, and backing off, and getting frustrated, our hard work has paid off and she willingly finished a book!

Real Life homeschooling - Finishing her first book

She is just in the wheelchair so she can wheel around and spin while reading, she is fine!

 

I don’t know if it was the new schedule that gave her more responsibility, or the fact that she wanted to be on spring break, or if it was just a good book, but now I know she has it in her.

Overall it was a good day, but it was a long day. School lasted about 6 hours. Some days will be longer than others when your child decides to take forever, or when you dig deeper into a subject. We take each day and see how it goes. Tomorrow will be our final day in the real life homeschooling blog hop, come back to see how we finished out the week.

Check out some of the other members of the school house review crew who are participating in the blog hop!

Life at Rossmont
A Stable Beginning
Happy Little Homemaker
Joyful Hearts and Faces
Day by Day in Our World
Mama’s Coffee Shop
Delightful Learning
Double O Farms
Tales of a Homeschool Family
Home Sweet Life
A Rup Life

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 

 

Real Life Homeschooling – A “Normal” Day

Today is day 3 in the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. I am sharing the second day of our week, Monday.

I let AJ sleep in, because I slept in. I ended up sleeping through my alarm which happens a little too often. When I woke up around 9:30 this is what I found.

Working Independently on School Work

AJ was in the garage eating breakfast and working on some of her independent work for the day! She told me she wanted to get started so that she would have plenty of time to ride her bike. Maybe this new schedule really is working. She ended up reading the Bible stories for both today and tomorrow. This was part of her history work.

Next we went on to the Bible Study that we are reviewing. After reading a few verses and discussing them, she attempted to do a crossword puzzle. Unfortunately, the crossword puzzle questions and the answer squares didn’t add up. After a few minutes we decided to have her do the younger version of the crossword puzzle instead.

Next on the schedule was Spelling. Today was the dreaded day of dictation. She started out by reading the passage and chunking it. Then we covered the passage and I dictated it to her.

Chunking the passage from Spelling You See

She struggles with the dictation because one of the rules is that she can’t erase. If she spells a word wrong she has to cross it out and try again. She also doesn’t like to be timed. The dictation is only suppose to last for ten minutes, but today she was a little distracted and didn’t write very much after 10 minutes so I stopped her after 15 minutes. She did well, but I hope that we can get further along tomorrow when we do the final dictation.

Dictation with Spelling You See

After spelling we moved onto Science. Today’s lesson was about how to read a weather map. She read a little bit about weather maps and then had to answer six questions based on them. It was a quick activity that only took about 15 minutes.

Learning all about Weather Maps

I let AJ pick the next subject and she chose math. She started with her Key to Percent book and finished her two pages very quickly. Then she decided that she wanted to go ahead and finish off the book today, including the test.

Taking the final test for Key to Percent Book 1

This is where we normally get off course with our schedule. She wants to do more in a subject and we end up putting other subjects on hold. Last week we were so focused on history that we didn’t do any science. I told her that she could do as much math as she wanted, but that the other subjects had to get done too. She passed her test with 98% and wanted to start the next book, but I had to stop her there, because I didn’t want to do school work all day. Have I mentioned how much I love Key to Math?

Next up was History. She read a few verses in Joshua and then I put on the What in the World? CD for her to listen to while she colored in her What’s in the Bible? coloring book. I have found that she doesn’t pay attention unless she is doing something. She just spaces out and can’t tell me anything that has happened. Sometimes I let her play with play dough, kinetic sand, or putty. But today’s lesson fit in so well with the coloring pages so I had her color.

Coloring while listening to What in the World?

While she was listening to the CD I checked on Grandma and started preparing dinner – chicken and dumplings.

She looked at her spread sheet and realized that she forgot to do her A+ Math that we are reviewing. She logged into her account and started on lesson 6. After she did the lesson and got 100% on the after lesson questions, I realized that there were worksheets to go along with the lessons. She hadn’t completed any of the worksheets because I didn’t realize they existed. Oops! I had her do a few of the worksheets that we had missed and then it was time for lunch.

Working on A+ Math

Even with doing extra math and history, school was less that 4 hours long. I ended up running a few errands to the pharmacy and the store and then we worked on Star Toaster when I came back. When we were finished she rode her bike for over an hour. It was a very successful day!

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 Here are 10 more amazing bloggers who are participating in the Blog Hop, check them out!

Treasuring Life’s Blessings
Double O Farms
Simple Living Mama
Fried Clams and Sweet Tea
This Sweet Life
A Net In Time
Counting Pinecones
Some Call It Natural
Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Debbie’s Homeschool Corner

See how others spend their day by checking out A Day in our Homeschool!

 

 

 

 

Real Life Homeschooling – Fitting It All In

Today is day 2 of the Real Life Homeschooling Blog Hop. (You can see day 1 here) I will be taking you through a typical homeschooling week at our house. This week we decided to do school Sunday through Wednesday. (This post is based on the week before Easter, because we are on Spring Break this week.)

Sundays are busy around here. It is our day that we do the major cleaning, so it is not the “best day” to do school, but we have to fit in school when we can. Here is how our day went.

My alarm went off at 8:30 and I woke AJ up about 9am. She didn’t want to get up until I reminded her that she had church that night and if her work wasn’t done (As long as she puts in a decent effort she can go, even if everything isn’t finished.) she couldn’t go to church.

Homeschooling in Real Life - Fitting it all in

From about 9 to 11 she got up, ate breakfast (eggs, toast, and an apple), took a shower, and made her bed. She moves so SLOWLY in the mornings sometimes. So slowly that it drives me nuts!

From 11 to about 1:30 we cleaned. The floors were swept and mopped, everything was dusted, and then……. Grandma woke up. She had a wet diaper so we changed her and made her some breakfast. I put a Shirley Temple movie on to occupy Grandma and then supervised as AJ vacuumed the house. Then it was time for lunch. Lunch was simple, a tuna sandwich, chips, pickles, and cucumber.

At about 2pm we started school. I was afraid we wouldn’t get much finished since church was at 5:45. We do the majority of her school work in the garage.

Normally, I would let AJ pick the order of the subjects for the day, but not today. Since we were in a time crunch I decided to start off with history. This week in history we are starting a new unit all about The Children of Israel. It covers quite a few books in the Bible, from Joshua to 1 Kings. Today on the schedule was reading the article, reading a few stories in the Action Bible, and reading a few major verses in her Bible.

Homeschooling in Real Life - History

We read the article and Bible verses together and then she read a few stories in the Action Bible.

The Action Bible - A great way to help kids understand the Bible.

After history was finished, she moved onto Bible. We are reviewing a Bible Study from Heidi St. John called; Firmly Planted The Gospels Part 1 Today we read the first part of Luke 1, and discussed it.

Firmly Planted Bible Study, Luke 1

Then she worked on the vocabulary section while I put dinner on. We need to get a better dictionary, because the one we have just isn’t cutting it any more. She had to use the computer to look up most of the words, and they were basic words.

Looking up words using Dictionary.com

Next on the list was spelling. We are reviewing Spelling You See, and so far AJ loves it. I was concerned about the amount of writing at first, but she has been doing very well with it.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

First she reads it to me and then she chunks the words based on the vowels. After we go over the chunking, she copies the passage.

Spelling You See - A hands on way to practice spelling.

Spelling only took about 15 minutes total. Today for some odd reason she decided to cooperate and get her work done in a timely manner.  After spelling we moved onto math.

Today’s math was in 2 parts. First she did some online math (more on that tomorrow) then she worked on her Key to Percent book. Today’s lesson was on finding percent by using what she already knew. She had to find  49% by finding both 50% and 1% and subtracting, or find 35% by adding up 25% and 10% of a number.

No need for paper, we do math on the whiteboard!

She worked her problems out on the whiteboard after I went over what she had to do. While she worked on math I folded some laundry and checked on Grandma. Then I checked Facebook and my email. A few minutes later I checked her math and she had them all correct. I love this math! Everything is step by step and she enjoys doing it.

The last major subject for the day was science. We are using Digital Science Online and are working on Weather. Today she watched the video all about weather in action and filled out a worksheet. She watched it alone while I went inside and put my foot up because I was hurting a lot.

Using Digital Science online to promote independence

When she finished science (about 25 minutes) she asked if she could do her literature at bed time. I decided we would try it and she did her PE. I had to add PE to the schedule because otherwise I tend to put it off so that she gets more book work done. In all honestly, if it wouldn’t have been on the schedule I would have skipped it. She loves to ride her bike though, and I think seeing it on the schedule actually makes her work harder.

After PE she watered the plants, and then it was time to eat a snack and go to church. She ended up finishing up everything except literature by 5:15. She says that she really likes the new schedule and if more days go like today, I will gladly take the extra time to schedule each week.

After church, at about 7:15, we ate dinner. Tonight was ham, mashed potatoes, and steamed carrots. When it was time for her to do her literature, she gave a little attitude because she wanted to watch TV.

Working on independence in Home School

After a few minutes of moaning about how she could do it tomorrow, she went in and read her book and answered the questions. She actually ended up doing both Sunday’s and Monday’s work, because, “The book was just so interesting.” I don’t know who kidnapped my child and replaced her, but I am gladly keeping this one!

Each day is different and today everything seemed to work out well. AJ cooperated with her school work, Grandma willingly stayed out of trouble, and the house was cleaned. Most days are not this smooth, but I am thankful when days like today happen.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 Here are 10 more blogs that are participating in the blog hop, check them out!

For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
For Him and My Family
As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Proverbial Homemaker
ElCloud Homeschool

 

Real Life Homeschooling – Scheduling

Homeschooling is such a general term. You have your strict, scheduled homeschoolers who have a set regimen and follow it to a tee. On the other side you have homeschoolers who do little or no bookwork and let life lead the path of learning. While either are great,  I think most families fall somewhere in the middle. This week I am participating in a blog hop all about real life homeschooling with members from the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Throughout the week I will be giving you a glimpse into our school week, the ups and the downs.  I hope you will join me each day this week for a new post about our real life homeschooling!

Scheduling Our Homeschool Week

We have a four day school week. Thankfully we live in a very easy state when it comes to homeschooling. There are no set number of days or hours that we have to do schoolwork. Still, I try to maintain a basic schedule so that AJ can have the best education that I can give her. The days we school often change depending on appointments, Grandma, and just life in general. This week we plan to do school work Sunday through Wednesday. Ideally, I will plan our school week the weekend before, but sometimes come Monday morning (Or Sunday if that is our first day) I am going over the work from the week before and figuring out what we need to do. Recently AJ has taken a maturity growth spurt when it comes to school. She informed me that she wasn’t a baby anymore and that she could do some things on her own! That was music to my ears!  Coming from a kid who has needed someone to sit by her side to keep her on task, I was shocked to say the least. I looked at our schedule, some things needed to change. I was scheduling too much and not giving her enough independence. I switched up how I was scheduling our week and the last few weeks have run a lot smoother. Here is what scheduling looks like for our homeschool. First I go through the work from the week before. I should file it, but this week I stuck it in a folder to take care of later. By the looks of that folder, later needs to get here soon! The next step is going through the next lessons in each subject AJ  is working on. I look at what we are reviewing and decide if I will be switching out subjects, or adding more subjects to our day. Once I know what I want her to work on, I type it all up into a spread sheet.

Our weekly schedule

The new thing I do is color code the spread sheet. I go through and change the font color based on how she is suppose to do the work. One color is for the subjects she will work on with me, one color for the subjects where I need to teach her something, or work with her for part and then she works by herself, and a third color for the topics she is to do by herself.  This takes a little longer, but it seems to help our day run smoother. After I have the week planned out, I print out the spread sheet, print any worksheets that need to be completed, and gather all of the books she will need. I stack the books and worksheets up in a pile, and we are ready for the week.

Getting ready for a new week

On the schedule for this week…..

Math – Finishing up book 1 of Percent and finishing Unit one of A+ Math Pre Algebra (A Review Item)

Science – Learning more about weather – including a cloud experiment

History – Working through the book of Joshua in the Bible and starting our study of The Children of Israel.

LiteratureBecause of Winn Dixie. I want her to finish the book this week, but I don’t know if that will happen.

Bible – Focusing on Luke chapter 1 about Jesus’s birth in a new Bible Study (A Review Item)

Spelling – Spelling You See (A Review Item)

Extras – PE and Star Toaster – An online reading adventure (A Review Item)

We will see how this week goes. I hope you come back tomorrow to join me on or week of Real Life Homeschooling!

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop
 

There are 52 bloggers participating in this Bog Hop, here are a fer of them.

Every Bed of Roses
Ben and Me
Footprints in the Butter
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Raventhreads
Counting Our Blessings
Homeschooling for His Glory
Ozark Ramblings
Chestnut Grove Academy
Only Passionate Curiosity
Farm Fresh Adventures

 

Thick as Thieves – A TOS Review

I don’t know about you, but I have a very reluctant reader. She reads well, but just doesn’t like it. If I give her a book with a lot of pictures or a non fiction book  she will read it with a fake smile, but if I give her a fiction book with no pictures at all, attitude is usually around the corner. This year I have been focusing on her reading. She has read a lot of different types of books, and I have noticed that the ones that keep her interest the most have a strong, believable, young girl as the main character. I was thrilled when we were given the opportunity to review a wonderful book, Thick as Thieves by Susan K. Marlow. Thick as Thieves is the first book in a new series, Circle C Milestones. After reading about the book, I thought it would be the perfect fit for AJ.

Full of suspense, wonder, and excitement. We stayed up until 3am because we couldn't put this book down!
 

About the Book

The Circle C Milestones series takes readers on an adventure with fourteen year old Andrea Carter (known as Andi) who is growing up in California in the 1800’s. The book opens with Andi worrying about her horse, Taffy, who is going through her first foaling. Andi is in that awkward stage where she isn’t a little girl any more, but where she isn’t old enough for anyone to take her seriously. After some scary stuff happens, that keeps you on the edge of your seat,  Andi has to return to school instead of being able to stay with her horse.

When school starts more drama and conflict occurs as a new girl, Macy, comes to school. Macy is dirty, smelly, and full of secrets. As Andi’s luck would have it, Macy ends up as her new seat mate.

Just when things start to settle down, cattle rustlers start stealing horses. When Andi’s family’s ranch is hit, suspense and adventure fill the story. Will Andi’s family get their horses back? Will Andi make it through the school year sitting by the crude Macy? Throw in a few plot twists, and you may be surprised by the ending. I sure was.

Thick as Thieves is a 173 page soft covered book that is broken down into 26 chapters. It is recommended for kids ages 12 and up.

Free 40 page Study Guide. There are sections on idioms, characterization, similes, and so much more

To go along with the book there is a free downloadable study guide. The study guide is 40 pages long. It covers vocabulary and comprehension questions like most study guides, but it goes much deeper. There are sections on idioms, characterization, similes, and so much more. There are even fun sections that teach a little more about life in the 1880’s.

The study guide is recommended to be used one of two ways. It can be used after reading a number of chapters or you can read the entire book and then come back and do it.

How We Used It

This book arrived the day we finished up our previous novel study. My plan was to print out the study guide and have AJ start reading the book the next day. That didn’t happen. When the book arrived in the mail she read the back and wanted to start reading it that night! When she asks to read, I don’t usually say, “no.” We did a little bit of shared reading (I read a page then she reads a page) and stopped after a few chapters. She did the study guide the next day and we read some more. We did that for the first two days, but then we decided to wait and do the study guide at the end of the book. The book was just too exciting to put down. On the third day we stayed up until three in the morning because she had to find out what was going to happen. We still had a few chapters left, so we finished up the next morning.

The problem came when she went to work on the study guide. She couldn’t remember what happened in each chapter. She knew how both Andi and Macy had changed had grown, but she couldn’t remember what part of the book things happened in. We decided to skip the comprehension questions and just did the fun activities that went along with the book.

If I were to do another study guide with one of Susan K. Marlow’s books I would do it a little differently. I would have AJ do the vocabulary section before she started the book so that she would be more familiar with it. Then I would make sure to at least ask the comprehension questions after each set of chapters. The rest of the study guide we would do after the book was finished. The study guide is amazing! It is well put together and a wonderful resource. I really wish we would have utilized it better.

What We Thought

We loved this book! It was full of fun, adventure, suspense, and wonderful character traits. Andi is not perfect, and I think AJ really understood her. AJ was so into the book that a few times in the beginning she said, “Andi just needs to punch that Macy!” Both of the characters were so deep and interesting. The theme of the book is friendship, and it really shines through. There are biblical values intertwined throughout the book, but it is done in a way that doesn’t come across as preachy.

This was the first book that either of us had read from this author and we were plesently surprised. She has a wonderful writing style and we can’t wait to read more of her books about Andi. There are two other series about Andi; Circle C Beginnings (for ages 6-9) and Circle C Adventures (for ages 9-14) and AJ wants to read them all! We have the Circle C Beginnings set on order at the library and we can’t wait until it comes in.

Any book that can spark AJ’s interest in reading is a win in my book. I would recommend it whole heartedly!

Click the banner below to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about the book.

Koru Naturals Review
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GPA Math – A TOS Review

Math, you either love it or hate it. Around here we love math. AJ would do math any day over reading or writing. When I was given the opportunity to review an online math program GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN I thought it would be the perfect math program for AJ. I was given a year long subscription to GPALOVEMATH. There are over 150 lessons and 10,000 problems in each grade!

GPA LEARN - A TOS REVIEW Earning badges and points MOTIVATES!

GPALOVEMATH is a math program that is completely online. Using animated characters, lessons that are to the point, and step by step directions, your student can master math standards. GPALOVEMATH is really broken down into three parts – Learn, Engage, and Motivate. When you purchase GPALOVEMATH your child will have access to all six grades of math, from K-5. We used fifth grade for the majority of our review, but we also looked around at some of the other levels.

When your student logs on to the program they are taken to their dashboard. On their dashboard they will see how many lessons they have completed, the number of stars they received for each lesson, their progress, and how many rewards they have earned. From there they have the option of clicking on one of the three tabs; Learn, Engage, or Motivate.

When your student clicks onto the learn tab they are taken to a screen with three different paths to work on. The paths vary a little by grade, but in 5th grade they were:

  • Green Path – covers order of operations, problem solving skills, and variables.
  • Purple Path – covers place value, decimals, fractions, multiplication, and division
  • Blue Path – covers the coordinate grid, graphing, geometry, and measuring

GPA LEARN - Learning Paths

The lessons can be completed in recommended order, or by topic. If you are going in recommended order, there may be times when one or more of your paths are blocked and you are forced to complete other lessons before you can continue on the blocked path. This can be bypassed manually, if you want.

When the student clicks on the desired lesson they are taken to a lesson that is broken up into three parts. The first part is the Introduction.

The 5th grade lessons start off with Nina Numerator and Dino Denominator needing your help to stop the Evil Dr. Division from trying to ruin the world. In order to stop Dr. Division you have to solve math problems and earn clues.

GPA LEARN - Math Missions add to the excitement of math!

After explaining why the topic is important to learn, any new math words are defined.

Mighty Math words - New Vocabulary is learned for most lessons.

The concept is explained in detail. Then the student is walked through four problems on the topic, earning a clue after each problem.

GPA LEARN - Math topics are broken down into easy to understand steps.

During this time the student should work the problems out, but they can not click on anything or submit their answer in any way. Once they earn all of their clues Dr. Division is defeated until the next time and the introduction is over.

Following the introduction is the practice section. In this section you practice solving problems. If you get it right then your learning coach gives you positive feedback, a green check appears, and you can go on to the next problem. If you get it wrong, your learning coach points out what you did wrong, a red refresh button comes up, and you are given another chance to solve the problem. When practice is over, it is time for the Quiz.

GPA LEARN -  made a mistake, your learning coach will help guide you!

The quiz is 15 questions (10 for younger grades) long. During the quiz the learning coach doesn’t provide any feedback, and you won’t know if you answered a problem correctly until the end of the quiz. The quiz is made up of multiple choice, drag and drop, and fill in the blank questions. When the quiz is over you are given your score and your points. You are also able to go through any missed problems.

 

Earn points and badges after each quiz!The second tab your student can click on is the Engage tab. Under that tab they can send messages to approved people including their teacher. This section may be great, but we didn’t use it. With just the two of us, it would be silly to communicate over the computer, but it might work well if your student has friends using the same program.

The final tab is what makes GPA LEARN different from other math programs, the Motivate tab. For each lesson your student earns points depending on how well they did. They can then use those points to purchase things. There are numerous options from staying up late to cooking with parents, and even having the parent do the child’s chores. There is also the option to earn a gift card (provided by GPA LEARN) to different retailers. During this review we saw Toys R Us and Target, I don’t know what options there will be in the future. **** As you can see AJ earned quite a few gift cards, but policies have changed and now there is a limit of earning 3 per year*** There are also random awards that parents can select in the beginning that are given out as surprises when the student has completed so many lessons.

GPA Learn- Earn surprise rewards

GPALOVEMATH can be played on your MS Window or Apple MAC computer; Apple iPad, or Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (10”). You can use it with your favorite browsers, Google Chrome (recommended), Apple Safari 6 & 7, MS IE11 and FireFox. We used it on my Windows 8 laptop using Chrome.

AJ is in 6th grade, but since we have been doing a mastery based math, there are a few holes, especially in geometry. AJ used this program in place of her normal curriculum for the six weeks. I had her do about 5 or 6 lessons a day. She was able to log on and navigate the program very easily and did the program mostly independently. All she needed was my computer, some scratch paper, and a pencil and she was off.

GPALOVEMATH sounds like the perfect program. It is visual, interesting, and full of bells and whistles to make learning fun. Unfortunately, we found some major flaws.

The voices of the characters are horrible, on top of being annoying and computerized, there were times that math vocabulary words (along with others)were pronounced incorrectly. The audio was at times playing so fast that nothing could be understood and at other times there was so much static that the sound had to be turned off. I contacted the company and they are aware of the problem and are in the process of redoing the audio for the 5th grade level. Currently the only fix is to turn the volume down and read through the lesson, but for AJ that was a major issue.

The other major issue was that there were a lot of math errors. I know there will be errors with any program, but this was a bit much. The first few we just talked about, but by the fifth or sixth time that her correct answer was marked wrong on a quiz she was frustrated. She actually used the feedback button herself and contacted them about the issue. She was right, and the problem was fixed.

Most of the issues were simple errors, but a few times the errors prevented her from getting the highest score and the correct points.

GPA Learn - a major con we had was the numerous math errors

As you can see in this picture, they have that point D would be at -6,2. The correct answer would be -6, -2 but she was marked wrong for that answer and another one that was really correct on the same lesson. After reporting quite a few errors we were informed that the 5th grade team would be going over the problems to check them. When we looked at the other levels there were errors as well. In one kindergarten lesson the question asked which picture showed the snowman after it melted, but none of the pictures had anything to do with snowmen.

AJ’s biggest complaint aside from the audio and the math errors was that the introduction was too long. In the beginning, saving the world from Dr. Division was exciting, but after a week it became old and boring. In fact, because of the awful audio and the long introductions AJ decided to skip most of the lessons and just do the practice and quizzes.

There were some really good things about the program too. I love how step by step everything is. I also appreciate that after each lesson she completes I receive an email telling me what she worked on, how long, and what her score was. I can even see if she skipped the lesson or watched it. I love the detailed feedback that shows me how she is doing. The customer service is top notch, and very professional – even when dealing with an 11 year old.

Overall I think it is a great idea, that is just poorly executed at this point. Would I recommend it? No, not now, but once the audio is fixed and the problems are rechecked for accuracy I think that this would be a great math program.

There were a lot of reviewers, and most of the ones that I have read were very positive, so go check them out!

 

GPA Learn Review
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World History Detective – Review

History is one of those subjects that I hated in school, so I am always on the look out for products that can bring history to life for AJ. When I was given the chance to review World History Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. I was excited. I have always heard wonderful things about The Critical Thinking Co. and this book did not disappoint!

World History Detective Book 1

 

About the Book

World History Detective Book 1 is a soft covered 362 page work text for students in grades six to twelve. It is broken up into 78 lessons covering Prehistory, Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilizations, and Early American History. In the beginning of the book there is a three page teacher overview that explains the type of questions included and why each question type is important. There is a full answer key at the back of the book so everything is right at your fingertips. This book can be used as a stand alone history text, or as a supplement or review for older students.

Each lesson follows a similar layout. There is about a page to a page and a half of reading, followed by about nine questions. The first questions are a mixture of; multiple choice, true/false, fact or opinion, and chronological order questions. Then there are one or two written response questions. The final page of the lesson is a concept map where students are asked to fill in the blank spaces from a word box.

Concept Map

What makes this book unique, is that for almost every question the student is required to give the sentence number where they found their answer.

In addition to the physical book, there is also a website listed in the book where you can download and print off review lessons to use after a group of lessons have been completed.

How We Used It

We are currently studying Ancient Civilizations, and we were planning on using this book as a supplement. After a few lessons, I realized that would be too much reading for AJ, so we put our other studies to the side and focused on this book.

We decided to break each lesson up into two days, mainly because AJ is a slow reader. The reading level wasn’t too hard, but reading so closely was new to her. On the first day she would read through the lesson and look at any maps or time-lines. Then she would do the concept map. The concept map was her favorite part and really helped me to know if she understood her lesson or not. After working on the concept map she would go back and answer the first nine questions. She was able to answer the questions fairly easily. Finding the sentence that supported her answer was a little more difficult for her. In the beginning I would tell her what paragraph she needed to look in. After a few lessons she started to be able to find the supporting sentence on her own most of the time.

On the second day she would reread through the lesson and then answer the written response question. The first day usually took her about 45 minutes and the second day took about 30 minutes. While the first set of questions was fairly straight forward and could be found in the text, the written response required some more thought. Here is an example from lesson 6 on the Babylonian Empire.

What were the two greatest contributions the Babylonians made to future civilizations? Explain how each contribution benefited future civilizations. Please use complete sentences to answer the question.

Often AJ would use the concept map to help her answer the written response question.

Maps and Questions to make you think.

What We Thought

Overall we really liked the book. It taught way more that just history. It taught thinking skills, it helped with her reading, and problem solving skills. There were a few things that we didn’t care for. In the beginning AJ had a hard time writing in the book because it is so thick. When she tried to write on the pages on the left she had to hold the book funny to be able to write in it. The pages are perforated and can be taken out, but we decided to keep them together. The other thing that AJ didn’t care for was the small writing space on the concept maps. AJ writes fairly large and had a little difficulty fitting in the words. That being said, I don’t think most 6th graders would find the spaces too small. The only other issue we had was that there were two lessons in the Prehistory section that went against our beliefs. It was simple to just skip those two lessons and be on our way.

While there were a few things that we didn’t like, there was a lot we did like. I loved that the questions forced AJ to read very closely, not just skim to try and find the answer. AJ loved the concept map! Seeing all of the concepts broken down really helped her to understand the big picture. In fact we have started using concept maps in other subjects since they helped her so much. I think AJ’s favorite part was that there wasn’t a lot of writing. There were only one or two questions in each lesson that required her to write. The maps and time-lines helped a lot. They really helped her to visualize what was going on. The lessons were full of details and AJ learned way more than I was expecting. We plan to continue to use World History Detective Book 1 as a supplement to our history unit study. It was a great addition to our homeschool, and I would recommend it to those who are looking for a easy to follow program that is fairly independent and makes kids think.

Follow The Critical Thinking Co. on

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The Crew was able to review a few different products from The Critical Thinking Co.  check out their reviews too!

Critical Thinking Company Review
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Digital Science Online – Review

Science is a favorite subject around here. If AJ had her way we would do science all day. She loves the experiments, the pictures, and learning new things, she doesn’t like all of the reading though. When we were given the opportunity to review an amazing science curriculum from Visual Learning Systems, I was hopeful that it would be the perfect product. I was given a year long subscription for both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition Grades K-5 and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition  Grades 6-12. We looked around the elementary edition, but decided to use the secondary edition.

Visual Learning Systems Review
 

What is Digital Science Online?

Digital Science Online is a video based science program created by Visual Learning Systems.  It includes videos that can be watched all at once which takes about 20 minutes, or watched in segments that are only a few minutes long. To go along with the videos there are; animations, images and teachers guides. The teachers guides include a copy of the video transcript, learning objectives, student activities, and answer keys. Student activities include a pretest, a video review, post test, vocabulary, and other activities that vary depending on the topic.

The Secondary Edition is for grades 6-12 and is broken up into six sections of science; physical science, earth science, life science, integrated science, health, and biology. Each section is then further broken down into topics. The program is completely online and can be accesses from any device with internet capabilities. The teacher guides and student activities are downloadable and need to be printed out to be used.

How did we use it?

We finished our study on geology right before this science curriculum arrived. We wanted to continue with earth science so we dove right in with the topic of oceanography. I printed off the student activity worksheets and the answer key and then we got started. We don’t test very often, so when AJ saw that there was both a pretest and a post test she was a little nervous. I gave her the pretest and she was overwhelmed. We hadn’t ever studied the oceans before so she didn’t know very many answers. She was frustrated, so we decided to skip the pretests for the rest of the units.

Then we watched the videos about oceanography. We watched them straight through. She loved the videos! They were entertaining, and full of information. After the video she filled out the video review worksheet.

Fun videos on visual learning systems

The next day we watched two of the short videos again and then did a few fun activities. She completed three different science experiments to learn about pressure, salinity and density, and temperature and density.

Learning about Ocean Properties

The following day we watched three different short videos again and then did a few experiments about waves.

Science Experiment about waves

The next week we watched the short video about the ocean floor again. After refreshing her memory she read about the ocean floor and then drew a diagram of it. She finished up the day with a vocabulary worksheet.

Ocean Floor diagram

 

On the final day of our oceanography study she did a reading comprehension worksheet about ocean animals. Then we went through all of the animations to make sure she remembered all of the key topics. Finally, she took the  post test. It was 20 questions, ten true and false questions and ten fill in the blank questions. She aced it!

Post Test Visual Learning System

The study was really interesting and in-depth. She had a lot of hands on fun and really seemed to grasp the concepts. After  our study on oceanography was over, we continued with the water theme and learned about freshwater. We explored a few other topics including climate, mapping, and atmosphere.  Each day was different and each topic had different student activities. Some topics had more hands on activities and others had more worksheets and graphing activities.Learning about Fresh Water

There is not a set sequence to follow when using this program. You can pick and choose what topic to learn about and even which type of science to study. The program is very easy to navigate, everything is laid out  and it is easy to find what you are looking for. There is a student log in where they have access to everything except the teachers guide and then a parent log in. I decided to just use the parent log in since I was doing the lessons with her.

What did we think?

Prior to finding Digital  Science Online we were just doing lapbooks based on different science topics because I couldn’t find a curriculum that I really liked. I have found one I love now! This was the perfect curriculum for AJ.  She learns really well from videos, and instead of supplementing with videos, the majority of the learning is taking place by watching the videos. The videos were well made and the narration was clear and easy to understand. I also love the fact that there is an offline component to the program. It includes some reading and writing, but not too much. AJ found the activities exciting, and I found that she was really retaining the information. The best part is that it is flexible and easy to customize to fit your learning. If you don’t like an activity, you can skip it. Want to add in a few extra science experiments that you found on Pinterest, go ahead. You can also search for a topic. If you are learning about fish and want to learn a little more, you can type “fish” into the search box and it will bring up any videos, animations, or photos on the topic. It really is flexible!

Graphs and worksheets

There were only two thing that I didn’t care for. First is that it is a secular based program, there are topics on evolution, and almost all of the geology topics talked about the earth being millions of years old. I didn’t find that to be too big of an issue though, it gave us a chance to reinforce why we believe what we believe.  Right now the list of science topics are in alphabetical order. I think that if they were grouped by topic instead (geology, weather, astronomy exec) it would be easier to see which topics went together.

Overall we love Digital science. We plan to continue to use it for the rest of this year and then next year as well. I do plan to add in a few library books on the topics we are studying just to add in a little bit more reading, but that wouldn’t be necessary. If you have a visual learner or a child who likes to watch videos, this may be the perfect science program for you. Take a look at the sample lessons and see what you think. It is really a good deal, and I would absolutly recommend it. One product, either the elementary (k-5) or secondary level (6-12) , can cover all of your students (up to 8) for a full year of science even if you want them to work on different topics. For homeschoolers the cost is $99.

You can connect with Visual Learning Systems on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Visual Learning Systems Review
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President’s Day Resources and Free Printable

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Last year one of our focuses was learning about the Presidents. The goal for our president study was for AJ to get a basic understanding of the significance of each president, learn a little about each one, and be able to name the presidents in the order that they served.

 

#Presidents

Over a period of two weeks AJ made a President Book. I found a few different printable notebooking pages online but I didn’t find one that I really liked so I decided to make my own. You can download it here. Just print off a sheet for each president you are studying.

Here are a few of the resources we used.

We checked out a lot of books from the library about the Presidents. A few were fairly dull and some were amazing. Here are our favorite books.

 

We love the DK Eyewitness books, and this one was perfect to supplement our president study. Most of the presidents have at least a page written about them and some had even more. The book we used didn’t have the clip-art CD but that would have been helpful when AJ was making her book.

 

While the Presidents were our main focus, we also touched on the First Ladies. They are an important part of history and we both found this book fascinating. There were so many wonderful pictures.

 

Another great book we used was Time for Kids: Presidents of the United States what we liked about this book was that it had a lot of fun facts about the presidents.The reading level was also a bit easier. Each of the books had enough different information that we didn’t get bored reading all three.

After AJ finished her book we used some President flashcards that we found at Target in the “Dollar Spot” I bought two sets and we played go-fish, war (Abraham Lincoln would win over George Washington since 16 is larger than 1), and memory. AJ had a blast and we both learned more about the presidents.

 


Throughout the year we learned a lot about Abraham Lincoln. One of our favorite videos was the Inspiring Heroes DVD. The video is only about 30 minutes long, but there is so much information delivered in that time. The video comes with a free 48 page coloring and activity book all about Abraham Lincoln. I was able to find the activity book online for free but I can no longer find it. You can purchase it from Nest Learning for under $2 and it is well worth the price. AJ enjoyed the workbook, but it is really geared for kids second to fourth grade in my opinion. There is a video about George Washington as well, but we haven’t watched it yet.

The best part about our study was trying to learn the Animaniacs President Song.

The song isn’t for everyone. It pokes fun of a few presidents and mentions how a few of the presidents drank. It also ends with the Clinton administration. AJ liked it and memorized a good portion of the song.

We downloaded a few apps to AJ’s Kindle Fire so she could practice even more. Our favorite was US Presidents.

 

The US Presidents is a matching game and every time you get a correct match you are told the President’s name and number. It was free when I posted this.
We do a lot of lapbooks and before AJ made her President’s Book we were going to use this free lapbook created by Heather from Marine Corps and Nomads. It has a lot of great information.
Overall we had a successful President Study. I hope you are able to use some of these resources to make your study a little bit better.

This post will be part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Round-up of President’s Day Resources. Check out what other Crew members are sharing. (This link will be live on 1-28-15)

Presidents Day Resources