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Aug 16, 2014

Quilt - Ride a Train!

Mal's quilt is new this year.  Beepa (Grandma) of the Forest made it for his birthday.  He loves it so much.  Trains are one of his all time favorite things in the world.  This baby is red gingham with a central panel of a diesel and a steam train.  The diesel has a little plate on the front where Wendy quilted "MAL" for him.  She quilted everything by hand.  She puts an amazing amount of time into her quilts.  Above and below the panel, are two rows of triangles.  I don't know what the pattern is called.  I googled it and didn't see a single quilt with just rows like this.  If you know of a name for it I'd love to know.

Aug 13, 2014

Week in Review ~ 7/13/14

(I want to win, too!)

    In my life this week…
Beepa (aka Grandma) Char headed home on Monday.  Tuesday, I took the yahoos to Saratoga Springs (the halfway mark to "back home") to pick up Beepa of the Forest and bring her back home with us.  Thursday, Poppa of the Forest came up to stay a couple days and took Beepa back home on Saturday.

Joined us at school a few days this week.  He is very distracting generally, so I wasn't sure how it would go.  He kept busy counting pompoms and the punks generally kept on task.  Merrick mostly still naps and at least rests, so I won't have to worry about this too much.  I do want to add some morning school at some point.

Decided to kick up his pancake cooking a notch.  He looked through a kids' cookbook and found these bunnies.

Is getting excited to finally get the treehouse put together.  It won't be long now!

    What we're reading... 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I'm reading
Hiking Through 

    In the yard... 
We've kept the chickens in the old enclosed garden so they wouldn't dig up the garden in the raised beds.  Now that that garden is doing well, we let them out.  Until I happened to glance at them while I was mowing.  They were literally leaping into the air and eating my blueberries.  They stripped one entire bush!  Now they're back to "free ranging" in the enclosed area.

Micah got stung while mowing.  I haven't decided if he over-reacted or not.  He burned up a bit of yard and a shrub.   

    Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
The single lane bridge is being replaced.  It's one of two ways we can get to town.  I drove to town one day only to discover the other bridge into town was a single lane for repairs.  I'm not sure who decided to repair both bridges at once, but I didn't think it was the best plan of action.

    My kiddos favorite thing this week was…
Surprise fun day for the boys. Woke them up and loaded them into the car. Drove to Saratoga Springs for lunch at McDonald's. They have a play place. The punks thought that was the surprise.
My kids are in there.  Somewhere.

Then Beepa and Poppa of the Forest showed up. Their reactions were priceless. Then they found out we were bringing Grandma home with us. But first, I had one more surprise. We stopped at Railroads on Parade! It was a terrific miniature RR display. I highly recommend it if you are in the Saratoga Springs/ Lake George region of NY.

The displays included four seasons, cities, state fairs, and a 50s setup that included a diner and a drive-in, where High Noon was playing.  The whole place cycled through day and night every fifteen minutes or so.  Every "night" the movie would start and go off when the lights came back on.

We even saw Thomas the Tank Engine.  The folks at ROP have a scavenger hunt list. 

I really liked this cross section of a city street.

    This week's reviews... 
Schoolhouse Review Crew's HomeSchoolPiano review 

Aug 6, 2014

Week in Review 7/6/14

Pooped on the potty!  (Hey, it's exciting to me.)

    What I am up to…

Mom visited this week.
...We did some shopping.  I had to laugh at the J.K. Rowling sign.  If she uses a pseudonym, isn't that sort of secretive?  Why use one and then have the author's real name on the sign larger than the fake name?  *shrug*  Love me some Grumpy Cat.  The boys figured out how the drinking bird worked pretty quickly.  <3 br="">

... I took her out for frozen yogurt at Yogurt City.  Of course it was healthy.  That's low-fat granola or something.

...We had an iced tea party.  It was a gorgeous day.  A friend came over and the boys got dressed nicely.  They got to practice manners and we all ate yummy treats.

    What Dad is up to...
Micah pranked Mal and Xav.  They have a lullaby CD they have listened to since Mal was an infant.  Dad had the forethought to save the songs on his computer in case the CD got ruined.  Well, that has happened a couple of times in the 9+ years we've had it.  We finally watched The Lego Movie last week.  Micah enjoys belting out "everything is awesome" at random times to aggravate Xav.  This week, he recorded a special version of the lullaby CD with Everything is Awesome in track three.  Then we stood outside their bedroom, ears pressed to the wall... listening.  

Xav:  "Daaaaaaad!"  He rushes to the door and finds us standing there.  "I knew you did it!  Only *you* have the ability to do such a thing!   

    This week's reviews... 
Schoolhouse Review Crew's Moving Beyond the Page (including my own)
Schoolhouse Review Crew's WriteShop (including my own)
Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring

Mathletics ~ A 3P Learning Review

Mathletics Online Math Review

An international online educational innovator, 3P Learning is the home of Reading Eggs which has been instrumental in teaching Xavier how to read.  Both boys tested out of the Reading Eggs partner site, Mathseeds back when it was new.  They loved it and wanted to subscribe even though it was below their abilities.  I wanted them to be able to play fun, educational math games online, so the chance to review Mathletics online math came along at a great time for us.  I was happy to volunteer them for this curriculum.

Over 4,000,000 students access Mathletics through public, private, 
and homeschools around the world.

The first thing I want to get right out of the way.  This site is HUGE, like unbelievably so.  I will not be able to tell you everything from this site in this one review.  Why?  Well, we only did second grade and it was so in depth there is just no way I could tell you about everything that is available from K-12 grade.  I highly recommend gong to the other Schoolhouse Crew Reviews and checking the linky for information about the grade(s) in which you are interested.

I was sent several PDF files with instructions and need to know info about Mathletics.  The first was a Welcome to the Family Guide which showed me how to set up the parent account and manage the student accounts.  Another Mathletics guide was an instructional manual for the primary student console/control panel.  Here they learn basics like logging in, setting up their avatars, and all about earning points and gold bars.  All of the most important parts of the console are explained and illustrated.

After logging in and setting up accounts for Mal and Xav, I needed to select a grade and course for them.  In the US, for grade two the options for a course were
  • Common Core State Standards (which is selected by default) 
  • CA
  • DoDEA
  • FL
  • IL
  • VA
  • WA state
There may have been a few more, but my head was swimming from all of those options.  I had no idea what to choose.  Whatever I chose seems pretty difficult for the beginning of second grade (to my mind anyway), but I don't dare change it since you are allowed to make up to six changes per year.  I need to ask around a bit and see if I even want to change it.  I'd guess that those courses mean way more to public school teachers than to a homeschool family.  We are working our way through things and just trying to get concepts down. 

You can select easier or harder buttons on individual activities without changing the grade.  They will show similar content about one year behind or ahead.  There is also a ? button to select for assistance if you are stuck.  This help section walks you through the steps to solve every type of problem on this entire site.

Once we were chugging along, we accessed some of the printable workbooks that are available.  There are over twenty student workbooks for second grade alone.  Add in the teacher's answer booklets and assessments, and you have one incredible workbook curriculum.  Sorry, kids. You can't earn gold bars for those pages!

A workbook page, a help screen, and Monkey Math from the Problem Solving section.
Rainforest maths is a colorful extension of Mathletics.  Grades K-6 have access.  Rainforest Maths covers numbers, algebra, space, and measurement at grade appropriate levels using fun, jungle critters.  Xav had to start learning division the other day solely because of the dragons eating the bugs.

Second grade homepage
Other nice additions include the Animated Math Dictionary.  Here, under the Concept Search section, we can look up any concept and see an example drawn or written on the screen.  At the primary level are the Times Tables Songs.  Xav loves to sing.  These will be super helpful for him.  I think Mal will also benefit from hearing them all the time!  Another part of the Problem Solving section has a fun area lab.  Xav liked this one a lot.  There are tons of activities in that section.

Animated Dictionary, Times Tables Toons, Area Lab
Concept search is another alphabetical math search engine.  I liked this one because it showed several ways to say/do the same thing.  The 24-hour clock showed the time in digital, analog, and 24-hour display.  For "more than" you could click four buttons illustrating more than, less than, most, and least.

More than and the 24-hour clock.

We downloaded the Mathletics student app onto our Kindle Fire.  Mal used the app more frequently while Xavier used the laptop.  A few times, we would select an activity and get a message that the activity was not available on mobile.  Once, all three of the bars I had assigned to Mal had the message.  That meant he could not go further because assignments have to be completed before anything else.  I needed to log into the teacher/parent account and edit the tasks I had assigned to him so he could complete things, then I logged back out and logged Xav back into the laptop.  Other than that, we had very little trouble using the Mathletics app.  I do love having two ways for them to do math, so no one had to be waiting for their turn to use Mathletics.

Back when I set up the accounts, I selected the box "email weekly report" and I receive one for each boy every week.  A lot of information is included in this report.  I can see how many times they logged in, the total time spent, and points earned.  A Did you know? section offers helps you might find interesting.  I can also see how many gold bars were earned, what activities he did, and how he scored on each one of them.  I was even able to see when Xavier had logged in and monkeyed around while I had Language Arts with Malachi.

How many times logged in, time spent on the site, points and certificates, activities with grades, and how many precious gold bars.

Mathletics is intended as a supplement, but I think with all of the workbooks, extra sections, and the ability to change grades when needed, you could get a complete math education, at least in the primary grades.

Age: K-12
Price: $59


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Aug 2, 2014

Church Lady Quilt

This lap quilt sized creation was made for Xavier by the ladies at the little church down the road.  He still keeps it on his bed and often uses it.  It's super bright and funky and he loves it.  He especially loves that his name is on it.

Aug 1, 2014

Hewitt Homeschool: Lightning Lit Grade 1 Review

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

In 1983, the Hewitt Research Foundation's focus shifted to the family unit.  The foundation was begun in 1964 by Carl Hewitt and author Dr. Raymond Moore who wrote several books on education, including Better Late Than Early.  Hewitt Homeschooling currently provides homeschoolers with services, testing (PASS test), and curriculum.  I had been looking into various standardized testing options for the boys when I first learned of Hewitt Homeschooling.  When the Schoolhouse Review Crew offered the opportunity to review one of Hewitt's offerings, I was happy to select Lightning Literature & Composition Grade 1 Student Workbook for Xavier and the Lightning Literature & Composition Grade 1 Teacher's Guide.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

I loved Lightning Lit the second I saw it.  It's gorgeous.  And purple.  Though I don't suggest choosing your home education materials based on their covers!  This literature based curriculum is full of fun books, some we own and have read often (Caps for Sale), some we borrowed from the library (Madeline), and some we actually let Levar Burton have read to us (Chickens Aren't the Only Ones).  That's right.  I couldn't get Chickens at the library, so I googled it and found an entire Reading Rainbow episode featuring that book!  Xav is just beginning to really be a good reader and he has had no trouble reading these classic selections to me.

Lightning Lit Grade 1 also uses Aesop's Fables for a little literary extra.  Once each week, you read a fable together and discuss the moral of the story.  Aesop's Fables for Children is available from Hewitt Homeschooling, if you'd like to purchase it there.  If you get it elsewhere, some fables may not be included, depending on the version you purchase, but you can read any of them in the place of a missing fable.

I received the grade 1 Teacher's Guide and Student Workbook.
    Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 Student Workbook
Soft-cover, 440 perforated, hole-punched, course pages followed by a student created dictionary, $49.95

The writing spaces in the workbook are 5/8".  That's a good size for the intended age, I think.  They don't really need anything bigger.  Colorful, clipart decorates the pages.  The variety of assignments is wonderful.  You'll even find work suitable for the non-writer.  If the writing required is too much, you are free to take dictation.  The composition focus is solely on learning the elements required to create quality writing.  Spelling is secondary, as an inability shouldn't interfere with brainstorming, compiling and writing big ideas.  Xav finds most of the activities fairly fun and he is learning most concepts quickly.

The only thing I did not like about this workbook is the glossy paper.  We couldn't use our erasable colored pencils or even just any old pencil.  Only a fairly good quality #2 pencil would work and the results in the book with that didn't wow me.  Writing in it is a bit frustrating for Xavier.

    Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 Teacher's Guide 
Soft-cover, 302 course pages followed by reproducible composition pages in three sizes, $29.95. 
A week of Lightning Lit looks like this.
  • Monday
  1. Literature - read the book and answer comprehension question.
  2. Grammar and Mechanics - introducing new ideas in bite size pieces for littles.
  3. Composition- decide on a topic to write about for the week.
  • Tuesday
  1. Literature - narration.  The child retells the story in his own words.
  2. Grammar and Mechanics - editing, using the concept learned on Monday.
  3. Composition - brainstorming ideas for the writing topic.
  4. Reading Journal - writing or dictating sentences about the story.
  • Wednesday
  1. Literature - read the book and answer inferential questions, requiring your student to think in a deeper manner about the story.
  2. Grammar and Mechanics - either sentence writing to introduce and practice structure, or an alphabet to fill in on a certain topic (colors, weather, etc.).
  3. Composition - write a rough draft.
  • Thursday
  1. Literature - An Aesop's fable.  This is unrelated to the weekly book and grammar topic, but is a very nice complimentary addition.
  2. Grammar - fill in the blank, short answer review.
  3. Composition - write rough draft.
  • Friday - this is a free day.  It can be used as a day off, for a catch up day, or for the Extending the Lesson ideas included in the Teacher's Guide.
Each lesson begins with a Week at a Glance page.  Here you will find a quick summary of the book for the week, the fable to read, optional materials, the grammar and mechanics topic(s),and the composition theme.

Interestingly enough, the Teacher's Guide did not have the same glossy paper as the student workbook.  While parents are less limited by writing utensils, this book actually has paper more like I would expect in the workbook.

We are having so much fun with Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1, I have applied to be a field tester for the new Lightning Lit Grade 3!  That one's for Malachi.

Lightning Lit is available for grades one, two (new this fall), seven, and eight, as well as several high school options, including Shakespeare.  Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 is listed for 1st grade, but was also just right for our rising 2nd grader.

Find Hewitt Homeschooling online.
Hewitt Homeschooling Website
Hewitt Blog
Google Plus

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Jul 28, 2014

Week in Review 6/29/14

Happy birthday, America!

    In my life this week…
Merrick is starting to realize letters make words.  
Telling me the letters on the Uno Moo! game.  "U. N. O. Mommy. M. O. O. I. spell mommy!"  He sees a random M on the milk jug and tells me it spells milk.  Now if he could just learn numbers and colors as easily as he has learned letters and sounds. 

Bushnell finally sent me a rebate that I applied for in January.  The time on the phone and digging out receipts and resubmitting forms was probably not worth $30.  Next time I buy a game camera or binoculars, they will be a different brand.  

    In our homeschool co-op this week... 
Picnic at the beach day.

Merrick didn't want to walk through the rain puddles left over from the downpour right before we got there.

    What we're reading... 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Skylark (the sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall)

I'm reading Hiking Through about Paul Stutzman's hike on the Appalachian Trail.

    Helpful tips or advice to share…

Don't be a jerk.

    Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
Iguanas church VBS closing was Sunday.  Some boys were wiped right out.

After that we ran to Walmart, then home.  To rest.  Zzzzzzzzz...

We went to the world's smallest parade.  It probably wasn't really, but it only lasted about 15 minutes.  The boys got the largest treat haul, they've ever had there!  Then we stopped at the tiny library and found a Lego book to be inspired by.

    What Micah is doing...
Still plugging away on the treehouse.  Bit by bit.

Micah got me this fantabulous cupcake for no apparent reason.  Yummo!

He also ran in a race Saturday morning before the parade.  He is too fast and we arrived too late to cheer him on. 

    We rewarded the kids this week by…

We don't often offer rewards, but this week each boy was allowed to choose a movie from the $5 bin.  After all the craziness that is VBS week x 2, they were well behaved and cooperative at both locations.  Mal chose Kung Fu Panda and Xav hemmed and hawed until Dad suggested The Lego Movie, decidedly not a $5 movie.  Now I get to hear that song all the time.  You know the one.  UGH.

    A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

A science calendar for July.  Yes, I know it's almost over by the time I'm posting this, but you can still use it!