Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - Getting the Wobble out of Tapestry of Grace!

It has been said that there's a '4 week haze' for newbies when using Tapestry of Grace.  I have to admit that though using this program has gotten easier, we did experience some of that 'haze' this time around.  But, being able to teach  my children the same time period at the same time affords me to say, "I wouldn't trade it for anything!"


I attribute this 'haze' to the training of my two oldest (grades 7 and 10) in scheduling their own weeks instead of me writing it all out for them and then making sure they do what they are supposed to every day.  To help teach independence, we've moved to having them write out their assignments at the beginning of the week and then giving them space to get it done by Friday afternoon's discussion meeting.  This of course is also helping to see when they might need to say 'uncle' if they are having problems .... and .... to do so before Friday's meeting.

It's been a good learning experience all around!

So, during the past few weeks I've concentrated in launching my two oldest plus had some time when we were out of town.  Good thing books are so portable!

Below are the combined reading books for my Dialectic (typically Junior High) and Rhetoric (typically High School) students.


The Southern Renaissance
The Southern Renaissance
My high schooler also read The Prince by Machiavelli, Le Morte d'Arthur by Mallory and Everyman by Cawley.  The movie, The Agony and The Ecstasy was a perfect viewing choice!


Age of Exploration:  Early Explorers & Columbus
Age of Exploration:  Early Explorers & Columbus
My high schooler also read Don Quixote




Age of Exploration:  Later Explorers 
Age of Exploration:  Later Explorers




Spanish Dominion in the New World: Aztecs and Incas
Spanish Dominion in the New World: Aztecs and Incas





The Northern Renaissance:  Erasmus
 The Northern Renaissance:  Erasmus
My high schooler read "Fierce Wars and Faithful Lovers" by Spenser.  Phew!  Thank goodness for some really good summary notes provided by TOG.  I admit, this one gave me a run for the money too!



 The Protestant Reformation:  Martin Luther and the German States
The Protestant Reformation:  Martin Luther and the German States
Learned A LOT about Luther we didn't know!


In other news, my kids had a great time catching up with family during a 'working vacation'.  My kids saw native wildlife such as garter snakes, blooming tulips and SNOW!






And, meet the newest member of our family.  This is a rescue kitty from our local pet refuge center!  Name forthcoming!



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pop-Up & Read Tower of Babel Review!

Our first impression of  Pop-Up and Read Tower of Babel written by Jon Taylor, was "WOW!  What a handsome book!" Cracking open the cover, we are treated to a beautiful pop-up scene!




Starting with Noah's post-flood sacrificial offering, the Tower of Babel follows scripture from Genesis 8:20 to Genesis 11:9 all in story-telling form.

From the website:



"What is Babel, what happened there, and why is it so important? Many kids don't know the answers to these questions as biblical knowledge is becoming less and less of a priority in people's lives. This fun format book is a great way to teach kids about the reality of the Babel story and its significance in their lives.



The full-color book explains how the different languages and "races" came about and is in unique format with one large pop-up that stays up as you turn the pages and read the story. The stunning artwork is both beautiful and realistic, as it is based on the actual worship towers that were built in ancient times. This fun tool is a great way to teach the reality of the biblical story."

The illustrations are wonderful and the explanations of the account are thorough without being too lofty for young ones.

Also included is the presentation of the Gospel and commentary on family groups and physical traits.


Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Tower of Babel Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Downloadable Summer Events Calendar !


Looking for fun things to do and celebrate during the Summer months?



Check out the Summer Events Calendar from School Stickers and download a copy for yourself! 


Downloadable Summer Events Calendar


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Making our Own Planners for Tapestry of Grace Scheduling

For those of you who don't know, we've come back to Tapestry of Grace after taking a year off.  The main reason we left was in this season of child rearing I needed a prescheduled curriculum.  The big problem was that we all missed the depth of learning AND learning together that we had been doing for years prior.

So, I set out to pre-plan the units well ahead of time to insure that this year we'd be successful.  You can  read more about our journey here:



About a month ago I was ecstatic to review The Ultimate Student Planners from Apologia.  These planners are simply gorgeous, but, unfortunately would not work for our homeschool due to the sheer number of books my oldest two (7th and 10th grade) read per week.

So....I had to revert back to a schedule that I found within one of the Tapestry of Grace Yahoo Groups I belong to.  But this year, for maximum flexibility I left the subjects blank.  This way, each of my 'homemade planners' could be easily tailored to each child no matter what a given week threw at us.


Tapestry of Grace Planner
Tapestry of Grace Planner

The top section of this planner is used for history and literature reading, plus any map work that needs to be done.  I love the layout because it allows the student to write in what they have read for a given day.  Plus it's easy to see what they have left to do.  I also like the "weekend" slots because sometimes life happens and school is carried past the traditional 5 days.

The bottom section is for all other subjects and activities.

The biggest blessing this year is that I am training my oldest two (7th and 10th grades) to set their own schedule.  Oh, they still have deadlines!  But Mom isn't constantly peering over their shoulders.  

How it works:
At the beginning of each week, I give my two oldest children that week's section of our Tapestry of Grace Classic curriculum.  They write down the books that need to be read in their *homemade* planner and then consult their unit guides.  These contain maps, handouts and specific reading objectives and are tailored to the level of the program they are working.  (Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic or Rhetoric) Then, getting the work completed by Friday afternoon's discussion meeting is up to them.




Color coded planner and unit guides for Tapestry of Grace
Color coded planner (per child) AND Unit Guides


Color coded planner and unit guides for Tapestry of Grace
Having a combind makes using Tapestry of Grace easier! (Though it's perfectly acceptable to use a 3-ring binder .)


Tune in Friday when I share how the first few weeks of this new Tapestry of Grace season has been going in our Homeschool Circus!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Home School Grades Review




Create professional looking grade reports and high school transcripts within minutes with My Home School Grades.  This program is probably the easiest, most flexible grade keeping tool you'll ever use!

After signing up for an account, with a click of the mouse, add your students, add their classes and extra curriculum activities.  There's even an option to recreate past grades for a given student.

Now here's the fabulous part - the totally customizable screen in the set up area.  My Home School Grades has a listing of some popular curricula in the 'Choose Publisher' pull down menu.  If yours isn't on the list, just  choose 'other'.


For example, we are Math-u-See users and this curriculum was listed in the pull down screen.  Clicking on this option and then the corresponding level will bring you to an input screen with areas for all lessons, tests and even applicable honors pages.  But what if you didn't do every lesson or skipped around in the book?  No sweat!  Just erase that particular line.  "Poof!"  It's that easy!




Another great feature is the flexible grading area.  Besides the pass/fail feature, My Home School Grades recognizes letter grades, percentages AND fractional grades.  Here's the kicker - you DON'T have to chose how you input them upfront.  So, if Johnny scored an 85% on one sheet and the next one an 18/20, you just enter it without converting the score!


Here's a look at a simple final grade screen for my 4th grader using pass/fail for the grading system:





This is how my 9th grader's classes and activities look after I have inputted all the necessary information:



My 9th Grader's Activities section:



Here's a look at my 9th Grader's transcript.  My Home School Grades also offers you the ability to input classes for 1/4 - 4  credits plus choose yearly, semesters or quarterly and even dual enrollment!




Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed using My Home School Grades.  It truthfully is the easiest, most straightforward grade tracking / transcript making program I've ever used.  I can see how this revolutionary program will save many a homeschooling parent time and sanity when it comes to grade reporting!

A Lifetime Membership is just $49.99 and is well worth it!  But, don't take my word for it, click HERE to try a 14 day free trial for yourself!

Check out what other Mosaic Reviewers are saying about this product .




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Free Printables to Help With Your Planning Needs!

It's that time of the year again!  Time to brain storm, get organized and start planning the next school year.

Here are some great calendars and printables for your homeschooling needs from Free Printable Online.  While you are visiting their website, don't forget to sign up for the free newsletter!


Some calendar styles include:



Elephant Calendar For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today!
For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today! 



For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today!
For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today! 



For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today!
For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today! 





And, choose from a wide variety of other printables:



For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today!
For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today! 



For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today!
For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today! 




For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today!
For more free printables, ranging from worksheets and lesson plans, to cards, calendars, invitations, crafts, coupons, coloring pages, music, activities and more, please check out www.freeprintableonline.com today! 











Monday, May 20, 2013

For You They Signed Character Concepts Curriculum

For You They Signed is a unique character building curriculum from The Learning Parent.  Author Marilyn Boyer has combined her wonderful book of the same name with flash cards in order to help teach and reinforce the character qualities of our founding fathers to your highschooler.


Quite some time ago I had the pleasure of reviewing For You They Signed:
The Spiritual Heritage of Those Who Shaped Our Nation, which details each of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.  (Please read my in-depth book review HERE!).  This absolutely fascinating book can easily stand alone but is made that much better with the combination of the downloadable ebook and flash cards.



"Curriculum comes with a set of flashcards- one for each of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Your young person will learn what each signer looked like, as well as which character quality his life exemplified and a Bible verse to learn as well. What a great way to retain information you are learning in For You They Signed!"



This year we will be studying Early American History in depth with our 10th, 7th and 4/5th graders.  I can not wait to revisit this time period using this curriculum as my 10th grader's bible study/character building spine.  Though the younger kids will be listening too, I know for my oldest, it's going to be a fantastic year!



Check out a sample HERE.


Disclaimer:
I received a set of flash cards free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

South Africa - You Can Help Change Lives Too!

For over a year, my big-hearted nephew Sean has been working as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural South Africa.  He has poured his heart into the youth of that area working to make positive, lasting changes in their lives.

http://halambanisciencecamp.blogspot.com/



His latest endeavor is a week's long science camp in his village of Ha-Lambani for 70 fifth graders.  Many of these children have little to no hope of a bright future.



Sean writes, " These kids have never done a science experiment, been in a science lab or have had any quality time spent on exploring their world through the sciences."

What to help?

Check out more about what Sean is doing and how your donation - which will buy a shirt for YOU and one of the children attending science camp - can help.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Girls of American History: American Revolution / Felicity Review





Last school year we studied Modern American History. In addition to learning the facts of that era, I coupled my daughter's history/literature learning with the American Girls from the 1900's. It was a year filled with the fun of historical literature and so many hands on crafts and time period learning experiences. Though it may not have been the usual method of learning, it was certainly memorable!

Through various friends, used curriculum sales and the internet, I've wound up with quite a collection of American Girl  paraphernalia from paper dolls, craft and recipe books. Oh, and don't forget all the books giving you a glimpse of life during that time period!



Looking ahead to this coming year, I choose Girls of American History Unit: American Revolution / Felicity to review. The Felicity set takes place in Colonial times circa 1774.





These guides from Girls of American History help you piece the pieces together in order to get the most out of your study! They currently have Kaya, Josephina, Felicity, Kirsten, Addy, Molly and Kit.


As a homeschool mom to five kids, Author Justine Gamble created this series to accommodate various learning styles and abilities. She follows the pattern of "Read it, Hear it, See it, Write it and Do it."


Each flexible unit includes a weekly schedule, list of books, craft resources, field trip ideas, party ideas and more! This isn't an total curriculum, but a VERY useful guide to "add depth, interest, interaction, crafts and a historical perspective into a particular time period."


To complete our study, we need a few of the regular 6 book American Girl set.  Fortunately, these are easily found at most libraries. Using the neat included schedule, I can easily plan on covering one book a week from the series PLUS at least one time period craft. Craft suggestions include: cross stitch, clay marbles, fancy folding fans, billboquet and more. We will also study the 13 original colonies, George & Martha Washington, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin and other historical figures. Extra reading, character studies, and a link to lapbook templates are also included.


I am very satisfied with the content and layout of this guide. Since it will fit in perfectly with our Tapestry of Grace Year 2 curriculum, I will be saving this until we hit the Revolutionary War time period. I will also be blogging about Felicity, crafts made and the use of this guide in action in our "Weekly Wrap Ups".

Check out samples of the Kaya and Josephina guides HERE.

Disclaimer:

I received a copy of this guide free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Waterproof Bible Review

It's an amphibian...It's a Bible.......no, wait!  It's an amphibious Bible!!

What?

What's an amphibious Bible?

It's a Bible made of synthetic pages that remain waterproof even under the most moist conditions!

The Waterproof Bible from Bardin & Marsee Publishing is uniquely made to stay looking spotless and new even after reading on the beach, running through the rain using it as an umbrella or holding a wiggly toddler on your lap while drinking a filled-to-the-brim cup of coffee during quiet time.  You can even feel the difference with the pages themselves.  Instead of the crinkly, lightweight paper of most Bibles, the Waterproof Bible's pages feel smooth, glossy and almost slippery.

The frog has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible.  It's just an amphibious prop! 


I was blessed with a copy of the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs in the King James translation.  It's so nice to have a Bible that I can throw into my very crowded purse or tote bag.  I wish I would have had this type of Bible years ago as I would have saved quite a few Bibles and fretted over spills far less!



Originally I had planned to try this Bible out at the beach.  But, plans don't always turn out.  So, turning to the bathroom sink, I gave those wonderful pages a waterproof test.


Proof that water is spilling over the pages!



The bible on the same page immediately after being drowned in water.



As you can plainly see, the pages are not ruined or stuck together.  The printing is still crystal clear.



One thing is for sure, this is going on my 'gifts to give' list for birthdays and Christmas!!!

Check out what other Mosaic Reviewers are saying about the Waterproof Bible!









Monday, May 6, 2013

Ooka Island Review

Ooka Island is a learn to read online game for 3-7 year olds .

Hmmmm..... sounds interesting!



From their website:  "The Ooka Island Learn-to-Read Adventure offers adaptive instruction, a narrated e-Reader, and real-time progress reports. Young learners play and learn in a safe, 3D virtual world and take part in a heroic quest!
The program features an adaptive learning algorithm called READirectTM and ensures skill mastery in the five foundations of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Here is the Ooka-mazing news!

5 year olds are breaking into reading after just 8 hours

4 year olds are breaking into reading after 13 hours

Children that complete the program are reading at the 2nd Grade level"

Pricing varies from:

$19.95/monthly,  $99.95/Semi-Annual, $149.95/Annual for up to 4 Homeschool Students.

$12.95/monthly,  $69.95/Semi-Annual, $124.95/Annual for 1 Homeschool Student

And as a special for Homeschool Circus readers, save 30% by clicking through this link to order!

Our Experience:
Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of computer/online reading programs.  I guess I'm just old-school in that I'd much rather curl up with a real book and work through it with my emergent readers.  However, I'm always willing to try new things.

In our 'jaunt' through Ooka Island, we did see quite a few places: Alphabet Mountain, Cake Factory, Cave of Sounds,  Popcorn Factory and Bubbly Troubly seeing the variety of the five foundations displayed. 

The company does well in introducing letter and word sounds while encouraging the child to interact with the program.  I really liked that about every 20 minutes of game play, children visit the Popcorn Library where the e-books are kept. The chosen e-book is read two times followed by comprehension activities which are bright, interactive, and entertaining.  I also like that there's a wide reading range in the program so the child isn't 'done with it all' in a short time frame.

As a bonus, the ebooks used in the program are available to purchase AND parents can keep track of their child's progress in the Ooka Island Lighthouse.

Ooka Island was just ok. My 3 year old Nip Napper is a little young for this and would rather be on the move bringing joy and havoc to the world around him.  I think we will revisit this at a later time.

Check out what other Mosaic Reviewers are saying about Ooka Island!