For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Friday, September 18, 2015

Super Teacher Worksheets -TOS Review

I am sure as a homeschooler, like me you are always in search for a printable for something, especially for those extra practice needs. It seems that we always need an extra sheet for this or that subject.

Well, if you relate to what I am talking about, I have a product for you. One of our recent review item was an online printable gallery website: Super Teacher Worksheets. We were given a one year Individual Membership to their website.

Super Teacher Worksheets is an online bank of printables that covers a wide array of subjects. Basically it is a site full of homeschool printable and printables for teachers, for much of your teaching needs. It provides:

  • Math worksheets
  • Logic worksheets
  • Grammar worksheets
  • Vocabulary worksheets
  • Brain Teasers and Puzzles printables
  • Reading and Writing worksheets, which cover reading comprehension activities
  • Phonics and Literacy activities
  • Handwriting worksheets
  • Spelling worksheets
  • Science worksheets
  • Social Studies worksheets which include maps
  • Pre-k and Kindergarten worksheets and activities
  • Activities for Holidays

On top of all these topics, Super Teacher Worksheets offers you a worksheet generator where you can make up your own printable that can use for these particular activities:
  • Math
  • Flashcards
  • Bingo cards
  • Quizzes with choices of multiple choice questions, matching, and fill in the blanks

Another section of Super Teacher Worksheets worth mentioning is their Teacher's tool section. In there you can print printables for: Awards and certificates, music worksheets, lined paper, calendars for kids and much more.

As you can see this site has so much to offer. I only got to scratch the surface. Once we got our login I  started printing the worksheets I needed. For my youngest, I was looking for logic stuff, and found the brain teasers. So I printed them all and had him work on one a day. He actually enjoyed doing them. The nice things with these worksheets is that the answers are provided as well. No guess work. for my oldest I printed some of the Math worksheets as extra practice for some of his Math topics that he needs for which he needs practice. It is nice that the worksheets are grouped by topics and grades, making it easier to find what you are looking for.

The process of printing is very easy. No complicated trick. Click and print.

The site is very simple which makes it easy to navigate. Nothing flashy but efficiently laid out. There is even a search function, if you want to find it quicker.

I am looking forward to using the make your own worksheets part of the site for some of our subjects, and I will definitely use some of the grammar ones as well for reinforcement for my 5th grader son.

Super Teacher Worksheets is Avery useful too for any homeschooled or teacher. I am sure it will satisfies a lot of need for extra practice as well as classroom needs.

You can check Super Teacher Worksheets out and try some of their printables since they do have some of them available for free.

Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Stinky Kid Math - TOS Review

This year on the crew we have been blessed with a few Math curriculum for review, and as I mentioned before on this blog, I love trying out math curriculum. So, it came to no surprise that I gave the newest one offered a try. This new Math program comes from Stinky Kid Math, and the name of the product is Stinky Kid Math.

Yes, I know the name of this Math program is very catching and attention grabbing!

What is Stinky Kid Math? It is an online Math help program. The company specifically does not consider its program as a full Math curriculum but can certainly be used as one.

The goal of Stinky Kid Math is to help student master the concepts of Algebra and Geometry. The way they seek to do that is by teaching kids the why and how of Math, so that it can better stick in the mind of the students. They really try to make Math concepts clearer and accessible. As such, it is a perfect add on to any Math curriculum. This is like having a tutor at home.

Stinky Kid Math is made up of over 350 online videos featuring a live teacher with a blackboard. These videos are meant to be streamed, so an internet connection is needed to use the program.

The lessons are divided into three major sections:
Foundational Algebra
Complex Algebra

Each of these sections are in turn divided into sub-topics.

Each sub-topic is made up of  video lessons varying in number, a worksheet and a printable of what as covered in the lesson.

The teacher in the lessons is very personable. The lessons are shorts and to the point.

Two more add-ons that make this program pretty cool are:

  • A game section which contains a few games on some specific topics such as geometry, integers and graphing.
  • A colourful printable section of what is covered in the lessons all gather in a book.

I had my 5th grader give this curriculum a try as I wanted to know if he was ready for algebra. He worked on it everyday. We started from the beginning, since he had never done algebra before. He was able to do the beginning topics without any issues. He was able to review h basics of arithmetic and get his feet into pre-algebra (some concepts of which he did not know as yet). But because most of it as getting too new for him it got more and more difficult. This is why this program is best as a tutor, or reinforcement of concepts already covered somewhere else. That said, I think the way and pace at which the topics are presented, it is absolutely doable and manageable for any 6th grader and up.

What I love about the program:
  • It covers the topics systematically.
  • You can also jump around the topics as needed
  • The videos are not long, giving you time to process
  • The fact that they add practice worksheets
  • The site is easy to navigate and you can access the videos by them or individually through the bank of videos  all gathered on one page.

Stinky Kid math is a perfect Math tutor for strengthening your child's understanding of Algebra and Geometry concepts, such as graphing, exponents, roots, solving for x etc...

Do not forget to check out their extensive sample videos to get a feel of the program.

Stinky Kid Math Review

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Random 5 - Saturday Version

We are 2 weeks into September and summer is definitely over. After the burst of heat we had last week here in Toronto, I am glad for the cooler weather we are having now (though it also means starting to cover the neck back again).

Our school year started about a month ago. We only took July off, which got quite busy with church activities.

August was fluid, mix with school and outdoor activities.

Here are a few random 5 from the past month:

1. I harvested tomatoes from my first time ever at trying my hands at balcony garden. I also have peppers growing. Yay me!!!

2. In the first couple of weeks of back to school we finished up our year 1 of Tapestry of Grace, which we did not get to finish before our break in July.

3. This year I have enrolled Zach in an online co-op for our Tapestry of Grace curriculum (we are doing year 2). We have had 2 sessions, and so far he is enjoying it. I am glad it will help us keep on track, but that also means pushing him harder at completing his assignments on time.

4. I am really excited we got on the review of Phonetic Zoo from IEW. I have been wanting to try this curriculum for years. Keep an eye out for the review in a couple of months.

5. If you've never checked out Year Round Homeschooling, where I am the monthly History contributor every month, make sure to check out my  August post  4 Must Historical Fiction for your Ancient Times Studies. And while you are there, check out the Curriculum Round Up series we did in July.

Have a great week-end!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dig-It! Games: Roman Town - TOS Review

We live in an age where computer games are very prevalent in the life of kids. Technology has become a staple play item for a lot of children. This being the case, a company called Dig-It! Games decided to use this very means as an educational tools.

They created two History related educational games, one on Ancient Mayas, called Mayan Mysteries (computer game), and one on Ancient Rome, called Roman Town (ios app).

Members of the crew were offered choices between the two, and we decided to give Roman Town a try.

We did review, back in 2011, the Mayan Mysteries computer game, and the boys really enjoyed it, so I figured they would most likely enjoy playing another one from them. I picked Roman Town because we were just finishing our studies of the Romans (at the time of the review), I so figured it would be a nice way to continue the learning.

Roman Town is an educational ios app, best suited for middle school students. It features kids lost in an old roman town ruin. As these kids explore the ruins of the town, they are faced with puzzles to solve through which they accumulate clues that will help them catch a thief on the loose.

This educational game is a wonderful tool to help your kids in the areas of Critical thinking, Deduction skills and Comprehension skills. The main core of the game consists of over 35 puzzles to be solved. These include: code breakers, jigsaw puzzles, pipes, mazes, and matching games. The game is made up of different areas that need to be unlocked. There is a fair amount of reading to do as the game is meant as a real learning History tool, but nothing too overwhelming for a Middle schooler.

As you play the games you learn about a lot of aspects from roman life, such as
  • Roman hobbies
  • Roman food
  • Facts of Pompei
  • Roman warfare
  • Roman games 
  • Roman gods

All you need to play the game is to download it from the app store and you are set to go. This is an easy game to navigate through, even though the puzzles are not necessarily easy. It does demand thinking to get through the various parts of the games. The challenges get progressively harder as you advance through the game. 

The graphics of the games are very appealing, and the game itself entertaining. You want to get to the end and see the resolution.

The boys enjoyed playing with it during their free time, or when we were out somewhere and they did not have anything to do. They were not able to finish as yet, as they got stuck somewhere, but they are hopeful.

One cool feature of the game is that you can reset it, so that, once you completed it, you can redo it all over again. Never ending fun!

You can visit them on their social media to learn more about Dig It! Games. I am sure you will find something there your kids will most likely enjoy!
You Tube

Dig-It! Games Review

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Journeys into Classical Homeschooling - A Visit with Lisa

Our third installment of the Journeys into Classical Homeschooling series features Lisa from Golden Grasses.

I have been aware of classical education for decades and always equated it with great books. Our homeschool has always been literature and history rich but my understanding of classical as a pedagogy was really expanded and broadened by reading The Well Trained Mind 15 years ago and by meeting and hearing Leigh Bortiens speak, about 9 years ago. I went home from that meeting, read The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers, along with everything else I could get my hands on about classical education, and we haven’t looked back since.
We are currently in a Classical Conversations Community and will have our youngest two kids in Challenge this year; A and 1. In the past we have relied heavily on Memoria Press, Peace Hill Press, IEW, The Lost Tools of Writing, and lately Roman Roads Media, which has recently produced Old Western Culture, re-released The Grammar of Poetry and Intro and Intermediate Logic by Jim Nance. We also test products and write reviews and because of this are exposed to some great curriculum that we wouldn’t otherwise know about- this is how we found Spelling You See and Roman Roads Media- both of which have given us amazing tools to study and learn with!
The greatest challenges of Classical Education in our own homeschool has been trying to teach subject areas that I don’t have good or adequate training in. For instance, Latin and Logic, the hard sciences such as Physics and Chemistry, Algebra II and beyond. Now, with the rise of on-line classes and quality DVD materials, life has gotten much easier because we have Master teachers available to us regardless of where we live! That being said, you often get what you pay for and most on-line classes and DVD programs are not inexpensive. I have taught, tutored, traded, bartered and promoted products and classes, along with worked from home so that our homeschooling and family life can be as rich as possible. Working and homeschooling is a whole discussion in and of itself, but for this season in our lives (no small children at home, my kids know how to study and are motivated to be homeschooled, etc) it is working for our family.
What does classical look like in our day to day lives? My husband often leaves a bit later in the morning, so he regularly has the kids look at NASA web-sites Astronomy picture of the Day and other NASA happenings and discusses them in detail, along with politics, and other news that he comes across in Biblical Archeology Review, Jerusalem and Christian Post, NPR, etc. NOAA (National Weather News) is also checked and discussed regularly and in great detail in our home.
We focus on skills in the morning and content in the afternoon. That means math, science, memory work, grammar happen in the morning. Afternoons included Bible, literature, history, writing, etc. This coming year will be a quite different schedule wise as we’ll have weekly assignments due with CC Challenge. We have been in co-ops and class-days in the past with homework due, so this won’t be a huge change, but the volume of work due will be different.
We follow a fairly standard course of study in some regards; Math, Science, English, History, Language, etc. As classical educators what we study is probably different in that we often do more than one history or science program in a year and tend to do a broader range of history and literature studies. For instance, last year we finished reading Notgrass’ American History 2 volume set, ds read The History of the Ancient World for fun and we listened to The Greeks/ Old Western Culture by Roman Roads Media, in addition to memorizing a Timeline and history sentences with Classical Conversations.
We layered English as well, memorizing charts and definitions, studying grammar and diagramming, writing 20 papers, including a research paper and a 5 minute presentation with Essentials, studied Latin rules and memorized vocabulary, declensions and conjugations, read numerous books on our own and out-loud, participated in a week long Shakespeare Camp, where the kids memorized and performed a full length Shakespeare play, as well as participated in Drama Camp and Festival of One Act plays along with the 1- day speech camp through TeenPact.
While it might seem like we are beating our kids to death with curriculum, this is hardly the case. In some ways, living in the country makes our lives easier in that when we are home, we have few distractions and have the time to get a lot of things done.
Additionally, the kids spend a fair amount of time drawing, watching DVD’s, listening and reading great books (which includes everything from Homer to Calvin and Hobbes), creating and building, cooking and cleaning, taking walks, working out,  going to church and park days with friends.
Classical Education has been a great resource and blessing in our lives as it has simplified our curriculum choices and as a result, our expenditures. It has given us a practical paradigm for academically accomplishing First Things First, providing the time, inclination and freedom to enjoy both the challenging and the care-free.

Lisa Nehring classically educates her youngest two children on the Great Plains, having homeschooled for 24 years and graduating her three oldest. She and her husband frequently speak to groups about education, parenting and marriage and Lisa blogs about education, homeschooling, curriculum reviews and faith at her blog: Golden Grasses.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Journeys into Classical Homeschooling - A Visit with Beth

Next up in my  series on Journeys into Homeschooling, we have Beth from As He Leads Is Joy  talking to us about Classical Homeschooling at her house.

This fall I will begin my 7th year homeschooling. I have two children. My son who was adopted from Eastern Europe when he was 7. He is now 14 and beginning high school work. My daughter just turned 11 and has Down Syndrome. My daughter was born in Asia. My husband and I are both from America but met in Asia. We lived in Asia for a number of years and now we are living in England. We are missionaries working with Chinese students in England. 

I was impressed and intrigued when I listened to the things that my friend's son who was just a few years older than my son had learned in Classical Conversations (CC). I thought that would be a great foundation for my own son. My husband has said that he wished he had a classical education. I attended a CC meeting and the big question in my mind was what to do with my daughter. She has Down Syndrome and was 7 years old at that time. Oh, mom of little faith in what her daughter could do. We decided to sign up. My son was with a group of boys and my daughter a group of 6-7 year old girls who included her. Both children learned so much that year. That changed my thinking and methods.

I began to read and research the classical method and so much of that made matched with the goals of our children. Some of the aspects of classical education that are values in our education are a chronological approach to history, an emphasis on grammar and Latin, and in some ways the simple joy of learning.
We have been enjoying Mystery of History. I am thrilled that Volume 4 was completed in time for us just to continue right along using that for history. We also review our timeline cards from our CC days. When we did CC Miss K loved the timeline, she would get up in front and knew the motions. Our campus gave her a special award, Timeline Master. 
My son has began First Form Latin last year. I just made the realization that I need to be a bit more involved in his learning and we are pausing and reviewing and drilling a bit more. My goal for him is that he will finish First Form and Second Form. I love just about anything from Memoria Press.

My son discovered that he enjoyed diagramming sentences. That is a skill to retain and develop. We have been using Analytical Grammar. Teaching writing has been a challenge for me. He did a year of IEW when we were in CC and in a classroom that was great. We tried it just the two of us and it was difficult. I discovered Memoria Press has a writing program and so three years ago we began with Classical Composition Fable Stage. That has been a great program for us. This year we will be using Classical Composition III: Chreia/Maxim. I just saw that they have DVD's for this and I might order those just for some help. We also do some study of Latin and Greek roots. 

As we begin high school level math and science, we will use DIVE CD's for those. That is new for us. 
Because of my daughter's special needs we adapt things for her. She follows along in history. I give her a mix of classical learning though it might not look like it all the time. We just continue with her learning where she is at.

The challenges that we face in our Classical education are not necessarily based on the classical aspect. We are following the American program as far as high school graduation. We have met other home education families here but they are following the British system so we are limited in the classes that we can do together. It really was helpful when we were in a group. 

I am enjoying our short summer break. I love planning all the new ways that we will do things for the autumn. I enjoy pulling books out and writing plans. One of the challenges is doing what we planned. I know that as I cleaned up the learning area and discovered last year's goals and realised that we didn't read as many read aloud as I wanted or go on as many outings. I guess the challenge is doing all the things I want to do and plan to do. There are so many things I would like to do but the reality is it is not all going to get down but I want to give my children a thirst for learning.
We usually begin our day with our together time. I have been assigning an art project or drawing at the beginning and that way the children have something to do while I read Bible and history. That has worked great and I want to continue that though we will be doing that based on art history. I might just plan an outing to the cave drawings that are two hours south of here. We will do some Latin and Greek roots then do individual things. My son and I spend some time doing Latin. I then spend time with my daughter who needs individual attention and my son works on his things independently.
This is a classical approach that works for our family. 

Beth currently lives in England after having lived in Asia. They are missionaries reaching Chinese students and scholars. She keeps busy homeschooling her two children, cooking meals, and other things around the house. She dreams of having time to read and quilt or just peace and quiet. You can read about all her adventures at As He Leads Is Joy.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back to School Blog Hop - Planing your Daily Routine

I am back on day five of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop. Today I will take a look at planning your daily routine.

So once you have a general idea of what your year will look like (in broad strokes) from our post on Wednesday about Planning Your Homeschool Year, you can then turn to planning a daily routine to get through your weekly workload.

First step is to figure out how many times a week you will do every subjects you have planned. For example this what our week looks like when it comes to the distribution of subjects throughout the week:

One we get that figured out, we distribute the work load for each subject throughout the week. Using a form like this one comes in very handy for that work.

Next, we come to our daily routine.

I am not a early riser, so school does not start early here. The earliest would be 10:00am. My kids are quite independent now though, and often start their easy subjects without me.

For my oldest (11 1/2) that would be one or more of those:
Duolingo (online)
Unlock Math (online)
Grammar town practice sentences
For my youngest (9 1/2), it would be one of those:
Latin (Latin for Children A)
Logic (printed from SuperTeachers Worksheet - up coming review)

I do not therefore have a time based daily schedule. We tried and it does not work for us. Instead what I do is mark on a piece of paper what needs to be done that day and they simply check it off. This has been what works for us. The form that this takes has varied over the years but this system is the best one for us.

Last year we successfully used a student logbook system we got to review, and before that, used a self-made check box system.

 This year I decided to go simple and use a notebook system wherein I just write all that needs to be done that day.

The way it works is that they just do their subjects in the order they want, calling me when they need me. With that system, they are done when everything is ticked off, or I decide for some reason, that a certain subject originally planned for the day is not going to be done that day.

With this system I am a cheerleader, spurring them on to keep working. My youngest is very motivated, so he always finishes in a good reasonable amount of time. My oldest, on the other hand, tends to get distracted a lot by his own interests, and needs more of my supervision. That said, he has shown great progress in the last year, so I just keep challenging him and put the responsibility on him to complete his work, whatever time it is.

And this is how we manage our school day. Some days everything gets done, and some days are crazy. This is the homeschool life!

Day 1: Setting Goals for Your Homeschool
Day 2: First Day Traditions
Day 3: Planning the Homeschool Year

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop - Planning the School Year

Welcome to day three of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop. Today we are looking at planning the school year.

If you have followed my blog for any period of time, you would have known that I am not a big planner. But over the years, I have grown to love planning and see the benefits of it.

So how do I go about it?

I gather my planning sheets.

I am a planner hoarder. You should see my homeschool file on my computer, I have dozens of printable planners. The funny thing is that I always end up making up my own.

I prefer planners that allow me to plan all my subjects weekly. This year I created one that I really like. All of the other ones I like usually did not allow for me to see all of the subjects at once.

With this form I have all my subjects all at once for any given weeks. Unfortunately I had to use two sheets. I would prefer to have them one next to each other but decided to work with it and put them one under each other.

Under each week I mark the week number and the date, for example Week 1 / Aug 3-7 etc...

I also prepare a weekly planning sheet which I use for some curriculum and a weekly planning sheet in which I write what subjects are done when. (The one on the right is from Little Learning Lovies and the one on the left I can't remember).

Gather your curriculum

It is usually a good idea to have all your curriculum together before starting planning, but I know it does not always happen. If not, try to have as many as you can. I have one curriculum that I am still waiting on, but I have used them before so I am very familiar with it and know how many lessons there are.

Print a at a glance year calendar. 

I love the one from Sarah from My Joy Filled Life (scroll to the bottom of page for the free printable). With this calendar I decide when to start school and mark off the holidays such as Christmas, Easter, our vacation, which is usually sometimes in the fall, and any co-op days.

Once this is all set I start my planning. We school four days a week so that we have the day off when dad is off, which is Thursday. We school Monday-Wednesday and Friday. Also, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are disrupted days because  both my sons have music lessons on each of these days respectively.

So, with that in mind, I plan my curriculum. I take each of my curriculum, one at the time and check the table of content, and the length of the lessons, to figure out how long it will take us to get through it. This is a rough estimate. Then I plug it in my year at a glance planning sheet (mentioned above). I end up with something like this:

This becomes my spine planner for all other planning. Some curriculum I write pages, some others I just write the chapters or lesson numbers, sometimes all of the above. As the weeks progress I adjust where and when need be.

The reason why I want to have it all done and at a glance is that I can better appreciate the amount of work for each week. This is especially important as I tend to overload the kids. With this method I can see if I am planning too much for them to do for any given week, and try to spread it out better over the year, or do better combinations of subjects. Basically I can better see how to balance all of the work I am planning to have the work get through.

And this is, in a nutshell, how I plan our year.

Don't forget to stop by the crew page to check out the giveaway, as well as read from the other bloggers participating in this year's Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!

In case you missed my first 2 days:

Day 1: Setting Goals for Your Homeschool
Day 2: First Day Traditions
Day 5: Planning Your Daily Routine
Write Through the Bible Junior
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