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, July 31, 2015

Random 5 on Friday

It's been a while since my last random 5 on Friday post. Since then, a lot has happened but here are 5 random facts:
The Pebble Pond

1. We ended school the last week of June and took July off.

2. In July, we had our VBS and a few community outreach events with our church.

3. Hubby had a birthday which turned into a day trip to the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario.

4. I have been planning our next school year also during July, since we start back school next week already. You can see what we gonna be using in my Curriculum Choices post.

5. I downloaded Windows 10 today and so far I am a happy girl, as my computer has been working better that it has been in the last few weeks. Yay!!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

UnLock Math - TOS Review

At my house I have one child who loves Math and another child for who Math is not his strong suit; he is more of a literary guy. So, when Math products come up for review I tend to be among those who want to give them a try.

Our last product, from UnLock Math, has proven to be a gem for my not so Math lover. We received UnLock  Pre-Algebra and started on it right away.

From the first lesson, I personally was hooked.

What is UnLock Math?

UnLock Math is a new on the market online Math program created and taught by Alesia Blackwood, a homeschool graduate. Her credentials include a certification from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission to teach Mathematics grades 7-12, as well as being a member of the Ontario College of Teachers certified in Intermediate and Senior Divisions Mathematics and Computer Science, As such she brings Math tutoring home and to a new level, as she brings to the homeschool world her enthusiasm, teaching gift, and her love of Math.

Because, it is online, you will need internet to use the program.

On top of the video lessons, UnLockMath provides assessments, unlimited practice, grading, report, and fully explained solutions to quizzes and challenges.

This program covers grade 7 and up, so Pre-algebra and Algebra courses. We received the Pre-Algebra course for review.

UnLockMath brands itself as being:

Comprehensive & Rigorous 
Interactive & Adaptive 
Engaging & Fun 
Anxiety buster & confidence booster
I found that UnLock Math is suitable for any kind of learners, including gifted, struggling, and anyone looking for a new engaging, and fun way of study Math.

How does it work?

The program is divided into 16 units. Each unit is in turn divided in lessons (6-10 depending on the unit). After every 2-3 lessons there is a quizz, and at the end of the unit, there is a test.
Though the teacher is very dynamic and engaging, there is nothing flashy about UnLock Math. It is straight Math taught lively. The test and quizzes questions are given one at a time without distraction and without instant feedback. Once the test is complete the grade is given with complete answers and explanation.

Each lesson follow the same pattern:
Warm up exercises 
Video lesson 
Practice exercices 
Stay sharp exercices 
A challenge question
I had my 6th, soon 7th grader work on this as his Math Curriculum, 4 times a week. UnLock Math offers a suggested pacing guide with the program.

What we liked:
  • The lessons are broken down in bite-size pieces
  • The lessons as engaging, dynamic and detailed
  • The lessons are not too long
  • There is gradual and cumulative testing that allows to check how much has been mastered and understood
  • The lessons and testing are not overwhelming
  • The navigation is pretty easy
  • It is very independent. The parent is almost not needed, as the lessons are very detailed and so are the answers to the quizzes and tests.
  • The parent's log-in provides you with a valuable detailed progressed report.
This is going to be one of our Math choices for this coming year, and I am looking forward to Zach's progress with it.

You can visit their website and check out their sample videos to get a taste of the lessons:

You can also check them out on their various social media network:


UnLock Math Review

Monday, July 27, 2015

Logic Round up Curriculum over @ Year Round Homeschooling

"I do not know about you, but one of the goal in my homeschooling is to raise kids that think critically. I am not interested in just feeding my boys knowledge. I want them to interact with whatever they learn, make it their own, and be able to argue or defend truth and what is right, in a very logical way. So, our homeschool curriculum line up includes logic curriculum.
From a young age you can challenge your kids to think by encouraging them, not to challenge you or authority, but to be curious about why things are the way they are. Questions are always a good thing because we are made to be inquisitive."
To read the rest, hop on over at Year Round Homeschooling where I am sharing my top choices for Logic Curriculum.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015-2016 Curriculum Choices - Grade 5 & 7

The years are really mounting on me, as my boys are entering grade five and grade seven. Both are sort of in Middle School and the time has come for more rigorous school, with High School and College or University in mind.

It is so hard to believe we are entering our 8th/9th year of homeschooling. The end is starting to peek in the horizon and so does the urgency of getting all of these goals straight.

So what are our choices for this upcoming year?

Grade 5:

History: Tapestry of Grace  UG/D levels Year 2: The Middle Ages

This covers History, Literature, Geography and Church History

CTC Math and extra practice with workbooks still to be determined.You can read my review here.
Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents followed by Pre-Algebra books.

Language Arts:
Grammar Basics and EnglishSmart Grade 5 both of which we started last year.
WorldBuildOnline: Review here
Phonetic Zoo if I get chosen for the review
Writing & Rhetoric Book 4&5: Review here with a giveaway too!

Foreign Languages
First Start French from Memoria Press

Logic: Brain teasers from the library


History: Tapestry of Grace Year 2: Dialectic Level and online co-op group discussions.
 This will cover his History, Literature, Geography and Church History as well.

Unlock Math : upcoming review
Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents followed by Pre-Algebra books.

Language Arts:
Analytical Grammar 
Writing and Rhetoric books 4 &5
Poetry for Beginners from Classical Writing
The Vocabulary of Literature from Michael Clay Thompson
The Magic Lens from Michael Clay Thompson as well
Phonetic Zoo from IEW

Foreign Languages: Duolingo 

Logic: The Art of Argument

 Subjects Done Together

Science: Visuals learning Systems  Review here

A Child's Introduction to Art
Meet the Great Composers Book 1

Bible Road Trip Year 2: Upcoming Review
Copywork from Intoxicated for Life
Firmly Planted by Real Life Press. Review here
See all the great Firmly Planted resources.
The Bible is God's Word by Katherine MacKenzie
Taking God at His Word by K. Young
Everyone is a Theologian by R.C. Sproul 

"Not" Back to School Blog Hop 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Writing & Rhetoric - A Writing Curriculum Review and a Giveaway

Curriculum choosing and buying can be a very daunting task. So many subjects to cover, so many curriculum to browse though, and so many companies to consider.

Today I would like to share with you a product and a company that I have come to hold in high regards.

When it comes to teaching writing to the boys I was not sure which way to go, as I would not exactly consider myself a great writer. Then came along Writing and Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press.

I heard about it when the second book in a series of twelve just released, and I was immediately intrigued.

You see I homeschool classically, and writing is an integral part of it. Classical Academic Press puts out products geared towards classical homeschooling, so there you had  the first common ground.

I was searching for something that would teach them what writing was, and guide them through the process incrementally, without bombarding them with pages and pages of writing right from the start. I found what I was looking for in Writing and Rhetoric.

What is Writing and Rhetoric?

Writing and Rhetoric is a program that is founded on the principle of what is referred to as Progymnasmata. What is progymnasmata, you ask? It is this idea that children learn best  by imitating good examples. Good writing is nothing new, and this philosophy, therefore, taps on this fact and seeks to teach children to write by studying and imitating other proven writings.

How does it work?

Emphasis is put on reading good pieces of writing, focussed practice exercises intended to gradually build up writing skills.  Each book in the series adds new skills, while cementing or reviewing previous skills.

As a true classical curriculum, it makes use of the very important skills of narration and dictation, which are integral components of the program.

The goal is to teach kids what good writing looks like, think about the ideas presented and how they are communicated, then learn the specific steps to creating good writing, to eventually writing their own piece of writing through gradual practice.

The program consists of 12 - 1 semester books, covering grade 3-9. So far, 5 books have been released and the 6th is due this summer.

Book 1 in the series: Fables, focuses on comprehension skills, and introduces the skills of summarizing and amplification through the use of description and dialogue. It also teaches:

  • to identify different kinds of stories: fable, myth, legends etc..
  • to determine beginning, middle and end of stories 
  • to determine point of view, such as first person or third person retelling

Book 2: Narrative I, builds on the skills of the first book, and also reinforces the skills of identifying parts of a story. It also adds the skills of identifying the main idea as well as the conflict of the story.

Book 3: Narrative II, introduces students to new genres of story such as historical narratives and the skill of differentiating between facts and opinions. Other skills covered are:
  • Outlining stories
  • Practice of story beginning
  • Protagonist and antagonist
  • Identifying the 5 Ws
  • Elocution skills
Book 4: Chreia & Proverbs, seeks to use all of the skills learned so far and learn to write a six-paragraph essay on the basis of a saying or action.

Book 5: Refutation and Confirmation, targets the skills of refutation, where they learn to refute and/or criticize parts of a narrative that are doubtful, and they also learn to defend (confirmation) certain parts of a narrative that are clear or probable. Emphasis is on writing essays that contain sound arguments which explain their opinions. Along the way they will learn to:
  • Understand comparison and contrast
  • introduce and conclude an essay
  • Use direct quotes to support an argument
  • Revise writing
Book 6: Common Place, the last book in print so far, extends the skills of refutation and confirmation through the writing of essays that are arguments against or in favor of vices and virtues. As they develop the art of persuasive writing and oration, they will learn rhetorical devices such as "The Contrary", and how to invent soliloquies.

How do we use it?

These books are very easy to use and implement. They come with a suggested weekly schedule at the beginning of the book.

Each book is divided into 4 major sections, after the reading or listening of the chapter story:
  • Tell It Back - narration
  • Talk About It - discussion time about the story which encourages critical thinking
  • Go deeper - encourages and facilitates further thinking about the story
  • Writing Time - copywork, dictation, sentence play, copiousness, dialogue and amplification (which practices grammar, descriptions and syntax skills).
We school 4 times of week, and we did our writing, on three of those days.

Day 1: Tell It Back and Talk About It, and sometimes some of the Go Deeper
Day 2: Go Deeper and sometimes Narration and Dictation from the Writing Time section.
Day 3: Writing Time

Our Opinion

My boys, who never enjoyed penmanship, enjoy going through this series. My oldest who is a writer at heart (just not on a piece of paper), loves and has been seeking to apply everything he learns from these books. You would hear him mention the concepts he learns as he creates his own stories.

I have been using Writing & Rhetoric for the past 1 1/2 year, having started with book 1 with then, a 3rd grader and a 5th grader. As I mentioned, because they do not like penmanship I had stayed away from a lot of writing curriculum because they required way too much writing from them. With my oldest entering Middle School I felt that I really needed to have a writing curriculum in the line up and Writing and Rhetoric appeared to fit the bill perfectly. Absolutely no regrets!

I love how the first books require little actual writing, and more thinking and understanding, but as you move up the books, it gradually increases the expectation.

Though the main focus of the books is getting a hand on the process and components of good writing, emphasis is nevertheless put on the details and mechanics of writing in the sentence play, such as proper use of adjectives and literary devices.

Each set of books includes:
  • A student's book
  • A teacher's manual, which has all of the student text plus teacher's answers and lesson objectives
  • An MP3 of all the stories covered in he book

We absolutely love this writing curriculum and are planning to stick with it till the end. I cannot wait to see the next few books and witness my kids' writing soar and deepen.

Classical Academic Press always offers an extensive sample of their products, so go on over and check Writing & Rhetoric for yourself.

Now, for you my readers I have two wonderful offers:

First: Classical Academic Press is generously offering a %20 off any order on the Classical Academic Press website (excepted Singapore Math and live, online classes . 
The following code code is valid until July 20th, So hurry!

Second: they also are offering a free set of Writing and Rhetoric Book 1 to one lucky winner.

Disclaimer: I was offered a complete set of Writing & Rhetoric in exchange for my honest review. I did not receive any other compensation.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

CursiveLogic - TOS Review

Teaching penmanship to my kids has never been easy. My boys do not like holding a pencil or pen. Until now, at age 10 and 12, their handwriting is not the prettiest. That said, my oldest has the most struggles with it. Around grade 3 I started him on cursive, and that seemed to help a bit, but now in grade six, he still needs a lot of improvement with his penmanship skills. Here comes a new program called CursiveLogic.

I was more than happy to try a cursive program with my son to help improve his skills. Members of the crew got to review this brand new handwriting curriculum: CursiveLogic Workbook.

CursiveLogic brands itself as "An intelligent new way to teach cursive", and this is exactly what it is.

Cursive logic was created by a teacher seeking to teach one special student to write his name.  You can read about her and her story on their Our Story page.

What is Cursive Logic exactly?

CursiveLogic is a spiral-bound workbook that teaches kids to write cursive using a very logical process.

CursiveLogic seeks to communicate to children the pattern inherent to cursive writing. They do not need to remember the letters' formation as much as understand the pattern that governs each letters. To that end, the program focuses on two major keys: Letters grouped by shape and Letter strings.

Because all the letters follow a certain shape, the program helps the kids recognize that shape, and teach them the letters that follow that particular pattern all together. Kids learn a total of 4 basic shapes

The second key teaching tool is teaching all the letters that share a common shape in a connected string. This allows for reinforcement and mastery of the shape, as well as the letter formation themselves. Another added advantage that this key has is that they get to write cursively from the very beginning.

CursiveLogic also makes use of “verbal task analysis” which is saying an action verbally as it is performed manually, which aids the development of muscle memory and gives students a mnemonic they can return to over and over.

The first few pages of the workbook are spent explaining to you the process and the method, as well as what is expected of the child, then you start with your first shape and set of letters.

We got our copy of CursiveLogic late, so we did not get to use much of it. That said, for the little bit that my son has done, I can see the potential of this program, and here are the reasons why:

  • It is incremental
  • It is logical. Each exercises have an obvious formative goal.
  • The length of each day's exercise is very doable and not overwhelming.
  • The colored pattern makes the process easy to understand for the kids. Each letter string has a theme color that helps students remember the shape: Orange ovals, Lime Loops, silver Swings and mauve mounds.
  • It also uses the classic method of tracing and then writing the letters, as they say the catch phrase.

Cursive Logic is worth the try if you want to learn, teach or need cursive mastery. Visit them on their social media and check out the other reviews.


CursiveLogic Review

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Reading Round Up Curiculum

Have a child to whom you are teaching how to read, or getting ready to teach how to read?
"Reading is one of those school subjects that many parents dread to have to teach to their kids. Even though this is an understandable reaction, given that reading is one of those fundamental life skills, it need not to be fret. 
With the explosion of the homeschool market, reading curricula abound. There are lots of options available to you that can equip and assist you in teaching your children to read. 
As part of our Homeschool Curricuculun Round up here at Year Round Homeschooling, we would like to suggest a few reading curriculum for you to check out, in an effort to aid you as you prepare for the up coming year."
Read the rest over at Year Round homeschooling where I was sharing a round up of Reading Curriculum. This post is part of the Curriculum Round up series going on over @Year Round Homeschooling all of July.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Curriculum Round Up Coming in July

It is curriculum buying season for many right now, and we, the team over at Year Round Homeschooling, decided to devote the month of July to curriculum round up.

All through July we will be sharing with you round ups from  the many disciplines in homeschooling:

High School
Language Arts
And more...

I promise you there will be something for everyone and, if you are new to homeschooling this will be a great place to start, as you sift through the homeschool curriculum market.

Do not miss it, it starts on July 1st!

Write Through the Bible Junior
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