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

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Homeschooling Mom Wish List for Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and many have started the search for gifts to give to loved ones. If you have a homeschooling friend or relative, here is a short list of gifts that will surely warm her heart and make her very grateful.

*** Of course this list is my personal list,but i have no doubt will work for any homeschooling mom and family.

1.  Gift certificate to a bookstore: Amazon, Chapters/Indigo,

2. Gift certificate to an educational or office store supplies such as Scholar Choice or Mastermind

3. A microscope or a telescope. To be honest, any science kit is always very welcome in a homeschooling home.

4. Book, books, and more books. I personally love encyclopedias. On our wish list right now is this particular set: 

5. A membership to some kind of Museum. Homeschoolers love going to museums, and zoos!

6. Games. Educational or board games are very much loved among homeschoolers. Settlers of Catan is one of our favorites but there are many more options.

7. Bookcases. Homeschoolers are known to own a lot of books and always in search of places to store them.

8. Building kits. Lots of homeschool kids love to build and create. These are wonderful gifts to give a homeschool child.

9. Good old Lego. Lego never goes out of date or flavor. Great choice for kids' creativity and quiet time.

10. Audiobooks and DVDs. My boys love audiobooks. Some ideas are:

  • Jesus Storybook Bible
  • The Penderwicks
  • Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Mr Popper's Penguins
  • The Hobbit
  • the Chronicles of Narnia
  • Lord of the Rings
As for DVDs, science DVDS are great! The boys have also enjoyed What's in The Bible. I could not recommend these enough.

And there you have it,  a list to get you started on your shopping.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

The Pebble Pond
I've missed a couple of Fridays, but here I am today to recap the past few weeks.

1. The boys have been into baking for which I am very thankful. They've been making cookies, according to their taste, which have turned out pretty good.

2. We've been going through A Child's Introduction to Art pretty slowly, but we finally had an art time and made these Illuminated Letters.

3. My boys' new hobbies are their PS3 (Fifa World Cup Brazil, Lego Movie and Lego Marvel games), and indoor football. Don't ask how the latter work, only  my kids can manage to play football (I mean American Football) in a1050 sqt apartment.

4. Johann has rekindled his love for puzzle, as I asked him to do them for me to make sure all the pieces were there for a potential sale. Any takers?

5. In School, we are troding along:
  • Vocabulary, History, Handwriting, Spelling and Writing are going slowly.
  • Math is going steadily. I need to increase the amount of work, but may be will wait until January.
  • Science is going steadily as well. Zach really enjoys his biology course with Standard Deviant. I need o figure out what to do once that's done. Thinking of using The Biology4Kids website.
  • Logic is going along with Johann. Zach has been slacking on his. Time to get going on it.
  • Latin is going for both of them, steadily for Johann, slowly for Zach. 
  • Their daily hour of reading has been made up of The Penderwicks, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Hardy Boys and their newly acquired Horrible History and Horrible Science books

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's here - A new Ultimate Bundle - Christian Living Focus

DEAL ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!

A new ultimate Bundle is on sale this week. This time they are offering Christian Living focused bundle.

Over $1000 worth of Christianliving eBooks, eCourses + music for only $34.95. Is that a deal or not?

My personal Favorite:

Other bundles include:

Business and Personal Finance


Christian Classic Series

Devotional Life

Christian Living

Reaching the Lost


Married Life

Inspirational Novel

Authors include:

Gary Chapman

A. W. Tozer

John Walsh

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Kristen Welsh

It's on only for 5 days, so do not delay in checking it out

Monday, November 3, 2014

Middle School Schooling

Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee BreakSo, I have a 6th grader. What does that mean? I hear many moms complaining about the lack of blog posts and info on the web about homeschooling the middle grades. Sadly I have found it to be so myself too.

For me, I consider the middle grades to be that stage at which my son will be slowing getting ready for high school and eventually adult life. I see that period as my last chance, or that last straight line, to shape his mind and worldview as well as his work habit.

In classical education, this stage is called the dialectic stage, the age of connection. My son has always been adept at making connections in his mind about things, so this is not a very big change for him, but work habits, now that needs a lot of work.

What I have found on top of that, is that this stage also coincides with entry into puberty and all the body and emotional roller coaster this brings in. In other words, this stage is not an easy one, and not at all predictable.

The way we see it, three things have to be worked on during this stage, among other things:
  • Strengthening a biblical worldview and development of good thinking and reasoning habits.
  • Development of good work habits, such as diligence and excellence.
  • Development of independence, especially in school work and helping around the house

How are we handling it?

First, I have to give thanks to God that somehow, someway, my son has made major improvements about his diligence all of his own. In the past years I had to be on his back for him to get his school going. This year, he has shown lots of initiatives in starting at a reasonable time and a vivid desire to finish at a reasonable time as well. At this point, he needs my encouragement to keep it up and do his best day after day.

Next, is the skill of applying himself in everything he is doing. Whereas in the past I will let go of a lot of sloppy work, I made it clear this year, that this will not be tolerated any longer, and he understands that.

Something we are working on as well is independence. Again, my son has always been independent, but because he was not very diligent, the work was not getting done. Now, along with his desire to be more diligent, I am working on helping him to manage his time and plan out his work. This has been working out very nicely. Our History curriculum (Tapestry of Grace) is helping a lot in that, since there is ton of work to be done on a weekly basis (reading, Bible survey, map work, timeline and discussion time), and he needs to be able to spread it out over the week. We are also encouraging him to cook, bake, and take more responsibilities around the house.

He's made these with little supervision from me. And they were delicious.

This sounds like a lot to tackle, but we are just at the beginning of this journey and we hope and trust that as the years go on he will learn. Another thing I forgot to mention is how I am making sure we stress our availability to him. I want him to know he can tell me anything and that he will always have my hearing. Relationship is very important especially given everything that goes on in  the minds of kids at that stage. I find that sensitivity, irritability, shyness are heightened these days, so I want to make sure while being firm, he knows I sympathize and tries to understand him.

Your turn. How did you handle the middle school years?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Middlebury Interactive Languages - TOS Review

It has been proven that learning a foreign language can do wonders for the development of kids. Finding a program to do that is not an easy task. I am also up for trying new ones and we had that very opportunity come up recently on the crew through Middlebury Interactive Languages. As a French speaker I desire for my kids to speak French, so I always tend to favor French, and therefore got to review the full first semester of the French Course.

What is Middlebury Interacive Languages?

Middlebury Interactive Languages is an online foreign language course. They offer foreign language learning in Spanish, French, Chinese and German. Some languages cover all grades (K-12), the others start at grade 3 up to grade 12, with some advanced placement courses as well. All of the courses are online so you will need a computer to go through the program.

This is an interactive language learning program. It is divided into units, each made up of 6 lessons. Each unit is introduced through a story being read to the child, followed by vocabulary practices and speaking labs. the remaining lessons allow for the child to review and practice the vocabulary. There is lots of repetition to allow the child to really master the vocabulary. The course is geared toward vocabulary acquisition and speaking fluency skills acquisition. This is accomplished through immersion and the aid of the starting story.

The story being used are familiar ones so that the child is not lo,t even if he does not understand all the words. He can still have an idea of what is being said. Examples: Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast.

The exercises consist mainly of drag and drop and matching exercises, easy to manage for younger kids. The instructions are in English which makes it easier for the child to work on the course independently.

The speaking lab consists of repeating vocabulary and recording oneself. You even get to hear yourself afterwards. I wish it was self-correcting though.

Each lesson and unit ends with quizzes. All the quizzes and tests are graded and kept on file.

It is important to note that the program involves a lot of oral repetition from the student, so a microphone (built-in or external) is necessary to have the maximum benefit from the program. MY son actually had fun hearing himself repeat the words and expressions.

I had my 4th grader go through the first semester of the Elementary (grade 3-5) French course. He worked on it daily (4 times a week). Middlebury's recommendation for this level is 2-3 times a week. My son did not mind doing it on a daily basis. He was able to go through the course with very minimal help from me.

We found the elementary level pretty easy, but my son has had earlier exposure to French, so we ended up skipping some sections. This program does not require you to have any prerequisites and the elementary levels teaches basics words and phrases such as greetings, numbers, family numbers, and parts of the body to name a few topics.

What we like about Middlebury Interactive Languages:

  • Easy to use and navigate.
  • Interactive and engaging.
  • Interesting stories and catchy songs.
  • Whole language learning.
  • Variety of exercises with immediate feedback.
  • You have access to the quizzes for review.

Price is for one semester (6 months - 45 days of content)

$119 without a teacher. You can add a teacher (for help and support) to your subscription for an additional cost of $175.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate - TOS Review

Looking for an attractive, engaging e-learning program for your kids, read on.

We recently received a free account from Standard Deviants Accelerate to the Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses (SDA) program, and we have thoroughly enjoyed using it.

What is SDA?

 SDA is an accelerated online learning program. The program offers the following courses:
  • Arithmetic – Grades 3+ 
  • Fundamental Math – Grades 4+ 
  • Earth Science – Grades 6+ 
  • Nutrition – Grades 6+
  • Algebra – Grades 7+ 
  • Biology – Grades 7+ 
  • Chemistry – Grades 9+ 
  • English Comp. – Grades 9+ 
  • U.S. History – Grades 9+ 
  • AP* Biology – Grades 11+ AP Chemistry – Grades 11+ 
  • AP* U.S. Government & Politics – Grades 11+ 
  • AP* U.S. History – Grades 11+ AP 
  • Eng. Composition – Grades 11+ - 
*AP stands for Advance Placement

What these are are videos with very engaging participants making these topics very interesting. The videos contains the lessons, with full transcript available for print, and are taught in a way that brings the students in. The creators have managed to find a way to captivate the students to listen to what they are trying to teach.

This program is for Middle School and High School students (grade 6 and up), but some of them could be used by 3rd graders and up.

Also, this program is secular, so one needs to be aware that evolution is taught in the biology courses.

One more thing to note is that these courses are accelerated so they are fast-paced. They cover a lot of topics in a very short amount of time. In my opinion they are best used as reviews or for kids who thrive on being challenged or think big picture.

I had my boys do the Math (my 4th grader: Arithmetic, and my 6th grader: Fundamental Math). I also had my 6th grader go through the Biology course. They both enjoyed going through the program on a daily basis. My oldest enjoyed these videos because he loves humor and thrives on material that is above him. He likes to be challenged, and this is what these did for him because the content is very academic, yet presented in a very appealing way with jokes, analogies, diagrams, visual simulations and the likes.

Each lesson is followed by a vocabulary review, a graphic organizer exercise, and a test or quiz. Even the quiz my boys did not mind doing, and were very happy when they aced the 5 multiple choice questions. It was very helpful for them, when they had missed a question, that the program would actually tell them which part of the video addressed that particular topic, and they could just replay it right there and then.

What you need.
Since this is an online resource, you need a computer and an internet connection. The program can be used on a computer or a mobile device. The boys used it mainly on my Ipad mini.

Here is a video of how the program works:

What we liked.

The boys loved the humor of the presenters. Here are a few other aspects for which I would recommend this program:
  • It is interactive.
  • The topics are not dummed down. 
  • Lots of vocabulary is taught.
  • It is pretty comprehensive, even though it is meant as a supplement.
  • It is very independent.
  • The quizzes are graded right away, and the relevant parts of the video added where mistakes are made.
  • The addition of review chapters.
  • Review of vocabulary through the graphic organizers.
  • There is a space provided for the student to take note if desired.
  • The addition of optional thinking exercises.
  • The fact that mostly everything, from the lessons to the quizzes, are printable.
  • Progress reports available for both the parent and the student.
  • You can retake all of the courses or lessons. The quizzes will be the same, but you can retake them all the while.
The boys finished the Math courses during the review period. For the Biology, my son is still going through it, but I will probably go over it again with him, as a lot of the concepts were very involved for his level (it is grade 7 material and he is in grade 6). This program is recommended for use as a spine and/or as a supplement, so during the year we will keep going back to it.

My kids said to me recently: "Why cant you teach like the people in the SDA videos?" Ouch!


One course for one student is $99 for a year, or $24.95 per month.
The AP courses are $14.95 per month.

Curious?? There is a 6-month free trial going on right now, check it out!

Click to read Crew Reviews

Friday, October 10, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

Friday is on us again. It is Thanksgiving week-end here in Canada, and there is much to be thankful for.
The Pebble Pond
1. Electives have started this week and the boys were happy with their classes: Basketball and Build-it projects for the both of them as well as Finance for Zach and Chess (again) for Joho.

2. Our school is going along slowly but steadily. I am happy to report that there is progress with my middle schooler on the matter of diligence and getting his work done in a timely fashion. Still lots of maturing to do when it comes to precision and attention, but I am counting my blessings and recognize the progress. Thank you Lord!

3. This is what I spend half of my morning today doing, as three library discs got stuck in the machine. I thank the Lord that Joho and I managed to get them out after lots of figuring out.

4.The boys have been enjoying some cool books recently:

5. Joho had a birthday last Saturday. He turned 9. Where did the time go? The boy enjoyed some bowling time with his friends from church (4 of them), and some more back at the house. He was more than happy to get (which he already knew he was getting, since that was his request) the Lego Movie PS3 game, which he cannot wait to start playing once we get the second hand, newly acquired, advanced Christmas gift PS3, hooked up on Monday.

Bonus pic: We woke up at 5:00 am on Wednesday to watch the eclipse. The three of us did not regret it: