Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spelling You See

You may remember that last year we were blessed to be able to review Spelling You See from Demme Learning, the great folks that developed Math U See.  If you missed it, you can catch that review here.

This year, we got to review Spelling You See:  Ancient Achievements.  This is Level F, which arrived at our house when Eli had only 2 lessons left in Level E.  Perfect timing!

Ancient Achievements is set up just like the earlier levels we were used to.  Each day for a week, we work on the same passage.  The passages are really interesting.  In fact, when I opened the box, Eli grabbed the first book and read through all the passages!

Each day, Eli reads me the passage, then underlines the letter chunks assigned in that lesson.  We call this part "doing chunking."  Each Spelling You See level comes with a set of erasable colored pencils to do chunking with, but my boys prefer to use what they call "chunking pens" instead--the 4 color pens that I use for our record keeping.  Another option suggested in the Instructor's Handbook is to use different colored highlighters.  This exercise helps students see how various sounds are spelled within a word.

After chunking, which helps them see how words are spelled, they copy the passage.  For reluctant writers, this part can be timed, and the student can stop after 10 minutes.  We haven't had a problem with this, but I really like that the program gives us "permission" to keep it short and enjoyable.

On days 4 and 5, the student receives dictation instead of copying directly from the text.  Eli is using one of his art works, paper clipped to the left page, to prevent him from seeing the text as I read it aloud and he copies it, one sentence at a time.

That's it!  There is no boring list of random words for the kids to write 3 times each.  There is no making your list words into inane sentences.  The "test" on Friday is simply the dictation passage.

I love the way Spelling You See combines spelling with capitalization, punctuation, and learning interesting things.  The Ancient Achievements theme was a bonus for us, since we've been doing a chronological study of world history the last 2 years, and the passages are all fascinating tidbits that go along with that.

We received the Instructor's Handbook, which is small but mighty, and sells for $14.  I really appreciate Spelling You See keeping the size small and keeping the cost reasonable!  In addition to lesson instructions, the manual also includes all the dictation passages, and the answer key, which has the chunking answers highlighted.  The Student Pack, which contains 2 workbooks and a set of colored pencils, sells for $30.  I feel this program is very economical.  For $44 per year, you get a fabulous spelling program that your kids won't fight using, and it only takes about 10 minutes a day!  

While we're talking about Spelling You See, I want to mention that Jack is currently working in Level C, Wild Tales, and he likes it.  The format for C is a little different, in that the books are bound landscape instead of portrait, and Day 4 is a draw and write your own thing day, instead of dictation.  I have been so pleased with Spelling You See that I will be putting Katie into Level A, Listen and Write, next school year, and Jack and Hannah will both be using Level D, Americana.

Spelling You See is not leveled by grade, but by ability.  For more placement information, see here.

You can connect with Spelling You See on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, or Pinterest.  To read how other Crew families used Level F and Level G, Modern Milestones, please click the box below:

Spelling You See Review

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Love Inspired Books #giveaway and #coupon

Love Inspired Books sent me a package of 6 new books to review!  Included were:

A Firefighter's Promise
The Rancher Takes a Bride
The Doctor's Second Chance
The Single Dad Finds a Wife
Winning the Teacher's Heart
Bachelor to the Rescue

These are sweet romance stories.  Each is 224 pages.  They're the perfect size to tuck into a purse for reading in a waiting room.  I put one in my van so I'd have something to read while waiting to pick kids up.  They're great books for on the go.

The first book I chose to read was A Firefighter's Promise.  After all, my own love story features a firefighter, right?  I figured this would be a book I could relate to.  Little did I know that this book would also feature an adopted child.  I have to admit, I couldn't put this one down.  I picked it up at nap time, thinking I'd read a little and then catch a quick snooze before it was time to pick the kids up from school.  Ha!  Instead, I read the whole thing.

Winning the Teacher's Heart featured a play it safe single mom and a bad boy motocross racer.  I found myself angry on Becca's behalf at the way her former in-laws were manipulating her through fear and intimidation.

If you enjoyed the movie 3 Men and a Baby, you'll appreciate the panicked antics that ensue when Jake's wild cousin drops her baby in his lap and takes off.  Fortunately, there's a pretty young pediatrician to help him learn baby care basics in The Doctor's Second Chance.

I like these books and I can feel good about passing them on to Brianna when I'm done with them.  Unlike typical Harlequin romance stories, these don't have graphic intimate scenes.  I look forward to reading the remaining Love Inspired books poolside this summer while the kids splash.

There are 6 new Love Inspired each month.  Are you ready to win all 6 books for May?  Good luck to you!

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If you're not my winner for this awesome set, you can still score a coupon for $1 off any Love Inspired book!  You can connect with Love Inspired books on Facebook or Twitter.  I'd love to hear what you've been reading lately.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Our Week - Homeschool and Life

Has another whole week passed already?  I feel like I just wrote one of these wrap up posts.  Time flies when we're having fun, I guess.

If you follow the blog Facebook page, you may have caught the cool video I posted about wanting to try to make these little doo dads out of cardstock.  Well, they look neat, but you have to be pretty precise with the folds.  Mine worked, Jack's sort of worked, Eli's... not so much.  (The clothespins were holding them in place while the glue dried.

One of Jack's Lego creations this week.

After we did scratch art in ARTistic Pursuits, I came across these scratchboards (affiliate link) and thought the boys would appreciate the convenience of not having to make their own page with black oil pastels.

The coating on these is a bit tougher than our DIY ones.  An unsharpened pencil did not pierce it, so they used pushpins to make their drawings.

Something Eli sketched while I read aloud.

And the almost required at this point K'nex build of the week.  A motorized helicopter.

With an opening cargo bay.

You'll be seeing more of Hannah in the next few weeks.  She has one half day of school next week, then she's off for a month.  (Crazy track system!  Have I mentioned I hate it?)  It will be awesome to have her home, and I've got some fun stuff planned for us.

The octopus was something she made at school, and I thought it was too cute to throw out without getting a picture first.

This is what happens after a sleepover at a friend's house.  Methinks there was a sugar crash involved??

This week, we watched Dawn of the Maya (affiliate link), a National Geographic DVD we picked up at the library.  Made me want to visit an archaeological dig!  Fascinating info about the pre-classical period Maya, and it showed rare Mayan mural art.  Plus, you know, pyramids are just cool.

We also read about Michelangelo, but I was too chicken to tape paper to the underside of our table and have the boys try to paint laying underneath it.  Maybe if we had a table over linoleum I would have been braver, but paint + carpet just sounds disastrous.

(more about Katie's project in this month's Pre-K With Katie post, coming soon)

Next week, we're off to Shriners again to see if Katie's new leg socket will fit.  I'm really crossing my fingers.  She's outgrown her current leg, and it's becoming more of a problem with each passing day.  It's been 4 weeks since the last test fit.  I just want her to have a working leg.

Anyone else getting spring fever?  I alternate between pouring over curriculum catalogs, planning for next school year, and counting down how many weeks of school we have left.  Fortunately, we're ending the year with more weeks left than work to complete (Jack is on his last week of spelling right now!), so we'll be able to take days off to do fun stuff without falling behind.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Calls The Heart #giveaway #FaithTV #Hearties

When I was young, my grandmother had all the Janette Oke books, and I used to read them at her house.   Hallmark based their wildly popular series When Calls The Heart on her book by the same name.  The book and the TV series, which starts it's second season on April 25th, have a lot of differences, but if you enjoy the genre of the book, and you don't expect them to be the same, you'll likely enjoy the show, as well.

I got to see the season premiere a little early, and it's a sweet, wholesome show I shared with my teen daughter.  When Calls The Heart is the story of a well bred socialite young lady going to a primative coal mining town as a teacher, and learning to make her way, without her family, in unfamiliar circumstances.

You can win the entire first season on DVD!  Stock up on the popcorn, because this calls for a marathon session!  This prize, provided by WordFilms is worth $60!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Dial Products for Kids #giveaway

This review is one that several of my kids were able to get in on!  We received both the new Dial Baby Body & Hair Wash, and Dial Kids Foaming Hand Wash.  They're part of the Dial for Kids line.

Katie and Hannah aren't "babies" any more, but I've always been one to use baby shampoo as long as I can get away with it, because I love the smell, and the fact that it's so gentle.

Dial Baby is fragrance free, and did a great job on my girls' hair.

The yummy watermelon scented foaming hand soap was a hit with everyone who tried it, including me!

Dial's products for kids (which also feature Hello Kitty body wash and soaps!) are developed with pediatric dermatologists to be hypoallergenic and ph balanced, with no added parabens or artificial dyes.

A big thanks to Dial for providing me with these products to try out, and coupons for two lucky winners to each receive a coupon for their choice of free product:  body & hair wash, OR foaming hand wash.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Week - With Large Family Illness and Chocolate Making

You wanna make a mom of many quake in her boots?  Mention stomach flu!  We came down with a brief but violent illness this week that hit 6 out of 9 of us starting in the wee hours of Monday morning.  We accomplished nothing Monday, very little Tuesday, but by Wednesday, we were ready to get back to homeschool.

Since we are studying early Central American civilizations this week, we made chocolate!

We learned that cocoa butter, at room temperature, is a rock hard solid, which surprised me.

After you add cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar, you stir for a bit.

After we got all the lumps smoothed out,

we applied the little stick on thermometer to let us know when it cooled to 94* so we could add the next step.

In the meantime, we took out the 2 real cocoa beans and rubbed the shells off and tasted them.  They were bitter.  Eli said they tasted like dirt.  I tried a nibble, and he had a point.  Even Paul and Katie tried a nibble.

Once the chocolate cooled to 94*, we added the crystallized bits and stirred until they were smooth, then we started putting chocolate into the little papers.  We did 6 plain chocolates, then added a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil and stirred it into the rest of our chocolate.

The boys decided it was pretty yummy!

Altogether, we made 16 chocolates.  In hindsight, I should have put less chocolate in each cup, since it was quite a mouthful when solid, and we had extra papers left over when we were done.  You can add nuts or peanut butter or whatever you choose.  I think dried cherries would be amazing.

The boys liked the mint chocolates better than the plain ones.

This was a really fun project.  I'm glad I got this little kit.  It really added something memorable to our study of Aztec culture.

As usual, Eli has more K'nex creations to share.  These are such great engineering toys!  The plane above has wings that tuck back.

And a smaller plane.

Thursday, Jack woke up with a cold, so I sent him back to bed.  Since we do almost all our subjects together, this left Eli at a loss.  I pulled a rabbit out of my hat and produced a pair of motors to go with his K'nex, and he spent the rest of the day designing vehicles and setting up courses for them to navigate.

This was the first one.  You can barely see the blue motor on the right side.

The taller design enabled this one to stay upright when going of the binder "cliff."

Today, we were supposed to make pots.  Now, we made pinch pots last year, but these were to be slab and coil pots, so I thought those would be sufficiently different enough to hold their interest.  Not really.  They weren't into the pots at all.

Eli made a couple tanks and some airplanes.

We finished out our week with with a trip to the park to enjoy the sunshine with friends.  It felt great to get out and breathe the fresh, warm air.  Especially after dealing with sickness most of the week.

Since we're not done with this week's work, we'll start out next week by finishing up Central American history.  Then we'll be on to Slavery and Renaissance Art, which, to me, doesn't seem to go together at all, but what do I know, right?  The following week looks to be more exciting, with the invention of the printing press and King Henry VIII, who my kids are already familiar with.

Only 5.5 more weeks of curriculum left for this school year!  WOO HOO!

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