A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Under The Sea Bible #giveaway

You may remember that Jack recently got his own Bible.  Well, I soon realized that Hannah was ready for her own Bible, too, so I jumped at the chance to review the Under The Sea Bible from Zondervan.

The Under The Sea Bible is a super cute ocean themed Bible for children.  The cover is appealing with whimsical sea creatures, and has sparkles and foil to make it eye catching.

In addition to the Word of God in New International Reader's Version (or NIrV), there are a few full-color extra pages sprinkled in the text with things like the plan of salvation, the books of the Bible, and the 10 commandments.  The hardcover Under The Sea Bible sells for $24.99.  In addition to being available from Zondervan, it's also sold at Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Family Christian Stores, and Amazon.

Hannah is enjoying using her new Bible for school, and taking it to church.  While designed for kids ages 6-10, I think this would appeal even to slightly older kids, as Jack, who is almost 12, said, "Cool new Bible, Hannah!" when she got it.

Ready to win a copy for a child in your life?  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  There are affiliate links within this post. 
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Memoria Press Literature

I mentioned a while back that we were going to be lightening up on social studies and science for a bit to be able to go in depth into literature and language arts.  Memoria Press sent us a lovely package of their Third Grade Literature Guide Set to review, and we chose to dive in starting with A Bear Called Paddington.

We received the set of teacher's guides and one set of student workbooks.  I purchased the reading books and a second set of student workbooks so that Jack and Hannah could both use the program.

Hannah points out "darkest Peru," where Paddington came from.

We did about 2 chapters a week.  We would start out by reading over the Reading Notes, which help explain some of the things we'll be reading about.  Then we would read the Comprehension Questions aloud before I read the chapter to the kids and then they answered the questions in their Study Guide workbooks.

We discussed the comprehension questions together when they were finished, and we would discuss the Vocabulary together on the white board, and they would copy the definitions.

Starting with the Paddington book made it easy to find coloring pages online that I could print for the kids to color while they listened to me read the chapter of the day.

One mistake I made was not reading through the entire Teacher Guide before we got started.  I missed that there was a quiz in the back of my book for after the first 4 chapters.  I ended up copying both quizzes (there's also one for chapters 5-8) and the Final Test, stapling them all together, and having the kids fill in as much as they could from memory.

After they did as much as they could on their own, I allowed them to use their workbooks to help with the vocabulary definitions.  Then they could use the A Bear Called Paddington book to search for answers they needed help with.  It might not be the traditional way of doing things, but it worked for us.

I have to say, the vocabulary in Paddington is pretty impressive.  When I was poking around online, looking for other Paddington resources, I found a private school that uses Paddington in their 4th grade classes.  Memoria has it as part of their third grade literature, and Jack, who is 11, did not know what all the words meant.  It was a challenging course for both my 3rd and 6th graders.

In addition to Paddington, 3rd Grade Lit includes Farmer Boy, Charlotte's Web, and Mr. Popper's Penguins.  The teacher's guides for Charlotte's Web and Farmer Boy are noticeably larger than the guides for Paddington and Penguins.  Mr. Popper's Penguins gives the students opportunities to draw scenes from the story.  Charlotte's Web and Farmer Boy's student books have the kids copy passages from the reading books.  Memoria Press also offers an optional book, The Moffats, at this level.  I like that the study guides are not all cookie cutter copies of the same tasks for different books.

After completing the Paddington book and study guide, we had a Paddington party day, complete with Paddington t-shirts, and watching the movie and discussing how it was different from the book.

Then we started our next book and workbook from the set, Mr. Popper's Penguins.  I remembered the plastic penguins we have, and decided to make Katie a penguin rice tray so she could play along with the story.

Katie points out Antarctica, where penguins live.

Our family enjoyed the stories in Memoria's Third Grade Literature.  I think it's a strong, slightly advanced program, and I'm planning to finish up Mr. Popper's Penguins this school year and save the remaining two books for next school year.

You can connect with Memoria Press on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, Pinterest or G+.  To read what other Crew families have to say about their experiences with various grade levels of literature, please click the box below.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Logic of English: Essentials

I mentioned a while back that I was looking for something new for English, since Hannah had finished hers for the year, and Jack's wasn't really working for him.  We were blessed with the opportunity to review Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English, which is an entire language arts program.

Now, I consider myself a seasoned homeschool teacher.  I've been doing this for 18 years.  But I was pretty overwhelmed when the large package showed up.  The teacher's book is a hardcover book the size of a telephone directory for the whole county I grew up in.  We received one Essentials Student Workbook and one Spelling Journal, and I ordered an additional copy of each of those so that I could use the program with Jack and Hannah together.

We also received lots of packs of flash cards and game cards.  I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to store them at first; they didn't all fit in this little tote that I tried.  And there was a digital download of the Essentials Readers.  So I was pretty nervous going into it, thinking this was going to be a really large, labor intensive program.

But we bravely got started.  Here, my students are all playing one of the games together, which is great.  Jack is 11, and he's a struggling reader.  Hannah is 8, and Katie is 5, and it in the emerging reader stage.  Jack and Hannah have the Essentials workbooks and the Spelling Journals.  Katie merely observes most of the time, or is busy doing her own thing.

Getting into the morphemes unearthed the memory of Mrs. Richter having our whole class chant, "Ah, ay, aw, eh, eee, ih, eye, ah, owe, oo, uh, you, ooh," every morning in second grade.  So I recreated the vowel chart I remembered and we started saying it together, too.  Having a visual aid has helped Jack with long and short vowel sounds, and I see him glancing at it when we're discussing how to spell a word.

As we waded in, I realized that the teacher's book is actually Volume 1, and is broken down into 15 weekly lessons, and 5 days per lesson.  You can, of course, go slower if you need to, or use it in a 4 day school week, if that's the style that suits your family best, but this structure works for us.  Volume 2, lessons 16-30, is set to release in January of 2017.  These brand new books are 2nd Edition, an update of the older version of Essentials.

In the photo above, we modified one of the games to use our letter tiles in the squares in the workbook.  Jack and Hannah are playing the game, and Katie is working on her math.

In this photo, we used buttons to play bingo.  The kids like the games, and often want to play them longer than I do.

The Essentials Reader that I mentioned earlier is a digital download.  Honestly, I'd forgotten all about it until the handy dandy teacher's guide included it as part of our 4th day of using the program.  I called the kids over to my computer, pulled it up, and we went over the vocabulary words together, then I had Jack and Hannah alternate reading aloud the one page passage.  Easy!  The passages range from tongue twisters, to fiction, to non-fiction, and my kids thought the bed racing one was really interesting!  I think if this was a printed book, my kids would wander off with it and read the whole thing in one sitting.  The PDF is actually two files:  the screen version, which is what we're using; and a printable version, which can be printed off and made into a booklet.

We all like that we're doing different things, like using highlighters, flash cards, or white boards.

The further into the program we got, the more I found my "sea legs" and started feeling comfortable and confident in teaching it.  For me, it took about 2 weeks of M-F use.  It's a meaty program, but it's not difficult to teach, and the kids are enjoying it.

I like that the teacher's manual is scripted, so I can read parts of it aloud to the kids while teaching.  But I also go beyond the script.  We come up with our own examples of words with the morphemes we're discussing, or we'll count syllables in a few extra words, etc.  I find myself very grateful for the white board Paul hung in our school room when I teach Essentials.  It gets a good workout.

One interesting thing about this program is that it's multi-level.  I think this was part of what was hard for me to wrap my head around in the beginning.  Once I gave Jack and Hannah each the Placement Test included in the teacher's guide, I decided the best place for them to work together would be level B.  The nice thing is, I could re-use this book next year to teach them level C, and the year after, I'm betting Katie would be ready for level A.  One family could use the same teacher's guide over and over for all 3 levels for several students, bringing the price per year down considerably.

Being that it is a multi-level program, I can sometimes cover some of the Level A materials with my Level B students if it's a concept they're really unfamiliar with, or we need more practice.  The student workbooks are set up so that page such and such is a spelling test for all levels, it just depends on what list the teacher reads.  The teacher guide will tell you if something is ALL, A, B, or C, and has little symbols to indicate when the students use their Spelling Journal, or their Essentials workbook, which is almost an inch thick.

This curriculum has affected the way I teach.  One morning I was giving Katie her spelling words, not from this program, but from the book she's been using, and I said, "Kim."  Then I paused and said, "Tall /k/."  She said, "Yeah.  Not a C."  I was blown away.  She's hearing me teach the older kids, and some of it is sinking in for her, too.

Logic of English Review

You can connect with Logic of English on Facebook, YouTube, or Pinterest.  They even have a pin board for ideas for organizing all the flash cards and game cards that come with Essentials!  I ended up buying a lidded plastic card box and some colored plastic envelopes to organize mine.  You can read what other Crew families have to say about Essentials or Foundations by clicking the box below.

Logic of English Review

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Playing the Part

I've just discovered a new favorite author.

I got to review Playing the Part, by Jen Turano, and it's just the cutest book.  It takes your typical boy rescues girl love story and turns it on it's side by having the girl very much not want to be rescued.

Lucetta is an interesting heroine.  She's an independent woman of means, who chooses to be an actress because she's good at it, and she enjoys it.  When she finds herself in trouble, a friend takes her to a relative's house to hide.  Only... the "house" is a castle, and the relative is a man with an over-active hero gene.  He rescues animals.  He rescues people.  And now, he appears to want to rescue her.

Several parts in the story made me giggle, such as when she "faints" to distract everyone, and he carries her to her room.  In the tower.  Up rather a lot of stairs.  From page 64:  "47, 48, 49...You're really quite sturdy, aren't you, Miss Plum?  50..."  In his defense, he thinks she's passed out, but of course she's just acting.

Playing the Part pokes fun at our preconceived ideas of what others will be like when we don't know them.  I could so relate to that from our adoption of Hannah.  I thought we were adopting a poor little waif who needed coddling, and I got a bright, funny, spunky, amazing little girl, with the best eyebrow expressions ever.  In the book, Bram thinks he knows Lucetta because he's seen her act, but she's nothing at all like the characters she plays on stage.  He's disappointed to discover that she's practical and smart and not in need of rescue.

Page 123 has Lucetta confessing, "Apparently, I'm difficult."  This made me laugh out loud, because Paul and I have often said to each other, "I'm sorry I'm cranky," and had the other reply, "I'm sorry you're cranky, too!"  I know I'm difficult, and I appreciate him putting up with me anyway.

I really enjoyed this book, and I'm delighted to discover the author has written several others, including at least one with some of the same characters.  I'm going to have to keep an eye out at the library.

Speaking of characters, she does a good job making them distinct.  Even those who come late to the tale are fascinating.  Bram meets Lucetta's good friend Millie and says, "She's a little frightening, isn't she?"  Lucetta doesn't miss a beat when she replies, "This coming from a man who owns his own dungeon."

I'm leaving out a good bit, but you'll want to get to the meat of the story on your own.  I don't want to spoil it for you!  Give Playing the Part an audition.  I'm sure you'll be nominating it for Adorable Story, as well.

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Field Trip: Jelly Belly Factory

Spring break gives me the chance to take some of the big kids with us on our excursions, which is nice.

Eli and Brianna came with Jack, Hannah, Katie and I on our visit to the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield.

The older kids have been, of course, but Hannah and Katie had never been.  And we all had a great time!

See the panda picture?  It's made of jelly beans.  All throughout the tour areas, there are these magnificent pictures created from jelly beans.  They take weeks to make.

You can't take any pictures on the tour, due to rules about proprietary secrets.  So you'll have to make due with lots of pictures of the kids posed in front of various Jelly Belly vehicles.  

They've amassed quite a fleet.  Last time we were here, they had a VW Bug, but we didn't see it this time.

You have to wear hats on the tour.  Katie didn't mind, but Hannah was not pleased.  The look on her face cracks me up.

Brianna with her Mona Lisa expression.

Look familiar?  It's a famous Japanese painting.  Depicted in jelly beans.

And since I love tigers, I had to get a picture of this beautiful creature, too.

The tour has changed since the last time we were there.  It used to be a docent leading a group of about 20 people at a time, cracking jokes, explaining the process, and passing out samples at the various stages of production.

Now it's "self guided," meaning, they give you your hat, and you go upstairs on your own and wander through, looking through the windows and trying to listen to the videos on the monitors.  Large sections of the tour were completely blocked off, so instead of making a whole circle of the factory, you go about half way and then turn around and swim upstream, trying to get back out.  My friend had a double stroller, which made things challenging, since it was crowded.  Note to self:  spring break is when everybody wants to go out and have fun.

After the tour, we pulled out our picnic lunch (and the jelly bean samples!) and enjoyed the lovely spring weather while we ate.

Cheers!  I was teasing them about the headphones and said, "Make a teenager face!"  Notice the cloth napkin?  Bri made a sandwiches, and she figured out that she can get 4 sandwiches on sourdough rolls into a Tupperware cereal keeper, and she put a napkin between each one so we'd have "plates" to eat on.

After lunch, we went back in to visit the gift shop.  It was pretty crowded, but we managed to find some treasures to bring home.

My friend took this picture for me before we left.  Evidence that I really was there!

The next day, the kids wrote about our day in our field trip journal.  They were pretty excited about their souvenir t-shirts, too.  I'm already looking forward to our next adventure.

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