Friday, July 18, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ July 18th

The Pebble Pond

1. I am really slacking on this blogging thing. It isn't because I don't have anything to write about. I just am just in a rut. Kind of feel like no one reads it anyway or cares. I know..pitiful, huh!?

Note to self ~ Must do better!

2. My garden is doing amazing this year! I didn't kill anything! How's that for awesome!?

3. We still can not find a house. I am so upset about it. We need to move. We need vehicles but we are trying to hold off until we buy a house first. Babies can't happen until we buy a house. I NEED a house! Is it too much to ask for a decent price, in the country, a little bit of land and neighbors not on top of us. I mean really????

4. I freaked out a little about Alyssa starting high school. I was having a complete melt down. I am better now. I am still sad she is that old already but as far as the teaching goes I am ready! I think.

5. Did I ever post any pictures of my sweet nephew? I can't remember. He is 2 weeks already. I just want to kiss him and smell him! Germany is so far away. For now, I love me some Skype and Facebook!

Want to join us?
Here are the rules. They are simple.
~ Link up your Random 5 on Friday post.
~ Add a link back to me somewhere in your post.
~ Please make sure to put the direct link to your blog post not just your blog. I like to read and comment on all of you but I can not always do it right away and I do not have time to look for it. Thanks!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Random 5 on Friday ~ July 11th

The Pebble Pond

1. School planning. That has been my life for the last few days.

2. My garden is full of weeds. Would you like to come and help me pull them? I would love the company.

3. I am in awe of how cool the nights are right now. I actually have a sore throat from having our fan on. Weird. Usually it is so hot at night I can't sleep.

4. Brian got 3 days off last week and a day and half this week because a machine at work broke down. It has been nice having him home. Not so nice on the pocket book.

5. I used to love to be tickled. Brian used to hold me down and tickle me until I cried. I now hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it! Isn't it funny how we change? Brian hasn't caught on to that fact yet.

Want to join us?
Here are the rules. They are simple.
~ Link up your Random 5 on Friday post.
~ Add a link back to me somewhere in your post.
~ Please make sure to put the direct link to your blog post not just your blog. I like to read and comment on all of you but I can not always do it right away and I do not have time to look for it. Thanks!
~ Visit, Visit, Visit! Have fun encouraging each other. :) 

SchoolHouse Review ~ WriteShop

WriteShop is a creative writing program that helps to pursue creativity in a fun and encouraging atmosphere.

We received WriteShop Jr. D for this review. It came with Junior Activity Pack w/ Fold-N-Go Grammar , Book D ($45.95), Junior Teacher's Guide Book D ($45.95) and Time Saver Pack ($14.95). The program  is geared toward children ages 8-11. It is an ideal program for 3rd and 4th graders but can be used with reluctant 5th and 6th graders as well.

WriteShop Review
I was a little overwhelmed at first when this all came in the mail. Once I actually sat down and read through the program, I realized my overwhelmed feelings were a bit overboard. It is actually very easy to understand but you do have to read through it. I tend to try and jump right in sometimes. That will not work with this program. Very similar to a man needed to stop and ask have to read the directions!

There are a few sample schedules in the Teachers Guide to choose from. We went with the 3 week lesson plan. That allowed us to use the program over a whole year. It also allowed me to do it with 3 children at a time. Including my disabled daughter, Taylor. The pace worked for us. If you want to get it done faster, you can choose one of the 2 week lesson plans.

The 3 week plan gave me some freedom. You only do the lessons 3 days a week. We only do a 4 day school week. So that way we were not trying to cram it all in and if we had an off day, I was free to pick up another day. It worked.

Now as for the lessons...
Each week is set up the same. That makes it easy to fall into a routine. The lessons are very teacher involved. Which worked great for me but I know some families shy away from that. It works for me because I can involve Taylor without her feeling like I am towering over her all the time.

The program is ungraded. Better yet, the child learns to self-edit.

There is a total of 10 lessons. Each lesson is divided into 8 Activity Sets:

WriteShop Review
  • Fold and Go Grammar Folder Book & Reading Log
  • Pre-writing Activity
  • Model and Teach
  • Review and Skill Builder & Journal Writing Practice
  • Brain-storming
  • Writing Project
  • Editing and Review
  • Publishing the Writing Project
  • Evaluating the Work & Want to do More? (optional) 

Those 8 Sets are then worked on over the next 3 weeks (or 2 depending on the schedule you choose).

I love that each Activity Set is different. One day we may be playing a game or learning about nouns and the next writing out invitations or hosting a family comedy night! The program is definitely not a dry, repetitive program.

I think it is pretty obvious that we loved the program. It really was a great fit for us. There are no tears. Even from my very reluctant writing son. It does take a bit of prep work but it is worth it. We will continue to work through the program and go on to the next level once this one is completed.

One more thing, I received the physical copies of this program. It also comes in a digital format that is offered a bit cheaper. You can read all The Crew reviews by clicking the banner below. Many of them reviewed the digital copy and other levels as well. 

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

SchoolHouse Review ~ Moving Beyond the Page

For the last few weeks, the kids and I have been having digging deep into Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis and Earth Cycles and Systems through a curriculum called Moving Beyond the Page.

Moving Beyond the Page Review

Moving Beyond the Page is a literature based, complete homeschool curriculum but it doesn't have to be. You can also pick and choose different units to study.

We received:
~ Language Arts Package ~ Elijah of Buxton (Ages 12-14) $20.92
~ Science Package ~ Earth Cycles and Systems (Ages 11-13) $41.97

The Language Arts Package came with a physical copy of Elijah of Buxton and access to their online course. Their online course is broken down by lessons. There are 11 lessons total and then a final project at the end. You can finish the course in approximately 3 weeks or spread it out longer. Lesson 1 was used to introduce us to the book. Then each lesson covered a few chapters. Each lesson is broken down to 3 parts. Intro, Activities and Conclusion. There is so much detail discussed in these 3 parts. Many of the activities are hands on. There is a ton of discussion. It is filled with links to many online resources. There are also some pages to print out and add to the child's school book, if you wish.

Elijah of Buxton is a story about an 11 year old boy that lives in Buxton, Canada. It is a settlement for runaway slaves. He was born free and is a bit on the "fra-gile" side. That is until he has to stand up and be a man. The online course does a wonderful job of pulling so many different aspects into it. It gave background information for the student that might not yet understand slavery and the underground railroad. It handled controversial subjects very well. For instance, once in the book Elijah starts to say the "n" words and is hit across the face and knocked to the ground. The course allows for a lot of discussion. Which was needed because my kids had never even heard the word. Although they don't actually say it in the book, it left the kids asking what he was going to say.

We LOVED the book and the study. I read the book a loud and we worked through the course together. If you know me well, you know that is how I like it. It fit our family perfect. I was even left with an accent long after we were done with the book!

The Science Package ~ Earth Cycles and Systems was a complete physical product. It came with 3 books, Carbon-Oxygen and Nitrogen Cycles, The Water Cycles and Eyewitness Book Ecology. Plus a spiral bound study guide. The physical copy is very similar to the online course. There were 12 lessons total and a final project at the end. The study guide is consumable so you do have to buy one for each student.

 I liked having he study guide actually in my hands but I must say I like the online courses better. I can just bring it up on our iPad and have easy access to the links provided. I can also print pages for all 4 kids instead of having to buy 4 books.  We did enjoy the science program. We love science around here so as long as the kids are getting their hands dirty, they are pretty happy. I think their favorite experiment was decomposing fruit. It was in lesson 8 which was talking about The Carbon Cycle. I am not up on all of my science terms so I really appreciate a curriculum that lays it all out for me. Moving Beyond ht pages definitely does that!

I love that this curriculum is not dry. Each lesson taught important grammar but it weaved in hands on activities and visuals from web links. It was a perfect fit last year and I am happy to announce continued the tradition this year.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

4th of July Party!

We had a fun weekend.

Brian ended up getting 4 days off for the 4th. It was so awesome. I had to take the opportunity to throw a fun party.

We made candy dots the night before but that was about all the prep work we did. Everything else was made the next day. I'm such a procrastinator.

Before the actual party I had to snap some family pictures.

(My favorite! I wish a Brian and I were on were switched with Morgan and Alyssa but I'm not complaining!)

Of course, there was lots of food!

The menu ~
BBQ Ribs
Cubed potatoes
Macaroni Salad
Strawberry Cream Pie
Chips & Dip
Homemade Lemonade
Pretzel bite things I found on Pinterest

We are dessert first. I'm cool like that. ;)

We even made decorations! They were a lot of fun to make and easy too.

We played 2 games.

Balloon Pinatas! I put some candy in 4 balloons. We tried rocks but that didn't work so well. Although Alyssa did get hers with the rock. Then we switched to a homemade dart. It was made with a straw and pins.

Then we had a scavenger hunt. I found clues online. The last clue led to sparklers, smoke bombs and other money wasters.

The neighbors even let off fireworks for us to enjoy right from the front yard! I didn't get any good pictures of that.

Around 11, I feel into bed very happy but completely exhausted!


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