Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - September 6, 2014

The last couple of weeks have been interesting around here. After deciding what we were going to be working on this year, I ended up changing things up. But that's one of the beautiful things about homeschooling, isn't it?

My original plan had been to put the kids weekly work in one folder each and then pick and choose each day. After a few days of doing that, I realized there HAD to be an easier way to do it. So, I created folders for each day of the week, one set for each child. Little Man's are blue, and Baby Girl's are yellow. I'll sort their printed pages in to each day, and mark any online work in my calendar. My plan is to work on the next week's lessons each Wednesday.

Some of the things I've been doing have been inspired by others. I recently purchased the Character Badges from The Modest Mom. We're still in the early days, so it's too early to say it's a success yet. But I will say the kids are learning that it's better to fill up the "good" chart instead of the "bad" chart. 

I also recently found a meal plan notebook that I thought I could actually keep up with. I came across it at Homemade By Carmona. It's free and she gives great directions for setting up your own.

Once I decided to do the daily folders, we finished up the work that was in the original folders for the kids, so this coming Monday, we're starting fresh. 

Yesterday afternoon, Little Man and I did some art with chalk pastels and using tutorials on We did the Tree Silhouette and Harvest Moon Nocturn. It surprised me that he wanted to do some, since he's usually NOT that in to art.

This one is mine.

This one is Little Man's.

I did this one on my own, then he came in wanting to do one, and did the one below.

This is a "hummingbird" he wanted to do by himself.

And that's about it for our week. I'm off to a women's event at our church this morning, the kids are going to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa so Big Man and I can celebrate my birthday. Our "celebration" will probably consist of going to bed early. LOL

Have a wonderful weekend!



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

UberSmart Math Facts ~ {TOS Review}

UberSmart Math Facts Review
This review comes to you from UberSmart Software. We were recently given the opportunity to use and review their downloadable software, UberSmart Math Facts

The UberSmart Math Facts software is geared towards grades K-6, but if you have older students who could use some help in reinforcing their math, they could use this also. My two are in grades 2nd and 3rd, so I knew this program would work for them. 

We use the program 3 days a week, with them taking turns at the computer. The software is easy enough for them to get in to, that they don't always need my help. We started with the Dot Cards with my daughter and Flash Cards for my son. The program is simple enough to get started that they could get in to it on their own and get started.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

Your student starts out Learning then moves on to Practice, Test and Compete. Skills they will work on include Keyboard Entry, which is 10-key numbers, and Flash Cards for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Addition and Subtraction go up through the 9's while Multiplication and Division can go from the 9's through the 20's.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
Using UberSmart Math Facts has actually made learning math fun for my children. They are actually starting to memorize what they are learning. Since it teaches in number groups, I don't have to worry about them working on something they're not ready for yet. And once they've grasped a concept, the software filters those problems out.

You can adjust the time limit on tests, even prevent them from retaking a test, if that's your choice. The software tracks their response times on each problem and during tests, they can see the previous and upcoming problems, just as they could if they were taking a test on paper. 

When they're taking a test, if they need to skip a problem, they can and it will be put at the end of the test where they are given another chance to answer it. 

While math was never my favorite or best subject when I was in school (a long time ago), my kids seem to be enjoying it. This makes me a happy momma, since one of my major worries when we started this homeschooling journey was teaching them math. While we are still working on just the basics, but seeing them learning and like it, gives me hope for the future. At least until we hit algebra, trigonometry, and the like.

UberSmart Math Facts was created by homeschool dad, David Kocur, when his wife asked him to create a math flash card program to help their kids. After tirelessly searching the internet and not liking what he found, he decided to create their own. And the results with their kids was amazing. After seeing the results with his own children, he decided he needed to share it with others. 

You can purchase UberSmart Math Facts on the website for the low price of $24.95 and you can use it on all the computers in your home. There's also a Professional Version (for schools), the price varies depending on the number of students. It runs on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 at this time.

You can also check out the reviews by my fellow crew mates, here.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Happy Kids Songs ~ {TOS Review Crew}

Happy Kids Songs Review
Our latest review item is from Happy Kid's Songs. This is one of those reviews that I had a feeling my daughter would like, but wasn't so sure about my son, because he is, after all, a boy. He surprised me though and really got in to it.

Happy Kids Songs Review

We were able to review 3 downloaded albums of 5 songs each - Friends and Sharing, Happiness and Attitude and Manners and Character. We also received the Happy Kids Songs Workbook, a physical product to use with the songs. 
Happy Kids Songs Review

The first time I turned the songs on, we were doing our chores, and we often listen to music to get us moving. Both kids came running down the hall from their rooms to see what was going on. This wasn't the music we usually listen to!
Happy Kids Songs Review

Of all the songs on the three albums our favorites were "Everybody Wants To Find A Friend, Shake It Out & Dance, Better Together, Be Good To Yourself, H-O-N-E-S-T-Y and The Golden Rule.

Most of our time was just spent listening to the songs while we were doing something else, such as our chores, or playing a game, even running errands.

After spending some time just listening, I decided it was time to implement some of the activities in the workbook. The workbook contains a lyrics page and activity page for each section in the front section of the book, then in the back section are over 100 lessons and activities for parents and teachers to use. 
Happy Kids Songs Review

One of the kids' favorites was an activity for Shake It Out & Dance. We took some small pieces of paper and wrote out some of the the "I Can'ts" they feel they have. We then turned on the song and in the right spot in the song, threw them up in the air and danced them in to the ground. 

For the song, Be Good To Yourself, we used dry erase markers and wrote special messages on their bedroom mirrors for them to see each morning. We also made "I Like Me" booklets to help them both see all the good things about themselves they don't often see.

The book and songs are geared toward ages 3-8, but these songs could work on even the littlest ones, up to probably age 9 or even 10. You can find the workbook and albums on the Happy Kids Songs website. The albums are $4.95 for 5 songs, and the workbook is $12.56.  There are also FREE downloads for parents and teachers, and if you sign up for the mailing list, you receive the Song of the Month FREE.

Dr. Mac, the creator of Happy Kids Songs, is a singer, songwriter and producer and also the creator of the PBS series, Jay Jay The Jet Plane. He is also a child and family psychologist and the Clinical Director of the Family Therapy Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.

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Twitter: @howsyourfam

And don't forget to check out my fellow Crew Mates reviews.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament ~ {TOS Review Crew}

Wizzy Gizmo Review
I have never possessed a lot of deep biblical knowledge, and having two kids who are always asking questions and wanting to know more, that's not always a good thing on my part. So having the opportunity to review The Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament from Wizzy Gizmo has been something both my children and I have enjoyed. 

Wizzy Gizmo Review

This 27 card set is just chock full of information. Each card has a written summary on the front, along with how many chapters are in that book, a little note about the author and the date of writing. 

When you turn it over, be prepared! On the back, you will find the outline, key chapters, key passages, key doctrines and key people.

We started relatively slow, reading the summary every day for a week, then adding in the author, date of writing and number of chapters. (Did you know the phrase "The Kingdom of Heaven" appears 32 times in Matthew and nowhere else in the Bible?)

We then started using the back of the card and using a key verse and doctrine for memorization and handwriting practice. I created some handwriting practice worksheets for the kids to use to practice their handwriting by writing out the key verse we were working on that week.

Did you know Luke became a reporter, doctor, writer and a missionary? I didn't! Or how about that he wrote both the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts?

The cards can be used with ages 2 and up, yes, they're even a good thing for adults! You can find them at Wizzy Gizmo for $14.99. They are full-color, printed on cardstock and easy to read. While you're on the website, don't forget to check out the other great items they have too.

The website has numerous ideas for using the cards, depending on the age group you're working with. With the young ones, start slow, reading the card each day for a week. With the older ones, read and memorize the key verse, key chapters, references the key verses, outline and key people, then step it up a notch by having them share what they've learned.

Start your Bible study by reading the corresponding card, use them in your Sunday school. Use them to help you or your children learn Bible verses. Put them on a ring and keep them in your bag or purse. I wish I'd had these a few months ago when I was doing a study of Ephesians. Use them during your family devotion time to further expand what you're studying. Part of a homeschool co-op? If you have a Bible Study class with the kids, these would make a great resource!

I see us using these cards for years to come to help us with our Bible curriculum.

Make sure you check out the reviews from my fellow Crew Mates, they've reviewed the different products of Wizzy Gizmo! 

Connect with Wizzy Gizmo here:


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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - First Week of School

We are probably ahead of the game, but we started our homeschool year this past Monday. So far, so good - the kids are actually excited about what we're doing and get up ready to go every morning. My son is wanting to do lessons individually, but I'm trying to explain to him that for the most part, that won't work.

Our Curriculum

This year we are utilizing quite a few of the review items we have received by being on the Review Crew along with items I already had and free items from online.

Math - CTC Math and UberSmart Math Facts
Spelling - Spelling You See and Schoolhouse Spelling from
Language/Writing - Rebus Writing Books and worksheets
Science - Apologia - Flying Creatures, My First Report (Hewitt Homeschooling)
Social Studies - Apologia - What On Earth Can I Do?
History - Veritas Press
Bible - Wizzy Gizmo, We Choose Virtues, and a Character Study download from Confessions of A Homeschooler.
Foreign Language - See It Say It Spanish
We are also using a Home Ec book that a friend had given me and Theme Pockets books.

Our Schedule

I start my morning pretty early, getting up with the husband at 5 A.M. After he leaves for work, I have my coffee, quiet time, bible study, start a load of laundry and work on anything that needs done, reviews, Plexus work, etc.

I get the kids up at 8 or shortly after and we have breakfast and bible time. Then from 9:30 till 12:00 we're doing lessons. We break at noon for lunch and I check their work, then at 1:00 they go outside for an hour. At 2 we have read aloud time for half an hour, then it's time for home ec, theme pockets or Spanish, depending on the day. From 3-4, they have quiet time while I get a few things taken care of. Then at 4, I start dinner prep and one of them helps me, rotating every other day.

Another thing I'm trying this year was inspired by a pin on Pinterest. I created a notebook for each of them, and hopefully can stick with it to do one every year.

Their notebook includes their morning routine and schedule, first day of school interview, and assessment along with tabs for each subject where I'll keep test results, writing examples, etc.

Our School Room

For our first two years we've done school at the dining table, but we recently "inherited" a round dining table that fits in the breakfast nook in our kitchen. The kids and I have been doing school there, and so far it seems to be working.



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