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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Institute for Excellence in Writing Schoolhouse Review Crew 2014 #hsreviews #hsmommas #hsgrammar

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Fix It! Grammar Review



    We have had the pleasure of reviewing for Institute for Excellence in Writing before so I of course jumped at the chance to try out their new and improved grammar curriculum, Fix It! Grammar. There are 6 books to choose from and are geared for grades 3-12. I used the placement test to see which book would be best for the boys to start with, they are in 10th and 11th grades and have had some Grammar studies up to now so I knew we did not need to start with book 1, and it took us to Fix It! Grammar: Frog Prince, or Just Deserts [Book 3], we were sent the Student Book($15) and Teacher's Manual ($19) and since I wanted to use it for both boys together the Teacher's Guide came with download instructions for the Student Book to be printed off. I did this for both boys so there was no fighting, yes there would have been an argument about who got the real book and who got the one printed by mom.
Fix It! Grammar Review

   After I printed out the books we set up the boys "notebooks" which were really 3 ring binders. We used divider tabs to section out the book into the 4 sections. If you are using the printed book you would only need 2 sections as the first two are in the spiral bound Student Book. My boys are not big fans of grammar and writing and we have struggled with finding something that is not too overwhelming and would not cause a bunch of griping and whining. Guess What? I think we finally found it! Fix It! Grammar from IEW is the answer to my Grammar prayers. These lessons take no more than 15 minutes a day for 4 days a week. This schedule works great for us as we have co-op on Thursdays and soon will not be doing school on that day as we are gone for most of it. Then add in all of the boys new out of the house classes and quick lessons that get straight to the point are just what we need this year as we get accustomed to our new crazy schedule.
Fix It! Grammar Review


   Just one sentence a day! Yes you read that right, one sentence a day to work on and you get to uncover a story as you go along making the kids want to keep working just to find out what happens in the story. Yes my boys are actually enjoying their Grammar lessons and I find them often working ahead of schedule. What on Earth has happened to them? They have been transformed into compliant students who are actually not complaining instead they are doing more than they are asked. Why had I not found this sooner, it sure would have saved me a lot of grief and less tears in our homeschool classroom.  In book 3 the boys are learning and reviewing indents, capitalization, homophones and usage, apostrophes, comparative and superlative adjectives, and
verbs. All just one sentence at a time. For boys that hate to write this has been so refreshing. There is no feeling of despair or feeling overwhelmed. One sentence and then they are done. Reading, editing and rewriting. One step at a time, as they rewrite the sentences in their notebook they are in fact writing the story. So when they are done they will have rewritten the complete story. If I asked them to write a story they would have had a fit but doing it one sentence at a time they are not even thinking about it. So the results are calm students who are not complaining about all of this writing. They are simply adding to it each day.

   There are also Grammar cards that go with the rules you are learning each week, we added these to the binder by using a vinyl zipper pouch that I had found during school supply shopping for a quarter. I did not know what I was going to use them for when I found them but they sure came in handy for this class. This helps to keep everything organized and together. When printing these out I actually printed them on heavy weight cardstock I had handy for scrapbooking. This makes them more sturdy and less apt to rip when the boys are using them.

   The Teacher's Manual has been a life saver for me as the boys work through this curriculum. The answers are there for me to easily check their work, including the definitions for the bolded vocabulary words. There is the pages that the students are to be working on so that I can see exactly what is required of them and all of the answers and helpful hints for me as I help them if they get stuck. Reassurance that they may not catch all of the mistakes and that this is OK and just leaves and opportunity to learn from their mistakes. This has helped me to help them in more ways than I can even count. There is very little required from me as the teacher for the students to be able to complete their assignments, I basically go over the "Learn It" section with them on Mondays and then they are off and running on their own the rest of the week. Then on Friday I go over their work and point out any fixes they did not catch on their own, then they rewrite the sentence with all of the errors corrected and then they are ready for the next week. Being that they are such short lessons helps keep them on task and they do not end up bored. The other plus is that if we have a field trip or something else that comes up that will interfere with a days school work it is very easy to double up and do more than one lesson on a day. This has helped us keep on schedule and not fall behind.

   All in all my boys are truly enjoying Grammar for the first time ever. We are no longer arguing about getting their language arts work done and it has helped immensely by making things calmer and I know they are learning more as they are not focusing on "all of the work" like they did with other curriculums. This is the complete package you get it all in just these two books and there are 6 levels so there is something for all grades 3-12. Use the placement test or start at the beginning, I know we will be moving onto Book 4 after we finish this one, I hope and pray they come out with some more so we never have to go back to the old way of learning Grammar. IEW is a win for our family and I am sure it will be for yours too, you just have to try it and realize it is what you have been looking for all along. Who knew Grammar could be this easy and fun too!
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday Alyx's first car

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Friday, September 19, 2014

My Student Logbook Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsreviews #hsmommas #homeschoolorganization #studentplanner

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     Are your kids busy, independent learners, a child who needs a visual of what needs to be done and what has been accomplished? If you answered yes to any or all of those, then this review is for you. My Student Logbook is a company created by a homeschool family, there are many Student Logbooks to choose from as far as undated or dated and many cover choices. As you can see here we chose the dated with the American Flag cover. Our dates run from Aug 1- July 31, there are other choices such as one dated for the calendar year or undated so you may start it when you would like.
My Student Logbook Review
 The books come very well made and spiral bound with a clear plastic sheet cover to help keep it clean. There are 6 checklist pages and if you needed to you could make more, and there are 53 weekly pages as well. Along with the basics each book includes a few info pages, such as an intro, the setup instructions, and using the logbook to create a High School Transcript, I know I will definitely be putting that aspect to good use this year. I originally picked this for Alyx my 11th grader, I chose the American Flag cover because he is in auxiliary of the Air Force and we have many families in different branches of the Military. I am going to be ordering Taylor one and I will choose the option for his to start in January, but I have yet to decide on a cover, he is harder to pin down choices with.   


My Student Logbook Review
The one thing that stood out to me the most about this planner verses other student planners is the set up is quick and unless the task change all the time you have to only set it up once to a couple of times and you are good to go for the whole year. I know are tasks really only change 2-4 times a year based on the classes the boys are taking outside of the home. We are in one homeschool program that only changes 2x a year but we are in another that changes 3x a year and then of course there is Summer "vacation". So you can see where this is perfect. I used to have to write their agenda each week and it took so much longer to prepare for the week. This has made my life so much simpler as well as for Alyx. There is no "Mom, you forgot to fill out my planner I do not know what needs to be done." It is always there and in the small space next to the item I can put what day and time each activity or class or assignment is happening or the due dates. For instance Alyx has CAP on tuesdays, Wednesdays he takes ART outside of the home, Thursdays we will beginning our co-op at the end of October, and on Fridays he is taking a Field Biology class at a local college.  
  Then you have the standard assignments, Spelling, Language Arts, Math and Social Studies as well as Writing and Bible assignments. This helps keep him on task so that he can manage his time more wisely, as he also has a part time job as well at the local hardware store. Each week he folds the task list over the page he is working on keeping the pages between the folded task list that correspond with that list. So the quarters or semesters are all within the folds, this aids in helping make the transcript, I can quickly flip through the pages for that marking period his grades for his assignments are in the squares for the date he took the test or turned in his assignment and I can easily add them into the program I use to track his grades. This has also helped streamline my grade keeping and free up some of my time. 

 All in all this has been a great addition to our homeschool and home life, it has been a time saver as well as helping to keep my homeschool more organized. We will definitely be using these for both the boys from now on and I will be telling all of my friends about them as well. I highly recommend this to everyone and so wish we would have found this much sooner in our homeschool journey. I am even considering ordering one for Nick, who is a Freshmen away at college. This would work for anyone I am thinking even adults, although it is recommended for 2nd graders and up. They sell for $15.00 for the physical student logbooks and there are PDF versions as well for prices ranging from $10-$20. Be sure to order yours today. Please also check out the banner below to see what other crew reviews to see how their  student logbooks worked for them.


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

7 Minute Life daily planner Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #HSMOMMAS #HSREVIEWS #dailyplanner

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   Are you a person that uses a planner? Are you someone who SHOULD use a planner? Does your planner act just like a glorified calendar? What if I told you there was a planner out there that can do that and SO much more!! I know I had a hard time believing it until I saw it for myself. The 7 Minute Life has a planner that does just that! It is The 7 Minute Life daily planner and I am going to tell you how it works as I was blessed to review this amazing spiral bound planner for the last several weeks. 

Now I know I usually bring you products that are geared to the kids and their school work or fun time but this particular review is just for YOU! The MOM! We need some love in the "curriculum" department too! That is just what I feel this planner is, curriculum for me or you, the Mom! It is not the planner where you open it up and dive right in. There is some studying to do first, there are some videos to teach you all about the planner and how it will work to Prioritize, Organize and Simplify your entire Life. Then after the video I had several pages of "work" reading about all of the aspects of the planner and how to go about using it to make it work for me. This is not just a calendar but a tool. A tool to help rid your worried head of all the mental clutter that clouds our thinking. As moms we have a lot of worries some that are legitimate and some that are just junk and clutter that needs to be tossed to the curb. Who would have thought. So what exactly do you get, you get this spiral bound planner that has plastic covers to protect it from life's small mishaps, you know the dribble of coffee or the baby's bottle or junior's sippy cup. It's not water proof by any means it is after all a book, but this cover definitely helps. This is a 7.3" by 8.5" physical planner  just for you, the Mom, selling for $24.95 and has a money back guarantee. So you have nothing to lose except your mental clutter, your unorganized days and your lack of feeling like you get anything accomplished.



7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

After you do all of the "WORK" it is time to get started setting up your planner. There are several pages to jot things down and some may apply to you and some may not, for instance I do not work as in outside of our home, but I do in fact have a couple home based businesses and I consider my blogging and reviews work as well so here is where you would put all those things that are work related. There are also similar pages like unfinished household tasks as well as home repair tasks, otherwise known as the Honey Do list in my house. There is an annual calendar at a glance so you can see important things at a moments glance, such as vacations coming up, birthdays and anniversaries or anything else in the year ahead you need to know about. There is also my favorite the 90 day calendar worksheets, here you can see your life events in 3 month increments. This helps when there are busy kids like mine in the house. This year the social calendar and sports and extra classes seems to have exploded in our house so this could not have come at a better time. 
There are also pages for annual projects and tasks. Maybe you need to winterize your pool or in my case our camper. Then you need to open it back up when Spring arrives. How about Spring cleaning or Fall cleanup. The possibilities are ever changing and never ending with a busy family. The next set of calendars are your monthly calendar, they are not predated so you can fill them in for any month you begin with for Me it was August. There are planning pages for meetings. For me I am on a couple committees so this is very practical and handy. There is really something in this planner for every aspect of your life and if something truly doesn't fit you can adapt it to fit your specific needs. 
7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review
  One of my favorite yet some may think trivial parts of the planner is the very beginning, there is a half pocket that is great for holding our paper schedules from all of the boys activities, co-op, Civil Air Patrol, Martial Arts, Guitar you name it we have a schedule for it.



They stick out a tad at the top but that is ok they are there and I know where they are at all times.
This planner follows a flow chart... Priotities,Purpose,Life Goals, The timeline of your life,creating 90 day written goals and Today what are 5 things you are going to do before 11 am! I cannot tell you how this final task alone has helped make my life more productive and far less hectic. 

The first few pages are a bit of self evaluation if you want to say. What are the priorities in your life? Now tell me your top 10 in order of importance. This was a Huge step in getting myself in order. Then you are asked to "Discover your purpose" What is your purpose in your family, community and life? This was a hard task and I am still working on it but little by little I am adding to it. 
The next pages are where you actually begin your 7 Minute Life journey. It takes roughly 7 minutes every day to jot down what needs to be accomplished. There is no better feeling when it comes to your planner than to begin checking off tasks that have been completed. 
Here you begin with Daily contacts, who do you need to call or email or text today? My favorite 5 things I will do before 11 am. 7 minute life connections, Is there people that you need to connect with for just a few minutes, this may mean a phone call, a chat with a neighbor on the driveway or sending an email or letter in the mail. Unfinished tasks from the day or week before that need to be accomplished. Lasty what money did you spend today, I know for me sometimes I sit there and say I had $20 where did it go, this has definitely helped me cut down on the frivolous spending and account for the money that goes out of my wallet. 
At the very bottom there are boxes to check for water intake and sleep, exercise and reflection as well as reading. food intake and a very important accountability check mark " Did I do what I said I would do today?" Now when I first started  will admit that it was Summer and I was far more into being accountable than I am now that school is back in full swing so I did not always get everything done that I said I would but the last few weeks I have been really trying and am happy to report that I am almost always accomplishing everything I set out to do and it leaves me feeling at peace at night and in turn I am sleeping better since I have alleviated some of my mental clutter.
The next page has a place for Appointments, where do you need to go and who do you need to meet. Doctors, classes and meetings. Voicemails that need to be dealt with and if there are thank you notes that need to be written and sent. There is also a nice big blank spot for additional notes and info. 
There are daily and monthly progress report sheets so you can self reflect on where you need improvement still and where you have shown gains in getting your life on track and more organized. Some places for additional notes and self examination. I know this planner as a whole has helped me get more control of my life, not feel so disorganized mentally and to feel that I actually do accomplish things even when I am feeling as if I do not get a thing done each day. It has helped get my kids where they need to be and when without always grasping for straws on what needs to be accomplished each day. I can honestly say life is running more smoother since I began using The 7 Minute Life daily planner. I highly recommend this to every Mom out there it will be the single best investment you can make in yourself and your family. $24.95 is all it takes and you will be back to thank me for it after your first week of using it. As always do not just take my word for it click on the banner below and see what all of the other crew members that got to review it are saying about their experience with their 7 Minute daily life planner. Also be sure to check out all of the social media links for The 7 minute life, there are tons of valuable resources all over for them. 








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Wordless Wednesday Taylor's new adventures

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday Our first official day of school 2014/2015

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Under Drake's Flag Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2014 #hsmommas #hsreviews

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Analytical Grammar Review



Our family loves to listen to Audio Dramas, it has become a treasured family event in our home during our family Circle Time. So we were so intrigued when offered a selection from Heirloom Audio Productions the CD we received was Under Drake's Flag, The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.

This beautifully packaged 2 CD set comes with four bonus features, first is the "instant" access of a download version of Under Drake's Flag, second the E-study guide which offers you 30 pages of a Christian stand point on the story as well as discussion questions on how your kids and family can incorporate the lessons into their daily lives and what they learned in the audio drama. Thirdly, the MP3 Soundtrack download. First Audio-Theater Soundtrack ever produced! Contains all the original music by Emmy-winning composer John Campbell. John also composed the original score for C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. Last but certainly not least a beautiful printable copy,  suitable for framing of Drake's Prayer. All of the bonuses have a combined value of $70 but you can get all of them and the physical 2 disc set for $29.95 This is truly suitable for the whole family, with recommended ages of 6 and up. 

I can tell you I was impressed from the minute we received our first email containing our downloadable content. Everything is carefully thought out and comes across so beautifully. We enjoyed listening to the adventures and hearing the story of G.A. Genty. We chose to do this as a family over several nights. We used the included study guide and the 3 main principles, Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words. After we got through all of the discussion questions there were then 3 Bible stories that tie into the story that help you dive in deeper to the Godly Character we all want to possess. At the end there is a Biography of Sir Frances Drake, a Bibliography and a recommended reading list for folks with older kids like me, with my boys being in 10th and 11th grade I am always looking to take a study and go further with it, making it more meaty as I like to put it. This allows you to step further and do a study on Sir Frances Drake. We are just beginning that leg of our Under Drake's Flag journey. The boys are gaining more than a History lesson, they are getting solid foundation of Godly Character training. I am in love with this Audio Drama. 

Sometimes you listen to an audio drama and then you never really give it another thought!  After listening to both CDS that give you 2 full hours of listening entertainment, and then being able to use the accompanying study guides this is definitely a complete package and  is not one of those listen and leave kind of adventures.  This will have your family and children talking and learning for a long time to come. This is a not only an adventure to captivate audiences but it is one that teaches and touches on Godly Character and our purpose in life. I know that this is something I have pounded into my kids and it was a nice break from the normal Bible Study and Character trait training we are used to. They seemed to really hang on every length of this adventure and want to hear more. We broke the CD up into 20 minute segments, so we could truly grasp what we had heard and learned in smaller chunks. After we completed the whole 2 CD set we went back through it and listened to it all at once. We picked up on things we missed the first time and this led to even more discussion. We cannot wait to tell our friends about this, and I am thinking this would be a perfect class for our older kids at our homeschool co-op. There are larger kits available at a discounted price that are great for group learning and even youth group bible study. 

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