Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday Landry Academy Mom's Science Retreat 2013

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Simple Woman's Daybook Getting Back into the Fall Routine #TSWD #hsmommas #mobsociety

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   I am slowly getting back into the routine we call life during the school year. One of the things I have missed are these Simple Woman's Daybook posts. If you feel like jotting quick thoughts of your week feel free to join in by heading over to http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/.


Outside my window... The glorious sun is shining and it is a picture perfect Fall Day.

I am thinking...There is not enough hours in my day...

I am thankful... for my right to homeschool

In the kitchen... there are dishes that need to be done and a floor that needs swept and mopped.

I am wearing...my pajamas still... even though it is ten minutes to 11. I feel like a slacker today. Again a perk of homeschooling, guess what the kids are still in theirs too.

I am creating...my class packets for the class I am teaching at our co-op this semester, we are doing punch art greeting cards, the topic this week Fall Harvest and Thanksgiving.

I am going...to be leaving today to attend a homeschool Mom's Science Retreat hosted by Landry Academy. I am driving with a friend from our co-op, should be a blessed event. I am looking so forward to a refreshing couple days away and learning more Science to teach these Science crazed boys of mine, Dad is in charge while I am gone.

I am wondering...How I am going to accomplish all that needs to be done today before I leave.

I am reading...The Homeschool Mom's Bible.

I am hoping...to hear good news about the new used car we are hoping to purchase next week. If it is part of God's plan it will all work out like I hope.

I am looking forward to...our very last camping session of the year.

I am learning... That I cannot do everything I set out to do each day and I need to learn to prioritize and delegate.

Around the house... It is very quiet as everyone is doing quiet work today.

I am pondering...getting dressed and packing for my trip and then I will have the remainder of my time to prep for my class

A favorite quote for today...

One of my favorite things...Is listening to my boys ramble on about something they are excited about or have learned.

A few plans for the rest of the week:Science Camp for me, the first day of co-op and leaving for camp.

A peek into my day...Alyx attending his Marine Biology Class from Bridgeway Homeschool Academy, look for my review soon.

The Presidential Game Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2013 #hsreviews #hsmommas #iwanttobepresident

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If your homeschool family is anything like ours I am fairly certain that you like to incorporate fun learning games into your homeschool day. I definitely enjoy them most when they coincide with what we are learning at the moment. Our review opportunity for The Presidential Game came just in time for us to begin our semester on Government and our full swing curriculum of American History. What is more American than the dream of becoming President of the United States.  Geared for ages 11 and up, including adults and selling for $35 this is a wonderful asset to any homeschool classroom.

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One thing I noticed immediately upon opening our package.... The vibrant colors and art work. Screams Patriotic doesn't it?? I love it!! 
Whether you sit on the Democratic or Republican side in real life, it is fun to play this game. You and your family will learn all of the ins and outs of what it takes to win the votes of the people and become President of the United States. As you campaign across the US, you will have to choose to campaign or fundraise, and earn the votes of the people. How do you win? Well just like in real life you need to gain minimum of 270 electoral votes to become president. Now it is almost impossible to do this all in one day, so to help keep track of who or which team is in the running, you will gain access to a website that displays the standings just like on TV during the elections. On your board you will keep track by placing red or blue playing pieces on the states that have been "won". On the website it will keep count of the electoral votes by color as well. Giving the points to each side as earned. 
                     This game opened up for some interesting dialogue between my children and myself. I have taught my children to have an opinion and stand up for that opinion, not that I always agree but it is important for them to find themselves. I have always explained the process of the elections and have always taken them with me to vote. I think it is important for them to see their parents voting and we always talk about why I am voting the way that I am. I have never once swayed them to follow my voting beliefs and it certainly showed in this game. They made their choices quite clear. Now do I think this will be the way they vote when it comes time for their first election to vote in. Let me just say I hope not, "wink". Either way I love my children no matter which side of the political fence they sit on. Maybe we just need to keep playing this game.
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My boys have enjoyed picking their "side" and racing against each other to see which one of them will be voted the New US President. There is no living with the winner that is for sure. The status surely goes to their head. When we completed one round and had a winner, we started all over again and switched sides. There were 4 people playing our game so we did it in teams, 2 against 2 and then pulled straws the first time we played to see who would be the President and who would be the Vice President and then when we switched sides we flip flopped the roles so everyone would have a chance. My boys were surprised how much they enjoyed this game and how much they learned from playing. It certainly helped brush up on some knowledge they had already obtained and also gave them some new insight. 

In closing, I highly recommend all homeschool families add this to their library of educational games, it is fun and insightful and an invaluable teaching tool. I think children younger than 11 could play if placed on a team with older siblings. My boys were all in the older than 11 category so I could not test this theory but you can always click on the link below and see what the other crew members had to say about their experience with The Presidential Game, many have younger children than I and may have a stronger opinion on the age ranges. This would make a wonderful family Christmas gift. I know in our house their is always a stack of board games for one of our family gifts. We make family game night a priority for bonding in our home and I think this would be a fun game even if you do not homeschool. Head over the website and order your copy of The Presidential Game today. 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday Alyx, Papa's Handy Helper

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Monday, September 16, 2013

PeopleKeys Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2013 #hsreviews #hsmommas #learningstyles

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  My boys are so different in personality and many differences in their learning styles as well. I do my best to meet both their needs but sometimes I feel I am falling short when it comes to Taylor. So imagine my interest when PeopleKeys popped up for me to review and one of my choices was their StudentKeys Student Binder. Full of 6 workbooks that would help me figure out who my son is inside and how he ticks. Selling for $49.00 this is an invaluable tool to help you unlock the mystery within your children. Geared for High School and College folks, I thought Taylor would be the best candidate since he is just beginning High School as a Freshmen this Fall. He will be turning 14 in less than 2 months.  Each book except for the goal setting one, has a suggested time frame so as to not overthink the answers, these are meant to be first thing that pops into your head kind of thing, The goal setting one did not have a time frame and also did not have a personality trait to go with the answers. This is meant to put the personality traits learned in the other areas to paper and create a plan to go forth and improve. 

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Now you may be wondering what I am babbling about?? How on Earth can a few workbooks tell me all about my child? Well they use the DISC assessment method and it critiques each area of a person, Cognitive Thinking, Goal Setting, Personality Styles, Career Choice, Values and Perceptual Learning styles. Each component in it's own workbook with it's own scoring because after all we can be different in different areas. 

The Cognitive Thinking Style Workbook, was the one that we pretty much knew what the outcome was going to be, we had already figured out that Taylor is a hands on learner. Yet we learned so much more. The book answered questions such as how he works alone or in groups and what kind of thinker he really is verses how he learns and how we can use this information to help him be a better student and really help him excel. I was surprised to learn that Taylor is not just one kind of Cognitive thinker but a myriad of two evenly based traits. He came in a little higher in one than the other but still I feel he is a little of both. His personality traits for this book were Literal and Experiential. I found this all fascinating. 

The Career Choice workbook was the one Taylor was the most excited about, both his brother's have already pegged what they want to do in life and Taylor is feeling left behind because he just really is not sure where he is headed. I try to tell him he is still young and that many people do not know what they are going to do even when they are in college. I tell him constantly that GOD has a plan he just has to be patient and wait. Taylor is a lot of things but patient is not one of them. Anyway he was excited to see what type of work he is geared for.  Taylor is struggling with his results in this category, it came up with results that say he would be a good candidate for a department head or retail sales, and Taylor is not a people person but the other ones did kind of fit him as he is a great detective, such as forensic expert or researcher. I could see him finding a cure for MS, wouldn't that be cool. If my son could be on the research team that finds a cure for the disease I battle each day. Only God truly knows the plan for Taylor but this may help him get on the right path. 

The Values book was interesting, it explored several areas of Values, Loyalty, Equality, Personal Freedom and Justice. Taylor's scores indicate his values are in the Personal Freedom and Justice areas. I was surprised at how this described him to a T. These were very accurate and surprisingly truthful. 

Perceptual learning, this is where we knew the results before he even took the test. Taylor is a Visual and Kinesthetic Learner. So there were no surprises and we did not gain much insight from this particular book. It just reaffirmed what we already knew. It is not to say it was not helpful, it was fun to see that we actually knew something about Taylor. Just kidding. I think I know my son more than I actually was giving myself credit for. 

The Goal Setting workbook, this is the book that I talked about earlier in the review. There were no time constraints and it was meant to help you take the information you learned from all of the timed tests and put them into practice by setting goals and to put into motion ways to help you use the information from  your scores and make a plan to improve in all areas. Goal setting has never been one of Taylor's strengths so I am interested to see if he follows his plans he made. 

The Personality Style book was the most fun in my opinion. We were pretty sure we had Taylor's Personality pegged but this led to some helpful insight of why Taylor has the personality he does and how we can help him use it to his full potential. Taylor is prominently Dominance personality, he is a Risk -Taker, very Direct, even if it is socially inappropriate, we often wondered if that was all his Asperger's but after taking this test I feel it is just his personality. He can be very argumentative but usually only when he is feeling wronged or standing up for something he believes in. 
Here is what PeopleKeys has to say about the DISC Personality Assessment...

What does the DISC Personality Assessment measure?

The DISC Personality Assessment measures the four quadrants of personality, as created by William Marston. Each person has a unique combination of four personality traits (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness). 
•Dominance (also known as Drive)- As one's DISC Personality Type relates to power, control, and assertiveness Personality Traits: Direct, Decisive, Risk-Taker, Problem Solver, Argumentative 
•Influence (also known as Inducement)- As one's DISC Personality Type relates to communication and social situations Personality Traits: Outgoing, Enthusiastic, Optimistic, Persuasive, Impulsive, Emotional 
•Steadiness (also known as Submission) - As one's DISC Personality Type relates to patience, thoughtfulness, and stability Personality Traits: Good listener, Predictable, Understanding, Supportive, Friendly, Generous 
•Conscientiousness (also known as Compliance)- As one's DISC Personality Type relates to structure and organization Personality Traits: Accurate, Precise, Careful, Correct, Systematic, Analytical, High-standards 

So there you have it, what DISC is and how it tells you about your personality as a well rounded individual or that of your child. I think I was much more excited for Taylor to get started then he was, I mean what kid wants to take a binder full of quizzes? Shortly after he began though he realized the tests were easy to take with multiple choice, not requiring lengthy written out answers. He was also interested to learn about himself and maybe it would help him in areas where he is struggling. 
In conclusion, I feel this was a fun way to really get to know Taylor, he enjoyed taking the tests, even though he was apprehensive at the beginning. I am looking forward to getting both my other boys their own StudentKeys Binder. I feel it is a helpful tool as they edge towards adulthood. Especially with Nick leaving for College next Fall. This is a valuable coarse that I am using for  partial credit in Psychology for the boys for a High School credit. Learning about yourself is helpful before you begin to learn about others. This was a great first step into our Psychology unit beginning in a few weeks.  PeopleKeys offers the opportunity for not only the Binder full of workbooks in the StudentKeys Student Binder but you can purchase the books individually for $13 each if you are only interested in a few. I think the Binder is a great value and all books are more helpful than I expected. There are also other products available some online and offering other learning opportunities.   Please visit the other crew review to find out about all that PeopleKeys has to offer. Just simply click the banner below. 

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Logic of English Rhythm of Handwriting Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2013 #hshandwriting #hsreviews #hsmommas

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I have been worried about my children not learning Cursive writing, our public schools here do not teach it anymore, but I feel it is an essential part of becoming a functioning adult. The problem was finding a stress free way to teach it. Not just me telling them how to do it. To my rescue came the opportunity to review Logic of English and their Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive curriculum. 

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Now I was torn in which one to pick as my boys struggle with Manuscript writing as well due to their lack of good fine motor skills because of their Asperger's Syndrome. Sometimes people do better writing in cursive and their writing is far more legible than their printing. So I figured why not give it a try, we honestly cannot do any worse than we already were. My boys to say the least were not thrilled. They HATE writing so why would this be any different. Well boy were they wrong. 

This has to be the easiest, most relaxed way to teach handwriting. You need very little to get started and it is easy to dive right in as soon as it arrives. This curriculum is geared for ages 7 and up, I was worried it may be too childish for my boys 13 and 15 but my fear subsided as soon as I opened the book. The one thing that stood out to me immediately was that it did not teach letters in alphabetical order, which to me would be the natural way to begin. A to Z right?? Wrong!! The way Rhythm of Handwriting teaches is by grouping letters by strokes, I completely had a DUH! Moment when I saw this. For children ages 7 and up it is recommended to work on 2 letters per day which is the pattern we followed and worked well. This teaches that all lower case letters begin at the baseline and move upwards. This helps to teach fluid motion in writing.Included in our curriculum set was the Rhythm of Handwriting workbook sells for $18 for the physical copy and $15 for the PDF version. There is also some helpful add ons to go along with the workbook, such as student white boards for $12 each, which we received as well and then my favorite tool the Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference guide for $10. This makes it easy to see each letter and an explanation of how it is written. It is laminated so it is easy to wipe off and keep clean.  There is also a pack of Sandpaper Letters flash cards for $32 that allow the child to not only see how the letter is formed but feel it and trace it with their finger. This would have been great when the kids were younger and much more tactile. There are also desk strips and wall charts, you can see all of the components when visiting the Logic of English website as well as the Rhythm of Handwriting product pages. You will see all of the choices for both Cursive and Manuscript.

One of the things I noticed was that a letter than I know I have always struggled with has been changed to adapt more to the Manuscript form and that is the letter Q. To me and I am sure many the old school Capital Q never quite made sense to me. Maybe I need to learn how to write cursive the right way with Logic of English as well. It has been quite a few years since I was taught to write. I will not say how many but it is quite a few. With my MS I have noticed my writing is not as neat as it used to be and maybe this would help me out as well. You can teach an old dog new tricks!! This new way makes it much easier to transition from Manuscript to Cursive. I am seriously considering ordering the Manuscript set and going back and relearning the correct way to print for all of us. Maybe then the boys printing will be legible as well as their cursive. I am looking forward to reading the boys papers this year in cursive. I am proud of the progress they have been making, and I am happy to report that they do not dread writing class like they used to. I owe this in large part to Logic of English and their Rhythm of Handwriting. My boys may be behind in some areas especially when it comes to fine motor activities but with the help of companies like Logic of English they will catch up to their peers in no time and we can do so at their own pace. 
Be sure to check out all the crew reviews by clicking on the banner below and see which product from Logic of English they were given to review. 

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday Beautiful Sunset and Decorated my Scooter a little more. #trickedoutscooter

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday First Day of School 2013/2014

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Homeschool Spanish Academy Schoolhouse Review Crew Review 2013 #hsreviews #hsspanish #hsmommas

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   When it comes to certain subjects, as a homeschool parent I tend to want to leave it up to a professional that specializes in that particular subject. There is one in particular, Foreign Language. Especially considering I took 4 years of French in High School and today Spanish seems to be the dominant language of choice when choosing a foreign language. I was fortunate to be chosen to review Homeschool Spanish Academy again this year, but this time we did the High School Program.

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    Alyx is my one that is most interested in Foreign Language, Taylor not so much. So Alyx was the one that reviewed HSA again this time around. Homeschool Spanish Academy is an online Spanish class that is done via Skype. Your student interacts with a teacher straight from Guatemala. This gives them authentic dialect to learn from. There are classes for all learning levels and are geared from 5 years through Adults and arranged in learning categories such as Early Language, Middle School, High School and Adult.

   You start by creating your online account, adding in your student or students and then looking at the teacher's profiles. This lets you pick someone that is best suited for your child. Now you are encouraged to use different teachers throughout your classes. For us using the same teacher works best, since my boys have Asperger's Syndrome change is not always best. So we chose Luisa and stuck with her for all of our lessons. To assure we could have the same teacher and time period and day for each of Alyx's classes we scheduled all of his classes at the beginning and then we wrote them on our calendar. There is also an online planner for you to keep track of when your classes are on the HSA website. This comes in handy if you are away from home doing your lessons and need to verify when your next class is. Since this is all done online you can take your class anywhere so long as there is high speed internet that can support Skype without much lag. HSA will contact you before your first class to do a diagnostic test to make sure your internet supports their classes. This is quick and painless I promise.

   If you run into a problem they have wonderful Tech Support available to walk you through the problem to find a remedy to fix it. This happened twice for us and both times they were very helpful. This first problem we had was when we were away camping, I have a portable WiFi jet pack from my wireless provider so I thought we would be good to go. Unfortunately it was not as fast as I thought and the lesson could not be finished. They were very accommodating though and they extended our lessons by one week to replace the lost class. It was simply added back into our que for use to reschedule at a time that was convenient for us.

   The second time we had a problem was from home. My son could hear the teacher but she could not hear him. They had tech support call Alyx and they helped fix the problem so he could continue on with his class.

  The lessons last 50 minutes and run on time so you can be sure to not be kept waiting on your teacher, in fact more often than not the teacher rang Alyx early to make sure he was ready so they could get started on time. This is important to us as a family but especially to my boys, one of their quirks of their Asperger's Syndrome is OCD and this makes it important that when you say something is going to happen at 1:15 it better happen at 1:15. Thankfully this was never an issue with Luisa and HSA.

  You can choose to do your lessons either 1:1 or 2:1 so if you have Siblings at the same level they can take the lesson together at the same time. We could have done this but Taylor had no desire to take Spanish and it would have only proved to make things more difficult, because when he doesn't want to do something he will make everyone miserable if he is forced to. So you have a choice one on one or two to one, there are different prices for each choice as well as a half semester (this is what we were given) of 7 classes or a half semester 2 classes a week for a total of 14 classes. Then there is the option of a full semester taking either one class per week for 15 weeks or 2 classes per week for 15 weeks for a total of 30 classes.  The prices vary per program but for the High School Program which is what Alyx took for a Half Semester which is what we received is $99.99 for a 1:1 ratio, you can get a feel for the alternative pricing fees by checking out the chart below.

     You can see by taking more classes per week for a longer period of time the price per class gets more cost effective. Saving you a substantial amount of money over the long run.
One-On-One Pricing
    You can see by the below chart you would save significantly by having your children who are on the same level take the class together.
Two-On-One Pricing
  Each week your student will be given homework, this can be easily viewed and printed from your HSA dashboard after your have logged in. The first week Alyx received review work, these were basically sheets with common words and their pronunciation on them that he had to look over and review and hopefully memorize. We took the words and made flash cards for each word, with the English word on one side and it's Spanish counter part on the flip side. This was much easier for Alyx to memorize and review. He was overwhelmed by the amount of words on the pages he was given to look over and this made it much more manageable. Each week after that  he had homework that he needed to complete and then turn in by the next class. This is all done easily online.  The work was not too cumbersome and allowed him time each week to study and review and to build upon what he learned in the weeks prior. Alyx is doing amazingly well, and is improving each week by leaps and bounds. I love how at the start of each lesson his teacher jumps right in and greets him in Spanish and allows for little talk in English. I have found that as each week goes on he is becoming more and more confident in returning her questions in Spanish instead of answering them in English like he did the first week. He has a couple more classes left and I cannot wait to see how much more he progresses by the time we are finished. They are getting busy now that the school year is in full swing, if you find when you sign up that it is hard to find a class to meet your family's schedule, sit tight as they are hiring new teachers and getting them trained as quick as possible to help better accommodate everyone'e needs.

   Taking Spanish from Homeschool Spanish Academy for us if far less stressful than having to go to a class somewhere else. Especially during the Winter when the weather is bad. We can stay in our warm, comfy Pajamas and learn Spanish all without leaving the comfort of our home. Don't just take our word for it, please check out all of the Crew's Reviews and see what each family liked or didn't like about Homeschool Spanish Academy, just click on the banner below. Then Head over to Homeschool Spanish Academy and get your kids signed up so you can get started right away.


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