Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blue Ribbon Awards 2011-2012

Being a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew this year has been amazing and educational for me as a Mom and teacher and has been a huge blessing to our homeschool.
We have reviewed some amazing products and some not so amazing products this year. 
As a member of the crew we also helped picked the Blue Ribbon Award winners.
I am including links to our reviews for the products that made the list:
Amazing Science
Math Mammoth 
Math Rider
Visual Latin
Artist Pursuit
Before five in a Row
Amazing Animals by Design
Creek Edge Press

Did your favorites win a Blue Ribbon this year?  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Scripture Sunday: May 27th

This week's scripture for the boys I hope gave them something to really think about. 

Proverbs 21:30
There is no wisdom nor understand , not counsel against the Lord.

Nathan noticed the similarities in this Scripture to the Scientific Statement of Being from the Christian Science Textbook  Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I was very proud of the connection he made  this week and of the eagerness to learn more about our connection with the Lord.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Writing with WriteShop


I was crazy excited when we were assigned Book B of the WriteShop Primary series to review.  I have wanted to try WriteShop with the boys for the last 2 years and never took the plunge.

Write Shop Book BI started out by going through the Teacher's Guide and reading all the lessons to fit the boys into the program without too much overlap to what we have already learned. We decided to start with Lesson 2 and work forward from there.  The boys enjoyed a few of the activities but found writing the words 3 times each monotonous and frustrating, so I had them write the word list words twice, a simple difference but the happy medium to stop a battle.

PhotobucketWe found some of the activities engaging but very similar to things they had already done and they had a hard time connecting it to anything we were doing in our other subjects. One thing we did gain which really doesn't have any connection to the writing, Nathan started to color and enjoy coloring. This has been a huge stumbling block for him; he has never been into coloring until now. Something about the activity pages tripped his trigger and opened the door to the wonderful world of coloring. That I am very grateful for.  

I did gain a lot of ideas from the Teacher's Guide for things we can adapt to our lessons and unit studies. I really liked the layout of the lessons in the Teacher's Guide and can modify the lessons to fit into our homeschool easily enough to get a lot of use out of the program overall.

WriteShop's website also has Placement help HERE  and you can view Sample Lessons HERE

The e-books range in price from $4.50 to $39.95 depending on which product or package you purchase.  The set we reviewed sells for $31.45 e-book and $34.90 print combined pricing for the Teacher's Book and the Activity Set.  In my opinion for the price difference I would buy the print version of the Activity Set and probably the Teacher's Guide as well since it isn't that much more for the print version.  Now as far as the value, I'm still not totally sold on the program and believe I really wanted to love it.

Interact with WriteShop on Facebook and Twitter
Check out what the rest of the crew thought HERE

Disclaimer: I received an e-book copy of this product as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for my review of the product, all opinions are that of this writer.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Just the Fax Ma'am a look at CapJaxMathFax

PhotobucketThis is the age of technology and by no means does that leave out our homeschool classroom. The boys aren't huge fans of computer time for the classroom, computer time is a reward system for them, but I did learn that the occasional break from the school table helps them review in a different environment. So, I was intrigued by CapJaxMathFax.

CapJaxMathFax is a computer program incorporating Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication , and Division in a fun environment where the goal is make sure children have basic math skills.  The program can be downloaded or a CD-rom purchased to load on your computer.  We loaded it onto my net-book as well as Daddy's desktop computer to give us flexibility since the program does not requirement an internet connection.
PhotobucketAs the boys work through more and more levels they will earn merit badges and although there aren't any flashy games, they are enjoying the sense of accomplishment from the program.

The program is a good value for $29.95. You can also download a free short term demo version to see what your kids think of the program.  I would put this as a definite possibility on our budget.

Disclaimer: We received a copy of this program as members of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for our opinion and review of the program.
Check out what the rest of the Crew thought of the program HERE

Scripture Sunday May 20

...hope thou in God:  for I shall yet praise him , who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Psalms 42: 11b
This week's verse introduced the boys to new concepts and a few new words,.but they did well.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Go Science: Christian based Science DVDs


With a Science Guy wanna be in the house I am always looking for new videos for him to watch. I was excited to find a series of videos from Library & Educational Services  called Go Science.  Nathan was crazy excited about the DVDs even before they arrived.
 Go Science DVDs
Library & Education Services is an online education products website that has a wide variety of books and media to purchase. You can shop online or request a catalog and sales flyers. I was impressed with their prices and selection. I have already created a huge wish list of things I want to get for our homeschool library

We received Volume 2 Go Science Simple Machines, Sound , and Weather,  a 59 minute creation science focused DVD that teaches things like incline planes and making a cloud.
Nathan enjoyed watching the DVD but didn't feel like he could easily do the activities at home.  He did enjoy the feel of the videos and the kids involved in the DVDs.
We also received Volume 3 GO Science Magnetism, Electricity and Engineering Design where we learned about Static Electricity, Jacobs Ladder, and a Heat Engine. While Nathan watched this one , Mommy learned it is going to be hard to keep up with this kid. He was excited and inspired with each video.
As we were talking about the DVDs getting ready to write this review, Nathan brought up the message I think really hits home for me in our homeschool  ' God is the only creator' and 'Everything we are comes from God'.  Some days my little guy blows my mind with his grasp of God's awesomeness.
I am very grateful to find DVDs that not only inspire the boys' desire to learn more but also support the underlying theme of God in our world. So often the things we watch chip away at that message and theme.
Mr. Roy does an amazing job reminding us at the end of each video lesson
 “Every time we learn something about SCIENCE, we learn something about our CREATOR GOD!”

So , are these DVDs a value?
They are regularly listed for $14.95 each – or $79.95 for the set of 6 and honestly I think they are worth every penny. However, you know I love a deal especially when it is an educational product that the boys like so I am over the top excited that  Library & Educational Services has  the Go Science DVD’s available for just $8.97 each, or $47.95 for the set of 7 DVDs.  I am even considering purchasing the other 5 DVDs for our library to be used over the next year. 

PhotobucketBe sure to check out what the rest of the Crew thought about these DVDs HERE

Disclaimer: We received 2 Go Science DVDs as members of the TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for our honest opinions. All opinions are that of the students and staff and Unionvale Homeschool.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5 days of Lesson Planning…a month long theme


I love planning lessons around a single theme, this was a lot easier during the preschool/kindergarten years, but it is still possible.

With our year sketched out, I can take it to the next level.


Our main theme for June will be Creation Week through the Great Flood. We will be incorporating art projects, scripture, Bible stories, science,  math, and poetry together. I am an eclectic homeschooler so I use a little of everything, but unit studies seem to work and really make lesson planning a lot more interesting.

For unit studies or monthly themes I like to use a curriculum map with the center point being the theme or topic. I can use it for a whole month or a week either way.

Here is the break down:

I start with the theme  CREATION WEEK

then I pull out the concordance and find all the scripture verses,

next I try to find elements of math that can be worked in as story problems or living math.

Living books other than the Bible or stories within the storybooks we have on hand are listed under reading/ literature.

A subject I will admit weakness in is science so I try to find science related activities, thankfully with the Creation Week through Flood there are enough science topics to incorporate.

Geography is usually pretty easy if the theme is location or history based.

Arts and crafts making it fun for the boys so even if it is just a coloring page. I love doing crafts but have found we can overwhelm a unit with too many crafts so I try and limit it to no more than 2 a week‘


Don’t forget to  check out the rest of the crew’s 5 days series, click on the picture above to see them all.

Tomorrow lets look at a weekly lesson plan. See you then.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Principled Approach with Judah Bible Curriculum


I am always interested in learning new styles and approaches to education as I search for that perfect answer to our ever changing homeschool.  I  was excited to learn more about using the Principled Approach by using Judah Bible Curriculum along with others on the TOS Homeschool crew.

Judah Bible is a guide that uses the Bible as the main resource, and I love that about the program.The program is designed to help you  teacher your children how to apply God’s word to everyday life. Through the Judah Bible program parents and students gain a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of God’s word.

I was so taken by the program as I spent more and more time studying it and putting into our lesson plans I decided to apply the program outline to our lesson plans for the coming year. One thing I  found helpful was to treat the notebook as a resource rather than just work. I decided to add some more worksheets and coloring pages to their notebooks to make sure the concepts and ideas really stick with.  Judah Bible Curriculum builds each year on the same concepts but different details, building a strong foundation.

The program also comes with 8 lectures / teacher training seminars. I listened to the lectures and got some basic ideas but found they were hard to follow with  the manual as an e-book. I will however continue to reference them as we continue to implement Judah into our homeschool

Judah Bible Curriculum is available in hardcopy for $69.00 or downloadable for $44.00.

    1) Judah Bible Curriculum K-12 Manual, e-book format to download;

    2) Elementary Notebook Ideas booklet to view online or download;

    3) Eight-lecture Teacher Training Seminar. listen online or download.

Here is that moment, if I hadn’t received this as a review, honestly I’m not sure if I would spend the $44.00  to purchase it. I love the concept of the program and if you are unsure of how to set up your own Bible based lessons this is a great program  to help guide you through that. If you are comfortable setting up a Bible based program then this program may be repetitive for you.


Check out the what the rest of the Crew thought of this program HERE


disclaimer: I received a downloadable edition of this program as a member of the homeschool crew in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 days of Lesson Planning: A Year Ahead

This is the time of year we start planning for next year. For us, we homeschool year round, but I tend to really start planning ahead in early May so I know what to look for at curriculum sales.
Several years ago I saw a you tube video where a homeschooler used a large piece of paper folded just right to plan goals for the year.
I am taking a modified approach to that I would love to share Planning a Year Ahead.

I started with a large sheet of paper (16x24 approximately). I folded it length wise four times and then into thirds to create 12 boxes. I labeled each box with the months of the school year starting with June.


Once all the boxes are labeled I start adding in the plans for each month in pencil.


I list math goals (4 lessons in the month of June), our history/geography theme, and reading plan (summer reading program)


For July I listed the 2 History based units we will focus on along with an idea for a month of Math review and our summer reading program.


For August I have some fun crafts and activities planned so I listed those in their subjects.

I am continuing to fill in the chart for the coming year as we finish up this year and reflect on what has worked and not worked.  I am writing everything in pencil and using  post-it notes for thoughts and curriculum questions I have ahead.

The next step is to break down the units.Watch for tomorrow’s post about lesson planning and unit studies.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Scripture Sunday

This week the boys had a longer text to copy, but it gave them something to think about.
...when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away... For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
1 Corinthians 13: 10, 12