Our 2012/2013 Curricula

Curricula1

I am so excited to start this school year!  We start tomorrow, as a matter of fact.

This will be our fourth year homeschooling, as as each year passes, I’ve felt more and more comfortable with a more eclectic approach to curricula.

Some of what we’re using I was fortunate enough to receive as a review product last year.

I know what you came here for, so I’m going to stop talking and give it to you:

Math

Life of Fred {I’m taking a leap of faith and trusting in the author.  We’ll see if you really can just use this for math.}

History

myWorld Social Studies Grade 5

Grammar

Growing with Grammar Level 5

Art

Artistic Pursuits Book 3

Writing

WriteShop Junior Book D

Letters to family members

Science

Hands-On Archaeology:  Real-Life Activities for Kids {So excited about this one!  I’m pretty much using this as a guide and developing an archaeological dig for us this year.  More info to come!}

Typing

TuxTyping

Geography

Top Secret Adventures

Which Way USA?

Creek Edge Press Geography and Culture Task Cards

Letterboxing

Letterboxing North America

Cooking

Our Best Bites

And to organize it all, the My Well Planned Day software.  Loving. It.

What will you be using next year? I wanna see!

Be sure to check out what others are using at the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop this week!

TOS Sweet Critique: Zane Education

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WHAT:  Zane Education

COST:  Free {for demo versions of the videos}, $8.99/month {all videos in one subject}, $12.99/month {all videos in a grade}, $17.99/month {all videos}; yearly pricing available as well

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Kindergarten to adult

CONTACT

WHAT IS ZANE EDUCATION?

Zane Education is a site dedicated to providing subtitled videos on a variety of subjects.

The site has thousands of videos for hundreds of subjects such as music, art, history, and science.

Zane uses what they call The Missing Piece ©, which is the use of subtitles in the videos to enhance understand and learning.

In addition to the subtitled videos, Zane provides quizzes, encyclopedias, dictionaries, lesson plans, and more to enhance the material.

OUR THOUGHTS

We’re a big fan of educational videos in our house.  Babydoll enjoys watching them, and I love knowing that she’s learning at the same time.

I also think they do a great job of driving home a concept or new material.

Zane has taken this concept a step further with their subtitles, and there’s one key aspect of this I love:  the direction on how to use them.

The idea of having your child watch and listen, then just watch {and read the subtitles, without sound}, and then teach it back to you is genius!

I would think this could be a great thing for a reluctant learner, as it would be more fun than a traditional report.

Also, it gives children practice with public speaking, presentations, and more.  Good stuff!

I appreciate the lesson plans and quizzes, although we really wouldn’t make much use of those.  Videos are more for learning enhancement in our house, as opposed to the actual lesson.

For many homeschoolers, though, this complete solution would be great; you have everything you need to cover an entire subject there in Zane.

I’d like to point out one thing: I probably wouldn’t let my child have at these videos without supervision.  For instance, there is a “Health and Sex Education” section that I wouldn’t want my nine year old to stumble upon.

I understand the reasoning behind having it there, but that’s something I wouldn’t want anyone else covering with my child.  If you control the videos watched, it won’t be a problem.

WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT

Find out what other members of the Crew thought about Zane Education by clicking the banner below!

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True Confessions:  I was provided with a Gold membership to Zane Education to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

This is my last TOS Crew review.  While I have enjoyed my time on the Crew, it is time for me to step down and focus on other things in my life that need attention right now.  I am grateful for all the wonderful opportunities the Crew has provided me with, and perhaps some day, if they’ll have me, I can return.

 

Homeschool Pinterest Finds

Pinterest.  ‘Nough said.

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I haven’t been a great pin-er, but I spent some time on Pinterest tonight and remembered why I try to stay away:  it’s like heroine.  Man, that thing can suck you in and never let you go…  Oh, but I love it.  It’s so full of win.

And while product reviews and giving away awesome stuff to you guys is superb and all, I was missing my personal time with ya so I found a few pins that I wanted to share.  From me to you, no giveaways, no review stuff, just awesome homeschool stuff:

  • My Plant Observation Book – We’ve been learning plant parts and just planted a bean seed, so this will come in very handy!
  • Journal Pages – This is seriously one of the best things ever.  Really man.  Awesome.  At first I thought it would be awesome to do one of these everyday with Babydoll.  Then I realized what a tremendously bad idea that was and decided on once a week.
  • Contraction Cupcakes – Have to find some appropriate cupcake clip art and then I’m going to town making these!

Homeschool Encouragement

Getting deep and emotional!

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If Homeschool Walls Could TalkWe are entering our third year of homeschooling.  Since I never thought I’d be doing this, I’m pretty amazed that we’re still trucking along.

Amazed, and yet, I feel like I totally suck at it.

I know homeschoolers go through phases where they worry they’re not doing enough for their children and similar feelings, so I know I’m not alone.

But, this is called If Homeschool Walls Could Talk, which implies some sort of secret, at least in my mind.  So, I’m going to just lay it all out there for you guys to see…

Our first year of homeschooling ended with us barely finishing half of the year’s work.  Yep, there, I said it.

That’s right.  We had all of our nifty stuff from our boxed curriculum company {that I loved by the way}, and I only managed to teach a tiny smidgen of what was there.

And no, it wasn’t because we were using other stuff.  We simply didn’t do school.  Here I was, the homeschooling mom of a second grader, and I wasn’t teaching her…

To this day I feel like a complete noob about that.  But I at least had some fairly unusual circumstances to attribute my noobdom to.

We had moved out of our house in WA, were living with Grandma in OR for three months while Vince exited the Navy and found a job, to then move from OR to AL at the end of October.  From November {when we arrived in AL, no place to live, no friends or family} through January we lived in a hotel one hour from Vince’s work and almost two hours from the area we’d eventually be moving to.

We spent those three months looking at houses {yes, that meant driving those couple of hours one way to look at houses, many, many, many days…}, finding our way around, learning and complying with the new state’s homeschool laws, trying to make ends meet while we waited for the new paycheck to come in {and while unemployment was no longer coming in}, and dealing with all sorts of other little things that occur when you’re living with a small portion of your things {while everything else is in storage} in a hotel room and trying to generate a new normal.

I’m not gonna lie, I hated living in that hotel.  Looking back, I was probably being an ungrateful whiny thing, but I still hated it nonetheless.  And it was expensive.  Like $1,400 a month expensive…

The hotel wasn’t a bad place; an extended stay type of thing with a little kitchenette, new and fairly clean.  My husband was fortunate enough to find a good job at a time when most people couldn’t get hired.  We had finally been preapproved for a loan and ended up finding a great house.  I was healthy, my family was healthy, I really should have been grateful.

Hotel roomBut, I hated living in that hotel.  As it dragged on through November, and then December, and into January, it’s all I could do to sit there in what was fast becoming a cramped hotel room and homeschool Babydoll.

I didn’t want to.  Or, the day would be spent running errands or doing something out of town and then when we got back I didn’t want to.

Looking back, I’m honestly not sure we got much of anything done.  We started strong at the beginning of the year while at Grandma’s house, but we quickly trickled once we were in AL.

HouseThen it was finally time to move into our new house!  We were excited!  I was ecstatic!  I thought, “Now I can finally settle into a routine!!!”

Well, then we had to wait four weeks for our things to come out of storage and make it to us.  And then there was a problem with the fridge delivery.

Want to know what’s almost harder than living in an extended stay?  Living in a house without a fridge, pots or pans, utensils, plates, cups, chairs, tables, beds, pillows, linens…  You get the picture.

So, to get us through that month we had to go and buy stuff, even though I knew I had stuff coming.  It was winter and it was cold {snow in AL that winter, crazy!} and there were no blinds or curtains on my many windows to keep the cold out and the heat in.

I should note, however, that despite all this, I was still infinitely more happy in my house.  It felt like things were finally moving forward.

Great, we can finally “do school.”

Nope.  Now comes time to talk on the phone for endless hours with delivery folks and military movers and the blinds lady and the fridge people and the utility companies and this person and that person.

HouseAnd then our stuff came!!!  Which meant things had to be unpacked and put away.

It was Spring before we really started doing any semblance of school again.  I felt so bad.  So, so, so bad, like I was letting Babydoll down.

She was fine, for the record.  She enjoyed driving across the country and seeing the Grand Canyon and Arizona and all sorts of other awesome stuff.  She enjoyed the new “castle park” we had found near the hotel.  She enjoyed living close enough to family to drive eight hours and surprise them all in December.  She enjoyed seeing all sorts of new things and hearing all sorts of new things and experiencing all sorts of new things.  She enjoyed being my helper.  She enjoyed our new house and the pond out back and fishing in it.

We ended the school year in June, because despite the fact that I had a ton of “not school” time, I felt like I needed a break.  I felt like I just needed to start new next year.

I cried.  I’m crying right now writing this.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to let go of the feelings of failure and of letting Babydoll down.  I felt like I let the homeschooling community as a whole down by not “doing school” properly.  I felt like the ultimate billboard for reasons not to homeschool your child.

Yet, we kept at it for a second year.  It was much better.  We were much more settled and got much more done.  Yet we still didn’t “finish” everything.

And then I realized, you never finish.  You’re always going, always learning.  It doesn’t stop.  Just because an entire book hasn’t been completed doesn’t mean we aren’t doing things right.

Just because she didn’t learn every last multiplication fact in third grade doesn’t mean that in the end she will have still learned all the math she needs to know.

It’ll all be alright.  She’s progressing and flourishing and enjoying what I hope to be a fulfilling and exciting life.  As our one and only child {by choice}, I constantly worry that I’m not giving her everything she needs.  I’m hoping she’ll grow up thinking that she had awesome parents and an awesome life.

So, if my homeschool walls could talk, they’d tell you of the struggle we’ve had adapting my preconceived notions of what it means to learn and school to what homeschooling is really about:  living a life of learning and loving it.

If my homeschool walls could talk, they’d tell you that I still worry about what I’m doing daily, hourly sometimes.  They’d tell you that I cry sometimes thinking I’m not doing enough for Babydoll.  They’d tell you that I want more than anything for her to grow up and think she lucked out on the home front.

They’d tell you that we’re plugging away, for a third year, learning from our mistakes and what didn’t work and figuring out what works for us.

They’d tell you that I love my daughter more than just about anything and want her to grow up thinking that homeschooling was the most wicked awesome thing we could have done.

This post was written as part of a link up with some other fabulous homeschool moms.  We’re all really laying it out there for the world to see, so be sure to stop by each one and give them some encouragement and love.

Lisa at The Army Chap’s Wife

Megan at Half-Pint House

Maureen at Spell Outloud

Reesa at Suburban Tree Hugger

Laura at Day by Day in Our World

Jasmine at Ponder the Path

Lee at Homeschool Canada

Jimmie at Jimmie’s Collage

Honey at Sunflower Schoolhouse

Tiffany at Sweet Phenomena

Want to share what your homeschool walls would say?  Link up here!

TOS Sweet Critique: Super Duper Publications – HearBuilder Following Directions

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WHAT:  HearBuilder Auditory Memory Software Program

COST:  $69.95

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Ages 4 – 9

CONTACT

WHAT IS HEARBUILDER?

HearBuilder is a CD-ROM software program designed to help children become better at memory and comprehension, thereby becoming better at following directions.

From their site:

HearBuilder Auditory Memory teaches key strategies for remembering numbers, words, sentences, and stories.  This research-based software includes five essential listening activities:

  • Memory for numbers {3 – 7 digits}
  • Memory for words {3 – 5 words organized by syllable}
  • Memory for details {1 – 4 details}
  • Auditory closure {sentence completion}
  • Memory for WH information {2 – 3 sentences/2 – 4 questions}

Each child is on a mission to become a successful toy maker and build a great toy factory.

Their missions take them through a variety of situations where they must stop the crazy plans of Dr. Forgetsit.

The Home Edition CD can be used with 1 – 4 children, allows you to monitor your child’s progress, print progress reports, and assign levels of play and background noise for distraction.

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OUR THOUGHTS

Babydoll is always down for playing video games.  I needed her to pick up some memory and comprehension skills to help her follow directions better.

Seemed like a win-win.

I was right.

While I mistakenly started her at a level too low for her, she enjoyed the toy factory and missions aspect of the game.

Speaking of levels, I love how you as the parent can set the level based on the child, so they don’t have to sit something agonizingly boring to them.

How do you know which level to set the game to?

The folks at Super Duper Publications have provided a handy chart in the booklet that comes with the CD.  It gives you examples of what a direction might be at each level so you can determine where your child best fits.

For a child {such as mine} who needs to see their progress, this game is great.  Your child has a “lobby” with doors to each part of the factory.

Above each door is a meter that monitors where they are in their progress to building their toy factory.

A certificate of completion hangs above the door if they’ve finished that part.

The progress reports let you see which levels your child has completed and how they did on each one.

I would definitely recommend this to any parent really.  I’ve never met one who told me that their child had great comprehension and memory techniques that helped them always follow directions.

And at least during one phase of their little lives they go through that “What? Squirrel!” phase…

Know what’s even better?  Super Duper Publications has given us a coupon code good for 30% off so you can snatch this thing up {use without the exclamation point}:  BLGAM30!

WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT

To find out what other members of the crew thought, just click the banner below!

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