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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Treat Yourself by Jennifer Steinhauer

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  • Remember those snacks that were your favorites when you were a kid?  In the book, Treat Yourself, Jennifer Steinhauer has recreated homemade versions of 70 classic snacks.  Not only can making these treats yourself save you money, they also are a healthier version than what you find on the shelves because they are minus the chemicals and shelf stabilizers that many pre-packaged treats contain (this does not mean these are healthy snacks, just healthier.)  In this book you will find step by step recipes for:

    Classic Cookies-Thin Mints, Gingersnaps, Samoas, Tagalongs, and more

    Sandwich Cookies-Nutter Butters, Oreos, Oatmeal Creme Pies, and more

    Snack Cakes-Twinkies, Star Crunch, Zebra Cakes, and more

    Fruity Treats and Filled Things-Fig Newtons, Lemon Mini Pies, Strawberry Pop Tarts, and more

    Savory Snacks- Soft Pretzels, Pizza Pockets, Cheez-Its, and more

    Candy-Marshmallows, Cracker Jacks, Twix Bars, Candy Dots, and more

    Frozen Treats-Ice Cream Sandwiches, Bomb Pops, Nutty Buddies, and more

    I saw this cookbook, and I just had to get it.  We love to bake and many of these treats were my favorites as a child and I wanted to have an opportunity to recreate those with my children.  The recipes are well written.  Directions are clear and easy to follow.  A photo is included with each recipe.  I liked the introduction to the book as well as the included information about each of the treats.

    My children made quite a list of things they wanted to make and try.  We started out with the Thin Mints.  My 10 year old did most of the recipe himself, except when it came to dipping the cookie into the melted chocolate I helped him a bit.  The Thin Mints were very good.  Not exactly like the girl scout cookie, but very close.  We thought the recipe was a winner.

    Many of the recipes do use a microwave.  We do not have one (shocking I know!) so instead used the top of the stove.  Some of the recipes may be a bit trickier without a microwave though like the moonpies.  But hopefully they will work as well in the oven.

    We look forward to making more yummy snacks with this cookbook!

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Curriculum Choices for the 2014/2015 School Year: 7th Grade

    Soon it will be that time again.  A new start to a new school year.  Although we have done some school during the summer, our regular school year runs from August until May.  I have made some final decisions about what we will be using for our main curriculum choices for the 2014/2015 school year and will be posting each age range over the next week or so.  We will of course also be doing some reviews throughout the year and will make room for some electives as well.

    Our main curriculum choices for 7th Grade Include:

    History: Mystery of History Vol 3 with Home School In the Woods timeline figures

    Literature: Instead of a formal literature program I have chosen selections off of the Sonlight 7th grade reading list.  He will complete one selection per month.

    Plus whatever review products come our way.

    I am excited about the upcoming school year and all of the great things we will learn!

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Schoolhouse Crew Review: Hewitt Homeschooling

    Back in 2012, we had an opportunity to review Lightning Literature British Literature Mid-Late 19th Century from Hewitt Homeschooling.  We really, really liked Lightning Literature and continued to use it.  As this school year was drawing to a close, I was trying to find a literature program that I could use that would work for my younger children.  I cannot tell you how excited I was when I found out we had an opportunity to review the new Lightning Literature and Composition 1st Grade program.  We received: Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 Student Workbook and Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 Teacher's Guide.

    Lightning Literature's new elementary series uses award winning picture books to instill a love of great literature in your children, and teach them the basics of composition, grammar and mechanics. They began with the 1st Grade program with plans to add one grade per year until they reach grade 6.  2nd grade will be available this year and 3rd grade will be field testing this fall.

    The 1st grade level of Lightning Literature and Composition can be used with children in the 1st or 2nd grades.  There are two components that need to be purchased.

    The Teacher's Guide ($29.95) is a paperback 318 page book that contains lesson plans, suggested schedule, comprehension questions, answers to the student workbook exercises, teaching tips, an Aesop's Fable for each lesson and ideas for extending the lessons.

    Sample chapter

    The Student Workbook ($49.95) is a paperback, 348 page book that contains the student's grammar and mechanic pages, reading journal pages, dictionary pages, and alphabet and sentence pages.  This book is consumable and you will need one for each child who is using it.

    Sample Chapter

    Lightning Literature and Composition uses a different picture book each week for 36 weeks.  You do not need to buy the books, many will be available at your local library and some you may already own.  Titles include (in the order they are used):

  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller
  • Umbrella by Taro Yashima
  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  • The Napping House by Audrey & Don Wood
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
  • Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
  • Doctor De Soto by William Steig
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Mother Goose Rhymes by Mother Goose
  • Mabela the Clever by Margaret Read MacDonald
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
  • The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  • Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel
  • Bill and Pete to the Rescue by Tomie dePaola
  • Best Friends for Frances by Russell Hoban
  • Always Room for One More by Sorche Nic Leodhas
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
  • Curious George Flies a Kite by Margret Reyv
  • Babar the King by Jean de Brunhoff
  • This Is London by M. Sasek
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  • How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
  • The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
  • Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein

  • An Aesop's Fable is also used in each lesson. Lightning Lit recommends a Dover Edition, but there are many other editions available you can use or even find them free online.  The fable is not related to the story that week so you can even use an alternate fable if you choose.

    Let's take a look at what a typical week looks like.

    Monday-Read the book and ask your child both literal and inferential comprehension questions. Students complete a grammar/mechanic worksheet and brainstorm for their composition.

    Tuesday- Have the child narrate back to you as much of the story as they can.  Read the book again if you choose.  Students complete the grammar/mechanics assignment, do further brainstorming or ordering of ideas for their composition, and complete the reading journal page.

    Wednesday-Read the book again.  Answer comprehension questions aloud.  Today students complete either an alphabet or sentence worksheet and can enter words in their dictionary pages. The rough draft of the composition is written today.

    Thursday-On Thursday you will read an Aesop's Fable with your child.  Students also complete a grammar/mechanics page and write the final draft of their composition.

    Friday-Fridays are free days. You can complete assignments you didn't get to during the week, take the day off, or do some of the extending the lesson activities if you choose.

    I used Lightning Lit and Comp Grade 1 mostly with my 7 year old.  But, as you can see from the above picture my 3,5,and 9 year olds also listened in to the stories every day, answered some of the comprehension questions, and even worked on and illustrated some compositions.  I read the story aloud every day, sometimes several times.  Christian (7) did the grammar/mechanics exercises in the workbook.  Anything that involves a lot of writing like the Alphabet worksheets, reading journal pages, and the compositions, he dictated to me and I wrote them out for him.  I had several of the books on my shelf already, bought a few more, and borrowed some from the library.  The Aesop's Fables I have been reading from a free online source.
    Christian brainstorming for his instructional paper

    We have really, really enjoyed using Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1!!! We love the stories.  As I mentioned above I read them at least every day, sometimes more than once because my little girls begged, "Please one more time!"  Reading is very important to us in our homeschool.  I am always looking for great books to read and I just love that Hewitt Homeschooling is designing these programs for the younger grades too!  I like the corresponding grammar/mechanics exercises. They are a gentle and age appropriate way to teach the concepts and are visually appealing.  I love the comprehension questions and the narration exercises.  I love the compositions.  It is a great way to get the younger children writing in a way that is fun!  Even if your children are not able to write very much on their own, you can easily allow them to dictate the story to you so they can communicate what they want to say without becoming frustrated. Christian loves to dictate and illustrate his compositions.  When we did Harold and the Purple Crayon, he dictated and illustrated a whole book and even added a second one to his series a week later!
    Anthony's paper and illustration of a time he was sick

    From a teaching standpoint, the program is very easy to use.  I read through the first few pages of the Teacher's Guide when I got the book so I had an idea of how the scheduling worked and what would be done each day.  Besides making sure I have the necessary book, I quickly glanced through the lesson's week at a glance page the Friday before to see if I want to pick up any of the optional reading material from the library.  There isn't any other advanced preparation needed.  I love the flexibility of the program.  If for instance you think the dictionary pages and alphabet pages are too much, you do not have to do those.  If your child is able to do all the writing on their own, great! If not, that's great too!  How much time spent per day is hard to estimate because as I mentioned I read the book every day sometimes more than once, and also if a child is doing the writing on their own it will take longer than if you are writing it for them.  But we have spent less than 30 minutes on it every day.  I love that it runs on a 4 day per week schedule!  We take Fridays off for errands and activities so that was just perfect for us.  Even if you usually work 5 days a week but it gives you a flex day if you run behind during the week and miss a day and need to catch up without trying to cram two days in one, or gives you an opportunity to do some of the extending the lesson activities if you choose.

    If there was one thing that I wish was different it would be that I would love the books to be spiral bound so they can lay flat and leave my hands free and make it easier to write in.

    We are planning on continuing with Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 this year and I am looking forward to using more of their elementary series in the future!

    Members of The Crew reviewed a wide variety of products from Hewitt Homeschooling.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.

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    Monday, July 28, 2014

    Schoolhouse Crew Review: Analytical Grammar

    Analytical Grammar Review
    Do your children get excited about learning grammar?  Mine don't either.  But, having knowledge of the parts of speech and how they are supposed to work in a sentence will lead to better writing. Analytical Grammar uses a systematic approach to language mastery that will help learning grammar be less painful for the student and the teacher.  Over the last several weeks I have had an opportunity to use and review Junior Analytical Grammar.

    Junior Analytical Grammar was written for students in 4th or 5th grades.  The program contains 11 units with each unit taking one week to complete.  Each unit builds on the one before it. If you are familiar with Analytical Grammar, Junior Analytical Grammar contains the same material as taught in the first 10 units of Analytical Grammar, but the reading level is lower and the exercises are shorter. The units are: Nouns, Articles and Adjectives, Pronouns, Prepositions, Subject and Verb, Adverbs, Patterns 1 and 2, Pattern 3, Linking Verbs and Patterns 4 and 5 Helping Verbs and Conjunctions and Compound Situations.  There are notes written to the student at the beginning of each unit explaining the concept that they will be learning during that unit.  Then there are 3 days worth of exercises, a playing with words assignment, and a test for each unit.  

    There are two books you need to purchase to use Junior Analytical Grammar.  The Teacher Book is a paperback spiral bound book that contains all of the notes and exercises that are in the student book and of course the answers.  It also contains some information on the education philosophy of Analytical Grammar, notes for home teachers, description of what will be taught in each unit, and notes on correcting tests.  The Student Book is also paperback and spiral bound and contains all of the notes and student exercises.  The Student Book is consumable so you will need one for each student who is using Junior Analytical Grammar.  The Teacher/Student book set is $39.95 and you can purchase additional student books for $19.95.

    View a sample of Junior Analytical Grammar.

    I have been using Junior Analytical Grammar with my 10 year old son who just finished 4th grade. We use it four days per week completing one exercise per day except since we take Fridays off we complete the playing with words and the unit test on Thursday.  We usually spend 10-15 minutes per day on Junior Analytical Grammar except on Thursdays which take a bit longer because we are doubling up.  I sit down with Alex on Monday and read all of the notes on the lesson to him.  Then I go through the first few sentences with him and allow him to work through the others and then we go over the ones he completed on his own.

    I don't think there is really any grammar program out there that is going to make my children stand up and cheer.  But, I really like Junior Analytical Grammar and honestly he has not complained even once when it was time to do his work. I like their educational philosophy of "scaffolding", making sure all of the layers are well built and weaving in the concepts with the prior concepts. The workbooks are simple and not distracting at all.  I love spiral bound books, they allow you to easily keep your place in both books without having to keep them propped open, and they lie flat on the table. The lessons are simple and to the point and can be taught in only minutes a day. I like the constant review and the adding new topics in with the old. There is not much teacher prep at all.  All you need to do is read over the lesson before presenting it to your student.  Even in the few weeks that we have used the product, my son has shown a much greater understanding of the parts of speech then he ever has before.

    Members of The Crew reviewed a variety of products from Analytical Grammar.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
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    Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Arkansas Homeschoolers Reminder to Register

    If you plan on homeschooling for the 2014/2015 school year, you must file your paperwork by August 15th.  There are two forms that need to be filled out, The Notice of Intent and the Homeschool Waiver.  The Notice of Intent is a form informing the superintendent of your district that you will be homeschooling.  It asks your name and address on page one, plus the names of the children you are planning on homeschooling, their date of birth, whether they are male or female, last grade completed, grade they are entering, and what type of school they attended last year.  The second page asks your subjects being studied, and your planned school schedule. It also asks the educational qualifications of parents (what grade you completed in high school/college) and there is a spot at the bottom that has to be notarized if your child is planning on getting a driver's permit that year.  On the spaces that ask your curriculum and schedule, you do not have to be incredibly specific and it is ok if your plans change during the year.  My schedule says: 4 hours per day, 4 days per week, 36 week school year.  My subjects and curriculum lists the basic subjects and curriculum companies such as : Math-Math U See, History: Mystery Of History, Science: Apologia etc...The second form is a waiver basically stating that the state of Arkansas is not responsible for the education of your children and you just need to list the children's names and birth dates, your address and phone number, and sign the form.

    You can either register by paper form or online.  Next year they will only be allowing the online option option.  If you are a first time homeschooler, you must submit your paperwork in person according to Arkansas Homeschool Law.  Anyone else who chooses the paper option can mail in your form.  If you are using the paper option, I recommend you keep a copy of your paperwork for your records and they have to be received not postmarked by the 15th.

    You can find the forms here.  The site does seem to have trouble at times so if you cannot get it to load, try again later on.  Last year those that chose to file online did not get their responses for several months saying they were now legal to homeschool but I have heard that this year they are getting them much faster.  There are a few issues with the wording on the electronic forms(telling you are not legal until your form is approved), but hopefully those will be ironed out before it becomes mandatory to file online.

    However you decide to file, make sure you get it in before August 15th!

    If you have any questions about filling out the forms, please let me know and I will help in any way I can.

    Happy Homeschooling!

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    Schoolhouse Crew Review: Apologia Educational Ministries, Flourish

    Flourish Book Revie
    Many people know of Apologia Educational Ministries because of their award winning science and worldview curriculum.  But, they also have a wealth of materials to support and encourage homeschooling parents.   I recently had an opportunity to read and review Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms  by Mary Jo Tate.
    Flourish Book Review
    Flourish is a 288 page paperback book written for homeschooling mamas.  It was not written just for stay at home homeschoolmoms, but also working homeschool moms, work at home homeschool moms, and single homeschool moms as well.  In it you will find practical principles to make your home life more successful and balanced and help you find ways to make the most of your time and enjoy your homeschooling journey.  Flourish contains 16 chapters:

    An Invitation to Flourish
    Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
    The FREEDOM Toolbox
    Where Did My Time Go?
    Aim High: Setting Goals
    What Do I Do Next?: Seven Essential Planning Tools
    We Interrupt This Program
    It's Time For An Attitude Adjustment
    Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
    Training Your Children
    Making Memories
    Managing Your Home
    All of Life Learning
    Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
    Home Business
    Moving Ahead

    Each chapter is full of personal stories, quotes, and real life examples related to the topic being discussed.  At the end of each chapter you will find several activities to help you take action and apply what you have learned in that chapter to your life.  At the end of the book there is a list of Recommended Resources and a set of planning forms.  After purchasing Flourish, you will have access to customizable versions of the forms that you can download to your computer and print out.

    You can purchase Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms for $15.

    Flourish Sample

    One of the first things that I wondered when I found out we would have an opportunity to review this book was, " Will it teach me anything new?" You see, as a mom that has been homeschooling for 10 years, I find that many homeschool encouragement books are written towards the brand new homeschool mom and do not have anything in them that I have not read many times before. Flourish arrived and I dived right in completing one chapter per day.  As soon as I started reading, I discovered that Flourish has something in it for everyone.  Whether you are a brand new homeschool mom, a veteran homeschool mom, a homeschool work at home mom, or a single homeschool mom there is something in this book for you.  Every one of us can use advice about how to make our lives more balanced and who does not want their lives and homeschool to Flourish?  Mary Jo gives a lot of great advice and practical examples on how to make that happen. Some of them you may know or do already, but some you may not. You may want to read with your highlighter or something to underline in hand, because I wish'd I would have.  I may have to go back and read it again!

    A couple of things that really stood out to this homeschool mom was when Mary Jo was talking about time and time management.  We only have so many hours in the day, and by saying yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else and we need to make sure that are yes to one thing isn't making us say no to something that may be more important.  I really like her "Freedom Toolbox" with Freedom being an acronym for: Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Discipline, Organize, and Multitask.  I used to think I had a great memory (and maybe a few children ago I did!) and never felt the need to write anything down.  I am still not great at making lists but I am working on it.  By writing things down it is one less thing I have to worry about spinning my brain into overload!  Another thing that especially stood out to me was the idea of managing your home along with the eliminate part of the Freedom Toolbox.  Too much clutter makes me overwhelmed especially when it seems like we do not have a place for everything.  I have started removing some of the clutter systematically so it is one less thing I have to manage.  I started with the boys closet.  We had way too many clothes up there, and it was wonderfully freeing to see them all go out the door!

    There may be some sections of Flourish that you do not think will apply to you such as the section on single moms or home business, but they are worth reading through anyway.  You may know single homeschooling moms or find something in the home business section that you can apply to your life or you may start a business someday.  Flourish is a book that you can take what you need out of it and perhaps down the road you may read it again and be ready to add in more of a certain area.  You can tweak the planning goals to fit whatever your situation may be at that time as like everything else about homeschooling we are all unique and each person's Life In Balance will look a little different.

    To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below!
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    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    And The Spelling You See Giveaway Winner Is........

    Michael Taylor!!!!


    Please respond to my email within 48 hours.

    Thank you so much to all who entered!

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    Schoolhouse Crew Review: HomeSchoolPiano

    Homeschool Piano Review
    Have you ever wanted your children to learn to play the piano but do not think you can afford private lessons?  Or maybe it just isn't feasible for you to travel back and forth to weekly lessons with a private instructor.  Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to do piano lessons right from the comfort of our own home using HomeSchoolPiano.  For our review, we received HomeSchoolPiano-Complete Set of Books.
    Homeschool Piano Review
    HomeSchoolPiano is online piano instruction for all ages and abilities.  Lessons are taught using videos and downloadable lesson books. Videos can be viewed on your computer or tablet. Students can work at their own pace and even watch the videos multiple times as needed.  You do not need any special equipment to use HomeSchoolPiano.  Any computer or tablet that can access the internet will work.  HomeSchoolPiano recommends using a piano or keyboard that has full size keys, has a stand and a bench to make playing comfortable, and has at least 49 keys.
    Homeschool Piano Review
    To help students master piano and obtain success faster, HomeSchoolPiano uses a 6 step cycle within each unit:
    1. Technique
    3.Ear Training
    4.Reading Music

    There are 4 levels that you will have access to:

    Core Piano-Core piano is for the absolute beginner.  There are 33 videos in this section starting with an intro and notes of the piano and working your way up to key signatures and basic rhythm.  Along the way you will learn many different things about technique, chords, scales, reading music, playing hands together, and much more.  There is also a PDF book to download and print out.
    Book One- Book one is for the beginner or those who haven't played for awhile. There are 6 units in this book with 7 lessons in each unit (one of each of the 6 step cycle and one bonus lesson.) There are lesson quizzes to take after the lessons and a new song is learned in each unit.  There is also a PDF book to download and print out.
    Book Two- This is for beginner to intermediate students or those who have finished book one.  In this book the songs, concepts, and improvisation techniques start to become more complex.  Like book one there are 6 units with 7 lessons and lesson quizzes to take.  There is also a PDF book to download and print out.
    Book Three-This book is for intermediate or those you have finished book two.  By the end of this level students will be getting into more advanced concepts like syncopation, voice leading, and more advanced scales for improvisation.  This level also has 6 units with 7 videos in each lesson, lesson quizzes, and a PDF download lesson book to print out.

    Video lesson length varies and then students need time to practice what they have learned.  It is recommended that students spend at least 30 minutes a day 5 times a week practicing what they have learned.  How many lessons they complete and how quickly they complete them will depend on the student.

    You can sign up for a free lesson to get a feel for the program and how it works.

    HomeSchoolPiano offers two different payment packages:
    1. Success Package-$299 UNLIMITED LIFETIME ACCESS to HomeSchoolPiano including all of the bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.
    2. Payment Plan -$99.97 a month for 3 months UNLIMITED LIFETIME ACCESS to HomeSchoolPiano including all of the bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

    I have been using the Core Piano level with my 5 year old daughter and we have also completed a few lessons in Book One. We have used both the iPad and a laptop to view the videos.  We do not have a piano or a regular keyboard, we have a Midi Keyboard that has to be connected to a computer in order to be used.  You do NOT need to have this type of keyboard to use HomeSchoolPiano, but this is what we already had at home.  We have a slow internet connection so I let the videos load all the way and then played them so we would not have to keep stopping and starting.  We watched several videos each week and practiced the concepts after viewing the videos.

    One of the first things that I really liked about HomeSchoolPiano was that the subscription is a lifetime subscription AND you do not have to chose one level, you get access to all of the levels. This is especially wonderful for those who have multiple children using the subscription.   Also, being able to view the lessons on a mobile device such as  tablet is a great feature.  The lessons are short and to the point.  You can see everything the instructor is doing on the screen including every note played and labeled. When you start at the core piano level, you are really taught everything right from the beginning, no prior knowledge is needed.  It is just as if you are bringing an instructor right into your home.  So even  if you are a parent who has no musical knowledge at all, your child can learn piano, and if you watch them with your child, you will too.  The teaching methods make sense.  For instance, instead of having the children memorize names or phrases to remember the lines and spaces, Willie teaches them to go in alphabetical order to remember which was which. This made so much more sense to me!  Also, the techniques are different (and a lot more fun) than any piano lessons I have seen before.  Even teaching the different note and rest lengths by vocalizing them is a concept that I had never been taught before but I think is a great way to teach children.  Doing scales and learning notes does not have to be boring!  Children are encouraged right from the beginning to put their own heart and soul in the music and do a lot of improvisation which I think is fantastic!

    I love the quizzes that go along with some of the lessons.  I also like the records that you can view for each child.  I sat with Lily and watched the videos with her, but if you have a child that is working independently, you can see at a glance what they have completed.  Also, you have the ability to download the lessons starting in Book One in both video and mP3 format, except for the Ear Training lessons which do not have a download option. So you can watch the videos without an internet connection and also just listen to them if you wish.  You do not necessarily have to have your computer in the same room as your piano to use HomeSchoolPiano, but if there is a way for you to view the lessons while at the piano/keyboard it would be very helpful.

    Lily did have a bit of a hard time using  HomeSchoolPiano.  She is only 5 and used to using a piano lesson that has a lot of games and interactive features so the videos, especially the first few in Core Piano, had a hard time holding her attention.  As she was able to try a bit more she did get a little more interested. I am so thankful that we have a lifetime subscription because I know as she gets a little older she will be able to come back to these and learn some new skills.  I also hope to get my boys playing, and even brush up on some skills myself!

    To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
    Click to read Crew Reviews


    Sunday, July 20, 2014

    A Day at the Lake

    We have not been able to take a camping trip at all yet this year.  But, we thought it would be fun to take the children for the day to go out to the lake.  It has been much cooler in Arkansas than it normally would be for July, but that can make it much better for spending the day outdoors!

    We decided to go out to one of our favorite camping spots, Jefferson Ridge.  You can fish right off the bank, there is a great little swimming area, and a playground.  The only negative is that the bathroom is quite a distance from the swimming/playground area (a woman certainly did not plan that!) and when you have little ones they can't always make the hike up the hill (and it is a hike!) so we drive back and forth to the bathroom quite a bit when we are there and today was no exception to that.  The children had a great time though!

    We played on the playground for a while.

    Nick and Alex were not at all interested in the playground, they just wanted to do some fishing.

    It wasn't long before the others joined them.  Emelia had wanted to catch a purple catfish.  We did not catch any of those, but they did catch some small sunfish.  We lost half a fishing rod (still not exactly sure how that happened, but Alex was pretty upset) and we did not recover it.

    Then we had a picnic lunch and got ready to do some swimming.  They spent hours swimming. The water was not very warm, but the children did not mind at all.  Lily was even brave enough this year to go down the water slide!

    This crazy dog who does not like to go out in the rain and get her paws wet decided she was going to go into the lake after the children.

    Chelsea even had a chance to come out there with us for a little while before she had to go to work.

    We had a great time and I think the all will be sleeping well tonight!