Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Preschoolers and Peace

Preschoolers and Peace Review
Preschoolers and Peace?  Some people think that is an impossible concept.  But Kendra Fletcher has written an ebook titled: Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet just to show homeschooling mamas how this can be achieved.
Preschoolers and Peace Review
Preschoolers and Peace is a 47 page ebook written for homeschooling mamas with littles.  Kendra Fletcher is a mom of 8 children ages 5-20 and has taken many of the tips and tricks she has learned over the years and compiled them into this book.  In Preschoolers and Peace you will find chapters titled:

What a Homeschooling Mom Needs
Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids with Little Ones Underfoot
Planning Around Preschoolers
How Do I Keep Them Busy?
What Does A 2 Year Old's Day Look Like
How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?
How Not to Just Kill Time
Circle Time: Or How We Pull Little Ones In
Preschool Boys
When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers
Preschool Chores
Planning For Preschool
When Mama is Worn Out (or pregnant)
Meal Planning 101

At the end of the book you will also find a resource list showing some of Kendra's favorite products and further reading.

At the time of this posting, you can purchase Preschoolers and Peace for $2.99.

My first year of homeschooling I had an 8 year, a 3 1/2 year old, a 20 month old, and a newborn.  20 months later we had another baby.  22 months later we added another baby to our family and almost exactly 2 years later we had another baby.  I am no stranger to having little ones under foot while homeschooling.  That youngest baby is now 3 1/2 years old, but I still like to gain fresh ideas for our homeschool by reading about what works for other people.  I read through Preschoolers and Peace in one sitting when all of my children were in bed for the night.

Preschoolers and Peace is great for the busy homeschool mom.  The book is short and is split up into short sections making it easy for those who only have a few minutes of time to sit down and read, or are looking for ideas in a particular section.  Not sure what kind of chores your preschooler can do? All you need to do is head to that section and start reading to gain some ideas.  Need ideas for how to start menu planning?  There is a short section to get you started.  Preschoolers and Peace has ideas not just for your homeschool, but other areas of your daily life as well.  It also includes many things to do with your preschoolers and babies to keep them involved in your homeschool rather then pushed aside so you can get your homeschooling done, which I love.  I do not ever want my little ones to feel like they are not part of our homeschool and include them in every part of our day.  The resource list in the back of the book is a great list of ideas.  I found a few things there that I had never thought of before.

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

New From Compass Classroom-Word Up! The Vocab Show

*this post contains affiliate links

Word Up! The Vocab Show from Compass Classroom

We are big fans of Compass Classroom in our homeschool.  We have used a variety of products from them including Dave Raymond's American History, Economics For Everybody, Old Western Culture: The Greeks, Your Story Hour Bible Stories (my review will be posting on that soon), and our all time favorite Visual Latin.  Dwane Thomas, from Visual Latin has made a new video called Word Up! The Vocab Show to teach both Latin and Greek roots as well as hundreds of English words.

This first volume contains 10 video lessons, 20 Latin and Greek roots, 200 + English words, and links to online vocabulary flash cards.  The cost is $9.99 for a download or physical DVD.  You can purchase the downloads now and pre-order the DVDs that will be shipping soon.  You can download two lessons for free.

I cannot wait for the DVDs to ship so I can use this with my boys!  Then I can give you a full review of this brand new product!

* links in this post are my affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Institute For Excellence in Writing (IEW)

Fix It! Grammar Review
Every product we have ever had an opportunity to use from Institute For Excellence in Writing (IEW) has been a huge hit in this house.  I am always excited to see them on our vendor list, and this we had an opportunity to use and review Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book One] (Teacher Manual) along with Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book One] (Student Book.)
Fix It! Grammar Review
Fix It! Grammar is a series of books designed to teach children in grades three and up usage, grammar, and punctuation concepts all in the context of natural writing.  Each book in the series is based on a fairy tale.  Placement is based on ability not age.  It is recommended that all students begin with book one because each book is foundational to the one after it.  But, you can choose to place your child in a later book if you feel they are ready.  You can find a placement test here.  The method is very simple and only takes around 15 minutes per day. At the beginning of each week, there is a "Learn It" section to read and go over with your students teaching the concept that will be covered that week.  You also have the student cut out the grammar cards that are located in the student book. You then model for the student how to apply what they have learned using the Day One passage.  Each day for the next three days the student fixes another sentence.  At the end of the week thy copy the sentences they have fixed.  After all 33 lessons have been completed they have a correct copy of the fairy tale.  

There are 6 books in the Fix It! Grammar Series:

The Nose Tree [Book One]
Robin Hood [Book Two]
Frog Prince or Just Desserts [Book Three]
Little Mermaid [Book Four]
Chanticleer [Book 5]
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight [Book Six]

Each spiral bound Teacher's Manual costs $19 and comes with a downloadable student book.  IEW's copyright policy allows you to make copies within your own family.  There are also spiral bound printed student books available for those who would rather have a printed copy.  You can purchase those for $15 each.
Fix It! Grammar Review
I started out planning on using The Nose Tree with just my 12 year old son.  We have done a whole lot with grammar up until now so we went with IEW's recommendation of starting with Book One.   After we began using The Nose Tree, I decided to go ahead and have my 10 year old work on it with us as well.  The first day of the week, I sit down with the boys and read over the "learn it" section of the book.  Then we go over each of the vocabulary words and fix the first sentence.  The rest of the week they fix the sentences on their own and I check them over.   They also copy over the sentences into a notebook.

Can teaching/learning grammar be this easy?  Honestly, one of the reasons we have not done a whole lot with  "formal grammar" in our homeschool is because I strongly disliked it when I went to school and I have never really found a program that I liked that was effective and didn't take up a huge chunk of time.  I mentioned above how much I LOVE IEW (the boys are using Medieval History-Based Writing Lessons right now) and Fix It! Grammar is another product I will add to my love list. I like the philosophy behind it, teaching grammar so that students will be able to effectively edit their own writing.  There is not a lot of teacher prep involved, but you are given the tools you will need to easily teach the lesson.  It takes only minutes a day.  I have not heard one single complaint from either of my boys.  IEW's copyright policy makes it a cost effective program for our family to use.  I also really like the grammar cards.  They are a great resource that students can refer back to as needed.

If you start off with Book One with an older student, you can complete more than one book in a year if you choose, by doubling up on the lessons.  I am not planning on doing that with my boys because they spend quite a bit of time already on writing and I do not want to overwhelm them.  But I wanted to mention it because if you do have an older child that you want to g through all 6 books with, it definitely is possible to double up.

Teaching/learning grammar can be easy!  It also can be done in minutes a day without your children dying of boredom!

There are teacher and student samples on this page of each book (click on the samples tab.)  There is also a webinar you can watch explaining all about the program.

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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 6

When I started this blog in 2008, I did it for 2 reasons.   I wanted to find a way that I could reach out and encourage other homeschool moms and also have a way to record our homeschool journey (which by the way has come in handy more than once for things like 4 H Record books and high school transcripts.)  I wanted to show the realities (challenges and blessings)  of homeschooling by sharing our life and showing others that really anyone who has a desire to homeschool can. I wanted to show that each family and child is unique and there is no right or wrong way to homeschool. Along the way I was incredibly blessed to be part of an opportunity to use and review homeschool curriculum, books, and other family friendly items and hopefully have been able to bless others through my product reviews.  In the beginning, the only people that read my blog was my husband, my mother, some friends, and a small circle of homeschool moms.  Over the years, The Happy Homeschool Mom has grown a bit but is still relatively small compared to a lot of homeschool blogs.  I was very honored to have been part of a list last week called 18 Homeschool Blogs You Should Be Following and wanted to take this time to welcome those who may be new to my blog and to thank those who take the time to read what I have written, those who comment here and interact with me on Facebook and Twitter.  I so appreciate each and every one of you!

What we have been up to in Week 6:

Bible:  We finished Lesson 4 and started Lesson 5 Where Does Your Time Go? in What on Earth Can We Do?

History:  We completed lessons 7-9 in Mystery of History Vol III.  Lessons 7 and 8 were on Christopher Columbus and Lesson 9 was on Ghana, Mali, and the Empires of West Africa.  I have to say that I learned quite a bit about Christopher Columbus that I have never heard before.  The younger children made a craft with the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.  Christian also decided to make a boat out of craft sticks and was thrilled when it floated (Anthony made a house and Lily and Emmie glued random sticks together.) We also completed the map exercises and added the timeline figures to our timeline board.

Science: We are working on Lesson 4 in Apologia's Exploring Chemistry and Physics.  We finished reading the chapter and did several fun experiments!

 Here we are making homemade bouncy balls.  This was VERY messy and I wished we had done it outside.

We also tried to but a bamboo stick into a balloon without popping it. It didn't work.  We popped it every time.

We also learned why you shouldn't clean metal with vinegar.  We put one penny that was not copper to show the difference.

And did the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment.  We actually did that one twice :)

Math: Math started off a little rough on Monday for Christian when he lost his DVD and did not understand my explanation of the lesson (see my When Mommy Needs a Time Out post.)  We started fresh on Tuesday and by the end of the week he had a good understanding of place value notation and adding double digit numbers.  The rest of the children completed their week's worth of Math U See lessons with no issues.

Spelling: Alex completed Step 16 in Level 4 of AAS.  After the Monday incident, we decided to repeat Step 3 of Level 2 of AAS with Anthony and Christian.

Literature/Writing/Grammar: Christian finished Joseph Had an Overcoat and the corresponding lessons in Lightning Literature.  Anthony finished Sarah Plain and Tall and the corresponding assignments in Lighting Literature Level 3.  Nick and Alex completed Lesson 5 of Fix It! Grammar and Lesson 4 of IEW's Medieval History Themed Lessons.

Language: Alex and I are still working on Lesson One of Chinese.  Nicholas Completed lesson 31 of Visual Latin 2.  He had a bit of trouble remembering his vocabulary from last year as it has been awhile since we have done Latin.  We are going to be working on that a bit :)

My Father's World Creation From A to Z

Lily worked on the Moon unit this week.  One of the things that I love about My Father's World is that everything is related to each other.  While learning about the letter M she is also learning about the moon, and her Bible lesson had to do with us reflecting the light of Jesus (like the moon reflects the sun's light.  So we completed worksheets on the letter M and it's sounds as well as the number 2, continued with our calender and counting to 100 worksheets, read books about the moon, watched the first astronauts land on the moon, and watched a rocket launch.  We also made a moon badge that says "I am the light if the world", a 4th day of creation mobile with the sun, moon, and stars, and made a moon cake.

Other activities this week:

Christian had his first soccer game on Monday.  The older boys played on Monday as well and everyone played again on Thursday.

Lily had gymnastics on Tuesday.

Thursday we had our 4 H meeting.

Saturday we had a great time at the fishing tournament.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

National Hunting and Fishing Day

Today was National Hunting and Fishing Day.  Last year, we went to Grandview and spent the morning doing a variety of fun activities, ate a quick lunch, and then stayed for the fishing derby in the afternoon.  They stock the pond for the derby with catfish and kids 15 and under can fish.  They can keep what they catch and there are prizes for the biggest and smallest catfish and some door prizes as well.  Last year we caught a total of 12 fish in the derby the smallest being 10 in and the biggest being 17 inches.  Luckily I blog about all of this stuff because that is how I remember :)

This year for National Hunting and Fishing Day it was just a 2 hour fishing derby and actually it ended up that we were the ones that helped out by running it as there was a shooting tournament at the exact same time and my friend Aneesah who is the head lady at Grandview has not yet figured out how to clone herself :)  With all of the activities going on around the area (ball tournaments, district fair, opening day of bow season, plus others I am sure I do not even know about) there was pretty low attendance for today's fishing derby, but those who participated had a great time!

Are you ready for this?  In 2 hours my 5 fishing children (Anthony doesn't like to fish and Chelsea is too old) ended up catching 54 catfish in 2 hours!  54!!!  Emelia, my 3 year old ended up catching the largest fish which was 19 inches.  Our smallest was 11 inches.  The winning smallest fish was 10 inches.  Every time the kids threw a line out, they caught a fish within a few minutes.  We filled the cooler that we had taken with us.

I know you want to see some pictures.

Anthony does not like to fish so he was practicing knitting and checking out all of the insects, frogs, and minnows

Even though Chelsea couldn't fish she still came out to help

This fish broke Christian's line and then he caught it again a few minutes later.  The broken line was still in his mouth.

When Emmie got tired of fishing she handed out worms to everyone who needed one

Emmie with her prize

I sure hope the kids don't think they will catch this many fish next time we go fishing!  My wonderful husband and Alex cleaned all the fish when we got home.