Our Family

Our Family

Friday, March 29, 2013

March Cloverbud 4 H Meeting

Yesterday was our March Cloverbud 4 H meeting.  Cloverbuds are technically ages 5-8, but the odest child in my club is 11 and we have some siblings of 4 hers as young as 3 (well and Emelia but she doesn't really participate.)  Our meeting was on container gardening.  Now, I have a black thumb.  I do not grow things well at all!  But, my friend who helps me with the club is an awesome gardener and cans all of her own fruits and vegetables, so she helped me out with the planning of this meeting.

There is a 4 H competition coming up called Illustrated Talks and Demonstrations where the kids compete doing a Power Point Presentation or using posters on various subjects, or doing a demonstration.  For Cloverbuds there are no "rules" they use the county competition as practice for when they are old enough to compete at the district level.  For our meeting, one of our club members (who just turned 8) did an awesome Power Point Presentation on container gardening.  Then, his sister did a demonstration showing the kids how to plant their seeds in a container garden.  After that all of the children had a chance to plant their own seeds in their containers.  We planted pinto beans, sunflowers, and zinnias.  We used the $1 shoe box containers from Walmart.  My husband drilled 2 holes in the bottom to allow for drainage and we used the lid to set the container on.  I had 15 kids tell me they were coming(I asked them to call or text me so I could have the right number of containers), so I bought supplies for 15.  The project cost $28 and I had each child pay $2 so that was just about perfect.  One didn't come and I had two come that I didn't know about, so because we didn't have enough containers, the last child planted in Styrofoam cups which worked out fine.

It was a little shorter than our normal meetings, but that was good too because several of the children had T-ball, or soccer games to get to.

I do not do a great job taking pictures since I was passing out seeds, but I did get a few.

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Math U See

 photo MathUSeelogo3_zps75a0efc5.gif

Math is one of those subjects that worries homeschool parents, especially when you start getting into the upper grades.  I know one of the first things I was afraid of when I started homeschooling was teaching Math beyond Algebra.  Even though I had taken math all the way to Calculus, it has been a few years, and is one of those things that you do forget if you don't use.  Math U See has curriculum for ages K-12 that takes away parents fear of teaching math.  I was very excited to have an opportunity to review Algebra 2 with my 16 year old daughter.

Math U See believes that the reason we study math is to apply it in everyday situations.  It is a complete, skill based, multi sensory program for grades K-12.  The program is mastery based, meaning that each level covers a concept thoroughly allowing the student to completely understand it before moving on.  Since it is a mastery based program, Math U See's levels are not based on grade.  They offer placement tests to determine where you should begin.  You can find those here.  Lessons are taught by DVD and worksheets are used for the student to practice what has been taught in the lesson.  Manipulatives are used for Primer through Algebra 1.

Before I get into the review part of this review, I want to talk a little bit about my history with Math U See.  I started out using Math U See my first year of homeschooling.  Then, for various reasons ( curriculum was given to us, we bought something else based on a friend's recommendation, we reviewed different curriculum) we switched around a bit. None of those other curricula really stuck with Chelsea, and she started falling further and further behind because she did not fully understand the concepts.  So, last January, I switched her back to Math U See and she has been doing great!  I since then switched all of my children 1-11th grade back to Math U See.

Now let's talk about Algebra 2.

There are 2 components to Math U See Algebra 2.  First, the Instruction Pack ($72) which contains: the hard cover Instructor's Manual with lesson by lesson instruction and detailed solutions and the DVD with detailed lesson by lesson instruction.  The second component is the Student Pack ($32)  which contains  the softcover Student Workbook with lesson by lesson worksheets, review pages, and honors pages.  It also contains the soft cover Test Booklet.

Algebra 1 is needed before taking Algebra 2.  The first few lessons review Algebra 1 before moving on to new materials.  There are 31 lessons in the text.  The length of time spent on a  lesson will vary by student.  Math U See recommends a 4 step approach:

Step 1-Preparation for the Lesson- Watch the DVD and read through the Instruction Manual for that lesson.
Step 2- Presentation of the New Topic- Choose problems from the Instruction Manual to present to the student working with them until the are comfortable.
Step 3- Practice For Mastery- Students complete as many of the lesson practice problems until they understand the new material.  Algebra 2 has 2 pages of lesson practice problems with additional pages being available on the Math U See website if needed.
Step 4- Progression After Mastery- Once the new concept is mastered, students move on to the systematic review pages for that lesson. There are 4 regular systematic review pages for each lesson, plus an Honors page.  After completing those you can take the lesson test.

Table of Contents

  • Exponents
  • Rational Expressions
  • Scientific Notation
  • Combining Like Terms
  • Radicals: Basic Operations and Simplifying
  • Factoring Polynomials
  • Fractional Exponents
  • Solving Equations with Rational Expressions
  • Imaginary and Complex Numbers
  • Conjugate Numbers
  • Cubes and Pascal's Triangle
  • Binomial Theorem
  • Completing the Square
  • Quadratic Formula
  • Discriminants
  • Applications Using Percent
  • Isolating a Variable
  • Ratios
  • Unit Multipliers and Metric Conversions
  • Distance = Rate x Time
  • Motion Problems
  • Graphing Lines
  • Graphing Parallel and Perpendicular Lines
  • Graphing Inequalities
  • Distance Formula and Midpoint Formula
  • Conic Sections: Circle and Ellipse
  • Conic Sections: Parabola
  • Parabola: Maxima and Minima
  • Conic Sections: Hyperbola
  • Solving Systems of Equations: Lines and Conic Sections
  • Coin Problems
  • Consecutive Integers
  • Chemical Mixtures
  • Age and Boat in the Current Problems
  • Solving Equations with Three Variables
  • Vectors

You can view a sample lesson by clicking here.

You can see sample videos here.

Chelsea (16) has been using Math U See Algebra 2 completely on her own.  She usually takes about a week to complete one lesson.  She watches the DVD, reads through the Instructor's Manual, and completes the lesson practice problems.  The next several days she completes the Systematic Review pages until she completely understands the concept, then moves on to take the test.  After completing the test, she grades it and goes back and corrects any problems she has missed.  Chelsea spends an hour per day 4 days a week on math.

I love Math U See!  As a mom of 7, I need a math curriculum that does the bulk of the teaching for me in the   upper levels.  Chelsea likes to work independently and does not want to wait for me to sit down and teach her lessons.  Not to mention, it has been a few years since I was in High School and have taken Algebra 2 (although you'd be surprised at how quickly some of those formulas come back to you.)  I like the ability to bring the "teacher" into the house via DVD.  I think the fact that Mr. Demme is actually teaching a class makes the videos more interesting.  With Math U See she can be completely independent.  If she doesn't understand the concept right away, she can always go back and watch the video again.  If she needs more practice problems, we can simply print off more from the website.  I love the inclusion of Honors worksheets if you choose to complete them.  I love the word problems.  Math U See teaches in a way that is easy to understand.  She is learning the necessary concepts and that knowledge builds and helps her to understand the next concept.  She cannot "guess" her way through Math U See (like you can with programs that give multiple choice answers.)  She has to work out and solve the problems to get to the correct answer.  The Instruction manual does a good job explaining the topic and you can see each step of the solutions.

I asked Chelsea what she likes about Math U See.  She said, " I like the instruction videos.  Mr. Demme takes math and makes it fun and interesting.  I really like his funny (sometimes corny) jokes.  The step by step instruction is presented very clearly and makes sense.  There is nothing distracting about Math U See.  You just watch the videos and do the work. I can understand it!  I like that I can do the work by myself and at my own pace."

The Crew reviewed all of the levels of Math U See.  Click on the banner below to see what other Crew Mates had to say.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Do You Ever Have Doubts?

I do.  I know on paper (or the computer) many homeschoolers appear to have it altogether.  Not true.  I second guess myself all of the time.  Am I doing too much? Am I doing enough? Am I spending enough time on each subject?  Am I getting enough one on one time with each child?  How can I teach XYZ effectively if I don't understand it myself?  Am I leaving gaps in their education?  How can anyone learn in this chaos (when you've been interrupted 10 times in an hour!)

I think those are concerns that we have all had at one time or another. There are even harder questions or situations that may come up.  Especially when you have a child who is a struggling learner, or special needs.  The questions you ask yourself may be harder then, especially when there is so much pressure from the outside for you to put him in a school where "professionals" can teach them and they can be taught the "right way."  The doubts may increase even more when there are specialized therapies that you are only eligible for if you put your child in school.

Being a parent is hard!  You have to be the one to make the decisions that you think are best for your child and pray that they are the right ones.  Homeschooling is hard.  The house is a mess half (or most) of the time (at least mine is ; ), you are tired, and always wondering if you are doing enough or too much.

One thing that I never doubt, is that being at home is the best education possible for children.  There is no better teacher than a loving parent, there is no better loving  environment for a child to learn and thrive in.  I am sure of that.  Some days you may do too much, some days you may not do enough.  It will balance out.  If you feel like it may be too much, cut back.  If the kids are bored and look as though they need more to do add something in (or hand them a book!)  Try to find a balance that allows you to spend time with each child.  It may not be perfectly equal or even possible all o the time.  This too will balance out if you make it a priority.  Even public schools leave gaps in the child's education.  Did you ever finish a textbook when you went to school?  I know I didn't.  The school focuses on teaching to the test.  At home you can focus on teaching to learn and instilling a love of learning.  Interruptions are OK!  Real life is full of interruptions and kids can deal with them too (I have been interrupted 8 times while writing this!)

There is no professional more invested in your child than you.  It is hard when you have a struggling learner or a child with special needs.  You can successfully keep them home.  Don't listen to the people that make you feel as though you are harming your children by homeschooling them.

God has entrusted you with the love and care and education of those children He has blessed you with.  Take your doubts, cares, needs, concerns to Him.  He will provide you with what you need.    

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break Is Over . . .

So we are back to Homeschool today.  I wasn't originally planning on taking a Spring Break, but Chelsea had an opportunity to take a trip to the Creation Museum, and we are ahead of schedule for the year anyway, so I decided everyone would take the week off.

The children and I really didn't do a whole lot at all last week.  In fact, after getting home from church on Sunday, I didn't even leave the house again until Friday.  We had a nice relaxing week.  The weather really could've been better, but it will be blazing hot soon enough!

Chelsea enjoyed her trip and when she uploads her pictures, I will post some of them.  She got home late Thursday night.  Friday, Art and I went out to eat and did some grocery shopping.  Saturday it was rainy and miserable all day, so we watched The Hobbit and Rise of the Guardians.

Yesterday Lily (4) decided she was going to swallow a stone.  Hopefully it will pass through he system without any problems!

This week, I will be finishing up the Astronomy and Space Unit Study with Anthony and The Letter, Shapes, and Numbers Lapbook with Lily (both from A Journey Through Learning, review posting after Friday.)  We will be doing some fun experiments with Supercharged Science.  Anthony and Alex will be practicing drilling their Math Facts with Math Rider.  We also will be starting a study from Homeschool In the Woods on Great Empires.  I am really excited about that!

Now that the new cord has come in for the old laptop, Chelsea can get back to working on her programming skills using Computer Science For Kids.  A little more than a week ago, I had one of the boys plug in the laptop and the cord popped, shot sparks out, and split in half!  Luckily no one was hurt nothing started on fire, and the computer wasn't damaged.  Chelsea also is working on a literature study of The Hobbit.

Our ladybug larvae arrived on Saturday.  After the ladybugs grow and change, I will do a blog post about their transformation.  In addition to the ladybugs, we still have our aquatic frog, ant farm, 10 goldfish, and a few assorted fish in the aquarium.  We still have 4 hens and a rooster and are hoping to hatch some of our own chicks and should be getting new 4 H chickens in a couple of weeks.

We will also be busy this week with soccer 4 days this week, plus a 4 H meeting.  I am glad I had last week at home.  I hope everyone has a great week!

Menu Plan Monday 3/25/13

It's Monday again!  I am reviewing a new cookbook, so we are trying out several new recipes over the next couple of weeks.

Fri- 3/22-Pizza
Sat 3/23- Fuited Chicken over Rice, Biscuits
Sun 3/24- Roasted Cauliflower Soup, Grilled Cheese
Mon 3/25- Fettuccine Alfredo, Salad
Tues 3/26- Tacos
Wed 3/27- Sweer and Sour Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli/Cauliflower
Thurs 3/28- Takeout

To see some great menu ideas, visit www.orgjunkie.com.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Adventus

 photo AdventusLogo_zps301dbe63.gif

I love music and think it is important to expose children to a variety of music and musical instruments.  But, music lessons are just not a possibility for us, not just because of the cost (although that is a big factor), but also the travel time and distance.  Adventus provides a solution to the problem for parents who want to provide an affordable music education for their children from the comfort of their own home with their MusIQ Homeschool program.

When Adventus first appeared on our vendor list, I was really disappointed, because it looked like a really great program, but the children had broken our keyboard.  In order to use the program, you need to have a MIDI piano keyboard.  Most keyboards are MIDI capable.  They need to have a USB port in order to connect to the computer or a MIDI to USB adapter.  Adventus offers a discount on their M-Audio KigRig 49e  keyboard and I was able to purchase one from them in order to use their program for review.  I was so excited!
 photo musiqhomeschool-software_zps4cb3ceea.jpg

The MusIQ Homeschool Program is an award winning, multi level, interactive program for ages 4-18 and beginning to advanced intermediate piano students.  The programs they offer include:

Early Curriculum Children's Music Journey Volumes 1,2, and 3 - Children's Music Journey is an interactive, animated, fully narrated program for ages 4-10.  Each of the levels contain 25-35 lessons (Vol 1 has 25, 2 and 3 have 35) taught by a variety of different composers, 25-35 practice sessions with Ms. Melody, 10 new games for each level, 50 learn to play pieces for each level, and the ability to compose and record your own music using a variety of instruments.

Multi Level Curriculum for ages 10+

Piano Suite Premier has 5 different skill levels from beginning to intermediate.  There are hundreds of narrated lessons on notation, music theory, sight reading and playing.  The Learn to Play Library contains 500 different songs from a wide variety of music styles ranging from Levels 1-5.  Piano Suite gives instant audio and visual feedback and detailed reporting.  You have the ability to compose, edit, save, and print your own music.  There is a detailed section on Music History and also a variety of interactive games.

Ear Training Coach 1 and 2, Ear Training Coach 3 and 4- Ear Training Coach can help students develop their musical ear at their own pace.  Students will recognize and play rhythmic passages, retain and play back melodious passages, discern between intervals and identify them, and review musical passages and play them back by sight.  It is packed with 1000's of exercises, identifies areas that needs improvement, and provides detailed evaluations.

The computer system requirements are:
Early Curriculum- Windows 7/XP/2000 (It will also run on Windows 8) or Mac OSX
Multi level Curriculum- Windows 7/XP/Vista (will also run on Windows 8)

I am sure after reading all of that, you are wondering the cost.  Adventus offers several different pricing options.  You can choose a month to month subscription, or purchase the software from them.  The month to month subscription includes unlimited access to all of the products I listed above and is only $10.95 a month!
You have to have an internet connection to run the software.

You can see the different pricing options for purchasing the Early Curriculum software here.
The different pricing options for the multi level curriculum software here.

You can also purchase the Lesson Plans to go along with the monthly subscription.

You can sign up for a free 7 day trial here.

Installation of the software was very easy.  I have very slow high speed internet, so it did take awhile (around an hour) for each of the software components to download.  Once the keyboard arrived it was very easy to set up within the software and we were ready to go!  I am using Children's Music Journey Vol 1 with my 4,6, and 9 year olds completing one lesson per week with practice in between lessons 4 days per week.  My 16 year old and I have had a chance to use the different features of Piano Suite Premier.

Children's Music Journey

Children's Music Journey has 5 different learning centers.  The first is the lesson room.  Each lesson begins with a piece of classical music by the composer who is teaching the lesson.  The lessons are interactive and the "teacher" can tell if you have played the correct notes on the keyboard or not.  It starts out rather simply teaching about the keyboard itself, high bird notes, low whale notes, and middle C.  Children get to compose their own song, hear it played back to them, and see it in pictures.  Lessons close with the playing of classical music that the lesson opened with.  The Practice Room is another learning center.  There, children visit with Ms. Melody to practice what their teacher has taught them in their lesson.  There is also a game center where the children can play fun games to reinforce the concepts they have been taught.  In the library, children can practice songs they have learned, listen to their teacher's songs, listen to their own recordings, or replay any of the previous lessons.  In the Improvisation Room, children have an opportunity to improvise and compose with dozens of different instruments and rhythms and record what they have done.
The Lesson Room

The Practice Room

The Improvisation Room

The Library

The Game Menu

Lily, Christian, and Alex's favorite game!

I love the whole concept of Children's Music Journey!  You can use it for multiple children with everyone having their own log in and the program keeps track of what each child has completed.  It is so much more than teaching your child how to play the keyboard.  They are taught by (and in the process learn about) famous composers.  They have an opportunity to learn about and listen to famous classical music.  I love the interactive feature of the lessons.  Children are given immediate feedback as they complete the task they are asked to do.  I love that they get to compose their own songs in the lessons and hear them played back to them.  My youngest, Lily who is 4, is always so proud when she is in the practice room with Ms. Melody and they play the song that she wrote! The games are a fun way to practice the concepts the children are being taught.  My children love the game where they catch the notes between the buoys.  They ask to use Adventus everyday.  My biggest problem is juggling keyboard/computer time to make sure everyone who want to gets a chance.

Piano Suite Premier

Piano Suite Premier is an amazing program that teaches children and adults ages 10 and up.  It also has 5 different areas.  In the piano player, you have an opportunity to choose from 500 different songs by a variety of artists and genres including: classical, jazz, rock, country, and more in levels ranging from 1 to 5.  Once you choose your song, you are taken to a screen that shows the music, a keyboard, and art work (if available) of the song.  There are a variety of options in the Piano Player.  You can change the size of the sheet music, you can choose a tempo, you can have starting hand positions shown.  You can change your instrument.  If there are lyrics for your song, you can view them.  You can choose to practice one hand at a time or both hands at once.  My favorite feature is the wait for note feature.  This shows you if you are playing the correct notes or not and will not let you move on until the correct note is played.  At the end of of the piece, it shows you how many notes you missed, which bars you made mistakes in, and gives you the option to save the recorded piece.

The Theory Thinker has a wide range of music topics from levels one to five.  Each topic contains several subtopics.  As you complete each subtopic, a check mark is displayed so you will remember which ones you have completed.  The lessons are fairly short.  After you are taught the lesson, you are taken to the piano player to practice what you have learned.  At the end of the topic, there is a list of practice exercises that you can go back and complete.

In the Composer's Corner, you have the ability to compose and record your own music.

History Happens has a huge amount of information on various composers and music.

And last but not least there are 3 games to reinforce what you are being taught.

I have really enjoyed using Piano Suite Premier!  I taught myself to play a little keyboard a long time ago, and always wanted to be able to play "for real."  I have been using the Theory Thinker a little bit everyday and playing some of the Level One songs in the Piano Player.  I am amazed at all of the wonderful interactive features of this program.  It is very helpful to have the practice lessons connected to the Theory Thinker so you go right from hearing what to do to doing it yourself.  I LOVE that you can customize the Piano Player to whatever you need!  Bigger notes, tempo, lyrics, starting hand position, and my favorite of course, Wait for note.  You can even mark off certain bars and only play those.  I love the immediate feedback that tells you how many notes you missed and where.  I like to go back and keep playing until I make 100%.

The only thing that is a little odd about Piano suite Premier compared to Children's Music Journey is that the voices in Piano Suite Premier Theory Thinker are very robotic.  They are not hard to understand, just very very "computer sounding."

I am thrilled with the MusicIQ Homeschool Program from Adventus!  It is fun, easy for the student and the parent (or the parent student.)  It can be used and enjoyed by a wide range of ages.  If you choose the monthly subscription, you have access to all the levels to use with multiple children for one affordable price!  You can give your children music lessons from the comfort of your own home!

To see what other Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another Homeschool "S" Word- Shelter

I was reading my print edition of TOS Magazine the other day, and in it Gena Suarez had written an article called "Am I Sheltering My Child Too Much?"  It is a really good article (actually the entire magazine is filled with good articles.)  I can remember the first time I read that article.  It came in on of the emails that TOS sends out if you sign up to be on their email lists and I got the email shortly after I had been being interrogated, I mean talked to, about continuing to keep Chelsea at home.  The article lifted me up and encouraged me at the exact moment I needed it.  I even emailed Gena and thanked her and she answered my email!  That really surprised me, that she read and took the time to answer my email.  I shouldn't be surprised that just two days after reading it again, I got sucked into a conversation about the fact that I am over sheltering my teenager.

I get this feeling that when many people think of homeschoolers , they think that we keep them stuck in a bubble (the house) their whole homeschooling life.  That is so far from the truth.  Our children while homeschooling are able to participate in a wide variety of experiences and activities and are not stuck indoors all the time.  In fact as I am writing this my oldest is on her way back from a trip to Kentucky to see the Creation Museum and the Mammoth Caves.  The week before she went to a Young Voters Workshop in Little Rock.  The week before that we were at the Science Museum and she judged a 4 H competition.  Trust me, we do not keep her in a bubble.

But, she is sheltered.  I believe down to the bottom of my heart that sheltering our children is one of our biggest jobs as parents.  My daughter is not exposed to the same things that most children her age are exposed to, I don't understand why people look at that as a negative thing.  I thank God everyday that my children are not in the world dealing with the things that most children deal with on a day to day basis: drugs, bullying, relationship pressure, self esteem issues, peer pressure, and more (that I will not mention specifically on my family friendly homeschool blog, but you get the idea.)

The whole argument that if I keep her sheltered as a teenager I will make her rebel as soon as she gets to leave home, therefore I should allow her to "learn about" these type of experiences now is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of.  First of all, when did everyone decide that allowing teenagers to do whatever they wanted was a good thing?  What is good about it?  Teenagers are just like little kids with more hormones.  They are not capable (most of the time) of making rational, adult decisions.  Why should they then get to do whatever they want, with whoever they want, wearing whatever they want, anytime they want.  How is this looked at as a good thing?

Second, why do people assume you need to let your teens run wild, and if you don't you will cause them to be even wilder when they reach college or are otherwise on their own?  It is almost like people are using this excuse to give their teens a license to do whatever they want.  This is what I was told, "It happens all the time.  These kids whose parents keep them at home and don't let them experience the things that normal teenagers do go to college and go completely wild!"

I don't think (aside from really keeping them locked in their rooms) that you can keep you children sheltered too much.  This is part of our job as parents.  What that looks like for every family may look different.  I pray daily for wisdom and guidance in this area so that I will know when an activity/trip/camp etc. . . is a good idea for that child or not.  Putting them in school so they can experience all of the things "normal" teenagers do is a crazy idea to me.  I don't want my children to be normal.

While we are keeping them sheltered (protected) from the world, we are also teaching them God's word and to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength", and "training them up in the way they should go."  When they are adults, and able to make their own decisions I pray that they will remember that and choose to live their lives in a way that will honor God.  And while you may hear about the occasional child that was over protected and "ran wild" as soon as they got out of their parent's house, you don't really know the circumstances behind it (just the juicy, gossipy parts), and there are that many more teens that grow and mature in the protection (shelter) of their parents' homes and go out into the world without ever going "completely wild."

Protect. Shelter. Teach.  Enjoy your time with your children.  We are only given a few short years to prepare them for eternity.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Classical Academic Press Poetry


From the website, "Classical Academic Press produces superlative educational materials to advance the revival of classical education. We specialize in subjects such as Latin and logic, presented clearly and creatively, to equip and engage both students and teachers. These programs are the continuing, collaborative effort of distinguished scholars, teachers, and designers."

I LOVE Classical Academic Press!  We have been so blessed to have reviewed a wide variety of the products they offer in the past: Latin, Bible, and Logic.  I had seen the Art of Poetry on the CAP website and thought it would be perfect for my 16 year old daughter.  We were very excited when we were given the opportunity to use and review The Art of Poetry.

The Art of Poetry is designed to help Middle or High School students understand and appreciate poetry.  Students will learn how to read a poem slowly and carefully, learn about different elements used in poetry, and the many different forms of poetry.  The book is full of exercises, activities, and explications to guide students through a deeper understanding of poetry.  A biography of each poet in included in the book and CAP has provided many of the poems being read in mp3 format free on their website  Art of Poetry Audio Files.

There are three components to the Art of Poetry:

Student Text-  $24.94  The Student Text is a paper back book that is 268 pages long.  It contains 16 chapters in 3 different sections: The Elements of Poetry (Images, Metaphor, Symbols, Words, Sound and More Sound, Rhythm, Shape: Stanza and Line, Tone: Putting it All Together), The Formal History of Poetry (History of Form , Movements, Genres, Verse Forms, Shaping Forms, Emily Dickinson: A Case Study in Form, Open Verse, Walt Whitman: A Case Study in Open Verse, Narrative Poems: An Anthology), and Application.  Appendix A contains a biography of each of the poets, Appendix B talks about using The Art of Poetry online, and Appendix C has information about poetry in the classroom or at home.  There also is an introduction, a section on using the book in the front of the book and a glossary of terms in the back of the book.

You can view a sample chapter by clicking here.

Teacher's Edition- $29.95 The Teacher's Edition is a paperback book that is 312 pages long.  It contains the entire Student Text plus: explications of all the poems in the text, answer key to all of the questions, a poetry timeline, chapter quizzes and answers, cumulative quiz and answers, and tips and suggestions for teaching poetry.  The Teacher's Edition does not contain a suggested schedule, but you can find schedule suggestions for one year, half year, four year, or semester long co-ops by clicking here.

To see a sample click here.


DVD's- $89.95 ($69.95 starting April 1st) The DVD set is more than 15 hours long and features Christine Perrin (the author) taking 4 eighth grade students through the book chapter by chapter discussing the concepts that are presented in the text.  Each chapter is 45-1 hour long and after the chapter session is completed there is a short session focusing on a few of the activities at the end of the chapter.  The DVD's are not required in order to complete the course.

A video sample can be found on this page.

The Art of Poetry can also be purchased as a bundle which includes the Student Text, Teacher's Edition, and DvD's for $124.95 ($99.95 starting April 1st.)

My oldest (16) has been working through The Art of Poetry.  Since we don't have a class or co-op for her to discuss it with, and there is a big age gap between her and the next oldest child, she has been working through it mostly on her own focusing on one poem daily and answering the questions that follow and choosing one or two activities to complete at the end of the chapter.  After completing the chapter's questions, she went back and viewed the DVD for that session before completing her activities (for our review we only received Chapters 1 and 2 on DVD.)

The first chapter is on images and the first poem is entitled Storm Ending by Jean Toomer.

Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears.
Full-lipped flowers
Bitten by the sun
Bleeding rain
Dripping rain like golden honey-
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.

 Here are the questions and Chelsea's answers.

1.  Notice how Toomer's poem takes you to a distinct place, a specific experience constructed by image layered upon image.  Make a list of all the verbs in the poem, then nouns, adjectives, and adverbs.
blossoms, rumbling, stretching, strike, bleeding, dripping, flying
thunder, heads, flowers, wind, clappers, ears, sun, rain, honey, earth, thunder
great, hollow, bell-like, full-lipped, golden, sweet

2.  We expect images in poetry to always be nouns but in this poem the primary image is a verb, can you name it?

3.  How would you describe the atmosphere created in this poem?  Is the overall feeling negative or positive? Dark or light?  Fearful or comforting?  What specific evidence can you point to to defend your answers?
The atmosphere is somewhat negative.  The poem is somewhat dark.  Evidence: "full lipped flowers bitten by the bleeding rain."

At the end of the chapter on images there are several activities for the student to choose from and complete such as: freewriting about images from one of the four seasons, describing to someone an image that is important to you, describing the past school year through four images, figure out which of the four senses is most important to you, cut out a series of images from a magazine that describes a relationship that is important to you and make a collage, write your own version of the Ezra Pound poem, play an association game, write a poem like The Panther  but use a different animal, write your own version of Dust of Snow.

A Five minute freewrite on summer:

Hot.  Dry.  The ground needs water.  Daytime starts early in the morning before it is too hot to stay outside.  Evening is the best time to enjoy summer.  Swimming, camping, relaxing with a book in the oppressive heat of the day.  BBQ picnics.  Flipflops and shorts.  4 H camp and VBS.  Fieldtrips and competitions.  Sleeping in.  Afternoon movies.  No schoolwork.  Vacations.  Going to the lake.  Cold fried chicken and potato salad.

What I love about the Art of Poetry is that there is no wrong way to use it.  You can go in depth and cover it in a short period of time, or you can simply read and enjoy the poems and stretch the book out for as long as you wish.  You don not have to be any kind of expert in poetry to use this product in your homeschool.  In fact you can have little or no experience reading and analyzing poems and still be able to teach this course to your middle schoolers, or allow your high schoolers to work through it on their own (I know this from personal experience ; )  The text contains some beautiful poems for your students to read throug and learn from.  They can even listen to many of them read aloud for free at the link I listed above.  The exercises help them to think deeper and develop an appreciation for poetry as well as help them to develop their own skill at poetry if they choose.  The Teacher's Edition gives detailed explications and answers to the questions making it very easy for anyone of any background to teach this course.

The DVDs are not required for the course, but by using them it is as though you are bringing the instructor right into your home to teach the course.  Each chapter is covered in detail on the DVDs through the discussions between Christine Perrin and her four students.  I loved the images that were used during the reading of the introductions to the chapters.  I enjoyed listening to the discussions between the teacher and the students.  I thought her method of teaching them to memorize the poems using hand motions was very effective.  I was so glad to see the section after the chapter showing Christine completing a few of the activities to give me a better idea of how to use those effectively.  I thought the DVDs were a high quality resource that greatly enhanced the lessons.

Although you can work through it on your own, many of the activities are designed to be completed and discussed in a group.  I think the Art of Poetry would make a great course for a homeschool co-op.

To see what other Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Threads of Grace by Kelly Long

Book Description

Grace's autistic son needs a life that is safe and consistent. Seth wants to leave his flirting days behind him and settle down.
Deep in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania, the beautiful and weary Amish widow, Grace Beiler, is not looking for a husband—especially one so much younger than her. But handsome and smitten Seth Wyse stumbles upon a way to help her and they marry to keep Grace’s autistic son safe from his ill-intentioned uncle.
Grace soon discovers that she is far from immune to her young husband’s experienced charm and realizes that her first marriage has not destroyed her capacity for love.
Seth Wyse seeks counsel from his older brother, Jacob, when playing the game of pursuing his wife becomes more dangerous to both his heart and life than he ever imagined.
Yet God can give Grace and Seth a passion for family and each other that teaches them the ways of the Master Quilter through the tangled and tender threads of their lives.
Threads of Grace is the third book in The Patch of Heaven Series by Kelly Long.  I have not read the other two books, but after reading this one, I would really like to.  I loved Threads of Grace!  I loved the characters.  Grace has had a hard life, but she adores her son and will do anything for him.  Her experience has taught her not to trust men, but little by little Seth works his way into her heart.  Seth is a man who can be trusted and wants to do everything he can for Grace and Abel.  I love the way he relates to and treats Abel.  This line in particular really stood out to me (Seth talking to Grace after Abel has a meltdown in public), " Someone talked to me this morning about grace.  That's what Abel's got inside of him, I think.  Grace.  I believe der Herr made him the way he is-not Silas Beiler, and not some kind of defect or mistake.  Gott made him an filled his soul with grace."
I love the story and the threads of grace that weave all through our lives and bind us together.  It is a really beautiful picture and a remembrance that God can and does work all things for good.  
Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of Threads of Grace for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Model of the Solar System

Anthony has been working on the Astronomy and Space Unit Study from A Journey Through Learning (review posting last week of March.)  He really has been fascinated with space and learning about the planets.  The other day when I was placing an order from Amazon and still $8 away from a $25 order for free shipping, I decided to look for a kit for him on the planets.  I found this one and decided to go ahead and order it for Anthony.

It came Saturday morning and I have to say the timing was perfect!  Christian and Alex had gone with their daddy to go pick up a car (Art's new project a 72 Dodge Swinger) but Anthony and Nick really don't have that much interest in cars so they stayed home with me and the girls.  The kit came and gave Anthony and Nick something the two of them could work on together.  Anthony (7) was able to do a lot of it himself, but Nick was there to help him read the directions and make sure that Anthony put the planets in the spots.

Each of the planets had to be put together (they snapped together no glue required) and painted, then placed on the stand in the correct spot.  Everything you need for the kit came with it.  It even came with some glow in the dark paint to put over top of the colored paint to make the planets glow.  It is a model, not a toy.  I told Anthony it probably would not stand up to a lot of playing with and it really needs to be stored on a shelf.  He does take it down and move the planets around in their orbits around the sun.  He is very happy with his model!  Now he wants to do one of the moon and the stars.

Menu Plan Monday 3/18/13

We had to change our routine a bit this week-end because of a Friday night soccer game.  We did a picnic in the park Friday night, and moved our usual Pizza and a Movie to Saturday night.  After the game on Friday, I went to Walmart and did our shopping while Art took the children home.  I made it through the store in less than 30 minutes, and after checking out had a little over $4 left in my grocery envelope.  We are on Spring Break this week which means no soccer games and we can eat at home every night!

Friday 3/15- KFC in the park
Saturday 3/16- pizza
Sunday 3/17-ham steaks, cheesy potatoes, vegetable stir fry
Monday 3/18- rotini pasta, salad
Tuesday 3/19- chicken, rice, cauliflower
Wednesday 3/20- pork chop casserole, homemade bread
Thursday 3/21- Taco Crescent Ring

To see some great menu plans visit www.orgjunkie.com

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Essentials In Writing

Essential in Writing logo photo EssentialsinWritinglogo_zps7affe1cf.jpg

I first heard about Essentials In Writing last spring when I was researching vendors that would be at a local homeschool convention.  I was impressed by what I read online, so I made a point to visit the booth and speak with the vendor.  After having the opportunity to see the product in person and speak to the vendor, I decided to purchase it for my 5th grade son.  At that time, the upper grades were not yet available.  I have been very pleased with the program for my son, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to review Essentials In Writing 11th Grade.

Essentials in Writing Grade 11 photo EIW11thgrade_zps8fbcb40b.jpg

Essentials In Writing is a complete language arts program with an emphasis in compositions.  Products available for grades 1-11, with 12th grade, High School Creative Writing, and High School Technical Writing coming soon.  The program is not affiliated with Math U See, but it is similar in style.  The student is taught by watching the DVD lesson of Mr. Stephens as he presents the material in easily digestible chunks using a step by step process.  Then they complete the worksheets or writing assignments that go with the lesson.  Worksheets are labeled with the lesson number and letters.  So the child watches the lesson 1 DVD and completes letter A worksheet the first day, B the second day, C the third, and so on.  If there is only a letter A then the student goes on to the next video lesson the next day.

The curriculum includes a DVD to view the lessons and PDF files that contain the worksheets for $40.  You also have the option to purchase an already printed out spiral bound workbook containing the worksheets for $20.

The 11th Grade materials cover: sentence composition, paragraphs, the writing process, essays, using effective writing techniques, the research paper, and other topics.  The essay section includes: Expository Essay, Persuasive Essay, Process Analysis Essay, Response to Literature Essay, and the Research Paper.  The curriculum is split up into three sections: Sentences, Paragraphs, and Essays.  The author suggests taking breaks after each section and between each essay to focus on spelling, literature, or vocabulary, but how you choose to schedule breaks (if at all) is completely up to you and what works for your schedule.  There is no answer key for this level.  Instead sample sentences or compositions are included in the workbook with each lesson.  It is suggested that you choose one of two ways to grade compositions: a checklist or a scoring guide.  These are included in the student workbook.   Assignments are usually completed in one day unless noted in the student workbook.  

For review purposes, we were asked to complete a few lessons in each section of the program, to get a better overall feel for the entire program.  So my daughter completed 5 lessons in the Sentences section, 2 lessons in the paragraph section, and 2 essays.  We used Essentials In Writing 4 days a week first viewing the DVD of the lesson and then completing the assignments to go along with it.  The workbook does not have a space for most of the student's work, so Chelsea used a spiral notebook to do the assignments for the sentences and paragraphs and prewriting stage for the essays.

I really like the format of Essentials In Writing.  As I mentioned, it is similar to Math U See which we are big fans of.  The student can watch the videos and complete the lessons independently with the parent only needed for occasional guidance and to grade the essays.  Lessons are concise and to the point.  Everything Mr. Stephens teaches has a purpose.  There is no "busy work."  The flow to the curriculum makes sense.  First he starts off teaching them how to improve and vary their sentences and sentence structure.  Next they use what they have learned to create better paragraphs.  Then, they use what they have learned writing paragraphs to create better essays.  The curriculum is designed for you to complete it as it works best for your schedule.  You can complete more than one lesson in a day if you choose or take small breaks in between each section and essay to focus on literature or vocabulary.  I like that there are options within many of the assignments so the student can choose which one they would like to complete.

I think it is wonderful that you are given a PDF download so that you have the ability to print it out for multiple children in your home.  But, I did want to mention that unless you have a really good printer it is worth the $20 to purchase the student workbook.  The workbooks are long (11th grade is 168 pages) and by the time you print it out and buy a notebook to put it in, it probably will have been cheaper to have bought it already printed out.

To see what other Crew Mates had to say click on the banner below.


A New Sandbox

Our wooden swing set has a built in sandbox underneath.  We have never filled it with sand though.  It has dirt in it that the children play in sometimes, but since it doesn't have a cover and I have killed both a black widow and a snake in it in the past, I didn't want it filled with sand, uncovered and have something burrow into it that I couldn't see.  Then there's the ants.  If you don't live in the south, and don't have to deal with fire ants, I can't even begin to tell you what a pain they really are.  They sting, and it hurts!  They build ant mounds and several attack you at once if you happen to step in or disturb one.  Since they are not natural to the area, there really is nothing to keep the population under control.  We keep the area around the house treated as best we can, but they still are a pain.  I have known people whose children have gotten into their sandboxes to play and the children have been attacked by ants and ended up in the ER.

But the children love to play in the sand.  So, we bought a small turtle sandbox from Walmart the other day ($21) with a lid.  Since we treat the area around the house, we should be able to keep the ants out of it.  Plus we have a concrete patio around the back of the house that we put the sandbox on, and we will have to make sure it stays covered.

Nick and Alex got it out of the van for the children Wednesday morning and set it up and filled it with sand.  The children have played, and played, and played, and played with it.  They have been having so much fun!  They have done a really good job keeping it covered too.  It was well worth the $21 plus $10 in sand toys and $15 in sand.

I had several cute pictures of Nick and Alex setting it up for them and filling it with sand, but my camera is missing!  We have torn the house apart trying to find it, but have been unsuccessful.  This picture is one I took with the iPad.  It doesn't take fabulous pictures, but the outdoor ones usually turn out ok.  I really hope my camera turns up soon!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: TouchMath

logo photo touchlogo_zps5760f524.jpg

One of the things that I love about having the opportunity to review homeschool curriculum is that I find out about these amazing companies that I have never heard of before!  A few weeks ago, the opportunity for reviewing TouchMath came up, and when I went to their website to investigate the products they had to offer, I was very intrigued.  My 5 year old son had not ever done any kind of formal Math curriculum before (although he could recognize numbers and count) so I was very excited to have the opportunity to review TouchMath Kindergarten Homeschool.

TouchMath is a multisensory program that works by using TouchPoints.  Each numeral 1-5 has single TouchPoints and numbers 6-9 have double TouchPoints.  Students count out loud as they touch the TouchPoints in the correct touching pattern for each number.  By doing this the learn to associate numerals with real values and are engaged on auditory, visual, and tactile levels.  Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing are easier for children because in addition they count forward, in subtraction they count backwards, and multiplication and division they count in sequence.

TouchMath previously had been available for public school, but they now have also developed TouchMath Homeschool Programs for grades Pre-K through 2nd.  You receive the program as a download and print out the worksheets.  Each unit comes with the black and white printable student worksheets, instruction guides with lesson plans, real world material, tests, and progress monitoring.
 Kindy photo 252441_10151402041329867_1022020412_n_zps5216bf56.jpg

The Kindergarten program is divided into 4 units with 6 modules in each unit.

Unit A-Counting, Adding, Subtracting within 5
Mod 1- Count by 1's and 10's to 100
Mod 2-Representing numbers using manipulatives
Mod 3-Writing and comparing number
Mod 4-Representing numbers using pictures
Mod 5- Adding using manipulatives and pictures
Mod 6-Subtracting using manipulatives and pictures
Unit B-Adding and Subtracting within 9
Mod 1- Writing and comparing numbers
Mod 2-Representing numbers using manipulatives and pictures
Mod 3-Adding using manipulatives and pictures
Mod 4-Subtracting using manipulatives and pictures
Mod 5-Composing and decomposing numbers
Mod 6-Adding and subtracting
Unit C-Understanding Numbers 1-20
Mod 1-Composing, decomposing, comparing 10
Mod 2-Writing and comparing 10-15
Mod 3-Writing and comparing 16-20
Mod 4-Place Value 10-20
Mod 5-Composing and decomposing 11-20
Mod 6-Adding and subtracting in word problems
Unit D-Measurement, Data, Geometry
Mod 1-Describing and comparing objects by length and weight
Mod 2-Sorting and classifying by length and weight
Mod 3-Interpreting Data
Mod 4-Describing shapes in the environment
Mod 5-Mastering 2 D shapes
Mod 6-Mastering 3 D shapes

Here is a sample of Unit A.  You can see samples of the other units by going to this page.

You can purchase each unit separately for $59.95 or you can purchase all four for $199.95.

TouchMath has several optional teaching aides and manipulatives to compliment the Kindergarten program.

TouchMath Tutor Kindergarten Software $99 single license
TouchShapes $30 for one set (additional pricing for classroom sets)
3-D Numerals $79
Texture Cards $99
Math Fans $239
TouchPoint Posters $43
Number Concept Posters $53

I began by downloading the files to the computer.  I read through all of the introductory teacher's material on the computer.  I decided to only print out the student worksheets and continue reading the teacher pages for each lesson off of the computer to save some printing ink.  I printed out all of the student pages and placed them in a notebook.  TouchMath recommends spending 2 to 2.5 times your child's age (or developmental age) on math each day, so we spent 12- 15 minutes per day 4 days per week.

I listed above the teaching aides/manipulatives that are available to compliment the TouchMath program.  We were incredibly blessed to receive the complete set!  I am going to talk more about each of those in detail, but I wanted to mention them now in explaining how we used the program.  To start off our daily Math session, we took a few minutes using one of the manipulatives to go over the TouchPoints.  Then we would complete about 3 worksheets a day and twice a week later on in the day Christian would use the computer software.  My 4 year old daughter has been very interested in what we have been doing and often joins in our lessons.

Christian helped me hang the Number Concept Posters (11x17) around our school room.  The set comes with numbers 0-9 showing the number,balloons to count, touch points, and counting patterns (except for 0 which has a stop sign and a prickly porcupine to remind children that 0 has no TouchPoints.)  Some days we begin our lesson by going around the room and touching the TouchPoints on each of the posters before we begin working on our worksheets.  Christian and Lily also like to go around the room counting the balloons.  The set includes instructional activities and reproducible desk top masters.

The TouchPoint Posters are smaller (8 1/2x11) and were designed for smaller classroom space.  There are 10 posters in the set that can be hung on the wall or laminated and used on student's desks.  Hands on activity suggestions are included with these posters along with information on using Touchpoints.

Another of the manipulatives we use to begin our daily math lessons are the 3 D Numerals.  The numerals come with a CD Rom with suggested activities and that you can print worksheets off of.  The size of the numbers on the worksheets are the exact size of the 3 D Numerals.  The 3 D numerals show the TouchPoints and are a very sturdy plastic.  The 3 D numerals are listed as an optional resource to use starting in Unit A Module 4.

  Although I love all of the manipulatives, the Texture Cards are my favorite (and the children's too)!  We also use these cards to start our math lessons (rotating days with the 3 D numerals and TouchPoints Posters.)  Often Christian and Lily will choose to take out the cards at other times in the day and lay them out on the table so they can feel and count the TouchPoints.  The Texture Cards contain 5 different sets with 9 cards in each set (total of 45 cards.)  The different sets include: shapes, fruit, forest animals, sea life, and touchpoints. The front of the cards show the numbers and touchy, feely, touchpoints, along with a picture, and words for the number and picture being shown.  The back has the number along with the counting pattern.  The forest and sea animals are Christian and Lily's favorites!  They love counting by touching the TouchPoints on these Texture Cards!  The cards are listed as an optional resource starting in Unit A Module 4.

The TouchShapes can be used independently or along with the worksheets to teach concepts such as shape identification, smaller/larger, pattern, and higher shape construction.  The set comes with 108 pieces in size multi-size/multi-color shapes (circle, square, rectangle, triangle, hexagon, and rhombus.)  We started using the TouchShapes in Module 2 (not required but teaching strategies do talk about using them if you have them.)  In addition to using them in the worksheets, Christian likes to use the shapes to build bigger shapes and patterns.

  " With the Math Fans, basic math concepts are presented using manipulatives with highly visual graphics, words, and numbers. The tangible and graphically-appealing Math Fans help reinforce topics such as: one-to-one correspondence, counting and number order, greater than/less than, money, shapes, fractions, place value, addition, and subtraction."

The Math Fan set contains: 2 sets of 1-10 fans, 10 ten blocks, one 100 block and A CD Rom containing an 80 page PDF with strategies, lesson plans, and student worksheets.  The student worksheets are broken down into 9 units with different worksheets for Pre-K-K (Group A), 1st and 2nd (Group B), and 3rd grade and up (Group C.)

Unit 1-One to One Correspondence
Unit 2-Counting and Number Order
Unit 3-Greater Than/Less Than
Unit 4-Pennies
Unit 5-Shapes
Unit 6-Fractions
Unit 7-Place Value
Unit 8-Addition
Unit 9-Subtraction

The front of the MathFans have pennies, the number for that particular fan with the TouchPoints, and the word pennies.  The back has a shape, name of the shape, fractions, and the fraction shown shaded in the shape.  The fans do not contain any loose parts or pieces, they fan out for use and close back up for easy storage.  To use them, we printed out the worksheets for Group A and work on those once a week.  We have also used the Math Fans for counting practice.

The TouchMath Kindergarten Software was made to compliment the print product.  Students can reinforce what the are learning by following UnoBear on a tour of the United Sates learning: Touching/Counting Patterns, Number Concepts 1-20, Addition with sums to 10, Backward counting from 10, and subtraction from 10 and below.  Each state the student visits contains a different theme.  For example: Topic 1 Disc 1, California has a sea/ocean theme and teaches touching/counting patterns while Topic 2, New Jersey has a plant theme and teaches Number Concepts.  There are 2 discs included with the Software.  This page has videos that you can watch and recommended system requirements.  I did want to mention that Christian in the photo is using a laptop with a built in mouse in the photo.  He had a terrible time with the drag and drop activities.  He had to use two hands on the mouse, one to drag and one to drop.  When I went back and read the back of the user's guide, it says the game was designed and developed for use with a standard mouse or touch screen.  We had much better success by plugging in a wireless mouse.

What I really liked about the TouchMath program is that it takes numbers from being just an abstract symbol on a page and turns it into something meaningful that children can see, hear, and touch.  Many young children learn much easier this way.  Once the child has learned the TouchPoints, they can easily learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.  There is a bit of reading that the teacher needs to do ahead of time to understand how and why the program works the way it does.  You also need to have the worksheets printed out and ready for the student, and to have any of the other supplies that may be necessary (crayons, glue, objects to count, etc..)  The teaching part is written in easy to follow step by step procedure.  I like the suggested Pre-Activities.  For example: "Take a walk outside and have your child find and count groups of objects (rocks, sticks, flowers etc. . .) " I really like the worksheets and Christian liked doing them as well.  They are black and white making them less expensive to copy, and the activities are varied so that the child is not doing the same exact thing over and over again.  Christian really enjoyed connecting the dots in a dot to dot, coloring gum balls in a gum ball machine, circling groups of like items.  Another thing I like  about the black and white worksheets is that they are not full of distractions for the child.  They are drawn simply and children can keep their focus on what they are supposed to be doing.

One thing that I wish was different is how the pages in each module are arranged.  Each of the units starts out the same with the philosophy, overview, module descriptions, instructions on how to use the guide, information about the manipulatives, classroom guide checklist, and Common Core information.  That information has to be in each module because you can choose to buy each one separately.  Then you have the instructional strategies for each module followed by the worksheets.  For me, I think it would be easier if all of the "teacher's materials" for the whole unit were together followed by all of the worksheets for the unit.  This would make it easier to print out just the necessary student worksheets without having to go through all of the instructional portions first and locate the page numbers you need to print.  

I mentioned it above, but wanted to mention again that the manipulatives that TouchMath offers are complimentary products and not required for you to purchase in order to utilize this curriculum.  If that is something that you feel would benefit your family, you can choose to purchase one or more of them, but that is completely up to you and what you feel would benefit your child the most.  The curriculum can be used with only the downloads and supplies that you already have in your house (crayons, counters, pennies, etc..) In my experience with the manipulatives over the last several weeks, they are high quality, very sturdy, and will last through multiple children for a long period of time.

The Crew reviewed all of the levels of TouchMath Pre-k-2nd grade.  Click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say.