Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Progeny Press Sarah, Plain and Tall~ REVIEW


We Love to read in this house.  Beside both couches, recliner, rocking chair and the kiddo's beanbag there are stacks and stacks of books.  I usually leave out books and readers that go along with what we are learning about in History, Science and various other subjects.  I never have to ask the kids to read....if anything I have to tell them to get their little noses out of a book. :)  We like to follow up on many of the books that we read about people, different times in History, about inventions and discoveries.  This adds a little extra work on my part, but I find that the educational benefits outweigh the pain of extra work on a Saturday night.  But, what if you didn't have to do so much extra work?  Last year I found a company that did a lot of that extra work for me.....Progeny Press.  Recently I was given the opportunity again to Review a Study Guide for them. Progeny Press is a company that provides Study Guides for Literature, from a Christian Perspective and the Study Guide they gave me to Review was Sarah, Plain and Tall.  I was so pleased to read that their mission statement is “To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!”

Progeny Press has Study Guides for over 100 different Books, from the Classics to the Popular novels of Today.  The Study Guides cover from lower elementary ages all the way up through high school....lot's to choose from. You will surely find something for every reader in your house. :)  Their prices are affordable for what you get and I was really impressed with the Quality of each of the products we have used for this review and from other purchases.

For this review we were given a digital download and honestly I normally do not like using digital because I'm a in your hands kind of Gal.  With that said, we could have printed it out.  But, these Study Guides were different then what we have ever used before.  I was able to have Kaden type right into the PDF.  Printing can be somewhat of a PAIN, so we took advantage of this Cooool feature and he typed everything right into the PDF.  Not all of the Literature Study Guides have that option, but a lot of them do.  Huge Bonus Points for having that capability!

Each of the Study Guides take approximately 4-10 weeks to finish, depending on the book and your Kiddo's ability to get through each of the lessons. They Suggest that your Kiddo read the book completely first and then work through the study guide.  Kaden did not do this, because even though he is an Advanced Reader I found that for him to get the most out of the study and to comprehend he needed to read the book along the way and have the Study Guide tie everything together. 

Each guide begins with an Overview of the book. A brief Synopsis,  information about the Author, Background Information, and Optional Pre-reading Activities.  Each Section covers 2-3 chapters of the book, our book Sarah, Plain and Tall was divided into 3 chapters each section..

The Study Guide Sections cover things like:
  • Vocabulary
  • Questions
  • Discussion and Critical Thinking Questions
  • Optional Activities
  • Digging Deeper Section
  • Supplemental Resources

We ended up getting through the Study Guides pretty quickly because like I said Kaden is an advanced reader.  We finished it all in a week....he had so much fun.  Every single day we spent reading and going through the guide together.  One of his Favorite parts was learning New Words and a few of the Optional Activities.  Even though there was a few he didn't do...he liked them all.  Kaden is notorious for loving the idea of a certain activity or experiment, but not actually doing them.  On a side not he watches tons of videos of experiments online and learns right along with them without ever getting his hands dirty.  Yes, he's actually said that to me on more then one occasion.  :)  But, anyway....having him learn New words and understand ones he already knows just a little better gives Kaden greater confidence and I see him recognizing and comparing from other areas of his schooling too.  And the hands-on activities take the learning one step further and off the page to allow your Kiddo to express their creativity and enjoy learning so much more.  

My Favorite portion was the Digging Deeper and all the Discussion Questions.  I enjoyed watching Kaden connect the dots between the story, History and his own personal world view, while seeing if it aligned with God's word.  Trust me, we had a lot of good conversations and a few light bulb moments.  I am Thankful that each Study Guide has Biblical focus.  The Questions and Discussions really does cause them to come to conclusions and make applications that they can use in Their "Real Life".

Overall, we had a Blast and plan on purchasing even more of these Study Guides to enhance our Reading Experiences.  So, there is no question really if we love this product or not.  It just works for us and our needs.  We were able to customize it to work with how Kaden learns, it's affordable, super easy to use and there are many Titles to pick from.  If you have a Motivated Reader or a reluctant Reader in your home this is worth a purchase. 

Extra Info You may want to know....

Company: Progeny Press
Products Reviewed: Sarah, Plain and Tall
Age Range: Upper Elementary/3rd grade-6th grade
Price: $17.99

Connect with Progeny Press
Progeny Press Review

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Just Another Manic Monday......

Oh my goodness, today is another Monday....I love Mondays!  I know it sounds dreadfully crazy, but I look at it as a New start.  That this will be the week to get it all done.  This will be the week the house finally gets the stamp of approval for the most clean and organized.  This is definitely the week that all the kids lessons and school projects will be done, even the extra experiments for science we have been longing to actually do and not just read about.  Each Sunday night I scamper off to bed with a big hopeful grin, because I know when I wake up I'll be greeted with a fresh new week of possibilities.
Do I sound crazy to you?  I hear crazy spewing from my brain each and every day, trust me I know I'm kidding myself.  It's like the year you thought there wasn't a Santa Clause, but you wanted to hold onto the possibility and magic of it all for just one year longer.  That is the type of madness I have rolling around in my noggin all day every day. I used to ask myself why the heck do we try to sum up our self-worth by how well our life mirrors the pages of magazine, Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards?  
It's funny really because before social media and even this blog I did so much with the kids.  Even in the beginning of my Blog the kids and I were always busy crafting, building and doing.  I snapped some pictures, but I put them in real photo albums...not online for the world to see.
It's that need for approval, or is it a way to share and educate?  I think it depends where you are in life.  My whole life I have been begging for approval, because I grew up being told I would never amount to anything.  I grew up sexually abused in and out of foster care and left homeless as a single Mom at the age of 19.  So, I chased the approval train for years.....until now.  Now I don't need anyone's approval.  I approve of myself...I"m healed from the inside out and I look at social media so differently now.  
Have you ever struggled with Social Media meaning more to you then it should?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Exhaling Moments

Kaden the other day was practicing his Spelling words on a hand held white board.  As I was busy preparing the next subject he scrolled out this little precious moment and flashed it at me.  And just like that I melted back into my seat and exhaled deeply.  
I don't know about you, but I get so caught up in the busyness of life and lists.  I have to be constantly reminded to exhale and enjoy what God has so generously given me.  It's funny because with my other two Kiddos I can drill them right along schedule and not miss a beat.  But, Kaden being on the Spectrum is a total different story.  There are many many moments that require an exhale.  And it wasn't until our Family started to heal a few years ago from addictions that I actually used those exhaling opportunities for what they were designed for.  Used to I used them to dig down deeper, work harder, stress more, add to the list and I could go on and on.  But, now those moment look different...feel different.  They renew me and give me a chance to make different choices.  Healthier choices that further Our healing.
So, I smiled at Kaden....told him I loved him and asked him what he would like to do next.  He said snuggle time with my blanket.  I put my work down, grabbed his weighted blanket and we snuggled while we exhaled.  We both needed that moment and other times in my life I would have had a hard time with it because of my Mental and physical ongoing lists that I have.  
Life doesn't have to be Perfect to be Wonderful!  Our Family is Living Proof of That!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages~ REVIEW

Middlebury Interactive Languages has given me their High School Spanish 1 course to use with Mahala.  We are so excited for this review.  We love learning new languages and lately Mahala has been on fire to learn Spanish.  Last March she went to Mexico on a Missions trip to build houses and she plans to go again this coming year too.  That said, she now has a passion to learn as much as possible so she can actually communicate with the Families she's building for.  This makes our review extra special because it was something we really needed and with so many different programs to pick from it's tricky.  We used Middlebury once before for German and we loved them, so we were ready to take another adventure with them and learn Spanish this time.

I'm hoping some of this Spanish rubs off onto me, so I can redeem myself.  Back in college I needed a foreign language and there was a Spanish class open at the perfect time between my other classes.  The teacher was amazing....I loved him.  We had themed lunches, outings as a class and the lectures were never boring.  The only problem was that I could never seem to pass the class.  I took it not once or twice, but threeeeeeeeee times. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

USAopoly Games~ REVIEW

This post is going to be a fun one to write!   Because just a few weeks ago our Family was Blessed with the opportunity to Review not one....but two Awesome games.  You know we LOVE games around here.  I use them for those moments when I'm trying to get dinner finished, for teaching during our school time, cheer up a sad Kiddo, past the time when it's bad weather outside and let's not forget those fun Family Game Nights!!!  USAopoly graciously gave us Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone in exchange for Our Family's opinion.  (Each Retail for $19.95)

Once we opened our shipping box the Kiddos were eager to play ASAP.  We quickly opened both up and decided to play Wonky first because Tapple needed batteries.   So, while Dad was off in search for a couple of batteries we were mesmerized by the brightly colored wooden blocks that would put any block stacking game to shame.  These blocks weren't just pretty and vibrant they were specially shaped to give you a Unique game playing experience every single time you play.  You see each of the 9 blocks are 1 of 3 different colors and have "wonky" edges that make it extra interesting when your trying to stack them. :)  

So, let me give you an overview of playing the game.  The Kiddos and I gathered around the table and we arranged the blocks in the middle.  We each got 7 cards and the cutest was the first to go....that would be Kaden!  Once it's your turn you lay down one of your cards that will instruct you in what size and color block to play or you can use one of the "gotcha" cards.  That's what we call them....that would be one of the reverse or a pass card.  Those are great to have when you don't want to place a block. ;)  If you can't play a card then you draw one.  And if the tower falls on you within the count of 3 you have to pick up 3 cards.  The Winner is the one who goes out first or the one who can stack all 9 blocks....Mahala has done this only once!!!  Yay her!!!!  

http://i1202.photobucket.com/albums/bb374/TOSCrew2011/-2015%20CREW/Tapple20Fast20Word20Fun20for20Everyone_zpsvdov2ssb.jpgTapple is super fun too!  I played more of this game with them during school....oddly enough I don't have a picture that didn't come out too dark and blurry, sorry about that.  But, non the less we played this game by the rules and we even came up with our own.  First I'll tell you the given directions.  Tapple does not come with a box, but the little cards fit neatly inside the actual game unit.  Great for keeping up with everything!!  
So, to start you want to pick a card, one side is a little easier then the other and there is 2 to choose from on each side.  Once you have chosen you say it out loud and hit the Red button that starts the 10second timer.  As fast as you can you need to say something that relates to the category picked that starts with a letter on one of the tiles not pressed down.  Once you say the answer you click the letter tile down, push the Red button and pass it to the next person.  And of course they repeat the process.  If a person can not say something and push the tile down before the 10 seconds then they are out for the rest of the game.  The Winner is the last one standing.

We decided to bring this into the classroom for some extra fun.  Mahala and Kaden played by making up their own categories.  We used this for both Science and History.  They also made up their own version of hangman by using the Tapple Wheel.  It was really cute to see them thinking outside the box.  And I was pleased to see that the Tapple Wheel encouraged them to be creative. :)
Here is the part where I tell you if we liked the Review Item or not.  Well, we Loved them!!!  They both were HIGH QUALITY products....from the packaging, the product and their storage capability.  Both games came with cards and they were sturdy and high glossed, so you could wipe them down if you needed to. :)  We buy tons of games....these were extremely affordable based on the quality of the products, the amount of hours the actual games will provide your Family and the fact that these games can be played by just about any Human Person no matter your age.  

You know, Kaden has Autism and sometimes there are a few changes we need to make for him to enjoy as much as us, but honestly he played with no modifications.  His motor skills are poor, so Wonky was a challenge, but it was a welcomed challenge.  He didn't get frustrated, but I can see where if the tower constantly falls it may be discouraging.  And if your Kiddo is sensitive to sound you can build your tower on a place mat.  After we forewarned Kaden he knew to expect it from then on out.  If we had to pick one over the other the Kids and I both agreed that Wonky was our Favorite!!!

That's about it. both of these will be among our favorites for a long long time.  
Don't forget to check USAopoly on Social Media!!!
 USAopoly Review

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Super Teacher Worksheets~ REVIEW

I spend a pretty big chunk of my time teaching the kids and preparing for their various subjects.  I love whole curriculum sets for the most part, but I love unit studies too.  So, I kind of do a mixture of both.  With that said I'm always looking for supplements for our unit studies and extra work for the kiddos to take along with them when we have days on the go.  I have heard of Super Teacher Worksheets back a few years ago, so when I was given the chance to Review their Individual Membership for a full year I had a skip in my step for days because I was so excited.   Super Teacher Worksheets is an amazing resource for both Homeschool and Brick and Morter Teachers.  With this one website for only $19.95 a year you have access to over 10,000 different worksheets on so many subjects and topics from grades K-5th(some can be used for a little older) you may never have to Pin something to an online board again! :)


Here is a run down on the categories and once you open up a category there will be a ton of subcategories. 

Reading and Writing

Phonics and Early Literacy



Spelling Lists(K-5)


Social Studies


Puzzles and Brain Teasers

Teacher Helpers

Pre-K and Kindergarten
And......Your Very Own Worksheet Generator!!!

For instance when you open Math you will see a huge list to chose from the first is Addition.  You click open Addition and then you are brought to another list to narrow down your search to exactly what your looking for.  So, you will see Basic Addition, Multi-digit Addition, Adding decimals and Fractions, More Addition and a See Also section.  Lot's to pick from right?  Let's say you Picked Basic Addition...once you click it then you will see sever Addition Games to download or print.  There are Flashcards, Addition Basic Concept sheets, Puzzles, Mystery Pictures, Addition Drills and also Basic Addiction Worksheet Generators to customize what you need.  And the there is still a see more portion and with all that mention you can see which ones line up with Common Core if that's important to you, You can even translate some of them into Spanish, you can download and or print right away.  Another Fabulous feature that I Super Love is the File Cabinet Option.  I spend a little of my weekend downtime each week to peruse a few of the subjects that I need to add to for the following week or a few weeks in advance and when I run across something I can just shoot it over to the filing cabinet until I'm ready to download and or print.  Isn't that too cool?  I have found this to be one of my Favorite things with Super Teacher Worksheets.

I have used just about every Subject...I can't get over the quality of the worksheets, games and puzzles.  I'm also thankful how easy it is to navigate the website and to find exactly what I'm looking for.  One of my Favorite things we use each week is the Spelling Lists with Kaden.  This has been so helpful during my day.  Not only do I get my lists each week, but Kaden loves the Fix the Misspelled Words Worksheets and the alphabetizing one too.  Since we are going on a 3 month long road trip next Summer we also have been using the 50 States worksheets and all the Games and Maps I can cram in each day. :)

So, what do I think?  Well, this is a Review that I don't think you really need to even ask me that question.  Of course this is an amazing treasure trove and I feel mighty blessed to have been able to have this in my homeschool for the next year.  The yearly price of $19.95 makes this Super affordable.  You can knock off 3 coffee house trips the rest of this month and save enough to get this for your Kiddos.  Honestly this is more like a treat for You!!!  I promise you...this will make your homeschooling life easier while your planning out your future weeks or when your schedual changes unexpectedly and all you need is a few color sheets and some fun Grammar to get you though the day.

To read more Reviews click on the Banner below and don't forget to check Super Teachers Worksheets out on Social Media.


Super Teacher Worksheets Review
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Stinky Kid Math ~REVIEW

We had the opportunity to Review a Math Supplement for the past several weeks.  This time it was for Mahala.  She has struggled with Algebra for a long time now and honestly am a little worried.  So, when I was presented the chance to try Stinky Kid Math from Stinky Kid Math I was like sign me up...this is something for us over here.  :)   photo Stinky Kid Math Logo_zpstzvcwjls.png

What's nice about this particular program is that it's Not a full curriculum.  Right now it's an online Math program that is designed basically to be a supplement to what you already have your child doing for math.   This video streaming service does offer some great worksheets that you will find connected with many of the videos, Love that!!!  This program covers both Algebra and Geometry, Mahala had no issues at all in the Geometry department.  So, our focus was the Algebra!!!
Right now she is using an online and workbook program for Math.  She uses it 5 days a week.  During the review period we decided each day she would start off with the Stinky Kid Math first and then continue with her normal Math routine.  Each day she would log on and basically move through section by section.  I know she's almost 16 with a bad case of undiagnosed ADD.  But, she just couldn't focus on the Teachers.  The zoo background and coffee shop were all too interesting I guess and her attention was always redirected to what was going on besides the words coming out of the Teachers mouth.  Some were better then others, but I will say that we Loved how we could go back and re-watch and had control of what we watched.  It was nice to see a real person and their facial expressions, but I think our Family needs a white board, monotone voice to get the facts.  I know....we must be weird! :)  Most days she would use the search bar and look for specific issues she was having,  And since the videos were fairly short she was able to watch 2 or 3 each morning and still have time to finish all her other work on time.  Most lessons have three components to them....the Video, Worksheets with Answer Key and some Games to play.
So, what did we think?  Well, like I said she had a hard time staying focused on the actual video.  She didn't retain what was being taught and need to watch it a few times.  For us at this point in her education I need to stick with a Math curriculum only and not sprinkle in too many extras.  I will say that Kaden who is 8years old Loved it, but he only listened to the videos.  With his Autism and sensory issues the videos were also distracting.  But, he wrote down pages of notes and diagrams.

I would recommend this program to a child that needs some extra tutoring or fine tuning in the Math This would be great for a child without Sensory issues or Attention issues.  This is strictly my own opinions.  The quality is great, it just didn't work with my Family.  Make sure to check out all the other Reviews by clicking down below and reach out to them on Social Media!
Crew Disclaimer
Stinky Kid Math Review

Sunday, September 13, 2015

When Things Look Out of Control....

I Quickly wanted to share one of my Favorite Quotes that I heard a few years ago.  “God wont Protect You from What He will Perfect You through”.
This gave me a world of comfort and relief….I knew God had my life under control, even if at times it didn’t look like it to me.  Like that whole Tapestry story…..underneath the huge needlepoint tapestry is a huge mess of strings and tangled knots.  So many stray colors and lengths of thread, you couldn’t make out heads or tails of what the picture on the other side looks like.  But, when you walk around to the front you see the Beauty of His masterpiece.  It’s clear now….the storms are calm….You are His Masterpiece.  And He has created You for His work, to Love Him, to Live for Him, to Trust Him.
Your life may look like a mess now, but I promise God has a plan…..just Believe and have Faith.  Sending you all Love from my Heart and Praying Daily for You all……

Friday, September 11, 2015

Breakfast for Daddy

Kaden is still doing fine around here...knock on wood.  :)  We have been making little changes here and there and trying to be as consistent as possible for his daily routine.  We had a few extra things to do this week that wasn't in the plans...but, we were able to give enough notice to smooth right over the possible bumps and meltdown craziness.
One of the things we had going on this week was my Husband's Birthday.  Kaden was so excited about it and wanted to surprise Dad with an omelet breakfast.  Yep, he was the sweetest little helper and I must say he was focused and willing to participate in every area of the morning.

He cleaned and sliced mushrooms, made the spinach, shredded the cheese. stirred the eggs and poured them and flipped the omelet before he put it all on the plate.  He even walked it up while I brought the coffee and we served Daddy in bed.  I was so proud of him for showing love and compassion...he struggles with that.  But, today he was a super star and we all told him how proud we were of his hard work and participation in Dad's special day.  
Here are a few pics, I'll post more of that day later. :)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Old Normal Needs to Change

My sweet Kaden....I love that little cutie so much.  The struggle lies in his meltdowns.  I can live with the developmental delays, the quirkiness of his personality and I can even handle the lack of personal hygiene.  The thrashing his body around, hitting himself and throwing himself down the stairs....not so much.  He is almost 9 yrs old and not one broken bone yet....knock on wood.  But, I fear the day is coming that we can't protect him from himself.  What will we do in 8 years and another 75lbs?  
I talked with his ABA person yesterday and she knew this talk was coming....she's predicted it for 4 years now.  I refuse to put him anywhere, even for a few hours.  We are planning for the future when Dad and I wont be here, so he has money.  I know his Sister will be the one to take care of him.  She has loudly voiced that she gets him at her house and not Skylar's.  Kaden is closer with Mahala, so I can easily understand that.
I'm not saying he needs full time babysitting for the rest of his life.  But, in the past almost 5 years of testing, therapy and education Kaden is still consistently the same.  He's super smart, but socially and emotionally he has deficits.  They other day he misspelled alligator, by forgetting the second L.  He was so upset, started pacing the floors and slapping himself.  I tried to move on and expressed how it was a common thing to forget the other L.  No biggie, let's do something fun now?!?!?!?!  PLEASE!!!! :) :)
Nope, he went up the stairs kicking his feet along the wall.  Once upstairs he started throwing himself down, not even trying to catch himself.  The whole time he was crying and asking God over and over why he was so stupid.  That he should have never been born.  After letting him fall 3 times we stepped in.  We waited 3 times, because we try not to over react to this kind of behavior.  But, honestly this is not a typical tantrum.....he is mentally tortured with these emotions.  A typical tantrum a child is either wanting something or is trying to get out of something.  Kaden's meltdowns revolve around something new in his environment, a last minute change that's out of my control or when he feels like a failure.  And that can be as simple as his sheet coming off by accident in the middle of the night.  Yes, this has happened in the middle of the night and we were up dealing with his meltdown half asleep and scared to death.
So, back to the other day....after the 3rd time Skylar and Hubby had to restrain him.  Over an hour of Kaden fighting, pulling and pushing he decided to melt.  He literally rested for 3 minutes and then started talking about a character in one of the books we are reading.  The guys just look at each other dripping in sweat and wonder what the heck, but thank you Lord that Kaden is back with us.  Because when he is in meltdown mode you hardly recognize him.  It's so scary.....this is the part I hate about Autism. 
As he comes down the stairs with a stretched out shirt and sweaty hair I recognize his sweet little smile....my Baby is back.  He asks for some water and if we can play legos.  All of this like nothing has ever happened.  It takes us a little while, but we go back to normal.  But, it's traumatic....it's a crazy life.  But, I am so thankful God gave me him....I would never for a minute want him to be someone elses Baby Boy.  I just want to keep him safe....we Love our sweet Kaden.  We are going to go back to a strict gluten free diet again.  He did better when we were consistent with this.  During the Summer we have been lazy with that, eating gluten foods here and there.  I'm also looking into a few other types of therapy.  Pray with us as we tighten down around here.  Change is hard, pray for Kaden as we try new things over the next few months.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mayan Mysteries Online from Dig-It! Games ~REVIEW


I'm thrilled to be able to share our experience with Mayan Mysteries from Dig-It! Games with you.  We were given the opportunity to Review it the past several weeks.  As you know Kaden is crazy about the computer, games and History facts.  How could this be any better?  Well, I could love playing it too......and guess what?  I do enjoy playing right along with him. :)   This game is recommended for Kiddos in grades 5th-9th.  There is Heavy Reading involved in this game and for younger Kiddos or those with learning disabilities they may need extra time and help.  I love the option they offer to have the passages read to you.  

I don't usually enjoy online games, but will occasionally help Kaden out from time to time especially if they are educational games.  But, this game has definitely caught my attention.  Right from the start the graphics were amazing and the story line is easy to follow and exciting.  Right from the start the main characters Fiona and Charlie are on an adventure with their Uncle Alex.  The game revolves around the excavation of the Mayan ruins.  As soon as the game begins you are introduced to the characters and get to know a little about their lives.  It sets the stage for the game and then the fun begins!!  

At first I had Kaden working alone, but since he is behind mentally a tad, even though he reads many years past his current grade.  The length of reading was difficult.  He could read it all, but when I would check on his comprehension it wasn't sticking.  If I read only a few sentences and then checked his comprehension it was much better.  We were able to modify the game to where it worked for him, that's important with a Kiddo with special needs.  He was getting frustrated in the beginning, but once I decided to read it to him or play the sound on the game and have them narrate it to him it was all good.  I have to add too that the voice was nice and clear and not weird robotic sounding!  YAY!!! For Kaden I just needed to slow it down and constantly make sure he was getting what he was reading.  

There are so many cool things to this game, layers and layers of interesting information regarding the ancient Mayan people, culture and customs.  We walked away truly more educated then I thought possible.  Kaden loves facts and the game aspect makes learning all these facts fun and I believe helps them retain what they have learned easier then just reading about it in a book.  I wished they had a game for a few more topics! :)  Once you install it your Kiddos are going to be able to power through many fun filled levels, score some hefty achievements, collect ancient artifacts, scare off crazy Looters and so much more.  Kaden's favorite was shopping and looking for items in the market and out in the gig site.  He enjoyed matching counting, matching and deciphering.  He literally wanted me to do out math lessons coded, just so he could decipher them. 

So, what did we think?  We both enjoyed it.  I can see why this is geared towards Middle school Kiddos, but with the audio option it works for the younger Kiddos too with a little guidance and assistance.  Is is worth it?  I believe so if your child is a reader, loves History, if you are looking for a supplement to what you are using.  Even just to have your Kiddos learning instead of playing mindlessly on a Saturday afternoon this is worth it.  I personally plan to have him go through it once more after we finish it the first time.  I look forward to looking at other game options from Dig-It! Games too.
Stop by and see what Dig-It! Games is up to.

Dig-It! Games Review

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Sixes

I used to do this thing called My Sixes once a week.  So, here is a Blast from the past...... 

Six things I could live without, but really wouldn’t want to:
Flat iron for my hair
Make up
Flip Flops

Six movies I’ve never seen before:
Star Wars....close your mouth, it's ok
Mission Impossible...any of them
The Godfather Series

Six of my pet peeves:
Hearing someone crunch chips
People who do not move when an ambulance is coming
The sound wrappers make when people crinkle them
When people think I mean something I don't and they want let me explain what I do mean
Stains on my shirt even when I am so careful when I eat

Six things I really love doing:
Playing games with my kids
Having my hair done
Did I mention shopping!?!?!

Six things I was into as a kid:
Strawberry short cake
Slip N Slide
My little pony

Six things I was into as a teenager:
Football games
New Kids on the Block

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Bento Kind of Week

Bentos this week so far!  I took a few weeks off and Kaden acted like I was depriving him of Fresh water.  This Kiddo is Crazzzzzzy about Bentos.  Can you blame him though.  Everything is Bite size and cute.  It's easy to eat and usually there is no mess.  He is a Boy child.  And you know a Boy Child can be a little on the messy side and clean up is not their favorite thing to do.  Actually that might be just a "child" thing :D

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Conversation~ REVIEW

I nearly broke my keyboard when I was filling out the request information to Review The Conversation($16 on sale for $12 at the time this post was published) written by Leigh A. Bortins from Classical Conversations.  I was so curious and excited I waited several days with crossed fingers until the book arrived.  Why was I a crazy mess?  Well, because even though I have already homeschooled one child through highschool and he is at the end of his 2nd year in college I'm still running scared half the time.  Mahala officially starts 10th grade this month.....she's so different, both in her learning style and her capabilities.  How am I going to do this again?  I ask myself that daily and it usually comes with a lot of negative self-talk.  That being said, this book couldn't have come at a better time.  We have had a difficult past 3 years to be perfectly honest and structure and planned education hasn't even been a thought around here.  But, a new season of life is among us and it's time to focus and do what I know the Lord has called our Family to do.  And that's to educate our children and guide them into adulthood with his word.  I want them to enjoy learning and see every opportunity as a new learning experience.  The Conversation is apart of a Trio of books, this one being the 3rd one.  It talks a little about the other books, but it's main focus is this last phase in Classical Education.....the Rhetoric stage.  It's not a big deal if you haven't read the other two books, but after this one I'm sure you will want to take a look at the other two.  I know that's how I'm feeling right about now. :)

Leigh A. Bortins shares that a Classical Education focuses on the art of Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.  Being very eclectic in my schooling style I find it very interesting how appealing this approach is to me.  I'm running around and teach by the seat of my pants most of the time.  You could call it Chaotic Schooling at times.  Anyway it was great to also notice the things that we are already doing that would classify our schooling style a little more classical then I had thought.  Classical education immerses the younger Elementary aged Kiddos in the Grammar level.  This entails learning to read, memorizing dates, facts, grammar rules and so forth.  The Dialectic level is perfect for the Middle School aged Kiddos because this is the time when they naturally question EVERYTHING.  The last level in Classical Education is the Rhetoric phase and this of course begins in the High School years.  You know this is the time when speaking and writing properly become daily routine in and out of the school room. 

One of the things that I took from this book was what high school at home can and should look like.  I am sooooo guilty of trying to recreate the public school room or plan.  I will get caught up in the need to cross off everything on the list and getting wrapped up in that and not the beauty of learning that's going on right in front of me.  I have to remind myself daily that our world is the classroom.  That's where real-life opportunities and experiences happen, not behind a workbook in a desk. I love schooling this way, but growing up in the school system sometimes automatically steps in and I do what I was trained to think was right. 

Mahala is officially a High School student and I remember looking at Classical Education before and feeling really confused about what my role was and what it was supposed to look like for her.  Leigh goes into extreme details on what the Rhetoric phase should look like for virtually every subject.  She shares the five canons (as defined by Aristotle) that students in this stage of learning should work towards mastering.....Invention, Arrangement, Elocution/Style, Memory, and Delivery.  Do you even know what all that means?  I didn't, so don't feel bad if you just gulped really loudly. :)  But, don't worry she goes over everything in detail....the whole second part of the book focuses on how to teach reading, speech and debate, writing, science, math, government/economics, history, Latin and foreign languages, and fine arts during the Rhetoric phase.

Are you excited yet?  I am....I would recommend this book to anyone looking into Homeschooling or if you have been schooling for years like me.  I have been scratching my head a lot lately wondering what I;m doing wrong.  Within her book I have found encouragement, guidance and passion again to take my authority back and do what I know the Lord called me to do.  This book would be a great read no mater what your teaching style is.  
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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back to Reality

So much to say and so little time to say it.  That is truly the story of my life.  We just got home from 10 days of camping and softball Nationals.  It was a whirl wind of both fun and survival.  It was cold, rainy, hot, long peppered with loosing games and meltdowns.  All in all though it was a trip I will never forget.  There were lessons learned and courses in life changed.  A lot can happen in 10 days.....now I have garbage bags of clothes that are calling my name and somehow some way I have to try to get some Back to School pep in our step.  :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UnLock Math~ Review

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I know I'm about to sound like a broken record, but if I was a Super Hero....Math would be my Arch Nemesis!  I have a huge mental block and that's not a good thing when you are Homeschooling a High Schooler.  That being said, Mahala suffers from the same mental block.  She get's overwhelmed, shuts down, gets angry and then gives up.  We have tried a few Math programs here and there and was happy to Review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math.  ($299 a year or $49 each month)  Mahala's math history really started out smoothly.  It wasn't until Algebra that she started to have some difficulty.  And after a whole year of it she was 100% lost.  And we realized earlier this year that she had some definite gaps that needed to be fixed if she was going to see success.  And now enters UnLock Pre-Algebra.

Here is a little Sneak Peak at what your Kiddo will be learning......
Whole Numbers
Variables and Expressions
Rational Numbers
The Coordinate Plane
2D geometry
3D Geometry
Analyzing Data
Probability & Stats
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At first we started using it a few days a week along with her Summer math that she has been working on.  But, after a week or 2 we decided to stop her current program afterwards to just focus full time 4-5 days a week on the UnLock Pre-Algebra.

UnLock Pre-Algebra is geared for Kiddos in 7th grade+ and has 16 Units that could take roughly 9 months to get through if.  Since some of this has been a review for Mahala she has zipped through a few sections a little faster then if it was her first time learning.  Though I have encouraged her to take it slow and store what she's learning deep into her Noggin! :)  Mahala does well with physically writing down new information and seems to retain it better when doing so.  One of the Fun extras with UnLock Pre-Algebra is the fact that you are able to see a fully explained answer for any of the problems your Kiddo completes and there are reference notes.  On new concepts that clicks with Mahala or that she has struggled with in the past she copies these in her Math notebook.  

So, let me tell you real quick how this looks....Mahala logs onto her Personalized Dashboard each day.  And then that's where she gets to pick what lesson she wants to work on and then begins a short warm-up session.  You know....to get the blood pumping to her brain!!!!  Afterwards she get's the "Meat" she's been craving, by watching one of the videos for that day's lesson taught by Alesia Blackwood.  These videos are captivating, energetic and not all sugary or watered down.  That's why I called it the "Meat".  After you watch the video your Kiddos will now be instructed to work on the provided practice problems along with a quick review and a challenge problem.

Will we continue using UnLock Pre-Algebra?  We will definitely continue this course and will be looking into UnLock Algebra and Algebra2.  Mahala and I both enjoyed that it was an actually person teaching and not a cartoon or just a voice.  She felt like it was easier to stay focused and actually connect with the concept being taught.  Another highlight was the process of learning the concept and that it's very independent.  Having everything divided into chunks or pieces made it flow and easy to keep up with.  And having the automatic grading and progress reports made my life insanely easier.  Did Mahala reach some sort of "Light Bulb" moment?  Well, I think she has been able to see where her mistakes are, her Dad and I have been able to see exactly where the hick-ups are.  I feel like with UnLock Pre-Algebra she will be able to get to where she needs to be to finish out the last few years of High School math....that's good enough for me!

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Expanders from SimplyFun~ REVIEW

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In our home we enjoy playing games as a Family, especially educational ones.  We probably substitute book work for a games 3-4 times a week.  This is easy to do with absolutely every subject and I find that it gives Kiddos the platform to use what they have learned and strengthen new skills.  Recently we decided to Review a Math game called Expanders from SimplyFun.  I remember looking at their website and smiling....they are passionate and committed to offering your Family quality, educational games.  You can't ask for anything more. :)  Expanders($34) is approved for ages 3 to 103...so it fits a broad audience.  I was pleased to see that I enjoyed it as much as Kaden did.  That's key when you are a Family that loves games, it has to be fun for everyone.  The best part about this game is watching your Kiddos learn Reverse Addition, Spatial Reasoning and Critical Thinking while having LOADS of fun!  SimplyFun has over 90 affordable products for your Family to enjoy, so you have to check out their website.  

The game is designed for up to four people, but so far it's just been Kaden and I to play it.  It comes in a sturdy box and has a cute little pouch to store all the brightly colored plastic tokens.  Setting up the game is pretty simple, you have a border and 5 "circuit boards" to arrange in the middle.  I was pleased that the directions were easy to follow and getting started was a breeze.  You do need to make sure that all players have basic knowledge of their addition facts before they start playing.  After you have your token color the game starts off with 3 set moves that have to be done before you have freedom to do 1 of 3 different actions.  Once all that is done then move 4 is the player's choice and they will need to use strategy to block their opponent's tokens.  The object of the game is to get rid of all your tokens by filling the board with your own tokens.  You want to find the most Expanded math problem possible to take up as much of the board as possible. 

For example, you could choose to cover the numbers 8 and 1 to equal 9.....that would be putting 3 tokens on to the board. But, we are looking to use up all our tokens, so you could place down 5 tokens on the board if you place a token over the numbers 2, 3, 3, and 1 to equal 9.  Remember it is better to expand the mathematical problem as much as you can. :) 

So, what did we think about this game?  Well, we loved it....it was fun, Kaden was able to practice everyday mathematics and we were able to spend time together making new memories.  It honestly can't get ANY better.  We played this game a few times a week, I appreciated that it was a pretty quick game.  I'll be the first to admit the longer 2 hour strategy games just don't always fit into our schedule.  We could set up and play a game between bath time and bed time, total time 25 minutes.  The other day he set it all up while I was cleaning up the kitchen.  After I was done cleaning we each had some yummy lemonade and played a couple games.  Fun times with my Kiddos....I live for it and the fact that I can add a little education makes Momma real happy!! :)  I think any Family should have this in their game closet, it will be a game that your Kiddos ask to play.  

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